Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Beta-Reading … What Next?

I still can’t get over how many people jumped at the opportunity to help out by beta-reading my Cliche draft.  It’s seriously overwhelming and but super-delightful.  Just … WOW.

Now that I’ve finished writing the book and the beta-readers have been given their manuscript copies to play with, what’s next?  What’s my plan going forward?

Well, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, my book won’t be beta-read in one either.  I had a ton of brainstorms for writing the sequel, and I’ve written them all down; I’ve decided it would be foolish to try writing a sequel when things may need to be retconned in the first book before that’s publishable.

It’s good to take a break between writing and editing so that you can look at your work with a fresh perspective. That’s what I’m going to be doing when it comes to Cliche.

Coincidentally, I’ve taken enough of a break from writing After the Fall that I’ve got some new outlooks for how to take that story forward.  That’s the novel-length project I’ve had on my mind for a while, but I hit a stopping point last Autumn.

If all goes well, I’m going to pick that project back up and try to make a little more progress in the next few months.  Good novels can’t be written in a day – or a year – either, especially if you’re me.

I see so much potential in this story, I’m committed to finishing it, even if it takes a while.

Wish me luck!

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Beta-Readers Wanted [ALL SET]!

Update, 6/13/17: I’m pleased to announce that for the moment, I’m all set in the beta-readership department!  Thank you so much to everyone who signed up!  Rest of you’ll just have to wait for the book when it’s done (or maybe I’ll let you read the second draft after revisions). 😛


If you’re reading this, then it means I’ve finished writing the first draft of my latest writerly obsession, Cliche, and I’d love your help to make it the best it can be!

If you’d like to beta-read the current manuscript, a) I’d be really grateful and b) here’s some information for you to consider before you get started:


So, Allison, what’s it about?

Short version: Two poorly written protagonists emerge from the pages of their manuscripts to confront their poorly writers about it.  Hilarity (and Tofurkey) ensues.

Long version: Ryan Petrie and Jen Penrose are two young, struggling writers.  Jen’s madly in love with her own seriously flawed protagonist, a handsome rogue named Xander Portmanteau.  Ryan’s got a few mixed up ideas about what makes a female character like Lyra Jones, Space Huntress and Defender of the Universe, strong.  Magically, the characters emerge from the pages of their manuscripts (in the scale of plastic action figures) to confront their authors about their flaws.  Before too long, things get a little out of hand….


What genre is it?

Probably satire.  Truth be told, it’s a little of everything it makes fun of.  There’s high fantasy swashbuckling on a real-world city sidewalk, intentionally contrived romantic tension because all the other books do it, and social commentary on a couple of contemporary issues faced by young people today. 😛


How long is it?

The current manuscript is just under 20,000 words and 76 double-spaced manuscript-format pages.


What kind of feedback are you looking for?

Honest, realistic, constructive criticism in terms of how the story flows.  In that respect, what can I do to make it better?  What’s missing?  What could I do better?  What am I doing great at?  Proofreading is for proofreaders, so don’t worry about that unless the sheer volume of typos makes the MS painful to read!


Is this book clean?

In my many years of being prudish, I’ve learned that literary “cleanliness” is a highly subjective term and relative state.  I don’t want to tell you it’s 100% kosher because everyone’s standards and sensitivities are different.

In a deceptively light-hearted fashion, Cliche touches upon some mature themes.  One of the book’s purposes is to satirically call out the objectification of both men and women in certain mainstream fiction genres.  I’ve done my best to handle these issues tactfully and comedically, without being gratuitously crude.

It’s certainly not a smutty book, but because of the aforementioned themes, I wouldn’t recommend Cliche to readers younger than age fifteen.


Is there a deadline?

If you can finish your critique before the year ends, that would be awesome!


What’s in it for me, buster?

Acknowledgements in the finished product, should Cliche make it that far.  A free eBook version of the finished product and discounts for obtaining physical copies – again, assuming we get to that point.


I can’t commit to a detailed critique.  Can I just read it for fun (or because I’m your friend and you promised me you’d let me read it when you’re done)?

