Thursday, December 30, 2010

What you could have gotten for Christmas

One of the harsh realities about Christmas is that you always end up getting something that you would never have bought for yourself. If you're really lucky, it's some decorative thing that you have to put up in your house somewhere because the giver will visit and wonder where it is.

But don't fret. It could always be worse. For example, your loved ones could have gotten you an Obama Chia Pet. Isn't America great? Where else could children dream about growing up to have their face on a Chia Pet?

Or how about these lovelies:

They're Worry Kitties. You're supposed to whisper your worry to one of the sympathetic Worry Kitties and then tuck the adorable critter 'neath your pillow before you go to sleep, and in the morning your worry will be gone!

Is it just me, or do the rest of you think that if you put one of these underneath your pillow, it would come to life sometime during the night and gnaw your ear off? That's what I'd worry about.

Need something even creepier? How about skeleton yard gnomes. Really, I am trying to imagine the new-product-meeting where some genius came up with this idea.

And who doesn't need a solar powered waving queen figurine? (At least they didn't make her into a chia pet.)

My last aren't-you-glad-you-didn't-get-it-gift will need a bit of explanation. I love dolls and spend far too much time on eBay perusing through doll listings. I especially love looking at the reborn dolls. This is not a religious movement, but a way of painting dolls into one of a kind masterpieces that could pass for real children. Take a look at the next picture for an example of what some artists can do:
Gorgeous, right? (It's on eBay right now for 125.00. I'm so tempted.)
Well, for some reason that is beyond me, people can't leave well enough alone, and this apparently applies not only to yard gnomes, but also to reborn dolls. Because the horrible new trend in the reborn dolls is--get this--reborn orangutans.

Yes, let's take something precious and make it creepy. Here's a reborn orangutan on eBay right now.

I am pretty sure this would frighten small children.

So then, your Christmas stash really wasn't all that bad, was it? And hey, if you need to go out and buy yourself a gift, I know of some great books you could buy. Just saying . . .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Far Fetched? I think not.

I've heard on more than one occasion that my plot lines are far fetched. Take My Double Life. A girl meets another girl who looks just like her, and thereby figures out that they share a father--a famous singer.

Couldn't ever happen in real life, right?

Apparently, wrong. My friend just sent me a link to Liv Tyler's biography and that is exactly how she figured out her father was Aerosmith's lead singer, Steven Tyler.

Here's the excerpt from People's biography:

Discovering Daddy Tyler
When Liv sees Mia (Steven's daughter with his first wife Cyrinda, who is a splitting image of Liv) at an Aerosmith concert in 1988, she realizes Steven is her biological father.

Yeah, that must have been some ride home with her mom after the concert.

Mia's a plus size model now, but I still think she looks a lot like Liv.

It's weird really, how even when you think you're being original, you're not.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

interview and free books

A few blogs are giving away ARCs of My Double Life right now so I thought I'd let my blog readers know so they can enter. I'll update the list this week if google tells me of more blog giveaways. There's also a blog that's doing an interview, and since I know you're all memorizing Janette Rallison trivia and crave these sorts of details, I thought I'd add three of the questions here--sort of a teaser that will make you want to read the whole thing.

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

Well, according to the latest novels (and we know authors are always right) the future is populated by dystopian societies that will do things like make you fight to the death in hunger games, choose your spouse for you, or put you in a deadly maze. Whereas the past was populated by numerous hot dukes, lords, and viscounts who were always looking for spunky heroines to settle down with. Taking that into consideration, I think I would visit the past.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?

That depends whether my choices were limited to the living or if I could invite the dead too. (Although really, the dead don’t usually make good dinner guests.) It's too hard to choose just five, because George Washington gets all bent out of shape if you invite Abraham Lincoln and not him. So I’ll tell you which five writers I’d choose to have to dinner. Jane Austin, James Herriot, J.M. Barry, Ellen Conford (she was my favorite author growing up) and Charles Dickens

(Janette's note: I just finished reading The House of the Seven Gables and I can tell you right now that Nathaniel Hawthorne will never be invited to one of my chic and exclusive dead-author-dinner-parties because that man just drones on and on and on about the most pointless things.)

What is one book everyone should read?

Mine. Definitely. Just pick one—everybody should read it.

To read more of the interview, and a chance to enter the book giveaway go to:

You can find other book giveaways at:

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Next Worry: Printing Mistakes

I just sent off the galleys for My Unfair Godmother--which basically means I will not see that manuscript again until it shows up on my doorstep as a hardback novel. You would think my worries about the book would be over.

But alas, no. Because now I get to worry about printing mistakes.

This deep-seated worry probably had its origins back when I worked in a bookstore. We got a shipment of Bill Cosby's book Fatherhood and proudly set them up in a display case. Not long afterward, a customer came up and showed me one of the books. It was completely full of blank pages. The customer wanted to know if it was supposed to be some sort of gag book--as in, this is all I know about fatherhood--nothing.

Nope. It was just a printing error.

That would be a bad mistake, but there are much worse.

Take for example Penguin's recent mistake in a cook book where instead of calling for freshly ground black pepper, the recipe instructed cooks to add freshly ground black people to the dish.

