Thursday, September 23, 2010

South Carolina Asked Me an Interesting Question!

I answered this on a seperate post, but for those who might miss the link, I thought I'd share! Here goes!

Hi Cathy Nelson from SOUTH CAROLINA!

What an interesting question. I've actually never had anyone ask me about censorship before, and I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my views on this touchy topic. First of all, I believe not all published work is suited to all readers. There, I said it - to me it's a simple fact. BUT, having said that, we wade into the murky waters of who decides for whom what is and is not appropriate.

So! I will now weigh in. Remember, this is just my take on the question as an author. (Yikes! I hope when I'm done people won't pelt my house with olives!)

I'll begin with little back-story. I may have mentioned earlier on my blog that ALL are welcome in my home, and those are not empty words. I have had teenagers (girls, mostly - although boys have landed here, too!) who have moved in when things have gotten rough, which has translated into hundreds of hours negotiating sticky areas between teens and adults. My conclusion? Let me just say that there is A LOT MORE GOING ON in the lives of young adults than many parents might care to acknowledge. Yes, there are some protected teens who have never heard a swear word, but they are, sadly, a small minority. Most teens I've encountered have matured beyond their years. (Another fact: I might not like the way they have walked away from their childhoods too soon, but choices are made apart from my pearls of wisdom. I work from what IS, not from what I wish could be). And having said all of that, it is my belief that banning books won't change behavior, not in the slightest.

I mean, isn't that the fear? That a child reading about a certain behavior will suddenly indulge in said behavior themselves? I have never personally witnessed anyone renounce their core beliefs because of some random author's take on life. Quite the contrary. I've found reading is the safest way to explore alternative world views. Personally, I welcome a chance to talk about 'banned' subjects, not to preach as much as to listen. To probe into the decisions of a fictional character and discuss fictional consequences enlightens everyone involved. How much safer is it to talk about imaginary pregnancy than to face the real thing?

Now comes a caveat: Parents know their kids, so I invariability bow to their choices and wisdom when it comes to their offspring. If they deem my books (which some have) as too graphic (for some readers they are) then by all means, censor my books from your family! It's not a problem with me - discretionary reading has my blessing. However, and this is where some people get stuck, the idea of honor goes both ways. Those same parents MUST honor the right of the many to read material they themselves may deem 'unsuitable.' I believe we must not allow individualistic sanctions to put the kibosh on a teacher's/classroom's/librarian's choice of material. For me, the few should not control the rest! We're all about freedom, right? (Man, I feel those olives coming my way...)

Last but not least - one thing life has taught me is that it is impossible to please everyone. Let's not try. To that end, I am a big believer in offering all sorts of books to all kinds of readers - no judgment! I respect their choices...problem solved! Respecting differing points of view is the key.

So! In my humble opinion, let the few choose NOT to read, allow the many to ENJOY, and let the conversations begin!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Want to Learn to Publish Your Own Book?

Hi All!

On September 23rd, my friend will be teaching a webinar about writing for children with the fabulous folks at Writer's Digest. Mary Kole (an agent with Andrea Brown Agency) is trying to get the word out about this webinar (people register, then call in and listen to her give a structured talk, followed by a time for Q&A) so that she will get good attendance for it and make this a worthwhile thing for WD. If it does well, they'll ask her to do it again, and she loves all teaching opportunities. Believe me, Mary is very, very good!

So - for any of you who would like to write, here's your chance to connect with one of the best! Posts/Tweets/blurbs about it now and around September 15th would probably work the best to generate the most interest for Mary (and serve as a reminder for you to tune in as well!)

Here's the link where you can learn more about the webinar. Use this link (or a tinyurl version, etc.) when you blog or Tweet, as it has Mary's referral code on it. Full disclosure: Mary won't get paid per click with this referral code or anything, so it's not like she's getting gravy by asking you to use it, it's just for tracking purposes on WD's end, to see whose publicity worked the best:

This is a rare opportunity, and I hope all of you who have wanted to break into the field take time to listen to Mary Kole. I know I will!

Alane Ferguson

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Vampire Diaries and More!

