Coming Up for Air: GIVEAWAY


Okay, y’all know I don’t do this very much but Patti is one of my FAVORITES.

So here’s the deal — I have two books to GIVEAWAY.

Totally free

Here’s what you have to do. Tell us a story about your own mother. Any thing you want. You can TOTALLY rat her out. Or share something sweet. Tell us about the worst meal she’s ever made, or the best one. Tell us about a birthday celebration gone bad, or gone right. Tell us if she sings. Or if she fishes. How does she inspire you? Or frustrate you?

Just tell us a story. You can do it like Konnie with a video. Or you can write it out below.

Then paste the link to this page on your Facebook or Twitter it. Tell your friends about Patti’s newest book.

And in addition to having a chance to win a copy of the book, one of you will also win a $50 gift certificate to your favorite INDEPENDENT bookstore.

That’s right. $50 to spend on any books you like! At YOUR FAVORITE INDIE!!!

You have ONE WEEK to post your story and share this link. In ONE WEEK two of you will win a copy of COMING UP FOR AIR.

In ONE WEEK, one of you will be strutting through the aisle at your favorite INDIE, deciding how you are going to spend that $50!!!!

KAREN: Patti, I have a confession to make. Reading Coming up for Air made me really uncomfortable at times. I saw a lot of myself in Ellie’s mother, Lilly. Where did the characterization of Lilly originate?

PATTI: I’m not sure where she originated, probably in the strange recesses of my subconscious. But I got to know her through her journal. As I wrote her yearly entries, I came to know her (over eighty pages of her journal aren’t in the novel, but I have them). I knew she’d had a broken moment in her life and had then shut off her emotions, wanting to protect her daughter from all forms of mistakes and heartbreak…

KAREN In many ways Ellie goes off the deep end when Lilly dies. Her mother’s death causes her to reevaluate her life’s choices. How often did you see this sort of thing happen in your other life, as a nurse?

PATTI: I was a pediatric nurse, so really I saw the opposite — parents grieving the illnesses of their children. But death and the accompanying deep loss, make many of us look at how we are living our life. Ellie realizes that she was living her life without understanding the “story behind the story”, which of course she does!

KAREN: You grew up in a household full of women. The daughter of a preacher. Did you feel that your life was constrained by your father’s profession and the expectations others put on the preacher’s kids?

PATTI: Absolutely. The expectations were high and the vigilance of those who “watched” us was even higher. Even long after I left home, I felt as if I was being watched by what I call a cloud of witnesses: invisible people critiquing my every move. I had to let go of that belief when I started writing, otherwise I would have never written the first story.

KAREN: One of the things I love about your writing is the attention to beauty. Whether it’s in the physical surroundings or, in Ellie’s case, as an artist, Beauty seems to be a character as much as any person in your stories. What role does beauty play in your own life?

PATTI: I am so happy you noticed what I was trying to do! Yes, beauty awakens our heart — maybe that is its job. I try as best I can to keep my surroundings filled with beauty because chaos and “ugliness” do make it harder to write and work and be happy. In my office I have art and leaves and shells and anything that reminds me of the inherent beauty of our world.

KAREN: After Lilly’s death, Ellie discovers that her mother had secrets of her own. That’s usually a huge revelation for any young woman isn’t it? Do you remember when you first saw your own mother as a woman, and not just your mom?

PATTI: I do remember a moment when my dad gave me a tape recording of a talk my mom had given at church and I thought, “Oh, wow. She is not just a mom.” I think I might have been twelve or thirteen years old. But because my mom has always been so active in our church and community (my dad is the pastor), I think I always viewed her a woman who was reaching out to others. It was never a sudden realization. She is also very open and kind, where Ellie’s mother was cold and hid behind the pretense of perfection.

KAREN: Your own gorgeous daughter Meagan has just left for her freshman year at Auburn. How much of the emotions that you were going through as a mother during her senior year did you write into this story?

