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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  1. SO exciting! Now listen, I spent 20+ years in the community newspapering bidness in a small southern town. Though the stories, they were a-plenty, I never aspired to write a book and I’ve always felt that I am a better editor than writer. All that to say, if you want a friendly, but careful, eye to read over some of your drafts, I happily offer my services!

  2. YES!!!

  3. Oh I bet it’s going to be a treasure – can’t wait.

  4. Get it, girl! :) Congrats! So looking forward to reading it!

  5. Melanie M says:

    Your writing style is marvelous and I cannot wait to read a whole book by you! I know 14 people who I will tell about this book so you can count on our sales :) I’m so happy for you!

  6. Oh my goodness, BooMama is writing a book. I will one day be on my bookshelf. So excited that you are gonna between the covers of a book! Woah, will you even have a dust-jacket? THAT feels official… Your writing always makes me smile and I can’t wait to see what the Lord says through you.

  7. You so totally deserve it! Can’t wait to read it, buy it and love it!


  8. I am by no means a prophet but I must say I saw it long ago :) Now the world will soon love you as much as all of us blog readers do. What’s so great is that God knew this day would come and He is no doubt SO PLEASED. I am looking forward to reading. Absolutely can’t wait. I am praying for you as you pen exactly the words He wants written. So, so proud of you!

  9. I am so proud of you! I think you should have pictures. Boy do I have some I could contribute.

  10. Oh, Sophie! I’m thrilled for you. I just found your blog a couple of months ago, but girl, you can turn a phrase! Some days I hate all the new technology, thinking it really ends up disconnecting people. But I wouldn’t have found you or Melanie without it. And you make my days so much richer. With your humor. With your faith. With your family. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us. I can’t WAIT until your book comes out. Count me in for a bunch of copies!

  11. Carrie Lynn says:

    Love reading your blog and look forward to reading your book.

  12. Congratulations!! Even without Obadiah, I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic! ;)

  13. God is just so amazing. I just don’t think it is an accident that He brought me to your blog (which you have been doing for years, and I am soooo sad I am just now discovering it!) right around the time you are going to write a book! I know He gives this His blessing, and I feel strongly that He wants me to pray about this and pray for you!! I will be doing that regularly! I am so very happy for you, and anxiously await the arrival of the masterpiece that I know it will be!! May God bless you with insight, a clear mind, and words…lots of them!!! YOU are such a blessing! Can’t wait to buy copies for all my friends and family!!!!!

  14. Sophie,
    I knew this day was coming. I cannot wait to read your stories. Some of my favorites on your blog have been Martha stories, pageant stories, of course all of the great recipes/food stories, and one that really made me laugh is the post about Mammaw and her great pair of L’eggs at the beach! I copied that post for all the ladies at my church! Ha! Seriously, I am so happy for you. Know that all of your readers in blogland are cheering and supporting you today! If you have a book signing or event in Knoxville I will be first in line! :) Glad to help in any way.

  15. Congratulations! This is so exciting.

  16. Oh gosh. I hate that I rely on my email subscription to read updates from you because I am always the very last to the party. And for this, my friend, I wanted to be the very first to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is such WONDERFUL news.

    On the writing process: Recently on Facebook, Rachel Held Evans noted that writing a books involves swinging wildly from “Yeah! This book is really turning out!” to “THIS IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD.” Having just sent our final edits to our editor last week, I can confirm that is truth. So that is to say that if at times you feel like you would just rather go into hiding in a protection program of some kind rather than finish the work, you are on the right track. How’s that for encouragement? Hee.

    Best wishes on the process, dear Sophie. I cannot WAIT (!!!!) to read it!

  17. from one Mississippigirl to another…I am so excited for you — can’t wait to read it!!

  18. I can’t wait.

  19. Congratulations to you Sophie! I remember when I first landed on your blog so many years ago. You were funny, real and passionate THEN and you are funny, real, & passionate NOW.

    God bless you girlie .. can’t wait to read the book …. and laughing, crying as well. :)

  20. WHEE! Congrats. And if you ever need a coffee break while writing, let me know!

  21. You had us as” Forever Fans” w/ your TV to DVD recommendations. To think of our lives w/o Friday Nights Lights & Veronica Mars – oh my! What a blessing your book will be to so many! Happy Writing!!

  22. I will absolutely buy one…probably closer to 6. Gift closet you know!

  23. I think this book will lead to things like being interviewed by Diane Sawyer, Kelly and whomever replaces Regis, Kathy Lee and what’s her name (?), and quite possibly anyone who has a talk show! You may wind up with your own talk show and quite possibly your own network! I see it. I can totally see it.

    Way to go, Sophie! I can’t wait!

  24. This makes me so, so happy! I am so proud of you already. I just happen to think you have perfected the combination of humor, wit, and love for the Lord. You’ve got a word to speak (write?) and I think there are a lot of people who will love to receive it.

    Praying that the writing flows with ease, Sophie.

  25. First Big Mama and now BooMama books?? My cup runneth over! I can’t wait to get my hands on both of these books!

    Congratulations! I just know your book will be so wonderful!

  26. FANTASTIC! that is great news- Can’t wait!

  27. Teresa Stout says:

    I’m so thrilled to hear this news. Read your blog every day. You have such a gift with words. Wish I could buy it today!

  28. I’m de-lurking here to say…IT’S ABOUT DAD-GUM TIME!!!!

    I’ve been reading this blog EVERY DAY for the past oh, I dunno, three years or so. You have brought so much laughter to my mundane little mornings that I spend chained to my desk slaving over ledgers…so you go girl. Write.

    Much love from a faithful reader who only comments about once or twice a year.

  29. Yes!!!! This is such great news! To be honest, I wondered from the get-go why you weren’t shopping your book with publishers as it’s clear that 1) the book will be awesome and 2) it will sell like hotcakes. Glad you had people around you to help you realize that it would work!!!

  30. Congrats!!! I’ve told so many people to read your blog. Now, I can tell them to read your book! How exciting!

  31. Julie in MI says:

    Congrats!! I am so happy for you. I enjoy reading your blog everyday, you make me laugh out loud, you are a hoot that’s for sure. Can’t wait to read your book too!!!

  32. Fauxhogany…. You had me laughing over that one. Congratulations on the upcoming book!

  33. Can’t wait! Your writing make me laugh outloud and remind me so much of my Southern family. I’m guessing we are probably kin:)

  34. oh my gosh this makes me so very happy! i am looking forward to every single story!! and i hope Martha makes an appearance or seven!!
    God bless you sweet Sophie!!

  35. Congrats! Looking forward to it!!

  36. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Sophie, you’re gonna be great…I will be first in line to pick up a copy or two!!! I love giving books as presents!! You are fulfilling my life long dream to write a book…will I ever do it? I don’t know but it’s sure fun watching (reading) you and Melanie do it. I BELIEVE IN YOU!! Can’t wait to laugh and be moved to tears cuz I LOVE stories about “family, friends, food and faith”!!

  37. I jumped into the blog-o-sphere with great abandon and for a while had about 15 or a 100 blogs I followed. I’d have a few that were really favorites and a bunch I liked and a whole bunch I randomly clicked on because I liked their comments or some such clearly defined reason. Over the months the list got smaller and smaller because let’s face it – I can only hide blog perusal from my desk at my job where I get paid real money for so long. Now I’m down to 3 blogs, 2 of which I read every single day without fail. Yours and Melanie’s. I don’t even read The Pioneer Woman as religiously as I read you. You make me laugh myself silly and you have such a beautiful way with words that after I read the whole post I’ll go back and linger over phrases and admire the way you put words together to form a thought that became a real picture in my head. SO all that wordiness to say, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving person and I know two books I’m going to be buying some time in the future for absolute sure. I feel so strongly that I know the two of you that I just count you right there on my friend list. You do not have to get a restraining order though. I have decorum.

  38. I can’t wait! What a great gift and blessing you deserve as you bless others!

  39. Leslie Mackey says:

    yay, BooMama! so excited to read it! congrats!

  40. DeeDee Brinkman says:

    love your blog…I can’t imagine how much I am gonna LOVE your book…excited to read it!! congratulations, boomama!!! :)

  41. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it!!!

  42. Count me in as one of the 14-22 people! I am so blown away by your courage. I have been a long time reader of your blog and it has been amazing to watch God work. Your willingness to take those trips with Compassion has blown me away. You are evidence that if you just surrender it all to God, He will do ABOVE AND BEYOND MORE THAT YOU COULD ASK OR IMAGINE! Awesome.

  43. SOPHIE!!! I of course had NO IDEA what was going on when I told you at SSMTC that I was praying for your book. OHMYGOODNESSGRACIOUS!!

    I am thrilled for you and am full of expectation. I have always loved hearing stories and traditions and what have you about my Southern Friends…and now, I’ll have it in hard copy. :D

    much love and congratulations from So.Cal.

  44. I can’t wait to read your book!!!!

  45. Hee hee hee HAW HAW!!! And, whew, you just took away all the anxiety about what to buy all the women in my family for Christmas. Love, love, love.

  46. I can’t wait for your book–your blog has been one of my favorites since your trip to Africa with Compassion, so I am thrilled to know there’s now a book in the works, too!

  47. I am not a big dreamer in general. But, I have this one. crazy. big. dream. You have encouraged me to hope and move forward. Maybe God IS really big enough to do it?? Oh, man, I may toss my cookies from the butterflies I am feeling…. Thank you.

  48. Delurking to say your blog is one of my very favorites! Can’t wait to read your book!

  49. Congratulations, Sophie! So happy for you!

  50. Well, that is happy news! I’ll be enthusiastically reading your book, mostly out loud to my husband. He loves when I read him your blog posts about Martha, and jackets, and all things southern. Makes us feel not so alone in our crazy-southern life!

  51. So excited about this news! I’ll definitely be one of the 22 people who read it! :) Seriously love your blog and will look forward to buying your first book!

  52. Sophie, I couldn’t be more excited for you! I know you have so many wonderful stories to share, and as a fellow Southerner (and Birminghamian), I am thrilled that you’re going to get to share them in book form. Thank you for being such a source of laughter and hope in my life!

  53. Oh my word! Congratulations! Those Tyndale people are the best.

  54. How exciting!!! Count me in! I can’t wait to read ANYTHING written by you! Will you do an “ebook signing”? I would drive a long way to meet you :) If it’s in Birmingham, I’ll have to wait until school is out for the summer.

  55. Congratulations! As I read your posting all I could think of was Skeeter from the Help talking to Ms. Stein. I can’t wait for the book to come out and maybe a few may be blessed to have an autograph copy.

  56. Anotherlisa says:

    You’re not going to believe this, but I remember the morning, about 5 months ago, when I woke up laughing. I literally woke myself up. And when I was all the way awake, I laughed again. Because I was dreaming I was reading your book.
    As I told my daughter later that morning, she said “boo has a book?!”
    And that morning we started praying for you to follow any open doors to which He was leading you….
    Thanks for sharing your life with us. And don’t worry, I don’t regularly dream about you : )

  57. I’m so happy for you! You have such a warm, funny way with words and I will definitely read your book! Good luck, I will keep you in my prayers!

  58. Beth Myers says:

    Soooo excited! Can’t wait until it comes out! Like others said, perfect for gift giving!

  59. Look! You’ve already sold 159 copies! I’m so happy for you. Tyndale …. WOWSER!

  60. Oh, Sophie, I’m so, so happy for you. Your words deserve a place on a shelf, and a hard (or soft) cover, and a perusal in a real live book store. I am very excited for this turn of events, and will cheer you on from afar! When you come to St. Louis on your book tour, you have a place to stay!

  61. Can’t wait to read it!!!

  62. This is such awesome news! I love reading your blog and can’t wait to read your book! And southern stories are the best. So thankful for your recommendation to read the Help, before it was the thing to read, and for NEEDTOBREATHE. My ears and my CD player thank you! Happy writing!

  63. I am SO excited for you!!!! I will be first in line at Books A Million at Brookwood for your book signing!

  64. Well, this is just wonderful:)

    I’m trusting there will be a chapter on a fictional character named “Martha” and all of her hijinks at the Steinmarts. I mean, Southern ladies can relate to the extensive issues that arise when one wants a fitted jacket, NOT a boxy jacket that swallows you.

    I’m going to begin making and freezing dips in preparation for the release party;)

    and p.s. i believe you’re securing yourself an alumni spotlight complete with headshot on the pages of The Eleusis:)

  65. Wow! I am so excited for you. Congrats & happy writing!

  66. Um, HELLO!?! This is AWESOME! I think I’m secretly Southern, so YIPPIE SKIPPIE, I’m gonna LOVE THIS! Which reminds me — one of my students (who has Aspergers), once picked up a workbook in my therapy room entitled, “Sentence Construction.” His gleeful reaction: “Sentence Construction? I’m gonna LOVE this!” <— A little something to get you through those hard edits :) MUCHOS CONGRATULATIONOS!

