Fiction

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?

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2016 In Review


I’m in a state of disbelief another year is just about gone, and so, what better time to gather up some pictures and share them here, thereby providing a “snapshot” of 2016 in review!

To say it’s been a wonderful, fun filled, exciting time doesn’t even come close to how I really feel.  The holidays are almost here and I find I’m in a reflective mood, feeling ever so grateful for all that’s happened while looking forward to what 2017 might bring.

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And so it began…like every other New Year, with fireworks, that feeling of renewal, AND the ever present resolutions!  (did you break all of yours like I did mine?)

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February arrived, and with it Miss Priss turned 1!  She likes cake.  A lot.  She will hate this picture in about 15 years.

In March, page proofs arrived for THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE.

Then came the ARC (notice the cover) and book plates.  So exciting to see!

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Early April, and spring was here.  The rhododendrons were spectacular, as always!

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Also, in April 2016, came my first ever book club presentation! Here we have some members of the Cosmopolitan Book Club.

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In May came another event, a reading and publication discussion for Ye Olde Town Arts Club!

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In June 2016, I received the good news that the book was really resonating with the Sales Department, and with booksellers.  The cover was tweaked to bring the title out more.

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Despite all of the good things happening with THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, I had to keep writing!  And in June, 2016, I completed my second novel, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET.  And I had a celebratory beer.  🙂

July and August 2016 = typical summer months.  In other words, hot, hazy and humid, and a few violent storms.

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In August, Mom turned 80, her second birthday without my Dad.  Here she is with her great grands, and though I can still see the sorrow in her eyes, she’s getting along okay.

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In mid September, I found out THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE was selected as a November 2016 Indie Next List pick!

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I was invited to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), also in September, where I signed books at the all around author event, participated on the Southern Reads panel, and met a lot of other great authors.  And yes, here’s a lovely Penguin Random House Sales Rep, and look there, what book do you see?  SO exciting!

And then?  Unbelievably, (while also thinking FINALLY!) it was time for the book to release on October 25th!  I held my official launch at Raleigh NC’s well known Quail Ridge Books, on November 1st.  Not only did the staff have to bring out more chairs, they sold out of the books.  🙂  I had the best time, and was so thankful for all of my family and friends who came out to  make it such a big success!

During this event, it was announced that THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE was selected as an Amazon Top Ten Pick for November, as well as being featured as the Debut Spotlight pick!

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And that certainly helped to propel it here! (along with the Kindle and the Bookbub deals that ran almost simutaneously!)

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In the meantime, Fall/Winter lists had been compiled, and the book made these lists!

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It was a Library Journal Book Club Selection

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And suddenly, folks were sending me pictures of the book from everywhere.  Here we show Miss Dixie Dupree at the local Wal-Mart,  Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), Denver, Kentucky and Seattle.

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Then came the news the book hit the USA TODAY bestsellers list.         (!!! x a bajillion)

 

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It made the IndieBound bestsellers list (and…it’s still there!)

So, you can see why I am feeling so grateful.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that this book, THIS story, would resonate with so many.  It’s not an easy read.  It deals with dark subject matter, social issues, and as one reviewer pointed out, “all the triggers are going to be pulled.”  And, as I’ve mentioned before, The Washington Independent Review of Books said it was”a harrowing tale of domestic trauma with Southern Gothic flair.”

And there have been many more reviews, like that one, that removed a lot of the doubt I had about writing such a difficult story without mincing words.

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Still, there is a lot of work yet to be done.  I was thrilled to be asked by my editor to read a manuscript and provide a blurb.  I am finalizing the revisions on BITTERSWEET.  I am working on my new book’s outline and first three chapters.  For now, though, I’m turning towards this holiday season and spirit of giving.  I wish each and every one of you joy, peace and hope.

Little Dog says, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!

I hope to see you back here, in 2017.

xoxo,

Donna

 

 

 

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? 

 

BIG NEWS!!!


Amazon (!!!) has selected The Education of Dixie Dupree as their “Debut Spotlight” book along with being on their list of TOP 10 Picks for November!

 

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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.

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She’s Here!!!


Can you believe it?

It’s THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE Release Day!

I sincerely appreciate your support, thoughtful comments and shared excitement throughout the last 19 months.  Thank you from me, and from Dixie.

This is a collage of moments, pictures to capture my journey to publication:

It all began here…(notice who’s website is up…I’d forgot about her other background)

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A lot of time was spent here, working at Nortel, going back to school to get my degree, writing THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE until…in March of 2012…

AGENT!

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But, the writing continued…below are the completed manuscripts of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, THE REDEMPTION OF TRUITT AMES, and A BLACK WATER SEASON  <– the manuscript that would eventually affect my path to publication.  (–>BLACK WATER was the ms actually on submission when it was passed on, but the lovely editor who would become my editor asked to see something else.  Note to writers – always have a back up.)

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Meanwhile, life changing events happened…I lost “my girls” in late 2012, and my father in early 2015…

Just when I really needed things to look up, in April 2015, THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE sold to

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And the process begins.  I received this package from my lovely editor.

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My first ever real red pencil edits !  Yep, I was excited even though this is considered “work.”

And, after the editing was done, including not only revisions, but copy editing, the book cover was designed by the awesome Art Department at Kensington, a cover we ALL loved.  Then, along came the ARC’s, like Christmas in the Spring!

 

 

I began to do the First Sentence Friday’s in the early summer 2016, when publication was still months away.  Feedback from the Sales Department indicated booksellers wanted the title of the book highlighted, so the Art Department came up with this design, which we loved even more.

 

Meanwhile, publicity was working hard to get the word out, and boy did they.  I found out I’d been invited to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) a huge trade show for booksellers, sales, and authors.  It was G.R.E.A.T.!

And in the meantime, the work between everyone from Marketing, to Sales to Publicity was paying off, when THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE started receiving recognition.

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And now?

She’s in your hands, dear readers.

I hope you’ll fall in love with my brave little heroine, Dixie Dupree.

Drop me a line …let me know your thoughts!

 

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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

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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?

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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.

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

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