Friday, July 29, 2016

Pesto Time

Fortunately the deer don't seem to like basil so I had a gracious plenty to harvest and turn into pesto.

4 cups basil leaves (tight packed- you can substitute Italian parsley for one of those cups)
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the unrefrigerated sort)
1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds or hulled sunflower seeds)
4-6 large cloves of garlic, peeled.

Whir in food processor or blender. Pack into half pint jars.  This recipe makes 2 1/2 to 3 half pints, depending on how tight you packed those leaves.

This stuff freezes exceptionally well. Two or three years and it's still good. Keeps well in the refrigerator too - weeks, maybe months, but not years.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Own Southern Strategy

There are so many great Southern summer sandwiches -- pimento cheese, BLTs, plain old mater and mayo -- I love them all but yesterday it was a cucumber sandwich that called my name. Cold, crisp homegrown cuke on homemade light bread with homemade mayonnaise. Absolutely perfect.

One step toward feeling cooler.

Another step was to vow not to engage in Facebook arguments with people who comment on political things I post with zingers like "Killary should be in jail," or "Obummer is a Muslim," or "Michelle is really Michael."

My own Southern Strategy is, henceforth, to reply to such comments with a simple "Bless your heart." (This is the time-honored passive-aggressive response of a Southern Lady who chooses not to use bad language and say what she really thinks. I seem to remember my Yankee sister-in-law using "God love him" in much the same way.) 

In extreme cases, I may comment that I'm praying for the person.

In this heat, argument is tiring and with folks so far gone, it's futile. I could block or ignore them but the Bless Your Heart makes me feel better.

Maybe there should be an emoticon . . . maybe there already is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

How You Can Help . . .

The manuscript is in my agent's hands. It will be several weeks before she gets to it -- I'm far from her only client.

I mentioned that there were some ways you all could help me as my agent begins the task of shopping my book around. 

The thing is, I'm switching from mystery to what I fondly believe is literary fiction and I have no track record there. Plus it's been five years since my last book. 

Still, it would be wise to assume that potential editors/publishers might look at my online footprint and other places to get some idea of what sort of following I might have.

I am awful at asking for stuff but I'm going to do it anyway.

Here are some things that would be helpful:

Reviews (if you liked one of my books) on Amazon or Goodreads.

A LIKE on my Facebook author's page. Friend me on my personal page.

Comment on my blog now and then. Or just click on it.  My post on the 20th soared to almost 2,000 clicks -- when the blog normally perks along at less than 500, I haven't a clue what happened on the 20th.

Buy one of my books. DAY OF SMALL THINGS, being not really part of the series, might make a nice holiday or birthday gift for a friend. A new book, it should go without saying.  The resale of used books does nothing for my "numbers." (I am a great fan of used books but we're talking here of what will make my tired old self look like a desirable property.)

If you are a library patron and they don't have my books, ask them to order some. 

These are off the top of my head. Other things may occur to me but any of these would be gratefully received.

I really appreciate those of you who offered to help! I'm in unknown territory now . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Yesterday I typed those magical words to my Shelton Laurel novel -- years in the making.  I have to proofread the last three chapters I just finished and by this afternoon should be sending the manuscript off to my long suffering, patient agent as a Word doc attachment. 

Justin and Claui came up with Prosecco and flowers to help in the celebration.  I'll talk more tomorrow about what comes next. (Hint - It will be slow, glacially slow. And I could use your help.)

Friday, July 22, 2016



I didn't go to the Asheville library yesterday as on Wednesday I found Col. Allen's pamphlet hidden away in the Genealogy Room at the Madison County library.  

So I spent yesterday doing so very necessary watering and household chores in the morning then settled down to knock out Chapter 40 and Col. Keith. (41 through 46, as well as the Prologue and Epilogue, are done, just leaving 47 and 48.)

It's 1869. Col. Keith is in jail, awaiting trial for his role in the Massacre (as well as some other excesses.)

But the weird thing is, I've spent so much time with this fella that I'm beginning to like him a little. And he's beginning to speak like a human being instead of a self-important stuffed shirt. 

Maybe it's the threat of execution hanging over him. Maybe it's just that I'm understanding him better. Maybe with time I'll understand Trump supporters.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Every Day, It's A-Getting Closer. . .

So, those crossed out numbers are the chapters I've read to myself and tidied up where necessary.  40, 47, and 48 are not yet completed, awaiting the trip to the Asheville Library. E is the (brief) Epilogue which may have a bit added after my research trip.

This little notebook is full of questions and answers -- some not exactly legible. As I neared the end of the book, I had to remind myself of children's names and ages and whether various ones called their parents Pap or Daddy or Papa and Mommy or Mama or Mam.

I still have things to find out and today I'm off to the Marshall library to find out what stores were in Marshall in 1861 and was there an undertaker. And what churches were in Shelton Laurel during the Civil War.

Tomorrow, if nothing don't happen, it's off to the Pack for a look at Col. Allen's pamphlet. Then to finish those three chapters!

If things go well, I will send this novel off to my agent next week and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Deep In . . .

It was a fine family time on Saturday -- two sons, one daughter-in-law, a niece, a nephew, and two great nephews, wielding wizard wands. Great food and wine and talk in abundance with five dogs weaving through the crowd. (The cats chose to stay in their own room.)

Still three chapters to finish -- and they will require a trip to Asheville's Pack Library. I had thought to go today but I got started on my careful read through and realized that I had marked throughout the manuscript items that needed verification. So I decided to finish the read through before going to the library and to keep a careful list of questions to be answered.

I got through thirteen chapters yesterday -- it's slow going, reading aloud to oneself and it will likely be Thursday or Friday before I go to the library.

But the good news is, I'm really liking what I'm reading: themes are emerging; transitions are working; and the five main characters seem to have individual voices and I'm understanding them better.

Here's a brief bit in the voice of one of the five: Marthy, the so-called idiot girl who is mute but far from an idiot.

The big man comes back, grinning at me and Judy, and hands me a scratched up wooden canteen that sloshes as I take it in my hand. I duck my head thank you then I tap my finger on the canteen and look a question at him.
“You keep that canteen, honey,” he says. “There’s plenty more where that come from.”

A chill runs over me as I understand what he is telling me -- that this canteen was taken from a dead Reb – and my fingers tingle as I brush them over its flat side. I look close at it and see that amidst the scratches is some letters and, turning the canteen to the fire, I can just make out the words DIXY and E.B. Ray. I wonder who E.B. Ray was – was he old or young? Did he own slaves and was that why he had joined up? Or was he just one of them fools who loves a fight? Maybe he didn’t have no say in the matter. Once they started conscripting, less a feller had the money to buy a substitute, he had to go for a soldier whether he wanted to or not.

I flat my hand over E.B. Ray’s name and picture him – maybe a young man, not much past being a boy, shot down and all his belongings stolen. And for what? Even though he was the enemy, at least as far as us here in the Laurels would see it, I am sorry for him. And I think . . . if it was Davy . . . I take hold of the carved bone ring hanging from the string around my neck, the ring Davy made for me, and the tears begin to fill my eyes.