Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sick Of It

I try very hard not to post any politically-minded blogs. I feel everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions ... most of the time. But this morning, I watched yet another news report of a local boy's funeral. My heart hurt watching the family mourn for their beloved son. Another fallen soldier.

And I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of men and women coming home dead from a war that makes no sense to me whatsoever. I'm a mother of a Marine. My son, thank you Jesus, came home safely from his time with Uncle Sam. But I remember what it felt like when he was away, not knowing how or where he was. And the war hadn't even started yet. I hated it then, I hate it now.

I remember vividly the Vietnam War. I also remember when my son was born; it was one of the first things I thought about. "Please God, don't let my baby son grow up to fight in a war that nobody wants." That was 1975. Vietnam was just ending.

I understand some wars have been necessary. Or at least WW I and II seemed to be. And I understand, there will always be wars and rumors of wars. But it doesn't make it any easier on families of sons and daughters who are carried home and laid to rest in the family cemetery.

This war ... in my opinion ... is the worst unecessary war. And when the faces of young men and women appear on the news, they haunt me. But, I'm the first to admit, it's a war so far removed from our daily lives, I don't even think about it. Be honest, how many times during the week do you contemplate this war? Unless you have a loved one in the service, I'll bet not much time is spent on it. I try hard not to think about it. I try real hard.

Until the news comes on and another beautiful, young face is flashed on the screen.

And I'm sick of it, once again.

Enough! Enough of Americans dying for people who don't give a damn about why we're there. Don't want us there. No more propaganda pictures, please, of Iranians holding welcome signs, hugging soldiers, and smiling soldier faces. NO MORE. Please, somebody give me a good reason why our sons are dying in a country where its citizens will always be killing themselves and hating Americans in the process. We're not going to change these people or their way of life. Not now. Not ever.

I was sent a another propaganda picture recently of a young boy in Iraq who was caught stealing. For his punishment, this seven-year old boy was held down and his arm was ran over PURPOSELY by a truck. To teach him a lesson. Is there any wonder why these people are taught to hate? These heinous crimes against humanity are unthinkable to us. Crimes against women and children in third-world countries need to be addressed, yes ... but we have to find a way to do it without killing our own. I know, easier said than done.

I don't have answers. I'm just a mom that can't stand to see any more funerals and 21-gun salutes on TV.

These people, these monsters, that would do harm to women and children, their mentality seeps through the very core of their society. It hasn't changed for thousands of years.

Why kill our sons and daughters in the process of them killing theirs?

Bring our soldiers home, protect our own borders, and find a better way (God help us) to help them.

Aren't you sick of it too?

Praying for protection to the families of children in harms way this day, and blessings to you all.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Head Colds and Public Speaking

I have a cold. But it doesn't matter, I have to show up. Last night I spoke to a great group at Shakespeare & Co., independent bookstore, in Kernersville, NC. I was a bit concerned as the sky opened up about the time we backed out of our garage. People in North Carolina typically don't like to get out in any kind of weather. If it rains even a little, it might as well be five feet of snow. Folks just stay indoors around here. Go figure. Growing up around lots of snow for six months of the year, that just doesn't compute with me.

Anyway ... I was surprised to see a nearly full house arrive to hear me speak. Many offered great comments about the the stories in Southern Fried Women and I could tell from the questions, this group not only read the book, the were interested in the history of the stories.

I've been fighting this bad head cold all week, so by the end of the evening my voice was about gone, but I loved every minute of it. My favorite thing in life, at the moment, is talking about my stories to those who want to know the details about them.

This morning I'm heading over to have coffee with my friend, Lisa ... I'm hoping a good dose of laughter and strong coffee will help me feel better ... this cold is dragging on too long. This afternoon I'm speaking to yet another group at a Senior Citizen establishment ... and I need to feel better. I just won't breathe in their direction.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

I've been practicing for my upcoming "musical" debut ... Southern Fried Women has been put to music and October 5th, the accomplished pianist/composer, Rose Lindsay Pfaff from Greensboro, will accompany me on the piano as I read from the book. Rose has composed a Prelude and a Postlude for Southern Fried Women, and will play renditions of gospel tunes throughout the readings.

Now if you've read the book, you know there are many tent revival and church songs mentioned throughout. Having literally cut my teeth on the back of a church pew, I grew up in revival tents, tabernacles, and grand cathedrals with TV cameras rolling. If you know me and my work, I explore the world of religion, spirituality, and the unexplained in nearly every story.

When Rose read the book something clicked inside her as she recalled the gospel songs she sang and played on the piano as a child. Rose relayed to me that her grandmother introduced her to gospel music.

Needless to say, Rose went to work. What transpired since has been nothing short of a miracle. Rose is a nationally renowned pianist and composer whose curriculum viate is five pages long. A recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards, Rose creates sound sculpture, has taught music on the college level, and has been the Chair and Founder of countless music education programs. Rose holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Composition and a Master of Arts in Piano ... so I was nearly speechless when this gifted and exquisite woman asked to perform with me.

Humbled and honored ... I believe Rose's elegant style and nature has not only brought Southern Fried Women into a whole new dimension, but the contrast of her elegant style brings out the edge in my writing of the women in the rough, raw, and often tremultuous South. It enhances it in a way I’ve not seen done before.

Chairman of the Books and Arts Committee of the Women's Professional Forum, Rose was instrumental in this organization's sponsorship of the event. Complete with a wine and food reception afterward, these precious women support the arts in a major way. Their contribution to my work and that of Rose Lindsay Pfaff, is to be applauded. I am deeply appreciative of their support.

And Rose, well … this gracious woman is an inspiration. Tireless, she's also a workhorse. But above all else, I've never in my life been around a woman with so much class. It oozes from her pores.

By all means, please come to the performance at the Holy Episcopal Church in Greensboro, October 5th, at 6:30 p.m. This is one of the most beautiful sanctuarys I've ever been in.

And did I mention I’m singing?

Now hold on ... I'm no opera singer. I sing a little church chorus in the performance. (I’m a country girl, remember?) And I sing rather well, I might say. Well ... at least I can carry a tune ... and I've had years of practice singing old-timey gospel hymns in church, tapping my feet to the music, clapping, raising my hands, jumping up and down, watching grandma’s chin quiver, grandpa running around the sanctuary, and mama falling flat out under the power-glued to the floor. Even seen a few snakes in my day. Ministers and otherwise … but praise God, this is nothing like that.

A professional and elegant performance, Rose Lindsay Pfaff has made sure of that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Speaking to book clubs at the library this week, I found myself falling in love with the writing process all over again ... anxious to get home to work. Not the work that involves marketing, emails, answering phone calls, and mailing out press kits ... just writing.

The creative process, as I explained to a group of senior women, is not a learned process necessarily. It's a talent. One that is cultivated over years of sowing the imagination onto paper and reaping an eventual harvest of story. Certainly much of the craft of writing is learned but stories in written form must hold the attention of the reader in such a way that a memory is created. The reader's brain senses, I must remember this book. All the great marketing strategy in the world cannot replace a great story. But then again ... you can write the next Pulitzer Prize, but if there's no one out there promoting it on a regular basis ... it's not going anywhere either.

The answer is balance. That plus raw talent, unique voice, commitment, passion and pure luck.

On another note ... I saw the Diary of Anne Frank this week with my writing buddy, Dena, at the Triad Stage. I was transported, at times, to the annex. The actor who played Anne Frank was incredible. She looked amazingly like her. Her skill at making us believe we were there ... haunted me for days. The ending you ask?

The ending blew me away. Bravo! I say to the cast and crew. Bravo!

A well written play ....

I suppose it's quite the same in writing an unforgettable play as writing an unforgettable novel ... you have to tell an unforgettable story.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

God Forbid

Okay ... so there's a church in my area that won't allow me to come give my inspirational speech. They don't want to hear it because I'm not part of organized religion anywhere and my book has a few "choice" words throughout for the sake of reality. (Refer to Monday, August 21st blog.)

But then I receive an email from this good friend of mine ... a friend I dearly love ... a friend who's funny, witty, and often has a great joke to tell. This friend is a born again Christian. The friend loves the church they attend. They sing in the choir and take the scriptures quite literally. But, as I said, the other day Michael and I received an email from this friend ... another joke. And though it was really funny, it had some explicit words in it. I don't remember exactly--something about a hillbilly and his testicles.

And then I noticed ... this friend had sent the same joke to many friends ... friends within the church -- I'm sure.

So ... I suppose it's okay to send off-color jokes through email as long as it's not in church. But God forbid I come into their church, deliver a moving and uplifting speech with a Christian message to their congregation, donate a percentage of my book sales to their outreach program, and sell my book.

God forbid.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Shining Example

I watched and listened to the former Prime Minister of Israel speak on TV late last evening. He observed that the world has been used to Israel being passive and the underdogs for the past 2,000 years and now that they are not and wish to conduct themselves as a democracy and protect themselves as a people, the world just doesn't understand it. But something he said struck a chord in me and rang like some liberty bell in the dark halls of a future looming in the dark distance. He said, "We are never going to the gas chambers again."

My friend Dena and I are going to the play, "The Diary of Anne Frank" this coming week. I am not a political person ... my opinions on the state of my city, county, country ... the world ... are not a focus of my life. I feel rather hopeless toward solutions. But when it comes to the matters of the human condition, the heart, and the children of any nation ... I tend to believe that mankind is continually evil and those who finally take a stand against evil should be applauded.

