The Book Thing

Remember when I told y’all last week that I was going to have a lot of words on Monday?

Well, I am here to make good on that promise. But consider yourselves warned. This post is gonna be a marathon, not a sprint. You might want to grab a protein bar and some almonds.

And please – I beg of you – fill up your water bottles. It’s critical that you stay well-hydrated.

Back in May I told y’all that I’d had an idea for an e-book and was hoping to finish the first draft sometime in July. In retrospect the finish-first-draft-by-July idea was a whole bunch of wishful thinking on my part. I worked like crazy on the e-book in June, but the more I worked on it, the more two particular things became blindingly clear: 1) I can get very distracted by the technical side of things (formatting, reading up on e-book publishing, etc.) and waste lots of valuable time that could be better spent writing. And 2) editing a book chapter is a vastly different exercise than editing a blog post. Because for me, at least, editing a chapter NEVER, EVER ENDS.

By the time August rolled around, I had a pretty good rough outline in place, and I’d finished several chapters, but I felt stuck. I didn’t know if what I’d written up to that point was any good, or if I was heading in the right direction, or if the stories I was telling felt connected, or if I should just walk out in the middle of the street and throw my laptop on the ground and then run over it several times with my car. I decided that it was probably best to take a little break, clear my head, and re-visit the e-book in early fall.

As it turned out, my break from the e-book coincided with the time that Melanie’s book proposal was going out to publishers. Since I’ve always assumed that no one would ever want to publish anything I wrote (it has always seemed unlikely to me that a publisher would take a chance on someone whose idea of quality blog material is an in-depth look at the latest flavor of Cheez-Its), I had never investigated the specifics of getting a book published. Maybe that’s one reason why it was fascinating to watch Melanie walk through it. I asked her approximately 489 questions about how everything worked, but it wasn’t because I thought I would ever be doing such a thing myself. It was because I am nosy. Now you know.

Mel and I emceed .MOM not too long after she signed her book contract, and while we were there, I met a couple of really nice book editors who work at publishing houses. After I had a very eye-opening conversation with one of them (I told her my idea for the temporarily-on-hold e-book, and she did not in fact point and laugh maniacally), I walked straight to Melanie’s hotel room and spent the next 30 minutes uttering some variation of What does it mean? What does it all mean? Do you think this means I’m supposed to write a book-book instead of an e-book? WHAT DOES IT MEEEEEEAAAAAAN?!?!? Melanie never really answered me, though, because she was too busy rolling her eyes and banging her forehead against the fauxhogany desk.

Sometimes I can be a little high-maintenance when it comes to decision making.

In all seriousness, Melanie gave me some great advice that morning, and for the first time in my whole life ever, I started to give some real consideration to the book thing. I spent most of the next week mumbling to myself while I walked around the house and weighed my options and shrugged my shoulders, and when I couldn’t seem to figure out what to do next, I emailed Mel’s agent to see if he might be willing to talk to me, mainly to help me sort through all the book-related crazy in my head.

Just to be clear: I was still about 86% sure that I was never going to write a book. And I was certain that if I could just talk it out and listen to the wise counsel of a professional, we’d determine in a matter of minutes that the possibility of my e-book idea getting published traditionally was TOTAL NONSENSE, at which point I’d be able to return to my normal routine of mumbling to myself about really important things like my hair and why a second season of Revenge might be hard to pull off and is it normal that I still remember all the lyrics to the songs on Hee Haw and oh sweet mercy is there a switch I can flip to make my hormones SIMMER DOWN, ALREADY?

I talked to Mel’s agent, Bill Jensen, the day after my birthday, and much to my surprise, he liked my e-book idea and thought that some publishers might like it, too. I told him that I had a huge mental block about writing a proposal because, well, FIERY FIREBALLS OF DEATH, but he assured me that I could do it. I told him that another reason I’d been reluctant to pursue the book thing was because the thought of having to promote something makes me want to claw out my eyeballs with a spork, and he totally understood. We also talked a good bit about our favorite Bible translations as well as the lost art of Sunday dinner, but that’s neither here nor there, really. By the end of our conversation we’d agreed to start working on the proposal and just see where it might lead.

Easy-breezy. Kicky, even.

For the next few weeks I worked on that proposal every single night, and I am happy to report that it did not in fact kill me (you can imagine my relief). I actually loved working on it; I found it strangely fun to try to wrap my brain around what the different chapters might turn out to be at some point down the road. It didn’t take nearly as long to finish the proposal as I thought it would, and before I knew it, all I had left to do was to sit back and wait to see if any publishers were interested. That was at the end of November. And a little over a month ago, in what was surely the most surreal moment of my life, I very happily accepted an offer from Tyndale to write my very first book. I mean, my word. Who in the sam hill would’ve thunk it?

The manuscript is due July 1st, which means that I have about four and a half months to write like crazy and decide it’s all garbage and then write like crazy some more and then run to the corner of my bedroom and hold my knees and rock back and forth and wonder WHAT? WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHY DID I THINK I COULD DO THIS? WHAT HAVE I DONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNE? After all, it’s not every day that I commit to writing an exegetical commentary on the book of Obadiah.

Oh, you didn’t fall for that, did you? YOU KNOW ME BETTER THAN THAT, INTERNET.

The book – and we’re about 98% settled on a title, but I can’t blog about that part yet – is going to be a non-fiction collection of Southern stories about family, friends, food and faith. My hope is that it will be a funny, cheerful, encouraging reminder of how God does some of His very best work in and through the people He so graciously puts in our lives. I’m beyond grateful to my family and friends who have given me permission to tell their stories, and I’m so honored to be able to share those stories with the 14 to 22 people who might read my book. As always, I am dreaming big.

And finally, I just want to say this: I wish there was some way that I could adequately express how profoundly thankful I am for all of you. The fact that you stop by here and read what I write will forever be a wonder to me. Without y’all, it would’ve never occurred to me to write an e-book or traditional book or matchbook or phone book – there would be zero books of any kind on the horizon. Y’all bless me every single day with your comments and emails, and I am forever indebted to you for that. From the deepest part of my heart, thank you so much.

You’re the best bloggy people in the whole wide world.

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Comments

  1. I’m so excited for you, Sophie! I can’t wait to read it.

  2. Well, aren’t you just the sweetest thang? Yippie for the book! I love the subject. Love it. And no one else can tell a story quite like you. So count me in the 14 to 22 (thousand). ;)

  3. I love it when good things happen for good people! You’ll be so great! And so busy…maybe you should start freezing some dinners now to get prepared for those hectic days ahead???

  4. I’m so, so proud of you, friend!! Bill’s a good guy and the perfect agent for a book that has any sort of cooking/food in it. I love you, and I’ll be looking for my signed copy in the mail as soon as it comes out!

  5. So excited for you! If you need a sitter at any point, I’m at Samford and would love to take the little man out to the park or ice cream or just play inside. Congrats!!!

  6. Woot! So excited for you. That is wonderfully, exciting news.

  7. So excited for you! Please tell me that your book will include something about the importance of Sunday dinner. That is one of my most favorite posts of yours. (Even more than all the Cheez-Its discussions.)

  8. I’m a long time reader of your blog, and I for one am THRILLED about a Sopie, southern comfort book! I’ll be putting the kids to bed early, telling the hubby to go watch some kind of cop drama from the dvr, and curling up with your book, a cup of decalf coffee, and 1/2 dozen chocolate chip cookies the second it hits the shelf! Well, okay, maybe two to four hours later as the aforementioned items must be tended to to allow for appropriate book engulfing! Way to go Boo! Can’t wait!

  9. Yay!!!!! I am so excited – first I am going to have a book from Bigmama to read and then one from Boomama too?!??!? It’s like a dream come true!!! Congrats :)

  10. Can’t wait to read it!! Your blog is probably my favorite and I love all things southern, so I know I’ll love your book!!
    P.S. You and Melanie did a GREAT job at .MOM!

  11. Exciting!!!!!!!!!

  12. As much as I enjoy reading your blog, I can only imagine how much fun your book will be. Heck, I’d read your treatise on Obadiah if that was what you were serving up. :)

  13. One word: excited!
    One word of advice: breathe.
    One thing you need to do right now: smile….because you are loved, sister.

    :)

  14. I would love to read your book and I also want to read Melanie’s book! Excited for you!

  15. Whoot whoot – thrilled for you! Will be lining up to buy it hot off the presses!

  16. Nancy Hamilton says:

    Congrats sweet Sophie!
    So excited about reading this. Now I know what my people each will be getting for Christmas!
    Christmas shopping done!

    So proud of you!!

  17. Oh, I am so excited for you! Congratulations, Sophie! Can’t wait to read it.

  18. Oooh, Obediah. I CAN’T WAIT!

    But seriously – I can’t wait for your book! Congratulations!

