May 29, 2008

Sandy Bottom

AS you may recall, I joined Weight Watchers because I HAVE to get this tour off my butt. I am EXTREMELY mentally ill on this topic. The height-weight chart at my doctor’s office SAYS that I am not overweight. And that silly crack smoking chart SAYS I was not TECHNICALLY overweight before I started WW. Hmph. I would like to respectfully redirect the chart’s attention to MY BUTT and have it RECONSIDER. Or kiss it. Either way.

PRE-EMPTIVE DISCLAIMER: Don’t worry! Before I started WW, I scooted into the very top of the range by mere OUNCES. My plan is to lose weight so that I am closer to the BOTTOM of the proper range. I have not in the past nor will I in the future try to get down to a weight that would allow me to, say, do runway in Milan.

At any rate, I am already down over 4 pounds. WHEEE. I was thinking, IF I can peel another 5-6 more off in the 4.5 weeks before I hit the beach, I will be QUITE pleased with myself. I won’t be quite BIKINI READY, but I WILL be smoking hot in the suit I have selected:


You can get yours here

SO anyway, I WAS feeling mildly pleased and hoping I can stay as manic and points obsessed as I HAVE been, BUT THEN! My mother had this FANTASTIC idea to have us ALL WEAR WHITE and get a family photo made on the beach.

I said, “MOM! You know what would be better? If we all wore BLACK and had our photo on the beach. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, MOM!”

My mother is not interested in thinking outside the box. She thinks an ALL BLACK beach photo would look like we had come to the ocean sprinkle someone's ASHES.

I tried again: “Think outside the WHITE MAKES MY BUTT LOOK FAT BOX, Mom,” I pleaded.

Then she reminded me that I was TWO WEEKS LATE and took 15 hours of labor to expel. Trump card.

SO my butt will probably be having its big fat white picture taken at that beach. THAT MEANS I HAVE to lose the 5 pounds the camera will put on me so I can have room for the 5 pounds WEARING WHITE puts on, just to look like I look NOW without having lost the five
pounds. <--- This is the new math.

Sara says I should quit trying to do math, and instead simply get killer highlights, turn sideways, and stick a kid in front of me.

Sounds like a plan.

In other news, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING is now bouncing around on the blog-o-phere. I am being sent links to all
kinds of
for GIRL (and sometimes even now for my older titles) and I can’t tell you how AWESOME this is.

Word of mouth is all that matters, all that matters, when it comes to how readers decide what book to buy for THEIR trip to the beach this summer. I am thrilled and touched and charmed that so many bloggers are telling other people about my work. Thanks, guys. For realz.

OOOH ADDENDUM! Just after I wrote this, I went to read my regulalr morning coffee blogs and found a WHOLE another one … THANKS, KIWORDS!

Posted by joshilyn at 11:02 AM | Comments (18)

May 28, 2008

Smells Like Daisies?

In lieu of blogging, today I offer up an interview I did for SE review. It is about writing. And dog farts.

You can find it here

Posted by joshilyn at 9:48 AM | Comments (6)

May 27, 2008

Monsters of the Golf and Polish Varieties

How was your long weekend? We took the kids to glow in the dark animatronic monster golf and Mr. Husband kicked everyone’s buttocks. I cheated relentlessly and STILL came in second, but I think Mr. Husband cheated, too, by ACTUALLY PLAYING REAL GOLF for YEARS which gave him a huge and unfair advantage. ALSO He cheated because he chose DELIBERATELY to be born with some hand/eye co-ordination. I, on the other hand, was born with an innate ability to find the one ripple or crack in a three miles stretch of Silver Comet Bike Trail and trip over it and tumble sideways into prickly gorse. CHEATER, he is.

Sam is, in fact, the only one of us who played fair. Maisy would chase the ball around and stop it with her foot and whack at it several times while it was still moving and finally lose patience and basically HERD it into the hole with her putter. Then she would look up and say “I think that was about a 5? Or a 3?” and her daddy, that cheating sucker, would write down 4 on the scorecard.

It all went really well until an ENORMOUS DRAGON came humping and leering up over a wall at us on hole 15. He SNAIL-LOOMED his way directly upward, toward the CEILING and NOT toward us, and he rose with such AGONIZING slowness that on NO PLANET could he be accused of “Popping out at us,” but Maisy never-the-less let out a long piping scream so SHRILL that the glasses of the nearby golf attendant shattered and my brain melted and came out my ears.

We also went to the movies, and now my husband is experiencing random urges to kill Patrick Dempsey with a hatchet. You know that guy? I think of him as the lead from Enchanted, but he is also apparently on some show where his name is something like Dr. McYummy? He was NOT in the movie we saw, and he was not even in one of umpty-hundred trailers that showed BEFORE our movie, and yet each night since our theater outing, my husband has bolted straight upright in the bed with his big hands reaching forward to curl around McYummy’s throat and rend him in twain.

Perhaps the cardboard life-size advertiser with the cut out of the bride’s face—so attractive to little girls whose favorite toys are her ratty, overplayed with “Dream Bride Barbie” and the matching “Barbie Forever Handsome Groom” Doll – Had something to do with it. The phenomenon began soon after I took this picture of Maisy and “McPervy” as Scott now calls him:


(Aside: Barbie Forever Handsome Groom is CLEARLY a doll. He does not aspire to be an action figure. This is the kind of mealy-mouthed low drive fellow who will hold Barbie’s purse at the mall and say YES DEAR a lot, but I imagine the honeymoon will be a dud. Lord. If it was me, I would ditch his insipid, floppy-haired self and marry GI Joe---certainly all MY Barbies did. My brother would hunt me down, ENRAGED because his toy box had been looted, and poor Joe would be twigged out in Ken’s stolen frock coat, marrying himself some Happening Hair Barbie and grinning like a man on leave.)

IN OTHER NEWS, the POLISH EDITION of gods in Alabama released. HEE! I have not gotten a hard copy of the actual book, but I like the cover…and I FLAT ADORE the TITLE.


Bogowie Alabamy! I do not know how to ACTUALLY pronounce it, but Scott and I say it like “bo-GOW-ee Alla-BAM-ee.” It is a spooky sounding thing, the way we say it. We like to crouch down and then SLOWLY RISE UP and LOOM at each other with our hands shaped like monster claws and our teeth bared while we say the Polish title in a LOW DOWN LOUD BOOMY GROWL! Grrrrrrr! BOGOWIE ALABAMY! GRRRRR!!! You should try it. SUPER fun. Just not if Maisy is around and you wear glasses…

Posted by joshilyn at 9:09 AM | Comments (16)

May 22, 2008

It May Be Too Late for The Good to DIE Young, but OH! BUT OH! How We Suffer

Today I courageously saved a chipmunk, and tomorrow I have to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned. This is SO unfair. CHIPMUNK SAVING HEROES should have the power of their HUGE GOODNESS blast the plaque from their teeth in a lazery beam of glorious minty purity, with no need to get into that CHAIR.

Even for a CLEANING, I need gas and valium and my hand held and I STILL bawl like a toddler and it is UTTERLY humiliating. I fear that chair unreasonably, the way some people fear heights or spiders or, apparently, vegetables. I would quite honestly rather LICK A ROACH than go to the dentist. And you know how I feel about roaches.

MEANWHILE. It is time to REBOOT the swimming pools around here, but my friend Julie is having a hard time getting started because LITTLE TURKLES have taken up residence in her backyard pond. Two of them have been spotted, named Somewhat Small Turkle and Weentsy Turkle. “If it was just frogs and bugs,” Julie said pragmatically, “I would chlorinate the heck out of it and scoop the corpses out later. BUT LOOK HOW CUTE THE TURTLES ARE!”

So we went to look how cute the turtles were, and saw a somewhat small poinky nose and a WEENTSY nose poking up, and no one can stand to murder them with chlorine. And then Julei said, “WHAT IS THAT?” And SOMETHING was bobbing all panicky about the pool-pond, clinging desperately to a little outcropped filter thing, and then leaping up to the edge and failing to get out and paddling unhappily and clinging in an exhausted manner.

SO I went out there and found the net and held it down to the little soaked and horrifed drowning thing, and I thought the poor chipmunk would be all PANICKY about it and try to escape me, but you have never seen a wild animal leap into a net with such hopeful immediacy. I lifted him out and he scurried onto the grass and fled. AND SO DON’T YOU THINK I SHOULD GET TO SKIP THE DENTIST? DON’T YOU?

Don’t you at least feel sorry for me? Julie’s girl GOAT does – Petunia hopped up on the windowsill and lifted a sorrowful paw in goatly solidarity, and then she stood there bleating in mournfully at me.


We who are about to die of terror salute you. As I perish, if you like, check out this podcast on SIMPLE ARTS! It includes a long-n-juicy interview with me and Pamela Allen, the artist who made Laurel’s Bride Quilt, and whose work was a big part of where THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING began in my head. Which, coincidentally, is where my teeth are. And since I want them STAY there…I guess I will go to the dentist…

Posted by joshilyn at 11:13 PM | Comments (20)

May 20, 2008

In Which I am a DO BEE

Do you remember Mr. Do Bee and Mr. Don’t Bee from Romper Room? Of course not. Me neither. We are much too young and clever! And NO, I didn’t just blithely quote from a song that charted in 1982 like an old person. Because I am much too…oh snap. OKAY! YES! BUSTED! That WAS a line from COME ON EILEEN and, yes, I VAGULEY remember ROMPER ROOM. I am SURE I was a toddler, though. Maybe even a FETUS. A Fetus who probably watched it in syndication. *nodnodnod*

Anyway, DO BEEs are helpful and cleanly and suchlike, and so, in the spirit of NOT BEING A DON’T BE I am going to tell you things people have asked me to tell you.

