October 31, 2005

The Fast Train to Crazy Town

There was that weird dream and the resulting belly-button gazing, and then, just when I was becoming unendurably self-involved and repulsive, it got worse. My mental illness number had ALREADY left the building, but this morning it attached a jet pack to its butt and blasted out of the stratosphere. It zoomed so fast away from dead-level zero that it PROVED Einstein's special theory of relativity as it applies to speed and time and by 7 AM, I busy was being crazy in the NINETEEN FORTIES.


I spent the period usually devoted to breakfast trying to drive every fool who has bothered to love me either away or equally insane by weeping and handwringing and threatening to fall down dead of despair and total brain failure. WHICH I STILL COULD, by the way.

If the blogging is slow for the next week or two, assume that I am SPARING you the crazy. And it is BIG HATEFUL BORING CRAZY. You might want to send me thank you notes. And chocolate.

SAMPLE OF HOW BIG THE CRAZY IS HERE: I lost my keys, which are actually the SPARE keys because lost my ACTUAL keys for the 300th time last week, so now with the spares gone I have NO keys, and I took Maisy to my room, put on Dora very loud and waited until her brain had been entirely sucked into Nick Jr Land, and went down the stairs, where I worried she would still hear me, so I went down MORE stairs into the cesspit that is currently our unfinished basement and there I lay in the sawdust and old bug parts and wept and wept and wept and wept and wept and WEPT over these keys. I called Scott and got his machine and wept into his machine. I called Lily and got Lily and wept into her ear. I called upon God to infest my skin with boils as punishment for being such a repugant human smudge of key-losing worthlessness. I wept and wept and wept until I was so snot-choked and hopeless and unable to breathe that I had to go up a flight and puke.


AND the worst part was that it was not until that point, the snivel point, that I began to suspect the keys weren't the real problem...

Lily just then called me back.

Her: Better?
Me: Well. I am no longer asking God to smite me to spare the Earth my stupidity. So. *snivel*
Her: You know none of this is true, right?
Me: *snivel snivel* It FEELS true.
Her: You called me this morning weeping and screaming, and I hadn't listened for 4 seconds before I thought, "Did she start drafting a book recently? Oh right, she did." And then I starting buffing my nails until you wound down. You always do this.
Me: I do?
Her: Oh Lord, yes. Always.
Me: No but, I do? You aren;t saying that to make me feel better?
Her: LORD yes, this is just, like, imagine the book is a little tiny baby growing deep inside you and---
Me: If you do a birthing metaphor, I will be forced to hire thugs to kill you
Her: And when the baby is ready to come out, you must have a terrible gush of liquid ruin your sofa---
Me: I sent the thugs my Amex number.
Her: In this case, puke and snot from crying so hard. And then you have to be in in screaming, contracting agony and holler and carry on---
Me: The thugs are coming.
Her: so loud it irritates the neighbors. And me. And Scott. As soon as you PUSH THE NOVEL OUT you will ---

At that point thugs burst in and garroted her. It was a swift and merciful slaying, but only because she refrained from using the word "muse."

I got off the floor and hosed all the tearstains and snot off the carpet and retrieved the oblivious Maisy and gave her yogurt. Scott came home with new keys he had made from his set. I dragged him out of the kitchen into my office, leaving Maisy behind to ply her spoon.

Me: Do you think this is about the book?
Him: Um....duh.
Me: Really?
Him Honey. You always do this.
Me: I DO?
Him: LORD, yes.
Me: *sniveling* How do you put up with me?
Him: *brightly* Look I got you NEW KEYS! Aren't they SHINY!

Then he took Maisy to pre-school and I sat down at my computer and all of a sudden Chapter 1 of the new book, which had up until now been a hodgepodge of repulsive jokey one-liners and meandering action, snapped into focus, and I found a VOICE and a NARRATIVE DRIVE and a DAMN good Jesus Bug Metaphor, and realized I had enough words to stop DRAFTING and begin REVISING and I here four hours later I own a working draft of a Chapter 1 that I kinda want to make out with.

HERE IS WHAT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND: If I do this every time, to the point that my loved ones EXPECT it, why don't I remember this and PREP for it? How do I get blindsided like this? My Mental Illness is apparently the Old Faithful of Yellowstone Naitonal Crazy Park----So if you KNOW it is going to blow at fifteen seconds after high noon, then what kind of lobotomized monkey-child runs and sticks her face over the hole the second the clock chimes twelve? Shouldn't I, here on book the fifth, be able to find a way to BRACE for it and get to the part where the book gets drafted WITHOUT the "snivelling key losing weep-til-you-puke with no idea that this is about the book" part? A stitch in time and an ounce of prevention and all that...and yet. Every single time.

Pass the Halloween mini-Twixes please, and if you could sprinkle some grains of Prozac on top like it was rainbow Jimmies, that might be good, too.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:40 PM | Comments (13)

October 30, 2005

What It Means

I woke up this morning very "grompy" (as Maisy says), very out of sorts, because I had this horrid dream.

I had (or I was) a siamese twin. I was very angry with my twin. More than angry. In fact, I did not like her as a person. Things had deteriorated so far between us that I was SUEING her for smoking and eating greasy fried eggrolls every day. And I couldn't talk to my lawyer because she was always in the room, obviously. She refused to plug her ears and hum. It was JUST enraging.

I woke up in high dudgeon and have been stomping around ever since...

WELL, a handy interpretation dream engine thing online (which I am sure is very scientific and accurate because I GOOGLED IT and my google search gave me this dream dictionary AND 278 million links to pR0n, so, how much more legit than that can you get?) was pleased to offer me insight.

It says this: "To see twins fighting in your dream, represents a conflict between the opposites of your psyche. One twin signifies emergence of unconscious material and suppressed feelings, while the other twin represents the conscious mind. There is some situation that you are not confronting."

I wonder what that is? I haven't a CLUE what the inner turmoil might be about because I am as self-aware as a log. Regulars will remember I believe that the examined life is not worth living, and if I try to practice good mental health and actually KNOW what is turmoilizing me, I get very bored, and I also don't write.

BUT! Usually I know when something is bothering me, even if I don't care to inspect what the actual bother is... NOW I have apparently moved to a whole new level of zen-crazy, where I am SO non-self-aware that I am in conflict inside and DO NOT EVEN KNOW IT. And yet the one non-porn link I got off my google search INSISTS that I AM HAVING TURMOIL, so clearly, I AM.

If I could figure out what the turmoil IS, I would put the suppressed feelings and the conscious mind in bikinis, fill a vat with melted butter, and let them wrestle it out. I could put the resulting film up on the web for innocent google searchers who simply want a recipe for lobster to find. Because a google search without 278 million unwanted pR0n links is like a dream interprepetation online dictionary that doesn't have ONE DARN THING to say about the meaning of greasy fried eggrolls. And I strongly feel the eggrolls were SIGNIFICANT. Any thoughts on that???

It did have an entry on SMOKING: "To dream that you are smoking, indicates that you are trying to shield yourself and others against your emotions. You have trouble letting others in."

Which is POO because I am letting you in RIGHT NOW, aren't I? And even asking your opinion on eggroll symbolism! BAH, look, I am too grompy to be around people even VIRTUALLY, so I am going to quit whining and go back to bed before you all rise up with torches and pitchforks and beat me til I play nice.

Yish. Being in inner turmoil and not knowing it is VERY tiring.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:52 AM | Comments (13)

October 27, 2005

GCC: 3 Questions with Megan Crane (PLUS! Return of the Truly Humongous Lizard)

Looking at the cover of Everyone Else's Girl the REALquestion I wanted to ask Megan Crane was "Don't you just get poisonously HAPPY every time you see that AUTHOR OF tag under your name, indicating that this your SECOND book?"


I wonder if it makes her feel really for truly like a grown up, or an actual novelist, now that she has TWO books out? Because, see, I get poisonously happy looking at the BETWEEN, GEORGIA cover...that "author of gods in Alabama" tag line makes me feel SO... legitimate. But I didn't ask, mostly because I suspect Megan Crane of being cooler than me. Heck, after my last four blog entries, I kinda suspect Madeleine Alrbright of being cooler than me. HEY, say what you like about Ms. Albright's illustrious career, YOU KNOW she can't carry off really slick rock star sunglasses. You and me both, Madeleine, but at least YOU don't sleep with a Ken Doll with a hand carved laser gun duct taped to one hand and wearing nothing but kilt made out of a "HELLO! my name is..." sticker with "Joss Whedon" and some little hearts and sparkles drawn on by hand in purple marker. NOT THAT I SLEEP WITH ONE OF THOSE OR ANYTHING. I swear that doll is SCOTT's.

