I'm reading four books.
I have a funny (if somewhat dead) red head by my bed.
Evil Toddler Killing Polygamists are in the kitchen, propped open face down so that I am sure the borrowed spine is being BROKEN and I keep meaning to go in there and BOOKMARK it and close it so it is not damaged and then forgetting. HEH.
Cornelia Read's first novel graces my restroom. (This one I'm slowly eking out to myself simply to enjoy the language---it's a reread, obviously, since my utterly sincere slavering fangrrrrrrl blurb is on the back cover).
Part DEUX of Karen Abbott's MS is in my office. I'm reading THAT for writing group AND!
I just found myself opening my falling-to-chunks copy of Pride and Prej, which is the literary equivelent of Mashed Potatoes and Mother's Biscuits. Nothing quite comforts me like the acid wit of Dearest Jane.
Usually I read at MOST two books at a time, but just now I can't remember what I am reading. I can't remember to blog. I think I've eaten nothing but 7 MILLION organic almonds today, because I keep realizing I am hungry, and then I go to the kitchen meaning to get something to eat, and then I notice the spine on that book breaking, but it;s all the way over in the breakfast nook, so I grab some almonds, and head across the kitchen, and then I stop because I realize what HAS to happen NEXT and next thing I know It's an hour later and I am back in my office feverishly typing with nuts in my teeth and I remember that I did not close the poor breaking spine of the Evil Toddler Killing Polygamists even though I was JUST in the kitchen, and hey....I seem to be hungry.
Why so blue, Panda Bear, you ask? And by "blue" you clearly mean "mentally ill." WELL! I am DRAFTING all this week, LORD HELP ME, DRAFTING, which I HATE. And all the books are because I get that vague burny itch to put my eyes on some text that isn't stinking of FRESHNESS, some actual polished revised and re-revised text, and I am so clinically NOT OKAY IN MY HEAD that I ignore the open books in every other room in this house and pull down and open one more. DRAFTINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!
As a bonus, I am SURLY. I keep threatening Scott with HOOKED INDEX FINGERS.
DIGRESSION: It is a long standing conceit in our marriage that my hooked index fingers are DEADLY DEADLY NINJA-weapons, and HE KNOWS!!!!! that when I make them at him, he is SUPPOSED to go leaping backwards, shrieking like a big girl, but he always forgets and I have to say HELLO! YOU ARE BEING THREATENED WITH DEADLY DEADLY NINJA WEAPONS, DUDE and then he says, "oh. right. help." in such a a BLAND voice that MANY TIMES I have been forced to kill him and bury him under the scuppernong vine tree just to remind him how VERY deadly my hooked index fingers TRULY ARE. And yet the very next time I bring them out...
So. I am reading five books. I have officially added Jane. I'm scattered, smothered and covered, BUT NOT CHUNKED, thank the Lord.*
Oh yesyesyes, I am drafting. HATEFUL HELLISH PUTRID VILE DRAFTING. I would rather be REVISING. I would probably rather be ON FIRE. But no, I have to draft because without this hateful part I have nothing to revise and without anything to revise I don't have a book, and without a book, I CANNOT MEET MY DEADLINE. Remember deadlines? Yeah, me neither.
FINGERS IN EARS AND ALL TOGETHER NOW WE SAY, "LA! LA! LA!"
Beneath the shrieks and the manufactured hysteria that I am producing here in my hysteria factory so I can BLOG instead of DRAFTING or starting to read a sixth book, do you think I sound...inappropriately cheerful? Maybe I secretly AM cheerful. Or maybe, I am delirious because this office has no oxygen left in it. I USED IT ALL UP.
NO! LOOK! I AM COMPLETELY CHEERFUL. GAHHHHHHHH! What is WRONG with me? Seriously? Why is it that PRESSURE makes me start to bubble and foam, but the underlying foaming agent is...not lye soap, as previsouly suspected, but rather....PLEASURE? I can tell that beneath my surly and put upon and WHINING and hysterical exterior I am ... pleased.
There's a beast in me who likes to WIN, who WANTS to do nine impossible things before breakfast because doing SEVEN impossible things is for potzers. Seven is for dilettantes. Seven is for people who need oxygen to LIVE, and here I am frothing up my entirely oxygen-free office like your own especial pet anaerobic nightmare on STEROIDS. YAY!
I shall now go draft more. And maybe get some nuts.
*If you are not from the 25 mostly Southern and midwestern states that have 'em, I should explain that Scattered Smothered and Covered and yes, even Chunked is how you can order your hash browns at Waffle House (AKA La La Waffi'el AKA Chez Waffla). But if you order hash browns there at ALL you are crazy. Because they have grits.
There's this thing I have learned to do, a thing that does NOT come naturally to me, and yet it is a necessary thing to learn when one has a husband. One MUST telegraph the import of dates, if they are, indeed, important to one. Especially if. like me, you are a ridiculous creature who won't even realize Valentine's day has passed until your friend says, "TODAY IS THE IDES OF MARCH" in a spooky manner and then makes the Psycho-shower-scene WREE! WREE! WREE! noise, and you think, in rapid succession "Why am I getting fake stabbed? Does this dress make me look like Caesar? Wait, crap, did she say MARCH?"
That really happened I think two years ago. And then, having come to understand that it was indeed March, I noticed I had somehow skipped Valentines Day altogether without clocking that it existed much less that we were hurtling past it along the space time continuum. Scott would argue that this set a precedent. But that's SILLY!
MEN! MEN! Hear me on this! You cannot assume a girl will forget what month it is for THREE solid months every February.
And of course, the very next year, some helpful doink with a calendar mentioned that January was over, and I thought to myself, OH! VALENTINE'S APPROACHETH! and I foolishly assumed SCOTT would also notice it was February, and with NO HINTING or REMINDERS on my part, I FURTHER assumed fabulous pink-themed heart-encrusted Godiva infused surprises with all manner of being whisked off to Venice and ravaged on a gondola etc etc were being planned. On the big day, then, I whipped out the carefully planned surprises I had set up in the dead of night when he lay sleeping like the dead, unaware it was January and then unaware it was February and THEN STILL unaware that it was February 13th....
I will never forget his stricken face as he said, "I forgot it was Valentine's at all, or, not forgot so much as didn't think you cared because last year you didn't even notice we had missed it until March so...."
I checked my girl handbook and it assured me that if I wanted to retain possession of both X chromosomes I was contractually obligated to burst into tears and do the whole YOU DO NOT LOVE ME, HALLMARK SAYS thing, which, really, who needs it.
(And here Mr. Husband chimes in to say, "Not me.")
SO! I have learned to be a hinter. And as you know, my anniversary happened yesterday. I think I get NICE WIFE points because I reminded him in little subtle ways, like saying, FOUR MORE DAYS TIL OUR ANNIVERSARY! I SURE HOPE FABULOUS SURPRISES ARE IN STORE, AND BY "IN STORE" I MEAN SPECIFICALLY "BLOOMINGDALE'S."
Did you know the twelfth anniversary is the SILK anniversary? ME NEITHER! But Scott looked it up on the internet and I now have CHARMING and ELEGANT silk pajamas to take on tour. I am not generally a a PAJAMA sort of girl, but I LOVE to have decent ones on book tour, because I have been known to have to stomp down to the lobby and defeat eyeore while wearing them, and REALLY it's more dignified to stomp down to the lobby AND Eyeore is much easily defeated if one is wearing Katherine Hepburn style black silk PJs with understated silver piping rather than a 400 year old XXL hole-riddled and coffee-stained Road Ponies T shirt and some underpants.
I'm just saying.
Me: Our anniversary is fast approaching...
Him: I know.
Me: I got us a sitter --- what do you think we should do to celebrate?
Him: Well, I've actually been giving this a lot of thought.
Me: *slightly surprised* Really?
Him: Oh yes. I've been trying to think of the perfect thing.
Him: Yes, and I think I have it.
Me: What is it!
Him: You know how this is our twelfth anniversary?
Him: And you know how twelve is divisible by both four and three?
Him: So IF you really plan to love me FOUR-ever
Him: You should take me to see X-Men Three.
Maisy: *drawing a picture* The people with the triangle heads are the cwazy people.
Me: I have always said so.
Him: *looks skeptical*
Me: No, really. I have. I even sent a letter to the CIA about it, about how those were the crazy ones, and how the CIA needed to get everyone tinfoil hats, STAT!
Him: *looks skeptical*
Me: Quit looking skeptical. I totally knew this ages ago.
Him: I am not looking skeptical. I am simply admiring your triangle head.
If you have not read the contest ENTRIES, you should They are HYSTERICAL. They are in the comments section of THIS ENTRY.
And NOW! For contestian resultions, here is my dear friend Lydia:
"A couple of comments, having read the entries. Some of you dropped a little grit, there, into the honey. Edgy group. Bit testy. Bit angry.
I want to know more about what Marleigh does for a living, having read The Diamond Age. I promise not to mod my son’s copy of Reader Rabbit Phonics.
I enjoyed Tracy’s description of the unschooler, with feral children and goat milk.
I appreciated Amy-GO’s adherence to the form of the original article, with synonyms dissected for their various connotations.
I really liked Amy’s last line, about the screenwriter getting her friends tickets and lap privileges.
I liked Autumn’s tone, and the haunting phrase, “Weird smelly feet.”
