Tag Archives: How To Be An American

Sucker Literary Magazine Bloghop: The Writing Process

28 Apr

 

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Howdy

So my buddy Robert over at Middle Grade Ninja tagged me in this Writing Process Blog Hop. That’s the cover of his novel up there!

Here’s how it works:

Robert posts his blog about the writing process (read it here) and then tags me and a week later it’s my turn and I, in turn, tag some other writers and this crazy merry go round keeps spinning.

So here we go:

1. What am I working on?

Lots of stuff, actually.

I’m working on edits for my upcoming YA novel THIS IS SARAH which is scheduled to come out sometime in June. Here’s the blurb in case you’re curious what it’s about:

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?

 

And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

 

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.

 

I’m at the point right now where we’re pretty close (at least I think we are) to passing this along to the copy editor. Mary, who is my content editor at BookFish Books has been amazing – part teacher, part cheerleader, and all around awesome.

I’m also working on a poetry collection that I’m calling How To Be An American. It’s a series of poems that are based upon ideas expressed in a book entitled Culture Shock: America. The purpose of the book is to educate new immigrants about our culture and it’s filled with some absolute gems. You can read some of the poems that have already been published here.

And finally I’m working on revisions of a YA sci-fi book called PALIMPSEST which I’ve been working on FOREVER and am thankfully really close to finishing. Unfortunately it’s a complicated story (probably too complicated for my feeble brain to hold together) and it keeps getting interrupted by other projects, like SARAH.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hm. Wow. I don’t really know how to answer that.

If I’m going to talk about THIS IS SARAH, I guess the thing that makes it different is that it’s small, quiet and sad. I think a lot of YA books are really big, really loud, and really dramatic. Vampires. Monsters. Girls falling in love with their dead boyfriends (literally). The paranormal romance thing is huge.

And I’m not criticizing that – I think there is a lot of really good stuff out there dealing with paranormal romances. But SARAH is decidedly not that.

Like I said, it’s small – only about 47K words. And quiet – there are no zombies, vampires, or anything like that. No one is trying to save the world. No one has special powers. No one is related to a fairy or any other member of the fey.

It’s just about a high school age boy who trying to keep it together when the unthinkable happens. And it’s about a sixteen year old girl who has to manage without her sister.

It’s about loss.

Like I said, it’s a sad book.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Sheesh, this is even harder than the last one.

I guess because it’s the story that I want to tell at the time I start telling it.

So far, I’ve written three novels (I”m counting the sci-fi one, cause guys, it’s ALMOST done) and they are all wildly different. The first was a MG urban fantasy called Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. I wrote that because I wanted to write something that I would have wanted to read when I was a little girl. Back then books were my world. I wanted to add a story to that amazing lexicon.

I wrote the scifi book because I wanted tell a story about memory. I have a terrible terrible memory. It’s embarrassing actually and PALIMPSEST is very much about how memory shapes your sense of identity and how without it, you can fall out of your own history. And it’s about time travel and alternate dimension and chess cause I like those three things.

And I wrote SARAH because it was a story that I wanted to tell. That sounds like a cheap explanation but it’s the truth. See, when I submitted it to BookFish and it was accepted, one of the editors said the following:

 The emotions throughout are so incredibly real that I wondered if maybe you have experienced such a horrible thing as losing someone you love in such an unresolved kind of way. I certainly hope not. If you have, I am sending you a virtual hug even though it’s not general protocol. Either way, you deserve it.

And I wrote back and said, “oh no, no, it’s just a story.”

But that is a lie.

Because even though I didn’t have Colin or Claire’s specific experience, I’ve lost people that I have loved and I’ve struggled with how to move on. I’m an extremely sensitive person and everyone says that it’s great because when you’re like this you experience happiness and joy on such a grand scale. True. But you also heal at a glacial pace. Writing this was cathartic. I packed a lot of my leftover emotions into a suitcase and I handed it to Colin. And when Colin picked up that suitcase and walked away with it I felt lighter. Ultimately I think that’s one of the reasons to write anything, right?

 

4. How does my writing process work?

It’s messy, actually.

Part of the reason that PALIMPSEST is taking as long as it is is because I have this bad habit of coming up with an idea, not thinking it through, writing like a maniac in my excitement about the story idea and then realizing 150K words later that the book is really about A and not B. Then I revise for half a decade. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

That said I think I’m starting to learn. SARAH was the last long piece I wrote and it started as a novella and then morphed into a novel and the total amount of time actually writing was close to a month and a half which is really fast (for me).

That said, I wasn’t doing any world-building like I did with the other two so that might have helped.

On a more logistical level, I write every day (minus the weekends cause, Hi, I want a life) from 5 am to 7:30 am. Then I take a two hour walk and think about whether I just wasted the morning writing stuff I’m going to delete the next day.

On the good days, the answer is nope.

Okay so now it’s time to pass this along to Patrice Cadwell and Mary Waibel.

