When Fictional Characters Come to Life

I try to keep my fictional characters as… well, fictional as possible.  It is the great rule of all writers.  Our characters are totally made up out of our heads and have nothing to do with the people we know and love.  We’d never write in someone we don’t like and then kill them off.  That would be totally not cool.  And I’d NEVER write totally cool, butt kicking characters and have them look like someone I know.  That would be devastatingly horrible.

**snort**

Okay, I am lying.  The truth is that most of the characters I write about are people I know now or knew growing up.  ALL of the Puckerbush High School teacher’s names are teachers I had in elementary, middle and high school.  Seeing as the majority of my characters are the folks I live with and are a part of my life, I want to introduce you to a few of them.  (that is if they agree to send me a picture of them and allow me to post it)

In The Warrior’s Return, Ian meets Marvin Sanders.  Dr. Sanders is a veterinary in Puckerbush who takes care of the town’s menagerie of four legged furry friends.  Dr. Sanders name was poached from a real Dr. Sanders I worked for while I was in college.  It was a tough job cleaning up after puking cats and poopy dogs, but it paid the bills.

The personality and physical description of Marvin Sanders came from this guy:

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This is Les Bassett.

Should you have the privilege of meeting this man, you should know that he has an amazing sense of humor.  He is a straight talking fellow with a lot of fight in him.  He is the guy who fist bumps my son at church, works hard and is one heck of a loyal father, grandfather and friend.  He’d give you the shirt off his back, arrives early to church and stays late to help clean up.

As I was creating Marvin, I did a mental flip through all the people I knew that would be that rock of support for Ian as he went through tough times. Marvin needed to be kind with a core of steel.  I needed someone older with the life experience to give Ian advice and yet wise enough to stand back and let Ian make the final choice.

As I talked to his daughter and wife (that another thing writers never reveal…we may be just “chatting” with you but really we are filing away information like crazy) it was clear that the man for the job, the rock and support was Les.

It’s just an added bonus that Les is also a fan of my books.  I’d love to add a spoiler and tell you what happens to Marvin in The Cursed Dagger, but I’m not.  You’re going to have to read it.

Thanks, Les!!

Next time: Meet Corbin’s doppleganger!

THE PRICE OF RESEARCH

I write a lot of fighting into my books.  I don’t know if it is a result of being the only female in a house full of all males or if I just have a not-so-deeply buried thirst for blood, guts and a solid right hook.

Regardless, IAN QUICKSILVER is the last prince of Bankhir and with that comes some serious responsibility.  After all, The Warriors of Bankhir are the fighters for the galaxy.  You need a war won?  The warriors will be there to help you fight it.  It’s their job.  However, when I very first started putting together what makes the Warriors of Bankhir so special, I realized pretty darn quick that I probably needed to know how to fight.  If I was going to write about professional fighters, I must know how that works, why it works and so on.

I very naively signed up for a mixed martial arts class.  What better place to learn hand to hand combat and weapons in a place that teaches a wide smattering of techniques?  The first two months were a scream.  Super easy.  I didn’t know what the big deal was in movies and books when the main character thinks it’s so darn hard to learn. Then I learned a very important lesson: I broke my ankle.

There is great value in giving a warrior a weakness. It humanizes them, makes them more real and relatable.  Weaknesses are juicy details and stumbling blocks.  But most of all, as an author, I realized the power of pain.

It SUCKS.

Pain taught me that going up against a six foot one male twice my size has consequences.  It also taught me that it is wise to listen to gut feelings and internal warnings.  Mine was screaming off the hook that day and I very unwisely told it to go take a hike.  I also learned the difference in pain levels between a sprain and a break and the number of weeks/months it takes to recover.

Pain also made me stupid.

Mostly because I got right back on the mats at the dojo the second the doc cleared me to get off the crutches.  I also lost brain cells every day I kept training on an ankle that never healed in the first place.  But I was learning so much!  I didn’t want to quit.

So maybe stupidity turned into determination somewhere along the way.

I learned how to ignore the pain and keep training.  There did come a point (a year after the fact) that I had had enough of the pain.  That’s when an x-ray confirmed that, yes, I was in actuality just plain stupid and not determined after all.  Thats when I learned something new about being a warrior.

