Book Cover : Twas A Miracle

on June 14, 2012 in AnnieWrites, Perfectly Unique with 15 comments by

My dear friend Annie Parsons and I had coffee last week. I’ll tell ya, that girl. She’s a gem. Don’t even get me started.

Anyways, she said, “Um, you’ve never told us the story of the book cover like you said you would.”

She’s right.

So here you go.

. . . . .

Early this spring, I was sitting at Panera with my agent Kyle and we got an email from Zondervan with the design for the cover of Perfectly Unique.

He opened it and turned his computer screen to me. I teared up. Immediately.

[Shocking absolutely no one who has known me longer than this blog post.]

It was perfect. It was everything I would have wanted. It was personal to me and totally spoke my language.

“Who did this?” I asked him.

“Just a designer at Zondervan I guess,” Kyle said, “I don’t know who.”

“Well,” I looked at him, “email this editor back and tell her to give that designer a BIG FAT HUG because he/she NAILED IT. How in the WORLD does that person not know me? It looks so so much like me.”

In a world where the author has zero say in the original design or which humans lay their hands on the making of this book, it was just a real gift from God to absolutely cry over the beauty of this thang.

. . . . .

I put the jpeg on Anita the iPhone and showed that puppy off like it was a trophy. I would stop any friend that I saw ANYWHERE and “offer” [is that the right word?] to show it to them.

I have a few graphic designer friends and each one I would say, “I mean, seriously. Are you DYING? Isn’t it AMAZING? It looks JUST LIKE ME, right?”

And because they are generous human beings, they would say yes and smile and truly, everyone has liked it.

I remember showing my pal Micah at a table in Portland Brew and, as previously stated, totally gushing.

. . . . .

About three weeks later I was texting Micah about some other things about his lovely wife and her birthday or something and then he said this about my book cover. [He’s in white, I’m in green.]

WAIT. WHAT. HUH. [And dear reader, just FYI, this is what the VAST MAJORITY of text message convos with boys look like for me. Just so you know. I’m a talker. And boys love that, right? #sarcasm]

Micah Kandros is one of the best graphic designers in this town and Zondervan had NO idea we were even friends, but what a miracle that one of my friends who knows me well but is also an insanely talented artist designed the cover for Perfectly Unique. I am so grateful to Micah for the beautiful design. [You should look through his other designs and d.r.o.o.l. So so amazing.]

So please. Judge this book by it’s cover.

. . . . .

And that, ladies and gents, is how the cover of Perfectly Unique is a miraculous thing.

Perfectly Unique: Family meeting

on June 4, 2012 in AnnieWrites, Perfectly Unique with 13 comments by

[It still amazes me that we are even having this conversation. Just so you know.]

Three short months from today, Perfectly Unique releases to the world.

September 4, 2012.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

I know that From Head To Foot has already come out so this should be no big deal, but it is. It feels like a pretty big deal.

I feel like you and me, we know each other. We’ve been friends for a while. And you have been a part of this process with me from Day 1. You really have. There are not enough days or emails or words that I could say to properly thank you for being a part of this crazy ride.

I have lots of dreams, wishes, and hopes for Perfectly Unique. I’m also completely terrified of what happens when this book gets into A LOT more hands than it has ever seen. I’m also on the edge of my seat watching this story that God is telling.

[So I’m a complicated mess of emotions which is absolutely no different than a normal day in the life of Annie Downs.]


God has done this thing, y’all. I was just a simple school teacher then a little self-published author, then a missionary to Edinburgh. And now- a traditionally published author who, to be honest, sometimes feels tied to the front of a high-speed locomotive called Zondervan.

[I’m terribly grateful for Zondervan and the people there, you know that. But this is just new and weird and humbling and yeah. You get it.]

. . . . .

So here’s what.

I’m asking you to pray. As my real friends, as the ones who are part of this journey, I’m asking you to press in with me on a few areas once a month until the book releases.

On June 4th [today], July 4th [yay America], August 4th [it’ll be hot], and September 4th [release day!].

Four days. All on the 4th.

And these are the four things I would love for you to pray:

1. Pray that the book gets into all of the right hands and none of the wrong ones. Pray that each girl who reads this book would feel enveloped by freedom and grace and love and hope.

2. Pray that God would be high and lifted up, glorified, honored, and loved more deeply by the readers of this book.

3. Pray that God will open all the right doors and close all the wrong doors.

4. Finally. Selfishly. Would you pray for my heart, my relationships, my humility, and my sanity. These are all things I fear losing to some degree at some point in this process.

. . . .

Can ya handle it? Four days. Four prayers. That’s it. [Though, obvi, you are WELCOME to pray as many days and as many prayers as you like. Seriously. I’ll take ’em.]

You in?

{whispering…. thank you.}

The Wasting Hours

on May 15, 2012 in AnnieWrites with 23 comments by

For the last few weeks, I’ve been calling these “the witching hours” until today when I actually went and read the definition of “witching hour” and yikes.

So these hours shall henceforth be known at The Wasting Hours.

. . . . .

It seems, that in my new full-time job as an author, I have fallen headfirst into a pretty regular schedule, for better or for worse. It goes a little something like this:

7am: attempt to wake up, think about waking up, realize that there are authors all over this globe that wake up and write genius pieces of literature in the early morning hours, then realize that my alarm isn’t screaming at me anymore.

7:30am — “Seriously, Downs. Move it.” And I shower, get ready, dilly-dally, etc.

morning — Working. Seriously. These morning hours are my jam. Super productive, flying through work, writing stuff about stuff. Listening to classical music.

Also, I tend to have biz meetings in this window. I’m the best biz-Annie at this time, so I can yell “BUY! SELL! BUY!” and “I WON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN A MILLION!” and “THAT GRANOLA IS DELICIOUS!” with gusto.

12pm — Honestly, I usually have lunch with friends. Or a friend. Or I make friends with people sitting near me wherever I am eating lunch.

1pm – 2:01pm — Finish my Living Social writing that is due everyday at 2pm. [I write the content on the deals for Atlanta and a few other rando cities around the USA.]

2:02pm-5pm — The Wasting Hours.

5pm-7pm — Hard-working time again. Usually while listening to music with words, I bust through emails, blog posts, and get some writing done.

Then it’s dinner and friends and social life until 10ish, when it is back to writing [if I have more to finish] or to reading before bed.

. . . . .

But those Wasting Hours. Man. I don’t know what happens to me. Is this normal? Having a mid-afternoon slump like this? Maybe it is because I used to teach school and we’ve been trained since we were five years old to work from 7am – 2pm [school hours] then rest?

The Wasting Hours always sneak up on me. I will be working on something and then slowly my brain starts to drag. I start clicking from one social media site to another and not really be getting anything accomplished. I look up at my computer clock and it almost always says something in the 2 o’clock hour.

It’s like, ahem, well, clockwork.

Here are some things I end up doing during The Wasting Hours:

  • Nap. Especially if I am going to working late that night, a nap is just what the imaginary doctor ordered.
  • Eat a bowl of cereal. Multi-grain cheerios, please.
  • Walk outside. Even if I just go check the mail [which I actually have a PO Box, so this is never my mail], I feel like I’m not wasting my life. You know, during The Wasting Hours.
  • Read blogs. This is a great time for me to read other blogs and comment.
  • Get lost in the basement of the internet. Tell me you don’t, but I won’t believe you.
  • Feel like I’m throwing away my career because I cannot for the life of me get focused.

. . . . .

Am I a total freak for having The Wasting Hours? Am I a total idiot for thinking I’m the only one who has The Wasting Hours? Does anybody else deal with this? What do you do to get out of your slump?

Teach me your ways, effective afternooners.

Provoked To Newness Interviews

on April 17, 2012 in AnnieWrites with 6 comments by

Well. If you ever wished that you could hear me talk for a solid eighty minutes, here’s your chance.

You lucky dog, you.

Dr. Alan Brisco, from Wisdom For A Change, and I chatted for a while and first of all, I think he is awesome. Secondly, he’s Canadian and I’m kinda mad that I forgot to tell him about the one time I’ve been to Canada and had a milkshake.

Thirdly [is that a word?], my voice is so annoying to me. I hope it annoys you less than it annoys me.

This interview comes in four parts. Just click on the banner and listen away!

(#1 is mostly about how I got here….)

(#2 is about From Head To Foot…..)

(#3 is about the book and where we’re going ….)

(#4 is about my friends and Perfectly Unique ….)

I really like these four podcasts, each about 20 minutes long, because I feel like it is the most comprehensive interview I’ve done about my career, my history [My her-story? You’re welcome.], and what’s coming with Perfectly Unique.

