Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Writing Resolutions

It's that time when we all start thinking about New Year's resolutions. I've come up with ten writing goals. I might be able to keep nine of them.

1) Learn how to spell hors d'oeuvres so I don't have to google it every single time.

2) Use the word appetizers more instead of hors d'oeuvres.

3) Don't yell things at the computer such as, "Find that file or I'll show you what you can do with your gigabytes!" Or any other thing that would make the neighbors question my sanity.

4) Stop checking Amazon's rankings for my novels. Do I really want to know that353,194 books are selling better than mine today? No, I don't.

5) Stop noticing Amazon's rankings for other books. Do I really want to know that Snookie's book is number 11 in biographies? Again, no, I don't.

6) Learn what all those acronyms mean so I can understand my fan emails.

7) Don't send critiques to authors who have asked me for blurbs. (Yes, I have done this, and yes, I do feel bad about it. But in my defense, I was trying to help the authors improve their books.)

8) Don't see how many sunflower seeds the hamster can fit in its mouth while I'm supposed to be writing.

9) Don't see how many Almond Joys I can fit in my mouth while I'm supposed to be writing.

10) Finish my middle-grade fantasy, sell my paranormal romance, write sequels to Slayers, Erasing Time, and the next Fairy Godmother book--and do all the revisions said books require.

Sigh. Can you guess which goal I'll have the most trouble with?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Worst Christmas Gifts You Can Give

I wish I could say that I had to look long and hard to find these horrible gifts, but no. I'm apparently on the catalog list for crazy people, and I get dozens of Gifts-for-the-Bizarre magazines. Without further ado (because there is enough doo-doo in this list) here are some gifts that will win you no brownie points with your friends and relatives.

What could be more tacky than dog poop on your lawn?
A sign with a dog pooping that you put in your lawn. I'm sure this is a lovely sight to see each morning. I bet the Home Owners Association will have nothing to say about it.

And speaking of poop (because what says the holidays better than poop?) here's a charming gift for that special someone in the office.
It poops paperclips, combining all that is sophomoric and unprofessional in one convenient desk item.

Looking for nostalgia? How about a gift that will remind you of those childhood days where you trapped unsuspecting bugs in an old jar and most likely left them to die on your dresser. Yep, just let these little babies blink on and off in their pathetic attempts to gain freedom. Plus, your loved ones will know that you spent actual money on this gift--which is worth approximately an old jar and some bugs.

This Granny sling shot would be a great gift for, um, uh, Grandpa, after Grandma runs off with Enrique, the poolboy.

How about a matching set of hats that look like sharks are eating your head? Junior will need therapy after this gift. For many reasons.

A lot of the items we sell here in America have the made in China label stamped on them. I often wonder what the factory workers in China think of the items they assemble.

"What are we working on today, Shang?"

Shang picks up a glowing solar frog and shrugs. "Maybe it is to warn against nuclear fall-out."

And lastly, what is a better way to impress upon friends and loved ones that you are totally not a psychopathic serial killer--than to hang a human brain ornament on your Christmas tree? Don't ask what happened to Dinky, Santa's missing elf.

If you want a good gift instead--try a book. In fact try one of mine. They're all good. And, as a special Christmas offer, my ebook Blue Eyes and Other Teenage Hazards will be available on Amazon for .99. This price will only last for a couple of weeks. (Or longer if I forget to change it back.)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

How authors party

One of the fun things about being an author is getting to hang out with other authors and cool book people. Last week eight Arizona authors put on an author appreciation open house--which sounds like we were appreciating ourselves, but really we were appreciating all of the many awesome teachers, librarians, and booksellers who do so much for reading. We lured them to Lisa McMann's house with promises of books and free food.

Here's another cool thing about being an author. You can have a blow-up of Captain Underpants sitting on your table and nobody thinks it's strange.

Here is a picture of James Owen and the chalk masterpiece he whipped up for the evening. Seriously, it only took him a few minutes to draw these dragons. Which seriously baffles my not-able-to-draw mind.

Many thanks to Janni Lee Simner, Amy Dominy, Aprilynne Pike, Lisa McMann, Bill Konigsberg, Tom Leveen, and James Owen for a great time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And the winner is Jen

I'm letting Jadean know. You can contact me with your email address and I'll pass it along to him. jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

eBook give-away and interview with a writer's husband

I met Danyelle Leafty at a writer's conference a couple years ago. A few days ago her husband emailed me and asked if I would like to interview her on my blog. I have to say I was impressed her husband was actively promoting her. If I had known I was going to be an author, I would have questioned all my boyfriends about their willingness to set up interviews for me. Alas, I didn't have the foresight to ask that important question.

