January 29, 2006

Particle (Wo)Man

MARTHA, I lost your e-mail addy, please shoot me a line if you read this...(Ironically, later in this entry, I am going to try to prove that I am not a flake...)

I have a thousand snippetty little somethings to tell you, so here is a herd of them sent to stampede toward you in random, jostling order.

1) While out of town on his long long trip, Scott ate a horrifying thing. He ate it IN HIS MOUTH. Yes, that's right, he put this OBJECT right into his personal, private mouth and CHEWED on it WHILE IT FIXED HIM WITH IT'S BLANK AND GOOGLEY EYE. I am going to show you a picture, but I will put it in a pop-up because it is too horrifying to view head-on. Click if you DARE.

2) Kira is getting married in February. KiWords is a blog I read regularly, and I hung out with her while on book tour, and she and Mir and I did our own wine-and-Whole-Foods-smoked-salmon-salad soaked version of BlogHer last year at MY house because ONE of use could not whip up the needed enthusiasm for the amount of plane-sitting and hotel sleeping that I, er I mean, anonymous ONE OF US, would have to experience to go to an event all the way in California. I think that certain person had been on more flights and stayed in more hotels in the previous year than she had done in her whole life put together before that and she just wanted to be home. Okay, you broke the code. I admit it --it was Mir. Anyway.

Kira is getting married, MARRIED! In February, and I have contorted my brain into twisty yoga shapes trying to think of some sort of superfantastic present that would blow her out of the water and make her realize just how pleased I am for her, and how excited, and also, how deeply cool I am on the moleclar level to have come up with what had to be the very best wedding present in the history of marriage, because, who is it all about? That's right. Me. And it has been very difficult -- have you ever seen a brain do Downward Facing Dog? No? Well, hint: It freakin' HURTS. Anyway, I was still brain-yoga-ing like a fool when, suddenly, all CASUAL LIKE, Mir shoots me an IM and says, "By the way, I sent Kira a wedding present. It's...A ROBOT."

Yeah. You heard me. A ROBOT. To her credit, she did not TELL me in IM that she was doing the in-yer-face endzone victory booty dance, but I could sense it anyway. I am sorry, but in any game of wedding present rock-paper-scisoors-spock-lizard, Robot is the mythical gift that TRUMPS ALL. There is no object that can even FRONT like it is superfantastic in the face of A ROBOT. I gave up even trying and got her the teapot and creamer and sugar bowl she had registered for, as well as one of the MANY separate and oddly shaped whisks that she and her future husband have inexplicably requested.

DIGRESSION: Kira says I have a dirty mind for looking askance at the, SERIOUSLY, like 9 whisks she asked for, to which I answer, "Whatever, you big fetishist. Glad you found a guy who shares your apparently BOUNDLESS enthusism for, um, WHISKING things."

But this is just sour grapes. Unless I can come up with some Exotic Robot Sex Tea to go with her rather mundane present, then Mir is undisputably the Champion of Being Superfantastic. Sadly, when I google "Exotic Robot Sex Tea" all I get are links back to my own blog. I throw paper, I throw Spock, I throw lizard and rock and scissors. Alas! Alas! STILL Robot wins.


3a) Except I never found out what I was NOT doing in Augusta last week, so either I was flakey enough to schedule babysitting for an event that never actually existed or I flaked. Either way, it qualifies me to be packed by Pilsbury in with the crescent rolls.

3b) Last night the time for the BOOK CLUB CALL I had scheduled came and went, and still I stood in the kitchen cooking up The Beautiful Shrimps and snowpeas while singing an obnoxious little song I made up called, "Oh I am cooking, cooking, cooking the beautiful shrimps! LA! LA!" Basically the whole song consists of that line sung over and over in a bored monotone to keep me from falling alseep and plummeting face first into a saucepan full of boiling parmesan sauce: I hate things you have to stir constantly. ANYWAY, I missed making the call. Luckily I had given them an emergency "Joshilyn is a total flake" number, and THEY called me.

I sloshed some wine into a glass, abaondoned the beautiful shrimps to the tender stirrings of Saint Scott, and did the call. They were a NEAT group with good questions FROM CALIFORNIA. I loved it, quite frankly-- A California book club read-icularly visiting the rural south? How cool is THAT? They could not understand why Arlene's Mama wouldn't GET HELP, hehe. I explained the older rural Southern generation's mistrust of modern psychology and one of them said, "Honey, out here, everybody's Gramma has a therapist." Smart women. And able to NOT FLAKE. Heh. Anyway, maybe I should amend 3 a LEETLE by adding a "this time" or some sort of mocking emoticon to look skeptically at my claim to non-flakiness.

4) In the spirit of shoring up the BELEAGUERED point three, let me now deliver my promised opinions about the VIDLIT and the BOOK TRAILER. Remember them? They are here:

MJ Rose's VidLit for The Delilah Complex

Anne Frasier's Trailer for Pale Immortal

I think they are both hella cool, quite frankly. I like the VidLit a LITTLE better, conceptually. I love audiobooks though, and that's a factor. I am big into audible.com I like how the images hint and evoke while being not too literal. The movie trailer one is HOOKY, though I wanted it to be cut a TINY bit. The IT IS A NICE SMALL TOWN beginning worked for me. The best part was the kid getting out of the car and heading for the house -- I found that part to be EXTREMELY effective and TRIPLE SPOOKY and it made me VERY interested. The last third went on too long without visual movement. BUT the majority of comments were more in favor of the movie trailer format, so what do I know.

I MAY end up doing something like this for the book I am writing NOW, but I am not sure I can justify the expense in the face of "number of likely viewers." MJ is a bit of a grass roots marketing genius and really does a fantastic job of getting the word out for people to see her (expensive to produce, very professional and sleek looking) VidLits. I don't know what kind of exposure Martha Weir's films (She is the woman who did Anne Frasier's movie trailer type video). I think like VidLit she would just do the film and the author has to get the word out. I do think Martha Weir's trailer was VERY professional and beautifully filmed. Either way, Quality work is spendy, and then you have to market the COMMERCIAL as well as the book. Not sure I have the chutzpah and the marketing savvy.

3c) Please note, this is me following through on yet ANOTHER promise to tell you something later. TRA LA!

5) If you only click on ONE link in this whole link-laden entry....let it be this one. I am FLUSHED with pleasure, and my heart keeps burbling something about, "LOOK! LOOK! IT IS REALLY TRUE AND HAPPENING!"

Posted by joshilyn at 8:48 PM | Comments (26)

January 27, 2006


Yesterday morning, Maisy woke up early and came down the hall and crept into bed with me.

CUDDLE ME! She demanded in her most grumptious voice. I gathered her in, a long skinny string of squirming, out-of-sorts toddler. She kept herself busy scraping her toenails down my leg and then fluffing me like a pillow. At last she got me suitably arranged for her comfort and her wiggling stopped. I lay in the dark with her folded up against me, smelling her strawberry shampoo and inoffensive baby morning breath. We had a little whispered conversation.

Me: You are my favorite little girl. I know a lot of little girls in this town, but you are my very, very favorite.
Her: *poking bottom lip out so far a bird could come perch on it* Yesterday you put your favorite little girl in time out.
Me: Yesterday my favorite little girl was naughty.
Her: .....I know. Sometimes I don't understand my heart.

You and me both, honey. You and me both.

I have a CRAM PACKED day as my son is receiving a MEDAL at school for STRAIGHT E-having....oh Lord, but I like that kid and his big spooky brain. SO my working day is cut short and I have a LOT to get done in the next 4 hours. I will shut up now and simply tell you that there isa long interview with me up on the blog of a fellow writer I genuinely admire, aka Nichelle Tramble. I tried to answer her questions seriously (which is always a stretch for me) because they were dern good questions. I mostly did not fail in this objective very much....


Posted by joshilyn at 7:23 AM | Comments (8)

January 26, 2006

3 Questions: Laurie Faria Stolarz

The American Library Association loves them some Laurie Faria Stolarz. Stolarz is the brain power behind a popular series of YA books about a young witch who faces danger and solves mysteries to protect her friends. Think Buffy meets A Great and Terrible Beauty. The ALA has nominated three of the books in her series for Quick Picks for Reluctant readers. The first book, Blue is for Nightmares, was both a Quick Pick and a Top Ten Books for Teens Pick. The third book in the series, Silver is for Secrets was a Quill awards nominee, and in August the fourth book, Red is for Remembrance launched.

Stolarz inked a deal last year with Hyperion/Disney for her first book outside the series. It's called Bleed, and it explores chance and coincidence and the way people's decisions influence each other's lives. It starts out with one girl's decision to betray her best friend by going after her best friend's boyfriend while the friend is away. Bleed will be out spring 2006

JJ: I haven't had many chances to do 3 Questions with an author who writes a series. How do you keep timeline/world you have built straight and characters fresh, growing and yet still themselves from book to book? This is a stretch to call this ONE question, I realize. OOPS! I will continue this thread in Q2, though, as I am so interested...

LS: This is a challenge, but I try to think of each book in terms of one novel. Each novel poses a series of challenges for the main character. Stacey, my main character, continues to grow and learn something new in each book. The thing that she learns - be it self esteem, forgiveness, or otherwise - enables her to accomplish her goal. My readers have really grown close to Stacey because they've see her learn and figure things out. They know her character well. They feel for her and root for her when she needs to overcome some obstacle.

JJ: I saw on your website you just sold a book to Hyperion/Disney called BLEED. This is your first outside the series -- can you talk a little bit about that transition and how this book is different?

LS: While I was trying to sell Blue is for Nightmares, the first novel in the series, I started to write Bleed. I wanted to do something completely different, pushing the YA/adult envelope, exploring edgy material without really thinking about an audience. I experimented with voice, with tense and POV. It was almost like a self-initiated writing exercise that turned into an entire manuscript. It was very refreshing to do something new. I had just spent over two years writing Blue is for Nightmares and another two years editing and rewriting it. I was ready for something fresh.

JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in witch-famous Salem influence your work?

LS: Oddly enough, growing up in Salem, I ignored all of the tourist traps. I'd walk past the Witch House on my way to school and think nothing of it. I'd pass the Witch Dungeon, the cemetary where Giles Cory was crushed to death, walk through Gallow's Hill (the site where the witches were hung) and not give any of it a second thought. For most who live in Salem, Witches are considered everyday people who work, go to school, have families. It isn't anything extraordinary. I never thought I'd explore Witchcraft in my work and it actually happened by accident. I had my main character meditating in front of a candle, not really knowing what she was going to do. Like me, she lived in Salem. People in my writers group linked the candle with the city and encouraged me to go the Wiccan route, which I did. I ended up going back to my roots, learning about passed down home remedies within my family. I also researched the formal practices of Witchcraft and Wicca. It was very rewarding to be able to go back to my roots - go back to Salem - and portray Wicca and Witchcraft the way it was intended, to show the peaceful nature of these ways of life/r

Thanks Laurie!

Posted by joshilyn at 8:31 AM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2006

Another Linky Lurve Day

Mir is taking a walk. <--go read that, and then you will know why I say, "Dude, you should throw money at her. No, not because she is making her G String into a little basketball goal. PERVOS. Because all the cool kids are doing it. And because it is a good thing and a right thing. Also tax deductable. HUZZAH!

The new trend is COMMERCIALS for books, kinda. Here are two, in two different formats. One is one is actual text from the book, read by the author and animated, and the other is more like an MTV music video that had a baby with a movie trailer. Very different approaches. Take a little LookSee, will you, Oh My Blessings? Both are pretty cool, but which approach do you like better and why for? I am THINKING on doing something along this line for my next book, since my brother is a professional artist slash computer animator...

MJ Rose's VidLit for The Delilah Complex

Anne Frasier's Trailer for Pale Immortal

NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT READ THE OTHER COMMENTS before commenting with your reactions!

I will follow up on this and tell you my opinions later I SWEARSIES---(and speaking of this, we are ONE STEP away from full Exotic Robot Sex Tea story time. One of two things that needed to happen before I could tell the story has happened.) I want to wait to tell you my complete opinion until after I hear your input. I will say this: While Southern Gothic is my favorite, I can't read southern when I am drafting---it screws with my voice. Lighter literary contemporary book club fare is my reading drug of choice, and by this I mean, given a stack with Life of Pi, Ulysses, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Tripwire in it, I am dern well going to read all of 'em. But. I will read Life of Pi first. Then Tripwire then Ulysses then Stranger.

AT LEAST one out of every two books I crack is contemporary literary/commercial fiction (with quite a lot of it being Southern if I am not drafting). AT LEAST one out of every five is some form of cop/lawyer/detective book, preferably of the Lee Child/Dennis Lehane school of manly gunplay. Over the course of a year, though, I do read VERY eclectically, settling down with at least a book or two in every genre but pR0n. SO, though one book is in a genre I read much more frequently then the other, I am a potential reader/target audience for both books/advertisements. If you watch them and respond, please say if YOU are the target audience for either or both, and how LIKELY you are to read in that genre, whether the vids make you want to choose this book in particular or not...

Alert Linker and fellow blogger DebR of B4B fame sent me THIS LITTLE GEM.

If you upload a picture of yourself, it matches you with celebrities who look MOST like you. Here is the picture I uploaded:


My results prove that yes, Virginia, digital imaging software CAN smoke crack:



DebR's results are here, and may I say, I think some of HER twins look more like me than MY twins do. I've been told many times I am a bit Drew Barrymore-ish, but no one, alas, has ever accused me of looking like Kira Knightly. May I ALSO just say, I WISH I looked even a SPECK like my number one match, Milla. I think she is about one baby step from being Helen of Troy. She could launch at LEAST 983 ships. Ah well. It is FUN and terribly flattering to be told which supermodel you look MOST like, if not actually LIKE. It is just as true that I look more like Pluto than any of the OTHER planets, and more like a ball peen hammer than OTHER tool. And YET! When Pluto and a ball peen and I go get a peaceful drink together, we are never mistaken for sisters. If you follow me.

IF YOU PLAY, post a link to your MATCHES please. I wanna see.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:21 AM | Comments (26)

January 24, 2006


Monday is my Hell-Pit day. It goes like this:
Get up at 5:30 and work out. Get Sam to School. Get Maisy to Preschool. Work on book for five hours. Pick up Maisy and change her into to Dance togs. As soon as Sam walks in the door, leave for Dance Class. Change Maisy to Street clothes and get Sam in B-Ball Togs. Make dinner and feed kids. Go to Basketball. Send Sam off to the showers and bathe Maisy. Put kids to bed. Watch Medium. Fall into a coma.

I lather, rinse and repeat this every Monday. It's a MARATHON.

SO, yesterday, I was in the middle of the WORK FIVE HOURS part, and I hit a SNAG in the middle of Chapter 7. I immediately quit trying to pass go, deferred my 200 dollars and went back to the beginning of the book ---It's how I work. I never panic, just rewind and tinker until I figure out what happens next. ( <---OMG what a whopper THAT was. Forgive the digression, But I was just rereading this before posting and came across this FAT AND HAIRY LIE. I can't believe I SAID that. Anyone who knows me is ROLLING on the floor howling. I never panic, my BUTT.)

The truth is I IMMEDIATELY panic and then I march around howling to the gods about injustice and what made me think I could write books, or wait I HAVE written books, but what made me think I could write THIS book when clearly it is beyond me and I am a bad person and my pants are still a little too tight ALL THE WAY FROM CHRISTMAS and what kind of a person still has CHRISTMAS BUTT in the LAST week of JANUARY, I ask you, and the only answer is a BAD ONE who cannot write this book and that is JUST the sort of person who should be FED TO WOLVES, especially given that the Christmas butt ALONE could nourish two good size wolves, SO YES! YES! I MUST BE FED TO WOLVES! ALIVE! WITH NO NOVOCAIN! And as they rend my small intestines I should cry out in grateful gratitude, saying, "THANK YOU! THANK YOU WOLVES! THANK YOU FOR SAVING THE UNIVERSE FROM THIS BOOK I WAS TRYING TO INFLICT UPON IT."

Yeah. That's a little more accurate. After the wolves finish, THEN I calmly rewind and tinker until I figure out what happens next. Lordy. So anyway, back to Monday, after the NOT PANICKING *snort*, I go back and I reread Chapter 1. Out loud. Best way to do it.

DIGRESSION THE SECOND: Chapter 1 is, excuse me, approaching gorgeous. This is the converse and EQUALLY ugly side to the whole EAT ME, OH WOLVES thing. When I am bad, I am very very bad, but when I am pleased with myself, I am downright abhorrent. I reread Chapter 1 out loud and had to stop and pretty much make out with myself every other paragraph. Had the wolves come to eat me then, they would have turned up their noses at the unappetizing over-abundance of SMUG I was emitting from every pore. You would have thought I had just written Genesis. Yish. You know, one thing that IS true is that for good or ill, I am almost never luke warm. Hot? Yes, we have that! Cold? Honey, you can get hypothermia off me some days. But if you want Luke Warm, we sold out of that at.....well. Pretty much, birth.

So after basically having to take a moment to be alone with Chapter 1 and rub its pages lasciviously up and down my thighs, I had to deal with Chapter 2, which is Chapter 1's awkward little sister. 2 is PERHAPS a future beauty, but has braces and a monstrous nose-zit just now. I went to work on it, and it obligingly GREW UP for me quite a bit. Grew LITERALLY, expanding and fleshing itself out until I realized it was splitting like an amoeba. This book is, like gods in Alabama, Southern lit built over the bones of Murder Mystery, so pacing is hugely important. I realized Chapter 2 needed to be two separate entities. SO, I made Chapter 2 be Chapters 2 and 3, and then I had to go RESAVE the whole book, moving the numbers. ( DIGRESSION: Let me pause here and answer the silent questions of the technologically proficient: YES, I do save each chapter in a sepearate file. YES, I do know this is stupid and inefficient.) SO, I had to go save the second half of 2 as 3 and the old 3 as 4 and so on, until 7 had magically become 8. I sat back, pleased with myself, until I suddenly realized....I had just BRILLIANTLY OVERWRITTEN the two of my chapters, namely 4 and 5. ('Nother Silent Question Answer: YES, I do know if I had saved it a whole MS this never would have happened. THANKS.) I realized they were just...gone. WEEKS of work. Gone gone for truly gone. Then the next part of the story is sad:

I cried and cried.
Then I thought, "WAIT! Did I save those chaps to my back-up CD?"
I checked my back-up CD.
No. I had not yet done that. My back up stopped at 3. HEH.
I rebooted my eyeballs and set them on "Cry More."
Then I thought, "WAITWAITWAIT. Did I MAIL those chaps to my CRIT PARTNER and YES I DID so they MUST BE in my SENT FILE!"
So I went and looked and I HAD mailed them....but as FETUSES, when they SUCKED, hours and hours and hours and three possible discarded plot trees worth of work ago.
Then I cried MORE.

