>Southern Wing and a Prayer Tour

>Coming to a (Southern) city near you soon… it’s the Southern Wing and a Prayer Tour, starring author/radio show hosts, River Jordan and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson.

Why am I promoting this book/radio show tour?

River and Shellie are my friends. And good Southern authors. And lots of fun.

And… I’m hosting their show IN MY HOME at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday night, March 31! If you’re in the Memphis area, I hope you can drop in. River and Shellie will be interviewing readers to get their spin on the state of books… the publishing industry in general, and anything else that comes up at a “Southern parlor talk.” (Yes, there will be food. It’s the South, remember?) Email me for directions to my house: sjcushman at g mail dot com.

If you haven’t read their books, drop by your local independent bookseller TODAY and grab a copy of River’s latest novel, “Saints in Limbo,” and Shellie’s hilarious book, “Suck Your Stomach in and Put Some Color On.”

I’m posting from Amavida Coffee in Seaside, Florida, where it’s pouring down rain today. This morning Daphne and I spent a relaxing couple of hours at Coyote Seagrove, where we had breakfast and downloaded photos. After a great day at the beach yesterday…

We enjoyed a lovely evening in Seaside last night, complete with an outdoor concert starring Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, a great band from New Orleans.

I’ve posted lots of pics on Facebook, so I won’t fill up my blog with too many here, but there are a few at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, I wanted to take a minute to share my “beach reads” and “beach book buys” with everyone.

At Sundog Books on Tuesday, I bought three books: “The Women” by T.C. Boyle (inspired by the architecture here in Seaside)….

“Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life,”
by Frances Mayes, intrigued me because of my upcoming trip to Italy (in October) with my husband. And because Frances Mayes is a great writer. Can’t wait to dive into it!

“Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food and Healing in Italy,” by Paula Butturini, called out to me with its title. My husband and I will be celebrating 40 years of marriage on July 13, 2010, and that’s what our Italy trip is all about. If I don’t read this before we go, it might be my airplane read!

But what have I been reading on the beach so far? Elizabeth Spencer’s The Southern Woman has been my favorite. I met Elizabeth, and heard her speak, at the 2009 Conference on Southern Literature in Chattanooga last April. Her most famous work is “A Light in the Piazza,” which was made into a Broadway play. But I also loved her short piece in this collection, “Cousins,” which also takes place in Italy. Her writing is timeless—good literary fiction. I’m intrigued with her because of our shared roots: We’re both from Mississippi, and she was interviewed by my first cousin, John Griffin Jones, for his anthology, “Mississippi Writers Talking,” back in 1981.

I’ve also been reading/studying Margaret Love-Denman’s book, “Novel Ideas,” which I got when I participated in her writing workshop during the Oxford Conference for the Book a few weeks ago.

I love what Margaret says about “plumbing the depths of your soul” to find your writing. She often quotes Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina), as she does here:

“The best fiction comes from the place where terror hides, the edge of our worst stuff. I believe, absolutely, that if you do not break out in that sweat of fear when you write, then you have not gone far enough.”

I’ve been struggling with my creative nonfiction writing lately… wondering if I’m willing to publish my memoir once I finish writing and revising it. I’m considering turning to fiction (again) instead, and Margaret’s words here are helpful:

“To reshape real experiences for fiction, you may combine memories, break them up to use bits and pieces throughout the novel, or take one small kernel of memory and spin it into a completely imagined world.”

Don’t’ know if I’m up to the task, but it’s intriguing.

So I’ll close with a few parting shots at Seagrove and Seaside… enjoy!

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