Embracing August: My Unforgettable Journey Back Home and Beyond
August has always been a time of both reflection and anticipation, marking the transition from the carefree days of summer to the cozy embrace of autumn, my favorite season of all. As a mother of five, this month means one thing in our house: back-to-school shopping. It used to be finding the perfect backpacks and a trip to Lonnie Young for just the right pair of shoes, but now it’s a flurry of Amazon packages piling up on my front porch for college supplies and apartment decor. Boy, can my daughter decorate a room electronically without ever leaving the house?!
Though I’ve been an "empty nester" for a year now, having my children back this summer has made it even harder to say goodbye to them as they travel back to their campuses. It never gets easier. The last week they were home was especially difficult, knowing it would be months before I would see them again. To lift my spirits, I do what I do best—cook! To celebrate our last summer meal together, I spent an entire afternoon in my kitchen preparing their favorite meal…taco night with all the fixins’ (as we say in the south). Ground beef, shredded chicken, homemade pico, black beans, two types of rice, and quesadillas filled my kitchen island. What a great mom, right? I really thought I was the cool parent by giving them an unforgettable night, but think again! My husband had other plans that day and one-upped me by going SKY DIVING with one of our sons. Yep, they jumped out of a plane. It looks like I need a bigger playbook next summer if I want to compete with him.
But my month wasn’t only about being consumed as a mother, I was also busy promoting my debut novel, Where the Grass Grows Blue, which had its own eventful August by making Red Adept’s Bestseller’s list for the fourth consecutive month. I can’t thank you enough for your belief in this story, its characters, and the town of Camden. But that’s not all! Where the Grass Grows Blue didn’t just make this list; it rose to new heights by becoming the bestselling book for the month of July. Your reviews, your recommendations, your conversations—they all played a significant role in getting this book here. Thank you.
August was also a big travel month for me, both professionally and personally. From Aruba to Kentucky, I covered some ground. My first trip was up I-65, heading for Bowling Green for my first in-person book signing event for Where the Grass Grows Blue at Barnes and Noble. What a wonderful afternoon it was—connecting with readers, seeing old friends, and reminiscing with relatives. I love Bowling Green, which isn’t just a place to me; it played an important role in my life’s story. In my childhood, it was the "big" city, where every street corner held the promise of adventure, and later it was my home for four years while I pursued higher education at Western Kentucky University. Raferty’s, Murray's, and the Greenwood Mall—those were some happy times. But that wasn’t my only trip "home.” A week later, I returned for an in-person book club.
Diving into the world of book clubs this month has been an absolute delight, with not one but three in-person events. Bowling Green, Brentwood, and Belle Meade, the experience has been nothing short of thrilling. The enthusiasm, thought-provoking questions, and attention to detail left me utterly speechless. If you would like to discuss Where the Grass Grows Blue for your book club and would like me to attend either in person or virtually through Zoom or Streamyard, visit my website and fill out this form. BTW, I love to bring goodies and swag inspired by my book.
I capped off my August travel adventures by heading south, and do I mean south, to Aruba for a trip celebrating a dear friend’s birthday. The island’s pristine white-sand beaches were nothing short of mesmerizing, and the food was divine. One afternoon, we embarked on a captivating catamaran trip, where the sun's descent into the horizon was a breathtaking spectacle. So much so, that I jumped into the water, which is a rare event because I’m not a big swimmer. Plus, I avoid boats at all costs. However, the beauty of Mother Nature took over, and I was swept away in the moment.
More August Highlights...
• I added a new feature on my Instagram page, introducing my Weekend Grateful graphics. According to an NPR article, making a gratitude list enriches your emotional well-being and can have incredible effects on physical health, by potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and depression. Do you make lists too?
• My interview with Annie Cathryn, the author of "The Friendship Breakup," for Bookish Road Trip's “Author Take the Wheel.” Annie took us on a journey through the pages of her thought-provoking book, delving into the complexities of friendship dynamics and the emotional rollercoaster of breaking up with a friend. If you haven't yet embarked on the literary adventure that is Bookish Road Trip, don't miss out! Click here to join this exciting community.
• I was asked to do a "Mall Talk" for the Mall at Green Hills. What an honor and thrill to film this right here in my adopted hometown!
To wrap up this post, I’m continuing my feature of sharing a recipe for a food I write about in Where the Grass Grows Blue. Recipe three is from Chapter 12—"Amazing Gracie". Y’all, this “salad” is one of my all-time favorites. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for any occasion. Enjoy!
Frozen Strawberry Fluff Salad
¾ cup of sugar
8oz. cream cheese, softened
9oz. frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
20oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
10oz. Cool Whip
1 sliced banana, optional
In a large bowl, blend together the sugar and cream cheese. Add the strawberries, pineapple, banana slices, then fold in the cool whip. Freeze in a 9 x 13 pan or casserole dish.
Three things I’m Obsessed With in August:
1. Tyler Childers. If you have not listened to his music, you are missing out. I’m a huge fan, and this month I fell in love with two of his songs: his latest single, In Your Love, and his remake of Help Me Make it Through the Night. He’s a genius, and he’s a fellow Kentuckian.
2. My "Grand" Dawg…Dusky. She’s the most amazing dog on Earth, second only to my writing partner, Harley. I was able to "babysit" one weekend, and I was in heaven.
3. Culaccino’s. I discovered this amazing Italian restaurant in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, only five miles from my house, by accident. I love everything about this place. Wow!
Until next time…