I need more bookshelves. Mine are all full and now I have stacks of books beginning to crop up everywhere. My next house will have floor-to-ceiling book shelves in at least one room! But for now, I need to become a speed-reader so I can enjoy all my new treasures.
It was such a joy to meet so many wonderful new authors at the 10th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas, last weekend. You can read my guest blog about the weekend over at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Here are a few of the treasures (all autographed, of course) I came home with.
Of course I had already reviewed River Jordan’s latest book, Saints in Limbo, last May. In addition to having three published books and another on the way, River has a great radio show that you can listen to online, here. River and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson are taking their books and radio shows on the road this spring with their "A Wing and a Prayer" tour. They'll be interviewing independent book store owners about the future of publishing. It was such a treat to ride with River to Jefferson for the weekend, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again next Tuesday in Nashville for "Author's Lunch."
I felt like I already “knew” Shellie Rushing Tomlinson before I actually met her, since I read her blog and listen to her radio show each week. But I didn’t have her book until the weekend. I love the title: Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On. (If you grew up in the South I’m sure you heard your mother say this more than once!)
Having already read many of Elizabeth Berg’s books before the weekend, I found one I hadn’t read and snatched it up: Home Safe, which was published last April. It’s about “the nature of creativity, the mother/daughter relationship, and the surprising places where one can find love and meaning.” Can’t wait!
One of my favorite new author friends is Nicole Seitz. Her books are an eclectic mix of spirituality and regional culture woven together with literary prose that sings. I came home with Saving Cicadas, which I’m reading now and loving. A friend had recently loaned me The Spirit of Sweetgrass, but it wasn’t near the top of my “to read” stack until I met Nicole. After talking with Nicole about her books I decided that the one I most wanted to read is Trouble the Water, so I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived yesterday. I feel like I’ve just scored a literary hat trick! Nicole is also an artist and did the beautiful covers for these books. At the Girlfriend Weekend, I bid on a package of her note cards in the silent auction and was so happy to bring them home.
Another favorite new author I met was Jenny Gardiner. I bought her book, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver. If it’s half as funny and alive as Jenny is in person, I know I’ll love it and laugh all the way through it.
Jamie Ford gave a terrific keynote talk at the weekend, which made me want to read his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which is a New York Times Best Seller.
Lauretta Hannon’s memoir, The Cracker Queen,is a favorite on NPR.
Patti Callahan Henry is the author of six published books including her latest, Driftwood Summer.
Ad Hudler was a joy to be with, and held his own at Girlfriend Weekend with his real life tales of being “Mr. Mom.” His wife is a newspaper publisher and they’ve recently moved to Nashville. He has turned his experiences at home with the kids into several books, including Man of the House.
Tracey Lea Carnes and I hit it off right away with our shared love of bohemian clothes. Her first novel is Excess Baggage. If it’s anything like her personality, it will light up your life!
I loved visiting with Kerry Madden, and hearing about her new YA biography, Harper Lee (Up Close). Kerry was also gracious with her time, sharing her story and encouraging me with ideas for future books of my own. Thanks, Kerry!
And last summer I read Ron Hall's terrific memoir, Same Kind of Different As Me, but I was blown away by Ron's luncheon speech on Friday. He has raised over $41 million for the homeless and is building shelters and doing incredible work all over the country. He's got a second book out now, What Difference Do It Make?
Of course organizer Kathy Louise Patrick's book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing Book-Reading Guide to Life, started the whole movement.
And Kathy's co-master-of-ceremonies, Robert Leleux's book, Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, hit the bookstores two years ago.
This doesn't cover all the authors I met last weekend, but it’s a starting point, if you or your book club are looking for more books for the new year. I'm hitting the road to visit my mother in Jackson and then join my writing group buddies in the Yoknapatawpha Writing Group in Oxford tomorrow. (We've been getting together for almost two and a half years now.) Have a great weekend, everyone... and have fun shopping at your local independent bookstores!