TwangTwang
Julie L. Cannon
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Twenty-three-year-old Jennifer Clodfelter believes she is destined to be a country music star. When her passion, determination and homemade demo tape were rejected by every music label in Nashville, she refused to give up. In just three years, a combination of guts and raw talent have propelled her on a journey of fame beyond her best dream.

Now Jennifer has all she ever wanted, only to discover that there is a dark side to the glitz and number one hits. She will have to decide whether to sing her pain to a loving audience or find the courage to face the music in the private studio of her heart.
     


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Julie CannonCBA best-selling author Julie L. Cannon is a native of Tennessee. She is the author of five published novels, including the award-winning Homegrown Series, described as 'Southern Fried Soul Food.' Her books include a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and for the SIBA Book Award. Truelove & Homegrown Tomatoes was named by Good Housekeeping as one of '20 Books to Tote on Vacation.' The Romance Readers' Book Club was chosen as a Target Breakout Book, and I'll Be Home for Christmas was named a Top Pick of Fall 2010 releases by CBA Retailers & Resources Magazine, in addition to being included in Nielsen's Top 50 Inspirational Titles. Along with writing novels and listening to Country music, Jule is an inspirational speaker and teaches various creative writing workshops. She lives in Watkinsville, Georgia, with her husband and youngest son.

Favorite Verse: Matthew 6:33 (KJV) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


 


 

 Our Interview with Julie Cannon


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I’ve had a love affair with words as long as I can remember. As a child I lived for those days of summer when we’d pile in the car and head to Mee-maw’s farm in Armuchee, Georgia. It felt like pure heaven as us cousins rode horses bare-back down through the river bottoms, plucking blackberries and hunting arrowheads along the Ooestenaula River. In the evenings, I’d sit very still out on the porch, listening to my kinfolks indulging in that wonderful southern tradition of oral storytelling. Their stories were fabulous, truly stranger than fiction, and I was collecting them like lightning bugs.

Mama claims that as soon as I was able to string words together, I was telling my own stories. In grammar school, I began writing them down into little books crudely fashioned from construction paper. As I moved to middle school, then to high school, English teachers would put encouraging notes on my report cards, and for me, a particularly nerdy child, it was a way to hold my head up a bit even if I was picked last for teams during P.E..

In 1985, I earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia, and landed in a string of torturous sales jobs. A closet writer, I still penned poems and stories every chance I got.
 
Along came marriage, and a baby carriage, actually three of them, and yet, my insatiable need to create stories did not subside. In October of 1998, I entered and won a short story contest. To make a long story short, Hill Street Press, sponsor of the contest subsequently published my novel, Truelove & Homegrown Tomatoes in the spring of 2001. It became a southern bestseller and they sold the paperback rights to Simon & Schuster, who bought the rights to my second and third novels. Since then I’ve been published by Penguin, Summerside, and Abingdon Press.
 
In addition to telling stories, my favorite things include growing flowers and tomatoes, reading novels, listening to country music, painting pictures, having coffee with friends, and spending time with my family.

 

What is your favorite Bible Verse: translation too please? Why?

It’s changed many times over the years, and I’m sure it’ll change again, but right now my favorite Bible Verse is Matthew 6:33, in the King James Version. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

It’s my favorite because it encapsulates the best way to live. If I stay focused on God, everything else just falls into place; spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental. 

What was your inspiration to write Twang?

I’m often asked about where my story ideas come from, but it’s a very mysterious process even to me when something gets transformed from an idea or thought into a story. I firmly believe the aptitude to write is a gift and entrustment from God and I take very seriously the commitment to co-create stories He won’t be ashamed of. I love country music and I once read a comment from Merle Haggard about his music that struck me as how I feel about my writing. He said, “Music is a positive vibration we all need. It comes through me and I believe it comes from God. The Lord is just using me as an instrument and I’m just doing the best I can to respond to what He wants.”

A lot of the plot for Twang fell in place when I read this quote by Conway Twitty, “A good country song takes a page out of somebody’s life and puts it to music.” I know that some singers do live out their songs. Take Tammy Wynette and D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

I thought about how certain country songs reduce me to tears. Songs such as “Jesus and Mama Always Loved Me,” by Confederate Railroad. Then I got to thinking about the way people like to say, “To be a good country music artist, you gotta have tragedy in your life. Travail and hardship and all that stuff. You can’t be happy and be a good country music singer.” 

So, I began to write about a very gifted young girl with a childhood straight out of a sad country song. Jennifer Clodfelter hightails it out of Blueridge, Georgia. She gets herself to Nashville, the so-called womb of Country music, determined to fulfill her destiny as a country music star. But, here’s the thing about Jennifer, she is also determined to forget her dark and disturbing past. Her inner conviction is that she can bury her past and it won’t hurt her.

 

How much of Twang comes from your personal experience?

How I wish I could say the singing, songwriting and playing the guitar did, but alas, every cent my folks shelled out for piano lessons went right down the drain.
 
And, it wasn’t the dysfunctional family. I had one of those childhoods you see in a Norman Rockwell painting. I used to joke my parents had halos floating above their heads, but I wasn’t really joking.
 
