Tag Archives: Jaybird’s Song

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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Seven new friends and Jaybird readers: Lynn, Maureen, Cathy, Kathy, Denise, Laura and Karen (who had to leave before the pic was taken)

So which one would you buy?

Much love to the loves-to-be-incognito artist Alice Moore for these designs.

jbcoversHere’s my latest update: “Jaybird’s Song” is in another round of edits — looking for those unclosed quote marks, missing words, typos and comma splices.

I attended the Broadleaf Writer’s Conference last weekend and learned quite a bit more about the publishing world, including more pros and cons between self-publishing vs. finding an agent and publisher for the book. I pitched the book to two agents at the conference and both have asked for pages, so now I guess I wait a little while to see if I get a positive response.

But the truth is, I’m really ready to let her fly, so I’m only going to give it another week or 10 days, I think. If neither responds by then, I’m going to make this happen on my own.

Here’s a little bit about the story; an early draft of what might be the back cover description:

Affectionately called “Jaybird” by the father she adores, Josie Flint’s idyllic childhood in 1960s Atlanta is defined by her role as the oldest of the three Flint sisters and crowned with the presence of her grandmother, Annie Jo— the maypole that centers the Flint family. 

Surrounding their world, however, is the turbulent South as Jim Crow laws come to an end. As Josie’s school desegregates and the country meanders through new ideas brought about by the Civil Rights movement, a personal tragedy shatters — and embarrasses — that perfect childhood.

Josie’s story is told from her early teenage years and 35 years later when her beloved grandmother dies. And when a long-kept secret unfolds for the Flint family, a new kind of heartache begins.

Would you read it based on that?

Which cover would you be most inclined to pick up?

 

Another novel idea.

unknownA Dream Team to focus on the story.

So, I put a beginning, middle and ending to my story, “Jaybird’s Song,” and liked it. But I found it really hard to sense whether or not my story was compelling, whether the “reveals” happened at the right times, if the storyline was predictable or just the opposite — too far fetched for a reader to guess the unfolding story to the point of frustration.

So, I put together my Dream Team: Six wonderful ladies who love to read, have tons of smarts and are fun to be around — Erin, Wendy, Melanie, Shelbe, Paige and Eleanor. I sent each of them the first 35 pages of the book with the assignment to read, and if they were up for the challenge, to join me for a 24-hour focus group at the LeMeridian Hotel on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

After the first 35 pages, all six commited to the rest. (Phew. How many books have I flung to the side because they didn’t capture me in the first few pages? I took that as a good sign.) I gave each a list of questions with a Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree type of scale and then asked specific questions about the first section. Once satisfied, I handed out the next 85 or 90 pages and sent them poolside, or to the hotel’s fabulous lobby with wonderful little reading niches. After sunning and some lunch, we met again in the hotel’s Analysis conference room (Perfect. A triangualar table and two giant walls of windows.) at 3 p.m. where I had each rate more questions and issues and we discussed the progression of the story to that point. Two more rounds of this and we finished the novel and discussions at 7:30 or so and we walked over to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. After that, we all retired to one of the lovely suites connected to the rooms I’d reserved and enjoyed a 4-hour chatfest with wine in our PJs.

Such fun and so helpful to me. The Dream Team validated the ‘was it compelling issue?,’ pointed out a couple of inconsistencies that I’d missed, marked some areas that needed work and confirmed that one component of the ending was just a little too far fetched and weird, and gave me lots of ideas to where I re-wrote it and am much happier.

I reviewed all of their notes and made re-writes in places throughout. Then I sent it to Wayne, my writing coach for a full read. Loved his ideas, too, and made more re-writes in more places. My sister read it last week and gave me a few spots for changes. And Tom got a personal read in audio by the author to and from our trip to Hilton Head last week. Reading it outloud pointed out still more areas I wanted to polish. Now it’s with yet another talented friend who will do a line-by-line read looking for missing words, missing quote marks, grammar issues, etc.

It’s almost ready for prime time and I’m so excited!

“Jaybird’s Song.” More to come…

How to write a novel in 3000 days or less

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1. Write the first sentence.

2. Erase the first sentence.

3. Write a chapter and convince yourself you’ll win a Pulitzer.

4. Re-read it and throw into trash.

5. Dig through the trash after it’s covered with greasy leftovers to think about it some more.

6. Think about it for a couple of years.

7. Resurrect the idea and drop all other commitments and interests.

8. Convince yourself that it’s total crap.

9. Give it a middle and ending and rewrite the beginning.

10. Send it into the universe.

I’m almost to #10!

Rockin’ the white tights.

I’m guessing you never thought the buttoned-to-the-neck shirt dress and white tights look could work, but here I am rockin’ it.

14195223_10154046686323752_3148448795429443969_oThis is some of the Danbury gang – photo sent to me by Julia Rodgers (and I’m guessing JuJu wasn’t even born yet when this pic was taken.)

It’s the Danbury gang that will recognize a few things when “Jaybird’s Song “comes out, but just some silly things — the dirt hill’s in there and so is our Bloody Tiger game, and Trudy (far left in the red) might recognize one other scene (Think: The time we got in big trouble for our paring knife creation.) I made the rest up, but see those woods right behind Johnny and Leah? That’s where some serious Bloody Tiger games happened.

Missing Brady Clark, he’s the one leaning against the tree. He was my favorite Bloody Tiger.

Good for the soul.

So I think this novel I’m promising is getting better every day.

Understand that I realize I sound outrageously puffy. There is a dark shadow lurking in the corner trying to remind me that I’m just one bad review away from a total crush, but for reasons I can not explain, I’m ignoring that creepy shadow and feeling really jazzed right now.

Editor Wayne’s suggestions were plentiful, but right on. I’ve rewritten a full chapter and am rethinking a number of points, escalating a character, and enhancing some dialogue here and there. And I’m really loving it.

Perhaps, it’s honesty. I’m digging deep and even though this is a made-up story (don’t try to find yourself in this story if you’ve known me a long time. I promise it’s fiction! 98% fiction.), I think baring your soul — even if it’s only to yourself — is healthy.

Invigorating. Revitalizing.

Frankly, I’m surprised to say that and to feel it, but it’s the aura of my moment and somehow that seems deserving of a blog post.

Dig deep and get bare my friends. It’s working for me.

 

Ann and Mary for the win!

Ann Stone and Mary Sellers were the first two to click FOLLOW at the bottom of my new blog and they win a copy of “Jaybird’s Song!” Yahoo… Hadn’t even thought to have a contest, but they are the perfect winners… classy ladies and wonderful friends — and I think they will like my book.

(BTW, I’m thinking about round trip prizes to Paris for the next 10 followers. Just thinking about it…)

A little about Jaybird: It’s the story of fictional Josie Flint and it’s told in two parts — in the mid ’60s when she’s a young teenager growing up in Atlanta and 35 years later when her beloved grandmother dies. There’s some family drama (natch), coming-of-age kind of fun, and it’s all shrouded with the turbulence of the Civil Rights movement in the background. I think it will make you laugh and cry a bit and I think readers will enjoy it.

So click FOLLOW. I think you’ll find it in the bottom right corner of the blog. (Subliminal message: Eiffel Tower) After years of avoiding it, I’ve realized that blogging is fun and I have a lot of things I want to share.

For example, updates on my book as we get closer to launch date, including the fun weekend-long focus group held a few weeks ago…. My girls J and J, no doubt, including our getaway last weekend… Real estate fun… Life with the Red Rabbit… General musings.

But no politics. And no bad words.

 

 

But I digress..

So on my very first blog attempt, I went down a rabbit hole to describe the game I played with all my neighborhood friends as a kid: Bloody Tiger.

But, in fact, my real news is that I’m a blogger now. Wait, that’s just a sidebar story.

The real news is that I’m a novelist now. Here’s the deets: Jaybird’s Song will come out by late September. A website is in the works. Wayne, my book editor and coach, is finishing his first full read and his feedback so far is really positive. The things that are the hardest to judge are 1. is the story compelling? 2. how did the ending work? 3. will readers like it?

Wayne will give me a full report next week with areas for rewrites, but so far he’s given me high marks for 1. 2. and 3.

I’ve even been speaking with a publicist and hopefully will be able to retain her services. Artist and friend Sharon Moore is working on the cover. It’s coming together folks! And yes, I’m really excited. Perhaps best evidenced by the fact that I’m learning to blog in the middle of the night because I’m too excited to sleep.

Done. Second blog this hour. Maybe this will be fun after all.

 

 

I feel like I’m pregnant and no one knows

I’ m about to give birth for the third time and while this one doesn’t compare to #1 or #2, I’m really excited.

I started this novel about 10 years ago. I just started writing. No plan. Just writing. I stopped and started a zillion times often with years in between. But Jaybird kept calling me back.

I think I knew the very first day that I would name her “Jaybird’s Song.” Jaybird is the nickname given to protaganist Josie Flint by her father (who she adores, by the way). Even though Josie is the oldest of three girls (like me), she’s not me.

But there are some who will recognize little pieces of this story, however, because there are little pieces that are true, though they are just jumping off points for a bunch of stuff I made up.

Bloody Tiger, however, is real. When I was growing up in suburban Atlanta, the neighborhood kids played it every night. It’s like tag, but “It” is the Bloody Tiger, who hides while everyone else closes their eyes. Then everyone comes looking and if the Bloody Tiger jumps out of hiding and tags you before you can get back to base, you’re the Bloody Tiger. It was intense.