random observations


We’re in the process of building my author site and a place for all things Bobbie Faye, and it’s weird the conversations I have had, like getting permission to use the crawfish on the cover of the book. If I use the whole book cover, then it turns out I don’t have to have permission, but if I just use the crawfish, I do. So I talked with the artist, who may now think I am a nut because I actually also want to use the crawfish for mugs and t-shirts for some giveaways and stuff later on. You know, to the two people in my own family who will wear them (at gunpoint).

 Anyway, I just realized I hadn’t posted my new book cover here. I thought the old one was pretty and everyone at St. Martin’s worked their tushes off coming up with ideas and trying to hone the idea and ultimately, the cover was a no go. As pretty as it was, I think it ultimately wasn’t conveying the right genre? tone? pick me! pick me! -ness that the publisher wanted, so they went back to the drawing board and went to what they call a graphic cover (the title / name plus an icon, not a lot of photos / illustrations / movie-poster looks). And you know what? I ended up really liking the new one, although it was strange getting used to something else once I had the first one in my head. I think it’s a better fit, though, and doesn’t seem like a YA novel (which one reviewer who got the galley which has the first cover thought). It would be very bad to have a cover mistaken for YA when the word “fuck” is on page one and “fuck fuck fuckity fuck” soon after. I don’t want to go to hell for luring kiddies to the dark side.

So, the cover:

 bobbie_faye.jpg

The Amazon linkstill has the old one up, although my editor’s amazing assistant, Kylah, is on top of that, getting them to change it.

Oh, and if you want to see the videos I did for the book (two book trailers, one very very short and one a little longer) go to: www.tonimcgeecausey.com — they’re up there). I’d love it if you’d stop by.

(You know, I can totally forgive the spellchecker on this thing for not recognizing “fuckity” but it keeps telling me that “crawfish” is misspelled. That is sacrilege.)

Alex Sokoloff over on Murderati wrote the other day about feeling the love — how she feels about the writing experience, and she summed it up with “writing is agony, but not writing is so, so much worse.” I found her piece to profoundly describe so much of the experience of writing, it was as if she’d stepped inside my head and my heart and explained it. Which, when I started really thinking about it (and when you’re polishing up the second book and you have to turn it in pretty soon, your brain wants to think of anything but that deadline), I realized it’s that “stepping in” that makes it so magical for me, as a writer, and also as a reader. It’s not just briefly experiencing other worlds, other ways of being, other people’s point of view–and it is all of those things, true–but it is the moment the writer connects something for me that I hadn’t necessarily been able to articulate myself, or opens me up to a realization which had been simmering beneath the surface which I’d sensed but had not yet found a way to access. I’m not sure which pleases me more as a reader–to register the surprise of the profound thought, an aha! moment of recognition but still, surprise–or to be caught off guard and made to laugh, to find the absurd in the world, in the situation, and to be so fully in the character, in that world, that it cracks me up as if I’m there, experiencing the irony.

I guess it’s natural to think of these things as book 2 finally coalesces, where the bits and pieces it into place and the universe feels whole and organic. It’s amazing to have gone from an idea, from a blank page, to a finished world, because it’s more than just words typed on a page. The dictionary is words typed on a page. Finding the story, finding the heart, finding the laughter in the moment–these are the real gifts of writing. As I zoom rather frantically (and full of terror, I assure you) toward the publication date of book 1 (May 1st), I want to remember to hold onto this feeling. There are so many things that are now officially out of my control, and for a world-creator (which we writers are, which tends to make us a bit of a control freak), it’s destabilizing to realize there’s not a lot else I can do in this stage of the publication process. It may do well, it may not, who knows? It’s terrifying to even think about it, because I cannot sit next to every reviewer, every reader, and explain my intentions if they don’t like something. But this thing, this writing, this creating, has brought me satisfaction beyond joy. It’s what I always wanted to do, growing up: tell stories.  I am very lucky that I enjoy the actual process of the writing. Yes, writing is agony for me, but now that I examine it, not in quite the same way Alex was describing above. It’s agony because I want to do it so well, and I push myself and the bar ever higher, and I have no idea if I’m hitting the mark or not. It’s agony because I want to create, to have this finished world that people can dip into which will make them laugh and stay with them as a real place with real people long after they put the book down, and accomplishing that seamlessly is daunting and difficult. It’s agony because I want to dig as deep as I can while holding onto the goal (for it’s imperative a writer know what she’s writing–profound thoughts may accidentally work their way into a comedy / caper such as I writer, but to strive to be profound would be to distort the world). It’s agony because I think I have something important to say underneath the comedy, and I don’t know if I’ve yet said it well enough. It’s agony because I could stay in that creative process forever, neglecting too many people I love, if I’m not careful, and so I have to part with it at least some of the time in order to live in the world. It’s agony to let it go into the world on its own.

It would be far, far worse, though, to not have the writing process to comfort me while the first book is taking its baby steps into that world.

I wonder what brings satisfaction to the rest of the world that keeps them going?

