Lovett

Lovett

It’s been a while since I regularly updated my blog, and that’s only because I’m usually writing fiction, instead. But here are a few random thoughts about Lovett, the story I’ve been posting to Wattpad about a boy band with a very dark secret.

1) the inspiration for Alisdair is a male model named Edward Wilding, who you can follow on Instagram (you’re welcome). And of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that at least 5% of Alisdair’s personality is Harry Styles.

Edward Wilding

Edward Wilding

2) If you haven’t already guessed what Lovett’s secret is, here’s a clue:  the history of the surname Lovett is a variation on the word louvet, the Anglo-French word for “young wolf.”

3) If you’re still unsure of what happens to the boys of Lovett at night, here’s an even bigger clue, from The Cramps:

Initiation: written for The Gallows

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I’ve been so insanely busy since moving to LA that I didn’t have time to post anything to my blog about Initiation Night, the short story I wrote in support of The Gallows over the summer!

It was a total thrill to be involved in the film’s marketing campaign because The Gallows is exactly the kind of horror movie I love: gritty, realistic, and almost impossible to watch because you know scary sh*t’s going to happen every other second.

When asked if I’d be interested in writing a scary story in support of the movie, I immediately knew I wanted to borrow a few details from the film. A small town, a local legend, and kids creeping around a building at night: check, check, check. I combined those elements from a custom in my own hometown of high school seniors initiating freshmen at a seedy carnival on Labor Day Weekend, and worked with a very cool filmmaker in my own hometown, Lloyd Emmons, to shoot some trailers to accompany the story.

Since my professional background is in digital marketing, I think Wattpad’s approach to allowing brands to engage with readers is brilliant. First, it allows authors to introduce their readers to brands’ content within a context of a more welcomed, social “share” than a forced advertisement. Authors can then build their readers’ appetites for the branded experience (whether it’s a movie or TV show, etc.) in such a way that makes their readers genuinely curious about the product being advertised. Quite a few kids posted comments on Initiation Night asking if my story was the same as The Gallows and were intrigued that the stories were related – enough to express interest in seeing the movie on opening weekend.

Wattpad has put together a case study on the campaign here:

http://blog.wattpad.com/2015/12/01/brand-stories-spotlight-the-gallows/

LA update: the cure for homesickness

New York

Since arriving in Los Angeles in November, I’ve had several heart pangs over missing the sidewalk bustle in Boerum Hill every morning, my beloved deli guy, Peter (below after winning $20 off me when I bet against Germany during the World Cup), snow, and being able to meander around at two A.M. without being the only person awake and addressing life stuff at that hour.

Waiting for the F train

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world-famous Peter at the Dreams Gourmet Deli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still not really into the swing of LA life yet, but I’m trying to comfort myself with reassurances that day by day, NY loses the charm that made me fall in love with it in the first place. Today, I read that Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery is probably going to close.  Back in my youth (when rabble-rousing and drinking in Ludlow Street until 4AM at the now-defunct Max Fix was called “wilding”), this was The Place to fill one’s belly for less than $5 with a broccoli knish that weighed as much as a brick and an egg cream to wash it down. This was a dinner that fueled many penny-pinching party animals’ crazy nights, contributing in no small part to the legacy of the neighborhood by probably saving many of us from alcohol poisoning. If this rumor is true, farewell, Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery. May ye rest in peace alongside Bereket.

And for anyone who thinks that city treasures like this one can reinvent themselves successfully, they can’t. They can’t, a million times, I insist. The new Max Fish seems like it’s just a bunch of Look at This Fucking Hipster set to the tune of this: Ninjasonik’s Picture Party. (sidenote: This ain’t Misshapes, y’all are messed up might just be the most NYC-correct song lyric of the last 15 years).

