Author: Oak Antony

three lines (3).

A few weeks ago, I wrote this short. Hermes was a quick 2,000 word jaunt about an AI aboard a spaceship who discovers — and is startled by — sudden sexual attraction.

Cameron Ollis was the most beautiful person aboard the Stellarship Soter.

It was fun to write but, ultimately, dissatisfying for me. There was something missing.

Something like another 13,000 words, apparently.

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HERMES.

Over my winter break, in which I had ten days off work, I wrote a short story.

Truthfully, I’m very unsatisfied with how it turned out. I’m not sure where I even intended to go with this finished product; maybe submission to magazines? Maybe a post on Archive of Our Own? Maybe a prequel to my bigger WIP? They do take place in the same universe, at roughly the same time.

After debating what to do with it, I’ve decided to go ahead and post it here. I mean, there aren’t many who follow this blog, so it feels a bit like a safe space. Trust me, I know the flaws here. Maybe I’ll revisit it one day. Maybe I’ll expand on what I’ve started. There’s definitely more to be said about Cam and Hermes and Dr. Wha (and maybe even Tamn, too).

So here! Enjoy this 2k snippet that takes place among our stars.

Hope you’re having a fantastic new year. I’m pretty excited about mine. Sure, the story is a failure, but there’s so much potential yet to come. Let’s go!

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making a book cover: simple & free.

I’ll be totally up-front here: I don’t think I’m a particularly gifted graphic designer. Like, I’m okay at it.

My artistic talents are better suited to paint and clay, but nevertheless, I’ve wedged myself firmly in graphic design as a career. Why? There’s money in graphic design. There’s constant demand. Especially when it comes to books: there’s so much to be done and there’s a line of authors and publishers around the block requesting help.

But not everyone can wait in line. Not everyone can hire a designer.

Today’s post is going to show you how to create a simple cover for yourself, for nearly free. I say nearly because I use Photoshop. Certainly some principles here can be applied in other (free) programs, but Photoshop is a program of pure love and incredible utility. If you have the money to spare for the $15/month subscription, I recommend it.

These tips are going to be best suited to someone who has tinkered in Photoshop a few times before. If you’re a total and complete Photoshop newbie, check out Adobe’s guide to learn the basics on how to like, create a new file, save your file down, how to edit photos, how to add text, and lots more.

For someone who’s made a file or two before now and found themselves disappointed in the result and is looking for insight in creating a compelling cover: here’s how.

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the remaking of corbin wale.

I’ve spent the last week in a debate with a friend of mine named Christopher.

He lives in New Hampshire, where the weather is below freezing from November to March, and has already had one or two snowfalls this year. I live in Texas, where the weather has been averaging room temperature for three months now, and I still haven’t been able to wear my (expensive, badass) camel trench–despite the fact December is hours away. I’m sick of warm weather. I’m desperate for snow.

“It’s cool for like, five seconds,” Christopher says.

I send him a gif of Veruca Salt and reply, “I want it. Now.”

“You’re crazy.”

Maybe. But I also just really love winter.

The Remaking of Corbin Wale was winter in a book. Roan Parrish has written a few wintry novels at this point and I’ve consumed them all greedily, happily, while wrapped in blankets, seated before a fire, with my AC set to 65. (I’ve had to make do.) And out of the three–maybe four?–times I’ve embraced the ritual, Corbin Wale was truly elevated above the rest.

It’s not just the perfect setting captured in every chapter, from every perspective:

The wind outside rustled dry leaves and the air inside smelled of pine and dried sage and tomato from his dinner.

Or the holidays that orbit the story, giving character to particular sequences:

Blue and silver garland draped the counter, and on the tables were centerpieces of glass bells that held glittery blue and silver stars. At the door, a blue-draped table was laid with dreidels and bags of chocolate gelt. They’d covered the counter in blue velvet and turned it into a bar, with one of the servers bartending behind it.

All in all, it looked cozy and festive, and Alex couldn’t have been happier.

It’s the unique personalities of our two main characters and the way they connect and keep connecting from their first meeting to the very last page. Parrish’s prose is incredibly visual, even when showcasing something as intangible as a feeling of love. There’s a lot of talk of forests and earth and oceans and stars, at exactly the right intervals, and with exactly the right emphasis to help you understand how these very unique characters work.

Alex is earth. And a cast-iron pan. No, really.

“You keep yourself nicely seasoned and oiled and on the back burner ready for anything.”