Looking forward to the play, Benjamin Netanyahu's comments made me realize that eventually, everyone get's fed up with being bullied. Even if it takes 2,000 years ... at some point in time you have to rise to the top and fight back.

A shining example to aspire to ... in my humble opinion.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Days Roll On

On the way back from Florida, I stopped in Savannah to have lunch at Lady & Sons. Owned by the ever popular, Paula Deen and her two sons, Southern chefs on the Food Channel. What an experience. I stood in line at 9:30 a.m. for an 11:00 lunch call. And "call" it was. They ring the dinner bell, then you wait across the street until your name is called. A hostess gives you a ticket and tells you what floor you need to proceed to in the restaurant.

I was on the third floor dining room ... the lunch was fantastic. Meatloaf on pumpernickel with wild mushroom mayonaise, jelly roll fries, corn fritters, cheese bisquits, and ice tea with mint. Yum. I was too full for dessert, but the tray of desserts looked wonderful.

I gave the sweet, young waitress a copy of my book to lay on Paula's desk. Hmmm --- do you think Paula Deen would like a book about Southern Fried Women?

The next morning at 7 a.m. I delivered yet another speech to the Kernersville Rotary, attended the Fall Luncheon for the High Point Literary League, (guest author was Gregory McGuire, author of Wicked, Son of a Witch, Lost, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), and then by 7 p.m. that same evening I attended and spoke at the first Open Mic at the all girl's Writer's Night Out in Greensboro. Needless to say ... I was ready for sleep by the time my head hit the pillow.

But the days roll on ... so do the good times, and (sigh) so do the bad ... there's been a few punches lately, but we ... roll with them. I'm busy ... promoting. And in promoting my work, I want more than anything to be kind to everyone I meet, as well as thankful and grateful. I've seen my share of nasty people in this world ... agressive and beligerent people. Nasty.

It's a breath of fresh, clean air to go on the road and find kind folk and people who take an interest in my work. Even in famous restaurants in Savannah.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Best Way

The best way to relay my experience at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Conference and Trade Show in Orlando last weekend is with an e-mail I sent to all the authors who signed their books at the Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America booth.

A warm hello to all my new friends from Florida and around the country!

I just arrived home Monday evening and since then, have been pouring through about 200 e-mails and washing a mountain of clothes. Is everyone as tired as me? The Gaylord Palms Hotel was beautiful and our booth simply ROCKED! No doubt, the BEST SINC and MWA booth ever!!!

I believe most everyone gave away most, if not all, of their books. Our booth was by far the busiest booth at the show. It looked great, and we placed information in every booksellers hands that walked by or stopped to chat.

Winners of the baskets - Saturday's basket winner was Genie Ford from Books & Crannies in Middlebury, Virginia. Sunday's basket winner was Kathy Acree from Ivy Books & Gifts in Glasgow, Kentucky. As soon as possible, I will be sending each of you who participated in the booth, a data base of every bookseller that submitted their business card or filled out a form to our raffle box. You can use these as labels for mailings or however you choose. It's great for your marketing purposes.

I will be sending a link for pictures to all of you in the next day or so. There are some great ones!

Many, many heartfelt thanks to Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America for their wonderful support throughout the years and in providing authors a venue to show their work to the industry.

Thank you, Beth Wasson, for your encouragement and support.

Thanks to the writing team of Charles Todd for stopping by on Saturday afternoon and giving their support and encouragement.

Thanks to Christine Kling for your help and for buying me one hell of a good margarita.

Thanks Bob Morris, you party animal you. You and your beautiful wife did an outstanding job in Satuday evening's dinner! The food, the atmosphere, the drinks and the packed house proved that we came to work and to have fun too! I'll never forget it. A perfect evening.

Thank you, Cathy and Bob Pickens, for the Moon Pies and making me laugh so hard at dinner. I want to party some more with you, chick.

Thank you, Dawn Kravagna, for helping me set up and being understanding when I called you Don instead of Dawn. (Geesh.)

Mary Clay, thanks again for the champagne and the books! What a great gift of love! What a smile you have.

Margaret Maron, I was honored to have signed with you. You are an inspiration to us all.

Nancy Cohen, Diane Vogt, Margee Bugbee, and Cathy Pickens ... you four got the day started off right! Whew! You set the bar for the rest of us! You ladies know how to work a crowd!

Mary Clay, Martha Powers, and Dawn Kravagna were up next! What a trio! Martha you rock!

McKenna Davis you're a "Joy" to be around. I hope you had as good a time as your husband seemed to be having!