Oops, sorry honey. I meant to say, "action figure."

ANYWAY, I sat virtually down with the very cool Ms Crane and plied her with three less offensive questions about her second book. Everyone Else's Girl is the story of Meredith Mckay, who proves that, while you CAN go home again, it may suck once you get there. Library Journal really liked it -- they said, "In her second novel (after English as a Second Language), Crane shows a growing depth. Her characters are human and flawed, and Meredith sees some unflattering aspects of herself. This makes the novel work-there is warmth without being smarmy and hope but no perfect solutions. And the humor we enjoyed in Crane's debut bubbles up here, too."

JJ: I find the title intriguing -- how did you come up with it?

MC: The title comes from the Tori Amos song, "Girl," from her album Little Earthquakes which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums of all time. "She's been everybody else's girl," Tori sings: "maybe one day she'll be her own." This pretty much sums up Meredith's journey!

JJ: Heh. See, a COOL person would have gotten the reference. Let's change the subject! Your cover is really, really striking, and I am assuming the image is somehow thematically important (jumping through other people's hoops...?) and not literal, which makes it my favorite kind of cover. Can you talk a little bit about how the cover relates to the book?

MC: The cover seems to be all about the theme of the book-- jumping through hoops, trying to be perfect, aiming to please. I think women are particularly likely to contort themselves into some image of what they think women are supposed to be. Meredith certainly does, and I love that the cover suggests all these things in such a whimsical way!

JJ: I know you are an an "organic writer," (someone who writes their way into a book instead of working from an outline) Can you talk a little bit about your process and what you thought the book would be versus what it became?

MC: This book went all over the place. There were extra siblings at one point. Adultery. Violence. I wrote about two hundred pages in first person, then decided it should be in third person, so I went back in and changed everything. I wrote about three more scenes and decided that no, it belonged in first person, so I had to change it all back. I thought it would be much, much darker than it turned out to be. This was one time the organic process was more hindrance than help-- the current version is thanks entirely to my brilliant editor!


Meanwhile, in other NOT TO BE MISSED NEWS, the truly HUMONGOUS LIZARD reappeared, and I mean the WHOLE thing, not just PIECES. He was peeping out (cheerful and un-cat-vivisected) from behind my orange chair, having been living all wily in the den for DAYS now. I snatched up my handy tranq gun that I keep on hand to control rowdy children and darted him, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom Style. After a long crashing chase through the underbrush, the sedative worked and he went down. I scooped him up in a tupperware.


LOOK, here he is by my ten pound barbell, so you can get an idea of how TRULY HUMONGOUS he was. (Scott outlined him because he is hard to see through the lid.)

Then we tagged his ear, and released him into his natural habitat: Aka my azalea bush:


Posted by joshilyn at 10:15 AM | Comments (14)

October 26, 2005

Snap, Crackle, Pop, Nice Neurons

If you read comments, you know Cornelia Read, right? She also writes for Warner, and her first novel, A FIELD OF DARKNESS is coming out next summer, and LORDY but it is good. SO anyway, for no reason, I have taken to calling her "Paris Hilton." Yes, to her face. She calls me Nic. It has been going on for so long now, I think I may have to go blonde. It has been going on for SO long now, I think Cornelia and I should get our own show. WE NEED TO HAVE A SHOW. It would have segments about books and segments about newts, and segments about stalking Joss Whedon that would lead to us having a puppet sidekick named "Mr. Eel" who would be made out of one of Joss Whedon's used tube socks.

And now YOU say, "Joshilyn, you are avoiding work by nattering on about Paris Hilton and socks and having a show. GO! Write Chapter 4."

And I do not answer, because I am sure I do not know what you are talking about....

ANYWAY I told Paris about my shameful behavior with the boots and the multiple BEERS (I don't even LIKE beers!!!) at the Myrtle Beach Writer's Conference, and SHE asked Lee Child (who was there drinking a suspiciously clear liquid out of an icy rocks glass) if I did any table top dancing or woke up in the sand with a mime and several trained dogs resting their heads on me as if I were a pillow or whatnot, and LEE CHILD, who is an internationally best selling author, BY THE WAY, said I behaved like a PERFECT LADY. Mostly. So, are you going to DISPUTE LEE CHILD'S GOOD WORD? No, of course not. Therefore, wipe away everything I told you about Myrtle Beach. I mostly sipped tea, pinky extended, and talked about my charitable works with The D.A.R..

And anyway, why are you bringing this back up? CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT I AM TRYING TO WRITE A BOOK HERE---I know it LOOKS like I am lying on my sofa in my work out togs (having not yet worked out) hooking back halloween Mini-Twixes and watching game show network, but NO! I AM A WRITING A BOOK. Secretly. In my head.

Also, I need a baby. Yesterday my baby said UTERUS and that makes her officially not a baby anymore. It happened in this way... She said, "God made me?" And I said, "Yup." And she said, "How did he make me?" And I said, "Mommies have a special place in their belly, called a uterus, and that's where babies grow. And I grew you in there, until you were all ready to come out and be Maisy, and then we went to the doctor and got you out." And she said, "Do I have a uterus?" And I said, "Yes, you sure do, because you are a girl." And she said, "One day I will make a little tiny baby in my uterus" and I said, "Oh that will be fun, but just first finish your masters degree and marry a nice man who really likes you." And she said, "Okay," so THAT'S all settled, thank God, but then I realized she had said Uterus and therefore she cannot be a BABY anymore AND I HAVE NO BABY AT ALL. Just CHILDREN. WAH!

And now YOU try to make some sort of noise about how I currently have no time to BREATHE and do I really want to have a ba---

And I say, SHUT UP, I DO TOO need a baby. And I can totally write a book and have a new baby. In FACT, I am writing a book RIGHT NOW. I am writing a book on the INSIDE. Where it counts.

And now you should probably offer me a cookie. Or a sedative. And send me back to bed.

PS. If you are someone who shouldn't be reading this, like, say, MY EDITOR, don't panic. I am not knocked up. And I AM writing a book. I totally am. I am writing a book IN MY HEART.

May I offer you a Mini-Twix?

Posted by joshilyn at 8:31 AM | Comments (20)

October 25, 2005


Guest Author Jennifer O'Connell actually sent B4B winners DAYS AND DAYS ago, but sadly, due to Hurricanes and server issues, it never made it to my inbox. SO! She re-sent. The grand prize winner shall walk away with a signed copy of Jennifer's book OFF THE RECORD which was the inspiration for this month's theme.

Here's Jennifer:

First of all, this was not easy! Really, I didn’t expect the entries to be so wonderfully diverse and interesting. I wish they could all win, because it was obvious that they all put a tremendous amount of thought and heart into their blogs. Everyone did an amazing job linking songs to our lives, and their stories were so honest, I was just blown away. But, because I have to pick, here are my top three:

1. Just a Normal Day

2. Red Shoe Ramblings

3. Milliner's Dream

Thanks, and please let all of the entrants know how amazing I thought they were. Really.


Posted by joshilyn at 9:15 AM | Comments (5)

It's Just a Jump to the Left....

Yesterday's blog sparked several impassioned e-mails defending an eventual Buffy/Angel permanent liason, and I responded with nuclear Spike bombs, and I was in the middle of a spewing vitriolic anti-Angel invective when suddenly I realized....this is SO hella geeky. Even for me. I might as well join the international Scrabble Circuit or try to actually WIN the old Doom Patrol CAN METAL MAN AND CRAZY JANE EVER REALLY BE TOGETHER (aka Do robots have penises?) argument or spend four years and 80 frame by frame viewings drawing myself a working schematic of the Death Star based on what is visible in A New Hope...I am a sad sad, sad, sad person, and I am going now to Wal-Mart to purchase myself a life.

The new life I am purchasing will NOT revolve around Joss Whedon as sun, but it WILL include a passionate love for all his projects. It's just that little jump to the left, you know, the one that bounces you into Crazyland, that we are seeking to avoid. PS: If you recognized the title as being FROM A SONG, that's fine, and if you are currently HUMMING the song to yourself, that's fine, but IF the title compelled you to go upstairs and put on your Dr. Frankenfurter Flunkie costume and begin dancing, you are deep, deep, deep within the borders of Crazyland, and you should put on some jeans and come to Wal-Mart with me. Just saying.

