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

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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!

Talking God In Fiction: The Perfect Way to Start a Fight

Before I start I want to thank Sofia and James for following my blog. Sofia blogs with three other writers about books and writing and all sorts of sweet stuff, while James has a YA novel called Seiðman (It’s got Vikings!) coming out in 2013. You guys are forever my favorites for following.

So a couple of days ago I posted something on this here bloggity blog about hitting the Internets with a blog tour. The purpose of blog tours, as some of you nice folks might know, is to get your voice to a bunch of peeps who’ve likely got no clue as to who you are.

I was perusing the webs today and found a blog tour post on Marissa Meyer’s blog (she’s the author of the NYT best seller, Cinder) from Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer (it comes out today from Crescent Moon Press). Ritchey’s post is all about religion and spirituality in fiction–the kind of stuff that gets people ready to throw down in fisticuffs, you know? Normally I stay shy on the subject of god(s) because of how people tend to get their panties in a twist, but I’d say this post is def worth a looksie.

What’s your take on spirituality in fiction? Do stories involving god get you super stoked or ticked off?