Vinegar & Char

This seems to be my year for collections. While I don’t have a full-length novel coming out in 2018, I do get to be part of two collections releasing on October 1st and 2nd. I’ve already written about The Christmas Heirloom novella collection releasing 10.2.18, but Vinegar and Char is something else altogether. When it comes to writing, my first […]

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Revisiting My First Love – Poetry

I had a wonderful time at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest this past weekend. I had a chance to teach a class, sit on a panel, and interact with readers (and writers!). Some of my favorite things to do! On Friday I sat in on a poetry workshop with former Wisconsin poet laureate and Kentucky native Max Garland. It took me back to my first love–poetry. It’s such fun to sit with a group of other folks who are passionate about stringing words together in a meaningful way. Which made me realize I’ve never shared my favorite poem (of mine) with you. So here you go–one of my earliest published poems that appeared in Appalachian Heritage way back in 2006. SAD STREAKS AND WEEPY MERINGUES Illness, death, disease and even divorce bring out the mixing bowls, the spoons, the flour, the sugar and the speckled brown eggs. Good women converge in kitchens on far sides of town, all for the expression of love and sorrow, sadness and hope. They consult stained cookbooks, faded cards and memories sharpened with use to concoct something that will stave off the hunger for knowing what comes next—what comes after we get through this . . . And when the pound cake isn’t quite done, with a soft, moist middle that invites us to sink down and find an almost peace— When the sugar in the meringue doesn’t quite melt, and caramel drops bloom like […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Spring Tonics

It’s been a roller coaster leading up to the first few days of spring. We’ve had temperatures in the 70s and then . . . snow. Back and forth, spring has been a terrible tease this year. Of course, it’s not as bad as when folks had to wait for spring to eat anything that resembled a fresh vegetable. Those were the days when country folks indulged in their favorite spring tonics. My great-grandmother would send Dad out to gather young mullein leaves each spring when he was a boy. She dried them in the oven, then crumbled them. She smoked two pipes full and that was her spring tonic. I don’t know if she enjoyed it, or if it was more of a medicine, but it allegedly perked her up. I think most of us are in need of a spring tonic now and again. The idea is to purify the blood and enliven the body after a long winter of being cooped up inside. Some popular spring greens for tonics included dandelion, poke, and ramps. Sassafras and spice bush were used to make teas. And then there was the classic Appalachian spring tonic–Sulphur and molasses. Each has definite health properties, although I wonder if the main purpose of the molasses was to help get the Sulphur down. Regardless of whether it got the blood moving, it would definitely cause other systems to “move.” As for me . . […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Deer Season

It’s almost holiday time in West Virginia. Oh, sure, there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the REAL festivities begin on Monday. The first day of deer season. Many schools are out all week because, well, no one would come if they were open. Teachers, students, staff–they’re all out “celebrating” deer season. So how does one celebrate? If you’re a hunter, it’s obvious. You go hunting. But what about non-hunters? That was always me. I know plenty of women who enjoy hunting, but I don’t happen to be one. Even so, the week was a fun time for me growing up. First, we were out of school. Second, there was plenty of company. Friends and family would come to the farm to hunt, eat, nap, and tell tall tales. Which meant we got to indulge in junk food, questionable conversation, and interesting schedules. And when everyone else was out hunting, I got to curl up in a cozy chair and READ! One friend of Dad’s worked for Lays and would bring us an entire case of potato chips. We NEVER got potato chips. Hunters eat packaged cookies, processed lunch meats, soda–it’s kid heaven. There’d be a fire in the fireplace, funny stories we didn’t always understand, early mornings, and as soon as someone got a deer–venison tenderloin seared in butter. Here’s one of my favorite deer season recipes. My dad is the master of this one. Mmmm, I could eat a plate […]

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