MAGIC IN DIXIE
The first book in a new southern series,
“ Honey, there are secrets in this town for sure but I couldn’t believe there were so many-- all buried in one family. And of all places to start digging them up—a funeral.”
~Vivi McFadden Heart
“I was born into a house full of secrets and bad behavior.”
Rhonda Cartwright Bently is having the most important moment of her life. She has finally been asked to help cater the Governor’s ball at the Emmy Awards in LA— But before the big day she has to get home to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and bury her estranged father. What she discovers in the aftermath of the funeral turns her life upside down in a matter of seconds.
A gift from her father from the grave—a dilapidated southern mansion with an old trunk full of family secrets, will transform Rhonda’s life in an instant and make her question everything she’s ever believed about her family and herself. And then there’s that list--the one she made about her dream man when she was just a teenager. Her perfect love may be right here under her nose, but for Rhonda this is one last complication she could do without. She intended to get home, bury Daddy, sell that dilapidated monstrosity and get back to LA, as fast as she could. But plans never quite work out just as we hope.
Rhonda will have to call on her old BFF’s, Blake and Vivi, to help solve the family mystery. But what those original Sassy Belles finally create out of that pile of dust could change Rhonda’s life for good, make her Hollywood dreams fade to black, and maybe even help her uncover her heart right where she left it—in Dixie. But sometimes things aren’t as they seem. And people aren’t always who we think they are.
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Interview by Marlene Engel
I want to welcome the extremely talented, Beth Albright, to Book Mama Blog today!
Beth, I love how your books are tied into the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area. I was born in Tuscaloosa, so I find this to be very exciting. What made you decide to incorporate that city into your books?
Thank you so much for having me! Today is release day for MAGIC IN DIXIE!! So I am totally thrilled! I too, was born and raised in Tuscaloosa and for me, having lived all over this country; it is still my favorite place on Earth. It is home and it always will be, no matter where I live! From NYC to LA, Houston, two of the Great Lakes, the landlocked Midwest, several cities there, I can honestly say Tuscaloosa is where my heart is. So when I decided to write I knew I didn’t even have to think about it—Tuscaloosa is where all my books would have to take place.
The passion I feel for Tuscaloosa is so pure and deep. I mean, c’mon—the national champion college football giants, The Alabama Crimson Tide, the Black Warrior River and the riverboats, the regal campus, the deep history, The FOOD, OMG!! And of course the best people I have ever met---my friends, my family. My roots are deep there! My grandfather was an attorney during the week, and on Saturdays—he was the Crimson Tide Play-by-play announcer! His portrait hangs in the museum on campus. Simply-I just love Tuscaloosa! And as they say, you write what you know and what you love.
Wow, you sure have moved around the globe! It’s wonderful that you are able to relive your fond memories of Tuscaloosa through your books.
Your new book is called Magic In Dixie. Where did you come up with the premise for this book?
Honestly, I have been planning this story since last summer. I knew this book would have all the fun, comedy, sarcasm and romance of all of my previous books but what was tugging at me with this one was this huge secret this family had been hiding. So it’s like peeling back an onion; layers upon layers, unfolding. And I take my readers on this mysterious adventure through an old antebellum mansion that my heroine inherits from her estranged father. Secrets are so imbedded in this very crazy family with possibly the most dysfunctional mother I have ever written! I LOVE her!
The entire series is about each of these women discovering themselves, their passions, their hearts and souls. And then making the difficult decision to embrace that—or not. Of course part of that journey will always be finding true love and learning just who your southern sisters are when things get tough. And my novels will NEVER be without laughter and hilarious situations. It’s the southern way—laughter in the face of adversity.
The book sounds absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on it! And, of course, you can expect to see the review right here at Book Mama Blog!
You were an actress in my favorite soap opera, Days of Our Lives. Where you writing at that time as well and do you still act today?
I have always been writing! From my very earliest memories it was how I expressed myself from my deepest emotional place. I was a talk show host on both radio and TV for years and I LOVED that career so much! I loved getting everyday people as well as celebrities to share their stories with my audience. But writing about the sudden loss of my dad is how I really became a writer. I wrote about that night over the course of my life growing up. It was how I processed the tragedy, I’m sure.
