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Sally Kilpatrick

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The Bad Girlz are the salt bae of glitter. Ask my hotel room door how I know.

You’re thinking, Sally, your post is late.

Yes, yes, it is. I’m running late because I don’t really want to write it, but I will. Being a part of this blog must’ve been fun, because I feel as though I just got here. My favorite memory is of M&M a few years back when the Bad Girlz glitterbombed me. Guys, I sometimes need more fun and frivolity in my life, and the Bad Girlz took me in and embraced me. They threw glitter at my door, made me leave my hotel room in Dallas, taught me how to raise my glass, and lit adult beverages on fire with me.

It has truly been a pleasure to join such a talented group of ladies. For all the fun we have, my fellow Bad Girlz are also dedicated to the business of happily ever afters, and I’ve learned a lot from them. So, thanks, ladies, for letting me tag along on this endeavor. You brought me fun when I was in danger of drowning due to losing my category. You made me stop and dance when being GRW president was stressing me out. You are the most enthusiastic dancers at any M&M and, as we proved this year, RWA as well.

Thank you, Bad Girlz, for reminding me to have fun while I navigated those first years of publication. Thank you, readers, for dropping by and reading about morticians, house tours, my cussing habit. how not to be a healthy writer, and, yes, sexy corn. <–My first post. *sniff*



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Blast From the Past: My Guilty Pleasure by Sally Effing Kilpatrick

As we wind things down at Bad Girlz, we have been tasked with finding a “best of” blog post. Not only was this one my favorite to write, but it also has the most comments. Also? Still cussing.


Oh, this post came at a most opportune time.

I have a book coming out in about a month, and it’s an odd hodgepodge of, well, me. You see, there’s the Sally that grew up in a small town and made very good grades and behaved very well after the age of five. (Ask my mom—she’ll tell you!) She went to a little white church and learned all of the hymns. Then she went to college and even kept going to church there. She doesn’t smoke, hasn’t done drugs, and didn’t drink until she was 21.

And then there’s the Sally who cusses like a sailor. No. There are times when sailors would probably plug their ears to escape the vitriol. I cuss when I’m happy or sad or mad. I would cuss in a box. I would cuss with a fox. Or in a boat or with a goat. . .

I think you get the picture.

This puts me in a pretty pickle because The Happy Hour Choir has some decidedly inspirational moments. And then there’s the cussing. Even worse? Bittersweet Creek is about my country farmers. They cuss even more. the happy hour choir

I know I shouldn’t do it. It’s not ladylike for one thing. It’s not what nice people do. I’m supposedly showing how deficient I am in vocabulary. *cough* Bullshit *cough* I doubt very seriously that my blue streaks make my parents or husband proud, and it’s not really a habit I want to pass on to my children.

So, I asked myself, “Self, why do you cuss so damn much?” And my self came up with the following reasons:

5. There was that boyfriend who once remarked how much he liked the fact I didn’t cuss a lot. Yeah. About that. I may or may not have exerted my freedom from him in a litany of four-letter words. Huh. I would’ve thought that would’ve worn off by now.

4. As a student of the English language, I am mystified by how creative we are in our cursing. Take any curse word, and I bet you can shoehorn it into just about any part of speech. That’s a flexibility not every language enjoys. We owe it to ourselves to explore our native language’s fluidity, don’t you think?

3. It’s fun. Phrases like “shit fire and save the matches” amuse me. Add “bitches” to the end of just about anything, and it’s hilarious. See Bitches, Teacups! Also, don’t you really want to end your yoga classes with “Namaste, bitches!” You know you do.

2. It’s cathartic. Somehow “Dadblame it!” doesn’t really help me when I stub my toe. On the other hand, a long and drawn out “Son of a bitch” really helps me manage my pain. I swear it’s true. They should do scientific studies. I volunteer as tribute.

1. Here’s the real reason: some of my favorite people in this entire world curse. My Aunt Dot tried her darnedest not to cuss in front of me with some hilarious permutations like “Bullcorn.” I was supposed to be sleeping one night when her friend Dennis was talking about almost getting into a traffic accident and made the story more hilarious while repeating, “F*ck a duck!” over and over again. (I sometimes make this one “Fornicate with aquatic fowl” in an attempt to make it a bit more Twitter friendly. In related news, I’m also a fan of “defecate adobe.”) And, finally, a shout out to my father who has always enjoyed adding a blue word here and there to elicit a giggle. One day—as an adult, mind you—I said a certain word, and he responded with “You’ve got stuff in your mouth that I wouldn’t hold in my hand. Where’d you learn such things?” I narrowly avoided going all 80s PSA on him and shouting, “I learned it from listening to you, Dad!”

At any rate, if all of those people are cursing, I don’t think cursers go to hell. I could call out some closet cursers, but I won’t. I’ll just say that little pitchers may have big ears, but they also have big eyes. If I’ve been emulating Aunt Dot and Dennis and Daddy, it’s not really because they cuss. No, it’s because I like the way they treat other people and that shouldn’t be forgotten just because they have a colorful vocabulary.

So, cuss all you want, bitches!*

Work Bitch


*As the pragmatic feminist I am, I understand that the word “bitch” can be problematic. Personally, I feel as though I am reclaiming it. Already I don’t feel the sting when it’s hurled at me as an insult. And if I don’t feel the sting, then your insult hasn’t succeeded.

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Coming Soon!

Y’all. I have more stories coming out.

This is the sort of observation that hits home when one GETS PAID and also finishes page proofs. I can’t believe that I’ve finished a fourth novel. I can’t believe I have a novella coming out in July. Ya know, you wait and wait and submit and submit, then you turn around one day and realize that you’ve written a few books. It’s kinda looking at my rising 6th grader and my rising sophomore and realizing. . . . I’m old.

But I’m not as old as two of the main characters of my novella, Orange Blossom Special. Edie and Janice are in their late 80s, and they are on a mission to scatter Jerome’s ashes in some strategic places in Tennessee. The biggest catch? Edie, Jerome’s wife, and Janice, his sister, have never really gotten along. To add more tension, Walter and Peyton, two teens who used to watch Tennessee football with Jerome, have been recruited to drive the Orange Blossom Special, an old hearse that’s been painted orange and white.

Did I mention that Jerome requested that his ashes rest in a Carmen Miranda cookie jar?

If you wanna PREORDER (7/25/17) Orange Blossom Special, you can do so at one of these places:

Amazon     Apple     Google     Kobo     Nook

Do save some room for Bless Her Heart, my fourth novel, in which a preacher’s wife gives up church for Lent. Oh, there will be tarot and tequila, stripper poles and tasers, and, of course, Tom Brokaw. Like all good novels set during Lent, Bless Her Heart will be out on Halloween. You can PREORDER (10/31/17) it here:

Amazon     Apple     Google     Kobo     Nook

Whew! Now I need to get to work on book five. Someone’s left a baby in the manger at the drive through Nativity. No one knows who she is, but they’re pretty sure she’s not Jesus!

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My Weirdest Plot Bunny

Better Get to Livin’–available May 31st! Chock-full of ghosts! Most of them are friendly!

Back in January I broke with the program to talk about 42 things I’ve learned in 42 years. This month I’m going to go back and hit upon my weirdest plot bunny because it’s a doozy.

I’m pretty sure that the idea for Better Get to Livin’ started germinating back when I was a high school senior. As first chair trumpet, sometimes Mr. Fentress Casey–best name for a funeral director ever–would come to get me to play taps* for military funerals. It says something about small towns that such absences were never unexcused. I mean, someone needed to play taps, didn’t they?

The perks of being the taps girl was that I would get to skip class and I would get paid to do it. The downside–at least for many–would be that I often rode to the cemetery in the hearse. While waiting for the procession to start, I also had to cool my jets in the back kitchen of the funeral home listening to the insanely slow chime version of “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder”** and speculate on what it was like to be a funeral director, whether there were any ghosts hanging around Casey’s, and what might be behind the door that I knew led to the embalming area.

Oddly enough, I think I forget just how much the idea of funeral homes creep so many people out because the experience at Casey was never all bad when I was there with my family. Sure, I was grieving. Sure, once the funeral came around I would be weeping, but visitation always proved a bright spot. Family members would take a break in that same kitchen where I used to wait, and they would tell stories, often funny ones that brought a warm glow for the person we were missing. For all of their sadness, funerals have a way of bringing people together who haven’t seen each other in a while, a nice reminder that life is short and that people are the most important part of it.

So, back to the plot bunny….

My mom sends me the local paper even though I don’t live in Henderson anymore. Ah, not only does The Independent scratch that itch for home, but I also find all kinds of great stories and ideas–especially from the “Only Yesterday” section where they pull information from past editions of the paper. One day, I got The Independent and saw that Mr. Casey had passed away. One small snippet of that story captured my imagination: Mr. Casey considered being a doctor but decided to continue on in the family’s mortuary business. That started the what ifs. What if he didn’t want to be a part of the family business? What if he had to be? What if some idiot started a rumor that kept him from finding love or even that many friendships?

This is the point where I tell you that I’ve met a few funeral directors at this point, and that they have all been fine upstanding men and women who don’t seem to have any problem falling in love. Also, I need to remind you that I totally made up the part about the bourbon parties. Everyone I have met or interviewed has been a consummate professional. (Hopefully, someone just said, “Bourbon party? I need to read this book!”)

I tried to be true. I tried to be considerate. But I also wanted the story to have southern quirk. Enter Uncle Hollis, who’s very loosely based on Teddy from Arsenic & Old Lace. Instead of a bugle, he sings Elton John songs. Enter the idea of bourbon parties. One character surprised me–I figured out that Caroline, matriarch of Anderson Funeral Home, writes romance. It’s not something I mention directly in the book, but that is the answer to one of the discussion questions in that back. That is what she’s being sneaky about: writing her first book.

The plot bunny from my high school days then led me to read books like Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Life of Cadavers and Thomas Lynch’s The Undertaking. Both of those books are especially outstanding. Through other sources, I learned all about cemeteries, the history of embalming, and the embalming process. I read up as much as I could on ghosts. As I wrote I incorporated things happening in my life at the time. For example, I went on a field trip with my son to the Pickett’s Mill battlefield so I had the Colonel, one of my ghosts, lose an arm there back in the Civil War. I’d also been reading Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations, so I made her the idol of my Hollywood ghost, Pinup Betty. You might also note several books about serial killers on the list to come. For reasons. If you are interested in some of the books I read while doing research, you can find them all on my Better Get to Livin research shelf on Goodreads.

Then my plot bunny gave birth to another plot bunny: the hearse from Better Get to Livin’ became the focal point of a novella about a group of mourners who are spreading ashes from one end of Tennessee to the other while driving around in an orange and white checkerboard hearse. Did I mention those ashes are housed in a Carmen Miranda cookie jar? You can get Orange Blossom Special on e devices in late July.

I think I’m done with hearse now.

Then again, you never know. . . .

*While we’re talking about plot bunnies, check out this post about why the military bugle call, taps, is both lowercase and not in quotation marks.

**May this be an official warning: if anyone plays any of that slow chime crap at my funeral, I will come back and haunt them. Seriously. My funeral is to be a joyous occasion. There is to be liquor, hip hop, and New Orleans jazz.



I’m Hip Deep Into Lent

It’s blogger’s choice, and I think I want to talk about. . . . Lent. (We could also spend some quality time on how much I love my new cover, but probably not today)

Why Lent? Why not. Last year I was working on the second draft of the novel that will become my fourth release from Kensington, Bless Her Heart, and the Lenten season gave me an idea to punch up the story I was writing. I already knew that my preacher’s wife was going to sample each of the Seven Deadly Sins, but what if she also gave up church for Lent? That lead to this scene:

By this point in the Ash Wednesday service the minister had moved on to Matthew. He droned on about “not looking somber as the hypocrites do” while we fasted. Finally, we got to sit down, and the sermon began. Dour-faced Reverend Ford spoke about the traditions of Lent, the excesses of Fat Tuesday as exemplified by Mardi Gras—that actually sounded fun. He admonished his flock to make sacrifices that would bring them closer to God but pointed out that sometimes it was better to add something to your routine rather than to just give something up. He talked about his preteen daughter giving up soft drinks and how his wife vowed to get up fifteen minutes earlier each day for a devotion.

