Friday, August 15, 2014

No Cover Charge

Hello everyone, I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a thousand German Shepherd puppies barking in unison to "Bad Company."

Well I have some exciting material for you all this week; I have the new cover for "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor!"


I am absolutely in love with this fabulous collaboration between the splendid artist, Anthony Carpenter, and the incredible graphic designer, Paul Brand!

This amazing cover and the words contained inside will be voyaging to bookstores and online booksellers near you September 7th!

Don't forget to check for updates on the book's Facebook Page, on Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads.


Friday, August 8, 2014

A Sneak Peek (with Dinosaurs)!

Hello! I hope everyone had a week that was better than the thought of a "Jurassic Park" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" mash-up!

This week, I am exuberantly excited to bring you a chapter from my upcoming book "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" which will be released September 7th!

If you haven't yet, quickly go "like" the book's Facebook page to stay up to date on more previews and exciting updates! 

So without further ado, I present the first public snippet of "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor!"

3. Everyone Follow Your Heart... Except You

There’s that age-old phrase that little girls are made from “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

Aside from having too many “ands” in it, that phrase could never have been used to describe me. I was more made from “wit and guile and everything wild.”

I was not a complacent little child. I refused to wear any dress that had ruffles or lace on it. The only way you could get me to sit in a chair for long periods of time was with a book, and even then my legs would be swinging away.

I never understood why in Sunday school I couldn’t color Jesus purple and draw green antennae on his head. Apparently, a four-year-old can commit “blasphemy” even though she can’t say it.

I also did not understand why it was weird for me to want to be Robin Hood as opposed to Maid Marian for Halloween. I mean, come on, Robin Hood had a bow and arrow. What did Maid Marian have, needlepoint?

And, though I was shy at first with most adults, if prodded enough, I definitely had an opinion on absolutely everything. I know, that last one is particularly shocking.

When I was in kindergarten I lived in Eugene, Oregon, a magical place where both the super conservative Promise Keepers religious group and the Grateful Dead once came to town on the same day and held performances two blocks away from each other.

Directly behind me lived a little boy about two years older than I, named Todd. Our back fences, which were actually just some super tall hedges, met with a gate in the middle. Every time I went over to Todd’s house to play it was like I was traveling through the portal to Narnia or the Secret Garden.

Todd wasn’t super popular with a lot of the other kids because he was extremely hyperactive. I loved him for it! We had the most amazing adventures and both ended up with some of the most fascinating scrapes and bruises. Of course, then we later had to explain to our parents how we got our injuries. The trick was doing so in a way that made it seem like playing Tarzan from the roof of the garage had a more logical thought process behind it than, “Let’s jump off the roof and swing from a bungee cord.”

 Todd introduced me to an amazing amount of pop culture. I first watched Power Rangers with him and quickly learned why no one wanted to be the blue Power Ranger when groups of us kids got together to pretend to defeat giant robots (cardboard boxes).

I first saw World Wrestling Federation, my eyes wider than one of Hulk Hogan’s biceps, from Todd’s parents’ couch. Of course, my four-or-five-year-old brain knew it was fake. That did not stop me from attempting to body slam Todd nor him trying to get me in an effective sleeper hold every chance
we got.

Probably the best and most influential piece of culture that Todd brought to me was Jurassic Park.

This was not a movie that I really was supposed to have been watching. However, at the age of five, I operated under the principle of “ask for forgiveness instead of permission,” more often than Keira Knightley is photographed with her mouth slightly open. I already loved dinosaurs, but that movie doubly solidified my adoration for the long dead creatures.

Dinosaurs were awesomely rad. They didn’t have to go to bed at nine, they didn’t have to listen to their teachers and they most certainly didn’t have to brush their teeth at least twice a day. Heck, dinosaurs couldn’t even be stopped by an amazingly good hunter, his skill being evidenced by his Australian accent, with a gun. What chance did parents have against that!?

My True Velociraptor Form
That movie was the true deciding factor; I wanted to be a dinosaur. To that end I quickly adopted my dinosaur persona, namely, that of a velociraptor. I would stomp around, making velociraptor calls and keeping my arms tucked in with two fingers protruding like claws.

Of course, at four or five years of age, adults tend to write this kind of behavior off as adorable. Somehow, I’ve discovered, as an adult people think it’s less cute when you
snarl at them.

