Tag Archives: Palimpsest

Where the Fuck Did May Go?*

24 May

*Yes it’s a David Bowie reference. Yes, I’m still upset. Leave me alone.

We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination. – Tchaikovsky

 

So wow….I seemed to have lost a month. During the beginning of which I turned 39 (!!) and by the end of which, today, my husband reached over and plucked a white hair out of the top of my head.

I’m not even kidding. It was WHITE. I’m officially old.

So in between now and then I have a few people to thank, list-style

In other writing news, I’ve been working with Six Gallery Press and Low Ghost Press on edits to Better Luck Next Year which should be out end of July. In case you don’t know it’s the poetry book that’s all about the cancer escapade. I won’t say journey cause I hate that term. Anyway, I gave Kris at Low Ghost a giant hot emotional mess and out of that he has helped to carve a really honest and raw look at what 2014-2015 was like from the days before diagnosis to the end of treatment.

Caveat: So I’m just going to put this here because a number of people have asked me about treatment lately, specifically Am I done? and if not When will I be? That’s a hard question to answer, even as I come barreling towards Cancerversary #2.  I’m not going to be “done” for a few more years. I’ll be on tamoxifen for at least three more years unless it causes potentially dangerous side effects. I’m still going to be getting injections of ovarian suppressants (Zoladex) for another year and a half. But what I do each month is not at all like what people typically think of when they say “treatment” which is chemo. So I guess the answer is yes-ish but also no-ish.

/end caveat

I’m really excited for Better Luck Next Year. I think it contains some of my best writing – and if not then it’s definitely got the rawest and most honest stuff I have done. I promise it’s not to terribly “woe is me” or too terribly depressing.

In other writing news, I’ve been doing a lot of hand wringing lately over Palimpsest (the massive nightmare that is the sci-fi book.) I’ve been querying agents and I’ve had some very promising leads and bites and interest but nothing that has panned out into an offer. Which is fine, these things take time. That said, at the beginning of the month I had a really interesting conversation with an agent who made some suggestions that would require a big revision.

Big.

And I have been heming and hawing about it for a month now, whinning to friends and beta readers if I should go through with it and “one person’s opinion” and “am I willing to do the work” and whine whine whine.

Ultimately the problem is the end. Endings are HARD. And then a friend shared this list of suggestions from Billy Wilder to Cameron Crowe:

  1. The audience is fickle. Grab ’em by the throat and don’t let ‘em go.
  2. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  3. Know where you’re going.
  4. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  5. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.*
  6. Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you for it.
  7. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees; add to what they are seeing.
  8. The event that occurs at the second-act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  9. The third act must build, build, build in tempo until the last event, and then …
  10. … that’s it. Don’t hang around.

 

* emphasis mine

My friend wrote a whole post about it here which is great and you should read it. It was number five from this list that hit home for me.

And I think I found the problem in the first act. So the only question is should I cut my loses, scrap this to “one person’s opinion” and move on?

Or am I able to do the heavy lifting – the WORK – that will be turning this book around? Am I willing to put my other stuff on hold to go back into the trenches with Palimpsest again?

Oh who am I kidding?

My alarm is already set for 5 am. There is no spoon.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

Cancerversary, or How I Became the Real Ally

10 Jun

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Today’s my cancerversary.

In case it isn’t apparent cancerversary is the anniversary of the day your life was radically changed by a cancer diagnosis. Mine is today. On June 10, 2014 at around 2:00 or so my doctor called. I was at work at the library. I stood in the hall near the bathrooms which was, oddly enough, the most private place I could find where I still got decent reception. And he broke the bad news.

I pretty much said, “Okay” and “thanks.”

He promised to email me my pathology report and he explained that the next step would be finding a surgeon. He suggested I check with my insurance. He gave me a few names to call.

I went downstairs and called my husband.

I don’t know if I said the word cancer or not to him. I might have just said that it came back positive. I don’t actually remember. I know by then I was crying.

An hour later I sat in a meeting at work, listening but not really listening. Talking but not really talking.

Two days later, on my tenth wedding, we met my surgeon. She was nice. She acted like this was no big deal. She used the words small, early and treatable. We liked those words and ate them up like strawberries.

That weekend I met my whole family up in Albany for my nephew’s high school graduation. I told no one. In fact, I kept my cancer a secret for awhile – longer than I had originally planned to.

I’m not a big fan of June 10th. It’s not something I want to celebrate to be honest. My life was sort of cleaved in two on that day and I’m just now, a year later, starting to stitch it back together.

So I suppose I could celebrate another cancerversary. The first surgery? Except then there were two more. The last surgery? But then there was radiation. The last day of radiation? Maybe but I still go for injections every month. It will be years before I hit a point where I only see my oncologist twice a year.

When I was diagnosed lots of people told me that I should appreciate everything now. Suck every last little bit of marrow out of life. And I nodded and agreed but all I could think inside was, but I already do that! I already loved my life. I didn’t need to be shocked into appreciation. I already did! I was a marrow-sucking fool!

But, a year later, here’s something that cancer has given me:

When I was a kid my sister and my friends and I used to play this lava game. Everyone played it so I’m sure you know what I mean. You toss all the couch pillows on the floor and you hop from pillow to pillow and if you touch the “lava” (floor) you die.

I realized recently that my whole life had sort of become one giant game of lava. When I look back on the years the things that stand out where the experiences, the events, the major changes. I hopped from the high school pillow to the college one to the marriage one to the traveling one.

When I looked ahead of me all I saw were more pillows. More things to do. More things to accomplish.

Land a major book deal. Get more poetry published. See more places. My life had been distilled down to a giant checklist. Accomplish. Accomplish. Accomplish.

Once those things happened then, and only then, would my “real life” start.

Then like the Velveteen Rabbit I would be the Real Ally.

Some time last year, I stopped thinking that way. I think it was because it was impossible to think any farther than the next day. That was the reach I had. Everything was distilled down to getting through the next 24 hours. Getting the next call from the doctor. From my father telling me about my mother’s failing health. Getting through each day without falling apart. Thinking that way can change you.

So now, there aren’t any more pillows. Sure, there are things that I would like to have happen; things that would be nice and fun and cool but they don’t define me anymore. All the days count equally. The do-nothing days count just as much as the big days. They’re all my days. Mine to have and enjoy and remember.

My sacred days. I’ve become the Real Ally.

Like David Foster Wallace said, much more eloquently, this is water.

Or in my case: lava. And I’m not going to die if I don’t make it to the next pillow. I’m going to enjoy being in the lava.

I’m not saying that days like today won’t be hard because they will, but anniversaries have a way of slowing you down, of keeping you looking backwards which, sometimes, is the wrong direction. I’ve already spent too much time mourning my sad days. Right now, my chances of getting cancer (again) are just the same as the rest of you. Granted I take drugs to get me even with you but regardless, I’m not wearing a scarlet C anymore.

So with each good MRI, like the first one I got last week (WOOT!) I’ll celebrate the days that passed and the ones yet to come.

That’s about as much a cancerversary as I’m interested in doing. I’ve changed. And I’ll keep on changing. And I’m okay with that.

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In other news, I started a new book this week and it feels really really good to be writing something new. It’s about some old high school friends and a tumble I took off a waterfall leading to a split skull. And eventually a broken heart.

waterfall

And in the way that the world is weird, one of my dearest friends told me that much of the art that he was doing in HS was related to Keith Haring’s glyphs so, since I wanted to include this, I grabbed Harings journals and right now Haring is going on and on about Sartre’s Saint Genet – which I bought used two weekends ago! Prior to reading the Haring, of course.

Full Circle!

And since I started a new novel, I cleaned up my writing room and in case you were wondering what a book really looks like – these are the drafts of Palimpsest. Not even all of them. So just remember that when you’re reading a book behind it are a dozen other working (or not) versions.

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Finally I got a few poems published so many thanks to Dead Snakes for taking these and to Drunk Monkeys for this one. And finally to Exercise Bowler for taking this one.

So that’s it. Every day counts. Regardless if it’s a pillow day or a lava day.

It counts just because it exists and it’s yours. Enjoy them. You’re real, too.

Peace, love and Starbursts,

Ally

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.

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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

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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

Greetings from Niflheim!*

25 Feb

That about sums up my opinion on winter these days. We used to be buddies. Not so much anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a spring as much as I am looking forward to this one.

So in other news, I’m still alive and well and managing and all that fun stuff post-everything. And I’m still hearing from people who have either read the cancer blog or something stupid I said on twitter and who contacted me about it. I think that’s really great because the whole point of writing what I did, and you know, LIFE is to make connections with other people. To say: this looks like that. I feel like you. You’re like me.

Connections.

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Still working on Palimpsest, the scifi novel that might kill me first, and that’s going well. I almost want to say really well but I don’t want to jinx it so mums the word on P——–t.

Mums, I tell you.

