EventsRandom Life Updates

Snowpocalypse, Public Speaking, And My *Real* Author Photo

My part of the country has struggled just a bit this week, and if you’ve watched the news AT ALL, you know what I’m talking about.

On Tuesday, the “dusting” of snow we were supposed to receive actually CAME, which is shocking enough–but when an inch-thick layer of ice formed on the roads within an hour or so of the first flakes, well…let’s just say things got a bit dicey.


And, sure, at first it seemed a little silly that a couple inches of snow had brought the entire Southeast to a grinding halt. But then we realized it wasn’t the snow, it was the ice–and the problem with ice is that it makes driving up and down hills a bit of a challenge.

Guess what?

Birmingham is pretty much ALL HILLS.

Combine that with our distinct lack of knowledge re: driving in inclement winter weather and our lack of things like salt trucks and whatever else can be used to combat icy conditions, and you can see why our entire transportation system disintegrated almost immediately.

Highway 280: the busiest highway on my side of Birmingham.
Highway 280: the busiest highway on my side of Birmingham.

Over 11,000 Birmingham kids spent the night at school Tuesday night, plus a whole lot of faculty and staff. Almost every family I know had someone trapped in their school or workplace. People abandoned their cars all over the highways because they simply couldn’t drive them any farther, and then not only was there ice to deal with, there were a million cars to dodge.

Some people spent ten hours or more trying to reach their loved ones. Thankfully, we Rileys were able to either carefully creep along the roads or hike home, and we were all together by mid-afternoon. I still can’t believe we managed to be under one roof when so many families weren’t.

This kind of thing just doesn’t happen around here. We deal with tornados, hurricanes, droughts, and high heat warnings. WE DON’T DO SNOW, Y’ALL.

But in the midst of the scary and the uncertain, a lot of beautiful things happened. One brain surgeon walked six miles through the snow and ice to perform life-saving surgery. A few guys from the school where I teach spent all night riding around on ATVs, pulling people out of ditches. Everybody with four-wheel-drive spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday helping other people get to their families.

It was some lovely stuff, I tell ya.

STILL… As lovely as people were during the whole episode, we were all happy to see the sun on Thursday, and yesterday I had to turn on the air conditioner.

It feels good to be back to normal.

Yesterday morning, I spoke at the Birmingham Local Authors Expo. My seminar was entitled “How To Write While Having A Life.”

Like so.

The turnout was great, and because I thrive in situations that involve large numbers of people and public speaking (yes, I am a rare breed), I had an absolute blast hanging out with everyone who came to hear me.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any pictures of the attendees, so you’ll just have to believe they were there. But I do have THIS picture of me standing at my table with my books:


Finally–and you’re just going to have to imagine that there is a transition between the Authors Expo and this new topic–I’ve been thinking a lot about author photos.

I just had new author photos taken (haven’t gotten them back just yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post a few). My current ones are actually from when I was 26, and since I’m 30 now, I figured it was time for an update.

I really enjoyed the photo shoot and I can’t wait to see the final products, but the whole time my friend Kathryn was taking pictures of me, I kept thinking: This is not how I really look. 

I mean, author photos are NOT REAL, right? Who ever looks that put-together in real life? NOBODY. Certainly not writers. We’re doing good to bathe on a semi-regular basis, never mind get dressed and do our hair.

So even though these are my current “official” author photos from four years ago…




I really feel that if I were to use a true-to-life photo of myself, something that represented how I feel while I’m revising this book, how I typically look when there’s no pressure to come across a certain way–well, I think I would look a little worried. I’d definitely be wearing sweats, and I wouldn’t have on any makeup, and my hair, OH, my hair would be a disaster.

In short, it would be this:

Real Author Photo
Awwww yeah.

I don’t know about y’all, but I can totally see that on a book jacket.

(And just in case you were wondering, yep, that is me right now, in Panera. I look like this IN PUBLIC.)

(No shame.)

Happy week, Grasshoppers. I’ll see you next Sunday.