Hi Everyone!

Summer's been screaming by and I am, as usual, writing/writing/writing, but since a lot of people have asked me about my favorite books and television shows I thought I'd take just a minute and share! I'm currently working very hard on the next installment in the Forensic Mystery series (I'm having a blast!) entitled THE FORENSIC ACADEMY MURDERS, so I'm back to mining the 'gore' side of my brain. From ghosts to guts - what a transition!

Okay, so when I DO take a break, my first choice is to read, and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins. If you want some fantastic books to finish off your summer, try those. Her newest one, MOCKINGJAY, will be out next week, and I've already got it pre-ordered.

Also, I have to confess that I am literally counting down the days until THE VAMPIRE DIARIES comes back for Season 2. September 9th can't get here fast enough for me - I'm a total Damon fan and think he is sooooo amazing as a character! So if you haven't seen THE VAMPIRE DIARIES before, I recommend you pop a huge bowl of popcorn and download the episodes from Amazon. Or wait just a few more days for the release of Season 1 on DVD, which I have have also pre-ordered. (I already purchased the downloaded episodes, so you can see how OCD I am about TVD). I promise by the last episode you'll be screaming at your flat-screen, just as I and a big group of friends did during our 'Last Episode' party! I also love GLEE (I am a huge Gleek) and THIRTY ROCK as well as GHOST HUNTERS. My favorite move I've seen lately is THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES with Uma Thurman, which is an amazing film. Totally worth checking out! And my current favorite workout video is Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. (Although by the end of it I am calling her names!)

So - those are my favorite things to read/watch when I'm not lost in my Apple creating more trouble for Cameryn Mahoney! I'd love to hear some of your favorites, too. Hope your summer has been as wonderful as mine, and for those of you gearing up for school, have a fantastic start to your best year yet!

XO's from Colorado,

Alane Ferguson

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Friend's Story and My Reply

The following thoughts are really important to me, because they were written by my dear friend Carol Lynch Williams on her blog entitled Throwing Up Words. (She helps writers and those who want to write become better at their craft.) It concerns a topic I'm all too familiar with, and that is facing the pain of letting go of someone you love. I found her insights so compelling that I wanted you to not only see into Carol's heart, but into mine as well. (I've included my reply to her.)

The takeaway is the flip side of the inevitable goodbye, which is holding on and loving our family and our friends hard. So run through the rain, laugh and cry and have fun every day. And above all, remember how very special each and every one of you are!

XO's from Colorado,

Alane Ferguson

From Carol Lynch Williams:

Two funerals to attend this week. Two. The thought of two families suffering actually makes my brain unable to process. I’ve been forgetting things, crying when I least expect it, I’ve had panic attacks, and the sick headache I get when I feel too much stress.

I actually have so much to say, but the thing is, I can’t think of the right way to get the words out. Why? Maybe, maybe, some emotion is private.
Could this is true in writing, too?
I’m not absolutely certain here–but maybe some grief is too sacred or raw or hard to put on the page. So today’s post may be completely off, because this past week has been hard and I may not be seeing things clearly.

A million years ago, when I was writing KELLY AND ME, my first novel, I couldn’t figure out how to end the book. Then I remembered a story from a few years before (this is a flashback within a flashback. Don’t do this in your fiction.). A girl a few years older than I am had lost her 7-year-old son. At the breakfast table. An aneurism. No one saw it coming. He was just there and then gone. (I hate it. I hate it. All these years later I feel sorrow for that young mother.)

Isn’t this like death? We mostly don’t see it coming. Even when we know someone we love is going to die–because of illness–we are still struck with the loss. In a movie I can’t remember the name of, when a mother loses her adult daughter to cancer–and when the daughter’s spirit finally leaves her body, the mother says something like, “I thought it would better, easier, when she was gone. But it isn’t.”

Grief changes us.
I am not the same today as I was Tuesday morning.

So that means that grief changes our readers, too. When we write grief, we want to connect to our reader. Most everyone has felt sorrow. They may not have known someone who has died, but they have lost things that are important to them–a father or mother through divorce, peace, their place in school, who they thought they were, a bit of themselves because of abuse, their minds–the list goes on and on.

As hard as it is, we have to put grief on the page in a way that makes the emotion feel real. And this is difficult. In MY ANGELICA, when Sage writes a sad scene, she tells the reader of her deep, deep, deep, deep pain. Good writing isn’t telling. It’s sharing. It’s connecting. It’s knowing.

Rushing through an emotional scene–or through an emotion that a whole book centers around–can cheapen what you are writing. The truth is, when we grieve, we’re showing what our loved one meant to us. You’ve read the novel where someone dies and the main character doesn’t miss that person for every word of the book. In fact, they’re moved on rather early. I think one of reasons THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE works is that Jandy Nelson really explores grief. And her characters explore grief. And the reader does, too, with Lennon.

When I was young, my oldest cousin was having an affair with a married man. The man’s wife found my cousin and shot her twice in the chest, killing her in a bar. At the funeral Aunt Carol couldn’t stop crying. It was awful. It was horrible. Aunt Carol screamed and wailed. I stood back in the hot sun, weeping for my aunt. At her sorrow. Someone ran forward, grabbed Aunt Carol and hollered (in her own grief), “Carol, Carol, you’ve got to stop crying.”
“I can’t,” my aunt said. “I can’t.”

And she couldn’t.

Maybe this is the wrong thing to write about all the way around. But I want to remember these two people. And I want you to know something of how I felt to know them. And that the Williams girls are no longer who they were with these losses.

To John I want say, “You made me laugh. And I am sorry that it was so very hard at the end.”

And to Brandon I want to say, “You let people know they mattered. What is better than that?”

To their families I want to say, “I am so sorry. My words cannot even begin to touch the sorrow I know you must be experiencing.”

Because this is real. Sorrow is real. Grief is real. Our readers go through crap and back. And life goes on even when we think it should slow down and just let us take a breath.

From Alane Ferguson:

My newest book, DRAGONFLY EYES, follows the life of a girl named Savannah Anderson who dies unexpectedly, and who, as an earthbound spirit, looks back at the life she lived, wondering what could have been if her time hadn’t been tragically cut short. My forensic mystery series deals with my character Cameryn Mahoney, who dreams of becoming a forensic pathologist in order to give voice to the dead. Death is a theme I circle over and over again because I’ve lived it through the murder of my best friend, Savannah Anderson (I’m using her name in DE as a tribute). She was killed in 1979, and I can honestly say it is from that point that I divide my life: before, and after. Savannah was murdered by a serial killer, and I have never been the same. So to Carol and every other person who wrote such touching posts on this blog, i thank you for putting into words the reason why I write what I write.
The truth is, none of us gets out of here alive.
And while letting go is beyond painful, there is a flip side to the horror, and that is this: We must embrace the life we’ve been given every second of every day, and remind those we love that they made us who we are. Carol, knowing you has changed my life for the better. And because of YOU I am more whole. Your tender heart showed me how to love. (And right now – feel it – I am hugging you fiercely from across the miles!)
I believe grief reminds us to hold on to each other. In THE LOVELY BONES, when Susie’s spirit meets other victims of her killer, she says, “Our heartache poured into one another like water from cup to cup. Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain.”
So we share our sorrow with each other, and then we go on to live and love and never forget
To Carol I want to say, “Those two boys knew you. And that made a difference.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crazy/Wonderful Family Surprise!

Hi all!

Sorry I didn't manage to get my ghost pic up yet - that has to be done from my husband's office computer and the gang (all nine) came down for a surprise confab! We're currently heading off to our pool (Gambel Oaks Community pool built for our little subdivision - it's a lot of fun) so as we splash in the Colorado sun picture my ghost orb floating your way on Monday. Now it's back to baking/cooking/splashing for me and the tribe! (We have w-a-a-a-a-a-y too much fun!) :) Come and join us anytime!


Alane Ferguson

P.S. My sons-in-law are threatening to throw me in the deep end and dunk me. Boys are always BOYS no matter how old they are!

P.P.S. Maybe I'll hide out here instead!

