Monday, June 29, 2009

My attempt to Look Like Farrah Fawcett, and our Author Interview with Emily Wing Smith

The proof is in the pictures

I had a request for proof of my version of Farrah Fawcett feathered hair, which really resembled "Sticky Wings." So, here is the proof. Enjoy. And then never mention it again. In fact, go ahead and burn your computer.

Brodi, thinking she looks quite a bit like Farrah, if she could just get rid of that darn retainer.
Also from Friday's post, what happens when an epileptic eel falls for a flopping fish, and they decide to procreate?

Behold, the offspring of such a pairing. (I don't think it will be necessary to point out which kid is ours...)
video

Author Interview: Emily Wing Smith
Emily Wing Smith

Do you ever meet someone, and know instantly that you'll like them? It happens rarely for me. But it happened the first time I met Emily. She is truly a talented, funny, quirky pile of molecules, and I am so lucky to call her a friend.


When I read her book THE WAY HE LIVED, and later a draft for her next book BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE, I was so impressed with her economy of words. She can say in six words what would take me fifty.
Anyway, enough about my inferiority complex when it comes to Emily. The signed book winners will be announced at the bottom. If you get a chance, say hi to Emily in the comments. She loves comments. On to the interview!

First, how about a quick recap of your road to publication. And then, on to the questions:

My road to publication was fraught with disappointment and peril. When I give a quick recap of my journey, it ends up sounding easy. It was not! It also ends up sounding shorter than it was. I submitted my first manuscript fall 2001. I saw my first novel in print fall 2008.

I started seriously writing young adult fiction in college. As an English major at BYU I took a class on writing the young adult novel and knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I submitted and got rejected. I got married. I graduated from college. I bought my first house. I submitted more. I got rejected more. I applied to the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. I learned tons, had great advisors, and made terrific friends. I graduated from Vermont College with a novel finished that I felt good about (it was not one of the manuscripts submitted/ rejected previously). Carrie Jones, one of my VC BFFs, read the new manuscript and liked it. Her own YA, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, had debuted from Flux earlier that year. Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Publications devoted exclusively to YA fiction, had just opened its doors, and Carrie recommended I submit to her editor, Andrew Karre. I did, he liked it, and the rest is history. The Way He Lived was published a year later. My next book, a YA entitled Back When You Were Easier to Love, will be released from Dutton (Penguin) early 2011.

1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Getting a new story idea! I love it when scenes come to me in bits and pieces and I start patching them together. It’s a high like no other.


2. Where do your ideas for novels come from? How do they evolve into a fully formed plotline? When you write, do you draw on past experiences or acquaintances? If so, who was your inspiration in this book? How often do you draw on personal past experience when you write or is more of your writing imagined?

Usually, I take the ideas for my stories directly from my life—from things that have happened to me or to people I care about. I’m an embellisher by nature, so although events are often lifted straight from reality, they become fictional as I write them down.

As a teenager, I moved to a community where a boy my age had recently died on a Boy Scout camping trip. Occasionally, I would meet people who had known and loved him, and I was amazed by their diversity—Bad Boys, Good Girls, and everyone in-between. It’s interesting to get to know someone only through what others say about him—especially when you know you won’t get the chance to meet him yourself. The resulting story is The Way He Lived.

3. Are motifs in novels premeditated? Do you write a novel planning on having a running motif? Or, does a motif emerge as you begin writing and you take it and run with it through the rest of the novel?

I can’t speak for all novelists, but I never start a novel with a motif or a symbol in mind. Often, after I write a few scenes I’ll notice that I’m approaching a lot of the same themes in different ways, and that helps me realize what the book is really about. I never start out thinking, “I know! In this book I’ll use the color burnt sienna to represent the plight of the common man!” But often times I’ll see that I’m using similar images, and I’ll try to play that up.

5. What is your favorite word?

I haven’t thought about this question since junior high! But I do remember that at the time, my favorite word was “sashay,” so I think I’ll go with that.

7. What compelled you to write/become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even before I could write. What compelled me? I can’t really say, since I don’t remember ever not being compelled.

I always wanted to write the kind of books that I was reading (or were being read to me). At age five I wanted to write and illustrate picture books, at age eight I wanted to write chapter books, at age eleven I wanted to write the next Babysitters Club. I guess when I started reading young adult fiction, I stopped wanting to read or write anything else! In fact, while I still read some books for adults, I prefer YA.

8. Why did you decide to write from many different perspectives instead of just one?

People often ask me why I chose to write the book with multiple narrators and points of view. I didn’t really choose to write it that way—this story came to me as a collage of voices, each voice telling me how he or she was dealing with Joel’s death. As the voices came to me, I would write down snatches of what they said (interestingly, very few of these “snatches” remain in the book). I would draw lines from one voice to another as their connections became clearer to me. As I figured out more about each character’s role in Joel’s life, and his role in theirs, I would draw more lines. It’s actually a pretty inefficient way to write a book, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but for me it was the only way.

9. Was it hard to hear the individual voices of these characters, and how did you know when you had found them?

As I mentioned, most of the voices of my characters came clearly and full-formed, needing very little re-writing. However, sometimes I had difficulty transferring the voices as I heard them to the written page. It was most obvious with my character Miles. I heard his voice in my head as if he were talking to himself, clearly saying “You don’t know shit.” All I could think was: “I can’t start out a story like that! There must be some way I can filter and still be true to his voice.” I worked on turning that line into a first-person account of a guy whose world was falling apart around him, but something about it was just off. Finally, I wrote the story from second-person, just the way his thoughts were coming to me, completely unfiltered. It worked! I eventually changed it back to first-person, but this time it was as simple as replacing every “you” with “I.”


