Tag Archives: Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb

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

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450 Years Old!

23 Apr

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What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us.

 

Today is William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday!

To celebrate, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of 5 copies of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. Why 5?

Cause I can’t afford to give away 450 of them.

*Instant Rimshot.*

So if you would like to enter to win you can do so here.

And if you already have a copy (THANK YOU!) then you can still enter to win and give it to someone else as a gift.

And here’s a behind the scenes look at my favorite Doctor doing my favorite scene from Hamlet. If this video could shoot out candy bars my life would be perfect.

 

Doctor, Doctor, Doctor

5 Aug

Hi.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on here because I’ve been mired in revisions on my current WIP but I wanted to come out of my dank dark cave to share a few things.

There have been some new reviews of Lizzy popping up online. I posted them here but here’s a link to the newest from Pen and Muse.

P&M is a really great resource for writers and I was so excited when they agreed to take my piece on rejection which as I said when I gave it to them, was the most honest thing I’ve ever written about the submission experience for me. As for Lizzy they said some really great things like this:

Another thing I really liked about this novel is that Lizzy is a strong female protagonist. There’s nothing worse than opening a novel and starting to read it, only to find that the main female character is dependent on a male for happiness, or afraid to take action, etc. But this isn’t the case with Lizzy!

Also I have a new poem, Pick-pocketed by the Alchemist up at Electric Windmill Press so many thanks to Brian, the editor.

And in other more interesting non-Ally related news, we have a new Doctor!

Yes, in case you weren’t sure, I am THAT much of a nerd. As so eloquently described by the folks on twitter:

While I’m very excited about Peter, I’m still sad about Matt but have vowed to NOT repeat the theatrics from the David to Matt transition.

I vow to keep the tissue usage to a rational amount. 20 sheets max.

But before we move on, we’ve got a little time left with Matt – the sure-to-be-amazing 50th anniversary show and a Christmas special – and I just wanted to share this brilliant moment from his run, the moment in which I looked at Matt and didn’t say, I miss David.

The moment when I said, “Okay. That’s my Doctor.”

Surprise Lake Camp, ready or not, here I come!

11 Jul

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So I’m sitting here making up my weekend supply list. Here’s what’s on it:

  • books to sell
  • buttons
  • fliers
  • copy to read from (duh!)
  • origami paper
  • directions for craft
  • directions TO camp
  • sample cyclop’s eye
  • sharpies
  • camera
  • DVDs of Big Bang Theory*
  • Everything else that I’m currently forgetting

*Those are for Trish the Dish (aka: Mom)

And I’m making this list because this weekend I’m going to Surprise Lake Camp to read from Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb to a bunch of 11 year olds FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

Nah, not nervous at all. What made you think that?

See the thing is I’ve never read fiction in public before. I’ve read poems, lots and lots and lots of poems but poems are different. They have a start and an end.

Start with the title.

End with the last period.

Done. A self-contained little nugget of thought and words and feelings.

But fiction starts at the title and keeps going for a long long long time. And I have no idea which part to read. The beginning when our heroine gets snatched and whisked away into her new life as the only living descendant of Shakespeare? The middle when she meets the cast of characters at the Belch Palace? When Marlowe gets pelted with tomatoes by a member of the Society and Noble Order of Bardolaters (aka: SNOBs)?  Or when she battles the Medusa, creating a manticore using Prometheus Ink?

Do you see my dilemma?

Sunday is Parent’s day where I’ll attempt to charm Moms and Dads into buying a copy of my book and Monday is the reading and craft project for the kids.

If you never hear from me again, assume I was devoured by rabid mythology loving 11 year olds.

I want this on my tombstone:

PS. In other news, my buddy Don Wentworth was interviewed. He’s a TREASURE TROVE of awesome and you should read it. You’ll learn something about writing, publishing or living gracefully. Probably all three.

Interview at Reading Lark

8 Jun

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‘Ello kids.

Just wanted to give you a quick heads up to let you know that the nice folks over at Reading Lark invited me for a chat.

And they offered to do a giveaway so you can win a copy of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.

And there is still a giveaway going on over at Buried in Books.

Double your luck.

Or double down.

Or double mint gum.

I don’t know. Double something!

And cause our momma’s raised us right, we say Thank You to the fine birds at Reading Lark with candy.

Starburst

Peace and love and starbursts,

Ally

Guest Post at Buried in Books

6 Jun

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‘Ello kiddies!

I’m over at Buried in Books today talking about writing. Shocker, right?

But I won’t tell you exactly what I’m talking about other than the answers to all your novel-writing questions are there.

One of the comments someone left says “I adore this guest post because it’s SO DANG TRUE!”

You know I wouldn’t make that up. Prepare to be wowed!

Also there’s a giveaway so you can put in to win a copy of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.

See, new knowledge AND a free book. And you thought nothing fun would happen today.

As always we say thanks to Heather with candy!

Starburst

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Camp Visits, Lizzy on Sale, and Art, Oh My!

4 Jun

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Hi folks!

So some update-y things to share. First and foremost I’m so excited for my first Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb reading/author visit which is coming up this summer at Surprise Lake Camp!

Yup, I’m that excited.

So when the lovely folks at SLC invited me to come up and hang out and read some of Lizzy to the campers I jumped at the chance and figured the least I could do was give them a discount which I then figured, hey, everyone deserves a bit of a sale.

So, the print copy of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is officially ON SALE for 10.99 (though right now Amazon’s got it for less than $10! Yipee!)

You can BUY IT HERE.

So if there’s a kid in your life who likes adventure and mythology and plays and bad guys getting hit in the face with tomatoes, you know what to do. (i.e. click above, silly mortals!)

So aside from reading from Lizzy we’re going to do some crafts and have some giveaways and  I’ll sign some books and we’ll all hang out and hopefully everything will go according to plan. I will admit being a wee bit nervous about it. If I don’t return, assume I’ve been devoured by book -loving eleven year olds. There are worse ways to go.

What else?

I just recently learned about Bloomsbury Spark, the new imprint of Bloomsbury that is digital only. I think this is a pretty cool opportunity for new writers (and un-agented writers) to get their work in the hands of an esteemed publisher. They’re accepting submissions (25 to 60K words) in all genres of teen, YA and New Adult.

So writer friends, get writing. Clicky clicky here for more about Bloomsbury.

I chose to toss my hat in and took a break from revising Palimpsest to expand a short story I wrote a year ago about a teenage boy dealing with life after his girlfriend goes missing. Thus far it’s been a lot of fun – er, as fun as a depressing topic like that is. I’ve always liked the initial spark  of creation so the beginning of writing has always been my favorite part. Revising? Not so much. But right now it’s just fun to alternate between what I”m chipping down and what I’m building up.

Also, on top of that I’ve increased my 5 am writing mornings to 6 days a week. Last week was the first one and it was great (10K words in one week!) but I fear exhaustion will overtake me and I”ll be found drooling on my laptop muttering about how to get my hands on one of those Time Turners from Hogwarts.

If I don’t emerge from my writing closet, send unsweetened tea and a kitty.

And finally, ART stuff.

I want to preface this by saying that I am a fan of Amanda Palmer because I love her music and as I came to “know” her via twitter and her blog, I came to agree with many of her sentiments, especially about how losing our CAPACITY TO EMPATHIZE STRIPS US OF OUR HUMANITY

I think it’s something that doesn’t get enough air time hence the capitalizing.

Amanda Palmer recently did a talk at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace. It’s worth a watch. The transcript is here.

Also, before I go on, Eve Bridburg who created Grub Street has really insightful things to say about it here.

So art. Capital A art.

I think the parts of this that really hit home, for me, personally are the aspects about connecting and about the garret. How do you get people into your garret?

How do you put yourself out there?

How do you share?

Granted this is after you’ve mustered up the courage to write something and mustered up the determination to actually do it every single day and then mustered up the courage to not give up and then finally you pulled something out of your hat.

Something from nothing.

Something from you.

And then you hold it up and say “Hey! Everybody look what I did!” and you find yourself surrounded by people who say “Hey! Everybody look what I did!” or “No, look what I did!” and then there you are, in the marketplace that Ms. Palmer talks about, huddling your poor baby to your chest hoping for the best.

So what do you do? To be honest, I don’t know. I know that the best thing you can possibly do is work until your fingers bleed and be honest and be you and work as hard as you can, and then work harder than that and make some sacrifices and some mistakes and then some brilliant mistakes.

Like they say in that baseball movie “If you build it, they will come.”

The best thing about publishing Lizzy was sharing it with other people, especially kids.

Making those connections.

“You ever notice that THIS looks like THIS.”

It’s an amazing, weird, fascinating time for artists. Jump in, kids. The water’s fine.

And super finally, today is a year since my girl’s been gone and B, I miss you like mad. Life in the Bunker just ain’t been the same. june 008

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