Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Next Big Thing - Witches Are On Their Way to Moonlight Ridge

I was invited by Teresa Thorne, author of the highly acclaimed novel, Noah's Wife, and Last Chance for Justice, to participate in a book blog chain. The idea of The Next Big Thing is that I discuss my WIPs, works-in-progress, then invite other bloggers to do the same.

My first book, Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge, introduced a pair of surprising, unforgettable characters, Lily Claire Nash and her famous cousin, Willie T. Nock. The story tells how Willie T. became a famous hero in their hometown of Eden, Alabama and Moonlight Ridge, the wooded mountain home where these eight-year-old mystery solvers live.

Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge is Southern literary fiction with a touch of the supernatural, mystery, music, and humor. The story is set in a small 1950s Alabama town and surrounding woodlands, published by Chalet Publishers LLC in 2010. Recently Chalet LLC went out of business. A few copies are still available on Amazon and B&N. My book will be reissued in a special collectors edition as Book One of The Moonlight Ridge Series, followed by Book Two, The Witches of Moonlight Ridge. I can't wait!
Set in 1950s Alabama summer, this is the tale of  two young intrepid explorers who come to the rescue when an important member of their community is apparently kidnapped. Lily Claire and Willie T. use their wits, courage, and knowledge of the mountain to restore peace when tragedy threatens to destroy the harmony of their idylic community.

Here's what authors Cassandra King and T.K. (Teresa) Thorne said about Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge:

"The antics of the delightfully eccentric Greenberry family had me laughing from the first page, and by the time I'd reluctantly finished their story, I wanted to pack up and move to Eden, Alabama.  I can't wait to share this charming and original book with friends and family!"
Cassandra King, author of 'The Sunday Wife'

“If you didn’t grow up on Moonlight Ridge, you will wish you had. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would be right at home. 

I promise you laughter and the sweet music of a place and time you will not soon forget.”

T.K. Thorne, author of “Noah’s Wife”
                                                                Witches are coming!
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
1-What is your working title of your book?
The Witches of Moonlight Ridge. Lily Claire and Willie T. befriend a charismatic young teacher who comes to Eden Elementary, and the trio find themselves immersed in a haunting manifestation that will lead them into a truly mysterious adventure.

2-Where did the idea come from for the book?
As with my first book, I must thank my family, parents, grandparents, relatives, for inspiring me to write The Witches of Moonlight Ridge. My writing is a mixture of fact and fiction, and, like the first of the series, the most remarkable and unbelievable parts are the ones that are true.

 3-What genre does your book fall under?
The Moonlight Ridge Series is Southern literary fiction.

4-Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'll have to go back to my debut novel, first of the Moonlight Ridge Series, to answer this question. After watching the phenomenal Hatfields and McCoys TV series, I definitely want Kevin Costner to play Great-granddaddy W.T. Greenberry! I think for Lily Claire and Willie T. there would have to be a great talent search to find the right ones! And for this current work-in-progress, I would want to choose a young dark-haired beauty to play "the witch."

5-What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In  Book Two, autumn comes to Moonlight Ridge, and with the changing seasons comes a spooky story that brings many changes out on the mountain, tranporting the reader into the realm of the supernatural.

6-Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
After the publisher of my first book went out of business, I have been considering what direction to take for publishing the entire Moonlight Ridge Series. I'll have an announcement concerning the publisher soon. I have a new option.

7-How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still in the middle of working on this new manuscript. I have chapters, notes, scraps of paper, notebooks, and print-outs all over my house! I expect to be finished by summer 2014. That will make it about two years that I've worked on the book.

8-What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Reviewers compared Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge to Because of Winn Dixie, Tom Sawyer, and most flattering, To Kill a Mocking Bird. I originally compared the series to an adult version of The Bobbsey Twins. My work-in-progress is much more gothic, a Southern gothic  Bobbsey Twins for adults.So I don't know for sure if there are other books to compare it to! It's a totally innovative idea.

9-Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I can't say much about this question without letting "spoiler" information out. I mentioned before that my family, family stories, and the mountain environment are the true sources of my inspiration. The tale I have to tell is wrapped up in the life and legacy of the real Moonlight Ridge.

10-What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I hope everyone who read and loved Sweet Music will watch for the publication of The Witches of Moonlight Ridge. You'll find some new characters, new-old songs, bewitching poetry and spine-chilling adventures as the witching season comes to Moonlight Ridge.

