Fan Friday! Ghostsitter by Shelly Brown

| About Reading

I’ve known Shelly Brown for several years now. I’ve never read her writing, but I know HER–a kinder, sweeter, more supportive person you’d be hard-pressed to find. And now … Her first novel has debuted! I just picked up my copy! If you or someone you know enjoy middle grade mystery and ghost stories (yeah!) then please check out Ghostsitter by the incomparable Shelly Brown!

Ghostsitter Shelly Brown Middle Grade Mystery

Tiffany Hart dreams of one thing, to be class president. But dreams turn to nightmares when she ends up almost dead in an abandoned slaughterhouse and develops the gift of ghost-seeing. Unfortunately she only knows one person who can help her shake her ghoulish problem, her neighbor and the weirdest boy at school, Justin Henderson. Justin has been seeing spirits since he was nine, a creepy claim that has earned him the privilege of eating lunch by himself for years.

Together they start to unravel a mystery with dead orphans, a white witch, and phantom spiders. To save their lives (and afterlives of innocent children) they must face a terrifying specter and a ghastly woman who isn’t afraid of hurting kids, dead or alive.

Add to Goodreads

Meet Shelly

Unlike Tiffany and Justin in this story, Shelly Brown hasn’t seen any ghosts. But she has seen lots of movies, traveled to different countries, read hundreds of books, acted in oodles of plays, and made thousands of friends.

She has worked as a comedian, a tour guide, and a shake-maker, but is currently a substitute teacher for some of the coolest kids ever. In her spare time she helps her husband, author Chad Morris, write awesome children’s books. Shelly also loves a little spooky in her life.

When she was twelve-years-old, she kept her Friday nights open to watch the newest X-Files episode. Every Friday. With the lights off to make it extra creepy. Now she’s married and has five kids and three chickens. And occasionally, she jumps out and scares them. Well, not the chickens.

Follow Shelly!
Amazon & Goodreads
Facebook & Twitter
Shelly’s website

What are you reading right now?

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How to Write Action Scenes

| About Writing

Hey Writer Friends! I want to tell you all about writing action scenes. Who’s with me??

One of my favorite, happy things, is giving presentations. I don’t know everything, but I love sharing what I do know. If it helps someone, that’s just HaPpY making for me. But I can’t get in front of every writer out there to teach my class, so … I thought I’d share my classes here. Good idea? Bad? Whatever, I’m doing it. Ha!

I’m starting out with POW: How to Write Action Scenes that Pack a Punch.

I love action. It started with martial arts–Bruce Lee and Cynthia Rock are my PEOPLE. But I love all action, from Rambo to Predator, Alien to Captain America. (Ooh, aren’t you so excited to see Dr. Strange?? I can’t wait!)

I love books with action, too. As with most things, though, there’s a right way and a wrong way to get it done. If you write books with martial arts, car chases, gun fights, whatever, you need to check out these lessons. I hope you’ll stick with me over the next few weeks as we go over the skillz and techniques that will make you a Black Belt in Writing Action!

The POW Action Scenes Formula

Learn how to write believable action by being grounded, realistic and imaginative.

Learn how to employ choreography and tempo to create action scenes with movement and pacing that makes sense and keeps your reader turning those pages.

Learn to use the language of your story world and strong, active verbs to create awesome literary action.

Next week: POW #1: Be Grounded


What Am I Doing Here, Anyway?

| About Ali

Lots of people don’t bother to blog anymore because it’s not as big a thing as it once was … and I totally get that. I don’t know why I blog. But I kind of like it. Except for when I don’t. Ha! Mostly I don’t like it when I don’t know what to say. Isn’t that pretty much true of life? We want to go to a party, but don’t go because we don’t think we can handle making small talk? Because we’re not interesting, not smart, not funny, not entertaining? THAT’S ME!!! Is that you, too?

But I still kinda want to blog. So what’s a girl to do?

I’ve spent all month thinking about it and I think I’ve figured things out. I’m just gonna write what I want to write! How’s that for a deal? I honestly don’t know what you want–and trying to figure it out, trying to be something that you might like … well, I just don’t think I can maintain that. And I’d probably get it wrong, anyway, because I’m not interesting, not smart, not funny and not particularly entertaining.

But I have things I want to talk about. Maybe they’ll just be for me, a record, a journal of sorts. But maybe you’ll like them, too. Maybe you’ll find them interesting or helpful. Maybe you’ll share your own experiences with me, and I’ll be benefited, too.

So that’s where I’m at, folks! Let’s be real, ‘k? I think I’d like that a whole lot.


Lullaby Ladybug’s Release Day!

| About Ali's Books, News

Thank you for the wonderful support of my new picture book, The Lullaby Ladybug!

Today’s it’s official release date! You can find it in paperback and eBook on Amazon.

When I wrote The Lullaby Ladybug, I knew I wanted to include a lullaby. I’d written the first verse:

Let the blanket of night wrap softly around you,
So cozy and warm with the love that surrounds you.
May your heart fill with dreams, that will gently remind you,
Of the joyful adventures that tomorrow will find you.

But I knew I wanted more. So I asked my sister, Heather Hamilton, to write more verses. Heather has always had a gift with words–especially poetry–and she did not disappoint.

Then I asked my dear friend and favorite person to sing duets with, Meg Job, to write a melody for my little song. I wanted a tune that sat in most people’s middle voice, so it would be easy to sing. A simple melody that would be easy to learn as well, but catchy enough that anyone could pick it up. Easy, easy, easy. That *sounds* easy, but it’s actually very hard to do.

Finally, I asked my niece, Melanie Fowler, to write an arrangement for the song, so it could be played on the piano. Melanie tidied up the melody and words a little and wrote a really pretty accompaniment. At some point I hope to get a recording of it because you really ought to hear it.

But for today … here’s a fun little glimpse into what you’ll be getting if you buy The Lullaby Ladybug and learn the lullaby to sing to your own little people. I hope you enjoy it! <3

If you purchased The Lullaby Ladybug during my presale, books are going out this week! <3


It’s Official: I’m Breaking Up with Social Media

| About Marketing

I love social media, I really do. It’s just … we’re not good for each other. I bend over backward, doing everything I can, and I get nothing. Oh, maybe SM throws me a bone now and then. Makes me feel like a goddess for a second … but then it’s right back to “Who are you again?”


It’s the same thing over and over again. I just can’t take it anymore! It’s time for me to do what makes ME happy. Time to put myself first.

That means, I’m not going to tweet unless, hey, I feel like tweeting. Right now I’m having fun hanging out with Facebook. We have a good time together. But I’m not going to go crazy. I’m done putting it all out on the line.

So long, Social Media. I’m sure we’ll see each other around.

And for those of you who are terrified of leaving Social Media behind, I understand. Everyone tells us we have to be involved with SM, that our careers will die without it. What they don’t tell us is that we might die with it. Our creativity, our love for the work, our sincerity and authenticity–all can suffer at the cruel and indifferent hands of Social Media.

I can’t offer you any guarantees that you won’t suffer loss of sales or lose some followers. But I can promise you’ll feel free to do what you like when you like, with whatever platform you like. And that will feel so good. Be yourself. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit … but only if you like it. Only if it feels right.

As for me, I’m giving it a try.

How about you? Are you chained to Social Media? Or are you enjoying the single life and “dating” platforms that attract you?

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You Do You, and I’ll Do Me

| About Ali

Family life can be hard. But it’s abundantly easier when I remember to just “do me.”

It was a lot of years of marriage before we were blessed with out sons. I promised myself I would never take them for granted, and if possible, I would always be there for them. I knew I wouldn’t be the perfect mother, but I was sure gonna try. Thing is, I didn’t count on them growing up to be their own people. People who would think differently than I do. Act differently. Manage themselves, organize their lives and make choices … the “wrong” way.

I want them to understand they’re doing it wrong! Why is that so bad?

Because Charlie is Charlie and Xander is Xander and neither one of them is named ali.

David and I have been married for almost twenty-five years. I can hardly believe it! I’m the child of divorced parents, so this feels like a huge victory. And really, these days any marriage that survives decades is a victory. I think there’s a few things that contribute to this success, and one of them is definitely to remember that David is himself, not me.

He won’t do things the way I would do them, or think the way I do, or even sometimes prioritize things the way I do. Believe me, I’ve tried to convince him of the error of his ways, but I’ve failed to get through to him. 😛 Really, he trained me to lay off and let him be himself.

But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I find myself in a constant cycle of frustration–with David and with my sons. It feels like “come on, come on;” like no one’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, or making the right decisions or thinking fast enough or cleaning well enough or READING MY MIND!! 

Because, silly ali, THEY ARE NOT YOU.

I’ve had a lot going on lately; lots of NovelNinjutsu work, lots of “house” work with the updates we’ve had done this summer, just … lots. And when I get caught up in my world, in my head, I start to project my worries and stresses onto my family. Which is just not cool. With David’s family reunion yesterday, which I organized, my dissatisfaction with just about everyone around me (because no one was doing what I wanted them to do, just the way I wanted them to do it) reached a critical breaking point.

And then I had a moment to breathe. A moment to recognize that I wasn’t happy and wasn’t letting the people around me be happy. A moment to remind myself that David has reached adulthood. He is a successful man. He is capable, reliable, and dedicated. Charlie and Xander are good guys. They’re capable of making it through teenagehood.

A moment to allow that I should let all of them do themselves–rock themselves–and I should do the same.

