Memories of Spanish moss

As the title of my blog implies, I sometimes reminisce about events that happened in my past. I never know when something in today’s world will remind me of yesterday. This happened recently when my husband and I visited Hilton Head Island.

limbsOne of the most endearing qualities of the island for me were the numerous beautiful live oaks. Those trees are delights in and of themselves with their whimsical limbs that grow in a seemingly haphazard fashion.

live oaksCreating even more visual interest, however, is the Spanish moss hanging from them. I’ve seen Spanish moss in various Southern states, but to the best of my recollection, I’ve never seen the quantity of Spanish moss as there is in Hilton Head. I absolute love the atmosphere it creates.

thick moss copyI think I can trace my fondness for Spanish moss to my teenage years. I first saw this epiphytic plant during my junior year in high school when I went to Florida on a school trip. I remember thinking then that Spanish moss was a parasite. As a matter of fact, I had to research the plant for this blog to know what to call it. I learned that it is not a parasite and does not harm the tree, which is fortunate considering how thick it sometimes becomes. When walking on Hilton Head, I saw blobs of the moss where it had fallen off the trees, and I was reminded of the small piece I brought home with me from Florida when I was seventeen. I hung it on a nail in my bedroom and kept it there for years. It didn’t change, just hung there. I guess I eventually threw it away. Or perhaps my mother did. I don’t remember now. I just recall how enthralled I was by Spanish moss. I still am, obviously. :-)

Get your beach reading here

Many people heading for the beach enjoy having some light reading to take along. I suspect that’s why Amazon is running a special on romance novels for the next couple of weeks. Their Kindle Summer Romance Deal features 200 books for only $1.99 each. My book, Falling for Dallas, is included in the 200. If you’re looking for Falling for Dallas on the Kindle Summer Romance Deal page, it’s currently the 13th down from the top. (Good thing I’m not superstitious. :-) )

FallingforDallasFYI, Falling for Dallas is the second book in the Barbourville series (following A Summer Sentence), but it is also a stand-alone book. There’s no need for you to have read A Summer Sentence in order to enjoy Falling for Dallas. Following is a brief description.

Beth Ann Stanfield realizes that she’s no man’s dream girl. She’s a young widow with a son to raise, a huge medical debt to pay, and a monstrosity of a house that gobbles up all her extra cash. So when sophisticated, educated, and wealthy Dallas Vance moves in across Redbud Road, Beth Ann knows their mutual attraction is headed down a dead-end street. Can determination, stubbornness, and an abundance of love bridge the gap when two people are from such different worlds?

And while I hope you want to read Falling for Dallas, don’t forget that 199 other books are on sale right now too. Find your beach reading by clicking on the following link: Summer Reads.

And happy summer reading!

Have a Happy Fourth!

Here’s wishing everyone in the U.S. an old-fashioned, happy 4th of July. :-)

171

Speaking of old-fashioned July 4ths, when I think back to the days when I was growing up in a small Tennessee town, one of my recollections is the annual Chicken Festival. If memory serves me correctly, the Chicken Festival (which started there in 1957) was held close to the July 4 weekend every year. (Although the Festival still goes on today, the event has moved to May.)

What, you may ask, does one do at a Chicken Festival? First, let me explain that the festival came into being because the poultry industry had recently brought much-needed jobs to the area. A chicken-processing plant had come to town, which provided work for many people, and many other folks started raising chickens to be processed for the food industry. An advertisement in the county newspaper calling for support for the first festival featured the wording “Poultry—Yardstick of Our Prosperity.” In other words the “broiler industry,” as it was called, was a godsend for the area.

When I was a college student studying journalism, the editor of the county paper hired me to work during the summers when I was home on break. Once I was assigned to write a series of articles about the chicken industry in the county, and one of the growers I interviewed gave me three baby chicks, along with food for them. My long-suffering mother made no complaints when I installed those fluffy yellow chicks in a box in my bedroom, but as everyone knows, chicks don’t stay little and cute all that long. Very soon I was donating them to a cousin who already had chickens and an appropriate place to keep them.

But back to the Chicken Festival. Members of the sponsoring civic club would set up at the county fairgrounds where they would barbecue hundreds of chicken halves and sell them to the appreciative festival attendees. The fragrance of barbecue sauce would permeate the air. Entertainment was also supplied and often featured singers from around the area. One year the entertainment included the popular Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. I wish I had been there that year.

Whatever your plans are for the Fourth, I hope you have fun and stay safe!

Thanks, HOLT Medallion readers!

