I wrote the following piece for a memoir class taught by Michelle Wildgen, best-selling author of Bread and Butter and You're Not You (soon to be a movie starring Hilary Swank).
When I was a kid growing up in rural Tennessee, my dad determined that I would follow in his footsteps and leave a trail of dead small animals behind Read more
Every year around Halloween I try to recommend a horror movie you might not have seen, something off the beaten path and all the better for it. You can read previous recommendations here and here. This year, I worried that I wouldn't find anything.
Then I discovered the 2010 film, Exorcismus.
No, I can't explain the title, either. Yes, it's an exorcism movie, Read more
Suppose the great rock single had flickered over the airways just once, on the night you had passed out in the back seat? Probably not, but still...rock and roll has always had this sense of possibility.
--Dave Marsh, Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, page 93
I originally read the above quote in the 1980s, when the first edition of Read more
When I heard there would be a book entirely about the making of George A. Romero's third zombie movie, Day of the Dead, I was surprised. The movie had not been a financial or critical success at the time, and while its reputation has risen since its 1985 release, it's still nowhere near as well-known as its predecessors, Night Read more
Since I now have another two-year-old, I'm back to reading the simplest books to her at bedtime. Most of these books are innocuous, if occasionally incompetent (i.e., Big Snowman, Little Snowman, a Frozen tie-in book that probably takes longer to read than it did to write). A few are brilliant, such as Room on the Broom. But I'm here to talk Read more
Sometimes a song inspires a book. Sometimes a book inspires a song.
And sometimes–okay, this is the only time I’m aware of this happening–a song inspires a book which inspires a song.
There are two wonderful songs out there that share a title with my upcoming novel. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, because I can’t. But I can tell you the story.
First, if you go here, you can read about my introduction to the music of Jennifer Goree. She’s an amazing songwriter and singer, currently part of the group Trembling and Vine. She has been kind enough to approve the use of her song titles and lyrics for my Tufa novels, including “Long Black Curl,” from her 1998 CD Don’t Be a Stranger. My novel Long Black Curl will be out next spring.
This album cover, although it predates my novels, could easily be an illustration from a Tufa story.
Recently she was also kind enough to produce a brand-new video of that song, with a beautifully minimalist setting that perfectly complements her haunting performance.
Now we jump forward to 2014. The band Tuatha Dea has produced a wonderful CD called Tufa Tales: Appalachian Fae, based on the world of my Tufa novels. The first three tracks share titles with my first three books: “The Hum and the Shiver,” “Wisp of a Thing,” and “Long Black Curl.”
Their “Long Black Curl” is a totally different song, with nothing in common with Jennifer Goree’s except the title. But it’s just as haunting, and it’s the first time anyone has recreated the world of the Tufa for a video (you can even see the books’ recurring characters Rockhouse and Mandalay).
I can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated, however tangentially, with both these songs. Since almost everything I write has some relation to music that I love, to have this book series feed back and inspire such great music is a real honor. I hope you also enjoy both these songs, for their very different but equally magical qualities.
And if you should happen to read my novel Long Black Curl when it comes out next year, I hope you enjoy it, too.
It’s been a while since I posted here; life’s been a bit overwhelming. But now I’ve got something new to share.
Over the past weekend I attended a combined reunion of my old college newspaper staff and fraternity. It gave me the chance to go around Martin, TN and shoot some video of the real locations that inspired those in my Firefly Witch stories. I hope you enjoy this little three-minute tour.
One more day until the official release (in stores, online, on eBook platforms and on unabridged audio) of the second Tufa novel, Wisp of a Thing. Here’s a brand new trailer featuring new music, this time by James Travis, that focuses on a completely different aspect of the story. Hope you enjoy!
I was honored to be the first contributor to this documentary Kickstarter project, and rather than attempt to convince you myself, I asked acclaimed author Dale Short, one of the people behind the film, to explain where the idea came from and how important it is. And please check out the video trailer at the end of his article and consider making a contribution.
We like to think of ourselves as rational people, in control of our destiny by judiciously making the decisions our daily lives consist of—each choice as clearly conspicuous as the pair of branching roads in the famous Robert Frost poem.
