Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Recovery and writing about it? (Not yet.)

While I was going about my day, I had an inkling of a potential subplot for the Cliche story arc.  That story arc would be inspired by a darker part of my writing life, the part I’ve alluded to in poems and more explicitly in the sound art track on my poetry EP.

To respect the privacy of everyone involved, I’ve hesitated to speak about the time someone tried to control my creativity.  I was resistant, but it was at a low point in my personal life, and knowing that, the person tried to use that vulnerability against me.  In fact, anything creative they saw me doing, they tried to take over and then rub it in my face, make me feel guilty that I wasn’t creating for them.

No thanks to that person, I couldn’t really write for a long time.  And I’m wary to this day of collaborative writing projects, especially co-writing projects.  I’m able to do them now, but a) I worry (without basis) it’ll be like this one; and b) what if I become like that person – lazy, controlling, expecting my partner to do all the work while all I do is criticize and get my name on the cover.

Thank G-d, my bout of writer’s block finally cleared when I started roleplaying on Young Writers Society.  Thanks to the lovely people there, my zeal for writing returned, little by little.  I’ve got one completed manuscript that I’m super proud of, and I’m currently 75% done with another.

In my notes for the Cliche sequel, the entire subplot idea is covered in question marks.  Until now, Cliche has just been poking some good-natured fun at the stuff writers do.  I feel like crafting this particular subplot into the story would be pulling from a dark, shadowy source that might taint it.

But there’s a reason it feels so dark.  The thing is, I’ve only just come to the point that I can express my feelings about that time in verse.  I don’t think I’m ready to turn that experience into self-deprecating humor.  The time for that will come eventually, when I can look on that time and actually chuckle at it.  But not yet.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

10 reasons why I might not be a *real* writer

This is all quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. 😛

  1. I don’t drink tons and tons of coffee.  I love the occasional iced coffee, especially if it’s a slushy iced coffee.  Occasionally, I’ll drink caffeine-free herbal teas to soothe my throat for my voice acting.
  2. I rarely stay up late to write.
  3. I’ve never won a real NaNoWriMo which requires 50k words in 30 days.
  4. I don’t have an agent.
  5. I don’t have stacks and stacks (or the ashes of) rejection letters from publishers.  I rarely enter writing contests.  I submitted a short story to a lit-mag and heard back from them once.
  6. I’ve never read Stephen King’s On Writing.  I read a short story by Stephen King once for school, and thought it was okay.
  7. I’ve never been a New York Times Bestselling author.
  8. My books don’t have love triangles in them.  Well, not seriously, anyway.
  9. I’ve never killed my darlings on-page. Not yet.
  10. I think I’ve only sold, like, three copies of my first self-published book, and given copies to four or five other people.
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Beautiful People #26 – Author Writing Process Edition

I had so much fun in May participating in Cait (PaperFury) and Sky’s (Further Up and Further In) Beautiful People meme for writers, that I’ve decided to join in again.  This time, we’re talking about my writing process (or lack thereof, haha)!

 

How do you decide which project to work on?

It’s rare that I’ll obsess over a single project.  I usually work on multiple and rotate between them depending on what subjects I’m inspired to cover that day.

 

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

It really depends on the project and how motivated I am.  It took me three months to finish Secrets in Seaport, but that’s hardly an example of how long it takes for me to write well.  I think it took me about five months to finish my most recent project, Cliche, and I owe my fast pace to Aerin, my dear critique partner, co-writer, and muse. 🙂

 

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I don’t have an established routine for getting into the writing mood.  I take the opportunities as they come.  I never know when inspiration will strike next.  But in the past, listening to music that fits the mood or even just reading books have helped me break the cycle of writer’s block, at least for short periods.

If you know of any good ones, I’m all ears!

 

What time of day do you write best?

Extremely early in the morning or extremely late at night.  The best, albeit most absurd, madness-ridden pieces of writing typically come to fruition at unearthly hours.  I think the self-scrutinizing parts of my brain goes dormant when I’m half-asleep, which enables me to write more freely.

 

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

My tenth grade English teacher compared my writing style to that of Douglas Adams.  I tried reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that year and never finished it, so I can’t verify that comparison for myself.  Still, Adams was a Whovian and considered a terrific writer by many, so I appreciate the comparison.

Oddly, my writing style is easily influenced by whatever I’m reading at the time.

For example, I wrote Cliche on the heels of finishing A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix – there’s a chapter entitled Meanwhile, Back at the Bookstore.

If I’ve been reading a lot of Conan Doyle, my first-person narrative pieces include many “said I’s” and other quirky Doyleisms.  (One of these days, I’ll read enough that I’m motivated to continue my Sherlock Holmes genderswap story.)

I also try (but don’t often succeed) to read Dickens when I’m doing freelance writing, paid by the word. 😛

 

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started writing chapter books in word processor files at age ten because it was a quiet and not particularly costly way of making art.  People didn’t take notice, so they didn’t make a huge fuss about it at family gatherings, as they did with my musical dabbles.

Today, I write because first and foremost to entertain myself.  In my tweens and early teens, I had a hard time digesting books with vulgar content.  (I still do, though I have a clearer idea of my current comfort zone.)  Anyway, I tried writing the kinds of stories that wouldn’t make me blush or feel very indignant as a kid.  I want to publish them someday because I hope others like me, with my sensitivities, might benefit from them too.

 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

One of the hardest thing I’ve written so far, for a story, is a diary entry from the perspective of a character who has fallen in love.  As a headstrong young prude, it took me a while to embrace the reality that attraction, love, and the creation of new life needn’t necessarily be cheap, dirty, promiscuous things simply because the mainstream media portrays them as such so often.  The least I can do is portray those beautiful facts of life in a clean, tasteful way; once I realized that, I was able to tell the story of how After the Fall’s protagonist came to be.

 

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

Rewriting Adventures with my Time-Traveling Uncle.  It’s such a neat project, but at the time I wrote it, I really didn’t have the skills to convey the story in a compelling, publishable fashion.  I printed a single copy for myself and it’s around here somewhere, but I never sold it.  It was 50 book-pages long, approximately.  I have one-third a mind to retell the important parts as a short story, because I need to get back into the habit of writing those.

 

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I didn’t make any. 😀  That way, I was pleasantly surprised when I was suddenly able to churn out an entire first draft in about six months’ time!

 

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Spontaneous. Passionate. Progressive.

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?