September 29, 2005

In Which I Perish, but YOU Get Relatively Rich

Hi. I died of a stomach flu yesterday. I WOULD miss you all deep in my heart, but unfortuntely, I threw my heart up at about 3 PM. Along with my liver and several kidneys and all my bones. I am pretty much a deflated, heartless skin sack today.

School is indeed back in session! I declare this to be the first enterovirus of what promises to be an alternately mucus-laden and vomit-y school year. Good grief, but preschoolers are filthy and germy, and they eat chewed gum out of each other's mouths. I HAVE SEEN THEM DO IT. They cross germinate each other and come home SWARMING with multiple diseases, and then they call you MOMMY and have big eyes and smell good and you let them up into your lap like a moron where they entertain themselves by plunging their filthy fingers directly into your nose holes and giggling, "You have Nozrilts! You have Nozrilts!" Even the LAZIEST plagues can hope to get a good spread ratio if they recruit a pre-schooler.

I am going back to my bed of post-pain lolling as I have a signing at a local B and N tonight and need to get myself together (Don't worry, I have been Vomit Free for 20 hours now! Also, I plan to take a refreshing swim in some bleach and then spray eu de Lysol all over me in lieu of perfume before I go. So if you live here in town, COME. It s me and two other local authors--- I do not know WHO or WHOM though. (I am too weak to have good grammar. So shut yer pie holes.) I wonder who or whom they will be?!?!

It is the Barnes and Noble in Marietta at The Ave at West Cobb
(3625 Dallas Hwy SW). I will have LITTLE CHOCOLATES on my table. And FREE gods in Alabama refrigerator magnets! And I SWEAR I won't swap any bodily fluids with you!

Anyway, I am here, practically DEAD, but HERE, because wanted to POP UP THIS LINK for the writers out there. It is a short fic contest with an IMMEDIATE deadline, but a $3,000 prize, so if you HAVE a good story from 400 - 2500 words, go for it. Warning, a VERY l337 DeVVd coded the site. You need to be a 15 year old gameboy junkie with the reflexes of a bat to get the text to SCROLL to the short story info. GOOD LUCK!

REALLY if you have a piece ready, you should enter. 3k is a lot of MOO! That's like 50K in WRITER DOLLARS, which is sort of like DOG YEARS. Because, well, I have short stories I have worked on, on and off, for three years. So, 3k is not that much in the light of three years, but to get writer dollars, you have to figure out how much beer you could have bought with the sum over time, taking into account dollar draft nights, and then multiplying the total by the year the philistines made absinthe illegal.

ALSO, I wanted to pop up this link to Karin Gillespie's blog. She has a great interview up with Melanie Hauser. You remember, our first B4B judge? Wrote Confessions of Super Mom? This one:

supermom.gif

Anyway, I enjoyed the interview and thought you might, too. That is all. *expires*

Posted by joshilyn at 1:56 PM | Comments (11)

September 27, 2005

Think-Look-Consider Dance Remix

Think about this: I like quizzes, but this, courtesy of Lani Diane Rich over at Literary Chicks, is SICK.

Your 80s Heartthrob Is
Bill Gates
Who's Your 80's Heartthrob?

Scariest of all? Out of ALL THE POSSIBLE HEART THROBS, he is the one I think is cutest. So. Either the 80's needed Taye Diggs and Orlando Bloom to hop in a time machine or take massive doses of human growth hormone, OR...I have strange taste in men? Scott votes for A.

Look at this:

Between Small.jpg

YAY! THE BETWEEN COVER HAPPENED! And they got Anne Twomey to design it. She did the cover for gods, and once again, she's used an image that never literally happens in the book, but it perfectly captures the book's mood and themes and, uh I hate to get gooey and say HEART. Instead let's say it captures the book's...um... um...DERNIT! HEART is the only word for it. So, fine. Heart. IT CAPTURES THE BOOK'S HEART, are you SATISFIED? No, I don't want to cuddle now. Even though I look at this cover and I get a big HAPPINESS BUBBLE growing in my body.

Consider this: Things are VERY idyllic --- practically pastoral --- in Newt-opia. We now have two fully mature Newts living on land, gill free, and either Fig is really Figinella or Spotty is really Spottina. Because under the Arc de Triumph (Scott made it out of yard rocks) are SIX, count them SIX gelatinous, transparent egg sacks, each with thirty or forty shiny egg specks suspended in the goo.

HEH.

WHAT SHOULD I DO? Hint: The answer is NOT " get 30 more aquariums and hand raise 187 newts" Here are the choices, as I see them.

a) Scoop them all out with a Dixie Cup and put them quietly down the toilet, thus deferring the "Where do baby newts come from" conversation with Maisy.
b) Scoop them all out with a Dixie Cup and release them theatrically back into the Newt Pond in the yard while explaining ecosystems in such a loud voice that my toddler can't ask me sex questions.
c) Scoop all but ONE out with Dixie Cup, put scooped sacks in the pond, give Maisy the POLLEN talk, and let my children experience the miracle of life, hoping to capture and release all 30 or 40 of the fetal newtlets later.
d) Pretend I didn't see the egg sacks, and hope that newts are cannibals. I could save a good 30 cents in Newt food if they are! Although Jill reminded me of the legend of the WENDIGO. Supposedly, if you are a pure cannibal for long enough, you turn into a constantly starving super-naturally gifted hunter, and you get a lot of bonus gifts, like excessive body hair and fangs and eternal life. She says, "And do you really want your Newts running around in the dark woods of Minnesota, killing people?"

Well, no, I don't. But wouldn't a newt Wendigo relentlessly hunt other NEWTS? I don't see why they would switch to people. Also, and I cannot overstate this, they are THREE INCHES LONG. Even if they became mighty Wendigo with the hair and fangs and eternal life and speedy quickness, how would they even GET to Minnesota. And once there, I think they would go for prey that didn't have TOES bigger than them. About the only way they could successfully off people would be simultaneously running up your nostrils and plogging up your breathing pipes. Heh. Now I've creeped myself out. And I am about to have 187 of these dern things if I don't get DECISIVE with the egg sacks...

Posted by joshilyn at 10:40 AM | Comments (22)

September 26, 2005

Things to Think About, Look At, and Consider

Think about this: A week from TODAY, we begin the October edition of Blogging for Books. If you are a Johnny-or-Janey come lately, it's a writing contest invented by The Zero Boss, and a click here will getcha to the original rules.

October's special guest blogger will be Kira of KiWords. She will narrow the entries down to seven.

October's special guest author will be Jennifer O'Connell.

The winner gets an autographed copy of Jennifer's new book, Off the Record. It's the story of Jane Marlow, a true-blue good girl: plain, predictable, and perfectly responsible. But when her brother catches an episode of Music One's "Off the Record," he discovers that former pop sensation Teddy Rock is actually their childhood neighbor Theodore Brockford, and that his one-hit wonder twelve years earlier wasn't just a catchy tune that took the charts by storm-it was a song about Jane. What would happen if the world discovered you inspired a legendary rock song? Jane Marlow is about to find out...

Kirkus says, “It's decadent fun... O'Connell makes this sweet treat go down smoothly thanks to snappy dialogue and evocative scenes of Chicago in the summer.” And Kirkus would know. BIG HINTY NOTE FOR ASPIRING SMARTY-PANTSES LOOKING FOR A LEG UP IN THE CONTEST: The essay topic is often thematically linked to the prize book.

Here ends the thinking, so now, Look at this:

hat-fox-red6.jpg

I'm getting one for Christmas.

My brother is sculpting a fox right now, and he was googling around for images of foxes, and...this came up. We cannot come up for any possible uses for this that aren't too perverted to look at at head on. They are the sort of thing one reluctantly peeps at sideways and then you shudder and run. This hat...is inherently deviant. That is all.

Here ends the looking, so now, consider this: So I've written this book, right, and it is a HARD BOOK TO SUMMARIZE. gods in Alabama has a structure that allows me to say three sentences about it and you have an immediate idea of what you might be getting into and whether or not it's your sort of thing. Between, Georgia....it's not possible. By which I mean, I haven't found a way to do it yet. I had a one paragraph jacket copy kinda thing on the Between page, but it didn't, catch the essence of what the book is ACTUALLY about. So I have rewritten it without limiting myself to four sentences, and just tried to ACTUALLY SAY what the book is about. It took me four paragraphs.

Here's the new Summary for BETWEEN, GEORGIA.

After you read it, you will have a pretty good idea of what the book is about. SO! If you THEN have any thoughts about how to CATCH what the book is about in a 30 second sound bite, or even an opinion about WHAT elements would be most ear catching in a thirty second sound bite, then, please...share. Because I learned with gods that when someone asks, "SO WHAT IS IT ABOUT," I have about half a minute to get them interested enough to maybe go pick it up and read the jacket copy and see if it's the book for them.

Jennifer's book, above, has a great summary. You read that, and you can say, "Oh I want to check into that. I like snappy 'what if' books." Or you may say, "Hmm that sounds like it needs more spies and some gunplay..." I need a thirty second summary that can help the right readers for this book find it. And summarizing THIS book THAT fast looks to me to be the three minute mile----completely impossible without the aid of pharmecueticals. Whoopsie, no, I actually mean, completely impossible right up until someone does it.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:47 AM | Comments (17)

September 23, 2005

A Gavel Bangin' Good Time Was Had by All

Herewith and hear ye, I nowly present unto and before thee my empirical evidence of a) a good day and b) a bad person. Ignoring my extremely poor attempt at legal-speak, you may assign points and decide: Was the day better or was the person worse?

