Tuesday, January 31, 2012

97 days and counting...

(please press play before you read - thank you)

Today marks day 97 in Los Angeles (barely a full rotation of breath) 97 days of holidays, visits, settling, writing, jobs, emails, banks, and Ohio screwing with my drivers licenses...

There are new road, parks, stores, people, "right" time to do things - and it all slowly molds the new path you will be heading down. (& a voice whispers "be careful for this is the future you never thought you'd have.") But it's a good path with tons of sunshine, the most amazing body of water I have ever had the honor of staring at, some wonderful people (some terrible ones too - suppose thats universal) and open ended possibilities that I didn't realize were even there.

Here is that place my dreams ran too when when I thought they had died, never to exist again. They had been waiting for me, patiently, by the seashore, arms outstretched, welcoming smiles that said - "It's about time Aryn... its about time." 

97 days is a very short amount of time.
97 days is a very, very long moment.
You can change everything about you in 97 days.
You can learn what a stripped down version of your being will truly look like.
You can learn nude will never be nearly scary as naked...

I can't say what the future holds for me - I can't say what the future holds for any of us. I can say that I'm willing to find out, that I'm happier here, that I do miss friends - but I've also come to accept what the word "friend" means and realize how many people I've incorporated in my life that were nothing of the sort. (More like emotional vampires that felt the need to live off my hospitality and good nature.)  I accepted that would come to light before I left - but I've also accepted that I am not alone and life changes and people are left out for good reason - if they're meant to be there in the long run, they will be there...

I suppose the only thing that I'm here to report is that life is going well, that we are happy, that I smile more, even on crappy days.

When I was a child and was asked the proverbial "what do you want to be when you grow up" question - I used to say "Happy" and learned over the years, that wasn't the correct answer. But now I know the truth is that really is the answer - I want to be happy.

I deserve to be happy
You deserve to be happy too
97 days is just under 4 months - its a blink of an eye - may as well do what you love and sleep better at night than just "play the game" so you can make face with people you don't even care that much for.

Cheers to the next 97 days, which will put is somewhere in the middle of April. As they say, April showers bring May flowers and you know what May flowers bring? My first summer in La La Land.

Follow your dreams people, there is a reason you have them and if they scare the shit out of you, all the better. Try even harder. Don't ever settle. Don't ever give up. Go out and LIVE, really live - do all those stupid things you're not supposed to do as an adult - make snow angels, go for sled rides, swim in the ocean, take a vacation just to relax, play tag, eat cookie dough - walk to the edge of a cliff and just STAND there knowing that down is forever and BREATHE.

And be happy
Tell those you love you LOVE THEM

don't settle
don't give up because this moment is exactly how you planned it
embrace it
enjoy it

hug too much
smile until your cheeks hurt

your 97 days starts now. GO!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking at

What do you think she's looking at?
Or is she just staring past us, lost in her own thought...
Maybe thats a fire behind her head
Maybe its the burning sun, just before it sets..

but what is she looking at?
I want to know, because she looks sad

and that makes me sad...

I want to bring her flowers
Or simply give her a hug

I want her eye to smile

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Weekly Adventure Interview with author A.G. Howard

Introducing: A.G. Howard

A.G. Howard writes YA and adult literary fantasies with a romantic slant, and is represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency.  She is also a ridiculously cool lady that always makes me smile, and one of my favorite interviews that I've done so far. [She is also part of a group of writers I talk to regularly on Twitter along with the earlier interviewed Kerri Maniscalco.]

Kind enough to let me interview her about her upcoming release "SPLINTERED" - I give you A.G. Howard.

Weekly Adventure: What is your genre of choice, and why?

A.G. Howard: Well, I used to fancy myself an adult romance writer, until I realized I wasn’t writing romance at all. My stuff had too much world building, and never followed the expected romance formula, even when I tried. It just wasn’t in my voice. Sadly, this self-realization severed my contract with my first agent. If you’d like details how that all played out, here’s a guest post I did on a friend’s blog about leaving my first agent. The book that won my second agent is a YA, and I plan to write that genre for a while. But I’d like to still get my adult fantasies out there, to have both an adult and YA audience that can cross over. It’s a win-win, expanding my readership, and feeding my eclectic muse. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy/paranormal, but that is my one and only constant. Other than that, I like to spread my wings, and having books in both the YA and adult markets will allow me that freedom. And this time around, I have an incredible agent who is rather eclectic herself, so the odds are in my favor. ;)

WA: How many books have you published? (self or otherwise)

AGH: SPLINTERED will be my first! :) And I’m very excited. 

WA: Tell me about SPLINTERED, and what inspired you to write it.

AGH: I love this question, because each author's process is different. I'm a visual writer, so I'll see something intriguing that spurs a story idea--whether it be a live scene, a picture, a movie, or even an unusual arrangement of words. It was a given that I would one day see something which would ignite the spark for an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, considering I'm a huge fan of Lewis Carroll's genius. The idea came to me when I went to see the Tim Burton & Disney Alice movie. The cinematography was so vivid and evocative that I didn't want to leave the setting when it was over. So I started playing out Wonderland continuations and scenarios in my mind. I decided to write a follow-up story about the world, making things a little darker and a little funkier, but I needed it to be contemporary and different than it had ever been done. Then I saw the book Alice I Have Been and everything clicked into place. I could have my contemporary heroine be a descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who actually inspired Carroll to write his story to begin with! Once that fell into my lap, I started the process of writing.

