Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Still no "official" photo from the Governor's people, but, before you've completely lost interest, I wanted to go ahead and share the ones from my camera.

Here's me and Ginger Rue.
Not only is Ginger an amazing author and speaker, she's also a member of Black Belt Action Commission. Love her AND her books! And she totally saved me... I didn't know I was going to have to speak at the event, and she was like the most awesome publicist ever: gave me some key points, and I ran with them. Plus she dashed around introducing me to people she felt like I needed to meet. Seriously. I need a Ginger at ever event!

Now. Here's one of Governor Riley accepting the Commission's gift to him: a Gee's Bend quilt, of course!

I also got to see Sulynn from Blackbelt Treasures at the event. Wow, seeing her sweet face in the audience sure helped to ease my nerves!

And finally, here's me and the Governor in the same shot at least... Ginger was able to snap this as we were parting ways after the presentation of LEAVING GEE'S BEND. I was so relieved at this point... mission accomplished!

Will share the "official" photo as soon as I have it. Meanwhile, I've got a school visit tomorrow -- my first of 2010-11 school year. I'm excited!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Have I mentioned before that my youngest son pretty much HATES to read? Yep. It's enough to break a book-loving mama's heart.

But. He LOVES to be read to. So I still read to him. Every night. And I have to tell you about his most favorite book from our summer reading: BANNER IN THE SKY.

Now I should say right up front that our actual mountain climbing experience is limited to a climbing wall at the mall AND this one time my rock climber brother took us to the Palisades near Oneonta, Alabama, where I slipped and dislocated my elbow. Rock Climbing Brother is also a nurse, so he bravely, miraculously popped the bone right back in place, but still. A pleasant memory this does not make.

But THIS time, we climbed from the comfort of Eric rock-n-roll bedroom. And it was awesome! We felt like were were on that Swiss mountain, breathing that thin air, searching for fingerholds with our poor bleeding fingers. There was adventure, conflict, danger, sweetness, everything.

And now son wants to do the real thing so badly that he spent his hard-earned summer money not on his original plan, but a new one: climbing rope, boots, gloves. And right now, as I type, he is drawing a picture of the Citadel. Fun!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Okay. How many of you out there have ever put down your pencil, closed your computer and said, "That's it. I'm done." ??

Well, guess what?


Again, from ART & FEAR by David Bayles and Ted Orland

"Fear that your next work will fail is a normal, recurring and generally healthy part of the artmaking cycle… In the normal artistic cycle this just tells you that you’ve come full circle, back to that point where you need to begin cultivating the next new idea."

So. IT'S OKAY TO GET STUCK. It just means it's time to move on to the next thing.

And what if the next thing is so BIG, you feel completely overwhelmed?


"Vision is always ahead of execution – and it should be. Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue."

Did you hear that, brain??? UNCERTAINTY IS A VIRTUE.

Also: "What’s really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy of how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. Simply put, making art is chancy – it doesn’t mix well with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding."


"What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is a guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work."

Want more? Buy the book!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


So I've been revising my work in progress. To help me along, I picked up a few new books. For the next few weeks, I'd like to share some of the words that have spoken to me.

First, from a book called ART & FEAR by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

"Fears about artmaking fall into two families: fears about yourself, and fears about your reception by others. In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work."

Just for fun, let's talk about that second family first -- the fear about your reception by others.

This is a fear I know. I've written about it lots of times, most recently here. Now check out this quote, particularly that last sentence:

"Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did. In fact, if artmaking did not tell you (the maker) so enormously much about yourself, then making art that matters to you would be impossible. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork. The viewers’ concerns are not your concerns (although it’s dangerously easy to adopt their attitudes.) Their job is whatever it is: to be moved by art, to be entertained by it, to make a killing off it, whatever. Your job is to learn to work on your work."

I LOVE THAT!! (Attaching to my bulletin board as we speak...)

"The lesson here is simply that courting approval, even that of peers, puts a dangerous amount of power in the hands of the audience. Worse yet, the audience is seldom in a position to grant (or withhold) approval on the one issue that really counts – namely, whether or not you’re making progress in your work. Theyre in a good position to comment on how they’re moved (or challenged or entertained )by the finsished product, but have little knowledge or interest in your process. Audience comes later. The only pure communication is between you and your work."

And guess what? I AM MAKING PROGRESS IN MY WORK. So happy!
Wishing you progress too... more of this to come.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We had so much fun with Kathy and daughter Fiona while they were in Birmingham! We took them to Yogurt Mountain and Vulcan, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and John's City Diner. And we got to see lots of writer-friends and others at Kathy's signing at Little Professor: Joan Broerman, Jo Kittinger and Kerry Madden.

It was especially great to see again some of the mothers and daughters from the book club! Next I dashed off for Girl's Night at Flip Burger Boutique. LOVE those ladies! And YUM.

Oh. We also made a quilt top for Fiona to take home as a keepsake from her big adventure with her mom. Fun! And, just as they were leaving, Fiona mentioned an ARC she has read twice: JUMP by Ginger Rue!! I was like, Oh! I love Ginger! She's my friend from way back in high school! So, yeah. Small world. JUMP is coming in September, btw. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Isn't it awesome to be around creative folks? I mean, it really gets the brain cells moving. Which is why I am absolutely itching to write/quilt/anything after the quilt show at South Fulton Arts Center in Atlanta. Not only did I meet a bunch of great Atlanta-area authors, but I also got to enjoy the quilts on display. Big thanks to Clara Ford Foundation for inviting me to be part of the festivities!

Here I am with O.V., Merva, Michelle and Myra! Thanks, y'all, for making me feel so welcome at the Hammonds House!

Eric's favorite quilt was the optical illusion one above... mine was the African princess one below. Eric also had fun with some hand drums. And can I just say that I am so going to miss having Eric with me on book events?? Summer has been AWESOME, in part because I've had such a great traveling companion on my book adventures. Alas. Tomorrow is the first day of school for one boy, with the others soon to follow. By next week all three will be back to homework and morning carpool madness. Sigh.
I also have to mention an unexpected surprise at the Atlanta events: I got to meet Farah, who is a former (long-time) Penguin employee and friend of my editor... she just got married and moved to Atlanta, and sweet thing that she is, she came out to meet me! (That's the two of us pictured above.) What a sweetheart. THANK YOU.
Now. Onto more exciting goodness: Kathryn Erskine comes tomorrow! She'll be signing at Little Professor on Tuesday, 4-6 pm. Then, on Wednesday, Kerry Madden will be signing at Alabama Booksmith, 4 pm. Y'all come!

Monday, August 2, 2010


When my dear friend Susan said, "read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," I thought, really?

Yes, it's a phenomenon at this point, and seems like everyone is reading or has read it. But it's not really my genre of choice.

Then Susan said this: "No matter what happens to the girl in the story, she's not a victim."

And I thought, hmmmmm...

So I'm reading. And Susan's absolutely right.

Then yesterday, an acquaintance who has read LEAVING GEE'S BEND said how much Ludelphia has in common with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He said that the stories may be completely different in terms of setting, genre, etc., but both of them feature strong female characters.

And I thought, cool...

Now for winners of the Poetry Friday Giveaway:
Congratulations, Mary Ann Scheuer -- you've won BORROWED NAMES by Jeannine Atkins! Congratulations, Theresa at Looking for the Write Wrods -- you've won THREE RIVERS RISING by Jame Richards!! Please email me with snail mail, so I can get these out to you.

Happy reading!!