1) If you live in New York or are going up there this summer, and you read those smexy manly gunplay books, you should know Thrillerfest is happening at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on July 9 – 12. I especially mention it because MY SUPER FAVORITE of all the manly gunplayers, Lee Child will be there and a host of other cool kids with fictional glocks. BUT MOSTLY LEE CHILD! WHEE! Nicest man alive and I HEART his Reacher books with fervent hearting. Right now you can enter a contest to WIN FREE TICKETS.

2) While you are IN New York, my friend Karen thinks you should go eat at Cabrito. It is a restaurant that specializes in…Goat. Yes, a GOAT CAFÉ!!! Here is a quote from the very positive Thrillist review… “Meaning "little goat" in Spanish, Cabrito serves up billy-centric Mexican prepared by a … Crab chef, who's predilection towards ill-tempered creatures will hopefully culminate in a cafe called The Steamed Badger.” HEE!

I WOULD so go eat at a place called THE STEAMED BADGER. I WOULD SO GO! Well, I would LIKE to go, but unfortunately, Weight Watchers has not calculated the POINTS required for a serving of Steamed Badger. Which is a little shocking, considering that they have assigned a point value to an ounce of RAW BEAVER. (It is worth a point, for the morbidly curious or desperately hungry. TRUE!) Also? If you are on the CORE plan? You will be pleased to know that RAW BEAR BRAINS are a core food, which means you can eat JUST AS MUCH RAW BEAR BRAINS as you like, and still lose weight. You’re welcome.

Me, I cannot go to Cabrito, alas. Look, this is my friend Enzo. He lives with Sara and
I can’t eat his possible auntie:


3) Patricia Wood the author of LOTTERY, is hosting a MEMORIAL for my beloved Miss Snark If you are a writer who is about to start the search for an agent, please, PAUSE! First, go read Miss Snark’s entire blog, from start to its grand finish, which took place one year ago today. It’s funny, it’s snarky, it’s ultimately HOPEFUL, and it is jam packed with EXCELLENT INFORMATION.

4) My BFF Lydia who home schools her little children, arranged the first Norfolk science fair for HOMESCHOOLERS and she asked if I could thank her sponsors. DO BEE SURE CAN, LYD! The G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair took place on May 5th in Norfolk VA, where smart young scientists shared their research and conclusions with their peers, their families, and the judges. Fun was had, friends were made, hypotheses were proven, and prizes were awarded! Thank you to all the sponsors of the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair!

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Art of Dance Academy is a dance and theater school on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. They offer "Tiny Tots" toddler dance classes, youth classes for ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop, and adult classes too. Most importantly, the host the famous summer princess dance camp.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Nauticus is Norfolk's maritime museum and home of the USS Wisconsin battleship. The hot new exhibit is Seabots: Pilots of the Deep! Have you seen it? Nauticus is in the process of setting up a Homeschool Advisory Group to talk about homeschool science programs at the museum.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their next homeschool open house is on May 15th and features a class in pirate lore. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming. offers homeschool curriculum packages to take the guesswork out of selecting materials that compliment each other to create a whole year of learning for your homeschooler. Three collections are available for each level, and individual books are for sale too.

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

Dr. Bernard Nebel has written two books to help homeschool teachers integrate learning in different areas of the curricula into one living breathing learning experience. His new book, Building the Foundations for Scientific Understanding, is a science curriculum for K-2.

Young Chef's Academy is a marvelous kitchen classroom with amazing cooking classes for kids. Go ahead - cover yourself in flour! Most amazing of all: their summer camp offerings are themed around the Olympic Games. Cook for the Gold with Camp Can-I-Cook in Norfolk this summer.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books.

Thank you for your help in promoting these homeschool-friendly sites. They took a risk on sponsoring us in the first year of our science fair, and we appreciate their support.

BACK TO BEING OLD it may be true that I know all the words to COME ON EILEEN, MAY be true, but I was SO VERY DEWY AND NAÏVE AND YOUNG when it came out that I did not realize the name of the band--- Dexy’s Midnight Runners---refers to SPEED. Dexy is a clever nickname for DEXEDRINE, and if you gobble some, you are still up running at midnight. See how that works? Those musicians and their tricky subtle sneakinesses! I was a small town girl, and I was VERY FOR TRULY SHOCKED when I realized this. Musicians! Doing DRUGS! Imagine! I was also QUITE shocked to learn that SHE BOP was about girls, er, going blind, and at least a couple of those fellas from QUEEN might be gay…

Posted by joshilyn at 8:26 AM | Comments (19)

May 18, 2008

100 Pounds of Crazy in a 50 Pound Bag

I cannot get this TOUR off my butt. RIGHT before tour I was fitting back in my REAL jeans, and then I must have accidentally EATEN one of the states I was in. Anyone missing Vermont? Because I think it may be on my butt. After noodling around with South Beach and accidentally eating brownies all the time, I have decided to join Weight Watchers.

I know according to my doctor’s chart, I am not TECHNICALLY overweight for my height and age, but according to a line from THE BREAKFAST CLUB, I am “pushing maximum density.” And who are you going to believe? Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson? Or some DOCTOR? Also that weight chart allows for a HUGE RANGE… I feel like the LOWER portion of the range is where all the truly fun clothes shopping takes place. *nod nod nod* ALSO Beach week is in less than a month and... YARG. I am not bathing suit ready. SO.

I have a friend on Weight Watchers Online and she showed me the interface. If you drink enough water and click the boxes, a water glass smiles at you. If you eat enough vegetables and click the boxes, a tomato smiles at you. You can also get smiled at by vitamins, dairy products, and a little bile-yellow repugnant droplet who represents healthy oils. There is a running man icon, and if you exercise you can click HIS box, and a smiley face EATS HIS BACK LEG so that he is running on one fast FRONT leg and dragging this bulbous yellow grinning appendage. SO CREEPY! I dig it. I need iconic affirmations. Also, it looks like it encourages a near fanatic level of obsession. WHEE!

I am doing it Online. Not in “the for reals”. This is because I would rather lose the weight by having ALIVE JACKALS with terrible filthy jackal breath and disease-y teeth come and BITE UNWANTED FAT OFF ME IN HUNKS than have a weekly meeting where I publicly weigh in. AND YES I KNOW, it is just you and your WW leader person, and I am sure she is a very nice lady named Sharon with soft brown eyes and a kind soul and she never judges or tells, and that is STILL public. I mean, I could weigh in front of her once, but then I would have to kill her. *shrug* Yes. Really.

I am not mentally capable of saying my weight aloud on public or ALLOWING my weight to be said aloud in public by others. EVEN WHEN I AM HAPPY WITH THE NUMBER it is still not permissible to SAY IT. In fact the best way to learn my weight would be to begin counting upwards from 100 and when you get to the right number I will beat your head in with a hatchet and then you will know you were about to say the number out loud in front of me, and you can join Sharon and the nurse who forced me to weigh in my whole first pregnancy under the basement flooring .

I am SO insane on this point that I was willing not only to kill, but also to DIIE to protect it. In Boston, I had to get on a four seater plane, and this woman asked me to SAY MY WEIGHT so they could safely put the luggage in to balance the load so we wouldn’t plummet out of the sky to a fiery doom..

Perky Emaciated Airline Employee: I need your weight please?
Me: My WHAT?
PEAE: (I think this would be pronounced “PAY-ah.” You’re welcome.) Your WEIGHT? And don’t shave pounds---it is a safety issue. In a plane this size we have to balance things.
Me: I am physically incapable of complying with your request.
PEAE: HE HE HE. Um what?
Me: You are saying if I do not accurately tell you my weight, we could all die.
PEAE: Yep!
Me: Okay.
PEAE: SO your weight….is…?
Me: No, I meant, I am okay with that. The risking our lives part.
PEAE: Oh! HEEE, well the pilot isn’t, is the problem.
Me: How about this. How about I LIE about my weight. I’ll say what my weight is, but I will shave off ten pounds.
PEAE: No, you need to tell me what it really is because that ten pounds makes a difference.
Me; You're telling me! It’s a whole jeans size!
PAEA: I mean it makes a difference to the PLANE.
Me: Oh. Right, That. But see, I already TOLD you I was going to shave ten pounds off. SO you can SILENTLY add it back in and we can pretend that ten pounds is my SHOES.
PAEA: So you are going to LIE to me about your weight by ten pounds and then I put it back in.
Me: Silently.
PAEA: I think I need to add on an extra thirty pounds for all THE BIG CRAZY you are carrying.

Okay she didn’t say that last part. BUT SHE WAS THINKING IT. So I said the number minus ten pounds and she SILENTLY put it in the computer plus ten pounds and I didn’t have to kill her. Win-Win.

I’m going to sign up for WW now and then go exercise so I can get that SMILEY GUY to come eat the runner’s leg. WHEE!

Posted by joshilyn at 8:54 AM | Comments (23)

May 14, 2008

Half a List and a Pretty Fat

1) I like lists. They unstick me. I was talking with my friend Lydia yesterday on the phone about this book, bouncing ideas off her, riffing, you know? And I said, “I BET ROSE LIKES TO MAKE LISTS!” And we both started laughing as we realized…

a) I have never actually given my main character in any book a list making fetish. BUT!
b) But I have ALSO never written a novel without suggesting to Lydia, at some point, that main character has a list making fetish. And. Of course:
c) I HAVE A LIST MAKING FETISH. And so it makes sense that
d) This blog entry is already a list inside a list. SEE?

