Well, Bless Your Heart

I love those words. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? I love them because I’m a Southern girl. Southern woman. I was born in the South and will likely die in the South… Unless, of course, I find out I’m a long lost relative of a Duke in England somewhere and I’ve been named in a will to inherit a country manor house, then I’m outta here. But until that happens, I’m here in the South. It’s my home. It’s a part of me. And I’m proud to be a Southerner.

As a whole, we’ve taken a lot of shit over the years and a lot of it is rightly deserved (Yes, we Southerners do study the history of the South. A lot). We’ve taken a lot of shit most recently for what happened in 2016 and again, a lot is rightly deserved. And I have to be honest here and say that for the first time in my life, I was embarrassed as a Southerner. (This isn’t a political post, I promise)

Over the weekend, I spent some time in Alabama. I drove from Charlotte to a small town outside Birmingham. I listened to Miranda Lambert’s new album Wildcard MULTIPLE TIMES. Like ON REPEAT. I love it. It’s wonderful. She’s found herself again and come through the heartache to the other side and it’s brilliant. I visited family and family friends who have a big home in the country with woods all around. We laughed and we talked and I’m the only liberal among us all. I was also the youngest, which was kind of a strange feeling since I’ve been in a mental place of thinking and acting like I’m so very old. I haven’t hit 50 yet, but something has been going on inside me that m age has freaked me out. But…one of the days I was there, I was sitting outside looking at nature, and it hit me that for a while now, I’ve been trying to be someone and something that I’m not…as a person and as a writer. I’ve been trying to distance myself from myself. That’s never a good thing.

I’m tired of all the anger and the hate and the discord. It’s draining. It’s stressful. It’s not productive. You can be passionate about something, about someone, about a cause, about change and we should be, we need to be, but there are ways to go about it that don’t require anger and hate and just…ugh!

While I was away, I unplugged from social media except to post about Kyle Busch winning the 2019 Nascar Championship and posting a couple of pictures on my Instagram. I didn’t check email. I did start a new story that came to me as I was driving up to Birmingham. But that bit of unplugging, that bit of distancing myself from the You need to, You should, You have to, mentality helped clear my head some.

I’m a person who says Y’all, who calls people dude and bubba, who drinks coke with peanuts, who boils peanuts, who has a twang and a Southern accent, who has studied the South and the Civil War, who did not vote for Trump in 2016, but who still loves her grandma and friends who did, and who does not go to church but believes in magic and that the universe has my back. I’m in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains and cabins in the woods and am someone who knows this region of the country with its sweet tea and fried chicken and Friday night fish fries and where college football is a religion and where Nascar was born.

But I was trying to be someone else and I was trying to write stories as someone else. I was trying to write for everyone else, for their expectations. I wasn’t trying to write to the market or jump on trends because I just don’t shift that fast, but… I lost my fuckin’ way, y’all… In various ways, but definitely in this one.

I have a little sign that sits on top of my monitor that says “There’s Nothing In The Whole Wide World Like A Southern Girl” and that’s a true statement. Take it from me, a Southern girl. I need to stop trying to be someone else, someone that I can’t seem to connect with.

There are lightning bolts and thunder cracks that wake us up sometimes, and then there are the quiet whispers that unless you turn it all off and tune it all out, you’ll never hear them. I had needed the weekend away. I had needed to see my mom and my grandma. I had needed to spend some time with only myself, and alone in a car for 6.5 hours was as good a way as any to do that, to let my creative mind wander, to sing along to songs so much that my voice started to go.

My outlook has been different since I’ve been back home. It’s been more optimistic and brighter and it’s been more tuned into ME and not so much the outside noise.

Just getting outside the buzzing and humming and yammering… It’s a wonder the things that will be revealed…

Lissa

Favorites – Road Trip Snacks

It’s a busy day. A very busy day and I haven’t even started writing yet, which is something I need to do before the day is over. In a little bit I’ll be headed out to the post office, the gas station, and the grocery store. Last minute errands before I leave tomorrow morning.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ll be headed to Cincinnati, Ohio for the annual Lori Foster Reader/Author Get Together. I always look forward to this trip. It’s fun, relaxed, and Cincinnati is one of my favorite cities. If you’re going to be in attendance, please say hi! I’d love to see you, or meet you if I haven’t before.

