The Friday 5: Blurbs, Books, and back to regular life

The kids went back to school this week--woohoo! It was a "short" week, meaning four days of school instead of five (and two instead of three for my preschooler) but the parental readjustment to making lunches and getting myself dressed before 8 more than made up for whatever shortness the school people intended. I have to say though--at the end of this holiday break, I wasn't as at the end of my rope as I have been in the past. The girls (age 6 and 3.5) played together more and better than ever before. Sure, they were often dancing on the fine line between total contentment and total angry hysteria, but they stayed on the right side of that line more than the wrong side. So for that, I was hugely thankful. Anyway, end of babbling. The Friday 5...

1. Nothing is really happening yet with The Hideaway (book #1), but in February, I think we (me + my "team" at HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson) will start to talk about preliminary marketing things. My agent suggested I come up with a list of authors we could contact for blurbs and/or endorsements for my book. This is a wee bit uncomfortable (basically asking for praise) but I think it'll be part of the job, so I better get used to it. And all authors do it, and probably all authors get asked to do it, so it won't be anything new. I've put together a list of people I'd like to contact--some are total pie-in-the-sky authors who could possibly just sniff at me, and some are a little more accessible, and hopefully more likely to be willing to help. Or who knows, maybe those big-time authors will take it as a chance to help out a little writer like me.

Every since I heard a writer tell the story of how she asked Fannie Flagg to write a blurb for her book and Fannie basically told her to write the blurb herself and she'd sign off on it, I've been sort of wishy-washy about blurbs. They don't necessarily make me buy a book, but I know they are important to some readers, as in, "If Danielle Steele/John Grisham/E.L. James says this is a good book, then by golly, I'm gonna read it." For those readers, it'll be nice to have some authors who write similar types of southern fiction to say nice things about my book. And if, I don't know, let's say Rick Bragg happens to read my book and has anything even remotely positive to say about it, that'd be okay by me.

2. I just today signed up for Hoover library's Southern Voices book festival. If you've never been and you like books and you live anywhere bear Birmingham, you should come to it. They have a handful of authors who speak every year and I promise you, it's interesting whether or not you're a writer. These are great writers, but also great speakers. I'm most excited to hear Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, the husband/wife team who wrote The Tilted World, about the 1927 flood in Mississippi. Beth Ann is a poet and Tom is a novelist. (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is one of my favorites.) I'm also looking forward to hearing Laura Lane McNeal, author of Dollbaby. I haven't read this yet, but it takes place in New Orleans, so that automatically makes me a fan. (I love New Orleans and part of The Hideaway takes place there.) But the cool thing is, after Katrina came through and wrecked things, Laura took a different direction with her life and decided to pursue her passion of writing. Dollybaby is her debut and it's gotten a LOT of attention. I'm hoping to glean lots of wisdom and inspiration from her.

As a side note, I planned to attend the Friday night talk with Erik Larson. He writes nonfiction that reads like fiction--like supercharged, edge-of-your-seat fiction. Pick up Dead Wake or Devil in the White City (or probably any of his others) and you won't be able to put it down. I got online at 9:02 to order tix (they went on sale at 9.) I went through the whole payment system on my phone, entered my info, got all the way to the end, then got a message that said payment didn't go through due to a problem with the system and to please try again in a few moments. Well, a few moments later I was working my rear off in YCross, so I waited an hour until class was over. And Friday night was sold out. (Sad face.)



3. For those of you following what's going on with my mom, she's just finishing up her fourth out of six week-long chemo treatments. She'll go home tomorrow for what we hope and pray is two weeks of rest, good food, relaxation, and visits with friends and family before she goes back in for her fifth week of inpatient chemo. Cancer is bad. Chemo is bad (I mean, it's good, but seriously, it's so bad). But I read something today that offered some calm:It's really hard to not worry, not FRET, not be anxious. But that's what Jesus tells us to do. DO NOT worry. DO NOT be anxious. It's hard, but we try.

4. My friend Anne Riley has written a children's book based on the story of a family friend of hers. It's beautifully written and illustrated, and it will be released in the next couple of weeks. As Anne says in her press release, "Inspired by a real-life family, Voyage to the Star Kingdom is a vivid reminder that our stories don't end in death, and that the King is indeed making all things new."

star voyage

star voyage

Here's the gorgeous cover: 

This is her blog post that tells all about the book and the family that inspired it. Rather than me paraphrasing everything, just read it from her. Heads up, you may need some tissues.

(And PS, Anne is also a YA writer and her second book PULL is coming out in FEBRUARY! I've already preordered it on Amazon!)



5. Eric and Tami Taylor have the best marriage that's ever been on TV, I'm convinced. A real, honest, loving, patient, selfless, imperfect but hardworking marriage. That's not common. Long live Mr and Mrs. Coach Taylor. (And the Dillon Panthers.) 

See y'all next week.

The Friday Five: Tim Riggins, Twinkle Lights, & Inventing Confidence

  1. If asked what my biggest fear is, I’d have three—the dark (which is probably just a fear of what goes bump in the night when all the lights are off), roaches (don’t even get me started), and public speaking. This last one is a biggie, but fortunately, it’s not one that affects me all too much, mainly because I just avoid the issue. But with the publication of a book in a year and a half and the ensuing book tour, speaking in public will be firmly on my agenda. I’ve heard countless ways in which a person can try to overcome this type of fear, but the one that’s stuck with me the most is “invent your confidence.” It sounds a little like a take on “fake it until you make it.” Pretend you are confident, act like you are confident, and no one will know you feel like you’re about to throw up. Good thing for me I have a long time to work on it!
  2. I went over to a friend’s house the other day for a little visit. This friend is super stylish and gorgeous, and her house is the same way. Every time I’ve been there, it’s this little cozy den of style and beauty. Well, this time when I went, we’d been standing by her dining room table for a few minutes when she laughed and reached over to the center of the table and picked up one of her husband’s athletic socks. It had been lying in the center of the table right by her pretty candlesticks and Christmas decorations. I hadn’t noticed at all, but she did—and apologized profusely. The thing was—I loved it! It was a like a little nugget of reality in the middle of something beautiful. All beauty has a rough side and everything rough has beauty, even if it’s buried down deep. In this season where everything and everyone is decked out to the nines, if a friend stops by, or even if you have a party or gathering at your house, don’t fret if something is left out of place or isn’t perfect. Instead of offending people, it’ll more likely make your guests feel more at home, like they aren’t the only ones with a life that isn’t picture-perfect and magazine-worthy. (Come to think of it, maybe more magazines and Pinterest pics should show those stray socks and spills. It’ll make the rest of us feel more normal!)
  3. Everything is better with twinkle lights.
  4. Since I’m taking a break from writing this month, I’ve been revisiting Dillon, Texas, during my youngest child’s quiet time in the afternoons, and I’m loving it quite a bit. I binge-watched Friday Night Lights a couple summers ago and decided it was high time to visit the Panthers again. They don’t disappoint.
  5. I continue to be amazed by the children’s department at our local library. They are always putting on special activities, shows, and events for kids and their families, and the only thing they are guaranteed to get in return is a room full of spilled snacks, crayon drawings on the tables, and overturned drinks. Their sole purpose in putting these events on is to draw people to the library, to get people reading, to engage with the community. How cool is that?! #IWishIWereALibrarian

See y'all next week!