10. If you could take one picture of a dessert, and it couldn't be chocolate cake, which dessert would you choose?

I’m actually really picky about which desserts I eat (this is for health reasons and in effort not to weight 300-pounds-plus). However, I’m not at all picky in what I photograph! This is my favorite, a mini pineapple upside-down cake from Roy’s, a restaurant in Kona, Hawaii.


12. Do you think getting an MFA at Vermont College biases editors in writers' favor automatically or did your schooling have nothing to do with publishing success?

Ha. Success. That’s funny. Anyway… The whole MFA: yay or nay question is a hot one, and I don’t know if there really is an answer. I loved my experience at Vermont College. I was in a position where I had the time and resources to attend. I loved spending two weeks every six months with like-minded people talking about writing. It was part summer camp and part boarding school. I was already a full-time writer, so my heart was completely invested in the program.

That said: I recommend the program to other writers only if they are looking for that experience; only if they are committed to writing, to spending a great deal of time and money simply to learn more about the craft. I do not recommend it as a place to go to network, to meet editors, or to “get a foot in the door.” Any of the Vermont College faculty will tell you it’s not a program on how to get published. If you expect that, you will be sorely disappointed (and out a lot of cash!).

Do editors favor VC graduates? I know a lot of editors respect the program and respect its graduates, but you still have to submit manuscripts like everybody else. Some editors may have special requirements for VC grads, but I don’t know of any. You may end up meeting someone at school who can help you in your career (it happened to me in a roundabout way) but don’t count on it.

13. Who's your favorite Dawson's Creek character?

Joey. She’s not the one I relate to best, or the one whose actions I like most. She’s not my favorite character for any reason of substance. She’s just so beautiful!

14. Did you ever watch Felicity?

Alas, Felicity was mainly on when I was in high school. I watched very little TV then, both because I was busy and our TV’s were generally monopolized by my four younger brothers and sisters. So no, I’ve never seen it.

15. What authors do you most admire or relate to?

I am extremely fortunate to live near some amazing YA authors like Sara Zarr, Ann Cannon, and Ann Dee Ellis and Louise Plummer. Not only do I look up to them, I’ve been mentored by them in different stages of my writing career. I also grew up reading and loving the work of veteran YA writer M.E Kerr. I’m dying to meet her someday! And of course, my fellow writing group members are some of the best out there.

16. Do you have any published authors who are your mentor? If so, how do you make those connections?

Like everything in writing, I think finding mentors is a matter of luck, skill, and hard work If you want to be a writer, it’s important to go to conferences and workshops, take classes, and do whatever you can to learn your craft—that’s where you meet authors who can help you. It especially helps if you’re a good writer, but even that can be overcome if you have persistence and good story ideas. If you live somewhere isolated from a writing community, you can still meet other writers online. If you’re lucky, you can even develop relationships with authors by checking out their website, commenting on their blog, or emailing them (Don’t go crazy with the emailing, though. And don’t email an author you’ve never met/corresponded with and ask her to read your novel).

18. What would you ask another author if you had the chance?

It depends on which author. When I’m reading different books, I’ll think, “I would love to ask the author how she did this,” or “I wonder how/why the author did that.” I guess part of being a writer is that it changes how you read.

Thanks for the interview Emily! The winners of the autographed copies of Emily's THE WAY HE LIVED and Shannon Hale's THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE are:
1. Jessica
2. Lily

Congratulations!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Sam... When the Epileptic Eel fell for the Flopping Fish

A moment of silence for Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

I have to admit both of these people left their mark on me and that mark wasn't pretty. Farrah influenced my own version of "feathered hair", which really turned out to be "sticky wings above my ears".

And Thriller defined a few very awkward years of my childhood, involving a Levi Jacket with MJ buttons, a white glove, and white socks.

Happy Anniversary Sam! (Only One Day Late)

Okay, so some of you already know I blogged about our anniversary being today, only to be corrected by Sam in the comments. (It was really yesterday).

For the record, this does not count as forgetting, like in years past. This counts as remembering wrong. I am one step closer to becoming a responsible adult.

Instead of posting all the things I love about Sam (he'll do that on his own blog, I'm sure) I shall post about why it takes a strong, unique man to stick around me.


Sam Didn't Leave me When...
1. after three months of marriage, I made him quit his job so I could uproot our family and move us to Blackfoot Idaho for my job which paid considerably less than his job.

2. I accidentally spent almost $300 dollars on a book for one of my blog readers.

3. I threw a hair dryer at him.


4. I told him if he wanted another child, he would have to be up nights and wake up mornings with said child. (Beckham's here, so you know Sam agreed).


How Did Sam Get Me? (aka How Did Sam Get Stuck with Me?)
1. He played hard to get. (Meaning, he kept talking about another girl he wanted to ask out. I'm not kidding. He took her to a Jazz game.)


2. He danced for me. Have you ever seen an epileptic eel do the cha cha? Then you've seen Sam dance. It was that moment I knew he completed me, because I do a dance that resembles a fish out of water, flopping about. So, his epileptic eel completes my flopping fish.

Weirdest Thing about our Wedding Day
I don't know why this cracks me up.

Our wedding ceremony took place at about 10 in the morning. Sam and I got married, took pictures, and then went to lunch at the Lion House. Then we had about six hours to kill before the reception, and we didn't know what to do. (We were young. And stupid.)

I think the conversation went something like this:

me: "So, what do we do now?"

Sam: "Beats me. I guess we go home?"

me: "Okay, I'll just grab a ride home with my parents, and then we can meet up at the reception."

Sam: "That's great, cuz I've got some errands to run anyway."

me: "Um... Kay. Bye."

Sam: "Yeah. See ya."

It's true. So, I went to my parents' house, took a nap, watched a movie, and then Sam and I drove separate cars to the reception.

We so didn't know how to be married.

Coming up Monday, author Emily Wing Smith answers our questions, and we pick the book winners.

Anyone doing anything fun this weekend? I'm going to the Melting Pot to celebrate our anniversary. I don't know where Sam's going.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mistakes were Made... Brodi was Burned

Writer friend Bree is holding a contest for an ARC (Advanced Release Copy) of The Dark Divine. These are hot commodities, so check it out.

Yesterday was a day at the pool. I'm a freak about sunblock, and I remembered 50 spf for 85 little children (okay there were only two, but at a pool, it feels like 85). But I forgot about me. Considering I have skin that rivals the whiteness of the
legs on The Dark Divine, I am as red as a diaper rash, and I feel like I have the flu.

My anniversary is coming up on Friday, and I'm blogging about it now so I don't forget. I have a tendency to forget stuff like anniversaries, birthdays, children in general- especially mine, appointments... grass... table... where was I? Was I just typing random words? Sorry about that.


Oh yeah. My anniversary. Sam never forgets the day. Probably like a veteran never forgets Normandy.

To celebrate the occasion, I will share with you some weird date stories from my pre-Sam days.


WORST DATE EVER

I won't name names, because Bill would be upset.
I don't even have to give details. Just two little facts, and you'll understand.
1. Carriage Ride.
2. Food Poisoning.

I'm betting the carriage driver has never been asked since to "pull over" so many times in one ride. It broke all kinds of records. I assume it was the worst date for Bill too.

WEIRDEST REPLACEMENT FOR FLOWERS

Another boy, Bill, came to my door one evening bearing a gift. Only instead of something traditional, like flowers, he brought me a Trapper Keeper.
Do any of you children of the 80's remember Trapper Keepers?
I want to know the marketing pitch session for those:

"So, imagine a super-folder. Only it snaps shut with a velcro strip. And on the front are pictures of unicorns and crap like that. The kids are gonna love 'em! We'll be millionaires... because folders are radical."


GROSSEST GROSS OUT DATE

I don't know if this was to impress me, or what, but my date Bill threaded a piece of string up his nose and then pulled the end out through his mouth.

Two years later we were married.


Totally kidding.

You can see why Sam didn't have to do much to impress me.

Anyone else care to share?

Monday, June 22, 2009

My List of Things That Must Go... and the Worst Father's Day Gift Ever

Since it's Monday morning, and I'm not ready for the weekend to be over, how about a mini- rant, with my list of things that must go.

MONDAY MORNING THINGS THAT MUST GO:


1. Too much information on voicemail directions.
You know when you call someone, it goes to voicemail, and then the robotic voice spends half your lifetime explaining your options to you, as if there are so many more wonderful choices besides just leaving a message?

Here's what I'm talking about: "Bing Bong... I'm sorry but Blah Dee Blah is not available. At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished recording your message, you may hang up or press pound for more options. If you feel so inclined, press two to repeat instructions. Press three to hear these instructions in Espanol. Press four to hear me sing the National Anthem. If you do not press four, you are downright unAmerican, and we will sic Hannity on you. Press five for an over-the-phone confessional with Father O'Harris. Press zero for an operator. But the operator is just me, and I will simply repeat these instructions. Have a nice day."

Beeeeeeep.

It's not like leaving a message is a brand new concept, that only hip high school kids will understand. Voicemail is older than the internet. Seriously, if I don't hear someone answer my phone call, I promise I will just assume that person is unavailable. Not only that, I will also assume leaving a message is possible.

So please, just give me the bleeeeepin' beeeeeeep already! Arrrrrrgh!


Whew. I feel better now. On to Number...


2. Celebrity "News" that in no way resembles "News".
For instance:
Did you hear the news? Zoe's in a leather dress! In my opinion, unless she personally hunted down the animal who provided the leather for the dress, and killed him with a homemade bomb made out of MacGuyver's gum wrapper and a paper clip, It's really not news that she's wearing a leather dress. Unless.... it's human leather. Bwah-hah-hah.

Just caption the picture with "Zoe-what's-her-name, at a premiere."


2-B. You know how I love my Trashy Mags, but the "Stars- they're just like us!" section is getting a little ridiculous with the latest entry: Audrina "Lipless" Patridge mixes mustard and ketchup. I don't know what to say. I mean, I guess that makes her more like me, but really, I never assumed she had someone to do that for her in the first place.

Did she wake up and think, "I think I shall be like the nameless masses today and mix my ketchup and mustard. Then, I shall swallow my own water."

3. Totally lame Father's Day Presents:

What do you get the guy who gave you life, sacrificed so much to provide for you, threw you countless pop-ups in the backyard, gave you away at your wedding, provided medical care for your children, and battled Pancreatic Cancer in a war of epic proportions?