He’s warm and thoughtful and he’s a really good baker. In fact, he’s so good at baking that he’s able to open up a shop in Ann Arbor and keep the business thriving despite (and the book mentions this) most small businesses failing within a year.

Parrish describes the pastries a lot. It was almost a little mean. I’m taking my parents out to my favorite Jewish deli for lunch today; I need some latkes. Like Alex, my family is Jewish, but no one is good at baking, so this book simultaneously scratched an itch that I had and made me terribly envious, too. Latkes will fix that, I think.

And then, Corbin. Corbin is…himself.

“Everything he says or does, he says and does with such total integrity. He’s completely, purely Corbin. He almost seems–this is silly, I know. He seems like he lives in a different world. I don’t just mean his own fantasy world. I mean, he seems like a creature from another place.”

He’s an introverted, socially-battered artist, who’s turned in on himself because he’s different and he’s had to build defenses in order to survive. Defenses include friends he’s dreamt up, that follow him, that guide him, that comfort him when he’s in need. As an only child, I definitely found myself nodding along understandingly as we learned about each character he’s created; each character he’s been forced to create to feel loved.

Corbin’s also cursed.

Anyone who loves a Wale dies within twelve months. Completely relatable. Instead of killing my lovers, though, my curses are more like giant pitchers of water crashing over my head at restaurants (not once, not twice, but three times this has happened to me; about once a decade), or natural disasters chasing me across the globe (the 2011 earthquake in Japan; the never-before-seen and now commonplace earthquakes in the Dallas metroplex over the last five years), but nevertheless. I relate.

Even if you aren’t the type to believe in something like that–Alex isn’t, not really–it’s still moving and touching to see Corbin describe and disassemble this magic that follows his family. It’s moving and touching to see Alex understand, or try to understand, and press on as gently as he can.

There are also several secondary characters that give the story depth; friends and family, dead or alive, that fill in the gaps in our MC’s background and personality. None are “thrown in” at any point. Every character and scene served a purpose that propelled the story forward in a way that demonstrated how far Parrish has actually grown as an author. Don’t get me wrong, her early releases are all completely masterful–but Corbin Wale is an excellent demonstration of how Parrish’s writing ability and capacity for emotion are under constant growth. This wasn’t just a work of romance; it was a work of heart.

And that’s it. That’s what Corbin Wale made me feel. For hours, I was enraptured. In any case–I don’t rate books based on some kind of scale. Any review you read here is a signed recommendation from me to you. And I heartily recommend this story.

 

You can find the e-book and print copies of The Remaking of Corbin Wale here:

Amazon | Riptide | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

You can find Roan Parrish and her various magical and wintry works here:

RoanParrish.com | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

Happy Nearly-Winter!

Oak Antony

three lines (1).

it’s three lines thursday!

i’m inventing this as an opportunity to share three lines from any current WIP. today, i’m sharing a snippet from my tentatively-named story, a garden in space. this book follows haley lovell, a gardener living aboard a space station called opis, and valouatthiaslouan, an alien android that finds himself captured and imprisoned on opis’ brig.

for today, we have this:

Val shoved Haley backwards, sending him off his feet. He landed against the dimpled platform on the second level, book skittering out of his hold. At the same moment, a body landed with an audible and sickening slap where Haley had been standing.

one of the most challenging parts of this story is creating fulfilling action sequences. this book is a romance, and the love between haley and val is absolutely paramount, but there are some intense and dire circumstances that surround them. giving weight to the world, the action, and the suspense…it’s as fun as it is difficult.

this scene features a significant amount of gore. corpses falling from above, heads being shot clean off… oh, and (bonus):

Haley didn’t want to imagine going the rest of his life without seeing Val again. Surrounded by carnage, trapped in the prison of an old and failing space station, Haley and Val were connected irreversibly. Permanently.

in any case, i’m starting a new scene today. wish me luck and stay tuned for more soon.

bye all!

the first post.

hi, i’m oak antony.

this is the first post in my new, shiny blog. the short story: i was making videos for youtube, found many of them demonetized due to lgbt “unsuitable for advertisers” content, and decided to leave.

this is my new space where i can talk and write and record and show you everything i’m up to.

i’m leaving it pretty open to whatever i feel like, but you can expect to find book reviews, writing updates, and occasional life updates, too. i haven’t figured out exactly how i’m doing videos, yet, but when i do, you’ll be able to find them here!

thanks for joining me. i’ll see you very soon with some actual, digestible content.