Monday, December 31, 2012

Oskar Blues, Keowee Valley in the News, Readers’ Awards, and I’m Off to Puerto Rico!

I hope you all have a had a wonderful holiday season so far, and are relaxing (I hope) today by watching football and lounging by a warm fire!

New Year's again ...

In my town, friends are gearing up for the big Oskar Blues New Year's Eve Grand Opening Hootenanny. Oskar Blues is a Colorado brewery that moved into our little, N.C. mountain town just recently. The owner loves mountain biking in our forests, and decided to branch out here. This year, Oskar Blues paid for all the Christmas lights in town! And tonight, they're throwing a huge bash--complete with beer and local bands--out at the warehouse.

Sadly, my husband and I are not attending. This is for two reasons: 1) I am 21 weeks pregnant, and while normally this is an event I'd be totally into, being around loud music--even good music--and folks imbibing when I can't just doesn't sound fun. It also has nothing to do with the fact that, these days, I'm asleep by 9:30 p.m. And: 2) Our team, the Clemson Tigers, plays LSU tonight in the Peach Bowl. And we've got to watch our Tigers.

Keowee Valley in the news ...

Other than this, some fun stuff has happened lately for Keowee Valley. On Dec. 22, this article was posted in The Greenville News, citing Keowee Valley as a great local read. This is my hometown newspaper--the place where, actually, I earned my first dime writing as a freelance reporter--and I'm thrilled.

Check it out: "Buying local: Upstate authors have the write stuff" by staff writer Wanda Owings

Next, two different book reviewers/bloggers have listed Keowee Valley as one of their Top Reads for 2012:

Goodreads Librarian, blogger and book reviewer Jill listed Keowee Valley in "My Best/Favorite Romance Novels of 2012." It won in two categories: Best Romantic Historical Fiction and Best Debut!

Blogger/reviewer Michelle Griep also lauded Keowee Valley as her 2012's Best Books Silver Winner, over at her blog "Writer Off the Leash."

I'm just thrilled! A huge thanks to Wanda, Jill and Michelle for taking so much time and consideration with my novel.

South to Puerto Rico ...

As some of you know, I'm currently a student in the MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. We begin each semester with a residency on-campus. Tomorrow, in lieu of the traditional Vermont residency, I am headed--big pregnant belly and all--down to sunny Puerto Rico, with 17 students, faculty, and coordinators. I'd signed on for the study abroad residency before I ever knew I'd be pregnant, and with my doctor's approval, here I go!

I'm getting more excited by the hour about this trip: We're starting out in Old San Juan, where we'll stay in apartments, go on walking tours of the city's historic and cultural sites, and commune with fellow writers and friends. Most importantly, we get to meet, talk with, and learn from some of Puerto Rico's most lauded modern writers. Next, we head to the El Yunque National Forest, a gorgeously biodiverse rainforest, where we stay in an ecolodge.

I am a travel junkie, and so all this is right (or should I say, "write") up my alley! I promise to report back.

May the New Year bring us all blessings, peace and prosperity!

See you in 2013!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post-Santa Edge

Hi, all.

Hope you had a lovely and happy Christmas holiday! (Or a happy celebration of whatever you celebrate!)

I just posted over on my author website about an article a writer-friend just had published in, called "I was bad Santa." Check it out when you get a chance.

Parental Guidance suggested.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Living the Creative Life

A while back, my new friend, the author Ann Hite (Ghost on Black Mountain) asked me to write a guest post for her blog, “Living the Creative Life.”

Ann is fabulous, and her blog is all about creativity–so, of course, I was thrilled to take part. My post is up now and will run through New Year’s. Check it out here.

I may or may not have a chance to write again here before Christmas. If not, I hope that you all have a holiday filled with happiness, peace, and Light.

Merry, Merry and Happy, Happy all around!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Wish

Recently my publisher asked me to write a guest post for their blog. It’s up today, and it’s called “A Christmas Wish.” I’m reposting here for those interested.
This was a tough blog post to write. I’ve known for a while that the deadline was coming up, but honestly, had the worst time writing it. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I have felt like nothing I say holds significance. How, I asked myself, can I write about Christmas, when my heart feels like a leaden balloon in my chest? The pain that those parents and loved ones are suffering–and will continue to suffer–is unimaginable. I’ve thought of not much else these past days but fervent hope for their peace and ease.