Surgery is not just something you go into smiling and come out of like a charm.

It knocked me off my feet for another six weeks and by golly it hurt!  But the research!  HOLY MOLY!!  Did you know that a bone fragment looks a whole lot like hard swiss cheese and the inside of your body is a lot like meat spaghetti sauce?!?!  I had my surgeon take pictures and boy was I glad he pulled through for me!  Healing skin has the consistency of a rubber balloon and stitches, deep into your skin, feels completely alien.  I also learned that you should never put a ziplock bag of ice on an elevated limb and then go to sleep.  That darn thing slipped off in the middle of the night and burst right into my crotch.  Ice water in the private parts is not a pleasant wake up call.  Trust me.

After surgery, I learned that I am very impatient.

I got out on the mats in a metal boot and kept going.  I sucked it up and kept fighting.  But I learned more than just pain from Martial Arts.  Research is a multifaceted beast.  I found friends just as crazy as I was. They hit harder when they’ve had a bad day.  Their personal lives began showing in their gloves and through their kicks.  They got a little harder, faster and stung a little longer than on other better days.  There were no tears.  No.  These new friends got it all out through their punches.

I don’t mind being a punching bag for their bad day.  This is why…

Something changes between two people when they have trained together.  Blood, sweat and bruises have turned out to be an unbreakable compound for cementing relationships in a way I hadn’t experienced previously.  I’ve heard about the “brotherhood” when men fight together, but it wasn’t until I experienced it (on a very small scale) that I realized how intense that bond is.  Trust me when I say, there is a reason we keep coming back and it’s not because we love being a lab rat for choke holds and shoulder dislocating arm-bars.

My Warriors began to change on the page and it was because my research began to change me in real life.

I test for red belt soon.  This means I am not far off from full black belt and I am counting down the months and days. Some days I wonder what on Earth I was thinking, putting my mind and body through such torture.  The answer is simple:

There isn’t much I wouldn’t do in the name of research.

 

Now if I could just write a book about chocolate…

 

OTHER AWESOME THINGS I LEARNED FROM EXTENSIVE RESEARCH:  A blunt weapon struck into the body at the right speed will STILL cut.  Breaking pine boards hurt really bad if you do it wrong.  There are some grappling positions that are so awkward, it’s good to have a partner who can laugh off putting their arms between your legs (among other things).  Otherwise it just feels like you’re cheating on your significant other.

 

 

DEAR READERS…

Eat Chocolate.

Life is hard. You’ll have bills, no job, and your car will break down. It happens. Breathe. Whether it happens today or in ten years you will face the unthinkable. Trust me, it’s not as bad as you think it is.

Deal with crap now.  Some things get worse with time. Leaky roofs, broken arms and rusty pipes (especially the metaphorical ones) don’t magically go away if you ignore them. Sunny days don’t last forever. If they did, you’d get bored.

Floss. When you get older, you’ll thank me for that one.

Hug your parents. They’ve been through hell. Then hug your siblings even though they made you go through hell. Don’t forget to hug yourself. Not for real. That’d be weird. But give yourself a break. You’re worth it.

Smile.

You might be in a hurry, dealing with a breakup or just haven’t screwed your face on right for the day. A smile fixes everything. Also, it makes you look good. And feel good. So, you’d better floss. If they don’t smile back, who cares? You flossed.

Make sure your kids hate you once and a while. They’ll thank you for it. But not until way later when they’ve got their own kids.

Say thank you. And please. Hold in that snarky comment. Speaking your mind lasts five minutes. Regrets last a lifetime.

Be kind. Exercise. Eat your greens. Work hard. Take a vacation. Stop stressing out.

But most of all….

 

Eat Chocolate.

The Author Conundrum

When I first started writing, I corked out a mystery/thriller in two months (it’ll NEVER see the light of day) that was in all intents and purposes fit for human consumption. It had no swearing and no sex because, lets face it, I am as vanilla as it gets. My first bit of advice on this book was from three well meaning and well known agents who said the same thing, “books written for adults will need adult content”.

In my vanilla mind, I thought that this meant a bit more action and maybe some “darn” and “dang it” thrown in. I allow you to laugh because I was naive and I am not ashamed of it. I scrapped the book, practiced writing a few more books which all failed miserably (four full length books to be exact). All of which seemed to get the same exact response as my first writing attempt: More adult content.

Books six, seven and eight, I really went out on a limb and managed to put in the words “D@%$” and “S$%#” in them. They were romances so I called up my writing buddy, told her which pages I needed a little steam in and she helped me find the words even though it made my toes curl. Books seven and eight got picked up by a fairly reputable publisher. This was going to be my big break!

I got some interesting notes back from the editor. She wanted a kiss on either page 45 or 60, heavy second and third base action going on by page 100 and full on sex by page 145. To add to that, she mentioned that I’d needed the F-word peppered into the novel because the F-word was what adults say when they’re angry. Oh, and if I could, my characters needed to be obsessed with each other (her words, not mine).

Um…say what?

I got off the phone with the editor and called my writing buddy. I was in a pickle. I’d never been the kind of writer that wrote that kind of stuff and now, I was being asked to put it in. What would happen if I said no? What if I did put it in my books? Then I was faced with this exact thought: What kind of writer am I?

Even though my writer buddy thought that I might be able to squeak by with minimal swearing additions and maybe a “behind closed doors” sex scene, I wasn’t so sure I could write it in, no matter how vague I was. While still on the phone, I happened to walk past the mirror in front entranceway of my house. Again, I was faced with a hard question as I stared myself down: What kind of writer am I?

Well, I got off the phone, called my editor and told her I don’t write in sex scenes, or heavy obsessive infatuation, or F-words. That’s just not the kind of stuff I write.

And then I got fired.

That was the end of my contract, my book was pulled from the publishing lineup and I was once again left with no publisher and a whole lot of books going nowhere. It was hard to be in that position. In retrospect, it was what kicked off the brainchild for Ian Quicksilver. It ended well, but at the time it was a little devastating.

 

Fast forward three years where I am in the middle of Ian Quicksilver Book #2 edits, Book #3 is complete and the outline for book #4 is getting hashed out. It looks as if all has turned up roses. And yet, I found myself on the phone again with my writing buddy having the same discussion about what kind of author I am. However, this time it wasn’t my writing on the line, it was another author wanting me to endorse her books. My buddy reminded me gently that we’d already had this discussion before. I already knew the answer, and I knew what I had to do.

So, let me put this out there so there is no confusion in the future. I am the author who writes for kids. I’ll make you laugh. Maybe I’ll make you cry too. You’ll get action and fights and good versus evil. My villains all tend to end up looking like and sounding as awesome as Benedict Cumberbatch (weirdly enough. Not sure how that happened, but it did) and my heroes are a mixture of Thor, Captain America and goofy teen boy. They don’t swear. You’ll NEVER get a sex scene out of me and the heroines are whiplash smart.

That is the kind of writer I am.

IAN QUICKSILVER: The Cursed Dagger (The adventure continues!!!)

Greetings Readers!

It feels like forever, time does not fly and waiting sucks. But the good news is that TODAY is the kick off day for Ian Quicksilver’s latest adventure! Ian Quicksilver: The Cursed Dagger comes out September 13th, 2016. While you have to wait a while to read what happens to our intrepid warrior, his crusty friend Corbin and the lovely Princess Arianna, you do get to see the cover.

Which, I do have to say, is just GORGEOUS!!

So, without further ado…. Here it is!!!

If you would like to reserve your copy, click HERE to preorder on Amazon.

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What’s in a NAME? Loads.

Growing up, I had the misfortune of being addressed by my middle name. The name Desiree has been mocked, joked and rhymed with so many times in my youth, there is literally NOTHING I have not heard that would even be remotely new (including injecting my name in musical ditties and so forth). For the record, I do not dislike my name. It has many uses and this is a good thing. When my mom yelled it, there were inflections of its pronunciation that made it clear if she merely wanted an audience with me or she was going to rip off my arm and use my head for batting practice.