When I was so dessicated I could not squeeze out any more cries, I went and hurled myself on the sofa and watched Game Show Network and ate an entire ten ounce bag of raw baby spinach. As I chewed my leafy greens, an idle thought wandered through my brain, something about G-Mail. I turned off PASSWORD PLUS and I thought, "Wait. Did I get a wild hair on Friday and mail ALL the chaps to myself over at my G-Mail Address while I was on the phone with Karen, just randomly, not even really thinking about it? Maybe I did? Just in case I was this stupid, and look, I was?"

SO I went and checked my G-Mail account and THERE THEY WERE.

So. Monday was fun.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:29 AM | Comments (19)

January 22, 2006

A Short List of Things I am Missing

1) A clue about what I am supposed to do in Augusta in three days. Remember that thing? ? Yeah, well, no one has ever sent me a cheerful, follow-up "SEE YOU IN AUGUSTA!" note that that might contain a CLUE as to WHAT I am 'sposed to do there and where I am supposed to do it and with or to whom. Once again, if you have ANY THOUGHTS about why I have half of next week on my mother's calendar labelled with the words WATCH KIDS WHILE JOSS IS IN AUGUSTA...well. Some mysterious person or group or institution in Augusta and I would both like for me to show up there.

2) National Skwull Appreciation day. In fact, I already missed it. It was yesterday. (Skwull, for the uninitiated, is A Maisy Word for those sleek-headed and darling fuzzy butted yard-prancers that my father calls Tree Rats.) Who knew Skwulls had their own day to be appreciated? I am going to head out in a few and, even though I am a day late and it is pouring down rain, stand in my yard and appreciate the HECK out of some skwulls. (My dad is here on a visit, reading over my shoulder, and for the record, he says he would like to, "appreciate them through the crosshairs of his rifle." More of a BIRD person, my dad.

3) Scott.

4) In a related miss, My Mental Health, which seems to attach to Scott in a devoted WHITHER THOU GOEST, Ruth to his Naomi way and leave town right when he does. It's been gone a solid ten days and I am starting to make random animal noises at passing cars.

5) Four hours of last night's sleep. I am going to see if I can go find some of THAT right now.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:10 PM | Comments (11)

January 20, 2006

3 and 8

I am lying in the bed, and Maisy creeps in beside me and says, "Are you awake, maaMAA?" She has taken to calling em that. I have no idea where she got it. The emphasis is on the second syllable, and the "a" sound is the same as in ran, NOT the sound in car. It sounds very French Boarding School, and it goes with her haircut.

Maisy: MaaMAA, pick one fing for my song about pertecking you.
Me: Okay. What are my choices.
Maisy: Acrobats.
Me: Is that it? Can't have more choices?
Maisy: Yes, okay. You can pick, Acrobats, or normal bats, or....Skwulls. (Authors note: I think this is Squirrels.)
Me: Hmm. I pick acrobats.
Maisy: (Singing) I'm pertecking you from acrobats, because we are good friends. OH! Amigo means friend, and you are my friend and that's because amigo means friend.
Me: (singing) But not SKWUUUUULLLLLLLS!
Maisy: MaaMAA! Stop ruining up my song!
Me: Oh, Sorry.
Maisy: (singing) But not SKWUUUUUUUUULLLLLS!
Me: That was a great song.
Maisy: I know. It was amazing. Now you can rub my back, please.

That's what 3 is like.

Sam is 8. He plays serious sports like basketball and does math now that I have to make his father help him with because it bores me so (I have to actually THINK ABOUT NUMBERS to see if his answer is right. UGH!) and calls me Mom when I please him and Mah-HOM when I embarrass him. Which I do often. He's smart....talks like a 40 year old accountant, you would not BELIEVE this kid's vocab. It comes from reading Roald Dahl and J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Lemony Snicket. Also, he is on the principal's honor roll (Highest one) so he is also a good student as well as just havign the brain power to be one. He follows through.


Last week, I had a thing I had to do, so I missed taking him to school early on his Wee Deliver Day (Sam is a POSTMAN at his school---quite an honor.) which means he missed his weekly breakfast at Waffle House (a practice instituted by his father, by the way, which I am expected to continue in his father's absence, even though I am off simple carbs and have to get Maisy up at 5:30 too, and she weeps softly all the way there. Maisy likes to sleep until at LEAST seven) ANYWAY. I missed it. SO THIS week, I am on the phoe, the day before WEE DELIVER, and he comes in and hands me a note. I transcribe it for you here:

Dear Mom,
Please remembr that tomorow is Wee Deliver. Last week you caused me to be late. You have to take me to Waffle House. I do not want a repeat of last week.

Then I skinned him, ate his organ meats, and spanked what was left.

TO CONCLUDE: 8 is very different from 3.

And to my conclusion I add this pearl of wisdom-filled advice: Anyone whose age is not AT LEAST in double digits better NOT say to me, "I DO NOT WANT A REPEAT OF LAST WEEK" and still expect to live.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:50 AM | Comments (22)

January 19, 2006

3 Questions: Sheila Curran

It is my unadulterated and screaming pleasure to introduce you to Sheila Curran today. I loved her debut novel, Dinaa Lively is Falling Down. Loved. It. Unadulteratedly and screamingly. I may have even loved it with more adverbs than that. It was one of those impulse buy books. I had heard absolutely nothing about it, didn't know the author from Adam's off-ox. I was nibbling at the edges of new books at I THINK the Anniston, Alabama Books-A-Million, browsing like the little deers browse bark in winter, and I came across hers. The cover was nice, but it was the TITLE that really got me. I bought it. I stuck it in a pile, forgot it existed, then one day maybe a month later was digging through my TO READS and picked it for next. Did I mention I loved it?

When she showed up as a new member of the GCC I hopped up and down and then ran at her sideways and hurled myself at her feet. There may have been a little teeny bit of slavering. Because, did I mention, I DUG the book? I said something to her about how she and Rachel Cusk reminded me of each other, except Cusk has a blacker heart, like if Sheila decided to become a pirate, she might be Rachel Cusk. Anyway. She was quite nice about being called "Cusk if Cusk was somehow NOT a pirate" (which since Cusk to my knowledge is NOT a pirate makes about ZERO sense, but I get nervous when trying to talk to writers whose work I admire...) and simply wiped the spittle off her boot and invited me out for a drink sometime. Clearly I needed a drink.

SO, good writer AND good manners.

Also, she has a rockin' author picture that you can only see on the book. I could not find it on her site to show you, but it cracked me up.


To tell you what it's about, I am just going to quote Shelley Mosely's perfectly accurate and glowing review for Booklist: \

Diana Lively's family has lived in England forever, but now her brilliant but abusive husband, Ted, an expert on Arthurian legends, is being sent to Arizona by Oxford University. Diana doesn't want to go. She is certain that Phoenix is a place where scorpions run wild in the streets, black-widow spiders dangle from every ceiling, and rattlesnakes wait around every corner. She is devoted to the marriage, however, so she packs up the children and heads for what she believes is the primitive Arizona wilderness. Ted has been summoned to the desert by Wally Gold, the "Ammo King," who has decided to honor his late wife by building the King Arthur Theme Park and Museum. Wally allows Diana's family to stay on his property free of charge, and soon everyone has bonded, except Ted. Beautifully detailed and rich in exceptional characterization, from the Betty Crocker-esque teenage son to the four-year-old kleptomaniac, Curran's novel gently reminds readers that fantasy has a place in everyone's life, and dreams can come true. Uniquely uplifting and never didactic, this is a gem."

JJ: What's a "Comedy of Manners?" I DO know, I promise, *PREEN* but it;s fallenout of general use, so what is it, and do you like your book being labeled that way and what would you call it?

SC: Now that is a good question because if I had to define a comedy of manners, I’m not sure I could. I think of plays like The Importance of Being Earnest, but also old Doris Day movies and maybe even books like The Jane Austen Book Club or Le Divorce. I think comedy of manners are about nothing and yet everything. They poke fun at sacred social cows in a way that’s not too mean-spirited but sticks with you. Besides, I had trouble figuring out which genre I would fit in. If Diana Lively is Falling Down were a movie, it would be a romantic comedy, but that label somehow changes when it’s applied to books. Sigh.

(OKAY LOOK, I have to interrupt here. I know she's the author and all, so she gets to say what her book is. BUT! I am the reader, so I get to disagree. I think if it was movie it would STILL be a comedy of manners. I think we should call more movies that get called Romantic Comedies "Comedies of Manners" which, wow. I was all the way through that sentence before I realized I had NO idea how one might pluralize "Comedy of Manners." I think the term has fallen from use and no one knows what it MEANS anymore, which is a shame because I LOVE a good C of M and if more things were marketed as such I would buy them. Other things that are clearly COMEDIESES OF MANNERSES, would be, Everything she listed above and, oh, Much Ado ABout Nothing. Some of Saki. NOEL COWARD! That TV show, Seinfeld. you like that sort of thing, you will SURELY like this book.)

JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?

SC: Wow, well I’m such a slut when it comes to reading that it may be difficult to prove paternity. If I have to choose, I’d say I’ve been influenced more by the messy school of novel writing than by the sleek and taut perfectionists. Flaubert just made me yawn (okay, I can’t remember reading Madame Bovary, but I think of him as a stylist) while Balzac and Dostoyevski and Doris Lessing and Virigina Woolf would keep me up nights, getting lost in their stories. My favorite grad school course was on the Victorian Novelists, George Elliott and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte. I think that’s because they provide the reader with the illusion of a contained little universe which is comforting and predictable and yet rich and intricate too. There are modern day novelists who aren’t considered literary who I adore, including John Le Carre, John Fowles, Pat Conroy, Dennis Lehane, Ken Follett, Elizabeth George and Mary Doria Russell. If I’ve had an ax to grind, it’s with the point of view that story shouldn’t matter, that entertainment is somehow less than, and that escapism is the opposite of literary merit. I love to read for entertainment and my fondest wish as a writer has been to offer readers a brief respite from reality.

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your smartipants title and how you came up with it.

SC: I wish I could say I did come up with it. Kathy Kleidermacher, who works with my editor at Penguin, suggested it during one of their first meetings. I liked it right away, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The title alludes to the London Bridge, which is, of course, where the Ammo King wants to site his theme park, near Lake Havasu city. The rhythm of the words is from a nursery rhyme, which lends a sense of the domestic never-never land of raising small children, and also of the way in which a circle of hands holding together can support a person who is falling down. Since fantasy and fairy tales are central to the story, allowing the characters to find and lose their way, I loved that. Also, of course, the fact that London Bridge was falling down was the reason it got sold to an American entrepreneur in the first place, referring back to the wonderful contrasts between the rich history of England and the brash confidence with which we as Americans will just make ours up as we go along. Who cares if it doesn’t actually belong to us? We like it! Let’s build the damn thing and pretend! Then, in terms of the plot, there are so many ways in which the falling down image is important, including the climax which we cannot discuss further without giving away some important bits.

GO FORTH and buy this book.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:31 AM | Comments (6)

January 17, 2006

Exotic Robot Sex Tea

This entry has very little to do with exotic robot sex tea. I know you are disappointed. SORRY. I am too, to be honest. On the bright side, I bet I get a lot of slavering electronic Chai-pervs surfing in from Google. Tra La. I need to put up signs for them. I need one that says:

and then another that says:
Better luck to you over at http://exoticrobotsextea.com

I hope none of you ACTUALLY clicked that. And in case you did, let me say, it should be a dead link. Because I made it up. At least, I hope I made it up. If it actually GOES somewhere, I refuse to be held accountable for the content. I wouldn't even know what the content might be. It's not a link *I* would ever click. *Superior Sniff* NO, NO, CERTAINLY NOT!

This entry is all about things I cannot tell you yet. TO WIT!

1) Mir is going to announce something later. Maybe Monday. I was halfway through a long, terribly amusing---practically droll ----little epic prose poem, just a little Pulitzer-worthy something I whipped up that was both trumpeting Mir's delightful project AND riffing on Beowulf all while employing iambic pet-tantra-merecat and a big fat scoop of EXTRA onomatopoeia, when I got an IM from her that said, BY THE WAY, DO NOT ANNOUNCE MY SECRET THING BECUASE IT IS SECRET. So. I just deleted it. , I mean, Life's work, Schmife's work. I am sure I will come up with another ground breaking literary form tomorrow.

Or not.

2) Yes, Virginia, there IS an exotic robot sex tea story. But I JUST CHECKED and I am not allowed to tell THAT story yet EITHER. I am being very thwarted, and passing my thwartation down to you in the form of SNIDE GRUMPING. No, this is not like the pink socks. Remember the pink socks? Because I don't. If you came in late, it was this whole thing on the blog where I started to tell a story about pink socks and then could not tell it because of some distraction or pre-emptedness, and then I forgot to tell it for so long and put it off and put it off so that eventually I forgot the actual story.

People kept bringing it up in the comments but I TRULY had forgotten what happened except what I could extrapolate from the title which was, "somethign appened this one time and someone, maybe me, had or was wearing or mentioned pink socks." It was not a terribly interesting extrapolation. SO CLEARLY This is different because even if I do forget the whole story, WHICH I WILL NOT AS I TOOK PRE EMPTIVE NOTES, but even if I forgot and the notes got MAGICALLY LOST the story I extrapolate from "Exotic Robot Sex Tea" must, yes, MUST, be at least more interesting than any story extrapolated about PINK SOCKS. RIGHT? So. More on this topic later. Pinky Swear. Pinky SOCKY swear, even.

3) At this point, you get to get GRUMPY BACK and say, FINE, JACKSON. WHAT THE HECK CAN YOU TELL US THEN...

Ah, so glad you asked! I can tell you the names and URLS of the...

Posted by joshilyn at 7:22 PM | Comments (9)


Rita winning novelist Lani Diane Rich has come through with the winners. Normally, ONLY first place would get a signed first edition of her hip and delightful Chick-Lit novel, Ex and the Single Girl which Booklist says is a "funny, sweet novel ... full of quirky, likable characters and the charms of small-town life"


But Since Lani is SWELL, and since she had a VERY difficult time narrowing the field, she decided that all three places will get a copy. SO. Without further ado, here they stand revealed in all their pink-socked, exotic robot sex tea'd glory:

First Place: Imagine-Create-Become
Second Place: The Rambling Begins (aka I'm Not Cheap, but I'm on Special This Week)
THird Place: Edgy Mama

GRATZ, and all three prizebound placers need to contact me to see about getting their swag!

Posted by joshilyn at 7:18 PM | Comments (7)

January 16, 2006


Dude -- I am kinda having a day. Mental Illness Rise-O-Meters are always on HIGH SENSITIVITY DEFCON YELLOW status when Scott leaves the state for WEEKS AT A FREAKIN' TIME.

On top of the regular, I just got a note from someone explaining how I can use GOOGLE ALERTS so that Google will google ABOUT me FOR me AUTOMATICALLY and alert me whenever anyone says anything with my name in it. TEMPTING, I admit, but also a little bit like hiring a geeksquad to squat silently on top of toilets in every girls room in all of middle school and report immediately via text messaging the SECOND anyone says you are a slut or says some boy likes you or that some boy likes you BECAUSE you are a probably a slut. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as it were, all served up before you even think to go looking via e-mail. Yikes, and no thank you.

For MONTHS and months now I have imposed, in fact, a complete moratorium on googling my name, the name of my first book, the name of my upcoming book, the name of my blog, or anything else that could lead me to read about myself. I don't even check my Amazon ranking number or reviews anymore. (Digression: OH! WOW! THAT WAS A WHOPPER! In fact a NEW review just went up on Amazon titled "little g" gods in Alabama, "capital g," Genius, that makes my heart sing like a ... singing thing. It is truer to say that I don't check EVERY DAY. Or even every WEEK. Just...most weeks. ONCE most weeks. And even at that slow rate, I find I feel dirty after.)

But self-googling has been completely cancelled since before I went on book tour, even. And yes, that includes YAHOOing or ASK JEEVESing too. It was making me even more self involved and egocentric than I already was just from being a writer. WHICH FACE IT -- we all have to be a LEETLE egocentric or how else would we have the chutzpah/balls/ovaries/guts to say I THINK I WILL BE A NOVELIST AND I AM POSITIVE I HAVE SOMETHING WORTH SAYING AND REJECTION DOES NOT STOP ME, IN FACT, NO CLEARLY MEANS YES OR AT LEAST PLEASE SEND AGAIN, TRA LA.

As gods in Alabama prepared for launch, I used to google it and my own name relentlessly. I realized that as I prepared to google myself, my mouth would go dry and my heart rate would increase, TERROR and HOPE at war within my dove-like, tender bosom. DO YOU LIKE ME, I would ask the pretty internets. DO YOU LIKE MY BOOK??? DO YOU? DO YOU? I allowed the positive to feed the uglier bits of my ego and I let the negative hurt me in a personal way. Since I can't seem to grow a thicker skin and I can't seem to balance my tendency with make out with myself with anything more healthy than an equal and opposing dose of self loathing, I decided googling me is just BAD. No googley the selfy.

Also, I have learned I do not have to. If something REALLY good happens on the internets, someone kindly will usually pop me a link and say OH LOOK YAY THIS HAPPENED and then I can say yay back and celebrate the moment with a friend instead of furtively reading about myself in a manner that can only be described with a PG 13 word I won't use here, but it rhymes with schmasturbatory. Also, if something really BAD happens, there are a couple of people who will absolutely send me a link, and make sorrowful tut-tut noises at me while enjoying the heck out of the thought that they may have made my day a little crappier. They are that sort, you know the kind. You have had friends like that, who ones who love it when you fall on your face. The kind Nichelle Tramble blogged about so eloquently...

What about you. Do you google you? Do you use classmates? If you blog, do you technorati? If you are a fellow writer or person with a lot of google hits on their name for whatever reason, do you find you are actually mentally and spiritually balanced and can read about yourself and your work dispassionately? HOW? If you can, then more power to you, and can I please borrow YOUR therapist.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:18 PM | Comments (19)

January 14, 2006

A Weentzy Bit of Shameless Self Promotion

A blurb for BETWEEN, GEORGIA, has landed, and it's from a writer I quite admire (her debut made my top seven---yes, seven this year instead of ten due to attention span problems and memes) so, I'm excited.

“Funny, wrenching, and pitch-perfect, Joshilyn Jackson’s Between, Georgia explores the ways people belong to each other and how far they’ll go to keep what’s theirs. I’ll carry Nonny and her family—the whole tangled, fierce, devoted lot of them--around with me for a long, long time.”

Marisa de los Santos,
author of Love Walked In

AND LOOKIT---here is the UK cover, sort of based on the American one, but all different-like. I dig it. Can you dig it?


We now return you to your regularly scheduled medley of blather and panic.

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

January 13, 2006

B4B Finalists!

Sheryl over at Papernapkin---January's SPECIAL! GUEST! BLOGGER! and a former B4B winner herself---has the seven finlists for your delectation approvification.

They are, in NO particular order:

Edgy Mama
The Rambling Begins (aka I'm Not Cheap, but I'm on Special This Week)
Oh Joy! It's Me
Sometimes Funny Is All I Have
Cynical Optimism

All seven of these entries will be read by lovely authoress, RITA winner, and exceptionally cool friend Lani Diane Rich who will pick first, second and third place.

First place gets a signed first edition of her very funny Chick-Lit novel, Ex and the Single Girl which Booklist says is a "funny, sweet novel ... full of quirky, likable characters and the charms of small-town life". Enterfreakintainment Weekly gave it a B+, and I myself blurbed the living...liver out of it because I liked it just. that. much.


If you want to know what the book is about... Portia Fallon calls it PTE--or the Penis Teflon Effect. It's the way all the women in her family deflect men like ping pong balls. No man has ever "stuck" with a Fallon woman for more than two years, and Portia has nearly surpassed that record. Until her live-in boyfriend dumps her and she realizes she's "four cats and a Reader's Digest subscription away from being totally irredeemable." Now, everyone from her mother Mags to Auntie Vera and Grandma Bev is convinced that Portia needs to find a "Flyer"—a fling—to take her mind off her ex. Enter Ian Beckett, a sexy, smart, and unsuspecting British novelist, who's visiting her small town of Truly, Georgia, for the summer. Then enter once again Portia's ex-beau, who's decided to fight to win her back. Now Portia faces a slippery decision: Which of these men has the right stuff to make a commitment stick?

Lani will have the winners to us next week, so if you wish to begin your illegal off-track-betting-style crime empire by laying odds on B4B, you'd best be getting on with it...

Posted by joshilyn at 2:33 PM | Comments (7)

January 12, 2006

Three Questions with Andi Buchanan (and SEVERAL Contest Results)

LiteraryMama.com is a website that is practically synonymous with "Smart writing about all facets of motherhood." Now its creators have edited an anthology of LM's best writing. I sat down with co-editor Andi Buchanan to talk about all the irons she has heating in her fire...


JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood? (I mean this in a personal way -- for you. Does one feed the other, are they similar for you, does doing one make doing the other harder --- or easier or...

AB: For me, becoming a mother helped me become a real writer -- before I had my first child, I was writing, and had been working as an editor for eight years, but I was terrified of sending my own stuff out and facing rejection. But after having my daughter, I realized the pain of a possible rejection letter was nothing compared to the pain of giving birth without an epidural, so I got over myself. (Also, once my daughter was born, I had something very compelling to write about: the huge identity shift that happens when a woman becomes a mother.)

JJ: Where did the idea for Literary Mama (the website) come from and how did you develop it from an idea into the kind of website that can spawn a published book?

AB: Amy Hudock, who's Literary Mama's editor-in-chief, ran a real-time writing group for women writing about motherhood in California. She and I met after the publication of my first book, "Mother Shock," in 2003, and she was interested in trying to get published a collection of the work these women were doing in her group. However, it seemed like a collection of that nature would need a bigger framework -- not just women from the Bay Area writing about motherhood, but women all over writing about motherhood. Literary Mama emerged from that notion. We launched the site in November 2003, and in January 2005 I pitched the idea of an anthology featuring the best stuff from the site to my editor at Seal. She went for it, we worked with the 20-plus editors all over the country to choose the pieces we felt best exemplified the magazine, and just a little over two years after launching, we have our first collection -- "Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined."

JJ: What's up next for you?

AB: In April, the companion book to my anthology that came out last December, "It's a Boy," is due out: "It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters," featuring essays by Joyce Maynard, Katharine Weber, and other fantastic writers. It's an intense collection, and I'm excited for it to be published, especially because I think it makes such a nice set with the "Boy" book. I'm also working on a novel, and working with writer Miriam Peskowitz on "Mother Talk," which is a series of literary salons organized around mother-writers (both visiting and local) taking place all across the country. (We've had them in Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Charleston, SC; Portland, Ashland, and Bend, OR; Seattle, WA; and Los Angeles, CA.) I'm in Seattle right now on a book tour, and I'll be doing a Mother Talk here, one in San Francisco, and one in Sacramento.


THANKS ANDI! By the way, the contributor list for It's a Girl is awesome, including Amy Bloom, Joyce Maynard, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Katharine Weber....Can't wait.

And now some quick contest results...

I think the serious crazies where you are a danger to oneself and others begins at around 75, and I peaked out at about 70 that day, but that was around noon.... BUT THEN! My friend Karen drove all the way out here from the city to little kudzu coated my house, and she brought me smoked salmon salad from Whole Foods and sat on the sofa with me and looked at my wedding album and SHE IS PRETTY. SO, yeah, while, while I peaked at 70, when the cable repairman arrived, my MI# was a relatively collected 33, and I was only sniffly and puling, not foaming. There was no way to predict, of course, that Karen would be so lovely, but there it is. 33 is the answer.

WINNERS: Ailema, who guessed 33 right on the button, and then EVERYONE else was over except Cele, who guessed 5, but since this is Price is Right style scoring where you have to come closest without going over, Cele takes the silver. Could you two please e-mail me snail addies and I will get your SEKRUT PRIZES out to you, probably at the end of next week in the Great Mailing. If you lost, FEAR NOT! I have a few more of these SEKRUT PRIZES that will be up for grabs in later contests, and by THEN I may even be able to tell you what the prize IS!

I will have B4B Finalists list up TOMORROW. Pinky swear.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:14 AM | Comments (8)

January 11, 2006

Gilbert Goes To Hell

I HAVE NOT READ YESTERDAY'S COMMENTS. I have my NUMBER for the correct time written DOWN. I will close the MI# Contest today at around 2 PM EST, and read the comments and post the winners and I shall ALSO then post a whole nother blog entry interview thing. SO!

So, in this case, is a segue that means, "Remember Gilbert?" Well. He did not remember me. I got this niggling WORRY feeling deep in the pit of my stomach at about 10 AM yesterday. I decided to call Comcast BACK. You can imagine the MUSICAL HOLD waiting that ensued....I love how COMCAST chooses to run an endless loop of chatty be-boppy la la COMCAST commercials as you HOLD... just in case you forget for a second who it is that is eating 90 minutes out fo your day with senseless holding and near constant disconnects. Nice to be a total monopoly, huh?

Reader, I "held." Years later, after my ovaries had dried into withered prunes and my home care companion nurse was giving me a spongebath while I spooned Cream O' Wheat into my toothless maw, I was connected to Beatrice. Beatrice said that whole 2.5 hours I spent being hung up upon by the automated phone system and holding and weeping softly into the shell-like and sympathetic ear of the fictional Gilbert was apparently a catapillar dream of the Alice-in-Wonderland Hookah Variety.

I admit to you, oh gentle reader, that at that moment, no human in the history of humans has ever EVER hated another human with the white hot screaming intensity of the burst of LOATHING I felt for Beatrice. When Cain bashed Abel's brains in over lamb v/s fruit? Nothing to this. Cain had to use a WEAPON---me? Not so much. Truly, truly, she is BLESSED AND LUCKY that miles and miles of Georgia was sitting in between us, or else the hate-fueled rocket of my nuclear force gaze would have melted her head. It would have run like wax and dripped off her neck, hopefully staining and ruining her I HEART COMCAST t-shirt.

Then I realized it was MISPLACED loathing and directed properly toward Gilbert. Then I wept into the phone with Beatrice for an hour, and then BEATRICE, she of the head I tried to melt, moved heaven and earth and several ancillary planets and GOT A TECHNITION TO MY HOUSE by three, as you saw on yesterdays posting time. I love her. FOREVER.

SO, the technician came. He was here for almost 34 seconds. He looked at the side of the house and said, "Oh. Look. Your amplifier is unplugged." He grabbed this HUGE BLACK OBVIOUS DANGLING PLUG THING and stuffed in into the OUTLET that was FOUR INCHES from it....*click* my whole house was fixed. I stood outside weeping with relief and tried to feed him organic veggie pizza from Whole Foods, even offering a handful of my prized darkside M and M's, but he waved me off, saying it was the easiest call he would have all year, and anyway, he had just eaten some Taco Bell.

Can I just say that an hour after left Beatrice CALLED MY HOUSE to make sure it was fixed. Did I mention I LOVE her? I now have a I HEART BEATRICE T-Shirt and a POST IT NOTE stuck permanently to my forehead that reads, "Note to self: It is important to plug things in."

Posted by joshilyn at 7:27 AM | Comments (15)

January 10, 2006

7:42 am

They came and put in the carpet. They also broke my house.

By the time they left, I had no working phone, no alarm system, no internet connection, and three televisions that let me hear 4 out of every 5 words the TV people say and let me see bursts of static interrupted by wavy lines. I also, although this cannot in good faith be blamed on the carpet people, have no husband. Scott is out of town, and WHAT ON EARTH possessed me to let these guys come tear around in my floorboards with no Scott here to fix whatever they inevitably destroyed? Either a random techno-deamon or the stupids. Possibly both.

ACTUALLY, I DO know. I DID NOT, is the answer. I scheduled them for yesterday morning WEEKS AGO, when Scott was NOT scheduled to leave town until Saturday. His schedule changed. As soon as I was told he had to leave late yesterday afternoon. I KNEW they would break something, IN MY HEART, I knew it. I knew! I KNEW! There are two truthy truisms that are never not true:

1) No man is an island, and
2) No house emerges from recarpetting unscathed.

And by "No man is an island" I mean "There is always at least one other man, and then he comes and breaks your cable." When Scott's schedule changed. I called my contractor twice to make sure the carpet-ers could come in the MORNING, and he in turn called them twice, and they agreed YES YES THAT MORNING CERTAINLY, and I thought to myself, "AH WONDERFUL, Scott can fix whatever they break before he leaves," and then the carpet people interpreted "morning" to mean, "About 4 PM, or as soon as Scott leaves the State."


I have no printable response to this.

My contractor, meanwhile, had to go to JURY DUTY. And when the carpet people did not show up, I realized his BUSINESS CELL PHONE NUMBER was on my...computer. Which was in pieces, stacked in my dining room. I called his HOUSE, but he was of course in Jury Duty and did not get the home message until the State of Georgia released him. He had checked his BUSINESS messages throughout the day, but the carpet people felt there was no compelling reason to call him and mention that they might be a little (say SIX FREAKIN HOURS) late, and *I* had not called him, so he had no idea they had not showed.

When he finished that day's Jury Duty and went home and caught on to what was happening, he drove over to my place and let them in (I was at ballet) and then he sat with me until 10 PM. He was pretty mad, too, and I think someone needs to bake him a REALLY GOOD PIE because he STAYED for HOURS while they put in the carpets and broke the house because Scott was not home and it was dark and late and later and then obscenely late and my house was full of men I didn't know from Adam's off-ox who all spoke only Russian and he didn't want to leave me by myself with them. AND when it became apparent that they had jiggled or jerked or split or destroyed some vital little bit of connective cable-y something somewhere, he crawled around outside clutching one of my children's Mickey Mouse flashlights (the only flashlight I could find) and jiggling splitters and routers to see if the TV responded and following the cable lines all through the ceiling and etc. It was black as pitch and that flashlight emitted about as much useable light as one of the REALLY far stars overhead. I'm surprised he didn't break his neck. (DIGRESSION: If you can find a contractor who will do these sorts of things, you should marry him immediately. You can't have this one though, sorry. He is already married to my friend Jane.)

I sat in my broken house, becoming distraughter and distraughter, because while I love my TV and I love my internets, MY MAIN ISSUE last night was being in a house sans Scott with two little children, no working alarm system, and no phone. My contractor tried valiently, but he couldn't fix it. I couldn't fix it. We agreed between us eventually that it would take one of those rare unicorn-like creatures---a genuine cable repairman ---- to fix it.

My mission became to FIND one of these mythological beings, and after the contractor left, I unpacked my wedding dress and put it on in an ill-conceived plan to look virginal. Then I wandered into the woods behind my house, waving ham and spicy mustard sandwiches (the favored food of the cable repairman) and singing madrigals. This proved ineffective. In retrospect, however, I should have kept at it, because I am now convinced that waving sandwiches in the woods is, long term, a MORE effective way to attract a cable repairman that the second plan I had, which was to call Comcast Customer Service.

You know the word COMCASTIC? If you live anywhere within the range of of Comcasts ubiquitous WE HATE THE DISH commercials, then you do, you DO know this word, "COMCASTIC." To quote Mandy Patinkin in the Princess Bride, "This word, I do not think it means, what you think it means..."

DIGRESSION: Here I COULD tell you about how the chain of ENDLESS menu options I selected led to the ROBOT OPERATOR refusing to recognize my phone number, saying I was not a customer, not giving me an option to return to any previous menus, and then hanging up on me. After I realized the system would not recognize my phone number because I was callign from a CELL PHONE and not that phone, which, Hello! Can you say, "CATCH 22" because how can one POSSIBLY call on the phone that is not working to say THIS PHONE IS NOT WORKING? Obviously, you cannot, but if you call from a DIFFERENT PHONE it hangs up on you for not calling from the right number---SEE HOW THAT WORKS??? I bet that realy cuts down on the number of service calls they have to take! ANYWAY! I chose a different menu option, and the 'bot intoned a 1 800 GET CABLE NOW number at me in its enragingly sympathetic contralto and hung up on me. THE THIRD TIME I CALLED I simple refused to press any buttons at all, even the SPANISH OR ENGLISH one, and eventually the menu switched me to hold, and the first service rep I talked to tried to transfer me to the correct department and HUNG UP ON ME, and then I repeated the process, and the SECOND service rep told me a technition would come on THURSDAY and when I began to explain how I would have headed to a mini mall with an ouzi before then she tried to put me on hold to see if she could get me priority service and she ALSO hung up on me, and the THIRD time I called----and what with the no button pressing this third WAIT OUT brought my ON HOLD time to WAY OVER 90 minutes so that it was getting on close to midnight---- BUT! I shall not tell you all these things in any detail because if you have ever called the cable company EVEN ONCE, ANY cable company, then you have had this exact experience, this exact number of disconnects, this exact CATCH 22, and you KNOW you were on hold for a minimum of an hour and a maximum of you-called-three-days-ago-and-are-reading-this-blog-entry-to-pass-the-time-while-you-STILL-hold. SO. I won't go int all that. I will just say that when I called the cable company....

I was at some length connected with a service rep named Beautiful Beautiful Gilbert, who, if a truck hits him, will go directly to heaven immediately without even passing GO or collecting 200 bucks while the truck driver is sentenced irrevocably to be poinked in the buttocks with tridents by the really BURNY demons in deepest hell. I poured out my tale of woe unto Beautiful Beautiful Heavenbound Gilbert, and when he said there was no service rep available until Thursday I just sat there and wept, wept unil I was gagging with it, wept until my eyes felt like they they were made of grit, wept and wept and wept, and he put me on hold ---and this part is key his double Beautifulness and Heavenboundedability -- put me on hold WITHOUT HANGING UP ON ME and THEN, after a brief hold music pause which I assume he used to feed 10 or 12 thousand people with a single special order of fillet of fish happy meal while moonwalking along the surface of the Chattahoochee River, BBH GILBERT came BACK on the line and said he had found me a repairman who will be here today between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm, which is kind of a LONG service window, but ask me if I am complaining. OH NO I am not. I will sit here from 8 until 8 and I will not even BATHE lest I miss the repairman's radient arrival and I will sing the praises of Beautiful Beautiful Heavenbound Gilbert and all his sons, yea, down until the seventh generation, because I CANNOT spend another night alone with no alarm or phone which ups my anxiety which activates my insomnia which can generally be treated and overcome with TELEVISION of which I have none. If you follow me.

BECAUSE LAST NIGHT after I hung up with BBHG, I lay awake wondering if my eyes were melting and if that was a squirrel or a killermans scrabbling around in the attic and counting the number of manical grinning clown faces that are hidden in the patterns on my plaster ceiling (27) and engaging in suchlike other activities until about three AM, and then was up at 6 am to get my son off to school.

Did I mention I got about 3 hours of sleep the night before last, too? Did I mention the part where half of my eye-parts are melted and all the other parts are made out of grit? Just checking.

I finally fell asleep last night in the children's playroom where the TV had the best sound-like eminations and where I could faintly make out the shapes of people (or possibly Yeti) moving about behind the snow and wavy lines. After I got Sam off to school, Maisy was still asleep, so I thought I would go back to sleep too, but I was worried about missing the REPAIRMAN who would no doubt sense I was sleeping and creep past my door on little cat feet at 7:59 and then bound away, never to be seen again, so I tried to set the alarm clock for 7:30 and SOMEHOW I hit this SECRET BUTTON that apparently alarm clocks have that makes them explode into noise. I do NOT know what that button was...it was like I had poked a jumpy cat in his Spook Spot. Ever done that? The cat leaps straight into the air and all his fur poofs out as if he's hitched a ride on some lightning. Well it was like that, only it was an alarm clock and it exploded into UNTURNOFFABLE racket which woke Maisy.

SO. Here I sit, writing a blog entry I can't post anyway and feeling DEEPLY sorry for myself.

JUST TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY: I was 'SPOSED to take Maisy into town today to have lunch with my friends Karen and Maureen and go buy myself ANY CHAIR I WANT (Scott said) at the new Atlanta IKEA. Then this afternoon, I had a playdate with my friend Julie and her kids at Wild Horse Park because we have this weird unseasonably warm gorgeousness fo weather. Instead, I will sit here and wait from 8 to 8 for the service rep and thank BB H Gilbert for the privilege with NO IRONY because I seriously cannot survive another night like last night. Seriously. Can. Not.

