Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'm still alive. Barely. I think I'm still breathing ... last time I checked. I wonder, after not blogging for a week ... do my readers stop checking in on me? Well ... sometimes ... you have no choice. My life away from a computer for the past week has been grueling, to say the least. I've checked email a couple times ... but that's about it. My parents (now in their 70s) moved. From middle Florida to near my sister in Atlanta, Georgia. Mike and I helped to pack them up and get them from point A to point B. No small feat.

But the job is done, I've passed the unpacking off to my sister, and we're now recuperating at home with heating pads and lots of Tylenol.

I have emails out the wazoo to answer, mail piled to the top of my door, a book that's screaming to be finished, speaking engagements to prepare for, laundry to the ceiling, bags to unpack, and a ton of other work that's staring me in the face, including a press release that needs done immediately!

... and all I want to do is catch up on my sleep, make an appointment for a massage and pedicure, and read.

I find my life gets in the way of my career now more than ever ... but, family comes first sometimes. So now to catch up.

But first, I think I'll go recuperate some more with a cup of tea and a nap.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Random Thoughts

I've spoken three days in a row, to three different groups. Sold ... a whole bunch of books ... I've lost count. I'm tired. Yet tomorrow ... we're back on the road ... off to Florida and to Georgia for a week. Not only stopping at a few bookstores, but this trip is mainly to help my folks move to their new home in Atlanta. Should be fun, but I'll be ready to head home next week, I assure you.

The best part about speaking is meeting great people. I met Tammie Grisso today, what a sweet woman with a stellar personality. People are so open and friendly ... this afternoon, I had one man approach me at the end of my speech, again with tears in his eyes, and he said, and I quote ... "God had to send you here today ... I'm at the end of my rope." Wow. When you can touch lives like that? There's nothing like it. And this man was a man of means. He was no slacker. I'm so moved by the reaction of men and women every time I speak. I feel ... so blessed.

Work on Televenge continues ... I'm getting fantastic feedback ... it's just gonna be a long-ass book. There's no way around it. I think I'll call Diana Gabaldon and Elizabeth Kostova ... get some moral support on book length ...

One of my "fans" sent me a T-shirt and note cards today! How cool is that? "Southern Fried Chick!" She's an awesome woman and owns Sweeties Chocolates and Gift Shop in Winston-Salem. Love, love it when I get fun stuff like this in the mail! The shirt and cards have the coolest little chick laid out on a beach blanket.

My writing friends are popping up everywhere. Ed Schubert just published Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, Issue Four ... Dena Harris is swamped with work and is working on a book of public speaking that, I'm sure, will be a must purchase for every writer. I know I plan to help her promote it everywhere I go. Carol Kenny ... this woman doesn't stop ... she's about ready to finish her novel Whispers from St. Mary's Well ... one family's historical account of the sharing of souls ... an amazing work. Watch for it ... coming to a bookstore near you! Lisa Wynn and Brenda Shropshire ... Hell on ... look it up. It kicks-butt. But then, if you knew these two hot chicks, you'd know why. Both writers, they're out to take the world of women business owners by storm. Mary Ellen, I'm looking for you to be syndicated by this time next year! Kelly Swanson ... opened for Loretta Lynn recently. She's a storyteller with stage presence deserving of the Oscar. I swear to Gawd.

The diet (or new life change) is going ... okay. It's slow, but sure. We're feeling better; Michael has lost two inches around his waist and 10 pounds. Me? Who knows? I refuse to keep track. I just want to feel better. That's all I want to do. We'll keep you posted. But I got the new Bob Greene book today ... it'll look good with the rest of my sixteen books by "professional" diet gurus. I've got to read them all someday.

Televenge takes a whole ink cartridge to run off. It's now in the hands of 9, soon to be 10 professional readers, editors, line editors ... God help me to get this one right.

