As a blogger, reunited adoptee. abuse survivor, and writer, I live in a whirlwind of emotion. Occasionally, I am able to capture those feelings and heave them onto the page. The result, when I don’t delete the post, is this blog.
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com–amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
View the Waving Backwards book trailer-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U
We are pleased to announce the forthcoming joint venture of Southern Yellow Pine Publishing LLC with Mark Wayne Adams Inc. Due to popular demand, SYP Publishing has established an imprint, SYP Kids of which MWA Inc is excited to become a part. It is scheduled to take place officially on April 1, 2017. Terri Gerrell and SYP Publishing are pleased to welcome Mark Wayne Adams as Creative Director of SYP Kids. It is our goal to continue the tradition of excellence we have put in place for both companies. Most of all, we are grateful for your loyalty and are confident that our new affiliation will serve us all for years to come.
Sincerely, Terri Gerrell & SYP Publishing
By: Zelle Andrews
Today a dream came true. Paisley Memories is on the shelves of Barnes & Noble in Tallahassee, Florida. I was invited to be a guest speaker, during a teen book festival over the weekend. This would be my second speaking engagement…EVER. During my first speaking engagement, I stammered quite a bit in the beginning and my voice was shaky. Was I just a tad nervous? That was an understatement. At this event, I was much more relaxed. Until my cheat sheet was stolen.
The other author, Talya Boerner and I, were given a list of questions that were suggestions of what to discuss during our author questionnaire panel. I was relying heavily on that cheat sheet. I was so engrossed and focused on answering a particular question that I didn’t notice someone picking up the cheat sheet. In the middle of talking I looked down and all I saw was the white table cloth. It was gone! I’m sure a look of anguish and panic etched itself on my face as my eyes searched for the culprit. “You stole my cheat sheet!” I announced loudly when I saw who held it. I even forgot where I was in regards to answering the question. I started to stammer…
My safety net was gone. Sink or swim, Zelle, I thought to myself. I swam… It felt like I was swimming in the freezing water of the Wakulla River, but I swam. At the end of the event books were sold and signatures written. And to my delight shelves were stocked with Paisley Memories.
The only three things I need to write are my laptop, glasses, and my imagination. The only three things I need to make an author panel go off without a hitch are my books, sales, and a cheat sheet that hasn’t been stolen.
I’m returning from a trip to BookExpo America 2016 (BEA). I’m sitting on the plane home, looking at the clouds and searching for flying giraffes as I reflect on this four-day whirlwind. Why flying giraffes?
Love of the book and written word unites people in a fundamental way. We were readers, writers, publishers, educators, & more with common ground.Everyone I met was excited to talk with other book lovers. My experience at BEA was characterized by sharing. Everything about books was shared. Those new to the business were excited to learn from the experienced. Publishers & professionals shared contacts and methods. Techy people offered bold new ideas for us to consider. Seven FAPA members shared the three-day work load. They spread the word about FAPA, the President’s Book Awards and our display. Perhaps most importantly, enthusiasm and inspiration were shared by all. I spent these days talking about FAPA and our award-winning books. I was able to represent FAPA members and SYP Publishing. I absorbed as much new information as my brain would process.
I know that book lovers everywhere, including Gracie Lee, will benefit from all the work and play that occurred this week. It was truly a book lover’s show and tell. And yes we played, we even managed a little sand art in FAPA colors. As I fly over the clouds and search for flying giraffes, I think about the power of the book. The book is here to stay. The format may change. The way it is created may evolve. The way it is perfected and produced will certainly alter. I am excited to be part of the publishing world at this time. Books shape all our lives.
Purchase your copy of Unbroken Circles for Schools at http://www.syppublishing.com/unbroken-circles-for-schools/
Purchase your copy of The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee at http://www.syppublishing.com/the-accidental-salvation-of-gracie-lee-trade-paperback/
Purchase your copy of When Giraffes Flew at http://www.syppublishing.com/when-giraffes-flew/
What timing. A couple of weeks ago, I returned from Austin to find my Little Free Library almost completely empty. Sometimes the “take a book, leave a book” idea leaves my library out of balance, and that’s okay because—think about it—if you go for a walk and happen upon a Little Free Library that contains a book you want to read, you may not have another book with you to leave in its place. Understandable. It’s all good in the end because there are other times my book supply runneth over from donations from friends and neighbors.
