Tag Archives: novel

Little Surprises Around Every Corner But Nothing Dangerous, or We’ve Got a Delay

27 Jun

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So….

if you check your calendar today is in fact June 27th which was in fact the day that I’ve been saying THIS IS SARAH is going to be out and available for purchase…

BUT…

we’ve hit a little hiccup. Nothing major, nothing terrible but a small delay that has pushed back publication just a bit.

So the book will be out SOON but not today. That said we’re still having the blog tour so, my lovelies, any help you can offer with retweeting and reposting stuff is always always always appreciated.

The folks at BookFish Books (I’m looking at you Tammy, Mary, Jen and Erin) have been absolutely wonderful and I truly could not have asked for a better editing/publishing/listening to me blather about stupid stuff sort of experience.

So just a bit of a wait.

We’re thinking the same thing aren’t we….

wonka

 

In the meantime, I have been awfully remiss regarding linky things so here we go:

1. There is a really fantastic comic called MixTape by Brad Abraham that you should all be reading. I wrote a little thing about it here. It’s wonderfully written, funny, sad, and heartbreaking all at once. And it’s got a killer soundtrack. Also you know how people tell you to follow people on twitter and they’re the creative type so you do thinking “well this should be interesting” but all they do is tweet about how you should buy their book? I hate that. You hate that, too. And that’s why you should follow Brad on twitter because he’s NOT LIKE THAT and he’s freaking funny and real and he’s one of those people that uses twitter right. You won’t be sorry.

2. Alison  Ross just put out the newest issue of Clockwise Cats and it’s HUGE AND AMAZING. You can read the whole thing here. I’ve got a How To Be An American poem in there and another about the fact that every time a guy gives up his seat for me on the subway, I think that he thinks I’m pregnant. You have no idea what this can do to a girl’s psyche.  Honest.

3. The June writing prompt for The Forked Road blog was to describe the sensation of drowning. Ugh, I know, right? Possibly the worst way to die ever. So I did it and most of the piece is actually written from the point of view of the river, which I admit, is sort of cheating.  It’s called The River Fell In Love.

4. My buddy Jason Baldinger has a new book of poetry out. It’s really great and you should read it. I need to write a review (I suck for not doing that yet). Also you should definitely read this if you’re one of those people who think poetry is “dry, boring and something I’ll never understand.” Mr. Baldinger will learn ya something different.

5. My friend Sam Snoek-Brown has a book coming out this fall called Hagridden. I got a chance to read an excerpt and honestly guys, he’s the real deal. You should also check out his blog cause he’s always posting really cool insightful stuff about writing and publishing and life in general. If you’re on the Book of Face, you can like his page here and get all the goods.  Our paths crossed via Jersey Devil Press, which reminds me, Eirik still needs some lungs. Jersey Devil Press did a special issue for Eirik and Monica– just to let them know they’re loved – but there’s still so much ground to cover. If you’ve got any spare change, pony up for a good cause. Check under the couch cushions if you can. If you can’t, then just send some good juju out into the universe, okay?

6. Also John Grochalski who you all thought was JUST a fantastic poet is actually also a fantastic novelist. His novel is called The Librarian and it’s a wry, biting, booze-soaked ride when you’re riding shotgun with Rand Wyndam. Read it. You’ll laugh. I promise. Also, rumor has it he’s got a new book of poetry in the works from Coleridge Street Books. Jot that one down. You won’t be sorry.  He’s on  twitter but he never tweets so let’s all follow him so he feels awkward about it and is forced to participate in social media.

So that’s about it.

Again, thanks for all fracking support lately. It’s meant more than you guys even know. Trust me.

And soon This Is Sarah will be out. Really soon. Even sooner than soon.

 

spaceballs

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

THIS IS SARAH – Teaser Thursday

26 Jun

 

 

This Is Sarah banner (6)Hi all.

Teaser Thursday really doesn’t have the same ring to it as Teaser Tuesday but oh well.

So we’re up to another Claire chapter. This also might be considered a little bit of a cheat since I posted an earlier version of this exact section months ago but whatever. It’s changed. That’s all that matters.

