Friday, October 29, 2010

Weird Friday: A Cryptic Message from Snow White

Sometimes, when you're arse-deep in the middle of revisions, it's good to have crazy friends who text you pictures of themselves looking like this:

And leave you a message like this:

My favorite part is when she starts cracking up at the end of the message. When I asked her if I could use it on my blog, she called Sam and left him this message:

She's one of those people who can crack me up consistently, and her blog is hilarious. 

So, tell me, do you know Shellie? Do you have a friend like Shellie?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

White Stuff on my Lawn, and Veiled Threats from Kid B's Teacher

Merry hump day.

Well, today I woke up to this in my front yard:

And this in my back:

(I know, every year I think, "This year will be the year I actually dismantle the trampoline...)

I know what it looks like... The Perfect Day for Revising!

But Kid B is home with a "cough". As in, his teachers sent home a subtle note yesterday.

"At the end of the day, Kid B seemed very tired. His nose was runny, and he coughed a bit. He might be getting sick."

If there was a "P.S." on the note, it would not read like this:

"But if he's feeling better tomorrow, send him for sure!"

It would read like this:

"If you send him, and he even clears his throat funny, you will be forever known as THAT MOM WHO SENDS HER SICK KID TO SCHOOL, THEREBY RECKLESSLY INFECTING EVERYONE ELSE. I know what you're thinking... Chances are that he could go to school, and be just fine. But you have to ask yourself one question: do you feel lucky? Punk?"

I don't know if I'm reading too much into it. Sam says I've been known to be a little dramatic. But when I mentioned that Kid B could go to school, and try it out for the morning, a little bead of sweat formed on Sam's forehead, and slowly trickled down his cheek, and fell off his chin, splashing loudly on the kitchen floor, where it pooled, reflecting the concern in Sam's face.

Stop calling me dramatic!

So, how is all y'all's week going? Anyone else out there scared of their kids' teachers?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Questions from the Question-Maker: Where do I get my Ideas? And more!

Good Monday, yo.
It's a cold, rainy day today, and the mountain right outside my house is covered in snow.
Perfect day to curl up with a good book. Too bad I'll be working on revisions.
Anytime I get asked the same questions over and over, I like to include them on the blog. So, maybe this will be a Monday feature or something. 

BAM! Just like that, I have a weekly feature. Blogs are magical! I say it at home, in my kitchen, and it becomes so. 

Time for our first weekly...


QM: Where do you get your ideas?

This is, probably, by far the most common question I've gotten, and I know other authors get asked it a billion times, a billion different ways.

My favorite way the question has been asked comes from my mother-in-law right after she finished reading my book:

"I had no idea what's been going on in that head of yours!"

Okay, so it's not a question, but anywho... I thought I'd answer it here.

My book is partially based on a few myths, namely Persephone and then Orpheus and Eurydice. It's okay if you don't know anything about these myths, because I didn't set out to write a book based on myths.

I started my book because I had a scene in my head: A girl, who has just returned to her high school after a 4 month absence. She's completely changed, barely recognizable, a shell of her former self. Nobody knows where she's been, not even the boy she left behind.

So, what is that first day back like? Is there someone at the school she's dying to see again? And most importantly, where had she been that would completely destroy her like that?

I'll admit, I wrote a good portion of the book before I had any of the answers, especially about where she'd been.  It was only then that I knew this story was based on the myth of Persephone. 

This might be a backward way to approach a book, but I can't sit down at the computer and go, "Okay, so I like the Persephone myth... How can I apply that to a contemporary high school setting?" Because then there'd be no element of surprise, no passion behind the book.
QM: Are all the answers going to be that long?


QM: You're in the middle of revisions. What if your editor wants you to change something that you don't want to change? Can she make you?

She can't make me. But the guys with the guns she sends to my house can make me. 

The way I view editorial suggestions/changes is this: Even if I don't agree with the suggestion, it's still a sign that there is a problem there that needs to be addressed. 

It will never go like this:

Editor: "I'm not sure the father, who is the mayor of the town, would really sign up for a pole-dancing class... It seems a little out of character."

Me: "But I know a guy who did that! That part of the story is integral to the entire plot!!! It has to stay! Plus, it came to me in a dream, and my dreams are always prophetic!!!!!!!"

* Side note: just because something happened in real life doesn't mean it will sound authentic in a book. Real life is always stranger than fiction.

If I didn't agree, my response would be more something like this:

"It's important that the father pole-dance. What if I add something about how his own mother was a world-famous pole-dance instructor? And he promised her on her death bed he would carry on the tradition?"

My editor says her revision notes are just jumping off points to get the discussion going. I love my editor.

QM: I thought you promised no more long answers?

Then ask simpler questions.
QM: Okay, time to dumb it down for the lady of the house. Where in your house do you write?

My kitchen. Unless I'm deep in revisions, then I take it to the bedroom. (Sorry, TMI). 

QM: Have you ever seen The $20,000 Pyramid?

QM: The Shuttle launch.

Midnight on New Year's Eve.

An egg timer.

Things you count down!!! Things you count down!!!!

QM: Congratulations?

Thanks! What do I win? What do I win?


Question-Maker? Are you there?


Okay, so the QM has gone home. (In case you're wondering, the QM lives in the space between Rainbows and Comets. Third house on the left.)

So, what did all y'all do over the weekend?

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Evening with Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia, and tons of Beautiful Creatures

So, I had the opportunity to catch the end of Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia's world tour to promote their newest release in the Beautiful Creatures series, BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS.

Margie and Kami were personable, funny, and kept the crowd (the real people as well as the blog tv audience) thoroughly entertained.

Writer Peep Emily Wing Smith acted as interviewer, and then I was called up to moderate the lightning round of questions. 

Apparently, the physical requirements for the job were to stand there, looking awkward, and let me just say I did my job well. 
(Picture taken by Heather Zahn Gardner)

Margie and Kami chose well, because I majored in Awkward and minored in Bumbling. (Incidentally, these were the suggestions from my career counselor in High School. I'll never be able to thank her enough.)

Congratulations to Margie and Kami. They are two of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I know, despite Kami's strange fixation with murdering her characters and Margie's habit of breaking out into song at any given moment.

(Top: Bree Despain, Valynne Nagamatsu, Kami Garcia, me
Bottom: Emily Wing Smith, Margie Stohl)

If you ever get a chance to meet them in person, go. Now. Or when the actual event takes place.

What are y'all doing this weekend?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five Signs you have Revision Brain

Sorry I'm so late to the blog today. I've been arse-deep in revisions, and I realized I have a serious affliction. One that has no known cure.
No, there is not a tree growing in my lung like this guy:

Yes, that's a real x-ray. Yes, it's an understatement to say the knowledge that such a medical mishap can happen has affected me. Deeply. 

Luckily my condition is a more common one, known as Revision Brain. I'd like to enlighten you as to the condition.

Five Signs you have Revision Brain:

5. You can't think of anything for #5.

4. The smiley faces your editor places in the margins of your manuscript to let you know she likes something, go from looking like this:

to looking like this:

3. You snap at your hubby over the appearance of a tomato in the fridge.

me: "Where did this tomato come from?"

him: "I don't know."

me: "It wasn't in here this morning."

him: "Maybe I brought it home from work, when I brought home the sandwiches."

me: "Well, did you or didn't you?"

him: "I don't remember. Look, it's a perfectly good tomato. Just eat it if you want to."

me: "I would never eat a tomato of dubious origin."

him: "Fine. Throw it away. I don't care."

me: "What do you mean my edits suck?"

3. You wake up at random intervals during the middle of the night, and frantically write down a brilliant idea in the notebook you keep by your bedside, but in the morning, you read the notes and they say: 

Remember for Chapter 17!! : MC eats cheese in her underwear.

In trying to decipher the note, and uncover the brilliance you are sure is there, you ask yourself stupid questions, like, "Did I mean the MC wears underwear while eating cheese, or did I mean the MC eats cheese found in her underwear?"

*Rest easy, there are no scenes involving cheese and underwear in my book. I promise.

2. You're sure you could sooner climb Mount Everest than write a blog post.

And the number one sign you have revision brain: You re-read said blog post and realize you counted down from five wrong. 

What about y'all?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Revisiting the 80's: a.k.a., the Five Stages of Grief

Happy Monday y'all.

Thanks for all the entries in the "Help Brodi Express her Feelings" contest. I learned a lot from the comments. For instance, emotions often lead to gastrointestinal issues.

And the random winner of the signed copy of PARANORMALCY, chosen by the Random Number Generator, is...


Please email me your address at: brodiashton (at) gmail (dot) com.

As an added prize, I will use the emotions you gave me somewhere in my book. I don't know if you'll consider that a prize, but I think it's pretty cool.

Moving on...

Sam and I went to an 80's Prom Party over the weekend.

Me and Sam: When he said he was going in "Tighty Whities",  I was hoping he meant something else.

In anticipation of the event, we had to search for 80's clothes.

We went from Denial: "There's no way we're dressing up."

to Anger: "Who actually plans to revisit the 80's? Even the 80's knows it should stay dead. It was the 80's that took its own life in the early 90's, when it felt useless and unloved."

to Bargaining: "I'll tease my bangs if you wear the pink suspenders you wore last night..."

to Depression: "I swear it wasn't that long ago that these stirrup pants used to fit..."

and finally to acceptance: "Molly Ringwald would've killed for this outfit! It's okay to cut the fingers off my Isotoner* gloves, isn't it?"

*Side note: My mom gives me a pair of Isotoner gloves every year for Christmas. I have boxes and boxes of them, unopened, in all sorts of colors. Every year, when I unwrap the gloves, I say, "Thanks! I totally needed these!" And then they go to the dedicated "Isotoner Glove Drawer" in my dresser.

**Side note to the side note: It's okay I told that story, my mom doesn't read my blog.

At the party, I sang karaoke with my writer peep Valynne (#4 crazy). During the musical interlude, I showed off the move that got me countless wrist corsages in high school.

Here's a shot with my writer's group, The SIX, and I'm sure y'all recognize the man in the middle. (Rick Springfield). 

Me, Kim, Sara, Emily, Bree, Valynne. Otherwise known as, #1, #6, #5, #2, #3, and #4. (We rank ourselves in order of most to least crazy). 

Here's a picture of The OTHER SIX. (That's how we affectionately refer to our hubbies.)


Stand back, ladies. They're taken. Unless you really want them. Then we're open to negotiations.

The men did an awesome rendition of "Turn Around Bright Eyes," and rumor has it there's video evidence of the performance. I'm hoping to unearth it for Wednesday's blog.

How was all y'all's weekend? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Hardest Part of Revising so Far: Let's Discuss our FEELINGS! (and I'm Giving Away a Book)

Yay, it's Friday! I'm giving away an autographed book in exchange for your help. I'm talking to you. Yes, you.

I am arse-deep in revisions right now, and as I read through my editor's notes, I'm noticing a pattern in her margin-comments. See if you can spot it:

"How does Nikki feel about this?"

"What does Nikki feel at this point?"

"How does Nikki feel?"

"What are Nikki's feelings?"

And your final clue:

"Yeah, but how does she feel?"

Did you guess the theme?

I don't think my therapist has been doing his job, because each time I see one of these notes, I think, oh man. Talking about feelings again. I might as well be a girl.
Okay, I am a girl. But I've never been very good at expressing feelings. 

Sure, I've had feelings. But when that happens, I usually take two aspirins and go to bed, trusting that by the morning, they will be gone. 

So, here's where you come in. Please leave me a comment, and tell me how you feel about something. Anything. It can be an emotion:

ex: I felt angry

or it can be a physical reaction:

ex: The blood rushed to my cheeks.

I'll draw a name from the comments, and that person will win a signed copy of Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY.

What do you think? Can you help a girl out?

On your mark... Get set... EMOTE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Talk of Blood and Brain Viruses: Typical Book Launch Party for James Dashner

Hey y'all.

First off, I wanted to share a link to this auction to benefit Pakistan Flood victims. There are awesome ARC's and swag up for grabs. Click here to see what's on the table. Most of you know how I feel about the people in this area of the world, and I love to see people here take action to help out.


So, we went to James Dashner's launch party for THE SCORCH TRIALS, the second book in the Maze Runner triolgy. 

He did a great job, especially when he talked about how amazing his agent is, and I have to say, his agent sounds like a gem. (Okay, we have the same agent).

James, looking casual, talking about brain viruses.

Some highlights:
-James shared at least two secrets he "wasn't supposed to divulge*."

*He didn't use the word 'divulge'. Divulge is a very big word. 

-He told the audience he did at least 20 minutes of research for THE SCORCH TRIALS. He even looked at a map.

-He said the word "fart" and then in an effort to make up for such an offense, he told the kids in the room not to say the word "fart", and by doing so, he said the word "fart" about 486 more times.

-When he met my twin nieces (niece E and niece E), he told them how lucky they were to have me as an aunt, and how even luckier they were that they weren't actually blood related to me. 

-I told him where he could shove his book. (He could shove it forward on to the table in front of him, so he could sign it, of course.)

-Just to get the last word in, I gave myself a paper cut and bled on him, and then ran out the door yelling, "Now look who's blood related, beeee-yaaatch!" 

I'm hoping this disturbing scene makes it into his third book, The Death Cure, since his books are chock full of disturbing scenes.

On today's agenda:
I've made progress on H-E-L-L. (btw, some of you made reference to an actual word my acronym spells out. Any similarity to an actual word is accidental.) Yesterday I finished writing a prologue for my book. Item #1 on the Revision list, check. 

Now on to items 2-582.

How's all y'all's week going?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Revision Letters: The Unkindest Paper Cut of All

Good Monday, yon bloggerland.

This week, I received two wonderful surprises from my publisher.

The first has to be the coolest part about this whole book deal so far: 
 I named him "Box-O-Books"

A giant box of Harper Collins books! 

When I saw it, I have to admit I went a little weak in the knees, and my heart went all twitterpated, and before I knew it, I was breaking up with Sam in favor of this new Box-o-lover. 

Sam claimed there was room in our house for both him and Box-o-books, but I reminded him we only have a Queen-sized bed.

And sometimes, Box-o-books likes to spread out.

I wouldn't want to cramp Box-o-books' style. 

For a few days, I was on cloud 11, (the lesser-known cousin of cloud 9) and I wondered if there was anything that could bring me back down to earth. 

Then I got this:
 Revision Letter

Just like Box-o-books, Revision Letter (otherwise known as the Helping me Evaluate and Learn Letter, or H-E-L-L) likes to spread out. To a whopping ten pages, single spaced. Inside the letter were ideas on character development, world building, and possible theories as to Kennedy's assassination. 

(At least, I'm pretty sure I saw reference to a "Magic Bullet" somewhere deep in H-E-L-L, like on page 9).

I think I also found the Lindbergh baby in there. 

Anyway, with Box-o-books and H-E-L-L sharing a bed, Sam is definitely on the couch. I would take the couch, but part of the revision process is to let H-E-L-L marinate and sink in, and the best way to do that is to sleep with it. 

Oh, wait. My editor said sleep on it. 

Okay. But when I wake up with paper cuts, I'm suing.

How was all y'all's weekend?

I got to be the guest blogger on Nathan Bransford's blog on Saturday. Click here to read it.

And now...

*dives into H-E-L-L*

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Burning Questions about the Book Deal, and Brodi gets Blurbified

First off, I was interviewed on Emily Wing Smith's Blog, so check it out here if you get a chance. 

Moving on.

