Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A taste of sweet home Alabama from Beth Albright...plus a book giveaway

It's our last day of "Home and Away" month and we have a special treat for you! If you're a fan of Days of Our Lives, this is even extra special for you, as you'll probably already know our visitor, Beth Albright, from that soap opera!

Born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Beth's roots are firmly planted...no matter where else she has lived in the country. She loves sharing her pride for The University of Alabama (where she got her degree in Journalism) and their famous football champs. Even though she has been on talk radio, hosted a talk show, and played a principal character on Days..., her true passion is for storytelling. With a screenplay and two southern-themed novels under her belt--The Sassy Belles and Wedding Belles--and another on the way this fall (Sleigh Belles), we see a lot more writing happening in her future. She has even written a guest post for us about growing up and living in the south, even though she currently resides in San Francisco with her husband and son (who is a nationally ranked figure skater.)

Thanks to Kaye Publicity, we have TWO sets of The Sassy Belles and Wedding Belles for some lucky US readers!

Visit Beth at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Songs of the Deep South

They say you write what you know and for me there is no truer statement. I know the Deep South. I have a love for it that pulses deep in my veins. My legacy is thick with my alma mater, the University of Alabama too, as my grandfather was the “voice” of the Crimson Tide in the 1950s. I am a southerner to the bone, though I have lived all over the country.

My Love Affair With Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The South is like nowhere else on Earth. I learned this lesson the hard way; by leaving. I have lived in New York City, Los Angeles, California and nearly everywhere in between. From both coasts, two of the Great Lakes, and the land locked mid-west and even the deserts of Phoenix, I have called them all home over the last 30 years. And I stay in the perpetual suspended state of HOMESICK for Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

When I was 10 years old we moved to Oklahoma. And while I loved it there and made life long friends during my four years there, I was, even then, perpetually homesick, grieving away for my familiar surroundings of the misty liquid sunsets on the Warrior River and the rich history of The University of Alabama campus. Tuscaloosa is a pre-Civil War town, with much of the architecture dating long before the War Between the States. Old antebellum homes still stand watching over the city from one end of it to the other.

The kudzu creeps and crawls over everything standing still. Summers were miserable if you were measuring it by the humidity. With sticky skin and frizzy hair was the way I spent them. But I wouldn't trade them for anything. Slow and happy and sweaty. Red cheeks coming in from long bike rides on half paved /dirt roads roads, slamming screen doors and window unit air conditioners. And beauty pageants, complete with crowns and banners pinned from shoulder to hip across the front of your beaded gown, Tuscaloosa is made up of so many things, even when I’m not there I can see it, feel it, and taste it. So I wanted to be there. Writing was the way I could.

Life was easier in a small town down south. All the neighbors watch out for each other and everyone's kids were like your own. The men are still chivalrous and the women still act like ladies, with make-up done to perfection and a string of pearls. That may be my favorite part—well next to the food!


The Deep South is special. It's unique in all the most perfect ways. I feel I am an authority on this because I have been able to compare it to, well, almost everywhere. I actually left my soap opera, Days of Our Lives in LA as a principle character and drove across the country, pregnant, with morning sickness that lasted all day, to make sure my only baby was born at HOME...Tuscaloosa! In typical Belle fashion, I didn’t pack light either. It took two cars! Halfway there, around El Paso, Texas, my husband actually had the nerve to say, “We really don’t HAVE to go have the baby in Alabama, do we?” I nearly burst into tears and called my mother-- and a divorce lawyer—just as any southern belle in a crisis does! Luckily, I calmed down by the time we crossed The Mighty Mississippi.

And then there’s Alabama football. You have never seen anything like Game-Day in Tuscaloosa! The crowds under the largest tent city on the quad, everyone cooking out, the smell of barbequed pork in the air, the students dressed up in sundresses and bow ties. You KNOW you’re in the south! And when "Sweet Home Alabama" is played over the loud speakers, everyone stops in their tracks and sings along! It’s a priceless feeling.

In Tuscaloosa you can still sit out on a summer's night and talk to your neighbors or on your front porch telling stories on a glider swing while a million lightening bugs glitter in the front yard under a gillion stars. And when someone " has passed" a line of traffic will form on your street of folks with covered dishes. You'll have more pound cake and potato salad than you'll know what to do with! And at least 30 boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Everyone who shows up on your doorstep to offer condolences will have a box of the delicious confections!

Tuscaloosa has it's own special brand of Small Town America. It is in the HEART OF DIXIE, being in Alabama. It is a classy place with mostly classy people. And Southern Hospitality seems to have gotten its very definition from here. Every "Hey Y'all," and "fixin' to" is inside my spirit and when I am home it shines a little brighter.


When I come home it's like I never left. I am hugged and kissed and loved. I go out with my friends and see my Mother and eat like I have been starving in a desert. I have. For the SOUTH... and its way.

When it came time to write, of course, I would write about the place I love most, my hometown in the Deep South. My heart is always in Dixie.

Maybe I can always go home, because truth be told, I never really left.


Special thanks to Beth for sharing her southern love with us and to Kaye Publicity for sharing her books with our readers.

How to win: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. If you have questions on how to use it, e-mail us.

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US only. Giveaway ends August 5th at midnight EST.

19 comments:

Tina Brannan said...

My fave thing about my town is that its not too big and not too small either. Great restaurants, parks, and of course shopping!!

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I love all the fun activities we have around us, parks, pools, museums...endless options

Lisamarie said...

My favorite thing is that the beach is less than 10 minutes away.

Nova said...

the favorite thing about the new town i live in is that it's not rural. i can be anywhere i need to in 10 minutes or less :)

Kritter said...

The favorite thing about the town I live in is the proximity to DC. There is so much to do.

Carole said...

Hi Melissa, just letting you know that you are in my Featured Book Blog sidebar for August on Carole's Chatter. Have a great week. Cheers

Jessica said...

I love going to Starbucks in my town! It's the best one in the district. Plus I love my gym. =]

Thanks!
-Jessica M
walkingcorpse11@hotmail.com

Janine said...

What a great interview. I never really thought about going to Alabama, but after reading this, I would love to visit there one day. My favorite thing about where I live is it is on the edge of city and edge of country. We have all the luxuries of city living, but just around the corner we still have a lot of land and farms, even a couple working cattle ranches where I love to park and watch them graze (especially during calf season.

Connie said...

I live in southwest Florida home of perpetual summer. I love it here and would never live anywhere else.

susieqlaw said...

The Bakery on Court St!

Mary Jo Burke said...

My town has great schools and neighbors!

Bridget O'Neill said...

I love all of the bike trails in my town!

Linda Kish said...

It's still not overgrown. I can walk a block or two away and be on dirt roads.

Meredith @ Pandora*s Books said...

I live in a small town, but I'm not far from the city, so it's the best of both worlds!

Chanpreet said...

I live in the suburbs of a large a city. Besides having so much to do, I love that my family is close by. I have three uncles with in a mile of my house. Luckily, none of us are big on stopping by randomly.

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite thing is that it is very small, but it is still not that far away to some good shopping.

bn100 said...

the parks

Hailey Fish said...

My favorite thing about my town is that I'm ten minutes away from the ocean.

Connie said...

Congratulations, Ladies!! Enjoy! :-)