Brodi Ashton's Blog, page 8

March 12, 2012

Since not all of you got to see this on the Pitch Dark website, I thought I'd blog it. It's the story of EVERNEATH finding true love aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Once upon a time, EVERNEATH went on a cruise, looking for adventure. She was both afraid of water and afraid of boats, but she was assured neither would be present on a cruise.   EVERNEATH soon realized she'd been bamboozled. There was indeed a boat, and she couldn't help but notice the large body of water it floated upon. So she introduced herself to a contraption called a "rescue donut". 

When she found out it wasn't an actual donut (her two front teeth are still embedded just above the "N" in "Nassau") EVERNEATH went on the hunt for carbs, because everyone knows the key to rocking the famous red dress: lots and lots of carbs. 

Eventually she became accustomed to the big boat, and even ventured to dangle a leg off the balcony. 

A young gentleman, believing her life to be in danger, called out, "No! Don't do it!" He lunged for her and pulled her off the railing and back onto the deck, all the while shouting, "You jump, I jump!"

The gent became quite obsessed with EVERNEATH, following her wherever she went. Since EVERNEATH believed the gent wished to throw her overboard, she was forced to don disguises. Here she is dressed as a pirate. 

EVERNEATH became so adept at hiding, she could even disguise herself as a tree. See if you can spot her. 

Finally, the young gentleman gave up. He packed his bags to go home to an empty castle, alone.

"Castle, you say?" said EVERNEATH.
And they lived happily EVERNEATH after.
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Published on March 12, 2012 11:33 • 287 views

March 9, 2012

The winner of the PCH Water Bottle is:





Ape2016





Please email me your mailing address at: brodiashton at gmail dot com





On to the post! Are you a writer, aspiring writer, librarian, reader, or person? (If you say this does not include you, I do not believe you)





You are? Excellent, because on March 17th, have I got the thing for you.  





It's a writing conference called "Writing for Charity", and it will feature such great authors like Shannon Hale, Brandon Sanderson, Bree Despain, Emily Wing Smith, and... this girl! And by "this girl" I mean me.





I attended this conference twice before I was published, and I think it's a great and entertaining event for a very good price (which all goes to charity to help kids in crisis). It's at the historic Provo Library, and you can pay either $25 for half day or $45 for all day.





There will be live manuscript critiques, interactive workshops, lunch provided, and a silent auction with several very cool items like:





Lunch for you and a friend with me, Bree Despain, Emily Wing Smith, Matthew Kirby and Ally Condie





or





the chance to name a character in EVERNEATH 3 (the untitled conclusion to the Everneath trilogy)





You can read more about it here or take a gander at the schedule and the presenters here.





I will be speaking on critique groups, plus critiquing first pages of manuscripts. I don't want to give any spoilers as to what we will be doing in my breakout session... except to say two words: speed dating





So, mark your calendars for March 17th, and polish those first pages! 





Will I see you there?





Will it make a difference if I tell you that I will give whoever comes to my breakout session a sneak peek at the EVERNEATH 2: It's EVERNEATH-ier cover? Which means you would learn the actual name of the book?





What else can I offer as a bribe? Diet Coke? Hugs? An over-enthusiastic High Five? A special interpretation of your latest dream? (It means you're in love with your mother) My services as a shrimp de-pooper? (That is officially my new favorite job title)





Who's in? 
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Published on March 09, 2012 15:52 • 48 views

March 8, 2012

EVERNEATH 2: It's Everneath-ier is officially in copyedits!!! Yay!!!

I often get asked what the revision process is like, especially for the second book. It's hard to describe it, so I compiled a list of every day things you can do to experience the feeling. 

1. Give yourself a paper cut. Then take one lemon - the ripest one you can find - and shove it in your eyeball until it reaches your brain. Repeat with a second lemon and your other eye. Ask yourself if the original paper cut was necessary for the progression of the story.

2. Have a baby. Request that the OB-GYN rate the process as it happens. Have him evaluate the pacing of contractions, and mark any spots where he thought the action was "slow", especially any times he was "bored enough to leave the room".  After the baby comes out, have him critique the baby's appearance, noting all the blemishes. Then ask him to shove the baby back inside you, with the instruction to "try it again."

3. Pick your four favorite friends and take them to lunch. Then ask the waiter to listen in on the conversation. At the end of lunch, have the waiter pick his least favorite of your friends. You know, the person who was the most boring or has the fattest thighs or whatever. Then take a gun and shoot that friend dead. You'll notice how much less cluttered the table feels after that. 

Okay. I'm off to have lunch with my four favorite friends... wait. They just cancelled. WHY??!!
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Published on March 08, 2012 13:49 • 155 views

March 6, 2012

Hey y'all!





