March 30, 2007

Hearting Mr. Pan. Hating Alice.

They did not show Pan’s Labyrinth out here in the sticks, because they had to have Blades of Glory showing on three screens. Which, YAY for Will Ferrell, he makes me giggle and snork, but can we please have a screen for Pan? JUST ONE? Will would not begrudge us, I feel certain.

I could have waited for DVD, but I wanted to see this on a BIG BIG screen SO badly, I drove 45 minutes through rushhour traffic to midtown Atlanta. Totally. Worth. It. It’s like a dark and brutal Narnia for grown-ups, hard to watch sometimes because it’s set in Spain in 1944, Franco’s Spain, not too long after the revolution----not a gentle land of butterflies flowing with the milk of human kindness. It’s a hard and violent film, and I do not mean the over-the-top slo-mo beheading 300 style of violence. I mean it is a coldly and accurately violent, NOT for children… but with grace notes of such loveliness! Oh! My wizened raisin of a heart grew three sizes that day, and I’ve been thinking about this movie and the nature of Faith and the idea that greater love hath no man than this etc, on and off ever since.

Understand, I am not a snibbetty art-house film gal. I don’t like to wear black berets and talk about French Existentialist in the imagery over post-movie chai lattes. I do not think popcorn is passé. NOT A HIPSTER, me. When I see movies, I like things to explode. I am not averse to a car chase. I like it when the new James Bond takes his top off, very much I like that, and I am not ashamed. Lord, that’s a pretty man.

My Netflix has the following things Q’d up in right now, at the top:
Running With Scissors,
The Holiday
The Departed
Snakes on a Plane
Lady in the Water
The Prestige
Season 2 of The Office and
Season 3 of Doctor Who

So. Pretty mainstream fair. I say all this to say…

GO SEE THIS FILM.
At the very least, follow the link above and GO SEE THE TRAILER. Then you will want to see the film.

DOWNSIDE: Just as the previews ended and the movie itself began, the guy RIGHT behind us hollered, “ALICE! ALICE,” in the scream-whisper so BREATHILY LOUD he sounded like a man with extreme laryngitis trying to flag down a departing bus. If the bus’ name was Alice.

Alice came and sat down with him, earning my eternal loathing, and he spent the rest of the film Proving How Very Smart He Was (and here, you understand, the subtitle reads: Trying To Get Laid) which involved TELLING ALICE THINGS in the same voice you would use to try to have a conversation at a noisy Tapas bar.

“ Now see those woods, Alice? This part was actually filmed in South America, not Spain, which I think had to do with budgetary concerns. And that actress is South American, not Spanish, so that’s why HER accent sounds so different from everyone else’s, if you are listening closely which you cannot really do because I won’t shut up. Ever. I cannot shut up because smart people know the difference between South America and Spain (One is a COUNTRY, Alice, while the other is bigger than a country! Alice!) I must explain these things so that you will come to understand the most important thing about smart people. Which is, of course, that smart people have enormous johnsons. I am smart, did I mention? That’s a logical syllogism, Alice, do you know what a logical syllogism is? No? Would you like for me to explain it to you? Loudly? So you can hear me clearly over the movie? Because after all, Alice, they are SPEAKING SPANISH and people are just reading the subtitles ANYWAY so we might as well have a good if totally one-sided chat about production values and the type of lens that was used to achieve that amazing LIGHT IN THE TREES effect that would be so touching if I would allow you pay an iota of attention to it. But first, let me share everything I know about camera lenses while on screen beauty and terror are merging and the whole rest of the audience WOULD be held spellbound if only, dear Alice, you would get up and go have hot love with me behind the popcorn bar in the lobby. Would you like to? Before the rest of the people in the theatre rise up as one and stone us both to our sad deaths with their Jujubes?”

We got up and moved down the row, but THEN there were tall people ahead of us so we had to peer between the heads. As the movie progressed, the ongoing narrative of The Wanker was joined by OTHER noises of the shushing variety. Unfortunately, the Wanker had an EAR disorder which did allow him to hear the word “SHHHH” though it was hissed at him a total of nine times. Then the sounds of other couples and trios and singletons getting up and moving to the other side of the theater began.

By the time we came to the midpoint, there was an invisible line running down the center of the theater. On one side of it was Wanker and Alice, and on the other was everyone else. Yes. Alone. LITERALLY every person on the right side had gotten up and moved left, so as not to disturb their Important (one-sided) conversation. I never heard Alice speak at all. I hope she was MORTIFIED, and I WISH she had had enough spine to get up and move and join us.


Alas, she did not. BUT! I hope that after the movie was over, Alice gave him a cool handshake and went home in her own car and changed her phone number, and I hope that was predictive female behavior, and I hope furthermore hope that he NEVER gets laid or a girlfriend and dies alone, old and still toothlessly yammering when the rest of the people in the home are trying to watch Game Show Network, and he goes to his eternal reward having never had the opportunity to breed a fresh generation of movie talkers.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:51 AM | Comments (35)

March 28, 2007

3 Questions with Valerie Frankel

Instead of Owls, I offer Valerie Frankel, a freelance writer who resides in Brooklyn, NY with her two daughters and husband. She contributes to many national magazines, including O, [Glamour], Allure, Self, and Parenting. She’s also been a featured writer for the New York Times Style section. Val has written thirteen novels thus far, including The Accidental Virgin which has been optioned to become a movie starring Heather Graham, Smart Vs. Pretty, optioned to be made into TV show, and The Girlfriend Curse, nominated for a Quills award. She’s here today to talk about her latest novel.

ITakeThi.jpg

Penny Bracket has waited two years to marry her dream man. Just as Penny’s putting on the final touches on her wedding day, she receives a note from her beloved that simply says, “Penny, I can’t go through with it. Sorry, Bram” Mortified, Penny is determined to figure out what went wrong, even if it kills her, or, preferably Bram.

Penny’s mother wants Bram’s head on a platter. And she gets it: In a fit of maternal rage, Ester Bracket finds Bram as he’s packing to flee, knocks him out with a bottle of champagne, and kidnaps him to a secret room in her mansion in affluent Short Hares, New Jersey. Will Penny get the answers and revenge she’s after from Bram, who (as she may or may not discover) is locked in her attic? Will Bram’s widowed father, handsome tough guy Keith Shiraz locate his son and/or seduce Ester Bracket? Will Bram, athletic and regretful, escape both his wedding and his imprisonment in one piece? Find out in I TAKE THIS MAN

People magazine says Valerie is, “Always wickedly entertaining!”

