So It Appears That I’m Living the Dream

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A last hurrah in Binghamton, April 19, 2007

Binghamton, 2006.  I’m 23, living in a fire-trap basement apartment in the ghetto.  I’m that kind of art-poverty broke where I live on black coffee and scrambled eggs and dinner is paid on for on a rotating basis between whichever one of us got paid that week.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my life except that I know I want to write and listen to records.  Out of college just over a year, I’m kicking myself for not having spent more time in music classes because I’ve got a subscription to Spin and being a music journalist would have been a kick-ass career.

I started a blog, Kill Your Ipod and reviewed shitty CDs from indie bands that I solicited over email.  No one read it except a couple of stalkers.  I wasn’t even sure how to write about music.  I lacked the technical language; all I had was this intense passion, this gut feeling whenever I listened to Tom Waits or Warren Zevon or the patchwork of mix CDs that stood in for conversation with boys I liked.  I hung around the record store and worked at FYE like a model waiting tables, hoping the right person might notice me and ask me to move back to NYC to write for some new music magazine.

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I Got To Write For Yacht Rock!

LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE FACE!

LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE FACE!

I’ve been a disciple of the webseries Yacht Rock for years (thanks to Matthew, of course).  It helped re-awaken my love for smooth music, plus it’s funny as hell and I think that JD Ryznar is super-cute.  (I think my love of midwestern guys as firmly been established on this blog).

So naturally, when the guys of Yacht Rock got on Twitter to promote the new Beyond Yacht Rock podcast, I stalked them until one fateful day when JD messaged me to tell me that he enjoyed my Record Saturday pick.  I seriously fangirled, everybody.  Like, embarrassingly so.  We got chatting more, and I sent him a copy of The Big Rewind.  And when they started The Captain’s Blog, I offered to write for them.  He accepted my pitch, and the essay, titled “I F**king Love Steely Dan & You Should Too” was published earlier this week.

It was, to put it mildly, a hit.  It’s also the most honest thing I’ve ever written, coming straight from the gut.  I really do love Steely Dan that much.

The essay is here.  It contains extremely vulgar language and threats of violence, so if you’re my Dad, please don’t read it.  You’ve been warned.  They are always seeking content, so send them a pitch!

I’ve also got a piece on The Smiths, Meat Is Murder at the RS-500, an amazing blog that’s compiling stories inspired by every single album on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list.  It’s been a great week for my music journalism career!

Tear Down To The Bones

scissors_PNG1When I was a teenager, I LOVED buying thrift-store clothes and altering them.  (Like everything I did, I did this before it was cool.  What can I say? I’m a trend-setter).  I was a teen in the age on JNCOs and pointy-toe stiletto boots, and a goth girl, to boot.  I had to make due with what I had, but as a result, I had some amazingly cool clothes.

And although my days of wearing cigarette-cut pants trimmed with neon purple boas are over, the ability to tear something down and salvage the good pieces again is really coming in handy on my Work in Progress.

I’ve written almost two full first drafts of a new novel, and both of them are going to be scrapped.  The first draft was like a pair of fancy cut-offs: Cut out the pieces with the holes worn through, but embellish what’s left.  The second draft, it seems, is going to be more like an old concert shirt, stretched and faded beyond use.  Cut out the best part and see if there’s something else you can sew it onto–a tank top, a tote bag, a throw pillow.  Make something useful out of scraps.

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New Notebook: Arche/SuperCola

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Time for a new notebook!

I can’t believe how fast I went through Lucca.  This new WIP (working title: The Lords of Yesterday) has me scrawling scenes even more than I did in the early days of The Big Rewind.  It’s a much different book for me, so I’m letting myself play with POV and scene variation, as well as a TON of beautiful collage work.  I’ve really gone kinda crazy, and I regret nothing.

Lucca was experimental in paper usage and texture.  The map pages were pretty, but writing on them proved useless, so they ended up being collage pages.  The parchment was a nice surface and added color, but tended to smudge with the big fat gooey ink pen I use because my hands are basically claws now.  I don’t think I’d do the origami paper on the spine again.  It looked pretty, but took up valuable page space.

My original intent was to make a double-sided journal, like an old pulp novel–on one side, Crime Writing, flip it over, General Work.  But I’ve still got about half of Mona left, so the pages would end up being wasted.  I needed a new notebook, and I needed one fast, so I put what I had on hand to good use.

