Monday, August 27, 2007

Parched In The Piedmont

It's hot in the South. We're in the middle of a drought. The relentless heat has cooked our vegetable gardens even before they're picked. Wavy heat rises from every driveway and parking lot. Only weeds grow in the cracks of the parched red dirt.

Last April's unexpected freeze stole our peach crop, this summer's record-breaking heat has made a good tomato hard to find. We live in air conditioning ... there are no salty breezes off the ocean to be felt here in the Piedmont. None. Zip. Nada.

Once in a while we hear about isolated showers in a neighboring county, but our creeks and rivers are either dried up or stagnant. The cows in the pasture across the street barely move. Our grass turned brown a month ago and our flowers wilted and died even before that. You don't dare go outside in your bare feet, the concrete and deck is over 100 degrees. Nobody drives with their car windows down. Humidity is a woman's worst enemy during August here in my neck of the woods. It ruins our hair and zaps our energy levels. Life just runs on even slower speeds in Southern summers. Even our y'aaalls just drag themselves out.

Summer in Greensboro is as brutal as winter in Bangor or Buffalo. Makes me wonder about all the global warming talk. But talk doesn't cool our throats or dry our sweat-soaked backs. I think there's a run on Popsicles at the Food Lion this week. I've learned to appreciate ice in my glass.

The south has come to a standstill, and I think this area just may be the hinges to Hell's back door after all.

Cooler blessings to you and yours ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Multi-tasking? Does anyone really do it well?

During the course of any day, most of us have a lengthy list of "things to do." Besides the normal every day cleaning, laundry, shopping, and one errand after another, what is it that you pile on top? Of course, your "job." And within that, there are multiple projects.

Do we obsess with each item on our lists, (yes, some of us have more than one list) giving each task 100% effort? I doubt it, unless you're horribly anal. Or do we speed through the day, hit and miss, procrastinate, and move on to the next item on our "list," getting just enough done to make us feel better about moving on.

Oh, and let's not even talk about those nasty "pop-ups." Problems, surprises, unexpected calls that all of a sudden get added to the list. Things like, the washer breaks, your car won't start, or your thought your family was coming next week but next week is already here.

Stress levels rise, our moods dip, our health suffers. Life ... just ... isn't ... fun ... anymore.

I guess my question is, what is it that you want to do most?

Some folks thrive on having lots to do. In fact, they get more done if faced with deadlines and rush jobs. Their three children have to be at five places at once, and they smile about it. They find humor in having a hair appointment, doctor appointment, and Junior's little league game all in one day. Their energy levels always seem above the norm and they generally succeed at their goals.

But as we grow older, and the children are raised, our bodies and minds begin to focus more, I believe. We tend to hone in on doing only that which makes us ... happy. And if at all possible, we trade our stress levels, for success levels. Our long lists for shorter ones. Our crazy get-it-all-done-in-one-day lives for a day trip to the beach.

Hopefully, most of us can find levels of happiness as we grow older. I think about the older women and men I see working at McDonald's or as greeters at Wal-Mart. It's one thing if they're working those jobs because they want to meet people, get out of the house, and have fun. But if they work there because they have no choice; they need the extra money to pay medical bills, these folks don't have lists. They're just focusing on getting from one day to the next.

So we count our blessings. Lists aren't so bad.

But it's still nice to be blessed enough to focus on what we really want to do. Not what we have to do. Isn't it?

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Shot In The Arm

Please forgive me for the gaps in days between blog posts. You always take a chance in losing your readers when you do that. But, hopefully, you'll stick with me ... realizing this is crunch time for me. I'm nearing the end of a very long project, as you know if you've been following along for any length of time.

The work is tedious. Probably because, once again, I'm anal to a fault. There are reasons for that, I suppose. Second guessing yourself, over-analyzing, a confidence factor plays into a very big part of my work. Although I've received many wonderful reviews for previous work ... there's still that small voice that nags at the back of my writer's mind ... "Yeah, yeah ... you're just small potatoes. You'll be damn lucky to get an agent. Why are doing this to yourself? Are you nuts????"

The dreadful I'm not good enough monster lurks behind the door to my future. I'm not sure it'll ever go away. Where do we draw the line between just being humble and waa-waa, cry me a river, I'm just a putz that wants to write.

Oh God ... help me, please. So this morning Michael began to read to me a few blurbs, from professionals in the business, and from friends (who are also professionals in the business.) Blurbs I've not taken the time to read in a long, long time. It's always good to give yourself a shot in the arm once in a while. Take a look:

“Pamela King Cable speaks from the soul of a woman who has endured. Emotionally and spiritually bludgeoned by circumstances that promised so much but delivered so little. With unbelievable strength, she picked herself up, packed up her children, her dignity and with her unswerving faith—she made a life for herself. What a survivor! She doesn’t glory in her achievements, nor does she ask for pity. I’m amazed at her natural ability to deliver and share her story and speak from her heart with humor and passion. Hearing Pam speak is an opportunity of a lifetime. There’s none like her.”
Martin Rader
Synergy Executive EnhancementProfessor of Fine Arts - North Carolina School of the Arts, Penn State University, Antioch College, and Harvard University. Former students have successful careers in theatre, film and television. Three have won the prestigious Tony Award and one was recently nominated for an Oscar.

“In a market where speakers deliver mirthless monologues or bend over backwards to impress an audience, Pamela King Cable is a refreshing change of pace. Cable is an authentic speaker who feels her words. Her talks are just that—talks. She creates a world for her audience and ushers them into it—a Southern world of poverty, hardships, lies, love, courage, and the strength of Southern Women everywhere. Cable speaks about what she knows and truth rings in her every word. Listening to Pam speak is like sitting on the front porch stoop, sipping lemonade, and swapping stores with a good friend. I strongly recommend taking advantage of every opportunity to hear her speak.”
Dena Harris
Author - Lessons In Stalking...Adjusting to Life With Cats
Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul
Freelance Magazine Writer

“Pamela King Cable invites her listeners and readers to consider the incredible faith potential that awaits us outside our comfort zones. Pamela is a wonderful storyteller, and yet much more. In a “Southern Fried” woman’s style, she weaves a spiritual cloth that provides us an avenue for growth. After hearing her speak I realized this woman has the power to mend our spirits, strengthen our weaknesses, and restore our hope. Pamela has a special gift to place us in time machine and transport us back to our past so that we may discover our future. It is my delight and pleasure to recommend to everyone the remarkable talent of this fine speaker and storyteller, Pamela King Cable.”
The Reverend Frank D. Stewart
Pastor of Bethany Presbyterian ChurchStatesville, NC


USABOOKNEWS.COM – announces Pamela King Cable, an Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Books 2006 Book Awards –
“A rich collection of stories that explores humanity! Well-written and inspiring!”

“… Pamela King Cable is one of those infrequent writers who can bring reality to fictional characters so strong that you’d swear you had encountered them in your own life’s history. SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN will leave the reader looking forward to more from this accomplished, imaginative, skilled, and entertaining author!”

“Southern Fried Women features a selection of short stories with an extremely strong Southern voice. Author, Pamela King Cable, has a definitive style that is both appealing and a pleasure to read. She created characters that are compelling and skillfully drawn, making the reader want to learn more about them. Cable's voice rings through, without being intrusive or overwhelming. Her characters speak naturally and seem true to their age, setting, time period and personality. The physical volume is very attractively packaged. The front cover photograph is very fun and certain to lure readers into picking up the book. The interior photographs were a lovely added touch as were the short story titles. That said Cable's Southern voice and appealing writing style is sure to appeal to readers. ”

“Cable does a good job of portraying Southern women as strong, determined, and family oriented. Whether a Beach Baby or a Mobile Home Queen, the Southern woman is a survivor.”

“ … this particular book is too good to overlook! The stories are easy to read--compulsively readable, in fact--and they're set in the South, often in North Carolina. And, although the characters in this book face challenges, most of the stories have happy endings, leaving you with a good feeling. Enjoy this collection--and watch for more books by a new author on the Southern literary scene!”

I got to remember all this when I'm ready to throw my computer in the dumpster.

'Nuff said.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Good vs.Great

I took a look at my library this morning. My books come in all sizes. Hardbacks, trades, paperbacks, audio, and yes, a couple e-books. They vary in length, characters, style, and genre. And I think what amazes me most is how some authors can pump out a book every six months. They're like machines. Actually, I don't own many books by those authors. I don't find them filled to overflowing with conflict and resolution that brings me to fits of laughter or buckets of tears. They just don't have that "wow" factor. You know? They may be funny, and good enough to be called a "good read." But how many of those books do you really think about years later? How many of those characters come to mind at the strangest times? Characters that make you want to go back and read the story again. How many books of fluff 'n stuff do you actually recommend when asked?

Not many, I'll bet.

I think the public needs to realize that for most authors ... a great book takes at least a year to write. Usually longer. Because while authors are finishing up their current masterpiece, they're usually under contract and have to spend time on the next one. At least outlining, drawing up larger-than-life characters, working the puzzle that is often ... mind-boggling.

Storytelling is one of the great past times down through the ages. Before the age of TV and radio, families told stories. One of my favorite stories, made into a movie, is Out of Africa. In it there is a scene where Robert Redford asks Meryl Streep to tell a story and she says something like, "At home, my neices always give me the first line." To which he answers something like, "There was a Chinese man named ..." Then good ole' Meryl takes off and for the next few hours makes up this brilliant story that mesmerizes her guests.

Anyway, I certainly don't do the script justice here. But you get the picture ... it's a beautifully told story within a story. Out of Africa is a based-on-fact story of Karen Blixen who wrote her own autobiography. She, as one can easily see from this movie, was a great storyteller, writer, and lady. Fortunately, some stories are made into movies, otherwise the world would not know about them. But that kind of storytelling, when written well, becomes bestseller status. A piece of our history. Beloved and regarded as priceless pieces of literature by some. Books like The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women ... the list is endless.

I wonder, often, how many stories are never written down. There are professional storytellers out there, but they don't like to write. I've met some. But either way, storytelling is an art, and like any fine wine ... to write them down - takes time.

I realize there are such things as "beach reads" and light books that are meant to whisk you away for a sweet story of romance or mystery. They're fine books, in fact, thank God for them. But every once in a while you just want a story you can sink your teeth into. One that will take you out of your skin and deposit you in another place and time. That unless the phone rings or the dog barks, you forget where you are. Now that, my friend, is great reading.

So what's my point? My point is that stories are plentiful. Good stories can be short or long, but enjoyable, and satisfying. Badly written stories can drone on forever, and you feel you've wasted your time. But a great story, no matter the length, short or long, should become a part of you once read. Pick up a new book as soon and you can ... and start reading ... then pass it on.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

House Hunters

Yesterday was my birthday. My best gift was a day off from my book and a full day of house hunting. Michael and I have decided to not to wait to build, but buy an existing house while it's a "buyer's market." It may end up being our "dream" house, and it may not. It may be a transitional house ... one more step closer to what we really want. But whatever it is, it has to have at least 5 acres of land ... minimum. (But not next to trashy, rusty trailers with every car they've owned up on blocks in their front yard. Or high tension wires on the property. Or next to a subdivision.) Just countryside. Beautiful, peaceful, rolling hills, farmland. We may find that perfect piece of heaven for us out there ... and we may just have to tweak it a little to make it "perfect."

At any rate, we spent the day looking with a top notch little realtor. This sweetheart of a young woman, sells 35 houses a year. A real go-getter. From morning to late afternoon we drove around two counties and looked at unique properties. What one house lacked, another had. There was one house that looked tired. The pictures online were deceiving because once you walked in, the floors were laminate and the walls needed paint. It just had a worn out look. And they had four or five dogs barking in the breezeway, so you couldn't even go in there. Get a clue people, take your dogs with you when you leave your house! It makes it so much nicer for the buyer!

Another house was chocked full of collectibles and furniture, so much so you couldn't "see" the house. I just wanted to scream at these people, "Are you crazy? Box this s**t up so you can sell your house!" There was one house we really wanted to see and the seller's realtor was such an ass, to the point of hanging up on my realtor, so we decided to skip it. Who knew realtors could be so nasty? And the last house, we drove a half hour to have the owner refuse to open the gate for us, even though both realtors had set the appointment. Geez, I guess they decided not to sell after all.

Out of everything we saw, there was one possibility. Just one. But it wasn't my "country house." It was a beautiful, maintenance-free brick ranch surrounded by a gorgeous piece of land. And it was "lacking" a few things that could be fixed, but ... I'm not willing to stop looking yet. In a few days, we'll look at the rest that's available that meets the 5-acre minimum criteria.

I hear some folks look at hundreds of houses before they find the one they want. I didn't realize it could be this difficult. My attention for the next few months needs to be on my book, not building a house, thus ... an existing house seemed to be the way to go. But right now, this morning, I'm wondering if I'll find that country house that says ... "you're home, Pam."

I thought I found it a few weeks ago, but it was not to be ... it sold quickly.

So, the house hunting continues. There's no hurry, in fact, I'm willing to wait for the right one. Maybe I should contact HGTV ... think?

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Girl Friday Book Club

I walked up the driveway and peeked inside the back fence. Several women in bathing suits and wet hair smiled and waved me inside ... "Hello!" A beautiful pool surrounded by voluptuous women, they welcomed me. Dripping with hospitality, this warm and inviting Girl Friday Book Club of Greensboro goes back ten years together. A mixture of ages, they have one common bond ... a love of books.

Every month their meetings are held in a different home. This month, it was Edna's turn. Turns out, Edna read Southern Fried Women and fell in love with the story, Coal Dust On My Feet. A fellow coal miner's daughter, she hails from a coal town in Kentucky. "I never could express what it was like to live in that environment," she said. "But you said it beautifully." I was grateful for her comments. In fact, the women just blew me away. Their collected wit and insight into the stories was astounding. They got it. They really did. Everybody understood the messages. And they confirmed a few things for me ...

*They loved the pictures.
*The Forward at the beginning of each story was NOT distracting and unnecessary to these women. In fact, they requested I do this with every book.
*The essay at the back summed it up for them. They loved it and was glad I put it at the back and not the front, allowing them to draw their own conclusions first as to what, exactly, is a Southern Fried Woman.
*The stories brought them to fits of laughter and they cried real tears. What better reward for an author, I say.

Readers comments mean the most to me. Many related similarities in their own lives and expressed the excitement for my next book. The stories of Southern Fried Women resonated with them and in their hearts, and a few were born and raised in the North. I love when that happens. I've always known that SFW is for all women.

After a glass of Sangria and a few hours of fun, I felt as if I'd known these lovely ladies all my life. I wish the Girl Friday Book Club many more hours of literary enjoyment and I hope they invite me back someday.

Professional readers all, these women touched my heart!

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Visions of Sugar Plums

I can't sleep.

If you've followed my blog, you know that I bid on a critique from a literary agent at a silent auction back in June and won it. To me, it was one more opportunity to pitch my work and obtain valuable feedback. A month ago, I had sent her for critique, my query letter, and the first 50 pages of Televenge. I anticipated, "... sounds good ... here's what you need to do to make it better ... interesting work ... thanks for sending it in." But that's not what I got.

The agent called me. Last night. Late. On a Friday. Excited. I wish you could've heard her voice. Professional and knowledgeable in the industry, she couldn't hide her tone of excitement. She had a few great suggestions for the query letter, then proceeded to tell me, "you nailed it!" She said that several times. "I wish I had more to critique for you, but you really nailed it. I liked it. I really did." We talked for an hour and as much as I can remember, these were some of her comments ...

"Easy read ..."
"Clean copy, one of the cleanest I've seen ..."
"Great story, and this hasn't been done! Fresh."
"Drew me in, I'm anxious to keep reading ..."
"Can you send me the manuscript?"

We were on the phone for an hour. We talked about many things, both of us asking lots of questions. Who knows where this will lead? All I know is that this agent was connected and she loved my query and first 50 pages and she wants to read the rest. All from just a critique.

I think I slept three hours last night, and those were questionable. I awoke this morning with one thought running through my head. This is the beginning ... just the beginning. I'm holding my breath. After a few more tweaks, this will all be in God's hands. In the meantime, today, I'm smiling. Because to one literary agent out there, God bless her ... "I nailed it!"

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Professional Reader

Four weeks left. I'm smoldering in Southern Dog Day heat and working like a woman gone mad. But the feeling of euphoria floods in from time-to-time, I'm almost there. Almost to the end. Mixed with a certain amount of panic, I carefully plan my days. There's still a good amount left to do and I've enlisted my best friend, Tina, as my final reader. She is, by far, one of the most read women I know. I would consider her a "professional reader."

We writers are supposed to be voracious in our reading. And though we do read more than the average American, we have to spend a great deal of time in research and in ... writing. And then there's editing, and marketing. The days and weeks all of this consumes can be mind boggling. I've mentioned before that I keep a book or stack of books by the toilet. Hey, reading time is reading time and I find it where I can. Usually, I fall asleep every night with my current book of choice. So, the point is that as much as I love books, I cannot devote the time to reading like a "professional reader" can. And believe me, they're out there.