Yesterday Scott and I saw this commercial for a mousetrap that's like a giant version of a roach motel. It's a little circular boxy thing, and mice go in, but mice do not come out. And you cannot SEE the dead mousey. The commercial showed two ceramic windup mouseys, and one went cheerfully into the black box and cheerfully never came out, and one went into a "traditional" mousetrap and was cruelly broken into skittering ceramic smithereens in this horrifying and visible way, and then the narrator of the commercial said, in ominous tones, something like, "Which do YOU want to clean up, missy?" which led to visceral mental images of chipping dried mouse spatter off the floor and toting tiny, shattered corpses to the garbage.

On the surface, it seems like it's a good commercial. But ... it doesn't really explain how the box thing WORKS. Mice go IN, but mice do not come out. WHAT HAPPENS IN THERE? Once you get the traditional mouse-trap visual out of your head, the box gets kind of...ominous. Still in a post-Serenity Whedonistic glow, we first hypothesized that perhaps there is a tiny vortex in there that transports mice to a hell dimension. A tiny vortex that smells like cheese. Or a small tribe of Cannibal Mice, so that you are actually bringing MORE mice into the house to eatthe first mouse. Or maybe there is a vengeful, miniature sadist who, once the mouse is in, stuffs a jester hat on his head and starts bricking up the entrance while cakling about obscure wines. It doesn't bear thinking about, and I am passing on both the new fangled mousetrap AND the traditional mousetrap in favor of the The Classic.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:55 AM | Comments (11)

October 24, 2005

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon

Dear Joss Whedon,

I love you. I would very much like to have a bunch of your babies. Scott says I can. In fact, Scott is looking for a discount uterus on e-bay so he can have a whole bunch of your babies, too. Serenity is perfect, a perfect movie, ballsy and fun and with a big, lovely heart, and it was the cornerstone of the perfect date I had with my husband on Friday. Thank you.

Whatever you do next, I will watch it and buy and love it and own it, forever, even if what you do next is a scene by scene remake of Dallas (sort of in the 1998 Ann Heche/Vince Vaugn Psycho mode) and you do every season all the way up until whoever you have playing Victoria Principal gets out of the shower and we realize the whole last season was a dream so Patrick Duffy can live, and then at that point, YOU DECIDE STICK WITH THE SCRIPT, and make the whole last season a dream so Patrick Duffy can live AGAIN, and you don't even make him undead. If you do it, I will watch it. Then I will buy it, every season, on DVD, and watch it AGAIN. That, my friend? That's love.

I make this solemn vow partially because, let's get real, you have never done one thing I didn't enjoy, and yes, (shamefully! shamefully!) that includes the ill-fated Buffy movie from the 80's starring Dillon from 90210 and PeeWee Herman in a surprisingly good turn as a one-armed bloodsucker who was channeling KISS rock star hair. I list here the reasons, in order, that you have won my moderately frightening devotion:

You made Buffy, THE MUSICAL
You made the Buffy ep, HUSH
You WROTE (the hybrid space-western language, Oh JOSS!) and directed Serenity
You hired the brilliant Jane Espenson
You let Spike come back, once, twice, three times, and then again from the fiery grave on a whole 'nother SHOW even.

In fact, in my POST SERENITY glow, I FORGAVE you for the Buffy "I am not yet COOKIES" Speech, and that's a BIG step for me. That speech led me to believe you have it in your head that if anyone were to end up with anyone, it would be Angel and Buffy, and oh, Joss, no. It is Spike. BECAUSE COME ON, did you WATCH the episode where they tore up the house and the boy loved her when he had no SOUL, Joss, cut him a BREAK. And perhaps the cookies speech was a herring, because if the sudden insta-sister-for-Buffy season taught us anything, it is that you are Mr. Misdirection and to always always always trust you, and so I WILL, Joss. I DO, Joss, so much so that I would show up in a SPIKE FOREVER T-Shirt to watch a mini-series titled BUFFY AND ANGEL, THE WEDDING, if you wrote and directed it.
I would.
I will.
I promise.

With Slavish Devotion,
Joshilyn "Joss" Jackson

Posted by joshilyn at 7:59 AM | Comments (10)

October 21, 2005

What Those Holes Are For

Maisy saw this dime-sized, dark, yicky HOLE in one of the drop ceiling tiles at church and it upset her. She likes things tidy. And pink. So she was fussing and fretting about the hole to Scott.

Scott: Holes are not bad Maisy. Some holes are useful. Why, you have some very useful holes in your face, even.
Maisy: I DO NOT!
Scott; Yes, you do. Look here is a hole. *touches her mouth*
Maisy: *indignant* That is NOT A YICKY HOLE. That is my MOUTH.
Scott: Here is another hole *touches her ear*
Maisy: Daddy. That is NOT A HOLE. That is my ear.
Scott: And you have two holes in your nose.
Maisy: My nozrils!
Scott: Yes. And do you know what those are for?
Maisy: Yes! For putting my fingers in!

And she jammed her little digit up in there practically to the second knuckle, by way of demonstration.

Maisy has just been FULL OF IT recently. Like yesterday afternoon, right before I left for Jasper, I heard her call cheerfully from the den, "Mommy! I found some lizard!"

Some. Lizard. Chilling words, but it turned out to be a lizard-part-free hairball yacked up by the cat as a clever halloween prank. So far neither the total humongous lizard nor any shred of him has resurfaced. May it always be thus.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:58 AM | Comments (8)

October 20, 2005

1) Look! 2) Lizard! And 3) What Those Holes Are For

1) LOOK!

Okay, You know I have been dorkily excited ever since foreign rights started selling on gods because I wanted to see all the different covers? Yeah. Well. Double dern the eyes of Anne Twomey, but her cover design was SO good, every other country has been USING it because...how can you beat it? You can't. Look, here it is in SPAIN:


And you saw the UK one, which looks VERY like the Warner edition because British is a VERY similar language to American. Why, you can hardly tell those two editions apart.

Thank God for De Boekerij bv in Amsterdam! PEEP THIS:


They may not USE this cover on the finished book (The book is not out yet. That's just an image in the catalog, and that Anne Twomey cover is just. so. sexy. that they may use IT.) I like this one, and small wonder. My editor AND her assistant AND my husband took one look at this cover and said to me, "I bet you wish you owned those boots." And you know what? I am a little bit in passionate love with them. I would also like that skirt to go with them, and I have nothing against the moss green cardigan, either, while I am shopping off my cover. The title translates as THE THREE PROMISES OF ARLENE because I am not sure "What's new in Alabama" is a hot topic in the Netherlands.

In fact, the first time my editor at De Boekerij brought the book up at a staff meeting, the publisher said, "Alabama? Hrm. Do they still have that over there in America? Hrm, I think, NO." So she couldn't buy it. BUT! She brought it up the next month. And the next. And the next. And the NEXT, until it was clear that she was really passionate about it, and then they changed the title and now here's my book, all dressed up in a new cover with orange boots on. That's what a good editor does -- fights for your book in the house. I was so blessed and lucky that my book made its way to Xena-Warrior-Editors at Warner and Hodder in the UK, and now look, here is another one. I seriously want to mail her some chocolate or one of my children.

AND this edition has-never-before-seen blurbs! Martha O'Connor, author of The Bitch Posse, apparently said THIS: "Koop DE DRIE BELOFTES OF ARLENE! Je zult er green spijt van krijgen."

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS! Heck, I am not sure MARTHA knows what it means. But I sure like looking at it.


Here on the home front, I am awaiting a special delivery of "pieces of lizard." I am not enthused.

What happened was, yesterday Sam said, MOM! LOOK! A HUMONGOUS LIZARD!

So I ran into the den just in time to see a TRULY HUMONGOUS garden lizard run under the sofa. This lizard was 4 or 4.5 inches long JUST IN HIS BODY with another 2+ inches of tail. When he stood up tall on his legs, he was a good two inches high. HUMONGOUS.

