Dear Followers of

I did mention that website change, didn’t I?  Are you finding me?  No?  This is what happens when they let me have hold of the power tools.


Juuust kidding.  I haven’t been doing the work, but, here’s what has been going on – without getting too far into the weeds.  The website is now redesigned.  As part of that redesign, it is also being supported by a new web-hosting entity.  These back end changes to enable that have resulted in two sites.

Old.  New.

You are likely not getting to the old site if you have it bookmarked.  Even though the old site could have been found under, it was really

That’s how you would find it today.

Meanwhile, the new site is here.  But, then I noticed my stats showed zero visitors to the new site.  And that I had zero (!!!) followers.  Which made me…


Hmmm.  What could be the problem?

Ah.  All of you are over there on – I mean here – on the old site – and maybe not even here because of “broken” links. (bookmark).  Yikes.  What I didn’t know was creating the new site would leave you behind.  I thought it would be a seamless transfer.

The question is, have you missed me?  If so, I would love it if you would follow me over at the new place.  Check it out.  See what you think.  At the bottom of each page, you’ll see how to follow my blog – again.

I hope to see you, HERE!



New Year, New Look

Fyi, y’all.

My website is undergoing an overhaul – this time not by me, but by professionals.

Amen to that!

As much as I like plunking around and figuring out themes for a new look on occasion, the end result never quite meets my expectations when I’m done.  And then there’s the HTML code, of which I know just enough to be dangerous, but is needed to make some of the “buttons” work, or to add in giveaway information, etc.  I usually figure it out, but it can consume a lot of time.

I don’t know the exact timeframe for when the web design team will be done, I’m thinking sometime towards the third week or so of this month.

I can’t wait for you to see the new design!


Yep, that’s me running a power tool with my Rosie the Riveter do rag on my head.  *Taken in Bucha Ukraine, Mission Trip 2006


White Noise – Redux

I posted this on my blog in November of 2014.  Considering all that I’m seeing, watching and hearing, I thought it might be worthwhile to dredge it up and post again.  I’ve become sort of…what’s the word, disenchanted? Dismayed? Disillusioned? 

Assume what you will after reading.  You won’t hear a peep about it from me.  🙂

ORIGINAL POST, 2016 updates in italics:

On this blog,when it comes to certain topics, this is what you’ll get:



When I started back in early 2011, my intention was to focus on what was happening with my writing, with occasional family stuff thrown in, a book review here and there, photographs I’ve taken (strictly amateur), and whatever else I could dredge up I thought interesting.  I knew there would be certain topics I would steer clear of, and to this day, I’ve held true to that conviction.  (2016 update – yep, still the same!)

Topics I am determined not to post about are my religious, political, or ripped from the headlines viewpoints.  And that’s because everywhere I turn, from the TV, to radio, to Facebook, to other blogs, and who knows where else, that’s what I already get.  What do I have to add to the fray?  Nothing that hasn’t already been said.

Anyone can do what they want with their social media.  I don’t care.  It’s their space, their time, just as this space is mine.  Sure, I’ve waded into debates on other sites here and there a few times.  With the last one, I decided never again.  (2016 update – I’ve forgotten about this. Must’ve been real important.)   To the best of my ability, I’ve chosen to ignore being drawn into what can only become an inflammatory conversation.  The few comments  I did make on other blogs never made me feel better, and I knew I wasn’t going to sway any opinions no matter how many facts I lobbed over the internet fence.  It is/was, in my opinion, time wasted.  Besides, too much can be lost in this sort of online dialogue.  Sometimes the hot button topics are just too sensitive and difficult to parse into words that will go out to be consumed without that personal touch of voice modulation (are they yelling?), gestures, (slamming a hand down?) and eye contact, (or not) and a myriad of other human interactions. 

There are some who are very good at sharing their opinions with the right sense of diplomacy, yet no matter how eloquent they may be, somebody’s gonna get pissed.  Somebody’s gonna disagree.  It’s a no win situation.  Call me chicken.  Call me weak.  Hey, maybe call me…smart?  I have viewpoints on all of it, but, do you honestly care what I think about religion, politics or the latest news event?  I doubt it – especially if my opinion differs.

My other point is, what does any of that have to do with my writing goals and journey?  Not a thing.  In my opinion, it would be a turn off if you came  to read about the usual stuff I’m blathering on about, and got blasted with my personal opinions.  It’s not relevant to this writerly space which I consider almost sacred.

