The Creativity Cycle as Illustrated by Emily Cheeseman (Twitter)

I go through extreme phases of burnout and momentum as illustrated above.  I wouldn’t have been able to explain it as succinctly (or artistically) as Emily has done.

At this moment, however, I’m going through a writerly do-nothing period.  I had a momentum burst to work on After the Fall not long after finishing Cliche, but it was short-lived.  Now, I’m focusing on my studies and all the things I have to focus on, and forcing myself to remain dormant so that I can tackle my Cliche rewrites at the end of the year.


The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (2017, Middle Grade)

The Gauntlet is Karuna Riazi’s debut middle-grade novel from the Salaam Reads imprint of Simon and Schuster.  I won an autographed (!!!) copy of this book from a giveaway earlier this summer by the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, and it’s one of the loveliest middle grade stories I’ve read this year.

It’s Farah Mirza’s twelfth birthday, and in addition to celebrating with her friends Essie and Alex, she must also watch over her hyperactive younger brother Ahmad.  Her visiting aunt, Zohra, mysteriously promises to give her a present after the party, but Ahmad can’t wait.

Before the kids can stop him, Ahmad helps himself to a package in the Mirza’s guest room where Auntie Zohra is staying, which contains a peculiar game called the Gauntlet, which turns out to be extremely captivating … literally.  Continue reading →

Why are my poems always so depressing?

Something I’m sure you’ve all noticed and that I’m definitely self-conscious about is the nature of my poems.  I rarely write happy poetry, or poetry that is remotely positive.  I feel self-conscious because I worry my poetry may be hurtful to others who struggle with their own negative emotions.

Well, poetry is cathartic for me.  It allows me to say the things I can’t say in regular words, sentences, paragraphs….  If I’m happy, I feel I can be pretty open about it.  If I’m happy, it’s usually because of positive things.  If I’m upset, it’s usually due to other people, and I don’t want to name and shame.  I’ve tried to channel my happy feelings into poetry, but it just doesn’t work the same way.

“Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”  Those are the words of Carrie Fisher, of blessed memory – an actress I’ve always wanted to meet (and hope someday to meet when my time is up), and an author I don’t plan to read.  But these wise words resonate with me.

My heart has been broken plenty of times, though not in the way Taylor Swift or Carrie Fisher or other amatonormative artists likely discuss in their works.  The best thing I can do is make art out of my negative feelings.  I can only do so much venting to my fellow, fallible humans.

Still, I hope sometime I’ll get better at channeling other emotions into verse.  Art should inspire others to make better art, even if I’m not there yet.

Authors & Fans, Part II

Earlier this year, I blogged about how two of my friends, on opposite sides of the Author-Fan relationship spectrum, had interesting experiences.  One of my friends was slighted by an author who took her criticism out of context; the other is a creator who’s had to deal with an overly attached young fan.

In recent months, I’ve experienced a similar challenge to my author friend.  When people join the very small Allison the Writer fandom, I appreciate it so much, but that doesn’t make me best buddies with all of my fans.  It’s true, I have good friends who have become fans of my work, and I also have fans of my work who have become my good friends.  But this doesn’t apply to everyone, and in my situation, I feel the fan wasn’t getting that.

There’s a lot of background information that I feel would be inappropriate and disrespectful to get into, so I’ll cut to the chase.  Long story short, I asked them (as politely as I could manage) to leave me alone, to not email me as they’d been doing every time I posted something new and interesting to the blog.  It’s a free country and I can’t stop them from reading my blog, even leaving public comments on my posts.  (I mean, I could, but I really shouldn’t….)

I saw the way a famous author acted beneath her dignity and slighted my friend on social media; I’d hate to be that person to somebody else.  As an author, artist, creator, I feel I have an obligation to be professional, not pettily vindictive or mean simply because I have the power to do so.  Everything I said about barriers of professionalism still stand for me, and as challenging as it may be, I must stick to them.

Anyway, this small, somewhat annoying challenge was a good opportunity to practice what I’d preached with little experience to justify it at the time.  At the end of the day, I’m grateful to G-d for giving me this test.

Progress on After the Fall

I have good news: I’ve been on a roll with writing After the Fall.

From May to August 2016, I’d managed to churn out several chapters in quick succession.  It was an intense and exciting time, and I was hoping to finish the story before a certain significant milestone in my life.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and when Autumn rolled around, I started to run out of steam.

It’s taken a while, but I’m so glad to say I’ve returned to this project and I’m making significant headway once again.  I am so in love with the story I was trying to tell that I felt so guilty at the thought that it might get permanently shelved as so many others have.  Fortunately, that’s not happening!

Where I’d left the story, I had a bunch of unfinished, disjointed chapters and snippets that didn’t really have places in the current order of things.  I managed to salvage most of them and rework them slightly until everything fit together.  But there’s still so much more to write and I’m so ready to write it.  (I’m not sure if it will be a novel-length work by the time it’s done, but that really doesn’t matter to me as long as the story flows.)

Here’s the kicker: I’m seriously considering pulling another Seaport for After the Fall.  When I self-published Secrets in Seaport, I was overconfident in my self-editing skills and I inflicted the story upon the world in a frankly sorry state.    But as much as I hate Seaport now, I force myself to keep it available as a snapshot of my abilities at the time it was written; a cringey milestone, if you will.  I’ve promised myself to do better next time.

Cliche is my attempt at doing things better, more traditionally and responsibly for self-publication.  It’s being beta-read.  When that’s done, I’m going to edit, revise, and proofread it to the best of my current abilities.  Then and only then will I publish it.

After the Fall is kind my book-baby.  I want it to be delivered into the world as all babies are, bare and helpless.  (The comparison sounded way better when I said it aloud to my mother….)  If I’m to spend months or even years editing this, as I grow older, it will change too.  It’ll age with me.  It won’t be the story whose general plot I jotted down on a sheet of loose-leaf paper two years ago.

When I finish After the Fall, I’ll do a basic self-edit and some other minor damage-control rituals (to make sure no one’s backing their cars into circular driveways and people’s ages don’t change when they shouldn’t … stuff like that), but then I just want to publish it.

This is a conscious choice made with experience, however impulsive it seems, to publish this book “raw.”  It’s imperfect, holey, unrealistic, you name it.  But that’s how I think I want it to be.  I want it to be a testament to where I am now, that I can look back and cringe at when I’m older.  Hopefully, I’ll cringe a bit less at this one.

Who Needs Diverse Books … More?

A while ago, my friend of mine shared an interesting Tweet about how ARCs (advanced review copies) of an up-and-coming book about marginalized people seem to be going to readers who openly admit they don’t care about the subject, rather than real-life marginalized people who could relate to the subject matter and characters who represent the same traits.  If this is happening, why?

One thing that happens whenever I put my foot in my mouth online or I express an unpopular opinion out there, is people immediately rush to educate me into seeing things their way, or how to express my points with more sensitivity.*

It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the intentions of a diverse writer is to educate ignorant readers about marginalized people, or simply people of another culture or group that is commonly misunderstood (doesn’t necessarily have to be a marginalized person).  That could also be a reason for why an ARC distributor would put an ignorant/disinterested/unaffected person ahead of a real-life marginalized-person reader on an ARC waiting list.

But is that such a good thing?  I don’t buy it.  My friend doesn’t buy it either. Continue reading →

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe follows two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, through their apprenticeship to the Honorable Scythe Faraday.  (All Scythes take on new names, after “Patron Historics,” aka historical personalities, when ordained.)  Neither want to join the next generation of population-controlling killers, which is why they are deemed perfect to be trained; however, only one year of training one can continue their apprenticeship. Continue reading →