Now look. I LIKE lizards. Actively. I find them charming. I LIKE reptiles and amphibians of ALL sorts really. ANIMALS get a BIG TIME pass on my "Nature bores me" soul-deadness. I LOVE habitats and little alive things that creep about. Heck, my house is full of NEWTS. On PURPOSE. I can't tell you how often I have to stop here in our wooded, stream-filled neighborhood and get out of the car and carry some stupid turtle or another the rest of the way across the street before a less reptophilic driver mows it down. And we've had MANY snakes, both great and small, show up in the back garden, and my response has been to say OH! EDUCATIONAL! LET'S GO IDENTIFY IT! Except the one time it was a copperhead, and then I calmly separated the head part from the body part with a shovel. The end. So. Reptiles don't freak me out. A WHOLE lizard in the house, even a humungous one, sounds like a fun opportunity to play lizard rodeo and release him somewhere more appropriate.

I told Sam to watch him and went and got a broom (to chase him out from under the sofa) and a bowl (to catch him in) and prepped for Operation Rescue Humongous Lizard. Maisy followed me with worried eyebrows:

Maisy: That lizard is big.
Me: Yes. Humongous.
Maisy: Mommy, you catch him. Catch that big lizard, and put him in the trashcan.
Me: Lizards are nice! We don't put lizards in the trashcan.
Maisy: Okay. ... Mommy? Can you put him far from me?

So maybe reptiles aren't HER bag. But Sam and I, we like 'em FINE. Sam got so excited that he left his post to see what was keeping me. And when we got back with the Lizard Round-Up Equipage....there was no lizard. I have No idea how something so MASSIVE could vanish that fast. But it did.

And so now I am expecting "parts of lizard" to show up. Probably in my bed. Because my cat, Schubert, LOVES me, and he likes to bring me things. Or parts of things, anyway. His opportunities for gifting me so are limited as he is an indoor cat. But he has every now and again managed to escape to the great outdoors and play woodsman to my evil queen, bringing me back his version of Snow White's heart in a box. Except it usually the whole chest cavity, and he forgoes the box and places it directly on my pillow.

With a lizard this big, all I can think about is how MANY pieces it could be divvied up into for multiple gifting fun. A lizard that size could be vivisected into up to TEN large-enough-to-be-recognizable pieces. Maybe TWELVE. That's enough to ruin my pillow and a sheet set and the comforter and all my dern shams and mayube even the DUST RUFFLE if he works it right. I am, frankly, horrified. I am trying to keep the cat in the same room with me and monitor him until the lizard resurfaces. Wish me luck.

3) GAH! SO out of time. I will tell you WHAT THOSE HOLES ARE FOR tomorrow.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:34 AM | Comments (16)

October 19, 2005

Game Over

Aimee Parrot wins. She guessed 3, 4, 5, and 12 were false, which gave her three out of four correct answers AND victory. Someone DID say I looked like Bernadette Peters (and okay---we both have small mouths that never stop talking, so...) but as anyone who has ever popped over to my about the author page can attest I don't look a THING like Jessica Rabbit, and even less like Jessica Simpson. SO. Those two were right.

And AIMEE was the ONLY one who figured out 12 was a BLATANT lie. I could NEVER hate my chocolate brown four inch heeled knee boots! NEVER! NEVER! ALthough after the first two hours standing up in them, I DID begin to hate my feet.

No one got that 13 was another big fat lie. I took TWO steps onto the sand and thought, "I am going to ruin my chocolate brown four inch heeled knee boots and that is absolutely unacceptable, diatomaceous phospherons acting lovely or no diatromaceous phospherons acting lovely." Because there is the beauty of the earth, which, as you know, tends to leave me cold, but THEN there is the beauty of prime footwear, which can move me to absolute TEARS.

SO, ignoring the facts...

(1) I was in a brand new VERY straight, VERY short skirt
(2) I had been drinking for hours
(3) I was in four inch heels...

I clambered and heaved myself up onto a sea wall and took them off. I am sure I looked CHARMING doing it, and I am only sorry that no one was there to FILM the moment and turn it into a HOW TO BE GRACEFUL documentary they could show at the Bolshoi. You know, kinda help the ballerinas out.

I tucked my darlings safely under my arm and walked the beach in my stocking footies, which were, of course, SHREDDED (not quite as shredded as my dignity after that sea wall climb, but CLOSE), and why I didn't take them off as well is a mystery that shall remain unsolved until Umberto Ecco pens The Name of the Boot and explains it in some convoluted and Catholic fashion, a task that is beyond me.

Congrats Aimee, and footies...R.I.P.

Posted by joshilyn at 1:31 PM | Comments (5)

October 17, 2005

Keepsies True or False

While we wait to hear who won B4B (Judge Jennifer O'Connell is touring, so we shall be patient like spiders...) Let's play round 2 of CONFERENCE TRUE OR FALSE. In Saturday's PRACTICE round, all those things, every one of them, was shamefully true. Even the butt thing. *sigh*

This time, we play for keepsies --- Prize is the long-ago promised signed UK edition of gods in Alabama.


-- If you were personally AT THE CONFERENCE, you cannot win.
-- No less than 1 and no more than 5 are false. Just write the number(s) of the FALSE ones in your comment. That's your entry. First to list all the Falses without listing any of the Trues wins.

1) Three people separately told me I look like Joan Cusack.

2) One person told me that, in my glasses, I look like Merryl Streep.

3) One person told me I look like Bernadette Peters.

4) One person told me I look like Jessica Simpson.

5) One person told me I look like Jessica RABBIT.

6) One person told me I SOUND like Kristin Chenoweth. In Wicked. As Good Witch Glenda. Heh.

7) One person, who was seated at the back for one of my sessions, came up to me with a copy of gods for me to sign after, and did a little double take. She said, "I hope you do not take this the wrong way, but you are prettier than I thought you were. I mean, you look better when you are CLOSE UP."

8) One person overheard me talking about the book and she said, "Wait, YOU wrote gods in Alabama?" And I said, "Yes." And she rallied a bunch of spit into her mouth and seemed to think about PUTTING the spit on me. After a long, spooky, freakishly charged moment, she gargled, "Congratulations" in the iciest tone she could muster through all that spit, and then pretty much turned her back on me. She didn't speak to me or look at me even once for the rest of the weekend and whenever I came into a room she seemed to be galloping out of it. I have NO idea what it was about, but my inner neurotic would construct a whole new 'nother elaborate why-she-hates-me scenario every time I caught a glimpse of her...

9) At 9:45 on Saturday. I went down to the B and N booth to buy a couple of books I wanted to get signed while I was there, and did not see my own book for sale. They told me that they hadn't been able to GET any copies of my book because INGRAM'S (which basically distributes for ALL THE SOUTH) told them they either didn' have or were not carrying my book. I can't tell you how bad this is. A large percentage of my sales are in the south. I PANICKED and left a LONG WEEPY, HOPELESSLY PATHETIC message on my editor's machine. The machine AT HER HOUSE. ON A WEEKEND. I SNUFFLED for the love of pete, SNUFFLED, and asked didn't Ingrams LIKE me anymore? What had I done? WHY! WHY! I had ALWAYS liked INGRAMS? Could we send Ingram's a NOTE asking if they still liked me with boxes to check that said yes and no and maybe? pulepuleweep. Then I went back downstairs and was told they had gotten my book mistaken with another that they had not been able to get. They actually HAD had copies of the book, it was just they sold every copy they had within 30 minutes of opening the bookstand. Heh. I considered leaping on a plane to my editoprs house and doign the Seinfeld-style break in answering machine tape swap, but settled for calling back to leave a chagrined "Um, nevermind. So, how about them Yankees" message.

10) The first thing I did when I got there was lose my nametag in the potty. Then it was returned to me. The second thing I did was lose it again. Into a black hole. They made a hand-written tag. I took it off at supper, put it back on later, wandered around for an hour, and then looked down to see my tag said I was JANET SOMEONE. I took it off and went to find Janet Someone, but lost THAT tag by the time I found her. HEH.

11) When I turned in my expenses, I basically added up my $16 soup-salad-iced-tea lunch as a $160.00 lunch. That must have been SOME good soup, huh? That gave the conference chair the DELIGHTFUL task of approaching me to try and delicately tell me my math might be the TINIEST BIT off. HEHE. How would you like that job? She was very polite and delicater about it, and I laughed and said, "Oh, see, the problem was you asked me to do math in the first place."

