Wednesday, January 29, 2014

6 Things That Make Me Cry Laughing (Indulge me! It's my birthday!)

The past eight weeks, I've been in Montana with my mom, who is dying of Alzheimer's, and my dad, who is showing his true colors as a devoted and extraordinary caregiver. There's a garden level apartment below the main floor of their home, so I have plenty of living/office space, and he doesn't have to have me all up in his grill. He's created a place of peace and music. The sheer power of his love for her is humbling and wonderful.

I cook breakfast and dinner every day and sit with Mom for about 90 minutes, playing ukelele and singing, reading from the Poetry Foundation iPhone app, holding her hand. She's no longer able to communicate really, but she seems to engage with the music and every once in a while, she breaks out in a huge smile. Most of the time, Mom is vacant or cries, as is typical with end stage Alzheimer's, but sometimes she laughs.

Of course, I'd like to think that these are the moments she is most lucid, because laughter has always been the coping mechanism of choice in our family. Years ago, when I was going through chemo for blood cancer, Mom came down to Houston to help Gary care for me, and we laughed a lot. We'd laugh until we cried, and those were the most cathartic, open-hearted, soul-cleansing tears. Tears of anger or sorrow you squeeze into your pillow are so much less satisfying. It's like that great line in the play Steel Magnolias: "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion."

So without further ado and at the risk of revealing my sophomoric side, here are six things that never - no matter how bleak, broken or lost I feel - never fail to make me laugh:

1. This photo of my kids with a terribly unlucky Easter Bunny. Self-explanatory. I will add that my children are now full grown, well-adjusted people who both love Donny Darko.

2. Penguin falls over and makes squeaky toy noise.Why is this so dang funny? I don't know. But I defy you to look at it only once. I can't stand it. I showed it to my daughter-in-law, who is a psychotherapist, and she thinks it's funny too, so I don't feel too bad.

3. Mitchell and Webb: "Write this." Oh, Mitchell and Webb. You got it so agonizingly right. My own private giggle: He suggests, "What if the main character dies at the end of Chapter One?" I couldn't help myself. I had to write that.

4. Radiskull and Devil Doll! Back in the day when Elf Bowling was hi tech and my darling middle school age son Malachi (now a grownup married man) was discovering this new thing called the Interwebs or Interest-net or something like that, I kept pretty close tabs on what he was consuming online. And it was this. I cannot explain why it slays me. Maybe there's a bit of middle school boy in all of us.

5. The Doors do "Reading Rainbow" theme song. Having heard this little ditty hundreds (if not thousands) of times while my kids were growing up, I got a huge hoot out of Jimmy Fallon's rendition a la Jim Morrison. I also love everything Fallon does as Neil Young, especially "Pants on the Ground."

6. Contemporary Dance How To with Contemporary Eric. So you think you can dance...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Make LOVE, Not Points

I have a strict rule in Words With Friends: Make LOVE, PEACE and JOY whenever and wherever possible, even if you don't score a lot of points for it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Four books, one box, three bucks. Shaboom.

I've been boxed. Not like Rocky. Or like a turtle. But more like a turtle than like Rocky, but you know what I mean. Stella Link Books has released four of my novels in one sweet little ebook. Just $2.99 this week only, then it goes up to $6.99.

And then it's only available for another 60 days. Then it goes back in the vault, and you'll have to buy the books individually again. So I hope you'll grab it now.

Shaboom. Thank you. 

Stormy Sexy Crazy Sweet digital box set includes: 
The quiet suburban lives of two pregnant sisters are shattered and rebuilt in this poignant modern retelling of the Psyche and Eros myth. “Richly appealing…” ~ Library Journal (starred review) “Bittersweet…priceless…” ~ Chicago Tribune “Every character resonates with life.” ~ Southern Living Magazine

After Hurricane Katrina, a deadly game of cat and mouse unfolds and a stormy love affair is complicated by polarized politics and high-strung Southern families. “Vivid images… rich rounded characters… colorful, gutsy… a powerful book that deserves to be read both for the yarn it spins and for the real-life story it uncovers. Highly Recommended.” ~ Triskele Books Blog

CRAZY FOR TRYING (Barnes & Noble Discover Award finalist)
A reclusive Montana rancher falls in love with the voice of a late night disc jockey who turns out to be a young runaway struggling with body issues and a complicated past. “Think Jane Eyre with rock’n’roll.” Houston Press “Rodgers writes unconventional love scenes that scorch the pages.” ~ Orlando Sentinel “Refreshing and provocative…” Houston Chronicle

Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett offer clues to the hardboiled plot when a dishonored cop teams up with a free-spirited pulp fiction writer to solve a murder. “A deliciously quirky whodunnit woven with skill, humor and compassion.” ~ KND “Smart, sassy, hugely entertaining… a stinging critique of the publishing world.” ~ Reviews By Leila

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

What is Joni's List?

What are you reading?I ask everyone. My friends, my sisters, my kids, the lady sitting next to me on the airplane, any dude who dates my daughter. The answers break ice, spark conversations, and speak volumes about who we are. And when I hop online to buy my a book, those personal recommendations mean a lot to me.

The online book world is bloated with BS reviews. Fake raves, trolls flexing their muscles, blowholes who haven't read the book but can't resist venting. It's wise to "consider the source," right? How can we do that if we're not looking that person straight in the eye.

That's why all my reviews here will be personal unedited videos. Me talking to you. Reader to reader. And I'll try to keep it under two minutes so we can both get back to the book we're reading.

I'm a picky reader, but my reviews are overwhelmingly positive. If I love a book, I can't wait to talk about it. I'm happy to devote time and energy to sharing a great read. If I a book disappoints me, I'm not willing to invest additional time b*tching about it. I hate snark. Besides, that I very rarely finish reading a book I'm not enjoying, and I don't review books I haven't read.

I'm required by law to tell you that publishers, authors, and PR minions often send me books for free, but I don't read or review every book that comes my way. Whenever I can, I'll pass those freebies on to you, so subscribe for updates if you'd like to score publisher giveaways!

If you read a great book, let me know! I'd love to hear about it, and if I share your recommendation on my blog, I'll send you a free book as a thank you. :)

Peace, love & grooviness ~
Joni Rodgers


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