Monday, June 25, 2012

The Gift That Just Keeps on Giving


This story begins nine years ago - February 2003 to be exact. My beautiful daughter and firstborn had just been accepted to the University of South Carolina, which is wonderful, right? 

Except I live in Alexandria, Virginia. 
Almost 7 hours away from Columbia, South Carolina.

So what is a proud, but sad, panicky mother to do?
Plan for a new baby, of course.

I told my husband we were going to have a new addition and immediately started my research. 
It would have to be a girl. Yes, another girl.
And she would need to be small.  And she couldn't shed because my husband suffers from at-times debilitating allergies.


After crossing out multiple candidates, I decided on a miniature schnauzer. I answered an ad in the Washington Post.

"We don't have any puppies now, but we're expecting some around the middle of June," the lady from the kennel informed me.

Sure enough, June 11th the call came. A litter had been born about 3:00 that morning but there was a problem.

"They're white," she said, as if that meant something to me. 

"It's a genetic defect," the lady explained to this amateur. "You can register them through the American Kennel Club, but you'll never be able to show her."

I didn't care. When could I see her?

Three weeks later I begged Jay to take me to Hollywood, Maryland to see the litter and pick out the one I wanted. 

Naturally, with all that planning and the months and weeks of anticipation, I was as giddy as any new mom would be.
 I had even decided on a name.
Violet.

When we got there I saw 6 of the tiniest, most darling little white puff balls I'd ever seen in my life!

"There were only 2 girls." the breeder - a young blonde woman who was much prettier than what her gruff phone voice had lead me to imagine - gently put one of the little girls in the palm of Jay's hand and the other in mine. 

I held mine close to my heart as it continued to sleep. I softly rubbed the wiggly little pup that Jay was holding. Quicker than a wink her little mouth grabbed onto my thumb and instinctively began to suck. 
I started to cry - this was my girl. 
This sweet baby would be Rachael's replacement.

Three weeks later we came back to pick her up - on my birthday, July 30th, to be exact.

Three weeks later I held her tight as we drove that lonely stretch of highway that lead from South Carolina back home to Virginia.
That car seemed so empty and my heart was heavy but I didn't shed one tear.
Yes, I'd just left my 18 year old daughter to the wolves, but I knew she'd be okay.
Violet needed me - and she would never, ever leave me to go to college or get married.

Jump start to the same time next year.
 My birthday.
Instead of a party and presents, Violet had her first trip to the hospital. Pancreatitis. A characteristic of her breed, unfortunately

Every three years like clockwork, she would spend about 3 nights in the hospital, and we would spend several hundred in vet bills. No birthday presents for me - but she's worth it!

In about 5 weeks I'll be 50. 
I'm so looking forward to it!
I was JUST getting up my nerve to ask for THIS:



I WANT THIS BAG!!!!
I have wanted it for YEARS and I thought for sure I'd get one since this is SUCH a milestone birthday.

But. 
A few days ago Miss Priss got sick. So sick that she lost 5 pounds overnight. Five pounds that a dog her size can not afford to lose.

Poor Violet was so sick that we weren't sure if she was going to pull through.

It wasn't just pancreatitis this time. 
She is also diabetic and will need insulin shots for the rest of her life.....as well as a special diet.

The look on Jay's face when we got the bill?
Let's just say I wouldn't even DREAM of asking for that Louis Vuitton bag now.

but that's okay....



Because when I held this baby in my arms again I could only think one thing:

Louis who?

Friday, June 22, 2012

So here's what I've been doing....

I have been busy studying for my test for which I hinted about in my last post. 
Fun!

And I've also been filling out paper work to have my 'record' expunged. 
Not fun.

Now before you judge me and stomp off  with a 'harumph' because you assume I'm some hardened criminal, you need to read my first novel, 'False Victim'  - and yes this is most definitely me taking an opportunity to make a selfish plug for my book - or at least one of them. 
Aw heck, while I'm at it, I'll go ahead and plug 'The Hillbilly Debutante Cafe' too. If you haven't read either one, then I suggest you start with FV first, then go The HD Cafe
Trust me. 
After 'False Victim' you'll need a laugh.

But I digress. 

 Anyway, after I filled out the paperwork I then went to the sheriff's office and got 'fingerprinted'. 
My court date is July 20th.
Huge celebration to follow!

July is almost here!
 I just realized it's the 16-year-anniversary of being crowned
 Mrs. Missouri 
and I thought it would be fun to post some pictures of that. 

 July also marks the 50th year of my birth.
 While most women fuss about getting older I have to be perfectly honest and tell you that 
I LOVE it!
But that's for another time....

Do you twitter? 
If so, then you can follow me at 
@ktruitt.

Facebook?
Of course you do! 
Everybody 'facebooks.'
I'm...what else?.....
'Hillbilly Debutante'

How's YOUR summer going?

Please leave a comment and tell me all about it.

Til next time,

Kathie











Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's time to do what I came to town to do....

I love to write. I live to write. I may be an 'accidental author' but writing is second nature to me and has been since I was in second grade.
However. 
I always joke that when hubby came home and told me he'd been promoted to his Washington, D.C. office that he had to drag me kicking and screaming.
But truth be known, I was excited. You see, I had my own agenda, my own dreams, one great big goal and I had it planned out to the millisecond.
 Rachael had two more years of high school and William was starting first grade. I decided when he entered 5th grade that I would make my move.
However, if you're a regular reader you know that I got a little um....sidetracked.
(If you're not a regular, then go up to 'books' and click on "False Victim". That's our story.)

Well, William is now way past 5th grade, and it's time to put my original plan in motion.

I have always wanted to do this.

I have an associates degree with an emphasis on this, however I've   practiced and known this my entire life and have even consulted in  several aspects.

There is one part I'm a little weak on so I am taking an intense class at the end of the month to brush up. After then, I'll let you know exactly what 'this' is.

I'll still write. I can't imagine never blogging or writing books. But I have waited so long for this and at the end of my life I want no regrets. So here goes. Deep breath.

Luckily, with the success of "False Victim" (much thanks to YOU!) and having such fabulous publicists I don't have to travel as much with "The Hillbilly Debutante Cafe". Besides, most of my travel is on the weekends anyway, which brings to mind!

Kathie Truitt Book Signing
Saturday, June 16th
Kokopelli
149 Main Street
Annapolis, MD
1-4pm

Hope to see you all there!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Welcome to My Crazy Life


Travel.
Writing "The Hillbilly Debutante Cafe" sequel.
Family business.
Reading your blogs. 
Yes, I read every word of every one of your blogs.
I may not always comment, but I love keeping up with you; seeing what is going on in your lives. 
It warms my heart. 
All of you are very special to me.
Very. 
I have so much on my mind right now. So much I want to touch on.
But it will have to wait.
Until then, here is my life in pictures.



Sophia and Uncle William. Oh how she loves him. And the feeling is mutual. He lights up when she's around.


Branson, Missouri Book Tour


I hosted a tea for Sophia and her mama a few months ago. This picture is etched in my memory forever.



Attending a political event


Sophia twirling


I was honored to be a special guest, along with Washington Ballet's Aaron Jackson at an 
"Innocence at Risk" benefit at Arena Stage.


Listening to Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan (Mexican Ambassador's wife) speak at a luncheon at the Mexican Embassy.

I'll be back soon - 

Kathie



Monday, June 4, 2012

Today I crown Miss Missouri....

Hillbilly Debutante of the Week!


I've known Sydney since before she was born. It's been so much fun to watch her grow into a beautiful woman and chase her dreams.

This is her last week as Miss Missouri.

Congratulations Sydney on a job well done. 

It will be so much fun to see what you does next.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about me but was (were?...where's my editor when I need her?) afraid to ask....


One on One with novelist (and Hillbilly Debutante) Kathie Truitt

by NANCY on JUNE 1, 2012
Kathie Truitt may have been living in the Washington, D.C. area for the past 11 years, but she has never cut the ties that connect her to her hometown of El Dorado Springs, Missouri. And with her latest novel, The Hillbilly Debutante Café  (Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC), she has strengthened that connection since she set the book in the same small Ozark town where she grew up and first put a pen to paper.
Her first book, False Victim, was inspired by a stalking experience she and her family suffered after they moved to Washington, and further illustrates the relationship between her life and her writing. (For more information, visit her website at Hillbilly Debutante.)