I did not want to be “adorable.” I wanted to be fierce! This was a point that did not go over well when I chased after the other kids in Sunday school, roaring and snapping my teeth.

To answer your question, no, I did not have a lot of friends my age when I was a kid. Why do you ask?

Now, I had learned to read by the time I was in kindergarten, and not just little kid, “See Spot run” type books. I had chapter books under my belt by then and was happily working my way through books I found on Greek Mythology, dragons and, of course, dinosaurs.

Just because I could not pronounce half of the words I read, did not mean that I did not understand them. This was a fact my kindergarten teacher quickly learned when I asked her
for help with how to say a word and she said, “Oh honey, you don’t need to know what ‘peculiar’ means.”

I replied with, “I know what it means, it means weird. I just didn’t know how to say it.”

At first my kindergarten teacher was extremely excited that I could read, but then she realized how dangerous this truly was.

One day we had “Career Day,” where we were all going to talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up.

Looking back on this as an adult, it makes about as much sense to have a “Career Day” for kindergarteners as it does to have scrapbooking classes for sparrows. I am currently in my twenties and I honestly have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. How do you expect a kindergartener to know?

In any case, my teacher went around the room asking each little boy and girl what they wanted to be when they grew up.

“Remember, if you try hard enough and stay in school, you can be anything you want to be!”

Liar.

She started at the front of the class.

Suzy said, “Doctor!”

Matthew said, “Fireman!”

Sarah said, “Figure skater!”

Devon said, “Truck driver!”

It came to my turn and, being absolutely honest, I piped up with, “Velociraptor!”

My teacher sighed and blinked at me, “No, honey, you can’t be a velociraptor when you grow up.”

“Why?”

“Because little girls can’t grow up to be dinosaurs, pick something else.”

I mused for a minute, “Okay, I want to be Pegasus when I grow up!”

The teacher blew out some air, “No, try again.”

“Gryphon?”

“Nope.”

“Mutant Ninja Turtle?”

“No.”

“Phoenix?”

“No!”

We went back and forth like this for some time. I would list off a mythological creature or some strange alien being and my teacher would look more and more like she wanted to visit a
bar after work that day. Finally, she agreed to “President-ninja-Batman,” as it was at least human and moved on.

She may have moved on, but I was not giving up my dream of velociraptor glory.

A few weeks later, the kindergarten class was to put on a little mini-play about safety at our school assembly. Everyone in the class got a part.

My teacher, knowing my propensity to forget and then ad-lib things, gave me a part with one line. I was a random businessperson who was supposed to say, “I sell good veggies!”

Practices went well enough. I delivered my line and moved off stage and my teacher seemed to take fewer and fewer of the little white pills she kept in her desk with each passing day.

The day of our debut performance in front of a bunch of other elementary school kids finally came. I looked out at the crowds we would be performing for and immediately knew that my one line was too much for me to utter.

I was terrified. With all those little eyes watching me, I just knew that I was going to do something awful and embarrassing, like forget my line, walk off the edge of the stage or have to be the blue Power Ranger next time we were all playing together.

My teacher, attempting to herd all of her kindergarteners into place (a task much like herding weasels on crack) quickly dismissed my fears by saying, “Just pretend that you are what you want to be when you grow up! Think about how much courage you have to have for that job!”

Apparently my teacher had forgotten, one week later, that my vocational goals were as follows:

1. Become a velociraptor.

2. Run around roaring and eating animals.

3. Never have a set bedtime ever again.

4. Generally be awesome.

The performance went smoothly enough and then it came the time for the shopkeeper to come on stage and say her one line.

I got up on stage, looked out at the crowd of other kids, and immediately channeled my inner-velociraptor.

My hands came up into their claw position, I bared my teeth and I roared. The rest of the teachers looked at my teacher for a minute, almost believing this might be part of the play. Their hopes that this was planned were immediately dashed against the jagged rocks of reality, as I roared again and proceeded to chase Jimmy off of the stage.

Despite the punishment waiting for me at home, I never gave up on my velociraptor dream. Granted, today I can’t really roar at non-compliant clients and chase them out of my office, but if you’re around me enough, you might catch me in a moment where just a little bit of velociraptor shines through.

So, what scraps of knowledge can be picked from the bones of experience?

