Musing about life

My writing life is slow going this year. Yes, it’s only two weeks into the new year, but I feel behind on all things word driven.

Finding inspiration has been limited. Isn’t it interesting that when I had NO time to write, my brain laid out story after story. Now time is abundant and my brain as quiet as an empty church.

I like having things plotted out–and I’m not only talking about my stories. I’m talking about my life. Yes, it sounds tedious and not very spontaneous, but a good mapped out plan will help you get to where you want to go.

Without all the mess that can get in your way.

 

Cheers to a new week of words and writing! May it be kind to you and to me.

xxoo-A

Review: Strange Afterlives

strange-afterlives-cover

For the first review of the year–I give you STRANGE AFTERLIVES an anthology edited by A. Lee Martinez.

In a short story world filled with a sea of anthologies–some that are good, some that are not–it’s always exciting to picked up one like STRANGE AFTERLIVES. Instead of one or two interesting reads, it’s filled with eleven of them.

I read it in one sitting. I loved it that much.

Here is the Goodread’s summary:

In this anthology of eleven original tales, the undead are never quite expected. From sinister feline mummies to ravenous zombified cars and any and all things in-between, the living dead have returned from their graves, junkyards, and even the war torn skies to haunt the lands of the living. With stories horrific, funny, and weird, Strange Afterlives has a little something for everyone who has ever wondered what terrible secrets could be lurking in that rotting tree or broken toy.

If you’re a fan of horror, and enjoy a bit of humor in the mix–this anthology is for you. As I said before, most times I read anthologies I like one or two stories, but read this one from the beginning, MOUSE TROUBLES by the editor and chief, A. Lee Martinez, to the end, THE SCAVENGER HUNT by John Sanders, Jr.

Happy Reading! –xxoo-A

Crows

crows

Once, many centuries ago, there were no crows. The world was void of the oil soaked feather birds–nothing but doves and canaries to stare at.

The branches of the golden curls willow swayed in a breeze scented by jasmine and honeysuckle–empty as a baby-less pram. No caws. No taunts. Nothing but coo’s and tweets.

What an empty world it must have been without their wit and charm. I am happy I will never know that world. For the crow–and all it’s murderous charm, is the hope I need.

A scavenger.

A humorist.

A hero.

 

 

No more excuses

Ah! My first post of the New Year. Took me long enough…

zapatoverde graphic design motion design error quit

So, 2016 didn’t much live up to the expectations of the gen pop–but you already knew this. You’ve watched the news, seen the memes, followed the feeds, read the blogs–you, my friend, are in the ‘know!’

And I respect that about you.

2016 has become the punchline–no, the *excuse* of a decade. It is the reason we are sad. It is used as the basis for what is lacking in your life, or this world. 2016 is the quote, it is the comparison, it is rational for every last thing we’ve lost control of or never had control of in the first place.

Well, it’s no longer 2016. Thus, it no longer applies.

Now, I could go into a rant (one that is political in nature) and confabulate with you on what is waiting over the next ridge–but I will not. I could grab a sandwich board and slap some paint on that baby, before draping it over my bony shoulders with a message painted in my scratch writing–but I won’t.

All of this nonsense are distractions. What is the point of this lollygagging when there is so much to do?

I shouldn’t have waited so long to come here and post, but the holidays are a big deal in my life–so I’m here now. I’m here to say, no excuses in 2017. It may not be the best year. It may be worse than the *dreaded* 2016. But it may also be the best year you’ve ever known. This is how I’m looking at it: I know what I want, I’ve known since I was seven–and I’ll keep working to make it happen.

the karate kid

Time to be Daniel and Crane Kick 2017 in the face.

The only wise words I have for those reading this is, “there is no such thing as an over night success.” Remember that when you’re a slave to your craft–to your words. Hard word and dedication are the key to success. The only true failure in life is quitting (unless you’re a smoker, than it’s the opposite.)

Happy New Year, friends! And happy writing–xxoo-A

A few thoughts on 2017

I was doing really well at writing three days a week. Then it was twice… and now here I am scrambling for one post. Yes, it’s the holiday season. A little it of too many errands, topped with winter break, added to a part-time job, with holiday cheer sprinkled on top–and I’m pooped.

I haven’t written since early last week. This is very hard for me. With each passing day I grow scared that I won’t go back to it. Part of me knows I will. I really want to finish the book I’m currently working on, but I’m also laying down my 2017 writing goals.

For many years my New Year’s Eve Resolution was to NOT have a New Year’s Eve Resolution. I’ve been very successful at keeping that promise… So, I won’t say these plans are a resolution of any sort. I’ll be honest, I’m with Bono when he sings, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day,” because, realistically, not much does. But the last two years I’ve laid out general plans for things I’ve wanted to accomplish, and I’ve been mildly successful.