Sure, why not?  Just don’t, y’know, steal the manuscript and publish it yourself, because then we can’t be friends anymore. 😛

Of course, I’d appreciate a bit of feedback, even if it’s just “lol this is amazing my fav char is xander” or “wow dis is lame don’t quit ur day job but lyra’s pretty funny.”


Still interested?  Please fill out the form below, and I’ll happily consider inviting you into the crazy world of Cliche!



Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Musings on Poetry

When I first decided I wanted to be a writer, a lot of the well-intended adults in my life suggested I hold off on trying to write a novel first-thing.  Instead, I ought to write short stories.  Being the overconfident kid I was, I paid them no mind.  Several years later, I think I’m finally capable of writing middle-grade-novel-length books.  And I’m still not particularly good at cramming my story plotlines into short story form.  I can’t help but wonder, if I’d honed my short-story-writing skills in this time, would I be better off?  I don’t know.

Still, now that I run a blog and am trying to update it every-other-weekly with new content, I do see the appeal of producing short, bite-sized content.  I’m hesitant to share serialized excerpts of a story that I plan on printing in its entirety and selling – and, as noted, I am neither good at nor easily able to enjoy writing short stories.  So I’ve taken to sharing my poetry, however badly it’s written.

One of my recently completed voice acting projects involved reciting some obscure poetry from a classic writer.  From reading what other, more experienced poets have written, I feel like I’ve internalized some elements that improved my own poetry writing technique; it has certainly influenced the way I want my writing read back to me when I’m done with it.

Despite my greater interest in reciting poetry, I’ve never been a fan of reading it for fun.  I’m by no means a poetry aficionado, or even a casual reader yet.  But it’s an interest I’m starting to cultivate to the point that I’m now comfortable reading my own writings aloud and to other people.

I always enjoyed the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, particularly the ones where nameless, first-person-POV characters (whom I always nickname Edgar) sink deeper and deeper into pits of insanity, with or without pendulums.  But he also wrote poetry, which I’m hoping to explore.  And as you know, I’m exploring the literary world of the Bronte siblings.  Under the collective pseudonym of the Bell brothers, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne wrote loads of poems.  I’m starting with the authors I’m already familiar with for their stories, and getting to know them anew for their poetic works.

On a final note, several of my friends and readers have asked me to explain the meaning of my poems, and whether or not their interpretations are accurate.  I never know how to respond.

One of the things I resented in grade school was being given a poem and told there was only one right way to interpret it – the way the textbook said it was.  I don’t think that’s the way poetry is meant to be read.

For me, the beauty of poetry is that it doesn’t have to be blunt and straightforward.  I can be a lot more wishy-washy about the words I’m using  than I can with regular storytelling, and still classify it as art – word-art.  This leaves the reader wondering what they’ve just read, and what any of it even means, and each one has their own unique perspective to offer.

Some poems are meant to be obvious, but my poetry is intended to be cryptic.  Even if I had at least one idea in mind when I wrote the thing, I want it to be interpreted in as many ways as possible.  Do you think I’m just going to give away the one idea I had in mind when I was writing it, and take away your ability to interpret it in a million and one ways?

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Readerly Rants, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

S.J. Penner: a writerly vlogger you should totally watch

When I hear the word “vlog,” YouTubers like Casey Neistat, Elise Buch, and Alyshia Ford (PsychoTraveler) Presley Alexander (ActOutGames) come to my mind – YouTubers who frequently document themselves doing things.  Things which require moving around and going places and opening things.  But a vlog doesn’t need to be those things – it can involve sitting-down things too.  Like writing.  S.J. Penner does just that.  I’ve recently become Twitter-friendly with S.J., and when she started vlogging, I subscribed to her YouTube channel right away because I was hooked!

Vlogs like Mr. Neistat or Ms. Ford’s take me to places I’ve never gone and show me adventurous things I don’t see myself doing – things that are beyond me, way out of my league.  S.J.’s vlog shows me things I do do (or try to do) on a tri-weekly basis, things that I see as attainable and doable, like editing one’s manuscript, and it motivates me to get those those things done in my life.  (Also, can we talk about S.J.’s adorable pet bird, Marvin?  He’s quite the character, and S.J. often adds subtitles to his “Musings” whenever he chirps in the background. 😀 )

I’ve been working on putting the finishing touches to my WIP, Cliche, but there have been countless times where I had time to work on it, but simply didn’t feel motivated.  While watching S.J. write / edit her projects in her videos while trying to work on my own helped a ton – it made it feel like we were hanging out and doing these writerly things together.  S.J. shows us we’re not alone in the writerly world, with its ups and downs.

