The Stolen Cheat Sheet

The Stolen Cheat Sheet

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.

 

My BEA 2016 Experience Shared with Giraffes, Sand, & Books

My BEA 2016 Experience Shared with Giraffes, Sand, & Books

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?2016-05-14 19.27.49

 

It’s in the title of a book of course. When Giraffes Flew Final-RGB-96

This year BEA was in Chicago. I did not meet a stranger.2016-05-12 10.04.30

 

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.

 

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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.

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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/

my Little Free Library runneth over with books!

my Little Free Library runneth over with books!

Little Free Library Books!

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.

Little Free Library, Fayetteville, Spring!

 

spring at my Little Free Library

 

Tulips at my Little Free Library

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

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.

Conrack Gone- Pat Conroy Remembered

Conrack Gone- Pat Conroy Remembered

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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.

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Decatur Book Festival

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.

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Savannah Book Festival

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.

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Mina & Conroy Fitness Center

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,

V.L.
———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.comamazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

 

Black Dog on the Square with Zelle Andrews

Black Dog on the Square with Zelle Andrews

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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…

Zelle Andrews

 

Purchase your copy of Paisley Memories HERE!

Virtual Book Launch Party!

Virtual Book Launch Party!

Book Launch Party!

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.)

  • WHAT? A book launch party held over the internet means there’s no reason not to “attend”. You don’t have to get dressed or fix your hair or wear shoes or leave your couch. You can attend while eating supper or watching Netflix.
  • WHEN? January 28, 2016, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Central Time.
  • WHY? Because this is my book release date! Publishing a first book is worthy of a celebration and the only way to celebrate with all my friends at once is via the interweb.
  • WHO? Everyone. You. Me. Facebookers.
  • WHERE? On Facebook. So, yes you do have to be on Facebook to participate. 
  • HOW? Click HERE to join the Facebook party. Easy.

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.

Launch Party prizes! Book Launch prizes! Book Launch Prizes!

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?

I am.

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

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee by Talya Tate Boerner

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee

by Talya Tate Boerner

Giveaway ends February 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Rocky Porch Moore’s Whirlwind Weekend

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Rocky Porch Moore’s Whirlwind Weekend

 

The question racing through my mind was “What if no one comes?” followed immediately by the more terrifying “What if everyone comes?”  The weeks leading up to the initial book signing and launch for Clemenceau’s Daughters were fraught with anticipation.  After all, once launched, a book can’t be un-launched.  The good folks at SYP knew just what to do to keep me from fretting myself into a frenzy:  keep the girl so busy she doesn’t have time to worry!

 

I was absolutely overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support from the Foley community.  Zana Price, the celebrated Queen of Foley, put on a social media blitz that made my little ole book signing rival a celebrity appearance.   She and the Foley Performing Arts Association were so gracious in providing “prime real estate” for the event at Trim A Tree, Foley’s annual holiday crafts extravaganza.

 

I had the pleasure of greeting a steady stream of well-wishers, from teachers to church members to former students.  Even the incomparable Mrs. Bebe Foster, a Foley institution, stopped by for a book and a chat!  Just when I started feeling like the Homecoming Queen, though, I would be brought back to reality by random shoppers asking the location of the restrooms.

 

The launch party itself was held at the Foley Art Center, a quaint New Orleans shotgun house perched right across from Heritage Park, all bedecked in twinkling Christmas splendor.  The evening was filled with laughter, joy, and those delicious little sausage cheese balls my precious mother-in-law, Marge, spent hours preparing. I even had the pleasure of recording a radio interview with Clark Stewart of Foley’s own WHEP.  Punch flowed and my pen flew almost as quickly as the time.  All the while, SYP’s Terri Gerrell was at my side to make sure the events progressed seamlessly.

 

Now that I’ve had a day or two to catch my breath and reflect on the whole experience, I am even more excited to know that Clemenceau’s Daughters is now gracing coffee tables and bedside tables all over, well, the world!   My students would call the launch “epic”, but I think a more accurate description would be Southern to the bone…not that silly, cliché TV South, but the easy-going gentile attitude that feels like home.  What could be more fitting?

Rocky Porch Moore

Paisley Memories Contest Time

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Paisley Memories CONTEST TIME!!

Here is your chance to win an autographed copy of Paisley Memories. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself on my Facebook PAGE, wearing a paisley blouse. This contest is open to men too, not just women. 🙂

My daughter will check out all the pictures and choose a winner. You will be notified by me, and I will mail you a signed copy of Paisley Memories. The contest started on December 12th and ends December 30th.

So throw on those paisley blouses and send me some pictures!

 

Zelle

Rocky’s Reflections On Book Publishing

Rocky writing

Reflections On Book Publishing

My ideas of book publishing were firmly ensconced in the lore of the 18th century.  I was Joe March, quill in hand, happily scratching away at my manuscript by the oily lamplight in a frigid attic while my family slept through the witching hours.  I was hoarding my spare change for parchment to be wrapped tidily in prickly twine, my precious words crowding for space and hoping to find their place… leatherbound and gracing private libraries.

 

Fast forward to the 21st century and cue reality!  The penning of Clemenceau’s Daughters, my southern gothic romp through the foothills of the Tennessee Valley, has been anything but idyllic in the making.   Armed with a laptop and fueled by an ungodly amount of Coke (the drink, not the drug), I wrote the initial draft from a fold-up camp chair at the soccer field, the stands between basketball games and volleyball matches, and that sweet spot between 3-5AM when my house is quiet.  The oldest of my four kids had left for college and the remaining three had become pretty self-serve, meaning I could trust them not to kill themselves or each other if I slipped away for a bit of writing.  

 

As much as I longed (and still do) to tuck myself into my writing cottage and click, click, click to my heart’s desire in my thinking hat—it worked for Joe March; why not for me—I followed the one piece of  “How to Make It in the Publishing World” advice that appears universal in every article, blog post, or book I’ve read on the matter:  don’t quit your day job!  I am a high school English teacher, and I’m here to tell you that any notions of drafting a manuscript while students happily read Fahrenheit 451 went up in smoke faster than Montag’s illusions of making fire chief.

 

The question people ask me most often is  “When do you find the time to write?”  The answer lies in not waiting for the perfect time, but in simply taking time.   Yes, I’m busy.  Yes, I have a fulfilling career and a large family. I feel like I go 100mph from event to event, often sliding in sideways at the last minute to be there.  But be there I am!  The same goes for writing.  I write during ball practice, between the dryer buzzers, while the pie bakes, in the early mornings, and on weekends when I’m not cheering on the Crimson Tide.  I think about what I’ll write while waiting in line at the grocery store, driving back and forth to school, and especially when I am running.  I can get a character worked out more on a three mile run than sitting at a screen for three hours any day of the week.

 

Clemenceau’s Daughters was particularly challenging in that I wanted to make the setting as autobiographically accurate as possible while keeping the characters and action fictional.  I wanted to capture the nonchalance of the prejudices of the times and interweave that with superstition.  Folks will want to assign parallels to the characters because the family framework is markedly similar.  The family dynamic, however, is my creation.  If anyone’s part can be “based on the true story”, I reckon the dog comes closest.

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Purchase your copy here!