If you have been wondering, oh best beloveds, why I have been so silent and crotchety lately, making a puckery cat-butt shaped mouth and nattering endlessly on about pets-of-yore, or worse, been silent, squatting on the other side of a closed door from you trying not exhale so you wonâ€™t hear me back here and expect me to blog cheerfully about all the things I have NOT been doing, like, say, leaving the house or talking to other humansâ€¦ well. Itâ€™s because Iâ€™ve been in the long dark tea time of the soul.
My mental illness number left the stratosphere. I quit liking writing. I quit liking all the other things I like, like people and hiking and pictures of monkeys. I only liked television. And DQ. And Zefrank. (I still like Zefrankâ€¦)
BUT OH BBs! I finally DID quit it. I quit writing. Even blogging. I started living my life again and doing things I like to do--- I went OUT TO DINNER with a buncha literati and talked books and ate grits and scallops with asparagus at Rathbunâ€™s And I went TO A SOCCER GAME! And I went to CHURCH and I talked on the PHONE and made SUPPER and PLAY DATES and BEDS just like a REAL BOY, oh my Gepettos. Basically, I gave up, decided I couldnâ€™t do it. Quit. Walked off. Quit riding myself into the ground and hitting myself in the head for ruining something I had loved before I made it into air and food and water and tried to live off it. In short, I abdicated.
And then, relatively quickly, once I gave it upâ€¦TGWISS started happening again. It had closed down as I was trying to flog it forward, and I closed down with it and I have been SO mentally ill that I have been unable to function and all my jeans are tight as I stress-ate most of Wisconsin, which as you know has a higher fat content than most states. Dern cheese.
BUT NOW! Itâ€™s like thisâ€¦.
Pretend your grandparents once owned a house on Ward Basin and you remember going with your friend Jennifer and taking out their little putt-putt-putty motor boat, heading across the flat, brackish water---and both of you are tall, healthy girls, so healthy, euphemistically speaking, that at school your nickname is â€œthe Boobsey Twinsâ€ because the one of you is never seen without the other and, ahem, possibly there are other reasons, and you have put on your bathing suits because you KNOW if you go putt-putt-putting out to the visible center of the flat and tie up the boat to buoy pole, and if you then peel off your T-Shirt and lay down with one leg bent so the right knee is always a little more sunburned than the left, and drape yourself out, wearing only the smallest bathing suit your mother would permit (which is never HALF as small as the bathing suit you wanted) as Jennifer does the same on the other seat of your tiny boat, then you know BOYS will come, three boys with a faster stronger boat, boys very like that boat, all sleek silhouettes with mighty engines. They will appear because you have summoned them with the power of the tenth grade C cup, and theyâ€™ll say â€œYO JOSS! JEN! YOU GUYS ARE BACK! FOR ALL WEEKEND? WANT TO WATERSKI WITH US? WANT TO GO TUBING?
The boys hope you will wipe out and forget to let go of the rope, so that you are pulled along fast through the water and your bathing suit top will peel down and off and get in the current and be taken past the mouth of the basin and out to sea, never no never no never never to be seen again and you, of course, will just say, OH WELL and waterski topless. The boys will come with skis and rope and intertubes and Coca-cola as long as thereâ€™s the slightest CHANCE you might and you and the boys both are excited by that tiny possibility. And you ski until your legs are trembly strings and then sit in the boat while Jen is pulled, and you are wondering which one wants to kiss you and which one wants to kiss Jen and which one you want to kiss and which one will end up driving the boat home alone with chapped lips and bitter eyebrows when four of you jump out near the dock to swim under it and trade breath back and forth underwater, mouth to mouth.
The sun sinks halfway down in the sky, not quite sunset, and you see that a strip of gold light comes across the water right exactly to you. It leads from you to the horizon, a bright and tenuous path that ripples and breaks up into sparkles in the wake, and thereâ€™s this moment when you think you could step out of the boat and put your foot on that narrow strip of light and walk along it, arms out for balance, toes pointing between each careful step, and you could make your way across the water to some place as yet undefined. It would be triumphant, and you feel the timbre of that march inside your tired legs, and any moment, you can get up, step out, and go.
WELL. TGWSS has become like that for me again. Iâ€™m clambering right on out of the boat. I am walking on the water.
AND MY LORD but isnâ€™t that vomitously romantical? MUCH too gooey for me, eh? I donâ€™t have enough soul, you understand, to be fourteen and a true believer and step onto paths of light. I might as well liken TGWSS to a Backstreet Boy and I in my tube top and Bonnie Bell am finally oh finally for really truly kissing him!
On! The! Mouth!
So, all that crap asideâ€¦Iâ€™ll say this:
Hello. I missed you. I have decided to live.
cracks me up --- this is a chick who gives good interview. And she has new book out called Dollar Daze.
Itâ€™s the third in her beloved Bottom Dollar girls series, and itâ€™s a privilege to have her here.
JJ: What's the most interesting/funniest/weirdest thing you have ever done to try to promote your work or get the word out about a specific book?
KG: When my first novel Bet Your Bottom Dollar came out, I heard scads of horror stories about book signings and how often the only people who speak to you are those who are looking for the restroom. Bad book signings are so common thereâ€™s even a book about them, aptly titled Mortification: Writersâ€™ Stories of Their Public Shame.