Arche/SuperCola is very basic in design, but represents the finest of all my techniques combined — multiple paper types, end pages, French stitch and metal accouterments.  I had bought the hinges for another project, but they proved to be merely decorative and basically non-functioning.

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Pen in Hand

I carried two bags to school every day.  One was my backpack, which was adorned with keychains and patches because it was 2000 and that’s what we did back then, and the other was this awesome white leather messenger bag, the coolness factor of which can never be replicated.

In this messenger bag was everything I needed to write my novel–notebooks, printed pages, pens.  I wrote in math class, during study hall, lunch.  My whole world was consumed with my writing.

So when I was accepted to the Pen in Hand writer’s conference in Little Falls, I couldn’t believe how fucking lucky I was.  Finally, my writing was being taken seriously!  For 24 hours, I would be surrounded by other writers.  I would get to meet authors and they would talk to me!  It was everything I’d hoped for and more.  I made friends there that I still have today.  It’s where I first drank coffee.  It was better than my prom.

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Why I Don’t Leave Negative Reviews

Pictured: The Internet

Pictured: The Internet

I have friends that leave reviews constantly.  Liked the restaurant we ate at? Write a review on Yelp.  Hated the movie we saw?   A full rant is up on Facebook that night.

The phrase “Everyone’s a Critic” has never been truer.  Between Amazon and Yelp and, I dunno, MoviePoopShoot, everyone can tell you exactly what they think about everything.   Especially when we hate something.  Then we cannot shut up about it.

Me, I’m opting out.  I am no longer leaving bad reviews.

For me, writing a bad review is bossy.  It’s saying, “I’ve decided, in my infinite wisdom, that no one else should like this book/bar/movie/album because it did not please me.”  But tastes are subjective, and people have every right in the whole world to enjoy Ready Player One or The Force Awakens, even if I didn’t.

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….And Introducing Valerie

Valerie with Book

Valerie is my good luck charm.  She has been at every reading I’ve ever given; either in my pocket or on the podium right next to me.  If I’m in a play, I carry her onstage in my purse.  She was with me when I walked across the stage to collect my MFA, tied into the sleeve of my graduation gown.  Nothing goes wrong when Valerie’s around.  I carried her on my wedding day and even brought her on my honeymoon!

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The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For….

The Big Rewind is OUT!  Buy it at your local bookstore! Buy it on Amazon!  Buy it at Barnes & Noble!  Buy one for yourself, and another for someone you respect and admire!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

And if you love it, spread the word.  If you don’t, well, here’s hoping you find something ELSE you love and can talk that up instead!

The Big Rewind Cover

How To Be a Real Writer

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Pretty sure this is the only blog where you’ll find writing tips via ROADHOUSE references

If you really want to piss me off, you can say the following phrase.  “Oh, I’m a real writer.”  At the very least, I’ll text everyone I know about what a goon you are, or I might sub-tweet you.  Maybe I’ll laugh in your face, or maybe I’ll go completely Patrick Swayze and rip your throat out, leaving your corpse on the floor of the coffee shop as a warning to others.

“Real” writers.  I heard that phrase a LOT in grad school.  I went to a grad program with a commercial fiction as well as a literary fiction program, and there was occasional contention between the two.  “Oh, I would never write for the pulps” (Yes, she actually said “pulps.” What is this, 1932?  Dial down the gaudy patter, ya loopy dame.)  “Oh, I write real fiction, but maybe I’ll write a sci-fi novel sometime!” (like it’s so easy, anyone can just slum it).  And it’s not just lit fic people.  I heard the “real writer” bullshit from people in my own workshops, who thought they were better that everyone else there because of some arbitrary metric, a goal post only they could kick the ball through.

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On Writing “Rough Night in Little Toke”

61mfW7jxH8L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_You kids, with your fancy animes and your Crackles and your CrunchyRolls, you don’t know how hard the rest of us used to have it!  Back in my day, we had to get anime from a CATALOG.  Specifically, the Viz catalog, which arrived every so often (quarterly, perhaps?) at my house on Park Place.  It was a happy day when it arrived, filled with treats from far-off Japan, Ranma 1/2 and  Akira and manga, so much manga, plus a lot of filthy stuff that came with a big fat NOT FOR KIDS bar across it.

I devoured that catalog.  This was back when anime came in clamshell VHS cases, 2, maybe 3 episodes at a time.  And that shit was NOT cheap — I think I paid about $30 for All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku, my first anime (purchased from Tower Records).  Years later, I would buy the entire series on DVD for $6.  Times have changed.

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