And because you are my friends, I’ll tell you how the whole thing really looked. I want you to be able to picture it. I was sitting at my kitchen table, talking on Anita the iPhone to Dr. Brisco in Canada [where I had a milkshake in 2003] and quietly snacking on Trader Joe’s fruit snacks. I also had a glass of sweet tea but I felt like when I drank it, it made my throat feel goopy. So I didn’t drink it.

[That is far more info than you care about. But. I just wanted you to know. I think part of the fun of us being friends right now, when all this crazy new career stuff is going on, is that you get to hear what is really going on. My throat was goopy. That’s reality, y’all.]

Hope this gives you a little entertainment on your Tuesday!

[Thanks a million to Dr. Brisco and the folks at Wisdom For A Change for featuring me- I am so grateful. And thank you, Canada, for that milkshake that one time.]

World Wide Web Wound-up!

on February 15, 2012 in AnnieWrites, Mocha Club with 4 comments by

That is actually supposed to say “round-up” but I couldn’t resist the alliteration and the mental picture of a four year old cowboy yelling it across the prairie.

[I love the West. I’m in bad need of a trip to the Oregon Trail and the cowboy territories of the USA.]

I don’t have a ton of time today [lots to do on the ranch…. I’m gonna ride this Western theme out today], but I’ve got some great linky-poos to share with you, so let’s go!

. . . . .

LOOM DECOR— one of my dearest friends just launched an amazing chic design-your-own décor shopping experience. According to Nichole [my friend], “We enable customers to get a designer look, all on their own by giving them access to designer fabrics and custom products, allow people to ‘try on’ their choices with our virtual tool, and get advice and inspiration from Loom.” And they make all the products here in Nashville and ship them to you! [Local stuff, y’all. Local stuff.]

Pretty much, it’s the most fun decor website in the world. You mix and match fabrics until you are drooling over your new bedroom designs, and then you click “ORDER” and they are yours!

You have to have a password to get in, and lucky for you, I know somebody who knows somebody who makes up passwords. So use LOVELOOM and you’ll be in lickity-split.

Also, when you watch this video, look for a secret code to get a discount while you are shopping. 🙂

. . . . .

SheSeeks article – I wrote an article this week for my friends over at SheSeeks about how to speak kindly to yourself. It’s more important that you realize.

. . . . .

Olive & Jane Millinery – Speaking of cool new companies, sheesh. The hats these girls at Olive & Jane are making blow my mind. [Accidental head pun? You betcha.] They are beautiful and reasonably priced for the handiwork. If you are a hat-wearin’ kind of cowgirl [stretching it…], then you should check them out. Even if you aren’t, you won’t be able to resist perusing.

. . . . .

True Love Lies – Wes Howard, the pastor of Cross Point Downtown, did an amazing talk last week about true love vs. real love vs. perfect love. Confused? Then watch the sermon. You’ll get it. It is so so good.

. . . . .

Mocha Club – welp. This happened yesterday. And I’m SUPER excited about it. [Obviously I’m not a musician. But Mocha Club also partners with author/speakers. Don’t worry, I’m keeping my singing voice to myself.] It’s the beginning of a lot of exciting things I get to tell you soon. I would LOVE for you to join me, for just $7 a month, and help bring Education to people in Africa. If you join my team, you get a free copy of my book, too! Read more on the Education projects and see what an amazing difference just $7 a month can make.

. . . . .

Off the feed to cattle and slop the pigs and chew on a piece of hay.

[Reality: off to a staff meeting and then finishing some writing work and then eating lunch with a friend. The truth is so boring and un-cowboyish.]

Your turn! Any cool new links to share?

I haven’t forgotten.

on January 11, 2012 in AnnieWrites, Dreams Coming True with 21 comments by

Part 1. I haven’t forgotten that I have a blog. I promise.

Part 2. I haven’t forgotten the things you said to me on December 9, 2010.

I like to go back and read that blog post. I like to think about all the things that you want to do with your life. I like to wonder if you have made a move in the direction of that dream. Or I wonder if sometimes you remember what you wrote.

It was a simple question…

Be brave.

Just say it.

My dream is __________________.

. . . . .

And it is amazing to read the comments and see the ones that have come to pass. Like Jessica.

Yep. That’s the same girl you see in my picture taken in downtown Prague. She did it. She moved there.

. . . . .

And look at Jamie.

Now she has a booth at the Tennessee Antique Mall. Amazing, yeah?

And I just have to wonder about the other 85 commenters. Have they stepped towards that dream?

. . . . .

I had a birthday in 2006.

