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March 2, 2014

99 Inspirations for The Riverman

99Luftballoons

Over two years ago, before The Only Ones came out, I did a countdown of 99 things (books, movies, art, places, etc.) that inspired it. It was a fun way to revisit some stuff I was actively thinking about when I wrote the book, as well as some stuff I didn’t realize influenced me until I had some time to reflect.

Well, it’s 99 days until The Riverman hits shelves and I figured, why not do it all again? So, without further ado, here is my list of #99inspirations that I’ll be counting down daily on Twitter. This doesn’t represent all of my favorite things (sorry, no bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens here), though it does include some stuff that I truly love. And hopefully it sparks some conversation about the stuff you love and the stuff that leaks into your creations.

December 23, 2011

The Blogosphere Vs. The Only Ones

I was going to try to write this post without using the word blogosphere. But see, I can’t make it even 15 words without resorting to such vocabulary. Oh, the blogosphere is a powerful sphere these days, right up there with the Southern Hemisphere, the troposphere, and Sphere by Michael Cricthon. And I have to acknowledge that power, or else they’ll hunt me down and take me out like this was a Dan Brown book and they were renegade nuns and I was a dashing Sanskrit expert (that’s the sort of thing that happens in Dan Brown books, right?).

What I’m getting at is this: in a market flooded with books, not every author can expect a Charlie Rose interview, a Today Show spot and a New Yorker feature to help get the word out about his/her hardback baby. Thankfully there is a passionate community of fans and critics who are doing the heavy lifting for free. There’s nothing like coming across a review online and knowing that someone out there not only read and thought about your story, but is now expanding on it. Because that’s what good criticism is: a continuation of the story, even when it’s negative criticism. I tend to read criticism after I read a book, or watch a movie, or listen to an album. I want to see if others shared in my experience or had a wildly different point of view. It helps me see more of the story. It gives it a fuller shape. Sure, it sometimes leads to me shaking my fist and screaming “Moron!” or “Philistine!” but most things in life do.

So blogosophere, I salute you.  Amazon is okay (with its “best book eva!” and “this book is the root of all evil!” reviews) and Goodreads can be endlessly fascinating and frustrating (I’m fine with one star, just tell me why!). But give me a blog review any day of the week. I’m serious. If you have a blog…give me a review! Even on a Tuesday! Follow the lead of these 10 trailblazers who–despite a dabbling in SPOILERS!–have not only shared my book with the world, but have given me new insights into what I wrote. They have made my story even longer:

  1. Mother Reader: “One, I’m calling this as a movie waiting to be made. Two, this book would make a perfect gift…”
  2. Charlotte’s Library (spoiler at end): “It’s the best sort of upper middle grade book–ie, great for an eleven year old child, and for the mg reading grown-up.”
  3. Parenthetical (mild spoilers): “This is a weird, amazing, amazingly weird book.”
  4. Librarian in the Middle: “Part science fiction, part mystery, this well-crafted story was moving in ways I didn’t see coming.  This is one that will stick with me for a long time.”
  5. Snarky and Sweet: “I can only talk in the vaguest terms about the plot because one of the absolute strengths of the book for me was its unpredictability. The reader really is taken for a ride and cannot know what happens next.”
  6. MSBPL Books (spoilers aplenty): “Starmer’s characters and story premise were engaging and thoughtful and I recommend this book to readers who are interested in human nature and science fantasy.”
  7. West Virginia Red Reads: “The end of the world doesn’t make children into monsters but it does make them into adults with both good and bad sides.”
  8. Karissa’s Reading Reviews: “Fans of well written mysteries with a little magic and sci-fi should look here. Fans of post-apocalyptic fiction with a more subtle touch to it and a lot of mystery should also give this book a read.”
  9. Alamosa Books: “A brilliant fairy tale for the modern age.”
  10. Bettina’s Book Club (some spoilers): “The premise was fascinating, the characters were unique, funny, believable and relatable, and by the time I was done reading it I was thinking, ‘Whoa, this is some deep stuff…'”

There are of course some reviews from newspapers, magazines and journals over here. And there are other blog reviews out there that I know I missed and others that are on the horizon (or so I hope). If you have one, just let me know. I’ll spread the word.

December 14, 2011

Meanwhile, at Facebook Headquarters…

INT. FACEBOOK CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes sit at a conference table, surrounded by piles of file folders, binders, etc. Mark Zuckerberg paces around the room.

ZUCKERBERG

Moving on. Who do we have next?

Moskovitz opens a file folder.

MOSKOVITZ

We have a…Jenny Richardson.

ZUCKERBERG

What do we know about Jenny?

MOSKOVITZ

Let’s see. Says here she’s from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

HUGHES

That’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Zuck.

ZUCKERBERG

Nice catch, Hughesy. Okay, so she’s an Amish then, right? Good. Somewhere to start. We wanna get those Amish fingers a-clickin’. So tell me, boys. What’s ad-sales pulling in on the horse-and-buggy front?

 Moskovitz checks the ledger.

MOSKOVITZ

Nada.

ZUCKERBERG

Damn. Strike one. No big whoop. Homerun idea is…oats! Pretty sure these people love the oats.

HUGHES

That’s the Quakers, Zuck.

ZUCKERBERG

Is it? What’s the difference?

MOSKOVITZ

I think…the hats?

HUGHES

Zippers, actually.

ZUCKERBERG

Zippers? Fascinating. How so?

HUGHES

Don’t like ‘em. Don’t want ‘em. Got no need for ‘em.

ZUCKERBERG

Who? Amish or Quakers? Know what? Doesn’t matter. Skip any zipper ads for Jenny. That includes Ziploc and all subsidiaries. Don’t want to take chances. Focus on oats. I know it’s a Quaker thing, but I’m betting every horse-loving Pennsylvanian needs quality oats. Now make me a happy man, Mister M. Tell me we got some badass oats accounts on the books?

 Moskovitz checks the ledger.

MOSKOVITZ

Best I can do is Hall & Oates. Reunion tour at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New…

(flips page)

…Jersey.

 ZUCKERBERG

Good. We can work with that. How far is Sayreville from Lancaster? Is it doable for Jenny?

Hughes pulls out an atlas, flips through the pages until he finds an overview map of the Northeast. He measures the distance with his fingers, checks the scale on the key.

 HUGHES

Looks doable, Zuck.

 ZUCKERBERG

Horse-and-buggy doable?

 HUGHES

I can’t claim to be an expert, but I think it’s horse-and-buggy doable. A full day on the buggy but, you know, it’s a reunion tour. I heard they’re doing Maneater.

 ZUCKERBERG

Good point. Jenny will make the trip for Maneater.

(beat)

Okay, so Jenny’s going to a concert. What else can we sell her? I need the deets, Mighty Moskovitz. Hit me up. What sorta books does she dig?

MOSKOVITZ

Says here she reads “just about anything good…except for sci-fi. Ack!”

ZUCKERBERG

Ack? What’s ack?

MOSKOVITZ

I think she’s just saying ack. Like…gross. Ack!

HUGHES

Cathy says ack.

ZUCKERBERG

Cathy in the SEO department? Peanut-allergy Cathy? I swear, sometimes I would fire that woman just so I could have a godforsaken Pay-Day bar every once in a tomorrow!

HUGHES

Different Cathy, Zuck. Sorry, should have been more specific. Cathy the comic strip.

ZUCKERBERG

Got it. I know that one. They still running those?

HUGHES

Not sure.

ZUCKERBERG

Know what? Think I saw some funny papers in the eighth floor bathroom. Third stall in. Right up on the tank.

HUGHES

So…? Want me to…check?

ZUCKERBERG

Of course I want you to check! Jesus, Hughesy, we aren’t LinkedIn over here, where they don’t know their Cathy from their Sally Forth! We go public in a few months, this is the sorta minutia people are gonna expect.

HUGHES

Sorry, Zuck. I’m on it.

Hughes dashes out.

 MOSKOVITZ

We still talking about Jenny?

ZUCKERBERG

(grinding his teeth)

Right. Jenny. Likes books. Good ones. Read anything good lately?

MOSKOVITZ

I really liked The Night Circus.

ZUCKERBERG

What’s that about?

MOSKOVITZ

A circus…at night.

ZUCKERBERG

Not a sci-fi circus at night? Jenny doesn’t care for sci-fi.

MOSKOVITZ

Um…no. Not sci-fi. Maybe fantasy? It’s kinda tough to peg down.

ZUCKERBERG

But you liked it? People like it?

MOSKOVITZ

It’s pretty friggin’ magical.

ZUCKERBERG

Good. Good. So I’m guessing Jenny read it too, cause she’s not gonna pass up something so magical. And she’s probably itching to see a night circus in person. Which begs the question…

 Moskovitz nods and grabs the yellow pages. He flips through.

 MOSKOVITZ

Sorry. No listings for night circuses in Lancaster, Sayreville or anywhere in between.

ZUCKERBERG

Day circuses?

 Moskovitz shakes his head.

 ZUCKERBERG

Mother-fudger! Gimme something!

MOSKOVITZ

How about circus peanuts? You know, the candy?

ZUCKERBERG

Really? That stuff is vile.

MOSKOVITZ

Maybe, but they have a big ad budget. Someone must enjoy the stuff.

ZUCKERBERG

And maybe that someone is Jenny. Or if that someone isn’t Jenny, maybe it will be Jenny because she’s all giddied up on the night circus pony. I like your thinking Dusty M. And besides, Jenny will be hungry at Hall & Oates. Oh-oh here she comes, watch out circus peanuts she’ll chew you up….

MOSKOVITZ

Nicely done.

ZUCKERBERG

Bush-league, but thank you. Just getting started. So we’ve sold stuff to Jenny. Now let’s sell Jenny. I’m sure there are companies interested in hearing more about her. What’s her relationship status?

MOSKOVITZ

It’s complicated.

ZUCKERBERG

Dammit! We should’ve never made that an option.

MOSKOVITZ

Not what I meant. It says quite clearly that she’s interested in men. But then I’ve got all these photos of her playing softball.

 Moskovitz spreads some photographs out on the table. Zuckerberg has a look.

 ZUCKERBERG

Bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

MOSKOVITZ

She lists Boys on the Side as one of her favorite movies.

ZUCKERBERG

Doesn’t prove anything. McConaughey is in that picture. Which status updates does she “like?”

 Moskovitz searches through some papers.

 MOSKOVITZ

Her friend Gina’s toddler said something funny about how rain is God “going pee-pee” and she liked that.

 ZUCKERBERG

Okay.

MOSKOVITZ

She liked that Ken Dyer was “gonna get his drink on tonight with all the L-Town hotteez!”

ZUCKERBERG

Why wouldn’t she? Sounds like a good time. How about some things she doesn’t like?

MOSKOVITZ

Um…I thought we weren’t adding that button?

ZUCKERBERG

(sighing)

We aren’t. But the data. The data should still reveal what she doesn’t like.

 Moskovitz searches through the papers.

MOSKOVITZ

Mondays. It appears she doesn’t like Mondays.

 ZUCKERBERG

Hmmm.

(beat)

So she’s a lesbian. I’m guessing Subaru would be interested in knowing that.

MOSKOVITZ

Err…horse-and-buggy.

ZUCKERBERG

Crap-balls!

 The door flies open. Hughes tumbles in.

 HUGHES

(breathlessly)

No…sign…of Cathy. But Sally….Forth…still going…strong.

 ZUCKERBERG

Bingo! You’re back, Hughesy!

HUGHES

Thanks…Zuck.

 ZUCKERBERG

Snoop Mousy Moskovitz! Get whoever draws, writes, and publishes Sally Forth on the horn and tell them we’ve got the 411 on a sugared-up Amish lesbian Hall & Oates aficionado named Jenny Richardson and ask them flat out how many dimes they’re willing to drop to know how she’s doing at Farmville.

(catches his breath)

Moving on.

October 25, 2011

Where Ya Been, Man?

It’s true, I haven’t been hanging ’round here much of late. And though I’ve been busy,  it’s not because I’ve been busy. Being busy is never an excuse. That’s something you tell your dentist or your parole officer: “Sorry pal, couldn’t make it in, been busy, but you can dig how that is, right poncho?” Fine for that scene, but it don’t cut it in the blogging biz.

The reason I haven’t been here is because I’ve been elsewhere, peddling my wares to other web sites. Yes, the stain of digital lipstick is all over my collar, but I assure you everything is on the up-and-up. If you don’t believe me, I present the following as evidence:

    1. Here I am over at Figment.com, where I’m sharing the opening chapter of The Only Ones, as well as a short story I wrote at the ripe old age of 16. Read both and see how my writing has evolved (devolved?) over the last 18 years. For those who don’t know, Figment is a site where teenagers can go and share their writing. It’s an amazing and inspiring place and I only wish it had existed 20 years ago.
    2. Shoot over to Kidsmomo.com and check out their interview of me. They asked me to film a video to introduce myself and I decided to go all out. Keep in mind, there isn’t a single special effect in theentire thing. Amazing, I know. And there’s still time to enter their sweepstakes where you can score a couple signed books,
    3. That spooky time of year is once again upon us. The…World…Series! Oh yes, and Halloween is also coming up. In the spirit of the season, I contributed to something called “What Scares You” at the blog “Distraction No. 99.” This is a fantastic collection of tales and inspiration from writers of youth fiction. It was put together by Nova Ren Suma, author of the supremely spooky and lyrical Imaginary Girls. I’m honored to be a contributor. I won’t tell you much about the story, except that it’s designed to paralyze you with fear…and hopefully stunt your growth. Enjoy!
    4. Finally, I’ve been spending many hours and thousands of dollars on the latest trailer for The Only Ones. I probably spent more time on it than I did writing the book. I certainly spent all my advance money. Have a look, but be warned. Your life may never be the same again:

June 17, 2011

A Time-Traveling Oscar Wilde Tries His Hand at Twitter

Here we are. Here we go. Twitter. Curious, curious indeed. Start with a profile name. My own name should suffice. No need to be facetious. Clean, clear, unencumbered by accoutrements. Oscar. Wilde.

