Hey guys â€“ I am in Birmingham with a minor family emergency so will be out of pocket for a few days. Allow Deborah LeBlanc to entertain you in my absence; her latest release is Morbid Curiousity, and tra la la there is a BOOK TRAILER for it! I love watching those dern things---YouTube for Lit Junkies. You watch it by hitting the PLAY button on the very front page of her webpage.
JJ: What do you think of your cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?
DL: I think the cover is perfect for the book. Itâ€™s dramatic, certainly eye-catching, and depicts the contrast between assumption and reality.
JJ: Your main character seems to be nothing like you. After all, your protagonist is a dewy 16, and you are the slightest bit older than thatâ€¦What DO you guys have in common or, if nothing, how'd you manage to inhabit shoes so different from your own?
DL: Although I am way beyond 16, I still remember that horrid age .The societal issues that were relevant then havenâ€™t changed over the years. My biggest challenge was getting the rhythm of the girlsâ€™ language and interaction with friends to ring true. To make that happen, I drilled my three daughters for details. ïŠ
JJ: A lot of writers read this blog how did youâ€¦find an agent?
DL: I found mine by querying 52 agents in the Guide to Literary Agents and Publishers
â€¦ sell that first book?
DL: Let the agent sweat those details. ïŠ
â€¦ come to realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career instead of a personal passion or a hobby.
DL: I do all three, so itâ€™s all good!
JJ: What's a day in your life like?
DL: Out of bed by 5 a.mâ€”inhale coffeeâ€”at the office usually by 6â€”go through emails, check to-do list, take care of the priorities for the dayâ€”and write/research in between.â€”back home around 6, slam dunk dinner, talk to my daughters on the phone to check inâ€¦write until 9 or tenâ€”then collapse in a heap.
JJ: You write page turners with a supernatural edge, and action is your specialtyâ€¦I hear you have trouble with your Joe-Schmoe-makes-breakfast scenes. How do you approach writing about the every day dull stuff that happens between action?
DL: To me, the hardest thing to write is about every day folks because lives can truly be boring. I just have to make sure that average Joe winds up in a not-so-average situation to keep things moving at a good, fast pace.
JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in Louisiana influence your work?'
DL: My Cajun heritage and the culture are so filled with unique folklore and special quirks, itâ€™s easy to make the setting and the people in it colorful.
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?
DL: My books will probably always have a Cajun flair to them. I might be able to set the story in Chicago, but the main character will probably revolve around a Cajun visiting that city.
JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?
DL: I enjoy Jodie Picoultâ€™s work because sheâ€™s remarkable at characterizationâ€”James Lee Burke because his depiction of â€˜Southernâ€ is spot onâ€”and Dean Koontz simply because, to me, he knows how to tell a good story.
JJ: Good choicesâ€¦.I just went on a Picoult backlist marathon--- she had several I had not read and I tore through three in a row. I know you blog both on your own website and on Murder She Writes. Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?
DL: Iâ€™ve been told that readers enjoy insight into the lives of the writers they readâ€¦.so I blogâ€¦but it does sap a lot of energy out of me. Besides, I prefer telling a story over talking about myself any day.
JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?
DL: The title of my books always come to me before the story is fleshed out in my head. In fact, the titles usually help mold the story. We all carry some form of morbid curiosity, (if we didnâ€™t, weâ€™d never have to worry about rubber-neckers at accident scenes!) so I thought it would make for a catchy title.
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?
DL: Was interviewed in a voodoo bar, cameras, lights, makeup, the whole ball of wax, by a television host.
JJ: How did you research the magical systems in your latest release? Books and google? Or did you get hands on?
DL: Most of my research on Chaos Magic and sigils was done over the internet, which in turn led me to people who actually practice it, and I was able to interview them in depth.
JJ: Do you think of yourself as a Southern writer, and what does that MEAN to you?
DL: I think of myself as a Louisiana writer, which is a bit different than being a Southern writer. Cajuns have a different rhythm to their language and lifestyle, in my opinion, than a typical Southerner. You know, now that I think about it, though, I donâ€™t know that there really is a typical Southerner. Folks from Mississippi are certainly different from those in Georgia, and those from Georgia different from folks in Alabamaâ€¦.Youâ€™ve gotta love that great hodge-podge of nuances!
Lordy, but itâ€™s been all trauma and drama around here---yesterday Beautful Maisy who is barely five had her first ever cavity and I concurrently had my 19th nervous breakdown because I am a huge Dentophobe who takes valium and goes on the gas for a CLEANING. I basically have to be force fed heroin and tied down with rope if *I* have a cavity.
SO. Maisy was scared of the nitrous mask, she was scared of the drill, she HATED the novacain part, she screamed and cried and begged OH MOMMY MAKE HIM STOP and I died a thousand deaths and the dentophobe in me went to live as a gibbering shrieking mass at the back of my head, and the middle of my head was full of Feral Mommy, who was HOWLING that we needed to go leaping over the chair to rip out the throat of our perfectly delightful dentist with our teeth, and the FRONT was all Magical Person I Did Not Know Existed, who gently said things like â€œHush, baby, just another minuteâ€ and â€œHold on to my hands, bunny, Mommy is right here,â€ in low and loving dulcet tones, soothing and calm.
Afterward, I drove STRAIGHT to the movie theatre and bought us all tickets for Ratatouille --- the little bits of it I caught seemed SMART and DELIGHTFUL and ENTERTAINING, and THANK GOD, because it completely captured the minds of my children and allowed me to sit in a moist, silently sobbing heap, shaking in delayed reaction as I mentally blessed out all movie theatres for not sensibly having a martini bar next to the popcorn stand.
Weird day. The night before, I was at Karen Abbottâ€™s very grown-up Book Bash for Sin in the Second City with adult beverages and tattooed Jazz Singers and old fashioned Fancy Ladies swaying through the crowd in corsets and enormous feathery hats.
The BOOK BASH is such a GREAT idea. The Chattahoochee Review in conjunction with A Cappella Books and Miller Beer and I BELIEVE the Decatur Book Festival Folks (LOVE THEM!) are involved tooâ€¦.Anyway, they do these things four times a year â€“ a THEME party with music and entertainment centering around a book at an appropriate venue. This time it was at the Highland Inn, the downstairs of which used to OH-SO-Appropriately be a Dime a Dance hall.
The only fly in a perfect evening was the guy they got to do the introâ€¦ honestly it was BIZARREâ€¦ I have met this guy two or three times at a few literati type things around town; he works in the arts with a local college, but Iâ€™m not clear on his actual job. He was supposed to get up first, thank the sponsors, thank everyone for coming, then intro me, and I was then to get up and talk about Karen and the book for two or three minutes, then Karen would go on.
So he gets up, and he goes into this charming little three minute monolog, opening with the info that he has had six beers --- weâ€™ve been there 90 minutes, so I think to myself, â€œUH OH, he must have so much alcohol in his blood that we could use it to sterilize surgical equipment,â€ --- but he isnâ€™t slurring or anything, and he does a good job with the sponsors part, being funny about Miller beer and directing people to the Chattahoochee Review table. THEN he gets to the part where he is supposed to talk about Karen and her book and intro me.
