Friday, January 29, 2010

XXXII ~ February 2010

It's still winter here, though we had a lovely day in the fifties before the snow began to fall again. Eighteen or more inches is a possibility -- and that includes the possibility of another power outage. We're prepared -- generator, wood, gas, kerosene, dog food, people food . . . and in further preparation, I'm posting this a few days early -- just in case we're without power on the first.

I've seen some preliminary cover art for The Day of Small Things -- I can't show it to you yet but I was very pleased with it. The cover features a young woman atop a rail fence, looking off into the woods -- very much like the young Birdie I'd imagined but for one little detail.

In my manuscript, the young Birdie's hair is a pale, moonlight blonde. This cover shows a girl with long dark hair.


When I pointed this out to my editor, she asked the Art Department to try to photoshop the hair color to blonde and they gave it a try but the results were less than pleasing.

So, I went back through the manuscript and turned Birdie's pale tresses to dark brown. It wasn't that big a deal -- and I wasn't that attached to a blonde Birdie. But for all of you who think that authors have input or control over their covers, I say to you, ha! ha! and au contraire.

Maybe by next month I'll be able to show you the cover. The book is listed on Amazon now, for presale, which does make it seem a little closer to reality.

Here's a slide show of various and sundry photos from January. Click on the picture to view.


Mary B. writes: The Beauty School of Kabul was interesting and kind of fun. Have you read it?
It was interesting and kind of fun. It's about an American hairdresser who started a cosmetology school for Afghan women -- non fiction. You can imagine the problems she had! Also -- have you read The Lacuna?... I love Barbara Kingsolver and am anxious to read it. I'm interested in the whole Frida Kahlo/Trotsky/Diego drama.

Pat in east TN says: I'm reading The Coal Tattoo right now and they're talking about the mineral rights that folks had signed years before not really knowing what they were signing... now the coal company was coming in to do more mining and all ~ell was about to break loose. It's a good book but then I am a fan of Silas House.

Tipper in Brasstown (who has a terrific blog - The Blind Pig and the Acorn - about all things Appalachian asks: Have you ever heard of Peggy Poe Stern? I just finished reading one of her books and loved it. She too writes about Appalachia. The book was so good I just cannot figure out why I haven't heard of her before.

Elaine in Hawaii says:I have been reading Christopher Fowler: Full Dark House, 77 Clocks, etc. He's a v. funny guy...or he writes funny stuff.


High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver - Wonderful essays --what a writer this woman is!

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool - If you read (or write) novels with a 19th century English setting, this is for you. Or if you're just curious about that era. I loved it!

Growing Up in Davie County by William Jamie Moore and Jamie W. Moore, ed. -- a detailed glimpse at life in small town North Carolina in the early 20th century. Great archival photographs!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- a recent mention of this book by a comment from Miss Yves in France sent me to the book shelf to get reacquainted with this old friend. Next, Good Wives and Little Men.


Monday, May 17 ~ Meeting with the "Read Between the Wines Book Club" in Morganton, NC.

SEPTEMBER 28 -- MISS BIRDIE FLIES!! Release date for (the long-awaited) The Day of Small Things!!!!!!!!!!

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Friday, January 1, 2010

XXXI - January 2010


I hope you all have your black-eyed peas and hog jowl for good luck, along with the collard greens to put money in your pocket.

Resolutions? I resolve not to make them.

Peering out from the dark winter time into another year . . . somehow, unbelievably it's 2010! These are uncertain times . . . in the book world as elsewhere. Book stores closing, newspapers cutting review sections . . . 'Don't quit your day job,' I tell the aspiring writers in my classes.

"May you live in interesting times" is said to be an ancient Chinese curse. And these are interesting times, for sure.

But the days are getting longer again; the snow -- 'poor man's fertilize' as the old farmer calls it -- has enriched our fields; and the seed catalogs promise that Spring is coming.

I expect it to be good.

Here's a slide show with pictures from the big snow that knocked out our power for five days. Click on the picture to enlarge and to read the captions.


Deborah E. says: Your photos have inspired me to get out and take photos of the everyday places and things around me, and I have enjoyed it so much. Some of the photos will be used to paint from, others just to enjoy or share. Some I have enlarged for my husband's office. This really make me happy. I enjoy taking pictures so much -- I'm delighted if I've been the cause of someone else discovering this wonderful pastime.

Pat in east TN writes: I read your newsletter and noticed that several folks have read THE HELP. It's an all time favorite of mine and I can't help but recommend it to anyone/everyone. I am anxious to see what this author comes up with next. I'm now reading ALEX STEWART, a book I won on THE BOOK HOUSE blog. Very interesting man who lead quite a life way back in the mountains of east TN. Both on on my TBR list, Pat! It's just a matter of time . . .

Eleanor in Florida loved Olive Kitteredge, btw...and will now do Time Traveler's...I too am tempted by The Help. You should read Julius Winsome too. Thanks, Eleanor -- I always like your recommendations!

Sue P has been reading: The Inspector Rutledge series by Charles Todd, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Last(?) Inspector Wexford by Ruth Rendell - The Monster in the Box. As always, so good. Necessary As Blood by my sort-of neighbor, Deborah Crombie.
I'm definitely a Charles Todd and Deborah Crombie fan -- will have to check out the others as well.

Sue also says:Got a Kindle for Christmas, and while I will NEVER give up real books, this will be fun for traveling, or instances like now when I am trying to read the new Stephen King (Under the Dome) - all 1100 pages of it. Especially in bed. It keeping conking me on the head. If I traveled more, I'd be very tempted by the Kindle.

Esta writes: I recently picked up a copy of the children's book The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, and thought it might be something you'd enjoy. It's set in Western NC, the story is simple and moving (and rings true), and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Carol from Fletcher is: Reading thru the Liz Reader, Exerpts from the Late Elizabeth Daniels Squire, Miss her and Her Peaches Dann character!


The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad: A look at a world I can hardly imagine.

Passenger from Frankfurt by Agatha Christie: One of her much later books --- and it was on the NYT Best Sellers for twenty something weeks. Far-fetched fun.

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys: Historical vignettes that are poetic evocations of London over seven centuries. Amazing writing. And good reading at this cold time of year -- for a reminder of just how deadly winter can be.

Shop Class As Soul Craft
by Matthew B. Crawford: An examination into the dignity and satisfaction of doing things with your hands. I really liked this -- considering it's something I already believed, not surprising.

The corrected page proofs of Miss Birdie's book, The Day of Small Things, are on their way back to New York. So now the ball's in their court.

Next up -- cover art. I sent a suggestion for a cover some while back but have no idea what they're planning. Sadly, Jamie, the woman who's been responsible for all my other covers, was let go in the significant down-sizing that went on at Random House a while back so I really don't know what to expect. Jamie read and liked my books and I think it showed in the covers she designed.

We shall see.

And eventually there will be ARCs - advance reading copies -- to be sent to reviewers and potential blurb writers. And at long last, come September 28, there'll be the book itself.

But now I have to concentrate my efforts on finishing Under the Skin -- the next Elizabeth book.

And after that . . . who knows? Another spin off about the Melungeons, Ish and Mariah, perhaps? An Elizabeth book using all the Myrna Lou story that got removed from Birdie's book? I have several other good ideas percolating in the back of my head, but the uncertain climate in the publishing world may be a factor in whether I get another contract . . .
Like the blue heron, I shall cultivate serenity . . . and a wait-and-see attitude.