 

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I currently study Political Science and English with a concentration in Creative Writing at Wellesley College and recently won the SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship thanks to one of my manuscripts, ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA’S BOX (MG Sci-Fi Thriller). I also blog about writing and books for MG, YA, and NA audiences at whimsicallyours.com (which has over 1,200 subscribers). I have been published in various college publications as well as Lambda Literary and DiversifYA.

Mary Waibel Author Photo

 

Mary is the author of THE PRINCESS OF VALENDRIA series- a set of fractured fairytale fantasies.Quest of the Hart, Charmed Memories, and Different Kind of Knight (releasing winter 2013/14) from MuseItUpPublishing.

 

Looking forward to hearing how their process works!

And thanks again to Robert for the invite!

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

How To Be An American poem at Crisis Chronicle

19 Apr

Hello again.

I know I just wrote that really long post yesterday and I’m back already. What can I say? I love you guys.

Just wanted to post a little thank you to John Burroughs. He runs Crisis Chronicle, a fantastic poetry site you should be reading and was kind enough to accept Americans Are Not On The Whole Well Informed On World Matters.

It’s based on a conversation I had with this wonderful woman

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Notice all the beers.

There’s a reason we’ve nicknamed this day Barracho Domingo.

Man, I miss Spain.

Anyway, thanks again to John, who I was lucky to meet at the last reading I did in Pittsburgh and I can verify he’s one cool dude.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

How to Be An American poem at Regardless of Authority

4 Dec

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It’s December.

When did that happen? December?

The last month of 2013.

It’s been a weird year. On the one hand it was all amazing with Vienna and Salzburg and Mozart’s house and driving up the coast of California and so much poetry written and read and heard and published and indian food and Chagall and Klimt and a new little baby named Wes and Nietzsche and novel writing about memory and the theory of eternal return….

and on the other hand there’s been sad things and weird things and few more sad things….

so basically I guess it’s been like all the other years. Some good. Some bad. Some not even worth mentioning.

At the very least I have managed to get a lot of writing done this year. While these five am writing mornings five days a week are probably shortening my life significantly, there’s at least ink on paper, right? Enough to bury me in.

So anyway, many thanks to Regardless of Authority for picking up one of my How To Be An American poems for the new issue. You can read it here.

It’s based on a true story. That all actually happened at the Duomo (pictured above) in Florence just about a year and a half ago. And yes, my poor husband does have to put up with me mouthing off to strangers.

Thanks again to Regardless of Authority.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Three “How to Be An American” poems up at Dead Snakes

18 Nov

mmmmm meat-states via Fooddiggity

Morning folks.

Many thanks to the always awesome Stephen at Dead Snakes for taking these three How to Be An American poems. This whole project has been really interesting, especially people’s reactions to it. As our Ex-president Bush said, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.”

Happy Monday, America.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Three “How to be an American” poems up at the Blue Hour

11 Nov

parisblog

Hi.

Morning.

So the very awesome trio over at Blue Hour accepted a couple of my poems from the How to be an American series that I’m working on. It’s odd I was just talking to a friend about how I’ve never had such an easy time writing poems – it’s like they’re practically writing themselves. I don’t know – it’s just been a really fun project and I guess with being bogged down in novel revision, this is a nice change of pace.

Anyway – thanks again to the Blue Hour peeps. And without further ado…..

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Three ‘How to be an American’ Poems at Underground Books

7 Nov

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Hi.

This has truly been a crappy week. Truly. Truly truly truly NOT outrageous and NOT like Gem.

(good luck getting that song out of your head!)

But you know what’s NOT crappy about it?

It’s that the truly awesome James from Underground Books published a few of my new poems from the How to be an American series I’ve been working on.

So without further ado, here you go.

Thanks James, for taking a bit of the crap out of craptastic.

Also – this piece from Laurie Anderson about Lou Reed’s death is amazing. If I can face my own death or the death of people that I love with one third of this bravery and passion I will consider my life a success. And it also reminded me that one time I wrote a story about a girl who started a revolution because of a Lou Reed song. You can read it here if you want.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

6 Poem Poetry Bomb

4 Nov

So I must have hit some sort of magical submission time jackpot because not one but two editors got back to me nearly immediately and posted the poems they accepted. Not that I mind long waits, but it’s so nice when it all goes in sync.

So here you go:

First up we have Boyslut and the always lovely Devlin with Do Say A Few Nice Things About People’s Homes When You Visit and Not to Be Happy Is Not Just a Misfortune, It Is a Failure

Many many thanks to Devlin for finding a home for these guys.

Secondly is Horror Sleaze and Trash (which is a wee bit NSFW so consider yourself warned) with But Americanism Means Believing America is a Special Nation Chosen By God and Despite Its Size the US is Not as Diverse a Country as We Like to Think and Even When We’re Relaxing, We’re Watching the Clock and finally When All Conversation Fails There Are Always Sports and The Children To Fall Back On.

(I’m so very excited about getting into Horror Sleaze and Trash cause they’re all such bad boys and I never get into bad boy places.)

These are all poems from the How To Be An America series I’ve been working on and it’s really great to see them get out there. This has been a really fun project and much different from anything that I wrote for The Wanting Bone or since.

So many thanks to the awesome editors.

Peace Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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