Monday, December 27, 2010


You may recall that every year I choose one little word to be my focal point. I'm not sure yet what my word will be for 2011, but I can tell you that 2010's word was "celebrate."

And celebrate I did!

Delivering a debut novel to the world has been a grand adventure. I've learned so much about myself and met so many wonderful people I would never have known otherwise. I am so grateful.

Here's the hard data an intense look at my calendar revealed:

100 + formal presentations
11 states
30 schools
16 bookstores
13 libraries
9 conferences
3 quilt guilds
3 Skype visits
2 book festivals


10,000 + miles on my van!

So many fantastic moments... some heartbreakers, too. Ups and downs and all-arounds.

Was it worth it?

This came up on the Class of 2k10 listsrv recently, because book promotion is such a confusing world to navigate, and because we live in a culture that is driven by the one number I didn't list above: number of books sold.

I'm curious about how many books have sold (and how my efforts affect that number), and I look forward to my next royalty statement. But that's not how I measure worth. It is simply ONE indicator of success.

Writing and sharing stories with others, making those human connections-- that's my purpose. And while I don't expect/plan to live another year quite like 2010, I am proud and pleased that I spent so much time these past months in celebration of what I love. Ultimately the measure of worth has to come from within. Only you can answer that question for yourself.

My answer: YES

And THAT is something to celebrate.

Friday, December 24, 2010


For Christmas Eve Poetry Friday, I thought I'd share a video. Check it out! Then head on over to A Year of Reading for roundup!

and here it is in print:

Love Poem with Christmas Lights
That first Christmas without
your mother, I watched you unpack

a box marked Decorations.
First you unfurled the crumpled garland,

straightened the plaid ribbon
and worked to reshape the swag

into something resembling evergreen.
Then you set about repairing

the broken hooks on plastic ornaments,
broken plastic attached to intact hooks.

And when the Christmas lights failed
to blink, even after you removed

the busted bulbs and twisted
new ones in their place, you shook

your head and said, I can’t fix this.
Then you gently placed the lights

back inside the box, gathered wrench
and ratchet, began to build our son a bike.

- Irene Latham


Monday, December 13, 2010


Every year there are really excellent books that don't get stars from reviewers or achieve NYT Bestseller status or find the audience who would certainly adore them.

And when you consider these statistics (provided on the listsrv by our new Southern-Breeze co-RA Claudia Pearson), it's not all that surprising that great books slip by unnoticed:
"According to Table 1 /American Book Production, 2004-2009, on pages 484-485, in 2009 the number of children's book titles published was 21,878, and the number of young adult book titles published was 4,644.
These are preliminary numbers and do not indicate how many were work for hire texts."

The market is so big that only a small number can rise to the public's attention. (MOCKINGJAY, anyone?) It's enough to break a book-loving girl's heart. When I read a book I love, but no one seems to have heard of it, it gives me that shout-it-from-the-rooftops feeling. I want everyone else to share my joy. And there's something American about it too -- rooting for the underdog.

So here's two of my favorite books from 2010 that you may not have heard of:
SEA by Heidi R. Kling (contemporary YA, romance, exotic locale)

BIRTHMARKED by Caraugh O'Brien (dystopian, first of series, amazing world-building)

Did YOU read any overlooked books this year? If so, give 'em a shout-out!

Friday, December 10, 2010


As we move into 2011, I am thinking POETRY! Of course I am pretty much always thinking poetry, but you know. I'm thinking it extra right now. And as there are a number of poetry books with giveaways at Goodreads -- THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS among them -- well, it seemed worth of a blog post.

I am SO EXCITED to deliver this book to the world... would love for one of my faithful readers to win. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Color of Lost Rooms (Perfect Paperback) by Irene Latham

The Color of Lost Rooms

by Irene Latham

Giveaway ends December 31, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, December 9, 2010


How 'bout this sweet little gingerbread village?? Adorable, and so much fun with some sweet girls in my life:
Vonda, who awarded prizes that had us howling!
Lisa, whose cute ornament I was so very happy to win in the ornament exchange. It's now sparkling on my tree.
Randee, who decided to decorate a wee village we all thought belonged in the Appalachian foothills.
Lori and Trina, who teamed up to create this charmer... talk about curb appeal!
Martha, who got out of the ghetto this year! Here she is being all Vanna White.
And the Grand Dame of the Party, Phyllis, who brought lace and buttons and little blinky candles! She was SO CUTE when she dashed over to add a sprinkle of powdered sugar for a lovely snowy touch.

To Carol, Sally, Julie & Rhonda: we missed you!! Looking forward to next year. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010


So, in my effort to continue to be the best presenter I can be, I read this book by Tony Jeary.

I sort of wish I'd read it a long time ago. As it is, I found it validating, in that I already do a lot of the things recommended here. Like scope out the room early to reduce the "surpirse" element, involve the audience, keep a "Presentations Arsenal" of quotes, stories, statistics, visuals, etc. to enhance your presentations.

But I did pick up a few new tips:

Tell the audience "why" your message is important. This focuses not only you, but the audience.

Start with a bang and get right to the meat of your message because "most audiences spend the first 3 minutes of the presentation sizing up the presenter."

Use "breathing spaces" to allow your audience an oportunity to reflect on what you've just said. This can be taking a sip of water, whipping out a great prop, asking for audience participation.

Make people feel smart, not stupid. In other words, don't ask them questions hoping they won't know the answer. Frame your information in a way that reduces that discomfort. "When possible, set your audience up to win."

Use an evaluation tool to not only help you improve your presentation in the future, but also to provide a takeaway to reinforce your message.

Happy presenting, all!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Ummm, yeah. Youngest son was not feeling the Joy at the tree farm this year. And now we have this picture to remember the day FOREVER.

Thanks, Eric, for making us laugh. A lot.

We love you even when you're grumpy. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So I was reading this article in Ode Magazine by Rabbi Rami called Standing Barefoot before God about the "agony and ecstasy of writing as a spiritual practice."

Rabbi Rami cites the Gospel According to Thomas:

"Don't cease seeking until you find. When you find you will be troubled. When you're troubled, you will marvel. And when you marvel, you will reign over all."

I wish there was a cyber link to this article. Instead I guess y'all will have to go out and buy the magazine instead!

Or, even better: GO OUT AND MARVEL.

Speaking of marveling...the lovely spiderweb photograph is by my amazing sis Lynn Baker. We are producing some postcard swag for THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS that include her photo and my poem "The Faith of Spiders."

Stay tuned!