GOOD MORNING --- I am about to go grab Karen and head for New York. I told her I was going to show up a good half hour before I actually plan to be there, in the hopes that when I arrive, I will not find her standing around in her underpants with wet hair, looking helplessly down into a TOTALLY empty suitcase and saying, â€œDo you think I need to bring my wooden cloggy foot-bind looking shoes? Or just these toe flower things?â€
While I sit on a plane, I leave you to be entertained by Joni Rodgers, who has joined me here to talk a little about the paperback release of her latest book.
In THE SECRET SISTERS, Pia feels the walls of her life closing in around her, until she discovers a strangely sensual world that leads her to a new existence. Lily, Pia's brash, tough-talking sister, makes a tragic mistake that leaves her incarcerated, body and soul, but in the prison library discovers a key that will unlock her mind and open her heart. Beth, married to Pia and Lily's brother, has never been able to admit her own failure as a mother. Finally forced to confront a tragedy of her own making, she discovers that the truth can set her free.
"Honesty, humor, and fearlessness...(Rodgers) illuminates the internal landscapes all women navigate." Houston Chronicle
JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?
JR: Easter is a big deal in THE SECRET SISTERS, because the book is about resurrection more than anything else. There's even a character named Easter, a little girl killed by a drunk driver -- her aunt Lily. Someone with the best of intentions, but tragically bad judgment. After Easterâ€™s death, her mother Beth is trapped in the past and must find a way past her grief and anger. Sentenced to seven years in prison, Lily loses her husband and everything else she loved about her life, but the prison library frees her mind and prepares her for a new life â€“ and new love. For Lilyâ€™s sister Pia, the disintegration of the family brings on a powerful panic disorder that almost kills her. Her journey is the one most fraught with danger, as her fears leave her vulnerable to a seductive con artist, who leads her to an exhilarating new dawn, but at a terrible price.
The title refers to the three women (Mary, Joanna, and Magdalene, often called â€œThe Secret Sistersâ€) who went to Jesusâ€™ tomb at dawn on Easter morning -- the third day after the crucifixion. They found the tomb empty and were confronted by angels who said, â€œWhy do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen."
Two thousand years later, I often wonder the same thing, and I wanted to ask that question with this book. Are we looking for God in all the wrong places? Too many people of all religions -- many with the best of intentions but very bad judgment -- seek God among dead teachings that spout God's name, but were designed by men who use religion to divide and control. God is not there. He is among the living. The loving. The open-minded. The practitioners of daily loving-kindness. He rises up with the peace-makers and the forgivers and the healers.
We are the living. Ancient hatreds, past failures, fear we canâ€™t see around, guilt we canâ€™t give upâ€”those are the dead. Like the Biblical Secret Sisters, the three women in this book journey from grief to wholeness, from fear to freedom. Each of the sisters dies and rises again in a different way, learning that redemption is tragedy cross-pollinated by grace.
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?
JR: Watching the intimate daily evolution of two people from infancy to young adulthood has been an amazing gift, which deeply affects the way I think about people in general. When it comes to developing characters, itâ€™s impossible for me to see one-dimensionally. I know now how every tiny moment of a personâ€™s life weaves its way into who they are. And I know that there are no perfect heroes or perfectly evil villains. Everybody is somebodyâ€™s baby, and even if I donâ€™t go into a detailed backstory for every character in every novel, Iâ€™d like to think that the perspective brings a certain depth to the people who populate my books.
My kids are also an unending fount of great dialogue and fresh ideas. And they definitely keep me grounded in real life any time Iâ€™m on a bus toward Diva Town. While the art of writing is something I do for myself, the craft and business is compelled by my desire to set a strong, successful example for them â€“ and my need to pay their college tuition!
On the flipside, having a rich, vital writing life made it a lot easier for me when they both left home last year. The â€œempty nestâ€ has been a lot easier to face than I thought it was going to be, because Iâ€™ve been able to throw myself into one great project after another without feeling guilty about the travel schedule or the crazy workaholic nose-to-the-grindstone hours I put in.
JJ:Tell us about your cancer experience and how it affected this book in particular and your writing career in general.
JR: I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkinâ€™s lymphoma in 1994. Chemo sidelined me from my acting career (such as it was), and I used the downtime to write my first two novels. Maybe it was the drugs, but it was like a whole new part of my brain came alive. (Picture me slapping my bald head like one of the Three Stooges. â€œOh! So THIS is what Iâ€™m supposed to do with my life! How did I not know that?â€) Chemo gave me the time and quiet to focus on writing for the first time, and in turn, writing gave me a way to process that devastating experience. After my first two novels were published by small presses and received generous reviews, BALD IN THE LAND OF BIG HAIR, my memoir about my cancer experience, was published by Harper Collins, which took my career to the next level.
I guess Iâ€™m still processing the cancer experience in some ways. Fear of recurrence is a huge issue for most cancer survivors. In the wake of 9/11, our country was left wounded and terrorized, and it was eerily reminiscent of my own fragile state in the aftermath of cancer. THE SECRET SISTERS is my response to that. Itâ€™s a parable about how vulnerable we become when we embrace fear as a lifestyle. Itâ€™s also an examination of the way tragedy can â€“ and should! â€“ change us. Survivorship is about accountability, courage, and hope. As we emerge from lifeâ€™s refining fires, we have to learn from our mistakes, celebrate our strengths, and seize hold of every new day with joy.
In Closing, allow me to share the PHONE PIC which finally came---Please note TOES OF DOG in the corner -- he is DYING for me to take those sandals off so he can EAT them. Stinker.
CONTEST RESULTS FROM MY DELIGHTFUL FRIEND LYDIA!
REAL PHOTO WINNERS:
â€œBlack Dogâ€ for a delightful, excellent picture!
â€œOn the Bookshelfâ€ for clever visual.
*Special mention to Laume in London for serendipity, though wrong book = no cookie.
PHOTOSHOPPED WINNERS: Johnny Depp for carefully putting his chin braids in front of the photoshopped-in cover â€“ what attention to chin-related detail!
Between, Georgia Oâ€™Keefe for thoughtful interpretation of the title.
*Special mention to Clive Owen for excellence in photoshopping skills, but no cookie, because to choose two film stars over all that fine art would be too close a representation of my actual visual preferences, and Iâ€™m not comfortable enough with my weak intellectual virtue to publicly display it.
The winners are, in order
Black Dog: Andrea J.
On the Bookshelf: Heather T.
Between Georgia Oâ€™Keefe: Patti
Johnnyâ€™s Chin braids: Deb R.
PLEASE email me a mailing address and I will ship your prizes. THANKS ALLA YAâ€™LL who playedâ€”This was so fun and you guys had me giggling all week long.
Tomorrow I leave for NEW YORK CITY! Karen Abbot and I are going up for Book Expo America! I plan to have big fun AND I have learned how to mail blurry pictures to myself from my cell phone, so I will try to get you some terrible photos of truly for real glitter-liter-ati and then I will say who they are because from the quality of picture I get off my cell phone, I could also say â€œAnd here are some pink apes picking nits off each other in a field of water lilies,â€ and it would be just as credible.
I also purchased for myself a pair of Charles David sandals with four inch heels. THEY ARE SO PRETTY! If only I could WALK in them. As it stands, Thursday, when I wear them to the official WARNER IS CHANGING ITS NAME TO GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING PARTY, I fully expect to take an ignominious tumble and die from a crack on the head with my dress flipped up so everyone can see my SPANX. *sigh* Even so, the shoes are so pretty that I ask those with me to bury me in them.
OH! WAIT! want to test out the cell phone thing? Here, I will run shoot them. This should give you the idea of the QUALITY of photo you can expect.
OKAY now it wonâ€™t send. I have NO signal in my house or even down the street! But I can see the stupid picture on my phone, and let me tell you, I could either caption it â€œHere is my dogâ€™s foot AND the sandals in which I plan trip and pitch forward into traffic to my deathâ€ Or, â€œHereâ€™s me making out with Stephen King.â€ Either way.
Okay maybe itâ€™s not THAT blurry, but still. Iâ€™m just saying Iâ€™m not going to be Ansel Adamsing any mountains this weekend.
Talk to you when I land!
When I get up in the mroning, I'll upload any last entries and then it goes to the judge, AKA My Friend Lydia (Anna is traveling!)
I offer a respectful thank you to all our men and women serving now and to our veterans, especially my father and my brother. Hoo-ah.
"Trust me on this, son. Family feuds are the worst thing to try to get in the middle of."
