Monday, September 09, 2013

Which cover do you like best?

If you haven't already seen my new blog address, head on over to and tell me which cover you like best!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Top Ten Tips for Writers

So I've got a new website that has my blog linked to it. Eventually I'll figure how to link this address to it too. Until then, please go go my new link at:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And the winners are

Before I list those picked by, I wanted to let you know that I will be doing one of my massive, give away every book I’ve every written give-aways at the end of September (or beginning of October depending on how organized I am) as we count down to the Slayers: Friends and Traitors release.
Winners, send me your physical address (at jrallisonfans at and which book you’d like. Your choices are: Slayers, Erasing Time; My Fair Godmother; My Double Life; How To Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend; Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws; or Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To Do List.
All great books, by the way.
Jessie Clark, Alyssa, Rachel W, Kimberly K, Mattie, Cathy

Friday, August 09, 2013

Another book giveaway (What I did this summer)

While I was up in SLC vacationing this summer I stopped by Clark Planetarium and saw their new movie Dragons: Real Myths and Unreal Creatures. It’s an educational film, like all of the films at the planetarium, but the producer framed the information in a story to make it more interesting. (If you live in Utah, go see it!)

The premise  is that a teenage girl--who has always had nightmares about dragons to the point that it’s an obsession with her--goes to see a mysterious Dr. Alistair Conis about it. She hopes he can help her. They talk about the similarities found in dragon lore and wonder why so many different cultures all have dragon legends.

At one point in the movie, we even see an egg with an embryonic dragon inside which is reminiscent of the original Slayers cover.

In Slayers, Tori is a teenage girl who has always had nightmares about dragons to the point that it’s an obsession with her. She goes to Dragon Camp which is run by a mysterious Dr. Alistair Bartholomew. (Both of which, by the way, have unkempt gray hair.)  She hopes he can help her. They talk about the similarities found in dragon lore and wonder why so many different cultures all have dragon legends.

I figured the similarities the movie had to my book was either one of those wild coincidences or the writer, Marc  Fafard was a fan. I found him on facebook, wrote to him and told him that I enjoyed his movie and said that I had a series out with a similar premise. I offered him a signed copy.
So it turns out he’s a really nice guy. And the similarities were just one of those weird coincidences that sometimes happen in the business. (Great minds think alike, and all of that.) We may do some cross promotion in the future. Here's the trailer for the movie. Really, it could almost double as a book trailer for Slayers--and has way cooler graphics than any book trailer I'll ever be able to do. You can watch it here:

 In the spirit of cross promotion I'm giving away five copies of Slayers this week (If you already have Slayers, I'll substitute one of the titles that I currently have a lot of in my closet: Erasing Time; My Fair Godmother; How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend; My Double Life; Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List, or Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws)

I'll give one chance if you like the Dragons film facebook page, a chance if you follow Dragons on Twitter, a chance if you follow CJ Hill on Twitter, and a chance if you like CJ Hill's facebook fan page.  The links are bellow. Let me know what you've done in the comments section.  Good luck!

DragonsTheFilm on facebook

Dragons on twitter

CJ Hill fan page

CJ Hill twitter

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Slayers 2 giveaway and more . . .

My publisher is giving away 20 ARCs of Slayers: Friends and Traitors on Goodreads this week. Awesome, huh?  You can enter by following this link:

Also, I wanted to let you know that in a few more days, I'll be running another book give-away myself, so check back on the blog around Friday.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who's on the A-list this year

It’s that time of year (at least in Arizona) when kids go back to school and parents are inundated with school forms to fill out. I’ve lived in the same house in the same school district for fourteen years. I have five children, which means I’ve had to fill out roughly five billion forms. You would think the school would use a computer printout that I could just initial, but no. That would be modern. And convenient.
At least now my kids are old enough that I can make them fill out some of the forms. My teen daughter was filling out forms and asked me who to put on the list of approved people who could pick her up from the school.
“George Clooney,” I told her. “But only if he agrees to come in the house and talk to me when he’s dropping you off."
“I would go with George Clooney,” she said.
(By George, we would both get in a car with this man.)