WA: When will I be able to I buy copies of your work?

AGH: It’s all kind of confusing, because in the beginning, I was scheduled to come out in Spring 2012. The seasons are strange in publishing. Winter doesn’t even start until April. Anyway, my editor emailed shortly after they bought the bookand said that after circulating the manuscript at a sale’s meeting and getting some great feedback from book buyers, the suggestion was proposed to make it a January 2013 release. January, though late in the season, is actually a Fall 2012 month. So, for clarity, SPLINTERED's official release date is January 2013 (a full six months earlier than originally planned, which has made for some tough edit deadlines), but the book will now be available for preorder and in the Fall 2012 catalogues. 

WA: What are you reading right now?

AGH: SCRIPPED by my dear friend K.V. Taylor. Here’s the GoodRead’s linkage:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12401393-scripped.  It’s a dark and violent Appalachian faerie story. Like me, KV loves all things fae. And as a bonus, she actually grew up in the mountains, so she ROX the setting. And boy, can she ever write a tortured soul!

WA: What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (like a favorite quote or a personal motto)

AGH: “In writing, the journey is the destination.” It’s from this book: The First Five Pages: A Writer'S Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. I have the quote posted on my office’s bulletin board. And it’s helped me keep trudging forward many a time…

WA: What advice to you have for other writers out there?

AGH: Be persistent and flexible. The most important thing you can do is believe in your work and stay true to your voice and vision. The very elements in my writing that caused me to part ways with my first agent caught the eyes of the three new agents who each offered me representation. I knew all along I didn't want to compromise that part of who I was, so I didn't bend on it. Boy, am I glad I listened to my gut, even if it was hard and scary at the time. Oh, and of course, never give up, never surrender. :)

WA: What cautions do you have?

AGH: This applies to critiquer, agent, and editor feedback: Know the difference between pride and vision. In other words, if people are telling you to change something in your book that you love, stand back and ask yourself why you love it. Is it personal to you? Something that other people, including your readers one day, are likely not to connect with? Or is it something integral to the characters in your story. Something that’s a part of them? That’s the difference between pride and vision. Pride applies to the glory it brings you. Vision applies to the glory it brings your characters. Never make changes that will compromise your character’s voice which ultimately IS your book’s vision. But be humble enough to let go of pride if it will make your character’s voice stronger and your book a more solid read. 

WA: Do you work on more than one project at a time?

AGH: If I do, they’re in two different stages of completion. I can edit and work on a new book at the same time. But I honestly don’t think I could work on two different WIPs at the same time. Then again, one thing I’ve learned in this biz, never say never. We’ll see what the future holds. I’m always up for a challenge.

WA: Do you have a process? Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?

AGH: Some writers are inspired by newspaper articles, current events, etc..., and then craft detailed plots before they even research or write. As for me, I'm mainly an organic writer. My muse is inspired through visual stimuli—like I said before. I'll see something intriguing that will spur a story idea. Next, I have to motivate and get to know my main characters (I even find head shots of them for visualization). After that, I research, which always births a very sparse skeleton plot. I often end up veering off of my original plot. That's what's nice about having it be vague. You're free to let your characters feel their way through the story.

WA: If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing?

AGH: Only some of the mistakes I made in the earliest stages, which can be found here. All said and done, my experience so far, even having a first agent that didn’t quite fit me, was kismet. I learned so much from her. Mainly about how to have a professional and friendly rapport; how to be flexible during rewrites; and last but not least, what I will not bend on. I found my true voice through her, and will be eternally grateful. I had to go through that, to become the writer I am today. Every writer’s journey is unique and necessary.

WA: What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?

AGH: Interesting question, because they’re one and the same. My lush, descriptive writing. It’s both my greatest strength, and my Achilles heel. As you know, it’s all subjective in this business. It’s all in who you ask.

WA: Who is your greatest influence(s)

AGH: Oh, my gosh. Too many to mention. The Bible very early on … I think I have Psalms to blame for my descriptive and poetic writing style. HEH; Charlotte Bronte, Ann Rice, Neil Gaiman and Alice Hoffman are my four favorite writers.

WA: Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter?

AGH: I suck at choosing favorites. I love all my tweeps.

WA: Do you have any other passions besides writing?

AGH: Family, friends, rollerblading, mountain-biking, snow skiing, gardening, and family vacations that at any given time might include an impromptu side trip to an 18th century graveyard or a condemned schoolhouse for photo ops.

WA: When did you know you wanted to write?

AGH: The writing bug didn't bite me as a child, as it does a lot of authors. Sure, I dabbled in goofy "stories".  I wrote them with map colors and kept them stashed under my bed. But I never took the ability too seriously. Not until years later, after I'd married, had two children, and lost my grandfather to brain cancer. The night he died, I sat down and wrote a two page tribute to him and his life that was later used for his eulogy. In all honesty, I hold him up as my inspiration, as the end of his journey was to be the beginning of mine. 

WA: Do you have a day job?

AGH: I used to work in a middle school library, but now I’m a full time writer. And I LOVE it.

WA: Final question, why do you write?

