January 27, 2010

Winners and No. Just, No.

The Random Number Generator, that capricious sow, has played favorites and chosen comments 55 and 74 to love, breaking hearts coast to coast as is her wont. OH! RNG! I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU!:

*Loved The Historian, I need to read this one too! Posted by Lynn at January 25, 2010 10:25 AM

*Pick me please! Posted by Mary Beth Bishop at January 25, 2010 10:23 PM

You two, please, send me a snail addy, and I will make sure your copy of The Swan Thieves comes your way.

For those who did not win, I offer twofold consolation. First, I have two more VERY AWESOME surprise give-aways in the next three weeks (one from one of my must-read fave authors). If this is cold comfort (foreshadowy rimshot!) I offer a distraction in the form of so-astonishly-creepy-it-cannot-be-true linkage. According to Sky news, Holiday Inns will offer a new SPECTACULARLY BAD IDEA as a service for crazy people who lack personal boundaries.

Says Sky News: “Holiday Inn, operator of over 4,000 hotels worldwide, will begin to offer a free five-minute "human bed warming service" at it's London Kensington hotel throughout next week. If requested, a willing member of hotel staff will jump in your bed, dressed head to foot in an all-in-one sleeper suit, until your nightly chamber warms up.”


I see this, and am afraid of both the people who are willing warming-pans and the people who would call for this service. It is all going to end in cannibalism, see if it does not. I find I am incapable of imagining a non-cannibal who is going to call room service and ask for a slew of warm perverts in terrycloth body condoms to be deployed to frolic around on their personal sheets.

Have these people never heard of electric blankets? I am actively and rigorously horrified.

OH! Just noticed! The terrycloth body condoms are called “Toasting Suits.” *shudder* Sounds like a tool used by a arsonist-slash-serial-killer on CSI.

I have no words.
Except maybe these: No, thank you!

Posted by joshilyn at 2:52 PM | Comments (32)

January 24, 2010

3Q with Elizabeth Kostova --- Win Free Bookages!

SO. I am going to pass the blog to someone interesting who has things to say, the will to live, And probably QUARTS more blood than I currently am rocking: Elizabeth Kostova.

She wrote The Historian, one of my top ten books for 2005. It was a thinking person’s horror novel, part thriller, part historical fiction, part love story. It reminded me in odd ways of another book I flat love---A. S. Byatt’s Possession---only with a little more bite. *Rimshot*

You probably read it. Most of the world did---it debuted at #1 on the NYT bestseller list. It was about one young girl’s quest to find Vlad The Impaler---AKA Dracula---who would be sorely disappointed if he made a snack stop by my my sad-n-flaccid arteries today.

She has a new book out called The Swan Thieves, and I plan to read it as soon as I can make my stupid eyes focus for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. This is from Katherine Weber’s Publisher’s Weekly review: Kostova's central character, Andrew Marlow... comes across as a sensible, trained therapist...after only the briefest of encounters with his newly hospitalized patient, the renowned painter Robert Oliver, Marlow develops an obsessive desire to solve the mystery of why Oliver attempted to slash a painting in the National Gallery... The Swan Thieves makes clear that Kostova's abiding subject is obsession... The Swan Thieves succeeds both in its echoes of The Historian and as it maps new territory for this canny and successful writer.


If you would like to win one of two free copies of this hardback beauty---good Lord that cover is SO pretty---- then you know what to do. Leave a comment and take your chances with the stubble-legged mistress of pain, that chipped-up-pedicured, would-be seductress we all love to hate as she stomps it out in tatty black fishnets and a second-hand leather bustier, and yes, I do mean the dreaded and dreadful Random Number Generator over at Random.Org. You have until Tuesday, January 26th at midnight EST. As always, the complete rules are stolen from Mir’s shoplicious bargain hunting site, Want Not

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

EK: The title for THE SWAN THIEVES came about in a funny, unglamorous, un-French way, despite the book's real subjects. It can be very hard to find a title, as you know--I'd thought of several and discarded them, and by this time the book was already tied to the theme of swans in art and myth and I was getting desperate. One day I was having coffee with my mother and a novelist friend of ours at a cafe next to a grubby little condo-development lake that usually sported a pair of swans. I noticed they were missing that day and asked about them, and my mother reported sadly that they'd been stolen. "Who would steal a swan?" I asked indignantly. Our friend said, "A swan thief, of course," and we all laughed. Then I suddenly realized that I had the title for my book, and I needed only to tie one of the main paintings in the story to that title. I wrote it down on a napkin.

