The School Of Difficult Writing

Kodachrome


I got a new camera for Christmas.  My husband can’t stand to see me struggle over anything, and although I never complain, there must be a look.  A frustrated glaring at whatever device I’m mangling into some modicum of acceptable performance.

For instance, he gave me a new Dell All In One about a 18 months ago.

“I got tired of watching you squint over that ten year old laptop.”

He gave me a camera a couple Christmases ago too. He said, “it’s not an expensive one, but I thought it would be better than what you were using.”

Only, I would try to take pictures of my favorite subjects – the moon.   Dang it.  Blurry.

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A sunrise or sunset.  Dang it.  Blurry.

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Miss Priss.  Payton.  The camera was slow, and I remember trying so hard to get the perfect shot of Miss Priss eating her cake when she turned 1.  In this case there was likely frustrated declarations, “Argh!  I missed it!  Argh!  It’s blurry!  Come on Payton, just one more.  I got to get a good picture of you and Abigail.  Argh, it’s orangey!  Oh well.”

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Sure, there were some good shots too.  Like this.

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And this.  (I only took about 50 to get this one)

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Still, it could have been better.

As usual, my husband heard, and he acted.  This year, he gave me a whizz bang camera that, at the moment, is smarter than Stephen Hawking – or at least I think it is when I stare at all the buttons, and the two different lenses, and the VIDEO TAPE that came with it to tell me how to manage it.

It’s a Nikon.  As he put it, “A nice camera.”

I’m going to love it – once I know what to do with it.

 

 

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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!

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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

 

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.

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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

Kensington-logo!!!!

 

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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First Sentence Friday!


Did you keep a diary while growing up?  It’s sort of funny, and I never thought about it until recently, but all the diaries I ever came across (even now) are patterned with the idea of a little girl writing in it.  Pink, pastels, flowery designs.

I had a diary for a long time.  I wrote in it from the time I was about ten until I was in my early twenties.  And then…I lost it, and if I had to guess where it was, I’d say it’s still resting somewhere in the attic of that small ranch house where I used to live with my first husband, in Zebulon, NC.

As we know, Dixie had a diary, and…so did her Mama.

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN

I sat in stunned silence, staring at the last page of Mama’s diary.

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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!***

First Sentence Friday!


CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

In the end, it hadn’t mattered who would have believed me about Uncle Ray, because afterward, no one would forget.

I’m going to let that stand as it is.  No commentary.

It’s hard to believe there are only two more First Sentence Fridays left, which means there are just under two weeks before the release of this book!  Since it first sold in April of 2015 until now, I’ve learned a lot about all of the work that goes into creating the end product you, dear readers, will hold in your hands.  She’s almost here!

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

First Sentence Friday!


Do you remember your mother quizzing you, expecting certain answers to questions?  I sure do.  It was meant to see if I did as I was told, or if I went somewhere I wasn’t supposed to, would that sneakiness creep into my facial expression or make my voice change.  All mothers have that way about them.

My own kids say, “you have The Look.”  The Look was (evidently) even more effective than a question.  I got my answer just by watching them, how their eyes would shift, the collapse of their mouths signaling, “aw, I’ve been caught!”

Sometimes my questions were meant to feel them out, see what they really thought about a plan or idea, so I could come to some sort of decision, and I would ask in a roundabout way, not hinting at the truth behind the asking.

Dixie is in this sort of predicament, feeling that Mama’s questions are a bit of a trap.  No matter what answers she or her brother give, it will likely affect their future.

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

Everything had been going great until Mama started asking me and AJ insinuating questions.

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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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First Sentence Friday!


We used to take trips to Maine every summer, which is Mom’s home state.  That trip was the highlight of the summer months.  We always left in the evening, around 6:00 p.m., after Dad got off work.  Mom would have spent the week before packing and making sure everything was just so.  When Dad got home, he’d load up the car, and my brother and I would grab our pillows off our beds, and crawl into the back seat, both of us talking non-stop.  Dad would drive all night, staying awake by taking “No Doz” smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee from a thermos.  Eventually I would fall asleep, and only wake up if we stopped for gas or at one of those shiny diners, where we’d go in and sit on pastel colored bar stools.  My parents would order more coffee, and hot chocolate for me and my brother.  We would stop in Connecticut the next morning, spend the day and night there with an aunt and uncle, before we made the last leg of the trip to Maine.
Dixie and her family have traveled north too, except, unlike us, this is a place they’ve never visited before, where they will meet relatives they don’t really  know.  They are going to New Hampshire, their own Mama’s home state.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Mama wanted to visit all her old haunts, all the places she’d been growing up.
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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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