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?

VF: More than what I know, I write where I know. “Place” is always crucial to me. Location sets the tone since people are always products of their environment. Most of my books unfold in and around Brooklyn, New York, where I’ve lived for nearly twenty years. The Girlfriend Curse is my homage to the state of Vermont, my summer home. My new book, I Take This Man, is a love letter to my natal state of New Jersey (only in NJ could a concussive blow to the head feel like a tongue kiss). I was born in Newark in 1965. My family lived in West Orange until 1974 when we moved to Short Hills. I graduated from Millburn High School in 1983.

I Take This Man is a New Jersey book in that it combines the Sopranos toughness with the Glitz and conspicuous consumption of the super affluent. Much like the fictional Short Hares, my hometown is famous for its "Ultimate Shopping Experience" mall. The Mall at Short Hills is a mere five-minute drive from my parents’ house. I have spent absurd amounts of time (and money) at the Mall since it was built in the mid-1970s. My high school friends and I all had jobs there, got our prom dresses from Laura Ashley, had our first cigarettes in the parking lot, shoplifted there, were busted there. Ah, sweet memories of youth. A few years ago, I heard about a man committing suicide by leaping off the second floor balcony at the Mall (he must have been depressed about how much money he’d just spent). He didn’t crash head first into the fountain like Russell in I Take This Man. I believe the jumper went splat on the marble floor.



JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

VF: I test the quality of plots on close friends and family—people who won’t lie and say they love everything. If my audience seems bored by the storyline, I immediately strike the idea from my list. If the idea goes over well, and the audience laughs a few times, I move it to the top. The test subjects for I Take This Man were three friends from Mademoiselle—the late, great magazine we worked at together before going our separate ways. The four of us regularly meet for dinner to catch up, laugh, drink, eat and conspire to help each other as best we can. On one such evening, I monopolized the entire meal by describing the plot of I Take This Man. These three (very) chatty women listened in rapt silence with expectant “go on” and “what next?” expressions as I told the story. By the end of the dessert course (we always order dessert), I knew I was onto something good. That meal stands out as the best feedback experience I’ve ever had. Hence, I’ve dedicated this book to Lauren Purcell, Jeanie Pyun and Daryl Chen.

JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood? I mean this in a personal way -- for you. Does one feed the other, are they similar for you, does doing one make doing the other harder, do these things compete or come from the same place or? What?

VF: Obviously, kids have needs, and are time consuming. They take away from writing time. But, they're also inspiring.

The basic idea for I Take This Man came from a typical day in the life of a working mother. My daughter came home from school, and announced that some little girl in her first grade class made her cry. A flash of anger flooded my brain. After a minute or two, I calmed myself down. Lucy and I discussed what had happened, and worked out an appropriate response. But that flash of maternal rage got my meat grinder going. Any intense emotion is a kick-start.

It made me wonder: What offense against one of my daughters would actually move me to lash out with violence against another human being? I fixated on the question, lay awake in bed, wondering what indeed would make an otherwise controlled, rational woman thirsty for blood? I imagined being the mother of a jilted bride who, in a fit of vengeance, attacks the runaway groom. From there, I asked more questions: “Why did the groom cancel the wedding?” “What did the mother do with the groom after she bashed him?” “How would the bride find out what happened?” Five hours later, at three o’clock in the morning, I had the framework of a plot.


PS! Did you notice that on AMAZON's better together marketing thing that suggests another book that goes WITH the one you are oggling, Valerie's book is paired with the 7th Harry Potter book? Um, yeah. I bet EVERY book is paired with the seventh Harry, hehehehe.

"If you like...books, like this one, with words in it, you ALSO need to buy a copy of HARRY'S LAST ADVENTURE."

Of course, I've already pre-ordered Harry, so I should shut my pie hole.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:43 AM | Comments (4)

March 27, 2007

Yacking About Writingish Things

When I went to college, my father offered to buy me a computer.

“OH NO!” I said. “What do I want with a COMPUTER??!?! I don’t plan on being a GOOBER when I grow up, silly Father. I plan on being a WRITER! What I need is an IBM Selectric and a host of black clothes and some methadone!”

He bought me a word processor about the size of a modern laptop with an attachable mini printer, his compromise between my desire for typewriter street cred and what he saw as a key to college term paper success: the ability to edit on screen. I pranced off, making the same sort of compromise by wearing the all black clothes but completely neglecting to get addicted to heroin.

I think of it now as I prepare to wade back into TGWSS for line edits at the end of this week because I JUST NOW put Toggy into a SINGLE FILE.

See, I wrote on that old word processor for more than a decade, and by the time it had come to the middle of its small brained and pathetic mono-purposed life (and I was cursing my 18 year old moronic self, desperate for a REAL COMPUTER) it had some troubles.

The main trouble was, that WP really wanted to belong to a short story writer. It was a BIG O. Henry fan, apparently, and loved the short form SO much that if a document got over 5,000 words long, the WP would CRASH and lose pages. *sigh* It would have been good discipline for a short story writer---anything over 5,000 words is a very hard sell.

But for me, writing full length plays and beginning to realize that when I read, my hand reached for a novel every time, not shorts, not plays, and that maybe I should be writing the thing I LOVED…it was very annoying. I wrote my 100 page fictional Masters Thesis on that thing. Saved in chunks of 4,000 words, and I wrote my first novel (not gods in Alabama, a very SHORT novel about this snake who bites an old man’s eye out…surrently R.I.Ping in the drawers under the bookshelves in my office) on it, and I had it saved in chapters.)

Scott and I were living in Chicago then, pretty much subsisting on jug wine, oxygen and love with the occasional infusion of Top Ramen. AH grad school! So it was aWHILE before we got a computer. When we DID….well. I was already in the habit of the 5,000 word save. I wrote the next three novels (another unpublished, gods, and then Between) in the same way, each chapter saved alone.

With TGWISS I managed to wean myself between drafts to save in 3 and 4 chapter section of AROUND 100 pages each, but it made editing over the phone HELLISH as my editor would say “Now here on page 287…” and I would be on page 72 of section 3. YARG!

