Monday, July 21, 2014

Prissy Elrod, Far Outside the Ordinary

AUTHOR: Prissy Elrod
BOOK TITLE: Far Outside the Ordinary
GENRE: Memoir
PUBLISHER: Leather Leaf Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.

Well, I’ve been told I’m a cross between Betsy Johnson and Pippy Longstocking. Just an artsy, outgoing southerner, who pretty much says what she thinks and likes just about everybody.

I’ve been asked over and over, "Is Prissy really your name?" Yep, officially, though not legally. It’s all I remember ever being called. Daddy thought I would have a hard time spelling Priscilla, and shortened it to Prissy when I was only six hours old. An artist at heart, I eat organic food and own an excessive amount of skin care products. Anthropology, Starbucks and Whole Foods are all you really need in life. That and my wonderful husband and treasured family all living within four miles of me in beautiful Tallahassee, Florida.

To get this story down on paper was an exercise in courage. It took four years to write, three computers, two espresso machines, 48 how-to writing books, a Florida State University memoir-writing class, 24 blog subscriptions, a half-dozen periodical journals, 14 revised drafts. I didn’t let anybody read it for the first three years. Finally, I sent the manuscript to a Pushcart Prize–winning writer in Texas, and hired him to read it and tell me if it was any good.

Please tell us your latest news.

Far Outside the Ordinary sprouted after seeding for a long time in my head then surfaced at a very slow pace. It was a four-year process and the book launched April 16, 2014. My venues have been small independent bookstores, where I have, or am, scheduled for book signings.  There are nine retail boutique stores also carrying my books. This past week Far Outside the Ordinary was chosen for book clubs in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Since the book was released seven weeks ago it has 55 five-star reviews on Amazon. I really had no idea my book would be inspirational, and to such a diversified group. It is both wonderful and humbling.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I first decided to write the memoir, I had no idea where or how to begin. Having no real writing experience, or training, I knew I needed to learn the craft of writing. And so I did. It was my birthday; I went out and bought myself a few presents: On Writing by Stephen King; Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; You’ve Got a Book in You by Elizabeth Simms and The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt. I’m still laughing about the last one. My 90 days was so not. I began this self-taught learning on that birthday. There would be 48 books by the end of four years, each of them read more than once, with yellow highlights and dog-ears on each book; they were dressed-up like matching siblings. I had a yearning to tell my story, but only if I could tell it right. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. I spit that out to my daughters all the time when they were growing up.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write it for others really. I knew what I had gone through and how it changed me. And I believe for the better. There are so many kinds of love, so many ways to love, and such a diversified population of people to love. As we all know, a heart can stop beating but with medical help it starts beating again. The same is true of a broken heat. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, a heart doesn’t know the difference between a death, a desertion, loss of a husband or a pet. It is still broken. Sometimes faith, hope and second chances can heal a broken heart. I wanted to share my story for those starved of hope and give them my story of happily-ever-after. I wanted to introduce my charming caregivers to readers and try and give them a front row seat to witness the love, devotion, and tender care bestowed on us through those dark months. It was a lesson in paying it forward. With my loss I also gained.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

Gosh, I learned so much. First, you can never give up on a dream. If you work hard, and then a little harder than hard, you can get there. I am living proof. I am an artist, who majored in speech pathology and not creative writing. I knew nothing about dangling modifiers. I still don’t, but my editor did. Yet here I am, calling myself an author, with a published book, that is SELLING! I still can’t believe it. I am beyond grateful…..and just a bit, well, okay, a big bit, proud of myself.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Tell me a little about your book.

It is a universal story of love and loss, faith and hope and a different kind of happily-ever-after. One reviewer’s description: “Steel Magnolias meets The Help with some Blind Side.” That sounds pretty good to me,

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

The idea came from the truth and knowing it should be told.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There are many roads with difficult choices. Everyone is different and sometimes there are no right answers, only choices, they aren’t answers at all. Does that make sense?

What is the toughest part about being a non-fiction writer, and how do you get past it?

Bearing your soul for anyone, no everyone, to judge you. Words that form stories are based on interpretation. There are those who will judge you for the worst, no matter. Sadly, I have learned there are actually people who look for the fault in others. They are in the minority though, I really believe that!

What about your book makes it special?

Well, it has resonated with a diversified group of people. Realizing that 85% of readers are women, I have received almost as many glowing reviews from men, young and old. That really surprised me, though it shouldn’t have. It is about a man who has it all and then he doesn’t. A 35 year-old-executive sent me an email. He wrote, “Although it is not typically the type of book most “guys” would read, I can tell you that I will recommend it to every one of my buddies. Life is such a precious gift and we often times forget how it can all change so quickly. As husbands we sometimes forget to take time to appreciate how lucky we are to have such amazing wives and beautiful children.” Wow! What can I say after that review?

Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?

There is an organization for young widows who have lost their husband to cancer.

Fresh New Start is a non-profit organization that provides encouragement and support to young women who have lost their husbands to cancer. I co-launched Far Outside the Ordinary with Fresh New Start at a Book Release party on April 16, 2014 and gifted a portion of my sales that night to Fresh New Start. I also dedicated the last page of my book to this organization to support their cause. You can learn more about it from

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

Happy, Pollyanna, quirky, romantic, generous, empathetic and kind.

Describe your writing space.

Since I am also an artist, the space is really colorful.  Functional – probably not! The inventory of paints, brushes, and canvases have spilled into my writing territory. Yikes!  Now that I have looked around to describe this space, it is really bothering me. I am going to work on that later.

About Far Outside the Ordinary:

If anybody had told Prissy, a conservative Southern housewife, she would one day be driving around town with a stoned, drunk black man named Willie in her backseat while she begged - no, ordered -him into her house for the night, she would have told them they were nuts. But it happened.

An emotionally honest account, Far Outside the Ordinary chronicles the period in Prissy's life when, during a routine physical, her fifty-year-old husband is given less than a year to live. Never one to take no for an answer, Prissy is determined to save Boone, her beloved husband and the father of their two daughters. She exhausts Western and Eastern lifesaving treatments, from medicine men to an FDA-indicted doctor. Despite all her efforts, Boone's health deteriorates.

Prissy calls in help: black caregivers move into her home in Tallahassee, Florida, and work around the clock to aid her family. Soon, Prissy finds herself a spectator in her own home, observing events far outside the boundaries of her once ordinary life. This is a story of people from different cultures and how love and respect for each other's differences grew from the work of supporting a man at the end of his life.

Far Outside the Ordinary is also a story of happily ever after, a fairy tale, and how a second chance at love can come disguised and when least expected. When her high school boyfriend reappears in her life, Prissy learns love has no expiration date.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a slow writer, too! Your memoir sounds interesting!