Monday, December 11, 2017

Thank You

Well, what can I say? We've had a great year promoting books, signing books, talking with readers and writers about books and all that bookerly jazz. Yes, okay? Bookerly's a word. No, no. Don't look it up. Trust is a good thing.

Moving on.

This past weekend, fellow fantasy author Lela Robichaux and I had the privilege of being a part of the wonderful geekiness that is Shreve Con, a two-day event at our very own gorgeous Centenary College. We saw an alien dressed up as Santa Claus, Wolverine dressed up as Santa Claus and even jolly old Saint Nick himself, who was frequently mistaken for the Pope, bless his heart. Captain America strolled one aisle, while SuperGirl took another. Vendors displayed marvelous works of art from paintings to jewelry, custom fountain pens, comic books, novels and stuffed, hand-crocheted Pokemon. And that's only naming a few. To say we had a great time would be a tremendous understatement, most especially since there was actual swordplay happening at the end of our row. Knights, shields, swords, armor--yes, the real thing. So cool.

Huge thanks to all of you who came out to purchase signed copies of The Symbolon Series this year. I had a great time chatting, taking photos and listening to your favorite parts in the books. You guys are what keep my fingers going on the keyboard. #teamathen #teamnyle

Photo Cred: @beetlebomber52

Peace, Love and Junior Mints,


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Power to Make Change

So, I missed International Day of the Girl, a day that began about five years ago in which we address the needs and challenges women face in our society, empower women’s rights and encourage women to set and reach their goals. Really, we should be doing this every day—to all people, regardless of gender, but, of course having a day of awareness for any great cause is a good thing.

Above is a photo taken by my author friend, Mallory Gaile, of me signing books at the Lincoln Parish Central Library in Ruston, Louisiana. I began writing novels when I was fourteen and had the encouragement of not only my family and friends, but also my teachers. The public education I received, a blessing in this country, prepared me for my life as a professional.

Today, however, there are over 260 MILLION children who will not attend school.

Chilling, isn't it?

I read daily. I read to my son daily. Books are a natural part of our existence; we look to them for research, entertainment and, oftentimes, to simply unwind and escape to a world different from the one in which we live. But there are children who cannot read—children who grow up to be adults who cannot read. It’s not only unthinkable but unequivocally heartbreaking.

You may be thinking, “Honestly, Alyssia, I get all this, but what do you expect me to do about it?” Nothing, to be honest. What you choose to do in this life is exactly that: Your Choice. However, if you want to make difference, if there’s a little voice inside of you saying, “I want to do SOMEthing, someway, somehow to help further the education of someone who needs it,” start by donating books to local libraries and schools. Write a check or donate books to an after-school program who helps both children and adults learn to read or, better yet, ask how you go about volunteering for an hour or two. Every area has easily accessible information on organizations who strive to educate your community. Organizations who aren’t funded by the government and who rely solely on volunteers and the generosity of patrons willing to support their efforts.

So, yeah. This post started out about International Day of the Girl and, yes, let’s support and promote that mindset. With the onslaught of people—not just women, folks…people—who have come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, I feel we’re in a whole new moment in time to stand up and bring awareness to us all as the human race who inhabits this planet. But let’s push that even further by remembering how very blessed we are—how blessed YOU are, if you’re reading and comprehending this post; a teacher taught you how to do that!—and work to help others do the same.

I love you guys. To all of you who use your voice to call out those topics that make people squirm, I applaud and thank you. We’re living in an age in which speaking out is vital to make real change. Let’s work to make that happen.

Peace, Love and Junior Mints,


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Symbolon Series: Totally Awesome Playlist (Side A)

It's no secret one of the questions we get asked the most as writers is, "Where do you get your inspiration?" If you've been with me long enough, you know I'm a music girl, and music plays a BIG part in my writing process. Funnily enough, last week, I received two messages from readers, asking if I had playlists for The Symbolon Series. Yes, I do, and you can snag the details here: Playlists. You'll find a little bit of everything, some of which are repeats from book to book.

However, amongst the hundreds and hundreds of tracks, there are a few gems that are scene-specific, and if I had to make a mix-tape, a la Guardians of the Galaxy, with limited space, these are the ones that would make Side A:

1. Shake the Disease by Depeche Mode | This song is Nyle and, when I hear it, he's immediately who jumps to mind, front and center. One of my go-to methods for plotting is to lie down with my earbuds and allow my brain to formulate scenes. In one such instance, while I was still in the middle of writing book one, I had Shake the Disease on loop and saw Scylla leaving a room in a beautiful gown. She was running, breathless, looking over her shoulder every few seconds as if she was being followed. And there was Nyle in determined pursuit.  From his point of view, he never could catch up, almost like he was trapped in a dream. He'd see a glimpse of her dress as she rounded a corner, catch the flash of her eyes as she twisted her neck to look behind. I finally got to write this scene in The Second Curse (Book 2).

2. Bound to You by Christina Aguilera | This one is Athen and Scylla. In fact, it's so Athen and Scylla that the last time I watched Burlesque (Hubs and I love this movie, ok? Tell anyone, we'll deny it...), when the scene came up where Christina sings this song, not only did my eyes fill with tears, but suddenly I felt like I was reliving Athen's and Scylla's love story all over again.

3. Better Love by Hozier | A surprise, this song. Not that I don't like Hozier, but once upon a time, Take Me to Church was so overplayed, I almost fell out of love with the man. Not his fault, of course; he's a talented artist. But this song...THIS song. Better Love makes the list because I wrote the first small battle Athen and Scylla tackled all by themselves to it on loop, and, whenever I hear it, I still see Scylla in a formal gown and perfect hair playing warrior-princess like a pro. Readers, you'll see this scene in Book 3 (squee!).

4. Phoenix Rises by John Powell | Finally, an instrumental, right? You'd be surprised by how many different movie scores and classical music compilations I listen to while writing. This little diamond is from X-Men: The Last Stand, and it personifies the scene from The Other Half (Book 1) wherein the companions (Athen, Scylla, Ryder, Gen, Landar & Meav) are running from the frost giants. When the music climaxes at 2:27, that's Athen creating the pillar of fire at the mouth of the mountain pass, barring the frost giants from further advancement. I can see the awe on everyone's faces, the shock of witnessing such unparalleled power. At 3:33, he brings down the mountain, killing the giants, and finally falls to his knees, the magic having robbed his body of strength.

5. Run Boy Run by Woodkid | One of the last scenes in The Other Half (Book 1) is when the cast is running from a mob of insurgents (I just realized they seem to be running a lot. Hmm.), toward the wall that separates the frozen lands from Creden's celestial domain. Run Boy Run was on loop when I wrote that scene. It's the perfect combination of modern and orchestral.

6. Fortress Around Your Heart by Sting | I saved this one for last, because it's been with me the longest. Fortress is one of a handful of songs I wrote to at fourteen, when writing books was something I did for fun and only, like, two people knew about it (best friend, boyfriend). It makes the cut, because there's a fantasy-feel to this track that reminds me of riding horses through open fields with castles rising in the distance. When I need to be reminded why I write and, most specifically, why I continue to write stories with romantic elements, I can always count on this one to do the job.

Thanks for reading! If you've read the series and a song jumped to your mind during a specific scene or for a particular character, tell me about it! I'd love to add more songs to my playlists. Cheers!

Peace, Love and Junior Mints,


Monday, September 11, 2017

Teams, Hurricanes & Coffee Shops

Past couple of weeks have been a little crazy in our household. The weather's been gorgeous, sure, but the love bugs--oh my goodness, when did these things become a bona fide Old Testament plague? Back in high school, we had to practice with white flags during marching season (using show stuff any other time other than Friday nights and competition was a BIG no-no...), and the darn things would attach themselves to the fabric. By the time our band director finished lecture number fifty-two for that practice, each color guard chick would have a flag full of bugs gettin' it on. Glad somebody was during those days, but I digress...

