Two Months Until Novel #5

My next full-length novel will release on November 5–less than two months away now. I’m excited to introduce readers to the Harpes and McLeans–feuding families in southern West Virginia. I found it oddly refreshing to write a character who’s . . . well . . . a little bit terrible. Inventing Serepta McLean was the most fun I’ve had writing […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Seventh Generation

If you’ve followed my blog very long, you’ve probably seen mention of the fact that I grew up on a farm that’s been in my family for seven generations. It’s a big part of why I write about Appalachia and have such strong nostalgia for the past. Today I thought I’d share a new poem reflecting on a piece of that history . . . SEVENTH GENERATION How many greats does it take to reach back into the days when a cousin named Electa rode a broke down old horse four days across the mountains to find her wounded brother? A great plan indeed. The bullet broke the bone and lodged there. He ought not to have lived, but he said no Rebel bullet would kill him. So, instead of dying, he sang songs. Surely there was a rock of ages and a sweet hour of prayer, blessed assurance and great is thy faithfulness. Electa found him. Nursed him and brought him back a way that seemed familiar now. Today, paved roads hide that trail. Houses and cars a great washing up of flotsam in the wake of the past. Standing here, on land that’s been passed down and down and down, it’s easy to count back from seven. It’s easy to imagine that I, too, might manage something great.

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Appalachian Thursday – Bee Hunting

Honeybees aren’t native to WV, but they came to the state with European settlers and, escaping their hives, decided to settle in themselves. Locals soon discovered the sweet treat inside the wild hives and began developing techniques for discovering bee trees. Of course, bees aren’t what you’d call sneaky and when traveling home to their hives they travel in a […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Dog Days

You’ve almost certainly heard this time of year referred to as the “dog days” of summer. But do you know WHY it’s called that? I always thought it’s because this hot, muggy time of year isn’t hardly fit for a dog. And I had a professor in college who talked about the humidity of late summer making stepping outside feel like stepping into a dog’s mouth. An apt metaphor. But turns out there’s more to it than that. Turns out it’s because this is the time of year when the sun is in the same part of the sky as Sirius – the Dog Star – part of the constellation Canis Major. In late July Sirius actually rises and sets with the sun. And way back in the day, folks thought the star actually added to the heat of the sun. So the dog days are the 20 days before and after Sirius and the sun line up–July 3 through August 11. Which, ironically, is often the hottest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, a scientific explanation should never prevent us from embracing some good old-fashioned superstitions. So here are a few related to the dog days of summer: During this time snakes are blind and will strike at anything. If it rains on the first dog day, it will rain every day afterward. Dogs are more likely to go mad during these days. Sores and wounds […]

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