LET'S PLAY A FUN GAME. WITH PRIZES! Based on the time at which this automatically POSTS ITSELF (and therefore I demonstrably have working cable) GUESS my mental illness number. Let's cap it at 100, where 1 means you are SO sane that you would never never even THINK of running for a political office and 100 means you are paddling about happily in the blood of the neighbor you just ate. It is as I write this January Tenth at 7:42 AM, and my MI# is currently holding steady at about 22. I am relying on the hope I have gleaned from BBHG. Now look at the time (and DATE) when this posted and GUESS what my mental illness number was AT THAT TIME. You can leave your guess in the comments. I will WRITE DOWN what my mentasl illness # was in the MINUTE before the cable repaiman came (so there is no tricksiness where the answer is ONE because NOW the cable works) The two people who come CLOSEST WITHOUT GOING OVER (like on Price Is Right) will win a small piece of super secret BETWEEN, GEORGIA swag. No, not galleys, sorry --- I do not have two extra copies of the Galleys---I am down to ONE copy and I am keeping it. I had to send my two extras to an author I hope will blurb it and the other is going to the HKNC. So. But this is a cool little thingy. You will like it.

On the bright side? The carpet? Looks FANTASTIC.

Posted by joshilyn at 3:03 PM | Comments (46)

January 9, 2006

Trading Space

Before we lived in this house and my office became "my office," it was essentially a dull but serviceable room. The rest of the house had the previous owner's very definate imprint all over it (Luckily she tended toward neutrals and the kind of taste I like to call "good") but there was an aesthetic, you know? The house looked lived in and loved. Not so much the office. My office was the roomly personification of Sara Plain and Tall. Painted white. No window treatments beyond miniblinds. Here it is with Beautiful Maisy Circa Barely Two standing in it. See how neat? How tidy? How regulation standard and workaday?


When we bought it, that changed. I moved into it. I brought with me Chaos, and Chaos instituted Piles, and Piles Grew into Slag Heaps, and Slag Heaps grew until they intermingled and entangled themselves with each other and became one huge Slough of Despond, and beneath the tattered surface of this nightmare, whole trash-book-importantpaper-mail-toy-shoe societies boiled within themselves and interbred and produced genetically mutated cousin-on-cousin-for-nineteen-generations type spawn and then cruel, inbred ecosystems emerged and and eventually (and if this doesn't signify the beginning of the end, I don't know what does...) a policitcal system was instituted and the old diet Cherry Coke cans (who, like most trash, naturally gravitate toward the filthy world of politics) taxed the living CRAP out of the innocent reams of blank paper.

I SO meant to take a picture of this Swamp of Sorrows phase, but I was prevented from staining your eyes with such graphic images by the same benevolent God who created Basic Human Decency, although admittedly He gave me a pauper's share of that commodity (left to myself, Beloveds, *I* would have shown you) but He substituted a faulty Digi-cam memory disc for my lack of discretion and taste. You should probably release some white doves and say thank you. I did find an old picture of my desk...Imagine a WHOLE ROOM like this, with a little path running from the door to the computer chair, where on a GOOD day you might see the glimmer of one desperately unhappy and oppressed carpet fiber:



Remember when we got all above our raisin' and bought ourselfs some for really true fancypants ART?

Well, I decided to redecorate the office to look like a place where this Picture would want to live. Look at the empty vastness of the landscape...I can't have my SPACE BLIMP CAT CAPTAIN peering out of the frame at the UN EMPTY UN VAST lanscape of my abbatoir of an office and then offing itself in despair.

SO, to this end, I released my inner Edmund Walker and got fabric samples and paint chips and made decisions, and this weekend, we took shovels and put on haznmat suits and cleaned the place OUT, down to the BONES. I am currently sitting in the center of a room with a table in it. The only thing on top of the table is my computer. After we got it stripped, we painted it a lovely color of FLAT PAINT (not semi-gloss! We used actual BIG GIRL FLAT PAINT on the theory that my little children won't be in here all the time runnign their grubulent paws all over the walls oh OH IT IS SO PRETTY FLAT PAINT IS! I had FORGOTTEN!) called Crocodile Tears, and today the table gets moved out and the carpet man comes. My mother is having a seamstress (LOVE! THIS! WORD!) Make me beautiful wondow treatments out of the fabrics I chose (MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME) and buying me a sassy mod-poddy LAMP, and today someone comes to remove the oppressed carpet and put in fresh, virginal, hopeful carpet that smells young and dewy and of such quality that it probably believes it is being installed someplace NICE.

MY JUSTIFICATION FOR DOING IT: If my office looks beautiful, the space will foster creativity, be pleasing to the eye, and improve the quality of life of the many hours a week I spend in it. HA!

MY MOTHER THE IDEALIST'S THEORY: If the office looks beautiful, I might be inspired to not let the first room you see to your right as you enter my house look like crack-addled bears have been living in there in pungent squalor for years and years and years.

SCOTT THE PRAGMATIST'S THEORY: For one brief shining moment there will be Camelot. And I will take pictures of said office and show you, Oh My Best Beloveds, even borrowing a digi-cam if our disc issues do not resolve, and then, slowly, my basic nature will reassert itself and as people come in I will pull the doors gently closed and say, YEAH. I KNOW. BUT THERE'S A GORGEOUS OFFICE UNDER THAT....OR THERE USED TO BE. HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO SEE THE FLOOR OR INDEED, MOST OF THE WALLS OR FURNITURE FOR YEARS NOW.

The Beautiful Office will be like Schrodinger's Blasted Cat, who, if he is INDEED dead is HAUNTING me as I research this novel. That is to say, the office will be alive in theory, but also simultaneously theoretically dead, because who can prove it has not encountered radiation and perished beneath the impenetrable shield of my natural squalor. I bet, in six months time, if you dig under the pitted lunar landscape of my detritus, you will find opposing teams of Theoretical Physicists and Anthropologists living side by side in uneasy, bitter rivalry, squabbling over whose study takes precedence, one-upping each other, jockeying for position, and jealously comparing the size of their....grants.

AH WELL! I say all this to say, Scott is waiting to rip this table and my computer out for the carpet guys. I will have no internets ALL DAY...I'm slightly horrified.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:24 AM | Comments (14)

January 6, 2006

Double Plus Ungood


So you know I have this little page where I say where I am going to be when and suchlike (and it is currently SHAMEFULLY OUTDATED *glances with sad, uncomprehending eyes at Scott*) but I have all my upcoming stuff in a FILE on my computer, right? SO that one day it all WILL be updated, and such, RIGHT?

Well, in THEORY yes. Except that file became so dense with information that it contracted like a neutron star and became a black hole of nothingness.Or, to say again in English: That file, she is no good. That file, she is not openable. That file, in fact, insists it never existed. The only thing that exists is a SHORT CUT to that file, a shortcut that opens to where-the-world-ends, and if you click that you go plummeting off the edge with all the hapless fishes, and if you are quick you can give Atlas a wave as you hurtle past him to your....well, not DOOM, because there's nothing to smack into, so I guess you can can wave at Atlas as you plummet past on your way to do a lot more plummeting.

WELL! LUCKILY! I have all that stuff also copied onto my PAPER CALENDAR, right? Well, In theory, yes. In fact, the PAPER CALENDAR is the sacred thing. If it makes it to the paper calendar, I show up for it. If it is NOT in the paper calendar, I WILL without a doubt flake.

SO today, my mother and I were co-ordinating our January calendars and she said, "And then I will be over to your house on on January 24th so you can go to Augusta.


I was holding the sacred calendar. It was open to January. No Augusta. The date in question was as dewy and virgin-white as any spring-time lambkin. I tried to open my online calendar file thing, and everything I had inputted in 2005 was NOT THERE. I think it has something to do with it being 2006 now, and I have a vague memory of a pop up box with some annoying question about SAVE or something popping up, and me stabbing at the little X to close it. But I am sure that was not IMPORTANT. Perhaps it auto-eradicated the old year when I used it to begin plotting 2006? I didn't panic, because SURELY the Augusta thing would be written in the SPILL OVER JANUARY of my 2005 sacred paper calendar. And you know what? I think it WAS. I also think I had the stupid idea to make CLEAN OUT OFFICE my resolution. So. That old sacred calender, she sleeps among the fishes.

Now I am panicking. DEAPBREATH DEEPBREATH. I say to myself, SELF I say, I can find this out, I bet. There's really only a few things I could be doing in Augusta...Library date, bookstore event, Literary conference or workshop. I went to Google.

Google sent me to the Augusta Friends of the Library website. Their January speaker is Paul Hemphill. (Good choice, but he is NOT me. I can tell by the Y chromosome and the being not named Joshilyn.)

Then I called the Augusta Library directly. I adopted a fake, deep voice and identified myself to the Information Desk Librarian as "The Papparazzi." I asked if I was going to be there. She said, "Hrm well no, Joshilyn Jackson is not mentioned in this month's library news, and even if she was, Mr. The Papparazzi, shouldn't you go stalk someone who is more likely to be topless on a beach in Monoco?" No dice there.

Then I went to the BOOK SENSE website and put in Augusta's zip code. No Augusta indies. I checked the Augusta BAM, the Augusta B&N, Waldenbooks, Borders and out of sheer desperation, somethign called Spotted Cow Textbooks. No, no, no, no, and HUH? WHO IS THIS?