AGH:  Because breathing life into my characters makes every breath of my own that much sweeter.


More about A.G. Howard:

She and her agent recently sold SPLINTERED, an eerie and whimsical YA Alice in Wonderland spin-off, to Amulet.  SPLINTERED is scheduled to hit shelves January 2013, but will be available for pre-order in the fall 2012 season.

You can follow A.G. Howard on twitter (which I totally recommend). She can also be found on GoodReads, her Official Website, and her personal blog "A Still & Quiet Madness.

Please enjoy the trailer for SPLINTERED:

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Soundtrack of my Life... I've fallen behind...

When I turned on the computer I had a general idea of what I planned to say on here. I mean, it's Friday, which would suggest a song - but this is week 2 of me not being prepared for The Soundtrack of My life.

I guess that means the soundtrack is silent. 

OK - so it's not silent, but life has gotten out of hand and the first thing to go is this blog, then writing, sleep, decent food... brain function...

Life. I have nothing to comment about its speed of misdirection. 

I spent the last few days trying to find a job, and one I can do at home because if I can't do it here - then what the hell am I going to do with my son? I could get a better paying job, but then most of my money will go to child care and I'll simply be in the very same boat I am now, but without spending time with my son. To me that sounds terrible.

But here I am, and I come with my trusty journal in tow - filled with songs that I love and words I have scribbled unto blank graph lined pages. Whimsy and angst mixed with melody and poetry...  you know. Me.

I keep looking through this list, trying to pigeonhole this moment in time with the perfect song, but my thoughts are still a jumbled train wreck so I keep looking it over and over and over....

I could post American Steel "Sons of Avarice" as an example my anger towards the current state of this country. Discuss my discontent of this government, the upcoming joke of an election that I'm supposed to embrace and how our freedoms are dwindling away due to fear and hate...

I could pick Metric "Twilight Galaxy"so I can discuss how rejected I feel at times and how, no matter what face I put on, I always hear the voices of every single person that ever told me I'm no good and going to fail. I can highlight the lyrics about how I will go forward, how I persevere. 

Or maybe I'll just pick Bon Iver "Skinny Love" and avoid reality all together, pretend I'm living in an indie film and this moment is the montage of my life where I'm walking on a fine fall day have epiphany after epiphany about what I need to do - discovering that everything I ever need has always been there. These struggles are the ones I created for myself out of confusion, fear and doubt - but love, peace and serenity has always lived next door...

...maybe I should avoid music all together and tell you how tired I am from writing, and interviewing, and trying to find that elusive job - how when I took my son to the park this week I had the wonderful experience all parents fear, the one that includes a bunch of children picking on their child... 

I can weave tales and woes - recipes and poems - songs and lyrics - news and gossip.

Or I can just post a song that always makes me smile as I sing it at the top of my lungs and dance around my apartment, not because the lyrics "empower" me or make me see the error of my ways or in anyway narrate my life. A song that is just simply a song I love. Yes, I can do that... I can pick a song I love - because everyone has a place they crawl to, a place that is a nest that will make you feel 100% in no time... home.

So thats what I will do. Rancid - I love you - always have, always will. Thank you for being my home.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Weekly Adventure Interview with Zoe Sharp

Introducing: Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp is the author of nine books in the acclaimed Charlie Fox crime thriller series. She was 
brought up living aboard a catamaran on the northwest coast of England and had an unconventional 
education, writing her first novel at fifteen. She became a freelance photojournalist in 1988 and 
began writing about Charlie Fox after receiving death-threat letters in the course of her work.

I met Ms. Sharp online on one of my "I'm quitting writing" days and she was wonderful enough to give me a pep talk, event though we had never spoken once before. Her latest novel, "Fifth Victim" was released on January 12th, by Pegasus Books

Weekly Adventure: What is your genre of choice, and why?

Zoë Sharp: I’ve always enjoyed reading in the crime thriller genre, so when I started writing, those were the kind of books I wanted to write. You spend so long wrapped up in writing a book that it has to be something you’re passionate about right from the start, otherwise it would be very hard to maintain enthusiasm and motivation to the end.

WA: How many books have you published? (self or otherwise)

ZS: I’m just in the midst of writing the tenth book in my Charlie Fox series, which is provisionally  titled DIE EASY. Last year I also published a Charlie Fox e-thology of short stories, FOX FIVE, and I’ve written quite a few other short stories for anthologies and magazines. Before I was a fiction writer, though, I wrote non-fiction, so I’ve been seeing my work in print for more years than I want to think about!

WA: Tell me about Fifth Victim.

ZS: FIFTH VICTIM sees Charlie trying to prevent her principal from becoming the next victim of a gang of vicious kidnappers preying on the offspring of the rich on New York’s Long Island. In this book I wanted to explore the theme of having everything and losing it – or throwing it away.

Charlie’s loyalties are torn in all kinds of directions by the events of the book, both on a personal and professional level. I felt I needed to take her to the next stage of development, to keep pushing her to breaking point and beyond.

On Long Island, the playground of New York’s wealthy and privileged, Charlie Fox is tasked 
with protecting Dina, the wayward daughter of rich businesswoman, Caroline Willner. An alarming number of the girl’s circle of friends have been through kidnap ordeals and Charlie quickly discovers that Dina seems fascinated by the clique formed by these former victims. Charlie worries that Dina’s thrill-seeking tendencies will put both of them in real danger. But just as her worst fears are realised, Charlie receives the devastating personal news. The man who put her lover, Sean, into a coma is on the loose.