Rats. Taken. Chap looks quite a bit like me as well. No worries. No worries. You are a writer, my friend. Should be able to find a suitable alternative. WildeAtHeart? Too obvious. WildeChild?…come on now Oscar, aim higher. Pithy, to the point. You have got this!

Hmm….

Truth be told, Oscar, you have not, in fact, “got this.” No matter. OscarWilde1874 will have to suffice for now. Will aid the Trinity rascals in locating me. Can always adjust it later should the need arise.

And. We. Are. On. Curtains are up. An audience, however, is required, is it not? Perhaps I should “follow” some fellow luminaries and they will return the favor. Follow? More like lead! Jesting, of course! Let me see, let me see. Dickens. Nasty little bugger, but why not? Twain. Most certainly. I enjoy a homespun julep-inspired screed just as much as much as any filthy Yank. Followed!

Well, well, well. Lookie here. QueenVicki. Her majesty tweets? Goodness. Who knew? I must see this.

1st rule of club sandwichez iz you dont talk bout club sandwichez. LOL! #gettinmybaconon

What ever does that mean? One assumes it is a reference to the eponymous Earl and his mutton and bread proclivities. Yet it does not excuse it from making barely a farthing’s worth of sense. The bird is batty. We all know this. Her profile photograph is evidence. You cannot even discern her royal countenance. It is entirely lace and bosom and…

Good lord, I must click away. Prince Albert, I pity you not your death, but your life with this ample lump of monarch. Moving on.

What’s happening?

I suppose that is an invitation to share my adventures. Let me see, let me see. I did have a splendid sausage for breakfast. Perhaps I should…No, no. The world is not interested in my digestions. An advertisement, perhaps? An Ideal Husband is premiering at the Pawtucket Playhouse this weekend, after all. If there were a manner in which I could mention it without appearing boastful. Self deprecation may work. For example, “It may not be an ideal way to spend a Saturday, however–”

Hold the wireless, what do we have here? My first follower! FeliCiaXRj3480. Utter gibberish, but should she retweet my musings then I shall forgive her all her typesetting offenses. Hmm…appears she is interested in handbags and bloated genitals. Aren’t we all! I shall file her in a list titled DelightfullyDevilish and examine her enticements later.

For now, it might be helpful to study these Trends. #terribletheatre. That’s easy. Anything by George Bernard Shaw! I tease, Bernie, because I adore you. All naughtiness aside, clicking #terribletheatre and seeing what the masses proclaim would seem to be in order.

The Importance of Being Slam Dunk ErnestThe Real Housewives of Windsor? Oh I see! Puns. I can have a play at this. How about a raspberry directed at one of the classics? Sophocles could stand for some ribbing. Oedipus the Queen, anyone? No, that won’t do. Tyrannosaurs Rex? Will readers even get that?

You know what? If the public is having a go at me, I will best them by having a go at myself! How about Salamí by Oscar Wilde? A ribald reference to the cured Italian meat, while maintaining the accent mark over the vowel. Subtle and delicious! Before submitting, it might behoove me to check if anyone else has written an identically crafted tweet. Not at all likely, but the Westminter dandies are sure to howl plagiarism should this be the case.

Fifteen people! That is sobering indeed. It appears I am late for the gala on this one. Best to move on. Here is an idea. What about recycling one of my finer quips? A reminder to the plebes of what raised me to my current stature. Precisely. That will inspire both retweets and followings. Let me see, let me see. A joke fits the occasion, flavored of course with a wee bit of contrarianism.

People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to co…

Blasted character limit! Brevity is the soul of wit, but you could at least grant a fellow 160 characters! Heavens. This tweeting is exhausting. Maybe it is best to just share the contents of my breakfast. Or complain about the clammy weather and rancid absinthe in this sad excuse for a cabaret. No, no, wait. I have it. Yes! I have the most wonderfully perfect gem.

Anyone have a cure for a serious case of the Mondays? #canwejustskiprighttofridayalready?

Genius! Now all I have to do is press Tweet and the world will bask in–

A whale? Carried by sparrows? Ridiculous. The time approaches to be through with this nonsense. Methinks my examinations are better spent on the bottom of a whisky glass.  LOL.