Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Okay, I'm not talking paranormal here, although clearly that is a most popular genre. I'm speaking about the writer, how it helps to pursue those subjects or characters that haunt you.

Come on, you know what I'm talking about... the ones who keep you up at night. The ones you have secret conversations with. The ones that just seem to keep on popping up no matter how hard you try to dismiss them.

For a while, all my ghosts seemed to come from Gee's Bend, Alabama. So instead of fighting it, I invited them in for sweet iced tea, asked them to take off their shoes and warm their toes in front of the fire. And then I wrote down everything they said.

So if you're struggling with which story to pursue, pay attention to those ghosts. They can be really good company. Once you get past your fear.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I am just back from Birmingham Quilters Guild QUILTFEST 2009, where visitors were greeted by this sight:

Insides we saw quilts with stars

and pinwheels

and flowers

and words...

round ones

and ones sewn into other useful shapes.

Talk about a feast for the senses... I am totally inspired! Well done, quilters!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Probably one of the biggest problems you can have as a writer is a bent toward perfectionism. That sounds wrong, doesn't it? Let me explain.

A perfectionist works and reworks the first sentence (or first chapter) over and over and over again, fiddling with this word and that... meanwhile, the rest of the novel never gets written.

A perfectionist is so invested in those worked and reworked words that he or she cannot let go of them when an editor or critiquer comes along and says, "snip snip."

A perfectionist may have a way more beautiful first chapter than I do, but, honey, I've got a whole book.

So let go of that idea of perfect words. Writing is the ultimate process. Growth is continuous. But you've got to reach a point where you say, "good enough" and let that baby fly. Otherwise you're going to be in the same spot forever. And how boring would that be??

Besides, imperfection doesn't make a thing less beautiful. Just look at the picture above... adds character, right? :)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Okay, this could be a very long post, because I have long been a fan of Richard Peck's. And I am not alone: he's a much-loved genuine classic.

Here's the reason he's awesome today: he blurbed my book!

"Ludelphia Bennett reaffirms the human spirit and defines survival in the beautifully stitched quilt of a novel."

- Richard Peck, A SEASON OF GIFTS

Now excuse me while I go buy even more copies of Peck's books.... starting with the newest, newest, available in September.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today's roundup is being held by Brian Jung at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp. Go check it out!

And here's my contribution, in honor of the South Dakota trip -- a poem from an anthology entitled COWBOY POETRY MATTERS, edited by Robert McDowell, which we picked up at a great little used bookstore on the main drag in Custer.

Cowboy poetry is not just all about riding the range. There's some really wonderful poems included here. Like this one:

Ashes, After Fire

by Andy Wilkinson

I've seen the bluestem, stirrup-deep,
Become a blackened pyre,
A wasteland, buried in the heap
Of ashes, after fire.

The old, dead grass goes up in smoke,
The wind howls in the wire,
What was, is gone, deep in the cloak
Of ashes, after fire.

Yet quick, so quick, the ranges wear
Their spanking new attire,
As tender grass grows in the care
Of ashes, after fire.

Though alchemists have lost their call
Their magics still inspire
Gold seekers in the grimy pall
Of ashes, after fire.

Beautiful, isn't it? Can't you just see that prairie covered in new growth? Love it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WHEN IN SOUTH DAKOTA (the best part)

When I was a little girl, I read and re-read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wanted to BE Laura, especially the Melissa Gilbert version as seen on tv. There was just something about that life that was so tied to the land, so rooted in family, that absolutely appealed to me.

And you know what? It still does.

Which is why visiting the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota was such a joy. Take a look:

Here we are on the porch of Ma's little cabin.

Here's the outhouse located near the barn.

Here's Eric getting cozy with a chicken.

And here's three boys just about to break a see-saw. :)

Too bad my memory card was full at this point... but my father had plenty of room on his camera and did his best to capture the little schoolhouse, the covered wagon ride, the big slough, the sod house, the boys making rope and twisting hay, and later, a couple of miles away, the graves where Pa and Ma and Carrie and Mary are buried.

If you are a Little House fan, this is a must-see. Next on my list: Laura's Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri, where she actually wrote the books!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


There's so much to do in this lovely state, but you might start by...

admiring the buffalo at Custer State Park

visiting presidents here (in Rapid City with John Adams)

and here.

You can also eat buffalo ribs

support Lakota artists and the Crazy Horse Memorial

and visit funky places like the Corn Palace, where yes, the place is decorated in actual pieces of corn!

But THE BEST PART I am saving for next post. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009


Sara Holmes is hosting Poetry Roundup at Read Write Believe this week, so go check it out! I give you this one -- one of the first in the historical women series -- that now needs some renovation. Your thoughts welcome!

How the Sacagawea River Got Its Name

Lewis and Clark chose Sacagawea
because they loved her first
for the rise and rhythm of her voice,
the way words tumbled from her lips
like whitewater over rocks,
how her body would twist and bend,
her hair rushing like snowmelt.

The only woman on the expedition,
she mothered and nursed, guided them
as if they were her cubs, at once
protective and resigned.
They wanted to give her something
more than the Pacific Ocean,
something bigger than the whale
carcass they watched her climb into,
something more permanent than the spears
she carved for them out of bone.

They were grateful for her guidance,
for her patience with words like
aster, anemone, bell.
She understood their need to name things,
never once mocked their belief in maps,
even though she was certain
a piece of paper could not contain
a river, a hill, a grove of pine.

Sacagawea, they whispered,
hands folded as if in prayer.
The river never failed to answer.

- Irene Latham

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


So on my mama's most recent visit, she brought me a treasure: a collection of letters she and my father wrote to her mother and stepfather (Mama and Ray) while our family was living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, way back in the 1970's.

It's fascinating. And not just because it's about me and those I love. It's got history (we were there when King Faisal was assassinated) and it's a great record of what it's like to be young parents with four stair-step children and one on the way. And it's like stepping into another world, the way they detail daily life in Riyadh.

And now, of course, I've got a story brewing....

Monday, June 1, 2009


So a couple of Tenners have gotten their ARCs, which is like, so super exciting!

You know what else is cool? I got my greedy little hands on this one:

What to say about it??

1. It's pink. (You noticed, didn't you.)
2. It's funny. (If you know LL, then this won't surprise you.)
3. It has IMPACT.

Yep. Read it. You'll see what I'm talking about... well done, LL!!