The five finalists: Angela (Preschool teacher), Dragonfly (Work from home), Cathy (Conservationist), David (Machinist), DLFP (Marketer)
I was richly entertained by reading all these. Remember, when we make assumptions, we make asses of ourselves and umption.
THANKS LYDIA! YOU ARE MY FAVORITE.
If you won, send me a snail address and I will send you your rightful LOOT.
ALSO, finalist DLFP is DARK LORD FANCY PANTS!!! a gaming friend of mine from FOREVER, and in honor of this rare DLFP sighting, I am going to tell you what commercials are good:
1) I'm a mac, I'm a PC. Best commercials EVER. EVER. So good, I kinda want a MAC now, and I am a gamergeek so I have been a PC girl from the way back back. ALSO! That former geek? From that show...I think it was called Ed? Well! He grew up to be HIP, who would have thought???
2) The fit is go. Because the fit IS go.
3) The one where the crab says, I PINCH. Because I like the crab's accent.
4) The one where the guy's cell phone comes with many features, including "crime deterrent." If you haven't seen it, I won't ruin it for you here. But. Watch TV starting NOW until you see it.
Now I will tell you what commercials are bad: All the other ones.
Did I miss any good ones?
THE CONTEST winners will be announced tomorrow for the BETWEEN ARC and assorted goodies. Entries for that are now closed.
But for today, we have a NEW contest that I will judge my OWN dern self. Look around my WEBSITE and see if you notice ANYTHING DIFFERENT. If you figure it out, you COULD win a monkey and a million dollars. Or course, with wording like COULD, it seems likely that even the most astute noticer among you will not win an actual monkey or a million dollars.
If you CANNOT notice anything different, you need therapy.
Or to hit reload.
UPDATE: Thank you for all the kind words, but I DO think it needs to be made clear, I DID NOT design the new website. It was a joint effort featuring the creativity and CSS savvy of Designer Jill and the elite uploading and updating powers of webmaster Scott. I mostly came around at the very end to collect the compliments on their hard work.
Credits can be found on my LINKS PAGE should you wish to try and engage Jill for a website of one's own. HOWEVER, I warn you, she is finishing up a novel (multi-talented, our Jill) and is taking on very few design projects.
UPDATE 2: YES! FTK should also have a new look! Hit reload if it is still showing up grey. The new graphic at the top on this page is ALSO a blend of the books, but more thematic than a literal blend of images from the covers. Sign language is important in BETWEEN, GEORGIA and the Kudzu blossom is of course from GODS IN ALABAMA.
I have the winners for you...sorry to have taken so long. I wanted to read them all and let them settle, and then read them again. It was a tough choice, but here they are:
winner: Give Me Something to Sing About. I LOVED this story about a little girl cheating death.
2nd place: Random Outpourings. This was a wrenching piece about a moment between a little girl and her father.
3rd place: Inside My Head. A story about a little incident that echoed of larger consequences.
They were great entries. It was a challenge to judge them!
And BIG congrats to ANGEL! Angel, e-mail me a snail addy and I will have Kim ship out to you POST HASTE your copy of her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Art of Uncontrolled Flight
OIL UP YOUR PITY GLANDS, Oh My Best Beloveds, and prepare them to secrete great glutinous streams of sorrow upon my pitiful behalf...READY? Okay!
Sometimes when I am blogging, I get all fired ahead of myself and scribble-scrabble out several entries at once. Or if something is too long I will cut it in twain and post half one day and the other half the next. I had several entries BACKED UP waiting to post as Mother's Day approached, and so I caught up by posting them while I experienced what will NO DOUBT go down in record as the world's worst Mother's Day since Hallmark came up with the concept to increase their schlumpy May sales figures.
Let me set the scene for you.
1) Scott has left town for over a week. I am a single, Scottless parent and therefore I respond to stimili as if I have a 37% higher Mental Illness Number than my median average for spring.
2) The day before Mother's day, my son has a hideous but mercifully short-lived romance with a stomach virus. I am up all night, and by dawn, the virus has ditched him and taken up a passionate new interaction with me. In between calling for death, I am haunted by the knowledge that I will never sleep again, as Maisy is cuter than me, and Stomach Flu will no doubt leave me and take up with her.
By late afternoon, I am wrung out and sad, but stable. I am waiting for Maisy to begin being sick (and I will tell you, Best Beloveds, that she did INDEED oblige me....) and I am sitting hunched with misery in front of my computer, feebly pecking out a draft of chapter 10.
My son appears in the doorway. As you may recall we ditched our newts back into the pond from whence they came and replaced them with two charming gerbils named Snickers and Hotshot, and I was worried the massive cat might via means miraculous manage to defy the laws of gravity and physics and lumber up to the top of the counter and vivisect them. It would take a miracle, because this cat is now SO overweight that Dr. Phil is considering doing a Prime Time intervention show starring him, but I am a person of faith and therefore make room in the world for the possibility of miracles. So, I fretted about it a little. Well. Right. SO! Where were we? Sam had just appeared in my office doorway:
Sam: Mom? Remember our gerbils?
Me: *chilled with horror* I remember them, yes. Do you mean that in an "in memorium" way, or...
Me: Yes, I remember them. Why do you ask?
Sam: I saw the one gerbil, and it was sitting on another gerbil.
Me: *relieved* Sammy, those gerbils are brothers and gerbils are very cuddley with their litter mates. I am sure the sat on gerbil is FINE.
Sam: No I mean. Snickers is sitting on a THIRD gerbil.
Me: Son, I am working here. That's not possible. Gerbils do not spontaneously generate.
Sam: Well, a third gerbil got IN somehow with them.
Me: Do you think maybe it is just sitting on a piece of cardboard he hasn't chewed up yet? And it LOOKS a little gerbil shaped?
Sam: No, I really think it is a third very small gerbil. Or two.
Me: That's not --- wait. What? VERY SMALL???
Sam: I REALLY think you should come look.
WARNING: Brace yourself, Bridget, for a raaaaawther graphic scene.
I head to the cage. Brother Gerbil number one is running in the wheel. FINE. Brother Gerbil number two, however, has about HALF of a FOURTH and VERY NEW gerbil protruding from his netherous gerbil-regions, and is spinning a third moist and yicky looking very new gerbil in his hands, cleaning it.
Sam: There's another one!
Me: That's certainly very....graphic! I think maybe the brothers need some privacy!
We repaired to our friend the internet to see what Very New Gerbils might need to be happy, and what a Brother Gerbil who is apparently recovering from the worlds most complete and successful sexual reassignment surgery EVER might need to be happy. Answer: To have the cage covered by a towel and be left strictly alone in a quiet room. I LOVED THAT ANSWER!
I rechristened the half of the downstairs with the gerbil cage in it "Philadelphia." (Because Philly is the city of....? Right.) No one was allowed to go into Philadelphia for four hours, (I used the enforced quiet to draft more) at which point I tiptoed in and made sure there was fresh water and did a quick count.
Eight. EIGHT. Yes. EIGHT small squirmy jelly beans were cuddled in a heap in a nest the brothers had constructed. Did you hear me say EIGHT? Because I said EIGHT.
The most horrifying thing is NOT that I have ten freakin' gerbils. The most horrifying thing is this: As I was COUNTING the babies, I noticed the brothers were behaving in an EXTREMELY innapropriate and NON-BROTHERLY manner, even if (as I suspect) one of the brothers is NOT a brother at all (and really the evidence is overwhelming at this point). It's not like it's any more appropriate to engage in such overly friendly STACKING behavior with one's sister, but take out that aspect even and it is HUGELY innapropriate to put the moves on a lady who JUST gave birth. EIGHT times. And yet. They were undeniably engaged thusly, and both seemed quite happy about it, and as a BONUS to their happiness, they were making STILL AND YET more gerbils. SO I have ten gerbils NOW, and an infinite number of POTENTIAL gerbils already baking.
And yes, it IS horrifying....and yet. THEY ARE SO CUTE! THEY ARE SO CUTE! They are now big enough to begin being socialized for people, which means we have to take them out and give them POSITIVE HAND TIME each day, and I have to tell you, they are made of velveteen and are so DEAR and BUSY and VITAL and MIGHTY and WEE. They lift my heart, these little very new unwanted wretched gerbils. I don't know how we will break the cycle of incestuous Deliverance gerbil love we seem to have going here because the internet says we cannot REMOVE the father gerbil when there is a new litter because the mother needs his help, and they make a new litter within 2 hours of delivering the LAST litter. Bit of a Catch 22.
We are working on a plan to break the cycle, I think involving removing the father and all MALE BABIES to one cage, ALL UP FOR ADOPTION, and then moving the weaned females to another cage and putting THEM all up for adoption too, and leaving the pregnant mother in the original cage with ONE weaned daughter gerbil as a helpmeet. We'll keep those two. It's simply dreadful, and if we mess up the sexing and get ANY male in with ANY female....GAHHHH! We could end up with two-headed poisonous gerbil freaks with flippers. But for NOW....
I LOVE ME SOME LITTLE BABY GERBILS. LOOKIT!
So you want an ARC of BETWEEN, GEORGIA? Signed, natch.
Remember how Al Gore invented the internet? Right. Well, soon after he did, my dearest friend Lydia and I invented blogging! I bet you didn't know that, did you? AND YET IT IS ALL VERY COMPLETELY TRUE. This was before blogging was even a WORD, much less a phenom, and Lydia and I ran a web magazine called The Playground that got something like half a million unique visitors a year. We thought we were hot shtuffs.
