Friday, May 29, 2009

The One Man in the World who Looks Good in Hot Pink

How you can tell when people have too much time on their hands:
When we were at King's English the other night, my friend Emily Wing Smith received one of the funniest parking complaints I've ever seen, and she tells the story
here. Check it out if you want a laugh. (And if you happen to be the person who wrote it, my apologies.)

Who says men can't look good in hot pink?
Well, I do for one. In fact, the "No Hot Pink on Sam" rule was written into our marriage contract. So Rafa's latest ensemble in the French Open proves he is not just an ordinary man.

Also, I just finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.


It's about a father and a son who are stranded in the burned out shell of what was once Earth, struggling to survive. (After an un-named apocalyptic event.) It was gripping, disturbing and tender, so, yeah, I loved it.

My biggest problem with the book was that the event was never explained, and my obsessive little brain couldn't handle it. My mind would start wandering, trying to account for why everything in their world is on fire, and three pages would go by.

Therein lies the rub. Cormac McCarthy uses words I've never heard of, and he uses them a lot. So a mere glance of the sentences would not dump any actual information in my brain. McCarthy has an insane mastery of the English language.

For instance:
“He rose and stood tottering in that cold autistic dark with his arms outheld for balance while the vestibular calculations in his skull cranked out their reckonings.”

I had to read the darn sentence like three times before I finally figured out what the heck he was talking about. Apparently only brilliant people get stranded in the post-apocalyptic world.

Maybe I'm just jealous, because I would have written the above sentence like this:
“He stood up and looked around.”

And if my book had young gay lovers in it, I would have said "young gay lovers". I wouldn't have thought there was a specific word for it. Catamites. There's your vocabulary word for the day. Try using it in a sentence.

That's why Cormac McCarthy has Nobel prizes and stuff. He knows those words exist. And he would never use the word "stuff".

The Road is going to be a movie in October. Here's the trailer.

What are y'all doing this weekend?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bono and Me: It's Like We Share one Brain Between us... We could talk, or not talk, all day.

Howdy Y'all.

First off, want a free book? My agent sister Bree is eight months away from her debut book's publication. (The Dark Divine. Awesome YA read.) To celebrate, she is giving away a bunch of books every month until her debut book hits stands. So check out her blog for details. Tell her I sent you, and you'll receive five dollars off. (Just kidding. Her blog is free.)

It feels like it's been forever and I have to admit I missed blogging on Monday.

Missed it so much that I sat at my computer on Tuesday and wrote about 83 blogs, but I couldn't post them because it wasn't Wednesday, and I blog on Wednesdays. Darn those "Governing Laws of the Blogosphere".

Instead, I had to print them out and burn them in my fireplace, all the while singing Amazing Grace. (In accordance with bylaw 10.2. I'm not actually sure where I got these rules in the first place. But who am I to argue?)

How was your holiday?
I spent my weekend doing two very important thingies.

Thingie 1. Catching up on my trashy mags. And that means, it's Trashy Mag time!

I started with Us Weekly, and made some monumental discoveries. For instance, did you know Bono and I are exactly the same? Exactly the same.

US has this "hard news" section called: Stars- They're Just Like US!
It turns out, after several weeks of investigative journalism, Us Weekly uncovered the truth about Bono: He towels off his children. WTH? He is just like me! Why are Bono and I not BFF's already? He really is the rock star next door.

Shortly after the article hit stands, Bono discovered that I, too, towel off my children. His people contacted my people to set a lunch date, because people with such rare similarities simply must become lifelong friends.

Next, I turned to OK! magazine; also known as that mag across the pond. The cover had a giant picture of Edward, flanked by two extras, a couple of other nobodies, and a bunch of random words, none of which made sense.
Despite the promises, the article on Edward revealed no love, lust or lies. Disappointing. Plus, they kept calling him "Rob".

Also, Neighbor "K" brought me over a couple of magazines featuring Rafael Nadal. I have no idea why he thought I would find them interesting, except maybe he read between the lines of this post, this post, this post and this post. Wow. That is just plain sad. So let's add to the list of Rafa posts until it shifts from sad to pathetic. (Don't you dare say "too late".)
2. The second thing I did all weekend, I hesitate to share with y'all. Now, you probably have noticed I don't mind looking like a total dork on my blog. In fact, it's sort of my raison d'etre. (Reason for blogging.) But this particular weekend project highlights two of my lamer qualities:

a. The ability to waste astronomical time doing something totally useless.
b. The ability to find something extraordinarily funny, yet at the same time knowing no one else will.

The mission? Create a trailer for my book Echo... using cartoon Lego characters... with robotic voices.

I got the idea from agent Kristin Nelson's blog, but I can't provide the link because there is a questionable word in it, and I cater to the younger crowd as well as the older crowd.

So, here is the rotten fruit of my colossal waste of labor.. Just so you know, my main character is a 17-year old girl named Lane, who suffers from paranoid delusions. (I mean, of course she does. She's in my book, so she'd have to be somewhat messed up in the head.)

That's not to say she chose to be in my book. She is fictional. Oh crap. It's past midnight. I'm not making sense anymore, am I? I can't believe I felt the need to clarify that the main character of my novel is fictional.

And now, our Feature Presentation...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thing About Me #15: Let me know if we're in a fight...

The other day, my brother-in-law picked me up a Star Trek glass from Burger King. I don't really think he considered the ramifications of such an action.

At Sunday dinner, sis-in-law E started shouting the names of the Star Trek shows, and all their incarnations, to prove she deserved the glass.

