OKAY -- The GCC is still touring me, so I am GUEST BLOGGING in a lot of places!
MY BACKSTORY IS UP! If you've spent any time with my LINKS section, then you know MJ Rose's Buzz Balls and Hype as well as her other blog, BACKSTORY---it's one of my FAVORITE BLOGS. So many cool authors have come there and told the story of their books' origins -- so go read mine and then LOOK ABOUT because folks like ELLEN SUSSMAN and JANE GUILL have doen them too.
I am secretly very very tickled with this ridiculous (and SADLY TRUE!!!!) guest blog I wrote for E Lockhart's site (She wrote that YA book THE BOYFRIEND LIST that I SO wish I had read when I was 14...I gave it to to several young teen girls because I think its funny and chamring and also VERY smart.) My Gradeschool Impossible Crush Boyfriend List is posted there under her review of gods in Alabama.
AND---gah running out of time -- let me just tell you this: I have some BOOK RECS up at Allison Pace's blog.
A lot of the other GCC lovelies have posted the press release and amazon links and whatnot---this is a very cool, this GCC.
MEANWHILE. I am HOME for two WHOLE DAYS!! I have to go sniff Maisy's head some more and stand on my porch and dance antsily waiting for SAM'S BUS TO COME. I AM SO HAPPY TO BE HOME!
BUT... some linky love before I have it...The GCC is touring me this month!
New interview up at Karin Gillespie's blog ---SHE ASKS GOOD QUESTIONS.
Another interview, this one with known smarty-pants and poet Gayle Brandeis.
Lastly, a review (and the press release) by Megan Crane, who BOUGHT THE BOOK and who is SO pretty. Also she REALLY LIKED it, which makes her EVEN EVEN PRETIER. We heart Megan Crane.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled temper tantrum...
I AM MAD!
I am mad at the hotel that I stayed at in Memphis. I think it is a 12 story moneysucking BUTT.
I got back after the signing at about....8 and noticed there was NOTHING around the hotel but banky-looking offices. NO places to eat or get food. Just one LUNCH place that closed at 2. OOPS. So. I looked at the room service menu because I had been ON all day and I wanted to sit AWAY from people and have a glass of wine and some meat in peace. Just me and my beautiful friend the TV talking unhearable nonsense at me while I finished reading Kate Atkinson's ASTOUNDINGLY GREAT NEW BRILLIANT AMAZING PERFECT NOVEL (Case Histories) and wore pajamas and had bare feet and ate with my fingers and grunted like a savage.
The room service menu was limited and VERY expensive, like 30+ bucks per boring, regular entree. And I just can't DO THAT. I mean---I CANNOT pay five dollars for ICED TEA and then 25 for CLUB SANDWICH WITH ONION STRAWS or whatever. I mean, LORD. That would make my stomach hurt even if *I* was paying for it -- but I am not, which makes it WORSE. When I am getting reimbursed, or someone else is paying for dinner or whatnot, I am uncomfortable ordering something I KNOW I dern well would NOT be willing to pay for if it was MY dime. It feels like bad manners and what do we hate? BAD MANNERS.
So I went down to the restaurant in the hotel -- they had a lot of good sounding choices at slightly more reasonable prices. So I saw I could get a salmon thing with veggies and salad for like 19.95 which is PRICEY but LORD there was NO OTHER PLACE to get food. SO. I went and asked the guy if I could order a thing to GO, as take out. And he WOULD NOT LET ME.
Him: "No no sugar,--" (WHICH, UM...did you just call me SUGAR????) "we cannot give it to you to go because we can't have our guests CARRYING THEIR OWN FOOD UPSTAIRS like British Butlers, that would be SICK AND WRONG. BUT! I COULD send this meal up to you as room service."
Me: But I have opposable thumbs and am STANDING HERE already so can't you pretty please just let me take it upstairs since I am starving and room service takes forever and REALLY I DO NOT MIND, I LIKE British Butlers --- you can call me Smithers.
Him: NO. WE CANNOT ALLOW IT. GO TO YOUR ROOM.
So I ordered the salmon as "room service," and then dropped by the bar and paid TWELVE DOLLARS, no really, TWELVE DOLLARS for a glass of shiraz -- I FREAKED because I ordered a wine I often buy at the grocery store at home for 9 bucks, and I sipped it while she ran my card then I looked at the bill and CHOKED and had to bite my tongue to keep from shrieking, UM ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? like a a tight-wad harpy.
The meal comes---and the tab is FORTY BUCKS. TWICE what it cost in the place downstairs and I said WHATS UP WITH THIS?? DUDE, THIS IS WRONG and he was like oh no, on room service this SAME meal costs thirty bucks and change and then there is a 20% service charge and a clearing fee and then my tip is factored. I was SO MAD. OF COURSE the manager would not let me tote a styrophoam box upstairs---he could DOUBLE the bill by refusing. I was LIVID but what do you do??? It's not the room service deliverer's fault or the bartender's fault. No point in fussing at them. It's the HOTEL'S fault, and once I had eaten my solid gold diamond encrusted fish with ruby sauce, I lay in my bed waiting for Jack Nicholson to start breaking my door down with an ax (Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's JOHNNY!) because everyone knows THAT is what happens at evil hotels. At least the meal came with a roll. And um. Salad.
BUT! It was a BAD salad. A wedge of iceberg (bleh--the wonder bread of lettuces) sprinkled with that horrid cheese that smells like the back end of a monkey and some onion. The end. BOO.
See how it is? I told you before. I get so TIRED on the road there is only HATE AND LOVE. No mild feelings.
I spent all my hate on the hotel, so had only LOVE left for Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES ---- It's about this detective with about 5 cases going, and about halfway through the book, they start to connect in the most startling and lovely and horrifying ways. It's funny and visceral and brilliant.
PS TEMPER TANTRUM ASIDE, Compared to KIMBERLY, the hotel is made entirely of angel spittle and sugar.
There's this weird thing that happens when I do TV or radio....I go into this BLABBERY ZONE where I have a general idea of what the questions will be and the nervous dork I usually am checks out and is replaced by someone who does not say UM UM UM BECAUSE OF UM HEHE YEAH UM WHAT WAS THE QUESTION??? Someone who is able to make a bunch of confident blahblah noises. I HAVE NOW IDEA HOW THIS WORKS. I am just gateful that it does.
Last time I was on TV, in BIRMINGHAM, where my parents live, we did a LONG segment -- usually I am on for about three minutes. This was five or six. So I slip into my zone, confident blahblahblah, and as it goes on, she runs out of the USUAL questions. And so she starts asking some... UNUSUAL questions. But I was deep in the CONFIDENT BLAH BLAH zone so I just go with it, and then I go out and get into the car with the media rep who is squiring me about.
DIGRESSION: First of all, I love the whole CONCEPT of a media rep, which seems to be: a grounded sane human being with a car who totes authors about and keeps us from wandering into traffic and gets us to EVENTS on time. I want a MEDIA REP for my LIFE. Second of all, I WANT TO BE A MEDIA REP. Because I would get to meet all my favorite authors. Although I gather some authors can be a HANDFUL. HEHE.
Anyway. The media rep is telling me this really funny and involved story abotu her neighor and this cat and reincarnation and suddenly I put my hand on her arm and say WAIT! WAIT! DID I JUST SAY IN THERE THAT MY PARENST ARE.... SOUTHERN BAPTISTS??????
And she says, "yes, aren't they?"
And I say, "UMmmmmmmm." Because you kow what? They are NOT. And in ANY OTHER CITY it would not matter but this is my MOM AND DAD'S HOMETOWN where they go to a HUGE church that is NOT southern baptist, and I have just OUTED them on their local hometown station. And now for MONTHS they are going to have people walkign up to them after services and saying, "SO! WHEN DID YOU CONVERT?" and giving them all manner of merry hell.
What I learned: Pay attention to what the confident blahblah person is SAYING because the confident blahblah person will just say WHATEVER pops into the mouth. The confident blahblah person's job is AVOID DEAD AIR and MAKE SURE TO SAY THE IMPORTANT STUFF ABOUT THE BOOK. The confident blahblah person is apparently NOT IN CHARGE of being truthful or accurate or making sense beyond that narrow job description.
Favorite Media story:
At a radio station -- the Patti and Dollar Bill show (AND DIGRESSION: Patti and Bill were such RELAXING and relaxed people. Most of these media folks are. It's NOMAL to them to be in front of a camera or microphone so they are SO blase about it YAP YAP YAP and then the producer will say 'Ten secs" and They will YAP casually for 9 and then BOOM, they are on and perfect. It's neat to WATCH.) So anyway, chatting the producer and I made the exact same joke at the exact same time. Being SPEEDY I yelled JINX YOU OWE ME A COKE. He said VANILLA? and I said, CHERRY, UM DUH. That night at the signing he SHOWED UP and BROUGHT ME A CHERRY COKE. Which -- that was just---people constantly surprise me with their coolness.
I have had like 4 more signings and whatnot and not told you about them -- INCLUDING THE ONE AT ALABAMA BOOKSMITH which was just MONSTROUSLY FUN AND PERFECT. I showed up and there was a STACK of presales, presales to the SKY, and that was in great part because of YOU ALL! It was SUCH a neat thing. Jake, the owner, said he had NEVER had more presells fo a book except for Fannie Flagg. THANKS TO EVERYIONE WHO ORDERED THOSE SIGNED INSCRIBED COPIES FROM BOOKSMITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are on the way to you.
That's like my home base store in a lot of ways and a lot more happened but...I have to go leap on a plane.
It goes so fast. It is all going SO fast.
Another week of Travel Sans Mercy ahead of me...looking forward to it, even though last week escaped me and I barely got to blog a hundredth of the things that happened. I missed telling you about SO MUCH...New Orleans and Bay St Louise slipped past totally uncatalogued. I stink. But there is no way to keep up. THERE IS NOT. I will say one totally dumb and least important thing: In Bay St Louise (where I may have to go live) I ATE CRAB PUPPIES (!!!)
Well, I HAD to tell you about THAT, I mean, LORD. Doesn't that sound VILE? CRAB PUPPIES! Gives me the shudders. It's one of those words that makes you want to creep up on someone and say it really loud and fast in their ear and then watch them leap screaming right out of their pants. It sounds vaguely filthy and disgusting, like saying PONY HOLE, but turns out they are actually pretty good with tartar sauce.
WHAT I LEARNED LAST WEEK:
I like readings better than signings. At signings I always wonder why on earth folks would show up to have a brand new book they probably have not had a chance to read yet be signed by SOME GIRL. I always feel REALLY grateful and APOLOGETIC when they do show up, like "HI! YEAH! JUST ME HERE, AND I BET YOU WERE HOPING FOR A REAL WRITER. SORRY." At readings I feel like people GET something for showing up -- a half an hour of free entertainment, and sometimes COOKIES, and I AM LEARNING that (nerves aside) I give good public speaking!
Not only that...but I REALLY LIKE IT. I like standing hanging out with a group of fellow book junkies and talking about how gods in Alabama came to be, and there are some pretty funny and WILD stories that I don't think I can PUT IN WRITING *grin* but I TELL people at these things, and it is fun. There is no fourth wall, but that same sort of hive mind magic thing happens like it used to when I was acting, and I can SMELL if an audience is WITH me or not. Just finished doing a interview on a radio station -- REALLY NICE FOLKS (Patti and Dollar Bill on the Bull here in Birmingham) and THEY HAD MET FANNY FLAGG! *pant pant*
I am the most star struck ridiculous creature to ever pull in oxygen and send it back out as carbon dioxide, but I can't help it. Fanny Flagg! She's...well. She's a lady.
I am going to at SOME POINT get 8 hours of contiguous sleep, at which point I will blog something interesting. IT COULD HAPPEN.
WHO DO WE LIKE? Hint: NOT KIMBERLY....Not Kimberly is also known as BOOKS-A-MILLION.
WHY, you ask...
1) My editor JUST called this second, on the fly, to tell me gods is going to be 17 on their fiction best sellers list, which yay. SEVEN!TEEN! That just makes my heart go pitter and then PATPATPAT. If I had not felt a warm nethery stirring toward them already, that would do it. BUT as you may recall, I already was feeling the BAM love because...
2) NATIONALLY speaking (and by this I mean the businessy people with the jobs I do not understand and the fiction buyer and event planner etc etc) backed the book from the time it was a FETUS. They went up to NYC and met with my publicist to work out holding the launch party and also then later took me to eat FANTASMIC DUCK. So. We would have liked them for THAT even if they had not...
3) Birminghammily/locally speaking (and by this I mean the people who work at their flagship store in Brookwood) physically and actually launched the book at the faboo party with the kangaroo wine -- to this DAY the only event where I have actually remembered to BRING MY CAMERA. It was a GENTLE and FESTIVE introduction to the world of signings in that a) PEOPLE CAME (which we have learned now is NOT always the case!) and b) they just made me feel, you know, like The Princess. Like a princess with cake. And Kangaroo wine. You don't always GET to be the princess, even at your own book signings. BUT I GOT TO BE HER THERE. (Part of me can't help but SMUGLY SUSPECT that this is because they are SOUTHERN.)
I am having this WEIRD WARMTH for them, like, OBVIOUSLY I am GLAD for me that it is selling, of course, BIG gladness here, but...IN THIS BIZARRO CODEPENDENT AND PRBABLY MENTALY ILL WAY I am glad it is selling for THEM, too, because they've been ...personal with me. They've invested in this book from the get-go and it seems VERY fitting that this is the place where gods is starting to really take off. AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE??? BAM would never say "MAY I HELP YOU?? May I HELP you May I help you...(you moron)" unless they MEANT they actually WANTED TO HELP ME.
So. BAM is the new black. Sorry Spain.
I AM EATING A PRALINE NOW IN NEW ORLEANS....I am SO tired. So I will just say this....one hundred more things have happened. signings and TV and I met a HUGE HUGE BEAUTIFUL POODLE and got locked out of my hotel room wearing pajamas, experienced an incident involving a squirrel in a trashcan, had good signings with neat people-meeting (I met a few folks I have known for YEARS only on-line on I caught up with old friends from the way back back who that are scattered across the country....ALL OF THESE MOMENTS could make blog entries, but it's starting to slip ahead of my ability to catalog it. Before I can tell you about it, I have to be somewhere else. THIS IS WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT MY INABILITY TO REMEMBER MY CAMERA. I COULD AT LEAST DO A PHOTO JOURNAL but instead my camera sits back at the hotel, presumably eyeing the up-scale lobby hookers and wishing it had a Visa.
I MUST sleep, so there is no time to tell you anything more than....
AND PS JUST GOT ANOTHER CALL!!!!!!!! It is creeping up the Book Sense Best Sellers list as well, debuting at 41! TRA LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There is no like or not-like. There is no mild interest or pale disdain. Here on the road, at Chez Travel Sans Mercy, there is only passionate delighted love, and black, bleak hopeless loathing.
What I Love: Greenville, with its darling downtown, and its parks full of waterfalls, an awesome indie called Open Book, and its owner, Duff. Great guy, STEEPED in SC history, smart and funny. I had....BUMBAH! The Signing. The one everyone warns you about, the inevitable one where no one comes at all really, maybe 6 people, and you kinda sit there feeling like a dork in your pretty-ish clothes, travel rumpled and stinking of flop sweat and that awful, unkillable, faint, desperate hope. The signing was 'sposed to be announced on the noon news with a little interview, but I got PRE EMPTED BY THE POPE! That kinda tickles me. It's not every girl who can say, "THE POPE! PRE-EMPTED ME! Anyway, Duff was GREAT and made me feel like not-a-total-failure, and kept me company and assured me the book was selling well at his store and that he had plans to sell the many copies I signed before I left. And assuming NO MORE POPES feel like they need to get elected, the taped interview will run today.
What I Hate: Greenville airport. Especially Kimberly. I hate Kimberly SO much. AND I DO NOT HATE PEOPLE EVER. I generally ACTIVELY LIKE people...but she is evil and petty and mean and a bad person. I spent less than four minutes in her presence, and yet I say this with total confidence: She is no good. When God was passing out the milk of human kindness, she sniffed and said, "No thanks. I am allergic to dairy." Really, I don't think I could dislike STALIN more than Kimberly today. I had to get up at 3:30 and grab a 4 am cab to the airport, and I was SO tired when I got there. I stood in line for 20 minutes trying to check into DELTA before realizing I was booked on another airline, so now late and worried, I RAN down the line dragging my 50 pound luggage and ready to weep at my own stupidity. I had had no coffee. 3 hours of sleep because I COULD NOT fall asleep last night, just lay in the bed missing Scott. SO. I get to the non-Delta other airline, let's call them Air Bogus, and I am so tired I am almost blind. The world is a pinhole of pale gray light to me, and I stand in staring and drooling in line and this woman behind the counter WAY down 5 seats over from where the WAIT HERE sign is, calls to me...and this calling woman, I will tell you, is KIMBERLY-I-HATE. Look at her for a sec, before she speaks. She is pretty and well-put-together and has on cool, efficient lipstick and an even cooler and more efficient smile.
Loathesome vile disgusting evil mean Kimberly-I-Hate: May I help you?
Me: Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves one hand sort of lackadaisicaly at me in a meaningless gesture.) May I HELP you? (MEAN voice, with a parenthetical, YOU MORON. Do you KNOW the parenthetical YOU MORON? It's when someone's tone makes it CLEAR that the proper end of their sentence is YOU MORON, and they DO NOT say it out loud, but it is so PATENTLY obvious that they are THINKING it that the words are PALPABLE, hanging silent and unspoken in the air. My son ---who is 8 and cool and clearly much smarter than his stupid uncool mother--- is the MASTER of the parenthetical you moron, and I am the master of sending his butt to his room with a lecture about manners, but alas, Kimberly-I-hate-forever was CLEARLY not Raised Right.)
Me: Um, but...are you with Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves hand again, flipping her arm up to shoulder level and then doing a little finger waggle* May. I. HELP. You. (You moron)
Me: I'm not...Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the FOURTH time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS. BEFORE she can ask me in an even ruder tone if she can help me, I speak again...) What are you pointing at?
Her: The sign behind me...(you moron)
Me: *drawing self up with gentle but still wounded dignity, meeting her eyes bravely* But you see....... I can't read.
Her: ....oh. Um. OH! I am SO sorry. What an ASS I have been. I have clearly wronged you and I apologize, this IS Air Bogus. May I see your ID please, ma'am?
OKAY THAT LAST PART IS A TOTAL LIE. But wouldn't that have been great??? What a FANTASTIC line, huh??? I CAN'T READ! HA! It would have been just like THAT VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF BLOSSOM except I would have been LYING. Unfortunately, I only thought of that response ten minutes later when I was randomly seected for special screening and was standing off the side, red-eyed and puffy and sniffling, with my brand-new especial pet pervert watching gleefully from the regular unspecial unscreened line while a nice older lady poked shame-facedly around in my bra. So. Let's rewind and see what really happend...
Me: (for the fourth time) Um...is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the fourth time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS, so i said...) Oh, right. I see.
LVDEMKIH: *Sarcastic half-smile, rolls eyes at my obvious and boring stupidity.* May I....HELP you? (you WORTHLESS moron)
Me. *Bursts into tears*
Yup. BURST. RIGHT. INTO. TEARS. Just stood there and wept hopelessly, uncontrollably, dropped my head down and wept and wept. Handed her my ID, schlepped my luggage onto the scales, got my boarding pass, WEEPING WEEPING WEEPING, so so so humiliated to be weeping in public beneath her dry-ice gaze. We did the transaction total silence, and finally, SO emabarrased and out of control, I spoke.
Me: I am sorry. I am just so tired.
Her: *coldly* Pull yourself together. (Parenthetical you moron, eye rolling.)
I crept away, where my suspiciously splotchy faced suicidalness gave me a ticket to the aforedescribed scene, with the random screening and the pervert watching me get felt up.
What do we hate? Say it with me...KIMBERLY.
I swear to the Lord the next time I fly on my own steam, I will give my money to JOHN'S HOUSE OF DISCOUNT HAMSTER-POWERED DEATH-TRAP PLANES before I will hand my credit card to the company that employs Kimberly.
What I Love: My old friend, my beloved old friend from the way back back, Waylon, who rented a hotsy-totsy red sportsmobile and squired me all over and ate with me and took me to parks and who lay around in my hotel room with me watching Game Sow Network and arguing lazily with me about which gameshow host was hotter, Gene or Richard. (um DUH! GENE! OBVIOUSLY.... but then I have always had a weekness for the tall, funny, smart and slightly dorky sort. So.)
What I hate: Kimberly. And crying in public. And Kimberly.
What I love: That a girl---woman now -- that I knew at CORDOVA PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with saw my picture and book in the paper and came to the signing. She and I were like...bus friends. She was a shy and pretty little girl as I recall, very sweet. She is now a less shy, soft-but-well-spoken woman, still pretty, still sweet. She said to me, "I wasn't at all surprised to see you in the paper...you were always so confident and self-assured when we were kids." WHICH...um. I was not. I was a teeming mass of terror and lonliness and desperate longing to be loved, like EVERY OTHER 9 year old. I was just...LOUD. It LOOKED like confidence to her though, and how nice of her to say so...
What I hate: Kimberly.
What I love: The Shrimp and Grits and Soby's in Greenville. If you EVER go to Greenville, GO EAT THAT with a glass of pinot grigio. SERIOUSLY. You have to. It is spicy low-country love in a bowl.
What I hate: Guess.
Hint: It rhymes with Mimberly.
It's a GCC day, and the book is...NON FICTION. *gasp* It's a cookbook...it's a cookbook that can get you DATES. This has to be the smartest concept book pitched since the "_______ for Dummies" series because it COMBINES two things EVERYONE likes...good food and making out. Now, there are BAD ways to combine food and making out---remember that Seinfeld episode where George had a GIANT HOAGIE SANDWICH secreted in the comforter of his girlfriend's bed? OH! THAT GEORGE! That's BAD. But then remember Mickey Rourke feeding a blindfolded Kim Bassinger delicious mystery foods on the floor of the kitchen, back before Mickey Rourke got SO SO SPOOKY LOOKING? That was GOOD. It was ESPECIALLY good because in a sense, Mickey Rourke FIXED THE DINNER, and speaking as a married lady with two little kids, the ONLY thing hotter than a man who cooks for you is a man who does LAUNDRY.
Perhaps the sequel to COOKING TO HOOK UP can be PROPERLY BLEACHING WHITES TO GET ENGAGED...ANYWAY, the book works like this. You figure out what TYPE of girl she is, and then the book tells you the perfect date, beginning to end, WITH RECIPES. With DELICIOUS but not IMPOSSIBLE menus. The recipes do not require a tart pan, a blow-torch, and the direct intervention of the hand of God to come out decent. These are more like, DO-ABLE recipes produce dishes that taste wonderful and look sophisticated (or homey, or daring, or macrobiotic, depending on the girl's type.) It's a GREAT gift book, I think.
BUT, you ask, how do you know a girl's type. Elementary, dearest Watson. You take a QUIZ. They have two versions, one a girl can take to find her own type, and one for a guy to take with a potential date in mind. ANYWAY go take it. I DID!!!!!!! I love quizzes, I really do. I remember this new women's magazine came out about ten years ago, and I ADORED it because it was (of course) mostly articles about lip gloss and fornication, BUT! It had like 4 quizzes an issue. What kind of kisser are you? Are you too needy? Are you ready to settle down? I took 'em all, and then the mag changed its format and started interspersing its lip gloss and fornication articles with LONG starry-eyed pieces about civil rights in third world countries WHICH, okay, good, I am FOR civil rights, I DO realize there is OPPRESSION and horror in the world, and it's good to be educated and and put your money and time into making the world a better place...but. I do not wish to see pictures of the ravages of leprosy between an article entitled DARE TO GO BARE: THE NEW SPRING SANDALS and another called MAKE HIM GO CRAZY: TEN NEW LOVE TRICKS FROM ACTUAL WHORES.
SO ANYWAY, take the quiz! And then come back here to see what Ann Marie Michaels has to say about the book...also, if you are a guy, take it with a specific girl in mind. AND, if you are a girl, YOU MUST tell me what kind of girl it SAID you were, and if that is a accurate assessment, and what kind you WISH you were, and how many times you had to take the quiz before it would say you ARE the kind you wanted to be. NOT THAT I DID THAT OR ANYTHING. But I bet YOU did.
Me: No matter how many times I took the test trying to make it say I was an Academic (read: big smarty-pants) girl or at least an Indie (read: cool) girl, the dern thing insists I am The Girl Next Door. AND OKAY, yeah, I can see that. DERNIT. What kind of girl are you? And would the menu/date recomended for YOUR type work on you? In fact...has it? *wicked grin*
AMM: I'm a Gourmet/Indie hybrid. So for me, it's all about the food. If a guy is really into food and wine -- or at least goes to the trouble to learn about it, that is very impressive to me. Since I'm also Indie, I judge people on the music they listen to, the movies they watch, etc. Kinda like that guy in High Fidelity. (It's not that we are snobs, we just care more.) So if a guy plays Galaxie 500 while we are eating dinner -- or netflixes an indie film, something with subtitles -- that's big points. And yes, it has worked before. More than once. ;-)
Me: There's a section on making a bachelor pad "date-ready," including a list of things you need to GET. OUT. OF. THE. HOUSE. What about this book? Is a copy of this book "Date Safe?"
AMM: Absolutely. This book has made it's way around the blogs -- it's mostly women taking the quiz. And the feedback I've gotten from women is that they love it (mostly -- I've gotten some hatemail of course).
Me: You write this book with your ex-husband? Wow -- can you tell us about the experience of writing a book that is essentially about staging the perfect date with an ex?
AMM: Oh, we're good friends so it wasn't a problem. We had an amicable break-up. We got on each other's nerves every once in a while -- we had a 5-hour working limit. And most of the book was written independently -- we split it up and worked on our parts separately.
SAD ANNOUNCEMENT: I only have INCOMING e-mail at this hotel. All my OUTGOINGS get stuck. SO. If I do not write you back for the next 48 hours, blame technology, not my unwaning love for you, oh my Hallmarkian internet ducklings who care enough to hit send on the very best.
STORY FROM THE ROAD:
The guy in front of me in line at the airport wouldn't take his shoes off.
BUT THEY ARE SNEAKERS, he kept saying.
SIR YOU MUST REMOVE ALL SHOES FOR X-RAY.
BUT....THESE ARE SNEAKERS.
I stood there, watching the clock close in on Midnight, too tired to even work up a froth of loathing for his LOUD belief in the International Sneaker Exemption Rule. I stood there mildly hating him, a very dull and blanketed feeling. The airport employee, female, pretty, 35 or so, was clearly hating him more than me, as folks piled up in the Disney-World line organizer.
Her: YOU MUST HAVE NO SHOES TO RIDE THIS RIDE...
Him: But.. these are SNEAKERS.
Her: How would you like a body cavity search?
Him: But, see, there is no METAL in SNEAKERS. These are SNEAKERS.
Her: SIR, WE ASK THAT ALL FOOTWEAR BE SENT THROUGH THE X-Ray.
The word "footwear" did it Perhaps he thought he could prove SNEAKERS are NON-SHOES, but not even Daniel Webster could make a case against sneakers-as-FOOTWEAR. He was stymied.
He looked desperately over his shoulder, and then he leaned forward and said to her, quietly, "I have been travelling for three days. I do not want you to smell my socks..."
He was very dear and embarrassed and I flippy-flopped instantly from lackadaisically loathing him to being charmed.
She said, "Sir, I promise to mouth breath."
They kinda grinned at each other for a second, having this neat little human moment as we moved like cattle in a kill line, down the chute and into the machines.
The Montgomery Signing was just TEXTBOOK what you hope for....seriously. The Adviser ran a FABULOUS article about the book, and the reporter who interviewed me showed up to the event. NEAT guy, good writer, and he LIKES MY BOOK, so. Very pretty, he is. And the bookstore's owners and their assistant manager had read and loved the book, and Capitol Book and News is a wonderful store---a community store. They've spent years gathering and nuturing a LARGE PONDFUL of total book junkies and since I am a card carrying member of the book junkie tribe myself I had a GREAT time. People were excited about the book -- before I arrived they had to STOP TAKING PHONE ORDERS because they were afraid that they would run out at the actual event. WE SOLD A SLEW!!!!!! Maybe even TWO slews. And some friends and relations of mine came too, always fun, and and and. It was good. Neat people.
You know how eclectically I read -- I asked the owner for a good read, no hardbacks, no trade, something portable, maybe with COPS in it because 1) my carry-on was already clinically obese and 2) I like a big scoop of plot with my plane-rides, THANKS. I bought the first two mysteries in a series...IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, the first one is called, and it should NOT be called that, because who wants to read somethign bleak? NO ONE ON A PLANE. But it is UN-Bleak, it is the working opposite of bleak, it is warm and human, VERY well-written, with likeable, layered characters who are caught in a smart, twisty plot that has distracted me from my SUFFERING as I sit sulking and hating airport chairs with a black and bitter hate. The title comes from a hymn, and that makes sense because the protag is an Episcopal Priestwho gets embroiled in a murder investigation with a Cop.
AND let me say... wow. TITLE and COVER can REALLY make a difference, isn't that awful? Looking at the cover (bleak) and the title (bleakitty bleak bleak bleak) I would never have bought this book if a hand-seller (GOD BLESS THEM, EVERY ONE) hadn't put it in my hands and said, YEAH I KNOW THE COVER IS NOT PERFECT...BUT READ THE FIRST SENTENCE. So I did and BOOM, hooked. The sentence:
"It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby."
You have to admit, that's pretty good-n-hooky, Especially when the back jacket copy makes it plain that 1) IT IS NOT A DEAD BABY NOR IS IT A BABY WHO DIES. Because NO ONE wants a dead baby on page one of their plane book. SO. It is an alive perfectly fine but abandoned baby. And 2) a dead body who is NOT a baby will be along in chapter two to liven, or deaden, or whateveren things up.
NOW off to Arkansas for the literary festival. WHEE. BUT OH WAIT! FIRST! I have to explain AIM BALL to alla y'all who asked....
Scott and I used to play Tennis. But it was very boring. It went like this:
Scott serves...Ace. Scott Serves...Ace . Scott serves...Ace. Scott Serves...Ace for Game.
I Serve, Scott returns, love-15. I serve, Scott Returns, Love-30. I serve, Scott returns, Love 45. I Serve, Scott returns...SKUNK.
Got very boring. Part of it is he has DEADLY hand-eye co-ordination (This is a guy who used to win pool tourneys)Part of it is that I am just...BAD. I forget to look at the ball and I hit too hard and I trip over dust motes. SO I invented AIM BALL. The rules are as follows:
ALL Players must have an international AIM BALL superstar name. (as I told you yesterday, we are Envoy Flippert and Svetlinka Muppineska).
Points are awarded thusly:
Scott has to aim the ball and try to hit it right to me. If it goes far from me and I can't return it, I get a point.
If the ball comes right to me or close enough for me to get it, and I return it, and it lands ANYWHERE on or near his half of the court, and he cannot return it directly to me, I get a point.
The only dumb rule is the one about if he hits it directly to me and I can't return it at all, or return it to a neighboring court or to the back lawn over the fence, then he stupidly gets a point which is dumb.
THE SAD THING: He STILL almost always wins. He certainy kicked my butt in THIS tourney. The crowd was very disappointed, as Svetlinka Muppineska is a HUGE favorite. After losing a hotly contested volley, I had to look up at the hissing, enraged (and um somewhat imaginary) crowd and shake my fist and yell, "STOP BOOING HIM! HE IS NICE! REALLY! NO! NO DO NOT THROW MONKEY FECES AT HIM...PLEASE..."
I contend that I only lost because my concentration was broken by the 5 THOUSAND inchworms, snails, and woolly worms who were trying to commit SUICIDE VIA BAKING by crawling out onto the 400 degree clay court. I would see them out of the corner of my eye and have to stop the game and pluck them up and tote them to safety. It played HELL with my concentration, but Svetlinka is known world wide for being Bugmanitarian. WHAT HEART! You can see why Svetlinka is SO popular! POOR FLIPPERT! Even when he wins, he loses.
I better go get him a baby wipe for that monkey feces...
I'm FALLIN' DOWN STINKIN' TIRED, so. Here is what happened when the book launched...
Scott and I got all FANCY:
YES! I KNOW! THAT PIC CUTS OFF THE SHOES! What is WRONG with people, do they NOT KNOW HOW TO TAKE PICTURES??? Here is a MUCH better picture of us ready to go to the launch...
We got there and ate stuff and chatted and milled and had a fun time and there was a little podium with a microphone, so eventually I went up there and said a little THANKS FOR COMING with the microphone clipped to my bodice, and that would have been good, had my bodice been TALKING. But since it was a recalcitrent and overall SILENT bodice, no one could hear a dern thing. My bodice was a sound-eating vortex, apparently...I plucked it off and said the THANK YOU again, this time putting the microphone next to my MOUTH, and that worked better. Then folks lined up to get their books signed and other folks sat and milled and yacked...
And I signed books and chatted and drank that good wine with the kangeroo on it and so on and so forth.
THEN we came home and went to bed and this morning Scott and I played Tennis, or, rather, we played our version of Tennis, which is called AIM BALL, and I MUST remember to tell you how to play AIM BALL because it is MUCH more fun than Tennis (for ME anyway). For example, the first rule of AIM BALL is that you have to have an AIM BALL INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR NAME. Scott is Envoy Flippert. I am Svetlinka Muppineska.
I AM VERY GREAT AT AIM BALL, by the way.
NOW I am going to go be great at COMA HAVING as tomorrow I drive to Montgomery and hop a plane---I'll blog from the air!
I do wanbt to say: THANKs ALLA Y'ALL REGULARS FOR THE GREAT COMMENTS AND SUPPORT AND GENERAL NICENESS. Seriously. Thanks.
TONIGHT is the launch party, so last night, on the actual day, I went out to dinner with my folks and my husband and my agent and his wife (Jacques flew down for the launch party---how is THAT for a cool agent?) When we asked for dessert menus, the folks at the restauraunt brought out this...
My editor and various of cronies at Warner (such as her assistant and my publicist) were hip-deep in a plot to make me do this...
AH Weeping like a goon in public! MY FAVORITE! I was SO charmed by this cake I wouldn't let anyone CUT it, much less eat it. We ordered tarts and profiteroles and etc, sparing the cake. I toted the WHOLE THING HOME. Less emotional today, I realized WHAT THE HECK am I going to do with a huge BOOK SHAPED cake...Look at it til the giant bugs organize themselves into an army and come take it by force? We are taking it to the launch party tonight to be the centerpiece on their food table. SO. IT WILL BE SLICED---but more people will get to LOOK at it first and it is SO worth looking at. Little bakery in BIRMINGHAM called ANGELS....amazing huh?
Yeah so, gods in Alabama is officially now released. This day is TRADITIONALLY a BIG LET DOWN day---most writers say that when it actually arrives it is just like every other day and flat and...POO ON THAT! This is the best day ever. THE END.
Here are some things you should know!
1) My friend Wendi Kaufman--I went to college with her so she is a friend from the way back back--FOOLISHLY decided to loan me her ipod over at THE HAPPY BOOKER. In other words, I am guest blogging over there and um...talking about music. Yeah. Music. Hehehe. You should go read it and give her come COMMENTY LOVE for letting me (the most musically challenged monkey to hit the pop charts since the day ALL OF AMERICA SIMULTANEOUSLY DROPPED ACID and pushed Tiny Tim to #1) play at DJ for the day.
2) Ron over at Beatrice INTRODUCED ME TO HELEN ELLIS. Now we like Ron forever, and if you do not know who Helen Ellis is, you SHOULD...she wrote a book I JUST ADORE called Eating the Cheshire Cat. I found Helen's book on vacation, sitting out on a HOT SUMMER READS table. The cover and jacket copy and first few sentences appealed, so I impulse bought it and it was such an odd blend of dark humor and violence that I thought WOW!THERE IS HOPE! Because it is just the sort of book I like. And just the sort of book I wanted to someday WRITE. Also (and this weirds me out) SHE AND I LOOK A LITTLE BIT ALIKE. Which I did not realize until Ron stuck our author photos next to each other. Maybe my mother had twins and liked me better and so sold her to be able to afford to put me through college so I could meet Wendi Kaufman? Or maybe our mother liked HER better and sold me to the woman I THINK is my mother. AND, to add FREAKY to BIZARRO...according to AMAZON, both Cheshire cat and gods weigh in at EXACTLY 288 pages. Hear that high-pitched, tweedly noise? That is twilight zone music, my friends.
Ron does this thing called AUTHOR 2 AUTHOR where two writers interview each other back and forth, and the ELLIS/JACKSON A2A is running all this week. The first installment went up yesterday and Ilinked to it above--the photos are there. ALSO! Keep checking Beatrice because a little more of it will come out every day. HURRAH! Also keep checking Beatrice because Ron is a man with one hand on the pulse of the lit scene. His OTHER hand is probably gently palpating the lit scenes knee under the table. You do not want to KNOW what his FEET are doing to the lit scene. In other words? Ron and the lit scene are TIGHT.
3) I had my little local launch party last night at OWLS TREE BOOKS. This was mostly for friends and church folks -- although QUITE A FEW PEOPLE saw the event in our small town newspaper and CAME! And one intrepid soul named Bill (who has, like 15,000+ signed first editions...Bill is SERIOUS about it) drove all the way down from DUNWOODY.
I was really terrified no one would come and Ms. Virginia (the store's owner, pictured with me pre-signing above) RECKLESSLY bought 5 cases of books (I told her to get 2 or 3 but Ms. Virginia is as headstrong as ANY belle and she just patted my head and said, "Yes darlin'" and then did exactly what she wanted. I was worried Ms. Virginia would get stuck with 3 cases or so and OWLS TREE is a small indy so THAT CANNOT BE GOOD....but SHE WAS RIGHT AND I WAS WRONG. Everyone came. We sold OUT of books and Scott had to go home and get my author copies for Ms V to use and replace. YAY! IT WAS SO FUN! The little store was just PACKED!
THE ONLY BAD THING: There is this woman at my church who I see every Sunday at COFFEE CLATCH and every Wednesday at church supper and she has ALWAYS BEEN THE NICEST HUMAN ON THE PLANET TO ME. Seriously, she always asks after my family and is just the sweetest woman, very vivacious and funny, just a PLEASURE to be around... and I realized at the signing that I have been calling her ...
BY HER SISTER'S NAME.
For TWO YEARS now.
To her face.
Yeah. I should be drowned like too many kittens. THAT IS SO TYPICAL OF MY INVETERATE BONE-HEADEDNESS. Sadly, sadly typical. One of my favorite people at church (Teresa) was christened MRS. CHUCK the entire first year I knew her there because her husband, Chuck, taught my Sunday School, and, well, see notes on my bone-headedness and instructions on exactly how to drown me, above.
The Upside: I know BOTH these women from CHURCH, so they are morally obligated to forgive me. Somehow. Eventually.
Good thing I am leaving TOWN for six weeks, huh. SPEAKING OF WHICH!!!! I leave in five hours! YAY! BOOK TOUR! I will blog it from the road as the laptop allows.
We all have our coping mechanisms. Distressed Millionaire Rock stars, for example, like to huff up great heaping spoonfuls of cocaine and Do It with gaggles of bikini models. Gaggles of Bikini Models binge eat, sucking down the WHOLE olive instead of just the pimento. Hamster mamas eat the heads right off their babies. Lemmings march cheerfully into the sea. Me? I make lists.
In the spirit of I HAVE NO COCAINE ON ME AND I LIKE MY KIDS' HEADS RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE, THANKS, I present to you:
A list of things I need to accomplish before my first novel comes out. Which happens tomorrow. By the way.
1) The GOAL: Lose five pounds. Preferably five pounds of butt.
The PLAN: Sensible diet and exercise.
The EXECUTION: Last night for dinner I had 3 glasses of water and a platter of Asian Broccoli Nut Stir Fry. An excellent beginning, since it is nuthin' but delicious, fresh veggies with nuts and olive oil for good fat and protein. But then I followed it up with half a pound of cookie dough and another half pound of finished cookies and then I had to FROST the meagre troop of cookies I did not eat and at around 10 PM when I had put all the cookies AWAY and instructed my husband to HIDE THEM from me, I found myself crouched over the sink LICKING FROSTING DREGS DIRECTLY FROM THE BOWL.
The PROGNOSIS: You can take your ice skates to hell and wear them out before this one happens.
2) The GOAL: Get BETWEEN, GEORGIA finished and locked and loaded and back to my editor before I leave on tour so I can get my head set to talk-think-opine about gods in Alabama.
The Plan: Sit on my five pounds of spare butt facing my computer and do the work.
The Execution: I sat. The butt was comfy. Of course, I BROKE A CHUNK OFF MY LAYZZZZZER PRINTER! HEH. A VITAL chunk. A chunk that made it STOP being a printer and become, instead, a box that makes a terrible grinding noise and spits out inky shreds of masticated paper. BUT Scott went out to COMP CITY and BOUGHT ME A NEW ONE. So. (PS If you are thinking "Didn't she have to replace her ancient crappy printer while working on gods only a year ago so how on earth did she manage to UTTERLY DESTROY IT so fast?" then um WOW you have a good memory and have been hanging here a long time. And also You are CORRECT.. And ALSO??? SHUT UP.)
Prognosis: I DID IT! CHECK! Mailing today! LA LA LA LA LA!
3) The GOAL: Write a DIFFERENT first novel, one that is gentle and inspiring, where the main character is a cheerful nun or perhaps a talking rabbit. And not one of those WATERSHIP DOWN-style fighting mythological doe-wanting-sexed-up VIOLENT rabbits either. A NICE rabbit. A SINGING rabbit. Preferably on PROZAC. Sell book to big NYC publishing house and have them get it into a finished product and promote it like MAD and release it TODAY and become this sort of FOLKSY, KIND icon who is known for her ladylike ways and delightful tea parties and then later release gods under the name SLUTZY CARMICHAEL and hire Orphaned Agnostic Bikini Model with TINY TINY BUTT to pretend to be the author.
The Plan: This seems hard. Get Scott to do it.
The Execution: I'll ask Scott how it is going, one sec....He says "GREAT!"
Prognosis: Scott can do anything, so no worries on this score. Maybe he can talk to Mischa Barton and see if she is agnostic! And an orphan! CHECK!
4) The GOAL: Get new HEALTH INSURANCE via NASE so that our coverage costs less than our mortgage.
The Plan: FOR MONTHS say to husband "we need to get new health insurance." For MONTHS AND MONTHS, nod wisely in response when he says "Yes, we do." Do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to accomplish this. INSTEAD, wait until the DAY BEFORE your first novel releases, and then when an agent CALLS YOU, out of the blue, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT to have him COME TO YOUR HOUSE and TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS on the VERY DAY when you need to make 3000 more desserts for your hometown mini-book launch in the evening, when you have a radio interview scheduled, when you are getting the FIRST PEDICURE of your life, when you need to PACK FOR YOUR WHOLE FAMILY for five days and pack YOU for the first week of touring, when you need to go to four different stores to get things you NEED before you can travel, and when you have not scrubbed out the toilets in WEEKS --- It helps if you can BE SURE you were raised in the south by a woman whose MAD HOUSEKEEPING SKILLZ make Donna Reed look like a FILTHY SLAG, so that you are pathological about having the house look SHINY AND NICE and FREE OF LICE when strangers come over and HEY! What you need right now is a another way to feel like STRANGERS ARE JUDGING YOU AND THINKING YOU MUST BE A BIG CUSSY HO-BAG WITH DIRTY THOUGHTS AND TOILETS, and by the way, oh gentle reader, while you are over by that sideboard, could you PASS ME THE COCAINE??? And a fistful of Bikini Models, too, so I can chew THEIR heads off and spare my children. THANKS!
The Execution: Yes, please. I will take lethal injection, or a simple beheading is fine too because WHAT CRACK WAS I SMOKING???
Prognosis: I have to stop blogging now and go clean out my toilets.
What's the only thing worse than finding a beetle in your coffee? Finding HALF a beetle in your coffee. I cannot EXPLAIN how half a beetle got IN there, that's why. I think I would have NOTICED if I had nibbled the left side of a stone-cold and (one assumes) crunchy beetle out of a hot liquid. And yet there he was, bobbing around dead-ly, disconsolate and 3 legged, right at the top of my cup. IT WAS VERY POLITE OF HIM TO BE BUOYANT. The only thing worse than half a beetle FLOATING in your coffee is finding him stuck to the bottom, giving you the glassy eyeball as you lick at the dregs.
The part of it that is REALLY troubling me is how he managed to get half of himself IN there. I mean...WHERE IS THE OTHER HALF? I gotta tell you, a tiny section of my brain is GIBBERING IN HORROR over it because it can't stop speculating that the OTHER HALF of the beetle got EATEN BY A ROACH which means ROACH FEET touched the inside of that coffee cup, that would be the one I was just DRINKING OUT OF, and HAIRY CLICKETTY VILE ROACH LIPS touched the ragged edges of the half-a-beetle and therefore when the beetle was STEEPING he was disseminating ROACH SUCK MOLECULES into my BEVERAGE and...urgle. I am about to go in through the tear duct with a pick and poink out that tiny brain part because THIS DOES NOT BEAR CONSIDERATION. I would rather eat beetle salad with no dressing, thanks much, than have a single ROACH SUCK MOLECULE touch my hair. I have a roach thing.
Tomorrow night I have a PRE-TOUR dessert party and signing at my little local indie bookstore, The Owl's Tree. I AM MAKING SPRING FLOWER TEA CAKES! And a fruit ring! And I ordered petit fours from the bakery and my friend Amanda is bringing her famous mini-cheesecakes and quite a few people from my church have said they are COMING which is...spooooooooky.
Look, I'm proud of this book, okay? I love it unabashedly. SHAMELESSLY I love this book. But it is better when strangers read it. Because they judge the book and react to it based on nothing more than a story that on a SYMBOLIC level ate me alive and demanded I tell it, but which bears only a geographical and thematic resemblance to my actual life.
I'm not Arlene. Really. And she isn't me. Thank God. She's a MUCH more intense person than I am, she's BRAVER than I am and much edgier----we have the same sense of humor because, well, I WROTE THE BOOK, but the fact that she turns a phrase like I do doesn't make her into me at her core, in her essentials. We have different decision making systems and priorities and the way we react to things emotionally is night and day and if you put the geography aside we have radically different life histories and relatives and relationships and SHE IS NOT ME. People who know me WELL don't need me to say so---it's obvious. But OH the dangers of a first person narrator! People who just know me to talk to are going to ASSUME A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT ME BASED ON HER. Which...It spooks me.
On the most FACILE LEVEL....she cusses like a FREAKIN' SAILOR and she hasn't exactly invested a lot of time in "keeping her pants on" and she ---I am not giving anything away here because the book makes NO bones about this, she SAYS so on the first page, okay---she made a deliberate (albeit hot-blooded) decision to KILL a person. SHE IS NOT ME. And there is this part of me that is SO intent on getting enough distance between us so that I don't end up WHISPERED about in the A and P or, you know, excommunicated.
But at the same time, I love her. I love her scared and savage heart and her yearning for goodness and her smart mouth. So. It's weird. This desire to protect her and yet push her away. I have yet to learn the language that will allow me to look the people in my community in their eyeballs and say, "She isn't me, okay? But she is mine. Foul mouth and fornication and all. She's mine."
I limit the time I can play at silly bloggers, so I am having a REAL PROBLEM deciding WHAT to blog.
1) I'm having an embarrassing surfeit of WONDERFUL things happening for gods in Alabama. Sample: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY LIKES THE BOOK! WAAHHHHHHHHH! And they ran a picture of me with the 'scrutiatingly charming review which is freaking me right out the door and into the street to do the Macarena in traffic because I am JUST. THAT. COOL. I mean, COME ON! A good review and picture in EW? I MUST be cool enough to do the Macarena on a public street. With no music. And no irony. Right??? RIGHT???
FINE. I will go back inside. I am STILL doing the Macarena quietly here in my office, even the butt-waggle part, and NO ONE CAN STOP ME. And also apparently Glamour Magazine said something REALLY nice about the book! Although I have not been able to get my hands on a hard copy so I do not know if it is a review or a mention in an article or if the book's GORGEOUS COVER is shown. I DO feel quite certain that GLAMOUR is not running MY picture, unless it is perhaps buried in a WHEN PEDICURES ATTACK article, way way over on the BIG TOE DON'TS side.
But I hope they showed the cover...that cover is JUST as sexy as any supermodel, AND I just found out that Anne Twomey (The woman who designed it whose photo SHOULD be in Glamour and IS on the wall above my black altar where I MUST have slaughtered an unblemished, virgin Goatess in order to GET that cover in the first place) IS WORKING ON THE COVER FOR MY NEXT BOOK. HUZZAH! AND I keep getting e-mails (and even notes in the comments section, HEY THERE, ROBERT GRAY) from book sellers telling me that my book has arrived AND THEY ARE SELLING IT TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT RELATED TO ME BY BIRTH OR MARRIAGE, and from friends who have walked into book stores and seen gods right up front, often on special BOOK SENSE display tables or BUY THIS FOR MOTHER'S DAY tables or NEW AND HOT tables and in FOUR DAYS it will be in pretty much every bookstore in the country and the newspaper and other reviews are coming in so far ranging from good to glowing and SEVERAL TOTAL STRANGERS have FOUND the book, read it, and liked enough to go write AWESOME AMAZON and B and N.com REVIEWS and....holy crap. I mean....HOLY, HOLY CRAP, right?
2) I am having EXTRAORDINARY LEAPS upward and equally swift plummets-to-normalcy in the mental illness department. I can go from zero to screamin' crazy in .7 seconds. People who have sedated me recently say it's quite something to watch. This may be normal...or atleast predictable to those who know me. I got a MENTAL ILLNESS PRE-EMPT letter from psychic-slash-novelist Katie Willard that said...well, no, this is not a quote, but the letter basically meant, "Just because things are going well doesn't mean that you are going to be hit by a truck and killed (assuming you stop doing the macarena in the street). I KNOW you are thinking that the only way to PAY for all this joy is to have radioactive spiders come eat your face off, but REALLY life does not work like that. SO STOP IT. JUST ENJOY YOUR GOOD DAY."
Sane Person Reaction: HOW DID SHE KNOW I WAS THINKING THIS! MAYBE SHE IS REALLY SMART AND I SHOULD LISTEN TO HER AND RELAX AND BASK IN THIS THIS NEVER-TO-REPEATED WEEK LA LA LA!
Crazy Person Reaction: Spiders??? Did she say SPIDERS??? I bet WHOLE CROWDS of carniverous spiders are behind me RIGHT NOW, glowing green and whispering and nudging each other and fighting over who gets the tender earlobes!!!!
Unable to choose which response was proper, I decided to have both, simultaneously. AND then I decided to have a great big cocktail which I think was probably the wisest reaction of all.
3) I am having watershed, never-to-be repeated moments all over the place... like walking into a bookstore and seeing my book for the first time and bursting into tears like a GREAT. BIG. DORK. Or my first speaking engagement THAT I GOT PAID FOR! PAID! PAID FOR TALKING ABOUT MY BOOK! which, um, is RIDICULOUS. I am being paid to do things that give me SUCH extreme double-dip chocolate ice-cream scoops of pleasure...What can the world possibly PAY me for next? Its like being handed twenty bucks and told to go kiss my cute husband on the lips or go get on the kind of rollercoaster that has loop-de-loops. It seems JUST AS LIKELY and fair that someone will walk up and say, "Here's fifty bucks, please go lay out on the beach and try to drink up this banana daquiri and eat BAGS AND BAGS of our new calorie-free Cheetos while you read a brand new Haven Kimmel novel and Taye Diggs gives you a foot rub."
OH SPIDERS, LEAVE ME BE. At least until Taye finishes up.
I had an invitation to go talk about gods at one of the MANY...manymanymany...colleges I attended in my chequered academic career. This was one of the ones where I actually got a degree. This was, in fact, the small, EXTREMELY CHARITABLE college that let me hit a DO-OVER button and get back into school after I had RIGHTEOUSLY flunked out of UGA and gone wandering off to be an actor or a mental patient, whatever. It was so neat to go back there and speak as an alum---a couple of the students told me later this school was a do-over button for THEM, too, and the whole experience made me glow all roseate and say a silent Thanks for places like Georgia Perimeter College and do-over buttons and fresh starts of all kinds.
AND the woman who organized the event gave me TULIPS, which, hey. That's just icing. They are sitting on my dining room table, making me cheerful. Yeah yeah, I'm dead inside, blah blah, nature leaves me cold...but COME ON! Even the most DEDICATED BRAIN-EATERS among the EVIL UNDEAD like to get fresh flowers. Tulips, Gerberas, and Sunflowers---they smell like cut grass and are the most ridiculous, bright colors. I like 'em, okay?
Sometimes you get Tulips, and if you are having a day of MAGIC LEVEL GOODNESS, sometimes you ALSO get George...I love George. George manages the Ann Taylor near the college, and I went there with my friend Jill and took George's warm, kind, solid hand. "GEORGE!" I said, "You must HELP me, George. Because I just found out now I am going to be on TV in Alabama and I don't knwo what to wear on TV and my butt will look big and my favorite color is 'drab' and my favorite place to be is 'NOT ON TV' and I am SPOOKED, George. EVERYTHING IN MY CLOSET is a museum-quality replica of the EXACT outfits all the people who have BEEN on TV point to and say 'YOU WILL BE FINE AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT WEAR SOMETHING LIKE THIS.' And I am SO nervous about going on TV that when the red light blinks on I am going to IMMEDIATELY throw up on my shoes, George."
And George said, "Oh, that's fine as long as the shoes are fabulous."
At which point I realized this was quite possibly love, and I put myself and my beleaguered Amex directly into his hands and now I am the PROUD OWNER of a TV OUTFIT that I wear with wedgie-heeled ankle strap GODDESS shoes. These shoes --- they would MAKE BARBIE PROUD. So.
ADDENDUM! I founda PIC of them online. And when I got them, they were ON SALE which is my favorite price!
I woke up at about two am and lay staring up at the ceiling until four, when I gave up and went to go play computer games. I came back to bed at six and managed to fall back asleep.
I had the most lucid dream then...I didn't realize I was dreaming at all because the dream took place in my exact real family room, and Scott was there wearing khaki pants and this button-down shirt I bought for him recently.
Me: I can't sleep. I need to be sleeping. Why can't I sleep?
Him: We all have our issues we have to deal with. You can't sleep, and I put a tack in my pants.
*long pause in which I boggled at him and he stood there looking complacent*
Me: But---what do you mean? You PUT a tack in your pants?
Him: Yes, I put a tack in my pants. And now I have to deal with it.
Me: But how is that like me not sleeping if you PUT the tack in your pants. Do you mean you PUT A TACK IN YOUR PANTS on PURPOSE? HOW IS THAT THE SAME?
He didn't answer, and then Maisy started yelling, "GOO' MORNIN'! COME GET ME! I WOKED UP!" from her bed, and that woke me up too.
I am no dream interpreter, but if anyone HAS a dream-image book I would LOVE to know what a tack in the pants MEANS. Not that I set much store in such things...I SUSPECT the dream means only that my mental illness number is 68 and rising. BOO-YA!
YAY! It is GCC day! Which means we can talk to Kathleen O’Reilly (who is funny! and possibly even MENTALLY WELL!) instead of talking about HOW TO MAKE 22 CHAPTERS all saved carefully in separate files with different numbering systems and headers and footers and etc into a SINGLE, COHESIVE DOCUMENT. Yep, I am back in edits for BETWEEN, GEORGIA and soon is the time on Shprockets where Warner needs the whole book in ONE .doc. I did it absolutely incorrectly in every possible way with gods in Alabama. My gods doc was the electronic equivelent of trying to bind paper using toad spittle because the workings of the stapler elude you, even though you have a stapler and a 50 page YOUR FRIEND, THE STAPLER instruction manual sitting RIGHT THERE BESIDE YOU.
A VERY nice man I know offered to make the whole thing into a single, cohesive doc file FOR me, but I said no. I told him, "Thanks, but I have to do it myself because my mother said that all-pervasive fishing metaphor to me one too many times as I was squandering my childhood." You know the one. Goes something like: If you give a girl a perfectly formatted Word doc, she will turn in one MS on time, but if you teach her to MAKE a perfectly formatted Word doc, she can always get a job in the secreterial pool of a heartless conglomerate if no one but her mother buys her book.
Not that I am still puking into my soup with nerves OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. Not that I would willingly hand over half my soul and change to the devil to see into the future and KNOW that one way or another everything is going to be okay.
AND SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL...I got to sit down and chat with Kathleen O’Reilly about her brand spankin' new just-released 20 seconds ago novel. I like the premise:
What would you sacrifice to be a size zero? For more than a few women, the promise of thin thighs in 30 seconds might just convince them to deal with the devil. Award-winning author Kathleen O'Reilly's The Diva’s Guide to Selling Your Soul (Apr., Downtown Press) is a story for every woman who knows that getting celebrity-style skinny involves a pact with Lucifer, or in this case, the silver-tongued Lucy. She's the trashiest gossip columnist in the city and she's working a pyramid scheme that's truly evil. The more clients our "innocent" heroine V recruits for her "Life Enrichment Program," the more of V's decadent desires will come true. Unfortunately, V soon discovers there maybe something worth saving in her after all, which means when she made the deal with the devil she may have truly damned herself -- unless she can figure a way out.
K'OR: I have to say that I'm not a big fan of definitions because once we do that,
we start creating a box around what we write. I think I'll just say that
I write stories
sounds different enough. Seriously though, mainly I write stories about
people who undervalue themselves and then discover their true worth,
hopefully by the end of the book
Me: In your bio, you mention your first "book" was a Romance
you wrote at age 11 that ended up being read aloud to your
class---How did THAT happen. Tell it like a story. And was
the hero embarrasingly similar to any boy in your
class---extra points for salacious details!
KO'R: I still have that story. It'll never see the light of day, though. We had
an assignment to write a short story. The teacher was Mrs. Witt. My story
was about a new girl at school, who was crushing on the popular guy, and
there was a dance coming up. She thought he had asked the popular girl, and
at the end of the story, as she realizes that he wants to take her, his lips
covered her in the kiss that was heard around every classroom in Mark Twain
Elementary. I don't remember being teased, only the abject mortification
that came from not only having my words read aloud, but also, the
realization that no one was going to buy my "boys have cooties" defense
anymore. I grew up that day. It was a lesson I believe every writer should
Me: The book has such an interesting premise--- If you were
going to sell your soul, what's your list? Is it Similar to V's or?
KO'R: My list is pretty similar to V's. Size Two, Check. Great bag, check.
Media attention that rival's Paris, or in my case, JK Rowling. Check.
Money's a big driver for me, but it's not an ambition, more a measuring
stick, so I'm not one of those people who wishes for a million dollars. I
want to earn my million dollars. Also, I'd really love to have people do my
bidding when I choose. I think it'd be very cool, and quite handy when
dealing with for example, the IRS.
I am HOMEHOMEHOME from Birmingham. I had to DRIVE MYSELF! Oh, the humanity! Usually Scott drives me (SPOILED! TOTALLY SPOILED ROTTON!) and I spend the ENTIRE TRIP reading so I LIKE travelling, but UGH. With no book on tape, DERNIT, I was forced to be a danger to myself and others by spending the entire two hour trip yacking on the cell phone JUST LIKE all those LAWYERS and whatnots who are so busy and important as they bark intensely into their cell phones that they run me off the road into the kudzu. I always feel irked as I plummet to my death because of them, except now I am more tolerant because I think perhaps they are not so much busy and important as they are WILLING TO DIE (and kill others) because highway driving is SO FREAKING BORING. I know I was perfectly willing to die by the time I hit intersate 20, and so I called everyone I knew and made them talk to me in shifts until I got home.
AND the truly irritating thing is when I got home, my author copies of the AUDIO VERSION of gods in Alabama were there, waiting for me! I'd been dying to hear it, and it would have been PERFECT and MUCH SAFER to have in the car. Alas! At any rate, I barricaded myself in my office and stuck the first CD in...The actor reading it is Catherine Taber, she's a Georgia native who has done ALL KINDS OF TINGS here in Atlanta, very young, very cute, right at the beginning of her career out in LA. I had never seen her or heard her speak and I was a little bit nervous. Listening to her read the book I wrote was a VERY strange experience...I am trying to figure out a way to explain it.
OKAY! GOT IT. You all know I am a great big geek, so how surprising is it that I read The Fellowship of the Ring 945 times, starting when I was about ten. SO, a few years ago, when the movie came out, I of course went to see it in the theatre. And I was sitting there watching it, and we got to the part where the four hobbits are crouched off the road, underneath this canopy of roots, and one of the Nazgul is there, leaning over, craning, SNIFFING these horrifying deep sniffs and the hobbits' backs are pressed hard onto the earth ...watching it, I got DIZZY. I got this weird feeling of deja vous, and I knew I had seen this EXACT THING before, in detail, perfectly, just exactly like this. And I could not place the scene for a few seconds, and it was making me crazy, WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS??? And then I realized... I had seen it exactly the way it looked on screen in my BRAIN, every time I read that scene in my childhood. Tolkien is an EXTREMELY visual writer and Peter Jackson NAILED that image.
Listening to Taber read gods was EXACTLY that way. Vertigo. The accent is perfect---a southern girl who has been out of the south for a bit, so it's distinct but light, never hokey or overblown, her inflections, the tone, the pitch, she sounds INTENSE and the voice sounds like it is coming from a small frame. GREAT comic timing...She's Arlene. She is perfectly and absolutely Arlene JUST like I heard Arlene in my head when I was WRTING this book. It gives me the shivers. And she has NAILED the secondary characters. One of my favorite characters in the book is Arlene's bitter, tough-as-nails Aunt Florence, and when I do readings, I always CLIP the ends of Flo's words, so she sounds hard and terse but still SO alabama -- Taber got it PERFECTLY.
I am half-inclined to leap into my car and drive out to L.A. and find her and kiss on the mouth, but I think that would only end in a protective order and arrest for murder in multiple states because Lord only knows how many unsuspecting folks would get run off the road and killed before my cell phone battery gave out.
HOLY CRAP ADDENDUM: A Faithful Reader ordered the book from Amazon, AND he just e'mailed me to tell me...IT SHIPPED TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!