By far the most popular feature on this PRE-BLOG mag was The Daily Dirt, a online diary where every day, either Lydia or I would post ramblings, musings, links, stories, reviews, whatever wandered through our brains. She was recently digging through all her old files, cleaning hard-drive-house, and found some of the Dirts, including one where she had talked about the difficulty of explaining what your JOB is when your job is writing. There are so many WORDS for it, and people have preconceived notions about what those words imply flying out of their ying-yangs so regularly it's like the NYC-Boston Shuttle. She articulated those notions --- here's what she wrote:
What you say: I'm a writer.
What they hear: I sit at a typewriter with my hair pushed back and my glasses low on my nose and tappity tap into the night. I crabbily repel all humans who attempt to contact me, forgetting what time it is, eating take-out, showing up at engagements absent-minded and preoccupied and late. I may smell. I may have a cat or a basset hound. I live "on the bluff" in a dramatically shaped house. My family finds my habits alternately endearing and infuriating. I have complicated relationships. I frequently pull one last page out of my typewriter and slam it down on top of a pile of other pages and say, "Finished!"
What you say: I'm a novelist.
What they hear: I’m a psychiatrist. I understand people. I tell Stories. I understand YOU. I may put you in one of my Stories. I live in a fantastic world of my own creation, and yet my characters are always fantastic versions of my own family. Go ahead. Say something witty. Tonight I will graft you into my epic. I have an Imagination. I am Imaginative. I also have Morals and there are Issues that I care about. My Novels focus on these Moral Issues and make Serious Points about the Issues that I care about, driven by the fantastic characters which are all based on you.
What you say: I'm a fiction writer.
What they hear: I buy and read magazines no one has ever heard of because they are technically literary journals (even though I call them magazines) and the reason I buy and read them is either because I am published in them or I want to be published in them. I write things no one can understand, largely because I was influenced by my endless and unprofitable stint in graduate school, which I enjoyed so much that I became a professor. If you attempt to read my work you will be stymied immediately by my nontraditional punctuation, my reference to obscure middle eastern politicians, and my insistence on using the format of a musical sonatina. If you aren’t stymied, I may become irritated.
What you say: I'm an author.
What they hear: I write books with titles like "How to Improve Your Community in Five Easy Steps" and I appear on Oprah and I wear coordinated suits and I am very VERY WISE. My signature is worth money. My friends speak to me deferentially and my family has a giant portrait of me in the living room. In the portrait I am wearing Chanel. I have never written a lick of fiction and I think it's frivolous and exasperating when people do. What matters is truth, and I have the truth. Ask me anything. I am well read and I probably have a degree in sociology or communications.
What you say: I'm a poet.
What they hear: I sit for long periods of time in my back yard in the fetal position. I have a deep and personal relationship with several astral bodies. In fact, I have my own star. It's right there. Its name is Amphetamines. I used to have an outfit that included primary colors, but I burned it in a ceremony with my friends where we also shot up a lot of heroin. I hate my parents because they ritually and constantly molested me, both of them at the same time, from the time I was born until yesterday, when I started Dealing With It. I am a bisexual and I worship the goddess Diana. I haven't pierced by ankle yet, but I have an appointment.
HA! That still kills me. And makes me wish I was poet, lo these many years later, JUST so people would think all those things about me.
SO, your mission, should you CHOOSE to accept it, is to say your job, or a job you have had, or a job you think people misconstrue, and do exactly what Lydia has done above. You say what you call yourself, and then you say what you think people assume about you based on the job. Put your entry in the comments and be sure to include an e-mail addy so I can TELL you if you win. *grin*
LYDIA, the originator of this contest, will herself pick the winners, since I have too many friends who stop by this blog to be objective. Since I am not judging, this contest is open to all. Except Lydia's sister and husband and, of course, Lydia.
First prize is the pre-read ARC copy of BETWEEN, GEORGIA, and I will throw in one of my brother's amazing Little Nonny Foxes.
Second prize gets their choice of a signed ARC of gods in Alabama OR a signed edition of the BRAND! SPANKIN! NEW! PAPERBACK! versions of gods in Alabama. The PBs are SO hot off the presses you could cook an egg on the cover. SO hot and fresh are these that I don't even HAVE my author copies yet -- just the promise that they are coming and my editor's delighted opinion that they are SO pretty they practically look lickable.
Third Prize is a Bag of Schwag, like maybe some signed bookplates, some magnets, and I will throw in some whatnotty something I find on my vile mess of a desk, maybe even a MINT!
Oh Best of all Possible Dude-y Beloveds....through non-nefarious means, I will this by this evening, if all goes well, come into possession of a slightly used but still perfectly legible and charming Advanced Reader Copy of Between, Georgia. For those not in the know, Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) are softback versions of a not-yet-released book that is sent to booksellers, to reviewers, and to hoped-for-blurbers as a way of trying to get word out about an upcoming title.
These are very expensive to produce. People sometimes hook copies of them and sell them on e-bay, and I don't mind when I see the used ones for sale, because they have done their job. USED means the reviewer or bookseller or hoped-for-blurber has READ the ARC, so who can possibly begrudge them for selling it? BUT! I of course purely hate it when I see the ones on e-bay that brag that the ARC is BRAND NEW! The spine has NEVER BEEN CRACKED! Sometimes, in an Alanis Morrisette rain-on-wedding-day version of irony, the e-bay seller mentions in the description that cover says "not for resale" in big puffy letters on the cover.
Of course, I wish even the people who sell the READ ones would wait until the book is actually released so that ARC collectors would be the ones buying them, not my personal actual posse of folks who personally and actually like my work and might, you know, personally and actually buy it when it released if left alone but who in the interest of not being able to wait to snap an ARC off ebay wthout realizing or caring (because it is not their problem after all, they just want my next book, a fact which in and of itself makes me want to kiss them on the mouth) that the successful sale of these virgin copies encourages MORE sales of virgin copies which means LESS and LESS copies actually being cracked and read by, oh, you know, reviewers and booksellers who might like it and get the word out to potential My Posse readers who would then ALSO buy the book upon its actual release and give me a chance at keeping my job. (A good contest for the ARC might be "The first person who can read the previous sentence aloud without the need for a inhale WINS, and a bonus million dollars if you followed it...")
ANYWAY...To say the above in a third of the words: It hurts to see NEW! UNCRACKED SPINE! ones up for grabs ESPECIALLY before the book is even out, because the ARC print run is very small, and every unread copy is a lost chance at a review or a bookseller who loves the book and will help readers discover it.
The point being, and YES I HAVE ONE! One of these copies that HAS done its rightful job will come back into my possession from a kindly source who knows I wanted to have a copy to use for a prize for YOU, yes YOU, OH MY B. of A.P.D. B.'s.
APPROPOS of this conversation, but NOT what I am going to do with this stray ARC that I shall soon have in my greasy palms, here's
bestselling author Laurie R. King's well stated take on the selling of arcs here , and there is a good discussion of ARC selling by readers and reviewers here.
More ARC tidbits: Rumor has it Stephen King's publisher is going to release his newest ARC with a plain white cover that says NOT FOR RESALE in big red letters across the front----they would put that cover on in lieu of putting the REAL cover on, in the hopes that, well, it wouldn't be resold. I'm interested to see how that works. I don't think it's a viable solution for writers who are not already household names, butI'm still interested to see if those show up on e-bay.
I wish they would make King's cover say in the huge red letters, "Gentle Reader, if you love this author, please do not purchase this version on ebay or a used bookstore. Please buy the actual book! THANKS! BIG KISSES! MWAH! MWAH!" *grin*
I THINK I read this in Publisher's Lunch, but I can't find the source to confirm and link OOPS, so hopefully we can count this as gossip and not plagiarism. I try to only plagiarize, as you may recall, from my own personal aunts.
SO, IF the ARC comes through IWILL be posting a RATHER FUN CONTEST for it that my friend Lydia came up with. I will post the contest FIRST THING in the AM, and probably run it through until Monday. ALSO I hope we'll have B4B winners this weekend...This is a slow and sleepy month, I guess, everyone is outside basking in the springly pollens and canoodling.
Meanwhile, here, I would love your take on the selling of virgin ARCs before a book even releases. Do you think I am a wanker to mind? Really? A hypersensitive wanker, or just the plain kind?
It's a GCC day, and today, hot off the griddle, we are serving Allison Pace. I like Allison Pace. I just do. She wrote If Andy Warhol had a Girlfriend, which was hip and slick and funny, and if it was your cup of tea, I think you are going to like her sweetheart of a follow-up novel, Pug Hill.
JJ: Where did the idea for the book come from?
AP: I really wanted to write a book about someone whose life had been very affected by dogs and who spent some time reflecting on that. Pug Hill in Central Park is a place I always got a tremendous kick out of, and loved very much. So that combined with my fascination with pugs, helped form the scheme of the novel. And, I was giving readings for my first novel at the time, and contemplating my fear of public speaking.
JJ:Tell us about the best dog you have ever owned.
AP: It's a tie between Max, an Irish Wolfhound / Sheepdog mix, the most brilliant dog ever, and my Spanky, a Chinese shar-pei, the sweetest dog to ever walk the earth. Spanky makes a guest appearance (as himself!) in Pug Hill.
