Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


1. Scraping ice off my windshield in the morning and wearing my boots and seeing the snow piled up on the sides of the road. (And it was an "unseasonably warm" weekend for Flint!)

2. Listening to the quilters sing. Gets me every time.

3. Cutting squares for my charm quilt out of donated clothing at the quilt workshop.

4. Getting to know artist Lonnie Holley a bit better (and him saying I sounded like Homer Simpson when I ran about a zillion redlights as we tried to keep up with the caravan we were following).

5. Meeting The Compulsive Reader.

6. Buying a drum keyring for my drummer boy at the museum gift shop.

7. People telling me I look just like my author photo. (Which shows you how lovely Michigan people are, because seriously, my sister worked MAGIC in that picture.)

8. Answering the kids' questions, especially this one: "Did you make the skirt you're wearing?" (Ummmm, no. But isn't it cute?)

9. Not being nervous, even on the big stage where I was under lights so bright that I could not see the audience. (Maybe that's WHY I wasn't nervous?)

10. Coming home to my sweet family. I knew I would miss them, but wow. I really REALLY missed them. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


So I'm back in Birmingham after my big weekend promoting LEAVING GEE'S BEND in conjunction with the opening of the Gee's Bend quilt exhibit at Flint Institute of Arts.

I'm tired, yes. But more than that, I'm inspired. I mean, Flint is pure awesomeness! The people are so warm and welcoming -- I swear it was just like being in Alabama. And the museum staff, particularly the Education Department... can I just say I felt so very special and well taken care of? Monique and Jana, y'all are the best!

Other highlights and pics to follow tomorrow. Meanwhile, can you guess my five favorite fictional places? Find out over at Class of 2k10!

Also, here's an article from Shelby County Reporter about one of the launch events.

And an interview at Doraine Bennett's lovely blog, all about curriculum connections.

Also some wonderful reviews: Always Something to Read
and The Joys of Reading

And last but not least: Booklist had sweet things to say about LEAVING GEE'S BEND! Here's the quick pull: "authentic and memorable" - Booklist

Now. What are YOUR favorite fictional places?? Dying to know!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Still in Flint, having a wonderful time.

But I HAD to share this. Because, you know, it's not everyday one gets to share space with Froggy. And he is ever so cute and funny and green...

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Have I mentioned before that I have a brother who is an amazing photographer?

(That's him, below, in the tie. And that other guy? Another brother! Ken.)

Yes. So when I knew I had a book to bring into the world, I called him, texted him, emailed him and pretty much begged him to unleash his brilliance at one of the launch events.

And he did! Unfortunately I don't know how to snag pics for display here from his fancy PROFESSIONAL set-up. But. You can see the whole she-bang as a a slideshow, click here. **ETA: Thanks to MJ, now I've got pics on site! But you want to see them all, don't you?? So visit Mica's Imagery link above.

Yummm.. cake! (This is the cake that Awesome Teen Librarian was so kind to stash a piece for me to enjoy later.)

And now I'm off to Flint, Michigan! I'll be joining the quilters and Matt Arnett at the opening of the quilt exhibit at Flint Institute of Arts. This means I'll be teaching about how to make curriculum connections, signing books (museum, 3 pm, Sunday!), and talking to school kids.

I'm excited! And the good news is, it's not TOO terribly cold there right now. You know, because it's not like I own a snug, bundly coat.

Scarves? yes....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


After two amazing launch events here in Birmingham, I am happy to share the following tidbits:

1. A full room with a podium and no microphone and the quilters sharing the stage = no nerves at all.

2. A full room with a raised stage and hot lights and no one but a wired-up me on the stage = hello nerves!

3. Nerves settle down as soon as you get the slides rolling.

4. Yet without the help of Awesome Teen Librarian, slides do not roll. Grr.

5. People you didn't personally invite and haven't seen in twenty years will show up.

6. People you just KNEW would be there, won't. And they won't buy a book, either. Much less, read it.

7. If there is cake, you won't get a chance to eat any of it.

8. Awesome Teen Librarian will know this, and will save you a slice before it's all gone.

9. You'll want to write long, personal inscriptions, but your mind will go blank. Then you will feel bad for being so generic (however clever).

10. You might even mess up someone's name. In which case, you eat the cost and grab a fresh book.

11. You'll forget to ask Husband to take pictures of the crowd. Yet you'll make sure he takes fifteen shots of the cake.

12. You'll get very thirsty. But there's no time to grab a bottled water.

13. Despite lack of water, you might cry. Especially if your mother is in the audience.

14. You'll be SO glad you remembered to put a tissue in your pocket.

15. But you'll wish you'd remembered your lipstick.

16. When the bookseller runs out of books, you'll feel like a rock star.

17. Then when your kids ask you "what's for supper?" you'll remember again that you're not.

18. This will make you smile. And you'll remember the gazillion reasons you have to be grateful for being in the exact spot in time that you're in.

Big THANK YOU to everyone involved. Pics from the Hoover Library event to follow tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Big congrats to the wonderfully gifted Jen Nadol, whose debut novel THE MARK comes out today!

To celebrate, Jen is hosting an online “launch party” at her blog - from Jan 19-Feb 4 with daily book-related posts and ten days of giveaways including gift cards, books and swag. And as you may recall from my review of her ARC, I loved journeying with main character Cass as she dealt with her unexpected gift.

And speaking of unexpected gifts: guess who showed up at my It's a Book Birthday Party event, completely without warning??

My sweet sister!

I cannot describe how it felt to see her appear in that room. Magic, I tell you. Will post pics as soon as my amazing photographer-brother gets 'em to me. As with everything he does, I'm sure they will be worth the wait.

Meanwhile, at my website I'm adding links to reviews and interviews pretty much daily. Here's a couple of the most recent: a review over at author Joyce Moyer Hostetter's blog and a fun interview with fellow Tenner Amy Brecount White (whose book FORGET HER NOTS will be released March 2!).

Monday, January 18, 2010


In all the blogosphere, one of my most favorite places to visit is Sarah C. Campbell's blog.

Sarah is one of those inspiring people whose creativity cannot be contained by one medium. In her books Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator (Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book) and the forthcoming Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature (March 2010), Sarah writes AND photographs (husband Richard also contributes).

But that's not all: Sarah also stitches quilts and other handmade items. In fact, I still remember (and envy!)the quilted handbag Sarah carried to a writing retreat we both attended, oh, about a year and a half ago. Some things you don't forget.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I present the following video that Sarah was gracious enough to create, about a quilt she made for her mother twenty years ago. And, yes, as I've come to expect from Sarah, it pulls together several different forms of art. Prepare to be inspired!

Want to know more about this story? Here's a video interview Sarah did with her parents at The Alliance for American Quilts. It includes photographs of Crossroads Quilters and lists available publications, such as Sarah's I Ain't Lying as well as Quilts and Quilting in Claiborne County.

And, if you're interested in story quilts, check out this interview and documentary about the most recognized of the Crossroads Quilters, Hystercine Rankin, who made story quilts and was named a National Heritage Fellowship winner in 1997 by the NEA.

If YOU have a Stitchin' Story, I'd love to feature it! Please email me at irenelatham at charter dot net. Thanks, and happy storytelling, in whatever form you choose.

Friday, January 15, 2010


According to my trusty dashboard, this, my friends, is my 500th post. Wow, who knew introverted me had that much to say?

To celebrate, here's some little tidbits about 500:

1. 2 bags of M&Ms equals 500 calories.

2. To burn those 500 calories, you'd have to ice skate at 9 mph. For an hour. Don't have a frozen pond or ice rink nearby? Try these other 500 calorie busters.

3. There's a magazine you've probably heard of called Fortune 500. I don't really know what that means. (500 what?) I just know your company is doing good if it's on that list.

4. The Indianopolis 500? That, I get. Well, at least the 500 miles part. The noise and crowds and heat and fumes, I'm not so sure about.

5. Ever seen a $500 bill? Yep. It existed once upon a time. (1928, featured President William McKinley)

6. What about one of my favorite movies of 2009? 500 DAYS OF SUMMER

7. And last but not least, for Poetry Friday: one of my most favorite anthologies: The Top 500 Poems, edited by Willam Harmon. I've been asked in blog interviews lately "what book would I want with me on a deserted island" and a fog slips into my mind. Now it's perfectly clear to me: this one. I pick this one.

And what's on page 500? "To A Skylark" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I give you the third stanza:

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning;
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

Complete poem here.

For other great poetry, see Roundup at Great Kids Books.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Big thanks to my husband Paul for taking these pics AND video AND wrangling our sons while I spoke and signed and hugged... THE BEST, I tell you.

First up, the sign Lori and Katie from North Shelby Library got printed:

Next, here's me and the family before the event. The boys were funny, btw. And sweet. I wasn't sure how they'd hold up. But several people told me how polite they were and how proud they said they were of their mama. :)

Now me with my left-handedness making me look VERY serious about signing that book!

Me and Mary Ann and China Pettway, two of the quilters from Gee's Bend -- without whom there would be no LEAVING GEE'S BEND. They sang, they talked, they made people laugh... I was so so so happy to share this time with them! (Next stop, ladies: Flint!)

Speaking of folks without whom there would be no book... me and my mama. I was SO HAPPY she was in the audience! She fit right in with all the quilters.

Have I mentioned the most awesome bookseller in the world?? Yes. Linda Brown from Milestone Books. And gorgeous too!

And, finally, CAKE! I didn't get a chance to eat any, but the boys said it was rockin'.

Thanks to SO MANY for making it an incredible event. So many people came that I didn't even know! And it was great to see old friends. I really can't describe the feeling. I'm hoping for another great event this Saturday, 2 pm, to Hoover Library. See you there!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Big congrats to fellow Tenner Anna Jarzab on today's release of her debut book, ALL UNQUIET THINGS!! I am so looking forward to reading... I mean, check out this cover:

Now let me tell you about the most recent ARC I've had the pleasure of reading -- The RED UMBRELLA by Christina Gonzalez. It's a powerful historical story about family and home that's based on Operation Pedro Pan. I'm telling you, you will be drawn into Lucia's story and that red umbrella will stick with you! Oh, and check out this cool trailer:

And, no, I haven't forgotten. Will post pics from Sunday's book launch tomorrow! Meanwhile, have you signed up for Comment Challenge 2010? Five comments a day for two weeks. That's it. And imagine the blogging connections you might make... see you there!

Monday, January 11, 2010


created at

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the One Little Word contest! As you can see, we had some GREAT words. (A few of them don't show up here ... I don't know why.) Thank you so much for sharing.

Now. To name the winner of the contest: Brigita, with the word "GROWTH"! Congratulations to you, and happy growing. :) I'll be in touch later today.

Okay, off and running this morning to a Birmingham Quilters Guild meeting -- taking my mom with me. She's hoping someone can tell her how to repair a quilt her grandmother made in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, check out more bloggers featuring LEAVING GEE'S BEND: Sarah C. Campbell (with video!), Elizabeth Dulemba, Mindi Scott, Linda Gerber,Quilter's Muse and Liyanaland! (part 2). Oh, and a fabulous review from Frenetic Reader. Thanks, y'all! And pics from yesterday's amazing launch coming v.v. soon! :)

Friday, January 8, 2010


1. Wow. Launching a book is pretty darn awesome. Thanks to everyone for your well wishes! Here's one of the ways I celebrated:

For those of you who haven't experienced this little piece of heaven, it's white chocolate bread pudding from Chuck's Fish. DELICIOUS.

2. Reviews are coming in! Check out this one from -- "a tale that will stay with the reader forever," among other things! FOREVER! Y'all, that's a long time!!

3. After all that hoopla about snow, we got maybe ten minutes of flurries. That's it. Typical Alabama.

4. And yes, Alabama won the National Championship! Lots of happy folks in my neighborhood. :)

5. It's Poetry Friday! Miss Rumphius has Roundup -- my contribution is this lovely poem by John Updike. I particularly love the first stanza. (Also, I am proud to report that I've written 2 1/2 poems this week! After a wee drought. Feels GOOD.)


The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor,
And parkas pile up
Near the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees' black lace.

The sky is low
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


So it's launch day. No more pre-orders. The book is ON SALE and ON SHELVES near you!!!

It's also a SNOW DAY here in Alabama, which means kids are out of school, but there isn't yet any snow.

And tonight is the BIG GAME! No, I am not an ALABAMA fan, but I have lots and lots of friends who are. And there is a little matter of state pride... so, ROLL TIDE! Such exciting stuff for Ludelphia to pop in on.

First, some links. In case you want to know more about me or the book, these fabulous blogs have taken it upon themselves to ask me some fun and entertaining questions. Check them out! Seriously, such awesomeness in the blogosphere. I am so grateful!

Other Shelf Tours

The Book Report

Saundra Mitchell

April Nichole


The Elevensies

Shrinking Violet Promotions

Now, for something really special: I'd like to introduce my new series for 2010, which is in part, a way for me to keep my "video every week" goal for the blog.

It's called STITCHING OUR STORIES, in which I ask people to talk about the stories behind their favorite quilts or other handmade items. Because, as Ludelphia learned, every quilt tells a story.

And because this book would not exist had I not grown up the daughter of a seamstress, my very first feature is my mama, Mary Hughs, telling the story about the first dress she ever made. Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010


As promised, I am back to share with you my one little word for 2010.

It's a big thing, selecting just one little word to provide focus and inspiration and enrichment for a whole entire year. Especially for 2010, a year I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for...

And as in previous years, I spent a good deal of time selecting and discarding, selecting and discarding. And then, there it was, THE word:

Perfect, isn't it? And not just because I have my first novel coming out, which is yes, pretty darn awesome and definitely champagne-worthy. I chose it really more for the little things, the everyday things. Things like a good night's sleep, a hug from my non-hugging almost-ten year old, the bright red holly berries encased in ice. I want to celebrate every moment of this amazing life on this gorgeous planet.

And I want to celebrate YOU, too. Readers, writers, family, friends, people I don't yet know and people I will never know. So. Share with me your "one little word" in comments, and I'll enter you in my contest to win a LEAVING GEE'S BEND prize pack!

Pack includes:
1. autographed copy of Leaving Gee's Bend

2. Ludelphia's sewing kit

3. Quilts of Gee's Bend postcard set (4)

4. Gee's Bend potholder quilted by Tinnie Pettway

Winner will be selected at midnight on Sunday, January 10. Let's celebrate!!!

Oh, and if you're in Alabama, I invite you to join me at the following events:

January 10 - Launch Party with quilters from Gee's Bend, North Shelby Library,
2 pm

January 16 - It's a Book Birthday Party!, Hoover Public Library, 2 pm, yes, there will be cake!


Well, friends, I'm not the only one with a debut book being released this week... please join me in welcoming the following books to shelves near you. And look for me back here tomorrow with a new contest AND my "one little word" for 2010. What a super-exciting week!!!

by Jennifer R. Hubbard

by Kitty Keswick

by Bonnie J. Doerr

by Yxta Maya Murray

by Dia Reeves

Friday, January 1, 2010


Welcome, 2010!!

To get the year started right, I give you my favorite poem from childhood, as read by the person who read it to me: my father, or Papa, as he is more affectionately known. (Blog goal for 2010: video once a week!)

It's just a funny list poem -- "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" by Shel Silverstein. And to me, then and now, it's magically creative and funny and inspiring. The drawing in WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS is pretty awesome too. Enjoy!

For other poetry today, Mary Lee has roundup at A Year of Reading.