I have told this story before to sell books but my telling it now has another purpose, to honor a friend. Adrienne Dunning was a fantastic, funny and feisty woman who lived up to her hair color. She died in a tragic accident the morning of July 5th. We’d just started making plans to return to Murfreesboro for a second writers’ retreat.
It was nearly two years ago, my friend, Adrienne Dunning and I were going to a writers’ retreat in Murfreesboro. I had known Adrienne for several years through the Pamlico Writers’s Group and our work on the writers conference. We’d become closer as we worked more closely together on projects for the Pamlico Writers. Like me, Adrienne had a lot of ideas and together we were looking forward to making them happen. We were still getting to know each other on a personal level, but we liked and respected each other’s work and writing so had made plans to attend several events together or meet up at a couple. The first was our trip to Murfreesboro.
Adrienne drove, and she and I shared stories about ourselves on our trip. I’d left my husband home with no electricity after a hurricane. He had told me to go, no need for me to cancel my plans since everything else was okay. Adrienne pointed out familiar places as she’d grown up in the area. She took me on a quick driving tour of the college and down town before bringing me up to the renovated house where I’d be staying. Adrienne would stay with her parents since they lived nearby and come in for the meals and meetings.
The event’s coordinator and owner of the house, Ruth Akright, had serval authors and a illustrator who would come in to do presentations. While I truly enjoyed the events and meeting the other authors, it was our impromptu discussions about writing that made the weekend the most memorable for me.
I was struggling to write my fourth book feeling frustrated that I just couldn’t get it right. I wanted a true romance without all the murder and explosions. Adrienne pointed out that I was struggling because I was trying to force the story. That instead of trying to make it be a romance, just write it. And if I had to blow things up or murder a few people, well just go with it. I’d already written three romantic suspense stories, evidently that’s what I enjoyed writing.
Being true to yourself… true to your passions. Adrienne loved romance and Scotland, combining the two and finally checking Scotland off her bucket list was what she dreamed of! She enjoyed sharing her books with her readers but helping other writers was another passion.
I will miss Adrienne as a friend, fellow writer and her dedication to the Pamlico Writers’ Group. To her parents, family and friends I add my condolences. To her readers and fans her light was extinguished too soon. To those of us who were just getting to know the wonderful, talented woman, the loss is greater for the regrets, we believed we had more time.
In 2021, Haunted Pamlico and the Pamlico Writers Group are teaming up again to sponsor the second-annual Haunt Season Writing Competition. We’re seeking poems, ghost stories, creepy tales, science fiction or horror fiction related to the haunting season, which peaks in October.
We will accept prose entries of 2,000 words or poems of unspecified length by email at email@example.com. We’ll take submissions from May 1 through Aug. 1. The entries will be judged by the Writers Group and Haunted Pamlico. We’ll present awards to a winner and two finalists during our Carnival of Darkness film festival in September.
Selected entries may appear in a Pamlico Writers Group anthology.
When you enter, please include your full name, email address and mailing address in the body of the email. All work must be original, and you must hold exclusive rights to any work you submit.
It’s free to enter the competition, which is open to writers anywhere. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” A quote from “The Mouse” by Robert Burns.
In the fall of 2019, my friend Tammera sent out an email to see who would be interested in joining her at the NC Book Festival 2020 in Raleigh. I’d never heard of it but as an Indie-author I’m always looking for ways to get my name out into the public, so I said yes.
In October, we divided into two groups, Alison Paul Klakowicz author of Mommy’s Big Red Truckhttps://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com/ and Tammera Cooper author of The Water Street Chronicles https://www.southernromanceonthepamlico.com/brackish-blogging, and Adrienne Dunning author of several sweet romances https://adriennedunning.com/ and I would have two tables at the festival. I went to the website and posted and reposted anything I saw to help drive traffic to their website and to the festival. Tammera made us lovely banners to put on our social media. We posted, Tweeted, chatted and blogged about it, and still people did not know about it. From October to February there was very little traffic on their website. I saw no advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram except what I or my friends posted but I hoped since they charge so much for a table, that they had at least put out signs and advertised locally.
Then the snow came. We had had a lovely winter with temperatures averaging in the seventies until the week of the festival, then we get twenty-degree weather and snow. I know, you cannot plan for these things. I was hoping that like the hurricane that came when I went to Murfreesboro for a writer’s retreat that everything would turn out just fine. Well, the weather warmed, the snow and ice melted, and everything went off without a hitch…mostly.
Without proper advertising and publicity, people were unaware that we were even there. My friend was on the same block as the book festival and had no idea it was even going on until she returned home and saw my posts on Facebook.
It wasn’t a total waste of time. I had a nice weekend away with my friend although the weather derailed some of our plans. I met some fantastic people at the festival, promoted the upcoming Pamlico Writers’ Conference and made some connections for future interviews on my website but I only sold two books.
It is difficult to balance the cost of the table, hotel, gas and food, not to mention the books and bling we bought to attract people to our tables with the number of books sold.
While I am trying to remain upbeat and positive, I know that I blew my budget on this weekend and have little to show for it. Will I do it again? Not if I’m paying for it. Do I think it’s a waste of time? Not for a group like the Pamlico Writers who wanted to promote their conference but for an individual author, yeah, it wasn’t worth the cost.
I think the NC Book Festival could be a profitable and fun event. It needs to be in a central location instead of spread out to so many different venues, and it needs more marketing behind it. Every writers’ group or organization, publisher and agent in North Carolina should have been contacted as well as all the libraries and bookstores. There should have been signs up around town and especially at the venue alerting people that something cool was happening. I feel like this was a missed opportunity and for an Indie-author with a small budget, this failure hurts the pocketbook and sets me back.
But I did have a good time. As I was setting up my table the man across the way greeted me and we exchanged information about ourselves and our books. Come to find out, we have a friend in common, my mentor, Marni Graff. Thomas A. Burns, jr. author of Stripper, Revenge and Trafficked also deals with the darker side of life, especially sex trafficking. I am presently reading his first book and Tom and I have plans for an interview. It will be interesting to compare notes.
I also met two lovely ladies sitting behind me, a lady who’d written a biography and has ties to Washington, a lovely British woman a former history professor who is now writing young adult time travel adventure novels. The day was filled with lovely people, authors, publishers, poets and even a handsome economist.
While financially I don’t feel as if I can recommend this event, culturally and for the connections, it was a lovely experience.
The end of a decade. As we prepare to ring in the new year and the new decade, I find myself looking back over the past ten years. So much has happened in such a short time.
After winning the Ann Peach Award in 2009 and joining Romance Writers of America, I started truly thinking about being a published writer ending the last decade on a creative high.
In January 2010 we lost our home to fire. While this was mind-numbingly devastating it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. It may seem that this decade started with tragedy but with every bad blow we were also given a blessing.
The night after the fire I went with my daughter-in-law to the hospital, it was the last chance she’d have to tour the hospital before our grandson Harley was born. My son, and her husband (at the time) was stationed overseas and trying his best to get home before the birth of his son. We lost nearly everything in that fire, but we walked away with our lives and a few short weeks after, we gained a grandchild.
When I think of all we lost, it’s not the Christmas presents we haven’t replaced that fill me with regret but those items that can never be replaced: the horse whip that belonged to my husband’s grandfather from his time in the wild west show, or the quilt his maternal grandmother made, my baby sister’s baby shoes, my children’s baby books, photo albums and high school annuals.
But both sons who were living with us at the time, are still alive. The youngest whose room was in flames had to leap from his bed to the stairwell, became a firefighter. Our other son has always been someone we could call if we needed anything. The fire was devastating but many blessings came out of it.
We stayed a few months with my parents. It was stressful at the time. I wasn’t sleeping good. I was having nightmares and the added stress of trying to conform to someone else’s schedule made it more difficult. Adding to the stress was the fact that my daughter-in-law wasn’t happy living in such a rural environ with two small children. She was ready to get back to Savannah and her life and friends. I was thankful for the time with my family but there were days I was barely functioning.
Our community were a great asset to us. People brought us clothes, household goods, and money to help us during this time. Moving into our present home that spring was thanks in large part to the physical help of my sister-in-law and her family and to the financial help of our friends, family and community. With each blow there has been a blessing, most times the blessings have outweighed the trauma.
