Friday, September 30, 2011

My Ode to a Body Part... and Why I Don't Have a Future in Poetry

I've had a dilemma in my life. I can either be physically fit... or I can be writer. I haven't figured out a way to do both. 

But I vow here and now that those days are over. I've been doing Zumba (and by "doing" I mean "stumbling over my two left feet and spontaneously clapping) and then I've also been doing Pilates (and by "doing" I mean "watching the people around me work their cores, and marveling at their strength").
Anyway, after a few weeks of this, something strange happened. I went to bed one night, and when I woke up the next morning, I wasn't alone. There was something small and unfamiliar near my stomach region. 

I ran to the bathroom mirror to find this:
Objects in mirror are less defined than they appear. Also, objects in picture are not my abs. They are a representation. To picture my abs, take this picture, add seven layers of fat and then subtract the hip dents.
That's right. The stranger in my bed was a stomach muscle. (Okay, there's a sentence I never thought I'd type).

I was so excited, I had to write about it.

So here is my ode to my stomach muscle.

ODE TO MY STOMACH MUSCLE (I'm not really creative with titles)

Oh stomach muscle.
Little stomach muscle.
You are so little
You are more like a chicken nugget taped to my belly

Are you so lonely
stuck on my tummy with no other
stomach muscles to keep you company?

Are you so cold
without that warm layer of fat
that for so many years cushioned you
from the harsh elements of the world?

I will keep you warm
I will cover you in t-shirts and cardigans and Spanx
I will keep you company
I will cradle you
and love you
I won't jar you or jerk you around
and we will sit on the couch
and watch movies
and read books
and we will never have to go out
and... wait. 
Stomach muscle? Where did you go?
Crap! Stomach muscle?

The only problem is that my stomach muscle is not a loyal friend. If he is neglected, or unappreciated, he will disappear on me, without a word. 

What about you? Anyone out there sit in a chair for a living? What do you do?

And... what are you up to this weekend? Anything fun? Will you be writing poems about body parts?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top Five Signs you have a Book Coming out in Three Months

Hey y'all. I thought I'd start this Wednesday off with a list. Because that's what I like to do. 

Top Five Signs you have a book coming out in three months:

5. You wander around the house, making declarations (in passive voice) of all the things you are NOT going to do.


"Hair shall henceforth be air-dried, and no amount of forthwithing will entice me to useth the flat-iron."


"Dinner shall forthwith be microwave-worthy, or it shall not be."

(Then your hubby answers: "It shall not be... what?" and you answer back: "It shall not be... made. At all. Or stuff.")

4. When you venture out of the house and into the sun, you flatten the palms of your hand against your eyes and dramatically shout, "It burns! It burrrrrnnnnnns!"

3. Casual conversations become critiques of your book. 

Neighbor: "Are you going to the pig roast on Friday?"

you: "How come nobody understands the strength of Nikki and Jack's love?!"

Neighbor: "Huh?"
you (thinking it was a logical train of thought): "You mentioned pigs, right?"

Neighbor: "Yeah?"

you (realizing logic is probably something you never had): "Nevermind."

2.You bemoan the fact that the New Years Holiday is encroaching on your launch date. Thankfully, you have an agent who reminds you launch dates are like birthdays: Except for the participant, nobody really notices them.

And the number one sign you have a book coming out in three months:

You make stupid lists like you're David Frakking Letterman.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Tomato that Launched a Thousand Accusations

Hello, y'all. 

I wrote you a song. To be sung to the tune of "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall":

Ninety-nine days til my book comes out
Ninety-nine days left to go
If only each day didn't feel like a year,
I'd still be sane by January 3rd. 

Sing it loud! Sing it pretty!

If you're looking for a way to pass the time, you can enter the Goodreads massive EVERNEATH giveaway here.

So I have a friend who keeps me in tomatoes. About every other day, she brings me a bowl full of these beauties:
The bowl is usually full, but I ate them before I took the picture

Today, as I was sitting at the computer snacking on these little beauties, Sam was wandering around the kitchen, getting ready to leave for work.

We were talking about random stuff. He crouched down, presumably to pick up some crumbs off the floor, then he ran something under the sink. He walked over to me, asked me a question, and nonchalantly put a tomato into the bowl. 

me: "Did you just sneak a tomato into the bowl?"

Sam (looking guilty): "No."

me: "I saw you." Pauses as realization hits. "You picked up a tomato off the floor... and tried to sneak it back into the bowl!"

Sam (caught in the act): "I washed it off first."

me: "I doesn't matter!" Digs the offending tomato out of the bowl. "You tried to trick me into eating a tomato off the ground!"

I handed him the tomato. 

Sam: "I knew you wouldn't eat it if you saw it, even though it's totally clean because I washed it."

me: "I would've eaten it, if you hadn't been so sneaky about it. It's not the fact that it was on the floor. It's the deception involved."

Sam: "You know tomatoes are covered in dirt from the outdoors before they hit your mouth, right?"

me: "Yes. But outside dirt is much cleaner than inside dirt."

sam: "So, you wouldn't have eaten it!"

me: "Shut up."

This is what comes after thirteen years of marriage. I knew he would never want a tomato to go to waste, and he knew I'd never eat one off the floor. Some people would think it's boring to know everything about your partner, but on the contrary... this morning it was very exciting. Passersby stopped to listen, hands cupped to ears, wondering about the fate of the offending tomato.

Accusations were thrown. Punches were not. But they were contemplated. 

So, how well do you know me? I love these tomatoes more than anything. When I finished off the entire bowl, and I wanted more, did I eat the offending tomato?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Saddest Banana in the World

Most of you know Kid C has been claiming he is "left-handed" ever since he had his cast taken off of his right arm. 

We've tried to be patient. Waited for him to figure out he is not left-handed. We don't want to push him into realizing an ugly truth: he is right-handed. 

Unfortunately, however, he is in third grade and his class is deep into learning cursive. 

The final breaking point was his Cursive 'B is for Banana' sheet. 
Take a look. It didn't start out well. 

If I draw them bigger, I'll only have to do, like, two.
Next came the actual word. Banana. 

Teacher: "Okay, Kid C. All you have to do is copy the example. Got it?"

Kid C: "Got it!"

Booo Yeah! Perfect. One says "Banana." The other says "Banana." An exact copy.
Teacher. "Umm... Okay. So do you notice how in cursive, the letters connect to each other in a flowing kind of way?'

Kid C: "Yes."

Teacher: "Try it again, but this time in cursive. "

Kid C: "Got it."
Score! Connective, flowing... brilliant banana.
Teacher (grunts in frustration): "Okay, Kid C. This time, try writing the entire word without letting your pencil leave the paper."

Kid C: "But it says banana."

Teacher: "Yes, but not in cursive. Can you try it again? With your pencil stuck to the paper the entire time?"

Kid C: "You got it!"

Cursive accomplished! The pencil never left the paper! Not even once.

Teacher (sighs): "Okay. Because I love pain, I'm going to ask you to try it one more time."

Kid C: "This is going to be the best banana yet."

So, yes, we are being mean parents and forcing him to change to his right hand. He is right-handed. We're not exactly being abusive or anything, are we? Because he gives me these puppy-dog eyes, and with a trembling lip, says, "But... but... I'm left-handed. I really think I'm left-handed. Please?"

I keep trying to tell him that just because we're making him write with his right hand, it doesn't mean he will actually lose his left hand. But he seems unconvinced. He goes around cradling his left hand, whispering sweet goodbyes. 

Ally Condie says part of her inspiration for a few of the scenes in Matched was the fact that our nation's kids are losing the ability to write. I have no idea what she's talking about. See above. I would like the evidence entered as Exhibit B. For Banana.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I'm Not Even Trying Anymore...

I'll be honest: Most days I don't shower. When choosing an outfit for the day, I say to myself, "I think I'm on day four of this particular jeans and t-shirt combo. Should we go for five?" Then I smell the armpits.

Inevitably, I answer "yes". 

Then when I go to do my makeup, I think, "I'm just gonna have to wash it off again tonight..."

So it's not like I'm known as "Brodi Ashton: She cared too much about her appearance."

But online, I'm a different person. I'm a little like a wilting flower.

Up until yesterday, I had things like Google searches for my name or for key words like EVERNEATH. But it's becoming a bit overwhelming, especially since a billion ARCs of EVERNEATH went out to bloggers last week. 

So I de-brodi-fied my computer. No alerts. No twitter phrase searches. No checking goodreads. 

And it felt GOOOOOOOD.

But then this morning, I turn on my computer in my study, and I realize I haven't de-Brodi-fied it. A twitter message from an EVERNEATH search pops up, saying something like:

"And then there's that one EVERNEATH. It's like they're not even trying anymore!"  
(I paraphrased, because I deleted the column before I could memorize it)

I hit the "delete search" as fast as I could, but the image of that tweet is burned on my brain, like bad porn. (Yes there is good porn and bad porn).

Now that phrase is infiltrating every aspect of my life.

I was in the shower and I forgot my face soap. I was all, "Mysterious tweeter was right. It's like I'm not even trying anymore!"

I went to put on my t-shirt/jeans combo that was on day five, and again, I was all, "I'm really NOT even trying anymore!"

I started writing this blog, and was all, "Why try anymore?"

Then Sam was noticing my extreme mania this morning, and he's all, "This is what you're like on a break from revisions? I'm not even going to try to understand the mechanics of your crazy anymore."

And I said, "I'm sorry you have to live with me."
He smiled and said, "I wouldn't not have it any other way."

Me: "Wouldn't not? WOULDN'T NOT? That's a double negative! That means you would have it any other way! It's like you're not even trying anymore!"

How about you? Would you not want me no other way? Or do you read my blog and think, "She's not not even not trying anymore!"

Since I have de-brodi-fied my online experience, if you want to get my attention with something nice to say, you can contact me through my "contact me" button on my blog. (Or of course leave a comment)

If you have something negative to say, please send an email to Sam. 

ADDED: I will still be on twitter, and participating in conversations, so feel free to @reply me anytime!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can you Name That Literary Character? And Win an ARC of EVERNEATH!

So many things to get to today!

1. First off, my sis-in-law is giving away an ARC of EVERNEATH on her blog. The rules to enter are pretty easy and straightforward, so give it a go by clicking here.

2. Second, the winner of the signed copy of BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE and an EVERNEATH guitar pick necklace is...


Please email me with your mailing address. My email is brodiashton at gmail dot com.

Thanks for everyone who entered, and participated in the Facebook trivia contest. I mailed out like 24 necklaces over the weekend. :)


I went to a blogger/writer social on Friday night (hosted by Mary Campbell) and we played a game where you stick the name of a literary figure on your forehead and you have to ask questions to figure out who you got.

I figured out the literary figure on my forehead in three simple questions. See if you can guess as well:

Question 1: "Is it a male or female?"
answer: "Male."

Question 2: "Is he hot?"
answer: "Yes. Way hot."

Question 3: "Is he supernatural or just plain human?"
answer: "Plain human."

Can you guess the literary character? (Don't scroll down if you want to try.)

Okay, so the answer was Fitzwilliam Darcy. Did anyone get it right? It was simple, really. All you have to know is "hot" and "not immortal".

4. It was my birthday yesterday.

Check out the gift my mom gave me:

Because nothing says "Happy thirty-somethingth Birthday!" like Katy Perry nail polish. I love my mom, and I'm grateful for the gift, but I just want to know the thought process behind it.

Was it: Hey! Brodi loves glitter! This looks perfect.

Or: Hey! Brodi wanted to be a Firecracker for Halloween one year!

or: Hey! Brodi has nails.

She also got me this sun hat:

I can only assume that in her mind, I'm either turning 12 or 80.

It's okay for me to say this. My mom doesn't read my blog. Don't tell her, okay?

I painted my nails:

For the record, the bottom coat is "Teenage Dream" and the top coat is "The One That Got Away."

So, what's everyone up to? I should be getting my "EVERNEATH 2: It's Everneath-ier" revision letter on Friday, so I'm trying to enjoy my last moments of freedom. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Break it to Kid C that he isn't really Left-Handed

I've officially given away all of my guitar pick necklaces after this week's trivia blast on the EVERNEATH Facebook Page.

I will have to make more. The necklaces are very small and intricate, so I've employed a bunch of hamsters to do the hand-painting on the guitar picks.

Their union is currently on strike, with a SHAME ON BRODI ASHTON sign in my front yard. But I am heading to the negotiating table soon, so we should be back on track in the near future.

I will announce the winner of BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE on Monday.

Meanwhile, Kid C got his cast off.

Look how brave he's being. And that is a saw going in the background. And that saw is loud. The first thing he said after the cast came off was, "So this is what I look like in the future."

He got it off on Tuesday, and ever since he's been keeping his right arm bent at a 90 degree angle, and his fingers stiff and together. So basically, the right half of his body is like a robot.

Each time we try to get him to straighten his arm, he screams, "You're breaking my arm!!" In public.

Also, he still does his homework with his left hand. He claims that he is permanently left-handed now. 

Somebody help me. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Learn some EVERNEATH trivia, and win some EVERNEATH swag

So, awesome blogger Windy set up a local ARC tour for EVERNEATH where reviewers could get a chance to read it and post their reviews.

Today, the first review is up over at Sara B. Larson's blog. You can check it out here.  Sara is also a writer, and her blog is definitely one you should check out. (That previous sentence was so awkward, what with the preposition at the end and all...)

I'm feeling pensive today. Exactly one year ago yesterday, my awesome agent Michael submitted EVERNEATH to several publishing houses. And exactly one year ago tomorrow, my editor Kristin Daly Rens (KDR) from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins bought it.  

So I've been reflecting on the journey. Here it is by the numbers:

11 months to write the book

4 Major Revisions with my editor. 2 with my agent.

20,000 words added after KDR bought it.

1 apostrophe removed (the original title was EVER'NEATH. The title before that was The Underneath. The title before that was Broken.) Added trivia: Bree Despain came up with the title EVER'NEATH.

5 foreign rights sold (U.K., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany)

1 sequel written

1 main character name change (Nikki's name was originally Nicole. It took me several months before I realized the two MC's were "Cole" and "Nicole". Seriously, Brodi?)
1 EVERNEATH quiz written. Do you go for the "Bad Boy" or the "Good Guy"? Soon you'll be able to take a quiz and find out. 

3,320 people who have signed up on Goodreads to read EVERNEATH. So Far. (Okay, that number is just crazy)

1 side character name change. Nikki works at the soup kitchen with a guy who was originally named Joel. There wasn't a problem until Nikki introduced Joel to her bffs Jack and Jules. "Jack, Jules, this is Joel. Joel, this is Jack and Jules." Can you spot the problem? So Joel became Christopher.  

I knew I had something with this book because Emily Wing Smith read the entire thing, and she normally doesn't like to read Paranormal.
After I got my agent Michael, we decided to change the ending of the book dramatically and turn it into a series.

Now for the fun part. Would you like a chance to win an EVERNEATH guitar pick necklace?

Here's what you do. Make sure you are a fan of the EVERNEATH Facebook Page. 

Next, study this blog post. Over the next few days, I'm going to be asking questions based on this EVERNEATH trivia. I'll post the question on the Everneath Facebook Page. The first three people to answer the question correctly in the comments under the question will get a necklace! It's easy!
Want another entry to win two necklaces plus a signed copy of Emily Wing Smith's BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE? 

Tweet about the contest!

Something like:

Wanna win some EVERNEATH swag? Check out @brodiashton 's blog post on EVERNEATH trivia.

Then let me know you tweeted about it in the comments of this post. You'll get an entry to win two necklaces (there are two types: one with the band and one with the cover) and the signed book.

What do you think? Fun? Boring? Totally awesome?

*I think I might have to limit it to the U.S.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stupid Fortune Cookies that Didn't Live up to their Potential... and a Surprise from my Editor

I went to dinner the other night with writer peeps Bree Despain and Emily Wing Smith. It was Chinese food. After dinner, we opened our fortune cookies.

You know how fortune cookies are usually all, "Something amazing is coming your way!" or "People are talking about you right now... and it's good news!" or "Remember that thing you were worried about? Well, it's all better!"

This restaurant was different. The first fortune was pretty innocuous:
"Stick with it! Patience is crucial to your success."

Fine. It's sort of a mantra I'm already familiar with, but fine. Thanks for the reminder. It's not necessarily a guarantee of success, though, is it? Patience may or may not bring it, but you should be patient regardless. 

Fortune Cookie #2:
"You have remarkable power which you are not using."

This one sounds like it could be great: "You have remarkable power!"

But then it takes a dip: "...And you're squandering it."

So, really it sounds like my mother: Why can't you live up to your potential?

There's no hope in this one. There's no silver lining. No promises of, "But if you work on it, you could totally use all of your power!" No amount of patience will bring you success.

It's basically an indictment of you as a person. The fortune cookie has sentenced you, with no hope for bail.

Then there's Fortune Cookie #3:
"Never mess up an apology with an excuse."

So, not only do you have something to apologize for, you're messing it up by trying to excuse your crummy behavior. 

How about you, fortune cookie? You're not taking your own advice! You're using the excuse that you're a fortune cookie to spread your own misfortune that the only thing you're good for is to be eaten!

*deep breaths*

Now I'm sure my next fortune will read:

"Expect to be shouting at inanimate pastries in your very near future."

Then I can be all, "What do you know? Fortune cookies really do work!"

Thankfully I opened a more exciting package than the fortune cookie this weekend. The mailman dropped off a large padded envelope from my publisher.  When I opened it, I found this:

Yep. It was Rafa's new book, with a note from my editor! 

Suddenly, my fortune is looking bright. And tan. And a little bit muscular.  

By the way, Rafa is playing in the finals of the U.S. Open today against Novak Djokovic. Anyone watching? 

Anyone else have bad luck with fortunes? Give me some of your best bad fortunes! (Real or make-believe)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kid C gets Chastised for Being Violent

Hi Y'all! I'm back from Vegas, rested and recovered. I did, however, lose my new sunglasses. I guess what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas, because I bought the sunglasses on the strip.

Oh well, I'll tell you all about it next week.

So, I was going through Kid C's homework yesterday, and discovered he had to redo one of his assignments. The teacher had asked him to create a short story based on this prompt:

"Here's How to Get Rid of a Monster!"

Keep in mind Kid C has a cast on his right arm, so he's writing with his left, and that's why his handwriting is so bad. At least, that's what we tell ourselves.

I'll translate his story for you:

"Find a light place to sleep, and find a knife and stab it behind its back and scare the monster, then you put his lifeless body in the cold sea."

His teacher made him do it over again, with the instruction to "Rewrite with no VIOLENCE"

I understand that schools have a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence, and we whole-heartedly agree with this policy. We love our teacher and understand why she had to say something.

I do, however, have a problem with the assignment if you can't answer with violence. How else are you supposed to get rid of a monster?  I'm sorry, but if I were facing a monster, the last thing I would want is a hero who tries to kill it with kindness. Smother it with hugs. Slay it with butterflies and rainbows.

No, if I were facing a monster, I would want a hero who would find a light place to sleep (not sure how this tactic fits in with the whole thing), find a knife, stab it in the back and dump its limp, lifeless body in the cold sea.

Now if the question were, "How Do You Make Friends?" that would be different. I would not recommend this tactic. But in any other situation, I think Kid C's answer was perfect. 

If I incorporated this rule in my book, it would be a very different story. Of course, there is that one scene where the main character uses glitter to kill a dragon. 

What do you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

How my Car Accident this Morning Dredged up Embarrassing Memories... which I will share with you.

So, I totally got in a car accident. 

Just now. Like ten minutes ago.

I was on my way home from a celebratory breakfast, which is like a celibatory breakfast, only more fun, when I got rear-ended. 

It happened as I was trying to turn right onto a busier street and I was at a red light. 

You know how you inch out? Well, I was inching out. And the guy behind me decided to go on ahead and turn right. But I was in front of him. He smashed into me.

I'm not mad. I can understand how bad the guy feels. 

This one time, in a similar situation, I was trying to turn right at a red light. I thought the car in front of me had gone. I was looking left, waiting for a break in the traffic, and I must have let up on the brake because suddenly I felt a bump, and when I looked up, I was really close to the car in front of me. 

You know that feeling, when you hear metal on metal? Yeah, it sucks. The car in front turned the corner and I followed, thinking we were looking for a place to pull over, call the cops, and exchange information. 

But he didn't pull over. 

We passed a grocery store, and I thought okay, he'll pull over in that parking lot.

He didn't.

He started to pick up speed, so I sped up behind him, thinking, Why is he going so darn fast? I just rear-ended him!

I honked and waved, but all he did was press on the gas. 

All sorts of scenarios passed through my brain. Maybe he was a criminal. Maybe he was a wanted man, and couldn't risk police attention. Maybe he was on his way to bomb a building, and didn't have time to swap insurance cards.

Then he entered the on ramp to the freeway. Going the opposite direction I was going. I didn't follow, because, hey, I did my part. I tried.

But inside, I was so relieved that this possible serial killer - or maybe a bank robber - ditched me. 

When I got home, I checked the front of my car to assess the damage. But the bumper was in pristine condition. 

Weird, because the jolt from the accident was rather large. 

Then I went around to the back of the car. There was a huge dent in the fender.

And it all dawned on me. 

Yep, I was the one who had gotten rear-ended.
I was the one who had raced away, like a wanted serial killer. 

It was not my proudest moment.