Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Book Friday, and My Dad's War on Pancreatic Cancer

I love Everyone!

It's Free Book Friday. Find out at bottom how to enter.

1. Team Tamale Update:

Goal: 25,000 words in 14 days

Progress after 2 days: 4,000 words

21,000 more to go. Kapow.

Team Gluten-Intolerant is kicking butt as well, although she did waste three words doing this:
Go Bree Despain, and Team Gluten-Intolerant!

2. Pancreatic Cancer Update

I hate Halloween.

I've probably mentioned this, but 2 years ago, doctors discovered a tumor in my dad's pancreas on Halloween night. Cancer. Anyone know the numbers they throw at you once you've been diagnosed with pancreatic Cancer? It's not a pretty cancer. (As opposed to those beautiful cancers that look like fractals).

But a rock star doctor up at Huntsman Cancer Institute performed a complicated surgery called the Whipple, where they basically took out half of every organ. (The Whipple sounds too pansy. I since renamed the surgery: THE BEASTMASTER or THE VORTEX OF FIRE )
(Sis Erin, Dad, Me up at Huntsman Cancer Institute)

Anywho, against all sorts of odds, he's made it to the two year mark. Every three months, he gets his blood tested for the CA 19-9 protein... AKA "Tumor Marker". So every three months, the specter of cancer hangs over our beds, threatening our sleep, our sanity. We're always just one blood test away from life-changing.

For a year, the tests came back normal.

Then three weeks ago, the test showed an increase in the dreaded Tumor Marker. (Remember that one Friday, three weeks ago, where it took me forever to answer comments? Wait, what am I asking...? that my blog readers remember posts from three weeks ago? Seriously, get over myself!)

I probably don't need to tell you that once the cancer comes back... it ain't good. But I guess I did just tell you.

Sorry. Rambling.

Moving on, they decided to wait three weeks and then repeat the blood test.The day before Halloween. The dreaded Halloween results. Again. ARGH.

Last night, the results showed that we're still in the game! Tumor Marker came down! If the cancer was back, you'd expect it to go up steadily. It came down to funky town.

*Punches fist in the air- imagining she looks like Bruce Lee, but admitting she probably looks more like Cloris Leachman reaching for her next drink...*

So, I had to resurrect one of my favorite videos. The video shows two cats reenacting my Dad's battle with Pancreatic Cancer. My dad is the orange cat. Pancreatic Cancer is the black cat.

Funny cat fight - Watch more Funny Videos

3. My kids went to a Halloween party the other night, where they won three goldfish. Real, live, actual goldfish.
(Kid C as the Grim Reaper. Kid B as Winnie the Pooh. Sorta looks like the Grim Reaper is about to capture the Pooh, doesn't it?)

The goldfish came in little plastic ziplock baggies, and every time I tried to grab hold of Kid B's bag, he'd step back and shake the bag at me in a very threatening gesture. I'd say, "Be soft," and he'd start sqeezing the bag. I shadowed him all night, trying to keep that stupid goldfish alive.

He even ate while holding onto the bag. At one point, he reached for a donut and forgot he was holding the fish, and the bag went splatting to the ground.

Against all odds, all three fish are alive and swimming around my mixing bowl.

My Dad. My Goldfish. Despite the numbers, everyone's alive!

On a related note... anyone know how to kill goldfish and make it look like an accident?

Free Book Friday
To enter, leave me a comment and shout a big giant woo hoo for my dad! Those of you who left a comment on Bree's blog per Monday's request are already entered, but give me a woo hoo anyway.

Happy Halloween. What are y'all going as?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anatomy of an Author Smackdown and FBF Winner

1. FBF Winner

Smokey the Hairless Cat clawed two winners out of the pile this week. We tried to extract one of them from his pointy claws, but he was having none of that.

Jenni Elyse

Pick your top three choices from the picture below (I have them all autographed, and also I have Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick) and email me your address. (Email address on sidebar).

Everyone who left a comment on Bree's blog will be entered in this week's FBF.

2. For those of you who followed the blog or Twitter over the last 48 hours, you may have heard that the
Author Chimichanga Smackdown of '09 is on.

a: Our blog challenged Bree Despain to write 45 pages of her sequel to The Dark Divine by next Monday. (5 days from now).
*We left threatening messages on her blog and Twitter.

*If she doesn't come through, we get to break her kneecaps. (To be fair, we can only do this by throwing pea gravel at her knees from 3 yards away. No hammers. But we will stay as long as it takes to break a kneecap.)
*If she succeeds, we raise the stakes, with an even crazier demand.

b: Some of you (who shall remain nameless... Okay, it was Una. And Lulabell) suggested Bree dish back my own medicine. So she has upped the ante.

*She demanded that I finish my new novel "Broken" in the next two weeks. Or she will sic her giant New Zealand Cousin's after me. (Their preferred method is ripping my leg hairs out, one hair at a time, until I am dead.)

c: F.O.B. Una asked what an "author throw down" consists of.
I'll tell you:
*First, we chuck unnecessary adverbs at each other. Mightily. and Awesomely.
*Then, we attach dangling participles to the ends of braided ropes, and we crack the whips like a lion-tamer.
*The whole thing looks really lame, and ranks just under Star Wars fanboys doing Chewbacca impersonations, and just above Trekkies playing Klingon Uno.

To finish my book, I'd estimate I have to write 25,000 more words. 275 words per page, so that translates into roughly 90 pages. In 14 days. Which is about 7 pages per day.

7 pages a day. What do you think? Do you think I can do it?

