Monday, April 30, 2007

Attention Arizona writers (and potential stalkers)

Hey all,
This Saturday, May 5th I'll be at the Phoenix College writing conference:

The 3 C's of Writing: Creativity, Craft, Commitment. Publishing professionals will present workshops and panels to inspire writers to express the best of their talent.

Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m. Conference hours - 8:45 a.m to 5:15 p.m.

There will be other cool authors there, in fact some that are way cooler than I am. (A hard feat, I know.) David Morrell will be there, and he wrote the book that later became the Rambo series. This guy had lunch boxes made in the likeness of his character. I will know I've arrived when kids are toting around my characters to keep their lunches company.

You can find out more information about the conference by cutting and pasting this address.

So anyone who's interested in writing, or you know, if you feel like stalking might be your chosen profession, that's where I'll be this Saturday.

Hope to see you there! (Unless of course you really are a stalker, and then keep in mind that David Morrell is the cool one.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I'm updating my school visit flyer and I needed some quotes from Booklist, Kirkus, and School Library Journal to prove that my books are really as wonderful as I say. (And oh yes, they are that wonderful!)

So I'm flipping through reviews and I realize that about half of my reviews use the word 'romp' somewhere in them. As in, "Rallison again delivers a high school romp that will give readers plenty of fun." and "This is a witty, often hilarious romp that should appeal to young readers looking for light, enjoyable fiction."

I hadn't realized it until now, but apparently I'm very romping. I guess that's better then the other word I hear thrown around about my books--the f word. Yes, that's right, fluff.

Anyway, soon I will be sending out a gazillion flyers to media specialists in several states. Let me just tell you all now--you want to book me for a visit. I'm romping.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tagged again

I've been tagged again.

As far as the history tag--sorry folks, I refuse to mention my birthday. I try to ignore it as much as possible. We're not even on speaking terms really.

Here are a list of things that should happen on my birthday though:

1) Pizza declared healthy.
2) The government institutes a program where anyone with more than three children receives a subsidy for a maid.
3) Spelling of all words required by law to make sense.
4) And of course: Janette Rallison day declared holiday.
5) Followed by: The Newbery committee apologizes for overlooking her all of these years.

Hey, it could happen.

As for the other tag, I'm coerced into telling the world eight more little known things about myself. (You know, for all of those avid Janette Rallison fans who are making a shrine to me in their homes.)

Here's a short list:

1) My yard--without my permission--has become a stray cat sanctuary. I used to make fun of the crazy cat ladies. Now I am one.

2) I'm addicted to chocolate. Chocolate is my happy place.

3) I can't spell. Really. And yet I'm still a writer, thus proving all of my school teachers wrong. Thank you, spell check!

4) I don't tan. It's just one more way my life isn't fair.

5) I'm a romantic at heart and

6) I hate sad endings. This is the reason I refuse to watch both Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. Who needs to see people die? Did I mention that I hated the movie The Prestige? Well, it bears repeating.

7) I hate sirens. When I hear them I always have to quell the urge to call my family to make sure they're okay.

8) As a child I learned my numbers (and addition, subtraction, etc.) by assigning personalities to the numbers. I sort of thought that everyone did this, and it wasn't until I was working with my fourth child and said things like, "You can remember the nine because he's the sneaky one," that I realized that no, the rest of you don't do this.

It really explains so much about me, doesn't it?

Friday, April 20, 2007

I hate The Prestige

No, this blog isn't about how hard it is to be famous. (Like I'd know--although lately Brad and Angelina don't look too happy on the cover of the tabloids, so it's probably true.)

This blog is about the movie I just watched: The Prestige. I hated it. I know this has nothing to do with writing and I'll probably take this blog off tomorrow but I just had to vent.

The problem with the movie is that it was well written. It's not like other bad movies which you can spot after five minutes and therefore spare yourself the pain of having to sit through them. Oh no, this movie had an interesting premise. It was well acted. You watch it captivated, to see if it will end the way you're guessing. But here is my advice: Don't watch it. It doesn't end the way you expect, it ends much, much worse.

I have been walking around the house for the last half an hour repeating, "What a horrible movie! Who wrote that movie? Is Stephen King in the credits?"

However if you're into movies where you get to watch revenge destroy people, then yeah, you might like it. For all of you people who want to be happy: Go read one of my books.

Now I will try, pointlessly, to get some sleep.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why you need an agent

I'm often asked by aspiring authors if they need agents. If you want to write for the national market, the answer is yes. And it's not because an agent--who actually schmoozes with editors--will know where to send your manuscript. It's not because an editor will actually read an agented manuscript, as opposed to the unagented ones which stack up inside of the office to henceforth be used as free insulation. No, you need an agent my friend, because agents are the only ones in the business who can decipher royalty statements.

Royalty statements, by the way, are misnamed. They don't make you feel like royalty; they make you feel like an idiot, because you can't figure them out. I just got my last royalty statement from Walker, and I'm not kidding, it was 15 pages long. They publish books that are shorter than that.

None of it made sense, but it came through my agent, so I can just file it somewhere. See how nice that is? Trust me. If you want to be a writer, you need an agent. You also need a cheerleading section and a housekeeper, but that is the subject for another blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The conference/ Janette confesses

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The LDStorymakers conference is always a ton of fun. This is mostly because so many of the LDStorymakers are incurable hams. (As opposed to cured ham, which is something completely different.) In costume, they get up in front of a hundred strangers and perform skits and songs. Honestly, someone should send Tristi Pinkston to American Idol. James Dashner, our fearless MC was also a hoot—and the odd thing is that neither one of these people write comedies. James writes fantasy and Tristi writes tear-jerking historicals with names like: Strength to Endure. I will not go on with a complete rundown of the group as there are too many of them, but the next time you are reading one of Josi Kilpack, Shirley Bahlmann, or Julie Wright’s books think of them on stage wearing tiaras.
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Perhaps the most memorable class for me was the one on public speaking—because I realized I’d been doing everything wrong. See, apparently you are never supposed to say the word, “Um” in front of a crowd.

I had to teach the next hour. Do you know what the quickest way to derail your entire presentation is? Catch yourself saying the word “Um” and then try and stop yourself from saying it again. My class got to watch me having an “Um” nervous break down for the first ten minutes until I finally convinced myself to stop paying attention to what I was saying and just teach the class.

It is also always fun for me to hang out with fellow writer, Bill Gardner, (AKA Willard) who grew up with me in the small town of Pullman, Washington. I find it interesting that both of us had this common hobby/talent/obsession of writing and yet we never knew it about each other until we were adults, living in different states, and happened to join the same writers group.
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Although I guess it isn’t too surprising that we never connected since he was older and too cool to talk to me. He denies this by the way, and insists he was shy, but really, how many of the cool, popular kids are actually shy? Yeah, I didn’t buy that excuse either.

So there was this one really tense moment when I was about to give a presentation to the entire conference and James, who was introducing me, said, “Since Bill and Janette grew up together, I asked him to give me an embarrassing story about her.”

I swear I saw my entire life flash before my eyes, well at least the embarrassing stuff anyway, which is a considerable chunk.

As it turns out, there is one advantage to the fact that Bill was too cool to talk to me, and that is that he didn’t know any of my many embarrassing moments. Hurrah for being overlooked!

Afterwards I was standing around with a group of people, including Bill and my college-aged daughter. I said, “When James announced he was going to tell an embarrassing story about me all I could think about was the *** incident.”

I am not telling you, my blog reader, what the *** incident was, because it turns out the *** incident was illegal. I did not realize this as a teenager. Really. I wouldn’t have done it, had I known that the police along with several other city personnel would show up in my neighborhood with their lights flashing looking for the perpetrator of the *** incident. Or that it would be in the newspaper, and the teachers at school would all talk about the reckless behavior of certain unknown teenagers. Oh, and did I mention that I was the daughter of a Pastor?

Anyway, I didn’t turn myself in and they never caught me. Even though the statute of limitations is up, I’m still not telling. Maybe some day I will do penance and turn myself into the mayor of Pullman (who may in the near future be a guy who I went to prom with, so I’m hoping he’d give me a pardon) but not yet.

Right now it is my deep, dark secret, except for that as soon as I uttered the words, “When James announced he was going to tell an embarrassing story about me all I could think about was the *** incident.” Bill said, “THAT WAS YOU?!!”

Then he went on for some time about how the *** incident had become legend in the Pullman Police Department—and Bill worked for the Pullman Police Department for awhile so he would know.

See, I was really more interesting as a teenager than Bill gave me credit for.

Friday, April 06, 2007

My writing trip, part 1

I am long past due writing about my trip to Utah. The end of March I went up to teach a couple of writing classes at the LDStorymakers conference, do a school visit (Brockbank Junior High Rocks!) and in general hang out with writers. (Thus validating that I’m not odd, I’m just artistic.)

Shannon Hale put together a lunch with some of the Utah children’s writers. Shannon is tres cool, by the way. She is so cool that Mattel wanted to make Barbie dolls out of some of her book characters. Forget the New York Times bestseller list. I will know I’ve succeeded in life when they make a Barbie doll in my image.
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Anyway, I finally got to meet Mike Tunnell at the lunch, whose book Wishing Moon, I’d just read. For those of you who want YA novels without any content which could someday get it banned, this is a good one.

I also got a real kick out of meeting Nathan Hale, and not just because his picture book, The Devil You Know, is going to be turned into a really fun movie which may put him on the Barbie speed dial. No, I liked talking to Nathan because he shares an editor with me—the mighty bow-tied one. So we sat around talking about editor woes.

“Does Tim ever return your emails?” Nathan asked me.

“He answers most of them,” I said, “but I don’t think he reads them through all of the way.”

I did not share any examples with Nathan, as he didn’t seem to need proof, but I will share with you, my loyal blog readers, a prime example.

Last Christmas I happened upon the perfect gift for my editor at Walker and since I didn’t want to play favorites, I bought something for Tim (who is now my Putnam editor) too. I bought it from a catalog so I knew it would just show up at his office without explanation. Since this was a gift that really needed a preface, I wrote him an email about it. This is an actual excerpt:

Hi Tim . . . I found something for you to wear to all of those writers' conferences where you are basically treated like some sort of Elvis in a roomful of adoring groupies. But you'd better print out this email and put it somewhere you can see it or when you get my package you'll be like, "Why in the heck did Janette send this to me?"

Now given the email instructions you would think with he would at least remember that there was something a little different or odd or that he needed to remember about my gift. But no. A week later when he received the T-shirt that read: Your Dreams Have Been Answered—I’m here, he called me up. He said, “Soooo Janette . . .” in this hesitant, unsure, are-you-crazy sort of voice, “I got your gift . . . I’m just calling to see if I understand why you sent it . . .”

It would have served him right if I had said, “Well Tim, this is my subtle was of telling you I’m in love with you, and I hope you can support me and my five children.”

But that would have made the rest of the phone conversation really awkward, so instead I let out a disgruntled sigh and said, “Don’t you ever read my emails?”

On the bright side, I bet he’ll read any emails I send him before next Christmas.