Miracle Mountain Writer’s Retreat.

13923328_10210737144931294_4237416309831891465_oIt’s a July tradition. Writer’s gather on a mountain overlooking Maggie Valley (we are a mile up, the clouds below). Organized by Dr. Joan Kaywell, many in the group are teachers and professors in their so-called real lives.

I teach writing workshops twice a day and critique the writers’ works in progress. Joan’s husband Frank, and mine, Ray, were the chef and sous-chef–and boy did we eat.

Priscilla Estes taught yoga morning and evening and we hiked up and down the steep grade at the top of the mountain between the two retreat houses (thanks to Charlie and Dee for housing some of us and having a table long enough to accommodate so many writers).

It seemed as if the butterflies were having a mountaintop retreat as well. The phlox in front of Priscilla’s house was alive with swallowtails. And then there were the bears… This was our third retreat, and I will probably say this every year, but it was the best. So much good writing, good food, good fellowship. It was hard to return to the sea level of real life.

Here’s our group:


Done at last!

the end

I just finished the first draft of my next novel. Not to give the ending away, but here is the very last thing on the very last page:

. (Yup, it ends with a period).

I’d like to tell you the title, but a title either appears in my brain like some loud prop plane trailing a huge banner with the title emblazoned it, or it hides in the weeds and it takes several drafts of the book for me to find it.

Here is the basic premise of the story.

What if time is a commodity distributed throughout the universe from a central location that enters each place through some kind of portal, for example a bead that hangs around the neck of its latest earthly keeper, a fifteen-year-old girl named Beatrice Summers?

And what if that commodity is limited and worlds that are being starved for time would like to pirate what this inexperienced keeper is guarding?

This book without a name is the opening novel in a trilogy. Not too give too much away but here is how volumes two and three will probably end:

. and .

Writer’s retreat!

If it’s January (and it is) it is time to gather on St. George Island to write, critique, schmooze, and eat some great cooking.

Every year I teach writing workshops, and edit stories-in-progress at Fiction Among Friends, a gathering of intrepid female writers who want to escape from the day-to-day for a while and concentrate on their true passion, writing books (and eating).

Here is a typical gathering to write and discuss exercises in the craft of putting words on paper.


Just as sure as you’ll hear fireworks in your neighborhood every New Year’s Eve you can count on January to be Fiction Among Friends month.

We always welcome new writers to this annual event.

So, check it out. Fiction Among Friends. 

How about a virtual author visit?

An author visit can be a BIG DEAL requiring HUGE amounts of planning and book fairs to raise money, and questions like, is the author allergic to anything? How the heck will the author get here? Who is going to pick the author up from the hotel?

Or you can do the visit virtually. No need to feed, house or transport the author. Just set up a SKYPE call. It’s easy.

For details click here.

Walk Together


One of my jobs as a storyteller is to talk about what is going on in the world–or what I would like to see going on in the world–that might fall into the genre, fantasy.

But maybe not.

What we hope for always happens first in our minds.

So, what I hope for is a world in which we recognize our shared humanity and help each other. My singing partner, Craig Reeder, and I have set that hope to music.

The video that accompanies the song is full of images of people coming together to protest injustice, and to offer each other aid when natural disaster strikes.

As the song asserts, we are all members of one human family, and what we can do when we come together is mighty.

Click HERE to watch the video and hear the song.


What I really look like.

Every year as school comes to an end, my singing partner, Craig Reeder (the other half of the duo Hot Tamale) and I play for a really enthusiastic audience, the kids of Crawfordville Elementary.

Here’s what we look like when we are up on that stage playing for K-3rd.

I think those are the notes floating over us. And check out Craig’s slick move with his guitar.

Or maybe we look like this–I never noticed how bald and big-headed Craig is, or how skinny my legs are. Read more

Children’s and YA Literature Festival in Salisbury.

Boy, have I been remiss about posting! But things have been pretty darned busy. I’ve  been to Salisbury Maryland to celebrate children’s lit and the life of Dr. Ernie Bond, the power behind the festival. Sadly Dr. Ernie recently passed away.

Here I am, doing a public radio spot–look how nicely we cleaned up to be on the radio! To my left is author Jen Cullerton Johnson, then Dr. Patty Dean, Dr. Ernie’s faithful sidekick (she kept saying, what would Ernie do?), and author Shelley Ratner.

We did lots of authorish things, but we also went to Assateague and hung out with the wild ponies–we didn’t impress them, but they sure impressed us!

Authors in Apalach!

Apalachicola is a sleepy Florida town famous for oysters and the invention of refrigeration–and a great gathering of authors called “Authors in Apalach.”

(If you live in Apalachicola you shorten it to Apalach).

This is me and my buddy Jan Godown Annino. She is holding up her book, She Sang Promise,  the true story of Betty Mae Jumper, the first elected woman leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Before becoming chief Betty Mae earned money wrestling alligators. Check it out!

Writers eat Oreos.

Every January I lead two writer’s retreats for women–I know men write too, but sometimes women have to be free to act silly and eat Oreos while they work on their stories.

Here are the writers in my second group, The Sisters of the Sentences. We are, standing on the deck of Always Awesome, a house overlooking the beach on St. George Island.

See the lady on the far right? That’s Sharon Ketts, a retired teacher. She is writing a book called “The Boys on Mars.” I think you are going to like it.

Seriously, a song about English teachers?

I forgot to mention…

At NCTE I did quite a bit of singing, including a song I wrote in honor of English teachers and the conference.

Want to hear the song and see the stage full of authors? Click here.

Seated behind me is a bunch of authors you have probably read and loved. To my right is Sharon Draper, to my left is Ibtisam Barakat. The camera also catches quick glimpses of Meg Medina and G. Neri.

Jason Reynolds was there too (I think he was right behind me). eE Charlton-Trujillo was off camera, but definitely there. And my buddy Dr. Joan Kaywell was the moderator.

Bet you can’t tell how scared I was. I was singing for a HUGE CROWD.