Friday, April 29, 2011

Update and Guest Post: Olivia deBelle Byrd Cooley

Hello, Reader Friends.  We've had a bout of bad weather here in my neck of the woods, so I haven't been around for the past few days.  We live in one of the North Georgia towns that was particularly hard hit by the tornadoes and storms.  Thankfully, we made it through with only a small amount of damage to our roof and all of us are safe.  We had to leave town to stay with my parents because we didn't have power or water.  We brought the dogs with us and left the cat with plenty of food and water, thinking we'd be able to get back by the end of the day, but that wasn't the case.  Tonight they are finally letting residents back into the city and we will get to go home and check on the poor kitty who has been alone for over a day now.  Hopefully we will have power and water, but some homes are still without and will be without until next week.  We won't know until we're able to get home tonight.  Please pray for our area and for those in TN, AL, MS, and VA who were affected.  Many lives were lost and entire towns (including ours) have been destroyed.  So many have lost their homes and businesses.  We appreciate all your prayers!  Later I will try to post ways you can help if you'd like to support the communities that have been affected.

Since I've been occupied with trying to round up my family and live with the few things we were able to throw in a bag before evacuating, I haven't had a chance to write any posts.  Instead, I'm going to use this time for a guest post from a Southern author I admire and enjoy, Olivia deBelle Byrd Cooley.  She writes humorous Southern stories about her life.  I love that she sent this story, since I met her for the first time at a book signing!  Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face as well!

A funny thing happened before a recent book signing of my published book Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. A new library had just been built in my hometown and the library foundation had graciously asked me to do a book signing. The event would be complete with a Southern tea and beautiful belles in antebellum dresses using the catchy theme “Books and Belles.” The Sunday before this lovely event, the announcement came out in our local newspaper, but due to a sleepy proof editor the event was billed “Books and Bellies—A Taste of the South.” The head of the library foundation immediately called with the words, “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My friend said to look on the bright side—maybe a lot of people will come just to see exactly what she is going to do!”

I assured this gracious gal that if they were expecting a belly dance they would be sorely disappointed. As I explained, “I was raised by a host of Southern women and threatened within an inch of my life if I ever showed my belly in public. I am still not over it. This belly has yet to see the light of day.”

As my birthright, I passed this on to my daughter. It is true I had to give in to bikinis, but if she were not within two inches of a beach, her belly was not to be seen. Before she left the house, I even made her perform the “belly test,” as she exasperatedly called it. She had to raise both arms so I could be sure her shirt covered every inch of her belly. If you are raised by a slew of Southern women, some lessons stick for life. Trust me on this one!

I have had book signings where tea, homemade pound cake, cheese straws, and Mississippi Mud were served. I have spoken at book clubs, luncheons, garden clubs, and discussion groups. I have been on blogs, guest posts, facebook, and twitter. This author has dressed in a straw brimmed hat, white gloves, camellias, and a brown suit. But I stand my ground on this one. I do not care what the newspaper says. This Southern Belle is not displaying her belly—not even to sell a book!

Olivia deBelle Byrd is a self-proclaimed Southern Belle who resides in Panama City, Florida, with her husband, Tommy. She is the author of Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle, which is her first collection of satirical essays.

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