Friday, February 27, 2009

Going our Separate Ways...

Not breaking up!! Sheesh! Are you crazy? SF and I are parting ways just for the weekend. She is going to her college roommate's 40th birthday shindig in the mountains of North Carolina where she plans to laugh with old friends until her tummy hurts.

And I am going to Atlanta to our SCBWI regional conference with several southern gals where I intend to fill my brain with inspiration, and laugh until my tummy hurts too. Oh! and stop by Anthroplogie :-)

Thanks John and Lindsey for watching all of the little girlies! We love you!

SF, I'll call ya from the road!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I was standing in line at the post office earlier this week, and the woman in front of me asked the postal worker when the next rate increase would be.  "May" was his reply.  Good grief!!  I guess stamps are going to go up a couple of cents every year from here on out, and since the last rejection letter that I got was from a submission that I had sent in almost a year ago . . . the "forever stamp" is my new best friend.

I'm loving the new trend of agents and editors going paperless and allowing email submissions, but some people still want to use snail mail with an SASE.  A couple of years ago, I remember sending in a submission without realizing that the rates were changing the next month.  I frantically emailed the editor wondering what to do  . . . what to do?  At first, I thought, "Hey, maybe this will give me an 'in' with the editor--a legitimate reason to touch base."  The reality was that I never heard a word, even after I snail mailed a new SASE with proper postage and I drove myself crazy wondering "what if".  

So, writer friends who are still in the "pre-published" category out there--buy a roll of forever stamps and pat yourself on the back for using such brilliant foresight.  I've still got some very old, presumed to be stale, submissions out there--but I used my forever stamp, so I can still hold out hope that I will hear from one of them.  Someday.

I just hope I don't have to wait forever.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Katie has a website!

Ahem...Check out my new website! ~focused in part on a little known novel named KISS AND TELL ;-)

I won this jewel of a prize at our regional conference last year. How cool is that?!

"If you build it, they will come," right?

Fingers are crossed.

My site was conceived and designed by the fabulous Shelli Johannes-Wells and her husband at Bilan, Inc. Thanks Y'all!!!

P.S. Remember that article we told you about?? Well I got an email yesterday that said, "Congrats on making the COVER!!!!!!" Oh my goodness. We are speechless! Look for it on newsstands March 1st!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Random Disgusting Post . . .

First, I must say that I thought I was about to post something truly gruesome and disgusting, but my friend Christy one-upped me yesterday with a post that would make David Sedaris cringe.  But, I'll go ahead with my post anyway . . .

About six months ago, my daughter came downstairs and whispered to me that her guinea pig Copper looked a little strange.  When I asked for details, she took my hand and led me to her room.  Strange, indeed.  Poor Copper had a piece of poop the size of a pecan trapped in his booty.

Lucky for me my brother Gene was in town.  Gene works in high-tech medical sales, and
 he performs spinal surgery on cadavers as part of his training.  So, something like this was right up his alley.  We googled "constipated guinea pig" and found specific instructions for performing the life-saving enema.  I held the guinea pig and he performed the procedure.

Fast forward to this week--once again, my daughter came downstairs with that look
 on her face.  "It's Copper.  He's got the poop thing again."  Well, dang.  My brother was no longer in town, and I knew I could never perform the procedure alone.  Naturally,
 I called Katie who said she would come and 
hold Copper while I did the deed.  

Here is Katie with our table of surgical 
instruments:  baby nose bulb, tweezers, mineral oil, warm water, toilet paper, q-tips, and lot of 

And here I am performing the extraction (for some reason the poop fuses with the skin, so you have to be very, very careful and use a delicate touch).


To read about some other crazy things we have to do as moms check out the armchair anthropologist's latest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Help

Katie and I had such a great night last night.  My friend from high school has just published her first novel with Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam called The Help.  The book takes place in the 1960s in Mississippi and explores the relationships between African American housekeepers and the white children they raise from infancy.  Please read this review of her fabulous book--it is going to be HUGE!  And after hearing her read from it last night with the fabulously talented actress Octavia Spencer, I am salivating to crack the binding on my copy.

Here we are with Kathryn.

And here is Melanie Addison who writes tons of great stuff for our local paper as well as acting as coordinator for the Oxford Film Festival (and she has a great blog).  She is standing with the charming Octavia Spencer.

And here we all are at dinner following the signing.

Plus, when I was standing in the front of the bookstore before Kathryn's signing, three people came up to me and handed me their books to sign, mistaking me for the author.  Good omen, perhaps????


Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Valentine's Day to ME!!

My wonderful hubby took my children away for the entire weekend so that I could get the first draft of novel #2 cranked out.  I had been stuck in the same spot on my book for months--desperately needing a big block of time to really hash out some plot problems.  I know, I know . . . it's Valentine's Day, but we did the whole romantic weekend last week in New Orleans.  And, I couldn't ask for a better gift.  So thank you, John, a million times!!

My first novel is out with a few people, and I'm playing the waiting game with it right now.  But, I kept getting rejections from agents saying that they liked my writing, but they wanted to see something a little more plot driven.  Did I have anything like that?? Well, yes . . . book #2 definitely has more pop complete with crazy car chases, repressed memories, an abduction . . .  

So, here it is (to the left of the Heineken). My first draft.  Ready to be read by Katie and . . . anyone else out there willing to take a look for me??

And, now I'm off to have sushi with my friend who's in town for a book signing, and then I'm back to work in the morning.

Oh, and this is totally off the subject, but my new issue of Southern Living arrived today and guess who's in it??  My three beautiful girls.  Check it out here.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holy Moly, WE have been interviewed!!!

Today SF and I had our first official photo shoot. We have been interviewed by Oxford's social magazine as up and coming "pre-published" children's authors. The next big thing :-) (Dear God, please help us sell a book and not let these people down.)

We got such a kick out of this because we frequently joke about needing footage of us working - for the E! True Hollywood Story that we are sure to be featured in one day. LOL

BUT... what struck me today was how utterly blessed and humbled I am to think that there are people at this magazine and in this town who want us to succeed as much as we do! That our community is pulling for us and featuring us in articles BEFORE we have actually done anything?!

Now that's an amazing town!

P.S. The cool photographer whose back you see actually emailed us after the shoot to tell us that we ROCK! How cool is that?! Thanks Joey Brent! You rock for boosting our egos and encouraging us in this journey!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Hubby and I have just returned from a great weekend in New Orleans.  With our crazy schedules and three crazy kids, we have not gotten away together in years.  Really, it's been years (plural).  

We had a great trip which started with a complimentary upgrade to our room.  Yes, we had a gargantuan suite in which to run around  all weekend with champagne at night and fuzzy robes.   Ahhh. 

We also had many, many great meals.  This picture is from the Napolean House where we had muffalettas.  

Notice the beer bottles and tobasco sauce on the table.

We also met up with my roommate from college, one of my dearest friends who is now a professor at Tulane.  She said, "I often think of something you said to me when I was coming to Mississippi for your wedding." I took a deep swig of my Bloody Mary and said, "Yikes, what did I say???" 

Well, here's my brilliant twenty-five-year old advice to my friend who had  confessed to me that she was a little worried about coming to Mississippi and fitting in with my hometown friends--my Mississippi friends are more In Style magazine and Blahniks and she is more Faulkner and Birkenstocks.  I said, "Don't worry about fitting in because you won't fit in.  So don't even try. Just be yourself and they'll appreciate you for being smart and quirky and different."

While I could have said it a little less abrasively, those are good words to live by (I need to remember to impart this wisdom to my teenage girls someday).  This is also good advice to keep in mind when I'm writing.  I acknowledge that the market is important and that we should all be looking toward the hot sellers as we try to become published--but if you write something to "fit in" then you'll never get anywhere.  And, you'll look like a poser.  So figure out who you are and what your voice is and what your very own quirky story is and roll with it.

Let your freak flag fly and LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULEZ!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

REJECTION - number one...

Dear Lord, I know I have just posted "RANDOM PANIC - number 3," please don't have this series find me posting "REJECTION - number 89" one day.

SO, for all five of you that read this blog... Just kidding, it's more like 10 ~haha. I finally got the rejection email. However, the dreamy agent gave me such detailed suggestions for improving the story that I feel both grateful and overwhelmed. I was amazed at the care she took to give me such wonderful feedback.

Anyway, that's my news. It's 3:31 a.m and I don't feel that sleep is in the cards for me tonight. I wish I could actually write, but wouldn't you know, I can't. I can only sit here and blog :-) And I wish I could call SF, but she's in NOLA having fun with hubby (For you yankees, that's New Orleans) and it's 3:30 for pete's sake!!!

Anyone up??

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RANDOM PANIC - numero tres

So today I sat in my bed feeling rather green. As in "I might puke."

Tomorrow I hear from the dreamy agent who has my novel. I figure the worst case scenario is that she will decline and give me some great advice. She really is quite brilliant and has given me fantastic advice about a couple of picture books in the past. I have certainly had many rejections for many different books, so no big deal, huh?

The thing is, I love this novel with such a dorky cockiness that my parents keep getting mad at me. I know I wrote the darn thing, but I love the characters and their story. And it doesn't feel like I made it up. It feels like I simply relayed a story I heard about some adorable teens (and one dickhead). And so I want them to have an agent as much as I, Katie, want one.

Granted, she is the first person other than my husband, mother, and professional critique group to even read it. So I am aware that the odds of the first agent picking it up are like a zillion to one. And I have prayed that if she is not the best match for me that she will decline. I have prayed this enough that I think I will be reassured if she declines, that she was definitely not a good match for me long-term. But still...

Having an agent means that one other person on this planet, other than my family and close friends, believes in me. And one person who actually knows what she is doing. And works in this industry. Oh Lord, I have a stomachache.

And although having an agent doesn't mean I will sell my book right away, if at all... It means my family will likely support this indulgent "hobby" of mine with a little more enthusiasm. And maybe I can delay the job search a little longer. (I worked as a second grade teacher this week and almost committed myself to an insane asylum. To say it SUCKED would be a gross understatement. Just mentioning it makes me want to take a valium.)

Of course it could just be that I am hormonal today, and, in that case, I'll just eat some chocolate and be fine in a matter of hours. Thank you for listening.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Day Christopher Paul Curtis Was Standing in my Kitchen

February is black history month, and my third grade daughter created a giant poster board telling about a famous African American (unfortunately, I let her leave the house this morning before snapping a picture of it for you all to see . . . sigh).  She chose to honor the Newbery Award winning author Christopher Paul Curtis because she met him last year when he was standing in our kitchen and scared her silly. 

Let me back up a bit here.

I help with the Oxford Conference for the Book, and as part of this conference, we bring in a children's author.  The Literacy Council, University of Mississippi, Jr. Auxiliary of Oxford, and Square Books all pitch in and purchase books written by the invited author for EVERY fifth  grader in the city of Oxford.  The kids read the books in school and then get to go and hear the author speak in person.  It is a huge and wonderful event--past authors have included Laurie Halse Anderson, Richard Peck, Karen Hesse, TA Barron, and Sharon Draper.  This year on March 27th we will be featuring Trenton Lee Stewart.  Jay Asher will also be coming as part of the Conference to speak to teenagers in the community about his best seller Thirteen Reasons Why.

Last spring, I was able to (after some begging) pick up Mr. Curtis from the Memphis airport and drive him to Oxford.  Yes, I had Christopher Paul Curtis in my car for a solid hour.  If you have never heard him speak, go.  Now.  He is an absolutely delightful, funny, smart, engaging, mischievous, rock star . . . (okay, you've got it) person.  

I loved getting to spend one-on-one time with such a brilliant writer, and I did not want it to end.  So, when Mr. Curtis mentioned that he was restoring a 1956 Buick . . .  I mentioned that I had a 1956 restored oven that sort of looked like a car.  

He was intrigued and wanted to see it.  

While he was there, my children pulled up in the driveway with their teacher who was babysitting for me that day (she is also a CP Curtis groupie).  Mr. Curtis got a mischievous look in his eye and asked if I minded if he messed with my children a bit.  Of course I didn't mind.  

My middle daughter walked in first to see a very large man sitting at our kitchen counter.  He looked up and in a very deep "big bad wolf" voice said, "WHAT ARE YOU DOIN' IN MY HOUSE!!!???"  They all jumped back a good ten feet before he started laughing and I peered around the corner.  It was GREAT.

Now, here is where I would gush about how wonderful he was when he spoke at the Book Conference last spring but my friend Mimi did that better than I ever could, so check out her article here--you will be glad you did.

You might even cry.  :-)


Our Motto

Our Motto