Friday, March 30, 2007

Watching Spring Go By

Another spring is floating by, much of it, unobserved. I'm sitting behind my desk, staring out the window, and watching the sun warm the lawn. It brings the pink and purple buds of flux and tulips to life. A robin and a wren fight over a worm at the bottom of the porch. But that's all I see. Just what can be observed from behind my desk.

Michael went to Lowes this morning. Without me. He'll come back with a trunk load of topsoil and flats of whatever flowers look pretty to him. He takes pride in his yard, trimming it to perfection, and coaxing plants and flowers to their maximum potential. I used to do that, too.

Last year, I sat at this same desk overwhelmed with getting Southern Fried Women finished and launched. We did it, though. It's up for two, and shhh (possibly three) national awards. It was my "first child." Now here I sit, once again. Birthing a "second." But this one is different.

The manuscript is long. I spend hours and hours pouring over each page, paragraph and sentence. If one didn't love this kind of work, they'd run from it. I debate over my editor's changes, whether I agree or don't agree. Keep them or leave it in. Or move it to another chapter, possibly. Another rewrite. Another day gone. Squeeze in time for a shower, a meal or two, even a speaking engagement and coffee with friends. At least that gets me out of the house.

The days slide by ... and so does the season. When I'm not in the midst of rewrites, my mind is open to everything around me. I absorb the world like a sponge. But it seems the past two springs I've been holed up in "labor and delivery." Birthing books.

I think I'll get up from my desk today. Tickle some topsoil. Pet a petunia. Hoe a row of marigolds. Who knows, maybe I'll spend the whole damn day outside instead of laboring over Chapter 26.

It's a nice thought, anyway.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Where Do I Go Tomorrow, Honey?

A question I find myself asking a lot these days.

In case you’re wondering about where I might show up next, scroll down on today's blog to view the current list for the rest of the year. Of course, we add to it all the time … and, we’re in the midst of stretching our horizon, going after even larger groups. If you want to see where I’ve been, go to and click on Appearances. You’ll see every gig since 2005. Last week I had lunch with my speaking mentor who was a bit mowed over with this list … she could obviously see … this chick is serious.

On top of these appearances, there’s a publishing seminar and a National Speakers Seminar I’m attending in April, along with other have-to-go places that lend credibility to my writing career. And … to add the cherry on top … I’m fitting every possible moment into finishing Televenge, working closely with editors … churning it into one hell of a good novel. (Yeah, I'm tooting my horn, here ... but there's a lot of sacrifice that's been made, believe me. Sometimes I think there's too much to do!)

Then just when I think the path can’t get any harder to follow … we have a grandbaby due in June!

But, I have no right to complain. Life is good (er, uh … busy) at the Cable Residence!

March 29, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
Graham Rotary

April 4, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
Women's Group
Duckwoods Country Club
Outer Banks, Nags Head/Kitty Hawk, NC

April 10, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
North Durham Rotary

April 11, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
Archdale Rotary

April 17, 2007
Keynote Speaker, Reading, Signing
The Women's Hospital of Greensboro

April 19, 2007
Keynote Speaker, Reading, Signing
Wesley Long Community Hospital

April 21, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
Bluegrass Festival of the Book
Lexington, KY

May 1, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
Southwest Cabarrus Rotary

May 7, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
The Lincoln Cultural Center

May 11, 2007
SGNG Rotary Wine Tasting Fund Raiser

May 20, 2007
Reading, Signing
Trinity Historic Society

June 1, 2007
International Book Expo
New York, NY

June 8,9,10 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
WV Writers’ Summer Conference

September 6, 2007
Guest Speaker, Reading, Signing
E Women Network

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Lure Of Lake Lure

It's not only majestic--it's breathtaking. The mountains surrounding the tiny community of Chimney Rock, NC are a sight to behold. The first mountain range you come to traveling west, away from the Atlantic Ocean ... the locals call these "ocean-front mountains." We stayed at the Lake Lure Inn, and went back in time. To 1927. The Inn is filled to the brim with a collection of antiques worth salivating over. The rooms are small, but clean and beautifully decorated. It's reminiscent of 1927. It's not the Hyatt. It's so much more than that. You can feel time stand still here. I love this Inn.

