Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dawn's Christmas Letter for Family, Friends and Random People Who Have Stumbled Upon This Blog


2008 has been a year of a lot of transformations for me (and oddly, a lot of traveling). I’m very excited about next year and what it may bring. Below is the reader’s digest version of the highlights of my year (and feel free to peruse the previous blog entries ). Feel free to leave comments. I would love to hear from you.

After the stress, etc. of juggling work and graduate school (I got my MA in Dec. 07) I decided it was long past time to take better care of myself. Joining our company’s “Biggest Loser” contest, not only did my team win, but I ended up losing 20+ pounds (and counting.) I’ve actually even started to develop (gasp) muscle tone. I know. I'm amazed, too.

I've still been very blessed to get some things published. In February, The Wild Rose Press published my second novel, “Leaving the Comfort CafĂ©.” This is NOT a vanity press (meaning you pay to have it printed or published) but it is a small royalty-paying press specializing in romance books (insert irony here) For the record, I really consider this book more Southern fiction than romance. It’s sold well, but not enough to quit my day job. You can get it on Amazon, special order through bookstores or at the Wild Rose Press Website.
And it makes a nice Christmas gift (wink, wink, nod, nod).

I've had a few readings (if you look at the March and April entries on the left, I think you'll find the video of the readings.)

I’m still completely addicted to kayaking, and my friends and I (weather permitting) generally paddle about six miles (give or take) each week during the spring and summer Through our paddles, we’ve discovered some gorgeous areas. We've seen a BALD EAGLE NEST (We call him “Sam.” ), multiple blue herons (you have no idea how huge they are until you get close to them). We have even run across a random goat and peacock on our paddles, in addition to more geese, turtles, and cranes than you can shake a stick at. (By the way, the beavers and muskrats on the Tar River are bleepin' HUGE).

We've even experienced the random unwanted company-- six water moccasins along the waterway with us. Fortunately, they don’t seem to want to be around us any more than we want to be around them (at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves). Inspired by these events, I wrote a short story that will be published in early 09 by Glass Fire Magazine called "Things Seen While Kayaking." I'll send you a link when it's online.

My niece came up for a wonderful visit (she's becoming quite the oboe player, btw) and we went to the Duke Primate Center to visit the lemurs. I’ve always loved lemurs because they look so stressed out---so much like me. I also took her to see the large gothic cathedral at that School that Shall Not Be Named and then disinfected ourselves by spending a great evening at the UNC Planetarium.

In September, I did a reading and participated in an arts festival in Augusta , GA. I had never been to Augusta before and really enjoyed it. While there, I got to meet LOUISE SILVERS—the world-renowned writer who wrote “Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail” which was later made in to the movie “Summer Heat.”

Also in September, I was blessed to be selected for a writer’s residency at the “Wildacres” retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. You can see photos and information on the book I was working on there on the links at the left called “blogging from the mountain.” It was truly a great experience (shout out to Mike, Catherine and Teva, the poodle caboodle). I stayed in a gorgeous cabin WAY WAY WAY back in the woods. It was then that I discovered that small, baby black snakes look exactly like cell phone charger cords. I was also greeted several mornings by wild turkeys in my driveway. (no, not people, but actual turkeys).

Mom and Dad and I enjoyed the official opening of the UNC basketball season with "Late Night with Roy," which was a blast.

I am hoping that some day, I will be able to relocate closer to Mom and Dad and my niece and sister (who are still in Asheville.) Charlotte and Greensboro and Winston seem to hold a particular appeal for me...I am dedicating these items to prayer and trying to remember that it is not my time schedule, but God's that is most important.

However, I found myself oddly falling in love with the wide expanses and flat farm fields that seemed to stretch forever. I had never seen cotton grow and bloom and it was amazing to me how it looks like long fields of snow. I did a double take when I first saw the HUGE bales of cotton like giant white plastic boxes. I've made some of the most amazing friends that I will cherish throughout my entire life. I have been "adopted" by not just one, but several different families in the area.

Other new things I've been doing this year?
I've learned to play the didgeridoo (albeit, not very well).

This fall, I have been teaching two nights a week at the local community college-Composition Strategies ("strategery" as I call it. ) I've really enjoyed it. I'm going to teach another class in the spring--Technical Writing.

I'm also learning to play the guitar (thus far, I have only mastered "Smelly Cat"---I'll be coming to a coffeeshop near you.)

In wishing you a Merry Christmas---



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Novel Writing Month Drags on --and I'm still behind

Well, I'm still waaaaaay behind where I need to be on National Novel Writing Month. I'm only at 6,000 words and I should be well on my way to 15K by now. Like my friend Joy who is a freakin' writing MACHINE (Hi Joy! leave a comment). Any other NANO writers out there?

So how to catch up? Someone with NANO said that to catch up, go to a library, set aside a solid hour and just type like crazy... I might try that some time tomorrow. We'll see.

Hey, any of my friends have any blogs out there they want to link to over here? let me know.
Any NANO's want to contribute on how you're hacking it through the month?

Here's hoping I'll have something to post by the end of next week....


Woo hoo! and Praise the Lord! My short story, "Things I've Seen While Kayaking" has been accepted by Glass Fire Magazine. It's an on-line literary magazine, and I'm sooooo psyched about getting the short story accepted (I'll even get paid as well!)

Keep watching this blog for updates, a link and maybe even a teaser for the story....Hmmmm....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Crud Virus Vs. NANO--who wins?

Yep, I'm still here and kicking and trying to get my National Novel Writing Month story off to a decent start, though that nasty cold virus and a raging ear infection have put me out of commission for a while, and thus behind.

It's really easy to think "Oh sure, I'll take a day off to recover, and that will also give me the opportunity to do some writing." Riiiiiiight. I was on cough medicine that kind of put me in la-la-land but at the same time, made me hyper. 2 a.m. in the morning and I'm like a squirrel on speed....

...bottom line, I'm hoping to boost up my word count---right now I'm only at 3,500 and I'm not too please with what I've written, but as I've said, this is an exercise is just having fun at wild literary abandon, so I'm trying to take my own advice and just chill out for a while.

And on a totally non-related matter, here is a picture of my backyard....I thought it was cool...

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Month=One Novel

What? Are you crazy?

Well, maybe. It's definitely been suggested.
am joining the November National Novel Writing Month at
It's when a bunch of nuts, I mean, writers, each write 50,000 words between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30
Of course, when you're cranking out that much stuff, 80 percent of what you write is crap, but it does get the creative juices flowing because you don't have time to "second guess" things.
It's free, and just a month of ridiculous literary abandon (and an excuse to celebrate).

Join or not, or check out the 80 percent crap / 20 percent halfway decent stuff I'm going to try to crank out.
My user name is ECUDawn.

For those of you with kids under age 12, they have a young writer's version of it that works with local schools, etc.

Wow. Just writing that makes it sound like I have no life....
But any of you NanoWrimo folks in Eastern NC, let's network.

PS--for research for my novel, I'd like to hear from anyone who has had any major or minor paranormal experiences. I promise--no names will be mentioned....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blogging from the Mountain

Short excerpt from what I am working on...
...Below is a SHORT, FIRST DRAFT section of what I've been working on. Yes, this is a draft, so no one jump my case for tense shifts (I'm still not sure how to structure this) just look at this as a little more polished than just general free writing or stream of consciousness.

Oh yeah, and this is copyrighted, blah, blah, blah, insert legal jargon here....

Big Tom Wilson

If you were exploring the Black Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1890s, and had the need for rest, nourishment, and a decent night sleep safety away from the elements, you might stop at a a small farm near Pensacola, around the Cane River. You would be greeted by frenzied barking from blue tick and black and tan hounds, while chicken and livestock wandered around the grounds next to small plots of corn and other crops. You might hear a worried bray from the sheep’s pen, its residents debating which one would be the next to end up as mutton, and smoke would be slowly curling from the chimney of a cabin that was covered with bear skins. As you walk toward the porch you catch the scent of something delicious cooking on the stove---though your scenes can’t quite identify what was cooking. In block letters on the side of the cabin, someone has painted “Big Tom,” as if no other explanation or detail were necessary.

If you were expected ---and even if you weren’t expected---a tall, lean and lank figure with a snowy beard and dancing eyes would invite you inside to rest a spell and have some of the vittles that Mother had been cooking. As he ushers you through the front door, and you marvel at the collection of fishing rods, hunting traps and guns that seem to decorate every nook and rafter of the three room home. After miles of hiking, the cozy cabin melts the dank moisture from your feet. If you wanted to sample some homemade apple pie while you were there, that could be arranged, and you may even be given a snack to take with you on the rest of your trip. If you needed a reliable hunting guide and trailblazer for the rest of your journey, that could be arranged as well, for you were in the company of one of the best the Appalachians had ever produced.

And if you wanted to simply sit back in front of the fireplace and listen to backcountry mountain tales, that could be arranged --and often was --- without even having to ask.

It’s quite possible that Big Tom’s life could have continued simply unnoticed like many of his fellow Scots-Irish mountain breathern who farmed and made a living on the mountains. But one event thrust him from the face of the mountain into the front page of newspapers, and from newspapers to history, and from history to legend. It was one of the most sensational events of the 1850s---the search for Dr. Elisha Mitchell, university professor and scientist, who had traveled to the Black Mountains to confirm the highest peak of the Appalachians, and was missing for more than a week........