With her loyalties divided between her client and avenging Sean, Charlie finds that the two goals 
are inextricably linked. The decisions she makes now, and the path she chooses to follow, will have far-reaching consequences.

WA: Where can I buy copies of your book?

ZS: The later books are available in print or e-format from all good bookstores. (I’d always recommend supporting a local indie bookstore if you have one nearby.) The early books in the series went out of print and were becoming very expensive to find, so last year I made the decision to bring them out in e-format and they are now all available for Kindle from Amazon. As the Kindle Reader software can be downloaded for free onto most electronic devices, this seemed like a good place to start.

It was an exciting opportunity to give the whole series a unified ‘look’ and also to add extra content and material. Each book now has an excerpt from the next in the series, additional information about the character, plus a guest excerpt from other authors like Brett Battles, Blake Crouch, Lee Goldberg, Tim Hallinan, and Libby Fischer Hellmann. I was also able to put back a couple of scenes that I cut out of the first book, KILLER INSTINCT, as well as adding a wonderful Foreword to the series by Lee Child.

WA: What are you reading right now?

ZS: I’ve just finished reading MORE FORENSICS AND FICTION by DP Lyle MD. Doug Lyle is a California cardiologist and mystery writer who has also published award-winning non-fiction work connected to forensics and medical matters. This is the third of his books devoted to the strange questions he’s been asked by crime writers, and the answers he’s given. It’s another fascinating book, answering such diverse questions as “How is a castration performed?” and “What substance available in 1579 could be employed for chronic poisoning?” A must for every crime writer’s bookshelf!

WA: What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (a favorite quote or a personal motto)

ZS: The screen-saver on my computer monitor has four words that tumble around it: “Get On With It” which about sums up my motto. Writing is partly inspiration, yes, but it’s probably a large part perspiration. You just have to sit down and get the words put together, even on the days when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Deadlines tend to concentrate the mind a little, too.

Somebody once said that there are a lot more persistent writers published than there are talented writers published, and I think that’s true. Think of all the fabulous novels and stories that have never been seen by anyone because the author didn’t have the motivation or the faith to finish them.

WA: What advice do you have for other writers out there?

ZS: Stephen King’s very simple advice is excellent: “Read, read, read. Write, write, write.” Read everything you can get your hands on and analyse it as much as possible. Why did it keep you up late into the night reading? Or why did you find it so easy to put the book down? What grabbed you about the characters, the plot, the setting? Bad writing can be as educational to read as good writing, if only because it motivates you to finish your own book on the grounds that you’re sure you can do better!

WA: What cautions do you have?

ZS: This is a very tough business. Writers probably take more criticism in a year than most people face in a lifetime. For all but a very few it’s going to be a painful process and sometimes it may seem like the rewards are constantly just out of reach. I think at the outset you have to ask yourself why you want to be a writer and give yourself an honest answer. If it’s for fame and glory, there are a lot of easier ways to achieve that. (Of course, none spring immediately to mind …)

WA: Do you work on more than one project at a time?

ZS: In theory I work on one project at once, but so often other things interrupt. I wrote a new Charlie Fox short story (Across The Broken Line) in the middle of the current work-in-progress, and I’ve been making notes about the next book, too. But I won’t actually start writing that until this one is done.

Otherwise I’d get hopelessly distracted. Other ideas are always swirling around, but there’s a limit to how much multi-tasking I can do, sadly.

WA: Do you have a process? (outlining, character creation, location, etc)

ZS: The first thing I always write is the jacket copy outline – the brief half-page you would find on the back of the paperback or inside flap of the hardcover. This is just the essence of the story, and it helps keep me on track with the most important themes and direction of the story. I try to work on an outline quite a bit before I start writing, as I find it very hard to go back and unpick story elements once I’ve actually got the thing under way. I’ve ended up doing that with the current book and it’s made it more difficult for me, I know. Because I write a series I already have the main characters, and bringing in the other players in the drama is always interesting. I work out why they’re doing what they’re doing, what they want, what they’re afraid of, and what’s driving them. Then it’s a lot easier for me to write them responding in a natural and believable way as the story unfolds. (I hope.)

The location is often central to the story itself, but some stories are more wedded to the location than others. It always makes the story seem stronger, for me, if it could only take place in one setting – that the location matters.

WA: Where do you get your ideas from? What/who inspires you?

ZS: Ideas are everywhere – you just have to open your eyes to the possibilities of what’s in front of you. There are constantly stories in the news, articles in the newspapers, snippets you overhear or just little oddities of every day life that have the potential to be woven into a book. I think of it as the “what if” scenario. Take something relatively normal and extrapolate it to the next stage, and the one after that. I combine that with wanting to always put my main protagonist under some kind of pressure, to test and conflict her. That combination keeps the stories fresh for me. I’m inspired to always try to write a better book than the last one, to keep improving my craft and moving forwards.