In essence, we were to find something that hampered us for being the best person we could be and to either add something to address it or to give something up if it held us back. If you drank too much, then give up alcohol. If television kept you from your family, then give that up. If you were unhappy about your physical health, add an exercise regime. The sky was the limit, he said, as long as we examined ourselves and looked at what was holding us back and keeping us from being the person God intended us to be.

Maybe Chad should look into giving up profligate spending and adultery.

No, I needed to think about myself. Not Chad. Chad would mean nothing to me just as soon as I could figure out how to divorce him. I needed to think on myself and what I needed to do because Liza was right: I wasn’t happy.

What could I give up—or add—for Lent? My husband? Nah, he’d taken himself away. Having a baby? That had been taken from me, too. Chocolate? Too trivial in comparison to the other two. What was something I had too much of, something that made me unhappy because it wasn’t good for me. Something—


The word came to me as if the Lord himself had whispered it, but I knew that couldn’t be the case. Why would God tell me to give up church? That made absolutely no sense. Of course, church did remind me of Chad, and I needed to stop thinking about him so it made sense in a crazy, weird sort of way.

Come to think of it, Chad hadn’t believed in Lent or giving things up. He said that was something Catholics did.

Heck, if Chad thought it was a bad idea, then maybe it was the absolute best idea for me.

If I still missed God after forty days, I could always come back to the fold. Maybe I could even find a different fold, one that better suited me. Having the bank foreclose on Love Ministries might end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me because now I was forced to look for another job and, goodness knew, I hadn’t been doing anything more than stumble through life the past few years.

But giving up church? That’s so. . . wrong.

And what has doing all of the right things done for you?

We’ve just begun Lent, an interesting religious ritual that I’d never really heard of until I started attending the Wesley Foundation at the Unversity of Tennessee. This concept of giving something up was completely new. And daunting. Over the years I’ve given up Cokes, alcohol, desserts. One year—and that was the most painful—I made myself get up 15 minutes earlier than the required time. The idea was to read from a devotional. If I couldn’t do that, at least I had made myself get up instead of hitting the snooze button. I’d love to tell you that habit stuck, but it did not. (It did, you will note from the excerpt, give me a trait that I could give to another character, though. Poor thing.)

This year I’m fasting from social media. When I kinda got meaner than I should have on Fat Tuesday then I knew it was time to take a break. In my defense, I don’t have time for anyone who is mean to my friends. I am not here for that. Either way, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t want me to call people delusional on the Book of Face. Even if the person in question clearly is. Wait. What? Did I say that? Clearly I need to atone some more.

At any rate, if you don’t see me on Twitter or Facebook, it’s because I’m allowing myself only 30 minutes a day. I think my mental health is improving a little. Besides, it gives me more time to write my Congresspeople.

Now, here is my challenge for you: what is something you can write about that others might not think about? Ever thought about having a book center on Lent? Or the Cokesbury Hymnal? Or death by fire ants? Or a funeral home? Is there anything that you know a little something about that would bring a unique perspective to what you write? Readers, help us out and tell us about some of the most unique premises you have come across.

Oh, and my husband’s dreams of being my houseboy would be dashed if I didn’t mention that Bless Her Heart is now available for preorder at



Barnes & Noble

soon to be FoxTale, the keepers of the shot glasses




Now that I’m 42, I have the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” right? Probably not, but in honor of my birthday, here are 42 things I’ve learned so far in life:

  • Tortilla chips have A LOT of calories.
  • Elementary school math is hard.
  • Helpful cats are (not) helpful.
  • Some people are just sorry.
  • Most people are awesome.
  • Professional jealousy is not only a waste of time but also detrimental to your career and general well-being.
  • I have privilege; I need to look for ways to help people who don’t.
  • You’re never too good to move chairs.
  • Parenting is hard
  • Parenting is rewarding.
  • I really need to stop procrastinating. (I say as I type this post the night before it’s due)
  • No experience is wasted if you learn something from it—even a trip to the DMV.
  • Find home repair businesses over in Hiram or Paulding County rather than metro Atlanta. (My shout out to Ragsdale who’s helped me with HVAC, plumbing, and recommending the person I needed to fix my gas fireplace)
  • Traveling is better than new furniture.
  • Experiences are more valuable than things.
  • I can run a marathon.
  • I shouldn’t have run a marathon.
  • What seems horrible in the moment may turn out to be for the best in the end.
  • Treat every Christmas with your loved ones as if it might be the last. Take a moment to be grateful.
  • Life is too short for the cheap chocolate.
  • Surround yourself with good people. Be thankful if your family falls under that category.
  • It’s harder to write good comedy than good tragedy.
  • But tragedy sells better and is taken more seriously.
  • Listen for the subtle nudges of the Holy Spirit.
  • There really is no time for love, Dr. Jones.
  • I have to exercise on a regular basis. Dammit.
  • I have to call my legislators; I’ll have to call them no matter which party they represent.
  • A good story trumps beautiful writing every time.
  • As my age increases, my patience decreases.
  • If you need help, ask for it–no matter what.
  • Learn to say no.
  • But learn to say yes to the things that frighten you but are good for you.
  • Help those who come behind you. There’s no need for everyone to suffer.
  • No, it’s not fair that I have to limit myself to less than 1300 calories a day if I want to lose weight.
  • Persistence is the key to success. Never give up, never surrender!
  • As Ms. Kelley always said, believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.
  • Get a housekeeper; life is short.
  • Hummus is good; a nice red blend is better.
  • As my Daddy once told me, never take more than you can carry.
  • As my Mom always says, my rights end where the rights of others begin—and vice-versa.
  • Other people don’t use the word “heifer” correctly, and I can’t teach them.
  • Always get up sexy.



How I’m Surviving This Book That Still Isn’t Done (Not Very Well)

Since I’m in the midst of deadline myself, I thought I’d share a few of things that have kept me writing:

Conception calendar

Someone is always getting pregnant or dying in one of my books.  I found this great web site that not only allows me to put the first day of my character’s last menstrual cycle into a box and—voila!—a due date, but also goes BACKWARDS. Yes, that’s right—I can check what my character’s due date WOULD HAVE BEEN if it had been 2011 as it was in my mind while I was writing this book. You can see my favorite site so far here.

Heck, a regular calendar

In addition to pregnancy and thus the menstrual cycles of women who don’t exist, I also needed to Google when Lent and Easter occurred in 2011 because a chunk of my novel revolves around that specific time period. Once I knew when Ash Wednesday and Easter occurred, then I constructed a mini-calendar that then became even more important when I had to add the number of days required to get a divorce in the state of Tennessee. See below for another hack with Scrivener.

Friends who (drink and) know things 

So not all of these people may drink, but I adore Tyrion and therefore had to title this section thus. I had many people reach out to me about how filing for divorce works. Bless you, ladies. Tina Whittle was kind enough to reverse engineer a Tarot reading for me and to then read the scene to make sure I had it right. In the past I’ve had veterinarians, lawyers, ministers, funeral directors, and actresses all weigh in on what my characters should be doing. What can I say? I get by with a little help from my friends.


I adore this program, and I don’t even know all of its functionality yet. Here are a few of the reasons I love Scrivener:

  • It doesn’t crash like Word did. (knocks fervently on wood)
  • There’s a Notes view where I can put my thoughts in a box to the right and see them no matter which chapter I’m in. I use it to collect dropped threads, changes that will need to be implemented throughout the whole manuscript, and the beat sheet of events.
  • The find function is awesome because you can use it for a chapter OR for the entire manuscript. I sometimes also use the this function to find things in old manuscripts that I need to verify for new stories.
  • There’s a list of chapters on the left where you can add notes that won’t appear on the finished product. I put dates here to make sure I keep all of my characters on track and not forgetting dentist appointments on Wednesday as the author herself has been known to do.
  • You can also keep all sorts of files under research from links to dates and family trees or an acknowledgments file so I don’t forget all of the helpful people above.


