Down In The Dirt Writing

New Year, New Look


Fyi, y’all.

My website is undergoing an overhaul – this time not by me, but by professionals.

Amen to that!

As much as I like plunking around and figuring out themes for a new look on occasion, the end result never quite meets my expectations when I’m done.  And then there’s the HTML code, of which I know just enough to be dangerous, but is needed to make some of the “buttons” work, or to add in giveaway information, etc.  I usually figure it out, but it can consume a lot of time.

I don’t know the exact timeframe for when the web design team will be done, I’m thinking sometime towards the third week or so of this month.

I can’t wait for you to see the new design!

DSCF0058

Yep, that’s me running a power tool with my Rosie the Riveter do rag on my head.  *Taken in Bucha Ukraine, Mission Trip 2006

 

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Holiday Blowback and A Southerner’s New Year’s Day Meal


Over the holidays it got so busy I believe there were several times my brain and body disconnected.  Matter of fact, I know they did.  It was like I was on some sort of mental auto-pilot more than once.

One of those moments happened when I thought I lost my rings.  That would be my engagement ring and wedding band, and my mother’s birthstone ring which is about 60 years old.  I put them in the pocket of an apron I was wearing (yes, an ACTUAL apron!) on Christmas Eve while at my MIL’s house.  I realized I didn’t have them after I got home.   Panic.  I called my mother in law at 11:30 p.m. and left a vm, “Don’t wash the apron, whatever you do!  I’ll call you in the  morning.”  I called her at 7:00 a.m.  No rings.  She was very logical telling me I MUST have put them in another pocket.  We backtracked and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember doing anything other than dropping them in the apron pocket.  Until I go check my coat pocket – and there they were.  And no memory of placing them there  – at all.  It was sort of scary when I thought about how we can be SO involved our brains just sort of takeover and do what we might be thinking sub-consciously.

Another time I was so doggone tired, I found I was doing The Things I Hate To Do.  A thought would send me into one room where I’d promptly forget why I was there, so I’d start to do something else, only to leave it, go to another room, start a new thing – entirely different, leave that, move some stuff around and then end up looking for what I’d moved the rest of the day.  Eventually I’d find an item where I left it hours before, and then discover those half done “things” I was also intent on finishing hours before.

Boy.  That’s what I call holiday blowback.

At any rate, I hate seeing any year end as it fills me with nostalgia and the realization it’s a time we will never get back – as is every single second of our lives.  Yet, on the other hand, I balance that nostalgia with the happiness and appreciation for all that I have and have accomplished.  There’s an eagerness in thinking about what’s to come when the clock officially sets us at the beginning of 2017.  I mean, might as well get on with it, ya know?  Ain’t no stopping the clock.

Here in the south on New Year’s day, we’ll be filling our plates with greens and black-eyed peas, a tradition intended to bring one wealth and luck in the new year.  The greens are said to represent dollar bills and the beans coins – so I plan to eat a lot.  This dates back several hundred years although most know of it from the Civil War.  You can read a bit about it here.

And with that, I’m off to start cooking my Hoppin John!  Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Courtesy 2017.Org

Courtesy 2017.Org

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Out With The Old


…in with the new, as the old saying goes.

Yesterday I took the tree and decorations down.  Some will think, but what about the Twelve Days of Christmas leading up to the Feast of Epiphany?  A twelve days of Christmas celebration never took place in my family’s household.  Growing up, the tree came down soon after the 25th – maybe not as quick as mine, but quick enough.  I wonder how many of you actually follow the tradition – with your celebrations beginning on the 25th and lasting until January 6th, which is the 2016 timeframe?

I received a new Garmin fitness tracker for my birthday (earlier in December) and to give you an idea of what it means when I say “take the tree and decorations down,” consider that I logged over 4.5 miles of walking – inside my house and in my yard alone.  On top of that, I estimated I climbed the staircase with boxes, presents, and cleaning stuff at least 30 times – probably more.  At least that’s what my leg muscles are telling me this morning.

