I'm Back on the Blog, and I brought a Friend, who is really good at Counting Down to EVERNEATH

Hey y'all.

I am emerging from the writing cave! It is bright out here.

Here's what's been going on since we last talked.

1. Um... I've been writing.

And I have to say the sequel to EVERNEATH is coming along. Which is good because it's due tomorrow.

2. EVERNEATH comes out in four months. FOUR MONTHS! And three days. THREE DAYS!

And if you're like me, and you have trouble counting backward from the higher numbers like 8, I have the perfect thing for you.

Presenting... the EVERNEATH countdown widget! I shall call him Widgy, and we shall play and play.

Would you like Widgy for your own blog sidebar? Then you are in luck. All you have to do is press on the doohickee at the bottom of Widgy and then there will be some sort of html code-a-ma-thingee that you can add to your blog. 

Sorry for all the technical terms. Many thanks to Katie Wood Ruffin who was kind enough to make Widgy.

3. I sent my youngest, kid B off to Kindergarten. 

Could he possibly look any smaller?
I always make fun of those moms who shed a tear when their kids make it to kindergarten. Monday was no exception. I had the best insults at the ready.

But my censure of those moms was muffled by the snot draining from my nose and the waterworks running from my eyes.

All my excellent jabs toward them were interrupted by sniffles, and the delivery was stifled, and eventually those other wimpy moms just walked away, and I ran after them, blowing my nose on my shirt and slipping on my own tears, because they had to know that this was supposed to be a day of celebration, and they were being ridiculous.

My kindergartener.
The final blow was when Kid B, who has a difficult time talking, looked at me as I was leaving, and said, "I go home now?"

And I said, "No. You get to stay and have fun."

And he looked all around the classroom - so unsure of everything going on - and then back at me and said, "No, I go home now."

So I ripped open my chest and handed him my beating heart, and told him to hold on to it until we were together again.

He ended up having a great day. And they only lost him once. Yeah, true story. It's awesome when other moms in the neighborhood tell you, "Hey! My kid said they lost kid B!" And you're the last to know...

So, dear friends, what's going on with you? Thank you so much for being nice to the guest bloggers, Sam and my mom. They felt so at home, they begged to blog some more.

Guest Blogger Extraordinaire: Brodi's Mom

Please welcome our guest blogger... My mom. No, I am not desperate.

At a recent family gathering, Brodi asked if anyone present wanted to be a guest blogger.  I immediately raised my hand and shrieked, “Pick me!  Pick me!” 

No one else raised their hand or their voice.  Apparently Brodi didn’t notice, because she cleared her throat and asked with exaggerated enunciation, “I said, does anyone want to be a guest blogger?”

Against a backdrop of deafening silence and with absolutely no reduction in enthusiasm, my hand shot up again as I chanted with grating annoyance, “Pick me!  Pick me!” thus dispelling the myth that if you ignore me, I will go away.  I am the consummate irritant.

No one but her mother would have detected the barely perceptible eye roll when she acquiesced and replied, “Oh Kay-yay!  You can blo-ogg!”

I won!  I won!  By default, yes, BUT I WON!!!

Brodi stipulated that first I had to introduce myself, preferably in simple sentences.  OK! OK!  I have thumbs.  I can do that!  Here goes.

I am Brodi’s mom. 

For those of you who don’t know me, I am 5’7”, naturally blond, I am frequently mistaken for Angeline Jolie  (must be the lips!)  and I have an advanced degree in astrophysics from Harvard.

For those of you who DO know me, I am still in the 12-step recovery program for pathological liars. 

I have always loved words.  They have such power, and can convey such emotion.  I especially like the newest entries included in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.  So in an effort to further describe myself in officially current vernacular, I am not a “cougar,” but I share my daughters’ intense admiration for Rafa Nadal.  At the moment I am sporting a serious “muffin top,” my only claim to curves.  I do not chirp, peep, “tweet,” or feed my Twitter.  I do, however, “fist bump,”  “crowdsource,” and show my “guns” upon request. Well, enough about me.  I’ll be available later for questions. On to the blog.

Summer ended abruptly last week.  Autumn debuted at 6:00 Monday morning in a flurry of backpacks, notebooks, peanut butter sandwiches and a whole bunch of kids with sun-bleached hair.