They found her red Chuck Taylor sneakers five miles from where her car was, deep in the woods.

One was unlaced, as if she had undone it and slipped her foot out of it right there under that canopy of trees.

The other was still tied.

Snow filled them like little red candies covered in sugar.

In the police station, in that evidence bag, they seemed so small, as the snow slowly melted off them, staining the fabric and dripping into the bottom of the bag. I couldn’t imagine them fitting Sarah’s feet. I couldn’t imagine them fitting my own.

Sarah’s empty shoes.

I thought about how they’d never be worn again. How she would never slide her foot inside, how her fingers would never tug those laces and loop them closed.

Her room back home was filled with things that would go unused. They’d just sit there, waiting for Sarah to come home, collecting dust.

All the things Sarah left behind.

When I saw the shoes, sitting in the police station, a noise escaped me. Not quite a sob, but a cry—a shock of disbelief—and my hope retreated as I realized I was now one of those things. Like her clothes, her jewelry, her records or her shoes.

I was just another thing Sarah left behind.

 

Okay so apparently there is only one day left till this book is out which is sort of insane. If you haven’t added it to your Goodreads list, you can do so here and also try your luck at winning a free copy from my publisher.

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

This Is Sarah – Teaser Wednesday

25 Jun

This Is Sarah banner (6)

 

Good Wednesday Morning.

I promised drugs last time didn’t I? Relax, it’s just pot. This segment of the novel is a part of a Colin chapter. He’s been dragged out of the house by friends so he can start acting like a human being. They’re all at the lake getting stoned. Happy reading!

 

I took out my phone.

Hi. This is Sarah. You know what to do!”

“Hey Baby. It’s, um…late. Friday night. I’m at the lake with Ben, Slade and Rich. Remember the first time we came out here? Remember how cold the water was? God, we were little then, only in middle school. I liked you even then, Sarah. Man, I was pathetic. It’s amazing you even agreed to date me.” I laughed at the memory and then choked on the smoke as I took another hit. “Remember that summer when we all went skinny dipping? Shit, we were so stoned.” I pulled on the joint and sat down at the edge of the dock.

“That was fun, Sarah. We always had fun together. I think that’s the part I miss the most. I’m out here right now and it just feels forced, like I’m trying to fool myself back into my life. Like if I do the stuff I used to do then it will start my life again. But it isn’t my life anymore. Does that make sense?”

In the distance an owl hooted and Ben’s honking laugh ripped through the quiet. Someone called my name. A girl down on the beach squealed and laughed. Somewhere water splashed.

“Colin!” Marie called again, her voice all sing-songy.

“Those were good times, weren’t they Sarah? Too good, almost like a dream. I guess that’s why when people said you ran away it made me so nuts. Why would you leave this? Why would you even want to? Shit, I’m leaving at the end of August and I can barely believe it. Fucking college.”

“Colin, you fuckface. Get over here with that joint.”

Slade shouted this loud enough to send the birds on the other side of the lake flapping into hysteria. I watched them cut across the night sky. For as fucking loud as he was, it’s amazing we all didn’t get busted by the cops.

“Sarah…” I swallowed, my throat suddenly bone dry. “My shrink, she says I need to let you go or I’ll never get better.  I’m scared because sometimes, like right now, sitting on this fucking dock, watching the lake and how fucking beautiful it all is…at times like these I think she’s right. I’m not really living my life. Then I come undone with fucking guilt because why should I live my life? Right, Sarah? If you don’t get to…”

The clouds cleared and up above the stars winked on, one by one, as if someone flipped a switch.

“I’m afraid if I don’t keep this tight fucking grip on you, on everything you meant to me, that you’ll leave me again. I’m so afraid of that happening because the first time I lost you…it hurt too much. I don’t think I can handle losing you all over again.”

“COLIN!”

“I have to go Sarah,” I stubbed the joint out on the edge of the dock and struggled to stand. “Fuck, Sarah, I have to go. You understand? I think my shrink might be right. I think…Fuck. I think I have to stop leaving these messages because I think it’s fucking me up. I’m so sorry, Sarah. I love you, Baby. I never wanted to lose you. Ever.”