I decided I didnâ€™t want to be mortified all by myself so I came up with the idea of touring with three other authors. Iâ€™d heard about the Deadly Divas, a group of mystery writers who toured together. Since my novel was Southern I thought it would make sense to invite three other Southern novels and call ourselves the Dixie Divas. I dubbed myself the Dollar Store Diva (because my series revolves around a former dollar store called the Bottom Dollar Emporium).
The Divas and I dress in boas and tiaras and put on a lively show and reading with jokes and anecdotes. Weâ€™ve traveled together for over two years now and have received tons of press. When traveling all four of us pile into one car and one hotel room. I like to call us Thelma and Louise squared. (Sadly we donâ€™t have our very own Brad Pitt but weâ€™ll willing to consider any potential candidates.)
We havenâ€™t been completely spared moments of mortification. Once, on a tour of Florida, the Cocoa Library hosted us. Our audience wasnâ€™t large and most were retirees. The librarian apologized for the small turn out and one of the patrons overheard her.
â€œYou should have been here last week,â€ the patron said. â€œThere was an author here who had them lined outside the door. They were packed in like sardines.â€
â€œWho was the author?â€ I asked, imaging Grisham, Pat Conroy or even Paula Deen.
â€œWell, I donâ€™t recollect the name of the author,â€ the patron said. â€œBut I do remember the name of his book. It was called Overcoming Incontinence.â€
So there you have it. Despite all our glamour and pizzazz, the Divas were upstaged by incontinence. Who knows? Next trip it might be hemorrhoids.
JJ: You recently remarried --- Gratz! Tell us about yer fella?
I was in what I call â€œthe hospiceâ€ stage of being single. I was in my mid-40s and after years of being divorced I honestly never thought Iâ€™d ever get married again.
There was this fellow named David Iâ€™d run into now and again but he could never remember my name and seemed utterly indifferent toward me.
I checked out this fabulous book from the library called The Crimson Petal and the White. I devoured the 800-word novel post haste and when I got to the end, I discovered a receipt with the name of the last person who checked it out. It was Mr. Indifference himself!
I ran into him again and mentioned that weâ€™d checked out the same book. For the first time, ever, he finally took notice of me. We chatted enthusiastically, started dating, and yes, dear reader, I married him.
While our courtship was going on I was writing Dollar Daze: Bottom Dollar Girls in Love. My personal life kept bleeding into the manuscript. Everyone in the book was falling in love. It was like Cupid spiked the water of Cayboo Creek S.C. the setting for Dollar Daze. One of my characters, a proper Southern widow named Gracie Tobias, hooks up with the love-of-her-life via a library book.
JJ: Do you think of yourself as a Southern writer, and what does that MEAN to you?
Iâ€™ve lived in Augusta, Georgia for thirty plus years but I wasnâ€™t really getting the true Southern experience. Yes, the dirt is red, the tea is sweet, and the Publix stocks Glory Pole Beans but with so many people coming in from other places, Augustaâ€™s southern flavor is somewhat diluted.
Several years ago I dated a fellow from Swainsboro, Georgia and as soon as we visited his hometown I was slapped silly with the glorious Southerness of it all. People still said things like, â€œI swanee itâ€™s hot out.â€ (Swanee mean â€˜swearâ€ but properly reared Southerners in small towns do NOT swear.) The cook at the diner got up at the crack of dawn to make slow-cooked grits and golly Moses, you have never tasted such wickedly good grits.
I flat out fell in love (not with the fellow, but with the town) and. I couldn't get a enough of small towns and their full-strength Southernesss. I went to Catfish Stomps, Chitlin Struts and Fire ant Festivals. Anytime I saw a meat-and-three diner on the road Iâ€™d pull over, order some country-fried steak and eavesdrop.
Iâ€™d copy down the signs Iâ€™d see in front of churches (Stop, Drop and Roll Doesnâ€™t Work in Hell) and take note of the businesses Iâ€™d see (Tuff Luck Tavern, Budâ€™s Bait Shoppe and Tanning Salon, Dazzling Dos) Iâ€™d listen to the small-town chatter of the local radio station in between country songs like â€œThereâ€™s a Tear in My Beer.â€
So the simple answer is, yes I am a Southern writer. The South, in fact, promoted me to write. I wanted to share what I saw. I wanted to preserve in my mind a culture that's disappearing.
So, Iâ€™ve been reading your e-mailsâ€¦ I realized I was reading too fast to get anything out of them, so I tucked all but the first ten or so into a folder called BLOG FODDER, and I shall pull them out, one by one by one, on days when I need them. Itâ€™s like a wrapped box you have given me, but Iâ€™m not opening it until my actual birthday, and here we understand that â€œmy birthdayâ€ means â€œwhatever crappy day I need a present.â€
MEANWHILE, the story about Walley was a response to one of those e-mails. The three things below are also responses.
1) Zona Rosa rocks. 1) The whole group really seems to get that itâ€™s the writing that matters.
2) There is only so sad I can BE, bunny, before I get bored with it. There are hidden joys in a short attention span...When I approach the absolute zero of sad, I look around until I can see one good thing. Itâ€™s there, a lot of its are there. Sometimes they go skittering under the sofa to hide, but they are there, and they are shiny, and shiny things distract me. AND OH UNCLE VANYA, I have faith. I do believe. We SHALL see the whole sky all diamonds, see if we donâ€™t.
3) Lydia---who also wrote this in comments--- is right. Iâ€™d completely forgotten that WalleyCat died in the yard. He was an indoor cat, but as he entered double digits (both in age and weight) he became extra wily. He could go transparent and goozle unseen out a door crack half his width. We live on a cul de sac in a small neighborhood, and once outside, Walley never left the yard. Weâ€™d drag him back in, and he would stand at the door and MEH! MEH! at us SO vehemently that he sounded like a disgruntled phone company employee. THAT NOISE earned him the middle name â€œMavis,â€ and eventually, when our brains felt so pierced by his high pitched spit of sound that we felt we could wear hoop earrings in our occipital lobes, Scott installed a cat door.
The night, after I told him not to die, he went all the way outside and pushed the eject button in a patch of verdant grass in the middle of our backyard. I have to tell you, from the safe distance of deck, he looked spectacular, the bright white and toffee of him glowing in all that green. Drama Queen, my Walley.
He was gorgeous, but he was also dead. I got close enough to see the stiffness of him, the absolute and final absence of Walley-ness, and then I retreated to the deck. Iâ€™m not sentimental about dead things. Once the magical part of being alive is over, once there is no there there, the left behind pieces are only sad to me. The piece I will miss is already gone, and I have never found comfort or beauty in an open casket.
I was stymied by what to do with WalleyCat. I was hugely, vastly pregnantâ€¦I didnâ€™t want to go out there and touch him, and yet I had loved him, so I also didnâ€™t want to go out there and pick him up like he was refuse, with a shovel. I was scared ants would be on him and I would forever then have to hate all ants. I didnâ€™t want his eyes to be open.
Thereâ€™s a strange disconnect in the wasteland between beloved cat and dead cat. I didnâ€™t want to put a plastic bag over him, anchor it with dirty bricks, and yet I didnâ€™t want to use the nice throw off the sofa either. I knew that even if I soaked the thing in BLEACH I would never be able to put it back in my den.
And I was crying and distraught. Words like â€œTowelâ€ and â€œOld sheetâ€ did not come to me. I called Lydia, and I donâ€™t know why those words didnâ€™t come to her either, or perhaps I had hysterical weeping reasons for dismissing them. OH! Wait. Maybe the old sheet was WHITE and the towels were PALEST bright petal pink? And would attract my kid? THAT WAS IT! I wanted to cover him with something that was more RESPECTFUL than a hefty bag, but wouldnâ€™t contrast so much with the lawn that it drew Sam to it.
I eventually chose an ENORMOUS pair of dark maternity leggings, and I went creeping up on Walleyâ€™s remains much like Walley used to ineffectually stalk birds. I was all bulky rounded belly and feigned disinterest, coming up sideways so I saw him only in my peripheral vision. I unfurled my pants over what was once my cat, and fled back to the house.
In later years, the outdoor setting increased his legendâ€¦had he died in the middle of the den, Scott would have seen him before he left for work. But that would have been convenient and easier on us, and thus completely out of character.
Thank you. You know who you are. We will talk more about your letters tomorrow. Today, I am going to tell you about Walleycat.
WalleyCat was the cat before Schubert, and in his old age, he became obscenely fat. He was toffee colored with delicate white feet, lady feet, so that his haunches looked like enormous chunks of mutton as they dwindled down to feet as small as the point on a stenographerâ€™s pencil.
WalleyCat was the most awful cat who ever lived. He did terrible, irascible, backwards things whenever he could rouse himself from his busy sleeping schedule. SAMPLE BEHAVIOR: I had not yet forever ruined my already-damaged-by-falling-off-horses spine via pregnancy, so I used to like to lie down on my stomach and bend my legs at the knee and wave my feet around while I read books.
Walley would walk right up to me and lie down across my book, inserting his enormous middle section between my eyes and the words, so that tufts of toffee colored hair went up my nose. Then heâ€™d crane his head back and jerk his face across my chin to mark me as his own with the scent gland in his cheek. Most times, heâ€™d leave a silvery string of fishy cat drool on my face, but about every fifth time, heâ€™d slice my chin open with the Fang of Doom he kept hidden in his left jowl.
He stole coins and hid under furniture so he could leap out and bite ankles and he growled at strangers and he engineered escapes and pooped in ANYTHING RECTANGULAR, including cardboard boxes, ANY cardboard boxes, regardless of whether or not they already had books or shoes in them, and GOD HELP ME if I forgot to shut my underwear drawer. He feted me with alive lizards and dead lizards and parts of lizards, and whenever he brought me the PARTS of lizards I could rest easy, knowing he would soon throw up the missing pieces. Onto my pillow.
Needless to say, I adored him.
I had Walley for a very long time, and he had me right back. As he got older, he got grumpier and fatter and more horrible and devious. He moved from stealing change to stealing ANYTHING shiny and his voice got high and shrill and his meows changed to a squeaky disgusted SPIT of sound. â€œMEH!â€ he would say (exclamation point his). â€œMEH! MEH!â€
When I was very pregnant with Maisy, I came to him one day and said, â€œOh Walley, you are a terrible cat, but I love you. I have a baby coming soon, and I canâ€™t be sad, not with a baby coming, so even though you are a monstrous and terrible cat who has the black heart of a pirate and a piece of soul so small the electron microscope canâ€™t find it, please donâ€™t die. Hear me? I SAID DO NOT DIE, oh my most wretched and disgusting Walley. Stay with me and be my cat.â€
â€œMEH!â€ he said and stabbed the floor with his poinky feet as he marched away from me, tail lifted to show me his butt.
That night, THAT VERY NIGHT, while I was sleeping, he marched downstairs and lay down in the center of the floor and died.