There’s a certain nostalgia about the first day of school. Memories and recollections flood our minds. Time is not divided into seasons, but determined by which teacher and what grade each kid is assigned. As a grandma, I want to sprint full throttle ahead and wrap a protective shield of arm flab around my little tribe so nothing can harm them.  Grandmas are hard-wired to run interference for their team.  It is not an easy task to allow fledglings to try their wings without saturating the earth with feathers.

Especially kid C.  You’d think that after a broken clavicle and his grandpa stitching multiple facial cuts, I would be hardened to childhood wounds.  Not so.  I am still jarred by the flow of blood or protruding bones.  DNA is a pretty powerful binding agent.

This past Saturday, Dennis and I became soccer nomads, attending 4 out of 5 scheduled games of our grandkids.  Each child seems genuinely happy when we exceed the prescribed neighborhood decibel level with unrestrained cheering, since we do not own vuvuzelas. 

Every one of our posse made us proud, especially kid C.  In spite of a broken elbow held together with pins and a bright Runnin’ Utes red cast on his arm, he played his scheduled game.  Brodi had bound him in bubble wrap to buffer any blunt force trauma to the injury site, so much so that we could have FedEx’ed him anywhere in the world. But there is always risk of freak accidents.  I tried not to worry.  I failed.  Although I do think total body bubble wrap may just be the answer to Grandma angst.  What a little warrior.

After the game, we attempted a high five, but due to the location and immobility of his cast, we settled for fist bumps.  We’re nothing if not adaptable.  It was a nice moment.

We love Brodi’s blog and her gift for creative expression.  She looks at things, but she also sees through things.There are times we think her muse is on steroids.  But we particularly enjoy the many and varied comments that complete her thoughts.  We feel like we know everyone personally, and we’ve learned so much from you.  Sometimes life is like a hurricane – an organized storm around a well-defined eye. Hurricanes happen.  To everyone. You have supported us, encouraged us, and allowed us to feel your love with words of comfort and joy.  This has helped calm the storms that rage. We were advised to surround ourselves with people who believe we can do hard things.  You are part of that.  I guess it is true we are all connected. This is a good thing.

 I appreciate the opportunity to sit in Brodi’s chair, share some thoughts and express our appreciation. Of course, she tells it like it is.  I tell it like it ought to be. So the next time she asks if anyone wants to be a guest blogger, there will be a thunderous “Pick me!” heard round the world!  I’ll be back!

Round 2, Questions and Answers: Whether you wanted it or not

I don't believe anyone demanded it, or even asked for it, but it is a lucky day!  You get another post from Brodi's favorite spouse (the other three of her spouses are fighting it out for 2nd place) Sam!  And I am back ready to answer a few questions from my last post and the post before.  So, lets dive right in:

Emily asks: Who is your favorite sister? And what is metro-sexy?
This is very hard to answer, especially when it is one of my sisters asking the question.  We had all of our family in town for my lovely niece EO's wedding.  I got to spend some good time with all my sisters and brothers and their spouses which is always awesome.  I have 3 lovely and very entertaining sisters.  And as crazy as it sounds, we all live about a mile from each other.  Usually when I review who my favorite people are, I check to see if they are funny, sincere, play tennis, can compete in a good arm wrestle, willing to eat at the downtown restaurant Cinnegrill, invite me to all of their parties, etc.  Well, my three sisters get checks for each of these requirements.  So, shockingly enough, I will say it is a tie.  All three are very funny and fabulous, but only one has a blog.  If you have ever wanted to learn more about the movies 'Planet of the Apes' and are dying for a review of the 5 or 6 of those movies out there, feel free to check out my sister Eden's blog HERE 

In regards to your metrosexy question: Metro-sexy is defined as an usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes.  Yep, that pretty much nails me.  Whether I need to or not, I will throw out my clothes if they are more than 15 years old.  I have to stay hip to the fashion.  I plan on throwing out my pegged jeans next year. 

Dorien also asked:  Can you tell us how exactly you put the "sexy" in metro-sexy? 
I know how to work what I have got.  But as Brodi said in response, this post would be very long, so I will have to just leave it at that.  As I learned back in my high school days at West High, 'flaunt it if you got it.'

Sal Gal asked: Will you be going back to the middle east for work again?
Over the past 5 years, I have had the chance to work quite a bit in SE Asia, such as in Pakistan.  Brodi actually accompanied me on one of my trips.  Sadly, I probably won't be taking many trips back there for the foreseeable future, but our company is focused on other regions of the world, so it will be some new adventures. 

Jenni Elyse asks: Does/did it bother you that Brodi didn't change her name?
To be honest, it was never an issue.  When Brodi was doing some tv news reporting, it just made sense to keep her maiden name because it is a bit more unique than my awesome last name.  After that, I think we were comfortable with it and had no issues with it so she just kept it.  There is occasional confusion over what they should call our family, but overall, no problems at all.  If we wanted to get it really confusing, we should have given our boys both different last names like 'Gonzalez' or 'Bradford' or something like that.  Brodi does remind me though, at least once a week, that she would have changed her maiden name if my last name was Capote.  Brodi Capote.  She probably would have changed it too if my last name was Nadal too.

Marianne asks:
is that the atari from grandma and grandpa ashton"s house?!?! 
Sadly no, it is not.  You wanna know what is sadder?  I actually spent money and bought an atari for our house.  We have had the wii for 3 years.  I have probably played it for a grand total of 15 minutes.  I bought this atari and I have played it for hours.  How frakkin' pathetic is that?  

Thanks everyone for having me around.  It is always fun over here.  I was all ready to do a post on how wonderful reality television is and how it can help us be better people, but Brodi said to save that for sometime in the very, very distant future.   Thanks for being such a good support for Brodi.  We can't wait until Everneath comes out.  If you want to meet me, I will be the guy standing in line at King's English or one of the other book stores with a handful of Everneath books. 

The Spouse speaks, err, blogs for Brodi today

So, Brodi asked me to fill in for her and write up a blog post.  As you know, she is finishing up her second book (which totally is rockin', by the way) and she is short on time, so for a small nominal fee, I was brought in to blog for her.   She gave me only 2 requirements - No nude pictures of myself and don't drive away followers (which very well may be the same thing).  Thanks to all of you kind readers of her blog for the questions.  I am ready to rock and roll with some answers:

Nicole K asks: I would like to know if Sam is going to blog about Bachelor Pad? 
How can I answer this and still be taken seriously anywhere, ANYWHERE?  Yes, I have watched Bachelor Pad this summer.  (hangs head in shame).  If you have never watched this show, kudos to you for being a sane person.  Basically, this show has pulled past contestants from the Bachelor and the Bachelorette and threw them in a house together to live...and then each person votes to kick others off the show.  Last person standing (usually with self esteem long gone) wins $250K.  Let me just say - these people are crazy.  Typical scenario - guy kisses girl thinking it will help him stay in the game.  Same guy then kisses another girl thinking it will help him really stay in the game.  1st girl gets mad at guy.  Guy is nervous because now girls start not liking him.  He apologizes.  Girls happy again.  He kisses 1st girl again.  He then kisses 2nd girl again.  Girl gets mad.  Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat.  Seriously, most of these contestants have the crazies.  I will admit that I have yelled at the tv.  I will not admit to throwing my shoe at the television.  Utah's very own Michelle has a chance to win.  Not that ANYONE cares.

Robin asks several questions: Sam--do you, like my husband, have to force your wife to knock off and go to bed at a decent hour?  
Brodi is 'spirited.'  If I tell her to knock it off and go to bed...she will stay up longer.  If I tell her to go to sleep in an hour, she will go to sleep 2 hours later.  We go to bed at similar hours...usually sometime between 11 and 12 each night.  But, I often fall asleep on the couch and stumble to the bed around 2 in the morning.   If Brodi's mind is on overdrive, she aint going to bed until she passes out. 

Did Brodi buy you a nice thank-you gift with her advance? 
Yep, she went out of town to LA and NYC for fun/conferences.  Oh wait, for me?  Yes, we were able to put food on the table.

When Brodi becomes a bestseller early next year, will you quit your job? 
Probably not, my work would be completely lost without me.  They need me.  They need me.  They need me.  Don't they?  Do you know something that I don't know?    

Who do you see as your greatest competition: Rafa or Jack?
Tough.  I would say Rafa though.  Mainly because his name comes up every single day. 
For example:  Sam: "Hey Bro, lets stay home tonight and hang out." 
Brodi: "Rafa would take me out dancing and clubbing." 
Sam: "OK, get on your dancing shoes, we are going to the Bay."
She has Rafa, I have Ana I.  Luckily, both of these tennis stars have allowed us to have each other while they compete in all of their tournaments.  And look, these two players also hang out with each other outside of the tennis court.

Rachel asks: Question for Sam: Who is funnier in real life, you or Brodi? What advice do you have for my husband, as one spouse of an author to another?
As you can see from this blog post, Brodi is much funnier in real life. But if you give me a Rockstar drink or crack cocaine, I can be pretty crazy funny too. The best advice that I can give is to keep pushing the spouse. EVERYONE thinks that they can write, but that is really not true. It is difficult, time consuming, frustrating, etc. The business is tough. It is difficult to write a book...it is difficult to find an agent...it is difficult to sell a book. It aint easy. So, be there for your spouse and support him/her and give encouragement.  And speaking as Brodi's spouse, she is a great writer so it has been really easy to be so supportive.  She is fabulous and I am happy to be her biggest male cheerleader.

Leigh Ann asks: Okay, Mr. Ashton: What are your three favorite meals to cook, clean up after, and serve Brodi at the end of a long day of writing with a long night stretching ahead of her? Hmmm? Bonus points: What is the average length of the footrubs you give her while she types?
Thanks for the questions Leigh Ann, I have not been called Mr. Ashton since she was a television reporter.  Brodi kept her maiden name, so my last name is Johnson.  But, I have no problem with being called Mr. Ashton, Hot Stuff, Sam the man, Sexy guy, Metrosexual Man, Mr. Ashton Johnson, etc.  
Favorite meals?  Besides spaghetti, hamburgers and the best ribeye steaks that you could imagine, I am not really a cook.  So, we do lots of fabulous takeouts from Citris Grill, the Pub, any Thai place, etc.  I am a very good dish clean upper and I am happy to do so.  Brodi won't let me go near her feet, so no foot rubs.  It might have something to do with always trying to tickle her feet.  Yeah, she doesn't like that.  Not one bit. 

Small Town Shelly Brown asks: Sam, what do you do while Brodi is writing? 

When she is writing, I like to work on my dance moves.  Tuesdays are 'We be break dancing' day (check out kitty doing some breakin' moves).  Thursdays are set aside for Modern Dance and Sundays are Ballroom Dancing days.  I also like to spend my days watching reruns of Bachelor Pad.  I also spend time on planning where to pick up takeout for tomorrow nights dinner.  I also spend crazy amount of times looking for the best deals in anything.  I could be buying a pair or $3 socks and I spend 25 minutes trying to find those same socks for $2.50.  I also make sure that the kids are not playing in the streets.  I try to sneak in 5 minutes of playing the Atari as well.  

Ok, this blog post is long enough for now.  I still have some questions to answer on Friday including one from my lovely sister.  If there is anything else you would like to know, please ask away.  I will be working on my responses nonstop for the next 2 days to get ready for Friday's blog post.  Thanks to you all for reading Brodi's blog.  She totally rocks and all of your comments always makes her day. 

Ask My Hubby Anything You Want! And... Kid C's First Day of School

Happy Monday Morning y'all.

I just realized the milk in my fridge has an expiration date that is past my deadline for my sequel EVERNEATH 2: Nikki Gets a Drivers License.

The Milk of Doom
Do you know what that means? I have until that milk curdles to finish my book.

So, instead of working on my book today, I will transfer the milk from the fridge to the freezer, in the hopes of slowing down the curdling process.

Thankfully I have more hours in the day to watch milk curdle because today was the first day of school.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! The happiest day of the year.

From Left to Right: Kid B, Yoshi, Sling, Kid C
Kid C looks so old outside our house.

Then we walk him to school, and he looks like this:

Awwww.... Don't even think about touching him, kids! I'm watching you...
He looks so small, with a backpack down to his knees, and straps tangled with his sling. 

Crazy enough, his left-handed handwriting is almost as good as his right. 

So, long story short... as a special treat to y'all, I won't be blogging the rest of this week. Instead, we will have a surprise visitor! 

Umm... it's my husband. (surprise)

I thought it would be fun if y'all would leave a question for him in the comments. You can ask him anything! 

ex: Sam, do you feel like you are in constant competition with Rafa for your wife's affection? 

Nothing's off limits! Well... almost nothing is off limits! So please help me with my deadline by asking Sam questions and stopping milk from curdling.

