The Novella Collection Trend

My mom was annoyed when Appalachian Serenade, the novella prequel to Miracle in a Dry Season, released via e-book ONLY. Like any good grandma, she wanted to hold that baby in her hands.

And as of next summer, she’ll be able to do that thanks to a novella collection being released by my publisher. Appalachian Serenade will be included with four other novellas from the likes of Karen Witemeyer and Regina Jennings for a sweet, romance collection all in one book.

We’ve talked before about novellas and how some folks love them and snap them up like little appetizers while others just find them too short for satisfaction. I was on the too short side of the discussion for a long time . . . you know, until I was invited to write one!

Now I’m beginning to appreciate novellas as a way to sample an author without committing my limited reading time to a full novel. And collections like this one are sort of a Whitman’s sampler of authors.

I’ve noticed lately, there are quite a few of these “sampler packs” on the market.

  • There’s A Match Made in Texas from Bethany House with four stories loosely tied together by overlapping characters;match in Texas
  • Autumn Brides from Zondervan with three novellas (there are also Summer, Spring, and Winter collections); and
  • The Most Eligible Bachelor collection from Barbour Books with NINE stories to keep you entertained.

Those are just a few I know of off the top of my head.

They take me back to my high school days when I was hooked on short story collections (Ray Bradbury was a favorite!) and consumed them like popcorn. I loved that I could read one or two just about anywhere, anytime. (Of course I was WAY more focused back then! I think I was carrying less stuff around in my head.)

So what do you think about these collections?And if you love one author and buy a collection she’s included in, do you think the other stories will inspire you to find some new favorite authors?

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Appalachian Thursday–Signs of Autumn

playing in leaves

Playing in the leaves circa 1978 or so.

By some miracle, the nights have turned off cool enough to sleep with the windows open. Even though it’s still AUGUST. This pleases me deeply. And it gets me to thinking about how fall is right around the corner.

As I get out and take Thistle for walks, or write with the windows open, I’m definitely seeing signs that autumn is stirring, sifting through her closet, and debating which of her russet skirts to wear this year. So I thought I’d take a moment to list the blessings of autumn in Appalachia:

  • Cool, crisp air that makes you want to breathe deep and turn your eyes to the sky.
  • That brilliant, blue sky!
  • Gorgeously colored leaves standing in sharp contrast to an infinite expanse of blue.
  • Those leaves that land on the sidewalk and leave rusty outlines behind.
  • Building a fire–in the fireplace inside or the firepit outside.
  • Scuffling through crunchy, crackly leaves.
  • Apples! Apple pies, applesauce, apple chutney, apple cake . . . not to mention pumpkin everything!
  • Goldenrod, joe pye weed, ironweed, maiden’s bower, and asters growing along dirt roads.
  • Milkweed pods!
  • Finally being able to wear sweaters again.
  • Trading the lawn mower for the rake.

I could go on. What’s your favorite thing about fall?

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Dratted Details!

Thistle not at all worried about the details . . .

Thistle not at all worried about the details . . .

I’m over on SouthernBelleView today talking about those nit-picky details that can so easily trip writers up. Like blond and blonde–do you know which to use when??

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Appalachian Thursday–Apples

applesOur neighbor has five apple trees. Two of them offer up perfectly crisp green apples excellent for eating on a fresh, dewy morning. Three are red varieties that make lovely applesauce, crisps, pies, and cobblers.

And I’m welcome to pick all I can carry. An embarrassment of riches, indeed!

So today, I’m offering you a recipe from my 1982 “Cooking Down Country Roads” cookbook that I rescued from my grandmother’s kitchen. This recipe is by Mary Mason of Moundsville, WV. Enjoy!

SWEET APPLE DUMPLINGS
2 T soft butter
1/4 cup shortening
4 T milk
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 apples, peeled and cored
4 T sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together butter and shortening, add milk, flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. Roll out dough and cut into 5-inch or squares. Put 1 apple in center of each square. Fill each apple with sugar and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Pinch pastry around each apple and place in a large baking dish. Cover with sauce.

Sauce:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1/4 pound butter

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour sauce over dumplings. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until dumplings are golden brown.

Some vanilla ice cream would not go amiss . . .

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What Monsters Hide Under YOUR Bed?

Under the bed

I got too warm the other night and kicked the covers off, then dangled one foot over the side of the bed in the cool darkness. At which point I discovered that my imagination is alive and well. Within moments I wanted to pull my foot up again before that imaginary, childhood monster living under all our beds reached out to snag my ankle.

I know there’s not really a monster under my bed, but it was surprisingly hard to just let my foot hang there–monster bait.

Which got me to thinking about all the other imaginary monsters hiding in my life that I like to keep well fed and thriving.

  • There’s the ItsAllUpToMe-asaurus – This monster whispers that if I don’t do things they either won’t be done right or won’t get done at all. And then the world will surely end.
  • There’s the JustAHobby Man – This guy claims my writing is little more than personal entertainment and says being published is a fluke. He likes to whisper that once this third book is done, I will be, too.
  • And, of course, there’s NoOneReallyLikesYou-enstein – This monster claims that if I don’t keep everyone happy, no one will like me anymore. He pushes me to say “yes” to everything and to never rock the boat.

There are others hiding under my bed, but these guys probably stick their snaky arms out the most. Of course, they’re all liars. They hide under the bed for a good reason–they can’t stand the light of day.

I’m betting I’m not the only grown-up who still has monsters under the bed–or maybe hiding in the closet–or behind the bureau. How about you? Which monsters send shivers down your spine late at night when your defenses are down?

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Appalachian Thursday–Old Folks

Growing up with some of my favorite old folks--my grandmother and great-grandmother!

Growing up with some of my favorite old folks–my grandmother and great-grandmother!

At my church here in the mountains of NC we call homecoming, “Old Folks Day.” I LOVE this. Although there has been some push back in recent years from some of the folks who felt like they were beginning to fall into the “old” category.

I see the name as referring to all those people–living and dead–who have brought us to the place we are today. And I really, really like those people.

I guess my daddy raised me to have respect and admiration for the “old folks.” I went to a church where most of the congregation was edging on toward senior and although we few kids had our own Sunday School class, we interacted with everyone. And we visited the old folks regularly–my great-aunt and uncle, grandparents, neighbors–they were just people who happened to have been around longer than me. Sometimes a LOT longer.

Some of my dearest friends have been or are old folks. Yesterday I went to visit Anne (93). We had a lovely chat about books and farm life and what we like to eat. She was a librarian from Kentucky who spent a year working in New York City–what stories!

The day before that, we attended our friend Bill’s (94) funeral. I knew many of his stories, but got to hear for the first time a line from a letter he wrote shortly after he met the woman he would be married to for 64 years. “She has a barrel full of good sense,” he wrote. Indeed she did.

I think the people of Appalachia tend to have a deep respect for their elders. Maybe it’s because they know how to do things the modern world has forgotten. Like cut hay with a scythe. Or make a spring tonic. Or sit on the front porch and watch the night fall as the whippoorwills call.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to have “old folks” in my life–even though it means losing them all too often. And I very much hope to earn that name for myself one of these days. I promise not to protest.

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SouthernBelleView: Waiting, waiting, waiting

waiting rockCome join me over on SouthernBelleView today where I’m discussing that necessary evil in life . . . WAITING!

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