Attention Southern Writers and Journalists! Submission Call!

From Managing Editor of Twisted South Magazine:

“Twisted South is currently accepting submissions for previously unpublished short fiction, nonfiction, flash pieces/vignettes, book/album and music reviews, and historical essays. All work must exemplify an eccentric aspect of contemporary or historical Southern culture. Please limit your work to 2500 words except for flash fiction and book reviews which should be limited to 500 words. Book reviews should be on a book that showcases eccentric Southern culture or a Southern author. We like Barry Hannah, Rick Bragg, Flannery O’Connor, and Larry Brown, to name a few.

We’re looking for pieces that exemplify Southern culture whether it’s the sinister underbelly tales of obscure juke-joints to the cufflink charm of high-class aristocracy. We want pieces that speak to our readers in a voice that exemplifies the South’s hardships, triumphs, social attitudes, labors, humor and truths. If it’s eccentrically Southern, we want to read it.

Send submissions to: twistedsouthlit@gmail.com. Please include a brief bio of no more than 250 words with your submissions. Also, include the type of work you’re submitting in the subject line (short, flash, etc.). Simultaneous submissions are welcome provided you notify us as soon as the work is accepted elsewhere. Please allow 3-6 weeks for reply.”

Quick and Dirty Me

I don’t consider myself terribly clever, hipster snarky or cool. I’m not always up on the latest fads, TV shows, movies, novels or YouTube sensations because they come and go. I started playing Angry Birds…2 months ago. Words with Friends, maybe next year.

My love for fashion can be overwhelming. I am a fervent, thrifty fashionista mama. Fashion week, the shows, first row, someday. My style is my own.

I follow people on Twitter and Facebook who interest me, make me laugh or share some commonality, but mostly because they make me laugh. I’ve never met a stranger. I am a total smart ass, flirtatious to the core and love to talk.

I’ve lived through tragedy and come out the other side still smiling. My family is my whole world, my friends my life blood. My dogs are furry children.

I read novels about history, the South, or by authors long dead. I’m a classics snob, a traditionalist. I daydream…a lot, which is where my story ideas begin. I write all day long but only publish 25% of my content. I could wander an old house, castle or ancient gardens and be perfectly content.

I dream in technicolor with music, lots of music. Sometimes I change outfits several times a day to mix it up. I break out into spontaneous song and dance in my house and on runs. I have wanderlust at least once a week. I’m afraid of flying but want to travel the world.

I love bacon…even if it’s just turkey. I haven’t eaten red meat or pork for 20 years. I love the smell of coffee but drink tea. Wine, wine, wine me.

I speak before I think which makes me inclined to say really stupid things, by accident. It bothers me immensely if I feel I’ve hurt someone. I always hug it out after an argument, disagreement, just because. I’ve only knowingly lost one friendship. My Faith is what drives me.

I am a rule follower, love details to a fault. I like to be in control but not in charge. Conformity is boring.

I have my own style of writing. I love dramatic pauses. I love a good slow clap. Basic grammar is important like when to use commas, semi-colons, colons and the proper use of prepositions. I hate diagramming sentences. Math scares me.

I’m addicted to being happy and shoes. I draw my energy from people, laughing, smiling hard and the sunshine. I couldn’t live in cloudy climates.

I’ve been called a Pollyanna, silly, hyper, supportive, funny, quirky, the life of the party, a good listener, incredibly foolish and naïve.

I am an extrovert, a writer, a wife, a mother, a woman, me, me, me.

Walking Beside Me

Daddy’s girl

My father was a lover of history, so many of our family trips were taken to historic sites. Never one to follow the tour, he would “follow” within earshot so he could gobble up the information recited by the guide while wandering around with child-like wonder.  It annoyed my Mom to no end as she was often stuck with two very active and curious children. As she describes it, unlike Dad who could in his ADHD hyper-focused way listen without actually being engaged, Mom learned more by staying with the tour group and frantically writing notes. But it was these trips to far-gone places in time that opened up for me an entire world of history, imagination and the characters that filled their spaces.

Dad preaching in his first and only church for 35 years. Founded in 1639, a perfect fit for a history lover.

It’s the trips I take with my own family that make me long for the days my Dad and I eventually merged in our love for history and would wander together.  I listened to him intently.  Hanging on his every word. I attribute my love for writing and history to him.  Whether these be inherited traits or learned, I know not, but my children love history and its many stories.  Their imaginations, like mine, like my Dad’s, swimming in the what was.  So when I told the family that we were heading back to South Carolina’s lovely Lowcountry and Rice Hope Plantation for an article, everyone literally jumped for joy!  This time I was sharing the experience with my Mom as this was as much a part of her history as it was mine.  Berkeley County was the home of many of our kin and the plantations they once proudly owned, the rice they grew for profit and yes, the slaves they exploited (a fact not lost on me). But this trip was more about its zany proprietor and her stories than my own family history.  Lou Edens, a colorful Lowcountry character who weaves Aesop fable-like stories and whom my Dad would have loved to talk with over a glass of wine while wandering the grounds of the sprawling plantation.

Lou Edens, the self-described zany entrepreneur

I love a good character and so when I first met Ms. Lou in June 2011 I was hooked. She tells fantastic stories and is a well-spring of historic knowledge about the area.  Not to mention she raised peacocks, emus, ostriches, gamecocks, chickens, has an escape-artist of a donkey and his valet, a sheep, owns multiple businesses and is a proud, self-made Southern belle. This post is not long enough to include everything she said, did or made a quick quip about during our visit.  Nor is the article I am currently writing about this charming woman.  You just have to experience the “Ms. Lou Effect” for yourself. But let me give you a little taste of what you can expect.

Rice Hope’s founding

We arrived late in the evening.  There to greet us at the door was Ms. Lou with a “Hi y’all! Welcome back to Rice Hope!” The house was decorated modestly for Christmas with a small table-top tree she referred to as the “grande fur tree of the manor”.  She showed us to our rooms, which the kids remembered and ran up the stairs to without hesitation. “It’s like visiting Mimi’s house except we have to pay!” the kids exclaimed. They were eager to get to sleep so they could wake in the morning and run the grounds looking for lizards and butterflies.  We hadn’t the heart to tell them that those creatures were happily sleeping for the winter but Mother Nature had many surprises for them despite the season.

Anna swinging, the ducks in the background, those little black dots on the water

The next morning we were awakened by the smell of breakfast cooking (tomato pie) in the kitchen and children frantically dressing to get out on the grounds for exploration.  We gave Mom some extra time to get ready and wake up to the world she was about to experience. Meanwhile we took the children outside to run around and get their sillies out before breakfast. The sight that awaited us was truly one right out of the pages of National Geographic.  There are on the river were literally thousands of ducks who had come to stay for the winter.  They were all conversing with one another and when a bunch of them decided to take off at once, the sound was like that of a car engine starting.  It was amazing.  I told Ms. Lou later that I wasn’t sure what the black masses on the river were at first, to which she replied, “I thought they were weeds.  But then they started talkin’.  I didn’t know weeds could talk!” The ducks covered every inch of the ancient rice fields that lay beneath their webbed feet.  Suddenly I heard my daughter cry out, “Look! A bald eagle! No, TWO!” And sure enough, gliding above us were two bald eagles. Paul and I believed them to be Ospry but when I asked Ms. Lou about these birds she said that there were many eagles that nested in the area, especially when the ducks migrated in.  Food is abundant both in fish and the occasional isolated duck.

Freshly picked tangerine from a 200 year old tree

It was finally time for breakfast.  The kids hurried inside for they knew they would get a delicious meal and a few stories from the Grande Dame herself.  Ethan had presented Ms. Lou with a Mr. Snail story (a character who enjoys life inside Ethan’s vast imagination) when we arrived and wouldn’t you know it but she had a dream about Mr. Snail that night!

“I had a dream about a snail last night.  He saw a beautiful tangerine tree in the garden with ripe fruit hanging from it. So he went to pick one to eat it for breakfast but he found that he was too small to reach up and pick it.  Suddenly a little boy and girl came by and saw how sad he was.  They asked him if they could help him.  He said, yes, I can’t seem to be able to reach that lovely fruit. The little boy reached up into the tree and picked a tangerine for the snail.  He thanked them and peeled and ate the tangerine and was so happy.”

As she finished the story, both kids hanging on her every word, she walked out the side porch door, plucked a tangerine from the 200 year old tree in the garden and presented it to Ethan who happily ate it. “I’m keeping the seeds to plant them at home, Mom!” A history lesson woven into a fable to thank a little boy for his generous gift of a story; from one storyteller to another.

200 year old camellia (said to be the largest in SC) with peppermint striped flowers

When you wander through the house and the lush grounds covered in centuries old live oaks dripping with spanish moss, you begin to feel the presence of the many people who populated it throughout its long history.  The ghosts of the past are everywhere shading themselves under the trees, working the rice fields, hunting fowl, lounging on the porch.  My Dad would have been in absolute heaven.  We were the only guests that weekend and Ms. Lou makes it clear that the house is yours while you stay with her.

As I interviewed her, she proudly talked about the rich history of the Lowcountry, her people and the camellias that graced her garden.  One camellia is said to be the oldest bush in South Carolina at 200 years old and 10 feet high. Mom remarked that Dad would have been out here either bargaining to buy the property or plotting his next gardening move at home in Roswell. But Ms. Lou is not parting with Rice Hope.  She and my Dad were of the same mindset, history is meant to be shared. She bought the property when it came up for sale in 1996 because as she said, it looked like a good business opportunity. She had been selling furniture to the previous owners for years. “I had a booming BnB in Mt. Pleasant so I thought, why not a Town and Country theme, with the overflow from the beach property coming to Rice Hope.”  Whether or not that venture is paying off is definitely not the point. She loves this old plantation and its history.  It’s part of her now.

White camellias

But wait, one more Ms. Lou story!

“I live between two Heirs properties which were part of the old Seaside Plantation.  After the war, plantations were divided up and given to the slaves.  Each family was given 40 acres and mule.  Many of the families still live on their properties. Anyway, the family next door has built about 5 homes. They party it up all the time over there.  Music, dancing, fighting. I had 31 gamecocks at one point…until last Easter.  Every morning my chickens come to my back door for a sort of communion.  Easter morning we had our little communion and then they headed next door to watch the show. That family had all the grills out, loud music, singing they were celebrating the risen Lord all day. The next morning as I went to feed my chickens I noticed I only had three left. Those people had eaten 29 skinny gamecocks! I wasn’t upset, I was tired of buying corn.  I’m back up to 15 now.  New Year’s is coming so I am sure the neighbors will help me thin the flock.”

Dad writing up one of his sermons, stories he told to help people understand God on a human level.

This fascinating woman isn’t a Hollywood starlet. She doesn’t wear the latest fashion.  She doesn’t drive a fancy car.  But she is full of pride, history and stories that will captivate you.  You have to be willing to listen. I wander through life now much like my Dad did.  He taught me that you have to listen while you wander then share what you have learned with others through stories.  My Dad is the subject of many of my stories because I have learned so much from him.  I think he and Ms. Lou would have been great friends. As much as the trip was about her history, I quickly realized I was listening to my own and reliving my past, the ghost of my Dad walking beside me amongst the camellias.

Know When to Say When

Today started out just like any other day.  Woke up, put my eyes in, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got my running clothes on.  While I did my morning routine, I could hear the arguing billowing up from below as Paul desperately tried to get both kids upstairs for breakfast.  This is also part of the routine now…the arguing about getting dressed, how long it’s taking to get dressed, whining about getting dressed, etc.  Then begins the battle to eat breakfast before we have to leave for school.  Not sitting still, laughing about everything, not listening.  As the medicine settles in, we start to see the kids slowly calm their reved engines down and begin to listen.  By this time, nerves are fried. I have found that keeping calm during the morning routine and finding ways to quiet their minds (in combination with the medicine) has aided them in having successful days at school (especially for my son).  But sometimes, well, you just lose it!

When your kids have ADD/ADHD, mornings and evenings can be very tough.  Routine is key. We have a set morning routine but you are dealing with raw brains.  No meds, no renforcements, no therapy.  Just 10 hours of sleep and a brain that has seemingly forgotten everything you taught it the day before.  It’s a constant battle that ALL parents of children with this disorder face daily. What’s worse, every day is different.  Sometimes the disorder is almost dormant and they act as if they don’t need any medicine or intervention and then some days, like today, you wonder if ANYTHING you are doing is actually working.  The inconsistency of both ADD and ADHD is maddening at times.  Two steps forward, giant feet backwards.  There are days you want to throw your hands up and just quit. But then I look into their faces and realize, they are just as frustrated by their disorder as I am.  Imagine being trapped in a brain that is going at Ferrari speed but WANTS to go at the speed of a Ford Tempo. Hearing your child tell you, “Mommy, sometimes my brain hurts” is heartbreaking.  But still you have days like today where you forget that they too are coping with this disorder and frankly are looking to you to help them because they are children.  Today I completely lost it with my daughter.  The buttons were all pushed (have been for 3 weeks now).  She crossed the line, and I’m not even sure I drew that line.