WA: If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally 

ZS: If I was starting again today I’d be a lot more logical and organised about finding my first agent, I think. There is such a huge opportunity to connect with agents now – on their blogs and Twitter and Facebook pages – that simply wasn’t an option when I began. You now have a much better chance to interact with somebody and really get a good feel for how well you’re going to gel with them on a personal as well as a professional level. And carefully going through books by my favourite writers to see who gives a mention to their agent in the acknowledgements would be a sensible plan. After all, that’s a good sign of the relationship between a writer and their agent. If they’re not name-checked, why not? Social media has meant there is so much more a writer can do to publicise and promote their work before it ever gets near publication that in theory any new author can hit the ground running in a way that wasn’t possible previously.

WA: What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?

ZS: All criticism is tough. No two ways about it. I try not to read reviews for that reason – my Other Half reads them first and only shows them to me if he thinks I need to see them. The trouble is that I always believe any criticisms totally and disbelieve any praise. I’ve been lucky and had some very good reviews, but to me the greatest compliments come from readers. People who have no reason to contact me but do so to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the books and asking when the next one’s going to be ready. That always gives me a real buzz.

WA: Who is your greatest influence(s)

ZS: Probably too many to mention! My first introduction to crime was the series of books about The Saint by Leslie Charteris, as well as the Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I confess to being more of a fan of Dorothy L Sayers than Agatha Christie. Then when I started reading thrillers I picked up those by Alex Hailey, Alistair McLean, Jack Higgins and Frederick Forsyth. Now I love the distinctive writing styles of authors like Lee Child, Robert B Parker, Ken Bruen, Don Winslow, John Connolly, Jeffery Deaver and Harlan Coben.

WA: Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter and why? (authors, non-authors)

ZS: Another difficult question to answer. I enjoy following people who have something interesting to say, including authors, musicians, racing drivers, motorcyclists. You get introduced to a huge number of fascinating people who all have a story to tell. And I love the humour, of course – Death Star PR has to be one of my favourites.

WA: Do you have any other passions besides writing?

ZS: Writing has become a bit all-consuming in the past few years, but I have realised that I do need to get out from behind my computer keyboard a bit more and that’s one of my ambitions for 2012. We love to travel, but all our recent travelling has been work-related, so there are loads of places we’d love to see just for the sake of it. And I used to really enjoy sailing but haven’t done any for a while. I’ve always been a petrol-head, so cars and motorcycles and anything that goes quickly is a bit of a passion, too. And construction. We self-built our own house and would like to do it all over again. Apart from that, just loafing around reading or watching movies, I think!

WA: When did you know you wanted to write?

ZS: I was always writing the beginnings of books when I was younger, but I wrote my first proper novel when I was fifteen, so I suppose it was pretty definite by then. I wrote the whole book out by hand and my father typed it up for me so it could be sent out to publishers. I received what’s known in the trade as “rave rejections” otherwise who knows when my writing career proper might have started? As it was, I was obviously a little disheartened by my failure to find a publisher with my first attempt, so I put my writing efforts aside for a few years. But they refused to go away completely, and by the time I was twenty-one I’d launched out as a freelance photojournalist working in the motoring field. That satisfied my writing urges for a while – until the need to tell a story took over again and I wrote the first of the Charlie Fox novels.

WA: After becoming established, did you ever go back and have that 1st book published?

ZS: That first ever novel is still in a box in the attic and will probably never EVER see the light of day. Which is only right and proper :)

WA: Do you have a day job?

ZS: For a long time after starting to write fiction I carried on with the photography side of my photojournalism work. My husband, Andy, writes non-fiction so I still do any pictures to go with his words. But over the six months or so I’ve really been able to concentrate more on just writing, which has been great. Having said that, it can be very useful to have something else to do besides sitting in front of your computer – if only for the figure!

WA: Final question, why do you write?

ZS: Because I must.

More about Zoë Sharp

Zoë’s writing has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Benjamin Franklin and Macavity Awards in the United States, as well as the CWA Short Story Dagger. She blogs regularly on her own website, www.ZoeSharp.com, and on www.Murderati.com. You can also find her on Twitter (@authorzoesharp) and Facebook.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Soundtrack of my Life, "Wolf Like Me" TV on the Radio

"The bad news, everything changes. The good news, everything changes."

Not all bad is plainly bad
Not all good is plainly virtuous

Not everything you see, is exactly what you see
There are bits and pieces we all hid - even from ourselves

So what is it?
Who are we?

Why did a song about werewolves make my list?

In one life we can know many versions of ourselves
In one life we can hid just as many
In one life we can try to seek out the truth, regardless of the end result
In one life we can hid from it all and pretend we're something we know we were never intended to be

We can ignore the taunts, the signs, the hints and clues
We can become what everyone else perceives us to be

We can be scared of what lies in wait

We can life in fear of ourselves...

Or we can let the beast within out - and be ourselves - regardless of what those around us think. Yes, the original copy is the best, and if those around you don't like that version of you... maybe it's time to rethink who you spend your time with...

"I know its strange another way to get to know you
                                          you'll never know unless we go so let me show you
I know its strange another way to get to know you
we've got till noon here comes the moon
so let it show you 
show you now"

Like I said, the bad news is, its gonna change - but the great news is... it's gonna change... ;)

TV on the Radio -  Wolf Like Me... enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

There is some sort of life beyond this...

I haven't just "blogged" it out in a while... last night as laid awake in bed at 1:30 in the morning, with my brain on over drive, that was the one thought I held onto... so here I am.

I just finished another rewrite on my book, after some feedback. Next month it will be two years I've been working on this novel and its only the 1st in the series. Currently, the second one is a whole 9 pages long, but you have to start somewhere... it's hard, finding time I mean. To blog is one thing, I'm on here for maybe an hour, as my son runs in and out of the room asking me questions like "What sound does a T make, mama?" But to really write is a whole other barrel of pickles... I would talk about this more, but I feel talking and doing never go hand in and for me. Hopefully the next time I find a moment to just vent away on here I'll have more to report.

No, I will have more to report. Oh, the decisions we have to make to move forward with our lives. ;)

One thing I have been doing is keeping up with my journal. Finding a cozy spot for it in the daily routine has been nice. Back in '09 when I started writing in the journal I'm still using, my entries were there to lift the depression I was in. I wasn't here (in L.A.), still in Cleveland thinking I'd never get here - my hope dripping away like water in a leaky faucet. There were a small group of people I thought I couldn't live without in my life who had left - having a child changes everything.

Even a year ago the transition of this new life just beginning was a strain at times.
Dreams looked more like the summit or an unbelievably large mountain, covered in snow and blustery storms - so very unreachable.
I had only been teaching about a year, and the book was a year in and never going to be finished - let alone queried or read by another living soul. And that was when I found a new yoga gig, for the first time it was in yoga studio. (It is the only time I've ever worked in a studio, I'm a bird of my own coloring - I like to dance to my own tune.)

I had one class, in all the time there, that I didn't have students, it was the very first day I worked - 1/20/11 - it snowed and I sat alone in the heated studio surrounded by candles and incense - waiting.

While no one came I wrote this:

There is some sort of life beyond this
An unseen world I have yet to meet
Filled with laughter and stories I'll remember
Till the end of my days

There is a world beyond this
One with tears I swore I'd never shed again
So salty and scornful 
they burn my cheeks

There is a world out side of this
This one I love so deeply
One I'll remember fondly
down the road

There is a world beyond this
Where future me looks back 
And sees this yesterday
with quiet intrigue

Ah, yes, a world I can see
One that I have breathed
But, somehow, have yet
to touch

There is a world that lies beyond
My hopes & dreams
Fears & dread
It will mold me into a new woman

A woman with long gray hair
wrinkles on her face
& my eyes

Yes, there is more
Enough to keep me going, enough to make me smile
Enough to let me know 
I need to be in this moment

Because before long, it will be gone too.

And now it's a year later.

I write on here and in my journal, because it allows me to look back and really see where I've come from. When time passes, it erodes our memory, leaving the essence of things - or the essence of what we wanted things to be. No, it's not torture - I don't go back to punish myself for being "bad" (whatever that mean) but it helps me change patterns that need to be changed. It helps me find the me that is SO buried under years of self-doubt and fears of failure - and set her free.

Free. What a lovely feeling.

I'm not there, yet, but I'm on my way and I even knew it a year ago - even if I wasn't willing to share it with anyone at the time. Let's face it, life is scary - but when you realize what the biggest things we fear   are, its much, much, much, easier to slay that Goliath. 

Press on my friends... press on. 
Enjoy every moment, even the crap ones, and I'll see you on the flip-side.


ps - the lotus flower... in meditation how you hold your hands is called a "mudra" - the Lotus Mudra, you press the outside of your pinkies and thumbs together, spreading the other fingers wide, with the bottom edge of the palm touching - this creates the flower.

I had a student who would always end her practice in Lotus Mudra, instead of Anjali Mudra (prayer hands), so I asked her why she did this. She told me, her old teacher had said, "We are all lotus flowers rising out of the mud and water, forming a beautiful flower."

Just remember, we all come from mud - and that will never mean you can not become a beautiful flower. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weekly Dish - Vegan Fried Sweet Potato Pies

Vegan Fried Sweet Potato Pie

Besides being one of my very favorite vegetables, the sweet potato is very versatile. Able to transform into a delicious pie and in the same day become a savory, this treat is a dessert that is perfect for packed lunches or just to nibble on at home. 

4-1/2 C Flour (organic, unbleached)
3 TBSP Sugar (currently addicted to Whole Foods Vegan variety)
1/2 Earth Balance, or any other vegan butter
2 "eggs" use Ener-g Egg Replacer
1 Cup Soy Milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)


3 C Mashed sweet potatoes
1 C Sugar
3 "eggs" use Ener-g Egg Replacer
1 C Evaporated Milk (Recipe Below)**
1/4 C melted Earth Balance
3 TBSP flour
1 tspn vanilla extract

canola oil for frying and powdered sugar to make it look pretty

In a bowl mix flour and sugar (from the dough recipe) and then cut in the earth balance until it gets all nice and crumbly. Add "eggs" and milk. Mixed until it forms a nice ball and then place in the fridge.

Meanwhile... In another bowl, mix the potatoes, sugar, "eggs", "milk", butter, flour and vanilla. Whip it all together until smooth. 