Current Word Count: 40,000

Goal: 65,000

Here's the thing:
In order to do this, I sorta have to shut myself off from the world for a bit. I may have to call in a couple of surprise guest bloggers. (Don't worry, I'll get either authors or well-established bloggers, or people I think are really funny, or my mailman.) Because we are a team at this blog (Team Tamale), and we are challenging Bree's blog (Team Gluten-Intolerant), I would like to put it to a vote.

Are you with me on the Chimichanga Challenge?
Will you still be here at the end of the two weeks?
Do these pants make my butt look fat?

Please keep leaving encouraging/threatening comments on Bree's blog. She loves them!

3. Decoding Sam

We were at Nephew A's birthday party the other night, when I overheard Hubby Sam talking to my sister's Mother-in-law and Father-in-law.

In-laws: "You and Brodi only have two kids. Isn't it time you had another?"

Sam (laughing because we get this question all the time): "No. If I have any more kids, it's not going to be with Brodi. It's going to be with another woman."

Huh? Usually we're all like, "No, our family's done. Perfect size."
What do you think Sam meant by this? Do you think I should incorporate the silent treatment? Or will that just encourage him to go find another baby-maker?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Answers to the Mysterious Blood, and the Best Way to Deal With Writer's Block

Happy Monday Y'all.

1. Pool of Blood Update:
I think some of you were under the impression that the pool of blood from last friday's post was a mere few drops. I should've put a ruler next to the picture, because the entire spatter was probably a foot long. I did some checking in at the police station for what could've possibly happened. According to police reports, some sort of mystical being - whom eye-witnesses say was dressed all in white with white feathery objects sticking out of its back - spontaneously bled out right on that spot.

At the same time, 9-1-1 was flooded with phone calls about a canine with watery eyes and a whimper that would break your heart.

So, I guess it is true: Every time a puppy cries, an angel dies.

(Is that a real saying, or did I just make that up?)
Ha ha. I'll be here all night. Did I tell you the one about where the Priest, the Rabbi, and the Pope walk into a bar? And the horse says, "Why the long face?"

2. My weekend:

The writer peeps and I went to the Costco in Lehi for a book signing. Author Becca Fitzpatrick was there, signing copies of her debut YA novel "hush, hush". Dark, creepy, paranormal romance. (You hear that, Cam?) I can't wait to read it.

There's a chance a couple of copies will make their way into the Free Book Friday pile this week...

Afterward, we were hangin' in the parking lot, chatting. Read that as: I was trying to push my cart to my car, but Bree Despain was blocking the aisle so I couldn't move.

You see, Bree is sorta, kinda, just the tiniest bit... freakin' nuts. She's got a deadline approaching for her sequel, and simple words like "and" and "the" just aren't coming to her.

Valynne and I were giving her a pep talk in the parking lot. I tried to be quietly encouraging, but it wasn't working.

So, out of nowhere, I shout: "Gimme me 25 pages by next Saturday, or I'll break your legs!"

She gave me a hopeful look: "Really? You would do that for me?"

Me: "Yeah. I totally know a guy."

Bree: "I don't know if I can do it."

Me: "If you don't, I have a powerful blog, and I know how to use it. I'll spread lies."

Bree: "You would never."

Me (shouting in a parking lot near Provo, site of the BYU Cougars, just before their homecoming football game, packed with snack-buyers): "Bree hates B-Y-U! She thinks Cougars are Pansies!"

Her: "Shhhhh


Understand that there was a guy wandering the parking lot, selling hot tamales out of a plastic zip-lock bag. I didn't realize that when I yelled this, he was right behind us. So, Mr. Tamale Guy, I apologize. No offense to tamales. I am a friend of the tamales.

But I was serious about invoking the power of the blog. Bree needs to know that we are a formidable blog, and we follow through on our threats. Because she was all, "Your blog readers don't have the guts!" And then we threw down right then and there.

So, I thought it would be nice if y'all went over to her blog and left her a cryptic comment. Something along the lines of, "I'm watching you..." or "I know a tamale guy..." If you do, you'll be automatically entered in the FBF drawing this week. (But leave me a comment and let me know you if you did, so I'll know which commenters were from me.)

BTW, I upped the demand to 45 pages from Bree by one week from today. For bad behavior.

3. I thought shaving kits were fool-proof.

So, I've been cutting the kids' hair. Yesterday, Sam's all, "Cut my hair."

I'm like, "I don't think that's such a good idea. Remember last time? the infamous 'bald patch of 09'?"

He says, "Cut my hair. I demand it."

Last time I cut it, the sides were a little long. I didn't know they had those nifty slanted left/right ear attachments until after I cut it. So this time, I used the attachments. Here's the result. Why is guy hair so hard to cut? And why is Sam so stubborn when I suggest he fill it in with a black sharpie for a couple of days?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Book Friday, Utah Book Awards, and a Mysterious Pool of Blood

It's Free Book Friday. Read to the bottom to find out how to enter. (It's easy, again.)

Utah Book Awards
Last night, BFF Emily Wing Smith won the Utah Book Award for The Way He Lived. She proved she did not expect to win, because at the awards ceremony, when her name was called, she hadn't written an acceptance speech.

She still did a great job.
Emily Wing Smith, Em's Dad, Sara Zarr

Unflappable Sara Zarr was also a nominee for her book Sweethearts, and it was so good to see them both up on stage. Fabulous night. If you get a chance, go tell Emily Wing Smith and Sara Zarr congratulations!

Writer peeps Bree Despain, Kimberly Reid, Sara Bolton and Valynne Nagamatsu were on hand to scream and cheer.

(me, Valynne, Sara B., Bree, Emily)

We were supposed to dress up a little, and so I wore heels for the first time in a year. I soon remembered why I don't wear heels. My feet were killing me.

