Guest Post by Aaron Michael Ritchey: The Horror of the B+ and the Terror of the Pretty Good

What’s good, peeps? Today I have something super dooper special–a little somethin’ somethin’ from my dude Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer. Check it out, and make sure to give his book a gander.

Scott J. Clemons.  Yes.  That is his name.  However, it might be my name, too.  What’s the old song?  John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt?  I’ll stop now.  If you know the song, you are already singing it in your head, which is a sign of madness.

Scott and I hit it off because we just might be the same person.  When he offered me a chance to guest blog, I thought it would be kind of redundant.  But then we talked on the phone for an hour, and I had a flash of what I could write about.  And here I am.

I’m a complicated man.  Like Shaft, no one understands me but my woman.  And even she might be jivin’ me.

When I get done writing, I am either the most brilliant author to ever string words together, or I am a hack who should be muted and stuck in a hole.  I am either on top of the pile of writers, lording over them, or struggling underneath, looking for more mud to eat.

My wife videotaped me saying I was a good writer.  She had to.  Because when I’m in the dumps, I truly don’t remember anything good I’ve ever written, and it drives her insane.  John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt madness.  It’s a diagnosis in the DSM V.  I’m a child of a psychotherapist.  I know.

Talking with Scott, he said something similar, but I won’t out his crazy.  I’m here to talk about my own.  Yes, there are times I have wanted to throw in the towel, leave writing forever, and do something constructive with my time, like watch more baseball, or rescue puppies from burning buildings.

Because again, I’m either the best or the worst.  I should either quit my job and write full time, or I should never write again and look into a career as a puppy rescuer.

The truth is, I’m pretty good.  Not great, but definitely not in the “I should be killed for writing” camp.  Pretty good.  Which is a hard place to be for me.  In school, I either wanted an A+, or I wanted an F-.  When I got a B+, I would rage.  B+!  What the hell is a B+ good for?  Absolutely nothin’, say it again.

I’m a good enough writer to be published.  My debut novel, The Never Prayer, was shoved out into the world on March 29, 2012.  And you would think my stupid head would be satisfied.  But here is the lesson I’m learning—my stupid head will never be satisfied.

My mind is a tool.  It can help me plot my stories, it can create wacky characters, it can help me with the craft of writing, but it can’t help me with meaning.

Call it spirit, call it soul, call it what you want, but there is another part of me, not my mind, that knows the truth.  How I stack up in the grand pile of authors doesn’t much matter in the end.  I need to embrace the books I write, love them, and sing my songs to the world.  Yes, my voice might crack.  Yes, the Simon Cowell’s of the world might criticize me, but when I write, I am taking part in the sacred art of storytelling.  That transcends the stupid extremes of my thought-life.  It transcends me.  As it should.

Henry Miller said that the only reward for writing is writing.  If I’m good, I should write.  If I’m bad, I should write.  If I’m pretty good, I should write.  If I have a story to tell, I should write, no matter what.

And if you read my book, The Never Prayer, and give me a B+, well, logically speaking, that’s better than a C.  And if I touched you at all with my story?  That’s better than any grade ever.

Thanks, Scott, for letting me invade your blog.  Have you seen the other sock we wore last Saturday night?  I can’t tell if it’s in Colorado or Tacoma.  Or someplace in between.

For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer.  And I tweet – @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

If you are a try before you buy type of cat, hit me here for an excerpt: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/TheNeverPrayer.html

Aaron Michael Ritchey

Advertisements

Guest Posts, Free Comics, and Losing Interest in Insurgent

What’s good, people? I’m hitting this bloggity blog thing around 11:50 PM because I have been wicked swamped with a million and a half things this weekend. However, I do have some super sweet shiznit to drop on here that I’m excited for!

So first, I talked to another writer friend of mine and he has agreed to do a guest post on my blog. Hooray! My first guest post! I’m kind of stoked about it–mostly just because I think it’s super cool that someone actually wants to do a guest post on here. That guest post thingy should be coming as soon as this week (hint hint, mysterious friend) but we’ll see because I know he is fricken busy hyping his book to the masses. Me, I’d love to do a guest post, but seeing as I’m haven’t really done much to warrant someone asking me I’m not really expecting the requests to start pouring in.