If that sounds at all interesting to you, I highly recommend checking out her YouTube channel.  Happy writing! 🙂



Posted in Guest Posts, Miscelaneous Musings, Q&A, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

2017 Ch1Con Blog Tour

Hello readers! It’s that time of the year again – I’m participating in the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour, an annual tour in preparation for this year’s conference, which brings original content from the Chapter One Young Writers Conference team to a number of fantastic, writing-related blogs. You’re on one of those right now!

If you haven’t heard of it, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con) is a writing conference entirely by and for young writers. The team is composed of a number of high school, college, and early-twenty-something writers, who work to create a unique, inclusive experience for young attendees. The conference, with its subset focus on the young adult novel, brings teens together to hear from accomplished speakers their own age, participate in professional workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world.

The first Ch1Con took place in Chicago in 2012 with six teenagers in attendance in person and countless others attending via an online live stream. It was an experiment limited to members of the Scholastic’s Write It community and their friends: could a group of teenagers from across North America really get together and run their own conference? The answer soon became apparent: yes. So, eager to get others involved in the fun as well, the team took the conference public in 2014.

This year, Ch1Con is bigger and brighter than ever, with more opportunities, cooler giveaways, and a new roundup of fantastic speakers headlining the conference on Saturday, August 5th in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Registration is currently open on the Ch1Con website for writers ages eleven to twenty-three and at an early bird discounted price of $49.99. The speaker lineup is up on the website now, featuring Kody Keplinger, author of a bevy of YA hits including THE DUFF (now a major motion picture!), literary agent superstar Brent Taylor, more.  (There’s also pizza, but more on that later….)

For my stop on the tour, I had the opportunity to interview not one, but three really awesome people who are involved with Ch1Con: Ariel Kalati (Associate Online Administrator), Emma Rose Ryan (Tumblr Expert), and Brett Jonas, Chief Creative Consultant.  All three are terrific writers, and through Thursday night Ch1Con Twitter chats, we’ve become Twitter-friendly in the past few months. 🙂

Here’s how our conversation went: Continue reading “2017 Ch1Con Blog Tour”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Beautiful People #24 ~ Parental Edition

I’m taking part in the May linkup for the Beautiful People writing meme, co-hosted by Cait from PaperFury and Sky from Further Up, Further In.  Because May is the month of Mother’s Day (it is?!?! :O ), this month’s meme theme has to do with parents.

I have the perfect character to write about:

Xander Portmanteau, roguish rogue of the kingdom of Landria (art by Aerin S. Grey)


Xander comes from my current and most successfully written WIP, Cliche, where poorly written characters come out of their poorly written books to confront their authors about it, and hilarity ensues.  (Morgan Freeman’s kind of there too, because who could have a good story without a fictional character who at least looks like Morgan Freeman in my mind’s eye?)

Anyway, enough gabbing from me.  On to the questions!  Continue reading “Beautiful People #24 ~ Parental Edition”

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

The Young Writer’s Life According to RWBY: Beta-Reading Edition

Mild content warning: post features pictures of a somewhat skimpily-dressed anime character.

I ran a poll on my Twitter page a few weeks ago for the theme of my next “Young Writer’s Life According To…” post.  It was a 50/50 tie between Tangled (which has a surprising variety of gifs) and my favorite anime, RWBY.  So, why not both?

This gifset in particular puts particular attention on beta-reading, an immense readerly kindness I’ve come to appreciate in my latest writerly project.  That said, I’d like to dedicate this post to Aerin and Lauren, the best beta-readers a young writer like me could ask for.

And now, if you are among the 50% who voted for a RWBY-themed post, this’ll be the day you’ve waited for!


Continue reading “The Young Writer’s Life According to RWBY: Beta-Reading Edition”