P.P.S. Don't you think girls are easier? My daughters have never thrown me into the pool. We just sit, crossed-legged on any available bed and gab about everything under the sun. SO much better than getting endless noogies or getting squirted by a hose when my back is turned! BOYS BOYS BOYS! (They are pretty funny, though. It's just been an adjustment because I had four sisters and no brothers.) Okay, here I go. Wish me luck!

P.P.P.S. I'm bringing extra towels, just in case.

P.P.P.P.S. Now I'm stalling...

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Back AGAIN!

I just returned from a wonderful but exhausting trip to Utah where I taught a fantastic group of writers how to make their manuscripts market ready. (Those writers rocked it!) Thank you for all your kind comments that arrived while I was on the road - it's so much fun to hear your thoughts about Cameryn and Justin and what should happen to them now that Cameryn's ready to start a new chapter in her life. The next book (spoiler alert) will have Cammie begin her first year in Durango's Ft. Lewis College, so watch out for romantic complications. I'm madly writing my paranormal mystery Dragonfly Eyes and then will switch back to the forensic series, so I'll be stuck behind my desk for a long, long time. That's okay - I love what I do!

My next post, if I can get it to work, will reveal my first official ghost photo I have ever snapped. I spoke in Charleston, South Carolina and at night I went on a cemetery tour to one of the oldest and most haunted graveyards in our country. I got a lot of orbs (I know, I know, most of them are dust) but one of them had a BABY'S face smack in the middle! When I called Bull Dog tours (they are the ones who took me through the cemetery, and I highly recommend them!) the guide explained the grave was that of a mother, father and child who died when their carriage flipped into a river and they tragically drowned. So keep an eye out - I'll try to post it this week.

My new resolution is to keep up with my blog much better that I have been and to let you know what's happening in chez Ferguson. Keep me posted on your lives as well, because I really adore hearing from you all!

XO's forever,

Alane Ferguson

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Article About Me!

I've been traveling so much I've almost forgotten what home feels like - and I'm off one more time until fall!

Once again, thanks to all who have written to me concerning the two new books in the forensic series - kiss kiss kiss to you all! The following is an article detailing a class I'm going to teach. Enjoy!

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Alane Ferguson
As part of our continuing series of 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference ( faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams.
Advanced novel faculty Alane Ferguson was born in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1957. Her mother is children’s author Gloria Skurzynski. Ferguson is the author of many novels and mysteries, including the Edgar Award-winning Show Me The Evidence. Rumor has it that there will be two more books in Alane’s forensic series staring Cameryn Mahoney!
Carol Lynch Williams: Why did you decide to become a writer?
Alane Ferguson: I became a writer because my mother, who is a successful author, showed me that it was possible to actually live out your dreams. (While working in your pajamas with a baby on your lap, no less!) From the time I was twelve I watched the process up close, and I think those observations gave me the key to what makes a writer successful: hard, hard, HARD work and the ability and humility to revise. My personal journey as an author began a bit strangely because I never thought about becoming a writer until I put pencil (literally, it was a yellow notepad) to paper to create a story for my daughter Kristin when she was less than enthusiastic about the arrival of a second child. My mother caught wind of the story and convinced me to send it in to New York for a possible book sale (after a revision, of course). So with great trepidation I popped my story in the mail. Believe it or not, the first place I sent it, bought it, and I’ve been writing ever since!
CLW: Please introduce yourself—but do it as the opening of one of your mystery novels.
AF: Alane Ferguson looked nothing like her sister Joni, whose angularity exuded an almost bird-like quality while Alane seemed softer, rounded both inside and out, like river rocks smoothed by time. Looks, though, could be deceiving: it was Alane who possessed the flair for finding trouble….

CLW: What book has most influenced you?
AF: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the first time I realized the soul-churning power of the written word.
CLW: You’ve been faculty at this conference many times. Why do you keep coming back?
AF: I keep coming back to this conference because of the talent that attends—I’ve met the most amazing aspiring writers! It is a thrill to become a part of their accomplishments, even if it’s just the smallest link in the writing chain. I get great joy from watching them succeed, and succeed they do!
CLW: What will students learn in your class?
AF: My students will learn how to structure their thoughts, and by that I mean the nuts and bolts of framing their stories in a way that will make their writing ‘pop’ right off the page! It’s actually fun to see the light go on as a writer hones his or her skill. My job is to show authors how to construct their work so their words can flow organically. I call my class a ‘boot camp’ because writing is work, but it in the end they’ll have some nice, strong writing biceps to do the heavy lifting.-
CLW: What is it like to have a mom who is also published?
AF: Having a mom who is also published is cool because she understands both the frustrations and the delights of the writing process. Joyous at my triumphs, Gloria Skurzynski is my most unwavering champion, which can get a bit embarrassing when we’re in a group of other writers and editors. “You think J.K. Rowling can write?” says she, incredulous. “Why, you simply must get a copy of my daughter’s book if you want to see real craftsmanship.” Bear in mind my mother actually said this to an editor who had in fact worked on J.K. Rowling’s books. Hear the internal scream of MOTHER! (And, big surprise, that editor did not ask to see my work.) But seriously, you can’t put a price on that kind of support—she has been invaluable to me as a mentor. The best part is that my mother will not hesitate to tell me when I’ve missed the mark, which is, counter-intuitively, writing gold. I trust her input and adjust accordingly, and my reward has been 32 published books, halfway to my mother’s amazing total of 60!
CLW: What book do we have to look forward to?
AF: My next book is my most personal work of all, a paranormal mystery filled with love and loss and the question of life and its meaning. Dragonfly Eyes is the novel I’m most excited about completing, which should be very, very soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm Leaving Again!

To all my wonderful fans!

Guess what? It seems your emails have made a difference, because (even though it's not official) it looks as though there will be two more books in this forensic series! It's thanks to readers like you who have made this has happen, and I want to pause for a moment to say an official 'thank you.' Although I'm off (again) to Tampa, Florida, I want to stop and give you-all a virtual hug for keeping this series going. Every one of you is the BEST! Cameryn and Justin will LIVE on! Huzzah!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I LOVE your emails!

Hi Everyone!

I'm so deep into Dragonfly Eyes that when I finally came up for air I got a thrill to read so many emails about Cammie and Justin - this one was especially fun since Sarah asked if I know any 'Justins' in real life. The answer is, YES! My son Daniel is single and looking, so let me know you're a 'Cammie' somewhere in Colorado. (Or Florida, hint hint hint to Mandy!) My son will now officially kill me for posting that! Isn't blogging fun! :)

Seriously, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about Justin and Cameryn and Dr. Moore and all the characters in my forensic series. They feel real to me, too. And there may be more forensic novels thanks to fans like you and your kind comments on my work. I'll keep you posted on what happens next. And happy Valentine's Day to each and every one of you. Have oodles of chocolate, get lost in a great book, and above all remember how much each and every one of you are loved, especially by ME!

Hello Alane,

I saw your first book on reading list at my library and once I started reading I couldn't put them down until the last page of Dying Breath! I really enjoyed the series and hope that there will be more. Cameryn definitely has a way of getting herself into some crazy situations but they keep you enthralled until the end! I really love that forensic science is sprinkled right in with the romance and mystery! Oh and by the way, if you know any real life 'Justins' send them my way hahaha Just wanted to let you know that I loved the books, and thought I'd add one more fan mail to the pile:)

Your Reader,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

This Just Illustrates My Point!

I just illustrated my point on how ridiculous I am at this (Kacie isn't here today - darn it!). I thought I'd lost my original I Can't Believe How Long It's Been post, so after searching for over thirty minutes I just rewrote the whole thing. Now there are two. I think this proves I am absolutely pathetic. When Kacie gets here on Monday, she'll have to show me how to delete the post on my Mac. In the meantime, sorry to be so repetitive and redundant. Now you see just how electronically impaired I really am. Embarrassing!

I Can't Believe How Long It's Been!

First of all, it was a shock to my system to see how much time has gone by since I've written. You, though, have been leaving such wonderful comments on my blog that guess what??? I may be writing more about Cammie and Justin thanks to YOU! I've submitted two more proposals for the forensic series, so keep your fingers crossed and those good thought coming! Since I've last written I've traveled all over the country (so much fun!) and been on ever more ghost hunts (scary!. The best part is I've met lots and lots of future authors in high schools and middle schools everywhere. Really, the amount of talent I've seen is breathtaking. I've also been writing my newest book, Dragonfly Eyes, which has been an amazing experience. My life has just been CRAZY! So once I realized I couldn't get everything done (I received almost 2,000 emails during my last week-long trip) I decided to take control of the situation, which means I finally hired an assistant to help me get my schedule/life in order. Her name is Kacie Wheeler and she absolutely ROCKS! So, under her watchful eye, I should get a handle on everything and do much better in keeping up with my blog/emails/speaking schedule/writing. Kacie absolutely laughed at my archaic and chaotic method of keeping track of things - Post It notes that seemed to flutter on their own throughout my office and dates/thoughts scrawled on yellow tablets. She's begun the long, tedious conversion of my paper calendar over to the electronic calendar on my Mac. Wow - with Kacie's help, I finally think there is hope. I should be able to handle things now!

On another note, since it's been so long, let's catch up. In the very few moments of free time I've had I managed to see New Moon (LOVED it!) and Avatar (fantastic - my new favorite) as well as The Lovely Bones, which I felt kinda missed the mark. (Too many special effects, not enough character development.) For the holidays my son and sons'-in-law surprised me with new kitchen granite counter tops that they installed, which was a blast to watch! My boys are so good to me! That was an enormous project which got even bigger: DJ (my son-in-law who is an electrician) thought that as long as they were doing the counter-tops we should put in new lighting, which was an amazing amount of work for him. (The new lights look fantastic!) Then Matt, my other wonderful son-in-law, said as long as he and my son Dan and DJ were doing the new kitchen counter-top, sink and faucet, they should go ahead and tear out the bathroom and install a new faucet and sink and counter-top. Dan had to go back to school in Greeley while DJ had to return to Ft. Collins, which meant Matt got stuck chipping away at my bathroom. Poor guy! So we've had a rotating roster of my kids (and grand-kids) here and a bunch of huge projects going round the clock since Christmas. In the meantime, I've had to travel, and the day I got back from Florida my husband left for China. He got home Thursday and we realized we had been apart over three weeks! Crazy!

I hope this find every one of you happy, well, and ready to write your own stories. Since I'm knee-deep in Dragonfly Eyes I'd like to remind anyone with a paranormal story to please share it with me - it might make its way into my book! Thanks again for your patience and here's to all of our futures. I believe 2010 will be the best one yet!

XO's from Colorado!

I Can't Believe How long It's Been!

Wow - things have been going CRAZY over at my house, and I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote to any of you! First, the good news: it looks like there MAY be more books coming your way in this series! I have spoken with my agent and written two proposals, so cross your fingers and think good thoughts. Cammie and Justin might just be back! Second, I have been traveling pretty much everywhere throughout the country, attending more ghost hunts, taken care of my grand-babies, writing every day, and have pretty pushed myself near the breaking point busy-wise. So! Knowing that this insane schedule just won't do, I hired myself an assistant who has vowed to help me shatter this blockade of emails (2000 arrived in the last week while I was gone. She's instructed me to convert all my information onto my Mac (seems obvious, but I've been relying on post-its that I always lose) and generally get things on track. Her name is Kacie Wheeler and she is amazing. So you should be hearing much more from me in the future. I've vowed to get my life pulled together, and Kacie is just the person to help me dig through this mound of work. She will be my game-changer!

On a separate note, I ADORED New Moon and I went crazy for Avatar, so I did manage to squeeze in some fun things besides work. My new book Dragonfly Eyes is really coming along as well. Remember, please post any of your real life ghost stories so I can incorporate them into my book. And last but not least, thanks to all of your for your encouraging and kind comments. My editors have looked at what you've written, and it all counts. So THANK YOU!

XO's from Colorado!