In that regard, here will always be like white noise, because there are already more than enough sideline analysts and commentators out there.

Aren’t you glad? 

Here.  Here’s some cloud pictures to look at.  I do a lot of sky gazing.  Every time I look at clouds, that Joni Mitchell song comes to mind, but this stanza where she replaces “clouds” with “life” seems appropriate.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

~Joni Mitchell~



What’s Next Now THAT Happened?

After making the announcement last month about what I shall forever recollect as The Lovely Book Deal, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about online presence, social media, and what I can do to tie it all together so everything has a cohesive look.  You might have already noted the change in my header picture, sub-header (Little Things From The Old North State) etc.  All that was done before I announced, but, of course, it was at the back of my mind.

There is so much to read online about this.  The main thing I think is it should reflect what a person writes about so a reader is provided with a taste of the author’s personality, as well as an overall style of the works they produce.  All of my stories are set in the South.  The first book, (the one that sold! Can I say it enough?) is set in Alabama.  The second one is set in North Carolina, and the last one – that hair pulling hard crime novel – is set in Mississippi.  With my current WIP, I’ve come back “home” to North Carolina.

But what exactly does it mean to “reflect” what one writes?  How does one go about doing that?  I don’t think it has to be difficult.  For instance, the new header picture for this blog?  I took it while in the NC mountains near the Linville River in September of this year. I suppose that’s a red salamander, or “eft,” I really don’t know.  What I do know is that I love taking pictures, and although I’m no pro, I know what strikes me as appropriate as a “mood” or a way to catch the “flavor” of a setting.  For instance, if I think about the different scenes in THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, which contains back porches, muscadine vines, and pine trees, to name only a tiny bit which are part of the setting, it’s not hard to find pictures to give readers a visual, you know, from that whole “a picture speaks a thousand words,” view.

I certainly could have driven around and taken random shots here and there, but why do that when there’s…PINTEREST!  I created a page for the book early on, searching for what struck me as perfectly depicting various scenes in the book.  Actually, I was suprised at how many I was able to find.  Have a look at it here.

Another big part of online presence positioning is a book cover.  You might have noticed in the DIXIE DUPREE board on Pinterest, I have it as “Cover ideas,” because even with the editor/copy editor/marketing/sales folks, etc, reading the story, the images for what I felt was the right “tone” might have been all in my head.  In other words, it was a way for me to provide the artistic viewpoint, the way to set the mood.  Likely any header pictures will certainly change to THAT, so don’t get too attached to my little red friend.  🙂

Outside of THE BOOK COVER, posting pictures with a few descriptive words seems easy enough, but, I have no idea if that’s what I’m leaning towards as my way of saying, “here’s who I am, and what my stories are about!”  Or not.  I suppose I’m simply mentioning all that’s going on in my head, and all the work before me I will need to do to help things move along when they need moving.  So to speak.

Even with a year to go before the release date of November 2016, I want to be ready.  I was a Girl Scout, you know.  Or maybe you didn’t, but one motto “Be prepared,” well, that’s me.

Girl Scout salute


Every day my inbox fills with information I’ve requested.  Writing blogs I’ve subscribed to, online writing or publishing magazines, and a variety of other writing how to material.  I’ll stare at some of it for days, all good intentions of reading the material, only to get tired of seeing it stack up.  Eventually, I just hit delete, delete, delete.  Lately, I’ve started to classify much of it as clutter as in I’m beginning to feel a bit overloaded with the need to keep my inbox somewhat organized while “feeling” like I’m not wasting time by doing so

I realize there are some deliveries into my inbox very worthy of reading.  I ran across a post yesterday I felt was extremely helpful, but, mostly, staring at a full inbox just makes me feel like I’m always behind somehow.  I’m sure I’m going about it all wrong, as in I don’t have a defined process for how I work.  I don’t say I’m going to read the inbox from 8:00 – 9:00, then work on writing from 9:00 to 1:00, and then finish up with more reading to end the day.

Pffft!  If only I were THAT disciplined.

In addition to the email influx, I’m not counting the two magazines I get, Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest.  I’m a year behind in those – at least.  I have them chronologically stacked on my night stand along with the ever growing stack of books I’m reading, because I paid for them and I can’t bring myself to de-clutter by throwing them out.  What if I miss THE article that makes ALL the difference in my writing???

And then, there’s the notorious TBR pile.  What I can’t seem to stop doing is buying books.  Right now, I think I have 75+ books to read.  I just bought three MORE this week. But, let’s be real.  I won’t ever stop buying books.  I won’t ever stop reading them.  As I’ve said before, I only read at night and by the time I get to bed I’m usually so tired I only get a few pages in. One thing I do think I could do less with is the influx into my inbox, and that general feeling of guilt I have when I don’t read everything sent.  I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do.  And, in thinking about it, if I’m simply going to delete them, then why bother having them delivered?

Therefore, I’ve been thinking about reducing the load. I’ve been thinking about unsubscribing to some of the sites I’ve been receiving emails from for years.  I’ve been thinking about trying to follow that “sensible” daily plan for when I’ll read, and when I’ll write.  My hope would be to have a feeling like I’ve actually accomplished something – mainly towards my writing goals – and have enough time to sit down and read that ever growing stack of magazines and books in the afternoon.

Books in the middle - only part of that huge TBR pile.

Books in the middle – only part of that huge TBR pile.

Sure, I’ll miss seeing some of those articles, but I can always visit sites at will.  I’ll have them bookmarked, I just won’t get the daily automatic dump into my inbox.

Wow, I feel better already!

Flash Fiction Addiction

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m addicted to Janet Reid’s flash fiction contests.  They’re fun.  They’re great practice for learning how to use words sparingly while building a story, which must include a beginning, middle, end.  They give you a sense of accomplishment – yay I finished something! – especially if in the throes of a WIP.

Lucky for us, Ms. JR held a couple contests the weekends of May 30th, and June 6th.  For May 30th’s contest, I think blog comments may have prompted a North Carolina themed contest, and the one on June 6th was a suggestion from Colin Smith a “reg’lar” on her blog.  He reads a lot of books by a client of hers, author Gary Corby, whose latest book, DEATH EX MACHINA was released.

Of course I entered both.  As usual, she gave five prompt words, and then we have to write a story in 100 words or less.

Here is my entry for May 30th, where I placed as a FINALIST (whoop!) out of about 75 entries. Prompt words:  balloon, heart, wife, dare, plott (yes, with two t’s)

I watch the sun rise, a red balloon in the eastern sky. Haint stands at the river’s edge while Banner runs nearby sniffing traces of yesterday.

Never had much heart for anything other than these old Plott hounds, God love’em. Last year when that water moccasin bit Lloyd, then Haint, it tested that very fact.

Lloyd had hollered, “Wife! Move your ass, I’m bit!”

Forty years. Never once called me by my name.

I daresay my decision came then.

Is puttin’ a dog ahead of a human a sin?  


I wipe spittle off Lloyd’s chin and watch the dogs.


For June 6th contest which I WON (!)  Double WHOOP!  Prompt words were:  chorus, ghost, actor, crane, stage

Back when I won’t more’n a speck, I heard what sounded like a chorus of voices under my bed mumblin’ some word.

I couldn’t rightly make it out at first, so’s I kept on listening, night after night.

Finally, I got it.


I reckon they was ghosts.

That actor what shot Lincoln? Useless was last word he said afore he died, no foolin’.

Troublin’ what I see when I crane my neck like so. They been hammering since yesterday.

Come dawn, reckon I’ll be center stage.

It’s alright. I ain’t ever amounted to nothin’.


Useless comes to mind.

These are The Shark’s words verbatim, below my entry in the finalist area, “This is a stunning demonstration of how to show rather than tell, and establishing character through diction.”

Reading that was SUBLIME, and then she added this with her determination of how she chose this piece as the winner, “It was very hard to pick a winner this week because all of these stories had things I loved.  In the end though it had to be Donnaeve for a compelling demonstration of craft and story.


Then, I got up and did this:

Happy Dance

courtesy LOL.ROFL

Self-Imposed Writing Challenge

Just for the fun of it, I recently took an online typing test to see just how fast I could get my fingers to work.  I’ve never done this before and I’ve never cared about the “official” number because it doesn’t really matter to anyone.  And by that I mean, the only typing I’m doing is on my latest project and no one’s screaming for it.

I found out I type about 65 words per minute and removing errors, that might be adjusted to 60 or 61.  I believe I can go faster – as if that matters – but, at the moment I’m using a rather old laptop with a space key that notoriously sticks.  I’d say in fairness to my brain and fingers, that’s what’s called a handicap like they might give out in bowling or golf.  Anyway, my curiosity regarding this was triggered by a blog I follow called Writers In The Storm.  They have a group of writers who regularly contribute, as well as guest bloggers.  A guest blogger recently put out a post about how to take advantage of writing fast and even came up with a formula for how many words one could do in an hour if you knew your wpm.

