SIBA was awesome. I saw a BUNCHA booksellers I LOVE, met new ones, had a martini so dirty it qualified as FILTHY, hung out with some of my favorite people from my publishing house, and GAVE MY SPEECH. As for the speech! Wellâ€¦ I had already decided that if I did not vomit down my front or trip over my own high heels on the way to or from the podium, I would call it an unqualified success.
High standards, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™VE got!
Actually, considering how nervous I was (and how high my heels were) those WERE pretty high standards. I was so nervous that I should use caps on it, like, say, I was SO NERVOUS!!!!111oneone!! I generally get nervous before standing up in front of a group and talking, but not THIS nervous. See, last time I spoke at SIBA, I got very flustered and forgot everything I planned to say and meandered around several topics and then fled. It was literally the worst speech I ever gave in my life. Including the time I was twelve and spoke to the Rotary Club about my deep deep deep, sincere, dry, and nearly endless passion for RECYCLING.
I was SO nervous that when I picked up my water glass to have a sip right before going up, my hands were shaking so hard I sloshed water all over my fingers and had to set it down. I was SO nervous that at one point, when in the middle of my talk I did a forehead smack and said a Homer Simpson like DOH!, I hit myself SO HARD that the next day I had a BLACK AND BLUE KNOT the size of a quarter under my bangs. I still have it. But up on the stage, when I actually hit myself, I was so filled with equal parts terror and adrenalin that I DID. NOT. FEEL. IT.
You would have been nervous too if you were speaking after Tony Early, Jeff Lindsay and Chistopher Moore. ( All hugely successful, critically acclaimed, and HILARIOUS.) And if you had screwed up so badly the last time you talked to the folks who make up SIBA. And if, right when you arrived, you realized you were wearing the same skirt you wore the LAST time you spoke at SIBA, you know, the time you SUCKED, and then you thought to yourself MY SKIRT IS CURSED! MY SKIRT WILL MAKE ME FORGET MY SPEECH! ALL OF IT! AND THEN I WILL VOMIT! AND WHEN I TRY TO RUN I WILL FALL DOWN THE STEPS AND MY CURSED SKIRT WILL FLIP OVER MY HEAD AND I HOPE TO GOD I HAVE ON REALLY NICE â€œHOSPITALâ€ UNDERPANTS LIKE MY MOTHER ALWAYS TOLD ME TO WEAR IN CASE I GOT IN A CAR WRECK. Yeah, so.
But none of that happened. I said everything I hoped I would say, and lots of people kindly told me that my outsides did not appear as trembly and terrified as my insides felt. SO! YAY! And then I buried my WHOLE FACE in a vat-sized icy martini and the waitor was kind and so I got MANY spare olives. It was a great day all the way around.
Unless you are my dog. In Which case, the kitten discovered that you sleep in a crate and therefore are helpless to stop long-armed yellow critters who want to get on top and poke you.
Boggart dog-poked and dog-poked until he was so exhausted he could nto jump around anymore. Luckily, he soon realized he could LIE DOWN and dog-poke. He was still at it when I fell asleep.
Iâ€™m going to SIBA this weekend! On the one hand, I am going to see a ton of folks I REALLY like that I usually only see on book tour. On the other, I am going to talk in public aboutTHE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, a book I have not yet talked about much in public. I am feeling my way still about how to talk about this book. It stills feels very close to me. I feel a little NAKED discussing it, and wonder if it will seem odd if I do my talk in a parka. With a veil. I am swinging back and forth between â€œREALLY pleased and excited to see all these peopleâ€ and â€œready to vomit in my shoes out of sheer nerves,â€ with a stop in the middle for â€œhoping HARD that I donâ€™t screw up.â€ By that I mean, I am hoping I do not PONTIFICATE or forget to say the things I really want to say or say them poorly or, well, hrm. Screw up covers it.
While I am SIBAing, Scott is taking all our babies to visit his mom, and I am going to stay in town with Karen. Staying with her is always an adventure. Our friend Renee Rosen calls Karen â€œPig Penâ€ ever since she had Karen come to stay with her. She discovered Karen crouching in the rubble of what used to be a perfectly organized bathroom and swabbing her armpits with Reneeâ€™s personal deodorant. The LAST time I went to sleep over at Kaernâ€™s house in order to make it to an early book event, Karen went to check the sheets on the guestroom bed while we were on the phone. There was a small silence and then she said, â€œNo oneâ€™s been here to stay over, so theyâ€™re mostly clean, except for maybe a little bit of bird crap. Do you mind sleeping in just a little bit of bird crap?â€
Shockingly, I minded.
Iâ€™m making Karen sound like a SLAVERING DEODORANT STEALING BIRD POO COVERED HUN, but she is SO not a Hun of ANY kind. Sheâ€™s actually lovely and more fun than a bag of kittens. She has a teeny INNER Hun though. VERY teeny. Minisculeâ€¦and looking at her, you would never guess it. Karenâ€™s feet are SO tiny I swear she had them bound to be able to wear all the shoes off the sales rack which are ALWAYS size 5 and a half.
