Thursday, September 27, 2012


I’m thrilled to announce that Keowee Valley has been released TODAY!

This has been a long, wild and wonderful journey. I’ll continue to talk about it, and other aspects of the writing-parenting-teaching-just-plain-living life, here at The Writing Scott.

Keowee Valley is available in both Trade Paperback (bigger, nicer paperback) and as an eBook at the following outlets:

Barnes & Noble
Bell Bridge Books
Your local Indie book store!

Independent booksellers in the Southeast who’ve happily offered to stock Keowee Valley:

Highland Books, 277 North Broad Street, Brevard, NC, 828.884.2424
City Lights Bookstore, 3 East Jackson Street, Sylva, NC, 828.586.9499
Fiction Addiction, 1175 Woods Crossing Road, #5, Greenville, SC, 864.675.0540
Litchfield Books, 14427 Ocean Hwy, Litchfield Landing, Unit G, Pawleys Island, SC, 843.237.8138
Books on Broad, 944 Broad Street, Camden, SC, 803.713.READ

And more to come!

*** Southern Literary Review has made Keowee Valley its “September Read of the Month”! Check out the review here.

Happy Day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bet Your Bottom Dollar

This morning I'm channeling Annie. Yes, the curly-red-headed gumshoe orphan from the 1982 film.

When I was four years old, I was entranced by Annie and her Daddy Warbucks world. My mom bought me an Annie wig, I dressed like her, and I staged musical numbers in the living room of our house in Greenville, South Carolina. Anyone who came over--babysitter, aunt, parents' friends, the mailman--was subject to a performance.

It didn't matter that I was Annie's opposite: Southern, very much NOT an orphan, freckle-free, with blindingly white-blonde hair. When I put on that wig and belted out "Tomorrow," I was Annie.

Here. Remember?

The kid even inspires FDR. She's amazing!


The reason I'm channeling Annie is this: as most of you know, my very first novel, Keowee Valley, comes out tomorrow. I dreamed the impetus and details of the novel for years before I put it to paper. I researched for six months and wrote and rewrote for another year and a half. I queried literary agents for about four months (we're talking pages and pages of printer paper, stamps galore, and, finally, four offers of representation amid the nearly 200 rejection letters). The nail-biting decision on which agent to choose. Then, the agony of waiting to find a publisher ... three years of it. And, finally, an offer from a publisher I've come to thoroughly like and admire. Another year plus until publication.

Anyone want to count the years from writing to publication? I wouldn't. It's terrifying.

But tomorrow, my novel will be published.

When I say it's hard to believe, I'm not making it up. Lately, I've existed in a state of numbness, hardly believing it to be real. I've pushed aside any excitement in order to simply deal with the myriad details of my busy life.

And, if I'm honest with myself, the thought of people--strangers and those I know and love--reading Keowee Valley makes the nerves jump beneath my skin.

I know, of course, there will be some readers who love it. Most likely my mom. Okay, hopefully more than just my mom.

There will be some readers who simply like it, or feel neither this way nor that about the story. There may be even some who expected more from me, and didn't get it.


And then, there'll be those who hate it. Who think that I can't write my way out of a paper bag.

Those will sting. Ain't gonna lie. And I've never had the thickest skin. But I hope--I plan--to be like the turtle, and let the water (and the negativity) just roll off my back.

My graduate advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts this semester, the incomparable Connie May Fowler (How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, Before Women had Wings), told me this about bad reviews in a recent letter. I don't think she'd mind me sharing:

Do not allow small, inconsequential things to mar your joy over this success. The publication of your novel is an achievement NO ONE can take away from you. It’s a monumental achievement and it will cast a love-shine on all the days of your life. So glory in it!

I love her.

And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the sun'll come out tomorrow, the day of my publication. And it'll be good.

Bet your bottom dollar!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Countdown Continues!

Keowee Valley will be released in two days!

My husband asked me yesterday, “So what really happens on Thursday?” As if something magical were going to take place.

“Nothing,” I told him. “It just means that the book is available in bookstores and online, or bookstores can order it for customers if they don’t happen to have it in stock.”

And, really, this is all that happens on my official publication date. Press releases do go out, and my publishers at Bell Bridge Books do a bunch of behind-the-scenes marketing, sending the book out to libraries, review sites, and more. Keowee Valley will be featured on the front page of the BelleBooks/ Bell Bridge Books web site, and of course available for purchase through them, too.

Even though there won’t be any bells and whistles, the whole thing truly is magic. Mixed, of course, with a helluva lot of hard work and quite a bit of luck.

At my house, we plan to celebrate with dessert from one of the many wonderful restaurants in our little town, and some champagne.

* * *

In other news … (pretend I sound like Tom Brokaw) ...
I returned on Saturday night from the Southern Women Writers Conference at Berry College, where I presented a paper (an excerpt from Keowee Valley). It was a great conference, populated by absolutely fabulous writers, including the other presenters in my session who read from short stories and novels-in-progress. Whenever I attend conferences like these, I’m always astounded at the quality of writing going on out there in the world.

Some incredible writers on the scene for a while: the singer-songwriter-actress Marshall Chapman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, poet Barbara Hamby, and South Carolina’s own Josephine Humphreys.

Some new (to me, but certainly not the writing world) faces: Iranian-American author-lawyer-activist-blogger Melody Moezzi, essayist Melissa Delbridge, and Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor. All were simply stunning. And what a delight it was to sit over meals, especially, to talk with other attendees and writers and to listen to these funny, brave, incredibly talented Southern women talk about the writing life.

I had to leave earlier than I would’ve liked to get home on Saturday (the conference was Thursday – Sunday), but it was well worth the 4.5 hour drive through the mountains of Western North Carolina and North Georgia.

I chose the route, in fact, because the first half of it traced the journey my characters Quinn and Jack took, in Keowee Valley, when they traveled through the Cherokee wilderness to meet Jack’s family, in Chota (the spiritual capitol of the Cherokee Nation at the time).

Once I got over being in the car alone, and without my dog, Scout—who’s been my travel buddy for the past nine years—I set my playlist to begin with a little Sam Phillips (from the album “A Boot and Shoe. For a taste, listen here). I headed off down NC Hwy 64, heading west. Followed the incredibly gorgeous Cullasaja River--which moves between Highlands and Franklin, N.C.--craning my neck to look down into the gorge as I wound slowly up the two-lane mountain road, wondering if the roof of my Honda Element would scrape the rock outcroppings overhead.

Keowee Valley Spoiler Alert!

The Cullasaja is a special river for me: Nearby, in my fictional world, is where Jack proposes to Quinn, back at the deep of a cave, behind a roaring waterfall. Truth be told, it’s where and how I imagine the modern Bridal Veil Falls—which on my drive I saw plenty of bikers and motorists parked, taking photos and walking beneath it. I can only imagine the Falls in the 18th century, no road, only a footpath or game trail, rushing through the glossy undergrowth.

(Alert over.)

After following the Cullasaja River for quite some time, up through the Nantahala National Forest, I meandered along past the Little Tennessee River, through towns like Young Harris, Blue Ridge and Ellijay, and then into North Georgia and the gorgeous Chattahoochee National Forest. It was a jaw-droppingly beautiful day—with a crystalline blue sky free of clouds and humidity, just hinting at the glories of October. And it was fun for me, to take that journey again, to remember when I was just dreaming up my novel.

Have I mentioned that Keowee Valley will be released in TWO DAYS?

Just checking.