About last night…

Once upon a time… I’ve never actually started a story with those words, not outside the ones in my head. In the real world, the world living on a computer screen and scraps of paper in my car’s glove box, most of my stories start mid-action. “Here I am!” my character’s say. “THIS IS GONNA BE A FUN RIDE!”

Sometimes, that is the honest truth. Others, it’s a lie, lie, lie… But does it matter? No. For I have written and everything is right in the world–for that one moment.

17862405_10155228455773383_727155468950456571_n

circa 1982-83

I started writing a long time a go. But not seriously. I refused to take myself seriously–because I knew (deep down) I wasn’t good enough. The little voices I’d allowed to crawl into my head ate at my confidence like a necrotizing fasciitis. And I believed them.

Until I didn’t.

Until I decided to ignore them and to keep trying anyway.

It took awhile to get there.

14079951_10154507814768383_9219253740271948756_n

circa 1997

 

And life kept happening around me.

I’d say, “One day, I’ll write.” or “One day, I’ll be a writer.”

The push kept pushing–but the fear was more than I could manage for a long time. With a million and one, distractions along the way…

165254_10150104098528383_6728556_n

I “one day’d” myself to death….

308098_10150349976198383_6298699_n

But then I took a chance and I stopped saying “one day.” Maybe I didn’t start with, Once upon a time, but I tapped out letter after letter, word after word–IGNORING–the acid voice in my brain that says things like, “Well, aren’t you trendy?” or “You know someone else tried that already. What makes you so special?”

I DID IT ANYWAY!

And I sent it out via the magically world of the internet–and someone said yes.

IMG-4872

Made in L.A. Writers at The Last Bookstore in DTLA

I don’t know what “making it” looks like to you–but last night was pretty spectacular. And, the voices were quiet.

The voices ARE quiet.

Because–

IMG_4886 2

It’s not always a fairy tale, but what’s so bad about that? Who wants a fairy tale when you can make new friends who lift you up as you try to lift them up, too? Not me.

“Once upon a time, there was a woman who always thought she couldn’t. But then, one day, she did.”

IMG_4885

circa last night

 

The End

(visit: Madeinlawriters.com for more information about Volumes 1 & 2 of the Made in L.A. Anthology.)

Friday in Review–Already Dead

s61Wp41473101141

51fnxa2tz2l

ALREADY DEAD–(A Joe Pitt Novel)–by Charlie Huston.

I’m branching out. Well, sorta. As a writer, I prefer to read in the genre I’m currently writing it. It helps me stay focused and–just how music enhances a writers emotional state while writing certain scenes–reading in the same genre keeps me from floating my characters off to Never, Never Land when they should be lying in the dirt.

Upon doing multiple searches on noir-esk urban fantasies–after bypassing Sandman Slim (one of my Books with Friends choices for my reading buddy) I discovered Joe Pitt and his vampyre underworld in good old New York City.

If I was to do a pros and cons list, my cons would be short. Honestly, I just wasn’t a fan of it being in New York. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New York. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. Hell, it’s on the same list as Paris and London–but everything is set in New York (or Los Angeles–the birth place of Noir Fiction. Thank you Raymond Chandler.) Regardless of my jaded opinion, Charlie Huston does a wonderful job of using his New York backdrop to pull you right into the story.

On to things I liked! Before I do that I must explain that I haven’t read any vampire novels in an extremely long time. I didn’t set out to read ALREADY DEAD because there were ‘vampyres’ in it. That said–I enjoyed this world immensely. It is cleverly constructed, putting a new spin on what a vampyre is. (That is how it is spelled in the book, by the way.)

It’s a perfect example of a modern noir with it’s down and out PI who has a drinking problem–in Joe’s case, his drink of choice is blood. The ‘damsels in distress’ have been (thankfully) updated. All of them prove to be very much in control of their own lives and bodies. <- This is something I loved. I’m more willing to accept a story in a ‘sexy’ location than I ever will be of accepting a woman who can’t save herself. There was havoc, destruction, and suspense. All the ‘will he or won’t he’ moments kept me turning the pages. Over all, ALREADY DEAD was a fantastic read, which makes me excited to dive into the other four books in the series.

Check your local library for a copy–I read it on Overdrive as an kindle ebook–or head over to Amazon. And you can learn more about Charlie Huston’s other series on his website.

Happy reading!! xxx-Aryn

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

 

 

The continuous road of writing…

I’ve now been sending queries for 25 days. I know this because one agent I emailed sent an auto-reply telling me after 30 days–it wasn’t me, it’s him or her.

Why is sending queries like getting dumped? Besides the obvious rejection. But seriously, that is what all auto-rejections feel like. And here I am–in my teens again, getting the, ‘It’s not you. It’s me,’ speech from some catholic school boy whose name I can’t remember.

The only difference is I’m not sixteen any more and I’ve matured enough to believe that the sender is correct. You can’t please everyone now can you? And why would you want to for that matter?

As the query wheels roll I’ve taken the time to look at what else I have in my writing armory. There is full history fiction novel, a half novel that still has potential not to suck a ton, and then the long queue of new ideas burning holes in my brain.

[They keep me up at night. Does this happen to you?]

Most ideas I let sit for a while. If they vanish I know I was right to wait. How great of a concept could it have been I can’t even remember it existed? Then there are the others… Over a dozen random characters in my head poking my frontal lobe just to see if I’m paying attention.

My brain needs a receptionist.

On top of that I have one other problem: two of these stories are promises–one is a first draft (a very, extremely, oh god help me! first draft,) that was a promise to a friend and the other is for my son.

I came here to write about it because seeing the problem on the computer screen helps me make decisions. I suppose that is another cure of being a writer–the transition from brain to page. My hazel green eyes need to rest firmly on the blackness of the text in order for my brain to calm down and make a decision. It also allows me to distract myself–because while I’m busying myself filling out beat sheets, typing up character breakdowns, and deciding where to put a big chunk of my energy for the next four weeks, I’m able to hold onto the notion that I won’t be sad on June 16th when I don’t hear from that agent…

Querying is such a roller coaster! (which is an amazing place to pick up emotional traits for the characters I write about. Damn it. Writing is like the song that never ends. It just keeps going and going and going and going…)

 

Writing, querying, PitMad, & words

What is in a name? Shakespeare. He had Romeo ask  that very question as he looked over a thorny rose–trying to convince himself what he was doing was right.

A few nights ago I asked a writer friend of mine what inspired him. What made him want to write? For me it’s everything. Maybe I’ve heard a name that interests me in a way that I’m compelled to attache a fictitious body to it. Then, I collect these imaginary people in my head. I leave them there to stew. Some survive. Some are forgotten.

But maybe it’s not a name, but a situation. An overheard comment. A dream.

Writing is a salve that cools and heals the life around me. My WIPs are made up of all those words I didn’t say at the right moment.

I don’t know how long I’ve been working on my latest project, THE TRIALS OF IMOGEN GRACE. I wrote the first draft two years ago. I’ve change the POV three times, and done countless edits and rewrites. And now…now I’ve entered the Query pit. The endless bit of sending off letters, chapters, pages, fulls, halfs, synopsis, pitched–all ties to hopes and prayers.

If you write, you know what I’m talking about.

The last time I did this–sent queries–was much harder. This time I feel different. Not as hopeless. Yes, I’ve received more rejections than not–but still–I’m not sure why I’m so calm. It’s refreshing. haha…

If you’re out there writing–don’t give up. I wish you luck! The same goes to those sending endless queries and everything else writing related. Follow your dreams, my friends. Life is to short for, ‘I wish I had.’

For Shakespeare also said, ‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’

Happy 2016!!

By god, it’s a new year. If I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t really do “New Years Resolutions.” I’m just not that kind of girl. Recently I heard that only 8% of all resolutions are ever completed. That number almost makes me want to play the lottery, because I think the odds may be better. (Not really)

All those life changing ideas that pop into my head do so at birthday time, and I’m never quick to share them with the world. Why? Simple. I don’t see how you knowing my plans will help me reach my goals.

Yes. I did start writing on here about my new yoga regiment, but as you can see–I stopped. A little realization that the only person I should be working to impress is myself. That thought is liberating.

In 2016 I have lots of plans, most of them have been in the works since early last year–and nearly all of them have to do with books. Writing. Reading. Editing. Helping others with their work.

Some of those things I’m willing to share. Like books I’m reading. So, to start off 2016, I shall recommend, “The Girl with all the Gifts.”

17235026

I’ve spent the last month reading books to use as comps for the book that I’m currently editing. I read all the time, but when it comes time to play the comparison game I tend to lock up. Who wants to compare or be compared? Maybe you do–but it’s a hard thing for me. The good part is that along this journey I’ve managed to read a lot of new books I haven’t before.

Like this one.

Maybe it was on the Publisher’s Weekly site, or another list I found in my hours of scouring the internet for science fiction titles–but ‘The Girls with all the Gifts’ appeared AND it was available to download from the library. (I’m on a lot of waiting lists…)

It’s an unsuspecting title and original at that. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Suddenly I’m reading a zombie book, but not the same story that I’ve read a million times before. So to start of 2016, I recommend ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ (if you like zombie lit.) It’s not your typical zombie story, which you’ll recognize straight away. Read it and let me know what you think!

Does this help me in my quest to find a comp for my book? No, but hey! You only live once and it may as well be filled with good stories.

Cheers to a happy 2016 and time to get back to it!

Happy writing/editing!!

 

 

 

Lists: Books to love

library_stacks

 

And so it begins, the life I sat dreaming about for months and months on end – it is here, before me. Yes, that life I pondered on, drooled over, half cried, half begged for has arrived and now it’s time to take a hold of it. So, I thought I would start with a list! A list of books. There has been a challenge going around Facebook, “10 Books that have stayed with you.” What a better place to start than the books that have influenced me and molded me – propelling me forward – into this world of writing. I decided to do 15, because 10 isn’t enough – to be honest 15 isn’t either. I read a lot of books and many have influenced me one way or the other. But here is my list of 15 books that have “stayed” with me over the years.

SS1_OriginalBookCover_storyslide_image

1. The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
I love how Hinton portrays the separation of class. I feel it was ground breaking in the 60s and is still relatable today.

us-1992-tor
2. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
I love Ender. It’s a great character living in an interesting world. This book made me want to write sci-fi.

H2G2_UK_front_cover
3. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This is the book that hooked me on sci-fi! It’s so much fun and Adams is hilarious. 42!

jane_eyre
4. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
In my early 20s I read this and Wuthering Heights. Loved Jane Eyre. Her strength and honesty make her one of my favorite characters. (I still don’t get why people like Wuthering Heights.)

ham on rye
5. Ham in Rye – Charles Bukowski
Bukowski is a fan favorite all around. I’ve read most of his works, from poetry to short stories to novels – but Ham on Rye is my absolute favorite. The gradual growth of Hank is heart breaking.

LordOfTheFliesBookCover
6. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
This book – mother of all things holy – the nightmares I had. Perfectly captures how volatile humans are.

TheGlassCastle_front_cover
7. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Wallis
I could gush about this book for days. Beautifully written story about family, love, loss, and dealing with it all.

Slaughterhousefive
8. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Most amazing anti-war book of all time.

TreeGrowsInBrooklyn
9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
Written in omniscient 3rd, a point of view people rarely use these days, as the fly on a wall you watch the family grow. I randomly have scenes pop into my head on any given day.

sandman_reading_live_neil_gaiman_tom_wayland
10. Sandman – Neil Gaiman
The reason I started reading comics.

IAmLegend25028
11. I am Legend – Richard Matheson
Incredible and interesting horror.

The_Princess_Bride_(First_Edition)
12. Princess Bride – William Goldman
Just as funny, if not funnier, than the movie.

DownloadedFile
13. And if I Perish… – Evenlyn M.Monahan & Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
It’s about WWII nurses. Follows American nurses from the states through all major WWII battles.

FatKidRulestheWorld
14. Fat Kid Rules the World – K.L. Going
The movie adaptation of this book should be set on fire. This book is genius. Music, drugs, poverty, age appropriate awkwardness, true friends, and family.

Perksofbeingwallflower1
15. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Can’t describe it. Friendship, love, and life.

Friday in Review: Ham on Rye

ham on rye

 

I visited Bukowski’s grave after moving to Los Angeles. It’s in San Pedro, about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Better yet, my apartment is about a ten minute drive from the house he grew up in. Well, not better for Chuck ‘ol boy – it wasn’t really a happy home.

To put it mildly, I am a Bukowski fan and have been for years. Oddly, Ham on Rye is a book I’ve only read recently (because someone stole my copy). <- true story. The reason it is so odd is Ham on Rye is by far his best book. I liked Factotum, I loved Women and Hollywood, and I was even amused by Pulp (his last book published shortly before his death 20 years ago.) Say what you want about the man – hate him for all I care – but Ham on Rye is one of the most genuine coming of age stories I have read in a very long time. Starting from when he is 3 years old and ending at the beginning of World War II, Bukowski takes on his alter ego “Hank” and tells you his story like it was. (With a little embellishment here and there just to give it that extra flair.)

Are there women? Some.

Is there booze? Of course.

Why is this different from all of his other booze induced, women laced books?  Because it shows you the “why”. Why did he become the man he was? Why did he crawl inside a bottle? Why was he so obsessed with women and words? Every single answer is right there smashed between orange groves, high school angst, the great depression, and trolley rides to and from Pershing Square.

Loud, brash Bukowski is known for getting right in your face and saying, “What the hell are you going to do about it?” That quality is still there, but that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the spider. The small tiny moments that subsequently mould us into our adult selves.

So that’s why I pick this book. I pick Charles Bukowski for his poetry, for his soul, and for his courage to say out loud all those things that are very easily hidden behind booze and broads. Maybe you’ve read him, or maybe he is new to you – this is the place to start.

Ham on Rye won’t let you down.

“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

 

Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it.

 

Please feel free to recommend books below!