JJ: What's next for you?
AP: I'm working on a third novel. I can't believe I'm actually on a third novel. It's called Through Thick And Thin, and I'm very, very excited about it. It's about two sisters at very different life stages who attempt to re-bond with each other with a weight loss quest.
The best dog I ever owned was a poodle named Louis. His whole name was King Louis of the Colony Estates, but everyone called him Loo-ey. My parents had Louis before they had me, but he lived a longlonglong time, so I remember him well.He wasn't one of those little nervous yappy poodles. He was a big old poodle, very handsome, mostly because my father refused to give him that stupid puffy ankled haircut. He kept him clipped short for comfort, but never gave him that puff head with a bow on the ear ---he wanted to protect Louis' masculinity. In several ways. And this was the 70's, before Bob Barker started staring earnestly into cameras and talking about the evils of unchecked dog testicles, so Louis would sometimes disappear for days at a time and come filthy and burr-covered and stinking of French Bulldog Perfume. I am sure we left a zillion little Louis throughout the southern states as we moved around a good deal.
My dad used to blame stray gaseous emissions on Louis. We'd be driving along, and suddenly the unmistakeable smell of SILENT BUT DEADLY gas passing would fill the car, and my dad would say, LOUIS!!! in a thundering voice of disapproval, and Louis would look suitably chastened. My brother and I would giggle like maniacs and say LOUIS YOU ARE SO GROSS.
My mother would fix my father with a gimlet eye and say, not looking at the dog at all, "Indeed, Louis. Please try to control yourself. Louis."
Later Louis got his revenge. In his old age, he became the GASSIEST dog who ever LIVED.
Anyway I have digressed hideously, but talking about Allison's book got me thinking again of all the dogs I've loved before. SNIFF.
I read a line in another blog yesterday, and I have to say, no line has ever made me want to plagiarize with such fervor. Oh WHY did I not write this??? HOW COULD I NEGLECT TO MAKE THIS UP???? Are you ready? Here it is:
"Mama and I had to start praying to the Holy Spirit," my aunt confided, "because we used up God and Jesus."
HA! I wish that was me, but ALAS, that's JULIE, quoting her own, personal aunt. Julie writes a blog called A LITTLE PREGNANT and does not know I exist. I have sick little fantasies of somehow getting gods in Alabama into her hands and she reads it avidly and totally likes me back. It's a blog-crush, a condition that sounds a little single white female and foamy-at-the-mouthy unless you've ever had one, at which point, it makes perfect sense. I have had it bad for her for an embarrasingly long time without ever contacting her. It's to the point that I would feel dirty and stalkerish to even TRY, so long have I crouched silently in her bushes, not commenting. She is one of about four blogs I read every stinking time they update. I browse a lot of blogs, but A Little Pregnant is on DO NOT MISS status.
I must pause in my adoration and whine: Why did that line come from HER stupid aunt? It sounds EXACTLY like something some aunt or another of MINE would say, and of course I have NO compunction about ripping lines off of my OWN aunts.
I wonder if it is a SAYING that is regional. I could use it if it's a southernism like "BLUE TAIL COLD." Everyone in my family says blue tail cold. And they say things like, "He'd climb up a telephone pole to tell a lie when he could've stayed on the ground and spoke the truth." or "Watch her walk----her back end looks like two possums fighting in a sack." I can use all those because they are SOUTHERNONICALLY LEXICONICAL. <---totally a word.
Speaking of Possum-fight-butt, I got in a HUGE tipsy debate with the Fairhope Posse on whether or not that saying was describing a GOOD butt or a BAD butt. My team thought it was a good butt. I picture round, firm possums, one per side, curled in the sack to face each other so that each makes a rounded C shape as its back presses tautly against the sack, and the two C shaped curves writhe in a muscular manner, churning up and down as they battle. Some other Fairhope Posse members think it sounds lumpy and odd and jiggly. I contend that they are confusing possum-fight-butt with a similar Southernism that goes like this: "Her back end looks like a bag full of ferrets." Now THAT is clearly not a good thing. Is possum-butt a thing to be coveted or feared? I stand by my original interpretation but am willing to entertain counter arguments...
Oh man, let's read that AUNT line again, shall we?
"Mama and I had to start praying to the Holy Spirit," my aunt confided, "because we used up God and Jesus."
EITHER Julie's aunt is secretly a brilliant wordsmith and I kinda hate her, or JULIE is not so secretly a B.W. for quoting her, and well, I already knew that. I'll be in the bushes if you need me.
To digress again, immediately, even before I start in on the actual interview, Oh My Best Beloveds, if you will please to CRANE your eyes THISAWAY
and then down a inch or two,
You will see the BIG! YELLOW! BUTTON! is back, now under a shiny small picture of BETWEEN, GEORGIA. Ah prepare for DEJA JA VU VU as I say.....
That button will take you to an ORDER FORM. This link will take you to my TOUR DATES and LOCATIONS. If you can't make it to an actual tour event ---and I hope you can, I promise you will have a good time, and I hate it when it is just me and the bookstore cat, blinking at each other---BUT if you cannot because you WILFULLY chose to prance off and live in MONTANA, even though YOUR MOTHER TOLD YOU NOT TO, never fear. It doesn't mean you are destined to die alone on a rickety Montanian cot, weeping as you slip this mortal coil because you never got a signed, inscribed first edition hardback of BETWEEN, GEORGIA. You can thank The Alabama Booksmith, a fantastical indy, who has set up a VIRTUAL SIGNING that will take place on FRIDAY, JULY 14th.
Just order before that date (now is good, lest you FORGET!), and the form will let you order a copy that says practically anything. Just THINK of who has a birthday this year....why, everyone you know! May I humbly suggest you pre-get your favorite person's present? Think how HAPPY you will be on October 15 or whatever day they decided to appear into the world, when you HAVE their present all ready to go and signed and filled with charming felicitations I have penned per your instructions using the UNIBALL VISION ELITE pen I tote with me for just such an occasion. And get your mom one! And get you one! The books beg you to take one home with you as if they were the blinking bookstore cat's foundling kittens, except the book won't stromp great gaping holes into your sofa and mewl for you to clean out its litterbox.
NOW AT LAST, the LAUME Interview:
Laume: How much time do you spend actually writing? - that is, sitting at the computer or notepad writing the first draft or revising. Not answering e-mail or writing your blog or sending notes to your editor. The actual story.
Me: Not a lot. I write the way 9 year old boys pick at scabs---as if it's fascinating in a yicky, painful way. I feel compelled to do it. I write maybe 3 hours a week? Tops? I spend a good 10 - 15 concentrated hours a week REVISING the hideous crap I pumped out during the miserable hours I spent writing. I also spend an uncalculatable amount of minutes here and half hours there toying with sentences and paragraphs and pages and scenes. If I get fifteen minutes of quiet, I run to my computer and niggle and nudge some horrid sentences until they line up and do right. That's sheer pleasure, making the mess become pleasing language that furthers my story.
Laume: How much time do you spend working out your story that is not actual writing? For instance, working out plot issues while driving in the car, doing research on places or technical points, discussing your work with your writer's group.....
Me: I can't calclate that either. I think about it all the time. I write novels because I have SUCH a horror of being bored. That, to me, seems like the worst part of being buried alive. Yes, the terror and the oxygen slowly fading and the darkness and the aloneness and the possible bugs touching you is ALL VERY BAD. But when I think of being buried alive, it's the sensory deprivation that REALLY gets to me. If I ever DO get buried alive I hope my serial killer puts a penlight and some Flannery O'Connor in the box with me. Or buries me with a good conversationalist.
When Scott and I did our living wills a couple of years ago, I couldn't sign off until I had mapped out with him very carefully the sort of entertainment that would need to be provided continuously for my inert form. My lawyer was like, "You get that I am paid by the HOUR, right?" as I went over this witrh him in excrutiating detail. But we got it done, to whit: If I am ever in a coma, there MUST be TV or a book on tape on for me at all times. And I was terrified there would be some sort of letter-of-the-law MEAN nurse who likes to sit SOUR and BAKE in the quiet, and in my imagination she would PUT ON the TV as requested, but turn the sound down to ZERO. This fictional nurse really BUGGED me, a I HATED her, untilScott implemented a headphone clause and minimum volume requirements. I also specified that the TV could not be on CNN or, Lord help me, the DISCOVERY freakin' channel, and I didn't want to listen to books about WHO STOLE MY CHEESE or financial planning. My unresponsive braindead body would prefer to have PLOT with its iron lung. Crazy, huh?
SO. Yeah. All the time I am thinking about the book I am writing, or the book I want to write next...It probably pops into my brain with the same frequency that Psychology Today says adolescent boys think of sex.
Laume: Do you set daily goals or weekly goals?
Me: Not really. I have to turn in AT LEAST one or two new drafted chapter to my writing group every two weeks, but that could men 10 pages or 35. If it was always 35 pages, I woudl finish a book in 5.7 months, so CLEARLY there are many times when it is more like 12 or 15.
Laume: Despite your best intentions, do you end up having to do one or more marathon sittings away from the family to make things happen?
Me: Yes. And it's not IN SPITE of my best intentions. My intentions are to have these times scheduled from the get go. Scott takes my kids to some grandmother infested paradise in Alabama or Florida, and I grunt pump out 10 - 30K TERRIBLE words in a weekend. Then I spend the 1 - 3 months revising those words, and Then I kick Scott and the kids out again.
