Tag Archives: novel revision

Moar Pie for Everyone, or Why Simon Pegg was right

20 May

Hi.

So I made it (barely) through my first week of post-trip hangover. It wasn’t easy. More than one cookie were consumed. I had no choice, I tell you!

But some cool things did come up, like my getting to talk to Vanessa Barger about This Is Sarah and writing and Antarctica. Thanks Vanessa! And speaking of Sarah, Apryl at Apryl Showers was kind enough to share her thoughts on This Is Sarah.

Set in a small town, where no one would believe such horrors would occur, the abduction of Sarah  Evans ricochets through everyone from school friends to neighbours. There is an incredibly realistic feel to the novel. The pace is even, with a slow tempo allowing you to really engage with the emotions of each character. In fact the reader could almost be one of the neighbours or a school pupil – someone who knows of the missing girl but has no real personal connection.

Many thanks to Apryl for her kind words. And in the thanks department, thanks to Mad Swirl for publishing Premonitions of a Sash, and to Cultured Vultures for Radiation Day 22 and to Blue Hour who published Radiation Day 24, Radiation Day 26 and Radiation Day 30.

During treatment I got a lot of mileage about my own fear and experience and out of my husband’s but it wasn’t until I was in radiation every single day, sitting next to the same people that I really started to understand what my friend Don was talking about when he said:

Funny thing, one thing nobody ever said to me – in this time when you will be so inward looking, so concerned with self, make sure you look about you as you go for regular treatments.

The staff, the fellow patients – there is so much there to take in, so much about who we are as humans, how we handle things. How we share, especially casually, in greeting, even silently, in the nod of a head or a smile. 

I didn’t say much during radiation. I came in, changed, kept my headphones in, forced myself to return their smiles, muttered a good morning and hoped my wait wouldn’t be too long. The waiting room was in fact the hardest part of radiation treatment. Just me, at 37, with a bunch of much older people. I tried to block it out. But you can’t block something all the time for 38 days in a row. You just can’t. So little by little, Anna, and Maria, Betty, the guy I called The Angel cause he was dressed in white from head to toe and the Russian guy who didn’t talk to anyone and the old black woman who was getting full brain radiation – all of them just sort of crept into my life. I found out from The Angel that she lost her sense of taste. I remember him sitting there, shaking his head asking, “Can you imagine anything worse? Not being able to taste anything at all?”
It was comments like that which helped shake me out myself. That made me look around the room, and as Don said, really see this moment in my life.
I hope I did all of them a bit of justice on the page. They were good people who like me, were stuck somewhere terrible. They made the best of it. I hope they’re doing okay now.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

In other news, (and getting to the point of this post) I just finished reading On Interpretations and Other Essays, the classic Susan Sontag book. I’ve only read her interviews prior to this so I really enjoyed it, though there were some high and low points as with all books. My favorite essays were On Interpretations with its stellar conversation about form and content, and On Culture and the New Sensibility – which though written in 1965 is very relevant today with the constant high vs low art debates. Because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the internet is MAD again.

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The new sensibility is definitely pluralistic; it is dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and to fun and wit and nostalgia. It is also extremely history-conscious; and the voracity of its enthusiasms (and of the supercession of these enthusiasms) is very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.

So this time Simon Pegg is in the hot seat for his comments about comic book movies. He has, as required in this age of super-sensitive interneting, issued an apology. But before we all pat him on the back I think we need to take a look at what he’s ACTUALLY saying:

“Now we’re essentially all-consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

This morning on my way to work I listened to Claude Debussy’s Prelude A l’Apres Midi D’un Faune (Afternoon of the Faun). I don’t listen to Claude much on my walk (or really much classical because of the trucks on 5th avenue). It opens with a harp. Upon the first note, I immediately thought of this:

That’s a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Monkees where Peter sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the harp.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Debussy = sounds lovely = Happy Ally

The Monkees =  goofy laughs = Happy Ally.

That’s the point of art. And variety makes for good “art-ing.” I think the #IReadYA thing is great but if you ONLY read YA, well…..you’re missing out. I’m sorry but you just are. It’s just as bad if you only read the New York Times Bestseller List or if you only read “literary” fiction written by white guys in Manhattan. White guys in Manhattan don’t know everything there is about this world. You’re limiting your own experiences if that’s all you’re reading.

If you’re only getting one small slice of the art pie, you’re not getting enough pie. MOAR PIE!