No foul play, no sudden or lingering illness.
He died of NOTHING.
He died of WILLFUL DESIRE to do the one thing I had expressly forbidden.
Hand to God, if I had kept my mouth shut, he would be upstairs this very second, probably crapping in my bathtub.
As my mental illness number approaches the little 8 tilted on its side, I have decided to ask you for help.
I've forgotten how to tell a story. I'm all bogged in sentences and carefully explaining things.
So. That. GENTLEREADER. Understands.
Screw that. I'd rather go watch television.
I have been working in a manner so unabated and insane that I've lost track of what I LIKE about this novel, which, I have realized WAY too early, is much too personal to ever let another soul read. I know, right? Just to be perfectly clear, this is not autobiographical. Just...personal. Big dif, but it doesn't FEEL all that different from where I am sitting now, in the middle of it. I'm so freaked that that I am messing up things I normally excel at, like motherhood (impatient with INTERRUPTING COW JOKES MUCH? Recently, yes.) And Public Speaking, which I usually enjoy, but is currently so terrifying I am turning down gigs I would normally LEAP at.
gods and Between are neither at all autobiographical but both SO personal and I didn't realize HOW personal they were until they were already out on the world and I was burying myself in a NEW novel to not notice how much of my inner Grendel I'd exposed. Now? I already am seeing terrible parallels and desperately trying not to learn valuable life lessons or come closer in some way to understanding myself. SO NOT INTERESTED. Because, really, my naval lint makes me cranky and exhausted. I'd MUCH rather watch television. And yet here my navel lint is. Pestering me to explain VERY CAREFULLY TO BELOVED FACELESS READER OF MY NOVELS what it all means, when really, it's just a damn good story.
Here's how I write: I get bored, and so I tell a story to myself. Then I tinker around with it because I want to know what happens next, and I want what happens next to be the right thing. Faceless Reader and Judgment comes later, and should be, to some extent, a surprise and completely disconnected from the initial process. NOW? I'm discombobulated and am vowing never no never not never notnot shall i ever do things out of order again. It's just a damn good story, I say to myself. It's just a damn good story..
Now all I have to do is remember how to TELL one of those.
SO, anyway, for the last two days I've been doing a lot of watching television. I love TV. TV shuts the brains off and the heart slows down and one approaches a state a being that is perfectly contained as itself and nothing more, like the platonic ideal of a sofa.
When my brains approach permanent hiatus and I begin to sneak up on flatline, I go watch the show at zefrank.com. Ze is sort of like television, only smaller. And low rez. And he has both more thinking and more poop jokes, so if he ran 24/7, always on tap, I think I would be a happier person. I would put in little earphones and project his GIANT TALKING FACE onto the inside lens of my glasses. Total escape into duckies and a vehement desire for peace and the 4 second cut away....Lint? What lint?
I haven't even been telling stories here, on FTK. I've been talking ABOUT stuff. I've lost my innate sense of Beginning. Middle. End. I've lost control of language.
Screw it. If you need me, I'll be watching television.
If you want me to TALK, I can talk ABOUT things. Mostly I can talk ABOUT TV, since watching it is what I do now:
1) Lorelei would NEVER have gone and slept with what's-his-bucket. That's just DUMB. DUMB way to end a season, DUMB hole to have to get out of in the final season.
2) SATAN has the reins at project runway --- VINCENT? BACK? Come ON! And you KNOW they will bring him back AGAIN at fashion week, right, like they did last season, as a HELPER. What kind of help is THAT? Couture glue bottle, anyone? It is Vincent without end, AMEN.
3) Super Password is the best rerun going on Game Show Network. Yes. Game Show Network. You know things are desperate here as I wait for the season premiers that aren't on Fox to kick in. I mean, DUDE when is MEDIUM coming back????
4) Except maybe Match Game. Because I think Gene Rayburn was crazy sexy. And I heart me some Fanny Flag.
I could go on like this for a very long time. Back to the novel I am not currently writing due to my full TV watching schedule....I dream these people. I swear to you this is the best novel I have ever not written and it is marching endlessly around in my head. I go to sleep with them. I wake up with them. Laurel and Thalia, Thalia and Laurel. I have a draft. It's currently in vivisected chunks on my floor because I had to tear out a whole wrongful section. NOW I have the missing pieces in my head...I see what should happen.I see the story, in my head. And there it stays.
There's a fundamental disconnect going on here. I HAVE the story now. I just can't tell it. People who love me are watching me snatch myself baldheaded and are telling me I need prozac or a trip to the mountains or to exercise more. Okay. I can try all that. But I suspect it's crap.
I look at FTK over the last few weeks, I sure have been talking ABOUT a lot of things. That's' the problem. I've forgotten how to tell a story. I've forgotten how to do the FUN parts. It's sort of like knowing how to be PREGNANT with all the attending vomiting and enormous butt-getting, and yet you go all Agnes of God and only see doves flapping if someone asks how the sex was, and THEN you NEVER ACTUALLY GET THE BABY.
So, I am taking the rest of the week off to watch some lovely television, and you, oh best beloveds, if you are kind and delightful and want to virtually pet my hair, are going to remind me how to tell a story.
No comments---let's do this via e-mail for the shy among you. Ask me a question. Tell me an anecote from your grandmother's life. Send me a link to a picture. Write me a Haiku. YES, I said HAIKU. These are desperate times, and I am willing to even try poetry. Send me ...Something. Give me a jumping off point. For the rest of the week, I will tell stories about the things you send me. Some will be true. Some will be foul lies. I just want to have FUN.
Writing has been work recently. If I wanted to WORK for a freakin' living, I would have become an environmentalist lawyer or a hooker. SO. Rest of the week is about PLAY. I'll blog here, and exercise more, and take a day trip to Stone Mountain. I'll even take my own homemade version of Prozac, which involves drinking Pomegranate martinis all day long on Saturday while watching a COMPLETE BACK TO BACK season of America's Next Top Model on VH1.
Your mileage may very well vary.
1) Sam: Knock Knock.
Me: Whoâ€™s there?
Sam: Interrupting cow.
Me: Interrupting co---
Ask my how many times I have heard this joke in the last four days? Go on. Ask me.
You: So, Joss, how many times have you heard that interrupting cow joke in the last four days?
Me: OH WHO IS COUNTING! ITâ€™S STILL SO FUNNY THOUGH. HA HA HA. STILLLLLLLLLL SO FUNNYâ€¦.kill me.
2) Zefrank. The newly crowned links empress beejsnyder sent me Ze's way, and NOW I love Zefrank, especiallyâ€¦.the show. I have my innocent little children bouncing around the house singing â€œSPORTS RACER! RACING SPORTS! WHAT IS YOUR POWER MOVE?â€ Even though Zefrank is decidedly NOT for children and my children are banned from being even in the HOUSE when I watch Ze. Which I do. Every second I can.
I secretly have a power move. I JUST KNOW I would totally get into the league of awesomeness if I could find the courage to unveil it. MY power move involves fists! And seal bark noises!
Next time I am in New York I feel sure I will run into Zefrank at a bar or local eatery. I am looking forward to it, and I have carefully scripted our conversation so he wonâ€™t ruin it by being an actual person. I will have to carry a sheet with me so he knows his lines. Thatâ€™s not scary.
Me: HI ZE.
Ze: Hi..do I know you?
Me: Iâ€™m YOU. You know YOU? The Universal second person you address on â€œthe show?â€ I bet you never expected to run into YOU here.
Ze: I might be scared of you.
That last line wasnâ€™t in his script. Stinking Ze, I JUST met him, and ALREADY heâ€™s gone off book.
He was SUPPOSED to say, â€œHow many times have you imagined having this conversation with me?â€ And I would say â€œNot as many times as I have heard the knock knock joke about THE INTERRUPTING COW.â€
HERE ARE A BUNCHA (defined here as "two") REASONS TO NEVERNEVERNOTNONEVER FOLLOW THE LINKS TO THE SHOW AT ZEFRANK.COM.
1. It is political, and any contact with politics, even TYPING the word political makes me have to sit in Chlorox and scrub at myself with a barbed wire loofah to get the filth off. And yet I like Ze to talk about politics. And airlines. And Duckies. Talk about whatever, Ze. We are all fine here.
2) He uses the very bad words. All of â€˜em. So this your WARNING, POTENTIAL SPORTS RACERS. My website is PG 13. Ze is for grown-ups. You need to be THIS HIGH to ride that ride, where â€˜this highâ€ is defined as â€œold enough to have taken (or dropped out of) an ethics class.â€
3) If you ARE NOT â€œthis high,â€ then consider this NEXT link to be the blue pill, and TAKE IT, Keannu,
especially if you want to see two guys with VERY HIGH mental illness numbers and way too much spare time playing with Mentos. Fresh and Full of Life is only the beginningâ€¦and YEAH I know half of you are already hip to the eepybird, but latecomers like me will preesh the link.
4) Maisy: Knock Knock:
Me: Whoâ€™s there.
Maisy: Intratupting cow.
Me: Intratupting cow who?
Maisy: Intratupting cow is at the door!
I have heard that one SEVERAL THOUSAND times now too. STILL! SO! FUNNY!
SORRY! NO ICON THIS TIME â€“ I am experimenting.
Now is the time on shprockets when we try out MS WORD. Remember ages and ages and OH JUST AGES ago, I had to quit writing my blog posts in Word because something about Moveable Type would then change every â€˜ into a % and every â€œ into a & and add little LINES and SQUIGGLES so that it looked like I had brain Martians adding secret messages for my â€œspecialâ€ readers. You know, the ones in the tinfoil hats. SO. Iâ€™ve been blogging without benefit of Spell Check, straight out of word pad, for nigh on two years now, oh beloveds, and the gods of crapulent self-editing have feasted richly on my incompetent typing.
BUT, Scott got me the NEW MT. If this posts and looks normal, then you can count on 40% less typos from here on out. Maybe 50%. Can I get a HUZZAH? Or, if you are British, AN Huzzah?
Today I am turning this blog over to the mercies of MS word, and to my friend Melanie Lynne Hauser who penned Confessions of Supermom , a book that is SO ready to spank some crime and send it to bed without supper. Iâ€™ve had Melanie as a guest before, but now she has touched knuckles with her hardback debut and the book said,
FORM OF! A TRADE PAPERBACK!
And she said, simultaneously of course,
OKAY, YOU DO THAT!
and stayed exactly herself. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
Publisherâ€™s Weekly says, â€œLike its title character, this debut novel has a secret identityâ€¦ unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer.â€
As an added bonus, CoSM is has a new cover, a sequel on the way, and is 100% Gleek free.
