I ran off into the wilds of Georgia yesterday with a friend — a day off. A day to revel in and catch up on our friendship, and a day to take off work, before the Labor Day weekend hit. My plan is to work through the weekend (with a few lovely family breaks) in order to finish a proposal I’ve started about the Lost Cause of the Confederacy… a story that’s confounding me when it comes to finding a way “in” to telling it.
So of course this lovely day-trip with my friend Marianne ended up delivering to me some research and insights, without my even looking for them. Isn’t that the way of asking for help with story? “You create your reality with your intentions.” I read that somewhere. And somehow, when we focus so intently on something, everything seems to be about that.
Or maybe, when you write out of your life, like I do, everything ends up being personal-narrative fodder for a story. Here is our trip to Molena, Georgia yesterday, and what we found on the way there and back.
Later I spied a Confederate Monument at the old courthouse in Newnan, Georgia:
…which is research for the book I want to write next, about the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. I’ve been taking photos of Confederate memorials for years now, and maybe soon I’ll be ready to write.
We drove past some of the filming locations for “The Walking Dead” as well, quite by accident, but it was fun to see:
… and it came to me as I drove home yesterday, that I write about the past, and those who came before us, in all their messy glory, whether it’s my childhood or the sixties or the Civil War… even yesterday’s “walking dead” locations held some story truth for me.
In my writing life, certainly, I walk among ghosts, hoping to tell their stories; stories that are so intertwined with mine that I can hardly separate them out, in the geography of the heart.
xoxo Debbie PeeEss: I’m doing two entries in a row for ANTHEM’s chapters next, days 15&16 — sorry to spam your inboxes. I’ll get back on track.
Well, it’s August, and we’ve made it as far as Ruby in Summer Reading, hahaha. Lord it has been a busy time. I’m declaring Summer Reading can go into fall and even winter — I won’t abandon it. I hope you stay tuned. In the meantime, there is this:
from the research trip and getaway I made last week to Maine, to Rachel Carson’s cabin by the sea. More on this soon. I’m juggling (delightedly, gratefully) a particularly rich time in my writing life right now. Here is just yesterday’s work: I finished researching niggling details and sent in final revisions, author’s note, acknowledgements, dedication, etc etc, to a picture book I’ve written about Rachel Carson that publishes next fall (Random House), art by the stupendously talented Daniel Miyares — all very exciting. I sent in a revision of the galley letter that will go in front of all KENT STATE galleys — which will be here very soon. That book publishes (Scholastic Press) in April 2020. Also exciting. We have an amazing cover for this book that I can’t wait to share when the time is right. I prepared for Scholastic’s sales conference in NYC next week, where I’ll be speaking about KENT STATE to sales reps from across the country. I’m scripting myself for this 5-8 minute talk, and selecting some slides. I spoke with my agent about illustrators for a picture book I’ve worked on for many years that may be sold soon. The editor in question wants to take it to acquisitions with an illustrator and vision in mind. Very exciting! So many books take me such a long time to figure out. I worked back-and-forth with Scholastic audio on listening to auditions and selecting a reader to be Molly for the audiobook of ANTHEM. Also very exciting! We’ve been bouncing this around for some time — we have decided on Norman, and we have our narrator, and we were trying to get Molly just right. I think yesterday we found her. I corresponded with my uber-talented and patient webmistress about moving A LONG LINE OF CAKES off its prominent “new book” position on my home page and moving ANTHEM into its place, and I set up a training time with her, so I can make these changes myself in time. I answered a backlog of email. When I showed up mid-afternoon to get my hair cut, here is what I heard: “Your hair is very emotional today!” hahahahaha. Yeah. It’s an emotional time. And so very busy. I know how lucky I am. I got mostly off the road late last year, which has given me the opportunity to write more and have days like I had yesterday, and like I hope to have more of going forward. I’ve been writing professionally for 35 years now, in one capacity or another, and working in this book business for a little over 20 years now, publishing books since 2001, and this is the first time I’ve had TIME stretching out ahead of me. Part of it is age, and stage, part of it is getting off the road, and part of it is finishing up major projects, like the Sixties Trilogy (which I sold in 2008) followed immediately by KENT STATE. It’s also the first time in 11 years I haven’t woken to a publishing deadline. Everything is turned in, finished. It’s luscious. I don’t want to give up that feeling! But I have work to do. So — what now? I have two proposals to write, both for big writing projects. I spoke with my agent this week about those. I have picture books to go back to. A bunch of other writing and home projects I’m eager to paddle around with, in what’s left of this summer. Also, there is housekeeping. I have a new website! Is it not GORGEOUS? Thank you, Cyndi Craven! We are still tweaking, and having fun with it, and I am ever grateful for such a professional looking site. I hadn’t updated my website design in 9 years, since COUNTDOWN was published. Ulp. Check out the BOOKS page, so lovely, and see how each book’s page (click on REVOLUTION for an example) now has excellent information for readers, teachers, librarians, parents, and more. I see this new website as a beautiful workhorse for me into this next part of my writing life. I’ll have to do a separate blog post about it at some point. I’m moving this Blogger blog to my WordPress website soon, just fyi. It’s already there, actually, and you can go sub there soon as well, although I won’t be completely away from Blogger for some time yet, so no worries if you want to hang out here on Blogger with me while we transition everything. My idea is to “own my own content” and eventually be off social media platforms and have everything about me at my website. I was off social media for four years, and it did me good. I’m trying to figure out a way to return that works for me. Hence, having all content in one place. More on that as we transition. In the meantime, I am once again (mostly against my will, hahaha) at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (you’ll find me here most often because I like the visual storytelling, and it feels less nekkid-making).
And I’m at Pinterest, never left Pinterest, as this is where I catalog resources for my work in progress, so it’s a work tool, it’s messy, but it’s process, and maybe useful to readers… it’s certainly useful to me, and I love this tool for that reason. And I’m here, once again, at the blog, and very happy about that. Thanks for hanging out with me. xoxo Debbie
MFA in Writing, Vermont College, I have taught teachers at Towson University (“Writing Techniques for Teachers,” ECED 422), and have taught in the MFA programs at Lesley University and Vermont College.
Pioneer of the Documentary Novel containing scrapbooks with primary source documents — photographs, song lyrics, newspaper clippings, etc., and opinionated biographies alongside the story/narrative, mixing fiction, non-fiction, and biography in one book/story in a trilogy about the 1960s. COUNTDOWN 1962; REVOLUTION 1964; and ANTHEM 1969 (to be published fall 2019)
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I’m a Southerner born in Mobile, Alabama, where I lived until I was five years old. My parents were Mississippi born and bred, and I spent most of my childhood summers there and grew up in Mississippi and all around the world as an Air Force dependent.
I’ve lived in:
Mobile, Alabama Jasper County, Mississippi Honolulu, Hawaii Washington, D.C. Prince Georges County, Maryland Charleston, South Carolina Clark Air Base, Philippines Northern Virginia Cherry Point, North Carolina Millington, Tennessee Frederick, Maryland Atlanta, Georgia
After living in the Washington, D.C. area (Frederick, MD) for 25 years, where I raised a family, I moved to Atlanta 14 years ago, and now live in a little house with a purple door in a little woods. I married musician/composer Jim Pearce 12 years ago. You can hear Jim profiled by Susan Stamberg at NPR right here.
Where to find me online:
I use Pinterest as a visual resource for my books. You’ll find primary source material for my books archived here, including playlists for COUNTDOWN and REVOLUTION.