Friday, December 30, 2011

Why I'm Hugging my Mail Today... Because it took Years to get Here

Guess what I got in the mail today? 

This little beauty:

An actual hardcover from the first printing of EVERNEATH.

And just like any newborn, it has a spine. 

I actually got two copies. Sam said we should keep one of them exactly like it is, and not besmirch it with my signature. Thanks, Sam. I would hate to ruin it by writing my name in it. 

Here's the truth:
When I opened the package from HarperCollins, I just sat there in my study for about half an hour, staring at the book. I thought about the journey to get to this point, the culmination of factors both in and out of my control, the multitude of people who contributed to this little clump of bound pages. 

There's not enough room on the spine to list them all, but there should be! And those names deserve to be there, mostly because I just spelled "should" as "shood" and my book would've been full of "shood"s without a giant team backing me up. 

I tried to get all eloquent about the monumental effort that this book symbolizes, but then I realized the book is the perfect size and shape to make it very huggable, and so I shall forget the big words and sentiments, and I'll just hug it for a little while.

While I'm at it, let me just say a big thank you to all y'all who have been reading this blog, and taking this journey with me. I love everybody today. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

World-Building: When You're Missing the Essential World-Building Bone in your Body

So, I'm under deadline. I know it seems like I was just under deadline, and that's because I was. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm revising EVERNEATH 2: It's Everneath-ier. This time around, we are focusing on world-building. 

And let me tell you something right now: I was born without the world-building bone in my elbow. Doctors were amazed; they would take my x-rays around and show other doctors, and remark, "This little baby is going to have a helluva time trying to build a world that's not exactly like the one we live on."

Most of my world-building looks like this:

Okay, so lets take a planet:

Now we have to ask ourselves, where will the people live?

Let's add some land:

Good. Now, how will life grow? What will the people drink?

Let's add some water. 

And... oh crap. I've made Earth. AGAIN! 

Then I crumble up the paper and throw it away and start over. 

I was supposed to world-build in the last round of edits, but instead I threw in some razzle-dazzle. I gave my editor the old flim-flam-flummox, then I dazed and dizzied her, because how could she see that I couldn't world build when she had sequins in her eyes?

As a final number, I threw in a tap dance. 

But the thing is, I can't tap dance, and my editor could see just fine with the sequins in her eyes, and she still said, "Hey, how about we world-build a little?"

Then I tried to explain to her about my unique anatomy:

But she was not impressed. Apparently, she thinks I can do this. 

So, yon bloggerville, I think I can do this too. 

But just in case, does anyone know what the Underworld looks like? Anyone at all? Geography and demography would be great. And for heaven's sake, do not let it resemble Earth!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Adventure in Houston, and Bringing my Dad Home for Christmas

Hi Everyone!

I hope y'all are enjoying the holidays. It's been a while for me on the blog, I know, but the holidays and my dad's health have definitely had me hopping.

And by hopping, I mean stressing. And by stressing, I mean tearing my hair out, strand by strand, follicle by follicle, until I accumulated enough to knit myself a pair of matching throw pillows for my couch.

Here's a recap:

A couple weeks ago, we landed in Houston because my dad had landed in the ICU there at MD Anderson.

We found him like this:

That picture is deceiving. He's not really giving the "Thumbs up" sign, nor is he saying, "Turn up the gas!" He's actually saying, "Get this contraption off of me, or I will take these thumbs and use them to gouge your eyes out."

He is a very stubborn man. But we needed to get him out of the ICU, in order for him to continue getting his radiation treatment, and get him home for Christmas.

So my mom and my sister and I made a bunch of goals, and stuck them to the television.

If you blow up the picture, you can see that yes, Diet Coke is considered a solid food, and by exercising, we mean cage fighting. We wanted to make the goals as realistic as possible.

The following day, we got to rip off the goal of "Clear chest x-ray," because take a look at that beautiful x-ray on the left.

The one on the right was the day before, and you can tell it is cloudy with fluid. But the one on the left... brilliantly black.

The smiling nurse is Justin. He was very happy to pose for our multitude of pictures, but he drew the line at climbing in the cage with my dad for a fight to the death. He's getting married in a few months, so I understand his hesitation.

A couple days later, we were able to ditch the flattering yellow garb and take my dad for a walk on the observation deck of the hospital, and we got to rip down the goal of "Overcome Vertigo."

Once he was out of the ICU, we made great strides. He even got to wear actual clothes again.