  19. Way to go! I’m sure your book will be fun and fabulous, just like your blog. I look forward to reading it!

  20. So excited for you! And for us! But not surprised in the least. Nope. Not a bit surprised. Thrilled all the way around!

  21. I the words of BooMama, this makes me want to clap my hands! I can’t wait to read it!!

  22. To think we’ll be able to say we knew you back when….

  23. Yay for you! And for us! Gift-giving will be so easy once the book comes out :)
    May God bless you with a pure heart and clear mind as your writing glorifies Him!

  24. Kim Evans says:

    So happy for you. Can’t wait to read it.

  25. I am sure your book will be a hit especially if you include stories about Martha and Steinmart! Some of my favorite of your writings is your older relatives….we all have some just like them in our families but you just really know how to spin the story to make me laugh out loud!! So happy for you Sophie!

  26. Oh I canNOT wait!!! This is one I’ll be buying for sure!

  27. I am a devoted reader (though rarely a commenter), and I am thrilled that you are going to be a PUBLISHED AUTHOR. I will purchase your book, and probably one for my very Southern mama as well. Congratulations! You are a wonderful writer, and I pray God will honor your work!

  28. You are going to rock this thing! Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it.

  29. How exciting!! This southern girl can’t wait to buy your book!

  30. You go girl!!!!

  31. Yours is the only blog that repeatedly makes me laugh out loud. You will write a wonderful book, no doubt. Can’t wait!

  32. I am simply beaming with pride. SO. EXCITED. for you. I will bring cheese fries upon request… to support the creative juices.

  33. Stephanie says:

    Congrats!!!

  34. that is so exciting! I can’t wait to read it.

  35. There is no better story than a Southern story, and you are one of the great Southern story tellers. I cannot wait to get my hands on that book. And real books are so much better than e-books. There’s just something about a new book with nice crisp pages. Then again, old books with worn pages are pretty nifty too.

  36. Well put me down, Sophie, as one of your 14-22! You always make me smile, if not even laugh, when I read your blog. And we all need more laughter in our lives. So I’ll very much look forward to buying your book!

  37. sarah harper says:

    I am sooooo happy for you! Your blog posts make me smile and laugh and say “Amen!” daily… can only imagine how satisfying a whole book of your words will be. :) Heartfelt congratulations to you, Sophie!

  38. I can’t wait to read it!

  39. Jeannette says:

    I think you and Melanie should promote your books together. And I will stand in line with the other twenty-one people to get an autographed book.

  40. JustBetty says:

    ::: searching frantically for the ”Pre-order” button :::

  41. Joelle @goldenchances says:

    Happy, Happy, Happy for You!!! Like “jumping off the top of the pyramid and doing a Flying Russian” happy!!! Which would shortly turn into misery and a hospital stay. But that happy part at the very apex of the jump….that’s what I feel. Congratulations!

  42. Your blog ALWAYS makes me smile. I love reading it and love your wacky hilarious take on things. I will be first in line to buy the book. Well, maybe second, behind Martha, who will insist that your book signing be at the SteinMarts so that she can double dip and get that “darlin’ plus” three-quarters sleeve jacket in the just right shade of persimmon while she’s there. It’ll be a high time! I’ll bring the cheez-its! :)

    Write on Boo Mama!! Can’t wait to read it.

  43. So fun! I *cannot* wait to read it!

  44. Tell me where and when and I will buy it so fast …well so fast…..My charge card will be nothing but a blur as I use it….I’m so happy for you!

  45. Kelly Thompson says:

    YEA!!!! I can’t wait to read the book! Love me some Mississippi stories!

  46. I’m so very excited! – For you, and for us!! The best advice I ever got when I was (in my case, researching and) writing was this: “Start reading, stop reading. Start writing, stop writing.” A book is never finished – it is simply abandoned (in a good way). It can always be better, so write the best you can for today, each day, and then turn it in. (And then don’t re-read it for a while because then you’ll fret on how it COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER). And it will be perfect!
    Congratulations from someone (me!) whose life you may not have saved in the literal sense, but who is here and healthy and happy in part because of your writing. We don’t always know how we’ve touched others. Can’t wait to read it!

  47. YAY SOPHIE!!! I am so excited for you and for us and for everyone (and it will be considerably more than 22 of that I am sure) who will read it. And as others have said, thank you (and Mel) in advance for helping with Christmas gifts this year!

    You are including a chapter on beauty pageants, right? And recipes? And Martha?

    Praying for blessings as you write.

  48. I love you beyond words.

    You know that, right?

    Give me a winding mountain road with you in Ecuador any day!

    You can’t imagine how I am smiling! Thank you, Lord, for working through such beautiful people!

  49. Charise Meeks says:

    Whoop whoop!! I love your blog and I’m so excited to read this book!!

  50. I’m so looking forward to reading yours and Melanie’s books, so get busy!! And yes, please, on the Martha!!

  51. Finally MY dream of you writing a book has come TRUE! It’s all about me being right remember? I predict that 25 plus folks will buy it Soph, HA – 25,000,000 is more like it! Proud, happy, silly with amazement & just plain GIDDY is what I am I tell ya!

  52. Devan Griffin says:

    :) Can’t wait to read it! Yay!

  53. Congratulations Sophie! And now I need to search for the post on Sunday Dinner!

  54. THRILLED.TO.DEATH!!!!

  55. Yaaaay! That book sounds like so much fun.

  56. Sooo excited for you. I love your adventures, and I know you will do a wonderful job! Looking forward to reading it. I hope you come to Oklahoma for your book tour. Love it!

  57. Congratulations! What a thrill!! Count me in as 1 of the 22 who will not only read the book but will purchase it as well!

  58. I can’t wait to read your book! You are one of my very favorite bloggers, and now you will be one of my favorite published writers! :-)

  59. Joining the chorus of cheers here. I’ll be among the 14 to 22 (thousand!!!) or more … who buy that book. (And oh, how I love your voice.)

  60. Oh, how exciting!!! I can’t wait to read it! I do love a good story about life as it really is in the beautiful South, and I know that your words will just be a treat.

    By the way, I thought about you the other night. It was approximately 2 am on a Sunday morning and I was working on a baby shower gift while my family slept. (Yes, it was definitely crunch time.) Anyway, I finally got it finished and just kept saying to myself, “That is just darlin’ plus! Darlin’ plus!” Hahaha.

  61. Can’t wait to hold the weighty-ness of that precious book in my hands and then soak it into my marrow with laughter and joy and tears–knowing that God through YOU is a beautiful and wonderful thing, Sophie. I love you!

  62. I’ll buy it! Can’t wait to read it, although I’m sure that I’ll be FASCINATED by how very different your experience with the south was from mine. I lived in Ocean Springs for my teen years and actually had someone I barely knew come up to me and ask me, “Just what are you???” And by “what”, she meant what race was I. I guess they don’t see many Puerto Ricans in Mississippi. Don’t get me started on our experiences in Alabama. We found that race was very important in the South. I live in Houston now and have often told Texans that think that they’re part of the South that Texas is not the real South.

  63. It seems that you are the perfect person to write this book, and this is the perfect book for YOU to write!! I can’t wait, either!

  64. I think your main trouble will be trying to cram in all of the goodness that is your writing. Unless the book is going to be extremely chunky. That would be good, too.

  65. Congratulations! You are a gifted writer and i can’t wait to read it!

  66. So excited for you! I’ll soak up every word.

  67. I will be first in line (virtually, for I trust there will be a Kindle edition) to read your book. Congrats!

  68. Way to go, Sophie!

  69. I love reading your blog…it always makes me happy. Count me in as one that would buy your book in a New York minute. Go for it!!

  70. Oh there’s a reason we keep coming back to read about all of your television watching and fun antics- because we LOVE you and your writing! Now go write something larger for glory… we’re all waiting!

  71. Excited for you!!!

  72. Holly in Oregon says:

    THIS. is gonna be AWESOME!

  73. Many congratulations on your book deal (can you believe that phrase is now part of your life?!), and I’m so glad you had the fortitude to step into the unknown! God bless you as you write like mad these next few months . . .

  74. Yay! Oh, just yay! You are a delight. A true bright spot in so many people’s day. (Yay.)

  75. As my kids would say, “EPIC WHIZ–BANG”!

    (I just don’t ask anymore. I just find blind acceptance is better).

    I am incredibly excited for you and the 10’s of people that will enjoy this book for years to come. There is no better way to look at life than through the eyes of good ole Southern hospitality. With a Boomama chaser.

    Cannot wait until you come to Portland to promote, um, visit, (with several hundred copies to sign) so I can come see you. We will have such a party. It won’t be perfectly authentic, but there is an in-cred-i-ble Mexican place we can go to and you can soak your anxieties in some yummy Queso and chips.

    It will be a hoot.

    xoxo

    Congrats again!

  76. So exciting!! I am looking forward to reading your book. Reading your blog has made me laugh out loud so many times and has made me walk away with some food for thought many times also. I cannot wait to have a book I can highlight, underline and flag the pages.

  77. Tina Thunell says:

    Count me in. I live in the Pacific NW and love your sweet Southern style. PLEASE say there will be some Martha in there. She is my favorite. You seriously crack me up. So excited for you.

  78. Could not be prouder.

  79. Connielynn says:

    Even though I do not comment very often I love this blog. You have a wonderful way of telling a story and I cannot wait to read your book. May God continue to use you to bring some happy into our lives.

  80. I’ve been hoping for this. Congrats!!

    I don’t think you’re going to NEED a test-reader, because I’ve never edited your blog in my head, which is what I do with 99.9% of the blogs I read (and which is actually my job in real life outside of blogs) – but if you want a volunteer, I’d be honored.

  81. Congratulations!! The book sounds absolutely charming and I can’t wait to read it!

  82. I KNEW this day was coming. Not a bit surprised. Long time reader (you had me at “Mama and the Fish Camp”, circa 2006). I am SO happy for you. Lots of people are funny, but you bring a warmth to your writing that will translate so well to a BOOK. W-o-w. A BOOK!! Congratulations!! I am so happy for you and am looking forward to reading your BOOK, and giving it as gifts to, as you would say, “my people”.

  83. I found your blog thru Big Mama’s and y’all are the first ones I go to each day. Congratulations on your book!!! I know it will be hilarious and I can’t wait to read it!

  84. Yea!!!!!! Lots of Martha please!!!!

  85. Congratulations! I will look forward to reading this one. When you described the content I immediately thought of Southern Living Magazine and their page on books about the south and/or by Southern authors. Maybe we’ll see your name there : )

  86. So excited!! Your words were my connection to southern roots while living in the midwest. I could get a fix of good ole sassy, sweet, and a bit of crazy all in one read (all with a side of Cheez-Its). Praying for you and all your words!!

  87. Amy in Italy says:

    So exciting! You may very well be the excuse I’ve been looking for to buy a Kindle.

    Way to grab the reigns, Gladys!!!

  88. WOO HOO!!!! You may have single handidly (sp???) taken care of 75% of my gift giving for this Christmas! (Autographed though……please…….) :)

  89. Emily Massey says:

    I’ll just say I knew you when… Congrats Soph, that’s so exciting!

  90. Katherine says:

    Go Sophie! I can’t WAIT to read it!!!

  91. Well…my goodness….this Southern girl cannot wait to get her hands on this book!!! I will come to Birmingham and celebrate when it’s time to kick our heels up! ;) You are so loved by so many.

    Have fun!!!

  92. *squeee* So happy for you!!!

  93. You and Big should go on a book tour and come to Houston! I will for sure be one of the 14-22 that buy it.
    So proud of my never met before, BFF.

  94. Yay! Can’t wait to read it. I hope Tyndale makes it available in their blogger review program. Then, lots of additonal people will have the opportunity to read it and will fall in love with you and your stories like we all have.

  95. Julie Reynolds says:

    So excited for you Sophie, and thankful! Your words always brighten my day so I can’t wait to have a whole book of them to explore!

  96. Go Sophie!! I am so excited for you — and all of us!! Much love from your desert Dawg contingency out here!! (I’m ringing my cowbell in your honor this morning!!)

  97. Way to go, Sophie! I am so incredibly thrilled for you. I cannot wait to preorder the book. You and bigmama are going to have ALL THE FUN promoting your books, can’t wait to read them both. So when is your book supposed to hit the shelves?

  98. Can not wait to read it. I love your blog it always makes me feel happy. I laugh out loud when i read it.. Hope your in my neck of the woods when you are promoting it.

  99. Sophie!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so very excited because as I have told you before, I am a FAN of your writing – you just plain old tickle me to pieces because “I get you.” I am Southern to the pulley bone of my fried chicken self, and I just know delights are in store.

    I will BUY a book, promote the book, and PRAY. Would love to work your book table somewhere at the “signing.” Yippee-yay.

    GJ

  100. Congratulations!
    I am SO EXCITED for you!
    I can’t wait to read your book!
    Much love,
    Kim