1. If you want normal, rather bland children, don’t teach them to read early. However, if you want awesome children, with huge imaginations, who can solve problems and think things through, then teach them to read as early as you can!

2. The weirdest kids on the block oftentimes simultaneously have the biggest bruises and the most fun.

3. Don’t try to cage the velociraptor, it will only come back to bite you in the end. Sometimes literally.

If you liked this excerpt, the rest of "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" will be sailing to a bookstore shelf or online store near you! Don't forget to go like the book's Facebook page for updates!

Friday, August 1, 2014

You Can't Cage A "Free Spirit"

Hello all, I hope you have all had a more fabulous week than the thought of a battle between Donald Trump's toupee and a weasel!

First off I now have a release date for my second book!!! "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" will be sailing into a bookstore or online vendor near you on September 7th!!!

If you want updates about the book, please check out the Facebook page my awesome publisher, Sweatshoppe Publications, has put together here.

For those of you who don't know, this month I took a position as the head of security for the largest homeless shelter in Spokane.

Basically if I were to describe my job in a nutshell it would be, "I spend all day never knowing whether I will next be faced with someone who made a knife out of salad tongs or have to settle an argument between a man and the voices in his head."

It's an adventure and a half.

I've only been working there a month, but I already have enough fascinating and interesting moments to probably fill another two, or thirteen, books.

This past week, however, I had a "once in a great while" occurrence. I was sitting in my office writing up a report on another incident involving someone wearing pizza boxes as "armor" and trying to pick fights, when there was a knock in my door.

I opened the door to find one of our older clients who was looking shamefully at the floor. I had barely said "Hi" when he blurted out with, "I was smoking pot in the courtyard, I'll see you at sanctions next week."

I blinked as he wandered out. He had just admitted to something I probably would not have caught him doing and had kicked himself out. If they all did this my job would be ninety times easier.

Every week we hold a sanctions meeting, which is for patrons who have been banned to come in and give their side of the story. We then weigh their side of things and can adjust the length person's ban if need be. We had already decided to let this guy back in for willfully admitting his wrongdoing, but we still heard him out.

He sat in the chair looking extremely apologetic as he again and again said, "I know I shouldn't have, it was stupid."

We all thanked him for being willing to take responsibility for his actions. Then, suddenly, he turned to me, held up his hand and said, "Ma'am, you need to understand, I'm a free spirit, I don't follow the law."

I just shrugged as he continued, "I don't follow the rules ma'am, I'm a bad-boy, I just run with the wind, I can't be caged."

It took everything within me to not burst out laughing as I said, "I will remember that. Remember, if you're going to be a "bad-boy" you should do so at least two blocks away from our building, ok?"

He nodded, "Oh, of course! But remember, I'm a bad-boy."

"I'll remember, your bad-boy status is safe."

What lessons can be pulled from this little experience?

1.  "Bad-boy" has now been redefined to someone who feels too much guilt after doing something wrong and turns themselves in.

2. You can't cage a "free spirit." That's okay, though, as the "free spirit" is apparently likely to cage themselves. 

Would anyone else like to redefine a term or two for me this week?

Don't forget, you can always find me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!


Friday, July 25, 2014

We're Not In Kansas Anymore...

Hello all! I hope you had a more fabulous week than the thought of a Civil War reenactment fought with marshmallow guns!

Well, I had a lovely little adventure this past week (and by "lovely" I mean "bizarre and unbelievable," of course).

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding (Congratulations to Annie and Caleb Reynolds!!!), which was located about two and a half hours away from where I live.

The wedding rehearsal was set for the night before the big day.

"No big deal, I'll just drive over there directly after work and everything will be dandy!"

I lived in that optimistic delusion for approximately forty-five miles of interstate. Suddenly, I was met with a sea of brake lights and I found that the interstate had been transformed into a parking lot.

Now, please keep in mind that I drive a 1993 Dodge Dakota that has working air conditioning approximately half of the time. The odds were not in my favor that day as the summer sun pounded down on our immobile vehicles. My truck became an oven on wheels as I sat, still in my work clothes, in the middle of the slowest seventy mile per hour zone I have ever been in. Legless turtles in molasses could have made it to Prosser, Washington before me.

At one point I turned off my truck's engine, got out and started a conversation with my fellow captives. None of us could figure out what the hold-up could be.