As you can imagine, this caused a costly recall and reprinting of books.

Although at least if you get that sort of mistake, people will understand it was a typo.

But take Anne McCaffrey's collection of short stories called Get of the Unicorn (as in, offspring of the unicorn). The publisher misspelled the title, calling it: Get off the Unicorn. They never fixed it, and a generation of readers has read it wondering: Was someone on a unicorn? And why were they supposed to get off?

Still, it probably is good advice. If you're on a unicorn, get off!

Here's crossing my fingers that there won't be any embarrassing printing mistakes in My Unfair Godmother . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reminder--Book Party tonight.

That title sounds like a bunch of novels will be standing around the vegatable tray making small talk and complaining about their bindings.

But no, I'm hoping people will be involved in this event. Oh--and not only will there be a few books to giveaway--two of those books will be ARCs of My Unfair Godmother. If you have teen daughters--or if you just want to come to a book party--please stop by the Hamilton Chandler Library
Monday, Nov. 29 6:00 p.m. for the My Double Life Book Party

I'll do a reading, give some interesting back story on the book,and we'll be taking pictures in front of the paparazzi poster. Enjoy a Double Dutch demonstration, double snacks, and dress as your "celebrity double" for a chance to win a doubled prize!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 reasons to be thankful you're an American writer in 2010

If you’re a writer in 2010 you have a lot to be thankful for. Here on Thanksgiving Day I thought I’d provide a list of the top ten reasons to be glad.

1)The computer.
Can you imagine writing out your manuscript by hand? And then having to rewrite it every time you made a change? I shudder at the thought. Typing it on a typewriter wouldn’t have been much different. No wonder Jane Austen only wrote six books. I’ve been writing for fourteen years and I'm writing book number nineteen right now. Thank heavens and all those geek inventors who came up with the computer.

2)Spell check.
It keeps us from looking like total idiots in front of our editors. (There are enough other ways to look like an idiot in front your editor. Not knowing the difference between hay and straw comes to mind.)

3)The Internet.
Not only does the Internet make it easy to send off your manuscript. (Who wants to wait in a line at the post office and pay postage for every draft?) It connects us to other writers. When my first book was accepted for publication in 1995, I didn’t know a single other published author. I had no one to ask about contracts or marketing. Now I’m on lists with over a hundred different authors. When I needed a new agent, I asked for recommendations and within minutes had answers.

Seriously, YouTube has been a blessing for researching things. Because—for some bizarre reason that escapes me—people out there have a desire to put every event and mundane task up on the Internet. When I needed to know how to use a spinning wheel, I found it on YouTube. When I needed to know what it looked and sounded like to shoot a rifle, it was there. Ditto for different martial arts moves, horse jumping, arrow shooting distances, and what sort of ground cover was in the Shenandoah forest.

If you need the facts on just about anything (like how many books Jane Austen wrote), it’s there. Before the Internet, it took weeks to research things that I can find out in seconds now.

6)A literate population.
Granted, they had cool clothes, but it would have been pretty darn hard to make a living as a writer during the Middle Ages.

I can write anywhere now—even in the comfort of my bed. (Well, I would be able to write anywhere if my cat didn't think the keyboard was an appropriate place to sit on.)

8)We’re not censored.
Oh, I know authors are crying censorship all of the time, but what they mostly mean is: “Hey, somebody decided not to buy my book for their school!” If that’s the case, I should be on the banned list because apparently there are a lot of schools out there that don’t buy my books. (Although mostly it’s just because they’ve never heard of me.) Nobody is telling publishers that they can’t print our books, or stores that they can’t carry our books, or shoppers that they can’t buy our books. If you want to know what real censorship is, try to set up a printing company in a middle eastern or communist country and see how far you get.

Actually I have mixed feelings on this one, but I can’t deny that it’s a good thing that you can buy books instantly from your computer or that authors can put up their backlists.

10)Weird people.
With the amount of wackiness out in the world, we’re never going to run out of ideas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the winner is . . .

Shari--who is not only a follower, but a stalker as well!

Send me your address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll send the book to you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jonathan Stroud book giveaway

Those of you who know me, know one of my favorite books is The Amulet of Samarkand, so when its author, Jonathan Stroud, came to Scottsdale, I had to make the trip to see him. I had never been to The Poisoned Pen before and I ended up parking half a block away and then making my way through back alleys to get to the store. That's fan dedication for you.

I named one of the characters in My Unfair Godmother Bartimaeus in honor of the Bartimaeus in Jonathan's book. Again, this is true fan dedication considering that I am a lousy speller and I usually avoid names that are four syllables long and have as many vowels as consonants. I gave Jonathan an ARC of My Unfair Godmother. Here he is saying, "You obviously don't know the difference between hay and straw."

Okay, not really, but I'm sure that's what he'll think when he reads the book.

Here is a picture of me with super librarian Tim Loge from Hamilton High. He's the one that's putting on the My Double Life book party on November 29th (Come and you could win an ARC of My Unfair Godmother--it's one of the prizes.) Anyway, Tim was there too and walked me to my car afterward so I didn't get mugged by any of the criminals who wander around Scottsdale at night. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty.

Now to the book giveaway part. I bought another copy of The Amulet of Samarkand to give to one of my lucky commenters. (Or at least alucky commenter who lives in the US or Canada). Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite book from the last ten years is and will choose the winner. Blog followers get double chances, so be sure to say if you're a follower.

Here is the cool cover that I like. Unfortunately that isn't the cover for the paperback. The cover on the paperback is below. (You'll just have to pretend it's the cool one.)
May the numbers be with you!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Upcoming events: calling all fairies, celebrities, and readers

As you can see, I'm wearing wings, which means it's Faerie Festival time again! Come mingle with fey folk. It's like Halloween for adults.

I'll be there Saturday, November 20th, doing a reading from one of my fairy godmother books at 3:30-4:00 and then signing books.

It's at Estrella Mountain Regional Park
14805 West Vineyard Avenue
Goodyear, AZ 85338

On a completely unrelated note, I found this darling fairy purse for sale online at:

What do you think--should I buy it? I mean, it's a want not a need, but it's just so cute. And now that you've looked at the link, you want one too, don't you? They also sell wings and fairy costumes if you happen to need a new fairy dress. (Although some of them look more like stripper fairies. Makes you wonder what Tinkerbell did in her spare time.)

You can check out more info on the festival at:

If you are not of the fairy persuasion, I have a couple more events you might enjoy.

My Double Life Book Party at the Hamilton library (attached to Hamilton High)
3700 S Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ

Monday, Nov. 29 6:00 p.m.- Meet famous Teen Author Janette Rallison, Double Dutch demonstration, double snacks, and dress as your "celebrity double" for a chance to win a doubled prize! For ages of 12 Years and 18 Years old. (And their mothers, of course)

I'll be reading from My Double Life, hopefully coming up with a few interesting things to say, and we'll be taking some of those awesome pictures in front of the paparazzi.

And last but not least, On Tuesday, November 30th, I'll be signing books at the Chandler Traditional Academy (Independence campus) Family Literacy Night 5:00-7:00
You can get a free My Fair Godmother poster if you come . . .and you know you really should get one since you talked yourself out of buying the fairy purse.

1405 W Lake Dr., Chandler, AZ 85248
located just west of the intersection of Lake Dr. and Alma School Rd., near Snedigar Park.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why writers shouldn't write warning signs, part two

Writers have vivid imaginations. It shows up even when they write No Parking signs

Monday, November 01, 2010

Book give-away/name that book

I love the Polish people. I don't know any Polish people personally, but I love them anyway because they keep buying my books. I think that says something about their inherent good humor and fine taste in literature.

Sometimes my publisher sends me the Polish additions of my books, which is very cool. Here you can see that 1,000,000 sprzedanych ejzemplarzy!!!

I am not actually sure what that means, but I hope that it means I've sold a million books, because I know I'm pretty close to that number. (The last I heard on the cover of My Double Life, it said I'd sold nearly a million books.)

You would think that my publisher would tell me these sorts of details, but no, I only learn them from the flap copy of my books.

Anyway, when I got this book it took me several minutes to figure out what book it was. And then when I did figure it out, I couldn't believe that I hadn't realized it as soon as I saw the cover.

So for all you true-blue Janette Rallison fans, I'm doing a book giveaway that isn't involved in. The first person who can guess which of my books this is the Polish version of, will win the English version of the book. (Or the Polish one if you'd rather.)

You only have one guess, (no fair listing all of my books).

Good luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ambien and me.

Insomnia has long been my nemesis. It used to be that I would only get it if I was stressed, or upset, or excited, or in a different bed, or if the air molecules weren't circulating in just the right way in the room.

But last year all of that changed. Meaning, it got worse. For two weeks straight I was averaging about four hours of sleep a night. I felt like my head was about to fall off my body. It was literally hard to think straight.

Surprisingly, it didn't affect my writing ability all that much. I actually wrote a good portion of My Unfair Godmother during that time. (What else are you going to do when you wake up at three in the morning?) It did, however, affect other important cognitive functions, like being able to discern the difference between laundry soap and fabric softener. I was constantly pouring the wrong one into the washing machine. In my defense, they were both in blue bottles. Okay, one was a light blue bottle that read: FABRIC SOFTNER and the other was in a dark blue bottle that read: CHEER, but still. Who notices those sort of details when your head is about to fall off?

So I finally went to my doctor and he prescribed Ambien.

I must admit I was a bit worried after I read about the side effects. The list starts out with dizziness, and daytime sleepiness, and then if you're still reading it mentions that people have gotten out of bed, driven vehicles, eaten food, made phone calls, oh yeah, and had sex while not fully aware.

Come again, what?

I began to wonder if taking that little pink pill would unleash some sort of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sort of thing. What exactly was my Ambien personality going to do? But then I thought, Hey--maybe my Ambien personality will finish my manuscript!

Alas, that has never happened. Maybe I should have noticed in the side effect section that not once did it ever say: People have gotten out of bed and done their work. Which makes me wonder if all those people who got caught doing those other things were just using Ambien as an excuse. (No really, Officer, I don't know what I'm doing here in the red light district. It must be the Ambien.)

Anyway, I'm very glad to have my little pink friend on nights when I can't sleep. I highly recommend it--even if your Ambien personality won't be doing your work for you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teen writing class Oct 23

For those of you in the Arizona area, I'll be at Litchfield Park Branch Library, 101 W. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park.

Saturday, Oct 23

Writing the Teen novel for teens. (Although I imagine moms who bring their teens will be able to sit in too.)

Read more:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Then again, being a writer is less stressful than playing golf

Probably a lot of you have seen this picture of Tiger Woods accidentally hitting a golf ball right at a camera. It's being hailed as artistic or ironic or just amazing--because what are the chances that you're going to get a picture of Tiger Woods hitting a golfball at your camera?

But here's the thing that got my attention. Do you see the crowd that's behind him watching him play? EEEEEK! How many of us could spell our name accurately let alone hit a golf ball if a crowd that size was watching to see whether we messed up or not?

I realize that I have that many people reading my books and more. They'll know whether I bomb my next book. Still, I am sooo glad they're not watching me type or I'd be too stressed out to put my fingers on the keyboard.

So yeah, being a writer is great. We can spend time editing out our mistakes so the world doesn't see them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cathy W come on down!

Okay, this isn't the Price is Right, but I've always wanted to say that anyway. Cathy W, you won, so email me your address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll send your book to you.

The rest of you, don't despair, I'll be doing another book give away soon.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Win Mother's Daze

One of the funnest parts of going to writers' retreats is meeting new authors and getting their books. Author Jane Still generously donated one of her books to give away on my blog. It's an 82 page Erma-Bombeck style book on the joys of pregnancy and motherhood.

My favorite part was about morning sickness:

I find it ludicrous that some men, including doctors, have the nerve to suppose that throughout the entire span of history, women were so stupid that they couldn't invent a sickness that was a little less repulsive. If I were going to concoct a disease, it would have something to do with eating expensive chocolate. It would not involve sticking my head inside a toilet for a preview of last night's dinner being re-served in the form of warmed-over soup.

So, so true. Do you know who came up with the idea that morning sickness was a psychological phenomena? Freud. Do you know why he thought that? Because he was never pregnant.

Anyway, if you'd like a chance to win Mother's Daze, leave a comment in my blog about your favorite or least favorite part of motherhood. My followers get double chances and if you also happen to be a follower of Jane Still, make sure to mention it and you will get triple chances.

Her blog is at

Monday, October 04, 2010

Editors and Light bulbs

Because I'm still doing revisions (I would be done now if I'd written a 250 page book, but no, I just had to write one that was nearly 400 pages. When will I ever learn?)I thought I would tell an editor joke--but first, here are some writer jokes.

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence.

How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. One to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to give a surprising twist at the end.

How many editors does it take to change a light bulb?

None. They just find the problems, they don't fix them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another book give-away

Angela Fox, who've I've known for years through SCBWI and one of my writing email lists, is doing a Janette Rallison interview and book give-away on her blog. It's a video interview that for some reason (technology hates me) I look like Max Headroom in a couple of places. I must also warn you that I laugh excessively in said video. This is because Angela is hillarious and always makes me laugh.

Here's the link:

For a chance to win a book, leave a comment in her blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The number one reason being an author is a great job

Because you can count reading as work. Here's a 30 second video I did for another author's presentation about why reading is cool.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This cartoon pretty much sums up revisions

Yeah, I'm back to revising . . . and eating cookies . . .

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

writing gaffes

As I sit here waiting for the UPS man to bring me my latest manuscript so I can wade through my editor's revision comments, I am reminded of the many bloopers I've inadvertently written into early drafts.

I had a nurse who sighed patiently. (Well, how else is she going to sigh?)
I had a guard who looked at the heroine with a guarded expression. (Again, that's a given.)
And of course there is my infamous snake (which you wouldn't want in your mouth) who became a snack during the climax scene. (Not such a bad thing to have in your mouth.)

I have had characters walk down aisles and an ethereal smile that spellcheck turned into a urethral smile. (I'm not sure how that's even possible.)

But probably my all time favorite writing blooper wasn't written by me at all, but by my writer friend, Paige. In a draft for our critique group, she wrote a story about a princess who accidentally cast a spell that turned the castle staff into animals. These animals then did their eliminating business all over the castle floor. She and her family have to clean up the poop. While she is cleaning, she thinks about asking her family for help breaking the spell, but then reasons that her family already has their hands full.

Which of course makes the reader wonder exactly how the royal family is cleaning up the mess.

This my friends, is why you should never publish your first draft.

Sunday, September 05, 2010 has spoken

And today our benefactor of true randomness likes Hall Family. So Hall Family send me your snail mail address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll send you your ARC.

And for the rest of you--I loved all of your wishes and wish I could be fairy godmother and grant them all. But you're probably better off that I'm not. I have a feeling I might be like Chrissy and then instead of having laundry that magically took care of itself, you'd have no clothing.

But never fear, I'll have another giveaway before the book comes out. And remember you no nothing about the difference between hay and straw.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Unfair Godmother ARC giveaway

Now that you've all finished Mockingjay (Do not tell me the ending!!! I'm still not done with it because my teenage daughter got to it first.) I know you're all looking for some other awesome book.

And what could be awesomer (I know that's not a word, but it should be) than catching up with our favorite incompetent fairy godmother, Chrysanthemum Everstar? So here's your chance to win an ARC before they even go to the reviewers.

Just leave a comment telling me what you would do if a fairy godmother gave you a wish (and no cheating by asking for more wishes, or to have magic, or anything else that would give you more wishes.)Be sure to mention if you're a blog follower since followers get double chances.

And remember--you're agreeing to overlook that whole business about hay and straw not being the same thing and all the other little problems that I hope I caught in the last draft.

May the Random Number Generator be with you!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The difference between hay and straw and why you should know

Actually, you don’t need to know the difference between hay and straw, and I’m hoping you think they're interchangeable. That way you won’t notice the glaring mistakes in the ARC of My Unfair Godmother.

So call me a city girl—I’ve never dealt with either plants, and when I was putting my own spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin I called the straw hay half the time. I even had a couple characters wonder what the horses would eat if all the straw in the kingdom were turned into gold.

About half of you are laughing right now because you know horses don’t eat straw. Now that I’ve done a little research, I know that pretty much nothing eats straw because it has no nutritional value. This is probably why people in the Middle Ages used it to stuff mattresses and for bedding in the barn. (I did know that much.)

In my defense, Rogert’s Fourth Edition Thesaurus lists straw under the food category and there’s that scripture in Isaiah about the millennium that says the lion will eat straw like the ox—which I suppose is a translation error since there’s that no-nutritional-value problem which makes straw unappealing to animals. (Although my children seem to love foods with no nutritional value.)

I’ve had two people read My Unfair Godmother and one of them told me about the straw/hay problem. I emailed my editor and told her about the issue. I thought she was going to fix it before the manuscript went to ARCs, but no, I just an ARC and the straw is hay half the time.


I hate looking like an idiot.

Anyway, this whole blog is just a preamble to tell you that next week I’m going to give away an ARC. But you have to pretend you don’t know the difference between straw and hay.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My top ten writing tips

Here's an article I did for WriteOnCon about staying power:

I used to think that having a book published was an approval stamp of my writing ability—like having stores carry my novel meant I had mastered the craft. Ah, what charming naiveté I had back then.

Truth be told, I knew very little about plotting when I started out. I got lucky that my first story came together without much effort on my part. That happens sometimes. But you can’t depend on it.

If I could attribute my success at being able to continue to sell novels to one thing, it would be all of the hours I’ve logged in trying to learn how to improve my writing. (Well, that and the fact that I seem to have an unending supply of embarrassing moments from my real life that I can use in my books.)

So here are a few of the most important things I’ve learned while writing the last sixteen books. (Numbers seventeen through nineteen will be out next year.)

1) Make writing a habit. Find a time every day to do it. I’ve written while nursing newborns. I’ve written while waiting for kids at swimming, dancing, and gymnastics lessons. (Did I mention I have five kids?) You don’t need to wait for inspiration. Write when you can and the inspiration will come.

2) Take advantage of other authors—no, not literally—I mean take advantage of the vast amount of information authors offer you. Right now I have over forty-five books on writing sitting on my bookshelf. You can find a book on any aspect of the craft that you need. Get some and read them. They will save you a ton of time on revisions.

3) Which leads me to a couple of points of craft that you really should know before you sit down to your computer: Don’t let your characters wander through your novel without motivation and goals. If you do, your reader will want to slap your character. Repeatedly. Whatever genre you’re writing, your main character has a problem and your book is the story of how they deal with that problem. Your character should have a goal and be working toward it. Check over each scene and ask yourself what conflict is going on in each one.

4) Your character must have reasonable motives for everything they do. Granted, in real life people do things without thinking. They often make no sense. Take, for example, Lady Gaga’s wardrobe choices. Or the fact that teenage boys are all currently brushing their hair forward so that it looks like it is attacking their faces. You see my point. However, your characters must always have clear reasons for the things they do or you’ll lose reader sympathy.

5) Have a satisfying ending. It doesn’t necessarily have to be happy (although most readers prefer that type) and your main character doesn’t have to reach their goal, but you as the author have an unwritten contract with your readers. You’re asking them to invest their time and money in your story and you in return need to answer your story question and tie up loose threads. Your ending is not a dream, it is not a jumping off point to your next novel, and whatever else you do, it is not some artsy non-ending where the reader is supposed to interpret for themselves what it all means. If readers wanted to come up with their own endings, they would write their own stories, not buy yours.

6) Learn to use point of view. Put us deeply into your character’s head and we’ll care about what happens to him or her.

7) All right, now I’m getting off the craft soapbox and going on to a few other things I’ve learned. Selling the book isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Oh, I know you thought you were just supposed to sit back and write the book, but not so, my friend, not so. You’re supposed to be out promoting yourself. This means doing a website, contacting newspapers, bookstores, and any other venue that might be interested in your book. This means—in my case—getting up in front of auditoriums full of junior high kids and giving presentations. And what could be more fun than a crowd of antsy, hormonal teenagers? Well, sometimes live tarantulas, but that is beside the point—because very few tarantulas buy books.

8) Network with other writers. Pretty much everything I’ve learned about this business has been from fellow authors. They’ve sent me flyers so I can see what’s supposed to be on them, they’ve told me how to write proposals for conferences, and pointed me in the direction of people who can do booktrailers. They’ve listened while I’ve griped about revisions and cheered me up when I’ve been so burned out I was spitting out ashes. There are tons of email lists and critique groups out there. Find one you like and join.

9) Read a lot. Not only is it fun, it will help improve your sense of pacing. That’s like eating a Snickers bar and having it help you lose weight. (I keep eating Snickers bars, by the way, and so far it hasn’t actually helped me lose weight.)

10) Keep in mind that writing books will probably not make you rich or famous. In fact, it probably won’t change your life all that much—unless you count the fact that you will have less time to do housework. Write because you love writing

Monday, August 09, 2010

I stand corrected

The cover of my book, Playing the Field, has always bothered me, because as I told the Bow-Tied one long ago, "People don't stand that way."

I mean, really, have you ever stood there contemplating something with your hand on your chin?

But apparently some people do. Or at least the French president does. Clearly, my main character is destined for a life of politics. Or girl watching.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why writers shouldn't write warning signs

Ahh, but I really wanted to prance across the plants . . .

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Apparently the random number generator can be bribed

Because the first person Randy chose was Candace, who promised to send him chocolate if she won. I'm not sure how you're actually going to get that chocolate to the random number generator, Candace, but I'll let the two of you work that out.

Botterfly girl is also a winner so send me your addresses at jrallisonfans @ yahoo dot com. And Vanessa (last week's winner) your book is still sitting on my countertop. I went off to a writers retreat thinking that my dear husband would read my mind and know he was supposed to take that to the post office, but apparently he flunked mind-reading classes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

winner and next book give-away I am now on a first name basis with, so I've taken to calling him Randy for short--has chosen the winner. Vanessa, it's you, dear! The very last commenter. How's that for true randomness? So Vanessa, send me your address and I'll send you a signed ARC.

But the rest of you that Randy unintentionally snubbed still have a chance because my French translator, Erzsi Deak, has an interview with me on her site in honor of the French release of My Fair Godmother, called: Le Troisieme Voeu (The Third Wish)

So here's the deal, read the interview (Oh come on, I know you all want to read about my embarrassing algebra moment) and leave a comment on my blog about something you learned from the interview. I'll give away two more ARCs. Followers get double chances the next week when I sit down with Randy again.

Here's the link:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another book give-away

I should probably clean more. Who knows what I'd find? While going through the game room yesterday, I discovereed some ARCs (advanced reading copies) of My Fair Godmother. Yeah, I probably should have found a homes for those long ago. I'll start by giving one away here. That said, keep in mind that ARCs have typos in them. Usually the typos aren't that bad, but in My Fair Godmother . . . yowza. I think the publisher used someone who didn't actually speak English to go over them. Why else would somebody change the word Yankee to yanker? I mean, that makes no sense. When was the last time someone told you, "Go home, yanker!"

It sounds vaguely obscene.

Worst still, in the climax a snake is a snack. Yep, not many people are really afraid of snacks so it changed the whole meaning of the scene.

But who knows, if the book ever becomes a movie, maybe those typo-filled ARCs will become collector editions. (This is my attempt to make you covet one.)

Since Chrysanthemum Everstar, Fairy Godmother extraordinaire, loves to send people to fairy tales, I'll need to choose some new fairy tales for book three--assuming I ever do a book three.

So to enter to win, leave a comment about which fairy tale/myth/folk story hero you would like to see in book three. (Keeping in mind that Cinderella, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and Robin Hood have already been used.)

Followers get double chances, so mention if you are a follower in your comment.

And may you live happily ever after!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Celebrity Fashion

I've always been grateful that authors don't count as real celebrities, since there is some unwritten law that celebrities have to frequently dress like expensive clowns. I mean, really, what was Rihanna thinking when she bought this outfit? And for that matter, what was the fashion designer thinking when s/he designed it?

I'm imagining some drunk guy with a fake European accent saying, "At last, I have created the perfect blend between water-wings and dice!"

Or how about anything Lady Gaga wears. This for example:
The perfect blend of a life jacket and a disco ball.

But recently it has occurred to me that the reason that celebrities dress this way is so that people will plaster their photos around. Hey, it's free advertising. In this spirit, I'm beginning to think that I should dress like a celebrity at all upcoming author functions. So what do you think I'd look better in this:

Or this:

Maybe I'll just save myself time and wrap a roll of tin foil around my body.

Friday, July 02, 2010

How you know it's summer in Phoenix

Your cats shed a lot. Yeah, she looks innocent, but she has ulterior motives for wanting to be petted. Honestly, this cat creates fur clouds every summer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fact checking in the real world--why authors can't ever really leave work behind

I've been vacationing in Oregon and Utah, both of which have way better weather than Arizona has right now. I didn't mean to work at all, but the problem (or benefit, depending on how you look at it) is that you can't turn off the writer's brain. For example, when we went white water rafting, we took a 15 passenger van to the river head. The whole ride up I was thinking about the fifteen passenger van I have my characters riding around in during Slayers. (That may or may not be the actual title of the book.)

Actual example of the conversation in the van:

Youngest daughter (code name, Melody, because she has recently informed me that I should have named her Melody.) "Mom, look at how tall those trees are!"
Me: silently thinking, "My characters need a bigger van. There's not enough room for surveillance equipment in this thing."

Here are some pictures from our water adventure. Although I look like I'm standing up in the back of the raft, I'm not. The water is simply higher where I am.

In this next picture you will notice I have disappeared. Coincidence, or a plot by our evil raft guide? My question is this: Who in the world first saw a churning river with rapids quaintly named things like "Bone Crusher" and thought, "Hey, I have a good idea! Let's get a flimsy, air-filled boat, and go down this baby."

Who? Men, that's who.

In Slayers, my main character rides a black gelding named Bane. That's what the stables gave me. Unlike my main character, I had no mystic connection with my black horse. However, he did want to eat non-stop, so maybe there were similarities in our personalities. That's pretty much what I did on vacation.

Next stop, The Princess Festival in Lindon,Utah. Think Prom for little girls. Here is Melody riding a sea serpent. Hmmm, that would make an interesting plot point . . .

Here I am posing in a fountain with Melody. This picture actually has nothing to do with the rest of the blog. I'm just including it because I'm vain. I think most authors are. Why else would we ever think that anybody cared, let alone would pay for, all the stories that go swirling around in our minds? (Discuss amongst yourselves.)

Here is Melody with Beauty. All of the famous princesses were at the festival. (Which incidentally is a volunteer run fundraiser to help girls in Kenya.)The princesses had to have generic names though, so Disney won't sue them.

Here is the best princess of all: The Snow Queen, played by none other than big sister, code name Serena. Hey Serena, I knew that pale skin I gave you would pay off someday!

And lastly, here is Melody learning early on that to find your prince, you've got to kiss a lot of frogs.

I love princesses. I totally want to write that retelling of Cinderella that I've been thinking about since I wrote My Fair Godmother. Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be doing revisions. Cinderella will have to wait.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And the winner is . . .

First off, I feel compelled to tell you the show I would have snuck onto. Battlestar Gallactica. Captain Apollo . . . long heavy sigh . . . and Dirk Benedict . . . more sighing. True, the show had that stupid robot dog and sometimes the dialogue was cheesy, but hot guys make up for a lot.

Anyway, now that I have traveled down memory lane, you can read about the winner., in all its random glory has chosen Karen Adair. So Karen, send me your regular address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll send your nuclear summer version book off to you.

Anyone else who wants another chance to win, will be giving away a copy of Just One Wish from June 25-July 25. In fact, I think they've also got a copy of My Double Life they're giving away too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just One Wish give-away (The nuclear summer version)

I have bemoaned before the utter lack of influence I have over my covers. In fact, it seems like the fastest way for a cover to get scrapped is if I say, "I love it!" Apparently my publishers think I have no taste (my children think the same thing) so if I approve of something it is a sure sign to them that it needs to be changed.

Alas, I loved the Just One Wish cover. And in my defense, I was not alone. It won the best YA cover award on one blog.

But my publisher has changed it despite my protests. They have pink-ified it. Yep, the beautiful blue background is gone and now it looks like that sunny day has been turned into some bizarre nuclear holocaust.

Still, in order to celebrate the paperback edition, I'm doing a give-away. In the book, Annika goes to Hollywood in order to find and bring back a famous TV star to meet her six-year-old brother, before he has dangerous surgery. During the course of her quest, she pretends to be an extra on the TV star's show and is actually recruited into a scene.

If you could sneak onto any TV show--still running or already cancelled--which one would it be? Leave your answer in the comment box and if you're a follower, mention it since followers get double chances.

Cheers! (That was a salutation and not my TV series of choice. Oh, oh, triple chances if you can guess which TV series I would choose.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Morals and values in YA lit, or Janette should really get more sleep before she opens her mouth

A couple of weeks ago, my friend (and super author) Shannon Hale asked for my opinion on a blog she was doing on morals and values in young adult books. Shannon, like a lot of authors, says she doesn’t think about morals or values as she writes. She just tells the story and lets people draw their own conclusions about it.

I typed out my opinion and sent it to her--although I wrote the email during a long stint of not-getting-much-sleep, and on that particular night I was up for 28 hours straight. The result is that my answer came off much harsher than I intended and it sort of sounded like I’m telling a lot of authors that they’re going straight to h*ll. With no stops along the way.

Yeah. Sorry about that to all of you authors I may have offended and will subsequently end up sitting next to at upcoming book conferences.

You can see the whole discussion over at:

But basically my quote was something along the lines of: It’s irresponsible for YA authors to write about teen characters having sex when they make it seem like no bad consequences will happen. It’s tantamount to encouraging fourteen-year-olds to throw their lives away, and you’re all going to h*ll!!

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the exact quote, because I went on for several paragraphs, however you get the idea.

But here’s why it’s such an issue for me. About nine years ago while I was doing research for my book, What the Doctor Ordered, I had a scene where my doctor character counseled a pregnant teen. He told her she needed to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, so I wanted him to throw out some statistics about STDs. I went on the internet to research STDs but I couldn’t believe the numbers. They were too high. Fifty percent of people have the HPV virus that causes genital warts and several kinds of cancer? One in six people have herpes? Surely not. More people would be talking about STDs if they were that big of a problem.

I called two STD hotlines and both times was told that 80% of sexually active people older than 14 years-old have some kind of STD. I still didn’t believe it so I called my gynecologist and asked him. He confirmed the numbers.

I was completely shocked. I still am. It’s a huge elephant in the room that nobody is mentioning.

Here’s another cheery statistic for you. I have a friend who works for a drug company and he’s traveled to Africa several times to work with doctors on their HIV medicine. According to him, in more than one country, one out of every five people are infected with HIV. One out of five! Think of the people who live on your street or the kids in your children’s school. Can you imagine if one out of every five of them had an incurable deadly disease?

Are we here in the USA smarter? Are we safer? Not according to one website I saw that said 50% of teens who have sex don’t use condoms.

And here are a few more facts kids should know before they make life changing decisions: Several STDs are incurable, many are painful, some aren’t prevented by using condoms, and more than one can kill you.

According to The Center for Disease Control approximately 19 million new STDs occur each year— almost half of them among young people 15 to 24 years of age.

The most reported diseases in the country every year are Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Women/girls are particularly at risk because women don’t get symptoms from these diseases but both can result in infertility if left untreated.

As an added bonus, Gonorrhea—which has the highest reported rates of infection among teenagers and young adults—can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. About one million women in the United States develop PID each year. Look forward to abdominal pain, fever, and internal pus-filled “pockets” that are hard to cure and long-lasting.

Not fun enough? If you get syphilis, which can also go for years without detection, it can damage your internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. Signs and symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, dementia, and death.

Well that’s certainly worth contracting if the guy is dreamy enough.

I could go on, but I won’t. If you’re interested in more fun facts, you can go to the CDC website at:

In truth, I don’t think my fellow authors realize what a serious and devastating problem all of this is. I think they would be more hesitant to put sex scenes in their YA books if they did. Of course, I’ve done my part to solve the problem. I told all of the authors that read Shannon Hale’s blog that they’re going to h*ll.

I’m just really caring and tactful that way.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My Unfair Godmother--weigh in on the cover

As my entripid followers know, one of the books I've been working on recently is the sequel to My Fair Godmother. I thought I'd unveil the cover. (Release date: JanuFebuaryish 2011)

Cool, huh? It was so considerate of to shoot three different pictures of the same girl as a fairy so I could have some consistancy on my covers. (Sort of makes me feel like I have to write a third one, just so I can use that third picture.) I'm just hoping that the covers aren't so similar that people think it's the same book. (As in, oh, I already read that one. No need to buy it.)

The odd thing is that they sent me the cover on the 13th and I just signed the contract for the book today. When I saw the golden apple on the cover I thought, "Hmmm, People will wonder why that's there." So I had to go write a golden apple into the story. Hey, whatever works.

And the winner is . . .

Today the random number generator has chosen Kayla. So send me your address at jrallisonans at yahoo dot com and I'll send your book.

And for the rest of you, never fear. I'm sure I'll be giving away more books soon. What would a week be without a trip to the post office, where the postman all think I'm a little bit odd? (They're right.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Double Life Give Away

Andie, my intrepid rent-a-teenager, has come up with a book trailer for My Double Life. She did an awesome job, and special thanks to Arizona's own Jonnie and Brookie for letting me use their song: Missing Me Crazy. The first time I heard it, I knew I wanted it for the trailer because the chorus: You'd be missing me crazy if you only knew my name, fits so well with the novel.

For a chance to win the book, just watch the trailer and leave a comment about your favorite part. Followers get double chances, with the almighty Random Number Generator, so if you follow, follow me (sung to the tune of: Do As I'm Doing) be sure to let me know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Red Carpet launch

In case you missed the big event of the year, I had a fab red carpet launch at Changing Hands. This is the dress I picked up at thrift store when I realized . . . Oh, red carpet means I have to dress up too.

These next pictures are of me and my entourage arriving. Curse the paparazzi! They make my life a living heck!

Okay, that's actually just my fantasy world. Hey, authors are allowed to have fantasy worlds. We even populate them and get attached to our characters. (Tristan is real! I know he is!)
Here we are posing for our adoring crowds. And yes, that is the Book Babe Faith, along with the lovely Babe Brandi and Babe Bethany. (We are all Babes.)

We took lots of awesome pictures of people posing for the paparazzi--and I will say that some of my friends and their kids are quite the hams, but since I wasn't sure if any of them actually wanted their pictures posted on my blog, I'm just posting a couple from a woman who frequently trots her children's pictures out on this blog.

Yes, this is Gaston, and this is what he really would do if paparazzi ever bothered him. (Actually, he would probably grab cameras and clang them together like cymbals.)

And here is my biggest fan--or at least my most up-to-date fan-- since she reads all of my stories as I write them on my computer. Yesterday she asked me, "If you weren't an author, would you be one of those mothers that does housework?"

The world will never know.

And lastly, this was my favorite picture. Babe Brandi appears to be a mild mannered book store employee by day, but she obviously has an inner starlet that is dieing to get out.