Thursday, December 29, 2011

I’m often staggered by our capacity for self-delusion.  It’s a gift, I believe and I’d bet good money our brains are hard wired for it.  Without this deception, we’d all be walking around in an unbearable world where not just the emperor, but all of us, are butt naked every day of our lives.

That little paragraph was yesterday’s journal entry.  My blog entry was a short celebration of my husband and my twentieth wedding anniversary.

Well, here’s a funny thing.

Yesterday was not our anniversary. 

Oh, we did go out to dinner and a movie.  Jack asked what he asks each and every year, “So, do you want to renew the contract for another year or are you done putting up with me?”

We talked about what we hoped to do in the coming year and toyed with the idea of one more adventure trek.  Both of us pretending not to know that the real goal of such a trip would be both of us making it home without having broken a hip or lost what’s left of our minds. (A great example of that handy tool, self-delusion) We reminisced about past explorations and mishaps and joys.

This morning, we stood in front of the extra-large-print-for-old-eyes calendar, stared at the page, looked at each other and said, “Huh. Yesterday wasn’t our anniversary, Friday is.”

I do have an explanation for how this confusion happened.

But, as usual, you’re going to have to bear with me. (Yes, that’s the correct use of ‘bear’. Bare with me would be me asking you to get naked with me)

As a kid the expression I heard the most was, “What the hell is the matter with you?”

Kid’s are adaptive.  I learned quickly to reside in my own little world. Don’t feel badly for me.  Keep reading, you’ll see this has worked well for me and, in my usual round-about-way, I’ll reveal the explanation for the confusion about the anniversary date.

Yesterday morning I was deep in Bigfoot Blues, happily rounding some of the edges off my main male character, polishing his speech just a tad, dropping the reader another hint or two into the mind of this irresistible man. My husband, known for his inability to keep dates straight, came into the office and said, “Hey, Happy Anniversary.”

Now.  If I had been in this world, I might have given that a second of thought.  But I was in the Pacific Northwest, swapping Bigfoot stories in a bar known as VD’s.  Truly, Jack’s booming voice was like a boom of thunder or a backfire on a rain-black street.  I heard the words. But they were of no importance to where I was at the moment. (Sorry, baby, it’s why you always get a mention on that thank you page of each book)

So, here’s my premise.  The point of this blog. 
The correct answer to the question on that loop in my head, “What the hell is wrong with you?”


“Not a goddamn thing.  I’m a writer. Live with it.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Wedding Anniversary

Tonight, my husband and I will celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  For the twentieth time.

We’ve lived in Hawaii and traveled the country in a beater RV. We pulled a 35 foot trailer the length of Mexico and set it up on the Caribbean Sea where we spent almost as much time underwater as in a hammock and sat beside giant sea turtles on moonless nights as they lay their eggs in our front yard.  We lived in the high desert of Arizona with five dogs, an abundance of horned toads and a few snakes.  We bought a house in the jungle of The Republic of Panama and backpacked for months through Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, and Malaysia. Poor health, a little planning and glorious luck have now brought us to Northwest Arkansas where we occasionally cuss the cold, always love the friends we’ve made since arriving two years ago.

It’s been a hellava ride. I pray it’s just beginning.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Beuregard and the 'Gator

           I'm doing a rewrite on a prequel to my published novel, Redneck Goddess.  Now, I am the kind of author who cannot write flash fiction to save my soul, but will, if given half a chance fill ten pages with what happens on the protaganists way to the grocery store.  It's both a gift and a challenge.  Ask my editors. 
           The following is what I cut today from the original manuscript of Noisy Creek.  See what you think.  Maybe I'll turn it into a short story.
                                                       Beuregard and the 'Gator
 Uncle Neil is my daddy’s brother’s wife’s sister’s husband.  Not blood kin, but a good half-assed relative.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him in anything but a ratty Braves ball cap and Dickie brand overalls -- the ones with the chimp’s face on the bib. His unruly gray beard is perpetually stained with Red Man juice. He is, despite what Uncle Earl may tell you, the best fisherman in the family.  He is also a close runner-up with Daddy when it comes to the rural art of twisting a story around the truth in a knot so tight and clean nobody is ever going to be able to separate the two.

      For our Christmas picnic here in southern Georgia, Uncle Neil has caught an Appaloosa big enough fill all our bellies.  He won’t tell where he was fishing when he hooked into the monster catfish but he does relate a story to rival Melville

     This is, more or less, the way Uncle tells the story.

     Seems he was fishing in that little bitty skiff of his.  His newest bulldog Beauregard was with him and the pup was fussin’ over a squirrel he’d spotted on shore in a big ole mossy oak, when Uncle hooked into this Appaloosa big as a young hog.  The fish headed deep, Uncle Neil nearly followed before he got the line untangled from the durn dog.  Well, son, it took goin’ on two hours to land that beast and then, when he got it to the boat, there weren’t room in the skiff for the fish and him and the pup all three.

     Uncle pondered on the dilemma for a spell.  Popped him a top or two. The pup had been fussin’ and barkin’ and leapin’ around the boat while Uncle reeled in the catfish, but, once the dog got a good look at that ugly, whiskered face, the dog commenced to whinin' and backin' himself up into a corner of the boat under one of the splintery plank seats. Uncle Neil reckoned that, even if he managed to wedge that catfish into the boat, that dog was going over the side. 

     He drank himself another beer and thought on the situation some more.  An idea began to take shape.  Uncle took off his undershirt, tore it in strips, threaded it through the gills and around the tail and in that way tied the catfish to the side of the skiff. He headed for the dock, real slow like and bein’ right careful of submerged stumps.

      When Uncle spotted a lumpy, dark log ‘bout seven-foot long following in the wake of the boat, he knew a gator’d done seen that catfish and the reptile reckoned he’d found himself a free meal. 

     The gator came on.  Uncle told how the one yellow eye sprinkled with amber watched him.  Unblinking.  He said he believed that gator was planning to help himself to the catfish and finish the meal with the shivering Beauregard.  Uncle grinned.  He scavenged around in his spare tackle box, found both items he was huntin’ while keeping one eye on the dark, lumpy length of the gator.  The lumpy would-be thief edged closer to the catfish. 

      Uncle popped the tape he’d retrieved into his old cassette player and, while Hank Jr. sang about country boys from northern California and south Alabam’, country boys who can survive, Uncle employed the .22 Smith and Wesson he always keeps in that second tackle box. 
     Which is how he showed up at the pier with a whoppin catfish that weighed in at well over a

hundred pounds tied to one side of his skiff and a seven foot gator tied to the other with strips of gray

 and white Dickie denim,and Uncle naked as the day he came into the world. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel

My Favorite Christmas Poem

Child, do not be born
Not here, not now
Manger grass is poison and dust
The road to Bethlehem under siege
Child do not be born
Not here, not now

Unless you are dauntless in love,

And ready again to die

           Sheila Moon

To this beautiful poem I add only,

And he is born into the depth of our despair, in the height of our joy, in the mundane of every day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Redneck Goddess Kindlized

Just in time for Christmas, Redneck Goddess is now available on Kindle.

How a good ole girl from Noisy Creek Georgia ended up with a gorgeous Latin from the Republic of Panama is still a mystery to most of my kinfolk.  Hell, some days even I can’t sort through the twists and turns, bad choices, and undeserved blessings that brought me here.  Of course, a good many of my family would have you believe the joining of a redneck goddess and a dark skinned foreigner is a good bit closer to curse than it is to blessing.

This is a great stocking stuffer for those of you with Kindles under the tree.

 If this book makes you laugh out loud at yourself and your kinfolks, well then, you might be a Redneck.

All’s I can say is, “Hey. Takes one to know one.”

Enjoy the read.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Blues

Maybe it’s the expectation that gets me.  All year I do my best to fake normal when I’m just not feeling it. Oh, stop it.  I don’t mean all the time. But, you know, there are those occasions, those moments, when I know damn good and well I am supposed to be feeling happy or sad or generous and instead I just want to shake the holy shit out of somebody.

But, at Christmas time, it seems that every television commercial, every bell ringing Santa is demanding a degree of involvement with the human race that, much of the time, I am just not capable of giving.  It’s not about the gifts, I give very few of those and, long ago, stopped giving to those who suffer from chronic ungratefulness. It’s not about the birth of Christ.  I love the story of The King bringing long-awaited hope into the dirtiest, most common corner of the world and of us. 

So, what is it about this season that pulls me into a downward spiral?

No, seriously, I’m asking you.

 Does anyone else find this time of year a drain?  Do you walk out the door humming Emmanuel and come home cussing crowds and old people with those stupid coin purses that look like plastic mouths? Anyone else walk into church to kneel at the feet of the baby Jesus and leave knowing damn well your spouse is going to hate, I mean hate, that gift you were so sure when you paid too much for it they’d love? Do you travel hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles to be with family and, approximately four and a half minutes after you arrive, begin counting the hours until you leave?

This year, I give up.  No tree. No decorations. Maybe the season will surprise me and bring a teensy bit of that overpublicized joy.

If not, well. January is just around the corner.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bigfoot Blues

     My grandma and grandpa lived near Peckwan when I was a toddler.  If you aren’t one of the lucky folks who live in the far north of California, you’ve got no idea where that tiny community is. Unless you’re a fan of Finding Bigfoot, in which case you’ve watched Bobo and the team tramp through manzanita and salmonberry bushes, ford the jade-green Trinity River, and wade through primordial forests in search of The Big Guy.

     In the early 1950’s, Peckwan was a tiny community in the mountains populated by local Indians and by my white grandma and grandpa who were there because local Indian Bud Ryerson was Grandpa’s logging partner. If you’re A Believer, you’re ears ought to be pricking up about now.  Ryerson reported the first recorded Bigfoot sighting in the area and his wife, Vera, famous for her woven baskets, reported sightings no less than six times. She was also my grandma’s best friend.

     I spent a month or so each summer with Grandma. Grandpa was rarely home. He and Bud lived mostly in the woods, building logging roads and harvesting trees. It was mostly just Grandma and me in an old cabin on the side of a mountain. Vera lived just around the bend of a short trail, walking distance even for my short legs except for the sows that roamed free, rooting up acorns and occasionally eating some unwary child who got too close to their piglets. That’s the way Grandma told the story anyway.

     I grew up hearing tales of Bigfoot the same way I heard stories of black bear or cougar or wild hogs. One summer -- I must have been four that year -- a young male Bigfoot hung around and spied on the women as they worked in the community garden or hung up their clothes to dry in the hot, dusty air. The women whispered of “desires” and “kidnappings” and occasionally of “rape”; the atmosphere titillating and ripe as they giggled and compared notes of sightings until Grandma reminded them that, “Little pitchers have big ears.”

      The local children and I rode bareback through poison oak on stolen piglets, picked berries and even gathered acorns to store in wooden chests and bury in the creek for the cold water to filter so the women could make acorn flour.  But, I understood, even as a toddler, that the Indian world of my summer friends was different than my white world. Indians saw things I could not. They knew what roots to gather to make baskets, which mushrooms were delicious in stew and which gave you daytime dreams. Their world was both deeper and more narrow than my own. I don’t believe Grandma ever came right out and said so, but I understood that Bigfoot belonged to the Indian world.

    So, when my level-headed, German Grandfather returned wide-eyed from a logging trip with stories of road building equipment strung all over a mountain side and dozens of giant footprints – it made an impression on me.

     My newest novel, Bigfoot Blues, is the result of that impression.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The True Cost of War

Veteran’s Day is over for another year. For most of us. For my husband, Jack, and hundreds of thousands of this country’s warriors, the consequences of war never really end. These combat soldiers and sailors and Marines don’t want our pity.
A free lunch at Applebee’s is grand. Cards and cookies from school children go a long way to promote the healing of old wounds. But there’s a better way to honor these men and women we claim are so important to us and to our country.

Our politicians wrap themselves in a flag colored in someone else’s blood, call for justice and vengeance and plain ole love of country.  That’s fine. War is necessary from time to time. But the next time you have the urge to put a military boot in some countries ass, consider the true, the real cost of war.  All war.
You want to honor our veterans? Do it all year long by recognizing that there is no glory in war.  Not in any war. Ever.  Honor our veteran’s by thinking long and hard before voting for, before even thinking about, sending young men and women into a bloody situation from which they will, quite frankly, never fully recover.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interview with Ruth Burkett Weeks

Interview with Ruth Burkett Weeks

Ruth, the first work of yours I read was your War Between the States novel, Soldiers from the Mist. I was blown away by the absolute authenticity of the characters. I’ve since heard part of your new book Dixie Dandelion and a section of your paranormal romance and you bring the same life to these characters as well.  So, how do you it?

Well . . . to be honest, I cheat. 

It would be a lie if I told you I sit for hours developing my characters—what they look like, where they live, their strengths, their weaknesses, etc, etc.. The truth is my protagonists come to me with their stories. All I need to do is listen and type their words. Soldiers From the Mist, for example, was told to me by the ghosts of the Civil War soldiers that haunted my house.  Their dialogue and personalities are so real because they were real.   My character, Dixie Dandelion was me in a past life, so she’s easy to bring to life.  And Raven and Roark in my paranormal romance, The Rook and the Raven, exist in a higher dimension and are quite alive. 

So, now everyone knows my secret—I “channel” my characters. However, I’m not alone. I think every writer that gets into that groove we writers love so much—the times where our fingers fly across the keyboard trying to keep up with the words and thoughts of our protagonists, when time disappears and we type for hours without fatigue, and when we sit back and say to ourselves, “where did this come from?”—is a form of channeling.  

I know you are more attuned than most of us to the supernatural. You read tarot cards. The inspiration for Soldiers in the Mist came to you, as I understand it, from the ghosts of the historical characters in that book.  I’m fascinated by your ability to see through the veil. Tell us about that gift please.

  I’m not sure if “gift” is the correct word. Everyone has the ability. Some choose to ignore it, others embrace it, and some just forget they have it. 

In my efforts to become more spiritual I attended quite a few guided meditations that took me through quiet meadows, crystal streams, and dark caves to find my spirit guides. I enrolled in the School of Metaphysics and tired to conform to their teachings. None of these things worked. Then I went to a Tarot card class. The instructor told us to keep things simple.  That the secret to communicating with the other side and to card reading was the mental pictures we got when we looked at a certain card. So, I started to just look at the cards and say the first thing that popped into my head. That opened the gate. My guides talk to me through mental pictures. I don’t have to physically see anything.  However there are occasions, when I do see a misty or shadowed figure materialize before me and as well as auras.  I also learned that what others call “imagination” is actually communication from the other dimensions and worlds.  So, don’t pooh-pooh your child’s imaginary friend as it well could be their guardian angel standing beside them.

You have an acting background, right? How are acting and writing the same and how are they different in the channeling of creative energy?  And how has that background helped you in writing and in promoting your books?

Acting and writing are kissing cousins.

