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Never Too Old to Take the Plunge

Jon High Dive

In my travels as a writer, one question I am often asked is if I grew up wanting to a be a writer. It’s a reasonable question. Many, if not most, of my writer friends were writing stories as young as six or seven. From the time they could pick up a fat pencil, they were making up stories, dreaming of the day they would become the creator of their own storybooks. From time to time, people ask me for help in getting a children’s book they authored published. For the record, I’ve never published a children’s book and know absolutely nothing about it. Books, like medicine, have their specialties. Seeing an OB/GYN about a brain tumor would be akin to asking a true crime writer how to get a romance novel published. While we all practice the same profession, the application of that profession is completely different. read more

About Hillbilly Elegy & Those Who Champion Us

Photo by Sue Counts

Photo by Sue Counts

I’ve been reading the book that everyone was talking about six months ago – Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. It has been touted as an insightful book about Appalachia and more specifically about the people who voted Donald Trump into office.

It’s not really either of those things. When Vance says he’s from Appalachia what he means is that his people are from Kentucky, which is unquestionably Appalachia. But he grew up in Ohio, which to people who are Appalachian, not Appalachia. read more

In Memory of Ellen & the Adventures

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There’s a stack of papers on my desk needing my attention while I type this out – the edits on the next novel, Christian Bend (note name change, formerly Rain). When you read the book the name change will become apparent.

Twenty years ago this very day, I walked into the local newspaper office and began my first job as a reporter. It was my 40th birthday. I knew even that very day that I would always remember it as a significant life change. I had been writing already, having been prompted to take up writing when professor & poet George Venn called forth the skill dormant within. He saw it long before I even realized it was something I might enjoy doing. I consider him part wizard, actually, this ability he had to speak a gifting into life. I hadn’t known that was even possible at such a late age in life. read more

On the Road Again

Last night I was cleaning up some files on my computer and came across some old photos on a flash drive I had set aside. Many of the pictures were from my last residency at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts.

The Shed 023

That’s me with Martin, one of the fellas who helped run the Center.

The reason I went to Alabama to write a book was because the book I was writing – Karly Sheehan: The True Crime Story behind Karly’s Law – was a disturbing one. I did not want to write about the murder of a child in my home office. Going to Fairhope offered me the opportunity to write in complete solitude. I didn’t know but a couple of people in town at the time. And the center is located directly behind the back door of one of the most beautiful of libraries. read more

An Excellent Cricket

FullSizeRender (1) When I turned 50, friends & family threw a party for me in Washington, DC. One of my dear veteran friends, Redman Flegal, who never reads any of my books, even the ones that feature him, gave me an old copy of Prince of Tides. Inside was an inscribed note from Pat Conroy wishing me Happy Birthday. Only I knew Pat and knew he didn’t write it. Redman

and the other veterans make a habit of sending me notes from famous people. They taunt me that way. I sent Pat a note and told him what Red had done. Pat got such a kick out of that, he sent me a note back telling me to tell Red how much he relished that prank. read more