The Light in L.A.

The New Yorker recently posted a video online (embedded above) taken from its show, which airs on Amazon. The video is based on one of my favorite pieces in the magazine: an article called “L.A. Glows,” written by Lawrence Weschler, and published in the February 23, 1998 issue of the magazine. (The issue theme was “California,” and it’s the only one of that theme I recall.) The article is here (requires a subscription).

It captures the wonder of light in Southern California (with a capitalized “S” because it is such a distinct region—as Carey McWilliams titled his book, “An Island on the Land”), and is really a wonderful read, both for the subject and the quality of the writing. For instance, it includes passages like this (from Coy Howard, and architect):

. . . when you have the kind of veiled light we get here more regularly you become aware of a sort of multiplicity—not illumination so much as luminosity. Southern California glows, not just all day but at night as well, and the opacity melts away into translucency, and even transparency.”

Ever since I read that passage I have wanted to be able to write like that. In my current work in progress, California Incline, I often talk about the sky. A lot of bloggers who give writing advice warn against overusing weather as a metaphor for a character’s mood. But when a story is set in L.A., the sky is a character. Describing it doesn’t so much reflect on the human characters, as give the reader a description of the ethereal character that hovers over the human actors.

So at different points I include short passages like these:

High clouds had drifted onshore, covering downtown; a veiled sun in a nacre sky softened the edges of the city with pearlescent light.”

Uphill, toward Hope Street, lay a fountain watched over by a bronze nude against an amber-blue sky streaked with Van Gogh clouds, wisps whipped to shreds at the ends.”

Even the sky looked washed out, threadbare blue with bleachmark clouds.”

Not quite the level of poetry found throughout the Weschler article, but I hope enough to give some character to the light.

Of course, for a cross-cultural perspective on L.A. light, you have Miami Ray Bones (Dennis Farina) in Get Shorty:

 They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets.”

In  any case, I strongly recommend the Weschler article if you can get a chance to read it.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in California Incline, Fiction, Novel Writing, 0 comments

Will Kill for Food is a Winner

Black Hill PressBlack Hill Press  just announced the winners of the Summer Writing Project, and Will Kill for Food is one of the three. That means the novella will be published in early December.

I want to thank everyone who reading the story at JukePop. The first two rounds, semi-final (12 finishers) and final (6 finishers), were determined solely by number of readers and the amount of time the readers spent on the page. I don’t know how the editors chose the final three, but I literally could not have won this contest without your support.

The publisher is working on the cover and I’ll post that on my blog when it’s finalized. In the meantime, Black Hill Press has created a holder page for the book. You can see it here.

Now, if any of you know a literary agent for my novel The Rides of March,  please let me know . . .

Thanks again everyone for all your support.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in Fiction, Will Kill for Food, 0 comments

5 Reasons to Publish with JukePop

JukePoP SerialsI’m not a huge fan of “X Reasons” blog posts, but it seems appropriate in this case. I stumbled on JukePop by way of Black Hill Press and the Summer Writing Project, and published my story “Will Kill for Food” chapter by chapter. Until then, I had only shared my works in progress with a few people, and strictly on a For Your Eyes Only basis. Publishing with JukePop has been a huge boost to my ability to see, and to present, myself as a writer. It’s a tremendous resource for  any new writer looking to take that giant first step into publishing.

So, the reasons . . .


Reason 1: Get Naked

Publishing a story and asking people you know to read it is a little bit like going up to their door stark naked, knocking, and asking them what they think. It’s one thing to leak chapters to people whose opinion (and tact) you trust. It’s another to post it online, ask friends, family, and others who might be less understanding, and likely more judgmental, about what you’re spending your time on to read and comment. It’s a lot scarier.

At some point you have to make that leap. JukePop offers new writers that opportunity. People read, comment, vote (or don’t vote). And in my case, many wrote directly to me (rather than post their comments on the site) their thoughts and support.


Reson 2: Get Connected

JukePop is all about interaction. The front page of the site is a feed of comments on stories. Everything about the site encourages readers to vote and comment.

The writers on the site are an active group. Within days of posting my first chapter, writers of other serials on the site welcomed me to the site and commented on my work. In turn, I read parts of their stories, even though most were from genres that don’t really interest me. I also started interacting with these same authors on Twitter.

That is not to say that JukePop will boost your Twitter numbers. Rather, it increases your chances of developing higher quality connections in Twitter and elsewhere.


Reason 3: Get Feedback

JukePop is also all about metrics. Not only how many people are reading your story, but more importantly, how JukePop metricsmany read through to the end of each chapter. You get demographics (gender, age, location), view and vote trends, average reading times per chapter. You can view the data for each chapter to see how your readers responded. Really a wealth of information to inform you about the habits of your readership. The author interface allows writers to edit their stories, so you can respond to comments by editing your story and asking for more comments on your revisions.


Reason 4: Get into Libraries

JukePop is working with public libraries to supply quality, self-published stories. If your story meets the criteria, it could be selected and become available at one of the participating libraries. How cool is that?


Reason 5: Get Money

JukePop offers a couple of ways for authors to earn money. Authors can add a “Support the Author” button to their chapters, or can offer some chapters for free and require a fee to unlock others. Also, JukePop pays authors who are in the top 30 vote-getting stories each month.None of this is enough to quit your day job. But as any writer knows, every little bit of support helps.

There are other reasons to publish with JukePop, of course. These, to me, are the highlights. Oh, with one addition. My interactions with the editor have all been great. Welcoming, professional, responsive. This isn’t a big machine. It’s justpeople, like the rest of us, who enjoy good writing and want to do more to get it out there for people to read.

Posted by Scott Alumbaugh in Fiction, Will Kill for Food, 2 comments