Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Which cover picture do you like best--new photo added

I have a romance novella that I'll be putting up on Amazon soon. Possible title: Long Time (and at one point illegal) Crush I need a cover. So I've been looking at pictures of hot guys on Shutterstock (It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.) and now I want your opinion.
Kye, the hero, is a guy who's family owns a large ranch in Montana. When his father had an injury, Kye changed his plans from being an engineer to being a high school math teacher so he can help out on the ranch.
We see him in a cowboy hat, in his school teacher duds, and in a tuxedo as best man at the heroine's brother's wedding. You would think it would be easy to find pictures of a hot guy in a cowboy hat--and it is--except that none of the pictures seemed appropriate for one of my stories. According to Shutterstock, cowboys wear very little clothing. Apparently something in their job requires them to walk around shirtless, with glistening abbs. (I sooo should have been a cowgirl.)
Let me know which picture you think would make readers look twice. (Oh, and by the way, the guy is age 24 and then 27 in the story.)
***news flash**** I have a new contender in the hot guy cover category. A friend pointed out this awesome photo by photographer Rob Lang. I emailed him and asked for permission to use it on the blog so you, my dear readers, could vote on it. Keep in mind that even though you may want to copy said photo and wallpaper your bathroom with it (who wouldn't, after all) it's copyrighted and a flurry of lawyers will pounce on you should you press the "save image" button.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Creepy Christmas gifts--the annual report

It's that special time of year when random companies send me their catalogs. I don't know why anyone thinks I might want to buy Meerkat statues, dancing pigs, or dress-able squirrel magnets, but apparently I fit the demographic, because the catalogs keep showing up. Of course, even the stores have their share of creepy Christmas presents.  Here's my top pick of things you probably won't want to receive this Christmas. (If you're afraid any of your relatives might send you these things, do yourself a favor and email them the blog link.)

First off, let's talk about Dora the Explorer--that charming little girl who wanders the countryside, constantly lost.  Last year I was creeped out to see the Dora Pillow Pet because it looks like some horrible species-cross-breeding experiment that went horribly wrong.  (When did people become pets?)

Do not ask what Dora is doing with those Winnie the Pooh Pillow pets. You don't want to know.

I had high hopes that Dora would be back to her normal winsome self this year. Alas, it was not to be. I walked by a store and saw this.

 If I were Hello Kitty, I'd be nervous. Apparently Dora ate her last sidekick. 

Dora's new "husky" size  made me wonder about the obesity problem here in the US. Why are we so overweight?  And then I saw these next Christmas ornaments.

Since when did  Christmas trees start doubling as snack bars? How food obsessed are we as a nation that we think strips of raw meet are a good decorating medium?

Okay, enough talk about obesity. In the last week, I have eaten far too many sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and brownies  to get up on a soapbox about junk food. (And okay, I did just buy a cupcake ornament--but it was cute.)

Speaking of Christmas decorations, here's a two-story tall blow up Santa. Nothing will thrill junior quite as much as a Santa the same size as King Kong.  I mean, that's not going to cause any nightmares. The reason Santa knows when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake is because he can look right into your bedroom window. And he does . . .

What do you get the person who has everything? How about a horse head mask? I mean, how many times have you been walking around your house wishing you could slip into something a little more equine?  I love how the horse looks startled--like he's just watched the decapitated horse head scene from the Godfather.

Sometimes I think certain gift ideas must have come about after drunken parties in the marketing department. Marketeers were clearly trying to outdo each other by finding the absolutely stupidest objects they could make people in third world sweatshops produce. This mounted squirrel head (only 24.95) is not only sold by Wireless, it's on the cover of their catalog. Yep, the flagship of gifts, the hot item this year--a fake, dead, half a squirrel. Personally, I'd expect a real, dead, half a squirrel for that much money.

Just kidding! Lest I get angry comments about my inhumanity toward fake or real squirrels, let me emphasize that I love animals as much as the next person--in fact, arguably more, since I have so many cats I have been accused on more than one occasion of hoarding them. (The strays come and refuse to leave. It's really not my fault.)  However, even I--animal lover that I am--found these next shirts creepy.

Remember the scene from Alien when an alien popped out of somebody's stomach? Yeah, that's pretty much the impression you'll give people if you wear this shirt.  And the cat shirt--is it just me or does the cat look like it's just as horrified by this fashion choice as everyone else?
Lastly, for a mere 109.95 you can buy a two and a half foot tall Green Thumb garden statue. 
All I can say about it is: Well, at least it's not the middle finger. That, I suppose, would really be more of a statement to your home owners association than an actual Christmas gift.

Sadly, there are many, many more tacky gifts where these came from. 

If you want a great gift--and one that's a lot less than 109.95, try one of my books. I promise it will give you more enjoyment than half a squirrel or a gigantic, severed garden thumb.

If you're into romantic comedies about women who work for hot, single movie stars:

If you'd like to see past years creepy gifts, you can check them out here:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Random chose Eliza

So send me your address (or the address where you want the book to go) at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and I'll mail it off.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Failed Family Mottos book give-away

You know what would be a perfect Christmas gift (besides my books, that is)? This awesome book of failed family mottos.  You know those samplers and plaques with uplifting, motivational saying that you frequently see in peoples homes?  These are the ones that didn't make it.  Here are a few samples from the book:

See, you can tell the author had lots of boys. (Four, I believe.)