2) I am abandoning the list. NOW.

I HAVE BEEN MEANING TO TELL YOU! I am IN the latest Jen Lancaster book! She wrote Bitter is the New Black and she is wicked wicked wicked funny, and I mean the wicked in a lot of different ways, all good. I first heard about her books from the Birmingham media rep, Mary Noble, when I was on tour. Mary Noble grabbed me by the ears and told me I HAD to read this woman’s books, “SHE IS LIKE US,” Mary Noble said. “SHE COULD BE IN THIS CAR WITH US, AND WE WOULD BE JUST AS HAPPY AS WE ARE RIGHT NOW.”

Which was pretty happy. I <3 Mary Noble, who has a cosmic understanding of how a grilled cheese sandwich SHOULD be made (On white bread. With butter. And American cheese.) Mary Noble was the rep with me when I was accused of wanting to bake dogs in pies and eat them while cackling in absolute pleasure, which, I will admit, when it comes to my own specific favorite dog, Bagel, and his propensity to eat MY OWN SPECIFIC FAVORITE SHOES and treat the cat box like a salad bar and his recent decision that SIT is a word that means he has the OPTION to touch his butt to the floor IF I am holding a pork chop…well. We have our dark moments, Bagel and I. But I have, in my defense, never YET shot him or even killed him gently. POINTS, ME!

ANYWAY, in Jen Lancaster’s NEW book, she mentions that she is listening to BETWEEN, GEORGIA on audio while at the gym and then she cries while doing curls. Cries in a good way. I think. I HOPE. Anyway. I think it’s weird that I was reading her book and in it there is a scene where she was reading my book. It’s very …picture of a kid on a cereal box holding a cereal box with a picture of a kid holding a cereal box on THAT cereal box, and so on, until the atom splits and infinity is reached or blows up or whatever happens.


The book is Such a Pretty Fat and it was particularly engaging to me as I am currently at WAR with my own butt about what size it is going to be (It was one size before tour, and now it has become a DIFFERENT size, and I* want the old size but my butt likes the new one. And my butt has chocolate and butter and cookies and pasta and CHEETOS fighting on its side,whiel all I have is the elliptical and grim determination. Small wonder my butt is WINNING.) Anyway, point is, if you want to laugh until your brains come out your nose, go get this book.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:46 PM | Comments (14)

May 12, 2008



Scott and I were hanging out with some folks (including my friend Leffy) the other night, and they asked me what I got for Mother’s Day.

Me: Welp, Sam made me a decorative keychain with these little shells that jangle—mother of pearl, but he handpainted them. SO PRETTY! And Maisy decorated a vase and filled it with paper flowers. The flowers were made out of CUT OUTS of her WEE TEENY handprint.

Leffy: AW. What did Scott get you?

Scott: I got her a picture of some flowers.


Me: He is telling the truth. He gave me a picture of Tulips.

Leffy: Scott! You are FIRED!

Me: Of course the picture was displayed on my brand new 22 inch flat screen monitor…

Leffy: REHIRED!!!!

Hee. Geek love is the best kind of love, because it often comes with new electronic equipments.

I hope alla ya’ll other mothers got handmade delightful things from your babies! And I hope you do not have to fire your husbands. Anyone get a vacuum cleaner? Our vacuum cleaner blew up 6 days before Mother’s Day, and I was in TERROR that I would be mom-gifted with a new one. After 15 or 16 years – I lose track –he knows me so much better than that. BUT! In case he’d had a brain fart and accidentally given me the vacuum, I had a line alllll ready for him: “Oh. Thanks. I just wish you had gotten me something you had actually SEEN ME USE before.” *grin*

A monitor is a pretty high end Momday prez, BUT it was a combo---for Mother’s day AND to celebrate our upcoming 15th or 16th anniversary, slated to take place later this month. I forget what exact day, but it IS in May. HEH. I used to know these things, because the day and year were engraved on my wedding band.

But he gave me a GORGEOUS antique eternity band on our tenth anniversary, and I promptly LOST the old ring. (Yes. I know. That seems BAD. But in my defense, it was very ugly. VERY VERY VERY UGLY. Sentimental much? Why, no, thank you.) and the new one is an eternity ring so it CANNOT be engraved so therefore I think I am absolved from ever knowing what day I was marrie,d much less how many YEARS ago that was. It’s not like HE would know the exact date and year if HE didn’t have his original band with the date in it RIGHT ON HIS FINGER like a round, gold, marital CHEAT SHEET.