It is construction season in Washington, but usually that only slows things up as opposed to creating a dead stop. One guy postulated that there must have been a multi-car wreck, but no one had seen ambulances going the other way which would have indicated such a catastrophe.


Finally, after over an hour someone up ahead yelled, "I think we have movement!"

Excitedly we all rushed back to our vehicles, started our engines and waited in anticipation. The car ahead of me began to roll forward and I followed, relieved to finally be moving. Then their brake lights flashed on and we were stopped again, a whole foot and a half gained.

We inched onwards like this for nearly an hour. Miles of cars were piled up behind me as we trudged ever onwards towards our seemingly impossible destination.

Finally, after having been thoroughly roasted in my own vehicle, I crested a small hill and saw that I was near the front of the line to escape the mass of trapped cars.

I also saw what had created our two hours of traffic purgatory: A two story house had fallen off of a trailer and had landed smack in the middle of the interstate.

Yep, you read correctly, someone dropped a two-story house and created a several mile long parking lot on a seventy mile per hour stretch of road. As I drove by I half expected to see the Wicked Witch of the East's feet curl up and vanish under the house while the Wicked Witch of the West yelled, "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog Toto too!"

As I inched forward I got the opportunity to watch a tractor pull the second story off of the road.

My two and a half hours road trip turned into a four and a half hour long test of my ability to not scream at slow moving vehicles. When I finally did arrive, well after the rehearsal was completed, and explained my predicament my friend Annie just shook her head and said, "Only you would travel to The Magical Land of Oz and leave to try and make it to a wedding rehearsal."

So what lessons can be learned from my little misadventure?

1. Make sure you properly tie down any and all houses you might want to move. Particularly if you are going to be transporting them on the main artery through a state so that you don't give it a coronary or kill any unsuspecting witches.

2. You can cook an egg on the hood of my truck on a hot day. Granted, I didn't have an egg to test this with, but considering my plastic water bottle melted there, I'm guessing it could effectively fry an egg.

Don't forget to follow all my adventures on FacebookTwitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Read or Die!!!

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more splendid than the thought of "The William Tell Overture" played by drunk weasels on glockenspiels.

So I had a conversation this week that went much like this:

Me: "So what do you like to read?"

Other Person: "I don't read."

Me: "Wait, what!? Seriously, what is your favorite book?"

Other Person: "I don't have one, I don't like to read."

Sadly this is not the first conversation like this that I've had. As a human being, this saddens me. As an author, this terrifies me.

This particularly worries me when I read (that's right read) statistics like these:


Mark Twain once said "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

What advantages are there to being a reader? Let me lay them out for you.

1. Readers tend to be better in relationships.

Studies have shown that people who read a lot tend to feel a broader spectrum of emotions, which they were exposed to as they read about and empathized with the emotions of many different characters. This means that people who read oftentimes are better at empathizing with another human's emotions reducing relational conflict.

2. Reading something you enjoy reduces stress.

Really, it does!


3. Reading helps prevent Alzheimer's.

Reading is like push-ups for the brain, keeping it stronger and more resistant to deterioration. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that senior citizens who consistently read were two and a half times less likely to end up with Alzheimer's.

4. Reading improves your memory.

Remembering plot lines, multiple characters, important details, these are all skills that are built when one is reading a book. How does that translate into the real world? How about remembering job assignments, peoples' names and where you left your keys?

5. You gain better analytical thinking skills.

Reading provides one with multiple perspectives, solutions and logic tracks, meaning that when you face a problem in the real world, you have more tools at your disposal than if you had just played a video game.

6. Reading builds your vocabulary.

It is estimated that there are around 200,000 words in the English language. The average American will use a grand total of 20,000-35,000 in their entire lifetime. For avid readers, however, that number jumps up by several thousand.

7. It's free entertainment!

Seriously, you don't have to pay a dime if you don't want to. That is why libraries are such amazing places! For free you can travel to far off lands or fight pirates or ride a dinosaur! Who doesn't want a free dinosaur ride?

8. You learn more!

It is said that if you read in one field of study for one hour a day for seven years, you would be an international expert on that topic. Go and try to do that watching episodes of "Teen Wolf."

9. You will have things to actually talk about with others.

Reading opens up all kinds of doors, including conversational ones.

"Hey, you're reading James Patterson! Which one of his books is your favorite?"