In drama you literally step into your characters shoes and take on his/her personalities.  In writing this is called, POINT OF VIEW.   In acting the stage crew builds a town or set with nails, glue and wood.  In writing this is known as, SENSE OF PLACE.  An actor studies his character trying to find the reason he was motivated to do what he did.  In writing this is called, INTERNALIZATION.  Many times when I get stuck on a scene that I’m writing, I act it out. The only difference between the creative energy is that in drama you act out the words the writers thought up.  A writer can exist without an actor but an actor is dead in the water without words to interpret.

 My acting experience gives me a HUGE advantage in promoting my books. I’m not afraid to speak in public in fact I look forward to it.  I know how stand. How to enunciate.  How to “read” an audience and grab their attention. How to never, ever let them see me sweat!

This is a question for Ruth Burkett Weeks the person more than the writer I suppose, but you grew up in North West Arkansas before the rest of the country discovered it for the beautiful place it is.  How has the area changed since you were a kid and do you feel a bit like your home is being occupied by outsiders?

I was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I loved my home town and when marriage took me away to other states and cities I was terribly homesick.  I used to ride my horse on what is now the by-pass, grandma’s house stood on MLK boulevard, it was safe to walk the streets at night. But the quiet little town of Fayetteville has gotten too big for its britches. The University has always played a huge part in Fayetteville’s growth and the politics connected with it have tarnished the town. Hwy 71 looks like the Vegas strip with signs and the god-awful traffic.  I won’t live in Fayetteville now.  I can’t blame people for wanting to move here but I do long for the good ol’ days.

I’m going to steal this question from you because you posed the query but never answered it yourself. If you could spend an hour with anybody in history, who would it be and why?

Oh,not fair!!!!!  Anyone?????????    Hmm . . . God.     I just got to know what HE was thinking when he started all of this.

Describe yourself in ten words or less. Good luck with this task.  I’d take me 1,000 words just to tell how funny you are.

I just laughed out loud. Glad you think I’m funny.

1.       I am a child of God and strive to reflect HIS goodness.

2.       Witty.

3.       Sarcastic

4.       Opinionated

5.       Full of laughter

6.       Intelligent

7.       A little ditzy

8.       Compassionate

9.       Talented

10.   One of a kind

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occam's Razor

In an earlier blog titled “Don’t Tell Ruth” I wrote about a peculiar happening in the downstairs bathroom of the famously haunted Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs.
Well. Now I’m really freaked.

See, a friend from out of town wanted to see the Crescent.  This past Sunday she and I drove up the mountain from Fayetteville and, being as how we’re both ‘woman of a certain age’, our first priority when we arrived at the hotel was to locate a bathroom.  Just as in the original event, the upstairs bathroom was unavailable.  This time it was being cleaned.  Last time the doors of all three seemingly empty stalls were locked.

So this Sunday as on the previous Sunday several months ago, I trooped downstairs to the bathroom in what was once the morgue. It’s now a high-class, perfume-scented spa, which should either exorcise any ghosts or, at the very least, make them sneeze.

Well, but this time the moment I opened the door to the bathroom the hairs on my arms begin to stand at attention. See last time when I stepped in the room, a cold breeze washed over me.  I attributed that to an air-conditioning unit coming on just as I opened the door. Also a yellowing lace curtain fluttered at the window. Again I attributed it to the air-conditioner.  Then, when I flushed the toilet it made a noise like the groaning of a…well…ghost.  Afterward as I tried to leave the room I mistook a permanently walled up door for the actual door, had a moment of panic and then finding the correct door, found it momentarily swollen from the rains and stuck shut.

Okay.  Are you still with me? See this time the entire bathroom was different. First of all, I took a close look around. There is no air-conditioning unit in that room.  Secondly, there’s no lace curtain and no window where I remember it being from last time.

No curtain. No window.

There is a walled in door but the actual door is the sort that swings freely with well over a half inch of light showing at both the top and bottom.

So what the Sam Hill happened?  I admit to having an extremely overactive imagination.  But I’m not so far gone that I don’t know the difference between what I invent and what I actually experience.  So? Ghosts or some hallucinatory experience which occurred only during the time I was in that bathroom?

Which brings me to Occam’s Razor.  I could give you the Latin, but frankly if you’re the sort that’s impressed by that sort of thing you’re probably not a follower of this blog. The jest of the principle is “If you have two equally likely explanations for a situation, the simplest is most likely to be true.”

Therefore, with a heartfelt bow to Ruth Burkett Weeks, I conclude – there are ghosts at the Crescent Hotel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

We all have our dirty little secrets. The funny, the uniquely human aspect of these small vices is that they’re generally not near as secret as we think and, as a rule, there are about ten thousand others privately behaving the same way.
Me? I eat when I’m bored. Or fighting with my husband, or mother, or dog. I graze because I’m sad. I indulge to celebrate a victory. Or to drown my sorrows over a defeat. I nibble when I read, mindlessly munch while watching TV.
You get the picture.
Now.  Since I weigh forty pounds more than I should, there is no way on God’s green earth this behavior is a secret to anyone and yet part of my enjoyment in this activity is the guilty pleasure in pretending no one suspects that the majority of my kick-around-the-house clothes are stained with dribbles of chocolate, and that all my pants are two sizes bigger than they were ten years ago,
Seriously, who do I think I’m kidding?
I’ve tried any number of diet plans. The problem is they stress me out and we all know what I do when I’m stressed. Or, I lose a pound or two and, in celebration…well, you see where this goes. So I’ve come up with a new plan.  I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before.
I’m training a service animal to help me with my eating disability.
When I overeat, snack endlessly, frantically tear apart the cupboard looking for those last two Ritz crackers and the jar of peanut butter – the dog will bite me in the ass.
Hey. This might be my last hope.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


My friend Ruth tells me that people and experiences come into our lives at a time when we need them.  I suspect learning, growing opportunities are always at our fingertips.  We just don't reach toward what we can't yet use.
Most of you know that my husband, Jack, has mild dementia. You may also remember that I am taking a class at the UofA on Indian Philosophy.  You've got to trust me here.  I'll weave all this together before we're finished.
See, here's the thing -- I've been having a rough time dealing with the changes in my hero, my husband.  Yeah, I know.  He's been having a few issues with the new limitations too.  The thing is, it finally hit me, I've been making life more difficult for both of us by mourning for what-used-to-be instead of enjoying what is.
Buddhism teaches that we can never stand in the same river twice.  What I've come to understand is, while I'm in the river, at each moment, I can, and am in fact required, to find pleasure in this transitory experience. This enjoyment of the moment is only possible when I release all expectation.  Because with expectation comes dissapointment which blocks my joy.
It's hard to live in each moment.  Part of me, a big part of me, is surprised at each new change that comes along, wants to scream and rant and fight against the flow.  So, pray for me people.  Light the incense.  Whisper my name in the ear of Jesus and Buddha and the universe. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jumpin' Jehosophat!

