Thursday, June 29, 2006

Headin' To The Hills

This weekend is our big family reunion ... in West by-God Virginia. Literally, the place where we all meet, is so far removed from civilization, you wonder if you should leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Saturday night is the bon-fire, lots of blue grass, storytelling, and a bit of moonshine tipping. Sunday afternoon is dinner on the grounds. At my cousin Mick's place. My daddy loves it. He's one of the elders now. His mother, my grandmother, was one of the original Samples. And this ... being the Samples Reunion ... gets us in the "door."

The reunion started many years ago, with James Curtis and Savina Samples. They were the parents of Grant, Anis, Cora, Osa, Gussie, Lanty, Walter, Russell, and Corbitt. Gussie was my grandma. They're all gone now ... Lanty, the youngest, passed away at an old age just last June. Their offspring consists of over 200 members ... including my children and me.

This year, my son Aaron is going to this reunion for the first time. Which I'm glad ... he can keep an eye on Daddy this year, make sure he ain't tippin' a bit too much shine. It's a once a year ritual, among relatives, earth, sky ... and music. So far up in the mountains, you've never been that close to God, I'm sure. The land is leveled off where we meet on these camping grounds. So many of the folk come from all across the country, with their tents and campers and literally hook up to Mick's electric for a week. Mick's a good ole' boy ... and obviously loved for carrying on this old tradition.

Getting to Strange Creek is no laughing matter, but the beauty that surrounds you in the trees, the mountain laurel and vegetation makes you want to curl up in the midst of it and pretend you're in heaven. Being equal with the clouds, you wind your way off the interstate and into the hill country ... land of my ancestors. Following the river you eventually come to the end of paved roads. When you arrive where the dirt road ends, you're "home."

Sitting on my cousin's front porch, if you look way across the dirt road from her house, you'll see a rather rocky and winding trail, just barely wide enough for your vehicle ... it goes practically straight up the side of the hill. That's the beginning of the trail leading to the Sample Family reunion. Lots of the old folk like to gather on her front porch a few days before the official "fun" begins. We're heading up early, taking a side trip to Widen, and then meeting Aaron before we head off to find my dad ... hopefully sitting on the front porch ... chewing the fat with his kin.

When I called my cousin, Denise, the other day to discuss what I should bring ... (by the way, you've never in your life eat food like this ... chicken and dumplings to die for ... peach cobbler and peanut butter pie that will absolutely melt in your mouth ...) anyway, Denise was saying "there's a pesky black bear that's been seen around lately and the deer is thick this year ..." I had to laugh to myself. That's just normal for those people, bear and deer ... the wildlife they enounter is commonplace. Just like all the traffic and noise of suburbia and the city is to the rest of us.

For me, it's all about the storytelling and soaking up the blue grass. This life, these people, run so rich in my veins that I get tingly all over when I think about it. Though some of their views differ from my dad's and my own, they're family ... and we put all that aside for this gathering of Samples. A reunion to remember all those that lived and died before us.

I wonder if the original members of this group look down and smile a bit. I'm sure they thought it'd die off when they did and we'd end up like the rest of the world's population, blown to the four corners of the world, never knowing who we were related to.

But thankfully, somebody had the notion to keep the fire burning ... and this year ... it'll be burning back at Mick's place again, as all the Samples gather one more time.

Blessings to you and yours this independence holiday.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Call Of The Wild

I'm feeling wild today ... ready to dig into my work with a vengeance. It's been crazy since the launch ... getting out press packets and sending books to all four corners of the country ... but I'm itching to get back to my real job. Writing ... creating ... editing ... writing some more.

The experience of putting your head down and plowing through a story is hard to describe. I remember watching the boys play football. Tackling their opponents and keeping their heads down ... concentrating on the play, their next move, their adrenalin pumping ... I feel that way as I dig through this manuscript.

Wildly, I contemplate my strategy. I suit up with my imaginary gear. I shove my protective mouth guard in to keep me from answering the phone, lace up my shoulder pads in case I hit a wall and can't think of a better way to write the sentence, and jam my helmet on to ward off blows from banging my head against the wall when I can't think of a word. It's a tough game, but I'm deep into the fourth quarter and the clock is running. I'm fourth and goal, with no time-outs.

Looks like I'm going to be wild and crazy for a while ... look out!

Tomorrow I'll be sore all over ...

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I got to thinking this morning, that we can't put everybody in one box. Just as there are some evil people out there disguising themselves as "Christians" ... there are many good-hearted, honest, and truth-seeking evangelicals among them. We can't lump all evangelicals into one heap ... nor can you do the same thing with the rest of the world's population. That includes new age thinkers and races and religions of all kinds.

God is God ... I see Him in move in the minds and lives of all races and religions ... Let's let Him figure out who His true followers are. Sometimes we try to do His job, and we end up with bigotries and prejudices of all kinds floating upward like vapors, stinking in His nostrils.

Just wanted to clarify my thinking ... that there is good, bad, and ugly in all classes of people, groups, and denominations. And this is also good in all of the same.

It is not my position or yours to judge ...

On a much lighter note ... I've just finished my Speaker's Press Kit with my publicist, and it's awesome! 20 packets will be in the mail Monday morning ... I'm praying for some wonderful opportunities to share my work with the region at large.

The book is selling well. I get orders every day ... I'm thrilled with the responses!

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Evangelical America Can Be A Dangerous Place To Live

Sometimes the business side of writing and publishing just sucks the creative side right out of me. I've spent too long, since finishing SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN, working on press kits, giving interviews, and reorganizing my office. I'm itching to get back to the work I love. Though I find time to blog, read, and write short snippets of story from time to time ... my first love is in writing and editing my novels.

Although I certainly have cleaned out a bunch of clutter. (i.e. no more reading tons of Internet sites, blogs, and cut down on email time.) There comes a time when you've just got to trust yourself, and move in the direction your spirit leads you.

But, I have been meeting some interesting people lately. I made a new friend yesterday. She contacted me upon reading my work somewhere. Our backgrounds are quite similar, as her fundamentalist religious background mirrors my own. We sat and drank coffee and ate breakfast together ... chatting the morning away. These times are refreshing to me ... sharing notes on all those church services we sat in ... laughing about the stuff we lived through. Although quite painful at the time, laughing about it now is part of that healing process. Unless one experiences manipulation to this magnitude, you can't understand how a body can be swept up in it.

I often get asked, "How could that happen to someone like you?" It's a question I've often asked myself. But when you come out of it ... it's like being cured from cancer. You wonder how it started and how you got through it. It's the best way to explain it, I suppose.

My poor husband, who's never experienced that type of mind control, sits and shakes his head. He can't understand the types of conversations I have with people who have been rescued, or broke out of church cults. The man has had his own personal relationship with his creator all his life, and has never depended on any ministry for answers. Lucky duck.

But, here's where we need to clarify. Do I believe in attending church? Yes, absolutely. If you can find one that won't take away all your freedoms. I think people need to be taught, guided, and if the Shepherd is any good, he won't lead his flock into legalism. He will encourage them to seek God for themselves. Do I believe in one denomination over another? No. I know they all have their own way of practicing their faith, but in the end ... I believe that God is neither Catholic nor Baptist. That's all fluff to me.

Personally, when one has been so bruised and battered by pastors, teachers, prophets, apostles, reverends, etc. who are raging wolves in sheep's clothing, then I would suggest you do what I do ... worship in the safety of your home. Guard your heart ... but mostly ... guard your new open mind. There will be lots of leftover residue to wade through and shake off. Your mind is vulnerable and you need to find your own way first, before getting swept up in yet another church or mega ministry. Evangelical America can be a dangerous place to live. Don't kid yourself. Guard your soul, folks.

I have seen the dark side of evangelism. I know the evil that lurks in the minds of those that cannot be reasoned with. But I have also experienced the smiles on the faces that have come out of it. The laughter that takes over as a result of living through it. The laughter at ourselves, our plight, our journey. Once you have been through that kind of experience, I've realized (just lately) that it becomes a part of you. You can never get rid of that past. So you learn to laugh about it ... and you find comfort in those with similar paths.

I was reminded of the scripture, yesterday ... "Touch not my anointed ..." It made me wonder why there are so many wolves out there touching their anointed sheep and ruining their lives. For so long, we were led to believe that scripture was just about "anointed pastors." Can't God anoint all of us? The scripture also tells us "God is also not a respecter of persons."

You see it's all in how it's interpreted. And who's right? You can't boldly proclaim your authority over interpreting scripture when God has the ability to reveal Himself to any one of us.

That's why I worship at home, never push my beliefs on anyone, respect those of others even if I don't agree, and in the process ... I have found peace. Easy way out? Maybe. Do I want my ears tickled? You bet I do. I've sat through enough hell, fire, and brimstone to last me a lifetime. Evangelicals can shout and scream at each other all they want in the confines of their glass walled churches ... I'll enjoy my peaceful worship ... at home.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What Matters?

Come and go with me to my Father's house, to my Father's house, to my Father's house
Come and go with me to my Father's house ...

I'm not sure who wrote this old song ... I find it documented as an old Negro spiritual as well as arranged and sung by different artists ... so I'm not exactly sure to whom to give this credit to ... but I remember singing it. Over and over again.

Oh yes, we Pentecostals sang it loud and long ... the words were a bit different to what I find online. Come and go with me to my Father's house where there is peace ... sweet peace.

Father's Day was this past Sunday. I wonder how many of us think about the Father of all Father's. If you're a believer, if you have the smallest ounce of faith, and if you believe in that "Higher Power" you know ... there's a Father of us all. A creator. A divine one who mastered the universe and according to the Bible, "hung the world upon nothing."

I love it. Hung the world upon nothing. Awesome. Ever think about it?

I think about God a lot. I believe in Him. I'm not trying to be politically correct, nor am I trying to sway you to the left ... or to the right ... that's all fluff anyway ... if you're a believer.

Look up into the night sky ... tell me how it got that way.

When we get down to the end of the road, when our world comes to an end ... it's nice to believe in a place where your soul goes to your Father's house. Will the civilization we encounter be similar to the one we're in? Do you ever wonder what heaven is really like? Well, don't fret, because this life is all too short, folks. One day you wake up and your kids are grown, you're middle aged, and life has whizzed by you so fast you think you're dreaming.

Do you fear death? Should you? I suppose it depends on what you believe. If I were an agnostic, or an atheist ... and all I believed is that we just die and nothing happens ... I think I would fear that most of all. Of course, I also believe in hell ... whatever God has chosen that to be.

But most of all ... my spirit tells me there's a place beyond the horizons ... a place where the soul never dies ... a dwelling place of eternal peace and yet, a society where God reigns.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

In the meantime ... we're here. Humans, struggling to get along. Finding our way amidst the everyday trials of life. Wondering what is our purpose ... what is it we're supposed to do with our lives, and why do we lament so about every ... little ... thing that doesn't go our way. What matters? How selfish can we be and still make heaven?

But then if you don't believe ... I suppose you can live however you want ... there are no consequences, are there?

I will still sing it for you though ... come and go with me to my Father's house ... become a seeker, at least.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, June 19, 2006

...Gone To Ohio For A Big Wedding

I have to laugh. It was sign on the door of a wallpaper store here in town a couple years ago. It didn't just say ... CLOSED. It said ... CLOSED, GONE TO RALEIGH FOR A BIG WEDDING. Not just a wedding ... a BIG wedding.

Well, that's how I felt when we left last Friday ... I was CLOSED. Gone to Ohio for a big wedding. Took the weekend off! Michael and I spent a hot day in Ohio, temperature in the low 90s, but definitely ... the wedding of the century.

Sarah, my daughter's childhood friend, college roomie, and lifelong best fried, was married Saturday, June 17th to Doug ... her sweetheart for the past eight years. (A real hottie.) The wedding, held at Congress Lake Country Club took place outside by the lake, but the reception was inside (thank goodness.) Despite the heat, Sarah was by far, one of the most beautiful brides I've ever laid eyes on. Her dress was gorgeous. A floating sea of satin folds, strapless, pink sash, diamond waist broach ... unbelieveable. She gave all Southern belles a run for their money, I can tell you that much.

But then, my Jilly was a pretty sweet ticket. Jill was a bridesmaid, as well as all Sarah's other close friends, Beth and Heather. They're all truly the Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel of Columbus, Ohio ... FRIENDS.

Prime rib, china and stemware, open bar, a live band, cake to the ceiling, and a few hundred guests dressed to the nines. A memorable evening, a new young married couple, and dreams my Jillian can put under her pillow ...

Blessings to the happy couple.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


... they lost ... (not the weather kind) the North Carolina hockey team kind.

My step-son, Christopher, LOVES the NC Hurricanes. Although he stood for the entire game in his Arizona livingroom and bit his nails ... the canes still lost.

They're in the play-offs. If they could just squeak out one more win, then they win the Stanley Cup and Christopher will be in hog-heaven.

That makes me happy. That makes his daddy happy. Chris may live in Arizona, but his heart (as far as his sports teams go) is back home in NC. He's a huge Tar Heel, Panther, and Hurricane fan. Although he's been acquiring a taste for the Arizona Suns, Chris has been following NC teams for a long, long time. The man lives and dies for sports. And his sweet wife, Nicole.

But somehow, I think even Nicole takes a back seat with the Canes are in the play-offs.

That's okay, Nicole ... it's a nice bargaining chip.

So ... Christopher is sitting on the edge of his seat waiting for the next game in the series ... and hopefully with the next win, NC wins the Stanley Cup!

Go CANES! ... we can't wait for the next puck off!

Blessings to you and yours. And Happy Birthday, Michael! Please give me another 54 years!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

We're Celebrating

Oh my ... I've just re-read my blog from yesterday. I think it must've been those hot-flash hormones talking. You know, the time of the month when all middle-aged women turn into Cruella Deville. EEEK!

On a lighter note ... it's raining today. Once in a while, I love a good soaking. It replinishes the garden, my flowers, makes the yard pretty. A day to stay curled up inside with a good book, and maybe cook something special for dinner. Have a glass of wine. Rest.

But not today! The errand list is long and tomorrow is Michael's birthday. So tonight ... we're celebrating!

Presents, balloons, party favors, the traditional birthday tiara, and birthday barbeque! We'll order out, bring in a bakery cake, and celebrate. It's how we handle getting older around here. We don't let the years roll by quietly. No way. The man gets better looking as the years roll by ... typical male progression. Women ... well, we just deteriorate over time. What can I say. Write blogs like the one I did yesterday. EEEK, again.

But maybe, when you think about it, after you turn 50 ... you should celebrate every day. Every day you wake up is a good day. Celebrate life by doing what you want ... loving every minute you're with those who make you happy ... giving of yourself in some way that fulfills that philenthropic part of you. Whatever reason you can find to celebrate ... just do it.

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

Blessings to you and yours! (I guess that would be me!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bite Me

I was asked about dieting last night. About the money Americans have wasted on it, and I went overboard on my comments. Boy, does this subject strike a sour note of discord with me!

I refuse to spend another dime on diet crap. I realized a long time ago that one can lose weight without buying the latest QVC ab machine. God save us from yet another skinny diet expert’s book on how to lose weight. And please, no more low-carb, low-fat, low-cal cookbooks that confuse the hell out of us! (God, I love Paula Deen!)

There's only one way to really lose weight. Eat less, exercise more. Duh. Every fat person in America already knows that.

Barring any physical disorder (i.e. thyroid, which nobody can seem to regulate mine anymore) you can shrink without spending thousands of dollars.

I have blown enough $ over the years to probably pay cash for a couple nice cars. And then some. But never again. I've inhaled, digested, and slapped on my share of diet drinks, potions, lotions, and pills. (And I don't just mean over-the-counter. I remember the 70s when every diet doctor in town doled out black beauty’s like they were candy.)

I've worked out at Curves, Gold’s gym, with Oprah's trainer (memorized the book), spent lunch hours with that famous kickboxing guy on TV (wasn’t that famous, huh?) and graced the smelly, sweaty locker rooms --after busting my butt-- at numerous other local health clubs, including Bally's and the memorable Vic Tanny.

I have sweat to the oldies with Richard Simmons until my knees buckled under me, jumped in place in aerobic classes all while hoping not to pee my pants, laughed through yoga, nearly slipped a disk during Pilates, pulled muscles I didn’t know I had during weight training, lived through a near-death experience on a stair-stepper, and wasted tons of time rocking back and forth like a lunatic on Body-By-Jake. I’ve walked to the moon and back, and nearly killed myself on a treadmill--total burn out. Hurt my knees mountain climbing and have kept more food journals and exercise progress charts than you can shake a stick at.

I've followed Atkins to the letter, along with S. Beach, Hollywood, Dr. Phil., Optifast, Suzanne Summers, Susan Powter, Deal-A-Meal, Denise Austin ... you name it … their food regimens have been on my table. Studied E-diets suggestions, Tony Robbins lectures, and Fergie’s famous royal weight loss testimony, as well as hundreds of other “success” stores … took notes, lost a little, and put it all back on … and then some.

Watched all season of The Biggest Loser. Fat chance of that happening for me. You need to be healthy to begin with!

I've gone to Weight Watchers, Physicians Weight Loss, Nutri-system, and Overeaters Anonymous, just to name a few. I’ve lost it all right along with Oprah, except I didn’t have her money to hire the cook, trainers, and TV cameras so the world could watch me stay motivated.

Hell, I've been hypnotized. Didn't work. Been prayed for … had hands laid on to lose weight. True story. All while the faith healer weighed more than me. I remember seeing a spot of gravy (probably from his Sunday fried chicken dinner) on his tie.

Tried to smoke to lose weight. Hated it. Never resorted to mind-altering drugs or alcohol … although it crossed my mind a time or two. As an adult, I've been a size 6 and a size 26. I've been laughed at, made fun of, and also whistled at. All in the same year.

I've yo-yo'd from one extreme to the other for over 30 years. It's not fun. It messes with your head. My self-esteem has ballooned and then popped. More than once.

Both of my middle-aged sisters are a hundred sizes smaller. Never been what I call over weight. Not for a day. Have a tiny daughter, size 8 friends, and a wardrobe of clothes I swore I’d never wear again. But yet … here I am … wearing fat clothes again. Shorts? Not on your life. Bathing suit? Not for a million bucks. Frustrating, you ask? You don’t know that half of it. If I never see another pair of black pants in my lifetime, it’ll be too soon.

I’ve heard it all … “be happy with your body, no matter your weight.” Are you laughing? Me too. All those heavy women on TV claiming to love their overweight bodies … get real. Who do they think they’re fooling?

Do I want to be stick thin? Hell no. I honest-to-God don’t give a damn about being 125 pounds anymore. Even 135. It’s even more than “being healthy” to me.

It’s about feeling good in a pair of pants, or a nice suit. It’s about not hating having your picture taken. Not being self-conscious of your nakedness. It’s about growing old gracefully… and looking decent. Not bloated and obese. It’s about not being tired all the time. Not aching in my hips and knees.

I’ve heard my family say … “she put it all that weight back on … AGAIN! What’s wrong with her … why can’t she stop eating?”

What they don’t know is I’ve done that too. Stopped eating. Several times. Ever go on a fast? Ever feel so desperate to be loved that you deny yourself food?

Never again.

I REFUSE to spend another dime or any more of my time on something that doesn't work. Last time I lost weight, it was in 2000. I lost over 50 pounds. It was hell. It was not fun. I hated every minute of it. Did everything short of having my stomach stapled. (Except I did have liposuction and a tummy tuck in 2001 after losing 50 pounds.)

You still think fat people are lazy, don’t want to look nice in clothes, can’t control themselves? Fat people are some of the most productive people in the world. They have some of the strongest will power you could ever imagine. Their dreams and goals, I’m willing to bet, are far superior to anything you could make up.

Am I angry? Hell, yeah, I’m pissed off. More at myself than anything. I’ve seen how women especially, suffer unspeakably with pounds of unwanted fat.

At my age, I've done it all. Seen it all. I don't care to kill myself again loosing weight. I’m tired of being miserable while I lose, and while I try to keep it off. I want to enjoy my life. I want to taste wine and chocolate and cheese and breads. I can’t live on daily helpings of rice cakes anymore! I want to eat out and not think about calories. And I’m not talking about gorging … just simply eating … like normal people.

Trouble is, not caring will kill me too. I think about it this every day of my life. I’m letting you in on the “dark side of me.” This pain of aging, this trying to understand how some women eat twice as much as I do and weigh nothing … trying to understand why 1,200 calories a day adds weight on me … how come it takes six months of rigorous exercise for me to lose a few inches … all these questions have consumed me.

Wonder why some of us “fatties” are cranky? Think it’s all mind over matter?

Yeah? Bite me.

Let me throw the first stone (or boulder) at the hecklers, the people who say, “just do it,” the experts that squeeze out our last dime on the next breakthrough in diet crap. To quote Forrest Gump, "Sometimes, there aren’t enough rocks."

Feel free to quote me too.

Blessings on you and your fleshy behind.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Day In The Sun With Cats And Southern Women

Dena Harris, fellow writer and friend extraordinaire, and I shared booth space yesterday at Wayneck Medical Center for the annual GODDESS MARKET. The place was covered with new age gurus, faeries, belly dancers, and of course vendors of all sorts. Jewelry, skin care, flowers, Indian cuisine, even a reader and advisor was on hand to dole out her tarot cards.

Weren't too many shoutin' Baptists at this festival of new thinkers.

(Giggle) Now, if you're like some I grew up around, you'll probably think I'm in need of salvation all over again. Why, land sake, sittin' all day around those "tree-huggers" ... I'm surely in need of sanctification by the truckload.

To me, these were friendly and fun people. We sure didn't lack for entertainment all day.

Despite the heat and few book sales, Dena and I laughed the afternoon away. You can never tell about festivals. I'm pretty positive; this was neither Dena’s target audience nor mine. We basically broke even with the few we sold and sharing the cost and decorations of the booth. It's live and learn when it comes to book publicity.

But it's also about exposure. Many took our cards and bookmarks with our web site on them, and the Editor from Guilford Woman Magazine stopped by and asked me to contact her about an interview. There you go. Looking at the glass half-full ... one never knows where exposure will lead.

By the end of the day, I had melted off my makeup and matted my hair with healthy doses of cold water poured over my head. Hot and humid, the car's air conditioning was a welcome relief. North Carolina can be quite unbearable in the summer, even under the shade of a tent. Michael took over a hundred pictures and Blair (Dena's husband) was the smart one, he ran errands to air-conditioned stores while we melted.

I think the best venue for me will be targeted audiences who come specifically to hear me speak or to buy my book. My publicist is working on those. For now, I'll think back on this day as a great day with friends and a chance to tell more people about my book.

Dena's humor book on living with cats and my book on Southern women make for great conversation with our customers ... even if they don't buy the books.

Blessings to you and yours. (And a few hallelujah shout-outs to all the new-agers out there.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

When Will It End?

Sometimes I get an idea from a blog my friend Dena has posted. This morning she wrote about the war in Iraq.

Of course, being a mother of a Marine, I responded. I have to agree with her, we all feel somewhat distanced from that war most of the time. My son, now having finished his service in the Marine Corp, works for a major airlines and is doing quite well, thank you very much. Uncle Sam helped him through college and molded him in areas that I, as a single mom, could not. He's an upstanding citizen and a good person. And when I think of all the other mothers whose sons are now serving their country in a war-torn region of the world, my heart just sinks. I could've been in their ranks had the war started a few years earlier.

Sure, having money for college is nice, but I think most mother's would prefer the safety of their sons and daughters, to the benefits their children are awarded should they live through four years in the military.

Still, I was moved by Dena's blog this morning. It's difficult to think about what these guys are going through. Okay, yes, I know the boys in WWII went through unspeakable horrors, as well men and women during the Korean War and Vietnam. Talk to any veteran that's seen action. If they're willing to relive it, they'll tell you what the young men and women in Iraq are going through. They've been there. They know.

But the rest of us? We sit in our protected homes and lives and tend to push all thoughts of Iraq out of our heads. Nobody wants to think of it. It reminds me of how we reacted to the war in Vietnam ... we ignored it until it up and slapped us in the face. Until Americans are faced with terrorism on our own soil, we have this innate ability to turn away from terror overseas.

Problem is, what do we do about it? Not much. Some write letters, protest, march on Washington ... but can we really stop it? How does the ordinary citizen bring peace to the world in a day or a month? Feeling a bit helpless? I suppose the best thing we can do is ... pray. Pray for peace, pray for our sons and daughters, and pray that the men and women we elect in Washington have our best interest at heart.

Do they really? It's anybody's guess.

A depressing subject, which -again- is why we avoid thinking about it. We turn the channel, or skip over the evening news from Baghdad, or throw away the section of the newspaper that reports another soldier killed. A soldier whose family lives in our town. A soldier who will be laid to rest in his family's church cemetery. It's Vietnam to me ... all over again.

I support the troops ... I pray for them ... I also want to bring them home, even if we have to put different men and women in office to do that.

Blessings to you and yours. And safety.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Random Thoughts

Attended the Annual Member Appreciation Party for the Winston-Salem Writers group last evening. Wow! What a turnout. The place was packed. Just a simple event really ... covered dish and twelve great door prizes. All it was meant to be was a gathering of writers and their significant others to share food, fun, and writing accomplishments from the past year.

This group has enthusiasm, for their own passions and for other writers. I'm astonished by their camaraderie. And, as fate would have it, three of the members bought my book last night. Well, of course ... I just happen to have a box in my car. I've sold another 30 books or so since the launch last week.

The comments I've been receiving on the book have been wonderful. Like ..

"I'm only up to page 62 but I'm already enjoying your book so much that I had to tell you. In fact -- and you can bet that I very rarely say this -- your writing is excellent. I hope to share a small portion of Vernell Paskins' story as an example of a distinctive voice when I speak at Of Dark & Stormy Nights this coming weekend ... “ from Editor, Chris Roerden

And of course, there's been lots of verbal applause filtering in. That makes me smile. You work hard for a long, long time ... you hope people like your stories ... it's a great feeling when they do.

I'm having a tough time getting my tired body to swing back into a normal working routine this week. I shouldn't be so hard on myself, I suppose, but I'm looking at a growing list of projects. Priority being working with my publicist. I feel like I could spend a week working with Deb. But this Sunday is the Goddess Market and Dena and I are sharing a booth to promote our books ... so we're meeting tonight to plan that event, and tonight I'm speaking at Borders so I should concentrate today on the books on writing I plan to present.

Balance. We all struggle with it, don't we? I think I've written more about balancing priorities in this blog more than I probably should have. It's a rant, however, that I feel we all share. People talk about putting their "priorities in order." But my question remains ... HOW DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE THEY'RE IN THE RIGHT ORDER? Ugh.

So as I contemplate this age-old question ... I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee and enjoy the warm Carolina morning before I tackle the rest of my day. Random thoughts of laundry, lunch, and playing with the dogs are calling me away from my office. Do I resist or do I stay and force myself to go through the pile on my desk?

I'm laughing. Laughing because I'm thankful. Thankful that I have a choice.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Past Five Days

I don’t suppose there’s any other way to put this. The past five days of my life have been undeniably one of the highlights of this country girl’s life. There’s nothing like the first time. The first car, the first boyfriend, the first kiss, the first job, the first time you have sex, the first baby, the first house, and the first book.

I launched SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN on Thursday evening, June 1st, and I must say, there’s nothing like the first time you sit at a table and sign your name for a line of people wanting to buy your book. I sold 82 books that night. It was more than a success—it was triumphant! I can’t begin to explain the feelings … but I shall try.

May 31st, early in the morning I interviewed with Bill Flynn, DJ for WMAG FM soft rock radio. A ten-minute interview that was reduced to a minute on the air, but nevertheless, an interview by a prominent radio station. I was thrilled and honored to not only meet Bill, but also talk about my launch to virtually thousands that morning. Previously, I had interviewed with Mike Moore on WLOE radio in Rockingham County, and that was great because I could call in from home. But this was in the studio. A little more nerv-wracking.

Later, I spent the day anxiously waiting for my daughter to arrive. I don’t get to see Jillian much, as she lives in Ohio. It’s a crazy, fun time when Jilly comes. Her step-dad loves her to pieces and I can’t get enough of her … I wish I could hog-tie her to the porch, keep her here ... but she's got a life away from me now. I guess I'll have to live with it.

June 1st, Foxx 8 interview with Cindy Farmer … an early morning curtain call. Michael and I headed to the studios early. Ever been in a green room? I always wondered what it looked like. Nothing other than a room with chairs and donuts. Yep, these TV folks love their donuts. Michael opened the Krispy Kreme box with elation … “Want one?”

“How can you eat at time like this?” I said. My stomach in knots, I wanted to get the whole thing over with. Roy the weatherman made chit-chat with us a moment, then I was hooked up to a microphone pack and led like a puppy to the set.

Cindy Farmer is as sweet as she is pretty, but all business. I think those TV-types concentrate from one moment of news to the next, so they’re not into “getting to know their visitors.” But … all in all, I think it went as well as could be expected. She seemed to like the book. Then I watched the recording of it when I got home. Godamighty. I wore black, but those 10 pounds TV adds looked more like 110 on me. I’m not into viewing that again anytime soon.

The launch – what can I say … magnificent. I couldn’t have done it without lots and lots of people who loved me and helped every step of the way. Dena and Blair Harris stood by and greeted guests, Blair sat at the “PAY HERE” station, and Dena introduced me with a speech that people are still talking about. She’s amazing. She set the tone for how the public will view my work for the rest of my career, and you can’t buy that kind of enthusiasm or friendship. Dena Harris, an accomplished writer in her own right, gave freely that evening. I can’t begin to thank her and Blair enough.

Tim and Tina Rich, my dear friends from Ohio, stood behind the wine table and had a ball. They got a little snockered, but loved every minute of shouting my virtues to every guest that came to their table … I had to laugh watching them, but I also teared up trying to thank them … having them there, feeling their support meant the world to me.

I saw so many from writing groups, friends, family, and places I had worked, I can’t name them all … and what really amazed me was all the people who came that I didn’t know. And those who couldn't come, please know I felt your presence and good wishes. I appreciated every prayer on my behalf. Gail Gurley, Beth Hanggeli, Deb Bryant, you RULE!

The High Point Literary League members came and Lois Foscue, past President, spoke about the Scholarship Fund I was donating 50% of the proceeds from the book launch to. I appreciated their support that evening, and hope to someday speak to the members at one of their events.

The evening rain held off, the Bouldin House was the perfect venue, and over 100 guests came and filtered through the garden, meandered over the veranda, and listened to the sounds of guitarist Gregory Allen Young play and sing his soft music that wielded it’s way into the warm evening air.

June 2nd and 3rd, off to Carolina Beach! One night with my friends Tim and Tina, we ate at a great Southern cuisine restaurant on the Cape Fear River, and kicked back for the weekend. A breather for me. Visited a few winery’s, sat with our feet in the ocean, shopped at Southern Pines, and toured Pinehurst Golf Resort on the way home.

June 4th, Sunday … before my entourage departed for home, five of us headed for the winery at Childress in Lexington … ate a great lunch, tasted fine wines, and languished in the low-humidity (for a change) and sunshine.

I can't even begin to thank my husband for his tireless work on this launch. I won't even try. I'm the luckiest woman in the world. The man lives for his family ... he takes my breath away.

Now here it is Monday morning … and I’m in no mood to work. I still feel the need for another few days of R&R, with the past three months of working non-stop days and nights on this book. But, alas, the call of my novel is loud in my ears. I hear my characters whispering among themselves … they want and need my attention. I will pick up that torch this week.

Who knows, maybe this time next year … we may be in the midst of book launch number two. TELEVENGE is just around the corner, begging to be finished. And I know it will be exciting beyond belief to launch that book. But somehow, I don’t think anything will ever take the place of this first book. SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN has started the ball in motion. For that, I will be ever grateful to the characters that called my name, and to the many friends and family that supported me on the night we launched her.

Blessings to you and yours.