If you do not play World of Warcraft this one is lost for you, OH! BUT IF YOU DO! HA! You probably just spat coffee into your keyboard.
The entrant had this to say: "I WILL tell you right up front that the geek factor score of [this entry] is through the roof. You may want to tape your glasses before you even look... I'm tempted to submit [it] under the name Nerd Dorkleson."
HEE HEE HEE.
"Virgin, my...err, eye."
"Sir Richard's Favorite Codpiece -- Stylish AND Functional!"
"Technically, it's not nudity"
Lats day for the contest is MONDAY, so get snapping!
Small World Story -- This is my friend and fellow Quilt Mav Laume, who went to London, and needed a book, and ended up BY CHANCE in the same bookstore where I had been a week earlier signing gods in Alabama. She is holding an autographed copy. HA!
Doggone Good Book
Subtitle: Get Your Paws off My Copy
Hehe. AW. I like her. I kinda want to caption this,
"Between, Georgia: Dogs don't know it's not bacon!"
Today my guest is (the very funny) Becky Motew, here to talk about her new novel, COUPON GIRL
Booklist says, â€œWelcome to the not so glamorous but often hilarious worlds of mail-order marketing and community theater...Motew writes about every day life: work, family, relationships...there's plenty to love about this quirky novel.â€
JJ: What do you think of your cover, and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?
BM: I love the cover of CG. I had no idea what to expect. Because the book is half about coupons and half about theatre, specifically The Sound of Music, I had been sort of picturing a chorus line of nuns. Or something from a play. But with the title, that wouldnâ€™t have worked. The cover I have is very Thelma and Louise, except the girl is by herself, so I guess itâ€™s very Thelma. A girl is going someplace by herself and having a good time getting there. I LOVE that message.
JJ: I know you blog yourself over at COUPONS FROM THE EDGE. Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?
BM: It does both sometimes. I use it as practice. Itâ€™s open mike night for me. I try things out and see how they sound. Also, now that I have my digital camera, itâ€™s way fun to show pictures from the inside of my kitchen cabinet and the high school track where I walk and personal things like that. Iâ€™m an instructor at two colleges and recently I photographed some of my students for the blog. They loved it.
Tell us about your experiences in community theatre, ya big secret actress, and how that helped you write the book.
Jeanie, my character, is a chorus member, though, and in real life I was fortunate to get lead parts . Well, secondary lead partsâ€”the comic role, you know, the sidekick. That was me. Ado Annie, Rosalie, Miss Hannigan. But I had my share of stage romances, drama off the set, and cast parties that lasted two days.
Once in the early years, I was helping the house manager set up coffee and cookies in the lobby with another woman, who said she was in the Garden Club. My friend and I said oh, we should join that so we could get away from group politics. The lady looked very seriously at us and said, â€œListen. If youâ€™re trying to avoid politics, donâ€™t join the Garden Club.â€
I never did.
â€œTodayâ€™s episode of Conversations with Caroline: Elmoâ€™s Book Club Pickâ€
It's a good thing thing Elmo didn't pick gods in Alabama --- I shudder to think what the Word of the Day would have been! *grin*
"Any Prize for Worst Paint Project?" (Note from the artist: This just made me laugh. I could use a photoshopping program on my MAC. Love the others.)
Okay -- she was not trying to officially enter this. BUT! I love how Between is bursting out of Clive's chest like the alien. Also, I have a very mighty rack in this pic. So. I put it up.
"Thinking that this is one freakin' good book..."
"The David's Cover"
(or, as I like to call it, a male fan goes nuts...)
As per suggestions in the comments, there will be two prizes for PHOTO SHOPPED pictures and two for SNAPPED pictures.
Also, I have a couple more entries but have to figure out how to resize them before I can post 'em. You can help by resizing them yourself to fit on the blog if you know how. If you do not know how, send em anyway and I will post them as soon as I can get them to fit, OR worst case, still forward them to the judge without posting em!
"Between a Hunk and a Hard Place"
As a BONUS! This entry also answers the sad, sad little pack of you who emailed to ask "Who is Clive Owen?"
When not reading my novels and mooning over my picture, Clive spends his time smoking up great films like
Children of Men
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
The Bourne Identity
Because quite a bit of SHOOTING happens in Between, and feeling inspired by ZOMBRARIANâ€¦
I cordially invite you to SHOOT Between.
HOW TO ENTER: Take a picture with a digi-cam or your phone that has a copy of BETWEEN, GEORGIA in it. Be cute, be funny, be creative, be poignant...whatever.
E-mail it to me: joshilyn at joshilynjackson dot com.
Rules: No rules, but I do not want to see you naked. Unless you are Clive Owen, in which case, I do want to see you naked, actually, and should you make such an entry, I hasten to assure you that you win, instantly, even if there is not a copy of BETWEEN anywhere in the shot.
The picture can be captioned or not captioned. Photoshopped or au natural. Go nuts.
PS By the way, in the sentence above, au natural means NOT PHOTOSHOPPED. It does not mean NAKED. Also? When I say go nuts? I invite all my male readers to take that ABSOLUTELY figuratively. Just so we are clear.
Since I have FRIENDS who read this blog, the judge will be MY FRIEND ANNA, and all entries will be sent to her ANONYMOUSLY.
You have all week.
I reserve the right to post entries, whether or not Anna picks them to get a prize.
At least three winners will receive signed books and one of my brothers little foxes that I have cleverly hidden and held back for the paperback release. (!!! FOXES !!!)
Also, PS it is still Monday. I have HOURS of Monday left.
THERE WILL BE A CONTEST ON MONDAY!!!! I thought of one, finally!
But for now, FTK reg Casey wanted me to do 3Q. Then she cheated and asked a bunch more. More proof that writers canâ€™t count for squatâ€¦
CM: There are a billion books out there about how to BECOME a writer and get published and look pretty for an agent, etc. What I want to know is, what's it like to BE an author. I mean, do you finally get to stop living paycheck to paycheck?
JJ: Well, that depends on sales... I know working novelists who are regularly making book deals but who must work a day job to keep themselves in milk and Skittles. I know others who subsist bravely from advance to royalty check (our version of paycheck to paycheck), others who are comfortable and secure, others who have homes in different cities and a private jet to take them from one to the other.
The first kind is a LOT more common than the last kind. *grin*
CM: Do people recognize you on the street like they do with actors?
It has happened a couple of times when I have been in bookstores, though, just shopping. After, I get to make â€œdamn paparazziâ€ jokes, so I like it, even though it is a littleâ€¦weird.
CM: Do you read books differently now that you know how they're made (kind of like sausages)?
JJ: In some ways, but this has less to do with behind the scenes stuff and more to do with MONEY. I am, shall we say, FISCALLY CONSERVATIVEâ€¦ in the background you can hear my husband going, â€œ*cough* tight wad *cough*â€ so BEFORE when I bought a books, I read them cover to cover. Period. If I spent my TEENY HORDE OF PRECIOUS MONEY on a book, I would wring every possible bit of pleasure out of the thing, even if the pleasures were scant and separated by MANY pages.
I once listened to THE WORST BOOK EVER PERPETRATED on audio. It was SO OVERBLOWN and melodramatic and the main character was such a WHINEY NARCISIST and all All ALL! the female characters just loooooooooved to sexy up to his deep tortured deep whiney depths, and UGH! Did I mention it was unabridged? ELEVEN hours of this guy. I listened to every bleeding minute, groaning and enraged, calling everyone I knew to scream about the horrid lines I had endured while driving to Kroger, and my friends would say, â€œTAKE IT OUT! GET A NEW AUDIO BOOK! WE BEG YOU! NO GOOD CAN COME OF THIS! YOU ARE GOING TO BURST A BLOOD VESSEL IN YOUR BRAIN.â€ And I would say, â€œDude. I payed 40 bucks for thatâ€¦â€ I couldnâ€™t; bear to throw 40 bucks in the fire, even though in some ways, I ALREADY HAD.
And I have always been a book buyerâ€¦even back in the day when we were just married and I was a grad student and then a SAHM who made us grocery money by babysitting and he was in his starter job making twenty something thou a year which is NOT A LOT when you live IN Chicagoâ€¦Even then, I bought books.
I reread, thatâ€™s part of why I need to OWN books, but another part is, if I like an author, I want them to get another book deal, and that means they need the sale. I thought of the books I BOUGHT new (as opposed to ones I bought used, or borrowed, or checked out of the library) as VOTES for a writer to keep going. I knew I could not afford to buy every book I read, but I bought my favorites. I understood buying-as-votes about the industry before I ever broke into it. Buying a debut novel or a novel by an author I had never read before was a little sexy---it felt like GAMBLING; I LOVED it when those gambles paid off and was BITTER when I lost---OH I was so bitter about that audio book. I am STILL bitter.
But now, because I am IN this industry, I have SO MANY BOOKS! Reps and trade shows folks and booksellers give me galleys and ARCs, people send me books for blurbs, both my American publisher and my UK publisher send me books, authors I am friends with mail me signed copies of their latest, and I buy books regularly by authors I like and new authors I think I might like and I am in a Signed First Editions Club. (BY THE WAY!!!! The LATEST first ed from that club is the new MICHAEL CHABON. I cannot WAIT to get my claws on THAT puppy. He DELIGHTS me, every word, every time.)
... So now, my TO READ pile is LUXURIOUS and HUGE, and if I donâ€™t LIKE a book, I toss it aside and never re-open it. I not only believe that, â€œLife is to short to read bad books,â€ I also think life is probably too short to read good books that just donâ€™t happen to speak to me.
CM: Are you more or less (or have you not changed at all) judgmental of other authors and their styles/writing abilities/getting-published abilities?
JJ: Same. I always read â€œlike a writer.â€ There are things that get me every time and make me fall in love, and other things that I cannot forgive.
CM: Do you travel more?
JJ: Yes. Now, when I have time off, I want to be at home. *grin*
CM: Do you actually have an ENTIRE DAY to write?
JJ: HAHAHHAHAHAHA! No. Instead, I have children.
No no, actually I DO get whole days to write. But I wrote for years before I sold gods in Alabama ---short stories, many one act and two full length plays, two unpublished novels--- and I ALWAYS had whole days to write. My husband would take my kids out of town and GIVE me long weekends with just me, the cat, and the computer. He took my career seriously LONG before anyone in NYC did. *grin*
To finish TGWSS, I went to a hotel for a week and LIVED in sweatpants, fed only on Twix bars and Shiraz. So. I guess the answer is YES, but thatâ€™s not NEW.
CM: Do you see your family less/more/the same?
JJ: A little less. Because of the travel. But when I am at home, my schedule is the same. I am a mom and wife first, novelist second. I write when my kids are at school and have a motherâ€™s helper three mornings a week in summer, and Scott gives me those weekends 4 or 5 times a book. Next year, Maisy goes to Kindergarten instead of a 3 hour little preschool thing---WOW. I wonder if I will WRITE more or SLEEP more? Probably neither. Probably I will play World of Warcraft moreâ€¦
CM: Do you get to be Real Life Friends with other authors (other than ones you might already know from your normal Outside Your Publisher life), or do you just see them at publishing house parties?
Both. Some writers you meet and you click and are friends. Others you meet and like and then you are always happy to see them at conferences and whatnot, but you donâ€™t call them when you are passing through their town and ask to sleep on their couch, you know? Others are very shy, introverted people who hole up in their rooms, and I try not to inflict my rowdy self upon them, even if (especially if) they are my heroes.
I am generally found in the bar at these sorts of things. (I donâ€™t get drunk---if I drink too much, I have to go to sleep and miss the fun parts, plus too many times I have seen the people who DO get drunk kindaâ€¦inadvertently BECOME the fun parts. *grin*) But I stay down in the bar and I nurse my pretty cocktails along and enjoy being with ACTUAL ALIVE PEOPLE. In my work at home, I mostly only get to play with IMAGINARY people. After the bar closes, I am with the last lingering die hards, hanging out like derelicts in Sonny Brewerâ€™s room. The only writers I have ever met who have consistently beaten me at LAST AT THE PARTY are Lee Child, Tommy Franklin, and Beth Ann Fennelly. Those three are secretly made of robot parts. They do not sleep.
CM: Are other people ( i.e., family and friends) more or less critical of your writing as you continue with your career?
JJ: My family has always been and remains WILDLY supportive and crazy about my stuff. I worried there would be this post publishing reaction where my writing group and crit partners would start to go SOFTER on me, but, um, not MY crit partners. LORD they hit me in the face with BRICKS when I get off the trackâ€¦I love them for that.
CM: Is it different than you thought it would be?
This week, my 3Q guest is YA author Kelly Parra whose hip new title Graffitti Girl tells the story of Angel Rodriguez, a headstrong, independent youngartist. When her entry for a community mural loses to Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--she's angry and hurt.
That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.
JJ: What do you think of your cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?
KP: I'm very pleased with my cover. It conveys Graffiti Girl exceptionally well with the girl holding the messy spray can. haha! The only aspect that was different from what I thought might be included was a graffiti filled wall somewhere in the background. I think with the can the main focus and the lovely purple, the cover is eye-catching.
JJ: Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. You both _are Mexican American and were teen artists . How is she different from you?
KP: What is different about my heroine Angel and myself is that she grasps onto her art as her self-worth and the only way she can communicate her inner feelings. In high school, I loved my art but I didn't need to take action with it. I was content with creating just for myself and I also would communicate a lot with my close friends, where Angel has a tougher time doing so.
JJ: Was graffiti part of your life as a teen?
KP: I loved art since the fifth grade. I was always drawing or painting at school or on my own. When I reached high school, my group of friends were into graffiti art and I became fascinated with the bold style. I tried my hand at graffiti designs on paper, however I was never really any good at it. After years past and I started to focus on writing, I thought I could connect with teen readers. A story line about graffiti was the first idea to pop in my head and I began to research more about the method. Luckily my agent and MTV Books thought I had an interesting story with Graffiti Girl too. :)
In other news, BETWEEN, GEORGIA debuted on the SIBA bestsellers list at number 11 last week, so THANK YOU to all you DARLING DARLINGS in the comments and the equally darling but non-commenting darlings who gave it to their moms for Motherâ€™s Day or picked up a copy for a sister or husband or brother or friend, just because.
Lastly, Amy (the webmaster at the Huntsville library) picked up a signed HB copy when I was over there last week, and she sent me the following mail:
I thought you'd get a kick out of a photo from my weekend. I was in
Loganville for a dragoncon*tv photo shoot (we film lots of spoof commercials that air during dragon*con).
So here's what we've begun to lovingly refer to as the Zombrarian photo â€“ a librarian in full zombie makeup, reading your novel between takes while standing in front of a green screen.
As my friends pointed out this weekend, "Amy, as zombies go, clearly you're a messy eater."
I had to work pretty hard not to get the stage blood on my newly-signed
book. I've always suspected that authors find it fascinating to know what happens to their books once they're purchased and go out on their own, but somehow I doubt you pictured 'zombie photo shoot.'
Maisy: What are you doing, Daddy?
Daddy: Pulling the sheets off my bed.
Daddy: So I can wash them.
Maisy: But Daddyâ€¦You donâ€™t pee the bed!
Maisy: *despairing sigh*
Me: Whatâ€™s up, buttercup?
Maisy: I will never be as pretty as a WEAL princess.
Me: Pish. You are prettier than any hundred princesses, and more important, you are kind and smart and strong and have a good heart.
Maisy: No! I looked at myself. In my Moo-er. And saw my face doesnâ€™t look like Cinderellaâ€™s. I thought I might be lovely when I grewed up, but now I wonâ€™t.
Me: You wonâ€™t?
Maisy: *gently, as if letting me down easy* Iâ€™m your daughter. And Mommy? You are NOT as pretty as a WEAL princess.
*I look into the backseat and see Maisy regarding me with her downy brows knit into a scowl.*
Maisy: Did you STEAL me?
Maisy: I just want to know if you borned me or stealed me.
Me: Um, I borned you. I mean, gave birth to you.
Maisy: How can I even KNOW that?
Me: *laughing* I have proof! Pictures! And sonograms! And witnesses!
Maisy: You might have stealed me.
Me: No, sweetie. People who steal babies are the worst sort of evil, disgusting people. To steal a baby you have to be so cruel and selfish! Do you think Daddy and I are evil?
Me: Maisy Jane! Do you think Daddy and I are evil?
Maisy: Shhhh! Iâ€™m FINKING!
SO the day after SAMâ€™S PLAY, I had crack-smoke-fully agreed to go do a library lunch in Huntsville.
It seemed NOT insane because I had gone to the library BEFORE, remembered really liking the people, remembered that they had done a GREAT job with the publicity and gathered a nice crowd for me, remembered the venue as being lovely.
All those things were true, but I ALSO remembered it as being two hours away. This is EMPHATICALLY not true, and ample proof that the crack, she is bad. That library IS two hours awayâ€¦.from my parents' house. Which was WHERE I WAS STAYING the last time I agreed to go. HEH.