Second thingy to talk about is how awesome Free Comic Book Day was. Not only did I pick up a Firefly book for FREE, I also picked up the first few issues of Animal Man in trade, albeit not free. That’s okay though because everybody is talking about how this Animal Man book is dope as all get out so I’m pretty much looking forward to getting into it and seeing what’s up. Here’s a link to the covers of a couple free Dark Horse comics they were giving out. The Serenity one is there, plus a badass Star Wars book.

Third order of business, I still haven’t finished Insurgent. I don’t know what it is but I have kind of stalled out on this book. And seeing as I’m the sort of dude that doesn’t giving a flying frakk about dropping a book midway through if it starts to suck..well, you can guess where that’s going. Like I said in my post the other day, the first half of the book was pretty sweet (especially the description of Candor headquarters). I just hope something starts to happen besides the blah blah blah of Tris’ internal dialogue. Just sayin’.

And last, I have two things, which I guess means that there is one more thing and then the next thing is last. Okay, you know what I mean so stop trying to confuse me. The first (of the last) is that I want to thank a new follower to the bloggity, The Armchair Author. I’m not sure if said Author of Armchairs is a lady or a fella, but thanks a lot for the follow, you evader of gender denotative pronouns. The last of the last two things was that my book is progressing again. Finally, right? I don’t know what it was but my writing took a nose dive into a pile of bricks the other day and I’m just now getting back into the groove. Good times, right? You ever get into one of those not-sweet grooves where your creativity seems to have packed it’s handmade vintagey carpetbag and split town?

So that’s it, human people. I forgot to mention that I might lay off the quotes for a while because I feel like it’s taking away from other stuff and I don’t know if anyone really even gives a crap about them. I guess I’d be willing to keep them going if you guys like them. Otherwise it’s ix-nay on the otes-quay.

Another Sick Day: Staying Home to Read Insurgent

You need this book, dude.

I think you should know there’s, like, a ton of spoilers in this post. And not the good kind of spoilers, like when your grandma used to buy you tons of candy even when your parents told her not to.

For a guy with a solid immune system I sure seem to get sick a lot. Totally left-field for me, I swear. Usually I get one super nasty bug and then I’m Superman for the rest of the year. Not this time though. The Übermensch of cold viruses decided to invade my nasal passages two times this season just to remind me that it could make me its baby boy biatch whenever it wants.

The upside of having a license to ill (that’s a Beastie Boy reference there, FYI) is that I get to stay home from work and do nothing all day–and by “nothing” I mean read Veronica Roth’s new book, Insurgent. Don’t be jelly, people! I’m about 50% through this thing (gotta love the progress counter thingy on the Kindle, right?) and I’ve got a few first impressions to share with all you peeps. I’m assuming you all know the gist of the Divergent Trilogy story line so I’ll just skip the whole synopsis thing and get straight to what I think so far.

The Good: The dialogue has been super dope from the start. The tension between Tris and Four was totally believable, and the snappy banter between Tris and the other Dauntless–especially Uriah–had me cracking up. The description of various places was totally off the chain too. The way Roth laid out the Amity headquarters made me feel like I was right there, strolling under the thick canopy in the orchard. And the way she described the Candor headquarters with the black and white everywhere? Get outta here! What a fricken awesome way to decorate the headquarters of the faction that sees only truth and lies, right? Actually, the way she has painted the headquarters of all the factions has been beyond pro, each one reflecting the character of the faction members. So well done, Ms. Roth.

The Meh: The only thing I thought was a little bit of shenanigans was how seriously mature Tris seemed at times. Perfect example: the scene toward the beginning where she and Tobias were about to do the no-pants dance, but Tris puts the kibosh on old Mr. Grabby Hands before he made it to second. Tris says something about how she doesn’t want to get freaky with him because she feels like its for the wrong reasons, namely to distract herself from her grief. This, I didn’t buy.

Before you get all worked up let me explain what I mean. I get that some people mature faster than others. I, for instance, still get a kick out of typing 58008 on old calculators and then turning then upside down. The thing is, Tris seems waaaay too insightful for a sixteen-year old with almost zero life experience. I know she saw some serious trauma in the last book, but I don’t think that accounts for some of the next level introspection that Tris has going on. Maybe it’s possible for a kid to be that mature, but I just think it’s unlikely.

But hey, what do I know? Girls are supposed to mature faster than guys anyways, right?

So yeah, that’s where I’m at for now. I know I’m the new mayor of Sucksville for breaking my own rules and not posting on Monday, but I like I said, I was super dooper sick. As soon as I finish this book I’m going to be up on here giving you the low down on Veronica Roth’s next installment.

Until then, Dear Reader. G’night.

[image sourced here]

YA, Comics, Writing, & Reboots: Blogging About Everything at Once

What’s the good word, peoples? It’s Wednesday again, my second day of the week for some bloggity blog action. This is the second Wednesday I’ve stuck to my new plan (take that, blog laziness!) and so I’m pretty stoked on that. And seeing as I haven’t been cranking out the bloggity blog posts so much lately, I have a grip of stuff write about.

First, I need to do some griping about this new let’s-reboot-everything-ever-made mentality that has been rocking through Hollywood. You already know what I mean. Those buns of sitches are redoing Red Dawn, Superman, Battlestar Galactica, and Spiderman (again). They’re even ruining rebooting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, except the four bros won’t be mutants, but aliens.

Aliens? Are you effing kidding me? How are there going to be turtles from another planet? Granted, pizza crazed mutant turtles with the ability to process speech and walk upright is a bit of a stretch, but it’s a stretch I grew up loving so that makes it okay. The point is that I’ve got a deep emotional connection to this stuff and these rapscallions are twisting them up for their own evil goals. It’s a travesty, man. As the Dude would say, “This aggression will not stand, man!”

Okay, maybe it’ll stand. But that doesn’t mean I won’t gripe about it some more. Moving on.

In other new releases, I’m kinda sorta super stoked to go and check out Joss Whedon’s new movie, The Cabin in the Woods. For reals, I am a total fanboy when it comes to pretty much all things created by The Whedon. I’ve been getting into watching Dollhouse lately and it is actually pretty legit. Lots of people seem to hate on that show because the first season was wicked slow, but if you let it get into the second season you’ll get your head flipped becase of how wild the plot gets going. As for The Cabin in the Woods, my wife saw it the other day (without me! WTF is that?) and came back with a little bit of a meh review as to how it ended. She did say the rest of the movie was solid–kind of a mish-mash of different horror characters and weird blood sacrifice stuff. And seriously, when has blood sacrifice ever been a bad thing?

As for my book, the thing is coming along at a decent pace. It’s weird because this time around I feel like I’m learning a whole new way to write a book (maybe it’s because I’m learning a whole new way to write a book?) and the process of doing it is as frustrating and gratifying as the first one. I’m still barely over 30,000 words but that’s only because I had to go back and make some serious changes to what I’d written at about the 10,000 word mark. You know how characters can get, right? Getting all screwy as the story comes along. I was going to leave them be and fix it all when the draft is done but I just couldn’t leave the bastards be. It gnawed on me for so long that I had to go back and rewrite the whole damn chapter to make things work.

Anyways, that’s about it. I want to say thanks to my dude at Five Reflections for following my blog. You rule, dude.

Okay two last things:

  1. You really ought to check out this newish comic from Image called Saga, written by one of the guys who wrote for Lost (I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing on your opinion, but whatever). Here’s a link to this article about it that you should really click because it will make your life more rich and full.
  2. The Never Prayer is wicked sweet so far and I’m super stoked I picked it up. I’m going to have a full review of this thing when I get done, but that might be a while because I’m reading a gazillion things right now.

That’s it. Scott, out.

Article 5, The Never Prayer, and Me Holding a Baby

Holy guacamole, I am about as tired as you can get, but I’m going to fight this sleep a little more as I really want to stick to this new plan of blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

So I’ve finally gotten to a new book after plowing through Kristen SimmonsArticle 5 a few days ago. If you haven’t checked that book out then you probably should stop whatever you’re doing and get it. The book follows the story of a girl living in this post-WWIII America where a Christian theocracy has come into power. Are you freaked yet?

In this Santorumesque world, the government has suspended the Bill of Rights, opting for a simpler–albeit wicked brutal–set of rules called the Moral Statutes. These new statutes totally screw over everybody who A.) isn’t Christian, and/or B.) doesn’t have a penis. The opening scene totally dragged me in, kicking off with the protagonist getting ripped away from her mom because of the institution of the latest statute–Article 5. This new rule literally makes it a crime to have been born out of wedlock. How bad would that suck, right? Seeing as I don’t like being a book spoiler, I’m going to leave the plot outline there and hope you’re hooked enough to check this thing out.

While I was reading this book I kept thinking it was like a YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale, except with more forbidden teen romance in place of the subjugation of women and the Orwellian destruction of language. Not to say Simmons’ worldbuilding lacked anything, but Atwood’s vision of a Judeo-Christian theocracy in the United States is more brutal than Norwegian black metal. That thing makes all these YA dystopian settings look like a five-year old’s vision of Candyland rather than a post-apocalyptic autocratic state.

Still though, I think Article 5 totally shoots and scores on what I think it was aiming to do: be a romantic YA novel that touches on current issues involving religion and its place in the political conversation if it is left to run rampant. And if thats what Simmons was aiming for then I think she totally kicked ass at it. Well done, Kristen!

So yeah, I need to do some talking about this new book I’ve been getting into from Aaron M. Ritchey called The Never Prayer. Let me be straight with you becuase when I saw that this book had angels in it I was a bit hesitant to pick the thing up. Not that I don’t like paranormal stuff–Lord knows I love me some paranormality–but when it comes to angels my brain goes straight to romance. And not the super dramatic let’s-kill-ourselves-and-be-together-forever kind of romance (that stuff can be cool) but rather the sparkly vampire kind, know what I mean?

I’m stoked to say that so far I’ve been wrong. This book doesn’t have any sparkles at all so far, which is a total plus for me. I’m only a couple of chapters in–my stupid Kindle kept updating–but so far I get the idea that there’s some risqué stuff going on with the girl we’re following. I’m talking risqué as in she could have had a song written about her by The Police, asking her not to “turn on the red light.” You picking up what I’m putting down? I hope so.

Yep, that's me holding a baby.

So yeah, that’s about it. I want to apologize right now if any parts of this post are screwy as I am about to fall asleep on my keyboard. Also, check out this picture of me holding a baby. Every time someone let’s me hold their baby I always start to think, “Man, I need one of these.”

Have a good night!

Embarrass Your Way Into Better Writing

You know when you do something wicked stupid and you wish there was a way to wave a wand and obliviate the memory from everyone who saw it? For some people it might just be one dumb thing, you know? For instance, after sucking back one too many wine coolers, one of my high school friends decided a strip-tease rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was what a party needed.

Okay, that didn’t happen. But you’re tracking on what I mean, right?

While everybody has a natural tendency to push these sorts of memories into the never-see-daylight parts of their brains, there are the silly fools like me who capitalize on those moments of crippling shame (as evidenced here). See, I’m of the mind that experience with shame and embarrassment are just as vital to creating genuine characters as experience with love and happiness. When I write about a character getting smashed by a bully, I draw from my own feelings with the same thing–being the smashee, not the smasher–and throw them onto the page like I just went through it. That’s the only way I can roll, otherwise I end up with a manuscript full phonies.

How do you feel about this? Do you dump your feelings onto the page or are you the type to hold back?

Only Crazies Don’t Like Free Stuff

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Crazy people, that’s who. Whether it’s a signed book or a flimsy little bookmark, getting free swag is always a kick in the knickers.

So it’s with FREE in mind that I write to you, Dear Reader. For the last few days I’ve been perusing the Internets for a few of the awesomest YA giveaways out there and I figured I’d post a few here to give everybody a chance to get in on the fun.

  1. Veronica Roth’s Giveaway of Many 4’s — The author of Divergent and the soon-to-hit-the-shelves YA novel Insurgent is giving away four ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of Insurgent and four copies of Divergent to four lucky folks. This is a whole new level of dopeness.
  2. Aaron M. Ritchey — This cool cat just did a guest post on Marissa Meyer’s blog and is giving away a signed copy of his debut novel The Never Prayer to one lucky commenter. Get on there and leave a comment!
  3. YA Scavenger Hunt — This thing has already kicked off so you better get rolling if you want to get in on it. They’re giving away twenty signed books. Is your mind blown? I hope so.
  4. Forever Girl Giveaway — Rebecca Hamilton, the author of this book, just started following me on the Twitter machine. I’m glad I decided to follow her back because I found out about this neat giveaway of her book. Take a looksie if you live you some Urban Fantasy.
  5. Ex Libris Giveaway for Chopsticks — One day left on this one, friends! Head on over to the Ex Libris site to get in on the power of free.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to check out the links and drop your name in the hat.