That new fitness tracker leads me to my next thought.  I’m not any different in that I love the idea of fresh starts and new beginnings.  I make resolutions, which I usually keep to myself – in case I don’t stick with them.  🙂  Statistics say most of us aren’t good at this resolution thing.  Check out some of those facts here.

2017 is peeking around the corner.  Are you ready?  What do you want most this year?

2016-to-17

Courtesy 123rf.com

 

 

 

 

 

More BIG News!


I was in Raleigh yesterday helping Mom.  This was the second time while away from my computer, emails, all manner of “connectedness,” that exciting news about THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE sat percolating in my inbox until I got home.

I’d spent the day with Mom raking leaves, going to the bank, emptying recycling bins, and checking her mail.  I’d bought her a Christmas tree and stand, got it set up and ready for her to decorate, and by the end of the day, I was tired.  A good tired though, you know?  Driving home I always take what we call “the country route,” shorter in mileage than the highway, but longer to drive because it’s…ya know.  A rural country road.  It was already dark, and so, I took my time, looking at the Christmas lights people had put up.  Traffic was heavier than usual, but typical for a Monday after a holiday, so it took me twice as long to drive home as it did to get to her house.

Soon as I pulled in the drive, I got the vehicle unloaded – because you never go to Mom’s without coming home with a boatload of things she think you ought to have – like jelly.  Canned tomatoes.  An ornament.

And finally, after all that, saying “Hi” and giving a hug to my hubby, I launched my computer.  And my eyes zeroed in on this absolutely wonderful news from my editor.

USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS TOP 150

November 20, 2016  #121 The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart (Kensington $9.99)

Heart rate went up much higher than it had when I was raking those doggone leaves like some sort of maniac.

But, then, I saw MORE news.  I started making weird squeaky noises.  My husband saw my face, heard my noises, and paused in his cooking.

“Are you all right?”

There was some hand flapping.

Little Dog sat down and stared at me.

I continued to hyperventilate.  🙂

One of my publicists shared that the book has been in the bestseller rankings at the independent bookstores around the country, and she had written:

“You are officially Donna Everhart, USA Today and IndieBound Bestselling Author!”

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE has been ranked at #24, #15, #16,  and most recent, #17 since it’s release.

What a way to end my day!

That tired feeling I had was ziiiiip!  Gone!  Yes, there may have been dancing around the house while juggling a beer to celebrate.

Happy Dance

 

 

 

 

Book Stalker


Folks, I’m in the throes of making some minor revisions on BITTERSWEET and wrangling holiday decorations.  When I’m not doing that, I’m trolling the ‘net, stalking my book, trying to figure out how it’s doing.  Time for some tongue in cheek, debut writer shenanigans, I mean savvy business behavior.  Oh, the things this debut writer will do.  Searching.  Analyzing.  Figuring out ways to uncover the obscure details regarding her little darlin’ that probably mean nothing, or leave her speculating.

Actually, my clumsy, puny efforts have paid off in that I have figured out a couple things, and I’ve run across some wonderful reviews too.  For instance, I kind a/sort a know how it’s doing at independent bookstores because I “happened” upon a list.

Happened is actually like discovering your kid standing in the kitchen, cheeks packed with cookies, and you ask, “how did you find them?”

“I don’t know.”

The look they give you tells you s/he went to some effort to “find” the secret stash.  So, I’ve done a little digging too.  Not to say that doing that is akin to snooping through the cabinets, but for some reason, I do feel silly, in a way, trying to discover how it’s selling.  New debut writers hope for at least a tinge of moderate success.  What that means – I don’t really know.  Yet.  Give me time.

Anyway, every now and then, a kind soul – you know who you are – will drop me a thrilling tidbit.  “The book is selling like hotcakes at…”

And!  There’s always Amazon to lurk about, and since they made it a Top Ten Pick + their Featured Debut, I find myself wandering by frequently, checking things out.  Something they’ve done for authors is like a fix for a data addict – ahem, like me.  Amazon has built some tools into the Author Page you can set up if you want.  I set mine up a few weeks ago, not really knowing what it would provide, but boy, am I glad I did.  I LOVE what they have, author ranking, sales ranking + Nielsen BookScan information.  I had to do some reading from their Help page to make sure I understood exactly what all that data meant.  I’d read somewhere in my ‘net travels that ratings drive the Amazon rankings, but, that’s not true.  Sales drive it, and that makes sense to me.  Sales are hard data targets.  Ratings are soft targets, in that ratings are simply opinions, and as we’ve heard over and over, opinions = subjective.