My family and I went to one of my favorite restaurants. I ordered grilled chicken and the most delicious macaroni and cheese that I’ve ever tasted. [The restaurant has since closed and I mourn that.]

My dad passed over a card. Inside was a small sum of money and a handwritten note. On the note he said, “I hope this helps you step towards your dream of being an author.”

And it did. And I did. And here we are.

. . . . .

Last week I went to my storage unit. [Yes, I’m still mildly homeless. No biggie.] I was looking for a dress that I never found. But I did find one thing I was really looking for. That note from my dad that is displayed in a simple black frame.

I’m stepping again. I’ll tell you all about it soon. But I’m taking some big steps towards some new dreams and I wanted to put that letter on my desk again. I wanted to remember that no matter what, Mama and Daddy took the first step for me. No step is scary when you have those kind of people stepping with you.

I’m making new dreams. Stepping into old dreams. And somehow, releasing those dreams that I have completed… though I don’t know what that looks like yet.

. . . . .

So I think of you.

Are you stepping towards the dream you were brave enough to confess a year ago?

Do you have new dreams that you are ready to proclaim to this corner of the internet?

Update me.

Tell me new dreams.

Tell me that you haven’t forgotten.

Winners of the Christmas pack!!

on December 20, 2011 in AnnieWrites with 4 comments by

Get ready, people. Santa Annie is sending you a little mail today! Here are the winners, as picked by my top elf,

#31. Libbi H … she’s giving the extra copy to her cousin or her best friend. Blood is thicker than water, Libbi. But BFFs are thicker than jello. So…. I’m glad that’s your choice and not mine. 🙂

#46. Kelley … she wants to give her copy to the 10th grade girls Sunday school teacher. I give that choice two thumbs up. Also, I wore the same jacket to school every Wednesday of 10th grade. You’re welcome.

#75. Heather … congrats to the two lucky girls at Heather’s church that are about to get free books for Christmas!

#62. Amy Pitman … she’s giving her copy to a senior at church. I like seniors. Seniors are finishers.

#114. Jennifer … her sister is getting the extra copy. You know what they say in White Christmas- “there were never such devoted sisters…”

Congrats, ladies! Check your email for details and so I can get your addresses and put these in the mail first thing tomorrow!

For the rest of you, we only have about TEN Christmas packs left and if you buy today, I’ll mail it tomorrow. So anyone in the continental US *should* get it by Christmas [no promises here, peeps].


Oh man. I love days when people are winners. Sigh….. Happy Tuesday.

Christmasy giveaway!

on December 19, 2011 in AnnieWrites, Giveaways with 116 comments by

So I made a silly mistake when I mailed out a bunch of the Christmas gift packs last week.

I included a candy cane.

Seems like a simple addition, does it not? Just a little candy cane to brighten the spirits, and the breath, of young ladies around the USA.

Unfortunately, it seems, from what I’ve heard from a few of you, that the Christmas gift packs were stomped and smashed and sent through an oven because candy cane shrapnel is meltingly covering every corner of your gift pack.

I’m really sorry…. for having too much holiday spirit and it causing a peppermint flavored disaster.

If that is the case for you, and your poster or bookmarks or anything are messed up, please just email me (annieblogs [at] gmail [dot] com) and let me know your address and what needs replacing and I’ll ship it out today. No biggie. My pleasure. My fault. Let me replace the candy caned products.

. . . . .

Now to the fun stuff. We have a few of the Christmas gift packs left and I’d like to mail one to you! Well, “you” being a few lucky blog readers. Here’s the dealio….

I want to send you a full gift pack PLUS an additional copy of the book for you to give away to someone in your life!

Here’s how to win:

1. Leave a comment below and tell me who you would get that extra copy of the book that will be in your mailbox.

2. You can leave a SECOND comment saying that you like me on facebook… either you already do or you pop over, click LIKE, and then come back and say, “I like your page on facebook.”

3. You can leave a THIRD comment saying that you follow me on twitter… either you already do or you pop over, click FOLLOW, and then come back and say, “I follow you on twitter.”

So, you can have THREE different comments total. As many as the gifts the wise men brought…. which, if you read the story closely, you see that they also included candy canes in their packages. [No they didn’t.]

How many gift packs am I giving away? FIVE. FIVE lucky winners will get a gift pack shoved in the mail, sans candy cane, on Tuesday [so you have until Tuesday morning when I wake up and get movin’ to enter].

BRING ON THE WINNING! Ready… set… go!

A few things about a few things.

on December 16, 2011 in AnnieWrites with 3 comments by

I’m alive!

