Bacon: The Giveaway

Thankfully – blessedly – our house no longer smells like charred tomatoes. Since I was out of town this past weekend, I don’t know when exactly the stench lifted, but I was very relieved that the smell of singed meatballs didn’t knock me over when I walked in the back door this afternoon. That was some serious cause for praise.

I spent the weekend in Atlanta with Melanie, by the way. We planned our trip a sweet forever ago, and oh, was it ever timely and fun and wonderful and refreshing and etc. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna make it into my 2013 Top 5 Favorites. Delightful all the way around.

Now.

Before I forget, here’s the winner of the last giveaway.

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Congratulations, Jody! I’ll send you an email in just a little bit.

As for this last giveaway – well, I hardly know where to begin. Because in so many ways it is the culmination of all my bloggy hopes and dreams. Perhaps I should explain.

This giveaway has three parts. The first part of the giveaway is my book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, which officially releases on Tuesday and that is all fine and good but TRUST ME not nearly as special as the rest of the giveaway.

The second part of this giveaway is a staple in almost every Southern cook’s kitchen. I for one couldn’t live without mine – it is the best all-purpose pan under the sun.

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(It’s a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)

(If you’ve never used one, you need to understand that it’ll change your whole life.)

(And your cornbread will never be the same.)

The third part of this giveaway is almost too good to be true. It is more, in fact, than I ever dreamed. But apparently, if you write a book that has the phrase “fifteen pounds of bacon” in the subtitle, there are wonderful people out there who will step right up to the plate and offer to give away – GET READY – fifteen pounds of bacon.

You read that correctly.

FIFTEEN POUNDS-O-BACON.

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Somebody give the Lord a handclap of praise.

The bacon is courtesy of Petit Jean Meats, an Arkansas company that makes, among other things, incredibly delicious bacon (I recently found out that their bacon is the official bacon of the Dallas Cowboys, AS WELL IT SHOULD BE). Petit Jean Meats sent me a whole bunch of bacon after my friend Stephanie (we actually went to high school together) told them about my book title, and no kidding: the day all that bacon showed up at our front door may have been the happiest moment in all my years of blogging. Their peppered bacon has become the hands-down favorite in this house, and I am so excited to be able to share it with y’all. Because, well, BACON.

And not only that: EXCEPTIONALLY TASTY BACON.

SO. If you’d like to enter to win a very fancy prize that consists of my book (which, compared to bacon, you know, WHATEVER), a 12-inch Lodge cast iron skillet, and FIFTEEN POUNDS-O-BACON, just leave a comment on this post. If you’d like, you can also sign up for the Petit Jean Meats email newsletter or like their Facebook page, and if you do either of those things, come back here and leave an additional comment for a second entry (you can just say “PJM social media” or something like that in your second entry).

I’ll close comments on this post tomorrow night, and I’ll select a winner using random.org.

Hope y’all have a great week – it’s been so much fun doing these giveaways with you!

This giveaway is now closed. I’ll announce the winner in a couple of days!

Eau de Charred Tomatoes (And A Giveaway)

I wasn’t planning on doing anything special for supper tonight – just serving my people some leftovers that we could all pretend were tasty and delicious – but at the last minute my husband suggested that we go out to dinner. It took me all of two seconds to say, “YES, PLEASE,” and within a couple of minutes we were in the car and on our way.

We ate supper at one of our favorite non-Chuy’s Mexican places (Chuy’s, of course, is the pinnacle), strolled through a nearby bookstore, and grabbed some frozen yogurt before we headed home. I’m going to be out of town this weekend, so as we pulled in the garage, I was thinking about how fun it had been to have an unexpected night on the town with my fellas before I leave for a couple of days. I was still in my little reverie as I got out of the car, but then I stopped, and I looked around, and I smelled it.

I didn’t know what “it” was, exactly. But I knew that it was a cross between Italian food, smoke, and a white-hot BBQ grill.

Then it dawned on me.

I must not have. Turned off. The leftovers. On the stove.

I mean, I thought I did. I announced that I was going to turn them off. But apparently there was a significant user error, because when we walked through the kitchen door, I realized that I might need to practice getting that control knob to the COMPLETELY OFF position.

Oh, y’all. The smoke. It was so very smoke-y. Granted, I’m so grateful that nothing actually, you know, caught on fire, and I think we’ve gotten most of the smoke out of the house, but oh, it is some charred-smelling awfulness in this place tonight.

And for the record, I am never cooking meatballs again.

Anyway. Let’s talk about something fun now. Like prizes!

Here’s the winner of the cornstick pan and two copies of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet.

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Yay, Jennifer! I just sent you an email.

I’m also starting to feel like a game show host. And I don’t mind it.

So I’ll make this next giveaway pretty quick because I need to start typing “how to get smell of burned Italian food out of my house” into the Google, but I think y’all will enjoy this next little Southern treat. Especially if you’re planning to take some road trips this summer because, well, hash brown casserole, anyone?

crackerbarrel
Yep. It’s a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel, plus, you know, a copy of this book.

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And who knows? If I can’t get this smell out of my house, I may be at the Cracker Barrel first thing in the morning. Coffee and homemade biscuits can cure a world of hurts, you know.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

This giveaway is now closed.

My Hair Wasn’t The Only Thing That Was Flat (And Another Giveaway, Too)

All righty. A list!

1) I’m a little sick of myself right now. Just in case you were wondering.

2) Before Karla installed my re-design, something in my WordPress was broken. Because of all the brokenness, I had to type in any code – like for links, formatted text, etc. – by hand. But now my WordPress is fixed, and I can link and italicize and LO, EVEN MAKE WORDS BOLD (see what I did there?) with the click of a single button. My life has meaning again.

3) Book signings are listed over here. You win, non-Facebook people. :-)

4) Today I initially thought that I was going to have a very promising hair day, but then I stepped outside, and it seemed like I could actually hear the volume leaving that critical crown area. I tried to fluff it a bit after we left the house, but I could not revive it. It was flatter than a pancake and deader than a doornail. And I kid you not: within five minutes of my hair-tastrophe, the tire pressure light came on in my car. A few weeks ago I ran over a nail and had to have my tire patched, and today, apparently, I ran over a good-sized bolt. I know this because our favorite / beloved / blessed-among-men mechanic pointed out said bolt when my flat-ish tire and I arrived at his shop.

You’d think that I spend all my free (spare? get it?) time driving leisurely through construction sites.

Needless to say, it was not a good day for my hair or my tire. But the good news is that I ordered a new tire (the hole was in a place where it can’t be patched), so I’ll be back in fine tire form tomorrow. I’m afraid that I cannot say the same for my hair. Because OH, THE HUMID.

5) Here are the winners from yesterday’s giveaway. Thanks, random.org.

106 – Susan (comment on 5/28 at 10:11pm)
180 – Angela (comment on 5/28 at 11:44pm)
245 – Kim (comment on 5/29 at 6:39am)
381 – Glennell Strawng
518 – Sarah at 32 Flavors

Y’all will get an email from me later tonight with info about how to claim your prizes.

6) When I was growing up, Mama almost always cooked a hot lunch straight from Daddy’s garden. We’d have fresh corn, blackeyed peas, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, fried eggplant – or whatever delicacy happened to be growing at the time. We usually didn’t have meat for lunch unless it was leftovers, but more often than not, Mama made cornbread. And for some reason, when she’d make cornbread at lunch, she’d use a cornstick pan that had belonged to her mama, my Mamaw Davis.

And that’s the prize for today’s giveaway: a cast iron cornstick pan. I didn’t even know that anyone still made them, but I’m so happy that they do. Whoever wins the cornstick pan will also receive two copies of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet – one for the winner and one for friend.

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So there you have it. A cornstick pan and a couple of books. Just leave a comment if you’d like to enter to win. I’ll close comments in 24 hours.

And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, please accept this invisible certificate as a token of my appreciation. You are a champion. No doubt about it.

This giveaway is now closed.

A Short-Lived Burst Of Productivity (And Also: A Giveaway)

It never fails that on one of the first “real” (read: not weekend, not holiday) days of summer vacation, I decide that I am going to run ALL THE ERRANDS. I put together a to-do list that’s approximately a quarter-mile long, and oh, I TACKLE SOME THINGS. That is precisely what Alex and I did today. We went seven or eight different places, crossed almost everything off my list, and by the end of the day, there may have been a little Bachman-Turner Overdrive running through my brain.

I was feeling so accomplished, in fact, that when we pulled in the garage around 4:00 this afternoon, I put away all the groceries and assorted items and then promptly changed into my pajamas.

You can’t possibly be surprised.

One of today’s errands was to run by Belk, which means that I let the little guy take his DS on our excursion because no 10 year-old boy can bear spending more than approximately fifteen minutes in a department store. I am normally more of a “deal with it” mama since I don’t think there’s any written or unwritten rule that states that a child must never be bored, but I was trying to put together an outfit for something on tomorrow’s to-do list, and I wasn’t sure how long the wardrobing was going to take me.

Once A. was comfortably settled in front of a big ole mirror, I started looking through racks upon racks upon racks of clothes. I ended up buying a couple of shirts, and here is what I love about Belk: when you shop their sales, the prices always end up being less than what you think they’re going to be. I had two tops from the 50% off rack – one with an original price of $65.00 and the other with an original price of $94.00 – and I ended up paying $7.99 for one and $23.49 for the other. That was delightful in and of itself, but I think the best part of all was when the cashier handed me my receipt and said, “You saved $127.52 today!”