So, it wasn’t the music and it wasn’t the pitiful parents in Twang I could write from my own experience. But, like most people, at least most my age (pushing 50) there’s plenty of things I’d like to bury and leave in the past.

But as a writer, I have found that those dark things, those unmentionable times I thought were purposeless, can become powerful stories if you show what you’ve learned, what sweet Grace you’ve tasted despite them. Plus, they can sure touch an audience.

In addition, the very act of writing (songs and stories) about experiences that were painful is cathartic. God can redeem the unredeemable. So, to the extent that God’s used a lot of my dark times, redeemed them into art, that’s what I drew from personally to write Twang.

How much research did Twang take?

I have three notebooks bulging with research! When I began writing, all I knew about the journey of a country music star was what I’d read in the tabloids. I knew nothing about writing songs. Thus, I spent hours studying the internet and reading books and biographies about the country music industry and stars and song-writing. But the pinnacle of all my research was a wonderful long weekend I spent in Nashville, Tennessee, sponsored by my publisher, Abingdon!

Ramona Richards, my editor, took me from Music Row to the Broadway honky-tonks to the Bluebird Café to Riverfront Park and the Cumberland River. We went to the Grand Ole Opry to hear Little Jimmy Dickens, and Vince Gill and Josh Turner. Josh sang one of my favorite songs in the world, Long Black Train. I filled an entire notebook on just that weekend tour, and since I wanted my story to be authentic in regard to Music City, I poured over those notes as I wrote.

 

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Twang?

The city of Nashville sits along the banks of the Cumberland River, a beautiful sight on my tour of Nashville. So, what knocked my socks off was hearing the horrible details about the May 2010 flood! Known as the “Thousand Year Flood,” and called the single largest disaster to hit Tennessee since the Civil War, it was tragic.
 
On May 1, 2010, it started to rain. It rained and rained and rained. Nearly 14 inches in two days, causing massive flooding. Homes were ruined, people evacuated, businesses shut down, schools cancelled. 21 deaths were recorded in Tennessee, and President Obama declared it a disaster area.
 
What was really interesting was hearing how the city responded to this disaster. Tennessee is the Volunteer State, and if there was ever a time you could see people living that name out, it was after the flood. Country music artists and citizens alike joined together to rebuild Music City. Nashville celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks made significant donations to relief efforts, and the Country Music Association donated 100% of CMA Festival proceeds to flood relief. Hundreds of Nashvillians joined official crews helping families recover from the devastation. The country music community is very strong, they care, and the flood brought out the good in this community.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

It used to be laliaphobia, or the fear of public speaking. I thought authors were hermits who wrote their stories and then sent them out into the world via bookstores and libraries. However, it wasn’t long after my first novel came out that I realized the error of that thinking! I had dozens and dozens of public speaking engagements to handle. And, by the grace of God (lots of PRAyer and PRActice), I’m now a professional (paid) keynote speaker, a writing workshop instructor, and I appear at numerous author seminars, on panels, etc…

My current biggest challenge is probably dealing with new technology. The opportunities for social-networking and social media increase daily and it can feel overwhelming. I try to keep up with all the new ways to interact with fans, fellow authors, and students in my writing classes.
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I literally lose myself when I’m telling stories. I’m lifted up out of reality, and hours can fly by if a scene is going well. Writing is my passion/obsession and my bliss, my gift from God.
 
What I loved about Twang was that it gave me the perfect excuse to read bios about my favorite artists – from Tammy Wynette to Alan Jackson to Faith Hill. I got to sit around listening to Josh Turner and Vince Gill and Blake Shelton, all in the name of research!!

 

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Twang?

That in the long run, it’s very unhealthy to bury things. If you do it in the right way, i.e. with God’s help, it’s cathartic to pull things up and look them in the eye. Sometimes it even helps to write about them. God is in the business of redeeming the unredeemable.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I like to hang out with my family. Spending time with them is my favorite thing, even if it’s just a walk through the woods or sharing a meal. I also adore going to the beach, reading fiction, listening to country music, actually lots of different types of music, drinking coffee with friends, and people watching and  …. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Uhm, yes! The Catawba/Catalpa worm scene came from one of my personal journals.
 
Brad Paisley said, “As a songwriter heartbreak is important.”

Miranda Lambert said, “Being happy is horrible for songwriting, especially for country music. We just want to write about leaving and sadness.”

 

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Twang?

That in the long run, it’s very unhealthy to bury things. If you do it in the right way, i.e. with God’s help, it’s cathartic to pull things up and look them in the eye. Sometimes it even helps to write about them. God is in the business of redeeming the unredeemable.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I like to hang out with my family. Spending time with them is my favorite thing, even if it’s just a walk through the woods or sharing a meal. I also adore going to the beach, reading fiction, listening to country music, actually lots of different types of music, drinking coffee with friends, and people watching and  …. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Uhm, yes! The Catawba/Catalpa worm scene came from one of my personal journals.
 
Brad Paisley said, “As a songwriter heartbreak is important.”

Miranda Lambert said, “Being happy is horrible for songwriting, especially for country music. We just want to write about leaving and sadness.”

 


 

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Twang - eBook

Twang - eBook
Julie L. Cannon
CBD Price: $9.69


 

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