Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why I Write the Way I Write

Why I Write the Way I Write
My novels have many of my own experiences in them and probably more than I even realize. Many of the characters are a combination of people I’ve encountered through-out my lifetime. Only I know who they are, but I must admit some must be coming from my subconscious, as I’ve asked myself, where did they come from? The character and voice of that character sounds familiar. So to try to sue me over any resemblance would be futile when I don’t even have a clue myself.
   I’m a people person. I wasn’t born that way. I sort of evolved into myself. I am one of those people who you might say never met a stranger. I’ve been caught many times staring at people in public, and I don’t mean to stare. It maybe the person’s profile that I’m attracted to for a portrait, or a photo, or may even be bits and pieces of a new character to a novel I have in mind. However, not even one of my characters is solely from one person. Each character is formed from the masses of people I’ve known or have come in contact with over the years. For instance, their looks, their characteristics, the way they walk, or their actions, so one character maybe a vortex of numerous people.
   I was born and raised in Oklahoma. After my second marriage, my husband and I moved to St. Louis and lived there for about a year and a half. We then moved our family to Mississippi. In 2006 we built the home of our dreams out in the country. We are surrounded by the woods. It is very peaceful here. We are so far out in the boonies that we had to have a well dug for water. The internet and television is by satellite. We do have electricity though. : ) I love the southern way of life.
    I love writing southern Gothic mystery/thriller, a dab of romance, and a lot of humor. That's also the kind of books I love to read. John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. I also enjoy Billie Letts and Fannie Flagg.

The novels below are in the order they were published.

Happy Valley (A Southern Country Novel) the first in the series was fun to write. Some of Jo’s characteristics are my own as are most of my main characters. She wasn’t popular in school and was picked on by many of her peers. Today they call it bullying. I'm thankful to all of those who bullied me in school. If it hadn't been for them, I'm might not have the thick skin that I do today.
   Although Jo graduated high school, I did not. I dropped out after I'd finished tenth grade. I later studied hard and acquired my GED. I didn't finish college though. I continued to study, mostly from books I'd checked out at the library as continuing college was out of the question for me with having four young children at home and one vehicle. Since my husband was providing for our family, he had dibs on the car.
   I was never stalked by a serial killer like Jo, at least not to my knowledge. I have, on the other hand, felt evil following me around all through my childhood and youth. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood exactly what that was.
   Jo’s guardian angel, Joseph, I can relate to. I’ve only seen my guardian angel once, but I know he’s always there. I was in the hospital close to death when he appeared to me. Of course, I recovered.  Joseph was mostly behind the scenes, unseen, but always foiling the serial killer's attempt to do Jo harm.
   Jo’s search for love was another relatable characteristic. Many people have that same need, especially if they’ve come from a very dysfunctional home. Don’t misunderstand me. I love my parents. God placed me in their care for a reason, and I trust His judgment. It'll all get sorted out later.
 Jo's relationship with God is on and off as it sometimes is with people in real life. We all get busy with our day to day lives and some times God is placed on hold until an emergency arises. Sad to say, but with many people that's true. I'm guilty of this, too. We all learn as we go.
   Jo is an artist. I’m an artist. Jo loves photography. So do I. (I do my own cover work for my novels.) Jo overcomes in the end. I like to think that I’ll beat out the evil that has pursued me all of my life in then end of my own story.

Mississippi Gambler (A Southern Country Novel) the second in the series shows a wilder side of Jo. There are quite a few tales I could share here about myself—but I won’t.
   She has a loss in this novel that I can relate to. It’s a loss I’ve never overcome and don’t expect to in this lifetime. The hurt is too deep. I just keep on moving forward. That’s all I can do. Her wild side is her way of running from her emotional pain. She also takes a big gamble in returning home. From the time she'd left home, she'd gambled with her choices and then later with her life.
   The main plot in this story is another thing I can relate to—as a victim, not a perpetrator. My childhood was not a pretty one. Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse is horrendous. I feel for any child that has suffered. I feel for those who that have suffered as children and can’t seem to overcome it in their adult lives. It takes courage and the right kind of support to get through it and be able to function and go on to have a happy and functional life.

Faded Rose was the first novel I had written. I didn’t publish it first though. It sat in my computer for so long that I had to make changes to it by adding cell phones and clothing descriptions. I wrote Faded Rose as a form of therapy. Rose’s first marriage crumbled similarly to the way mine did. Of course, the main characters were exaggerated as well as the plot. I was never charged with murder nor did I know anyone who had been murdered. But Rose, on the other hand, has many of my characteristics. She worked hard and had dreams and eventually let those dreams go by the wayside and just lived from day to day. She didn’t believe in a happy ever after.
   I've had a very similar encounter with Mother Nature as did Rose, and as a result of that, I had nightmares for years.

Check out Faded Rose's book trailer on YouTube.

A Vanilla Christmas has the fear of being heartbroken again and the fear to trust again, but yet Lily is fearless in the face of so much more. I can relate. There are some days that I pick and choose what I’m fearlessly up against and other days where I’d just as soon cover my head and stay in bed. I prefer the days that I pick the fight against my invisible foe and win. Those days I hit replay to Roar by Katy Perry over and over again.

Famous in a Small Town (An Entering Southern Country Novel) the first in the trilogy has very little that I can relate to. Famous in a Small Town’s story is dark in so many areas that it frightened me, but I had so much enjoyment in writing it. I loved inventing the plots and the twists and the turns. I spent many sleepless nights envisioning them. Of all the novels I’ve written so far, Famous in a Small Town is my favorite. I especially enjoyed writing Callie’s POV (point of view). Although she is not the main character, her role is vital to the plot in this novel. After I’d finished the novel and after it’d been edited, I read it through one final time. I couldn’t believe the character, Callie, came from my head. It had me shaking my own head and wondering how such a character lived inside of my head. Was she someone I invented or someone from my subconscious? Hopefully, someone I invented. She is, however, a force to be reckoned with.

I’m currently working on several projects. One is the third in the series to A Southern Country Novel and the other is the second in An Entering Southern Country Novel trilogy. Also I should be wrapping up Remember When soon.

I've had several friends who know my life story approach me and say that I should write a biography of my life. My response is always the same, "I'd rather not relive it, thank you." But I do relive it a piece at a time in my novels.

Please check out Famous in a Small Town book trailer video on Youtube. 

Life would be so very dull without humor. Laugh and laugh a lot. It's good for the soul.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Casey Belle's Tenth Birthday

Today is Casey Belle's tenth birthday. Casey, as you can see, is a Jack Russell Terrier. She is my friend and companion. I can tell her anything, and she's good to keep a secret.
My husband and I almost lost her when she was a year and a half old. Someone poisoned her, but we managed to get her to the vet in time. She was hospitalized for five days. She now has pancreatitis. I have to watch everything she eats and try to keep her away from stressful situations. She can only have all-natural dog food and treats. The first year, after that nasty incident, I cooked her meals. She refused to eat the prescription dog food from the vet. I couldn't blame her. It smelled nasty and looked weird. I made large batches of her meals, kept it refrigerated, and then heated up her portion. After a year had gone by, I put her on an enzyme supplement and then gradually introduced her to all-natural dog food. When she had become adjusted to it, I switched her completely over to all-natural dog food and then started adding all-natural treats.
I noticed when she would have a pancreatic attack (usually brought on by stress), she would self-medicate. She would eat mint from my pots of herbs on my patio. So she has her very own pot of mint now.
Today, on her birthday, I made her a batch of Pumpkin Cookies (Recipe Below). I bought her a stuffed squeaky toy. The label said Hedgehog, but to me it looks more like a Armadillo. She doesn't care as long as it squeaks.

Casey Belle’s Pumpkin Cookies (Dog Biscuits)

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Blend eggs and pumpkin together; add salt, ginger, dry milk, and flour. Add water as needed. The dough should be stiff. Mix with your hands. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thick on a lightly floured sheet of waxed paper, and cut into desired shapes. Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side, then turn over, and bake another 20 minutes.
If you'd like to friend Casey Belle and leave her a birthday message, she has her very own a Facebook profile.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Famous in a Small Town Book Trailer

"Famous in a Small Town" Book Trailer is now on YouTube. Special thanks to MELTDOWN for supplying the music "Raven's Flight". You guys rock!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Famous in a Small Town ~ An Entering Southern Country Novel

Famous in a Small Town
An Entering Southern Country Novel

The quiet town of Cypress, Mississippi is turned upside down when a former citizen, Raven Sawyer, returns for a funeral. Raven’s fictional novel goes viral when the town folk realize that she’s the author, and soon they’re thinking that her book is not fiction but truth. Every little dirty detail is revealed in her book and has the people of Cypress wagging their tongues and shaking their heads at a few of the upper-class citizens and—the Sheriff.
All Raven wants is to get through the funeral and go back to New York, but Sheriff Cal Rayburn can’t allow her to leave after she discovers and turns over evidence that may be connected to a double homicide that he’s investigating. At least, that’s the excuse he’s giving her, and he’ll go to any length to keep her in Cypress until he can make her believe that the affair, that she thinks he had six years ago, never happened.
When more dead bodies turn up, Cal feels they’re connected to the double homicide, but with the evidence he has, he can’t make a connection. He’s left with more questions than answers. He’s told that Raven’s novel may have answers to questions that could help with his investigation, but what it reveals is more than what he wants to know.
Famous in a Small Town is book one of An Entering Southern Country Novel. It has murder, lies, fiction, and truth—and more twists and turns than the back roads of northwestern Mississippi.
Enter at your own risk.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Steph Gold (The Mad Musician) - Hallelujah

What an amazing God given voice this young man has!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Boiled Farm Fresh Eggs (That Are Easy to Peel)

Here's a recipe for boiling farm fresh eggs that are easy to peel.

 Eggs that are at least 2 days old work best.

Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil.

Using a spoon, ease each egg into boiling water.

Turn down heat to a gentle boil.

Hard boiled 12-15 minutes
Medium boiled 6-7 minutes
Soft boiled 4-5 minutes

Pour out hot water and add cool water.
Let eggs rest in cool water for at least ten minutes.

There you have it. No salt or vinegar needed. It's that easy.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Guacamole Recipe

     Yesterday I planted all my herbs in flower pots on my patio. Now I get to watch them grow and enjoy the spoils of my garden. If you’ve ever used fresh herbs in recipes, then you know why I love my herb garden so much.
     Since Cinco de Mayo is just a few days away, I thought I’d share my recipe for Guacamole. I’ve had many people asking for this recipe.


2 large avocados, mashed
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. mayo
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or 2 Tbsp. dried
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 dash hot sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Mix well and chill for about an hour. Makes 1 1/2 – 2 cups

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Nature Calls

Deer in my front yard.

     My husband, Roy, and I love living in the country. I call it the boonies. We pipe in everything but the sunshine. Satellite TV, satellite internet, and electricity. We are surrounded by nature at its best. Deer graze on our hillside, bunnies munch on greens in our yard, and squirrels bury their stash all around our house. Plus we have eight chickens that help take care of the tick population around the outside of our fenced in yard and leave our breakfast in their nests in the hen-house. Our Jack Russell Terrier keeps watch over our property. She is so good at her job we bought her a “Beware of Dog” sign and hung it on the fence beside the gate to show our appreciation. Life is good out here in the boonies.
     Roy and I like to drive around the back roads once in a while and take in this area’s nature. Actually, my husband is scouting for deer. Me? I’m taking in the scenery, the trees, kudzu, flowers, kudzu, deer, kudzu, road kill, and kudzu. Well, you get the idea. I’m not paying attention to where we are going. He’s the driver, and I’m enjoying the ride. I’ve got a fairly good idea where we are going, but as far as how we getting there... not really.
     Last Saturday evening, we had our good friends, Linda and Bob over to spend the night. The idea was to have dinner and then karaoke. Sunday morning, the guys would take Roy’s boat, head for Sardis Lake, and do some crappie fishing. Linda and I would go shopping, have lunch, and shop some more. Sounded like fun, right?
     Here we go...
     The guys had left early, and Linda and I got ready to go to Senatobia. That’s the nearest town. Then it hit me, it’s Sunday. Nothing but gas stations are open at ten in the morning. We sat and had another pot of coffee and chatted until a quarter till ten and then we headed out the door.
     She wanted to take her car. Bless her heart! She has had nothing but trouble with that car. I didn’t want to, but knew that she was being her usual generous self, and I didn’t want to deny her that. So we hopped in her car and headed to town.
     We went to Walgreen's and picked up a few items and then headed toward Coldwater to the nursery. It was time for me to replenish my herb garden, and Linda wanted to give that a try and start her own herb garden. I have mine in flower pots on the patio. I have fresh herbs in the spring, summer, and into the early fall. I take the spoils in the fall and dry them for winter use.
Not my complete herb garden, but you get the idea.
     Everything was going great on our outing. We find what we want, pay for it, and get the backseat full of herbs, and then head to Senatobia to have lunch.
     I love El Charro’s, but whoever was the cook on duty that day must have been in a foul mood. Linda and I ordered the Taco beef salad and a spinach, mushroom, and tomato Quesadilla. The Quesadilla we shared. Neither of us could eat much of the Taco salad. It was greasy, had a sprig of shredded lettuce, no tomato, and I couldn’t find the guacamole. I thought it was under the gallon of sour cream, but it wasn’t. I suppose you’d have to be specific when you order something special, because the Quesadilla didn’t have any cheese on it and looked more like a soft flour taco.
     Since Linda insisted on buying because she felt it was her turn, I didn’t say anything about the meal, but kept nibbling. I noticed that she was taking her time too. I sat my fork down and looked across the table at her.
     She looked up at me and said, “This is awful!”
     Before we left, she mentioned that to the cashier.
     We headed for Cato’s. Linda has always been a very frugal shopper. They had one sale rack. She circled that rack at least fifteen times.
     I love Cato’s and so does Linda, but I never buy shoes there. The clothing is great, but the shoes? Linda tried on every pair of sandals they had on the shoe rack. After finding a pair she liked, we paid for our items, and headed out the door. Linda was sporting her new sandals. Her car was parked about fifteen feet from the front doors to the store.
     She opened the trunk of her car and said, “I gotta get out of these shoes. They’re killing my feet.”
     We hopped in the car and headed to Burger King. She drove to the drive-thru.
     “Welcome to Burger King! How may I help you?”
     Linda leaned her head out the window and said, “Do you have any drinks on sale?”
     “Excuse me?”
     “Do you have any drinks on sale?”
     “Uh, no, ma’am.”
     Linda looked at me and asked what I wanted. I told her I’d take a medium Coke. Linda gave our drink orders.
     “Linda,” I said, “It’s Happy Hour at the Sonic.”
     “Linda poked her head back out the window. “Excuse me?”
     “Cancel that order.”
     We headed to the Sonic. I love Happy Hour. We got our drinks and then headed home. Right before we got to the turnoff to my house, Linda said, “What’s up this way?”
     We drove passed the turnoff and headed around the bend.
     “It’s pretty up this way,” I said, “But I’m not really sure about where all the roads lead. Roy usually drives, and I just look around. I don’t always pay attention to which way he goes.”