So after the event, we decided to go to Gourmandies for dessert. About a 3 block walk. In my killer shoes. Not killer as in "hawt", but killer as in "tip-toeing across a bed of nails."

For the rest of the post, I thought it would be fun to see how well y'all know the blog. So I devised a multiple choice test. Let me know how you do.

When my feet can't take anymore abuse, I decide to
a) switch shoes with Bree
b) hop on Sara B.'s back
c) take my shoes off and walk barefoot for the 3 blocks to the restaurant

The answer is: c. Emily Wing Smith talked me into it. Strange enough, she was okay with me walking in the filth of 3rd East, but she told me to push the crosswalk button with my elbow. To avoid germs.

On the walk, I almost step in:
a) a pile of broken glass
b) a pool of blood
c) bird poop

If you answered all of the above, you are correct. But we were definitely most intrigued with the pool of blood.
Puddle of Blood

After several discussions about whether or not it was really blood, including such words as "viscosity consistent with the consistency of blood" (we felt very smart after that sentence) we decided to examine it. I took a paper from my purse and dipped it.

After Brodi dips the paper in the blood, Valynne proceeds to :
a) smell it
b) bring it under the light for a closer look
c) throw it away
Valynne sniffs out the truth

This one should be obvious. She smells it. But we soon realize none of us really know what blood smells like.

When Valynne smells it, Bree shouts:
a) AIDS!
b) Hepatitis!

Yep. All of the above. She basically yelled these three phrases over and over on the entire walk to and from the restaurant. She just varied the order.

Upon unfolding the paper with the blood on it, Brodi discovers the random paper she pulled from her purse was:
a) a receipt from recent AAA visit
b) a love letter from Sherman Alexie
c) Kid C's handwritten story about his mom

If you guessed C, you'd be right. My purse if full of 98% junk, 2% valuables. Of course I picked the valuable paper.

By the way, his story goes like this: "Once Upon a Time, my mom was awesome. I see pot." I've had it in my purse for months. Classic.

After the story is besmirched with blood, I:
a) throw it away
b) wipe it off on the grass
c) tear the bloody part off, chuck it in front of a lawyer's office, and take off.

The answer is: b, then c. We just happened to be in front of a lawyer's office on our walk home from Gourmandies.

After I throw it on the doorstep of the lawyer's office, Emily says, "Wait. ----"
a) Don't litter."
b) That can't be sanitary."
c) Fingerprints!"

Thankfully, Emily has my personal freedom in mind. It's C. To keep me from being implicated in a murder, she kicks the paper into the bushes.

On the way to our cars, Emily Wing Smith suggests her hubby Dan can carry me, because of his:
a) Strong muscles
b) Asian heritage
c) Gymnast heritage

The answer: c
Emily and her hubby Dan

At dinner, Brodi makes a confession:
a) She didn't know Emily's hubby was Asian
b) She had a high school boyfriend who licked her toes
c) Her pants fell down at the awards ceremony when she stepped over the row of chairs to get to her seat

Ummm... all three. Thankfully I was wearing a sweater that covered my behind.

Which word is uttered at dinner, followed by hysterical laughter:
a) Boobs
b) Seaman
c) Rectal

Okay, it's all of the above. What can I say? We're all twelve years old.

So, to enter into the Free Book Friday contest, answer the following questions:
1. Do you think it was blood?
2. Do you have any theories as to what happened?
3. Do you know any blood spatter experts?
4. Can you see any images in the blood? Virgin Mary? Mickey Mouse?

If you turn the picture on its side, I think it resembles a scorpion. I don't know what this means.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What I'm Reading, What I'm Writing, and FBF Winner Announced

FBF Winner:

Jill of the O.W.L.

Please email me your top three choices from the picture below to brosam (at) gmail (dot) com. (Hint: I'm out of Maze Runner). Don't forget to include your address.

What I'm reading:
I just finished Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr. Loved it.

It's about a Pastor's daughter, whose family is already in crisis when her neighbor is kidnapped. During the ordeal, she struggles with her beliefs, her faith, and her fears.

I loved the writing, and the main character asked the same questions I think all of us have asked in our lives.

Excellent read.

What I'm Writing:
WIP (Work in Progress) is at 39,000 words. That's about 178 pages. I'm trying to just finish the darn thing before I edit, but I can't help editing. So I'm stating it here and now: I will finish by the end of November. You hear me? I expect you all to hold me to it.

So, what are y'all reading and writing?

1. Kid C is home sick from school today. First time he's ever missed school due to illness. It's gonna be a long day. This morning, when I was giving him his medicine, and he was psyching himself up for it, he said under his breath, "Oh Tummy. You are not going to like this..."

Yeah, sucks to be you, Tummy!

2. Kid C is in a children's program at our church, where each child gets to stand up to the microphone and say a part. I had several other adults tell me they couldn't wait for Kid C's turn, because he is notorious for inappropriate microphone use. (One time, he screamed, "Jesus loves elephants!" I don't know where he comes from.)

So I go over and over his part with him.

When it's Kid C's turn to speak, he leans in close to the microphone and says his part, word for word... all in "burp talk". You know, where someone burps the alphabet?

Everyone laughs.

I rush the podium and whisk him out of the room, all the while trying to think of a threat that would make sense to Kid C. I couldn't say, "You want to miss the program?" Because he would inevitably say, "Yes."

We get to the hallway and I crouch down so I'm face to face with him, and I say, "What you just did? You weren't only being disrespectful. You were being a... big meanie to... your teachers... and Jesus."

I bit the inside of my cheek trying not to think about what I just said. Kid C, who has a pretty good sense of humor, looked like he was going to crack, and then we were both laughing hysterically.