Here’s where the good timing came into play… I also returned to find an entire box of books in my mail—a donation to my Little Free Library from my publisher. (So yes, I’m required to tell you I received free books but all opinions are my own.) The books were those published by SYP Publishing over the last few years. The variety is great, from fishing tales to suspense and thriller and every genre in between. Many are award-winning books from the Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association. (SYP is located in Tallahassee so that ‘splains the Florida connection.)
Of course now I have a dilemma because I want to read each book even though I already have a stack of books waiting for me.
While I can’t tell you about all of these books, I can tell you about the one I just finished reading…
When Giraffes Flew – Author, Jeff Weddle is an expert story teller who has built an impressive and eclectic resume that includes public library director, disc jockey, newspaper reporter, Tae Kwon Do teacher, and fry cook. His first book won the Eudora Welty Prize, so you can bet I pulled When Giraffes Flew right out of the stack and read it in one night. Seriously, it was delicious like a bag of M&Ms left on the dashboard of my car on a spring day—complete messy decadence that melted in my mouth and left me craving more. Yes, his short stories are sometimes dark, sometimes twisted, and yes, I found each one entertaining and even related to a few of them… I’m not sure what that says about me. And p.s. for all you Roll Tide fans, he’s an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. So there’s that.
I haven’t had a chance to read the others, so for now I’ll add them to my Little Free Library and the neighborhood can enjoy this assortment of great reads. I’ll let them go and if they come back…well…you know the rest.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
P.S. I wonder what all these Sunshine State books think about hanging in the Natural State with my Razorback?
P.P.S. Click HERE for additional information on these southern authors and their books!
– See more at: http://www.gracegritsgarden.com/2016/04/little-free-library-books-syp-publishing.html#sthash.gE8b34Gk.dpuf
Maybe Not the Devil; Maybe Your Past
Understanding the Nature of Protracted, Catabolic Conflict
By Ken Johnson
Growing up in America’s Bible Belt, I am sensitive to certain things. Over the years, I’ve noticed how a rather peculiar notion has developed where any calamity in one’s life is usually attributed to the person “doing good” and therefore “the Devil is out to get them.” While I find it odd how an all-powerful deity would allow an inferior spirit to cause calamity to His followers, I must say it seems to be a deeply held belief by many people. I’ve even run across in the field.
Albeit a quaint notion, a study of culture and conflict reveals the reasons for most issues of social discord happens as a result of unresolved issues from the past – not the Devil. Indeed, it would seem, to quote the 1970’s comic strip Pogo, “We have seen the enemy and he is us!”
Whether it is an interpersonal relationship, a religious institution, a business, a social/professional club, a school, nonprofit, government agency, or any other socio-economic interpersonal relationship; issues of conflict are bound to happen. Sometimes, the conflict is anabolic – acting as a catalyst for potential growth and development. However, as happens most times, the conflict we commonly see is the result of catabolic conflict – working like weeds in a garden to sap away the strength and vigor of a group. As I note in both my book, Unbroken Circles SM for Schools, as well as a later piece titled “The Good and Bad of Conflict,” both types of conflict behave in drastically different ways.
For instance, anabolic conflict is very overt and engaging. A need is seen and therefore a fix is proposed. Sometimes, there isn’t so much a need seen as a problem identified – even though a solution may not be presented. This is the conflict Fortune 500 companies use to make their businesses grow when others are failing. The problem is most people are not trained in recognizing and molding such conflict. Therefore, the initial gut response is to quash it by any means necessary – thus, unintentionally destroying chances for growth, removal of “slack,” and bringing resolution to potentially long term and critical problems.
Catabolic conflict is a different animal. It is like termites in that it is very covert. Most times, managers and people in leadership will have the primary source of conflict staring them in the face and they cannot see it. Catabolic conflict usually starts off as a seed of core unresolved issue(s). As time grows on, layers of feelings and history pile on, with each layer obfuscating the primary issue(s) at hand. Because most leaders quash anabolic conflict’s endeavors to ameliorate these situations, catabolic conflict is allowed to go through five distinct stages before it metastasizes to cycle over somewhere else within, or even outside of, the group.
This cycling of conflict, much like an avalanche building, usually creates a fundamental change in the group culture which manifests itself in predictable patterns and behaviors proportionate to the length of time the protracted conflict has occurred as well as the number of times the conflict has cycled. In Unbroken Circles SM for Schools, I identified nine stages related to issues of catabolic cycling over and over, to wit: Storming, Villifying, Army Building, Entrapment, Dragon Slaying, Champion Finding, Burnout, Retreating, and Leaving.
Like cancer, catabolic conflict also has its own unique sets of traits to it allowing for trained conflict specialists to ferret out the root cause(s) of the conflict(s). When consulting with organizations, I commonly use a cheat sheet to illustrate the “void” to the client. However, even without the chart, it is really simple to understand because it is based on correlations.
In all, I utilize six fundamental correlations in my conflict assessments which involve the core concepts of vision, values, communication, skills/acumen, resources, and action plans. Thus, no matter the number of cyclings of conflict, I can more easily walk into a setting, as a neutral third party, and see for instance how issues of anxiety or insecurity may be due to a lack of skills, or acumen, in the organization. Meanwhile, employees and volunteers reporting back to me “false starts,” “erratic changes,” or “switching to fads” tells me there may not be a sound action plan in place. Issues of confusion or chaos may be caused by a lack of vision while frustrations expressed may be caused from a lack of resources. Misunderstandings are usually created by a breakdown in communication while routine conflict and apathy is usually an issue involving a breakdown in core values.
In this way, a competent conflict specialist can seek out the core issues of conflict and offer up suggestions be it either in a consultant capacity or in one-on-one mediations. Being a Restorative Justice facilitator, this technique can also help drive discussions in circle sessions and other restorative practices.
Kenneth Johnson, a famous and well-accomplished science fiction screenwriter, director, and producer, once suggested to me there are no real monsters in the world other than man. He brought up Hitler and Pol Pot as prime examples for me to contemplate his words. To that, I would also suggest most of the demons, devils, and other gremlins in our lives are caused by our own previous actions. Knowing how these issues behave, we can then move forward to either engage in the healthful harnessing of the challenges created by anabolic conflict or we can begin rooting out the source causes of catabolic conflict.
When I read of Pat Conroy’s death, I prayed it was not so. In my continued prayers since learning of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, I imagined Pat fit, healthy, and miraculously healed by the prayers of his well-wishers, readers and fans.
Pat deserved to be well. Pat needed to be at the next book festival, filling literary minds with encouragement, humor, and his painfully honest recollections. The book world could not survive without Pat’s pink-cheeked smirk, wry humor or masterful manipulation of words. Yet, this dark day, we must find a way to do so.
Pat was my author. It’s hard to describe why, or how, he became ‘my’ author. It likely started where every literary love affair begins, in a book. Water is Wide was my first foray into Pat Conroy’s world. It was love at first read. After that, I devoured everything Pat wrote, and attended every reading, festival and signing where I might feast on his opinions, learn a literary trick, hug greatness.
I think a quote from Pat’s My Losing Season- A Memoirdescribes my feelings best-
“The great teachers fill you up with hope and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life. I wanted to follow Mr. Monte around for the rest of my life, learning everything he wished to share or impart, but I didn’t know how to ask.”
I had the good fortune of breathing the same air as Pat Conroy many times. So many times in fact, that a few friends asked if I was a Conroy stalker. Every greeting from Pat buckled my knees, and quickened my heart in a fan girl manner that made deep questions on writing, survival, and other important life issues, impossible.
Pat was always patient and gracious despite my goofiness. He laughed when author Mary Hood (who’d witnessed my breathless approach) told me to, “breath” from a nearby signing table at the Savannah Book Festival. He teased me as we took a photo together, making up tales of knowing my mother in high school, and having a great time with her (wink, wink). He greeted my daughter and I at the opening of the Mina and Conroy Fitness Center as if we were long lost family, delivering a peck on the cheek that made me swoon.
As a fellow abuse survivor, and writer, Pat represented for me, the hopeful idea that I might someday capture the brutality of my own childhood in a prose that prickled reader’s skin and healed their hearts.
To open a Conroy book is to watch Pat slice a vein, and bleed precisely and eloquently on every page. Pat Conroy was a beacon for the beaten down, a man who reigned over a kingdom of readers with the touch of a healer.
He was my author, and I miss him already.
Blessings for Pat’s loving wife Cassandra, his family & friends,
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com–amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U
Black Dog on the Square with Zelle Andrews
There is a first for everything. Friday, February 26th was a first for me. I stood in front of friends and strangers and read from my novel, Paisley Memories, for the first time…ever. That is if you don’t count the times I read it out loud to my dogs, Ruby and Cooper. They weren’t as captive an audience as I had on Friday night.
I arrived one and a half hours early at Black Dog Care on the Square in Tallahassee, Florida and climbed up the steps to the door. I’d climbed these steps a few times before when I went to listen to other authors, but this was my night to speak.
When I shared with my husband earlier that day that I was nervous he gave me the classic line “Imagine them in their underwear or naked.”
When he arrived he noticed nude artwork on the walls which I assumed was from a local artist. His response. “Well, you don’t have to use your imagination.” We both laughed and I felt some tension wash away.
After my publisher, Terri Gerrell, graciously introduced me I stepped up to the microphone. With my left hand slightly shaky and my voice wavering a bit I managed to pull myself together and give my reading without fainting, stuttering, or losing my place between pages. I looked up and realized everyone was awake, all seats were still occupied and no one had slipped out the back. It was a great reading and I sold a few novels!
Of course I’ll practice with Ruby and Cooper before any future readings and dangle food before them to keep them attentive. Don’t worry, I won’t dangle food at my next reading, but it I just might serve it…
Purchase your copy of Paisley Memories HERE!
SAVE THE DATE because you’re invited to my virtual book launch party! (This post is sponsored by a variety of cool artisans identified below—opinions are my own.)
So how does it work? It’s simple. You can participate as much as you like or be a voyeur and just read along.
Here are the basic rules:
I’ll post a question every ten minutes and you’ll post a response or comment. The questions will somehow be related to the book or to reading in general or about the South or growing up—I don’t exactly know because I haven’t thought of the questions yet. But the thing is, this isn’t a test or a trick. There are no right or wrong responses. Just imagine sitting around the table talking about a movie you saw or a current event. Everyone adds to the discussion.
It’s fun and fast paced—at least it will be if people participate. (Seriously, if no one joins in, I’ll be posting questions and talking to myself, so please don’t make me do that because I will.)
A prize will be given to a randomly chosen winner from each set of responses. In other words, every ten minutes or so, a prize will be announced.
And the prizes!
I’m excited to say most of the prizes are being sponsored by local artisans and/or small businesses which I think is pretty special.
1. Coneflower seeds harvested from my own flowerbeds last fall. You can read all about this HERE. (No guarantee your flowers will grow—that’s up to you.😊)
2. Grace Grits and Gardening travel candle. This 4 oz soy-blended travel candle is addictive and not soon forgotten. Burn time is 20 hours. You’ll love the aroma of leather and flowers and you’ll want more, but I have a very limited supply.
3. Handmade gift tags I made from Christmas cards. Aren’t they cute?
4. Bath Grits! Southern Girl Soapery partners with local farmers to provide natural products with a southern flair. This wonderful company is headquartered in Little Rock.
5. Venture Planner download from blogger / adventurer and fellow Arkansas Women Blogger, Sarah Shotts. She is so creative and a real inspiration.
6. Orange Lemongrass Soap and Body Drink from By Camille, a local artisan from Branson, Mo. Love her products!!! (Camille is my mother’s college friend’s daughter.)
7. Secret Garden color-your-own Postcards from Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Ar. For all that snail mail you plan to send in 2016.
8. Scalloped-Edge Clay Bowl made by artisan Beth S Macre Studios. Check out all her adorable pieces at HeartHomes.
9. Just Stitched Love Bird Zippie from Jennifer Salter of Homespun Happiness (& Texas Women Bloggers).
10. Big surprise from moi!
Are you excited?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life
– See more at: http://www.gracegritsgarden.com/2016/01/virtual-book-launch-party.html#sthash.4ZBqEhtw.dpuf