Tag Archives: southern women’s fiction

Q: Am I a Southern Writer? A: Maybe.

honeysuckle-rose.jpgEvery morning I read three things. Politics, sports and anything about writing and literature. This morning I happened to see an excellent article in The New York Times called “What Is a Southern Writer, Anyway?” by Margaret Renkl. Renkl wondered if Southern writing could survive the modern age—”mass media and Walmart”. I had to agree, I wondered if she was right.

Growing up in the North Carolina mountains, I saw a lot of Southern tropes and missed out on others. We had snow when I was a girl, and even the summers were not unbearable. Fresh mountain breezes made the 80-plus degree heat quite bearable and no one had air conditioning. We sat on front porches in the evenings, but my mother didn’t allow smoking (or any kind of tobacco) or drinking. Ever. Ahead of her time, she’d witnessed the destructive effects of both.

Most of my childhood, we had one car which my father used to get out and back to work at the DuPont plant where he moved up from mechanic to shift supervisor. We rode bikes and walked to get places when he was gone until he bought my mother a little Pinto to take us to school in. I remember riding back from the grocery store on my bike, balancing a gallon of milk between the handlebars.

And yes, there was the ugly part. I wrote about that in my book Weeds and Flowers. Shades of prejudice, rumors of Klan meetings, memories of burning crosses and hangings. There were ugly weeds in our Southern flower garden, but we only saw hints of them.

Renkl concludes in her article that, “Maybe being a Southern writer is only a matter of loving a damaged and damaging place, of loving its flawed and beautiful people, so much that you have to stay there, observing and recording and believing, against all odds, that one day it will finally live up to the promise of its own good heart.”

If that be the case, then I am a Southern writer although I don’t always write Southern literature. Every single one of my books has some tie to North Carolina, though, and most of them take place at least partly in my state. However, of all my books, I would only consider two of them to actually be somewhat Southern literature. Weeds and Flowers, of course, but also—if a romance can be Southern literature—Tracks in the Sand. (For the record, Tracks in the Sand is free in the Smashwords Summer Sale with code SS100.)

So although I grew up in a little town that became a tourist attraction with a booming economy and now live in another small NC town, I see the faults of small southern living. I love my state and always have. The two years I lived in other states (Maryland and Virginia) were miserable times for me. North Carolina is home, and home, after all, is what both Southern and romance writers write about.

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What is at the heart of Where the Heart Lies

I’ve been concentrating so much on promoting Ducks in a Row recently, I’ve neglected my other book Where the Heart Lies, so I wanted to refresh your memory and mine about this book, which was, really, my first foray into the world of women’s fiction, even if it is classified as contemporary romance.

At its heart, Where the Heart Lies is a story about second chances. For military widow Alicia, for her husband Ty’s parents, for guilt-ridden and besotted Liam, for single mother Penny, for Penny’s fatherless daughter and for Alicia and Ty’s children. Even the bookstore Alicia takes over from her ailing father-in-law finds new life. I wrote this book because I believe in second chances for all of us. Remember the old adage about a window opening when a door closes? Sometimes we may feel like fate has screwed us over, but in the end, I hope we all find our way to the window that opened when the door slammed in our faces.

This is an excerpt from the beginning of Where the Heart Lies, available in ebook format from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Carina Press.

Where the Heart Lies copyTy lay his hand on her still flat belly. “It’s the perfect place to raise children. Boys and girls. There’s a pond for fishing and swimming. And the street is pretty quiet, so they can ride their bikes. The house is the perfect size—not too big. Just homey.”

Alicia laughed and rolled over, and his hand slid across her belly to her hip. “You might be a little prejudiced considering it’s your childhood home.”

He pulled her closer, kissing her, and her body responded to him as she always did. She loved his long, lean form and the way he touched her with such confidence. She drew away after a moment, unable to resist teasing him a little. “Are you sure it won’t be a little, um, inhibiting for you?”

“What do you mean?” He looked at her, uncomprehending, his hands caressing the backs of her thighs now, causing little rivers of pleasure to run through her veins.

She smiled wickedly at him, using all her self-control to keep from letting him know how pleasant his touch was. All part of the game. “Well, you know, being in the same bedroom your parents were in when they—oh, you know…”

He laughed and rolled over on top of her, pressing her down into the mattress and kissing her firmly and thoroughly. His lips left hers and trailed over her jaw and down her collarbone as he cupped her breasts. She gasped at his touch on her sensitive nipples and felt his mouth curve. His lips returned to her neck and he nibbled her earlobe. “Baby, as long as you’re there, I won’t have any trouble being inhibited,” he whispered.

Chapter One

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Alicia Galloway pulled her minivan into the driveway of her new home. The last time those words had popped into
her head had been the day Ty’s CO placed a neatly folded triangle of red, white and blue silk into her hands, and she knew the rest of her life wouldn’t be with her husband. She remembered staring at the flag, thinking about its thirteen symbolic folds.

Fold one is for life, fold two for eternal life. Fold three stands for our fallen veterans. Fold four is for the One who guides us in peace and war. Fold five is for our country and the sixth fold is for where our hearts lie…

She pulled away from the memory, her eyes tearing. Wiping the tears away, she looked around, trying not to be too cynical. “Hard to believe the rest of my
life begins here.”

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