     She kept driving. I recognized a road and suggested that she turn there. I was amazed at how many back roads I recognized. We were really enjoying the ride until I remembered... there was little to no cell phone service on these back roads. I got out my phone and checked and sure enough, no service. My next thought was the sound her car makes. It wasn’t anything new, but still it sounded like it was in pain.
     “You know there isn’t any cell phone service out here, right?”
     “You’re kidding me?”
     “Well, we should be heading back to your place.” She topped a hill and came to a stop at a crossroad. “Which way?”
     All I knew was Roy and I had been in all four directions at some time or another. “Right. I think.”
She drove about a mile and a half down the road and was heading up a hill when the car started slowing down.
     “Something’s wrong with my car.” Linda said.
     I looked over at her and saw that she was staring down at the car dash. I scanned the dash and then spotted where she were she was looking. We watched the speedometer needle. She pulled over just right before it went to zero. She cut off the ignition and tried to start it again. It clicked and clicked. She gave up.
     We looked around the area and spotted a farm house on the opposite side of the road.
     After fuming for a bit as to what could be wrong with the car, Linda went in search of her cell phone. She looked through her purse, in the floorboard, and in her seat. Nothing! It’s nothing new for Linda to misplace something. You just have to be patient; she’ll find it sooner or later.
     I got out my cell phone and turned it on. It had one 4G bar. I called her number, and we listened. A faint ringtone was heard from somewhere on her side of the car.
     “Sounds like it’s coming from the backseat,” she said.
     She opened her door and got out and then opened the back door. She started to look inside when barking came from across the road. She slammed the door shut, got back into the driver’s side, and closed her door. We both looked out at three ankle biters running toward the car.
     I still had the phone to my ear and heard it go to voice mail, so I called her phone again. We heard it ringing. I felt around in the floorboard in the back on her side of the car. I couldn’t locate it.
     “Are you sitting on it?” I asked.
     She raised her bottom up and felt around on the car seat. “No.” She felt around on the floorboard under her seat and came up with nothing.
     We looked out her window across the road and saw the little dogs heading toward some cows at a fence line. The cows were staring back at us. The dogs ran the cows away from the fence. Linda took the opportunity and got out of the car. She opened the back door. I called her number again. I could barely hear it. She looked in the backseat of the car and fished around the herbs we had placed back there. Still nothing. She pulled back out of the car and stood for a moment listening. She reached behind her and pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket.
     The little dogs began yelping again. I disconnected the call. She got back inside and closed the door before the ankle biters reached the car. She looked down at her phone.
     “I don’t have any service,” she said.
     I looked down at mine. “I don’t either.”
     I held mine up closer to the windshield and it spun up one bar. She held hers closer to the windshield and got a signal.
     I called Roy and told him the situation. He handed his cell phone to Bob, and I handed mine to Linda. She spoke with Bob, and they decided what she should do. After she disconnected, she handed my phone back to me. She located the number on her phone and called Triple A.
     In the mean time, I decided to see where we were on an app called “Find my Phone”. It’s a great little gadget if you have cell service. I had an iPhone 5. Of course I knew where my phone was, but this little app gave details in the form of a road map. I needed the name of the road we were on. When I loaded the app, it would connect and then disconnect, and every time it disconnected, I had to type in my password again. The signal from the nearest cell tower wasn’t strong enough to keep it connected. I gave up and called my son, Andy. He had it on his cell phone and linked with mine. He lived in an LTE area.
