Perspective – The Spice of Life

FlagHappy Memorial Day! Please take time to honor all our Veterans who died for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today!!

I just returned from a great vacation. Now, I have visited California twice before in my lifetime. The first time was the summer after my sophomore year in high school. My mother had the bright idea that separating me from my steady boyfriend might possibly lead to a grass is greener perspective on my part. She sent me to visit my aunt and uncle in Laguna Beach for two weeks. However, her plan backfired for as we all know, absence makes the heart, etc. etc. That boy later became my first husband and the father of my two children.

Eight years ago, I travelled west and hopped on a plane to The Golden State. A surprise birthday present from my son and daughter-in-law, the trip allowed me to reconnect with my brother’s grown kids whom I hadn’t seen in years.

This May 2017 vacation with my husband, Mike, was a ten-day journey which began in gorgeous San Diego where he had lived most of his life. His gracious cousins threw us a party where I mingled with his relatives and met Mike’s uncle, the last living one in his family. Everyone opened their arms to this southern girl and made me feel at home.

rockybeachFor the next nine days, Mike and I drove up the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway making stops to visit friends along the way. We ended our tour with two days in San Francisco before we ventured to Sacramento where we had lunch with more friends and dinner with relatives before we caught a flight out the following day back to Georgia.

Of course, I can’t say enough about the amazing scenery. And you know what the song says, “It Never Rains in Southern California…” And the weather failed to disappoint as we meandered through beach towns, gazed out over smooth and rocky beaches, observed the tropical flowers and plants of the coastal area, and devoured good food. To our right lay the mountains; to the left, the blue of the Pacific Ocean. As we headed north, the wind at the shoreline became chilly as were the nights, but purchasing warm hoodies in Cambria quickly took care of that issue.

trees1Mike’s role as chauffeur allowed me to accept the job of voyeur. Along the route, I began to notice the trees. As my husband steered farther north, the trees grew taller. Never have I seen such unusual shapes and shades of green. I, being the tree lover that I am, stood in awe of the variety, the differences and the beauty.

One can admire the uniqueness in people in the same fashion. As a creative trees4woman and writer, I love the variations on our exteriors. Yes, we are all the same in our basic feelings, wants and needs, but it’s the differences that appeal to me. The distinctions, whether it be facial features, body shapes and sizes, the wearing of old, mismatched clothes or haute couture, melodious or gruff voices, colloquial accents or even mannerisms. It’s what makes life colorful.

In my opinion, same is boring; diversity is interesting—whether it’s the weary eyes of a weathered old man pan handling near the bus stop in San Francisco, the toothless smile of a skinny red-headed child in a restaurant in Santa Barbara, or the contemplative expression pasted on the lovely face of the African American woman who sat across from me on the airport shuttle bus. Just like the trees, the people intrigued me. I took plenty of pictures of the landscape but because I didn’t want to get sued, I had to be satisfied with engraving people’s images in my mind and making notes on the notebook I kept in my purse.

I apologize for I AM a people watcher. Always have been. I use those different faces, those uniquely beautiful people, as characters in my manuscripts adding personality traits, likes and dislikes, family situations and circumstances to create my make-believe entities.

me vacaAnd, by the way, not only was I blessed to be entertained by the beauty of the scenery and the interesting people, I’m positive that I was able to amuse the locals many times with my loud cackling laughter and my southern-fried accent peppered with an occasional “y’all” thrown in for good measure.

Thanks for reading my blog!!

See you in June!

 Jody

Talkin’ Mothers & Welcome, Erin Bartels

happy-mothers-dayWith Mother’s Day approaching, we spotlight our mothers whether they are still living or have passed on, and remember fondly how these women have impacted our lives. My mother who was a unique yet troubled woman, taught me life lessons I will never forget.  I, being a mother myself, can only hope that I’ve been able to fool my grown children into thinking I’ve passed on some of my positive qualities. (Fingers crossed)

But in my humble opinion, I honestly think most women represent motherhood. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve given birth or adopted a child or not.

One definition of motherhood is “the quality or the spirit of a mother.” Well, I firmly believe that we, as strong women, all have that spirit within us. I have to brag on my daughter here. She has not birthed an offspring so to speak, but she exceptionally defines the term motherhood. She is a teacher, which by the way, I feel is the hardest job on the planet. She not only educates kids (in her case, teenagers), but nurtures them, gives them guidance, and sets a positive example. She mothers her students along with her nieces and nephews and her friends’ children. And, of course, she views her much-loved pets as her babies. I count her among the strong women I’ve known throughout my life who possess the innate virtues of motherhood.

While writing notes on this subject, I recalled a special woman from my childhood named Margie who was born in the Bahamas and had the most melodious British accent. She helped my mother by doing some light housecleaning but her first priority was to take care of me–apparently, at a young age, I was a handful. A strong, proud woman, she came from a difficult background and lost her husband in her early twenties. Margie had no children of her own, but she sure knew how to take care of me. I loved this woman who had a gentle nature but took no nonsense from a feisty five-year old. She always smelled of lilacs, and her eyes twinkled when she smiled. “Now, little one,” she’d say, “go to sleep so the angels can watch over you.” I cried buckets of tears when my family moved away from Miami and I had to leave my second mother behind.

Don’t you know scads of women who fit this bill? So raise your glass to all strong women! Happy Mother’s Day!

Erin - BlueHair[1960]Now, let me welcome my guest blogger, ERIN BARTELS. Erin is a copywriter and freelance editor by day and a novelist by night. Her first novel, The Bone Garden, is currently on submission and her second, I Hold the Wind, was a finalist in the 2015 Rising Star Contest from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. She is also the features editor for and a regular contributor to WFWA’s quarterly newsletter, Write On.

GetImageCherishing the Season You’re In

Midwesterners spend a lot of time pining. During the long, cold, gray winter, we ache for warm, colorful spring. During the hot and humid summers, we long for crisp fall. Our favorite seasons are the transitional ones, the fleeting ones, the ones in which the landscape seems to change daily—wave after wave of flowers bloom, tree after tree turns fiery orange, red, or yellow and sends its leaves raining gently down. Things are moving, always moving.

When we focus on the season to come rather than the season we’re in, we run the very real risk of constant discontent. Midwesterners are experts at discontent. I’ve never known anyone to complain about the weather more than my fellow Michiganders. It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too cloudy, too snowy, too humid. And yet, every season is beautiful in its own way and its own time.

In the same way, every season in a writer’s career has the potential to be beautiful.

When we are just starting out, just testing the waters of this magnificent, crazy idea of ours—Maybe I could be a writer!—every dream is ours. We’re blissfully ignorant of the work that will be involved, the years of toil and rejection, toil and rejection. The future is wide open. And though we may feel a little off-balance and unprepared, our potential is, at this moment, endless. Cherish that.

When we’ve been at it for a while, maybe on our second or third manuscript, finding our tribe, querying agents, entering contests, we have the benefit of some experience, some hard-won wisdom, some newly thickened skin. We can reach back and help those a few steps behind. We can look up and feel inspired by those a few steps ahead. We’re better writers than we were at first, even if we’re still finding our way. Cherish that.

When we’ve finally gotten past the first round of gatekeepers and have an agent, someone working on our behalf to get our stories to the right editor at the right publishing house, a part of us can relax. We have an advocate. Someone sees something in us, in our work, that is worth fighting for. Cherish that.

Erin's bookWhen we get the news—Someone wants to publish my book, and they’re going to PAY me for it!—and that first flush of excitement is swiftly replaced with a rush of anxiety—What if no one buys it? What if I’m awkward in interviews? What if no one shows up to my book-signing?—we can calm ourselves with the knowledge that we have a community of writers who are behind us 100% and will answer our questions and quell our fears. They’ll help us get through this. Cherish that.

We’re all eager to move our writing careers forward. But don’t forget to love the season you’re in right now. Because it will soon pass away . . . and you may find yourself missing it when it’s gone.

You can find Erin at the following:

Website:  erinbartels.com
Facebook: @ErinBartelsAuthor
Twitter: @ErinLBartels
Instagram: @erinbartelswrites

Thank you all for reading my blog. I’ll see you at the end of May.

Jody

I Choose, You Choose . . .

Free-clipart-april-flowers-clipartApril is such a great month and quite eventful! This year, there was Easter, and of course, my birthday and coming up, my wedding anniversary. How cool is that!! We can also include Professional Baseball opening days (like the Braves in their new stadium). On the other side of the coin, there’s Income Tax Day and a few disastrous historical events I won’t mention here. But, to me, personally, April rocks!

I woke up this morning thinking about how we, as human beings, are free to pick and choose what we like and dislike. If we are blessed to live in a free society, then we not only choose what we like, but are able to obtain it, whether it’s the kind of job we want, the kind of food we like, or clothes, etc. Even my sweet dog, Bella, who thinks she’s a human, chooses whether or not to eat her food, obey her “Daddy” or me, sleep or lounge in the sunshine in the backyard or take a nap on her back with her head on a bed pillow (like I said–human). It’s a great blessing to be able to choose – to have the ability to pick. Bella

I chose my husband. We’ll be married three years on April 26th!! Together we chose where we live, how our home is decorated (well, mostly me), and what flowers to plant in the yard. As a child, he chose to be a musician, a pianist. Yes, he is talented, but he could have ignored his talent and chosen another profession. In my younger days, I simply chose to work at jobs that helped pay the bills eventually finding situations that motivated me to take on additional responsibility. However, not until the last ten years, did I choose to take the proverbial bull by the horns and make writing my chosen profession. I choose to do what I do. I am blessed to be able to make it my full-time career.

On that note, I would like to introduce another writer who chose to accept my invitation to be a guest blogger for me. Please welcome Julia Mills (pen name, Julia Victorian). Julia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three kids, and one rambunctious Labrador retriever. She dreams of one day moving to Paris, France or owning a vacation home in Hawaii.

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I have a little confession to make. I am not a Southerner. However, I do live south of San Francisco. Does that count?

So, I’m a writer. That still feels funny to say. Even stranger to have printed on my business cards. And though I’m not published yet, I’ve decided to own it.

I. AM. A. WRITER!

Julia MillsBUT. I wasn’t always a writer. I started off as a reader. When I was a child, I took stacks and stacks of books home from our local library: I read all the time, even under my bed covers at night with a flashlight – Harry the Dirty Dog, Frog and Toad, A Wrinkle in Time, and Chronicles of Narnia.

As I turned into a teenager, I had a fascination with books and magazines and art. If I wasn’t taking art classes, I was writing. Writing in journals, writing poetry. Except writing wasn’t something I saw as a potential career so I studied marketing and worked at a winery in California. I got married, had three kids, and my life was centered on family.

AND…

A few years ago when my youngest child entered kindergarten, I was supposed to go back to work. That was my agreement with my husband. I’d be with adults – Hurray! No more handling temper tantrums – Hurray!

HOWEVER…

The day I dropped my daughter off at school, I came home and realized I didn’t want to go back to work. I wanted to write. My husband I made a new agreement. One year to write a novel. Then I’d go back to work.

I wrote a novel and pitched the manuscript to a publisher who asked to read it. I thought it was a romance until she kindly explained why it wasn’t. Lo and behold, I’ve been writing women’s fiction. Who knew! And sadly, she didn’t represent women’s fiction.

Once I understood what exactly I was writing, I joined the Women’s Fiction Writers Association where I’ve met so many wonderful, supportive writers.

Now you might be asking, what happened to that manuscript? This is what writers call, sitting in the drawer (meaning it actually resides on my computer’s hard drive) Someday, I’ll take it out and rewrite it.

Second manuscript. Sits on my hard drive. Also for another day.

Third manuscript – It has two main characters, written in the point of views of a 30-year-old attorney living in Manhattan and her grandmother who owns a vineyard and winery in Napa Valley. It follows three generations of women in the same family who are estranged from one another. There’s also a dash of romance. This is the one I believe will take flight in the world.

If you want to see what I’m up to or find out when one of these manuscripts will be published, follow me online. My website is www.juliavictorine.com. From there you can link to me on Facebook and Twitter. And on Pinterest, you’ll see pictures I’ve pinned that correspond to my stories.

You can find Julia on the following:

Website:   www.juliavictorine.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorJuliaVictorine
Twitter:    @JuliavMills
Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/julia_victorine

Thank you, Julia. So glad you’ve chosen to be a Women’s Fiction writer like myself.

And, by the way, thank you all for taking the time to “CHOOSE” to view my blog.

See you all in May!!

Jody

For the Love of It!!

daffodilIn my neck of the woods, nature has truly sprung! AAH CHOO! Yes, and there’s the green gunk all over the car. In the South, we deal with it. We don’t always embrace it, but we deal. Flowers are blooming, trees are greening. I’m blossoming, too—are you?

To blossom means to bud, to flower, to bloom. It also means to mature, progress, evolve, to flourish, thrive, prosper and develop in a promising or healthy way, according to the Internet Dictionary. I may not be a “Spring Chicken” but I’m still blossoming. The other day, I was complaining to my brother about another agent rejection letter I had received, when he asked me a poignant question. “Have you improved?” My answer was an adamant “Yes, I believe so.” That made me think.

do what uloveIt took me several years to write my first book, Weather Permitting, but only one year to write my second, Relative Consequences. I’m sure it is better than the first. I learned by doing, by starting over, by scratching out, rewriting, editing, and doing it over again. I evolved into a more knowledgeable writer and I continue to do so. So, whether or not an agent or publisher decides to represent me or I choose to publish my book myself, I know in my heart that my writing has matured, grown, and yes, blossomed.

Now, that being said, I also know I have a lot more blossoming in my future. There’s a lot more growing, thriving and flourishing to do for WRITING IS MY PASSION. I love to sit at my laptop and go crazy with an idea, a story, or a concept. I love to create.

Do you have a passion? A love or desire to accomplish something, to create something, to help others? A hobby you can’t put down? Oh, you must. No matter how young or old you are, it’s never too late to find it. Once you do, you grow with it, you flower, you bloom. You learn how to do it better—just by experiencing it. You might study about it or read about it, but eventually you fall in love with YOUR PASSION.

th (4)How wonderful to have your job, your work, be your passion. My husband is a pianist and music is his passion. He is blessed. I’ve known several people who worked at a profession they weren’t too happy with their entire lives and never made time for any kind of hobby. When they retired, they found they were bored and had nothing to keep them “alive.” They had never found their passion. I’d say, if you don’t love your job and you can’t do anything about it, then carve out time to find what gets you cookin’ !! Once you do, don’t let it go!! 

So I plan on keeping on keeping on. Book Number 3 is in the works.

Stay tuned. In two weeks, I will welcome guest blogger, Julia Mills.

 Jody

March Madness

basketballMarch is National Women’s History Month. Did you know that out of the 13 honorees in 2017 under the Theme of Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business, 5 of these women are from the southern states of North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Mississippi? Now these are some Strong Southern Women.

When I think of March, I think of basketball – The ACC Tournament and the Final Four Championship. It’s one of those months that are hard to define. It’s a fickle, temperamental time of year. So far in this crazy month, we, the folks who live in Georgia, have received a large dose of spring. Daffodils sprouting everywhere earlier than usual, trees budding, and even some flip-flop weather. Well, today Mother Nature is snickering. It’s so cold outside, you’d think it was mid-January.

So what is a southern girl to do? Well, in my case, I stay inside and send out queries in the ongoing search for an agent. This go round is for my second novel, Relative Consequences. I put my first book, Weather Permitting, through another set of edits and it now sits simmering on the shelf. I’ll get back to it this summer. Queries are nerve racking. You might hear back from the agent you are writing to, or maybe not. From what I understand though, agents aren’t fickle at all. They know what they want. The term I keep seeing is “subjective.” Literary agencies are subjective and each agent has a personal list of what he or she is searching for and accepts. It’s up to the author to send her query to the right agent. Then, the proverbial ball (see how clever – using a basketball metaphor here) is in their court the moment you hit the SEND button on your email. Then you wait. Fingers crossed.

View More: http://photos.pass.us/laurendNow, on with the show . . . I’d like to welcome my guest blogger for this month. Lauren Koffler Denton. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

Turning A Dream into Reality

I’ve always been a reader, but I haven’t always been a writer. At least, not of fiction. If you count the trunk of journals in my garage as evidence, then I’ve been a writer since I bought my first diary (pink and turquoise with a puffy cover) at the mall when I was about eight years old. But I didn’t begin writing fiction until after college. My years of inhaling as many books as possible and picking up the pen to process my thoughts turned into a desire to tell stories to entertain, to encourage, and to connect. I distinctly remember sitting around with a group of friends soon after I moved to Birmingham and saying that my dream was to be a writer of books. Not only that, I wanted to see them on bookshelves—and not just the ones in my own home! The dream felt too big—too unattainable—but there it was for all to hear.

Well, not all. Just the 12 or so people gathered together that night. But I’d put words to the dream, and while I didn’t tell many people about it, the desire kept churning away in the back of my mind. People and settings and opening scenes kept tickling my brain at the most inopportune moments, so I began to write them down. I have the opening chapters of several overly wrought, cliché-laden stories burning a hole in a thumb-drive somewhere, but at least I was taking baby steps toward my goal. When my oldest daughter was about two, I got the idea for a story based around a horrific string of tornados that had ripped through Alabama just a couple months before. I pulled out a notebook and wrote the first scene as I saw it in my head. Over the next six months, I followed the story as it presented itself to me, and I finished it by Christmas. I was over the moon—I’d accomplished part of my dream! Now the only thing left was to get the thing published!

Many people call their first novel their “practice novel” and for good reason. I went through a round or two of edits on my own, then shipped the manuscript off to two writer friends, expecting pats on the back. What they came back with, however, was the necessary truth that it wasn’t near as good as I thought it was. Even more, it needed serious overhauling before I showed it to any agents. After some hand-wringing, I realized they were right and I put that book away.

Lauren Denton's book covrI still had the urge to tell stories though, to make people smile and laugh and maybe feel a little less alone. Slowly, another story began to take shape—this one with a rambling old B&B, an eccentric grandmother, and a charming woodworker. But this time all those fits and starts, the rough beginnings, and the completed (although not very good) novel gave me the perseverance and courage I needed to forge ahead with this one. Through a fantastic creative writing workshop, many months of revisions, and another author’s generous helping hand, my first (but really second) novel, The Hideaway, will be published April 11.

I’m not always the most determined girl. I necessarily don’t shy away from hard things, but if something is just too hard—if it seems doomed from the get-go—I may step back and let someone else take on that particular battle. I’m so glad I didn’t step back from this dream though, that I kept writing even when it seemed no one but my family and close friends would ever read The Hideaway. It’s enough for me to know that I persisted, that I didn’t give up when it felt too hard, but I also love that my two young daughters think it’s pretty cool that Mama will have books on the shelf in the library.

You can find Lauren on the following:

Website: http://www.LaurenKDenton.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenKDentonAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenkdentonbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenKDenton
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/LKDentonBooks/

Thank you, Lauren. I can’t wait to read your book.

See y’all next time,

Jody

Tearing off the Tag

pillow-tagI was born in Savannah, Georgia. You just don’t get much more southern than that, right? As a child, I was expected to act a certain way. It was like I came out with one of tag like the one attached to a pillow (you know that says you’ll be prosecuted under the law if you yank it off). The tag read, “Be well-mannered, do what you’re told, know your place, stand by your man, and above all, drink plenty of sweet tea.”

I don’t think I quite fit the mold. As I absorbed myself in a little research, I found that most notable strong southern women whether past or present don’t either, maybe except for the manners part. I have to admit I bucked authority when I was young, determined to do things my way in spite of consequences, and to the dismay of my poor mother (God rest her prim and proper soul). I look back and have to admit I should have done a few things differently, but for the most part, I have no regrets.

southern_belle_1472As I write, I create characters who are far from perfect—southern women who don’t necessarily keep their pillow tag attached as they walk through life but eventually find their own strengths, who overcome the insecurities they attain in childhood, the ones they don’t like to talk about, the ones which haunt them unto adulthood. To me, this makes them strong. They don’t give up; they do what needs to be done. They take care of others, but they also make sure they take care of themselves.

In my second novel, Relative Consequences, the protagonist, Jessy, confronts her past and makes a decision that affects her life, her family and also, the lives of others. She makes the choice first out of anger, then she comes to the conclusion it’s the right thing to do. Her character is vulnerable yet strong.

I recently read a 2014 article in Signature Magazine (on online publication) about one of my favorite southern authors, Fannie Flagg. Now, there’s a remarkable southern woman who overcame an adversity and immersed herself in success doing what she loved to do. I hope someday I can meet her.

fannie-flaggFannie Flagg was born Patricia Neal in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama to working class parents. She is an actor as well as a writer and has always been someone I admire. As a child, she was told she couldn’t write and she was a terrible speller. Later in life, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Through time she overcame her fear of making mistakes and in the 1970s began writing novels and continues to write today.

Some of her more famous works are Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and her most recent, The Whole Town’s Talking, which was published in 2016. According to her biography from www.litlovers.com, “As a writer . . . this Birmingham, Alabama native found her voice as a chronicler of Southern Americana and life in its self-contained hamlets.” If you haven’t read any of her novels, please do. You won’t be disappointed in the words of this southern woman who in 2012 won the prestigious Harper Lee Award as Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year.

fried-green-tomatoesHere’s just a couple of my favorite quotes from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe:

“Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you
are two steps ahead.”

“Are you a politician or does lying run in your family?”

“It wasn’t death she was afraid of. It was this life of hers that
was beginning to remind her of that gray intensive care
waiting room.”

“There are magnificent beings on this earth, son, that are walking around posing as
humans.”

smileyMy next blog will be posted around March 13. I will be hosting a guest blogger —
Author, Lauren Koffler Denton, another southern girl!!

 

See ya then!

Jody

A Heartfelt Welcome to Normandie

candyheartsHappy Valentine’s Day! Do they still make those little candy hearts with the sayings on them? I never got into those, even as a kid. Personally, I thought that candy should taste good no matter what. And, I didn’t like those hard-to-bite-into types. First of all, they weren’t made out of chocolate and we all know chocolate is the mainstay of the February 14th celebration. I think it was the fourth grade where someone gave me a small Valentines (a card in the shape of a sports car saying “You’re my speed,” comes to mind) and glued some of those candy hearts on the front. Now how stupid was that? I couldn’t get the candy off the card!

Here in the South, Valentine’s Day is a pretty big deal. From the time I can remember, it was the major holiday precluding the dreaded St. Patrick’s Day – you know where you got pinched if you didn’t wear green. Except, I always wore green. Ugly Catholic School uniform. Oh, dear, I digress.

normandie-pictureToday, I am honored to introduce to you my guest blogger and fellow author, Normandie Fischer. Normandie Fischer is a sailor who writes and a writer who sails. After studying sculpture in Italy, she returned to the States, graduated suma cum laude, and went to work in the publishing field, moving from proofreader up the ladder to senior editor, honing technical tomes, creative non-fiction, and, later, fiction. She and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing from San Francisco to the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, and on through the Panama Canal. They moved home to coastal North Carolina to take care of her aging mother, where, as often as possible, she enjoys her two grown children and two grandchildren. She is the author of six novels.

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AUDIOBOOKS AND ACCENTS by Normandie Fischer

People from Elsewhere talk about a Southern accent as if there were only one, and when they mention a drawl, they don’t mean Tennessee or North Carolina. They mean Alabama, maybe Georgia. But down here, we know the difference. Southern accents not only vary by state, they vary by region within each state, sometimes even by a square mile or two. They certainly vary by heritage, age, and wealth; by whether you’re citified, countrified, farm-bred, or mountain born. You’ll hear accents that have a drawl, a twang, are upbeat, downbeat, meandering, unintelligible, slow moving, silken, and sometimes rough.

I’m most familiar with North Carolina, although I spent some schooling days in the SC low country. But near my family’s coastal NC home, we have dozens of dialects and accents, including some rare ones that have elements of Elizabethan English left over from the isolation caused before bridges joined islands like Harkers to the mainland of Down East. The middle-state folk don’t sound much like the mountain-area born and bred, nor do they sound at all like the Downeasters—the folk who live east of the Atlantic Ocean coastline of Beaufort. (That still gets to me—if you’re already at the ocean, how can you keep driving east? You can because a lot of the coastline here actually faces south, and you just hook a left to go east.)

We who’ve lived down here and have generations of South behind us know the difference, and if we’re writers, we hear the differences in the voices we create. And I want to hear them in the audiobooks I listen to when I cook or clean, take a walk, pretend to exercise on the elliptical, or get behind the wheel of my car.

heavy-weather-coverAnd that’s the trick, isn’t it? When it came time to find a narrator for Heavy Weather, my second Carolina Coast novel, I listened to audition after audition, hoping to find one who could match even half the accents I’d imagined. I wanted to hear the softer, more educated voice of Hannah and Clay contrasted with Annie Mac’s more countrified voice and Roy’s angry, mean share-cropper’s accent. And then there were the children. And the housekeeper. And the town.

Tricky combinations, certainly. I knew the publisher of my debut novel, Becalmed, had given up and just found someone to read the book. I didn’t want that. I wanted Heavy Weather (and all my books) read by someone who’d capture my attention, who’d make me laugh and cry and rise up in fury at the bad guy’s antics. Who’d make me long for a happy ending. Who’d leave me with a satisfied sigh.

I don’t know how many narrators I listened to before Laura Jennings asked to audition. After listening to her audio sample in some awe, I sent it to my husband, my daughter. We agreed: we’d found the woman who could make the book come alive and make us believe. Now, Laura’s not a Southerner, but she has lived in Fayetteville, and she got what I said when I told her my characters were not Deep South. I told her I’d rather have no accent than the wrong one, and she got that, too. So, in some cases, we merely have hints at the dialect, but that’s good.

By the time she’d finished recording and then fixing all the niggling things this perfectionist author wanted tweaked, we had an audiobook that did all I’d wanted. I know the story intimately and yet I teared up at the sad bits and laughed at the funny ones because Laura made me believe. She’s that good. Which means, I hired her to record Twilight Christmas (the novella sequel to Heavy Weather), and she’s also going to be doing my next Carolina Coast novel.

The audiobook of Two from Isaac’s House needed slight Southern for two of the characters, but I was more concerned with the Italian and Arabic accents in that one. And Brandon Potter nailed those.

To celebrate the release of Heavy Weather in audiobook, I’m going to give one away to one person who comments here. I’ll also offer an ebook to someone else. Just let me know which you’d prefer and why.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say about the audiobook: 

“I loved that each chapter focused on a POV! The writer and the narrator made  a wonderful tandem of bringing to life the variety of characters. And what a story!”

“Everything I thought this story was about changed and then changed again. It was a thriller, a love story and a spiritual lesson rolled into a testament to a mother’s love. I loved it.”

“The narrator was incredible. She handled the scariest of personas I’ve ever listened to as well as the innocence of a 10-year-old boy and made you believe.”

You can find Normandie on the following:

Website: www.normandiefischer.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingOnBoard
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NormandieFischer/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Normandie-Fischer/e/B00BSIF2NI/

I want to thank Normandie for blogging today.  By the way, her novel, Heavy Weather, will be on sale for 99 cents at  Ereader News Today on February 16.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a look at a famous southern women who just happen to be an author.

Jody