My friend, the writer Kimberly Brock, and I talked about this. She, too, was asked to do a guest post earlier this week. Both of us had an admittably hard time writing. Hers is here; I think she does a great job addressing the mystery that surrounds this time of year.
But if there’s a time of year meant for hope, a time meant for magic and for the promise of Light, it’s this season.

So here’s my post. It’s nothing special, just childhood memories and a wish. I hope you enjoy it.
A Christmas Wish

Christmas magic.

It’s something—a feeling, a spirit, a hope—that I’ve searched for, and inevitably found, every December since I was a child.
When I was very young, my parents made the magic. They filled our house with Christmas cheer: Johnny Mathis, John Denver and Bing Crosby on the record player and then the stereo; a house festooned with garland, candles and poinsettias; the everyday china exchanged for plates and mugs and bowls of Cuthbertson Christmas china; the lighting of the Advent calendar; the mistletoe hanging from the light fixture in the foyer; and the enormous Virginia pine Christmas tree. Today, that tree is a Fraser Fir, but it’s still brilliantly lit with bubble lights and adorned with mine and my sister’s hand-made ornaments, along with a precious few that have been in my father’s family since the turn of the century. It stands next to an enormous real-wood fireplace, red, crocheted stockings hung at the fat wooden mantel, just waiting for Santa Claus. To this day, my sister’s and my stockings are stretched inches longer than any of the others from years of being stuffed to the brim with goodies.

On Christmas Eve we’d head to church for the United Methodist celebration of the Moravian Love Feast. We’d sing Christmas carols, convene with friends, and hold our candles aloft as the entire sanctuary sang “Silent Night.” I loved standing on the pew bench with my family, holding my candle high and watching the glow on the faces around me. After, we’d head home for Christmas Eve supper with my aunt’s family and our best family friends: a tradition we still keep to this day. That very night, Santa would call the house, and all the kids would line up to hear just where his sleigh was at that very moment (usually over the Atlantic Ocean, Rudolph lighting the way through the fog).
Sheer magic.

Now, as an adult with a writing and teaching career, a family (including a husband, a dog, a three year-old daughter and a baby on the way), it takes a concerted effort to create that Christmas magic. I have to look for it—to make it happen, because I want my daughter to grow up as I was so lucky to: feeling that every day of December holds promise and magic.
I want her to be able—as I did as a child, a teenager, and still do—to stand outside in the dark of a cold Christmas Eve, and to look up at that mysterious sky with wonder and hope. I want her to feel in her bones a peace like no other. That is my most fervent Christmas wish, this year of all years. I wish it for all of us—for the community of Newtown, Connecticut, for all the world, for my family and for yours.

Tonight and every night, may we sleep in heavenly peace.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Prayer for Newtown

Writers are often called upon to be the mouthpieces, and the memory-holders, of a nation. We're looked upon to say the things that others think but cannot express in the ways they'd like. As these days have passed since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I find that I lack the vocabulary for such a loss. Words simply fail me.

I, and my entire family, wing out our thoughts and prayers to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Our prayers join the millions, of that I am sure. May the air grow heavy with these prayers; may it thrum with the wings of angels. And may God help us all.

* The United Way of Western Connecticut has set up the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to aid those families affected by the shooting. To help, go to

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FREE Books for Christmas

Author Genevieve Graham
Historical author Genevieve Graham (Under the Same Sky and Sound of the Heart) is running a book giveaway on her blog all month long called FREE Books for Christmas.
Today, she’s offering a free copy of Keowee Valley to a lucky winner!

I met Genevieve when she requested a copy of my novel to review for the blog “Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers.” And I was surprised to find that her novels, which I love, are also partially set in the Keowee River Valley!
Check it out: There are so many good books to be had!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Author Ann Hite on Blog Talk Radio

Check out this fantastic interview on Blog Talk Radio with Ann Hite, the author of Ghost on Black Mountain.

I’d heard all about Ann’s book before I met her recently at the Dahlonega Literary Festival. Ghost on Black Mountain is set in nearby Black Mountain, North Carolina, and involves family, mystery, murder, ghosts and memory all at once, so of course I was intrigued—but meeting Ann was the icing on the cake. She’s friendly, funny, smart and generous. And her writing keeps me up at night… in a good way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Joining the 21st Century ... via Cell Phone?

I have officially joined the 21st century, courtesy of my husband.
I, bemoaner of change, abhorer of text messaging and sitting at breakfast-lunch-supper with loved ones unable to separate from their phones, am now the proud (cough) owner of an iPhone4.

This is it. It’s pretty. I’m not sure what it does.