Two Different Ways to win an ARC of EVERNEATH... and Wisdom from Kid C

Hey y'all! 

First up, some items of note.*

*sidenote: I don't think I've ever used the phrase "items of note"

1. There are two contests going on to win an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of EVERNEATH. 

One is at awesome apocalypsie-mate and debut author Gretchen McNeil's site. She is having a mega-giveaway treasure hunt with her own stellar-looking book POSSESS, and a couple other apocalypsie books like mine and SLIDE by Jill Hathaway.

The other is at another awesome apocalypsie-mate Jill Hathaway's blog. (Said author of SLIDE). She has an interview up with me and she is giving away an ARC of EVERNEATH.

2. EVERNEATH is available for pre-order. There are three places you can order from, and they are listed in my sidebar. (look a little to the right... more... there!)

3.  My fuse is short lately. I told Sam that normally it is "this big" (holding my thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart" and now it is "this biG" (squashing my thumb and forefinger together). 

I keep thinking this is a good excuse for snapping at him. It's not, I know.

To make my fuse even shorter (imagine my thumb and forefinger drawing blood, and touching bone to bone because of the force with which I am smushing them) I have Kid C literally very high on pain medication.

It doesn't make him tired. Or placid.

It makes him wander around aimlessly, imparting random bits of his wisdom.

Even as I'm typing this, we had the following conversation:

Kid C: "Everyone in the world has the best camera on earth, right?"

me: "Um, not necessarily."

C: "Yes they do. You wanna know what it is?" Then, in a low voice as if he was a magician revealing his biggest trick, "Your mind." Jazz hands. "You can click, and you can delete, and you don't even have to pay for it. If you wanted to buy a camera like your mind, it would cost thousands of dollars."


I keep waiting for him to start talk about all the pretty colors in the air, and marveling at the way his hand moves.

He just said, "Brodi, are ya okay? Maybe I've been a little too rough on you."

Aw, Kid C. We'll get through this.

Kid C is on Pins and Needles... Literally. They're in his Arm.

We were five minutes away from leaving the park.


When Kid C limped toward us, cradling his arm and crying.

An hour later we were at an Instacare getting x-rays:

Don't be deceived. That is not a smile, and he is not serene.

Two hours later, we were at Primary Children's Hospital, getting more x-rays:

Four hours later, at about 12:30 a.m. we had the diagnosis: Type II Supracondylar Humerus Fracture. It would need immediate surgery.

And by "immediate", they meant 7:30 in the morning. Kid C was thrilled:

We got to have a "sleep over" at the hospital, where just for fun, the nurses would wake us up every hour to "hug his arm" (check his blood pressure), "give his hand something to drink" (adjust his IV) and "make his finger light up" (check his oxygen saturation).

It was so fun.

The next morning, Kid C got to go for a ride in his bed. In his bed! The bed had wheels.

Then he went to sleep.

When he woke up, his throat was raspy and sore. Despite how many times we reminded him he had a tube down his throat, he was convinced he was getting a cold.

He kept saying, in the voice of a 60-year old smoker, "I can't believe I broke my elbow and I'm getting a cold at the same time."

When he was done with surgery, he got to order room service. Pancakes and rootbeer slushees. He hasn't stopped talking about it since. 

Some of his observations during the whole ordeal (often high on pain medication):

When Sam was trying to cheer him up: "Uh, Dad, can you say nothing?"

When Sam went to take a picture: "No pictures. Do not disturb."

Upon seeing his x-rays with the pins in his bone: "Um, what the heck is that?"

We told him it was his brain on drugs.
When the nurse attached a cord to his finger, and told him to "watch the monitor to see magic numbers pop up!", he said: "Ugh. This is beyond boring."

Every time a nurse or doctor went to touch his arm: "DON'T TOUCH IT! I'll move it." Wincing, he grabs the fingers of his right hand. "Okay. Where do you want it?"

Lamenting his bad fortune: "I won't be able to raise my hand. I can't even wiggle my broken bone. I can't even bow." (For all those occasions when bowing is required.)

Immediately after surgery: "I can't believe I just fell asleep all on my own. I slept through the whole thing!" and also: "You won't believe the dream I just had."
About every five minutes: "I can't believe I'm going to be left-handed from now on."

and: "I can't believe my handwriting is going to be so bad."

and: "People make chicken out of birds, right?" (I have no idea what this was in reference to...)

In reference to the $250 emergency room co-pay: "Now I know why hospitals cost so much. You get free tv, free video games, free icees, free room service, free bed. I love the hospital."

Yes, Kid C, that was the most expensive "free bed" you'll ever know.

I'm trying not to think this is some sort of karma for me because of all my complaining about deadlines. It's not, is it? Is it?!

Thing #1 and Thing #1: Pancreatic Cancer and Ice Cream... not in that order

There's so much going on around me, but I'm missing it all because I'm in the writing cave. So how about a quick Thing #1 and Thing #1?

Thing #1

My sister-in-law brought me over a big tub of homemade ice cream to thank us for helping them when their basement flooded while they were out of town. 

Of three things I am certain:

1. I love homemade ice cream.

2. There's a part of me, and I'm not sure how dominant that part might be, that longs to start another flood just to get more ice cream.

3. I am unconditionally, and irrevocably, going to break into their house tonight. 

Thing #1

My dad's latest scans show his tumors are still shrinking. (Most of you know he is battling Pancreatic Cancer). 

The Fam at the Huntsman Cancer Center
The doctors are pretty baffled. At his most recent visit, they said he is in the "Top 5% of chemo responders."

1. I don't know why we are the recipients of these little miracles, but I will take them!

2. And then I will ask for more...

So, what are the Things #1 in your life? 

Did you notice how I pluralized Thing #1?

In Which I Blow Up at Anyone who Mentions Deadlines, and even Those who Don't

The deadline for the sequel to EVERNEATH is coming up. Fast. And hard. So I've sorta had deadlines on the brain.

It reached a boiling point last night when Sam's entire extended family went to dinner. Above all the chatter that twenty people make, I kept hearing the word "deadline". 

I wasn't even part of the conversation, but I could hear the d-word being said at one end of the table. Over and over.

Were they discussing my deadline behind my back? Were they taking bets as to if I would make it or not? Were they consulting the odds-makers? (By the way, it's 4:1 that I'll make it.)

Finally, I snapped. "Could you all please stop talking about my deadline?!"

They looked at me like I was a little nuts. Then my sis-in-law pointed to something on the table. 

It's a lime. And it's "dead". Can you guess where I'm going with this?

Yep, that there is a dead lime. A DEADLIME. It was in my sis-in-law's Diet Coke. And it was all anyone could talk about.

Until I yelled at them.

Somebody help me.

In Which I try to Recap SCBWI, but really I just talk about a Toilet

Hey y'all.

It's good to be back. It's also bad to be back, because I had such a good time in L.A. meeting with friends and like-minded people (read "other crazy writers") and being inspired by such literary greats as Judy Blume, Richard Peck and Libba Bray. 

Also, just a warning, I took all of two pictures at the conference, and those two pictures were of the toilet in our hotel room. 

There's a reason for that. The toilet had two flusher buttons on top of it:

We figured out that the left flusher was sort of a "half-flush" option, I guess to be more environmentally friendly and less water-wasting. 

For the first couple of days, I pondered each and every trip to the bathroom, asking questions like, "Does what I accomplished in here warrant a larger carbon footprint?" and "Will the half-flush option be adequate?"

Then I would warn my roommates: "Just so you know, I half-flushed." Then I would warn strangers in the hallway: "Just so you know, I half-flushed."

Sometimes I would use the half-flush option, and then I feared that it wasn't enough, so I would half-flush two more times. 

By day three, I was tired of passing judgment on my trips to the bathroom. So I flipped the bird to the environment and full-flushed every time. 

And it felt good.

And yes, I did just spend the first half of the post talking about a toilet. 

Some other highlights:

*I was this-close to Judy Blume!

That lady looks like she's about to karate-shop Judy's arm.
*During dinner with my agent, I sat two tables away from Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon. I now count my degrees away from Kevin Bacon in "tables". 

*I heard Laurie Halse Anderson (SPEAK) speak.

She encouraged us to ask ourselves, in the words of T.S. Elliot, "Do I dare disturb the universe?"  

She also said, "Your muse is you." This makes it even more annoying when my muse doesn't show up for work. 

*Bruce Colville reminded writers: If you don't jump, the wings will never come.

*The amazing and eloquent Richard Peck spoke. 