She has a matching tiny little head (perhaps she bound THAT, too,) and delicate, narrow shoulders, and yet I think she thinks of herself as a muscle-bound trog-troll, stamping down the forests as she passes. (YOU KNOW! Every American woman on the planet should go buy really nice stationary and send the major networks and all fashion magazines notes that say â€œTHANKS FOR THE BODY DYSMORPHIA! IF YOU NEED ME I WILL BE BUYING DOVE PRODUCTS!â€
She IS a TV Hun, though. She is threatening to TIVO Gossip Girl and make me actually watch it. Like, ALL OF IT, not just a few scenes. Last night I stopped by her place, and she made watch the parts where this one boy on the show---the thick-lipped one with the waxy skin and low forehead who looks like the magically attractive love child of an ape and a Last-Days-of-Rome sybarite --- tried to date rape one female cast member after another. Two thwarted date rapes in the FIRST episode is really quite a lot of thwarting. After attempted victim number two, a teeny tiny pixie-faced blonde who I call â€œthe chirpy Brooklyn goodness sisterâ€ was able to fend him off, I fully expected to see him attempt to ravish a dyspeptic kitten and be firmly and effectively rebuffed.
I can't quite figure out the message...Is the message that we should hate him? or love to hate him? or SAY we hate him but secretly love him???? Is he a pure villian and two attempted rapes in the premier later, we are not spupposed to like him at all? Or are we supposed to say,"AH BUT he is such an INEFFECTIVE rapist! Perhaps he has a secret good non-raping heart so he ALLOWS 80 pound girls and bunnies and butterflies to escape his would-be-pillager's clutches! HE CAN BE REDEEMED!!!!" It's confusing. And...icky. Maybe a little more confusing than icky, but only a little, and only because the actor playign him is both talented and charismatic, so its hard to write him off as a stock baddy.
I have to say, that sybarite boy may have me agreeing to watch the show after all. He has some serious acting chops, and he is very â€¦ interesting to look at. I like looking at him in the way I like looking at work by Escher. It shouldnâ€™t work, but it DOES. The best thing ever said, about ANYONE, EVER, was said about him by Television Without Pity:
â€œYou can either be raging hot, or you can look like Jimmy Fallon with a chromosomal abnormality, but you can't have both. He refuses to make up his mind, and it's crazy-making.â€
Amen, oh Pitiless Ones. I so wish I had written that.
If it wasnâ€™t for my desire to look at him more, I would consider skipping the show altogether, and just READING about it. I recently discovered that I quite enjoy reading about shows I have NO desire to watchâ€¦My friend Lydia does RECPAPS of reality shows, and I donâ€™t watch any of those. I followed HER following the Amazing race, and I can honestly say I have never even seen the COMING ON of that show. I think I am the only person in America who is entirely innocent of the workings of SURVIVOR, but I LOVE to read Lydiaâ€™s fraught and hilarious Episode Summaries SO MUCH. I intend to myself to a season of NOT watching it yet still knowing everything worth knowing by following her blogâ€¦The first installment, entitled, Survivor China: Episode 1 Recap: China is Wet, can be found here.
I should watch GOSSIP GIRL just to be able to blog about it, but ALAS, Iâ€™ll never get off a line as good as that TV without pity one. I feel defeated before I have begun. Meanwhile, I am NETFLIXing shows from the Sci Fi channelâ€¦Dresden Files, anyone? WHY YES PLEASE, double scoop of Harry with vanilla ice cream, thanks, so WHO AM I TO JUDGE? You may have your reality motes and your O.C. replacement motes, unjudged, if you let me keep Harry for my eye-beam.
Speaking of beams in my eye, I like looking at the guy who plays Harry Dresden for an entirely DIFFERENT set of reasons than I like looking at that boy on GG.
Letâ€™s just say I find the guy who plays Harry to be â€¦scenic.
Or, to put it more succinctly: yum.
Some people who read the guest blog entry (link below) wanted to see MY quilts. By some, I mean TWO. I wrote them both back and said:
Dear B. Beloveds,
I LINKED you Pamela Allenâ€™s. Go look at THOSE. You do not want to see my quilts. They are not INTERESTING.
If you want to have an experience that is equivalent to looking at my quilts, I suggest you go outside and a look at a moderate amount of sand. Be careful you do not allow yourself to see too MUCH sand, or your excitement level might rise to high for you to truly understand the â€œlooking at the quilts I madeâ€ experience.
Not a good quilt maker
Never the less. They persevered. One said she did not live in a geographic location that allowed her to look at only a MODERATE amount of sand: she has a beach house. I was going to simply suggest that she fill a litterbox and bring a moderate amount inside, but then the second one used MATH on me. I am helpless to withstand math. You talk math, and I smile blankly and give you what you want in the hopes that you will stop talking it.
The math was something about how each of the two who wrote the letters were representative of a percent of the FTK regs, and getting two letters was actually like getting hundreds of demanding petitions, desperate to see some butt ugly (and rather dull) blankets.
Um. Okay. I donâ€™t understand how TWO makes x to the 200th power, but the letter writer assured me that STATISTICS says so, and I am willing to accept it if statistics will only SIT DOWN AND SHUT ITS PIE HOLE.
SO here is the Sam quilt. To make it more interesting, I have COVERED one of the orange squares with something that is NOT a piece of the quilt, but is never-the-less orange. SO cleverly camouflaged is this object that if you guess it, I will give you a PONY and a MILLION DOLLARS and my house.
This is the second quilt. It is at my motherâ€™s house, draped across a chair. You can tell it is not a chair at MY house because its upholstery is not hanging from its sagging arms in shredded tatters and a big chunk of its fuzzy white intestines are not poofing out the back where the CAMOFLAGED OBJECT seen above (and his much larger compadre) have done a feline version of TRADING SPACES where they come in and wreck all my crap and then tell me cats donâ€™t OWN houses so, too bad, the show is over and I donâ€™t get to help THEM redecorate.
