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Look at the BOOK

LOOK: Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale is a cover girl!

Look at the book this New Jersey book club group is holding for a local magazine story entitled "Top Shelf" about Good Summer Reads. They'd already chosen it for their book club before a local indie bookstore added it to the picks offered for the article, which is terrific.

THANKS, "Kindles & Cocktails" book club! Our Skype was fun.  Read More 
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What if Antiques Could Talk?

I’ve come to believe writers don’t have ideas, ideas have writers. And the one that inspired my novel Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale occurred to me so long ago, it had to bide its time until I figured out what it wanted to say to me. You see, years ago, my mom, who still lived in our old two-story house full-to-busting with stuff that five kids left behind, began having garage sales. I found this out, living thousands of miles away by that time, when she called to tell me she’d sold, for a dime apiece, my long-forgotten stash of comic books yellowing in the back of one of her closets (My dad owned a drugstore; I had hundreds).

“Do you want the money? “ she asked.

“No, Mom, that’s ok,” I said, “keep it.”

But I felt suddenly, inexplicably sad. I remember laughing at myself, surprised by my feelings. Why was I so attached to those old things? Heaving a nostalgic sigh, I shrugged it off. Then, not a month after that, I heard the first Superman comic book sold for a million dollars, and I knew exactly what I was feeling: shock. And awe. And sadness that I didn’t own that comic book.

I was already watching PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” series with the rest of the world, mesmerized by the spotlight sections–the “omigod” stories in which, garage-sale finds were treasures unaware. Or the stories revealing that Granny’s chamber pot, say, was worth a fortune, the grown grandchild admitting to using it as an ashtray, and the fun speculation of whether the family keepsake gets kept or sold. I began to think not just of an object’s value, but its history, its provenance—its own “life story” often consisting of dozens of lost human life stories. How objects live on after their owners vanish with the memories that made the objects valuable, and how poignant that was in such a human way.

And that’s when the ah-ha bolt of inspirational lightning struck. What if our antiques could talk? I glanced at my granny’s antique bookcase in my office.

“Hey,” I asked it, “what would you say?”

My spouse and my dog both looked at me askance, but since this sort of behavior from me was not all that unusual, they let it pass, although I think they both secretly paused to see if I got an answer. Later, I learned the bookshelf was not really my grandmother’s; it was my great-grandfather’s, a sheriff in the little Texas town in which my family lived for a century. And then I really wanted the bookcase to talk. Alas, it kept mum. But that long-ago garage sale idea gave me a poke: Garage Sales + Antiques = Hmmm. Are we possessed by our possessions? Or are we possessed by our memories of them? Or both? Glancing at my granny’s bookshelf, I realized it does talk to me in it own way, as all our most precious possessions do. Don’t they?

(***Guest Post on SheReads.org where Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale is this month's selection. CLICK HERE to read more and enter for a giveaway during May.  Read More 
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Blue Willow Bookshop Event-Houston

FUN, fun, fun at Blue Willow Bookshop event, especially with Valerie's Garage Sale Rum Punch.

Thanks to everybody who came out!

Here's a link to Blue Willow Bookshop, a great and successful independent bookstore in the Houston area:

Blue Willow Bookshop May Event
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Book Launch Event!

Book Launch Event at BookPeople Bookstore, Austin

April 30, 2012

We had a great time. Champagne, munchies, literary chit-chat and a nice crowd. Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale was #3 on Bookpeople's April Bestsellers List.

Wish you were there!
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Book Launch Party SNAPSHOT

Snapshot of the BookPeople Book Launch FUN!

Here's a link to BookPeople, Austin's incredible independent bookstore:

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Another Book Launch SNAPSHOT

Another snapshot of the BookPeople Book Launch FUN!

Former Writers League of Texas' director Cyndi Hughes and I as we wax deeply literary during her interview of me at our BookPeople Book Launch Party.
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Of 1st Lit Loves: Nancy Drew, Harper Lee, and the "Easy" Faulkner

When I was a kid, the only time I wasn’t trying to break my little tomboy neck every single day was when I was reading, which was also every single day: I devoured Superman comic books from my Dad’s drugstore and all the Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mysteries at my small town’s Carnegie Public Library. And they led me to "The Phantom Tollbooth," "Tom Sawyer," "A Wrinkle in Time," then "To Kill a Mockingbird" and beyond. But I wasn’t one of those kids that cherished one book; I cherished them all. It was the fact of reading, the new worlds I entered every day that mattered.

I read my way to a B.A. in American Literature, where my required reading was the classic Southern literature that would haunt my style and story-telling psyche when I began my own writing: Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the stories of Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, the “easy” William Faulkner such as “As I Lay Dying,” and the “hard” Faulkner, like “Sound and the Fury,” which I hated as a reader/later appreciated as a teacher/and much later surprisingly loved as a writer. These are in my ear and in my voice. I love them still.

And what of favorite books by modern writers? The touchstones on my own modern writing journey? There’s Pat Conroy’s "The Water is Wide" and Marilynne Robinson’s "Housekeeping" for language, Lee Smith’s "Oral History" for voice, and Larry McMurtry’s "Lonesome Dove" for sense of place, Amy Hempel’s "At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom" for brevity, and Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" for fearlessness. They keep reminding me what can be done with words. But my literary first love were those empowered kids’ series that made me first love the imaginary world of words as much as the real one.

(**written for "Literary First Loves" column SheReads.org Online Book Club. For more including a GIVEAWAY of Texas goodies as well as a signed copy of the novel, CLICK HERE)  Read More 
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