He said: Unless you find yourself on the page very early in life, you will spend your life looking for yourself in all the wrong places. 

I love Richard Peck. At my first SCBWI conference two years ago, I told him my first book was currently on submission. And he asked, in his regal voice, "And what are you doing in the meantime?"

I thought about the answer he was looking for. I said, "Writing my next book."

He said, "That is the right answer."

So, directly after that conversation, I started actually writing my next book, because I didn't want to lie to someone like Richard Peck. That book was EVERNEATH. 

*I went to lunch with some awesome writers. 

(from the left) Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed), Bree Despain (The Dark Divine), Brodi Ashton (Everneath), Lindsey Leavitt (Princess For Hire),  Lani Woodland (Intrinsical), Leigh Fallon (Carrier of the Mark), Morgan Shamy (writer), Alexandra Monir (Timeless), Gretchen McNeil (Possess).
I stole this picture from Leigh Fallon's blog. She mentioned how the pic looks eerily like the Last Supper. It really does. But I prefer to think of it as the First Lunch. 

Okay, this post is getting really long. I'll have more stories about my toilet on Friday. 

But for now, I ask you, do you dare disturb the universe? Well? Do you?

Find Me at SCBWI and You'll Get a Surprise! hint: It's EVERNEATH swag!

Tomorrow, I leave for the SCBWI conference in L.A. 

I can't wait.

To celebrate, I have some special EVERNEATH swag for anyone who finds me there and says, "Hello."

Remember that awesome DEAD ELVISES logo my friend sent me? 
Well, I have had it rearranged and printed on... guitar picks!
An actual Dead Elvis strummed with this guitar pick. I guarantee it.
They've got the DEAD ELVISES on the front, and EVERNEATH on the back, with the release date of January 2012. 

These awesome little commemorative doohickees will be in my purse, and if you come up and say hi to me, you'll get one! Whether you like it or not. No, seriously, even if I think you just happened to glance at me from across the room, I will leap frog over the other conference-goers and shove this pick into your cold dead hand.

I don't know why you are dead in this scenario. How did it get so dark in here anyhow? 

The point is, you can either take the picks nicely, in your hands, or you can take the pick between your eyebrows, chinese-star style.

Wait. Sam says that is not the point. Hold on one second... lemme see if I can locate the point...

Here it is. The point is, introduce yourself to me! And you'll get a treat! But not in a creepy way. Why did I need to clarify that? 

Argh! Does someone have a crash-course in appropriate self-promotion that I can take? 

Anyway, I'm easy to spot. I have blond hair, a red scarf, and I'm always looking off to the side.

And I usually have a zombie finger with red nail polish on my shoulder.

People have asked me what this finger is doing on my shoulder. I tell them it is the finger of my muse. She likes the red nail polish.

So, the point is, say hi to me at the conference, or I will sic my zombie muse on you. She will in turn shove the guitar pick down your...

Wait. Sam says that is not the point.

Ah, here it is. The point is, hope to meet you at the conference!

Kid C snores at the Shakespeare Festival... and the best perk to being an Author

Hey y'all. 

So, today marks one-month until the sequel to EVERNEATH is due in to my publisher. 

I'm not freaking out. Mostly because my editor reads my blog. (Hi Kristin! Nothing to see here!)

But I will say you can read my stress on my chin. I pick at my chin until it starts to bleed, then I wait for the blood to dry up, and then I pick it some more. And like any self-respecting addict, I say, "This is the last time I pick it. The last time. I am in control."

And then I pick it again. 

Yes, I have just spent the first half of this blog talking about picking scabs. There are so many places to go from here. 

1. When I turned eight, my parents took me to the Shakespeare Festival for the first time. Since then, with few exceptions, I've gone every year.
Kid C and Kid B at the Globe replica in Cedar City

Now Kid C is eight, so I took him to his first play, expecting it to be as magical as my first play. 

Here's how magic it was for him:
To sleep, perchance to dream...
And he was on the front row. The actors were practically tripping over his feet. And yet, he slept...

2. Look at what I got in the mail today!

UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows
SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

Undoubtedly, the best perk to being an author is being able to read books before they come out! But the worst part is getting these books in the mail on the day that marks one month before my sequel is due... 

And... we've come full circle. 

So, what do y'all plan on doing for the last month of summer? Anyone going to the SCBWI conference in L.A. this week? If you are, look for me!