Saturday, October 28, 2006

Vive la Tabby!

I just found out Tabitha King has another book out. Yay! She’s one of my favorite writers, although I didn’t realize it at first. Sure, I knew her books were engrossing stories about gritty characters who lived and loved at full tilt, but these same characters sometimes did things so incredibly stupid and screwed up their lives so royally that I found myself yelling at them on the pages of the books and sometimes throwing said books across the room, swearing I wasn’t going to finish reading them.

Of course, I did finish them. All of them. Some of them I’ve even read more than once, because I found myself thinking about those infuriating characters of hers long after I’d finished the books. That’s when I realized what an amazing talent Ms. King has for characterization. I might sometimes want to hit her characters upside the head with a limb and knock some sense into them (especially those bad-assed heroines of hers), but I always care about what happens to them and feel as if they’re real people she’s introduced me to. And they love with a depth that endures even the moronic things she makes them do just to stir things up. At least she doesn’t kill off all of them like some other writers who hail from Maine.

Speaking of Steve-O, (I read somewhere that he hates to be called that!) I’ve been known to read a few of his books as well. Okay, ALL of his books. But I don’t read them for the horror content. I read them because he does a pretty decent job of characterization himself, and the imagery he creates in some of his scenes using the simplest objects in the world tend to stick with me forever. I often find myself seeing colored auras around people, sparrows give me the creeps, and I always give sewer drains a wide berth.

What gets me is when I tell someone that I love Tabitha King’s books, and they say, “I didn’t even know Stephen King’s wife was a writer.” Don’t you know she gives him Holy Hell whenever she reads something like that on an Internet message board? I can just see her whacking him on the back of the head and saying, “See, if you weren’t always hogging the limelight with all those silly monster books of yours, maybe people would hear about MY books!”

I’m doing my best to help you get the word out, Tabby.

~Stay true to yourself, and your dreams will come true.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Books for Soldiers

I recently became an official volunteer at the Books For Soldiers website so that I could donate copies of my own books to deployed soldiers. I encourage all my fellow writers to do the same, but you don't have to be a writer to help. The need among the troops for books and other supplies is so great, and I urge everyone to join this program and send a few care packages of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, snacks, personal care items, or anything else that will help make a soldier’s tour of duty a little easier.

Please go to and register to become an official volunteer. Once you’re approved, you’ll have access to the list of needs the soldiers post or their families post on their behalf, along with their address overseas. You can also become a soldier’s pen pal and possibly be the only link to home they have. Trust me, the responses you’ll get from the soldiers and their overwhelming gratitude will touch your heart and reward you immeasurably for your efforts.

I also encourage everyone who has bought my books to please send them to a soldier when you’re done with them. If you can't become a volunteer for some reason, send the books to me (contact info on my pages at Authors Den) and I'll ship them to soldiers for you. These brave men and women risk their lives for us every single day, and we all—regardless of our political views or personal feelings about the war—owe these real-life heroes a much larger debt of gratitude than we could ever repay, but this program is a good way to make a worthwhile down payment.

~Stay true to yourself, and your dreams will come true!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's 2006, Y'all

I write Southern fiction. I know it's Southern fiction because it's set in the South and I've lived in southern Alabama all my life--how much more Southern can you get? But, apparently, some people don't consider a book to be Southern fiction unless it contains at least two characters who either sport beehive hairdos or have names like Lula Mae Ledbetter or Cletis Joe Clampett. And they need to eat lots of cornbread and collards or biscuits and red-eye gravy while they hang out at greasy spoons like MawMaw's Kitchen and talk about the time they faced the wrath of the Klan by inviting Pearlie Lou's grandson Jamarcus to little Clementine's sixth birthday party.

Sorry, but my friends and family have names like Robin and Stephen, I've never seen a Klansman in real life, and neither cornbread nor biscuits are on the Atkins diet, so I only eat them on special occasions. My books have plenty of Southern charm and ambience, but it's not forced the way it seems to be in some (but definitely not all) of those "down-home" Southern books. And I absolutely refuse to throw in racial unrest where there is none just to attract the attention of Yankee--ahem, I mean, Northern editors who have no idea what it's really like in the South.

TRUE BLUE FOREVER is a prime example of this. Its characters attend Vigor High School, the predominantly black school I attended that made the national news because of the race riots that went on there in the early seventies. Of course, all that was over by the time I went there from 76-80, and race was truly a non-issue for my classmates and me, so I refused to play it up in TRUE BLUE FOREVER just so I could claim to publishers that my book was a social statement on desegregation and civil rights. I have both black and white characters in TRUE BLUE FOREVER, but I refused to portray them any way other than the way my classmates and I got along--without race being an issue.

BTW, I had a book signing yesterday at a local independent book store called Black Classics, Books and Gifts. Race wasn't an issue there either. And we didn't sit around eating chicken and dumplings with cat-head biscuits for sopping up the gravy.

Although. . . I think I'll make some chicken and dumplings for supper tonight. Better go make a big pitcher of sweet tea to go with it, so I gotta run.


~Stay true to yourself, and your dreams will come true.