Monday, July 12, 2010

Meet Jessica Billings

Welcome to the Lit and Laundry Summer 2010 Author Party.  See the contest rules in the tab above.

Jessica Billings is the author of The Girl Born of Smoke, a young adult fantasy available for the Kindle for $2.99 and paperback for $9.95.  To read the first chapter, visit

Jessica is currently going to school in the upper peninsula of Michigan but says she will always consider herself an Oregonian.  She likes photographing bugs and majored in biology and education at Oregon State.  She is now pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Engineering.  She learned to scuba dive when she was 14, but refuses to dive into the frigid waters of Michigan.

Jessica wrote us this post about what she's been up to this summer.  Enjoy!

This summer, I am working as a nanny for three siblings aged 2, 3, and 5. They can be incredibly sweet and endearing, but most of the time they are plain mischievous - especially when they’re left to their own devices. Last week, I was doing the dishes while they ate lunch and watched Tom & Jerry. In one instant, they switched from quietly sitting and watching TV to jumping on the counter, clamoring that they wanted to go play outside.

“Fine!” I shouted over the uproar. “Go put your shoes on and play outside then!”

They quickly disappeared and luxuriating in the sudden silence, I switched the TV off and continued with the dishes, glancing up once in awhile to check on them out the window. How nice is this? I thought to myself. I can actually trust them enough to go run around outside without getting into trouble or fighting with each other.

HA. Fat chance of that. I don’t know what I was thinking. I glanced up again and noticed them disappearing around the corner to where the chicken coop is located. A few minutes later, I heard the dog barking. Well that’s odd, I thought. How do I put this gently? The dog is…well, a bit slow. He’s a barrel-shaped English bulldog with an enormous under-bite whose two activities seem to be either chewing on everything in sight or sleeping. He isn’t the type of dog to bark over nothing. Something had obviously upset him enough to persuade him to put in the effort to bark.

I walked to another window and glanced out at the kids. My mouth dropped open. They had somehow obtained a bottle of sunscreen and had completely emptied it on the dog and the chicken. The animals were coated in the stuff. I stormed outside, feeling a small amount of satisfaction when the kids all glanced up at me guiltily. They knew they were in trouble. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I hollered.

The 5 year old, Shane, meekly held up the sunscreen. “We didn’t want them to get sunburned,” he mumbled.

I sighed. At least their hearts were in the right place. “It’s sunny,” the 3 year old, Alexis, added.

“MA!” The 2 year old, Sam, shouted and pointed at the dog.

“Yeah, I know. Max is messy now.” I sighed again. “Well sunscreen isn’t for your pets, okay? It’s only for people. Now let’s clean them up.”

We returned with a handful of towels and started the clean-up process. The dog was easy. He stared up at us with droopy eyes and chewed on one of the towels while we rubbed him off with the others. Next, we turned to the chicken. I hesitantly opened the coop and the chicken ran to the far side, clucking nervously. Now, I wouldn’t say that I hate chickens. I just don’t trust them. She looked at me with those beady eyes and her beak glistened. Maybe it was the sunscreen, maybe not. I glanced down at her feet (or are they claws?), which were scratching at the dirt. They looked sharp.

“Uh,” I said, trying to squeeze into the coop, “she won’t attack me, will she?”

“Dunno,” Shane replied. “She doesn’t know you.”

I edged my way closer in an awkward half-kneel, but the chicken ran to the other side as soon as I got close. “Stupid chicken,” I muttered.

“Jessica said a bad word!!” Alexis yelled. “You said ‘stupid,’ Jessica! You shouldn’t say that!”

“You have to apologize, Jessica,” Shane chimed in. “That’s not a nice thing to say.”

“Sorry, chicken.” I sighed again as she ran away from me. Her clucking sounded more urgent and I wondered if I would be able to protect myself with a single dishtowel.

“Cuh-CAW,” Sam said urgently.

“Yeah, her name’s Cocoa,” Alexis said. The disgust in her voice was evident. Whether it was at my sad attempt to clean their pet or my lack of respect for her name, I have no idea. In a last attempt, I threw the towel at the chicken, who leapt into the air and slashed at the towel with her claws (there’s no way those things can be called feet).

“Okay, that’s it!” I announced, snatching the towel back and clambering out of the coop. "She’ll just have to clean herself.”

“Jessica?” Shane said hesitantly.

“Yeah?” I asked, gathering up the towels and snatching the chewed-up one from the dog.

“You have a baby growing inside of you.”

“I-I what?!” I thought quickly. Do kids have some sort of innate sense of other kids? Is it true that they are more psychically inclined? I couldn’t actually be pregnant could I? Oh god, what if I was? I couldn’t handle this sort of thing 24-7.

He sighed and picked up his sister’s baby doll, handing it to me. “Pretend,” he said, sounding exasperated. “Now come on. We have to take your baby to the doctor. She’s sick.”

Jessica is reading along today and will be available to answer your questions in the comments.  Remember, for every author you leave a comment for, you will be entered to win an gift certificate!

14 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Alisa said...

I love the nanny story! Minus the chickens, I think I've lived through that moment, except mine was diaper rash cream.
Off to check out your book for The Girl.

Burbank Babe said...

Ha! My nanny story involved a very curious two-year old and dirt. In her diaper. The phone call from the mom later on, "We found dirt in her diaper, any ideas?"

"Well yes. While playing outside, she grabbed a handful of dirt and shoved it.... I cleaned her right away, though."

"Oh, I did leave her alone for a second to get the phone. AHA!"

I look forward to reading your book.

Nancy said...

LOL! Okay, based on Jessica's story telling of one moment in her life...I may just have to pick up her book. (I'll let you know if I do...)

Jessica - is there, perhaps, a Nanny Diaries type book in the making? ;) too funny.

Nancy said...

Just "shared" your link on Facebook :)

Nancy said...

And retweeted your author party tweet:

Jessica said...

Haha, I really should do a Nanny Diaries type of book. I've certainly got enough stories to fill a book! ;)

And ahhh, 2 year olds and diapers...I once took care of a different 2 year old who insisted on shoving her hand in her diaper and *showing* me whenever she was poopy. Yikes. :D

Jessica said...

Thanks for the extra publicity, Nancy, I really appreciate it! Good luck winning the Amazon gift card. :)

Debra L Martin said...

Jessica, that story was hysterical! You just can't make up these kinds of things - kids are wonderful, but I'm glad mine are all grown up now.

Nancy said...

Okay - I ordered the book. This is gonna be an expensive few weeks...I can already tell. ;)

Michelle said...

LOL! I can tell Jessica has talent. To see the humor is such a situation is a gift, and to be able to share it, more so.

Burbank Babe said...

I am just a few percentages through your book, but I LOVE it so far. I can't wait to find out where we are going...

Jessica said...

I'm so glad you're liking it so far, BB! Those are the best words an author can hope to hear. :)

Nancy said...

I had to come back and let you know that I've started reading your book...and have been getting mad at my kids for interrupting me ;) LOL! I'm really enjoying your story, Jessica!

Miri said...

Hilarious! Terrific story!

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