Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Deep Thoughts, Bruises and All.

First of all, Happy Holidays. No matter your outlook or what you celebrate, I wish you renewed joy and well-being.

Okay. Now. To the pressing matter at hand: keeping on in a time when the world rages and each headline is more bizarre than the next.

Every morning, I tune into the national news. I’d rather ostrich myself. Truly. But I do live in this jumbled period of history and construct stories, so I must, if not understand, at least observe.

I wear deep frown lines. Yes I do.
But I also own deep smile lines. Thank the heavens.

I used to be a blind optimist, the kid who found the pony beneath the pile of poop, the woman who trusted in ultimate peace and universal benevolence.
I’d love to say I am still that person. Alas.

My mother once told me I was a new breed, what she called “a bruised optimist.”  This is true. I still hold to the belief goodness and kindness exist, because they do. I bump into strangers in the grocery store, at the gas pumps, in line at some eatery: those who smile and pass a few moments, who seem to long for gentle interaction as much as I do. No social media post can rival the connection between people, no matter how brief.

In this season where hope and hatred bash against the glass in equal measure, I vow to bring bruised optimism to my work, to my interactions, to my world.

My very best to all of you. Should we meet in line for soup, or in some internet media queue, may we all offer balms for bruises.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sure, I am Southern, but drop the attitude...

This has been stuck in my craw for a while, so I need to get it unstuck.
There is, of course, a bit of a backstory...

Recently, I enjoyed brunch with a good writer friend at a small local eatery. Wonderful company. Of course we discussed our works-in-progress and an upcoming writers' retreat we attend each year. At the next table--inches away--a clutch of men of varying ages discussed books they were reading, or had read. Couldn't help but overhear.

Being the kind of person who often talks to strangers, I stopped by their table on our way out, to compliment them, as the future of the written word is important to me, as a fellow reader and author. The men smiled and nodded, pleased, I suppose.

I mentioned as an aside, that both my friend and I were authors. The youngest man--the one with the loudest opinions--asked what I wrote. When I replied "fiction set in the South," he leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'd never read anything Southern." Mean tone. Snarky, huffed laugh. Judgment intended and received. He went on to further talk down this part of the country.

Those of you who know me well, know I am seldom at a loss for words. His comments stunned me mute for a beat. We managed to smile and wish them a good day. After my friend and I stepped outside, all I could manage was "wow."

As with such things, I thought of a handful of rebuttals afterward. How I might have listed notable Southern authors or somehow stood up for us, for myself. I am not one for conflict, being raised to step away from such. Given the current mood in our country, perhaps being able to zip it and walk away is in my best interest, not wanting to wake up dead. I sit with my indignation still simmering. I don't cotton to simmering indignation; it keeps me from moving on to more useful projects, like the current work in progress.

Just because I am from the South, do not EVER decide I am illiterate, racist, or narrow. Yes, there are things I do not like about this part of the country. But there is much to love, too. Biscuits. Big ones--catheads--with butter and Tupelo honey. Chicken 'n' Dumplings and pecan pie and pickled everything. Country roads carpeted with sugary sand. People who will nod and smile, and wish you a good day and mean it. People who'd rather pass the time on a rocking chair porch, shelling peas and listening to the crickets sing. People who will put down the dang phone and actually look you in the face. People of differing races and creeds who are doing their dadgum best to reach across the abyss and forge a better future.

I feel better now. I'll forgive, but being Southern, I probably won't forget. Somewhere down the line, in one of my novels, I shall get the last say.
Writers do that, you know.

Y'all have a good day.

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author
Rhett's website

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Writers4Higher congratulates Pat Stanford

Welcome back, Pat! Tell us a little about your new book.

I have been writing poetry practically as long as I could first hold a pencil, and have other poems published in several anthologies. This is my first attempt at publishing a whole bunch of them at the same time.

My mother had several of those little clothbound write-in books filled with her poems. They were mostly simple little ditties, but she still had fun with them and wrote them, matching the ink color to the color of the cover. That is what poetry is to me—just having a bit of fun with words. I never laid claim to being a “serious” poet and I doubt mine are “for the ages” yet there are a few gems here, so say friends.

Much of my poetry rhymes because I like the added challenge, and the fact that many of them came to me as songs back when I could still play the guitar. (Lopping off a fingertip stopped my career as a troubadour.) Most appear in quatrains, couplets, or similar formats, because that is the influence that most stuck with me, although I have been stretched a little by several local poetry groups where we explored new and obscure forms. I most like writing “off the cuff” as we sometimes do in our meetings, but I always go back and “mess with them” some more, simply because I can’t help myself.

Here, I present thoughts on many topics written throughout my “seasons” of life. Some thoughts have changed along with those seasons and I may no longer embrace what was written in the same way. Rather than destroy some poems, I either left them totally alone to remind me how far I have progressed since they were first conceived or have edited them to be more contemporary.