Now, I have my intro PLANNED, but I am pretty flexible, you knowâ€¦I am not sure what he is going to mention. So like, if he tells them Karenâ€™s book debuted at 17 on the NYT extended list, I am going to swap out and say in MY intro that it hit the Book Sense bestseller list in its first week, too. If he talks about the great reviews, Iâ€™m going to talk about the amazing word of mouth â€“ like that.
So he finishes his funny sponsor thanking by directing people to the Chattahoochee review table and then says, â€œAnd at the next table, our good friends at A Cappella Books are selling copies of â€¦â€ and then he kinda falters, and stumbles over his words and says, â€œSex and the Secondâ€¦Sex and the city?â€ And thereâ€™s this AWKWARD pause and someone in the audience calls out, â€œSin in the Second City,â€ and he shrugs and says, â€œWell. Iâ€™m not supposed to intro her, Joshilyn Jackson is doing that, so letâ€™s do that now.â€
And walks off.
Because, first of all, one of the KEY things about doing intros is, you probably need to know THE TITLE OF THE FREAKINâ€™ BOOK. Just a thought.
VERY secondly, itâ€™s not like Iâ€™m CHER, and all he needed to say was, â€œNow CHER will introduce Karen,â€ and expect everyone to go OH! CHER! WE KNOW WHO THAT IS! I WONDER IF HER DRESS WILL LEAVE HER PRACTICALLY NAKED? HA! IT IS CHER! OF COURSE IT WILL!
ALL he had to say was â€œHereâ€™s local novelist Joshilyn Jackson,â€ or even, â€œHereâ€™s a member of Karenâ€™s Writing group,â€ or SOMETHING that gave the crowd a vague idea of why I was standing up there and yapping at them. It was just â€“ ugh. So I went up and the crowd is kinda LOOKING at me, like, â€œUm, who the heck are you again? And why do we have to listen to you? We were hoping for CHER, or at least THE AUTHOR WE CAME TO HEARâ€¦â€ Just a very awful and sick-making feeling.
So I had little jokes and whatnot planned and I could pretty much say my intro exactly as I had planned it since he said NOTHING about the book â€“ including *cough* THE TITLE or THE AUTHORâ€™S NAME. So that was good, and I kept it SHORT and got the HECK out of there, and Karen came on. She has just BLOOMED into a public speaker so quickly â€“ she talks all SMART and FUNNY so they LOVED her and it turned out okay, but MAN.
At first, I wasnâ€™t mad. â€œSix beers!â€ I thought, â€œWell, thatâ€™s unprofessional to get blasted at a book event where you know you have to speakâ€¦so when he blew the title he probably felt like a moron and fled without introing me. I might have too; that must be very flustering. Poor guy.â€ But later he told a friend of mine who was present that he doesnâ€™t actually drink. At all. He hadnâ€™t had six beers. He had had NO beers. The party wore on, and he never came up to Karen and apologized.
I reassessed and decided I was actually enraged.
If he was SOBER, and NOT AT ALL SORRY, then it wasnâ€™t some hammered dude blowing the name of the book and fleeing fast in embarrassment. He was sending a message: I AM HOSTING THIS PARTY AND THANKING THE SPONSORS AND THE PARTY MAY BE NOMINALLY FOR SOME GIRL WHO WROTE SOME DUMB BOOK BUT LETS NOT FORGET WHO IS IMPORTANT HERE: ME. OH, AND THE SPONSORS. If he was sober, then the only point was to make us feel small.
I didnâ€™t really need his help.
I AM small.
I know I am small.
Karen didnâ€™t need his help, either. She knows she is small, too.
You want to see big? Let me introduce you to GHANDI. See also, Mother Theresa, President Lincoln, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, King Tut, and Jerry Bruckheimer. You want to just look at publishing? J.K Rowlingâ€¦thatâ€™s big.
I donâ€™t even matter in this equation because, you know, I was just there to celebrate the much deserved success of one of my closest friends and have a little sip of free wine and have fun. So, whatever, I had an awkward 30 seconds. I have recovered. But I canâ€™t stop being mad about the TITLE thing. Even though I think Karenâ€™s going to have a tremendously successful career, and even though she began her career as a published author beautifully, the book came out two weeks ago. So she doesnâ€™t need HELP to feel small and lost or new and skinless.
I do know that in the grand scheme of things EVERYONE is small. Look at the freakinâ€™ night sky and consider time and history, and even the unbreakable Harry Potter gets specklike. BUT! There are nights â€“ for ALL of us --- when we should GET to be made a fuss of, when we should GET to be the princess and be toasted and feted and made much of.
Your birthday, for example.
Your golden anniversary.
Or your book launch party in your hometown.
Oh well--- nothing to be done. There are people like that all over the world---who just HAVE to put dog poo in your soup to make themselves feel better. If I WAS J.K. Rowling, I would write the organizers and sponsors and thank them for what was otherwise a STELLAR event, but suggest that they get someone to do the intros who can get over himself long enough to correctly say the bookâ€™s title. But Iâ€™m small, as I have recently been reminded, so I wonâ€™t. KAREN canâ€™t either, because she doesnâ€™t want to complain to people who went SO far to launch her properly here at home in Atlanta and who, one ugly 20 seconds aside, did a superlative job.
But, you know, in the same way I tend to remember the one crit in a rave review while forgetting the good parts, in the same way a friend once told me she remembers the shirt she wore and what she was eating for breakfast on the one morning her mother lost it and called her stupid while she can't recall the specifics of a single one of the thousand times her mom said she was lovely, smart, talented, good---I suspect that 20 seconds is going to stick with me. Most likely in my craw. It is, after all, what I found myself blogging about this morning.
FIRST! Karenâ€™s party tonight starts at EIGHT PM, not seven. Her website says seven but this is because, and here I quote her, â€œI am on crack.â€
You are still invited. There will be a band. And a bar. So. I plan to be there for perhaps DAYS. It is at the
Highland Inn Ballroom
644 North Highland Ave.
So remember the blog entry about how allva sudden I am this HUGE consumer wanting to BUY OBJECTS? Yeah. After reading that entry, my friend Kym sent me this amusing bit of wisdom from Toothpaste for Dinner:
I thought that was funny on top, but under the funny, I thought to myself, why, thatâ€™s REALLY smart! I should TAKE that advice. And NOT buy crap.
And I am going to take that advice, any second. But while I was THINKING about the best way to implement my new toothpaste for dinner inspired NO CRAP policy, I accidentally bought the object below. And the decorative rod and chocolate brown sheers you see behind said object? I accidentally bought those too. And I bought THREE GALLONS of Behr paint (you an see a couple of them on that french sideboardy thing) because it took FOUR BACKBREAKING COATS to cover the DEEP DARK MOSSY GREEN that was in Samâ€™s room when we bought the house.
(For those of you â€“ I suspect about 99.9% --- who are saying, OMG! Is that color called Traffic Cone Orange? WHY did you cover perfectly non-painful moss green with THAT??? I direct your attention to the end note.)
And then I had to buy MORE Behr ---ironically? In a DEEP DARK MOSSY GREEN, and paint a wall of his NEW BIG ALL THE WAY DOWN THE HALL room, formerly the guestroom/playroom.
And then, as you see above, with his new room, he wanted GROWN UP MANLY ROOM THINGS, aka bedding sans bears and mooses, so I went to Want Not who directed me to a place to buy the above bedding, which I SUPPOSE is technically MORE CRAP, but see, I got the bedding for about 1/3rd of what it cost at my local Bed, Bath And Beyond Pricey, so REALLY, as my friend Jill pointed out, I SAVED more than I ended up spending, and hey! Maybe I need to go back and read that cartoon again because I think I may have missed something? Like, say, THE POINT?
END NOTE: The new guestroom/elliptical room is MUCH prettier than it appears in this picture. It is sort of a DEEP pumpkin soup color, very BROWN and RICH and SMOOTH and SOOTHING in real life, and not at ALL the color of DANGER. I showed a pic of the whole room to Mir and said the paint color was about 50 shades different from how it appears in the shot.
Mir said, â€œYeah ugh â€“ it is a BAD picture. I canâ€™t tell much about the room at all. It looks almost as if you took the pic with a cell phone.â€
And I said, â€œâ€¦â€
And she said, â€œHAHAHAHHAâ€
Which translated means I need to buy a REAL digital camera but of course, I am not buying CRAP, remember?
Also, ahem, I HAVE a real digital camera.
I just canâ€™t work it.
Sorry about your eyes.
Alas! Once again JOSHES are infesting the commentsâ€¦One person Joshes and then another and then the Joshes proliferate, until I have to say my standard disclaimer and EVERY TIME I say it I feel like a hypersensitive jerk, but it bugs me too much to let it goâ€¦so forgive me for minding, and here we go:
Even though my name is spelled "Joshilyn," it is pronounced "Joss-a-lyn," just like the French name Jocelyn. Weird, I know. Why? No idea. I can give you my mother's phone number and you can ask her; I have never gotten a straight answer.
I don't mind when people mispronounce my full name as â€œJosh-a-lynâ€ -- how would they know? Because my name is on a website, and, you know, some BOOKS, most people SEE my name before they hear it. But I TRULY do not like being called Josh, either in print or out loud. It makes me feel like I have excessively hairy forearms and a Y chromosome. The short version of my name that my husband and friends use is "Joss.â€
End standard disclaimer.
So, local beloveds, what are you doing WEDNESDAY?
Me, I will be at
Highland Inn Ballroom
644 North Highland Ave.
Where A Cappella Books is hosting a Ballroom Book Bash for my friend and writing group homey Karen Abbott to celebrate the RAWTHER fabulous launch of her first book, Sin in the Second City which is both getting rave reviews EVERY place and, well, if we wish to be VULGAR and discuss commerce, I will say, just between you and me, it is REALLY taking off. Who is surprised? Not me, itâ€™s an amazing book.
I have the extreme privilege of introducing her at the bash, which means I have to figure out exactly WHICH of my hugely embarrassing Karen stories I want to trot out right before she has to do some public speakingâ€¦
If you want to know a bit more before you COMMIT yourself to a Wednesday evening out, you can go listen to Karen discussing hookers and politics (and how's THAT for two things that go together like Twinkies and cream filling???) on NPRâ€™s morning edition...
Man, I have enjoyed reading the *&^@&^!(^#@ ing comments. You guys are fart and sunny, as my California homegirls say to mean Smart and Funny. Note to rereaders: If you search gods in Alabama for bathroom lovinâ€™ you are doomed to disappointment. That happens in Between.
HEY! Did you see on WOOT.com
they are having a WOOT OFF? ïƒŸ-if you do not know what this means then you do not know Scottâ€™s SECOND favorite blog. *cough* Every day a new DEAL is up. We got a BLUE tooth from them and a portable 2 screened DVD thing that we use to keep from eating the children on long car trips. Good deals, there on the woot. A WOOT off is where they put up a FEW of something for very little money, and as soon as they all sell, they put up a few of something else.
LAST NIGHT!....Did you see that one the deals was a refurbed DYSON for 259 bucks + 5 bucks shipping? Did you see that by the time I finished waffling and said YES YES DO IT I WANT ONE and Scott clicked the â€œI want oneâ€ button that they were ALL GONE and that I missed a half price Dyson by about 4 seconds? Did you then see me STOMP AROUND and USE many of Very Bad Words we discussed on Wednesday? If the answer to all these questions is YES, then A) you are creepy and b) please come get all the hidden cameras out of my house.
The goodish-bad news is NOW I can NEVER buy a Dyson for MORE than 265 bucks, or I will feel CHEATED. SO! Perhaps that will abate my avarice. A little.
BUT WAIT! Julie Kenner is back to talk about the latest in her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series? YAY. I am pleased about that because I think sheâ€™s fart and sunny, just like you. I took one of her books in my BAG OF READING PLEASURES to the beach last year and QUITE enjoyed it. Itâ€™s Bufferiffic fun, this series, and the third one, DEMONS ARE FOREVER just launched.
JJ: What's a day in your life like?
JK: My schedule has changed dramatically over the years. At first, I was practicing law while writing and my husband was in grad school. We would both come home from work/school and write/study. Worked great :)
Then I had a baby, and life got hectic. I wrote in the evenings after she went to sleep until I could afford to quit and write full time. Then I had her in day care and would write during the day.
She has turned 5 and is in school now, but since we homeschool, sheâ€™s home with me during the day, and so is her sister, who we adopted at age three last October. So now I have two kids at home with me doing school (or preK play) during what used to be my writing time. So Iâ€™m back to writing in the evenings and squeezing it in.
Right now, a day might be:
7:30 â€” get up and veg in the recliner while the girls watch Curious George.
8:00 â€“ noonish â€” school with the oldest while the littlest does â€œplay schoolâ€ and some speech and sign language games.
noon-1 â€” lunch, and Iâ€™ll usually answer emails while they eat
1-2 â€“ any school we havenâ€™t finished
2-5 â€“ they play, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with me. I try to do non-writing writing stuff (emails, mailings, etc.). Or errands.
5-6 â€“ daddy time. I write
Family time until their bedtime.
9-whenever. My writing time.
When Iâ€™m on a crazy deadline (like last week) going to bed at 2-3 is common. And I often will beg my mom to come over around lunch time once or twice a week to play with the girls so those afternoon hours can be writing time.
During those weeks we squeeze in karate, piano and speech therapy for the little one!
Itâ€™s insane, but Iâ€™m loving it.
JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?