In crazy weeks like this, if you are worried that something disastrous has happened to my mortal body, you should probably check on twitter. Or Instagram. [I love me some Instagram.] Or facebook. Really, whatever your heart desires. Because I’m able to pop in easier over there.

But hey! I’m popping in here at AnnieBlogs! Yay!

Important news: thanks to Santa making a super early stop in my life :), I got the new iPhone yesterday.

Old iPhone’s name is Anita. New iPhone’s name is Anita New iPhone. [Get it? Me hopes so.]

I’m in a wedding on Saturday …. one of my dearest friends from my years in Athens, GA. So I head over to Athens for the weekend to celebrate her and him and to dance and to wear a pretty dress and see tons of friends and do all the things that college Annie loved to do. [Except eat chicken out of a can. I don’t like that anymore.]

Also… final notice… we have a couple of CHRISTMAS GIFT PACKS left if you wanna scoop one up. We’ll mail a final group of ’em on Monday, so you’ve got until then!

Finally…. pictures of where I’ve been all your week….

Decorating cookies with my important [albeit small] people …

Eating with the Mocha Club staff at Loveless Cafe….

Being hilarious with Cara Davis and Kyle Chowning at Help-Portrait

Going to my VERY FIRST Tennessee Titans football game… [this is Heather. You would love her.]

Throwing surprise birthday parties for a BFF who legitimately was so surprised that she could not speak….

So that’s where I’ve been! But I’m back in action, y’all. We’re leaving 2011 with a bloggy bang! See you Monday [with a giveaway…ooohhhhhh…..]!!

How was your week? 

. . . . .

PS- Today is an important day. Another BFF of mine, Marisa, turns 30. So would you pop over to her blog or send a tweet to her (@marisavh) and send big bday wishes? I’ve told her over and over again… being in your 30s is amazing. But you could probably remind her… I mean, if you are in your 30s +. If you are in your 20s, probably don’t bring that up.

Love you, Maris! Excited to live this decade with you!

Christmas gift pack 2011!

on December 2, 2011 in AnnieWrites, I heart books. with 7 comments by

Well, people. It is finally here.

I am so excited show you the AWESOME From Head to Foot Christmas Gift Pack for 2011! I called up a bunch of my buddies and got everybody together in Annie’s Christmas workshop and said, “let’s make the coolest Christmas gift pack ever.”

So we did.

If you have a girl in your life that is, ya know, 13-25 years old, and you like to buy her a Christmas present, you should get her this. She’ll be happy and clap and hug you and stuff. [That’s not a guarantee… my lawyer/mother says I shouldn’t make those.]

Here are the details:

The 2011 Christmas Gift Pack costs only $30 (that includes shipping for USA residents!).

The package includes :

An autographed copy of From Head to Foot… my book… you know… I wrote it.

An autographed copy of Matt Wertz’s new Christmas album Snow Globe

[You know I love Wertz. He’s such a good dude. But even if I didn’t, I would tell you- this album is GUH-REAT.]

One of a kind poppy pin … looks so cute on a backpack, headband, as a brooch or as a pin. With about 30 different fabrics and a few different designs, you can be assured that your poppy pin is totally unique! There are two clasps on the back… so you can either pin it or clip it!

[You know why? Because my friend Katie B, who made these AND is seen here wearing one of the poppys, thinks of everything. So clip and pin? Check and check.]

Cool *brand new* 11×17 poster!

This beautifully designed poster is bright and fun and has a memory verse for each chapter.

Such a great encouragement for girls to see on a daily basis!

[I am BEYOND excited about this poster… I mean, SUCH a cute addition to the AnnieBlogs world.]

. . . . .

So what I’m saying is….

BOOK + CD + PIN + POSTER + (random Christmasy things I find in my local Target) + SHIPPING = $30

Happiness in the eyes of your friend /child /granddaughter /amiga /roommate /girlfriend when they open this multi-faceted gift = I wanna say priceless, but actually, we both know that you paid $30 for that. So the answer still is… $30.

I’m tired, so I’m making dumb jokes.


Big thanks to Matt Wertz, Katie Edwards, Jordan Duncan, and Emily Keafer for helping make this Gift Pack happen.

Y’all have a great weekend… and if you wanna, feel free to pass this info along to anybody who you think may be looking to give a cool Christmas gift this year.

We have a limited amount of Christmas gift packs left [my newsletter peeps got first dibs], so hurry and order!

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