I am at that point in book 2 where I am almost done and yet, I feel like I’m miles and miles away. Carl told me I had intimidated myself, which is true. There’s the fear of not living up to book 1 and also the desire to exceed it. Scary. He also pointed out that I do actually have to finish the book and, you know, hand it in. Also true. I did give the editor a snippet for them to include in the back of book 1, and she loved it and so did marketing (Anne Marie) and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. I mean, it was only 2 1/2 pages, but hey, it didn’t suck and they were happy enough with it to go make room for it, so that’s a good sign right? Right? Bueller?

I wonder if I could just hand it in 2 1/2 pages at a time. You know, if they didn’t like something, then I could have an accidental computer crash or something could blow up. (You know, the Bobbie Faye version of “the dog ate my homework” is probably a minor nuclear meltdown.) (I wonder how difficult it would be to arrange a minor nuclear meltdown? hmmm.)

Er, the LCC pictures and round-up. They’re still on the new camera phone, which is tres cool but requires downloading and I am just too lazy tonight. So entertain yourself instead and go read through max’s new blog; I love max–she’s consistently funny, sharp, ascerbic and smart. She also taught me a helluva lot.

(I’ve been asked, as a Christmas tradition, to re-post this story.)

When the kids were little — I think Jake was three and Luke was seven — Christmas felt like it was going to be slim. Make that downright anorexic. So I was looking for a way to bring a little fun into the season, something that wouldn’t cost much.

I had a brilliant idea. (I should come with a warning label: If brilliant idea occurs, step way-the-hell back for your own safety.)

Anyway. The idea was to have someone play Santa at our house for a pre-Christmas visit. We’d invite all the neighbor kids and their parents and each family would bring a gift for their child ahead of time. I’d hide the gifts away and squirrel them to our Santa, who would come in the house with lots of Ho Ho Hos and joy and jovial warmth and after regaling the kids with whatever it is Santas regale kids with, he’d give out the presents. There would be hot chocolate and apple cider, a beautifully lit Christmas tree in the background. Maybe even singing, if the kids wanted to sing. We would be so sappy, Hallmark would sue. Or throw up, but whatever, it was going to be great.

When I write it out like that, it sounds like a very nice day, doesn’t it? It really does seem normal and sane and I should have known that in my world, “normal” and “sane” do not apply.

It progressed innocently enough… I invited all of the neighbors, who loved the idea, especially since it was a fairly tight season for everyone. The “gifts” to the kids were held to a very low budget, so everything was fair and equal. There was a tree, decorations, lights, apple cider and hot chocolate, brownies, cookies, you name it for a sugar fix, someone was going to bring it. All I needed was a Santa.

Finding someone with a Santa suit wasn’t quite as easy as I had expected; most of the people who have them are booked for all of December, and it was two weeks before Christmas and looking a little bleak. And forget getting one of those guys for free. Like I was crazy for thinking this was the season of giving or something. Of course, the kids already knew that Santa was going to come to our house for our party, the specific date was set, so there was no going back at that point. (Could you look a bunch of 3 to 7 year olds in the face and tell them Santa wasn’t showing up? If so, here’s your application to Mercenaries-R-Us and Osama’s on line two.) So. Had to find a Santa. Was getting a little scared as the day approached and there was no Santa to be had.

Then a member of our family, who we still speak to even after this event, suggested a certain older friend-of-the-family. I had met this FOtF several times, and he’s a little… erm… warped. He is very very sweet, but also sort of odd, disjointed, but in a quasi-live-in-a-fog sort of way. Jovial, though, he had down pat. He had the rotund belly, the jolly round cheeks, the perfect Santa nose. The thing that worried me was that he was incredibly bashful. And when he did speak, he was extremely quiet. I couldn’t remember him putting together two whole sentences in a row, unless you call smiling and nodding a lot “sentences,” but at this point, I figured, what could it hurt?

Now, in retrospect, I understand why the heroine always goes down into the dark basement when she’s heard a noise, there’s a serial killer known to be in her neighborhood, someone who’d been stalking her and had keys made to her house, and yet she goes anyway, armed with only a pony-tail clasp and Malibu Barbie lipstick. She was thinking what could it hurt?

Our house was tiny, so the plan was for me to hide the bag of toys at our back door for Santa to grab, then he’d go around and come in the front door, where everyone was gathered in the living / dining room area. Tree lit? Check. Apple cider? Check. Hot chocolate? Check. Sugar high toddlers on the ceiling? Check. So many people packed in there, we were going to need pregnancy tests soon? Check.

But no Santa.

An hour goes by. The kids get higher and rowdier and the adults get fidgety and gossipy and God only knows how many families we managed to break up on that one night. Meanwhile, Jake (three) wandered off to the kitchen. I could see him (very very tiny house) from the dining room, when we heard a noise outside. A distinctive ‘HO HO HO” noise. At last.

Everyone turned expectantly toward the front door. I didn’t want Jake to miss this, so I ran into the kitchen to scoop him up, when suddenly, the back door BURST open with Jake not a foot away from it, and in bound Santa, HO HO HOing at the TOP OF HIS LUNGS, and RUNNING, people. RUNNING. There was NO ROOM TO RUN so Jake turned away from this screaming giant red monster and beelined it back to the living room, which meant he went OVER me, over a few other people standing in the way and did Santa stop? No, no he did not. Santa ran smack over me, over a few other innocent bystanders, and to top it off, the whole running time? He was throwing candy. Hard candy. And I don’t mean “lightly tossing it to the cute little four-year-old standing there with her jaw open in abject fear….” No. I mean hurling it, 95mph over the plate there, Babe, pinging parents, knocking out a couple of random elementary kids and everyone started dodging and diving for cover and did he STOP? No. No he did not. He kept whizzing that candy and HO HO HOing and running (now in circles in the living room) and kids were screaming, Jake was crying, Luke was hiding, I was still on the floor in total shock, and when he did stop, finally (I think Carl tripped him), he started with the presents. Not a single jolly word did this man speak. He pulled out presents, asked the kid’s name, and the really smart kids hid behind their parents, because he HURLED the gifts at their heads. Hurled. I’m not kidding you.

By this point, there was hot chocolate and apple cider everywhere, there were a couple of wet spots on the sofa I didn’t want to identify, most of the kids were wailing and trying to climb their nearest parent and on top of everything else, Santa had managed to drop one of the kid’s presents outside… though I had the presence of mind to realize what had happened and I had a stand-by gift ready (in case one of the parents forgot) and so that was solved. When he finished slinging the last present, did he SIT DOWN and calmly tell lovely stories to the kids to keep them from growing up to be SERIAL KILLERS?

No. No he did not.

He started up again with the running and HO HO HOing and throwing even MORE CANDY. You’d think the man was on a float and we were thirty feet away, and when he finally finished careening over a couple of kids who hadn’t been trampled on the first go-round, he sprinted to the back door and ran out into the night.

The back door slammed and the whole house hushed for a moment in stunned silence. Parents looked at me like I should be locked up, and those were the nice polite expressions, comparatively speaking. Then the shrieking began, and the confusion (toys had been dropped and stomped on by Santa on his way out) and there was just no way to rescue it. I’ve never seen a bunch of people leave a party faster in my life.

But I tell you what. Whenever someone would say to those kids, even years later, that they “better be good because Santa was watching”… man, they’d straighten right the hell up. And I don’t think a single one of them touched hard candy for years.

(Just to wrap up… I thought the Santa would have realized how badly things had gone, but the next time we saw him and his wife, he was back in bashful, quiet mode and his wife told us that he’d reportedly had an absolutely delightful time, that it had been one of the best Santa/parties he’d ever attended. And he sat there and smiled and nodded.)

Sunday, I was standing in a small hardware store about fifteen minutes from my house, looking for some plumbing supplies my husband had sent me to retrieve. It seemed simple enough until he called and added one more thing — a certain type of hose, a water supply thing for the toilet (which we were having to replace). I was standing in an aisle of about 50 billion hoses, however, all very confusing, many of them without labels as to whether or not they supplied water… (I mean, seriously, isn’t the definition of “hose” something that supplies water?) That’s when I asked him to describe it so I could narrow down the field of possibilities.

I had to make him describe it twice. I thought he was kidding. He assured me he was serious.

I still couldn’t find it.

“Ask someone there for help.”

“As soon as I see an actual human, I will.”

“And be sure to tell them the description so they give you the right one.”

“I am not telling them I need a little hose in the shape of a sperm with a long tail.”

“But that’s what it looks like.”

“I don’t care.”

Then, I found it. Shoved to the back of one little area, not labeled, but it definitely fit the description. As luck would have it, an actual human male happened along, a guy about fifty-five or so.

“Anything I can help you with?” he asked.

“Oh, no,” I said, sort of hiding the sperm hose behind my back, “I think I’ve found it, thanks.”

He looked at what I was holding and said, “Oh, these over here are better. Much less likely to leak.”

Well, if there’s anything you don’t want, it’s a leaky sperm hose, right? So I look over the new fangled version he was showing me and noticed there wasn’t a “sperm” head on it. And since I wasn’t about to explain my husband’s name for it, I pointed to the end of the hose I was holding and said, “That one doesn’t have an end like this. Apparently, that’s quite important to my husband.”

“Oh, it’s here all right,” he said, and tipped the hose so I could see inside the connector dohickey. “See? This connector seals it tight. No leaks.”

So, yay. No leaky sperm hose in my bathroom. A very good thing.

Except I get home with it and proudly show it to my husband, who says it was the wrong one. He needed the other one.

“But this one has a sperm head on it!” I said, a little too loudly as my 19-year-old son sort of seizured in the other room.

“But it doesn’t have the tail. I needed the one with the tail.”

“So the tail part was the important part?”

“Right.”

“So why didn’t you just say you needed the one with the dome top and the long tube with nothing on the end of it?”

“Where’s the fun in that?”