If you like adventure, strange beasts, Southern songs, friendly possums, precocious children, and scary stories, then please leave a comment!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcoming Carmen Agra Deedy to Moonlight Ridge

Welcome to the SCBWI
Springmingle '13 blog tour.

I'm so happy to introduce one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming 2013 Springmingle,
Carmen Agra Deedy 

Children's book author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy was born in Havana, Cuba, came to live in the United States as a child, and grew up in Decatur, Georgia. She has won more than a dozen awards for her work, including the 2001 Christopher Award and the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award .
1. Carmen, tell us a little about yourself. What made you decide to become a writer?

It wasn’t, in the strictest sense, a decision; I’d be more apt to call it a glorious moment of self-delusion. It lasted just long enough for me to cheerfully stamp, address, and post a manuscript to a regional publisher.

Watching the envelope irretrievably disappear through the Post Office slot, I instantly succumbed to the clammy hands, dry mouth, and heart palpitations that are the plague of presumptuous young writers. What had I done? And why did I do it?

Well, I did it because I had written a little story for my daughters and they thought it might make a fun picture book (pause for eye roll). Had I known how ridiculous the odds were, it’s unlikely I’d have ever submitted my story. To this day I bless Susan Thurman, then editor at Peachtree Publishers, for championing the sweet, but painfully unpolished, manuscript that would become Agatha’s Feather Bed. 

 2. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received as a writer?

During a recent visit to an elementary school in South Carolina, a parent told me she did not care for Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. You expect (and even welcome) this kind of candid remark from children. Adults, however, are generally subtler when registering disapproval.
“Do you, um, hate cockroaches in general?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said, “Just this one.”
Oh, boy.
Then she presented me with a tattered copy of the offending book and explained, “This is my kid’s favorite book. I’ve had to read it every night for the past five months. I can’t even cheat and skip a page because she’s memorized all the words. You know I hate you, right?”
“Ah,” I said, blushing, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she said.

3. Where, and when, do you write? What are your writing rituals?

Travel and family life make it difficult for me to adhere to a strict writing regimen. I write when I can and where I can. Sometimes it’s in my studio, but often it’s in an airport terminal (when my flight has been delayed, yet again).

When I can wrangle a substantial stretch of time to write, which usually means gong away for a few days––that’s when I get real work down.
My rituals during that time?
Well, I write. Then I sleep. Then I edit. Then I snack. Then I write some more. This is followed by another nap. Then I write. Then I eat. Then I do a little research. After which I might go for a walk. More snacking, followed by more writing. Then I sleep.
Thus ends Day One.
If I’m lucky, I’ll have four or five days of this.

I love this schedule, Carmen!

4. Do you like to read adult fiction? What have you read recently that you enjoyed?

I’m going back and rereading some favorite books. I recently reread Nicholas Basbanes’ wonderful book on libraries, Patience and Fortitude (part of trilogy, and a must-read for book and library lovers). I’m now rereading Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy. The man is a storytelling genius and master of the heart-shattering phrase.

 5. What is your favorite work of fiction, adult or children's, and why?

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, simply because it’s the best book of it’s kind in the world. It’s very nearly the perfect story.

6. Do you have a favorite among the books that you have written? Tell us about it.

I can’t say I do. In any event, having a favorite book is akin to having a favorite child, isn’t it? If you had one, you could never tell.

7. What can you tell us about your story-telling performances? Can we find any of your live performances on the Web? Can you tell us a little about your favorite story?

Only that I love hearing a good story more than almost any other enjoyment I can think of. If I ever tell a good story, it’s because I want others to feel the wonder I’ve experienced repeatedly throughout my life as I’ve met, and listened to, great storytellers.

The only story of mine that I really like on the web is the 2002 National Book Festival presentation at the Library of Congress.
It’s about my favorite book (see question #5).

Well, my NEW favorite story is part of a collection of stories I’ve been telling children for several years now, titled Dill and Corky.
They are loosely based on my own blissfully feral childhood, a childhood that was shared with my best friend, Dill. The latest story, still on the assembly line, is about Dill’s Uncle Stubby, a marginally literate WWII vet who solemnly officiated at a snake funeral. You asked.

This sounds like a delightful story! I look forward to reading this one!

8. Did your parents tell you stories when you were a child?

Both my parents told us stories, but my father is a prolific storyteller with a gift for timing and an uncanny understanding of human nature.

9. What about illustrations for your book? Have you chosen any of your illustrators, or does the publisher do this? Do you have any favorite illustrations that you'd like to tell us about?

I’ve certainly asked to work with certain illustrators, but it’s ultimately in the hands of the publisher to acquiesce or deny such a request. Chocolate helps.

 10. What is the most important thing you feel you can accomplish with your writing?

I would love to one day write a story that a child found so irresistible that he or she (despite the dangers of parental discovery and possible confiscation of said contraband) read this book under the covers with a flashlight.
That would pretty much be the End All for me.

11. We are all looking forward to your Keynote Speaker address at SCBWI Springmingle. Can you tell us about your experience with SCBWI?

Thank you! And I’m looking forward to being with so many talented writers and illustrators––––one of the greatest benefits to a SCBWI membership!

Thanks so much, Carmen.
February 22-24
Atlanta, Georgia


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Page 69 Test

Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. I applied the Page 69 test to my novel, and found that it works! Browse powerfully and read page 69!

                                Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge - page 69
I woke up gradually, drifting in and out of sleep, the afternoon heat on me like a heavy wool blanket. My mouth was dry and I drowsily tried to remember the last time I’d had a drink of water.“Mama,” I mumbled, wanting to ask for a glass of water. But my lips barely moved and my voice didn’t work right because my mouth and throat were so dry.
My eyelids were heavy and hard to open, but finally I was able to focus my eyes on my mama. She was standing at the screen door with her back to me. She was talking to someone standing on the other side of the screen, and as I became fully awake I saw the uniform and heard the gravelly voice, and I recognized Clyde Tucker, the chief of police.
My mother’s hand was on the screen door, as if she intended to keep the tall, pot-bellied policeman out of her house.
“Well, Clyde, she’s been right there asleep in that chair all afternoon, right there where she is now,” Mama said.
Officer Clyde Tucker leaned a little to one side so he could get a better look at me, I guess. He looked right at me, his forehead wrinkled under the bill of his policeman’s cap.
“Don’t your sister have a little boy about that same age?” he asked, leaning a little further, his fat red face right up against the screen.
“My sister’s little boy is quarantined with the whooping cough! Clyde Tucker, don’t you come around here asking questions about our children! It sounds like you’ve got plenty to keep you busy without scaring our children to death. What in the world made you come here asking questions?”


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Music - Volume One of The Moonlight Ridge Series

What kind of music drifts across the mountain ridge above the tiny rural Alabama town of Eden, and what are the secrets hidden on the mountain paths, under the ancient trees, and under the mysterious moon of Moonlight Ridge?

Discover a family history filled with a legacy of curiosity, courage and delightful eccentricity, in a setting where the natural fauna and flora of the woods of Alabama create a wonderland for two unusual children.

Can you hear children's voices, singing and laughing as they dance beneath sweet gum, dogwood, and sycamore trees, with the gentle Alabama breeze murmuring leafy music around them?


Wouldn't you like to see what these two precocious cousins see, hear the whispery secrets, and feel the ancient magic in the deep woods and on dusty red-dirt trails, as they look for answers and follow their hearts 'out on the mountain?'

All these secrets and mysteries come to life on the pages of
Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge.

Read it and discover an enchanted world you'll not soon forget.

Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge
Ramey Channell

Available at Espresso Book Machines!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Best Sweet Potato Pie In the World

Photo by Ken Price

Sweet Potato Pie
 page 117 - Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans chopped

Heat oven to 350.

Mix mashed sweet potatoes, honey and salt.

Beat eggs. Add sugar, vanilla extract, and pecans. Add to sweet potato mixture.

Pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour. (Check after 50 minutes)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Springtime Out On the Mountain

Oak Leaf Hydrangea on Moonlight Ridge

My Blood Kin

My cousin was named after our great-grandfather, William Theophilus Greenberry, who had been dead a long, long time when my cousin and I were born, and who had been a crazy man when he was alive.

I don't know why, but it seems like our part of the country just breeds crazy people. We're from Moonlight Ridge, out on the mountain near a little town called Eden, Alabama.

Great Granddaddy W.T. Greenberry was a naturalist; he went on excursions, into the woods on Moonlight Ridge and all around Alabama, and wrote about leaves and weeds and flowers that he saw. He'd bring home specimens and try to get them to grow in his yard, and make up names for the ones he didn't know the names of. He perfectly loved a trillium! He always took a bottle of whiskey with him, and he always came home when the bottle was empty.

And Great Granddaddy W.T. Greenberry purely doted on possums!