It’s also the movie-set of Dirty Dancing. I stood on the front porch of "Johnny's Cabin." Oh yes, I could feel the presence of Patrick Swayze dancing around me. Unfortunately, I had to open my eyes and poof the fantasy was gone. We visited Chimney Rock in 2001--the town hasn't changed much in six years. Other than the fact that a company called, Grey Rock is developing some 4,000 acres into gorgeous home sites. I admire them for leaving so much of the land as preserve. They are also the owner of the 2006 HGTV Dream Home. I got a peek!

Talk about views. This house is magnificent and blends into the scenery. Getting an up close and personal look made my day! My new friend, Pat Willingham, Sales Executive for Grey Rock, took Michael and I on a tour of the area, as well. We needed her four-wheel drive vehicle to climb the mountains, but once you get to the top, you realize you’re in the suburbs of Heaven.

The land boom that hit the beach areas years ago is about to hit the mountains in North Carolina. Grey Rock is gearing up for that. The prices are great at the moment, but I doubt it will remain so. There's nothing in the world like your own piece of paradise.

I prefer the mountains to the beach for many reasons. First, you don't have the hurricanes, or the crowding. Houses squeezed together at the beach are not my idea of privacy. Although I love to listen to the lap of the waves rolling in at night, the sounds of the forest are just as soothing to me. I love the mild climate of the Carolina Mountains. And buying land on a mountain means privacy. Any way you look at it. I could go on and on, but my people are mountain people. It's in my blood, so I suppose that's why it appeals to me the most.

It was a relaxing couple of days. I appreciate time away now more than ever. It's a chance to use the excuse ... "I'm on vacation, I'm not checking email."

The lure of Lake Lure is something you need to experience for yourself--at least once in your lifetime.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm Outa Here

I need a breather. A time to dream. To plan and scheme. A few days away ... to the mountains ... to reflect and read. I need to recharge my battery. I'm weary and need to breathe in some fresh air and eat good food. Sparingly. Drink wine. Heavily. Sleep. Hopefully.

I need a skinny-dip into the oasis of time. A few naked moments to look at where this tractor path I'm on is heading. What kind of field I need to plow next.

Off to the mountains for a two-day retreat with my sweetie. Sip lots of fine wine, allow the springtime to do a number on my senses. Walk a few paths, enjoy an Inn, and come back ready to work again.

Ahhh, the beauty of working for yourself. I don't have to ask anybody for a freakin' day off. I don't have to wait for a weekend when the traffic is heavy and the restaurants are crowded.

All I want is quiet time. Alone time. Time away from the grueling pace of these edits.

I'm outa here. See you Saturday.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Storytelling Gene

It takes more to be a writer than sitting your butt down for a few weeks and pounding on the keys. In truth, you can call yourself a writer because you love to write. But in reality, it takes more than giving yourself that title, to be a writer. I’ve been literally at my computer for the past five years, day and night, with few breaks, studying my craft and writing stories. Prior to that, it was ten to fifteen years of writing stories between punching time clocks. Still, sometimes I wonder if I have the right to call myself a writer.

In addition to writing non-stop for the past five years, I’ve been working the publicity machine and watching my book sales and giving two to three speeches a week. But it takes more than all that to call yourself a writer.

It takes more than crafting three-dimensional characters, raising the stakes, and knowing which word to use for the right amount of description. It takes more than that. It takes more than being inspired by people, places, quotes, songs, or poetry. It takes more than being a good editor and knowing the difference between affect and effect and whether you screwed up the syntax in your sentence.

I love the quote by Willa Cather ~ "The talent for writing is largely the talent for living, and it is utterly independent of knowledge."

Still, you enroll in every class, join writing groups, attend dozens of writer's conferences--sorry, it still takes more than that. With lots of practice, anyone can learn the craft of writing. You can read and reread every damn book on writing, all while you underscore and highlight, memorize, apply, and finally … the craft takes hold, sinks in, you have style … you have strong verbs … you have the right amount of ellipses.

And yet, there's something you must have that cannot be learned, in my opinion. It must be born in you. So many writers are born without a storytelling gene.

You have to be a great storyteller. To tell a great story is a talent that not all writers possess. Storytelling is the basic fundamental piece missing in many books we see on the shelves today. Unfortunately, many shallow writers (not shallow in person but in their writing) get published. Even find a small degree of success. Character-driven stories are wonderful, but unless there’s a story, the entire book is flat.