Aside from serious bug infestation issues, I had a stomach bug. Apparently bugs are the theme of the month of September--who knew? Details are unnecessary; we've all had an intestinal virus, I'm sure. However, I did receive my first bound copy of Book #3 in the Symbolon Series, the name of which will be revealed in a near-future post (woo hoo!). So that, at least, was a big bonus.

Bugs...take that.

Visited a gorgeous coffee shop in Minden, Louisiana called The Broken Bean. Has that Rhino Coffee feel, but better. More...genuine, maybe? Point is I could live out my days in this place. Writing at one of the little round tables near a window, bottomless coffee...ahh. I have a feeling The Broken Bean will be added to my list of daydreaming go-to's.

But speaking of (and back to) books: now, I've known since the second novel there would be a "Team" thing I'd have to battle with for the duration of these novels. How? My editor told me so. And if you don't know what a "Team" is, as far as books go, I'm talking about two people wanting the same thing (or usually a person) and readers taking sides. Think Team Peeta or Team Gale in the Hunger Games or, I don't know, Team Rhett or Team Ashley in Gone with the Wind. That explained, my own little "Team" play-out has proved more than inspirational--it's been outright fun. So, please, readers...continue to message me with "Team Athen!" or "Team Nyle!" Who knows? Maybe we'll do a giveaway...

And, so, now there's hurricanes. Yikes. Lots of people have faced unspeakable devastation in the wake of these forces of nature. Texas, Louisiana, Florida,, they're talking about the Carolinas. You may be thinking to yourself, "What can I do? How can I help?" One of the easiest ways is to text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Likewise, you can text IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation to Hurricane Irma relief efforts. You can also call your local state representatives and senators, and ask whether they are rounding up donations to send to disaster relief locations. You'd be surprised how quickly unaffected states are working to help those in desperate need.

Love you guys. Have a great week!

Peace, Love and Junior Mints,


Monday, August 14, 2017

Life Update + What I'm Loving

Fall is almost here and I'm beside myself with anticipation for pumpkin spice everything. Yes, I'm that chick. Maroons, oranges and deep yellows give me the warm fuzzies. A nip in the air first thing in the morning--forgeeeet about it. There is a small level of reprieve, though: I don't do leggings with long shirts, scarves and leg warmers. And I don't carry a dog in my handbag. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.

All that nonsense said, I thought it might be fun to fill you guys in on what's floating my boat at the moment. Gosh, that phrase is overused. What's basting my chicken? Gross. Sugaring my coffee?'s what I'm loving:

1. Game of Thrones. Yes, I watch it. Stop rolling your eyes. No, I won't segue into a big explanation, other than I ship Jon + Dany (although I'd much rather watch a whole season on Rhaegar + Lyanna...) and, oh my gosh, Ramin Djawadi knows how to compose on an epic level. Seriously. We're not worthy of this man's talent.

2. Albanese Gummy Bears. Not a gummy person, y'all. Put a pile of wormy-worms next to a Snickers bar and I'm going for the chocolate, all right? But these things...yeesh. The perfect companion to writing that pain-in-the-butt chapter that just won't write itself.

3. Better Love by Hozier. Played during the end credits of Tarzan (the newer one with the Skarsgard guy who was, like, a vampire or something in one of those shows I didn't watch, but that everyone droned on and on about. Hey...kind of like I do with Game of Thrones...) Anyways. Can't get enough of this song. Never gets old. I put it on repeat in the mornings whilst driving.

4. Tumblr. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! I'm subscribed to every Tom Hiddleston page on the planet--seriously, ON THE PLANET--as well as Chris Evans, Amanda Seyfried and Game of Thrones everything. What? You're surprised? Love. It.

5. Word Connect. Free app that gives you a handful of letters and a certain amount of slots in which you're expected to make words. Sounds easy and it is, at first. But each level gets progressively harder (of course) and you're only allowed so many hints. Did I mention it's free?

