I'm honored that my short story "Crash" has been published by Still: The Journal. Here's a link to the story: "Crash."
Still: The Journal was co-founded by author Silas House and poet Marianne Worthington. The journal's mission is to publish the "finest in contemporary literary writing of Central Appalachia, or the Mountain South."
Also from the website: "Our emphasis is on the literature of the Southern Appalachian region, and we are committed to publishing excellent writing that does not rely on clichés and stereotypes. We want to feature writing that exemplifies the many layers and complexities of the region or that is written by an author with a connection to the region."
My husband handcrafted a card and I wrote a letter which we sent to Good Mythical Morning (Rhett and Link). It's all about the Clinch River. Their assistants opened it on Mail Call Live and so far it has 20,000 views. Check it out below to see the cool Clinch River card he made and to hear them read the letter I wrote.
I'll be speaking to members of the Lost State Writers Guild in Bristol, Virginia on June 7 at 11:30 a.m.
I have a well-worn copy of The Secret History on my bookshelf. It’s written by Donna Tartt and, as far as I’m concerned, is far superior to her recent novel The Goldfinch.
From the book’s jacket: “Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.”
That description makes it sound like a cheap thriller, but really it’s a thoughtful, philosophical work of literature.
The Secret History is an intriguing study of otherness, narrated by a young man looking from the outside in. The narrator is Richard Papen, an aimless college student who has escaped his lower-class life in California and becomes enamored of his wealthy classmates.
I think one of the reasons I like this book is that I identify with Richard’s background. I was raised in the mountain coalfields of Appalachia by poor parents. Many of my fellow students at the University of Virginia were wealthy—some were filthy rich—and the lives they led confounded me. My college years were marked by a distinct feeling of being out of place.
Richard spends most of the novel watching his classmates without investing his true self in his relationships with them. I understand that as well. Often I felt as if I needed to be someone else in order to be accepted. Certainly that’s a feeling a lot of college students have, but I think those who “grow up hard” experience it with such intensity that they struggle throughout their undergraduate journey.
Here’s an excerpt from The Secret History.
The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. Of all books. Of all time. I've read it at least fifty times.
My uncle gave me my first copy of the trilogy plus The Hobbit when I was eleven. I was hooked immediately. Although I've owned several versions, including some collector's editions, I still have that first set. The tattered covers are held fast by clear tape.
There is so much to love about Middle Earth. Growing up, I daydreamed a lot about living in the treetops of Lothlorien or navigating the dark passages of Moria. I developed crushes on Faramir and Legolas. I rooted for Sam Gamgee and wept for tired, pitiful Smeagol. I pondered the origins of Tom Bombadil and his lady Goldberry. I shuddered when Frodo and Sam crawled through the Dead Marshes.
LOTR taught me important lessons about loyalty and true friendship, perseverance, courage when all seems lost, and integrity. It also showed me that hope and light can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Here's a link to the official online bookshop for Tolkien.
Recently I called on Facebook followers to give me ideas for this blog.
It was suggested that I should blog about needing ideas for my blog, making the process part of the final product. So that's what I'm doing.
Believe it or not, it's a lot easier to come up with ideas for short stories, poems, and novels than it is to think of interesting topics for a blog. A blog needs to have the right balance of content.
One purpose of this blog and my website is to share news with readers, including news about upcoming publications, speaking engagements, and purchasing information. Herein lies the balanced content problem. I could make every blog post a sales pitch: Buy my books! Attend my reading! Click on this link! That wears thin. After all, who wants to be subjected to a constant stream of sales pitches?
Because I don't want to bore or alienate my readers and followers with self-serving content, I try to include other interesting topics. For example, I have a series of posts about authors I love. Other posts include articles about Appalachia or advice on writing. Sometimes I share excerpts from my work or links to complete pieces.
I don't know if I've achieved the right balance, but that's my aim. I guess what I'm saying is that I want this blog to be a site you enjoy visiting.
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