I submitted to QueryShark, and while I think my query was decent, I am fully prepared to have a new hole ripped somewhere undesireable. (Not that there ever IS a desireable hole to have ripped in a place where there isn't one already. Actually, let's just stop talking about ripping flesh period.)
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I'm writing my manuscript ON AN ACTUAL COMPUTER (whispering) while I'm at work, pretending to work. But it's okay.
I'm just an intern.
I'm working as hard as they pay me to work--which is nothing. You do the math.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 10:11 AM
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
So last night I took a small break from the manuscript to work on my query letter. I figured that I'd start it by the time I finished the manuscript--in other words, I was avoiding doing it at any cost.
For a writer aspiring to be published, you can't NOT see 'Query Query QUEREEEH!' everywhere you turn. It's a daunting task, but necessary because that's your BEST shot at snagging a good agent. It's not like you can be discovered in the mall or anything. No agent is going to come up to you randomly in the street and say "Hey, you look like you're an awesome writer! Let's do lunch" unless they are REALLY intuitive--or just plain out of their minds.
We'll save stuff like that for America's Next Top Model.
Out of my fabulous skills of deduction (and being able to surf the intarw3bs) I figure that there are three main components to the query letter.
1. The Hook
2. A condensed synopsis
I've got 1 and 3 down. It was pretty easy to get the hook down pat--took me maybe five minutes because I knew what the book is about.
Biography...simple. I haven't won any awards, but I've been writing all my life and when I was in the 12th grade, kids would go late to their classes to find me in the computer lab to get the next chapter of this vampire story I was writing. That was possibly one of the coolest experiences in my life. Of course I don't think I'll be mentioning that...but you get the idea.
Everyone bemoans how difficult the Ebil Query Letter is, but I figure if I approach it honestly, respectfully and with some knowledge of who I am and what I'm doing, I'll be alright.
So I've been practicing writing Query letters and I'm considering sending it query shark so I can totally get my arse pwned on the intarw3bs.
Alright, so the other thing that made the title of this blog, and this sentence really long:
Why hasn't someone come up with a reality show for writers? America's got Writers? American Writer, America's Next Top Author, The Writer, The Writette (yeah, not a word. I know) or Real Writer's of Orange County--you get the picture.
That'd be awesome. Well...for me it'd be awesome and they'd have weird competitions that have nothing to do with writing like, eating 'book worms' or swimming through a pile of books, or seeing how many times you can take getting stabbed with a pen or freshly sharpened pencil...oh yeah, I got a million of 'em!
I don't think America on a whole would be interested in that unless the writer's were some really hot girls with big boobs and the obligatory black framed glasses--mixed in with just enough 'angst' to keep them 'real'. They'd say things like : "In miasma of my cluttered soul" (whatever the HELL that means) just to sound credible and for someone to say "Oh..she's so deep".
Or if it were a guy, he'd were pants from Abercrombie & Fitch and have that little faux mowhawk thing on his head with some faded jeans, just loose enough not to be weird, but fitting enough to say "I will not conform!", he'll also wear those dark framed glasses to look smart AND trendy and he'll write things like "The blackbird dies and there is nothing but a puddle of miasmatic relief." And no one will know what it means, but in the fear of appearing stupid they'll just say "oh that was deep. He's so hot and sensitive." And then big boobed weird chick and Abercrombie & Fitch dude will hook up and...
wow...see what I meant about going off on a tangent?
Man, I'm already hating this imaginary show.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 8:58 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So I was sitting here reading Nathan Bransford's blog about 'pitching' http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-maximize-pitch-sessions.html
Pretty interesting stuff, but I wonder if I'd actually be the sort to walk up to a potential stranger and start talking about my novel trying to sell the idea.
Actually, I don't have to wonder. I know I'm not the sort--at least to speak to a person with a definite plan in mind.
If I had to pitch my book to an agent, I'd probably rather NOT know that he or she is an agent, and is just some random schmuck like myself wandering around a writing conference pretending to look 'with it'. We start talking about random things like potatoes, kids and traffic lights and somehow we end up on the subject of writing--and more importantly, what I'm writing. *cheeky grin*
It's easy for me to 'pitch' if I know you and I'm just telling you about my book the way I'd tell my mother or a friend or something. It's really sad how my mouth says stupid things when I meet new people, and yet I'm really great on job interviews.
I don't think I'd do a pitch session...ever. I'm not completely ruling it out. I'd rather just do the old fashioned query and establish a connection with an agent and let my work speak for itself.
If you've ever had a conversation with me, you know that I tend to go off on tangents and I can talk about three different things in the span of less than fifteen seconds--and that's not including when I get worked up about something.
Not to mention, I Google'd a few writer's conferences with pitch sessions and the prices to attend a conference are...for me at least...staggering. I don't have a few hundred or thousand dollars just lying around. Hell, if I'm blogging from work and writing a book...in an actual book--that should tell you something right there. *lol* (Okay, it's a notebook...but still a 'book'...technically. Okay, well, maybe a note pad--same difference!)
