Dreams Do Come True (eventually)! NKOTB May 2017

I confess…I am a Blockhead.  I have loved New Kids on the Block for a very, very long time.  So much so that for my 14th birthday, my party was NKOTB themed.

kami 14

1990

 

My best friends were also Blockheads.  We listened to their albums, knew every word by heart, danced along with the VCR taped concerts, read every tidbit Tiger Beat had to offer, and longed for the day that we could go to their concert all together.

 

the girls 14

Robin, April, Heather, Tanya, and Kami 

We never made it to a concert in our teen years.  Tickets were too costly. Travel was too far. Parents would not approve us going nor would they take us.  But the dream lived on…..

And finally, in May 2017, we made our dream come true!

nkotb 2017 girls

Robin, April, Heather, Misty, and Kami

NKOTB was coming to Nashville and we decided to make the dream come true.  Tanya didn’t want to attend (spoilsport) but our good friend, Misty, drove down from Indiana to meet us.  Misty moved from our hometown the summer before 9th grade but we have stayed in touch over the years.  Along with the five of us, Shannon (my sister-in-law), Denah (friend from Huntsville), Tina, Tammy, & Tammy ( friends from Hamilton & yes, two different Tinas), Jenny and Jamie (Heather’s sisters) all met up for the concert.

nkotb 2017 group

Jamie, Misty, Heather, Denah, Kami, Jenny, April, Shannon, Tammy, Robin, Tina, & Tina

And it was AMAZING!!!!

Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul opened the concert.  Boyz II Men were outstanding! It was awesome to see Paula Abdul dance…she was incredible.  New Kids on the Block did not disappoint! It was Jordan Knight’s birthday and Carrie Underwood came out to serenade him.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better…..Big and Rich came out and joined NKOTB for a song.  We wrapped up the night with Taco Bell and girl talk at the hotel.  The next morning, we ate brunch together before heading back to our homes.

Birthday wishes do come true…you just might have to wait a few decades!

For me, the best moment of the concert was not captured in a photo. The boys started singing “I’ll Be Loving You Forever” and I found my surrounded by my bestest friends in the whole world.  As we sang the song together, I thought back to that 14th birthday party.  We sang that song and many others.  Each time we sang it as teens, we were promising in our hearts to love Jordan, Donny, Joe, Danny, & Jon forever.  This time though, surrounded by the girls who have been my constant support for over 20 years, I was singing it to them.  I will be loving you forever.

Reader Riot Book Festival -April 29 -Florence, AL

Reader Riot Book Festival in Florence, Alabama was the perfect way for two University of North Alabama grads to introduce their first book.

Sarah and I had the AMAZING opportunity to give a talk about our book, North Alabama Beer: An Intoxicating History, during the Reader Riot Book Festival in Florence, Alabama. Singin’ River Brewery hosted us and we had a fantastic time!

We had a lot of people to come out and support us.  Many thanks to all those who came out, especially: James, Heather, Steifon, Doc, Leta, Bo, Mandee, Alex, & Olivier.  For me, the talk would not have been the same without one of my biggest fan.  Heather has been right by my side, through the good and the bad, all these years!

After our talk, we headed over to Norton Auditorium to see R.L. Stine.

So what does a couple of UNA grads do after hearing their childhood literary hero speak….of course, we go to Ricatoni’s! We were so happy to introduce our friends Mandee & Alex to Florence and Ricatoni’s!

We had a great time!  The official countdown for the release of the book starts…NOW!!!!!!!!

 

Beer?… Beer!…… Really, Beer?!?

BeerBottle can glassJPG

Huntsville/Madison County Craft Beers         Photo Courtesy of Sarah Belanger

When I tell folks that I have written a book about beer, I get the same reaction from both people who know me as well as complete strangers.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Me:  I wrote a book.

Person: Wow, that’s great, what is it about?

Me: It’s about the history of beer in North Alabama.

Person: Beer?… Beer!……  Really, beer?!?…………  Why?

I can understand their reaction.  Those that know me, know that I was raised in a teetotaler family.  Alcohol was evil and it will lead you straight to Hell.  People who don’t know me very well are shocked that a woman would want to write a book about beer.

Both groups of people wanted to know why I chose this topic and the answer is easy.  I was given the opportunity and I jumped!

In 2015, Sarah, my co-author, and I had decided that we would team up together and write a book together.  We settled on a cookbook based on Huntsville history.  We didn’t have an agent or a publisher but we believed in our project and knew that it would sell if we wrote it.  During the research phase of this project, Sarah got a phone call asking her if she would be interested in writing a history of North Alabama beer. History Press, a well know publisher, was looking for an author to tackle this subject.  Sarah called me, briefed me about the opportunity and asked if I would co-author with her.

K&S Speakeasy

       Kami & Sarah at the Speakeasy                 Photo courtesy of Sarah Belanger     

This was amazing opportunity as neither of us had written a book before.  Sarah is professional writer and food photographer.  Her work has been published in many publications including Southern Living and Betty Crocker.  The next logical step for her was to write a book.  As for me, I am a complete novice.  In college, I majored in history and political science.  I dreamed of researching and writing history books but I really had no idea on how to start.  If nothing else, I now have a deeper understanding of how a book is created.  It is so much more that just writing the content.

I am so thankful that Sarah invited me along on this crazy adventure of researching, writing and editing a history book.

Now you know how the teetotalers’ daughter  grew up to write a book about beer.

I LOVE the Library!

April 9-15, 2017 is International Library Week! Throughout my life, the library has been one of my favorite places to be.  I had the opportunity to share why I love the Huntsville Madison County Public Library.  Check the video out on the HMCPL Facebook page.

