Friday, January 16, 2009


Going Down South

When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice.

Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family.

What would you like your readers to take away from GOING DOWN SOUTH?

I want readers to think about the importance of family. Many things may happen to affect individuals within the family but there should always be some place that a person can call home – where she can find support when she needs it. Teenage pregnancy is an important topic in my novel. Olivia Jean, the main protagonist in GOING DOWN SOUTH, gets pregnant at fifteen and she and her family have to deal with the consequences. Family is a very important theme in both of my novels.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that writing is not an easy task but that if you work hard and take it a page at a time and don’t get disheartened in the process, you’ll become a better writer. I think I know more about the craft of writing now than I did before I began to write GOING DOWN SOUTH. I look forward to learning even more with writing my next novel.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

I enjoy people and talking about my novels in front of an audience. I’m a ham. But figuring out ways to help people find your work within a crowded field of already released very good novels is difficult. Writing really is a business now and it’s not for the faint of heart.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I wish people could understand the depth of concentration that goes into plotting, imagery, and wording. It is not an easy task and it takes the full engagement of your brain to do it. Alone time is important. And, reading very good writers is also important.

What online marketing have you found that particularly works well for you?

Finding and working with bloggers that review books that may not be considered “mainstream” is a good technique. Working with groups such as SORMAG is particularly appealing because you have a such a following. Writers have to be creative in figuring out how we’ll market and where there will be an impact such that people will go out and buy the book.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

1. Writing a reasonably well-received book will not make you successful. Marketing is super important these days.

2. Patience is a particularly good habit to develop while you wait for your book to actually be published. There are months in-between submission and the actual launch date.

3. A dedicated writer will start a new book as soon as the last one is done. I have to learn more dedication.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I’ve never seriously thought of quitting although I’ve threatened it.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Yes. Do some research about the type of prose you’d like to write – a novel, short stories, essays, whatever you’d like. And then sit down and do it. Nothing else is required. Practice makes perfect. Write as much as you can.

Are you part of a writer’s organization and if you are, tell us about the benefits?

Yes, I do belong to an online community for writers. It’s called Zoetrope. I found like- minded folks who critiqued my earlier work. A friend from this community referred me to an agent and I was able to get a publishing contract. Get involved in either an online community or a group that meets in person. It’s important for you to have some feedback during this journey.

Our theme for this month is Family Literacy, what do you do to promote literacy in your family?

Well, my sons are voracious readers and there are some afternoons where we sit together as a family and read. We discuss books all the time and I try to read books that they have read in order to talk with them about the ideas and themes embedded in what they've read.

In addition, right now I am working with 31 senior high girls on a reading and self esteem project. They are reading my latest book dealing with teen pregnancy. We've officially met. They will read my book and I'm returning to have some very REAL dialogue with them about being young women. Needless to say, it has been a great experience. I'm looking forward to the "post read" meeting because in the first meeting these ladies blew me away -- the talent, the energy, the motivation. We had a room full of women who just need a little extra push get them to where they should be in life!

I know that was a mouthful -- but that's what I'm doing my flesh and blood family and then with my sister-girl family. Reading is so very important. I'm happy to work with any group that wants to expand literacy!

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

ALL OR NOTHING by Preston Allen

One book that made you laugh.


One book that made you cry.

BILLY by Albert French.

One book you wish you'd written.

GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website) and

I’d love to get emails and would welcome the opportunity to correspond about my book or other books that I might have in common with readers. You can get an idea of the types of books I read by going to or


1 comment:

Jessica said...

Going Down South sounds wonderful! I hope I come across it somewhere so that I can read it! Congrats on the nomination.

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