It is FOUR hours away from MY house, and while I WILL drive four hours for a good venue of nice people who rock the publicity, I HAVE to stay over. I canâ€™t drive more than an hour, two at the outside, after doing a book talk. Post-public speaking, I am generally very drained and sleepy and four hours of driving + drained and sleepy = suicide by truck.
Well. I could not stay over even though I have family in Huntsville because I had SAMâ€™S PLAY on Thursday night, and Maisyâ€™s dance recital was Saturday in the MORNING. So. I had to go up and back. In one day.
Luckily my wonderful Dad has seen me get into the passenger seat and drop into immediate REM sleep after public speaking, so he decided to go to Huntsville WITH me and drive me back after.
Let me tell you how NICE these folks were. They looked on my website and saw I had caught granola-fever, and put the chocolates they had bought me aside and went right out and got me UNSWEETENED Carob almonds (surprisingly great!) and dried apricots. THEN! To add fermented bean curd to an already perfect day, alert FTK reader Tami showed up with LITTLE SOUP PACKES OF MISO PASTE. *weep* Yaâ€™ll FTKâ€™ers are so NICE.
Anyway, I say all this because I am getting a lot of emails and comments asking
WHAT ARE YOU EATING, EXACTLY, YOU BIG FREAK? Some go on to say, BECAUSE I WANT TO BE A BIG FREAK TOO and some just want to know.
The only question I have been asked more in the last two weeks is WHAT ARE YOU READING. SO! Here we go!
I also generally have an audio book going, and I am delighted to report that Lee Childâ€™s new REACHER book launches today , and I am going to buy it on audio AS SOON AS EVER the closest bookstore unlocks. BEEN WAITING FOR THIS ONE. REACHEREACHEREACHER! Viva la Reacher! Reacher forever!
Now, as for what I am eating (I big freak) here is HOW TO DO A 14 DAY SIMPLE INNER CHILD CLEANSE. Which, by the way? I am done. Lost about six and a half pounds, got back in my old jeans, and yes, Virginia, my skin IS glowing like the dewy butt cheeks of 1000 babies, if I DO say so myself.
Morning: Get up and drink a quart of boiling hot salt water. SEA salt, please, as Mortonâ€™s or any other iodized type of salt will make you vomit. We are CLEANSING, not trying to contract bulimia. Try to think of it as BROTH, and you are less likely to gag. FOR THE RECORD, I am an EASY gagger, and I absolutely could NOT manage this. Supposedly, salt is a scouring agent and is very cleansy, but, ugh. No.
I drank a quart of boiling hot lemon water instead, under the theory that lemon must be a cleansy sort of thing, too, or else why would Pledge come in lemon flavor? <---logic!
Protein: Crazy Bible Pasta
WILD CAUGHT fish/shellfish (Eat farmed fish as your sole source of protein and you will have so much mercury in you, you would be able to act as a viable thermometer. Also, you might contract brain cancer. Mercury = bad.)
Fat: Olive Oil. No butter or lard and NO! hydrogenated oils
Carbs: Whole oats (I ate em raw, but if you must eat em cooked, use water and NO quick cook kinds or flavored kinds. You want old fashioned WHOLE GRAIN oats)
Crazy Fiber brown rice blends
Whole grain couscous
Kashi Go Lean Cereal (no milk, no CRUNCH variety, the PLAIN go lean that looks like cat kibbles and is NOT sweet)
*With carbs, you are looking for a BARE minimum of 4 grams of fiber per serving, where a serving is 150 â€“ 200 calories. Except the oats, I actually did not eat anything with less than 7 grams of fiber per serving that first week,choosing courcous with milled flax is also a smart choice.*
ANY AND ALL raw fruits and veggies and blanched veggies. I also ate a TON of sautÃ©ed spinach. Avoid starchy veggies---no potatoes, corn, peas. If you have to COOK it to eat it, it is probably not good. Juice is fiberless and sugar high and to be avoided. I used dribbles of it to flavor my sparkling water.
Something fermented â€“ Miso is best as you are off dairy this week. Or you can take acido-dolphins in pill form, which is what I did.
Drink another quart of cold water by the dayâ€™s end, and you may have black coffee and or unsweetened tea if you are a caffeine junky like me.
At bedtime: Last thing you do is drink a 6 ounce cup of Senna Tea with 1.5 teaspoons of honey. ONLY use for 14 days.
WEEK TWO: I added a little milk for coffee, red wine for mental health, and black beans and other bean-type things for protein/carbs and unsweetened carob almonds for a dessert-like substance.
THATâ€™S IT. It seems very restricted, butâ€¦itâ€™s 14 days. You can do ANYTHING for 14 days.
On Motherâ€™s day (Day 15! DONE!) I ravaged a platter of SOUTHWESTERN EGGROLLS!!!! FRIED OH LORDY! YUM! And bogarted a small bag of POPPYCOCK (I got so HIGH on the sugar I was bouncing into walls) BUT Now I am back on the narrow path to narrower jeans again. I want the jeans I am fitting into to be NOT QUITE SO TIGHT by the time I leave for NYC in 2 weeks. Here on day 16, I am keeping the same eating plan but am off the tea and the Acido-dendrons. I am considering allowing myself to eat chicken and meat again but so far have not.
Also? White bread and pasta now tastes like Elmerâ€™s glue to me â€“ vile and sticky and white in my mouth. Canâ€™t stand it.
ALSO? Except for Easter and Motherâ€™s day I have had no dessert or processed sugar since ASH WEDNESDAY (February 21). At this point, I donâ€™t crave it like I used to, and I have gone off artificial sweeteners as well.
The thing about this â€œLife planâ€ is, it is complicated and fussy enough to be INTERESTING---I am ENJOYING obsessing about it and finding WEIRD THINGS I can put experimentally into my stomach in the name of health. Itâ€™s become entertainment, and I only hope I donâ€™t find myself in a hemp dress and rubber sandals, scrabbling around with dirty nails near my compost pile in the back yard so I can bury my home-strained tofu to ferment naturally in the earthâ€¦. but it is not INCONCEIVABLE, you know?
This is the first moment I have had to sit down since THURSDAY, oh best beloveds, so sorry the blog went dark, but I have not been here. I have been running around in circles with my head chicken-like-ily detached.
Chicken-like-ily is TOO a word. *glare*
Mr. Husband has left the building for nine days, and I am GRUMPY and single momming it ---May I just say, â€œON MOTHERâ€™S DAY!!!!â€ And while I say it I shall look especially aggrieved, and then you can all pick up teeny tiny violins or maybe even some mini-cellos and violas and make GENUINELY pitying eyes as you saw away at them? Because, while I have been playing a teeny tiny violin for MYSELF, it would sound better with the back up of a whole poignant-in-miniature string section.
I canâ€™t tell you the WHOLE weekend, but here is a representative SAMPLE of WHY my head is chicken-like-ily detached. (STOP JUDGING ME! THAT IS SO A WORD!)
Schedule on Thursday afternoon:
3:30 â€“ 4:30 PM Maisyâ€™s dance recital dress rehearsal
5 Pick up my parents at my house
5:30 Be at Samâ€™s school for play
I was VERY excited about Samâ€™s play, which was about PIONEERS and gold rushes and steamboats and Texas and California and Armadillos and Teepees and the great railroads, and he was excited, too. VERY! He had had a small part as â€œThe Steamboat Captainâ€™s First Mateâ€ and had spent the better part of April marching around the house yodeling, â€œALL ABOARD! ALL ABOOOOAAARD! This boat is heading for The West down the Mississippi!â€
BUT! Ten days before the play, the fifth grader playing one of the lead roles â€“ Robert Fulton! The guy who invented the steamboat! Except he didnâ€™t! He was actually the first guy who got one to really work, or made money having one or something very American like that! But still! And SAM was asked if he thought he could learn all the lines FAST and take over.
Now, Scott and I MET doing regional repertoire---met and became very best friends and never dated for seven years. I like to say he spent those years toiling in my fatherâ€™s vineyards and that Iâ€™m just happy I didnâ€™t have an old maid sister he had to marry first, but the truth is, he spent them toiling mostly on and behind stages with me. We never played romantically opposite each other, unless you count running around nearly naked in The Infamous Underwear Play
which I emphatically do not, and ANYWAY, Orton wasnâ€™t exactly a ROMANTICâ€¦Point is, my kids BOTH seem to have the theatre bug, and Sam knew the part in less than 48 hours and was, by all accounts, NAILING it and blowing minds at school with his authentic FULTON-ocity and Steamboatiness.
