For more about Allison and her books visit her website at For now, please relax and brace yourself for the occasionally coherent ramblings of Allison's mind.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michael: Thoughts On Sweden

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been to Sweden and I mean absolutely no offense to any Swedish readers out there. Since this is Allison’s blog, I’m guessing none of her three readers are Swedish, so I’m not too concerned.

Anyway, now that that’s public, I have to say, I have a very favorable opinion of the country. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but they’ve done an excellent job marketing themselves.  I’ve probably watched a good half dozen or so Swedish films, all good. The language is fantastic. It’s like a happy German. They have this awesome band called Blindside. (Not to be confused with the similarly named movie that I still haven’t seen but inevitably spurs the comment, “Ooooooo! I love that movie!” whenever I mention Blindside – the Swedish band.)

The weather seems like there’s a little room for improvement, but I refuse to blame them for that. Besides, we have our own climate issues so that’s not a deal-breaker for me.

Ok, so that was my general shout-out to Sweden. Keep up the good work.

**EDITOR'S NOTE: We're certain Michael meant no disrespect to the country of Germany either which is Allison and her husband's direct heritage and a wonderful language and nation as well. The Simons are also avid fans of the German Bundesliga, particularly center forward Thomas Mueller and striker Lukas Podolski.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cassie: I Don’t Like Snobby People

I’m sooo sick of snobby people. I don’t get how anyone can think they’re better than anyone else. And even if you do think that, why the heck would you point that out to everyone and make it public?

I was at the outlets the other day with Krista and we’re sitting there having an AMAZING latte from CafĂ© Emilie next to the Dockers store. Anyway, so we’re sitting there and this lady at the table behind us actually says to her friend, “Oh my God, that’s not even a real Coach bag.” Krista and I both turn around and stare at this crazy woman like she’s a talking aardvark or something but she doesn’t even notice us because she’s too busy studying some random girl’s non-Coach purse. Hey lady – guess what, there’s real crap going on in the world!! Pickup a newspaper! Oh wait, that might mess up your manicure.

Maybe I’m a snob for not liking snobby people, but I’m ok with that. And by the way, the girl with the non-Coach purse was wearing the CUTEST Sketchers I’ve ever seen. I bet she was infinitely more interesting than Queen Espresso behind me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jesse: Cats

I want them off my desk, out of my closet, and away from my beverages. I know you want to help out your mom, Kev, but seriously, get them away from my stuff.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Holly Sullivan: Hello, World!

Wow, thanks, Mr. Hanover. I guess that explains why Jesse hates you.  And I read your bio on the other page. I love the fact that you think your friends respect you. Heck, I love the fact that you think you have friends. But then again, since Jesse rarely mentions you, all I really know about you is what I’ve witnessed when you and your annoying wife butt into our lives.

Of course, I’m not thrilled with Jesse either. Come on, Jess, that’s really how you want to introduce yourself to the world? In typical Jesse fashion, you deflect every remotely intimate detail about yourself to a safer topic. You can be infuriating, you know that?

And Kevin…why are you stooping to his level!! Let him pout like he does so well! Seriously, guys, you’re worse than a bathroom full of reality show divas.

You’d never know they’re actually really good friends. Almost brothers, even though they’re pretty much polar opposites. If not for Kevin, Jesse would probably be a brilliant hermit, filling countless notebooks with incoherent ramblings in five-syllable words. If not for Jesse, Kevin would probably be that reality show diva after all. Their apartment never lacks for excitement, let me tell you.

Ok, and yes, as much as Jesse drives me crazy sometimes, I do love him. More than anyone really, except my daughter Julia, of course. For all his faults, he’s pretty amazing even if he’s right that I worry about him. But what are girlfriends for if not to worry and remind their men of their many endearing faults?

Great, now I’m out of space and I haven’t even told you anything about myself either. Thanks for the inspiration, Jess. I can almost feel you smirking as you read this. Alright, well, maybe I’ll say more in my next post.  Then again, since I got bumped twice in a row now, who knows when that will be!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sam Hanover: On Turn Signals

Not my turn, but some things need to be said when they need to be said. Can someone please explain to me what’s so incomprehensible about the concept of turn signals? You push the little lever down when you want to go left. You don’t push the lever down when you don’t want to go left. Why is this rocket science, people? And while you’re at it, get off your phone. Yes, we know you’re lost. You’ve been going 5mph for the last eight blocks. You’ve also abandoned every rule of driving that’s kept you alive since the day you got your permit. How about you pull over and THEN call your new friend Tony to find out which car’s in his driveway and the color of his shutters.

Thanks, you’re a champ.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kevin Moran: Jesse's A Dork, Ignore Him

Kevin, here. Holly was supposed to go next, but Allison gave me the floor since Jesse decided to publicly bust my butt. He’s such a dork. You have to take him with a grain of salt. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a freakin’ genius, but he’s like a walking After School Special. Seriously. If his life were a movie it would be an independent foreign film from Uzbekistan or something. One time I was giving him you-know-what for being an idiot, yet again, and he actually got me to use the phrase “melodramatic angst” in a conversation. Can you believe that? I don’t even think I know what that means and there I go spouting off his psych crap right back at him. He thought it was hilarious. Ok, maybe it was. Anyway, my point is, he’s actually a cool guy, he just freaks me out sometimes. He’s funny and charming on the outside, but his head is going to explode one of these days if he doesn’t just chill out and take life down a notch.

Oh, and don’t let him tell you I’m a player. I’m not. I love Katie. I’m just friendly. He’s only jealous cuz he’s a loser.

Ha! 202 words! Sucka! Ok, 206. Oops 208. Crap.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jesse Hanover: Hi

Ok, so Allison got this brilliant idea to do a series introducing some of her characters from her novels. Of course, Allison also thinks the idea of intermittent windshield wipers is brilliant, so whatever. Either way, she asked me to go first – which, ok  sure, does demonstrate a brief flash of brilliance, I’ll give her that. Personally, I think this is dumb, but then again, what isn’t?

So… hi. I’m Jesse. (your turn: Hi, Jesse!)

Thanks. We can hug if you want.

I’m an undergraduate psych student at Forked River State. Junior. Devastatingly handsome (yeah, kidding…or not…you tell me…*wink* - Has anyone seriously ever done an effective wink in an interaction? I can’t see that ever going over as planned.)

All winking speculation aside, my life basically sucks, but I get that everyone else’s pretty much does too. I’m trying to make the best of it, more or less, not that it’s going very well. In fact, it kind of keeps getting worse – and worse – but hey, I found out we had a hotdog bun toaster in our apartment the other day so there’s always that.  Oh yeah, and in between having my life ripped apart, I did watch those Lassie reruns with Holly and go to a lame party with my roommate Kevin. I wonder if Allison will let Kevin talk. Probably not. That would be a 3000-word post, minimum, and even she wouldn’t condone that kind of word-count. Sorry, that was low. She’ll get over it. She loves me.

Anyway, I guess I could say things are looking up. Yeah, ok, not really. But what else are you supposed to do with the crap life throws at you? You have to just deal with it and move on. I do worry sometimes that eventually I’ll reach a breaking point and everything will come crashing down. But for now, I’m kind of managing to stay afloat.

Kevin thinks I’m too smart for my own good. I suspect my girlfriend Holly is in that annoying camp too. And yeah, Professor Sanchez also, but it’s because they don’t really get me. I’m pretty sure at this point no one does and I’m ok with that believe it or not. The thing is, I’m not afraid to get into my head, and that scares people for some reason. I don’t know if they’re just afraid of themselves or what, but life is way too complicated to accept things at face value. The second you think you understand your world, it will screw you. And trust me, I know. Man do I know, but we’ll stop there. You didn’t log on for my stupid sob story anyway.

Ok! So now that we’re new best friends, commence with the inexplicable giggling, cookies, and Jane Austen book club!

Oops sorry, Holly’s rolling her eyes at me. She’s just jealous. She loves to giggle. And Jane Austen. Ok, now she’s about to stab me.

Jesse out before I lose an eyeball.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Good Villain

They kill, they cheat, they steal, right? They sit in their dilapidated apartment and tap their long, crusty fingernails together while gazing at the defaced pictures of the dashing hero and heroine on the wall. They have one thing on their mind and they will get it at all costs. They don’t need to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom. Forget about laundry. (They only wear that faded black hoodie anyway – unless they’re REALLY evil, then it’s business casual). They’re psychopaths. They are evil incarnate and evil as evil can be for the sake of being evil.

And man they’re boring.

Look, I know there’s always a place for a good rampaging psychopath, but it’s just not for me. Give me a villain who can smile sympathetically – and mean it – any day.

Most good stories need a bad guy, that’s a given. Our favorite good guys (and gals) wouldn’t have much to do without them. But many times the bad guy can, and should, be as interesting as the protagonist.

So what makes a bad guy good?

As always, I can only speak for myself and what motivates my imagination. As always, that’s human nature. Yes, that’s right, my bad guys come from the same place as my good guys. And guess what? Anyone who’s read one of my books knows that my good guys are far from perfect as well. In fact, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Confused yet?

Let’s say the goal of creating an interesting character is to create a three-dimensional likeness. Do you really know anyone who’s purely evil (or good for the matter)? Even more unlikely, do you know anyone who’s evil who thinks they’re evil? Most of the dark stuff I’ve encountered in life comes from complicated motivating factors, never the intent to be evil. A lot of evil isn’t even planned, but a result of unfortunate events, misplaced loyalty, deluded ambitions, and even good intentions with poor execution. Heck, why not good intentions with good execution that goes awry?

I believe there are places for the one-dimensional minor characters. Sometimes we need a stereotype with easy assumptions all wrapped up in a nice little one-line package. They perform their function and move on into one-dimensional sit-com world. But villains? No way, too important.

A good villain should not only give you a better story, he or she should also develop your hero.