Other sis-in-law E started planning trips to Burger Kings across the valley, saying I didn't deserve the glass, and to accept such a gift would be admitting I was a Trekkie.

I finally concluded we were all losers.


Wait, are we on 13 or 14?

Okay, thing about me number 15, continuing the longest 25 thingies about me tag.

15. I don't know if there's a word for it. What do you call someone who sees a toddler in the middle of the street, no adult around, and thinks everything's probably fine with that picture. Because if there was a problem, someone somewhere would surely grab the toddler out of harm's way. I'm hungry. What's for lunch? Why does my ear itch?

That's the affliction I have.

So the other day I was helping my sister move. Just me and her. We were in the middle of packing the moving truck when she had to leave suddenly to go to her new house and pay the blind guy. (Guy who installs blinds. Not sight-challenged guy.)

My sister leaves, and I'm in the front yard alone.

Her next door neighbor comes over, says hi to me, how's it goin', that sort of stuff.

Then she goes inside the house to find my sister.

And I just watch her go inside. She's calling to my sister. Wandering about, looking for her.

And I go back to packing.

After a while, the neighbor comes out. She says, "Do you know where Erin is?"

me: "Um, yeah. She's not here. She left a little while ago."

She looks at me for a moment. It finally hits me.

me: "Which, I guess I should have mentioned before you went wandering through the house, calling for her."

I have a friend -- Friend A , a.k.a. Aunt S -- who laughs about this sort of attribute of mine. She discovered it when she said to me one day, "I'm so glad we were able to get over that whole Eden fiasco."

me: "Um, what Eden fiasco?"

A: "You know, when we had that disastrous weekend with our two families in Eden, and you left in a huff because you were all mad about something?"

me: "I remember the weekend, but I had fun."

A: "No, you didn't. I only saw the exhaust pipe as you and Sam peeled out of the parking lot."

me: "That's not how I remember it..."

A: "Then how do you account for the fact that we didn't speak to each other for over four months?"

me (shocked): "We didn't speak for four months?"

A: "Even my husband [who is arguably the nicest man on the face of the planet] said you must have hated me."

me: "Wow. I'm sorry."

A: "Why are you sorry? You didn't even know we were in a fight."

me: "Um, so are we done fighting now?"

A: "Yes."

me: "Good. I'm glad we resolved the issue."

I wish this was just an isolated incident, but it's not. Friend R says I'm like a man in this respect. I didn't really take it as a compliment.

So, what is the word for it? Inattentive? Clueless? Male?

Please, if any of you reading this are in a fight with me, leave a comment. Let me know the situation, and if I need to apologize.

And if we are not on speaking terms, then the comments section is the perfect place to start the healing process. But first, let me know we are not speaking.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend. Are you going anywhere? I'm helping my sister lay sod and then I may see this cool new movie. See y'all Wednesday.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sam's a Greater Man Than I... and He's Conspiring Against Me.

How about some very important status updates?

Solitaire games played: 520
Win percentage: 15.3%


There seem to be two camps of people:
1. Those who think I should have noticed the $282 total charge for one book.
2. Those who think Sam shouldn't have left the stupid doorknobs in his virtual basket in the first place.

So, which camp are you? You can tell me. I won't hold it against you. It's not like I know where you live. Or do I?

Sam is much more magnanimous than I am. What he calls my "adventurous spirit", I refer to as "attention deficit disorder."

He'll often say to me, "Honey, if I die first, I just want you to be happy. If you find someone who makes you happy, get married."

me: "Thank you. And if I die first..."

sam: "Yes?"

me: "I want you to follow soon after."

sam: "But what about the kids?"

me: "If they're over 18, with good prospects, then follow me."

sam: "What if they're still little?"

me: "Stay and raise them until they are viable. Then hit the gas pedal and head for a cliff."

sam: "Wouldn't you want them to have a mom?"

me: "Nope. They've got my mom, your mom, and my sister. That's enough mom for anyone. And trust me, if you feel tempted to find someone else, I shall haunt her all of her living days."

sam: "You don't believe in ghosts."

me: "I'll find a way."

So, yeah, there is a total double standard. And you ladies who were waiting for your chance with Sam? Consider this a threat.


Speaking of double standards, my lovuhh Rafa will be playing in the French Open starting next week. (It's a double standard because Sam would never be allowed to call someone his "lovuhh". Except Rebecca DeMornay. He's always had a thing for her, and I don't really mind because she's not so much this...

she's more this...

And that's not to say she's not beautiful or anything, because I'd give up a lot to look as good as she does, but still... Sam is welcome to date her. Magnanimous, right?)
Anyway, back to Rafa. The French Open is played on clay courts, and Rafa was born on a clay court. (I think that's actually true.) So tune in when you get a chance.


Holy Brain-blower Batman. Does anyone else feel like the creators of Lost have crossed the streams, causing total protonic reversal? (Can anyone name the movie?)
I won't ruin anything for those of you who haven't seen the finale, but I will say I bet you a meeelion dollars the writers are just as confused as we are. Only they've taken it so far, there's no way we can prove it.

Oh, and detonating a hydrogen bomb should never be a "go-to" plan of action. Just as a general rule.

So, the key to quitting caffeine is not blogging about it. I haven't quit cold turkey, but I've significantly reduced my caffeine footprint.

The problem is, last night when I had my first Diet Coke in a long time, I went crazy. Like, in the literal sense. I started accusing Sam of "conspiring" against me. Who says stuff like that?

But I was so enthralled with the word "conspiring", I couldn't stop myself. Normally, I would never act like that, so I can only assume it has something to do with caffeine. Perhaps I shouldn't have quit?

Sam is one confused unhip white dude today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Surprise Guest Blog: Living with a Writer

Good Monday morning. Hope y'all had a great weekend. Today, I am honored with a special guest star. Okay, it's just hubby Sam. I stole the idea from my agent sister Bree.

I told Sam he could write whatever he wanted about living with a deranged writer, and I would publish it without reading it first. (Which, ironically, is what I'm hoping an editor does with my book. Karma baby.)

This is very scary for me.

So, whatever he writes, here are my five responses I would like you to keep in mind.

1. It's not my fault.

2. He knew what he was getting into when we got married.
3. I am right 95% of the time.
4. What does he expect when I hardly ever sleep?
5. I never said I could cook.

Plug them in as needed. Okay, here we go.

From Sam: Living with Brodi is like living with sunlight reflecting off a pool of water. You can cut the calm with a knife...

Okay, okay. That was really me (Brodi).

Here's Sam's real stuff.

Today is your lucky day. You get to hear from the beautiful and talented husband of Brodi...wait, you get to hear from the husband of the beautiful and talented Brodi.

Brodi asked if I ever wanted to write on her blog. I happily agreed. I know that a lot of people are reading her blog and I wanted to give you a little background on the person behind the pen, err, typewriter, err, computer.

For those that know Brodi really well, you know she is not afraid to try something new and different. Pakistan? Sure, pack the bags. Since we have been married, she has done the following for work:
  • Anchor/Reporter/Weather Bunny for the NBC affiliate up in Idaho Falls-Jackson Hole-Pocatello: I was her cameraman. I was also known as Mr. or Brother Ashton my entire time up in Idaho.
  • Morning Producer for ABC Chanel 4 in Salt Lake City--at the time, the youngest producer in SLC by about10 years. She would leave for work at 11pm and get home at 9am. I would then leave around 9am to go to work. I took a full length pic of me, blew it up and placed it in our kitchen so she would remember what I looked like. She had to leave the job when she ended up getting pneumonia for like 2 months.
  • PR and Marketing for IHC: Because she worked, she inadvertently got a co-worker fired. Seriously.
  • She got accepted into Medical School...and turned it down: How many people can say that they turned down medical school? She decided to go to London with me and get a masters degree.
  • Masters Degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics
  • Writer: She had always thought about doing this but finally decided to go for it.
The reason that I bring this up is that writing has been different for her. She has loved it and she is very good at. Her days in the news helped her learn to write fast and well.


But I will say that this process has made her a bit scatterbrained. To say the least. Over the past year, she has completely forgotten wedding showers, baby showers and birthdays among other things. Totally forgotten these things until a day or five days later. And just as a reminder to her--our anniversary is on JUNE 25th!!!

If it is a stressful time during revisions, then it becomes entertaining as I will have a complete conversation with her only to realize that I have been talking to myself for the past 5 minutes with Brodi gazing out of the window. She is nice though as she asks me for the cliffs notes version of the conversation we just had. As I start to give the cliffs notes version, she tunes out I stop and call my neighbors and have that conversation with them.

Another example? About a week ago, I was looking on for some new door locks. I found 2 of them that both looked good and I put them in my cart to think about (same locks but different metals used so I was trying to decide if I wanted one of them or neither of them). Then a couple of days later, Brodi had a book giveaway on her blog and she ended up sending off a book to a reader. This very nice reader received the book and let Brodi know that she received it, along with 2 door locks. Yes, the 2 door locks that I had not purchased.

Item(s) Subtotal: $281.92
Shipping & Handling: $0.00
Total Before Tax: $281.92
Estimated Tax: $0.00
Grand Total: $281.92

You see, when your brain is on overload and you aren't thinking straight, you go to Amazon, order the book, see it in the cart (along with 2 door locks) and decide to ignore it when says that it will charge your credit card: $281.92. You read that correct. This smart beautiful woman ordered a book and decided to click 'Accept Purchase' even after seeing $281.92as the charge. I am not sure what went thru her mind when she saw that--
'hmmm, over $200 for that book, well, it is a good book and my dear reader deserves it.' Now, if her own book was not on her mind, she probably would have noticed it...but with it on her mind, we bought this sweet reader $281.92 worth of door locks and a book.

I will say that I have loved having a wife who is a writer. I can handle the time that she spends away working on her book or her latest revisions (days at the bookstore, nights at Little America, Midway, etc.) because I can see how much she loves it even when it makes her nuts.

I also know how good of a writer she is. I know how good of a book she has written. I can't wait to see the future of what she does and I am so happy that she has found a 'job' that she loves even if it makes her crazy (and often me crazy by her craziness).

Sam, the neglected husband of an author

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Might as well Snort Tobasco Sauce

Happy Friday.

Random Pain status: It burns, it burns!

Ever have one of those days when you are pretty sure your life is some sort of cosmic joke?

So, I'm in my bathroom yesterday, blow-drying my hair and eating cinnamon bears. (Everyone does that, right?)

I flip my hair forward, so I can dry the under parts, but the forward momentum causes the cinnamon juices in my mouth to go shooting up my nasal tube thingies (you know where your nose meets your throat) and right into my sinuses.

The pain, I assure you, was acute.

I started wandering about, flapping my hands and whimpering, trying to figure out how the heck to stop the burning.

I ran over to the sink, cupped my hand and tried to snort some water. But apparently, even in an emergency, my body rebels against voluntarily snorting any sort of liquid.

