Posts Tagged ‘Amy Lane’

Guest Post

Guest Post: “Drawing from the Well of Soul” by Amy Lane

Summer Lessons Amy Lane

Once upon a time, I was seven years old. My parents had just split up, my dad didn’t get back from work for a couple of hours, and the rule was, I didn’t go out and play unless he was home and knew where I’d gone. Our television was black and white and back then, we got two hours of child friendly programming before the news came on and that was it. (Gilligan’s Island, I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch—this is why everyone my age loves those shows.) I was lonely, bored, and probably hungry.

I wrote.

Not with a pen and paper, or, even better, a computer (God, what I could have done with a computer!) but by sitting my stuffed animals in a circle around me on the floor and telling them a story. They were a very good audience, except for the stuffed dog who kept falling over.

Didn’t matter. I wrote.

Several years later in a different time, I was a young-ish mother who had lost her job and had two children under two on a six-acre spread in a drafty house in the middle of nowhere. My son had a communication handicap, my husband worked and went to school eighty hours a week, and I had no car.

I wrote.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Constant Craving” by Amy Lane

Tart and Sweet Amy Lane

You know that moment I’m talking about.

The one where you have eaten nothing but non-fat protein and un-buttered broccoli for going on three days in a row, and suddenly you see it: That perfect combination of butter, refined sugar, white flour, candied fruit and/or marshmallow-swaddled chocolate—whipped cream and cinnamon optional, sin always required.

And you need to make it yours.

Oh… you need to make it yours. You will DAIEEEEEEE if it is not yours. You will mow down with prejudice the poor, well-meaning soul who stands between you and your Chocolate Mephistopheles and screams, “For the love of heaven, remember your diet!” and there will be blood, tears, and no remorse.

For the love of chicken and broccoli, how do you resist such a gut-ripping, life-blood-pumping, necessary to your sanity craving?

One of the most surprising bits of advice from Weight Watchers is… don’t.

That doesn’t mean eat Chocolate Mephistopheles all day every day (and if anyone can create a dessert that lives up to this name, I will eat it all day every day). It just means, on those days when your nearest and dearest are at risk if they intervene, get the Chocolate Mephistopheles—eat it.

Well, not the whole thing.

But, say, get your bestie, order your sin, and eat it with two spoons. Gather the family, take them to the patisserie, and split it four ways. Order it, cut it into eights, and stretch it out over two days.

There are a lot of ways to give into a little temptation without going up three sizes and running away from the gym in shame. Because the alternative?

Even the most controlled of martyrs has a snapping point. The person who fails to indulge in Chocolate Mephistopheles in a safe situation today is the person who goes face first and feral into the Cheesecake Azazel at two a.m. next week and washes it down with a diet coke and pomegranate juice to boot. (Anti-oxidants make up for everything, right?)

So indulgence is not a bad thing, really. In small quantities, it sort of makes us human.

Unless you’re talking about reading.

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Guest Post

“Romance and You” by Amy Lane

Tart and Sweet Amy Lane

The thing is, no teacher ever bothered to connect the dots for us.

“And today,” the teacher would say, “we are going to learn about the romances of King Arthur!”

“So,” we would reply, “like my mother’s romances in the cupboard—hooray! We’re going to learn about sex and happiness!”

“No!” The teacher was always scandalized at this point. “You are going to learn how sex makes people deeply unhappy and all of the life choices made under the guise of true love will ruin your existence forever.”

“Well shit,” we’d think. “King Arthur was a weenie who spoiled it for everybody.”  And then we’d get a big salacious thrill out of watching Arthur, Gwenevere, Lancelot, Tristan, and Gawain completely screw up their lives.

But we didn’t see how it was romance.

But there was still hope somebody would teach us later.

“And today,” the teacher would say, “we are going to learn about the American Romantics!”

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Guest Post

“Bleed It Out” by Amy Lane

Rampant Amy Lane
Teague was driving. He came up to me as we were loading up, holding up his iPod, which was loaded just like mine.

“Bleed it Out?” he asked hopefully, and I grinned. I don’t know what I looked like, but his grin back was ferocious and bloodthirsty, and nobody had better fuck with us because we were bad fucking business.

“Bleed it out!” I answered back. We bashed closed fists together and got ready to roll.

I don’t know when we had started the tradition of listening to head-banging music on the way to our ass-kicking runs—I think I just started co-opting the stereo and playing stuff that got me pumped. It didn’t matter, because when Teague joined us in November, the tradition became locked in stone. Now we even had a couple of playlists culled from iPods full of every metal, rock, or alternative CD produced in the last twenty years.

Without a doubt, the vampires’ favorite was Adrian’s favorite—Linkin Park—and their hands-down, love-it-forever, rhythm-pumped-in-their-veins favorite kickass song was “Bleed It Out.” We’d built a four-hour playlist around that song, and on nights like this, it felt good to thunder that shit through our veins.

 —from Rampant, Part II, out in November

 


About ten years ago I was standing outside of my classroom, welcoming my fifth period in, and wishing I was dead.

Or in hell.

Or anywhere but in front of that classroom.

Because my administrator hated me—this is not an exaggeration. He designed this class to make my life miserable so I’d quit.  It was a class of thirty-two juniors at the beginning of the year. Fourteen of the thirty-two students were bound for continuation school.  Twelve of those continuation school students were male.

When I say, “bound for continuation school” this doesn’t mean I was meanly assessing their future. It means they were in their third year of high school and had passed fewer than three classes in two and a half years. They were going to continuation school—they’d been looking forward to it, and at the end of the first semester, they could get the hell out of regular school and go to a place where they could work on packets undisturbed. If they didn’t just drop out completely.

These kids had nothing to lose, they hated authority, hated school, hated female teachers, and I got them after lunch.

As they stomped up the walkway, swearing loudly, I waved them inside, humming Get Set Go’s “I Hate Everyone”. 

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “What’s Wrong With the Box Again?” by Amy Lane

Fish Out of Water Amy Lane

I’ll be honest.  My first warning usually comes when a friend or a colleague says to me, “Oh, you’re so brave!”

Sounds like a compliment, doesn’t it?  Uh-huh. Brave—we all want to be brave, right?

It might be, but “You’re so brave!” for me is usually followed by an Amy Lane sized crap-bomb that could spatter a city block. When my nearest and dearest are saying, “You’re so brave!” they are not infrequently edging away from me, reaching into boxes for rain ponchos and checking to make sure their kaiju shelters are stocked for the shitstorm to come.

For example, when my bestie and beta reader got to the end of Immortal, she said, “Oh, Amy—you’re so brave to kill off both main characters and have their happy ever after happen as they wandered the forest around their homes after death.” This translated into, “People will hate this ending. They will loathe it. They will .gif bomb the crap out of you on Goodreads, and you won’t understand and cry on me until my cornflakes get soggy from 3000 miles away.”

And because I was me, I put my little tin hat on, grabbed my broomstick, mounted my dying pony and galloped right into that windmill and got knocked right on my ass.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Daisy” by Amy Lane

Fish Out of Water Amy Lane

I live a tiny life—most of us do, unless we’re traveling.  But for most of us, work is a thing of routine. Even writers, whom many people assume simply write when the “muse” moves us, set hours when we write for a living. “These are the hours I work. This is when I have to be productive. I can quit when these tasks are done.”

And outside of work, the rest of our lives are often circumscribed. I swear, I could put my car on an electric track that went from the gym to one kid’s school to the other kid’s school, to Del Taco to the grocery store, and 80% of the time, those are the only places I’d need to go.

But in spite of having a predictable tortoise life, I have a rather hoppy rabbit mind, and if it doesn’t have new places to hop to, I shall go simply mad.

Books are my escape—but reading time is limited to in my car as I’m waiting for my kids to get out, or a few precious pages a night before I fall asleep. On the whole, most of my brain travels happen from talking to other people.

Talking to strangers is my gateway to the world.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Things I’ve Learned From Great Writers” by Amy Lane

So, in my past life I taught English—and loved it. I still make forays back into a classroom as a volunteer, but I do miss the familiar greeting of my friends in the giant English anthologies. Their work in my life—and their words in my mind—were as regular as the seasons, and I got great at making their lives interesting and relevant for my student body.

When I started writing, I realized that I had learned an awful lot about fiction and publishing from the greats—their lives and words had been there all along. Here are some of my favorite lessons, passed on to you:

19th century --- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet. Early portrait. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet. Early portrait. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Emily Dickinson—I’ve learned a lot from the Belle of Amherst—this is only a tiny corner of what she had to teach me.

Lesson: Your editors are not evil—they really do have your best interest in mind.

How I learned it: Much has been made of Emily Dickinson’s editors, and how the six poems she published during her lifetime were horribly maimed before they were printed.  Those editors were trying, in their way, to get Emily’s work out to the people. The changes they made—though not literarily awesome—were there to help for public consumption. But Emily wasn’t looking for fame, she was looking for greatness (undoubtedly achieved) and the changes hurt her heart too much to continue. After her death, editors who saw that literary greatness went through her preciously tied bundle of poems and edited them with the delicate, precise cuts of that guy who carves masterpieces on the head of a pin.  The results were the fey, ethereal, profound works that we teach high school students today.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “What You Love” by Amy Lane

Selfie by Amy Lane

I was sort of taken aback by the question, and I shouldn’t have been.

“How did you research the book Selfie, and what steps did you take to make it authentic?”

My first thought (and I have had this one since I started writing) was “I am a terrible fraud!” because I couldn’t remember doing any research for this book.

And then my actual brain kicked in (as opposed to my panic brain), and I realized that I’d been researching this book before I started writing.

When I was a kid—eight, nine, ten—my parents made three trips to the Pacific Northwest. Oregon, Washington, Canada—I fell deeply in love.

When I was a teenager, I was one of the deciding voices to send my marching band to Victoria, Canada for our trip in my senior year, because my burning passion never dimmed.  As an adult, I’ve talked Mate into taking me up there twice—for our 10th anniversary, and as part of a business trip—and that area and I renewed our affair.

Oh yes, from Goose Mountain to the Seattle Fish Market to Puget Sound, I have researched that area simply by being in love.  Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to look up some maps—because my head for directions is limited to three coordinates: Pure Fucking Magic.

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Giveaway

Guest Post: “About Words” by Amy Lane

Selfie by Amy Lane

I love words—most writers do. There’s something magical that happens when both sides of a writer’s brain conjoin.  The language centers and the imagination centers–which are in opposite hemispheres—work together to create a reality that did not exist before phoneme and morpheme collaborated to paint a picture.  Suddenly words shape the things we imagine, and the things we imagine search desperately for…

Words.

Words equal ideas.

In a lecture about Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language and his book 1984  I used to do the following exercise with my classes—everybody follow along.

Okay, everybody think of the word “color”.  What comes to mind?

Now everyone think of the word “red”.  What do you think about?

Now think about “dark red”.  What do you think about now?

Now think about “candy-apple red.”  What images do you get?

Now think about “crimson”, or “vermillion”, or “burgundy”.  What do you think about now?

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Space” by Amy Lane

Lollipop by Amy Lane

So, my husband, Mate, has attempted one home improvement project in the last six months: He has moved my desk from the kitchen table to the dump–I mean what used to be the dump but what is actually the computer desk in the corner of the living room.

He cleaned it out (mostly) and dusted it off (well, there are some nooks and crannies) and set my computer up on it with my chair and everything. He even remembered a coaster for my ever-present drink.

 

 A spot in the sun not too far from mom's feet. Best. Desk. Ever.
A spot in the sun not too far from mom’s feet. Best. Desk. Ever.

I approached this new setting cautiously and weighed the pros and cons.

Pro? I no longer have mail crushing down upon me as I work. Con? It keeps sliding off the kitchen table anyway because although I do the initial triage, Mate still doesn’t go through the mail often enough.

Pro? I am no longer “the voice from the kitchen” to my family when I am working and they are watching television. Con? If they are watching Bob’s Burgers, say, a show I usually forego watching and just listen for the funniest parts while I’m working, all I have to do to ditch out on work is to turn around.

Pro? If I get up to “think wander” I am no longer in the kitchen and food is no longer right there and hopefully snacking will get a little less commonplace when I’m home alone with the computer. Con? The dogs still need to snack at every hour of every day, so I need a bag of dog treats in my personal space whenever they decide to waddle over and bully me into overfeeding them.

Bookshelf Amy Lane
Still moving in.

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