.....Big Tom loved to tell stories. I don’t know if this trait can be genetically linked to a chromosome in my family’s DNA, but if there were a link, I’m sure you’d find a stream of storytellers not just in my family, but in every family that roamed these hills through the decades.

It is not my job to play as judge and jury as to which stories have merit and which ones do not. I’m not a historian. I am a storyteller. And I believe Big Tom would be okay with that.

After all, he was a storyteller, too.

Blogging from the Mountain

Saying Goodbye to Wildacres

I have heard so many good things about this place and I can see why.
It is only just now that the fog has lifted so that I can see the mountains (or see ten feet in front of me for that matter). But it doesn't bother me---I am very familiar with the mountains, and I actually like the way the fog curls off of them. But the sun is shining and I've gone for a few short hikes, so it's been good.

In addition to getting a lot of work done, and meeting some of the way cool people here at Wildacres (Mike, Kathy, Chris, Dana, Brian, and of course, Keeva the poodle caboodle). Here are some of the things I have learned:

  • I am usually not comfortable with quiet. I even have to have a noise machine to help me sleep. While the quiet at first intimidated me, I realized it was not quiet--it was just different music. The hum of crickets, woodpeckers, and one really, really, teed off squirrel were a wonderful symphony. Are these things around us all the time and we're just too busy to hear them? Things that make you go hmmmmm....
  • I have lived alone for a long time, so I didn't view being in a cabin in the woods with any apprehension. However, there is something exhilarating about being totally, totally alone. We find it intimidating because we are never alone. Even if we live by ourselves, there's always the neighbor down the street or the days full of work that we welcome what we think is being by ourselves. You get to know yourself a lot better (okay, that sounded dirty, but I didn't mean it to). It has really helped me hear God better.
  • It's okay if the interior of your cabin looks like the room Johnny Depp had in "Secret Window." As long as you don't start writing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..." you're okay.
  • Scripture has power when it is read aloud. I've read the Psalms but never aloud when I was by myself. Truly power in the word of God read ALOUD. Maybe it was my imagination, but when I read it on my porch this morning, all the birds and critters started chattering more enthusiastically.
  • Small, black, ringneck snakes look a lot like cell phone charger cords.
  • Lightning storms can be thrilling. Don't worry, the cabin will protect you. Enjoy the light and flashing without fear. That loud popping and fizzing was just the transformer.
  • Wild turkeys are everywhere. Sometimes unexpectedly, when you go around the corner.
  • The food here is really good (okay, that wasn't a lesson, just a point)
  • We get so obsessed with where God wants us to be that we fail to realize if we walk with Him, the place we need to be will natural cross our path.
  • I have been extremely humbled by reading about all the adventures of the other artists who have lived here. There are three journals that we are invited to contribute to, and I have read about artists who have battled breast cancer, searched for family history, came from as far away as Texas and New York. It is very humbling to know you are one in a long chain of Owl's Nest (that's what they call the cabin) who have loved this place.
  • For some reason, day 5 here is always magical. I was fairly pleased with my progress, but for some reason on Day 5 it was like lightning coming off my fingers, and I was so wired that at 1:30 a.m. I finally had to take an Ambien to help me sleep. I've found similar things in the journals, and it always seems to happen around day 5.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blogging from the Mountain

Some photos from the mountain--

* My "Johnny Depp" Owl's Nest Cabin:
I confess, I was not used to being so far back in the woods, even when I stayed at Brevard Music Center or went to visit my Grandma in Yancey County. Although the lightning storm of the first night was beautiful / unnerving / wonderful / scary -- it made me realize that this little Owl's Nest cabin would hold fast and take care of me this entire week. Since then, I've been okay with it.

And of course, I have to say that everyone here at Wildacres has been fantastic. I've also enjoyed reading the journal logs left from the other writers that have been here before me....
Look at the beautiful woods that surround this cabin.

Blogging from the Mountain

In Search of Big Tom Wilson

Days 3-4

For some reason Wed. night, I was strangely much more tired than usual. I finished a lot of things, and was hoping to get in some more, but for some reason I was afraid I had a sore throat coming on, so I did my nose spray and went to bed. The rain sounds wonderful on the tin roof. The squirrels dropping acorns on it, sound like machine gun fire.

I dictated a lot of tape material I gathered from Mt. Michell earlier. When the rain subsided, I was even able to take the cabin trail from my cabin to the rest of the Wildacres campus (about 15-20 minutes each way). It is really beautiful.

No critters Wed.---except for a squirrel outside my cabin that is very agitated. He keeps making "angry squirrel noises" --- kind of sounds like a cat.


I ended up calling it an early night.

I am really only just now starting to get adjusted to living on the side of a mountain in nowhere.