I hung up the phone and joined them. Marie came over, squeezed my arm. She smiled at me and I wanted to smile back, but I suddenly forgot how. The smell of the woods and the lake water was thick in the warm air. The sound of my friend’s laughter floated towards me on a breeze―like a language I used to speak but no longer knew.

“Wanna take that walk, Col?” Marie asked her eyes all wide and outlined in black.

My answer lodged in my throat. It was right there. And it was the truth. I opened my mouth, but I don’t know if it was the pot or just me, but nothing came out.

 

Okay so only a few more days (hopefully!) before the release of THIS IS SARAH. You can still toss your hat in the ring for a free copy here.

Till next time.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

This Is Sarah – Teaser Tuesday

24 Jun

This Is Sarah banner (6)

 

Heh. Teaser Tuesday. Alliteration is fun.

So yesterday we covered the whole fighting thing and I know I promised some pot smoking but since we did Colin (Sarah’s boyfriend) yesterday I thought we could spend a little time with Claire (Sarah’s little sister). I promise we’ll get stoned tomorrow. Just to give a little context, this is the first day of school and Claire’s is now a sophomore. At this point in the story, her sister has been missing for just under 4 months.

 

New year. Anything is possible in a new year. That was my mantra.

Mrs. Barrie went through the list, Allison Anderson, John Annet, Steve Barton, Katherine Beck and Paul Billings. There were a lot of new faces. New faces were good. New faces meant potential new friends. New distractions. New opportunities.

A new life.

“Claire Evans.”

I raised my hand. “Here.”

And in that moment, they all turned. Twenty-five heads swiveled, twenty-five pairs of eyes combed over me. I felt like a thing in a shop window. The Newly Minted Only Child.

No. I can’t do this. Remember the mantra: New year. Anything is possible in a new year.

Mrs. Barrie stood stock still for just a moment as her smiled faded. “You’re Claire Evans?”

“Yes.” I forced a smile. Please don’t. Please just move on. Please.

“I…” Mrs. Barrie laid a hand over her heart and began to fiddle with the cross around her neck. “I…”

I wished for two things. One, that Mrs. Barrie just continued on with the roll call, and two, that I sat closer to the front of the room. If I sat in the front I wouldn’t be staring into all these faces right now.

Faces that searched me with wide eyes and down-turned mouths. Twenty-five sets of eyes now tried to read me, to know what it was like at home with Sarah gone, to be the sister of the girl taken. Twenty-five sets of eyes wondering what it was like to walk in this living nightmare.

When they stared at me I didn’t even feel like a person anymore, but like a thing to be observed, to be pitied or feared, lest sorrow and pain and awful bad luck become catchy. Time slowed to a crawl. I couldn’t do this.

“What?” I finally blurted out to all those eyes and frowning faces.

“I…” Mrs. Barrie stuttered. “I…I’m really happy to meet you. I also taught your sister.”

The word came out like an exhale, a sliver of cold air leaving her lungs, slicing through the space between us.

Sister.

I felt the weight of that word―a word I no longer said. A word that defines a thing I no longer am.

Teenager.

Daughter.

Sister.

Not anymore.

“I…” Mrs. Barrie said again.

New year. Anything is possible in a new year.

“I’m…really…” Mrs. Barrie fumbled her voice catching.

Please just stop. It’s a new year. Anything is possible in a new year.

I closed my eyes and said it over and over again. I didn’t even care if they still looked at me, if they saw my lips moving. I didn’t care if they thought I was crazy. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe we’ve all gone a little fucking crazy.

 

Okay, drugs tomorrow, I swear. And again, THIS IS SARAH is out this week from BookFish Books who are, without a doubt, some of the most supportive enthusiastic people I’ve ever worked with in the book biz. I owe them.

And finally, remember there are 10 copies of THIS IS SARAH in the goodreads giveaway if you want to try to get your greedy little hands on them.

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

This Is Sarah – Teaser Week

23 Jun

This Is Sarah banner (6)

 

Hi.