Huh.  Okay, so, if I settled for 60 wpm x 60 that would be 3,600 words in an HOUR.  Are they insane???  That’s WAY higher than my usual goal of 1,000 words per DAY.  That sounded completely unreasonable until she went on to say you could work in fifteen minute increments.  Oh.  Okay, maybe I can see doing it that way.  Hey, I’m all for trying something new for motivation.  And if I only stuck with it for fifteen minutes, that’s 900 words – better than what I’ve done most days lately.  She pointed out it’s also helpful to have notes and an understanding of what’s going to happen in the story before you begin.

In reality, this isn’t any different than NANOWRIMO which some of you might still be recovering from.  There are a couple of differences.  1) You are accountable to no one but yourself, and 2) the goal of NANOWRIMO is 55,000 by the end of the month.  Like I’ve said before, I’ve never participated in it, but that’s about 1800 words per day.  Not within a half hour.  I find this concept of fast writing intriguing because I know if I get into my story, sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my brain.

Plus, I’ve experienced a positive result once before by doing something similar.  This was back in 2012 when my first book was on submission, and I needed a distraction.  We always hear about beginning new projects to take our mind off of worry, and the submission process was all so new to me then, I was trying not to act like a psycho every time the phone rang, or an email dinged into my inbox.  For my own sake, I needed to write another book, partly to subdue crazy me, and partly to validate I could actually do it again.

I remember beginning in early April.  By August, I was done.  A completed story around 86,000 words in hand.  This included editing.  By my math, that’s not very fast – no where near this level of “fast writing,” in the WITS post, and not even close to NANOWRIMO, but in my mind, it was still a blistering pace because it took me 18 months to finish the last project.

My main point is, I wrote it  “fast,” i.e., a consistent 1,000 wpd, with more some days, and less on others, but some number of words on page – EVERY DAY.  Was it any good, you ask?  Well, I sent it off to Caroline Upcher, the editor I used at the time, and two weeks later I got an email back.  I opened the review letter enclosed and my eyes immediately caught the word “wonderful.”  And, it got even better.  (some of you have who’ve been reading my blog for a while have heard this story before)  Turns out she was reconnecting with contacts in the publishing world in the U.K., and sent the ms to an agency there to read with the hope of maybe working out a translatlantic sale if a U.S. publisher picked it up.  The agent, Amanda Preston, of LBA, read it, and contacted her and said, ” I absolutely love it.”

That sounds pretty exciting, right?  And it was – at the time.  Very.  However.  I decided not to go on submission for a variety of reasons that are really neither here nor there in this moment, although I do dwell on what might have happened if I’d done that.  What this post is about is I do love setting goals.  Yapping away about it here means I’m about to buckle down and get serious.  Back in 2004 and again in 2006 I ran a marathon.  One of the first things I did when I made up my mind to run in them was to state it as a fact, “I’m going to run a marathon this year.”   Stating goals for all to hear is more likely to make it happen than keeping it to yourself.

And your eyes reading this is stating my goal.  I will plant butt in chair and achieve 1,000 wpd for the next ninety days. 

One way or the other.

*cracks knuckles, glares at keyboard.*

Have you set a self-imposed writing challenge lately?

2014 Is About To Be In The Rear View Mirror

I almost didn’t post this nifty little annual report, courtesy of WordPress.  Admittedly, blogging is not my strong suit.  I write differently here than in my projects.  (less f-bombs.  No.  No need to thank me.)  Here, I tend to keep things lighthearted, and not too thought provoking.  Maybe that’ll change.  Or not.  I have no clue.  When I did the overhaul of the site a couple months back, that was a good start, but I feel like I’ve kept the writing here more like the previous site.  Green, fresh, apple pie’ish.

Anywho, without any more beleaguered babbling, beware my beautiful stats.  Read’em and weep.  Or laugh.  Eye rolling accepted, but if I see you, I’m poking my finger into those glassy orbs.  You’ve been warned.

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

One Hundred Words

I’ve talked about this before.  Those addicting flash fiction contests run by Janet Reid, literary agent extraordinaire.  How hard is it to tell a story in one hundred words?  Doggone hard.  The last one, a couple weekends ago, was in honor of one of her clients, Jeff Somers, for the publication of his latest book, WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE.