On Thursday afternoon, after finishing up the into to Big Tom's bear stories, I went into Little Switzerland and went into one of the best bookstores I have ever seen. I then went on to Spruce Pine to the Large Chain Store that Shall Not Be Named and picked up a few things---milk, a chill pad for my laptop, and some Dramamine because I had been experiencing some vertigo. I think it may be sinus / driving around all these sharp turns related. Those of you who know me realize I can get car sick at the drop of a hat---even if I'm driving.

Saw three wild turkeys on my way down the mountain today. Evidently, there's a family/ flock of them that hang around. here.

On Friday, I go back to Mt. Mitchell again for a short period to go through the remaining bits of the files. The folks there have been so nice to let me look through their archive,s and I've even made some copies of some of the items I've found viamy family to pass long to them. I'm even thinking this book can come with a small children's companion piece "Big Tom's Bear Tales" that will tell about his adventures.

There is a really,really, dense fog around here. I haven't been able to see most of the mountains. It's made for slow driving, but as you can see in these pictures, I think it is really beautiful when the mists are around the mountain.

Since I'll be close to Asheville when I'm on Mt. Mitchell (well, I won't be close, but Mt. Mitchell isn't really that close to anything....) I'm a going to try to connect with Mom and Dad and have an early supper....

I had originally thought if I had become "bored" with the "nuts and bolts" of research that I could return to completing my short story collection. But I've found that the more I research, the more I write, and I've become incredibly fascinated by the entire thing...

I did "cheat" a little bit--- I brought two movies with me-- "Eternal Sunshine" and "The Hours" (or as I like to call it, "The Bipolar Family Christmas Special.") I may actually watch Eternal Sunshine tonight (on my computer.) The Hours is great, but just a little too depressing to watch while alone in the woods.

All the best!

I am planning on leaving here on Sunday morning, early, early, probably leaving just after breakfast at 8.

Enjoy these cool photos of Wildacres. It's been rainy and foggy most of the time, so I've not been able to get very many great photos. But that's okay.


PS-- Despite the fact that the layout of this cabin reminds me of Johnny Depp's house in "Secret Window" (a movie about a writer who goes nuts) I've found that I really like the layout of it a lot....

Mists rolling off of the Black Mountains...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blogging from the Mountain

In Search of Big Tom
Day two

Last night, there was, without question, the BIGGEST lightning storm I have ever experienced. Lightning was all around the “Owl’s Nest” cabin---cracking and thundering…and needless to say, every loud pop made me think of every Stephen King movie I have seen in the last five years. The rain poured on the tin roof---which is fine with me because I love the sound of rainstorms.
After an Ambien-induced, blissful couple of hours, I awoke around 1 a.m. to an INCREDIBLY loud clap, a blinding spark and a long, loud “fizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Evidently, lightning struck a transformer just above the cabin I was staying…part of my power was out for a while (not a big deal) but it did really jolt me awake. I think that is the closest I have ever been to a lightning strike in my life (and of course, it sounded as if it were right on top of the roof---and I thought for a minute lightning had struck the roof itself. ) I then heard what I thought was the outside glass light fixture shatter (there was the loud sound of breaking glass) but upon not finding anything in the morning, I wrote it off to imagination.

Today I went to Mt. Mitchell and went through the museum display that features my great great grandfather (I learned it was two “greats”--I had erroneously reported three earlier). There was a life size wood carving. The rangers allowed me to go through the Mt. Mitchell archives for a while. They were incredibly nice and professional.

I had a little hang time, hooked up with a nice couple from Waynesville, and went about one hour into the Balsam nature trail. About halfway in, it started to rain, then pour and then really pour, and by the time I got back to my car, I was pretty soaked.

Animal count: 7 wild turkeys in my driveway this morning 6 wild turkeys met on the parkway (clarification--I’m not talking about people, these were actual turkeys.)

I got back just in time for supper (food here is fantastic!) and went back to my cabin to settle in for the evening. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed because the information I got today was complete sensory overload, and for the first time in ??? I haven’t checked my e-mail all day….I’m sure that’s good for me and character building and all that jazz.

BTW---I highly recommend the restaurant on Mt. Mitchell, along with the cool Balsam gift shop there. It is a great place to get small gifts for people who are generous enough to help out with work so you can take the week off (wink, wink, nod, nod).

Enjoy these photos: of me with a woodcarving of Big Tom on Mt. Mitchell---

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blogging from the Mountain

Wildacres Writing Residency -- Blogging from the mountain-- Little Switzerland, NC

Part 1

I am so blessed to have been selected for a writing residency at Wildacres ( I will be working on a non-fiction book about my great, great, great grandfather, "Big Tom" Wilson, whose claim to fame was finding Dr. Mitchell's body on Mt. Mitchell. This residency is very competitive, so I feel very, very, blessed to be here. It is a beautiful area and I encourage you to visit.

Little Switzerland is gorgeous, and it isn't exactly at the end of the earth, but you can see it from here.

The Owl's Nest cabin is lovely, but I have to confess, the interor of it reminds me of the cabin that Johnny Depp had in the movie "Secret Window" (about a writer who goes crazy.) So while it is beautiful, I do sometimes find myself finding it just slightly intimidating.

Tomorrow I head to Mt. Mitchell, where I have an interview with some rangers. I was hoping that someone would take me to the waterfall where Mitchell's body was found, but that is on private property, so I need to find out who owns it and get permission, etc.

They have a whole display on Big Tom at the museum on top of Mt. Mitchell. This should be very interesing. I am hoping to get a book proposal completed by the end of this week to start shopping it around to agents...

Here is a photo of Big Tom.

Long story short, Big Tom was a bear hunter (he had killed over 100) and trapper in the mountains. There is a nature preserve named after him. Dr. Elisha Mitchell had determined that Mt. Mitchell was the highest peak east of the Mississippi and was confirming his findings when he went missing. After many failed attempts to find him, they sent for Big Tom, who found him at the bottom of a waterfall.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day three--- short story breakthrough

After a VERY relaxing day of Weymouth and getting all the work-related stress out of my system, I worked on a short story that fought me all night. It was a rewrite of a story I did several years ago, and it has potential, just needs to be rewritten. The story started going in crazy directions.
Then I slept on it.
In the morning, that short story still didn't go anywhere.
But I pulled up another one---only about four pages or so, that I wrote 4 years ago. I had never finished it.
Then all of a sudden, the story took off and I was just hanging on for the ride. First think I knew, this snobby sister showed up in the story, then a mother who swore that "the Russians are just going to nuclear us all to Kingdom Come." (story takes place in the 80s). Then there was this disgusting beach and...all of a sudden I realized this story was running me.
has anyone out there had any interesting things like this happened---a story that was DOA you suddenly revived and it started going all different places? Let me know.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Writer Resource o' the Week #5

Hello, hello....
Checking in with a writer resource of the week---this one is:

Absolute Write

Free newsletters? Market information? Cool stuff? Dang! where do I sign up?
Oh, that's right, at Absolute Write.

Chatting with Manic Readers

I will be chatting with manic readers online with their Yahoo group on July 23.
Woo hoo!

Writing retreat--part 1---BEES!

Hi all...I am writing from a wonderful writer's retreat. How great to get a chance to relax and enjoy.
What I'm working on?
Finishing up a collection of short stories (rewriting, polishing)
Pounding out a draft of novel #3 (as much as I can get done)
Working on a short non-fiction piece

Just arrived in town and found out that the place where we stay has bees living in the wall. Oh my! They've had to partition off one room, because bees were coming in through the vents....not a lot, I mean, not like a Stephen King movie or something...but we're okay. They're trying to save the bees and coax them out because there's a shortage of bees or something or other...
...and I've run into someone who seems to collect plastic bags. I find that very interesting....
more to come....

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

conspiracy of the teeth

Okay, I lied.
I did not blog.
I didn't write.
I have spent my time worrying about things like---possible work layoffs, my inability to find a date since the Reagan administration, and what the @#$@#$@# my wisdom teeth are doing. [yes, I'm 37, and I still have my wisdom teeth. They've decided to make an appearance. A painful one]

AT least, that's my excuse for not being more regular about writing. Julia Cameron in "The Artist's Way" has a good deal to say about the psychological happiness of creativity for creativity's sake--
..but I was a slacker.

Therefore, I've set my goal to revise a collection of my short stories and start shopping it around by the end of this year.

Oh, and here's my "the dog ate my homework" drama about my lack of blog entries."

Okay, so spare me the lectures about how I should have had that rite of passage--wisdom teeth removal-- when I was 17 or 21 and the roots of these buggers were no where near my facial nerve, which they are now...
...bottom line, they're still here. The doc says there's more of a risk taking them out then leaving them in...and since the pain has subsided, probably best to do the watchful waiting thing.

So that's my story---I was minding my own business, getting ready to get caught up on my blog, when all of a sudden---the teeth started their own conspiracy:

Wisdom #1 = "No you don't. No writing weekends for you at your super cool friend's place in Georgia. I want to give you pain. NOW! While you're driving! Lots of pain! Go to the ER--ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Wisdom #2 = "An ER in Charlotte at 9 p.m? She won't go. Oh hey, I want more of that Tylenol."

Wisdom #3 = "I just wanna... I mean (hiccup) I went over... I mean...what-what are we doing anyway? (wisdom tooth #3 is something of a lush)

Wisdom #1 = "Come on guys, this is our time to take over the mouth."

Wisdom #2 = "But there's no room!"

Wisdom #1 = "Oh, her mouth is big enough. Trust me."

Wisdom #3 = "You know... I love you guys... I really do... you are my best (hic) friends in the (hic) world... I just...hey...where am I again? What-what are we doing."

Wisdom #1 = "Fools. Fools."

Wisdom #2 = "She's playing Creedence again."

Wisdom #1 = "How did I get stuck with you guys. #4 was the lucky one. She got him out early."

Wisdom #3 = (singing) "Doot doo doo Looking out my back door" (hic)

I'll be back with more regularity.
But first, answer this---does anyone have any favorite movies about writers? Tell me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where have I been?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I'm one of those pathetic blogger writers who doesn't blog every five minutes. Actually, I've been on the road a good bit of the time and have been sick with sinus crap--and on some high-powered antibiotics since I got bitten by a few deer ticks. So I've been feeling very puny, but puny beats Lyme disease anyday.

Since last time I posted some words I like, I'm posting some words I hate....

Yes, I know, (insert third grade snicker here). I just hate the way it sounds like something it shouldn't when all you want to know is if they've finished filling up the ketchup bottles.

I can't seem to ever pronounce this one right.

That's eggplant. Or a shade of purple. I have trouble remembering that one as well.

And the word I seem to dislike most of all (and the one that I try at all costs to avoid using in public) exacerbate.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Words I Think Are Totally Cool

Hey guys.
To increase my dorkiness factor (as if it couldn't be increased any more...)
I thought I'd provide a list of words that I think are really cool.
As writers, we need to, and should, have a love for the language in which we write---or just an appreciation for languages in general.

These are some words that I really think are neat. I love the way they sound, and I love the way they feel on your lips when you say them. These are my top ten:





You'll notice, for whatever reason, I seem to like the hard "k" and the "qu" sounds. Also a lot of the "f" sound. Go figure...
Next week---words I dont' like.

Got any of your favs? Post them! I'd love to take a survey of some of my writer buddies favorite words.

Yes, I'm still kicking

Okay, I'm a terrible, doofy, inhuman being because I'm ashamed to say that I've not been keeping up on this blog like I should have.
Oh well, always time for a new leaf. Things have been kind of stressful with me as of late, but I'm trying to stay very zen about things, remember God is in charge, and not delve into binge-related "stress eating" ----

And now it's time for (drumroll) -- the long awaited
(back after a hiatus)

This one is the Association of Authors Representatives.
It's a good place to find an agent. Also, check out their code of ethics.
If I remember correctly, there is no regulatory body for agents---though most reputable agents are a member of some professional organization (but they don't have to be. Dang, a confusing business.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scheduled Writer Chats

Anyone who wants to stop by and chat with writers and readers, I'll be at the following Yahoo groups:

---Romance Bistro After Dark on May 7
* FYI-- This is their hot/ erotic line. Though you don't have to be a writer of erotica to participate (case in point, me)

----Coffee Time Romance loop --- May 16

All of these are on the Yahoo groups if you want to sign up.

Hopefully I'll see you there!

Writer Resource o' the Week -- #4

This is #4, isn't it? Sorry, liberal arts major. You know we never learned how to count. If we did we'd all be working at NASA or something.

This writing advice resource is actually from the publisher of my second novel, "Leaving the Comfort Cafe." They have a Writer's Toolbox with links to all kinds of useful articles, including pitching, querying, etc.

This week's writer resource is:
The Wild Rose Press
Writer's toolbox

URL is:
Then click on "In the Greenhouse" and then "Writer's Tools."

Oh, and buy my book while you're there :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chatting with Yahoo Groups

Today I had a brief yet uplifting "posting" / "chat" with a Yahoo group comprised of romance writers / readers, etc. Authors are invited to post excerpts from their novels.

I posted the scene where Blythe meets Austin at the Comfort Cafe (you can hear this excerpt under the ECU reading post)

I was very encouraged because someone posted that they were "roaring with laughter" and that I "made their coffee break" and they were putting this on their to buy list asap.

Wow. How great is that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare

Yep. Big Bill the Bard was born on this day 1564, (well, give or take a day--records are actually fairly inconclusive) and died on this day in 1616.

I know it's a side trip from the contents of this blog, but as a writer, I can think of no greater compliment than for some of your writing to actually be considered a part of the English language. One reason why Billy Shakes just simply rocks. Whenever you hear "quick as a wink" the "devil incarnate" or "burning the candle at both ends"--you have Big Bill to thank. (Granted, many of these are now considered cliche, and probably wouldn't be the best to use in your writing...but that's neither here or there right now.)

I was blessed to go to Holy Trinity Church last year and see where Shakespeare was buried. It was amazing. You can see why Stratford and the beautiful Avon River inspired him so. When I ran into a Brit walking along the river trail, I couldn't contain my excitement about being in Stratford. I told him it was, for me, a dream came true.

"Really, luv?" he raised his eyebrows. "I just come here to feed the swans."

Happy birthday Shakespeare!

Hey, anyone want to tell me about your favorite Shakespeare plays?
Here are my favs:
"King Lear" (all time favorite)
"Measure for Measure"
---"That Scottish Play About the King that is a Bad Omen for Artists and Must not Be Named."
"Much Ado About Nothing" (esp. the film version with Kenneth Branaugh and Robert Sean Leonard. Hubba, hubba, hubba.)

And though it is so stereotypical to say you love Hamlet, well, I love Hamlet.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Writer Resource o' the Week #3--FREE RICE

For the Writer Resource of the Week, let's try something different...let's try using a writing resource to help feed the world. The resource is:

Free Rice
at the URL

The site asks you a series of words, and you select their meaning from the multiple choices given. Each time you get a word correct, 10 grains of rice are donated to a UN project. Then, you're given a more difficult word, and so on, until you get one wrong.

I've checked this one out on truth or fiction dot com, and this is not a hoax or one of those crazy e-mail forwards that never seem to have a source.

From what I understand, the money for the rice comes from the paid advertisers on the site. And while 10 grains may not seem like much, multiply that by the millions who have played this game and you'll see how it can add up.

So expand your word power and give some free rice!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Writer Resource o' the Week

This website does such a good job of scouting out literary scams that they are actually getting SUED for it! (by whom, or what the 4-1-1 is, I don't know.) Regardless, you can get information on them at this wonderful website:


URL: www.anotherrealm.comprededitors

Check it out, and keep posted on the Warnings. You won't regret it.


As for me, I'm gearing up for my FREE how to get published seminar / book signing / dog and pony show that is gearing up at the Cooley Library in Nashville, NC. Plus, the gift shop at the place where I work is having an author book signing (featuring me, which is kind of embarrassing because I grew up with the philosophy that one was not supposed to brag on oneself.)

I'll post photos from the even when its over.
Take care!

Friday, April 11, 2008

FREE How to get Published Seminar

I'll be giving a FREE seminar on how to get published at the Cooley Library in Nashville, NC on April 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Yep, I'll also be signing copies of my books there. I'll try to post some video or at least some photos if possible.

Since I work with a smaller publisher and they have contracted with LuLu to publish books the length of mine, my novel is not listed on Baker and Taylor or Ingrams or other major distributors, which can make it difficult to try to get it into mainstream bookstores (although from what I understand, it's hard to get anything other than something from a major publisher into them. Am I wrong? Comment and tell me.

So to try to get my foot in the door, I'm taking this dog and pony show on the road. Even if the "show" doesn't net any sales, I get to leave my card and hopefully get some free publicity. And then there's the whole thing about giving back to the community libraries.

More to come....

WHAT will be the FREE WRITER RESOURCE O'THE WEEK....we'll see.... posting comes on Sunday or Monday. Probably Sunday...

Monday, April 7, 2008

8@8 -- Reading at East Carolina University

This is from my reading at East Carolina University.
It was a celebration of the MA graduate students from the creative writing department at East Carolina University.


Ah, yes, it's been a while since I got back to my blog.
Sorry for the delay, but you can count that I'm going to be posting more regularly.

I'd also like to introduce a new feature-- the FREE WRITER RESOURCE OF THE WEEK---this is just a resource I've found useful or helpful for my writing, and I think you can as well. Many of these can be found under my links page on my website at

Anyway, let's get things started:


Duotrope at

It has some interesting markets and wonderful resources. Mostly for fiction, but I think there may be some essay entries. It also provides a submission tracker, and of course, the best part
is it's free. They run on donations, but I just wanted to say, God bless ya to the Duotrope folks.

Definitely worth the surf!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Who is the Snake Lady? Find out on this video

Find out in this video of a reading of my second novel, "Leaving the Comfort Cafe." Recorded LIVE--at Via Cappuccino in Rocky Mount.
This video should play on Windows media player. I'm kind of new to the video upload, so forgive me if there are any problems.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Newspaper Article

Wow! seeing myself in the Telegram. Yee ha!
Hopefully this will generate some buzz about the booksigning. Y'all come!
Below is a link to the story.

And yep, that's my grandmother's chair I'm sitting on. Isn't that cool? That chair is at lest 50 years old.
I've found that it's very important to indicate to reporters, etc. that you emphasize that it is not a "vanity" press. Evidently, I'm sure there are a lot of good self-published books out there---I'm just saying that I'm sure there are even more that are not. One editor actually told me that with print on demand publishing "getting published really isn't the big deal that used to be..." Well...maybe not if you pay someone to publish it with print on demand technology.
But it is still tough to get into a traditional publisher---large, small or otherwise.
I have the rejections to prove it. BUt as I stated in the article, persistence is 80 percent of the game...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top questions for writers--Question #1

Many times, as a writer, I get some of the same questions over and over again, so as an FYI, I'm going to start a list of the top 10 questions I get as a writer---and any of you fellow writers are welcome to join in and give me your input.

