I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tour Stop and FREE MONEY! Working for "The Man"

Find Elizabeth on Facebook!

I'm super excited today to be a tour stop for the AMAZINGLY talented Elizabeth Seckman! 

(Skim at your own risk - there's a giveaway within!)
Elizabeth is an author, a wife, a mother of FOUR active boys, and yet she is one of the most prolific bloggers and productive writers I know. Add to that already impressive mix her great personality and ability to get you giggling within 2 minutes of meeting her and you should be as surprised as I am that she hasn't taken over the Tonight Show yet!

Elizabeth's 2nd novel, Healing Summer, hit the shelves in December and as far as her readers are concerned the next one can't come soon enough. I'm a hardcore Fantasy/SF addict, but Elizabeth has a flair for wit, situational irony and dialogue that made me happily add her first novel, Past Due, to the incredibly short list of romance novels that not only have I read, but I've loved! Take a look a the blurb for Healing Summer and even try telling me that this doesn't sound like a blast to read:

Click here to find 'Healing Summer' and 'Past Due' on Amazon!

Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds...
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?
“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.

Find all of Elizabeth's tour stops here!

As part of Elizabeth's Blog Tour she's agreed to let her hosts give her the first prompt that popped into our silly little heads. Brave, isn't she? Given that I'd been dealing government job frustrations at the time, I gave her the prompt of 'Working for 'The Man.'' Being the sweetheart that she is, she took my temper tantrum rant and turned it into the inspiration for an ode to her husband... 'The Man' at her house :-)

Working for the Man!
In my house, Da Man is Mr. Chad Seckman!
 He’s the king of the castle-
The prince of all he purveys-
The master of the manor-
The shiz of the nit…
And he has no clue where his clothes are kept-
Or how to match an outfit-
Or the name of his favorite salad dressing-
Or the names of his kids’ teachers-
Or his cousins-
He always knows where I left my keys, my purse, and my phone.
And he’s the one who fills the toilet paper roll, the dog food bin, and the gas tank.
We have a special relationship-
He’s the boss and I’m the board. 

Don't Miss What's Next!

If you can't tell already, she's FAR nicer than I am. In fact, she's so nice that she's even giving away $100 to a lucky winner of this Rafflecopter giveaway. Be sure to enter and share the love!  You can also find all of her other stops from this tour here. Check them out and be sure to vote for your favorite by commenting on her page!

For the roll-up, here's the skinny on how to find Elizabeth in all of her favorite hangouts:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Seckman-Author/361427683923220
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5806570.Elizabeth_Seckman 
Blogger: http://eseckman.blogspot.com/
Her Books: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=elizabeth%20seckman&sprefix=elizabeth%20seckman,aps,489&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aelizabeth%20seckman&ajr=2 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Price of 'What If'

I recently had a chance to catch up with an old friend that I haven’t seen in years. We met ages ago in class at the University of Kentucky (which neither of us finished) in Lexington, KY (where neither of us stayed). But while we were still starry-eyed coeds we had so many plans, from opening an aviary together to having double weddings and making sure our children went to school together and grew up to be best friends. 20 is a great age for making plans. 30 is a great age to be grateful if those plans didn't pan out.

Now we’re both 32, never married and without children, and both of us have managed to find success in our own ways despite not finishing college. And though we both have parrots, neither of us ever went on to open that aviary (Flights of Fancy, we wanted to call it). Our chat was too short for having been apart for so long, but after we laughed about the silly ideas we had of what our lives would be like before the realities of stress, taxes, and cellulite, she asked me a very important question.

Em: “Do you ever wonder ‘what if…’?”
Me: “I write fantasy. It’s my job to wonder What If… Everything.”

I was being glib at the time, but I really should have given more thought to her question and given her the kind of answer it deserved. The truth is, ‘What If?’ is the price I paid for everything that I am today and everything that I have ever written.

Every decision we make, no matter how large or small, closes the doors to infinite possibilities labeled ‘What If,’ and behind those hide all of the other lives we might have led. It’s easy to imagine what those doors might look like; in my case, I picture them standing in a long Wonka-style hall dwindling away to a tiny speck at the end. Incidentally, the carpet is purple. I’m tempted to visit my earliest What Ifs for fun, like the one that would have led me to a life of hardened crime if I’d chosen to play the Baroness instead of Lady Jaye or Scarlett when we played GI Joes as kids. Or maybe the What If from those days in college when I decided to sidetrack my dream of writing by giving up on my English major and declaring Business instead out of a sensible fear of starvation. It’s so tempting to open those doors again… but the price you pay to make that choice is the same you paid for this one. Open another door and the one behind you shuts forever.

Granted, that was a fairly gross generalization (the kind I’d normally hate to read, let alone write) and if I dwelt on that analogy for too long I’d end up frozen in a decision-paralysis and even the Hershey bar vs. Snickers choice at the vending machine would send me into a drooling fit. But sometimes taking an idea to an extreme is useful because it helps prevent you from taking the more moderate consequences for granted. And here’s the kicker:

It’s every bit as true in writing as it is in life. 

Were you wondering how much longer before I turned this into a post about writing? I held off longer than I thought possible. But think about it… As writers we write life the way we see it (or would like to see it) and we have no less difficult decisions ahead of us than the characters we create. There have been so many times in the past that I've wrestled with some plot problem or another and finally moved on, convincing myself that it was minor enough that I could work it out later. Well, guess what? It turns out that there are no minor plot problems.

Those problems represent decisions that need to be made because every element in your story line is dependent on the rest. And if it isn't, then in all likelihood you have extraneous fodder sneaking into your story that needs to be gutted to make your novel tighter. Making the right decisions early on is crucial to completing your vision and making sure your ‘What Ifs’ don’t haunt your characters on their journey to the end you want them to have; the doors that you might inadvertently close with a hasty/easy choice might not even be evident until you’re ¾ of the way through your book! Unlike in real life, we do have that wonderful thing known as The Second Draft where we can reopen the doors we needed and perfect the journey. But could anything be more magical than getting all the way through your First Draft and discovering that because you were careful in your decisions and true to your vision, you don’t have to rewrite almost everything?

And be sure that this is a ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ kind of moment for me. Having completed only four full novels, it might be four or forty more before I can master that trick in my outlining. I may be aware now of the importance of these issues that I usually ignored, but I’m also about to delve into a heavy rewrite for my 2nd draft of Tilt because I had never given any credence to it before. So to quote the sagest advice we ever receive as kids, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” - Some real American heroes.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway!

Check it out!! 

Click the widget below for a chance to win one of 3 copies of Alice Will to be given away at the end of the month!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Alice Will by Ashley Chappell

Alice Will

by Ashley Chappell

Giveaway ends January 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win