When people ask me what is one of the great benefits to come from the writing life that I did not anticipate, I have a quick and easy answer – meeting people like Lisa Patton that I now call my friend!

First of all, I want to say congratulations to the very talented, Susan Gregg Gilmore. She certainly deserves a spot on Target’s Emerging Author list and BEZELLIA is the perfect book to place on the shelf. I loved that book the minute I read it and I can’t believe it’s already out in paperback.

It’s not every day that two authors connect and bond as easily as Susan and I have. Since meeting each other less than two years ago we’ve become fast, steadfast buds. We’ve road-tripped together on several occasions and even tried to plan a bus tour around the South. We might not have the details down for that one, but I have no doubt we’ll be singing camp songs down the Dixie trails soon enough.

Me and Lisa relaxing on the beach a few days after SIBA.

My favorite memory with Susan was at the SIBA convention last year in Daytona Beach, Florida. SIBA is the acronym for Southern Independent Booksellers Association and Fannie Flagg (my literary hero) was the opening night, keynote speaker. I imagine that I must have been the first person to send in my check for the dinner (I sent it the day SIBA made the announcement – six months prior) and after it was over I told Susan that I was going to stand in line to meet her, no matter how long it took.

Susan who knew of my life-long admiration and awe for Miss Flagg, offered to go with me and the two of us lined up behind many other book lovers, each eager to take home a memory, an autographed book or a photograph with the one and only Fannie Flagg. Forty-five minutes later and just seconds away from my big moment, out of nowhere and much to my horror and downright mortification, I burst out crying.

Lisa still in shock after meeting Fannie.

I can’t tell you why or what in the world came over me but I could not stop the tears to save my life. Right before it became our turn to say hello, I scurried off through the crowd, informing Susan that I would not meet Fannie Flagg acting like a star-struck nincompoop. I was carrying on like I was preparing to meet Paul McCartney, for goodness sakes.

While hiding behind a column and chomping on the inside of my jaw to make the tears just stop for crying out loud, I hear my name called over the crowd. The next thing I know Susan has dragged poor Fannie over to me and now there’s nowhere to run. Naturally, Fannie could tell by my mascara smudges and red face that I was overcome with emotion but she never let on that she noticed. Susan and I were both bowled over by her grace and southern gentility.

I told Lisa it's clear who Fannie loves!

I have no idea how but something came over me and I wrestled up all my courage and asked if Fannie would consider reading my second book and possibly offering a quote if she was so inclined. After all, a blurb from Fannie Flagg would be my ultimate dream come true and this was my only chance to ask. As is the case with most happy endings, I am happy to report that not only do I have my Fannie Flagg blurb for my latest book, Yankee Doodle Dixie, but I have one from Susan Gregg Gilmore, too! After it was all over, Susan quipped that if she had known that all she had to do was break down crying in front of Fannie for a blurb, she would have done it first.

At a reading later that year in Nashville, Lisa shares all with a patient Fannie.

P.S. Don’t mind my red eyes and red nose in the picture. I’d just made a fool out of myself boo-hooing in front of Fannie Flagg.

Lisa’s first book, Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter is available in paperback now.  Her second and the enchanting sequel to the first, Yankee Doodle Dixie, is due out in hardcover on September.

Posted August 9, 2011 at 9:24 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment


  1. bermudaonion (Kathy), August 9th, 2011, 9:56 am

    I remember that moment at SIBA very well. Book lovers understand the tears, because for us, meeting an author is like meeting Paul McCartney!

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Susan Gregg Gilmore