In that spirit, I decided to do an entire blog on who is allowed to pick up my daughter from school.
On the allowed list:
Taylor Swift. She would probably give my daughter good dating advice. If you know a guy is trouble when he walks in, stay far away from him.
On the disallowed list:
All other rock stars. Most of them seem to have death wishes and want to party like it's the last night of their life. I don’t want them driving my daughter anywhere.
Princess Kate because we’d love to see the royal baby.
Not allowed:
Prince Harry. He says he’s going to teach his nephew how to have fun. Since Harry’s last batch of fun produced pictures of him wearing nothing but freckles, I certainly hope Will and Kate put the kibosh on that idea.
Luke Skywalker. I chose him because I can’t think of any other celebrities I would allow in a car with my daughter so I’m resorting to fictional characters. Plus Luke has the force, and that’s really cool.
Not allowed:
Any congressmen, ex-congressmen, mayors, or mayoral candidates. Especially Anthony Weiner. What is it with these people and why can’t they keep their pants on?

Anyway, that is my list of people who are allowed and not allowed to stroll into the school office and pick up my daughter. Feel free to print it out and send it to your school as well.
Happy forming!

Okay, I would allow Johnny Dep to pick my daughter up from school too, because he is still that cool despite the fact that I can't find anyone who actually liked the Lone Ranger.
(We forgive you, Johnny)

***Goodreads is giving away ten copies of Slayers with the new, cooler cover. You can enter here: ***

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hang out with me, Aprilynne Pike, and Suzanne Young on Monday

Yes that's right, AZ peeps. You have the chance to not only see me--and you never know what color my hair is going to be, so that's always exciting--but also local cool author Suzanne Young and NY Times Best seller Aprilynne Pike.

Aprilynne is launching her new novel Earthbound. Plus for all of you Slayer's buffs she has the same name as Tori's sister. (Coincidence or is Aprilynne harboring a family of superheroes?)  And for all of you Erasing Time buff's she's the astute author who blurbed the back cover. If you've ever had questions about what she meant when she said I deftly explore themes of loyalty, this is your chance to ask her about it.

I would love to see you there!

Here's more info:

Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283

In Pike's Earthbound, Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she sees strange visions, she discovers she's an Earthbound — someone with the ability to create matter out of nothing — and that she alone holds the key to stopping an evil society that manipulates global events for its own shadowy purposes.

In Young's The Program, teen suicide is a worldwide epidemic. The only known cure is "The Program," a treatment in which painful memories are erased, a fate worse than death to seventeen-year-old Sloane who knows that it will steal memories of her dead brother and boyfriend.

In Hill's Erasing Time, eighteen-year-old twins Taylor and Sheridan are pulled into the future and must find a way to stop the evil government from using the time machine again.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS APRILYNNE PIKE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wings series. She has been spinning stories since she was a child with a hyperactive imagination. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found out running; she also enjoys singing, acting, and (of course!) reading books about magic and kissing. Aprilynne lives in Arizona with her husband and four kids.
SUZANNE YOUNG currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she drafts novels on restaurant napkins while eating chimichangas. After earning her degree in creative writing, Suzanne spent several years teaching middle school language arts. She is also the author of A Need So Beautiful.
C.J. HILL is a pen name for Janette Rallison, who is best known for writing romantic comedies (Erasing Time is her nineteenth published book). She lives in Arizona with her five children, but is still in desert denial and hopes that one day her garden will grow silver bells and cockle shells or maybe just tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Random chose . . .

Mom (This is not my mom, by the way. My mom still hasn't figured out how to write Amazon reviews. Sigh.)
Tiana Smith

Let me know your address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com and then tell me your choice of:

Slayers; Erasing Time; My Fair Godmother; How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend; My Double Life; Just One Wish; It's a Mall World After All; Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws; or Revenge of the Cheerleaders; or ebooks of Masquerade; or Blue Eyes and Other Teenage Hazards

Happy reading!