Also HE cannot be blamed for the ugly original band. It was the cheapest ring in thew store. I think it was like, 10 carat gold embellished with Reynolds wrap and 3 sub-atomic specs of diamond dust they got by windexing the surfaces where actual stones were cut. It was very FLAT looking and…well…ugly, but I picked it out because I was spending so much time at the barn riding at that time, and I wanted a ring that wouldn’t CATCH on stuff and IRRITATE ME when I was mucking about with ponies. So we went to a ring store and we picked his band and then I picked this SCRUTIATING ugly cheapo flat thing and we left them there to be engraved.

A week or so later, he went back to the store to get our bands, and I saw they had accidentally swapped it for this GORGEOUS flowery ring that cost about nine times as much. I looked at it and said, “HONEY! LOOK! THOSE MORONS GOT ME THE WRONG RING!” and marched it back and exchanged for the ugly one, and of course within three years I virulently hated my ring.

It took me another TWO YEARS after I started hating that ring---so a total of FIVE --- before it occurred to me that they had not made a mistake.

Me: Hey Scott, remember when the ring store gave me the wrong wedding band, and it was that flower one and not this ugly cheap one?

Him: *suddenly very busy and not looking at me* Oh. Er…Yes?

Me: Did they REALLY? Or did you just not want me to have such a butt ugly wedding ring.


Me: OOOH! WHERE????!??! Wait --- Seriously!

I finally did get him to confess. He had done it on PURPOSE and picked out a ring he thought LOOKED like me, and it was lovely and flowery and expensive and then when I started hating the ugly one I picked he got me this antique eternity ring that I ADORE and NOW I got a monitor and I EMPHATICALLY DID NOT get a vacuum. I tell you what, one of the NICEST parts about my particular bout of motherhood is that this guy is their dad, and I see all the best bits of him in our kids.

Happy Anniversary, baby. Today and whatever day our anniversary actually is.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:40 PM | Comments (18)

May 9, 2008

The To Didn’t List (part whatever part we are on, and also the end)

Remember the To Didn’t list? It got interrupted by little deers and spiritual cleansing, but it was basically a massive effort to clean up my EMAIL FILES, including all the self mailed ones that said ZOMGAH! BLOG ABOUT THIS!!!

And now? I need that TEENY little lady from Poltergeist to come in here…remember her?

Except instead of HOUSE, she would say IN-BOX.

SO here is the last of it, including others that came in while I was shoveling through:

1) Iron Man is supersonic popcorn fun, Robert Downey Jr. is AWESOME, and there is something to be said for casting actors who are capable of Shakespeare in Love and Chaplan in a big boom-filled summer flick, and the something that can be said is this: It makes the movies that are OBLIGATORY VIEWING for the parents of 11 year old boys a pleasure instead of a duty.

(Do you HEAR me POKEMON franchise, you damp floppy animated MISERY? Get ROBERT DOWNEY JUNIOR TO PLAY PIKACHU and MAYBE I will forgive you the 90 minutes of my life I WILL NEVER GET BACK after I sit through you. PS. If you DO snag RD Jr, I think Pikachu should be shirtless. A lot.)

2) SHOULD I HAVE AN FAQ PAGE? Does anyone ever READ FAQ pages? As it stands, I have slowly built up a sizeable file called “ANSWERS TO FAQS.” But put them on a page? Yes? No? FAQ pages always feel distancing and impersonal to me, but are they actually LESS impersonal than having a file with the answers in my MS word and cutting and pasting answers via email? I feel WEIRD and rude doing that, but at the same time, I can’t type out the same answer anew each time someone asks a question I am often asked…

PRO: If I did have an FAQ page, we could do a contest where you send in SUGGESTIONS for questions that should be ON the FAQ, and sending one would put your name in a drawing or something? What do you think?

3) Huzzah! It is more blathering and COMPLETELY unsolicited advice for writers! YOU’RE WELCOME!

On one of my favorite lists, a writer was trying to market her book to small Christian publishers and having little success because of the material---a little dark. At the same time, she has gotten rejections from agents and editors that say things like, “"Though your piece is certainly compelling and worthy of good home, I do not have a place for it at this time...I hope I rue the day I didn't offer you a contract"

I don’t think she realizes how ENCOURAGING that is! I think part of the problem is that she is deciding ahead of time where her book would fit in the industry, but she doesn’t know the industry. Neither do I, quite frankly, and you probably do not either, Oh Faceless Writer Reading This On The Internets, which is why The Lord in his infinite wisdom made agents.

I thought gods in Alabama was Christian fiction. Hee. Yes. Really. That is where I saw myself selling it…Oops, except it also had graphic sex, graphic violence, and a narrator who used the F word in it about umpty hundred times. SO. No Christian press would touch it. With a 20 foot pole. Not even if the pole had a dead possum on the end of it.