I know, it's been a week. But right now, I'm doggie-paddling in a sea of tasks, just trying to keep my head above the paperwork. And I'll tell you, my lips are full of paper cuts.





Okay, maybe I'm mixing my metaphors.





On Friday night, I attended a book club to discuss Everneath, although 'discussing' the book wasn't really on the agenda, unless you count the Persephone MadLib. 





If you write a YA book, and attend only one book club this year, make it this book club.



Notice the "Curtains of the Tunnels" in the background
They recreated the soup kitchen:





They attempted screen printing:



Yes, that is Winnie the Pooh, on a double-headed t-shirt, and yes, we are screen printing with an actual screen from the house. Do not try this at home.
They even made Jack and Nikki's lockers:



When my mom saw these, she immediately shoved the smallest book club attendee into the one on the left. Yes, my mom was one of THOSE people in high school.
We played a MadLib game with the story of Persephone. Here is my favorite paragraph. For this scene, "Nancy" is lamenting the kidnapping of her daughter "Brodi", and appeals to the god of gods "Cole":





In the realm of the living, _Nancy_, searched _the Florida Keys_ and _Hungary_ for her daughter.  As a _million years_ passed, she began to lose hope of ever finding her fair _Brodi_.  Her depression led to the neglect of her Duties as _shrimp de-pooper_ of Grain and Growth.  _Spatulas_ withered and died. New ones refused to appear.  Without _plungers_, mankind was starving and their unceasing prayers and pleas were sent to the _mushy_ Father God, _Cole_. Finally _Cole_ relented and sent his messenger, _Dracula_, to the realm of the _Park City_ to retrieve his daughter.  



Yep, Nancy was an important Shrimp De-Pooper of Grain and Growth. I also like how it only took a million years for her to begin losing hope.  





If that wasn't enough to make you want to relive high school, check these out:



Everyone got Park City High water bottles.
Actual water bottles from Jack and Nikki's high school. Can you believe this book club?





So, I was thinking, I would like to share the joy. I want to give one of you a Park City High water bottle. Are you interested? Simply leave a comment! I'll pick a random winner on Friday. :)





If you want to do the Persephone MadLib at your own book club, here are the templates:







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Published on March 06, 2012 10:26 • 61 views

February 28, 2012

I turned in my latest round of revisions yesterday. 

To sum them up:

I cut 4,000 words. I can't remember the specific words. Maybe that's why I cut them. Because they were unmemorable. 

I also cut an entire character. 

Two revisions ago, I created a character named Ferron. She had dreadlocks, and she could really kick butt. However, despite her lithe appearance, she had a bad habit of bulking up the storyline. 

So I had to cut her. I started with her fingers, then I cut her toes.

Finally, my study was filled with severed limbs, but my story was leaner. 

Revising is a give and take between the writer and the editor. Getting rid of Ferron was my editor's idea at first. When I wrote Ferron in, my editor was all:

"I like her! But I think we should either flesh her out, or cut her."*

So I fleshed Ferron out. I gave her a backstory and a love interest. And for more fleshy addition, I added some flesh colored pants for her to wear. 

I sent it back to my editor, and I was all, "Fleshy enough for you?"

And she was all, "Not quite fleshy. More bloated." Then she gently said, "Let's either make her useful, or cut her."

And I came back with, "But she has dreadlocks! And she can kick so high!"

But here's the thing: no matter how cool she was (admittedly much cooler than I will ever be) she was dragging the storyline down. And my editor was smart enough to give me a chance to see it for myself. That takes an incredible amount of patience! 

So, let's lower our heads, and give a moment of silence for the loss of Ferron. She will be missed. Only by me. Readers, however, will be happy she's gone.

Before I actually finished my first book, I heard authors talk of "writing practice scenes" and then deleting them. I couldn't imagine deleting an entire scene, because it took me so long to write every word. But so far, on the EVERNEATH sequel, I've deleted nearly 40,000 words. 

That's a book's worth. It's getting much easier for me to delete words.

*conversation paraphrased
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Published on February 28, 2012 14:01 • 126 views

February 22, 2012

Hey Y'all! 





So, I'm back from my DARK DAYS tour, and already I'm missing all the people I met, especially the other authors I toured with:





Cynthia Hand (the Unearthly series)

Courtney Allison Moulton (the Angelfire series)

Jodi Meadows (the INCARNATE series)





I'll give a quick recap, borrowing liberally from other people's pictures of the events. 





Here's me standing by the poster:





Here are all the authors together:



(top row: me, Jodi Meadows. Bottom row: Courtney Allison Moulton and Cynthia Hand)
Here are some interesting tidbits about the other authors:





Jodi Meadows: She makes her own yarn and knits. Constantly.

Cynthia Hand: She smells like citrus.

Courtney Allison Moulton: Things like to fall on her head.





Here are some donuts somebody brought us:



They were delicious
Nuggets:

Strangest Echo Sensation: While speaking to the crowd, my phone would buzz with tweets about the things I was saying. Like when I said, "I imagine brains would taste like tofu"

And then my phone buzzed and showed the tweet: "@brodiashton says brains taste like tofu!"

Or the time someone asked when I first started writing, and I answered something like, "Well, I hated writing in high school. I was more into math and science. It wasn't until I was older that I really got into it."

and then my phone would buzz:

"@brodiashton hated writing! It made her puke!"

Okay, it wasn't quite like that. But I was suddenly very careful of the things I was saying. 

Strangest question from the audience: "If you could eat any other author's brains, whose would it be, and what would they taste like?"

(Hence the 'brains taste like tofu' remark). For the first time all night, I had to raise my hands in a helpless manner, and say, "I got nothin'." 

Strangest out-of-context comment during a car ride with four authors: "Ferrets are good for cleansing the palate."

Awesomest media escort: So, there were these media escorts who would take us around to all the places and get us water and stuff like that. Our media escort in Austin showered us with animal crackers, Diet Coke, and our new favorite snack, the "Crawtators". 



Best Part: The enthusiastic crowds!

Another best part: Kayla brought me Diet Coke and my mocha-honey!

That was a good day, when Rafa gave me his soul. 
Here are some other tidbits:

Courtney Allison Moulton: She loves horses, and she gets locked out of hotel rooms easily.Jodi Meadows: She owns ferrets, and she loves to take long showers in hotel rooms. Cynthia Hand: Her friends in high school wanted her to date a guy with the last name "Foot".

Courtney did a little video montage of the behind the scenes images. All I can say is... do I really look like that from behind? 

More interesting nuggets:

*Two authors write about angels, one writes about reincarnation, and yet during an interview for Voices of America, I'm the only one who got asked about "religion" in my book. Go figure. 

*When asking the audience whether they were Team Jack or Team Cole, they were about evenly divided. 

*If you sign your name enough times, eventually it doesn't look right. And then you forget how to get from the "r" to the "o", and you end up messing up on that part fifty times in a row. And then you look stupid because, duh, it's your name, and you should be able to spell it without hesitating in the middle. 

Okay, that's all for today. I have a deadline on Monday (again) and so I'll see all y'all later!
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Published on February 22, 2012 13:27 • 78 views

February 15, 2012

Happy Day After Valentine's Day!





So, Valentine's Day morning, I walked into the shower and saw a contraption hanging from the shower head. It was a waterproof radio. 





And It. Was. Beautiful. 





I can turn it on and off without fear of being electrocuted. I can listen to my favorite morning show without blasting the radio for the neighbors to hear. I can shower for two hours without fear of wasting our earth's natural resources by using the power cord for the traditional radio.





For me, it was the most romantic gift ever. 





And when Sam came home from work, and I was still in the shower, he knew he had done well. 





Now if they'd only invent a waterproof computer so I could blog in the shower. 





By the time I was done, my skin was hanging off of me in wrinkled splendor, so I knew I'd probably lost a lot of weight too. It's the gift that keeps on giving! 





Tomorrow, I'm leaving for the Dark Days Tour to Texas. 





Here's the schedule:





Thursday, Feb. 16th      Dallas       Southlake Barnes and Noble at 5pm

Friday, Feb. 17th          Austin       Barnes and Noble (on Research Blvd.) 7pm

Saturday, Feb. 18th      Houston    Blue Willow Bookshop (on Memorial Drive) 4pm





There's a driver coming to pick me up at my house to take me to the airport. This is an entirely unfamiliar concept for my family. 





My mom: "How are you getting to the airport?"





me: "A driver."





mom: "You mean Sam?"





me: "No, a driver. Like a driver for hire."





mom: "You mean you're paying Sam?"





me: "No, mom, I mean they're sending a car for me."





mom: "I do not compute. Do you need me to take you?"





me: "No, it's too early in the morning. I'll stick with the driver."





mom: "But where did they find this... driver? Does he have credentials?"





me: "His parol officer vouched for him completely."





mom: "That's not funny."





me: "There's nothing funny about the after-prison reform program. Especially for habitual offenders. But I want to support them."





pause...





Sometimes, I love messing with my mom. 





So, is anyone going to be in the Texas area? Will I meet any of you there?
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Published on February 15, 2012 12:13 • 167 views

February 13, 2012

Hey y'all. 





So, last weekend I spoke on my first ever panel at the LTUE conference. The thing I said that got the best reaction was when I told the story about happening across a tweet that said, "And then there's EVERNEATH. It's like they're not even trying anymore."





What can I say? People like to revel in my pain. :)





I did meet these three boys, who just happened to be born with birthmarks on their cheeks that just happened to be in the image of my book cover. 







Jared, Jackson and Matt
Just kidding. Those are the temporary tattoos of my Everneath cover! Aren't those boys awesome? 





And since it was the LTUE conference - which is heavy on the sci-fi and high fantasy - these boys were still the most normal looking people there. Even with the tattoos on their cheeks. 





I had to stay overnight one night, but I knew my kids were in good hands at home with the hubby because he texted me this series of photos:



Kid B, wondering why he can't see better with his homemade glasses


Yep, those are donuts. And he's pulling a Princess Leia. 


All ready for school! And the possibility of a flash flood.
By the way, Malaysian Cupid says they can find me my perfect match by Valentine's Day. That means they have 24 hours.





I know they are legit, because here is their very professional email:





"Dear, Mr. Ashton, Here are the latest cupids to respond to your plea for love. Their names are Farah and Mira."





I responded to their obviously personalized email by saying "I'm all in. I have complete faith in your ability to match me. You have 24 hours to find me true love. But first, just for fun, let's aim for men."





They responded by saying, "Okay, Mr. Ashton. Whatever floats your boat."





I'm very excited about my prospects. 
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Published on February 13, 2012 09:22 • 165 views

February 10, 2012

I have to get something off my chest. 

So I've been getting a lot of emails lately from readers who connected with EVERNEATH, and by far this is the best part of being an author so far. 

Some of these readers have questions about the story. The questions are about everything and anything, but they usually start out with, "Why did you decide to do --------- and not ----------?"

It's a difficult thing to answer, because the answer is usually the same, and therefore, it's kind of boring. But here it is:

"Because I felt the story called for it."

I can tell by reading some of the emails that some readers think there is a deeper agenda going on. A "deeper agenda" like:

It's a YA book, and I, as the author, think that YA books need to have certain standards, and so that's why I made the decision. 

or

Because, as the author, I have a deeper responsibility to spread a message to teenagers about x, y, or z. 

or

As the author, my own personal beliefs are x, y, and z, and therefore my characters' beliefs are the same

But I'm telling you if I tried to write a book based on any of these "deeper agendas", I would fail miserably, for several reasons.

1. It would feel more like work and less like a passion2. I would never presume to set myself up as the voice of morality for teenagers3. It would be a really boring book

This doesn't mean that when I write, I can shut off all the aspects of my life that make me me. First, that's impossible, and second, that would be a boring book as well. But it does mean that when I'm facing a turning point in the book, the question in my mind is:

"What would the character do?"

not

"What do I want the reader to learn?"

That way, any themes that do emerge come organically from the story, and not from a "to-do checklist" I made up before I wrote the book. Does this make sense? I'd love your thoughts too.



I'm off to LTUE for the day. Hope to see some of you there! If not, have a great weekend!!
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Published on February 10, 2012 08:16 • 546 views

February 9, 2012

Brodi is at the LTUE conference today.  I believe that she will doing a post either later today or tomorrow, so please check back.



A couple of quick notes:

As mentioned, the LTUE conference is going on right now.  I believe that you can still sign up.  Its cheap and there are some fabulous authors going to be there.  So go there or be square (wait, that didn't rhyme).  Go to the conference, there is great ambiance (wait, still didn't rhyme...and thus my career as a poet was over before I realized it- yep, still can't rhyme).
If you are looking for great book deals.  If you want to buy another copy of Everneath to proudly display on the mantle of your fireplace, head on over to Kings English where they are having a 30% off hardcover books...and if you buy more than 3 books, you will get 40% off.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  You should buy 4 copies of Everneath and think of all of the money you will save!  Your husband or your wife or your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your friends, pets, neighbors and acquaintances will all be impressed by your thriftiness. 
If you live in Utah, but you live out South like in Sandy or Utah County...head on over to the Sandy Barnes and Noble...you can get already autographed copies of Everneath.  Yay for you!




I wish I had interesting stories to tell you all today.  We do have a clog in our drain line at our house.  Thats pretty exciting.  I would take pictures, but I know that NOT one of you cares about that (due to popular demand, I am posting one picture of the drain cleanout...sorry, no gross out pictures)   I could talk about the Bachelor, but Brodi already covered it last week.  So, with that, I bid adieu...check back later today or tomorrow for Brodi's return.
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Published on February 09, 2012 08:44 • 103 views