Books with Friends Challenge!

I’m excited, but I’m sure you could tell from the exclamation in the title. Autumn is nearly upon us (and by ‘us’ I’m referring to people who enjoy more than one season like we do in Los Angeles.) I may live in a perpetual like summer climate, but I am still a fan of fall and of reading. And that brings us back to my very first statement: I am excited!–for the Books With Friends Challenge being presented by the ladies at Love, Live, Read YA!

happy vintage illustration batman excited

The “Books With Friends Challenge” is as easy as they come.

First–find a friend. In my case I’m teaming up with the talented and effervescent Michelle Joyce Bond–my friend (check), crit partner (double check), and I’m almost 95% certain she’s going to be the next Bond in the films. (Sorry, Daniel Craig.) You can check out her blog here!

Second–swap book titles. I picked, SANDMAN SLIM, for Michelle:

sandman

And Michelle choose, SIX OF CROWS, for me:

51isww2rpol-_sy344_bo1204203200_

Third–read the books and then swap more titles!

Head over to Live, Love, Read YA and sign up! And remember, when you read tweet about it with #BooksWithFriends. The Challenge runs September 1st-October 31st.

hat oldman Flying Books santaclause

Check back with Michelle and me to see what we’re reading, we’ve read, and what we think of each title thrown our way!

Will you join us?

Aryn Youngless

On this day… Happy Birthday, Hank.

6940-charles-bukowski-quotes-on-love

One of the hardest parts of growing up for me was realizing that I didn’t have anyone to look up to. As a child I brought my gaze to Amelia Earhart, and I wish I could sit here and hand you a list of famous (or infamous) people who have brought change into my life simply by existing–but that’s not the case.

As a child, Earhart was this glowing icon that out shined everyone else. My fan worship of her lasted all of elementary and part of middle school. By high school I donned the moniker of “realist” and stopped looking at other’s success to inspire me. There was no point. I could never find one.

Now, as an adult, it’s even harder to wrap my mind around the fantasy of an idol. I see people doing things people do. This lasted until I met Charles Bukowski on the pages of PULP. I could lie to you and say the first Bukowski novel I read was HAM ON RYE, but it wasn’t. It was PULP. His last book. It’s even from Black Sparrow Press. My one and only book (of his) from them.

On his grave stone it says, “Don’t Try.” I’ve seen it in person. Buried in San Pedro. Visiting his grave was one of the first things I did when I moved to LA. There was a 40 oz and lots of other crap sitting on his black polished surface.

Henry Charles Bukowski Jr. “Hank” 1920-1994 with two other little words–“Don’t Try.”

I read it and laughed as I thought, “Screw You, Hank. Screw. You.”

Today Charles Bukowski would have been 96 years old. He is one of the few people I wish I could have met before they died. No, I don’t want to drink with him. No, I don’t want to sleep with him. I just want to talk to him. To see the beauty he sees in so many things.

Maybe you don’t like him. Maybe you think Miller was the “better writer.” Or maybe you’re attached to all the beat writers and wish you were on the road with Kerouac. I wish I was walking through Pershing Square talking to  Charles Bukowski about how cruel the world is–knowing it’s okay.

So, Happy Birthday, Charles Bukowski. I still plan on trying, regardless of what your epitaph tells me to do–because we both know you don’t mean it.

xxoo–Aryn

unnamed

Perishing Square–Downtown Los Angeles 8/9/16 (c)

Are you there, God? Oh, wait…

…I forgot. I haven’t done the whole ‘god’ thing in circa twenty years. So maybe I should say ‘universe’ or something less religion specific.

I sit here, as my dinner slowly burns on the range, with my fingers hovering over this neon blue keyboard attempting to articulate the myriad of thoughts devouring my brain. I am consumed with to many it’s become hard to sift through them all–searching for the right train of thought.

Frustrating building, I’m now calling to the heavens for guidance.

My writing inspiration seems to be an situation of ‘all or nothing.’ Either I have so many ideas I’m lost (like right now,) or it’s a blank desert–endless miles of dust mote dunes suffocating my brain. If only I could find a trigger… Oh, wait!! (again!) I entered a contest. I did! I entered #PitchWars, and now I have a list longer than the Mississippi to choose from.

Here is my question for you, my lovely readers. How do you choose your projects? What is your process? Normally, mine is I wait until an idea keeps me up at night–but I have a bit quandary, for I have a WIP that needs tending, another MS plotting on a promise–and then there’s the one that’s keeping me up.

Do you see what the problem is? What should I do?!

So, now you are god (this could go poorly quickly, but lets do it any way.) All of the help you provide (aka–advice) is greatly appreciated!

Now–if you’re also entered Pitch Wars, I wish you luck! And to everyone else. Happy Writing!!

xx-

-A

 

 

Multi

I haven’t written a poem in over a year. I think it’s been a year…I haven’t checked.

It’s weird. I won’t pretend it’s not. Poetry crept up on me, like other parts of my life, but I supposed it also slipped away.

