Tag Archives: Publish-y stuff

Post-California update but really, it’s just about poetry.

21 Oct


I’m back from California where I met amazing people, heard amazing poety, drove amazing roads, saw amazing animals, ate amazing food and then took one very NOT amazing flight home. This whole traveling thing would be much easier if someone could just knock me over the head as soon as the plane takes off and wake me up when it lands.

That said, I’ll have a post (with pictures!) on all that soon. In the mean time, here’s some poetry stuff.

First off, many thanks to the fine folks at Red Fez for taking this poem about America being lonely. It’s another poem from the series that I’m working tentatively entitled How to Be An American. More info here.

Also, here’s a poem I wrote this morning cause sharing is caring. Also this is probably the longest poem I’ve ever written. Consider that a warning.

Kevin loves Lisa

This is what it says on the metal door of the bathroom stall.




with a little heart for emphasis.

Next to that it says

Shane and Mary forever.

And above that

Matthew and Marie equals destiny.

I couldn’t help but enjoy the rhyme scheme on that one

as I sat there, peeing out the four beers

we’d already had in this tourist trap

of a bar on the San Francisco wharf

because we were too tired

after hitching a ride back

over the Golden Gate bridge

from a Scottish man driving

a tourist trolley

who said the company charges 35 a piece

but he’d take both of us for 15

as long as we had cash,

we did,

and don’t mind the stopover in Sausalito.

We didn’t.

And now here I am,

too tired to walk back up to North Beach,

reading the graffiti in the women’s room stall

all about love.

I never have a pen on me

let alone a sharpie

to doodle

my thoughts on the metal doors of bar restrooms

probably because I don’t carry a purse,

but other people do,

because I am never without reading material.

I wonder about these women,

the ink at their fingertips,

the truth of their heart

and minds ready to become a permanent part

of the bar landscape

and I can’t help but think

that’s it?

that’s all they have to say is

that Kevin loves them?

Not even that they love Kevin.

No, the order is important.

Kevin Loves Lisa forever and ever and ever.

This is the most we can muster, women?


Because back in New York City

which feels so far from here

and back in time

farther still

someone once scribbled

You’re drunk Kerouac go home

in the men’s room stall of the White Horse

which as far as graffiti goes, is pretty damn good.

And I can’t help but wonder

what else we can write besides

Kevin Loves Lisa

which of course

I’m sure he does

or did

at the moment Lisa pulled from her bag

a sharpie and sealed their future on this door.

And I wonder is it the beer

or the chocolate-tinis that stifles our pen?

That stays our tongue?

That reduces us to nothing more than

Kevin Loves Lisa.

Not even Lisa loves Kevin

because we all know

to be loved

is better than to love.

No one writes poems on the walls of this bar

but I’ve seen a few in the Grassroots

and once an amazing doodle

on the side of a piano

which shared the bathroom space

in New Orleans.

No, on this door,

it is love and only love that we want to talk about,

that Lisa and Marie and Mary,

three women who I now picture together

here in this stall,


brave on vanilla flavored shots

breaking the rules

in their first big girls weekend

trip to San Francisco.

And suddenly, while peeing,

I hate these girls.

I hate them for not being poets

for reducing themselves

to nothing but their relationships

as if couple-dom is the ultimate

status update.

I hate these girls for having nothing

in the empty little heads and empty

little hearts

but to declare

that they have something

that you don’t.

They have a love,

who loves them

all the time and don’t you doubt

it cause that’s why they wrote it in permanent ink.

I’m being harsh, I know,

as I ball up the toilet paper and wipe and flush

and wash my hands and return to the bar

to ask my husband

what men write about on the walls of

their stalls

because it has to be better

than what we women got going and I’m starting

to think that the war of the sexes

will never end if we keep

ratcheting up the bulllshit quota

by deciding to limit ourselves

to the two names between the ampersand,

to define ourselves by the fingers entwined

or not entwined in ours.

I want to find Lisa and shake her

and ask her what she thought the day

she saw her mother crying at the kitchen table

or what she thought

the first time she heard a record skip

Did she believe with all her heart that this moment

was never going to be the same?


I want to know what Kevin thinks,

what he writes on the stall doors

so I ask my husband who cocks an eyebrow

because it seems that I’m always

asking these sort of things

and I wonder if that too

is getting tiring.

