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The Happy Hour Choir: The Playlist

The artist former known as Beulah Land and the Happy Hour Choir--new and improved!

At long last I have conquered Spotify! (In related news, remind me to Google the difference between the different price tiers before giving them my credit card. I’d love to keep you from making that mistake so, if you’re new to the world of Spotify, read more here.)

So the dealio–at least for Mac–is that you download the app. Then you get a set up that looks a lot like iTunes and tinker around until you find your way. I will say that I found a greater variety of songs on Spotify than I’ve found on iTunes. Except no Beatles. Le sigh. Other than that, I haven’t played around enough to compare it to Pandora. Methinks being able to arrange my own playlists will be fantastic!

At any rate, with no further ado, I give you a collection of songs mentioned in The Happy Hour Choir. Please remember that it takes place in both a bar and a church SO, um, expect an odd mixture of the human and the divine. Oh, and enjoy!

*drum roll*

The official soundtrack for The Happy Hour Choir


P.S. I could stop laughing as I typed this because I was thinking about Mel Brooks in Spaceballs: “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs–the Tshirt, Spaceballs–the Coloring Book, Spaceballs–the Lunch box, Spaceballs–the breakfast cereal, Spaceballs–the Flame Thrower. . . and last, but not least, Spaceballs–the doll, me.”


May the schwartz be with all y’all!


Southern Fiction Reading List

Twice in two days I’ve had folks comment on reading more southern fiction. I’m going to start a reading list here and add to it and modify it as we go along. Be sure to chime in with your opinions in the comments!

I’m going to put these in no particular order. Well, it’s going to be the order in which they come to mind. Let’s start with some short stories to ease you in…

  • “A Rose for Emily”–Faulkner at his creepy best. Many people suggest “The Bear,” but you gotta start with Emily
  • “Good Country People”–you’re not going to go wrong with Flannery O’Connor, but I would suggest you start here and proceed to “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”
  • “Why I Live at the P.O.”–you also can’t go wrong with Eudora Welty, but start here. Then proceed to “A Worn Path” and “The Petrified Man.”
  • “The Ugliest Pilgrim”–Doris Betts
  • “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”–Ambrose Bierce. Love this one for craft.
  • “The Fall of the House of Usher”–Yep. Poe qualifies as a southerner
  • “Everyday Use”–Alice Walker
  • “The Story of an Hour”–Kate Chopin
  • Anything in Tony Grooms’s Trouble No More–I’ll have to look for the title of the story about the community store owner who gets robbed, but, wow, there’s a lot to that one. Whole book is solid.

(I know I’ll be adding stories here as I think of them–it’s been a while since I took a college class.)


On to novels…

  • To Kill a Mockingbird–I’m going to reread this one later this year. Totally accessible and totally southern.
  • The Color Purple–You gotta read this one, too.
  • As I Lay Dying–I think this is one of the more accessible Faulkner novels, and I really appreciated the artistry once I got to grad school. I think The Sound and the Fury is usually ranked higher, but that doesn’t make it easier to read.
  • Anything by Joshilyn Jackson, and I do mean anything. gods in Alabama tackles race and family secrets. Between, Georgia covers family feuds. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming talks about suburban life among many other themes. Backseat Saints discusses domestic violence. A Grown Up Kind of Pretty has three generations of women with a quintessentially southern attitude. Someone Else’s Love Story goes from the mountains of Georgia into the big city and back.
  • Heading West–academic southern lit with a nice contrast between the Southeast and the Southwest
  • Fried Geen Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe–Oh yeah. Very southern.
  • All Over But the Shoutin–Rick Bragg’s memoir covers a lot of ground from his childhood to tornado victims in Alabama
  • Ellen Foster–a tour de force by Kaye Gibbons that comes to us from a child’s point-of-view. Also a nice entry point to Southern lit.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God–Hurston captures not only what it was like to live in a specifically African-American town during segregation, but she captures dialect beautifully
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil–Berendt isn’t Southern, but he could play one on TV with all of the Savannah quirks he captured
  • Anything by Raymond Atkins. Whether it’s The Front Porch Prophet, Sorrow Wood, Camp Redemption, or Sweetwater Blues, Ray does for the the south what Richard Russo does for the North. Don’t believe me? Ask Cat Blanco over at the Marietta Book Exchange, she came up with that analogy. As a fan of both, I wholeheartedly agree.
  • Gone with the Wind–say what you will about it, it tells you more about the South of the early twentieth century than about the South of the Civil War. Follow that up with The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All  and Confederates in the Attic, and you’ll get a good picture of why southerners can’t shush about the War of Northern Aggression. (Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek)
  • Fair and Tender Ladies–required reading to get a feel for Appalachia.
  • Ellen Glasgow and Kate Chopin–for you advanced readers who just can’t get enough.
  • “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”–I’m not sure if Twain qualifies per se, but I’m going to claim this one