I keep scrolling down to my blog post from yesterday to look at Michael Ealy. He makes my pen quiver. (If that sounded dirty...I really didn't mean it to. :( )
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:21 AM
Monday, April 27, 2009
I’m finally back at work after almost two weeks being gone due to the—yes, you guessed it—Ebil Headaches.
So I was on my lunch break and reading some of the blogs that I stal—er…follow and I realized they had one thing in common—it was clear of the genre that they wrote for. And I haven’t made myself clear in that aspect whatsoever. I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people asking what genre do I like, and what sort am I currently writing. I probably mentioned it before somewhere, but I’ve decided to state it again—Literary Fiction.
I think it is possibly one of the more difficult genre’s to write for because it can appear extremely vague. And there is this assumption that just because literary fiction is more focused on ‘character’ than ‘plot’ that there absolutely is no plot—and it ends up being some pontifical piece that leads into nothing at all. Unfortunately, that’s what ends up happening with a lot of new writers attempting to write literary fiction.
When I think of Literary Fiction, I think of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (which I first read in high school and I loved it), Of Mice and Men and one of my more recent favorites: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston. Admittedly, I saw the movie before reading the novel. But to my credit, I had never even HEARD of the novel before seeing the movie. And since then, I can’t count how many times I read it. And remember that video for that song called Halo? Well that seriously gorgeous man in the video, Michael Ealy, played Tea Cake in the film adaptation of the book.
This is one of those rare instances where I didn’t regret at all watching the movie because I think it did the book justice. Some may disagree, but that’s the way I feel. The setting was absolutely perfect, from the setting and imagery to the characters and the story itself. When I first watched the film, I fell in love with it—even moreso when I read the book. Another really beautiful and harsh book was The Color Purple. While the movie is just awesome and every black person and their mama has seen it, they are doing themselves a huge disservice by not reading the book. Granted, the book is long, but it was seriously worth it.
When I think of the way I’m trying to model my book, I think of The Color Purple, Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Those are the things that I like to read and I really couldn’t imagine writing anything other than literary fiction.
Beloved written by Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison is a perfect example of where my head is at right now. I mentioned in a blog written a few days ago, that my head was in a strange, dark place. Beloved is literary fiction, but there’s just enough disturbing and spooky stuff in there to keep you on edge. Coupled with the fact that it is probably, hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read—that book is just gold. I would love to meet Toni Morrison. I absolutely idolize that woman. If you’re unsure about reading the book, watch the movie—it’s amazing and horrifying and touching and…wow…not enough adjectives to describe it.
In a nutshell, that is what I write. That is what I love. I mentioned before that writing literary fiction is easier for me than it is for some. Personally, thinking out a long and thought out plot isn’t something I’ve ever been particularly good out. But if I can write a good plot with amazing characters—then I’m really happy. If I prove to be even a fraction as good as these writers—I’m happy and I’ll keep shooting to be just as good as—because honestly, I don’t think it gets better than Toni Morrison or Alice Walker.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 12:15 PM
When I was in the second grade, I got beat up by the entire class because my teacher hated me.
It wasn't some imagined thing, my teacher actually hated me. That is one of two incidents that I remember because most people I meet like me...alot.
I'll never forget that day as long as I live. Before my mother remarried or even met my future stepfather, we lived in a small three bedroom house in North Trenton, a few miles down from Helene Fuld Hospital and Brunswick village where my grandmother lived--or used to live at the time.
I was the new kid (my sister and I, though she was in Kindergarten at the time) at Jefferson Elementary School (which has now been closed down for a few years).
I'll never forget my teacher, this horrible man named Mr. Fernandez (real name witheld). I don't know why he didn't like me, but he didn't. I was in a class filled with mostly ill-behaved little black kids and the last thing he wanted was another one--ill-behaved or not. (I most definitely was not)
He made me feel stupid and afraid of him on a daily basis. I remember my second week in school he was writing a word on the chalkboard: gnat. He was saying how certain letters are silent in certain words and he kept telling us to repeat it "nat! nat! nat!" and I'm repeating it along with the rest of the class. And suddenly out of the blue he points to me and goes 'what's that word Alicia?"
And me, at the time being naturally shy AND not to mention new, became very nervous and made the fatal error of saying "ga-nat."
The whole class started laughing and he stared at me with a mixture of disgust and something else I can't quite name. Maybe seething disappointment. I don't know.
Ever since that moment, I went out of my way to stay under his radar, but he would always find a way to pick on me...my own teacher...and the kids didn't make things any better. I remember being made to stand in the corner because I dropped some ice cream accidentally on the floor when we had this class party for whatever reason.
One day, out of anger, in these little notebooks we were given to write out daily sentences in--I wrote "I hate Mr. Fernandez" and he happened to walk by as I was writing it and whispered, "I hate you too."
Again, this is too random for me to make up. But the end all came the day when my class was being particularly bad. People kept talking out of turn, the whole class was obnoxious and rowdy for some in explicable reason. And Mr. Fernandez had had enough and said "Put your heads down, and if one of you so much as make a peep, the whole class has to stay after for fifteen minutes."
