Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thoughts On Televenge

As I think about the fact that some day in the near future, I'm going to hold a copy of the first book in the Televenge trilogy in my hand, I get jittery. Like I've overdosed on Starbucks. Too many red-eye shots. Although I'm currently working on Southern Fried Faith, I know that my head will soon be wrapped around pushing the PR machine for Televenge to an even broader scope than before.

Do I watch the televangelists on TV today, you ask? You bet I do. As much as I can stand. Some are extremely impressive. I find myself caught up in their message, but more than that, the delivery of their message. These charismatic creatures know how to hold an audience in the palm of their hand for hours. Actors, politicians, professional speakers would do themselves a favor to watch, listen, and learn from these individuals. Preaching is an art. But to speak and not realize you're being preached to, that's powerful!

More often, however, I cannot watch an entire show. No, I'm not under conviction. Man-o-man, I can hear all the evangelical remarks as I write this. For you see, I'm still a believer. I still hold to my faith. For me and my house, God is still on His throne. I'm just very sensitive to organized religion. And for good reasons.

I watch these evangelical, fundamental men and women ... some very professional in their approach, some not ... pull in viewers by the thousands each week. Some of them, wow, give me the willies. But as for the rest, only God knows the intent of their hearts. I don't sit in judgement, I'm not looking for reasons to dislike them. But I've written a book about the dark side of televangelism. It's quite an intriguing subject to me. After having lived in those circles, having benefited from it, and then nearly destroyed by it ... well, writers not only write about what they know but what matters to them.

My book is fiction, however. Often I'm asked, "Are you concerned that you'll upset anybody?" No, not really. Honest hearts will not be phased by the content or the storyline. Naturally, I'm expecting controversy as some may have their feathers disturbed a little. But don't most books with religious themes do that? Religion is the most volatile of topics and writing about it usually upsets somebody, somewhere.

Televenge is a majestic love story, as well. It's a story of family and of great hope. It's well written, and one that I guarantee, you'll never forget. Never. Your emotions will soar and dip. The characters will write their names on the walls of your heart. And I assure you, you'll never look at religion and matters of the spirit the same way again. You'll either begin to ask questions ... or you'll be thankful. Very thankful.

The following quote by Dorothy Allison, from the New York Times Book Review, Sunday, June 28, 1994, put it all into prospective for me the moment I read it.

"Everything I know, everything I put in my fiction, will hurt someone somewhere as surely as it will comfort and enlighten someone else. What then is my responsibility? What am I to restrain? What am I to fear and alter--my own nakedness or the grief of the reader? I want my stories to be so good they are unforgettable; to make my ideas live and my own terrors real for people I will never meet. It is a completely amoral writer's lust. If we begin to agree that some ideas are too dangerous, too bad to invite inside our heads, then we stop the storyteller completely. We silence everyone who would tell us something that might be painful in our vulnerable moments."

How powerful. I concur with Dorothy.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We Made It Through

The trauma is over. So now is as good a time as any to write about it. As you know, my husband had surgery last week. But the whole ordeal for me, was like trudging through one of those nightmares you can't wake up from. You know the kind, where your legs won't run fast enough, or you're in waist-deep mud.

I got the call from my sister-in-law that started with, "He's okay." Naturally, my stomach flipped and my heart sank to my gut. I was in West By-God Virginia, nearing the boarder of Virginia, when I realized Michael had driven himself to the hospital and was facing gallbladder surgery. On top of that, I wasn't feeling well myself. The 700 mile drive then became a test of endurance. By the time I'd made it down the mountains in Virginia, near Fancy Gap, and crossed the border into North Carolina, my back and the nerv down my leg were letting me know, they'd had enough. I've made this trip dozens of times. For me, there's nothing like coming down that mountain, looking off into the distance, and getting a view of Pilot Mountain. Home. An hour and 30 minutes and I'd be home.

But, no. My IBS hit. Or as my best friend, Tina, calls it ... poop disease. Oh yes, we're human, we can say it. Now, if you can imagine ... I'm having a bit of a problem with a disc in my back because I have sat, non-stop, at my desk for years writing books. I'm in pain, but I got to stop and find a bathroom. I can't walk fast, because of the pain. But if you know anything about IBS, you NEED to walk very fast to get to the bathroom. Long story short, I stopped at the nearest McDonald's and shuffled in as fast as I could go. Trying to hurry because I knew I had a short window to get to the hospital in time to see my husband before they whisked him off to surgery. Still, I suffered with that dreaded disease the rest of the way home.

Fast forward. I stop at the house, empty the car into the garage, change my clothes, wash my face, comb my yucky hair and get to the hospital in High Point. Just in time ... to sit and wait. They had Mike scheduled for surgery at 4 pm. At 9 pm, they finally took him.

I wobbled like a feeble old woman (awful) down to the third floor surgical waiting room and tried to find a comfortable couch/chair--anything. I watched three episodes of Deal or No Deal and My Dad is Better than Your Dad. (I'm not a game show person.) I listened to three or four doctors come in to console other families whose loved-ones were under the knife. Then I decided that I needed to rest and tried to find a quiet corner.

Ha. One family with kids sat on the other side of the room. Those little hellions ran around and screamed like a pack of wild wolves. These weren't babies, they were six, seven, eight-year olds. The waiting room was too full and too noisy to even rest my brain, let alone my body. (That's a blog for another day: Why some folks can't make their kids shut up when they're in a hospital, or in church, or in a nice restaurant. Ugh.)

About this time, I realize I've been up since 5 am, driven over 700 miles like I was running moonshine and chased by revenuers, and I'm still not feeling quite chipper. It's getting on toward 11 pm and I'm the last one left in the waiting room. Finally, the doctor comes in to tell me how disgusting and gross Mike's gallbladder was. "Okay, then. Can I see him?"

Thirty minutes later, I trudge back up to the sixth floor, where my husband is resting in his bed, quite comfortably, on some pretty good drugs. I was really hoping to get some of those drugs myself about that time. Anyway, I slid down into the chair beside him and was in too much back pain to even think about going home. I decided to spend the night, in the chair, next to him.

Now if you know anything about being in the hospital, you know the nurses are in and out of your room all night. Checking on one thing, and then another. The room is quiet and dark, and all of a sudden the bright light from the hallway blinds you and your heart starts pounding, Hey! wake up! About the third time that happened, it was around 3 am and I'm really sick. I decide I've got to find my way home to get some real rest or I'm going to collapse and they'll have to move Mike out of his bed and put me in it.

So, I trudge down to the lobby of the hospital. But at 3 am, the front doors are locked. Picture this, my hair is shot in every direction, my eyes are swollen from lack of sleep, I'm holding my hip in pain, I've not had a shower in over 24 hours, and I'm delirious. AND I can't find my way out of the hospital. Finally, a security guard stops me. "Can I help you, Ma'am?"

You bet you can. "I can't find my way out!" I looked like a homeless person who got trapped inside the hospital. I had to explain who I really was. It was not a time to worry about my pride or how I looked. He led me to the emergency room exit, and I thanked him. Okay, now I can go home.


I realize, Michael had driven himself to the hospital and parked in the emergency room parking lot. I had no idea where he parked. The lot was full. It's now 3:30 in the morning, cold as the dickens, dark, and I'm so tired I'm ready to puke. (The car I drove to the hospital was driven home by my step-son earlier that evening so that I could take Mike's car home.)

"Okay, God. I've no idea where Mike's car is parked. You're going to have to show me." And just like that ... I walked right to it, in the middle of the lot.

Finally, finally ... I made it home in time to collapse into my bed at 4 am. The next morning, I called my friend, Tina, and we laughed so hard about the past 24 hour-events, that I thought I would faint. I needed to laugh. It helped me to get out of bed, into a shower, clean clothes and get to the hospital by 2 pm to take my gallbladder-less husband home.

I had awakened from my nightmare. It was over. And so was Mike's. Here it is, over a week later, and we're both feeling much, much better.

We make it through those times of stress, those dark hours when we think we can't walk not one more step! We make it through. It's always good to wake up from a nightmare.