Remember guys: (shameless plug-in time...) Geek'd Con Shreveport is THIS weekend, August 18-20, and I'm signing books with fellow fantasy author Lela Robichaux. Would LOVE to see you!

Peace, Love & Junior Mints,


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Losing a Life Friend

When I was a kid, Mom and Dad started me with the classics—the music they loved. Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, Gary Wright, Bread, The Moody Blues, Michael Jackson, Harry Chapin and the list goes on and on. Real vinyl records we played over and over, a fair few of which I knew all the words to. As I grew older, of course, I developed a love for artists not necessarily loved by my parents (some were, though; Mom is still a solid 3 Doors Down fan). In the eighties, it was Debbie Gibson and New Kids on the Block. I’ll never forget meeting Debbie backstage on her first tour. I had a perm, rose-framed glasses and tons of baby fat. Debbie had her signature black hat and a smile that could solve world hunger.

When the nineties rolled around, and high school with it, I got in to the grunge scene. Like most of my friends, baggy jeans and a loose flannel over a band t-shirt was my go-to. The Jim Morrison tee I bought from my favorite record store? Yeah. Probably wore that one at least once a week; twice, if I could get away with it. We spent free time in class talking about Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green Day, Portishead, Sneaker Pimps and some of the oldies but goodies: The Beatles and The Doors. In fact, a close friend of mine had a special place in his heart for Strawberry Fields Forever; it reminded him of his crush, the girl who’d smile at him in passing, but save her heart and attention for the jocks.

Her loss. He’s a successful writer now with a wife and a gaggle of gorgeous kids.

At the end of this era, in 1999, as boy-bands began to make a comeback and Britney Spears took over mainstream radio, I saw a video on MTV (back when they still had music videos—I know, right?) by a band I’d never heard. A lone piano led into a rap solo, which unfurled into a secondary voice, a tenor so chillingly smooth I remember leaning forward in my seat. The set looked like it had sprung from an online role-playing game. Gray, cracked ground gave way to distant mountains. Large gargoyle-like statues rose high into the air, and on the summit of one was the band. The lead singer, that hypnotizing tenor voice I kept hearing, was a slender boy with cropped, bleached-blond hair and a lip ring. Not what I would have imagined had I heard that voice on the radio, before seeing its owner on television.

That boy in 1999 was Chester Bennington, the song was In the End from the Hybrid Theory album, and the band is Linkin Park.

I won’t go into detail about all the ways their music impacted my life. It did, and that’s all that matters. Because from that moment on, I listened to everything by them I could get my hands on. I’ve written scenes to it, driven to it, showered to it, cleaned house to it, sat and leaned back my head and done nothing to it. They’re that kind of talent. Yes, when Chester took his life, I cried. I cried when Michael Jackson died, too. He was my childhood. He reminded me of good and bad times, and moving forward to new experiences. In a way, we grew up together, even though I had never once laid eyes on either of them, Michael or Chester, in person.

I chose to write this post, one, and perhaps a little selfishly, for myself and, secondly, for any of you who might’ve felt your heart clench at the news that Chester had taken his life. Because there are those out there who think it’s silly to mourn someone you’ve never met; someone you didn’t really know. But how can someone’s childhood be silly? It’s their childhood. Our life journeys are just that—ours. And if a part of that somehow gets chipped away…yeah, it hurts. While Chester took the lead vocals for Linkin Park, my husband and I met, fell in love, got married, lost a child, had another, and watched yet another graduate. We bought a house. I published multiple books. Gained and lost employment. I’ll never be able to watch Transformers without hearing their anthem, What I’ve Done, in my head. Or get through the lyrics of Crawling without remembering my best friend nearly took her life when that song was popular. Chester and Linkin Park were and are a part of my life’s journey.

And I feel quite blessed for that.

Rest in peace, sweet prince. Thank you for the time you gave us.

Peace, Love and Junior Mints,

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