I drive to the event because I love road trips. I love to drive, even though it’s mentally exhausting and I’m stiff and achy when I get out of the car after being in the seat for 3-4 hours, I love to drive and take road trips. I don’t do it as often as I’d like, what with gas prices and the up-keep repairs on vehicles and the idiots on the road, but, I do love them. And if I can take a road that is not a major highway or an Interstate, I’m even happier.

I haven’t been to many places in my life, not as many as I’d like to, and definitely not as many as I intend to, but of those that I have, I have loved them. Driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Driving through the low-country in Georgia and South Carolina. Driving through the farm lands of Kentucky and Ohio. Driving through the hills of West Virginia and Virginia. Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennesee and North Carolina. Yes, I am a Southern girl. This is very well established…lol.

But the other thing about road trips is snacks. I’ll be gathering those today on my outing to the store. Some of my favorite snacks are:

1. Coke and peanuts. Yes, I’m talking peanuts IN the coke. Yum.

2. Water. I always buy a flat of water to take with me.

3. Grapes, cheese sticks, beef jerky, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, baby carrots, dried fruit. Have to have the healthy snacks because…

4. Moonpies or Little Debbie Snack Cakes or Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, or even something homemade like Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Treats. …There’s always the junk food!

5. Gum. Variety of flavors.

What about you? What are your favorite on the road snacks?

~lissa

A Moment to Catch Up

It’s been a long couple of weeks. My mom has been here. We’ve gone to the races. We’ve had a lot of heart to heart talks. I’ve written only about 400 words.

I still haven’t heard from my editor, but I have sent her an email, just inquiring. I’m as anxious as the rest of you, trust me.

I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted. I am just freakin’ tired and I’m not even sure I can think straight.

Oh, but… have y’all looked at my coming soon page? This cover holder cover is on it…

It was made by my friend and cover artist Kendra at Creations by Kendra. I love it! It is marking the place where the cover will go that she’s going to make for Trouble in the Making. I am going to self publish it around the end of June. I am very nervous about it, but as I said in another blog post, if I don’t self publish, I likely won’t see any releases this year given the over abundance of submissions at publishers. Plus, to be honest, I am curious about self publishing.

On Thursday I will be traveling up to Cincinnati for the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together. On one hand, I am looking forward to it. On the other hand, I just want to crawl into a bed and sleep for a week. I. Am. Just. That. Tired. It’s about an 8-9 hour drive from my home to the hotel, give or take a while for traffic and the inevitability of road construction. I look forward to mingling some, but I will be spending a great deal of time writing. I haven’t done more than a few hundred words since my mom has been visiting and I really need to get cracking. I know some people aren’t going to understand what a few more days of not writing is going to do, but believe me, I am itching to write and after months earlier this year of not writing, I need to take advantage of all the writing inspiration and desire I can get. I won’t be unsociable, but I will be escaping to write.

I’ve put my snacks together for the trip:

Starbuck’s Double Shot

Chile Spiced Mango

Water

Peanuts and Coke

M&M’s

Pistachios

South Beach Diet S’mores Granola Bars

Gum

Craisins (Blueberry)

Cheese Sticks and Turkey Pepperoni

Sugar Snap Peas

That’s probably the end of my snack list, though I might find a few other things. I won’t eat it all on the way up. I do like to have snacks in the room and of course on the way back home. These are mostly healthy, some salty, some sweet. Should be a pretty decent variety.

I asked this on Twitter and Facebook, but if you didn’t see it… What are your favorite road trip snacks?

Oh, and I’ll be having a few giveaways soon, likely in July to celebrate my self published release.

I think that’s all for now. Hope y’all are having a great week and will have a great weekend. If you’re in the South, do your best to stay cool. It’s scorching!

~lissa