Inspired By vol. 1: MOIST, a Canadian Rock Band

Who would have thought a novel about defeating a dark and evil Mountain would have been inspired by a ’90s alternative rock band from Canada? Not me.

Well, it was. A portion of it anyway.

There were several sources of inspiration: Stephen King’s writings, particularly The Dark Tower; other Canadian musicians including, Matthew Good / MGB, and I Mother Earth; and of course, even my own life experiences.

Moist, my favorite band of all time.

Moist is from Vancouver and started back when Nirvana, Soundgarden, Candlebox, Collective Soul, etc. ruled the airwaves. Somehow their debut album ended up my most played record during High School. My best friend bought it after seeing a clip of “Push” on Beavis and Butthead, forced me to borrow his cassette tape of Silver, of which I promptly copied, wore out, then immediately purchased as a CD (with “Push” VHS tape included) from the local Newbury Comics days later.

I’ve been a fan of Moist and David Usher (as a solo artist) ever since.

So what’s up with Moist and The Dark Mountain?

First, the color silver appears throughout my novel. The protagonist sees “silver light” when his power activates—the power to see into the stories of other people and even an object’s history.

Second, is the term “crallow bird.” Even from the most early drafts, I always envisioned a black bird on the hero’s shoulder. One that could talk and tell stories. The bird needed a name, which I nailed with “Ogle.” But the bird also needed to be a species, and due to its silver beak and silvery air-brushed black feathers (see more silver), I figured out that it was an imaginary species. Thus I realized the lyric “crallow bird,” from the Moist song “Freaky Be Beautiful” would be perfect.

Third, and most prominent point: “Nauselbaum.” I’ve had a few people ask me what this word is and what it means. In my novel, I actually give the word a definition, but the history of where it comes from and what it really means is still mysterious even to me. I used to be a member of the Moist Fan Club and at the end of every newsletter Kevin Young (keyboard player) would use that word at the end of the main article. One major theme in my novel is “storytelling,” and this word is used at the end of the horror stories that the protagonist experiences. Once he hears this word, it sort of pulls him back into reality and makes the horrors he felt seem distant and far away—it actually pushes them into a dark corner of his mind…which comes up later and is kind of a spoiler, but oh well.

I’m not even sure if the band has this word copyrighted/trademarked or not. I should probably look into that. But if you’re curious here’s how the crallow bird, Ogle, defines the word when he is asked what it means by our hero (he defines it like reciting a poem):

So, we’ve reached the end,

The last word has been read.

Now, may you sleep without warning,

In restful dreams of peace and beauty.

Pray goodnight, dear friend, and see you in the morning.

 Other Moist tidbit

Did you know my first ever published work was in the Moist Fan Club newsletter? It was a Haiku, that was entered into a contest. I was the American fan that won, but I never actually got my prize. Oh well sort of, until I saw Moist in concert for the first time in Montreal this week and came very close to David Usher when he walked through the crowd (and this was like 20 years later or something crazy). Here’s the poem I wrote for the newsletter (at least this is how I remember it—I got it packed away somewhere, along with all my other Moist stuff):

Frowning willow tree

Moist apetalous flowers cry

A lonely wind blows.

Hmm, that’s not exactly a correct Haiku now that I notice. Well, I never said I was the best at writing.

Learn more about my debut novel, The Dark Mountain here.

Learn more about Moist and their new album here.

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Inkshares Preview #10 – The Dark Mountain by M. Robert Randolph

TCC Edwards, thank you for checking out my novel. Hope we can both be Inkshares novelist some day soon. 🙂

Write, or Else!

The Dark Mountain by M. Robert Randolph is currently running in the Inkshares 2017 Horror Contest!

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Dark Mountain follows 8-year-old Mikey as he seeks a way into the world of dreams. He discovers the magical island of Epotus, where he encounters magical creatures and learns of the threats to the land. A literal mountain of darkness is approaching Epotus, and Mikey must face and defeat it.