The dictionary says, story is a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader. To what degree does a writer accomplish that? Many books amuse, some provoke a degree of thought, and others have beautiful covers and look nice on our bookshelves. But then, there are some books that move us and keep us awake until we’ve read from cover to cover. In some stories the characters haunt us for days. The plot is so intricately woven, so filled with conflict, you wonder if the writer is telling a story or a truthful series of events. We’re transported. We’re in the story. We see it unfold.

That’s what I want to write. Those kinds of books.

That being said, no writer should ever give up their dream. They must reach for the missing storytelling gene, even if they weren’t blessed with it. Quite possibly that’s how shallow writers found their success. They didn’t give up.

These past five years, I’ve often been asked to critique stories by other writers. Within the first few paragraphs I can tell if the writer has the storytelling gene. They use the English language beautifully. It’s obvious they’ve had formal training. Their command of sentence structure is impressive. But after the first two pages (yawn) I’m ready to quit reading. In my mind I’m saying … try traveling writing. Try nonfiction. Be a journalist, even a food critic. Food critics write great prose! And yet, I can see it in their eyes. They want so desperately to be a storyteller. So I tell them to reach for the missing gene. Join the Storytellers Guild. Work on the story; let your already great characters tell you their story. Allow them to speak to you, don’t force them to do something they wouldn’t do or feel something they don’t feel. Plot it out on paper, raise the stakes, up the ante, make the conflict worse, take Donald Maass’ class, or read his book Writing the Breakout Novel. "That will help you, sweetie. That’s where I'd start."

Some writers have the storytelling gene, and just need to develop it. I read their stories and over time, and wow! They just pop. They improve in leaps and bounds.

And God knows, I don’t have all the answers. I’m sifting through piles of edits of my own work as I sit here. A boatload of edits on my novel from chosen editors kind enough to tell it to me straight. So the lessons continue on my end, as well.

But there’s one thing I’m sure of. I wasn’t meant to write cutesy tales with a funny or a semi-witty heroine that’s only slightly flawed. A character everyone resonates with. A character that finds herself in slight marriage woes, or becomes a part-time sleuth, or has a dreamy epiphany the beach. A character in mid-life crisis and all the familiar problems that accompany that. I wasn’t meant to write cheesy romances or cozy mysteries. Although I like those kinds of stories, (once in a while) it’s not what I write.

I don’t write beach reads. Some of those light stories have me skimming to the end. I want some meat. Give me story. Something to sink my teeth into. Give me … Gabaldon, Kingsolver, and Oates. Give me writers with storytelling genes. And then on top of telling me a great story, give me a message.

Ahhh … now that’s what I want to write.

Forgive me for those misplaced commas, my misuse of a verb, or if my apostrophe is in the wrong place. Let me show you my storytelling gene.

Unfortunately, publishers don't see it that way. They want the whole package. So today I shove aside my storytelling gene, do a search on words that end in ly, and take them out.

Blessings to you and your storytelling gene.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Writer's Hangover

I'm a temporary morning person. It's 4 a.m. and I can't sleep. Maybe ... it was all the food and drinks at last night's St. Patty’s Day party. With an invitation from our friends, Carol and Dave who own a beautiful home on the lake, we arrived ready to par-tay. Everyone in green, but me, the house was decorated with green streamers, balloons, and little green men around every corner and on the super long food table. This house could've been sitting in the middle of County Cork, Ireland ... it was just that festive.

Filled to overflowing with guests, the food rocked! Corn beef, ham, and all the trimmings. And then ... there was the toddy. The apple toddy. Carol's grandmother's recipe that was handed down to her from the very early days of this country. A mixture of apples and spices and a couple bottles of whisky poured on top, then left to ferment in a large pottery jar, strained and heated. Smooth and wonderful. No wonder our forefathers survived the 1700 winters.

Irish beer and wine, a cake made with Guinness, and four-leaf clover cupcakes ... my friend, Carol ... damn, she knows how to throw a party. Amazing. Of course, all eyes were glued to the TV as the UNC Tar heels rolled over Michigan at the last few moments of the game. New people to meet, new faces, great fun, fabulous food ...

... and a middle of the night hangover.

Ahhh, what a life. The first one in a long, long, long time. No toilet hugging, just a slight headache and stomach gurgles. Time for lots of water and meds.

It somehow feels better sitting here in the middle of night plucking away at they keyboard. I wonder if Hemmingway would agree that writing is a good medicine for a hangover?

Then again, maybe George Washington or Thomas Jefferson would know a cure-all for too much toddy.

Who cares ... it was one of the best parties we've been to in a long time. Since New Year's Eve, actually. My writer friends love parties and having fun. Writing does lend itself to needing a release once in a while. Just as long as I don't see any little green men in the next few hours ... I'll be okay.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Perfect Timing

I spoke to a Rotary on Monday. Not receiving the response I usually get, it surprised me, somewhat. An older group, and maybe that had something to do with it. Some of the members were warm and friendly, but the group as a whole didn't have the open arms I've experienced in other Rotary Clubs. Maybe, just like people, the group was having an off day. The President showed up an hour late, the Vice President never showed at all. Or maybe it was me. Maybe I was having an off day.

Then last night I was the Keynote Speaker for a graduation banquet–a fabulous group—Randleman Leadership Development Program. After a delicious meal by The Wild Onion catering--all Mike and wanted to do was sleep. What a feast. Not the typical buffet food of most catering companies. This was real Southern cooking and we found out she's got a restaurant in Randleman! The response to my speech overflowed with warmth. And I received the nicest gift ever for speaking ... pottery! This area is known for its beautiful pottery. All in all, these folks embraced me and what I had to say, bought a lot of books, and I went away with a great inner feeling. I did my best. They liked the presentation. All was well in the world.

Lastly, I received some edits back on my novel. Sigh. There's still a lot of work to be done. I'm not afraid of the work. But some of the comments bothered me a great deal. So I slept on it. Lo and behold, I get up this morning to the following email:

Hi Pam, I just finished the last story in your book. (Southern Fried Women) I'm not apologizing for taking so long to read it. It's not the kind of book one reads all at once. I took my time and savored each story. "Coal Dust on my Feet" left me in awe of your writing talent. It was a magnificent story, excellently written. You will go far in your writing career and I'm so glad I've gotten to know you. Helen

Helen Goodman is the past President of our Sisters in Crime Chapter. I wrote back:

Thank you, Helen. Your email came at the perfect time. A much needed moment. I'm working on my novel and it's grueling. At times, as a writer I wonder what the heck am I doing? Then the good Lord knows when I need something like this and He sends it to me in the voice of a friend. Like you. Thanks again, Helen. It was perfect timing. God Bless, Pam

After I finished the email, I looked down and the two quotes on the front of the program for the graduation banquet stared me in the face. I had laid it my desk last night without reading them.

”Great achievements are not born from a single vision but from the combination of many distinctive viewpoints. Diversity challenges assumptions, opens minds and unlocks our potential to solve any problem we may face.”

“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise; risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”

I’m not sure who wrote these, as the program doesn’t give the author. The Randleman Leadership Development Program applied those quotes to leadership.

This morning, I applied them to writing my novel. But nevertheless, Helen's email, the quotes ... it was all perfect timing.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Prettiest Thing About My Legs Is My Ankle Bracelet


My husband, God love him, has the best looking legs I've ever seen on a man. He's six foot two with runner's legs. Though he doesn't run much these days, his calves are amazingly shaped, nice feet (for a guy) and not an ounce of fat anywhere on those long, long appendages. Just fabulous looking legs. It's no wonder the man wears walking shorts ten months out of the year.

Me? Capris are as high as I go. The ole' Daisy Dukes bit the dust back when Daisy was a baby. Maybe before then. I own no less than a dozen pair of black pants and capris. Cute, but black. And we'll not even mention the size.

My legs are not my best feature. I know this. It doesn't make me a bad person. I just have to find my good points and "highlight" them. Then hide the rest the best I can by throwing on black. Or some other dark color that minimizes the mile-wide backside I was born with. I think when God said, "You want legs?" I thought He said eggs, and I said, "Not today, thanks." I missed that one.

Some folks were born with ugly ears. Some women have funny shaped noses and fingernails that resemble round m&m's when painted. Other people's eyes disappear as they age and their hair clings to their head. Awful. But on the flip side these same people have little fat on their butt's and hips, their skin is flawless, and they have fabulous-looking legs!