This one looks like it might be slightly LESS boring because it has BEADS, but please remember, all I did was sew the squares (and TRIANGLES!!!!! WOOOOO!!!) together. and a REAL Quilter was paid good American dollars to put the beads on and quilt it. So.
Only thing left to say is, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, STATISTICS? Or do you want to see the verra verra fine tumorous chunk of clay I made when I was six? I claimed it was an ashtray and presented it as a gift to my non-smoking parents.
It is ALMOST as finely crafted as my quilts.
Remember I said I was doing that? Like, one entry down? So you can read todayâ€™s entry on this page of FAT SHOW FOR SIBA.
SIBA stands for SOUTHERN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS ALLIANCE, and their huge tradeshow is meeting in ATLANTA this year, which means I am going! YAY YAY!
Fat Show for Siba is the personal blog of Wanda Jewell, SIBA;s executive director. She offered a guest spot to any author who was coming to SIBA, so if you want to see more entries about up coming books â€“including one I am dying to get my hands on by Louise Shaffer, then click that link to the main page.
I find I am intimidated by FORMAL non-fiction.
Immediate digression: For the record, there is VERY LITTLE formal non-fiction here on Faster than Kudzu. FTK is me spewing out whatever random mental illness-filled silliness pops into my head right as I open Word. Here, I might tell you, to both give an example and PROVE my contention that this is not formal non-fic by digressing so so so far off topic we may not make it back, that we had to buy a baby gate because LITTLE KITTY still has his home base in my bathroom. BTW, Boggart now thinks LITTLE KITTY is his name, and Schubert, who has just become willing to recognize himself AS Schubert after his long Maisy-inspired stint as WAFFLES THE CAT, is beginning to think HIS name is BIG KITTY. For the record I just fit THREE digressions into one opening paragraph. I will need a trail of breadcrumbs to get BACK to the titular topic and PS, letâ€™s make it four and note that word titular sounds dirty. JUST SAYINâ€™.
ANYWAY, back to digression one, LITTLE KITTY is still eating and visiting the WC in my master bath because those of us who are EXTREMELY old and fat and one-eyed and need low ash kibble in order to pee should NOT be eating Purina One Kitten Formula, and also those of us who are old and exhausted and black-hearted and as cruel as a pirate think of the basement as OUR OWN DOMAIN FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and until Little Kitty figures out how to go through the cat door and invades on his own, I am going to let BIG KITTY remain sole monarch of the under-world.
SO NOW we have a baby gate over the master bath because at SOME POINT the dog, who is still known as Bagel (at least until the advent of a TALL DOG makes us start calling him SHORT DOG) went upstairs and realized we had set up a FABULOUS SALAD BAR under my sink. Scott came dragging him down the stairs to thrust him out into the yard, and his nose was WHITE with a fine crust of embedded litter. He looked like a French pig after a truffle hunt and he smelled like DEATH. So. Now we have a baby gate to climb over every time we want to brush our teeth. We also have ample proof that here be not formal non-fiction. Here be rambling about poop.
BUT. I have been asked to do some guest blog spots and write a couple of essays for various venues, and I open up Word to write them and then I start panicking about typos because HERE I just say Oh WHATEVER and allow myself to be the homophonic fragment-loving run-on-sentencer that I am. The one who FAILED typing class. Twice. Once in high school and once in college.
I freeze up like a mid-road possum and ask myself HOW can someone who cannot for the LIFE of her, even by accident, even ONCE, type the correct form of capitol/capital even though I SWEAR TO THE LORD I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE I just type it wrong every time even though the law of averages says I should hit it right by sheer random chance half the time but NO I DO NOT, HOW can a person like this be expected to GUEST BLOG or WRITE AN ESSAY without COMPLETELY humiliating herself?
I angst over my FLAWS clotting up someone elseâ€™s perfectly NICE magazine or blog. In a novel, I know a BEAUTIFUL ANGEL-SHAPED copy editor will get hold of it and go nuts with her slashing purple crayon before it goes out into the world. And here, I just cut loose. I mean, I LIVE here you know? It is MY room, and in MY room I hang out in ratty boxer shorts and a GO BAMA T, burping with impunity, but I would never come to your nice garden party and behave like such a Hootchipap. It is DIFFERENT.
In my head, a blog entry for a blog that it is not MINE is WILDLY different. So I sit there, castigating myself over typos until I realize there are not any typos BECAUSE I HAVE WRITTEN NOTHING. And the time I set aside to write the essay has PAST (yes, yes I DID mean PASSED, shut UP!) and I need to go get the kidlets or get on the elliptical or work on the book or cook a meal.
I wrote ONE guest blog entry and when it was done, I think I had used up my small store of sanity. I then spent about 15 hours on the FIRST godforsaken essay. IT IS DONE. Done-Ish. I am now trying to write two more guest blog spots and another essay, and it is not HAPPENING. The few times I have BEGUN, I find I am LYING to make the story better and then realizing it is an ESSAY, not fiction, and I am not ALLOWED to lie, so I go back and delete it down to the part where I was telling the truth and find I am left with three sentences, one of which has a homophone error.
Part of it is I am writing a novel now in earnest (threads are knitting themselves together in my head, even though my word count remains lower than I would like) but at least things are progressing, and the thought of trying to write something even remotely for really true at this point makes me want to crawl under a tractor and wait for a farmer to till me into the soil where I can do some good as fertilizer.
OR the above paragraph is an excuse and really I just canâ€™t stand the thought of an entire HERD of escaped errors (like the PAST/PASSED thing that I found when I gave this entry its usual cursory glance of a proof-read) making itâ€™s way onto the pristine blog of a person who never met a THERE that somehow morphed into a THEIR while on the road from brain to page. Who knows. This is the time on sprockets when I throw my hands up in despair and go to try and make a lolcat out of the picture my friend Jill sent me:
OKAY so, GUESS WHAT! I do have something to SAY after you guess, or say â€œI dunno, what,â€ in fact I have MOMENTOUS news (or news that seems momentous to ME anyway), but I am already distracted by something shiny. Remember when you were a kid what you would SAY if another kid came up and said GUESS WHAT??!?!! To you?
Well, so does this T-shirt.
I want it.
I found the shirt being advertised on a site that my kids think is LOLarious, and yeah, OKAY, secretly, I have a few times laughed until all organs liquefied and I died. It is called I Can Has Cheezburger, and it is basically a blog that posts hot fresh buttery lolcats, all day long.
If you do not know what a lolcat is, you can love the wiki, but the SHORT version is, it is a picture of a cat being a cat (aka: doing something bizarre) with a caption in broken up lolcat talk, which seems to be a combination of IM speak and the kind of poorly translated directions you find on the back of dollar store toys imported from Asia. Or the directions for putting together extremely complicated electronicsâ€¦Here is one I like:
See itâ€™s funny just because of the â€¦well LOOK AT IT. But also, itâ€™s funny on a coupla other levels. If you gamed in the 80â€™s you recognize that LINE of text from the old ZELDA games, and it even mimics the FONT and screen look of Zelda. Smart.
I Can Has Cheezburger stays mostly PG, and the ones that cross the line remainâ€¦.OBSCURE, so my kids think they are funny even though they donâ€™t actually get the joke.You know, stuff LIKE THIS:
YEAH, OKAY! I KNOW I AM FIVE.
But shoot, a professor at HARVARD is teaching a CLASS that covers lolcats, so THBTHBTHBTHB. <--- mature. No seriously, he has a big point about why we like to anthropomorphize animals, and it interests me. Especially right now: a talking owl just popped up in a scene in the book I am writing.
The faint thump you just heard was maybe my editor, falling out of her chair in New York. wondering what I am THINKING. TALKING OWL? Yes. Talking owl.
If she was here reading this---which she is emphatically not---but if she WAS, I would say, REMEMBER you felt deep chair-falling level skepticism when I told you I was working in a Ouija board scene in TGWSS, but I said, wait and see how it turns out, and now you HEART the ouija scene, and this talking owl, you will heart him.
BESIDES! Talking birds are awesome! Proof:
And yes, the above is a lolcat. Lolcats do not have to have a cat! The internets, she is weird.
Meanwhile, back at GUESS WHAT?!?!?!111 it is time to cue the trumpets and prepare to prance and flollop joyously.
Which means if you need me I will be curled up in a corner with it, trying to read slowly and wishing I was Haven Kimmel approximately 5 times a page. *weep*
Responding to comments here: Me and my kids have not run across much questionable material, other than the erm, safewurd cats, but according to comments it is NOT 100% kid or work safe. So. To avoid Surprises, here are the instructions for putting I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER in â€polite modeâ€
My daughter has finished her first novel, and I have agreed to publish it. I have paid her an advance consisting of a Push-Pop, and have promised to pay her royalties if she earns out. Earning out is ten comments, and she is paid in â€œHaving her comments read aloud to her,â€ as, sadly, in spite of the fact that she is a published author, she canâ€™t READ.
I suspect this is not a unique condition. *rimshot* *cough*
Iâ€™m not surprised to find she has penned her first book at age five: This is the same kid who gave me a MOOD RING to wear while I was away at a lit conference. She wanted me to CHECK it frequently so I could report to her via SCIENCE how tragically bleak I felt away from her shining presence. At home, the ring was a consistent and deeply happy cerulean blue, and she hypothesized that at the conference, away from her, it would barely be able to creep up out of sorrowful burnt umber to a melancholic green. The child is not lacking in either the creativity or the egocentrism one needs to write books and ask other people to read them.
Let me just say, I read this NOT as a mother, but as a person with an MA in English, a TRAINED CRITICAL READER!!! And it is AS a trained critical reader that I tell you in no uncertain terms, that this book, entitled THE VOLCANOâ€¦well. It is FREAKING BRILLIANT!!!! LAYERED!!! POINGANT!!!! SMART!!!
Four points to make before you experience THE VOLCANO BY MAISY JANE
1) Her FATHER took dictation for this opus. The hideous handwriting is his. I say this because my handwriting is so BAD it looks almost exactly LIKE his, but in this case, he perpetrated that scrawl.
2) Maisy herself penned the (backwards) dialog and the title on the cover of the book within the book. See? Hard to tell hers from his!
3) This book is a GOLDMINE for book clubs. If you wish to use it, I will post some discussion questions in first comment to help get your clubâ€™s talk started. WARNING, the discussion questions contain SPOLIERS!!!! so read the book first.
4) I love my stinking kid!!!
I am having one of those seasons where I think, well, if I can just get my IN BOX cleared out, I can go to the nervous hospital and spend several months in a medically induced coma. Like, that's the REWARD, a chance to grip Crayolas with my toes and color the padded walls. But ALAS! I never can get my in box cleared out.
I am like Alice and her jam: Nervous hospital yesterday, nervous hospital tomorrow, NEVER nervous hospital today.