It slipped away because I begged it to. There are only so many hours in the day, week, month–decade. Choosing wisely can make or break everything (me). Before I lumped it all together.

“They” did it like. Those. Them, the people who were’t me. Those who will never be.

I can’t be like that–like them.

It’s one malfunction after the other, until I found my footing. The “my” and “me” that fit my life. Less is more. Flexibility and patience. Slow and steady–all the good ones.

The prescription for me is:

  • read
  • write
  • journal
  • again

Multitasking works with dinner prep and homework, but not with words.

Is that how it is for you?

The hardest part are all the little voices…

rabbit face

Woke from a dream on Sunday. I should have been sleeping, but couldn’t. It was one of ‘those’ dreams.

If you’re a writer you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Sitting in a poorly lit living room–as not to wake up the rest of the house–I wrote it out. One run-on sentence into the next, into the one after that, and then I wrote it all again. Flesh.

(…and then I accidentally ‘save-as’ over an older story outline…which isn’t so bad, because the book was finished over a month ago, but in another month, when I can’t find the new outline…please remind me it’s saved under a weird name…)

But there it is–the why.

“Why do you write?”

“Because I have these dreams. These vivid cool ass dreams. They wake me up at 4am, and I have to get them out. The voices. I have to get the voices out of my head.”

The voices are the hardest part, because they are distracting.

[editing two MS. One chillin’ in the ice box, the other currently being dissected.]

…and then I have a dream.

All I want to do is become consumed with this new world, these new people, all the craziness that is happening around them–but I can’t.

How cruel is this world that we live in? Why can’t my imagination calm the f— down?! Oh, all you voices… in the end we both know I’m a slave to you.

W.I.P.

My ode to writing and publishing…

W.I.P

nonsense

the words

the actions

the time it takes to get out of bed

yet here I am

unraveling a ball of twine

the chaos model of my life

the beginning

frayed

unraveling

the end

hidden

somewhere in the middle

suffocated by layers

its supposed to be something

when isn’t it?

I wrestle

submissive

my machete is to dull

for the war playing in front of me

what will I cut through the vines with?

sarcastic interludes

satirical fodder

“air quotes”

those aren’t a weapon

they’re the fuel

this is why I never look up

better to look down

blinders on

eyes on the keys

on the page

on the indelible black ink

that is my life source

better than coffee

some days

Blank Screen

I would like to take this moment to sit here and stare at a blank white screen. There. Now I feel better.

I shall sprinkle some lovely words:

  • Juxtapose
  • Cacophony
  • Polymathy
  • Belie
  • Viridescent

And mix!Voila! Masterpiece (theater, because let’s be honest… I haven’t seen last nights Downton Abbey yet, and that’s where I’d rather be. But, alas, my son has commandeered the television, so I must wait. I hate waiting. Waiting is annoying.)

Back to staring at the screen.

In case you’ve ever wondered what my “writing process” is, see above. I don’t run to facebook as much as I run to PBS. Does this make me a better writer? No, but it makes me a happier person and THAT makes me a better writer. (I tell myself to ease the guilt.)

I HAVE NO WRITING NEWS TO REPORT!

That said, I will be helping with a few blog tours. So if you, my lovely, looking for a place to stop- give me a shout.

Hope you’re well.

Off to stare at the screen again.

Cursor. Blink. Blink. Blink.

Write Right

To my right is an old warped cork board covered in index cards with places and characters written on them. They belong to a story I began last summer with my son, but abandoned once he was in school.

It’s hard to plot out a story you’re writing with a child who isn’t home…

But there they are – staring at me with weird made up words on them, penned out in a variety of obnoxious colors like neon green and magenta.

My computer and this cork board are in my bedroom, so each night as I sit in bed, I stare at them. About a week ago it occurred to me I should take them down, seal them in an envelope and save them for next summer when my son and I can pick up where we left off. (We have a rather extraordinary world, but not much premise or story as of yet.) But then as I looked them over – our sea monster, flying men, dragons, etc., – I decided to let them stay.

This decision brought up other questions: How long is too long to write a story? How many stories should I be working on at once? When is it the “official” time to throw in the towel?

Staring at his board had become my late night meditation. At first I would think about this world we created, and now I think of answers to those questions.

When I ventured out on this writing path (many moons ago) it was all very linear. You wrote a story, you had people read the story, you adjusted the story, you sent it to agents who either ignored you completely or sent robo response rejection letters. But now (many moons later) the answers to those questions have changed dramatically and I know the path is more chaotic than ever.

#Q1 – How long is too long to write a story? A1 – There is no time line. When you set a time line is when you mess up the story. You begin to rush, you miss details, your characters are thinner than the paper you want your story published on.