Now there are some folks I haven’t read but who are on my radar. I’m going to read Mark Childress’s Crazy in Alabama. That’s happening. I’m not as big a fan of Tennessee Williams and Robert Penn Warren, but many consider them essential. I also need to brush up on my Robert Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Agee. Speaking of, here’s a whole list from the James Agee Film Project that you can peruse if you’re looking for more southern lit.

So, what did I miss? I’ve been out of the classroom for a while now, you know.

Confessions of a Crappy Default Parent, Or How Parenting Is a Tag Team Effort

A little giftie from Adrienne. I should tack one to my forehead.

A little giftie from Adrienne. I should tack one to my forehead.

So a while back, I read this article about Default Parents. You can read it at the link, if you haven’t already.

I’ll wait here.

Now before you get your underwear in a bunch, I believe she’s coming from a place of honesty. I don’t know of a mother among us who hasn’t had the kids come bother us while sleeping, showering, in the throne room, etc when Daddy could’ve just as easily answered their question. It’s a thing.

Currently, I am the default parent, and I stink at it. Here I’ve been trying to write and revise and keep Georgia Romance Writers on track and do things at the church while keeping up with kid activities like choir and softball and Beta Club and Art Club (which I forgot again this morning). I’ve already forgotten softball snack this week. I forgot to drive to the bus stop for the oldest one day. (I’m not concerned about that one–walking a quarter of a mile in the spring sunshine got him some vitamin D and should help build his character, no?) I swear, my kids need their own secretary. And I don’t even run them around like many parents do.

The hubs is off bringing home the bacon, which is good because I sure as heck am not currently bringing much of anything in. These are the sacrifices we make for my living the dream. I wish I handled it all better, but I have to tell you my brain is a beehive of noise and ideas and obligations and worries and doubts. It probably doesn’t help that I spent a great deal of my life self-sufficient, and I have to work hard to get beyond that self-absorption so common to an only child. Often I think to myself, “Dude, figure it out. I could already do XXX by your age.”

So, I’m going to confess to you that the Mister is just as much the default parent as I am, if not more so. Let me give you some examples:

  • when both kids were newborns he got up at every feeding and changed the baby then handed him/her to me to expedite the nighttime feeding process
  • when I was teaching he saw that it was stressing me out to get the kids to his parents and he took over that part of the morning’s duties
  • we’ve switched off on bill paying many times depending on who had the lower workload
  • we’ve switched off on who took the kids to the doctor depending on who had the most flexible job at that moment in time
  • when I have a writing conference, he takes the kids
  • when I had to go out of town to look after a friend for a month, he took over everything and handled it beautifully
  • and I could keep going….I’ve been the main bread winner at times. He’s been the main bread winner at others. If there’s something I need to do, he makes it happen just as he knows I’ll hold down the fort when he has to travel out of town or do the all the things.

Now, there are two important things you have to know about our arrangement: One, we do have a substantial amount of help from both sets of grandparents. I do not know how those of you who live so far from your parents make it. Two, if you need help, you gotta ask. I’m curious if the author of the default parent piece has seen greater participation from her husband. Did he even know she felt this way? I know it’s satire, but methinks a bit of her bitter slip was showing. AND I DON’T BLAME HER. She is exhausted…..so express your concerns. Say, “These things are really frustrating me. We need to find a better way.”

(Steels herself for talk from husband about all the things that are frustrating him and how we need to find a better way. Resolves to take up yoga to corral wayward thoughts and read book on how to make kids more accountable for their part in this messy house.)

Dude, I don’t know if she does what I do, but this creativity business is hard to manage. There are constant interruptions, which wouldn’t be so bad if I were doing something I could put down and then come right back and pick up. I have been known to lose entire trains of thought over cat crashes, Jehovah’s Witnesses, phone calls, an endless parade of dental/doctor/optometrist appointments, school activities I’m supposed to attend…you name it. I’m trying to learn to guard my time, but it’s tough. I am the closest parent with the most flexible schedule, and, as a woman, society has tried its best to teach me not to stand up for myself, to be polite, to not rock the boat, to not ask for help.

Eh, screw that. I’m getting better.

In the meantime, I leave you to Ryan and Sally’s Patented Approach to Parenting as presented by the New Age Outlaws. Now, we do tame down some of the more, er, less polite aspects of their speech, but you have to admit that it helps to approach a misbehaving child together, as a united front while one of you yells, “Oh, you didn’t know? Your a$$ better call somebody…..” (Here’s a tamer version–plus I like how they’re doing it all middle aged and taking it in stride.)


P.S. It’s also super handy to have someone to tag into the ring of life when you’ve just had the snot kicked out of you. Thanks, Ryan, for always reaching out to tag right in.

P.P.S. I don’t want to hear any mess about how that woman doesn’t love her kids. She does. And to love her kids she shouldn’t be expected to give up her own identity.

Things, Deals, Pint Glasses

I’m gearing up for the official Happy Hour Choir launch party–complete with after party. I’ve always wanted one of those. If you preorder a copy of my book from Cat Blanco over at the Marietta Book Exchange, you will receive a free pint glass at said launch party. Here’s a handy-dandy infographic to help you shop local:


Oh, but you can also enter to win a copy of The Happy Hour Choir over at the Reads of Good.

And do please ask me questions on Goodreads. I’ll answer anything as long as it is polite. You never know–I might pick one of your questions for the FAQs or IFAQs (INfrequently Asked Questions) website section I’m creating

Kensington tells me that special things will be unlocked as I gain more peoples entering that contest or adding the book to their “want to read” virtual pile. If you want to follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook you can do that at the aforementioned links. I think you should because I almost stepped into cat barf today and the post office thinks my house is vacant. I’m needing a little more validation than usual thanks to these two things. I know, I know–I’m not really a cat owner until I step into the cat barf while barefoot. I’ll get there. I’m promise.

Also, I may or may not have a burning desire to holler “Achievement unlocked!” each time I hit another milestone. Maybe I’ll make a meme. Yeah, that sounds like fun.

So yesterday I went to the Cobb County Library Foundation to hear Joshilyn Jackson speak because hearing her speak is like going to writer church. Y’all. They let me sit at her table. Like I was a real writer or something. And she was kind enough to give me a shout out! Good day yesterday. Today? Cat barf, laundry, and convincing the post office I exist.

Anyhoo, that’s all the news that is news from La Casa Kilpatrick. Come back next week when I talk about how parenting is like being WWE tag team partners.

Green Beer and Shenanigans

Yes. Green Beer. And shenanigans.

When Trish Milburn asked me if I would like to contribute to another micro story collection, I was all about it. I had the hardest time thinking of a prequel for The Happy Hour Choir. Obviously I didn’t want to spoil a book that was coming out the following month. (April 28, at fine retailers everywhere! Call Cat Blanco and preorder to get a commemorative pint glass and other swag!)

I think I just devolved into an infomercial. Sorry about that.

Anyhoo, I was tasked with writing a Saint Patrick’s Day story. Alas, the ideas did not flow freely. Finally, Gretchen, the reigning expert on shenanigans, gave me a couple of good ideas. Tanya was mainly grossed out by the concept of green beer, but I left it as a nod to my mom and our first trip to Boston. We landed on a Saint Patrick’s Day. Green beer and shenanigans abounded.

So back to the story, I realized you can’t just pour green food coloring into beer. I mean, at least not according to the eHow article I read on the subject. (Which makes me an expert, right?) That got me to thinking about what Bill, my fictional bartender, would do. He primarily serves long necks. Then I remembered how he served wine in a certain signature red cup. That reminded me of the song by Toby Keith, and the rest is history.

FREE history. You can hop on over to Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and possibly some other venues to get your FREE copy of Tiny Treats 2. I’m not the biggest Toby Keith fan, and the video isn’t my favorite. That said, the song itself amuses the heck out of me, and I can’t wait for you to find out how it figures into Beulah’s shenanigans.

Hope on over and take a peek. Remember: honest reviews mean a star in your crown! And stay tuned because you may very well get an opportunity to win your own Red Solo Cup. Oh, and here’s the song if you haven’t heard it.

Whoa…Stop! 50 Shades Redux

Look. The bear sent me over the edge. The same businesses profiting off women would just as soon make fun of them. Here’s an article from Time on 50SoG merchandising.

Okay, I lied. I’m not quite done with the overexposed topic of 50 Shades of Grey. When I blogged about why I’m not going to see 50 Shades of Grey and why I’m heartily sick of hearing about it, I was coming from a very personal place. Now I’m a little concerned about the bashing. I tried to express the idea that it’s not my bag and that the story is problematic. I was trying not to make those who like the books feel threatened. Maybe we’re all like the women in Margaret Atwood’s “Rape Fantasies.”

So, wanna know what I really, really hate about 50 Shades of Grey? Now I can’t use the idiomatic expression “shades of gray” without people snickering. We live in a world that is about a billion shades of gray. Since the book has taken that phrase away from me, I’m going to revert to my Western Civ professor’s expression, the complex middle ground.

Human nature makes us want to live in a world of black and white. Human nature makes us want to see only right and wrong. Human nature makes us. . . judgy. Sometimes I’m judgy. I’m sorry for that. I have opinions, and I tend to share them even when I shouldn’t. I think I was meant to be a nineteenth century essayist, but here I am in this brave new world instead.

And this world, like all of the worlds before it, is complex.

So here’s what’s bugging me about the 50 Shades backlash:

We can’t make women’s sexuality a punch line. Look, we need to discuss the elements of the book that I mentioned on Wednesday. We can’t, however, afford to make fun of women’s sexuality as a whole. I’m thinking a large part of the popularity of 50 Shades is that, once it hit the Target shelves, it had a certain amount of legitimacy. That legitimacy allowed some women who’d never been “allowed” to explore their sexual fantasies a chance to do so. I mean, it’s in Target, how bad can it be, right? Also, ask any writer associated with the romance industry and chances are he or she had already read something much kinkier before that book came out. It’s pretty tame as erotica goes. Because it’s relatively tame that made it accessible. At the very least a bunch of women who may have felt repressed before got an opportunity to explore their sexuality. And they have that right. No one really ridicules guys for reading Playboy; it’s almost expected with filching copies being a sort of rite of passage. Guess what? Women should have that same right. Many of us used to filch Harlequins, and I dare us all not to be ashamed about it.

Take the Christianity right on out of this. People, you gotta stop with the “You’re going to hell if you. . . .”

Mad props to Tamar. When following the rules didn’t get her anywhere, she took matters into her own hands. Some would say Onan did, too.

That’s not our call. Besides, do you realize how much sex is in the Bible? Song of Solomon is devoted to the subject. As Tiffany Reisz has a character point out in her book, The Saint, Esther basically “auditions” for the role of queen—and I’m not talking about a song and dance number. Rahab was a prostitute. Dinah was raped. Leah took part in an elaborate marriage deception. The woman at the well had committed adultery. Both Tamar and Ruth are included in the lineage of Jesus, and they had some history, let me tell you. Tamar had to trick her father-in-law into sleeping with her in order to get a son, and she was congratulated on her cunning and resourcefulness. That story also gave us the expression Onanism. Fun times. Google it if you don’t know it. And Ruth? Loyal Ruth stuck with her mother-in-law and, unless my eyes deceived me, basically seduced Boaz based on her mother-in-law’s recommendation. And those are just the stories that I can come up with on the top of my head!

One thing that bugs me is that I’ve seen people latch on to 50 Shades as a reason not to read any books with any sexytimes. Look, sexytimes are an important aspect of being human. The best romance novels, in my opinion, teach a woman that a) she’s worth a special someone, b) it’s okay for her to want to engage in sexyimes, c) she deserves a partner who’s also invested in her pleasure, and d) she deserves to be treated with respect. Now, I could argue—and have—that 50 Shades doesn’t meet those criteria, but if criticizing it means yet another step backward for the industry as a whole, then we need to chill. (Also my apologies for the liberal and sophomoric overuse of the word “sexytimes.” See small town history below.)

Speaking of the industry, a lot of other writers made some money, too. Obviously there’s a market for erotica. Thanks to the popularity of 50 Shades, some other authors either got a job or made significantly more money than they would have otherwise. Also, a lot of readers used 50 Shades as a springboard to find books they wouldn’t have been able to find just a few years ago. I can think of at least four authors–really good authors–I would’ve never read if erotica hadn’t had such a spotlight. Moreover, if the movie does well, maybe some other romance novels will find adaptation on the big screen. More work for women authors who are writing stories about women? Yes, please.

Finally, we’ve got to learn to agree to disagree without tearing each other down. When I give my opinion, I’m coming from a place where something’s eating at me, and I have to get it out of my system. I always welcome well thought out, respectful disagreement. For example, a friend once said, “You have a real chip on your shoulder where rich people are concerned.” Okay, so at that point I had a few options: 1) vehemently disagree, 2) immediately cave in to the opposite POV, or 3) think about that criticism and reflect on it. Yes, I have a chip on my shoulder. I did not grow up rich. (I also most certainly did not grow up poor, though.) I do feel awkward in situations where caviar is involved. I do still hurt from the time I was rejected by a social sorority, most likely because neither my parents nor I had money or social status to offer. I have, immediately after marriage, lived hand to mouth and seen firsthand how easy it would be to slip into poverty. So, yes, I have a chip on my shoulder, and I’m trying to be better about it. I believe I said I’m sorry—if I didn’t, I’m saying I’m sorry now. But I say all of this to say that a certain level of disagreement is okay, even healthy. That’s one way in which we can learn from each other.

I still say The Hunger Games wishes it was as scary cool as “The Lottery.”

We can’t, however, learn from each other if we take some kind of morbid glee out of insulting each other or, even worse, “punishing” each other. Lisa Maxwell shared this article last night on Twitter about how what has happened to people like Justine Sacco, the woman whose joke in poor taste got her fired. That article should scare you senseless. There but for the grace of God goes every one of us who ever posts anything on social media. Should anyone’s entire life really be ruined for one tweet? Should anyone be condemned for either liking a movie or not liking a movie? I don’t think so. Maxwell compared the whole thing to “The Lottery,” a story she teaches and that we should all read.

Y’all, I promise I’m not trying to gleefully stone anyone.

**added 2/15**

So take a look at this meme I found on Twitter. This is an example of framing the argument in a way that alienates: