The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee



THE BOOK: “The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee.”


THE AUTHOR: Talya Tate Boerner

THE EDITOR: Before I submitted my manuscript, I hired professional editor, Deborah Meghnagi Bailey (, to edit my novel. I would also like to give a shout out to the team of editors at SYP Publishing.

THE PUBLISHER: My publisher is Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) Publishing located in Tallahassee, Florida. SYP is a small publishing house that promotes southern authors, which appealed to me.

SUMMARYThe Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is southern fiction set in the Mississippi River delta region of Arkansas in the 1970s. The protagonist, ten-year-old Gracie Lee Eudora Abbott, is the daughter of a hardworking cotton farmer who, in Gracie’s words, drinks too much beer, is mean as the devil himself, and is probably going to Hell. Mature and perceptive beyond her years, Gracie is unwilling to be seen and not heard. Her mind is crammed packed with questions—simple questions about day-to-day things and bottomless thoughts like why she was born to Lee and Anne Abbott instead of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. As Gracie tries to understand and save the world around her, she often lands in trouble, even in a place where nothing exciting ever happens. Themes of Accidental Salvation include coming of age, loss of innocence, man versus nature, family struggles, end of life issues, isolation, and salvation. There is humor too. Regular, real-life, laugh-out-loud humor.

THE BACK STORY: If I go all the way back to the beginning, my book began as a series of short blog posts on my personal blog, Grace, Grits and Gardening. A year or so later, I began compiling the posts into a more cohesive story. In reality, Accidental Salvation began as memoir. It was originally much shorter—novella length—and had a different name. After several rejections and consistent feedback that it wasn’t marketable (read = my real life wasn’t interesting enough), I rewrote the entire story and gave myself permission to go the fiction route. The story and plot line took an entirely different route. The re-write and first few rounds of edits took another year. Although the story began as memoir, there was still a fair amount of research to be done primarily regarding news events and pop culture of the 1970s. Eudora Welty said, “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” The setting for my book, Mississippi County, Arkansas, is my “one place understood”. Although I didn’t have to research the location, I did go home to Northeast Arkansas quite often to write.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title came about quite accidentally. I was attending a writer retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas, and I had just finished the last chapter of my manuscript. As I read aloud a certain section of the story to the group, one of my writer friends made a reference to accidental salvation. The title of the book grew from there. I’ve been asked if salvation can really be accidental? Without giving anything away, I encourage my readers to think beyond the strict religious definition of salvation and consider there are many situations from which one needs saving.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? What makes your book unique, and what niche audiences might it reach? My story is real and relatable. It’s poignant, heartwarming and humorous. While we all come from diverse backgrounds and grew up in different time periods, I believe there’s a little of Gracie Lee in all of us. The story will appeal not only to readers of southern fiction, but young adult readers, folks who enjoy mysteries and stories with a strong sense of place.


“There’s magic here, in a wonderfully-told story that will find a special place in any reader’s heart.” –Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author in both fiction and nonfiction.

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is one of the best books I have read in a long, long while. Integrating themes of substance abuse, lessons in morality, and timeless fears of coming of age, author Talya Tate Boerner has excelled in the brilliance of bringing characters to life in her debut novel. The storytelling rarity of multiple story lines is effortlessly successful in this vividly told tale. Boerner utilizes all of the senses to weave a story filled with human emotion so palpable that the reader is forced to step away from the pages in order to digest the full impact of her words. I enthusiastically applaud this story and the future of this author.” — Lisa McCombs of Readers’ Favorite

“The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee by Talya Tate Boerner is a deeply moving story guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.”— Faridah Nassozi, Readers’ Favorite

AUTHOR PROFILE: Talya grew up on a cotton farm in Northeast Arkansas. After thirty years as a commercial banker in Dallas, she returned to the state she loves and now lives in Fayetteville with her husband, John, and two miniature schnauzers. Talya loves the South, witty writing, college football, and the Mississippi Delta. She is a regular contributor to Front Porch Magazine, Only in Arkansas, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute blog. She does her best thinking while wearing gardening gloves and believes most any dish can be improved with a side of collard greens. The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is her debut novel.


WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc.

PRICE: Hardback $29.95; Trade Paperback $17.95.


Twitter: @gracegrits Author website: Blog:

Instagram: @gracegrits



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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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