Unfortunately for me, I had come to school that day with a cold.
Right after he said that, I sneezed and he said "Thanks to Alicia, you all have 15 minute detention."
I hadn't even said a single word to anyone that entire day ( I never did. Those kids were evil...really). So we stay after, and then we can finally leave so I'm walking across the playground feeling miserable and my spirit a little broken. I was eight years old and I thought my life was just miserable. So I'm walking and the next thing I know, I'm suddenly being pushed to the ground and slapped and pushed and kicked by my entire class. I don't remember seeing faces or who exactly did it. I just wanted it to stop and I curled into a ball. The teacher finally came out and hauled me to my feet and ushered me back to the class, imploring me to tell him who did it--as if he actually cared.
I never told from fear of getting beat up again. It was the one and only time something like that had ever happened. And I don't think I've ever told my mother. She just wanted to know why I took so long to get to the card and I just said 'we had detention' and left it at that.
It's weird remembering that. Some of those old feelings come back. But even at that early age, I used to invent stories in my head because existing in the 'real world' had been extremely hard for me to do. My confidence in myself from that point on had never really recovered (not until about two years ago actually), but I used the same coping mechanism, which was writing.
I don't know where Mr. Fernandez is now, or what he's doing, but after twenty years, I hope he's miserable and I hope that one day he realizes how miserable he made me. He's one of the few people in my life that enjoyed kicking me when I was down--and after this moment, I won't ever think about him again.
I don't know what prompted me to write this. But just writing this does something amazing for me. Because one day it is going to happen. I am going to be published and all that stuff won't matter anymore.
Being afraid to shine just because you're afraid of people noticing you, or people being offended by you is just....silly. It's silly, silly, silly, SILLY! Letting that effect you for nearly 20 years is even worse.
But my mother told me fairly recently, "Alicia, if someone doesn't like you--as a person, something must be seriously wrong with them."
And I was thinking, 'Oh, that's such a 'mom' thing to say'. Turns out, it was true. But the truth of the matter is, I don't really care if someone doesn't like me--not the way I used to care. I like me. My kid adores me...and I'm happy.
I get to write everyday. I get a chance to actually work towards a dream that will benefit not only me, but the people around me.
I get the chance to be the person I was too afraid to be for a long time--and you know what?
I think that's pretty freakin' awesome.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 8:47 AM
Friday, April 24, 2009
So if you haven't already figured it out, I have this other blog called 'Bowl Of Oranges'. Though I wouldn't really classify it as a blog. It's just a place where I dump random writings and things unfinished into. I'd be a liar if I said this was my best stuff. It isn't. It's basically a place where I can just write randomly, and it doesn't have to make sense because they're all these extra things and ideas that crowd my mind sometimes. And in order for me to be focused, sometimes I'll just 'dump' things there.
It's strange. I'll lay down at night (or early early in the morning, depending on what time I manage to get the kiddo to sleep and I'll have the weirdest, most insane ideas for a little story. Most of them are pretty creepy actually, and I never put them on paper. I just figure that these ideas come about when my brain is in that weird place of being half asleep and half awake. I just know that I've had this weird propensity of late, to write disturbing things. Well maybe not all that disturbing. I'm not writing about blood and guts and bogeymen and banshees or anything. Just...there's this little dark corner of my mind that's slowly opening up. I'm not sure whether to close it and lock it and forget about it, or let it seep into my writing.
I'm curious, so it'll probably be the latter.
Not much else to report. The kiddo is doing fine after her little accident, the headaches are there..but not nearly as bad (though by the time I get settled in this evening, I'll be holding my head in one hand, and my pen in the other pissed off that I missed another night of writing.)
We'll see I guess.
(P.S. Bowl of Oranges was based off of this weird little story I wrote once if you're curious. If not--then that was just some pointless information you're stuck with)
Posted by Alicia Evans at 10:03 AM
Monday, April 20, 2009
This is hard to write. Even though the incident is a few days old...I get sick to my stomach recalling this.
My daughter Israel (or Izzy as everyone calls her) is 17 months old. She's a very happy, bright and mischievious little girl. She loves her stuffed monkey Saint George, she loves throwing things into the tub and she occasionally likes to snack on toilet paper.
I love her with an intensity that I didn't think humanly possible. I have always been a free spirit as so many people remember me. I was the sort of girl to take the next train out of town to chase love half way across the country, and once, to another continent. I didn't think twice about leaving in the middle of the night with a note and maybe a stray sock left in my wake.
Everything I ever looked for, I found in this beautiful little girl who loves me...and choses me before anything else. When she's hurt--she wants mommy. When she's happy--she wants mommy. The first thing she wants to see when she wakes up is mommy. And the last thing she wants to see when she goes to sleep is...you guessed it...mommy.
Saturday was a warm, beautiful day. I felt like dressing her in all pink and take her outside to enjoy the weather. We walked downtown with her kicking her feet happily in her stroller. We passed a few people that knew her and she got a free bag of potato chips from a friend (she's always getting free stuff from sheer cuteness alone). She's eating her chips happily and we arrive at this church that serves lunch and has little things for the children the last two Saturdays of every mont.
