Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trenton Lee Stewart

Okay, so . . . whew!  What a fun week.  The Oxford Conference for the book was great, and we heard some wonderful speakers and programs.

One of the highlights was Trenton Lee Stewart the author of The Mysterious Benedict Society.  The Jr. Auxiliary
 of Oxford, the Lafayette County Literacy Council, and the University of Mississippi paid for his visit--and paid for every fifth grader in the city to have a free copy of his book
 (that is over 500 kids!!).   The students read and study the book in school before they come to see him in person.  All of the fifth graders came to hear him speak on Friday morning wearing Mysterious Benedict Society t shirts.

He has such a somber, dry wit--he could deliver the funniest statements with such a deadpan expression.  
The kids absolutely ate it up.   

Here are the fifth graders.

Here I am with a group of conference organizers and writers eating on the porch of . . .

Rowan Oak--William Faulkner's home.

And, here is Mr. Stewart signing books after school.

Whew.  Now, I need to sit around and rest for a bit.  Oh, but I can't.  I'm going to see JUDY BLUME in Hattiesburg this week!!!  My brain just might explode.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oxford Conference for the Book

Okay, so we are in the throws of the Oxford Conference for the Book.  We are having so much fun being surrounded by writers, scholars and artists.  Here we are at dinner last night . . .

from the left--Jill Moore (manager of the greatest children's bookstore on earth), Hester Bass (author who's book The Secret World of Walter Anderson comes out with Candlewick this fall),  Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why--need I say more????), me (SF) and Katie.

We've got some great sessions coming up tomorrow including Trenton Lee Stewart author of The Mysterious Benedict Society who will be talking to 500+ fifth graders.  Stay tuned .. 

And, yes, that is a shrimp po-boy from Ajax right in front of me (if you were wondering).


Sunday, March 22, 2009


One morning this week I decided to take Meg to Bottletree for a "Cinnamon Roll." I nearly spit out my hot tea when they casually set down this plate of icing in front of her. Good Golly Miss Molly! I thought it was a birthday cake!

~Needless to say she ate less than half of it. But Daddy was more than happy to help her finish it off later.

So now I am worn out and ready to get back to work. That's the joy of my job as a writer. I love it as much as Meg loved that plate of icing. I literally count the hours until I can get back to the peace of my leather chair in the coffee shop with my non-fat, one-pump, vanilla latte and my laptop.

Have a glorious Monday, Y'all! I know I will.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Article

Alrighty, so not to blatantly self-promote (again) . . . the link to our cover-girl article is up so I thought we should share it with our cyber friends who don't get to walk in every store in the state of Mississippi and see Katie and me staring up from the counter.  Seriously, this magazine is ubiquitous--I was in Jackson this week and it was everywhere.  I feel like Brangelina--should we now be known as "Katie Frances"? or "Skatie"?

Anyway, our favorite photographer Joey snapped our picture at the coffee shop last week.

Here's the article--and, the illustration on the top left was done by ME (Sarah Frances) not Katie (even though I'm sure she could do some great pix herself if she wanted).  They're going to run a correction in next month's magazine which is coming out soon and our tabloid fame will sadly come to an end. Sigh.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I stole this gawgeous photo off of some guys blog. It makes me want to just breathe and be still....

And I kinda want to smush my bare toes in that wet sand. Or sit down and work my fingers all the way down in it. It's hard to look away, huh?

Whew...I have had a wild and crazy week. Not only because the kiddos are home on Spring Break, but because I've had some book excitement too. So today I need to just chill, breathe, and enjoy the view.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


No . . . I'm not heading to Daytona Beach in my convertible Trans Am to play quarters and beer pong (thank GOD!).  I'm sitting in Jackson, Mississippi, where I grew up and where my parents still live.  I never come down here unless I have a reason--cousin's wedding, holiday, funeral . . . so, I decided I'd hit J-town for some spring break action this year.   

I am, at this moment, sitting in what could possibly be the coolest coffeehouse EVAH.  It is called Cups and it is located in the Fondren area in Jackson.  I am surrounded by an intensely eclectic crowd of coffeehouse groupies, and I love it.  

Tomorrow, I'm joining my friend from Austin who is in town for
a crawfish boil at her parents house.

Then, I'm hitting the Raoul Dufy exhibit which is at the Mississippi Museum of Art.  He's one of my fauves . . . I mean faves . . . ha!

And then, of course, the pinnacle of all that is wonderful and juicy.  Anthropology.  I'll try hard not to drool.


Friday, March 13, 2009

One of Our Favorite New Blogs...

A couple of years ago we met Jessica DeHart at our regional conference in Atlanta. We clicked immediately and have been fast friends ever since. But what is unusual about Jess is that she truly has found her calling in life. A few years ago she founded the A Brilliant Life Foundation to help children determine their own purpose in life. This program, that she now teaches in the inner city schools of Atlanta, has morphed into a blog, several books, a board game and more! But her blog is especially awesome! Check her out. You won't regret it!

Jessica's Keeping it Real blog.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Katie's first school visit!

I'm telling you what. - I have never been so busy as working on this full time job of pre-publishedness! Good night! How does one manage the real thing?

After the "pre-pub" magazine cover, and a super fun trip to SCBWI-Atlanta. I went to Madison, Mississippi to talk to my nephew’s fourth grade class about revision. The timing could not have been more perfect because all of my finished works are currently being revised.

I began by telling the kids how we are all born with certain God-given gifts and the best way to figure out what those gifts are is to think about the kinds of things they like to do. I said that although I am a full-time writer, I sometimes need to make some money. When this happens, I do my "other job" which is called "substitute teacher." They all giggled knowing first hand about this job. I had them laughing when I told them that the first time I subbed for the 8th grade the kids were flat crazy! All dancing, and talking, and throwing large crumpled up paper balls around the room. It was total CHAOS but it gave me an idea. I explained how I confiscated their large paper ball and asked them to play a little get to know ya game with me. I played this same game with this fourth grade class. I held the ball and told them what I like to do (write) and then I threw it across the room to another child and they had to tell me what they liked to do. It was an exercise in not only getting to know them, but they were hopefully thinking about their own likes, and thereby -their GIFTS.

Then I talked about writing. I brought a stack of old manuscripts all covered up in red ink and SF's dummy of her picture book with the same sort of edits. We talked about books and screenplays and how revision only makes them better. "Why else would I do it?" I asked them. "Because I sure don't have a teacher breathin' down my neck making me do it." I explained that I do it because the book gets richer and richer like the tiresome chore of whipping heavy cream into butter.

At the end of my time I taught the kids to whistle really loudly because that is another useful gift I have. I can whistle so loud it'll make your pants fall off! Here's a young boy practicing :-) Anyway, thanks Madison Elementary! I had a great time! And thanks Thomas for inviting me :-)


P.S. That top pic is the only one I took in Atlanta :-( but it is with my new precious friend Betsy who is new to the blogosphere. Go introduce yourselves!

Monday, March 9, 2009


Yesterday, Katie and I had quite the day!  

First, we attended our friend Julie Cantrell's book signing.  She has written and designed two precious books (that are now my five-year-old's absolute faves)  that were published by Zonderkidz.  Her writing is beautiful in its lyrical simplicity.  And, I should have taken a picture of the line because it was snaking out the door and onto the sidewalk. Congratulations 

Then, later that afternoon, we met with about fifteen other women and Sarah Brokaw (Tom's daughter).  She is a therapist in L.A. and New York and is writing a book about women in the transitional phase that takes place between the ages of 35 and 45.  Her working title is Forty-tude, and she saw the need in the market for a positive book for women in this phase of life.

What she has discovered in her research and therapy sessions with clients is that across socioeconomic and geographical lines, women all seem to be going through a similar journey.  We began our session by looking at a list of words and marking five that resonated with us personally (she warned us--if you hear someone else's voice saying what you should say, then ignore it).   The words were things like beauty, competition, achievement, adventure, spirituality, sensuality . . . and she has discovered that women everywhere tend to choose the same five words to define themselves at this stage in life.   [those are not actually the chosen five words--some of them are, but you'll have to buy the book . . . ]

She also asked each of us to walk into a book store and notice the three places that we tend to go to first to figure out our true interests.   Katie and I talked about this later--we know what we're interested in and are lucky to be so focused on our goals, but neither of us have really looked at what was motivating us.

She acknowledged that we each have unique life experiences that shape us, but her focus was on how we are all alike in our basic desires.   Then, she stressed that we should all be vigilant in our pursuit of discovering our true selves and interests--embracing our differences with the acknowledgment that we are all starting from the same place.

Be sure to watch for her Oprah appearance (apparently it's in the works), and you never know, one of her "anonymous" quotes could come from Katie or me. 


I'd like to add that it was the first time that being "almost 40" felt cool and really special. Thanks Sarah!

Friday, March 6, 2009


I am interrupting my growing list of posts (including my first ever school visit! and my SCBWI recap! ...both coming soon) to delight momentarily in SF’s and my new favorite film.

Behold LOVE AND OTHER DISASTERS - available for instant download on Netflix.

SF discovered this gem a few days ago and insisted that I view it, which I promptly did, and here is what I learned...

...Love is a process. A choice. And not an event.

And secondly, writing and finishing a book or a screenplay takes courage.

I have been so focused on selling my book for the last year that I have lost sight of the fact that I actually wrote one, dangit!! So today I am changing my tune, Babies! SF and I applaud ourselves (and you) for following our dreams, and trying to succeed at something that we are all passionate about.

And lastly, we discovered that the most fascinating stories are simply the ones that we are all living. And for that, we are thankful.

P.S. we may speak with a slight British accent from now on and use the word, “Babies” a lot -- as in, “You should read our blog, Babies,” or “Check out this movie, Babies." ~Because that's the way the adorable girl in the movie talks :-)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Weekend!

I just returned from surprising my college roommate for her fortieth birthday.  She lives in Davidson, North Carolina, the town of my alma mater Davidson College (Go Wildcats!). 
It was so much fun to walk around the beautiful campus and see all of the changes to the town . . . but it was insanely wonderful fun to surprise my friend!

I loved meeting her group of friends in Davidson, and her hubby (with some help) arranged a beautiful party for her.  I learned that I CAN pick up the flat bottom of a brown paper grocery bag with my teeth--and without my knees or hands hitting the floor.  This picture is my fab, forty-year-old friend proving that she's still got it.

Then, here's the kicker, her hubby sent us (our other roommate and her sister) to the Grove Park Inn for a little spa time.   Delish!  It's amazing what a little swimmin' around in a grotto filled with hot tubs and mineral baths will do for you!  Plus, it started snowing on Sunday--real snow, not Mississippi snow--and we were outside in the steamy hot tubs with snow on our eyelashes.   

The blizzard (well, it was a blizzard to a Mississippi gal) did make for a hairy-scary drive to the airport and lots of delayed flights and general travel chaos.  But, I stayed in the zone being constantly reminded by my lavender spa-scented hair and sat on my grounded plane blissfully reading The Help (which is absolutely great).

So . . . . time well-spent.  Now, reality is calling!


Monday, March 2, 2009

OMG! Can I get some Oxygen?

We are at a loss for words...

Seriously. I have been staring at this text box while writing and deleting for at least five minutes. I can't think of a single thing to say? Not very good since I'm a writer and all...

The truth is that we are just over the moon flattered, and humbled, and excited, and nervous, and giddy, and determined, and wishful, and... how weird is it to see your face in almost every place in town? Pinch me! surely I'm dreaming!


P.S. For those of you who have actually read the article, there is a GLARING ERROR!!!! I, Katie, did NOT draw that adorable illustration! The super-talented resident artist SF HARDY DID!

Our Motto

Our Motto