Divide the dough into (around) 25 balls (it never the same twice here...) roll out into a nice sized circle (4" - 5") on a floured surface. Spoon 2 TBSP of filling on 1/2 of the dough, moisten edge and fold close, pressing the edges together. (you can use a fork to make this extra closed). Then prick the top a few times with a fork - repeat. 

in a skillet, heat 1/2" of oil to 375*. Fry pies a few at a time for 1 minute on each side and drain on a paper towel. Dust with powder sugar. Consume. 

**Vegan Evaporated Milk
Put 3 cups liquid soymilk or rice milk in a saucepan.
Add 1/2 cup sugar or equivalent.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until volume is reduced to 1 cup.
Add vanilla to taste, and a pinch of salt.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Weekly Adventure Interview with aspiring novelist Kerri Maniscalco!

Introducing - Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri is one of the lovely people I've had the opportuinity of meeting on the illustrious twitter (@scribequotes)  a twenty-something native New Yorker, who loves to read and write young adult novels, plus she has an awesome taste in music. (Elliott Smith anyone?)

Outside of writing, you can find her at her favorite NYC haunts, like The Rockwood Music Hall, the Bitter End, the Mercury Lounge, or White Horse Tavern, supporting her friends and local musicians, or roaming the streets (& parks) armed with her favorite journal. 

Kerri is also a crazy foodie at heart, which is just another reason I love this gal! Earlier this month she agreed to do a little interview with me for the old Weekly Adventure blog, and below is the results! Enjoy!

Weekly Adventure: What is your genre of choice, and why?
Kerri Maniscalco: Speculative fiction is my favorite genre because it encompasses ALL of the subcategories I adore. Basically anything that falls under the sci-fi/fantasy/horror/paranormal/superhuman umbrella is a big YES for me. As for the ‘why’ part, that would be thanks to my ten and eleven-year-old self who hid under the covers reading everything from Roald Dahl, to Michael Crichton and Stephen King.

WA: Where can I read you?
KM: My work is out with agents at the moment and isn’t quite available for the public...yet. But, but, but I post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my blog, Write. Eat. Repeat, and I’m a columnist for Examiner.com so we can totes interwebs hang in the meantime. 

WA: What section do you write for in the Examiner?

KM: I write in the Arts & Entertainment section and my "official" title is the "New York Folk Arts Examiner."

WA: On your blog it reads, "Novelist by day... rogue foodie by night." what what is your very favorite style of food?

KM: Oh my gosh, how much time and space do we have? I love it all. I'm a huge fan of fusion food, so I'm always experimenting with bold flavors. I'm on a HUGE curry kick right now (I just made curry mashed potatoes), but I love Spanish, Dominican, Mexican, and Italian foods with unexpected flavors twists tossed in. (Like pairing Thai flavors with classic Italian.)

WA: Tell me about your current book project.
KM: The project that’s currently under consideration is a YA futuristic thriller. It’s set in NYC and is about a 16-year-old girl who’s unknowingly being turned into the ultimate biological weapon by a government obsessed with achieving genetic perfection. 

WA: Does your WIP have a title?

KM: It does have a title, but I'm being all secret-like and mysterious with it... for now :)

WA: What is your “dream” project?
KM: My dream project right now is some sort of YA light science fiction dealing with the space - time continuum. (I know, I know...my nerd is totally showing.) I’m playing with some plot ideas now, actually, and hope to start drafting it next week. It’ll definitely have a thriller bent to it, I’m a HUGE fan of genre mash-ups - especially in YA.

WA: I'm a HUGE nerd and that is one of my dreams too, meaning the writing a killer SciFi novel... *currently staring a the logos for the Hugo & Nebula awards.* 

KM: Oh my gosh, right?!!! MAJOR SWOONAGE *stares at Hugo * Nebula awards with flirty eyes*

WA: What/who are you reading right now?
KM: Holy chipotle guacamole, I read almost as much as I breathe. I’m. not. kidding. I JUST finished THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner and THE UGLIES series by Scott Westerfeld and I could gush for years. SO GOOD. Yesterday I bought LEGEND by Marie Lu and MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. Here are some of the books I recently reread and I’m salivating for more of:
I’m dying for INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows, INSURGENT by Veronica Roth, A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis, FEVER by Lauren DeStefano, MIDDLE GROUND by Katie Kacvinsky, and TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire when they hit shelves this year. OHHH and of course SPLINTERED by Anita Grace Howard, STARTERS by Lissa Price, FALSE MEMORY by Dan Krokos, NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis (which isn’t out until 2013, I think) THE VINDICO by Wesley King and WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang who was the very first person to EVER lay eyes on part of my manuscript. True story. Okay, I’ll stop talking books now. :)

WA: What keeps you going on those days when writing gets hard? (like a favorite quote or a personal motto)
KM: That’s easy! All of my writing friends keep me going. (I’m looking at YOUUUU, Aryn:)) On the days when I hate certain scenes in my manuscript, I know I’ve got the interwebs support of everyone who is or has been in the same boat. (It goes without saying that my parents, my sister, and my friends are beyond amazing and always push me out of any funks, too.) But I do love this quote by Jack London and think about it often: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

WA: I saw that quote on your blog and loved it. It's been added to the cork board by my desk :)

WA: What advice to you have for other writers out there?
KM: Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop reading. Don’t ever stop writing. If your first project doesn’t work out, don’t quit - it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Work on your second, third, or tenth manuscript - they will all be stepping stones and who knows? Maybe one day you can bring one of those novels out and breathe new life into it. I promise you will get there one day, you just have to keep trying. 