ANYWAY. I may TRY to write this next book in ONE FILE, but I just took a rough draft run at the beginning yesterday, and I realized this AM that I did not name the file TRR, as the now complete THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING single file is named TGWSS. I named this, “TRR Chapter 1.” Um, yeah. So. Old Stupids Die Hard.

IN OTHER NON STOLEN OWL RELATED NEWS, my publisher has changed names. Same people, same everything, but we are now GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING. I got a letter from my publisher yesterday about it, and I think it's a pretty dern cool new name.

According to Galleycat, other possible press names were Blue Heron, which could have had a cool logo, but is maybe not the exact right name for a New York house. It sounds the TINIEST bit regional. Other contender was Jack Straw Publishing, which I ackshully kinda really liked. I see the problem with it, but I did not close my eyes and think of Parliament. I thought of this.

Anyway, I like the new name best, and I tell you what I LOVE, I love the SLEEK G over C logo that will be on the spine of TGWSS when it releases:

grandcentrallogo.jpeg

Monstrously cool looking.

And in closing, I say to you, my bestest of all best beloveds in your starched pink Sunday socks: Owls yesterday, Owls tomorrow, but never Owls today.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:49 AM | Comments (19)

March 23, 2007

Hew Weal Fuw Coat

WARNING: I woke up with a sassmouth today. This blog entry contains at LEAST one completely gratuitous reference to testicles AND it shamelessly links to a site that contains both curse words and HEINOUS DEVIL KNITTING, so the easily offended should NOT follow the first two links.

My friend Lydia is crafty. In many senses of the word. BUT HERE I mean she sews and knits and crochets and quilts. Sometimes, a crafty friend is a dreadful liability. There are people currently sucking up perfectly good oxygen who spend valuable minutes of their brief blink of time on earth perpetrating… things like this. Oh and one more I can’t resist… things like this.

But Lydia is NOT a liability. When Maisy was a dewy little dumpling, she made her this…

maisyflowerstandup.jpg

Doesn’t Baby Maisy look kinda like a MUSHROOM PERSON from Super Mario Brothers? I LOVED that hat and jacket, and I have not had anything so cute to stuff her in until HEW WEAL FUW COAT, so called because Maisy Jane cannot say R’s.

Lydia called one day and asked to talk to Miss Maiso-May, and they had the following conversation.

L: What is your favorite color?
Maisy: PINK!
L: What is your favorite animal?
Maisy: A pig and because did you know why?
L: Why?
Maisy: A pig is PINK! Didn’t you know that?

When the coat came in the mail, PINK as all get out and lined with pink piglet fabric, Maisy LOST. HER. MIND. She put it on and danced around saying, “OH! OH! OH! I love it! It is my WEAL FUW COAT!”

I suspect it is NOT real, so tell PETA to stand down, although there is a SLIGHT possibility that Lydia made it out of slaughtered cartoon poodles. Anyway, it is spring now, and SADLY the coat must be retired, so I wanted to show it to you before I packed it away. Next year it will not fit…*weep*

pigcoat.jpg

BY THE WAY, it was SO not my idea for her to wear SOCKS and SANDALS like some crazy old knobby kneed Miami beach retiree-man. That is purely a Maisy Fashion Statement. I cannot even begin to guess what it is saying. BUT SHE WAS HAPPY SAYING IT. So.

Now, ONLY for you people with your weird BOOKSHELF fixation…I am NOT linking all these, you SADISTS. But I will editorialize. This is my OFFICE bookshelf. I also have an unfinished room in my basement with shelves that go two deep and boxes and boxes and boxes of books. I am not showing you pictures both because the basement is a train wreck and because I can’t tell you all THOSE books. I also have bookshelves and stacks of books up in my room. I am not showing you pictures of THOSE either. This is IT, okay? We’ll do a shelf at a time, and not every entry because it takes a logn time, but if you remind me we will do them all, this month, before they change too much…

On top is my HS yearbook which I troll for character last names sometimes, two signed children’s books – Peter and the Starcatchers and Don’t Let the Pidgeon Stay Up Late. My kids LOVE those books, so I am keeping the signed first eds nice for them for when they grow up.

NOW the shelf itself.

topshelf.jpg

The MS for a dern good play written by my friend Hunt.

Rosa, by Nikki Giovanni. It’s a children’s book that tells the story of ROSA PARKS and Nikki Giovanni won the SIBA award (as well as 100 zillion other awards, it’s an awesome book) the same year gods in Alabama won in fiction. Getting to sit by Nikki Giovanni at the awards lunch was a life-high.

The Rock Orchard, by Paula Wall. In the comments a WHILE back someone compared my work to hers. I think it was Heather??? Correct me if I am wrong. Anyway, that’s very flattering to me. Love her, and this book is …sexy. No other word. Sexy book.

Foxfire, Joyce Carol Oates. Signed. Yes. You may touch my garment.

Christ the Lord, Anne Rice. I wish I could explain this one. I can’t. I can’t explain it on any level. There it sits, unopened, where it has sat ever since my first editions club sent it to me. I have not read it, but I have not put it someplace else to NOT read it, I haven’t given it to anyone. I am utterly perplexed by it. I have no religious objections to it, but no desire to read it. The concept does not offend my Christianity, but neither does my Christianisty inspire me to open it. It’s just…there is no explanation for its continued presence on my shelf. I cannot fathom it or explain it. Maybe I would feel bad about banishing Jesus to the basement? Very weird.

Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilefoile. OKAY – this is an AWESOME book, and in it, there is this game where you can PLAY YOURSELF. You, essentially, make your Me (Mii???), and it is you, and it does things that you could actually go and do, like, say…bowl, but you are home in your living room watching you do it. It’s creepy as all get out, and JUST LAST NIGHT!!!! I saw a commercial and it seems Nintendo has taken one step closer to making his game real…oh! So! SPOOOOOOOOOOOKY.

My signed first editions of both of HAVEN KIMMEL’S NOVELS!!!!!
Something Rising, Light and Swift and The Solace of Leaving Early. GO READ THESE RIGHT NOW IF YOU HAVE NOT YET.