After 30 minutes of arguing, talking back, sassing I finally lost my mind and yelled at her. Not yelling like “clean your room, young lady”.  No.  This was primal.  Very primal.  As if in self-defense.  Fight or flight.  I could feel it coming.  I could feel myself beginning to shake.  The pressure cooker that was building steam these last few weeks was finally going to explode.  As it exploded my daughter’s face turned from sassy to complete and utter fear.  She knew she had touched a nerve, pushed the wrong button.  She knew this was the time to be quiet and listen. And all the while I vomited words.  Telling her how ungrateful she was.  How completely disrespectful she was becoming.  That being 10 years old she is entering a new phase in her life where this behavior would no longer be excused but despised and not tolerated.  I knew I was hurting her.  I knew I was making her cry.  I hated myself for doing it.  I don’t want to hurt my children. But sometimes you forget you’re a parent and your primal self is unleashed. We all have the ability to become enraged.  It’s not something we like to admit about ourselves.  Thankfully this part of me doesn’t come out often but when it does, it is not only a wake up call for whoever is the unlucky recipient but for me as well.  Today I raged at my daughter and scared her into submission.  Some parents would say good, she knows who’s boss.  However, this is NOT how I want to parent.  I agree, a little fear of God is good for children.  Children need to fear disappointing their parents, fear hurting them.  My parents taught me who was boss through love, kindness, respect and a little fear.  I still to this day fear disappointing my parents because I love them so much.

After all of us had calmed down, I finally explained to her why she had made me so upset. She quietly listened through tears.  Like me, crying is not something she likes to share. I told her that I didn’t hate her, that I loved her very much and just wanted to help her be a happy, successful person.  If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have cared enough to get upset (as sick as that sounds) or explain to her now why I was so bothered by her behavior.  If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t TRY to understand that she is dealing with a disorder that sometimes clouds her judgement. If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have apologized for my behavior.  Yes, parents, when you lose it like that, you NEED to apologize.  I hope by my apologizing for the way I handled myself this morning, she will see that I do respect and love her.  I too make mistakes and am still learning, and just like that, turned this into a teaching moment for both myself and the children.

As we arrived at school, I could see that she was still upset.  We hugged it out, said our “I love yous” and I received a SINCERE apology.  Again, I reinforced to my daughter that I didn’t hate her but loved her very much and just wanted her to be happy.  “I know mom.  I know you are doing the best you can and sometimes I don’t make it easy on you.  I’m sorry.” was the response I got as she left the car.  It broke my heart but also left me with some hope that my daughter IS listening to the lessons we are teaching her as parents (as frustrating and pointless as they may seem at times).

Girls on the Run 5K

I was supposed to park the car and go for a run this morning.  But this wasn’t a “just run it out” kind of feeling.  This was a “I’m totally exhausted and want to go back to bed” feeling.  I have learned when to say when.  Today was it.  I needed to give in, say “Uncle”.  Running this morning would have done nothing but make me more exhausted.  I knew what had to be done.  I knew I just needed to take time for myself and write; something I have been neglecting due to crazy schedules and a multitude of activities.  Writing isn’t just my “job”, it’s my release.  I run and write for the same reasons, release, sanity, health, and yes, so I can eat! But today I realized something, I can’t do one without the other.   I can’t be all running and no writing or vice versa.  These two outlets balance me.  Even as I write this blog post, I am reflecting over this morning’s events and how I can do better next time along with how I can help my daughter work through whatever seems to be bothering her. I know some of this is the ADD but frankly, I think she is growing up and all of those confusing feelings that come with it are really challenging her.  My job is to help her figure that out.  Parenting is by far my most rewarding yet difficult job but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even for a quiet morning.  And so the journey begins to strike a cordial balance between running and writing and knowing when to say when.

What I Learned Today

A piece I wrote for an educational project called edu180Atlanta.  180 people will write 180 points of view in 250 words or less on learning.  This is my experience…

Biggin Church Ruins-Moncks Corner, SC

The conversation started with, “Mommy, I can’t decide what I want to be when I grow up.  I love SO many things.”

I simply replied, “You don’t have to settle on just one thing. Do whatever makes you happy.” But then I realized, am I taking my own advice?  Up until recently, yes and no.

I love being a writer but do not always love the content I am asked to produce. I had always written for corporations, and while I was doing what I loved, I wasn’t enjoying it to the fullest.  The content was very dry and full of staunch parameters.  It was time for a change. So I began to freelance again.  And although it’s been tough, I am slowly crawling my way back into this world and learning from each experience along the way, from rejection, critique, or joyful acceptance.

Life is full of risks.  Sometimes you have to dabble before you dive in. I too love many things. You don’t have to settle on one career path.  Sometimes your passions converge into a powerful force in your life.  This is what I learned today from my 10 year old daughter’s question and simple realization; do what it is you love, never settle, and this will make you truly successful. My goal: to get my Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation and share my passion for design, old buildings and history with my readers. I might stumble, but I am on my way.

http://edu180atl.org/