WA: What cautions do you have?

KM: As far as writing is concerned? Not many. I used to have a lot, but they looked a lot like fear dressed up in pretty clothing and would always whisper doubts in my ear. And doubts have this nasty little habit of holding you back. Now I just try to produce the best work I can, continuously push myself in a forward motion, learn as much as possible, and acknowledge that the rest is out of my control and that’s okay. 

WA: Do you work on more than one project at a time?
KM: Not usually. I work fairly quickly with the first draft, clocking around four weeks. (Then of course comes SERIOUS editing and rewriting for a longer period of time.) I have drafted up a synopsis or the first few chapters of a project while working on another novel, but when I REALLY start to dig deep into a manuscript, I like to completely immerse myself in that character. Otherwise there are too many voices to keep track of. (Which, err, totally sounds crazy, right?!) 
Oh! I also keep a journal to jot ideas down, sometimes I’ll think of random sentences or dialogue or titles, and I write it out and put it away for a rainy day. It helps.

WA: No, that doesn't sound crazy, it sounds like me with my characters. When I'm away too long I miss them, like I miss family or friends.

KM: ((Cuddle hugs characters.)) I like to shower them with all my love and attention.

WA: Do you have a process? (outlining, character creation, location)
KM: With this last book I had a decent idea of the story arc from the very beginning. I wrote a synopsis, then character bios to really help get a better understanding of who my main characters were as people. Also, I did a rough chapter outline which included things like conflict & action, and I ALWAYS left off at the end of an action scene so the next day when I opened the document, I couldn’t WAIT to dig in and finish. But I can’t do a major outline of the whole book, just chapter by chapter so the next day I have a decent starting off point. 

WA: Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?
KM: Life and everything in it inspires me! Most of the time it’s just pure imagination running wild and free with my projects. However, I love the History Channel and the Discovery Science channel, so sometimes I’ll hear something about a theory and my brain starts with all the ‘what if’ scenarios.

WA: If you could do it all over, is there anything you would change about finding an agent and finally publishing?
KM: I’m still in the query trenches, but there isn’t one thing I’d change about the process. I have no doubt that when the time is right, with hard work and determination, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.

WA: What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your greatest compliment?
KM: Since I’m unpublished I haven’t had to deal with really tough criticism yet. Same goes for greatest compliment, EXCEPT there have been people on the interwebs who’ve asked where they can buy my book and those are definitely AMAZING compliments. If I could reach through my computer screen, I’d totally smother everyone with awkward hugs until they begged me to stop.

WA: Who is your greatest influence(s)
KM: My grandmother. She always tells me that if you can make someone smile, it’s been a good day and I completely agree. I am the person I am today because of her - she passed her love of reading on to my mother, who showered my sister and I with stories for as long as I can remember. My entire world is built on books, and she laid the foundation.

WA: Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter & why? (authors, non-authors)
KM: I love talking to people in general, so tweeps who actually talk are my FAVORITE TWITTER PEOPLE EVER. Through my twitter friends I find out what people are reading, great new music, who’s blogging about something awesome, etc. I’ve found some of my favorite authors/musicians through recommendations. On the flip side, I’m never a fan of people trying too hard to sell a product, so I try to avoid them. If I like you, if we share tweets, chances are I’m going to be checking your bio and clicking through to your website - if you write, you can be sure I’ll be adding your work to my TBR pile.

WA: Do you have any other passions besides writing?
KM:I went to college for Fine Art and later Communication Design (which is a mash-up of Graphic Design/Marketing/Packaging Design), so besides reading and writing I paint and draw, too. I can stretch a canvas with the best of them and I’m a GINORMOUS typography nerd.
Also, when I was fourteen or fifteen I started going to shows every weekend for local musicians, which is something I’ve never stopped doing. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends and acquaintances who are really, really amazing musicians/songwriters here in NYC and I try and get out and support them as often as I can. (Though, admittedly I’ve been SERIOUSLY neglecting having a normal social/personal life lately. I resolve to go out more in 2012 :)) It’s safe to say I have a HUGE passion for music.

WA: When did you know you wanted to write?
KM: For me it wasn’t obvious. I wrote these crazy stories and used to put on “shows” that I’d script when I was really little, and I had a GAZILLION imaginary friends. (Yes, I was one of THOSE kids.) I wrote short stories in high-school and poetry and song lyrics in college, and I took creative writing every chance I had, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I thought about doing it seriously. Writing was always something that came easily, and I never really thought about making a living at it.

WA: Do you have a day job?
KM: I do not. Nine-to-fives and I stopped talking a long time ago. 

WA: Final question, why do you write?
KM: I write because even on the days when it’s hard, when I’ve read my WIP for the BAJILLIONTH time and I hate ALL THE THINGS and I want to SMASH ALL THE THINGS - I love it more than anything. Using 26 letters to create an entire world by shifting and shaping them thousands of times is amazing. I can’t imagine doing anything else now, even if doing something else is easier and less stressful. It’s REALLY hard, but it’s so worth it.

You can follow Kerri's Blog, "Write. Eat. Repeat." here and follow her on Twitter and @ScribeQuotes