Because when I’m worrying about what everyone else is doing, I’m not doing my best ME. Even when I’m focusing on my own self, I have much I could improve on! I need every day of my life to practice being me.

Plus, when I micromanage other people, I rob them of the chance to be their best selves. And of course I want my husband to feel good about himself. And my sons to feel like I believe in them.

So I repeated the mantra “You do you and I’ll do me,” and it got me through. And helped my sons and husband have a much better time, too.

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Cover Reveal! The Lullaby Ladybug

| About Ali's Books, Appearances, News

The Lullaby Ladybug releases September 6th, 2016! I truly hope it finds a happy place in your heart and in the hearts of your children.

The Lullaby Ladybug

Abby couldn’t sleep. She hugged Teddy closer and squeezed her eyes tight, but she couldn’t squeeze the scared feeling away.

But when a tiny ladybug sings her a special lullaby, Abby learns the secret to peaceful slumber.

I have many people to thank!

Jenn Schwendiman created the sweet illustrations. Her images evoke a feeling of comfort and familiarity and the awesome thing is, JENN is those things. You meet her and you immediately like her and feel comfortable with her. I think every child will be able to see themselves in these images so their own imaginations can take flight. Find Jenn’s work on Facebook.

Heather Hamilton, my amazing sister and queen of verse, wrote the second to fourth verses in The Blanket of Night lullaby.

Meg Job, one of my most treasured friends and my favorite person to make music with, wrote the melody for the lullaby.

Melanie Fowler, my niece, arranged the music. Melanie is such a treasure in my life. I think there isn’t a single thing she can’t do!

And Mikey Brooks saved me from certain death at the hands of Createspace and Ingram Spark by coming to my rescue and fixing all my formatting troubles.

Every single one of these people came to my aid when I called them. They are amazing, generous, kind and the best of the best. I love them!

Order before September 6th, using the coupon code LULLABY, and you’ll not only save 30%, you’ll also receive a copy signed by both Alex (aka ali!) and Jenn.


OR get your copy before anyone else by visiting Jenn and I at Comic Con in Salt Lake City, September 1-3. Jenn and I will be there selling and signing!

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Read More, BE More

| About Marketing, News

Did you know that reading more, actually helps a person become more? That literacy is directly related to not just a person’s ability to get ahead in the world, but to the crime rate as well? Something I have always taken for granted–reading, access to books–is something so vital and so lacking in our society.

I didn’t really understand any of this until Future House Publishing invited me to participate in their #ReadMoreBeMore campaign with Access Books. Now, it’s a growing passion for me–since filming this video I’ve been doing research on how to get involved and have visited refugee children in my community to share my books and to read with them.

Please help promote children’s literacy, and the #ReadMoreBeMore campaign by liking and sharing this video everywhere and anywhere. And consider buying a book for a child in need!

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True Greatness is Found in the Small Things

| About Ali

I’m watching the Olympics, watching the incredible achievements of these amazing athletes and I know I’m witnessing greatness.

But look who’s in the stands–all those parents, living every moment with their children. See the Toyota commercial about the parents who drive their kids everywhere for their sports. They own a piece of the greatness.


I’m not ashamed to admit that I want to be great. Don’t you? But I’m no athlete. And while I dream that my books will achieve national, even international acclaim, I want to focus on the kind of person I am, not just the Big Achievements.

Like President Hunter said, it’s the little deeds; the remembered name, the hug for a friend, the kind word. I have some friends who have set the example for me, friends who are truly great and kind and generous. I want to be like them.

They might not stand on a podium with a gold medal around their necks for all the world to see, but they embody the essence of true greatness.

So I will serve and love and strive to be present with the people in my life and hope to be great.

How will you achieve greatness?

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Am I Still a Writer?

| About Ali, About Writing

These days, I’ve been wondering if I’m still a writer. I don’t write a ton. I don’t finish much. I’m even short on ideas. I don’t book dream. Just don’t … anything.

I wrote a book during the last year, so there’s that. But I don’t like it and while doing revisions gave up on it. I have another book in revisions–a book I once told the world I thought was the best book I’ve ever written–but now I can’t bear to look at or even think about.

I think I’m still a writer because I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I recall a time or two in the past when I went through a cycle like this. But it seems this pass is lasting a really long time.

It could be summertime. That amorphous time of year when children are out of school and my schedule is unpredictable and the heat inflames my symptoms and makes me less productive.

Or it could be because I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks.

Seriously. I’m wondering if this has a lot to do with it. It’s not that crazy a thought–as a writer it’s important to read a lot, but maybe I’m reading so much that my own creativity is being snuffed out by that of others. It’s a theory worth testing, don’t you think? Even the idea of not listening to a book kind of freaks me out. I think I’m addicted. But I miss writing–and I need to know.

Am I still a writer?