Have you ever wished that you could teach your child to talk like a hillbilly? Then GOOD NEWS.

I just spent all day Tuesday recording the audio version of Sparkly Green Earrings and I bet if you let your kids listen to it a couple of times a week there’s a good chance that they can achieve the American dream of speaking with a very prominent Texas accent. It’ll be just like that time Madonna lived in London for two years and turned British.

Several weeks ago, they called to tell me they would like to have an audio version of the book and could either hire an actor or I could do it myself. And I decided I should do it myself because, first of all, it would be weird to have someone reading a memoir of my life that isn’t me and, secondly, I didn’t feel like I could subject some poor actor who once had dreams of being a regular on General Hospital to spending hours of their life pretending to be me.

So on Tuesday morning I went to a recording studio here in town. Fortunately it was a different studio than the one I went to when I recorded the video trailer for the book. That experience turned out to be perfectly lovely, but when I pulled up to someone’s house and was asked to go around back to the garage, it all felt a little bit like a scene from Silence of the Lambs.

But the studio on Tuesday was in a real shopping center right next to an Asian restaurant called Wok This Way. So I immediately knew it was legitimate. Then when I went inside I saw that there were signed pictures of Willie Nelson and the owner hanging on the wall and one of my life philosophies has always been that if it’s good enough for Willie then it’s good enough for me.

The studio owner couldn’t have been nicer and he was so patient considering I really had no idea what I was doing. I just kind of pretended like I was reading Harry Potter out loud to Caroline and that it wasn’t being recorded because then I would have totally over-thought the whole thing and sounded like Mary Katherine Gallagher reading a monologue from a Lifetime movie.

For the next seven hours I read my book. And then my throat burst into flames and I died.

The end.

Not really though because then how could I be writing this right now?

The thing is that as I read the book, Bill the studio owner had to follow right along with me to make sure I didn’t miss a word or mess up anything. And I’ve never been more aware that I really wrote the book for women. Poor Bill learned more about my birth story and mechanical breast pumps than he could have possibly ever wanted to know.

But he was sweet and when it was all over he said, “Well now I enjoyed that story.” God bless him. Because you know it was a far cry from Willie Nelson.

I left the studio and felt like I’d run a marathon. But I made a quick stop at HEB to buy some Ricola cough drops in attempt to salvage my voice. Then I bought some pork chops because I had big plans to cook dinner.

Fortunately, when I walked through the door, P recognized that I could barely speak and suggested we order pizza. This is how I know he knows me. Because, technically, I don’t need my voice to cook but he knew pizza would be my love language.

As we ate dinner, I listened to them talk about their days because I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but OH MY THROAT. Caroline had taken the first part of the STARR exam that day. (STARR is the name of the worthless and expensive standardized tests that are issued in Texas schools.)

She had taken the writing portion of the test and I asked her what it entailed. Caroline said, “We had to write about our favorite season. So I wrote about deer season.”

We’ve raised her right.

And then I drank some hot tea, popped a few more Ricolas and went to bed.

The good news is I woke up on Wednesday with a voice, but then went to work out at Smart Barre. So now I can speak but I might not be able to use my arms until some time Friday afternoon.

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  1. says

    1. As a teacher, LOVE your definition of STAAR and couldn’t agree more!
    2. Carolina deserves a gold star for her writing topic (This coming from someone whose high school mascot was the Antlers and was said mascot).
    3. God Bless Willie!

  2. says

    I an SIII glad to hear you recorded the book. Since the book came out, I have wanted to get it in a format where I could hear you reading it to me. And now, I can!

    Life. It is good.

    Thanks to Big Mama.

  3. Jenny F. says

    I saw your twitter comment about Caroline’s favorite season paper.. I laughed out loud and forwarded it to my daughter. Only in Texas! Loved it..

    • Kathryn says

      Cheryl, I had just taken a sip of my hot tea as well and just about spit it everywhere when I read that as well!! Love that Caroline! :) This comment will have me laughing all day, Mel!

  4. says

    Melanie, When I read your book I could “hear” your voice and it added so much to the fun! Thank goodness for all those “podcasts” you and Sophie did because both of you have such wonderful Southern(yes I consider Texas southern) accents! And I know I will “hear” Sophie’s voice when I read her new book!

  5. BethA says

    Well, your throat is sore and my abs are sore … from laughing! The recording studio, the accent, deer season, Wok This Way. Good grief, you have flat cracked me up this morning!