By now I could picture the acid cinnamon juices disintegrating my brain. The sizzle was nearly audible.

Finally, I sucked up a mouthful of water, flipped my hair forward and let the water follow the same path.

This worked.

Moral of the story: Never blow-dry your hair. Just eat cinnamon bears while sedentary. Dangerous stuff.

Any fun plans for the weekend? My sister is laying sod, so I "plan" to be conveniently out of town.

Since it's Friday, how about a fun video? Star Wars, as if it were a Macgyver television series.

(Courtesy of Sam. He's the one who wastes countless hours searching through really lame videos until he finds one little golden nugget, which his wife immediately steals.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Dr. Seuss Scares me, and My list of Things that Must Go

Thing 1: First off, a big thank you to Sydney Salter for her author interview. She rocks!

Thing 2: For those of you wanting to enter the contest to win James Dashner's autographed The Thirteenth Reality, you have until the end of this week to bring a new follower. And if you've brought a new follower, let me know via comment or email.

Random thing: Anyone else still have nightmare's about Dr. Seuss's Thing 1 and Thing 2? It was like a horror novel for me as a kid.
Can only be the products of a twisted mind.

Actual Blog Post

One of my favorite radio programs is Radio From Hell on X96 in the mornings. On Wednesdays they do a list of "Things that must go".

I shall copy them forthwith, but in the interest of fair balance, I shall include one thing that must stay for every thing that must go. Fun, huh? And so hopeful.

My list of things that must go (and stay):

Thing that must go:
1. People who try to find the meaning of life in the random "word verification" word thingie.

Make fun of it, fine. Create a funny definition of it, great. But it's not a horoscope or anything. It will not guide you toward your destiny, young grasshopper.

My word verification for some random site today was "broscle". There is no deeper meaning, I promise. This does not mean "Brodi will turn into a popsicle" or "brothers dig bicycles" or any other words of wisdom. As a side note, nobody really wants to hear about your word verification word either.

Thing that must stay:
1. Dorien's homemade jam. (This is not a hint, Dorien. The fact that I'm out should have no bearing on this conversation.)

Thing that must go:
2. Extra charges in a hotel for another adult in the room. Seriously, what difference does it make if there are two people compared to three? What if I promise to bring my own toilet paper? Can I avoid the $35 extra charge?

Thing that must stay:
2. The new Star Trek movie. (George Lucas should have hired J.J. Abrams).

Thing that must go:
3. Airport regulations about 3 ounces of liquid. If my 3.5 ounce tube of lotion gets confiscated one more time, I swear, I'm gonna blog about it instead of simply getting a smaller tube. I like to do things the hard (idiotic) way.

Thing that must stay:
3. The word "Frak". Frak yes!

Thing that must go:
4. People that target their tennis overheads to smash the ball into my ankle at 130 miles per hour. (Sorry, Kenny, but you had no excuse. Especially when you did it the second time. Hit me once, shame on you. Hit me twice, you make the blog-o-shame. I double-dork dare you to go for three.)

Thing that must stay:
4. Friends who read between the lines of your comment on their blog, surmise you are in a bad mood, and ping you immediately to offer encouragement. (Thanks, Emily).

Thing that must go:
5. Tee Ball. The kids are 5 and 6 years old. The games are interminably long, because there are no outs. No Outs! Please someone hit me with a bat now.

Thing that must stay:
5. Coaches for T-ball. Saints, all of them.

Thing that must go:
6. Hardcore "Trekkies" wanting to be called "Trekkers".
Do you really think a name change will make you less of a dork? Embrace your trekkieness, you nerds. I mean, you Trekkies. "Trekker" is someone who explores the Amazon, and gets the girl. "Trekkie" is someone who explores the nuances of Kirk vs. Piccard, and by the middle of the conversation, any girls who were once in the vicinity are now gone.

Thing that must stay:
6. Caffeine. Ah, my only love, sprung from my only hate. I know, it makes no sense to me either. I wish I knew how to quit you.

Thing that must go:
7. Allergy season. Flowers, gardening, and that frakkin' sun. They're all mocking me.
There's me, chillin' in my garden again.

Thing that must stay:
7. Blog commenters. Yay! You are appreciated.

Thing that must go:
8. The economy. All of it.
Let's just get rid of it and start over. Blank slate. No questions asked. We'll even call it something different this time. Like "Shmeconomy". Hey, spell check didn't catch that. Is shmeconomy already a word? Crazy.

We can even change the slogan to, "It's the shmeconomy, dumb-arse." Totally rolls off the tongue.

Thing that must stay:
8. Nitrous Oxide. (A.K.A. Dentist Magic.) Yummmmm. Me and you, now and forever, baby. If only I could get a stinkin' cavity. Curses my manic oral hygiene!

Thing that must go:
9. That bloated feeling.

Thing that must stay:
9. I'm running out of things that must stay. Umm, how about potato chips? (Which probably contribute to said bloated feeling.)

Final thing that must go:
10. My cankles. And other people's halitosis.

Final thing that must stay:
10. World peace.

What's that? We don't have world peace? Crap. Then how about "the concealed weapons ban."

Okay, there's my list. What would you add to it? What would you detract? Detest? Deter? What's the word I'm looking for? It starts with a "D".

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quitting Caffeine is Totally Overrated... And Author Interview with Sydney Salter

Decaffeinating Brodi Status: ummm.... caffeinated. I blame it on the allergy season. And the sun- that golden orb of doom. Plus, I didn't realize I already tried to quit caffeine a couple months ago. It was too early to start another disastrous attempt, right?


Sydney Salter (whose book My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters is on bookshelves now) has graciously answered all of our burning questions.

Sydney Salter

If you cool blog readers out there get a chance, leave a comment and say "hi" to Sydney, and visit her website to find out more about this book and her other projects.

I thought Big Nose was a fun read, and I could totally relate to the self-esteem issues. Hello, my cankles. And don't get me started on my cheeks.

1. (From Cam) The fact that you wrote about someone wanting a nose job - was this from personal experience? Do you incorporate a lot of your own experiences and self into the story? If not, how does one come up with research inside a character with a really bad nose? For some reason that seems harder than identifying with someone who is, say, fat...

I hated my nose in high school so writing about that came pretty easily. Although I think that a writer can take any similar feeling and give it to a character—because the basis of the emotion is the same: feeling unworthy, unlovable, unattractive. So whether it’s weight, a big nose, or funny knees (which would have been much easier to talk about) the overall feelings are alike.

2. (From Cam) In general I am very curious how someone goes from an idea to formulating it into chapters, characters, plot development, side plots, etc. I always imaging a huge creative writing bubble (like they used to make you do in grade school) but I would think I would get so confused and stuck trying to put it all together.
(From Sal) How in the heck do you even write a story to begin with? It just seems like so much, you know, work! How does it go from "Once upon a time..." to a full-blown book?

I wrote My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters during National Novel Writing Month (an online challenge to write 50,000 words in November). I started with the situation: a girl who hates her nose. I also wanted to put my worst-ever job experience to good use so I gave her my job of delivering cakes and flowers. So that helped me come up with the basic plot. Next I thought about friends and love interests (I cut out pictures from magazines for fun). I created the mother’s character because my mom told me about this crazy Dinner For Breakfast Diet she once tried (and I love to tease my mother through my stories). To organize everything I make a notebook for each novel. I used a calendar to organize the plot as I went along.

My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters is my fourth manuscript so I’d pretty much figured out how to organize a novel. I outlined my first three manuscripts more extensively. I used different colored pens to mark subplots and characters so I could make sure I didn’t lose anyone.

It’s not so bad—try it yourself!

3. (From Cam) A lot of authors seem to use very fancy words sometimes - I want to know if you are all really that smart or how many times you really have to Google words and use a thesaurus???

Are you asking to see my SAT scores? I do read quite a bit and have a pretty decent vocabulary, but I use the thesaurus a lot! The character I’m writing about now is really smart so I’m always looking up fancy words for her to use. I’m always Googling how to spell words too. Here’s a secret: I tend to use words over and over again during a first draft. I have one YA manuscript where I removed 1,100 uses of “just,” “only,” and “even.” Yikes! I get much smarter with every revised version of the story.

4. (From Kim Reid) I have yet to join SCBWI and I know Sydney is the Utah/Idaho SCBWI guru. I'd like to know how she got her position doing this and if she feels being especially involved in this organization (not just a regular member) contributed to her writing success, and if so, how. Thanks!

I started as a volunteer and organized a workshop before taking over as Regional Advisor. I do credit SCBWI with much of my writing success. I’ve learned so much at conferences and I’ve made great contacts with editors, agents, and other authors. An agent at the New York conference intensive recommended my current agency to me. But all of those opportunities are available to every member—I just have extra incentive to go to the national conferences (I like seeing my RA friends and I don’t have to pay the tuition fee). I do get to schmooze with the speakers who come to Utah and Idaho. But you can too—if you volunteer to help out. Hint. Hint.

5. (From Debbie): I know a lot of authors have to go through TONS of revisions and edits so I got curious. After Sydney did that with her book was she generally happy with the outcome or did she really miss certain pieces that were deleted (could she possibly share one with us?)?

Lots of revisions! Before submitting the book to publishers my agent had me tighten a few scenes and add a few scenes. I usually get asked to add stuff to my manuscripts (I think it’s because I’m not very good at writing description). I’m really happy with how the book turned out—and very grateful for all those revisions.

In my next book, Jungle Crossing, a middle-grade that comes out in September, I did have to cut about 1,500 words from a single chapter. I got into WAY too much detail describing a Mayan creation myth that didn’t really move the story forward. I kept it and kept it, critique after critique, until finally listening to my agent. And he was right—the book is stronger without it. Funny, my editor didn’t ask me to add anything to that chapter either (she wanted more cuts). And she was right too!

6. (From Debbie) What's her favorite word?

Cupcake (I have trouble separating words from their meanings).

7. (From Debbie) If she could meet with any other author who would it be and what would she ask them?

After hearing Carolyn Mackler speak at a conference a couple of years ago, I really, really wanted to hang out with her, and have lunch, chat about writing, kids, dumb things we did in high school…

8. (From Una) How do you write young characters? What inspires you in your portrayal? Ex - do you pull from past experiences? Other youths in your life?

I’m seriously begging the youths in my life (I have two daughters) to please, please, please not do anything worthy of a novel plot during their teen years. I kept a daily diary all throughout high school so sometimes I will reread those for inspiration. But again I think I still experience the same emotions, except instead of waiting for a guy to call, I’m waiting for my agent to call (I’m sort of joking, but not really). It’s not too hard for me to channel my inner 17-year-old.

9. (From Una) Jory is obviously in high school and plastic surgery has been around a while, but do you feel that teenagers (those under 18) having plastic surgery is still slightly frowned upon/taboo? Is this a reason that possibly spurred you to write this story?

