There I was sitting on a plane in Minnesota when this little spit of a girl up and asked her mama, “Who’s been naughty?” We’d been on the runway for an hour. Strong winds had shut down all but one runway. They were using that runway for take offs and landings. I guess the kid thought the plane was in a time-out and she was demanding to know who was at fault.
I bring that up because I’ve been the naughty person. My apologies for being so tardy in the blogging. I went on this last road trip without my laptop. I did it purposely because the laptop is on its last byte. It looks more like a contraption that Gilligan might have rigged than a laptop. Yes. I am going to replace it. One. Of. These. Days.
I just hate doing that though. It’s like tossing away a favorite bra. Good ones are so hard to come by and new ones so difficult to break in. I’ll hang onto a good bra beyond the threadbare stage. Which reminds me of a story I heard at the Canton Literary Festival that was so funny but I’m going to save it for another post that I’ll make soon, promise.
I’m going to blog this trip backwards. I know that won’t surprise you. You’re used to me doing everything in a haphazard fashion. Last night on my way home from Seattle I swung down to Corvallis to visit with Connie. She thanks you all for your prayers. I wish you could see her smiling face. Beautiful. Just know that God’s faithfulness is evident and that your prayers are not returning void. In typical Connie fashion she gave me a gift, a bag full of carved redbirds and a wonderful card that plays that tune “Thank you for being my friend.”
Enroute to Seattle I made a quick trip to Grand Rapids, MI to visit the wonderful Z-team for a planning meeting for the next book. Books are collaborative works. Behind every good book are a whole slew of folks. These are some of my team members. I didn’t get photos of everyone but here are a few key players.
Jessica Secord, that darling gal above handing me the plate, is actually a PR pistol. And since she didn’t tell me I couldn’t tell you, you should know that Jessica is having TWINS!!! I am so excited seeing how I’m the twin-mom expert. I feel like I’m going to be a grandmother. In fact, I offered to take the twins on book tour next year. One on each hip and a book under my chin. Can’t you see it? A perfect visual for the Double-Wide book. Jessica is going to get sick of me telling her twin-mom stories so if you see her rolling her eyes you’ll understand. Shelby, Ashley, you all feel free to send me advice to pass along to Jessica, since you two had to help raise me.
The first thing I want to get Jessica is a good night’s sleep. She’s going to need it in the year to come.
Next to Jessica is Tom Dean. Tom’s a runner who doesn’t normally indulge in morning pastries but made an exception for my visit. (thank you for your sacrifice, Tom). He is also the Marketing Guru for Double-Wide. His umbilical stretches all the way back to Alabama, so we have that whole your-kin-is-my-kin connection.
I was driving through Atlanta pondering what gift I ought to take to my friends in Grand Rapids when an armadillo ran across Jimmy Carter (the roadway not the person), and I knew in that instant what gift I ought to carry to Z-town. No. Not road kill. Sister Schubert rolls! I’d been telling my editor about these rolls for the past year and how Sister ultimately made millions from the rolls she sold as a fundraiser for the church. So I swung into the nearest Publix and grabbed up a sackful and carried them from Atlanta to Grand Rapids and dear sweet Becky, the gal who cleans up after my sloppy copy, warmed the rolls for our meeting.
Obvioulsy, Andy, my beloved editor, is so tall and lean he can eat all the Sister Schubert rolls his belly desires. I first heard of Sister Schubert at a book club luncheon sponsored by Stacey Howell of Fairhope, Ala. We were eating lunch when one of the women commented that the only thing her college-age daughter wanted her to cook when she came home for visits were Sister’s rolls. All the women at the luncheon burst into laughter and I had no idea why. I didn’t know that you could buy Sister’s rolls and just heat them up. BTW: Sister is not really a nun. That’s just her southern nickname.
One of the most important functions of this trip to Grand Rapids was meeting Dudley Delffs. (In typical southern boy fashion, Dudley maintains his focused attention on the food at hand). Dudley came to Z-town from Waterbrook, but his blood runs orange. UT/Vols orange to be exact. If you were to do a study, I bet that 9 out of every 10 babies given the name Dudley has a connection to Tennessee. My own mother, Shelby, was named for a Nashville singer (that the singer was a man did not dissuade Granny Ruth, who had given birth to five boys before Mama came along). What I loved most about Dudley is that the night before, when we all went out for a dinner, Dudley picked me up in a rig. (That’s redneck for pickup truck.) I’m happy to report that he did not have a shotgun rack in the rig, nor antlers on the hood. I once had a New York business associate say to me, “I don’t get this whole southern thing you’ve got going on.” They were urging me to write in a more generic voice. I love that the folks at Z-town understand you can take the girl out of the south but you can’t take the twang out of the girl.
So here’s the obligatory group shot: Intern Jared, Andy, Becky, Prissy, Dudley, Jessica & Tom.
Every House worth their merit has folks who represent the heart of the business. Joyce and Caryn help keep things pumping smoothly. Joyce handles author care. She got me from and to the airport and hotel and chatted with me about wedding nuptials. Her daughter is getting married in two weeks. So we swapped mother-of-the-bride tales. Caryn wants you all to know she doesn’t normally dress this way but wouldn’t you know it? I was visiting Z-town on NASCAR day. For $5 you got a NASCAR pin and the right to wear jeans. (If only I’d known in advance I would’ve paid the fee for the right to wear my Daisy Dukes. Thankfully for everyone involved I didn’t know).
Less you doubt the seriousness of the connection between a Christian publisher and NASCAR fans, meet Melissa. She’s the woman who keeps Dudley and Andy from totally trashing the joint by throwing things over the cubicle walls. Melissa is the kind of gal who’s not afraid to roll up her sleeve and reveal her NASCAR loyalty. Yes. That is a tattoo. An official NASCAR tattoo.
Let me say this folks. Christian Publishing is not your Aunt Gertie and a felt character board any more.
Before I left they handed me a bag that Andy had personally stocked with a gift just for me — a book on Sarah Palin. I plan to mail it back to Melissa so she can whop Andy upside the head with it one of these days.
After we landed in Seattle the little girl’s brother stood up in his seat. When his mama asked him what he was doing he replied, “I’m loving on my mama and daddy.”
Everyone around the little boy laughed.
That’s exactly how I felt when I left Z-town. All that shared laughter made me feel like somebody had been loving on me.
Go share a laugh and love on someone else today.