I'll tell you. You get him the lovechild of a toilet scrubber and a feather duster. And you tell him it's a backscratcher. Now, before you all throw stones in my general direction, let me just explain one thing. Umm... it's my sister's fault. (Just kidding, Erin.)

Really, though, we bought my Dad David Copperfield tickets about a month ago for Father's Day. Even so, there's nothing more embarrassing than the three Dads in our family showing off their presents on the actual day. Sam and Dave with their cordless power drills, my Dad with his... backscratcher.

My sister bought it from a travelling salesman, who I'm sure walked away from her house thinking to himself, "I can't believe she bought it. I've had that in my truck for twenty years. I wonder if she'll go for the dust bunnies in the back of my truck next time."
After my dad opened the gift, my sister leaned over to me and said, "You owe me three dollars."

Now I feel ready for the week. So, how was y'all's Father's Day? Anyone else care to contribute to things that must go?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Giveaway Contest Winners... and Thing About Me #16

First off, a shout out to author Sarah Burningham from Harper Studio Publishers in NY, for listing my blog as one she visits for a laugh. Shhh, everyone act natural, and put on your best "New-York-hip-dressed-in-black-with-a-side-of-Big-Apple-Pizza" so she'll feel welcome. (Her book BOYOLOGY just hit shelves. If you have teenagers, check it out.)

Contest Winners for the Gigantic Signed Book Giveaway:
Smokey dressed up for the occasion of drawing names, but he had to give me the winners over the phone, due to a previous speaking engagement of his. I'm just happy he found the time in between modeling gigs for Purina Cat Chow.

Twitter Contest
1. CyntheaLiu
2. Writing Hannah
3. Steve Weber

Link Contest
1. Shellie
2. Ruth
3. Everead.

Congratulations! Please email me your mailing addresses at brosam (at) gmail (dot) com.

THE LONGEST 25 THINGS ABOUT ME TAG

We are into, I believe, month 3 of the 25 things about me tag. It's gotta be a record or something, right? Shouldn't there be a reward?

Thing about me #16: I love to pick and drain.


I only thought of this because the other day, we were discussing stress dreams.
You know, the ones where you're a waitress, and you can't read your own handwriting, and your uniform is a pair of overalls (because you work at a place called Cowboy Grub), and you forgot to wear a shirt under your overalls, so you're trying to strategically place the straps just right, all the while explaining to the retired folk at Table 3 exactly where the meat in the "Best of the Bull" dish comes from?
"Best of the Bull"

Okay, maybe it's just me.

All of my stress dreams are about nude waitressing. Always. Except for the ones where I'm on Broadway, and I can't remember my lines. And I'm a man. Only I can't find my man parts. (Which, I guess really means I'm dreaming I'm a woman. I don't know. Psychology majors out there?)

Stress dreams have nothing to do with my THING #16. So I should probably just erase the above. But I'm not gonna. Cuz that's how I roll.

Thing #16 has to do with my calm, relaxing dreams. And this is where it gets a little gross. (I know, you thought it couldn't get grosser than the Bull Testicles dish. We really did serve it when I worked at The Cowboy Grub. Because that's what you serve at Cowboy-themed restaurants.)

I digress. In my happiest dreams, when life is rather balanced, I dream about Drainage. I love to drain. Okay, I can already tell this is going to be too yuk for the blog, but it's late, and I no longer have a choice, because I have to go whack my hair.

so
VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

I dream about removing giant wax plugs from my ears. Squeezing that zit. Scratching that scab. Even hocking logies.

NOT A DREAM
Neighbor A came over to my house one day to show me a cut on her leg. It had become infected, the skin pulled tight, a faint white color under the tissue. I told her it had to be drained.


She didn't believe me. I think because my reaction scared her. I basically ran at her leg with the garden shears, saying, "It'll feel better, and we'll both be happy! Trust me!"

The Instacare ended up draining it and, unfortunately, they didn't have an observation room with a two-way mirror so I could watch. Neighbor A did feel better, and she admitted I was right. But that doesn't make up for my loss. It's not like she could go out and cut her leg again and shove some dirt in the wound just to make me feel better. Unless the preceding sentence gives her some ideas...

Speaking of drainage (which 9 times out of 10, I am) poor little Niece E (not to be confused with her twin sister, Niece E) suffers from an affliction I like to call "Ape Arms". It's where your arms must be an inch too long, because you keep knocking things off of shelves and whacking bystanders in the face. (To clarify, not that they look too long, just that they keep getting caught in doors and stuff).


I know this, because I, too, suffer from a severe case of "Ape Arms". So I was totally empathetic when Niece E slammed her pointer finger in a door, and had to have the resulting ball of pus on the end of her finger drained.

Now, one smashed finger may not be a definitive sign of "Ape Arms", but a couple of days later, when she slammed her middle finger into another door, and had to have that finger drained as well (through the top of the nail. Ewww) the diagnosis was complete.

I had to take a picture, but it really doesn't do it justice, because I took it with my iPhone. The old one, not the new one.


Yep. Ape Arms. She might as well just cut her fingers off, and save a lifetime of bruises.

Oh, to be a doctor in the age of boils.

And just so you know, I found a really cool video of pus being drained from a leg, but I refrained from posting it. I must be growing. Email me if you want the link.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Personal Lifetime Movie... and Our Next Author Interview

Good morrow, yon readers! (See, I told you the writing conference worked.)