Tina has literally read thousands of books. Her life is books. She is, no doubt, a writer and publisher's best friend. Her choice in fiction ranges from Sci Fi to Mystery to Mainstream and Literary. Her library is immense. And along with her voracious reading skill comes the knowledge of what moves a story forward, what to take out and what to leave in. What to condense and what doesn't ring true. Overwriting and underwriting. In a nutshell, she knows what will sell and what won't.

Tina used to force herself to finish a book, but not anymore. If within the first few pages a book doesn't grab her and hold her, it's tossed. My friend also makes time to read. It's a part of her life as much as anything she does. She's had a few surgeries in the past year, so reading is a great way to take up recovery time. She also heads a book club for a large group in Ohio. But Tina was my friend long before my career as a writer took off. Our history together goes way back.

Right now, she's going through a lot of anguish. My book evokes many raw and real emotions for her. Televenge, as many of you know, is based on true events. Tina was part of those events and this book is as important to her as it is to me. Getting it right, creating the moment, perfecting the fiction, heightening the suspense that both of us desire to see in our readers, it's crucial to not only the success of the book, but it must ring true in our hearts, as well.

To those of us who do not know about religious cults, are not intimate with ministry, I believe it'll be a great story, one for memory books. It'll stir plenty of controversy and cause a few meltdowns. But this story will hit close to home for many. It's definitely familiar to some. To the thousands throughout the country who have lived within the walls of a cult, it will rip emotions through them like paper through a shredder. Tina is experiencing that right now as she is helps me perfect the fine details in this book. A natural response.

Her final thoughts are the missing link and though she's wiped out emotionally, it's the piece that will complete this massive jigsaw puzzle. The piece that fell off the table when I opened the box. The piece that hid under the rug and I had to empty the room to find. I'm grateful for it.

Of course, in the end, I have to weigh it all out once again. Ponder and make those crucial determinations of what to cut and what to sharpen. A book like this, I've been told, is usually written by the "more seasoned" or "veteran" author. Well, that's just about sums it up. I jumped into an ocean and thought it was a backyard pool. We'll see how well I tread water in just a few weeks. I just know I'm also grateful for my "professional reader." Every writer needs one.

Say a prayer.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 06, 2007

2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards

From the judges' evaluations:

Southern Fried Women

"I love this one! Fun and engaging. I want to take this book to the beach. A great new author!"

"The author is excellent at characterization ... Great cover! ... "

Well, hey, better late than never. I love comments like these, especially from judges for the Benjamin Franklin Awards!

I'll take it!

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Changing With The Process

It's been too long since blogging. I feel like I've fallen off the face of the earth. Other than some down time with family, I've put my life on hold. From just about everything but my work. It's non-stop to the finish line, I barely come up for air. I hope everyone understands. But I can't worry about that. I have to press on. Get through this month. There's so much to do on the book yet.

I keep saying it's an amazing process. I wish I could explain it in detail, but that would take too much time. And probably, this "process" will change with the next book. I feel I've created my own time crunch because I'm trying to make Televenge as perfect as I know how. Trying to evaluate and reread ... create a story that will knock as many as possible to their knees.

I've even backed out of one particular speaking engagement that I was looking forward to. But we couldn't agree on the how the bullet points of my speech should be written, as well as the fact that in my speech on publishing they didn't want me to mention any publishing companies but theirs. Okay, well, I thought about it. Then decided I couldn't do that as there are many publishing companies out there for women to consider. I just couldn't bring myself to jump through their hoops. After speaking at over 150 venues in the past year and half, one less speaking gig won't hurt. Sometimes, you just got to be who you are, not what they want you to be.

I've hired an assistant recently who is working on getting me booked for winter and next spring. Lots of new workshops for women. It's exciting and motivating, and as soon as I come up for air, I'll be back on the road. But this time ... a new book will be in "process."

My life as a writer is changing. I can feel it. I don't mean to lock myself in solitude and concentrate solely on this book, but for me ... a victim of A.D.D., I have to. It's the only way I know to get it done. I wish I the power to add a few more hours to my week ...

Blessings to you and yours.