It's like that with talent, isn't it? You may suck at writing poetry, but I could read your short stories all day and all night. You may excel at storytelling, but I'm not sure you'd make it as a journalist. See what I mean? Not everyone has the entire package. We have mixtures of good and ... not-so-good within our makeup as a human. On the inside and the outside. What we must do is be tolerent, considerate, and allow children to find their own talents without pushing them into one they simply ... don't have. That goes with some adults, as well. Because some folks are still chasing their talent. Some folks spend their whole lives thinking they have the "talent for writing poetry." When in fact, they're great travel writers, could write a killer memoir, even write for magazines, but they suck at poetry. But ... they don't give up. And sometimes, they develop their talent. Through hard work and perseverance.

And yet ... if one sucks at writing fiction, yet the heart's desire is to write novels, should one continue to think one's prose was meant to wear walking shorts or should one really cover it with black pants?

I suppose our readers/agents/editors will let us know in the end. And yet, if one is a true writer, you just look down at your ankle bracelet and admire how pretty your legs are.

You never give up.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Favorite Quotes

For me, as a writer, these top my list ...

“You are an extraordinary woman,
how can you expect to live an ordinary life.”
– Louisa May Alcott

“When you realize who you are, you understand that nothing
can stop you from becoming that person.”
– Christine Lincoln

“The question isn’t who is going to let me;
it’s who is going to stop me.”
– Ayn Rand

“I know for sure that I created this happiness by choice.
And I know it’s really not just one choice that matters,
it’s all the baby choices that will lead you to the ultimate moment,
when you can make the strongest stand
and commitment to yourself
and the life that’s calling your name.”
– Oprah Winfrey

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experiences of trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired
and success achieved.”
– Helen Keller

“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 seems 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 possibility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear.”
– Harlan Ellison
Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, March 09, 2007

You've Got To Kiss A Lot Of Frogs

You know that old saying, "You've got to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince?" I'm applying it today ... to my speaking career. I think it's all about paying your dues, finding your place in the scheme of a speaker's world, balancing your platform-building with your writing. It's been quite an eye-opener for me this year. And a lot of hard, hard work.

I've basically accepted every invitation that has come my way, with exception of a completely booked day. I have not turned down even ONE organization that has called and asked me to speak at their event. Most, or the majority, have been truly pleasant, rewarding, fulfilling, and enlightening experiences. All over the South. Some more than others. Most folks I've met, I would love to see again and again. Warm and wonderful. Then there are some, you learn lessons that everything that glitters ... ain't gold.

I try to utilize my time well ... one thing that has worked for me is the open mic night where you can perform and get instant reaction to your readings. It's a working event for me and I enjoy hearing what others are writing, as well. Mike and I drove all the way to Charlotte this past Monday to what we thought would be an open mic. At least it was advertised that way. We were the first to arrive at the Joseph Beth Bookstore in a swanky part of town. The room where the event was to be held was dark. So we sat and drank coffee until somebody else arrived. Soon the room was full of aspiring writers. I love to talk to writers and encourage them in any way I can, because they in turn, encourage me. But this wasn't possible, as the room wasn't set up and everybody scrambled just to put their chairs in some kind of order for the evening. At first, everybody got an opportunity to introduce themselves and the type of writing they do ... I was anxious to hear some of them read.

Then I realized, that wasn't going to happen. A NC children's book agent was there. I knew she was going to be there, but I thought she came to hear everybody else read and talk to authors before, during a break, and afterward. Instead, she and her husband talked to the group the entire time. Interesting stuff, but not what I came to hear. I wish it would've been stated there will be no readings tonight. There was no structure, no order and they prided themselves on that. They need to go to the Winston-Salem Writer's Night Out and watch Jennifer and Al in action. There has to be structure and order. Otherwise, it doesn't work. Charlotte, a good hour and half away, was a waste of my time.

Wednesday night, on the other hand, was fabulous. I was asked to teach a class on VOICE and Point of View. Two of my favorite subjects. I found out a few weeks ago that Carol Kenny, another fabulous writer friend of mine, would be on this panel with me. The room at the Winston-Salem library was full of hungry writers, the response was great. Winston-Salem Writers is an extremely active group that supports each other like no other writer group I've been involved in. And as you know, I've been part of many. Carol and I were able to get our "points of view" across, I believe. A great night for writing and speaking.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent lunch with my Divas. The Shundi Divas. Five female writing friends ... totally different ages and backgrounds ... that have come together and found an unbelievable energy together. It's almost a palpable, tangible thing. The sparks that ignite the room when we're in it! Every six weeks. A have-to-be-there event.

