October 29, 2009

3Q with Hollis Gillespie (CONTEST!)

Ten Reasons I love Hollis Gillespie and think you should too:

1) She is a fantastic writer.

2) She can put her hair up in an effortless chignon.

3) She can successfully pronounce the word chignon.

4) Her house is orange. Even oranger than my car. EVen oranger than my pumpkin guest room. It is the orangiest!


5) She shops at thrift stores and comes out looking like FASHION. (I try. I really do. But when I do that vintage thing I come out looking like SCARECROW. Or possible HEAP OF CLOTH IN THE GARAGE.)

6) She is kind.

7) Her books make me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh – the out loud snorty kind.

8) She is more than funny. For example, a story she wrote about an intervention has stayed with me, years after I read it, years, because it STILL makes me see the world and all the lovely, broken people in it with a little more empathy, a little less judgment.

9) We were recently on a panel with a couple of other writers, including a Pulitzer winner. (Hank Klibanoff) After, the organizer thanked us all in a gracious group e-mail, and we all thanked her back and said how nice it was to see our old colleagues again and how lovely to meet the new people, oh thanks, oh lalala, oh we mustdothisagain, and then Hollis wrote back and said: “I'm going to put "Co-Pulitzer Prize Panel Person" on my business cards! Great to meet/see everybody. Joshilyn, I am plotting your overthrow. Hollis.” Hee!

10) She agreed to do a 3Q interview and offer a signed copy of her latest book, Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Efforts Toward Upward Mobilityas a prize.

How do you not love her? You cannot not. Unless you hate you some cussin'. *cough*

The contest rules are the same as usual. We steal them from Want Not, my bargain genius friend Mir’s shoptastic site. Basically, you leave a comment, and then the Radom Number Generator uses cruel math to break EVERYONE’S HEART save the heart of the single lucky winner. Doesn’t that sound fun! On the bright side, you could BE that one, and on the OTHER bright side, Hollis gives good interview, so that’s a win for all of us.

JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood? I mean this in a personal way -- for you. Does one feed the other, are they similar for you, does doing one make doing the other harder, do these things compete or come from the same place or? What?

HG: When I first started writing my humor column (for a very large alternative publication), I thought of myself as this hip, single-girl columnist who wrote these searingly acerbic accounts of my crazy life and that's what constituted my "appeal." So when I got knocked up the first thing I worried about (other than, you know, like, spawning) was that I'd turn into this boring, lactating Mom columnist no one would want to read. Today I laugh -- LAUGH -- at my non-Mom self! Ha. Ha. And ha. The complete opposite happened. So much so that I wonder why society promulgates this impression that having kids and settling down immediately puts you into the category of dream-sapped sellout.

First, becoming a mother instantly made me realize that if I didn't follow my dreams I'd be teaching my child that personal compromise is tolerable. I was a flight attendant at the time, as well as a freelance writer, and I was okay with this. I'd reached no real pinnacle in either profession. I would have been happy muddling along this way for, like, ever if not for motherhood. Then all of a sudden my girl came like a comet out of nowhere, which caused me to have a real come-to-Jesus regarding my true aspirations. In short, I had to admit I really had them, and unless I followed them I'd risk devolving into a bitter old waxball wallowing in a bog of broken dreams blaming everyone else. I just did not want to be that example to my daughter. Seriously, what is worse? A dream that never comes true or never admitting you dream at all?

So I made a promise -- not to myself, Lord God no. Because if it had been to myself I would have broken it immediately. I made the promise for my girl's sake that I would at least try to follow my true path. Seriously, that is all. But you would be surprised at how effective simply trying can be. Within months I had a gig on NPR's All Things Considered, which led to the book deal, which led to my appearance on The Tonight Show, which led to the film options, which led to the next two books, etc. Today there is a picture in my living room of me and Jay Leno. I'm holding my 3-year-old daughter and Leno is holding her best friend. It was taken on the set of The Tonight Show after our segment. I remember talking to Leno in the Green Room before we went on camera, and I made sure to thank him, because he very, very rarely ever had authors on his show. But he chose me and now I'd be able to leave my blue-collar job and be the mother my daughter deserved. I used those exact words. Ever since, it has not been a smooth road by any means -- the Hollywood writer's strike, the proliferation of new-media and subsequent redefining of literature in general, the odious re-conceptualizing of writer into "content provider" -- but even the rockiest of true paths is not nearly as rough as the smoothest of false ones.

