Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Seeing as October is almost over, I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the fact that this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I first became aware of the disease in 1996 when my aunt succumbed to it. Years later, I dealt with this blow by writing my novel, Trouble the Water, a story about healing. It's a novel about surviving and learning to live again. Granted, my book is not about breast cancer, but it does deal with it as one of my characters is loosely inspired by my aunt. In the back of the book I share resources on the subject and the symptoms of a particularly difficult form of the disease called IBC or Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

My aunt, God rest her soul, did not seek traditional treatment for her cancer and didn't tell her family she was sick until right before she passed. I think, in a way, I wanted to write a book that celebrated life and informed my readers so that none of them would ever have to go through what my family went through. I wanted to share some comments I've received about my book, and I hope that all my readers will not ignore symptoms and get checked regularly. If just one person decides to go for a mammogram because of Trouble the Water, then this will all have been worth it.

"I just finished reading your book Trouble the Water. I wanted you to know that I thought it was one of the very best books I have ever read. I am a breast cancer survivor and I also have very close sisters. Thank you for such sweet words."

"I started (and finished) Trouble the Water this weekend. What a fabulous book! My mother is a breast cancer survivor and I pray your book will lead others to early detection and treatment."

"Oh my gosh, just finished reading Trouble the Water! So intense, loved the pattern of the characters writing their own chapters. Stirred up a lot of feelings in me regarding my own mom's death from cancer 4-1/2 years ago, especially Alice's reference at the end to "magical thinking"... Heart-wrenching. Thank you for this wonderful book."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wonderfully-Creepy Picture Book

I'm an author and illustrator, so I've seen a lot of books. But when I picked up Inside the Slidy Diner written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Jaime Zollars, I was entranced from the cover all the way to the end.

First, the prose is unique, lovely, quirky...a perfect match for the brilliant illustrations. My three-(almost four) and five-year-old kids and I have been reading this one nightly. Each time we see different things in the illustrations we hadn't seen before...a mouse on a cat's back, an eye peeking through a hole in the wall... It's so much fun! It's the story of a young girl who gets stuck in the greasy Slidy Diner after nabbing a lemon drop--and what an imaginative tale!

If you love quirky, dark things that are just creepy enough to be fun but not so much that it turns scary, this is for you. I haven't seen my kids quite so enamored with a book in a while.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Have a Little Faith

My latest blog entry is on the Southern Authors blog (A Good Blog is Hard to Find). Hop on over and read about Joe the Plumber, faith, and silver linings.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Missing Norman Rockwell

I like to consider myself an artist--whether I am or not, isn't the issue, I guess. I paint the covers for my novels, and I write the pages beneath them. Both the writing and the painting is art to me. Like most artists, I do want to be a great at it someday. I know it's something that's subjective and something I'll always strive for, not achieve--but I can relate to artists. I admire them, no matter if they depict life or earth or heaven or cats--whatever the subject, artists are fascinating because they see things and want to express them to other people. They feel compelled to share what they see.
Last weekend I was in a cute little town called Fairhope, Alabama. I was walking down the streets, window-shopping, when I passed a barber shop with a great big window. In that window sat the reddest-haired boy I'd ever seen with the barber poised, scissors in hand, over him. The look on this boy's face--the whole scene--stopped me in my tracks. I wasn't looking at a boy in a barber shop window, I'd suddenly been transported back to a Norman Rockwell painting, back to simpler times, some would say more innocent times. It was an inspiring moment for me. You see, Norman Rockwell was an artist of his times (1894-1978). His days weren't all roses and glory, they were tough times--wars, the Great Depression, civil rights issues. But what did Norman Rockwell paint? He painted the absolute best of humanity. The quiet, sweet moments that everyone could relate to. The bits of us that were innocent and pure. He reminded us all that those parts of us still existed.

“I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be and so painted only the ideal aspects of it—pictures in which there are no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers … only foxy grandpas who played baseball with the kids and boys who fished from logs and got up circuses in the backyard.” -- Norman Rockwell (from his official site,

Not all of my works--paintings or books--are twinkling and show the best of humanity. Many times they show the struggles we face and the triumphs of overcoming those challenges. I like to give people hope with my work because I have hope. I imagine that Norman Rockwell really did see the best in us, and for that, I thank him. For in that moment last weekend in Fairhope, Alabama, I saw in a red-headed boy's eyes all that I needed to see in this world of politicking and warfare. I saw pure hope for our future and a window into our humanity. And that's something everyone needs to be reminded of now and again.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Back from SIBA - Another Great Show

Last week I flew out to Mobile, AL for the annual Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) Trade Show. It was four days of panels, authors, booksellers, BOOKS, and a little extra sightseeing. It's always wonderful to meet the folks who are selling (hopefully) your books in their stores, and I love meeting writers, some new, some established--all whom I admire.

I met tons of wonderful authors but here are some you might want to look out for...all with new books coming soon if not out already. Steven Forman, Inman Majors, Cathy Pickens, Karen White, Susan McBride, Maryann McFarland, William Conescu, Haywood Smith, Sarah Addison Allen, TA Barron, Tony Vigorito, Melissa Delbridge...just to name a few!

The bookstores represented at the show? There were too many list, but here are a few I noticed: Two Sisters Bookery (Wilmington, NC), Milestone Books (Vestavia Hills, AL), Fiction Addiction (Greenville, SC), FoxTale Book Shoppe (Woodstock, GA), Author Squad (Huntersville, NC), Eagle Eye Book Shop (Decatur, GA), Carpe Librum Booksellers (Knoxville, TN), Sherlock's Book Emporium and Curiosities (Lebanon, TN), The Paper Chase Book Store (Batesville, AR), Bohannons' Books (Georgetown, KY), The Book & Cranny (Statesboro, GA), Chapters Bookshop (Galax, VA), and Bay Street Trading Co (Beaufort, SC).

Thanks to Wanda Jewell and all the wonderful folks of SIBA (yes, you, Nicki Leone) who put on another successful show. Oh, and on a side note, I hopped over the bay to Fairhope, AL and signed books at the Page and Palette. One of the highlights of that little town was Pete's Paninis. I had the best sandwich in my life! (The seared tuna).

Why do authors travel to conferences and trade shows and the like? With two children, it's always hard for me to leave home, so I think about this often. My answer is this: It's necessary. Necessary to meet booksellers. Necessary to meet fellow authors, folks who are in the same boat as you. And crucial to pull your head out of your own book for a while and see what other authors are turning out. Yes, the best part is what you bring home with you. Aaaaahhhh, the BOOKS!