So THIS IS SARAH is due out on Friday (what???). I’ll be spending this week posting excerpts from the book so you guys can see what it’s all about. The chapters alternate between Colin (Sarah’s boyfriend) and Claire (Sarah’s little sister) so I’ll be doing a little of each. Here’s a Colin chapter. I’m not giving any context, cause well, that could spoil the story and we don’t want that now do we?

Also – word of warning – for those of you with delicate ears, you might want to skip this. There’s loads of bad language here.

 

I hang up just as Michael grabs me and pulls me out of the closet. The phone falls out of my hand, clattering to the floor. I don’t have time to balance myself, let alone get him off me, before he throws me against the wall of lockers.

Just for the record, you see this sort of shit in movies all the time―people getting thrown into walls and doors, and they just bounce right back like the whole place is padded or something. Well the lockers sure as shit aren’t padded, and as one of the locks grinds into my lower spine, I can promise you it hurts way more than you imagine. White hot pain shoots up to my shoulders.

“What the fuck did you say to her?” Michael growls.

For a moment everything goes blank and I curl my hand into a fist. Michael lets me go and I turn to walk away, but he’s not done, and now he grabs me again by the shirt and throws me back against the locker.

More pain and then something just snaps in my head. I picture them together. I see Michael kissing Sarah, taking off her clothes. I see him whispering in her ear. In my head everything goes white, and I swing.

My fist connects with his jaw and his head snaps back. I swing again, even though my hand is on fire with pain, and I worry that I broke at least a few bones. Michael turns fast, as my fist swishes through the air, just missing the wall of lockers. He swings, his fist connecting with my jaw, and the pain explodes up the side of my face.

A crowd of students gathers, giving us a wide berth.

I charge him, throwing my full weight against him and we hit the other wall with a bone shattering thwack. I land one solidly in Michael’s stomach and he doubles over.

“Fuck you.” I spit out a small red splotch of blood and scan the floor for my phone but don’t see it. I turn to look for it when I hear my name.

“Colin!” I look up and see Claire, her face a sheet of white. I want to say something, tell her I’m sorry and it’s okay, but right then Michael shoves me hard in the back throwing me off balance. When I turn to face him, his fist slams into my stomach and I hit the floor, my knees screaming in pain, coughing and sputtering.

“What the fuck did you say to her?” Michael leans down right next to my ear. “What the fuck did you say to Jenna, you sick fuck?”

I cough, spit up some blood. My lip is split open. I can barely get any air into my lungs.

“What the fuck did you say to Jenna?”

“Nothing.”

Michael grabs me by the shoulders and gives me a rough shake, as if trying to rattle the truth right out of me. His teeth are soaked in blood, the same blood drying on my fist. I split his lip wide open when I punched him, and I already see the bruises starting to blossom on his cheekbone. I wonder how I look.  I dab at my own lip. I’ve never hit anyone in my life; yet Michael, who used to be my best friend, stands here bleeding all over me.

“I didn’t say anything.” I push him off me and struggle to stand.

“Why did Jenna come out crying, Colin? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

Michael, also out of breath, stands up, pointing a finger at me. “Listen you sick fuck. You go right ahead and fall apart, okay? I don’t care what you do to yourself. Go completely mental. Put yourself in the hospital. Fucking kill yourself. It’ll give the rest of us a fucking break. I don’t care. But so help me God, I refuse to let you take Jenna down with you. She’s been through too much. Not Jenna. Not after we lost Sarah.”

I see white again. Hear a buzzing noise in my ears. “We? What the fuck do you mean ‘we’?”

 

So there you go. Cursing, blood, high school fist fights. Remember when I said this was a quiet sad story?

Tomorrow we’ll add a little drug use, cause why not?

Remember you can still toss your hat in the ring to win one of the 10 copies of THIS IS SARAH that my publisher is giving away here.

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Book! It’s a Book! Look a Book!

19 Jun

 

Okay first things first, I’m over at The Forked Road spilling secret family recipes! I cannot explain to you how delicious and utterly unhealthy this meal is.

You won’t be sorry. Well you might be “sorry” but you won’t be SORRY.

Trust me.

Next up….

Guess what’s done?

Guess?

Guess?

It’s this!

cover_WRAP_web

 

I finished my final edits of THIS IS SARAH this morning

(after working on it last night, and the night before that, and the morning before that nonstop because DEADLINE!!!).

But it’s finished.

Finished.

Finished Finished Finished Finished.

This is me:

ross-dancing-o

And next week, Universe-willing, it will be a book.

A physical, pick it up and turn the pages book.

Whoa.

It’s kind of weird thinking I’m done. Like, now what am I going to spend my writing mornings on?

What’s next? Do I start the waterfall book? Finish Palimpsest? The How To Be An American Poems?

Who cares!??

This baby is DONE!

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PS….you can win a copy here if you’re the lucky type

Monday Morning Poems, an Excerpt link, and A Small Ranty Thing About This Country

19 May

Good morning, lovelies…

I am exhausted this morning from a fantastic family weekend so I’ll keep try to keep this short.

The very cool Jonathan Penton at Unlikely Stories was kind enough to accept this How To Be An American poem to add to what is a great collection for the May issue of Unlikely Stories. Please be sure to check out the rest of the issue. It’s chock full of goodness.

And I would also like to say thanks to Stephen Williams at Dead Snakes for taking these poems.

I’m a lucky girl.

Also the Forked Road has another THIS IS SARAH excerpt. The book is written in alternating viewpoints from Claire (Sarah’s little sister) and Colin’s (Sarah’s boyfriend).

You can read Colin’s piece here and you can the Claire one here if excerpts are your kind of thing.

And finally I know I said that this is going to a short post but I’ve got this thing nagging at me. I’ve received some rejections for poems lately for the How To Be An American series and both times I was called Anti-American. Before we go into this I feel the need to say the following:

DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NO PROBLEM BEING REJECTED. MY WHOLE WRITING CAREER IS 90% REJECTION, 10% PUBLICATION.

That part is really important to understand. I get that if you put stuff out there you’ll inevitably get most of it rejected. That’s fine. My thick skin is fully insulated. So it’s not about being rejected, okay? Understand? Good.

It’s about the notion that these poems are Anti-American or more so that to criticize our country = Anti-Americanism. I’m just curious when that happened? When did observing our failures (because we do have them) become akin to ignoring our successes? When did my acknowledging that there are places where we have seriously dropped the ball suddenly mean that I’m a communist (which I was called)?

This all seems particularly short-sighted.

This Sunday the New York Times had an article on adding trigger warnings to texts so that college kids can be prepared to deal with thing that make them uncomfortable.

At Oberlin College, a draft petition asked teachers to flag anything that might disrupt a students learning. This is from the NY Times article:

“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” the guide said. “Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” For example, it said, while “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe — a novel set in colonial-era Nigeria — is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

Where do we go from here?

How do we possibly grew and fix society if we don’t face the ugly upsetting things head on? Isn’t the point of art and college to challenge us? To make us think?

Now, please don’t for a second thing that I think that just because I wrote a poem that might cast America in a poor light that I should automatically have it published because that would be nonsense. Editors have the right to publish whatever they want. I’m just curious about this notion that to criticize a nation is akin to being its enemy.

Did we really all take Bush’s “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” thing to heart?

Or as we so isolated, constantly hearing opinions that mirror our own that something outside of our experience shatters our delusions about the world we live in?

I write about this country because I want it to be better.

I want the kids that go to school to not worry about dying when they refuse a prom date.

I want parents to trust that when the drop off their kindergarten those babies will come home at the end of the day – alive and well and not in body bags.

In what universe is that wrong???

I want us to be better. And to be better we need to talk about where we fail. And isn’t that the purpose of art? Not to pad down all the ugly parts but to hold them up so that we can see the cracks in the glass. So that we can figure out how to seal them over again?

So that we can actually strive to be the country we’re currently pretending we are?

Sigh….Anyway….that’s enough out of me.

Happy Monday.

Be nice to each other, okay?

Peace, Love and Starbursts

Ally

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