On Thursday morning, he Oh-So-Casually asked my husband, who was packing to LEAVE ME ALL ALONE ON MOTHERâ€™S DAY (cue teeny orchestral wailings) â€œWhat did Robert Fulton look like?â€
So we asked My Friend The Google, and the google showed us a man who spent ENTIRELY too much time carefully working his hair into artful little tousles, but who was otherwise unremarkable. (â€œHeâ€™s a little Percy Bysshe,â€ said Scott, who God bless him, has never actually PUT A PRODUCT other than shampoo onto his head and even seems to regard CONDITIONER with mild suspect) And that was the end of it.
But that casual sentence percolated around in my head all day and finally, just as we arrived harried but on time to Maisyâ€™s rehearsal, with Samâ€™s curtain set to go up in less than two and EVERY MINUTE already filled with its allotted choreâ€¦The seeds of that question bloomed into a horror-blossom in my mind and I turned to Sam with a gimlet eye scything him open down unto his very bones and and said, â€œWhy did you want to know what Robert Fulton looks like? DO YOU HAVE A COSTUME YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WEAR???â€
Me: Is the costume at SCHOOL?
Him: No. I have to bring it.
Me; WHAT! WHAT? OH LORDY WHAT IS THE COSTUME YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BRING?
Him: *shrug* Maybe I should dress like a old fashioned sailor? Because I DID invent the steamboat. Or maybe a businessman? Because I got very rich! I should just, you know, look like Robert Fulton.â€
At which point my head exploded and the next few minutes are a merciful wash of black in my memory, but I am sure that thirty years from now my sonâ€™s therapist will be able to tell me what transpired, should I ever become curiousâ€¦
After I re-attached my sonâ€™s head (which I had lopped off in a rage) I called my mother, who was in route from Alabama, and said, â€œPlease exit in Douglasville and go to the mall and BUY A ROBERT FULTON COSTUME, I do not know, just --- he should look like an old fashioned business man. DO YER BEST!â€
Anyway, my mother magically cobbled something together, and he looked great and stole the show and whatnot, and I guess, in the end, I should just shut up and be profoundly grateful he wasnâ€™t cast as The Armadillo.
I am late for DOG TRAINING (I am wondering when we will get to the class that covers NOT EATING DAISIES â€¦) Maybe this week *sigh* SO I am going to let best-selling novelist Jennifer Oâ€™Connell talk about her new book, INSIDER DATING which Cosmo calls, â€œA poolside page-turner.â€
It is the story of Abby Dunn, barely past thirty and still reeling from her divorce. She has taken herself off the dating market. Instead, sheâ€™s using her experience to turn the tables on the opposite sex by building a database to rank underperforming men and set women straight when investing their greatest asset: themselves.
Now, what started as a pet project is becoming a full-time enterprise, but someone is skewing her data and threatening to ruin her business. Abby is about to find out that sometimes even the savviest market wizards can be headed for a crash.
While it may be perfectly legal, nothing good can come from insider dating.
JJ: What do you think of your cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?
JOâ€™C: The cover of INSIDER DATING is actually the third try. The first try was tear-inducing. The concept was interesting â€“ show a â€œlittle black bookâ€ where a woman would keep information. The execution looked more like a Hello Kitty diary for a nine year old. I wanted to die (ok, I wanted the designer to die). Second attempt included some color and pattern changes. Still no good. Iâ€™m really happy with the final cover (although I donâ€™t like her shoes, but after the first two choices I wasnâ€™t about to be a pain in the ass). I didnâ€™t really have an ideal cover, I just wanted it to look smart, mature and professional with a twist.
JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?
JOâ€™C: This book is dedicated to my two best friends, Vicki and Vangie. Weâ€™ve been best friends since we met our first day of college, and when I was writing this book they were both going through divorces. Here I was writing about a woman who was divorced and my friends were going through it for real. Their circumstances were completely different from Abbyâ€™s in the book, but the idea that your friends are the ones who are always there for you is in the book, and in our real lives as well.
JJ: Tell us whether or not youâ€™d belong to a secret society where women share information about the men theyâ€™ve dated:
JOâ€™C: Thatâ€™s a tough one. On the one hand, it would save a lot of wasted energy on someone who is incompatible. On the other hand, I probably wouldnâ€™t be married to my husband. Some other woman heâ€™d dated would have let me know that he gets up way too early (Iâ€™m not a morning person), he hates to travel (I love to get away), he canâ€™t type (I have a laptop perma-glued to my thighs), he recites lines to cheesy movies (if I hear one more line from Fletch Iâ€™ll break out into hives), and he doesnâ€™t take advantage of airline miles when charging things to a credit card, instead choosing to earn â€œRed Sox pointsâ€ on a card with his favorite teamâ€™s logo (Iâ€™m a â€œfreeâ€ mile junky who can justify any charge because I know Iâ€™m earning a flight somewhere). Maybe itâ€™s the things you canâ€™t itemize that end up being the things that matter.
Sometimes, when I do a book club visit, they get me a little SOMETHING to remember them by. Itâ€™s often chocolate, which I used to eat, I remember, back in the beautiful misty yesterday before I realized I couldnâ€™t fit in any of my PANTS and had to stop, you know, eating things that taste good in favor of highly nutritive sawdust and herbal supplementsâ€¦ Now I feed the chocolate to my children who have taken to asking, all casual like, â€œGot any book clubs scheduled, Mom?â€ with Sugar Avarice shining lamp-like in their eyes.
Sometimes it is wine, which, all I have to say about THAT is, YAY! The last one I went to got me a very UNUSUAL little something, a charming and unexpected never-before-given thing, but alas! It made my heart quail with mingled love and terror.
It was a pot of Gerber Daisies. ALIVE ones. With ROOTS.
This book club did not know two things:
Thing one is, Gerber daisies are my favorite flower IN THE UNIVERSE. I love the shape, the rich fall-like colors, the cheerful wide roundness of their open faces surrounded by the petals. OH! OH! LOVE! I am not a BEAUTY OF THE EARTH flower type person, but Gerber Daisies speak to me, and they always have---Tulips, too, for some reason. When people send me daisies or tulips, my kitchen is a happy place for days, and I tend to warble while I do the dishes.
But. Thing two isâ€¦.I kill plants.
Plants, in fact, secretly call me Sweeny Joshilyn, the Demon Gardener of Death Street, and when I take a wrong turn and accidentally walk through the garden section of Home Depot, all the little pots of flowering perennials begin to pray fervently to their green and rooty gods, â€œPlease, please,â€ they pray, â€œLet the killer pass on by. Not me. OH PLEASE NOT ME.â€ Because if I do INSANELY decide to buy a plant, that plantâ€™s days are numbered, and its death will be black spotted and slimy and excrutiating.
So I am given this POOR DOOMED blooming gerbera by a well meaning book club, and normally when some sad plant is foolishly handed over into my protection, I gamely take a run at it, and it slowly and agonizingly dies, and then I put the pot in the shed and shrug. But, see, THIS WAS GERBER DAISIES. And I LOVE them in a way I am never going to love, like, the usual household ferns or waxy leaved whatnots. And I didnâ€™t even know Gerbers CAME potted, and that you could have them, ALIVE AND GORGEOUS, cheering oneâ€™s house up much longer than CUT ones, which die in a few days.
SO! I got this insane idea. SELF! I said to myself. SELF! You are going to take care of this plant properly and YOUR FRIEND THE GOOGLE will tell you how to make it thrive and be beautiful forever,
Let me just tell you, the only plant I ever managed to keep for more than a few weeks was this HARDY little cactus I got back in college. I was SO charmed by its inability to be killed by me that I moved it with me from Florida to Athens to Atlanta back to Florida and then to Chicago. In Chicago, Scott picked up its little pot and looked at it, and I waxed rhapsodotic about how I had managed to keep it alive and its name was Rexy and we had traveled lo half the country together, and blah blah etc and how once I had even accidentally STORED it in a U BOXIT SHED for a few a weeks and STILL it clung to life, looking exactly the same as it had when I got it.
He gave me pitying eyebrows.
Him: Donâ€™t you think thatâ€™s a little odd, that it looks exactly the same as when you got it? I mean, considering that that was more than six years ago?
Me: What do you mean?
Him: I mean, six years, and it is still in this same tiny starter pot. No changes at all, really?
Me: Oh. You think I have stunted it?
Him: *gently* No. No. Not stunted it, per se. Itâ€™s a little, umâ€¦.fossilized.
So I came over and gave it a HARD pinch and itâ€¦crumbled. Into little rocky dusts. So. Yeah.
BUT this time, I was sure, it would all be different because I do not LOVE cactuses like I LOVE gerber daisies.
So things have gone well for a few weeks. And then TODAY the blooms looked a littleâ€¦droopy. They looked down sadly at the tabletop instead of facing me. And so I said to it (THE GOOGLE says it is good to talk to plants) I said to it, â€œYOU need a speck of lovely morning sunshine!â€ And I put it out on the back deck in the middle fo my big table.
UNFORTUNATELY, while it sat outside and I took Maisy to preschool, something mysterious happened. I cannot figure it out. I THINK the climbing rose bush by the stairs must have told the Gerber EXACTLY who now owned it, and the Gerber, fearing its impending long slow torturous demise, justâ€¦.exploded. Blew itself to smithereens. Suicided using the methane from passing cow toots or borrowed dynamite from the monkey grass. That must be what happened, because I canâ€™t figure out any other explanation for THISâ€¦.
1) I need a new category called RANDOM NEURONS FIRING for these weird little lists of things that are wholly unconnected and that I like to NUMBER as if they were in some way sequential. â€œAH! You seek order in a chaotic world,â€ says a passing philosopher, and I nod wisely, as if it were so. But just between us? No one who ever saw my closet would accuse me of seeking order.
Still, I like lists.
2) Mr. Husband sent me a link to a Winnie the Pooh cartoon. But. This one was animated by Soviets. Vin Puh! Itâ€™s awesome.
3) Remember Bush Baby? From Friday? Karen wishes we would run into him again. No, not so we can beat him up. *grin* He has stuck with her, too. She wants to get him on the couch and goozle out his backstory. I say, Are you planning on writing â€œInterview with the Buttheadâ€ Ms. Rice?â€ She doesnâ€™t care. Sheâ€™s pretty sure he would be an interesting person to grill. She wants to get the really for true story.
Me, I NEVER want to see him again. I am not sure I would recognize him if we did. I suspect that already in my brain his face has shifted, so that he looks more like I WANT him to look than how he actually looks. I suspect that if we DID find him, his backstory would not be terribly interesting to me. I could barely tolerate the conversation of the drunken 18 year old male when I was a sober 17 year old female, soâ€¦.
In my HEAD, I LOVE this guy already, warts and all. I have a reformed Irish bad boy in my head named Parker, and I think BB may be Parkerâ€™s paper son; I am FASCINATED by the specific mental illnesses I am giving BB and have ZERO interest in his actual mental illnesses.
The passing philosopher is back, wanting to know how this speaks to the working minds of the non-fic writer and the novelist, but jeez didnâ€™t that guy JUST pass here going other the way? MOVE IT ALONG BUDDY I have NOT had enough coffee yet to even LOOK at you with your dirty feet in their mandals and your flowing brown hair.
4) Filed under, Mean People Suck: AGAIN with the drive by --- I swan I have ticked off Karma ala Earl to draw such a flood of Random Ire. I was wheeling through Publix, picking up SUPER FOODS and fresh veggies and wild caught shrimpies (Yes,Virginia, I have SHOCKINGLY stuck to the â€œlife planâ€ and as a result I am ALREADY fitting back in MY OLD JEANS and my inner child is feeling smug and cleansy and righteousâ€¦) and I had Miss Maisy with me, which meant I was using a CAR CART. I freaking HATE the car cart. It has a big plastic car on the front and is about 90 times the size of a regular cart and the wheels go squirting around all unruly and UGH! But Maisy LOVES it.
I had my BLUE TOOTH screwed into my ear ----I had forgotten it was there. Maisy and I were having a very involved discussion about what constitutes an acceptable breakfast food (I am emphatically PRO Count Chocula, but as a DESSERT, not to dump into your stomach when you first roll out of bed seeking sustenance) I came around the corner and and BOOM, there was an older lady with pursed, frownful lines engraved SO deeply around her small, round mouth that it resembled nothing so much as, forgive me, a cat butt, and she and her cart were RIGHT there. SO I stopped ABRUPTLY, making absolutely NO contact with her cart, and smiled and said, â€œOh whoops, that was a close one! So Sorry!â€
She gave me a poisonous stare from under her sparse eyebrows and said, â€œIf you quit all that yacking you would see where you were going!â€ And wheeled furiously away.
OOOOOkay. Then I realized I had my blue tooth screwed in, and I thought, Oh, maybe she thinks I am on the phone and some people HATE that and â€¦. Whatever. So. I go around the corner, start down the next aisle, and of COURSE we meet up again. So I say, â€œI AM sorry, I was talking to my daughter,â€ indicating Maisy in the car, and she glared at me AGAIN and said in a voice both furious AND patronizing (it sounded like she was talking to a brain damaged hamster, but not one she LIKED much), â€œYes. When you should have been DRIVING.â€ And stomped off.
I ALMOST said, â€œThis isnâ€™t actually a CA|R, you understand,â€ but she was well over 65 and so I could not say anything.
I went DIRECTLY back to produce and noodled around in the peppers to avoid re-meeting her down every aisle. Little old ladies intimidate the CRAP out of me. Sometimes the Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses get smart and send a little old lady to invade my home, and I am INCAPABLE of telling any tottery female with a bun and orthopedic shoes that NO, I DO NOT WANT THE WATCHTOWER and PLEASE GET OFF MY LAWN, so I end up politely discussing the End of Days for half an hour on my porch. Itâ€™s all I can DO not to bring them in the house and feed them cookies and convert, really.
On the bright side, I found the ONE decent yellow pepper buried in the bin near the back, when I had given them all up as bad jobs earlier.
5) Here is a recent mash picture of my BIG FLUFFY BOYFRIEND Dexter.
Gray Parrots are NOTORIOUSLY stand-offish and coy and complicated and violently passionate in their likes and dislikes---walk up to a strange one and pat it and see how many thumbs you have at the end of THAT adventure. They generally are not terribly cuddlesome with people they do not really KNOW and LOVEâ€¦but I have been COURTING Dexter assiduously for MONTHS now, and he has begun wolf whistling when I come in the room and singing to me and dancing when he sees me and making kiss noises at me. When I go to open his cage, he comes sidling over to see me, and on my last two visits he has consented to let me scritch his head with my fingers and NOW he is apparently snapping (naked) pics of himself with his camera phone and sending them.
He LIKES me! He LIKES me! HUZZAH!
SO. Before I tell you the end of the dam story, I want to show you a pic Tammy over at Seattle Mystery Bookshop sent me of their front window display of Between, Georgia. Lord, thatâ€™s SO nice. THANK YOU GUYS.
I donâ€™t want to complain or seem ungracious or anything---I hope the Seattle folks donâ€™t take it that way--- but I just wish Between could have been a staff pickâ€¦. *grin*
ANYWAY, Karen and I did the book event, and then we rejoined the Dam guys for the RIGHT BRAINERS ABBREVIATED TOUR; we drove AROUND the dam for about ten minutes. It was pretty dern cool, actually. Iâ€™m not saying I wanted to spend two solid hours crawling around sniffing at the foundation and fingering the steel bits like the guys did, but I am very glad I went to see it. It is very huge but OPEN still as they are building 80 more feet upwards, so you can see into its guts.
I asked a few questions, but Chuck is SPOOKY smart and he is all LEFT brain, so sometimes he says things about engineering that have so many mysterious components he might as well speak Swahili. And he has what Karen calls â€œEngineer humor.â€ For example, one day they drove down this road with a soft shoulder of crumbly looking dirt and Chuck cast a baleful eye over it and said, â€œNice soil erosion sediment controlâ€¦NOT.â€
Yeah. I donâ€™t get it either. (But donâ€™t you think it would be COOL to have a T Shirt that said that? With the NOT on the back?)
So I would ask questions and Chuck would say back a long string of words that meant exactly nothing to me. Like, at one point I asked what some type of special concrete was ---it had a long three part name and Chuck said something like â€œItâ€™s a something something concrete with a high something so it is malleable, so when the lifts are somethinged you can something it.â€ Karen and I peeped a baffled peep sideways at each other and mouthed â€œWhat?â€ Scott followed it.
I started to feel pretty stupid but, you know, neither one of those guys can REALLY extend a metaphor. Just saying.
Now the sad part--- after that, everywhere we went, people wanted to spit in our wheaties. It was so WEIRD. We went to this usually very rowdy pool hall first to play air hockey and pin ball and pool. A bunch of people were in the front room watching the NFL draft and drinking, but the game room was empty. We were chattering and laughing, and this woman at the bar turned around and stared at us with murdererâ€™s eyes: blank, baleful, cool, gelid.
