Posted in event, inspiration

RWA 2020 Virtual Conference Day One

It’s day two of RWA’s virtual writer’s conference. I have dreamed of attending a Romance Writer’s of America conference for years but never expected my first one to be online. Thank you, Covid-19. Our world changed this year but as librarian keynote speaker, Virginia Kantra said, the need for stories hasn’t changed. We shouldn’t wait until we’re dead for someone else to tell our story. If you are a writer or a storyteller, tell your story now.

“Use your words. Find your voice. Don’t be afraid to share yourself, to tell your story. Your experience matters.” I felt Virginia was speaking straight to me. For years I’ve ducked my head afraid to speak. I felt no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I wasn’t even sure what it was I wanted to say. Who am I and why does my story matter?

Each time I brave a new crowd whether it is online or in person, I discover many people feel the same way I do. They want to be heard but they are unsure of the message they want to deliver. They want to think about it and speak with care often losing their opportunity to voice their views. As writers we can tell our side through our characters’ perspective. We can show readers our stories without preaching. We don’t have to raise our voices to be heard over the crowd because in the silence of the pages a whisper has much greater impact.

If you are a writer and you don’t have a writers’ group, you need one. Whether it is online or in person, a writer’s group offers support and a sense of community to what is a very lonely profession. I joined the Romance Writer’s of America in 2009 after attending a Romantic Times Convention. I was lucky enough to have been chosen for the first Ann Peach Scholarship for New Writers where I met the late author, Judi McCoy. She encouraged us to believe in ourselves, our craft and to find others who shared our passion. With a love of romance, I joined RWA and later the Heart of Carolina, our local chapter. I also went in search of a writer’s group closer to home and found the Pamlico Writer’s Group.

Well, I should get ready for my next program, I’m hosting a Writer’s Block Meet Up. Do you suffer from writer’s block?  

Posted in Thoughts

The Power of Miscommunication

As an author, it is important to communicate my thoughts and ideas to my readers. If I see something in my head, I have to be able to explain it in such a way that a reader can also see it. Once the book is published, I have no idea if the person sees the same exact image as I do. All I can hope is that I do my job to the best of my abilities to convey my idea.

In other communication I don’t have forty or fifty thousand words to explain my thoughts and ideas. I need to choose my words carefully and articulate precisely. Too often I let my nerves and insecurities keep me from saying what I need to say.

This week I took books to a local library. A friend of a friend wanted to read my books, but they were unavailable at her library. During the summer someone else had mentioned they’d asked for my books at the same library. Completely cold, without calling or introducing myself adequately, I handed over my books to the busy library worker and told them I’d like to donate my books. When she told me to put them in the box for their sale, I tried to explain, that no, these were books I’d written that I wanted to donate. They were busy with patrons and I was a bit intimidated, but I felt we’d managed to reach an understanding.

Later, I ran into my friend and excitedly told her I’d taken the books to the library and her friend would soon be able to borrow them. She called her friend to tell her the news and the friend called the library only to be told that no, the books would not be put on the shelf, they had decided to put them in the annual book sale where the books would sell for $1 or less. My brand-new books. I was devastated. If they didn’t want to shelve my books, why not simply tell me they were not interested. Why would they take my books and treat them like a yard sale item? My heart was broken.

This morning having slept little and torn between whether I should confront the library and ask about this or just let it go. After all, I did donate the books, they had the right to do with them whatever they wished. Though, had I believed they intended them for the sale, I would have given them a cash donation and taken my books back home with me. I don’t like confrontation. I didn’t want to cause a scandal. I’m a community leader, a businessperson, an AUTHOR. So, the conundrum was, do I call, go back to town (forty-five minutes away) or do I just eat it. It was eating at me. Since I live in a small town, I asked people I like and respect what they thought. The overall consensus was, get your books back. Call. Find out if there had been a misunderstanding. Be nice but let them know, if the books were not going to be available for patrons to borrow, then asked that they be returned.

I called. The librarian I spoke to was very nice, but she’d not been working the day before. She wasn’t sure what had happened. Usually when books were brought in and donated, they went into the Friends of the Library book sale. Feeling as if I’d not gotten an answer, I went onto my appointment where once again I asked the ethical question of what should I do? How should I handle this in a professional manner? Again, I was told to get my books back.

On the way home, my friend and I decided to go back to the library where I’d left my books. I’d take a monetary donation and be prepared for rejection. I was greeted by a pair of very kind librarians. One of the librarians was the lady I’d spoken to that morning. She found my books, not in the sale pile but in the box to be processed. When we discussed what had happened and the young woman who’d wanted to check out my books. We realized there was several miscommunications. After a few laughs, a bit more discussion, I left my phone number. They did not promise to put my books on their shelves but said they would send them to be processed, but they were hopeful that the books would find a home in their library.

I am not a brave person. Before publishing my books, I avoided confrontation as much as possible. For years I hid my stories away in notebooks under the bed or in the closets. When I finally listened to my family and friends and started trying to do something with them, I was terrified. Each step along this journey I have had to learn to speak up, stand up and look my fears in the face. This miscommunication could probably have been handled Tuesday had I not allowed my insecurities to back me down. Instead I had to have a sleepless night, make an agonizing phone call and a second trip to the library to handle something I should have made clear at the very beginning.

For those of you who are like me who need to learn to speak up. Remember no is just a word, it can sting but it only hurts for a little while. You cannot get a yes unless you risk getting the no. Anything worth having is worth taking the risk.

Posted in my books, Thoughts

Discovering my Voice

Few people know I’m shy and timid, and a bit of an introvert. Okay, stop laughing, I am really, though I hide it well. In high school, I began speaking up for myself. It didn’t come naturally but with the encouragement of my mentor, Ms. Glenoria Jennette and one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Justice Tice, I began to find my voice. My husband, David, in the course of our marriage and raising our six boys has tried to help me find my courage. My sons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, also taught me how to find my voice. Sometimes it was in their defense but often it was mediating between them.

For someone who is timid and fearful, standing up and making your voice heard is often difficult and emotionally exhausting. It’s much easier (less problematic) to just remain silent and stew in your insecurities. Writing is another way I have found my voice. Sharing my writing with others is terrifying and the many rejections I’ve received over the years has thickened my skin, though I am still insecure and tender hearted I handle it a little better now.

“A coward dies many deaths…,” If I could be anything, I’d be brave. For if I were brave then nothing would stop me from fulfilling my dreams. In my stories, I want my characters to be people who find their voice, their strength and their courage to face the task ahead of them. Whether it be allowing themselves to be loved or looking down the barrel of a gun, I want my characters to overcome their fears and conquer it.

My characters, like the main character in my novel “Chrome Pink”, are damaged personalities. Most of us don’t make it to adult-hood without some baggage. Rae Lynne Grimes has more than most but she is stronger than she realizes. She is a survivor—a fighter. After being raped and humiliated in high school, she fought back. Her anger and addictions nearly ruined her as she struggled with the shame and the pain, but with the love and help of her grandfather and her best friends she learned to cope with the demons. Hardened by her past, Rae still manages to retain a kindness the belies her tough exterior. Like many of the people we know, Rae has had to deal with the drama she didn’t create as well as her own bad choices. Her life hasn’t been a fairy tale and she is no one’s idea of a princess. She will tell you herself, she isn’t easy to love, but for that one person—she is everything. Logan Birdsong who sees past the tattoos and piercings, the foul mouth and anger, in his eyes, she is a jewel in the rough. While he has his own burdens, it is Rae’s strength and determination that pushes the story forward.

It is for those who will never reach the ball, those women who are destined to deal with the bad choices they’ve made, that I write. I want to tell the story of a women too tough to lay down and die. Women who go through hell and not only did survive, but thrive. I want to show others going through their own versions of hell, that they are not alone.


Posted in inspiration, Story, Thoughts

The Power and The Pain

I duck my head and hold my books close to my chest hoping to go unnoticed.

“Hey fellows look who it is, city shitty,” the older boy chants. His words are mimicked by the group of boys with him. All of them are several years older than me.

He reaches out and knocks the books from my hands. I blink back tears. Like blood in the water, my weakness attracts more abuse. Like sharks they circle, chanting and touching, pushing and crowding, I gasp for breath, my heart racing, fear threatens to loosen my bladder.

“Hey, you boys, leave her alone and get on the bus,” the teacher orders.

I gather my books and smile in relief and appreciation at the teacher.

“You need to toughen up, fight back,” he tells me.

I look up at him, six-foot tall and wide as a door. Tears blur my vision as I rush to the bus. I don’t know how to fight.

I squeeze past the boys standing in the aisles. They turn to face me, blocking the seats up front where I like to sit. The move their hips suggestively and laugh at my discomfort.

“Whew, what is that I smell?”

“I bet she pissed her pants.”

I hadn’t, at least not yet.

“Nah, I bet she’s just creamed her jeans.” He stroked my arm moving close to my undeveloped breast.

Chill bumps pebble my arms. There’s a tingling in my chest and a fluttering in my tummy. I shift sideways and push past the bullies.

“Leave her alone guys or I’ll kick you off the bus,” the bus driver, a high school boy, shuts the door and eases into the lineup. “Take your seats before we get wrote up.”

Perching on their seats, they look back to where I sit just in front of the black kids who huddle at the back of the bus. “Do you know what a carpenter’s dream is?”

“A girl flat as a board.” The boys laugh.

One of the black girls, I don’t know her name, whispers, “Don’t let them know they hurt you.”

Her sister tells her to stay out of it. “If they’re picking on her they’re leaving us alone.”

“Just keep your head down and ignore them,” the girl continues to whisper.

I nod and open my book, loosing myself in reading.

The boys continued their jokes. “I think she might be a Pirate’s girl.”

The boys laughed in reply, “A sunken treasure.”

I didn’t understand half of what they were talking about and that makes it easier to ignore them.

The bus makes several stops, the girls behind me rise. We’re on the road to my house. I glance up as they pass and the girl who looks close to my age smiles at me. I return the smile. I’ll ask my daddy who they are when he gets home.

Just a few more stops and I’m almost home. I rise and gather my things.

The older boys stand up and lean out of their seats. One of them grabs my hands and puts it on the fly of his jeans. I snatch my hand away and stumble from the bus. I hear the bus driver threatening the boy but know nothing will happen. Nothing ever does.

I wish him dead.

He is killed in a car accident a few years later, I cannot mourn him. In truth, I am thankful he is gone. Over forty years later and I still feel the fear and shame, bullying has lasting effects.


When my grandson complained of being bullied, my first reaction was to tell him to toughen up, fight back, don’t let them see your pain. What is the answer to dealing with a bully? I still have trouble standing up for myself, being brave, finding my voice. I believe, that is why I write.