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

Salt Lake City: COMIC CON 2015

I don’t get many opportunities to go and do something epic. When I do, I take hold and throttle it. It’s that weird ‘seize the day’ thing. That is Comic Con in a nutshell. However, instead of just me doing the throttling, it’s THOUSANDS of day seizing folks all crammed into one convention center. It’s the sort of geek outing, comic book crazies, star wars fans gathering, and Science Fiction underground of the likes I’ve never quite seen before. Which is probably why it took me nearly an entire month to recover from it and write a post about it.

Yeah, I know. Epic, right?

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(Our booth before everything got crazy and everything turned into a massive mess!)

First of all, I have to say that you meet a lot of cool peeps there. For example, who knew that The Michael Vey booth would be a scant six booths away from mine and the illustrious Richard Paul Evans would walk past a half dozen times? You just can’t plan that stuff. I couldn’t plan rugby tackling him either, fan-girling embarrassingly so, and then getting a selfie with the dude. He took it with fantastic grace and charm. He was a good sport.

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(Richard Paul Evans and me!  He was VERY nice)

Then there were my booth mates. Ryan Hancock took the grand prize for bringing the crazy and making it work to everyone’s advantage. He donned a wig, Hogwarts robes (Slytherin House) and adopted a British accent. If anyone could pull that off, Ryan can and did.

I also found a fellow soul sister in Adrienne Quintana. We are both from large families with unusual backgrounds. She is excellent at the dreaded snerk-laugh. She showed up in Star Wars Leah buns and floor length white Leah garb. Her tag line was to “Buy my book and I’ll let you touch my buns”. To which a few males took her a little too literally.

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(Adrienne and her Leah Buns on the left, me (center) and a surly looking Ryan/Slytherin on the right)

I got to hang out with the oh-so-lovely and graceful Emily Wheeler. I actually feel more educated when she is around. She could wipe the floor with me when it comes to tact and social sweetness.

There were other booth mates as well, but I didn’t get to spend much time with them as we were all taking shifts at different times. Tony, even at his matured age, kept us all laughing and the rest I merely got to high five as we passed each other.

Then came the actual people. I took pictures with a select few because their costumes were particularly fantastic. Whether it be craftsmanship or sheer ingenuity, I found ways to snag them out of the crowd and ask for a photo.

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(Me and a VERY convincing Robert Downy Jr.)

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(Ian hanging out with this fairly dangerous looking SHIELD agent who was very sweet)

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(Ever seen a Steampunk Fox before?  She nailed it!)

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(This guy hand crafted his pirate suit.  The camera on my phone didn’t do it justice)

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(This guy was sporting six inch stilettos as a dude-Maleficent.  I was certain he’d lost a bet, but nope!  He mastered his look amazingly well!)

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(You couldn’t go anywhere at Comic Con without running into the Book Bot.  At just over 7 feet tall he was hard to miss)

In the end, I had a fabulous time and I will definitely do Comic Con again. Many who purchased my book were recipients of my Super Secret GOLDEN TICKET that is cleverly hidden between the sacred pages of IAN QUICKSILVER awesomeness. Prize were given in abundance and are being mailed out this week. I am delighted that I get to give back to my readers, even if it is in a small, fairly insignificant way. I love my readers. They light a fire under me that will shine through the pages of many books to come!

 

-Alyson

PS.  Many more GOLDEN TICKETS have been secretly stashed away in my books. If you want a chance at snagging one, stop on by my Events Page to see where I will be next. Buy a Book, find a ticket and win awesome things like a leather bound Warrior Log book, an author signed sword and more!

I write for BOOKS for BOYS (QUICKSILVER SERIES SPOILERS!!!)

I have two teenage boys.  They are full of snark, dry humor and a whole load of gas (verbal and otherwise).  Being around boys 24/7 doesn’t make me an expert on what a boy’s thought process is, how they deal with tricky situations or what the HECK got into their heads or WHY on earth they thought (whatever caused all that screaming) was a good idea.  I am not a pro, but I am learning.

My boys are very good at cluing me in on a boy’s life.  Just the other day, my youngest wanted to know what flirting was, how it is acted out and if it is, at all, necessary when communicating with girls (he finds flirting pointless and as he puts it, either he likes a girl or he doesn’t and that’s that).  While my older son one-upped him by saying there is a girl chasing him at school already.  She flirts and giggles and basically drapes herself all over him.  His blunt reply TWO DAYS into the school year was “God has a path for all of us and your path is away from mine.”  I have to admit, I had to stifle a snort with that one.

So, it should come as no surprise AT ALL that when I write a boy/girl situation it’s going to go something like this:

I caught sight of Corbin who had an eyebrow cocked expectantly. Yeah, yeah. He was after that date thing again. Well, now was as good time as any to make a complete fool out of myself.

“So, uh…Ari, now that things are ‘official,’ how about I take you out on a date?”

Ari jumped upright and slammed the back of her head into the underside of her locker shelf.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She rubbed the forming goose egg. “A date? Like an actual ‘you come pick me up and we go somewhere’ date?”

“Something like that, yeah.” I should have offered to hang out and then eased into a date.

“Okay, sure. I suppose a date wouldn’t hurt.”

Um. What did she mean by that?

“Great,” I said a little less enthusiastic than I intended. “I guess I’ll pick you up at six then?”

“At my house? With my parents?” She began panic breathing in short gasps. Her eyes were wide and miniature bolts of lightning shot between her fingers. Any second and she was going to pass out.

“Breathe, Ari,” I coaxed, tapping her shoulder a few times to release the excess energy. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Right,” she panted. “Not a big deal at all.”

Farther down the hall, I could hear Corbin grumble in irritation. I looked up, found him through the sea of heads in the hall and shrugged. Heck, I didn’t know what her problem was. How was I supposed to know that the mention of a date would throw her into cardiac arrest?

I really don’t TRY to torture my characters on purpose.  But when I have such shining examples of boy/girl interaction from my own sons, it’s kind of hard not to.

Consulting my sons before going forward with writing is fundamental as well.  The more I observe their attitudes and their frank wistful desire that females were (heaven forbid) more direct, the more I put it down on the page.  I think all women WISH that men would wipe away their tears and say incredibly thoughtful things.  The agonizing truth is that they don’t.  A good man speaks the truth and the truth (usually) from a man is pretty blunt.  Which then had me writing this:

“For starters,” he said. “There is a lot of fighting involved. And it’s fairly physical… in exertion, not in… the other way.” Corbin’s neck turned a few shades of red.. “All you need to know, Princess, is that when Warriors meet, they fight, and that’s pretty much the end of it. Attraction has very little to do with the process. Bankhir women are built for battle; all a warrior male needs is a shove in the right direction. Usually in the form of the stinging flat end of a blade, maybe a right hook to the nose, or something along those lines. Female Warriors are very direct. Either they like you or you’re dead.”

Ari’s mouth hung open and she wasn’t blinking. “I think you’re right, ,” she squeaked. “That probably wouldn’t work in my case.”

Corbin shrugged. “It makes things a lot easier.”

Now I am not saying that all males are dense in the romance department.  My own husband gets it right more often than not (NO, I STILL HAVEN’T FORGIVEN HIM FOR GIVING ME A BATHROOM SCALE FOR MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!!!!)  That being said, when I wrote one fairly mushy scene, I had my youngest and more practical, girl-warry son read it for emotional correctness.  He read it, thought about it and agreed; it was pretty close to dead on.

Right. I couldn’t think straight. My brain was going into radioactive meltdown mode seeing as Ari was right there. And I mean right there. Our noses were almost touching and she kept staring at me… expecting, waiting. I think it was a cue for me to kiss her. Then again, the last time I tried, she slapped me with a bazillion volts of charged magic.

Tonight, Ari didn’t seem to be in a slapping mood. Her chin tilted upward and her eyelids drooped closed. Yeah. Even an emotional idiot such as myself knew what that meant.

I got a millimeter shy of her lips when everything went nuclear. Ari’s body shuddered as she heaved involuntarily. Her hands turned to ice on my arms and went slippery with cold sweat. Pushing me away, she twisted sharply in time to hurl her stomach contents all over the desert floor.

That was unexpected.

“Well,” I kidded. “At least we’ve established how bad my kissing skills are.”

And for all those Ian/Ari shippers out there that are just dying to read something special, darling and mush-ridden between our two favorite royals, well… sorry.  I write books for boys and it’ll have to be boy approved first!

 

 

-Alyson

Excerpts provided by Ian Quicksilver Book II