According to my husband, this little gadget will open up a world of possibilities for me. I can apparently check my email on it, respond to text messages, guage the weather, and share photos.

Oh, you’ve already heard of it? Interesting….
Really, it’s my husband’s dastardly plan to get me to actually answer the phone.

Here’s my old phone. I had it for 7 years. Apparently, you’re supposed to update these things.
But I cannot tell a lie: I’m not sad to see it go. It may surprise you (but not my family members or friends) to know that I am not a phone person. I didn’t buy one in the first place until 2002, when I started grad school and moved to the coast, and my father insisted I needed one for all the time I spent on the highway.

My phone, I tend to forget for days. It ends up in the glove compartment, the net pocket of the stroller, in the mini-pocket of my Camelback. Then people usually call my husband to find out whether I’m still alive. And when I finally find the thing, and charge it back into being, it’s usually loaded with messages. Oops.
So … texting. I’m going to try it. I think it’ll make me a better friend. At least one who keeps in touch.

But I’ll be gosh-darned if I’m writing in lowercase letters!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Amazon's The Big Deal (and other news)

Ziegler Tree Farm, Pisgah National Forest

Hi, all! Happy December!
This weekend my family went to the woods (literally) to cut down our Christmas tree. Then we took part in The Twilight Festival, my favorite of Brevard, North Carolina’s many celebrations. There was an ice luge, local hot cider, sleigh rides through town, and the annual Christmas parade. A good time was most definitely had by all.

In book news…
Keowee Valley has been selected as part of Amazon’s “The Big Deal” program, which offers the Kindle version of select titles at a major discount.

From December 2 – 22, Keowee Valley will be available for only $1.99! I’m thrilled to be part of this program, and I hope you’ll help me by passing the word to your friends and family!

In Brevard, we’re kicking off the season right with a local party to celebrate the release of my first novel. If you’re local or visiting the area, do come by Highland Books on Thursday, December 6 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. There’ll be books and other fantastic items for sale–Highland Books has a wonderful selection of fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, and fair trade items like jewelry and crafts. Perfect for Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dining With Authors - A Literacy Benefit

Really excited to be headed to Greenville, South Carolina tonight for Dining With Authors!

This is a benefit hosted by Ready 4 Reading. Proceeds will promote literacy efforts with children ages birth through 4 years old, in underserved communities in the South Carolina Upstate. I’m just delighted to take part.

Other local authors will include Ellen Bache, Brittany Brackett, J. Brodie Bricker, Holly Durst, Melinda Long, Deb Richardson Moore, Shirley Twiss and many others. Guests will rotate through our tables and get a chance to meet and talk with all of us, all the while enjoying an auction, beer and wine, and good food. Fun!

Also, a perfect place to find Christmas gifts, including for the kids (many of these folks are childrens’ authors).

For more information, go here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing: What I'm Working on Now

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been immersed in teaching my college students, turning in my last graduate packet of the semester (to an advisor I adore but soon have to give up), emerging from the (God willing) last hellacious weeks of the first trimester of pregnancy, continuing to promote Keowee Valley, and grading senior English projects for high schoolers in my county. For which I volunteered.
My desk looks like it could be featured—all by itself—in an episode of Hoarders. I’d post a picture, but that’d be way too embarrassing. For me and all my kin.

That being said, just before Thanksgiving my fellow VCFA in Writing student and author Sophfronia Scott asked me to participate in a blog chain called “The Next Big Thing.” Sophronia is a novelist (All I Need to Get By), writing coach, and author published in places like Numero Cinq, Hunger Mountain, O Magazine, and more.
Here’s how the blog chain works:

In a blog post, writers basically talk about their works-in-progress by answering a series of questions. Normally, I balk a bit at talking about what I’m working on. I’m superstitious (or, as my husband calls it, crazy). Sometimes I think talking about your work—letting it out into the air—can kill the magic. But when Sophfronia wrote me, all I could think of was, “Great idea!”
The reason is this: Life is nutso these days, and I’m finding it more and more difficult to find the time and energy to invest in my current project. Perhaps talking about it will help me find my spark.

So here goes:
What is your working title of your book?

ANTEBELLUM (but this is definitely “working”).
Where did the idea come from for the book?