Last week, against all the odds, he was able to continue with his radiation treatments, complete the round, and return home to us just in time for Christmas.

I'd like to take full credit for his recovery, but the honest truth is it was all him. I couldn't have asked for a better present. 

May your own holidays be excellent, and your chest x-rays clear!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Houston, we had a problem...but things are looking better

This is Sam, Brodi's lovely husband.  Brodi is down in Houston, Texas (can I get a Yeehaw? or a y'all?) with her sister and her mom.  Her dad is at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  He has been there for the past week or two getting some awesome radiation treatment.  But, he had a bad spell and some bad luck and has been in the ICU for the past week.

The good news is that he is doing much better now than he was doing earlier this week.  We are keeping prayers, fingers crossed, etc. as he enters this weekend.  The pic above are DEMANDS by Brodi, her sister and her mom for her dad.  They will accept nothing less.  And so far, he is listening to their demands - you don't mess with 3 'blonde' women who have their minds made up.   The plan now is that her dad will continue to feel better this weekend and and then get some treatment that was in the middle of before his setback, and come home next week.  It would be a very nice Christmas gift to everyone if that were to happen.

First off - there is no reason for the pic above except I put it there because it is awesome.  With Brodi gone, I am trying to make sure that I don't go insane.  For all of you single parents out San Francisco baseball hat is tipped to you.  This week has been work, running kids to school, soccer practices, scouts, haircuts, birthday parties, skiing, work, trying to clean the house, homework and regular work once again.  I think I have lost my wallet or phone 19 times in the past 3 days.  Somehow I am able to find them every single time.  But I have probably wasted 7 hours looking for those stupid little things.  I have also been able to witness some great conversations between our boys, such as "Do you know that 95% of kids do not get enough whole grain?'  Kid C told this to Kid B.  Kid B gave him a look that said, 'Seriously, you think I care about that. Seriously?' 

Today is also Kid C's birthday, so we had an early breakfast at McDonalds (breakfast of champions, pic on the right...if you look hard enough, you will see a load of fruits and vegetables - I think they are right under the sausage egg mcmuffin wrapper) and then a birthday party at his school.  After school, he is headed up to go skiing.  After skiing, we are going out to eat at Chuck-a-rama (his choice) or get Hot wings (my choice) and then a Utah Utes basketball game.  So, yes, we will be busy.  My birthday gift to Kid C is to teach him how to smile like a regular kid.  Hope you all have big plans for the weekend.  Brodi should be back in the blogging saddle on Monday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very Yoshi Christmas

So, Kid B was in charge of decorating the Christmas tree this year. When he was finished, I walked into the living room to see this:

Yep, that there is Giant Green Yoshi, with Small Red Yoshi. And apparently, they've been catapulted onto the tree, and impaled in its branches.
Doesn't he look so comfortable? 

Kid B is available as a Decorator-for-Hire. He can Yosherize any tree. Anywhere. Anytime.

And the ornament isn't without its symbolic meaning. Don't you remember when the sheep, and the oxen, and the winged baby dragons bowed their head before the manger? If not, that makes me wonder which version of the bible you are reading.
We, of course, read King Koopa's Bible. I don't want to give any spoilers for those of you who haven't read it. 

But the butler did it. 

How are your holidays coming along? We are steamrolling ahead toward Christmas, flattening any and all elves who get in our way.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Found a Treasure I'd Been Searching for for SIX YEARS.

Six years ago, while we were preparing to leave on a trip, my hubs hid the jewelry box containing my wedding ring. 

He was concerned that if someone broke into our house, my ring would be the first thing to go. 

Why wasn't I wearing it, you ask? That is a discussion for another time. But basically, it boils down to this: I never wear it, because I have a habit of taking it off and leaving it places like bathroom sinks and restaurants and bowling alleys.

You see, I would hate to lose it.

Anywho, we got back from our trip, and since I never wore my ring, there was no reason to get it out of its hiding place. 

Fast forward six years. We have since remodeled the kitchen, and a good portion of our house. We have since had another kid. And Sam totally forgot where he hid the ring. You'd think that at some point, during a spring cleaning session, or one of our kajillion garage sails, we would've come across the jewelry box. 

But it didn't happen. 

Finally, two days ago, Sam was rummaging through some sort of closet and found the jewelry box. Yay! 

I'm not sure what this says about us, on several levels. 

1. How much do my housecleaning skills suck if we never ran across it for six years? 

2. There is a cheerio in the corner of my kitchen floor that I've been able to keep track of for three years. Why couldn't I keep track of my wedding ring?

3. If someone did break into our house, I don't think his first thought would be, "I wonder where the wife keeps her wedding ring." It would more likely be, "Why does this family keep their flat screen under this big pile of Cap'n Crunch?" or "I'd steal the laptop, but my path is blocked by this pile of laundry... and wait... why have half of the keys on the keyboard been replaced with various incarnations of Spongebob Macaroni and Cheese noodles?"

4. Then we'd be featured on that new reality show "When Burglars Stage a Hoarders Intervention instead of actually Burgling the House."

5. I don't know why I'm suddenly numbering everything on this blog post.

6. But Six seems like a good round number to end on.

So... what's everyone up to this weekend? Sam and Kid C are taking ski lessons. Boy would I love to be a fly on that mountain.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I wanted to punch my Hubs... No Seriously.

Sorry so late with the blog. I spent the first half of the day with no internet. Now I completely know how the pioneers felt. 


Anywho, my brain no longer works right, so Sam has to remind me about things like appointments and parties and stuff. Last Friday, Sam's all, "Kid C's first school ski day is today!"

And I'm all, "What?!"

Sam: "Yeah, he needs gear. GEAR! Lots of gear that starts with the letter 'G' like Goggles and Gloves, and a Gator! And he has to be to this other school parking lot [not our own school, but another school] because if he's not there on time the bus will leave without him!"

So I ran around to a bunch of different places and bought the first goggles they showed me because I didn't have time to price-shop. 

I picked Kid C up from school, ran home and changed him. It was like a fire drill at the local station. I'm all, "Strip! STRIP!! Now put these on. No! On your head! Does it look like Goggles go on your feet?!"

Sweats, check.

Pants check.

two long sleeve t-shirts, check.

Ski Jacket, check. Gloves, check. Gator, check. Goggles, check. Hat, check. 

Kid C was very nervous. He asked if there would be bullies on the bus. He insisted on wearing every article of ski gear, even though he still had a long bus ride, and even though it was like 65 degrees outside.

65 degrees. 

But he didn't want to stand out because he wasn't sure how to put his gloves and goggles and stuff on. 

So, I race him to the other school, and we wait. 

That was how he looked as the final bell rang, and the entire school came out, filing past him and giving him strange looks. You can see the boy behind him is in simply a t-shirt and jeans, and here's kid C wearing every article of ski gear possible. 

And we wait.

And wait. 

And wait. 

I call Sam. "Are you sure we're at the right school?"

"Yes, I'm sure! I've never been surer about anything in my life!"

me: "Are you sure it's today?"

Sam: "Yes! I'm even more sure that it's today than I am that you're at the right school!"

We wait. 

And wait. 

No other skiers show up. But plenty of carpool moms drove by the poor snow boy, looking at me like I'm crazy because it's sunny and warm. 

Then my phone rings. It's Sam. "Um... looking at the fine print here... and it seems... the ski program starts next week. 

Who wants to break the news to Shaun White here?
So I'm all, "Hey Kid C. Congratulations! You passed the test. I just wanted to make sure it was possible to make it here on time, with you in your complete ski gear. And look! You did it!"

He gave me a look. (I could only see so much of it through his goggles). Then he turned around, slumped his shoulders and clomped his way back to the car. 

This is my life lately. What about you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three Books I am Excited for... and EVERNEATH gets a Starred Review

First off, the winner of the EVERNEATH mini-giveaway from the YA Scavenger Hunt is...

Tayte Hunter

Please email me your mailing address (brodiashton at gmail dot com) and I'll get that ARC in the mail.


Now that I've had a chance to breathe, I wanted to talk about some books I've read lately. Unfortunately, they haven't been released, but consider this your official "heads up" to keep an eye out for them!
INCARNATE is so different than most of the stuff out there! It's sort of Dystopian, sort of Fantasy, definitely romantic, and full of adventure. I thought it was a fabulous debut, and I can't wait to read the next one.

It comes out January 31st, and Jodi is touring with me, so that makes it doubly exciting!

Not only is Veronica Rossi a great person and a great friend, she is also an incredible storyteller. Under the Never Sky is a dystopian, where the worlds of the sheltered "pod-dwellers" and the "savage" outsiders collide, under threats from the ground and the sky. It's pretty incredible. 

And finally, I'm in the middle of reading THE SAVAGE GRACE, the final installment in Bree Despain's THE DARK DIVINE trilogy. 
So far, there has been an explosion, an ambush at demon rave, and lots of smoochies. Three things that will get me to read any book. :) I can't wait to get back to reading it! It comes out in March.

So, what have y'all been reading? What book have you fallen in love with? Which books are you most excited for?


EVERNEATH received a starred review from VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
“The author brings a fresh, innovative concept to young adult fiction with well-developed characters and a fantastic plot line .... Libraries are advised to buy multiple copies-this one will fly off the shelves.”
— Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)

Publishers Weekly had this to say:

“Ashton’s debut, is complex and intriguing. Drawing inspiration from such myths as Osiris, Orpheus, and Persephone, it explores the nature of loss and longing and what it means to be alive.”
— Publishers Weekly

Thanks for sharing in the excitement with me! And don't forget to tell me about what you've been reading.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Look out Texas! EVERNEATH Tour Stops, and... STUFF

Hey y'all!

If you are looking for the YA Scavenger Hunt post, click here. If you aren't, why aren't you? Simply start at my blog, and make the rounds, and you would be signed up for like 37 separate contests plus the grand prize which is being contributed by 37 different Young Adult Authors! Plus, you get to read all the super-secret bonus content, including a lost scene between Nikki and Jack that some readers have deemed "steamy". 

Hint: that scene is on bestselling author Colleen Houck's website

Okay, that is my plug for the scavenger hunt. 


I will be headed to the Lone Star state (Texas) which is good because I've been in a Lone Star state of mind, ever since my only other star burned out with the last revision. 

On a side note, I am also in a Lone Brain Cell state of mind, but that state is more a permanent one. 

Side note to the side note: I had to spell "permanent" ten different times before I got it right. And that squishy sound you hear is my final brain cell deflating. 

Um... where were we? 


Look out Dallas, Austin and Houston, because I'm comin' to getcha! (Okay, why does even the mention of a Texas book tour makes me talk with a really bad cowboy accent? It's like a steamin' pile of cow-pah dung on the fritters of the taters. Makes me wanna slap a skeeter. Niner.) (Somebody help me)

So if you live in one of these fine cities, or any part of Texas, or the U.S., or the world, come and see me!


February 16th @ 5pm    Barnes & Noble              Southlake, TX

February 17th @ 7pm    Barnes & Noble              Austin, TX

February 18th @ 4pm    Blue Willow Bookshop    Houston, TX

And it's not just me! I will be with these fine ladies:
Cynthia Hand (HALLOWED), Jodi Meadows (INCARNATE) and Courtney Allison Moulton (WINGS OF THE WICKED)

So, can I get a yee-haw from y'all? Who's with me? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter YA Scavenger Hunt, and Enter to Win EVERNEATH

I'm so excited to be a part of today's YA Scavenger Hunt!

As part of the hunt, I get to host the amazing Jocelyn Davies. Also, I have some secret content floating around out there that you'll get to find as well. This secret content is only available to Scavenger Hunt participants, and it involves a first kiss. And Nikki. And Jack. And their first kiss. And, if you read to the bottom, you'll see I'm giving away an ARC of EVERNEATH!

Each author on the hunt is hosting another author’s bonus material AND a link to the next step of the hunt. Take a couple of hours and work your way through the entire circuit collecting the words in red and entering all of the different contests you find along the way.

In one day, you could be entered in like 30 different contests! But only if you complete the circuit. And no matter where you start, you can do the full circle.

Today, I'm featuring Jocelyn Davies, whose book A BEAUTIFUL DARK looks just awesome.

About Jocelyn:

Jocelyn Davies edits young adult fiction at a publishing house in New York, a job that has allowed her to cultivate a keen interest in all things angsty, hilarious, and/or unrequited. She is a graduate of Bates College, and lives in an apartment overflowing with books. A BEAUTIFUL DARK is her first novel.

And now about A BEAUTIFUL DARK, which came out in September from HarperTeen:
On the night of Skye's seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites;like fire and ice;Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.
In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can't help falling for, and Devin, who she can't stay away from, the consequences of Skye's choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

Doesn't her book sound amazing? You can order it here:

Jocelyn explains her BONUS MATERIAL:

The scene on page 341, between Skye and Asher in the adirondak chair on the deck, originally took place in Skye’s bedroom, at night. I love the final scene so much, and it turned out to be one of my very favorites in A Beautiful Dark. But there was something about the intimacy of Skye touching Asher’s wings here—wondering if, or when, she might get her own—that I found really hard to let go of. What do you think?


