Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, host of ‘All Things Southern’ and author of
Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too
( Berkley, division of Penguin Group USA)
1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too. It was released by Penguin Group this past May.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. As a kid you could always find me in the Mimosa tree in my front yard writing the next great American novel. Of course, if the question is how did I get someone to pay attention to my words, well, we might need more space here. The short version: After writing forever, scratching out words on the back of grocery lists, on the game plans of the girls’ basketball teams I coached, and in the margins of the
estimates I was working on for the clients of my interior decorating business, I decided to try and publish a small book called “Lessons Learned on Bull Run Road.” It didn’t take me long to get way tired of rejection slips. My solution was to go my own way. I knew I’d have to create my own “platform” if I had things to say, (kind of the build it and they will come idea.) I created All Things Southern on the web and got on with it. A couple years ago I was preparing to self-publish yet another book, (my fourth), when I was encouraged to try the tractional route again. Although it had remained a goal, I still didn’t think the timing was right. Still, to show my encouragers how much I appreciated them, I tried again. My contract with Penguin was the sweet outcome of that last effort.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
My day begins with God’s word. It’s what makes the rest of my life work. The rest of the day is full of deadlines and they all demand fresh, new words. I’m either knocking out content for my daily radio segments, prepping for All Things Southern LIVE, my one-hour radio talk show, filming a video segment for KNOE TV8, writing a speech for an upcoming speaking engagement, etc. In and around all of that, you’ll find me trying to snag time to work on my next book.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I am so blessed. My desk is on the lake side of my house. Five large picture windows frame Lake Providence, here in the northeast corner of Louisiana. I get to watch the egrets stalking the lake bank for minnows, birds diving down for surprise attacks on unsuspecting fish, and oh yeah– I get to try and ignore the spoiled rotten, moping chocolate lab named Dixie Belle outside the window, the one who is always begging me to come outside for a game of tennis.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Eudora Welty’s “One Writer’s Beginnings” is hands down my favorite.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
• Every time I get to my car I seem to be surprised that I’m actually going to need the keys AGAIN. One would think I’d put ’em in the same place in my purse every time but that would be too easy, now wouldn’t it?
• I’m forever stumping my toes, again, as if it’s a surprise to find them there.
• I can remember the size of someone’s double windows from ten years ago but I can’t remember to stop and buy milk.
7. Favorite quote
The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best part, working with words, sticking with it until you can express what’s just out of reach.
Worst part, deadlines. I’m a check it off person, who now lives with a variety of deadlines. I’m never caught up. I’ve had to learn to live in that. Easier said than done.
9. Advice for other writers
Don’t get it right, get it written.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I was nine when I wrote my first book, MARTHA AND HER HORSE. It had interesting chapter titles like “Trouble in the
Pasture”. It wasn’t WAR AND PEACE, but I had a story in me and I needed to tell it. My mother proudly read excerpts of this literary wonder to anyone she could lasso into listening. I’m in my forties now with grown kids of my own but I still love words and my reason for writing hasn’t changed; I need to tell stories. Unfortunately, without Mama’s strong-arm tactics, finding my way in Publisher Land has been challenging. Like Dorothy’s Oz and Alice’s wonderland, the publishing world is an elusive and distant land with its own time system, language and laws. Through careful observation, I’ve been able to ascertain much about this alien culture. I’d be happy to share these secrets with your readers…
The inhabitants of Publisher Land are a hardworking group of people with a special affinity for riddles–as evidenced by their common mantra: Show me your clips. “Clips” are paper trophies, copies of your past glories, proof that you’ve been published before. You need these clips; you must have them in order to get clips. (No, you can’t buy clips.)
Sound impossible? Welcome to Publisher Land. The law of the land is simple. If you’ve been published, you can get published. If you haven’t been published you need to get published, so you can be published. Your chances of getting published are much better if you have an agent. Oh yeah, that reminds me, most agents like to represent people that have already been published.
I’ve determined there are only six people running Publisher Land.
Writer’s Market 2001 lists at least one-gazillion editors (a gazillion is a little more than a million). But I think most of them are the same person because their letters are suspiciously similar. They all speak publisher-ease, a second language I’ve been somewhat successful in learning. For example: their letters might say “we regret to inform you that after carefully reviewing your manuscript we feel it’s not right for our present needs”. This should be read as “you haven’t been published before and pigs will fly before we take the first chance.”
Just as their words have different meanings, the laws of time in Publisher Land differ, too. Often a letter from a publishing house will say they hope to have a firm reply concerning your manuscript in twelve to fourteen weeks. You might think this is a month or two. The people in Publisher Land will be laughing at you. They know it means sometime this calendar year–if you’re lucky. I say, let ’em laugh, but get in the game! I’ve recently had a few small victories, nothing grand, no six-figure advances or anything, just enough success to throw gas on my word fire. But that’s okay. I still have an ace in the hole; a back-up plan I don’t think Publisher Land is ready for–Mama the Literary Agent.
It’s worked before.
Where can people buy your books?
You can find more about me than you need to know at my
You can buy my books there, subscribe to my weekly emag, watch my video segments, check out my blog, etc. Warning, I will try to hold you captive.