Same Sweet Girls and a first edition of Making Waves in Zion by THE AWESOME Cassandra King. Making Waves lost the IN ZION when it was reprinted. I have the original. LA LA LA! SIGNED! LALALALALA.

The God File (!!!!!) and Life is a Strange Place by Frank Turner Hollon. By the way? The enormous testicles on the cover of Life is a Strange Place? You will think they belong to a bull. But the author himself told me those balls belong to a Great Dane. AREN”T YOU GLAD TO KNOW THIS VITAL TESTICLE INFORMATION? This blog is an educational FEAST.

High Drama in Fabulous Toledo, by my best friend from the way back back, Lily James. I came up with that title, but SHE came up with, well, the whole rest of the book. It’s a doozy.

MARK – A study of Mark for Sunday School.

A Cup of Comfort – An Anthology that had the good sense to include an essay by my friend Kira.

Dead Cert by Dick Francis. Signed. PREEN!

Killing Floor by Mister Lee “hot and a damn good writer” Child. I love me some Reacher. Oh, yes I do. This one is signed. PREEN PREEN!

A Greg Iles book I bought at a Grocery store, read 20 pages of, and realized it was part of a series and put it on this shelf to remember to buy the FIRST one and read THAT and then if I like it I will continue on book after book until sated or done. I HATE reading series out of order.

Two by Jane Stanton Hitchcock---- Social Crimes and Trick of the Eye. I LIKE her books. She has a sick mind. In a good way.

Two by C.S. Lewis. Till We Have Faces and a Different edition of The Four Loves. Those are Scott’s. My own The Four Loves is in the currently reading stack we looked at earlier.

The Planets, Dava Sobel. This is ALSO Scott’s, but shockingly, a NOVEL. He generally only reads novels by chicks who consent to sleep with him on a regular basis, and who also have been known to cook his chicken and bear his loin spawn. Otherwise, he reads, like… PHYSICS. Yes, for pleasure.

*** Scott just called to tell me this is NOT a novel. I assumed it was because she wrote GALILEO'S DAUGHTER and LONGITUDE...He said "This is more of a casual tour of the solar system." He sounded very excited about that. Hand to God.***

A signed galley of Great With Child by Beth Anne Fennelly. If you have a pregnant friend, GIVE HER THIS BOOK. NOW.

Ex and the Single Girl, by Lani Diane Rich. She is my friend, and this is so far my fave of her books. BUT I haven’t read the new one. It JUST came out so here is a leetle linky love to it. She makes me laugh.

Galley of Blame it on Paris by our own dear and delightful Laura Florand

Galley of Hypocrite in a Poufy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman. HA!

The Year the Music Changed by Diane Coulter Thomas

Where 3 Roads Meet by JOHN BARTH, totally SIGNED. And NO, you may NOT touch the hem of my garment because I have a signed John Barth and am MUCH! TOO! COOL!

Galley of One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, the sequel to CASE HISTORIES. LOVE BOTH THESE BOOKS.

The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster. Signed. Okay, fine. Just the hem.

LAST, another signed children’s book. Earnest’s Gift by Kathryn Tucker Wyndham, a VERY well known Southern storyteller.

VERY LAST, on the shelf is a brass owl. I stole it.

It’s very terrible to steal things, and very stupid to steal them and then say “HERE IS A PICTURE OF A THING I STOLE.” Anyway, I am SO out of time. I will tell you the story of the stolen brass owl next week.

And NO, the pilfered owl is NOT wearing pink socks, so SHUT. UP. <--inside joke

Posted by joshilyn at 10:13 AM | Comments (29)

March 19, 2007

Mission Status Reports

Mission One: Lamp
Status: Failed Utterly.
Lame Excuse: I went to three stores that had lamps and looked at MANY and rejected them all the basis of being stupid or ugly or too expensive or wrong for the room or---well most I rejected because I was not able to TELL how it would look. I didn’t find a lamp I could PICTURE there, belonging and perfect. Then I came home and got on the internet and looked at about 70 more lamps and rejected THEM all for the same basic reason.

At one point, Scott caught me waving my arms and making sprouncy hands at the corner, as if SUMMONING the shape of a particular lamp that would BELONG and live in HARMONIOUS BALANCE with the space.

He said, “Is that helping?” in SUCH warm and patronizing “there’s my darling little mental patient” tones that I had to whack him in the leg with my shoe. Hard. Today, he came home with a TRANSITIONARY lamp he got at Wal Mart for 12 bucks. Here it is:

newlamp.JPG

I can replace it, he says, as soon as I am capable of choosing a lamp.
That means never.
Fine.
I have decided I love it. I LOVE MY TRASHY 12 DOLLAR WALMART FLOOR LAMP, YOU HEAR ME?

The globes are FROSTED PLASTIC!!!! Every time I look at them, I want to eat a pudding cup. Not the good JELLO kind from your grocer’s refrigerated section, either. The HUNT’s MYSTICAL PUDDING CUP, you know, the milk free type that does not have to be refrigerated and can be stored in a pantry for up to nine years and then safely consumed. It’s just that kind of lamp.

For the anal rententive among the FTK regs – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, I offer the names of the books stacked closest to the NEW LAMP…these stacks are what I just read or what I plan to reread or what I am reading now:
THE EVIL B.B. CHOW
THE FOUR LOVES
A bound galley for a book that is not out yet, called GARDEN SPELLS I have not had a chance to read it yet, but it sounds good.
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN --Borrowed from Karen, sitting out so I will remember to return it to her. Under that is another books of hers about the care and feeding of African Gray Parrots.

The other stack, the smaller one, contains
WHAT I LOVED
COLOUR
(the two above were birthday presents from my UK Publisher. I am reading What I Loved right now and it is FLOORING me with its beauty)
SOMETHING BLUE

Mission: Get Dog Enrolled in Anti-Naughtiness School
Status: Failed Failed Failed
Lame Excuse: Spent too much time LAMP shopping? Heh. Going tomorrow.

Mission Three: Sit in front of my computer, reading my spam and laughing until I snork coffee out my nose.
Status: Completed.
Winning Spam: Titled, “Hey to Joshilyn!”
Opening sentence was, “Ever dream of having a larger more thinker peniz?”

