Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A peek into the mind of today’s 19 year-old

To celebrate the end of the school year, I want to share a few more anonymous journal entries from my favorite college freshmen in the whole world. Also because I am feverishly writing some scintillating blog entries which will be posted with the Debs and with Heidi on Friday. (The 'scintillating' is entirely subjective.) So, if you want to reminisce about the 70s or hear more of my neurotic thoughts on having a book published, stop by and say 'hi.'

As a bonus, one of the entries below is something I actually wrote in my own journal at age 19. First one to guess correctly gets a special prize.


“I went tanning today and burned the shit out of my skin. Gotta love it. Go skin cancer!”

“My roommate called it off with her boy toy and she was crying. I laughed inside. But she told me how he didn’t want to make her 3rd. I wouldn’t mind being 3rd, or even maybe 4th.”

“She was talking about how her teacher wouldn’t let her out of class for a funeral. She said something I didn’t expect. ‘She can just lick my twat.’

“I’m not telling my parents about the underage. They will hate me forever.”

“I think my roommate hates me. Almost everyone hates me. At least my boyfriend kind of likes me at times.”

“Screw money. I don’t care. It’s like the song says, ‘All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.’”

“Is it next week yet? That is what I’ve been saying all my life. That is why I don’t remember anything from the past.”

“I need an effin job already. Especially if I have to pay off my fucking sorority. I fucking hate those bitches. That was one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my life.”

“I really need to do a few things. I want another piercing and a tattoo. Also I would like to dye my hair and lose some weight. And of course I should tan.”

“What is with all these little high school girls dressing like complete skanks?”

“Life is all about ass. Everyone either covering it, laughing it off, kicking it, kissing it, trying to get a piece of it, or simply just being one.”

“I need to dye my hair pink again because the pink is almost all gone. Sad day.”


So, the first one to guess which one I wrote back in 1994, you win something that makes me laugh. I'm not even hinting at what it might be. (Other than the making me laugh part.) You'll just have to take your chances. Also, visit Manic Mom and Kristabella to win a signed copy of Driving Sideways, and to experience the magic of bacon and awful vacation stories. Not necessarily together, but I'm hoping someone finds a way to merge the two. Robin Bielman was also kind enough to interview me.

More fun yet to come! And by fun, I may or may not mean anything involving butter, a Slip n' Slide, a bucket of nonpareils, and a large, fuzzy steering wheel cover.


WE HAVE A WINNER: Congratulations to Suzanne! You were the first one to correctly guess that at age 19, I wrote the following in my journal: “Screw money. I don’t care. It’s like the song says, ‘All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.’”

Reaction in the Riley household consists of a great deal of choking laughter from The Mister. Suzanne is the lucky winner of the tiny white hand I found in my garden, plus something normal, too.

New post on Monday, kids. Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Six Word Memoirs

You may have heard of them. They're all the rage right now. Your life summarized in six words. Including these from local college freshmen. Some are poignant, some are hilarious. All completely anonymous, so don't worry. After you read, it's your turn. Comment with your six word memoir. Why not join in the fun?*

Let's get on with the show:

"You're old. He's young. Go away."

"He lied. I caught him. Asshole."

"Apparently he makes out with everyone."

"I'm still here. You're still gone."

"Let's throw rocks at stupid boys."

"I think I lost myself somewhere."

"Wrong place. Wrong time. Right person."

"Place your mouth here and blow."

"Can I get a do over?"

"My mom decided to keep me."

"Fuck it. Just ONE more drink."

"Born into a life worth living."

"Car dance and get weird looks."

"Stop flirting. You have a girlfriend."

"Life is great, but not easy."

"I'm not into living without you."

"I'm old enough to know better."

"Rub some dirt on it, kid."

"Never planned ahead. Now I'm behind."

"Scars are souvenirs you'll never lose."

"Mom, Dad. I'm gay. I'm sorry."

"Self-centered? Not me. I'm perfect."

"No condom, now baby, no life."

"She eats only to throw up."

"That fucking bastard hit her again."

"She said no and meant it."

"She's late this month, what's next?"

"Destruction was how it all began."

"How many people will see this?"

"The razor blade wasn't sharp enough."

"It was only a rough draft."

"Life is a canvas. Paint it."


I had to catch my breath after reading a few of those. Heartbreaking, messy, gorgeous stuff. And honest. And now I'd love to hear yours.


In other booksy-type news, thanks to Caryn, the gang at Drunk Writer Talk, Shelly, Tia, Pam, Joanne Rendell, Suzy Soro, Anonymous Coworker, DeeMarie, December, Larramie, Sue, TX Poppet, Halushki, Karen, Allison Winn Scotch, Eileen Cook, Gorillabuns, Rhianna, and Jelly Jules ... you all rock, frequently and memorably.

This week, pop over by Kristabella and Manic Mom to win signed copies of Driving Sideways; I'll also be visiting Robin Bielman and Cindy at Conversations with Famous Writers.

More blog tour stops on the way shortly!

*Did you see how every sentence had just six words? Was that annoying or what?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

After Today, More on the Tiny White Arm and Such

Hi. It's me again, telling you about the book ONE LAST TIME because today's the day! Driving Sideways is finally in bookstores after 29 long months of incubation!

What people are saying about the book:

"Driving Sideways is a gorgeous novel -- I LOVED it!!"
-- Marian Keyes, author of Anybody Out There?

"A hopeful and hilarious debut...Jess Riley may well be my new favorite author."
--Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black

"Smart and funny without being forced, sentimental without being maudlin."
--Booklist magazine

“It made me blush several times.”
--my Mother-in-law Patti

Target also picked the book as a Break-Out title this summer! But it won’t be on their shelves until June 19, so don’t go there today unless you need toothpaste and paper towels or something.

If you buy it today, it comes with the following:

  • A spine (inspiration for those of us born in the self-deprecating wing of the hospital)

  • No jacket, because who needs one? It’s finally spring in Wisconsin!

  • 111,840 pre-screened, carefully-selected words placed in a pleasant order

  • My eternal gratitude and a glass of wine if I ever meet you or see you again. And since you’re reading this, I really do hope I meet you or see you again. Because I probably like you. Or whatever.
So you could take your OWN expensive road trip this summer, or you could buy Driving Sideways (for less than the cost of four gallons of gas!) and live vicariously through some people I made up. But if you do take your own road trip, you can also bring my book to read while you wait for your car to be fixed. In case it breaks down, like the Toyota did when I took the very same roadtrip with my BFF Cindy. And you can listen to the Driving Sideways iMix, with songs that I listened to while writing the book, plus a few I listened to while just kind of driving around. Sideways.

So if you would like to buy the book for yourself or many other people in your life (and I hope you do because I would like to make you laugh and/or blush), you can order it on amazon, Powells, Barnes & Noble, Target, Booksense, or Random House.

Or you can pick it up at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it, throw a tantrum.

I’m totally joking. Please don’t do that.

Unless you’re a toddler. Then you might have an excuse.

But wait! There’s more!

Tuesday I am guest-blogging, providing A’s to some excellent Q's, or otherwise being featured in some way, shape, or form (not a large sphere, despite all the cheese curds I ate late night) with Tia, Caryn, Sue, DeeMarie, Shelly at Not the Daddy, The Debutante Ball, Suzy Soro, and TX Poppet.

Edited to add these Wednesday & Thursday blog stops: an interview at Pam Writes Romance and with Joanne Rendell, and a guest blog at Drunk Writer Talk...and JellyJules has made my signature summer salad (now with delicious photo!). Tomorrow, check out Mommy Confidential, Gorillabuns, and December, who will be listing thirteen essentials to take on a road trip.

Also, the blatant self-promotion will eventually taper off and this blog will soon return to its regularly scheduled programming involving my dog, things I found in the backyard, recipe mishaps, and something you WON'T want to miss next Tuesday. I promise, you'll like it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is the Sound of One Tiny Hand Clapping?

Last night I was planting some things in the backyard (sunflowers, flags, and evidence, mostly) and I thought, wow, I could really use a hand with all of this work. And I looked down and discovered this:

So far, I have used the tiny white hand to do the following things:
  • Say, “Who wants ice cream?” And raise the tiny white hand to reply, “I do!”
  • Scratch a very small itch.
  • Fling a miniscule discus.
  • Beat a small drum.
  • Wave to my neighbor. She is average-sized.
  • Type this blog.
  • Knock on a small piece of wood.
  • Text a message to a friend very quickly and efficiently.
  • Eat a small bowl of soup.
  • Fan a portion of my chin.
  • Pledge allegiance to the flag.

Here are some other things I have found in my yard:

A small, illiterate dog with terrible breath.

The key to successful consumption of soup.

A baby telling a bawdy joke to a kitten.


Also, that book I'm always talking about is finally out this Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SIX Days and Counting...

To gear up for the eventual release of the novel I wrote in 2004, I started this blog (hang on—let me climb into my Way Back Machine) in November of 2005. Since then, the book was very nearly orphaned when my editor changed publishing houses, and we’ve gone through a title change (remember that Larry Resnick guy?) and lots of blog posts and lots more waiting, but 30 months later…I am looking at my calendar and we’re six days from release.

Six days. I can’t even believe I am typing that. Along the way, I met some awesome and talented bloggers, many of whom have graciously helped / will be helping to spread the word about Driving Sideways:

Manic Mom
Harmonica Man (View from the Cloud)
Suzy Soro (Where Hot Comes to Die)
Anonymous Coworker
Joanne Rendell

Eileen Cook
Gorilla Buns
Tx Poppet
Shelly at Not the Daddy
Trish Ryan
Mommy Confidential
Luanne at A Bookworm’s World
Robin Bielman
Maureen McGowan
GM Country Mama
Jozet at Halushki
Allison Winn Scotch
Pam Writes Romance
Jen Lancaster (her new book’s out now!)

Other awesome people I hunted down and shamelessly forced my book upon:
Cindy at Conversations with Famous Writers
Booking Mama
Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil

Stop by and say ‘hi’ to these fantastic and generous writers…I am confident that someday I will be raving right here about several of THEIR books (if I haven’t already!)

Other friends helping to spread the word who are so awesome I had to mention them even though they haven’t got blogs…YET:

-Fee B. of DePere, Wisconsin
-Rhonda M. of Midlothian, Virginia
-Michelle R. of Atlanta, Georgia
-Wendy J. of Madison, Wisconsin
-Rebecca W. of Illinois
-Mary H. of Portland, Oregon
-Cindy M. of Bellingham, Washington … Cindy gets an extra special thank-you because I VERY LOOSELY based one of my characters on her and she was an incredibly good sport about it.

Please let me know if I’ve inadvertently missed you above—these days my BLADD (Book Launch Attention Deficit Disorder) is off the charts. If you would like to join in the fun, let me know—you will thusly be entered to win one of two $75 amazon gift cards. (We don’t have to call it pimping, either. We can call it ‘spreading the word’ or ‘sharing the love’ or ‘distributing non-religious literature door to pixilated door.’ And you don’t even need a blog to enter! If you prefer to email at least five friends about the book’s release with a link to the bookseller of your choice, CC me in on the message (jess (at) and you’re in. The contest runs ‘til June 20.

I’m not sure how I’m coordinating the contest, but it may involve a dartboard. One that is hanging on my bathroom door, as a matter of fact.

It came with the house.

Other places I will be pussyfooting* around in the next week or two:

  • MKE Online: check the site out from May 15 – May 21. (Book giveaway and guest blog on the way.)
  • The Debutante Ball: I’m posting this Friday and we’re celebrating the launch of Driving Sideways each day next week! (PS: Enter the contest to win a signed copy & gift basket of goodies from me. I promise you’ll like it. There may be cheese.)
Also, save the date: June 7!! Book launch party in Oshkosh, Wisconsin! There will DEFINITELY be cheese at the party. Or my name isn’t Jess Riley.

*doesn’t old-timey language sound kind of obscene?

And now for a public service announcement:


How about a debut book slated to launch in 2009 by a major publisher?

The Debutante Ball, is launching a Debutante Search for a group of five debut authors for the 2009 Debutante Season.

The Debutante Ball is a group blog of six debut authors, including Eileen Cook (Unpredictable), Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver), Lisa Daily (Fifteen Minutes of Shame), Jess Riley (Driving Sideways), Danielle Younge-Ullman (Falling Under) and Gail Konop Baker (Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis).

The successful grog (group blog) has attracted a loyal following with publishing insiders, media and readers, and such notable “guest debutantes” as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Meg Cabot, Meg Tilly and Sex and The City’s Evan Handler. The 2008 Debutantes will pass their tiaras to the 2009 Debutantes in September.

Applicants must have a debut book slated to launch in 2009 by a major publisher or established small press. Deadline for applications is July 1. To submit your application, fill out this survey .

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Two Weeks and Counting...

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!

Wait...THOSE aren't PHONE BOOKS!

Some very exciting things are happening. First, I got books, y'all! I'll be giving away signed copies at several blogs near you in the next month. Second, I also got the biggest zit I've had since high school. Which is perfect because I was recently made aware of an 80's Prom Flashback party next Friday night. To get in, you have to wear your old prom dress and do-up your hair that scary way you did it in the eighties. When it looked like an artfully arranged tumbleweed that may have been home to a small family of shrews. The problem is this: none of my friends want to go with me!!! Because they are all pussies, afraid they might get a little Whitesnake on them. Okay, they're not really, they just have busy lives and that kind of thing.

(Uh, friends who are aware of this party? Yes, this is a challenge. A throw-down in non-Bobby Flay style. Go. Go into your closet and find that pouffy dress. Dig that dust-crusted can of Aqua Net out of the cabinet. Do not fear the eighties...embrace it...embrace the fear. Go with Jess to the party. Get drunk and do the running man. Let her take many photos. Now, shhh....go.)

To get you all in the mood (well, to get ME in the mood. Who am I kidding?) I am right now listening to "Der Kommissar" by After the Fire. And then I'm going to listen to the Go-Go's and then Big Country and then 'Til Tuesday and have a stroke and die happy. (Hi! I was only like eight or something when your music was popular, but I DON'T CARE! Just look at me like, nailing the vernacular in this post!)

Now where was I. Oh right! My zit! Well, it's developed quite a personality, I must say. It hates me, for one thing. It wants nothing more than to grab the spotlight and be a stoplight and pretty soon I'll be like Chris on that one episode of Family Guy, when his zit actually started talking to him and demanding daily applications of grease (internal and external).

Anyway, I'm going to just ignore it and tell you about something else. Something the "keepin' the cool side cool, the hot side hot" Eileen Cook did when her book came out. She hosted a Pimp My Book contest in which bloggers interested in getting the word out about her fabulous book Unpredictable (COMING SORTA SOON TO A MOVIE THEATER NEAR YOU!) agreed to post a review, Q & A with the author, guest author blog, book giveaway, or any other kind of fun little feature. So if anyone would like to uh, pimp my book on their blog between May 19 and June 1 (*shuffling feet and staring at them in true Midwestern anti-self-promotion fashion, because every molecule in my being kind of fights against the whole self-promotion thing .... unless I've had a glass or two of wine and there's ABBA playing*), let me know in the comments--we'll do it up.

Oh, I should mention that I'll pick two Bloggah Pimps at random for a $75 amazon gift card. There will also be signed copies in the mix somehow. And if you want to get creative (paging Kevin Charnas...paging Kevin Charnas...), we can do that, too. In fact, the crazier the better. Like, I want to hear about YOUR roadtrips from hell. (Preferably with photos.) Or you could just pose nude with the book covering your special purpose.

Two more things before I go refill my wine glass (What! You didn't think I could write an actual post about self-promotion SOBER, did you?!?!):

1) I'm having my photo taken this Thursday to accompany an article about the book for MKE. I'll be sitting in my car at a rest stop near a highway. Life, go on now: imitate art. Go on, it's fun! As my former priest Father Kevin used to flamboyantly say, "I LOVE it."

2) My actual real live website will be up and running some time soon. ("Look ma! I got me an ack-tyool website thingy, with one o' them 'http's and everything!") So at that point, no longer will you just see a bewildered looking Daisy peering up at the camera next to the "Coming Soon!" script. But I'll try to sneak her in there somehow.