Why not keep going?

spongebob writing p editing revision

I want to work on short stories this year. I’ve been reading a ton of them, and will head off to read more in a moment–so it’s made me want to fold them into my portfolio. It’s part nerve racking, and exhilarating. Now, I have a new written art form to deconstruct. Something to learn about! I’m a fan of new things.

So that is what I hope to accomplish in 2017. Short story writing and publication. (On top of finding an agent for my current novel on submission or the next one…)

This hasn’t been a easy road by any means, but I still believe it’s the right one for me.

Happy Holidays, my virtual friends. I hope you are able to celebrate the season in a way that brings happiness to your world. I hope to write more posts before the end of 2016, but in case I can’t find the time–A Happy New Year to you.

xxoo-A

 

The map of me

At seven, when I began writing, I wrote because it was fun. Bad poems about ax murders and dragons (don’t judge) and adventure tales that involved hot air balloons and evil people chasing me was the bread and butter of my portfolio.

None of it was “ready,” but like I said–it was a blast. (Even the time the principle called my mothers to rat on me about a mean spirited poem I wrote centering around a girl in my class. To clarify, she’s punched me–I only wrote about wanting to hit her. I’m the classy one.)

In my teens I wrote more poetry. Filled with teen-angst and “why is the world so cruel” themes. This was in my journal. Even the story about a frog that was the wrong color. Everyone made fun of her, until she finally left home. Then, she made a friend–an albino crocodile–and together they saved everyone in her pond. (No, the crock didn’t eat anyone. She was lonely too.)

In my twenties I started to take writing more serious. I wrote a futuristic fantasy novel that had elves and talking crows. Once finish, I promptly showed it to no one. That said, I did my research, all with the intent to publish–yet I never did.

My second attempt was a romance novel. For me romance has always been a palate cleanser. I read the genre when I need a break from the other genres I read. I actually love romance–for this reason. Sometimes a story only needs to be skin deep. Two people meet, they fall in love, life tears them apart–they find each other in the end. There is perfection in that formula.

This novel was rejected. I wasn’t as tenacious back than as I am now. After one rejection I quit–for a long, long time.

I still wrote. Poems. Songs. Long rants in my journal about how I felt, my love/hate relationship with the world. With life. A script about a girl in love with a guy in a band. Two scripts that were horror movies. (One I still love. The other, I love one scene from. Sadly it doesn’t translate to novel writing. It was a camera thing.) And another story (which I adore, but the premise wasn’t my idea, so I let it sit, dusty and untouched) was the story of a young boy–set in NYC in the late 70’s. Seriously, I sometimes think about this kid. If you know me, and have read some of my stuff–the kids name was Malcolm. I loved him so much, I moved him into a new world. I made him grow up. He became a wonderful man–I’m slightly in love with him.

Then I got pregnant. Lost my job. Went to yoga teacher training to help reinvent myself–and then it happened. At our graduation celebration, a yogi friend said, “What are you thinking about now, Aryn?” and before I could lock my brain down or keep my mouth shut, I said, “Writing. I wish I was writing.”

And so I did. I moved. Had a few poems published.

I wrote another book. Then I rewrote that book. And then I rewrote it five more times. Rejected. (a big whole bunch.) (YA Fantasy/Horror)

So I wrote another book. This one for someone. The first draft sits, because… I don’t know. I can’t seem to reconnect with the content. This, like the story with the boy, has some parts I adore–but there is a mind blockade. A wall of white noise. It wears me down. (Historic Fiction)

Wrote a novella. (Sci/fi YA)

Then the one I have out on query. Actually, this was written prior to the one for a friend. I sent it out–Rejected. So I reworked it. From first draft to fifth, I found a writing partner. She helped me fix it. Still rejected. (Speculative Science Fiction)

Rejected so many times I’ve learned to flinch when my email pings. I turn my ringer off now.

In October I finished the first draft of a new book. I have high hopes for this one. It’s early. I hoped to have the second draft down by now–but the hell death plague that devoured my house, and my health, made certain that wasn’t an option. (Urban Fantasy)

I haven’t been seven in a very long time, but I can tell you this with all honestly–writing is still fun. I no longer write about the mean girl, or how I wish something bad would happen to her. If there is one thing that writing has taught me is the importance of being selective–in what you write about, who you spend your time with, where you put your energy.

It shows.

I’m hoping this next book is my lucky charm. Or maybe there is an agent out there–right now–reading my query for my current piece on submission who wants more. I don’t know. All I’m sure of, flinching aside, all I’ve ever known is writing. It is my expression. My soul. It is all I want.

Words.

Friday in Review: The Future is Blue

drownedworlds

I probably should have opened with I’ll only be reviewing ONE story from this collection. [Drowned Worlds–edited by Jonathan Strahan] If you’re asking why, well–that is a fantastic question. My answer is this–I really loved this one.

“THE FUTURE IS BLUE–by: Catherynne M Valente

Now, if you will–imagine a world where people and politician don’t believe the threat of Global Warming is an issue. I know it’s a hard stretch–but please, try.

