There was a little confusion in the comments, and Mr Husband explained it all there, but I am going repost here for confused comment-spurners:
I am going to be on Cover to Cover (NPR) TOMORROW NIGHT (that's Sunday, July 31st) at 8 PM tp 9 PM Eastern Standard Time.
The phone number, should you wish to call in and ask me non-spoilery questions about gods in Alabama or the writing life or Faster than Kudzu or the care and feeding of Newts, is HERE. (DIGRESSION: My newt, FIG, has become EXTREMELY huge and fat while I was on Vacation. He is SO big I feel Maisy's little teeny Daisy Flower Newt may be in some danger...Are newts cannibals?)
If you aren't in Georgia, but still want to listen, you can find a link to the LISTEN ONLINE function HERE.
I'm nervous and excited and a dork.
It was actually very very very fun, the whitewater rafting. They had this one spot where they took a picture, and I meant to go buy it for the blog, but I forgot to even go look at it. I was tired! But it's okay because my brother (who may I remind you MAKES HIS LIVING, I mean, actually FEEDS HIS FAMILY by working as an artist and sculptor) decided to recreate the moment with an original work that he drew on his IPAQ with a Stylus and a program called Pocket Artist. Here it is:
*cough* It's not his best work.
Even his 11-year -old daughter, Erin, usually his biggest fan, was NOT impressed.
Erin: You can draw better than this, Dad.
Bobby: I'm quite proud of it.
Erin: ... *I* Can draw better than this, Dad.
I am the one with the blue oar. The extremely tanned blonde in the back is my sister-in-law, Julie. She went on the rafting trip, and she HOPED to get a tan, but it was overcast and we all left the boat as luminously pale (read: Pasty. Read: SO pasty it would not be surprising if our eyes grew over into flesh-humps like those cave fish who have never been touched by light) as we had been when we entered it. In real life, Julie is a gorgeous blonde who always hopes to tan but just doesn't have the melanin for it---although I personally would kill for her metabolism and her bone structure, these things are ashes in her mouth when summer comes and she wishes to be bronzier. She asked Bobby to fake a tan for her in the re-enactment. And she wanted George-Clooney-Level-White, sparkly teeth. Bobby made her look like she WANTED to look, which is, I suspect, the secret to a successful career in portraiture. And also possibly the key to a successful marriage. *grin*
In his defense, Boby created the rafting re-enactment in about 4 minutes in the total dark; We were watching Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Show (which a reg here recommended in the comments!) And since my mother and children made it clear that there was no way we were escaping TN without SEEING A SHOW, and with the threat of MUNGO BOB hanging like a bucket of mucus over my head, I booked DOLLY's show. I like her voice. (DIGRESSION: I was going to say that Mungo Bob was hanging LIKE THE SWORD OF DAMACLES but I couldn't remember how to spell Damacles and I am too tired to google it so my solution was to change the DAMACLES to MUCUS and SWORD to BUCKET, and I stand by this decision.)
Or rather, as the children were watching. My son, Sam, says the Dixie Stampede is not only the best show he has ever seen, but the most fun he has ever had in his entire eight years on the earth, and the best place currently in existence, and he wants to live there. Maisy Concurs. Erin says it's second best only to Disneyworld, and even Daniel (who is fourteen and too cool for a lot of the stuff the littler kids yearn to experience) had a good time and was entertained. My brother, on the other hand, says that when truly evil people, serial killers and suchlike, die unforgiven, they are sent to spend eternity at the Dixie Stampede.
I quite enjoyed it, myself. They had BUFFALO! And well trained smarty-pants horses and pig racing and ostrich racing, etc. But I have to admit...I found it to be disturbing. For example it opened with seven Buffalo coming out and running around and rolling and looking bizarre and cheerful (VERY ODD ANIMALS! They look like big-headed pig-cow hybrids) and a man's booming, jovial voice told us of all the millions that once roamed the great plains. Then some white people in black braided wigs came out and the booming voice told us of the tribes who lived in harmony with the land and hunted the millions of of buffalo. Then they left, and more white people (this time in cowboy hats) came out in covered wagons, and the booming voice told us about the European settlers who---and here my brother leaned over and said, "Wiped out the tribes." And I whispered back, "And the Buffalo!"
And then later we watched a Southern Belle in a hoop skirt sing on the steps of what looked like Tara about the old-world sleepy charm of the anti-bellum South, and Bobby and I just boggled a little and played a version of an old car game where you listen to the first line of a country song and then substitute your own ending for it. Like she would sing, "Oh, there's no lovelier place in the world..." and Bobby would sing under his breath to me, "I've human chattel to brush out my curls..."
It was like Disney's Pocahontas: There's no way to suspend disbelief and purely enjoy the admittedly delightful spectacle and music and well trained trick animals and pyrotechnics if you have had ninth grade American history...
Maisy was most impressed with the trick riders, especially the one wo was sitting on "the white pony that I am going to ride and keep that is my white pony." In fact this morning she told my mother that God had visited her in the night. God told her she was great and that she could have the white pony. Now she is just sitting back waiting for us (or possibly The Lord) to deliver said animal as a tribute to her greatness. I suspect she is being somewhat spoiled this week (OH! UNDERSTATEMENT!) as she has LIVED on dessert and been told how pretty and smart and perfect she is an average of 19 times per half-hour, and as the week has progressed, so has her tendency toward imperious orders, and then she leans back and crosses her feet smugly and watches as the entire family scrambles to fulfill her teeniest desires. SERIOUS post vacation SPOILING DETOX must happen. I don't know that she is FIXABLE at this point. We may well have ruint her.
On the way OUT of the Dixie Stampede, she saw a pink stick pony...
Maisy: I WANT THAT PINK STICK PONY!
Me: I want you to say a sentence that doesn't begin with the two words "I want..."
Maisy: *thinks for a second* Can I please have that stick pony?
At least she said please...my fluffy despot has exquisite manners.
Hey -- I am heading off now to "learn white water rafting" (read: to be inexorably drowned in the Big Pigeon River). In the unlikely event of my survival, I'm going to be on GPB (which is NPR all over Georgia) this Sunday.
I'll be on Cover to Cover talking with St.John Flynn about gods in Alabama and the writing life and newts and whatever else comes up. If you are NOT in Georgia, you can listen over the internet, and if you have any questions, heck, call in and ask. Be sure to say you are from Faster Than Kudzu---it would be VERY cool to get to talk to some of the regs around here. And, of course, obviously, you KNOW a lot of people listening will not have read the book yet. So please, don't be the pizza parlor lady and say the gods in Alabama equivelent of "Did you KNOW the Butler had secretly stabbed Arabella with an ice dagger when you began the book? Because that was such a surprise to me when you revealed it was that self same dagger, chipped up, that had been cooling his scotch on the rocks for the entire book!!!!"
The phone number and info is HERE.
I do not see the clicky-clicky to listen in online on that page, but I do know it's on their splash for now. You can find it HERE.
I have NO outgoing mail service. I think must have something in the laptop set up incorrectly, becase I can almost never SEND mail from it when I am plugged in anywhere but my house. This kinda defeats the purpose of a PORTABLE computer. My pop3 hodad must be cattywompered. <---industry term used by us professional computery types with the mad code skillz. Dont try this at home. Anyway, UPSHOT is, if you have sent or will send mail to e this week, there shall be no reply. Blame technology.
When you are done blaming technology, meet funny, hip authoress (Authotrix??) and alround cool chick Alesia Holliday. I sat virtually down with Alesia to talk with her about her new book, Nice Girls Finish First. Alesia is a "nice girl" in the best sense of the phrase herself, and she's funny, so I hope you enjoy meeting her as much as I did.
JJ: Wow -- you have a lot of hats. You write Chick-Lit, YA, Legal Thrillers, and Non-Fiction. What are the common threads that transcend genre and make something your work?
AH: My voice and my humor! Anybody can pick up any of my books and tell it's me, that's for sure. I have a very warped and twisted way of looking at life - ESPECIALLY at adversity. (I always figure it's better to laugh than to beat someone to death with an axe, right?) I LOVE to make people laugh. Someone asked me yesterday what I want to hear from God when I die and -- other than NOT hearing "No vacancies" -- I figured, "You made people laugh. Ya done good" would be it.
JJ: You have a silent I in your name, and I have a silent H. And yet here we are in a field where our name is seen a lot more often then our name is heard, and everywhere I go (well, all my book related goings) I have to interrupt the first person to greet me and tell them how to pronounce my name which makes me feel like a great big rude prima donna dork because HOW COULD THEY KNOW? There is a GREAT BIG H IN THE MIDDLE, and yet it is pronounced like Joss-a-lyn. I have my own reasons for keeping my H in spite of being called JOSH every other minute (GARGLE--HATE THAT!). Why did you keep the I?
AH: LOL! I do the same thing, and I always APOLOGIZE, which is annoying. Like I'M SORRY MY PARENTS WERE ON SOME SORT OF HALLUCINOGENIC DRUGS (they weren't) when they gave me this STUPID name.
Little-known fact: Alesia is the name of a famous battle in French history where the French got their ASSES kicked. I discovered this when I went to FRANCE with my FRENCH ex-boyfriend and had to meet all of his family. It was EXACTLY like walking up to them and saying, HELLO, MY NAME IS WATERLOO.
But I never considered changing it -- hey, it's my name. People will just have to deal. I was nearly named for two great aunts and would have been: ARIZONA RUHAIMA HOLLIDAY. So I figure Alesia is orgasmically terrific in comparison. (How would you even shorten a name like that??? Zonie Ru? AARGHHH.)
Once you tell them it's Joss-a-lyn, you should tell them you're related to Joss Whedon and see how many people start nodding in agreement . . .
JJ: How'd you come up wirth the idea for Nice Girls Finish First?
So one day I was thinking about today’s woman, as I often do, considering that I write funny books about the everyday (and not so everyday!) things we all go through, and I was wondering about that perpetual dilemma – the Myth of the Nice Girl.
Somehow, through a peculiar evolution of the professional environment, women today are finally recognized (mostly) as equally competent, ambitious, and dedicated as men in the workforce. (We’ll leave the “we have to work smarter and harder” argument aside for now.) But yet, we have an added burden: we have to be NICE.
Now, this isn’t really tough for most women, most of the time. We were raised to be nice. That’s what little girls do, right? “Play nice!” “Be nice!” Except, well, there are times when you can’t be all that nice . . . Boyfriend cheating? Kick him to the curb! Um, in a nice way? Opposing counsel trying underhanded tactics? Notify the judge and get him sanctioned! Er, nicely?
The idea of a character who is very ambitious and a great person, but a little bit of a tough chick on the surface, really intrigued me. And I had the perfect character in Kirby Green, newly-hired exec at the Whips and Lace Co. She’d pretty much stolen every scene she was in in AMERICAN IDLE (Double RITA finalist, how cool is that??). Then I wanted to compare and contrast Kirby with a character who was so nice that she was in danger of becoming a doormat. Brianna sprang to life. My good friend who is an opera singer (no, really!) provided some great background for her. Then I set the two of them loose to play on the pages – each helping the other learn something about life, and about herself. That’s how NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST was born.
Can we be successful as women today and still retain some of that niceness that was so valued in earlier years? I think so. But nice doesn’t mean dumb, and today’s nice girls DO finish first. They might just have to kick a little ass along the way.
AH YOU PHILISTINES, dissing Pigeon Forge in the comments! Pigeon Forge is FANTASTIC, just as long as you don't go down into the actual town, which is constantly mired in traffic as people zoom frantically from the Ripley's Museum of Toe-Wax to Mungo Bob's Weed-in-the-Teeth Musical Comedy Hoedown. I can honestly say my desire to see Mungo Bob hoe his musical way down some comedy is equal to my desire to have my feet chewed off by irradiated, fanged Bowl Weevils, but hey, to each his own.
My children, for example, have been pouring over a huge stack of what I call The-Brochures-of-the-Damned, and they are RABID to see Mungo Bob. It looks GREAT to them, and hey, you have to tip your hat. After all, Mungo Bob is a very rare and exotic creature---a Working Actor. Go, Bob, Go. And forgive us, Bob, if we mock you a little and worse, if we do not pay out to see you, but I suspect that 10 minutes in I would begin to BEG for the Bowl Weevils to come and chew me free, so I could hop frantically away on my bloody stumps. If there MUST be a show (my children assure me that there MUST, and my mother is backing them) I think we will pick something a tad bit less prat-fall and fart-joke laden. Black Bear Jamboree anyone?
But that is for another night....today? What has Mungo Bob to do with us? We are in a cabin clinging to the side of an undetermined Smokey Mountain. We have a hot tub. We have a pool. We have a big supply of a VERY decent Shiraz-Grenache, we have views that I am assured are breathtaking, we have X-Box, and between us over 50 books, and we all NetFlixxed movies and brought them, and last night we watched A Very Long Engagement on the big screen TV (two thumbs WAYWAYWAY up --- The movie captures the spirit of the book, and the book is pretty much perfect. So.) and we have steaks for grilling, and we have a grill. It's all good, baby. So Hurricane Dennis destroyed one vacation, we shrug in a Gallic fashion (after all we DID just watch a superlative French film) and go to Tennessee. Stupid Hurricane. We are undefeated. We are JACKSONS. We can have fun ANYPLACE. Well, as long as we have an internet connection. SO THERE.
My turn to make dinner happened last night, but I fell asleep on my face for two hours after my wine-laden hot tub lunch, so for dinner I chose to make "order some Pizza." I found a local Pizza Parlor and LORDY but it was VERY good --- they do a brewer's special with chicken and garlic and roasted tomatoes and spinach. It was fantastic and not something we can get at home. DIGRESSION: What’s up with all the OLIVE GARDENS and CHILI'S in a TOURIST town? Why would you drive halfway across the country to eat at an Olive Garden??? I can eat at Olive Garden at HOME and it will be just like every other Olive Garden that ever was, world without end, amen. Eating there on vacation makes NO sense, and yet in comes Olive Garden to a tourist town, peddling ersatz soup-n-breadsticks and faux-Italian Un Po De' MUSICA (as Lucia would say) and some local eatery goes belly up. PLEASE when you go on vacation, TAKE A CHANCE! GO NATIVE! EAT SOMETHING WEIRD!
OH! SOMETHING IRKED ME! BUT there are MILD HARRY POTTER SPOILERS in the following so, if you (like me) hate even the mildest of spoilers, stop here. Nothing SPECIFIC, but there is some info of a general nature that you may not know, and may I say, I envy you your ignorance.
I went to pick the pizzas up because I had NO idea where to tell them to deliver them. (um...Just find a really tall mountain and hurl them toward the little cabin that looks like it is about to slide down kill us all! Aim at the tiddley chick in the hot tub! OKAY!) I took Harry Potter with me (I have left my son behind and am shamelessly reading it MYSELF) and I sat on the pizza-waiting bench and this woman sat by me and said, “Oh, it’s so sad, this new one.”
Me: Oh, um, Hi. Yeah, I just started it. Please don’t tell me anything about it. I’ve really avoided reading about it or hearing about it---If I know too much it spoils the book for me.
Her: So, like, you don’t know which main character dies?
Me: Heh. Um no. I REALLY do not like to know things ahead of time. Like, say, that a main character dies. That’s something I wouldn’t want to know. So, please, do not tell me anything else about the book. It really does spoil it for me.
Her: Oh Okay. Sorry.
Her: But you should know that the end is SUCH a cliff hanger! I could hardly believe it---See,I was thinking—
Then I pulled off my shoe and beat her to death with it.
Well,no. But I WANTED to. What actually happened was, I interrupted her and said, “HAVE YOU SEEN MUNGO BOB’S MUSICAL COMEDY HOEHOWN? Because you ABSOLUTELY should. It’s the best show ever!”
I hope she goes. And I hope the Bowl Weevils get her.
OKAY. I am in the mountains on vacation and I bet it's gorgeous, but as you may recall, I am dead inside. The SPLENDOR OF NATURE leaves me quite, quite cold. It all looks like EMPTY HABITATS to me. I LIKE habitats with little alive cheerful animals bouncing about in them, but the deer and the bears have yet to appear (except PARTS of the deer have been used to make FASCINATING antler lamps that are ALL OVER this cabin!!!!!) So for now, all there is to see is trees and I have pretty good-looking trees in my backyard. The majestic whatever of this pine here is much like the majestic whatever of the pine by my bedroom window.
BUT MAN AM I RELAXED AND HAPPY. I am having a hard time doing anything but lounging out on the deck in the warm sun, reading and having various family members come by and exhort me to unbury my nose and drink in some natural-beauty-of-the-earth. Later I plan to climb into the hot-tub (conviently located on the same deck) and soak and read and ignore what I am sure will be a spectacular sundown. Tomorrow I plan to be drowned in a terrible white water rafting accident because I will forget to tuck my feet up when I popped out of the boat. I am sure the rapids that drown me will be quite, quite lovely, and I am equaly sure I will have failed to notice their beauty even before the fact that they are ending my life makes me feel a little jaded toward them.
I don't want to leave the cabin very often because Pigeon Forge is down there. OH Lordy. It is CHOCK FULL of sunburned people who share my disinterest in the-natural-beauty-of-the-earth and wish to instead experience The-Natural-Beauty-of-the-AS-SEEN-ON-TELEVISION-STORE (where you can AS GOD IS MY WITNESS see and touch a FLOWBEE and sniff the placistene mystery-can that holds SPRAY ON HAIR and anything else you ever saw on TV and didn't order, or did order because you were drinking at it was 2 am and it seemed like a good idea at the time). But all the CARS pointing themselves at stores and shark museums and amusement parks and what-nots makes it a traffic nightmare and I like it here, on the deck, hot tub beside me, children gamboling friskily on the grass within eyeshot, Pinot Grigio chilling in the fridge for the very SECOND I can declare it to be lunchtime. Which---is now actually. NOON HAS COME!
More tomorrow, if I surive rafting.
NOTE 1: I am on the road, so if you e-mailed me in the last week or plan to e-mail me in the next few days, you may not hear back for a goodly chunk of time.
Note 2: I have HELL DAY on Saturday -- oil up your pity glands and excrete some genuine sorrow on my sad, sad, sad behalf. I have to get up at about oh-dark-thirty and drive 5 hours to Dothan to do a signing that I booked when my family vacation was in DESTIN. Then Hurricane Dennis removed the house we had rented from the earth only 2 weeks before we were set to leave, so my dad called the travel agent and he found us a desperation lake house we can have with a pontoon boat and all manner of fun-ness...BUT IT IS IN THE SMOKEY MOUNTAINS. Heh. So instead of leaving the signing and driving 90 minutes to the beach house, I leave the signing, go BACK the way I came, and drive for ANOTHER 9.5 hours. I am SO unamused. The good news is, the desperation lake house has internet, so I will be blogging from vacation. The BAD news is...IT IS DIAL UP. UGH! I might as well gnaw raw meat and give up opposable thumbs.(I am a technology snob, and completely SPOILED by cable.)
I cannot believe how many of you filthy minded people have sent e-mails to ask me to tell you SPECIFICALLY what A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed I used on the phone with my editor. AND THEN my sainted mother asked me what word it was last night. Lordy. But my 13 year old nephew sometimes reads this blog, so I ain't saying. It is bad role modeling to even admit I said it, much less break it DOWN.
Tell you what, I will paraphrase the conversation and you can figure out from context what word it was, how is that for a compromise? And dearest nephew, please note the word CRAP fits in there with grammatically correct perfection. Thank you.
Editor: But can you elocute?
Me: I can elocute the A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed out of anything running.
Editor: You are completely off the chain. Did you just say you could elocute the A-Very-Bad-Word-Indeed out of anything running?
Me: I don't know. I wasn't listening.
That's pretty close, but I can tell it is a paraphase becausemy editor did NOT say elocute because elocute is not technically a word. But it started with an E. Also, my editor lives in the north-east and she would never say "Off the chain." I don't know what they say for off the chain up there. I do know this: Down here if you are in the market and you pass someone who has irked you and you go by them without seeming to realize that you know them or even that they exist, that's called "cutting dead." As in "I cut Frieda dead in the market today." My editor hadn't heard that one. Up there, if you have successfully cut someone dead you say, "I beat her to the ignore." Which cracks me up -- I added it to my lexicon.
Maisy climbed in the bed with me yesterday morning and snuggled up close for a talk.
Maisy: Mommy, I love you.
Me: I love YOU.
Maisy: I think you are GWEAT.
Me: I think YOU are great.
Masiy: Mommy, you are so beautiful.
Me: Maisy, YOU are so beautiful.
Then she rolled away from me onto her back, kicked her legs joyously up into the air and then let them fall back down akimbo and yelled, "OH MY GOODNESS, MOMMY! WE ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!"
And we were.
gods in Alabama made the Quill's Award pre-list for ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award, or best first novel. There are quite a few on each nominations list, and they are going to cut each category down to five or so, so I am not holding my breath that I will get to BE ON TV come October, but it is pretty dern cool to be on that list, you know? I'm pleased and quietly preening.
ALSO You know the QUILLs are getting BUZZ--- it's the Oscars for books. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE SHOW. It's the working definition of MUST SEE TV. Not only because I am a rabid reader and am bound to have strong opinions about who should win what etc--although that's a factor--but ALSO because writers are JUST AS NUTZY FANDANGOED as actors. We are ALL just the teeniest bit SQUIRRELLY, except for those of us who are outright ravers, but we don't have stylists and personal trainers and publicity teams telling what we can and cannot say/wear/do in public. DYING TO HEAR THE ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES AND SEE THE FASHION. DYING.
Also -- You know how jewelry and clothing designers DRESS the award noms for the oscars? WHO IS GOING TO DRESS THE WRITERS??
E Reporter: So, who are you wearing?
Writer: Um what?
E! Reporter: Who did your dress?
Writer: Oh...uh...I got it at Rich's? Can we talk about my book for a second?
E! Reporter: You wrote a book?
Also? They don't let a lot of us on TV for a reason. Here is my DREAM, my COMPLETE BEAUTIFUL BOOK AWARD SHOW DREAM!
E! reporter: SO, who are you wearing??
Crazed, Foaming Lunatic-Slash-Writer: I am wearing a dress I made myself by safety pinning bath towels I stole from hotels to protest capitalism and the Paris Hilton media frenzy. Also, NO PANTIES!
E! Reporter: Oh um...
Crazed, Foaming Lunatic-Slash-Writer: I CRAP ON ALL AUTHORITY! THESE AWARDS ARE OPPRESSING MY MUSE! WANT TO SEE MY PIERCINGS???
E! Reporter: Oh Dear Father in Heaven, no. Please no.
*Merciful cut to commercial*
OKAY PROBABLY NOT. That's actually what would happen at the Performance Artist Awards. WHICH IS A GREAT IDEA. Bravo, are you LISTENING??? And then you could take all the winners and put them on an island with only primitive weaponry and whoever lives gets a HUGE! NEA grant.
Honestly! I should quit this glamorous life I am leading and go write for "unscripted" TV.
I've broken out of a funk I didn't know I was in. I'm working! I'm happy! I'm totally insecure! These things are almost always true together.
Although officially? I am on vacation and officially NOT WORKING and I have barely any child-free hours because it is summer and I am leaving town for ten days on Thursday (3 days of book promo, week of vacation) and I have not packed for me and I have not packed for my little children and I must have the reasoning skills of a stage four a crack-addict because APPARENTLY sometime a week or so ago I thought it would be a good idea to invite ten people over to my house for dinner on Wednesday night and my house is a wreck so of course, OF COURSE, yesterday was the PERFECT time to hole up in my office and spend four hours writing the opening of a brand new whole nother novel.
And so I did. I started the novel I am not actually officially really for truly supposed to even THINK about until November because --- as I was WAH WAH WAHing on the phone to my agent only day before yesterday --- there hasn't been a time in the last six years where I haven't been frantically WORKING ON A BOOK to some insane deadline I came up with. Which is true, but it ignores the fact that I have spent the last six years being mostly, well, you know. Happy. And fulfilled. All that junk. I'm lazy, and if I am allowed to sit down for too long, I forget that I thrive on frantic-ness. I forget the boundless joy I eat from a too full plate.
My editor called in the middle of my working and I was so OVER THE TOP hyper and thrilled with myself that I think I used A Very Bad Word. And not just any old A Very Bad Word. This was the queen mother. What one might call A Very Bad Word Indeed. And I SUSPECT I used it about four times. Loudly and with joyful abandon I used it. Casually, even. For no reason other than my children were out of earshot and I was hip deep in story and drunk with it. AND I AM NOT EVEN SORRY. SO THERE.
I love my job I love my job I love my job. It's a shame I have zero faith in it. Or me. Let me clarify: The writing I trust. But the JOB of it and the ME of it. Not so much.
Yesterday, working, I was in the zone and completely pleased. Today...business. My domain name is expiring. I got a RENEW THIS OR DIE e-mail this morning and sat staring at it, paralyzed, until finally I called Scott to have him walk me through re-registering it. Not because I need help with the forms. I know how to spell Joshilyn. I even know how to pronounce it. I needed help with the faith.
Me: *timid stupid mouse voice* Do you think I should go ahead and re-register for two years instead of one? That seems to me to imply that I think I'll still be doing this in two years. Like, having a website. Needing one. You know.
Him: Is two years the max?
Me: No, five is but...
Him: Do you get a price break with five years?
Me: Yes, a significant one, but...
Him: Honey, you have another book coming out in a year, and in paperback a year after that, and yesterday you were so crazed with frantic book love for this new book that you followed me all over the house reading sentences aloud and cackling, and ps NOT PACKING, blah blah reason reason common sense reason.
Me: But what if I never write another book and gods and Between go out of print three years from now? What if THAT? And then we've paid for this WHOLE ANOTHER TWO YEARS and instead I go out of print and NEVER WRITE ANOTHER BOOK AND HAVE TO GO TO A MENTAL HOSPITAL???
Him: You always write another book, and you never go to a mental hospital. You are writing another book and not going to a mental hospital even as we speak.
Me: Yes, but, what if I don't write another book after THIS book, then THEN I go to a mental hospital?
Him: Then that's still three and half years from now plus paperback release a year after that which brings us to four and a half years which means if you go out of print and directly to a mental hospital we've still gotten four-point-five years out of the website, and with the discount, after four years we have broken even ANYWAY.
Me: BUT WHAT IF I DIE? NEXT WEEK!!!! WHAT ABOUT THAT?
Him: Oh honey, death traditionally HELPS books sales. You'll be sure to be in print in five years if you die. Could you try to die in a somewhat spectacular manner?
Me: Like maybe I could get eaten by carniverous snakes?
Him: Now THAT is long-term thinking! Good girl! Go renew for five years.
So I did. DIGRESSION: Is it weird to have one's sanity seven miles away walking around on its own legs and separately processing its own oxygen? I think it is. Oh well. It works for me. PLUS my sanity is a good kisser. Which is pure bonus.
ANYWAY, SO, BACK TO THE POINTS:
1) I am working.
2) I have very little faith.
3) I am extremely happy.
4) Mom, I am sorry I used that Very Bad Word. <--Pst, that is not strictly true. I am a LITTLE sorry I admitted using it here where my mom will read about it, though.
5) I better pack.
But first, some business...
1) As Mr. Husband pointed out in the comments, in my ongoing battle to keep 9 MILLION comments about CIALIS SOFT TABS off my blog(and by the way, am I the only juvenile-humored delinquent who finds the idea of cialis soft tabs to be hysterical because, um, soft tabs? Doesn't that defeat the WHOLE purpose? ANYWAY...) I managed to BAN the words TEXAS and ONLINE. Oops. If you were having trouble commenting, it should be fixed now.
2) If you 1) have five dollars and 2) don't like it when little children die of cancer and 3) want a chance at winning something pretty dern cool, you should CLICKY CLICKY and go purchase a raffle ticket or two. The prize is a quilt made by NYT bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini, and each block has been autographed by an author. She may have some of your very faves on that quilt -- 61 signed it, including Rebecca Wells, Beverly Cleary (BEEZUS! RAMONA! To this DAY when I see a girlchild with a savage little bob I say, OH SHE HAS RAMONA HAIR. I LOVED those books...), Ray Bradbury, Nicholas Sparks, Jennifer Weiner...etc etc
Okay, so, my brother, as you may recall, makes his living as an artist. He sculpts the greens for gaming miniatures and toys. He's very talented, if I do say so myself, and was actually one of the first gaming sculptors to have his name put on his work because, well, he's just that good, and people want to collect him. This is him at a recent gaming convention, sculpting.
That thing on his head? He never sculpts without it. He calls it his Suffering Hat because he puts it on when he has to work, and he wears a magnifying visor over it because he does incredibly detailed, teeny-weeny tiny work...like this:
That picture is about 4 times the actual size of the piece, so you can see the visor is absolutely necessary. But is the Suffering Hat? I am not the only one to question the validity of the suffering hat...here's an excerpt from a recent interview:
Mag: You’re known for sculpting in a do-rag. Honestly: practical accessory or fashion statement?
Bobby: Highly critical practical accessory! I have an odd shaped head. One click on my optivisor headband is too tight the next one is too loose. The silly do-rag allows me to use my visor without it slipping down onto my nose or giving me a compression headache. Plus I look really cool.
So anyway, to get to the True Story About my Brother, there are some pieces he does he can't have his name on due to contractual whatnots and confidentiality agreements. For example, he sometimes sculpts-well known characters and they use his art to make toys, but I can't show you those and say he did them or even tell you what medium the characters are from. Or I would have to kill you. Or worse, he would lose the gig. And he did some other figures that he could not put out under his own name due to his contracts with other people and BLAH BLAH. BUT. The company wanted to list a sculptor in the catalog, so they called him and asked for a pseudonym. And my brother, who was at home in his suffering hat, half-working and half-watching Discovery Channel, said, "Put them in under the name Johnson Twine." So they did as he asked.
Well, the catalog came out, and a friend of his who collects saw the figures, knew they were Bobby's, and called him and said, "Hey I saw some of your work under the name Johnson Twine...what gives?" And Bobby goes through the whole rights thing and blah blah, and the guy says, "Oh, okay...well how did you come up with that...kinda weird name?"
And my brother says, "Well, when they called, I was watching this documentary about these people who live deep in the wilds of Australia and modern life hasn't touched them, not even with a pinky finger, and they all are naked. I mean, bucky-tailed naked, men and women, no one wears a stitch. Except all the men who have come of age have this little piece of decorative twine tied around their johnsons. That's what I was noticing just as the guy asked for a name...So."
I am back on the road (I took my kids with me. I love summer.), so here is brief update.
1) Maisy is fine. MAISY IS FINE. Everyone has looked at Maisy and thumped Maisy and said STRIDER and nodded wisely and they all agree that she is FINE. SO. I am going to accept that SHE IS FINE. For now. Someday she may even sleep her own room again, allowed to breathe unsupervised. I know my husband would probably like that.HEH!
2) I am fine. I have this weird thing where good things in my life scare me, because I feel I am racking up some monstrously huge karmic debt that can only be paid by losing 3 or 4 of my limbs or being burned up in a fire, and that's just silly. Life doesn't BALANCE like that. No one gets equal and exact scoops of ice cream and dog poo on their plate. LIFE. IS. NOT. FAIR. This is one of those times that I should be HAPPY that life isn't fair, because if it WAS, I would be OWED SO MUCH DOG POO! I would have a dog poo deficit to rival the federal deficit. AND so I have made a new good pure truthful resolution in the deepest pink part of my sincere heart to BE HAPPY WITH MY ICE CREAM and SHUT UP. It is actually going well so far! No fretting at ALL! '
But, you know, it's seven AM, and I instituted this policy 6 AM. So.
3) If you are doing book promotion, and Stephenie at the Huntsville Library invites you to come speak...hear me on this...GO. She did SUCH great event promo that the auditorium was PACKED (very unusual for a first time novelist) and she had 5 cases of books there and sold all but 6 copies. AND??? Gave me Godiva truffles. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Stephenie. Also it was a GREAT engaged fun crowd who asked GREAT questions -- many I had never heard before, and they asked ZERO of the three questions you always hear that have no answer. I had a good time.
4) If you are a person who has put my book on the side of your blog in the WHAT I AM READING or your FAVORITE BOOKS THIS YEAR or your RECOMMENDED READING slot, then you are SO excruciatingly pretty and I wish you would send me the link via e-mail. I DO know of a couple of blogs who have done this that I have found GOOGLING or who DID send me mail, but I have gotten letters from readers who found gods in Alabama on the sides of blogs I have never HEARD OF and I am SO CHARMED BY YOU, YOU SECRETIVE UNKNOWN DARLINGS. Word of mouth (and its internetterly equivalent, which would be...what? Word of blog?) is EVERYTHING with a first book, especially now that the book is a few months old. Thank you anonymous unknown lovely bloggers. You are almost flawless, but you did not SEND ME A LINK so I can THANK YOU and tell you that you are having a GOOD GOOD hair day and that NO, those pants EMPHATICALLY do NOT make you look fat.
I have decided to have panic attacks. I've been talking to a friend of mine who gets them, and it seems like a good idea. This is how I hear these things work: You are sitting there FRETTING (I have this part DOWN already!) and all of a sudden, your bra feels like something made out of whalebone and thorns and the ghostly hand of Scarlet O'Hara grabs the laces and YANKS while shrieking "19 INCH WAIST" and it compresses all your air out, and pain radiates from your squeezebox of a chest up into your jaw and down both arms, and you think you are having a heart attack, and you go to the emergency room with your life flashing before your eyes.
The people at the hospital say, NO NO YOU ARE NOT HAVING A HEART ATTACK. YOU ARE JUST CRAZY!
And you say, OH! GOOD! MAY I PLEASE HAVE SOME ATIVAN?
And they say, YES! YES YOU CAN! YOU BIG HEAD CASE!
Works for me.
Actually, I think I had a small one the other night. Maisy decided to wake up and do that NOT BREATHING thing again. Remember that?
Yeah. Well. She has another little summer cold and her response was to wake up weeping, over and over, and then make that MY AIRWAY IS CONSTRICTING AND I AM NOT LONG FOR THE EARTH noise. This time it was much less severe and she didn't ever roll her eyes up and turn blue, so instead of having a fun ambulance ride, Scott and I sat up with her all night. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I had a minor chest-squeezing-closed episode, and I thought, "If only my child was breathing properly I could really GO with this and get me my OWN ambulance ride and maybe be defibrillated, but I just do not have TIME to indulge in a heart attack right now because my kid is sick."
I ignored the heart attack symptoms until they got bored and left, at which point I thought, OH! So it probably wasn't a heart attack then, since I have noticeably NOT keeled over dead...it must be.... OH! Maybe that was a PANIC ATTACK! NEAT! I am TRULY MENTALLY ILL! JUST AS I ALWAYS SUSPECTED! I should have gone to the hospital after all because I bet they would have given me some MONSTROUSLY DELIGHTFUL AND HIGHLY ADDICTIVE PHARMACEUTICALS!
And then Scott and I sat on the coach holding the baby in the way that helps the baby breathe, because that's we like: Babies who inhale and exhale and process all their little air molecules in an orderly fashion. The next day I was on the phone at 9 AM arranging a play date for her and her pediatrician ASAP. I got there 10 minutes early as requested, and then I waited an hour and 15 minutes to have 4 minutes with the doctor, and we had the following conversation:
Me: Maisy had trouble breathing again last night.
Him: *Examine examine, thunk, heart listen, ear look* Ah. Okay. Well. I would say that Maisy experienced Strider.
Me: Oh. What is Strider?
Him: It means she had trouble breathing.
Me: THANKS! Got any Ativan samples?
Him: Don't forget to hand in your twenty dollar co-pay on the way out.
So basically, it's that same, THIS IS A HEALTHY LITTLE GIRL WITH NO SIGNS OF ASTHMA OR BRONCHITIS OR CARNIVOROUS LEPROTIC BRAIN WORMS. THAT'S WEIRD THAT SHE DOESN'T BREATHE SOMETIMES routine. And of course we have been loaded up with many nutritious drugs (for HER, not ME, dernit) and an inhaler and a plan to pump her full of albuterol and then STEAM the baby like a clam should she stop breathing again any time soon. Which she better freaking not.
I have decided to GO with the whole panic attack thing, but I am SO busy that I really need to schedule my next one pretty rigidly so that I have TIME for an emergency room visit and heart attack tests and the four hour wait for results and the overnight stay JUST TO BE SURE and then the grand finale--- the ritual bestowing of the Ativan scrip at dawn. Sadly, the soonest I can reasonably around to this sort of time commitment is late October of this year, so if you want to mail me any Ativan in the interim period, my mailing address (according to Mir's PEOPLE ARE STUPID Automated Mailing Address Generator) is:
Mental Illness Number 2485729855
Near the newt pond
Atlanta, GA 12345
Okay...this is just cool and I am excited. We have an EXTREMELY nifty guest today, so YOU PEOPLE! Put on your nice clothes and slick your hair back. Tell that guy in the back to get his finger OUT OF HIS NOSE, and I will do my part by not pouring my drink down my front. Hopefully.
Meet MJ Rose -- the mind behind Buzz, Balls and Hype; a must read blog for those in the industry. She's also a successful novelist, and I don't know anyone smarter or savvier when it comes to getting the word out about your own books. I have THE HALO EFFECT, the first book in the Butterfield Institute series featuring sex therapist, Dr. Morgan Snow, in a stack of books I am taking to the beach next week. It's on top, in fact. It's a thriller about a therapist who goes undercover as a prostitute when one of her clients, a high priced call girl, goes missing. Publisher's Weekly LIKED it. In a KISSING way. I am very much looking forward to it.
ALSO, long about question 2, you will see a link to a VIDLIT, and I want you to go WATCH IT... unless you have dial up. It is SUCH a a neat concept and the execution is SPOT ON in this one and I am wondering from a READER perspective how effective it is....I kinda WANT one.
OH! OH! SHE IS COMING! SIT UP STRAIGHT! *spills drink down front* Dernit.
JJ: I just read your Backstory for Halo Effect. I would be interested to know if your "Dr. M" has read Halo Effect or knows of it and realizes its genesis and what she thinks of it?
MJR: Of course I sent her a book and she was thrilled with it. It's interesting because one of the criticism of the book is that no therapist would compare what she does to what a high class girl does. And that no therapist has as many personal conflicts as Morgan Snow (my heroine) has. It makes me laugh because the book was vetted by four therapists who all not only signed off but said it was a totally realistic representation of a therapist.
JJ: The VIDLIT for HALO EFFECT is Awesome----and I think the female voice is yours? This question is a two-parter---is it odd hearing yourself speaking as your character in what is a very visual medium? It;s as if you are playing her in a short film....and how do you intend to use the Vidlit to help Halo Effect find readers?
MJR: It is me:) And when I see the vidlit I don't hear her as me. I guess because I wrote the book she was talking in my head for so long it makes sense that she's talking on the vid lit.
What I'm doing to promote the vid lit is all here, but basically asking blogs to link to it and for every blog that does $5 will be contributed to Reading is Fundamental - a terrific charity that gets books to kids and encourages them to start reading early - when it matters.
It's the beginning of something I'm going to keep going called Good Books/Good Cause.
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog, and you have a reputation for being a great big smarty-pants about author-involved book promo. In fact you teach a class about it. Can you tell us one simple thing most authors ought to be doing to help get the word out about their books?
MJR: I do teach a class - Buzz your Book
One thing - the first thing - is to have a marketing meeting with your publisher and find out what they are doing for you - six month prior to when the book comes out.
I recommend you say something like this:
I am thrilled you are publishing my book. And I totally understand that you are going to do everything you can for it. But I know that my book is just one book of hundreds you are publishing. So I would love to know what you aren't doing so that I can come up with a plan of what I can do to supplement your efforts and work with you.
Polite, interested, non judgmental, understanding. It works.
This will give you a good sense of what you are going to need to do. I also would recommend reading Jaqueline Deval's Publicize Your Book. We have to be marketing partners with our publishers and do on our end whatever we can. And there's a lot we can do that our publishers can't. It does make a difference to get involved even though none of us got into this to do marketing. (Esp me. I actually left advertising to write fiction.)
I am quitting writing to become a very famous artist. SEE IF I DO NOT.
HERE IS THE THING: I had a beautiful friend named Amy and she cruelly moved to Kansas and there is a big Amy-shaped hole in my life and no matter what I try to stick in that hole it remains Amy-shaped and gaping. Very irritating.
One of the best things about Amy is that her her middle name is GO. Amy Go Wilson. She goes a lot. She always is going, and if you call her and say,
Amy do you want to go---, she interrupts you and says, YES I DO, LET ME GET THE CAR.
This is very valuable because it makes me and my other good friend, Julie, leave our nests and GO too. And Julie and I, left to our own devices, like to flirt with becoming agoraphobic. Also, Amy is nutritionally NORMAL and when she is around she balances out the sudden weird urges Julie and I get to live on organic wheat grass juice made from our very own wheat grass that we could easily grow if we killed absolutely everyone who was currently irritating us, dumped the bodies in Julie's leaking pool and filled the whole thing in with top soil. Because, see, wheat grass juice is a blood purifier, and irritating people are good fertilizer. It seems like SUCH A GOOD IDEA if we do not have Amy there to say, UM BUT I BET IT TASTES LIKE CRAP, YOU MORONS, AND ALSO? WITH THE DEAD PEOPLE FERTILIZER? IT'S A LITTLE TOO SOYLENT GREEN FOR COMFORT. SO LET'S GO GET SOME ROTISSERIE CHICKEN INSTEAD. OKAY? OKAY!
So another way to put it might be, Amy is the SANE one. Very, very valuable.
Also, Amy is the CRAFTY one. She makes us do PROJECTS. The last year Amy lived in town was the last year I had a slew of glue-clotted homemade presents to inflict upon my friends and relations at Christmas. Even the EDIBLE ones were glue clotted, because I am not crafty, but HEY, they were made with love and all my friends and relations who were my very own mother deeply appreciated them.
I am ARTSY-FARTSY (which is different from crafty----it's like crafty with no skillz) and Julie is goal oriented, so between the three of us, when there ARE the three of us, we are a perfect CRAFT PROJECT team. Amy comes up with ideas and instigates projects, I make sure the projects are half-assed and glue-clotted, and Julie makes sure we complete them.
Last week, Amy was IN TOWN! And we painted a garden on Julie's daughters wall. Which we NEVER would have done left to our own devices...LOOK here it is!
I made all the bugs and did the creeping vine with the orange-y flowers on the right. I made all the bugs be very fat and cheerful and SMUG----Here is a close-up of my favorite:
Okay, yes, I realize there are some problems with SCALE. That bumblebee, for example, has clearly been soaking in radioactive juice and is going to go invade France just as soon as it pollinates the AMAZINGLY LARGE birdhouse-dwarfing sunflower. BUT UM SHUT UP. Because CLEARLY I am destined to become the glue-clotting member of a very important three-woman art-team and ANYWAY it was the most fun we have had in ages and Julie's daughter LOVES it and and and....Oh Amy. MOVE BACK.
OKAY-- I have houseguests and I have to go paint a garden on the wall of my friend's little girl's room, and so, here, have some some delicious linky love:
Want to know what BOOK you are? TAKE THE QUIZ.
I am THE POISONWOOD BIBLE. Which, yay. I am Barabara Kingsolver's BEST novel, and that is SAYING something.
Also, I had an interesting interview with Gothic Review. They asked....some kinda out there things and then we did the INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO questions. (Digression: They didn't ask the one about "If heaven exists, what do you want to hear when you reach the pearly gates?" But my answer is, "Well...it was a good try.")
EXCERPT FROM THE INTERVIEW:
THEM: If you could reincarnate into any animal, what would you like to reincarnate into and why?
ME: A Mayfly. They die fast and I wouldn't want to be an animal for very long. Animals can't read or even speak...oh sure, they communicate, but animals are not big on STORY. And with a Mayfly, I could experience flying and I wouldn't be an animal long enough to get truly bored. Also it would be challenging to experience a whole life in 24 hours. I bet every Mayfly has a great, tragic love story. When you are a Mayfly, you meet your Juliette about noon and you burn with passion and delight all afternoon and then BOOM you are both dead before you ever have to fill out a joint tax return.
The whole thing is HERE.
M&M made DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE dark chocolate M&Ms for a little while. Which is just cruel because to me they were a poem, they were a song, they were a swan in flight, but in my mouth. And they were "Limited Edition Movie Promo" which means, you know, they are gone now. Gone like Alderaan. Gone like Anakin's goodness. Gone like my childhood ability to watch episode 6 and not want to commit violence against Ewoks. GONE!
The first time I went into my local drugstore and saw they had sold out, I crumpled my eyebrows and thrust them heavenward JUST like Natalie Portman and cried out, "M and M! You are breaking my heart!" GONE, DO YOU HEAR ME, GONE.
Then the other day, I realized I had ALMOST no gas, so I stopped at a gas station far far away----one I do not normally frequent. LO, when I went in to pay and snag a diet cherry coke-----THEY HAD THREE LITTLE BAGS OF DARK CHOCOLATE M&M's SITTING BY THE REGISTER! I snatched them up, cackling, and took them to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. ONE I gave to my friend Pam (that's just the kind of girl I am *glows with holy light*). One I ate in a rictus of ecstasy. And ONE was purportedly for my friend Pam's husband, Thomas. But Thomas FOREVER endeared himself to me by NOT LIKING DARK CHOCOLATE, so they remained in my loving if carnivorous custody.
The next day, I waited until my children were asleep (because they are M&M HOOVERS) and then I lay on the sofa and ate dark M&Ms and read a book that is SO amazingly good the words TOUR DE FORCE come to mind. (And by Tour de Force I mean the helps-destroy-the-Deathstar-and-battery-that-Yoda-Powers-Is kind of force, not the Darth-Respirator-No-More-Dark-M&Ms-Destroys-Planets force) If you want to read it, and you do, it's called URSULA, UNDER It was excruciatingly pleasurable, slowly melting perfect chocolate in my mouth while reading perfectly crafted sentences. Just the memory...*choke*...I may need to be alone for a minute.
ANYWAY. It was my true and good intention to save a couple of M&Ms for Scott to eat as he NEVER ONCE GOT TO TASTE THEM. But we all know what the road to hell is paved with, right? In short, I ate them all. Oops. It was an accident. I reached into the bag and POOF, there were no more there.
SO the next day I am feeling still bad about this and Maisy runs up to me holding an M&M and she says, "MOMMY! LOOK! A CANDY! I FINDED A CANDY ON THE FLOOR!" I couldn't believe it! One had escaped me!
Now normally, I subscribe to the 8 second rule. If it is on the floor for less than 8 seconds, then you can eat it. This M&M had been on the floor for more than 8 HOURS. I virtuously said to Maisy, "We don't eat things we find on the floor, princess." She handed it over. I WAS carrying it to the trash, I SWEAR I WAS, but then I thought about how they don't MAKE them anymore, and about how this might be Scott's VERY LAST CHANCE to try the darkside M&M. SO. I set it on top of the sugar canister on the kitchen counter and decided to decide later.
The M&M sat there ALL DAY, and then Scott came home from work and we were in the kitchen and he saw it.
Him: Why is there an M&M on the sugar canister?
Me: OH! I forgot about that -- you need to eat it.
Him: Why do I need to eat it.
Me: Don't question! Just eat it, you really NEED TO. *Picks up the M&M and tries to insert it into his mouth*
Him: *Lip-clamping and head-twisting like a cat being pilled*
Me: NO, NO! Really, you HAVE to try it.
Him: *suspiciously* Why?
Me: JUST TRY IT!
Him: I am not eating that until I know where it came from and why I have to eat that M&M particularly.
Me: OH GOOD GRIEF, just eat it. Look, here, I will eat HALF. *Bites off half the candy and then puts the rest in his mouth* Now PAY ATTENTION. It's just half an M&M so really, you know, SUCK IT earnestly and try to really TASTE it---you need to EXPERIENCE THE FLAVOR.
So we stand in the kitchen earnestly sucking and flavor experiencing...and....
Him: It's...it tastes just like...an M&M.
AND IT DID! HE WAS RIGHT!
IT WAS NOT ONE OF THE DARK ONES I HAD EATEN ONLY A DAY AGO, PLUCKED FROM THE FRESHLY VACUUMED CARPET! IT WAS SOME REGULAR M&M FROM GOD ONLY KNOWS WHEN THAT MAISY HAD EXCAVATED ON AN ARCHEOLOGICAL UNDER-THE-SOFA DIG, LYING NO DOUBT UNDER A DRIFT OF FILTH AND BUG HAIR AND THE BONES OF LONG DEAD MICE. GAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! GAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! THIS IS WHY GOD MADE THE 8 SECOND RULE!!!! *shudders*
So, basically, Scott and I are waiting to develop bubonic anthrax and die.
*Salute* I'll miss you.
Tomorrow I shall tell you the story of THE BLACK M&M (cue ominous music). It is a horror story. You will be shocked and amazed and a little bit grossed out. Perhaps you will feel sorry for me and be moved by all I have endured. Perhaps you will send me some delicious medication! But TODAY, in preparation for tomorrow's fright fest, we have an appropriately spooky guest...
Janet and Michael Savoy had never seen anything like the viewing for nineteen-year-old Thalia Stevenson. That's because they had never witnessed a Gypsy funeral before, complete with rituals, incantations, and a very special gold coin placed beneath the dead girl's hands...
When that coin is stolen, a horror is unleashed. If the Savoys don't find the coin and return it to Thalia's grave before the rising of the second sun, someone in their family--perhaps their little daughter--will die a merciless death. The ticking away of each hour brings the Savoy family closer to a gruesome, inescapable nightmare. Only one thing is certain--Gypsies always have their revenge . . . even the dead ones.
"Iconic writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub who have sold millions penning psychological thrillers designed to scare the living daylights out of readers had better beware—they’ve all just met their match and her name is Deborah LeBlanc. An irresistible blend of horror, mystery and dark fantasy, Grave Intent is like a wild roller coaster ride through the seven levels of Hell that doesn’t stop until readers are all suitably slack jawed in shock and delirious with all-consuming fear. In a word: Awesome!"
--Paul Goat Allen- Ransom Notes- B&N.Com
AND NOW! Three questions...
JJ: I find your books appealing in part because of the setting---I'm a southern girl myself. But your slice of the south is more mysterious and swampy than mine...How important is location to you as a writer, or, a better way to say that might be, could these books be set anywhere else?
DL: I don't believe Family Inheritance could have been written in another location because so much of it deals with Cajun folklore and culture. The same can probably be said about Grave Intent, I suppose. Though it's not as atmospheric and based around Cajun culture as Family Inheritance, the story is dependant on 'southern' topography--above ground tombs, heat and humidity, the way a funeral home operates in a southern state. Location is important to me as a writer due to comfort level. I know the south, understand it's people, history, and traditions. Although I can certainly establish a story in Chicago or Baltimore, it would still probably revolve around a southern character who may be visiting these locations. (As I often do.) What's important to me as a writer is that the story ring true to the reader. I know what it's like to be southerner visiting Chicago. And although I may be allowed some creative license as an author, I wouldn't do justice to the people born and raised in Chicago by trying to create a character who was.
JJ: Who did you dedicate your books to and why?
DL: My books are dedicated to the people who've made the biggest impact on my life. My family.
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog---I find it interesting that you have worked in so many "male dominated industries" and now you are writing horror which is a somewhat male dominated genre. And I know some of your work has crept into your writing because Grave Intent is set in a funeral home and you used to work in a funeral home---can you talk a little bit about how your work and your writing are connected?
DL: I never set out to specifically write horror. The industry gave me that genre title. My books
have been called psychological suspense, thrillers, dark fantasy, mystery/suspense, just about everything but romance and western. I'm an avid reader, so I believe I write what I love to read, anything that will keep me turning the pages and on the edge of my seat.
Working in male dominated industries gave me, and still does, a different persepective on life. And that is--if you can play and win in these industries, you can play and win anywhere. My hobbies are 'different' as well, which gives me an unlimited well from which to draw stories. I'm an avid ghost hunter, a licensed death scene investigator, still work in morgues and funeral homes as a management consultant, and ride a Harley Davidson named Alberta whenever I little spare extra time. :)
Snatch up your little children and thrust them at your husband and holler, "PLEASE GET THESE THINGS OUT OF MY HOUSE. THEY TALK A LOT! I NEED TO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORK."
It's more compelling if you can foam a little bit. Also gibbering adds that little touch of violent hysteria that makes him run for the suitcases.
ONCE the van full people with MOUTHS THAT TALK (Scott is not included in this number. Scott was indeed in the van, but no one has ever accused his mouth of talking. In fact, sometimes getting his mouth to talk requires both wheedling and an act of Congress, and have I ever mentioned that I LOVE THAT MAN????) has backed out of the driveway and you are left with only your own mouth (blessedly silent at the moment) and the one on the cat (which is currently being used in an extensive grooming project and is therefore ALSO blessedly silent and as a bonus it contains a feline-ly shaped soft palate that guarantees it will never physically be able to form the words, "But there is only one Bounce Banana yogurt drink left and LAST TIME she got it and why can't she have the vanilla one, she likes the vanilla a lot, LOOK MAISY! LOOK! WANT THE VANILLA? YUM! YOU LIKE IT!" or even "WAAAAAAAAIL I WANT THE BOUNCE BANA YO-GUT!") you can WORK. Workworkwork. Thrust your massive to do list AWAY and think about what you WANT to work on, and it is writing. So.
Spend two days on lines edits and on re-revising the third and fourth and fifth chapters of your new book, and be very very busy and important and unstoppable. Pretend you are not home and don't even answer the phone unless caller ID says it is your husband calling with the mandatory "LO, I have kept your children alive for another 6 hours, you are welcome!" update. Throw some salad and a piece of a chicken in your maw at one point, and call it MEAL, because you aren't sure what time of day it is. Sleep at some point. Get up. Workworkwork.
Wordkworkworkworkworkworkwork. Become lonely and put a tv on in another room, so you can HEAR yacketty talk noises but not make out the words, and work, and work, until at one point, your brain will implode in your head, leaving you a grinning puppet of your former self, and you will say to yourself, SELF! You will say. YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE. Because you now realize you have not left the house in DAYS. You haven't even stepped out onto the PORCH to blink up at the sun. In fact, you now suspect your eyes are growing over into those creepy KNOBS you always see sticking out of the faces of blind cave fish.
Go to Johnny's pizza with friends. Order the four cheese, but since one of the friends has a Y chromosome, you'll need to ask them to toss a bunch of meat on one side of the pizza. Before the pizza comes, ask for a beer and drink most of it. This is important, because your stomach is very very empty, and you need to get a nice BEER pad down before you put all that alcohol absorbing crust in there. Once you have laid down the beer pad, you may eat exactly ONE slice of pizza, which is enough to make you comfortably full, but not so much that it will interfere with the beer pad. Especially if you eat the slice WITH another beer.
If you have followed all these steps, you will be exactly perfectly ready to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which is quiote possibly the STUPIDEST movie ever made....ever. It has plot holes SO BIG that WHOLE TRIBES of dinosaurs could march through the holes while STANDING ON EACH OTHER'S SHOULDERS, no, while making GIANT CHEERLEADER-STYLE DINOSAUR PYRAMIDS and the littlest dinosaur on top wouldn't even need to DUCK.
But if you have followed my instructions, that won't matter.
Because it is funny. Because the humor is SMART even if the plot is not. Because it is spicy-saucy-hot without being PORNY. Because it has the ONLY love scene in the universe to EVER equal the extreme perfect hotness of Buffy-and-Spike-Tear-Up-The-Condemned-House. In fact it is a LOT like that, but with more explosives. Because it is beautifully filmed. And because the stars are so physically attractive that it is almost RESTFUL to put your eyes on them --- there isn't anything wrong with either of them, ever. No matter how you fold them, they go into pleasing shapes. (Angelina Jolie, by the way, is SO beautiful that I think she suspends the laws of physics and forces light to bend differently around her so that on top of the perfect body and the glossy hair and the cheekbones and the mouth and the huge eyes, she also seems to be incandescent. She's so beautiful that I can't even hate her, not even a LITTLE bit, because she's too far out of the average woman's league to be even remotely threatening.) The film is just plain mindless fun.
Two thumbs up, with two beers first.
Joshilyn can't come to the phone right now. She is having some extreme mental illness. She is SO mentally ill that she is referring to herself in the third person, an affectation that drives her UNIVERSALLY BATCRAP when anyone ELSE does it, so she is going to stop now.
DIGRESSION: I have some grammar ticks. I am NOT a stickler. In fact, there is a copy editor in NYC who sacrifices a blameless white dove to the heavens every time she hears I am writing another book, because it gives her such a peaceful sense of complete job security. I like, for example, to put commas where I hear a PAUSE, which is not necessarily the same thing as putting commas where they actually BELONG. And while I don't randomly put in ALL CAPS screams in my fiction, I DO like to Make Things That Seem Thematically Important Into Proper Nouns. SO. I admit I am the POT, but there are some kettles that get on my LAST nerve.
LIKE: I can't stand for actual people who are not the Queen of England to use the royal WE. And as irritated as I get with PEOPLE who use the royal we and/or refer to themselves in the third person, it is a mild, gentle wave of yick-feelings compared to how VIOLENTLY I hate animated characters who do it. Anything animated that refers to itself in the third person should be put on a planet along with all of its tie-in marketing materials, yea down to the very last Burger King cup, and then we should go into orbit and nuke the whole planet from space. It's the only way to be sure.
The only thing worse than third person referring animated WE sayers is animated characters who say ME when they mean "I." There was an INTERMINABLE series of cartoon dinosaur movies for kids, and one of the little ENRAGINGLY PERKY little fat, gamboling lizardy things was always saying, "Me hungry!' and "Oh no, Me is scared." I was regularly babysitting some kids who ADORED those movies so I got to see them MORE THAN ONCE... I would sit there grinding my teeth and thinking, "Me needs to be thrown into a tar pit," and "Me needs to be vivisected by time traveling paleontologists," every time the little wretch SPOKE or looked like he might be thinking of speaking or listened when another little fat, gamboling lizard thing spoke or I looked at the box.
Why is this dinosaur suddenly bothering me?
Say it with me: Mentally. Ill.
Worst part is? I DO NOT KNOW WHY YET. I can't peg it. I am just having Nameless Dread and wandering around my house hand wringing and not doing the dishes and then looking at the dishes and realizing they aren't done and wandering the house some more. AND MAY I JUST SAY----I am completely uninterested in being mentally ill right now. I do not have TIME to be mentally ill. I am BORED of it already and I only just started YESTERDAY. Now what? Do I have to go be all INTROSPECTIVE and droop around THINKING and gazing deepdeepdeep into the depths of my navel until I realize what ectoplasmic existential gut-knob is incorrectly twisted in my meaty inner workings and process it and deal and have feelings? Because 1) I don't have time, and 2) OH LORD, but it sounds dreary. I'd druther go see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, quite frankly.
High mental illness numbers are time consuming. I HAVE A HUGE TO DO LIST. I have HOUSE GUESTS COMING and NO CLEAN FORKS. I have LINE EDITS. I have little CHILDREN who need to be dropped off at Spanish Camp and picked up at Singing, and I FREAKING HAVE HUNGRY NEWTS IN A DIRTY TANK, OKAY? But I am wandering the house and hand wringing, paralyzed by mental illness, so I am going to HAVE to figure out what is bothering me so I can quit sitting here obsessing about an animated dinosaur I have NOT SEEN FOR OVER TEN YEARS.
Okay -- I'm off. I need to go get my mental illness number down under 57 by 11 AM so I can take up my megaladon of a to-do list and begin to SMITE down thing after thing on it with righteousness and check marks.