Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Job Satisfaction

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I didn't use to watch TV at all. Now I watch TV while I do the exercises my physical therapist suggested for my back. (One ruptured disk, one herniated disk, one big hassle.) For any of you out there that have too much dignity, I highly recommend back exercises. Several of them make me look like I’m attempting to fly. In others I appear to be trying out for a Michael Jackson pelvic thrust dance routine. Needless to say, I do my exercises after the kids go to bed.

TV during that time slot is often interesting. The other night I watched a documentary on PBS about venomous creatures. You might not realize this, but researchers are trying to cure all sorts of medical problems using venom. Seriously—from cancer to pain relief to blood clotting agents—they’re looking to venom to find solutions. I’m imagining myself walking into a clinic with a brain tumor and then being informed that the doctor wants to inject me with snake venom. I think about that time I’d start to question my HMO.

But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What struck me was the researches they showed collecting venom. I mean, some days being an author is the pits. Like today when I checked Amazon and saw that my first review for Ex-boyfriend was only three stars. I read the review—and it was surprisingly good review. The person said: “The main characters are cute and our heroine actually has a couple of laugh out loud funny episodes (and some of her thoughts are hilarious)” but she only gave it three stars (I assume) because it didn’t “touch her or make her think.” I would suggest she think about how hard it is to write comedy and give me five stars, but no, never mind.

Anyway, back to snakes and poisonous toads and such. In one part of the show a researcher is recorded milking the fangs of poisonous spiders. “You have to get them angry so they stand up and show you their fangs,” he said waving a pipette at a furry black spider. “Luckily it’s pretty easy to provoke them. Even a whiff of human smell makes them angry.”

Yeah, I suppose so. Being jabbed with a pipette on a daily basis would do that for you.

Another woman grabbed a brown snake from the ground—with her bare hands—and then held it aloft for the camera while she cheerfully explained that it’s responsible for the most snake deaths in Australia.

I couldn’t help but think that the death toll was about to rise by one.

We got to watch a lot of snakes being milked for venom and it really surprised me how many researches did this without any sort of gloves. This either says something about their hubris or their job satisfaction.

So even on days when being an author isn’t great, there are still things to be thankful for. Like the fact that thus far my editor hasn’t asked me to milk a snake.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Win a free book!

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How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend is in stores today! If your local store doesn't have it--don't be shy, ask them at the customer service desk to order it. Really, they are more than happy to do this for you, and hopefully they will order some for the shelf too. See, you'll be doing everyone a favor.

In honor of How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, I'm starting a Dish-out-dirt-on-your-Ex contest. We'll call it "The Good, The Bad, and The Oh So Ugly."

Write a paragraph or two or three on why your boyfriend was either 1) a total jerk or 2) a real cool guy, despite the fact that the two of you are no longer together.

Send your stories to: jrallisonfans@yahoo.com. (I may do some editing if they're too long.) Also let me know if you want your name used with the story.

After I get a sufficient quantity of stories, I'll post the best ones on my website. Then I'll choose a winner who will receive a signed copy of Ex-boyfriend, which let me tell you right now is a very cool story which includes hot guys, subterfuge, evil stepmothers, and car chases.

"Rallison keeps the reader engaged and makes it hard to put the book down. There is not one single slow spot in How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend, which makes it a perfect summer read."--BookLoons

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kitchen update/Mystery caller

Since writing the last blog I’ve spent a lot of days scrubbing down my kitchen and the surrounding walls in an effort to remove the smoke smell. This wouldn’t be so bad (at any given point in the year my kitchen needs to be scrubbed down) except that I just repainted a lot of it in an effort to impress my daughter’s boyfriend. You know how it is—guests come and for several days you have to pretend to be clean.
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Anyway, after Herculean efforts on my part, and a can of Febreze that my children had way too much fun spraying, my house no longer smells like a fire happened in the kitchen. Now my house smells like a fire happened in a Febreze factory. Seriously. Even the dog smells like he just walked out of a cheap hotel.

Oh well, this too shall pass and eventually we’ll explode something in the microwave and then the kitchen will take on an entirely new fragrance.

In other news I had the most interesting phone call from a fan. Here it is in a nutshell:

My phone rings. Middle daughter answers it and gives it to me.

“Hello” I say.

“Oh my gosh, I love you!” says a young sounding voice.

My first thought is that one of my children has called me, because they’re the only people who tell me they love me over the phone. I can’t tell which of my children this is, which is not a new occurrence and something that always bothers said children. It also irks them that sometimes when I talk to them I go through an entire list of names before I hit the right one. My youngest son has on more than one occasion given me a humorless stare and said, “Mom, do you know who I am?”

Anyway, this is obviously not my middle daughter since she handed me the phone, and my youngest daughter hasn’t figured out how to call people yet . . . my sons should both be at scout camp, shouldn’t they?

“And I love your books, and I just read it’s a Mall World and I love it too!” continues the voice.

Okay, this is obviously not one of my children because my daughters are accounted for and there is no way one of my sons would call me to gush about my books. My sons have not even read my books which is why I keep telling them they will not be mentioned in my will.

My second thought is: This is a fan calling me. How very cool.

“Goodbye!” the voice chimes and hangs up before I can even say, “Why thank you, you charming young person. Would you like to be mentioned in my will?”

So anyway, I’m saying it now: Thank you, mystery phone caller. You made my day.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Smoking in the kitchen/the undomestic goddess strikes again

No, I haven't taken up cigarettes. I put a pot of ten-bean soup on the stove to boil, promptly forgot about it, and left the house for three hours. When I pulled back into the garage, my middle daughter said, "What's that smell?"

Oh no.

I ran into the house which was now billowing with smoke and learned a couple of very important things.

1) Where there's smoke, there isn't necessarily fire, there may just be a hardened mass of charcoal-like beans.

2) My smoke detector doesn't work, and yeah, I know there are easier ways to check that.

I turned off the stove, grabbed the smoldering pan, and ran it outside so it wouldn't contribute to the cloud of smoke billowing around my house. Then I yelled to my daughters to open all the windows and turn on the fans. We spent the next few minutes doing this. The cloud of smoke dispersed, the inside temperature of the house immediately rose to nearly match the outside temperature of 108 degrees, but the smell didn't go away.

My youngest daughter went outside to stare at the pan. "Look at the black mark on the grass!" she said.

Some of the grass in our yard is dead--probably due to the fact that we have a giant trampoline blocking a few of the sprinklers. I'd put the pan down on the dry part of the lawn and charred a patch of grass. So yeah, while I was unsuccessfully trying to air out my house, I nearly ignited my back yard.

I would have noticed that eventually, I suppose. You know, like when the smoke started billowing back in through the open windows.

I don't think I should be trusted to cook anymore. I should eat out from now on. It’s safer.

I've opened all the windows again and now the chocolate kisses I stashed in my closet are melting into chocolate and tinfoil blobs. I know. I've just eaten half a dozen of them.