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

EK: I dedicated the book to my mother, partly because she has always nurtured in me a love of France and the French language and partly for the reason I give in the dedication--because she is such a bonne mère. She has been a huge support for my work and life.

JJ: Your books tend to take us around the world and back...

EK: The characters in THE SWAN THIEVES, like my characters in THE HISTORIAN, do a lot of traveling, something that has been a big part of my education whenever I've managed it. The American characters take quite a few road trips--from DC to western North Carolina, from DC to Maine, from DC to New York City and the Connecticut River, from New York City to North Carolina, and so on. They encounter diners, Civil War memorials, rest areas--things I love in my own drives. In fact, there was so much driving in the book that one of my best readers for the manuscript insisted I cut out many pages of it--which I did, if reluctantly, because I knew I was just indulging my own love of the open road ("Get them out of the car, for Pete's sake!"). I couldn't have made that cut by myself.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:48 AM | Comments (96)

January 22, 2010

Notes from Languishing on a Bed of Pain

Hi. Blog has been dark this week because I am ‘scrutiating ill. It is not interesting. I am tired of my bed. I am tired of staring blank-eyed at daytime TV. On Monday, I thought this was stomach flu, and as such it should have been over in 24 hours, but it is not stomach flu, it is severe and vicious anemia, and it is not over.

I went to the doctor who STUCK A NEEDLE into a rather personal part of my anatomy, and I have thirty boring pills to take for thirty boring days. I have such a short attention span I don’t even like to do a DELIGHTFUL thing over and over and over, so I am grieved to have the recurring pleasure of saying to the snoring, foot-twitch-dreaming dog, “Please stop scraping my arm with your paw,” as I lie in the bed to be funcitement highpoint of every endless hour.

My skin hurts. I am bored and boring. I have nothing to say to you except that apparently it is very important to have blood. If you have blood, I highly encourage you to continue having it, and if you do not, perhaps you should avail yourself of some. Blood makes you able to go up the stairs without getting woozy and having to sit and rest halfway up. This feels like a very gothic and old fashioned kind of illness; I need a white dress and a scented hanky and some interesting agoraphobia to complete the wan cheeked looked I am rocking.

Also I have to tell you this is not a result of my diet because I have learned that when I tell people that I have anemia, they connect it immediately to my fitness program they start assuming I have gone all Pro-Ana and spent the last three weeks sucking endlessly at a single dry lentil until all my blood got irked and ditched me.

This is not the case. My doctor has identified the cause, and it is being addressed and fixed. As for my diet, I am not doing anything radical. I quit drinking alcohol and gave up processed flour and desserts in favor of lean proteins, whole grains and pounds of fresh fruit and veggies. The only person who ever died of that diet died of BOREDOM. And I heard one girl died of a broken heart on this diet, so deeply did she pine for Toblerone. But they both died just CHOCK FULL of blood.

I wish it WAS my diet. I would pay good money to find a physician who would blink at me gravely and say, “If you will only go home and Hoover up an entire bag of Cheetos, preferably washed down by giant icy cosmopolitans and followed by half a box of chocolate covered cherries, you will be set right instantly!”

Posted by joshilyn at 10:11 AM | Comments (26)

January 19, 2010

Tuesday's Link

Today I am over at Five Full Plates, as I am every Tuesday, this time distilling 1,150,000 internet articles on how to dress ten pounds thinner into a single page of lies and nonsense. You're welcome.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more More Lolcats

Posted by joshilyn at 4:32 PM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2010

My Blogger Went To Disney, and All I got Was This Dern Puking/Satanic Goat Story

We are back! I tweeted despairing tweets about vomit-y Maisies, but by day two she was perky and good to go. She even rode Space Mountain and screamed her head off and pronounced it to be, “awesome.”

The worst part was, I HOLLERED at the child while she was feeling all lowly. The first night we were there, Maisy got up, walked a foggy state of semi-consciousness into the bathroom, sleep-puked stealthily into the tub (which we did nto discover until the next morning....), and then started wandering loudly around the hotel room.

I bolted up, blinky-blind and flailing at the covers, and made out her tiny form backlit against the window. She was making snivel noises and borping back and forth between the table and the edge of the bed like a wind-up toy after a three martini lunch.

“What on earth are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m hungry,” the child said.

Not “I just puked the earth in the bathtub,” or even “I don’t feel so good.”
No, she said, “I’m hungry,” and ponged off the the table again and said, “Ow,” and then, “Mama, can you make me a snack?”

I might have responded with...low enthusiasm. But she upped the snivel to actual tears and claimed she was too starving to sleep. I got up and stomped around finding Kashi Cereal bars and juice pouches and grumping at her. She ate about four bites before giving the snack riiiiight back again, with interest, at which point I realized that at seven, she did not recognize the feeling of being nauseous.

Then I felt like poopoo. Mean, un-insightful, hollery, grumpy poopoo.

It was a Total Momfail moment, and no doubt the reason why I was visited by Satan this morning while I was using the dentist’s restroom. I thought at first it was Actual Satan, and I barked out a short OHNOIAMTHETOILETANDISEESATAN scream. But then I realized it was only Satan’s goat. Himself’s Goat was perfectly at home, since all dentists' offices are metaphysical next door neighbors with the sulpherous pits of deepest hell.

Here he is, peering judgmentally out of the wooden door of the restroom which was directly across from the toilet:

It was quite disconcerting.

Speaking of Satan, I have heard from many of you that he is random, and he generates numbers over at random.org. Apparently, commenter # 1 and commenter #68 have rigged a shady deal with him--here they are:

OOH! That looks like a good one -- and I'll have to check out her other books. Have a marvelous time at WDW. Posted by Kim at January 13, 2010 9:50 AM

I'd love to read it! Posted by Kristin at January 14, 2010 11:59 PM

K and K win the two free copies of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents. I might have traded MY immortal soul for something a little more lasting, like “nevernevernever losing at Scrabble.” But hey, we all have our price.

So, Kim and Kristen, send me a snail addy and I will get your prizes out to you, and if you really ARE hooked in with the fella in the deep downstairs? Tell him to come get his pervy goat out of the ladies’ room, love-a-pete.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:48 PM | Comments (12)

January 15, 2010

The End of Pukefest

We FERVENTLY hope. Sam seems too have escaped it. SO far. I am Cautiously delighted and if he makes it all the way home I am going to be building a statue that expresses my gratitude to Lysol in my front yard.

OFF TO DISNEY. Yay. Thank you so much for being nice to me yesterday i was pretty low.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:01 AM | Comments (10)

January 14, 2010

The Stupidest Mom on Earth

AH My brilliant plan for a screen free vacation! No Nintendo! No work!

It didn't take into account my little girl's sudden onslaught stomach flu. She's been up puking since 3. I am hurriedly WEEPING THIS OUT TO YOU on my husband;s laptop (it has NO mouse and a keyboard designed for SMURFS, soo forgive the typos)before he heads into his last day of meetings and I stay here to watc hmy youngest alternate puking into a sterling silver ice bucket (It is a VERY nice hotel. It is a Puke Receptical fit for a PRINCESS) and saying she TRULY feels better and can she PLEASE just go see Mickey.

Sure honey --- Just tlet me help the Mickster into this haz mat suit,

Me, I am alternating between pretending to be cheerful to buck up bothmy puking camper and my blackly disappointed "Can't we just leave her here with the TV remote and go to Universal Pleasure Islands where most of the rides are too big for her ANYWAY???" camper and creeping to the bathroom to have a fast stealth weep over my 600 dollars worth of park tickets and my visions of us meeting Ariel in the Grotto and singing the yo ho yo ho song off key with a thousand animatronic pirates.

I feel so SORRY for mysef and sorry for POOR little sicky Maisy and poor unsick impatient unhappy Sam who will probably have this by tomorrow. Heh.

No screens. Genius move, since most of our vacation is going to be spent in a pukestink room with ONE kids channel. SERIOUSLY, Mr Hilton?? ORLANDO, and NO DISNEY CHANNEL? I didn't think that was LEGAL.

Please say nice things to me now. Seriously. Scott is LEAVING with the laptop for meetings and all I have standing between me and a roaring case of clinical depression is your comments, streaming to me live on DJ Cracky B. Oh. And this ENDLESS spongebob marathon.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:07 AM | Comments (25)

January 13, 2010

3Q with Liza Palmer (And a contest!)

Beloveds, I am out of here until Monday, because I will have no access to the internet, unless you count DJ Cracky B. (Yes, in fact, I did name my cell phone. What? Your cell phone doesn’t have a name? REALLY? Karen’s answers to “i-so-phone-y.”)

Scott and I are taking the kids to Disney World. As we planned the trip, we realized we have never done this before. We generally vacation with my brother’s family and my parents or go to Scott’s mom’s house, and Scott and I have gone on trips alone. We have never, just the four of us, flown/driven someplace far and away for more than a day with no purpose other than our pleasure. Our first family vacation. Weird.

In honor of this momentous event, we all agreed...no screens. NO SCREENS. My hands shake a little as I type this. For me this means I am not bringing the Laptoposaurus: no blogs, no trolling Facebook, no Pathwords, no WoW, no working on novels, and we are not going to watch television. Nothing. Well, I will still be able to tweet from the DJ. I mean, we aren’t becoming COMMUNISTS.

For Sam, this means no Mac, and both kids are abandoning their portable Nintendo Touch Screen Whompulus Hand Held Game-tastic Thingummies. For entertainment, we have each other, and all of the Magic Kingdom unfolding before us, shimmering with promises of princesses and pirates and preternaturally clean toilets. And of course, books:


I am going to read A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents on the plane this afternoon.
I read Liza Palmer’s first book, Conversations with the Fat Girl, and really liked her voice and her sharp humor, so I am quite looking forward to this new one about Grace Hawkes, whose estrangement from her quirky family ends when her father---who left twenty years ago and who has a very spotty past and a mysterious present---has a stroke. I admit the title worried me. It sounded like it might be HEAVY or depressing---NOT the book you want to take to Disney. But Publisher’s Weekly calls it, “breezy feel-good story of family bonding,” and that sounds just perfect. And I trust Palmer to deliver surprising turns and weirdy humor after her fantastic debut.

If this sounds like a book you want to read, too, here’s your chance. You know the drill: Leave a comment before Monday, January 18th at Midnight EST, and I will let the Random Number Generator over at Random.org have his wicked way with all of you. Official rules are here, stolen from Mir’s fantastic bargain shoppitty blog.

JJ: A lot of writers read this blog----how did you come to realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career instead of a personal passion or a hobby.

LP: I've written stories as far back as I can remember. Then came adolescence and my focus turned to merely survival. Anything that set me apart I quickly exorcised. Writing was the first to go. Obviously I felt lost without it. Years later, I was working at a bankruptcy law office in LA when my aunt asked if I wanted to go to Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena for these little Saturday morning writing workshops they were holding. I barely graduated high school and instead of college I chose to work at In N Out Burger, so the prospect of learning how to write outside of a classroom was very attractive for me. That summer I learned about dialogue, setting, how to work full-time and write your first novel and on and on. But, most importantly - and most terrifyingly - I let the genie out the bottle again. I started to care about writing and it wasn't going to allow itself to be buried again.

I wrote Conversations with the Fat Girl (my debut novel) that summer. It was a remarkably bad first draft. 900 pages of vomitous sludge, but, it was a draft. A beginning. A way out of the life I'd settled for rather than the life I wanted.

I found an agent that Thanksgiving, by Christmas we'd sold the manuscript and by the following September Conversations was launching Hachette's new 5Spot line.

I'm still reeling, to be honest. Maybe it's just the caffeine.

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?

LP: To me, location is one of my main characters. I've set each one of my books in California and can't imagine a more fertile ground in which to set my novels. I've grown up here and am constantly awed by its effortless beauty: Los Angeles, Pasadena, Ojai, Montecito, San Francisco, the 101 Freeway, the coast of California. It's all so sensual and lush. I'm tempted to drive PCH right now just talking about it.

On my website I've put up a photo gallery of all the places I've mentioned in all three of my novels. From Silverlake's House of Pies (frequented by Rascal Page in Seeing My Naked) to Pasadena's Europane (Maggie Thompson's favorite bakery in Conversations with the Fat Girl). I love having my characters live and love amidst places that actually exist. I think it adds a level of realism to the novels. And having to do "research" at Joan's on Third, with their cloud cupcakes and crisp americanos, is a task I don't mind undertaking. Daily.

JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?

LP: I am a California writer through and through, so I consider John Steinbeck and Jack London among my influences. And yet it's a very primal influence - almost as if they taught me HOW to be a writer, not so much about the writing itself. Just this past year I made a pilgrimage up to The Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, California. Amazing. You turn a corner and there's the Rocinante. And there's the wooden box Steinbeck made to transport the East of Eden manuscript. It's other-worldly. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was too busy walking around mouth open...just stunned and silenced. High recommended.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:33 AM | Comments (78)

January 11, 2010

Winners and Plates (which is synonymous with losers. But in the good way.)

It is ALMOST Tuesday, so I am over at Five Full Plates

BEHOLD! I have conferred with the random number generator over at Random. org, and it said 22 and 44. Which, I said to RNG, doesn’t seem all that random. Because one is the other, doubled. Stinks of a PATTERN, of a PLAN, of intelligent and quite possibly EVIL design. But RNG insists that those were the two most random numbers that could possibly be picked at that moment, and even though it SEEMS to be a pattern it is not.

Or perhaps it IS a pattern, but not the obvious one. Perhaps it is a pattern that is too big to see, and perhaps it began when the wind blown back from the bullet that killed Wild Bill Hickock changed the course of a pollen-drunk moth, and if we could follow that moth’s next move and the fall out from it, then we would understand Chaos Theory.

ALAS! I currently understand Chaos Theory about as well as anyone ELSE who only paid attention to the Geek-Chic Hawtness of Jeff Goldblum when he explained it with all those breathy pauses to Laura Dern in Jurassic Park.

But if you did not win, well. We know who to blame. Chaos theory. Or moths. Or dead gunslingers who were probably actually hung if I took the time to google it. Not sure. All I am sure of is that it was NOT the fault of Mr. Goldblum. Who is still lookin’ pretty dern good on whatever Law and Order that is. Just sayin’. Also just saying that I will post another 3Q with a give-away THIS VERY WEEK, and another the week after that. SO! FALTER NOT AND BE NOT DISMAYED! You will have two more chances in January for the moths of random to exhale in your direction.

22 and 44 were these BILLIE and LYNNE:

That is amazing luck to have come across an agent that easily.
Posted by Billie at January 7, 2010 11:40 AMv

Sounds like a wonderful read. I love this type of book.
Posted by Lynne at January 7, 2010 5:10 PM

If you guys get me SNAIL ADDIES, Miriam will get you your prizes.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:40 PM | Comments (9)

January 10, 2010

3 Drive By Bloggings

1) It is the very last day to leave a comment and be entered in the drawing to win one of two copies of Roses... The entry is below. January is another month like JUNE where I resolved to have a book give-away every week. SO. Even if that HATEFUL number generator bruises your pure pink heart with his cruel and random ways, you can crawl back to Tara and puke up a radish and wave your fist at him and remind him that tomorrow is another day.

2) The only New Year’s resolution I managed to make in a TIMELY fashion was to make AT LEAST THREE MORE later and actually stick with them. So, I am going to resolve things. Resolutely. With a firm chin and a spine so rigid that I if I owned a BURN, WITCH, BURN T-shirt I could qualify as a Puritan. I have combed the comments and am stealing and adapting my favorites.

a) WIN the 5FP challenge. This is a gimme, and a cheaty because I did notthink of it as a New Years resolution when I made it in October. But clearly it IS one. And counts. One down.

b) From Dianna, I am stealing the resolution to accept compliments gracefully, with a THANKS or a HOW KIND OF YOU TO SAY instead of my usual toe scrubbing disbelief that leads to protestations of truth-telling and the fervent reiteration of the compliment that made me all shifty-eyed and diffident in the first place. This means my husband should resolve to tell me I am smart and talented and gorgeous and delightful and even tempered and charming and super, ALL THE TIME NOW, every minute, sometimes with bouquets of daisies or French Chocolates or expensive bath salts, so I can PRACTICE accepting compliments. *angelic smile*

c) From MANY people I amalgamated and stole the idea of becoming a more Whole Assed Person. Right now, I do most of the things I do in a half-assed way. Some days I am pleased to manage quarter-assed-ness. I want to do everything I do fervently and completely and well, and that means: Saying NO to things I do not have time or the talent set to go Whole Ass at. Throwing myself---whole ass first---into the things I say yes to. Not being lazy. Not procrastinating.

My friend Julie has the same resolution, but she put it a different way. Her pre-schooler, Max, is in the towel-cape-wearing, flapping around the house saving the universe stage. He likes to put on his underpants OUTSIDE His jeans, because Superman and Batman both do it, so it must be cool.

The other day she was trying to make him take off his outside underwear before they left for Target. He balked, and she said, “Think of all the people you have seen at the Target. Not a one of them has ever been wearing their underwear outside their pants. Wouldn’t they look silly if they did?” And he said, “Of course they would, Mommy. But this is because they are just regular people, is why. I AM A SUPER HERO.”

Well, duh.

She did make him take them off, but when they got home, not only did she let him put them back on, but she put on a pair and rallied her two older children to put a pair of THEIR underpants on over their pants. Then they all galloped around the house saving the earth. This is HER year to be whole assed, too, even it means putting her underpants on over her jeans. That’s how I want to live, too.

3) If you noticed All The Cool Chicas on Facebook posting COLORS to their updates, it was part of a fast spreading and rather clever breast cancer awareness meme. My FAVORITE response came from my friend Chuck (Who was my counselor at Wiregrass Christian Youth Camp MANY MANY moons ago):

(ahem) — For the record, only as of 12:16pm EST Friday have I learned that these color lists signify bra color in breast cancer awareness. Yesterday I figured they were just some random "ooh, let's all name a color" fad, so I casually posted "magenta" above. Now slightly more enlightened, I, uhhh, hereby withdraw that entry.

Replace it with mauve.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:29 AM | Comments (8)

January 7, 2010

Three Questions with Leila Meacham (Yes, Virginia, It has a Prize Drawing. Phear the RNG...)

I am still working on my New Year’s Resolutions, mostly by reading yours and trying to picture myself taking them on. I wish more of you had resolved to eat whole crowds of HoHos. I am trying to detox and therefore off all processed foods, white flour, sugar, and alcohol, and the one that is REALLY bothering me is the SUGAR. A good way to commit a foolproof murder would be to talk your intended victim into dipping their head in a vat of melted dark chocolate with candied orange rind and then send them to waft fragrantly back and forth in front of my house. I’d have that head off and gobbled by the third pass.

So far all I have resolved is to think about this crap earlier next year, as it will be JUNE before I decide what vast soul-landscape improvements to rigorously fail at accomplishing this year. I have been READING a lot recently, mostly thanks to my friend Miriam at Hachette who sent me a box of tasty ARCS. (Her take on resolutions? “I think [they] are silly and generally resolve to do things like ‘be a better liar...’” She is my hero.)

One of the books she sent me was Roses which Library Journal endorses, saying,” Readers who like an old-fashioned saga will devour this sprawling novel of passion and revenge. Highly recommended.” Publishers Weekly calls Roses an “enthralling stunner, a good old-fashioned read.”

I agree with them. I ate this multigenerational tale of two families warring it up across Texas history with the same alacrity with which I would gobble the chocolate coated candy head of your most mortal enemy. It reminded me strongly of being twelve and stealing my mother’s copy of The Thorn Birds and reading it while nomming a heap of equally illicit Carob chips pilfered from the baking cabinet. I got righteously high on lice and forbidden passions and faux chocolate. (I don’t mean I had lice. I mean the lice incident in Thorn Birds, remember?) That’s how I felt reading this book, too, but alas, alas, without the candy.

If sprawling family sagas are your cup of tea, Miriam is providing two hardback, first edition copies as prizes. You knowThe Rules, stolen shamelessly from my OTHER friend Mir’s bargain-hunter-shopping blog, Want Not. The basic version, you leave a comment here before midnight, EST on SUNDAY, JANUARY 10TH, and then we let the ice-cold cruelty of the Random Number Generator love as it wishes.

And now, Three Questions with Leila Meacham:

JJ: How did you find an agent?

LM: This is one of those It’s Who You Know (which doesn’t work as often as the adage would imply). One Saturday night at a dinner party, the guest seated next to me asked if I’d finished the book I was writing. I told her that I had. Monday morning she called to say something like: “Leila, I hope you won’t be mad at me, but I called my niece who is married to David McCormick, a literary agent in New York, and I told her that David should read your book. My niece told me that you should e-mail him.”

I was aghast. First, I had no idea that Louise even knew a literary agent, let alone was related to him. Second, I’d read that David McCormick does not like to be approached by e-mail in regard to manuscripts. Third, e-mail him? What was I to say? I hadn’t even composed a synopsis of my nearly 700 page novel! How would I introduce myself? And why would he care that a friend of his wife’s aunt had written a novel. Didn’t everybody?

But, I was between a rock and a hard place. I’d offend Louise if I didn’t do something, and I might offend her niece if, by chance (a big if) David McCormick should be looking to hear from me. So, I sent up a quick prayer to ask for guidance in writing the synopsis and not long afterwards, I fired it off to the e-mail address Louise had given me and wrote something like: “Tell me to go away if you do not wish to be approached in this manner.”

He did not tell me to go away. Instead he e-mailed me back that the novel “sounds intriguing” and asked me to send him the manuscript. That was around Christmas time, 2008. In the second week of the New Year, after reading the full text, he accepted the book for representation.

JJ: What do you think of the cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when writing the book?


LM: I think the cover is beautiful, probably the most tactile cover I’ve ever seen. When Deb Futter, editor-in-chief, introduced herself to me over the telephone after the book had been accepted for publication, one of the first things she said was, “The cover of this book deserves to be one of the most knock-down-dead covers ever seen in the publishing world.” I couldn’t imagine it, frankly. I could see the title for some reason, but not the artwork. We had to do a little jinking to get the colors of the petals just right, but the artist succeeded, and it has garnered much praise. I’m enormously pleased.

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

LM: Long ago and far away, it seems now, I had another title in mind. It was appropriate to the story and summed it up nicely, I believed. However, the more the symbolic significance of the rose was woven into the novel—what it represented to the families—I could see the title only and simply as ROSES.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:50 AM | Comments (85)

January 5, 2010

Four Full Shoes

Today, like every Tuesday, I can be found over at Five Full Plates. This time, instead of just having fun with body dysmorphia, I am also having fun with shoes that are going to kill me and the IRS. All I need is a delightful case of scabies to make it a Fun Quadfecta.

Below is an ADDENDUM, so go there first if you want the following paragraphs to make ANY kind of sense. Of course, this is FTK, so making sense is not a hard and fast requirement...
The top half of that blog entry over there is 50% dirty lie. I did not, in fact, buy those shoes. I TRIED with a pure heart and good intentions to buy them, but after I posted the blog entry CLAIMING I had bought them, I got a very terse, reason-free note from the shoe vendor telling me that my order had been cancelled. It then said I should feel free to “try to shop again.” Which seems a little like something an old west shoe vendor would say while aiming a shotgun at a shoe-rustling gunslinger. “TRY to shop again. I dare ya.”

I did though. I DID try to shop again, only to discover the vendor was now out of my size. As was every other possible vendor---the black clogs I wanted were not in my size ANYWHERE.


I bounced to e-bay in a thundering snit and exercised an angry and ill advised BUY IT NOW on a discontinued style of Masai Barefoot Technology Mary Janes (pictured above) for almost 170 dollars. They’d been listed by a highly reliable black market shoe-source named “Lotsofsale.”

I have never spent this much on a pair of shoes IN MY LIFE and the thought that the current style of black Mary Jane MBTs is 250 bucks is not comforting me. It also did not comfort me to realize that the vendor had NOT been out of my size when I ordered. That they had, in fact, cancelled my order to snipe the VERY LAST PAIR of clogs in my size on the ENTIRE INTERNETS because I had never updated my credit card information, and that card expired January of 2010. HEH.