My point is ... I'm learning what to avoid and what to cultivate. I'm going to be consulting with a few professionals in the speaking business and take my speaking to a higher level in the very near future. I know it's part of who I am and what I'm supposed to do. The writing and speaking, I've found, go hand in hand for me ... and essentially ... I'm self-taught. In just about every area of my life. Nobody taught Mahalia Jackson, Barbara Streisand, or Diana Ross how to sing. Sure, they may have taken a few voice lessons, but they had the innate talent to begin with. They knew it. They ran with it. They paid their dues. I can only hope that the last several years of working and sitting in one class and conference after another has been preparation for where I'm heading.

Just where that is ... only God knows. What I know is ... I've been kissing some frogs along the way.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Meaning Of Courage

Yesterday, I sold and signed Southern Fried Women as a guest speaker (one of the headliners) at the Healthy Living Expo located in the MC Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem. An event sponsored by the Winston-Salem Journal, the place was packed by 9 a.m. Well run, this event had folks lined up at booths all up and down the massive auditorium getting their blood pressure checked, tasting free food samples, and discussing their health with one expert after another. My contact with the Winston-Salem Journal, Cheryl Nelson, was top-notch. She was on top of it all and made the event pleasant and easy for the speakers. What a cool head.

I was there ... as a draw. (They said.) And ... I think I drew a nice sized crowed ... at least a few of the folks admitted they came to hear me speak and get a signed copy of the book. (Certainly not as big as draw as ABC's Biggest Losers, who appeared on stage after me.) But, it made me feel good, at least, to see folks gather in the seats to hear me speak. My humorous feel-good speech reminded a few that there's medicine in laughter. I was introduced by a "celebrity" from WFMY who was totally in love with herself and didn't give a rat's behind about giving me a halfway decent introduction. Of course, she'd tell you she wasn't "aware" she was supposed to introduce me. It seems to me if this chick does this kind of stuff for a living, you'd think she'd know how to pick something up at the last minute and run with it. I was totally embarrassed by her. I would've rather had no introduction at all. Okay, enough. I guess I've got this radar for hoity-toity. Sometimes I wish I could turn it off.

Anyway, TV cameras recorded the event and I spoke to a crowd of 70 seated or so, as the rest of the crowd milled up and down the isles. It's extremely difficult to speak to a group like that. It reminded me of The Southern Women's Shows. You don't have a totally captive audience, but I loved the response afterward. Folks lined up for the book. Who knew?

I often wish all I had to do was sit and write. That's what I love to do most. But I know God has given me the gift of speech, and I do know how to do it effectively. So two to three times a week, I'm out there, delivering my soul to the public. Sometimes you feel the love. And sometimes, you don't. But folks are generally kind and that means a lot as you walk in uncharted territory.

I've heard it said (somewhere) that ... to write is a revolutionary act. The nerve to document and publish your views is the meaning of COURAGE. But I think there's something missing in that statement. Although I wholeheartedly agree with it, the missing piece is ... the nerve to document and publish your views is the meaning of COURAGE, and to include yourself as a speaker is beyond courage, it's reckless audacity to put yourself in the line of fire.

Through this entire process, I have danced to the beat of my own music. At the risk of sounding corny, it's a fire in me that I ... simply can't put out. Where this innate drive comes from, sometimes I wish I knew. But when I get in front of people, I feel at home. Always a little nervous, but I feel it's where I'm supposed to be. Talking about my writing. I still wish all I had to do was sit at home and write ... but that's the easy way out for me. I've never taken that road. Something or somebody won't let me.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Good News!


ForeWord Magazine is pleased to announce SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN as a finalist in the eighth annual Book of the Year Awards. This book represents some of the best work coming from today's independent press community.

Nearly 1,400 books were entered in 59 categories. A panel of librarians and booksellers, selected from our readership, will determine the winners. ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was designed specifically for them to share in the process of discovering distinctive books across a number of genres with judgments based on their own authority in each category and on their patron/customer interests.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor's Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America at the Javits Center in New York City, June 1st from 2:30pm at LIVE@ Second Stage located on the main show floor. The winners of the two Editor's Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each. Please visit our Web site at to view the complete list of finalists.

Whitney Hallberg
Book of the Year Awards Coordinator
ForeWord Magazine

Friday, March 02, 2007

Contrasting Comments

Yesterday, I spoke to the Kernersville Library Book Club. A group of over 20 men and women gathered on the lower level of the library to listen to yours truly talk about Southern Fried Women, living in the South, Southern accents, writing fiction, and just about the life of a writer in general. These lovely individuals not only bought my book, they added to the presentation with their own stories of home and having their accents noticed by "Northerners."

The best part of that event was walking across the street with a few of the members for lunch. We stood in line to order our food and the sweet waitress taking the orders at the cash register happened to notice one of the ladies from the book club holding a copy of Southern Fried Women. Of course, not knowing the author was standing only a few feet away; the waitress looked at the book and said to the lady, "Have you read that book?" The book club member chuckled, glanced at me, then said, "No, not yet." She paused then asked, "Did you?"

"Yes," said the waitress.

"Did you like it?" asked the book club member.

Drum roll, please. The waitress said, "No, I didn't like it."

You could've heard an ant fart in the room. All the book club members turned their heads and stared at me. It was an awkward moment, but only for a moment. Immediately, I thought to myself ... You know, Pam, every writer must face this at some point. Go for it.

So I smiled and said, "Please, tell me, what didn't you like about it?"

The waitress turned fifteen shades of red and asked, "Oh my God, are you the author?"

I nodded. She nearly fainted. After she seemingly picked herself up off the floor, she smiled wide. "I'm so sorry ... I didn't know ..."

I stopped her in mid sentence ... "Hey, it's okay. Not everybody likes everything a writer writes."

BUT THEN she said ... "Well, I'll tell you, I was expecting the sweet potato queen stuff, and it really wasn't."

And I said, "You're exactly right. You will be disapointed if you expect Southern fluff. I love Southern fluff, and I have all those books. They're funny, light, and are great reads. But some folk are thrown by the title, Southern Fried Women. That's why I added the essay in the back of the book, What Is A Southern Fried Woman. This is not even remotely like the Sweet Potato Queens or the Ya Ya Sisterhood books. There's a very defined edge in the stories I write. They have a dark edge, a message ... along with a spiritual and a religious edge."

By this time everyone was listening. But the conversation stayed light and fun and this very nice waitress nearly tripped all over herself to explain her view in a kind way. I appreciated that and I don't think any of the book club members felt awkward afterward because we all had a great lunch together and talked about the perils of writing and how this is one of them. You never know when you're going to meet opposition. Someone who just doesn't like your work. It's going to hit us all.

After lunch, I stopped at the counter and laid my hand on the waitress' arm and said, "I'm going to bring you a copy of my new book when it's published!"

To which she replied, "OH! Please do! You know I have to tell you, now that I think about it; I really couldn't put your book down! So I guess it really was a page-turner."

I laughed. I will remember her and take her a book. She was young and quite possibly, I won over a fan to the "dark side of Southern fiction." But who knows, really. At least she was sweet about it. She was a true "sweet potato queen" and there's not a damn thing wrong with that.

Then, yesterday evening I spoke to the Mt. Airy Lady Lions Club. An hour and a half drive in pouring rain and wind. Whew. (Note to writers - you show up no matter the weather.) We met the Lady Lions at Libby Hill in a private room for dinner and their meeting. Claudia Bryant, a beautiful woman, introduced me and I have to say she reminded me of a woman who could enter the Senior Miss America and win. Truly lovely.

Despite the weather, the long table was full of Lady Lions. Michael and I sat across from two women who had been friends since high school. I wish I could've recorded their conversation. Having graduated in 1962, these two wonderful women had me in stitches talking about their lives, their children, and their dress sizes over the years.

I spoke and sold books, but the comment that rings in my head this morning made me realize just how different opinions can be. My audience for this particular book (Southern Fried Women) is truly men and women over 40.

A dear lady at the end of the table raised her hand at the end of a bout of Q&A and said, "I have to say, Sheree gave me your book to read a while back and I couldn't put it down. I could've sworn you wrote about people I knew. I loved it. It was one of the best books I've read."

It was the perfect way to end the day.

Blessings to you and yours.