Friday, June 26, 2009

Teen Writing Classes

For any of you teens out there who are interested in taking some writing classes—you’re in luck. Or at least you’re in luck if you live near Tempe Arizona, because that’s where I’ll be teaching.

The classes will be held at Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr
Tempe, AZ 85283
McClintock at Guadalupe

Do you have a great idea for a novel? How do you get started? In this five part workshop, Janette Rallison, author of more than 10 middle school and teen novels including My Fair Godmother and Just One Wish, discusses the building blocks of novel writing. Learn how to outline the plot, produce chapters, and build the story that turns your idea into a page turner.

When: Mondays and Wednesdays July 1, 6, 8, 13, 15 from 4-5:30pm. Cost: $75 for five sessions. Registration and pre-payment required at 480.730.0205.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the BYU writers conference--it rocked!

The writing conference at BYU was great this year. There’s just no other way to put this: Writers are cool people. They’re fun to hang around with, they’re fun to teach. And I’m not just saying that because several of my students gave me chocolate (thanks guys!) and tried to set up my single daughter. (Extra credit for Ally and Erin!)

I taught the romance class this year—perhaps because I kept trying to insert romances into all of my students’ novels last year. It was great. Here you can see we were totally getting into the romance theme.

And here again we’re trying to personify the perfect romantic heroine. All of us are murmuring Ben Barnes name at this point. He made an appearance in Stacey’s manuscript and just hung around the class after that.

Here I am, probably pondering my old nemesis: to be verbs.

My lovely assistant, Heather, saw from my blog that I’ve always wanted Mattel to make a Barbie doll out of one of my characters. So Heather created a Chrysanthemum Everstar doll for me. Is that cool, or what?

Now I'm back home, wearing my pajamas while I write and trying to convince the children not to trash the house, flood the backyard,or mindmeld with the Playstation. And no one cooks yummy meals for me. I miss you, writers conference!I miss you, Ben Barnes! Sigh.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We interupt this blog for the following announcement:

It's book signing time again. That means it's time for me to beg friends, strangers, and potential stalkers to come to the Barnes and Noble at Chandler Fashion Mall so that I look like I have a following. Tomorrow, June 20th, 3:00.

Lisa McMann will be signing there too and since she is a NYT best seller she will no doubt have hordes of fans screaming, "Lisa! Lisa! Sign my book!!" (Okay, probably not--book readers don't tend to be a wild group--but you know what I mean.) And I will be twiddling my thumbs and examining the table cloth.

I know how it goes. I've been through this before.

Here are a list of the mega selling authors I've done signings with:

Gary Paulson (Hatchet and a gazillion boy books)
Christopher Paul Curtis (two Newberys)
Barbara Park (Junie B Jones)
Stephenie Meyers (Twilight)
Brandon Mull (Fablehaven)
Shannon Hale (Newbery, Goose Girl Series)

I'd write more but frankly this is just a depressing list.

So come. Even if you have all my books. They make good gifts and Christmas is just six short months away. Besides, if you do I'll come to your Tupperware party. See, it's all good.

Now I just need to find and post a picture of Robert Pattinson so people will stop by this blog . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

And the winner is . . .

First off, sorry it's taken me so long to post this. I was teaching a writing workshop at BYU (the subject of my next blog) and fell into bed every night around midnight. But let me say I was blown away by all the responses I got to the Mind-Rain give-away. Should I be offended that I didn't get 56 comments the last time I gave away one of my books? Hmm. I will tell myself that it was due to the interesting nature of the question and not the fact that you all like Scott Westerfeld better than me.

I was surprised with the thought provoking and often poignant responses that so many of you gave. I was also surprised that most people took the five years, hands down.

Apparently the rest of you are not nearly as vain as I used to be. I still remember those awkward years when I had braces, glasses, hair that I had no idea how to style, and zero fashion sense. Not surprisingly, I also didn't have a lot of self confidence and social situations--like talking to guys--baffled me. (Really, if I dug out my eighth grade picture and posted it here, you would understand. But I'm not putting that out on the Internet. Nope. Sorry. You'll have to use your imagination.)

During high school I shook off the feathers of the ugly duckling years, and it was like a whole new world opened. Guys paid attention to me. Girls treated me with more respect.

True story: (which will sound like bragging but is really just illustrating a point)I went to visit my parents in California one year when I was about 21. They were renting a house and the (fairly young) landlord was constantly rude to them,complaining to them about this or that and not taking care of things that needed to be fixed.

So during my visit, the landlord rang the bell and I answered the door. He looked at me with this sort of stunned expression on his face and mumbled that he was there to take care of a few things. My parents introduced me to him and he was completely nice to everyone while he went about taking care of his landlord things.

After he left, my parents laughed about the change in him and told me I should visit more often, but it puzzled me. Clearly, the landlord changed his behaviour because there was a pretty girl around even though there was no actual benefit for him to do so. I never saw him again. But it did teach me that being pretty is like going through life with bonus points. I liked that. I never wanted to lose it. If really given the choice when I was young, I would have gone for beauty instead of the five years.
(I tried to find a picture of me when I was young--but where the 80's hair wasn't too prominent. Don't ask me what I was doing with my arms.)

That said, one day as I was getting ready for college classes, I realized it was a trick question. In between clothes shopping, clothes ironing, showering, shaving, blow-drying, hair-curling, and putting on make-up, I realized that I probably would spend more than five years of my life "beautifying" myself. I'd already made the choice.

Now in my older years, I make the opposite choice. I can't tell you how many days I walk around looking like a bag lady because I'm so intent on getting my writing done. These days, I take the time over beauty.

Still it's made for some interesting discussion here and also as I've visited my daughter this week. You can actually get a lot of mileage out of those five-year jokes.

Me walking into the room looking like something the cat dragged in: Hi!
Her: So, I see you've decided to take those five years back.

Gotta love her.

Anyway, it was hard to pick a winner because everyone was so profound. Really. I'm in awe of all of you. But I'm going to go with Jenilyn because I liked the way she picked the beauty but made it look like she was doing it for altruistic reasons. (making life easier for the nursing staff.) I think it was a reason New Pretty Town could totally support. So, Jenilyn, send me your snail mail at rallison 1 at cox dot net. And I'll send you you're book!

And the rest of you--I'm proud of you! Just don't waste your five years watching tv.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mind-Rain book give away!

One of the fun things about being a writer is getting to rub shoulders with other authors. (Another is living vicariously through your characters while they do things like tell off people who remind you of your home owners’ association board, but I digress.)

I was happy when Ben Bella Books asked me to write an essay for a book they were doing on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. I really enjoyed the books, so not only did I get to pontificate on the role of beauty in our society, but I also got the thrill of knowing that Scott Westerfeld himself read and edited my essay. (Yes, This is how much of a book geek I am. I was like, “Scott Westerfeld’s eyeballs read the words I wrote!” I think this means I am allowed to hang out socially with him now, you know, assuming I ever meet him in real life.)

So the book is officially out now. It’s called Mind-Rain and is available at your local Borders.

Here is a blurb from my essay about the role of beauty in our society:

When I was a teenager I read a book of difficult questions. One of them was: Would you choose to be beautiful if it meant you’d lose five years from your life span?

Would you?

The question bothered me because I knew the answer should be easy—who in their right mind would trade part of their life—1,825 days—just to look good? Looking good doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your life.

But I kept finding myself wanting to refine the question. Exactly how ugly would I have to be to have that extra five years? And were we talking about a life span of seventy years? Eighty years? Perhaps only forty? The question just wouldn’t go away. The answer hovered around, revealing all sorts of uncomfortable things about myself and my society--because let’s face it we do judge people based on looks.

Oh, as a society we like to pretend that we aren’t really all that vain, that we don’t obsess about our appearances, and that we’re capable of seeing past all the superficial stuff. As Martin Luther King Jr. would say, if you know, he happened to live in a Scott Westerfeld novel: People should not be judged by the prettiness of their skin, but by the content of their character.

We throw around phrases to emphasize the point. Beauty is only skin deep. Beauty is as beauty does. It’s what inside that really matters. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Any high school freshman will tell you differently. As will your local plastic surgeon, or the person in charge of hiring models for advertisements.

If you want to sell something, you show a beautiful person holding, eating, wearing, or driving it. There is a reason we call beautiful people attractive. We are attracted to them just because of their looks. As a society we want to be them so badly that we will buy the soda we see them drinking, the clothes we see them wearing, and the cars we see them driving.

Okay for those of you who are still with me, to be the winner of a free copy of Mind Rain, answer the question: Would you trade five years of your life to be beautiful? Why or why not?