SEVEN DAYS! I can’t believe it myself! In exactly ONE week, the saga of Ace Jones begins again with Down & Out in Bugtussle! And what a journey it has been -not just for Ace Jones- but for me as well…
Way back when (don’t you love it when a story starts like that -haha!) Okay, so way back when I was teaching high school Spanish at New Site High School in the outskirts of Prentiss County, Mississippi, I spent more than a few of my planning periods thinking about the character of Ace Jones. Sure, I wanted to write a book -I just didn’t think I could do it. I thought I was wasting my time. But still, I hung on to all of my thoughtful scribbles and a few years later, while living in Colorado Springs, I up and decided that I was going to do it. Really do it. I was driven to this conclusion, not from sheer will-power (surprise!) but rather from complete desperation.
You see, I had this part-time job that made me want to go Harry Caray (like the Will Ferrell character on SNL) every damn day of the week.
Let me just tell you a little bit about that… I was working as a Math Interventionist (yeah, I said math and anyone who knows me knows I have to use a calculator to add single digit numbers so there you go). I would like to go on record and say that I was tricked into that job. Yeah, they tricked me because the actual position I’d applied for was called Achievement Specialist. And I’ll admit that when I saw that posting, I thought to myself, “Now that sounds pretty ambitious, but I’ll just click this submit button and see what happens.” What happened was they called me in for an interview.
The guys who interviewed me were nice. We talked about SEC football and so forth and so on and things were going great until one of them said, “So what this position actually is is a math interventionist.” I apologized and told him I was an English major. He pressed the matter and finally I said, “Hey, look, I’m going to be honest. Math wasn’t my best subject.” They thought that was great and I knew I was in trouble. They wanted someone who could empathize with the students who were struggling. Encourage them.
Help them with the basics. Just the basics. Of Algebra One. Surely I could do that. And they were so nice. And that school was so nice. They took me on a tour and I’d never seen anything like it. The library had a huge three-story window that faced the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. And so began my short-lived career as a Math Interventionist.
The school itself was a freakin’ architectural wonder, the people I worked with in the math department were the coolest, and the students I was responsible for “encouraging” were absolutely precious (well, most of them). But spending twenty-two hours a week in an Algebra classroom proved to be quite a task for me. Because I hate math. And beyond that, something wasn’t quite right. I got the distinct feeling that I was filling a position that someone somewhere (like perhaps the district office) had said, “THIS is what we’re going to do and THIS is how we’re going to do it.” And then the people who hired me were just like, “Oh, okay. Whatever you say, ol’ sport.” You know, that kind of thing. But that’s just my hypothesis and I do have a creative mind…. At any rate, I thanked them graciously and bowed out of that position.
So I went home and fixed my husband a real nice chicken dinner after which I announced my plans to give writing an honest shot. I told him that if nothing came of it, then when he got out of the Army, I’d go back to teaching school and never say another word about it. Later, he told me later that he’d had the worst day ever when he came in to that chicken dinner and found out I’d quit my job. But that night, he just smiled and told me he thought I could do it. Which was great because I still wasn’t so sure.
So in March of 2010, I started writing what would become Diary of a Mad Fat Girl. I self-pubbed that little b-word and in March of 2011, it showed up on the New York Times and USA Today’s bestseller lists. And no one was more surprised (or delighted) than me.
Fast forward two years and four months, and here I sit writing a blog that started out being about this new book I’ve got coming out. Yeah, back to that! It all began with Diary, which led to Happily Ever Madder, the ending of which necessitated the induction of the Li’l Mad Fat Shorty, Ace Jones: Mad Fat Adventures in Therapy. And now, Ace Jones comes full circle in Down & Out in Bugtussle, which could be the best one yet!
So how do I feel about things now? Well, life ain’t no fairy tale, especially for a Mad Fat Girl, but sometimes -every now and then- things turn out just right. So let’s all get Down & Out in Bugtussle and let that roller coaster Roll On!