What do they write on the stalls, I ask,

as he pulls on his beer and glances

at the playoff game over the bar,

knowing he’s secretly rooting for the Dodgers

even though we’re in Giants country

and he says

it’s mostly about getting head.

Or getting laid.

Or getting some.

And I sigh

and drink my beer

and think

maybe it doesn’t matter

maybe I’m just an old married woman

who doesn’t remember what it’s like

to want to tell the whole world

about how great Kevin is.

And maybe he is,

even if he did write that thing

about getting head on the bathroom wall

of his stall

which I hope, for Lisa’s sake isn’t about her.

And then I think

I hope that I won’t have to pee again

before we get up the hill to Broadway

and Columbus

to have a dark and stormy at Vesuvio.

Peace Love and Starbursts,


End of an Era

9 Oct

So my submission notebook finally gave out.

All the pages are filled.

I know what you’re thinking. Who cares, right? Get a new notebook.

Thing is I bought that notebook back in 2000. Thirteen years ago at the Pitt campus bookstore I snatched that notebook off the shelf and decided that while it was great to write my little heart out, if I didn’t have the chutzpah to put it out in the world then what was the point?

I was 23 years old. Christ.

download (1)

The first entry was from August 19th 2000. I submitted poems to Alembic – a now defunct press in Philadelphia. They took two, Little Love Poem and An Apology in November. I don’t even have those poems anymore. They were written on a word processor. It looked like this:


And then saved on one of these

which I used to keep wrapped in a plastic baggie – just in case it rained – in the pouch of my backpack.

Blind Dumb Walking Space was rejected. With a title like that, I can’t really blame them.


This was back when you mailed things.  No email attachments, no submishmash, no paste in the body of the email. You printed it out, folded your SASE (Bonus points if you still know what that even means)  into the envelope – DON’T FORGET THE STAMP – and the dropped it in the box with an extra stamp cause those five sheets of paper felt a little bulky. Then you waited two months for an answer.

Man, you could go broke mailing out to the little rags.

Aside from this book being a cool little record of everything I got accepted and rejected over the last 13 years, it’s also a reminder of how you grow a skin. I used to keep the rejections in a little folder. Little slips of paper that said, “I’m sorry your work does not fit our needs” or just a handwritten note that said “sorry, not for us.” I kept all of them. In the beginning they crushed me. Eventually they barely elicited a shrug. They’re all lost now. In the successive moves from apartment to apartment from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn to Buffalo and back to Brooklyn I lost them. But not this book.

Inside is a record of every poem accepted. Ever story rejected. A huge list of agents – all of which also rejected me.

It’s humbling. I’m not saying I have anything to be particularly boastful about – that’s not what I mean – but it’s humbling in the sense that you really get a scope of how much work goes into each small accomplishment.  Each poem accepted came off of rejections. Each story. Each novel.

It’s like a little written history of How Ally Grew Her Skin and Put Her Writing Out There.

I’ll miss this little notebook.  I learned a lot with her.download (2)

Pushcart, Poems, and Paintings

23 Sep


So the really wonderful ladies over at Blue Hour press were nice enough to nominate my poem, Worship for a Pushcart. The Pushcart is a best of the small press award. I think it’s 100% awesome that out of all the poems that Blue Hour published this year, they picked mine. I can’t thank them enough for their support. As I’ve said before, I have the utmost respect for small presses.

Speaking of poetry, I’ve started writing a chapbook tentatively titled How To Be An American. Normally when I put a chapbook together, I just haphazardly throw together 50-60 poems and hope for the best. But this time, I’m writing with a theme.


So I’ve been reading this book called Culture Shock: America which was written to acclimate new immigrants to the weird ways of Americans. The whole things has been sort of strange because while the book definitely has gross assumptions and stereotypes, some of it hits so close to home it’s unsettling. I pulling a line from the book and then writing a poem. Like this:

Americans Have an Enthusiastic Look. They Feel Empowered. No one Else Has That Special Kind of Confidence


Making our way through Paris,

my husband has left behind the baseball caps

that normally grace his head.

We’ve packed only plain t-shirts.

We keep the map folded, out of sight in our back pocket.

We speak in low, hushed tones

anxious about speaking English

and our American accents

and yet,

here he comes, in tight jeans, a small scarf,

his face shaved,

lithe, attractive,

crossing the wide open

space of the garden

points and says “Obama, ça va?”

He gives us a thumbs-up and a too loud laugh before passing.

So this weekend, I went to see the Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum and on the way, had a conversation with the mister about ny and he was telling me about this thing that he read on Salon (which I can’t find to link to) about two competing writers talking about the cost of NYC. Here’s my take on this. Rent is high, but there are so many cheap/free things to do in the city it’s insane. All summer there are free movies, free Shakespeare in the Park, plays that have discounted nights, nearly every museum has a free day. For instance every Saturday you can see these for free from now until February:

and every friday night, you can go to the MoMA, like we did after the Chagall, and see these for free:

and you know, not to mention this:


And then afterwards you’ll spend all day singing Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog….after the war. (Curse you Paul Simon!)

All I’m saying is it’s a pretty good deal. People should really take advantage of it.

Peace, love and arty-happiness,


Soft Machines at Blue Hour

20 Sep


Many many many thanks to the lovely ladies over at Blue Hour for publishing this poem, Soft Machines.

Please, do yourself a favor and pick up some of their books. They are putting really quality poetry out into the world. And when really quality poetry is in the world, the world is a better place.

Peace, love and starbursts,


Doctor, Doctor, Doctor

5 Aug


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.”

Daughter of Chaos Cover Reveal

4 Jul

Jen McConnel was the first person in the whole wide world that wasn’t related to me or my friend who read my novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb and then wrote about it on her blog. So you can understand why I’m so happy to be announcing that she’s got a new novel coming out via Month9Books!

Nothing is more terrifying than the witch who wields red magic.

DOC cover

Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.

DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is the first in a YA paranormal trilogy. Coming March 2014 from Month9Books.


Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).
She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.
A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Add DAUGHTER OF CHAOS on Goodreads!

Follow Jen McConnel on Twitter

Connect with her on Facebook.

Visit her website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nice, right? I’m so happy for her. Jen, you rock! Can’t wait to read it.

The Blue Hour Anthology Volume Two Pre-order, AKA the onus is on us

25 Jun

Image of The Blue Hour Anthology Volume Two

The Blue Hour, which is truly a great press, now has their second Anthology available for pre-order. I’m not saying you should get it cause they were kind enough to include me, but because it is a solid intense moving collection of poetry. And because if we don’t support small presses giving voice to new writers and artists, then who will?

The onus is on us – if you care about art or you make art – you have entered into a contract by which you will support art.

Ms. Moriah LaChapell Shalock posted the following quote on facebook and it deserves repeating:

Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo

-Don Marquis

All the information you could possibly need is here:

The Blue Hour Anthology Volume Two Pre-order.

While you’re thinking about it, check out the first anthology and Better Cigarettes and Other Poems by Phillip Vermass who also runs Misfit’s Miscellany.

Really good stuff.

Don’t let the echo go unheard.

Six Gallery Bowie

20 Jun

So back in 2008, Six Gallery Press published my first (and currently only) book of poems entitled The Wanting Bone.

Why am I telling you this? Cause they got a new blog and I think you should check it out.

They publish really great writers like John Grochalski (who in full disclosure I am married to, but my opinion of his writing is totally unbiased, I swear) and Don Wentworth (who not only is a fantastic poet but runs Lilliput Review one of my favorite mags) and Scott Silsbe and Jason Baldinger and Jonathan Moody and Kris Collins and lots and lots of other really really great writers.

Prove it, you say? Here, in fact, is a bit of that pudding:

Stop counting syllables

Start counting the dead

                             – From Past All Traps by Don Wentworth

History isn’t like us at all, it seems. And lately,

it’s hard to tell who’s doing the remembering anyway.

At any rate, the chalkboards tire of synonyms.

and all those left behind mourn less and less.

Everything’s erasable for someone at a dead end.

No regrets this year. Better luck next time.

                                           – From Beyond Naming by Scott Silsbe

See? Really great stuff.

In other non related news, here’s some Bowie. Why? Because…it’s Bowie.

The thing I love about this video is that even though Tilda Swinton is in it, I’m still not convinced that she and david bowie are not the same person

Point Mass Anthology

19 Jun

Since my last post was so long, I’ll keep this one short.

I just wanted to say thank you to AJ Huffman at Kind of a Hurricane press for including my poem, Astronaut in her anthology Point Mass.

You can download the whole thing here for free or you can buy a paperback copy from Amazon.

See? Nice and short.

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

4 Jun


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

%d bloggers like this: