Breaking the Belle Curve




I am a born and bred Southerner.  I lived outside the South — waaaaaay outside on another continent entirely — for four years, but despite the temptation of Wiener Schnitzel and apple strudel, my Southern soul still yearned for fried chicken and peach cobbler.  I even gave “fried chicken lessons” to several of my Yankee neighbors and tried to explain to another exactly what black eyed peas were.

Southern women have certain “things” that just are.  Things like courtesy, being able to correctly use the word “y’all,” the ability to tell someone to go to hell and make them look forward to the trip and knowing when to bless someone’s heart.

We call our elders Miss So-and-So, and despite being mumblesixty-ishmumble years old and being called Miss Marilyn myself, I still call my elderly neighbors Miss Vera, Miss Margie and Miss Lois.

I have a deviled egg plate, something NO respectable Southern woman is without. However I do not have a silver pattern.  It’s just too expensive and I’d rather travel than eat with Grand Baroque or Francis I.

Another thing a Southern woman does is make good chicken salad.  Recipes vary but the basic ingredients are the same.  I use cooked chicken, finely chopped pickles (I like the tart bread and butter ones), chopped hard-cooked egg, some salt and pepper and mayo to bind it together.

I made a batch last night and I am ashamed to say that I broke the belle curve.  I did something you simply are not supposed to do and still be able to hold your Southern head high.  I used some dark meat.  *gasp*

I can hear the outrage now.  I didn’t want to break the rules.  I just ran out of white meat.  There’s only a little dark meat in there and unless you look real hard you can’t see it.

But my sense of truth, justice and the American way insists I must confess my transgression.

So… fellow Southern Belles, do you follow the Belle rules?  Tell me your favorite.  Or your most recent transgression is you like.  I promise I won’t drum you out of Belle-dom.



I’ve had a long, frustrating week in many ways, but it’s Friday (albeit a rainy one).  It’s also the day before the second Saturday of the month, so that means only one thing:

RWA chapter meeting tomorrow!

My local chapter is Heart of Dixie, and I’ve been a member for nine years.  I’ve learned a great deal from the other members, the monthly programs and the workshops we have periodically.  It’s a time to meet with other people who understand that voices in your head aren’t necessarily a sign of mental illness and who also understand the frustrations of operating in a publishing world that seems to change hourly.

The best part, though, is getting with my Writing Playground peeps.  We’ve been together since 2005.  The other four members of the group, Kimberly Lang, Andrea Laurence, Kira Sinclair and Dani Wade, have all sold to major publishers.  While I’ve sold around 250,000 words of short stories — the equivalent of 4 category romances — my name hasn’t been on any of them and none of it counts with RWA toward any sort of recognition.  The Playfriends, however, have recognized my accomplishments and continue to be supportive.

The long dry spell I’ve had during and since my divorce seems to have come to an end and I’ve been back in the writing saddle since the first of March.  I have a novella almost ready to submit to a publisher contest and a short romance (about 8000 words) nearing completion for submission to the same publisher. And I have some new story ideas too.  So it’s onward and upward for me.

And speaking of stories almost ready to submit, I’d better get back to them!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Or I hope my absence has made you grow fonder of me.  ~grin~

I’ve been down with a nasty eye infection (it’s all cured now thank goodness) and I’ve been writing.

And writing and writing and writing.

My novella is complete and the synopsis is very close to completion.   I just have a tweak or two.

I have a short story almost ready to submit too.  It needs one more read-through to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking ahead to the next story.  What if…?  That’s how it all starts.

Mark one off my bucket list

Actually, being in a tornado was never on my bucket list, but if it had been, I could mark it off now.  The National Weather Service has officially categorized Thursday’s storm as an EF1 tornado.

I didn’t get picked up and deposited in Oz, but it was quite an exciting afternoon.  I can live without that sort of excitement, though.  Just give me a good book or movie instead.

Today was sunny and I spent it with my RWA chaptermates and my fellow Playfriends from The Writing Playground (sans Kimberly Lang who was having a book signing in Pigeon Forge, TN).  We had a great meeting, a dress swap (I scored a great little black dress and someone else got two dresses of mine I couldn’t wear any more — can you say win-win?) and a productive writing session at a nearby deli.

I’m very close to finishing the short story revision. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Monday. If it’s sunny tomorrow too, I might just commune with nature instead of writing.

Mother Nature — she can be a mean gal

Downed power line 1/2 a block from my church where I was hiding out from today’s storms.

It’s springtime in the Tennessee Valley, and unfortunately that usually brings us some bad storms. Today we had a system move through and the photo above is just a fraction of the damage it caused. Because I take the weather seriously, I didn’t head home when my boss let us go an hour early because I would have been driving right into the worst of the storm. Instead I headed to my church, where I usually go on Thursday nights for a study group and dinner. Tonight it was just the pastor and me. He’d already fixed the meal, but when we heard the civil defense siren signaling a tornado warning he called folks and told them to stay home.

Shortly after that the power went out. I’d taken my emergency radio to work so I could monitor things. We’d been warned bad weather was headed out way. We were warned last week. I told you I take it seriously. So the pastor and I got into an interior room with no windows and waited out the storm. We could tell it was raining very heavily but we had no idea the winds were so bad. Then we heard on the radio about a downed power pole causing a power outage and when they gave the location, we knew it was just at the edge of our church property. The Episcopal church next door had downed trees, one of which was driven through their church van.

The National Weather Service will investigate tomorrow to see if it was just wind or maybe a microburst or possibly a small tornado. Regardless, it was too close for comfort and I’m glad no one was hurt. A woman was trapped in her car by that falling pole, but she was able to get out safely. And a home had a large tree fall across it, but the owners were not injured. I feel for them. The same thing happened to a friend of mine two years ago and it took quite a while to get everything repaired.

So next time you think of Mother Nature and all the beautiful flowers she gives us, remember she has a mean streak too. If you live in an area prone to bad weather, be weather aware and take the watches and warnings seriously. Have an emergency radio, flashlights, candles, a helmet to protect your head (yes, my bike helmet was in my tote bag too) and most importantly, have a PLAN.

Photo from WHNT-TV, Huntsville, Alabama

Be good to yourself

We live in a dog-eat-dog world.  Competition for everything is fierce.  And too often we’re harder on ourselves than anyone else ever is.

So when you get the chance to pat yourself on the back, do it.  Be kind to yourself.  Give yourself rewards for hitting goals.

I have a deck of Self Help Cards by Cheryl Richardson.  I turn one over every day, and when I’m through with the deck, I shuffle and start over.  My card for yesterday said TIME:  Schedule a sacred date with yourself.  You deserve time for your life.  Today’s card was RELAXATION:  Allow yourself to be lazy.  It’s okay to “do” nothing.

I had planned to take some time off and let the novella I just finished “sink in.”  I need to let it percolate so to speak.  And then I’ll tackle revising it.  But these cards gave me permission to.  Actually, they reminded me it’s good and important to do this.  So tomorrow I’m having a massage, and the rest of the weekend I’m going to catch up on some reading and maybe watch a DVD or two.  Then Monday I’m back in the writing saddle and back on Weight Watchers.

I treated myself to something else special:  flowers.  I love having fresh flowers and really should treat myself to them more often.  Like the L’Oreal commercial says, “I’m worth it.”

How do you like what I picked out for myself?  And what do you do to treat yourself?