They MIGHT have been willing to touch it with a FIFTY foot pole, provided if the pole had had a stick of Zest Soap on the end, and assuming they could use the pole to stuff the WHOLE bar right into my protagonist's POTTILICIOUS MOUTH. I felt then -- I still feel -- that while the F words were plentiful, not a single one was gratuitous. (DIGRESSION BACK TO THING 2 ---A question that would absolutely have to be on the FAQ would be “Did you HAVE to use the F word so bountifully in gods in Alabama? My EYES are Bleeding! Was it REALLY necessary?” Answer: Yes.) I wasn't willing to let Arlene eat the soap and say things NICERLY.

SO--- YOU may think your book is a romance, but actually it s a thriller. Or vice versa. We are not the most objective viewers of our own work. A good agent knows what presses are looking for which sorts of objects, and as writers, we shouldn't have to worry our pretty head about such things. LA LA LA! That's not our job. I wish our job was "eating petit fours and shopping for VERY expensive shoes, " but alas, that ain't it either. If we move to New York and start networking and meeting every editor in town and researching pub lists for five years, who is going to write the next book? That's what we do. We write the next book.

If you are getting the sorts of rejections from agents that say the writing is good, that means you are getting PAST the query stage and having your MS or a partial of your MS read, and then getting GOOD PERSONAL rejections on top of that. That is a message from above! And the message is, "QUERY MORE AGENTS."

Here endeth the in-box To Didn’ts, and they are all TO ALREADY HAVE BEEN DIDS now. I feel we deserve a cookie.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:44 AM | Comments (21)

May 7, 2008

Treat Fell Out. Who was Left? (Hint: Not Pink Socks)

Treat Fell Out. Who was Left? (Hint: Not Pink Socks) is actually Part 2 of yesterday’s entry, titled, “Treat and Retreat (were sitting in a boat?)”
But it is not here. Hee.

Late last night I suddenly REALIZED it was my day to blog at A Good Blog is Hard to Find so you can find the WHOLE entry, both parts molded together into a single story over THERE.

If you missed yesterday’s entry, just hit the link above for the whole thing, OR, if you were here yesterday, go there and just scroll about halfway down to pick up where I left off. It’s awkward, I AM sorry, but some folks who regularly read THAT blog have not have been here FIRST to read the beginning.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:33 AM | Comments (6)

May 6, 2008

Treat and Retreat (were sitting in a boat?)

I forgot to tell you I was going on retreat! I left on Friday…I was feeling all spiritually clogged and barn sour and hatefully weepy and SO SO SO SORRY FOR MYSELF and I think it was sticking out EVERYWHERE. My best friend is being eaten by her children’s SPRING activity flood (as am I, best beloveds, as are all parents) and so we hadn’t talked in a couple of weeks. She called me and said , “WOW I CAN TELL FROM THE WORDS AROUND THE EDGES OF YOUR BLOG THAT YOU ARE ONE RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC AFTERNOON AWAY FROM HEADING UP TO THE TOP OF A WATER TOWER WITH AN OUZI! WHAT GIVES?”

And I was all, “OH! ‘Scuse me! Is my mental illness showing? Here, let me just tug my skirt down…” And so I tried, but I fast realized I didn’t have NEAR enough cloth. I would have needed a hoop skirt to rival Scarlet O’Hara’s at the BBQ to hide all of the FROTHY layers of lacey mental illness I’d wrapped around myself. “WAHHHHH I am a big fat hateful selfish cannibalistic failure with BAD HAIR WAHHHHH! Who is a sad! Sad! Panda? WHO? MEMEMEMMEME.” Like that.

So I headed off to a TV and traffic free woodland spot with a labyrinth and hiking trails down by the Chattahoochee River, and spent three days pretty much alternately marching around in the weeds and praying, and now I feel----retreated. Which is to say “significantly less crazy, with a firmer grasp on my actual priorities.”

The day before I left I thought, “I will go on retreat in the spirit of BABY BIRD! I will hunker down in a nest and scream and peep with an ENORMOUS OPEN BEAK and be stuffed with the worms of calmness and the worms of happiness and I will be given all good worms! ALL GOOD WORMS FOR ME!”

SO I went, and that first day, I was very weepy and stompy, and I missed my beautiful Television, and I missed my patient and beautiful husband, and I thought to myself, THIS IS USELESS! Where are my good worms??? I AM HOOTING AND PEEPING! I DEMAND THE GOOD WORMS! I came out here to the wilderness to find a TABLE in it. A BANQUET of sanity and grace spread just for me, and instead I found a table spread with ACTUAL WORMS, and NOT the kind that secretly mean peace, the damp squirmy kind…and here, you see, my baby bird and table in the wilderness metaphors met up and began breeding indiscriminately and had to be abandoned.

So Saturday morning I got up at 6 and put on my tennis shoes and went stomping down the trails with a map, like a moron. Because when it comes to choosing the correct fork while out hiking, a map is USELESS to me. I do not SPEAK map. I might as well take a bag of chicken bones and rattle them together and toss them to the earth and then see how they mystically fall to decide directions. Chicken bones, a map, magic 8 ball… same, same, all same.

But I took a map, and I headed into the woods.

Now you know I am not a beauty of the earth person. I know some people look at a sunset or a mountain or some flowers or whatever and they go OH! THE BEAUTY OF THE ERF! OHOHOH! And their eyes get misty and the wander off refreshed or whatever. Me? I say, “Dude. It’s a tree with some blooms on it, and come fall someone is going to have to RAKE that up when the tree poops it all off. Can we go watch TV now?”

But I AM an endorphin person. Hard physical work clears my head and makes me cheerful. SO! Armed with my map and a near psychotic level of optimism regarding my ability to use said map, I marked out a three mile course for myself. Then I put my head down and put my back into it. I am sure there were lots of lovely whatnots along the way, but I was looking at dirt and my feet so I could get a lot of speed without getting a lot of “falling onto my face and breaking it.” The trails were hilly and rooty – very satisfying, and soon I was tearing along them like a little steam engine, puff!puff!puff! very earnest.

A MIRACLE began to happen. Every time I STOPPED and checked the map, I was WHERE THE MAP SAID I SHOULD BE. It was BIZARRE! When the map said I would come to the river, I would come to the river. When the map said I would see the fork leading to the tent campgrounds, LO! There was a fork that led to the tent campgrounds. When the map said the labyrinth would be coming up on my left, THERE IT WAS! MAGICALLY ON THE LEFT! As if the WHOLE Labyrinth had grown centipede feet and creeped from where it USUALLY sat to wherever I was inevitably lost and plopped down just as I came around the corner as a gift to me.

THE GOOD WORMS! THE GOOD WORMS ON MY TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS! I crowed to myself, going even FASTER, and taking up my mis-mated metaphors again in the fervent heat of my delight.

And the whole thing was so VERY miraculous that I assumed it was Good Worms, and trusated it and put my head down, and stomped on trusting it, so that when I got to my last HALF mile, I came BACK to the same little rotty-looking plank bridge over a creek THREE times before I realized I was absolutely and hopelessly and finally rightly and justifiably Lost. As usual.

EEP – Must run! LATE. More tomorrow.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:10 AM | Comments (13)

May 2, 2008

The To Didn’t List, part 3

My friend Carmen had the Best Vacation Idea Ever--- remember when Karen and I went to a lit con and on the way we passed the CRIME AND PUNISHMENT museum and we wanted to stop and sit in Old Sparky and learn about guillotines? Except that as usual we mucked it up?

That Blog Entry gave Carmen and her best friend Stephanie the idea to go on a roadtrip wonderland of BIZARRO SOUTHERN TINY TOURIST ATTRACTIONS called Carmanie's 1st Annual Dark'N'Twisty DirtyBackRoadtrip Cruisapalooza. They will be going to off OFF beat and sometimes profoundly disturbing places – the reallife versions of Bernese Frett’s TRULY creepy museum in Between, Georgia

They are having T Shirts made.
They are making COMP TAPES.
They are SERIOUS.

They are even going to Southern Forest World in Waycross Georgia, home of "Stuckie the Petrified Dog!!" This is literally a dead dog who somehow died while “stuck” IN A TREE, and he now is very petrified and very famous. In Waycross. When he was discovered they plexi-glassed him INSIDE the tree and built a whole touristy thing around HIM. Yes, they did. THEY REALLY DID. Of COURSE they did. OH, How I love Georgia!

Here are a few more of their ODD STOPS!

International Towing And Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum <---true! exists! INTERNATIONAL!

-Road Kill Cafe' (White, GA)

-Oakland Cemetery/ and Six Feet Under Restaurant

-Antique Funeral Museum/Margaret Mitchell Playhouse (How can a FUNERAL be antique?)

-Abandoned Insane Asylums at Central State Hospital and the Flannery O'Connor gravesite & memorial in Milledgeville

Winecoff Hotel (the "Titanic" of hotels)

-Warthen (oldest jail in GA - Aaron Burr was imprisoned there)

-Woolfolk Murders Site & Rose Hill Cemetery (Macon)

Corpsewood Manor (Trion, GA)

Bloodstained Crypt of Little Nina Craigmiles

Bud Jones Taxidermy Museum in Tallapoosa (THEY! HAVE! A! WHOLE! ENTIRE! RHINO! Makes that raccoon look like amateur hour…)

Smithsonian Institute Tick Museum in Statesboro (VIVA LA TICKS!)

I wish I was going! SEND PICTURES!!!!

They have a quite a few more stops. But they missed one – Hey CARMANIE – if you guys head into ALABAMA, you should go see the HELL BILLBOARD AND WATERWHEEL that lies midway between Birmingham and Montgomery---it’s been there as long as I can remember, and I feel it is only a hat vendor and cotton candy stand away from being a legit tourist destination...


Posted by joshilyn at 8:49 AM | Comments (17)