Stepping out of the shower, I wrapped a plush towel around me, and wiped my hand across the mirror above the sink. This girl stared back at me. She had wet black hair, a pink mouth twisted in confusion, and silver eyes. Not grey. Silver.
When I emerged from the bathroom in my tank top and pajama pants, wet hair pulled back from my face in a clip, Asher was still waiting for me on the bed.

“So, I was thinking,” he said as he flipped through an issue of Teen Vogue that had been lying on my nightstand.

“Again?” I asked.

“Do you want to hear it or not?” He put down the magazine and looked me straight in the eye.

“Amaze me,” I said.

I could tell he was trying not to grin.

“The whole point of the Rebellion is so that we can live by our own rules. That’s the entire reason we jumped.”

“If my history lessons have served me correctly,” I said, my heart speeding up, “then yes. I do believe you’re right.”

“And I know that Devin doesn’t have any choice, and I see how much that hurts him. And I know you’re stuck between two choices, and you don’t exactly have a conscious say in the matter. Your powers will take over when it really matters. They’ll lean towards whichever side your unconscious is leaning, or so we’re led to believe.” Would they really? I wondered. Which side is that?

“But I have a choice, Skye. I have the power to choose whatever I want. And I’ve never known what I’ve wanted, more. I choose you. And the rest, we’ll figure out.” He gulped. “I know you walked away last time, so all I’m asking you to do is just think about it.”
I looked at him, the way his mouth turned up at the corners, even though his eyes stayed so serious. He had a little dimple near the left side of his chin. I had the strangest urge to touch it.

Would I get hurt again? Almost certainly. But was it worth it?

A hundred, thousand times yes.

“No thanks,” I said. “Pick again.”

He smiled.

“Come here,” he said.

I ran over to the bed and jumped on him. He grabbed my arms and pinned them above his head, so that, for a second, it felt like I was flying. Flash, my father lying on his back, holding me up on his knees when I was a little kid. Flash, arms outstretched, pretending I was soaring through the air. Faster than a speeding bullet, he’d say.
Asher smiled. “What are you thinking?” I fell off of his knees onto my side, and pulled him on top of me. His immense weight pressed into me, and it was hard to breathe for so many reasons.

“I want to see something,” I said. “Will you show me?”

“What exactly are we talking about here?”

I took a deep breath.

“Unfold your wings,” I said.

He looked at me funny. Slowly, he let his wings uncurl from his back, covering us in a canopy as I lay beneath him. The black feathers glistened and shimmered in the low light. Carefully, I reached out my hand, and brushed the tips of my fingers along the underside of one wing. Asher shivered.

“What are you doing,” he whispered.

“I would be okay with a pair of these,” I said softly.

The light in Asher’s eyes changed. He drew his wings in and rolled off of me, pulling me to him. He wrapped his arms around me so that there was no space between my body and his, and squeezed me close. I felt the heat of his chest against my back. His breath rose and fell. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was doing his, trying-not-to-smile, doing-a-bad-job-of-hiding-it thing. Or maybe he was smiling for real.


As an extra bonus we’ve put together a puzzle with one keyword found on each website. Complete it and you will be eligible for a fantastic GRAND PRIZE which will include signed editions of books, signed bookmarks, jewelry, and many more exclusive gifts with at least one gift from EVERY AUTHOR!

Directions: Search for the 37 keywords—one on each Scavenger Hunt website—that are highlighted in RED. When you are finished, go here
to the puzzle form, where you will find a list of scrambled keywords. List your keywords in the same order as the scrambled ones—from #1 - #37—and paste that list into the entry form.

Rules: To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed puzzle form before noon on Dec 4th Pacific Time. All the keywords must be included and you must include your full name and address. Entries sent in without name and address will not be considered! The contest is international.

And my own mini contest (U.S. Only):
Enter to win an ARC of EVERNEATH!

To enter:

1. Find my bonus material floating around out there in the Scavenger Hunt.

2. Figure out the answer to the following question:
Which class is Nikki (Becks) (the narrator) late for?

3. Email me the answer: brodiashton (at) gmail (dot) com. Put "YA Scavenger Hunt" in the subject.

4. Leave a comment and tell me you emailed me (but don't give away the answer!). Otherwise, your email might get caught in spam, and I won't know to look for it.

So really it involves finding my bonus material and sending me an email.

Phew. That was quite the experience.

Are you ready to go to the next website on the Scavenger Hunt? Click Here.