I read some of Televenge at open mic tonight. Great group of Winston-Salem writers. The group is evolving and changing as groups do. Missed hearing some poetry slam. I hope I can continue to attend this monthly event. But it seems my schedule is starting to pull me away from a lot of monthly meetings.

It's getting late; we've got to hit the road before rush hour in Charlotte. I may not blog until next week, but I'm never sure how much of audience I have for this damn blog anyway. I keep plugging away at it. Just like I do everything else.

God bless writers everywhere. Keep us all sane, at least for a while.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Surrounded By Storytellers

I spent most of Saturday in a room full of storytellers. The most talented Kelly Swanson, Storyteller Extraordinaire, runs Page to Stage Workshop, held at the Greensboro Library. The eight or ten years this woman has perfected her craft is a lesson in never giving up your dream. She has charmed audiences from the podium to the cruise ship. And she's funny. She's really funny. Take a look at her web site

The room was packed with mostly women (and, one very sweet guy) already well into their storytelling careers. Talk about a room full of energy. I haven't seen that kind of energy in a room since my Donald Maass seminar back in 2005. (See my web site Journey 2005.) (Then again, there's the Hell on Heelz group, these business chicks are hot with ideas. But that's a blog for another day ...) Anyway, I spoke for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, about marketing and publicity. My ideas about marketing are pretty much common sense-type stuff, but one that sparked a lot of eyes was how I sent a copy of my book to every First Lady in the South. It just seemed reasonable to me that every Southern First Lady would want to read Southern Fried Women. The response to that has been tremendous. Especially since I'm now receiving handwritten thank-you notes from these awesome women inviting to host events for me.

But then again, common sense stuff to me is truly thinking outside the box. The fact is, I have a husband who is a born salesman. His background in marketing, teaching, and sales has certainly come in handy for me. But here's the thing. As artists, we spend SO MUCH TIME on our craft, that usually we're exhausted when it's time to "sell it." And selling it, my friend, is the hard part.

So although the air was charged with excitement about storytelling, the concern Saturday was how to channel that excitement into getting your work noticed. Storytelling presents a bit of a challenge in my mind in that you have nothing tangible to offer other than yourself and your words. You've really got to have lots of folks who believe in you and your abilities. You need to be GREAT at what you do. Whereas, if you have a book to sell, (you've still got to be at the top of your game) but, the sense of sight and feel comes into play. They've got something to take home with them, remember you by. And if it's a great book, so much the better.

So there are challenges and I respect these folks. They love, love what they do. They are performers, actors, and certainly know how to be a ham in front of an audience. They have a message, they motivate, uplift, and inspire their listeners all with the sound of their voice. It's truly an amazing craft.

Later, Laura Hamilton, CSP, came in for one of the most interesting talks I've heard in a long time. She is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant. Highly respected in the business and extremely talented. The woman knows how to grab your attention and hold on to it until she's wrung every last drop out of it. She talked a lot about growing your business. Take a look at the website ... The National Speaker Association offers a great deal of encouragement and help to those artists who need to work on their speaking skills.

Every storyteller, writer, actor, painter, sculptor ... EVERY artist at some point in time will need to know how to market their work. When you learn that YOU have got to "clean up your act" meaning your speech and the way you present yourself to the public, then you're part of the way toward the success you're searching for. You, my friend, are your best publicist.

It was an enlightening day. Each person in the room had something to contribute. Again, an amazing group. I felt right at home. But then, I grew up in a family of storytellers. There's nothing in the world like being surrounded by them.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Early Bird Or Night Owl?

Not all internal clocks click the same. I am not a morning person. I wished for years that I could wake at the crack of dawn like so many of my writer friends, hop on my tredmill, get my exercises and shower done before six a.m. and then head to my office with a mug of hot, fresh coffee in hand by seven. Then write three chapters of the next novel, and a quick edit ... all before lunchtime.

Ain't happenin' folks.

I have not been a morning person since my conception. I'm sure of it. I used to get in so much trouble for it. Catching a 7 a.m. school bus was next to impossible for me. Getting to work by 8 a.m. ... I still hate the sound of a time clock. I was seldom late, however, but it nearly killed me as my car often broke the speed of sound to get there on time.

People tell me that you become a morning person as you grow older. I wish that were true. My mother-in-law is awake by four or five a.m., she eats lunch at 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. and then is off to bed by 8:30 p.m. We are totally on different schedules. I'm usually eating breakfast when she eats lunch.

Night Owls are often looked down on as lazy, indifferent, and unproductive. "Why can't you get your ass out of bed in the morning?" I've heard that all my life. As I grow older, I'm starting to take offense. I used to hide the fact that I was a night owl. But no longer. As you grow older, you care less about stuff like this. You begin to wear your faults as badges of honor on your lapel. As if you've "earned" the right to have a few. Thing is, I work at home. Working from home is perfect for night owls.

Not being an early bird doesn't mean that if I have a speech to give at 7 a.m. I arrive half asleep. No, not at all. I've learned how to drag myself from the bed to the shower just to wake up. I can get to where I need to be on time. My husband, is not only an early bird, he's a happy early bird, and has learned how to guide me up and out the door. But that is just NOT my routine. And being a night owl doesn't mean I sleep until noon. Not at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time I slept until 9. It just means my body runs on a different schedule than most writers I know.

Being a night owl, for me, means sleep doesn't hit me until sometime after midnight. Morning doesn't come until at least the sun is UP. That means at 8 a.m., I hop out of bed. Nine times out of ten, I'm drinking coffee by 8. But when I'm awake ... it's non-stop work until I drop into bed. My most productive hours are from 6 p.m. until after midnight.

I wish I were a normal early-bird.

But this ole' night owl don't feel like changing her feathers at this point.

Or making excuses for it anymore either.

Yawn ... it's 9:30 a.m. Time for my second cup of coffee.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Edge

Oh yes, I definitely have one. This past weekend presented a new challenge for me. My speech, Coming out of the Dark, revolves around how a writer develops an edge to their writing. As a writer grows older and survives life’s heartaches and hardships, it creates the residue of so much conflict to write about. What events in a writer's life briefly touch or possess powerful magic to influence the stories they create? I talk about what it was in my life that gave me "the edge." It's interesting how you can pack 30 years of one's life in a 30-minute presentation. But, I must do it well because folks are riveted to their seats. It not something they hear talked about much ... the dangers of "religion." Especially here in the Bible belt.

But the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Saturday and Sunday I delivered this speech to two churches. A women's retreat on Saturday, the High Point First Presbyterian Church ladies, gathered at a beautiful lodge north of Greensboro, to spend the day together and reflect on the "JOY of the Lord." I could've talked to these beautiful women all day. Their love and graciousness touched my heart. We talked about how to be receptive and open to the hurting woman who may live or work next to you. It was a beautiful group conversation. I sold 30 books and made lots of new friends.

On Sunday, the men of the Friends Quaker Church in Archdale, cooked breakfast for their sweethearts for Valentine's Day. Precious. Pancakes, and all the fixin's. Over 70 gathered in their fellowship hall before Sunday school to eat, and then ... listen to me. The beauty is, they recorded it! On a quality CD! These folks literally wrapped their arms around Michael and I and insisted they become our home church. I had to smile. The response to my speech was once again, a touching one. Though quiet in nature, these folks heard what I had to say, and did a lot of head nodding. I loved it! Again, I sold another 30 books ... not bad for two days work. But the reward is, there's a two-fold thing going on here.

The word is getting out. About my work AND my message, that church shouldn't hurt. It's being heard. For some, it's the very first time they've heard anything remotely like it. At times, I'm not sure which is the more important. My message or my writing. And yet, I feel they're strongly intertwined. For others, it is a revelation. A confirmation of their suspicions. It's turned into a grass roots effort, that's growing. And I can't help but think this message is going to be huge at some point. So stay tuned, folks.