Kathie Truitt
Tell us a little about yourself. What type of writing do you do? If you do more than one kind, what type is your favorite?
My name is Kathie Truitt aka Hillbilly Debutante. I’ve been called that since I moved from the Ozarks to the Washington DC area 11 years ago. I don’t quite recall all the details but it was at a formal event and a man admired my dress. We got to talking and he made a comment on my “slight accent” and asked where I was from. He called me a “hillbilly debutante” and the name just stuck and when I started my blog, it was the obvious choice for a name.
Blogging is my favorite style of writing. It’s totally free and completely liberating. It’s all mine. No editor, no publisher – just me and my readers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love being a novelist too, but it’s hard to sit still for long periods of time.
How long have you been writing? When did you start? What was your “writer dream”—your goal— when you began to write? Has it changed over the years? What is your “writer dream” now?
I’ve been writing since I was capable of putting together legible sentences. My grandmother, knowing that I liked to practice my penmanship, would keep me stocked with pencils and Big Chief tablets and have me write stories for her. She kept every single one.
My dream has always been to write a book and since I’m in the outline stage of my third novel, and I have a blog with several hundred readers per day, it’s safe to say I’m living that dream!
When did you first know that you were a writer?
6th grade! My teacher would openly brag about my creative writing assignments and even had me produce one of my stories into a play and produce it for the class.
Who are three of your favorite authors and why?
Rita Mae Brown is an awesome novelist. Her ‘Sneaky Pie Brown’ series had me mapquesting how far Crozet, Virginia (where the stories take place) was from my Northern Virginia home. I actually got in the car that very day and drove there.
I love Fannie Flagg because she is such a wonderful storyteller. Her writing style makes me feel like I have a personal relationship with each character. I’m always so sad when I get to the end because I never want the story to be over.
And last but not least, I have to say Civil War novelist Nancy Dane. While her books are fictionalized accounts of the War Between the States, it’s obvious she does tons of research to add a lot of factual events to build the plot around. I always learn something new and she is such a breath of fresh air from the cliché romantic, plantation, southern-belle-hooped skirt Civil War novels. Plus, she’s a good friend and she always gives the best advice.
On average, how much time do you spend writing a day? Do you have a schedule that you keep?
Writing is a full-time career for me. While I think I do my best and most creative work at night, I really don’t have what could be called a “set schedule”. What I do is keep my computer on all day and leave it set up on my kitchen counter so I can write in between phone calls and meetings. If I was to add it up, I probably write about three hours a day. Just not three straight hours.

Kathie Truitt
Your blog is called “Hillbilly Debutante: Musings of a Country Girl Stuck in the City.” Is that how you see yourself — still just an Ozark girl?
Absolutely! While I think I’ve adjusted very nicely to city life, I can’t tell you how much I miss riding horses, listening to the crickets and whippoorwills at night and running in wide, open spaces.
Where do you do most of your writing?
In the family den in my red/beige chair surrounded my family! Yes, I can write in the middle of all that chaos. As a matter-of-fact, I wrote three-fourths of The Hillbilly Debutante Café during NFL season.
What stimulates your creativity or serves as a writing inspiration? Conversely, what creates a major writer’s block for you?
I seem to get my best ideas during my evening walks. I’ve been known to use my cell to call home and leave ideas on my answering machine so I won’t forget them. And what creates major writer’s block for me? Easy! Editing! I have been known to cry myself to sleep during editing!
Do you have any writing totems? Superstitions? Routines? Things you do or have to have around you when you begin your writing process?
Nope. All I need is my laptop and a Diet Coke and I’m good to go.
Do you keep a journal?
I tried to keep a diary for about a month and I gave it up. Everything I’d write sounded so corny and so I ended up throwing it away after a while.
When your life gets too hectic, what do you do and where do you go for some quiet country time to recharge your writing batteries?
I really don’t get to do that as often as I like, so I just do what I think is the next best thing – hop on my pink and white vintage bike and ride through my neighborhood and enjoy the breeze blowing through my hair.
How long did it take you to write your first book? Was it easier or harder than you expected?
It took a little over a year to write my first book and it was excruciatingly painful. False Victim was based on the true story of what happened to me and my family when we first moved to the Washington D.C. area. Some days I would sit down at the computer at 7:30 am and not get up ‘til one the next morning and only have written a sentence. It was terrible.
Did you have an agent at the time? If so, how long did it take you to find one? How many agents and publishers did you approach? If you self-published, what were some of the challenges of going that route?
I had sent my manuscript to a retired agent and she liked it but at the same time I was also talking with several authors that had used an agent and had big publishers and I knew this wasn’t the route for me. But on the other hand, I knew that I didn’t want to self-publish either. So I did more research and found a publisher that would accept manuscripts without having an agent and sent it off. Weeks later they offered me a contract and I signed with them. They also provided a publicist. They’ve been wonderful to me and I’ve never looked back and can’t imagine ever parting ways with them.
You’ve been through some challenging times, losing your home and career, that formed the basis for your first novel, False Victim. Can you share a little about your own story and why you chose to write about it novel form?
I was the victim of what’s labeled a “false victimization” stalker. It’s incredibly hard to explain so the best thing to do is to google the term and see for yourself. This went on for four years until finally the police, an investigator and a magistrate judge told us we needed to leave the county for our safety. They couldn’t do anything to protect us until this woman harmed me and they had no doubt that she would indeed harm me. While the book has done very well and received rave reviews I’ve received some criticism for not writing it as a “true crime” story. But honestly, I have found unless you are someone famous or your story has made national headlines no one really wants to read your story. That’s why I decided to write as a novel.
What sparked the idea for your second novel, The Hillbilly Debutante Café?
I have spent years entertaining folks at parties with stories about my hometown – El Dorado Springs, Missouri. There are just so many unique and fun characters. One day a friend of mine, Tracy, with tears streaming down her cheeks from laughing so hard, said, “Kathie, you have got to write a book about this.’
Was the writing and publishing process different this time compared to the first? If so, in what way?
Oh, it was so much easier this time. After False VictimI had proved to my publisher that I could sell books so they were eager to work with me onThe Hillbilly Debutante Café. And of course the writing process with this book was a blast – I couldn’t wait to work on it every day.
Looking back, do you think you would have become a novelist if you hadn’t had the opportunity for a “second act”?
No. As much as I hate to admit that I wouldn’t have even attempted it. People would ask if I would write a book and I’d shrug nonchalantly and say, “Nope – ain’t happenin’ – I don’t have a plot.” So, I guess I’d have to say that in that respect moving next door to a psycho-stalker neighbor lady that worked relentlessly to take my child and send me to prison on false charges definitely in the long run ended up working in my favor. Who’d a thought?
You came up with a unique way to promote The Hillbilly Debutante Caféan Antique & Book Festival and a Hillbilly Debutante ball. How successful was this strategy?
It wasn’t bad actually. It was the first of what we hope will be yearly events and sometimes folks are leery of new things, but all in all I was happy with the turnout. It was a fun time and I think attendance, while it was good, will grow each year.
What other marketing strategies have you used to promote your books?
With False Victim I did the traditional book store signings and I’d try to visit at least one book club of every city I travelled to, but with The Hillbilly Debutante Café I’m doing things quite a bit different. I’m doing more “niche” events instead of book stores. I’m doing barn/antique sales, variety stores, feed/tack stores, cafes, fairs and festivals and charity events. I love to give back, so when I do these events I always share 40% of my profits. I also do a lot of speaking engagements, promote through my blog and other social media such as facebook and Twitter.
Are there aspects of the publishing business that you have found particularly challenging or difficult? Conversely, have there been aspects or experiences that surprised or touched you or that you thoroughly enjoyed?
The only aspect of publishing that I really and truly do not enjoy is editing. As I said earlier I have been known to cry myself to sleep at night during the editing phase. It’s really stressful for me.
Any interesting stories from book signing events?
No, they’re usually uneventful although I did kickoff my book tour with ‘False Victim’ in the town that it happened in so I had a security detail that day.
Based on your own experience, what tips do you have for authors who are preparing for their “maiden voyage” on the sea of publication?
Do your research! And then do it again before you make a decision on an agent, publisher or publicist. Also set aside a budget for travel expenses and other marketing because I don’t care how big or wonderful your publisher is, the bulk responsibility of marketing your work will be up to you.
What is the next project you have in the works?
I just had an article accepted for publication in “Inspire Me Today” – it will come out in the June issue, and I am writing the second book in ‘The Hillbilly Debutante Café’ series.
How do you define success as a writer?
My own personal definition of success as a writer, is being published, and having several hundred readers to my blog per day.
What do you find the hardest part about the “writing business”?
Handling the “business” aspect such as meetings with my publicists, writing creative, interesting articles for my blog, travelling with appearances and amidst all of this, still trying time to write books.
What’s the worst advice anyone gave you about being a writer? What’s the best?
I don’t remember anyone ever giving me bad advice, but on the other hand I don’t necessarily remember any good advice either. The fact is life as I knew it was over after the events that led me to write False Victim. As embarrassing as it is to say this, and although it was undeserved, I had an arrest record and it was next to impossible to explain what I had been through. I had to find a new way to make a living and speaking and writing were the only two things I knew how to do. I had to write and I had to be successful at it. I had no other choice.
What advice do you have for other writers who are contemplating pursuing a writing career?
Do it because it’s your absolute passion. With over 400,000 books published yearly, you have to come up with something that sets you apart. Be persistent, thick-skinned and be willing to take constructive criticism.
What do you want your writer’s epitaph to be?
“I Told You I Was Sick”….oh, wait a sec…I guess that doesn’t have anything to do with writing. How about “Editing Complete”? Have I mentioned how much I hate editing?
My thanks to Kathie for being part of One on One: Insights Into the Writer’s Life