And for every one else. Don't worry, there will be an ARC giveaway for Slayers: Friends and Traitors in a month and a massive giveaway the end of September through the release day of Slayers: Friends and Traitors.  So stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book give-away

I put up the ebook edition of My Double Life a couple of months ago.  The awesome part--I included two bonus scenes that I couldn't put in the print book. The problem with writing in first person is you can only write the scenes that your main character is in. I wanted to write the scene where Alexia's parents met after their long separation and the scene where Alexia's father told Grant who she was, but Alexia was clearly not there in either of those scenes. Thank goodness for the magic of ebooks. Now both of those scenes are in the back of the ebook.
However, since the book is technically a different book than the print My Double Life, it's low on reader reviews. I know a lot of you have read the book (and if not, hey, it's only 2.99) so I'm doing a giveaway based on reviews. At the end of the week I'll count up the new reviews for My Double Life ebook edition, and I'll give away a book to one of every five reviewers. (Your choice of: Slayers; Erasing Time; My Fair Godmother; How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend; My Double Life; Just One Wish; It's a Mall World After All; Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws; or Revenge of the Cheerleaders; or ebooks of Masquerade; or Blue Eyes and Other Teenage Hazards)  

As usual, I'll let choose the winners. If your name doesn't show up in your review, then leave me a comment telling me which review you gave. They don't have to even be good reviews. If you have constructive criticism, I'm happy to hear that too. Here's the link:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Kids and a restaurant: never a good combination

We don't go to sit down restaurants very often. Last week, I was reminded why.

We took our four at-home-kids and temp kid, French foreign exchange student, out to a restaurant called The Crazy Cow. I will have to do a blog sometime about bad restaurant names, and The Crazy Cow will definitely be on that list. When my husband suggested the place, I said, "Should we really eat somewhere that basically has mad cow disease in the title?"

The restaurant turned out to have great food, so you can't always judge a restaurant by it's name (just like that whole judging a book by it's cover thing).

The only table that was big enough for all of us was off in a dining room without other patrons. This turned out to be a good thing. After my kids ordered, they were immediately bored. Oldest son picked up a half and half creamer, ripped it open, downed it, then reached for another. I calmly explained that the condiments on the table weren't appetizers and told him to stop.

Eldest son then picked up another creamer and bet everyone at the table he could turn it into butter. I calmly explained that shaking only worked on cream, not creamer. No matter, he and youngest daughter both sat there shaking creamers.

Younger son got up from the table and went poking around the waitress station to see if they had any crackers there.

I told him that the waitress station wasn't a salad bar, and he couldn't go poking around random places for food. Then I  pointed out that there was a camera in the dining room which the waitresses probably used to check on the diners. (I really hope it wasn't recording video that will subsequently show up on some reality show about bad patrons,)

Younger son, unrepentant, told me that if the waitress was watching, maybe she would hurry with our food. He took three jam packets and a torn piece of straw wrapper and tried to simulate a shell game.

My husband moved the condiments away from the children.

Oldest son then squished his straw wrapper into a small ball, then added drops of water to it. The thing grew and slithered like a miniature trash snake, amusing the children so much that they all repeated this feat with their straw wrappers.

I threatened the children with scenarios that involved my husband and I moving to another table and pretending we didn't know them. Most of the children were thrilled with this idea until I clarified that they would be paying for their own meals.

My sons then used their silverware, the salt and pepper shakers, and one of the shaken-but-not-turned-to-butter creamers to form their own version of table hockey.

The French foreign exchange student is probably quite impressed with American families. We are awesome examples of good manners.

At that point I made a pact with my husband that for the rest of the children's lives, should we need to buy food from a restaurant, it will have to be a drive through.

And yes, we did leave a big tip.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Enrique Awards. It's time to vote on the worst pickup lyrics

I enjoy a good love song with a catchy beat. Sadly, there are some performers who ruin their songs by giving them lyrics so horrible that I can't listen to the music without cringing.

For example, a few singers seem to completely miss the point of pickup lines. If you're trying to get a girl or guy to like you, then you shouldn't appear to be a stalker or, nearly as bad--a completely crass dolt.

Enrique Iglesia's song I Want to Love You Tonight is the prime example of the bad pickup song--because the real lyrics aren't, "I want to love you tonight." They're actually, "I want to (insert a term here that would get you slapped in any civilized country and beheaded in a few other ones) tonight."

In honor of Enrique's tastelessness I created the Enrique Iglesia's Memorial Worst Pickup Lyrics in a Song Award.

To see other year's awards go to:

Without further ado let's vote for this year's contenders. I must mention that this year many of the songs had a death-wish bent to them that added to their creepiness. Apparently the music industry needs some Prozac.

1) Die Young
by Ke$ha

I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums
Oh, what a shame that you came here with someone
So while you're here in my arms
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

We're gonna die young
We're gonna die young

Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young
Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young

If you want to pick someone up, perhaps you shouldn't immediately plunge into speculations about his untimely death—or speak of your own death as if it’s an exciting event. It makes people wonder exactly what sort of trouble you’re planning, and if any of it involves fleeing from the police. 

Maybe the reason she can hear his heart beating so hard is that he’s pondering his chances of escaping her clutches.

Bonus Die Young bad lyrics: This song also includes possibly the tackiest line ever to be sung over the airwaves:
It's pretty obvious that you've got a crush (you know)
That magic in your pants, it's making me blush (for sure)
Magic in your pants? *Cringes* Please do us all a favor and pay Taylor Swift to write your next lyrics.

2) DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again
by Usher

  Keep downing drinks like there's no tomorrow there's just right now, now, now, now, now,
Gonna set the roof on fire
Gonna burn this mother* down, down, down, down, down, down
 . . . Swear I seen you before
I think I remember those eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes
'Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again
Yeah, baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again

Um, it might not be the DJ that's got you falling in love--it's probably all the Coors Light. Just saying.
The song goes on to say: So dance, dance like it's the last, last night of your life, life
When did dancing become the equivalent to uttering your last words?

3) Florida Georgia Line

These guys are adorable and I like their music, but I also wonder if they completely speak English.

Baby you a song. 
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise down a back road blowin' stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with you.

I heard these lyrics and thought two things: 1) You should meet Ke$sha. You're probably her kind of driver. And 2) I'm not a grammar Nazi or anything, but I feel an insistent need to take a red pen to your lyrics. I'll let the "Baby you a song" slide, but that missing "of" in that last sentence is just wrong.

 4) Locked Out of Heaven
by Bruno Mars

 Your (insert a word that implies procreation and would get my blog banned if I used it) takes me to paradise.
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Oh yeah yeah yeah Ooh! Oh yeah yeah Oh yeah yeah yeah Ooh!

You bring me to my knees
You make me testify
You can make a sinner change his ways
Open up your gates cause I can't wait to see the light

As a writer, I appreciate good metaphors and similes. Sadly this song's lyrics don't fall under that category. Let's ignore the fact that all of this is tacky. Let's also ignore the fact that throwing in a bunch of "Oh yeah yeah yeahs" does nothing to improve the song. The simile isn't clear. You feel like you've been locked out of heaven for too long? What exactly does that mean? She makes you feel like you're in Hades right now? She makes you feel like you want to die and end it all? Or are you saying, in an unclear manner, that now you're in heaven whereas before you weren't? 

At any rate, maybe Bruno should get used to being locked out of heaven since I doubt anyone beyond the Pearly Gates will appreciate these lyrics.

And that "Open up your gates" lyric, well, I'm rethinking the "magic in your pants" as being the tackiest line ever sung. 

