Tag Archives: Toni McGee Causey

Reading in Q3 – July

July was a month for freelancing, which meant lots and lots of good reading.

While I Live, John Marsden – If you love Hunger Games, you have to read Marsden’s Australian series, which starts with Tomorrow, When the War Began. I think of it as a precursor to Hunger Games, because it features a strong, kick-ass girl as a protagonist and kids fighting a war. While I Live is the first of a trilogy, The Ellie Chronicles, that follows the Tomorrow series. It features Ellie and the gang recovering during an uneasy peace following the treaty that ended the war. Except this “peace” includes some pretty brutal stuff, as well as Ellie’s struggle to run her family’s farm and take care of her and Gavin. I was 19 when I read started reading the Tomorrow series, so it’s a bit odd and cool to read the follow-up trilogy after experiencing The Hunger Games.

A More Noble Cause, Rachel L. Emanuel + Alexander P. Tureaud, Jr. – Read the 225 review here.

The Cinderella Deal and Trust Me On This, Jennifer Crusie – These are plain fun and also, funny. Toni introduced me to Jennifer Crusie. I read all of Crusie’s books that Toni had while I was staying at her house during Gustav. The intro to Trust Me On This says it’s Crusie’s first screwball comedy, which was odd to me because all of her books seem like screwball comedies to me. They’re comedic romances which usually feature a cast of interesting characters and implausible but interesting events, if I’d have to describe them.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling – This was my third time reading the last Harry Potter book. I probably shouldn’t have read it right before seeing the last movie, because I was extremely conscious of the differences between the book and the movie, which has never really bothered me before. It was pretty cool to watch Part 1 of the last movie while re-reading the book, though. And it’s always fun to re-visit this world, which is so comforting and real.

Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris – I read the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series back in December of 2009 and bought this second book soon after, but didn’t feel terribly compelled to read it. I’d enjoyed the first book, but wasn’t caught up. Reading this second one, I did get well and truly caught up. So much so that I asked my mom to find the next few books at the used bookstore we love and send them to me. It boggles my mind that some people don’t realize that True Blood is based on a series of books, this series, but several people have been surprised to find that out. Now that I’m more invested in the books, I have to say that while there are a lot of differences between the show and the books (of course), Anna Paquin has really nailed Sookie. But maybe I think that because I picture Paquin’s Sookie in my head while I read. 🙂 Well, regardless, the books confirm that I really prefer Eric to Alcide and Alcide to Bill.

Hollywood Car Wash, Lori Culwell – Read the NOLAFemmes review here.

Club Dead and Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris – Eating these up like candy, reading one book every three days or less. Dead to the World may be my favorite so far, but as an Eric fan, that’s probably to be expected. Also, since this book covers the current season of True Blood, it was interesting to see Sunday’s episode. It diverged enormously from the book and in some ways, I was okay with that and in some ways, I was actually a little disappointed.

I read a TON of books in August and I’ll post my mini-reviews later this month.

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Spicy Girl at rest

So, I had surgery earlier this week to remove my gallbladder and I’ve been recovering since then. Unfortunately, that means I have to miss out on all the parades this week. Before going into the surgery, I spoke with my doctor and actually asked him, “So… there’s no way I can go to the Saints parade tonight, right?” And, bless him, he did everything he could not to say no outright. “Well,” he said, stretching it out for a day and a half. “Even if your friend drops you off and parks, even if you don’t have to do any walking, you’re going to find it very hard to stand for very long and people will be nudging you and pushing you. You’ll be very uncomfortable.” I sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m not going to go.”

Earlier, when scheduling the surgery, I’d spoken with him about any dietary changes I might have to consider. I’d sworn to my friends I *was not* giving up spicy food, no matter what. “You’ll do what the doctor tells you to do,” Jamey insisted threateningly/lovingly. My mamma mia! had her gallbladder out years ago and she was told she’d have to change her diet significantly. She’s remained convinced ever since that my love for spicy food is to blame for the stomach trouble I’ve had for years.

Luckily, my doctor refuted that. My diet won’t have to change significantly (at least once I’ve recovered), which is also good news. When I’d brought it up with him at the scheduling, I’d mulishly said, “Cause I’m going to India later this year and crawfish season is coming up. I don’t want to give up spicy food.” He said I wouldn’t have to. “So, I can still wait for the last batch of crawfish at the boil?” I asked and he laughed and said yes, if I’d recovered from the surgery.

Once, at Beck’s favorite Thai restaurant, I was called “Spicy Girl,” by our waitress. She warned me that what I’d ordered was really spicy and I said, “Great, bring it on! I like it spicy!” This from a girl who’d once never really eaten spicy food. I was raised by a German and an Irishman, from Ohio and Indiana respectively. I think parsley and some black pepper are about as spicy as we got growing up. But moving to Louisiana, embracing the cuisine(s) around me, changed all that.

At Indian restaurants, the waiters eye my super fair skin when I order lamb vindaloo and warn me how spicy it is. I have to assure them that no matter how red I turn, no matter how much my eyes water, I like it spicy.

The evening after my surgery, I selected one of the cans of soup I’d bought the day before. While waiting for the soup to heat up, I picked up the can and my eye caught on the little label – “zesty!” Oh no. I was told to eat a bland diet while recuperating. I thought I’d selected some safe soups, but apparently a zesty one found its way into my shopping cart. So I warmed up some safer chicken soup instead and contented myself with thoughts of the crawfish boils to come.

So what’s a girl to do when it’s too cold to go out, when she’s too weak for the parades rolling oh so close to home? I’ve been doing a lot of reading, some writing when my mind’s clear enough. I did my taxes last night, which was an adventure.

Undergoing this surgery is one reason why I was so affected by this piece about a woman who’s saying she’ll marry for health insurance that I stumbled upon this week. It explains just why we need a better system of health care in this country in a nutshell, gives the issue a very personal face.

And I’ll leave you with some fun Saints stuff, since I missed the parade on Tuesday (I got to watch it on t.v., though!):

Drew Brees (and son Baylen) make a very cute diaper commercial.

New Orleans was the place to be for the SuperBowl. (I didn’t have to say it, they did!)

And check Toni out in BR tonight, since I can’t. And online, which I could do, as part of B&N’s Book Clubs.

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Filed under freelance work, pop culture, weirdness, writing updates

Fess Up Friday – the way too long edition

So far, 2010 has involved a lot of being sick and already several doctor’s visits (surgery next week). Lots of time back and forth to Baton Rouge interviewing folks for my latest 225 piece about The Dictionary of Louisiana French – will have to do a post soon on the behind-the-scenes story of this latest piece, because it’s been fascinating.

My goal was to do a NaNoWriMo-like pace in January, trying to finish any new writing that might be necessary for the 3rd draft. I set my goal word count kind of arbitrarily at 30,000. I achieved just over 11,000 new words in actuality. Half of those words would probably never have been written, if it weren’t for Ronlyn.

As I reported last month, Jamey “fixed” my novel. But I wasn’t fixed–my process wasn’t. I’ve had a thousand little revelations (and maybe a dozen giant ones) in the years I’ve been working on this book. The fact that I’m still surprised to learn something about the book or my characters or my process or myself still surprises me, but I suspect the learning (and the surprise) will never go away.

I wrote Ronlyn an email asking her for advice and something in my email triggered an awareness in her that I needed something other than (in addition to) what I was asking for, so she suggested we talk on the phone. I wrote her back and said I was going to Baton Rouge and why not get coffee. We met at a coffeeshop I wrote a lot of my thesis at, which is a lot more active in the middle of the day than it used to be, when I was there. Ronlyn came in with a bandage on her chin (she writes about that injury and another in her newest Nervous Breakdown piece). We chatted about her injury and the day I’d been having and then segued into The Issue(s).

Like a writing therapist, she listened. A lot. And then diagnosed The Issue. “Your process isn’t working.” In short, I had developed habits and rituals that didn’t work for me. Ever, or anymore, that was hard to tell. But they didn’t work. My body would hurt if I didn’t get up and go to Cheers everyday and try to get one of my favorite tables. Except, I would sit there all day and not write. I was there, butt in chair as they say, but I was restless, I was annoyed, I was undisciplined.

The other problem, as I then confessed to Ronlyn, was that I was afraid I’d lost my joy in writing. For good. “It’s almost never fun to write anymore. I remember when it used to be the thing I always wanted to do most.” I was paralyzed because I was afraid that my book sucked and it wasn’t satisfying or fun or pleasant to write to top it all off. But the worst part was that I was afraid writing would never be fun again, that it would always be arduous torture.

Ronlyn then said several things that consoled and comforted me, that woke me. She made some great suggestions, too. First, she reassured me that not all books are enjoyable to write. But, clearly, this book needs to be written because it won’t let me go. Writing can and will be fun and satisfying again, she convinced me.

Next, she suggested that I find new places and ways to write, as my habits and rituals are failing me. She urged me to go back to handwriting, which is how I wrote until I went to college. She gave me another piece of advice that I’ll have to keep private, but which is embodied by the picture below.

The above picture was taken in St. Andrews, Scotland. This is the place where I did my first writing in several months, after finishing my thesis draft of the book. I was weary and burnt out and in Scotland was lucky enough to sit in on my friend Rachel Marsh’s writing group. My first writing in months was an assignment for that group meeting, the Yellow House assignment.

I came home from that visit with Ronlyn in Baton Rouge and I vowed to handwrite in a notebook for an hour every day, before doing anything else. I’ve managed that most days. Sometimes, it’s regrettably at the end of the day and I have missed a few days, what with illness, doctor’s appointments and Saints games. But, I’ve written more days than I haven’t. And I was shocked at how relatively easy and yes, enjoyable, the process was. Several people have told me this over the years and handwriting used to be my primary method. I knew it was true that handwriting would probably be more fun and efficient in the long run for me, but I stubbornly clung to my broken rituals, trying to shove my creativity into the shape of my habits like a difficult puzzle piece.

And then, I was lucky enough to attend the Peauxdunque Writers’ Alliance retreat in Hopedale, Louisiana and I had an amazing, peaceful time. We prepared meals together, toasted J.D. Salinger and had shop talk in incredibly beautiful surroundings and it gave me just that extra bit of creative energy I needed. Below is a picture of the writers at the retreat. Though it’s highly overexposed (we’d set the timer on a camera and were standing on a dock in extremely cold weather), I really enjoy the expressions on our faces.

Bryan, Susan, Terri, Emilie, Tad and Maurice

Recently, someone asked me what the new timeline is for the book and I froze. I don’t know. I’d hoped, ambitiously, to have all the new writing done in January and then just breeze through a shellac/edit, sculpt those new pieces into place and then pop it into the EasyBake. That’s not going to happen. I still want to be done soon. I’m still restless. But I’m figuring it out. I’m that much closer.

One piece of good news is that every time I’ve been asked this year what I do for a living (at doctor’s offices, etc.), I have answered, “self-employed writer.” With hardly any hesitation, too!

But while I’m eliminating my hesitation and waiting for a reasonable timeline, I have much bragging on to do.

Jamey is in 225, talking about her recent and perennial reading. Also, she has finished and exceeded the 32 Day Challenge, which means she wrote every day of the first 32 days of the year. And she’s still going. Not one single day off.

Barb’s book More of This World or Maybe Another was just named a Barnes and Noble Discover Awards finalist.

Dave’s newest film project, Night Catches Us, premiered at Sundance.

Toni is appearing at Baton Rouge’s CitiPlace Barnes and Noble February 12th at 7 p.m.

The Saints are playing in the SuperBowl on Sunday. That’s certainly something to brag on, as well.

Check out this picture I found of some of my favorite people:

Classic. James Wilcox, Jamey Hatley, Ronlyn Domingue and Clarence Nero

And some presents to leave you with:

Pink performs an aerial routine similar to what my character would be doing at the end of my book.

The Legend of Jeremy Shockey – so funny I almost ran the car off the road while listening to it on the radio.

And five seasons of Lost reduced to under 10 minutes by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, below. My thoughts as I started watching it? Ohmygawd, I watched all 104 hours of Lost in December. But trust me, I’m going to enjoy watching the upcoming 16 hours of Season 6 just as much, if not more.

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Filed under bragging on, Fess Up Friday, freelance work, Friends, pop culture, t.v., writing updates

Emilie, WHERE have you been?!?

Whew, y’all. Life got hectic there for a while. Unbelievably so.

First. NaNoWriMo is pretty intense and that took up some of my time, getting that 1,667 words written every day. I did some other freelance gigs, as I always do, kept my eye out for jobs and even interviewed for one.

And then Words and Music came to town, as it does every year round this time. My approach was different this year than any other since I started going. I recently “finished” my book, only to realize that it was a pretty solid second draft, but that there’s so much I need and want to change. Therefore, I’m about to go into the third draft, which I hope will be the last until it sells and my editor has comments. Wishful thinking, but hopefully not that far off. So since I don’t have something to sell at the moment and so many of my friends were going to be in town, I decided that this year was all about my friends. Everything I did at Words and Music would revolve around them and spending time with them. And though conference days are always crazy long and overwhelming and that was true at Words and Music, too, I wasn’t really stressed out or overwhelmed and I enjoyed my friends so very much. For instance?

Thursday was the first day of the conference, for me. I got to catch up with S., who moved to St. Louis after we both graduated the MFA and I haven’t seen her since probably last years W&M, though we talk online regularly and sometimes on the phone. She was staying with P., and the three of us met up with Jamey and Barb at Stanley’s (yum) and then for cocktails with conference folks at the Faulkner House Bookstore. Where we met up with our friend Jane, who won the novel-in-progress this year (congrats, Jane!) and I met Helen Krieger, who I quickly bonded with. Especially after I asked her to guest lecture for my class the following week. Helen and her husband Joseph Meissner just finished production of a feature-length film based on Helen’s short stories, called Flood Streets. On Friday morning, I witnessed the enormously fun and inspiring panel that both Jamey and Barb sat on, along with Tom Franklin and their moderator Michael Murphy. I spent the day having incredible meals, conversations and experiences that included a Pimm’s Cup and lunch at the Napoleon House, a room full of women writers, a gorgeous dinner at the Monteleone and cocktails back at the Napoleon House again, replete with tall tales. On Saturday, I had lunch with my Papa Bear who was in town working near the conference, then dived back in, enjoying a day that included friends, Dennis Lehane, opera and an unforgettable dinner with entertainment provided by Wes & Eugene’s Cabinet of Wonders. This was a mind-blowing combination of comedy and music by writers and musicians such as Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding), Eugene Mirman, Laura Lippman, Rick Moody, Laurie Lindeen, Tom Piazza and Soul Asylum‘s Dave Pirner, who sang “Runaway Train,” for us. You can see what I mean by mind-blowing. Where else can you have all these experiences in one place?

And that’s not even mentioning my lovely friends who placed this year. I mentioned it before in a bragging on post, but it bears repeating. Congratulations to: Jane Stubbs (novel-in-progress winner and finalist, and short story semi-finalist), Jessica Deckard (essay winner), Cara E. Jones (essay finalist), Maurice Ruffin (short story finalist), Jenn Nunes (novel-in-progress finalist as well as short story semi-finalist), Helen Krieger (novel-in-progress finalist and short story finalist) , Susan Kirby-Smith (novel-in-progress finalist and poetry finalist), Sean David Hobbs (novel-in-progress semi-finalist), Penelope Dane (novel-in-progress finalist), Missy Wilkinson (novella finalist – TWICE!), Duncan Kemp (novel-in-progress finalist), Maggie Collins (novel finalist), J. Ed. Marston and Tad Bartlett (novel finalist), and Mark Spitzer (novel finalist). In the chaos of all the talented people on that list, I’m sure I might’ve forgotten somebody or mistyped something, so check out all the results here. Regardless, the clear result is that these people rock. We’ve got something good going on in Louisiana, especially New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

On Sunday, I recovered, packed for Baton Rouge and saw New Moon with a friend. May talk about that, soon. Haven’t decided yet…

And then, I spent an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting and wonderful three days teaching a screenwriting course to high school kids at LSU. This was so rewarding! And did I mention exhausting? For all of us, I imagine, me and the students. I think I exploded their brains. These kids were hanging out with me on their Thanksgiving vacation and it was just an incredible experience that, with any luck, I’ll repeat in the summer in a longer week-long format. We all knew this pilot 3-day session was too much information crammed into too little time, but we had to try it out. And I think the kids and I did pretty darn well together. I was very excited to see their ideas for movies and can’t wait to see what they do with them. But, if I exploded their minds, teaching in that format killed my body, especially after all the NaNo writing this month. So, I rewarded myself with a  massage at my favorite place in Baton Rouge. It was tip top and lovely and just right.

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, first an early one with Toni‘s family (who I adore), then on the actual day with B. and friends at her place and then some lovely friends from grad school at an apartment that two people I mentioned in association with W&M have lived in over the years (S. and now, P.). Lol. Triple the turkey for me this year, though I didn’t get to see my family.

On Friday, before returning to New Orleans, I was lucky enough to meet a fellow with the same name as a famous singer, who is a writer and comedian. I saw J.‘s NaNoWriMo sticker on his laptop, talked with him a bit, invited him to sit with me and then had my first ever Word Wars. We did three half hour word wars back to back and though I beat him each time, he was definitely further along than me and finished his 50,000 words first. And I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I hadn’t met him. He gave me a giant boost that day with the word wars and just meeting him. It helped get me back into the NaNoWriMo mindset after a lot of distractions.

And that brings us full circle. Keep your eyes peeled for NaNoWriMo recap and wrap up posts from both me and my sister, Aimee, who I mentioned in my guest blog at the end of October, NaNoWriMo Saved My Life. In that post, I talked about how Aimee and I used to write together as kids and had both sort of lost our way with writing in recent years and how we were both attacking NaNoWriMo this year. Check it out while you’re waiting for those recaps.

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Guest blogger – Bobbie Faye Ate My Brain

My sister Aimee writes too and she’s a big reader. Recently, she read Toni’s Bobbie Faye books and loved them. So, when she sent me a message complaining about a household problem, I was astounded by how much her “voice” in the complaint sounded unlike her own and almost…kinda…like…Bobbie Faye. It was like my sister was possessed. Check it out:

Okay, no need to freak out. Completely. Really. It’s okay. Despite the huge hole in the back of the house. And the leaking roof. And the electric short in my son’s bedroom. And the rats. Did I just say rats? Um, yeah, I’ll be moving out now. Or calling the health department. Can you condemn my house for me? Or, I don’t know, Ratbusters? Home Makeover? Don’t know whether to vomit or cry or just run like hell. Okay I shouldn’t have said that, but nothing else seemed appropriate. Freakin’ hole, mold, dripping water, rats. Rats in my house! And I almost freakin’ got electrocuted turning on the light. And did I mention I’m now living with rats? My son is NOT going back in that house. At least not until it is efficiently bombed. And can I request an airplane to dump a load of 100% concentrated bleach over what’s left? A ton of it. Literally. Bank, you can have the house back. We don’t want it anymore. Overreacting? Me? Didn’t you hear? Okay, well, maybe a little.

So when I pointed out to her that she kinda sounded like Bobbie Faye, she extended the possession as a…what…experiment? Early NaNoWriMo writing exercise?

Hello, Home Depot. You said: More saving. More doing. Well, that’s why I’m here. I’m broke, or financially challenged if you prefer, but I still got some doing to do. Got to kill me some rats. Or trap them. Or trap them and kill them. I don’t really care as long as they exit my house. Heck, exit my entire property. Don’t want ’em comin’ back. So Home Depot Man, what do you recommend? What’s worth me making a larger dent in my itty bitty bank account? Well, you have a little bit of everything, huh? No recommendations? Not very expert-y, are you Home Depot Man? Last time I let one of you orange dudes make me feel dumb for being a young(ish) female in a home improvement store.  Okay, I’ll take one of everything. Yep. You heard me. Don’t laugh. You don’t know which one I should use so I’m givin’ ’em all a test drive. Load me up. Wooden snap trap? Yep. Click and set trap? Sure. No view No touch kill trap? Oh yeah. Glue traps? Add to cart. Large or small? Both. Electric whatever trap? They make those? Oh, do you sell rat bazookas? I could REALLY use one of those. Poison? Um, no. That would just be mean. Okay, no, not really. But I am not cleaning up that mess when I finally find the bodies. Thank you very much, Home Depot Man. You were no help at all. But I’m feelin’ pretty good right now.

 

I smile myself through the self checkout and even giggle a little as I load my arsenal in the back of my SUV. I’m feelin’ kinda redneckish. Okay, rats, I’m packin’ and comin’ for ya.

Hello, rats. Rambo’s home. Yeah, it’s just me, but I’m warning you now, I’m armed. You know, I can hear you scampering around in my kitchen cupboard. I am not amused. In fact, that knot in my stomach is back. But I’ve got a bagful of rat killers with your name on it. Haha. Literally. Unless your name is Bob. You know, I once had a rat named Bob. No, he wasn’t my pet. He was my biology assignment for a semester. I kept him swimming in formaldehyde for weeks. I skinned him, cut out all the fatty tissue, cut off his muscles, exposed all his bones, tore out his organs. Could be you. I’m just sayin’. We could talk this out. Make a deal. You can leave now. I won’t set any traps if you do. Cuz really, Mr. Rat, when I said anybody was welcome to come destry my house, it wasn’t really an invitation. Sorry for the confusion and all, but please GET OUT OF MY HOUSE. You are seriously freaking me out. Okay, I shouldn’t admit that. But I’m setting this trap now. Pull the label back. Check. Insert peanut butter. Wait a minute. Peanut butter? Really? Okay, if you say so Mr. D-Con. Turn trap clockwise until the red “set” light comes on. Check. Now place in high traffic area. Okay, Mr. Rat, I’m opening the cabinet door now. Last chance. Only don’t let me see you. Aahh! I don’t want to hear you either! Drop the trap! Drop the trap! Close the door! Phew! Did I just unset the trap setting it down too hard? Okay, throwing it in the cabinet. Mr. RAt meets Wussy Rambo. That’s okay, Mr. Rat, really. Cuz you know what? I may be the cowardly soldier here, but I also have a commanding officer (a.k.a. my darling husband). And when he gets home, you are toast, you hear me? But it would be really great if you could get yourself into that trap in the meantime so I can have bragging rights. Mr. Rat? Okay well, gotta get back to work. We’ll be back to check on you. Please be in the trap by then. Thank you very much.

Maybe she just had no choice. That’s my guess. Especially when she wrote back, “Oooh. Oooh. Can I call my book Bobbie Faye Ate My Brain?”

My favorite part of this story? Toni’s response when I emailed her all of this. “LOL! That really did sound like Bobbie Faye ate her brain!” Typical. Toni shows no remorse that her character is so virulent now after three books, not only is she possessing Toni, but also perfectly innocent people who just happen to read her books. Bystanders!

Just so you know, everything in this guest blog really did happen exactly as related here. Including Toni’s lack of remorse and Aimee’s purchase of every variety of rodent killer known to humankind. Honestly. This is just reportage, folks.

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Bobbie Faye’s baaaaaaack

The newest Bobbie Faye book, When a Man Loves a Weapon, is out today. While I love the first two books, I think the third one just may be my favorite. 510zfw1aWjL._SL500_AA240_

Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Living single in her trailer was great for a time. But now Bobbie Faye’s officially engaged to, and has purchased a home with, the hottest FBI agent on the beat: Trevor Cormier. Even though she still has no idea what he really does on the job, Bobbie Faye has never been happier…until Trevor gets called away on an urgent assignment and leaves her in the care of body-guard slash babysitter Riley.

As it turns out, Bobbie Faye could use a little extra security. The man she helped put in behind bars, the murderous Sean MacGreggor, has escaped from prison…and is dead-set on revenge. With still no word from Trevor—who was only supposed to be gone for three days—Bobbie Faye finds herself reluctantly turning to her detective ex-boyfriend Cam for help. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Bobbie Faye…so long as Trevor stays out of the picture. For good.

If you like Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie and kick-ass Southern women who make you laugh out loud, Bobbie Faye is for you.

Toni’s also pretty funny when she’s blogging, so read her talking about writing love triangles on Book Binge.

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Buy it today!

girls_225

Toni’s second Bobbie Faye book, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, is out today. Get it now so you’ll have time to read it before the third (previously un-released book!), When a Man Loves a Weapon, comes out August 4. These books are really funny and sexy. Perfect summer reads to indulge in if you’re going on vacation or if you’re stuck at the office and can’t get away. Memorize some corporate jargon to answer with in case anyone pops into your office, hide the book in front of your computer screen and enjoy! Course, you’ll probably give yourself away when you start laughing uncontrollably, but that just means you can get everyone at work hooked, too!

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Bragging on some friends…

First, from Nick Fox’s latest email newsletter (I know y’all loved reading his guest post/newsletter before):

“Every city has its personality, and every personality has its moods. When traveling, you’ll find your mood may or may not match the mood of the place you’re in. A city that felt like home in the past, or at least an old friend, suddenly feels distant, on to other things. The idea in this situation is to find a place to hole up, because no matter the city, there will be a corner somewhere that feels like a valentine. It can be difficult to find. It’s taken me almost three days to find the Esperanto Café on MacDougal Street in Manhattan. But I’ve found it, and now I sit here looking at this quiet stretch of the city that not only never sleeps, but never rests. And I rest. And I write.

Writing is the order of the trip. An adventure in the middle of an adventure. And sometimes the adventure gives you a place to land. I didn’t expect it, but last Tuesday, I found a landing. A complete first draft of my novel. 451 pages. 134,000 words. THE END being the last two of those words.

The last time I finished a book was five years ago, and I followed that experience by shrieking and running up and down the hallway, leaping in the air, beating my chest and howling at the roof. Nothing of the like this time around. I hit those last two words and saved the file, then went outside and sat for about a half hour, considering how much further I have to go. I don’t think the last 100 pages of the book work at all, and the second draft will involve massive rewrites. But the draft is DONE, by God, and the feeling that accompanies that is not exaltation, but relief.”

And the second book in Toni’s Bobbie Faye series is coming out at the end of the month. You can pre-order it now. More on that in a later post…

Last night, Jamey and I went to Clarence’s book party where a fun mix of family, friends, book groups and artists celebrated him and his newest book, Too Much of a Good Thing Ain’t Bad. It was a lot of fun. Celebrating my friends is a good thing I can never get too much of. Clarence and I met in grad school at LSU, were neighbors for a time in Baton Rouge and traveled together to D.C., North Carolina and Atlanta to promote the prequel to the new book, Three Sides to Every Story. We’ve had the same scary dream from two different hotel rooms in a rural Georgia town, given each other advice, spent time with each other’s families and I know he’ll always be a part of my life. I’m incredibly proud of him and I can’t wait for you to discover his words. Do it now, before his first novel is made into a movie. That way, you’ll be ahead of the curve. 🙂

When I get them, I’ll put up a pic or two from the party. Unfortunately, my camera crapped out. But there was a photographer there and Jamey got some pics as well.

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Cool news, not ‘fessing

Two of my favorite writers (and people) have upcoming books.

First: Toni McGee Causey‘s first two Bobbie Faye books are being renamed and re-released this month. The first, called Charmed and Dangerous now, is out tomorrow, but I can tell you now that it’s on shelves in at least one Wal-Mart already. They can also be found at Target, your local bookstores and online retailers. Toni’s books are some of the funniest I’ve ever read, really suspenseful and action-packed. It won’t be too long, I’m confident, before they’re made into movies, cause they’re really visual. If you hit the first link, her website, you can read the first chapter. The second in the series, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, is coming June 30th. And the third book, When a Man Loves a Weapon, which hasn’t been released yet (and which ROCKS!), will be published August 4th. I can’t recommend this series enough.


Next: Clarence Nero’s new book, Too Much of a Good Thing Ain’t Bad, the sequel to Three Sides to Every Story, is out June 23rd. His books are racy and engrossing, it’s impossible not to invest in what’s going on, just like the best gossip.

I came back from BR today with a lot of books to read for fun and these books are at the top of the list to re-read and enjoy.

Also, for those of you asking, “What’s next?” now that my book’s done, have no fear. Before I’d even finished, I was excited to return to a long-form essay about the 10 years it took from the moment my father said, “We’re moving to New Orleans” for me to actually get to New Orleans. If you want to know how that’s possible, well, you’ll just have to read it. Which means I’ll have to finish writing it and find someone to publish a long-form essay in this economy. LOL.

P.S. The New Moon Trailer made me soooooo happy. Check it out and watch is several times as I did. The first half is kinda slow and awkward, but the second half (and Jacob’s exploding jeans) makes it so worth it. Did I ever officially come out as Team Jacob? Well, think I just did folks.

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Fess Up Friday (the short hair edition)

That’s right, I have chopped off my hair for Locks of Love, the official summer hair cut. When I get a pic I like, I’ll maybe switch it out so everybody can see. I’ve gotten “Amelie,” “retro,” and “babydoll” as comments, if that gives you any idea.

Wasn’t sick at all this week, but I did somehow lock myself out of my bedroom while I was in my pajamas. Thank goodness for those painters and their paint knife after my letter opener broke.

So, I’m doing better with cutting down on my t.v., though I did watch AI and I have to say that, all respect to Danny Gokey, but the voters got it right with Adam and Kris. And Kris! He totally showed Adam up, which I didn’t think was possible. I had just been saying that though I love both “Heartless” and “Blame It on the Alcohol,” both songs were pretty silly performed live on AI. A lot of posturing and rough negotiating with all of the synths or whatever. And as if he heard me, Kris performed an acoustic “Heartless.” Whoa! Freaking whoa! And not only was it just a freaking great arrangement, it also demonstrated how amazing the lyrics are (that was clear in the original, but with a stripped-down version, they just jumped out at you). So even though I was unfortunately wrong with the top 3, I was spot on about the top 2. And you know what? Kris could win this, he really could. And Adam’s gonna have an amazing career no matter what, so it’s all gravy.

But you know what I’ve been overdosing on this week? Reading! I read 3 young adult books in like 2 days. The last, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, I read pretty much straight through last night/this morning. Thought I’d read a chapter as I was trying to fall asleep and got so consumed with the story, just had to know what happened, that I read until I finished at 5:31 this morning. And of course, it’s the first in the series and of course the next isn’t coming out till September. Oh, how will I ever wait to find out what happens next? Somebody send me an ARC! So even though my site says I’m reading, The Song Is You and that is true, I’m usually reading like five or six things at once. But The Hunger Games. Seriously, read this book. It is inventive and brutal and gorgeous, about a future society in North America that sends 24 “tributes” from its 12 districts to fight until only one survives. I love how some of the best characters in these brutal future-society books (think John Marsden’s Tomorrow series) are kick ass girls like Ripley and Barbara.

The socializing – I’m still doing quite a bit of that. Drove up to Baton Rouge for an “Electric Ladies” lunch celebrating David Madden (see pic) and went to Bud’s Broiler for the first time and the Insectarium. Overall, however, I’m doing pretty good at saying no to invitations (sorry!!!! I promise I’ll be less of a hermit soon!!!).

But that’s enough about how I’m failing to use my time wisely. Let me update you on all the progress I’ve made.

New words:

5.10 = 1,547 (3 scenes)
5.11 = 3,179 (2 scenes)
5.12 = 613 (1 scene)
5.13 = 558 (1/2 scene)
5.14 = 599 (2nd 1/2 scene)

But it’s not all about new words. I actually generated a significant amount of new words and scenes since last October, in preparation for filling out the parts that needed more. I have one complete draft and lots of loose material to work with. So the greatest part of the work I’ve been doing has been splicing the new work and the old material together, or editing. So, how’s this for linear thinking – I made an enormous jump and I have about 180 pages “done.” I’ll continue with my splicing and hope to have a few days or a full week at the end to do one more pass to make everything connect and work the way I’d like it to. Makes the book sound like a machine, doesn’t it?

During all the test runs I’ve taken it on, the book is performing well. Just like a top-end sports car, purring and growling enthusiastically, just revving up to show off what it can do. A friend recently asked me how the writing was going and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t sigh and shake my head and offer a lot of excuses. I grinned and chirped, “Great!” And meant it. That feels so good.

Toni sponsored a book-giveaway on my blog. Someday I’ll be more democratic with my book-giveaways, but this time instead of making y’all work for it, I gave the books to people I knew would love them. So the copy of Allison Brennan‘s Sudden Death went to Pam Gauxtreaux and the copies of Toni’s first two books (they’re gonna be re-released this summer under new titles) went to Kristin Sanders.

So, to conclude, a few items that grabbed my attention this week:

This is a GREAT idea (Amazon to reprint books).

This makes me incredibly sad (Coconut Beach).

And this is fascinating (Dan Baum, New Yorker, a story told on Twitter).

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