I actually have a Return With Honor plaque hanging in my house. Now I will think of this one when I see it.

                                            This is frequently how our family prayers at our house go. Sigh.

For a chance to win this book, leave a comment about your family's motto (failed or otherwise) I'll choose a winner on Sunday and mail the book out on Monday so that hopefully it will get to you or your loved one by Christmas.

Or if you'd rather just pay the 7.95 and order the book, here's a link to the website so you can do that:

You'll see the book in the right hand corner. Click on it for buying info.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Bad Boy Appeal part 1

I'm deep in revisions, so today my commentary on the Bad Boy phenomena is going to be this very funny music video, called Nice Guys.

The first lines are:
Nice guys finish last,
that's why I'll treat you like trash.
It's not what I really want to do,
but you only date bad guys,
so I'll give it my best try
to treat you the way you want me to.

It's funny because there's a grain of truth to it. I mean, there must be or we wouldn't love those fictional bad boys so much. (Warning for my sensitive readers. The song contains the h word.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writers--put this conference on your calendar

I know a lot of my blog readers are also writers. If you're one of the lucky ones blessed with a writer's brain, you won't want to miss ANWA's Time Out For Writers conference. Feb 21-23 (And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the teachers.) We've got some great agents, editors, and authors teaching classes.

Here's info or you can go to this link for even more details:

 Classes – 36 classes to choose from for all stages, genres, and platforms!  
• Workshops – query and pitch workshops on Thursday night
• Faculty - nationally recognized presenters, including NY Times best-selling authors, agents, editors and publishers teach the classes
• Pitch Sessions – Pitch your manuscript to national editors and publishers
• Contests – Enter the Beginning of Book (BOB) Contest with the first 500 words of your manuscript
• Protagonist Ball – Come dressed as your favorite protagonist to mingle, network and have fun with faculty and other attendees
• All-star Breakfast – the first 25 to register for the full conference, and hotel room, receive the opportunity to share a special breakfast with the faculty
• Bookstore – sell your books and/or purchase others’ at our on-site bookstore

Here's teachers and class description in alphabetical order:

Dr. James Blasingame: "The Key Components of a Young Adult Novel" 

Erzsi Deak: "Can You Hear Me Now? Dialogue That Speaks Volumes About Your Characters and Pushes Your Plot Forward" - Get ready to take the stage and make the dialogue (in your WIPs/in your writing) work for you. Based on our homework, we'll bring your story alive and see what's pushing your plot forward or making it stumble and listen to what your characters are saying; or aren't saying. This workshop has a cap of 30 participants

Dave Eaton: "Your Online Path to a Bestseller, Part 1: Step One is “Branding” - Become associated with your Genre. When someone says: “Fantasy Romance”, are they thinking of you?

"Part 2: How can I get more “eyes” on my book?" - Online marketing is essential for the new generation of bestselling authors. Take your Kindle Book and “light it on fire” with a 7-Step launch plan.

Lynn Gardner: "The How's, Where's and Why's of Research – And is it Really Necessary?" - This workshop will answer questions like:  Can't I just use my very vivid imagination…do I have to infuse reality in a work of fiction?  Can I create my own world?  Is there an advantage to using famous places as a setting for my novel? Is there any rule for using real locations, real places? Do I have to travel to those places if I put them in my book? Can't I just rely on Wikipedia and Google for my research?  Where else can I go for information? 

"Creating Characters You Love - Or Hate!" - How do you create characters that will remain in your readers' minds long after they put the book down? Why is a name important? Why should my characters have personality quirks, character flaws and strengths? A bio for my characters…really?  Learn the secrets for creating unforgettable characters.

Kathy Gordon: "The 10 Biggest Mistakes Writers Make" - Did you know there are ten basic things you can do to boost your chances of making it out of the slush pile—and eventually getting published? Join us for this somewhat humorous yet critically important look at the "top ten" mistakes authors make (No, Virginia, you're not alone in this), and make sure your next submission is the best one since sliced bread.

"The 10 Biggest Mistakes in Querying an Agent" - Trying to engage an agent is not as easy as taking candy from a baby—and there are ten epic fails you should avoid as you start shopping for the person who will help land your book on store shelves. Find out everything you need to know—from how to write a killer query letter to how to successfully woo potential agents—with this comprehensive set of sure-fire tips.

Jennifer Griffith: "Archetypes, not Stereotypes: Nailing Down Your Main Characters" and "Shine Up Your Story with Conflict"

Leslie Householder: "Self-Published? How to earn a 6-figure Income Giving Your Book Away for Free" -  Most authors are lucky to break even on their books. Some of the best messages never get "out there" because a publisher didn't "pick it up". Now you can learn the secrets of becoming a PROFITABLE author, no matter what obstacles get in the way. I'll teach you what I've learned over the last 10 years, going from a novice to an award winning, three-time international best seller. Learn how to position yourself for those (so-called) "lucky breaks" that profitable authors rely on, and even expect. I've written three books and every one of them has achieved best seller status, even though the traditional publishers rejected them. Don't let anyone else's opinion of your work stop you from achieving your goals!

Heather B. Moore: "Historical Fiction: One Genre That Is Here to Stay" - Historical novelist, Heather Moore, will discuss why you can't go wrong with writing historical fiction as long as it's done right. Topics include choosing time periods, world building, dialog choice, avoiding info dumps, characterizing historical figures, expanding historical facts into plot arcs, finding the right conflict to focus on, why you don't have to be an expert or spend ten years in research, how to use your non-fiction platform to sell your novel, and the unmentionables (bibliographies, chapter notes, maps, endorsements from the "experts").

"Life After the First Draft: Steps to Self-Editing" - Finishing the first draft of a manuscript is a major accomplishment, but it's far from ready to submit. Editor/Author Heather Moore will take you through the necessary steps of self-editing and how to use critical feedback from alpha readers effectively. Whether you're writing your first manuscript or your sixth, your next contract may depend on the quality of work you turn in.

Angela Morrison: "Write from your Inner Truth (but don't wreck it)"  -  Jane Yolen says stories must be based on a writer's inner truth. But, doing the very thing Jane Yolen tells us and our heart urges us to attempt can lead to errors that turn your fiction into something you didn't intend--propaganda rather than fiction. Angela draws from her experience writing Taken by Storm and her exhaustive research to help you keep truth in and didacticism out of your work. 

"Free Verse Poetry: A Secret Weapon for Improving your Prose" -  In this hands-on workshop, learn the basics of writing free verse, create a new poem using an in-class free write, and practice using free verse techniques to take your prose to a higher level. Bring any paragraph of your own writing, fiction or non-fiction, to hone.

Evan Neill: "Designing a Winning Screenplay (Part 1)" - In the first class of this two-part presentation, I will cover the storytelling in the screenplay, along with common errors and the techniques needed to format a screenplay correctly.

"Designing a Winning Screenplay (Part 2)" - The second class of this two-part presentation will cover how to develop characters through their actions and dialogue. I will also discuss how to get your screenplay noticed once it's been polished and perfected.

James Owen: TBA
Lara Perkins: "Crafting a Can't-Put-Me-Down First Chapter" - A strong, page-turning, addictIng first chapter is the best way to catch an agent or an editor's attention. Your mission, in the first chapter, is to surprise and delight even the most jaded reader and to entice them to continue deeper into your story. In this workshop, I'll discuss what makes a memorable first chapter, what your goals should be as you write and revise your first chapter, and which tried-and-true techniques will help you accomplish those goals.
Aprilynne Pike: "Worldbuilding: The Invisible Foundation" - Not just for fantasy, world building is a key task of any fiction writer. From a wholly-imagined realm to the house next door, find out how to make the world in your story believable. What you need to know, what's optional, and why almost none of it ends up in the book.

Janette Rallison: The romance genre is going strong. Come learn the do's and don't's to make your romance sellable. Avoid pitfalls like insta-love and the ever dreaded sagging middle. Learn how to make sparks fly and keep the tension going.

Chris Schoebinger: “The 5 Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Manuscript to a Publisher” - No one likes a rejection letter. However, there are things you can do to get your submission noticed and into a hands of a decision maker. Learn what acquisitions editors are looking for. Plus, Chris takes you on a virtual tour of Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain Publishing with some special authors that have dropped in to give some advice to writers. 

Marsha Ward: "The Indie Author: No Longer a Stepchild in the Publishing Family" - Are you tired of battling windmills to get your book into the gatekeepers'hands? Do you feel the squeeze of frustration because your time is running out? This workshop explores the phenomonal rise of the Indie Author in our time. Learn what "the long tail" means. Discover the tools you need to make the "Book of Your Heart" available to the true gatekeepers: readers. Is your manuscript nearing completion (within a year)? Bring your computer and be prepared to open a free account for print book production at a leading provider of Print-On-Demand books. And no, they won't charge you any exorbitant fees.

"eBooks: The Rising Generation in the Publishing Family" - Making an ebook is not as scary as you thought. Whether you write non-fiction, poetry, memoirs, short stories, or novels, this workshop answers your nagging questions and sets to rest your self-doubts. Learn what you need to know about this technological miracle. Get the tools you need to enable you to break into the publishing family at little or no cost. Bring your e-reading device or computer so you can download the best guide you can get to prepping your manuscript for ebook conversion, and it's free!

Stacy Whitman: "Writing Cross-Culturally" - Whether you're a delving for the first time into a character's head who isn't from your own culture, or writing from your own cultural perspective, often your readers will be a diverse lot. How do we navigate the spaces between where we come from, where our characters come from, and where our readers come from without infodumping or sounding didactic? Editor Stacy Whitman of Tu Books will talk about the growing need for diversity in our books and how to know what questions to ask to begin to get it right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Masquerade is out--and isn't the cover awesome?

One of the things I like best about the ebook phenomena, is that I can take books that I wrote at the beginning of my career, improve them, and put them up as ebooks.  This was a fun story, so I'm especially glad it gets a new life.

The biggest change that readers will notice is that the ending is longer and there is an epilogue. I freely admit that ending the story as abruptly as I did the first time was a mistake.  The other changes are more subtle and are mostly writing style related as opposed to plot related. For example, in the first edition I used the term "for a moment" a lot. People paused for a moment. They looked at each other for a moment. They did many, many things for a moment. And then, they momentarily did other things.

A big thank you to all the readers who overlook that sort of thing. Bless you, bless you for just paying attention to the story and not the writing.

But I still feel much better now that I've changed that type of thing.

Here is the description, that I'm not exactly happy with because it doesn't really convey that the book is a romantic comedy. (Must change that later.)

When Clarissa takes a much needed job under slightly false pretenses, she doesn't think it will be such a big deal. She may have told her movie-star boss that she was married, but that shouldn't matter. After all, she doesn't want anything to do with men for a long, long time. 

It's hard for a woman to keep up the masquerade when her boss is as handsome as Slade Jacobson and the job takes her to Hawaii with him. In between handling his whirlwind four-year-old daughter and dealing with a whole cast of Hollywood personalities, Clarissa has to keep a tight hold on her heart.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A one question survey while I wait for my ebook to load

Do you know the best time to ask your husband to load your new ebook? Apparently it isn't 11:00 pm. (Sheesh, morning people.)

So I'm hoping that he'll get Masquerade put up sometime tomorrow, and as soon as it shows up for sale online I will post the news here.  (It's sooo much better than the original. I'm excited for it to come out in its new incarnation.)

Until then, I want to ask you a question.  Who do you like better--Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Who did you like better as a teen and if you had to choose one for a romantic lead, who would it be?

I have a legitimate reason for asking, but I'm not going to tell you what it is until I get some answers. I don't want to prejudice the results

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The question I haven't been asked, and the question that still makes me think

I was hoping to announce a new (well, rewritten) ebook, but that's still a couple days away, so I'm putting up a question I just answered on the Much Cheaper than Therapy blog.

My old writing teacher asked me: What question has no one ever asked you that you wish they would.

I should have come up with something funny. For example, I wish someone would ask me, "How come you look so much like Angelina Jolie?" Sadly, no one has ever asked me that.  But the thing was, I'd gotten a question that I still think about, so I wrote about that instead.

After sixteen years of publishing, I think I’ve been asked just about every question there is about writing. At conferences people ask about agents, editors, and revisions. Bloggers ask about the writing process, how book ideas happened, and what’s next on the horizon. The really interesting questions come during school visits because kids will ask any and every question that pops into their mind. What is your favorite color? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  How much money do you make?

The question I’ve never been asked is: Is it all worth it?  I suppose everyone thinks they already know the answer to this question. The aspiring writers are sure it is, the bloggers are glad it is, and many of the students--when they realize how much money I make--are sure it isn’t.  (The first boy who asked me how much money I made pondered my answer and then said, “So, writing is really more of a hobby than a career.”  It was back then, now it isn’t.)

Perhaps the best answer to the Is-it-all-worth-it question is: “If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and stop.” That pretty much sums up life for the avid writer. We’ll write whether it’s a hobby or a career.

The question that surprised me and still haunts me sometimes, came from a young girl during one of my school visits. She couldn’t have had the wisdom or prescience to realize what she was asking when she said, “Have you ever written anything that you regret writing?”

At that moment I thought of every book I’d ever written and the millions of children who have read them. I thought of how books affected me as a child. Some made me want to be a better person, some expanded my mind, some comforted me, others influenced me to do things I shouldn’t have. Books are that powerful. You can’t step into a main character’s skin, live their story, think their thoughts, and not be affected somehow.  Authors are kidding themselves if they think they can step away from that privilege and responsibility.

Standing in that school auditorium, I thought of the story ideas, plot outlines, and random chapters I have on my computer in my Possible Manuscripts folder.  A lot of those story ideas are really good. Some of them might not have the best affect on readers though. I vacillate whether I should ever write those books. On one hand, I as an author want to go on those journeys, to give life to those characters, and experience their stories with them. And doesn’t an author need to be true to a story no matter where it goes or what paths it takes the characters on? Who am I to censor creation?

It’s not the fault of Batman’s writers that some psycho dressed up as the Joker and shot up a movie theater. It’s not Stephenie Meyer’s fault if some misguided folks try to be vampires, or Footloose’s writers fault that teens died recreating car stunt shown in the movie. People are born with common sense and should use it.

But once you publish a book, once it’s out in the world of sale and resale, it never goes away. You can’t ever take back what you’ve written. You can’t add disclaimers. No matter what common sense dictates, readers don’t even seem to fully realize that everything a character says or does isn’t condoned by the author. I’ve had people order food for me because I wrote that my main character liked that food.

The books I have out now are fun, romantic comedies and adventures. I write about good characters making mostly good choices. The others stories are still safely tucked away. For now at least, they’ll stay that way.

That's when I looked the girl in the eyes and told her there were books I wish I’d written better, but I didn’t regret anything I’d written.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tourist sites: the good, the bad, and the creepy

I just got back from Disneyland and it's made me think about tourist sites in general and why we pack up our suitcases, pull out our wallets, and head off to see things. Some places are definitely worth the trouble, others, not so much. Here are a list of good and bad tourist sites.

On the good list:  Any mountain range.  Mountains are beautiful, peaceful, and make for good hiking. As an added benefit you don't have to stand in line to see them.

On the creepy list: Mount Rushmore. I'm patriotic and all, but who thought four gigantic heads that stare down at people was a good use of funds or sculpting talent? They're watching you, and they don't look pleased . . .

On the good list: The beach. Nothing is more relaxing than enjoying the waves on a floaty raft. That's the ultimate in vacation time. Here's a picture of Techno Bob and I on our 25th anniversary.

On the bad list: New York Times Square. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine this is the world's most popular travel spot with nearly 40 million visitors a year. I've been to New York and I think Travel and Leisure Magazine may have gotten it wrong . About 20 million of those people were lost in New York's corn-maze-like streets and just wound up there as angry taxi drivers honked impatiently at them.

On the good list: The Lincoln Memorial. It's not only been immortalized by the back of the penny (as a child I was convinced the trolley from the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was really the thing on the penny) it's majestic at night when it's glowing in light, it's free, and the roof makes a darn good place to toss a character off of, if you happen to be an author. (Slayers 2, coming out 2013)

On the bad list: The Washington Monument. Okay, what is this thing supposed to be? How does a a really tall, skinny, useless building honor George Washington? Did anyone ask him about this design? Maybe he would have liked a nice statue with him on his horse instead. And am I the only one who looks at this structure and wants to play an areal game of ring toss? On the plus side, it makes a good place for flying characters to zoom around as they try to evade each other. (Again, a Slayers 2 scene.)

On the good list: The National Natural History Museum. You get to learn interesting stuff, covet  precious gems, see frightening looking fish that lurk in the dark parts of the ocean--something for everyone. Plus, again it's a good place to set a scene for a book. Do you notice a Slayers 2 theme?

On the creepy list: Any museum that has mummies. I mean, there's something unsettling about seeing shriveled dead people from thousands of years ago laid out in front of you like they were treasures. If I ever inherit an antiquity, the last thing I want is a mummy. Shriveled dead people don't go with most people's home decor and there are just so many things you can prop up in your living room.  A nice vase, I would take.

On the good and the creepy list simultaneously: Disneyland. The travel magazine says that 15 million people visit a year, and I believe them as there were at least that many people standing in line in front of me for the Toy Story ride. I love the princesses, the songs, the decorations--I mean, where else can you see a big, glowing pink castle? (Pure awesomeness!)

But sorry Disney, the large smiling rodent is creepy and giving Mickey a flesh colored face only makes him creepier because it looks like he's mutating into a person. (Yes, that is me as a teenager.)

Well, I could go on but I have a book to write. I'm officially done with five pages of the next Fairy Godmother book.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A lyrics intervention--Train does it again

Long time blog readers know that I started the Enrique Awards--an award for songs with bad pickup lines.

(To see the five contending songs for last years award, you can follow this link:

This year, Train won hands down (or wheels down, since we are talking about a vehicle) for it's song Drive By.

In it, lead singer Patrick Monahan sounds like he's stalking some unfortunate woman who's greatest desire is to flee from him. She moves across the country (or at least tells him she does) in order to get away from him. Sadly, he still doesn't get the hint.  And then there is the touching chorus where he proclaims that he is just a "shy guy looking for a two-ply Hefty bag to hold my love."

Yeah, it's always the quiet ones that you don't suspect who end up being led away by the police in handcuffs after the grisly remains are found in their basement.

So in a clear attempt to redeem themselves from the I'm-not-a-danger-to-society category, Train has come up with another song called Fifty Ways to Say Goodbye.  (Catchy song, by the way. I frequently hum it.)

For Pat, saying goodbye entails coming up with fifty imaginative ways to say his girlfriend died.  Here's a sample:

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

Yes, Patrick, I think we can all agree that you are no good at goodbyes.  Most people go with, "Let's just be friends." It's a little less violent.

Note to any women who are interested in Train band members: Don't. Just don't even go there. It will not end well.

Note to the Feds: Check the Hefty bags. That's where he keeps his love.

Note to people who don't know me: I'm just joking about all of this.

Note to Patrick: Seriously, I love you . . . so you don't ever need to like, um, come looking for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing—it’s sort of like budgeting

Time and money never add up like I think they should. I’m always amazed at the amount of money my family spends. It seems like we should have lots of moeny left over at the end of the month, and yet we don’t.

This year I took on an insane amount of writing. Why you might ask?  Because I have no grip on reality. It’s like all those times when I walk into Michaels and see cute scrapbooking stuff on sale and suddenly think I’m Martha Stewart—or someone with scrapbooking talent.  Which I’m not.  But that doesn’t matter, because I see said cute stuff and I think, “I should buy that because one day I’m going to put together cute, touching scrapbooks that are a tribute to my kids and their innate darlingness.

No, no I’m not. What I’m actually going to do is buy the stuff and put it in a box in my closet with the rest of the scrapbooking stuff I will never use until Armageddon or the zombie apocalypse hits.  Yep, while all the electricity is down and we’re all holed ourselves in our houses with nothing else to do I’ll have plenty of scrapbooking stuff to keep me busy. (Assuming of course that I’ve previously downloaded pictures . . .)

Anyway, when my publishers both wanted a book within the same 6 month period, I thought I could do it.  Here is my reasoning: If I type two pages an hour and work an average of five hours a day, I’ll produce ten pages a day. If I work twenty two days a month, I’ll have the first draft of a 300 page book done in a month and a half—easy. Then I can take the other month and a half to revise it.  Bingo. Two books in six month.

Why is real life never like a math equation?

Perhaps because when all is said and done I write slower than two pages an hour. I actually average more like one page an hour (poof—I just gave myself ten hour days instead of five hour ones.)  And my books are closer to 400 than they are to 300. (Poof—there went my Saturdays) And you don’t have a six month period without things like family reunions, holidays, birthdays, conferences, school visits and other things that don’t allow you to write for ten hours a day.

So what actually happened is I was ensconced in myroom without showering, cooking or cleaning. I was frequently up until 4:00 AM. But the worst is over now, I think.

 Echo in Time is at the copy edits stage. I’ll have revisions for Slayers Two in a week or two. Masquerade's copy edits should be back to me any day now. And I’ll hopefully have revisions for The Wrong Side of Magic soon too.

And when I’m done with all of that, I’ll start working on the third fairy godmother book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The truth about revisions

The problem with writing a story is that for the author, the story doesn't occur on the page. It occurs in the author's head.  And the story is always good there. I've got some awesome scenes in my mind. I do my best to translate those scenes on the page.  When I write a  novel, I always think the writing is good because I'm still seeing the scenes in my mind.  This is why authors always need to take a break from their manuscripts.  The longer, usually the better.  After a couple of months, I reread what I've written and I can see all sorts of problems that I then fix.  

And then I think it's good . . . until I read it the next time.  Apparently the same is true  in drawing because this comic says it all.

Monday, October 08, 2012

More Erasing Time give-aways

Here are the rest of the blog tour stops. Enter all of them for a chance to win--and also, you can still go back to the previous ones and enter. Sopme of them have a lot of comments, but some only have a few which boosts your chances of winning. good luck!

October 8- LDSWBR
October 9- PageTurners Blog
October 10- Reading Teen
October 11- YA Bliss
October 12- Wastepaper Prose

Sunday, October 07, 2012

for your next chance to win Erasing Time

Head over to Portrait of a Book. Oh, and by the way, it seems that a lot of these blogs are taking comments for a week, so if you missed some of the blog stops, go back and leave a comment because you may still have a chance to win.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Next blog stop the Mod Podge Bookshelf

The Mod Podge Bookshelf asked me for a deleted scene. A lot got deleted from the manuscript, but not a whole scene. So I wrote a bit from Taylor's point of view  and sent that over.  You can read it at:

Friday, October 05, 2012

Next blog stop at Books Complete Me

And of course there will be a chance to win a book. You can see BCM's review at:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Blog tour--celebrity fashion and another chance to win

The next stop on the Erasing Time blog tour is the I Am A Reader, Not a Writer blog. On today's guest post, I talk about future fashion. Are today's celebrities crazy or are they just fashion forward?

You can read it all at:

Also, you'll have a chance to win the book.

Win a copy of Erasing Time at Fiktshun Blog

Day three of the blog tour is at Fiktshun's blog.  She gave Erasing Time a rave review, so I know she's very smart.  You can read it at:

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Blog Tour Day Two

Today hop on over to Tales of the Ravenous Reader for an Erasing Time excerpt and a chance to win the book at:

Monday, October 01, 2012

Erasing Time Blog Tour begns!

Hey reader friends,
For the next 12 days (sort of like the Twelve Days of Christmas) I'm going on a blog tour. Today, head on over to Fire and Ice's blog to see what sort of playlist (or lack of one) I have going when I write.

You'll have multiple chances to win a copy of Erasing Time along the way, so be sure to check out the posts! I'll post a link to each day's stop.

Here's a link to today's--and the schedule of future stops:

Monday, September 24, 2012

What the kids did during revisions/ sledding in Arizona

While I was busy doing revisions, the kids found ways to entertain themselves.  This was one activity I found out about after the fact. Yeah. Love how safety conscious the kids are. On the other hand, who says kids can't have sledding-like activities in Arizona?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Which cover do you like best?

I know I said I was going to do another--what the kids were doing while I revised blog--but then I got these lovely cover proofs from Earthly Charms for the ebook cover of Masquerade--which I'm in the process of rewriting for the national market. Hopefully it will be released in a month or two (depending on how much time I have since Putnam and Feiwel will both send revisions to me on other novels soon).

So which cover do you think works for a romantic comedy?  Also, let me know if you actually like to read romances. (One of the interesting things I've found is that people who don't like to read romances prefer the middle cover. But the thing is--if they like it because it doesn't seem 'romancy' then maybe it's not the best cover since romance readers are my target audience.) So yeah, let me know if you actually read romances. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The art of mothering during revisions part one

When I say there's an art to mothering during revisions, the art I'm talking about is the equivalent of those modern art statues you see which resemble tangled coat hangers, or giant erasers, or someone's pile of  recyclable milk cartons. You know the ones I'm talking about--the ones you see and think, "That's art?"

That's pretty much how my mothering has gone for the last few months while I finished writing Slayers Two and did revisions for Echo of Time. (Erasing Time's sequel.)  I've stayed up until four in the morning on more than one occasion, and Techno Bob has had to get our youngest daughter off to school.  There's only one problem with this system. Techno Bob is an engineer, which means he was born without the gene for fashion. I'm never sure what youngest daughter will be wearing when her father gets her ready. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I picked her up the other day and saw this ensemble. And her hair hadn't been touched with a brush either.
Yeah, this is pretty much why children need mothers.  After our first child was about two years old, I took my husband aside and lovingly told him, "If I should die, I want you to remarry. And let her dress the children." This advice still stands.

Next blog: How the children have entertained themselves.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Clean Fiction give-away

Inspired Kathy emailed and reminded me that I had signed up to be part of her clean fiction give-away. Kathy was obviously inspired to remind me, since I forgot. So hey, I'm doing one more give-away.

First of all, I want to say I love clean fiction.  I listen to a lot of audio books and I can't tell you how many times I've had to run to the CD player because a book I thought would be clean is suddenly blaring a steamy love scene or swearing up a blue streak. My elementary school daughter is very serious about reporting all such infractions to me, should I miss them.

**True story** I have a weakness for catchy pop songs and tried to convince my youngest daughter that the All American Rejects song I was listening to actually said, "Hope it gives you help." I would sing these lyrics loudly whenever the song came on.

Middle daughter always shook her head at me with clear disgust when I did this. "No, Mom," she said. "That is just wrong."

Finally, I had to delete the song from my ipod.

Anyway, I am back on the straight and narrow now and you can see why none of my books have swearing in them. 

I just did a giveaway where I gave away about every single title I've written . . . so it's hard to chose one to give away. So here's the deal: should you win this lovely give-away you can have your choice of: 

Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery. But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly fi nds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right? Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time. 

Her whole life, Alexia Garcia has been told that she looks just like pop star Kari Kingsley, and one day when Alexia?s photo filters through the Internet, she?s offered a job to be Kari?s double. This would seem like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Alexia?s mother has always warned her against celebrities.
Rebelliously, Alexia flies off to L.A. and gets immersed in a celebrity life. Not only does she have to get used to getting anything she wants, she romances the hottest lead singer on the charts, and finds out that her own father is a singing legend. Through it all, Alexia must stay true to herself, which is hard to do when you are pretending to be somebody else!

Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience! 

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy. 

Leave a comment telling me your favorite song that you're embarrassed you like . . .

Being a follower gets you an extra chance.

I'm also doing the give-away on my CJ Hill site:

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Erasing Time book launch pictures

Erasing Time is set 400 years in the future, when as you know the world will be populated by dystopian governments that are trying to kill you. (Not all that different from today, really.) In my futuristic society, people dye their hair, skin, and wear outrageous outfits.  Sort of like this:

See, Lady Gaga isn't odd, she's just 400 years ahead of her time.  Anyway since Echo, one of my main characters in the book, has blue hair, I decided to dye my hair blue as a visual effect. I was a little nervous about doing this because it is one thing to do something flashy like that when you are a young, cute bee-bopper and quite another to do it when you're a middle-aged woman. Middle-aged women who do flashy, hip things tend to look like they are in old-age denial. But hey, how many times do I have a legitimate reason for dying my hair blue? So I took the plunge and sprayed on bright blue hair color:

You can't really tell in this picture how blue my hair is so I added the bottom one--as you can see it really was noticeably blue.

The presentation went well and everyone who came was awesome! But here is the thing--I sort of forgot my hair was blue. I mean, I wasn't looking at myself. And I also forgot to mention during my presentation that one of the book's characters had blue hair. Yep.

No one asked about it during the question and answer session either.  They must have all thought I was just one of those artistic types . . . the kind that is in old-age denial.

Here I am showing off my glitter tattoo. It's sort of a Rosie the Riveter moment.

Anyway, so besides the don't ask, don't tell blue hair moment, it was great! I was glad to see old friends and new faces.  And then I went home and realized that it was late, we were out of milk, and I was the only one of driving age awake. The kids need milk for their breakfast cereal and they start leaving the house at 5:30 am.

So I had to go to the grocery store with blue hair and a glittery tattoo. And the cashier and bagger did ask about both. Sigh. Yeah, I am so cool.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Erasing Time book launch and Book Trailer

Hey Reading Aficionados,
My new release, Erasing Time comes out August 28th!

