Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Which I Answer the Burning Questions about My Book Deal

Hey y'all. 

Okay, so I have no idea how to follow up a post like Monday's, except to say thank you again to all of you for being BFOB's. (Bestest Friends of the Blog). 

Maybe it would be best to answer some of the more frequent questions I've been getting about this whole publication thingee. 

When will the first book come out?

It's slated for Winter 2012, which means anytime from January to March 2012. 

Isn't that, like, a frakkin' long time?

I know 15 months seems really long, but it's actually pretty fast for the publishing world. My editor has even hinted that they are extending a couple of my deadlines so I can make it in time.

Who's your editor? 

Her name's Kristin Daly, and she's with Balzer and Bray. She's the one who read the manuscript, and got the ball rolling. We already get along great. We both love Diet Coke. We both love soup. We could talk or not talk all day long.

Do you get to design your cover?

Of course. Right now, Sam's on the cover, wearing biker shorts, no shirt, and a cape. 
Just kidding. Fortunately for everyone, I will not be designing the cover. Authors rarely have any say about the cover. 

Is there going to be more than one book?

Yes. It's a trilogy.

What's up with everything being a trilogy these days? 

I don't know. One more would make it a saga, and I don't want a saga. One less would be a companion, and I don't want a companion.*

*The above statement doesn't make sense. Don't waste time on it.

How come Jeni got to read the entire first chapter?
Because Jeni was in my workshop group at WIFYR last summer. Everyone there was forced to read the first 20 pages. 

Are you going to get a "real" website now?

What? This isn't a real website? Ha ha. Yes, I have a ".com" website. You can check it out now. Just go to your browser and type in

*snicker snicker*

Do you really think you're being funny?

A little.

Because I think you wouldn't know funny if it bit you in the bum.

Hey, question-maker. That's not even a question.

Fine. You wouldn't know funny if it broke your arm?

You know what, question-maker? Just putting a "?" at the end of a sentence doesn't make it a question.

Are you sure about that.

Okay, now you're just leaving off the question mark. 

Prove it?

Argh. Can we be please just get back on track?

Okay. Where are you going to be tomorrow night at 6:00?

Thank you! Excellent question. I'm going to be at The King's English for Matt Kirby's book launch of THE CLOCKWORK THREE. Everyone is invited! Will I see you there, question-maker?



I'll either be there, or I'll be toilet-papering your house while you're away?

Suck it, question-maker.  

Feel free to add to the questions in the comments. And anyone going to The King's English tomorrow night? Let me know so we can say 'hi'!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big News!! My Book is going to be an Actual Book!

I walked outside my house this morning, just to make sure, and yep. I was right. Hell had not frozen over.

I glanced over at my neighbors house, and nope, cats and dogs weren't living together.

As a final courtesy, I turned around in front of a full length mirror. And nope. Monkeys were not flying out of my bum.

Apparently I can get a book published before all of these things happen. Which brings me to my news...


Did you get that? If you read between the lines, it says:

HARPER COLLINS (Balzer & Bray imprint)  BOUGHT MY BOOK!!!!!!!!!!

Not only that, they bought THREE BOOKS!!!!!

As in, A TRILOGY!!!!!!!

Here's the announcement in Publishers Weekly:

To the Underworld and Back Again
Agent Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich closed a three-book deal with Kristin Daly at Balzer + Bray, selling North American rights in a pre-empt for a YA paranormal romance by debut author Brodi Ashton. 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 winter 2012.

Here's how it all went down (which makes it sound like something out of The Godfather, but it's totally not):

1. Michael invited representatives from the heads of the main publishing families to read the manuscript. They got it on a Monday.

2. After a day and a half, I sent a crazy-a** email to Michael, titled "I'm a Patient Person" and then explaining all the many ways I'm not a patient person, and asking why we hadn't heard anything.

I felt like Jane Austen's Emma, constantly checking her mailbox and exclaiming, "Why do they not write?!!"

3. Michael sent me an email, saying, "It hasn't even been 48 hours yet. Stop sending me missives*."

*Disclaimer: I don't know if he actually used the word "missives". It just seemed appropriate.

4. Shortly after Michael sent that email, he called me and took it all back. Apparently 48 hours is exactly long enough for Balzer & Bray to send us an offer we couldn't refuse.

So I told Michael, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli" because every good offer comes with a large container of cannoli.  

I kissed Michael's ring, and then he was off to accept the deal. 

I still can't believe it all finally happened, and I recognize there are so many little outside factors that helped me get to this point. So many people to thank, but for now,  I want to thank all of you blog readers. Yes, you. And you. I love everyone!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kid C and the Case of the Missing Homework

Happy Friday y'all. 

Kid C came home from school yesterday freaking out. Apparently, when the time came for him to hand in his weekly homework assignment, he couldn't find it.

Needless to say, he was distressed.

This is probably because we've always told him: "If you don't turn in your homework, you don't get 10 points, and if you don't get 10 points, you don't get A's. No A's means no college, and then all you can look forward to is a life in the gutter with a needle as your only friend."

We had that printed on a bumper sticker.

Just to make sure the message sinks in, I always tell him, "I knew a girl once who didn't turn in her second-grade homework. Here she is today:"

Don't worry. We end the stories with, "Sleep tight, Kid C."

So, yeah, Kid C was not happy about his disappearing homework. He immediately blamed Sam for forgetting to put it in his backpack.

Sam took Kid C's homework folder out of his backpack and opened it, and that's when we all saw what the problem was:
 Look! Nothing but an empty folder.

Sam hid the the homework in plain view. Not only that, he put the homework in the folder marked "Homework". 

I told Kid C he needed to stop blaming Sam, and take responsibility. He pondered that for a moment, and then decided on the best course of action:

Kid C: "We'll turn it in tomorrow."

me: "There's no school tomorrow, that's why the homework was due today."

Kid C: "We'll break in to the school, and leave it in Mrs. Rohaj's room."

me: "No, we're not breaking in-"

Kid C: "We'll find out where Mrs. Rohaj lives!! And then we'll break into her house."

me: "I think that might be compounding the problem, what with a B&E conviction."

But Kid C was worried about turning into the skeleton girl, so I amended the story. Skeleton Girl only became Skeleton Girl when she missed TWO homework assignments.

What are y'all doing this weekend?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Many Fumbles does it take to Break an iPhone? And Thank Goodness for Sisters

It's time for... Thing #1 and Thing #1!

Thing #1 

I've dropped my iPhone close to a zillion times, and nothing ever phased it. I thought it was indestructible, until yesterday.

I dropped it in the parking lot of my favorite restaurant (The Dodo) and this is what happened:

It still works, but every time I use the touch screen, it makes this crunching sound. The shattered pieces are held precariously together by the screen cover. 

So, right after I took that picture (with our camera that has the broken focus) I immediately opened our garage door (that doesn't open anymore) and started Sam's car (that won't start) and drove myself to the iPhone store to buy a new one (that I can't afford right now). 

Do you ever feel like everything breaks at the same time? Guess I'll go turn on our sprinklers (that flood our basement). 

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm totally not. I love my crunchy phone, and as long as I have scotch tape to hold the pieces together, we're good. Plus, it's comforting to shake an electronic gadget and hear a rattling sound. I can always kid myself and pretend it's the sound of loose change...

Thing #1

Ahh, the beauty of the sisterly relationship.

The other day, I was sort of freaking out about something. The details aren't important, but it was one of those instances where I was lamenting, "What must those people be thinking of me? What are they saying about me?"

My sister was there, and she had some great words of wisdom.

Erin: "I know those people, and if you knew how little they cared about you, and anything you do, you wouldn't be worrying right now. Talking about you would be like talking about the weather. Boring."

Sometimes it's good to have someone around that will give you a head slap of perspective every once in a while.

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Favorite Book, the Herriman Fire, and the Best Birthday Ever

Happy Monday.
Here's today's question from FOB (Friend of the Blog) Lulabell:

Q: What is the most meaningful book you have ever read? How did it affect your life? 

Well, I'm going to discount religious books, because it's my blog and I can do what I want. And I can't pick just one book, because that would be crazy. Among my favorites:

Dracula (taught me that classic books can actually be good)
The Sky is Everywhere (taught me that maybe I do like poetry)
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian (Because remember when Sherman Alexie remembered my name?)

But the one that really started my love affair with reading and writing is: Fried Green Tomatoes. 

I've read it probably a million times, and I even adopted it's time-shifting storytelling into my book. When I was younger, I tried to change my name to "Towanda".

On to the blog. 

Here's what's going on:

1. The Herriman fire continues to burn. 

I'm across the valley, but I have a lot of friends and family in the evacuation area, and I'm sending virtual hugs their way. (Side note: virtual hugs are not as soft as real hugs, what with the electrical shock and all).

My bff Sheree and her kids are bunking at her family's home, and the cat that I gave her is safe. Repeat, the cat I gave her is safe. Nothing destroys that cat. 

How bout y'all? Everyone out there okay?
2. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. 

The big day came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I have to admit it was my best birthday ever, even beating out my 8th birthday where I got to go to Brigham Young's house and make taffy and celebrate my polygamous heritage. I mean, my pioneer heritage. 

-Sam took me to Benihana, where our Chef was named "Kurt" and he dropped an egg.

-Friends brought me treats. Chocolate bars, home-made pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins, sugar cookies with yellow frosting, caramels, Munchoes potato chips (available only in the finest gas stations) and Diet Coke. 

-My mother-in-law made Fried Green Tomatoes for Sunday dinner. 

-My sister-in-law gave me an entire homemade cheesecake. 
That takes care of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So, really, I guess for my birthday I received... FIVE EXTRA POUNDS! Which is what I've always wanted.

How was everyone else's birthday weekend?

Friday, September 17, 2010

If You're Going to Write, You're Going to have to Learn how to Wait. Here's How I Do It:

Hey y'all. 

I reached a milestone today.

1500 solitaire games won on my iPhone.

Amazing, right? I know what you're thinking: "Is there an award for such a feat?" And then you're probably thinking "Is it "feat"? or "feet"?" At least, that's what I would be thinking.

It's not like it was easy, although I do have a fairly high win percentage at around 16.0%.  (Don't anyone do the math. Okay, fine! It was 9,425 total games played.)

In my head, little tiny announcers are remarking on my moves, and questioning whether the big risks I take will be worth it. 

ex: "That's a lot of empty spaces. Ashton better hope she's got some Kings in that deck, or there could be trouble." and then the other guy says, "What a time to take chances!" because there's a million imaginary bucks on the line. 
(Solitaire play-by-play: The most coveted position in sports)

People have asked me before how I have time to blog thee days a week and write a book. Imagine what they'd think if they knew I've almost played 10,000 solitaire games as well. Which, I guess, now they do know.

So, here's the answer. (And if you're interested in any sort of writing career, this is a good thing to know):

Waiting becomes a way of life, and you have to find a way to cope.

Obviously, the best way to spend that waiting time is by writing your next project. I've done that before. But there are certain times on the path to publication where you have to wait, and your brain can't function enough to write. 

This week has been a series of spurts and stops, and I have a severe case of whiplash. And it feels delicious. And now I'm waiting again.

I can't wait to tell y'all about it. (Okay, I guess I just did.) In the meantime, raise a glass: To friends old and new, who love Diet Coke as much as I do. 

I love all of my blog readers, but especially you. And you. 

So, what do y'all do to pass the time? Can anyone share some internet word games, or something? I'm lookng to diversify. 

And what's everyone doing this weekend?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cosmic Good Fortune... and My Plan to get in on that Action


So, the top story is...

Rafa won the U.S. Open!

Talk about being surrounded by good cosmic energy. He's got the stuff in abundance.

Me on the other hand? 

I was washing my face the other night, when one of my not-very-long fingernails nicked the tip of my nose in just the perfect way to slice it open. Now, I have this unsightly gash that will gush blood if a butterfly in Tokyo flaps its wings just right, as this chaos theory graph shows.

This week, of all weeks, I need more cosmic justice than ever before. Instead, I'm picking off my facial features one by one with my own fingernail.
I'm all for creating my own luck. After all, it's not pure luck that Rafa landed where he is. But sometimes, even after all the hard work, you need a little cosmic ooomph. 

Maybe all y'all are feeling the same way right now, so here's what I propose. And if we do it right, my entire bloggerville will be shrouded in a blanket of Providence. (the luck, not the city)

Steps to capture Rafa's Good Fortune:

1. If all of my blog readers will kindly cross your fingers. (Left and right hands)

2. Next cross your toes with the toes of the person on your left. (I will personally cross my toes with Rafa's, thus completing the energy loop). 

3. Everyone spontaneously start singing: "People all over the world... Join hands... Start the Love Drain... Love Drain." 

It's okay if you're at work, or reading this on your iphone on a commuter train, or whatever. Go ahead and belt it out... Wait. Hold up. I am just getting news (from Sam standing behind me) that the correct words are "Love Train" not "Love Drain". Even better.

4. And for the final step, if someone could get David Archuleta to sing a special rendition of "All we are saying... is give peace a chance!" 
Bonus: Does anyone have a personal connection to Kofi Annan? Or perhaps Nelson Mandela?
Those guys can make anything happen. Anyone?

Thanks for all y'all's constant support! And I wish you all good fortune too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How I Put My Pants On, and How I'm made up of Two Parts Lazy.

Happy Monday Y'all! 

Today is an exciting day for many reasons, not the least of which is the Men's finals match at the U.S. Open, starring Novac Djokovic and my boyfriend, Rafa. 

Rafa has never won the U.S. Open. It's so exciting. It's on CBS at 4:00 EST.

Our question of the day comes from Debbie:

Q: Do you, honestly, put on your pants one leg at a time?

Excellent question Debbie. The answer is, I don't use my legs at all. I dive head first into my pants, and then because I have a double-jointed pinkie finger, I'm able to finagle the pants down my body, to where they rest comfortably below my love handles.

Thank you for asking!

Thing #1*
I was walking through the kitchen this morning, when I tripped over Sam's backpack. (The one that rides in the baby seat of his bike.)

It was a pretty good stumble, but I recovered and continued on. Sam watched the whole thing with a curious expression.

Sam (laughing): "I can't believe you just tripped over that, and then left it there."

me: "It's your backpack."

Sam: "Yeah, but you just tripped over it! You'd leave it there for someone else to trip over?"

me: "No, you originally left it there for someone to trip over. If you want people to stop tripping, move it. Otherwise, I have to assume there's a reason it's in the middle of the floor, and all of these injuries will be on your head."

He looked at me like he couldn't believe how stubborn one wife could be. But it's not a matter of being stubborn. I think it's more 2 parts Lazy (because let's be honest, I could've moved it), and 1 part Clueless. Okay, and just a dash of Stubborn.

Clueless in the same way as when I see a toddler in the middle of the road, and I think, "Huh. A toddler in the street. Someone obviously wanted it that way. Somebody's obviously okay with what is happening."

I've spent years re-training my brain to do something about it, and now I can happily say that when I see a toddler in the street, it only takes me a few minutes to come to the conclusion I should do something about it.

So what about y'all? Would you have moved the backpack? Or would you expect Sam to move it, and apologize? Or, if you don't want to weigh in, how was your weekend? 

*This was not the original blog, but I wanted to send Sam a message. Zing!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kid C Discovers there is a "One Size Fits All" Sure Way to Publication

Yay for Friday! And Yay for the end of the legendary summer "lull" in publishing.

Thanks for all y'all's questions the other day. I've compiled an incredible list of stellar questions, the answers to which might one day save the world. They're that good.

So, let's start with the first question, asked by F.O.B. (friend of the blog) Jenni Elyse.

Q: What is the most number of times you've said boobies or something to do with boobies in one day?

Great question, Jenni. Many of you know how often I, and my fellow critique group cohorts, find the word "boobies" popping up in conversation. So much so that we've instituted a rule that every time someone says the word, that person owes a quarter to the booby jar. 

Although I have never actually documented how many times it's been said in one day, I will say that we have enough money in the booby jar to buy a cow for a village in sub-saharan Africa. Boobies for a good cause! (And now I owe 3 quarters to the booby jar. Make that 4.)
Now if we could just earn enough to cover the shipping.

On to the blog:
Kid C came home from school the other day with the answer to getting your fairytale published. Contrary to popular belief, there is an easy road to publication, and I'm about to share it with you. Don't tell anyone, K?
So, once you've finished your fairytale, and you've made sure the "setting, characters, and events are imaginary", and you've checked to see that your "words help the reader visualize what is happening", and you've "spelled your name right", you can move on to the easiest part of the process: 

The Preparation for Publication. (It's easy because it's only three steps.)

Step 1: Give your fairy tale a title. Remember to underline your title.


Step 2: Write or type a neat copy.

Check check!! (I went the extra mile and typed it in a Word document)

Step 3: Include a drawing of an important character or event from your fairy tale. 

As Michael Bourret can attest, in addition to the boring old query, I also sent him a hand drawn depiction of my book.
If he was on the fence at first, I'm pretty sure my illustration sealed the deal.

What's everyone doing this weekend? Do you like my art work? And ask me more questions anytime!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Latest Cause I Have Chosen to Support... And Ask me Anything!

Hey Y'all. 

I thought it'd be fun to answer some of your questions at the top of some of the blogs. Feel free to ask me anything! It can be about writing, querying, revising, Rafa, pancreatic cancer, holes in hearts, my deodorant preference... anything. And if I don't know the answer, I'll find someone who does.

So anytime you want to participate, leave a question in the comments section, and I'll collect them.

I'll start with a question from my neighbor:


Neighbor: Why do you always use the word "y'all"? You're not southern.

Well, neighbor, it's simple. I have a deep and abiding love for the Southern plural possessive. 
Example of plural possessive in action: "What are all y'all's plans for the weekend?"

I first heard the Southern plural possessive when I met my friend Raina (Ethel) from Louisiana, and it's been true love ever since. 


My brother-in-law recently commented on the number of wristbands out there, proclaiming the latest cause. 

It's gone from this: Autism Awareness to "I Heart Boobies" (breast cancer awareness)

We totally want in on that action. In picking our cause, we discussed many options:

(His arms get all the attention)

However, eventually we decided on a cause that is near and dear to our hearts, and affects more people per year than constipation. 

How many of us have had Ugly touch our lives? Are you ugly, or do you know someone who is?
Now, this was not inspired by anyone in particular, especially not the man I saw the other day outside of the grocery store. Or that one baby who obliterated the old adage "All babies are beautiful."  

There are no screening tests for Ugly. There are no risk factors (although there is something to be said for heredity). Ugly can hit anywhere, anytime. 

As a side note, if Ugly hits you unexpectedly, and it's an emergency, it's okay to call 9-1-1. 

Let us take a note out of Spain's book. That country has obviously found the answer to Ugly, judging by their men's Davis Cup Tennis team. 
(Spain's Tennis Elite: laughing at how handsome they are)

Remember: There are no ugly people. Only Ugly faces. And bodies. 

We'll discuss how to recognize the symptoms of Ugly on Friday. 

So, how was all y'all's holiday weekend? Do you have any questions for me? Do you have any causes you'd like to highlight? Do you have any personal stories involving Ugly?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Another Reason why Sam and I are Dorks... and how 2nd Grade Homework Baffles me

Good Friday, y'all.  Time for Thing 1 and Thing 2

Thing 1

Sam and I have been biking to his work in the mornings. Problem is, we only have my two mountain bikes that are about 15 years old. I'll be the first to admit, we look like dorks.

Sam's got it especially bad, since he has to ride the bike with the baby seat. 

Every time we get passed by a group of real cyclists (and trust me, we get passed a lot), they turn to get a look at the "baby" only to find Sam's backpack buckled in tight.

To add further humiliation, the seat's labeled "CoPilot". 

Lately, just for our own entertainment, we've taken to treating the backpack as if it really is a baby. We'll say things like, "Get ready for a turn!" and then when we go down a hill, we say "Wheeee! Wheeee!" We also pet the backpack, and when we hit a bump, we say, "Oh! Poor baby! Are you okay?"

And at intersections, we always take the first turn. If someone else makes a move, I put my hand out and growl, "Make way! Man with a baby!" and then I hold everyone back as Sam goes through. 

I have to admit, it's getting more fun every morning.

Thing 2

Kid C came home from school and showed me his homework yesterday. Here's one of the pages.

Notice anything unusual? How about a zoom.

I wanted to write a note to the teacher, saying, "Yes. An apple do have seeds. Thanks for asking."

Does anyone else have trouble understanding homework these days?

What are y'all doing this weekend? I'm watching tennis. 

By the way, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, Rafa Nadal is playing a match tonight at the U.S. Open, on ESPN 2. Excellent Friday night action.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's on my Mind... Fish, Rafa, and Harvesting my own Eggs

Merry Wednesday, yo.

Sam asked me what I was going to blog about today, and I told him, "Stuff that's on my mind."

He paused. And then said, "The World's Shortest Blog!"

In defense of Sam, I've been telling him lately that my brain's hit capacity, and I can't assimilate any new information. 

Nevertheless, here we go. Prepare yourselves for...

The World's Shortest Blog.

1. I appreciated all of your ideas for helping me earn money. My favorite was harvesting and selling my own eggs. 

So, for the low low price of $10,000, this baby could be yours! (Provided you could also get your hands on Barack Obama's... um... stuff.)
BroBak Obamaton

2. I came home from SCBWI in L.A. to find this on our cabinet:

Now, most of you remember our track record with the un-killable beta fish. As they say in baseball, "Three up, Three down!"

Last July, we packed up the aquarium and put it in storage (or as I like to call it, "quarantine") and then I'm gone for 3 days and suddenly Sam thinks to himself, "Hey! I haven't killed a fish lately!"

His name's Sonic, and I told him the same thing I told the other three: "Welcome to the death cave."

And then I showed him our death list:

Chopie.       Lasted 2 months.         Consumption.
Chopester.   Lasted one weekend.   Dysentary.
Chopes.       Lasted 1 month.          The Pox.

But hey. If it makes him feel any better, he at least has a new name.

3. On a side note, my main squeeze Rafa Nadal won his first round match at the U.S. Open. We're off to a great start.
(Rafa, after seeing a picture of what our child could look like)

So, what's on all y'all's mind?