About Ali

Personal posts about Ali Cross, including personal insights, stories, family, etc.

Silence: A Long Lost Commodity

| About Ali

I remember the days when I couldn’t get a friend on the phone, there was nothing on TV, and nothing … absolutely nothing … to do.

I didn’t have a computer, an iPod or Cable TV.

I had books, pen and paper, a field out back and an imagination.

I had silence. Lots and lots of silence.

Interesting things happened during the silence. I wrote poetry, trained my dog, trained my body, did a lot of thinking, read a lot of books. I went for rides with my mom, went on errands with her … there was nothing else to do, afterall.

While I wished I could reach a friend on the phone, or that there was something on TV, all that silent time helped make me who I am today.

Things are so different now. There isn’t any silent time, down time, boring time. Every moment there’s media streaming into our brains. Into my kids’ brains. They’re listening to music, watching videos, playing video games, texting. It’s all information all the time.

When life is like that, of course they don’t want to do other stuff. They don’t want to go for rides or run errands or read scriptures or practice the piano. There are so many better things to do! I worry that my boys won’t develop all the talents they could, that they’re missing out on experiencing what silence feels like–and how it can be a good thing.

This week we’re taking a family vacation–a tech-free vacay. I’m so looking forward to it! *I* need some silent time. Because even I have a hard time giving myself silence. I sleep to a noise machine, get ready to music, listen to audiobooks when I’m doing housework or driving, watch TV when I’m relaxing, listen to music when I work. Where’s the silence!!??

If all that’s in our heads is noise, when can we receive inspiration? Revelation? I’m looking to my little vacation to kickstart a new habit … the habit of silence. Silence is a commodity I am in sore need of acquiring, for myself and for my family.

Do you seek silenceĀ every day? How successful are you?

**Book Recommendation!**
If you loved the Desolation Trilogy, then check out Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series. I just finished reading it and it’s got a lot of the same themes as Desolation and a similar style. If you read it (before or now/later), let me know what you thought!

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Ali’s ‘Keepin’ It Real’ Monthly Update

| About Ali, blog

I don’t know if this is a “thing” or not, but I did an update in June and ya know, why not, right? Back in the day I had this Writer’s Dojo. Were any of you around for that? Anyway, I loved it because it kept me accountable. So I guess that’s why I like the idea of a “keepin’ it real”, and giving a true update on where I’m at. So there! Ha!

ALI_update

And … after all that, I don’t have much to report! The Land Magic revisions are coming along! They were slow at first, but this past week things finally picked up. I’m struggling with the voice in the first thirty pages–during all the set up. So I’m mulling over how to blend it better. Ahhh! I think the book is so great, but (shhh) only really after the “debate” section. I’m afraid agents (and kids!) won’t make it through the first thirty pages to get to the really great part! Grr. Wish me luck on that. I’m working on it.

I expect to get a lot of great writing done in July. I’ve got a retreat with a friend coming up next week and high hopes of finishing up with Land Magic before the month is over. Woot!

Charlie and Xander are gone to a week-long scout camp this next week, then later this month we’re going to Estes Park, Colorado for a family vacation. Yay! We weren’t expecting to get one in this year so we’re very pleased. We won’t have any money for paid tours or guided fishing or horseback riding or anything ~ it’ll be a very low-class trip sans technology and avec family. That’s perfect enough for me!

And … it’s my birthday in July! That’s always exciting. I like birthdays. šŸ™‚ And my family are always generous with their time and efforts to show me I’m loved.

What about you? What’s going on in your life?

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I’m a Dreamer

| About Ali, blog

My theme for the A-Z Challenge is "Self-Discovery"

For some reason, just sitting in front of this blank page, contemplating writing about me and my dreams has made me teary.

Then again, I’m sneezing too, so allergies, maybe?

Nah. I feel this way because dreams have been the whole reason for my happiness in life.

I dreamed life could be better. I dreamed I could be loved. I dreamed I could do something more than the work-a-day. I dreamed I could have children. I dreamed that I could have purpose–real purpose.

I dared to dream.

Despite the crap, the hurdles, the losses, the sorrows … more junk that I even want to contemplate … despite it all … I dreamed.

And because I dreamed, I am happy.

Are you a dreamer, too?

*This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. "D" is for Dreaming!*
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How Being Boy-Crazy Can Totally Screw with Your Head

| About Ali

My theme for the A-Z Challenge is "Self-Discovery"

SomeĀ of my earliest memories areĀ shame-filled. I can still taste the shame, feel it, as fresh and cutting as the day I first felt it.

I was totally boy-crazy.

And I don’t mean, “Oh my gawsh he’s SO CUTE!”.

It was more like, chase-chase-chase. “I’m going to DIE if you don’t love me.”

I knew the way I felt wasn’t right. I knew I was bugging (read: stalking) the boys, knew it wasn’t normal, wasn’t healthy. But I couldn’t stop myself. I needed something I thought only the boys could give me.

But even when I caught the boy, I didn’t feel any better.

Amazingly, I managed to get married to a really good man and it mysteriously/magically cured the crazy.

But I still regret the girl I once was. I’m not proud of her. One of the many reasons I changed my name!

Do you have any lingering shame in your past? You don’t have to tell me what it is, but I’m curious to know if I’m the only one with regrets that linger.

*This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. "B" is for Boys!*
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“Who Am I?” via the A-Z Challenge

| About Ali

Welcome to April, Letter A!

For a long time now I’ve been wanting to get back into the blogging world, but I’ll admit … I’m freakin’ busy! On top of that, I’ve lost my mojo. My “this is who I am” confidence.

I knew the A-Z Challenge was coming up and the lightbulb went *bing*! I shall try to re-figure myself out and how myself fits into this big, bad, bloggy world.

“A” is for ali!

Ali is the name I gave myself, not the one I was born with. When I went to university, I started going by Alexandra instead of my given name. When I performed opera I used the whole name and for a long time (all through university), I went by Alex. But a few friends called me Ali and it stuck.

SpellingĀ my name with a lower-case “a” isn’t a mistake. I love the look of it. It’s a little thing that makes me smile. Of all the things I’m trying to rediscover about myself, I’m very clear on my name and what it means to me: That I am who I make of myself. I am free to be the person I create–and that person is FREE. Free to love and be loved. Free to be happy.

What have you done for yourself that brings you happiness?

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And Two Become One!

| About Ali

There are a lot of “rules” to writing success. I’ve tried them all (with more or less zeal) and I haven’t yet found the Holy Grail. What I found was a lot of fruitless work that felt arbitrary and insincere.

Ali Ninja sm
ninja ali

Be Ali Cross who talks about writerly things and angsty things or whatever.

Alex 1 (3)
Pirate Alex

Be Alex Banks who talks about my boys and video games or whatever.

Can you tell I’m super excited about those things? Yeah. See, I AM Ali Cross and Alex Banks. I like talking about writerly things, angsty things, family things . . . but I’m not good at trying to be something that someone else says is how to be a good writer/blogger/online person. WHAT-EVER.

So I’m not going to pretend that I’m two different people anymore. I’m bringing everything here. Not interested in middle grade books? No problem–just pay attention to the Ali Cross books. Looking for a great book for your kid to read? Hey, you can get a copy of Jump Boys while you pick up Blood Crown for yourself ~ sci fi for days. Yeah!

Or maybe you’re a friend who could take or leave my books but like to hang out with me. And THAT is awesome. So welcome to my new online home and, hopefully, a new (well, not really, it’s more like the OLD) me ~ just 100% me, Ali/Alex all the time. I hope you’re okay with the change!

~ ali

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IndieLife ~ the value of friends

| About Ali

There isn’t actually an IndieLife meme anymore, but I wrote up this post thinking it was time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group via Alex J. Cavanaugh and then realized that I, uh, missed it. Oops! So I’m calling this an IndieLife post instead. šŸ™‚

Some people just know how to say, do or just be what another person needs. RaShelle Workman is like that for me. Every time I spend some time with her–every. time.–I come away inspired and grateful.

Last year, she helped me get my writing career back on track by talking me through my projects until I could see which ones should take priority. Because of her, I published Blood CrownThe Swift and Children of the Gods.

Things have been kind of rough around here lately. Some stuff is going on with my husband that has been the cause of a lot of worry (health worries), and I’ve been pretty disconnected from my writing. Then I had lunch with RaShelle last week. Among other things, we talked about a sale I have coming up this week that I did on RaShelle’s recommendation–but that isn’t what I came away feeling encouraged about.

I came home feeling motivated and clearer-sighted on all my writing/work-related concerns, even those that we didn’t talk about.

Some people just have that affect on you, ya know? I hope that you’ll find the friend who inspires your writing and encourages you to keep on the path toward your dreams. Those friends are rare and precious–and every single one of us deserves them.

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so good to be together again

| About Ali

I am, without a doubt, a lucky, lucky woman. I didn’t live a life that would have made me worthy of the happinesses I enjoy now, and yet, I’ve been blessed with them, anyway. One of the many tender mercies I’ve received.
David’s been away on business for the past week. It was a long trip! Friday to Friday and he had limited cell phone service–man, I missed him. It was cool and kind of fun to be alone with my boys, though. We talked about the kind of girls they like (girly-girls, it turns out–surprised me!) and what they think about divorce. 
When David and I got married I very seriously told him divorce would never be an option with me. My own parents divorced when I was four and that was not a good way to grow up. I know there are many good reasons for divorce, but barring any of those, I had no intention of tossing our marriage away at the first sign of trouble.
And then I had this conversation with Charlie and Xander. They told me that they had seen their dad and I deal with our struggles. They’d seen us angry, then swallowing down our anger so we could have thoughtful conversations. They’d seen our respect for one another. They’d learned how they could solve problems in their own lives, by watching us. 
I am so deeply grateful that I’ve been able to give my sons a childhood so different from my own. I hope I can continue to be the kind of example they desire to emulate. A worthwhile example. 
Xander, David, Charlie, me and Rocky
When David got home, I held him tighter. Kissed him more deeply. And thanked him for helping me create a family where our children feel safe and see, feel, and experience love every single day.
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the boys are home!

| About Ali

David and I have been “empty-nesters” for two weeks this summer and we are so lame . . . we missed our boys every night and couldn’t wait for them to come home! Wait. That’s not lame. That’s awesome.

I waited my whole life to have kids and these guys have not let me down.

That’s Charlie on the left and Xander on the right. This photo was taken by Adam Johnson (yes, Elana Johnson’s hubby!)
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awesome is my middle name

| About Ali

Today (cuz I wrote this on Sunday!) is my birthday. For the past eight-ish years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve celebrated my birthday with prizes or something special. This year, I’ve pretty much got nothin’. Blogging has become a challenge for me, to say the least! So, I apologize to my long-time followers for not doing anything like that this year. Hugs instead?

On Sundays I teach music to the primary aged children (18 months – 12 years). It’s the best job ever. When I first introduced myself to the kids, I did this whole “awesome” thing and I told them that awesome was my middle name.
Today the kids were not singing well. In fact, I could mostly only hear the leaders! We don’t normally sing Happy Birthday to the leaders (though I think we should!) so it surprised me when my friend Dawn said we needed to sing Happy Birthday … to ME. She told the kids that they needed to sing awesome for me because that was my favorite thing, and Asher, one of our little kids piped up, “Because awesome is her middle name!” Totally cracked me up.
And when they sang, so loud and enthusiastically, it almost, *almost*, made me cry. In that moment I felt awesome, surrounded by all these awesome kids and leaders, doing a thing I love, love, love to do.
Most awesome birthday moment, ever.
I’d love to hear about your sweet, happy moment ~ a cuddle with a grandbaby, singing with your teen in the car . . . Give me your smiles!
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