    Ps — when you mentioned Wok this Way, for some reason I started thinking about the dearly-departed Wok-A-Mole that was just down the street from La Fogata. Remember it? Well, we never went there, because, well, Wok-A-Mole. But the whole concept cracked me up. Mexican Mongolian Barbecue. Who would have thought up such a thing??

  6. says

    NO ONE ELSE would’ve been able to read your book the way you can! I’m so glad you decided to do it. And, I think men need to know more about how hard child birthing is anyway! Love you, I love starting my day with your post. You’re my inspiration!
    “Sherra’s Take”

  7. says

    I love that you recorded it yourself!

    If you live in Texas and want to greatly reduce testing as well as give more flexibility back to high school students (they have virtually no electives and massively more testing than the lower grades) – the House has passed HB 5 that will do this!

    But in the Senate, SB 3 and SB 1724 are in danger of being killed on the floor. Contact your State Senator and let them know you support SB3 and SB 1724, and if they fail ask them to support HB 5 when it goes to conference committee.

    You can find your representatives here:

    And thus ends this public service announcement. :)

  8. Beverly says

    I love that Caroline! Deer season!! My best friend is a English professor at a university and she often grades those types of tests for extra money. She LOVES the ones with a little different spin and I know she would LOVE to read her essay!

  9. says

    Congratulations on recording your audio book! How exciting! I guess I never really thought about how that actually happens, but I never pictured the book being read all at once. You deserve a gold medal. Or Nobel Peace Prize. Or a lifetime supply of Haagen Dazs.

    Caroline deserves all of the above, plus a few extra days at the ranch, for her deer season essay. It sounds like she has inherited her Mom’s wonderful, hilarious, creative writing talents…

    • says

      I was going to say the same–that was interesting about the audio recording experience! I always assumed it took weeks and there were more directors around. I cannot imagine recording an entire book in one day. I try to record one voicemail and I want to redo it about 12 times.

  10. Stephanie Zapata says

    Whenever I hear myself talking on a video I think “goodness, do I REALLY sound like that?”. I sound like a hick and I’m originally from Illinois!! My son took the same STAAR writing and said he wrote about summer. When I asked him if he gave good reasoning he said “nope”. nice…proud mama moment…

  11. says

    Too funny. I had no idea you had to record all in one sitting. That’s insane! Also- when I read the title I was thinking RC Cola not RICola. Oh well- guess I have caffeine on the brain as usual. So, are you a big hunter? For some reason, I can’t picture it. Amy

  12. Dawn says

    What’s funny is I heard your voice in my head when I read your book. Not that I know you, but from videos that you’ve posted. Everything I read had a southern twang to it. I don’t think it would have been the same with another voice. By the way, loved the book!

  13. Christy says

    We are from Southeast Texas and when I hear my recorded voice I think that can’t possibly be me! STARR testing here too…LOVE the description. Hopefully it will go the way of TAKS, TAAS and the rest of them.
    Deer Season, Baseball Season, Fishing Season…do others not have these seasons? Great that Caroline picked her favorite!

    • says

      I’m from Southeast Texas too and I know what you mean about hearing your recorded voice. BLECH! And I agree the only seasons are deer, fishing, baseball, and for some strange reason hockey. I think hockey because it’s cold and snow and I would love for tmy boys to have a white Christmas just once.

    • Jeannette says

      ok, South east Texas here too! We have four seasons. Hot and humid, cool and wet, hurricane season and love bug season. Of course the mid-county people have football season year round.

  14. says

    1. Help us ALL survive the %*$&# STAAR test (I’ve been cooped up with freshmen for 3 days now-send help).
    2. Bless your Caroline for providing the graders what will be a much needed laugh during evaluations.
    3. Did I mention I LOATHE the STAAR test?

    • Megan says


      I just had to comment because in my head, I thought “Football season would be my favorite season” and then I saw your comment and laughed because I’m an Ole Miss girl too!

      Hotty toddy! :)

  15. Strawberry rose says

    Love that Caroline wrote about deer season! I would love to hear you reading your book. I know it sounds great! A friend of mine works for a production company. That’s how I found myself in a recording studio recording a radio jingle. I had a blast! Glad you didn’t have to cook.

  16. Marie M.C. says

    I had always assumed that when an actor or author read their book it was done over a period of days. Like you’d read for an hour or two then come back the next day. I’ve NO idea how on earth you managed to talk/read aloud for SEVEN hours straight. OK. I realize you’re not under the earth digging for coal (or gold or diamonds — which I’ve heard are also back breaking work — but . . . Applause, applause! And applause and bravo to Caroline for picking the perfect season to write about. Bet she makes her dad and you so proud! p.s. Love to read her paper.

  17. says

    My kids took the Starr test. I know hate is a strong word but I hate those standardized tests! I loved Sparkley Green Earrings, so much that I have let all of my friends borrow my copy. Loved that Caroline put Deer Season.

  18. says

    Did you mention a few weeks ago that you were writing a marriage memoir? Well, if you are, and if they want an audio version, you and P should totally do it together.

  19. Kimberly M. says

    My sophomore son has been in the middle of STARR as well. Last night he informed me that one of the writing prompts was whether they like a small town or a big city best. Although I already knew which he likes best, I asked what he wrote about. He casually said “Oh, I wrote that I like a small town best. I really don’t, I really like the city best, but the small town thing was just easier!” Way to be an overachiever son! 😉

    • Marilyn says

      Your comment about the question convinced me the testing in TX is as worthless as here in OK. If a kid has lived his/her entire life in a big city, how are they supposed to know anything about a small town, enough to write about it? Sometimes, I think legislators should take the tests, and let’s all see how smart they are.

  20. says

    my daughter is going to take N.J.ASK which i think is a waste of time for her. She has been taking the ASK since she was in 3rd grade which in her words ” Hasn’t helped her one bit because she still has to go to Hunterton for math.”

  21. Kendra says

    One of the STAAR writing prompts for freshman was “write about a time you took care of someone”. One of my daughter’s friends thought she’d get sympathy points if she made up a story about taking care of her mom who had cancer. I’m not sure if she’ll get sympathy points, but she’ll definitely get points for making the judges laugh since she said that her mom had prostate cancer. Oops…..

  22. says

    Amen about your def of the STAAR test. So glad my girl is graduating and escaping that. But it applied to TAKS too. LOL Kendra’s comment above. My girl always made up her stories for the prompts too because they were so lame.

    Don’t even get me started on the TEA not letting our school be closed for the second day in a row today due to water issues because gasp! the sophomores would have to make up the STAAR test and it would be split over a weekend. The test apparently trumps student/water safety. Who cares if the cafeteria has to boil all the water and if they have to provide hand sanitizer in all the bathrooms…. The test must go on.

    Oh, and I loved your story about reading your book. I didn’t miss that. Didn’t mean to make my whole comment about your one parenthetical statement. LOL

  23. lauren says

    Willie Nelson, breast pumps and deer season all in the same post.

    This is a CLASSIC.

  24. says

    Wellll it’s ironic you wrote about your book today because I definitely finished reading it a few hours ago! I started it yesterday and couldn’t put it down – honestly I have never LOL’ed while reading a book as much as I did while reading yours :) Loved it!

  25. Jessica says

    My 4th grader wrote about Thanksgiving for the STAAR test on Tuesday. When I asked him what he was supposed to write about, he said: “A season”. So I politely mentioned that Thanksgiving wasn’t exactly a “season”, to which he quickly replied, “Mom, it’s called the Christmas season, so of course it’s also known as the Thanksgiving season”. (Because 10 year olds know.it.all!)
    The more I thought about it, the more upset I got because writing is NOT black & white. The graders/judges/poor souls are supposed to be checking to make sure that they stayed on topic, and used good basic spelling & grammar. It’s such a fine line because some people put a comma before the word “and”, and some don’t. It’s not like 2+2=4.
    So all of that to say that if you catch someone on a good day, it might be the difference between passing and failing the writing portion of one of these tests. UGH!

  26. says

    Good gravy! Deer season! I sincerely love that. And the fact that anything that’s good enough for Willie is good enough for you – well that just makes me smile and love you even more.

  27. Sherri Len says

    Deer season…go Caroline! Too funny.
    Marshmallows, my dear. Slowly suck a few when you have a sore throat. It will feel better (what a mystery, but it works) and you’ll feel like a kid, poppin’ marshmallows. It’s a good reason to keep a fresh bag at all times. Just sayin’.

  28. Melissa says

    Oh my gosh!! I just spit on my computer screen. Caroline is wonderful. I wish I could be her teacher and read her writing every day! You are hilarious. My 15 y-o daughter just finished your book (she and I were reading together and she stole it from me before I finished. You appeal to all demographics!!) and we were talking about an audio version. I will be buying it specifically to hear you read it. Can’t wait!!

  29. Melissa R says

    I have just started following your blog after seeing your post at inCourage and I love what you have to say. As a feloow Texan I totallly agree with the recorded voice thing…ugh. I also like your daughters response to her writing topic and hope my daughter does the same when she starts school (living in Kerrville, Texas will probably help since deer hunting is huge!). Thanks for sharing your life through your blog and I can’t wait to read your book!