Now what I think Pegg here is talking about is that there are A LOT of comic book movies. Since 2010 there have been about 30 superhero movies made. THIRTY! And the reason there are so many is cause they make money. For me, his criticism is about the fact that we are paying the industry to keep feeding us the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Honestly when I think about the money spent on these movies, I feel dizzy. But as long as we keep forking over our paychecks the industry will keep churning it out. That’s how business works. What are we getting out of watching the Hulk smash things? Do we really need another Spiderman reboot?

There has always been and will always be good science fiction and fantasy out there. Moon and Europa Report were two really well done movies that I walked away THINKING about. Come on, an alien that helps humans BE more human by trying to understand them? That’s why it’s classic. That has staying power.

Look, I love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I also love Godard. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One of the best comments I ever got in my life was when someone looked at my goodreads list and said “wow….you’re all over the place.”

Yes, I am. Proudly.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sontag’s comment, made in 1965 can be the last one necessary to end this whole high vs low art thing. Time to put the tired conversation to rest. Let’s all stop hating on Simon Pegg, now okay?

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Speaking of “the solution to a mathematical problem….” I got back to work on Palimpsest this morning along with the help of some really great beta reader notes (I love you, guys). I also happened across this great video explaining the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical premise that is featured in my book.

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The Golden Mean

The sequence, for those of you who don’t know, is the following:

0,1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

and on and on and so forth.

It is derived by adding the first number to the next number. So:

0+1 = 1

1+ 1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3= 5

3+5= 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

13+21 = 34

21+ 34 = 55

34 +55 = 89

55 + 89 = 144

and so on and so forth. But the real cool thing is that the Fibonacci sequence is EVERYWHERE. In the spiral of a seashell, in the arms of the galaxy. Even in your own bones!

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flower

index

Aspects show up in art and architecture and in our DNA.

And this is why math and science are amazing.

Check out the video. It’s not long and it’s got cool music.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

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Writing Process Blog Tour

18 Aug

Hi all

Long time, no blather.

So the other day I got an email from this lady, Lori Jakiela, a poet from Pittsburgh whose writing I adore.

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Lori Jakiela, her name rhymes with tequila

And by adore I mean, when I finally got to meet her in person and while she tried to make polite conversation all I did was squee and fangirl all over her about how much I loved her writing.

It was not one of my finer moments.

This was me meeting Lori:

 

 

This was Lori:

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But she handled it with grace and decorum and didn’t call the police for which me and my family are thankful.

Imagine my delight when Lori asked me to participate in a writing blog hop. Was I thrilled?

OF COURSE I WAS THRILLED!!!

Lori is an extremely talented writer and a part of an extremely talented writing duo – her husband is Dave Newman author of, among other things, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children.

When I got my hot little hands on Lori’s book of poetry – Spot The Terrorist – I was blown away not only by her amazing writing but also her style – a wickedly wry scene of humor mixed sweetly with a wistful melancholic backdrop. It’s top notch and I highly recommend picking it up.

(Note: In full disclosure it was after finishing Spot the Terrorist that I decided to challenge myself and got to work on the thematic poetry book How to Be An American, which I hope to one day actually finish. Perchance to dream.)

So anyway (what was that about blathering, Ally?) Lori tagged me in a blog hop (you can read her answers here) and of course I said yes. So here goes:

What are you working on?

I’m working on The Book From Hell. Seriously. It’s called Palimpsest but really I’m changing the name to The Book From Hell if and when I’m done. I was just having dinner with a good friend the other day and he, being familiar with the book in question, asked how revisions were going. I told him well, and that I fully expected that by the end of the month to have enough useless discarded drafts to set a large bonfire on the 68th street pier in Brooklyn before hurling myself into the estuary.

He nodded.

That’s how well he understands this book.

The book is called Palimpsest – which is by definition a manuscript or page from a book where the text has been scraped away in order to be reused. The script that is scraped off is called the scripto inferior. Considering the number of revisions I have done, the books itself has now become an actual Palimpsest.

How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

Palimpsest is  a science fiction book that doesn’t take place in the future or space. It contains time travel which breaks all the conventional rules of time travel and has a good guy that might be a bad guy and a bad guy that might very well be a good guy. It combines Nietzsche, Proust, philosophy, the Matrix, physics, the theory of the Big Bang, multiple dimensions, doppelgangers, Alice in Wonderland and chess.

I haven’t come across too many other sci-fi books like that. Course that’s probably cause it’s un-publishable.

Why do you write what you do?

Because it’s what came to mind. My first novel was a middle grade urban fantasy about a girl who finds out she’s the last living descendant of Shakespeare and who is joined by an immortal Muse by the name of Jonathan to help protect her from Shakespeare’s greatest enemy – the descendant of Kit Marlowe – who wants her dead.