Things that are no longer in NYC for me to miss

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The last time I moved away from NYC (before moving back, two years later) these were things I dearly missed during my time in LA:

1) Original Ray’s pizza on 6th Ave & 11th (now gone)

2) Late night dinner/early breakfast at Yaffa Cafe (now gone)

3) Brunch at Grange Hall (now long gone)

4) Movies at the Angelika (hasn’t been renovated since I was in college, bathrooms are intolerable)

5) Bendix Diner (now gone in both locations)

6) Drinkin’ at Motor City Lodge, Luna Lounge, Max Fish (all three… gone)

7) Seeing shows at the Mercury Lounge (now totally douche-ified)

8) Watching the sun rise from my rooftop in the East Village (can’t afford the East Village anymore)

9) Chilling at the Scratcher (still there, but Scottish Mark is famous now and Karl Geary is off doing Breaking Bad types of things)

10) Seeing NYC classics like Vincent Gallo and Moby strolling around (long gone)

OUIJA: Room 9 and my real-life ghost story

New York, Writing, YA Fiction

I was pretty flattered to have been asked by Wattpad to contribute a story in support of Universal Pictures’ theatrical release of Ouija: The Movie. The only requirement for the story’s plot was that it feature a ouija board.

Seriously… no problem.

When I was a student at NYU, it was common knowledge that the school’s biggest freshman dorm, Rubin Hall, had been an apartment building before being converted into the Hotel Grosvenor in 1925, and then was turned into a dormitory in 1964.

Assigned to a room on the twelfth floor as a freshman, I hear rumors about strange occurrences on other floors all the time. There was (terrifyingly) one corner room at the end of a dark hallway that was sealed and unavailable for student occupancy, and as far as any residents knew, it always had been. Equally scary was room 903. The girls who lived there said that the water in the bathroom dripped constantly from the sink and tub unless you marched in there and demanded that it stop. Then, it did. Without fail. Items went missing in that room, doors closed on their own. The occupants never felt unsafe, but were all convinced that the room was haunted by a benevolent ghost who just enjoyed messing with them. He, who they called Stanley, just wanted attention.

This was the early nineties, a few years before all college students had their own computers and could easily Google the history of their dorm room assignment. The stories about the haunted rooms at Rubin were passed down in a vocal history that spanned decades. Another common rumor about the hotel was that Mark Twain had once lived there back when it was a hotel, and that Rick Rubin began his career as a music producer in his own room there, hosting parties at which the Beastie Boys were in attendance (sources are conflicted on the latter rumor, as it’s also believed that Def Jam originated a few blocks away at Weinstein Hall).

I did not have a ghostly disturbance in my room freshman year, although I did have two bothersome roommates. However, my luck ran out the summer between sophomore and junior years when I landed in Room 903 by myself for a few weeks. Like the girls I’d known as a freshman, I never felt like I was surrounded by an evil presence in the room, but I also never felt… alone.

My experience that summer inspired my contribution to the Ouija marketing campaign, Room 9C, which quickly found a fan in Poland who asked Universal Pictures if she could translate it into Polish.

Ouija cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Room 9C in Polish

 

Famous People I Have Seen in Cobble Hill

New York

1) Ethan Hawk rushed past the Starbucks on Court and Dean once on a hot summer day and all of the middle-aged yoga moms inside the coffee shop freaked and were fanning themselves.

2) Paul Dano regularly frequented my Court Street deli at the same odd hours as I did. He’s very cool.

3) Paul’s girlfriend, Zoe, occasionally got coffee at the other Starbucks in the hood on Smith. Like Paul, she seems cool.

4) Michael Shannon often goes running in the neighborhood when he’s in town. He is both handsome and imposing to encounter in person. Basically, imagine seeing General Zod out for a jog.

5) Once, Robin Williams was shooting The Angriest Man in Brooklyn and I didn’t realize when I went into Pacific Green to buy yogurt that he was waiting in there for his cue. It makes me sad to even recall that morning, but we had a little moment where we exchanged glances because I was (naturally) surprised and he made me feel like I was in on a terrific secret without even saying a word.  What a huge loss to the world that he’s no longer here.

6) Keri Russell, too many times to list. Sometimes you might refer to a woman as “pretty” or “beautiful” and you might definitely be using the most accurate word, but neither of those words do Keri Russell justice. She is gorgeous beyond description.

7) James Iha, who was getting off the A train at Hoyt Schermerhorn and looked pretty lost.

8) Paul Giamatti, too many times to list. I have nothing to report on him, as he gives off a “don’t talk to me vibe,” which he is probably 100% right to do.

9) The original Becky from Roseanne. That chick used to be out and about all the time. One night, we made drunken plans once to go to Niagara Falls together in the morning because she’d never been. For the record, that trip never materialized.

I’ve never run into famous Brooklyn Heights resident Bjork, and not for lack of persistent trying. I’ve also never run into Nora Jones, Alexis Bledel, or Michael Pitt. My friend saw M.I.A. at the snooty French bakery on Smith Street, but I wasn’t around that day. I also used to see Michelle Williams all the time before she moved to Red Hook, but it seems weird to include her in the list because it was so long ago.

Movies I Will One Day Write About My Neighbors

Annoyances, New York

Living in New York City is full of many perils (crime, vermin, subway derailments, etc). Life here also offers a great many annoyances, most of which are related to the fact that there are far too many people living here, crammed into buildings that are rapidly falling into rack and ruin.  Even the most pleasant of neighbors can become a most hated enemy in a matter of hours if a leaky faucet, raucous party, lonely dog, or toothing toddler are involved.

Here is a list of movies I will one day (maybe today) write about my apartment building neighbors, past and present:

1) The Alcoholic Wore Tap Shoes

2) 365 Days of Furniture Rearrangement

3) Colic (a horror movie)

4) Saturday Night Minstrel Jam (tagline: Why book a gig when someone has a living room?)

5) Vampire Methheads

6) 4AM Lockout (tagline: Carlos discovers that sometimes people DO sleep in the city that never sleeps, specifically at 4AM when the locksmith comes over with a power drill)

7) The Endless Break-Up

8) The Asthmatic in the Sixth Floor Walk-Up

9) The Boys Next Door (Love the Beastie Boys)

10) The Rooftop Party Empire

Breaking hearts, enchanting minds

Light as a Feather, Writing, YA Fiction

Every author likes to imagine her reader reaching the last page of a book and wondering how life will possibly go on now that the story has ended.

Or, at least, that’s one of my favorite fantasies (mine, truthfully, are more elaborate, involving tears, negotiations with God, and a slow descent into madness). When I reached the last page of The Goldfinch, I stared at my Kindle for a good half hour wondering how on earth I could continue on with affairs not knowing what becomes of Boris.  This is not a new phenomenon. As a teenage I cried for an entire weekend at the end of Tiger Eyes.

My fantasy has sort of become a reality, because I hurriedly posted the last chapter of the interim sequel to Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board that I’ve been writing for the Wattpad community on Sunday, and madness ensued.

Here, for your enjoyment, are some of the comments.

jadox

Jeraldfaelnar KaciDanielle Keysiheart Leilani163 madika101 michk96

A New Cover, and Tips for Writing for YA

Light as a Feather, Writing, YA Fiction

My paranormal romance for teens, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, was published just about a year ago, and to switch things up, we changed the cover last week. I think readers approve, because it’s suddenly #1 on the Amazon free teen paranormal romance and Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00036]horror lists. Exciting!

Here are a few things that I’ve noticed from readers’ comments that I never would have guessed as a novice YA writer. Use them to either avoid pitfalls, or capitalize on what I’ve learned!

1) if the prose of your book contains the words “one” and “direction,” whether you were intentionally trying to reference the boy band or not, female readers will find those two words together and freak out instantly.

2) if you develop a cute, emo teen boy love interest, threatening his life or killing him off will provoke a greater reaction from your readers than anything else that might happen in your story, including having your heroine die, commit terrible sins, or experience dire hardship (John Greene co-signs this point, with Augustus as evidence).

3) teen girls actually really like feisty, strong-willed female characters. In writing this book, I didn’t think too much about the sharp-witted, pint-sized character Mischa, but because she’s the most outspoken character in the book, she’s by far the readers’ favorite. There’s an abundance of wishy-washy female characters in YA, and this generation of teen readers doesn’t identify with them.

4) Female readers will discover and invent references to pop culture influences in their own lives whether you want them to or not. There’s no need to load your book up with mentions of Austin Mahone, the Beebs, Harry Styles, or whatever style sneakers kids happen to be wearing today. Mahone fans will find context in your work even if you try to avoid it. How can you possibly memorize every single lyric? You can’t. You don’t have to, your readers have already done it.