Not particularly, no. Although, NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT, I wish penizes in general, as a …species? Is that the correct word? Could be just a LEETLE more thinker. I would worry less about my daughter entering puberty. Alas, Senor Peniz tends to be a LEAPER who does not care to look first. The impetuous rascal. I am not saying he doesn’t have his good points, but I would never accuse of him of committing philosophy.

LASTLY, On SUNDAY I went to the FABULOUS indie kids book store, LITTLE SHOP OF STORIES and I want Maisy to go LIVE there. I meant to get her a PRINCESS PUPPET for her birthday before I left and FORGOT….GAH…because Bethany Jackson, one of the interpreters who REALLY helped me on the research for BETWEEN showed up and we got to nattering. Only downside to this club was, I began to hate where I live. Every time I go to Decatur, or Fairhope, or Oxford, I begin to hate where I live.

When we moved here, it was the country. Now we have Chili's and traffic and less and less goats every day. I freakin' hate Chili's. No, that’s nto true. It’s GREAT to have Chili’s in the airport when you want a big cocktail and some Texas Eggroll things. But not by my HOUSE. Now we have lost all our little family owned eateries and the woods around us are being leveled to put up ugly 400K houses that look like saltine boxes and have no trees. I have not seen a snake in my yard in two years now. When the SNAKES are leaving, OH My Best Beloveds, you must begin to plot your own slither out.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND. I like my house, Wal Mart Ho Lamp and all. Scott likes his JOB . I like my little plot of woods and my crick and I LOVE my church family and I love my friends here. So. It isn’t easy to uproot and leave all that.

But Decatur breaks my heart. It has all the little SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS that real people who LIVE there own, and all the women in this MOMMIES WHO READ book club seemed like MY kind of people. My WEIRD got way loose and I was very much myself with them. I was very----perhaps TOO --- comfortable. YOU, best beloveds are USED to my weird. It gets out here all the time, but I try to keep it on a leash, albeit a long, loose one, when visiting with people I just met. One likes to be polite.

AND YET! Whenever I do stuff in Decatur or Fairhope I get this HOMEY feeling, like I am…among my kind. It’s very restful and appealing, and OH how the weird likes the chance to run loose.

Ah well. We’ll see what happens.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:22 PM | Comments (35)

March 18, 2007

Lamp-Lorn Dog Lover Seeks Pretty Internets

*looks up*
*blinks*
Oh. Hi. I’ve been in fictional Pensacola. I know there is actually a Pensacola. I spent a goodly chunk of my childhood there. But I wasn’t IN that one. I was up past my eyeballs in TGWSS, doing line edits over the phone with The Editor. I’ve decided she should have Caps and be nameless and blonde and scary and six feet tall. Also have fangs. She isn’t, actually, any of those things, but somehow The Editor, written like that, looks SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKY.

Now that it is DONE, I realize the number of things I have been saying, “AH! I will do that just as SOON AS THE BOOK IS DONE” about has grown and grown and grown until it is a foul brown behemoth of a To Do list. If I don’t knock some size off it this week, we’re going to end up chaining pretty girls to rocks and letting them be eaten by it, hoping to propitiate the monster.

For example, my Website has not been updated regularly, and to an IRRESPONSIBLE degree. You’ll see on the sadly neglected APPEARANCES page, I am going to a children’s bookstore called LITTLE SHOP OF STORIES in Decatur to speak to their Mommies Who Read Book Club. TODAY. AT 2 PM. I meant to tell you 3 weeks ago, so the Decaturites among you could come…Alas, I didn’t. AH well, if you are a Mommy who reads, and you have read Between Georgia, and you read it in or near the city of Decatur, please join us.

SO that’s ONE thing off the list. The other list items I am actually going to check off TODAY are

1) Find a LAMP for my freakin’ office. My office has no overhead light or built in light source, so currently this is the only thing between me and working in the dark like a savage:

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It doesn’t GO in my mod-pod office. It does not even GO on the FLOOR, if we want to be picky and technical. But it was a WORKING LAMP and when my old black floor lamp died and went to live in the basement (item on list #1,456,938 is CLEAN OUT BROKEN OLD FURNITURE AND ETC FROM BASEMENT) it was all I had free to light my office. So. LAMP! TODAY!
Also today and I am going to find OBEDIANCE CLASSES for my AWFUL dog and sign him up. He is actually the sweetest dumbest most adored pile of lice to ever grace a carpet, but he is not without flaws.

SAMPLE FLAW: Bagel has taken up counter surfing. He is so devoted to the sport I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him begin to use counter surfer lingo, like, “Yo, Dude, I caught this totally gnarly SPOON. RAAAAAAAAAAAAD thick coat of dried Kraft Mac-a-chee… I was like, Blue Box, Dude. SCORE!”

Nine times a day now, I hear the clatter of something being stolen off the counter and I leap up and run for the kitchen saying “BAYYYYYYYYYYYYY! GULLLLLLLLLLL! in my deepest, cruelest I-eat-dogs demon voice, and as I charge into the room he drops the stolen object and cowers like he expects to be beaten with a garden rake. I take the object saying, NO! BAD DOG! NO!, and then he slinks away, SO sorry, peeking back at me so I can SEE how sorry he is in slump of his remorseful shoulders and the downtrodden apology in his repentant eyes. Then I come back in here and sit down to work, and….Thumpitty Clatter, he is back on his board, sex waxed to the max and cruising for my cereal bowl. WIPE OUT!

I thought, this is God’s way of telling me to load the dishwasher immediately. SO. I LOADED the dishwasher immediately, and he stood up tall on his stumpy little legs, stretched his LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG Bassetty body as far as it would go, reached out with the excesses of his pointy Beagle nose, and snatched and ate an entire loaf of wheat bread that was sitting out on the counter.

The fact that it gave The Most Horrendous Gas ever experienced by dog or human did not discourage him from trying the same trick again not two hours later with a packet of Pepperidge Farm hamburger buns. All the bread has been banished to the pantry, my eyes are BLISTERED from the fever-hot poison of his gaseous emissions, and even now Bagel is lurking in the kitchen, hoping I will forget to put the milk away.

I am finding him a Puppy Class today.
And I am getting a lamp.
And, most importantly, I am going to stop neglecting YOU, My Best Beloved of all the Pretty Internets.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:10 AM | Comments (29)

March 13, 2007

Murderous Rage, con't

Remember ALL those people I didn’t kill? Yeah. Well.

AFTER spending that quality time on the phone with the Comcasticles, after Mr. Husband went and RE-ENTERED the credit card info on the web (no doubt using the proper credit card terminology) and after he had set it up for the new card to pay for cable into perpetuity…Comcast shut my cable down. No phone, no internet, no TV. My cell was out of juice, so off it stayed until I got the word out to Scott.

They had shut us off for not paying the cable bill we collectively spent more than hour trying to pay. So, all my restraint was WASTED and I was FORCED to go down to Comcast and slaughter them all like meat goats. The only person who escaped my wrath was the little badword who stole the credit card in the first place, but this is only because he doesn’t work at Comcast. As far as I know. I have my suspicions.

Shockingly, Comcast seems to be working BETTER now that it is entirely manned by contrite corpses, although I am considering firing the customer service corpses and putting in a gaggle of hamsters, thinking this will lower the hold time considerably. I am also going to swap out the hold Muzak and only play old Pixies and Indigo Girls tunes. You’re welcome.

On SATURDAY The Best Birthday Party In The History of Time happened. Sam turned ten, and Snake-tastic Reptile Wrangler Ken Panse came to wave a VERY unhappy alligator at him in honor of the event. DUDE. That thing hissed like a steam engine and was four feet long and SERIOUSLY wanted to kill us all. Will you think less of me if I told you the 13 year old stoner boy who lives in the pit of my small black heart thought it was hysterical that the mad alligator was named Hummer? I poked Scott with my elbow and said “Heh. Heh. He said hummer.” I tried not to do it. Failed.

To say that the party was SUPER GREAT is to perpetuate the LARGEST understatement to ever fly on this hyperbolic blog. To say there has never been a greater birthday in the history of man, even counting when whats-his-bucket built the Taj Mahal for that chick he liked MIGHT be a slight overstatement. But only very slight.

Highlights included but were not limited to

----1 pint worth of sea toad releasing 7 gallons worth of sea toad pee in a SPECTACULAR display of please-don’t-pick-me-up-and-eat-me. He was also inflatable. No, really.

----A plain brown bag of an Egyptian scorpion glowed like green sea glass when Ken turned the lights out.

---The stunning Rosie, Panse’s 8 foot Boa, coiling the cool, sleek muscle of her tail around my arm. It was like holding the living personification of the word lithe.

Ken got Rosie when the folks at a national park called him to come catch and remove the BIGGEST dern copperhead they had ever seen. And he found instead an exotic South American Beauty cut loose by a Georgia river. Sam and my niece got to hold her…

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I also wanted to include this pick of Lucinda the tarantula, mostly because the COW on Sam’s T-Shirt is having about the same reaction to her hairy splendor that I had….

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Oops. I just remembered the Taj Mahal was built because she DIED. Not for her birthday. Yowch. But it was STILL the best. party. ever.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:22 AM | Comments (27)

March 9, 2007

A Partial List of People I Did Not Murder Yesterday

1) The voice actor who took a job working for Comcast who recorded the message for them that goes. “This is Comcast. There is an issue with your account. Please call us.” *click*

Though the temptation raged in my black heart, I did NOT voice print her and impersonate an FBI agent and gain access to the FBI’s database and match her and print out her home address and go there and kill her in her bed, EVEN THOUGH she is SUCH a terrible actor that she probably should be killed before she can perpetrate a DEADLY audiobook that will, through the sheer nasal power of her heinous vocal ennui, make scores of folks fall asleep in the car and run down you and your innocent babies.

THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

2) The Executive at Comcast who decided that it would be SUPER COOL to cut out a lot of boring and expensive customer care so that I could put my mother on hold to hear a recorded message from the unkilled but probably undead voice actor saying, “This is Comcast. There is an issue with your account. Please call us.” I then sat on hold for minute after long minute after endless eternal sulpherous demonic minute listening to MUZAK versions of Carpenter’s tunes (NO! YOU TROLLOP! I DO NOT KNOW THE WAY TO @&!&^#&@* SAN JOSE) waiting to see what Comcast’s issue might be.

3) The FLAMING BUTTHOLE who, 44 days and change ago, slipped a filthy paw down deep into the recesses of my purse while I was at Kroger and pulled forth a SINGLE AMEX card, leaving my bank card and ID and cash and keys, so that I did not NOTICE and then went and spent exactly 50 dollars at 8 gas staions, exactly 200 dollars even at several different Kroger's and 638 bucks at Stereo World.

4) The STUPID person who did not correctly make a list of all AUTOMATIC THINGS that that card was set up to pay for, so that my family’s goods and services have been constantly interrupted and stopped and shut off as those things have not been auto-payed for. Best Beloveds, it was my SKY MILES card. I use that card for EVERYTHING. Last year I flew to New York a couple times and took my whole family to Disney on the strength of the mighty miles I accumulate by running EVERYTHING through that card. Each month, that card pays for ALL my Utilities, all my groceries and gas, my First Edition Club with Alabama Booksmith, my NETFLIX, my cell phone, my mail forwarding service, my internet service provider, and, of course, my Comcast cable. It set up to automatically pay anything can be automatically paid that way…And SOME MORON only called and corrected the number about half those places.

Oops. I think that person may have been me. Still, I want the point for not killing me for that.

5) The first woman at Comcast’s Comcastic Customer Service Rodeo of Pain, who said, “Your account is 44 days overdue and we are shutting your service off in a minute.” Then I explained what happened and she said, “Uh Huh. Well whatever, but I can’t fix that and I cam not sure what you are talking about anyway. Just pay your bill.”
Me: I am trying to pay my bill. Can you help me change the credit card number.
Her: No.
Me: No?
Her: I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know what you are talking about.

“I don’t even know what you are talking about” is an exact, direct, quote.

NOTE: My husband was never in any danger of being killed, because he is so cute and I like him…BUT. I thought of MAIMING him a TEENY bit when I told him about the first Comcast Vixen only to have him tell me to call Comcast BACK to fix it because "surely I would get a better rep this time."

6) The SECOND woman at Comcast’s Comcastic Customer Service Rodeo of Pain, with whom I had the following conversation.

Me: Hi. I’m having a billing problem. I’ve already spoken to one woman about it at this number, and she didn’t know what I was talking about, so I’m not sure I’m in the right department, but my sky miles credit card pays my bill automatically, and the number has changed. Can you change that for me?

Her: Don’t say sky miles credit card. That’s the problem.

Me: What?

Her: You should say Visa. Because I bet she didn’t know what a sky miles credit card is. Now, *I* know what it is, but put like that, it was probably very confusing to her. If you would just say Visa, it probably wouldn’t have been a problem.

Me: Okay – Can I just give you the new number then? It’s an American Express card, expires in June of---
Her: Well, when I said VISA I meant it to represent that if it was a VISA then you would say Visa. Obviously if it an American Express then that’s what you would say. But your problem with any rep is going to be that you used an incorrect term. My point is that to say Sky Miles credit card is very confusing and any issues you had with customer service I am sure arose from your odd use of that term.

Me: Well if I could just---

Her: And anyway, we don’t fix that. You have to do that yourself using Comcast.com. *click*

I thought VERY hard about killing her, but then I realized that now, as never before, I had learned EXACTLY how to refer to my credit card in an UNCONFUSING MANNER! And they don’t let you USE Credit cards in prison. So I REFRAINED.

All in all, that’s a total of six completely NOT murdered people, and you should buy me an ice cream. Oh. Except I gave up all forms of sugar for Lent. Which might explain why half an hour of time lost to COMCAST'S phone system threw me into a homicidal rage. Is Homicidal rage the same thing as Spiritual growth? Because if so, I am having a ROCKIN’ LENT so far!

As an aside, let me say, I did not murder MANY MANY other people yesterday, including the American Express customer service rep who CAUGHT the fraudulent actuivity, froze the card and called me and made sure all charges were removed, and I also did not kill YOU, but that is because neither YOU nor the Amex lady needed any killing.

You were PERFECT ANGELS.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:27 PM | Comments (24)

March 8, 2007

3 Questions with Melanie Hauser (and how I know my dog is stupid)

Please ya’ll give a friendly-type wave to Melanie Lynn Hauser , author of SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD , the sequel to CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM.

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The book opens six months after the Horrible Swiffer Accident that left her a superhero, and Birdie Lee is still adjusting. For starters, she's hearing voices and having lustful thoughts about Mr. Clean. Then there's the fact that her daughter is suddenly sporting a bright pink streak in her hair, courtesy of her new friend Vienna (and if recent history has taught us anything, we all know that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble). Birdie's son is experiencing his first case of puppy love, her nerdy scientist love interest has just proposed marriage, and her annoying ex-husband is suddenly less annoying. Which can only mean he's up to no good.

But things get even more sinister when her hometown of Astro Park gets Little League fever in a big way. Rabid parents, performance-enhancing Gatorade and a domed stadium on shaky - potentially explosive - ground are just the beginning of Super Mom's problems; throw in a ticked off school janitor and a corrupt mayor, and Super Mom has her hands full. Can one superhero — one mother — struggle to keep her teenagers in tow with one hand while saving her hometown from disaster with the other — while trying to find time for herself as she plans her marriage to her very own Super Man? Only if she’s Super Mom!

Booklist says, “Hauser's sequel to Confessions of Super Mom (2005) is an amusing and sharp critique of the thankless job mothers perform as they juggle home and work. Every mom will want to be Super Mom.”

Now, here’s Melanie, to tell us about the weirdest dern case of book promo fever I’ve ever heard of…

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: I think growing up in the Midwest did influence me. The Super Mom books are set in Kansas - a little homage to Clark Kent and Smallville - but they could be set anywhere in the middle of the country. Not the coasts. Probably not the south. But the middle. I think that New York influences too much literature, actually - that since publishing is located there, "New York" books tend to be published more and better than other books. There's that New York-centric view of the world. But honestly, I don't know that many people in the Midwest who are that interested in reading about another high-powered mother with nanny problems. That's not our world. So being a Midwestern writer really did influence me to write about a more blue-collared character, and I'm fortunate in that a lot of the reviews for this book have picked up on that - in a good way, as touting them as an antidote to the proliferation of those urban mommy books I was talking about.

JJ: What's the weirdest thing you have ever done to try to promote your work or get the word out about a specific book?

MLH: Oh boy! I once spent a hot summer afternoon in a book mobile, dressed in costume as Super Mom. Did it result in anyone buying my book? Nope. Did it result in little children looking at me and crying? Yep. Did it result in me wondering if Hemingway had ever done such a thing? Oh, double yep!!!

JJ: Tell us about your own experience with being a "super mom"

MLH: I'm not really a super mom - but then again, I suppose I am. We all are. Every woman who stays up all night with a croupy baby,, who wants to run out and yank the schoolyard bully's ears when he teases her child - every woman who has to juggle a slew of secret identities as she tends to the house, the kids, the community, and yet tries to find her own spotlight, too. Showing this - honoring this, in a way - was the main reason I chose to write the Super Mom books. Because we're all superheroes. And we deserve to be honored this way - even though, even for Super Mom, that hardly ever happens. She's taken for granted, too - just as we all are. But she finds out that she's strong enough on her own.

Last but not least. I had to show the final proof that my stupid dog is indeed very, very stupid. The camera was RIGHT there, so he remained in this predicament only 4 seconds longer than he would have had I not paused to immortalize his genius on film.

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Dude. I love my stupid dog.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:18 AM | Comments (16)

March 6, 2007

The Many Things That Make Me Happy

1) The website suggestions. I’m not a graphics person and I couldn’t tell what would actually WORK IN A BANNER FORM, so I called my web designer (aka MY FRIEND JILL) and cut her loose upon them. I also could not tell which ones were actually possible to do in photoshop as opposed to, you know, scouting locations and hiring models and photographers and acting like I have a budget of tens of thousands of dollars when really my budget is more like... "a speck of money and probably a really nice fruit basket from Harold and David." What happens now is in Jill's good smart hands.

2) My stupid dog. I love him and he is SO dumb and sweet and good. Although it has come to my attention that ONE dog is a LOT of work. He gets an energy buzz in the middle of the day, so I put him in the yard to romp it off, and then as I am PUTTING him, he BENDS down at the waist so his butt is way up and he waggles it while the tail just GOES AND GOES and looks all PITIFUL and HOPEFUL until I say OH FINE and go out and play soccer with him.

It’s FUN, except he is REALLY still mostly puppy and therefore I get tired LONG before he does. In fact, it is probably more accurate to say, I am a panting heap of sweaty desire to lie down in a puddle and call for death to take me long before he is. It occurs to me that what we need is an AUXILIARY dog who can be tagged in and finish the game for me. A BEAGLE! I was thinking, because Scott LIKES beagles and I think I have a higher chance of success lobbying for a breed he already favors. If it was up to ME ALONE, our small auxiliary dog would be a mastiff.

3) One of my HOT STOCK SPAMS for today was titled “A of Burp!” I have no idea what that means but it gave me the here-to-fore unprecedented desire to open a spam. “HOT ALERT,” read the inside of A of Burp, and then the spam advised me to aggressively buy a stock with the “S.umbol” of ARSS. I’m not sure what an S.umbol is, but I can’t bring myself to shell out good green foldy money for a stock that, phonetically speaking, looks like British slang for a butt. SORRY, A of Burp! It was a GOOD TRY!

4) The Southern Living Weekend at the Biltmore! IT WAS DECADENT AND AMAZING and I have at LEAST two more stories to tell. But since I have not yet had breakfast, I want to say NOW that, speaking of A of Burp, the food was ESPECIALLY amazing. Everything on the brunch buffet came DIRECTLY out of the lastest Southern Living cookbook, and OH. DEAR. LORD.

For breakfast I had a scoop of sort of fancified velevet grits casserole that CLEARLY had met up with butter and cheese and bacon and some more kinds of cheese before being baked. Honestly, it would have done less damage to my arteries if I had gotten a syringe and INJECTED it directly. Then I had something called an Egg Nest that had an egg, I am sure, hidden somewhere deep under the butter, and THEN I ate a monstrous pile of bacon cut SO thick that when I bit it, my teeth SUNK into glorious crispy-edged BACONESS, and it had been broiled with brown sugar and it is not an exaggeration to say that between bites, I put my head down and wept at the beauty of life.

The people were AWESOME----readers for really true, and it was SO SWEET how many mother-daughter and sibling pairs had come together. As a REMINDER TO ME, I need to tell you about THE SPECIALNESS OF HOW SPECIAL WRITERS ARE. (In our pink socks) NO, NO, I really will. But right now, the dog is bugging me, and I have to go earnestly explain to him that I am not playing soccer at stinkin’ 5 am.

Dude, we need a spare dog.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:06 AM | Comments (18)

March 2, 2007

In Which Your Help is Gently Solicited

So, it’s almost time to RE -DO THE WEBSITE, oh best beloveds, and I need your help.
If you go look at the SPLASH PAGE or any page with a banner, you'll see the art/colors is/are all based on the covers of my first two books, BUT! Between comes out in PB in a little over a month, and it will have a NEW COVER, And thne TOGWISS will escape into bookstores next year. SO. That’s FOUR covers and if I keep trying to add integrated bits of cover art eventually the banner will degenerate into a mish-mash of vomitous slag.

My web designer (aka my good friend Jill) says I should QUIT with the cover art already, and get some sort of OBJECT or group of objects that is somehow an ICON for my work or REPRESENTATIVE of me as a human. Um. Yeah. Dead pets banner, anyone? I didn’t think so.

I can’t think of anything. I am not a VISUAL person. I am a language person.

I like the IDEA of the Black Eyed Susan. The Black Eyed Susan kinda sums my work up in a weird way----It’s southern, it has bold, cheerful colors, it’s got a strong female name, but OOPS! It’s been punched in the face. That’s my odd blend of humor and violence in a way, although it is actually an image in my friend Anna’s novel, and MAN it made me sit up and say YES.

But without the WORDS, the black Eyed Susan just looks like… a nice daisy.

I need an OBJECT or image that combines those bold, fun colors with something JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUST a little bit EDGY about it. People who read me expecting only sweetness and humor often take my novels as a punch in the face, so I want it to be more accurate than a drift of darling flowers, you know?

ANY THOUGHTS? Other things my books seem to have in common---Kudzu, Rural v. Urban, Redemption, Identity, Vicious Aunts, and people who get murdered in Alabama (Oddly enough, I’ve never killed anyone in another state, and I’ve never written a book where someone didn’t get murdered in Alabama. Even in Between, set entirely in Georgia, you hear about a bar fight across the state line that ended in manslaughter charges, and in TGWSS they leave Florida and go into Alabama before they shoot anybody.)


Secondly, I’ll be adding a REVIEW page with my press clippings, but should I ALSO add an FAQ? If so, what questions do you think I need to put on there? Because if it is left up to me I will use the questions that ARE most frequently asked by my WEIRDO REGULAR KUDZU READERS (Yes, I AM looking you. Yes. You.) and the FAQ will look something like this:

Q: Why do you sometimes call Mr. Husband “The Yeti?”
A: Because of AimBall. Duh.

Q: How can you be a professional novelist and make so many homophone errors, you moron?
A: Shut. Up.

Q: Is anything creepier than roaches?
A: No. Well, men who wax come close. But…no.

Q: You are the greatest novelist EVER BORN, and you are so VERY PRETTY when you stand up straight and brush that hair out of your eyes, but did you HAVE to use the Very Bad F Word so many times in gods in Alabama?
A: Aw thanks Mommy! And Yes. I did.

And I don’t think that’s the sort of thing people who are NOT regulars here might WANT that sort of an FAQ. SO.

PLEASE BB’s, in the comments, put links to images you think seem like they are FASTER THA KUDZU LOOKING or just write down ideas of things that might work----keys? Maps? LEAVES? Alive dogs? Aunties? MONKEYS IN STRAW HATS???? WHAT! and any questions you think should be in an FAQ. I will big fat hairy owe ya.

Rigth now, me and The Yeti are off to the Biltmore.
YAY FOR SOUTHERN LIVING MAGAZINE! And the coolest part is, I know I will see at least a couple of you guys there. *waves to d*

Posted by joshilyn at 7:18 AM | Comments (38)

March 1, 2007

NOW you can ask...

And I won't tell you to Shut. Up.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:28 PM | Comments (21)