From my recently published novel. The protagonist of ANTEBELLUM is the great-great granddaughter of my heroine and hero from that novel, Keowee Valley. And the idea also came from a setting: Charleston, South Carolina in the year leading up to the opening shots of the Civil War. My protagonist is very much a Southern “Jo March” (a la Little Women).
What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fiction, as it’s set in 1860.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I haven’t really had any actors in mind as I’ve been writing (unlike when I wrote Keowee Valley). And I tend to veer towards old-school Hollywood actors. But if I had to choose, I could see Mae Whitman as my heroine, and a young Paul Newman as her rascally rake of a brother. And as for the “hero,” well, I’ve been staring at an old photo from a 19th century daguerreotype that a friend gave me, and the man in it has such intense eyes that it’s startling. I’ve no idea who he is, but I can think of no one in the role but him.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh, I’m so bad at these. “A Southern Jo March comes of age in the year leading to the Civil War in explosive Charleston, South Carolina.” See, bad. Really awful.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully, my literary agent will represent this novel and will be able to sell it to a traditional publisher—most likely my current publisher. But I’m not worrying about any of that until the dang thing’s done.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft? Ha! I’m only about 100 pages in, so the first draft still isn’t finished. Been working on it—really working on it—for about eight months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Perhaps Little Women and/or My Name is Mary Sutter. I’m sure there are others, but I’m in the early stages of writing and know how themes will change.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved Jo March from Little Women, and I wanted to create a sort of Southern version of her, going through the same sorts of life changes—coming of age, seeking a career, finding (or not) love, becoming a real, independent woman—during the same time period (the Civil War) but in a very different region (the South). And I wanted to examine how those same themes Louisa May Alcott examines–slavery, child labor, feminism, education, class–manifest themselves there. I’m also fascinated by the historical periods just before huge events take place; usually, this is where the action, the unrest, the danger and drama takes place … where everything really sparks.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

That it’s set in pastoral Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and gorgeous (and dangerous) Charleston, South Carolina, during the literal year before Citadel cadets fired on Fort Sumter, beginning the most lethal (and some would argue, tragic) war in American history. And it involves pirates, rum-running, the women’s antebellum movement, abolition, and voodoo.
Please meet these fabulous writers and writer-friends of mine, find out what they’re up to:

Jennifer McGaha, my writer-teacher colleague at Brevard College and the author of edgy and hilarious essays published in too many literary journals to name.
Kimberly Brock, my witty and kind new writer friend, fellow Bell Bridge Books author whose stunning debut novel, The River Witch, was published in April 2012.

The incredible Ann Hite, Appalachian girl at heart, author of the haunting Ghost on Black Mountain.
Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. Be sure to line up your five people in advance. (Sophfronia says she’s seen these posts run with only three or four tagged writers, so I went with only three.)
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reading Tonight at Brevard College

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope you had a relaxing and delicious-food-filled few days with family and friends.
Some news: Three other Brevard College professors and I will be reading from our recently published works (me from Keowee Valley, of course) tonight at 7:30 p.m., in the lobby of the gorgeous Porter Center on campus.

The other professor-writers include essayist Jennifer McGaha, poet Kenneth Chamlee, and short story author Jubal Tiner. All teach in the English department at Brevard College.
If you’re in the area, please come by! All of us will be selling our books after the event. But also, Brevard has already begun readying itself for the Christmas season, and lights are up all over town! With our delicious restaurants and surrounding mountains, we make for a great visit.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Little Steel Magnolias for Your Thanksgiving

So, it's Thanksgiving Week. A time for gratefulness. A time for family. A time for laughing at (I mean with!) family.

One of my favorite movie "families" has to be the cast of ladies from Steel Magnolias.

Without a doubt, some of the movie world's best one-liners come from that iconic Southern movie.

Allow me to share:

"He so confused, he doesn't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt."
"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize."
"Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair."
"The nicest thing I can say about her is that all her tattoos are spelled correctly."
"Men. You can't live with 'em, and you can't shoot 'em."

And those, my friends, are only a few. Nearly every line of that movie is perfection. Not to mention populated by some of the finest, most talented actresses around, including the incomparable Dolly Parton.

I was reminded of Steel Magnolias yesterday, when I finally had a moment to dip into my December/January issue of Garden & Gun magazine. I love this magazine. I've mentioned this before. Mostly, it's because of the writing.

Page 33 immediately caught my eye. "Man of Steel: The untold story of Steel Magnolias," read the title, and after noticing the byline was the wry Julia Reed's, I read on.

It's an interview with Robert Harling, who wrote the original stage play "Steel Magnolias." I'd no idea one of my favorite movies began as a play! The story is based on his life in Natichoches, Louisiana, and about losing his sister. And the movie was actually shot in his hometown--as Harling says, "... in the houses and churches with the family and friends who inspired it in the background."

It's a fabulous interview, full of Harling's anecdotes about filming, about the actors (he and Dolly apparently rode around town in search of the best fried okra). But what I found most incredible are Harling's observations on the Southern women in his life, on whom the play was based. It's totally worth checking out.   

I advise buying the whole issue. But thankfully, Garden & Gun has posted the interview in its entirety online:

So as we all head out to be with our own crazy, wonderful families this week--or, heavens to Betsy, have them come to us--here's a chance to laugh. Laugh and be thankful that we've got each other.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Family Way

Maternity corset, Victorian era
Yes, I am "with child." I am also...

"In a delicate state."

"Carrying a child."


"Fecund," "fertile," "fraught." (Oh, boy.)



"Heavy." (Yes, oh, heck yes.)

"Parturient." (Whaaat?)



Can you tell I love my Writer's Thesarus? It keeps me warm on cold nights.

But back to the topic at hand: It's true, and at 15 weeks along there's no denying it. I am expecting Baby #2--gender yet to be revealed--on May 8, 2013.

Holy freaking moly.

To say that trying to manage all those things in my life I love to talk (or complain... cough) about has been difficult would be a massive understatement. As so many mamas know, working, parenting a young child, taking care of a house (snort), trying to promote a novel and attempting to be a reasonable spouse all take on an entirely new meaning when you are "in the family way."

Add a full graduate course load and attempting to write a second novel, and it's a circus act of massive proportions. Except, in my case, it's not snazzy, fancy Ringling Brothers, but instead one of those state fairs where the carnies running the ferris wheel look like meth-heads, all the animals in the 4-H competitions bolt for the hills, and carnival-goers all seem to look as if they'd sprouted from the same gene pool.

Nursing corset, circa Thank God NOT 2012
Please forgive me. I'm pregnant.

What I'm trying to say is, the past 3+ months have been a doozy. And I've not done anything--parenting, wife-ing, teaching, writing, novel promoting--particularly well.

See, I'm a college English professor who just used the word "wife-ing." I should be shot.

Thankfully, I seem to have moved out of the I-want-to-die-NOW portion of pregnancy, that oh-so-lovely first trimester. (I'm writing that in a whisper, so the nausea gremlins don't get me). With this move into the Lord-be-praised second trimester, I seem to have reclaimed some of my old energy. When I was pregnant with my now 3 year-old, I used this energy to grade papers, to exercise, to hike some pretty big hills.

Somehow, this isn't the case with Number 2. There's more to do.

I don't have the antidote. The magic potion. The solution. If you do, send it to me. Please. Now. Ye shall be rewarded forthwith.

Some day, "they" tell me, I will write about all this. And I'll be calm. I'll be enlightened, helpful, humorous.

But for now, I'm just pregnant. Happily, but maddeningly, "fecund, fertile and fraught."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Festival Weekend & New Books for the Shelf

Back from the 2012 Dahlonega Literary Festival down in lovely foothills of Dahlonega, Georgia! Though we (my family and I) were only there for a night and a day, we got a great taste of literary fun in a fabulous small town.

Our hotel room view
The hotel room where we stayed--all three of us--was a bit sparse (one of those where you drive up to your door), but we had everything we needed, and something unexpected: a gorgeous view of the North Georgia mountains.

Her daddy promised her lots of "jumping on the bed" on the ride down.
My 3 year-old adored the king-sized bed, and she and my husband had a giggle-fest building pillow forts and "bear caves" on top.

Bears in the bear cave
The fun she had in the hotel room almost made up for the fact that we all slept in there together, and she was up from 2 - 5 a.m. that night. Which meant, of course, so were we. God bless concealer, and the fact that I'd remembered to bring make-up at all.

Gold Rush Museum
The Festival was held on the beautiful campus of North Georgia College & State University. The buildings seemed so new, fresh and modern. I was especially impressed by the Library Technology Center, where I served on a panel of Appalachian writers during a session called "Appalachia in Fact and Fiction." With enormous windows facing all directions, high-beamed ceilings and wonderful natural light, it's just the sort of study spot I'd gravitate to were I student there.

But I spent most of my time in the Regional/Local Authors area of the Festival, held in the giant first-floor room of the Continuing Education Building. Tables were set up in racetrack style around the room, and organizer Ken Smoke did a great job of helping us authors find the perfect spot and get set up. On advice from my publisher, I brought copies of Keowee Valley to sell, a handy-dandy display of my book cover that I've been toting everywhere lately, postcards, and a huge bowl of candy. I am not above bribery.

I also decorated my little table with a long scarf made in the Crawford tartan. I wanted to give a little shout-out to my main character, Quincy's, Scottish roots.

With author Janie Dempsey Watts
It was my first time running a booth at a festival, selling my own books. And it was definitely a learning experience. My favorite part: meeting other authors, visiting, and just talking about the writing life. I also had a chance to make new author friends, like 2012 Georgia Author of the Year  Ann Hite (Ghost on Black Mountain), Mary E. Kingsley (Angel), YA novelist Akaeda Flame (Champion), and so many more. I also got to "officially" meet other authors and writers I've been connecting with online and over social media, including the fabulous Kimberly Brock (The River Witch) and Alison Law, publisher and editor of Southern Spines.

Add to all that a quick visit from my sister-in-law and favorite niece who drove up from Atlanta, and it was a jam-packed and thoroughly enjoyable couple of days. I left exhausted, but happy, and ready to add so many great books to my to-be-read pile.

Including Ann Hite's Ghost on Black Mountain, which I loved hearing her talk about, and is set up in my neck of the woods. Can't wait to get started!

Writing is often such a solitary pursuit. It's so nice to know there are other folks on the same journey, all struggling with time management, with the juggling act that is work-family-writing, with issues with the publishing industry--and who wouldn't change any of it for the world.

P.S. A couple more shots:

Historical marker on Dahlonega's truly cool Public Square.

And, Marilyn Monroe cowgirl boots, just sittin' in a shop window on that same Public Square. Awesome.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Down to Dahlonega

I’m thrilled to be headed down to the Dahlonega Literary Festival in lovely Dahlonega, Georgia.

Tomorrow, I’ll run a booth for Keowee Valley, and will speak at 2 p.m. as part of a panel of Appalachian writers in a session called “Appalachia in Fact and Fiction.” Also on the panel: authors Ann Hite (Ghost on Black Mountain), Walton Young (A Gathering of Eagles), Nick Wynne (Flighty Jo Jones), and Mary E. Kingsley (Angel).

I’ve never been to Dahlonega before, and I always look forward to spending time in cool little mountain towns. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, and the literary line-up a real treat! Some of the other authors appearing include Karen White, Kimberly Brock (another Bell Bridge Books author, like me), Mark Warren, Cherie Priest, Carole Townsend, A.J. Hartley, and more–including keynote speaker Barbara Brown Taylor. I had the pleasure of hearing Brown Taylor speak at the Southern Women Writers Conference earlier this Fall, and she’s wonderful–witty, smart, souful and refreshing.

Even better, I’m being joined this time in my book travels by my husband and my three year-old daughter, who plan to roam the Festival and enjoy the kids’ events while I do my thing. Lately I’ve been traveling alone, so this’ll be fun! (Look for a tall man chasing a little blonde blur.)

If you’re in the area, I hope you can join us!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Chili... and Some Other Good Stuff

Crock Pot, how do I love thee?

On this election day, my mother, my daughter and I are making chili.

Election Day Chili.

Okay, so my mom really made it. But we're all going to eat it!

Okay, so my 3 year-old won't eat it.

It smells and looks absolutely delicious. We adapted the recipe from Southern Living magazine. Here it is:

Turkey & Black Bean Chili

3 (15 oz.) cans black beans
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (14 oz.) can low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes

Our adjustments: Sometimes we use meat crumbles, sometimes ground turkey. Mom always adds a can of Rotel. We eat ours with good ol' Jiffy cornbread!

sour cream
shredded Cheddar cheese
sliced jalapeno peppers
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped tomatoes
lime wedges
corn chips or cornbread

Our plans for tonight include eating this fabulous chili, then heading to my family's church for a special election night communion. Then, Mom and I will surely stayed glued to the T.V. to see what's in store for the next four years.

* * Just for fun--and because I have a quote obsession--here are 5 quotes for Election Day 2012:

"Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
 ~ Sydney J. Harris

"The politicians were talking themselves red, white and blue in the face."
~ Clare Boothe Luce

"My experience in government is that when things are non-controversial and beautifully coordinated, there is not much going on."
~ John F. Kennedy

"Our political institutions work remarkably well. They are designed to clang against each other. The noise is democracy at work."
~ Michael Novak

"A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation."
~ James Freeman Clarke

Happy Election Day to all!