Archive | August, 2012

Visiting Crafting Magic

30 Aug

The very lovely Ms. Jen and I spent some time talking about my upcoming novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb at her blog Crafting Magic. It’s due out in September but if you want a sneak peek about the plot or my influences or why I write in a closet –  all those goodies are right here.

I really want to thank Jen for having me over to blather on like that. As you all know when people do nice things for you it’s customary to say Thank You. So here’s my favorite candy in the whole wide world just for Jen.

P.S. Look how many orange there are! You know I mean it.

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Planet Mars

21 Aug

Many many thanks to Mr. Stephen Williams for taking my poem, Planet Mars,  for UFO Gigolo (which is a fantastic zine name, don’t you think?)

Possessions

20 Aug

Magazine St. New Orleans 2011

I’ve got a poem entitled Possessions over at Dead Snakes. Many thanks to Stephen Williams for giving it a home.

Got a plot problem?

17 Aug

Yo! I’ll solve it. Check out the hook while the DJ revolves it.

(That’s my first Vanilla Ice reference for the day. Sadly, it probably won’t be my last.)

I have trouble with linear thinking – in life in general – but most decidedly in writing. I can’t seem to keep all my little ducks in a row, especially with the current WIP which deals with other dimensions, some time travel-y stuff, Doppelgangers, memory erasing and some big ol’ lies that get revealed in a SHAZAM moment at the end. It’s currently in its third incarnation and some bits and pieces of the earlier drafts got left over, changed and now it’s like a big old sloppy steak and ale pie. (mmmm pie).

So to fix that, I spent some time thinking how I could keep my ducks safe, my brain sane and actually get this darn book finished.

This is what I came up with:

That is a chapter by chapter summary of the book (well, actually only half of the book but that’s a whole ‘nuther problem*). Each slip of paper covers the basics of what happens in the chapter, the general mood, and the necessary references to past/present/future events. Some contain codes to parts that deal with a missing character’s journal entries.

Blue post-its mean, “You’re beautiful darling. Don’t change a thing.”

Purple post-its mean “Whoop! Whoop! Houston we have a problem.”

I realize the inherent problem of the chapter(s) with both blue and purple post-its there. I just haven’t solved it.

It’s like my own low tech version of Scrivener – Now with more hand cramps!

Truth is, I’m a visual person. I need to see it all laid out or I’ll never be able to stop my ducks from being mauled by a tractor trailer.

*152,000 words and growing. Yeah…ahem.

Reading in Pittsburgh – September 2

9 Aug

Oh Pittsburgh, my home away from home. Can’t wait to go back in September and really can’t wait to do a reading at Awesome Books. If you’re downtown on September 2 stop by at 1 pm to hear some great writers read their stuff. I’d love to see you! Yes, YOU!

I Have a Comic Problem

3 Aug

Hi. I’m Ally. I have a Comic Book Problem.

This is where you say, “Hi Ally.”

Comics are big business right now and rightly so since they  rock. Comics make Wednesday, commonly know as pizza night even better. Now it’s comic-pizza night. The hyphen makes all the difference.

Currently, here’s what I’m reading – in alphabetical order cause I’m just that organized:

Alabaster: Wolves, Amazing Spiderman, American Vampire, Animal Man Aqua Man, Avengers, Avengers vs X-men, AvX, Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: Detective Comics, Batman Incorporated, Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Batwing, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Catwoman, Fatale, First X-Men, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Hawkeye, I Vampire, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, Justice League Dark, Mixtape, NightWing, Saga, Superman, Swamp Thing, Ultimate Spiderman, Uncanny X-men, Winter Soldier, Wolverine, Wolverine and the X-men…

That’s nearly 40 comics and I’m pretty sure I’m missing some. That doesn’t even count the list of comics that I had been reading but no longer am for a variety of reason. Now I know lots of people have way heavier lists and they scoff at my puny 40 comic list but I think it’s safe to say that if it’s not Large, I’m at least tipping the scale past Medium. Clearly stretch pants are in order.

So here’s what I love about comics since, you know, no one asked.

I love the art – when comic art is done well it’s phenomenal. When Batwing first started all the panels were watercolor. It was beautiful. I would love to put a picture up here but I fear being sued by DC. I just recently read some chicks blog post about how she posted some dude’s image and even though she linked back to the source, he sent her a cease and desist letter and so she took it down immediately and he still sued her. I don’t need to be sued by DC just cause I love amazing art.

Okay just one picture – please note DC peoples – I took the picture, I bought the comic and really, I’m bragging up your kid here so don’t take the $12.40 I got in the bank, okay?

So I was thinking about the bad rap comics can get. Don’t get me wrong – they’re nerd chic and cool when they’re made into movies but the overriding theory seems to be that they aren’t anything that anyone should take too seriously. They aren’t real books and only those people (read: Simpson’s Comic Book Guy) take them too seriously. Like all comic readers spend the rest of their time learning Elvish or Klingon. And trust me, I’ve been to the conventions and that’s only like 80% of us. Tops.

So Lev Grossman wrote this piece for time not too long ago about Genre Fiction vs Literary Fiction and it got me thinking that a lot of what he says about Genre Fiction could really apply to comics as a medium. He was talking about how people think because Genre Fiction is saddled with convention it’s “easier” to write than Literary fiction. As you know comics are full of conventions. All you really need are Bad guys/villians, good guys/heroes and a universe on the brink of destruction and you got the basic gist of it. The literary people like to say that conventions takes all the work out of creation. Lev says this:

The plots in genre novels are of a different kind, after all, constrained as they are by conventions. But conventions aren’t the iron cage they’re made out to be. Sonnets are bound by conventions too, but that doesn’t stop them from being great, and wildly various. Conventions are more like the rules of chess: a small set of constraints that produces near-infinite complexity. They’re not restrictive, they’re generative. And they flop both ways: genre fiction transgresses its conventions more frequently… Watchmen violates almost every convention of superhero comics that there is, but it never ceases to be a superhero comic — in fact it’s one of the greatest superhero comics ever written.

See that? Lev mentioned comics and I was talking about comics. Can I go work for Time now?

The other thing I love about comics is the writing, which is really good. Like really really really good. Have you read anything by Scott Snyder since the new 52 DC reboot? Cause if you think Nolan knows Batman, then you gotta read what Snyder’s been doing with the Court of Owls. Mind-Blown. Kaboom.

And it’s not just Synder – there are so many good writers out there – Judd Winick, Brian Michael Bendis, Jeff Lemire, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron, Jeph Loeb, Gail Simone, Garth Ennis, Joe Hill, Geoff Johns, Mike Mignola, Mark Millar, Brian Vaughan, Neil Gaiman… This list is just gonna keep getting longer but you get my point.

I didn’t really read comics when I was a kid  – sure I picked up the occasional Archie but that was about it. Then in graduation school, stressed out of my brain between full-time school and full-time work I came across the Sandman. Yes THAT Sandman. That was it for me. I was hooked.

After that I found Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith at the same time in the Ellis-Templesmith-Peanut Butter-Jelly sandwich of awesome that was Fell. I loved Fell. Fell was amazing. And then Fell broke my heart by just sort of stopping.

Fell led me to Transmetropolitan and Freak Angels which you can read here, for FREE all 140 some odd issues. Go do it. Now. Stop reading my stupid blog and go read that. You’ll thank me for it.

Alright enough – I gotta go. I got stack of comics here I need to get into, including the whole Swamp Thing/Animal Man combo that is ROTWORLD (god that just sounds so cool) so I best be going.

my preeeeeccccciiiooouuusssssssssss

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