So we get there and it's not yet open and a few people are hanging around back. I take Izzy out of her stroller and she's running around greeting everyone with either "Hi!" or "Baby?".
It happened in a split second.
Her uncle picked her up and began tossing her in the air and she's just cracking up. But something didn't feel right so I said "You know Gotti (his nickname) that's enough. I don't want you to drop her."
"Oh stop worrying so much...I'm not going to drop her."
He dropped her.
She landed on her forehead, smacking against the concrete. My 1 year old little baby girl.
I screamed. The crowd gasped and everyone rushed to her. I scooped her up but I don't remember moving. I don't remember walking. I don't remember anything but my baby screaming.
I don't know how I'm calm. I don't know how I'm breathing. I don't know how I'm able to rock her and kiss her and tell her it's okay...but I do. She screamed "Mommy! Mommy."
I'm crying as I write this. I'm crying even though she is PERFECTLY fine and all she had from it was a nice sized little lump and a few scratches.
We call 9-1-1 and she's still screaming...but mostly because they won't let me hold her. They have to strap her in and check her. She was afraid, in pain and angry. She slapped the EMS dude, yanked supplies from the shelf. She screamed so hard that she nearly drowned out the sirens.
Gotti, meanwhile is on the steps crying like a baby (so I was told). Before I left, he begged me to let him hold her. I wanted to kill him. I knew it was an accident but I wanted to kill him. But I was calm and just walked away cradling my daughter.
In the end...she was fine. We weren't there at the ER for more than an hour. She slept. Woke up as the doctor examined her...we read a book...she started laughing and walking through the halls. She was fine. By the time we got back to her grandmother's house, save for the lump on her head, you couldn't tell anything was wrong with her. She was still throwing things into the toilet, knocking things over, yelling at people and being a general nuisance.
I don't say it was a mother's WORST nightmare--because she's alive. She's happy and vibrant. She's still eating paper and running around. I still have my little girl.
But it was a nightmare--and as much as I'd like to get that image from my head...I can't. I've had numerous nightmares about it then...and despite my own headaches, I would have sold my soul to make her stop hurting.
When the doctor came in to see her, she said,
"Yeah. She's my life."
"I can tell that you love her alot."
I was silent, just watching her look at the pages on a childrens book.
"You're a good mother."
God...I didn't feel like it then and I said, "I definitely had a bad mom moment."
"Hardly. Kids get bruised and hurt all the time. I've seen women with children worse off than yours that showed little to no emotion. Maybe when she's older you'd think about teaching at some parenting classes. You could speak from the heart you know?"
And that made me feel really good.
This doesn't really tie into writing, only to say that I know without a shadow of a doubt, if it wasn't for Israel, if it wasn't for the need to give her a better life...I'd just keep writing and keepmy stuff in a drawer somewhere. It wouldn't matter if anyone read it. But I do this for her, to inspire her the way that she inspires me. I do this with the intense hope that she'll look at me one day and say "You're a good mom."
Thanks for reading this guys. Really.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:08 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009
Before you folks start to get worried, no this isn't some emo-angst post. I'm talking about pain...literal pain.
So, for the past few weeks, I've been suffering (and trust me, that's not a word I'd use lightly) from intensely violent headaches. I went to the ER last night because I was tired of not being able to sleep and ultimately, not being able to write.
I had a CT scan done yesterday, but they didn't find anything. It wasn't even classified as migraines or cluster headaches. Truth is, they don't know what it is. But they ended up giving me some Percoset and I got the first 8 hour sleep I've had since sometime in late February. Right now, I'm still kind of...high from the Percs, but the sad and funny thing is, is that it didn't kill the pain completely. It just dulled it enough so I could actually sleep.
All that being said, my writing as of late has been extremely minimal. I was lucky if I could write a few paragraphs. And it's not like the ideas aren't there sitting in my head. But I'll sit there and write and I'm so focused on the pain that I find myself writing utter tripe. I threw a few pages away yesterday (and yes, I mean THREW. I still write with pen and paper since I don't have a home computer) and I'm sitting on the edge of my bed thinking about the characters and realizing that I'm trying to write through the pain and it's coming out horrible.
I folded the book away and just sat there, meanwhile, there's this hot, pulsating pain in my right temple that's shooting from my neck, to my chest to my freaking teeth! I'm talking outloud to myself saying what this or that scene won't work...why it felt stilted...and I'm trying to think through this haze of excrutiating pain--and I just couldn't do it.
One night, I actually broke down and sobbed and my boyfriend (who I happen to be thoroughly pissed off with right now) came into the bedroom and massaged my temples and the pain subsided for maybe 40 minutes--just long enough for nature to play its cruel trick of having me believe I was going to actually sleep, only to be waken up by the sensation of someone beating you mercilessly in the head.
Well, it's not. I have a seriously high threshold for pain. It comes with growing up being told to 'suck it up' and 'it's not that bad'. Believe me, when you have an obnoxious little sister that pushes you down the steps while you're on crutches (oh yeah Tameka, I remember that. Oh yes I do. lol) you can pretty much take anything. But I went and I feel substantially better, though there is pain beginning to creep back. And I figure I need to start writing while the gettin's good right?
I have learned NOT to write through the pain--because for me it comes out disturbingly bad (at least to my standards). I just want to get this manuscript finished so I can find something else to obsess over (like getting an agent and starting another novel)
I haven't added anything new on Bowl Of Oranges (http://fallintothepages.blogspot.com) yet, but I'll have something possibly by tomorrow. Maybe I'll even take the time to explain why I titled it Bowl of Oranges.
I'm sure I'll be adding more before the day is out. As always, thanks for reading.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:00 AM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Alright, I did all 50 queries for Agent For A Day--and now my brain feels like it's going to melt out of my ears.
It just proved my point that I don't think I'd ever become an agent. I'll stick to the writing thank you very much. I had alot of respect for them...I do even moreso now.
Peace and Hair Grease.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:46 AM
Considering the migraine that I've been having for the past few days, I was suprised that I actually got through about twenty of the fifty queries sent in.
Am I an agent? Hell to the no. But I am participating in the Agent for A Day hosted by http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/ . So far it's been really interesting and I can see how being an agent can be seriously frusterating. My eyes already are starting to hurt.
Quite a few people are playing at being an agent for the day, and I have to say, I'm kind of suprised how rude some of the replies are...and how vague.
If something was off to me about the query, or I didn't get what they were trying to sell, then I'd tell them and explain why I felt that way.
Most of the queries so far weren't really that bad though.
I finished 'On Writing' and I was seriously pleased with it. But my headache kept me from being able to read it in one sitting like I intended on doing initially. I've written like...maybe a page this weekend. I've been in too much pain to do much else than that. So I'm going to take my ass to the ER and see if they can give me something. I don't think I've slept more than six hours in about four days.
This blog is thoroughly uninteresting today...I know. Maybe I'll come up with something snazzy to say tomorrow. Right now, I'm too tired to be bothered.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 9:03 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I'm going to be gone until Monday. Weekend is filled with brightly colored eggs, Easter plays and egg hunts--and of course reading and writing until my brain hurts.
I expect something brilliant to happen this weekend. I'm not sure what--but something.
Happy Easter Everyone.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 1:20 PM
Sleep was elusive. My brain was working double time and I couldn't get comfortable last night even though my body was tired.
The baby decided she didn't want to go to bed until about 1am, Eric was doing his best to drive me crazy--and it seemed all of this happened because the universe knew I was dying to devour On Writing by Stephen King.
Despite the numerous interruptions of cooking dinner, changing poopy diapers, keeping a baby from eating her barrettes, trying not to ignore my boyfriend while he was talking to me, I managed to gobble up 129 glorious pages. I wanted to stay up all night and finish the book, but I knew I had to get up early to get the baby to her nana's and myself off to work.
My headache came back the way it always does when the Excedrin wears off (Eric keeps telling me that I need to go to the doctor's, but he knows I won't. It took me being unable to swallow and having a fever of 102º to finally go to the ER when I had strep a week and a half ago).
I'm laying back in bed, trying to find a comfortable position while Mr. King's words are rolling through my head. I'm having epiphany after epiphany, I'm playing his words over and over in my head, I'm mentally revising whole scenes and my head hurts so bad from these migraines that I don't get to sleep until around three.
But I'm thrilled, I'm happy, I'm excited. I kept saying out loud, "I'm so in love with this man right now."--meaning Mr. King of course. And I am...in the fickle way that I fall in love with things that amaze and inspire me. I'm always falling in love with someone or something. I've since stopped trying to reign that thing in. That's the whole reason why I'm even a writer. I need to fall in love with an idea to the point where I have to get it out of me--or it'll fester and it'll make me unhappy because I'm not doing anything with this love.
I finished the whole section about his growing up and meeting Tabitha and falling in love with her. Hell, how can you not fall in love with a person who laughs loudly and freely, wears skirts that are too short and writes amazing poems like 'A Gradual Canticle for Augustine'. I really want to sit down and hang out with her and tell vulgar jokes.
So anyhow, I'm laying there in my messy bed, toys strewn all over the floor, clothes falling out of the tiny closet--and for once I'm not feeling guilty that my apartment is a mess (I'm giving it a good cleaning on Friday). I'm blissfully unaware of everything but words and meaning.
And I get this idea 'see how a child sees'. I was thinking about adjectives and adverbs and description and not being caught up with trying to 'sound' like a writer. So I think, when Israel looks at this pen, what does she see? If she could talk, how would she describe it?
How would she describe an old car rumbling down the street?
If Izzy could tell me, she'd say;
"Box on wheels making loud sounds that scare me. It smells funny and the color isn't bright. I'm looking at it because it's loud."
And that's what she does. Loud things always get her attention and she'll follow it with her eyes, committing it to memory. She remembers that the bus is loud and big and makes a 'shhhhh' sound when the door opens and so every big vehicle she sees, she calls 'buh'. She'll point to a car and go 'buh?'
I sit on the floor with her, playing with the things that fascinate her like aluminum foil or Vaseline or an empty cell phone box and I try to picture how she pictures it. It's incredibly dorky sounding, but it's fun.
God, this blog is a rambling mess and I am totally aware of it. But man, I don't care how I sound right now. I don't care if I don't sound professional or if my sentences are running on. I'll worry about that when I'm writing the 'Thing'...I probably won't even worry about then. I'm just so incredibly, stupidly HAPPY. I'm happy because I found this book. I'm happy because there is a method to my madness because King says so. I'm happy that I actually found advice that seems to have been written specifically for me.
I guess everyone says shit like that. Well I'm saying shit like that. I am perfectly content in my own delusion that King knew that I was going to be born and that he had written this specifically for Alicia Marie Evans to find 12 years after he wrote it and 9 years after it was published. He did! Honest.
sweet, I spelled 'eclectic' right.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 8:18 AM
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I got it! I got it!
What do I have you may be asking?
On Writing by Stephen King. And you don't want to know the awful things I had to do to get it. Okay, maybe you do want to know, but my mom reads this, so I'm not saying.
I am so excited!
Posted by Alicia Evans at 12:25 PM
I don’t have much to blog about today. I’ve been twittering and doing the face book thing all morning. I’m slightly annoyed that I left my disk at home—so now I’m writing on the yellow notepad I ‘borrowed’ from work. Nothing wrong with going back to the basics though. Oh, and I found a quote by Mr. King concerning outlines that totally makes me feel good about refusing to do them—I can’t find it, but when I do…I’m going to post it here.
Outlines may work for some people, but that’s entirely too structured to be helpful for a person like me.
Oh, so I passed on ‘Bayou’ to my mother and sister who are avid readers like I am, and they read it and absolutely loved it (if it sucked, they’d tell me in very colorful ways—ESPECIALLY my sister. She’s sadistic). My mom passed it on to some lady at work who wants to read more. So yeah, my fan base consists of about three people…but it made my day. It also furthered my resolve into making ‘Bayou’ into a book length piece of work. I knew there was more to that story that needed to be told. So far, the people I’ve pitched the story to has loved it.
I’m going to get that book today too…Stephen King’s On Writing. A few fellow writing bloggers gave it great reviews, so I’m going to go pick it up today.
That’s it, nothing left to see here folks.
I'm going to go back to stalking people on Facebook and Twitter...mostly agents. But it's not really stalking--I'm just following you while you aren't aware.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 9:12 AM
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
There's is this book called Lisey's Story by Stephen King--and this book is possibly one of the best books I've read in a long time. It was so unexpected and...random and amazing and I got it. Although I always knew that it was my destiny to become a writer, when I read that book about a year ago--writing had suddenly meant so much to me.
If you're a fan of Stephen King and you've read Lisey's Story, you'll see that he made some connections to his other previous works; for example: The Shining, Dreamcatcher, Bag of Bones, Needful Things, among a few more--and that alone, I thought was pretty brilliant.
The novel is full of these references from songs, books and poems that ended up having meaning to one of the central characters (who happens to be dead, the story is told by his widow, Lisey) and it makes the story magnificent.
However, this blog entry isn't to speak about the book--I'll probably go into detail about it some other day.
The reason why I brought up this particular piece of work is because it is the entire reason I began writing again.
I'm trying to think about how to describe what I mean, and it's difficult because I have so many different thoughts going on in my head about this.
There is this song called Halo sung by Beyonce (and I'm not a huge pop fan) and while I'm not her biggest fan, I heard this song--and immediately I thought of the book I'm finishing. Now, initially, when I started this book, it was going to be an entry for a short story contest. But as I'm continuing to chop this story up to make it meet the 4000 max word requirment, I realized that I couldn't do it--that there was too much of this story left to be told--too many aspects of life that needed to be discovered.
It's strange, because not that long ago, I was bitching on this blog about writing an outline for another project, and the outline killed that desire completely. When I began writing this story, it flowed so naturally and beautifully and I realized--THIS is the story that I want to write. So I see this video, and hear this song--and I play it continually in my head while I'm writing because the story is about finding light and hope...it's about conquering the dark and all of those things--things I have a very personal stake in. Hell, I'm still fighting...it's an everyday battle not to give into those shadows that can crowd your mind and pull you in.
The whole fucked up thing about...everything...is that I've been writing all my life--and I know that I'm good...but it's those dark things, that Slithering Thing in my head that has had me fooled for 15 or so years, telling me that I can't do this because I'm not good enough. And I've listened to it.
I've sat on my bed with papers and pens and pencils and all of those things surrounding me, wondering why the fuck I couldn't get a thing onto paper. Why the hell is this story (before I knew what it was) not coming even though I knew it was there.
I would be actually reduced to tears--throwing my stuff across the room (when I was alone of course) thinking about how unfair it all was.
The frusteration still comes...but I think I've found that hole and I lept into it knowing that I may never come out of it. And that's what I've always wanted. I go through my days and it's like, everything is built of words and metaphors. People become characters and I dream in words. It's a struggle not to give up...not to give into the Slithering Thing that's sole purpose is to make sure I have a mediocre, unimportant existance and have absolutely no impact on anyone's life.
It's been my dream...my desire, my foolish hope that I would write the next great American novel.
How far from it am I--I don't know. Maybe a few weeks...maybe a few months...maybe a year. But I fell...and beyond that--not much else matters.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I love walking into an air conditioned library in the middle of summer, standing in it’s dim aisles, getting lost in all the stories surrounding me. I love that musty, dry smell of a book when you open it for the first time. I love how when a book is so good and it’s been read so many times that it’s falling apart and being held together by nothing more than some tape and a prayer.
When I was a kid, I grew up in a big family. There was myself being the oldest, my younger sister and my little brother and of course my mom and my step father. It was hard to get any privacy or a moment’s peace and I could never seem to just read in peace—and I would go into the bathroom and stay there for at least two hours, sitting on the floor reading.
I’d read when I was supposed to be having choir practice when I was in church, I’d read DURING church.
I loved books. I gobbled them up the way my mother and my grandmother did. My mother used to tell me that when she was pregnant with me, all she did was read and eat ice cream (I was a summer baby). And when I was pregnant with my daughter Israel all I did was read and eat ricotta cheese (it’s gross now when I think of it, but I couldn’t get enough of it when I was knocked up.)
It was inevitable that reading would become a huge part of my existence. My grandfather was a bit of a scholar, though he loved his political pursuits more than anything else. When I went to visit him at his house on the lake, he always had tons and tons and tons of books, and always encouraged reading. Me, my mom and my sister and my mother’s best friend Alice would swap books all the time. We were our own reading club.
And for the life of me, I can’t imagine going digital when it comes to book. I cannot imagine not feeling the paper between my fingers, or dragging my index finger over the text when I am particularly fascinated by something written in that book. I can’t imagine not having books lining my living room table, or my dresser at home. I can’t imagine not living in world where bookstores and libraries no longer exist.
Is Amazon Kindle and iPhone book application the beginning of the end? Will people come to prefer convenience over authenticity? I can’t imagine picking up a nifty little gadget passing itself off as a book and reading it with the same gusto I would with holding Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens paperback novel in my hand. It can’t be the same. Do I daresay that the book probably wouldn’t be as good? I don’t know.
I was reading the ‘BOOKS’ section of People Magazine, and the author Kim Hubbard said that Kindle’s charm sneaks up on you. But it’s an addition to books, not so much a replacement.
I don’t know. In this technologically savvy world we live in, for me, there is a definite fear that we could be entering a new trend of reading. To me, for me, it would be sacrilegious to even be seen holding a Kindle or reading a book from my iPhone (not that I could ever afford that phone). Unlike Miss Hubbard, I’ll gladly take the ‘pain’ of lugging books with me or carrying a newspaper under my arm—to me that’s a part of the ‘old charm’ of plain, falling-apart, good old-fashioned, non-trendy, books!
Posted by Alicia Evans at 8:01 AM
Saturday, April 4, 2009
"One time I read a quote by Chuck Berry. And he was basically laughing that he'd made so much money selling the music he'd written, that it just came to him so easy...Now to me, Chuck Berry invented rock and roll. And I cannot picture putting together words and chords in the way he did for the first time ever.And yet to him it was so easy he just laughed that people were gullible enough to pay him.You have something of that kind of talent in your writing, and in your telling to me of this story, I can feel the old you....."
I have no words. But when I feel as if I can't do this--that I'm not good enough...that my work isn't good enough--there's always him telling me to 'Go Alicia...go.'
I get frustrated too often. I forget that I am a good writer. I forget that I DO have a story to tell worth reading. I forget that this is what I was born to do.
I recall conversations where he compared me to some of the greatest literary talents in the world and then told me I was better than them. Better? Me? And I think...gosh...I'm really no one. And maybe his word wouldn't carry so much weight if he didn't happen to be one of the most brilliant, clear-thinking individuals I have ever known. (The second person is Crystal--she's amazing and resilient and thinks the world of me...and coming from a person like that, it means ALOT.)
I got that in my email today and I read it 1000 times at least. I want to thank him for that. I needed that.
I needed to remember because I tend to forget way too much these days.
Thank you M. Thank you...
Posted by Alicia Evans at 3:29 PM
It started raining yesterday evening when I picked my daughter up from her grandmother's house. We stood across the street at the bus stop in front of this building that used to be the Bank of America. There's a roof and we stood under it when it started to drizzle.
So we're standing there and all of a sudden, the rain starts coming down really hard, and there's a woman and two little boys across the street playing in it. Izzy was absolutely fascinated and I kept letting her feel the rain with her hands.
It was late in the evening, so the city was pretty much deserted by that time of day. The rain had only lasted about ten minutes and then the sun had come out. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The sky was this electric blue color, and with the position of the sun, it cast this weird, almost surreal luminescence over the city. Everything looked bright and dark at the same time. The streets were shiny and the traffic lights and lights from the neon signs over the stores looked even brighter as if God had Adobe Photoshop and hit the Brightness/Contrast button and turned contrast all the way up. The sun was setting, the wind was blowing and it was just quiet and perfect.
I had never seen downtown Trenton look so beautiful in my entire life. I was wishing that I had a camera to have taken a picture because I cannot do it justice with just words.
That's all I really have for now. Don't forget to check out Bowl of Oranges for the short story or writing of the day. -------------->
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:11 AM
Friday, April 3, 2009
I love Fail Blog, I really, truly do! I make it an almost daily thing to stop by and read that site and some of it's juvenile, yet hilarious pictures.
So you can imagine that when I saw the whole shenanigans regarding #agentfail and #queryfail, I just knew it was going to be classic minus the whole funny picture thing.
But it wasn't funny and I'm sure it COULD have been if we put in a little effort.
Seriously though, if you're not privy to what went on, you can find it out here because I'm really not about to go through all of that--and I'm sure that this could explain it better than I can.
and here http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23queryfail
So assuming that you've read that and now have a general idea about what all of that entails, here's my take on it--and I'm not going to hide behind the anonymity of the internet.
I think this goes both ways.
I think writers in general would be alot less worked up over things like this if some of them actually took the time to:
1. Research the agent you're interested in
2.Have clear understanding of his/her guidelines and procedures about submitting a query
3.KNOW the audience and the book genre he/she is looking for and what you yourself has written.
I think people tend to go a little half-cocked with this whole query thing. You're so excited to have your manuscript completed FINALLY that you just want to get it sent out to everyone as quickly as possible. I think you need to take pride in your work and yourself and take the extra time to be a little professional.
I'm speaking from personal experience. I sent a query to an agent who I am just hell bent on getting to represent me. He rejected my first query because I don't think I went about it the right way, and really...the thing just plain sucked and thinking back on it now, I can laugh about it. And while the rejection was disappointing, his quick reply and kind words made it a bit easier to swallow.
That being said, I don't think that being agent gives a person free reign to be rude to people either. I have a very slim few people that I plan on giving my manuscript to. I've narrowed it down to about four or five. With the whole "no response means rejection" thing--I think it's unprofessional and extremely narcissistic. It comes off as "look at me, I am so FREAKING AWESOME and all these so NOT-AWESOME people are querying me with their even LESS AWESOME queries. I am a god among ants and I shall not respond!" *commence the smiting*
I really...hate that. I understand that a person gets HUNDRED of submissions and they get backed up with trying to read all of them--and while I sympathize and understand--that is an agent's job. So I'm going to assume that an agent entered that profession knowing full well of what it was going to entail.
I really don't even need a personalized note--just a simple, 'No, not what we're looking for, but thank you' would suffice. I'm not an overly sensative person (*cough*)...okay..I'm not an overly sensative person when it comes to my writing. I enjoy the critique because it's a challenge to me--a challenge for me to come even better than I did before. I know that I'm a good writer, and I know I am going to write a really great book...
but in the process of all of this, I'd like to be treated with the same courtesy and respect that I extend to a potential agent. I'm a grown woman, I'm a mother and I'm a person who really goes out of her way to be kind to people. It really gets my goat when people are just rude and mean and nasty for no reason.
That's just...people in general. I don't see agents as some sort of demi god. I see them as people who could benefit me greatly and I them.
Someone said on another blog about this, that it's like finding love. You can have all the criteria of what you're looking for, but once it happens...it happens. It's "booknerdlove" at first sight.
My dream agent would be a person like a man I know named Michael. He absolutely loves my writing and he has always saw it for what it was supposed to be--and I would love to have agent see that...and GET IT. I would love for them to read my manuscript and be wowed and fascinated and eager to call me--because let me tell you--that'd be almost up there with giving birth to my daughter and seeing this little person that's been growing inside of me for 10 months (she was late).
It'd be up there with locking eyes with that person--and knowing that you'd be with them for the rest of your life.
Writing is...beauty in words. It is an artform that not everyone can perfect. I'm not sure that it can be perfected. I have such a profound love for writing and it's something that I would hope would come through.
That whole queryfail thing was hurtful to those affected by it. I could see how it would be a slap in the face for someone. Integrity can go a long way.
I just say dot your i's and cross your t's--make sure YOURS isn't a queryfail--and even if it is, you can always start over.
That's the beautiful thing about being a writer--if you don't like the story--just change it.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 9:34 AM
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I really don't have much of anything to say today.
I spent most of the morning adding old writings to a new blog which you can check out 'Bowl of Oranges'. Entirely too lazy to do the whole link thing, but it's over on the right side of the blog, so pretty hard to miss it actually.
I'll be updating whenever I have something relevant that I want to write about. Today, there isn't mch. Not feeling very inspired at all. I keep thinking of all the things I need to do and what I haven't already done.
I know I'll be having more work up there...eventually. Sooner than later actually--
So really, I'm going to stop talking now. I'm tired and I want to eat something--or someone.
I'm game for either or really.
Posted by Alicia Evans at 11:42 AM