I always thought if I was going to spend a ridiculously self indulgent amount of foldy green cash monies on shoes, they would be at least three times that price and look more like, you know, THIS:

Posted by joshilyn at 12:08 PM | Comments (19)

January 3, 2010

Resolution Retrospective (or, Five Years of Abject Failure)

I foolishly believed I would be able to flit back through the last five Januaries worth of blog entries and see a record of my resolutions. Because isn’t that what a blog is for? Keeping a record of the important goals and moments and decisions that make up your life? Hint: No. A blog is for a) whining and b)cataloging the amusing antics of pets, especially if they have a gas problem.

My plan was to do some spooky statistic-y Math---but I would call it something else to keep from scaring myself off, like ary-Scay ath-May, or Word Based Fact Analysis or Non-Numbery Guestimationlike Activity. The point was to see exactly how many resolutions I made each year and how successful I was historically about keeping them.

My hypothesis:

Due to my competitive nature I would have succeeded in keeping at least one or two resolutions in the long term.

Due to my extremely short attention span, I would have kept the vast majority of my resolutions for a brief time before failishly forgetting they existed.

Due to my mercurial temperament, I would have EPICLY failed at least one or two by doing the exact opposite of what I had resolved, probably within forty-eight hours, probably also publicly and at the top of my lungs.

I decided my success rate might be 8 - 10%. A big fat F, no matter how you do the Ma--- Non-Numbery Guestimationlike Activity.

What I discovered----ALAS!---was even more fail-tastic than THAT:

In 2004-2005, I posted no resolutions, opting instead to post a giddy resolution meme in which I answered a series of year-in-review questions without taking more than three of them remotely seriously. The few I did take seriously...well nothing has changed. For example, here are two of the questions and my answers:

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Approve of things.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Had they been asked yesterday, and I had I been in a truthsome mood, these queries would have been answered in the exact same way THIS year. *Sigh* On the other hand, I never resolved to CHANGE those behaviors, just cataloged them, and so it is no small wonder that I am still indulging in delicious disapproval tinged with pride-n-snide and engaging in moderate to heavy sulking.

I should have resolved to approve more and sulk less...but instead I made no resolutions at ALL. The closest I came, Best Beloveds, was telling you that everyone ELSE should resolve “to NEVER remove any extra fat cells they might have hanging around and pump them into their LIPS.” I stand by this sound recommendation, but having posted NO resolutions, my score for that year is pretty much zero.

2005-2006: I did post resolutions. They were HUGE and AMBITIOUS and LIFE CHANGING. I was going to 1) clean out my office and 2) fix the V key on my laptop.

Looking at the office NOW, it is obvious that I never QUITE got around to #1. At this very moment, my office is a pornographic filth-wonderland where wildly mating dust bunnies cavort shamelessly behind, in front of, and on top of towering piles of toys and trashes and kiddy art projects and junk mail and printed drafts and, of course, books----some read, some half-read, some unread, and ALL of them filthy. Not filthy in the good way. Just like, chocolate smeared pages, ripped covers, fine patinas of dusts on the ones I finished months ago. I can well believe that not only did this slough of despond not get cleaned out in 2006, it has not been cleaned SINCE. Fail.

Also, I never did anything to fix the V key, unless you count turning the laptop upside down and banging it to dislodge a HOST of muffin crumbs.” Which I do not, because even after the muffin crumb-ectomy, the V stuck like a booger until it stopped working entirely and I gave the laptop to my brother. My brother? Had the V key working within 2 days through the novel approach of “taking it to be fixed.” Faaaaail. Score: Zero.

In both 2006 – 2007 AND 2007 - 2008: I do not even mention the concept of resolutions in any entry I can find. It is as if I am living blissfully unaware that NOW is the time to Become a Better Person Forever. Score: Zero.

Finally 2008-2009: all I said on the subject was, "I resolve to have no resolutions....Oh. Oops."
I even failed at not having any. Immediately. Which I think brings my zero down to a negative ten.

I am a tragic creature. I resolve to do better this year---in some ways I already have because Five Full Plates kicked in January first so THAT times out as if I had planned subconsciously for it to be a resolution all along. I resolve to believe I meant to do that. I ALSO resolve to have more, harder, longer, loftier goals (without the use of Candian Pharmecueticals) and to post them here so I can see, when 2010 ends, if I have kept ary a one of ‘em.

I will invent and post MINE this week. What are yours? You have to tell me, because by “invent’ I suspect I actually meant “plagiarize yours.”

Posted by joshilyn at 12:57 PM | Comments (28)