1.   Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

      While I was born in Philadelphia, my farming family moved to Delray Beach, Florida when I was one, looking for year-round growing seasons. I lived there until a brief stint in the Air Force took me to California.

I graduated Florida State University with a Secondary Education, which was never used for its intended purpose.

I won second place in the 2004 Seven Hills Contest with my short story, Divorce Sale, and am working on other short stories. Fixing Boo Boo is my first novel length work, which won gold for Florida non Fiction at Florida Authors and Publishers Association Presidents Awards in 2017.

After being introduced to growing roses by my father, I created my own rose garden and frequently photograph them to share in social media. I served as President of the Tallahassee Area Rose Society and am a bronze medal recipient with the national organization, the American Rose Society.

I live in Tallahassee, Florida with my husband, a rambunctious puppy and a quirky cat.

2.   Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I began a fiction set in Mongolia work over ten years ago, but it got bogged down in research, so I put it in a drawer. I now think I am better equipped to finish writing it. The characters are talking to me again after being shoved to the back of the room several times. I hope they will get their chance to be heard in the near future.

Aside from gathering up more poetry for a possible second volume, I am working on a second book about the many types of brain Injury. I’ve met a lot of people who talk to me at festivals and fairs and they have a different story to tell. I interviewed and transcribed over 20 stories and now the real work begins. To make their story interesting and compelling to a casual reader looking for general information. To make them stop and actually think about the stories being real people whose lives were interrupted.
Then maybe a sequel to the Mongolia story. I am open to the muses!

3.   How do you use your talents/time to help others?

With the publishing of Fixing Boo Boo, I begin a whole new chapter of helping people who are not disabled understand what they don’t understand. I have partnered with the Brain Injury Association of Florida and the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association in order to help them in their annual public awareness events and have information at my signing events to help people with questions on disability.  

In my role as President of the Tallahassee Writers Association, I try to encourage new and timid writers to ask the tough questions that will help them become better writers. I also love to see newly published writers in their first experience at the Downtown Marketplace, a chance to be out and talking about their work.

Author Website: 


Rhett DeVane, blogmaster

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Writers4Higher Congratulates Scott Archer Jones

Writers4Higher Congratulates 
author Scott Archer Jones

 Hi Scott. Welcome back. Tell us about your latest project.

Thanks for having me on the blog again, this time to talk about And Throw Away The Skins.

The first question your readers will ask is why they should want to read this particular book.  This is a story of personal triumph, and it takes place in a beautiful place. Its themes include loving that-which-will-kill-you, religion, the Afghanistan war and how it comes home, scars, bankruptcy, infidelity, and a village Santa Eulalia de Mérida. Its setting is aggressively blue-collar and poverty bound–true to New Mexico in general. Its jumping off point is the Church of a Thousand Pews and its finish is in a mountaintop with a blizzard coming in.

And then, I guess, the reader will want to know something of the story shape. The protagonist, Bec Robertson, is starting over. She's broke, recovering from breast cancer, and lives in a rundown cabin in northern New Mexico. Her husband is deployed in Afghanistan and can't stand to touch her. Her villagers are mountain-crazy and take advantage of her good nature, and her hawk Amelia can't keep up with the mice. She lives next door to a dubious veterans' center. As if she hasn't invented enough problems for herself, she has a love/hate connection with an unstable Marine. Being Bec is tough–but she lives under the numinous skies of New Mexico.

All books have a back story, and this one began with a character invented for a short story. The protagonist Bec is named after a famous New Yorker/New Mexican, Rebecca Salsbury James, who rode a motorcycle and taught Georgia O'Keeffe to drive. The story kept growing to fit my Bec's personality. Bec let me know in a hurry that she was opinionated, strong, and completely unsentimental. From that point, I just caused her trouble for four years, and then–bang–we had a book.

Readers also might want to know something about the author. Rest assured, I'm not a serial killer and I don't really believe in Atlantis. The book is dedicated to our Labrador who passed as we were working on final galleys, so I can demonstrate a soft and squishy side. I'm currently trapped within my sixth novel and first novella up here in New Mexico's mountains, after stints in the Netherlands, Scotland, and Norway–plus less exotic locations.  I worked for a power company, grocers, a lumberyard, an energy company (for a very long time), and a winery. I'm currently the treasurer of Shuter Library of Angel Fire, a private 501.C3, and desperately need your money to keep the doors open.

You can get the book at

Or at my author page on Amazon: Scott Archer Jones Amazon Author Page

We even offer the book in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Thank you, Scott! Writers4Higher wishes you success as you continue your writing career.

Rhett DeVane
blogmaster and head cheerleader for W4H

Deep Thoughts, Bruises and All. First of all, Happy Holidays . No matter your outlook or what you celebrate, I wish you renewed ...