November 28, 2007

The Importance of Being Allison

So there is this writer named Allison Winn Scotch, She wrote this:


She also has the same first name and last initial of Scott’s sister, the one we STILL call Auntie Ass-ilon because that was how Sam said her name as a toddler, and it’s still funny to me. Yes. I do know I am 12.

Allison Winn Scotch is in the GCC with me, but we have never actually gone shoe shopping or curled each other’s hair or anything. Last month, I wanted to send an e-mail to Scott’s sister, and when I typed Allison into the address field, an address obligingly filled itself in, and I hit SEND. The address belonged, of course, to Allison the AUTHOR, not Allison the sister. SO basically I sent Allison Winn Scotch, whom I have never met, our Christmas WISH lists. I’m sure she is quite relieved to know which specific Barbie Fairy-topia and Pokemon loots to get my children, not to mention the things *I* asked for….I hope she gets me the rich people’s sheets with the super high thread count!

If that wasn’t humiliating enough, not two weeks later I sent her YET ANOTHER email meant for my SIL. This one was worse. This one read, in part:

“Here is a shameful true thing about your brother: I am getting ready for Christmas and I just found YOUR PRESENT FROM LAST YEAR in the decorations. Yeah. Scott NEVER MAILED THE PACKAGE!!! SO you get double Christmas this year. *sigh* I am very glad your present was not a puppy \…”

The fact that I found her DATED Christmas present a year later is SHAMEFULLY true. The whole e-mail is MOSTLY shamefully true. The false part may not be readily apparent to newcomers and I am SURE it was not apparent to the accidental Allison the author who got the email, but Oh Best Beloveds, oh my droogy regs, YOU SEE THE LIE, DO YOU NOT???

Do you believe for ONE second that THE SUPREME AND HONORABLE SCOTT accidentally packed Auntie Ass-ilon’s present into a box of ornaments?
Yeah, me neither.
And yet I blamed him, see, because Ass-ilon is HIS sister, and she has to forgive him. Also, Ass-ilon would KNOW it was actually someone less CONSCIETIOUS than Scott, some mercifully anonymous person whose name, perhaps, rhymes with Schmossilen who packed away her gift for an entire year and forgot she never went to UPS.

This would be no big shakes, except! I was supposed to mail ALLISON THE AUTHOR a signed copy of gods in Alabama for a charity auction. I signed it, and then the amiable and diligent Scott packaged it and addressed it and mailed it. But not a week before the alleged mailing, she got the email containing the SCURRILOUS SLANDERING LIE that would indicate that sometimes Scott does NOT mail things and they end up in weird places.

Pop quiz hot shot: Has the signed book arrived?

Um, no. Scott mailed it almost a week ago, and yet, the signed book has not arrived.

It should have been there Tuesday. Scott is POSITIVE he mailed it, and you know, if SCOTT says it was mailed, then nothing has EVER been mailed-er, and if *I* had been in charge of it, we would no doubt one day find the book under the ground beef in the back of the freezer, or perhaps abandoned beside the slinky display at the Dollar Tree Store. Which is why I was not in charge of it.

It seems The USPS is playing at silly rabbits with it, but….Lordy, I am sure she thinks that book will come sometime just after the demons strap on ice skates, because the guy who swears he mailed it is the guy I LIED about in an e-mail I accidentally sent to the person who is hoping for mail from him, and if you followed that incredibly long convoluted sentence, you win a tootsie pop. And I need to INHALE!

Perhaps Allison will forgive me if I tell you about THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.

Natalie Miller has a bright future ahead of her and is using her determination and smarts to get her—and the senator she works for—where they need to be, regardless of whom they step on along the way. Until, on the very same day, her doctor gives her the shocking news that she has breast cancer and her boyfriend dumps her.

She decides to take on her cancer the way she does everything—with steely determination. But as she becomes a slave to the whims of chemo, her body forces her to take a time out. She gets a dog, becomes addicted to The Price is Right and embarks on a mission: She is going to track down the Five Lost Loves of her Life and figure out what went wrong…

Cosmopolitan calls it, "too good to pass up. You'll laugh a lot (and cry just a little) as Natalie rebounds from the big C and reinvents her life."

I sent three questions to my sister in law, but I eventually managed to get them to Allison, too.

JJ: Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. You’re both ambitious and stubborn. How is she/he different from you?
AWS: It’s so funny, writing fiction, how people assume that because you wrote a character, that you somehow must BE a character. Certainly, I identify with Natalie, my headstrong protagonist, and her voice and personality came easily to me. Her competitive streak and desire to win definitely resonated with me as well, and yes, while I’ve never been sick enough to worry about my mortality, I’ve also been in situations in my life in which I’ve wondered how on earth I would piece things back together, much like we all have. But that said, that’s probably where our common ground ends. Natalie has a mother who isn’t terribly warm, and since The Department’s publication, I’ve always felt a wee bit sorry for my own mom because she is supportive and nurturing, and I’d never want anyone to assume that the character I created was based on my mother! Natalie also has a difficult time making the distinction between winning at all costs and winning for a purpose, and I’d like to think that I know the difference: I don’t delight in anyone else’s misfortune and believe that there’s room enough in the world for all of our success. This is something Natalie has to learn along the way. And she also discovers that the things that make life fruitful – friends, family, a confident sense of self – don’t automatically land in your lap, and that chasing down success rather than these aforementioned blessings won’t fulfill you. My life is rich in so many ways, and I’m lucky enough to appreciate the wonderful balance that I’ve achieved, whereas again, for Natalie, this is something she’s yet to learn.

JJ: I know you blog yourself over at Ask Allison. Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?

AWS: Well, I started Ask Allison about a year and a half ago, partially as a promotional tool for my upcoming book release but also partially because I wanted to counter the Miss Snarks of the world and offer some insight into our industry from a writer’s perspective and a kind one at that. Don’t get me wrong: Miss Snark provided invaluable information to so, so many readers and writers, but I’m not a huge fan of dismissing people or making them feel like idiots. We all started out as newbies at some point, and man, I’ve certainly asked my fair share of beginner questions, so my blog hopefully informs and educates without belittling anyone. These days, I’m not just answering questions, I’m chatting about anything and everything related to writing and my life in general. And you know, it both feeds me and takes energy away, if that makes sense. The truth is that I’m super-busy and some days, I just don’t feel like blogging. I mean, on my list of things to do, that just falls completely off the paper. But then I realize that people are reading and learning and engaging in a dialogue (including myself), and that’s why I do it…and that’s the part that fills me up.

JJ: Oh see, I never thought Miss Snark was negative. I loved how she kept the idea that if you WRITE WELL and NEVER SAY DIE you CAN find your agent, your editor, your readership. She was sharp, certainly, and blunt and honest, but under the wit, her messages were positive and encouraging. I adored that blog and even now I send people to read all the archives over before they start querying. I know what you mean though--- I lot of industry blogs depress me because they are SO bleak.
Tell us about how Natalie comes full-circle in the book and how it relates to your own life?
AWS: It’s funny: on the surface, The Department is a book about a young woman who gets cancer, but to me – and to many readers, so I’ve been told – it’s about much more than that – it’s about a young woman who is trying to figure out her life, what’s important, what’s not, what her purpose is, whom she loves…all of those big questions that so many of us wrestle with as we forge our way to adulthood. And certainly, as I was crafting Natalie’s story, a lot of my own experience rattled around in my mind. For example, Natalie decides, as part of her quest for self-awareness, to track down the five loves of her life and ask them what went wrong. And while, um yeah, I’ve never specifically tracked down my exes, I have thought long and hard about those relationships – sometimes I still do – and have tried to grow from those experiences and reflect on how they helped make me into who I am today. Additionally, Natalie unpeels her life, much like an onion, until she sheds all of the layers that protected her from who she really is and who she needs to become. And I think a lot of us can relate to that – I tried on several career hats until I found my groove as a writer – and I’d think, like Natalie in the book, that just because we make a wealth of mistakes, that this doesn’t mean that we can’t correct our course or be granted eventual happiness. That’s the beauty of life, and of, I hope, this book.


PS – JUST as I was posting this I got an e-mail from Allison….THE PACKAGE ARRIVED!!! SCOTT IS DA BOMB WITH A LARGE SIDE OF DIGGETTY!

Posted by joshilyn at November 28, 2007 8:49 PM

Now I can't stop visualizing if the present HAD been a puppy, yurk!

Posted by: Brigitte at November 29, 2007 5:21 AM

I will take an orange Tootsie Pop thank you very much.

As I was reading the LIE about Scott the first time, I was thinking, "How unlike him. That sounds like something Schmosselin might do."

Can I have a cherry one too?

Posted by: Roxanne at November 29, 2007 8:55 AM

Don't even get me started on the USPS. They are taking for-freaking-ever to deliver things these days.

Don't you hate it when those email mix ups occur. At least you didn't write anything really, really embarrassing!

Posted by: Madame Queen at November 29, 2007 10:24 AM

I spotted the lie before you admitted there WAS a lie...;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at November 29, 2007 11:15 AM

Oh my gosh! I stumbled across your blog today because I was trying to think of some good sign-offs for e-mailing my husband, whose e-mails to me usually consist of one sentence--no subject line, no salutation, no sign-off--he really gives me special consideration. My search led me to a post of yours from a couple of years ago. I loved the "you're pretty" sign-off. Well, I started reading your posts and I became very addicted. It took me a few minutes to realize that you're Joshilyn Jackson and then the hilarity started to make sense. I read and loved Gods in Alabama. I haven't read your latest but I will and I was happy to see that you have a new book coming out in the Spring. Keep posting. You were a bright spot in my day today.

Posted by: Catherine Averitt at November 29, 2007 4:59 PM

Oh my gosh you make me laugh out loud everytime I read any of your blog pieces! Thanks - I really need that at the end of a work day LOLOLOL

Posted by: Jill at December 6, 2007 6:37 PM