Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I Hate Halloween, and My New Name for this Holiday

First off, the winner of the signed ARC of EVERNEATH is...


The winner was chosen using Random.Org:

Congratulations DenverSims! Please email me your mailing address: brodiashton at gmail dot com

On to the post! 

Today is Halloween. 

I hate Halloween. 


The extreme hate started four years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer ON HALLOWEEN. 

That night, we digested the news, and despite my positive attitude, I couldn't help but wonder if that Halloween would be his last. If you asked the doctors, it was. Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer comes with a ticking clock: six months. 

But the next Halloween, after an extensive surgery, he was still here. And then the doctors gave us another number: 6 months to a year.

And on the third Halloween, he was still here.I had to wonder if the doctors owned calendars.

Last January, he was given another number: 6 to 10 months. What is it with doctors and their nice round numbers? How come it's never 7  to 11 months?  

Anywho, today is the fourth Halloween since we heard the news. And he's still here. And he's not going anywhere.

So, instead of Happy Halloween, I prefer to think of today as HAPPY "TAKE-THOSE-NUMBERS-AND-SUCK-IT, DOC" DAY!

Not sure it has the same ring as Happy Halloween, but I think with enough practice it will catch on. Plus, it involves fun hand gestures!

My mom and dad a few weeks ago. My dad gained five pounds. Check out his muffin top!
And a HAPPY "SUCK IT, DOCTOR" DAY to you. Here's to you and whoever you'd like to say "SUCK IT" to!

Side note: I think that's the most I've ever used the phrase "suck it" in one post. I hope I didn't offend anyone.

Yesterday, after Kid C said a prayer and asked God to take away Grandpa's cancer, he said, "Grandma, what's the opposite of cancer?"

She looked at him like it was the most reasonable question ever, and said, "Cure. Cure is the opposite of cancer."

Here's to finding the opposite of cancer.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Costumes, Lego Star Wars, and Where I'll be Next Weekend

Hey Y'all! 

First off, some housekeeping. Wednesday's contest will close on Sunday at midnight. The winner will be chosen at random by on Monday. 

Second: I will be at the Vegas Valley Book Festival next weekend. Anyone else going to be there? I will be giving away 15 (FIFTEEN!) ARCs of EVERNEATH at the Paranormal Ball, along with some swag like guitar pick necklaces and such.

So, if you have not yet registered for the Paranormal Ball, you can sign up here.

And if you want more information about the incredible lineup at the Book Festival, you can check it out here.

My awesome sisters-in-law are possibly making the trip to Vegas to hang out with me at the ball. One of them was concerned about costumes.

sis-in-law #1: "What does one wear to a Paranormal Ball?"

Sis-in-law #2: "Well, something Paranormal."
#1: "Like Princess Leia? Should I dress as Princess Leia?"

#2: "Umm... she's not really a paranormal character."

#1: "Okay. How about... Lego Star Wars? Should I dress as Lego Star Wars?"

#2: "Again, not really paranormal. Think more along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

#1: "But, I don't look a thing like Buffy."
To be fair, though, she doesn't really look like Princess Leia either. Or Lego Star Wars. (Not quite sure how someone would resemble Lego Star Wars in the first place.)

I think it was possible that sis #1 was confusing "Paranormal" with "ComiCon".

So, if you would like to see me dressed as a surprise (surprise as in "I have no idea what I'm wearing yet!") and my sis-in-law dressed as an entire set of Lego Star Wars, come to the ball! 

Thirdly, yesterday was the Halloween Parade. 

Kid B went as Toad.
He's holding hands with his teacher, Miss Newman. He would be adopted by her if he could.

Kid C went as a Human Whoopie Cushion
Pull my finger.
Nine years ago, I worried that if we named him "Carter" people would call him "Carter the Farter".  Now, I'm dressing him up as a Whoopie Cushion. 

He rocked that costume, by the way. He went up and down the aisles cheering and waving, as if he were Thor about to be crowned king, and not a giant pink tooter.

So, what's everyone doing this weekend? Any plans for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Change in the EVERNEATH Due Date... and I'm Giving Away a Surprise

Hey y'all.

I have an announcement. AN ANNOUNCEMENT!

Ahem: EVERNEATH will now be released January 24th, 2012. 

A few of you may have noticed the change on Mr. Widgy (on the sidebar) and I've had a couple people ask me about it, but I haven't had the all-clear to announce it officially until today. 

If you have Mr. Widgy on your own website, you'll notice they all automatically changed. 

