Appalachian Thursday–An Author’s Anniversary

One year ago yesterday my first, full-length novel officially released to the wide world. Now, one year later, there are two books out there with my name on them not to mention a novella (which is still free if you’ve been meaning to download it!). And a third book in the editing stages which should release next year completing the Appalachian Blessings Series. So what have I learned in my first 365 days as a published author? I knew this writing gig wasn’t going to be all that glamorous, but it’s even LESS glamorous than I thought. Sitting behind a table of your books at Barnes & Noble desperately accosting strangers who say things like, “Are you the author?” will take any delusions of grandeur right out of you. When I went to conferences and experienced writers told me not to get into writing for the money, they meant it. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s amazing that I get paid for writing, but after the IRS is through with me . . . well. Let’s just say we’re not booking that celebratory, month-long tour of Europe any time soon. On the flip side, tithing my writing income has really been fun. I’ve gotten to send some checks that felt like a big deal to me to some ministries that were kind enough to say it was a big deal to them, too. I actually do better writing […]

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Appalachian Thursday–Feet of Steel

Growing up on the farm, we pretty much took our shoes off on the last day of school and didn’t put them on again (except for church) until summer ended. I ran through the yard without a thought for bees. Walked across the rocky driveway without flinching. Hopped from rock to rock in Laurel Fork without slipping. (Well, maybe once or twice.) The bottoms of my feet were like rawhide. At night, Mom sat my brothers and I one by one on the toilet lid and wash our feet with a warm washcloth. It wasn’t always worth the trouble of taking a bath, but she would at least scrape the grime from the bottoms of our feet. Once upon a time, people in Appalachia went barefoot to save their shoes. They didn’t have 30+ pairs lost in the back of the closet. Even my dad, when he was a kid, had limited shoe resources. But when I was a young it was nothing more than a preference. I remember begging to go barefoot in the spring when Mom would decree it too cold. There was a joyous freedom in feeling soft grass between my toes. Now I wear shoes to walk across the kitchen tile. I have to work up my nerve to dart barefoot into the yard to fetch one of Thistle’s toys. (I mean, there are bugs and stuff.) I wear “water shoes” to go in the creek and consider wearing flip-flops […]

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Happy WV Day (two days late)

Saturday was West Virginia Day. Don’t worry, gifts aren’t expected. (Although one of those little black bears carved out of coal is always nice.) We had friends over for dinner and served food seasoned with WV sea salt (no, it’s not a joke–check out JG Dickinson Salt Works.). There was a bouquet of rhododendron (the state flower) on the table and we listened to a Kathy Mattea CD (she’s a native). The shortbread peach cobbler was baked in a cast-iron skillet and, yes, I did sing, “Oh Those WV Hills,” much to my husband’s mortification. But we West Virginians are nothing if not loyal to our home state. I’m astonished to realize that I’ve now lived in the Carolinas longer than I lived in West Virginia, but once a hillbilly, always a hillbilly. And proud of it. I’ve shared this poem before, but in honor of my home state’s birthday, here it is again. An ode to the Mountain State, previously published in Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. MOUNTAIN MAMA There is truth in the trailer park and honesty in the car on blocks. Starvin’ Marvin and “as seen on TV” live cheek by jowl with the likes of handmade quilts and apple butter; old-time music and the oral tradition. Some folks say it isn’t True, isn’t the way things used to be. But lose a grandfather to the mines, an uncle to the war, your mother to a […]

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