We can maintain this illusion pretty well until we start thinking back on how many of those significant branchings-off have struck us completely out of the blue, the results of pure chance that we never saw coming.
My own most recent example is a workshop I was asked to teach for an organization of professional writers/bloggers in the Birmingham, Ala. area. The topic was “Interviewing for Story,” and the group’s program chairman had a great idea: Why not invite a guinea pig…uh, guest…the members could interview afterward, to test our newfound skills?
Our guest was the pastor of a local church: a distinguished-looking white-haired gentleman in a business suit. His tone was friendly and approachable, and I settled in to hear whatever was par for the course, from someone of his profession and background.
That’s not what we got.
Rev. Lawton Higgs told us, in a matter-of-fact style, about a day in 1984 when a routine event changed his life: as new pastor of a large metropolitan church, he was always mindful of recruiting new members. One special focus of church growth was seeking out members of the community whose lives were “in transition”…a new neighborhood, a new job.
So when he saw a moving van at an apartment building near his church, he headed over to greet the newcomers. But mid-crosswalk he saw that the new family was black. His church was white. He stood there, emotionally torn.
Higgs “came face-to-face,” he recalls, “with my history, and my experience, and my struggles with all this ‘racial inclusiveness’ stuff, and my encounter with Martin King in seminary, and I was paralyzed there in the road.”
He says he realized that if he didn’t invite the new residents to church, “then God had no use for me and my ministry in Birmingham. I discovered that my beliefs were incompatible with God’s call to love one another.”
That was the day that the pastor became, as he puts it, “a recovering racist.” He’s since worked to found a multi-racial, multi-cultural church in a city still haunted by its civil rights past. He ministers to the homeless, and works daily as an advocate for the poor.
When our group of professional communicators had heard Higgs’ story, the auditorium was silent for a while. The old phrases “You could have heard a pin drop” and “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house” are sometimes overused nowadays, but in that instant they were unavoidable.
Before the day was out, another member of the writers’ group and I started formulating a plan to bring his story to a wider audience by writing and producing a documentary video about his experiences. With that in mind, we’ve just unveiled a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to bring the project to fruition.
Though Higgs’ life-change as a “recovering racist” is decades old, we’ve found that the story is very much a contemporary one as well. In “walking the walk” of his beliefs, he’s at times a lightning rod for opponents in the community whose views on race and politics are more in keeping with the region’s Jim Crow era.
At a juncture in America’s history when a bitter election campaign has brought to the forefront the deep veins of religious intolerance and racism in our culture, we’re confident that the story of “A Recovering Racist” will be instructive, inspirational, and challenging to everyone who cares about social justice and a spirit of reconciliation.
I invite you to watch our three-minute trailer, share it freely with friends, and consider becoming a supporter of our documentary video.
And if anybody asks how you came to find out about the project, tell them that pure chance sent you.
I need your help. Specifically, I need the help of my Appalachian-area fans.
I’m putting together the release trailer for Wisp of a Thing, completely different from the pre-release trailer you can see here. It’ll have all-new music, and all-new video. And it’s basically done. Except for one thing.
I need one shot of the mountains, something similar to the pictures below. More specifically, I need five seconds of scenic video, because believe me, there’s nothing in Wisconsin that can stand in for the actual Smokies. Sure, I could buy a clip from iStock or somewhere, but I hate to do that. It wouldn’t mesh with the hand-held style of everything else.
So here’s my deal: e-mail me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) five seconds of scenic video showing the mountains. It can be shot with a phone camera, if that’s what you’ve got, as long as it’s shot horizontally, and even from a moving car. If I use it in the trailer, you’ll get a Tufa Gift Pack that includes:
1) A signed mass market paperback of The Hum and the Shiver;
2) Either the ARC or a final copy of Wisp of a Thing, depending on what I have on hand, also signed;
3) A mix CD of tunes referenced in, and/or used as inspiration for, the books;
To commemorate tomorrow’s release of Wake of the Bloody Angel, the fourth Eddie LaCrosse novel, here’s the second book trailer: longer, with different music (by Laura Powers) and a different slant on the story. Hope you enjoy!