Never, in all my years growing up, was my first name used by my family, friends or neighbors. Like, ever. It’s how I know I am home. Once I set foot on the soil of Paradise suddenly I have to remind myself that… oh yeah! I remember going by Desiree once… a billion years ago.

The big change came in sixth grade. It was a new middle school located clear across the valley and I was attending with an entirely new group of kids. Frankly, I wiped my brain clean of the awkward middle school years like they never happened (they didn’t, I had my memory store electrified), but I do remember my first day of school. All my teachers kept calling my by Alyson. Odd. It took me a while to catch on that this new female name was mine.

Shocker.

What I also found out was that I was PETRIFIED of correcting them. I think something like a peep of noise came out of my mouth in first period, but that was the last of it. Heaven forbid I ever raised my hand. That would be mortifying.

So, from sixth grade on, I became Alyson. I didn’t mind it either because the name caught on like wildfire and I never quite got around to going back to Desiree.

Which now brings us some twenty years later. I have gone to college, got married, had kids, moved away from home and moved back. I felt like I grew up and moved on, but whenever you move away (no amount of time changes these facts) and then come back, there is one thing certain: YOU HAVE NOT AGED ONE DAY SINCE YOU LEFT.

For example, I got married young and we moved to Oklahoma at a still fairly young age. So, naturally, when I moved back to my home state, it was as if I had never left in the first place and the seven years of separation never happened. This is the part that I hate. Suddenly everyone I grew up with (most especially my family) have had amnesia for nearly a decade and can no longer remember my name. Let me illustrate:

Since I have returned, on every occasion that I have been introduced to my sister’s/brother’s/parent’s friends and acquaintances, they have NO CLUE what my name is. As in, they draw a COMPLETE BLANK. Do we call her Desiree? Do we call her Alyson? Not only do they forget said name, they verbalize the conundrum OUT FREAKING LOUD.

“By golly, this is my sister…. Uh Desiree, or is it Alyson? We’ve called her Desiree all her life, but now she goes by Alyson. Gosh, I don’t know what to call you, Des. What would you like me to call you?”

This all goes down while the total stranger facing me has a fake smile pasted on their face, their eyes are unfocused and they’re wondering what planet they are on. How does this translate to the person I am being introduced to? As the following: This woman is obviously conflicted with serious identity crisis issues. Gosh, I really don’t want to get to know her because this freakizoid can’t even figure out her own name. Geez, do I have to shake her hand? I wonder if touching her will transfer her crazy to me! Crap, what do I do? Smile and nod.

Not to single out just my family on this matter. Frankly, they aren’t the only ones so, to be fair, pretty much every acquaintance I’ve had since FREAKING BIRTH, has this problem. So, to belay any further mishaps in the future…

Hi, my name is Alyson Desiree Peterson. I am a human being (I checked). No, I am not crazy, I am not contagious and I am not conflicted or have an identity issue. Yes, my parents named me Alyson, wrote it on my birth certificate and then decided that it wasn’t annoying enough to confuse people with a normal name and began addressing me by my middle name. Alyson or Desiree? I answer to both.

Pick a name and go with it.

The Secret Life of an Author

Welcome to the super secret life of an author.  In this post you will learn the mysteries of the universe, experience the creation of worlds and taste the expanse of the written word.

Every morning I wake up, refreshed and ready to tackle my writing projects with optimism.  Nothing I do is done half baked and I pride myself in writing with articulation and style.  I eat grammar, breath greatness and sweat gloriously clever plot.  My life is a perfect retelling of the most fabulous story ever to grace ink and paper   After all, what is life unless it cannot be lived with the utmost finesse?

Excuse me for a moment. I need to go dump a load of crap in the toilet.

I am not bitter, nor am I angry.  I am sore, hungover and in pain.  I am 24 hours past a devil of a root canal and right now, all I would like to do is go back to the dentist’s office and bite the dentist (which would be counter productive because I can’t really bite anything right now, DANG IT!!!).  The last thing I feel like doing is sitting and fleshing out a fabulous world, but there is something beautifully compelling about life’s experiences and the writing process.

The more crap you wade through in this life, the more interesting the writing you produce.

For example, back in the early 1990’s while all my friends were discovering video games, sitcoms and the new-fangled internet, I was milking the family cow by hand.  I know that sounds weird, but in my dairy producing hometown, while our neighbors had electronic suction for their herd, we had hands.  They had 4 wheelers to round up cows, we had a GMC suburban.  They had color tv, we had static.  Not to mention my parents were weird health nuts, so I swear EVERYONE had sugar and candy in the house and we definitely did NOT.

On the other hand, my childhood was FASCINATING!!!  I fished with a stick and string, I got chased by homicidal chickens, helped give birth to a calf, housed rabid breeding maniac rabbits in the basement (those suckers multiply exponentially!!!), watched (a little too gleefully) as chickens ran like speed zombies with their heads cut off AND we named our cows and tried to guess which cow we were eating at dinnertime.  That last one is a favorite family pastime.  You’d be amazed how accurate we got when we could identify the cow via flavor, toughness and color of their meet.

I escaped life by climbing on the roof of the barn, no cell phone or gameboy, just me and the fields, cows and motley assortment of animals.  I haven’t changed much today with a few minor alterations.  I live in the city.  My idea of animal husbandry is owning a dog and keeping her in relative good health.  My current life and the life of my family couldn’t be more different than my weird beginnings, but they are no less flavorful.

For example, I went to the dentist.  Said dentist is a very nice man.  He likes to drill holes in my teeth, all the way down my root, into my skull and scramble my brains.  It is a fair comparison to the ancient Egyptians who shoved a hook up to stir the brains up a bit and them rip them out through the nose. Which as a fairly accurate description to the feeling I had post-operation.

After the brain scrambling comes face paralysis, pain and uncontrollable drool, all of which are excessively attractive.  And I like to look my prettiest!

All of this is secondary to the fact that in one day’s time I am speaking at a writing conference.  I have five classes and a book signing to muddle through with slurred speech and a half scrambled brain. I could pull off being drunk without drinking a single drop of alcohol, but the clincher is that the conference is in Utah and arriving drunk (sans alcohol even) would be particularly frowned upon.

The stage is set.  I will go to the LTUE Writing Conference.  I will slur my way through teaching class and muff up my book signing, but by golly I will do it with STYLE!  Why, you may ask? Why put myself through the humiliation and shame?

Because I am a writer and the best/worst experiences are what makes the plot of my next book so amazing.  It is a craft to fail at life so epically and be able to let it roll onto the page like glorious fiction.

See you at LTUE peeps!

*LUTE is abbreviated of Life The Universe and Everything Else.  It is a writing conference held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah on February 11-13th.

DEEP DISCOUNT IAN

The savings just keep coming!!!

So, I know I ran a sale last week on my ebook, but I was just having so much fun with it that I decided to run an even deeper discount. Because really, who doesn’t LOVE a good sale???

From the 20th to the 25th of December, you can now purchase the Nook and Kindle version of Ian Quicksilver: The Warrior’s Return on AMAZON and BARNES AND NOBLE for a whopping $0.99!

Woot!

Have a happy jolly freaking awesome day!

-Alyson

IAN QUICKSILVER SALE!

Tis the season to READ!!

There is nothing better than curling up with a brand new book over the holidays when there is nothing to do except stay warm and read. Or so I am told. My holidays are usually filled with cooking and panicking. Dang it. But, I hear that mid-winter holiday reading is a blast.

SO… I am going to treat you all to some awesome reading! The e-book version of IAN QUICKSILVER:THE WARRIOR’S RETURN will be on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble for a piddly $4.99 from December 15th to the 20th!!!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy Holidays! And whatever other holidays you are, just be happy!

-Alyson

BOOK SIGNINGS!

Tis the season….

For a mass book signing.  I will be at three different Deseret Book stores in Utah over the next three weeks.  Starting with Saturday, November 28th at the University Mall Deseret Book Store in Provo, Utah from noon to 1:30pm.

Next week, December 5th, I will be at the Sandy Deseret Book from noon to 1:30pm. and my final signing for December will be on December 12th at the Bountiful location from noon to 1:30pm.

Make sure you come!  There will be more prizes to win, special treats to be eaten and (of course) books to be signed.  You won’t want to miss it!!

-Alyson Peterson