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog----how did youâ€¦ Find an agent,
MLH: The old fashioned way. I cold-queried a lot of agents. I had no inside scoop, no contacts, no cleaning lady who worked for such-and-such in publishing. (And believe me, I've met authors - invariably based in New York - for whom this was the way they got into publishing!). So I'm living proof that you can have few writing credits, no MFA, and zero contacts, and still be published.
JJ:â€¦ sell that first book,
MLH: Well, I wrote three previous books that weren't good enough. Each one was a learning experience; each got me closer and closer to publication. I think I'm blessed with an almost childlike attention span. That is - I get bored easily, so I was never the kind of person to spend years and years obsessing with one project. I just have to move on, and I think that was a blessing for me. It helped me take the important things I learned with each project and discard the rest without wasting valuable time trying to flog a dead project. I truly think that being childishly unfocused was a help, in this case.
JJ: â€¦and come to realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career instead of a personal passion or a hobby.
Once I was published, I realized I didn't want to be a one hit wonder. I realized that I loved doing this, that I had so many more stories to tell, and so that's when I really became most anxious about publishing as a business, and all the obstacles there are to that goal. It's still a passion, but it's also, now, a business. And I have to respect it for that, and learn as I go along.
JJ: How important is location to you as a writer, or, a better way to say that might be, could these books be set anywhere else?
MLH: Actually, I never thought location was important. In Super Mom, I made up an entire town, because I thought it was easier that way; I didn't want readers emailing me, complaining that I got the streets wrong. It was set in Kansas mainly as a tribute to Superman, but I think it could be set almost anywhere.
However, I just finished a manuscript which just HAD to be set in western Massachusetts. I have no idea why. But that's where the characters lived; the industrial northeast was a huge part of the book, and then all of a sudden New York City, too, became very important to the whole attitude of the book, and I have absolutely no idea why that happened. But it did. I could not have written the book I wrote if it hadn't taken place in the east. This is one of those mysterious, pretentious authorly things I generally hate, but I can't explain it any other way.
JJ: Tell us about where you are in your life and how it influenced this book?
MLH: While I think the protagonist in CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is the least like me, of the protagonists I've written thus far, I do think she and I share one important issue. We're both at a time in our lives when we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, childrearing-wise. In other words, we can see there will be a time, and it's sooner rather than later, when the kids will be out of the house, on their own, and suddenly we're faced with a big question: Who am I, if I'm not "the Mom?"
I was definitely starting to explore this in my own life when I sat down to write Super Mom. And so my protagonist is also at a similar junction, and at the beginning of the book she's letting it overwhelm her, causing her to look backward, be overcome with memories. I think this is a very easy choice to make, for many women. However, by the end of the book she's learned to embrace all she's done as a mother, appreciate her children where they are now and for who they will be as adults, and use it all to propel her forward into a new, exciting future. That's the big point I wanted to make with this book. Now, I think I need to read it myself, from time to time, so it can sink in!
My friend Lydia has posted the universe's most disturbing recipe to her moblog. I spent about half of last night saving the file I was working in and clicking over to stare at the meatball page some more.
The recipe purports to make "Zesty Porcupine Meatballs" and I do not understand how this can be so. Go look at them.
They don't look prickly. Does the rice stick to them? To make the prickles? They don't seem to be made out of ground porcupine, either, which is on many levels a mercy, but still...And the recipe contributor is named "Michelle R." If it were Michelle P, I might could let it go. The name of this recipe is as dense and inexplicable as the reason they remade Wicker Man.
More inexplicable things: Why, after looking at the picture, would you WANT to make a zesty porcupine meatball? Also, if I put a round meatfood object on a plate and called it a Zesty Porcupine Meatball, Maisy would no more eat it than she would eat "Leg of Brother" or "Quiche Manure." As it stands, to get her to eat UNzesty regular-meat meatballs, we have to call them "Small round hamburgers, you know you LOVE hamburgers, that we are having with our pasta!" I think MANY kids are like this, and yet the presence of canned soup ASSURES me this is a harried-mom sort of recipe, meant to be fed to little children.
EVEN MORE INEXPLICABLE THINGS: There are 60-some reviews of this recipe, and it has 4.5 stars. That's a half star more than some OSCAR WINNING MOVIES. Also, the reviews act like there is this ESTABLISHED thing called a porcupine meatball that everyone makes and eats all the time. One review said, "They had more zest than the normal porcupine meatballs I make!" This is an oxymoron as by definition, a meatball cannot be BOTH normal and porcupine.
OH BEST BELOVEDS, can you tell I have finally gone right around the mystical bend? When you begins questioning the zest of random roadkill recipes as doing so were somehow existential....yeah. Mental illness number is at about 7,000. Forgive my neglect and my poinking at random soft spots in my brain until words come out. I hope to be less mentally ill tomorrow. Or in fifteen minutes. Or four days. Or when the moon is in retrograde.
In a COMPLETELY unrelated bout of lunacy, monster dot com just sent me a job listing and included A MESSAGE FROM A BENEVOLENT UNIVERSE. The note on top says:
Dear member of Monster.com!
We have a great position for you!!!
Either monsterdotcom LOVES me or some pR0n spammer is hoping to trick me into clicking a link that will cause me to accidentally see naked breasts, which is step one in giving me a pRon addiction which will eventually lead me to gambling and dancing, OR, as previously hypothesized, I am being given interactions for living via SPAM. My big clues that this e-mail is NOT what it seems:
1) I am not now nor have I ever been a member of monsterdotcom.
2) the job is for a SHIPPING AND RECEIVING CLERK with Wells Fargo. I can't IMAGINE a job I could mess up more than THAT, except maybe brain surgeon.
and----now we come to my favorite---
3) After the dry job description which explicated a HOST duties, all of said duties requiring massive organizational skills, the following sentence appears in italics:
"Don't be scary, its not hard!"
How mentally ill is it that I find this message, with its earnest inability to know the difference between it's and its and its exhortation to stop frightening the children, to be warm and personal and caring.
I am going to guess....SO. MENTALLY. ILL. And yet I can't help but think to myself "The pR0n spammer or possibly monsterdotcom or even a benevolent universe thinks it is NOT THAT HARD! HURRAY!"
I hope it isn't the pR0n spammers. I'd hate to be getting warm fuzzies----of ANY sort---from those people. They are as inexplicable as that recipe to me---especially the CRAFTY ones. WHY on EARTH do they try to trick me into seeing naked breasts? There are SO MANY people out there who are googling frantically around TRYING to see some naked breasts all on purpose. Why inflict surprise bosoms on people who innocently hope to become Shipping and Receiving Clerks?
Final Inexplicable thing for today: HOW ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH DID SOME MEATBALL SMOKING LUNATIC GET THE GREEN LIGHT TO REMAKE WICKER MAN??????
Perhaps the benevolent universe's message----"Don't be scary"--- was actually intended for the Wickerman remake. In which case, I can only tip my hat. Way to listen, W.R.
After I worked out this morning, I went to find Maisy and help her pack three things that begin with the letter "a" into a carefully labeled lunch bag. The kid is FOUR, and already with the homework? OKAY THEN! I found her in her room sitting flat on her bottom, her feet out in front of her. Her nose was wrinkled, her mouth turned down and hanging open, and tears were standing out in her eyes.
Me: Oh honey, what's the matter!
Immediately her face snapped back to its usual cheerful expression.
Her: I'm not sad, Mommy. I'm practicing my feelings.
She showed me some more feelings she'd been practicing, willfully lighting her eyes up and releasing a perfect sunny-side-up smile to show "happy," contracting her whole face and making all her features seem smaller and closer together to show "mad," and then she widened her eyes and made her mouth be round and soft and small until she was palpably leaking sadness, OH! SUCH sadness. She made the face of one of those orphans or rained on kittens they painted on velvet in the 70's. Then she showed me mad again, the contraction of the face spiced up this time by a GROWL.
Her: "That face with a growl is WAGE, Mommy. WAGE is SUPER mad!"
My son, God love him, is quite a different creature. He's absolutely transparent. If he's sad or hurt you can SEE him visibly trying to squelch it, trying to be manly, but it leaks out in the set of his shoulders, in his held breath. I can read his every thought in his windowpane eyes. Sam can't shine ANYTHING on ---- he is literally the WORST liar in the history of the universe, which, speaking as his parent, I think is AWESOME.
This girl child is something else entirely. Spooky.
Ever since I had my guest spot over at Literary Chicks I've wanted Mr. Husband to upgrade my Moveable Type. Lani and Co. have the latest greatest MT, SO late-n-great that Jay Allen himself said that the new MT makes BLACKLIST obsolete, and I got to use it while guesting and got all drooly and charmed over its easy interface and bells and whistlies...Whoopsie. Did I just geek out? Yes. I did. Pardon ME! My Inner Egbert is showing. Ah well. ANYWAY. Thanks to a monstrous spam attack that rendered my web site virtually unusable, I HAVE IT NOW. Cackle! I should probably send Thank you notes.
While I was so sorry to hear of the small flaccid-ity problem that sent you to my site to tell other folks about the great source for willy-fixing meds you found CHEEP SO CHEEP, I am heartened to report that your ceaseless clamoring has resulted in a new MT for yours truly. I am duly grateful. Please, enjoy the fruit basket.
Like that. Only I'd have to write 7.9 MILLION of them to get all the URLS that were going up in that pink gelid OCEAN of fine canned Hormel Meat Food Product.
HEY! LOOK WHAT MY NEW VERSION OF MT CAN DO!!!! It can do the thing where the LONG part goes UNDER. I'll talk about Beth Ann Fennelly and why I love Beth Anne Fennelly and the myriad perfections of Beth Anne Fennelly after the jump, and I MAY even snatch up pompons and run around shrieking BAF! BAF! BAF! FOREVER! RAH!
Okay. No Pompons. Let me just say....remember that whole thing about I am dead inside? No? Put "I am dead inside" or even "I don't like songs" into the SEARCH function on this blog. See also, "I don't like nature." To that litany of soullessness, let me add, I don't much care for POETRY.
98% of it leaves me icy, icy cold. Corpse cold. TUNDRA cold. I've had a twenty year love affair with The Novel, and I am almost faithful about it. Sure, I slip off under the bleachers with a thematically connected cycle of short stories every now and again, or I'll meet up with a hot "Novelistic" narrative non-fiction at a seedy motel, but MOST days, I deface the walls of every public rest room I visit with my hot pink mini sharpie, writing, "Me + Novel, 2gether! 4Ever!"
So you know I don't mack on the poets much. NOW OF COURSE, there are exceptions. Auden brings me to my knees. You aren't human if you don't like Emily Dickinson, and I am told e.e. cummings gets a bad rap these days, but I SHAMELESSLY LOVE HIM, his grudgeful i's and his hookers and his dreadfully overexposed little red balloon man with the incessant whistling. But really, that's about all the poetry books I like enough to BUY and OWN and keep on my ACTIVE REREAD SHELF. Until Beth Ann Fennelly.
I got stuck hearing her read at a lit fest a year or so ago, and after thinking, "Oh dernit, I am about to be in the same room with POETRY and yet there IS NO BAR," sat there so enthralled I think I drooled a little bit, and then went and bought both her second book of poetry and a non-fic book she wrote. Then I hung around her for the rest of the conference like an enormous poem-groupie. sadsadsad.
I just heard her read AGAIN in Decatur. Blatantly walked into her panel, squatted in the back, listened to her read, was blown even MORE FARTHER AWAY and then snuck out the door in the break before any MORE poets could perpetrate verse. Partly I fled because---ahem, see above. I don't like poetry. But also partly in case they were wonderful, too. I can't go around CRUSHING ON POETRY like a schoolgirl. I have 30 novels in a stack I am dying to read, DYING! DYING! so much so that when I finish one I can't decide where to go next and hover over the pile anxiously pawing and sorting, unable to commit. I can't start LIKING POETRY all Willy-Nilly here in my dotage. SO. But Lord I like that BAF's stuff. It twists around on itself and is funny and is by turns charming and arresting and hopeful and bleak and sly and lush and dirty and smart. It is never senselessly beautiful, a peeve of mine. Beauty with purpose. All things with purpose. Go read it.
I followed her around some more in Decatur, and there was this moment, where a SOLID LITTLE CLOT of writers were standing in a bar stairwell, and a long troop of people were heading down the stairs past us. We were chatting, and this girl came down the stairs, trip-trap-clip-clop, a regular looking girl with flipped hair and nice jeans. She casually glanced at our group and then leaned conspiratorially over to Beth Ann and said, "I like you best." Then she went on, trip-trap-clip-clop. "Thanks," Beth Ann said to her back.
Karen and I fell out. It was so PERFECT. It was like this girl had taken the crowded, wide stairwell at a glance and, with her discerning, wise eyes, immediately picked Beth Ann Fennelly as the ripest peach, the single bruise-less banana. "I like you best," she said, the way you or I might say "Nice shoes," and then trotted on to see who she liked best in the room at the BOTTOM of the stairs.
Ah well, I can't blame her. I like Beth Ann Fennelly best too.
TODAY I AM HEADING TO SIBA! As you MAY RECALL, gods in Alabama won their novel of the year, and so I get to go to Orlando and have lunch and make a speech and a get a PRIZE. I am violently excited. After tomorrow, I will officially be AN AWARD WINNING NOVELIST. You know how they always put DESCRIBERS in front of the word novelist... critically acclaimed or bestselling or award winning. NOW I get to be a part of club three. TRA! And then also I say, LA, as a bonus.
SORRY -- Still trying to make the new MT work. If you can see this, then that is a good sign.
If you can't see this, then I am pretty much sitting here babbling to myself, which makes today indistinguishable from MOST days around here.
Pass the lithium...
BAH Still troubled. Scott swears he will get it fixicated this evening.I am having trouble sending e-mail, receiving e-mail, and posting.
IF this posts---and check the time, I've been trying to make it post on and off since 6:45 am ----I will officially be part of PROJECT PIMP SQUAD, Anne Frasier's whirlwind day of pimpification. 99 bloggers will be posting her video DIRECTLY to their blogs. Here I am, supposedly #100, and my blog won't post a video right now. I will be happy if it posts this TEXT. SO. Maybe I can be counted as 99.5?
The blog is under unstoppable spam attack. I can't ban the perps. The only thing I have the option to ban is google.com because these NEW spam programs have somehow subverted THE BLACKLIST! I'm so lagged and tormented I don't know if this will post, and I am getting 30 - 40 e-mails an HOUR of love drug comments from PHARM 4 U and UR HARD DRUG CHEEP and many many other GREAT and TRUSTWORTHY sources for prescription medication. Because who wouldn't want to accept fistfuls of drugs from people who can't spell the pronoun "you?"
Filed under TMI, I would also like to say that if I am a man in my next life and MY genitals ever stop working properly, I think instead of, say, seeing a doctor and then going to the Kroger Pharmacy, I will IMMEDIATELY order some HOME MADE viagra-like substances from possible criminals I find via blog comments. Because in my next life, I plan to be that sort of devil may care rebel! Maybe the drugs will fix the problem, or MAYBE my reproductive equipage will explode and kill me! Heavens, now THAT sounds like an ADVENTURE. THANKS, DOCTOR Spam Spider!
Mr. Husband is working on it.
Supposedly updating to the newer version of MT will fix their little red flaccid wagons. SO we are backing up all the drives and backing up all the files and backing up this and that and the other thing and implementing and recogitating and reformatting and etc.
By "we" I of course mean "Mr. Husband."
This is why we love the Mr. Husband.
AND WE ALL DO.
Why, Maisy said to him, just this morning, "Oh Daddy! I love you so! Even though you are hairy!"
Big of her, really.
ANYWAY. "We" are working on it.
Hopefully it will be fixed soon and I can tell you how FREAKIN'AMAZING it was to see the Indigo Girls after 15 years, and that the Decatur Book Fest blew the lid off the town, AND I met Tayari Jones.
All I can tell you right now is where to get Cialis soft tab-like objects for CHEEP! CHEEP! 4 U SO CHEEP!