I feel as though I've taken a new direction, in some ways. Though I love attending writing conferences and classes, (and will continue to do so-as my schedule reflects) but, I'm now content just to stay connected to my few writer friends and the smaller writing groups I've enjoyed. I feel a "calling." To get this book done. To continue my career as a novelist and speaker. I am, for a fact, one of the few solely FICTION writers, with a speech about something other than writing. I feel the combination of the message and my stories is a new approach on the speaker circuit. And it's more than a message really, it's tunneling through one's obstacles - a voice of inspiration and ... oh, God ... here it comes ... that cliche' of a word ... hope.

But the challenge for me these past few days was presenting this message, that church shouldn't hurt ... to the church. And just as I suspected, the community churches are ready for this. They want to hear it. They've watched the "televangelism movement" for a long time and they're more than ready for somebody to step up to the plate. Somebody with a story. Somebody with the guts to say ... "hey, there's more to it than what you see on the screen."

My efforts and concentration for the past months have been on final edits of Televenge, to polish it and get it ready for submission. Michael and I have spared no expense, in time or dollars, to do that. It's an investment. It's what I do. It's, (here I go again) my passion. If Televenge doesn't turn out to be a timeless novel for the ages, or a bestseller, or even an HBO special, (grin) it remains a big part of my life and work. Not all writers are the same. We all have different agendas, different goals, and different ideals.

Thank God for that. Thank God for giving each one of us a different "edge."

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Day Away

Yesterday we trekked through Henry County in Virginia, places like the original Homestead of the Reynolds tobacco family, Fairystone Park, and areas in and about the sleepy city of Martinsville. Michael and I write a piece for Piedmont Magazine called Day Tripping. This edition will feature Henry County and it's hot spots.

Well, there's nothing in the Piedmont that's really hot. But that's the allure. That's why folks live there. This pastural land is God's country. There's some industry, furniture making mostly (Bassett and Stanley) but this area of Southwestern Virginia and Northwestern North Carolina holds the Blue Ridge Parkway and (in my opinion) the most picturesque part of the Eastern United States. No doubt about it.

That's why I love this little job. It gets us out for the day, and I get to see parts of the country I love. It's a dreamy time. Of course, stopping at antique stores and out-of-the-way cafes and local restaurants and wineries ... I'm in heaven. But yesterday, the realization I came away with was ... my husband is a damn good photographer. You'll have to pick up a copy of Piedmont Magazine to see yesterday's pictures OR go to and click on slide show. Take a look around his web site. You'll see some amazing work by a very talented man. Of course, I'm a bit prejudiced, but he truly loves what he does, so much so, he charges virtually little for his services. Does this sound like a commercial? Ah, who cares ... I'm proud of him; he's finally getting to follow his own dream. And there's nothing wrong with that.

My point is, as a writer, a photographer, whatever your niche may be ... getting out for the day, exploring new cities and towns even in the counties that surround your own ... it revitalizes you. Gives you new ideas and prospective. Take a day and go away. Just for the day. It's not expensive, you can come home and sleep in your own bed, but explore 50 miles, 100 miles from your home in any direction and take a good look around. You can research before you go, plan your routes, and make educated stops along the way. Or go blind. Have fun. Just get in the car with your sweetheart and take off not knowing where you'll end up. Take a map so you can find your way back. If you've got a good sense of direction, it's a blast!

It's a day away from life, work, troubles. Everybody needs to do it. It's good for the economy. It's good for you.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Agony And The Ecstasy

The past few weeks have been agonizing during the edits of Televenge, my novel. I think I've read it ... a million times or at least it seems like it. Over and over and over ... and yet, damn! I missed that word! I kick myself ... my brain tends to automatically fill in the word "to" when, it really isn't there. That's why at the present time, there are four designated readers, two line editors, and two professional editors now reviewing the book. By "professional" I mean, I pay them for their services because that's what they do, it's their job to edit books.

I chose these people based on their availability, mostly, and their knowledge of the subject. And, because they're damn good at what they do. Even my readers, read voraciously. They know a good book when it comes out and they buy it. But I also have a pastor reading it, for obvious reasons, a young woman in her 20's because I want to see how much she "gets." The rest will no doubt get it.

So far, I've had a brief review from my first editor ... here are some of her comments:
"It is a great story! Riveting, compelling, coherent, well-thought out, flows from chapter to chapter with grace, interesting and well-developed characters and plot ..."

"And I am sooo glad you were so firm about resisting the urge to peek at the end! I could go on and on extolling the virtues of this book! ..."

"I think you've got it totally right! Maybe someday you and I can have a long talk about the why's and how's this is an accurate portrayal ..."

"When I first started reading I admit I was apprehensive about the length ... I expected there to be either lots to cut, or the possibility of dividing it into two or three books. However, once I started reading it was obvious that there was nothing to cut, and no way would I have wanted to wait a year or two for the second or third parts! I did have to take a break between the first section and the second two because of other work issues that came up, but once I started reading the second section, I was totally sucked in. Thus, the compelling nature of the whole."

"... and it's got "screenplay" written all over it!"

"It was very difficult to put down without wanting to read more."

Ah, the ECSTASY of reading your first "review."

Needless, to say ... she had more to say about what needed fixed, but that would give away the plot and so ... I won't tell you what that part ... (grin.)

Now the AGONY ... you get all this feedback on a novel you hope, for the most part, is done ... and now you have to weed through, pick and choose, and rewrite ... yet again. The next person that asks me "why is it taking so long?" ... POW to the moon!

And I'm reading the hard copy myself, for the first time ... and like I said, I'm finding things I don't see on my computer monitor. Why is that, I wonder? The agonizing part is knowing this book has to be as perfect as I can make it before sending it to New York.

But, hopefully, with any luck ... it will be the sweetest piece of ecstasy I have ever created. I can't wait to share it with you. It's my life's work as a writer, a work that will propel me into another realm. (I'm hoping.)

I'm thankful for my readers, line editors, and editors who are going to town with their red pens! I'm grateful for the support of my family and my writing friends ... Every one of them has been instrumental in my stamina to write this manuscript. Who knows how much longer this process will take, but I assure you, when it's published ... there will never have been an ecstasy so sweet.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Sunday

Depending on if you root for da bears or da colts, it's a day of pure football ecstasy in North Carolina. I'm not sure every house in America is preparing for the event like we do. I doubt, however, there'll be a chicken wing to be had within miles of Super Bowl Sunday Houses.

And I wonder how many men have their minds on the preacher this morning while visions of touchdown passes dance in their heads?

We got the beer in the fridge, the snack bowls lined up on the table, the charcoal in the grill for traditional chili dogs ... and the TV has been dusted off. ESPN and INSIDE THE NFL has had their say, the bets are on the table! It's a SUPER DAY! Yippee.

But you know why it's super for me?

I can retreat to my office, read, work, listen to my itunes, and call my mom (who really doesn't know what a Super Bowl is.) It's super Sunday because while the rest of the house is whooping it up, laughing over the commercials, I can tiptoe out once in a while ... catch the score, see a commercial, and retreat back to the office.

Am I a party pooper? Nah. Not on Super Bowl Sunday ... nobody notices. Do I care who wins? Not really. If it were the Panthers, then I'd be sitting my butt in front of the TV a bit more. I wish, sometimes, I were the sports fan some women are ... I like football better than most sports, but I've always been one to find something else better to do with my time. I actually envy those who can sit through a whole game and find every play fascinating. I just don't.

So it's Super Sunday for me from the standpoint that I know my family is going to have a good time, some fun, and enjoy their time together. And I'll peek out there once in while, just to feel somewhat a part of it.

Go Panthers!

Blessings to you and yours.