All posts by Kathy Wilson Florence

About Kathy Wilson Florence

Author of two books: "Jaybird's Song," a southern novel that debuted in Feb 2017; and "You've Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha," a compilation of favorite columns from the Dunwoody Crier newspaper. Both are available via Amazon.com. More: Commercial Writer, Graphic Designer, Realtor, 16-year columnist in the Dunwoody Crier, candlestick maker, mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend

Okay, this is getting fun.

I’m about six months in as a published novelist and I’ve learned a lot:

  1. Writing is an amazing release.
  2. EVERYONE has a story to tell. Everyone. Some of you are lucky enough to have an amazing life story for memoir or have conquered and learned to the point of having a roadmap for others.
  3. If you’re like me and fiction is your thing…. how much fun is it to make stuff up? I seriously LOVE that about fiction!
  4. It is WAY harder to make a living out of this than I ever imagined. If that’s your real and only goal, it’s truly going to take a huge pile of luck i.e., Oprah-kind-of-luck because it’s really a small potatoes — or working in the red — thing until that point.

But, I’m REALLY having fun and I’m REALLY grateful for the HUGE support system that has been my made up of really awesome and supportive friends and family who read and like my book and continue to support it.

I never expected that I would write a book that everyone would like. And of course, I didn’t.

But here’s the thing: As of this blog, I’m up to 39 Amazon reviews and I have 4.9 stars! And SO MANY OF THE RECENT REVIEWS are from people I don’t know! This is really encouraging and SO MUCH FUN! Early in the summer I had a publicist helping me who forwarded the book to lots of book bloggers and people who review books via a program called NetGalley. The reviews have started coming in from readers who I don’t know…

And they are still liking Jaybird’s Song! AND these are avid readers… so possessed with books that they do this all the time!

Click here and read the reviews. If you click on the right where it says READ MOST RECENT you’ll find a whole bunch of readers that I don’t know, but I hope to one day. Their words are really, really encouraging!

 

Jaybird in flight.

upcomingeventsLots of good stuff happening

this month for “Jaybird’s Song.” Check out these free events where I’ll be signing books (and in some cases presenting the deets) for my new novel, as well as “You’ve Got A Wedgie Cha Cha Cha,” a collection of columns from my years as a weekly columnist for the Dunwoody Crier.

My sally into the novelist world has been fun and is getting better all the time,

but I need a catapult…

and you can help.

Here’s are some ways. And I’ll be oh-so grateful!

  1. Have you read “Jaybird’s Song?” If yes, thank you! Please tell your friends if you enjoyed it, and PLEASE post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you haven’t read it, here’s how you can purchase: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=kathy+wilson+florence

2. Share my posts! These events are great opportunities for book lovers to meet lots of authors and share their love of books and more.

3. Tell your book clubs about “Jaybird’s Song!” I’d love to come to your meeting to join in the discussion, and I’ll provide hard copies at a discounted price for your club.

4. Share your pics reading “Jaybird’s Song.” I’ll post them on my Facebook page, or share via Instagram via @jaybirdssong, #readsnapshare, #jaybirdssong

4. Do you have an “in” with Oprah? Or Reese? Drew? Nicole? I’m looking for that giant catapult and any of these ladies could make it happen!

5. Come see me at Escape2Books next Saturday, or the Decatur Book Festival or Titles at Twilight! Thanks so much for all your support!

And please feel free to comment on this blog, share, etc. I see the analytics that people are reading, but I’d love to know WHO is reading and catch up with you! K

 

I call it the ‘Raja’s Rice’ method.

Overwhelmed? More on your plate than you can possibly cover?

I have a method of coping and I shared it today with my daughter. I heard her frantic heartbeat slow and her blood pressure steady as I mapped out my suggested plan, and it made me feel like an active, hands-on, needed and effective mother again.

“Do you remember when your sister came home from 4th grade one day and had that huge emotional meltdown?” I asked her.

She didn’t remember, but I remember every detail.

Jill’s face was white as a sheet when she got off the bus that day. When I questioned her, she fell apart and couldn’t stop crying long enough to even tell me what had happened. I conjured every possible worst-case scenario as I worked to calm her and was never so happy to learn that her meltdown was due to an outrageous (and completely unfair and ridiculous) load of homework.

She explained that the assignments had been piling on all day long and she’d been feeling pressure, but just before the bell rang, her teacher assigned a story from the literature book called “Raja’s Rice,” and wanted a three paragraph summary of what she read.

That was her tipping point.

I’ve always juggled a lot of balls at a time (and I’ve always liked Oreos), so I calmed her down with a couple of Oreos and a glass of milk and said to myself, “You’ve got this.”

It may have been my finest hour.

We started by going through her student planner and bookbag and making a list of all the work she was to accomplish before school the next day. Next, I asked her to write an estimate of how much time each line item was going to take to complete. Then I asked her to look at the items that were going to take the most time and think about whether there were organizational steps that she could complete toward the project that would make her feel accomplishment, and how much time would that take?

The list was long. Why can’t assignments be better coordinated in elementary school so kids don’t get so overwhelmed? But, once we looked at it carefully, we realized that there were several items that would take only five or ten minutes each.

“Let’s start there. Then you will have several things checked off the list and behind you.”

Twenty minutes later she had three items checked off and the color started coming back to her face.

Next, we assigned time slots for the rest of the list. We accounted for dinner, a couple of breaks and broke up a couple of the big ticket items into two time slots, but we blocked off specific start and finish times for each and every item and we mixed the easier items between the harder ones.

Then we followed the plan to a tee. I was the timekeeper and at each time interval I would let her know it was time to move to something new. Only once did she not complete something in the time slot we’d alloted but we mutually agreed that the plan was working, so we moved its completion to the end of the list.

She finished every assignment and we both felt accomplished and proud.

“Raja’s Rice” turned out to be the fable you may have read called, “One Grain of Rice” whereby a young village girl outsmarts the selfish raja. For me, it turned out to be the method by which I organize myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. And it works every time.

I know it’s not the first time I’ve shared the method with Jackie, but today was the day my lesson resonated with her. She’s long-since out of school, but the workload at her job has been growing and I recognized the near-meltdown as soon as I picked up the phone.

“Make a list of everything you need to accomplish,” I coached. “Beside each item, write down how much time you think you will need to complete it…”

Sometimes all it takes is a plan. (And the chance to be a mom again.)

 

 

Wow. Just wow.

I wrote a novel and people are liking it.

I’m excited. Humbled. Grateful. And a bit taken-aback. And really proud.

A second book club read “Jaybird’s Song” and invited me to come to their meeting and chat. The experience was every bit as wonderful and fun as the first one. Turns out, I LOVE hearing readers’ questions and comments about my book. Playing this role… (“Playing” is a poignant choice of words because I do feel a bit like a fake, but I’m not going to change it because I think blogging is a lot about honesty. With just one book, I’m a novelist-wannabe but read some of the reviews I’m getting and you’ll see why I’m so excited. And a bit taken-aback.) Playing this role makes me feel like a real author and that’s a hat I want to wear permanently.

BookClub2

The ladies of this Dunwoody/Sandy Springs book club were engaging, funny, a bit familiar in cases, and they liked my book. They’d read thoroughly and thoughtfully and had lots of great comments and questions. Sharing my writing process and my thoughts of Josie and the rest of the story’s characters was so exciting for me. Writing is so personal and private, but now sharing these fictional characters that lived only in my head for so long with others is crazy fun and truly exhilarating.

More, I’m getting really awesome reviews.

Take a look.

Here are some of those that came in this week:

… A page turner and I finished it in a weekend! … Kathy is good and up and coming southern writer, the likes of Kaye Gibbons and Ellen Gilchrist ! Way to go, Kathy! It’s a well written, tightly woven, page turning story that takes us home and keeps us longing for more! I hope that you will write a sequel.

…Vivid characters brought me back to some of the forgotten nooks and crannies of growing up in the sixties and seventies, as the book goes back and forth between past and present. The author really tugged on my emotions with some of the anguishing secrets kept and relationships tested throughout the book. So much more than just a delightful fiction of families and friends and their hometown over time, there’s a few mysteries and shockers thrown in. It kept me on the edge of my beach chair!…
A great summer read. Very easy and quick. I spent a weekend at the beach reading it and it was perfect. I loved the southerness to it. Highly recommend it.
Truly enjoyed reading this! Set in Atlanta where I’m from made it fun for me to read, but the story itself was intriguing and well written. Both light hearted and thought provoking, this author has knocked it out of the park on her first time at bat! Looking forward to more, more more!

Bravo!! I could not put this book down! Great story line with interwoven characters! I hope you have another novel in your future!

See why I’m so humbled?

Thank you, friends and family and readers that are discovering my novel through your shares and recommendations and wonderful photos that you’re sharing reading “Jaybird’s Song.

Please know how grateful I am for your continued support. Indie publishing depends on exactly this and you are doing an awesome job helping me to push this novel out!

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

I like this hat.

The ladies of a Brookhaven book club read “Jaybird’s Song” thoroughly and thoughtfully and invited me to join them for discussion last night. They came with fabulous thoughts and questions and a slew of details that I had forgotten myself.

They were lovely, full of special touches for the evening, they liked my book and they made me feel like a true novelist. I like that hat. A lot.

Hostess Lynn Roberts, my wonderful high school friend and fellow drill teamer who I haven’t seen in much too long, suggested the book to her group a month or so ago and they bit.

We were mostly all the same age — about the same age as protaganist Josie — and so they had a lot of fun with memory jogging details about life in the ’60s from the story. Maureen even brought of list of things she’d forgotten all about (Petticoat Junction game, DippityDo, pink hair rollers…) and some show and tell items including a folded paper cootie catcher and a gum wrapper chain she’d saved since high school.

This was my first time discussing Jaybird’s Song with readers outside of my own circle and it was affirming and fun. They got my story. They liked my story. And they’ve offered to help out as beta readers for my next book and I’m going to take them up on it.

Thank you, ladies. You made my first visiting author experience perfectamoondo and I loved it.

pic2
Maureen brought a gum wrapper chain she’d had from high school — just like the one Tommy gave Josie when they broke up — and a cootie catcher just like the one Donnie brought to the dirt hill.
pic3
Lynn made chicken noodle casserole (just like Annie Jo made for Ansley–sans the pink food coloring), a salad made from all the things Annie Jo grew in her garden, and a strawberry cake with fresh strawberries in the center and red sprinkles all around just like the one Josie and Daisy made for dessert one night. She even brought out her Desert Rose dinnerware for the retro look-back occassion.
pic1
Seven new friends and Jaybird readers: Lynn, Maureen, Cathy, Kathy, Denise, Laura and Karen (who had to leave before the pic was taken)

A new story is spilling.

I’m three chapters in to what I hope will become my second novel and the adrenaline is pumping. This one involves two women friends that share a really big secret. There’s also a semi-eccentric, perfectly lovable older woman character. Subliminally, I think I’m not ready to let go of Annie Jo, so I’m resurrecting her in a new character — but this time she’s an amateur fortune teller named Millie, and she has some hilarious quirks that will be tons of fun to write.

As a new novelist, I’ve learned a couple of things:

  • I really love making things up. Fiction is really freeing. I never knew how fun — and addictive — it could be.
  • I’m a pantser. From the writer’s blogs I’ve been reading, there are pantsers and there are plotters. I’ve got a loose web of plot lines, but I tend to get there by the seat of my pants. Just sitting down at the keyboard to see where it takes me.
  • Your encouragement is everything. I had such a hard time gauging “Jaybird’s Song” before I got reader’s feedback that help me confirm, alter and push the story out. Since then, your fabulous reviews of my story have made me really, really want to try it again.

I’m up to 26 5-STAR reviews for Jaybird’s Song! 

5StarMemeBlown away! Outrageously humbled and so grateful. Thank you!

My first benchmark was to hit 25 reviews, as word in the blogs is that Amazon will take note and hopefully make some marketing effort toward suggesting the book to readers who buy books in the same genre. I’m there, PLUS!

Benchmark II is 50 reviews as then Amazon or another publisher could take interest in re-releasing it with a bigger push. If you’ve read “Jaybird’s Song,” I’d appreciate a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Be sure to log in to your Amazon account if you purchased online so it will show as a verified purchase.

And (TOP SECRET ADMISSION COMING:) I’ve mailed a copy to Reese Witherspoon. It was my friend Pattie Baker’s idea. Movie producer Reese loves stories with strong, colorful female characters and those of you who’v read it will agree that there lots of coolness, depth and fun between Josie, Beverly, Annie Jo, Ansley, Laura Liz, more.

Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to know that so many of you like my story. I love hearing from people with questions and comments. I would LOVE to talk about the book under any number of scenarios:

  • A Dunwoody book club is reading “Jaybird’s Song.” I’ll join them for a book discussion near the end of May and I’m SO excited. Would love to do more! Will travel!
  • Lets meet for coffee or lunch. Don’t have a book club? I’d still love to meet to talk about your questions.
  • Email or call— 404-680-9604. Feedback is so helpful, even if it isn’t 5-STAR feedback, I’d love to hear your thoughts. For example… I’m putting together a reader’s guide. What suggestions do you have for discussion?

I’m groovin’ on this novelist plan. Thanks for your jazz, too. Meanwhile, Millie’s calling…

Got my first book club gig.

A Dunwoody group is reading “Jaybird’s Song” as its May selection and I’ll be joining their discussion just before Memorial Day.

I have to say, I’m feeling pretty groovy with all this.

In fact —thoIMG_0517ugh unrelated to the release of my first novel and all the internal hoopla I’ve got over that — I’m feeling a renewed surge in my personal pledge to reintroduce the word ‘groovy’ back to the day-to-day vernacular. It’s a personal thing, but it is my contention that that there is often no other word that will do…

So, anyway, here are my April plans for promoting my story:

I’ll be back at Lemonade Days as part of the Dunwoody Authors’ Book Sale — a tent that will be located near the entrance to the Lemonade Days festival on April 22 and 23. There are about 17 Dunwoody area authors that will be a part of the event designed to bring attention to the many great books coming out from Dunwoody — and hopefully selling a few!

The following Sunday, April 30, the Dunwoody Preseration Trust will host these same authors at a book signing event from 2-4 pm on the grounds of the historic Donaldson Bannister home. We’ll be set up inside and outside the property’s recently restored barn. The event will also serve as an opportunity for citizens to see the property as it opens as a public Dunwoody park.

I also have an idea for some low-level distribution of the book via a social experiment I’m calling READ SNAP SHARE and I’ll get more specific about how that will work in a week or so.

I’ve always wanted to be an author and I’m feeling like one today! Can’t wait to join the ladies for their May discussion of “Jaybird’s Song!”

 

On writing. And public speaking.

The two aren’t mutually dependent.

One of the most common complaints of writers these days is that you have to be a great marketer as well as a great writer to get attention for your work.  And by nature, many writers are recluses who prefer holing up with their craft but never want to see the light of day when it comes to promoting it. And while many assume that’s the role of an agent or a Presentationpublisher, it doesn’t really happen that way unless you’re J.K. Rowling or John Grisham or Amy Tan.

And while I’m not a recluse, public speaking isn’t really something I can depend on. I can capture an audience of friends with a good yarn or two, but it’s hit-or-miss with the nerves when it’s something bigger.

Thankfully, last night’s audience was limited and friendly for my first-ever author event because I was nervous. And I bumbled. And I had friends there who came to support me who had to be cringing just a bit. And Tom was there. And Tom is really good in front of a crowd.

It wasn’t horrible, but compared to what I can do with a keyboard, thesaurus and the backspace, it wasn’t good either.

But now that it’s 3 am and I’m wide awake again, I have a stellar presentation, a spot-on delivery and mic drop answers to all the questions I was asked. Too bad it’s just me in our dark family room with nothing but this scenario playing out in my head and my finger tips speaking to an illuminating screen, because I’m killin’ it, folks.

But no regrets. Better luck next time. And of course, there’s always the famous words of Juan Pablo: “Eeees okay.”

Random thoughts about sheets

white ghost in front of a garage doorSo, I thought I’d figured this out, but maybe not…

Tom and I bought a king-sized bed about 3 years ago and I call it my continent. It’s lovely and spacious and cozy and often all mine since Tom sleeps only about 5 hours a night to my 8 or 9.

But it’s also almost exactly square, which becomes abundantly clear as soon as you go to change the sheets. Not quite square though, so it’s always a process determining what part of the fitted sheet is the side and which is the bottom and the top. I finally thought I’d figured out the mystery: put the tag at the bottom right when you’re facing the bed from the bottom and it will work every time.

Except it doesn’t always. I paid a small fortune (by TJ Maxx clearance aisle standards) for a new set of sheets after an unfortunate incident involving a nap and a wad of gum.

And the tag in the right bottom corner thing doesn’t work. The fitted sheet only fits if you put the tag in the bottom left corner completely blowing my hypothesis and the jubilent conclusion that was set to save me from frustration every sheet changing day from now until eternity.

So what is the secret, then? Is there a method to this madness?

And one more thing… these new sheets — more expensive than I normally buy — really need to be ironed and that’s just not going to happen in my world. Does anyone do that?

Things I’m doing when I’m not entering the HGTV Dream Home giveaway.

  • Selling Atlanta real estate.

Next, Tom and I will be listing a really adorable little condo in Roswell. We have two listings under contract, just closed on a great home for buyers Aubrey and Sharon,
and have aSONY DSC gorgeous master-on-main home with a pool in Dunwoody (see pic) we’re anxious to find a buyer for. And I’m super excited to be helping a family relocating from Colorado find a home next week. The crazy way we connected with them will make its own blog post, but I’ll save that for later.

  • Catching up on my favorite shows.

So I’m all caught up on “Nashville,” “This is Us” and “Scandal.” Jill taught me to record my favorites which has really cut down on my clicking around and frustra16388129_10209991790683709_8890768705843432686_ntion time. I feel like I can take on another short binge and new commitment. “Designated Survivor?” “The Crown?” Suggestions welcomed. BTW, did y’all realize that’s the real Toby from TIU at left? Love that show.

  • Googling around for creative ways to make my ears pop.

I’ve tried decongestants, gargling with hot salt water, gum and nose spray. Any more?

  • Blogging for biz.

I’ve taken on a small 5-6 hour a week job prepping blogs for corporate accounts via a company called BridgeCreative. It’s fun and I’m learning a lot of stuff about things I never knew about. Like meaningful use healthcare mandates and traffic light systems.

  • Staying true to my commitment to more games in ’17.

Birthday club comes over tonight and I’m thinking we’ll play Mexican Train or Left-Right-Center. Or both. Probably not ready for Code Names: I accidently bought the Adults Only version, so will probably save for weekend night or another crowd.

  • Patiently and calmly wondering who’s reading my new book and what they’re thinking.

Njaybird-frontcoverOT! So far, the only people that might be reading are those who downloaded it on Kindle. Those who ordered hard copies on the first day “Jaybird’s Song” was available this week will receive today. (Like me. I ordered two via Amazon because the bulk copies I ordered won’t come in until Feb. 21. I’m expecting to see it for the first time today myself).

But patiently and calmly: No way. I’m basically freaking out. Frankly, I’m feeling a little naked in front of the world right now. But, I am ETERNALLY grateful to those who are sharing word of my new novel. It’s the dream and only hope for us Indie authors that there will be some sort of groundswell of interest, but meanwhile my heart is beating out of my chest (could that be related to my clogged ears?) in anticipation of my first review.

See it here:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=kathy+Wilson+florence