A long time ago a Paulist priest told me an allegorical story about and an elephant and six blind men.  Yesterday I discovered that the legend originated in India among the Jainists. Funny how universal truth is not limited by creed.
Here's the story:
Six blind men stumble through the jungle and run smack dab into an elephant.
(Okay, may as well fess up right now.  This tale is going to be told in redneck-ese because, well, because I'm a redneck and I'm the one doing the telling this time around)
So.  Back to the hot, sweaty jungle and the six lost blind men.  Earl reaches up and runs his hands over the elephant's ear.
     "Jumpin' Jehosephat," Earl declares.  "This creature is like a leathery fan."
     "Not a chance," says Bubba from the back of the elephant.  "This animal is like a snake with a tuft of coarse hairs where its head should oughta be."
    "What's the matter with you two?" asks Billy Bob from his position at one of the elephant's back legs.  "This here critter is like nothing so much as a pillar."
      Beau, the oldest of the group, strokes the elephant's trunk and declares with authority, "This animal is sinewy and strong and it's movement is like that of a python."
      From the side of the pachyderm, Jimmy John exclaims, "When I lay my head against it's surface I hear the rumbling of a far away train."
      With his hands wrapped firmly around a tusk, Tiny, the largest of the group, insists, "The animal is like a sword.  Hard with a strong point at the tip."
      The six blind men begin squabbling among themselves, each insisting that the other's have missed the very essence of the animal and only they understand the true nature of the creature.  Before long, the elephant, bored with the process and one suspects a little sad too, wanders off.  When none of the men can convince even one other to see the animal in the 'correct' way, they resort to fists and teeth.  The six men roll on the jungle floor, do their best to show the others the true vision of the newly discovered creature.
      Finally a local priest or monk or, in this story, bartender comes along and finds the bloodied and broken men. 
      "Hey y'all!  Whatya fighting 'bout?"  he inquires curiously.
      The six blind men dust themselves off, wipe away the blood and explain to the newcomer about the animal they've only just discovered. The bar keep shakes his head and tell them, "That was an elephant.  And just 'cause you just stumbled on one that don't mean their kind ain't been around for the ages."
       When the blind men discover the bartender knows about this animal, they insist he enlighten them.
     "Settle our agrument," they beg.  "Which of us is correct in his knowledge of this animal?"
     "You are all correct," the sighted man tells them.  "And none of you is correct."
      At that the blind men fall upon the sighted man and beat him to death.
     Okay.  I just made up that last line, but given the current political environment in this country, that did seem the logical conclusion to the story.
    Here's my point.  We are too often the blind men.  What if Fox and CNN actually listened to each other?  Would our knowledge of the truth be expanded?  What if Christians and Muslims agreed that each of their religions had a small piece of the knowledge of God and that, if they listened to each other, they might all know a little more.  What if men stopped insisting on the strengh of the trunk and women quite criticizing the little tail and instead they came together to learn more about the relationship.
 Ah well.  I can dream can't I?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Censorship and Common Sense

    A romance writer friend of mine is now writing erotica.
    Ah huh.  I see you there wrinkling your nose, giving the little southern sniff of disapproval.  Any minute now you're going to be saying, 'Well, bless her heart." 
    Here's the site  Dollars to doughnuts you're logged in within the next half hour.  And, once you've seen the site, you're going to be a secret follower.  Because we both know you're too worried about what your friends will think to be an open follower and because this is not your daddy's old playboy.  Lunazega is a cyberworld that celebrates female sensuality. 
     So, take a minute, click on the link and go to the site.  But come on back here because what I really want to talk about today is censorship and common sense.
     See, the friend who created this erotica webpage tried to take advantage of a small, free advertising space on facebook with a discrete and tasteful promotion of her new website.  As a result of this attempt, she was banned from that social networking giant.  Not told that, so sorry, but the advertisment is unacceptable. She can never again show her cyberface on facebook under the exact name she origianally used.  Gee.  I wonder how she'll ever get around that taboo? 
      So, in a world where a Disney movie is interrupte by erectile dysfunction remedies and the sleazy beer guy offers his stones to scantily clad young women, a website demonstrating that women are sensual, bless their hearts, even sexual being, that's not allowed on facebook.
     The thing is, censorship is a slippery slope.  We need to use a little common sense here.  Do I want my seven year old nephew purusing lunazega?  Well, no. Though I'd rather he spend his time looking at boudour photos than blasting zombies and ripping out the hearts of god-knows-who on some video game. But then, unlike the makers of violent video games, my friend doesn't market her site to children. 
    Another example of censorship jumped out at me this week.  The writer's critique group to which I belong meets in a church.  We writers bring food for their food bank, we get a place to meet.  Win/win.  Except that some of us in the writer's group do, occasionally use profanity in our work and we've been reminded to not read those offensive words out loud as this, if overheard, might create a problem.  Now writers, as a general rule, hate to be censored.
    However, this strikes me as less about censorship and more about common courtesty.  Do I think it's silly that we can read in a booming voice about a child molestor or a rapist or Bigfoot and that's all just hunky dory, but that some folks find it offensive to hear certain perfectly fine anglo-saxon words.  Well, of course I do.  And it doesn't matter.  Our group is a guest in this church and just as none of us, well most of us, wouldn't go to dinner at our grandmother's home and say, "Pass the fucking potatoes."  Just so, as guests in this particular house of worship, we're respectful. 
     So, is there a point to this tirade?  I think so, yeah.  If we could all just be a teensy bit more tolerant and understanding of each other, maybe the world would be a little better place.  If we could do our best to be a little more loving of ourselves and thus a little less quick to project our faults and repressed urges out there onto others, maybe God, in whatever name we call him or her by, would have a tiny bit bigger opening to pour her love into us.
     And to answer your question.  Yes.  I am fully aware that I started a blog about an erotica site and ended with God.  This ought to tell you something about me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wrong Word

I misuse a lot of words.  Not a particularly great trait for a writer. 
For instance.  The word lightening.  Well, see, for years I used this word to describe those bolts of electricity that flash across a dark sky.  But that word is actually 'lightning'.  Lightening is what you do when you add white to navy to produce robin's egg blue.  My bad.  I still get confused occasionlly.  Then I just write something like 'A flash of light lit up the night sky.'  I think I learned this trick from my mother.  A letter from her came the other day and she'd crossed through physician four times and finally wrote 'doctor'. 
An edit of Bigfoot Blues came back the last time I read at The NW Arkansas Writer's Group and four people had circled hyperthermia.  Evidently I meant to write hypothermia.  Huh.  I learn something at every one of those sessions.
The reason this contemplation of words came to mind is that I got an email from Ozark Writer's League asking for a form to be filled out in order to be listed in their quarterly magazine for having had a book, Redneck Goddess, published and a short story, Ozark Child, included in an anthology.  Well, this is all good and I'll eventually fill out the paperwork.  But the form is labeled Kudos and I'm easily distracted.  So I got thinking. 
See, I always thought kudos meant thank you.  Which, I now understand, it most certainly does not. It means congratulations.  So, all this time I've been using the word incorrectly.
So, when a friend went to the trouble to bake me a cake for my birthday, presented it to me with a smile and said "I baked you a cake!"  and I said, "Well.  Kudos to you."  I wasn't actually saying thank you, I was being an accidentl wise-ass. 
I get a number of expressions wrong too.  Like 'It's a doggie dog world."  That's not right, is it? 
Or, "I need that like I need a hole in my head."  Well,  I actually have a hole in my head.  Several of them.  The expression is supposed to be 'like I need another hole in my head.'  I'm pretty sure that's right.
The other day I told my husband it was raining cops and robbers.  Even I know that's not right. 
This kind of thing runs in our family.  My sister, atleast once in every phone call, tells me something is 'atypical' when what she means is 'it happens all the time.'  I find this hillarious because I love to laugh at others when I catch them in a mistake that I myself make a dozen times a day without realizing it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rain and Death

It's probably just me.  Usually it is.  But the timing was perfect and this image flashed into my brain. I 've learned to keep most of these little inside-my-head scenes to myself, but this one I'm going to share with you.
Our neck of the woods has had nothing but heat-washed blue skies for weeks.  A desolate, weak breeze occasionally rattles drooping leaves, birds hang their heads and pant through parted beaks, farmers pray for rain and cuss the local weather man.  In the city, lawns brown, air-conditioning units hum like giant cicadas, yard birds huddle dazed around dead, leaf-clouded bird baths.  No relief in sight.  We were hopeful for a time, expected relief any day.  Then we gave up all belief in rain, accepted our lot, taught ourselves to breathe shallowly and hug the shade.
This morning I'm on my way to the funeral of a friend's mother.  The lady was in her late eighties, and by all accounts, lived her life as fully as most of us.  This isn't a memorial to tragedy I'll be attending.  Still, her daughter, husband, friends will mourn.  They'll open thier eyes to morning light forgetful of their loss and be hit with the knowledge of her death again at full awakening.  They'll turn toward the phone to tell her some tidbit of trivia and realize, mid-stride, that she's gone.  Grief will overtake them for long, dark moments.
It rained last night.  Not the tease of a drop or two that evaporates before it can properly kiss the parched dirt.  No.  This was real, wind shaking the trees, moon racing black scrimmed clouds - rain.  Life giving water softening, penetrating, nourishing the good earth.
Pay attention.  Here's the tiny ephiphany for the day.
Might not death be to life, what that rain was to our thirsty land?  Is it possible that we go, day by day, year by year, until we grow accustomed to the hardship, until the longing for relief feels like foolish belief in a child's fairy tale?  Is not faith, whether in God, or rain, or Bigfoot - is not all faith - a choice we cling to, glory in, regardless of the last time our faces were kissed by proof?
I have a picture in my head of my friend's mother.  She's holding hands with Jesus, dancing on strong limbs in the warm rain, yearnings and hopes long forgotten, satisfied and fulfilled.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I'm not good with change.  It seems that, with each passing year, I am worse.  With is unfortunate since the world is changing faster than ever before.  Or maybe life is like that calculus class that you get behind in for just one week and are, thus, lost forever unless you can double up and figure out that one equation the whole rest of the class seems to depend upon. 

But, probably I'm just getting old.

Most of you know by now that a month ago my first novel, Redneck Goddess, was published.  Go to for a gander at this humourous look at the struggles of  good, loving people to respond to change.

Lots of change in the world in general of course, and in my life in particular.  First, of course, there's the book.  I'm now doing book signings at retirement homes, libraries, the homes of lovely, generous friends - pretty near anywhere I can get people to stand still long enough for me to read to them for three minutes.  My husband is my secret weapon in selling Redneck Goddess.  So, that's good, I guess.  Though I am already nostalgic for the time when I could sneak to the store for a twenty pack of fudge bars, or wolf down a Braum's burger without him dragging people over to meet me and get my autograph on the book he just sold them.

More good change in my life.  I have a new grandson in whom I am falling more in love each day.  Y'all are lucky I don't believe in giving out personal information of any kind about my children on the internet.  Otherwise you'd already be looking at baby pictures.  He is beautiful and watching my son adore this child is an unexpected joy that I am lapping up with a spoon.  Of course, new love means new fears.  It's been a while since I've let myself be this vulnerable to loss.

So, this morning as I sip my coffee and pray the air conditioner keeps winning its struggle with this heat, I thank God for change and pray earnestly that He grants me the strength to enjoy every minute of it and not succumb to the desire to hide my head under the covers and pretend the world is today exactly the way it was yesterday.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't tell Ruth

A couple of weekends ago, four of us went to the Crescent Hotel for a weekend of escape and celebration.  Ruth Burkett Weeks was signing copies of her wonderful book Soldiers from the Mist on Sunday.  Claire Croxton had just signed a deal to have three of her books published. (That woman is SUCH a showoff) Jan Morrill had signed a contract with an agent who is delighted with her novel Broken Dolls.  And me, well, as you know, I am thrilled to have Redneck Goddess published.

Well, so we go up to Eureka Springs and stay overnight in this haunted hotel.  I mean, plaques  everywhere you look telling about ghost sightings, newspaper articles about hauntings, statues of the visiting dead, ghost tours on the half hour.  Seriously the place is old, gorgeous and slightly scary.  Now, I lean toward the prove-it-to-me side of the paranormal discussion.  However, Ruth is a true believer and I do think that she has a deeper connection with the mystical than most of us.  Plus, I love the woman and I'd never do or say anything to disrespect her.

That night we sit on the balcony under the stars and listen to the clop clop of horses hooves on cobblestone streets.  Ok, maybe it wasn't cobblestone, but it's my story and that's what it sounded like to me. Basically we're transported into the past while Ruth tells us about her encounters with ghosts while staying at the Crescent.

"That rocking chair right there, it moves sometimes with no wind and no living person in it."
"I felt something like a cold breeze pass through me when I turned the corner."

You get the idea.  So, between the atmosphere and Ruth's stories, I'm a teeny bit spooked when we go to the room.  So we laugh and talk and have us a grand ole time until we fall asleep.  Next day is Ruth's book signing.  I'm sitting in one of the high backed velvet chairs in the lobby, tickled to be part of Ruth's posse, feeling smug that I've not succumbed to fear of ghosts.  Right about then is when I have to pee. 

Now, here's the thing.  Ruth has told us a half dozen times NOT to use the bathroom in the basement.  Where the morgue used to be.  Where they found bodies walled up in the concrete.  Where ghosts walk freely.  Well, no problem, I'll use the bathroom on the lobby floor.  So off I go.  Except, when I get there, both stalls are locked.  No sound.  No breathing.  No tinkling of pee.  Nothing.  I stand way back and do that deal where you nonchalantly peek under the door of the stall to check for feet.  No feet.  I wait.  And wait.  And now I really do have to pee.

A sentence jumps fully formed into my head.

"The ghosts are chasing you downstairs.  To the morgue."

Well, too bad for them.  I raised three boys as a single mom.  What damage could a ghost do me? 

So, down I go.  The old morgue is now a fancy spa.  History's a funny thing, ain't it?  Anyway, the shop's open and filled with fancy soaps and oils, but there's no one there for me to wave a cheery 'Hello.  I'm going into this bathroom now.  Come looking if you don't see me come back out soon, eh?'  So I open the door and step inside.

And, just at the moment I open the door, the window air conditioner kicks on and billows the white lace curtain away from the window.  A funny coincidence.  Couldn't be anything more.  No reason for my heart to do a line dance in my chest.  Both stalls are empty and I go inside and do my thing.  A basement toilet in a very old building - when I flush the thing it sounds like a ghost is jumping up out of the swirling water and into my...well, the sound scared me is what it did.  Still, nothing has happened that can't be explained rationally. 

I wash my hands.  Admittedly it didn't take me long to finish this task, but still, no big deal.  It's those darned stories of Ruth's that have got me skiddish.  I hurry to the door and pull the handle.  It won't open.  Now.  It's humid and the wood has swollen.  No way it could be anything else.  Nonetheless, I struggle with the door for a good three seconds before it budges and during that tiny little lifetime, a chill like someone running an ice cube down my spine reminds me that we are soooo much deeper and complicated than rationality can explain.

I did not tell Ruth any of this.  I mean, that woman will twist and turn these perfectly logical events until she's convinced me that ghosts chased me downstairs and then ran a bony finger up my spine.  You know she will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Redneck Goddess is HERE!!!!!

 Redneck Goddess is here!  My book is in my hot little hands and ready for yours.  I'm delighted with the way it looks and a little overwhelmed that the fun world I created in the quiet privacy of my little office is now out there for anyone to enter into.  You can get a good idea of what the book is about by clicking on book trailer at the top of this very blog

My webpage should be up and running in a few days.  Then you'll be able to buy an autographed copy using paypal.  In the meantime, email me - - or buy it without the autograph on  Heck, flag me down on the street, knock on my door at midnight, send me a note by carrier pigeon.

Please tell other people about Redneck Goddess too.  Building a following without the national exposure of a big publishing house is hard work and I appreciate every single person to whom you talk up the book.  You can also go on and leave a review.  Most importantly, please email me and tell me how you liked the read.

Take care and happy reading,
Pamela Foster

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Arkansas Invite

A year and a half ago my husband and I relocated to northwest Arkansas.  Cupped in the rolling Ozark hills, the area is home to the U of A Hawgs, Walmart, Tyson Foods, and some of the prettiest land east of the Mississippi.  We bought season tickets to the Walton Art Center and, for the first time, had the opportunity to see high quality Broadway plays, dance performances and music concerts.  The people are friendly and the livin' is good.

Our favorite part of living here though are those inevitable Arkansas Invites to a barbeque or potluck at 'The Farm'.  These invitations generally come with ten page instructions for how to get to the country home of the party giver.  The paved road ends in the middle of page one (generally at the intersection of Lee Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard) and is followed by, and I'm not making up much of this, instructions that include, but are not limited to:

Hang a left at the Baptist dunking pond.  You'll see the bullet pocket sign nailed to the sweet gum that leans out over the gravel road.  Do not follow the metal crosses nailed to the fence posts that point the way to the Chruch of God immersion pool.  If you come up on a chain stretched between a windfall hickory and a chain saw art statue of Jesus, you're at our only gated community and y'all missed the turn.

At the purple house with the giant neon razorback on the roof of the barn, turn right.  Use caution as the piglets like to lie in the mud holes after a good rain.  If you do hit one of the little porkers, press the accelerator.  The owner is generally settin' under the oak tree, a .30-06 balanced across his overalled lap waiting on some darn fool like you.

Bear left at the warning spray painted on a yellow sheet and stretched above the road.  The threat says, 'Don't even think about coming any further,' but you don't need to worry.  That's my uncle's house and he's invited to the party so he'll give you a free pass today.  If he does happen to stop you, don't get out of your vehicle if he's drunker than usual.  The goober's got a big ass dog named Hunter Thompson that he's trained to sic balls.

Slow down at the Pentecostal Church of the Risen and Trimphant Living Jesus.  The field beside the church is chuck full of rare fainting goats.  Honk the horn and the whole mess of 'em'll fall over on their sides.  Wait long enough and every last smelly critter will resurrect and go on about their goaty business.

Do not veer to the right at the Nathan Bedford Forrest Museum of Fine Arts and Confederate Paraphernalia.  The reason ought to be self-explanatory, but suffice it to say that a couple of Yankees a year disappear off the face of the known earth right around in this area.  If you do happen to get caught in this vortex, drop references to the War of Northern Aggression and make mention of your personal deep mistrust of the Muslim currently holding the office of presidency of the great U. S. of A.  It probably ain't gonna help you none, but, sure, give it a shot.

Directly after you pass the stone house with the 'Knife Sharpening and Dawg Training' sign, you'll come up on the Second Baptist Church.  Keep going, that's not your turn.  Go on past the Central Baptist and, pretty soon after the drive-thru liquor store, you'll come to the big brick First Baptist Church.  You're almost there now.  Another two blocks and you should see the placard advertising 'Gun Smithing and Meditation Classes - Tuesday nights 6:00 and Prayer Service with Child Care - Wednesdays 6:30.'  This is the One True Baptist Church of Jesus Christ the Beautiful and Victorious. 

Hang a sharp right and you'll see our house set up back in the pines.  Honk the horn, we'll lock up the dogs.

Friday, June 3, 2011


     I'm learning that part of being a writer is accepting and acting on constructive criticism while releasing destructive critiques before they can burrow under my skin and produce an irritating, life-blood sucking mental itch.  Difficult as it is for me to believe, not everyone is going to love every single word I write.  Shocking, but true.  The only way to avoid some negative feedback is to hide my words in the back of the closet, safe and secure from any bad vibes, where not another soul on the face of the earth will see them.
     This week I've been particularly susceptible to scratching those inevitible negative opinions with my own insecurities until they become raging sores just out of reach, under my skin.  So, lying in bed, the words of others a loop in my head, I came up with a solution.  I'm going to share it with you because I suspect I'm not the only writer who allows one negative comment to bury a dozen words of praise.

     I have a goat.  A Nubian.  Her short, wiry coat is deep brown and she has a small swirl of hair in the center of her flat forehead that she loves to have scratched.  Her ears hang down to below her whiskered chin and are the soft, worn consistency of the blankie my oldest son kept for years. 
     Her name is Gracie. 
     Oh, and did I mention?  She has wide speckled wings.
     Here's what I love most about Gracie - in the coldest part of the night, she comes when I call her.  Her nubby horns, short and rounded, but horns nonetheless, butt against my chest like a very large, hooved cat.  Her eyes are liquid amber flecked with ebony chips.  Her amusing ba-a-a is easily translated.
     "Yo-o-o're   no-o-ot   perfe-e-ect!"
     Hard to bemoan the fact when she puts it that succinctly and so damn cutely.
     Once my smile, or sometimes even a low laugh of self-derision, has broken a chain in the endless loop of my self-flagellation, Gracie Ba-a-as a time or two more, mostly for pure joy, I think.  I sometimes join her.  No particular reason except that it's hard to take myself seriously when I make that noise.  Try it.  Ba-a-a ba-a-a.  See.  It's fun.  Joyful even.
     Then I go to work.
     With blood red ink on heavy Emily Post quality stationary, I write the wounding words that I previously welcomed into my pysche.  I study them one last time.  To be sure there's really nothing in them I need to keep.  Sometimes there is.  Most times, no.  Then I choose an emotion for the way I feel about those barbs.  This is the hard part and Gracie often resorts to more head butting to push the correct description up from my center.  Frightened?  Worried?  Grieved?  Angry?  Whatever the word, Gracie and I find it.  That word I write with black ink in huge, block letters in the center of the page. 
     By now, the goat's tail is twitching and she's making small anticipatory ba-a-as.
     I cannot over-empathize how freeing I find that sound.
      The heavy paper unfolded, open and exposed, I feed it with its burden of words into Gracie's eager, whiskered mouth.  Her eyes roll back in her head in ectasy.  She chomps contentedly.  Gives me an occasional head butt if I eye her meal too covetously.  She's carefull to eat every bit, never misses a word.
     I give her one last scratch between her horns.  She opens those fantastic wings, rises into the air, circles the bed once or twice, and disappears into the cold night sky.  I usually watch until she's disappeared among the bling of stars.
     Then I roll over and go to sleep.  Tomorrow's another day and I have so-o-o much to write.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop Interviews

     The Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop meets Thursday nights at 6:30 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
     Velda Brotherton and Dusty Richards mentor the group and do their best to keep twenty or so self-proclaimed creative types in line and on track.  Both these authors have a gift for putting thier finger on the exact spot where a writer's work has slipped off the tracks. They also know how to encourage and bring out the best in a fledgling author.  In addition to these two much published and talented authors, the group has an abundance of gifted writers and editors who share freely of their knowledge and expertise as well as their opinions and preferences.
     I sent emails to these authors and many of them took the time to respond to my questions.  The following is a compilation of their answers. (If any of you would also like to participate in this round table interview, just answer the questions that appeal to you and email me at

1) What's the last experience you had that lit a creative spark and led you to write?