Anyone else cringe when their kid has the microphone?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three Freaky Things: A.K.A. If a Crab Mated with a Spider, it would look like this...

Good Monday. This blog post will be short, because F.O.B. (friend of the blog) "H" said my post on Friday was too freakin' long, and she didn't even bother reading it because of the length. I'd insert something terribly clever here, in an effort to show "H" how every word on my blog has a place, but I am striving for brevity.

So, on with the blog. (I'm thinking that was the longest introduction ever to the actual post. Sorry.)

In the Spirit of Halloween:

The Top Three Things that Scared the Boogers out of me This Weekend. (Never fear, Sam was on booger-cleanup, so we didn't have to burn down the house).

*Warning: The third thing has a crazy-arse picture of the eight-legged variety, so if my last spider post made you vomit your own heart, don't look. Consider yourself warned.

1. Saw Paranormal Activity.

Proof that a movie doesn't need a big budget to be freaky. Also proof that the scariest monsters are the ones you don't see... dun dun dunnnn. Also proof that ouija boards are never a good idea. Also, if something is haunting you, don't antagonize it. Oh yeah, one more thing. Always keep baby powder on hand at home, just in case... wait. I don't want to spoil it for you.

Anyone else see it? If so, let me know what you thought.

2. Did I ever mention I have an itty-bitty fear of plants? Not flowers, or grass, or that sort of stuff. No, I'm scared of anything that a. grows freakishly fast. b. wraps itself around another plant c. clings to stuff.

Like Japanese Junk Trees that sprout over 7 feet high in under a week? I scream like a little girl. Don't even get me started on mushrooms that pop up overnight.

So, you can imagine the fear in my heart when I walked into the playroom downstairs and found this...The outside vine had found a way in! The window was closed, and locked, but the little bugger came through the wall. Did you hear that? Came through the wall. Just looking for a cankle to wrap its tentacles around.

3. Okay, this is my favorite. Some neighborhood girls found a spider in our apple tree. It's back was huge, and its web looked like balls of cotton. Hubby and Neighbor R captured the thing in a jar, but not before it posed for this stellar pic. Prepare yourselves...

*Added: Yes, this is the actual spider we found. Neighbor "R" took the picture.

Is that the creepiest crawly you've ever seen? At first we thought it was a baby spider sac on its back. But after some trusty Google work, we discovered it's a Crab Spider. Have you ever seen anything like it? I haven't.

So, how was all y'all's weekend? Anything fun? Anything Halloweenie?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Coolest Story Ever about Sherman Alexie. Okay, The Coolest story ever that invovles me. There are only two. Of the two, this one's the Coolest.

It's Free Book Friday! Answer the question at the bottom to enter this week.

For those of you who thought Smokey wasn't really my cat, and he was just some loser hairless cat I found on the internet, here's the proof.

Of course, I had to pluck out my right eyeball shortly after this pic was taken because Smokey tried to lick it.

Mr. Alexie
I saw Sherman Alexie speak at The King's English Wednesday night. You guys remember how much I gushed about him in L.A.? It is so big that he came to TKE to talk about his new book War Dances. It was easily the biggest crowd I've seen at their next door art gallery.
At times inappropriate (He told a joke about... um... nevermind) and at others raucous (especially when he smack-talked our own Ute Indians), his speech had people holding their bellies, laughing so hard. Like a stand up comedian. That funny.
Okay, I've been holding it in for way too long. I have to tell you the coolest part of the whole night.

So, I park about a block down from TKE, on the street, and as I get out of my car and onto the sidewalk, guess who's right there? Walking next to me? All by his lonesome? Sherman Alexie.

I don't know how y'all act around famous people, but believe it or not, I get very shy. So I smile at him, and sorta look at the ground. (Which is lame, because I'm walking toward TKE, books in hand. It's obvious I'm here to see him speak. I could at least say hi.)

Get this. He's a little ahead of me, and he immediately turns around and says, "I met you in L.A., didn't I?"

There were like 2,000 other people he met there too.

So I'm all, "Um, yes Mr. Alexie."

He points at me. "Now, don't tell me your name..."

Me (incredulous): "Oh gosh, there's no way you could remember my-"

Him: "Brodi. Right?"

Me (silent as I listen for a loud crack in the universe that I'm sure is coming): Mouth hangs open. Breathing gets rapid. Hyper-Brodi emerges from her cocoon inside my chest, where she's been buried since the sixth grade, when Matt Nance said her ears were so tiny and cute, and she got all twitterpated and couldn't stop panting.

Me: "Mr. Alexie. You. Just. Made. My. Life. I feel like a Beatle just remembered my name."

Him (laughing): "You and your friends were the ones in the t-shirts, right?"

I gasp as if he just handed me a billion dollar bill. I reach down to unbutton my sweater, and then flash him my red t-shirt. Okay, he may have backed up a step, because I sorta looked like a crazy trenchcoat flasher. He was noticeably relieved when I, indeed, had a shirt on under there, with the word "Violent" in bold black letters.

Him: "That's right. You're violent. And your friends were..."

Me: "Blasephemous and Inappropriate! Blasephemeous and Inappropriate!" Passers by were probably wondering why the blond chick had stopped Sherman Alexie on the sidewalk to shout "Blasephemous and Inappropriate!" at him.

Sherman Alexie Gems during his speech:

*He got in trouble at BEA for saying he wanted to beat up a woman because she had a Kindle. He says, "Apparently, Kindle readers don't understand metaphors."

*With a Kindle, there is no foreplay. (He proceeds to stroke the spine of his book).

*Talking about people who were bored by his speech and wanted to sneak out early, he says, "But you think to yourselves, 'If I leave everyone will think I'm a racist'."

*He wonders why every time he does an event, women feel compelled to wear turquoise jewelry.

*He says liberals in Utah have as much power as an amoeba on an amoeba on a tick clinging to a deer's ... um... bum. Then he quips, "But it's beautiful here."

*He jokes about living in Seattle. In his son's elementary school, there are "78 Lesbian couples who all adopted Asian girls, and all named them 'Grace'." So if you're sitting in class, chances are you're sitting by an Asian girl named "Grace Ming-Na Lowenstein."

*He called out Emily Wing Smith and led the entire audience in a chorus of Happy Birthday.

Later, I was in line behind Sara Zarr to get my book autographed. (Sara Z. and Sherman are peeps, you see, because that's how Sara Z kicks it. She told a story about how she heard Sherman speak maybe 6 years before her first book was published, and at the time she never, not in a googolian years, could've imagined the two of them would meet again as colleagues and nominees at the National Book Awards). I hope she blogs about that.

Anyway, so she's all huggy with Sherman, and then he gets to me and my book, remembers how to spell my name, and signs it like "To Brodi- Still the Coolest Name Ever, Sherman Alexie".

I stand there awkwardly for a moment.

Me: "I'm... I'm... speechless."

Sara Z (without missing a beat): "And that's saying something."
(Sherman Alexie, laughing at my joke. In fact, I said "This is Sherman Alexie, laughing at my joke" as I took the picture)

I learned something about Sara Zarr that night. She seems unflappable. Of course, she's real friends with Sherman Alexie (not dream friends, like me) but I really can't imagine Sara Z. ever flappable. We went to the Dodo afterward for Emily's birthday, and she didn't flap once.

After the Sherman "Name-Recall" incident, Hyper-Brodi talks to Unflappable Sara Zarr, and it can be summed up as follows:

Me: "Sara! Did I tell you about Sherman-""

Her: "Yes."

Me: "The one where he remembered my name?"

Her: "Yes."

Me: "Did I show you the street? Where he walked, and I walked, and we walked together, and I flashed him my chest?"

Her: "Yes."

Me: "Oh good. Wait a sec. We haven't left the building. How could I have shown you the street? Silly Sara. You want me to show you now?"

Her: "It's okay."

Me: "Hey Sara. Did I tell you Valynne got me Good 'n Plenty's for my b-day? I love them so much."

Her: "I hate black licorice."

Me: "Black licorice is supposed to be an upper."

Her: "Valynne got you an upper? Hmmm..."

Me: "Hey Sara. I bet if you eat a million Good 'n Plenty's for a million days in a row, you'll acquire the taste."

Her: "No."

Me: "Hey Sara. Did you see how Sherman Alexie signed my book? He laughed at my joke. He thinks I'm so funny. I would totally date him. Just kidding. He's married. He's married, right?"

So how do y'all handle brushes with your own idols? Are you unflappable like Sara Z.? Or do you shake it like a bowl full of jelly in the presence of greatness, as I do? Answer, and you'll be entered in the drawing for a free book from my autographed book shelf.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three FBF Winners this Week, and My List of Things That Must Go

Smokey the cat was very magnanimous this week. He refused to draw just one name. Instead, he drew three. So, Three Winners of Free Book Friday this week!

1. Heids
2. Becky
3. Jenilyn

Email me your top three choices and your address at brosam (at) gmail (dot) com.

It's Wednesday. How about an edition of my list of things that must go:

Thing 1. Stress Dreams

I’m used to having stress dreams every night, but last night’s dream got a little out of hand…

It all started when I was too impatient to wait for the elevator in a hotel. To speed things up, I shimmy down the hotel atrium on a line of bed sheets.

Then the hotel security guys corner me, and threaten to kick me out of the hotel for such a bone-arse move.

I say: "Don’t you know who I am? I’m Brodi Ashton."

I proceed to dance for them, flailing my arms about, sorta like a banshee.

But I can see this is not working. They don't know who I am.

The chase is on. I dart into the hotel restaurant, but the dining area has one construction flaw. The only way in or out is to walk on top of the tables.

I do this, apologizing all the way, and explaining to every diner that usually I get paid to dance on top of tables, and isn’t tonight their lucky night. I get to a hallway that leads to the elevators. But when the doors open, the inside car is 2 cubic feet.

I squeeze in successfully, all except my right foot. So, naturally, I chop it off and hit the button that says ‘roof’ on it.

A man is waiting for me on the roof, and as soon as I get off, he tells me I’m late, and ushers me to this amphitheater like that giant one in L.A. (Of course, I’m limping because of the missing appendage).

I get on the stage, and I start dancing for the audience, balancing on the stubby bone protruding from my cankle, spinning around it like a whirling dervish on a top.

My hair is long, thank goodness, because by this point all my clothes are gone.

The conductor urges me to start singing, but when I open my mouth, a bug crawls out. Then another. Then another.

Someone please interpret this dream for me. I honestly woke up thinking to myself Brodi, you are one seriously messed up chica.

Thing 2. Acronyms for television shows.

ANTM, HIMYM, SYTYCD, RHWONJ, DWTS, GG. Maybe I’m not meant for the texting generation, but I can never figure out what the darn show is. I sit there going, “Okay. ‘A’. What could A stand for? Ants. Albuquerque. Aardvark.”

Thing 3. Expiration Dates for Canned Goods.

I found a can of baked beans in my pantry the other day. Expiration date: Oct 2000.

Now, since Oct 2000, we’ve lived in London, Washington, D.C., and Salt Lake City. Which means I must have carted this can around every time we moved. Which sounds about right, since I don’t remember buying baked beans. I don’t even liked baked beans. But Canned Goods should be eternal foods, shouldn’t they?

Thing 4. Wobbly Tables at Restaurants.

You know those tables that clank back and forth every time you put your elbows on top? Or reach for your drink?

I had one of those tables at lunch yesterday. I kept folding up pieces of paper from my purse and shoving it underneath the platform on the floor, until it was floating on a bed of crumpled paper, but it never fixed the problem.

So, what must go for you this week?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kid C Makes his Straightest Line Yet... and Does anyone know how to quit a Good 'N Plenty Habit?

Happy Monday. Anyone do anything fun over the weekend?

1. A Couple Contests

F.O.B. Cranberry Fries is hosting a
Free Business Cards Giveaway. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment.

Doug Cootey is instigating his own Free Book Fridays on his blog. Again, to enter, comment.

2. Sam brought out the Happenings Book on Friday, so I knew we were in for a treat, and I could've bet my left pinky toe the cuisine would be along the lines of Indian and Pakistani. (When Sam splurges, as he does on Happenings Book Fridays, it's always about the curry.)

We ordered from Himalayan Kitchen downtown, and we were a bit early, so Sam asked if we could stop by that Smith's on 500 South, 500 East which, for all of you non Salt-Lakers, means a very interesting crowd.

I didn't want to stop, because I'm the sort of person where if I've walked out of my house, and just locked the door, and I'm going to lunch, and I realize I left my purse inside, I won't bother to unlock the door again and walk inside to get the purse.

Yes, I'm that lazy, and I'm that impatient.

So I had no desire to go shopping. But Sam lured me in by saying we were out of Good 'N Plenty, and he wanted to restock. (I'm having a real problem with Good 'N Plenty lately. It's black licorice, covered in a candy shell, and it's been around since probably the 30's, and it's an acquired taste, but once you do acquire it, it's like crack. I have to have Good 'N Plenty. I don't even like it anymore. But I have to gnaw on the outer candy shell, until there's just the black licorice left, then I bite it lengthwise, and continue the process until it's gone.)

Seriously, does someone know of some sort of chemical in black licorice that turns me into a skanky-lookin' crack chick? Maybe it's more like tobacco, because I stick a bunch in my cheek, and chaw on it during church, so I don't have to constantly bring a new one up to my lips. Cuz that would be embarrassing. The inside of my cheek actually looks like a pizza burn.

Where was I? Happenings Book, Himalayan Kitchen, white-trash Smith's, skanky-lookin crack chick... oh yeah.

So, I'm waiting in the car with Kid C and Kid B, looking around at all the lonely people, judging, I must admit.

When suddenly, Kid B screams to be let out of the car. I finally let him out into the parking lot, and he starts lowering his pants and undoing his diaper. Yes, it was that kind of diaper.

Those of you who know me know that if Sam is in a 2 mile radius of a diaper, I defer to him to change it. (He is after all the man of the house, and I would hate to take away any duties.)

So I'm all: "No no. put it back on. let's run inside and find Sam."

We run inside, with Kid B's bum coverage leaving a little to be desired. We call to Sam. Meanwhile, Kid C clamps a hand over his crotch, saying, "I have to go pee, now!"

We find Sam, pay for the stuff, and all make it back to the car, where Sam proceeds to take care of Kid B's diaper right next to the car. Kid C disappears for a minute.

Finally, we're ready to go.

Me: "Kid C, do you still have to potty?"

Kid C: "Nope."

We pull out, and I see this.

Yep, that's just about Kid C pee-stream height.

me (pointing to the wall): "Kid C, did you do that?"

Kid C: "I tried to make a straight line, Brodi. Really I tried."

Good 'N Plenty Crack chick, running through the Smith's with one kid whose diaper is half-on, half-off, the other kid yelling about going pee, changing a diaper in the asphalt of the parking lot, with other kid peeing on the wall, and then all of us taking off under the exhaust cloud of shame.

It's a good thing we didn't stay long in the white trash Smith's, considering we were apparently the only white trash there.

Not only that, Sam forgot the Good 'N Plenty. Anyone out there have a source?

Oh well. It might be time to kick the habit.

Anyone out there have a pee-on-the-wall kind of day ever? Please tell me I'm not the only one this happens to.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Free Book Friday, and a Recap of James Dashner's Launch Party

Good Morrow yon bloggerland. It's Free Book Friday! Find out how to enter at the bottom. They're just a bunch of questions again.

1. I went to James Dashner's launch party Tuesday night for The Maze Runner.

James spoke to a crowd of young fans. He talked about his own road to publication, and then he read an excerpt from the book.In the excerpt were the following words: bulbous creature, glistening flesh, buggin, instrument-tipped appendages protruded from its body... and undies.

If that doesn't make you want to read the book, I don't know what will. And that was only two pages.

Oh, and he also talked about two influential books from his childhood: Ender's Game and LOTF. (LOTR's lesser known cousin, Lord of the Flies). He also named a character "Newt", inspired by Aliens.

Congratulations, James! Go and be successful.

2. Afterward we went to The Dodo (I know, I'm totally boring and predictable) and that's where I found out Sara no longer tells her husband Ben what we talk about at these things. She just points him to my blog.

So, sorry if you're sick of the list of highlights, but Ben is desperate to know what went down, and Sara's not talkin'.
(Bree Despain, James, Me. I tried to make me skinnier, but then James disappeared, so I reverted to the original.)


*Emily Wing Smith talks about "chafing".

*The entire table can't believe Emily brought up the subject. They take a spontaneous vote as to who would be most likely to bring up the subject of "chafing" at the dinner table. The vote is unanimous, and it's not Emily.

*I demand a recount.

*Bree's husband Brick starts a sentence with the words, "According to the Gossip Girls..." Yes, he is a man.