My second novel was a sad quiet story about one boy’s nervous breakdown when his girlfriend and the love of his life is kidnapped. It’s a book about loss and, hopefully, about forgiveness.

Palimpsest, my current sci-fi book is, as I said, about Nietzsche, Proust, philosophy, the Matrix, physics, the theory of the Big Bang, multiple dimensions, doppelgangers, Alice in Wonderland and chess.

If you can tell me what binds those three books together, you win the grand prize because I have no idea. So since we can find no common theme, I’ll just say I write what I do.

How does your writing process work?

The alarm goes off at 5 am. My husband wraps me in a bear hug and whispers in my hair that it’s time to get up. I mutter something that sounds to him like “five more minutes.” He says “You got it, dude” a la Michelle Tanner. In about 12 seconds, not five minutes mind you, he’s again whispering that it’s time to get up.

We get up.

We put on the coffee and tea kettle.

We feed June the cat, who is circling between our legs daring to trip one of us.

I open the door to the closet off my living room. I turn on the little lamp my sister Stephanie bought me years ago. I turn on my laptop. June comes in and curls up on the floor.

In the other room I hear my husband’s radio flip on. He puts on his computer.

The kettle whistles. I pour my tea and his coffee. He hugs me, kisses the top of my head.

We say, “good luck, baby” at the same time.

We write.

We meet up in the kitchen an hour later for more tea and coffee. We trade stories about the morning.

We go back to the our rooms. I can hear him typing from my closet. I delete a paragraph. I change dialogue. June meows and tries to climb in my lap.

At nearly 7:30, two and a half hours later, I hear him call.

“Time to go,” he says.

I save my work. I turn off my computer. I coax June out of the closet.

“How’d it go?” he asks.

“Alright,” I tell him.

“You?”

“Fair to middling,” he says. I turn on the shower. The water hisses. We get ready for work.

 

Next up:

Tammy McKee, author of the newly released Bone Treaty is also the editor at BookFish Books. She’s a bit of crazy (and always hilarious) and that’s why we love her.

And Erin Alberts is an editor and the author of The Prophecy and the upcoming The Outlanders from Muse It Up Publishing. She is an active member of the “Grammar Police” with a badge and everything.

Tune in next week for their answers!

Hiddles, Links, Books and Rowling (oh my!)

31 Jul

 

That’s Hiddles making a little heart for no other reason than the fact that in the universe there is Hiddles making a little heart. And there it is. Don’t you feel better now?

So…here we are – now nearly a month since This Is Sarah was released into the world. Some reviews are coming in and that’s always nice and always appreciated because it helps spread the word. Speaking of, I was talking to my friend Rita about this. She had a podcast coming up for Book Riot (you can listen to the whole thing here) and she was curious about my opinion on how Goodreads is used – mainly do authors want “bad” reviews or is it just better to say nothing?

My answer? Bring on the bad reviews.

First off, everyone gets bad reviews. It happens, and you’ll be sad for a while and then you’ll get over it. Then it will happen again and eventually you won’t care.

But the important part of this is that a review is an OPINION which means that all the reviewer is saying is “I don’t like XYZ” and another reader might see that and say, “Well, gee, I LOVE XYZ” and buy your book. See how that works?

That said, the one thing you never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever do is respond to a review – good or bad, really, but especially bad. We’ve all heard about explosions when authors behave badly.

But the flip side of that coin is that sometimes, readers behave badly. I’ve experienced this too – one reader rated my book one star before it was out…and I know who had ARCS via my publisher and she wasn’t one of them. Instead of responding, I ignored it and it went away. Am I lucky? Maybe. Would it be the end of the world if it had stayed? No.

The message here is this:

Readers – review the book, not the author.

Authors – hush up. Goodreads is a place for readers. Let them be.

Moving along – I have some linky things.

First off, is a recording that John Grochalski did of his poetry reading at Hemingways this past June for the release of Starting With the Last Name Grochalski. It was a great reading – a fun night of poetry and laughs and friends that ended with a mad dash through a Pittsburgh downpour. It was such a good night someone should write a poem about it.

Secondly, I got a little surprise in the mail yesterday – an ARC of Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown.

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I forgot to take a picture of MY copy so you’ll have to settle for the cover from Sam’s site.

Sam was awesome and interviewed me for my release of This Is Sarah and I can’t wait to return the favor during this blog tour. I read the first chapter when it arrived and guys, this is the real deal. I’m so excited.