Sometimes success sneaks up and blindsides you when you least expect it. That happened to me recently when I received a phone call telling me two of my books had placed first in their categories in the 2014 HOLT Medallion contest. The HOLT is sponsored by the Virginia Romance Writers, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Other winners and finalists can be viewed on this link: http://www.virginiaromancewriters.com/Contests/holtwinners.html

The really exciting feature of the HOLT, for me at least, is that it is judged by readers—some 250 across the nation. I’ve entered the HOLT in the past and some of my books have been named Award of Merit winners, meaning they ranked in the top five or six. But I knew the competition was stiff, and I didn’t really expect to come in first, especially for two books in the same year.

forgotten christmas web copy 3So which of my books won? (Only books published in 2013 were eligible to be entered in the 2014 contest.) One of my Barbourville series, The Forgotten Christmas Tree, won in the short contemporary category. I am delighted to know that readers enjoyed this story of a woman down on her luck who travels to Barbourville as a last resort. With her sister’s young son in tow, she is desperate to find some way to provide him with a Christmas tree, something she forgot the year before. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about this young woman’s struggles and successes, and I’m glad to know that readers enjoyed the story too.

cupcake-web-copyMy second winning book also centers around a holiday, Valentine’s Day. My Cupcake, My Love—which placed first in the romance novella category—is set in a fictional mountain town near the Great Smoky Mountains. The heroine owns a bakery and with Valentine’s Day coming soon, she’s busy working on goodies appropriate for the holiday. Her routine is interrupted by a former classmate, a successful novelist, who has recently returned to the area with his six-year-old daughter. The two clash over cupcakes, and it’s all Cupid can do to get them together by Valentine’s Day. :-)

There’s nothing more rewarding to writers than to know that readers enjoy their work, and my most sincere congratulations go to all the winners and finalists in this year’s contest.

And special thanks go to the many readers who took their time to read and judge the entries in the 2014 HOLT Medallion. This contest would not be possible without you! Thank you so much!

Latest Barbourville book released

The excitement of releasing a new book never seems to grow old. At least that’s been my experience. And I certainly felt the same this past week when I released the sixth book in the Barbourville series.

_At-Home-in-Barbourville-web
Set in a small town in Tennessee, At Home in Barbourville (The Barbourville Series) features one of the secondary characters who first appeared in The Forgotten Christmas Tree. In that book, Steve Travis was happily selling Christmas trees on his father’s tree farm. Jump forward about three months and we find Steve sitting in an attorney’s office waiting for the reading of his great-aunt Gertie’s will. To his and everyone else’s surprise, Miss Gertie named as a major beneficiary the girl Steve once loved, the girl who, some five years earlier, had told him to “leave her the hell alone” and then moved away from town. Now, in order for Rani to claim her inheritance, she has to agree to work with Steve for the summer by creating a nursery to sell plants to the citizens of the town and county.

Steve figures he should be relieved when Rani decides to turn down the inheritance. Instead he’s angry. Here’s an excerpt:

Steve relaxed his grip on the shearing knife and stepped back to examine the Fraser fir he’d just finished shaping. Not that he really needed to be doing this work today. His dad said that shearing was best left until later in the year, but he’d needed to do something physical to work off some of his anger.

Although why he should be angry was beyond him. Okay, so Rani wasn’t interested in coming back to Barbourville, even to claim an inheritance that most people would give their eye teeth for. He should be thrilled. His dad could buy the property and keep it in the family.

But what had Aunt Gertie been thinking with that nursery business plan she’d concocted? Sure, he’d given some thought to growing vegetable plants and annuals in the greenhouse they used for growing poinsettias, but he’d never mentioned that to Aunt Gertie. He’d never mentioned it to anyone, as a matter of fact.

The sudden gust of wind sweeping between the rows of firs carried with it a scattering of snow flurries, reminding Steve that the heat of his anger couldn’t compete with the fury of Mother Nature. He turned the collar of his jacket up and headed back toward the house where he’d lived his entire life. Mom would be in the kitchen working on supper and his dad would likely be watching the early news. They’d both be wondering why he hadn’t come inside yet.

Hunching his shoulders against another wind gust, he’d barely taken two steps when his cell phone sounded. He ducked between two of the largest firs to get out of the wind while he ran his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out the phone.

Caller ID told him only the number, but the area code was one he didn’t recognize. Prepared to hang up quickly if some telemarketer had stumbled upon his number, he answered in a brusque tone. “Yes?”

A moment of silence. Then, “Steve?”

His stomach rocked. “Yes. Who is this?” He asked the question although he knew the answer. That was one voice he’d never forget.

“Adrienne. I mean, Rani. Do you have a minute?”

“Sure.” He huddled between the two trees, shielding the phone from the wind with his body. “What’s up?”

Even if you are not a follower of the Barbourville series, At Home in Barbourville is a book that can be read as a stand-alone and is especially appropriate for people who are looking for books without graphic sex or books that can be recommended for young people.

Note: The excerpt above is copyrighted by Carolynn Carey and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without permission of the author, Carolynn Carey.

It’s finally springtime—Or maybe not!

It’s hard to believe that after such a long, hard winter, spring has finally arrived. Except for when it hasn’t. :-) We’ve just experienced Dogwood Winter with lows in the 30s again. Next will be Blackberry Winter when the blackberry briars are blooming. (Unless I’m overlooking one of the winters.) Is there another cold spell in the offing? I hope not. The two I’m familiar with are plenty for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Cupid'sOffering

Here’s wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day! May you always love and be loved in return!

A gentle reminder: Both Falling for Dallas and My Cupcake, My Love are scheduled to go back to their regular price tomorrow, from 99 cents to $2.99. Be sure to get them at the sale price if you haven’t already downloaded them.

To buy Falling for Dallas, click here: Falling for Dallas

To buy My Cupcake, My Love, click here: My Cupcake, My Love