"You like the Harry Potter series? Me to!"

"Did you like the Hunger Games books or movies better?"

See how easy that is!

Go! Pick up a book! Immerse yourself in your own private break from reality! You have no reason not to and lots of reasons why you should!

In other exciting news, Weird Al Yankovic released a new album called "Mandatory Fun" (which is amazing, go buy this album), and one of the songs "Word Crimes" (a remake of the awful "Blurred Lines") seemed rather fitting. 



As always, I can be found on FacebookTwitter (@AllisonHawn) or Goodreads!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nope, It's Just My Face...

Hello all, I hope your weeks have been more splendid than the thought of Pacman being played by a drunk orangutan!

I'm actually really proud of myself for spelling orangutan correctly on the first try without using spell check.


This week, I feel the need to bring attention to an issue that affects thousands of people all over the world. This condition creates confusion, upset and general misconceptions, but will never be given its own sad Sarah Mclachlan song.

Yes, I too occasionally suffer from Resting Bitch Face.

RBF is when someone has a neutral expression that makes them seem less than enthused with their surroundings. Oftentimes the thoughts in that person's head go no deeper than, "Do I want tacos or a enchiladas for lunch today?" but their facial expression looks kind of like this:

This Is Just My Face
So on behalf of everyone else who sometimes suffers from RBF, here are some things that we would like to say to you:  

1. No, I'm not angry or upset.

I am thinking, processing  or spacing out, if I were angry I would probably say something. However, if you ask me 34 times if I am angry then eventually my answer will be "yes."

2. It physically hurts to smile for long periods of time.

No really. I once had a book signing that lasted for four hours, my face was actually sore afterwards. I have a friend who literally can only get one half of her mouth to smile at a time!

3. I am excited!

Just because I don't jump around like a pekingese on crack doesn't mean that I don't think that the newest superhero film isn't going to be cool. I do!

4. Yes, I'm sure that I do look really intense at the gym.

Oftentimes at the gym I'm lifting somewhere between 95 and 300 pounds, so I think intense is justified. Also, I don't wear my glasses to the gym, so I'm intently trying to figure out whether I'm being approached by a human or an alien blob.

5. I'm kidding.

If I say something that sounds like nothing a rational person would say, I'm kidding. Just because I don't immediately follow every one of my lines with a self-induced chuckle doesn't mean that I'm serious.

6. Nope, really this is just my neutral face and not a cry for help.

I was actually thinking about how they make Chex mix, but now I guess we're going to launch into a ten-minute debate over whether I'm really okay or not. I preferred thinking about Chex mix.

7. Stop asking me to smile all the time.

I do my fair share of smiling. If I have a reason to smile, I will smile. It is only some weird Stepford-Wives-ish society that thinks women have to be smiling all the time. 

Has anyone else had some interesting experiences with their own RBF? If so drop a comment below and other RBF sufferers know that they aren't alone in their struggle to not seem like they are ready to murder something.

As always you can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's a Hoopfestation!

Hello everyone! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a hundred bald eagles, with sparklers, synchronized flying to "America the Beautiful!"

First off, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!


Enjoy the day off everyone!

Well, this past weekend I had a book signing at Auntie's Bookstore smack-dab in the middle of a lot of Hoopfest action.

Thank you so much to the other authors, Katelyn Schneider and Su Williams, and everyone who braved the crowds to come say hello and stop and chat with us!

For those who do not know what Hoopfest is, it is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet. Over 7,000 teams come from all over the world to compete, effectively shutting down all of downtown Spokane as the streets and any available flat surfaces are turned into basketball courts.

For those who live in Spokane it is a weekend where most of us batten down the hatches and barricade ourselves into our homes, praying for the Hoop-festation, and its accompany Hoop-crestations, to leave us be.

The trip to Auntie's (which usually takes me around 20 minutes on foot) took over a hour, as I wound my way through the clutter of basketball courts and crazed spectators.

At one point I was literally grabbed by a random stranger and given a noogie. I was so startled, I didn't really react, I just stood there and blinked a lot.

So, I arrived at the book signing appearing a bit like I was trying to make my hair look like that of a deranged anime character.

At least I didn't get trampled this year. Yeah, we'll just focus on the positive there.

Again, thank you to everyone who showed their support this weekend! More events will be forthcoming for those who missed this one! 

Don't forget to come find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!