#Q2 – How many stories should I be working on at once? Q2 – I used to think the only way to write was to write one story at a time. Now, I can’t speak for you, but on a good day I have 5+ stories in my head rattling around like marbles in a jar. Currently I’m working on a new novel I’m calling “Triangle”, I’m also reworking an old novel in a new format that I feel will work better for its multi-character storyline, I have another novel waiting in my writing queue ready for a good edit (because my last edit was impetuous and damaging), and then there is the one on the wall and another one that keeps invading my dreams. Oh, and then there is the novella that I want to self publish – so make that 6+. (…then there are the others made up of only characters or vague premise that aren’t worth mentioning yet…)

Once upon a time, working on one thing suited for me, but only because I convinced myself that was how “real authors” wrote. Now I write in a way that keeps me wanting to write.

#Q3 – When is it the “official” time to throw in the towel? A3 – Back then, I used to get tired so I would give up on manuscripts – these days its more like we “take a break” from each other. I’ll have Beta Readers email me and ask about old titles, “What happened to that book? I loved that one!” And I’ll tell them I’m working on something new. They fret I’ve given up, but in truth I have not. If you believe in your story, your characters, your world – you will never officially throw in the towel. Because when you love something so much, giving up on it isn’t an option.

These are the things I remind myself on the days I do want to give up. Lately, I have more of those than I’d like to admit, but at the same time this is the most consistent my writing has ever been. I write DAILY. I edit DAILY. I challenge myself DAILY. And I permit myself to take a step back when I know I need one, because some days the words flow, and others its like trying to pulled tar out of the bottom of a nail polish jar. But I do it anyway.

Why?

Because even though it feels like I’m not going anywhere, I know as long as I try I’m making better strides than giving up.

Characters, aren’t we all.

the-fall-tv-showThere is this BBC show, it is called “The Fall” and it centers around two characters:

#1 – Stella Gibson, played by Gillian Anderson

#2 – Paul Spector, played by Jamie Dornan

It is the tale of two obsessive, compulsive people on two different sides of the law. One is a police detective and the other a murder, and yes – you’ve heard this premise a million times before.

But you’ve never met Stella Gibson.

I’m a fan of crime drama, not all but a lot of them. I’m a fan of female characters, not all but a few I really love. And then there is Stella Gibson.

In every recess of entertainment – television, movies, novels, plays – I would like to see more “Stella Gibson” type characters. I would love to see someone so self-possessed and contained even the lowest of the low (and I’m talking about people who are a fan of slut shaming) can’t touch her. Well, maybe they do. Maybe they get to her, because after all, we’re all human and words hurt – but still, there is something magnificent about her.

She is beautiful, smart, sexy, confident, contained, brilliant, and caring.

The underlining theme of Man V. Woman is strung throughout in more ways than one – from sex, to death, to daily life. It is examined, dissected, discussed and thrown in your face. Basically, The Fall makes you think. The tension keeps you on your wit’s end and then you have this truth handed to you – because it really is a truth, no matter what people say or how they try to spin it.

At the end of series 2 there is a discussion between Stella and one of her officers – a man – and she’s says something along these lines, “When ask why men felt threatened by women, they say they’re afraid women may laugh at them. When women are asked why they felt threatened by men, they say they’re afraid they might kill them.”

The Fall is an excellent example of non-stereotypical characterization and I’m talking all of these characters. They are layered, have debt, and make you connect to them – even if it’s by making you hate them.

What type of characters do you wish there were more of?

Railbirds

you+suck

Critics.

All of them.

The people who tell us to give up, are the ones who feel they have failed. But the truth is, the only way to actually fail – is to give up.

This is the speech I give myself each and every time I want to throw in the towel. Life would be so much easier if I stopped trying, because then I wouldn’t have to be disappointed.

The railbirds in our lives add to the perpetual need for an escape plan. The people we thought were our trusted guides turn out to be nothing more than pessimistic and downtrodden folk who love to share their disappointment.

At the end of the day, their supported is about as effective as a ten-year old bra missing it’s underwire.

It’s good to remember that are a product of our decisions – both the ones we make and the ones we avoid. It is an inescapable fact. So is – we can’t really blame the critics for saying what they think, we can only monitor how we react to their words.

If they speak at all.

Sometimes silence is the loudest critic. Not hearing, not receiving feedback, not getting a reply to an email you sent a week earlier. It is the one thing you so desperately desire.

The want is almost crippling.

As writers we are creative folk. We’ve decided to spin and weave and knit facts and fiction together – creating thoughts, emotions, stories, etc. And when you reach out and the person doesn’t reach back… Our stories leap from the computer screen into our head, worst case scenarios on steroids.

How wonderful would it be to be an island? Sadly, needing the help of others along the writers path is inevitable. Simone and Garfunkel are alone again.

This post is an example of me trying to bolster my own psyche as I wait for a return email. My mind has been doing flips for days and the imaginary railbirds I’ve concocted over the years  are drinking pints of ale, mocking me relentlessly.

“Told you, Aryn. You’re writing isn’t worth a dime!” Gin blossomed nose, stale breath, and a rotund disposition. I wonder why I paint myself as a down on your luck hobo circa 1925 when I choose to self sabotage? Oh, Freud… at least it wasn’t my mother.

Alas – it’s back to that “making a choice” moment… and while one little voice tells me its time to give up, turns out I can’t stop myself – even if I try…