A Shot at Love – Releasing 10.2.2018

I’ve been sharing about the upcoming release of The Christmas Heirloom. It’s a novella collection with four generations of stories from Kristi Ann Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, me, and Becky Wade. We each wrote stand-alone stories tied together by a Luckenbooth brooch that’s passed from mother to daughter down through the decades. It was SO much fun to finally get to read all the stories together. Reading the first two stories was like discovering a genealogical goldmine for my heroine, Fleeta Brady, and reading the final story gave me a peek into Fleeta’s future. Fun! Now, to hopefully whet your appetite for this collection, I thought I’d share the opening pages of A Shot at Love–my contribution. Fleeta was orphaned at a very young age and was taken in by an aunt and uncle in West Virginia. Her gift is a knack for shooting. Enjoy! Fleeta hunkered low, careful not to rattle the crisp, fallen leaves all around her. She didn’t want to be seen or heard. Albert was meant to be coming around the crest of the hill, pushing deer toward the spot where she waited. Fleeta wished her oldest cousin would still hunt with her, but he was too interested in girls these days. Had his eye on that prissy little Rebecca Howard. Fleeta sighed and flexed her right hand, keeping alert and ready. The family needed the meat. Especially if she was going to take Bud Lyons up on his […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Apple Butter Time

A nearby neighbor gives me free run of his apple trees. This is the kind of neighbor I like to have! While the “eating” tree has failed to produce much of anything this year, the “cooking” apples are just about right. That means I’ll soon be making applesauce and apple pies. I tried making apple butter once, but I’ve had really good apple butter and you just can’t duplicate it on the stove top (or in the crock pot!). So, apple crumb pie it shall be. Speaking of really good apple butter–more than a decade ago my husband and I had breakfast in Oxford, MS, as part of a Southern Foodways conference. On the table that morning was a jar of apple butter. As soon as we tasted it, we agreed it was the BEST we’d ever eaten. For me, it hearkened back to the apple butter we used to make in Aunt Bess’ huge copper kettle. The secret? Oil of cinnamon. None of this ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick nonsense–it was pure oil of cinnamon paired with looooong sloooow cooking that gave the condiment it’s depth. I put that jar in my purse and once home, read the label carefully. Turned out it had been made in Snowflake, Va. So, next time I drove from NC to WV, I swung by Snowflake which was only a little out of the way. You’ve heard jokes about small towns. Well, the […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Remembering Miss Anne

It’s funny how something can be wonderful and deeply sad at the same time. One of Appalachia’s sweet ladies is at home in heaven today. Earlier this year I wrote about my friend Anne–Queen of the May. Her 96th birthday was on May 1 and last night she slipped into forever. A child of Kentucky, Anne would tell stories about growing up on a farm, attending a one-room school, spending time with her grandparents, briefly working in New York City, and raising her girls. She was a bit of a muse for me. And she still is. I’m happy for Anne today. And I’m sad for her family who loved her so. I’m sad for all of us who knew Anne and will miss her and I’m sad for those who never got to meet this sprite of a lady with dancing eyes who loved nothing so much as a good book. That was the thing about Anne–books. I think that as soon as she learned to read she picked up a book and only put that one down long enough to pick up the next. When visiting her she was always surrounded by stacks of books. If you checked out books from our church library, odds were excellent that Anne’s name would be on the card already. She read everything and was happy to tell you what she thought. She read my first novel while I was still shaping […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Take Two (the summer that wasn’t)

Man friends, I’m so crazy right now that I basically gave you a repost of one of June’s blogs today. Shoot. I even used the same picture! Well, that simply won’t do. So here’s something new. It’s been hot lately even in the often refreshingly cool mountains of Appalachia. But before you complain about the heat, let me tell you about the summer of 1816–the summer that wasn’t. The first hint of something off came on May 12, 1816. Now, the final frost date for my area in NC is May 15, but it’s a pretty rare occurrence. In 1816, the twelfth brought a heavy frost deep into the region. After a brief warm-up, the first week of June brought more cold. A traveler in Pennsylvania wrote,  “This morning was very frosty and ice covered the water ¼ inch thick. We had a brisk breeze from the northeast.” On June 6, it snowed in Albany, NY. In July and August folks saw river and lake ice in Pennsylvania. On August 20 and 21 frost formed as far south as Virginia. A newspaper in Virginia reported, “It is now the middle of July, and we have not yet had what could properly be called summer. Easterly winds have prevailed for nearly three months past . . . the sun during that time has generally been obscured and the sky overcast with clouds; the air has been damp and uncomfortable, and frequently so […]

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Mother’s Day in WV

I’m at home in West Virginia this week to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and visit with my dad. Which means you’re getting a re-post related to mother’s and daughters . . . Maybe mom and I will tackle a couple of these! I was winding down the other evening and came across an article link on Facebook with 40 things every mother and daughter should do together. Cool. I clicked. I got about 12 deep and gave it up. Several activities included drinking wine (Mom doesn’t drink). Most were expensive–spa visit, trip to the big city. And some just made me laugh. My mom is SO not doing yoga with me. So, here’s a list for Appalachian mothers & daughters. Ten things (cause who has TIME for 40?!?) they should do together. Snap beans or pare apples on the back porch. Ideally, you should have a metal bowl or a dented pie tin for the leavings. And Mom should peel her apples with a paring knife while Daughter uses a vegetable peeler because she’s “modern.” Make grape jelly. This will begin with picking Concord grapes from the vine and will proceed to a hot stove, a jelly bag, and finally to Mason jar lids happily pinging away. If your fingers aren’t purple, you didn’t do it right. Pick wildflowers in a meadow. Well, okay, in the edge of the meadow because Dad will holler if you mash down […]

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