So dear music aficionados, those are the contestants for the bad pickup lyrics this year. Vote for the one you think is most deserving, or nominate your own.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The winner is Becky @BecksterMay

Actually, Random first picked my daughter--which goes to show you that has a sense of humor. I sent her the manuscript months ago and she still hasn't read it.

 So Becky, send me your address and I'll pop your ARC in the mail. You can reach me at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Slayers: Friends and Traitors give-away

I just got an ARC for Slayers: Friends and Traitors. I am very excited about this fact, even if it does mean that I have to learn how to spell traitors. (I keep trying to spell it with an er instead of the or. What is up with that anyway? We've got dancer, fighter, officer, and three thousand other job descriptions that end in er, but traitor is spelled with an o. Whoever created English spelling should be smacked.)

Anyway, because I know so many of you are anxious to read the next Slayers installment, I'm doing a give-away.  I need to add a disclaimer though. An ARC (advance reading copy) isn't the finished book. It's made of the galleys which is the copy before the last changes. Usually there are a few mistakes and typos in the ARCs. In this ARC there are a lot. I have a character crimple to the ground. Instead of going somewhere, at one point someone is soing somewhere. And it looks like I pretty much sprinkled commas randomly through the manuscript. Stuff like that. So keep in mind that the final copy (knock on wood) will be much cleaner.

I'm doing things a bit different for this give-away. Usually I choose someone from the comments. I just started tweeting as CJ Hill though, and I need followers so my publisher doesn't think I'm friendless. So at the end of the week, I'm going to choose one of my CJ Hill followers and I'll send them the ARC.

To find me on twitter, look for authorCJHill

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The graduation blues

It's my least favorite time of year. That time when  retailers feel the need to herald the end of another school year with Congratulations Graduates of 2013 plates, cups, napkins, and balloons.

I've been a parent for the last 25 years. I don't remember what life was like before toys, piles of laundry, and homework were spread out over my house. My children are the best and most important thing to me. Next September my oldest son will leave home. In another year, my twins will graduate. The last thing I want is to be reminded of this fact every time I step into a store.

This is what grocery stores think I see when I walk down the bakery aisle:

This is what I actually see when I walk down the bakery aisle:

A special thanks to my son for drawing this cake. (And that's another thing--who is going to help me with computer stuff when they go? I soo need some chocolate . . . and maybe a therapist.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

These work for writers too

I was up all night working on the prequel novella for Slayers. The good news is that when it comes out, it will be free! The bad news is that I already killed off Nathan, Dr. B's brother, in the first book of Slayers and sadly there was not a good way to bring him back from the dead. Dang it.

So, as I stopped making any cognizant sense somewhere around 4:00 am, I thought I would share a picture from my son's comic blog. You can see other things he's drawn at

I'll be posting a real blog after I sleep.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Double Life E-book

Remember months ago when I said I would have the ebook for My Double Life up soon?

Soon is a relative term.

Anyway, here it is for 2.99 with the bonus scenes included:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The best group of losers

I've been at the LDStorymaker's conference this week. It's always super fun because I get to see so many writing friends and because people at Storymaker's actually think I'm cool. (My children refuse to believe this fact, but it's true.)
Here I am with Angela Morrison and international bestseller, Anne Perry. She was the keynote. Pretty much everything she said sounded amazing because she can quote Shakespeare, Dante, and speaks with a British accent. Memorizing large passages of classic literature is probably beyond my abilities, but I may start working on a British accent.

Every year at Storymakers, the Whitney Awards are given out. This year I was presenting the romance award with Sarah Eden. We were supposed to come up with a cute way to introduce the contestants. The problem with that was that Sarah and I spent two days joking around about all the bad and completely inappropriate ways we could present the award, so what we really did was come up with our introduction while we were getting dressed for the event. I'll put it in a future blog: Ways to tell you might be addicted to romance novels.