12) After standing at the front of a room leading a two and a half hour session, I began to SERIOUSLY hate my chocolate brown knee boots with the four inch heels.

13) After three Amstel lights and half a Mini-Bottle Super Madras, walking down to the beach in my chocolate brown leather knee boots with the four inch heels seemed like a GREAT IDEA, so now I need new chocolate brown leather knee boots with four inch heels.

14) The phospherous was active (although after three Amstel Lights and half a Mini-Bottle Super Madras, I couldn;t remember the word PHOSPHEROUS and called them/it "the diatoms, the light up diatoms, you know they are like diatoms in that they are little, but more, you know, ELECTRIC in that they light up, so not REALLY like diatoms but small like that. Also, I once ate diatoms. In earth. Diatomacious earth. Tasted kinda lemony, for dirt.") I am pretty dern blase about the whole "beauty of nature" thing, but it was SO spectacular that I kept interrupting whoever was speaking to shriek "LOOKIT THAT! LOOKIT THAT!" every time the phospherous popped and bloomed like a firework set off under the waves.

15) I had a SMASHING good time. It's a great conference.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:49 AM | Comments (21)

October 14, 2005

True or False

I am at the literary conference in Myrtle Beach, teaching workshops on characterization and opening lines.
Let's play.

1) There is a LAW in South Carolina that says you can only serve mixed drinks if you pour the alcohol out of the kind of mini-liquor bottles you find on airplanes. They keep trying to overturn this, but the hordcore mini-liquor bottle maker's lobbyists fight it like maaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

2) Mini liquor bottles hold almost two ounces and so drinks in SC knock you down---in fact you can ONLY order Long Island Iced Teas by the pitcher.

3) Today, while teaching the character workshop, I accidentally and OUT LOUD said, "Just write the paragraph---don't worry about making it good. It is going to be bad. All new material you write in 3 minutes is by definition bad, This is stuff you will pull straight out of your butt. Nothing good ever came out of a butt."

4) I had had exactly ZERO of the super-strong SC drinks when I made this statement.

5) I met Lee Child. And Quinn Dalton. And Kimberla Lawson Roby. All of whom I do most sincerely admire.

6) Conferences are Hella Fun.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:22 PM | Comments (16)

October 12, 2005

B4B Finalists? Meet my Friend, Cranberry Lime Flirtini on the Rocks...

Who is speedy? Kira of KiWords, that's who. She picked out the seven finalist in October's Blogging 4 Books contest, which challenged bloggers to tackle the subject of a a personal relationship they feel they had with a song, because they are mentally ill. HEY! MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE! SONGS ARE NOT KITTENS. A SONG CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK, OKAY? A SONG HAS NO EYEBALLS! But whatever, apparently most people like this "music" stuff. I thought it was a fad and would pass---I was shocked it got so much play in the first place. SO, since I am completely dead inside, I obviously was not qualified to judge this round. And Kira stepped up...

KIRA: Oh my LORD IN HEAVEN ABOVE, why did I ever agree to do this? As I said to my mom the other night, "My life is SO HARD, you have NO IDEA." Now, it was midnight at the time, and she was pulling on her boots to go out through the snow to take care of her elderly parents, so she did give me something of...a look. Still.

I read and read and read. I have snippets of seven thousand songs from the 70's or 80's, mad-cycling through my head. I want you to know I took this VERY SERIOUSLY. I made a little rubric by which to score the entries. I kept charts and notes. It has seriously cut into my engagement ring admiring time. DID I MENTION I GOT ENGAGED THIS WEEKEND? Oh, right. I did. Anyhow.

After much agonizing and rereading (my fancy-pants rubric left me with several very close scores, leaving me to writhe and moan and question my rubrickable ability. Shut up, totally a word.), I have culled the entries to the following seven: had a hard time! In no particular order:

Madame Rubies

Through These Glasses

Just a Normal Day

Write Out Loud

Red Shoe Ramblings

Talking To Myself: Poems From Now & Then

Milliner's Dream

Guest Author Jennifer O'Connell has the DAUNTING task of picking the winners, including the grand prize winner, who shall walk away with a hot, fresh (and here hot means "signed" and fresh means "first edition") copy of Jennifer's book OFF THE RECORD which was the inspiration for this month's theme.

Since I had no B4B responsibilities (other than coding 7 THOUSAND links and standing around in a virtual hostess caftan saying, "Oh thanks for coming. Thanks! Thanks!") Last night I took 10 hot, fresh pages from my new novel to my writing group. The pages were so---say it with me--- HOT AND FRESH! that they were practically steaming, but since it was a DRAFT and a brand spanking new one, they steamed more in the manner of cow patties than delicious cinnamon rolls. I was hopiong my writing group would help me FIX that. But...

I was supposed to meet up with my friend Jill for a vegetable plate at the OK Cafe BEFORE writing group. BUT I had to run some errands in unfamiliar parts of town while I was there, and so I built in all this extra time to my schedule. I gave myself a LOT of extra time because whenever I go to an unfamiliar part of town I probably am going to get hopelessly lost, then drive in panicked circles, weeping, until I accidentally stumble across some Atlanta landmark I recognize (for example, The Big Chicken) and then I start over, and then get hopelessly lost a AGAIN, this time in a dangerous area, and then I crash into something, and then I get stabbed in pancreas by roving packs of criminals who will take my purse so that when the ambulance comes no one can find my insurance info so of COURSE no self-respecting surgeon will begin the life-saving but PRICEY pancreatic reconstruction until Scott shows up waving a policy number and a fistful of cash, and then I have to recover from the surgery, and then wait at the boduy shop for my smashed car to be fixed, and then go back to The Big Chicken and start looking for the unfamiliar area of town and get promptly lost again.

You do not need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that errands in an unfamiliar area can take QUITE. SOME. TIME.

But then this weird miracle happened where EVEN THOUGH I DO NOT HAVE ONSTAR I went directly from point A (my house) to point B (some nebulous area of Atlanta that I would not recognize again if it came up to me on the street claiming an aquaintance and greeting me in the European double kiss manner. I'd have to look at it and feign surprise and delight and say things like, "OH! It is, um, YOU! How nice to see, um, YOU!) I DID NOT GET LOST EVEN ONCE! It was UNPRECEDENTED. So, instead of going to OK Cafe I went across the street to this upscale swankified Buckhead Bar because I was in Scott's car and it is CLEAN. I dug around in the glovebox even, and all I found was the pink sheet title thingy and a MAP and some Altoids. If I get somewhere too early in MY car, I have 5,000 books strewn all over the van's floor, a veritable stomped upon library to choose from, and so much trash and flotsam that, if I didn't feel like reading, I could probably dig around and unearth a nice family of refugees living undetected there, or maybe Jimmy Hoffa, to keep me company.

SO. I knew this bar had a shelf of books for drinkers (i.e. a tattered copy of the 7th Stephanie Plum novel, but not one through six, so if you haven't read them, you just have to kinda do a shot and GO with it).

I went in, and was being charmed by Miss Plum, when this writer named Karen walked in. I met her at a gods signing at the Decatur library and remembered her because she's working on a very cool sounding non-fic book for Random House. APPARENTLY, Jill had invited her to join us for dinner, and she has this HORROR of being lost because she always is, and she's a midtown girl so she doesn't know Buckhead, so she left FIVE HUNDRED years early, and arrived at the OK with a clean car and a solid hour to kill, and ended up in the SAME bar trying to choose between the 37th in the Kay Scarpetta series and a yellow hardback of dubious and stained origin.

And I said, "KAREN?" And she said, "JOSHILYN?" And then we figured out the Jill/OK Cafe/Vegetable Plate connection and the Lost/Early/Bored/Proceed To Closest Bar connection. And then -- and when I say this, I say it in the grand epic storytelling sense, like, if Frodo was about to set off to hurl the One Ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, you might say "And so his journey began," but you would mean AND SO BEGAN HIS EPIC JOURNEY TO ALMOST DIE A BUNCH OF TIMES AND SAVE MIDDLE EARTH AND LOSE A FINGER. Like that, see? -- It is in that spirit that I tell you:

We began drinking.

An hour later Jill joined us. (We alerted her by cell that we were not at the OK). Karen wisely STOPPED drinking, but Jill took over for her. An hour later my writing group began. I was busy though. We had just decided that we needed some food to soak up the alcohol, and had cleverly ordered a HUGE platter of wood-grilled pepper balsamic asparagus, because, you know, NOTHING soaks up alchol like, um, crunchy vegetables. Half a drink after THAT I called my writing group from the bathroom of the bar and screamed something about being in a loud bathroom and oops, not really in any solid condition for the working of motor vehicles, THANKS, and did they want to come down and help me and Jill with some drinking we were having trouble finishing on our own, or would they rather stay there and, you know, work and stuff? They elected to work, and they offered to come get me and I cackled like a hyena and said, I AM NOT SURE HOW USEFUL I WOULD BE TO THE GROUP and hung up. Then I went back to the bar and drank off the tiny bit of liquor we had saved for them.

Karen took us to Jill's because Jill was also NOT okay to drive, and Jill and I lay around on her sofa eating FISTFULS of CAKE because (and yes, I know you will find this SHOCKING) the wood-grilled asparagus hadn't done a very good job of alcohol soaking. (I KNOW! It defies SCIENCE!) and I crashed there until the wee hours of the still dark morning or so when I was so sober I could have served on the supreme court. I went back and collected my lonely car and went home.

I wonder if I still have a writing group. That'll be interesting to find out.

DEAR MY CHILDREN WHO MAY ONE DAY READ THIS: In the above story, rest assured mommy is exagerating a little bit for comic effect. Mommy actually had three drinks. BUT, you see, Mommy is a light weight. And her stomach was empty and three drinks affect person more than you would think. You can easily become too hooty to safely drive on three drinks, even if you drink them over the course of three hours. Part of the reason the law says people can't drink until they are over 21 is because adults can REALIZE they have had one (or three) too many. Here's a tip that might help with that: If you find yourself clutching a Stephanie Plum novel in one hand and a cell phone in the other, screaming in a crowded bathroom that your writing group should "chuck it and come have martinis"....that's a HINT that yes, you might NOT BE OKAY TO DRIVE! Once you have even the TINIEST suspicion that this might be so, THEN YOU DO NOT DRIVE. No matter what. You have a designated driver, or you pay the money for a cab NO MATTER HOW BROKE YOU ARE (and belive me, if that's an issue, I will HAPPILY reimburse you) or you call a friend to come get you, or you call Mommy. Mommy will ALWAYS drop everything and come get you, even if you are 1,000 miles away at Stanford. Solemn Promise.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:43 AM | Comments (12)

October 11, 2005

The Amazon Jungle

DISCLAIMER: A lot of the real name and top 1000 reviewers on AMAZON.COM are useful barometers of whether or not you will like a book, because if they give a book 4 or 5 stars, and you look at all their reviews and see they have also given three books you REALLY dug 4 or 5 stars AND have heartily panned that book that made you so mad you stopped reading 50 pages in, glued all the pages together, put it on a stick and now use to kill only the ugliest and most poisonous looking bugs as punishment for its imagery, then you have found yourself a good screener who can help you find the books you LIKE. And Amazon's top reviewer, Harriet Klausner, is starting to show up on book jackets as a blurber. How cool is that? BUT THAT SAID---

The anonymous posting of reviews can allow for some HIDEOUS things to be perpetrated. I remember running across one book with about 20 HORRIBLE reviews, all of which were written by people with plain, regulation, two syllable American names (Diane and Larry and Jenny and Johnny). The reviews all had the same "voice" and tendency to break the "i before e" rule and they all started by saying it was a bad book and then worked their way into speculations about the author's parentage and probable mental disorders and claiming to know the true secrets of the her highly deviant sex life. Um. Yeah. And THAT's not a bitter ex-boyfriend.

Have you ever read Bel Canto? This is a book that had me on the floor, screaming in mingled pain and ecstacy as its myriad perfections set my heart and my brain on fire simultaneously. It's like a Haven Kimmel novel in that reading it makes you wonder why you bother writing when a perfect book already exists and everyone should just sit down and shut up and read Bel Canto over and over, no new books needed. Ever. Thanks. I don't see how you can be human and not love this book. But hey, I guess it could happen. I didn't really like WAR AND PEACE, and I have it on good authority that you can go to hell for that. I don't know WHY I don't like it. I admit it is superbly written and structured and great literature. But I won't be rereading it. It left me dead dead cold and dead. It's a mystery. SO. I suppose somewhere someone with otherwise general good sense could NOT like Bel Canto. I guess. I mean, it is POSSIBLE, in that philosophical "if it can be imagined, then somewhere it exists" way.

If you haven't read it, go read it. Because the review below won't be as funny if you haven't. IF YOU HAVE READ IT, then I present to you this Amazon reviewers take on it:


HAHAHAHHAHAHA. If I were Ann Patchett, I might want that somewhere on the jacket. That's just AWESOME. In a strange way I can’t quite articulate, this review captures EXACTLY what classics in 30 seconds (and performed by bunnies) would be like if the bunnies turned their pink, irreverent eyes upon Bel Canto.

gods in Alabama has only gotten three or four bad reviews (out of like 45 or 46, SO THAT IS A GOOD AND CHEERFUL THING because, you know, you worry yourself sick about this stuff because it’s like Bird Flu, what can you DO. Nothing. Bird Flu and Bad Reviews shall either come or not come, and it isn’t like the “Will the FILTHY litter box cause my fastideous cat to choose to go poo in somethign else, anything, really, as long as it is clean and rectangular, like, say, my empty firewood basket or my left-open underpants drawer?” because if you DID worry about it you would have to go clean out the little box or at the very least go upstairs and close the underpants drawer, and WHO WANTS TO DO THAT when you could instead produce an ulcer by not understanding what’s going on with those diseased chickens in Malasia and wondering when that ONE ex boyfriend that you REALLY did wrong back in high school will figure out that the name on the cover of that book he saw in Sam’s Club last week really is actually you, yes, you, that same girl who made out with his best friend TWO DAYS before the official break up and again not ten minutes after, and he’ll run so fast to Amazon to write TALENTLESS HACK!!! AND SLUT!!!! under the name ANNABEL or A READER that he’ll leaves a smoking track behind him....DEEP BREATH)

ANYWAY my favorite of these is the one that says, “Not much about gods and not much about Alabama, but an awful lot about sex.” HEY! WAIT A SEC! There is a LOT about gods, and there’s so much Alabama that Alabama is practically a character! Maybe this reviewer just skipped ahead to the dirty parts. AND YEAH, OKAY, FINE. Maybe, just MAYBE, that last part is justified in that they probably didn’t have to do a LOT of page skipping to FIND dirty parts (SORRY MOM!) But my narrator is after all a former tramp turned celibate, so her relationship with sex DOES get a lot of play...as does my narrator. RIMSHOT! (SORRY, MOM! SORRY!) SO OKAY! I FESS UP AND ADMIT THE TRUTH OF THE LAST PART, but to further refute first part, Iwould like to point out that a lot of the sex took place WITH small g” gods and IN Alabama. *grin*

My all time favorite Amazon review is of Fanny Flaggs "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," a book I have read probably 10 times and will read with pleasure at least as many times again, should I live long enough. Just love it. I don’t remember the whole review, and I bet it is gone now, but the title was, and here I reproduce it from memory BUT EXACTLY with the weird caps completely intact and the reviewer’s own:

“Lesbians are NOT OK for the youth of america!!!”

I’m not sure what this has to do with the actual BOOK, but as a stand alone sentiment, I couldn’t agree more. I prefer to feed MY lesbians to the hardy and superstition-free youth of Wales and Scotland. Science has proven if you feed AMERICAN youth on lesbians, you tend to get Wendigo.

Posted by joshilyn at 11:16 AM | Comments (11)

October 9, 2005

Linky Love!

Do you know about woot-dot-com? My friend Kevin "Okay, I'll Go Too" Wilson alerted Scott to it. Every day, WOOT has a thingy for sale, only one thing, only a certain number. And they are usually TOYS of the sort that cause my beloved's heart to go pittery-pat-pat: Digicams. Video cards. Joysticks. Boomtubes. It doesn't seem like a site that would attract me. Heck, I don't even know what a boomtube IS. Scott goes to actually SHOP, and according to HIM, you can find some good deals indeed if you check it at midnight and make all speedy with the mousey. But me? I go for the text. The copy. The content. The BLOG. I want to know who writes it so I can send them a package of chocolates shaped like little handbags. BECAUSE THAT IS HOW MUCH I LIKE THAT PERSON. Just go read the hilarious launch event FAQ and see if you don't have the urge to send chocolate handbags, too.

Of course, based on the Gender Genie I suspect the WOOT blogger is male. Not because Gender Genie says the blogger is male. Quite the opposite. I loaded about 10 different entries in there and the Woot blogger registered as VERY likely to be female, every time. But then Gender Genie thinks KUDZU is written by a man, so, on the basis of "Gender Genie is a dork to keep calling me a man," it can't possibly be right about the WOOT blogger. (Dear person in the back with your hand raised, Please be quiet. I am a scientist, and my logic is positively SPOCKIAN in it's incontrovertableness. Thank you, The Management.)

If the WOOT blogger IS male, he probably wouldn't appreciate the perky delightfulness of the little handbags... until of course he TASTED them, at which point he would hide in the closet with the whole box, making smacking noises and mentally elevating the handbag-sender to the rank of food deity. Post mouth-ecstacy-frenzy, he might come to ask why such marvels don't come in some less-humiliating-for-boys-to-be-seen-with shapes, like race cars, say, or little tiny Dewalt power drills. The handbag-sender might slip down a peg or two, but no lower than demi-god or angelic flunky. Because no matter how you shape them, those things are AWESOME.

Today at Faster Than Kudzu, I seem to be playing a little game where I try to make as many long hyphenated word chains as I possibly can. If I am, unbeknownst to myself, playing that game, I suspect I am winning. I am going to try to control myself, but no promises. The "-" key has a strange appeal today. A glow, if you will. An attractive quality, as if it were secreting Tap-Me Pheromones. I am helpless before it, as witnessed to by the word tap-me, which in retrospect ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT NEED TO BE HYPHENATED.

To finish with MORE LINKS (The title is demanding it. The title feels like the "-" key is sidetracking me from linky love and sucking up all the attention. LORD, but Personified Text is TOUCHY. GET A GRIP, PERSONIFIED TEXT! Maybe it isn't ALL ABOUT YOU.) allow me to point out that by tomorrow at midnight, it will be too late to get in on this month's BLOGGING FOR BOOKS CONTEST. There is no time for lollygagging! RUN, FORREST! RUN!

Posted by joshilyn at 5:26 PM | Comments (10)

October 6, 2005

The Word of the Day is in Your Pants

Oh we learn, we learn, we learn until we die. For example, I learned a new word last night. Callipygian. Say it with me...Cal,ee, PIDGE,un. Did you know that it means, "Having beautifully proportioned buttocks?" Hmm? Did you? Oh shut up, you did NOT.

Am I going to hell for getting tickled that the etymology of the word begins "from the Greek?" OR that the sentence in which dictionary.com chose to use the word is something like "the quest for the callipygian ideal?" Shut UP, I am NOT. Probably. Grail, Schmail, I am signing up for the tushie quest...Not sure how to begin. Just how would you QUEST for the loveliest buttocks? Probably in BARS. Bars that don't have enough seating.

After a long debate we decided that you can't use the word to modify buttocks because the buttocks are already implied in the main word. So don't go around saying anyone has "callipygian buttocks." You will just look foolish. People can be callipygian, as can statues, as can, apparently, ideals. In other words, Anything WITH buttocks can be callipygian, but the buttocks themselves cannot be unless the buttocks have buttocks of their own, in which case, allow me to say, "ew." I AM SO GLAD WE GOT THIS SETTLED!

In other news, I am not sure the newt-sacks are viable. We've been scooping them out and putting them down in the pond because Sam's heart was pierced with many knives when we broached the subject of releasing Fig and Spotty. He could not bear to lose Spotty, and then he worried that if we released only Fig, Spotty would PINE. I am not sure newts come standard with PINING EQUIPMENT. They have VERY small brains...how can they PINE EFFECTIVELY with the amount of software you can load onto their little teeny drives. But Sam has so much brain equipage that he can PROJECT pining upon them, so.

If Fig and Spotty lack PINING centers, at least they are FULLY equipped in their newtly pants. More egg sacks appeared. One or two a day. That may seem like a lot, but remember, these two live in a 5 gallon aquarium. What the heck ELSE is their to do? And perhaps Fig looks to Spotty like the Newtly embodiment of the callipygian ideal. SO the eggs piled up, and we scooped and released, we lathered, we rinsed, and we repeated. Then we kinda forgot about moving the egg sacks out. It fell off the radar. Who knows. Quite a few piled up in there, and now I just noticed 4 or 5 are gone. And yet I see no SPAWNS. Perhaps NEW newts are microscopic, or perhaps Daisy and Posy (the smaller, gill dependent, purely aquatic newtlets) are having omelets. I await further developments with baited breath.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:15 AM | Comments (16)

October 4, 2005

gods in Vases with Frosting

I had a great speaking engagement on Sunday, talking to the Friends of the Library back in Pensacola, Florida, the town where I spent the bulk of my childhood. You never know how things will go when you hit your old stomping grounds. You know, the whole "nothing good can come out of Nazareth" syndrome. But it was good. It was VERY good. And look, they had these very cool centerpieces made out of sugar cookies shaped like some of the gods of Alabama. For those not in the know, the first sentences of gods is "There are gods in Alabama; Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus."

So they made god cookies and stuck them on skewers and then embedded the skewers in vases filled with decorative stones---charming. I tried to squelch myself, but was unable to resist asking where the bosom-shaped cookies were...


This book I am working on now may end up being set in Pensacola, if David can live there and have the career I want him to have. Research is veryveryvery stupid and boring, except for the part where you get to talk to cops. DIGRESSION: At a garden party thrown by my friend Barbara, I made the useful aquaintance of a Really For True Homicide Detective, and he is helping me plan a couple of upcoming (and most assuredly fictional) murders. Talking to him was a LOT more fun than figuring out David's place in corporate America---now THAT is deadly.

Here's a weird thing about writing novels: It's going to take me SEVERAL HOURS to work out this secondary character's career path and backstory. I'll know the job David started in and what his education is and where he got the whatever kinds of degrees he needs and how he went from one job to the next, all to end up where I want him to be at the start of the book, and then somewhere in the book there will be MAYBE two sentences or four words or nothing indicating all this backstory, but I have to get it all straight in my head, or I promise you on your end, the reading-the-book end, you won't find him to be a believable whatever-his-job-ends-up-being. And if he does get two sentences of backstory, they are more likely to come off authoritative and seamless if I've put the work in now, so HOPEFULLYyou won't even especially notice them, or worse, stop and go, WAIT A SEC HOW COME HE....

SO, here I am, hip deep in Corporate America and calling my Dad and my friend Jill (who has a corporate husbad) and saying , "Okay, so give me some google terms....what do you call the kind of job you might have if you..." etc etc. The more I research, the more often I fall to my knees and cry out to heaven, THANK YOU! THANK YOU LORD! YOU WHO IN YOUR INFINITE MERCY AND WISDOM DID NOT ACTIVATE THE PIECE OF MY BRAIN THAT MAKES PEOPLE GOOD AT BEING STATICIANS OR ECONOMISTS OR FUTURISTS OR BROKERAGERS OR (IN MY CASE) BROKERAGETTES OR WHATEVER THE HECK DAVID ENDS UP BEING, AND FOR THE RECORD LORD, I DO NOT EVEN REGRET NOT GETTING TO GO TO STANFORD OR WHATEVER UNIVERSITY MY RESEARCH WILL SHOW CRANKS OUT PRIME ECONOMISTS OR WHATEVER DAVID IS, JUST THANKS! THANKS FOR LEAVING THAT BRAIN PIECE JUST AS DEAD AS A LITTLE GRAY WRINKLY DROWNED STONE COLD POND MOUSY. Yeah, it's a convoluted prayer, but it's HEARTFELT. Just reading about what a statistician does makes me want to drown myself right alongside my metaphorical brain rodent.

It is more fun to talk to COPS! I like my research to have killing in it. As long as I don't think about it too hard. It's weird to me to think this is an actual homicide detective who investigates actual homicides right here in rural-ish Georgia. That seems so FICTIONAL to me, so outside the realm of the polite world I inhabit. The one where, you know, we do not kill other people. Even when they make us very very angry or are going to cost us a lot of money or cheat on us or whatever else drives people to kill other people. I like my killing sprees absolutely made up. In real life, I catch spiders and tote them outside, and think the world would be a better place if we all did. So when I talked to the cop, I kept it light, VERY MUCH in the realm of the theoretical. He makes a great first impression --- He seems both balanced and brave to do what he does, and also smart, and understated. He's not much older than me, but he kinda reminded me of my dad. His job would put me in the nervous hospital, though. Real life-wise, I would much rather be a Statitician.

REMINDER: B4B is LIVE. Scroll down to the entry below this one to enter.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:14 AM | Comments (12)

October 3, 2005

Blogging for Books is LIVE! Guest Author Jennifer O'Connell

Welcome to Blogging 4 Books. The Original Rules and the FAQ are hosted on The Zero Boss, because he made it up.

The short version: You blog on a chosen topic. You post a link to your blog entry in the comments below this entry. B4B closes at MIDNIGHT your time next Monday.

If you have no blog, you write the essay and cut and paste it (no attachments please) into an email to Anne Fitten (the Blog-ess behind Edgy Mama) and ask her sweetly to host it for you. Then Anne Fitten sends you a link to your essay and you post the link here in comments.

Your special guest blogger is KIRA of KIWORDS. If you have not read her blog, you should. It has a big, big heart and an equally large sense of humor. Kira will narrow all the entries down to seven finalists.

If you are a finalist, your entry will be read by author and all around cool chick Jennifer O'Connell She will pick first, second and third place. First place gets a signed first edition of her new book, Off The Record


And now, THE TOPIC!

Since Off The Record is about a plain, predictable, responsible woman named Jane Marlow who discovers that a one-hit wonder 12 years ago was written about HER, this month's topic should be about your close personal relationship, real or imagined, with a song. If you, like me, are dead inside and have no close personal relationships with songs, I suggest you lie. You could, for example, write about your close, personal relationship with your childhood dog, and substitute "Tainted Love by Soft Cell" for her name. This will inevitably lead to sentences like, "Ah those halcyon days running through the meadows with Soft Cell's Tainted Love gamboling innocently beside me..." and "Tainted Love by Soft Cell brought back the stick no matter how many times I threw it." But that's what you get for being dead inside.


Posted by joshilyn at 1:24 PM | Comments (34)

October 2, 2005

Blah Blah Euphemism, Blah Blah Dog Toot

I am in Pensacola at my mom-in-laws---aka Nana. We drove down last night to set up her new computer (Scott) and fix whatever Ophelia broke (Scott) and speak at the Friends of the Library fundraiser (me) and spoil my children (Nana.) My children are in charge of eating too many Fritos and watching the movie ROBOTS over and over and over and over and over. We all have our assignments and we are all pleased with them.

Not to complain or anything...but the dulcet tones of Robin Williams ARE beginning to grate. Just a little. And not be judgemental, but when the four little eyeballs of my loin-fruit begin (INEVITABLY) to bleed from staring into the white light of the Holy Television, I am going to have to throttle myself with one of Scott's neckties AND throw myself into the sea to keep from warbling, I TOLD YOU THAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU DID NOT STOP. I SAID! DID I NOT SAY? Which is one of about 100 things I took a solemn vow to NEVER say when I was eight, and enraged, and people kept saying dumb stupid dumb stuff to me about would happen if I didn't blah blah this and stop blah blah-ing that. "Somthing actions, something something consequences," they said, nattering on like they KNEW when they didn't know REALLY, they were just SUPPOSING, and I was NOT going to fall ANYWAY, so I might as well run with a THOUSAND sticks in my mouth, geez.

WHAT IS GOOD: THE TIMES. I got a heads up from HODDER (my UK press). Remember gods in Alabama was The Times book club pick? WELL! I JUST SAW THE INITIAL REVIEW. It was, to appropriate some slang, BRILLIANT. My favorite line:

"...a fast paced thriller written so well that you think you are really reading a slow-burning novel."

That makes me all flushed and giddy, and ever since Scott read it to me, I have been marching around Nana's singing that line repeatedly to the tune of HAIL, BRITANNIA. By about the 4,000th repetition, I began to suspect my mother in law might SLIGHTLY prefer even the dulcet tones of RW. So I stopped. But to myself I am still singing it. Inside, where it counts.

HEY! LOOK! This is me in London standing under Hodder's sign outide their building, about to go be slightly intimidated by the excrutiatingly prettiness of my UK editor:


I include this picture for digressionary reasons that will become clear later but that WE SHALL NOT DISCUSS. In order to explain WHY we shall not discuss them, I offer up this Predigressionary Digression: I have weird notions of propriety. I will discuss ANYTHING in the general, a little less in the specific, and there are a few topics I prefer not to discuss at all in the specific as it pertains to me. So, for example, while I am happy to engage in lively bantersome exchanges about tooting, and while I agree that it is hilarious when the dog toots (especially if he then looks with comical surprise at his rear, as if asking the rear what that triumphant blowing fanfare was) I see no need to discuss whether or not I personally have ever experienced any untoward intestional gasses. I am sure that if such gasses did begin to amass themselves, the angels would come and carry them silently away before we EVER NEEDED TO TALK ABOUT IT. When certain discussions move from the general to the specific as it pertains to me, I get very flustered and displeased. SO. While the inclusion of this picture would make it very easy to move the discussion FROM the general TO the specific as it pertains to me when I begin my future digression, let's just not.

Let's speak in generalities. And if generalities should fail us, we shall always have euphemism to fall back on. I am ALL ABOUT ephemism. In fact, I have left specific instructions that the words VIVA LA EUPHEMISM be engraved upon my tombstone. SO. Here endeth the predrigressionary digression.

What is BAD: As you may have noticed from last week's rather quiet Kudzu, I am having BLOG BLOCK. I can't seem to BLOG. I sit down to blog, and then I have nothing to say, and I begin working on my novel instead. Or I wander off to peer at Samantha on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and call everyone I know to make THEM stare at her so we can speculate about whether or not she has had BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY.

I have two theories as to WHY. (Two theories about why I am blog blocked, not two theories about the WHY of breast reduction. OH! LOOK!


I KNOW all the why's of breast reduction, INTIMATELY, as does any general and not specific person who is both top heavy and athletic. These non-specific people have MEMORIZED the why's as they go back and forth about having it or not having it. The WHY's are practically engraved on their non-specific eyelids, everything from from back pain to black eyes, and they also know all the reasons why not, like the one in a million shot of being the one in a million person who dies on the table during BOOB SURGERY, absolutely GUARANTEEING that something OTHER than VIVA LA EUPHEMISM will be on their tombstone.


So, two theories about the blog block....

Theory 1: I am REALLY tired. The stomach flu followed up by an overnight drive to Pensacola has sapped me of my Vital Essence-y Juices, and as soon as I get home and sleep for 7 illness-free hours in my own bed, I will be fine.

Theory 2: Scott is performing some sort of spooky ritual upon my hapless person as I sleep and SOUL SUCKING the SAUCINESS right out of me. I imagine the sauciness is an orange vapor that comes out of my mouth, and he hoovers it up into his nostrils with great sniffing horks and then says "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Theory one is PURE conjecture, and I am, after all, A SCIENTIST. So I have to give theory two more credence. See, I have EVIDENCE to support 2, which I present herewith: In recent days, while I have been saucelessly unable to find anything blogworthy, SCOTT HAS GOTTEN REALLY REALLY SAUCY. He is usually dry and witty with forays into the land of the wretched pun, but not SAUCY. He says he is not sucking the sauciness out of me, but if YOU were sucking the sauciness out of me, would you admit it? He attributes his new Hollandaisical Persona to my recent rash of shoe shopping.

Me: My shoe shopping? OH, blame the VICTIM, why don't ya. What does my admittedly out of control shoe shopping have to do with ANYTHING?
Him: You really haven't noticed?
Me: Noticed what?
Him: Every time you buy shoes, I **mow the lawn.** (By the by, for those who have not been keeping up, let me say that MOW THE LAWN is probably a euphemism. Those of you who HAVE been keeping up may now chime in with a hearty, "Um, duh.")

I was horrifed to realize he was RIGHT. Apparently, successful shoe shopping makes me REALLY want the lawn to look nice. I feel this is a connection that does not bear close examination, and am sticking with my SOUL SUCKING SAUCINESS NOSTRIL VAPOR theory.

PS. B4B Goes LIVE tomorrow afternoon.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:47 PM | Comments (10)