Just Wondering

Dear Followers of www.donnaeverhart.com


I did mention that website change, didn’t I?  Are you finding me?  No?  This is what happens when they let me have hold of the power tools.

DSCF0058

Juuust kidding.  I haven’t been doing the work, but, here’s what has been going on – without getting too far into the weeds.  The website is now redesigned.  As part of that redesign, it is also being supported by a new web-hosting entity.  These back end changes to enable that have resulted in two sites.

Old.  New.

You are likely not getting to the old site if you have it bookmarked.  Even though the old site could have been found under http://www.donnaeverhart.com, it was really www.donnaeverhart.wordpress.com.

That’s how you would find it today.

Meanwhile, the new site is here.  But, then I noticed my stats showed zero visitors to the new site.  And that I had zero (!!!) followers.  Which made me…

crying-woman

Hmmm.  What could be the problem?

Ah.  All of you are over there on – I mean here – on the old site – and maybe not even here because of “broken” links. (bookmark).  Yikes.  What I didn’t know was creating the new site would leave you behind.  I thought it would be a seamless transfer.

The question is, have you missed me?  If so, I would love it if you would follow me over at the new place.  Check it out.  See what you think.  At the bottom of each page, you’ll see how to follow my blog – again.

I hope to see you, HERE!

monarch-favorite

 

Advertisements

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

I Say It’s Both


There’s this online place I visit, sometimes once a day, sometimes more – which is likely too much for my own writing good.  This online place is agent Janet Reid‘s blog.  I found her several years ago when I “entered” my serious writing stage.  Sometime back in 2011, I think.  She recently was awarded a very nice spot as one of the top 101 blogs for writers by Writers Digest.  Her blog is simply one of the best places for writers of all levels to visit.  Many of you out here already know this, but for those who don’t, or haven’t stumbled across her site yet, I say that because 1)she’s a top notch literary agent, 2)she tells it like it is, 3)with humor 4)and a dash of snark, and 5)she’s an overall industry expert.  (As to #5, this is my opinion and I know many others who feel the same way.)

Anyway, recently on one of her posts, folks started commenting, and like we tend to do, off topic it went.  We try to be good, and stay relatively in the same stratosphere of what she was posting about, but sometimes…meh, not so much.  That particular day there was a comment by one of the writers who said he “writes from the hip.”

I never did jump into the fray on this, because the Shark (a.k.a. Janet Reid) who also created Query Shark for anything and everything you ever wanted to know about writing a query, stepped in to remind everyone to stay on topic, keep individual comments to 3 or less, and no more than 100 words.  Often, too often, we get very wordy out there.

So here is where I wanted to add my two cents to that post’s off topic comments.  Like everything else with writing, there really is no right way, and no wrong way.  We each find OUR way and if it works for us, great.   First, because there are some who are now reading my posts who may not know a couple terms I’m going to use, I’ll briefly explain them.

Plotter – one who writes an outline, or synopsis of their book, beginning to end.  Plotters might carefully construct their story chapter by chapter, with the primary scenes/action and even a bit of dialogue or setting in each.  Or some might write a synopsis, knowing essentially what happens at the 50,000 foot level, from beginning to end.  The synopsis could be anywhere from 4-10 pages.

Pantster – likely self-explanatory, but for clarity, this is a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants.”  They don’t know from point A to point B what is going to happen.  They figure it out as they go along.  They sit and they write, feeling their way through as to what fits, or not.

Now that I’ve set all this up, what I wanted to say in the discussion/comments the other day is…I think we really do both.  In other words, it’s a mish-mash using both styles or techniques.  For instance, when I wrote DIXIE DUPREE, I said I used the pantster style.  I did it with book two as well.  BUT.  Although I didn’t have my beginning, middle, ending nailed down in either, I did plot them to a degree, along the way.  In other words, I had to stop writing and plan/figure out where the story needed to go.  I would decide, okay, Chapter X and Y needs to have this happen, and then I would write.

My latest WIP, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET is plotted.  I wrote a synopsis for it, which is about 4 to 5 pages detailing major events, and (yay!) I’ve stuck to it for the entire book.  But here’s the thing, despite the synopsis, there is a massive amount of writing and work to turn those 4-5 pages into a full blown story.  I know what I want to happen, but there is all that missing detail.

I was talking about the sandwich method of feedback on JR’s blog in another post, and in some ways, working with an outline brings to mind a sandwich method too.  You’ve got the bread, but nothing in between.  You still need meat, cheese, and whatever else in order to have a sandwich.  Otherwise, all you have is…two slices of bread. Even with my handy dandy synopsis, I knew nothing about how I wanted my main character to get out of a predicament, or how she would meet various characters.  Hey, some of those characters who showed up weren’t even in the outline.  Hmmm, that seems a bit pantster’ish to  me.

Writing a book is blending a bit of both pantster and plotter techniques, at least that’s my take on it. 

What’s yours?

HINTS! For ARC Giveaway of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE


Okay, ya’ll.  I’m sorry for making this harder than I expected.  What was I thinking???  No winners, but thank you for making me laugh with some of your guesses.

I could drag this on just to see what you come up with next, but I want WINNERS!

Therefore, here are a few hints:

  1. You hear them on hot summer evenings.
  2. They have wings.

Want one of these?  Yes, yes you do!

DSCF1927

The “contest” goes on until I have three winners!

The first three people to correctly identify what is pictured below – now with hints, and an expanded view of this “thing” – will win one copy each.  I will announce all the winners as an update to this post, as soon as I have three.

How to provide your answer:

  1. Blog Follower?  Drop your answer in the comments box for this post.
  2. Following me on my Facebook Author Page?  Drop your answer into the comments area there.
  3. Twitter Follower?  Send your answer via a Tweet and make sure you use #DIXIEDUPREE.

Ready?  Now take a look!  What is it?

Secret Pic 2 for ARC of DIXIE DUPREE

Hmmm.   Maybe not so mysterious now…

Come on!  You got this!

Tell me!

Advance Reader Copy Giveaway!


Would you like a sneak peek at THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE?  This is your chance to win a signed advance reader copy!

DSCF1927

The “contest” starts now (soon as I hit publish!) and goes on until I have three winners!

The first three people to correctly identify what this is pictured below, will win one copy each.  I will announce all the winners as an update to this post, as soon as I have three.

How to provide your answer:

  1. Blog Follower?  Drop your answer in the comments box for this post.
  2. Following me on my Facebook Author Page?  Drop your answer into the comments area there.
  3. Twitter Follower?  Send your answer via a Tweet and make sure you use #DIXIEDUPREE.

That’s all!

Oh, and, I will provide a hint –  if no one is able to identify this after a day or two.

Ready?

DIXIE DUPREE Giveaway Secret Pic

Hmmm.  Very mysterious.

What the heck is it???

Tell me!

 

Finding Pennies


I made no move to mark or signal in any way my father’s one year anniversary of passing.  About three days before the official day, Mom and I went out to the grave site and swapped out the Christmas flowers for a selection of silk flowers I’d picked out, varying shades of off white, sunny yellow and deep blues.  A Spring bouquet.

She worried over the stone.  “Look, Donna, it’s sinking.”

I bent over and strained to see.  Yes.  Maybe that one corner was dipping into the rain sodden ground, ever so slightly.

“We have to call the cemetery office.  We have to tell them to fix it.”

“I’ll call them today, Mom.”

“Here, brush it off.  I don’t want it to be dirty.”

I whisked away a few strands of dead grass.  A bug.  A small bit of dirt.

“There.  That’s much better,” she said.

We didn’t get that quiet time we wanted with Dad.  Right beside his grave two men worked to prepare an “Opening.”  They were polite, and kept about it, but it was hard to stand there and feel any sense of connection to Dad, so, we left.

As is often the case when dealing with loss, those left behind, the ones impacted the most might tend to look for “signs.”  Several weeks after Dad passed, when Mom’s grief had diminished to a more manageable sadness and she once again became more aware of her surroundings, she began finding pennies here and there.  We were at a Minute Clinic at a CVS store for her to get a pneumonia shot, and while sitting in one of the little waiting chairs just outside the clinic, right in front of her feet – a penny.

“Oh!  Look, Donna.  A penny!  That’s your father signaling me.”

She bent over, picked it up as I said, “What?”

“Haven’t you heard about pennies from heaven?” she asked.

Vaguely, I think I had…I wasn’t sure.  She said after a loved one has passed, if you find pennies (or other change I guess) in odd places, it was a sign they were with you.

“Hm,” said I, with some skepticism.  It’s possible you could find spare change just about anywhere, if you looked hard enough.

But then, a couple weeks later, we were standing in the backyard discussing what she was going to do about mulching and trimming, and there on the ground at our feet, another penny.  In the grass.  How odd.

And still again, I took her to a store to pick up a few things, and as we waited in line to be checked out, what did we see?  Yep.  Another penny right by her foot.

More recently, my brother and I accompanied her to a minor procedure.  While she and I sat side by side in the waiting room, (my brother paced) there on the carpeted floor?  Sigh.  Yes.  A penny.

She was thrilled.  “I see you, Daddy.”

I have to admit, my hint of skepticism was waning.

And then this happened.

We’ve been dealing with the flu, here in the Everhart household.  I recently washed a blanket I’d taken down from the closet to use one night when the fever spiked and I was certain death from freezing was imminent.  After it was dry, I folded it back up and was putting it back on the closet shelf.

In that closet hangs my Dad’s coat.  The one I’d given him years ago, and the one he wore ALL the time – especially after he became ill and seemed to stay cold.

DSCF1924

After he passed, I told Mom I wanted it – sentimental reasons and all.  I brought it home, washed it, dried it, and hung it up.  It’s been in the closet over a year.  I took it off the hanger, and something made me put it on.  I shoved my hands into the pockets, and stood there a moment, breathing deep, wishing, in a way, that I hadn’t washed it because it only smelled of detergent.

I wiggled my fingers in the left pocket and encountered a flat round object.  I pulled it out and stared at what lay in my hand.  Yes.  A penny.

DSCF1925

Coincidence? 

I don’t know, what do you think?

 

%d bloggers like this: