New Book! Going to the Water You Can Pre-order!

It’s time to pre-order! You can order from our local Indie bookstore FoxTale. Remember my book launch will be November 13 at 2pm. I’m so excited about this book. Preorder now to make sure you get a copy.

FoxTale Bookshope Amazon

Going to the Water is my first novel in five years. I’m so excited about this book because I stepped out of my comfort zone. This book is the first in what will be a trilogy set in the Nantahala Gorge in North Carolina. Going to the Water is my first attempt at writing a contemporary novel.

Most of my books begin with questions that I need answered. Going to the Water began percolating in my thoughts in the fall of 2014. My youngest daughter was a sophomore in high school, and we suddenly had to move from the home where she had lived all her life. Someone I had counted as a dear, dear friend had betrayed me, and the friendship could not be saved. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a neighbor I much admired, who marched at Selma, Alabama in the sixties, who I thought had many of my same views, told me that the star quarterback for the local high school–my daughter went to another school–had slipped into the basement of the gym on a weekend and killed himself. Turns out many of the kids at this school had started a rumor that the young man, a senior, was gay. The rumor spread like wildfire through the school and community. When I recovered from my naive shock that things like this still happened and asked the neighbor why the football player with a promising college career would do such a thing, she said the school kids couldn’t tolerate their star quarterback being gay and she couldn’t blame them. Of course no one knew for sure whether the rumors were true, only that a handful of people decided to make a judgement and strike out on their own vigilante crusade. I was speechless and heartbroken that such a thing could happen in 2014 in a neighborhood of Atlanta, a progressive city.

These were the ingredients that helped me give birth to my characters Isla Weehunt and Randal Leech. Two people so different that had they not been thrown together through tragedy, they never would have crossed paths. Isla is the wife of a successful farmer, who enjoys their wealth and standing in the small mountain town. She has a secret that only her husband knows. She escaped a humdrum life in her hometown of Nantahala and never went back. Never. For no reason. Randal is a junior in high school. He’s the kid that all the tough guys pick on because he is different. He doesn’t play sports. He doesn’t go hunting. He likes to read. His mother was the loose woman in town. his grandmother is crazy as a loon. Randal is judged on his family’s past and the bullies’ comments.

Going to the Water is a book about passing judgment, about throwing stones when one lives in a glass house, but the story is so much more. It’s a book about the shame most people carry around. Shame saddled on their backs early in life. There is the love of place and nature, a saving grace. The humanity of a father’s legacy. It’s a tale of forgiveness and the rough road that one has to travel to get there. A murder and the fight for the truth. It’s a mystery that will leave the reader guessing until the last few pages.

My wonderful publisher, Firefly Southern Fiction, turned out this brilliant book cover. I hope all the readers will love it like I do.

Not What I Thought It Would Be

  Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford surprised me. The book begins from William Eng, a Chinese American boy, who lives in an orphanage in 1934 Seattle. Now anyone who knows me, knows I love the Depression Era and I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle. This is the classic story of orphaned boy thinking maybe his mother really didn’t die. Twelve-year-old William sets out with his friend Charlotte, who is blind, to find his mother. He believes a rising silver screen star, Willow Frost, is her. I was reminded of a classic middle school book, Bud, Not Buddy–one of my favorite reads with my daughter. But boy was I wrong. The plot took an unexpected turn–and you know I love unexpected turns. William confronts Willow Frost and the novel switches to her point of view for most of the book. We learn this quiet, elegant, woman’s intriguing  story. Ford is a master at writing from a woman’s point of view. Beautiful. The research is outstanding. This is my first book by Mr. Ford, and I know I will read his first. I strongly suggest you buy Songs of Willow Frost for any book junkie out there this holiday season.

I hope all will have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Me, I’m snuggled in with a right fine book by Michael Farris Smith called Rivers. Watch for the review. 


The Madness of NaNoWrimo

Writing 50,000 words in less than thirty days is pure madness on a good month when life is going like you want. Ah, but how often does life go like you want it? So far my total for the first five days is 20,459 words.

This is totally amazing to me considering what has been taken place here on the home front. First, I have my granddaughter with me. So, I’m mom to a lively toddler again, and she has a cold. Second, I volunteer at the local school every week. I read for three hours. Talk about exhausting. But I so love reading to the kids. Third, I have accepted book review assignments for three new books not counting my reviewing I do for a New York Publisher. But these new reviews were offered to me by publishers where I reviewed before. In other words they requested me. It is hard to say no when the books are so important and come from smaller literary presses that are sending important writing voices into the world. Plus, I am exposed to some of the finest writing in the country. One being Mary Jo Bang’s new book of poetry. You talking about beautiful.

So, what have I learned from the madness this year? I think I’ve learned the same thing I learn each year but need a reminder. I can do whatever means most to me. Writing and reading goes hand in hand. I learn tons about my own voice from both.

The word count of 20,459 is nothing to sneeze at. I’m almost to the halfway point. I think this is my best year ever if I don’t lose footing along the way. It is my goal to get a rough, rough draft of the whole novel.

Off to write and then a little walk.

In The Space Of Five Minutes

In the space of five short minutes, one’s whole life can change. My friends, you think you this to your bone—I was sure I understood—but you don’t know. You can’t until you look the change in the eye.

On Wednesday August 26, 2009, around 5 pm, I opened my back door to make sure my daughter was playing next door. They small group played under the carport and I could hear my daughter laughing. All was well. I went to turn the TV channel, and then decided to put a DVD into he player. I chose the DVD and was placing it in the tray when I saw one of the little boys my daughter was playing with under the carport. He is four years old. I opened the door, not thinking too much about the visit.

“What do you need, Buddy?”

He smiled. “Ella is in trouble by the police.”

I laughed. Ella, a smart lively young girl, was not a child to be in trouble with anyone, especially the police. Becoming a police officer is on her long list of career possibilities.

“Tell her to come home.” I closed the door.

I went to the back door to make sure Ella was on her way. What I saw next is one of the two images that appear imprinted on my mind every time I close my eyes. A police officer was kneeling on one knee reaching to the ground. I knew. I knew. I knew. I screamed to my older daughter that I thought Ella had been hurt. I ran down the hill and realized I was screaming and sobbing. Then I saw the second image that floats into my mind just as I start to slip into a sleep. One of her sandals, with a strap broken, hanging to the side, torn, was turned on its side.

The police officer looked at me. “She came out of nowhere. I never saw her. I couldn’t stop.”

From this point forward, I don’t have the courage, as of yet, to write about. I just can’t wrap my arms around the pictures that flicker in and out when I allow myself to be still. But in that moment that the police officer spoke to me, I became calm. I believe this calm came from God. I understood Ella had been hit by the police car. She was awake and not sure what had happen. I knelt beside the police officer and began to speak to my precious, panic-ridden child. I took her hand and began to speak in a calm voice. I talked through a throng of EMTs. I talked through an ambulance ride that seemed to last forever. I talked as needles were used. I talked as vital signs beeped and blinked on a screen. I talked through a battery of x-rays. I talked until the doctor came into the room with the best words I had ever heard. Only a mild concussion, badly bruised knee, and a deep cut under the eye. She could go home once the wound was closed.

I have been strangely silent, unable to speak of the personal hell I walked through. I couldn’t sleep and writing was a joke. I’ve always been able to write my way through problems.

My child was alive and healthy and I was overjoyed. Life was crystal clear. But at the same time I sunk head first in to the reality of the event. I have no control, none. This is a lesson I thought I had learned already.

Today I spoke to the investigating officer. I told him Ella was back to her normal fun-loving self. I ask him to tell the officer that struck Ella that we didn’t blame him and that we should all move forward and leave that day behind. But can I? At this point, I don’t think so. At this point, I think this experience has soaked into to who I am, transforming me once again.

When I hung up the phone, I was more at peace than I had been since this ordeal began. The images have not gone from my mind. Last night I began to cry to think I had to let go and send Ella back to school Monday. But all of this does not have the power that it held two days ago. Will it disappear? No. A close family member, who went through something similar, says the emotions can come back years later, but still we go on. We celebrate life and live it to its fullest.

And as you can see, I’ve been able to compose sentences again. God is good. Count your blessings today. In this way you honor our wonderful, dynamic little girl we call a miracle.

God Bless


What’s New Research

After teaching at a retreat on St. Simons Island, I took the long way home so I could go through the town that will be in my next novel, Darien Georgia. What a wonderful little place. I’ve included some photos. Writing go well.

What’s Going On Now?

My novel, Beautiful Wreck, was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Not too bad. Here’s a link to the first three chapters at Amazon. Here’s a link to the first three chapters on Amazon.


Don’t forget I will be speaking/teaching at Scribblers’ Writing Retreat on Sea Island in August.

I’ve just published a new essay, A Peanut Butter Sanwich and A Glass of Sweet Tea

Also Tacky Yard Ornaments can be read at Birmingham Arts Journal.

Camping In The Backyard

Who said you can’t have a vacation at home? We, like most of the country, are feeling the money crunch, so our annual short camping trips have been curtailed for a while. Ah, but does that defeat us? Nope. We set up camp yesterday in our big spacious backyard, complete with decent size kiddie pool, spacious tent, and the fire bowl.

We swam most of the day, ate dinner, and invited the neighborhood kids to make smores over the fire. At one point I had seven kids running through our yard, catching fireflies in the dusk. At that moment, I realized it’s not where we go on vacation that makes the trip fun. We were making huge memories right there in our own space. Around eleven we went to bed in our tent that has a roof of screen. The sky never looked so beautiful. I fell asleep watching the stars. What could be better?

The neighbors want to know when we’re going to go camping again ;).

Who Gets Their Hands Dirty Nowadays

What are we willing to do to make a difference in the world? Recently I was thinking about why I attend my church. Was it the music? Was it the people? Was it the sermons? While all of the above things are wonderful, I realized one reason I was led to be at this church was the congregation’s passion. They reach out to the community through many different means. I’m drawn to give through their example. I’ve gone past that place in my life where I talk politics with a fervor. I now realize–maybe it’s age–that talk just doesn’t cut it. You can discuss an issue into the ground without change. What brings about different circumstances is stepping one foot in front of the other until I’m outside the door. Making a difference takes a lot of hot sweaty work. It requires one to step outside her box. So, I decided to open my door and step outside and offer my writing skills and journaling class to my local homeless women’s shelter. I’m now waiting for their decision on whether to allow me to come into their world. You see these fifty women are picky about who they let into their lives. They stay in a shelter started by a recovering drug addict, who decided to give back the grace God showed him. He is walking his talk.

The shelter allows only sincere, committed doers into their lives. These women have set their standards high in one of the toughest times when its to except whatever. They don’t have time to discuss the president’s proposed health plan as I was yesterday. Their lives reveal the misuse of overstated politics. Life for these ladies is real and down to earth each day.

I’ve come to realize it is so easy for me to form an opinion on what is right for this country and quite another thing to act on this opinion with the same fervor. It is time for me to really walk my talk.

If everyone reading this decided to act on their heart, what kind of difference would we make? No, we won’t carve out the new health care plan, but maybe. just maybe we will allow one person to see a doctor, read a book, go to a job interview, feel good about who he or she sees in the mirror.

Whose life are you willing to touch? I challenge you to walk your talk!


Speaker and Teacher

I have been invited to speak at Scribbers Writing Retreat and Conference in August of this year. See information below.

Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference 2009

Literacy is our purpose.

Fulfilling dreams is our goal.

1-800-996-2904 (Registration/Reservations)

@ Sea Palms Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia

February 12-15, 2009 History Fiction/Non-Fiction/Romance

Elizabeth Blahnik, Ernest Gilbert, Pam Mueller, Kathy Kerr, Maggie Toussaint, Dr. Jim Outlaw, Lee Carter, Millie Wilcox, Monica Simmons, Roger Pinckney

May 14-17, 2009 – How To…

Dickie Anderson (F), Ed Ginn, Harlan Hambright, Holly McClure, Cappy Rearick, Dr. Ervin Williams, Constance Daley, Bud Hearn, Mary Wagner, Dr.William Rawlings

August 13-16, 2009 – SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, Inspirational- This World and Beyond

Linda Armstrong, Charlotte Babb, Maggie Carter-de Vries, Nina Munteanu, Tom Dent/Andy Lamon, Jaclyn Weldon-White, Dr. Thom Brucie, Ann Hite, Victor DiGenti, Jack McDevitt

November 12-15, 2009 – Novels, Short Stories, Etc.

Chris Rumble, Lois Ruby, Len d’Eon, Cornelia Bailey, Prof. Richard Krevolin, Julie Grimm, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Patricia Patterson, Prof. Tom Williams, Gary Ferguson

Scribblers’ Retreat is a non-profit organization established with the goal of reaching writers of all ages to inspire and promote their hidden gifts and talents.

By involving the local community, authors, publishers, editors, journalists and all forms of the literary world, we are opening their minds and bringing hope where there was doubt.

Scribblers’ Retreat is not the typical classroom setting. It was designed to bring world-class authors, literature professors, editors, journalists, and publishers one-on-one with those who are hungry for the power of the written word. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for someone who has had a manuscript in a desk drawer for 40 years or who has an outstanding poem that simply must be read.

Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference

“Where “can’t” is not in our vocabulary.”

A City Of Victory

City of Victory

Anita Saran’s short story, City of Victory, is one of the best crafted stories I’ve read in a long time. She has a knack of bringing the setting to the forefront without intrusion. To call this piece of work a short story is an understatement. I find it to be more of a novella.

The story is set in sixteenth century Vijayanagar, a city in India known as Hampi today. Jehaan is a gypsy girl, who is forced to be one of the maids of honor to the queen. This gives her great privilege: jewels, fine clothes, and good food. But Jehann is not satisfied to be part of this glittering procession. She is an Egyptian and wants to return home to her father and estranged lover. She longs for the fresh air and earth, not a stone floor palace.

Meherbanu escapes a horrible life when she approaches the king and suggests that she care for his zenana (his group of concubines and the queen). He says that he will put her in charge because of her boldness. She becomes the mentor and mother to the women. But what happens to a group of women protected by one man, the king? The author handles this complexity with beauty.

City Of Victory had its debut as a broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2004. So many of the images haunted me and remained in my mind long after I read the work. The photos that illustrate the book are as interesting as the characters. I’m delighted to say I found this ebook a wonderful experience.

To purchase: