I am a verified kook magnet. Delightful loose cannons attach to me like cat hair on linen sofas. Why? Because I’m one of them, a kindred spirit secreting a chemical akin to pheromones that attracts the misfit species to which I joyfully belong. The beauty of this becomes the cuisine for my writing, my characters, themes and plots.
I’m a Southerner who has lived in Georgia, South Carolina, and now the mountains of Western North Carolina, and such locales are soaked in opportunities to cross paths with colorful individuals whose stories simply floor me.
I once met a man convinced a hoodlum gorilla was trying to steal his 1955 DeSoto. Said the primate was behind the wheel taunting and grinning at him and possibly armed. Not long after that, I encountered Yelling Woman who constantly called the sheriff about a band of teensy prostitutes living and fornicating under her single-wide. Not to mention the lady I met who poured out beer to kill her snails and had to call the law because the squirrels gulped the beer, got plastered, and caused mayhem in her yard. Or the man who got a DWI on horseback when he and Old Smokey galloped through the McDonald’s drive-through, ordering his horse a Happy Meal.
I am telling the truth. As a former syndicated columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and Gannett Newspapers, I’ve won dozens of national awards for such columns and feature pieces.
Funny thing is, I didn’t start out to become a professional writer. During junior high, I was the awkward buck-toothed nerd who stole away to the attic to write the worst love poems ever penned. Hundreds of them.
It was my father, a conservative who was concerned when I came out as a liberal at age seven, who told me nursing was where it was at. “For young women like you who may never get husbands.” Talk about a confidence booster.
I entered nursing school and worked summers as a Nurse Tech at a Georgia hospital, expertly changing Depends and giving hot, soapy enemas. My greatest claim to nursing fame was when I woke a man from a deep coma. He was 87 and my supervisor forced me to give him a sponge bath. A full one. All parts. No skipping areas that my 18-year-old near-virgin self wanted to avoid.
Once I began, eyes closed, bathing his “region”, he moaned and popped an erection. As I flew from the room, he cried, “Don’t gooooooooo. Stay and play with me.”
I quickly changed my major to journalism, ignoring my dad’s warning of no husband.
In summary, I’ve worked for newspapers, magazines, have done radio shows (one of which was Playboy), stand-up comedy and was a keynote speaker for some prestigious writers events. I was also a speaker for some crummy gigs I’d like to forget.
It was my boyfriend after college, a man twice my age afflicted with monolithic OCD, who gave me a copy of a book that changed my life: A Confederacy of Dunces.
That is when I knew I’d write both humorous essays (aspiring to be David Sedaris) and novels. My first book, Not Tonight Honey: Wait ‘til I’m a Size 6 sold enough that I bought a breast lift and a modest home with money left for a new roof.
My debut novel Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle was signed by a great agent. She couldn’t sell it. I went on to publish with a small press and it won the IPPY for Best Southern Fiction. When I lost my job as a columnist due to massive lay-offs, I became a makeup artist for Lancome, all while dealing with a young adult son struggling with addiction.
I tried all I could to help him and realized treatment centers in this country were lacking and not fully effective. One size fits all, our country’s model, meant recidivism raged. So when I wrote The Beautiful Misfits, I researched countless centers, interviewed those with addiction, and came up with an unconventional treatment plan offering myriad options for recovery and reentry into society.
Instead of this being a sad-sack Eeyore of a novel, I set it at the cosmetics counters where the misfits, kooks, and hilarity are as prevalent as the lipsticks and wrinkle creams.
Regal House will publish The Beautiful Misfits in 2023 and I’m so excited to be with this wonderful publishing team and fantastic authors.
I love weird clothes, my kids, St. John in the USVI, and live with my second husband (See, Daddy? I nailed two spouses) I have two grown children and three grown step-kids. I’m owned by two cats that hate each other.