books Posts

That Moment of True Christmas


Books are always a go-to gift in this house .This year’s theme was on famous artists.

Christmas is a bit discombobulated this year, with two of our four kids celebrating the season in Georgia. I always figured on me being the one who would end up back in Georgia, instead it’s my son Stephan who is living and working there.

Life can be a journey full of switchbacks.

Here I raised one son and three daughters and now have three grandsons and the hope of a granddaughter one day. I’ve had her Easter outfit hanging in my closet now for a good five years.  So until I’ve lost all hope, the pink dress will continue to take up the space in my life I’ve created for it.

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A Season for Giving: Jewelry!! Books!!

Christmas. Ashley

Wearing one of the Christmas dresses Mama made.

My mother loved Christmas. She always made a fuss over it. The last outing she took in her life was to a Christmas service with my nephew and his wife. She rose up Christmas morning and told my brother that she was dying. A nurse, Mama knew all the signs, even when it was her own dying.

She died the next day.

But before that awful season of her dying, Mama always did Christmas up big. She’d be the first to get her tree up. It was fake. When we were growing up in that trailer house, the tree was a four foot aluminum foil tree. I think of it fondly now, in the nostalgia that comes when there’s been a far distance between actually living in the trailer. I’m thankful for the experiences. I never want to repeat them.

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BOOK GIVEAWAY #2: The Free State of Jones



Unable to read for days on end, I lay in a dark room imagining all the books yet to be read. It was awful, not being able to read. My mother, who loved to read, who read several books every week, lost the ability to read when the brain tumors showed up. She retaught herself how to write, but the reading ability never returned.

Reading sustains us.

Today’s Book Giveaway #2 is THE FREE STATE OF JONES: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War by Victoria E. Bynum. Put out by UNC Press, you can read all about the book here.

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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.

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Thank a Veteran for that Book You Love


A few years ago, I mentioned Kent State to my university students. You know, First Amendment and all that Right to Assemble business. Only problem was no one in class had ever heard of all that mess at Kent State. They only knew of Kent State as a place where basketball was sometimes played well.

This is what is commonly called as background knowledge. The more background knowledge a person lacks, the less understanding they bring to the page when reading, the bigger the educational gaps.

When it comes to the subject of the American War in Vietnam there’s a wide canyon of misunderstanding and just sheer lack of knowledge. Naturally, I suppose, I make a point of trying to bridge that gap, in my writing and in my teaching.

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