XVII ~ November 2008


Or as they used to say in my neck of the woods, “Vote early and often!”

Just teasing – the often part would be Wrong. But what a joy it's been to be able to vote early. Predictions for a record turnout sent me scurrying to our local polls as soon as early voting was possible.

This historic election has kept our family riveted to the news –and I'll be delighted when it's over. All my hopes are focused on there being an undisputed outcome and a bi-partisan commitment to addressing the multiple problems – economic, political, environmental – that threaten our country and our planet.

And one more wish – that people vote their hopes, rather than their fears.


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

Last month I asked you all for your opinion on happy endings?

Nancy B. says: y es, I'm in for happy endings or at least realistic enough to bear. I'm not into revenge at all. I'm more of a Winnie-the-Pooh type of person.

From Sue P. : Enjoyed the link to Laurie King's blog.  I do agree with both of you about the 'happy endings'

Elizabeth K. aka Stregalibby had such a lovely response that I almost edited it down to keep from blushing. But, what the heck – here it is: I had to laugh at the writer who told you that your readers would love the ending, but New York would hate it. BTW - I was born and raised in NY and didn't move to Fl. until my early twenties, my whole family is in NY, I know NY. According to my sources, they like a happy ending as much as anyone. What is that writer trying to do? You have a style of writing that has brought you many fans. Ultimately, the question is - does your writing satisfy YOU? It would me - you've published a number of books and have a very loyal following. Your books are a pleasure, a real pleasure, Vicki.

There is this mentality in the arts that if you please a lot of ordinary people it doesn't count, it is almost an insult - personally I don't get it and don't like it much either.

The other issue is this - if I want negative, unhappiness, etc in my leisure reading, I'll pick up a newspaper or turn on the news. When I read a novel, I want to know everything will work out in the end. For me, reading is a delicious pleasure - no burst bubbles at the end allowed, LOL.

Your books are wonderful with a nice resolution that satisfies. They are not fluff and they have plenty of interesting detail and bits of history, folklore, etc. about the mountains as well as mystery, murder and mayhem, but it all works out and there are lots of nice people too.  I think they are great and so do many others! And - I plop down my hard-earned money to buy them, looking forward to when the next one comes out (never soon enough - and keep them in a special place and make sure I don't lend them to anyone. I tell everyone, buy the books, they are keepers.  Oh, by the way, did I mention that I've read them all twice and will reread them again?

Certainly we all need to explore other avenues of creativity and change, grow, keep it fresh, but I hope you will continue the wonderful style you already have for all of us who enjoy your good stories. Those mountains have lots of good tales what need telling. A good storyteller is worth many times her weight in gold - I do believe the new rate, recently increased, is one million times; she is also blessed many trillions of times over and is highly respected - perhaps only by the ordinary folks, but there are lots of us!

From Nancy P.: I use reading to escape reality. If I want sad, I will just look at life. The endings do not need to be so sappy they are unbelievable but positive resolution is good!

Elaine S. in Hawaii adds: Incoherent musings about "literary" writing vs. writing for the rest of us: I've read lots of "literary" books, haven't we all. Mostly, they're like a lot of modern painting, modern music. They're messy in my mind and they depress me, give me bad dreams. I don't go there often, unless I'm misled by someone who thinks I really should read (fill in the blank). I want to be informed in an entertaining way. I want landscape I can see, characters I can connect with, compare with people I know. Characters who are flawed but not broken because of the flaws. Characters who have...hope. Just because a poem rhymes, don't mean it ain't poetry. If Robert Service is not included in a list of poets, the list is incomplete. Sophisticates, people who live primarily to impress others, and those who like to delve deep, deep into their psyches can read literary books. I, who live on the surface and want to laugh, will s tick with what others term less literary writing. In a nutshell, with regard to literary writing, I say, "I don't get it." aloha no e
Nancy M. writes:

I liked the link to the Melungeons in your Goodweather Report.  I always thought that my great-grandmother (granddaddy's mother - the one in the picture with the hound dog) was Melungeon.  My aunt Inez especially had the features.  But we can find out very little about our great-grandmother, Sara.  She was a house maid in my great-grandfather's (Allen) home and got pregnant by him.  He raised granddaddy as his own and there was even another child born.  However, by that time, he had married my Granny Becky (full-bloodied Cherokee Indian - lived to be 106) who threw Sara out along with the newest baby.  We have one picture of her and she's very dark but we can't find out where she's buried or what happened to her after she left Allen's house.  We do know that she had one more child - a half-brother to my granddaddy - who lived in Asheville - I was able to track down his granddaughter - who has a daughter named Nancy.  Isn't family history fun!!!

And when I told her that Miss Birdie has a part Cherokee grandmother named Granny Beck, Nancy said:

That's something about Granny Beck - and I don't believe I told you anything about Granny Becky before.  She was quite a character - her hair was long and black and even when she died, there was very little gray in it.  She had perfect eyesight; she would sit on her porch and could tell you what kind of car was going up the highway which was a good ways across the holler.  Made wonderful applesauce cake and would grab a chicken on Sunday morning, swing it up on a tree stump and chop its head off with a hatchet.  She raised my granddaddy as her own and also had two other children - one was a doctor, Bates Henderson, and he was the physician at Berea College in Kentucky for years.  He moved back to the old home place in the 60's and was the Madison County Coroner for awhile

Beth E. reports: I really like the latest "Undertaker" mystery, Blackman's Coffin . . .  Have you read any of Kate Atkinson's books?  Set in Scotland with threads that she ties up so wonderfully.

Carol M. (who discovered me through my website and has the Goodweather books on order has been reading her way through back issues of The Goodweather Report and my (almost) Daily Blog. She writes: Have you ever read John Rice Irwin's book Alex Stewart? I could not put the book down. Your mention of the Melungeons brought this to mind. Alex was from Hancock County, TN and lived near a group of them. I would have given anything to have known that man.

Re: Happy Endings in books..........I read to experience the unknown. From a young age I learned I could go anywhere, do anything and meet fascinating people in the pages of a book. I want everything to go good. I believe it was Gap Creek by Robert Morgan that I hated the ending even though I loved the book!


Well, I have made it through July on the blog. That blog is wonderful! I feel like I'm reading a great book!

The pictures are great and I scanned your book shelves and cannot believe how many of the same books we read. Have you ever read Mary N. Murfree or Emma Bell Miles? I want to catch up on the blog so I can start

commenting. The recipes are wonderful too and all the stories, I have been on one heck of trip back in time.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy's may have been what started my love of the written word along with a set of books on the Presidents and their wives. It has truly been a love affair I can tell you that!

Recent Reads and Re-reads

Books I've enjoyed during the past month

Sadly, for me, nothing new to report – Miss Birdie is demanding all my attention. I am really looking forward to reading the things you all have suggested. Ron Rash's Serena is also on my list –I hope to get an autographed copy at the upcoming NC Writers Conference.

The passing of Tony Hillerman, noted over on my (almost) daily blog ,

has me ready to leap back into The Blessing Way and read right through this amazing series again. What a legacy to leave behind!

Vicki's Schedule


November 14-16 North Carolina Writers Network Conference. Hilton RDU in Research Triangle Park (near airport). Saturday, November 15, 2:30 -4:00. I'll be teaching a workshop on writing mysteries. More info here .

A Whodunnit Howdunnit

So you want to write a mystery! Starting with the most basic premise: ‘X is dead and A, B, C, D, or E might have done it, we'll look at the many types of mystery, from cozy cats and crafts to hard-boiled noir and all stops in between. Next we'll talk about choosing a protagonist, a setting, a point of view, and the pros and cons of different choices. We'll discuss various ‘systems' for plotting, as well as the exciting and sometimes perilous ‘seat of your pants' method. Plots and sub plots, twists and re-twists will be considered. Brief writing exercises, as time permits.


Saturday, December 6 ~ Appalachian Authors Fair

Old Fort Library, Old Fort, NC. Noon to 3.   This small library is located in the community of Old Fort, nine miles west of the Carson House.  It is just off I-40 at Exit 73, and easily accessible for visitors from all around, especially the Black Mountain and Asheville area.


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, Wetumka, Alabama. Information coming soon here


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 here.

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