In the spirit of avoiding being committed by never allowing myself to get even halfway through my to do list, I am trying to add a few things to my schedule. My church asked me to run Vacation Bible School this year, using my NON EXISTANT organizational skills to organize â€¦things. Yeah. So. Basically, I am NOT EVEN SURE WHAT THINGS NEED TO BE ORGANIZED USING MY NON EXISTANT ABILITY TO ORGANIZE THEM.
I was seriously thinking it over when I realized I have never even SEEN how a VBS works---I always ran the nursery with my friend Julie during VBS. I would hear busy, clipboard wielding people passing by in the hallway saying mysterious phrases like STATION LEADER and CHATTER TIME. I never saw how VBS worked, because I was wrangling diapers in a closed off room full of wonderfully disorganized herds of babies who only needed to be kept from hitting each other in the head with the xylophone mallet. <---I am totally qualified to do this.
I just canâ€™t see me in charge of VBS as anything other than a rip in the ozone---Not. A. Good. Idea. If I had BEEN one of those â€œStation Leaderâ€ thingies, maybeâ€¦So here I am saying NO again to the one place I do not want to say no to. I am tired of saying NO to my church because of my crazy schedule â€“ I donâ€™t think I work MORE than any other typically overworked American, but I travel and have no set hours which makes it hard to commit to a specific thing that must be done on a specific day and time each week.
EXAMPLE: I tried to be a greeter, but EVERY MONTH for THREE MONTHS the Sunday I came up on the schedule was THE Sunday I was out of town that monthâ€¦THREE TIMES IN A ROW. They have now given up on me.
So I am asking Aunt Bloggy (that is you, if you are also a CHURCH PEOPLE SORT): With my schedule and limited skill set, what is a good job for me? At a church? What jobs EXIST that I am not thinking of? I have a willing heart, a bizarre schedule, an overwhelming fear of failure, and I HATE to be Kirk. I am a SPOCK type---second in command is my natural habitat. What job can I do? OR --- just a list of possible jobs would help. AT YOUR church, what job do YOU do and love and what skills are needed?
ALSO, in the spirit of upping my mental illness number by HAVING A BIGGER TO DO LIST, I am going to be group blogging with a gaggle of other writers. Iâ€™ll be up once every couple of months, but there are quite a few writers over there I HUGELY admire, and some I just met, and some I am simply looking forward to getting to know. The blog went live yesterday, here.
Iâ€™ll be there first in Octoberâ€¦ BUT TODAY!
Toni McGee Causey gives good interview. Her funny answers to my 3 questions are below, as she blog-tours to promote her debut novel Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day It made a splash when it released in May â€“ great reviews, a lot of attention. Hereâ€™s the scoop:
Bobbie Faye Sumrall is a dead-broke Cajun living in a broken-down trailer in Lake Charles, Louisiana. When criminals demand Bobbie Faye's Contraband Queen tiara-- the only thing of her mama's she inherited-- in exchange for her good-for-nothing brother, Bobbie Faye has to outwit the police, organized crime, former boyfriends, and a hostage she never intended to take (but who turns out to be damn sexy), in order to rescue her brother, keep custody of her niece, and get back in time to take her place as Queen in the Lake Charles Contraband Festival (think Mardi Gras, with more drinking and pirates). Luckily, she knows how to handle guns, outwit angry mama bears, drive a speedboat, and get herself out of (and into) almost every kind of trouble. If only that pesky state police detective (who also happens to be a ticked off ex-boyfriend) would stay out of her way . .
In a starred review, Publisherâ€™s Weekly says, â€œCausey doesn't miss a beat in this wonderful, wacky celebration of Southern eccentricity.â€
JJ: Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. You both are tenacious and southern. How is she different from you?
TMC: I didn't really realize I was writing someone much like myself; I was, in fact, convinced she was very different. Then a couple of friends read it and were adamant that she was more like me than I realized. I plead not guilty. She's 28 and single, I'm not 28 and I'm married, with two kids. And I don't blow things up. (Hardly ever.) So see? Vastly diferent. ;)
JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in Louisiana influence your work?'
TMC: When I was very young, my dad would play poker every Friday night at my uncle's house, and all of those men would ignore a kid nearby. Cigarette smoke thickened the air, chip racks were discarded (and great toys), and everything from world to local affairs might be discussed. Or my mom and aunt would let me lie down in the back room where they were sitting and talking, and I'd pretend I was asleep because they would tell hysterical stories (and it was so hard to pretend I was asleep and not laugh), and it was, in a lot of ways, magic. I can still hear the clatter of the chips of the table, the snap of somone slapping down a trump card and a chorus of groans or laughs or good-natured cursing, all while someone recounted some story or other. I knew then, the story was what held the magic, and I knew that's what I wanted to do--to be able to tell them, hopefully to a room full of friends.
Growing up Cajun, with this culture, going out to the swampy lakes to fish with my dad, seeing how this state operated so differently from those around it... all were strong influences. Sometimes, living in Louisiana is a lot more like living in a different country, it seems, from what I can tell from visting other states and having friends live in various states around the country. I want that distinction to come through the world of the book, to let people see a place different from (maybe) what they'd expect to see.
JJ: Can you explain how having a sort of HYBRID of genres helped or hurt you as you tried to market your book?
TMC: I write action / comedy, and there's a little romance, a lot of crazy (especially the southern fried version of crazy). It's got a thriller pace, but it's shelved in fiction, and in some ways, that's been really nice, because it does tend to appeal to a wide variety of people. The downside to being a hybrid is that you don't have the browsers like you do in a genre section in the same way as in a genre section. If I go to mystery or romance or s/f and see an intriguing title, I do know the type of story I'd be getting. In the general fiction section, my caper might be shelved next to someone else's historical drama, so it's not going to appeal to a customer picking up that book next to mine. Still, it might. You just never know. ;)
1) I love the foot pad skin of Boggart the kitten. It is the exact color of Bazooka bubblegum, a fresh, fat pink, still shiny with newness. He has not been born for very long; he has hardly used it.
2) I went to Bookmarks over the weekend, a lit fest in Winston Salem. I wore the red kitten heeled sandals I do not think I have put on since I got arrested. (If you do not know the story and you do not follow the link, let me give you the abbreviated timeline: 1) Social security office screws up some paperwork I fill out. 2) Patriot Act passes. 3) I am wrongfully arrested, handcuffed, and carted off down the busiest street in my hometown while I am on the way to do a TV interview. It seems I must have at some point forgiven the shoes for being perp-walked in. Good thing, too, as the only other shoes I have that go with my Indian Print skirt are pointy-toed sling backs with three and a half inch heels. AND
3) the fest was outside. In Historic Bathabara Park, which Looks like this. The coolest thing about this park is not on that pageâ€¦okay well, the buildings are EXTREMELY cool. But there are several HOLES where MORE buildings used to be, like STONE LINED holes, the ghosts of basements past, holes with stairs--- like this.
4) Me and my stupid strappy sandals had to climb in and out of the holes and SEE and run my hands along the stone or we â€“ well I, really, those stupid shoes cared not a FIG now that I think on it, and in fact more than once a teeny poinky heel tip got CAUGHT in between two stones and I had to slip my foot out and wrestle the shoe free --- could not be happy. I wanted to be in the holes. They felt like houses to me---they still had presence, though they had been gutted, reduced to the hard undershell of something once lovely. The holes pleased and engaged me, especially since they were surrounded by the pristinely restored and perfectly maintained houses and the church and the brewery.
5) I want to take someone down in one of those holes and shoot at them with a pistol.
6) A FICTIONAL someone, you understand. No one in PARTICULAR, yet, just some future fictional someone I might need to murder. I like the idea of shooting someone through and having the bullets go into that old stone. I wonder what it would sound like. I wonder who the heck would be MEETING down in a an old stone house hole, and why, andâ€¦this is how books start for me. I find soemthign like this, a brain toy, and I play with it for a decade or two and then I write a book.
5) Once I had gotten DOWN in the hole in my STUPID SHOES I looked around and realized this HOLE was one third of the entire familyâ€™s living space. And these were families living pre good birth control. I thought about living in a house that size. I think I would be okay if I had internet. The stone hole would be my office. I would to work like that. tucked down under a teeny house lined in that old stone. I donâ€™t actually like windows, donâ€™t want light touching me when I work.
6) A SHOCKING number of people came to the festival to hear a buncha writers rabbiting on about books. SHOCKING. My tent was FULL and I spoke at 10:30 am. They do it right in Winston-Salem.
7) There was some sort of SPORT happening. Even so, the Bookfest was packed. And this was not, like, just another SPORT, this was some bloody old ancient cruel rivalry, a GRUDGE match sport. Midwesterners caravanned down to support the enemy team. They took over the 75% of the hotel that wasnâ€™t jammed with writers. They were like HUNS! Huns in SCARLET! They ravaged the hotel bar, denuding it of microbrews and white wine. The HUNS reduced us to Miller Light and that strange pink sugar water they call white zinfandel. (I passed and had a Vodka, thank you.)
8) Every now and again, one Hun or another would make a chant, like a LONG slow drawn out LOWLY monklike chant, a deep mournful elongated HOOT of sound.It went like: â€œGoooooo, Big Re-ed!â€ Then all the other huns would yell â€œGOBIGRED!â€ In a rush of contrasting staccato voices. I liked it. I had a fun time yelling GOBIGRED on cue, too, but still managed to come away remarkably unscathed by any knowledge of who or what a big red might be. Other than gum. Someone later told me it was football? Okay.
9) Oftentimes at fests you run hither and thither and yon, but this was very laid back and so I got a chance to have actual, extended and interesting conversations with several writers. These are a few of their booksâ€¦
The Memory Keeperâ€™s Daughter. I had already read this rigth when it first came out in PB and LOVED it. Itâ€™s one of those books people either love or hate. Guess what side of that fence I landed on? Hint: Loved.
Down the Rabbit Hole. I bought this for my son, though now, after having met Peter Abrahams and talked about plot for a solid hour, I want to read his adult fiction. (And, erm I may have read his YA on the plane home. I may have not just skimmed but read every funny engaging word and YES, I DID know that I am 39. Shut. Up.)
Amazing Grace, William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. Had a fantastric conversation with Eric Metaxas about faith, and now I want to read this. Of course, he also wrote some of the Veggie Tales books. All of which I have read--out loud, no less -- approximately 3,786,547,233 times now. Heh.
SO. More than five years ago, when I was pregnant with Maisy, I went to the No Kill Cat Shelter to get myself a kitty. Walley-Cat had just chosen to die in the most perverse manner possible, and even though I was 7 or 8 months pregnant â€“ the WORST possible time to integrate a new pet into a family, I found I was getting violently depressed. Cat-less is not a look that works for me.
So we went. And as is my wont, I fell for the most horrifying beast in the place.
SAMPLE CATS I HAVE LOVED AND PAYED FOR:
Gompers, the cat of my heart, was, as a TEENY kitten, constantly shooting jets of green goo out his nose. POLLYPS! The vet said. I signed a surgery waiver for a 150 dollar procedure to REMOVE the mythical polyps. The vet got in there and saw Gompers had been born with no HOLE between his NOSE and MOUTH.
On impulse, and without thinking it through or calling me, he decided to punch a hole thereâ€¦ of course the green goo in the closed off nose cavity drained immediately into Gompersâ€™s lungs --- instant pneumonia, just add one stupid vet and a truly EPIC amount of mucus. Gompers almost died from thatâ€¦he was in the hospital on an IV for DAYS wavering in and out of lifeâ€¦ He survived, but from then on, Gompers sounded like Darth Vader when he breathed, his face smelled like old cat food because bits of kibble would get lodged in his ragged vet-created problem hole, and he never really did stop being excessively boogery.
Walley-Cat had a WEIRD heart disease. Weird for a cat. It presents in dogs and humans but NO vet, even the fancy one they brought in from Northwestern , had ever seen a CAT with it. They got very excited and kept doing tests on him.
We were not excited, as to us it meant that he sometimes fell over sideways and shot vile substances out of every orifice he possessed while making this YODEL-OF-DAMNED-CAT-IN-HELL noise. It was both unpleasant and expensive. We spent over a THOUSAND freakin' dollars after the diagnosis, and two or three weeks after a course of treatment had been set and was working to control the condition, we finally cut off the on-going tests. We realized the Fancy Guest Vet was essentially getting us to pay for EKGâ€™s because Walleyâ€™s condition was SO DARN INTERESTING that he wanted to SHOW HIS FRIENDS.
Cleo, my pre-Gompers girl, had flea allergies, a vicious disposition, a tendency to go into â€œmock heatâ€ even though she was fixed, and suffered from trichotillomania so sever sheâ€™d pull her entire body bald unless she was kept on a strict regimen of cat anti-depressants.
So. I have a DREADFUL track record for picking good cats. Well, that is if you define a â€œgood catâ€ as one that doesnâ€™t produce dreadful smells and cause medical bills greater than the value of your current motor vehicle.
Not at all surprising that at the no kill shelter, I rejected the cat I had found on the internet and come to see, a perfectly lovely young Russian Blue beauty with no medical problems and a charming disposition. Instead, I found myself sidling over to a Main Coon foaming with bitter juices in the corner. He was called, at that point, Socks, and I could see the name was impugning his massive dignity. He was fat, already middle aged, had one eye, the pellet that had shot the eye out was still lodged in his brain, and his chart said, in huge red letters WARNING: GETS A BUTT RASH.
I had found my cat.
Scott: Did you see the part about the butt rash?
Me; He doesnâ€™t want to be named Socks. I can TELL. We have to take him OUT of here.
One of the volunteers said the cat had one more problem. â€œHe hates other cats. Hates. Violently. Thatâ€™s why he is so miserable here. If you get him, he needs to be an only cat. No more cats, k? He likes DOGS just fine and to the best of our knowledge he has never actually KILLED a human being â€“ but no cats.
Scott: No more cats huh? Sold. Can we name him Pellet Head?
Socks: Absolutely not.
Me: He says no. Sorry.
So Franz Schubert, our bad bad Leroy Brown, our one-eyed mad pirate of a cat, came home. And OH, did he hate other cats! When our neighbors cat, Ginger, came to sit on our porch, Schu-bot would HURL himself at the glass by the door so hard the house would shudder, dying to get out and rend and tear until Ginger was a few bits of bloody hair tufts drifting away on the wind like dandelion fluff.
Did I mention I recently decided I had to get a kitten?
Yeah. Maisy my youngest baby, went and got OLD ENOUGH FOR KINDERGARTEN, and I needed a BABY. A BABY! I decided to fill that hole with a BABY KITTEN.
Scott: Wonâ€™t Schubert KILL the kitten?
Me: No. He would LIKE to have a kitten! I can tell.
Scott: I think he would â€œlike to have a kittenâ€ in the same way I would like to have some lamb chops. I think if you bring home a kitten you are going to end up with Schubert and some PIECES of kitten.
Me: Oh NO! Schubert is ELEVEN now. He has mellowed!
As I said those words, the FIFTY POUND dog walked past, realized he had accidentally wandered into the area defined by Schubert as â€œMY PERSONAL SPACEâ€ and he hurriedly put his head down, genuflected in abject terror, and backed slowly away.
Scott: Yeah. I can see that.
So I went and got a kittenâ€¦He lived in my bathroom and bedroom for a few days until I felt up to integrating kitties, and then I let him out and the two met and within 48 hours, Schubert freakinâ€™ FELL IN LOVE with this stupid kitten. He just TOOK to him. The kitten bothers and fusses and creeps all over him and bites his head and worries at his tail, and Schubertâ€¦LETS HIM. Schubert even shows a slight inclination toâ€¦ROMP ABOUT, a here-to-fore unseen phenomenon.
Not only is he gentle as he plays and â€“ dare I say it? Yes! Yes! I dare, as he plays and HONEST TO GOD CAVORTS with Boggart, but yesterday, the dog was chasing the kitten, and he got too rough, and Boggart got scared. Bagel CAUGHT Boggart and STAMPED on him. Scott and I were both running to intervene as the kitten squeaked and hollered. Before we could reach them, SCHU leapt up from his nap, roaring like an enraged tyrannosaurus, inserted himself between Bagel and Boggart, and TORE THE DOG A NEW ONE.
