my sister the author

April 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm 2 comments

My sister the author got a shout-out from well known syndicated columnist, Rheta Grimsley Johnson! If you, too, would like to be numbered amongst those who have read and bought my little sister’s fabulous books, FLATLANDS, and the sequel, MERCY, you really should visit and purchase your own copy. Afterall, y’all:  My little sister is sure to be ranked amongst famous southern authors, too!  It’s only a matter of time!


(…You can read Rheta’s column below: )

April 24, 2008

Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Solving the riddle of writing for yourself, others


Years ago, someone wise gave me a refrigerator magnet that quoted Winnie the Pooh: “This writing business, pencils and whatnot, overrated if you ask me.”

How many mornings, stuck for an idea or the words to execute it, have I looked at that magnet and agreed, thinking I should hie to the discount store and apply for a job that pays by the hour? Many.

But then one day, somehow, you get something written, and the payoff is huge. Not in money. As Pooh Bear might say, “Oh no, oh my.”

The payoff comes in getting to visit amazing libraries and bookstores, to sit in them as if you belonged, trying to sell what you’ve written.

I was, one Sunday, in the spanking new, high-tech-looking, bright-as-heaven Southaven, Miss., library. There were several of us writers, lined up at our tables, waiting for shoppers to recognize we’d written exactly what they need to read.

Beside me was the young staff of the local high school’s literary magazine, offering their innermost thoughts in rhyme for a reasonable $5 and learning the first lesson of book-signings: People who will fork over $20 for a hamburger and fries often balk at paying for a book.

The magazine, Melange, contained an original essay by the always-generous John Grisham, who grew up in Southaven. He writes about the year the high school was built, and his influential senior English teacher, Miss Frances McGuffey. She hit him with one of the most powerful weapons in the literary arsenal, John Steinbeck.

The student work is wonderful as well, with heart-wrenching poems, then whimsical, funny ones. I liked one by Amy McCrory called “Pants”

I don’t know how. I don’t know why/But there are pants upon my thigh/They should be higher, yes, I know,/But at least they’re not extremely low.

It reminded me of pantyhose. I bought their book.

And on my other side selling was Sheri Todd, who had illustrated a children’s book called “Little Bent Cedar.” I thought of the cedar tree across the branch that kissed the ground after the last awful ice storm in the hollow, and how it slowly, over the years, straightened up again.

I bought that book, too.

And on down the line there was a novelist, Susan Sims Moody, whose book called “Mercy” dealt with a dysfunctional Southern family, my favorite kind.

I bought her book.

And when there was a lull, as often happens at book-signings — some are one continuous lull — I popped into the library’s new used bookstore, Second-Hand Prose. There, for pennies, I bought “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” a Carson McCullers’ masterpiece that I’ve meant for some time now to re-read. And I chose a biography of Sylvia Plath, which I’ve never read. And I chose “The Mind of the South,” which I should have read.

When the signing was officially over, I stumbled to the parking lot carrying all my new books, plus the leftovers from my own box of books, wondering how anyone ever actually makes any money writing books.

On the long drive home I decided that solving the riddle of writing for yourself and yet for others is something only a few master. And some of those writers are dead before they know they have.

The rest of us should be happy just to hang around such heavenly places as bookstores and libraries, the walls stacked with words, original thoughts the inventory, cataloged like nuts and bolts in a hardware store.




Entry filed under: woooo-hooooo!.

wednesday morning woe is me much ado about nuthin’

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aprille  |  May 5, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Very cool! I own Flatlands, my mom got it for me, need to get Mercy next! :0)


  • 2. Belinda  |  April 28, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Just think, I’ll be able to say, “I knew her when…”


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