The only writers workshops/conferences Shawguides lists Augusta are Sandhills in March and 21st Century in April, and a google search of ME + Augusta = 500 book review sites that talked about both gods and any of the many fine books by Augusta Trobaugh.

SO. I guess on the appointed date I will drive to Augusta and start rummaging around looking for flyers tellign me where I am appearing...I do not know what else to do. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I AM DOING THERE, CAN YOU PLEASE MERCIFULLY WRITE AND TELL ME?

Posted by joshilyn at 4:08 PM | Comments (11)

January 4, 2006

Whole Hearted

My friend Karen's husband is having affair. With a grocery store. If I lived at Karen's house, I would have one too. *Sigh* Whole Foods sits two miles away. Her husband came creeping in late last night stinking of grilled asparagus, a scarlet smear of organic cherry juice on his collar, carrying a bag of illicit, sexy groceries that probably cost more than a pony.

I know some people who, if The Prize Patrol showed up at their spooky little hovel with the check for ten mil, would go directly out and buy something stupid. Like a Hummer. Or France. That's twaddle. Me? When they come to MY spooky hovel? I will buy a nose bag full of Whole Foods smoked salmon salad made with organic purple onions, the kind that costs 300 thousand dollars a LICK and tastes like the oceanic personification of love. You know that painting of Venus? Rising out of the sea in her clam shell? If you took a bite out of her milky thigh, it might come CLOSE to the perfection of that salad...Maybe.

OH! Also? They have this chicken thing in the case there, this bone-in chicken thing with grilled peppers, and I SWEAR to you it can't REALLY be chicken. Maybe it is a big warm patty of organic butter molded into a chickeny looking SHAPE. Maybe it is made out of solient green. But if it is, and word gets out, I know a some folks the earth might be better of without for the sake of that meal.

Can you tell I have not had dinner yet? I have to go cook sad and inferior Kroger Grouper, comforting myself that at LEAST it is wild caught and therefore doesn't have so much mercury in it that if I stuck its tail under my tongue it would open its little fish mouth and say what my temperature is in a squeaky voice. Which would be creepy on many levels beginning with, "It's dead" and going to, "Wait, I put its sad dead floppy uncooked filthy tail WHERE?" and ending with "WHY DOES IT TALK?" Which brings us back to the beginning where it's DEAD. AND if it is going to be dead and talk, why the squeaky voice? Shouldn't it talk more like that trout on the Sopranos? Personally, I would prefer it to talk like Lyndon B. Johnson. I would trust it a bit more to get my temperature right if it sounded very authoritative and presidential. Also, I think any talking dead fish one has tucked into one's mouth should use archaic language.

I think I am now offically delirious with hunger, and this on a day when the tide of mental illness was already set on "high." This seems like a good time to NOT TALK ANYMORE. Starting....NOW!

Posted by joshilyn at 7:16 PM | Comments (18)

January 3, 2006

B4B is LIVE!

Welcome to Blogging 4 Books. It generally begins on the first MONDAY of every month, but due to the holiday, we pushed it back a day. The Original B4B began on The Zero Boss, a now defunct blog by Jay Allen, who now can be found, among other places, at Blogging Baby. To him we offer the big props, 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 Tuesday.

If you have no blog, you write the essay and cut and paste it (no attachments please) into an email to Ann Fitten (the Bloggess behind Edgy Mama) and ask her sweetly to host it for you.

Sheryl over at Papernapkin is January's SPECIAL! GUEST! BLOGGER! and a former B4B winner herself. Everyone be NICE to Sheryl. She took on the gig last night when Mir sent her a desperate HELP HELP IM because SOME doofus forgot to set up S!G!B!s. Wonder who canoodled the Rover on THAT one? *looks innocent* Anyway, Sheryl rode in to the rescue, and we think she's PRIDDY. She will narrow the entries down to seven.

PEE ESS, If you would like to be a S!G!B! one month in the next 2 months -- I can't plan ANYTHING past March ---- shoot me a line. joshilyn at joshilynjackson dot com.

If you are one of the seven finalists, your entry will be read by lovely authoress, RITA winner, and exceptionally cool friend Lani Diane Rich who BOLDLY stepped into the gaping breach when I realized I had ALSO completely SPACED on lining up Special Guest Authors. She will pick first, second and third place.

First place gets a signed first edition of her very funny Chick-Lit novel, Ex and the Single Girl which Booklist says is a "funny, sweet novel ... full of quirky, likable characters and the charms of small-town life". Enterfreakintainment Weekly gave it a B+, and I myself read it in a single sitting while mold grew happily on the sink full of filthy dishes in my kitchen.


If you want to know what the book is about... Portia Fallon calls it PTE--or the Penis Teflon Effect. It's the way all the women in her family deflect men like ping pong balls. No man has ever "stuck" with a Fallon woman for more than two years, and Portia has nearly surpassed that record. Until her live-in boyfriend dumps her and she realizes she's "four cats and a Reader's Digest subscription away from being totally irredeemable." Now, everyone from her mother Mags to Auntie Vera and Grandma Bev is convinced that Portia needs to find a "Flyer"—a fling—to take her mind off her ex. Enter Ian Beckett, a sexy, smart, and unsuspecting British novelist, who's visiting her small town of Truly, Georgia, for the summer. Then enter once again Portia's ex-beau, who's decided to fight to win her back. Now Portia faces a slippery decision: Which of these men has the right stuff to make a commitment stick?

And now, THE TOPIC which we are going to slyly goozle right out of the title. This month, write about your Ex --- and since that can mean several things, you just go ahead and take it however you like.


Posted by joshilyn at 9:16 AM | Comments (24)

The V Key et al

Ah I am back home, HOME, homehomehome, here in beautiful Georgia, that magical land, where the tufts of cotton sing in the bolls all day long, romancing the weevils, and where, when you try to clean out your office, you will find a 20 pound cat has secreted himself in whatever pile you are currently trying to reduce, and he will take a swipe at you with crabby nonchalance, so that today you have the equivilent of 4 teeny papercuts on your knuckles. I am not saying any NAMES, but SOMEONE doesn't like it when I go out of town... and as much as I enjoyed seeing my family, I prefer to be here at home myself, where thecrushing weight of my deadline is already beginning to smother me in its familiar, presserous embrace. It's my goal to have a DRAFT done by the end of June, so I can monkey around deep in the bowels of the book for months and months and months. Because that's what I like, is why.

Observant Reader, you lovely thing, you will have surmised from the above that I APPARENTLY TOOK A GOOD STAB at cleaning out my office (while my cat took several good stabs at me...) and so I did. It is about HALF cleaned out which puts me 25% of the way to putting a checkmark by ALL my resolutions. Allow me to say, HURRAY for low standards. I feel I have learned something here. Next year, I will try to be more like Scott, whose only resolution was to "eat more nachos" in 2006, and since he had nachos exactly TWICE in 2005, that one is going to be a cakewalk.

Seriously, my office was abhorrent above all your imaginings. It took me 90 minutes to deal with the BOOKS alone, which had piled themselves up together in absolute ORGIES and indescriminately spawned MORE books, apparently, and the fresh baby books were intermingling with trash and the business cards of people I want to remember and a small fleet of WARNER tote bags (how and when did I score those??) along with totes from 1,000 libraries and bookstores and conferences I have gone to and OTHER totes with COMMERCIALS on them for drugs (and how and when did I score THOSE...?) and OTHER totes with the company logo of Scott's clients on them --- and MANY of the totes were full of crap I had put in them to TOTE somewhere and then hurled them still full into my office upon my return -- I found my GOLD AND BROWN BATHING SUIT, for example, and that thing has been MIA since summer. I found, I am NOT KIDDING, like 23 totes and 8 or 9 of them were FULL OF TOTED CRAP, all of which had to go be PUT AWAY somewhere that was NOT MY OFFICE FLOOR. In the books I found a GRAND TOTAL of 23 that I had bought and NEVER YET READ, and if you DO NOT think this made Scott glower and intimate that I need to curtail my bookbuying until further notice then, well, you DO know Scott who didn't say a word as I filled a shelf with TO BE READS just under TO BE REREADS and then went directly to BAM to order A Thread of Grace which I need to read NOW, thanks. The man knows he married a junky.

AS FOR MY STICKY V KEY --- it is NOT a matter of getting a new keyboard. I get a new keyboard every 15 minutes because I pour exciting things down into mine almost constantly, usually liquid, including but certainly not limited to (and here I list in order of likeliness) Water, Coffee, Sparkling Orangle Seltzer, Diet Cherry Coke, Shiraz, Starbucks fatfree foamfree sugarfree vanilla latte which costs four bucks in spite of being three kinds of free, and once half a pouch of CapriSun Surfer Cooler, which TOOK SOME DOING let me tell you. And yet, I managed. The sticky V key currently in question is not ON any sort fo 15 dollar replaceable keyboard. It is on my two THOUSAND dollar laptop, which I need because HELLO I am a professional WRITER and as such I TRAVEL a lot and without a good laptop, I can't play online games. I mean, I can't do my important work. Did I say the quiet part out loud again?

Anyway, I have ever poured ANY sort of beverage onto my laptop keyboard, and yet the V key shuns me. I need to take it in and let the GEEK SQUAD monkey about with it.

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