literature

Silver Bells


I grew up listening to the old classic Christmas songs sung by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby,  Bobby Darin, Brenda Lee,  Alvin and the Chipmunks (yes, that one!)…the list goes on and on.  On Christmas Eve, Mom would put on a stack of records – for those of you born before this time – ya know, vinyl.  🙂  Those black round things that spin in a circle?

Anyway.  She would put on as many as the record player would allow.  Remember how you could get about six or seven of them balanced on the spindle ?  And as each finished, the arm would lift, move off to the side, and plunk!  The next album would drop in place, the arm would move to the edge, and the inevitable, sssshhh, sssshhhh, could be heard first and then the song would start.

What memories!  My brother and I would go to bed, and the music would play and play.  I realize now she was camouflaging the sound of her and Dad bringing out the presents.

All that said, for me, even as a little girl, no one could sing like Elvis.  Nope, not even Sinatra.  Not Bing.  Not Harry Belafonte.

I tried to find a live version of him performing this song, Silver Bells, but no luck.  Just close your eyes and listen.  Brrrrr!  His voice still gives me the shivers!

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Christmas in Dixie


The perfect song – even without those two words reminding me of a certain book.

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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SIBA Tradeshow


After learning I would be going to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in Savannah about two months ago, it’s hard for me to believe it’s already over with!  Like Christmas day, where we work our way up to the moment and before we’ve had a chance to let Christmas dinner digest, it seems like we’re taking the decorations down.

I was supposed to fly, but after realizing the entire trip would take 8 hours with the waiting at the airport, + the layover, etc., I decided to drive.  Friday morning I headed out at 7:00 a.m.  By the map calculations, it would take about 4 hours and 20 minutes to get there.  Admittedly, I was a little lead footed due to nerves.  Couple times I looked down and I was going about 85 m.p.h.  Yikes.  Before I knew it, I was only an hour away.

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My first event was at 2:00.  I arrived at around 11:15, found parking nearby, got checked into the hotel, and finally, registered.  How cool does that badge look, right?  That little blinking turtle thing was for a donation of $20.00 to support bookstore owners/employees, i.e. BINC which stands for Book Industry Charitable Foundation.  You can click on the link there, and read about what they do.  I also voted on the Bibb Pick – which I now realize I had my badge turned the wrong way when I took this pic, so it doesn’t show the sticker that says, “Bibb, I voted!”  For the Bibb pick, (named after Matt Bibb) you choose two independent bookstores to support, and then decide two ways to support them. The count is tallied, and whichever bookstores win, they are then supported in whichever manner chosen.  The two things I elected to do was a $ donation, + tweeting out about the bookstore.

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My first event was the all around signing at 2:00, pictured below.  Things were still being set up.  Me and little ole Dixie were right in the middle of the room.  You couldn’t miss us.  🙂

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I was also on the Southern Reads Panel which I don’t have any pictures of, because I was too nervous, the room was as tight as it could get, and we were in chairs at the front, practically in the laps of the “audience,” i.e. booksellers.  We scattered to the wind before I even thought to say “Hey, how about a few selfies?”

A few of my fellow panelists gave me copies of their books, (and DESPERATION ROAD’s Michael Farris Smith offered me a few sips of his Johnny Walker and water – which I needed.  I think I could have drank the whole thing)  Ashley Mace Havird was kind enough to hand me a copy of LIGHTNINGSTRUCK, as did our panel moderator, Martin Pousson, whose BLACK SHEEP BOY promises to be a compelling read, with plenty of Louisiana bayou steaminess.  He signed it “To Donna, with thunder.”  I love that.

The other two books…one came from an author from Raleigh author, Adam Jones’ who wrote FATE BALL.  He came forward to talk to me because of our Raleigh connection.  And the other book “IT’S NOT LIKE I KNEW HER,” by Pat Spears, I picked up during the Publisher’s exhibits, when I found out it was edited by one of my favorite authors – Dorothy Allison.

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After the two events, I spent time milling about with everyone else, having random conversations with booksellers and authors alike.

Savannah is a beautiful city.  None of the pictures I tried to take did it justice by any stretch.  There are huge oaks loaded with Spanish moss, and horse drawn buggies, and that salty scent of the Savannah river nearby. horse-drawn-buggy

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View from the room

Saturday  I made sure to drop in on the publisher’s exhibits and it seemed everyone under the sun was there.

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I made a bee line for American Bookseller’s Association – the folks who nominated DIXIE DUPREE for the Next Indie Pick, so I could thank them.  You can just make out their blue and white sign (ABA) towards the back of this pic below:

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In the end, I met a bunch of other authors, and was invited to come visit with booksellers, which was the whole point of the trip – so I’ll say it was a big success!

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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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