After forty years of satisfying careers in teaching, marketing and public relations, I decided to follow my body parts and head south into retirement. I’d always imagined living in a log cabin in the mountains, so I unleashed my inner Heidi and drove to southern Appalachia where I’ve lived for ten years. It’s been an adventure, one that I had to document in my first book, Real Country: From the Fast Track to Appalachia. A fellow writer who is a native of the North Carolina mountains warned me not to put my picture or real name on the book because, “Them boys will burn you out.” I’ve since learned she’s prone to hyperbole, but I used a pen name.
I was born and raised in New Jersey and lived in the Washington, D.C. area for twenty years before this latest, and what I hope will be the last, move. My spouse and I live in a log cabin in a mountain holler surrounded by the best that nature has to offer. Most of our immediate neighbors are also transplants. The local residents down the dirt road are pleasant but rather reserved. We wave and occasionally chat about weather, but it’s clear we’re regarded as ‘foreigners.’ There’s a clear delineation between the ‘been heres’ and the ‘come heres’ in this part of Appalachia, but we share a love of the mountains.
Our urban backgrounds weren’t much help when we arrived. Despite three years of bluegrass banjo lessons that I’d hoped would help me adjust to this part of the South, I still faced challenges with the language, food and customs. But now, I’ve become so accustomed to this bucolic rural life that I dread going back to the metropolitan areas where I used to live. Being retired certainly accounts for some of my new relaxed state, but the slower pace of life in the region plays a major role. I’ve pretty much gotten over ignoring strangers and charging into stores intent on getting out without having to speak to anyone. Once in a while I still grow impatient when someone takes twenty minutes to get to the point of what they want to say, but I’ve learned to wait politely and smile. Depending on what they finally say, I might even reply with a heartfelt ‘Bless your heart.’
At age seven I penned a newsletter that antagonized half the neighbors in my New Jersey neighborhood, and writing has been part of my life ever since. I’ve been a columnist, speechwriter, ghostwriter and anything else that allowed me to earn a living. I still write because I need to, but now it’s for my own satisfaction and enjoyment. That’s so much more fun. Since moving to the Southern mountains I’ve found my muse. I’ve written three novels and several essays that appear in a variety of anthologies. I’m honored to have received awards for my books and am certain that I could not have written them in any other place. I use my real name now. http://www.lissabrownwrites.com
Category: GUEST BLOGGERS
Patricia Neely-Dorsey: “Goodwill Ambassador” for the South
Patricia Neely-Dorsey shares her love of the South through her poetry. “I believe that we can bridge many gaps of misunderstanding across regional, racial, cultural, generational and economic lines by simply telling/sharing our stories,” she says. “Through my poetry, I attempt to give a positive glimpse into the Southern way of life.”
In college, her nicknames were Tupelo and Mississippi. She recalls, “Whenever my friends saw me coming, they knew that there would be some type of discourse about Mississippi and the South soon to follow…hoping to clear up their many misconceptions and preconceived notions.”
Patricia grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the red clay hill country. Following her graduation from Boston University, she worked nearly 20 years in Memphis, Tennessee in the mental health industry. Patricia returned to her hometown in 2007 where she currently lives with husband James, son Henry, and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy.
Patricia’s two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia- A Life In Poems (2008) and My Magnolia Memories and Musings (2012), are available from Amazon. More information is available on her website, http://www.patricianeelydorsey.webs.com.One of her best-known, “Southern Life” is reprinted here with the author’s permission.
CAMEO: MARLA CANTRELL
Congratulations to Marla Cantrell, recently awarded the Arkansas Art Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship for her work in short fiction. These prestigious fellowships enable artists to devote creative time to their arts.
Marla grew up in the River Valley and writes about Arkansas’ people, heritage and culture. About the award, Marla says, “I am so honored to receive this fellowship and to represent Arkansas and the River Valley in our state’s artist community. Arkansas, with its beauty, culture and rich history, is the thread that runs through my fiction, and I’m so proud to be part of the art community of this great state.”
Earlier this year, Marla also won first place in the White County Writers Contest at the 2014 Arkansas Writers’ Conference. A prolific writer, Marla has been published in Show Off Anthology, http://bit.ly/1qCCWWk, Deep South Magazine, http://deepsouthmag.com, Long Story Short, http://amzn.to/1n9YOpA , Word Haus, http://www.wordhaus.com and the Center for Writing Excellence, 3rd Annual Fiction Anthology. http://amzn.to/1xE7lbK Marla is Managing Editor of Do South Magazine, http://dosouthmagazine.com where she is often a featured author.
Congratulations, Marla. You do Southern Women proud! Keep your great stories coming our way!
More about Marla, her work and the Individual Artist Fellowship can be found at her website, Southern Pencil http://bit.ly/1qI921w.
Writing Process Blog Tour
I’m excited to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. It works like this. A writer answers four questions about her writing and then hands off the baton to two more writers, who do the same. It gives us a great chance to meet new authors and to visit their blogs
Mary Adler (aka M.A. Adler), member of SheWrites and author of the mystery, In the Shadow of Lies, http://amzn.to/1pC4LyK handed the gavel to Marylee MacDonald and Marylee handed it on to me. Marylee is the author of Montpelier Tomorrow, http://amzn.to/Y76mBe a literary novel about a mid-life mom, Coleen Gallagher, who gets sucked into becoming her dying son-in-law’s caregiver but soon discovers that the dying man isn’t noble and she can’t go on being Superwoman.
You can find out more about Marylee on her Authors Guild website, http://www.maryleemacdonald.us or visit her blog on Goodreads. http://bit.ly/1rJQstN
Here are my answers to the four questions
What am I working on?
I am writing a novel based on the life of a woman in rural N. Louisiana in the years just after the Civil War. It is fiction, but many incidents and characters are based on real-life experiences. This is a large undertaking requiring a great deal of research, so in the meantime, I blog about the lives of women in rural Louisiana.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My challenge, like that of all writers of historical fiction, is to create authentic characters and place them in historical context in such a way that modern readers identify with and care about them. My work is somewhat unique in that little is known about this group of women.
Why do I write what I do?
The voices of these women have been little heard, if at all. My hope is that my work can shine a light into the shadows of their heroic lives.
What is my process
I set aside time for writing every morning. However my best writing is done when I can devote a block of time, at least a day or two, solely to writing. I do my best work when I feel as though the ideas are coming through me and not from me. I’ve never had anything usable result from forcing myself to write. If I don’t feel inspired to write, it’s usually because I’m not listening. I may need more research, quiet walks in the woods, or just to read some really good writing. My Goodreads reading list is indispensable for those times. Once I am awake to them again, my characters begin chattering among themselves, often at maddeningly inappropriate times. I don’t worry too much if I can’t get to a notebook to write it down; if they really have something to say, they’ll be back.
Now for next week’s lineup:
Patrician McCarthy is the first Mien Shiang expert to translate this ancient art and science for the mainstream American public. She founded in 2000 The Mien Shiang Institute in Santa Monica, Ca., to teach the Taoist techniques of Medical Facial Diagnosis and Face Reading, and Taoist Five Element theory.
For nearly 30 years she has taught the powerful implications of Face Reading and the Taoist Five Elements to medical practitioners, lawyers, Olympic athletes, and corporate CEOs and their teams from Procter & Gamble, The Gap, Mattel, Inc., KPMG and other Fortune 500 companies.
In conjunction with the renowned Yo San University in Los Angles, CA., she established the first Medical Certificate Program in Mien Shiang, as well as the first Medical Certificate courses in Environmental Medicine (Feng Shui).
Connect with her at
Marilyn Bostick is a writer of riveting dark romantic fiction and Sci-Fi. Her enthusiasm for telling tales was cultivated by years of reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.D. Robb, and Ben Bova. Armed with a flashlight beneath bed covers or in the comfort of a recliner, she became acquainted with the characters that would haunt her for a lifetime. Marilyn’s unwavering creativity challenged her to refine her writing, and it was that passion that kept her motivated to achieve her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida. The tools she learned at the University cemented her resolve to perfect her craft and to bring her descriptively compelling stories to the next level. Her short stories Time and Revenge were published in Full Sail University’s magazine the Aviator. Time was published in the fifth issue on May 29, 2012, and Revenge was published in the eighth issue on March 4, 2013.
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