Every year, the funnest part of the Whitneys, (at least for me) is the after dinner drowning-your-sorrow-in-cheesecake because you didn't win pictures that Julie Wright, James Dashner, and I started years ago.

I didn't even get nominated for a Whitney this year. (The one book I had out in 2012 was disqualified because it was a rewrite of an earlier book.) So I figured that made me a double loser and I was completely qualified to crash the loser photos this year.

Here I am with the lovely Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson, and Krista Jensen.Julie does despondent so well.

And here's the bitter group photo with awesome writers: Kelly Oram,  Tanya Parker Mills, Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson, Krista Jensen, Theresa Sneed, Gregg Luke, Marsha Ward, and Annette Lyon.

Every time I look at Gregg I laugh. He's got the concept down.

Even though I love the loser photos, it wasn't my favorite moment this year. Julie Donaldson won the romance category for her book Edenbrooke (and best novel by a new author), which was especially  neat for me because she was one of the ladies in a week-long class I taught at BYU a few years ago. When she accepted her award she thanked me. I seriously nearly cried. I was so touched. It was way better than winning a Whitney.

Monday, May 06, 2013

research, sky-diving style

I hate getting details wrong in my books. This may not be entirely apparent since I have more than once gotten details wrong in my books, but I really do a ton of research. 

In Slayers: Friends and Traitors (due out in October) I have characters jump out of a plane, and I decided it would be a good idea if I went skydiving so I could write a more authentic scene. I didn’t think it would be too frightening since a large amount of people skydive every year. I figured, hey, people pay a lot of money to skydive so it’s probably even fun.

That was my first stupid assumption. People are idiots and you should never do something just because a lot of people pay large amounts of money to do it. Case in point: golf.

So I booked an appointment, went to the airport, and signed the twelve page waiver that detailed all the hideous ways I might die.  This was my favorite part:

Basically it says I may be struck by passing aircraft, hit by vehicles on the ground, or may run into trees, buildings, or poisonous snakes.

I still wasn’t all that nervous because I knew I was going to be strapped to an experienced instructor. He was not likely to skimp on parachute inspection or whatever, because he didn’t want to die any more than I did.

Then I met my instructor. He was a twenty-three year old guy who I suspect had no sense of his own mortality. I became a little nervous.

He took me to a small plane that sounded like a lawn mower and seemed to be held together with duct tape, super glue, and erector set pieces. I was a little more nervous, but I was still okay because I figured the pilot had been flying the plane for quite some time so he had a lot of experience doing important things, like not dying. 

We took off, gained altitude, and putted around in the sky for several minutes. I was now more nervous and cursing myself for ever switching from writing romantic comedies to action novels. Really, when you come right down to it, it would be fine to write a book about boring people who never do anything dangerous.

And then the plane door opened.

At that point a spike of terror hit me. I realized that people are born with several strong survival instincts and one of them screams: DO NOT JUMP OUT OF A PLANE! IT WILL KILL YOU!

I said many things at that point, all of which my twenty-three year old instructor ignored as he dragged me out of the plane.

And then we were falling through the sky.

Falling at around 130 miles an hour was like standing in a wind tunnel. All I heard was the wind screaming by. I couldn’t even tell I was falling because nothing around me was moving. Then the parachute came out and I glided through the air at a gentle 15 miles an hour. It did feel like flying then and was really fun—especially when we did spins. Spins are the best.

I landed and felt great.

This would normally be the end of the blog except for one thing.  Later that day I got a call from the skydiving company telling me that their computer crashed. (I guess this is better than hear that their plane crashed.) They had unfortunately lost all the pictures of me but they would let me skydive again for free if I wanted to reschedule.

Well, at that point I was still thinking about how fun the last part of skydiving had been and not the terror of the ominous open-plane-door-moment, so I not only rescheduled, I decided to take my teenage son with me. (Yep, these are all pictures from the second jump.)

This dear readers just proves that there is no cure for stupidity. Because there is only one thing more terrifying than being in a plane when the door opens and you know you’re going to plunge out of it. And that is: being in a plane when the door opens and you know your child is going to plunge out of it.

I do not recommend this as an after school activity.

When I went out of the plane the second time, I wasn’t looking for sensory details to use in my novel. I was searching the horizon to make sure my son’s parachute had opened.

It had.

And when you all read the skydiving scene in Slayers: Friends and Traitors I hope you appreciate my diligent research.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Cruising Life, part two

For those of you who have never been on a cruise, the experience is pretty much like being aboard a floating buffet. Seriously, the ship had 24 hour pizza and ice cream. Which means that at some point, you feel obligated to eat pizza at 2:00 in the morning. And at 2:00 in the afternoon.

One of the coolest sights we saw were dolphins that swam along side the ship. They were probably hoping for discarded fish sticks.
 For some reason that isn't clear to me, Carnival decorated their dining room so that it looked like Ursula from the Little Mermaid was attacking the ship. Nothing says, "Dig in and eat!" like big purple plastic tubes. And if that's not classy enough for you, they added orange spiderweb designs to the end of the tubes. Maybe if you're really drunk, this all makes sense.

 Here's a hugely gigantic Mexican flag that stands at one port.  If you ask me, it's too large. It almost seems like they're compensating for something else.
 The stewards always left little towel animals on our bed ever night.  Oh sure, they look cute and cuddly . . .

But while you sleep, it's a different story.

 There were all sorts of these signs on the ship. I'm assuming there were no words on them because the sign makers wanted to add to the general confusion the signs communicated. Here you can see two different signs, side by side. The first is clearly warning you that ninjas may drop from the ceiling and surround your family.
 The second is telling you to run like heck--which is the normal response if you are being attacked by ninjas.

And here you can see a cruise ship taking a wrong turn somewhere on the Mississippi River. By the way, it took us nine hours to get to the sea. This is probably why Huckleberry Fin was such a long book.
And lastly, here I am with a pirate. I think it is pretty clear--judging from the position of his gun--what happened to his leg. Which is why you should never drink and be a pirate at the same time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things that don't mix with chocolate

I just got home from a cruise, which means I have a mountain of laundry, a thousand unanswered emails, and no one to shape my hand towels into cute little animal figures.

I had one of those Janette Rallison moments on my cruise. Although technically speaking, it wasn't my fault.

On the first day, the cruise held a welcome barbecue out by the pool. (Loud music, people chatting and laughing.) After I ate dinner, I went back for a brownie and noticed a tub of brown liquid by the brownie plate. Okay, in retrospect the tub of brown liquid was also by the ketchup and mustard, but I was only paying attention to the brownies at that point.

I put a brownie on my plate, pointed to the tub of brown liquid and asked Martino, the guy standing behind said objects, "Is that hot fudge?"

It was, after all, the logical conclusion. Brownies + hot fudge = joy.

Martino nodded and said, "Yes."

I didn't take into account that it was noisy outside and English probably wasn't Martino's first language. I happily ladled a spoonful of brown liquid onto my brownie.

Again in retrospect, Martino's startled expression probably should have tipped me off. But no, I walked back to my chair and took a big bite of my brownie. Which was completely covered in barbecue sauce. Then I spit the bite back onto my plate and did a really elegant gagging-wiping-my-tongue-off thing as I tried to get rid of the taste of barbecue and brownie.

So it turns out you can't mix chocolate with anything and make it taste better.

Martino walked by me a few minutes later, keeping an eye on me like I was clearly crazy.

It was a totally unfair reaction, since he was the one who told me it was hot fudge in the first place. I dub it a Martino moment.

More on the cruise life next blog.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

As you may remember from your high school English class (you kept all of your notes on A Midsummer Night's Dream, didn’t you?) Shakespeare invented around 1700 words in his plays and poems.

Frankly, I think I should be allowed the same freedom, and I get all snitty when copyeditors point out details like “Apexed isn’t a verb.” (And right now Microsoft is insisting that 'snitty' isn’t a word either.)
Shakespeare never had to deal with such constraints.
Here are some words you probably didn't know he invented: eyeballs, puking, obscene, and skim milk.
Cool, huh?
Here are some words I wish he would have invented:
Another word for 'drop'. Oh sure, there’s plunge and plummet, but you can’t use them interchangeably. You can’t have a character plunge her car keys on the floor.  No one has ever said, “Hey, plummet the act. I know you’re lying.”  Nor has anyone’s mouth ever plunged open.
Another word for 'door.'  We use them all the time. Character’s are constantly coming in them, stalking out them, walking toward them, and slamming them.  It’s hard not to overuse the word. And don’t tell me I could use portal—no one actually thinks of a door as a portal unless they are in spaceship or a submarine.
And  Shakespeare should have invented multiple words for 'turn'. In your novel, things will turn colors, turn up, or turn from one thing into another. Your characters will take turns, make right turns, turn over, turn back, turn their attention to things, see how something turns out, and turn things down. They will also frequently turn to each other. You can replace a few of those turns with spin, but that only works if your characters are angry or ballerinas. If any word deserves a few synonyms, it’s turn.
On the other hand, there are also words I could happily axe from the English language to make my life easier.  Ask me how many times I mistyped the word rifle in Slayers: Friends and Traitors and spelled it riffle.  The problem is that riffle is a real word. Spell check doesn’t catch it.   It means: to form, flow over, or move in riffles.
How many times have we all written about our riffling habits?
Maybe someone should add a function to the computer so that anytime someone grabs a riffle, a little warning pops up that says, “You amuse our computer brain, silly mortal.  And by the way, you have lightening cuting through the sky while your character is waking to the car.
Then again, sometimes I could use a good lightening bolt.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Why I don't swear in my books

I don't swear in real life. Seriously.

Well, okay, there was this one time when my 18-month-old daughter was seriously hurt, and we had to take her to the ER and I was frantic. We had to get our oldest daughter from a party and figure out where to send her and her four year old brother (You don't want that many children in the ER). I was going to go to the ER and my husband was going to arrange for the other kids, and then we couldn't find the car keys, (Little children carry them off) and then one car's battery was dead. And right when we finally had overcome all of those things and were ready to go, my husband said, "Just a minute, I need to go to the bathroom first."

I snapped. For a reason that is still not clear to me, a string of swearwords issued forth from my mouth. I didn't even know they were there. They all just came out in between the words: "They have bathrooms at the ER!!! Now get in the car!!!"

Not too long ago I said something to my now teenage son about how I never swear, and he said, "You did once. You swore that time you went to the Emergency Room."

I was surprised he remembered that all these years later.

That's probably how swear words should be. If you use them, they're so rare people will remember them decades later.

I've heard people use the F-bomb so many times in a sentence, it was a noun, adjective, and verb. I always wonder what those people do when they're really mad. I mean, what is left to say? "I double-dog F-bomb you!" or "F-bomb times infinity!"

I've seen the same problem in books. If you have a character swear all the time, it loses potency, and at least to me, comes off crass.

My problem as an author is that I sometimes have characters who would swear in given situations. I still don't include swearwords. (I have used the word h word--don't want to write it here, lest my blog be blocked by some filters--but only to describe the actual place, which I don't consider swearing. Although some younger kids don't seem to realize this difference. I was a Sunday School teacher for 8-year-olds once and had to refer to it as that-place-the-devil-lives because otherwise they gasped every time I said the word. And yes, I did try to explain the difference between swearing and naming a location, but they never seemed to grasp this finer point.)

Anyway, I can't have my characters swear for one simple reason. At my house I long ago instituted the rule that anyone who swears will have to pay five dollars.

I have over a million books in print. I am not that wealthy. I will have to continue to be swear-free.