• Hope Gibbs

There’s a first time for everything…

Welcome to my first blog post. Ever! In this space, I want to share parts of my life with you. Little observations. What inspires me. Perhaps I’ll reveal a few family recipes along the way (I have a ton of those thanks to my late Granny Gibbs from Kentucky). Maybe even a couple of unbelievable, yet completely true stories that have happened to me. Like the time when a car drove through the front door of my house, missing me by inches. That was a fun day. And of course, I want to share how Where The Grass Grows Blue, my Women’s Fiction novel tentatively debuting in 2023, came to life.

So, for my first “blog” entry, I’ve decided to give you insights into my writing process and brain. At least, I’m hoping there’s one in there somewhere. So let’s get started!

First, a little about myself. I live in Brentwood, Tennessee, with my husband, Patrick. I’m a mother of five, yes I said FIVE, children, and I’m a competitive tennis player in my spare time. Though my athletic obsession has left me with scars on my legs from three knee surgeries, I can’t imagine life without it. I’m also an avid reader and can tear through a book in an afternoon on the rare occasion I’m not driving all over the mid-state watching my children play sports or whipping up a dinner for the family. Seven mouths to feed over the years have kept me busy in the kitchen.

From homemaker to author? Please explain.

After taking an inventory of my life a few years ago, I realized I was a little lost. Who am I and where do I see myself in ten years? Confused by this middle-aged quandary and the looming empty nest barreling my way, I decided I needed to write a new chapter in my life. Shake things up a bit. But being the type A person I am, I didn’t write a chapter, I wrote a book instead. Where The Grass Grows Blue is my sixth baby. Certainly, the hardest and longest one to deliver.

Favorite place to write?

On a beach. Give me a chair, an umbrella, some salty air and I’m raring to go. A lazy glass of afternoon Chardonnay doesn’t hurt either. My beach bag always contains sunscreen, water (which I pretend I’ll drink but rarely passes through my lips because I’m a camel), a multitude of hats because I need options, and my laptop. I never leave home without it. Parts of Where The Grass Grows Blue were written near the ocean. From the velvety sands of Blue Mountain Beach on 30A to the sugary ones in Naples. However, the grainy powder that’s provided me with the most inspiration and has put the most writing miles on my keyboard would be Sea Island, Georgia. My happy place. When my foot touches the hard sands of the Golden Isles, I’m transported and transformed. Nothing compares.

Most productive place to write?

A chair in my family room after everyone in the house has settled down for the evening. For me, it’s hard to write at a desk. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman of short stature and my feet can’t touch the ground while sitting (picture Edith Ann, for those old enough to understand the reference). Where I get down to business is on a piece of furniture that I’ve tried to replace multiple times. But I can't. Don’t ask my husband because it’s a touchy subject in our house. Worn out and shedding feathers daily, I curl up and write in that tattered chair. It’s ugly. But it’s mine.

My writing buddy?

Harley, our seven pound, elderly Shih Tzu. We adopted him as a senior dog (there’s a long backstory there), so he was already set in his ways by the time he strutted into our house. The second I laid eyes on him, it was obvious there was a new sheriff in town and it wasn’t me. Like most divas, he came with a list of demands. First, he only eats on white paper towels, and you better not be late with meal times or he’ll bark at you until you comply with his wishes. Second, his water bowl must have the freshest H2O in it at all times. If not, he’ll stare you down with a look that will send a shiver down your spine until his standards are met. Third, he refuses to sleep anywhere other than on a bed, my bed, and he has no problem pushing me off my pillow if he wants it for his own. And finally, he has a penchant for dressing up and has the wardrobe to prove it. Flannel pajamas are his favorite.

For five years, I’ve been bending over backwards trying to win over his elusive affections, yet I’ve failed. He’s never wagged his tail in my direction. Or licked my hand out of gratitude, though he’s snapped at it more than a few times. Simply put, Harley doesn’t like me, let alone love me. He only tolerates my presence because he loathes being alone more. However, I can’t sit in my writing chair without him. He won’t tolerate being left on the floor. Pushing me and my comfort aside, he sleeps next to my right hip while I furiously type out sentences before pounding the delete key. Though we have a complicated relationship, and I’m convinced he’s secretly plotting my demise, he’s been with me on my writing journey from the start. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps our story will become a book someday. But what genre? Children’s? Young Adult? Horror? Or better yet, a blog post. Harley and Me…A Classic Story of Unrequited Love. Stay tuned.

My other writing buddy?

A long-lost friend who I reconnected with over social media a few years ago. She was my next-door neighbor in middle school when I was reeling from the breakup of my family and the loss of the only home I’d ever known. As twelve-year-old girls, we cemented our friendship over divorce, cheerleading, slumber parties, and leg warmers. Today, as grown women, we have formed a special bond through our love of writing. She’s an incredible storyteller and has published several children’s books. Maybe there’s a story there too.

Weirdest place to write?

Sporting events. Basketball gyms and soccer fields all over the state of Tennessee have provided me with a space to write. Instead of half-time chit chats with other parents, sometimes I pull out my laptop and work. One of my favorite chapters came to fruition during one of my daughter’s lacrosse games. A peach cobbler and the ramifications of heating it up might have happened in between my daughter’s goals. (Side note, Ansley is an incredible, sometimes vicious athlete. And I love it.)

What authors inspire me?

Anyone who dares to write a book. If you have the nerve and gumption to throw yourself out into the world with your words, I salute you. However, I gravitate towards Women’s Fiction. Hello, it’s what I write, but it’s not the only thing I read.

My favorites:

Elin Hilderbrand. The queen of the beach read. Someone who has the discipline to write a book every year, if not more. One day, I’ll make it to Nantucket!

Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence. The perfect book. There’s nothing left to say or add.

Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl. Best twist. Ever.

Jodi Picoult. She makes me think. And cry.

John Grisham. The Firm. The first book I read after college for fun. I never miss an opportunity to spend some time in his legal domain.

George R.R. Martin. Yes, I also enjoy fantasy novels as well, and no one has created a more interesting world than this man. Don’t judge me, but I also love The Lord of the Rings.

Stephen King. Because he’s Stephen King and is a literary genius. Misery is my personal favorite.

LaRecea Gibbs. My mother. She was an English teacher in Scottsville, Kentucky, with a master’s degree in writing. Two years before her death, she wrote a book about my brother, Todd, who battled cystic fibrosis and sadly passed away in 1995. Not a Wasted Breath was her one and only novel, but she put all her heart and raw emotions into it. A mother watching her child fight so valiantly against an insidious monster will rip anyone’s heart out.

Jennifer Weiner, Sue Monk Kidd, Delia Owens, Mary Kay Andrews, Jennifer Klepper, Cindy Dorminy, Sarah Penner, Emily Giffin, Lisa Patton, Kathryn Stockett…the list goes on.

So let’s start this blogging journey together. One word, one post at a time.

Who’s ready?

P.S. If I don’t post anything new within a few weeks, you’ll know that Harley’s diabolical plot against me has finally succeeded.