Joyce Zeller
     I'm writing a history of Eureka Springs now with a July deadline.  Go the idea of doing a time travel/ghost possession romance from the research of this book.
Jan Morrill
     I recently read a newspaper article about the last geisha in one of the small northern towns of Japan.  She has survived four tsunamis.  I knew there was a story there, and now I'm writing a fictionalized version.
Rebecca Holbrook
     I did a morning interview with a couple of people for an assigned magazine article.  That afternnon, the creative spark led me to write an essay about a totally different subject.
Greg Camp
     Having a deadline (writers' group meeting, for example) gets me going.  Schlepping my way through a dreary workday makes me want a different job.  But really, writing is a kind of addiciton, and I'm certainly caught.  Or should I say that when the Muses sing, I'd better listen?
Dusty Richards
     I had an idea about an old rancher needing help and these two ladies of the night rode out and told him they wanted to be his "cowboys".  I think it could be hilarious.
Ruth Burkett Weeks
     I went to my publisher's website and read about a paranormal anthology that she is doing.  I had the beginnings of one already started and this spurred me to finish it.
Duke Pennell
     The last experience that lit a creative spark for me was the wind almost blowing my hat off my head.  I was in a place I didn't want to be (walking in my 9 to 5 job) and my hands were full.  My left held the lunch cooler and the laptop/book bag, my right had my coffee cup.  The wind ships the hat down over my eyes, my right hand automatically comes up to grab what is trying to become a sail/Frisbee, and I throw coffee in my face!  That was a wake-up call for me, in more ways than one.  Working for somebody else sucks!  So, her I am--creative sparks flying--editor-at-large!  How can I help you?
Pamela Foster
     The last ten seconds of a music video burned an image into my mind that I could not shake.  A short story grew from that image.
Patty Stith
     I was working on a story and got side-tracked by publisher requests for rewrites on a couple of other novels.  I'm hoping I'll wake up in the morning and will be inspired by the rain so I can get back to work on the current work in progress.
Nicholas W. Payne
     I get a lot of inspiration while I'm driving listening to my ipod.  Certain song lyrics inspire me to write a story or to add something into a story I'm writing.  I try to keep my eyes and ears open, always searching for inspirado.
Velda Brotherton
     When the editor of a local newspaper emailed me and asked if I would write a series about the old cafes along highway 71 during the 50s.  Editor's requests always inspire me to write, but other things do as well.  After I read a bit in Flashback (the Washington County Historical Quarterly) about a man who came home from the Civil War to find his wife had remarried.  He kicked her and her new husband out, giving them a horse and a choice of one of their four children.  That inspired my short story Hard Way Home which is now at Smashwords to be published as an ebook.  My ideas come from everywhere, including my own imagination that often works at 3 a.m. when i wake up and can't go back to sleep.  I've written entire novels from those kind of inspirations. 

2) Given your druthers, would you write fiction or non-fiction?

Nicholas - Fiction.  Always fiction.
Dusty - Fiction
Ruth - Fiction!  I love to make up stuff without having to prove it.
Pamela- Fiction.  Even when I tell the truth, it gets tweaked and twisted a bit.
Greg - Yes
     While I enjoy writing both non-fiction and fiction, I have to say I prefer the latter.  My degree is in engineering, so I am a detail-oriented person by nature.  Non-fiction (I'm writing a reference book right now titled "The Writer's Guide to Guns) requires making sure every word is accurate, every photo correct.  That attention to the minutiae is daunting for some but I find satisfaction doing it.  On the other hand, I can exercise the same discipline in my fiction writing plus I get to allow my imagination to go on flights of fancy that take me to strange places and even stranger people.  Fun!
Rebecca - I like both.
Velda - I love making up stuff, but a lot of times I'm inspired by a true event or person.

3) What's the most difficult thing, for you, about writing?

    Distractions like lawn mowing, writing out bills, and not to go trout fishing.
     The most difficult thing about writing is being undisturbed enough to maintain focus.  One of my greatest strengths is my ability to concentrate.  I've found I can bring to bear a level of attention much tighter than most.  The drawback to that, and every strength is also a weakness, is that I don't multi-task at all well.  That means I only get to do one thing--what was that, dear?
Yes, Dr. Oz has a very good point there. Thanks for telling me.  Now, where was I?  Oh, yes--at a time.
     Finding time, motivation, peace and quiet - that order.  Often my characters wait until I have all of those before they'll sit down and talk to me.  Either that, or they talk to me while I'm driving or in the shower, and I have no means to record their conversations.
     Once I get started and things are flowing, I don't want to stop.  I have to because there are other things that need to be done and my arms and neck start hurting.  I'm always afraid that if I stop writing, the flow won't come back.  It always has, so I shouldn't be that concerned, but I still freak.
     Finding enough time without distractions, like eating, sleeping, laundery.
     Finding the time.  My house looks like a wreck, but I have a published book!
     Writing.  Followed by editing.  Getting published is a whole other area of difficulty.
     Finding uninterrupted time.
     The most difficult thing for me is putting the images, scenes, thoughts, characters, and motivations I have in my mind on paper the way I imagine them, so others get the same picture.
     Finding enough time to get everything done I want to do.
     Insisting on the time for myself.  No phone calls, no answering burning questions from my love.  No falling under the the spell of Chesty, our clown dog.  Just keep my fingers on the keyboard and stay in that other reality I'm creating.

4) What kinds of books do you read?  Do you have a favorite author?

     I read a lot of suspense, detective, forensic stuff.  I like it deep and dirty.  James Lee Burke and the late Robert Parker are high on the list, but I like David Morrell and Thomas Harris a lot for they go to the dark places and I like to follow them.
     Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers.  Patricia Cornwell, Ted Dekker.
     I like best books set in the United States in my lifetime.  That said, if the prose is good, I'll read any genre.  I check out a dozen books or so a week from the Blair Library.  At the moment I'm gorging myself on James Lee Burke.  Best all time favorite has got to be Steinbeck.
     I enjoy reading women's fiction and historical fiction.  My favorite author is Jodi Picoult, because I like the way she writes from different points of view.
     I read for escape right now...lots of stress in my life, so I'm into action/adventure, mystery, romance, regency, etc.
     I read all genres.  My favorite author is Robert A. Heinlein, called "The Dean of Science Fiction Writers."  My first love was science fiction.  I learned to read on "Classics Illustrated" comics, and my favorite was H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds.  Shortly after, I expanded into print-only books.  I discovered so many wonderful worlds created by fabulous (and some not-so-fabulous) writers and I think a part of me never really left those worlds.  Hey, it's sci-fi--you can split yourself between several places at the same time!  The part of me that stayed on Earth found other genres--historical fiction, westerns, spy novels, adventure, romance, horror, fantasy--and I found there's something in all of them for me.  But the more I read, the more I realize how good some writers are...and how much help most of us need.
     You do enjoy easy questions, I see.  But turning off the sarcasm, I enjoy writers who wrote before the twentieth century (Tolkien and O'Brian were born out of their natural time), except for the modern writers that I also enjoy.  My list is likely too long for the space.
     I'm ashamed to admit that I don't read by author.  I pick the book from the cover and the blurbs on the back.  Mystery, romance, fantasy, and everything in between.  However, I am not a big fan of non-fiction.  Yawn!  Boring!  Unless it is creative non-fiction like Velda Brotherton's Fly with the Morning Dove.
     I love history and studying other cultures and religions.  As for fiction, I'd have to say the genre that I read the most is suspense and/or mystery.  Elizabeth George is an all-time favorite.  I like authors such as John Burdett (detective in Thailand,) Ellis Peters (life and times of a monk in 12th century Wales,) Ken Follet (WWII and 12th century England,) and Laura Joh Rowland (17th century Japan.) they incorporate history and/or culture into their novels.
     Romance authors I enjoy include Rachel Gibson, Pamela Morsi and Lavyire Spencer.  I like characters who are flawed, who overcome their weaknesses and save the day or get the guy.  Gorgeous, 18 year old heiresses who win the hearts of devilish, but equally gorgeous and wealthy Earl bore me to tears.  I'm a strong believer that frumps need love too and stories about their path to happily-ever-after are much more interesting.
     Good ones.  Mostly history.  Read some entertaining fiction.  Most in my genre.
     I read a little bit of everything, most recently I've been re-reading a lot of my old favorites and those literture classics.  My favorite author, if I must only choose one, is J.D. Salinger.

5) When do you write?  Mornings?  Evenings?  Sleepless nights?  When there's nothing on TV?

     I write when I can.  I feel like I write best in mid-morning through late-afternoon.  Astonishingly, I've discovered that when I write and I'm not sharp--say, in the middle of the night when I can't sleep and I'm beat--I still end up with something on paper!  I can always revise it (and revise, and revise, and...), but if I wait until I feel like writing...well, there may not be anything there to revise.
     All in all, I've learned the right time to write is any time I can!
     My best time to write is very early in the morning.  However, now that we have a puppy, that's not working so well, because that time is hardly uninterrupted.  Now, I write when I can squeeze it in.  That's why I haven't been getting much writing done lately.
     All day into the night.
     I write mostly in the evening and a lot really late at night/into the early morning.  But usually just whenever the muses chose to visit me, regardless of the time.
     Mornings.  I wake up, grab something caffeinated, sit at my computer and write.  Don't even think about contacting me before noon.
     I work full time so I write at night.  But I'm a night owl and would pick that time of day even if I didn't have a job.  There is just something magical and mysterious about deep, dark night.
     Mornings.  Coffee and writing being my drugs of choice.
     Whenever I can get the cats and the dishes and the essays to grade and on and on to shut up.
    Mornings until about 11:00.  Then the creativity wanes and I edit.
     Whenever I can find that "uninterrupted' time.
     I write afternoons every day six days a week.  I may do writer scut work in the mornings.  I read if there's nothing on TV cause I'm writ out by six o'clock or so.

6) Tell me about the book or project you are currently pitching or marketing.

     Just finished by first novel, Broken Dolls, and am querying and querying and querying agents. 
     I am putting the finishing touches on my non-fiction book about miraculously surviving advanced stage ovarian cancer.  At the end of each chapter, I will have supportive recommendations for patients as well as their family and friends.  I already have two written endorsements, and will be receiving at least two more from physicians.  There is a specific publisher I have in mind, and I'll begin the "pitching" process soon.
     If You Want a science fiction story, complete at 140,000 words, about an officer, Thomas Cochrane, in the space fleet stationed at Barnard's Star who is given his first command.  With the help of an engineer that he has known since childhood, a friend from his days at the Academy, and a scientist, Cochrane discovers a plot by a distant empire to conquer the space that is controlled by humans.  My inspiration for this story was Patrick O'Brians series of novels that began with Master and Commander.
     I am promoting my first published novel, Soldiers From the Mist.  It is an out-of-the-ordinary Civil War, ghost story, love story, and adventure all wrapped up in one great book.  The story is unique because it is channeled information given to me by ghosts that haunt my house.  I have included my experiences and actual events that occured with them in the book.  It is a must read that will leave the reader joyful and full of hope.
     I have a contemporary romance that I'm pedaling to an e-publisher and a women's fiction I'm sending to a publisher in May.
     I'm trying to become known as an editor/publisher as well as an author.  I offer editing that incorporates teaching as well as manuscript editing.  People tell me it's something I have a gift for.  Also, I'm the creator/publisher of the ezine Frontier Tales, which has enabled me to publish thirty-seven authors so far, with many more to come.  Lots of these stories would not have had a chance to be read if not for Frontier Tales.  I'm pretty proud of that.
     I'm marketing Redneck Goddess, due out this summer.  While working in Central America, young southern woman falls in love with a gorgeous Latino.  When she brings him home to her rowdy, opinionated and loving family, the grits hit the fan.  It's a fun southern romp.
      I'm pitching Bigfoot Blues.  The daughter of a Bigfoot hunter, this protagonist is torn between her redneck heritage and her desire for something more than owning a bar known locally as VD's.
     The Hidden History of Eureka Springs for History Press in S.C.  I'm pitching my Science Fiction novel, The Alien, and posting a Christmas Romantic Fairy Tale on Smashbooks: Christmas for Annabell.  (Annable's a dog.)
      I have a few stories sent to various fiction magazines, awaiting a rejection.  But, as far as marketing or pitching, nothing.
     A new series about a Texas ex-ranger.  A young lawyer in Fayetteville in 1870.
     A mountain man in 1820 in Arkansas and now the old man and the two Dove cowgirls.
     Currently, I am totally concentrating on getting books published to ebooks.  I have several unpublished novels I want to do there, as well as the six published books on my backlist.  This is a huge project and will probably take me at least a year to get them all up and selling.  I'm convinced that with the proper promotions this can be a place where I'll acquire more readers than one can imagine.

7) Why do you write?

     I write, hoping to affect someone with my story.  And often, in finding my characters, I also find myself.
     I write because it can be carthartic.  It's just something I enjoy, and I hope to make a career of.  I love the feeling of getting into the flow of a story and it seemingly starts writing itself, although it happens so very often.  Writing is like making love to a beautiful woman - it's exciting, passionate, then afterwards you find out you weren't very good.
      Well, obviously it's not to get rich.  The voices in my head tell me to.  I think most writers will say that.  I'm addicted to digging deep into my crazy brain and pulling out crazy characters who are hammering on the top of my head and screaming in my ears.  Besides, if I didn't write, I'd drive my husband nuts talking out all the things I imagine.
     I write because I'm an explorer.  I want to see the places I can't go, interact with the people I can't meet, and do the things to live the experiences I can't have.  Writing allows me to do all that.  When I write, I'm free!
     I've always had stories going on in my brain.  As a kid during the summers, I'd weed a two-acre garden and make up stories to pass the time.  My family has a tradition of storytelling.  We're a rowdy bunch of folks, but when my grandmother started telling a story, the entire clan would go silent.  We'd sit on the floor in front of her and soak up every word.   Even now, several family members are known for their stories.  During reunions, there's a request list --Stith Clan Greatest Hits.  If it tells you anything, I'm the calm one in my family.  When I was in elementary school, I started writing down the stories that were floating around in my head.  I finally decided that I should try this for a living.  So far, the hours suck and the pay is even worse.  But, I have faith.
     Why do people drink?  Why do people eat?  I have to write to get all these good stories out of my brain.  It is too crowded.
     I write because I love the process and because when I create something to which other people respond, I feel less alone in the world. 
     I write to keep young.  Creativity keeps the brain churning and the heart beating.
     Samuel Johnson said that no one but a blockhead ever wrote, except for moneyt.  I'm in it for the wealth.  Oh, and I don't seem to have much choice any more, writing being an addiction.
     To escape into a world of my own making and possibly with the anticipation of entertaining a reader or two.

       Any of you who didn't answer the email, please, send me your responses.  I'll do an update. 
     Any mistakes in grammer or spelling or any other gaping mistakes in presentation, they are entirely my fault.  Those who know me, don't need to be told that I am technically challenged.