Next up I’ve got some linky stuff to share:

 

 

  • Also, This Is Sarah was entered into a Book Cover contest. Anita, at Race-Point really did a stellar job so if you have a moment to vote here, you can help her win! It would be much deserved!
  • Many thanks to Clockwise Cat for giving these poems a home.
  • And to Stephen at Dead Snakes for these.
  • I’m going to have a piece out about this on Saturday’s Forked Road – but August 9th is the This Is Poetry party in Illinois so if you’re in the neighborhood, you should check it out. This is Poetry was started by Michele McDannold as a tumblr and has now morphed into their very first book:

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Cool, right? I’m all:

 

And that’s about it from me.

EXCEPT today is JK Rowling’s birthday so to celebrate here’s the amazing new covers that everyone outside North America gets to enjoy!

My favorite new cover is Prisoners of Azkaban:

Azkaban cover

It’s my favorite mainly because it depicts what I think is the best scene in the ENTIRE series – the moment Harry realizes that it was the time-traveled version of himself that saves him from the dementors. It’s very “You are the One You were Waiting For” and it’s fantastic.

Okay that’s it. As of Monday it’s back to novel-writing. I’m looking at you Palimpsest.

Bye kids. Play nice while I’m gone.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

I am Ross’ Nervous Apology

10 May
giphy

This is me.

 

The weird thing about finishing a book is that you would THINK that the moment when the book is available for other people to read would be the best part right?

I mean here you are – having spent all this time living with this story and these people in your mind and now they’re finally going to be shared with the rest of the world. YAY, right? Right?

So why am I filled with so much dread?

Monday is my deadline for any more changes to THIS IS SARAH before BookFish sends it to my line editor who will scowl over my inability to place a comma where it belongs. (Poor line editor.)

Therefore, this is it. Last chance. Last chance to change a line, to make a joke, to have Colin get one more punch in during the fist fight(s). Last chance for Claire to swallow her fear and fake her bravery, something she has become quite apt at doing.

Last chance.

But at the same time, I’m so also weirdly excited to send Colin and Claire off into the world to go live for a brief while in someone else’s mind.

Dichotomy, thy name is Ally.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to apologize to anyone who follows me on twitter or facebook or now, tumblr. (hey, I made a tumblr. I’m still learning the ropes if anyone wants to come play that’d be cool.)

I know I’ve been really annoying this week because we’ve been doing the cover reveal for THIS IS SARAH so all my tweets and posts and tumblr-thingies have been about that. And I know that’s really annoying.

So I’m sorry.

The cover reveal will end on Monday. Then I promise to go back to my less annoying (but probably still a bit annoying) self where all I’ll talk about is enchilada casserole and the Replacements. Then it will get bad again in June when the book comes out.

In June.

Which is soon.

But not as soon as Monday.

Last licks, kids. Cross your fingers I don’t screw it up.

Peace, love and starburts,

Ally

 

 

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

Things and other things about things…with a video

4 Mar

Palimpsest

Hi all.

First off that blob up there is me being a goofball and creating a word cloud out of Palimpsest, the sci fi book I’m in the final death throes of revising.

Word clouds are cool.

Other things that are cool are poems published by Stephen over at Dead Snakes. It took a long time for Summer Lake, Late Nineties to find a home so I’m glad it happened. You can read all three here.

And in other cool news, I got my first book of poems, entitled The Wanting Bone by Six Gallery Press reviewed. I’m completely flattered by all the nice words that Poetry Hound had to say.

You can read it here.

And in the best news of all, my buddy Oscar Varona got a story published. He and his girlfriend Aida are my two favorite artists/ people/humans that don’t live in the US (damn them!). You should read it especially if you like weirdness and Samuel Beckett and funny. And who doesn’t like that?

And finally, soon I’m going to be here:

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and here:

cavern-club1

and also here:

Oxford

and maybe back to here:

stratford

where I’ll finally get to see this:

grave

Cause you guys all know what happened in 2009, right?

Want a hint? The moose outside should have told me.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

A Novel in Numbers

25 Feb

numbers-meme

Here are all the numbers for THIS IS SARAH

Final word count: 45,027

Days spent actively writing: 32

Time this book lived in my head in some form: 2 years

Number of times some variation of the f-word is uttered: 109

Number of times other curses are used: 55

Number of physical fights characters engage in: 2

Number of joints smoked by characters: 2-3

Number of bloody lips: 1

Number of voice mails left by characters: too many to count

Number of therapy sessions: 2

Number of cop interrogations: 2

Number of times a character vomits: 3

Number of marinara sauces made from scratch: 1

Number of hand-written letters from one character to another: 2

Number of smashed bicycles: 1

Number of potential divorces: 1

Number of references to zombies: 2

Number of tears shed: way too many to count

Number of fingers Ally has crossed that her publisher will like the changes: All of them

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