Question #1--- Are your characters real, based on someone, or what?

In a country over- populated with lawyers, that's a dangerous question. But I think that the bottom line is that all characters (at least with me, anyway) are a combination of so many things. For example, a character may have A's sense of humor with B's good looks but C's crummy marriage. Of course, as a matter of courtesy, legal issues, etc. you need to realize that while someone may "inspire" a character, that doesn't mean that they are based upon them, and you need to realize that--as Thomas Wolfe learned--basing characters too closely on people can still cause you inconveniences at the very least.

Personally, in the South, I don't think there's any shortage of inspiration for characters. I think it also should be noted that once you get these characters "started"-- they just kind of take on a life of their own...

Any other ideas? Comments?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Postcards and chatting

Hoping to get my postcards out in time for my reading on Sat. March 29 at Via Cappuccino in Rocky Mount. I'm trying to go with a retro theme with comic book characters (Since one of the main characters in the story aspires to be a comic book writer!)

I'll be logging in tomorrow afternoon at Talking Two Lips to discuss my novel. Thanks to the folks at the Wild Rose Press for setting up all these loop events.
I'll be giving you some feedback on how the event goes and maybe some hints for participating in a loop chat? OR maybe you can give me advice, as I'm kind of new to all this.

And right now I'm....
Haning out at the coffeeshop slowly realizing that I am becoming sooooooo addicted to wi-fi. And Hugh Laurie. But anyway, now some random guy is bringing in equipment to give us some live music and all I'm thinking about is how I've really, really, got to get caught up on housework. I read somewhere that women with finished novels rarely have clean houses. That's my story andI'm sticking with it.

Reading at Alma Mater

I've been invited to go back to East Carolina University and read as a part of a graduate students /creative writing thing. I'm torn between reading from my novel and reading from a short story that lends itself more to being read aloud.

Hey, do any of you read your short stories out loud as you edit? Would you edit something out just because it doesn't sound good on your ears? I would.

Friday, March 7, 2008

ever on vacation?

As writers, are we ever on vacation? Do you take your laptop everywhere? Folks can't believe that sitting on the balcony and cranking up the laptop is my idea of a good time.
I'm on vacation right now in ASheville. So many stories so little time.

Any thoughts out there on this?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Reading at ECU

I'll be participating in a creative writing reading at East Carolina University with other MA English students. I graduated from ECU in Dec. with a master's in English and a concentration in creative writing. Once a year, they have all the MA creative writing students read from some of their work. I may or may not be reading from "Cafe." we'll see...

It will be on a Thursday night in March---the Thursday before Good Friday---at 7:30 p.m. in the Bate Building at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

First Reading Dates Set

The first comments from folks on my novel have been very positive---though most of these folks are my friends, so I doubt they'd simply say "it stinks"--still, very good to have some positive feedback.

I will have a reading from my novel on March 29 at 9 am. at Via Cappuccino in Rocky Mount, NC. I know it's early---esp. for a Saturday, but fortuneately, they have coffee there :)
Mom and Dad will probably be making the trek from Asheville to go to the reading.

I'm also going to give a free seminar on how to get published at the Cooley Library in Nashville, NC, right outside of Rocky Mount. Details forthcoming.

Hopefully, I'll be able to add a video of some of these readings and post them here.

Also, I'm a guest blogger on Mystic-lit. Check it out. It's a great blog of some great writers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

California Dreaming

I might, might, might, get to promote my book at a book fair in California.
Time will tell.
Fingers are crossed.

Naked Novelist

You have strange things happen when you have a novel out...I had a dream that my mom read the novel and said she especially loved the part about the flamingo. Only there isn't any flamingo in the book.

The piont is, once the novel is "out," there is a particular vulnerability out there. You feel, not really naked, but like a China doll that can be easily broken.
Note the shirt--READ!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Novel author, one novel, a gazillion publishing adventures

Welcome to Novel Trails...
...who am I and why should you care?

Well, I guess you shouldn't. Unless of course, you want to follow a wonderful, whacky, writer on her adventures promoting her second (non-vanity press) novel from a small publisher.

Let's face it---if you aren't the Stephen Kings or John Grishams, you don't have a promotions budget of millions of dollars, and a lot of promotion is...well, is left up to the writer.

So if you want to follow my journey, get a few laughs, enjoy a good cup of Joe, and along the way learn some promotions lessons as well as some good tips on writing, join me. I'll be posting regularly.

For more info on me, visit my website at