  67. How exciting!! I can’t wait to read it:)

  68. Alicia M. says:

    I am so excited for you! I will be first in line to buy your book because I know it will be wonderful – just like you!

  69. Congratulations!!! While I don’t get to read every day, your and Big Mama’s blogs are saved to my Favorites and I love stopping by whenever I have time to see what you’ve written. Always entertaining. Can’t wait to purchase and read your 1st book!!! WootWoot!!! To God be the glory!

  70. Well, you can guarantee I’ll be one of the 14-22 people reading when it’s released!

    P.S. – I have a feeling it will be A LOT more than 14-22!! :) Best of luck!

  71. Somewhere, a dozen blocks of cream cheese are dancing at their local Stein Marts. Absolutely thrilled for you, Sophie!

  72. I’ll be in line to read it!

  73. Congrats!! I’m SOOO excited for you! I cannot wait to read your book! Please keep us posted on everything. :)

  74. I am so happy for you! I can’t wait to read it! I love your stories!

  75. So so so happy for you!!
    You know I will do everything I can to tell my corner of the world about it. Will love to share the news with our magazine readers!!!
    You just say the word and it’s in there!!

    Love you!!!

  76. You absolutely must write this book. Back in 2007 I ran across your blog and loved it. I was new to the blog world, anyhoo. At the time I lived in Utah, then comes February 2008 and my little family uproots and moves to Huntsville, Alabama – scariest thing I’ve ever done. But you made it o.k. You made moving to a different culture from what I grew up in totally fine, even exciting. And now, I LOVE it here and never want to leave, ever!

  77. YAY!!!!! I don’t know why, but this news makes me INSANELY happy – giggly even…I can’t wait! Big giant hugs of joy for you!

  78. Can’t wait to see your heart in print.

    An elephant is eaten one tiny bite at a time. Now that I typed that out, it sounds like I want to eat elephants. Not that. At All. Now, elephant ears, mind you, that’s a different story.

    I digress. So happy for your book…may the Lord bless everything you set in mind to do for Him!

  79. [Slow clap]

    How soon can a buy a zillion?

  80. Congratulations!

  81. I have been waiting for a post like this since last May. Seriously, Sophie, EVERYONE BUT YOU knew you could do this and knew it would happen and knew you were made for it!

    Thank you for answering God’s call! With love from N.C.

  82. THIS is the news I’ve been waiting for….to know that I can have a little bit of Boo, right there on my bookshelf, for the the reading anytime I want.

    I’ll be anxiously awaiting the debut and might even throw a little shindig with all manner of cream cheese based, dippable concoctions. That is, of course, what I feel you’d want.

  83. Congrats!!! :-) I’m so excited for you!

  84. I have been a little behind and just read this. MADE MY DAY! I really cannot wait for one more minute (although I know I have to) to read this book!!!

  85. Congratulations! I LOVE the way you write so I will definitely be one of those 14-22 people who picks up a copy. And just remember Snooki wrote a book and you are a 1000 times smarter and more talented than her. You can do it!

  86. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read your book!

  87. Oh Sophie!! I can’t wait!!! I’ve been telling Grant for years that you should be writing books. (And, yes. I said BOOKS. ‘Cause I have a feeling this will be the first of many!) So happy for you and looking forward to getting a copy when it comes out.

  88. Found it! Aww – I would really love to write a book. And to be funny. Can you give me lessons? Look forward to reading more Boomama. Congrats on the book!

  89. My sister used to be a designer at Tyndale. How fun that could have been if she had worked on your book! Tyndale people are great – I hope you have a wonderful experience with them. Congratulations! You’ve got one more sale here!

  90. Oh, one more thing … as a northerner, I’ve always wondered if indeed it’s still different these days growing up in a southern state. Probably not as different as say, Laura Ingalls vs. Scarlett O’Hara, I imagine! But I do wonder how “y’all” might be raised as a southern lady.

  91. Well! You take a bit of a forced break from reading your regular blogs and look what happens?!! I am thrilled for you and looking forward….really looking forward… reading your book. :)

    Love, Your Pretend Friend from the Internet

  92. Congratulations on your book deal, Sophie! I love your blog and I will read any book that you write! Can’t wait to read it! :)

  93. Sophie, I’m so excited for you! And i have to say, I’m not a bit surprised that you are writing an honest to goodness book. Who’d a thunk when we started blogging some years ago that it would lead to this for you???