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Outside Again


By Anita Garner


Finally some of us are seeing each other in person again.  It's been so long.  It wasn't just two years of not gathering, it was also a lot of booking then un-booking during our mutual commitment to staying safe.


I was invited to attend an in-person luncheon last week to discuss my book. If you're new to this protracted book release story all you need to know is that "The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life" was released last year into the pandemic.  All book tour plans changed, not just for me but for all authors.  Some were cancelled, others switched to zoom appearances.


High praise for this gadget I'm in love with. It's been zoom-ing with me for a while and now it goes traveling too. I spotted it during a CBS-TV interview with Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny a while back when they recounted their (remote) co-authoring of a new book.  I load songs onto tablet or phone to demonstrate music. Last week's hostess has Alexa so all she needed was a list of the songs I would play. Alexa had all but one and my trusty iPad carried that one.




This tablet/phone holder swivels,
raises and lowers and has a weighted bottom
(you should pardon the expression.)


We planned to gather in Marin County on a beautiful Spring day.  After not going out much for a while I was a bit behind in the wardrobe department. This trip was a good reason to make the annual transfer. My closet was still stocked with flannel shirts while Spring had crept in again. I put flannel into storage and brought out floral prints.


We were invited to Marilyn's home to share potluck lunch on her beautiful deck in the trees.  Potluck lunch. Friends.  Trees.  Those things can make me smile for days.


Elaine shuttled some of us up the hill in her snappy electric Tesla.  Tricia surprised us with an old fashioned raisin pie baked in honor of Sister Fern's pies featured in The Glory Road.  I'd like to stress here that in-person pie is much more fun than virtual pie.  It was delicious.





Another happy combination: Platters of good food and thoughtful conversations. The group was ready with questions and those who hadn't  yet read the book knew its themes and shared personal observations.  We talked about the South and music and food and religion and family.


As we introduced ourselves around the tables we were invited to state one thing for which we're grateful. Jan offered a toast for the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson  which was happening as we gathered.


Any writer would be honored to be among this group of good souls and open hearts and while I remain happy to zoom everywhere, connecting in person is a gift I'm moving up near the top of my gratitude list.




If your group would like to book a Glory Road discussion, there's a contact form in the menu at the top of this page.  "The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life" is available wherever books are sold.  My publisher, University of Alabama Press, offers a discount for groups or ask your local library to order copies in advance for your book club in  hardcover, eBook and audiobook.


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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

By Anita Garner




New book.  New tour.  We'll get there.


We just clicked "live" on this new website built to introduce my book, "The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life." It's less than three weeks til release date. Thanks to Steve Bradford and Authors Guild for their help.


I'm published and vaccinated and ready to travel if the good Lord's willing and the crick don't rise.  I've been planning a trip from California to the east coast this fall to combine book appearances and visits with friends in New England. I'll rent a car in Boston and ramble around for a few days.


I had in mind taking the train one way and then flying home. I pictured me in a little roomette on Amtrak with lots of magazines and coffee and snacks and waving out the window at places I used to live and working when I feel like it. It could be a leisurely and productive and celebratory kind of journey all in one.


Then I learned from Amtrak that wifi isn't consistent on the train.  They make that clear.  I like my work and with all the connections I need to pursue, wifi is necessary.


My relatives were all train people.  Gramma K migrated from the Deep South to Southern California making several trips by train before enlisting all her Southern relatives to drive cars and trucks in caravans to move her belongings. She never hired a moving van.  We were the van.  Every fall, she trained back from Glendale, CA to Arkansas to be with her kinfolks during leaf season. Arkansas trees are spectacular  and worth the trip.  She  came off the train at Union Station in L.A. every time with a list of names and addresses and phone numbers from people she met onboard.


Mother never flew either, even when it would have been expeditious to do so.  We moved to California when she signed a recording contract, then the record company sent her back to Nashville to record with the backup singers and musicians they'd selected.  They said get here as soon as you can. She said, sure, I'll be right there – on the train.  Later she went out on a tour but got homesick for Daddy, quit part of the way through and cried all the way home – on the train.


Here I sit with my hopes for making this book launch/friend visiting trip, but no set plan for travel yet. No sense buying a super-saver airline ticket months in advance if the savings will disappear due to travel insurance and change fees.


I'll get there in person one way or the other. Meanwhile there are virtual appearances to plan, which is how most books have been launched recently. Mother was an early adopter of innovation  except for airline travel.  She'd have been the first to understand my wifi dilemma.




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