I have also been working on poems which has been good cause the part of my brain that writes fiction and the part of my brain that writes poetry are not the same part. My poetry part has been snoring like a log for the last few months. It’s good to see it still works (after large quantities of tea, begging and bribery, that is).

Some people go to support groups or talk to psychologists. I write poems and share them with strangers on the internet. Po-tae-to, Po-tah-to. Connection is a powerful coping tool.

Here’s a few that were lucky enough to find a home in this world. I am eternally grateful to all the editors who took these poems and helped share them. (See above about that whole connections thing.)

After Diagnosis, Chemo and Dog-Eared are all here at The Blue Hour.

Exam Table Paper is here at The Commonline Journal

Ten Years Later, Allyson Stop It and And Yet are here at Dead Snakes.

It feels good to get these guys out there. Like I’m folding up the fear and anxiety into little origami sailboats and setting them adrift into the world. I feel better without them. Lighter. I was writing in my journal the other day about February feeling like the first “normal-ish” month I’ve had since diagnosis. Not like normal-normal, because I still don’t get through a day without thinking about it but normal enough, I guess. Cancer isn’t my first though out of bed and it isn’t my last at the end of the day. It usually shows up somewhere in the middle. And I’ve had more good days than bad (by a lot). More good days than sad days. More good days then I Hate The Universe Why Is This My Life What Did I Ever Do To You days. And I’m working hard on not kicking myself when I do throw little tiny pity parties. It happens. *Toots Party Horn*

And finally, I have a trip coming up.

It will involve lots of these:

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That’s all I’m saying.**

But before I go I just wanted to mention Zoe Keating. I’ve mentioned Zoe on here before telling you how you should really go buy her album for six little dollars on her website. It’s worth about ten times that in my opinion. Last May, Zoe’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. Pretty much everywhere – brain, lungs, bones, liver. After a brave fight, he passed away at home on February 19th.

Zoe is a working artist that I have the utmost respect for. I’ve never met her. I just think she puts something beautiful into the world. And right now, she’s lost the most beautiful thing she had. As a stranger on the internet I can’t really do much except for share her music and encourage you, my friends, to listen.

This is Escape Artist. I would consider it a feat of incredible emotional strength if you could listen all the way through and not be moved. Also, that means you’re probably a robot. Good luck with that.

You can download her album here. $6.00 for beautiful art.

In the meantime, make something beautiful for yourself. And be nice to each other

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

*For those of you curious, Niflheim is a cold mythological place in Nordic stories. It’s also called New York City.

**No lectures allowed on alcohol and recurrence rates. Trust me I read all the literature. Life requires a little risk. It’s called LIVING.

THIS IS ALLY-WEEN

31 Oct

 

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Happy Halloween kids!

Easily my favorite holiday of the year. You can keep your overcooked dried turkeys and your relentless jingle bells. All true mischief makers know that Halloween is the best holiday of the year!

I heard from a pretty reliable source there was promise of Dum-Dums in my future.

ROOTBEER DUM DUMS!!!

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Before we close out this month, I have a couple quick thank yous to share:

Revising/editing/publishing This Is Sarah and revising Palimpsest has really taken up a huge chunk of my writing time in these last 10 months. Poetry has certainly (until recently) taken the backseat so I’m always especially grateful when awesome mags pick up something. So many thanks to Underground Books for taking these poems from the How To Be An American Series and to Commonline Journal for accepting Marriage.

The Blue Hour – one of my favorite magazines – has a new anthology out. This is their third one and if it’s anything like the other two (and I know it will be) it will certainly be a fascinating collection. The best thing about Anthologies is that you get to discover new poets in them! Check it out if you have a chance. Blue Hour doesn’t sell on Amazon so be a gem and get it directly from the site. Then you’re supporting small presses, poetry, and non-behemoths. A win for us all!

In book news, I’ve got a few copies of This Is Sarah involved in a massive giveaway hosted by Krista and Kristen.

I wrote about it here.

So if you want to win some books, there are approximately 9 bajillion available. Enter here!

And in other Sarah news, thanks to Rosie at Eat Read Glam for the review and to Missy at MidSummer for the same.

Blog reviews are gold to a small press publisher. And FINALLY I had a blast bs-ing with Tasha Cotter, my press buddy.  Her new book, Red Carpet Day Job is forthcoming from BookFish Books.

And that’s about it for my month.

Anyway kids, have a blast tonight.

Start Some Trouble.

Fall in Love.

Do the Time Warp Again.

Play piano with a pretty little dead girl.

 

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

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