I think a lot of girls get plastic surgery too young—and without thinking of the long-term consequences. A boob job now may mean not being able to breastfeed babies later. I think too many girls use plastic surgery to fix problems on the outside that really need to be addressed on the inside (self-acceptance). Of course, plastic surgery makes an amazing difference when medically necessary after injury or due to birth defects. But will fixing a bumpy nose really lead to true happiness? No, you’ve got to figure that out for yourself. That’s what spurred me to write the book.

10. (From Kim) I'd like to know how she balances family and writing. And her website mentions that fear of failure stopped her writing for a while. How does she keep herself from feeling that way now and keep writing?

I have to admit to a tiny tinge of fear whenever I sit down in front of a blank page, but I love writing so much that I don’t think I could stop now. Balancing family time with writing under deadline has proven a bit more tricky and I’m still figuring it out. I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband and daughters who are old enough (9 and 13) to understand when I need to work. I usually try to write while my girls are in school, but lately I’ve had to work longer hours (sometimes on the weekend) and that’s been tough. I had a revision deadline that fell in the middle of our last family vacation so I had to skip a few activities and work in a nearby coffee shop. I try to turn off my computer between dinner and bedtime so I can spend time with my family.

P.S. While answering these questions, I forgot that I’d switched to the afternoon carpool just for today. I was twenty minutes late picking up my neighbor and daughter from school. So, yeah, I’m still figuring out the balance thing!

12. (From Kim) I'd also like to know what she does about marketing her book. How much time, effort, money, etc, does she put into it?

Oh, marketing! The biggest debut author conundrum (that’s for you, Cam). My publisher wants me to maintain an online presence so I’m active on Facebook, MySpace, and Goodreads as well as working at keeping up a blog. I’ve also made great friends through my online marketing groups (The Class of 2k9 and The 2009 Debutantes). Collective marketing has been a great time and money saver. The Debutantes have created a 40 site blog tour that has increased awareness for my book, plus those amazing authors have so much varied experience and can answer nearly any marketing question. The Class of 2k9 hired a publicist for the group (something I couldn’t afford on my own), printed postcards, created a website, and chats up all the titles across the country.

I haven’t spent much money other than a bit of postage to send interview copies (my publisher is good about sending copies as well). I’m doing small things like making postcards for my next book (which is appropriate for younger readers) and ordering book plates to sign for fans who live far away. I did have my website professionally designed because I lack those skills.

Time is another issue. I love to write so I won’t let marketing get in the way of that (I know a few debut authors who haven’t written much lately). I probably could do more marketing, but I get too crabby when I stop writing. And I do have that family who wants my attention.

13. Could you please include how you got published?

I began writing seriously when my youngest daughter started preschool (she’s now in 3rd grade). I submitted my first novel, wrote the next one, received numerous rejections, won local writing contests, published magazine stories, wrote a third novel, revised the first one thoroughly, and wrote the fourth novel. I recognized that My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters was my most commercial story so I only submitted it to agents (while writing a fifth novel). I got really nice rejection letters, including the one from the agent recommending Firebrand Literary. I sent in a query via their online system and got a quick response asking to see the entire manuscript. Ted Malawer, Firebrand’s new agent, loved it! I signed with him after doing a bit of revision and he submitted after a bit more revision (it’s always about revision). Harcourt bought it in a two-book deal while I was on my way to the SCBWI conference in LA (I got to celebrate with all my writing friends). That fall, Ted submitted my first manuscript, Jungle Crossing, to my editor. She bought that one too. So after all those years of struggling (and revising), I’ve sold three books: My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters, Jungle Crossing, and Swoon At Your Own Risk (my 7th manuscript—see? I just can’t stop writing). Persistence and practice pay off!

Thanks, Sydney, for answering our questions, especially when you're in the middle of revisions. We can't wait to get those SAT scores. And your agent, Ted, sounds like an absolute gem.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Yo Diggity, I quit Caffeine.


So, we have the winners of the De-Lurking contest. Congrats to Kent (of the naked-graduation-speech daydream. My personal favorite part- "Happy for the attention, uncomfortable in the breeze"). And to Jessica (of the "friend of a cousin, so practically family" variety).

Now for the signed copy of James Dashner's The 13th Reality contest:
If you have brought a recent follower to my blog, could you send me a reminder? Or leave it in the comments? And if you've sent me an email, and I haven't responded, it probably went to my spam folder. I don't know why. I answer emails, so if you didn't get an answer, resend it.

Ugh. That above paragraph was totally boring and repetitive. I know, I'm falling asleep too. Maybe I'll spice it up a bit before I hit "Publish Post." Of course, if the preceding sentence makes it, then that means I failed to spice it up.

Sheesh- I'm only four paragraphs in, and I've probably lost all my new followers. Sorry. I vow, from this moment forward, because I owe it to you, and because you have come to have certain expectations of this blog, I will never, ever, ever... umm... lose my train of thought. Ever again.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Shaking my head at the computer screen, thinking this is like the worst post ever. Did I mention I quit caffeine this week? I'm using the patch. Isn't it amazing that it hasn't affected my blogging whatsoever? Why is my keyboard shaking?

Side Effects of quitting caffeine so far:

1. My head hurts.
2. The sun is evil.
2. Non-caffeine induced migraines are just as bad as the caffeine induced ones.
3. I'm full of rage, but I'm too tired to do anything about it.

Okay, time for the actual real post to begin.

Probably because I quit caffeine.

1. Hubby goes around, mumbling under his breath, "Yo Diggity, yo diggity, yo diggity."

Now, if you've ever seen my husband, you know there's no one whiter, or less hip. (It's okay, because those were the two things on my "must-have list" when I was looking for a man. #1 Pale. #2 Awkward.)

But if he says "yo diggity" one more time, I swear, I'm gonna blog about it. Sam, consider this your fair warning. One more time, and it's out there, on the Internetz, for everyone to read.

2. Every time I try to say the word "version" it always comes out "virgin". It's now to the point where I don't even know which one is correct anymore.

Like when I'm discussing my latest book's first and second drafts, I'll say, "Oh, I took that part out. That was in a previous. . . [pause to make sure I get the word right]. . . virgin." Extra emphasis on what I think is the correct word.

Conversely, when someone says something like, "Windows version 2.0," I give a little giggle, like he said a naughty word. (All you tech-heads out there, don't you dare correct me that such a Windows version doesn't even exist.)

3. When I Google my name (everyone does that, right?) these references inevitably come up:

Sphere | Illegal sex acts throughout the United States | UWIRE ...
4 days ago ago from Brodi Ashton. When Sam first started going over to Pakistan, I was very jealous to say the least. To him, it was all part of the job. ...

Everything about bladder lift surgery - Yahoo! Glue
Brodi Ashton: Bladder Enhancements. me: "How did you fix it?" W: "I had a bladder lift." I know what you're thinking, but she's completely serious! ...

Flatulance - Wellsphere
Feb 24, 2009 ... Brodi Ashton: BRAIN FLATULANCE... - 58k - Cached - Similar pages -

So, I guess my blog posts offer great insight on Prostitution, Bladders and Farts (sorry, readers, for the crass word. Perhaps "Freddies" would be better. Or "Toots". Or, as my mother used to call them, "bunny burps". Yes, it messed me up as a child.)


Coming up on Monday, the answers to our blog's first author interview. (Those of you new to the blog, we came up with questions to ask an author).

Sydney Salter, author of My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, has answered all of our burning questions. I will post the answers on Monday's blog. Unless she reads this post, and decides she'd rather not be associated.

Enjoy your weekend. Anyone got any special plans? I'm off to see that new Trek movie Saturday night. Sam's making me go. I so don't care about seeing it. Oh well. I'd do anything for that non-hip little white man.

Live long and prosper.

Since it's Friday, enjoy the famous line from Snakes on a Plane: the TV edit. See if you can catch the M*** F*** substitutions. Awesome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thing About Me #13, and more Free Books.

Thing # 13
(In the longest "25 things about me" tag in the history of the universe):

13. I walked out of the movie "I Love You, Man."

You know, the comedy with Paul Rudd and... that other guy?

I haven't walked out of a movie in years. Perhaps decades.

But I walked out of this one.

You know that uncomfortable humor? Like, in The Office? Especially the British version? I can handle The Office.

But for some reason, the pure pathetic factor of Paul Rudd in this movie made me cringe. I was covering my eyes and plugging my ears when everyone else in the theater was laughing.

Sam was puking his guts out, he was laughing so hard. And that was during the scene where Paul Rudd pukes his guts out.

That scene was the last straw. I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't want to make Sam leave, so I told him to stay and I would wander about and find another movie to sneak into.

Once in the hallway, I perused the possibilities:

1. Marley and Me (Nope. I can't handle the death of dogs.)
2. Duplicity (Nada. If Clive Owen is gonna have anyone, it's gonna be me.)
3. Slumdog Millionaire (No way. I can't stand to see endangered children.)
4. Watchmen (Hmmm... Rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity-- mostly by a naked blue man -- and language.)

So, Sam gets out of his movie.

Sam: "Sorry, honey. I didn't know I Love You Man was going to be so disturbing."

me: "That's okay. It's just that there's only so much I can take."

Sam: "What movie did you end up going to?"

me: "Watchmen."

Sam (raising one eyebrow, if he could): "What is wrong with you? You walk out of one movie, because it's uncomfortable, and instead you go see Watchmen?"

me (shaking my head): "I know. I have no idea what's wrong with me. All of the other ones looked too offensive to me."

Sam: "Like Marley and Me?"

me: "Don't even pretend that dog doesn't die at the end. Who would want to watch that? Give me a post-apocalyptic dystopian universe any day over a dead dog."

There's gotta be a screw loose. Somewhere. Seriously, what is wrong with me?

Three Books to Give Away

1. For Lurkers: Any lurkers out there? Time to De-Lurk! (You can de-lurk by leaving a comment and becoming a follower). Then you get a free YA book of your choosing.

2. For Lurkers: Want a signed copy of Far World: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage? I have one for the second de-lurker. Hardcover.

3. For regulars: For you non-de-lurkers, anyone who convinces one brave soul to publicly "follow" my blog gets entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of The 13th Reality by James Dashner.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Dashner Dude, he is huge. And his hunger-games-ish trilogy comes out this fall with the first book THE MAZE RUNNER.

So he's huge now, and he's going to be even huger. More huge. Bigger.

Easy Peezy, right? And don't be scared to de-lurk. We're all very nice here. Although Cam can be a little iffy (I kid! She just speaks her mind, especially when she questions my dork factor). And Erin is quite snarky. (She's my sister, so it's okay). But really, they're harmless.

And, I know you lurkers are out there. Come on in. Don't make me name names. Kent. Just kidding.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Dare You to Call Me a Trekkie. And Chris Pines: Yum

Not-yet-released movie-viewing status: Yep. I saw it. Early Preview.

You know what I'm talking about, right?

At least, you Trekkies know what I'm talking about. And let me tell you, when you hear those opening words:

"A long time ago, in a galaxy..." wait, that's not right.