This collection of short stories are all derived from that notion. The simple idea of what will come of this world if we don’t get ourselves into check.

I actually really enjoyed more than one of these tales–but THE FUTURE IS BLUE stuck out somehow. Here is a short summary “Teenage Tetley lives in a human settlement (one of the last) built on a miles-wide floating garbage dump. She explains why everyone hates her now.”

I know. Sounds drab. Who wants to read a story about a young woman who is hated by all–but it’s an amazing read. So utterly removed from the reality that is floating around her, Tetley exists in a world filled with leftovers from our forgotten era. Simply put, she never romanticized the world she had been born into or the life that was handed to her.

Even though she should be mad as hell, and spitting nails .

There is a very special whimsical element to the main character. It’s this component that helps you cope what what you’re really witnessing. And it doesn’t hurt that the floating world Valente built is stunning, once you sift through the mess. (Rather like Tetley.)

I highly recommend this short story–and the rest of the book. (I mean, may was well… am I right?)

Happy Reading!! xxoo-A

Wednesday’s Writing Prompt

“He told us a very exciting story…”

Here is mine:

He told us a very exciting story.

He did. Sadly, I can’t remember most of it. At the time I was enthralled. No, it was more than that–I was bewitched by the idea that what he said was true, and that it–somehow–had a relation to my life. 

It didn’t. 

It never does. 

There are a variety of types of people you’ll meet in your life. Some you’ll love. Many you will loath–and then there is the used car salesmen who rope you like an aging steer with their words. 

It’s only after the aphrodisiac wears off, and they are hundreds of miles away, you realize your wallet is missing. 

Now show me yours:

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Love to Oakland

I want to take a second to throw some love to everyone in Oakland. If you haven’t heard about The Ghost Ship, and what happened on Saturday night/Sunday morning–there was a massive fire at a place called The Ghost Ship.

An artist commune, the building was an old warehouse used by artists to work and celebrate art. I’ve read a number of articles over the past few days–most concentrate on all the building violations. This morning I read a piece for the Village Voice that way by far my favorite. (Click on Village Voice to read the article.)

Before I go into the thick of it–here is a photo of the interior of The Ghost Ship:

CCT-GHOSTSHIP-1204

I’m post the image because I want people to really look at what it was–an not sit around making assumptions about what it *must* have been.

I consider myself an artists. As you know, I write. I’ve had poems published, I’m working really hard to have a novel put into publication–but I also paint, am an avid fan of photography, and I still write music from time to time. These parts of me–parts of my artists–I don’t broadcast. My life has limited spare time–most of which I pour into words.

That said, I’ve been to many places like The Ghost Ship. I’ve sat on their floors, hung out with their artist, conspired and contributed. There is nothing more subjective than art–which makes it a difficult path to walk. One day everyone may love you, and the next they want nothing to do with you. I’ve spent a better part of this year being rejected over and over–so much so I now flinch when my email rings. This is a fact.

Will I stop? No. Because this is who I am. Please stop asking artists to quit because it’s hard. They know it’s hard. We know it’s hard–but it’s who we are. It’s important.

Once we stop grieving, because we need time to do that–people lost their lives. This is a tragedy. But we need to make changes. Just like The Village Voice states–the only way to prevent another instance like The Ghost Ship in Oakland is to support local art.

This new administration will not be friendly to the arts. Like I said, art is a very subjective world–I have a hard time believing a group of people who are actively trying to remove things like Social Security under the guise of *Saving Money* (we–the public–pay for that by the way–the government doesn’t. So whose money are they trying to save…?) I very much doubt they will reach out to the art community to give them the money the need in order to be artists.

Art isn’t free. It takes time, money, effort–talent. It’s a hard road. So when you meet an artist–don’t ask them to give you their work for free. Don’t say things like, “My kid could do that,” or “I could have done that.” Because you didn’t–they did it–and most likely, you couldn’t in the first place. Pay them for their work. Encourage your community to help and support art.

I’m sending much love and respect to every single last one of you in Oakland.

Words on parade

The words run circles in my brain. Round and round and round… It gets so bad I have problems focusing on real life issues. Have I eaten? Should I sleep? Where’s my child…?! (kidding)

This hasn’t happen in a very long time.

At this moment, I have a scene trapped in my head. Each time I play it over, it grows. A little bit bigger, and bigger still–now it’s cutting into my editing time.

When I was younger, and would free write–or go the route of a pantster–this was a normal thing. Distraction by words. Distraction by imaginary people begging to be met in their own space. But once I began plotting , these episodes of utter chaos dwindled.

I didn’t realize how much I missed them.

Now I have research to do for this budding idea, and with only two weeks left until the Holiday Break at my child’s school–I have to get my butt in gear. Edit, plot, draining words so overly swollen they distract me from my current goals… It’s like a word lobotomy, but much less permanent.

Oh, words… how you love to haunt me.

xxoo-A