Seven-day vegan challenge, baby. Solves all yo’ problems

Youngest son convinced the family to go on the seven-day vegan challenge (Solves all yo’ problems, baby!)  This may or may not have something to do with the fact that Jaidan, a girl he is friends with, is vegan. His social life needs all the help it can get, so if going without animal products for a week will help him, it’s worth the sacrifice, right?

I thought I would blog a bit of the experience.

Pre-day: Monday night the family played Head’s Up, a game you play on your phone with a group of people. A word flashes on the screen, and you’ve got to make one person guess what the word is without ever saying the word. You try to go through as many words as you can in your turn. When it was son’s turn, he kept getting animals. My clue was always: “We will not be eating this!”

Second Pre-day: We decided we needed to get more food for the week (and an actual menu), so we took an additional day to prepare.After a dental appointment,  I went shopping at a new health food store. Unfortunately, my mouth was half numb and not really working.

Me to teenage boy stocking shelves: Where is the vegan bouillon? (which may have sounded a little like: where is the egen owlan?)

Him: What?

Me: Vegan bouillon?

Him: What?

Me, looking down at the shopping list and realizing that I still had to find the vegan tiki masala sauce and the sriracha: Silently sobs…

First day: Vegan all day, no problem. Neither of the kids liked the mango, blueberry and quinoa salad we had for dinner, but I thought it was good.

Second day: Red lentils with curry sauce for dinner. Kids didn’t like this either, so being vegan hasn’t really changed any of the dinnertime rituals. I’m craving my chocolate protein bars in a bad way, but the last ingredient mentions milk products. I stepped on the scale that night and noticed I’d gained two pounds. Seriously? I thought being a vegan was supposed to make you lose weight.

Third day: I’m singing the Heathens song, but with the words:

All my friends are vegan, take it slow. Wait for them to tell you what they know.

Please don’t make any chocolate mousse. You don’t know half of the abuse…

The words transfer surprisingly well. Youngest son doesn’t appreciate my humor. That’s okay. One day he’ll be forced to watch his own teenagers roll their eyes at him. Karma, baby.

Fourth day: No need to make dinner. There’s still plenty of red lentils with curry sauce left. So that’s a plus.

Fifth day: Finished off the curry lentils for lunch and made bean soup–using the much sought after vegan bouillon–for dinner. I also cooked up a huge pot of brussel sprouts.  The kids decided they will live on tofu chicken nuggets and peanut butter and jam sandwiches instead. I’m still craving my protein bars and cheese sticks.

Sixth day: Not going to lie, when I sat down at the computer today, my mind felt so fuzzy that I couldn’t think well, and it sort of freaked me out–made me wonder if I was protein deficient. (Is that even a thing?) In all fairness, my brain fog could have been due to something else. Still, I cheated and ate a cheese stick. The cows will have to forgive me.

Seventh day: Is anyone out there surprised that there is still bean soup left and I seem to be the only one eating it? I pointed out to the kids that the fridge is full of uneaten vegetables but they are unmoved. I will clearly be eating mostly vegan for a while more.

So that was it. Oh, and I also watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. According to it, plant-based diets help all sorts of health problems including cancer, heart artery blockage and diabetes. I would love to know if the studies they quoted are accurate. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the animal cruelty ones. I will just pretend that I watched them and eat less meat.


TBR book giveaway

godzilla-1Do you know that feeling when you’re on top of your to-do list? I don’t. Seriously, I don’t think it’s ever happened. I am much more likely to forget the things that were on my to-do list than complete them, like putting this blog up on the 14th, like I was supposed to do.

Sorry about that.

So anyway, I was talking with Tressa from Wishful Endings and she told me about her read-a-thon, where you tackle your to-read stack. Or add to it. I’ve forgotten the idea, or maybe I’m just incapable of shrinking my to-read list. But enough about me. Let’s talk about my books.

In the Slayers series, dragons are real and they’re coming back to the modern world. They don’t want to be our friends–which shouldn’t surprise any of us that have actually considered what a dragon looks like. Are they cuddly, furry creatures like cats, dogs, and horses that might like us? No, they are clearly carnivores and would like nothing better than to eat one of our limbs.

In the last book of the series, dragons are going to be flying around DC causing havoc. I admit that this scene may be inspired by all of those Godzilla movies I watched as a child. Don’t ask me why my parents let a small, impressionable child watch a giant, scary lizardish monster destroy cities. I don’t have a good answer. It clearly scarred me. I had lots of Godzilla nightmares.

For a chance of your choice of one of my books (if you live outside the US, it’s a choice of one of my ebooks) leave a comment telling me what your childhood fear was.

Also, to see more of Wishful Endings book giveaway blogs, check out

The Wrong Side of Magic giveaway

WrongSideMagic_CVRYet another book giveaway! This is what happens when you have two books that come out in the same month.

So, here’s the next giveaway. My favorite childhood book was The Phantom  Tollbooth (Which inspired me to write The Wrong Side of Magic) Leave a comment telling me your favorite childhood book for a chance to win a copy of The Wrong Side of Magic or a hardback 50th edition copy of The Phantom Tollbooth. I’ll choose that winner on Sept 5th.

Everyone who leaves a review on Amazon of The Wrong Side of Magic in between now and September 10th (and lives in the US) will win a copy of your choice of a hardback of My Double Life, Revenge of the Cheerleaders, My Unfair Godmother, or a paperback of Slayers, My Fair Godmother or It’s a Mall World After All. It’s like buy one book and get one free, pretty much. (If you live out of the states, I’ll set you up with an ebook of your choice.) After you leave your review, tell me which one it was at jrallisonfans and remember to also give me your book choice and address. Cuz, yeah, I don’t know that information off hand.phantom tollbooth Oh, and here are some pictures from the book launch.magic book launch 4magic book launchmagic book launch 3magic book launch 2

When will Slayers 4 be out/ When will the fourth Slayers be out

That title was just my way of making it easier for search engines to find this answer, because I’ve already had a lot of people ask and the book has only been out a week.

I’m busy with deadlines for other books until Nov 1st, and then I’ll break out the manuscript and start working on it again. I was in the climax but have 50-100 pages left to write. And then the work of revisions start. And sadly, this takes a long time. Remember how your English teacher told you that Shakespeare was so brilliant he only wrote one draft? Hogwash. I mean, any author worth their salt (or in this case the 4.99 you pay on Amazon) does a ton of revisions. And I want you to feel that you got your money’s worth.

So, I’m aiming for the February 2017, but I’m frequently optimistic about how long writing takes so it may very well be later.

In the meantime, here’s the cover . . .Slayers Into the Firestorm

Slayers 3 heading to proofreaders today

Slayers Playing with fire darkenedI apologize for being AWOL. When I got the copy edits for Slayers: Playing With Fire, I thought I would spend a few days going through them, send them to the proofreaders, and then happily announce the release date.

Then I opened the copy editor’s file.

She’d made–I’m not kidding– 1,735 comments on the manuscripts. That wasn’t the sentences she changed, that was just the comments she made about the manuscript. She changed, it seemed (I didn’t count) about every third sentence. And I’m not talking about adding commas, I’m talking about her switching sentences around and rewording things and pointing out that I had overused words. (Which I had. My characters love to do things for a moment. For a moment he considered her words. He stared at her for a moment. What can I say, they live each moment and I feel the need to tell the reader about each one.)


So that’s what I’ve been doing every moment for the last two weeks.

In other news, I’m  now two weeks behind in every other deadline I have.

Lessons learned from the Wright Brothers.

the wright brothers' planeI’m listening to the book The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I have to admit that I’ve developed an odd across-time crush on Wilbur. Okay, maybe crush isn’t the right word. I just want to hang out with him. He was not only brilliant, he had such impeccable character. And he was a good writer. It’s probably for the best that time travel isn’t possible. I would be some annoying fan girl trying to win his approval.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I’d never realized before how hard it was for Orville and Wilbur to invent the airplane. I won’t relate all of their trials, but one year at Kitty Hawk they were deluged by swarms of mosquitoes so thick they had to wrap up  in blankets in the sweltering heat. They alternated between sweating and being eaten alive for a couple of days.

See, if  it were up to me, dreams of the airplane would have died right there. I don’t do swarms of hungry mosquitoes.

In the first years after they’d invented the airplane, the government ignored their attempts to sell it and the press accused them of lying about it. They ran into wall after wall for a long time.

I don’t know why this surprises me. I guess I figured that for some people success is easy. But easy success seems more often to be the exception than the rule. For most of us, we’ve got to face the metaphorical mosquitoes.

The problem with being a clean writer

While writing How I Met Your Brother, I wrote a scene where the main character and her ex-best friend have a confrontation. In it, the ex-best friend is furious and she calls the main character a name. Due to her rage, it’s a bad name.

I wrote this post on facebook:

Moral dilemma. I’m writing an adult book instead of my usual YA–although I’m sure a lot of teen readers will read the book. I have one character angrily call someone a backstabbing whore. Is whore too strong of a word? I have so many mothers tell me that they hand my books to their twelve year old daughters without reading them first because they trust me. I’m honored, but at the same time, sometimes that sort of trust is hard to live up to. Bad characters say bad things. On the other hand, authors don’t have to put those words in their readers minds. I’m wondering if whore should be on that list. Thoughts?

I got a lot of comments ranging from, “I think it’s fine. Kids hear much worse at school.” to “You’re going to burn in someplace hot.”

Okay, I made up that last comment.  Here’s a real one: Why are you having a character call another character such names? I don’t know your work, but this is a major turnoff for me. Too vitriolic.

I understand  people who want clean books. I don’t swear myself, so really, I get it. I’m always telling would-be authors to avoid swearing if at all possible. Swearing limits your audience. Some people won’t read books with swearing, but no one has ever written me to say that my books could have used more cursing.

I guess I was just wondering if people considered the word ‘whore’ in the same category as swearing. Apparently many people do.

But this whole thing highlights one of the major difficulties for clean writers. Many people in the world don’t have our values. Villains especially don’t have our values. In some books, I write about characters who kill other people. I don’t condone that behavior. I’m not encouraging it. Just like I’m not encouraging anyone to call someone a backstabbing whore. If we wrote stories and pretended that everyone had our values, our stories would ring false. Plus they’d be very boring. Everyone would try to get along.

But then again, where does one draw the line of acceptability? As authors, we bend reality by the very nature of writing. We don’t write scenes where people go to the bathroom, pick their nose or flatulent. Those details aren’t needed and no one wants to read them. Do we need to put in swearing to be authentic?

Also, I can write about killing someone, and I haven’t really become a murderer. But if I swear in a book, I’ve really done it. Which is why I don’t swear in books. Well, that, and my children would never let me live it down. But is name calling the same? Where does one draw that line? Is skank acceptable but  whore isn’t? Why do we have stronger reactions to some words than we do to other words that mean the same thing?

At this point you may be wondering if I decided to use the word in question or not. So here’s the truth.

Today while writing, I realized the plot needed some changes, and I cut the scene.Yep. Turns out I didn’t need to open that can of worms on Facebook at all.

So, carry on internet folks, carry on. All is well.


Slayers three update

Eldest daughter got me this dragon for Christmas to use as writing inspiration. Perhaps that is why the dragon seems a lot nicer in Slayers: Playing With Fire. Isn’t this little beastie just sooo cute? Anyway, the novel is at the copy editors now. I’m hoping to have the book available as an ebook sometime in June.dragon

Bad souvenirs

I don’t know who came up with the tradition of buying souvenirs for family members. (Probably someone who didn’t get to go on a trip, and said, “I’ll forgive you for not taking me, but you’ll have to buy me a T-shirt and decorative mug.” Anyway, when I went on a Mediterranean cruise last month, I had five offspring to shop for. Five.

At first I thought, “No problem. I can shop. I’ve been doing it my whole life.” But it was harder than I thought, and that was because there were so very many bad souvenirs around. It was hard to find any good ones.

Case in point: Rome and Greece. What does the cradle of civilization have to offer? greek shopShops full of  little pale naked statues. Also scowling heads of long dead senators. I’m talking entire store walls. There must be a thriving industry somewhere of sweatshops turning out miniature armless statues and busts of angry men. I mean, I appreciate history as much as the next person–but whose decor matches with these? I’m thinking of all my friends’ houses, and nope, I can’t picture one of these fitting in anywhere.

If your taste runs to the racy, you can also find some interesting fresco reproductions involving acts that would get you arrested in real life.Stock up on those.

Also popular in Turkey and neighboring countries: evil eye jewelry.evil eye jewlery cropped It’s not just a fashion  statement, it’s multiple evil eyes, ready to ward off bad luck, or just, you know, creep you out.

For young history buffs, this looks like a great book . . .of course the content might be very different depending on what day they chose to depict. (Run, children, run!)pompeii book

Then we went to Venice, hands down one of the most beautiful cities in the world (even though I watched Casino Royale, that Bond movie where a building in Venice sinks into the water and I kept having panicky flashbacks of that scene.) Who wouldn’t love to receive one of these beauties? cat puppetWhat says: Wish you could be here better than a cat puppet dressed in Renaissance clothes? And I saw these in more than one store.

I consider myself an eccentric cat lady, and even I shook my head and said, “No. Just no.”

I was despairing of ever finding anything that was classy for my children, and then we went to the Vatican. Problem solved. Who doesn’t want Pope memorabilia?pope stuff

Or Pope dishes! pope dishes cropped(Really, I’m sure the Pope is a lovely man, but real people shouldn’t have their faces on plates–not Elvis or Scarlett O’hara or the Pope.)

This was perhaps my favorite, though. priest calendarA calendar of hot priests. I was so tempted to buy it. I bet Mr. October is divine.

(Why no, I’ve never worried about being struck down by lightning. Why do you ask?)


Last but not least, here is a souvenir that I actually did buy: a Pompeii t-shirt, because I’d run out of clothes and washing them on the cruise ship was way overpriced. pompeii shirtThis man may seem to be screaming in horror as he sees a Volcano destroy his city. I mean, that’s totally what I thought was happening in this picture.

But no, this is actually an image of a statue that they found in Pompeii, which means that this horrified screaming guy was actually just foreshadowing that the Pompeii-istas really should have paid attention to. And now it is my t-shirt. Ah, how I love travel.