*West Valley is dubbed "Jersey" to Salt Lake's "New York." I know, I don't understand it either. But apparently it's from the Tao of the Gossip Girls.

*James accuses me of buying too many copies of The Maze Runner. He tells management that if they run out, I should be forced to give up my copies.

*Nobody likes James.

*James admits he doesn't have a catchphrase to go along with his autograph. My suggestion of "Be a-MAZE-ing" is ignored.

*When I give the lady at the door my name Brodi Ashton (for the autograph), she says, "Okay. And would you like one for yourself?" Me: "Yes." Her: "And your name?" Me (thinking I must've gotten it wrong last time): "Umm... Brodi Ashton." Her: "Okay, and did you want one for yourself?" Me (looking around for the hidden camera): "Yes... for Brodi Ashton?" Her: "So you don't want one for yourself?" Yeah, it takes me that long to realize she doesn't get my name is Brodi.

*Douglas Cootey promises to paint his nails and squee in public for an Advanced Copy of Bree Despain's The Dark Divine. She agrees.

*I offer to do a jig for a copy. She declines.

*I tell Emily Wing Smith she has tiny ears. She replies: "You must have me confused with you." Yes, I get us mixed up all the time. We're like twins.

*There is a lengthy discussion of preferred underwear.

*Valynne suggests we bedazzle t-shirts. Sara suggests we stencil t-shirts. Hands down, these suggestions are the least likely to ever occur in the history of suggestions at our dinner table. Emily looks at them as if they are speaking Cantonese.

*I get a little angry when someone swipes the last two lemon bars out from under me.

*James promises he'll buy a bunch of copies of my book.

*Everybody likes James.

*Bree complains she never says anything that makes it to my blog. Can I help it if everything she says is always incredibly, over-the-top appropriate? And that would be so inappropriate for a blog such as this.

*Someone is called out for butting in line.

*Okay, it was me.

3. Check out Matt Kirby's blog for a very cool Carl Sagan video: Cosmos set to music. It's psychedelic. Upon first viewing, you think: "Oh. Sorta cool." But then you find excuses to watch it again, and again, and again, until the phrase "Not a sunrise, but a Universe rise" is running through your head like the ticker-tape on Wall Street, and then you find yourself craving the video, as if it were a Diet Coke on a Monday morning.

So, watch it with caution.

4. To enter this week's FBF (Free Book Friday) answer the following questions.

1. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
2. If you could buy a second home, anywhere in the world, where would you buy it?
3. Do you have a "cause"? If so, what is it?
4. Thing that must go.

To be fair, I'll answer them too.

1. I'd change my last name to Capote. Brodi Capote.
2. London
3. Yes. To get more people to buy books... And... World Peace.
4. the lard in my butt.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Faced With A Teaching Moment, Brodi Fails Miserably... and FBF Winners

FBF Winners
Two winners today:

1. Jenny Jackson
2. Greg and Kimberly

email me your top three choices (from the new picture below) and your addresses. brosam (at) gmail dot com.

1. So lately Kid C has been obsessed with Good vs. Evil, and he has taken this theme and used it to view Jesus vs. Satan.

Kid C: “Brodi, you’re the best.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Kid C: “Wanna know who’s not the best?”

Me: “Who?”

Kid C: “Satan.”

I nod my head. You can’t argue with that.

And the other day, in the car, Kid C was worried we were going to run out of gas. He kept begging me to go get gas, and when I told him we had plenty, he mumbled, “Jesus has more gas than you.”

He’s also become aware that there are evil people in the world. He was trying to come to terms with this fact last weekend in the car. Sam and I tried to be dutiful parents and help him out.

Kid C: “There are mean people in the world, right?”

Me: “Yep. Unfortunately, there are too many mean people.”

Kid C (looking around): “But I can’t see them anywhere.”

Me: “Yeah, usually you can’t see them.”

Kid C: “So if I can’t see them, they’re not there. If I can’t see them, that means there are no mean people.”

At this teaching moment, Sam and I both started to speak. Sam assumed we were both going to say the same thing, and, being a gentleman, deferred to me to speak.

So I turn around to Kid C and say: “C, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. For example, just because you can’t see the bogeyman in your closet at night doesn’t mean-”

Sam cuts me off: “Bro!”

Me: “What?”

Sam: “I was thinking this would be a good time to teach him something about faith.”

Kid C: “Who’s in my closet?”


Me: “No one, buddy. You need to have faith that no one is in your closet at night.”

2. And now, please participate in a little survey:

Recently I had a couple people ask me what the secret is to getting people to comment.

My answer: I haven't the slightest idea. So I thought I would pose the question to all y'all. What makes you comment on someone's blog? Do you have to feel comfortable? Do you answer questions? Do you only comment when aliens with bananas are mentioned? (Sorry, that's just a personal rule) Do you only comment if it's a contest? Would you rather snort cinnamon juice than comment, and no amount of bananas and aliens is gonna change your mind?

Let me know, if you get a chance. And let me say thanks to all of you who make the comments section such a fun discussion forum. Or snarkfest. Or whatever it is we do in the comments section.

I'll have a rundown of the James Dashner event on Friday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Clowns and Zombies, to Brighten any Monday

Happy Monday Y'all.

My kids have the day off of school. Again. Using my trusty tweezers, turkey baster and paperclip, I plan on going all MacGyver on their bums by escaping my house on a zipline that will take me directly to the Magic Kingdom.

Or maybe we'll just go to McDonald's.

1. I received plenty of books for my birthday, and gift cards to B&N. But these two books made me laugh because of how the givers made their decisions.

Emily Wing Smith gave me "Little Brother". She knew it was for me, because one of the blurbs says it's "a rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion."

Sis-in-law E gave me "Z.E.O. A Zombie's Guide to Getting A(Head) in Business". She said it was between that and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

I guess I'm easily characterized. Brodi Ashton. Zombie Geek.

2. I never scream during movies.

But last Friday, Sam and I went to see a zombie movie. Yes, there were plenty of zombie surprises of the sort where the main character closes the mirror and the zombie's face pops up. None of those moments scared me enough to elicit a scream.

I didn't scream until something even scarier popped up in the bathroom: a clown. Underneath the stall door. I screamed bloody murder, and everyone in the theater had a good laugh at my expense. (It was a zombie flick, so I'm guessing 95% of the room were adolescent to middle aged males. The other 5% were me.)

I know it's almost become cliche to joke about how clowns are scary, especially to those of us traumatized as children by Stephen King's "IT" clown. But I really do think clowns are about the creepiest things around.

And when they're not creepy, they're sad.

A couple weeks ago, we went to a friend's work party. It was supposed to be kid-friendly, but whoever was in charge obviously had never met any kids, because they hired a clown. A poor, sad, neon-haired Hobo (Hobo homeless, not hobo spider) clown. He could frown even through his painted on smile.

His face art included tears, I think mostly to blend in with the real ones.

I had to bribe Kid C to go up and pet the duck.

Recently, blog friends Cath and Grace, on separate occasions, mentioned the quote from Ralph Waldo Emmerson: "Always do what you are afraid to do."

A good piece of advice. But I can't help answering in my head, "Guess it's time for me to go date a clown."

3. Wanna party?
James Dashner is inviting everyone to the launch party for his book The Maze Runner. If you are near Salt Lake City, go to The King's English tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5:00 p.m. James thinks that because of the time, no one's going to go. So let's show him that at 5 on a Tuesday in Salt Lake City, there's really nothing better going on.

If you go, be sure to find me and say hi.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Free Book Friday, and Infamous Moments from Sara Zarr's Book Launch

Free Book Friday

Just leave a comment today to enter. I have a bunch of Sara Zarr's books to add to the giveaway pool.

Sara Zarr's Book Launch at The King's English

I went to a reading/signing for the launch of Sara Zarr's newest book Once Was Lost. The book was partially inspired by the Elizabeth Smart incident.

Sara was so personable and did a great job discussing her book and the writing process. I can't wait to read it.

My favorite part: When she talked about switching the book from third person to first person.

Sara: "It becomes a whole different book. It's not like you can go through and just change all the she's to I's."

Afterward a bunch of us went for dessert at the Dodo.

Here are the headlines:

*Matt Kirby is accused of being a homewrecker when he sits between Sara Zarr and her husband.

*Below is Matt Kirby saying it wasn't his fault. (He has since promised to explain himself in the comments section).

*James Dashner joins our conversation just as I'm saying, "Speaking of Jesus..." He thinks I'm weird.

*Bree Despain admits she is unable to read lips or hand gestures after I spend 5 minutes mouthing the word writer to her, and then miming the act of typing on a keyboard. She was sitting directly across from me.

side note: This one time, when we were on an airplane, Emily Wing Smith and I had seats together. We found a third seat, and got Bree's attention. (She was sitting a few rows back). With exaggerated movements, we point to Bree, and then to the empty seat next to us, and then we wave her forward. We repeat five times. Bree gives a puzzled look, and shakes her head. She can't figure out what we're trying to say. Finally the whole plane goes, "They want you to sit next to them!"

*James Dashner joins our conversation just as I'm saying, "Speaking of nipples..." This does nothing to change his mind that I'm weird.

*It's okay, because this one time, in front of a crowd of people, he announced to the masses, "I am a psycho." Very weird.

*I get in trouble with the waiter "Cody" because I'm talking while he's telling us about the specials.

*I decide to blog about Cody, and so I point my camera toward him and say, "Can you smile?" He frowns. "Yes, I can." He walks away. It becomes official: I have offended Cody for the last time. He's fed up and he's not gonna take it anymore.
(Cody, posing for a picture)

*Sara B., Valynne and I start calling him "Colby". Strangely, this does nothing to melt his freeze.

*James offers to pay.

*James rescinds offer for fear of repercussions from his wife.
(James using his thumb to indicate who we make the checks out to...)

*Matt Kirby tells me his wife reads my blog. She also kept her last name, like me. I ask her name, and he won't tell me. He's afraid I'll call her out. I would never. So, Hi to Matt's wife!

*I give up my seat to Natasha Maw from Mawbooks because her work is more important. She blogs about books.

*To cover up an awkward moment, I announce to the table that I hate fruit.

*My end of the table decides the worst name ever is Peter Willy Johnson Dick. Now I have a new name for my laptop. And I'm apparently 12 years old.

*I take a billion pics of the table. Manage to cut off Sara B. and Valynne in every single one. I'm voted worst picture taker, as evidenced below.

*When I point out that Matt Kirby didn't order anything, Matt responds (in his most school psychologist sounding voice -- he can't help it, he is a school psychologist), "And does that make you feel uncomfortable?"

*We collectively decide we're gonna use that line whenever someone questions why we do something.

*Someone makes an inappropriate joke about aliens and bananas.

*Okay, it was me.

What's everyone doing this weekend? My kids have a 5-day weekend, so I'll probably spend my weekend cowering in a corner of my house, mumbling incoherently and chewing on the corner of my sofa.

Next Tuesday, James is launching his book The Maze Runner at The King's English. Everyone's invited. It's at 5:00. Check out his blog for more details.

For any of you named Peter Willy Johnson Dick, I apologize, and I will send you a free book of your choosing.