JJ: A lot of writers read this blog----how did you ... a) Find an agent

HG: I did not have an agent for my first book. It sold without one. But let me tell you, I SHOULD have had an agent. Even if you land a publisher's attention without one, it's best to track down and agent to negotiate the contract before you sign it. Regarding my first book deal, I worked it as best I could given my resources at the time, but in the end there were a few gotchas that HarperCollins was able to slip into the contract that an agent would have spotted immediately and never allowed. Now, not only do I have an agent, but I am an expert at soliciting them. In fact, I teach a workshop called "Turn Your Idea into a Book Deal," and one of the best things I do is teach writers how to get an agent's attention, and I even give out all the agent-contact info they need.

JJ: ...b) sell that first book...

HG: A publisher contacted me after hearing one of my commentaries on NPR -- it was the one called "Changing Values," in which I recount my father's funeral and how my mother accused the mortician of stealing his designer shoes and replacing them with a non-designer brand -- and the publisher asked me if I perchance had a manuscript he could peruse. I immediately kicked myself in the butt for not having a "manuscript." Instead I told him, "I only have all these pages with words on them." He insisted I send them on.

It took me four months of ineffectual tinkering with these pages before I finally covered my eyes and simply pressed "send." The pages had no semblance of order, chronology or even plot development -- in fact, I'd named the file "Big-Ass File-o-Stuff" -- but I knew I'd never be done trying to play-dough it into something I thought was presentable. If I didn't just fire it off as-is I would never do it at all. So I pressed send. Within a day, I got an email requesting my presence on Madison Ave. in New York. So I flew my nonrev-airline-worker ass up there and they offered me a two-book deal. TWO BOOKS! I panicked. Then I got a load of my printed-out "manuscript," a copy of which sat before each executive at the meeting, and it was 750 pages long!

Here I'd been kicking myself in the butt for not having started my book, and I had two books already written. Ever since its been apparent to me that half the trick of selling your book is recognizing your own process. So many writers I've taught thought they hadn't even started their book when the book was already sitting there practically finished, they were just looking in the wrong place.

JJ:...c) come to realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career instead of a personal passion or a hobby.

HG: I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I wasn't a writer. I tried to do other things -- like real-estate investing, office receptionist, coat-check girl, coffeehouse barista -- but failed miserably. I was even an awful flight attendant, but thankfully flight attendants as a whole are wonderful people, and they knew I sucked at my job but they kept me around because I entertained them. Anyway, I remember a specific moment when I was 29 years old. My mother had died 6 months prior and I all-of-a-sudden realized I wasn't doing her any favors wallowing in loss like I was. At that point it occurred to me that I was happy. I had a good job with the airlines. I was young and healthy. Regarding the game of life, I'd pretty much touched base and was safe. I did not have to do another thing with my life and I'd still come out ahead.
It was at that exact moment that I decided happiness was not enough. I needed meaning as well. I went home and immediately started writing with the pursuit of publication for the first time in years. Soon after that I landed my newspaper column. It has been a frackin' broken roller coaster ever since -- up and down, then WAY up and WAY down and then back again -- but I'll never forget that exact moment when I made the choice. It was a conscious choice and the right one.

JJ: I know you have a blog called Inappropriate Conversation at www.atlantamagazine.com. Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?

HG: Atlanta magazine pays me to blog Inappropriate Conversation for them as an extension of the back-page column I write for them in every issue. I think I have the best writing gig in this city, because my editors trust me to write about any damn thing I want. Especially regarding the blog, because Rebecca Burns, the online editor, encourages me to use it in any way I want. So I have done some serious experimenting and research regarding everything from marketing to content regarding blogging, and here's what I learned; Blogging is now essential for writers. It makes for a perfect platform, you can instantly authenticate yourself by establishing a blog, it's a great means of presenting your work to agents (who receive most of their solicitations online and hate to click on attachments), and now you can bypass conventional publishing altogether and make a living blogging.

There are grass-roots blogs that have only been in existence since September that are already making $1000/day in affiliate advertising (www.peopleofwalmart.com). So, taking what I learned, just days ago I started a labor-of-love blog called Jet Hag, and it's had 30,000 hits its first week, and I haven't even implemented all the search-engine-optimization plugins yet -- and that was before a Huffington Post columnist gave it a shout out.

Seriously, for writers who want to harness the transformation of media and publishing, blogging is a necessity. Publishers now peruse the internet looking for blogs to turn into books. Blogs are now going from computer to book to film faster than any conventional process (Julie & Julia), and now blogging is considered the most viable news source.
That's why I added a workshop to my schedule called "Blogging Your Way Out of the Recession,” because blogging has become a basic necessity for writers. I have guest instructors provide the basic knowledge you need to get started and immediately direct traffic to your site and garner income right out of the chute.

Blogging has made publishing very diplomatic -- now, instead of you trying to get the attention of a publisher, you just get the attention of the public, and the publisher takes notice when the numbers get big enough. Seriously, why else would a blog called www.HotChickswithDouchebags.com become a bestselling book and then a popular TV series? And deservedly so. It's really funny.

Personally, blogging has focused my work ethic. When you have a blog, you have to update it at the minimum 2--3 times a week, and every day for the first 30 days if you just started one. It makes you write, regardless of what you think of the quality of product. And writing is like love, the more you do it the greater your capacity for it.

JJ: Thanks, Hollis, you brilliant, potty mouthed object. I am gunning for YOU.

Posted by joshilyn at October 29, 2009 5:37 PM

mememe for the contest! sounds great :D

Posted by: Jessie M at October 29, 2009 6:35 PM

Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!

Posted by: Stacey at October 29, 2009 6:59 PM

Wow, she sounds like a fun read and a fun person!

Posted by: Corrie at October 29, 2009 7:00 PM

I still want to know how to do the effortless chignon! More questions!

Posted by: Stacey at October 29, 2009 7:06 PM

Holy cow! I can't wait to read Hollis' books!! And blog. Loved this interview. THANKS!!!!!!

Posted by: Charmi at October 29, 2009 7:21 PM

I love her umbrella, her house (the bit I can see), and her interview! I'm sure I will love her book. Dang it, I hope I win.

Posted by: edj at October 29, 2009 7:31 PM

Sign me up, pretty please.

Posted by: cheryl at October 29, 2009 7:32 PM

I do not want to enter the contest, because I already have a signed copy of Trailer Trashed (squeeee!), but I just wanted to say I heart Hollis. Even if you've never heard of her (and really, TELL ME how that is possible), enter this contest. And then go buy her books. She's da bomb.

Posted by: Mir at October 29, 2009 7:36 PM

I love finding new authors to read!

Posted by: Pam at October 29, 2009 7:38 PM

I've seen you hanging around the Decatur Book Festival with Hollis-I just didn't realize it. It would be a hoot to have the god of random numbers roll mine. Many thanks for all your hard work Joshilyn in getting this together on a regular basis.

Posted by: Bridget at October 29, 2009 7:39 PM

Pretty Please! Shouldn't growing up in a trailer park count for something?

Posted by: Lori at October 29, 2009 7:40 PM

Wow, Hot Chicks With Douchebags is a blog i wish i had thought of first. I totally defo love this lady and i have read exactly nothing of her work beyond this interview. Yet!

Posted by: Rachel at October 29, 2009 7:50 PM

I need some funny in my life right now. Come on, random number gods...

Posted by: JenA at October 29, 2009 8:03 PM

Desperately in need of a new great read

Posted by: Shirley Westenskow at October 29, 2009 8:03 PM

This looks great!

Posted by: Jenn at October 29, 2009 8:09 PM

Here! Present! Accounted for!

Posted by: hollygee at October 29, 2009 8:16 PM

Yup, I'd like to read HG's book. Sounds like fun!

Posted by: Rita at October 29, 2009 8:46 PM

Now I like her so much I HAVE to read her books whether I win or not!

Posted by: Em at October 29, 2009 8:58 PM

Yes, please!

JetHags. Hee hee.

Posted by: Katie B at October 29, 2009 9:16 PM

I am trailer park trash, I am. May I please have a copy of Hollis's book? Thank you.

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at October 29, 2009 9:46 PM

I saw Hollis speak at the Decatur Book Festival and she was hilarious. I also love her column in Atlanta Magazine.

Posted by: Rebecca at October 29, 2009 10:08 PM

HEYYY pick me please. Thanks.

Posted by: Emily Clever at October 29, 2009 10:33 PM

Great interview! A wealth of information, beautiful philosophy, and links!

Going in the "to read" pile regardless of the contest outcome. But don't let that stop you from randomly rolling a 23. :-)

Posted by: Miche at October 29, 2009 11:02 PM

Big fans of both of you!

Posted by: Alison Law at October 29, 2009 11:46 PM

Definitely on my "to read " list now

Posted by: Cristin at October 30, 2009 12:52 AM

I lived in a double wide when I was little.

Posted by: emily jane at October 30, 2009 1:18 AM

I love me a book give-away! Especially when it's a GOOD book being given away. Sign me up for the contest.

Posted by: Tuli at October 30, 2009 7:31 AM

I love her photo! And I love that you keep turning me on to authors I may not have otherwise latched onto.

Posted by: Brigitte at October 30, 2009 7:36 AM

Hollis sounds great - sign me up!

Posted by: Becky at October 30, 2009 7:41 AM

Yay contests and giveaways! I've been going through a lot of your 3Q blog posts and getting those books when I'm in a reading dry spell. No disappointments yet. :o)

Posted by: Emily at October 30, 2009 7:42 AM

I want this book so bad that I'ma enter the contest FIRST and then go back and read the 3Qs. Because I read Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch a couple of years ago and nearly laughed myself into incontinence over it, and Trailer Trashed has been on my Amazon wishlist ever since! But I don't have it yet! Woe!

Posted by: Badger at October 30, 2009 8:03 AM

Ooooh, I hope I win! I NEED a good laugh!

Posted by: Jen at October 30, 2009 8:16 AM

Pick me! Pretty please!

Posted by: Andrea at October 30, 2009 8:35 AM

Pick me, please! I love her style!

Posted by: Chandler at October 30, 2009 8:41 AM

Hollis, you filthy goddess! I covet your new book. And you'll sign it for me when I come back to the ATL.

Posted by: Karen Abbott at October 30, 2009 8:50 AM

All the books you've recommended have been awesome and I'd like to win this one please!

Posted by: Anna Marie at October 30, 2009 9:06 AM

Contest! Me, enter me!

Posted by: Marla at October 30, 2009 9:15 AM

I would very much like to win a snort-out-loud book please. Thank you.

Posted by: JenniferG at October 30, 2009 9:35 AM

Ooooh, I really want this book!

Posted by: Lynnetta at October 30, 2009 9:47 AM

I love Hollis Gillespie and didn't know she had a new book coming out until I saw it here. I'd love to win the book. I'll still read it if I don't win it.

Posted by: GrandeMocha at October 30, 2009 9:48 AM

Can't wait to win!

Posted by: Janie at October 30, 2009 10:03 AM

You have such interesting friends. I can't wait to read this book.

Posted by: JB at October 30, 2009 10:22 AM

Ohmymymy, HOW have I not read her already??? PLEASE, random number generator, PICK ME!

Posted by: Aimee at October 30, 2009 10:36 AM

I so want to read that book!

Posted by: Jill W.! at October 30, 2009 10:42 AM

Once again, I shall plead with the cruel random number gods - pick me! I could use me a good laugh, here in my trailer...

Posted by: Julie G at October 30, 2009 10:46 AM

I have not stoppe laughing yet! Pick me, please!

Posted by: Kelly H at October 30, 2009 10:47 AM

I am mortified that I call myself an NPR listener and I've never heard of Hollis. I need to get onto my station to put her on. And by the way I'd love to win the book.

Posted by: jess h at October 30, 2009 11:10 AM

Pick me please!

Posted by: Cathy at October 30, 2009 11:27 AM

Oh, I love Hollis's books! And I haven't read her new one yet, so dear random number thingie, please pick me!

Posted by: RockyCat at October 30, 2009 11:39 AM

If I can't have the book, can I have a copy of her to keep in my friends closet? She sounds hysterical!

Posted by: Beth R at October 30, 2009 12:07 PM

I haven't heard of her before now, and now I HAVE to read her books!

Posted by: Darla at October 30, 2009 12:13 PM

Okay, I'm in! Her books sound like hysterical reads, just what I need right now. Thanks!

Posted by: Kim Williamson at October 30, 2009 12:54 PM

looking forward to reading this! would love a free copy

Posted by: laura f at October 30, 2009 12:56 PM

Pick me!

Posted by: Katie at October 30, 2009 1:04 PM

Very interesting interview. Can't wait to read the book.

Posted by: Chris at October 30, 2009 3:09 PM

You gotta be cool to have a trailer parked at your front gate. Please enter me.

Posted by: Lisa at October 30, 2009 4:23 PM

I LOVE this: "even the rockiest of true paths is not nearly as rough as the smoothest of false ones" - so TRUE! Please pick me. =)

Posted by: Gina at October 30, 2009 4:31 PM

Yay,for writers, their blogs and books. I really enjoyed this interview thank you Joshilyn for asking, and Hollis for answering.

Posted by: Karen at October 30, 2009 5:53 PM

I love how you s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d those 3 Qs! Good info and good reading.

Every book I have bought after not winning one of these 3Q contests has been great. I guess I could go ahead and buy this now, since the RNG hates me, but I will keep hoping I win.


Posted by: Jen at October 30, 2009 7:23 PM

ME please....

Posted by: Jean at October 30, 2009 10:50 PM

ME please....

Posted by: Jean at October 30, 2009 10:50 PM

I've been on a bit of a book hiatus lately (don't know why, but I just haven't wanted to read - gasp!). Trailer Trashed might just pull me out of it. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Posted by: Sandi at October 30, 2009 11:44 PM

A great interview, and I agree about motherhood opening so very many more doors.

Posted by: Margaret at October 31, 2009 1:26 AM

Okay, after reading her responses, how can you not want to read her books? She sounds hilarious!


Posted by: jess at October 31, 2009 2:02 AM

Excellent 3Q. Now PICK ME!

Posted by: Nikki at October 31, 2009 10:55 AM

Great info Hollis. Thanks for sharing your writing journey!

Posted by: Lisa Katzenberger at October 31, 2009 10:56 AM

Hollis' books are going on my Christmas list! (If I can waith that long to read 'em!)

Posted by: Kim at October 31, 2009 11:41 AM

Wow! Sounds like some of the people I knew when I lived in the South! What is it about that place?

Posted by: elizabeth at October 31, 2009 12:10 PM

I'd love to win a copy and am willing to gamble on the random generator gods picking my number.

Posted by: Lori L at October 31, 2009 12:40 PM

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Hollis! What a great interview and an awesome giveaway.

Posted by: Kim at October 31, 2009 1:25 PM

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Posted by: ivoryberne at October 31, 2009 2:01 PM

Ooooh, another writer I have not yet read... YAY! Since I'm not likely to be chosen, I'll have to buy the book anyway!

Posted by: Heather Cook at October 31, 2009 3:31 PM

This sounds delightful!

Posted by: Allison at October 31, 2009 4:57 PM

She sounds fabulous!

Posted by: Rikki at October 31, 2009 9:12 PM

I am hooked! Went to her blog at Atlanta Magazine, then got hooked into the Google book review...since they take out most of the pages when it is getting good, I will have to go get her book! :)

Posted by: Nicole in WI at October 31, 2009 9:38 PM

funny, I'll have to check out her books now. Thanks alot. ;)

Posted by: Michelle M. at November 1, 2009 8:55 AM

How have I missed Hollis? Sounds like she's writing about my life. Might be one for the old book club, most of us being indigenous southerners and all (the ones that aren't need some educatin').

Posted by: susanvl at November 1, 2009 4:00 PM

Awesome! Praying to the gods of mathematic randomness...

Posted by: Melissa Brown at November 1, 2009 5:10 PM

Hey, over here, pick me!

Posted by: Lori B. at November 1, 2009 11:18 PM

Thank you Joshilyn, for introducing me to yet another wonderful writer!

Posted by: Michelle at November 2, 2009 9:29 AM

as someone currently in the throws of "trying to do other things" its definitely heartening to have it confirmed again that it's all part of the fun fun process. Heh.

Thanks for the interview and the consistently snort-worthy blog.

Posted by: Suzanne Hodsden at November 2, 2009 9:42 AM

Love her...I think she wrote for the Knoxville alternative paper a million years ago? Would love to read the book, and am sending my smoke signals/energy/karma toward the randomizer.

Posted by: Beth at November 2, 2009 10:55 AM

I am having trouble keeping up with all the new books that you have shined your little light on but I think I'm going to restart with Miss Hollis' books. Just the interview alone has me keeping my teeth glued shut should my gum choose to fly out of my mouth on stick on the library computer monitor (again)!!!

Posted by: Linda J at November 2, 2009 11:17 AM

hey, i picked the powerball this week (but not the rest of the numbers....) so maybe my luck will pull thru and i'll win this!

Posted by: dramamama at November 2, 2009 11:19 AM

pick me...

Posted by: frank at November 2, 2009 8:52 PM

I love a good laugh. Can't wait to read it!

Posted by: Keene at November 2, 2009 11:15 PM

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of both of your book & am now thrilled to be hooked onto your blogs!

Posted by: Whitney at November 2, 2009 11:30 PM

Random Number Generator has always hated and mocked me - and yet I am helpless against its lure...
Oh please, please, Random Number Generator, pick me!

Posted by: Tina at November 3, 2009 4:48 AM

Pleeaaassseee hook me up for this awesome book. I need inspiration! I need laughter! I'm a southern girl stuck in New Hampshire and it's already snowed once!! HELP ME!

Fantastic interview!

Posted by: Mitze Bender at November 3, 2009 10:18 AM

Hollis sounds funny and fabulous! I can't wait to read her books. I just looked her up on my library website & they have two of her books "Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch" (2004) and "Confessions of a Recovering Slut" (2005) and there's a waiting list for both. I love those titles, BTW.

Thanks for introducing us to another fun author.

Posted by: wickedmess at November 3, 2009 10:51 AM

Oh! I NEED this book!

Posted by: stephanie at November 3, 2009 12:27 PM

Don't break my heart, WoW!

Posted by: ailo at November 3, 2009 2:07 PM

I would love this book! Can't wait to read it - maybe for Free??!!

Posted by: Pamela L at November 3, 2009 5:51 PM

I have read her stuff before and she is a crack up. She says things that I only wish I could say (and it not get back to my mother).

Posted by: Les at November 3, 2009 5:59 PM

Oh how I want this book.

Posted by: pam at November 4, 2009 1:09 PM