HMCPL Facebook Post of my endorsement of the Library

International Library Week Monrovia Library April 9-15, 2017

I have loved the library for as long as I can remember.  Going to the library with my mom  is one of my earliest & favorite memories.  At that time, my small town had a library and a librarian but not a dedicated building for the library.  I don’t remember exactly where the books were housed but I *think* it was a room in City Hall. I do remember, Mrs. Palmer, the librarian, stacks and stacks of books, and signing my name on the check out card so many times that my hand would cramp.  I would check out 10 or more books at time and within three days, I was begging to go back.

In college, I spent many, many, MANY hours lost in the stacks of the University of North Alabama.  As a history/political science major, the library was my second home.  Here, I honed my research skills, found peace and quiet to study, and embrace my inner nerd.

Now in my adopted hometown of Huntsville/Madison County, I still find myself spending hours at the Huntsville Madison County Public Library. The HMCPL system has 12 branches and each has their own unique atmosphere.  After all these years, I still spend hours in the archives, leaving with stacks of books, and making multiple trips throughout the week.  The only difference is that I don’t have the hand cramps from signing my name on the check out card!

Monrovia Library Outside April 2017

Monrovia Library April 2017

 

The Monrovia branch of the HMCPL is where I spend most of library time.  The librarians are exceptional, the YA section is awesome and the summer program for the children is out of this world.

Monrovia Library Librarians April 2017

Cammie and Cindy Monrovia Librarians

Monrovia Library Inside April 2017

Monrovia Library Children’s Area

I owe a HUGE thank you to the HMCPL and their librarians and staff.

Thank you for all you do, especially for the love, support, and encouragement over the last 13 months while Sarah & I have researched and wrote our book.
Your support made it possible!!!

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!

Serendipity

Serendipity!  I love this word!  It means fortunate happenstance and that is exactly how I met my friend and coauthor, Sarah Belanger. This is the story of that fortuitous moment.

In 2014, I had decided to pursue a life long goal… to become a writer. I have always loved a good story.  Growing up, I was surrounded by a family full of storytellers. Not liars (although I am sure we have those as well) but people who could tell about an event and have the whole crowd laughing or wiping tears from their eyes or both.  I was fascinated how the choice of words, inflection of voice, and facial expressions all worked together to make the story come alive.

telling stories 2011

Telling Stories 2011

Over the years, I have sporadically kept a journal, jotting down ideas that I thought would make a good story. I have written short essays on different things experiences and outlined a few novels.  However, I NEVER let anyone read my writing.  I never felt it was good enough. Due to a series of events, I found myself at a point in life that I needed to reinvent myself.  As I considered my options, I decided to focus on becoming an actual writer.  I decided to get “serious” but I knew I needed help.  That’s when I heard about the Monte Sano Writers Conference.  It was a local conference so I decided to invest in myself and I registered.

2014 Writers Conference

2014 Monte Sano Writers Conference April 5, 2014

 

I didn’t know anyone that was going but I mentioned it to recent acquaintance, a local librarian.  Mandee and I had a great conversation about YA books and our own writings.  We didn’t make firm plans but I hoped she would be there.

So on a cold April morning, I drove myself up the mountain trusting that my GPS would take me to the correct spot.  The GPS directed me to a Baptist church.  I thought that was a bit odd but hey, it’s the South, why not?  Running late, I parked my car and anxiously began walking toward the church. I quickly realized that there were only a couple of other cars in the lot and I got a sinking feeling that I was lost. Luckily, a young woman about my age, had also just arrived so we gravitated towards one another (like lost souls tend to do).

“Hey, are you here for the writers conference?”

“Yes! Are you?”

“Yes! Do you know where we are supposed to go?”

“No, but let’s figure this out together.”

We quickly introduced ourselves and promptly found another person in the parking lot.

“Are you looking for the writers conference?”

“Yes!”

“You are in the wrong spot.  It is being held next door at the Methodist church.  You can leave your cars here, parking can be tight over there.”

Sarah and I walked next door and quietly slipped into the back pew (as lost souls tend to do).  We met up with Mandee and had a great time at the conference.  At one point, we had the opportunity to ask the panelists if there were any local writers groups we could join.  We didn’t get a satisfactory answer so the three of us planned to meet again soon. Later that month, we got together over coffee and formed the Inkwell Writers Guild.

It’s been 3 years now since that serendipitous moment when two very late and very lost ladies bumped into each other.  In that short amount of time, I count Sarah and Mandee as two of my closest friends.  Sarah and I have worked on a couple of projects together with the latest and largest being our book about North Alabama beer.  Not too bad for a couple of lost souls!

A HUGE thank you is owed to the Monte Sano Writers Conference, the Monte Sano United Methodist Church as well as Linda & Homer Hickam for all their work and dedication to this conference & the community.  Your work has inspired a new generation of authors!

 

 

 

Who I am…..

Confession time…..My name is Kami and I am writer. There, I have said it and I own it.  For the last 13 months, I have been immersed in research and the writing of a book about beer in North Alabama.  Here you will find my musings about the writing process and life in general. With 3 cats, 2 dogs, 1 rabbit, a husband and host of friends, the cast of characters in this blog should be entertaining to say the least.

tazandbook

My Writing Buddy

I’m an Alabama girl who has traveled extensively, lived many different lives and has a quirky outlook on life. With an undying love for Alan Alda, books, animals, history and the military, there is something for everyone.  Join me as I begin this new adventure….blogging.