Category Archives: The Novel

Losing a Passion

Standard

download

I haven’t been writing, guys. At all.

Well I guess that’s a lie–I’ve written a few shitty poems. I’ve written a few magazine articles. But anything of real substance, vulnerability, skill? Nah.

I even thought about giving it up. Yeah, as in, giving up writing. Forever. Not the normal “I’m not good enough, I’ll never amount to anything, I’ll never be a famous author, fuck writing” thoughts that make you a writer. I’m talking black hole depression “I vow never to focus an ounce of energy on stringing words together ever, ever again.”

There are a few reasons for this disaster. I won’t go into those, but let’s just say I’ve been bumbling around for awhile now, and it’s starting to bug the hell out of me. Realization: I’ve never written “to be good enough, to amount to something, to be a famous author”…I’ve written to be true to myself as a person, to stay sane, to feel OK. I have not been any of those things as of late.

Anyway, I won’t allow myself to lose a passion. I may not ever self-publish again, I may not ever even finish another novel…but I’ll keep writing. Even if that means forcing myself to show up to Shut Up and Write! meet-ups at local coffee shops…the only girl in a private room full of old men writing memoirs.

[Sidenote: the group that was using the room before us was a “mens group”…I had to Google that shit. There are men who are emotionally secure enough to admit that they could use friends, mentors, advice, guidance…?! Whaaaaat? That’s badass. But you have to wonder…are they getting much accomplished without a woman in there, telling them what they’re doing wrong? Haha I kid, I kid…]

More on my new writers group. First of all, let me take back what I said about them all being old men. There is one who is not old, but rather, drop dead gorgeous. He is married. Of course. The rest are my grandfather’s age, with the same cranky jokes and wheezy laughs. Ron writes with a pen in a binder full of blank paper. Erwin talks about Chinese-Americans and the pressure they feel to succeed–so much pressure that two of his friends have committed suicide. He’s unsure whether this is short story-worthy. My eyes widen and I assure him it is. I want to read it NOW, actually.

This is going to be great for me.

ca3911359676a92b2fa0cfdd68e199aff354fe47637079bfb32ba92c18671bdd

 

 

 

 

#teacherproblems, but not

Standard

12240319_10103394805804047_6211325721321551191_o

Sometimes, as every educator will confirm, you just have a LUCKY year. Fantastic kids. Barely any discipline referrals or failures, zero fistfights breaking out in your room, no one cussing you out…You start to think, “This must be a fluke…this can’t last.” And then…it does.

I’ve been holding my breath since September, waiting for the good to turn bad and the bad to turn ugly. Y’all…fingers crossed that this will remain…my students this year are downright MAGICAL. They’re SWEET and SOOO SMART and TWO, that’s right, TWO of them showed up to my book signing yesterday at the San Marcos Public Library for Texas Author Day! I was blown away.

What’s even more is…my kids have no idea how much I needed this year to be a good year. If things would have been different, if this would’ve been a rough year, I think I would’ve had a legitimate breakdown by now. My personal life has been…anything but easy as of late. Not pretty (but getting better, no worries). I’ve been pulling it together each and every morning, plastering a smile on my face, and focusing on being an awesome teacher to my awesome students who deserve that! They’ve made it such a smoother process than I expected it to be. Holding it together for them every week was a necessary motivation, and it’s saved me more than they’ll ever know.

Of course, I’ll still tweet all about my #teacherproblems, like the group today who asked if their Romeo & Juliet skit could include fake cocaine.

But in all honesty, I’m runnin’ real low on those hashtags. And I’ll take it!

My Debut Novel Turns ONE!

Standard

3D Preview

HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAYYYY to my baby, my first novel, THE WAITING ROOM 🙂

This experience has been scary, amazing, fun, self-deprecating, empowering…an insane rush of emotions, every step of the way. From collecting dust on my laptop for years, to finally being done and selling on Amazon and at BookPeople…I’m just so happy.

I also need to thank the people in my life who have been so supportive–my parents, namely. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing, and they’ve always been there to support me. My best friends–geez, the whining and stress they’ve had to endure from me haha, thank you guys. My readers, the first people to take a chance and buy the damn thing, the reviewers and their lovely words–I cannot express how grateful I am for you!

So let’s celebrate!

I’ve been thinking about doing another wave of giveaways, and I feel like this is the perfect time.

First 25 readers to email me get a free ecopy (please specify if you’d prefer a Mobi, PDF, or ePub file)!

alyshakaye@gmail.com

My only request is that you please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads 🙂

When is it OK to do NOTHING?

Standard

Feeling superrrrr unproductive lately. As in…I’m FORCING myself to write this blog post simply to feel that relief of “Yay, I checked ‘blogging’ off the list!” It’s bad, y’all.

My next novel, my lovely WIP, is sitting at the saddest ONE chapter halt, just eyeing me with pure hate, daring me to wait another week and then another and then another…

In fact, I actually did my taxes in order to avoid writing. Gross.

I’ve been traipsing around Austin like some sort of Hilton brat…pretending I have loads of cash to throw away on mimosas and sushi. This past weekend, I laid in Zilker Park with the boy and let dogs come up to lick my face—when I could’ve been writing. We went to a freakin’ improv show that was downright terrible—when I could’ve been writing. I went to brunch TWICE. I even took a damn nap. I hate naps. I could’ve been writing.

Decided: Happiness gets in the way of getting shit done. And I think that’s OK?

I typed my first novel so furiously, post-break-up. I was like, “I hate you, I HATE YOU, I hate me, typetypetype, BOOM- NOVEL! WHAT NOW, BITCH?”

When you’re super happy, you’re usually also super busy…with, ya’ know, happy-life-things like kissing and snuggling and park-lounging. And then WHOA before you know it, another weekend has flown by in a whirlwind of pancakes and sunshine. Your gut is kinda like, “Um, excuse me, ma’am, remember when you used to go to the gym and WRITE and schedule haircuts and WRITE and read and WRITE and stuff…?”

Heart: stfu I’m having fun.

Head: Don’t worry, I’m sure things will get crappy soon and then we’ll have all the time in the world, like we used to.

Heart: BUT WHAT IF WE’RE HAPPY FOREVER?

Head: lolz

Gut: omg you’re both so effing annoying. We’ll find a balance, chill.

Life gets crazy. Busy as hell (seriously though, taxes? Who thought of that, the Brits? Didn’t we gain our independence?) and superrrrrr happy-insane sometimes. It’s OK to do nothing for a while, especially if you’re like me and you’ve been some sort of psycho Energizer Bunny since birth.

Decided: Be productive when you can, learn to adapt, evolve, whatever…find a balance and chill, like Gut says. Don’t let go of your passions, but don’t freak out and hold them so close that you lose creative control.

Heart: k!

Head: sigh, k.

Gut: kduh.

And then there’s this ^ …

Indie Blog Hop: GIVEAWAY!

Standard

blog-hop-51

Big shout out to The Book Binder’s Daughter for connecting with me via Twitter and allowing me to participate in this awesome blog hop! Go to her blog to check out all the other authors participating today- and sign up for more giveaways!

GIVEAWAY DEETS: All you have to do is follow my blog, like my author Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter! Those new names will be entered in the drawing and at the end of today, some lucky someone will win the signed copy of my debut novel, The Waiting Room 🙂 If you’d prefer, I can send you an ecopy instead, for your Kindle. I’ll announce the winner on all of those social media sites.

Happy 20-Days-Til-Christmas, readers!

Hope your tree has lots of books underneath it!
Check out all the other indie authors participating, and sign up for more giveaways here:

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Texas Author Day: Nov. 9!

Standard

2014TX author poster-sm

Central Texans- I hope you can make it to my first book signing! I can’t wait for the San Marcos Public Library (my childhood heaven) to host Texas Author Day (still can’t believe I received an invite).

There will be so many great writers there- so come out and smell some books!

Sunday, Nov. 9, 2-5PM 🙂

Get Over Yourself

Standard

Originally published in the San Francisco Book Review – October issue.

October2014SFBR-page-001October2014SFBR-page-002

 Get Over Yourself: What My Students Taught Me
 

“Miss, get back to me when you’re Dr. Seuss famous.”

That was one of the first reactions I received when I told my 100 7th grade students that I was publishing a novel.

The main piece of congratulations I got from my squirrelly middle schoolers was: “Will you share the money with us?!” Ha.

As per usual, my hooligans who I spend all day with keep me in check.

They will never allow me to take myself too seriously and thank goodness for that. No one likes that pretentious-never-smiling writer who goes around constantly sighing about how their agent and editor just “don’t see eye to eye.” Oh please.

I make a living telling kids to capitalize and spit out their gum. I write on the side. I get two sad paychecks a month, break up two fights a year, and hand out maybe two stickers a day. I write on the side.

In case you don’t have a clear enough picture of my glamorous life yet, this was the simultaneous response of almost every class when I began with “I have some great news…”:
“YOU’RE PREGNANT?!?!”

That, as you can imagine, made the news of my novel seem quite arbitrary. Oh, our teacher isn’t having a baby out of wedlock? Well then we don’t really care.

Yeah.

I’m not going to lie, as a self-published author, it’s easy to get caught up in Twitter followers, Facebook likes, WordPress reblogs, Goodreads ratings, and Amazon reviews. It’s even easier to get lost in the black hole of “refreshing” the Kindle and CreateSpace sales pages.

That’s what I have my darling pre-teens for. They may irk me with their constant struggle of “Is a lot really two words, Miss?” but they definitely, DEFINITELY teach me to get over myself.

You can’t be a cliché snobby writer AND break up spit ball invasions. You can’t be a cliché snobby writer AND secretly bribe a student with chocolate before school to kill a classroom cockroach. You can’t be a cliché snobby writer AND calmly tell a student to stop making “sexual noises” during the state standardized test. And you definitely, definitely can’t be a cliché snobby writer AND keep a straight face when a student asks you, “Miss, why do all white people like to rhyme all the time?”

I think every author out there truly needs someone (or hundreds of mini-someones) to keep them humble. I’m sure even J.K. Rowling has a bubble-burster. Probably someone who gloats to her about Avatar doubling the sales of every Harry Potter film. But seriously, where would we be without these parade-rainers?

Granted, there are different types of these “antagonists”. Not everyone can be as lucky as me—mine are cute and almost impossible to stay angry with (I said almost). My students make fun of me for not being married and then, in the next breath, accidentally call me Mom. They make fun of my clothes and then, a minute later, they’re hugging me or begging me to read their poem or asking if I’ll be at their soccer game. But trust me, I have the more evil-type-naysayers as well. I like to call them h8ters or swag-less (my students may or may not have taught me those words).

These Negative Nancys are necessary, I’m telling you! You don’t want to end up ALONE, smoking a pipe in front of a fireplace, wearing only wool argyle, and refusing to speak to anyone but your typewriter (because no one else deserves your esteemed attention). NO! Also, you don’t want to end up an alcoholic-addict-suicide-Hemingway type. I mean, being Hemingway would be cool…but you know what I mean. Don’t take yourself seriously. Ever. You’ll lose something. And in turn, your writing will lose something. And then you’ll lose your readers. Boom. Is your mind blown?

While you may not be walking around the halls of your employment wearing dry erase marker streaks on your white dress, I encourage you to find your own path to absurdity. If your life isn’t a joke, you’re not a writer.

I leave you with the best student reaction to my book cover: “Miss…is that a picture of what you wish you had, but you’ve like…never had and will never have?” Burn, kid. Burn.

So hey, writers out there, remember: get over yourself!