Nielsen BookScan updates are scheduled for 12:00 a.m. Friday and it’s the same with the independent bookstore reports of sales, which updates every Wednesday.  With Nielsen BookScan data, four to five days have passed by the time it’s released.  The most recent data came in last night (no I wasn’t up at 12:00 a.m. sweating the results – it sometimes comes early) and was for November 7 – 13 book sales, yet it’s already November 18th.  New data won’t arrive until next Friday, which means I have to cool my jets for another week.  🙂

Either way, you get the idea.  There’s a myriad of information floating around out there and it’s no wonder I find myself trolling around, looking for what I might miss.

And…every now and then someone will send me a picture of my book “in the wild” as folks like to say when it’s spotted far, far away from where it was created.  These are like extra goodies, and give me a sense of accomplishment, a “look what I did!” feeling.  The pictures below were kindly sent to me by Kim Michele Richardson (author of Liar’s Bench and Godpretty In The Tobacco Field), and Teri Carter, who’s had more op-eds, opinion pieces and essays in magazines than anyone else I know.

Miss Dixie is shown at one of the Joseph Beth Bookstores in Kentucky (left) and at the airport in Denver CO.  ***Notice that sign in the pic on the right.  Yeah.  I notice that kind of thing.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  What does it mean???  I’m sitting here sort of laughing at myself as I type this.

 

My question about all this is, don’t you think after all the work to write a book, and have it published, it’s only natural to want to know? 

 

THE FINALE of First Sentence Fridays!


And here we are…can you believe it?  It’s the finale of First Sentence Friday, and let me just say, this one’s a doozy!

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

I bet a year seems like an awfully long time when you’re sitting in jail.

We are now three days past the official release date of October 25th.  The Education of Dixie Dupree is out on bookshelves and in stores everywhere – and if you don’t see it?  Ask for it!

I’ve had a lot of fun preparing the posts to go with the sentences, and I hope you’ve enjoyed following along and reading them.   I hope they have intrigued you enough to want to know more about Dixie’s story.

The blog will now move back into the usual operation – which means when I figure out what I’m going to blog about going forward, I’ll post something!   In the meantime, like I said in the “She’s Here!” post, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts on the book.

I’d love to hear from you.

the education of dixie dupree

 

Goodreads Giveaway!


Kensington has set up another Goodreads giveaway for THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE.

The contest will run June 8th –>June 27th to win one copy of an ARC or final copy!

If you’re not on Goodreads, now’s the time to join (free) because not only are there tons of these sorts of giveaways, it’s a great way to connect with authors, and readers.  Think of it like Facebook for…books!

Go here to enter the DIXIE DUPREE giveaway:  http://bit.ly/286qeUr

the education of dixie dupree

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE Final Cover


I thought I couldn’t love my cover any more, and then?  Kensington’s Art Department did a little fine tuning and this is what we now have!

There are reasons behind every decision made by my publisher.  I know why they did this little tweak, but most important is it makes me feel extraordinarily happy for everything they’re doing to support my debut.

What I want to know is…what do you think?

the education of dixie dupree

 

 

First Sentence Friday


Still in catch up mode!  This week I’m sharing the first sentences in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.

CHAPTER FIVE

In the early spring of 1969, when the yellow dust of pollen was heavy in the air, I noticed Mama’s discontent had wrapped even further around her, covering her like a shroud, becoming something we couldn’t ignore.

CHAPTER SIX

While Daddy was still gone, Mama began what I’d call a campaign, intent on telling certain folks, mostly strangers, that while she was in Alabama, she’d never be happy.

CHAPTER SEVEN

When Daddy came back from his trip, I wanted to ask him if he knew anyone named Suggs, and why Mama was so godawful worried about not being known as white trash, but the bribe of ice cream cones and her warning were enough to keep my mouth shut.