JK: Stephen King â€” for his amazing stories, intricate plotting, and oh-so-real characters
Edward Eager â€” for showing magic in the â€œrealâ€ world
Madeline Lâ€™Engle â€” for strong characters in amazing realities that made me think
JJ: Your demon series is shelved as fantasy , but it has elements of mommy lit and romance and mystery. Can you explain how having a sort of HYBRID of genres helped or hurt you as you tried to market your book?
JK: Actually, I was extremely nervous when I learned it was going to be sold in as fantasy rather than as fiction. I called my editor in a panic, and was terrified that my readers wouldnâ€™t find me. As it turns out, it was a brilliant marketing plan because the book has done well and found its audience, which keeps on growing. The romance readers have found the series (the 2nd book is currently up for a RITA award, the highest award in romance publishing) and I have gained a ton of readers (including many men) who might not have given the book a chance. The book has more of a chance to stand out (fewer â€œfantasyâ€ books each month than â€œfictionâ€) and that bodes well for hitting lists, etc. So rather than a limitation, I think the placement has been beneficial. Marketing knows what theyâ€™re doing!! Also, Iâ€™ve done a few mystery cons, romance cons, and fantasy cons. The hybrid nature of the book has opened up the ways I can get my name out there. All good :)
Thanks Julie â€“ always a pleasure to have you!
Lastly, AND BRACE YOURSELVES oh Best of my Best Beloveds, those regs who know me well, because I am about to say something you will find shockingâ€¦
I like a song.
Yes. A song.
It is a song made primarily up of MUSIC, and I LIKE it.
It is called FLATHEAD and it is by this band called something like The Fratellis that sounds like what would happen if the Pogues and the Clash had an angry baby.
Also by them, I like a song called the Gutterati? That there is no decent video to and which I canâ€™t find a listen link to, but it is AWESOME.
So, dude, PUNKISHNESS is back? And no one TOLD me?
Discovering FLATHEAD led me to listen to more repunkers, and NOWâ€¦.I like a WHOLE BAND. YES! AN ENTIRE BAND THAT IS CHOCK FULL OF SONGS!
They are called The White Stripes.
I like ALL their songs and I like how they SOUND and when I hear a song BY them I go, â€œIs that the White Stripes?â€ because I like them enough to recognize what they sound like. This is not UNprecedented, but it is ONE-precedented. I have not liked a whole band and all their songs and their sound since the late 80â€™s when I found Indigo Girls.
I a terrified that I may be experiencing personal growth.
I will work hard to bud nip it, never fear.
I got a weird mail yesterday, weird in TONE, from a person with a gender neutral name, asking me why this blog almost NEVER has cussing in it, and when it does the entries title WARNS that bad language is about to ensue, and YET in gods in Alabama I felt a need to allow a TEEMING PLETHORA of double-plus naughty words to BREED and infest every chapter (I may be paraphrasing, rather than quoting here..) and yet the language in Between is only NAUGHTI-ESQUE, becoming FULL ON offensive only a couple of times, and then Person said he-or-she loved the books but wished I would eat soap and BY THE WAY, while Person was at it, decorum insisted that Person SHOULD pause to mention that especially considering the MILDER vocabulary, the SEX in Between was a wee bit on the GRAPHIC side, and did he-or-she-the-reader really need THAT level of detail about What Sometimes Happens Between Married People In The Bathroom? (Answer: Yes.)
Person and I back and forthed in email for a little, had a civil and very interesting talk, and I asked permission to blog about it. Person was fine with it. So.
I feel a blend of pleased and mildly exasperated. Itâ€™s as if a drive by shooter came and blasted away at a butt ugly flower pot that I had long been meaning to throw away and then sprayed an extra four bullets into my dead azalea bush before zooming off. Because, on the one hand, she (letâ€™s make Person a she so I can quit with the hyphens) bought the books. Both of â€˜em. Even after ONE had offended her, she found enough in there to love to buy the other. So. My first reaction is, ISNâ€™T SHE PRETTY????? And then my second is, PERSON! THANK YOU, but if it bothers you that much, why are you READING it? I think I must feelâ€¦Pleasasperated?
I mean, far be it from me to discourage anyone from reading my books. I think EVERYONE IN AMERICA should read my books, and then buy gift copies for all their European friends. I donâ€™t want to lose sight of that as I address her concerns here. PERSON BOUGHT MY BOOKS. I LOVE PERSON. FOREVER. THE END. But itâ€™s VERY hard (impossible, actually, because here I am, saying it) to not say to her, â€œPERSON! When the first sentence of a book is, â€˜There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniels, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.â€™donâ€™t you think you should maybe feel a mild frisson of precognitive warning that this is not going to be a particularly sugar-mouthed narrator?â€ ESPECIALLY given that Person IS the sort of person who doesnâ€™t like to look at the letters BEE EYE GEE TEE EYE TEE ESS in conjunction with each other?
As for meâ€¦cussing? I donâ€™t believe in it. I mean, I do not believe there is ANY SUCH THING. A word is a word is a word. I do not think there are any words that should be taboo. I have a wide vocabulary that can alternately make my SAT coach from 11th grade or a drunk sailor on leave sit up a little straighter, clearly impressed.
And I donâ€™t think cussing is the sign of a poor vocabulary. Knowing only one word for vomit, say, is a sign of a poor vocabulary. Or not knowing what a prestidigitator is, this is a sign. Knowing cusses is just knowing more words. More words = more nuances of meaning so you can more accurately shade a sentence to express a thought.
I donâ€™t think any combination of letters can BE intrinsically BAD or GOOD. A word is either appropriate for the moment and the company, or not appropriate. Any word can be USED for good or ill (both Pol Pot and Ghandi frequently employed â€œandâ€ for example) but the word itself is inert and blameless.
While I have NEVER been one to accept situational morality, I AM, I confess, a situational LINGUIST. If you are alone in your garage and you bang your thumb with a hammer, there is only ONE word that EXACTLY expresses the moment, and it starts with an SH and ends in a gender-neutral pronoun. If you bang your same thumb with same hammer in front of my five year old daughter, then you better suck it up and say, â€œOH! POO! OH! OH! BIG POO!â€
I have WEIRD ideas about propriety, BUT I try to ERR on the side of MANNERS. If a word MIGHT offend someone present, I think you choose not to say it. Period. My right to use the Very Bad F Word with mad abandon ends where the hearing range of the rigorous Catholic ears of your delightful granny begins. I think you donâ€™t tell someone to grow up and get over it. You respect their sensibilities, and you choose another bleeping word. If you donâ€™t, then I think you are a boor.
Also, you donâ€™t cuss in front of kids because people my daughterâ€™s age are not yet capable of making decisions about WHEN it is appropriate to use particular words. As soon as she is capable of making those distinctions for a word, she can use that word. For example, the VERY bad Eff Wordâ€¦if she thinks it is EVER even REMOTELY appropriate for it to come out of her cupidâ€™s bow mouth in the range of MY hearing, she is not ready. Saying The Very Bad Eff Word in front of your own personal mother is poor choice and can only end in weeping, heartfelt repentance and a mouth full of Zest.
Right now, ten year old Sam and I are negotiating for use of the word â€œCrap.â€
Sam: *drops his Yu-Gi-Oh cards* Crap.
Me: You canâ€™t say crap.
Sam: Is it a bad word? Because you say it, Mom, alla time.
Me: Crap is not a â€œbad word.â€ You can say it secretly in your room alone NOW. You can say it in front of me when you are 13. Also, you canâ€™t say WHAT THE---- and then stop. It doesnâ€™t sound NICE. You can say What the heckee, if you like, or you can say Great Googley Moogley. Yes. Say that.
Sam: Mom. I am NOT going to say Great Googley Moogley.
Me: Fine. But you canâ€™t say crap.
Sam: What does the word Sexy mean?
Me: HEY! LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY!
No, actually, I explained what SEXY means and we negotiated terms for when it is an appropriate word for him to say. I was going for â€œSexy may be used by Sam when he is over 35, assuming he is married, and assuming he is speaking to his wife, and assuming his mother is dead.â€ He negotiated me down quite a bit from that stance, so that he is allowed to sing the RIGHT SAID FRED song, but NOT allowed to refer to GIRLS, even ANIME ones, as sexy. Because it is not appropriate. AND ALSO because he will be sued for sexual harassment.
NOW this is all SPOKEN word stuff.
In a book, I think I am free to use whatever word best suits the moment. My books have covers that you must exercise free will in order to open, and they are shelved with the adult books at your friendly neighborhood lit-vendor. I use whatever word is needed for the sentence to do its job. Arlene? She had a MOUTH on her ---- Iâ€™ve talked about that on this blog before, why it was important on several levels to let Arlene talk that way.
In Between, Nonny Jane had a HUGELY different vocab from Arlene. Not just on the level of CUSSING; Nonny was not as educated (or as sophisticated, or as jaded) as Arlene, and her word choices reflect that. THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING is written in directed third person, so there is LITTLE bad language in the text, but in the dialog everyone talks like they would talk. Some of the characters *cough* Thalia *cough* are not, shall we say, mouth-nuns.
Here on the net, I am more circumspect. I know there are people who come to this blog who would find the language in my books harsh and troubling, and since this is ME talking, not a character, I curb any tendency to be foul-mou----foul fingered?? or I warn you in the title that the vocab, she is going to get a leetle bit racy. Also, my OWN personal mother reads FTK, and remember the rule about F words and mothers? I donâ€™t need any Zest and repentance today, thanks.
So what do you think I should say to my gentle-eared reader and others like her who ask me these things?
I am inclined toward something like this:
THANK YOU FOR BUYING MY BOOKS. I HEART YOU! LETâ€™S BE BFF! PLEASE BUY THE NEXT ONE TOO, WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IT MIGHT HAVE A SMALL BUCKET OF CUSS IN IT! ALSO A SMATTERING OF NAUGHTY MARRIED LOVE STUFF. XXOXOXOOX
And leave it at that.
But I would like to hear yaâ€™lls opinions on wayward language. Are some words just BAD words? Should all words be useable in all places? Where are your lines? Is erring on the side of good manners prudent? Or merely prudish?
Seriously, I want to KNOW. I found your capitalist pig suggestions to be hugely helpful in deciding what avaricious acquisitions to give in to (TOWELS? Put on the Christmas list!!!! Elliptical---BUY IMMEDIATELY BEFORE MY BUTT INVADES FRANCE! Bedroom Furniture â€“ tabled for further discussion! IPOD â€“ Dude, I donâ€™t like SONGS. What was I THINKING! Dyson? Watching Want Not for a link to a deal on a refurbished purple monster!) so Iâ€™d like to hear you chime in on this issue.
Remember Tanya Lee Stone? She is the author of more than 80 books for young readers. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl is her first Young Adult novel. She has a degree in English from Oberlin College and a Master in Education degree from Southern CT State University. In addition to her books, publication credits include VOYA and the New York Times. She loves chocolate-covered pretzels and Wild Berry Skittles. She hates the word tasty.
Iâ€™m okay with Tasty if the person using it is being all ironical OR if they are referring to Tasty Freeze. Otherwise, yah, itâ€™s a pretty hateful sounding word. Almost as bad as â€œTender.â€ I VIOLENTLY despise the word â€œTender.â€ In sounds so PINCHY and moist. WHOOPS â€“ digressed. Back to my guestâ€¦
Library Journal says, in a starred review, "This is not a book that will sit quietly on any shelf; it will be passed from girl to girl to girl."
Tanya blogs here if you want to get to know her better, or you can just read what she has to say below.
JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?
TLS: That title hit me in a flash. I was listening to a speaker talk about submissions for an anthology and the two themes were bad boys and good girls. I smiled to myself and scribbled in my notebook: a bad boy can be good for a girl. As soon as I saw what I had written, I knew I was going to have a lot to say about the negative experiences girls go through when they start dating seriously, and how we all learn so much from every experience we have--both good and bad.
JJ: I hate writing love scenes. I get embarrassed, even when I KNOW the way the sex stuff plays out is thematically important.....I hear you didn't have trouble. How did you approach them?
TLS: This is the only time I've written sex scenes, but they are obviously necessary because of what the book is about. I think my readers would have been pretty ticked at me if I had turned out the lights every time the bad boy got in a clinch with one of my girls. So I put myself in the character's place and concentrated mostly on what she was thinking or feeling in relation to the scene? Was she excited, nervous, afraid, hesitant--was she stalling â€¦or what was going through her head and where was she going to take us with this bad boy. For me, that process put the focus on the emotional lives of the girls--which is really the main thrust of the book.
JJ: Tell us about the bad boys in your past.
TLS: I didn't have many, but a few was too much! I was always pretty self-assured when I was young. I knew who I was, and I wasn't easily rattled. But I wasn't immune to being dumped on. I don't think anyone really is. There were times when I let someone who dazzled me treat me in ways that didn't feel right--or that downright hurt. And afterwards I would think, "Why did I let him do that?" I think we all go through that to some extent.
So when I started writing the book, I found there were little pieces of me in each girl--Josie and I share a sense of self-confidence, Nicolette and I shared (I'm long over it now, thank goodness) the idea that if you were strong you couldn't get hurt, and Aviva and I share the artsy, cool-with-being-in-the-fringe thing. So, each girl is her own unique person but reflects a little piece of me--and pieces of my readers. I get lots of email from girls who relate to one character in particular, but more often they see parts of themselves in all the girls. I love that!
BY THE WAY, thanks SO MANY for all your product recs in the comments. WAY TO ENCOURAGE ME TO BUY A BUNCHA CRAP! YAY! I am now so SERIOUSLY tempted by the Dyson it is GROSS. My husband is ready to murder you all in your beds for telling me I NEEEEEEEEEEEED it. AND!!! I didnâ€™t even show you the E ticket attraction I want to buy.
Out in GORGEOUS TREE AND GOAT FILLED UNSPOILED LOVELY WINDER Georgia, a place that still has loose chickens roaming by the roadside and NO McMansions, and VERY few housing development signs and, my friends, you can get a WONDERFUL latte at a locally owned coffee place but you cannot yet â€œeat good in the neighborhood,â€ if you follow me, I saw this house:
I LOVE it. I WANT it. It was built in 1902, it is in the MIDDLE of downtown Winder â€“ you can WALK to their FABULOUS library and the coffee house and a good diner and a drugstore and a hardware store and anyplace else worth walking too and it has ALL the original ART GLASS in the windows and it has a bare lot next door that comes with and a CARRIAGE HOUSE that I could make into my OFFICE! (!!!!!!)
It is in WINDER which means Scott would have to drive over an HOUR to work. Heh. So, NO.
Also it is zoned commercial, so it is 350K. *GACK* Also, NO.
DOUBLE also, no one has PAINTED IT or fixed the roof or the foundation a since, oh, I would say 1908, so it needs another 350K of work. *GACKETTY GACK GACK* NO NO NO.
It is an IMPOSSIBLE thing to have or even WANT. Look up close you can see it is about to fall into the ground.
But I love it.
SEE THE LION???? Thereâ€™s another on the other side. FLANKING lions! Ohhhhh! I HEART stone lions and also, I am pretty sure they are a SIGN --- there is a sentence in THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMINGâ€¦..
[She likes the house with the] sleepy stone lions flanking the walkway. They donâ€™t look much like guardians; these are library lions, lollers and slackers. Shelby has named them Lawrence and Miss Iris.
You see? That house wants to be my house. AND OKAY, GRANTED, I need a cool half a mil sitting around in my checking account to buy it and rehab it. I am NOT going a half mil into debt, for the love of Peter Rabbitâ€¦ BUT if I DID buy it, it would really SAVE us money in the end. Donâ€™t you think? Because all floors are hardwoods. So. I wouldnâ€™t need the DYSON. *grin*
I always say I am not a THING person.
I am an EXPERIENCE person, I say.
Historically, this has been true.
By EXPERIENCE PERSON, I mean that if I had an enormous pile of completely disposable income, I would rather spend it on plane tickets and hotels and go to Japan (and see medieval swords!!!) and Australia (and see MARSUPIALS!!!!) than get a fancy carâ€¦
But just NOW, alluvva sudden, there is all this STUFF I suddenly WANT. Itâ€™s weird. I never want things. And everything I want costs REALLY a lot. And some of it is IRRATIONAL.
For example? I am coveting a DYSON vacuum cleaner. I think itâ€™s the memory of that British guy from the old commercials. Mr. Dyson? Whatever. Heâ€™s just soâ€¦HOT when he says, â€œI just want things to work properly.â€ It has stuck with me.
Now, in a rush of BRITOPHILIA, I find I desperately LONG to buy his vacuum. I have a friend with one, and she says it sucks up such a STARTLING and HORRIFYING amount of pet hair. She is not sure it is POSSIBLE that she actually has that much pet hair in her carpet, and suspects that somewhere in the Dysonâ€™s bowels is a PET HAIR MANUFACTURING THING that creates pet hair out of air molecules so it LOOKS like fully ten pounds of the stuff has accumulated in the 5 days since she last ran it around the room.
If I had one, I am thinking I could vacuum up enough pet hair out of the carpet to make me a better cat than the one I have who just marched up and screamed at me---SCREAMED, like a HARPY --- that his CUSS CUSS PET FOOD DISH WAS CUSS CUSS EMPTY and when I ignored him and kept typing this, he bit my ankle.
I said I needed a Dyson to my Dyson owning friend and she ROLLED HER EYES and said, â€œYOU HAVE A CLEANING SERVICE! I have never once seen you vacuum ANYTHING. Do you even know how to TURN YOUR CURRENT VACUUM ON???â€
So thereâ€™s that on the con side.
But still. I just like things to work properly.
Also, I want an elliptical machine because I have returned home from the beach with a butt SO enormous and rowdy that it is trying to take over and rule America. Granted, when I consider the wide and horror-inspiring field of criminals who are vying to become presidential candidates, this might be a good thingâ€¦.GACK! My butt just made me say something POLITICAL! Non partisan, BUT STILL. Politics! You may now take me out back and shoot meâ€¦You see? My butt is gaining too much weighty power over me. It must be destroyed. Via an ELIPTICAL.
I thought I hated elipticals because the first time I tried to use one, it got away from me and tossed me off sideways and I ruptured myself. It felt like trying to ride the horrid mutated thing that would happen if a mechanical bull and an escalator had a baby. â€¦ but the gym I was using at the beach had this CUTE squatty looking one, and one day all the treadmills were in use, so I GINGERLY crept up onto it and paddled my feet at it while clutching fearfully at the handles.
I GOT it this time. I LOVED it. It was so GLIDEY! And VIGOROUS! And so NOT PAINFUL. I do step about 6 times a week and it wrecks havoc on my back and knees which I ruint in my girlhood by insisting on falling off horses.
Um yeah. Pretty, huh? Itâ€™s also â€“ brace yerself Bridget â€“ TWO FREAKIN THOUSAND THREE FREAKING HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE COMEPLETELY FREAKIN OUT DOLLARS. And that is on MONSTER SALEâ€¦.retail is over 3K.
Sara says for that amount of money, the stupid thing better be able to RUN the Dyson vacuum.I say it CAN, prolly. For that amount, it can probably also act as a pool boy and do acupuncture. Heck, it probably has a SOUL.
At any rate, I donâ€™t HAVE a pool, so I went to Sears and test drove NORDICTRACKS today and will probably try to content my avaricious self with one of themâ€¦oh but, see the OCTANE? It WORKS PROPERLY.
And you know I just want things to work properly.
ALSO, today I SUDDENLY wanted bedroom furniture. Scott and I have been married 13 years without benefit of bedroom furniture, and it never bothered me BEFORE. We sleep in the metal under frame that came free with our mattress---no bed --- and store our socks in his gramma's dresser and my motherâ€™s abandoned chest of drawers. Against the last wall is a blue shelf unit Scott made to hold videos. It tipped over and resting against the wall. I use it to hang my work out clothes on, as it is TIPPED too far for the shelves to be utilized. Our room is VERY VERY sad. It looks like a college DORM room. That has recently been raided by monkeys. Drunk ones. Never have I cared before. NOW! I need a hardwood cherry sleigh bed. OH YES I DO. And a dresser and wardrobe --- and understand this is a RADICAL concept for my entire house--- with THE SAME FINISH.
ALSO I WANT AN IPOD.
ALSO I WANT NEW TOWELS.
AND A FISH POND.
AND A PRIUS.
AND A THIGH MASTER AND A CUNNING LITTLE MONKEY IN A HAT WHO DANCES TO ALL THE WHITE STRIPE CDâ€™s I WANT.
You see how it is? I think maybe every television ad I have ever seen started working. AT ONCE.
Still, I am not buying these things. I am just wanting to. It is SO sad. I am not even a capitalist pig...I'm a capitalist pig WANNABE.
