I’m so glad for this interview today. You’ve been writing for a while, I know, and have about 60 books published. Can you tell us what genre you write and a little of your writing journey?
I write southern women’s fiction, inspirational romance, and cozy mysteries. Before I wrote fiction, I wrote articles for parenting publications and health journals. I’ve always been an avid reader, so when my husband challenged me to write a book, I gave it a try. Then I was hooked.
You’re featuring three books today! What are they?
I’ve read those, and they have some wonderful characters. Can you give us a short summary or back copy blurb from them?
Pretty Is as Pretty Does: Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she’s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren’t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth―and she may be surprised at what she discovers.
Bless Her Heart: As Priscilla Slater’s 15-year class reunion approaches, she decides to attend out of curiosity… and to flaunt her latest achievement―taking her business to a national level with the possibility of a TV show. As if getting ready for the event and putting up with the pranks of her former classmates isn’t enough, Priscilla’s hometown visit is further complicated by her parents’ separation. With the once-solid sanctuary of her home broken at the foundation, there’s only one thing Priscilla’s parents can agree on: no matter what sort of accolades their daughter receives as a hair stylist, she’s not living up to her potential. Eager to escape the painful reality of her childhood home, Priscilla bolts as soon as a call from New York brings good news: her offer to purchase one of the best salons in the country is likely to come through. But returning to New York means returning to Tim, Priscilla’s best friend and business pal who has been impatiently suggesting their relationship should be more than a friendship. Despite her recent achievements, will Priscilla learn that success doesn’t always result in popularity―or love?
Tickled Pink: Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger―as if she has to be reminded.
What do you do when you sit down to write? Do you listen to a certain type of music or eat chocolate or exercise? Anything special?
I prefer total silence when I write. My most productive times are extremely early in the morning, like around 6:00 AM, and I am able to go until around noon. For some reason, I typically get a second burst of energy late at night, after my husband goes to sleep. I walk at least 10,000 steps per day, and during that time, I work on scenes and dialogue in my head.
What is something unique or amusing about yourself or your life that we would like to know?
I’m an eavesdropper. Most of my dialogue is inspired by conversations I wasn’t supposed to hear. I occasionally slip up and interject. Surprisingly, most of the time it works out just fine.
That’s funny. I wonder if you tell them you’re a writer. I think most people would go with that. Give us a short biography about yourself and tell us how we can contact you (fb, twitter, website).
Debby Mayne has published more than 60 books and novellas, 400 print short stories and articles, more than 2,000 web articles, and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For the past 12 years, she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition. Three of Debby’s books have been top ten favorites by the Heartsong Presents book club. Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars and was named a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times Magazine.
Connect with Debby at
*GIVEAWAY!* All 3 books (paperback only) in this series will be given to the winner of a drawing. Anyone who makes a comment on this post on my blog (http://lindarodante.com) or on my author facebook page (Linda K. Rodante) under this post will be put in for a drawing. On Monday, following this blog, a winner will be drawn and their name will be given to the author who will contact them and arrange for the book to be sent. You could win all 3 books in the Class Reunion series!
Can we read the first chapter of Pretty Is As Pretty Does?
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
We are thrilled to announce
Piney Point High School’s
10 year reunion
on June 10 at 7:30 PM
in Piney Point High’s
Newly renovated gymnasium.
Attire: Sunday best
RSVP: Laura Moss 601-555-1515
PS: There will be a pre-party
At Shenanigans in Hattiesburg
Starting at about 5:00 PM.
Wow. Ten years. As I read my high school reunion invitation a second time, I can’t help but smile. Although I still own one of the most successful businesses in my hometown of Piney Point, Mississippi, I’ve lost track of most of the people I graduated with.
I’m not surprised Laura added the pre-party to the invitation. Her husband has never attended any social event before pre-partying his face off—even in high school. Pete Moss graduated with the distinct honor of high school lush, and as far as I know, he continues to hold that honor, which is ironic since I don’t remember ever seeing Laura touching a drop of anything stronger than her mama’s two-day old sweet tea.
This is going to be one insane event—one I’m not sure I’ll attend. But just in case, I pin the invitation to the bulletin board beside the fridge. And for an extra measure of reminding, I jot the date on my calendar. In pencil.
As I kick off my nearly four inch heels, I make a mental list of the pros and cons of being there. If I were to be totally honest with myself, I sort of want to go. Even though this will be one major impress-a-thon, and I haven’t lived up to my parents’ expectations, I’ve taken a small-town beauty shop and turned it into a mega business—one of the most successful in the history of Piney Point. And I’m not ready to stop there. I already have three shops—the original that used to be called Dolly’s Cut ‘n Curl, one in Hattiesburg that formerly held the title Goldy’s Locks, and the salon where my current office is located in Jackson. In honor of my first salon, they are all called Prissy’s Cut ’n Curl, although I’m seriously considering changing the name to something a little trendier since I’m planning to expand. I mean, really, can you imagine anyone in New York City telling her friends she gets her hair done at the Cut ‘n Curl? Besides, I hate being called Prissy. I named it that because Prissy is easier to spell than Priscilla.
I’ll never forget Mother’s reaction when she found out I’d dropped out of my first semester of college and enrolled at the Pretty and Proud School of Cosmetology. You’d have thought I announced I wanted to pledge Phi Mu or something. No offense to anyone in Phi Mu. It’s just that Mother was a Chi Omega, and that makes me a legacy, which carries even more clout than being Miss Piney Point, something I never was.
My parents are super proud academians to the nth degree. Mother is a professor of English, and Dad is the head of the History department at the Piney Point Community College. Both of them got their graduate degrees at the University of Southern Mississippi, and Mother started her career there (as the administrative assistant in the school of Music until a tenured position opened up). Dad refused to do anything but teach, so when two perfect positions opened at PPCC in Dad’s hometown, they jumped on them. Now you’d think they were tenured professors at an Ivy League college the way they carry on.
I try hard to ignore the growling sound rumbling in my belly. But when the noise turns to hissing, I relent and pull a Lean Cuisine from the freezer. I know how to cook, but it seems rather pointless to do that for one. I also know that one Lean Cuisine isn’t enough, so while it heats in the microwave, I grab a bag of premixed, prewashed salad and dump the contents into a bowl. Then I chop a tomato, grab a few olives, and pour a tablespoon of ranch dressing on top. I step back and study the salad before I squirt another tablespoon or two. The salad’s full of fiber and the Lean Cuisine is low-fat, so I figure that balances out the extra calories.
Just as I’m about to sit down and enjoy dinner, the phone rings. It has to be Mother, I think. She’s the only one who ever calls my house phone. I hesitate with the temptation of not answering, but my daughterly duties overcome me. What if she needs something? I’d never be able to live with the guilt if I didn’t answer an important call from the woman who gave birth to me after twenty hours of labor, or so she tells folks when they ask why I’m an only child.
“Did you get your invitation yet?” she asks without letting me finish my hello.
Leave it to Mother to know about the reunion before me. “Yes, but I’m not sure I’m going.”
“There’s really no point, Priscilla. After all, it’s all about showing off all your accomplishments, and it’s not like you’ve made all that much of your life.”
I want to let Mother know how I really feel, but I somehow manage to keep my yap shut. So she takes that as encouragement to keep going.
“That silly-frilly little job of yours will get old one of these days, and then what will you do?”
“Mother, you know it’s more than a job to me.”
She laughs, which annoys me to no end. “All you do is decorate the outside of women—”
“Some of our clients are men,” I remind her.
“Okay, so you work on the outer appearance of women…and men. How does that really make any difference in the world? You could have been so much more than that, Priscilla. Your father and I—”
“My business makes a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives, Mother. Not only do our clients feel better about themselves, I keep a couple dozen people employed so they can feed their families.”
“Well, there is that.” Mother pauses as she reloads. “At any rate, I agree with your decision not to attend the reunion.”
“I didn’t say I decided not to go. All I said was…” What did I say? Mother got me in such a dither I can’t remember.
“Do you want all your old classmates to see you in braces? Your father and I figured that was why you haven’t shown your face in town in the past year. I’m surprised you even have a salon left. You know the saying about what the mice do when the cat’s away.”
“I hire only people I can trust,” I tell her through gritted teeth. “And the braces are coming off soon.”
“So are you going to the reunion or not?”
“I’m not sure.”
Mother lets out one of her long-suffering sighs. “Okay, sounds like you’re not letting pride get in your way. Just be sure if you decide to go, give us plenty of notice so we can clear our schedule for your visit. Your father and I have social obligations, since he’s the head of his department.”
“Yes, I know, Mother.” Ever since Dad’s promotion, Mother likes to remind me of his position. And it’s been at least three years. “Whatever I decide, there’s no need to clear your schedule.”
“You know you’re always welcome to stay here at the house,” she adds.
Naturally, I assume so. “Thank you, Mother.”
“And don’t forget to bring your church clothes. We’re not like your church in the city. We still show our respect by dressing nicely.”
“Yes, I know.”
I hear Dad calling out to her, so I’m relieved when she tells me she needs to run. After hanging up, I lean against the wall and slide to the floor, never mind the fact that I’m wearing black pants, and Fluffy, the neighbor lady’s cat I took in while she went on her cruise, has left a fine blanket of white cat hair throughout my townhouse—enough to build a new cat from the contents of my vacuum canister.
All the way to my office the next morning, Mother’s voice rings through my head. “Someday you’ll thank me for this,” she said when she dropped me off on the steps of my dorm at Ole Miss. She went there for undergraduate work, and she reminds me it’s always good to start out away from home so I get a taste of being on my own but with a safety net—as if I’m arguing about where I’m going to college. that wasn’t the case, though. My argument was that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go to college.
I pull into the parking lot of my Jackson shop and open the car door. Before getting out, I sit there and stare at the two-story, red-brick building with an upscale salon on the ground level and my office upstairs. This is the first salon I built from the ground up, and I’m mighty proud of its success in the two short years since I’ve been there. The newspaper reporter who last did a story on me claims I’m lucky in business. In reality, I did a year-long study and determined this location has the most potential for growth, with the nearby old, decrepit mansions being bought for a song, divided up and renovated into apartments, and sold for a fortune. Then there’s the artsy-fartsy nature of the twenty-something, fresh-out-of-college hot-snots moving into those apartments. Finally, I get out of the car, grab my briefcase, and head up the side staircase to my office. Before I open the door, I know Tim is here by the fresh scent of Abercrombie and Fitch’s latest cologne for men.
“Looky what the cat drug in.”
“What are you doing here so early, Tim?” I toss my briefcase into the tiny office behind my assistant Mandy who is too busy opening mail and acting like she’s minding her own business for me to think she’s not getting a kick out of my annoyance. “Any messages?”
“Just got here, Prissy. You got a ton of mail from yesterday.”
“I need to talk to Sven. It’s just not right for all our mail to get here after we leave.”
“I know, right?” Mandy cuts a glance over at Tim then rolls her eyes toward me.
“So are you here for my order?” I ask Tim who remains seated…and quiet, in one of the three chairs across from Mandy’s desk.
Tim is a sales rep for his uncle’s beauty supply company, and he covers most of the center of the state. If he gives all his customers the attention he gives me, he’d never have time to sleep. Even Mandy has noticed.
“I thought I’d take you to breakfast.”
I fold my arms and arch an eyebrow as I study him. “What’s the occasion?”
He shrugs. “I dunno. I thought maybe we could talk about your reunion.”
“Are you kidding me?” I shriek. “You know about the reunion?”
“Um…” He glances over at Mandy who shrugs and busies herself with some paperwork that’s been sitting on her desk for a week. Finally, he turns to me and meets my gaze with challenge. “Yeah. I talked to Sheila last week when I stopped by your salon in Piney Point.”
Sheila’s the hairdresser I put in charge of the Piney Point salon when I left to open the Jackson office. “Why did you stop by there? I do all my ordering here.”
If Tim doesn’t stop shrugging so much, his shoulders will get stuck. “Old times sake, and all that.” He stands. “So if you don’t have a date, I’m available.”
It’s no surprise that Tim has a crush on me, even though he’s at least three years my junior. And since I have no desire to be called a cougar…and you know that’s exactly what will happen if we even hint we’re a couple…I’ve resisted all his advances. Besides, the chemistry isn’t there for me. “It’s two months away, Tim. I have no idea what I’m doing that night.”
Instead of hanging back, he follows me into my office. “At least think about it. We’ve been friends for a long time, and you can totally be yourself with me.” He holds both hands out to his sides and makes one of his goofy faces. “My mama taught me good manners, so you won’t have to worry about me. I know which fork to use for the salad, and I even have my own tux.”
I can’t help but laugh. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Yeah, you start with the outside silverware and work your way toward the plate.”
“No, Tim,” I say slowly. “I’m talking about the tux. You seriously own one?”
“But why?” I leave out the part about how he has always fancied himself a redneck, and even if he hadn’t come out and said that, I would’ve known the instant he told me he owns every single book Lewis Grizzard and Jeff Foxworthy ever wrote.
All satisfied and full of himself, he replies, “It’s from my stand-up comic days, back before I came to work for Uncle Hugh.”
That explains a lot. “I’ll have to let you know, Tim, but first, tell me why my last hair color order is taking so long.”
“I take it you don’t want to go to breakfast?”