1a) I had a GOOD dinner. I declare Bison to be palatable and nice if you don't over think it. And I didn't unvirtue-tize it by means of sour cream and the application of many beautiful melty Mexican cheeses. Just a SPRINKLE. I (mostly) forsook the crunchy fried taco shells and ate my bison in a 100% whole wheat flour tortilla with sautéed muchrooms, onions, and peppers and some vegetarian low fat refried beans as meat moisteners. (Digression....No, too easy. I mean, do I EVEN need to say it? I will just say EW and leave it at that.)

1b) "Isn't Bison Buffalo? Is that the same animal? Hey! Did you ever read that book, Bless the Beasts and the Children?"

2a) I AM WRITING A NOVEL! I AM I AM. It is, of course, absolutely impossible to write a novel. The very idea dizzies me. The audacity. To think I can. Of COURSE I can't possibly right a novel. If you need a novel written, call Barbara Kingsolver because I hear SHE is not a total spaz. And I bet she can DANCE, too. But I can't, obviously, SO I come in here on preschool days when I have the house to myself. I put Basement Jaxx on in the other room and write bits and pieces and paste them together and relentlessly cut the bad paragraphs and hurl them over my left shoulder (like salt to sting the eye of the devil), subjecting myself to the misery of pumping out new material and the pleasure of PLAYING on that material as if it were a jungle gym and I were a crack-happy monkey. And I say, OUT LOUD, bravely, right at the beginning of this paragraph, for example, that I AM WRITING A NOVEL even though it can't be done and if it COULD be done it would be Barbara Kingsolver doing it. But I say it ANYWAY. Because I SUSPECT (based on previous experience) that one day, about 8 or 9 months from now from now, I will hit my shortcut to MS WORD and open my THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING file and oh, what's this? Seems to be the rough draft of an entire novel in here. And then I will begin doing the PURE revisions and life will taste sweet in my mouth.

2b) "Lord, but you travel a lot. I mean, I wondered how you found time to write books with the kids and all before, but now with all this travel...I don't know how you do it. But you think you can? Really? Wow. Really? Wow. No, but...really?"

3a) Remember the auction for the crit? To help a fellow writer who lost all her worldlies in a fire? Well, I started working on that crit. I spent about two and half hours on it last night. SO. This auction winning woman, she's a MAC user. She sent me the pages as an RTF file. I double clicked the RTF attachment and it obligingly opened itself into MS Word. I read the whole thing. I then began making notes in bold type all through it. I made a lot of notes. (Let me just say here --- the woman can WRITE. Seriously. And she has a good, hooky concept. But it's a draft, and she sets the bar pretty high in a GREAT opening, so I am trying to find ways to help her make the drafty bits hit the rather high bar she's set for herself) I make a ton of notes over the course of two hours, getting through about half her pages. I AM A SAVE FREAK. I hit save like Maria Carey hits high notes, which is to say, until it is ACTIVELY PAINFUL.

Then I ran out of time. I hit save AGAIN and closed the file.

Heh. Those of you who understand how RTF files work just said "DOH!" Because all of that work was saving in a TEMP file and the minute I closed MS Word it CEASED TO EXIST. It didn't even PAUSE, didn't even pop a "Are you SURE you want to close this, bonehead?" window, It just cheerfully closed and deleted itself.

Later, when Scott was unable to retrieve it even through the magic of Scottness, I hurled myself to the floor to writhe and foam in horror and rage, but see, hurling myself to the floor put me on eye level with my printer, which is on a rolling shelf under my desk. And there were all these....PAGES in it. I pulled them out of the tray. It was the whole file. With all my notes. I had accidentally PRINTED IT at some point and hadn't noticed. (If it pleases the court, please also note that I have here in passing proven the existence of a beneficent God. Thanks.)

3b) "HAHAHAHHAHAHAH! YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE! HAHAHAHHAHAHA!"

4a) About a month or so ago I sent a few manuscript pages of Between, Georgia, my book that is in production now, to an old theater friend of mine. I asked him to teach me to add the tiniest hint of a cajun slur to my Georgia for thirty seconds at a time, and then to pop right back into Georgia. Oh, and I needed the cajun voice to sound like a MAN, thanks. He hooked me up with a another friend, bayou born and bred, who read all of Henry's dialogue to me. Then I asked Scott, who has seven years of higher education and even more years of practical working experience in theater, to listen to me read those pages 900 times. I got Daren Wang (the brain behind VERB) to burn a good quality CD of me reading, kissed common sense g'bye, (I mean REALLY g'bye, kissed hard, with tongue and closed eyes, like I was sending C.S. on an epic journey with hobbits and hot elves played by Orlando Bloom, a journey from which there might be no return) and mailed the freshly burned CD away to Warner.

Yesterday my editor called.
WARNER AUDIO LIKED MY TAPE!
In fact, I blush to disclose, that reportedly, words like PERFECT FOR IT were bandied about.

Upshot: Common Sense fell into the burning mountain and was utterly lost, and I WILL BE READING BETWEEN ON THE AUDIO VERSION. PANT! PANT!

4b) "Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, I hear that you are excited and all, but... your writing is already out there for people to judge and dismiss, and now here you go putting yourself out there in a whole different way. Most of those books are read by professional actors. I hope in comparison you don't get, you know, absolutely slaughtered in the audio book reviews. Because that would be a lot more personal you know? Like a criticism of you directly instead of your work. You could end up suicidal. Heh."

HEY! I hear they have Bison Mozzarella Roll-Ups in the jurors' room! MMMMM!

Posted by joshilyn at 10:48 AM | Comments (19)

September 22, 2005

Strange Meats

Part of VIRTUE is eating whack-job foods. Not just low fat or whole grain or whatever, but things that are actively bizarre and possibly awful. Because awfulness sure helps you cut those PORTION SIZES!

SO! TODAY at the Kroger I DISCOVERED A NEW MEAT! Yes. I did. A new and previously untasted (by me) anyway MEAT. For EATING. It is sitting by the lovely little veals that make me sad to think about, even though the little veals are so delicious that every couple of years my convictions fall slain before The Piccata Gods and I eat and eat and eat of them and then feel horrid and vow to never eat of them again. So I was staring down at the delicious little veals and thinking, POOR THINGS IN A BOX, WHY MUST YOU TASTE SO GOOD? and I tore my greedy evil eyes away to the LEFT and saw! They had GROUND bison.

BISON! I immediately wanted to eat it.
IT IS ALL NATURAL! IT SAYS SO!
It has a sticker on the pack and the sicker says "This farm raised Bison contains no growth hormones or preservatives and is all natural and wholesome and and if you are a complete whackjob who is once again pretending that spelt is delicious because you are ridiculously vain (and shallow, did we mention shallow? With poor priorities?) and must lose five pounds, THEN THIS IS THE MEAT FOR YOU, especially if you call it BISON and not BUFFALO because anyone who has ever been 12 and obsessively read the novel Bless the Beasts and the Children over and over while fantasizing about kissing that one boy, we think his name was Cotton, on the MOUTH and SAVING HIM, then they won't be able to choke the meat down if you call it buffalo because their throat will clog with tears at the memory of those ragtag boys, standing at the cliff edge weeping and saying, 'Yah Yah Yah,' so just call it BISON and pretend that is a completely different animal. You tawdry, veal-eating trollop."

It was a big sticker.

I wish I was a vegetarian. I really don't like to think about where ANY of it comes from. I like meat to come from KROGER. In neat, plastic PACKETS. I remember Scott's first job post-grad school was at an event center and they had the EMU EXPO there...I came by to see Scott and we walked around looking at the Emu displays and trying Emu steaks and Emu casseroles and Emu Pate and Emu Puffs. Everything Emu. And it was all REMARKABLY delicious. It was disconcerting though, because they had pens and pens of ACTUAL ALIVE EMU there, too. They were milling about in cheerful little long-legged knots. So we walked around eating delicious emu and looking deep into the sweet long-lashed eyes of Emu who blinked at us sweetly and stupidly as we ate up their cousin Regina. It was very wrong. I haven't had Emu since.

ANYWAY -- I bought a bunch of BISON and then invited my friend Julie and her entire clan over for dinner. We are going to have TACOS. BISON Tacos. I am simultaneously fascinated and repelled and wonder if the children will eat it if we ALL pretend it is just regular ground beef...

I better make some fajita chicken, too, huh?

Posted by joshilyn at 12:02 PM | Comments (13)

September 21, 2005

In Which I Welcome You (in Your Guise of Ann Landers) to Newtopia and Virtue

THANK YOU, PRETTY INTERNETS. I took y'all's advice in the comments. That is to say, I called my production editor and begged for Clemency (the 6 hours of copy editing a day were making me want to lie on the sidewalk pressing a fork to my forehead and hoping a passing pedestrian-slash-aspiring-lobotomist would pause and kick it into my brain.) She gave me a week's extension. LET US NOW COMPOSE HYMNS IN HER HONOR. I got through the first read through and then threw the copy edits in a BOX to NOT THINK ABOUT for 48 hours.

(Digression: My copy editor, code name: Harold, would WHIP OUT THE PURPLE CRAYON and stab me with it, were she here! She would NEVER tolerate me getting THROUGH a read THROUGH and then THREW-ing. I love Harold.)

Then I hid the rest of my to do list from myself and sat down and had a big fun time writing me some BRAND NEW BOOK. I have an abysmal chapter one now, and the first ten pages of a putrescent chapter two. I already see that about 6/7ths of this draft must be destroyed before it poisons the land for mile around with its radioactive awfulness, BUT I can see the spine of something forming in the soupy and gellid bio-hazardous mass of words I have produced. I have learned (OH THANK YOU, THANK YOU, ANNE LAMOTT!) that most every good novel comes out of a crappy first draft.

Drafting, for me anyway, is an act of faith. Maybe not faith in myself---they were out of that at Kroger last time I checked---but faith in PROCESS. I assume that the bones of a good book will grow themselves themselves way down in the manure and mud I am writing now. But this will be my third novel (and the fifth I have written) and thus I have emperical evidence that if I keep generating crap and then digging out and tossing away the smelly parts, I will find the skeleton of my book, and then I can build a working animal around that frame.

It is a terribly inefficient way to write a novel, but it's the only way I know. I think a better process would be "Sit down and allow genius level prose of humbling beauty to drip langorously from my fingers as the rest of me writhes in uninhibited ecstacy to be in the presence of something so immediately perfect." That's kinda how I imagine Nabakov does it...

MEANWHILE, as a thank you for giving me commently encouragement to throw all my responsibilities out the window and do what I wanted to do anyway, I am going to give you a glimpse into....NEWTOPIA!

Newtopia.jpg

We cleaned out the tank, and Scott took a basic aquarium set up and, with the help of HIS CLEAR SIGHTED VISION FOR A BETTER NEWT-MERICA (and rocks dug out of the yard and a stick or two) made this newtly paradise with a big island and multiple climbing rocks and an arc de triumph and a log for getting under and basking places. He decided we needed more of a LAND MASS because Fig and Spotty have DROPPED their gills and become all LITHE and CREEPY. They now go STRAIGHT UP THE GLASS on their sticky little feet, even though I dearly wish they wouldn't. I have asked them very nicely not to, but they are strong-willed, or possibly non-native speakers. AND Sam and I took a field trip to the newt pond and after clever stalking caught ourselves a POSY FLOWER NEWT, a little Daisy Flower sized addition. Since Fig and Spotty are acting like MAMMALS (if mammals were hairless and slimey and could run straight GLASS UGH!) and barely deigning to stay damp, Sam worried Daisy would be lonely in the water.

In a totally unrelated tangent, lookit! This is my BEFORE picture. This is me and my mutants standing ready for church on Sunday. (Digression: Good grief but Sam is getting grown up and good lookin'!)

beforeyikes.jpg

Notice how in that last pic I am cleverly hiding at LEAST half of my butt fat behind my charmign son. There's so much of it, I may have detached a wad and stashed it behind Maisy. Sure, that's probably child abuse, BUT if I stare into ALL of my butt fat at once, head on, I suspect I will GO BLIND. This is as much as I can take in.

OKAY, YES, THAT IS COWARDLY! Let us go back a few days in time to the QM2 and see a FUZZY picture of me speaking. Perhaps the BLURRY SOFT FOCUS caused by the relentless puke-making motion of the ocean will help me not go blind:

beforeyikes2.jpg

ARG! I am going to look and look and look at these very current pictures any time I want a COOKIE, because I am beginning 100 million years of virtue today. 20 days won't do it, so. In 100 million years, we will take an after picture, and AS GOD IS MY WITNESS you will all start begging me to come back to Milan and do runway. My after picture is going to look JUST like THIS:

afterpic.jpeg

Except I hope my skin won't be so GLOSSY. Why do fitness people always insist on OILING themselves? THEY ALL DO, and I am against it. Oiled people always look to me like THEY could run straight up the glass...But to get back on POINT. VIRTUE!!! DO YOU HEAR ME? I AM GETTING BACK IN SHAPE. VIRTUE AND THEN MORE VIRTUE FOR 100 MILLION YEARS! NO MORE with the buttered rolls.

So I have written it. So shall it be.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:04 AM | Comments (12)

September 20, 2005

GCC|: 3 Questions with Natalie R. Collins

It is my absolute pleasure to have Natalie R. Collins here today. I've talked about Nat before, so you know I like her and have a great deal of respect for her talent. Nat's first novel, Wives and Sisters earned out in about 15 minutes, an extremely difficult accomplishment for a first novel, especially a hardbacjk release, and it got universally good reviews. Even one shall-remain-nameless hardcore industry mag that has a reputation for excoriating novelists basically had a LOVE FEST in honor of her book.

wives-and-sisters-20sm.jpg

I'm going to shut up and let Nat talk now:


Me: I know you got a lot of flack when this book was first released as your portrayal of the power hierarchy in the Mormon church was less than flattering and you continue to live in Utah...how have you handled that?

NC: At first it bothered me, even though I knew it would happen. You think you're prepared, and then when it hits you realize that you had no idea how hard it was going to be, hearing the constant negative from the people you've grown up around. But soon you realize you are getting scolded from people who have no point of reason. What I mean by that is, they are scolding you, saying things like "you should KNOW better, because the prophet says it is so," or "you need to pray more and then you will realize the truth," and not from a factual basis. And at that point, you start to laugh. It's funny. Scold me when I have my facts wrong, or correct me if I'm spouting mistruths or distortions or lies, but WHEN I AM TELLING THE TRUTH, don't mess with me. If you do that, I can make you look stupid. Some of the things I have heard from angry Mormons are hilarious. One threatened to tell my parents (hello?! I am 42-years-old!); another told me I KNEW the truth, and would be going to Outer Darkness for my apostacy. One threatened to burn my books. Hello, can you say PUBLICITY? Several have asked me who offended me. This is a common Mormon belief: people don't leave because they don't believe, they leave because someone makes them mad. Please! My kids make me mad all the time, and I don't leave them, even if they deserve it. And sometimes they do.

I expect there will be a resurgence of hate when the paperback comes out in March of 2006. But Mormons beware: I blog my hatemail, and I THINK IT'S funny!!! Once you get that, it's not as much fun to write to me, huh?

JJ: This is a very tense and suspenseful novel---and it starts off with a bang. Did that first, harrowing scene come to you wholesale or what image or idea in it sparked it for you?

NC: Well, it's based in fact. I was held at gunpoint when I was six-years-old. We were on some secluded property in Farmington (which is where the novel takes place), and we heard a gunshot, and looked over to see a man hiding behind some trees, pointing a rifle at us. He threatened us, and told us to take off our clothes or he would kill us, and we refused. He finally told us to run and not look back. We ran, and I lost my shoes, and remember thinking how much trouble I would be in for that. I put ALL of that feeling, all of that emotion, which is still very real to me all these years later, into that opening scene.


JJ: What are you working on now?

I just finished revisions on Behind Closed Doors, my second book for St. Martin's, and turned it in to my editor. Now I have a new idea ruminating, with a great character. And I have a fun cozy, dance mystery set in Utah. It's pretty funny, especially with all the attention dance has been getting. And God knows dance moms are psycho.

JJ: THANKS NAT! I JUST became a dance mom, too. Maisy is taking TAP, Lord help me. It's so cute to watch her spaz around in clicky shoes and a leotard that it makes my eyes bleed...

Posted by joshilyn at 9:38 AM | Comments (3)

September 19, 2005

Meanwhile, Down in the Galley

Note: I wrote this at 7 am, but my blog has not let me post for 3 days now. Server issues? Spam bomb? No clue. It decided to let me, so I am rushing to slap this up while the slapping is good.

Hi! Remember Copy Editing? I sure do!

This is the working definition of NOT FUN. I call my copy editor Harold because she uses a purple pencil...and uses it...and uses it... I must just exhaust poor Harold. I need to send her a big bottle of Vodka and a coupon for some free therapy. I FEEL for her. I mean, if you read this blog at all, you have learned by now that I am NOT A GOOD PROOF READER. And I am also not a good TYPER---I type using one thumb and three fingers, and it's all about speediness---accuracy be damned. I am also not careful or consistent. I can spell a word right 9,000 times and then suddenly decide to switch out all its E's for A's and add a silent P, or sometimes my brain will cramp up and I will completely forget how to spell some average, work-a-day word. You know how you can be writing and then a regular word you use constantly (say, LITTLE, for a painfully personal example) will just LOOK wrong to you? Yeah. Me too. Only I never go to dictionary.com and check it, do I?

My CARELESS mistakes aside (and it would take a BULLDOZER to move all of them to the side), I have not given up my love affair with the word little. Many, many, many, many things in this book managed to be little --- hands, tables, smiles, gestures, bits, feet (and their correspondingly little shoes), caterpillars (like anyone has ever seen a nine inch caterpillar!), fingers, children, noses, lips, all just as little as little can be. I could have saved myself a world of trouble if I'd simply set the whole thing in Lilliput. Also? I have split SO many infinitives that infinitive marriage counsellors cite ME as the number three cause of infinitive divorce. (The first two are money and sex, um duh.)

AND! I got home on Friday and found my copy-edited pages waiting for me. They came shortly after I left, so they want them back FIVE DAYS after I returned. I have spent six solid hours Saturday and another six yesterday STET-ing a few especial pet grammatical errors that I feel are part of voice and OK-ing fixes to the THUNDEROUS AND HUGE PRE-PIONEER-BUFFALO-HERD sized ARMY of careless errors.

I got up at 5 am this morning and got my own colored pencil and went right back to it. And I am still only about halfway through the FIRST read through. I like to go through copy-edited proofs at LEAST twice because asking for changes in galleys feels like bad manners.
AND I HAVE STILL NOT ANSWERED THE 150 ANSWER NEEDING -MAILS that piled themselves up while I frittered away ten days on sybaritic pleasure cruising and the pernicious eating of buttered rolls.
And I have a crit to do for Liz (she won that auction and so I want to REALLY do a good job for her).
And I need to make worksheets up for a seminar I am going to teach on writing punchy openings.
And find an hour every day to get my sweat on so I can lose five pounds of buttered-roll-butt.
And I need to do my GCC interview with Natalie Collins because she is not only in the GCC with me but a FINE writer and a friend.
And then I need to mom-taxi my little dangling participles to karate and boy scouts and tap dance and choir and pre-school and etc etc.

AND I have this STORY pressing against the bones of my skull, wanting OUT. I am supposed to be on a break and begin this new novel in November, but this novel doesn't want to be begun in November. I am DREAMING about it, and almost driving off the road and into the gorse because I am thinking so hard about it, and RIGHT NOW this second, every time I BLINK, I see the long, snakey arms and stripey liquid eyeliner of Thalia, my narrator's sister. I can SEE her imprinted on the backs of my EYELIDS, and I so so so want to write about her NOW. Today.

The upshot is, I can never go on vacation again because I don't see how to dig my way out so I can get to the part where I get to write this burgeoning book. The book is like Pillsbury biscuit dough, confined and thwarted, wanting only to puff and hump and grow, and I am the cardboard cannister, longing to be cracked sharply against the counter.

Okay. That was too much. Did I just employ TURGID BISCUIT IMAGERY? Time to SHUT UP. Bah I really want to write today, BU|T NO. Instead I shall copy edit all the whole morning, virtuous as a carb-free nun, and THEN I shall go to tap class with Maisy and THEN answer AT LEAST 30 e-mails and THEN do some more copy editing and then get Natalie's interview ready for tomorrow before waving romantically at my husband in passing and dropping unconscious to the sheets. This is my solemn vow.

So Gentle Reader? The OTHER upshot is, I am not proofreading this blog at all. Embrace the typos, oh my best beloveds.
And Harold? Sadly? The OTHER other upshot is, I will FLIP you for the free therapy coupon, but I am DERN well keeping the Vodka.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:28 PM | Comments (8)

September 16, 2005

Near, if not Actually HOME ON, the Range

I am home!
Sort of. I am off the boat anyway. And SO grateful to celebrity guest blogger Mir (of Woulda Coulda Shoulda) who was given MOD ACCESS TO KUDZU and never ONCE abused her newfound posting powers to perpetrate a A Very Bad Word Indeed upon these hallowed and generally PG-14-Year-Old-Nephew grounds. She never even ALLUDED to Female Problems Better Not Discussed. I am proud. Most importantly, she stepped in and ran B4B single-handedly. She. Is. Pretty.

Also, big thanks to celebrity guest author Melanie Lynn Hauser (whose book, Confessions of Super Mom is garnering great reviews) and MORE thanks to the B4B entrants who have kept Kudzu metaphorically floating in quality reading material while I was floating in a more literal and Atlantic Oceanly manner. The WINNERS are in the entry right below this one, posted by her beautimous Mir-liness. I'm so out of the loop of my OWN DERN BLOG that I started reading the second half of the ORIGINAL ENTRIES today with my morning coffee. WOW am I GLAD I delegated the job of narrowing the entries down!

SO back to the being sort of mostly HOME-ISH.

I am HOME in an AMERICA sense but not in the sense of MY house: I am at my mom-n-dad's place. But I WAS home, for a minute. Day before yesterday. Then I kissed Sam 500 times until he was all, MOM OKAY I MISSED YOU TOO JEEZ, and then I snatched up Maisy and we got in the car with my dad and came over here to meet with the Tonya Terry's Book Bunch in Mongomery. I was on WSFA's morning show, and then met with their very large and VERY chatty and VERY VERY OPINIONATED group of exceptional women (and one man) last night. The interview with Tonya (she's a PISTOL!) can be seen in streaming video here.

I wish the meeting could too, quite frankly.

Let's just say that gods in Alabama ended up being a SLIGHTLY controversial choice... A large and (Thank you, Lord) very vocal segment really took to the book, and I got that satisfying sense I almost always seem to get during book club visits---that these are more than surface readers. Very few of them missed a trick, and as always the reactions and opinions varied widely. I never regret finding time to go to book clubs.

There was a (Thank you again, Lord) much smaller contingent (about four) that wanted the book banned, and one of that number thought banned didn't quite cover it. She thought that all copies of the book should be gathered into a heap and set on fire and then I should be tossed on top of the burning heap in a literary version of suttee. She hadn't made it out of Chapter 2 when she became SO enraged with Arlene's *cough* blunt vocabulary and *cough cough* frank depictions of ...let's say, "scenes of a delicate nature" that she took it BACK to the bookstore, yelled at them for CARRYING such smutly filth, and demanded her money back.

Digression: I got tickled about that, because how much do you want to bet that ALL of those booksellers have now read the book? I dare to think that most people who read it like it, And if you can get a bookseller to like it, they help it find its readership. And by "Its readership" I mean, the folks who don't stop reading two chapters in to begin the laborious process of mailing me some dead animals or bombs because of Arlene's cheerful, uncomplicated relationship with the F word, and her incredibly convoluted relationship with the act that the F word purports to represent. If you follow me.

My favorite of the nay-sayers was the woman who did not attend but sent her friend with this message:
"I think the title was very misleading. I thought it would be a religious book, but this book is so graphic that it ought to have been called "OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD! In Alabama."

I may disagree with her assessment (as I have said before, I DO think of gods as a "religious book...") but HA! What a GREAT line! She should write reviews. I also liked meeting Tonya's co-anchor who greeted me with, "Oh, is this the Effin' author? How the Eff are ya?" He'd read the letter from the this-is-smutly-filth-book-returner, see.

AH WELL. ONWARDS, HO! (With the Ho being Arlene, apparently.)

BUSINESS: If you have written me e-mail in the last 2 weeks, I most likely have not answered you. It cost 50 cents a minute to have web access on the boat. YARP! I am going to catch up on all that my-real-life-stuff on Monday. Today I am driving home, and Scott and I plan to spend the weekend hanging out with our kids and our cat and our newts...

I have MANY MORE boat stories to tell you, About Jacek and Nicola, and what I have named each of my five COUNT THEM ...FIVE! brand new pounds of cruise-induced butt fat and my 20 day plan to murder each of them in turn, and about Why I Will Never Have A Second Career in the British Royal Navy (alternate title: Adventures of a Puffy Pink Puker) etc etc etc, and I shall try to not let all this stuff go the way of the roller-blade socks, but you know, every day, more life keeps happening. You can't stop it. So.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:28 AM | Comments (18)

Blogging for Books: The Winners!

The results are in! This month's Blogging for Books winners have been chosen by our lovely guest judge, Melanie Hauser. All three winners will be receiving signed copies of Melanie's novel, CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM.

Ready? Here's what Melanie had to say:

Thanks so much for inviting me to judge this month's Blogging for Books. I confess, I had no idea how fun - and difficult - it would be. I'm amazed at how differently everyone responded to the vague subject matter of "superheroes." I just love authors, and the things their crazy minds come up with! Sheesh! Enough of all the Serious Author Blather! Without further fanfare, I'm so happy to announce the winners of this month's Blogging for Books:

Third place goes to The Downside of Saving the World by Holley of Mean Teacher. This was so funny, and the twist at the end made me laugh out loud.

Coming in at a close second was Is the cape required? by Amy of Excrutiating Minutiae. This was a terrific view of superheroing from the most unsung superhero of all, Mom. (Something I know a little about!)

First place goes to A Hero of Sorts by Vicki of Outside In. I loved this entry! I loved the restraint, yet obvious compassion, that Vicki used in writing about her son. This moved me, yet never made me feel sorry for the subject, and that's a very hard thing to do. Congrats, Vicki!

I'd like to thank Joshilyn for hosting B4B, Mir for doing all the hard work, and Jay for coming up with this brilliant idea in the first place. And for all you superheroes out there, thank you, be careful of that cape (especially when entering and leaving revolving doors), and don't forget to floss!

Posted by Mir at 6:20 AM | Comments (6)

September 14, 2005

Blogging for Books: The Finalists

At final tally, we had 21 entries for this month's Blogging for Books contest. I hope that folks will read all the entries, if they haven't done so already.

When I was asked to help pare the entries down to a list of seven finalists, I was flattered, and figured it would be fun and easy. Well. It was fun, reading everyone's entries. It was not easy. There were a lot of wonderful submissions and I now have a lot more empathy for Jay and our guest judges.

Anyway, this month's theme was SUPERHEROES. With that in mind, I tried to pick the entries that I felt were not only the "best" or "most entertaining," but that most fully embodied the theme. I would like to thank Joshilyn for taking over as contest host, and Melanie for her upcoming final judging. In addition, thank you to EVERYONE who submitted.

Without further ado... here are the top seven entries in random order:

1) Playing With Boys by f-i-n of sunshine state.
2) Is the cape required? by Amy of Excrutiating Minutiae.
3) Who Will Save Us Now? by Sleeping Mommy of Sleeping Mommy.
4) The Downside of Saving the World by Holley of Mean Teacher.
5) SHOUT It Out! by Deb of Red Shoe Ramblings.
6) A Hero of Sorts by Vicki of Outside In.
7) SWOOP, Unmasked by Jamie of Selkie.

And because I've never been very good at following the rules and limiting myself, I'd also like to note the following entries for Honorable Mentions: September 11 by Karry at The Smiths in Florida; Who's Going to Save the Day? by sp8cemunky of Livejournal; and Climbing the Walls by Elisson of Blog d'Elisson.

Congratulations to all of our finalists, and here's hoping Melanie has an easier time with her decisions than I did with mine!

Posted by Mir at 7:05 AM | Comments (11)

September 12, 2005

A Fantastic Day (Except for the Trivia Git)

1) I met Dick Francis, and he is ABSOLUTELY charming and warm and interesting. In short, he is exactly everything you secretly hope Dick Francis will be. AND they showed one of my talks on QM2 TV, and DICK FRANCIS WATCHED IT and said KIND THINGS TO ME about it. I was very busy expressing my admiration and respect and when he started experssing admiration and respect BACK I got so discombobulated and flushed I had to clutch my cheeks and babble at him and then flee in a welter of confused delight. I was a fan before, and I am a bigger fan now. His books are EXCELLENT FUN, especially if you have any sort of horse interest at all, which, of course, I do. AND I GOT MY COPY OF DEAD CERT SIGNED!

2) We went to an art auction and GOT ART. See, they have these art auctions every day, and walking back and forth through the art display hallway, this one artist was SO appealing to us. A surrealist, a Belgian named Rene Van Den Neste. We had never heard of him. Every time we would go through the hall we would get caught and stand staring at his paintings, particularly this sort of headless machine-slash-fish woman sailing through a clean, spare landscape, and she had this smugly fatty-fat puff of phlegmatic CAT on her back. It's called Le Voyageur de L'espace. Here is a teeny little web pic of it:

neste.jpg

They had three of his---they seemed so ODDLY influenced, like you could see bits of Klimt and Breugel (and the rest of that Flemish Master Posse, you know, Bosch et al) and also medieval tapestry....it wowed us, but it was sitting next to a signed limited edition study for a stained glass window by Chagall, so it never occurred to us we could afford it. It's a SIGNED gicle'e on canvas, limited edition, #76 of 195. But we decided to ask the reserve ANYWAY, and it was DO-ABLE, assuming it went for the reserve and no one else got sassy with the paddles. SO we went to the auction, and all breathless with our own bravery, we BID on our favorite, and then we looked fiercely around brandishing VERY full champagne glasses in a threatening manner, and we so successfully intimidated our fellow passengers with the sloshing force of our cockails that we WON! We won ART! We won art we LOVE.

PS The reserve on the Chagall was 32,000. After our WILD SUCCESS at ART BUYING, I had to ask. Allow me to say, YIKES. In fact I think i DID say yikes to the auctioneer.

3) THEN WE GOT MORE ART. Between auction lots, they had ART TRIVIA, and every time you answered a question correctly, you got a little raffle ticket. Well, we ended up with three tickets, mostly because Scott is smart and I am loud, and then they did drawings for prints -- not signed or anything, just nice prints. There was one we were quite taken with -- a very colorful and folk artsy Noah's Ark, AND WE WON IT!

4) Lunch was perfect Osso Bucco. That wins my supreme prize for GOOD LUNCHNESS.

5) At the bookstore, they told me they have almost sold out of gods in Alabama! The few copies up on the display shelf are all the copies they have left!!!!

6) It has been such a lucky day that I am going to play TEAM TRIVIA with 4 of our VERY charming dinner companions. I fully expect our multinational team to TRIUMPH! Which will win us all, I am SURE, both the admiration of nations and a QM2 bookmark.

6) Tomorrow is our last day. I am HAPPY about that because I am beginning to feel starved for the smell of my children....but wow. What a wonderful trip.
Thank you, Cunard.
Thank you, New Yorker.
Thank you, Spectacular Blonde Heaven-Bound Human at Warner Books.
Thank you, Mom and Dad for watching over my little ones so Scott and I could have this amazing set of memories...

AFTER TRIVIA UPDATE!

We LOST! I broke our streak by ordering a BAD COCKTAIL! OMG do NOT order a Stinger. Ever. It is exactly like drinking Crest Toothpaste. THEN The Trivia Git misread the tie-breaker question, and so we got it wrong. After, we tried to explain to him that he had misread the question and he was a git, but he was not open to either suggestion. He feels he is NOT a git, and that OF and FOR are the same word. (PS> GIT is by the way, APPROPRIATED SLANG) He was an American Git, however, We hates him my preshus, and his little stinger too! We wish upon him all manner of elbow rashes and ingrown nose hairs. GAH! SO CLOSE to the adoration of nations was I. ALAS! ALAS! I must run order a GOOD cocktail to rid ourselves of the BAD GIT ILLITERATE HOODOO he has placed upon our perfect day....I feel a Flirtni will JUST about fix it!


Posted by joshilyn at 3:17 PM | Comments (7)

Blogging for Books: The List (Updated)

What a lovely showing we have for this month's contest! I believe the complete list of entries follows; but if you entered and you're not on the list, I'm a moron and you should leave a comment pointing that out.

Here are your superhero-themed writings!

1) Disownership Manual by Georgia of odious woman.
2) Climbing the Walls by Elisson of Blog d'Elisson.
3) Superheroes by Magnolia of The Good Stuff.
4) Superheroes by Cathy of Cathy's Cul-de-Sac.
5) Playing With Boys by f-i-n of sunshine state.
6) Creatues of the Night by Robin of A Little Bit of Me.
7) Four Years Ago Tonight by Edgy Mama of Edgy Mama.
8) 57 by Rainbow Mama of Somewhere over the Rainbow.
9) Is the cape required? by Amy of Excrutiating Minutiae.
10) Who Will Save Us Now? by Sleeping Mommy of Sleeping Mommy.
11) Then a Hero Comes Along by poopie of poop happens.
12) The Downside of Saving the World by Holley of Mean Teacher.
13) Which Superhero? by Patti of Writes For Chocolate.
14) SHOUT It Out! by Deb of Red Shoe Ramblings.
15) September 11 by Karry of The Smiths in Florida.
16) A Hero of Sorts by Vicki of Outside In.
17) The South Needs Savin', Too by Becky of pith, marrow, and coffee spoons.
18) Aquaman?!? by Alex of A Bunch of Random Stuff by Me.
19) SWOOP, Unmasked by Jamie of Selkie.
20) Heroes Aren't Hard to Find by Ash of ashvegas.
21) Who's Going to Save the Day? by sp8cemunky of Livejournal.

I will have the list pared down to seven finalists by... um... soon. By Wednesday at the latest. Maybe sooner. Oh, the suspense!

Posted by Mir at 6:21 AM | Comments (4)

September 11, 2005

Losing Battle

Yesterday I got up and six and hit the gym for 30 minutes of cardio and then did a HARD 30 minute lower body weight set. I took a dance class before lunch. At 4:15 I did a 45 minute aerobics class, and then later, after dinner, Scott and I went to the black and white ball and showed off our so-new-and-clean-they-squeak cha-cha and Gay Gordon skillzzz...And I am willing to bet I STILL gained at least two pounds. There's nothing one can do to combat these MEALS. The plush brioche, the creamy risotto all smoky and thick with mushrooms, the shrimp thermidor, the little lobster tails and asparagus in hollandaise, the Grand Marnier souffles...These are big creamy buttered armies that lay siege to my waistline, and I TRY to pick the Canyon Ranch spa meals but I am SO easily defeated. HOW is it humanly possible to NOT order a Grand marnier souffle if there is one to be had? So I am bouncing back and forth from the dining hall to the gym like a round (and getting rounder) ping pong ball.

I think today is Sunday - it's hard to tell because I am so constantly stoned on anti-seasick drugs. Here is the view from a porthole on a lower deck, down by the sea, if you'd care to take a look at WHY:

Waves.JPG

The Atlantic is being high maintenence and turbulent, like a prima donna on diet pills. It's so downright FUSSY that it might as well carry a tiny, tiny poodle in it's inevitably pink purse and say things like, "Darling, get me a carb-free watercress sandwich and a moist towellette, would you? I'm positively FRAUGHT with hurricanes!" And I am discovering that I am a poor poor sailor. When God was handing out the sea-legs, I was in line for something that must have seemed important at the time, like naturally wavey hair or being deadly at Scrabble.

Ah well -- I have to dash, I JUST got back from today's second gym excursion, and I am due to shower and go undo all the good I have done at what is certain to be an OBSCENE supper. TRA LA!

IF IT IS SUNDAY---then here is your final Blogging for Books reminder, tomorrow (if tomorrow is Monday) is your last day to enter....scroll down to the blog entries about B4B if you have no idea what I am talking about.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:01 PM | Comments (7)

September 9, 2005

Ex-Pat Cosmopolitan Bathroom

Hi. I am violently ill.

No, I did not eat a bad banger. No, Isaac-the-bartender didn't talk me into trying a spangle-french-Bellini shooter or seven. It is the WAVINESS. Good LORD, but the ocean is very MOVE-Y. This morning I stood out on my little balcony and exhorted the dern thing to PEACE, BE STILL, but it ignored me, even when I offered it my breakfast as a sacrifice. Stupid ocean. The boat tips around and sloshes while all of me stays still except my stomach, which chooses to slosh cheerfully right along with the waves.

After a perfectly miserable morning, I learned you can get injections for sea sickness at the clinic, and as a BONUS, the shots make a person dreamy and pleasant to be around. The injection works FAST, and then suddenly you are cruising along, seeing tigers and singing tuneless little songs that celebrate the beauty of the word marmoset. So that's all right then.

As soon as I had finished with the naseua and its accompanying "praying for death," I began having a FANTASTIC day. Scott and I are now QM2 certified to CHA-CHA. We can do basic cha-cha, and also he can TWIRL me, and also we can do a move called THE NEW YORK. But only if we do these steps in a certain order. We experimented with a little free style cha-cha-ing, and it invariably leads to toe stomping and bonking into other dancers and madness. So we sit near the dance floor, hovering like cha-cha vultures, waiting for the right sort of beat, and then we leap to the floor and do three basic, twirl once, then straight into two sets of THE NEW YORK and bang-oh, tally-ho, Bob is one's uncle, and there we are back at basic. Once back at basic, we lather, we rinse, and we most humbly and obediently repeat. Tomorrow we shall learn to do about three tango moves and then go do them over and over in the exact order we learn them, OH such`good little dance monkeys are we! Hopefully we will also remember our CHA-CHA sequence, and so tomorrow night we can leap onto the floor twice as often and feel VERY pleased with ourselves. IT IS FUN AND ROMANTICAL to ballroom dance, even BADLY.

Tonight we have been invited to have drinks with the Commodore, and I am feeling very posh indeed! I am wearing shoes that are SO excrutiating I think they are ILLEGAL in 14 states but OH lordy, are they pretty? Why, Yes. Yes, they are.

ALSO we took a bridge class, and played bar trivia, and listened to Harrison Ford explain the origin of the planet while watching a ceiling film in the dome of the planetarium and yes, YES, you heard me, they DO have a planetarium on board, as well as Oxford dons offering lectures about modern art and dada--that's tomorrow. Scott is SO happy. OH they have this art auction and we were wandering through just LOOKING and we saw this painting, and Scott said, "Wow -- that guy was so influenced by Chagall he might as well BE Chagall." And then we looked at the signature, and um. It was. IT WAS CHAGALL. They have FOUR of them. FOR SALE. We stood there googling at it like rubes and then noticed a one-eyed woman by PICASSO was loitering all bizarrely profiled right beside it. FOR FREAKIN' SALE. OH man, I am COVETING.

Also on board, Dick Francis. That's pretty cool, too. When I was VERYVERYVERY pregnant with Maisy I went through this DICK FRANCIS thing where I read everything he had ever written. I could read one about one every two days, and nothing else made me happy. NOTHING. Even Jane Austen irritated me. It was DF or bust, DF or nothing, DF or listen to me sit flat-bottomed on the floor with my legs spraddled, wailing "LITTLE FAT PREGNANT IS TIRED! GET IT A BOOK! IT WANTS A BOOK WITH HORSES IN!" Scott, who probably SHOULD have spanked me to death, would instead kindly go get me another DF mystery, and I would shut up for 4 or 5 hours at a time. It was a good system, especially the part where I didn't get deservedly killed.

WHOOPSIE lookit the time. I need to suspend my disbelief and go nibble on dramamine and then put on my twirly-skirted green spangle dress and The Cruel Shoes for the commodore's cocktail party. And THERE'S a sentence I never thought I'd say....

Posted by joshilyn at 1:11 PM | Comments (9)

September 8, 2005

Last Night in London

Yesterday I went and met my UK editor and several other Hodder editors and a great deal of the publicity department and various and sundry other people who...um. I don't know. Let's just say they "work in publishing" as my understanding of the way a business is run is SO rudimentary that is pretty much a LARVAE. And not even a larvae who is likely to blossom into a less rudimentary dragonfly type understanding. More like a sulking larvae. An ungrowing, crabby with little larvae with clinical depression and a Prozac allergy.Oh heck, not even. More like a dead larvae. But anyway, I met some people who have jobs I don't understand, but that mean the great wheels of the publishing industry grind on, so we likes them, my preshus, indeed we do.

There was a little champagne reception among the boxes and orange crates (Hodder is moving offices) AND! The VP of sales AND the VP of marketing came, which delighted me. Those are good people to have liking ones book. Gods is gettign the same kind of backing from Hodder that it got at Warner, and oh my goodness...I can't tell you what the backing of the house means, but it probably rhymes with, "beverything." The way they've aken to gods warms the cockles of my heart, or, alternatively, whatever internal organ actually HOLDS the cockles, assuming girls even have them. Which I doubt.


I also got a brilliant bit of news (<--note my obnoxious slang appropriation is not stopping. And brilliant is just the TIP of my anglophile iceberg. I have completely banished "TENNIS SHOES" and even "SNEAKERS" from my vocabulary. I have TRAINERS now, thanks much, because that's what WE over here in ENGLAND say. Since I was a resident of London for FOUR SOLID DAYS I am practically a NATIVE. So. Trainers. But I digress....) As I was saying, I got BRILLIANT bit of news while in the office, but I don't know if I am allowed to say yet, so I will say it later. IT IS NICE THOUGH!

My editor is funny and a charming conversationalist, which one expects editors to be, actually, BUT she is tall, which is new. My U.S. Editor and a few of her fellow editors I have met at Warner and my publisher and my publicist are all petite, like 5'2' and slender to boot. When I first met them I was intimiated because they all had good shoes and glossy hair and came up to my bosom. Tall women intimidate me less, probably because I am tall, BUT...On the other hand, my UK editor is ridiculously pretty which can also be intimidating. I swan, I am used to it though---my personal and anecdotal evidence indicates that that is just the way editors ARE, everywhere. There was a gent (<--SLANG APPROPRIATION!!!!) there, in his forties I'd say, also a Hodder editor, and he lifted his champage glass and waived it at all the ridiculously pretty editors and said, "I guess the reason is plain why *I* went into publishing." At any rate, she was very chatty and easy to talk to, so I didn't get the shy's or have a nervous prostration or pour wine down my front.

Then my editor took Scott and I to lunch at a RAWTHER POSH SPOT <--- SLANG APROPRIATION! OMG you should have SEEN the ceiling--a mosaic of all these tiny mirrored tiles. It was made in the 1800's. Just gorgeous. I ate a warm goat cheese tart that I shall always remember with fondness.

We are now on board the QM2 and I have to go find the GYM because OH LORD but bangers and mash are good. Under good, file also: Fish and chips and the INDIAN FOOD in London. I am STUFFED on chutney and prawn curry ("PRAWNS" is what WE over here in ENGLAND call ....oh how do you Americans say it....shrimps? heheheh OKAY, OKAY, I am stopping. Soon. Probably.) And I have to tell you about the plays we saw on the West End -- we saw Sienna Miller and the ASTONISHINGLY CHARISMATIC AND AMAZING Helen McCrory in AS YOU LIKE IT, and that won.

QM2 pics and info later ---I need to go throw streamers and find Julie-our-cruise-director and MORE IMPORTANTLY, Isaac-our-bartender and learn where the lifeboats are. Scott tells me that they have instituted this new POST TITANTIC safety program where they have enough lifeboats for EVERYONE on board! HUZZAH!

Posted by joshilyn at 3:25 PM | Comments (12)

September 7, 2005

London Pictures

B4B note -- If you do not blog and yet you want to enter, you can send your essay to ANNE FITTEN aka Edgy Mama, and she will put it up on a blog especially created to host entries. Her email address is

janus@annefittenglenn.com

I can't make links work right now GAH. Edgy Mama is on my BLINKS PAGE and you will have to write out her e-mail address...SORRY. And now some of the pics I promised you!

At my hotel, there is a picture of this guy we call Lord Nipple. This is him:

Nippleguy.JPG


I don't understand why he is wearing see through armor, or what disease he has contracted that could cause flesh-lions to grow from his bare shoulders. BUT OKAY. I admit I enjoy the presence of Lord Nipple. I like his supercilious nose, and you have to admit, he's pretty bold to sit out in the living room and receive guests in such garb. I am trying to convince Scott that we need to kiss our hands and slap Lord Nipple's belly every time we pass his portrait, but Scott resists joining me in what I feel is a fitting tribute to Lord N's unapologetic nipple-ness. I think Scott holds back because Lord Nipple is right by the Concierge, but see, I think that's what would make it CHALLENGING. We would have to come up with elaborate schemes to distract the concierge long enough to carry out the belly-slap of nipple tribute. Alas, it is not to be.

I want to look him up when i get home and get the story.

HEY -- I found an independent bookstore yesterday in my quest to sign every copy of gods in Alabama currently out in London. That was cool -- it is called Foyles, and it was family owned and every bookseller there was a READER. They had quite a few copies of gods and it had very nice placement, and hopefully one or two of the handsellers I met there will follow up and read it and help it find readers. Just one or two can make quite a difference...I also went to several chains, and talked to booksellers there----met some MORE booksellers who read and that's always so heartening and delightful. I LOVE finding booksellers who essentially think selling books is not the same as selling cars or coffee---who love what they sell. Here they have different chains than we have in the states; Books, INC and Blackwell's and W. H. Smith and Waterstones---No Barnes and Nobles, although they do have Borders here. I have YET to see an OTTAKER'S, and I really want to find at LEAST one, since they made gods their August book of the month...maybe today.

LOOK This was at the tower of London --- This is a GUN!

Cannon.JPG

I like the goat-lion-thingy, cheerfully holding up the heavy end. It seems an odd thing, to tart up a very large and destructive weapon until it looks like a cheery carnival ride. It's a very medieval thing to do, though. Scott and I love medieval history and theatre, so we are pretty much in heaven here.

West End theatre is VERY different from American theatre. Not in terms of quality -- there's no choosing between the West End and Broadway. Superlative acting, gifted designers, great directors are par for both courses. But here theatre is much more ACCESSIBLE. You can wear jeans, whereas in New York it's more...social. The theatre tickets are the one thing that's CHEAPER over here. Here, a burger that would cost you three bucks stateside is four or five pounds. And a pound is worth 2 dollars. just about, so. Do the math, it;s doubly doubled. At the same time, a theatre ticket that would cost you 125 bucks is only 40 pounds. There is this feeling that theatre is fun and a nice and for everyone. Stateside, in New York it is a BIG event to go because it's so prohibitively expensive, and you dress up for it. It's an event, not something you do every weekend. Out of New York theatre, excepting travelling LION KING productions, is often seen as elitist---something for big smarty-pants intellectuals. Going to see THE CHERRY ORCHARD is often viewed as GOOD for you, like medicine or spinach, but not necessarily a pleasure. But here, it seems theatre is just one of the things everyone can go and do for fun. THIS IS RIGHT AND GOOD AND SMART. I envy it.

Kensington.JPG

That's me, looking dyspeptic in front of the sunken garden at Kensington Palace.

And this is one of the Ravens at the Tower of London. THEY ARE AS BIG AS CATS and they CANTER around like 2 legged black ponies.

Raven.JPG


MORE LATER --- This is our last full day here and Scott is making impatient noises. Lord Nipple awaits our passing, and beyond him, all of London.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:10 AM | Comments (9)

September 5, 2005

Blogging For Books is live... NOW!

Hello lovelies, Mir here with important Blogging For Books news!

[Funny story: I thought Joshilyn was going to do this post, and she apparently is experiencing technical difficulties in another country, or something. Hahaha! Why aren't you laughing? *crickets chirp* Um, yeah, ANYWAY, we apologize for the delay....]

To refresh your memory, read Joshilyn's post explaining how she's taking over for The Zero Boss for a while. Long story short: Blogging for Books is here, this week, hosted by the lovely Joshilyn, judged by the charming Melanie Hauser, and, uh, micromanaged by yours truly. So! On with it!

This month's theme is SUPERHEROES; whatever that means to you, go for it. Melanie is somewhat of an expert in this area, I hear. Write like the wind, my pretties, and remember to keep it to 2,000 words or less.

Starting now, you have until midnight next Monday (September 12th) (that's the stroke of midnight Monday morning, not the following midnight which is actually Tuesday) to leave a link to your essay in the comments. I will narrow the entries down to the top seven, and Melanie will select three winners from those.

In the interim, perhaps Joshilyn will find a power converter for her computer. STAY TUNED!

Posted by Mir at 8:51 AM | Comments (31)

Don't Mess With The Sussex Police

Forgive how scattered this --- I am sleep deprived and on battery power so have maybe 20 minutes and can't proofread...

The Sussex Police were at Gatwick Airport with Sub. Machine. Guns. I don't even think they were SUB actually. I've only ever seen guns like these in the hands of Arnold Scwarzenegger. These machine guns were longer than me and had big clear plastic cases full of bullets so big they looked like pencils. Not like NUMBER 2 TEST TAKERS either. I mean, fat kingergarden pencils. And over the loudspeaker, this guy who sounded like a refugee from a Terry Gilliam Film kept saying, "STAY BY YOUR LUGGAGE! If we find your luggage unattended, IT! MAY! BE! DESTROYED!"

"England is SCARY!" I said, bug-eyed from an 8 hour overnight flight---and willing to trade my immortal soul for a toothbrush.
"Don't let the Sussex Police hear you..." said Scott.

Also at Gatwick: GODS IN ALABAMA! I went in and the cover LEAPT out at me. It was both on the front table and in a woman's hands---she was book hunting and had picked it up. I practically snatched it from her, hollering. THIS IS MY BOOK! She looked at me like I was a loon (a loon with terrible breath, no less) and I said, NO NO I MEAN, NOT THIS COPY! I MEAN I WROTE IT! And then I stood there giggling at her and googling my fiery red eyeballs out of my head until she bought four copies. REALLY I needed more sleep. And really really she was lovely to me.

We spent yesterday going to every bookshop we could find and meeting booksellers and signing storestock--- EVEN HARROD'S! I AM IN HARROD'S! Along with VERA WANG. Anyway. We did that because thats what makes this trip so tax deducta---er, I mean, special. AND in our copious spare time we toured Kensington Palace (WOW) and walked to the famous Peter Pan statue. I have pictures of all this, but am running on batteries as we forgot to bring those converter plugs... I even have pictures of me holding up my book in HARROD's to show the IR---I mean, my parents. I will have Scott upload them later.OH I do not have pictures of the Sussex Police. You wouldn't either.

It's like 4 am here?? Is it MONDAY? We were so punchy and tired all day yesterday, but giddy with thrill at the same time.

OH in the custooms line thing, We were in front of some weirdo American who apparently travels to London all the time as an ambassador for making-Brits-hate-America.

Him: This your first trip? Business or pleasure.
Me: Scads of each!
Him: Oh. Well. it's okay. I mean, They speak English. It's a good place to be, if you can't be in America.
Me: .....

Later I slipped a note about him to the Sussex Police, so THAT man won't be a worry anymore.

We ate at a PUB, by the way, Because they had beer there. And BANGERS AND MASH!! and MUSHY PEAS! It was grand.

Everyone here says Brilliant the way Americans say Cool. Scott and I plan to take it up when we get home.

Anyperson in America: Blah Blah something cool Blah
Us; Oh, that's brilliant. They say that in London, you know. Where we just went. They say it all the tme and we were there four days and it was brilliant OH OOPS there we go again, see we practically became natives! Want to see our SLIDES?

OH We passed the Victoria and Albert and stood looking at the pitted stone walls. Scott indicated the huge chunks of stone missing and said, World War Two...

He was right. We put our hands into the holes that time has worn smooth and looked the building, imagining what it went through, and yet there it still stood, strong and lovely. It was sobering and amazing and a little like feeling up history.

I love it here.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:13 AM | Comments (8)

Don't Mess With The Sussex Police

Forgive how scattered this --- I am sleep deprived and on battery power so have maybe 20 minutes and can't proofread...

The Sussex Police were at Gatwick Airport with Sub. Machine. Guns. I don't even think they were SUB actually. I've only ever seen guns like these in the hands of Arnold Scwarzenegger. These machine guns were longer than me and had big clear plastic cases full of bullets so big they looked like pencils. Not like NUMBER 2 TEST TAKERS either. I mean, fat kingergarden pencils. And over the loudspeaker, this guy who sounded like a refugee from a Terry Gilliam Film kept saying, "STAY BY YOUR LUGGAGE! If we find your luggage unattended, IT! MAY! BE! DESTROYED!"

"England is SCARY!" I said, bug-eyed from an 8 hour overnight flight---and willing to trade my immortal soul for a toothbrush.
"Don't let the Sussex Police hear you..." said Scott.

Also at Gatwick: GODS IN ALABAMA! I went in and the cover LEAPT out at me. It was both on the front table and in a woman's hands---she was book hunting and had picked it up. I practically snatched it from her, hollering. THIS IS MY BOOK! She looked at me like I was a loon (a loon with terrible breath, no less) and I said, NO NO I MEAN, NOT THIS COPY! I MEAN I WROTE IT! And then I stood there giggling at her and googling my fiery red eyeballs out of my head until she bought four copies. REALLY I needed more sleep. And really really she was lovely to me.

We spent yesterday going to every bookshop we could find and meeting booksellers and signing storestock--- EVEN HARROD'S! I AM IN HARROD'S! Along with VERA WANG. Anyway. We did that because thats what makes this trip so tax deducta---er, I mean, special. AND in our copious spare time we toured Kensington Palace (WOW) and walked to the famous Peter Pan statue. I have pictures of all this, but am running on batteries as we forgot to bring those converter plugs... I even have pictures of me holding up my book in HARROD's to show the IR---I mean, my parents. I will have Scott upload them later.OH I do not have pictures of the Sussex Police. You wouldn't either.

It's like 4 am here?? Is it MONDAY? We were so punchy and tired all day yesterday, but giddy with thrill at the same time.

OH in the custooms line thing, We were in front of some weirdo American who apparently travels to London all the time as an ambassador for making-Brits-hate-America.

Him: This your first trip? Business or pleasure.
Me: Scads of each!
Him: Oh. Well. it's okay. I mean, They speak English. It's a good place to be, if you can't be in America.
Me: .....

Later I slipped a note about him to the Sussex Police, so THAT man won't be a worry anymore.

We ate at a PUB, by the way, Because they had beer there. And BANGERS AND MASH!! and MUSHY PEAS! It was grand.

Everyone here says Brilliant the way Americans say Cool. Scott and I plan to take it up when we get home.

Anyperson in America: Blah Blah something cool Blah
Us; Oh, that's brilliant. They say that in London, you know. Where we just went. They say it all the tme and we were there four days and it was brilliant OH OOPS there we go again, see we practically became natives! Want to see our SLIDES?

OH We passed the Victoria and Albert and stood looking at the pitted stone walls. Scott indicated the huge chunks of stone missing and said, World War Two...

He was right. We put our hands into the holes that time has worn smooth and looked the building, imagining what it went through, and yet there it still stood, strong and lovely. It was sobering and amazing and a little like feeling up history.

I love it here.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

September 3, 2005

Mercy on the Side

TODAY! I am leaving for England! For England! For England!

Things I am excited to eat, even though I don’t really know what some of them are:

Bangers and Mash (no clue)

Toad in the Hole (This is EITHER an egg fried inside toast or a mysterious sausage)

Bubble and Squeak (no clue, but who wouldn’t want to eat that? It sounds cute and friendly.)

Pie and Mash with Parsley Liquor (no clue, but it has PIE in it. And it has LIQUOR in it. Sign me up.)

Lancashire Hotpot (no clue)

Ploughman’s Lunch (Bread and cheese and a bit of pickle. I have it on good authority that one needs to eat this with beer)

Here is a list of all the things I categorically refuse to eat, even though I don’t really know what some of them are:

Kidney Pudding (Just reading the words makes me smell pee)

Bacon Roly-Poly (Down here, a Roly Poly is a BUG. So.)

Pease Mash (A sauce of boiled peas that some places put on fish and chips---it’s been described to me as “finger soup.” )

Black Pudding (THIS IS SOMETHING MADE OF PIG BLOOD AND LARD! IT IS FOR BREAKFAST!!!! I USE ALL CAPS TO INDICATE THAT I AM SCREAMING!!!!!)

Stargazy Pie (This is a fish pie and that seems fine except it is called stargazy pie because the fish are cooked tails in, heads up, which indicates that the HEADS are still on the fish and the GAZY part of the name indicates that the EYES are still in the heads. I can’t eat things that look at me. Or even things that look at the stars. I can’t eat things that look, period.)

Marmite (It is brown and in a jar and makes me think, inexorably, of creamed marmoset.)

Oh wait. I am from the South. Her we eat hairy slime (commonly known as okra) and we invented the Fried Dill Pickle. I have relatives who routinely say, “Slop yer aigs around in them grits, honey, and then sop up the yallar with your biskit!” We have Mullet Fries. We came up with CHITLINS and have been known to PICKLE the FEET of perfectly nice pigs.

I probably need to set this rock down and get out the windex so I can polish up the walls of my pretty glass house.

Next time we speak, I will be across the pond.
I WILL TAKE PICTURES!

Posted by joshilyn at 8:25 AM | Comments (11)

September 2, 2005

Lost Email

Somehow about 25 unanswered emails have disappeared from my box. I cannot find them in trash or anywhere. If you invited me to something or need something and sent an email to me in the last 48 hours and have had no response, PLEASE resend. The worst part: Two were from readers being kind enough to write and say lovely things to me, one reader here in Georgia and one in the UK. I am answering here:

Dear fellow Georgia Main Coon Cat Owner and Dear Succinct Southsomething UK Person,

THANK YOU for taking the time to write me. Mail from readers is the best dern part of any day. I would love to write you back, but The Universe ate your mail. I am distraught. If you see this, please resend.

All Best, Cheers, You're Pretty, Ack, and with the exact amount of warmth and good humor that is appropriate to our relationship, I remain your,
Joshilyn

Posted by joshilyn at 11:48 AM | Comments (3)

Humble Bumble

One of my regular blog-and-coffee morning reads, Fresh Eyes , is talking about bookstores and humility in response to NYT best-selling novelist Tess Gerritsen's 8/24/05 (scroll down) blog entry about her spiritual slaughter at the hands of Hawaiian booksellers. OH MY FRIENDS. Let me tell you, you don't have to go Maui to get thoroughly belittled! If you want to understand the smallness of your space in the universe, all you have to do is drive down the STREET. People in your home town will quite often be happy to oblige, because, hey, nothing good can come out of Nazareth! Of course, given my druthers, if one HAS to be humiliated, I say, better to do it in Maui and then comfort yourself with a GIANT hollow pineapple filled with rum and melon liqueur and juices and plastic mermaids and teeny tiny umbrellas.

Mine for Summer: I heard from no less than three people that a local store was out of my book. This store is the CLOSEST bookstore to my house that exists (if you do not count a beloved small independent children's bookstore). These three people ALL went in to PURCHASE gods in Alabama and couldn't. I heard this from these people over the course of two weeks, so the store had apparently been out for quite some time.

I went by near the beginning of August. I snagged a bookseller who was near fiction, introduced myself, explained that I was local, asked him if he had read it, asked him what kind of books he liked, he listed some authors that led me to think he would probably like my book, so I told him so. I asked him to read it, asked him to help readers find it, told him why he might like it ETC. ETC., just talked about it with him and made sure he knew people had come to the store wanting to buy in the last two weeks and did they have any on order and I would be happy to sign their stock when it came in and ETC. ETC. ETC.

I left feeling better. He seemed like a good guy, a READER you know? I am always disheartened by booksellers who say "Oh well, I don't read very much," when I ask them what authors they like. This has happened more times than you would imagine! It's like a devoted environmentalist selling cars..."Oh well I wouldn't drive one of these air poisoning death machines for a million dollars and think that anyone who does is going to spend eternity on a spit being slow-basted by the hounds of The Arch Deamon Mechasadaic, but if you have 20 thousand bucks and don't mind destroying the earth and all, I would be happy to fill out the paperwork that will charge you exorbitant interest AND damn your immortal soul...Want some organic soy gum?"

ANYWAY!

On the way out I see they have a HUGE DISPLAY SHELF up of Local Authors. RIGHT at the front of fiction. Seriously, except for NEW RELEASES and BEST SELLERS, it's probably the nicest placement in the store. They have put EVERYONE who lives in Georgia up there---even people who I KNOW live in ATHENS and SAVANNAH. And all the books have big LOCAL AUTHOR stickers on. Pretty much every Georgia author who comes out in hardback from a NYC house is up there. Except um ... one. That would be the one who lives 7 miles away. If you are this store, you cannot GET a more local than me. BUT OKAY THEN!

Honestly? My feelings were a little hurt. I'd been in the store before when gods came and had introduced myself to other booksellers there. BUT I thought, well, maybe it WAS up there and they sold out? But I can't help but notice there is no HOLE where another book could go...The shelf is full.

A week later, I go back to follow up. Still no copies. Not on the local author display. Not anywhere. I go and talk to one of the booksellers there again, the fiction section manager this time, intro, ask about book. OH yea, she says, people come in here and ask for that book a lot. Let me see. I will go ahead and order some right now!

I watch her order five copies, rush job.

I mention the local authors table and she says, But your book says it's in Alabama.
Me: Yes, the book is set in Alabama, but those books aren't all set in Georgia. They are just written by Georgia authors.
Her: But your book says Alabama on the cover.
Me: But....yes but. I know the book is set in Alabama, but... I live 7 miles away.
We look at each other for a minute.
Her: Okay, I guess we can put you up there.

Went back yesterday. No on the display. No copies in the store.

Hypothesis one: In the grand scheme of things, I am simply not that important. These book sellers have a lot of other things to do, and fixing my stupid little personal problem of hurt feelings fell off the radar. Perhaps I should get over myself.

Note: I don't much LIKE that hypothesis. Let's move on.

Hypothesis Two: One day, all the employees of this bookstore were in a van heading out to get coffee together and talk obsessively about their favorite local authors who live in Savannah, and I was not paying attention and I CUT THEM OFF in traffic and one of them took a picture of me with her cell phone camera and then took the picture to her FBI agent boyfriend who ran it through some database and I came up because I had to get fingerprinted and SCREENED before I was allowed to work in my church nursery and he sent her the info back and they realized I was a local writer and they said, OKAY WHENEVER SHE COMES IN JUST BE POLITE AND THEN DON'T ORDER HER BOOK. OR ORDER IT IN FRONT OF HER AND THEN IMMEDIATELY CANCEL THE SECOND SHE WALKS OUT. AND THEN WE CAN GO IN THE BACK AND LAUGH AND LAUGH AND THROW MORE DARTS AT HER PICTURE! Because OBVIOUSLY their lives revolve entirely around THE HOPE THAT THEY WILL BE GIVEN THE A CHANCE TO RUIN MY DAY.

Yes, hypothesis 2 seems much more reasonable.

SO in the hopes of fostering peace between me and this cult of book sellers who clearly spend WAY too much time thinking about me, allow me to FORMALLY SAY:

Dear alla ya'll at the bookstore,

I am so sorry I cut you off in traffic. Let's be friends! PLEASE STOCK MY BOOK AND PS I AM LOCAL. I AM SO LOCAL YOU COULD SPIT AND HIT MY HOUSE FROM YOUR JOB, and in fact, you probably do. Please stop, that's gross. Please put me on the local authors shelf! I love you!

XXOOO KISS KISS HEART SPARKLE DIAMOND KISS TWINKLE XXXO,
Joshilyn

I am leaving for England tomorrow and I will be doing quite a bit of drop in stock signings. I am sure to run into book sellers who don't know me from Adam's Housecat, and I am certain to be humbled again but, I have two BIG comforts:

1) There is no London bookseller who can POSSIBLY spit far enough to hit my house and
2) If THEY will make me feel 3 inches tall, they will at least do it using a RAWWWWWWther sexy accent.

Between these comforts and the actual getting of a TRIP TO LONDON, well. Never shall I say this job don't got no perks!

Posted by joshilyn at 11:31 AM | Comments (10)

September 1, 2005

The Snail of Good Omen

I AM SO FREAKING CHEERFUL I MAY POP!

I was looking in the newt tank today and noticed a TINY TINY SNAIL tracking around with his adorable little feelers out, industriously cleaning the newt tank. A MYSTERY snail! Where did he come from? I gave serious thought that perhaps those 4th century BC scientists may have been onto something with that whole "Spontaneous Generation" theory....But then I remembered that a couple of days ago we got some underwater banana plants at PETSMART, and I betcha this snail was secreted in the leaves. Now he is named Mycroft, and I sincerely enjoy him. I enjoy snails in general. I like 'em in the garden, I like 'em in my newt tank, and heck, I even like big fat French ones cooked up in butter and garlic.

Mycroft is The Snail of Good Omen, because right after I discovered him, I got a note from my UK editor...gods in Alabama has been officially out for about two weeks there, and it just today showed up on HEATSEEKERS. That's a list of the fastest-selling books that missed the best seller lists by a snail's breath. AND GODS IS NUMBER THREE ON IT. *pant pant* Let's say it together, shall we? In a breathy little Marilyn kind of voice:

Thrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee.

Great Britain, oh my best beloveds, is named GREAT Britain for a reason. I state catagorically and as undisputable fact that the UK flows with honey and the milky milks human kindness and everyone likes them best. If Great Britain was a color it would be SUNSHINE YELLOW, and if Great Britain was an Animal it would be a sentient lion, and if Great Britain was a girlfriend of mine she would wear my size shoe and she would NOT look fat in those pants. And obviously, I mean, so obviously that it hardly need be said, if Great Britain was a JRR Tolkien Character, it WOULD NOT BE A HOBBIT. It would be Legolas as played by Orlando Bloom. (Sidebar: Yum.)

All this, and a FREE SNAIL! I am having a VERY good day.

ALL THAT SAID, there are people who are not having a good day today. Not at all, at all. I'm so horrified by what's going on in New Orleans that I finally had to turn the TV completely off and go watch Mycroft instead. It's blackly awful. I am very conscious today of my blessings...not least among them, knowing where everyone I love IS in the world. We are not currently in mortal peril. We are dry and comfortable. We have fresh water and working toilets and a nice home to come to whenever we get done doing our little businesses out in the world, and I when they arrive, I will have fixed them all Laura's Organic Beef cheeseburgers on Whack-job Spelt buns with cauliflower and a nice salad. Thousands of people right here can't say ANY of that, and those are just the BASICS. That doesn't even get into the perks and blessings, like access to the internet and new, sassy boots and Godiva Chocolate.

If you want to help, you can GO HERE.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:47 AM | Comments (7)