And I would like to point out to you, OH JADED SPOUSE OF A WRITER, yes, you, in the back, SNEERING at your spouse's "hobby"....that I always kicked my family out for weekends, even before I was publishing or making any money at all from my writing. Scott took my writing time as seriously as he took the time he spent on HIS job, and did his best to protect it and create it and be respecctful of it, and I wouldn't have finished my FIRST novel yet if he had not. SO. What do you say to THAT, OH Mr. or Mrs. WRITERSPOUSE?
Laume: And is shutting the office door really enough to allow you to work without wondering who's sitting on the cat or making that horrible screeching sound elsewhere in the house?
Of course not. Unless I have a sitter there, then yes, and I assume she will come get me if anyone is spurting arterial blood or is actually on fire If it's me and the kids, I can't draft. Especially since my cat is so huge that if he decided to sit on them back they would smother. I revise in spurts and dribbles during days when I have a kid or two in the house.
Laume asked me about HOW I work, the mechanics of fictioning, and I haven't had time to answer, so I am blogging it, thus killing two birds with one massive shot-gun blast to their smug, tweeting faces that woke me up with their INSIPID WARBLING at TOO-DAMN-EARLY:thirty this AM. (Here you say, GRUMPY MUCH? and I say, INDEED I AM.)
But first -- to Business.
I've heard from LESLIE, our Special! Guest! Blogger! and former B4B winner who writes The Clutter Museum, and she has the seven finalists for B4B! Trala. Remember, the winner will receive the adoration of the masses™, a link from my site, the right to be a Special! Guest! Blogger! should B4B continue, and, last but MOST, a piping hot fresh autographed copy of Kim Ponder's critically feted debut novel, The Art of Uncontrolled Flight
THUS SAGT LESLIE OF CLUTTER MUSEUM: "Here are my top seven selections for this month’s Blogging for Books. It was a tough decision to make!
Thanks again for everything. I received my copy of Fly on the Wall from E. Lockhart yesterday and I’m looking forward to reading it."
And now, back to my angst, back to my sturm, my drang, AND ALLOW ME TO SAY, it's going to be ALL STURM ALL THE TIME around here because The Bad Thing is happening again...Scott has left the building. FOR A WEEK. I am SO horrified. Scott is the balast in my boat, the endorphins in my blood stream, the anti-sturm, the soother of all sad babies, and sheet changer to my bowl holder when Maisy pukes ALL NIGHT LONG (like she did yesterday).
Life without him plainly SUCKS. It sucks WHOLE HAIRY GOATS. That's right, the ENTIRE goat, it sucks the goats down to nothing one by one, as if goats were LOZENGES, and continues to suck them even when the goats say, "Prithee good sir or madam, I beg that you please stop with this! I cry you mercy, for indeed, I lack air, trapped as I am here in your cavernous pink maw!" But the goats' entreaties are for NAUGHT. That's how much it sucks goats. (PS But don't worry about them because truly, if the goats could not get enough air, they would not be so capable of all the high-falutin' BACK-CHAT. So.)
SINCE I am too grumpy to do anything but talk dirty into the phone whenever people call claiming to have JUST A SURVEY....DIGRESSION. Actual Sample Conversation from yesterday, as close to word for word as memory allows:
Chirpy Girl: HI! Don't hang up! I'm not selling anything! I promise! I'm with something-family-something organization, and we're calling families to see what they think about all the violence and sex on television. Do you have small kids at home?
Grumpy me: *sour tone* Yes.
CG: Well, a lot of folks with kids at home are wondering what they can do to help clean up TV and make it family-friendly. Is that something you are concerned about?
GM: No. I love sex and violence.
CG: *pause....breath....nervous titter.* Yoyu're being sarcastic, right?
GM: No. I love it all. Very entertaining. Especially violence. Have you seen the Sopranos this season?
CG: Um...no, but---
GM: Oh DUDE, it's AWESOME. I miss Adrianna though --- they drove her out into the woods and shot her face off last season. You know what though? As much as I love the show, I don't let my nine year old watch it. I'm kooky that way. I just tell him no, because, like, I'm the parent. It's neat how that works out. I also don't let him watch Alan Shore sexually harass Parker Posey on Boston Legal, but man do *I* sure love it! Did you see it this week, when he cleared off the desk and said, "Let's just get this over with, shall we?" Um... Hello? Hello?
Yeah, she hung up. Can you imagine? I am not the ONLY one who is GRUMPY. But I am grumpy. OH! Also...incompetent.
LAST time Scott was out of town, here is an ACTUAL conversation my son had at school with his Gifted Program teacher, as GLEEFULLY reported to me during our parent teacher conference (The gifted teacher sat in on my conference with his regular teacher, saying, as she took her seat, "I don't susually sit in on these, but I HAD to meet the mother of SAM!" And she said it in the same tone she would have used had the words "mother of Sam" been replaced by "mother of a four-armed talking sea-monkey that shoots spooky magic spangles out its nose holes and eats people." ANYWAY, here is the conversation Sam had with her last time Scott left town.
Teacher: Sam, where is your lunch?
Sam: I get to buy HOT LUNCH today!!!!
T: Are you sure? You always bring your lunch.
S: Not this week. My DAD is out of town, and my MOM doesn't know how to make lunch.
T: ....Your mom doesn't... know how to make lunch.
S: Nope. She doesn't have a clue how.
THANKS, SON! As I told the gifted teacher, and I state again for the record here: I DO know how to make a (*#|*$^&|%# sack lunch. I simply CHOOSE NOT TO. When Scott is out of town, I cut out everything non-essential for survival and we live very simplified lives, because otherwise, *I* will begin to shoot spangles out my nose holes and eat people. Scott is an odd duck, really---I mean REALLY a VERY odd duck, first on how he persists on being married to a girl who dreams of having a global positioning system (and ON STAR!) installed directly into the central nervous system so I can find the way to my own bathroom without getting lost and wandering into a wall, and secondly in that he CLAIMS TO LIKE IT. I'm like the spangley purple satin high heeled shoe of wives: I'm fun, but I'm also excrutiatingly painful and I don't go with much. I am not the practical choice. I am SO not made by naturalizer. I am made by Steve Martin. (AND IF YOU GET THE REFERENCE YOU WIN A MONKEY!)
BAH! I have to go dig a hole in the backyard and sit in it and hope rain comes and drowns me. I can eat worms to pass the time. SCOTT! COME HOME! IT IS BAD HERE WITHOUT YOU AND I CAN'T DO NOTHIN' RIGHT....
Oh crap, didn't I start this by saying I was going to answer the interview questions Laume sent me? Let me scroll up and look... Yeah. See? Case in point.
Alert reader PATTIE sent me this, and it made my day:
"Today I worked at the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school. They had two copies of gods in Alabama. They were on a table of books for adults, next to a cookbook entitled Cheap. Fast. Good!"
HEHEHEHEH First of all, I need that cookbook, just because I need to make dinners that are cheap and fast and good...
Second of all, if you have read gods in Alabama, you will know that in MANY ways the cookbook title is a string of adjectives that MODIFY Arlene, the book's narrator.
They do NOT, thank you, modify its author. Ahem.
I was silent all weekend because I was at a conference in Monroeville, Alabama, which is pretty much Mecca for southern scribes. Harper Lee and Truman Capote grew up there, side by side. Harper Lee still lives in Monroeville in the winters. She is in New York right now which, on the one hand, I was sad because I have always secretly hoped that one day i would meet her. Not that I would have expected to see her at a literary conference, but I MIGHT have run into her while walking through Piggley Wiggley with someone from town who knew her. See? ALL CASUAL AND ACCIDENTAL, arranged and ordained by The Lord. But there was no chance of it. I took comfort in the idea that there was ALSO no chance I would hear anyone say, "Joshilyn, this is Nell Harper L----oh my. It's okay, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can take those stains right off," as I puked on her shoes out of sheer nerves. SO. How's THAT for a bright side?
The house Harper Lee grew up in is now a BURGER STAND called MEL's that sells DREAM CONES (!!!!). Alas, Karen and I did not ever stop and GET a DREAM CONE. I wonder what on earth it is? I bet it's just fancy talk for that puffy-airy styrofoam-infused ice cream like you get at DQ. I hope not, though. I hope it's something SHERBET-Y or creamsicle-ish, striped orange and white and chock full of opiates. I hope those who pause to eat of it are like Lotus People: They wake up three weeks later, having seen The Future and The Truth, but they are not quiiiiiiiiiiiite able to express how it was, exactly. You can ask, and one will say, "Well...THE FUTURE was like a great glowing metaphorical lynx, but made of prisms and refracting into a thousand points of rainbows, but not really, and then it diffused into bands that leapt out and touched my face so that my eyes caught fire, but I kinda liked it." And then the other says, "No, it was not. That was The Truth. The Future was that OTHER thing."
Yeah. I know. The actual DREAM CONE was bound to disappoint. We went past the place at least four times, but each time, I kept driving.