The business reasons for the change are awesome! But I can't really go into them, except to say it means some bookstores are really excited about EVERNEATH. Not to be all cryptic or anything. 

And personally, I am looking forward to having a little more space between the holidays and my book launch. 

But it's always hard to wait. My editor ended her enthusiastic email with, "... and it's only three weeks later!" 

And on the outside, I was all, "That's nothing!"

But on the inside, I was all, "Do you know what could happen in three weeks? My nails could grow a quarter-inch! I could learn a new Zumba dance routine! The world could end!"

Although in reality, none of those things will probably happen, because three weeks is not very long, and I own a good pair of nail clippers. 

Now, on to the celebration, because we have officially passed the three-month mark! Again! And to make up for that cryptic "The reasons are awesome, but I can't talk about them" statement (because I really hate it when people do that) I am giving away an ARC of EVERNEATH.

Did you hear me? I'm giving away an ARC! From my own personal stash. 

To enter, simply leave me a comment in this post. One entry per person. No other hoops to jump through. 

So, be all, "Yay!" with me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

How the Play OUR TOWN is Related to EVERNEATH

I'm blogging today! Only, not here. I'm blogging over at the YA Muses, a group of upcoming YA authors who are also a great bunch of ladies (and one man).

In the blog, I talk about the two writers who influenced the story behind EVERNEATH. So let's show those YA Muses the juggernaut that is the power of this blog! Hop on over (don't hop really, though, because it's bad on the knees) to the blog post by clicking here.

Please stop by. So I don't look like a dork. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I'm Driving to Blackfoot, Idao

Hey y'all! I'm blogging from the road again. Sam and I loaded the boys into the car and we are heading to Idaho. Blackfoot, in particular. Why, you ask? (You asked, right?)

Because years and years ago, I was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her... And then asking him to quit his job in the city and move with her to the tiny town of Blackfoot, Idaho so she could be a reporter in a tiny news station.

And the rest is history. And by "history" I mean I spent a year chasing news where there was no news, and Sam spent a year entertaining himself by collecting corn husks to weave into baskets and sell on street corners for money.

And we needed the extra money, because I signed my contract with the NBC affiliate for 16,000 dollars a year. That is not an exaggeration.

After a year we went a little crazy. I asked the hard questions, only to realize I was holding my microphone up to a tree. And Sam replaced the corn husks with his own bellybutton hair, weaving beautiful hairy baskets.

We began stockpiling weapons and raging against THE MAN, only THE MAN turned out to be the homeless guy who hung out at the WalMart.

Eventually I realized I hated television news, and Sam hated basket-making, so we moved to London, and we haven't been back to Blackfoot since.

Until today. We are taking the boys to see our old apartment (we lived on Wagon Wheel Drive). We will visit the two Arctic Circles (yes, there were two!) and eat at that one place we can't remember the name of.

For years, we considered Blackfoot a four letter word, not spoken of in social circles. It was nothing against Blackfoot. It was only because neither of us were getting what we wanted out of life. But today, twelve years later, we realize there were good memories too. Not only that, but the first book I ever wrote was about a 17 year old girl who was a reporter for her school. In Blackfoot. And she has to deal with an impending alien invasion, set to wipe out her town.

Some people have Georgia on their minds. Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco. I left my brain in Blackfoot.

So, what's everyone else up to this weekend?

P.s. I typed this on my iPad. Sorry for any typos.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Post with all the Wisdom and Insight

I envy those blogs that impart cutting edge, important, frank wisdom. Sometimes I want to be the person who makes a statement, and then people pass it along, saying things like, "A must-read post for anyone who's ever felt afraid!" Or "Brodi Ashton weighs in with the final say on the latest brouhaha over the bangs-or-no-bangs controversy" Or something like that. 

So, writer peeps, let's have an important discussion. Below, I have three essential topics on which I have insight... on... for them (okay, that sentence totally got away from me. It happens when I'm trying to be insightful).

1. I keep having this recurring dream that one of my legs is shorter than the other. Like, a foot shorter. Then I try to walk like a typical person, and I look strange. And all the while I'm thinking, how did this happen?

And then I remember something one of my childhood friend's mother told us: "If you keep standing like that, with more weight on one of your legs, and your hip sticking out like your a hussy, it will stunt that leg's growth."

And then, in my dream-self-brain, I think, Ohmyheck, she was right!

So, dream interpreters, what does this mean?

2. Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was brainstorming ideas for my Everneath 2 revision when an epiphany hit. The only problem was, I was too tired to write it down. (Writing it down would've involved rolling over to my nightstand, grabbing the notebook there and making a few notes.)
So I thought of a key-word for the idea: "Patchwork". 

I ingrained the keyword in my head. "Patchwork, patchwork, patchwork... remember patchwork."

And then, for a test, I'd let my brain relax for a few moments, and then I'd be all, "What's the word, Brain?!"

And I'd answer myself, "Patchwork!"

This morning I woke up, and the first thing that popped into my head was, "Patchwork."

Only now, I can't remember the associating idea. The epiphany. It's gone. Lost in a NyQuill haze.

So, writer peeps, what did Patchwork mean?

3. While I was driving down the street, I saw an old man jogging. He was wearing a white v-neck shirt, and the low point of the "V" reached almost to his bellybutton. And yes, there was chest hair. And bellybutton hair. 

When he caught me looking, he nodded, as if to say, "I know. Can you believe how much I rock this look?"

And then he winked. As if to say, "You're welcome."

I mouthed the words "Thank you."

So, yon Bloggerville, how much do you love bellybutton hair?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Burying Uncle Glendon

The directions to the ranch are as follows:

Once you hit the dirt road, take a right at every fork. If you pass the "Last Chance Ranch", you still haven't gone far enough.

About three hours into the drive, you see this:
and this:

And then after you pass the Last Chance Ranch, you hit the Johnson Ranch. 

And that's where we buried Uncle Glendon. A true cowboy.
Glendon Johnson
His brother, my father-in-law, dedicated the grave, paying respect to the extreme power of nature in this part of the world. The man-made structures here can be about as inconsequential as a layer of dust over the landscape, easily wiped out by a strong wind or some other force of nature.

And yet, the Johnson ranch still stands, and will go on as the final resting place for Uncle Glendon, and his two children who preceded him in death, until nature decides otherwise. 

How often, with today's technology, does the title of pallbearer mean physically laboring to lower the casket of a loved one deep into the earth? 

How often do children get the chance to aid in the burial of a beloved elder, while dust suspended in the air clings to the tears on their cheeks?

How often do we get to cover our hands in the dirt that our loved ones are returned to? Tiny hands filling the empty space, sure of the how, but unsure of the why.

Dust to dust...
The old giving way to the new...

It was an unforgettable experience. We'll miss you Uncle Glendon. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Has this Ever Happened to you when you're holding the door open for someone?

You know how you're walking into a building and you can sense someone behind you, and you think to yourself, is that person behind me close enough that I should hold the door open for them?

Because if you think the person sounds like they're just a few yards behind you, you should hold open the door so it doesn't slam in their face. But have you ever held the door open and then looked behind you and the person is like a block away?

And then you're in that awkward position where you're holding the door forever, and the person behind you has to jog, or at least look like they're making an effort to jog because you're sitting there waiting for them to come through the door you're holding open?

And then the person you're waiting for is an elderly person, who has sped up her shuffle walk now that she knows you're waiting, and everyone involved in the situation knows it would be better if you just went inside the stupid building instead of standing there making an old lady get the lead out of the walker, but you can't help but think you'll seem rude if it looks like you're giving up on her by slamming the door in her face (well it would be in her face if she weren't moving at mosey-speed)? And you would never want someone to think you're ageist?

And then five minutes later, after several other people have entered and exited the building, and the old lady (you've since named her Bertha, but only in your mind) has merely halved the distance, and did she just clutch her chest? And did you hear someone say, "Why does she hate old people?"

Yeah. That was my morning. Who's with me?


*self five*

I'm on a road trip today, so if it takes me a while to respond that's why. But I will be reading every comment!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ask me Anything Day!

Hey y'all. I thought it'd be fun to make this Ask Me Anything Day.

Do you have a question about publishing? Writing? Revising? Hair Dyeing? Ask away in the comments, and I'll answer in the comments. (Novel idea, isn't it?)

And a shout out to the lurkers! Do you read my blog but never comment? Come on over and say "hi"! I will say "hi" back! And nobody will be hurt in the process!

Do you have questions about writing routines? My fondness for Diet Coke? My input on the cover for EVERNEATH? Ask away!

Okay, this should give you lots of ideas for questions to ask. Only, please don't leave me hanging. It would suck to be all, "Ask me anything day!" and then I hit the refresh button on my blog and, like, nobody's out there. That is always my biggest fear in doing this type of post. 

