Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mill Workers And Coal Miners

I've been thinking lately about our families and the blue collar roots we came from. Michael, born in North Carolina, his mother, his aunts, and his grandfather ... all worked in the mills. Mill workers in the 50s and 60s in North Carolina worked long, tedious jobs. Some of it was piece work. Michael's mama told me she used to sew the toes in socks and the bibs on the front of men's overalls until her fingers bled. They worked for little pay and virtually no benefits. But they believed in the American dream and they all wanted a piece of it.

The coal miners in my family were virtually the same kind of worker. Black lung and being buried alive were among the number one health issues, I would imagine. Working below the earth had to be a scary and thankless job. And lets not forget, just plain damn depressing. Ever think about it? Talk about no windows! Shifts of men worked twenty-four hours a day. Add on top of the job hazzards, the union issues ... it was a tough time to raise a family.

I look at the "Happy Days" Hollywood tends to paint. The "Rock around the Clock" and "On Blueberry Hill" days. We can glamorize the 50s with James Dean and Natalie Wood, even try to bring it back with movies like American Graffiti and Grease ... but when I talk to the people that really lived and worked during those turbulent years ... I see an entirely different story.

Vietnam ... Civil Rights ... Women's Lib ... Cold War ... Transportation Expansion ... Kennedy and Johnson ... new tax laws ... and all the modernization of that time period, whew, think about it. The list goes on. My point is, the growth of America was painful on the laborers, the farmers ... the little people. Their sons were still dieing in a war somewhere in Korea and then Nam. It didn't necessarily get any easier for mom and pop. But it was on the backs of these people that our nation built its economy and politicians promised "better days ahead." It infuriates me to see some sonofabitch in D.C. want to farm out our jobs to Mexico or China. I'm sure the old mill workers and miners have rolled over in their graves a time or two.

I can't dramatize it all here. Not in this one little blog. But I want us to think about our families, where they came from and the work they did so that we could have opportunities they never did.

Mill workers and coal miners were only a small part of the work force in those days, but they were my family. And I'm very proud to be their descendant.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Growing Up In The South

Unfortunately, I didn't grow up in the South. Although I spent several years with my bare feet running the hollers and coal dust roads in Widen, West Virginia, Daddy moved us to Ohio, where in the early 50s, the rubber companies were hiring in Akron.

But until I was seven or eight, Daddy would stuff us all in the family car every weekend and haul us "down home." That was home to them. West Virginia was where Grandma and Grandpa lived and where Grandpa worked for the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company for thirty-seven years. It's where Daddy and his brothers knew everybody and everybody knew Troy King's boys. I'd beg to stay, and usually, they'd let me stay during the summer months. My cousins and I would run to the Widen Grille every day and wait for Grandpa to get off work. We'd flag him down in his old Ford pickup, and he'd stop and holler for us to jump in the back. With our cokes and bags of chips in our laps, Connnie, Margie, and me ... we'd giggle all the way back to the house in the back of that truck. And talk about filthy. Kids that played in Widen were not only covered in dust and dirt, we had the sooty coal dust all over us, as well. My Aunt Emogene said it made us grow if we ate at least a cup of Widen dirt every year.

But we didn't care. It was life in the coal camp.

Ohio was not home to Mama and Daddy. Never was. From the late 50s until they left Ohio in 1995 and moved to Florida, Ohio was not their home. It's where they raised their kids, worked, and went to church ... but it was never their home. I can't tell you how many times I've heard them say it.

Now ... for all the Yankees in Ohio ... (my son and daughter included) it's not the worst place to live. But to me, living in Ohio is like being in limbo. Most folks there have roots from the South, their fathers and grandfathers went there for the same reasons mine did ... work. But some of the folks around Wayne and Holmes Counties have deeper roots in the soil there ... tilled by German descendants. The rolling hills around Kidron, Mt. Eaton, and Wooster are still some of the most beautiful places in that state to visit. One of my favorite stops when I head up that way is the Kidron Cheese House on the corner of Rt. 30 and the Kidron Road, and a restaurant called The Barn, in Smithville. These idyllic communities are places of peace to me.

I know there are other beautiful farms in Ohio, but you can have the rest of the state and it's consistent nasty weather. I suppose the feelings of my parents rubbed off on me over the years, because I was always searching for "home." It was never there.

When I finally moved to the South ... my heart swallowed it whole. I never looked back. And except for the few remaining friends and family who live there, I don't miss it. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, my past lives were all spent in the South, I have no doubt. After thirty-five years of my soul adrift, I finally found my home.

But I still root for The Ohio State Buckeyes. (Some old habits die hard.)

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Crazy Holiday Season

It's here. From now until New Year's Day ... America lives in a holiday mood. No one wants to work much. Every day feels like Friday. We take off as much time as we can, spend money we don't have, and vow not to worry about being broke or being behind in our work until January.

It's crazy.

We eat too much. We drink too much. We watch too many Holiday movies. And we shop too much.

This year, we're into cutting back on all of it. Is it possible to keep the holiday spirit, the spirit of Chrismas, and still not indulge in gluttony and overspending? Is it everybody's dream, or just mine, to get in a plane on December 20th head for a tropical island and not come back until January 2nd?

You would've never heard me say that years ago. Not when the kids were little and it was all about them. But these days, I just want to get away from it all. Take my husband and go lay on a beach somewhere.

Although I'm no Scrooge, and I do enjoy the lights, music, and festive spirit, I do hate mall traffic, shopping, and not seeing the people I really miss. There's never enough time or money. I want to do the candelight Christmas Eve this year, forget the gift giving nonsense.

This year, Michael and I have to go to West Palm Beach in early Dec. so I can present my work at the Southern Women's Show. It's going to cost a few bucks in gas, hotel and food to go down and back. It's our Christmas present to each other. Otherwise, I might have gotten a new coat. And Michael might have received the new camera he's been wanting. But we sacrifice for what we want. Yes, even at our age. And while I'm a poor starving artist, waiting for my big break in the Literary world, I'll give up a new coat any day to get the opportunity to talk about my book.

Maybe next year, who knows, I'll send Christmas cards from St. Lucia and come home to a full-length Anne Klein original while Michael takes pictures of me in it with his new Cannon.

Until then ... I just want to get this month overwith.

Happy Holidays everybody!

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Cry is the title of the longest story in my collection of "short" stories, SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN. And I finished it last night. Cry tells the story of a fifteen-year old girl, Estelline Aikens, or Essie as she's called, who accompanies her very pregnant cousin, Janey Gay Bertram, to Cherry Point, NC to visit her Marine husband. He's about to be shipped to Kuwait ... it's the beginning of the Gulf War. But on the way, they get lost and their car ends up in a deep pot hole along a deserted back dirt road they thought was a "shortcut." Janey goes into labor. But strange things happen when Essie must abandon Janey in their Ford Pinto and find help. Hours later in the dark, she flags down a van. They meet Evangelist Loretta Lynette who has abandoned her crusade in Atlanta and is on her own quest for peace in her life.

This is one of those stories that just wrote itself. These characters lived on my shoulder for days and guided my fingers on the keyboard. I had originally intended that Janey Gay be the main character ... but in the end, it was Essie and Loretta that had the biggest story to tell, Essie being my protagonist. And I love the way it came together.

It's also told in two different story lines running side by side, that come together three-fourths of the way through the story. Essie's story is told in first person past tense, and Loretta's story is told in third person past tense. I'm sure I've broken some writing craft rule, but I believe it works. In the end, when it all comes together... Essie finishes telling the story in first person.

The stakes are high, the story delivers ... I hope you'll enjoy it. I know you'll enjoy it. You'll love the book ... you'll see it on bookshelves come late February, early March.

Be on the lookout ... SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN ... a collection from the heart.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I rolled out of bed at 1 a.m. It's a sin to eat that much. It was Alka-Selzer time. Time to sit up yet a little longer and let the food digest.

Oh my God. The turkey had nothing on me.

I'm stuffed. I had enough to eat for a week.

Today, I'm relaxing ... and fasting. You won't see me at the mall today. No way.

I'm going to lay on the couch, watch an old movie, maybe even take a walk. But I'm avoiding the kitchen at all cost.

Mama just peeked her head in my office. "I'm making fresh gravy tonight for leftovers. Sound good?"

I think I'll be busy ... Christmas shopping at dinnertime.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Fifth International Greensboro Awards for Short Fiction

$500.00 ~ First Prize

Top ten finalists will be published in our anthology.
Two (2) free contributor copies for each finalist.

Plus, all non-published entries will be entered into a random drawing for one tuition-free seat in a future session of the on-line writing class, “Impact Of Style” (reg. tuition $499) offered by To Write Well (

Entries must be postmarked between January 1, 2006 and May 1, 2006

Winners Announced: September 1, 2006

~All work must be original and previously unpublished, including the Internet and your personal web site.

~Must include a COVER SHEET stating name, address, phone, email, title of story, a one-paragraph bio, and word count for the story.


~All published finalists must be prepared to provide an electronic copy of their story.

~Multiple submissions accepted. $20 for each submission.

~Manuscripts will not be returned. They will be recycled.

~Contest open to writers everywhere, except members of the Writer’s Group Of The Triad (WGOT), and employees and family members of sponsors.

~Final Judge for Short Fiction P.T. Deutermann, author of ten novels published by St. Martins’ Press (

~Send SASE for list of winners. Winners will also be listed on the WGOT website, as will information for purchase of the anthology.

~Entries that do not adhere to all guidelines will not be considered.

~For additional information, copies of guidelines, etc. go to: (,

Format: Typed, double-spaced. Font should be Courier or Times New Roman 12 point with one (1) inch margins. Maximum length is 4,000 words. Any theme or genre. (No fiction for children or young adults.) Send two (2) copies of each story.

Entry Fee: $20 for each short story. Entry fees for submissions sent from outside the US must be in US funds/money order/bank draft/ or cashier’s check. Make all checks payable to Writers’ Group of the Triad.

Send entry(s) to:
The Writers’ Group of the Triad
4118 Huff Rd.
Archdale, NC 27263
Sponsored by: NC Career Network Magazine & To Write Well, Inc

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ack! Grocery Store Hell Week

Don't go! Don't do it! Unless you were smart enough to have bought your frozen turkey and all the trimmings weeks ago ... don't even think about doing your grocery shopping the week of Thanksgiving!

I bumped into ten people and nearly took somebody's shoe off with my cart. Then, two old ladies stood and chatted like they were talking in their backyard over the fence, hogging up the cereal aisle until I wanted to take somebody's head off next. Two babies were screaming their vocal chords out! (For God sake, do the rest of us a favor and find a babysitter. And if you can't -- stay home!) The last thing I need to hear is a two-year old throwing a hissy fit while I'm trying to find the last ten things on my grocery list!

People push their grocery carts like they drive their cars, with absolutely no care and concern about who's behind them. By the time I was through getting the last thing on my list, I was ready to take a life.

But that wasn't the worst part. I stood a half hour in the check out line while my friendly Southern cashier gabbed with every one of her customers about their purchases and how to make a good turkey. The three ladies in front of me had carts full to overflowing and every last damn one of them wrote a check. They're not smart enough to make out the check ahead of time; they wait until the clerk says, "That'll be $152.37." Then they start digging in their purse to find their checkbook. What's worse is if it's an old lady with a shaky hand that can't write but one letter every five seconds. Or maybe she writes it for the even dollar amount then picks nickels and pennies out of her change purse for the change amount. Then you wait another five minutes for the check to "clear." All while they record their check and subtract it from the balance. And lastly, the slow as molasses customer reviews the tape to make sure they got the 30 cents off their eggs and that the cashier only charged them $3.50 for coffee instead of $4.75.

For cryin' out loud, why don't people use their debit cards, or pay cash? By the time the cashier got to me, I said, "I'm having pizza for Thanksgiving, all this stuff is for somebody else, and I don't care how you bake your turkey." She didn't say another word. I smiled, paid her the exact amount in cash, and tipped the Salvation Army bell ringer on the way out.

I swore I would never do it again, wait until two days before Thanksgiving to go grocery shopping. And that was all last year.

Here I am this year, two days before turkey day, and I'm off to the store again! If you hear about a crazy woman that got arrested for running her grocery cart into every idiot that blocked her way in Walmart, that would be me.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poor Little Fat Rich Girl

I’m sure Michael has forgot about it, but I haven’t. I thought about her this morning. The poor girl, maybe five foot two at the most, her legs so fat she could hardly walk, wearing shorts and walking up the street in Hillsville. Her body was as wide as it was tall.

God, I thought, how awful for her. Handicapped by fat. Her long wavy dark brown hair down to her waist swayed around her wide hips. She was proud of her hair, I think. Maybe she thought it was all she had to be proud of.

I know, I know ... there's all the heavy people out there claiming they're perfectly happy being fat. To "leave them alone, don't make fun and hurtful comments, and don't discriminate against them!" I suppose if you're truly happy and truly healthy being 100 pounds overweight, then fine. Be that way. Otherwise, it's a load of crap. I don't believe you have to be pencil stick thin. I do think you need to be healthy. Fat is not a good thing, no matter how you size it up. I agree you do need to appreciate and love people for who they are on the inside ... that's important. And it's a cruel animal that says anything derogatory to another person, no matter their size, shape, or color. But risking one's health is not a beautiful thing.

I stared at her in the side mirror as we passed. I thought maybe she's on steroids, maybe her thyroid didn’t work right—and maybe she just ate too many donuts. Who knows? A friend walked next to her, hopefully a good friend. She wasn't quite as heavy, but almost. And there I sat in my car riding up the hill, on my own fat butt, gawking at this humongous girl, … at least she was walking. God bless her.

I found out she wasn't so poor. I heard from a store proprietor she was from one of the wealthier familes in town. She had just walked past his store as I was there. It was then I realized that just 'cause you're rich, it doesn't mean you're bound to be thin.

Anyway, the point is, I thought about her this morning as I wondered what pie to bake this week for Thanksgiving.

I got back on the treadmill today. What a week to start dieting.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bless Her Heart

I seldom watch television ... but when I do, it's because there's a movie or something significant I really want to watch. So yesterday ... I'm sitting on my bed watching the very end of the movie Titanic. I love that movie, and though I didn't take the time to watch all of it, I wanted to watch the last fifteen minutes ... you know, where they all freeze in the ocean and Jack's lips turn blue and he floats down into the ocean after Rose promises to "never let go." Sure, you remember ... snif, snif.

Anyway, I'm sitting there -- totally into it -- and my mother-in-law (bless her heart) peaks her head in the door and says, "You watchin' Montel?" (doesn't wait for me to answer her but keeps on talking ...) "somebody on his show wants to know why men have nipples! Can you believe they asked that? Well, Sylvia Brown said it was 'cause all babies start out as females ... now that makes sense, don't it?"

Not to be rude, I had turned my head away from the TV to respectfully listen to her, and missed the best part (in my opinion) of the Titanic movie.

"No Mama, I guess I never thought about why men have nipples, but you're right ... it makes sense."


You gotta love her. (But next time she's into Cops or Judge Judy ... I'm going to interrupt with "Mama! Did you hear Montel today? Somebody said our ears don't get bigger when we get older, it's our head that shrinks! Damn! he was serious!"

She'll freak out, but we'll be even. (Bless my heart.)

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Who Said Writing Was Easy?

Another radio interview today ... with coffee in hand, I review every possible question my interviewer may ask. I hope I don't trip over my tongue. I seldom do, but you never know. It's a call-in interview, so I can stay in my pajamas if I want ... I mean who's gonna know, right? I love to talk to readers, I love to think that somebody out there wants to hear about my work, my rich, deep Southern stories ... it's why writers write ... to have someone read it. But to get them to read it, they have to know about it. And to to get them to know about you and your work, you've got to "advertise."

It's the part of the writing process that most writers avoid. The marketing end of things. But it's just as important as your writing. My passion about what I write is so embedded in me that I have no problem getting it from the page to the microphone. I enjoy talking about my characters, or my plots, and how I come up with the idea. That part is easy for me. Don't misunderstand, I think everyone gets a little nervous to speak in front of crowds, but that's a good thing for me ... it pushes me to do my best and I'd be concerned if I wasn't.

For me personally, promoting my work --- marketing what I write, it's the fun part. The hard part is the writing process itself. Getting it down first, ironing out the plot, taking out the exposition, trying to incorporate everything that matters correctly into the story. For example, if a gun shows up on the table at the beginning of the story ... it better have purpose and meaning somewhere in the plot. Readers don't like loose ends. If you mention a character has a scar over her left eye in Chapter two, you better tell your readers, eventually, how she got that scar.

So you read your chapter over and over and over again. You put it away for days, weeks, months ... pull it back out and then the answer flys up in your face and you rewrite. You rewrite the entire chapter again, or the entire book. You find the word the fits in a sentence then you realize you've used it twice in the next paragraph, so you haul out the thesaurus. Or change the paragraph. Or delete the sentence. A writer can literally pull their hair out laboring over their prologue or their first chapter. We can take days to write one sentence. And then, we can write entire chapters in a matter of hours. You must be careful not to over edit to the point you loose the meaning or sacrifice your voice.

Who said writing was easy?

It's not easy. But it's the most gratifying profession I could ever imagine there is. After you pour yourself onto the page ... it's the satisfaction of knowing who you are, your purpose in life, and what you were meant to do that makes it all worthwhile. I heard a great quote today - The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. - William James

So when I speak to my listeners today on my radio interview, I know they have no idea the hours and the time I put into just one story. Some stories have been years in the making, others were absolute miracles and written within days. There's no rhyme or reason to it. But I hope what they hear, is my passion. I hope they hear my love of the art. I hope they think, damn! I need to write that woman's name down and buy her damn book!

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Are You Ready For TELEVENGE?

It’s going from a buzz to a roar, I can hear it in the distance … like the rolling thunder before the storm.

It’s an everyday occurrence now. When I'm out in public, it's inevitable ... "When will TELEVENGE be published?" Anyone who knows me, who has heard of the book, it’s the first question out of their mouth.

I met a new friend yesterday. We sat and talked about our past religious lives. And I was asked, “Where do you stand with God, now?” A question many are wondering as they get to know me.

Not an unusual question, once you’ve been exposed to my upcoming novel, TELEVENGE. When one hears it’s about the dark side of televangelism, the first thing I’m often asked, “Is there a light side to televangelism?” (Tongue in cheek…) Then some suspect it’s a book about “pastor bashing.” That possibly it’s about a conversion to atheism. Or some preachy piece of prose.

Not at all.

But I will say TELEVENGE forces you to think real hard about your own church, your pastor and his authority, your own religious convictions, your own beliefs, and just what is God all about. It’ll make you wonder who among us is the ultimate authority on God. Who really knows Him best, and what does God really want from us. And if you don't go to church, it's still a thrilling ride and a view into the world of those who do.

And yet, it’s not a book about religion, or a religious book. I doubt it will be found easily in Christian Bookstores, for instance. But, I could be wrong … they may want it, after all. Mess with people’s beliefs and you’ll sell books.

No matter how you hold it, look at it, review it … it’s still a work of fiction, characters of my imagination that have taken on a life of their own and through the magic of storytelling, tell their own story.

But writers write what they know, don't they?

Read Tuesday, October 11th in this blog. Out Of The Dark … it’s a good explanation … of where I am now in the religious stream.

A couple weeks ago, I was asked by the Director of Religious Studies at Warren Wilson College, “Where do you stand with God?” In other words, she wanted to make sure she wasn’t asking an atheist or agnostic to come speak to her students.

My answer was, “My faith has never wavered, Ma’am … I am still and always a woman of faith.”

Then what was my purpose to write a book like TELEVENGE?

I suppose you can answer that for yourself after you read it. If you still need to ask that question after you read it, I’ll be happy to answer you in person.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Critiquing a Critique Group

I belong to a wonderful critique group, a Novel II group, part of the Writers’ Group of the Triad. These people have become my friends and best critics. They’re fair, tactful, and make valid suggestions, but never get offended if I disagree. Some are better than others at editing, and yet some can point out things I can’t see because I’m too close to the story at the time. And they always have at least one good thing to say, for encouragement sake. They know how to critique.

Now I’m not looking for a pat on the back or a fan club when I join a critique group, but over a year ago, I participated in a "critique" group that I had to question later, what was the goal of this group? My first impression was that these people needed to learn the art of critiquing. And my next thought was, I need to warn other writers … that all critique groups are not created equal.

Is belonging to a critique group always a good thing?

I do not foolishly anticipate that everyone is going to like what I write. I can only hope whoever reads my work will appreciate my writing and is able to give me constructive criticism. I want to know if there is a problem with scene structure, if a character needs some work, if something didn’t make sense, is there tension on every page, or if Star Trek began in 1966, not 1967, etc. But please, don’t rewrite my entire story for me.

Did they offend me? More than that. They pissed me off with their stupid comments that made no sense to me. Further, they were outright insulting. It was more than brutal, they raped my manuscript. How’s that for honesty?

I write Southern fiction. I have my own style and voice. This critique group (made up mostly of Science Fiction and Fantasy writers) ripped my story apart, making it no longer Southern, no longer mine. If I had changed everything they said do … it wouldn’t have been my story anymore. My voice would’ve been gone; an alien might as well have written it.

It’s not a critique group anymore when you strip away a writer's voice. When you literally rewrite every sentence in every paragraph. Or even when you tell me what point of view “it should” be written in. It’s not a helpful critique group, it’s a damn lynch mob!

At that time I had just come from a writing conference in Philadelphia where a well-known New York Agent for the past 20 years, who reads thousands of manuscripts each year, said that point of view doesn’t matter to him, even multiple points of view, as long as it’s well written, a damn good story, and there’s enough tension on every page to make him want to read the rest.

So as I weighed all this on the scales of literary justice, I thought … do I take the advice of seven people who have submitted virtually few stories of their own to be critiqued? Or do I listen to an agent like Donald Maass?

It might have been a dilemma for me after this class, except for the fact that the story they ripped to shreds had just won two contests, one being with a book doctor and the other with an editor for publication in an anthology. So how bad was my story, really? Not at all. Were their gripes and complaints legitimate? Very, few. Did I learn anything from these people? No, just that they were all a bunch of jerks.

Had I not already won two contests with this story, I may very well have gone straight home and ripped this great story to shreds and deleted it from my hard drive forever.

Okay - okay, again, a few of their suggestions were helpful and I did make the edits. But in my opinion, more than three quarters of their comments destroyed the piece. They were mean spirited (some of them) and in bad taste. It was a good lesson in believing in myself and letting it roll off my back. Now months later, I’ve decided to write about it this experience.

I need constructive criticism. And it wasn’t in that group.

There’s a ton of professionalism in the critique group I’m in now. The comments and suggestions are not about how great my writing is … I don’t want that. (Well, not always.) But they’re well thought out, and spoken with kindness. Therein lies the difference. I think the word is … caring. The critique group I belong to these days definitely cares about the manuscript they're reading and the author - meaning they want to see it improved.

I obviously didn't feel that in the other group. Some of the comments were so off the wall and completely the opposite of my theme and plot, I had to kept my mouth shut, smile and nod. But it made me wonder, how many other critique groups have destroyed a writer’s confidence? That's when I realized, I wasn’t going back.

After the story was released in the anthology last year, I did a reading of that same story at one of the major independent bookstores in Durham, NC to a crowd that loved it. In fact, it was at that same reading a woman (who I had no idea who she was) asked me to sign her copy of the book, and as I did she bent over and said, “Honey, I think you’re better than Flannery O’Connor.”

It was all the validation I needed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Anniversary, Oprah!

She'll never see this ... God knows she's receiving many more important e-mails, faxes, letters, and personal gifts of congratulations than mine. She's celebrating twenty-years of hosting her own television show every day. We know her. She's lived with us and shown us the good and bad in her--freely and openly--every day--for twenty years.

I've quoted her often. I've studied her life because I was born the same year as Oprah. She's far and above accomplished more than I ever have. But I'm sure I can speak for many of her fans ... that we feel such a kinship to her. (Especially, her battle with weight, and those funky 80's clothes, hairstyles, and earrings! Lordy.)

Whether you like her or not, Oprah Winfrey is part of American culture. She's an icon to be studied in American History. She's a beacon for women's issues and African-American issues. She's a humanitarian, a philanthropist, and a good ole' girl. I've never met her, I probably never will. But I love her for who she is, what she's done, and the voice I hear in my head many times as I write about the South. "Sofia Sofia Sofia, ain't that a purty name, Paw, Sofia?" I fell in love with her as Sofia in The Color Purple at the very moment she spoke these words ...

"YOU told Harpo to beat me! All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy ... I had to fight my brothers, I had to fight my uncles ... girl chile' ain't safe in a family of mens! But I never thought I'd have to fight in my own house. I luvs Harpo. Gawd knows, I do ... BUT I'LL KILL HIM DEAD, BEFORE I LET HIM BEAT ME! Now if you want a dead son-in-law, Miss Celie, you keep on advisin' him like you doin'. "

(To which Celie says...) "This life soon be over. Heaven last always."

(And I love what Sofia says in return.) "Girl, you ought to bash Mr. head open ... think 'bout heaven later!"

It hit me like a brick in the head. Sofia was me. Her struggle resembled my own. When she spoke these words, it literally summed up the religious struggle in my life at that point.

That was the moment I knew, Oprah was my hero, my mentor, my friend.

Happy Anniversary, Oprah.

From a loyal viewer.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday Morning Moaning

... I'm so far behind, I think I'm first.

Where do I start ... I've got so much to do here at my little writing desk, I don't know which end is up or how to find it. Overwhelming ... that's what it is.

And I've got to stop writing this blog and get to work. Put my priorities in order, make a list of things that have to be done today, stop procastinating! Close the door to my office and shut out Judge Judy from Mama's TV watching and get to work! A perfect day to start a new project or better yet, finish the story I started last week!

Arrruugh! I feel like Lucy complaining to Charlie Brown.

Time to stop moaning, get out of this nightgown, take a shower, make the bed, eat breakfast, work out ... maybe by noon, I'll be ready to write. (See how easy it is to put it off?)

That's why I'm usually in my nightgown until minutes before Michael comes home and sometimes I never get out of it. The bed goes unmade, the wash still stinks in the laundry room, and I stink from no shower ... (writers do suffer from personal hygiene neglect.)

So here I sit, my feet and my coffee are cold. I'm hungry, my hair's not been touched this morning, I'm still picking eye boogers out of my eyes, and the work is piling up.

Okay, I'll stop ... but first ... another cup of coffee and warm socks. Maybe a shower in an hour, and I'll make the bed after lunch. I have a restless character waiting to have her story finished.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Who Did What To Whom

When I was a much younger girl, I loved to sit in the kitchen with my mama, my aunt, and my grandma and just listen. They'd be canning beans, making bread, or just relaxing with coffee and store-bought cookies. They didn't need an excuse to gather in our kitchen for endless hours of gossip about every man, woman, and child they had known in their lifetimes. The lastest news about my Uncle Jerry and his womanizing, or who did what to whom, was enough. Mama and her only sister would howl about the latest dumb thing their new sister-in-law said or did. And Grandma was an expert at collecting scandal and colorful pieces of gutsy gossip she and her daughters could chew on all afternoon. She made Hedda Hopper look like an innocent school-girl. Grandma was merciless, but she made us laugh until our sides ached.

Of course, as much as possible, I tried to blend into the wall so not to be put out of the room. But I think they enjoyed shocking me from time to time. It's how I learned about life. How I knew what was expected of me as I grew up. I acquired an education in labor and delivery, how to only share part of a secret recipe, how to tell a good story from a woman's point of view, and I learned all about men. I took bits and pieces of each conversation and patched together my own quilt of womanhood.

Those lazy afternoons of trashy talk was better than any soap opera or rag magazine on the market. Mama and her sister had an opinion about everybody and weren't afraid to spill it. Even about America's sweethearts, Doris Day and Annette Funicello, the women on Queen For A Day, or the Lennon Sisters. And I believed, hung on, and swallowed every word they said.

Finally, they'd pay me some attention ... "she's got your hair, Joyce," Grandma would say.

"Yeah, but she won't keep it out of her eyes, go get me a brush and some VO5. This child's hair is so fly-away."

My red-headed aunt would chime in ... "Need to use Dippity-Do and roll her hair in it every night. Use them pink sponge curlers."

By this time, Mama was yanking my head and brushing relentlessly at my tangled "rat's nest" she called it. But I loved my mama's hands on my head, feeling her arms around me as she brushed and smoothed my hair. Eventually, my scalp burned and I pulled out of her grip as she finished twisting my mousy brown hair into a pony tail.

Slowly, I was able to turn their attention from me back to gossiping about how horrible a cook our neighbor lady was ... and they were off again! Even saying goodbye took an hour as Mama walked them out to the driveway and leaned into the car window talking for another twenty minutes. Finally, Grandma started the car and rolled slowly out the drive with Mama getting a few last words in.

I think about those days, those memories --then I regret all my daughter and my six neices are missing. There's so many of us. My mama, my sisters and I are all spread out ... all over the country. I think it's been well over 10 years since we've all been together in one room. Before Mama's too much older, my wish would be that all of us spend a week in a house at the beach. Or somewhere ... just talking.

I'd love for all my neices and my daughter to experience just a tiny bit of the bliss I did as a girl. For the younger girls in the family to listen to my sisters and I ... put away any bad times ... and just laugh and remember the good times ... the tales of us growing up that some of them have never heard.

But times are different now I guess. With all our technology, we're all as far apart as ever. I've got great nephews, almost two, I've not even seen ... so ... maybe my wish will never come to pass and all I'll ever have are those distant memories in the 60s, when Grace, Judy, and Joyce filled our kitchen on Waterloo Road with love and laughter.

But here's the kicker ... Grace (my grandma) is dead now--she died several years ago, and Aunt Judy? We've no idea where or how she is. She and Mama fell out more than thirty years ago, and we've not heard from her since. For all their kitchen table talk, it didn't keep them close.

But maybe, just maybe ... there's still hope ... a remote possibility we'll turn that all around someday ... forget who did what to whom and just be a family again.

I can smell the bread baking already ...

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I'm Singin' the Garage Sale Blues

Cold temperatures and sunny skies ... we opened the garage doors at 6:30 a.m. to a small group of garage sale junkies ... die-hards who planned their routes for Saturday morning treasure hunts.

A woman in pajama bottoms, flip flops, and a winter coat stopped on her way to pick up coffee filters at the grocery store. She about froze before she bought $15 worth of our junk.

We sold all the VCR tapes within the first two hours and lots of clothes ... from three sizes ago. (That's a subject for another day.) Place mats, radios, fans, lawn chairs, jewelry, knick-knacks, a lawnmower, ironing board (who uses ironing boards these days?) ... all junk to us that we normally would've given away.

But we're now $130 richer than we were last night. All for little effort. And if we sell the little refrigerator, the exercise bike, and the Body-by-Jake butt buster ... well, damn, we'll be up over $200!

It's redneck city this morning at my house! Pickups all over the yard, pulling in to see what we're sellin'. Men looking for old tools, women for anything cheap that strikes their fancy. Our coffee mugs in our hands to keep warm--we greet our customers with the customary ... "Hey ... Mornin'. Cold enough for ya?"

Mike's mama stays inside and fries up sausage and biscuits and keeps the coffee hot. I run in and out to keep warm and make change. Michael talks to everybody and bickers on the price of a wet/dry vacumn, an old suitcase, and some collector Kentucky Derby glasses ... it's fun and it's a lot of work. But at least you get your garage cleaned out plus all your closets and drawers.

I wonder if anyone's written a country song about garage sales ... they're a weekly event in most towns. If you're a garage sale junkie, you're never too proud to look through somebody's old blue jeans, rugs, and shoes. You scout out the better neighborhoods and hope to find the deal of the century. Why just a few weeks ago, I bought a Harry Potter book, a hardback, for 50 cents. What a deal! And it was the latest release! Garage sales have it all over e-bay when you think about it. Up close, you can see who's selling it to you and you can make sure it works before you haul it home.

Just remember ... never think you can return something you buy at a garage sale. It's your risk when you walk out with a radio that's supposed to work. Ask to plug it in before you take it home.

I need to get back out there ... I see three trucks that've pulled into the drive and they got their wives with them. That's a sure sign they're the pros come lookin' for a bargain!

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Late Night Memories

I remember watching the news as a young girl ... footage of American soldiers dying in rice patties and in the jungles of Vietnam. The networks brought the war into our living rooms. Except at my house, Mama refused to allow the TV on during dinner when Daddy worked second shift. As much as I was fascinated with the war, it scared Mama to death. Not but two or three years older than myself, boys I'd grown up with, went to school with, were coming home broken, busted up, or in body bags.

One night after his late shift, Daddy arrived home tired and moaned to Mama loud enough for me to hear. "I want to relax tonight, clear my head, and fall asleep to the TV." I heard him tip-toe into the livingroom, which was right next to my bedroom, then turn on the TV to find his usual late night Western movie. I slid out of bed in time to watch him toe off one shoe and then the other and groan with delight. He'd stood on his feet all day at the Plant 5 Chemical Division of the Akron based Goodyear Tire and Rubber company. A job that over time, broke him physically.

"What you doin' up, Sissy?" he whispered.

"Just wanna kiss you goodnight, Daddy."

He'd hug me, then point to the kitchen counter. "There's a candy bar in my lunchbucket, don't let yer Mama see."

"Thanks, Daddy ... goodnight."

"'Night, Darlin'."

I knew Daddy always brought something home for me or my sister; whoever was up got first dibs. Mama would pack his lunch and throw in a candy bar which he never ate, just so he could bring it home to one of us.

Finally, I heard him flop back down on our L-shaped couch after finding an old movie, something with Jimmy Stewart. (No such thing as a remote control in those days.) Though the sound was turned low, the music and words of the film soothed me and the glow from the TV served as my nightlight.

This particular evening, the news broke in to report the latest casualties from a place called Khe Sanh. A Marine base had been hit. A shattering barrage of shells, mortars and rockets slammed into the base. Eighteen Marines were killed instantly, forty were wounded. I heard Daddy's heavy sigh and my mama's bleak response, "When will it end?"

The news had interrupted all programs. There were only a handful of channels back in 1968. In a tone I'd not heard before, Daddy declared to my mama he was thankful his oldest children were girls, and that hopefully by the time my little brother was eighteen, the war would be over--which it was. My daddy was a Korean war veteran, he'd seen enough and turned off the TV.

Now and again, I like to lay in bed and think of those nights ... laying awake and waiting for the sound of that front door opening. My mama's heavy footsteps from somewhere in the house padding down the hall to greet him. The sounds of their voices, the dull gray light from the old RCA TV set, and the smell of leftovers being reheated for his dinner ... all remind me of security. And even in the midst of war, I felt secure.

It would be 35 years later before I felt that secure again. Laying in bed now, watching Michael sleep, the TV turned down as I'm flipping through over a hundred channels, a war overseas still goes on. But the peace I felt as a young girl, has now come back to me ... and I'm thankful for that ... even in the late hours of the night and early mornings.

I think tonight, I'll flip to the channel that plays old Westerns ... maybe I'll find an old favorite of Daddy's, The Man From Laramie. Jimmy Stewart just puts me to sleep.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tell The Truth and Shame the Devil!

I can't tell you how many times in my life I've heard it ... "Tell the truth and shame the devil!"

So here's the truth ... I'm about ready to rip somebody's head off today. There. I said it! It sure felt good to say it. I suppose it could be that nasty time of the month when all women want to take somebody's head off, but for me personally ... after a truly wonderful and exhilarating weekend, I came home to problems that you know what? ... I just don't want to deal with.

I've got better things to do with my time than take up precious minutes and hours worrying about what one or two or a group of people think about decisions that have already been made.

At 51, I no longer want to deal with crap. I want things to run smoothly ... people to be reasonable ... see how hard I work ... how hard others work ... contribute and make our dreams come true, not tear down weeks of effort and drive on the part of those put into the position to do the job.

I know, I'm living in a fantasy world.

I'm still learning at 51 ... that even working at home I still have to put up with crap.

I want to feel justified in my anger ... but I'm hurt.

I want to feel like all my work has counted for something ... instead of being scorned at.

I want to believe people appreciate hard work, improvements, changes for the good of the many and not just a few ... but all I hear is discord.

I want people to see our courage, our dilligence, our dedication to make it better ... but all they see is "if it's not broke, don't fix it."

So today, I'll tell the truth and shame the devil ... I'd like to find a place where all I have to do is never answer a phone or an e-mail but once or twice a week. Find a room where I can write my stories ... dig in and hole up for a few months and shut the world away.

A dream for many, I'm sure.

I want to be Virginia Woolf.

But when the human element is involved, the devil is always around the corner. And even after we've shamed him, we must endeavor to finish we we've started and keep him at bay.

So tomorrow, I start again. Overlook it all and finish my course.

Thanks for letting me scream a little.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 07, 2005

NC Writers' Network Fall Conference

A last minute decision ... and so glad I attended. Always fantastic, the annual event was held this year in the North Carolina Mountains. Asheville exploded with color! The leaves were breathtaking! Michael wandered over footpaths and wound his way through the Blue Ridge Parkway taking pictures of majestic waterfalls and scenery, while I spent the day attending classes.

A quick trip downtown to visit Malaprop's. An independent bookstore in the heart of the city. I introduced myself and left a book cover of SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN with an employee to give to the store's owner. I'd love to do a reading at Malaprop's every time I publish a book. An established part of the literary community, this bookstore has the heart of its people in mind.

The Crowne Plaza overflowed with writers, editors, agents, and poets! My classes included a class on Screenwriting with Laura McKinny, Reimagining the Real with Joseph Bathanti, Telling the Truth in Fiction with Selah Saterstrom, Publishing with Stephen Kirk, and a Publishing Panel with Tommy Hays and three other published poets and writers. I'm finding even though I enjoy the classes, I didn't get as much from them this year as in years past. The speakers are excellent and knew their stuff ... but ... I've heard it all before.

These classes were great for emerging writers and I encourage participation. And I'm not so seasoned that it won't hurt me to sit through them. But I just found myself, like I said, hearing it all before. Now, don't get me wrong ... I'll be learning something new about writing when I'm in my 90s. One never stops learning ... but I think we get to a point, (or we should) tend to outgrow conference classes. (Unless you take Master Classes, which I was too late to sign up for.) I would suggest if you've been to as many conferences as I have, look for more advanced teaching. However, this conference offers so much more than classes and I plan to return year after year.

The keynote speaker, Susan Orlean was nothing short of spell binding in her delivery. Great orator and author. The lunch on Saturday moved me as Mark Bixler spoke. His book, THE LOST BOYS OF THE SUDAN, brought tears to the writer's eyes at my table. Next, a group of young men, a poetry group, from the Swannonoa Adjudicated Youth Center, delivered soul-moving pieces from their hearts that made us think. A standing ovation brought down the house!

Networking at these conferences is priceless to me. The cost of the entry fee is worth getting to sit by two New York City Literary Agents at dinner and discussing your work for over an hour. Don't you think? My friend, Literary Agent for Nonfiction, Rita Rosenkranz, I've seen at several writing conferences. We cross paths a few times a year. A special and kind woman who clearly loves her work and spending time with writers. I appreciate her ... seeing her face at a conference is comforting, somehow, to me. I've heard some horror stories lately about nasty agents and editors that snub writers at other conferences.

A writer friend told me his personal experience today that happened at a recent Maryland Writer's Conference. It upset the living daylights out of me. I can't imagine an editor being so cruel to a writer who wants only a minute of your time. If you can't handle being bombarded to some degree at a writer's conference, then stay home. Your reputation will eventually follow you, bubba. I don't think these nasty editors come to North Carolina. Not if they know what's good for them. That kind of attitude won't get far in the South ... we don't want you if you're not coming to be helpful to hopeful writers. Listen, I know damn well editors are overworked and often under appreciated. What do you, as an agent or an editor, expect to get at a conference? Why go if you're not expecting to find that diamond in a haystack. We need each other, be professionals ... that's not too much to ask. Aww, enough. Get off this soapbox, Pam. Some folks just enjoy being nasty.

Anyway ... the Literary Agents at the NCWN conferences have always been stellar, to my knowledge. I met Emily Forland, originally from Texas; she now makes her home in New York City. She discovered the manuscript by Melinda Haynes, MOTHER OF PEARL, which became an Oprah pick. An extremely warm and friendly agent. We had a great evening, Rita, Emily, and the rest of our table ... talking, laughing, gossiping, and sharing stories of our writing experiences. Emily invited me to submit my manuscript to her, and of course, I will ... as soon as it's perfect.

I met a very special lady, who I believe is the Director of Religious Studies at Warren Wilson College, Jeanne Sommer. She asked if I would like to speak at the college about my upcoming novel, TELEVENGE. Oh man, you bet ... my standard answer every time someone wants to talk about the book I was destined to write. What other answer could there possibly be. The many old friends you see year after year, the new ones you meet, the networking and exposure is again, priceless.

My article, A WRITER'S VIEW OF THE BURNSIDE SUPPER, appeared on page seven of the November/December newsletter for the NCWN. Several people complimented me on this piece, and I really appreciate that too. It's nice to get ... even a little recognition for what you do.

I met Nicki Leone, the President of the Network, from Wilmington. A tall, beautiful, woman who exuded kindness. Fred Chappell and his wife read poetry at dinner and the hair on my arms stood up. A duet of music not sung but spoken melted my insides. I love this couple ... they just look like a poem to me. If you live in the South, you've read a poem by Fred Chappell. Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Kathryn Stripling Byer presented several of her poems that again, made me shiver. I didn't realize how much I liked poetry until I heard Fred Chappell and Kathryn Stripling Byer read. An amazing after-dinner dessert of poetry pie.

But the Open Mic on Saturday Night ROCKED! A full audience and over 20 writers and poets who had five minutes to deliver their goods. Dan Albergotti, the Randall Jarrell Prize winner went first. Next, Cynthia Barnett, our Executive Director read a short piece by Carole McGrotty, CAHEC second prizewinner.

Then guess who was next on the list? Me. Damn, what fun! I read five minutes of VERNELL PASKINS, MOBILE HOME QUEEN. A short story from my collection that will be published after the first of the year. I have to say, the response was tremendous. Michael said the place was in stitches. Even though this piece is not a comedy, it is funny as hell in places. I mean, good ole' Vernell, she's living in misery and don't mind telling you how bad it is. After you get over the shock of how she talks, you begin to feel sympathy for her and her lot in life. It's a moving and uplifting story and I love it. I can't wait until people are reading it all over the country.

Michael and I stayed until the end. All the writers and poets read their hearts out. I was so proud; I think my maternal instinct kicked in that night. These people had such drive and spirit and wanted to be heard by their peers. I loved every one of them. Some were a bundle of nerves and others were old pros. I recommend attending and participating in Open Mic next year!

The next morning, I told Michael at least six or seven people stopped and said how much they enjoyed my reading. Again, more than worth the cost of the ticket. Exposure, experience, and networking ... can you put a price on it?

The North Carolina Writers' Network has been good to me and I don't think I could ever miss their events. They've so much to offer writers all over the place. From January through December. Their staff is great. If you're looking for a worthwhile conference ... this is certainly one of them. I'm ready for the next one.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Problem Solved - Maybe

Just received my copy of SEBA Ink today. In this great little magazine from the Southeastern Booksellers Association is an article entitled "Let's Solve This Problem!" Evidently, according to An Anonymous Publisher Exhibitor, there were some book thieves with blue or yellow badges at the conference that stole nine books off his/her table. I agree with the show's Director, this is appalling. Wanda Jewell, SEBA's Executive Director, made it clear this will not be tolerated and I agree with her, it shouldn't be.

I attended the SEBA conference in Winston-Salem with my Sisters in Crime Writer's Group feeling very blessed and fortunate to have received the opportunity to rub elbows with these publishers, booksellers, and authors. I love shows like SEBA and the Book Expo.

But here's what bothered me about some of the Exhibitors at this conference. Maybe it's because I've attended two recent Book Expo's, one in Chicago and one in New York City. If you've been there, you know how crazy and crowded they can be. Anyway, at the Book Expo there were free galleys everywhere you turned and it was clear the books that were galleys and the books that were for sale ... the prices were posted on many and for the most part, the books for sale were not laying on the tables, but displayed behind the table where you could walk and pick one up and someone would be there to assist you. (Again, for the most part.)

There were so many free galleys available, they were stacked up on the floor just in front of the tables.

At SEBA, I personally saw few free galley copies being offered, (which I mentioned in my September blog) and I found it difficult to determine at first glance if the books were free or for sale. I disagree with Anonymous, I for one, couldn't tell the difference at some booths which were galleys and which weren't. You had to ask or look closely for "Advanced Reader Copy" on the cover, which isn't always apparent ... sometimes it's easier to just ask.

That being said, if the book you're walking away with does not say "Advanced Reader Copy" then you're stealing it.

Just to be sure, I asked nearly every time. And when I did ask, I often got the feeling that the Exhibitor thought I was searching for anything free. Mooching. I never felt like that at the Book Expo. Not one time. Exhibitors and authors need to remember -- word of mouth is the best bookseller. My library is full to overflowing, but if someone is willing to give me a galley, I'll take it. My galley copies belong to me, they don't get passed around. I'm reading constantly. I'm recommending constantly.

And if there's a book for sale that I really want -- I'll not hesitate to buy it. Ask my husband, he'll tell you.

Suggestion to exhibitors: Indicate clearly the books that are for sale ... it may solve the problem. And distribute more galleys.

I wonder if those who walked away with a book that wasn't free was aware of the fact they needed to pay for it? But if the guilty party did it on purpose, I wouldn't hesitate to ban them from future conferences. In a heartbeat.

By the way, my badge was pink.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What Is This Thing, This Blog Thing?

I was told by a phychic that 2006 would be explosive for me. Yeah, well ... who the hell knows. I get up every morning and look at this on-line diary, journal, "blog" and wonder who the hell reads it anyway. On my web site, I'm positive and professional (I hope) and informative ... but here in la-la blog land ... I write from my gut about how I feel at this very moment. It ain't always pretty.

I was reading Jennifer Crusie's web site early this morning, because I was told it was the "perfect author web site." Not sure how damn perfect it is, but it's damn good ... and the woman sure has had a string of great books to her credit ... and all those cheery cherry thingy's ... at the very least she's entertaining. But what I really liked about it, was her candid comments about finding agents and where do you expect to find yourself in your writing career five/ten years from now. She made me think.

She made me think that ten years ago, my life was nowhere close to my dream as I am today. I didn't know it then, but all those stories I collected and shoved into notebooks, folders, shoeboxes, wouldn't go to waste. So, yeah, anything is possible.

But am I going to write a blog for ten years? Will I look back and still wonder if anybody's reading it? Man-o-man some of the crappy, unreadable, blogs on line ... it's hard to believe anybody's reading them. But then I look at my blog ... written by a middle-aged Southern woman ... who's reading me? I take a few more sips of coffee ...

It doesn't matter.

I'm reading me. This is for me ... and if somebody cares to share, wonderful, but this blog is for me. My journal used to be a private thing ... now it's spilled out over the Internet in front of God and everybody. Where will I be in ten years? Hopefully, in my dream house in the mountains ... with six or seven novels to my credit ... grandchildren at my feet ... fixing breakfast for Michael ... coffee brewing in the pot ... and a quick trip to the computer ...

to write my daily blog.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Way The Wind Blows

November is not the same in North Carolina as it presented itself in Ohio. Not at all. November in the Midwest casts gray clouds to match its gray skies, the first snow storms of the season rolls across the Ohio tundra, and dangerous conditions mount on Lake Erie ... everyone remembers the song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot (though not on Erie, it was a Great Lake just the same) ... Anyway, the ides of November growl and blow across the rolling hills of Ohio ... and the sun is gone until April.

In North Carolina, we wear shorts on sunny days with highs in the 70s. I can pull the last few tomatoes off the vines in the garden. And unless we experience a heavy frost, flowers remain in their beds. You won't see palm trees unless you're about fifty miles south of Charlotte, but our peak leaf season isn't until the first weekend in November.

A drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway is like playing tag with the warm sunshine that glitters through the trees. Take a trip to the top of Pilot Mountain, and you can see all the way to Winston-Salem. Point is, we still get season change in North Carolina, but it's not the monster that appears as soon as the clocks are rolled back in the north. North Carolinians enjoy the seasons longer. It's still Autumn here on Thanksgiving, whereas I've seen cold, nasty, fog and rain or three feet of snow and blizzard conditions on turkey day in Ohio.

As far as the weather is concerned, I'm grateful for the warm winds that blow across the Southlands, even in the winter. If I wanted six months of snow, I'd live in Alaska.

The way the wind blows in North Carolina, is like a love song ... a lullaby whispered into my ear ... "You were always meant to be here ... "

Blessings to you and yours.