PATTI: I wrote most of this story when she was both a Junior and a Senior in high school and I’m sure I wove the threads of dread into this novel, but it wasn’t intentional at all. I’m sure there were moments that my own fear of her leaving worked its way into this story though.

KAREN: In fact, Patti, you’ve had a lot of life changes over the past couple of years, with the most significant being a recent move to Birmingham from Atlanta, where you raised your family. Seems fitting that the title is Coming Up for Air. Change often leaves us breathless. How has all this change affected you?

PATTI: Wow, great analogy Karen! Yes, you’re right. It has left me breathless at times. It was almost too much change all at once, and I’m not sure how it has affected me because I am still in the middle of it. Meagan has been gone for a week; I’m a week into a new book release, barely out of boxes in our new home and I have two boys who just started Junior High and High School in a new town. I’ll tell you how I feel about it when it’s over — right now I am living by fifteen-minute increments. I’m so busy “doing” that I’m not quite sure yet how I ‘feel” about it all. Change is good, that much I know, but often bumpy.

KAREN: You address a pretty significant piece of history in Coming up for Air. Why did you weave this piece of history into the story?

PATTI: I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and the civil rights were a glossed over portion of history that barely impacted my life. But now I live in Alabama with my family and this piece of history is an integral part of the landscape. I didn’t intentionally set out to teach a lesson, or “use” the 1961 events, but I did know that it was these events that changed Lily’s life forever and we needed to see why.

KAREN: You dedicate this book to your lovely children, and say that they are the most creative parts of your soul. How does being a mother make you a more creative person?

PATTI: Wow. Tough question — I’m not sure being a mother makes me more creative, I just know that nothing I create for the remainder of my life will compare to the creativity and life I have invested in them.

KAREN: Tell us about how you settled on the Mobile Bay area for this particular story.

PATTI: This book began before I even knew it had begun. I was in Fairhope, Alabama on book tour when a college friend told me the story of a Jubilee. I was fascinated and then told my friend, Karen (you), who was living there at the time and then a few nights later, Karen experienced this blessed event and told me all about it. The story of the Jubilee would not leave me and its metaphor of coming up for air at the peril of death fascinated me..

KAREN: You’ve got a big tour coming. What do you love most about touring?

PATTI: I absolutely love meeting my readers and people who love books, story and words as much as I do.

KAREN: Are you at work on the next book already?

PATTI: Absolutely. I’m always at work on something. I’m not sure yet what this book will become, but I’m on the way to finding out…

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  • After I left the house 😀 my mom and I became really close. It was always hard having to balance a friendship and the same time as a mother/daughter relationship, but I think we did pretty good. Well my parents went on a trip years ago. They came home and no call from my mom. I let it go. Called and dad said she’d call me back she didn’t. Days of this go by (yep we talked almost daily)still nothing. Finally, I called and she answered (pre caller id) and she was so short with me. I asked her what I had done to make her so mad. Quiet. She finally gained the courage to tell me on vacation she’d found a lump in her breast and had gone in and had fluid removed, it didn’t look good. She had hoped to never burden me with this information. I had to make a decision to be strong (chronic cry baby here). I guess in the end all I can really say about her is she was strong, beautiful and I love her…and I miss her.

  • Gloria

    I have many memories of my mom but one that will always stick with me happened at one Christmas Eve service. My mom has always had a beautiful voice and my favorite Christmas song is Oh Holy Night. I begged Mom every Christmas Eve service to please please sing this song. Well this one particular Christmas Eve service she was suppose to sing the song for me but her throat was hurting and she was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be able to hit all the right notes. Because I was there for that service she went ahead and sang the song just for me and risked embarrassment of being off key. Needless to say I have never forgotten that service. She sang just like an angel and that song is still very special to me even though she doesn’t sing it very often anymore. She covered herself in prayer and stood in front of the church and sang because her daughter asked her to! I love her for a lot of reasons, but this memory will always stand out. She is a very strong prayer warrior too and I could go on and on about her getting up at 5am and praying for all of her grandchildren!

  • I went over and read an excerpt from the first chapter. Oh, this reads good.

    As for your contest, I don’t do that twitter, tweet, facebook thing, but here’s a tidbit about my momma…

    I was barely a teenager and this boy had come to our house to help my momma, me, and my little sister build fence. He was big, but not muscular, just tall and thick and awkward. My momma is 5 feet tall and maybe weighs a full buck if she’s wringing wet. She’s the hardest working person I know.

    Anyway, after a day of us trying to keep up with her, we settled inside for burgers. The big kid shook and shook that bottle of mustard til I nearly wrestled him to the floor for it. What was the matter with him? Had the heat melted his brain a bit? Come on already and use the mustard, dude! In a frustrated manner and with an audible groan, he squeezed that mustard bottle so hard that the tip imbedded into his burger. He gasped. We screamed. He looked at us and I thought he was gonna throw-up.

    Us gals were covered a spray of mustard. We were yellow from the noses down. The boy had not removed the inner seal on the new bottle of mustard. His ferocious squeeze did the trick though. Of course I started hooting and howling right away. We all looked at my momma, wondering who was gonna get a tongue lashing. She picked up the bottle of ketchup and squirted the kid all over.

    Between snot and tears and laughter and smashed burgers, we had one heck of a food fight. Who says pickles can’t fly?

    We smelled so bad that when we went to the movies that night, everyone cleared out for a 2 row perimeter around us. I don’t think the stench of sweat, mustard and ketchup mixed well with buttery popcorn.


  • Corinne

    My “mother figure” was my Gram. We disagreed like mother/daughter but I loved her more than the younger me cared to admit to. She passed away when I was 14. She was a superstitious, caring, hardworking woman who talked to herself OFTEN!! She taught me alot more than I thought I learned and I hope to carry-on and leave to my kids!! This is a great contest! Good luck everyone!! 🙂

  • Our house was the gathering spot for my siblings and our friends. Momma created a safe environment where a smile and a laugh came easy. Whether it was a scavenger hunt party, an outing to take the boys to see John Glenn, or a home cooked dinner for 2 carloads of college friends on short notice, Momma welcomed our friends. She helped us understand that you can have a lot of friends but only a treasured few. For those few, Mother had a special way of initiating them into our family. With all the seriousness of a Queen’s Knighting ceremony, She had the friend kneel on a gold pillow and tapped them on one shoulder with a yardstick asking them to repeat after her “ Owha” then she tapped the next shoulder “Tagoo”, with the final tap “Siam”. They repeated over and over until they understood that they were proclaiming “Oh What a Goose I am” followed with peals of laughter. Love you mighty good, Momma!

  • Debbie

    My mom, how I miss her, she died during open heart surgery back in 1983 when I was 31. She was one of the first Meter Maids in Portland, in those days they had to wear skirts and 3 inch heels while walking their beats. Some of the stories she had to tell, then she had my brother, and went into work as a store detective. She would walk into a store and say, “see that person, they are going to shoplift.” One of the funny stories I have to share is from the Columbus day store. She was baking a pork roast, and you know if pork isn’t cooked you don’t eat it. We were in the basement playing while all the winds were blowing everything up and down our street, even our front huge plate glass window was blowing in and out, thankfully that day it was a good thing it wasn’t in there all that well as it had a lot of give. My aunt, uncle, cousin Kathy, twin cousins Tom and Matt, my sister and brother, myself, mom and dad. I think we ate applesauce, smashed potatoes and lots of dessert, one of the best days and we weren’t really aware of all the crazy stuff going on outside our house as she made it so safe. If you still have your momma give her a call right now and tell her hello and that you love her. You never know the when or where of your time….

  • Mary Yetta

    My mother reared 12 children ,me being right in the middle coming in at no# 6. She has been gone for 22yrs and we miss her all the time . But the thing I think I miss most about my mother is how she made each and every one of us feel special on our birthday.She would make sure we had our favorite type of birthday cake and a special gift from her and dad and get little small things that each brother or sister could get us . Sometimes we had 3 birthdays in just one week but she made it happen just the same . She was something ,my Mom.