I think I will buy JUST a small wee little Nordictrack that costs like 20% of what the Octane would cost.And a lotto ticket.
I left the beach and drove over to Foley last night for a library eventâ€¦SO super fun. They made BETWEEN the county-wide read for the adult summer program, and so this was a party with chicken salad finger sandwiches and cookies and drawings for door prizes. Foley library has a new events room, but they gave out free tickets for the event to make sure we would fitâ€¦and we didnâ€™t. They finally printed up more tickets and moved us next door to the civic center. It was REALLY cool.
I was HOPING to get to see my devil friend, Frank Turner Hollon. Alas, when he is not writing mindblowingly excellent books, heâ€™s the prosecutor for ..I think WALTON county? And yesterday was a court day, when, I assume, he prosecuted ALL the crime that happened in Walton from February 11th, 2003 to the present. That took up most of the afternoon. He came over to the Foley Library on his dinner break, but before I arrived he had to go back for the evening session to try and put away Waltonâ€™s lone prostitute.
When he got to the library, he saw this parked outside:
So, being HIM, he went in and told the librarians that this van had been seen at my events before---that this radical group often showed up to protest my heathenism and rampant potty mouth. By the time I arrived, the librarians had the police on speed dial and were ready to rumble. I went up to the podium to speak and saw his business card sitting there with a note on the back that said, â€œI bet now you wish youâ€™d worn a bra.â€
HE IS A DEVIL.
But my favorite devil.
Another neat thing---this woman (weâ€™ll let her remain anonymous but she had a GORGEOUS Welsh name) came up and got BETWEEN and I signed it for her and she seemed kinda --- quiet orâ€¦she wouldnâ€™t meet my eyes. It was a slightly odd vibe. She had a hardback copy of gods in Alabama in her hands that she had brought from home, but she didnâ€™t give it to me to sign. I meant to ask her if she wanted me to, but there was a bit of a crush and right after I signed Between for her, she left the table. Fast.
After the crowd died down, she came back, blushing, and held out the copy of gods to me and said, â€œMy husband says I have to get you to sign this one, too, even though I didnâ€™t get it here. Is that okay?â€™
â€œOf course!â€ I said.
â€œItâ€™s funny --- I wanted to check one of your books out of the library because you were coming, but because of the county wide read program theyâ€™ve all been checked out and thereâ€™s a wait list for them. But I was not going to buy your books. I was so sure I would completely hate them. Then I saw this one at the Salvation Army for 50 cents so I got it, and once I started I couldnâ€™t stop reading it until I was finished. I loved it.â€
I started giggling â€“ thatâ€™s JUST so COOL, and now, see she has Between and it just made me feel good down to my shoes. I wanted to ask her why she thought she would hate them, but once again she escaped almost immediately.
It was a neat moment, though.
so far this beach week I have read and heartily recommend:
Keeping Faith Jodi Picoult
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
SO on the way down to the beach I was reading Marisa de los Santosâ€™ latest (You canâ€™t read it yet---so sorry, wonâ€™t be out for months. I am reading for an early blurb. And when I say SO SORRY, I MEAN I really AM so sorryyou cannot read it now because it is fantastic. I spent the whole trip laughing out loud because she is SO sly and adroit and then shaking my head because she is also so DEFT with language and then the story would catch me off guard and Iâ€™d find myself misting up... Right about the middle I found myself full on weeping, tears streaming around the release of great hiccupping gulping sobs, and Scott said, â€œBaby. You know these people arenâ€™t real, right?â€ And I said, â€œIâ€™m not crying because itâ€™s real. Iâ€™m crying because itâ€™s true.â€)
Anyway, I could NOT stop reading it on Friday. Could NOT put it down, even though we were in the car and it started to get so DARK around 8 PM that I practically had the page pressed to my nose to make out the words. I opened the visor and flipped open the light up make-up mirror flap and read by the light of that. We spentFriday night at Scottâ€™s momâ€™s house, and by then I had finished itâ€¦so before we even ARRIVED at the beach house, we had to stop at a bookstore and get me more crack. I mean, novels.
Scott got the first in C. S. Lewisâ€™ sci fi trilogy and I grabbed a couple of Jodi Picoults off a huge display because I couldnâ€™t pick between two and the way I read, Iâ€™ll prolly be heading back to a bookstore on Tuesdayâ€¦Anyway, we used an awesome search feature on SYLVIA (my GPS system is named Sylvia) to ask her to find us a close bookstore.
It was a Books-a-Million---yay!---- and if you wonder why I like BAM so much, LOOK what I found on their paperback bestsellers display:
WHEEE! I sent the pic to Sara and told her our books were snuggled up so cosy I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if we ended up with a host of BABY books.
PS EDIT: I went back Saturday and Sara had moved to one and I had moved to 2. LA LA LA.
Anyway, it was a GOOD and cheerful note to begin a vacation, knowing BETWEEN is doing well, and almost makes up for the fact that here on DAY ONE I managed to burn myself to a mild pink crisp EVEN THOUGH I re-applied sunscreen THREE FREAKING TIMES.
Sucks to be Irish. We are a Bog people. My CAT has more melatoninâ€¦
I hope you had a HAPPY FOURTH! As some of you clever commenters noted, one of Gilbert Kingâ€™s new color author photos is up. This is not the one that will be on the bio page in the end, I do not THINK, and definitely not the one that will be on TGWSS. It is, however the one that will be on the ARC of TGWSS. Itâ€™s the sample he sent me while the others are being finished. But I put it up anyway because it is a HUGE improvement over the old one, which made me look like I wanted to sell you a condo.
Tomorrow, my ragged lot leaves for a week at the beach with my parents and my brother and his clan. I shall post sporadically. Which will make next week just like every week, bloggily speaking, so whyâ€™d I even bring it up?
After I spent my WHOLE last blog entry hating on Powder Springs, the town responded by being SO adorable and perfect and great that I felt as low and yicketty as the accumulated sock scum of a thousand nasty troll feet. Our townâ€™s 4th of July celebration was last night. Herds of darling little families, some friends, some strangers, showed up in Old Navy 5 dollar flag T-shirts to eat hot dogs and do the chicken dance on the town square. Both my old dear friend Amy Go and Mir
came to town for it, all of us toting our loin spawns and some husbands for good measure, and we met up with my friend Julie's family to put out our blankets and folding louges on the grass around the center fountain.
A band played Mustang Sally and Brown Eyed Girl in the gazebo and there were inflatable slides and jumping castles and a dunking booth and another booth where teenage girls used fuzzy wire and glow sticks to make little girlâ€™s hair into light up red white and blue beribboned head-splosions. Every other family brought their stupid dog, and I had to stop and pat them all, including a 12 week old Bassett puppy with ears that dragged the ground and that clean baby smell to his breath.
The Baptists lined the streets in green T-shirts, handing out bottles of ice cold water, and every other child had a blue tongue from the cotton candy. Last year, the menâ€™s club at our church had a Fried Pickle booth â€“ DO NOT MOCK IT TIL YOU HAVE TRIED IT --- but not this year, moreâ€™s the pity. You have to win a lottery top get to have a food booth, and all we got to do this year was sell light up wands and spray fans. THERE WAS a booth selling homemade FRIED PIES the likes of which I have not tasted since I had scabby knees and pigtails.
I put the buttery corner of a hot apple fried pie in my mouth and my eyes closed inadvertently and I traveled in space and time back to Alabama. There was this flat place with an old cemetery and incongruous picnic tables up on top of a low mountain. I do not know the name, but our family called it Swit Bee Park. I never once went without ending up bitten and crying. I think I used the name Swit Bee park in gods in Alabamaâ€¦I do know that they are really called Sweat Bees BUT my family says â€œSwit bee,â€ and the kids would run to play among the crumbling tombstones and the grown-ups would yell after us, â€œTheyâ€™s Swit bees all up in thet grass! Donâ€™t get bit!â€
First time I got bit, a great uncle boosted me up onto a table and tore apart one of his cigarettes. He wet a little pinch of tobacco in his mouth, rolled it into a wad, and then pressed it to the red bite.
â€œTeks down the swellin,â€™â€ he said. Sure enough, it quit hurting. The NEXT time I got bit, I shocked my mother by marching phlegmatically down to where the men sat drinking sweet tea and spitting brown juice and said, â€œWhose got a Marlboro?â€
I opened my eyes and forgave Powder Springs MANY things, and forgave it even MORE when full dark came and firework after firework opened up like improbable flowers in the night sky. Their light showed us the smoke spiders the previous fireworks had made. Glorious color filled the sky, the spiders sailed north on the wind, and Bruce Springsteen told us all over and over where he had been born.
Maisy said, â€œI forgot fireworks. Were they so beautiful like this last year?
I said, â€œYes, baby, they are always just this beautiful.â€
She said, â€œNext year Iâ€™ll remember and wait for them better.â€
Sam said, â€œI like this song!â€
I said, â€œWell, you should. Thatâ€™sâ€™ the Boss!â€
He said, â€œThe boss of what?â€
I think it was Mirâ€™s new husband who leaned over and whispered, â€œThe boss of coolness, kid. The boss of coolness.â€
After, we walked back to the car we'd parked at the church along with everyone else, and on the way out of the crowded lot, people just waited and sweetly took turns and waved everyone in ahead. I was one of them, a Powder Springs local, all of us tired and a pound fatter and smiling and happy to live here in this good, good place.
AND I HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE, since Mr. Husband TOTALLY fixed my LIFE (read: computer). He is a genius and great and perfect. I, meanwhile, woke up as sour as the very devil. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Here in Powder Springs, where we are being slowly overtaken by DOOM (by which I mean, chain restaurants) and you regs remember how I cried when Mexican Thai Castle closedâ€¦it was like the day the music died around here. We were singing,
BYE BYE Bean Burritoes with Thai
Took my Kia to eat MiKrob
But the well had run dry
â€œWhere else can I get spring rolls, side of nachos,â€ I sigh,
But HEY at least I can spit in ANY direction---north, south-east or west, and (assuming I can clear the MILLIONS of housing development signs on every corner) I can hit a CHILIâ€™s. *weep*
I love the city.
I love the country.
I cannot love the suburbs, and I am now officially living in one. I cannot move because I LOVE my church my kids love their school, I love my house, we all love our friends, etc etc etc â€“ we have roots here in this little town, LONG ones, and yet a SUBURB has crept out and grown over it like MOSS until I can barely see the town any more. Itâ€™s the kind of place now where your crazy Uncle Abner would have to go to the nervous hospital. When we first moved here, you could have still let him live on the porch. Because everyone would have KNOWN it was just Crazy Abner, a little drool-y, perhaps, a little google-eyed, but essentially harmless.
Itâ€™s now a place where Boo Radley would never never never come out.
BUT! A ray of hope! In the old building where Mexican Thai Castle used to live, SEAFOOD SOIREE just opened. It is our new favorite place ever. The food is like--- I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, so understand when I say this, I mean it in the BEST possible way â€“ the food is like what you would get at a Church Fish Fry. PERFECT flaky delicious crisp fried fish and shrimp with hushpuppies or a REALLY good salad or SPICY sautÃ©ed mixed veggies or other stuff. They have chicken fingers and sautÃ©ed shrimp for CRAZY PICKY WEIRDOS who donâ€™t like church fish fries, and mahi mahi and salmon if you are JUST that fancy. They have WiFi and TV and funky shaped tables and sofa seating.
It's hard to spot. We never would have known it existed if they hadn't put a chalkboard sign out on the sidewalk that said, simply, "FISH AND BEER," a combinaton of magic words that caused my husband's foot to AUTO-SMASH down onto the brakes.
The also have LIVE JAZZ on Friday nights, a total DATE NIGHT vibe, but are also rather family friendly and owned by a local couple the SHE of which runs the front and the HE of which is a COOKING GODLET. One of their small people brought us lemons last night. If you live anywhere around here YOU MUST GO. It is in the same building with the used bookstore slash coffee shop. GO. EAT THERE. You WILL go back if you go once.
And LORD KNOWS we could use some locally owned places with the kind of food that you canâ€™t GET anywhere else.
To digress, and whine more --- I get how an Applebeeâ€™s has an hour long wait list for sloppy gross food that never comes the way you order it and tastes like plastic mannequin butt even if it does, served by a sullen critter with a lot of metal posts in her face while MEANWHILE, a hidden a gem of a local place struggles â€“ I think it must be TV? Because the food looks good on TV and the commercials remind you it exists? But HOW ON EARTH is there an Applebeeâ€™s SURVIVING on Times Square, surrounded by some of the best food in the universe? Itâ€™s ALL tourists, quite frankly, so they donâ€™t even have the local â€œWe just wanted to grab a quick biteâ€ excuse. I SERIOUSLY think if you VISIT New York and EAT AT APPLEBEEâ€™S you WILL be sent to hell for it, come judgment day.
I would rather see people courting painful death by making getting a meal from the STREET NUT CARTS or POISONOUS LAMB OF SALMONELLIC DOOM GRILLED SAMMICH STANDS. ANYTHING but sit down and order from the same menu they could have ordered from without shelling out the air fare and paying several hundred dollars a night to live in a hotel cube the size of a BORG sleeper cell. I see tourists streaming into that Applebeeâ€™s in their flip flops and I HEART MANHATTEN T-Shirts, and I weep.
Man I amSO grumpy today.
I want to go live in Fairhope Alabama. AND RAISE MINI GOATS.
Scott asked me what the goats would do, like what would their JOBS be, and I quoted my friend Sara and said, "They would be full time employees charged with eating cereal from the hands of children in an enthusiastic manner."
I think this is a good job for a goat to have. I might like that job myself, the mood I am in today. I am going to shut my pie hole and slouch around grumbling to myself instead of whinging at you nice people, NOW, before you decide to drown my grumpelous self like too many kittens.