Into the Great Wide Open

It must be a sign of my age, because I find myself once again posting about a great musician who has left us too soon. What can I say about Tom Petty that others aren’t saying more eloquently than I could? Nothing. But I can share one of my favorite songs of his. It’s not one of his big hits, but I love the feel of this song. He sang it with a southern accent.

If, like me, you believe in Heaven, then you know there is one awesome concert going on. Turn the amps up to 11.

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The Power of Words

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Leviticus 19:17 – 18

“The scream of the twelve-inch shrapnel is more penetrating than the hiss from a thousand Jewish newspaper vipers. Therefore let them go on with their hissing.”
― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Continue reading

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Gregg Allman

We’ve lost another great musician too young. Gregg Allman, the surviving Allman brother of the Allman Brothers Band, passed away today at age 69. He had been ill for some time, so the news was not surprising, but it was still shocking and sad.

From the 1960’s until recently, the ABB was among the elite American rock groups, mixing blues, jazz and good old Southern rock into a unique sound that grabbed you hard and wouldn’t let you go. Originally formed with his brother, the late slide guitar virtuoso Gregg, guitarist Dickie Betts and others, the Allman Brothers Band produced masterpieces like “Whipping Post,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Statesboro Blues,” “Jessica,” “Melissa,” and “Blue Sky.” Gregg Allman played a ghostly-sounding organ and growled his lead vocals, intertwining with extended guitar solos and a rock-solid rhythm section in mesmerizing jam sessions. Continue reading

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Guest Blog Post – Christine McDonnell: Keeping Motivated

Christine McDonnell

So, a year ago this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Christine McDonnell, a writer from Virginia, at my first Smoky Writers retreat. Christine is a word-production machine – I really don’t know how she does it. I was happy with 18,000 words at the 2016 retreat and 22,000 this year. Christine breezily knocked off 36,000 last year and another 31,000 this year. In six days.

She also just happens to be a lovely person who helps make Smoky Writers special. And she has generously contributed a post for this blog! Her contact information is below – give her post a read and check out her pages and her work.

Christine, the floor is yours ….

Ever had a time when you wanted to finish something – wanted it with ever fiber of your being – but needed a kick in the pants to get it done? What happens if no one else could give you that kick in the pants?

This is my endless struggle. Balancing a professional day job with a relationship AND a secondary writing career on top of that – It can be rather exhausting.

EX.HAUST.ING. Continue reading

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 3

This is Tee’s Facebook Live video from day four of Smoky Writers 2017 (my third morning walk.) We talk fire damage, writing, rain, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Cards Against Humanity.

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 2

Day two of the Facebook Live videos that Tee Morris shot while we went for our morning walk up and down the mountain during last week’s Smoky Writers retreat. This one was from Wednesday, March 1.

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Walking Through the Mountains With Tee Morris – Part 1

I spent last week at the Smoky Writers retreat near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I’ll post a recap shortly, but for now I’m going with videos. Tee Morris and I established a habit of starting each day with a walk around the area where our cabin was. The walks ranged from two to three miles each up some decent slopes (they’re called mountains for a reason.) Toward the end of each walk, Tee did a broadcast on Facebook Live. This is the first one. Warning: I look like someone who just got out of bed. Because I was.

Part two tomorrow.

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Words To Remember During a Terrible Week

RFK quote

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 7

house5I’m sitting in the terminal at the Knoxville, TN airport, waiting for a flight that doesn’t leave for another four hours. When someone offers you a free ride to the airport, you take it, regardless of how early it is. It’s Easter Sunday, and Smokey Writers 2016 is officially over. We had a group breakfast at a Gatlinburg pancake house. Many hugs were exchanged and goodbyes said. Hard to believe it will be a year before I see most of them again.

Yesterday was much like the other working days of the retreat. A day of writing, followed by readings at 6:00 pm, followed by food, drink and fun. I spent a good deal of time wrestling with plot problems, but by the time I finished for the day, I had produced 3,005 words. For the week, I produced 17,688 new words plus the changes I made to the ghost story book. That’s an average of just under 3,000 words a day, a level of productivity I’ve never achieved before. I’m very satisfied with that. Next year, I won’t be. If I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse. Continue reading

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Smokey Writers 2016 – Day 6

novelWe’re in the home stretch here at Smokey Writers. I had a terrible time getting going yesterday. I made the mistake of checking my work email for a few minutes, which set me back. I didn’t do any actual day job work; a colleague from a committee I’m part of needed a link to a court decision (he called and asked for it on Tuesday), so I re-sent him that email. However, the temptation to skim my messages proved irresistible. I did it just long enough to remind myself why I’m on vacation.

If I was home, I would have attended church services on either Holy Thursday or Good Friday or both. Since I’m ensconced in the mountains, I tried to compensate by listening to St. John’s Passion by Bach as I worked yesterday. Not quite the same, but it did remind me that Smokey Writers isn’t the only thing happening this week that’s important to me. (Of course, everyone in the house is aware of the horrible events in Brussels this week.) Continue reading

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