Bree Despain finally gets to show off her new book cover for The Dark Divine, so check it out!

Contest Status: Okay, so since the contest officially ended at midnight last night, that left me with no time to procure Smokey the Hairless Cat to pick the winner, so I will announce the winners Wednesday. Cool? Cool.

Again a big thank you to all the people who participated. The procreating bunnies didn't stand a chance. In fact, their latest batch of bunnies were born sterile, so, way to be intimidating, blog readers! We're sterilizing bunnies in our quest to take over the world! (Although I don't think that should be made into a bumper sticker or anything...)









And to those who thought about participating, but at the last minute didn't, because you think I can be temperamental and ornery (for some reason, I had to spellcheck both of those last words) I have the following to say to you:



Shannon Hale status: I finally met Shannon Hale in person; she was signing books at The King's English independent booksellers. (I've exchanged emails with her before- my agent Ted works at the same agency as hers). Also (Did you noticed how I used a semicolon?) My punctuation (rocks!)

Back to Shannon, what a cool girl. To kick off the signing, she and her husband sang "Islands in the Stream" karaoke in front of the crowd. Talk about not letting fame and fortune get to her head.

BLOG FART
My sis-in-law E said to me at lunch on Saturday, "I have no idea how you keep coming up with stuff to talk about on your blog."
I laughed and shooed away the idea with a wave of my hand.

But then I thought about it. And thought about it. Hmm.... I have no idea either. Is this a problem most people face? Staring at the computer on blog day with nothing to talk about? Absolutely nothing?


And then I let it get to me. The fear. What if I run out of things to say? What if I can't think of anything funny? What if I'll never be funny again? Was I ever in the first place? (Don't answer that.)


You can probably guess what happened next: performance anxiety. This morning, I sat at my computer, with absolutely nothing of interest to say. Zip. Zero.
It reminded me of that Garfield comic strip, where Jon informs Garfield that cats can't walk on their hind legs.
















I didn't know it was hard until someone told me. And now, FACE-SPLAT. I have nothing to say. I will never have anything more to say. I've blogged everything.

On that note, it's time for another author interview. Emily Wing Smith (author of The Way He Lived) has kindly agreed to answer our burning questions. Emily is one of the nicest people I have ever met, but that's not the only reason I love her book.

The Way He Lived is about
Joel Espen, who died of dehydration after giving away his water during a badly planned Boy Scout expedition.
The book starts after his death.

So, did Joel purposely give up his water? Did he want to? And why would someone want to?

I have to say I really love her book. From a writing perspective, it is a Master's Class on how to write several different voices.

Ther
e's an aspect of the book that not every reader picks up on, which I think is another interesting facet. So if you get a chance, read it. (You can also click on the picture to order it from Amazon). It got a starred review on Publisher's Weekly, which is pretty cool.

So, to make a long story short (too late) I'll send her a list of ?'s, but if any of you would like to ask a question, just add it to the comments. And I know for a fact many of you have read this little gem, so I expect questions. Sky. Anne C. Writer peeps.

And to sweeten the pot...

Since I just obtained some autographed copies of Shannon Hale's new book The Actor and The Housewife, and Shannon recently said Emily's book was one of her favorites, I think we'll give both books away. Cool? Cool. Ask a question for Emily, get entered in a drawing for Emily's book and Shannon's book.

Be sure to ask Emily about "bad hand". She cracks me up.

Holy cow. I really
am single-handedly keeping the publishing industry afloat with my giveaways. Sam just got mad at me, but I told him to talk to the finger. He's so not getting entered into the contest.

Shickety-brickets. I'm at the end of the blog, and I didn't even get a chance to start my actual blog post, which was "Thing About Me #16". And it was a doozy. I'll save it for Wednesday. That is, if I don't run out of blog ideas.

For now I will end with the TOP FIVE STUPIDEST TITLES OF LIFETIME MOVIES:

5. The Advocate's Devil

4. She Woke Up Pregnant


3. My Stepson, My Lover

2. Crowned and Dangerous

and my personal favorite...

1. Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?

Wanna know my own personal Lifetime Movie Title? (Courtesy of Lifetime Title Generator):

Not Without My Dead Husband: The Brodi Ashton Story

I prefer:

Sterilizing Bunnies on her Quest to Take Over the World: The Brodi Ashton Story

So, what are y'all doing this week?


Friday, June 12, 2009

My Book is in Heaven, Waiting to be Born

It's Friday morning and I'm at the BYU Writing for Young People who Read Good Conference, so I'll make this quick.

RANDOM SMELL STATUS: The random stench in my basement is gone, but now my car suddenly smells like puke. On the drive to lunch it smelled fine. After lunch, it smelled like puke. Did someone break into my car, hurl under the seat and then run away laughing? Ah, the excitement of a mystery.

CONTEST

Remember to follow me on Twitter (or link to me) by Sunday to be entered into the drawing for free autographed books.

WE RULE
The push for world domination was successful. Just this morning, we topped that elusive 2 million mark. The procreating bunnies tapped out at 1.7 million. I think the pressure got to them.

In other news, local animal shelters say June is a great month to give your honey a bunny.

RANDOM CONFERENCE CHICKEN NUGGETS OF WISDOM
1. Dandi Mackall gave a great talk at the conference, and at one point, she recounted a dream in which she went to heaven and found all sorts of books who were waiting patiently for an author to man up and write them.

I couldn't help but picture a little 8-year old book, looking longingly down to earth at me, hoping to be born into this world, only to discover I tied my brain tubes. All night, I heard this tiny voice, screaming her guts out from the sky: "Brodi! You promised me!"

I promise, little book, I will try to reverse the procedure, and write you.

2. Tracy Hickman talked about how a book doesn't exist until a reader reads it. (He said it a lot gooder than I just did.)

Anyway, he likened it to the theory of Schrodinger's Cat. Anyone familiar with the famous feline?

The theory goes something like this: If you put a cat in a metal box, with a poison time-release capsule, you'll never know if the cat is alive or dead unless you open the box. So while the box is closed, the cat is
alive and dead.

Did that just blow your mind? Alive AND dead! I'll give you a moment to scrape your brains off the wall.

Here are a few graphs to help you understand.

























I'm not sure what it had to do with writing, but I came home and wrote a scene where a cat suffocates in a box. So it totally helped me.

3. For one exercise, I had to draft a letter from my Main Character to me (the author). Here's what my Main Character had to say to me:

Dear Brodi,

Gimme a plot already, booger-brain.

Love,
M.C.

Apparently, my Main Character overheard the flogging of my book during critique, and she sided with my fellow writers.

4. The BYU bookstore was charging $4.76 for those little plastic contact cases.









Seems a little price-gouging for a religious institution.

More details to come on Monday. For now, enjoy the Big Bang Theory's take on Schrodinger's cat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Which Brodi's Book is Drawn and Quartered

*knock knock* Housekeeping
Remember to follow me on Twitter, or link to me, by the end of the week to get entered into a drawing for free books. Thanks to all y'all who've already entered.

We are closing in on the procreating bunnies. My spies say they are nervous, which doesn't necessarily help their cause. 2,000,000 followers, here we come!


My attempt to introduce non-black clothes into my wardrobe status:
After one week, the experiment is a success! As the below picture of the weekly laundry clearly shows.
Do you see it?

CONFERENCE REPORT or MY PUBLIC FLOGGING
So, you remember I'm at the BYU Writing for Young People Conference all week. Well, yesterday, it was my turn for my fellow conference goers to critique my work. (First twenty pages of a new project).

Even though critique sessions are necessary for a better novel, and even though I know my work is far from perfect, I still hate public scrutiny. Remember this post?

The comments started out nice (that's the rule- the first half must be all positive). And then they delved into the harsher stuff, and I was pretty intrigued by the consensus (and by "consensus" I mean 100% of the students agree):


THE PROBLEM WITH MY BOOK...
My fellow writers expected my book to have... a plot. A direction. A purpose.


Not only that, as readers, they wanted to be informed of the plot, direction, purpose.


What is this post-modern world coming to, when readers cannot simply absorb
the mind of the author? Aren't we underestimating them? If I had my way for my next book, I wouldn't put any words on paper. I'd just tell the kids, "The main character's name is Sydney, and she's sixteen. Her parents are dead, of course, because this is YA. Now...close your eyes... and... visualize." Pause. "So, you tell me what happened."

The "plot" debate was quite passionate, and eventually it reached the point every critique session reaches: the instructor asked me (more or less), "Would you like to continue with the verbal part of the critique, or would you prefer the thumbscrews?"
For those who need visuals:


When I couldn't make a decision fast enough (seriously, I know it seems cut and dry, but thumbscrews are painful!) they got together and said, "Let's just take her out back and hit her over the head with a shovel." I was relieved we found a middle ground.

This is my first writer's conference, and now I understand why we had to sign the "Death or Dismemberment" waiver.

But I got to have lunch with James Dashner, so that made me feel a little bit better... At least about his writing ability.
James Dashner always has a plot, because that's how James Dashner rolls.

I have to admit, my fellow writers were correct. Books must have plots. It should probably be a general rule. Somebody write that down.

And my workshop leader - the extraordinary author Martine Leavitt - left me pages of thoughtful handwritten notes about my book. And on one little corner of those notes, one little positive sentence of hers was enough to keep me plugging along. I slept with it under my pillow. When I woke up, it had turned to pixie dust. But I could fly. (I'm in a fantasy workshop, btw. It shows, right?)

Favorite quote of the day: "Write a little bit every day and don't give up for 10 years. If at the end, you are not published, put that book away and start a new one."


Um... anyone have a pair of thumb screws lying around? Anyone?

btw- everyone in my critique group was truly very nice. I don't know if you've noticed, but I tend to exaggerate, especially when it comes to criticism of my person.

ADDED: The book was not the one currently on submission. It's a brand new one.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Let's Make Like Bunnies... and Tons of Free Books

Random Smell status: Something smells in my basement. Status and origin unknown.

Wanna read a free first chapter of an upcoming YA book? Writer sister Bree Despain has been given permission to share the first chapter of her book The Dark Divine (Due on shelves Dec. 09). Check it out.

I'm going to the BYU Writing Conference all week this week.


Best things about going to a conference:
1. No Kids.
2. Did I mention, no kids?
3. No Errands.
4. Hangin' with writer peeps.

Worst things about going to conference:
1. It's at BYU, so no caffeine available. (Yes, I'm still on the wagon, but I prefer to have caffeine in the general vicinity, watching over me.)
2. It's hard enough having friends and family trash my work. But complete strangers? I'm not looking forward to that part.

HELP ME FIGHT THE MAN
So we all know the economy resembles a big pile of cow dung right now, and the publishing industry is no different. Lots of people are saying it's the wrong year to submit a novel to a publisher. To these people, I boldly say, "Oh crap. You're probably right. I suck."

So here's my plan in three small steps:
1. Spread the word about my blog.
2. Those new readers will tell two new people, and then they'll tell two people, and the viewership will multiply like glandular little bunnies.
3. We will arm all of the new followers, and take the publishing industry by force.

Okay, so I was kidding about number 3. But my point is, if it was hard to get a book published before our current econo-slime, it's next to impossible now. So if my name can spread like the Swine Flu, it will increase my chances. They call this "buzz". All I ask is that you don't wash your hands. (Did I take the metaphor too far?)

For those of you who love visual aids, I have made this representational graph, taking into account the "word-of-mouth" speed of my blog readers vs. the mating habits of bunnies. I'm not sure if I got the math right, so someone please check the numbers.


funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Is shooting for 2 million followers in one week delusional? Excellent. I've learned the best way to make friends is by bribing (my mom did it for me during my elementary school years) so I'm going for the same approach to gain this elusive "buzz".

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER, WIN A BOOK

First up, since I am being forcefully immersed in the Twitter-verse, I invite you all to take the trip with me. Everyone who follows me on Twitter by the end of this week will be entered into a drawing to win one of three autographed books.

1. WINGS by Aprilynne Pike (Currently #1 on NYT Bestseller list)




2. THIS IS WHAT I DID by Ann Dee Ellis (A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults)






3. MISS MATCH by Wendy Toliver





LINK TO ME, WIN A BOOK

Next, if you link to me on a blog, or web page by the end of this week, you are entered into another drawing. Just email me the link where the link is located (does that make sense?) and you're entered. email: brosam (at) gmail (dot) com.

Please, get your friends, and friends of friends, and pet bunnies, in on the contest.

1. SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr (A National Book Award Finalist)





2. THE WAY HE LIVED by Emily Wing Smith (Starred Review Publisher's Weekly)





3. Another autographed copy of WINGS by Aprilynne Pike






Anyone else have any ideas? Any marketing/publicity gurus out there?

I shall report on the conference, especially any violence that ensues as a result of gumby-heads talkin' smack about my book. (They call this "constructive criticism." Yeah, right.)

Anyone doing anything fun this week?

Friday, June 5, 2009

In Which Two Ninja Cats Re-enact my Tennis Match... And Good News about my Dad!

I played in my first single's tennis match in, like, 15 years. It was a real cat fight. To demonstrate the results of said match, I hired two cats to act it out. Watch the short video to deduce the outcome. (I'm the black cat, btw).


Funny cat fight - Watch more Funny Videos

After the match, my opponent said, "Never give up. You'll get there eventually."

So I hit her in the head with with my racquet, as any gracious loser would do. It was the first time all night I actually hit the sweet spot. *self-five*

My parents, who came to watch the "Slaughtuh of their Daughtuh '09" congratulated me after the match, and then shared some good news, which I will now share with y'all...

MY DAD'S KICKING PANCREATIC CANCER'S ARSE! Okay, so they didn't use those exact words, but you get the picture.

His latest tumor marker is 26!

To explain what that means:
-Oct. 31st, 2007, diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer (or "PanCan")
-Given stats like "97% chance of death" and "3 to 6 months" and dreck like that. He was all "Whatev's, Them there are fightin' words!"
-Jan 2008- Undergoes "Whipple" surgery (check out my description of this here)

So now, every four months, they check his tumor marker. (Upon diagnosis, his tumor marker was like 3,000). Below 32 is considered normal.

He is 26! Go Dad!

For those of you who prefer pictures to words, I made a representational video. The part of my dad is played by "Chuck Norris", and the part of Pancreatic Cancer is played by "Random Cheesy Dude in White Car."

Check it out.




Finally, as a follow-up to our intellectual discussion regarding covers that thrill and chill versus covers that suck and blow, I decided to post the ones deemed thrilling by our commenters.

Here they are. Many of them came from Writer Peep Kim, who is an awesome blogger and even better writer. (She knows books.)









Truly beautiful covers. I admit to buying every single one of these books.

Enjoy your weekend! I plan on celebrating the number "26" with my Dad. What are y'all doing?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm Never Gonna Blog Again... Guilty Hands have got no Type Skillz. And Some Cover Art

I apologize in advance, this post is kind of ranty...

GUILTY FEET
So, ideas come to me mostly in three different places.

1. In the shower. (By far the most common)
2. Driving in the car.
3. When I'm trying to go to sleep. (These ideas seem totally brilliant at the time, but usually end up being totally useless. Remember this post?)

When I'm working it through in my head, my surroundings tend to get a little blurry, and that's what happened last night when I was driving home. (I know, safe driving, right?)

I was basically auto-bot driving - letting the creative fluids flow - when I started to get a little antsy, and then a little itchy. I pulled at my ears and scratched the back of my head like a dog infested with fleas. Something was clearly buggin', but I was so absorbed in the story in my head, it took me a while to realize just how squidgy I was.

It wasn't until my neck broke out in hives, and I was pulling at the collar of my shirt that I finally left the scene in my head and yelled at my steering wheel, "Why am I so freakin' peeved?!"

Then I noticed the song playing on the radio. Seether's cover of George Michaels' Careless Whisper.

(If you were lucky enough to forget this song, you can refresh your memory below. Otherwise, don't bother)


There was only one way to explain my symptoms; I was having an anaphylactic reaction to the line "Guilty Feet have got no rhythm," because I was subconsciously incorporating it into the dialogue in my head, and I kept thinking to myself, Who says lines like this?

"Rhett, you came back!"

"Yes, Scarlett, but I'm afraid I'm never gonna dance again. It appears guilty feet have got no rhythm."

"Oh. Okay. Did we dance before?"

It was bad enough having to dance to George Michael's version at my seventh grade stomp with Jimmy "Moist Hands" Perry. Now, 5 years... okay, ten years later... give or take...a lot... I have it stuck in my head again.

What does guilt have to do with rhythm? Michael Jackson never had a problem with rhythm, and you'd think if anyone had guilty feet...

I literally pulled a jaw muscle, the incident bugged me so bad.

FAVORITE LINE FROM THE NEWS LAST NIGHT:
"Lightning strikes happen, as this video shows..."

Ummm... thanks for the alert?

FAVORITE "SUMMER THEME," ALSO FROM THE NEWS LAST NIGHT:

"Let's make this a Cryptosporidium-Free Summer!"

Like the "Summer of '69" and the "Boys of Summer", this new theme is just begging for a song.

Whew. Thank you for listening. I feel better now.


BOOK COVERS

So this post veered off topic rather quickly. Originally I wanted to discuss in depth book cover art, but this post is too long already. So, to make a long post short (too late)...

My friend Valynne discovered this blog about look-a-like covers. It's pretty fascinating.

I'm a sucker for a good cover. My all-time favorite cover is for Wicked Lovely.
I will buy any book with a cover like that.

Conversely there is one art theme that makes me scratch behind the ears and pull at my collar: crazy babies.

Now, these books may all be wonderful, but I will never find out.


1. Crazy babies falling from the sky, about to be impaled by a house.
2. Gigantic crazy babies, faceless and coming for me.
3. Babies conspiring against me. Always a strong prophylactic.
What covers do you love? Any that totally stick out?

So, I signed up for a tennis tournament, and my first match is on Thursday night. Sometimes I feel like I'm cruisin' for a bruisin' and I wonder why I put myself through such humiliation. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sometimes Getting a Speeding Ticket is Worth It...

First off, a moment of silence for the man in pink. After 4 consecutive French Open titles, Rafa was ousted by some Swedish dude. Sis-in-law E surmises he was blinded by his own hot pink shirt, and I tend to agree.

The French crowd didn't help either. They never liked Rafa. Suddenly I'm thinking war with France doesn't sound so bad.
Goodbye Mocha Honey. See you at Wimbledon.

Cormac McCarthy VOCABULARY WORD OF THE DAY:

"ISOCLINE"

def
: a fold of strata so tightly compressed that both limbs dip in the same direction.

How does Cormac use such a word?
"At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their millions stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline of death." pic: I know what the "fractal of doom" is, but in my high school calculus class, Mrs. Keir never covered the "isocline of death". I was robbed. If she had, I probably wouldn't have dropped out.

I jest.

How Brodi would have said the same thing:
"A bunch of dead fish lay scattered on the shore." (And I only would have said that after hours of figuring out if it's lay, lied, laid, or lay).

NOTHING AGAINST COPS, BUT SOMETIMES I CAN'T STAND COPS


Someday I'll delve into the specifics about my history with cops, but for now, the latest chapter.

I don't speed. I stay within 5 miles over the speed limit, much to the annoyance of my sister, Erin Gonzalez.

Years ago, I used to speed. But then when I was reporting on a wildfire in Idaho, I passed a competing news van, in a no pass zone, going ten over the speed limit. There may have been a middle finger involved. There definitely was a cop behind me. So, yeah, it was humiliating enough to make me stop speeding.

So the other day, I'm driving up Lincoln Lane, and there's a cop standing in a church parking lot, gunning people. (To be clear, radar gunning. Otherwise, this is a very different story.)

As I approach, he points his finger and motions me to the side of the road.

cop: "Excuse me, ma'am, but you need to slow down. This is a 25 mile per hour zone."

me: "How fast was I going?"


cop: "About 30."


I must interject here. Although, is it really interjecting if I'm only interrupting myself?


Anyway, for someone (like me) who really likes the mantra: "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between the lightning and a lightning bug," I couldn't really get past the whole "
about thirty" thing. (Mark Twain quote, btw)

continuing on...


me: "
About 30? So, not actually 30, right? Maybe more like 28?"

cop (not humored): "It's a 25 mile per hour zone."


me: "Yeah, but isn't that like saying it's "
about a 30 mile per hour zone". " (Inside the car, I'm driving my pen into my thigh in an attempt to force my mouth shut.)

cop: "Just slow down, please."


me: "yessir... [trying not to say anything else, biting my cheek, drawing blood, really trying not to say anything else, and failing]... but you get the distinction, right?"

cop: "Do you want a ticket?"

me: "No thanks. I'll go slower."


He let me off the hook, and I learned a valuable lesson. No more going about 30 (so, really, 28). Instead I'll go about 25. (really, 27). That'll show him... mwah hah hah.


Sadly, this would not have been the first time I talked a cop into giving me a ticket. I'll give you the details some other time, but for now I'll just say $145 for jaywalking in an alley is a little steep, even for the "blond lady with the sharp tongue and threatening behavior."