Life goes on.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Time At Easter

It doesn't seem like Easter. Too early in the year, maybe. Except that here in NC, the weather has been pretty perfect. Sunny, blue skies ... warm ... flowering trees and shrubs ... I thank God nearly every day for the mild weather of this state. That may be strange, but after living in a state where the sun seldom makes an appearance between November and May ... I'm truly thankful to live in the South.

And then again, maybe it seems more like Thanksgiving time to me than Easter. I'm thankful the week is over. Michael's gallbladder is long gone, he's on the mend ... finally able to sleep on his side. Surgery is not fun at any age. The doctor removed his drainage tube, and he can drive again. He's lost weight, but other than mild discomfort ... he's going to feel like a new man in a few more days, I think.

This time last week, I was in Ohio. My daughter-in-law-to-be graduated from OSU. Regal in her gray and red gown, the title of Doctor now officially belongs to Annie. A special time for her and Aaron with graduation and a bridal shower all in one weekend. Columbus is not only a major college town, the capitol city of Ohio is full of trendy restaurants, traffic, and tons of people. It's a fun city to visit. But driving home, was anything but fun. When my cell phone rang at right about the WV border, and my sister-in-law explained that my husband was in the emergency room ... let's just say I don't want to live through a trip like that ever again. I'm glad it's over.

It is believed by the Christian world that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. That the tomb could not hold him. For Christians everywhere, that is the difference between our faith and the rest of the world's beliefs. For the majority of religion ... man is in constant search for his God. But in Christianity ... it is God who came searching for us. How beautiful.

So, this Easter, I'm also thankful. Michael and I thank you for your prayers.

It's going to be quite a banner year. The interest in Televenge grows weekly. I'm hoping for representation within the month. So ... keep your prayers coming. It's only a matter of time.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Guest Blogger

“Pam and I met at a women’s networking meeting when she was the guest author. I was fascinated by her storytelling, even though the world she writes about is far away from my Chronicles of the Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King). So image how excited I was to find out that we both wrote about ghosts. Now Pam’s an WV native and I’ve just been in NC 10 years, but I’ll agree that the South seems to be the kind of place where ghosts feel right at home. When Pam was a guest on my Ghost in the Machine podcast, we also discovered that we shared some disillusioning experiences with the dark side of religion that finds its way into both our fictional universes. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you start talking about books—you discover that there are only six degrees of separation between a ghostly visitor to a West Virginia mining town and a vagabond prince with a talent for talking to ghosts!” Gail Martin (

The Summoner, The Blood King … the titles alone strike sparks of wonderment. The world of SciFi was foreign to me until I met Gail. Through our networking meeting, we connected as women with a mutual love of words. I heard her speak at yet another meeting and became more intrigued by her talent to tell a great story. Our podcast, comparing ghosts of her world--one of futuristic universes, and that of mine--an old-timey Southern landscape, proved to me how two totally different writing styles can compliment one another. Who knew? It also proves that even Southern Fried Women appreciate a good ghost story, no matter the genre. She’s an amazing SciFi writer and I loved her book. One more reason why writers should read more than just the kind of stories they write.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


For now, let me say ... it's been a weekend like I hope to never see again. More details in the next blog, but for now, for those who read me ... Michael is finally home and resting comfortably. After emergency gall bladder surgery on Monday night (last night) ... we are on the mend.

This too, shall pass.

More later.

Blessings to everybody at High Point Regional Hospital this night.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Shadow An Agent

I think every writer needs to spend a day, or a week, shadowing a literary agent. We need to have a ring-side seat, get a close look at their hectic world. Watch how they really operate, and see the piles of mail that pour into their offices daily. Listen to them moan about bad writers and applaud their efforts to land a great writer. I'd love to listen to them give advice to their major clients. I'd give my eye teeth to observe their office staff, see who decides what, and sit in on the negotiating process at a major house ... or at least be a fly on the wall. Hear what an agent thinks, watch them hard at work. I try to put myself into their shoes. I really, really do.

But sometimes, it's very frustrating.