*Not a real word. This blog disavows this post, and has reprimanded the writer.

I have to share another one of those "Never thought the day would come" moments. I'm a blurb! I'm a blurb! In Publishers Marketplace. 

October 6, 2010

Young Adult 

Brodi Ashton's THE EVER'NEATH, based in part on the myth of Persephone, in which a seventeen-year-old, after having spent the past six months in the underworld escapes to the surface -- to her old life, her family, her boyfriend -- for another six months before she's banished back to the underworld once again, this time for eternity, to Kristin Daly at Balzer & Bray, in a three-book deal, for publication in Winter 2012, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).

 Y'all will probably have that blurb memorized by the time my book comes out. Sorry.


Okay, so there are some more questions that have been popping up about the book stuff, so I decided to run them through our beloved Question-Maker. (Some of you were giving the QM flack in the last post, but I have to tell you, the QM came from humble beginnings, and he has no idea as to social cues. I don’t think he means to be rude. But today he’s promised to be on his best behavior.)


QM: You have a book deal. So, you think you’re somethin’ else, now, don’t ya?

Me: (Sigh) I don’t think that’s a real question.

QM: Oh. Sorry. I was just shootin’ the breeze.  Didn’t know we were live. (taps on the mike, chews his tobaccy) Let’s have a looksy… Okay. Here. Isn’t your first book in the trilogy done? So, what are you going to do for the year plus until your book comes out?

Me. Excellent question, QM. Even though the book was finished when we submitted it, and even though I revised with my agent, it’s still technically a “first draft.” Now the real revisions with my editor begin.

QM: Hmm. Couldn’t get it right the first time?

Me: Nobody does.

QM: I have a little book here called The Twilight Saga that would beg to differ.

Me: Not a question, Question-Maker. Try again.

QM: How much did you get for your advance?

Me: That’s not polite, Question-Maker. You don’t see me asking how much you make at your job, do you?

QM: Fair enough. How about if you just tell me, and I promise not to tell anyone else?

Me: How about you move on to the real questions.

QM: Fine. (Flips through the 3x5 cards) Here we go. Do you ever get that, not-so-fresh feeling?

Me: I can tell it’s almost the weekend. How about we take a break.

QM: Is this a break? Or a break UP?

So, the question-maker and I are going to couple's counseling this weekend, apparently. What are y'all doing?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kid B Reinvents the Game of Soccer. We're still Working out the Glitches.

So, It's that time of year. Kid B's soccer season has begun again. 

Remember his first game last year?

I think this year we've improved. Check it out:

Did you see him? How about now?

Yep. Kid B's coach told him to "play forward" and Kid B thought he said, "play dead." Common mistake. Could happen to anyone. 

My favorite part of his soccer games is the strange looks he gets:
 The other coach is all, "Is he okay?"

The little girl's all, "Whaaaaa?"

The thing is, neither of them understands Kid B's strategy. He's a road block. Can you imagine if someone is dribbling the ball down the field, and happens to slam into Kid B's blockade? (It's a big field, so there's maybe a 1 in 500 chance it could happen). 

But if it does happen, it would be... maaaaaayhemmmmmmmm! (Said in a monster truck rally voice).

I'm still holding out hope for a soccer scholarship. Hey, if I can get a book deal, he can totally get paid to play soccer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Which I'm on Goodreads! And Matt Kirby's Book Launch

 Hey y'all. It's time for:

Thing #1 and Thing #1!

Thing #1:

Yesterday, someone tweeted to me that I'm on Goodreads! Click here to see.

Here's my attempt to cut and paste the entry:

The Ever'neath
Brodi Ashton

my rating:
didn't like itit was okliked itreally liked itit was amazing

The Ever'neath

5.0 of 5 stars5.0 of 5 stars5.0 of 5 stars5.0 of 5 stars5.0 of 5 stars 5.00  ·  rating details  ·  1 rating  ·  1 review
"The first book in the deal, The Ever'neath, is partially based on the Greek myth of Persephone: a 17-year-old who's been banished to the underworld escapes to her former earthly existence with her family and boyfriend. The catch is that she only has six months in the real world before being sent back to Hades, this time forever. Book one is tentatively scheduled for ...more
Published 2012 by Harper Collins / Balzer + Bray 

I do have to say, that cover is creepily like the one I came up with. I might have to sue. 

And yes, I am averaging a 5 star rating. My friend Valynne, who has indeed read the entire thing, posted her review. 

I feel privileged that she gave me 5 stars. She's very tough. She's our critique group (The SIX) bouncer, in charge of event security. (In the event that we actually have an event where security is a problem. Like maybe in an alley known for drug deals.)

Anywho, I had to share the listing, because it's one of those little milestones. The ones where you tell yourself, "It'll never happen, will it? Could I ever write something that would end up on Goodreads?"

Now, for all I know, my mom posted it. But still...

Thing #1

I went to Matt Kirby's book launch for The Clockwork Three at the King's English. 

He did such a good job speaking to the large crowd. He was totally at ease, despite a vocal heckler who kept shouting stuff about a "sequel".

Okay, it was me.

Anyway, Matt talked about how he doesn't really outline before he writes his books. He said, where other writers have a Google Map, with the directions clearly marked, he's going off directions he got from a gas station, from a vagrant, who may or may not have been tipsy. (Okay, so I'm paraphrasing). 
Afterward, we went for dessert at The Dodo, and Jessica Day George called me a "quiet person." Yeah, the rest of the table looked at her like she was the lone participant at the crazy parade.

I also learned what a "pee-smock" is. And I discovered there's nothing funnier than Matt Kirby standing up in a crowded restaurant, demonstrating how a pee-smock would work. 

So, how was all y'all's weekend? Are you going to go to Goodreads and mark my book as "to be read"?

Friday, October 1, 2010

What NOT to Say as an Introductory Tweet, Apparently

So, after the book deal was announced, my critique partner Bree Despain sent out a Tweet, telling her followers to follow me. She must be very powerful, because immediately I got like a hundred new followers. Bree said something like, "You'll love her. She's hilarious."

That made me nervous. I had all these new followers, and now Bree was promising them I'd be hilarious. I never feel unfunnier (less funny?) than when someone says stuff like that.  I felt like the new people were sitting around, watching Twitter, going, "Okay, Brodi, do something funny."

*Side note: I've typed "funny" so many times now, that it's starting to not look like a real word, but more an amalgam of "fluffy bunny".

So, just to give people a taste of what it will really be like to follow me, I sent this tweet:

Wow. Lot's of new followers. Hi! Here's an introductory tweet: I have a strange zit on my bellybutton. Who knew that was even possible?

I think I instantly lost 50 of the new followers, (one even tweeted about how bellybuttons make her uncomfortable, and I'm thinking, "Why? At least 99% of people have them. The uncomfortable part should be that there's a zit on the bellybutton, not the button itself.") and Bree sent a follow-up tweet:  

I send you new followers and you start tweeting about bellybutton zits???

*added: she also added "That's why I love you."

The truth is, I didn't want anyone's expectations to be too high. I thought my tweet was a typical example of what I have in the brains, and a good chance to say, "If you like the tweet, there's more where that came from. If not, get out now."

Because if there's anything I truly hate, it's failing to meet expectations. So let's lower that bar, people. You know the saying, "Aim for the stars. You're bound to hit the moon." Let's amend that to "Aim for the roof of my house. Perhaps even the tops of the trees. Hope we don't get caught in the branches. Then we can be pleasantly surprised if we clear the trees."

Who's with me? May I please have a holler? (I can't speak street, let alone type it.)

I had a great time at Matt Kirby's book launch last night. I'll give a full report of the event on Monday. (But I'd appreciate it if you'd only expect half a report, and then you can be pleasantly surprised when I post the full one.)

What are y'all up to this weekend? I've got soccer games up to my ears, and then my mom's making soup. Mmmmmm.....