     The call went to voice mail.
     So in the meantime, I listened in on Linda’s conversation. The Triple A rep wanted directions. Linda hadn’t a clue.
     My cell rang. It was Andy.
     “Hey!” I said.
     “Hey! Sorry I missed your call.”
     “Yeah, were you asleep?” My son is a truck driver. He sleeps when he can.
     “Are you busy?”
     “No. What’s up?” he asked.
     “I just need to know where I am.”
     I explained it to him, and he located us on that handy little iPhone app, and gave me directions to give to Linda so she could give it to the Triple A people. She spoke to a rep for about fifteen minutes before help was on the way.
     We noticed the dogs were gone and decided to get out of the car. I waded through the weeds. She popped the hood and raised it. We looked under the hood. Don’t know why. We both just stared down at the battery... kind of like the cows did when they were staring at us. She reached in and began jiggling wires.
     “What are you doing?” I asked.
     “I don’t know.”
     She left the hood up, and we hurried back inside the car when the ankle biters returned. We sat in silence for several minutes.
     “Linda?” I broke the silence.
     “I need to pee.”
     “I’m sorry!”
     “Not your fault. I shouldn’t have filled up on tea at El Charro’s and the Sonic.” I looked out the window at the weeds. I’d have been taking chances on getting eat up with chiggers, ticks, or getting my behind bit by tiny terriers. I decided not to think about it.
     “That man keeps looking over here,” Linda said.
     “What man?”
     “Beside that truck.” She pointed. “He has the hood up and doing something.”
     I looked where she was pointing across the road. “I guess he’s scared of us.”
     The Triple A guy showed up about thirty minutes later, pulled in front of her car, and then got out of his truck, and headed our way. Apparently he couldn’t see over the hood into the driver’s side as he came around to my side of the car.
     “Ms. Bailey,” he said, smiling at me and then nodded to the driver’s side, “Mr. Bailey.”
     I point toward Linda and said, “She’s Mrs. Bailey.”
     He leaned down and looked inside and gave a jerky smile. “Sorry!”
     She explained the situation again. He went to his truck, retrieved the jumper cables, and connected them to her car and to his truck.
     Roy and Bob pulled up behind Linda’s car a few minutes later. They got out and look under the hood of Linda’s car.
     A few minutes later a big black truck pulled along side of the car. It was the man from across the road. The dogs ran up to the car but didn’t bark. The man leaned over to the passenger side, looked out the window at the men, and asked, “Are y’all having car trouble?”
     Linda and I look at each other.
     The men talked “man” talk, and then the black truck sped away. The Triple A guy disconnected the jumper cables, and Linda started the car.
     My eyeballs were floating by then. We made it all the way back to my house just in time.
     The guys drove to town and bought a new alternator and installed it on Linda's car.
     Next time, I’m driving my truck when Roy and I venture out. I want to know where I’m going and how to find my way back. And ... I’m going to be super generous when company comes and drive us where we want to go.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Valley (A Southern Country Novel)

Josephine Preston was released and sent home from a mental institution. She has only vague memories of why she had been committed. Circumstances beyond her control will cause those memories to surface, one by one.
A tragedy, brought on by deceit, leaves her heartbroken and rejected. Jo is sent away to live with some rather peculiar relatives. Her fear of being institutionalized again has her desperate to keep her past hidden, but how long can she keep it a secret when her imagination begins playing tricks on her... or is it? A voice from her past resurfaces as well as the man who wants her secret to die with her.
This is a story about a young girl's heartbreak, rejection, fear, faith, and determination.
Happy Valley is the first in the series of A Southern Country Novel.

To read a sample or download follow the link below. Happy reading!
Happy Valley @ Amazon