On New Year’s Day 2011, my dad was found dead in his bathroom. The EMTs believed he suffered an aneurism and died suddenly. His death was followed by the birth of our granddaughter Ava. My son calls the day of the funeral, he’s not going to be able to be a pallbearer, he’s on his way to the hospital with his wife. He tried to convince us that as soon as she had the baby, he’d come to the funeral, but I knew my daddy would prefer he stay with his wife and child.
In the spring of 2011, Mom, my youngest son, oldest grandson and myself went to Savannah to visit. We spent a week with my Army son and his family. We explored downtown, Tybee Island and went on a ghost walk. I want to go back again.
Late in the season, we had our first hurricane. It was the first since my daddy died and I insisted my mom come stay with us. It didn’t seem all that bad, it was down to a category one. Hurricane Irene destroyed my parent’s home with flood waters and devastated our community. We had several rescues the night of the hurricane, our niece and her family and a couple of friends. When mom and I went to check on her place I was shocked to see the damage. The tide waters had been pushed ashore through two high tides, flooding even the church which was on the highest piece of land in the community.
My sons came with a generator and began helping us sort through the salvage in Mom’s house. The fire was easier, there was nothing left to sift through. This loss was probably harder than any other because everyone was going through something at this time and there was no one to offer comfort. Everyone was overwhelmed and exhausted.
Just when we’re returning to some sort of normal, later that year, my mother, who was living with us at the time, fell and broke her hip. 2011 was not a very good year for us but we did get a new granddaughter.
2012 Vietnam Homecoming with my father-in-law and started writing articles for the Pamlico News. My first stories were interviews of Vietnam Veterans and their families. I was also able to follow my youngest son around the track for track and field and use my role as reporter to promote my community and special interest. Many of the stories I covered while writing for the paper inspired my fiction.
The next few years were a blur of babies, weddings, separations, divorces and graduations. Blake graduated from Pamlico High School. Dustin got his master’s degree from East Carolina University. Aries graduated from Pamlico Community College. My in-laws, Wayne and Verna’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 2014
In the past ten years we’ve been blessed with Trinity whose big sister Alijah came along when her mom married into the family. Sophia, followed in close succession by two sisters, Sabrina and Carol to parents Chris and Shannon also married in this decade. Conner whose brother Cody and sister Hailey joined the family just ahead of him, along with their mom Brandi who married my soldier son, Jason, who is now a civilian. We have another Brandy, making three Brandies for one family (my niece Brandy informs me she was the first and our first baby girl), and a Sherry (spelled with an I) but then I do work at the ABC store. What does ten years look like? Well, coming into this decade we had five grandchildren, only one a granddaughter, and at the close of this decade we have 20 grandchildren, standing about half and half. The third Brandy in the family just gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jessie David and he was greeted by big sister Sylvia who is two and half years older but rules the roost. Our youngest son, Blake married Katelynn Scott and they have two boys Elijah and Kaysen.
I met Louise Penny at a book signing in Fearington Village when I went on a girls’ trip with Marni Graff and friends.
Became chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group in 2015.
2016 I had my first stories published in a book, the Pamlico Writers’ Anthology, “A Carolina Christmas,” and had my first book signing.
Published my first book in 2017, “Chrome Pink” and had my first solo book signing.
Went to my first Comicon in 2017. I even dressed up. We had a lot of fun.
In 2018 I published my second book, White Gold and in 2019, I’ve published two books, Titanium Blue and Evergreen Crystals. I’ve also had two novellas published with The New Romance Café anthologies, Love in Bloom and a historical in Kisses and Other Scandalous Pastimes.
Gave my first writer’s talks in 2019 and published my fourth book.
So much more has happened in the past ten years. We’ve lost good friends. Buried friends and husbands of friends, my great aunts and a few cousins. We’ve gained weight, lost weight, turned gray and turned loose. Some of us aren’t as mobile as we were before but those that are left keep marching on. As difficult as the first of this decade was, I still believe it’s been a good one. I miss my dad and friends who have passed on. I mourn them but life goes on and I don’t think they would want us to stop living.
As 2020 peers around the edge of 2019, I’m working on my next novel, Red Steel which is part of the Leeward Files series and a bridge for my new series, The Harrell Family Chronicles. I’ve also had a historical series on the back burner for years I want to start working on. It’s going to be a busy year but I’m looking forward to it. I plan to spend as much time as possible with grandchildren and family, writing and reading good books, and just enjoying each day. Remember we are not guaranteed tomorrow, the past is done, today is a gift that is why it is called the present. Have a happy new year.
I love our community Christmas parade. From the time I was in high school until my children were grown, there were very few parades I did not participate in. I have been a clown and a beauty queen. I have marched with the Aurora Woman’s Club, rode on floats with clubs and my church. I have led the parade and even acted as pooper scooper behind the horses (not my favorite thing to do). I have been on a float with Cub Scouts and marched along behind rescue big strong boys from frightening clowns. I love standing on the sidelines waving at friends and neighbors. Seeing old friends in the crowd and being reunited if only with a wave and a smile. I love the feeling of Christmas, unity and joy the fills the air. The excitement of the children as they rush forward to grab candy and gifts tossed from floats and cars. I love a parade but especially our hometown Christmas parade.
Christmas lights and decorations. I love when the town-works guys bring out the cherry picker and start hanging the snowflakes about town. They are so delicate and pretty. Maybe, if we lived someplace where we had snow on a regular basis, not every two or three years, the snowflake wouldn’t be such a wonderful thing. But here in the south where snow is a luxury that shuts down everything, the pretty little snowflake lights are wistful and fun. I also love to see Ms. Lib’s window displays. She has the best window displays for every season, but she goes all out at Christmas. Ms. Lib, a local hair stylist has a salon on Main Street. Her window displays are legendary. She also has lovely decorations in her yard. The library rivals Ms. Lib for window designs and the museum decorates the fossil park.
I love Christmas cards. I love giving them and receiving them. It is one of the reasons NaNo messes me up. I enjoyed doing NaNoWriMo this year but with it being in November, it makes me too tired to do some of the other things I enjoy doing for Christmas, like my large volume Christmas card/letter writing. I used to love to do a newsletter with highlights of what the kids and I have been up to but now that we’re up to twenty grandchildren I can’t keep up.
I don’t decorate a lot at home because of work and it seems there’s just no time anymore. With a fulltime job, chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group and trying to launch my writing career, something has to give, my poor house needs a friend. I do just what has to be done. Maybe a few days off after the new year will help. My favorite decorations are the snowflake Christmas lights my husband bought to go on our porch. I want to keep them up all year because they are so pretty. The first year, I think I convinced David to let them stay up to almost Easter, telling him the snowflakes could pass for flowers. I really liked those lights, especially coming home from work and the porch being lit up. I love putting the Christmas cards up on the doors, their varied pictures a kaleidoscope of Christmas. But when we put the Nut Crackers on the mantle, unwrapping each one and placing it just so, the love we feel because they were a gift from David’s sister to replace the ones he lost when our home was destroyed by fire. Somethings, no matter their price, have a value greater than money because the heart of the person who gave them. I have ornaments made by a child’s hands and collector’s items, the ones made by the children are more precious than anything money could buy.
Christmas Eve we’ll have a party with the whole Hollister family and a few extras thrown into the mix. Children will run around squealing and laughing, the adults move a little slower but laugh and sing and play. We exchange inexpensive gifts, sometimes gag gifts, sometimes stuff we’ve made, but always something from the heart. We eat, each year we do something different from quiches to soups to this year, we’ll have pizza. It’s all about being together.
Christmas morning, what children who will come and open gifts. My husband and I love filling the stockings. He buys a hundred dollars-worth of chocolate for me and the daughters-in-law. I have fun stuffing gifts into each one’s stocking, making their stocking as much delight as the rest of their gifts. We open gifts, have a big breakfast, usually it is French toast casserole, but we’ve had waffles and ice cream, and monkey bread. This year we’ll go to my uncle’s house for lunch and back home for sandwiches and a couple of games of cards (my husband and sons cheat).
What are some of your favorite things about the holidays? Do you celebrate Christmas or another holy day? What are some of your traditions?
LaDonna Holloman to my virtual café. It is so nice to have you with me today.
LaDonna will be one of the authors signing and selling books at the Aurora
Fossil Festival, Saturday, May 25th. I’m so glad you stopped by.
LaDonna: Yes, thank you for inviting me.
Sherri: LaDonna is a member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, she joined about the time we were planning our Carnival of Books. I feel as if I’ve known you forever, I was surprised to learn that you are not originally from North Carolina.