Anyway, I decided to do something different for this interview. You’ve all read lots of interviews with authors. By this point you know about our creative quirks, our into-the-night writing sessions, our despair at rejection letters, and you know about those times we forgot to pick up our children from (fill in the blank) _________ because we lost track of time while writing that awesome love scene. But have you ever heard an interview from an author’s husband--from those poor folk that have to deal with us? Neither have I, so this interview should be interesting.

Without further ado, here is Jadean Leafty, husband of Danyelle Leafty, author of The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Catspell. We’ll be giving away one of her ebooks to a lucky commenter on the blog.

When did you realize Danyelle was a writer, and by then was it too late to do anything about it?

I am told that I should've realized it a lot sooner than I did. I have a bad memory. I first realized that she was a writer when I went off gallivanting with a bunch of freshly graduated high school kids in Texas. Which is also when I was being yelled at by men in uniform to whom I was their senior in age by quite a few years. Pretty much while I was away at basic training. I knew it was serious though when I was deployed to Afghanistan. Of course by then it was too late, but I wouldn't trade her.

I once spent ten days dragging my husband around England to research castles for a novel that I still haven’t written. Has Danyelle ever dragged you into her research, and if so what did you have to do?

If by research, you mean the book store. YES. She doesn't have to really drag us anymore. Our six year old gets put out when we don't take the turns that would end us up at Barnes and Noble.

When I was writing romances, my husband once accused me of fantasizing about other men.
“Yeah,” I said, “but I’m getting paid to do it.” Then for my next romance I put my husband in the book as the hero. (What the Doctor Ordered) Which would have been a really sweet gesture if I hadn’t fired him from my romance four days later. My husband is too easy-going and he just wouldn’t argue and banter with the heroine. (Who incidentally was me. I did not fire myself from the novel as I am quite good at arguing and bantering.) Have you shown up in any of Danyelle’s books?

Bits and pieces of me do. The whole me has been in each of her dedications thus far. Usually some aspects of me are found in her prince charmings. I'm still trying to devour Catspell. But I have to fight the children for it. So reluctantly, I sneak chapters in while at church.

I am pretty sure that classifies as a sin--or true devotion to your wife. Either way, you are clearly a supportive husband. Do you read your wife’s drafts and offer suggestions?

Of course, time permitting. I have a keen eye for line editing. Heck, I even find mistakes in her "research" books.

Does she take kindly to your comments?

If they are valid, yes. She's always right.

Any last advice for wives who are authors?

Love the author. And even though she calls you biased don't believe it, her books are the BEST!

Those are words every author's husband should learn. Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win. To find out more about Danyelle you can go to her website at:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Your questions answered, plus a really cute dog

Want to win a copy of Slayers? Free Book Friday is giving away three copies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saphira vs Tamerlane

Every once in awhile someone asks me why I made the dragons in Slayers vicious animals instead of magical best friends. It’s not that I don’t like the friendly, loyal dragons from Eragon. If I was allowed to have one mythical character as a sidekick, it would be a dragon. Sure, Pegasus would be easier to ride, and all of those cute Disney animal sidekicks could belt out cheerful tunes when the moment called for it, but who would you want on your side in a fight? Right, the dragon.

So I totally get authors who write about good, helpful, dragons. But I have seen what dragons look like. (Okay, not really. This isn’t one of those alien abduction stories—although, come to think of it, that is exactly what all of those alien abduction stories need to spiff them up: a dragon or two.) What I mean is, I’ve seen drawings, paintings, statues, and coat-of-arms depicting dragons. This is generally what they look like:


Now I ask you, do either of these dragons look like they want to be your friend? No, they don’t. They look like they eat large animals. And probably the kind of animals they like best are the slow ones that God didn’t see fit to provide with horns or claws or anything that would prevent them from being easily gobbled up. Which means you.

This is probably a test that they should administer in schools to emphasize this point:

Which of the following animals would make a good pet?

Okay, you get my point. You wouldn't want to cuddle with my dragons.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The bug-dragon connection--at least in my mind

Most story ideas don’t come to me whole and complete but are cobbled together from several incidents and thoughts. Slayers is that way. The first incident happened when I was fifth grade and had just moved to Silver Springs, Maryland. All the adults there were quite excited because this was the year that the cicadas would emerge from the ground after remaining dormant and hidden for 17 years. The next door neighbor happily explained to me that this was the cicadas’ way of avoiding predators. Since they only emerged every 17 years, predators couldn’t depend on them as a food source.
A brilliant adaptation, I might add, for an insect that isn’t smart enough to avoid accidentally flying into your hair.

I remember finding a lot of hollow cicada skins that summer, because cicada’s also shed their skin. Ahh, there’s nothing nicer to find hanging from your bedroom windowsill than a creepy, hollow bug skin.

But anyway, the point to all of this was that as a child I immediately picked up on what the adults seemed to have missed in the cicadas’ amazing return from the underworld. If bugs could (sort of) hibernate for nearly two decades in order to give themselves a natural advantage, why couldn’t other species do it too? Maybe there were animals with such long life cycles we just hadn’t caught them emerging yet.

I grew up on Godzilla movies and so had a strong and deep rooted fear that dinosaurs might one day show up and start smacking buildings around and eating screaming Japanese people—or worse yet: eat me.

No one knew what had caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and I was surprised that no one had come up with my theory. They weren’t really gone. They were just hibernating. Waiting until there were lots of yummy fifth grade girls around to chomp on. And there were probably some eggs buried under my house!!

The nice thing about childhood fears is that you can use them later in your novels. Nothing is ever wasted when you’re a writer.
The next piece that added to the Slayers plot was my own clumsiness. I will sometimes wake up in the morning and notice bruises or scratches and I have no idea how or when I got them. My husband is understandably amazed by this phenomena. He’ll say things like, “How can you not realize it when you hurt yourself? Were you with your body all day yesterday?”
Apparently not. Writers are like that sometimes.
I got tired of my husband’s comments so I started telling him, “While you sleep at night, I secretly go out and fight dragons.”

And then because I have a writer’s brain I wondered what it would be like to fight dragons. Viola, the beginning of a plot.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Erasing Time Cover preview

I removed the cover at the request of my publisher (I still love it)

I love this cover. It may be my all time favorite. (Although My Unfair Godmother is a close second.) I know I shouldn't say things like that about a cover because it is just tempting fate, or the marketing department, into changing it. They'll email me tomorrow and tell me they've decided to go with dancing cartoon frogs. But for this moment, I am happy.

Now you just have to wait ten more months until you can actually buy the book. Some things are worth the wait though.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Your chance at immortality--or a great gift idea

The bidding is live! Have your name in one of my books--or in Brandon Mull's, Shannon Hale's, Kiersten White's, Becca Fitzpatrick's, Robin Brande's--or all of them. All proceeds go to Kids Need to Read.

Check it out at:

Happy bidding!

Monday, October 24, 2011

More chances to win Slayers

Fire and Ice is hosting and kicking off the official blog tour for Slayers by C.J.Hill which will run today until Sunday. Each of the 7 blogs participating will be giving away one copy of the book so be sure to visit all the stops.

Monday October 24th- Fire and Ice

Tuesday October 25th- I'm A Reader Not A Writer

Wednesday October 26th- Books Complete Me

Thursday Ocotber

Friday October 28th- Cari's Book Blog

Saturday October 29th- Rachael Renee Anderson

Sunday October 30th- Tales of a Ravenous Reader

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Immortality up for Auction

(Yeah, I almost wrote immorality up for auction which would have been something completely different and would probably cost you more.)

Anyway, a bunch of authors including yours truly are auctioning off names to use in our books as a fund raiser for Kids Need To Read, a non profit group that provides books for underfunded libraries. The other authors in alphabetical order are:

Robin Brande (Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature; Doggirl), Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush; Crescendo), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, The Goose Girl), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven, Beyonders), and Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally).

Personally, I think it would be cool if one person won all the name-bids. Because then confused readers across the country would scratch their heads and wonder why that name kept popping up in books.

If you're looking for a really cool gift for someone (or yourself) look no further.

The auctions will start Saturday, Oct 29. Here's more info:

Touch immortality and go down in literary history! Several critically acclaimed, bestselling authors are auctioning off character names to benefit Kids Need to Read, a national nonprofit foundation that promotes childhood literacy and addresses the crisis in library funding that currently exists in the United States.

If you are one of the winning bidders, you will have a character named after you in an upcoming young adult novel by one of the following participating authors: Robin Brande (Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature; Doggirl), Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush; Crescendo), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, The Goose Girl), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven, Beyonders), Janette Rallison (My Unfair Godmother, Slayers), and Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally).

Should you win one of the auctions, the author agrees to use your name in an upcoming book. The character that is bestowed with your name may be a secondary or minor character, may have villainous tendencies, or may die at some point in the book or series. The character may have many or very few of your actual characteristics. The author is simply using the name for a character, not transporting your personality into the book. Also, editors have veto power over any name. (So if your name is Ima Jockstrap, you might be out of luck.) If an editor vetoes your name, you will be entitled to a full refund from Kids Need to Read.

The Kids Need to Read Literary Immortality Auction will take place at our eBay store beginning Saturday, October 29, 2011 and ending Thursday, November 3, 2011. There will be a separate auction for each author. All auctions will run concurrently. Bidders will be able to bid on multiple auctions.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh Rats . . . literally

Sometimes fans give me things. I'm always appreciative. I have a really cool apron, a framed picture of a stone angel, and a Barbie doll made to look like Chrissy that reader friends have given me. This is a perk I never expected when I first started writing, and I always find a special place in the house for such gifts. But lately I got a gift that I'm not sure where to put.

Let me explain. It started with an email conversation my writing friend, Angela Fox, and I were having. She said, "I don't give a rat's tush* what So-N-So** thinks."

(*Not the real word she used)
(**Not the real name she used.)

I wrote back to her, "Well, it's a good thing you don't give a rat's tush what So-N-So thinks, because I clearly remember you promising me all of your rats' tushes."

Sometimes I am witty in my emails like that.

But Angela is always wittier, because at the book launch she showed up and gave me plastic rats all through the event. Some of them were as big as chihuahuas and had scary red eyes. I laughed a lot. People probably thought Angela and I were a little strange, which strictly speaking is true.

I brought the rats home and tried to find a place for them. I must admit I'm having trouble finding the right spot. At first I tried one of the doll cases. (I have three.)

It didn't seem to be a good match. So then I tried the coffee table.

But I thought visitors might not appreciate the rat motif. So then I tried upstairs by the reading angel which sits next to one of the bookcases. (I have eight--but that's not a sign of hoarding because I'm a writer.)

Here you can see some of the smaller rats. They're gray. Knowing that this surface is frequently engulfed in clutter (which is normal because I have five children, and so is not a sign of hoarding tendencies either) I decided to try the rats in my room.
Here they are on my dresser.

As you can see, they didn't work here either. My dolls look distinctly creeped out by the rats. (And yes, even though I have three doll cases, I still can't fit all my dolls into them, which actually may be a symptom of hoarding, but we aren't going to talk about that.)
So, while I try to find a place for the rats, my friendly little dog is doing everything she can to welcome the new editions.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Want a Slayers sticker?

The Slayers book launch was awesome! I always love meeting fellow book fans. As you can see, during the middle of my presentation I broke out into song, performing several opera medleys.

Okay, not really.

For some reason the pictures my husband takes of me during launches always turn out rather odd looking. (Better make sure you make it to the next book launch to check out what I'm really doing.)

Here I am telling audience members about my cool Slayers bumper stickers. I think everybody should want one of these because if you have a Slayers bumper sticker, the cars behind you will think twice about cutting you off.

If you want your very own Slayers sticker, email me with your name and address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll send you one. (US addresses only. If you're out of the US, you can still get one by sending me a self-addressed envelope.)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Slayers Book launch Oct 4th

I'm temporarily interrupting the Slayers' book trailer adoration and giveaway to remind you that the Slayers book launch is tomorrow at Changing Hands book store at 7:00 pm 6428 S Mcclintock Dr, Tempe, AZ

Besides telling you all about Slayers and giving out Slayer stickers and posters, I'll be giving away eight of my back titles and you'll find out what your secret dragon-fighting superpower is.

You don't want to miss it!

See you there.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Slayers book trailer and give-away

This is an awesome book trailer and why I love Matt Morrell. If you're looking for a great trailer, he's your man. (And how many guys do you know who have three sets of double letters in their name?)

Leave a comment on either this blog or on about your favorite part of the trailer for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Slayers is officially released! My Unfair Godmother and Slayers give-away and

Yes, that magical day that we've all been waiting for is almost upon us. I'll be talking about Slayers at the Hamilton Library in Chandler on the 28th and the book launch will be at Changing Hands on Oct 4.

I just got my author copies of Slayers today and I have to say the cover looks better in real life than it does on all the pictures I've been posting. The gold lettering is shiny. It's oh so spiffy.

To win it or a copy of My Unfair Godmother (which is also chalked full of awesomeness) do the following: (Just realized that's a pun.)

Leaving a comment on the CJ Hill blog will get you one chance.
Being a follower of the CJ Hill blog will get you another chance.
Announcing this give-away and or posting the cover of Slayers on your blog/facebook/ or twitter and telling your peeps that Slayers is coming out Sept 27 will get you three chances.

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn' texactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She'll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief 's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Give-away: How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend & trailer

I took your advice and with the help of my awesome friend, Angela Fox, I changed the music for the How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend trailer.

Let me know what you think of the new music choice.

Also will choose one of the commenters to win a copy of How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Other Downgrades We Should Make

In light of the S&P downgrade to America’s credit rating, we here at the Rallison Think Tank have been pondering what other things in the world ought to be downgraded. We’ve come up with a list of ten.

1) The Great Salt Lake. It has now been downgraded to: The Average Salt Lake. With that fishy smell, um, it’s really not all that great.

2) Mars. For decades it’s promised us invading Martians with ray guns, but thus far all the planet has produced in the way of scientific interest is the possibility that it once had water. Big deal. We’re downgrading it to: Pluto.

3) Rock stars with royalty names. Sorry Prince and Lady Gaga. Although we like some of your songs and you amuse us with your sparkly clown outfits, you’re still not monarchs. We’re downgrading you to: ‘talented peasants’ status and will refer to you respectively as “Wench Gaga” and “Plow Boy”.

4) California. Its motto says that it’s The Golden State. But with gold prices being what they are, we’re downgrading California to: The Plastic State. It fits better anyway.

5) Las Vegas. For years it has been luring tourists to its casinos with pictures of girls in feathered headdresses and promises that transferring our bank accounts into the slot machines will be fun! But I don’t think so. We’re downgrading Las Vegas from a vacation destination to: A Sauna With Flashing Lights. And we’re changing its name to Loss Vegas.

6) Hershey Kisses. With a name like “Kisses” and a product that is supposedly made of chocolate, you’d think this candy would be something to swoon over. But no. Hershey Kisses actually have a waxy taste, which makes us wonder who Hershey was kissing. We are therefore downgrading Hershey Kisses to: Brown Crayons.

7) The dollar. Due to its buying power, it’s been downgraded and will now be referred to as: A Flammable Quarter.

8) The physical book. It’s not that I don’t love them. I want bookstores to sell lots of physical books. But alas, the experts keep predicting their demise and last I heard, sales were down 40 percent. Therefore we sadly downgrade physical books to: The Hallmark Card Section of the Grocery Store. People who care, still want to send the very best. We will now stop with this analogy as we are sniffling.

9) The Great Wall of China. Okay it’s big and impressive but did it ever really stop anybody from invading? Therefore we’re downgrading it to: The Longest Tourist Site Ever Created By Man.

10) Congress. We’re downgrading it to: A Reality Show. And we wish it wasn’t our reality that it was messing up.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A book trailer question

Hello my blogworld friends. I decided to have a book trailer for one of my backlist books, How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend (With the hope that eventually I'll have trailers made for all of them.) and since I couldn't find an upbeat song that I liked and that had words that matched, I told my rent-a-teen Andie, to just use the instrumental for You've Got My Heart.

I think it turned out cute, but my daughter pointed out that after the trailer for Ex-boyfriend is played on Youtube, the next one that comes up is My Unfair Godmother, which uses the vocal of the same song. She thinks it seems unprofessional to use the same song for both trailers.

I'm going back and forth as to whether or not she's right. So what do you think? Can you watch both trailers and tell me whether you think I should have Ex-boyfriend's redone with a new song?

Friday, July 29, 2011

If you missed the call on writing romance

You can still hear it by going to this link:

Please ignore all those instances when I sound like I'm drunk. Really, there is no better way to make yourself tounge-tied than to know you are being recorded and the recording will be available forever and ever.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The book thieves book reviews--and a conference call

I've heard from more than one teacher that books frequently go missing from their classroom libraries. Personally, I think it's a compliment. (This is because I'm not paying for the books.) Kids liked the novels so much that they resorted to a life of crime in order to possess them.

My daughter made a collage of all the books that went missing from her class last school year. I think she sent the picture out to parents to see if they had spotted any of the wayward books at their homes. I passed on a lot of books to her that I didn't like so much, and yeah, none of those got stolen, which just proves that even thieves have taste.

I am very proud that two of my books were among those stolen!

And in other news, I'm going to do a conference call about writing romance next Wednesday, the 27th. I'll post more info about that here when I get it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Disney villains should be nervous at the Grand Canyon.

Have you ever noticed that an inordinate amount of Disney villains meet their doom by falling from high places? The wicked queen from Snow White was the first, but by no means the last. Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, the evil queen from Enchanted, and Mother Gothel from Tangled all bit the dust that way. Shan Yu form Mulan flew off on a rocket, so we can assume there was some falling involved with his demise as well.

Of course not all Disney villains die exactly that way. Disney likes to mix things up once in awhile. Scar from The Lion King fell and then got eaten by hyenas. The film Mega Mind started with Mega Mind falling to earth and then the movie went on to tell about his formative years and all of the events that led to his fall. I'm sure I’m missing many other Disney fallers, but according to the first website I saw after I googled the phrase: “How many films has Disney produced?” there are 318 Disney movies and one cannot be expected to remember all the grisly deaths.

Suffice it to say, falling is a popular way to end one’s existence.

What does that have to do with my recent vacation, you may ask. I’ll tell you. The Rallison clan just went to The Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon--which is still pretty darn grand even if it doesn’t use the word in the title. Some canyons are modest that way.

Here we are smiling at the start of our trip. There are signs that tell you to be careful when you turn your back on the canyon to take pictures, as this is how most people fall in. They forget how close they are to the edge and take a step backward. We made sure we were far away from the edge.

Here is a picture of what looks like my middle daughter lovingly putting her hand on her little sister’s shoulder.

I'm pretty sure Middle Daughter is doing this as a way to make sure Youngest Daughter doesn’t do a Disney Villain and plunge off the side. Youngest daughter has no built-in fear gage and is much too daring.

Middle Daughter has already saved Youngest Daughter’s life once. When Youngest Daughter was about four we were walking along Newport Beach and a rogue wave nearly carried Youngest Daughter out to sea. Thankfully, Middle Daughter was standing nearby and grabbed Youngest Daughter before she was swept away. Youngest Daughter laughed with delight during this incident but Middle Daughter and I remain traumatized to this day.

At any rate, one has to watch Youngest Daughter very carefully.

So then of course the next thing we did was go horseback riding at Bryce Canyon. This was perhaps not the cautious thing to do since the last time we rode horses, Youngest Daughter’s horse bit Middle Daughter’s horse which caused a horse fight in which there was actual rodeo-like bucking.

Somehow this didn’t dim Youngest Daughter’s love of horses. Middle Daughter, however, refused to go on a horseback ride anywhere near a canyon.

Here is a picture of Youngest Son by the edge of Bryce Canyon.

When we got to this point, I was beginning to agree with Middle Daughter about the whole horse/canyon thing, but by then it was too late. My horse went right to the edge to eat the grass growing there.

One side note about my horse: His name was Zero. I thought that was an odd name until I mounted him and he proceeded to walk around the corral putting his face into the other horses' butts. Then I realized zero was the amount of friends he had.

So there I was on the edge of Bryce Canyon, my horse happily munching on grass, and all the other horses followed him, thus boxing him in. He turned sideways, walked a few steps, then turned his back on the Canyon.

This is when I realized that not only was I on a horse with no social skills, he couldn't read either. It was entirely possible that he was going to take an unintentional step backward. Or one of the other horses might have been fed up with his butt-nudging antics and decided to push him over. Heaven knows, if I were one of those horses, I would have been tempted.

Which is why I was very glad that I have never been a Disney Villain.

I lived to vacation another day.

And no, this picture isn't photoshopped. This is the sort of thing gymnasts do.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The next manuscript status

I finally finished my next manuscript, Hunters and Hunted. I think this is the only book that has taken me over a year to write. It was my default manuscript—meaning, I wrote on it during those rare times when I was in between revision letters or copy edits from two different publishers. (By the way, I’m now writing for another publisher too. Harper bought Time Riders. More on that in a later blog)

So, while I’ve been waiting for Harper’s revision letter, I finished Hunters and Hunted. This was harder than one might imagine because Hunters and Hunted took a ton of research. My main character spends quite a bit of time in Boston—some of the time being pursued by the antagonist, so I had to plot out a course for her using Google street view. I now love Google street view, as it saved me a trip to Boston. (Oh wait, maybe a trip to Boston would have been fun. Dang!)

I’m a little nervous about how readers will react to Hunters and Hunted . It's quite different from my usual romantic comedies. This book isn’t a comedy at all. In fact, people are killed by flesh-eating scarabs. (More on why I wrote it, later.)

Here are the first reviews:

My mom: “It was great! I read it twice!” (Of course, one must take into account, that she is my mother and loves everything I do. She also told me I was the prettiest girl in my school.)

My husband:” It was good. I liked it.” This as much enthusiasm as he ever musters for any of my books. He generally only reads nonfiction.

Middle Daughter’s review (well, at least the review of the last chapter): “FINALLY one of your characters turned away from a kiss. Usually it’s, ‘I don't want to kiss you but you make me feel wanted!’ mwah mwah mwah.” (Those are kissy sounds.)

I was actually surprised by Middle Daughter’s review. I wanted to say, “My characters aren’t like that.” But then I thought about it. Maybe they are. I’m not going to analyze what this means about me though, because it might mean that as a teenager I kissed far too many boys far too quickly. And I’ll never admit to that.

Now I’m waiting for my agent’s review . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A fairy good school visit

I did a lot of book events last year. I spoke at three conferences, a book festival, and the ALAN convention in Orlando. I had a blast at all of it, but there is just something extra fun about doing school visits and getting to meet the students who read my books. Here are some pictures of my last school visit of the year at the awesome Sonrise Christian School in California.

All of you guys out there who want to be writers--this is the payback for all of those long days when you don't have time to shower and the even worse days when you get the revision letters and wonder why on earth you keep doing this to yourself when you clearly would be happier as a truck driver. Not that I think that . . . very often . . .

Look, I'm on the sign:
This is a picture librarian Sandi Lehnhard sent me before the visit. It's always a good sign when kids are reading your books before you come to speak to them.

And here is a group of awesome kids who will go far in life. I know this because they already have impeccable taste in literature.

They made a special Fairy Godmother smoothie in my honor. And it was really yummy. It's probably a good thing I don't have access to more of these, or I wouldn't fit into my school-visit-black-pants come next fall.

I keep this fairy wand on my dresser next to my Beanie Baby stork. But then, my dresser is a subject for a whole nother blog. (And yes, I realize that the phrase 'whole nother' is bad grammar. But I refuse to pay attention to the rules of grammar until they make sense. This will include an apology for putting an 'H' in the word 'which' when the word 'sandwich' doesn't have one. Also someone will need to explain why recipe isn't pronounced re-cipe.)

Anyway, it was a good end to the school year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Doll Wrecks

Since it's Fathers Day, I could do something on power tools, but no, I'm going to do a blog on children (They make fathers, after all) well, more specifically fake children. Also known as dolls. Those of you who know me, know that I have a doll thing. I'm especially impressed--and horrified by reborn dolls. They're supposed to look lifelike and at any given time there are hundreds on eBay going for hundreds of dollars. Here are some examples of some good ones so you know what they're supposed to look like:

Amazing, huh? Beautiful, right?

I want to hug and coo over these dolls. So you can see why they can go for a lot of money on auction sites. That said, there are a lot of dolls on eBay that just don't seem to capture what reborn dolls are supposed to be. In the constructive criticism of the Cake Wrecks blog, I want to offer a few words of advice to doll painters.

My words for this one are, "No. No. No." What were we going for? Demon child perhaps? Gollum's offspring?

Another word of advice: Blush is nice, but if you use too much of it, people will look at your doll and want to call child protective services.

Yeah, that would be too much of the red stuff.

There seems to be a new trend to have baby dolls open-mouthed and crying. This is another place where the words, "No. No. No." come to mind.

Here's another No:

And here's the baby that ate Detroit:

And here's one for every parent who wants their child to grow up to be a circus clown. Or an elf.

Oh, one last word of advice to doll makers: Lips are not optional. Your doll really should have them. I mean, blankets can only hide so much.

Well, I bet at this point you're all thinking how beautiful your children are, because they look nothing like these last dolls. So true. Really, reborn dolls offer society a valuable service.