 You can buy it any of your finer bookstores. (If your local one doesn't carry it, tell them they won't qualify as a finer bookstore until they order it, which they should do immediately.) If you're in the Phoenix area, I would love to see you at the book launch on:

Tues, Aug 28th, 7:00 PM at Changing Hands Bookstore

I'll talk about vital and important topics such as:

The future (Will the government want to kill you?  Ha! Do you really doubt it?)
Secret symbols in store logos: (Seriously, they're in a bunch. I'll show you some.)
And Rank (You can be one of the cool, early adopters.)

Also get a glitter tattoo so you can fit in with the High Rankers of 2447.

Time travel is optional.

Here's the book trailer:

Dramatic twists and turns to the very end ensure readers’ attention and the possibility of an equally thrilling sequel--Kirkus

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Erasing Time countdown/ My Double Life Giveaway

Welcome to another day of my book a day giveaway. It's only six more short days until Erasing Time comes out. You can buy a copy at the book launch on Aug 28th, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. I'll be there, and probably be coherent at the time--but that sort of depends on how my Echo in Time revisions are going.

Today I'll be giving away a copy of an awesome book--My Double Life. Yep we are back to the book that started off the giveaway (sort of--it was part of a blog hop) which means that unless I've forgotten one of my titles that I meant to giveaway and didn't (entirely possible--I have had that whole lack of sleep thing going for me) Then the book I will be putting on the lineup tomorrow night will be Erasing Time--and I'll be showing you the very cool trailer I had made for it. (There is fire. Things poof!)

Until then, you'll have to satisfy yourself with living the secret life of a rock star and having a famous rock star boyfriend.  You know, the rough life.

Leave me a comment about the moments in your life that you wouldn't want the paparazzi to show up. Let me know if you're a follower, as that will earn you an extra chance.  Blogging or tweeting about the giveaway will earn you another chance.  I'll ship to the US or Canada, other winners will get an ebook.

You're allowed to comment on both blogs--and you might as well, as it doubles your chances.
Now I've got to go to sleep before I start typing gibberish . . .

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Erasing Time countdown Revenge giveaway

Welcome to another day of my book a day giveaway. It's only ten more days until Erasing Time comes out. You can buy a copy at the book launch on Aug 28th, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. And yes, I have already started having anxiety dreams about not being prepared for this event. In the last one, I couldn't make it to the store in time and knew I would miss the whole event.

One more perk of being an author--stressful dreams.  (Still waiting for a hot vampire to show up and inspire me.)

Today I'll be giving away a copy of Revenge of the Cheerleaders.  Okay, I admit this isn't one of my better covers. For some reason the characters are oddly yellow.  But it's still an awesome book, and you have my full permission to glue a different picture on the cover.

 I don't want to make you leave a comment telling me about a revenge episode, as really, I hope you haven't had any . . . so just leave me a comment about who you would shake a pompom at, should you ever need commit such an act. Let me know if you're a follower, as that will earn you an extra chance. Tweeting about the giveaway and mentioning that you love me even more than One Direction will earn you another chance. (Okay, you don't actually have to do that--but I would appreciate you telling other people about the giveaway.) And yeah, if you tweet/blog you'd better put in the link for that. Twitter and Google search are supposed to let me know when my name pops up in the internet, but it only works about a third of the time and I'm too untechnical to figure out how to fix that problem.  I'll ship to the US or Canada, other winners will get an ebook.

You're allowed to comment on both blogs--and you might as well, as it doubles your chances. (I'll throw the Goodread comments into the mix too.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Unfair Godmother giveaway along with Assignment to Earth

The countdown to Erasing Time continues!  Just . . .um . . .what the heck is today--just 11 more days until the book release.  (Hey, I'm in a revisions marathon right now.) Come to Changing Hands on Aug 28th at 7:00 pm to hear me talk about the world in the future and secret signs and cool stuff like that.

Oh, and a note to paperback winners: Your book will probably come to you in a recycled bubble wrap mailer. I'm recycling them because I'm being green, not cheap. Well, okay, actually I'm being cheap too, but think of it as being awesomely green. Instead of the landfill getting my old poofy envelopes--you get them.

Today for the giveaway, I am giving away two--yes two-- great books.  My long-time writing friend Anne Marie Jenner emailed me and volunteered to give away a copy of her Indie book Assignment to Earth for the blog. (I don't think Anne will mind me mentioning that this book started out as fan fiction for Battlestar Gallactica. Anne, like me, has an incurable crush on the original Apollo. Mmmm. Richard Hatch.

Now I'm in my happy place . . .) Anyway, so today's lucky winner will get both that and a copy of My Unfair Godmother

Here's the fine print: Leaving a comment about something in life that's unfair will get you one entry, following the blog will get you another. Tweeting about the giveaway will give you one more. Here's book blurbs:

Assignment Earth

When Captain Skylar gets an assignment to locate a missing scout on the planet Earth, he doesn't realize his mission will be so complicated. His own ship damaged, finding Rantek is his only way home. 

A chance encounter with Lt. Jenna, a stranded Cavalier, leads him to a Klodfon base buried in the sands of the Nevada desert. 

Now he has to rescue Rantek and Jenna, escape the base, and warn the Fellowship of the Klodfon presence on Earth...and time is running out, if he doesn't want to end up stranded himself!

My Unfair Godmother

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't exactly 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.