Music, identity, and the teenage heart

I just finished Whiskey Bottles and Brand-New Cars, a 2017 biography of Lynyrd Skynyrd by Mark Ribowski. I was 14 when the core of the band died in a plane crash on October 20, 1977, the real “day the music died” for my generation. I’m familiar with the broad strokes of the Skynyrd story, and even once saw the Rossington-Collins Band, one … Read More

When you make a spectacle of yourself…

My ten-year-old son recently got glasses. It’s not a surprise: my wife and I both wear them. And while two wrongs don’t make a right, apparently two nearsighteds make a farsighted. I was nine when I got my first glasses. I was in third grade, my first year in the old, long-gone Gibson Elementary School in Tennessee. Now, with the … Read More

Presenting Rex Winters: the Story behind Gather Her Round’s Dedication

Sometimes dedicating a book is easy, as when a particular person inspires you to write it in the first place, as Tia Sisk did for my first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde. Or when they’re instrumental in the writing process, the way my son Jake was for Wake of the Bloody Angel. Or when the stars just align, as they did … Read More

Guest Post: The Story Spider’s First Festival

The new Tufa novel, Gather Her Round, begins on the stage of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN where twenty years ago I felt the first stirrings of what would become the Tufa. My friend Christi, a.k.a. professional storyteller Magda the Story Spider (above, onstage at the festival), was with me that first time, and she was kind enough to write a bit … Read More

Found! The Scariest Sound of My Childhood

I love the idea of Bigfoot. Who doesn’t wish that a huge, mostly-human monster lived at the edges of our civilization, only occasionally glimpsed and even less often photographed? I’ve read tons of books on the subject, and even wrote a draft of a novel about them back in the 90s. But my interest in them goes back even further, … Read More

Some Halloween thoughts on NotLD

We had a breakthrough this past weekend: I finally convinced someone in my family to watch a zombie movie with me. My elder son, age twelve, joined me for the original Night of the Living Dead. It’s hard to imagine, in 2016, seeing it with no preconceptions, and since I’m his father, the boy certainly didn’t. I’ve sung its praises … Read More

Your Musical Community Is Where You Find It

Music as a communal event is difficult for someone like me, who doesn’t play any instrument and doesn’t (or shouldn’t) sing. I’ve attended concerts where the sense of community was created by the shared music we all knew, or by the intense efforts of the performer to make sure that connection happened. But for the most part, I’ve always been … Read More

A True Story of Frog-Gigging and Disappointment

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