I would not have made it through this year without a good pair of headphones thanks to the construction going on behind my house. I’m thinking noise canceling would’ve been the best bet, but, hey, I’m not that wealthy. Here are the ones I bought.

Me, before my new chair

Me, before my new chair

The Marshmallow Chair

Deanna Raybourn let me know about this chair. It really is a marshmallow for my butt. Also, it’s new and I haven’t broken the mechanism that allows me to adjust the height yet so it’s helped with the ergonomic situation. I’m not saying you might need an office chair update, but I’m not saying you don’t. This is the infamous marshmallow chair–I bought it on sale.

Pomodoro Method

I heard about this method and got the app. A kitchen timer would also work if you don’t want another app cluttering your phone. The idea is that you work steadily for 30 minutes then take a break AWAY FROM YOUR DESK and then come back and do it again. An advantage of the app is that it keeps up with your breaks, too. Learn more here. I can’t find my specific app–probably because I need to do updates–but here’s more on how the method works and some apps you could use.

 Auctioning off a Character Name

Back when Bless Your Heart was nothing more than a gleam in my eye, I donated the right to name a minor character in a charity auction. Then I promptly lost the contact information of the person who’d won the auction because that, apparently, is how I roll in adulthood. At any rate, I knew the character would be named Liza. Hearing the name immediately told me that Liza would be my protagonist’s best friend. Even so, her character was a little flat until the church tracked down the winner for me and we spoke a bit about the real Liza. I didn’t actually incorporate anything from the real Liza, but I found out that her celebrity crush is Chris Pratt so I made fictional Liza’s husband Owen Pratt. Last name is obvious; Owen is the first name of the character Pratt plays in Jurassic World. Incorporating little things like that tickled the lady who’d bought the character and helped me find the fun again when the fun had faltered. (I wanted to talk to her to make sure that I didn’t make something about fictional Liza painful to actual Liza because that would take all of the fun out of it.)

 Having a critique partner who gets all CAPSY

I’ve written and rewritten. There are multiple versions of this story. Sometimes, in the midst of all of

CPs who snark together, stay together.

CPs who snark together, stay together.

those changes or simply the quest for new words, I end up moving my characters from place to place without proper motivation or emotional resonance. Then there’s that conflict avoidance thing that I have to fight every time. Tanya’s comments were a breath of fresh air because she helped me see the things I couldn’t because I was so busy trying to make the story go. Our critique partners make us better but only if they’re willing to call you on the shortcuts you accidentally take.

2016 hasn’t been kind to my creative process. I have clawed and scratched to stay some semblance of on track. If any one of these helps another writer to keep his or her head above water, then my work here is done.


Meals on a Deadline

¡Happy Día de los Muertos!

I used to teach Spanish so I feel compelled to say that. I could go into the three day celebration, but we’ll stop here and talk about this month’s topic: quick meals. As luck would have it, I’m on deadline right now. The quickest meal is, of course, to order a pizza, but, hey, we all like to eat something more nutritious from time to time, so let me share a recipe or two.

Chicken Parm

Ingredients: frozen chicken tenders (I go for quality here–and they have gluten free ones now, too), spaghetti sauce, mozzarella

  1. Follow the instructions for baking the chicken tenders. I usually add spaghetti sauce right away and cook a little longer than the instructions say.
  2. Once you’re sure that chicken is done (No salmonella on my watch!) then add mozzarella cheese and put it back in until the cheese has melted.

Sally Tip: Line the baking sheet with tin foil for easier clean up.

I like to serve this dish with rice and green beans, but you could go pasta and a Steamfresh bag of broccoli, too.


You can brown ground beef, cook chicken, or even pick up the fajita meat from the meat section–all cooks quickly as long as it’s not frozen.

Sally Tip: Instead of using the salt-laden taco seasoning packet, use chili power, salt, and pepper to taste. Cooking any of the meats with onions adds a nice flavor. For ground beef, I just a jar of salsa to add flavor–it adds a bit too much water for the chicken and the steak, though.

In La Casa Kilpatrick, we round out the meat with Goya yellow rice and Goya black beans as well as corn tortillas (cuz gluten free)


Pot Roast in a crockpot is another great one if you have the prep time in the morning. I like to use a chuck roast, onions, carrots and potatoes. For the marinade I’ll mix olive oil with vinegar and montreal steak seasoning then add water so the roast doesn’t go dry. Beef broth is good to add, too.

So here’s how I do it:

  1. Brown the chuck roast on all sides.
  2. Slice onion and put some below the meat and some on top. Cut up potatoes and throw in baby carrots.
  3. Mix up marinade (see above or the London Broil marinade in the Better Homes and Gardens cook book)
  4. Set and forget–cook it on low all day long.
  5. Add a salad and eat so you can get back to writing.

Sally Tip: I use those plastic crock pot liners because I’m lazy, and I don’t like to clean things. Lord willing the cooking plastic won’t kill us all.

Hopefully, one of these three suppers will help you out in a pinch. After all, we don’t always have the money to order that pizza. I hear sandwiches and cereal work also. Anything to get back to to the laptop, am I right?

P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos, but I gotta write. Just as well since my suppers taste better than they look. *mwah*


Oh, The Places I’ll Go

Guys, I’m in a rut.*

I’m trudging along with my current book as one does, albeit at a glacial pace. This story has dug its heels in like a recalcitrant toddler. It doesn’t want to be written. I don’t want to write it. The antipathy is rather mutual. I thought today’s blog post would be about inspiration in the hopes that I might find some for my current WIP.

Attribution: RE Hawkins

Attribution: RE Hawkins

When I thought of the inspiration for my works, one thing cropped up again and again: place. Did you know that my first novel after graduating from college was inspired by a trip to the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona? True story. I wrote a historical western about a buckskin wearing heroine who played poker and was falsely accused of robbing the town bank.

No, you may not read it. I’m hoping it’s lost to all posterity.

My first published novel, The Happy Hour Choir, came about as I was contemplating how horrible being named Beulah Land would be if you didn’t live up to heavenly behavior. What really got the book going, however, was seeing a little cinder block bar out in the middle of nowhere. Never once have I visited that bar, but it served as my inspiration for The Fountain.

Book two, Bittersweet Creek, has a setting very near and dear to my heart. Almost none of my readers

A painting of my Granny's House

A painting of my Granny’s House

would recognize the farmhouse that belongs to the Satterfields, but, in my mind, it’s my Granny’s house. I also used several of the outbuildings, including a barn that’s no longer there. The old green house that meant so much to me will now live on in fiction, if not in reality.

Better Get to Livin’ has a unique inspiration in Casey’s Funeral Home in Henderson. Not only have I attended about a bajillion funerals there, but I also used to play “Taps” for military funerals and spent more than one afternoon cooling my jets in the back kitchen. I also included a trailer park in homage to my formative years.

The Ryman Auditorium

My novella, tentatively titled Orange Blossom Special, didn’t take off until I started envisioning places I’d been. I used Knoxville for that one, both the University of Tennessee campus and the old Tennessee Theatre. I also toured Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium over the summer so I could include it. Before I turn in the final draft, I’m going to visit General Neyland’s grave, too.

Gentle reader, as I write about these places, I realize I don’t have one for my current work in progress. Hmmm. Could it be that, in writing to you, I have stumbled upon the solution my problems? Time will tell. In the meantime, what inspires you? What do you do to refill the well? Readers, do you like to read about actual places?

*Funny story: I attended church services at a different church on Sunday, and the preacher included a line about how a rut is “a grave with the ends kicked out.” Kinda inspired me to get out of mine, if you know what I mean.

P.P.S. Important note: I will often write about places that actually exist, but I never intentionally write about people who exist. Any resemblance you might see to someone you know, is completely coincidental. Well, there is the character I quite loosely based on a dead person, but that’s another story for another day.


Your Poster Child for How NOT to be a Healthy Writer*

Here at BadGirlzWrite we have a topic from time to time, something to get those blogger juices flowing. This cycle’s topic is strategies for maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional health.

Y’all, I’m falling apart. So maybe I should tell you what NOT to do:

  1. Don’t subsist on a steady diet of coffee all day and then wine all night. As much fun as this sounds, consider the cautionary tale of Elvis, who followed a similar lifestyle of uppers and downers. We all know how that ended. Indulging in too much caffeine and too much alcohol can exacerbate adrenal fatigue. Add in a marathon, and I have a body that aches all over and extra pounds that won’t budge.
  2. Don’t freak out about your sales numbers. I have passed that task to my husband because there’s not a thing you can do about them, and what you see on Amazon doesn’t accurately reflect what’s going on anyway. Wait for your royalty statements and worry about it then.
  3. Don’t succumb to lethargy—exercise every damn day. Coming out of summer vacation, I have made it a priority to do something each day. Sometimes it’s a 20-minute walk. Sometimes it’s not. Since I have plantar fasciitis (yes, still) I’ve added swimming and am working on adding biking to my repertoire.
  4. Don’t set unrealistic goals. If you’re like me, daily goals are nigh upon impossible because each day brings doctors’ appointments, oil that needs to be changed, sick kids, who knows? It’s a grab bag of unexpectedness! If you set a weekly goal, you can attempt to compensate for those interruptions. (BTW do not ask me how I’m doing on word counts this week and last. As always, I am a work in progress.)
  5. Don’t torture yourself by sitting in the same chair day after day if the words aren’t coming. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, especially if there’s massive construction going on behind your house. Not that I would know anything about that. (I do happen to have a new set of over the ear headphones that help greatly with blocking out the noise.)
  6. Do stock the cupboards with healthy snacks. You’re going to eat while you write, and you can’t subsist on chocolate alone. I would know because I tried.
  7. Do learn what you can do and what you can’t and try not to commit to more than that. I am still learning this one. This is totally a do as I say and not as I do situation.
  8. Don’t wallow around in your misery refusing to see a doctor. I’m going to be honest with you. Not only is honesty the best policy, but we ladies also don’t speak up enough about our health. I put on twenty pounds between January and now. I have often not felt like getting out of bed. I hide that pretty well at conference, don’t I? Sometimes I’m on social media because the only thing I feel like doing is moving my thumbs. Well, I’ve been to at least three doctor’s appointments in the past two months, and I have two more on the docket. I had a full panel from the endocrinologist, but all she could find was low Vitamin D and the fact that I’m forty-one, so she sent me to the psychiatrist. My life is too damn good to feel this damn bad, so I guess I’ll try some better living through chemistry, round two. I still say there’s something physically wrong with me, so I’ll keep going, but I have to admit my new meds *seem* to be working. I can get out of bed first thing in the morning, so that’s an improvement. As much of a pain in the ass as it is to make appointments and go to them and to keep pushing, we’ll never get well if we don’t keep showing up and advocating for ourselves. Think of it as a process similar to getting published; persistence is key. Also, you’d best be doing your regular maintenance: pap smears, mammograms, dental cleanings, etc. I’m watching you.
  9. Speaking of social media, we—and by “we” I mainly mean “me”–might need to lay off. In addition to all of the anxiety from trying to meet deadlines, we have an election year and a twenty-four hour newscycle of violence and social injustice. These things wear writers down because I swear we’re empaths—we have to be to do what we do, which is delve deep into the psyches of fictional people. I want to be informed, but there’s so much crap I can’t do anything about that I need to take a break from time to time. Also, there are some really nasty people on the Interwebs. I’m not ready to concede Twitter to the trolls, but I do think a break is in order from time to time. Then I’ll jump back into the fray and find what ways I can better fight the good fight.

So that’s my honest assessment of where I am health wise. Y’all, this is a crazy stressful job, and I keep telling myself that I don’t have a specific benchmark of success to attain. I remind myself that I’m fortunate enough to be able to write what I want to write without having to worry about the income or lack thereof. Even so, we all want to succeed. I know I do. Defining success and finding it without sacrificing our heath, is one of the greatest challenges we’re going to face.

May the odds be ever in our favor!

*For quite some time I happily blogged at Healthy Writer. I was far healthier then, let me assure you.


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