Blaize Clement ... you, like Margaret Maron, are an inspiration. I felt a true energy just being near you. Christine Kling worked hard and got her books into the hands of a "right smart many" booksellers!

June Weltman, Alexandra Sokoloff, and Chris Kuzneski ... the picture I have of you three should be on the cover of some fashion magazine! What a handsome trio of mystery writers! Chris, I can't tell you how many booksellers came back to the booth on Sunday asking for your book! Made me wish I'd had asked you for a copy. Now I have to go buy it along with Alexandra's book! Best of luck to you, Alex, at Quail Ridge tonight! I expect to see you sometime on the Today Show. And June, my niece grabbed your book out of my hands today and has had her nose in it all evening.

Lynn Sholes, Joe Moore, and Jonathan King rounded out the day on Saturday. Lynn (you shameless hussey) you. She and Joe made sure their book got into as many booksellers hands as they could find! Great job, both of you! And Jonathan, I could see you were having a great time. Of course, I could see you anywhere in the room, you towered over the rest of us by a few feet!

Gammy Singer! Give my regards to Broadway! See you in New York City next year! Barbara Parker and her 10 or 11 published books wowed and amazed the booksellers. Saturday she took a zillion pictures, and Sunday her books flew off the table. Thanks for helping tear down, Barbara! Thanks so much. Terry Lewis, let's make YOU the next John Grisham! And last, but not least, Mary Anna Evans. A true "Relic." You remind me of a porcelain doll. Thanks for helping me tear down along with Barbara, Christine, and Terry.

A few very important people I almost forgot, but certainly not on purpose. Jan Fogt, Karen McCarthy, and Robert Woodring ... now there are some real troopers. They came to learn. They had no books to sign and give away. They were volunteers that wanted to network and help in any way they could.

And they did.

Thank you, so much, to these members who stood in the gap and made the work a little easier. We wish you all the best on your own books.
I can't wait to read all of your books! Truly. I wish you all the best in life and I do hope to see you all again. If not at a SIBA conference, then on the BESTSELLER list!

God richly bless you all. This has been an experience I'll never forget. Thank you all again! It's one for the memory books.

And that's the way it was.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Wilds of Florida

Off to Florida ... a few days with my folks in Ocala, then Michael and I head to Orlando and to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) trade show and conference. I'm looking forward to this massive show of booksellers, authors, editors, publishers and the thousands of books to be touted and shown off at this event. Including my book ... Southern Fried Women!

I won't be blogging for a week and neither will my writing buddy, Dena, who is off to the wilds of solitude in the mountains for a week in a cabin to write ... I envy her. But she left me with a great idea as I read her blog ( this morning ... I leave you for the week with one of my favorite quotes!

"It is not enough merely to love literature, if one wishes to spend one's life as a writer. It is a dangerous undertaking on the most primitive level. For, it seeems to me, the act of writing with serious intent involves enormous personal risk. It entails the ongoing courage for self-discovery. It means one will walk forever on the tightrope, with each new step presenting the possiblility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear."
-- Harlan Ellison

See you in a week!

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

End of Summer

Labor Day weekend ... time doesn't fly anymore it travels at the speed of light. As you plan a book tour, the months roll by so quickly that life becomes a blur. Here it is the holiday that typically puts an end to most people's summer, and I've not spent any time in my garden or yard or hiked or swam or basked in the sun. None of the carefree summertime activities I used to fill my summer with.

I long for endless days of lounging on a front porch swing with a glass of raspberry ice tea and a good book. Often, I find myself daydreaming about retirement, of quiet nights with doors and windows wide open just to enjoy the fresh air and the concert of frogs and crickets. No TV in the background of my existence. Only candlelight, quiet music, maybe a cup of rich coffee would round out my day. That and a brilliant summer sunset across the tops of the mountains---we should all be so lucky.

The end of summer signals to me that I've turned another year older and yet ... have so much more to do. I worry that my children will wake up one day and find that time has flown by even faster for them and they've yet not experienced their potentials.

As I race off this week, to yet another booksellers trade show to sign my book, I'm happy with these middle years of my life - I've learned to be content in my circumstances. I've learned many things, like keeping my mouth shut and my ears open.

But as I reflect on my youth -- gone, stolen, obliterated by a situation within and beyond my control, I wonder if I'll ever find the quiet years I've yearned for, dreamed about, written about. Every once in a while, I get a day where it's just me and Michael and nobody else, suspended in time on a "day off." I live for those days.

The end of summer is also the beginning of my favorite season -- autumn. Maybe that's where I'm headed ... to the autumn of my life ... but in the meantime, I think I'll go outside and have a Popsicle on the back porch, enjoy this end of summer before the week gets crazy with too much to do.

Blessings to you and yours.