We got out of the car encrusted with the filth of a thousand miles (even though we had technically only driven 180 miles, Karen and I are so naturally VILE that we were ABLE to accumulate the ACTUAL FILTH of 1000 miles in 1/5th of the time it would have taken, say, some young mission workers.) Tom Franklin was sitting out in the lobby and he said HEY to me. I looked like the very wrath of God so I half waved and galloped past him. I dived into my hotel room, hoping to SCRAPE some filth off before having an actual conversation with a writer I admire. Then I kept realizing I had left invaluable filth-scraping materials like my SOAP and my HAIRBRUSH in the car. I headed back out, and I still looked like mucusy bile and he was still in the lobby. I was incapable of bringing everything I needed in. THREE TIMES I made the journey, each time half waving as if I thought he had leprosy, but really, I just didn't want him to look directly at me and go BLIND from horror. He was very nice about it, later, when I appeared coifed and smelling faintly of roses, and we both pretended like he had never seen me with threads of Processed Cheese Food entwined within the greasy locks of my Car Hair.
The first night, Karen and I stayed up until about 3 am drinking pomegranate martinis (because they are chock full of antioxidants and other highly nutritive goodnesses! The fact that they are 192 proof is not relevant.) The very talented Cathy Day was there, and she told us that MARASCHINO CHERRIES stay with you. EVERY maraschino cherry. They... ADHERE to your intestines? They CLING? They SEDENTATE? They...sew little intestine pockets for themselves and button themselves in? Something very permanent, so that you even now are carrying with you every maraschino cherry you ever plucked whole from your sunday's whipped cream or excavated from your cocktail ice. Can you IMAGINE how many they found when they autopsied Elvis?
I wish I could remember exactly how the cherries imbed themselves. It was very scientific when CATHY said it, I am sure, but remembered through the rosy haze of, um, antioxidants, I have lost some essential details, I feel certain. Like, where do the cherries get the buttons? Also, there was something about Maraschino Cherries being made OUTSIDE in huge vats and if birds fly over and poo in the vats (and they DO!) and if older birds fall dead and plummet out of the skies and LAND in the cherries (AND THEY DO!) or if intrepid possums are drawn to the sweet smell of preserving cherries and mount an expedition to CLIMB the cherry vats and LICK UP SYRUP with their long POSSUM-SUCK COVERED TONGUES (and you KNOW! You KNOW!!! they do!) then the cherry makers shrug and say, "So it goes," because I guess a little dead bird never hurt anyone, eh? A little possum suck adds protein. Why not.
We all listened to her very earnestly and then fished around in our martinis and pulled out the cherries and ate them, because as Karen pointed out, with an alcohol content as high as is oftentimes found in the drinks *I* make, the cherries had been thoroughly sterilized.
This was in Suzanne Hudson (who KILLED at her reading KILLED!) and Joe Formichella's hotel room, the default party room for both conferences I have been to where the Fairhope Posse was in attendance. Tom Franklin was there. Tom left the next day, EARLY, and Karen and I had not yet gotten our books signed! WAIL! He had to go get therapy though, I betcha, to recover from seeing us in all our glorious filth. And of course Sonny Brewer was there. And the awesome Rick Bass. And there we also met Warren St. John, the staff writer for The New York Times who wrote that story on Sonny I linked you to earlier. He's got a book out now called Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer which Jake at the Alabama BookSmith (a fave indie store of mine) has tried all his wiles to get me to buy---Jake swears by this book.
I avoided those wiles for a YEAR (not easy, Jake is a supah-charged-bookseller from the way back back and he haz vays of makink yew READ) because FIRST OF ALL it's non-fic (I rarely crack NF unless it's pretty dern PLOTTY, like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, say) AND I thought it was about football, and all I really know about football is that it is one o' them things the boys call "a sports." BUT After hearing Warren talk at the conference, I realized it was NOT actually about football. It's about FANDOM, and, speaking as a girl who is afraid to meet Harper Lee lest I puke on her shoes, that's something that interests me, so I got one that I SAID was a gift but I started reading it accidentally andd now I want to keep it. HEY! Did you know Bama fans SOAK maraschino cherries in PURE GRAIN alcohol for YEARS and eat them by the fistful. They are called BAMA BOMBS because they are RED like the TIDE. Dude. You have to kinda RESPECT that kind of fandom, you know? The kind that bravely says, "Sterilized possum suck shall not deter us, OH NO, we will eat the diseased bird carcass encrusted colors of our team and carry them with us, intestine-ly speaking, FOREVER...."
And that was only night one. Day two, which followed, was moderately painful, in that the SUN came up and TOUCHED MY EYES, but after twelve cups of coffee and a Vitamin B injection, I was good to go...MORE LATER. I have to tell you about the NALLS and getting to speak in the REALLY FOR TRUE Monroeville courthouse with Homer Hickam (!!!) (Like about 20 million other people on this planet, I love his work) and etc, unless I forget and it all settles down among the pink socks to breed itself into a hundred other stories that don't seem related, but are.
OH BEST BELOVEDS, soon you will no longer be my internets, my peeps or even my best beloveds. Soon, I will begin blog entries by just saying, YO! DUDES!
I know you will be shocked to hear that last night while I was sleeping the entire cast of the O.C. DID NOT creep in and anoint my head with a massive ladle full of Hipster-cool. Nor has your new status as DUDES been conferred upon you because Snoop Dogg decided to lend me a modicum of street cred. (I applied, but His Poundliness regretfully informed me that I had no street cred collateral. I cant even say BLING with conviction.)
The true explanation is very simple: I have a nine year old son. He says DUDE a lot.
My son is causing the DUDE, because DUDE, it turns out, is infectious. You can totally catch dude. Now even MIR, who used to say "Um, wait. Did you just call me...dude?" whenever I called her dude, is calling ME dude back. It's an earworm. I think I called my MOTHER dude today.
DUDES, I will have you know that I am writing a long DISH-FILLED thing about the CONFERENCE I attended this weekend, but I am out of time, so I will have to finish spooning the dish out tomorrow. SO, for TODAY, I better let someone else talk. How about....ALANA MORALES, a fellow mom and a fellow writer who is much cooler than me, and who can probably get through a fifteen minute phone conversation with her agent without calling him DUDE. I completely failed to do that today. Did you catch that? My agent, by the way, is 70 year old Connecticut old world gentlemanly charmer whose ancestry makes him a Belgian Viscount. But I just like to call him, you know....DUDE.
ANYWAY, Alana decided to give up her teaching career so she could stay at home and raise babies, and she realized it was one HECK of a transition....so she wrote Domestically Challenged. Written as a humorous guidebook, this book shows new stay at home moms how to:
~ Get over the myth of the Super Mom
~ Keep the kids entertained without hiring a circus
~ Find ways to keep up with housework, short of hiring a housekeeper (though we'd like to!)
~ Deal with the emotional aspects of her new job (including boredom and every mom's favorite - guilt)
~ And do things as outlandish as finding time for herself
JJ: So where did the idea for the book come from?
AM: Well, after my daughter was born I decided that there was no way I could go back to work, which was shocking since I never had a desire to be an at home mom. So I began staying home and I was completely lost! I had no idea what I was doing and was really surprised at how difficult it was.
So, being the dork that I am, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find about being an at home mom. I was very disappointed in what I found because many of the books were either out dated or they were very spiritual. I didn’t need to know about my spiritual journey through motherhood, I needed to know how to get my house clean around my kids and get dinner on the table.
One night I was sitting at the computer complaining about the books I found and my husband said “Why don’t you write your own?” So I did.
JJ: You also write a column called Fanily Business. Tell us a little about it, and tell us how writing a column differs from writing a book.
AM: The column began with me talking about all the craziness that surrounded my family since both my husband and I worked from home. As the kids grew older and I had more mishaps, the column morphed into more of a humorous mom column that recounts some of the calamities from my experiences. I plan to continue with the column and currently have it placed at about 20 different places online, as well as my local paper. It has also appeared on Club Mom and MomsTown.
Writing a book is vastly different from writing a column. Even if you are an article writer, writing a book is so much different, because you have to carry a topic for so long and be able to tie a group of topics together with a common theme. With the column, I can just think about the latest mishap from my life and run with it. With the book, there is much more thought involved - making sure the tone is the same throughout, making sure it all makes sense when put together, etc.
JJ: We have some writers on the list....you've gone with a non-traditional publisher that opperates as a co-op. Can you explain what that is and how things work at Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing?
AM: Well, the basic premise of the co-op is strength in numbers. It focuses on mom authors and their needs. Only so many mom authors are allowed into the co-op per year and as a bonus, we not only get our own royalties, but we share royalties off of the other members sales.
It's actually kind of funny, but I didn't realize that it was a co-op at first. Once I received the contract I noticed that there was a membership fee. Now, this was a HUGE sticking point with me (still is a little) but here is why I did it. I think I needed a little more leeway and flexibility with writing my book. For example, the pub date for my book was pushed back 3 times because I kept getting busy with work and the kids. I also had confidence issues with the book. These are not things that would have been tolerated by a bigger house, but since I was with the co-op, I had that option (though the third time may have been pushing it a bit!). I also didn't want to wait even longer to try and land an agent and/or publisher. If you have a book ready to go, the book can be published within 6 months. I like that there was less lag time. I could have been more patient and kept going the traditional route, but I didn't.
Signing with the co-op also forced me to write a book. With fiction writers, they have usually written at least one book before their first one is published, but this isn't the case with non-fictions writers. I had to learn how to write a book. Now, do I think I could have gotten a deal with a traditional publisher? Yes, but not with the proposal I had. I didn't have enough of my own personality in it and I didn't know how to get that in there. Writing the book has taught me how to do that. I also know how to go about writing a book and know what I would do differently. My writing has improved remarkably since I first began the book.
One point I would like to make clear - the co-op is not self publishing - distribution is handled through CDS books (who sells to Ingram) and our titles end up in major bookstores across the country. We are responsible for the editing and proofreading, then we get all the design work, including a branding package that includes business cards, letterhead, postcards, bookmarks, etc.
The responsibility of publicity for the book lies with the author. Initially I was ok with this, but after a few months of trying to drum up my own pub, I can see how a bigger name would help with publicity. We are currently working hard to build a reputation as THE publisher for mom authors, but I think there are still skeptics out there. It is still traditional publishing, but with more of a small town feel.
JJ: THANKS DUDE! I mean, Alana.
There's this kinda....odd guy I know from conferences and signings and whatnot, name of Sonny Brewer. He's a novelist. There's a story about old Sonny on the front page of the New York Times Style page thanks to writer Warren St. John's deep appreciation for ODDNESS. You should go read it. Really.
I know it seems a little pot-and-kettle for me of all people to call someone ELSE odd. At the Alabama Writer's Symposium this weekend, a man came up to me after my talk and reading, handed me a copy of my book to sign, and as I scribbled my name and best wishes to him, he layed a gentle hand on my shoulder and said, "You ARE in therapy, right?" When I laughed and said, "Oh, goodness me, no," he took his book and backed away slowly, looking more than a little alarmed. ALSO, just after a brunch where I consumed 4 glasses of tap water on the rocks, a friend stopped me as I headed to the parking lot and said, "Better pass Karen the keys. I don't think you're okay to drive, hon." I apparently send off natural crazy-slash-drunk vibes even when dead sober and at my most earnest.
So when I say soemone is ODD...well, I like to think there's a certain amount of CACHE there, you know? What on earth is the odd man's bizarro? Answer: Sonny Brewer. He's old school southern genteel crazy, part of a wild Alabama tribe of writers I call The Fairhope Posse, and if you are getting the impression that I have more than little fondness in my heart for the man and, indeed, the whole posse, you are correct.
Here's a typical Sonny story: He had a problem with his sewage system and a yard full of horror and everything had to be dug up and drained and patched and put back. In the middle of the process, he noticed the new wet concrete mortar collar for the sewer drain pipe was exposed. The whole yard would be shoveled back on top of it as soon as the concrete hardened, and Sonny got himself a stick and leaned down into the hole and did this:
He said he though a buried chunk of concrete whose sole purpose in life is to hold the crapper's pipe in place was a fitting monument to him.
Sonny Brewer KILLS me.
**CORNELIA just pointed out that this is my 500th blog entry. Yowza. In 500 more I'll be a millennium. Or something.**
I am now about 3/4ths of the way through her (^$$_@ archives. For your own job security, do not visit this website. You will nevernevernever get out of it.
My friend Karen now closes our morning phone conversation with "Call me later for a virtue check. Don't click your link to Miss Snark." A virtue check is when we drop trou and measure the comparative word counts of our MSes. (MS = short for Manuscript) Because it's all about quantity, baby. Size MATTERS, and only people whose MS is SHORTER than your MS will tell you otherwise. SO we set a time for the virtue check and then I say OKAY! V.C. LATER! NO MISS SNARK! Then I get off the phone, and I MEAN to open MS word but my finger SLIPS and hits netscape and UP pops my browser and BOOM! I click on the link to Miss Snark and I am NEVER. SEEN. AGAIN.
I tell myself it's fine because I am LEARNING THINGS! Samples:
1) There is a cocktail called The Woo Woo. Vodka, Peach Schapps, Cranberry Juice, No garnish, in a rocks glass. I double dog dare you to order this cocktail and see if ANYONE knows what a Woo Woo is. TRIPLE dog dare you if you are a man. Any man who is able to order a Woo Woo with aplomb has NO need for word count. I take it on faith his MS is HUGE.
2) The Isaac Asimov Short Fiction contest had some VERY earnest entries that could have WON The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I simply must quote you a few of my favorites. These are actual entries, and for once, the typos contained within them are NOT mine. WELL CRAP! I meant to just post three or four but I started reading them (over at Miss Snark's)again to choose and went into hysterics and so here are 90% of them.
Out of the dark void came what looked like a giant rabbit followed by small rabbits which had looked as if they had undergone a mutation with three ears and 2 tails. They discovered they were on Rabbitania.
Weston was known for the firm but genital hold he had on his men. It was one of the reasons he was chosen for this mission over six other equally qualified men.
Freddy was in the habit of staring at Beverly's legs as they peaked from her Susie Wong slit dresses. She had a dozen of them.
"Something must have happened, since it's not like her to come back naked and not aware of anything."
He groped in his trousers and came up with a dirty piece of trash which I thought he'd just throw away.
"Stand slow!" a voice rang out with hollow ubiquity.
When I thought of the poetics of such a confrontation in the blackness of eternity, I laughed sardonically, in a dry voice, to myself.
"Good morning, Anna, Lovely maid," Logo said in a soft voice bowing slightly, "How nice to see your structured form again today."
The two naked bodies, which were lying beneath the satin sheets, were no longer the people whom everyone, who was anyone, knew whenever reality was in existance.
"Oovil snetch," he growled in his mind.
My shouted words were lost in the damp chill, and my legs were already beginning to bale out, filling my shoes quickly.
The willowy king stood tehre with his usually sick disposition. From the faint light in the hallway, his yellow glaring cat eyes pointed at him.
Kildo threw his waning arms around the large granite boulder.
Miles looked deep into those clear blue eyes who's debts were infinite.
"Be good," he called after her as he bit back the tears in his eyes.
Sudenly, all the eyes in the room rose from their fixed positions on the floor to stare at him.
Mona was on the liquilounge, her dark eyes pouring over him like warm jello.
John wasn't at all surprised at the transformation of his body into what he believed were light waves.
Fearless, as he was dumb, he walked over to the edge of the ship.
"Are the shields contoured to the ship" the computer asked breathlessly.
The universe is a vast region of deep mystery steeped in antiquity.
"Do you want to come over and have a gunfight?" I asked. He seemed a bit loath to answer.
They were human in every way but they owned the necks, heads, facial expressions were that of a chicken.
"Ejaculations aside, that's one hell of a package to swallow!"
Of course, his eyes couldn't help but embrace the pool in front of them.
Jake was not a man to show much emotion, but he found himself supressing the urge to smile out loud.
Ashala's head felt like vermicelli slowly slipping off the platter of her sholders.
A pool of surpressedd sweat started building under his forehead.
Kincaid was an older man with sparse grey iron hair.
And he was damned attractive physically, too. When she looked at him she felt...unusual.
Instinctively, without thinking about it, he grabbed the woman and hugged her and then gave her breasts a couple of playful pinches. "Commander please," she said as she blushed and began yodeling.
He gazed at what appeared to be an invisable column coming from an infinite distance.
Onion oil! I couldn't imagine anyting worse than a daily bath in onion oil.
He was tall, thin and bony, like a cadaver trying to remember something,
what was it? oh yes! I'm dead, I shouldn't be walking around like this.
There would not be many more darknesses before Lyra became a guardian,
and if sheh was going to keep hes promises that she would still boil boldy
as a guardian, she might as well practice.
Talan gestured at the controls. "Overheating of the glycgroms in the thermoperamulator. You know how it is."
She is powdered, painted, and tearful, playing again one of her greatest rolls.
The man spoke a foreign tonuge to them which they followed with out question.
The faces of the children were tear stained and pained Zone Paw to move on.
Are you going to go up t her and say, (you have to pardon me I'm form another planet, Let's get together for a life spand.)" The dwarf came back strongly.
"Marry me my beautiful moonlight Luna to this sun-born, non-stop make and viola!"
It seems occasionally events occur which had they not happened no one would
imagine they could.
It ws a planet spinning around Proxima Centauri, an Earth like planet covered with an average of two miles of water.
On Nov. 29, 2083 the object wold hit. It's antimatter would interact with ordinary matter on Earth and there would be an explosion with the incredible force of 1000 megatons. New York City is doomed!
I have so many responses to that last one. INCLUDING but SO not limited to:
OH NOES! Well, if NEW YORK goes, perhaps we can all escape to RABBITANIA!
Or mayhap you prefer:
OH NOES! Well, if New York goes, at least we can count on the dwarf coming back strongly!
Of course, I am also learning how to CORRECTLY query so I can get an agent....oh wait. I guess I have mostly learned that I did it correctly back when I was doing it. BUT SHE'S SO FREAKIN' FUNNY. And I like getting a peek at what's going on in New York, you know? I live in a place so NON New York that MY NEIGHBOR OWNS A PIGLET. And this is not some CITIFIED fancy Asian piglet with a bow and a leash. This is a meat pig. It comes with GRITS as opposed to IRONY. In fact THAT particular piglet has probably already DONE BEEEN EATEN and there is a whole another piglet by now. Glory Be.
ANYWAY. Today, this afternoon, I leave for every Southern writer's Jerusalem... Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee spawned and then came to fruition and penned The Greatest Book on Earth without EVER mixing a metaphor like spawning and fru-itting. See also: Truman Capote. I'll be speaking at the Alabama Writer's Symposium. Monroeville would be PERFECT if only it was not in a dry county. Forewarned is forearmed, and I am personally forearmed with EVERYTHING you need to make a Woo Woo, including a shaker and Karen Abbott (fellow writer and certified mixologist.)
Back to Miss Snark...TALKING about her, I mean, NOT going to her blog. I cannot go to her blog. All I have packed so far is five pairs of shoes and some underpants and I SWORE to my editor I would mail her this essay thing before I left and right now the draft reads so DRY that I suspect my OWN CORPSE got in a time machine and showed up yesterday to write it.
And ANYWAY, I am now on January 15th, 2006 in the Snarchives SO I need to SLOW DOWN and SAVOR the last bits before I am OUT of Snarchives and I... MUST. REVISE. TERRIBLE. DRY. CORPSE ARTICLE. MUST. POST THIS...BLOG. THEN...PACK...mu....um....Mu..s...t *clicks link to Miss Snark.*
Me: I predict you will be killed by wolves.
Him: I feel skeptical about that.
Me: I am completely psychic.
Him: I feel skeptical about THAT, too.
Me: What if I told you that I went down to the courthouse today and changed my name legally to "wolves."
Him: I would say two things. Thing one: The likelihood that you are are psychic just went up, especially since I am about to say thing two.
Me: What is thing two?
Him: Thing two: You changed your name to wolves? So now instead of calling you my bitch, I have to call you my bitches?
So I had this friend in high school named Angie. I used to sleep over at her house quite a bit because her mother was, shall we say, a little more flexible with the curfews than my mother. Angie was on her school's tennis team, and she liked to get up really really really REALLY early on Saturday and go run about with a racket and whang at balls. (GARG!) This was back before I disovered my dear old friend Permanent Insomnia. ANYWAY. She would get up. And want to go do things. And meanwhile I would, like any sensible teenager, be layed out in a vegetative state so profound it approached coma.
When Angie got tired of waiting for me to arise, she would bring unto my room her mother's teeny tiny apricot poodle, a small and fluffy object with painted toenails and the true poodle haircut and little bows attached at all its corners. It was an utterly innocuous poodle, a lady-dog named something like Princess or Missy, but it was too slight and negligible to tote about anything as weighty as a name or a three letter gender-specific pronoun. It was called it, in the same cooing spirit that adorable babies are called it. I myself was known to perpetrate whispery blandishments when I saw the bright black specks of its eyes peering up at me from beneath its sprouncy topnot. I would find myself saying things like, "Ooooo! What is it DO, that poodle? Whatsit do? HMMM? HMM? WHATSIT DO, THAT POODLE!"
This poodle was so SMALL and DOVELIKE that it could not summon the amount of inner conviction needed to reach the mattress of a high bed, such as the one where I would sleep when I overnighted at Angie's. It would come twinkling into the room on its speedy little feet, pause, cock its head as it considered distance and velocity, and then it would audibly think to itself, "Oh my. THAT looks like a scramble," and go pitter-pattering weightlessly away on its fluffilicious route to somewhere else.
BUT. If I slept too long, Angie lifted it up and put it in the bed.
I say to you, and I speak as one who knows, that there is nothing, no, nothing, no NOT ONE THING more disconcerting then waking up to find the wet and insideously wormlike tongue of a miniscule poodle jammed as far up your nostril as it can possibly go. That poodle wanted to taste sinus. No, that poodle wanted to taste BRAIN. Brain-tasting was a life mission. That poodle would UNFAILINGLY and IMMEDIATELY go into anteater mode if it came upon a supine and slumberous nostril-owning human. And it did not RETRACT the tongue. It didn't want to LICK the inside of a nostril so much as it wanted to JAM the tongue in and UNDULATE and PULSE and WRITHE AROUND .
I say to you, as IRONCLAD proof of my kindness toward and delight in all things dog-ly, I never ONCE killed that poodle. Angie is of course buried under my scuppernong vine tree, but that poodle lived a long and delightful life, and nothing bad ever happened to it. Not one thing. Not ever.
NOW TO BUSINESS. There are foxes to be won.
THUS SAGT KAREN ABBOTT: "A good limerick is by DEFINITION bawdy. I pick Africanbleu."
A little link click from the comments allowed me to discover (in the same sense that Columbus "discovered" America) that Africanbleu is in fact BECKY, who pens a blog called Pith, Marrow, and Coffee Spoons. GRATZ Becky! Shoot me a snail address via e-mail, will you?
THUS SAGT MY SHAMEFUL HAIKU JUDGE: "...."
THUS SAGT MY NON-SHAMEFUL REPLACEMENT HAIKU JUDGE: "After painful deliberation, I go with DebR:
Here a girl is born,
There stolen. Destined to live
between fox and bear.
Especially because she used "between" in there, which was extra special tricksy of her to do. But I love Dianna's hobbit one and Karry's one about cats not making tootsie rolls for dogs, too."
Congrats DebR, you must also send me a snail addy via email.
I have to say, I don't know if it was the best HAIKU, but the best OPENING LINE for a poem that I have ever read ANYWHERE, even in KATES AND YEETS, is probably, "Dog! Do not eat it!" Scott and I now say that line all the time, appropos of absolutely nothing. One of us will just yell out DOG! DO NOT EAT IT! and the other one will crack up.
We must send THANK YOUS to the lovely and benficent replacement Haiku Judge, who was none other than CORNELIA READ. Remember YEARS ago when Cornelia used to comment here and her stinking tossed off asides were better than the blog entries they hung from and alla ya'll reprobates who hang out here would say OOOOH CORNELIA! YOU ARE FETCHING AND DOUBLE CLEVER, WHY DON'T YOU GO GET YOUR OWN BLOG???? Well, now she did. And then alla ya'll reprobates would say, OOOOH CORNELIA! YOU ARE SO SEXUALLY UNREPRESSED AND GLISTERING WITH PULCHRITUDINOUS DELIGHTFULNESS, WHY DON'T YOU GO WRITE A REALLY GOOD NOVEL? Well, now she did.
Go buy it, it is beyond good. BEYOND. It and a book called WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (not out yet) are the two things I have read with the most relish and unmitigated delight so far this year, hands down and dirty, bar none and nothing.
What I want to know, oh alla ya'll reprobates, is why no one ever told her, OOOOH CORNELIA! YOUR BREASTS ARE LIKE WHITE GOATS ON THE HILLSIDE AND YOUR VIRTUE SINGES THE EYES OF THE UNHOLY, WHY DON'T YOU BECOME A LUCRATIVE ROGUE STOCK MARKET ANALYST AND MAKE PILES AND PILES OF DELICIOUS MONEY AND PAY OFF JOSHILYN'S MORTGAGE?
I wish you had've. She really used to LISTEN to ya'll. *sigh*
BLOGGING FOR BOOKS is stretching its skinny little track marked arms! We need to peel it out of the gutter and give it a new and beautiful life in the suburbs where it can have the same lovely haircut as everybody else and find fulfilment in Wal-Mart's homogenizing embrace. WE WANT B4B TO BECOME UBIQUITOUS, OH YES WE DO!
If you blog, I BEG you to remind you reading/blogging audience that it is B4B time, and ask other bloggers who read your blog to blog it, and then it will be JUST like that shampoo commercial about the telling of two friends....what WAS that? Prell? Breck? NOT JUST BLOGGING! If you list serve, or if you belong to a writers group which contains bloggers, PLEASE help get the word out.
I've committed to three more months of B4B, lined up guest authors and such, so let's make it hard on them by giving them a slew of hella superlative entries. Also, from a purely selfish standpoint, I like to have a coupla blogs to read each morning with my coffee. HOOK ME UP.
*We remember with fondness The Zero Boss, because he made it up. Where is he now? I do not know!*
How to play: You blog on a chosen topic. You post a link to your blog entry in the comments below this entry. B4B closes next Monday when the comments close on this entry, EXACTLY seven days from the very second this posted. <----note the slight rule change.
Your special guest blogger this month is ClutterMom of The Clutter Museum. I keep finding myself back at this blog, poking around the archives. I like her style. ANYWAY. She won last month and so, alas, she can never enter again, but she is eligible to judge. AND JUDGE SHE WILL. She will narrow the entries down to seven.
If you are one of the seven finalists, your entry will be read by author Kim Ponders, who penned the critically acclaimed novel The Art of Uncontrolled Flight. Publisher's Weekly says, "This carefully crafted war story and romance marks an ambitious debut," and the L.A. Times calls it, "a horrowing off-course flight in the skies over Iraq." And Ms. Ponders knows her stuff---She was one of the first female pilots to ever fly in a war zone.
Kim Ponders will choose first, second and third place, and she shall send the winner a copy of her new book, signed of course. The winner will ALSO go up on the new B4B links section and will become eligible to be a special guest blogger and choose finalists.
And now, THE TOPIC! As usual your topic relates to the book...
The Art of Uncontrolled Flight (As Booklist says) " traces the trajectory of Annie Shaw as she follows the flight path of her philandering fighter-pilot father so closely that she nearly flames out. Annie deeply resents her dad even as she self--consciously emulates him by enrolling in the Air Force Academy, flying in the first Iraq war, and, yes, cheating on her spouse." So this time, blog about cheating. Any old kind of cheating will do. Games, Lovers, Tests, it's all fair game until you admit in writing that you've cheated on the ever-faithful IRS....