XX~ February 2009

For those of you who don't read my (almost) Daily Blog , I'm delighted to announce the joyful fact that Miss Birdie's book, formally known as The Day of Small Things, is with my editor, awaiting her tender mercies!

I'm not sure why this book took so long – yes, there were some outside distractions, but I think it was mainly that I was doing something different, i.e., no Elizabeth. And Miss Birdie took her sweet time revealing her story. Also, I'm always trying to get better.

Plus new characters kept popping up, demanding to have their say, and I found the whole adventure going down some very odd side roads, indeed.

Now comes the waiting for my editor's verdict.

I wonder if even the big, multi-bestselling authors experience this gut-wrenching doubt when they send in their books?

When I read through it for the last time before sending it off, I was pretty pleased. There may be weak spots; no, make that undoubtedly there are weak spots. The main problem, I suspect, is that this is a standalone – it should make sense and be tantalizing to people who've never heard of Miss Birdie or Ridley Branch and Marshall County. And, of course, it's difficult for me to keep that in mind as I write – I know all of this background so well now that it's hard to remember the reader may not..

But for now it's out of my hands. We'll see what Herself thinks.


Another piece of information – some of you have emailed to say that wherever you try, Signs in the Blood is unavailable or on indeterminate backorder. My editor advises me that Signs will once again be available on February 13. Soon.


( or ‘you uns,' as Miss Birdie would say)

Sue P. says: I love your comment on learning to tell the difference in what is important.  That is so utterly true and I think that the older we get, the more important that becomes.  Fortunately, I also think that the older we become, the easier it becomes.  My husband said today about how he wished he could just do a "mind-dump" into our 2 daughter's heads so that they would know all the pitfalls and avoid so much of the pain in store for them.  I thought for a minute and while we want to save our children, the fact remains that one has to go through the fire in order to be refined.  You can't just know about the fire or see the fire, as appealing as that might be.

Marsh C. writes: We had already established that we both were fugitive Floridians. Now I find that you also have Alabama roots. My father's ancestors were early settlers in Pickens County Alabama, west of Tuscaloosa. As family genealogist I have done a bit of research into the family and found that they moved to Pickens County from Bibb County sometime in the very early 19 th Century. They were farmers and (later) lumber mill owners. My grandfather was a state representative in the 1920's.

I heard of a man who, while writing a family history, discovered that his great-great grandfather had been hanged as a horse thief. Wanting to put everyone in the history and tell the truth, he wrote, “My great-great grandfather died at a public gathering given in his honor when the platform gave way beneath him.”

I have also done some research on Saralyn's (my wife) family. I ran across this account of Tavner Moore , who was her great-great-great-great grandfather. Since he married a woman from Buncombe County I though you might like to read it:


“Around 1798 or 1799, Tavner Moore , a small Irish lad, was kidnapped while picking up peat from the marsh for use as fuel.  His captors sought to place him in involuntary servitude as an indentured servant.  He escaped them, not knowing where he was and having as his sole possessions the clothes he wore and a small piece of ham hidden in his hat.  He made his way to the waterfront and hid on a ship, which was docked there.  Some time after the ship sailed and was far from land the stowaway was discovered and forced to work on the ship to earn his passage.  Arriving in America (probably in New York or Philadelphia), he made his way down through Virginia and the Carolinas.  He met and married Mary Murphy in Buncombe County, North Carolina .  They journeyed from there to establish a home on Land Lot Number 49 at Tiger Creek, Georgia, East of Tiger Mountain. This is in Rabun County.

            By 1823 he was working at the U.S. government mint at Dahlonega, Georgia (where gold had been discovered.)  He became gravely ill, probably with tuberculosis.  Word was sent to Mary, who was still at Tiger Creek with the seven children.  When Mary received word of the illness she arranged for the children to be cared for by her relatives in the area and she set out on foot to walk over the mountain trails to Dahlonega -- fully 65 miles away .  It was late December or early January .  She arrived in time to have a few days with Tavner before he died.

Four days after his death she gave birth to their 8th child , William Gillon Moore .  (Saralyn's Great-great - great Grandfather).

            Tavner is buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery at Dahlonega where many of the 3,000 graves are marked with only a rough piece of fieldstone.  Tavner's grave is one of them.

            Mary lived about one year longer, caring for the eight children.  When she died her Uncle Isaac and Aunt Delilah Murphy took the children.  They also soon died and again the children were left homeless.  As they were about to be "bound out" by the officials of Rabun County Georgia -- as indentured servants of local families; their older brother rescued them.  He was "Coosa" John Moore, and was only recently grown and married.  He took them all home to live with him and his new wife.”

Deborah in Piney Flats says of this newsletter: “ It has really been an excellent source for formulating my reading lists.  Just wanted to say I also enjoyed Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  If you get the opportunity, go have a meal at the restaurant in Meadowview, VA, can't miss it, it is on the square.”

Clara U. emailed to say: I now have a blog of my own. I did it on accidentally trying to leave  a comment on yours. However, now that I have one, I am still not going to blog on it. No matter what I try I can't leave something on your blog so I am e-mailing this. Have any others of you been unable to comment and if so, I wonder why?

This is the French edition of Signs in the Blood – tres cool, non?


Books I've enjoyed during the past month

The Temeraire Trilogy by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon

Throne of Jade

Black Powder War

The British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars – with an air wing composed of dragons. A beautifully realized fantasy – Patrick O'Brian meets . . . whom? Ann Mc Caffrey maybe?

Thunderball – Ian Fleming

Back in the early Sixties, I really loved these books. But now Bond's sexist attitudes are beginning seriously to annoy me. Plus this particular book seemed to have way too much technical stuff and not

much story.

The World Made Straight - Ron Rash

Lyrical and gritty-- is it possible? Another terrific book by this author -- and set in my own Madison County, NC.

Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman

Audio version. Much fun, with delightful island music. Very good narrator.

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Another audio. Wonderful overview that leaves me aware of how very much I don't know.


Vicki's Schedule



Saturday, February 7~ Murder in the Magic City at the Homewood Library in Birmingham, Alabama. More info here .


Sunday, February 8 ~ Murder on the Menu, Wetumpka, Alabama. Information here


Friday, February 27 – Sunday, March 1 SC BOOK FESTIVAL, Columbia, SC. Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

Sunday, March 1, 3 pm ~ Vicki is speaking at the Troy, NC Public Library. Sponsored by the Montgomery County Friends of the Library.

Contact: David Atkins, Manager

Montgomery County Public Libraries

215 West Main Street

Troy, NC 27371


Friday and Saturday, May 8-9 -- Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase. Flat Rock, NC.

I'm really excited about this. Sharyn McCrumb, Kay Byer, Sheila Kay Adams, and Joan Medlicott – all of whom have befriended me and helped me on my journey – will be presenting, as well as many other noted writers – including Robert Morgan.

Billed as "a festival and convocation in celebration of authorship, creative writing and the joy of reading," organizers of the Blue Ridge Book & Author Showcase have launched an ambitious inaugural project. The venue will be the soon-to-be-completed crown jewel of the Blue Ridge Community College campus in Flat Rock, NC--the Technical Education and Development Center. The event is scheduled for May 8-9, 2009. Free and open to the public, it is expected to draw attendance from throughout the state and region.

Vicki will be speaking at 10 AM on Saturday the 9 th and will have a table in the exhibit area where she will be available throughout the day. More info

Friday and Saturday, September 11-12 - CAROLINA MOUNTAINS LITERARY FESTIVAL,  Burnsville, NC.  Info to come

Keep in touch!

Email   me.  

Visit my (almost) daily blog

Visit my website :

Visit my Amazon blog : more or less monthly postings

Happy Valentine's Day!

back to newsletter