SOOoooo we sort of shut up and walked away into the game room and played pool and air hockey---KAREN CHEATS!!!! ---and were having fun AWAY out of her eye and earshot as she seemed so offended by us, but after a little she came into the room and sat down alone at a table near the front to watch the four of us play with such cold, implacable, drunken hatred that I began to worry she was gearing up to make us stand against the back wall and shoot us in the head. So we left.
We had reservations at VICKERYâ€™S, this cute Cuban/southern/something fusion place. Vickeryâ€™s, I remembered, serves their martinis in very small glasses with a brandy snifter full of ice and a carafe with the rest of your martini kept icy beside it.
I used to go there ALL THE TIME back in the day, when I was in school at Georgia State, but I hadnâ€™t been in maybe 17 years? So after we were seated, I told Karen about how they used to serve the martinis with the carafe and whatnot, and we went up to the bar to see what they had.
Me: Oh man! No martini board, There used to be a blackboard RIGHT THERE *point* and it had a list of all kinds of martinis on it, and they would have specials and suchlike. It was darling. But it is gone---see what happens when you leave a restaurant alone for 15 or 20 yearsâ€¦â€
We were kinda laughing about how DUMB I was for expecting it all to be just the very same, and for NO reason AT ALL this guy sitting right in front of us at the bar---a young guy, kind of dewy cheeked and big eyed, a sweet-faced bush baby looking sort (and *I* would have carded him had I been the bartender) swung around on his stool.
Bush Baby Boy: Hey, can I ask you something?
BBB: How big a disappointment do you think youâ€™ve been to your family, your friends, and your loved ones so far? No, Really.
We both kind BOGGLED at him---I guess he meant that close to two decades later here I was in the same bar looking for the martini board? Or something? I donâ€™t know, but it was such a hateful thing to turn and ask total strangers --- very---pointed?
But he was aiming at the wrong girls---I mean, thatâ€™s SO not my soft spot. My family is consistently proud of me to the point that itâ€™s embarrassing, you know? In that good I-scrub-my-toe-in-the-dirt way. Like, not just the writing stuff, but they are proud that I try hard to be a good mom and to be kind and do the right thing. They are proud that I try to be a good person, even though I often fail.
If you want to do a drive-by wounding in a bar, you have to be MUCH better at finding the soft underbelly at a glance---he missed us both by a country mile. He should have asked how the martini board was going to help me lose 7 more pounds in time for BEA if he wanted to get me in my marrows. This was OFF, and so, after a second of boggling, we both started giggling.
Me: Um, we havenâ€™t disappointed them at all. Weâ€™re both happily married, healthy, and. Iâ€™m a best selling novelist. Her first book is about to come out from Random House. Our families are so proud they could BURST something.
Then I had this sudden WORRY that maybe he WASNâ€™T being a butthead. Maybe he was sitting in this bar drinking on a fake I.D. because HE felt he had disappointed HIS family and loved ones, and he wasnâ€™t asking to try and be MEAN but because he was just, you know, IN DESPAIR.
So I kinda stepped toward him and said, soft, so no one else in the bar could hear, â€œYou look so young---Why do you ask? Do think youâ€™ve been a disappointment to someone?â€
But no. I was right the first time; he had been trying to be a butthead. He sneered at me and said, â€œNah, I was just trying to head f*** you. I havenâ€™t disappointed anyone.â€
I was at a loss then---what do you say to someone who boldly admits, â€œI was trying to ruin your good time.â€
Luckily Karen knew. She stepped up beside me and said, â€œThatâ€™s okay. You ARE young; you have YEARS left to disappoint your family.â€
Then we went back to the guys and had a VERY nice dinner----I had shrimp, oysters and crawdaddies over grits. Yum. And they served my dirty martini just the way I remembered, little carafe and all, so it stayed cold all through.
But anyway â€“ that was two places in a row where some sour little person really wanted all joy to cease, and I donâ€™t understand it. Do you understand it? We had a great time, and we didnâ€™t get shot, either literally by the bar glarer or metaphorically by the Bush Baby, but MAN I keep thinking about them â€“ I want to get in those heads, especially HIS, because itâ€™s so foreign to me.
I think a version of Bush Baby might one day show up in a novel, as soon as I can figure out whatâ€™s wrong with him. I keep trying out backstories for him when I am bored in the car. I make up different versions of the day that brought him to that bar, mouth loaded with blanks, trying to lash out with his soft hands. He was like a declawed cat trying to take a chunk out of a passing leg, only to find his blow velvetted and useless, and he realizes he has only wiped the feathers of his feet against skin. Then what would he do?
Thatâ€™s how a book starts for me. If I think about him on and off for a long time â€“ maybe just a few years if he is a minor character, butlonger if he is important. The event that started Between happened 20 years before I started that book. So. Maybe, if he is going to end up a main character, Iâ€™ll be thinking about him for the next decade at least.
I am in a rush to get out to the AJC read-in thing --- my hometown paper, like MANY other papers, did away with the book editor and I am going to gently fuss and ask if we can please please have the fabulous Therea Weaver back ***tossed off Political stuff redacted here because I accidentally seem to have started several debates with a tossed off sentence that didn't convey my point clearly. Sorry. I just want newspapers to have book reviews. I will leave it at that.***
SO, two quick thingsâ€¦
There is a pretty dern cool interview with me up at Estellaâ€™s Revenge.
Two: I love Shanna Swendson, Iâ€™ve read the first two in the series, and I will be taking this book to the beach this summer, and now you are lucky because she is going to talk to you while I go---well, not protest. I am not a sign waving megaphone sort. But stand near the AJC and read, that I can do. Her latest in the series is Damsel Under Stress
Katie has a long to-do list: Stop the bad guys. Rescue the wizard. Find the perfect outfit for New Yearâ€™s Eve.
At last, Owen Palmer, the dreamboat wizard at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., has conjured up the courage to get Katie Chandler under the mistletoe at the office holiday party. But just when it looks like Katie has found her prince, in pops her inept fairy godmother, Ethelinda, to throw a wand into the works. Ethelindaâ€™s timing couldnâ€™t be worse. A plot hatched by MSIâ€™s rogue ex-employees, Idris and his evil fairy gal pal Ari, threatens to expose the companyâ€™s secretsâ€“and the very existence of magic itself. Even worse, it could also mean the end of Katieâ€™s happily-ever-after.
â€œMagical and totally delightful . . . [a] quirky, lighthearted romance.â€ â€“freshfiction.com
JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?
SS: This book is dedicated in memory of my friend, Rosa Vargas. She was one of
my closest friends, one of those people you meet and then minutes later you
can't remember not knowing them. No matter what we talked about -- books, TV
shows, actors, movies -- it turned out that we were on the same page and had
the same favorites. When I started writing Enchanted, Inc., the first book
in my series, I sent her the first few chapters to read because I saw her as
the model for my target audience, the person who'd like the unique blend of
elements I'd thrown together. She immediately asked what happened next, and
so I kept writing and sent her each chapter as I wrote it. She kept telling
me she was sure the book would sell. I think she had more faith in me than I
had. When I got an agent, she sent me Godiva chocolates, and when the book
sold, she sent me a cookie bouquet. It turned out she'd ordered it ahead of
time, she had that much faith in me. She kept up her job as first reader
when I wrote the next book. Then she was diagnosed with cancer just as I
started writing the third book, and she passed away before I got to the
point of sending chapters to her. That made it difficult to write this book
for a while, but I knew she'd haunt me if I didn't finish it, so this book
became my memorial to her. The series probably wouldn't exist without her
input, so I think it's a fitting memorial. It still makes me sad that she
didn't get to see this book at all, but she was the one person I ever told
what the real story with Owen was, up until very recently when I wrote that
into a book proposal and sent it to my agent, so at least she knew some of
the secrets of the series and had an idea how it might end.
JJ: Your book is shelved in general fiction, but it has elements of fantasy. Can
you explain how having a sort of HYBRID of genres helped or hurt you as you
tried to market your book?
SS: I think it's ultimately been a big help, though it may have given me a slow
start because a big portion of the readership who might like my books wasn't
looking in the place where the books were shelved. But as the fantasy
readers have discovered me, they've been great about spreading word of
mouth. I've also done a lot of marketing targeting those readers by going to
science fiction/fantasy conventions. It's not like that's a huge hardship,
as those are my people.
JJ: Tell us about your dating life. Have you ever wished you had a fairy
godmother like in the book?
SS: I could probably use a good fairy godmother. I don't have a lot of luck
meeting men, probably because I don't leave the house very often. Though,
come to think of it, all Cinderella's fairy godmother did was wardrobe
coordination and managing transportation. I could handle that much. What I
need is for someone to find the ball for me to go to, introduce me to Prince
Charming and then give me a few clever things to say to him when I freeze in
his presence. I don't know if you can find a fairy godmother who'll do that.
Really, what I need is a fairy godmother who can find a way to help me meet
this cute local news anchorman I've had my eye on for years. Maybe there's
some journalist ball the fairy godmother could get me into. But what would I
leave behind to help him track me down later after he falls madly in love
with me (which, of course, he will)? I wear a size seven shoe, possibly the
most average size, so even leaving behind one of my red stiletto pumps isn't
exactly going to narrow it down much for him.
THANK YOU SHANNA!
Today is the day BETWEEN, GEORGIA officially releases in paperback. I have yet to see it in a bookstore, but after today, it ought to be there. LA LA LA! Have you seen it? I havenâ€™t been inside a bookstore for about a week now, so it may have been on a few shelves before todayâ€¦Remember, it has a new cover.
<-------- Looks like that now. TELL ME IF YOU SEE IT! You may even want to pick it up and press it into the hands of passing strangers and say, â€œYou are an absolute savage if you donâ€™t read this book.â€ Thatâ€™s what I plan to do. Or not.
I have to RUN and drive back to Atlanta for a luncheon and it is an hour later there so I have to leave SOON. Iâ€™m at my parentâ€™s house because last night I was in Oneonta, Alabama, at the Other Covered Bridges lit fest and it was, quite frankly, awesome funâ€¦EXCEPTâ€¦I told an enormous whopper to Sena Jeter Naslund, the intimidatingly accomplished writer of Abundance and Ahabâ€™s Wife who, in her spare time, solves for Pi and plays world class cello.
Am I kidding? No. She IS broad spectrum brilliant in this well rounded way that baffles me. I can do one or two things remarkably well, and then I am basically incompetent at all of the rest of life. My husband doesnâ€™t have a single spike of focused talent, but he can do just about anything he sets his mind to and is the most competent-at-life human problem solving machine I ever met. I thought those were the two kinds of people.
The Jeters (I pluralize because the third writer who spoke at the fest was her genius brother John who is in an ENGINEER SLASH LITERARY NOVELISTâ€¦again with the not kidding) are apparently a here-to-fore undreamed of THIRD type who just run around doing absolutely everything brilliantly.
They are also REALLY nice, which makes me feel even worse about the WHOPPER.
I blame the librarians. They VICIOUSLY and with MALICE had the festival catered. There was a BUFFET OF DOOM that included baked brie, mini beef Wellingtons in darling little puffs of pÃ¢tÃ© smeared pastry, and Lord help me, FAT DELIGHTFUL CRABCAKES, bursting with fried deliciousness. OH it was the very devil for someone in a BET to see who can get their, um, inner child the cleansiest. SO.
I filled up a plate with raw veggies (no dip as the dip was dairy based) and some fruit. CRUEL DEVIL PEOPLE kept coming up to me making MUNCHY, PLEASED noises and saying, â€œOh have you tried the crab cakes? They are succulent! And filled with Crabby goodness. Here, just take a NIBBBLE off the corner of this beef Wellington, or grab a cracker that you can tell just by LOOKING is not whole grain and use it to scoop up gooey brie.â€ My friend Sara told me that in those situations she tells everyone who offers her food that she is a Vegan, and then they bring her a plate of celery and sawdust and she is too ASHAMED to admit she lied, so she sticks to her Life Plan. I didnâ€™t want to lie because my parents are probably going to MOVE to Oneonta, but I was reaching critical TEMPTEDNESS MASS. I decided desperate times called for rampant dishonesty.
Behind me, someone said, for about the 12th time, â€œOh yum, did you try this crab?â€
â€œI AM A VEGAN,â€ I lied boldly, and turned around and saw it was Sena.
She said, â€œOh really?â€ in a polite, rhetorical way, and I flushed and said, â€œNo. Not really. Iâ€™m lying,â€ and crept away because the writing world is SMALL and sooner or later, she is bound to see me at some lit fest or another hoovering up fistfuls of bacon wrapped shrimps with meat-grease running down my chin. Heh.
At any rate, I did not break. I DID NOT BREAK! And if Beef Wellington canâ€™t break me, I donâ€™t know what can.
Anyway, I KNEW I was going to begin the Crazy Bible Pasta Diet. And my friend Karen agreed to go on it, too. We are both HIDEOUSLY COMPETITIVE, so we made a bet. Whoever BREAKS and has cheese, or wine, or chocolate, is the undisputed loser and the WINNER is the total boss of them forever. It may sound meaningless to you, but trust me, Karen and I would both lick worms ---MULTIPLE slime covered FILTHY worms ------ before we would let the other win. We are using our horrible warty inner competitive trolls for good!
ANYWAY---on Saturday, Karen and I wanted to have a orgie-riffic bacchanalia. To fortify our inner children for the long road ahead.
In a seemingly unrelated but of info, Karen is married to Chuck, the lead engineer for this dam thatâ€™s being built up in Canton, Ga to provide drinking water for Cherokee County. Cherokee is growing MAD and FAST, and Chuckâ€™s dam is going to be the largest dam in Georgia. This is SUPER GREAT FOR CHUCK AND ALL, butâ€¦
Ever since Mr. Husband found out what Chuck does for a living, you can guess what his main aim in all of life was: For both of us to go with Chuck and Karen out to Canton so we could all put on hardhats and REALLY sexy puffy orange safety vests and crawl all over the impending dam and watch how it was being built and sniff its foundations and look at PERFECTLY HUUUUUUGE CRANES.
My stance on dams has not changed since May 1, 2004 Before May 1, 2004 I HAD no official â€œstance on damsâ€ and NO thought that I might ever NEED an official dam stance. *sigh* But given that Ihave and stand by my DAM STANCE, ever since Mr. Husband found out what Chuck does for a living, MY aim has been to NOT to go within 30 miles of Canton and, should I fail, and accidentally come within sniffing distance of the dam, to have a flask and stay in the car with Karen playing a drinking game using the plastic travel Scrabble I have stowed under the passenger seat for JUST such an damergency.
At any rate, on Saturday I had scheduled a reading and a signing at a very cool indie that I did not realize was in DANGEROUS DAM PROXIMITY due to my being so GEOGRAPHICALLY INCOMPETENT that I get lost trying to find the little used guest bathroom in my house, and if I were given a MAP to that bathroom, I would actually become actually MORE likely to end up in a toilet free Photomat booth in Cleveland.
My first clue that I was getting within the damâ€™s radius should have been that the bookstore is in CANTON and the DAM is in CANTON. Um, yeah. I KNEW both these facts peripherally, but they managed to wander around in my brain like those not-yet-destioned-to-meet soul mates in Sleepless in Seattle. Maybe they peered across a street at each other, but they did not connect.
MEANWHILE, My husband, who updates my website, realized that I was going to BE at Yawnâ€™s Books and More IN! CANTON! Oh, yes, Magical! Dam-filled! Canton! At a bookstore that was a dogâ€™s butt hair away from GEEK BOY PARADISE, and there was NO reason on earth why Karen and Chuck could not meet us at the bookstore for the reading, and then weâ€™d all caravan up the road three or four miles and Make Him Happy for The Rest of His Life.
Me: Yes! That would be great, but sadly, Chuck died.
Him: *skeptical* When.
Me: Last Tuesday. He was eaten by carnivorous beavers. They infest DAMS you know. Very dangerous to go anywhere NEAR dams. *sorrowful head shaking*
He did NOT buy it, and so I filled the big flask with Dirty Stoli, packed a ziplock with olives, and loaded up the LITTLE flask with arsenic, just in case the Stoli ran out.
THEN CHUCK WAS A TOTAL GENIUS FOREVER!!!!
He said, â€œHey, why donâ€™t you and Karen go to the book event, and she can meet the booksellers and some readers ( Karenâ€™s first book is coming out this summer) and while you guys do that, *I* will take Scott up to the dam and we can take our time without listening to you two pule and bi---I mean, without you two sweet, pretty things being bored by a bunch of hairy sweaty dam talk.â€
SO THE PLAN WAS SETâ€¦and then after book talk and dam talk, we would all four re-meet up and have the Bacchanaliaâ€¦and my time is up â€“ I have to go pack and drive to Oneonta for a lit fest at the library.
GAH I am SO behind. I have things piling up and up to tell you! I will finish this up in ONE thing on Thursday. Pinky (sock) swearsies.