Itâ€™s like they are BFF. Look below at the happy belly-exposed PLAY going on, and join me in my mind-blown boggle:
1) My ears hurt. This stupid kitten, I swan. He was taken from his mother too early and dumped at the pound, and so he is psychologically BORKED. He has imprinted on me like a duckling, which is SO SWEET AND DEAR and I am for it. Except for the part where he wants to nurse on my earlobes.
My poor earlobes are puffy and red and pulsing because he s SUCH a pernicious and sneaky nurser. He waits until I am deep asleep and then creeps up and noozles his way in and winds himself like a yellow ribbon through my hair and gets himself an earlobe and NURSESNURSESNURSES until the smacky noises or a bit too much tooth action wake me, and I say, â€œBOGGART! YOU TURD!â€ and pull him off. Then he settles down in my armpit to snooze until my deep breathing and limp form tell him Operation Earlobe Sneak-Suck can recommence.
I am going to end up with 3 foot long engorged dandley freak earlobes and will have to grow my hair out very long to hide them or perhaps I will learn to roll them up and pin them behind?
2) Iâ€™m going to be at BOOKMARKS this Saturday. ANYWAY, if you live in or on or near or by Winston-Salem, come and see me.
Another author I TRULY admire will be there but. Oh Lord. The LAST (and only) time I met this author was SO HUMULIATING I think I am going to wear a big NIXON MASK over my head for most of the fest.
Here is the VERY SUBTLE RETELLING with all identities disguised.
For the sake of having a pronoun, letâ€™s make the author I quite admire female.
For the sake of having a name that confuses the issue, letâ€™s call this author Jeffrey Famous.
Weâ€™ll put this event at a post Book-fest party with this author in, umâ€¦OH Idaho. Because why not.
The rest of the cast consists of me and a very NEW writer, first book just out, and weâ€™ll allow her to hide behind a pseudonym too. Weâ€™ll call herâ€¦ Drunky McWriterson.
SO there I am at this party in Idaho, wondering why I felt it was necessary to put on four inch heels to go to a location where there would be 150 people and approximately 9 chairs, when Drunky comes over to me and says, â€œHey! Arma GOSH! Err yoo Jorshilee Jacksoo?!!!!â€
Luckily I speak drunk, so I said, â€œYes, Iâ€™m Joshilyn. Nice to meet you.â€
I will do a translated version of the next few things Drunky said, in case you do NOT speak drunk.
Drunky: I have stopped you here and am clutching your arm so hard it will leave bruises because I wanted to tell you that I very much enjoy your literary efforts.
Me: Thanks, Drunky, Thatâ€™s so kind.
Drunky: But and however, I feel obligated to tell you that when I read the part in gods in Alabama about the chicken I did a double take. It was, in the immortal words of C&C Music Factory, a â€œthing that makes ya go HMMM,â€ and I went HMM, And so now I must ask, how screwed up was that? Huh? The thing with the chicken?â€
Me: Very screwed up. I am getting help. Please excuse me.
Drunky: Is there something bad wrong with you? In the brain? Because it was really screwed up.
Me: Indeed, there is. I would love to tell you all about my medications, but I see something over there I need to go steal. Itâ€™s quite far. See you soon!
*Drunky has not released me, and at this moment, Jeffrey Famous makes the INCREDIBLY poor decision to walk past within 5 feet of us.*
DRUNKY: Holy VERYBADWORD! Holy VERYVERY BADWORDINDEED! You are JEFFREY FAMOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*Drunky, still clutching me with one rigid claw, reaches out with the other and GRABS Jeffrey Famous and YOINKS her LITERALLY off her feet. Jeffrey Famous ALMOST FALLS ALL THE WAY OVER but her progress to the ground is impeded by Drunkyâ€™s body and my other arm, which grabs and steadies her. One of her SHOES comes off, this is how hard she has been pulled.*
DRUNKY: *Hollering directly in the one-shoed Jeffreyâ€™s face, one hand still clamped on my arm and the other holding Jeffrey by the shoulder and shaking her* OH BAD WORD!!! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE THE BEST! OH MY HOLY VERYVERYBADWORD! THIS IS JORSHILEE JACKSON! SHE LOVES YOU TOO SO MUCH WE ARE BOTH DYING HOLY BAD WORD WORD WORD YOU ARE JEFFREY FAMOUS WHICH I GUESS YOU KNEW BUT I DID NOT! PLEASE CAN WE GET A PICTURE WITH US ALL THREE LIKE BEST FFRIENDS YOU AND ME AND JORSHILEE BECAUSE SHE LOVES YOU! HEY YOU! TOTAL STRANGER WITH A CAMERA WHO IS PROBABLY FROM THE PRESS! PLEASE COME TAKE A PICTURE THIS IS WORDING JEFFREY FAMOUS HERE AND I LOVE JEFFREY FAMOUS AND SO DOES JORSHILEE! PLEASE TAKE OUR PICTURE.
To her credit. Jeffrey Famous manned up, put her shoe back on, and stood for the picture, forcing the kindest smile she possibly humanly could under the circumstances. I stood there with my own smile so fake and rigid I thought my FACE had died and a kindly mortician had come by and stapled my lips into an up-curve.
CLICK went the camera.
Jeffrey: It was great to meet you, but I have to go very far away now, as fast as I possibly can! Okay then! BYE!
I fled soon after, and yeah. So. I am SURE Jeffrey remembers the incident but it is my hope that she does not remember ME as being there or, indeed, existing. I am going to sneak and hide and get a PROXY person to take a copy of my Favorite Jeffrey book over to get signed. And then, should you need me to sign any copies of MY books, I will be crouched in the shrubbery. You can find me there if you donâ€™t mind a some bugs and a little crawling.