The frustration for me in the query process is getting a rejection from an agent's "assistant." Does the literary agent, the person I send my query to, ever read the actual query? My point is, I've spent days researching agents, their book sales, likes, dislikes, their list, everything about the agent ... NOT the assistant. So if only the assistant reads the query, what good did all my effort do to research the agent? Can I really trust the assistant would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the agent would actually say, "... although your project sounds interesting and your writing is strong, we unfortunately do not feel it is right for us at this time ..." Are those the honest-to-God words of the literary agent?

Or are those the words of an overworked assistant with piles of queries on his/her desk?

Please. Somebody tell me that even when I follow the rules, have slaved over every word in my query for weeks, send only what they ask for, that at least the agent reads the query. Not just the assistant. A good assistant to any executive is priceless. I know. Because years ago, I was an Administrative Assistant. But I also know some care more than others.

Now that being said, I did have an assistant say, Ms. _____ would be happy to read Televenge. So, obviously, Ms. ________ saw the actual query letter. And I'm thinking ... well-run office.

In the end, you have to keep the faith, know your product is worth its weight in platinum, and trust that literary agents know what they're doing. Even their assistants. But I'd still love to shadow one for a day.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blogs And Corn Casserole, Yee Haw

My dear friend and colleague, Dena,, says her blog is just her everyday journal. No real theme. Not a HOW-TO blog, or a thoughtful, insightful, MFA-type "writers" blog. (Spare me, please.) Not a rant. It's not a bitch-blog. Nor does Dena flaunt her wealth of knowledge about writing. She writes a funny, humorous, and heart-felt blog about her daily life.

Well. Her ho-hum blog (as she's called it) has become a daily habit for me. I can't start my day without my next installment in The World of Dena. It's like getting hooked on General Hospital. She's quite funny, extremely talented, and her writer's voice is often hysterical. You never know what's coming out of her pretty head next. Coffee and Dena-blog. Kinda like ham and eggs.

My point is ... a blog can be anything you want it to be. It's yours. You decide. That's the beauty of the Internet. So today, in honor of my vegetarian friend, Dena, and my own "homespun" blog, I'm posting my first-ever favorite recipe. Something I've never done before. I love to cook, in fact, I'm from a long line of great cooks. And I mean really, great cooks. Anyway, this one is from my mom. I've not made it for quite a while, but you'll see it's quite "Southern." Truthfully, Paula Deen ain't got nothin' on my mama.


Corn Casserole
(Usually a holiday dish, a Sunday dinner side-dish, or great with a bowl of chili!)
1 Large Onion (Chopped)
1 Stick Butter
2 Large Eggs
1 Can Cream Corn
1 Can Regular Corn (or Mexicorn)
1 Box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
8 oz. Container Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese (optional. grated. eyeball it.)
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Prepare a 9x13 dish with butter

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Sauté onion in butter. Set Aside
Beat eggs; add cream corn and niblets, Salt and Pepper
Mix in Corn Bread mix, add sautéed onions and sour cream
Spread mixture in the dish
Cover with grated cheese. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until set in middle.

Now that's good eatin'. And bloggin'.

Blessings, y'all.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rubbing It In

I woke up to a blizzard this morning. In Cleveland. On the Weather Channel.

(Can anybody hear me laughing?)

I'm so happy I live in sunny, mild North Carolina. Where the birds are singing and the sun is shining and the temp is in the 50s. And my daffodils are in full bloom. Spring has come to the South. Although yesterday reminded me of lake effect weather (it rained all day) North Carolina does not have day after day after day of the stuff. The kind of pea soup weather that can drive you out of your mind. Where you wonder how you ended up on a planet with no sun. Ohio weather.

Ah yes, my daughter (who lives in Columbus) tells me that the sun is over-rated. Well, I suppose when you live in a state that sees very little of the fat, powerful Mr. Sun, you'd say that.

For me, I love the sunshine. Every minute of it. Open the blinds and let the rays pour in ... while I laugh at the thought of my son de-icing planes in Cleveland.

Sorry kids. Your mom loves her mild winter wonderland. You can have your blizzards and zero degree weather. I think I'll go have my coffee on the deck now.


... and blessings on this warm Carolina morning. (hee hee hee hee)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hallowed Halls And Stained-Glass Windows

Monday evening I spoke to the High Point First Presbyterian Church. This time, to both the women and the men. Loving, warm, these folks opened their arms to me a year ago when they asked me to lead their women's retreat. This year they blessed me again with their enthusiasm as they sat on the edge of their seats while I presented Coming Out of the Dark and into the Life of a Writer. Their standing ovation at the end moved me to tears.

And just as I suspected, they wanted to know when Televenge was going to be available. One woman even begged my husband for a copy of the manuscript. Told him she'd pay him for a copy. Of course, we can't do that. But I sure wish agents and editors could see what I see each time I get up to speak. It might be a done deal by now.

So ... we wait. Patiently. Still. It'll happen.

America is made up of churches, just like this one. Have you ever counted how many churches sit in your immediate neighborhood? Someone once told me there were four Baptist churches on corners across from each other down the street from where she lived. On Sunday mornings, do you wonder who attends these little hometown churches? Ever count the number of cars in the parking lot?

Recently, I heard that organized religion is on the down swing. That the youth are drawn to the more charismatic megachurches. This concerns me. Not that I'm a huge fan of organized religion, but I can tell you the honest hearts who sit in the pews of the steepled churches across this country are the fiber that holds the country, and many of its families, together. In my humble opinion. Now you don't have to attend church to be a good person. If you know me, you know I believe that wholeheartedly. But the folks who attend church regularly, many of them have belonged to that specific church all their lives. Or to that denomination. They've raised their children inside those hallowed halls. It's their belief system. It's their social club. It's their support group, and for many, it's their family.

Megachurches offer big thrills. And sure, there are wonderful people who attend these mega places of worship. But megachurches also need mega bucks to operate. And they prey upon your mega heart to give. And give some more. Most of them are televised. And that's a blog for a different day.

My heart is in the little sanctuary, tucked inside small-town America. There are great stories within those ornate doors and stained-glass windows. This fall, I shall reveal a few in Southern Fried Faith. In the meantime, I will continue to speak to the churches I love and their flocks who sit in the pews. Thank you, HP Presbyterian Church. Y'all touched my heart.

I'm no preacher. God knows that and laughs each time I say it, I'm sure. I love to speak to all types of organizations, clubs, and civic groups. But it's when I stand in front of a congregation, I'm thrown back to my roots, and I let loose. I don't have to worry about offending somebody with "religious connotations." I can be who I truly am. Somebody who cut their baby teeth on the back of a church pew.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

In Case You're Wondering

I'm speaking Monday evening at a local Presbyterian Church, a special event. One of the questions that will, no doubt, be asked is, "Is your new book out?" Seems like I'm asked that question every week.

Truth is, the process of getting the right agent and the right publisher is a long one. Unless your cousin's best friend is an agent or an editor at Random House, it's a process that tests every ounce of your patience. But you learn a lot about yourself, believe me.

Even though I had connections to a few agents, those agents are "not taking on new clients" at this time. And, yes, I thought I had an agent, but due to a severe illness in her family, and the fact that she cannot devote the time needed to sell my book because of her family issues, we had a friendly parting.

So, I'm hot on the trail of another one. And I'm encouraged by the response, so far. I'll be sure and keep you posted.

But, I've decided not to let another year go by without publishing a book. I've been working on another book of short stories. Southern Fried Faith will be published sometime this Fall, in time for the Christmas season. A sequel to Southern Fried Women, the stories will be filled with much the same thread of religion and themes of hope, survival, and what really goes on inside a Wednesday night prayer group. Lookout! It will answer the question why Baptists are Baptists in the sanctuary, but turn into Methodists at the beach. Biting edges that keeps you turning the page!

Southern Fried Faith will contain a Christmas story I've been working on since last year. A Thrill of Hope. I'm looking forward to launching Southern Fried Faith this year and all the PR push that goes with it.

So ... just in case you're wondering ... a new book is on it's way. And I do, without a doubt, believe the Televenge trilogy will be sold in 2008 and published sometime in 2009. By then, you can look for me on Larry King, denying his comments about who the televangelist in Televenge really is.

Blessings to you and yours.