Cover DIXIE DUPREE

***I’m using #FirstSentenceFridays on Twitter and tagging @Kensington Publishing Corporation.  Follow along and tweet out/share if you’d like!***

Great Expectations


This wasn’t an easy post to write.  I’ve sat on it for days, thinking about it, and wondering if I should write about this topic at all.  It’s likely (probably) premature for me to even think the way I am, but I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m what I call an “advance worrier.”  Meaning, I worry about sh*t in advance, and likely when I shouldn’t.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  Blame Mom.  Hey, I blame her. Dad never got overly concerned about much, while Mom worries about EVERYTHING.  Here’s a snippet of our conversation recently:

Me:  Hey, what’re you doing?

Mom:  Oh, I just got this disclaimer in the mail from Medicare.

Me:  What does it say?

Mom:  That my MRI might not be covered.

Me:  Mom, we talked about this before, that’s just a standard form letter they send out.

Mom:  But they say they might not cover it.

Me:  They will.

Mom:  I don’t know.  I’m going to call them.

Me:  Do whatever you need to do for peace of mind.  So, what else is going on?

Mom:  I think I saw a snake in the yard yesterday.  I better not work outside today.

Me:  That was yesterday, it’s long gone by now.  Go get some fresh air.

Mom:  I don’t know.  The damn thing could be hiding under a bush somewhere.  Waiting.

I think I’m about a 50/50 mix of Mom’s worry and Dad’s non-ruffly nature.  Then I get something like what I’m about to say here in my head, and I even worry about my level of…worry.  Yeah, worry about worrying.  How’s that?  Then I feel that I start to sound like Mom.

Anyway.  Here’s where my head’s at.  There was a slow build up via social media comments and emails which ultimately led to my understanding my debut book is an in-house favorite with my publisher, Kensington.  (heart, be still.)  This is, in the words of a few, a really good thing and hopefully means the book will also do well once it lands in stores.  Like I told my husband, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.

Meanwhile, for the last several months, I’ve been working on my next project.  It’s a good story – if I can do it justice. (worry!)  Set in 1940, and told from the perspective of the fourteen year old daughter,  Wallis Ann Stamper, it’s about a singing family living in Appalachia who lose their home and all their possessions after a flood.  (the flood is based on historic fact)  Hunger and cold force them to leave, and try to make a living singing.  They eventually join a traveling show, where family bonds are further tested by certain events.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and this current book, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, are very different, yet I can’t help but worry about comparisons.  Stuck in my head is the idea DIXIE DUPREE is of a different caliber because I had years to work on it, tweak it, massage it, fluff it.  PERFECT it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of BITTERSWEET, but I won’t have the same sort of time to work, tweak, massage, fluff, and so I wonder – is it as good as it can be?  I don’t know.

I’ve still got some time here, and my intentions, of course, are to only send my best work – yet, (again) what if?  What if it’s not perceived in the same way as DIXIE?  No matter the stories being different, it’s about the writing.  Right?  There are expectations here – from myself, my agent, my editor, the publisher.  What if there’s head scratching?  Perplexity?  DISMAY?  Even a bunch of WTF’s?  The thought, “how did she write DIXIE DUPREE, then write…this?  I don’t even know what…this…is.”

You know what?  I hate to disappoint people, that’s what it boils down to.  I don’t like folks receiving something from me with a certain level of expectation, only to serve them up a good dose of disappointment.  What I want is for there to be the same level of enthusiasm, and excitement, and all that other great stuff – which came rather unexpectedly with DIXIE DUPREE – to happen with this story.  All the good things said about my debut have me worrying about the possible expectations with this new work.

Maybe I’m crazy to think this way – you know, before I’m even out of the gate, so to speak.  And thus, I begin worry about my worrying.  If only my worry quotient was a little more swayed, leaning more to Dad’s way versus Mom’s.  More like 80/20.

Pink room?  Softy cushy walls?  Is that what you’re thinking? 

creative-writing

 

 

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