But as far as writing fiction, no—I never wrote anything while I was acting on Days Of Our Lives. The writing came in a very organic way. I left Days Of Our Lives when I discovered I was finally pregnant. I had a stroke when I had him and couldn’t have any more. When he was growing up we moved a lot!! I was always the new mom in a new city with a small child. As he grew up the longing for home, Tuscaloosa was pretty overwhelming. So once again, the writing was cathartic—I was homesick for the funny women the strong women in my life—my mother especially, my aunt, all their friends and my friends---so I created the life I longed for in The Sassy Belles.
Now, I can be home in Tuscaloosa every single day as I write!
I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your father and the stroke you suffered during child birth. It’s good that you were able to use writing as a way to express yourself in a therapeutic way. And, I see that, once again, Tuscaloosa played a huge part in helping you heal!
I see that you decided to go the self-published route with this book. What made you decide to do that as opposed to traditional publishing?
Well, as we all know, the publishing industry is changing, literally minute-by-minute. I decided this series would be self-published because of so many reasons. First I really love the control an author gets with self-pub. I helped create the cover and had a hand with the design too. I love how fast I can get my work out to my readers too! I can finish, and publish in a matter of days. That is super exciting. I still plan to do traditional publishing but for now I am loving how this works!
The books published by me, Magnolia Press, will always be available on ALL forms of digital—from Amazon to Nook to Kobe and Smashwords, and as a paperback as well. I am currently working on getting them ALL on audio as well. For years and years I worked as a voice-over artist and actress, so I can’t wait to record the books myself!
I’m sure that your readers will be happy to hear that they can get your book in all formats! And, to be able to have the option of audio as well is wonderful.
I heard that Magic In Dixie is the first book in a new series. What can your readers expect from the rest of the books in the series?
This is so thrilling! These books are so near and dear to my heart! All of these women have a story to tell. They are funny and sexy, sophisticated but very genuinely southern! Many of my old characters will make appearances as supporting characters too so my beloved Fru Fru’s are back and full of hilarity! I actually did a poll and the love my readers have for those funny guys was totally overwhelming! Vivi and Blake will be there too.
But the central heroines are my new Belles, and their stories, a little deeper and richer but still steeped in the ways and attitudes and language of the Deep South. Of course all will be heady sexy romance with a shot of mystery and filled with laugh out loud moments. The next book will be out in December, called STARDUST IN DIXIE.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your EXTREMELY busy schedule to come chat with us! It was great having you and know that you are always welcome to pop over. We wish you much success with your new book, series and self-publishing.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having me!! What an honor it has been to be a guest today on my big release day. I hope everyone loves MAGIC IN DIXIE!
Beth Albright is the author of the award-winning, best-selling series The Sassy Belles. After knowing Beth for just a few short seconds you are sure to learn she is from Alabama. No, it’s not the lilt of magnolia you can still catch in her voice, or even the way she lovingly describes her undying love for her famous alma mater's football champions. She will tell you she loves Tuscaloosa, even after living quite literally all over the country. Though Beth has had a remarkable career, from New York City to Hollywood, and all points in between, she has never forgotten where she came from...and what she loves. That's why when it came time to write, Beth had no choice but to write about Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama, and all the quirky people she still calls family, though some do not actually share her bloodline!
Beth Albright has always been a storyteller. After spending nearly 15 years in talk radio, as a talk show host, playing the part of a principal character on the soap opera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, owning her own acting school and children’s theater, and raising a son who was a nationally ranked figure skater, Beth has decided to return to her roots; storytelling. When she was in the sixth grade, her teacher gave her the floor every Friday to tell her stories. See, Beth was a talker, a future talk show host in the making, and she was sharing her stories so much that her teacher couldn’t teach. The teacher told 12 year old Beth if she would begin writing her stories down, she would be allowed time to share those stories with the class.
And she’s been writing, AND talking ever since. Beth has interviewed Bob Hope, Oprah Winfrey, Betty White, Wolfgang Puck and George Burns live from the Chinese Theatre, as well as numerous other celebrities, and authors. Then Beth became a principal character on Days of Our Lives. But through all of the excitement of talk shows and soap operas, Beth loved telling stories to her audience the most. With a degree in Journalism from her beloved University of Alabama, She always remains true to her roots, born and raised in Tuscaloosa, “My grandfather was the play by play announcer for the Crimson Tide in the 50s!” Beth will proudly tell you. She is a down homespun girl, although she currently lives in San Francisco with her TV producer husband and her brilliant son. But her heart is always in Alabama.
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Beth is generously giving one lucky reader
a signed book, chocolates and a Starbucks gift card.
And three separate winners a $5 Starbucks gift card.