To start us off, I'll take a question from our beloved Question-Maker (who has made a special trip from his home in the space between rainbows and dreams).

QM: Hi Brodi. It's great to be back. So, here's the question I've been dying to ask: Do you ever find yourself questioning that whole "shower once a week" strategy?

me: Bite me, Question-Maker. 


Monday, October 10, 2011

Seven Easy Steps to Reading a Revision Letter

So, last Friday I got my revision letter for the sequel to Everneath (EVERNEATH 2: IT'S EVERNEATH-IER). This is always a scary time, I think for most writers. Unless you're Stephenie Meyer. She probably writes her own revision letters. Because she can do that. Because she's Stephenie Freakin' Meyer. 

When I know my revision letter is coming, I like to prepare myself. I look in the mirror and say:

"Your editor likes you. She likes your book. She likes your characters. It's not personal."

"Remember revision letters are just more writing. You like writing."

Then I get all existential:
"Remember your book is just a bunch of words. Made up of tiny letters. Which are really just blips on a computer screen. Why are you so attached to blips? What did they ever do for you?"

and then I get personal:

"Seriously, reflection, your hair is, like, white."
and then defensive:

"Shut up, mirror-me! The box told me I'd look like Sarah Jessica Parker!"

Then you get the actual letter. I have a process for this that involves seven easy steps. I'm not saying this will work for everyone. I'm just saying it works for me. 
Seven Steps to Reading a Revision Letter

1. The moment when you get the revision letter, spring back from the computer as if it is rabid. 

This will give you literal space between you and all of your mistakes.

2. Jog a few laps around the kitchen island, shouting old World War II phrases of battle, like: "Mayday Mayday!" and "Tora Tora Tora!" and "Vive l'Empereur !"

This will get your blood flowing, thus getting you ready for the next step, which is...
3. Reading the letter.  

Not you, though. You still stay away from the letter. Let someone more responsible, and less prone to hair dyeing mistakes, read the letter. In my case this person is Sam.

4. Have your more responsible half read all of the positive sentences from the letter, and skim over the rest. 

This will sound something like: "Blah blah blah... Oh, she really likes the ending. Blah blah blah blah... oh, she uses the word 'potential' a lot here. Blah blah blah."

5. Print the letter. 
While it is printing, stand next to the printer with your significant other, counting the pages as they print. Say things like, "It's probably going to be nineteen* pages long!" so that you can be pleasantly surprised when it is shorter.
*caution: Aim high because you really don't want to hit that number.

This time, it was seven pages long.

6. Go to dinner, and have your significant other mention briefly some of the highlights of the things your editor wants to change. 

This way, when you read the actual letter, you can already have some ideas as to how to fix things. You can even convince yourself that you were going to fix these things anyway, and her letter just confirms it.

7. Finally, blog about reading the editorial letter before you read the editorial letter. 

Um... check.

I just realized my "Seven Steps to Reading a Revision Letter" program doesn't involve actually reading the letter. So, I guess I should end this post and read it, since I got it three days ago. Unless you don't want me to go.

*eyes unread revision letter on kitchen table*

Cuz I could totally stay. And hang out for a bit. We could talk and stuff.

*imagines revision letter mocking me*

I mean, really. One more day of freedom won't hurt, right?

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Hair Disaster. Do not adjust your Computer Screen.

I don't know if it's the weather.

I don't know if it's hormones.

I don't know if it's an attack of the crazies.

But about once a year, I feel the need. THE NEED. To dye my hair at home.

As Edward is drawn to Bella, I am drawn to the Nice-'N-Easy aisle at the Rite Aid. 

Each time, I say, "This time it will be different. This time it won't be a disaster."

Isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

As I went to take a picture for the blog this morning, I was face to face with all of my hair disasters over the years. This is a screen shot of my computer. Take a look at the bottom row of pictures:
There's the time I tried to go brunette:
But it wasn't "brunette enough" for certain people (Bree Despain).

So I went to Walmart. 30 minutes later, it was this:

Two weeks later, it faded to this:
and it settled into a nice greenish dirty blond color. My hair rejected the brunette.

This time around, I tried blond. The first dye job resulted in orange roots.

The second resulted in brassy roots.

Most people would've stopped at that point. Most people are smarter than me.

I tried to compensate by using purple to counteract the brass. The bottom half of my hair turned actual purple. The top half became a bright yellow.

It looked like I had a dead canary on my head. There are no pictures because I cried. I literally bawled my guts out. I woke up the next morning with that sick sinking feeling that you get when you wake up with a dead canary on your head. You know that feeling? Probably not. Because you wouldn't get yourself in this situation.

I went to the store to by some more purple. When I got home, Sam tried to wrestle the box out of my hands. The conversation may have sounded like this:

me: "I have to fix it!"

him: "You've been trying to fix it for 24 hours now!"

me: "But this time will be different!"

him: "Your hair will fall out!"

me: "Better bald that than the Canary-Head!"

I pushed him out and slammed the door shut. Locked it behind me. And like a crack addict who just scored a hit, I greedily tore open the box and laughed maniacally at the mirror. The girl in the mirror showed a lot of teeth, and an entire ring of white around each eye. She was spooky.

Anywho, it only took six dye jobs (no, that is not an exaggeration) to get to this:
 And honestly, the picture doesn't do the purple and yellow streaks justice. 

Enjoy it now. Because it's all about to fall out.

By the way, I originally wanted to dye my own hair so I could save money. 

I spent $60 on hair dye and $30 on deep conditioners. Oh, and $20 on two hats that I plan on wearing for the next few months. 

Here's to frugality! *clink*

Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this. Pretty please.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts on Tab, Puke, Movies and Pop Tarts (a post brought to you by Sam)

It is October.  It is the Baseball playoffs and using a baseball analogy, I have been called in to relieve Brodi.  You see, last night, Brodi didn't feel very well and only got a couple of hours of sleep.  She should be fine, but now she gets to rest.  

But, about 5am, I hear Kid B - who does not believe much in speaking - calling out to me, 'Daddy, its puke. I puke-y.'  You are right Kid B, you are puke-y all over your bed.  So, it has been a fun morning taking care of him.  He has handled this all without crying, though.  He just keeps telling me 'So-rry, So-rry.'  I inform him that 'Sorry' does not undo the puke-y on the floor...just kidding.  I just give him a hug and tell him that it is OK.  He is a tough kid.  If you have any suggestions on quick fixes to this, I am all ears (I would be all hands as well, but I am too busy cleaning things up).  He actually seems totally fine and hasn't puked since early this morning, so I think we are past the rough stage.

We saw 'Contagion' a couple of weeks ago.  Let me tell you - when you see that movie and then a week or two later, your boy is want to pick up the phone and call the President of the United States and yell 'My boy is sick, it is probably a deadly virus and we are all doomed.'  Good movie.  It was awesome in the theater as well.  There was a man that kept clearing his throat thru the whole movie.  Loudly and grossly.  He probably did it ever 3-4 minutes.  And every single time that he did it, all 100 movie watchers would audibly gasp.  Every single one of us thought this guy was killing us with every 'aaacccckkkkk' he let out.  If anything like this movie ever happens, we are locking ourselves in our basement with a HUGE supply of Pop Tarts, Diet Coke, Tab and Twizzlers.  We will wait it out.  On a sidenote - I think that Tab may actually turn out to be the cure all for all diseases and trouble.  Drink Tab and it will basically fix whatever is wrong with you. *This statement has not yet been proven accurate, nor has it been  approved by the FDA.

When I read things, I like the actual thing, not an EReader.  I get two newspapers delivered to our house, every day.  I still get magazines delivered to our house (Business Week, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and Consumer Reports).  I still buy books.  With that said, I recently purchased a book on our Kindle.  And I liked it.  I like how it keeps its place as to where I am in reading...I like that it is small and easy to carry around...I like that I can use my phone's Kindle App to read the book as well and it takes me to the last page read, with whichever device I am using...I will still be a book buyer guy as well as a newspaper guy, but I can say that I like the e-reader much more than I thought I would.

Thanks for putting up with this post.  I gotta go check in on Kid B to make sure that the puke-y is really gone and that it aint coming back.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Four Things on a Monday Morning (With Pictures!)

Four Things!

1. Sam was getting a root canal the other day. I sent him a text to let him know I was going to be in my Zumba class.

Here's what the text said after autocorrect:
I figured this was the best way to break it to him.

2. We love our pop tarts. So much that when Kid B saw them in the store, he brought them to his face and snuggled them against his cheek.
Fighting the waif look one box at a time.
 3. Yesterday my family got together to watch our church's general conference. The men in were captivated.
I can hear better with my eyes closed too.
4. Do kids ever look cuter than when they are on a bridge in the mountains?
They're cute until you realize that Necie (the lone girl) is triumphantly displaying the snake she just killed. Kidding. 
So, how was your weekend?