Clearly that was a sign that I needed to do some more shopping!

Oh, I’m kidding. But I did buy some of that new CC cream (apparently the BB cream has some exciting new features), and I’m really curious to see how well it works. My only expectation is that it will make my skin look like it did when I was 19 because, you know, I’m all about being realistic.

Anyway, my errands – riveting though they must be – are not in fact the point of this post. Because today is the first in a series of happy little giveaways leading up to ye olde book release. And listen – if this next week were solely up to me, I’d be curled up in a corner and watching Notting Hill over and over again on my iPad. But the folks at Tyndale had some fun ideas for giving away copies of the book (assuming, of course, that you want to win a copy of the book, because if you’re not at all interested in the book, then I’m assuming this string of giveaways is going to be a bit of a let-down), and I am always a fan of some festive prizes.

Festive prizes make life feel more like a kicky game show, don’t you think?

Today I’m giving away a little something that I discovered back in the spring, and oh, I do enjoy this particular item.

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I for one think that these are the cutest measuring spoons that the world has ever known. They’re not fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s no way to use them without smiling. TRY THEM AND SEE.

I’ll leave this post open for the next 24 hours, and at the end of that time I’ll draw for five winners. Each winner will receive a set of the sassy measuring spoons as well as a copy of this little number.

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So. If you’d like to enter to win the measuring spoons as well as a copy of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, just leave a comment on this post. I do have to make the disclaimer that Tyndale can only mail the prizes to people in the continental US, and I’m just as sorry as I can be about that, Canada. Not to mention Hawaii and Alaska and the six to twelve people who read in other parts of the world.

Happy Giveaway-ing, everybody!

This giveaway is now closed.

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.

Follow-Up. Or Follow-Through. Or Something.

– Y’all sure do know how to encourage a girl. Thanks so much for your sweet comments; I am very grateful. I have also been SEIZED BY FEAR ever since I put up that last post, mainly because you know those people who are just loaded with confidence and set goals and refuse to entertain self-doubt and always tackle any new project head-on?

I am not one of those people.

So your comments, they mean a lot.

Did I mention how grateful I am?

– Some of you asked what an e-book is and if you need any sort of fancy equipment to read one. These days most e-books are formatted for e-readers so that you can download them from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your favorite online bookstore and then read them on your Kindle or Nook or phone or the microchip that’s been implanted in your brain. Some e-books can be purchased through PayPal and then downloaded as a PDF.

For my little e-book, I’m probably going to do all of the above. Except that I’m not actually going to do any of that formatting stuff because detailed technology-related tasks make me all twitchy and snappy and mean. Fortunately there are all sorts of reasonably-priced options as far as the formatting is concerned, so I’ll be using one of those.

And as for whether or not you need an e-reader to read an e-book: NO MA’AM. I recently downloaded Kindle for Mac (it’s free – and there’s also Kindle for PC) just so I could read my friend Anne’s book (which I loved, by the way).

I don’t have an iPhone, so a lot of the App Store stuff is lost on me, but I do have an iPod, and Saturday night I downloaded the free Kindle app on my iPod and felt VERY FANCY.

There are also free NOOK apps for phones and computers and probably for that microchip in your brain, too.

*SUBJECT CHANGE*

*THANK GOODNESS IT’S ABOUT TIME*

– Yesterday we started watching season 5 of Friday Night Lights, and oh my word it is delightful. I have missed the Taylors like crazy and felt like I was catching up with old friends.

(Yes, I know that’s weird.)

(Yes, I know they’re CHARACTERS ON A TV SHOW.)

(Yes, I still wanted to give Julie a talking-to about some of her choices.)

(EVEN THOUGH SHE’S PRETEND.)

So far we’ve watched five episodes, and I have to say that episode five – the one where the Lions travel by bus to an away game – is a mighty fine hour of television. Enjoyable all the way around.

– The latest group of Compassion Bloggers recently arrived in the Philippines. Over the last year or so I’ve realized that the easiest way for me to keep up with trip posts is to follow the group on Twitter – it becomes a little timeline of the trip, and it’s an easy way for me to catch up on posts, pictures and links in one central place. If you’d like to help spread the word about the Philippines trip, you can grab a button or badge for your blog, Twitter or Facebook.

– Okay. Now I must make mac and cheese. And hamburger patties. Last night I had a dream that I was really flustered trying to get food ready, and after I made the hamburger patties I threw them in water and boiled them instead of putting them on the grill. NOW DOESN’T THAT SOUND DELICIOUS.

So regardless of your Memorial Day plans, please know that it is my sincere hope that there is no boiled meat in your future.

See y’all tomorrow.