Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Eve Of The Best New Year Ever!

May peace break into your house and thieves steal your debts.

May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.

May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!

May your clothes smell of success and not smoke.

May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy.

May the problems you had forget your home address!

May 2007 be the best year of your life!

A very Happy New Year to you all!

Blessings as always to you and yours.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Plunge Into The New Year

I've avoided blogging, (or working for that matter) as much as possible over the Christmas Holiday. Feeling the need to relax a bit, I scaled back and only worked on my novel ... Hmmm. Now I feel ... behind. I'm not sure I'll ever feel caught up. I seem to have this ability to be one step behind in my TO DO list. Why is that, I wonder?

Am I a slacker? Hardly. I think I work more hours than I ever have in my life, including the time I was a medical practice administrator. I believe these days it's entirely the fact that I'm more anal in working for myself. I've got to lighten up. I take every email, every phone call, every piece of mail serious and immediate. Michael tells me I've got to not worry if I can't get to it the same day. That folks don't really expect you to answer them "immediately."

But, God knows I don't want any project, any invitation, any person to be left hanging. So, I'm still trying to learn how to let someone else do all the planning, booking, and message taking while I attend to things ... like writing.

It's a never ending process.

So now we're between Christmas and New Years. I'm really looking forward to kicking back and cooking for my friends on New Years Eve. Relaxing, having fun. And in the back of my mind, I'm also anxious for the New Year to start because I've got a feeling this New Year could be the start of something big. This is the week to teeter on the edge, isn't it? Like jumping off a high dive ... you know the thrill of the jump will land you into cool water and if you don't lean too far one way or the other, you won't hurt yourself. I feel like that right now. My toes are over the edge of the board. I'm ready to take the plunge.

I'm just wondering if my suit's up my crack and anybody's pointing and laughing.

Oh well. Time to go answer a few emails and pull my suit down.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Have A Merry One!

It's Christmas, 2006 ... where did the year go? I've not blogged much lately ... we've been quite busy this season. Michael and I had last minute shopping and baking to do. We saw the movie "Holiday" ... GO see it ... great movie. Then we spent two days in Atlanta with my sister, Kathy and her family. My parents were also there. She has a large home that's tastefully decorated to the brim! Oh my ... talk about a beautiful home. I'll put some pictures here for you. She's a top realtor in the Atlanta area, but her house is a showcase. And so is her life. She's six years younger, but has been married twenty-five years to her high school sweetheart. They've been dating since they were fourteen!

True, I swear to God.

He was the captain of the football team, she was a varsity cheerleader. I know. Right out of American Graffiti. They have three exceptionally talented children, all blonde haired-blue eyed beauties. Sara ... a graduate from Georgia State and newly engaged and newly employed with a top notch medical company in Atlanta ... Sam ... a junior at a college in Louisiana--full ride football scholarship (he bench presses 300 pounds) ... and Shaina ... thirteen, tall, thin; she doesn't know it yet, but somebody in New York would give her a cool million for her face on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.

I adore them all. And they love their crazy Aunt Pam. But I don't get to see them much, so when I do ... it's usually a party. My brother-in-law, Dave, grilled filet mignon's for everyone ... it seems we ate like Kings the entire two days ... well, hey, we are the Kings! (Kathy and me -- our maiden name ...)

Anyway, the weather this Christmas is not quite white down here in the South. Today is a bit dreary. Rainy, dark, and yet ... the lights are all on in the house, making it a little more cheery. We're expecting company later for food and more fun. We'll open presents and drink a few glasses of wine. Then it'll all be over. Another Christmas gone. It seems we all look for our perfect Christmas. I'm not sure there is such a thing. For me, it's a holiday of such mixed emotion. I don't ever think it'll ever feel right again. But ... we put on our happy face and get through it. I'm thankful to be loved by my family and friends. It's really what it's all about anyway.

I hoped you are loved this Christmas and I truly hope you have a merry one ... no matter your circumstances. Today is a day to forget pain, grudges, heartaches, and calories. The world stands still one day a year ... and relishes the sights and sounds of the holiday. It's not all about food, presents, and tinsel. It's about love ... come down from above, and from those who cannot be with us. It's about love from those who spend the day with us ... It's about making new memories.

Here's to yours.

Love to all this Christmas,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have Yourself A Sunny Little Christmas!

Yes, it's Christmas ... but you couldn't look out my front door and tell it by our weather. 70s and sunny. The trees are bare, and there's Christmas decorations all over the place, but watching a few Christmas Shows last night (Home Alone, and It's a Wonderful Life) I realized ... it snows in every one of them!

I've seen very little snow since moving to North Carolina. Only when we make trips north during winter, do I see accumulated snow. I think a white Christmas would be nice, I suppose. To look outside and see flakes collecting on the ground. Christmas always means snow to most of the world.

But for me, if I could control it, it'd last for that one day only. Then poof! Gone.

Do I miss the stuff? No. Our Christmas time in Northeast Ohio was full of the white, wet, stuff. For many, many years I treked through gray days, grayer dirty snow on the highways, deicing my car every morning during November, December, January, February, and March. I don't ski or ice skate. I haven't been on a sled in 40 years. So no. That white precipitation can stay away from my door. If I ever get in the mood for snow during the holidays, I'll travel to it rather than for it to come to me.

Thank you very much, I'll live with sunshine for Christmas for the rest of my days. It suits me just fine.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Eating Tips

This was sent to me recently, I'm not sure who wrote it, but hey ... it's a great guide for the holidays! Enjoy!

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even more rare than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have SOME standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming, "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

E.T. Santa

She was only six years old. Jillian's eyes, green like her mama's, watched me with enthusiasm make Santa heads out of old pantyhose, some cotton, and some thread. I was into crafts in those days. The year was 1982. We lived in a little town called Mogadore, Ohio. It was a kinder, more gentle time. Aaron was in school that day and Jillian had a bad cold, so I kept her home with me ... oh, so many years ago now. I remember this day vividly, because Jilly and I hung around the house and baked cookies then decorated the tree. She stayed in her Holly Hobbie pjs and we turned on some Christmas carols before settling down on the couch with our "Santa craft."

That particular year was the year of stuffed Santas. (It was the 80s, what can I say?) I stuck those awful things on all our packages and on the tree, as well.

"Me too, Mommy." Of course, how can you say no to a brilliant six-year-old, which she was. At that age, Jillian was reading Aaron's second grade books and doing third-grade math. So, I threaded a needle for her, showed her how to use it and said, "Be very, very careful or you'll prick your finger like Sleeping Beauty and not wake up until after Christmas!" Anyway, the child was too smart to buy that line of crap. She laughed at me, as usual. But, darn, that little blonde-headed beauty gave it her best shot.

She worked the needle back and forth and told me not to look. We cuddled up together on the couch that day with our crafts and talked about what she and her brother wanted from the "real" Santa. E.T. lunchbox, E.T. bedspread, E.T. TV trays, E.T. doll!

"All done! Open your eyes, Mommy!" I looked at it. I smiled. I sighed. It had to be the ugliest looking Santa I'd ever seen. And she knew it. I've always said, Jillian's heart has been filled with tears since birth. The child (now a grown woman) could cry easier than eating a Christmas cookie. (She still can.) God knows, I can stand anybody's tears, but hers.

"It's awful ugly, Mommy." The tears fell.

How do you agree with a little girl that's tried so hard? "Well," I said. "I think it's cute. It looks like ... IT LOOKS LIKE E.T. SANTA!" The tears dried up, the smile came back, and all was right with the world.

And so goes the story of E.T. Santa. The movie was just out back then. Everything was all about E.T. for my kids that year. And ever since then, E.T. Santa has been on my tree. It's a memory I'll cherish always. E.T. will be passed down to Jillian, but not before I enjoy it a while longer.

Christmas isn't Christmas, without it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Catch the Spirit

I'm having a wee bit of trouble getting into the mind of Christmas this year. The year has flown by so quickly and we've been so wrapped up in book stuff it feels like it should still be Fall. There's always the added stress of gift giving, holiday cards, extra cooking, parties -- and though its all fun and should be a joyous time ... all I feel like doing is ... working on my novel. Am I nuts? Am I a workaholic? Maybe it's because I feel the pressure to get it done. Maybe its because Michael has been so sick the past several days (cold and flu) and my dern back is acting up ... but I think a poor Christmas spirit for me stems from way back.

Growing up, my holidays were wonderful. My parents made them that way. As a Goodyear employee, Daddy took us every year to the big Goodyear theater for cartoons and candy and every child got to pick out a gift. It was a highlight of my year, let me tell you. I'd plan all year what toy I wanted. You see, we only received toys on birthdays and Christmas.

Mom loved to bake, so the house smelled wonderful all season. We had great tree, filled with those old bubble lights and angel hair that you hoped never got on you, or you'd itch all night. She was always in a good mood over the holidays. I loved every minute of it.

My grandparents were wonderful to come on Christmas Eve and bring a gift, but grandma's cooking was something out of this world. Santa came every year, it always snowed, and I felt loved. It molded my image of how the Christmas spirit should be.

It was years later that Scrooge showed up and ruined the Christmas spirit for me for many, many years. He blew in like Freddy Kruger, Jason, and the Grinch all wrapped up in one. After all these years, I still fight that old bugger.

So ... here I sit again, two weeks before Christmas, trying like the dickens to catch the spirit. The house is decorated, we did get that much done. It twinkles all over the place. You can't turn on the TV without getting bombarded from the advertisers that its time to spend money. But I guess, its a combination of so many things that drags my spirit into one of humbug.

If you have any ideas on how to catch that spirit, let me know.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Today I sat for a couple hours in a model log home, (owned by Kuhns Bros.) in Mebane, NC ... talking to customers, eating fresh baked Christmas cookies, drinking hot cider, enjoying a fully decorated Log Home, and selling Southern Fried Women. Donna and Linda, from Kuhns Bros., greeted visitors to the home with "we have a famous author here with us today, please take a look at her book, she'll be happy to sign one for you, and they make great Christmas gifts!"

Famous? Naturally, I start giggling in the beautiful breakfast nook where I am set up to sign. Famous. What a word, huh? Like ... hardly. Michael laughed and so did I, I've never been called famous before. I think of the struggle we writers go through. The hours we labor over just one sentence. Or the research that drags on for weeks. And, then there's the publishing and the promoting ... oy vey. You can read day after day where I blog about the undertakings of writing a book.

But then, there's always a little sweetness thrown in. Like being called famous when you know damn well that about the only thing famous about you is how your family calls you a "drama queen." I'm famous for that within the confines of family. But the word is fun to hear. It really doesn't sell any books though. What sells my book is first the cover, then the content. Folks really don't give a rat's pittutie if I'm famous. They just want a good story.

Now should I turn into a "Sue Monk Kidd" or a "Pat Conroy," then folks would line up because of the famous author. Many times, the famous author does sell the book first ... the story becomes secondary.

But until then, I'm very happy to be who I am. I'm Pamela King Cable, and I write Southern Fiction. And there ain't no shame in that. Or fame either.

Not right now, anyway.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Cold Mountain

If you ever get the chance to travel Interstate 77 from North Carolina up through Virginia, then into West Virginia ... do it. It has to be one of the most scenic interstate routes in the country. I've driven it this year, about a dozen times. (Or close to it.)

In the winter, the water is frozen that seeps out of the huge mountainsides in West Virginia. Like a waterfall suspended in time, its beauty is only enhanced when the sun hits it. The trees, though barren, appear asleep waiting for some mysterious kiss from spring to awaken them. Pop in an Enya or a Christmas CD, and it's a virtual Imax theater during that drive, you can be sure.

I spoke in Charleston this morning ... to the Vandalia Rotary. A smaller group, about 20 or 30 Rotarians gathered at 7:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, I was in severe pain during the entire speech. I had twisted wrong in the shower (I know, comical ... laugh) and something popped or slipped in my back. The pain shot through my hip and down my leg ... Michael literally had to dress me. Thank God, I was able to do my hair and makeup after a mouthful of Ibuprofen.

So, I limped in. Put a smile on my face and did my best. Which certainly wasn't my best, but the show must go on ... as they say. But I sold 18 books. So possibly, nobody noticed.

My wonderful cousins, Mick and Donna, were my guests this morning and it upset me that it wasn't my peak performance for their sakes ... but hey, family love covers a multitude of pain sometimes. And it was so great to see them again.

We drove home like wounded soldiers. Michael was running a fever. He's been coughing non-stop, it seems, since last week. A cold that won't stop. My back was only mildly better, but I propped myself up in the car with pillows and more Ibuprofen. Pay attention writers ... it's the price you pay when you take your book on the road. Your body wears out before your book does, usually.

I'm ready to stay home for a while. I think there are no long trips scheduled until January. That's a good thing ... but I enjoyed the trip home, despite the pain. The mountains and scenery are something to behold. I never tire of it. It must be something in my blood. I love the area between the two tunnels, an area called Bland, VA. Which is anything but. It's like a slice of heaven.

Although my favorite part in that trip home, is riding down the mountain near Fancy Gap and looking off to the left and seeing North Carolina from a distance. On cold, sunny days in winter, the air is crystal clear and you can see majestic Pilot Mountain. It's my favorite mountain. It tells me, I'm home. It's my "Cold Mountain."

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dirty Santa

Ever play that game?

I took a break last night from endless hours at my computer and attended the Christmas Party for my Women Over 40 group! We meet each month at Mahi's Restaurant in Greensboro, and last night's meeting ... well ... have you ever been in a room with 55 women over 40 in a party mood? The place was flowing with estrogen, glasses of merlot, and Christmas carols sung off key.

Mahi's serves great meals, especially their fish. Our buffet is always yummy. But most of us couldn't wait until dinner was over. Time to play Dirty Santa.

It's the game where everyone brings a gift. This year, all gifts were to be re-gifted gifts. (Of course, some were-some weren't) but it didn't matter ... the end result was a blast. Anyway, everyone gets a number. Number 1 went first and chose a gift and opened it. It was a roll of new duct tape and a book on 1,001 uses for duct tape. Number 2 then had a choice ... she could either take the duct tape and book or choose a new gift.

Obviously, she chose a new gift. Then number 3 could choose from any gift already opened OR choose a new unwrapped gift. It goes on like that until eventually, you've got women stealing each other's gifts all over the place. So many of the gifts were not as nice as others. So when there was a nice gift like wine glasses, or a soft cashmere shawl, everybody tried to steal it.

Here's the kicker. A gift could only be stolen twice. If Nancy opened a gift and Susan stole it from Nancy instead of opening her own gift, then Nancy could choose another unopened gift. BUT if next you stole Susan's gift (the one she stole from Nancy) THEN the gift was "retired."

A woman in front of me had her gifts stolen 5 times! Finally, she stole back her Playboy calendar she really wanted. But I had my eye on a mirror. In my opinion, the nicest gift of the night. It was beautiful. I couldn't believe somebody wrapped it for this party. Antique finish, hand painted frame, nice size, heavy ... a real treasure.

My number was 32 ... and by the time it was my turn, said mirror had already been stolen once by a woman who had decided where she was going to put it. Her friend beside her agreed it was a great mirror. The woman kept it by her chair, half hidden, hoping nobody would remember it.

Then it was my turn. Each of us got to do our 30 second networking commercial before choosing our gift ... so I said, "I want to thank everyone that bought my book this year, I hope everyone has a happy holiday ... and ... I'm sorry honey, but that mirror you got back there, is going to look real nice in my house. Hand it over."

The mirror was retired. It was mine. I think she ended up with Santa Claus salt & pepper shakers.

It's the chance you take playing Dirty Santa.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Evolution Of Hot And Heavy Work

If you haven't heard from me for a while, it's because I'm into hot and heavy work ... edits (major and minor) surrounding my novel ... TELEVENGE. Since returning from my Thanksgiving trip, I've buried myself in my novel. My goal ... submit by Spring. Spring is a broad term as far actual dates, but still ... Spring. Therefore, every waking minute available, I'm working on the novel.

Yesterday was a 16-hour day. I dragged myself to bed at 2 a.m. And still, the story rumbled through my head like an oncoming storm. I like what's happening, however. I'm thrilled when I tighten a chapter even more and it works. I toast myself with whatever I'm drinking at the time when I find hidden and unnecessary backstory. I get goosebumps finding the perfect word that has eluded me since the third draft. And I hug myself when I decide ... I'm writing this the way it needs to be written, not the way an editor thinks it should be written. Okay, I break some rules, but I know why I'm breaking them.

But I damn well know the rules of the craft I can't break. This is draft number 7 and by God, I'm landing on my feet with this one. And yet ... I know there will probably be at least one more quick rewrite before the final send off. Do I want the brass ring? Doesn't every writer?

Yes, I'm still promoting Southern Fried Women. It's doing very well, thank you, in fact ... it's like a recipe you try and don't expect much and WOW! It's a hit! I intend to speak at least once or twice a week at venues ... talking about SFW and wetting appetites for TELEVENGE.

But as I look back, this novel has been 15 years in the making. I began making notes and outlining the manuscript in 1991. But the story evolved as my life evolved. Time passed, I kept writing. Pieces of the story languished in typewriters, in drawers, in my head, and on yellow notepads. An overheard word, phrase, and a Southern-sounding name written on a napkin, intended for the manuscript, was found stuck in an old purse several years later during a move.

Stacks of spiral notebooks filled with scenes from Part I, cluttered the bottom of my file cabinet for years. Rewrites of outlines, chapters, character sketches littered my box marked, "FOR THE BOOK."

More changes in my life and major changes in the book occurred simultaneously. Working a full-time job left little time, other than weekends and occasional nights for changing or adding a sentence, a chapter, a word or two. But still, the story never faded from view. Never.

Every so often, another character, another chapter appeared on paper. Not a week went by for years, but what I wrote something for this massive work. It grew over time; the magnitude of it often overwhelmed me. Taking classes, working on the craft, throwing away the first and second drafts. Traveling all over the country to learn from the experts, one writing conference after another. I almost quit a time or two, convinced it was all crap.

Oddly, the story evolved again and at the strangest times. Got tighter, clearer, I "found my character's Achilles' heel and stomped on it" a time or two. I remember writing sixteen pages of TELEVENGE longhand in an airport. Tucking a notebook full of opposing outlines into my briefcase and missing my lunch over a period of weeks - cutting scenes and rewriting the entire second part of the book.

I remember writing when I should've been preparing payroll. Laboring over Chapter 33 for a whole week, when I needed to be compiling marketing material for my department. I also recall sitting in a writing conference in New York City, pulling out the synopsis, and tearing it up. Several days worth of work ... thrown in trash.

I remember sitting across from a literary agent, telling me the title sucked and that I needed to rename the book. So I told her to give it a shot. She did. And it was brilliant. Unconditional became TELEVENGE. (Looking back, it really did suck.)

I put the book on the shelf for a year, taking it down only occasionally. Wrote like a maniac for six months, then put it on the shelf again. Attended critique groups. Spent big bucks on a full edit of the first 100 pages. I read Donald Maass's book and the accompanying workbook on Writing The Breakout Novel. Twice. And then a third time. Then decided, as much as I respect him and like him, I don't agree with everything he says. And that's okay. I don't have to.

In addition to Don's book, I skimmed over a dozen other books on writing in addition to all my classroom work. The books pretty much said the same things to varying degrees. So I kept on writing.

I think of the professionals that wanted to chop here, and delete there, add this, subtract that ... I remember sitting at a table in front of Don Maass who laughed at the monster manuscript. I, however, only glared at that 4th draft of over 1,000 pages and cried.

Over a year ago, I stopped working on the sixth draft on a daily basis (only opening the file every once in a while.) Southern Fried Women took priority for a while. I finished the short stories, found a publisher, and began promoting it ... and now here I am. It's coming down to the end of this long journey. Should I have trashed the novel years ago? Or is it my destiny? How many books have I started and not finished because TELEVENGE calls me to attention every time? I have other books in me, yes, some nearly done. But this one has gripped my heart with a firm hand. It's the book many professionals declare you should write and throw out. "Get that first novel off your chest. Write the sucker and throw it out."

Yet, the green light is still on. I can't help but believe when you know, without a doubt, that there's a higher power involved in finishing a book like this ... you don't throw it out. You finish it. You take it all the way.

And so ... I am. I will do my part and pour myself into the story, one more time. Making it as perfect as I can make it. Then I will leave this book in God's hands. In the meantime, I've got some hot and heavy work ahead of me tonight.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Taste of Thai and Ihop

Last night's speech, given to the Southern Guilford New Generation Rotary, was delivered at the Taste of Thai Restaurant. A warm group of Rotarians listened intently and received me with open arms and ... they purchased my book. I love Rotary clubs. They get it. They really do. A growing group, this small but active Rotary feeds the homeless and is involved in children's charities. They are to not only to be commended, but encouraged to continue their quest for growth. Kudos to these great Rotarians.

I invited two of my dearest writing buddies (Ed and Dena) to last night's event to hear my speech. Afterward, we headed into the restaurant, soaking up a few glasses of wine and some spring rolls. Thirty minutes later we decided the Thai food had not quenched our appetites. That's when Ed said, "Ihop ... just around the corner ... anybody up for chocolate chip pancakes?" We paid the bill and lit out of Thailand like pigs at a picnic.

Going from spring rolls, peanut sauce, and wine to pancakes, patty melts, and coffee ... it's a wonder we didn't go home and get sick. But what fun! Writers spend so much time alone, that when they do get together ... it's a party. We celebrated too. Having just ended a long and grueling couple of years on the board of a writing group, that I'll not name, we toasted our relief to be out of it. Kind of like going from spring rolls to pancakes.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Week Off

A week off from blogging to take time and enjoy family and friends over the holiday. But, as much as you try to relax, it's a stress-filled time. The push to load the week with visiting the masses can wear a body out. Yet, Thanksgiving included all the trimmings. Tina and I cooked all day Wednesday (pies, beans, salads, dressing to name a few sides.) Thursday we popped a turkey in the oven, mashed potatoes, threw the rest in the oven and WaLa ... a Rich and Cable turkey fest! Tim, Dustin, Tina, Michael and I ate until you could nearly roll us from the table to the couch. But the table would've made Martha Stewart proud. I thoroughly enjoyed myself this year. Truly. Thanks to my dear friend, Tina who said, "It's your day ... do it your way!" And I did. Don't you appreciate friends like that. I love these Ohio friends. Tina is a rare diamond in my pocket of rocks from the past.

A day filled with football, food, and fun! I think I watched more TV this week than I do in 6 months at home. Tina and I enjoyed watching the classic, Gone With the Wind. In the end, she didn't really see the attraction of this old film. I suppose when you compare it to the special effects of the thriller movies of today it comes up lacking ... and yet, the epic remains a classic in my mind. The music, the words, the STORY.

Saturday, a book signing and reading at the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio! We packed the small room downstairs and sold a "right smart many" books. Those yankees know a good book when they see one, bless their hearts.

The rest of the week we visited the Ober Farm, my kids, my sister and her four beautiful girls and four extrodianarly beautiful grandchildren ... and yesterday evening we arrived home. What a week! Gordon and Elaine Ober, their children Martin and Claire, remain part of my beloved family. It was truly a treasure spending time with them and with Aaron, Annie, and Jillian, my children. (Well, Annie is Aaron's girlfriend and I've claimed her.) They fill their lives these days with work, friends, and family all on their own. But I managed to hold my 30-year old daughter on my lap and snuggle a bit.

My sister made us yet another Thanksgiving feast on Sunday ... her family is the light of her life, as they should be. Paula Deen could learn a few things from this family of great cooks. I swear.

Now ... I have to catch up with work. Lord, Lord, I have so much to do and never enough time. Tonight I'm speaking and I need to prepare for that!

Excuse the short blog ... but enjoy the pictures of our great adventure to Ohioland.

A week off and I feel so far behind I think I'm first! (Somethin' my daddy used to say ...)

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Ohio Thanksgiving

Off to the land of Champions ... Ohio, home of the Buckeyes. Whoo Hoo! Did you see that game? Me neither. I couldn't open my eyes long enough to watch. A nervous wreck, I had Michael come into my office during commercial intervals and give me the score update.

I think the only attachment I have to Ohio these days, are a few friends, some family, and The Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Jillian (my daughter) lives in Columbus and received both degrees from OSU. My son Aaron, lived, worked, and attended college in Columbus for a while, so we became very attached to the school and its football team. My whole family loves the Buckeyes. Except my stepson, a Penn State fan, but we won't talk about that. Will we, Christopher? We all still love him anyway. Especially his stepsister although she made sure to rub this victory salt in while partying in Columbus last Saturday.

So ... it's going to be the talk at the dinner table in Ohio this week. All the way through Thanksgiving. But isn't that what most American families do on Thanksgiving? Eat until you can't stand up, nap, read the paper, read, watch football. Eat. Enjoy the company of friends and family. Eat. Play games, clean up the kitchen. Eat.

Yeah, us too.

We'll be spending the day with our dear friends, Tina and Tim. At some point during the day, the kids will pop in. I'm going to enjoy this turkey day, I can already feel it.

Here's an update on the Kentucky Book Fair just in ... Email received this morning from the Director: Out of 209 authors SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN was #11 in Sales--quite a feat for a first time attendee to the Book Fair.

Whoo Hoo, AGAIN!

Just made my Thanksgiving quite the holiday! I give thanks this year for so many rich blessings the good Lord has bestowed on my family and me ... I truly do.

Y'all have a great one, many happy wishes on this blessed day.

Blessings to you and yours. (I won't be blogging again until Tuesday, Nov. 28th ... see you then!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How Thick Is Your Skin?

I love entering a room of Rotary members, or a full room of working women who have come just to hear me speak during their lunch. Any writer would appreciate the attention of 200 folk gathered at a hotel for a seminar. I've spoken to groups as large as a 300-400 people. Delivering a speech to that many souls is exhilarating, and yes, a bit nerve-wracking.

But I need to tell you of the lesser events. Of the disappointments. Of the events that humble your spirit, let you know just where you fall in the scheme of things. For to say every place I go is an event, a success, a triumph ... I'd be one foolish writer. One hamburg short of a happy meal. For this blog to be real, you need reality. So ... here you go.

The past couple of days I've spoken at two different libraries. One with an audience of two, and today's audience ... five (one was my husband.) Is it exhilarating and nerve-wracking? No. Obviously, not. But as a writer promoting her first book, I've learned not to take it personal. Many factors are involved. But you're there to get the word out. Even if only to ONE soul.

So, you throw away the speech. Today was really ... pleasant, because not only did I read from the book, of the five in the audience two were writers. We had a great conversation about writing and encouraging each other. The library had set a table with snacks, juice, and soft drinks ... so we enjoyed ruining our supper while we talked.

Was it a waste of time? Some writers would definitely think so. But, I sold six books from those two sparse audiences. It more than paid for the gas to get there. Sure, I could've used the time to be home writing, but I've got a book that's in the process of being promoted. I'll go wherever and whenever to do that. And if only one person shows up, that one person may lead to more book sales than you could imagine.

You have to have a thick skin as a writer. A thick skin not only to ward off rejection and criticism, but showing up to read and talk about your book to an audience of ... one.

Here's a quote by Srully D. Blotnick for every writer to wrap their head around and never forget. "What looks like a loss may be the very event which is subsequently responsible for helping to produce the major achievement of your life."

An old Appalachian song my grandma sang and played on her banjo was, "Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life ... it will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we'll keep on the sunny side of life ..." (Don't know who wrote the lyrics, but it's an old song and maybe you've heard it ...) Just remember to sing it during those times you need to thicken your skin.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mt. Airy Business Women Rock!

Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Name ring a bell?

Picture a simpler time ... a fishing pole, a sheriff and his deputy, a little redheaded boy, a town drunk, a goofy gas station attendant, a nosy barber, and a roly-poly mayor ...

Mayberry. The Heart and Soul of America.

The real Mayberry was patterned after the town of Mt. Airy. After all, it is the hometown of Andy Griffith. But my, my ... how times have changed.

Upon entering Main Street today, it still exudes a certain amount of nostalgia. The shops are much the same as they were in the 50s and 60s. Snappy Lunch, the Drug Store, the Sheriff’s Office.

And when I think of Mayberry women, I think of Aunt Bea, Helen Crump, and Thelma Lou. The plethora of women in that old TV show was ideal specimens of women during that time period. They wore house dresses, perfectly coiffed page boys or French twists, baked pies, and waited on Andy and Barney to come a callin'.

Well, let me introduce you to the women of Mt. Airy (Mayberry) today.

Last night, I spoke to the American Business Women's Association of Mt. Airy ... and these gals have turned the tide of "hometown women" into "women in business." Thirty-five women gathered at the Elks Lodge for their Annual Business Associate Event and to honor their elected Woman of the Year. Their motto, "Changing women's lives ... one woman at a time." My keynote speech to them reflected on the power of the Southern voice, and to be proud of their heritage ... but you could already see it in their eyes. This was their town, and they had made a difference as women in Mt. Airy.

This networking group of women belongs to the larger group, a national group of the ABWA. They've been asked to sponsor the statewide event next year in Greensboro, so their pride is well deserved.

Mt. Airy may be Mayberry in the fictional sense ... but in reality, Mt. Airy women have made their mark. They have rocked their community, their world, and have come out on top.

My hat is off today, to the women of Mt. Airy. I was very proud to be a part of them, if only for one evening in November. (And I have to say, the food was fabulous! I thought possibly Aunt Bea might've joined the ABWA and had agreed to cook for this event!)

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Call Me Kentucky Happy!

Sitting in my hotel room, after returning from the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, euphoria has overtaken my mood.

(In case you're wondering, that's me and Ann B. Ross in the picture.) I headed to KY with no real exectation (nor excitement) for sitting AGAIN all day behind a table, waiting to sell my book ... nor did I expect anybody to show up as I awoke to nasty weather and lots of rain in Frankfort. But this book fair took on a whole new meaning to sitting behind a signing table! What a trip! These folks in KY know what they're doing! Kentuckians love their books!

The committee was friendly and bent-over-backwards-helpful. They filed past my table all day, asking if I needed anything, even brought me lunch. But beside the typical networking, the crowds were enormous! All day long, folks filed past, saw the book and ... smiled. Many made the rounds then came back to buy. It didn't hurt that I sat directly across from two of my favorite authors, Ann B. Ross and Silas House. And what was so cool ... I was interviewed by local cable TV right there at my table! I'll take free TV publicity any day. I made great connections and created more speaking possibilities in the future.

In the end, I nearly sold out ... I sold 80 books! That's a whole lot for a venue like this where there are hundreds of books to choose from. And believe me, folks noticed. I got to speak today to a room full of authors. We traded information about book promotion and public speaking.

The entire book fair was run by Connie Crowe, manager of the Kentucky Book fair, and her crew. Joseph Beth Booksellers assisted in check out. They came to my table twice to ask if I had enough books because ... "we're seeing lots of your books sold at the cash registers ... want to make sure you won't run out!"

Thank goodness, Michael threw an extra box in the car before we left home. But ... Joseph Beth was able to get a clear picture of the top sellers ... do you think they might put the book on their shelves, without someone coming in and ordering it? Hmmm. I sure hope so.

Today was a great success. We more than paid for the trip ... take note writers.

The picture here is the first crowd of the morning, but as the day progressed, so did the crowds. By 10:30 a.m., you couldn't move. Mike and I were astonished as men and women bought bags of books. It renewed my faith in the reading market. It thrills me there are still so many folks reading books out there!

One woman stopped at my table and bought EIGHT books. Count 'em ... 8! They were for her book club. They're going to read Southern Fried Women! And it's plain thrilling when someone walks up to your table and says, "I came today just to see you and get this book I've heard so much about!" Made me want to get up and kiss them. I swear ... I had to refrain myself!

Michael and I were road-weary on our way here ... but when you see the fruits of your labor up close and personal like we did today ... it made the trip more than worth it.

I'm eternally thankful to the many readers who bought Southern Fried Women and said, "would you sign my book?" I'm more grateful to the KY Book Fair committee for believing SFW would be a great addition to their long list of books. The day flew by, so many folks walked past, stopped to talk, then buy.

I'm just plain ole' happy tonight. Thank you, Kentucky.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stuck in the South

Traveling across the South, delivering speeches from the bottom of my heart, I've met a few transplanted Southerners who amaze me.

And not in a good way.

It's been an eye-opening experience for me lately, that some people just don't want to live where they've ended up. An awakening. In fact, a few women I’ve met … two, as of late … walked up to me after my speech and declared with innate sadness in their voices, “I hate the South … I’ve been here (30, 25) years … and I hate it. I’m originally from the North! I want to go back!”

I wanted to cry. Why? What made them tell me this, I wonder?

One lady hailed from Michigan, the other born and bred in Minnesota, but both women were quite clear in their voice and in their meaning. They hated the South.

“I’m stuck down here!” Their proclamation astounding, but nevertheless, they wanted me to know it!

And I thought to myself … Nobody should be stuck anywhere. Not in America.

But then, I’ve been thinking about these women for the past few days … why in God’s earth would they say this to me? There I was, clearly a Southerner, I’d just delivered my heart – an inspiring speech about Southern accents, Southern women, and my love for this region of the country … and these women, without warning, blurt out … “I hate the South!” I think it surprised them as much as did me.

Suddenly, I was at a loss for words.

Next shock ... they buy my book. (Maybe they bought it to be nice and then went home and buried it in the backyard or something, who knows ...)

I mulled their statement over and over for hours. Then I realized … I had to "put this experience to bed." I couldn't figure it it out. We all know there’s good, bad, and ugly everywhere you go.

Ah, but once you fall in love with a place … it’s like falling in love with a person … you love them faults and all. And just like a human, every area of the country has its good points and not-so-good points. Even Minnesota and Michigan.

But most, or rather the majority of women who hear me speak … have found a sense of pride in the fact they were born, grew up, and have lived, worked, and will die in the South. They’re women who’ve raised their children in the suburbs of Atlanta, Memphis, and Birmingham. They’ve carved out careers in the cities of Savannah, Tallahassee, and Charleston, and labored side by side with their fathers and then their husbands on rural farms in Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. They’re women who’ve returned to the Southland when the rest of the country made no sense to them. The land of tobacco and cotton, mountains and sea dunes, red dirt and bayou—this land speaks to them, like none other. It’s home to them. It’s life to them.

My reply to the women stuck in the South was simply, “I’m sorry, it’s a real shame you feel that way, Ma’am.” And I smiled. Because whatever it was that made them feel this way … I am truly sorry it happened. Sorry they couldn’t get comfortable here. Because clearly--they’re miserable, unhappy women. The look on their faces were evidence to it.

As they walked away, I mumbled, “I would love to know how many Southern women live in the North and feel STUCK.” And then it hit me like two by four! Wham! I WAS ONE OF THOSE WOMEN!

But, bless God, I unstuck myself! I wanted to say to the women I met … How horrible for you to live in a place you don’t want to be. How devastating it must be to you each day you wake up as life passes you by and you dream about your home … wherever that is.

I wanted to reach out and take them by the hand and say, “Don’t buy my book, Darlin’. Save your money … and find a way to go home.”

Don’t live the rest of your life feeling … stuck in the South, or anywhere for that matter!

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Why is that when a woman looks a certain way, a little too heavy on the eye makeup or bad hair-dye job, folks just automatically assume … “oooh girl, look at her, she’s so trashy.”

Or a risqué song comes on the radio and your momma says, “Turn that nasty song off … it’s trashy.”

And then, according to my dad, there’s “trashy TV.” Desperate Housewives, (my mom’s favorite that she thinks we don’t know about) COPS, most reality shows … Dad just lumps them all into one big trash heap.

How about my neighbors across the street. It’s a rental house. These folks haul loads and loads of trash out every week to the side of the road. Where do they get this stuff? And it’s always the DAY AFTER the trash trucks pick up. Therefore, we have to look at their trash for a whole WEEK before pickup. I’ve called the City. All they do is whine that there’s nothing they can do. “It’s not their jurisdiction!” Better yet, they don’t even try. They’re not proactive enough to even think about giving me a name or phone number of anybody I can call who might be able to do something about it. They’re clueless. And we have to put up with trashy neighbors … all week.

But then, I remember a time in the distant past… those dark corners of my remembrance, about a instance I'd just as soon forget. A memory that sometimes comes back to me in my dreams. In those days, I walked in a dream world as if trudging through waist-high mud toward a shore I knew was there but could not see. Searching for some rocky substance I could grab hold of and pull myself out of the tar pit.

I faintly remember one cold, gray winter day from my long-ago past. A moment when I walked out of work to go to my car. My coat was old, tattered. My hair, in need of a good cut and combing. My shoes (funny how I remember the shoes) were worn down. And my countenance, I’m sure, as gray as the sky and tired. I walked past two young girls in the lobby of the building where I worked. I believe they were waiting in line to get into an expensive downtown restaurant. I remember being hungry, having no money until payday, and dreading going out into the cold to get in a car I had no idea would start or if I had enough gas to get home.

These trendy, hip, young girls, their world seemed rosy and sweet to me. In their early 20s, their hair beautifully done, pretty faces, nice smart clothes, I knew they worked in some law firm on the 14th floor. As I walked past, the one young girl said to the other …”She’s either poor as dirt or plain trashy.”

I suppose I was both. I recall thinking that if I ever saw a woman who looked like me; I would never think of her like that. I would never judge a woman by the color of her skin, the shape of her body, the newness of her clothes, or the countenance of her expression. I would assume she was in need, and that quite possibly, she’d just hoed a long row of sorrow. Maybe of her own doing, but who cares. I would know she was hurting, and nobody, not within my earshot would ever call her trashy.

The word stuck to me like glue for a long time … trashy. It’s a funny word … comedians use it a lot. It’s moved into a universal definition … for one who is a lesser human because they cannot afford the best food, clothes, cars, and homes. I think everyone should experience a little bit of “trashy” in their lifetime.

Maybe I should go across the street and ask my trashy neighbors if they need some help carrying it to the curb, think?

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Music of Southern Fried Women

Well, we certainly weren't Dolly and Porter. Or Tammy and George. Or even Johnny and June. But we did entertain the folks yesterday at the Mother/Daughter Tea at Heritage Greens. A beautiful Senior Living Center, the annual Fall Tea PACKED the room.

Walking in, Michael carried his guitar and announced, "Band's Here!" Which, was true. One guitar. I made Mike promise not to slip into any Smoke on the Water during our performance. Reluctantly, he agreed. With his rock and roll background, I'm sure it's an itch he'd love to scratch someday. But, like Elvis, that old gospel bluegrass runs in his veins, as well.

If you'll remember, Southern Fried Women was put to music last month by Rose Lindsay Pfaff, an accomplished pianist from Greensboro. Since then, I've been asked for repeat performances. Miss Rose, however, cannot accompany me to all these places ... and so, my accomplished guitarist husband has added one more duty to his long list as we travel around the country.

The guitar is an instrument lending a beautiful sound and backdrop for Southern Fried Women. Many of the old gospel tunes originated on the guitar. Frantic, Michael practiced last week until his fingers were sore. But oh, how the ladies loved him!

"So soothing!"

"Keep the guitar, no piano needed!"

"I knew every song he played!"

"Has he been on TV?"

We're not sure he's ready for the Grand Ole' Opry just yet, but the performance will be repeated in the future, I'm sure. In fact, I was surprised he even sang with me in a few spots. My eyes got big hearing his pretty baritone voice! I could've stopped right then and kissed him! It was perfect. He had worked so hard ... and it paid off. Because we sold a bunch of books afterward!

The Music of Southern Fried Women is not new. It's old material ... most of it has been around for decades. But, like an old pair of shoes that's comfortable and won't wear out, this music will continue to be around forever. We've just put into a whole new light, that's all.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Being "You-Nique"

Yesterday, the title of the Virginia Dare Business & Professional Women's Symposium, centered around our unique abilities, talents, passions, and each woman's heritage. Being "You-Nique," A Day of Rejuvenation And Self Discovery.

Yes, thanks for asking ... I was the Key-Note Speaker! Quite an honor for this all-afternoon event. And boy-hidy, these women know how to have a good time and learn something in the process! Their seminar, their grand get-together, held in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina ... entertained, inspired, and motivated the women of the Outer Banks.

Donna, Rae, Shirley, Laura, Fran, Rosalie, Mary and all the amazing women involved in spear-heading this event, worked endless hours. This labor of love was evident from the over 50 door prizes, exquisite vintage pocketbook table settings, the program booklets, unbelievable gifts to the speakers, and table decorations of pocketbooks for each women to take home ... complete with pearls, candy, a poem, and a charm!

Talk about feeling SPECIAL! Over 100 women, gathered together to celebrate!

Three guest speakers wowed the women ... Courtney Northrup, Founder of Gallop Funeral Home. An amazing young woman who worked her way through school and into her dream job. Joyce Anderson, Coach, Writer & Lecturer. From my area, Joyce and I also belong to a group of networking women in Greensboro. Joyce's presentation ... Inspiration, needs to be heard by every woman seeking to find her purpose and passion in life.

And of course, how could I not mention the female "Elvis!" Felvis. The owner of Diamonds 'n' Dunes on the Outer Banks, rocked out ... hoping we would believe she was Elvis--reincarnated as a woman. Well ... hey ... she looked and sounded authentic to me! What a hound dog!

A lunch fit for a queen, fun, fellowship, making new friends, selling my book--Southern Fried Women ... a picture perfect day.

The theme for this symposium was, "Old Pocketbooks." Thus, all the gorgeous centerpiece purses on each table filled with flowers of vibrant colors. Like those old purses, I wanted to stir these lovely ladies' imaginations, create the story in their heads, conjure up their own memories, and pour the image of my character into their spirit ... so I started off with My Grandma's Purse ...

Grandma’s pocketbook … black (always black) big, roomy … scary … peering into it was like looking into a deep, dark well, or a cellar … remember the feeling? And how it smelled? A little musty, or of leather, or tobacco, or Blue Waltz perfume … no rhyme, no reason, totally disorganized … emery boards, teaberry gum, twist ties, rubber bands, a spare button from last year’s coat, safety pins, a needle and thread, Sen Sen (remember that old licorice minty breath perfume? Nasty.) A hair net, her cheap dime-store pressed powder that all the Pentecostal women of the day wore, her embroidered hankie, a bag of peppermints, lifesavers, or some kind of candy to keep us girls quiet in church. Reading glasses, and always … always her New Testament. Lint … if you got to rub your fingers on the bottom … and usually a coupon for 20 cents off a bag of bread flour or a recipe for chicken pie--stained, grease spots, crumbled, a recipe she’d wanted to get from her friend, Flossie, for weeks. My recent wallet-sized third grade picture, bent, but she’d lovingly written my name and the date on the back, and I knew she’d passed it around to all the women in her sewing group--her fingerprints were all over it. A Monday morning grocery list, or a scripture she’d written down … to give to a friend in need. There were always … pennies … loose change … never more than a few dollars … crumbled … no wallet. She didn’t have much money … but what she did have was a pocketbook that kept me quiet during long sermons … a virtual attic to rummage through right there in the church pew.

Compare that to my Prada knockoff of today … organized, everything-at-my-fingertips wallet. Visa, Debit Cards, drivers license, lipstick, perfume, Tums, antibacterial gel, sunglasses, mascara, eye drops, my business cards! CVS, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Lowes Cards, Insurance Card, palm pilot, a mirror, Blockbuster card. Extra Strength Tylenol, car keys, tweezers, coupons for Starbucks, tampax. A twenty-dollar bill, maybe two--enough for lunch and nice tip … movie ticket stubs, a gas receipt, dry cleaning receipt, a restaurant receipt, mapquest directions. A piece of paper with a website written on it … one I want to remember to check out. A cork souvenir from a wine tasting, something you'd never, ever see in Grandma's purse! Spare earrings, backs for those earrings. A Cape Hatteras brochure, a hotel keycard I forgot to turn in, and of course … the obligatory modern day woman’s CELL PHONE.

What a difference time makes … I don’t even want to think of what my granddaughter’s pocketbook might hold someday.

But that's what makes us all UNIQUE! As I came home again, to over 187 e-mails and tons of work waiting for me, I planted my feet up on my desk and closed my eyes imagining the warm November breezes of those barrier islands, smelling the salt-air, wishing I was there again. Thank you to the women of the Outer Banks! I want to come back and see you all again sometime soon!

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat!

It's Halloween and we're on our way to the beach! Yippee! To speak at the Business Professional Women's Symposium at the Outer Banks. The weather is to be warm and sunny for this almost November Day ... and I hope to fall in love with another part of North Carolina!

No tricks in the wind ... only the treat of a lulling ocean, a blue sky, and a new place to dream about going back to ...

I look forward to talking to the many bookstores Michael has mapped out for us and the women of the BPW.

I'll report back this weekend!

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, October 30, 2006

How Bad Do You Want It?

I want to talk about a message I received yesterday... actually, it was part of this blog from a wonderful person named, Dale. The message to me was ...

Writing is the easy part. I think each part gets harder and more frustrating. Writing is like singing--everyone wants to, many try, but few are good, and rarely is one successful. Book promoting is, without a doubt, the hardest part and can get expensive before it pays off. I've read 98% of P.O.D. (print on demand) authors never make any money. The two biggest limitations for me are time and money. - Dale

This writer is correct on many counts ... The analogy between writers and singers is a good one. Writing is a craft, just like singing. Good singers spend most of their lives perfecting their voice and their technique, same with a good writer. It takes years of due diligence. A professional singer must practice ... a writer must essentially write every day.

I spoke on a panel yesterday ... the WGOT Annual Meeting presented a panel to members and the public on marketing and publicity ... "What Do You Do After You Write The Book?" The task is daunting, and I don't mince words about it. It is--daunting. It's overwhelming at times. But you MUST get used to the idea of promoting your work as part of being a writer. There's no way around it, unless of course, you just want to publish for the hell of it and you don't care if the book sells. But most writers ... want to sell their work. And like any other product made in America ... you've got to get involved in the marketing aspect.

It can be expensive ... gas, paper, printers, advertising, a publicist ... let alone the time involved ... it's tough. NO doubt about it. Create a budget ... and before you even finish your book, sit down with your spouse or significant other and talk about this. Create a marketing plan. You may be lucky enough to have a publisher that will chip in some bucks toward your publicity ... but as Dale is referring to P.O.D., or the self-published author ... there are web sites dedicated to helping these authors. Dan Poynter's web site is fantastic. Another is the Publicity Hound. And Book Promotion 101. Get on the Internet ... research it! Find something nobody else has found!

And yet, if you have decided that writing is your passion, it's what you want to do with the rest of your life ... then let's face it ... promotion is part of your impending success. You're going to have to deal with it eventually. Not every writer has the same resources. (Not everybody has a husband like mine. :-) Don't put it off ... network, get ideas from other writers, find inexpensive ways to promote yourself. Learn how to write a News Release, get free publicity when you can.

But I want to say that you can't believe everything you read when it comes to percentages and statistics ... Who writes that stuff? Self-publishing and P.O.D. is popular these days because writers don't want to be told they can't get their work published. They'll do whatever it takes. They're willing to take that RISK! And they ARE making money, I assure you!

Time and money can be huge limitations. And you can negatively allow them to affect your writing. Just don't let them stop you entirely.

How bad do you want it?

I went to a Biz Life luncheon at $30 a plate today, just to hear the world-famous Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President of Bennett College. She was the guest speaker for this Movers & Shakers luncheon. I paid the $30 because I heard her speak this past January and was deeply moved. I want to speak with the passion she delivers. I want to learn from her ... I wanted to be moved again and was willing to pay for it.

She was everything I anticipated, once again. Dr. Cole's message is one of SERVICE. Her concluding statement made me cry. Speaking to a crowd of 500+ people, all successful business people, she said, "Since you've made it to the top, you BETTER turn around and LIFT somebody up!"

I'm not sure where I am in the scheme of things when it comes to success, that's for sure. I know I don't have all the answers. But I do know this ... I'll never give up. And if I can take a few along with me ... so much the better.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Booth Review

Just when I think ... it can't get any better ...

First a rant ... for all those who filed past my booth and said, "I don't have time to read," ... I want to say turn off the TV, and pick up a good book!

Okay ... that's done. On to the blog.

The past two days ... a grueling 6:30 a.m. to after 10 p.m. workdays ... all spent in a booth at the High Point Junior League's holiday shopping extravaganza ... and it absolutely ROCKED!

But let's start back on Thursday ... RF Microdevices ... sometimes you chock it all up to a learning experience. I'm sure the company is a wonderful place to work, the buildings are clean and beautiful, the grounds nicely landscaped, the people bright and cheery. But a word to the author-promoting-book wise ... HEALTH FAIRS are NOT a place to promote your book. (Unless you write medical stuff.) It's just not a place to sell FICTION!

First, it wasn't open to the public.

And second, employees weren't swarming into the frigid cold outside tent, and the few who did show up ... came to pick up free information, fill a bag with pens, refrigerator magnets, and free medical information. Employees drank hot chocolate, were glad to be away from their desks, and got their blood pressure taken.

Fact is, nobody comes to a health fair intending to buy a book! I sold three books and left early. Just not a venue for book promotion, that's all.

AND YET ... the next day we entered Providence Place in High Point (the old Belk's store in the mall) and set up our booth. By this time, we weren't expecting much from Thursday's "booth" experience.

But by Friday's end we had sold over 40 books! The venue was perfect. Small, intimate, great clientele. (Because it was a fundraiser for the Junior League--the public had to pay to enter, meaning they came with buying intentions!) The vendors were classy, no junk. The booths were spacious and I met so many great folk. The contacts were amazing! Networking ... the avenue to the stars. I met several women who were interested in me speaking at their groups or book clubs.

It was hard to believe Saturday's sales could outdo Friday's ... but they did! The "headlining" speaker at lunch ... I spoke to a room full! Over 90 women, bought tickets at $15.00 a pop to have lunch and hear this ole' Southern Fried gal speak. It brought tears to my tired eyes a couple times ... but Dena--you would've been proud of me, I made them laugh! Really, they were a great group of women, easy to talk to, the response warmed my heart ... by the end of the day ... another 60+ books sold!

A total of over 100 books sold in three days! Yeah ... we worked our butts off, but the pay off?

Huge, Mama.

It's near the end of October ... we've gone over our projected numbers of books sold! Southern Fried Women is still going strong and it keeps gaining momentum ... all because Michael and I think outside the box. We throw a lot of stuff up against the wall. Some sticks. Some doesn't. We market and promote the book, all while trying to find time for me to write. It equates to 7 days a week ... long hours ... but here's the difference:

It's our time. Our business. We work it ... our way. Take note writers. I realize not everyone can or will do the type of diligent and consistent marketing we do. But one thing you have to realize ... you MUST get out there, speak to people, talk to bookstores, find ways to get the word out about your book on a regular basis. I've said this before ... writing is the easy part.

It's what comes next that will take away your sleep and turn your hair gray overnight. But I would NOT trade what I do ... for anything. I'm a writer. It's part of the job.

Speaking of writers ... a plethora of women filed past my booth and proclaimed their desire to "write a book." None of them had the first clue of how and where to start. I encouraged these onlookers to stop talking about it and join a qualified writing group, take writing classes, attend a conference, go to the Internet and research, but the best way to start writing ... is ... to start writing! And to read. Turn off the TV and read. Set priorities, give up unnecessary wastes of time, and start writing!

Are vendor booths a good thing? Few are. Very few, in my opinion ... but this one, the booth at the Junior League, kicked butt! Yes, I'd say -- very successful.

Just when I think it can't get any better ...

it does.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Calling

Is it that simple? Do people have "callings?" Does it sound preachy? (God forbid.) "Callings" are not an easy life. People take a lot of sh... okay, I'll be sweet ... FLACK for a "calling."

But, I have been called--to the life of writer and speaker. No other time in my life have I been surer of that fact, than the past two days.

I spoke Tuesday at the Winston-Salem Rotary, a larger Rotary group of men and women, approximately 200 strong in the audience. This prestigious group of dedicated and long-term Rotarians opened their hearts to me. I’m always a little hesitant before giving the speech, COMING OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO THE LIFE OF A WRITER, because I do lay my soul open for all to see … and some of it isn’t pretty. However the speech is inspirational and uplifting. Tuesday, I bore witness to that fact.

Several Rotarians greeted me as I finished my presentation and walked down the steps to proceed to my book-signing table. They wanted to shake my hand. They relayed how the power of the message moved them. Several prominent businessmen in the group wanted a copy of the speech. But one Rotarian stands out in my memory. A black man, distinguished, tall and handsome, he stood in his beautiful suit with pools of tears in his eyes. He shook my hand with vigor and said he’d been going through some trying times. That my speech blessed him and inspired him.

I was touched beyond words. I hugged him. I had to. It’s all I know how to do to respond to a statement like that.

The line formed for signing books. Many bought multiples, and nearly every person wanted to shake my hand, touch me, and tell me they appreciated my speech. Or they marveled at the way God had brought me to this place in my life.

I thought about it later. I’m constantly inspired myself, because I oftentimes feel like I’m in an out-of-body experience. Like I’m watching this all happen from a distance. At times, I’m blown away by the magnitude of the response to the speech. Riveted to their seats, audiences lean in and listen intently-- this country girl has something so vastly different to say from their normal weekly presentations.

I realize I'm not the only woman with a story to tell. And so many have gone through things I haven't ... like dreaded diseases or losing loved ones close to them. But this is a story nobody's heard. Something different. My story. A speech that until now, few if any, have stood at a microphone and spoken the words.

Today, I spoke to the Randolph Rotary in Asheboro. A smaller group, but a wonderful group of Rotarians. They too welcomed me with open arms and yes, the response mirrored the response of the Winston-Salem Rotary. This group has positively affected the lives of so many--within our borders and outside the U.S. Small but mighty, the Randolph Rotary is a shining example of Service Above Self.

Months ago, before writing this speech, I contemplated long and hard its content. I read and reread the quote by Harlan Ellison – “It is not enough to love literature, if one wishes to spend one’s life as a writer. It is a dangerous undertaking on the most primitive level. For, it seems to me, the act of writing with serious intent involves enormous personal risk. It entails the ongoing courage for self-discovery. It means one will walk forever on the tightrope, with each new step presenting the possibility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear.”

And yet, Harlan Ellison also said, … “You cannot discourage a real writer … break a real writer’s hands, and s/he will tap out a story with feet or nose.”

And so … I wrote the speech, COMING OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO THE LIFE OF A WRITER. I'm nobody special. I know that. But I also know I have a destiny.

To write great stories. To speak and inspire the masses with the story of my life. This is my calling.

And the past two days … validated it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

West By God Virginia

Take me home ... country roads. It's a song near and dear to my ole' hillbilly heart. Sunday started early. At the crack of daylight, Michael and I headed for peak season--Fall color in the mountains of West Virginia, and the West Virginia Book Festival.

The weather grew colder leaving our blessed Carolina sunshine. But the breathtaking landscape around Fancy Gap, Wytheville, and Bland, Virginia on the way to the rugged Appalachian mountains of WV is something to behold. The color was magnificent. In my mind, I saw my dad as a young man with his red and black plaid wool coat, his hunting cap, and his rifle by the door. He was ready to hunt a few deer, maybe snag a squirrel or two ... "Good eatin', " he'd say. My blood warms every time I travel back to the land of my birth.

There's something about it. Something that draws me. As much as I love North Carolina and have no plans to ever leave it, the hills of West Virginia bring me much comfort. Autumn being my favorite season, it was a great reason to head to Charleston.

The best part of the book festival was meeting Rhonda White and Ross Ballard. Two great WV writers. Their love of words and books mirrored my own. Rhonda writes medical thrillers and Ross? Well, Ross is a man of many talents. He is also an actor and producer, I think I may be seeing Ross in the future about putting my book on tape/audio/cd. Rhonda, if I didn't know better, I'd say she was my long-lost sister ... I'm sure we'll meet again. Maybe for a tall, cold one. What do you think, Rhonda?

I sat at the West Virginia Writers table for a couple hours, signing books, greeting passersby, and speaking to other writers about the writing process and my book. A satisfying and relaxing trip, I'm looking forward to coming back in December and my speech at the Vandalia Rotary in Charleston.

My cousins popped in later in the day, they were a sight for tired eyes! I loved seeing them again. Mick and Donna, Charlie, Denise, and Debbie ... a great time with the kinfolk, and dinner at a fabulous Charleston Italian Restaurant. The Samples family has been a great supporter of me and my work ... I am ever grateful to them.

Traveling back home Monday morning, we stopped at Tamarack. Look it up. It's a great tourist stopping point on 77 South. They're carrying my book! Southern Fried Women can be purchased at Tamarack! Thrilled, I dubbed the short mini-trip to WV ... a total success!

If you ever get the notion to really see the beauty of the East Coast Mountain ranges ... they can be found in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and West, by God, Virginia ... because it is ... a mountain range made by the hand of God. I know they're not the Rockies. But the Appalachian mountains have their own unique appeal, climate, and people.

And, by God, I'll go every chance I get.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oprah and Rita

Oprah came to Greensboro this week-end. And so did Rita Rosenkranz. Oprah came to an event at Bennett College ... Rita?

Well, Rita came to Greensboro for the Writers' Group of the Triad, UNCG, and so many writers in the triad ... wanting to hear from a real live New York Literary Agent ...

Michael and I picked Rita up at the airport, toured her around Greensboro, and took her to dinner where members of the WGOT board and a few others gathered at the OHenry Hotel's Green Valley Grill. We toasted and hosted this prominent figure of the Industry.

Rita will speak Sunday Evening from 2-4 pm in the auditorium of Weatherspoon Art Gallery Corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets. Although Rita is a non-fiction literary agent, she is connected with many writers, agents, editors, and publishers in the industry and will answer questions about fiction, short stories, memoirs, writing for children, etc.

The day was filled will endless sunshine, warm autumn breezes blew over Dixie today. A great day. Because how many women like Oprah come to Greensboro? Not many ... but hey ...

... Rita Rosenkranz is in town too.

Blessings to you and yours.

Oh … To Pee In My Own Potty

Ain’t it the truth ladies? Do you not hate public toilets with gaps in the doors? Wide enough for every four-year old to peek through! Or the Rest Areas where you have to walk a half-mile up a hill to stinky toilets? And why is there always a line? Then there’s McDonalds … where you never plan to eat, just a quick stop to use the facility and they look at you like … “Hey! You ought to a least buy some fries if you’re gonna use our toilet!”

I won’t even mention the truck stops and gas stations where the same sex toilets are so nasty you walk in and walk right back out swearing you’ll pee in your pants before spending two seconds in there. Used condoms on the floor, unflushed toilets, lids up … sorry for this sexist statement, but my husband agrees … men are pigs when it comes to public toilets. Searching frantically in my purse for antibacterial gel, I run to the car. Off to find a clean bathroom, even if it’s a hotel lobby somewhere … at least those are usually clean. And Lord knows, I’m no prude …I ’ve done my share of squatting in the woods, but I’ll take that over a filthy restroom any day.

Sigh. It’s a female curse. A literal road hazard.

Thank God, for my patient husband. Middle age will not allow me to wait long before I’m hollering … “I gotta pee … NOW!”

Anyway … after one too many stops on the way to Asheville, we finally landed at our last destination before going home. I’m dead-dog tired.

Malaprops. A bookstore that will make your head spin. The place is amazing. I presented my offering to the goddess behind the desk, in hopes she would catch a glimpse of the halo above my head and realize I’m worth a read … and possibly a book signing! We’ll see … I’ll let you know.

Asheville is the coolest town. Shops, cool bars, and neat restaurants. All in the backdrop of the mountains. Breathtaking. The leaves looked brighter in North Carolina, maybe because we were on our way home.

I arrived safely back in Archdale to 237 emails. I’m sorting through them … but all I can say at the moment, is it’s so good to be home, I nearly hugged my toilet.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Farewell To Memphis, For Now

A trolley car took us from our hotel to downtown … Beale Street, again ... and the Gibson Showcase. Gibson … guitars. Ring a bell? They make Gibson guitars there … needless to say; Michael was in “hawg” heaven. My husband, having taught guitar, plays beautifully and is in the market for a new one … but that $2,000 item is going to have to wait a few more months.

Dressed to the nines, we went to what we thought would be a killer party. Crowded, about 300 authors/spouses/whatever showed up … but only for a buffet dinner. (We were way overdressed … I suppose T-shirts and blue jeans are okay no matter who you are and where you go these days … I’m just a little old fashioned, I suppose.)

Tennessee Humanities didn’t have a program or even a welcome, just the obvious … tables and balloon centerpieces, an open bar, and a long table of catered food. And I didn’t see anyone I really knew or recognized. The bigger name authors, to my knowledge, didn’t show up. But I suppose … maybe that’s a good thing. The rest of us schmoozed with each other … it was fun for a while, but I was ready to head out early.

Another walking trip up Beale, loud blues and jazz bellowing out from a dozen bars, parties of all ages, even a bridal shower party in pink shirts and cowgirl hats (a bridal posse) … strolled down the street. But it was time for another trolley ride to the hotel and sleep for me …

I’m such a party animal … zzzzzzzzzzz

This morning we headed back to Knoxville … up at the crack of oh, I don’t know … eggs in a pan for me … pancakes for Mike … yet another Cracker Barrel knock-off. Some Cracker Barrel wanna be. It was okay … hot food and a shot of coffee to our bloodstream … a necessary evil when you’re looking at putting 400 plus miles behind you in one day.

Traveling to Knoxville … Sunday … football all the way … (my headsets were glued to my head, tuned into my I pod … Fleetwood Mac, Allison Kraus, and Bruce Springstein.) The road ahead-- due East. I 40 looks the same in every state it crosses. Arriving at our last hotel for this trip, we prepare for one last stop on Monday morning.

The Mama bookstore of them all … Malaprops in Asheville, North Carolina.

Stay tuned …

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Elvis Is Everywhere, Man

The tour started at 10:30. A shuttle over to the grounds, the house looked small. A small Southern farm plopped down in the middle of the busy streets of Memphis. Compared to the mansions of the “stars” of today, the house was no bigger than some I see around Greensboro. But Elvis loved it. As materialistic as you think he was, he really … wasn’t.

The tour (self-guided) was crowded, but I enjoyed it -- immensely. Strolling around and through his home was surreal. I wondered if he could see us, invading Graceland, and if he’d rather that we … not.

But … the first glimpse of the inside, (think avocado green, orange, shag carpet, red velvet, white fur beds, and eight track tapes) totally 60s and 70s décor, was in a word … TACKY. But that was the period of the day we lived in back then. We were all tacky. Every last one of us. Elvis was just a little more flamboyant about his tackiness. He loved his home. You could feel it.

The man had more money than Donald Trump … he could’ve sold and bought homes all over the world. Each one a little bigger than the last. But not Elvis. Memphis was home to him. The poolroom, the stables, the jungle room, (oh Lord, it looked like a bunch of wild animals had been laid to rest in there, their skins covering the gaudiest looking furniture I’ve ever seen in my life.) But it reflected a life so far removed from the mainstream.

The whole house and grounds is now a national landmark. Can you imagine how Lisa Marie must feel; knowing her family home is a national landmark? Her home, a virtual museum? But Elvis represents a generation of men and women; some of us still babies when he made his first hit record. I remember him best as a man recreating himself in the 70s in Las Vegas, white leather jumpsuits, sweaty faces, and middle-aged spread. Yet Elvis was more than that. A gifted musician, a philanthropist, a giver of cars/homes/help, he wanted to be loved as he loved, adored as he adored others, and needing peace ... he went back to his roots ... his first love of Gospel and Country and Blues ... and Graceland.

I don’t think people like Elvis were ever meant to see old age. Elvis, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Natalie Wood … I don't believe these beauties could handle aging. They were here for their time. A short time, but it revolved around them at the height of their careers and the prime of their lives. When they were the most beautiful. And when their lights went out, the world stood still for a moment. The rest of us ... remain to age.

Elvis lives everywhere … today … you can see it in the mourners filing past his grave. A beloved man, his music – groundbreaking … his life – a legend. (Note to tourists ... please do the rest of us a favor and DON'T take your children under 18 to Graceland. They don't understand it, and unless they behave, they ruin the moments for the rest of us who pay to see it!) But then of course, I believe that applies to taking children ANYWHERE in public. Another blog subject for another time ... perhaps.

A quick stop at Burke’s Book Store in Memphis (close to downtown.) Another older store, but quick with character as soon as you enter. Thousands of titles, established and easy to find, I felt at home immediately. I gave my book and press kit to a kind manager, who seemed … rather interested … I guess.

He was friendly, that was good and I can only hope this awesome store orders my awesome book. But only God will know that, in the end. They did, however, steer us to a great place for lunch … Huey’s! A local lunchtime bonanza. Sandwiches, burgers, red beans and rice, lots of great stuff. A local favorite, the place was packed.

Tonight … I’m off to a gala event for authors at a fancy/schmancy place on Beale Street. Tomorrow morning … we head back to Knoxville, and then home. I’ve not opened my email in a week. God help me.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hey, Y’all

I felt like crap the morning of my presentation. Nervs? Who knows. Maybe the time change. Memphis is an hour behind Greensboro and I wasn’t taking to the spicy food well. So we got dressed and headed to the festival early. I had hoped to feel better before my talk at 2:00. We ducked into the Marriott and the Magnolia Grille for lunch, and who do you think sat at the table next to me? Rolled in sitting in a wheelchair, I thought perhaps she’d broke her foot or something, but managing to get seated just fine, she giggled like a school girl. Lee Smith!

I thought about going over, just to say "hey." (I’m sure she didn’t recognize me.) But I felt … well, like she needed her space. And I wasn’t quite up to schmoozing … so I let the woman and her friend eat in peace. Two other gentlemen joined them later, but Michael and I relaxed and enjoyed our own lunch before heading to the festival.

(I relished the fact that I was sitting just feet from one of my all time favorite authors, a legend in these parts. Lee Smith. Sigh. She may never recognize me, but I'll always enjoy seeing her--even from a distance.) My point is, you just never know, aspiring authors, who you’re going to see at conference/trade show/book festival. Take Note!

A 2:00 p.m. presentation, a panel with Melinda Rainey Thompson, author of SWAG. We were given the topic, The Truth and the Fiction about Southern Women for the hour. Melinda and I both felt we’d have no problem coming up with enough material to wow our audience. Melinda went first, spoke graciously about how she developed the book, its content, and about the Southern woman from her point of view. Then she read from her non-fiction book, SWAG - Southern Women Aging Gracefully. It speaks to the hearts of so many women at various ages and times in their lives but especially the Southern woman. The chapters and her lists of everything Southern, stand alone, and are humorous yet thought provoking. I loved it. I bought a copy and took it back to the hotel to devour it. A great read. It should be on every woman's book shelf.

Thing is, Melinda and I worked very well together. We had the Southern woman, truth vs. fiction (a fine line, don't you know it) all sewed up! An audience of over 50 people, laughed and cried with us … an experience I’ll not forget anytime soon, I assure you.

I spoke next, read from Southern Fried Women, and the reaction and response thrilled me to the bone. When mentioning my novel, Televenge, the ooo’s and ahhh’s were the same as always. The response to my constant pitch of my novel is now universal. I swear. The same everywhere I talk about it. It's on its way, folks. I'm finding time to work on it ... no matter how busy I am.

But then, the real excitement had just begun. After speaking we were to head to the tables in front of the building. The weather was perfect. Sunny, blue, warm skies and no wind. The crowds mixed and mingled in and out of the buildings. As I walked through the grand lobby where the books of all the authors were being sold, someone grabbed my arm! "Ms. Cable, you’ve sold out of all your books, do you happen to have any more with you?"


Michael had watched woman after woman pick up my book that morning and buy it. After finding we were down to 0 books, he ran to the car and then back into the building with books under his arm to supply the table. Twice!

I signed books and festival posters, and later went to dinner happy as a pig in … well … let’s just say barbeque!

Speaking of bbq … another evening walk to Peabody’s (the hotel with the ducks) okay … look it up … and then dinner at a restaurant you’d never know existed except someone said to go. Rendezvous. Exclusive, sultry, smokey, secluded, and very, very Memphis. You have to find the alley it’s in first. No sign, no storefront. No presence … not until you walk down a flight of stairs and enter a world from another time. Waiters, all older African-American males … white shirts, black bow-ties, aprons, and big smiles … dry-rub barbeque ribs, beans, slaw, roles and a pitcher of ice-cold beer! It wasn’t long and we realized we got there just in time. The wait for a table soon became an hour long. The rich folk who stay at Peabody's had found the alley.

But the wait is worth every tasty morsel. More spicey food for my tummy, but I figured it might be a while before getting back to Memphis, so I dug in with all ten fingers. Later that evening I decided to only eat light the next few days … I’d had enough pig for one week.

Hey, Y’all … go to Memphis! It’s an experience nobody should miss! At least once in your life … travel to the land of Elvis, the Mississippi River, cooked pig, and home of the Blues. It’ll do your ole’ heart some good.

Tomorrow, Graceland … in all its glory.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Walkin’ On The Beale

After breakfast at Cracker Barrel, a chemical spill on I-24 West, dead stop traffic, lots of backpedaling, and a 45-minute detour through the countryside around Nashville, Michael and I finally arrived at Lightning Source and Ingram. An 11 a.m. tour through the facility (and omigosh, what an amazing facility) lasted over an hour. Lightning Source (my distributor owned by Ingram) … talk about high-tech! Thousands and thousands of square feet of space, taking up several blocks, prints and distributes even more thousands of books each year for publishers all over the country.

(Lunch at Hardees-yippee-how original) and a quick trip to Ingram to meet book buyer/author, Alethea Kontis. She has a new story in the latest issue of InterGalactic Medicine Show, an online magazine by Orson Scott Card and edited by my close friend, Ed Schubert. Ed hooked me up with Alethea and after reading her awesome story, Small Magics, I had to meet her. It was no surprise to learn she was on her way to Memphis for the Book Festival, as well. Her new book Alpha Ooops!, a children’s picture book, is a scream … beautifully illustrated … fun!

The Tennessee landscape rolls from the Great Smokey Mountains to miles of white-crusted cotton fields. Acres of cotton, large farms all butted up against the Interstate. It’s a sight to see--a picture of the old South. My mind fills with story. I see the character and his mule … my plot thickens … hmmm … I take notes on the way to the next book store stop. The old man, his hair blends with the cotton, tells me about his mule … I’ll talk to him from time-to-time on this trip.

We arrive in Dickson, Tennessee. The little town reminds me of a tiny Asheville. Volume One Book Store is 30 miles outside of Nashville and appears to be more of a Hallmark Card Shop on the outside. But on entering, it’s a book lover’s paradise. An older store, yet one of those places you could loose yourself in. A store where browsing is involved. Here you stay all day and forget the time. With smiling faces, they took my book and press kit, promising to let me know if they’re interested in a book signing … I walked away, again satisfied, having met yet another book store owner.

(Note to writers: You don’t meet “owners” in Barnes & Noble, that’s for darn sure. It’s nice to meet the real decision-makers instead of employees who “have to send it to Corporate first.” Gotta love those independent book stores! And yes, Dena, they have cats! Especially the older stores, there's always a cat sprawled out over a book case or at the register counter. A fat cat that gives you that Mae West look and purrs, "For an extra dollar you can pet me. Go ahead, I dare ya.")

Cover to Cover, a little book store in Arlington, a suburb of Memphis, already had my book on their shelves! Thrilling! I felt so honored and the owner, a sweetheart, inquired as to a book signing in the Spring.

Off to Memphis, a quick look-see at the Convention Center and the set-up of the Book Festival, a check-in to our hotel, and then a hop, skip, and a boogy down to Beale Street. “Walkin’ on the Beale …” I get goosebumps thinking about it. What a place of history. Memphis is all about two things in my estimation. Music and barbeque.

The weather--cold and a bit raw, and the street not as crowded as anticipated. But the atmosphere, the home of the blues, drew me in. The bars, the lights, the sounds of the music echoing out to the street, a street (only two blocks long) where there are only pedestrians and no cars … it’s soothing to the soul. Dinner at Hardrock, too tired to go any further, we caught a cab back to the hotel.

Tomorrow it’s an amazing journey into the world of an author at her first invitation to speak at a major book festival! Stay tuned.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Writing, it has been said of late, is the easy part. It’s what you must do after the book is done that can be a real bitch! Schmoozing … a process of interacting with the industry. Authors MUST learn this ancient art. A necessary piece of the public relations puzzle in book promotion!

Most hate it … I enjoy it. Never having a shy bone in my body, I’m very much at home meeting new people. But if you’d rather slit your wrists than leave the comfort of your computer desk, then you need to find a way to motivate yourself … have deep pockets to hire it done … or hope your publisher thinks you’re the next J.K. Rowling and your book will outsell the Bible while they throw all caution to the wind and spend umpteen thousands of dollars to promote your work. Well, hmmm, I suppose it’s the dream of all authors … but unfortunately, not the reality. So buck up literati, learn how to smile, put on some nice clothes, take a speaking class, network and get out there!

And here’s the thing, new authors … even if your publisher agrees to put you on the road, making your connections for you, bookstores, TV appearances, radio spots, etc. it’s usually not for more than two to three weeks. You have little input, and when that blitz is over … it over. The rest is up to you. Be prepared to put your own publicity plan into motion. Two, three, even a month of constant publicity is not enough. Sorry to burst your bubble. Enough said.

We left North Carolina at 7 a.m. Our first stop on the way to Memphis landed us in Knoxville. Carpe Librum … classy, older store. I met the two owners just briefly. Friendly and welcoming I felt a warm sense they were truly interested in my book … they seemed to recognize the cover and both owners appeared to be very supportive to authors. I noticed many new titles on their shelves … the store was polished, yet a place where I imagined many in the community relaxing or searching for their next interesting read. I look forward to visiting that store in the future. Busy street, great store front, all around fantastic store.

A bonus store, one we didn’t have information on, but noticed across the street … Hargreaves … a new store only 8 months old. Their titles are not all the same as Carpe Librum, but the store owners were pleasant, even their dogs – two Corgi’s whose names escape me. They (the store owners, not the dogs) took my information with enthusiasm. (A press kit made up especially for this trip.) They said they would read the book and contact me … I’m happy with that.

Speaking of “shops around the corner,” we went in search of our next bookstore, The Shop Around The Corner (conjures up the You’ve Got Mail movie, doesn’t it?) … but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Either gone out of business, or so well hidden only the locals know of its location. NOTE to authors … if you’re seeking out the next bookstore to visit, check the web. If they don’t have a web site, chances are they’re not in business or haven’t the first clue as to promoting their store (or you.)

Off to Athens, Tennessee and in search of Village Book Shoppe. Two sweet ladies behind the counter, one the owner … seemed somewhat interested. Kind of hard to read, but the store was bright and friendly, and I always come away with high hopes.

Next stop on Wednesday was A Novel Idea … a store in Chattanooga. Great location, college area, quaint shops and at first, I wasn’t sure if it was just a store that sold only used books, but upon entering I could see they had a new book section. Great old store with lots of character. High ceilings, old plank floors that creaked, and a sweet storeowner that worked her own counter. (I love that.) I shook her hand …

“I’m on my way to the Southern Festival of Books in Memphis, stopping by book stores on the way, I’d like to introduce myself and my book …”

“Oh yes, I’ve seen this somewhere … were you at SIBA?”

“Why, yes …” And the conversation is off and running! You can do this too!

The next bookstore involved a trip up a winding, rather scary (yet beautiful) road on a side of a mountain to a town called Signal Mountain in search of Wild Hare Books. Owner, Judy, greeted Michael and I with a bright and cheery hello and a smile. Her tiny store was an obvious force in her community. My eyes immediately caught sight of the shelves for Southern writers! … and we clicked. I anticipate hearing from Judy in the future!

Lunch at Corkys Barbeque in Knoxville (traffic was horrible in Knoxville.) Corkys’ bbq … okay … certainly wasn’t Carter Brothers. Dinner … not worth mentioning … fast and cheap we were too tired to care and just crashed at a fast Italian food place before following bread crumbs back to our hotel and falling into bed.

Tune in tomorrow for the next days adventures of Mike and Pam’s trip to the wilds of Tennessee and the even wilder hunts for book stores! And then there’s the trip to Ingram and Lightning Source … What a tour!

Blessings to you and yours.