I found the preview very intriguing and full of metaphor and imagery. I think this book will be absolutely amazing when it is released. Check out The Dark Mountain now!

<– Go back to the list of Inkshares previews


Help me kickstart my writing career and get a great sci-fi novel!

Cover with Title - ink

Far Flung, my sci-fi epic that’s in the Top 50 of the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, is in funding now.

Be sure to read the preview chapters & tell me what…

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It’s All in the Name

I never meant to call it by its name.

When I first started writing my novel, and I reached the part where I introduced the true antagonist, I used a space holder description for it. I used a space holder name. The Dark Mountain.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Stephen King, and that yes, I’ve read all of the Dark Tower novels, and that yes, they are pretty much my favorite books. But I never meant the Dark Mountain to be seen as a clone or rip-off of his work. In fact, I did all I could to not use that name. Although the mountain in my story does go by another name (eventually, near the end, the reader will learn its true name), I still needed to keep its ominous presence in the reader’s mind. The Dark Mountain was the perfect fit.

And I also didn’t want my story to be about the Mountain. I wanted it to be about the strength to fight it.

In it’s very early stages, my novel was titled, Down Came Your Black Bird. This title it basically a lyric from one of the songs that inspired the book (I plan to write about the different works that inspired the novel one of these days). But as I completed my first draft, and started rewriting and revising, I discovered that one of the artifacts my hero finds actually had a name. For the longest time this object was simply referred to as ‘the gem’, or ‘Ogle’s silver brooch’. But once if realized its name, I simply had to change the title of the novel to match it. That why I called my book Wings of the Crallow.

The Wings of the Crallow, to me, represents the strength in all of us to battle our own personal demons. Whether that’s past abuse, drug use, mental illness, sadness, depression…whatever. Those pains are symbolized in the Dark Mountain—a literal mountain of darkness, which must be overcome by our heroes. The Wings of the Crallow is the key. Well, sort of. It’s really more like a placebo. It doesn’t really have power itself—like it doesn’t actually shoot out lasers or fireballs or something. It’s just a cool item for my hero to wear. I also dreamed for years that the item would be the main image seen on the book’s cover. But now that I’ve changed the name for the third time (and I think this time I did get it right), the cover and tone of my story need to change.

Now it’s all about the darkness. The conflict. And the tension of whether this will all be overcome. This Bringer of Plagues. This Taker of Souls.

This Dark Mountain.

The Lord of Rings is by no means, is the story of Sauron. He’s barely in it, right? The story is about the journey of a fellowship who hope to stop this evil lord from ruling all the lands. The Dark Tower is the place where Roland is headed. He is always moving on, following the beam, toward the Tower. And in my story, Michael Conall, aims to hide from his reality…then chooses to try and hide from himself…before finally realizing he must face what he’s been running from his whole life: The Dark Mountain.

So there you have it. The new name of my novel. And with it, I’ve got a new book cover designed by Kaytalin Platt, author of Inkshares novel, The Living God (buy a copy already!). I laid out my new, basic ideas for the cover and she delivered a great design, one much better that I could have made on my own. I’m really happy with the new design and the novel’s new name. I’m glad I changed it now. I don’t think anyone will confuse my book with any other. It’s a very unique reading experience that will probably pass under the radar. But I really hope it doesn’t, at least not for very long…

Nauselbaum,

M.R.R.

Wings of the Crallow – Experimental Fiction Novel

This blog was always meant to document the steps I’ve taken to get published. My milestones. My mistakes. Rejection after rejection. So, I’m trying something different. I’m playing the “crowdfunding” card and attempting to reach 750 pre-orders on Inkshares.com. It’s not my first attempt at publishing and it probably won’t be the last.

Can I do it? Well, not without your help. And the help of everyone you know. And the help of everyone they know. And so on…and so on…

The first step now…is figuring out what the heck this book even is. What genre is it? Is there even a category built into the Inkshares database that I can use? What the heck have I been writing all this time? What is this beast I’ve created? Looking at it now, I feel like Dr. Frankenstein–I’ve created a monster!

I went to Barnes & Nobles recently to figure out what “shelf” my book would land on, theoretically.

Did you know that at B&N, almost all fiction is now simply listed under Fiction/Literature? How dare they?! The only specific shelves I found at my nearest store’s location were Mystery and Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

That’s it.

So my book would end up somewhere lost in the main Fiction section. So when putting my novel up for pre-order (Yes, please place your order today at: WingsoftheCrallow.com), I chose Experimental Fiction.

Based on what little research I did, this category is for books that mash-up genres; that jump between timelines and character POVs; that have jarring transitions and use of symbolic images. My book has all this and then some.

So, instead of shoehorning my novel into Fantasy or Horror where there are billions competing for attention, I’ve decided to sit over here in the corner by myself, with my unique little Experimental Fiction novel. I’ll just be chillin’ here. Alone. But whatever. I’m used to it. Like in high school when I used to eat lunch by myself. It don’t bother me none.

I wrote a book unlike any other. I wrote it so people could read it. But is anyone even going to pay attention? Probably not. But whatever. I’m used to it.

Pre-order my novel today, even if it’s out of pity. I won’t complain.

Nauselbaum.

M.R.R.

Nearing the Final Draft / Inkshares Idea

Something I realized fairly recently. My final draft isn’t really my final draft. What I mean is, I told several people I know that I “finished” my novel. It was done. Time to get a publishing deal, right? What’s crazy is I really believed it. I had it critiqued. I had it edited. I had it proofread. Done. But no, I suddenly realized something was missing. I had a plot hole.

Well, it wasn’t a very big hole, but by filling it, I created a much richer tale and a more satisfying reason for my hero to take his journey. Everything was fine before, but it wasn’t great. Now it’s much better. I won’t say it’s great (just yet) because, well, there might be something else I missed.

And it wasn’t just the plot hole. There were these small little pieces of descriptions, little incidents that happened in my story that were remnants of sub-plots or other actions that got re-written, re-drafted, or completely deleted. Most people might not think anything of it when reading, but for me these are little irritants like an itch you can’t scratch. I keep finding them, like pennies stuck between the wall and carpet. How do these keep getting here? Where’d they come from? Sentences written from my first draft are still in here, untouched. Eww.

So now I’ve got the vacuum out and I intend on getting them all up. Hopefully.

And to celebrate…I’ve announced the title of my book and posted my awesome idea on Inkshares! Check it out! Hopefully, I’ll be ready to upload drafts and take pre-orders soon.

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Wings of the Crallow

© Copyright 2016 M. Robert Randolph

Tearing Up a Dream – Part 1: The Sandbox and the Silver Shuffle

It was the moment I thought I’d made it. Creative. Artistic. Enigmatic. A cool-sounding alliteration. Exactly what my story needed. The perfect opening to my novel: Chapter 1 – The Sandbox and the Silver Shuffle.

At least, that what I thought. And for years it remained that way. Until recently.

I lost count, but I’m at about number 20 or so in on my rejection letters. Fine. It is what it is. I never really set my sights on getting selling my book that quickly. From what I’ve read, it’s a common occurrence. And truthfully, it’s the only way people like me will ever learn. Most publishers or agents want to see the first few chapters before delving too deep. And for the longest time, I thought my first chapter was dope. I’ll suck ‘em in with chapter’s title, I thought. Then hit ‘em over the head with the opening line.  It’s the right idea, only now I see my content was all wrong.

My novel isn’t really about the protagonist’s sandbox or his “silver shuffle.” Neither of them amounts to much, well, not until the story nears its end anyway. There’s so much more at stake. So much more danger and evil to foreshadow, and in turn, so much peace and beauty to highlight. My novel has a happy tone throughout, but there is this sinister layer of evil that coats it. That’s where the heart of my story lies. In that unforeseen evil, which seems so far off when sitting idle on the first page of the first chapter.

So what do I do? It’s been one of my favorite things about my book for years. Now that I finally see it for what it is, I can’t un-see it. It’s the wrong chapter title. And changing it means changing the opening line. The opening paragraph. Hell, the whole beginning.

So I did it. I tore away at my dream and crumpled the page and tossed it over my shoulder (a.k.a. dragged my mouse cursor over the content and pressed delete).

Here’s what my opening looked like before:

CHAPTER 1 The Sandbox and the Silver Shuffle

 From somewhere high above, I heard a bird cry out, and I thought it had called my name. I opened my eyes to see.

“Who are you?” I said as I looked up and around at the sun and clouds dangling overhead. “Is anybody there?” I paused. “Anybirdy?” No answer. My head fell and my shoulders slumped. I thought it worked for sure this time. I had shut my eyes and tried again to slip away, but the sand I knelt in was still limited to the space of my backyard sandbox. Then I perked up, my hopes high. “It’ll be for real, next time!” But really though, I was glad I hadn’t disappeared just yet.

The first line here is actually significant as it’s repeated later in the story. I really wanted it to be a sort of “gunslinger” moment, but it just doesn’t work. It only makes for a tame beginning. It had to change.

Here’s how it reads now:

CHAPTER 1 The Mountain and the Island

 The mountain come tumbling down. A massive landslide of blistering snow and tumbling stone gave way, all of it aimed at the man standing in its path. Our hero confronted the avalanche, gritting his teeth, his enormous clenched fists by his side. He was but a tree beneath the mountain’s monstrous size. “You cannot take me!” our hero cursed. The billowing storm shook the whole world, but our hero kept his ground. “I’ll never give up, you hear me?!” He charged the mountain with purpose and met the horror head on. He clawed through the ice. He pummeled boulders to pebbles with his fists. He did all he could. But it was all too much. Brute had given it his all.

The mountain is the where the darkness of my story dwells. And island is where our heroes will find the light. The conflict of these two locations is the axis in which my story spins. This is the only possible opening to my story. It was there all along, I just failed to take notice. After tearing this up, I’m actually closer to making my dream a reality. And my story is better for it.

© Copyright 2016 M. Robert Randolph

Freakin’ Cup of Raspberries

I wonder how many people, writers or bloggers or whatever, have this image on their page. This default photo that WordPress provides as the first sample post.  It’s not a bad image really.

Is it because we’re lazy? Too busy? For me, it’s a bit of both. Oh, and the fact that I hate this. Blogging. That’s not me. Not really. Apparently if you want to convince agents or publishers that you’re serious about selling a book and writing for a living, you need one of these. In some form anyway.

I sort of have a journal, but that’s a bit much to post here. I get it. By having this blog, it means I connect with fans, other would-be writers and such, and of course, practice the art of writing. So there, see…I like to write. It’s fun actually.

What’s not fun is sharing your work before it’s “finished.” And I use quotes because we all know it never is. And I’m pretty much writing this impromptu style so it makes me nervous to hit that submit button to “publish” it. Hell, this text box thingy doesn’t even seem to have a spell checker.

So what’s my point. I don’t know–oh, wait. I think I did have one. Yep.

My first novel is “finished.” And I literally have no followers, no fans, no contacts… no people. I don’t really know what’s up. People say, “Oh, when’s your book coming out.” My response: The heck you smokin’? You think Microsoft Word just comes with a publishing contract the minute you hitsave’? Nah, that’s just what I’m thinking. It’s really more like: “Oh, well, uh, I don’t know really. Depends on what happens.”

What happens. That’s what my point is. That’s what my blog will be about. I’ll post here stories of how I’m doing, how I got rejected for the umpteenth time, lessons learned and all that. Maybe I’ll post excerpts of work and show you all my corrections. Then one day, hopefully, I’ll post a win. The day I hit it big. The day I pour an expensive amount of raspberries into a cup and sip from it.

I mean I’ll probably soak the raspberries in vodka first, but still.