LaDonna: No, we moved to Washington four years ago. My husband is the pastor of Snowd Branch Church of God. I was born in beautiful West Virginia but grew up in Maryland.
Sherri: So, you are still new to the area. Wow, that’s exciting. Do you miss your home?
LaDonna: I do miss my home state, but I love North Carolina.
Sherri: I was very close to our former pastor and his family. I know it’s not easy being a pastor’s wife. I admire you.
LaDonna: I was a Children’s Church pastor for over ten years. My husband and I have been in the ministry most of our 45 years of marriage.
Sherri: Forty-five years, congratulations. David and I will celebrate twenty-eight years this July.
work influence your writing?
LaDonna: I was always a story teller growing up, but never wrote them down. As Children’s Church pastor, I wrote my own clown and puppet skits. I’m a retired Registered Nurse, working in Labor and Delivery with the Newborn babies. Miss those babies, but love the change in my life, writing.
Sherri: Two admirable and demanding professions, along with being a wife and mother. Retired now, does that mean you are able to write full-time?
LaDonna: I’m a Senior Pastor’s wife so my time is divided three ways: church, family and writing.
Sherri: So, there is still a big demand on your time?
have you been writing?
LaDonna: I have only been pursuing writing for one year.
Sherri: Wow, then I really am impressed. You have gone all out with publishing and marketing. It’s not easy for a new author to get noticed. What kind of books do you write?
LaDonna: I have written and published through Christian Faith Publishing, my first book, “Where Have All the Children Gone?” The genre would be Christian mystery/fantasy.
book, which is almost complete, will be Indie Published.
I also have
the outline for a clean romance that takes place in Ireland. I recently was
invited to a wedding while visiting Ireland and my mind has taken off with the
I am also
working on a children’s book but probably will not write many of them. I found
our it isn’t my favorite genre since getting older.
Sherri: Sounds like you are going to be busy. That’s great. I have met your husband and your daughter, and they seem very proud of you and very supportive. I believe that is important. We can write on our own but having the support of family and friends makes a better experience.
compelled you to write your stories?
LaDonna: I’ve always wanted to write down my stories but just never had the time, until now. As a pastor’s wife I’ve always wanted to share my faith without being overbearing. What better way than writing a story?
Sherri: I agree, sharing our stories allow us to inspire and educate without beating someone over the head. I believe it is important to have stories that allow us to see ourselves and others in a different light. Earlier you mentioned several genres you were already writing, do you have plans for anything different in the future?
LaDonna: I would like to write a romance and a time-travel story.
Sherri: Right now, you are busy promoting “Where Have All the Children Gone?” But what other projects are you working on?
LaDonna: I am working on the second of three series, “Journey to the Dark Island,” The Island Journeys series. Nicole returns to what she believes is the island of her childhood, but in time, discovers it is totally the opposite.
I am also in
the process of self-publishing my first children’s book, “Luke and the
Sparrow.” Luke loves learning about birds. He finds a sparrow with a broken
wing and has to defend it from bullies. With the help of Nicole, he learns that
God cares for even the sparrows, if he only prays and believes.
Sherri: Is this the same Nicole from the Island Journeys series in the children’s book?
LaDonna: Yes, it started out following the boy in the island story, but it just didn’t fit right, but I kept the same characters.
Sherri: What do you enjoy about writing?
LaDonna: The fun part is not knowing how the story is going to end until you get there!
I have had
the opportunity to be interviewed on three different radio stations. Two of
which have been in Ireland. They’ve invited me back when my second Island book
Sherri: Now that is so cool. How did you get invited to be on the radio?
LaDonna: I did an interview with K-Love radio through CFP and my daughter is a co-host on a radio station in Ireland and arranged for me to be interviewed. They liked it so much they invited me back with my second book and then Spirit radio station heard me and invited me to do one with them.
Sherri: That is awesome.
What do you
despise about being a writer?
LaDonna: Distractions! And definitely the marketing.
Sherri: Oh yes, don’t we all. Marketing is that necessary evil we all have to face if we want to make back at least some of our investment. What have you tried besides being on the radio? Which I think is super cool and you get double points for being on the radio in Ireland.
LaDonna: Marketing is so hard. I’ve been trying to build a social media platform but I’m not the world’s best computer person. I’ve been to a few book signings but need to do a few more.