"In Space, no one can hear you scream..." Oh crap.

Anyone here speak geek? Hold on. Let me Google it.

Okay, got it.

"Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. To see the zippers in the cheesy alien costumes. To say goodbye to the un-named trooper of the week. To fall to one's knees, and give a gut-wrenching shout of "Kaaaahhhhhhhhnnnnnnnn!"

Okay, I may have embellished the opening words.

As most of you know, I am not a Trekkie. (BTW, did you know that the purest Trekkies consider "Trekkie" a derogatory term? I mean gee whiz, Trekkies can sure be a touchy bunch of Trekkies.)

Anyway, back to Trekkies. I am no Trekkie. I'm not even a closet Trekkie, denying my Trekksual orientation. I do not debate the merits of previous Trek disasters, a la the guys from Big Bang Theory (by the way, this same debate took place at Sunday dinner last night):

So my expectations were pretty low.

And when I saw some reviews that said, "The best Star Trek movie since The Wrath of Kahn," and then I saw the poster for said Wrath movie:
I thought to myself, "This is what it's trying to live up to? A movie about a battle with Michael Bolten?"

So I lowered my already drowning expectations into a deep dark abyss.

But I have to admit... from the first space battle scene, the first heroic death (whoops, spoiler alert) the first meeting of Spock and Kirk, I was hooked.

Yes, some of the aliens looked like they had been injected with a buttload of botox. And I'm sure some of the references to past shows went way over my head. (Tribbles, anyone? Yeah, me neither.)

But I can't wait to see it again.

Things I liked about it:

1. Simon Pegg plays "Scottie". Simon Pegg is the English actor behind such movies as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Two of my favorites. (I do not recommend movies because I always get in trouble, so please don't go out and rent them or anything.)

2. James Tiberius Kirk spends most of the movie drunk, drugged or in a bar fight. He always sports a swollen lip and the traces of blood from his latest scuffle. He's an absolute mess. And I love guys who are absolute messes.

He's a scruffy nerfherder.

3. Halfway through the movie, my mom leans over and asks me (in reference to Capt. Kirk), "Isn't that Hugh Jackman?"
Hugh Jackman

Chris Pines: Capt. KirkI know. They're like twins.

4. There exists a certain contagious energy when hundreds of geeks converge in one place. You could almost taste the pathetic despair in the air. And it tasted good.

5. There were no Klingons or Klingon dialects. (At least, as far as I could tell)

6. The security guards in the theater were so dang serious. It was really very cute.

Security guard:
"If I even see a cell phone, I will have to escort you from the theater. The higher ups have given me no leeway on this, so please make it easier on yourself." Then he flashed his ID. "Don't make me use this."

Then he hitched up his belt, tipped his hat to the ladies, clicked his spurs and sauntered out of the room, to where Daisy was hitched to a post outside.

Things I could do without:
1. Trudging scenes.
I understand the need for pacing in movies, as well as books. But I really get bored with the trudging scenes, where the Main Character gets stuck/stranded/lost and must trudge through the snow/desert/sludge along the way encountering monsters/bad guys/starving children.

I know it's all about giving the audience/reader a chance to take a breath before the big final showdown. But it feels exactly how it sounds.

Like trudging.

2. Now people are going to call me a Trekkie. But I'm not. Because this movie is not Star Trek. It's not. It's a really cool sci-fi pic.

Sis-in-law E still says I'm a Trekkie now, no matter how much I deny it. So we'll have a quick lesson.

This is Trekkie:
This is Trekkie:

This is NOT Trekkie. Sci-fi geek, yes. Trekkie, no. I am a sci-fi geek.

You still callin' me a Trekkie? Whatev's.

It's time again for some contests and book give-aways. I'll give you the details Wednesday, but let me just say the contests are easy-peezy. I might as well be giving the books away for free! Which, I guess I am.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Echo Cover Art and a few last Pakistan pics

Cute fan status: So, I have a 12-year old blog reader in the midwest, and she was kind enough to read my book. She wants to be a writer, and she is already an incredible artist. After she finished reading Echo, she sent me her own "cover art".

What do you think? 12 years old!

Some last Pakistan tidbits:

We ate at this restaurant called Cooco's, located in the old city. When we decided on this restaurant, one of my pregnant Pakistani friends wondered if she could make the climb.

I was thinking, "She looks in good shape. What's the deal with a couple flights of stairs?"

Okay, I could barely make the climb!

The restaurant seems to teeter 5 floors above the street. It provides a beautiful view of the Mosque and the Fort, but I know for a fact there's no way it would pass building codes here.
The owner's mother and sisters were prostitutes, and several paintings of them were displayed throughout. He was proud of his heritage.

The food is cooked on street level, and when it's done it's placed on a little bowl hanging from a rope.

The waiters at the top floor hoist the food up with lightening speed, never spilling a drop of the food. It was quite a show.

Maybe my favorite part of the trip was the Wagah border, separating India and Pakistan. Every night they have a changing of the guard, and a lowering of the flags. Each side has its own stadium seating, with one side cheering loudly for Pakistan and the other side cheering for India.
This was my favorite guard. If anyone could hock a logie from his eye, this guard could.

It is a spectacle, and although we took video, I think this youtube piece sums it up better.

We had VIP seating next to the Dutch Ambassador. Front and center. Blond hair shining. You can bet the Major had a heart attack.

Enjoy your weekend, y'all! I will get to some of the questions next week. If you get a chance, give a shout out to Marie (the aforementioned 12-year old artist) about her cover.