The rules are simple.  She will provide five prompt words, usually something to do with the reason for having the contest.  When using those five words, we can have a bit of leeway.  As long as the word is part of a larger word and appears “in whole” that’s okay.  The word “like” is okay as “likeness,” or likeability, but not lickety-split.  See?  And we, (we being the collective group who follow her blog religiously) are to write a story using those five prompt words, in one hundred words, or less.

When I wrote about this the last time, I think I mentioned what good practice these flash contests are at learning how to make your writing more crisp.  To learn how to eliminate useless words – or maybe words that aren’t necessary to the meaning of the story.   The overall process isn’t that far from how I write in general (Pantster that I am).  That’s sort of scary when I think about it.  Anyway, what I mean is, I begin to write – something – with no idea where it’s going. Eventually, an idea sticks. Sometimes, I end up with more than one version, and then I have to choose which one I like better.

That’s what happened in this last one.

Here are the five prompt words we had to use:

  1. spirits
  2. blood
  3. magic
  4. pants
  5. cat

Here is Version One:

Preacher Dan lifted the bottle of tonic and proclaimed its potency.

“Drink it!” he caterwauled, “your spirits will be lifted, what ails you will be gone!”

The crowd eyed the concoction doubtfully.

“It’s black magic!” some yelled, “prove it!” yelled others.

He hitched up his pants before reaching down to lift a venomous snake, antagonizing the serpent by waving a hand at its face.

It struck!

Preacher Dan showed them his hand, “Not a drop of blood!” and coins fell like rain into the little collection basket.

Hours later he counted the money one handed, his prosthesis resting beside him.

And, Version Two:

Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.

Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”

He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.  

It struck!

He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself! “

Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.

Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.

I had to choose one for the contest, and honestly, it was kind of tough, because I liked both equally.  However…, the version I chose was a semi-finalist out of ninety entries, and that was Version Two.

If I’d chosen Version One, what could have happened?  Same placement?  Or not?  This is why writers are torn over their words, why we shuffle them around ad nauseum, telling a similar story, yet different  This is why when we say, “it’s done,” we know it’s never really done, is it? 


What The…


Obviously I’ve changed my theme and with this post on my newly designed site, I thought I’d share the reason why.

Like many writers, I spend about as much time reading about writing as…, well, as writing.  More than once, I’ve come across advice which states any social media outlet used should reflect a writer’s work, or at least convey a similar tone.

And so, here it is.  Maybe the look of it caught you by surprise?  Like maybe the site was taken over by a depraved psycho?  I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you.  What happened to the friendly, calm green background with the slanty lettered title?  No more!  The little archaic writing pad resting on the old, graying planks of wood off to the side?  Gone!

That was then…, this is now.  The last theme and all it’s spinachy, green beany, (maybe it was more like English peas?) coloration  and the ancient little notebook wasn’t right anymore.  It was too…homey.  Sure, it had been great for representing the previous two stories.  The first, a coming of age story about an eleven year old girl in Alabama, and the second told of the struggles of a young family in the Blue Ridge mountains during the late 1920’s.

However, green reflected the wrong message for the genre of the third book.  All wrong.  And it would have been wrong for the next book, and more than likely any book I write from here on out.  If the stars line up and behave.

My earlier stories certainly contained some violence  – of a different kind.  Child abuse, both physical and mental.  A drowning, a shooting and maiming in the second.  However, when I thought about the current story, it occurred to me (finally) the green blog interface was as good a fit as a pair of too tight shoes.  If I wanted to talk about this book a little more, or share an excerpt or something, it would be like viewing the body of a loved one at their funeral with the festivities of a birthday party going on.  Imagine our dismay.  Or…, (because I love making up analogies), it would be like perusing a bookstore for one of Stephen King’s books – lets say MISERY – and Oh Hell, a pretty pink and white cover jacket with a beautiful white dove floating in a pink sky?  What’s up with that?

The only proper color for this book, and any others I’m thinking about is black and gray.  Dark, pitchy, murky, and dim.  The capture across banner?  Well, with that I’m going for mysterious, or maybe even suspenseful.  Or maybe brooding.  I think it works.  I took the picture in Mississippi, just off of the deck at my in-laws house and cut it so it only shows the treeline and a pre-dawn sky.

These are my reasons, and what’s important is…

Like it?  Hate it?  Is it sending the right vibe?

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