Sherri: What are some of your other hobbies or interests? Do these show up in your books?
LaDonna: Reading and adventure. I’m willing to try anything once. I even went skydiving and have had several pilot’s lessons. Since moving to North Carolina, my husband and I have bought a boat and enjoy cruising. I love to go to the Outer Banks and spend the day at the beach, but I’m just as happy on the porch with a good book or curled up on the couch in front of a fire.
Sherri: Who are some of your favorite authors or what genre of books do you like to read?
LaDonna: I love Christian Fantasy/mystery. Ted Dekker is one of my favorites. Jennifer Pierce, Rachel Starr Thomson, and lately I’ve been reading clean romances by Abby Ayles, Carole Towriss and a local author from Greenville, Jennifer Conway.
Sherri: It looks like our time is running out. LaDonna, thank you for stopping by my Creekside Café. I look forward to our book signing at the Aurora Fossil Festival, May 25th. Y’all look for us there.
Today I’m sitting on
the porch of Creekside Café with my writer-sister, Tammera Cooper. Tammera is a
fellow member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group as well as a member of, the Heart
of Carolina our local Romance Writers of America group, and the Women’s Fiction
Writers Association. Welcome to Creekside, Tammy.
Tammy: Thanks for the invite. It’s the perfect day to sit on the
porch and visit.
Sherri: You’ve been out this way before.
I make my way across the river every once in a while. I love it when I get over
this way. The Aurora Christmas Craft fair was awesome. I was able to sign some books for readers. We
had a lot of fun.
Sherri: You’re almost local especially if you go by
Tammy: Yes, I live by the Pamlico River with my fiancé. If you look really hard, you
probably could see me waving from shore. Patrick did an awesome job building
our house. Definitely set us up for our own Happily Ever After.
Sherri: You’ve not always believed in happy ever
Tammy: We will just put it like this, life hasn’t been
kind. But that gives me an appreciation for the good times and more angst for
Sherri: I’m so excited to announce that your second book, Sleeping
Mallows will be out soon.
Tammy: It’s almost here, May 15th. If you preorder now,
you will get your copy May 14th.
Sherri: Your series is called the Water Street Chronicles, give our
readers a little taste of your books.
Tammy: My first book, Drenched Sunflowers came out last
fall. I mixed a contemporary Southern fiction with a historical love story. The
ghosts in the Water Street Chronicles tend to be everyone’s favorite
I’ll share what I have
written on the back of the book:
Rainy days and river
views fill Beth’s summer as she makes a new start in small town Washington,
North Carolina. After the loss of her husband in a tragic accident,
simple seems better. It’s time to renovate her life, starting with a
future art gallery on the river. Sam, her contractor, has everything
under control, but the stress of the construction project and new business is
beginning to make her crazy. Nightmares and visions of ghosts become the
nightly norm. She doesn’t have time for this. She doesn’t have time
for her heart to make room for him.
Sam is happy filling his days and nights
with work. His two jobs as a teacher and contractor are his passions and
do not leave room for much else. This new project has possibilities: a
beautiful owner, the history of the house, and an 19th-century diary. Beth’s
dream is becoming a timely reality until she disappears.
Mystery and intrigue fill the haunting
river bank of the Pamlico as Sam and Beth find the truth behind the Water
Street house and each other.
Sherri: Yes, I am Team Sam, but your daughter is Team Brad? Do you
want to give a little hint about this competition?
Tammy: The main
character in the Water Street Chronicles, Beth Pearse, is a young widow and is
having a hard time learning to love again. She had a fairytale marriage, and
when you lose someone so early in life, it makes it hard to start over again.
Sam is her contractor, and her heart wants to take the leap again with him, but
Brad was meant to be her one and only. My readers like to choose sides and tell
me who they think Beth’s heart should be loyal to.
Sherri: You’re a self-published author. I know you’ve had a few
challenges publishing your first book. What are some of the things you learned
with the first book? Was the second a little easier?
Tammy: Number one
give yourself plenty of time to get things done. A cover can be designed and ready 3 months in
advance. It sits there patiently while you get the rest ready. But if you wait
till the last-minute little things, for instance hurricane Florence, can cause
delays and extreme stress. Not that Florence was a little thing. The other
creatives on your team need time too.
Sherri: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Tammy: My favorite Romance book was To Love a Rogue by
Valerie Sherwood. After reading it many times in High School, I headed to the University
of West Florida to study marine archeology, final destination, Port Royal
Jamaica. After finding out I wasn’t a great swimmer, I changed my
major to Art History. And so, started my career in retail management.
In 2014, as a Retail
Store Manager, the writing bug bit. The characters started speaking
and would not leave me alone until I started to put them on paper. The Water
Street Chronicles were born. I have always loved historical romance
and assumed that was what I was writing. Each of the book titles come from
code flowers of the Underground Railroad. During a brainstorming
exercise with a Harlequin Editor at the Babes on the Beach writers retreat, the
contemporary story came to life. I haven’t looked back.
Sherri: I too love historical romance and always planned to write it
but then life happened, and things changed. I still have a historical series
I’m planning to write. What about you, will you write a historical or do you
plan to write in another genre?
Tammy: There is a prequel in the planning for the Chronicles, telling
Selah’s and Abram’s love story and the story of the Underground Railroad in
Washington NC. After that, I guess I will see where life takes me.
Sherri: I’ve read Drenched Sunflowers but only
excerpts of Sleeping Mallows. Share a little of your upcoming book. I know
everyone is getting excited about it.
Tammy: Book two, Sleeping
Mallows, continues the
mystery along the river from the law enforcement point of view. It’s non-stop
action, cover to cover. I’ll share the back of the book:
A river overflows with secrets and ghosts of the past… Will it
reveal what they seek?
The day the Pearse woman was pulled from the river, Deputy Tim
Whitaker knew this was a make or break case. He worked his whole
career cracking the hard ones. Why can’t he catch a break? He should have known
it might get complicated with a much-loved local as the primary suspect and a
second man everyone has seen, but no one knows. All he needs is one clue, one
thing to bring her closure.
Captain Savanna McCormick needs closure – the kind she provides
for other families thanks to her partner Max, her K9 cadaver dog. Too bad she
can’t get her own. Her parents’ disappearance may no longer be a newsworthy
item, but the still-open case is always on her mind, especially now she has
custody of her younger brother. Chaperoning a field trip forces her to confront
her worst fears; returning to Washington, NC where her parents were last seen.
A special assignment brings them together while the job keeps
them apart. Will the Pamlico River prove to be their toughest adversary? Can
they work together and solve the case before the Pamlico washes it all away and
hides its secrets forever?
Sherri: Water features heavily in your stories.
Tammy: I grew up on the
Rappahannock River in Virginia watching the riverside community change with the
times but remaining the same in spirit. The waterside lifestyle is in my blood
and influences my writing every day.
A short time ago, I
made some changes in my career and personal life to put the words on
paper. I now live in Washington, NC. Writing is my second job. I
enjoy the research required to write stories that are woven with the small
Sherri: Before we go, you have a list of actors who you wish to play
your characters if your books are made into a movie.
Tammy: Yes, I do. This is a list of actors I would want to
portray my main characters if my book was made into a movie:
Beth ran to the back of
the house. Her chest hurt as she gasped for her next breath. Screams came from
the small outbuilding at the corner of the yard. Rain poured down in sheets as
the lightning flashed around her. Sunflowers waved in the wind, bending, almost
touching the lawn. The trees joined in the harsh dance forced to follow the
rhythm of the storm. It had gotten worse. Someone was stuck, and they couldn’t
get out of the shed. She kept running, but it seemed the shed was getting
farther away. The yard was starting to flood.
“I’m coming,” she
yelled, but no words came out of her mouth. The screaming got louder. She
finally reached the door. The lightning flashed with a loud clap of thunder.
Beth jumped because it was so loud. She reached for the doorknob, but the
handle was gone.
“Help! The water is
coming in. I can’t get out.”
It was a woman on the
other side of the door. The banging was so loud. Beth tried to get some
leverage on the door, but there was nothing to grab. The rough water was
getting deep, up to Beth’s waist. It wouldn’t stop coming. It must be coming
over the river bank.
She looked around the
yard for something to pry the door open as the structure started to sway. She
had to get her out of there. She ran back to the shed just as it collapsed. A
horrible scream split the night air. The roof fell, and the walls ripped apart
in the surf as they disappeared into the darkness. Maybe she could still save
the woman. Maybe she wasn’t badly hurt. Beth grabbed at the debris tossing it
out of her way like a mad woman. Under a broad beam, she found a young black
woman strangely dressed. The beam held her pinned under the water. Yard tools
and other rubble floated in the waves that churned around her. A basket floated
by Beth as she bent to move the massive beam. She looked down at the person
struggling under the water. It was the woman she had seen in the bathroom
mirror, her eyes pleading for help. She tried to grab Beth as air bubbles
escaped her mouth.
“Oh, my God, it won’t
move.” Beth looked down at her, the hope draining from her spirit. The beam
wouldn’t move. She tried again, but the water was too deep now. With a quick
glance back toward the house, she spied an older woman standing in the window.
Beth waved her arms, hoping for some bit of salvation, but the woman turned
away as if she couldn’t see Beth at all. Beth turned back to the woman and
reached out to lay a reassuring hand on her arm only to find, there was no life
left to be saved.
A K9 cop struggles to adjust to her new role as guardian to her
younger brother after the disappearance of her parents. Washington, North
Carolina needs her help to solve a kidnapping case but first, she must face her
fears of returning to the town her parents were last seen.
*Top 10s list (A
List of your top 10 favorite things OR a list of 10 fun, random facts
1. I lived
in the Netherlands for 5 years.
2. I was an
Army wife for 15 yrs. My fiancé is in the Army Reserves.
3. I live
in a house 14 ft in the air.
4. I have
been to 48 states.
date of all time was flounder gigging at midnight in the Newport River.
movie is the Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
7. When I
graduated from high school, I wanted to be a marine archeologist because of a
romance novel by Valerie Sherwood, To Love a Rogue set in Port Royal, Jamaica.
8. I have a
Weimaraner, a kelpie, a black cat, and a gargoyle gecko.
drink is Sweet Tea.
10. I’ve ridden a motorcycle over the Continental Divide in a sleet storm. By the time we made it to the top, I had icicles hanging from my glasses.
As chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, and more recently of our conference steering committee, I have been forced to do things that are uncomfortable, like public speaking. I know y’all think because I’m a big mouth broad I shouldn’t be sweating and fearing I’ll pass out just because my audience is ten times what I am comfortable with. I still get knock-kneed and tongue-tied whenever I have to stand up on stage and speak into a microphone, but I have learned to power through it. Practice and prayer helps!
This year I volunteered to teach a workshop. Why did I do that? Yeah, I asked myself the same question. It goes back to high school and Ms. Glenoria Jennette, basically she said, embrace your dreams even if it scares you, especially if it scares you. As I have gotten older, her advice has continued to guide me. I can cower in fear or spread my wings and take a chance. Yes, I might fail, I might fall but I will never know unless I try and keep trying. Thanks Ms. Glen, I’m still trying.
I shared my workshop with an awesome group of friends and strangers who each had something to contribute. I believe interaction makes a program more interesting and the presenter can learn from the attendees.
In my program “Be Prepared,” I talked of mistakes I’d made, programs and classes I’d taken, and how I’d adapted what I learned. I was a little terrified to have our keynote speaker, Katharine Ashe join my class. I’m a huge fan of hers and a bit awestruck, but she was a wonderful asset. I actually used her work to help make a few of my points.
Recently, I was a contributor to an international romance anthology, Love in Bloom. As part of this fabulous group I have learned so many new things that I was able to add to my program. Each experience I’ve had, each person who shares their journey adds another bit of information that helps me be a better writer or bookseller.
In today’s publishing world, whether traditional or indie, authors find they must wear several hats: promoter, publisher, and bookseller, marketer and designer. Authors are business people who must learn every aspect of their craft, as well as the business of writing in order to succeed. I am thankful for the workshops I have attended that have given me the tools to help me succeed. I hope my workshop gave someone else a little piece of that puzzle.
This year’s Pamlico Writers’ Conference had a few newbies, besides myself, Adrienne Dunning, Paloma Capanna and Tammera Cooper gave their first writers’ presentations. Paloma and Tammera were familiar with giving presentations due to their careers, Adrienne gave a 15- minute talk to a small group during our Carnival of Books, but for me, this was truly a first.
Thanks to everyone who helped me and encouraged me. I am blessed to have you as part of my tribe.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss