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3Q with Liz Michalski. And a PRIZE DRAWING. And an Off Ox.

This might well be an Off Ox. Lord knows It is big enough. Do Off Oxens read?

So in my blog entry over at The Lipstick Chronicles, I said I didn’t know someone from Adam’s Off Ox. Someone asked what an off ox was, and I said:

If you are plowing with TWO oxes (Oxen? Oxens?) you have a lead ox and an off ox. SO the LEAD ox is sort of the glamorous frontman of plowing. The OFF OX is like the drummer. He is harder to recognize, and probably doesn’t get as much play….

Which is actually not true. Turns out, he is the opposite of the NIGH ox. So. Whatever a nigh ox is, he isn’t that. Also, that may be wrong. Another source says he is the ox farthest from the road, which implies a sort of one directional endless plowing I can’t imagine, and another source says he is the CALMER ox.

There is a great deal of Off-Oxian theory crafting on the interwebs. Which just helps the expression, in my opinion, because to “not know him from Adam’s Off-Ox” means you wouldn’t recognize him at a party, and if you and I and everyone else is unsure of what an OFF OX is, then you certainly would not recognize an off ox should you run into one, say, near the buffet table. Even if you recognized him as an OX, you might think he is the nigh kind, or near the road, or excitable.

Oxe(s n ns) aside, here is something REALLY cool. Super old school Best Beloveds, those of you from the way back back, from those yellow days of wasp and daisy, might remember when my group blog was The GCC and one of our own had her house burn down. I donated a crit of a novel’s opening, and it was up for auction on Ebay—-Remember?

Well, this lovely charity minded fella with a write-minded wife bought her the crit. After I read them, she came through Atlanta on a trip, and she and I met up in a Starbucks and spent a couple of lovely hours chatting about the writing life and her book’s opening. It was plain from those twenty pages that she was very, very talented.

Her name is Liz Michalski, and that VERY book, Evenfall, pubbed officially on February first. HOW COOL IS THAT?

NYT bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe says, “A haunting, exquisitely written novel of steadfast love and enduring regret. Like the ghosts in the story, this novel will linger in your thoughts long after you finish it.”

Also, she has done the COOLEST most original book promo thing! If you email Liz picture of yourself with the book (or come to a signing—there is a schedule on her website— she’s giving away little mini bookmarks with codes on them. The codes let you access secret pages on her web site to find out more about the story behind Evenfall.

So I invited here to do a 3Q, and if you leave a comment, I will enter your name in a DRAWING to win a signed copy of EVENFALL. As always, there are actually 4 ways to win, and EACH REQUIRES A SEPARATE COMMENT, as here on FTK, we ROLL the heartless RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR to pick winners.

Way One: Leave a comment here. Easy peasy chicken squeezy.
Way Two: Post a link to this contest on your facebook page. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Three: TWEET a link to this contest. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Four: Post a link to this contest on your Blog. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here linking back saying you have done so.

I’ll leave this open until Wednesday at Midnight EST.

JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in New England influence your work?

LM: I grew up in the suburbs, and when I was in my mid-twenties I moved to a small horse farm in a very rural town in Connecticut. There was no post office, no grocery store, no trash pick up, and certainly very few stop lights. I lived next door to cows and heard (and saw) coyotes at night. It was an enormous change, but I truly loved it. When my husband and I decided to move back to civilization 10 years later, I was trying to store up and keep all the details I knew I’d miss, and most of them made their way into Evenfall. The book couldn’t have been set anywhere else.

JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood?

LM: Motherhood has made me a better writer, for sure. I don’t dilly-dally as much — if I am taking time away from my kids, it has to be for something worthwhile, and footling around while surfing videos on Youtube doesn’t count. (Unless they are videos from the BBC production of Shameless. Those videos are both cultural and educational and not at all a waste of time.) I think motherhood has also made me more appreciative of those little moments that rush by at the speed of light. I’m always trying to slow them down, and one way to do that is to capture them in writing.

Your shenanigans impugn the big dog's dignity!

I don’t think being a writer has made me a better mother, unfortunately. If I’ve been writing for a bit and lost in my own world, coming back to chaos and noise is tough, and I’m definitely more irritable. I try to remind myself that my time to parent is short and my time to write is long. I also tend to save my writing sessions for evenings when the kids are in bed or weekends when my husband is around.

JJ: Tell us about Nina, the dog, in your book. She’s such a big part of the story — did you base her on a dog of your own?

LM: I do have a dog, but he is nothing like sweet Nina. Harley is a whirling dervish of devilment and trouble, and I have no one to blame but me. When our last dog died, I convinced my husband — against his better judgment — that if my book sold we should buy a puppy to celebrate. We’d decided to get a rescue, and I found an ad on Petfinder that essentially read “This puppy is one big intelligent pain in the keister and needs someone who can handle him.” I immediately thought “Oooh, that’s my doggie.”

When we installed our electric fence, he got the concept immediately. During the training session he dutifully ignored the cats and dogs paraded outside of the boundary, but then my kids came home from school and wanted to play next door. He watched them walk away from him and then he trotted right up to the invisible fence line, stopped, turned and looked back at the trainer with a gaze of utter disdain, and flew through so fast the shock hardly touched him.

If Harley were in the book, he’d scare Neal so badly the first time he came to Evenfall that he’d leave and never come back. And Harley would definitely have no truck with ghosts. At least once a week I threaten to send him back to wherever he came from, but he always ignores me and refuses to leave, usually while dangling a stolen sock from his massive jaws.

72 comments to 3Q with Liz Michalski. And a PRIZE DRAWING. And an Off Ox.