To Maintain & Sustain

Happy September to all! Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to autumn with its cool evenings and mild days.

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In a recent blog, think it was July, I described one of the writing tools I create when preparing to write a novel—the Character Personality Worksheet. This device aids in the development of all prominent and secondary characters in the story. In my current work-in-progress, Lies in the River, the main character’s name is Millicent Campbell (yes, I’ve remained her again).

Let me tell you a little about Millie.

You meet Millie in 1980. She is an attractive, single, thirty-year-old single woman, the oldest daughter of Maura and Angus Campbell who have five children. She grew up in Sequoyah, Georgia, a small town in the North Georgia Mountains. She has chestnut-brown hair and sultry dark brown eyes. She’s intelligent, standing 5’5” tall, and weighing 135 lbs. She has an oval face, fair skin, a petite nose, and dark brown eyebrows. She’s in love with a six-month-old puppy, a beagle named after Carly Simon.

Millie is a bit bossy, somewhat overconfident, and always knows a better way to do just about everything. She’s persistent, curious, sometimes sarcastic, and has an acute, yet annoying, ability to size people up. The best friend anyone could have, she will keep your secret. She has a hearty belly laugh and bears a kooky sense of humor. Keeping her life simple, she enjoys a beer and a baseball game with friends, a special guy or a particular beagle by her side. Most of the time, she holds her emotions in check. Favorite midnight snack – Praline Pecan Ice Cream with shortbread cookies.

This is but a small sample of info from Millicent Campbell’s worksheet. I constantly refer to the document as I work on my novel, helping me to stay true to the character. Another one of Millie’s traits is stubbornness, which fuels her reluctance to heal old wounds with her mother. The older Millie gets, the more tension seeps into the relationship.

MAINTAIN or SUSTAIN? The definitions read as follows:

Maintain:  
to keep in an existing state; to preserve from failure; to uphold and defend a position; to continue or persevere in; to carry on.

Sustain:  to give support or relief to; to supply with sustenance; to nourish; to keep up; to prolong. In life we choose to maintain and sustain every day.

I try to maintain my houseplants. Unfortunately, I do not possess a green thumb. I firmly believe they grow in spite of me. The only survivors are usually philodendrons and my beloved African violets. No matter how neglectful I am, those guys keep on keeping on. However, I am in charge of their care (when I don’t forget). I maintain them, making sure they remain in their existing state and try not to murder them. I also must sustain them by watering and fertilizing the soil and giving them plenty of sunlight. Luckily, I have a perfect floor-to-ceiling window in my great room.

As the story unfolds in Lies in The River, Millie Campbell experiences a catastrophe that has the power to leave irrecoverable damage to her family and the town of Sequoyah, the home she had left behind. While attempting to solve a developing mystery set deep in the North Georgia Mountains, Millie must also find a way to maintain and sustain her loved ones in their time of need.

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Don’t forget to sign-up for my quarterly newsletter, Jody’s Journal on my website, jodyherpin.com. The next edition comes out on November 22, 2022. Here is the link to the August edition. https://bit.ly/3jRjDJQ

Please check out my current novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, available on the following:

BookShop – https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk
Amazon – https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M
Barnes & Nobel – https://bit.ly/35BMdLW
BookBub – https://bit.ly/3I433Al
Walmart – https://bit.ly/3aMwLzm
Kobo – https://bit.ly/3IStGKl

See you in October!

Thanks for visiting,

Jody

Do Unto Others…

Hey everyone! Hope you are staying cool during these August days of summer.

Don’t know about your parents, but mine drilled The Golden Rule into my head from the time I could read. They reminded me of the biblical text whenever I acted selfishly or was jealous or you name it. Hence, I felt like the “Rule” had been ingrained into my psyche. As an adult, I try to live by that rule; unfortunately, I don’t always accomplish that goal. I’m no angel. I make mistakes. I have to fight normal negative emotions like everyone else.

Once upon a time, I was in love with a Vietnam Vet. He came into my life during a time when I was unemployed (due to company layoffs) and had just broken my foot a week before my official last day of work. I couldn’t drive and my kids helped me out when they could, but they were busy with their own lives. I felt very alone and vulnerable.

Here comes Bob to save the day! He was a sweet, magnanimous, and gentle soul, and I fell hard. Four months later, he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. We had a blast, traveling, and having the time of our lives. We scheduled the ceremony for six months down the road in April.

However, in February, Bob had a stroke. The damage to his brain left him without the three things he most loved to do—drive his snazzy black Corvette (which he had purchased before he met me), target practice at a shooting range (remember ex-Army), and enjoy his full-time job as a security guard at the CDC. The stroke also affected his short-term memory and gave him an extremely low pain threshold (if he bumped into something, or if someone touched him, he would scream in agony). We were devastated, but we intended to get married in April in spite of everything even planning a honeymoon in Costa Rica (another story for another time).

Some people advised me with well-intentioned words of comfort. Some said I should choose not to marry him. After all, he wasn’t the same. Did I really want to take care of a man who was now much older than his actual years? It might be for years and years, and I had only known him for eight months.

My mind focused on the Golden Rule – If the stroke had happened to me, would Bob still marry me, and sign up for a different future than we had planned? To this day, I think he would have done just that.

I did marry Bob. Unfortunately, the unacceptance of his fate consumed him, and his health digressed. My husband only lived for one year after the stroke. I’d like to say it was easy, but that would be a fairy tale. There were times when I almost gave up.

My point in revealing this true story is that one never knows what will happen when you treat other people as you wish to be treated. Most of the time, we never see the results. If I had left him to his own devices, to the care of a stranger or an unwilling family member, who knows what might have happened to him? During that year, I received many blessings. I met some wonderful people at the VA hospital, I saw the joy on Bob’s face when he met his baby grandson, and I started an online blog about Bob’s stroke that led me to engage with some lovely women who had dealt with much harder issues than me. I also became best friends with Bob’s sister, Gale, whom I will always love as a sister.

In life, we have little control, but we CAN choose to act or react. In my new manuscript, currently titled, Lies in the River, my protagonist (now named Millie Campbell), has to make soul-searching choices that affect others—in her job as well as her personal life. Her decisions do not always follow the Golden Rule, the takeaway proving to complicate her relationship with her family and boyfriend, in addition to the investigation into her sister’s disappearance.

JODY’S JOURNAL

Don’t forget to sign up on my website for the debut of Jody’s Journal, my quarterly newsletter debuting on August 26 – “The End of Summer edition” will contain

  • A beach book mystery review of Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark, the first in a series of Edisto Island Mysteries
  • An excerpt from my novel, Relative Consequences, and a Hot Beachy crossword puzzle, just for fun
  • A request for suggestions about my new manuscript entitled Lies in the River
  • A Labor Day recipe for a great end-of-summer salad
  • A beach-themed crossword puzzle, just for fun.
  • And more…

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My novel, Relative Consequences is doing well! I’m so excited about the review I received from the online magazine, Readers’ Favorite. Here is the link: https://bit.ly/3SXJ9xB

Relative Consequences is available on:

BookShop https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk
Amazon https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M
Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/35BMdLW
Walmart https://bit.ly/3aMwLzm
Kobo https://bit.ly/3IStGKl
Books A Million https://bit.ly/3OifwDp

Thank you for visiting and see you next month!! Jody

A Belated Nod

MY DAD, JOE

Since I missed saluting Father’s Day, I thought I’d give a shout-out to my favorite dad! Of course, it’s my very own, who passed away over thirty years ago. Although it’s been a long time, I can still see his smile and hear his laughter. Joseph Emile Herpin, “Joe” to his friends, and “Emile” to family, had the best sense of humor and kindest heart of anyone I have ever known. He was a great father, a good friend to hundreds, and someone who would, and without a moment’s hesitation, give you the shirt off his back.

In my newest novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, the protagonist, Jesse Blanchard Tate, has a father, Elijah Blanchard, who resembles my own. I couldn’t help it. That gentle man, hard-working man, and loving man somehow became a character depiction in my story. It just felt right. Although I allowed Eli Blanchard to exhibit his own personal flaws, I believe the character’s heart never wavered even at the end of the story.

Last month in my June Blog, “A Row of Ducks & Katherine Nichols,” I described a few things I do to prepare when writing a novel. Not everyone does this, but I’ve found a groove doing the work.

It was number 4 on the list – profiling each character using a Character Personality Worksheet, sparking my imagination while introducing me to who they are, their likes and dislikes, their negatives and positives, etc. This step is time-consuming, but necessary before I can really write the story. Sure, I’ve made scribbles and notes in gobs of notebooks, but before I can put them together and make sense of anything, I create my characters.

On that note, Elijah Blanchard’s Personality Worksheet ended up looking very similar to what Joe Herpin’s would have looked like. Except for one or two important items on the list. Now, unless you’ve read RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, you won’t know what those items are. If you have read the book, then you know what I mean. Therefore, I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.  J

In my August blog, I will dive into Jessy’s childhood friend, Rita May McAfee Rhodes’, and her character worksheet. In Relative Consequences, I consider her a semi-antagonist.

ARE YOU READING THIS SUMMER?

In the upcoming issue of my brand-new newsletter, Jody’s Journal, set to debut on August 26, 2022, one of the sections will include a review of a summer beach book that I am currently reading – Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark. I’ve always enjoyed mysteries in the summer whether reading on the beach or just hanging around in air conditioning. I plan on finishing this author’s entire Edisto series before September.

The author, C. Hope Clark, adores mystery, both reading and writing them. She hopes to write until her last breath and continues all three of her mystery series.

In late fall, she expects Book 9 in the Edisto Island Mysteries to be released, tentatively titled BADGE OF EDISTO. It is a crossover, meaning the protagonists of the different series meet each other; in this case, Carolina Slade comes to Edisto and assists Callie Morgan in a new investigation.

She’s been writing fulltime for 19 years, having taken an early retirement from the US Department of Agriculture where she learned to talk the talk of Carolina Slade, an agricultural investigator and star of her first series.

When she isn’t writing novels, she is coaching other writers through her FundsforWriters.com site and newsletter, the latter which goes out weekly reaching 23,000 readers. Her site has been chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 21 years, and she often appears in their podcasts and publications.

She is married to a retired federal agent, whom she met on an actual bribery investigation with USDA. Known for writing daily, she often sits on the back porch overlooking Lake Murray in central SC to edit her stories, her federal agent at her side making sure she gets the technical aspects correct, a dachshund in each lap, and maybe a bourbon in hand.

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Don’t forget to check out my book, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, on the following sites:

BookShop https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk
Amazon https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M
Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/35BMdLW

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Jody

A Row of Ducks & Katherine Nichols

Hope everyone is well and happy! It’s hot here in Georgia. How hot is it? Well, one way of putting it might be – “it’s hotter than blue blazes,” or “You could fry an on that asphalt.” Pretty stinkin’ hot!! So glad my writing keeps me in the AC!

This month, I want to continue trying to explain my crazy writing process. Here are the four beginning steps I take.

  1. I decide what the story will be about – a general picture in my brain, and then on a “working” title. I begin digging into the research, i.e., time, place, location, popular culture, and anything pertaining to the story.
  2. I construct my main characters – first the protagonist, then other characters that play major roles in the story. Since I’m a visual person, I clip out pictures of celebrities who fit the description of each character and post it on my whiteboard or bulletin board.
  3. Then, while following the same method, I create secondary characters.
  4. Next, I profile the characters using a Character Personality Worksheet for each. This gets the imagination going while introducing me to who they are, their likes and dislikes, their negatives and positives, etc. This step is time-consuming, but I need to have all my ducks in a row, so to speak, before writing the story arc and outline.

I will expand on No. 4 with an example in my next blog in July.

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Today, I am so happy to introduce my guest, published author, Katherine Nichols, who will tell us how she became a writer and a bit about her writing process. Katherine writes women’s fiction/psychological suspense. She is the author of The Sometime Sister (2021) and The Unreliables (2022). She serves on the board of The Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime Atlanta, and lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.

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Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
                                    Langston Hughes

My writing process began before I could write, and well before I knew what a process was.

When I was five years old, I visited my aunt’s house for Christmas and made a shocking discovery. While I had been studying color charts and navigating the monkey bars in kindergarten, my cousins were sitting in their first-grade class learning to crack the mystery of the written word. I came home in a snit and insisted my grandmother teach me to read immediately.

What began as a one-sided competition grew into an obsession. From graffiti and billboards to biographies to dog stories and Nancy Drew, I forgot all about my cousins and became fascinated with storytelling.

I could weave some pretty tall tales. But capturing them and wrestling them onto the pages of a book? That was pure magic, and I wanted to wave a wand of my own. I wanted to write and have people fall in love with my characters and spend time in the worlds I created. My dream was to be published.

Although it might not have been obvious to those around me, I held fast to it. I wrote for my college literary magazine and later for radio and television. As a high school teacher, I nurtured talent in others. I started a group for girls who wanted to excel. It evolved into a mentor program. As a mother, I shared my passion for reading with my own children. I never let go of my dream but it seemed farther and farther from becoming a reality.

And then, I retired. My children were living full lives filled with loving spouses and children. I was out of excuses. My husband encouraged me to go for it, so I did.

In what I think of as my third act, I wrote. I joined a critique group and wrote better. I started an all-women group and dove deeper. I created female characters who are unaware of the strength they possess and gave them the power to change their lives the way real women do, with humor and compassion.

I learned what a query letter was and how to put rejection aside and keep submitting. From the thrill of finding an agent to the disillusionment of realizing she wasn’t going to get me a spot on Oprah’s Book Club, I held fast to that damn dream.

At the tender age of sixty-nine, I signed with Black Rose Writing, an independent house out of Texas. They published my first two novels and signed me for a third to be released in December.

And I’m still writing. I even have a process. I start with the main character, a woman with hopes and dreams. Then I create obstacles to her aspirations, always including a murder or suspicious death. I have an end in mind but give my characters leeway to reach a different outcome. I have a daily or weekly word count in mind and try to write at least four out of five days a week. But I’m gentle with myself. I’m taking the time to fly with both wings and to keep dreaming.

Thank you for checking out my books, The Unreliables” at https://amzn.to/3n4VLnI“ and “The Sometime Sister” at https://amzn.to/3xyDuUA.

You can find out more about me on the following:

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Thank you, Kathy, for your being my first guest in 2022.

Don’t forget to check out my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, on https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk and https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M.

See you next month.

Jody

One Bite at a Time

Ah! May! Hello everyone! It is gorgeous here in Georgia with all the flowering plants and shrubs and it’s beginning to be quite warm. I hope the scenery and climate are beautiful where you live, too.

Zeroing In and Moving Forward

Often, I have several stories floating around in my crazy head and it takes a while to settle on just one. I bet I have over a hundred drafts stored in my computer as we speak.

Once I settle a new project, in my case a new manuscript, my personal process is not always a consistent one. I guess you could call me a “pantser” or “a seat of my pants kinda gal.” I’m a moody writer. In other words, I have to be in the mood. Once I get started, the time will fly by, and I often find myself glued to my desk for hours upon hours.

Although I am sometimes scattered, I do have a checkoff list of things I must do before I can even begin to create.

I take one bite at a time – slowly at the beginning, then charging ahead.

  1. I come up with a working title. I don’t always stick with it, but it helps me with compiling information on the computer and hard copy files (which I still use). With my newly published novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES (RC), I must have had five or six working titles before I settled on THE one. With my new manuscript, I temporarily went with Kenzie’s River, which has now changed to LIES IN THE RIVER. I think I like that one the best.
  2. Once I decide what the story will be about – a general picture in my brain – I write down options for the story arch – specifically, a beginning, a middle and an end usually in single sentences. Then I begin researching different subjects pertaining to the story. For instance, in RC, I dug into 1950’s history, Florida history, Civil Rights history, and even 2006 history. I also investigated how people dressed back then, their hairdos, popular music, etc. I make notes — too many notes — on what I research and then I put them on my computer in a somewhat unorganized-but yet organized fashion. I often go back and eventually delete them. By this time, I have chosen the final title.
  3. The next step involves creating my main characters.
  4. Secondary characters fall into place.

I will expand on Steps 3 & 4 (my favorite tasks) in my June Blog.

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Since I plan to spotlight The Writing Process in the next few months, I invited a published author and member of the Facebook Group – Authors Ignite, (https://bit.ly/3Nmi5V9), to give us her perspective on the writing process.

Kathy Stagner Nichols states that women empowering women is her passion. She wrote The Sometime Sister and The Unreliables, is on the board of Sisters In Crime Atlanta, and is Vice President of the Atlanta Writers Club. Kathy lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.

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By the way, don’t forget to check out my first published novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, released on March 12, 2022, which has received much-appreciated five-star reviews.

I am proud to say that today my novel is currently for sale at The Eagle Eye Book Shop in North Decatur, Georgia. You can check them out on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3yMtZDL, on Twitter at https://bit.ly/39Ja2TS, and on Instagram at https://bit.ly/3MPPWpL.

Here is another excerpt from my book.

“Chapter Five – Beaufort Boil”

“At the end of an oyster-shelled driveway sits a colonial-style house—the home Harrison purchased for his mother five years ago. Rita scratches an itch on her hand as she gazes through sunglasses at a rocker-crowded veranda that hugs the entire front of the refurbished white two-story clapboard structure. Four sleek ceiling fans orbit in harmony over the colorful rag rugs scattered on the wide-planked floor.

Harrison leads the way towing both pieces of carry-on luggage.

She steps from the car feeling the Low Country sun bake her exposed shoulders. A bead of perspiration trickles the length of her breastbone. Slowly climbing the stairs to the porch, Rita passes a daisy-shaped ceramic ashtray, one of several placed at the corners of the wooden railing.

Why in hell did I quit smoking?

Thank you to all who have purchased RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please consider stopping by Amazon and/or Goodreads and posting a review. Thank you again.

Available on:
Amazon (both Kindle & Mass Market Paperback) – https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M
Barnes & Noble – https://bit.ly/35BMdLW
BookShop – https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk

You can catch me on:
Facebook https://bit.ly/3vtJOfk
Instagram https://bit.ly/3qALMbS
LinkedIn https://bit.ly/3rCr5gx

See you in June and don’t forget to read!

Jody

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter – Jody’s Journal – on this website.

Finding Our Feathers

Don’t you just love this time of year? To see and smell the beauty around us. April is my favorite month. Well, of course—it’s my birthday month! Yes, the pollen seems never-ending especially down south where I live. However, somehow we southerners manage to survive because of the splendor in the trees and bushes around us.

To gaze upon this resurgence of nature every year represents the hope of our world. Powerful armies may invade weaker countries, politics may get predictably nasty, and violence continues to dictate the headlines. Even weirder, one cannot even watch an award show without witnessing the result of an actor’s anger thrust upon a comedian known for his satire and criticism. But, I digress….

Back to hope. I love Emily Dickinson. Her analogies are so pure as we see here.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Although during these times, it may be difficult to find our own feathers of hope. Sometimes I read this poem to refocus my priorities, to reel myself in on what’s important. I, for one, believe in hope. In fact, I rely on it while looking to the ones I love to gather my own feathers.

Before I began my current work in progress (a new novel entitled so far, Kenzie’s River), I decided that hope would be the theme of this manuscript. The story revolves around the Campbell family who lives in the fictitious town of Sequoyah in make-believe Clover County in the North Georgia Mountains. As I work on my character profiles, I begin to create the arch of the storyline that takes place in the 1970s and 1980s. The protagonist, Cat Campbell, a thirty-year-old woman who is a newly appointed Special Agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, is a born cynic; a quality, which I hope will make her an excellent detective. After a family crisis, Cat must find a way to give each one of her loved ones the hope they so desperately need.

In the upcoming year, I would like your assistance with the plot. I have way too many crazy ideas swirling around in my head, and your input could help me put the pieces together. In my May blog post, I will ask you questions in hopes that you will respond and become part of the journey into Kenzie’s River, which I HOPE (there’s that word again) to make a series.

NEWS!

I am introducing a quarterly newsletter entitled JODY’S JOURNAL. I plan to talk a little about the different types of writing processes and ask other authors to give their input about their own writing journeys. There will also be a few fun facts about authors you may know, and I will highlight authors who have pets in their lives. I’m a sucker for a cute face! Can’t wait to begin this new adventure.

All I need to begin is for you to sign up. You can do so by clicking on the following link (or on the button on my website) and supplying me with your email address. Jody’s Journal will begin as soon as I get twenty responses. https://bit.ly/3jRjDJQ

By the way, my first published novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, released on March 12, 2022, has received much-appreciated reviews. Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads.

Here is a small excerpt from “Chapter One – Lemons in My Wine.”

“Gently at first, I run a soapy loofah over the imprints left on my skin, miniature reminders of college days—a butterfly tattoo gracing a shoulder, a tiny peace symbol adorning the back of my hip. Scrubbing reddens the skin while I scour myself to erase the guilt. The angry words I said to Phillip the day he died fill my head. Regret takes over. If I scrub harder, everything might disappear, even the images invading my dreams. Nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing.

The sponge slips from my hand. The water cleanses me until the spray runs cold.”

Thank you to all who have purchased RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES. I’m very proud of this book and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Available on:
Amazon (both Kindle & Mass Market Paperback) – https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M
Barnes & Noble – https://bit.ly/35BMdLW
BookShop – https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk

Be sure to catch me on:
Facebook https://bit.ly/3vtJOfk
Instagram https://bit.ly/3qALMbS
LinkedIn https://bit.ly/3rCr5gx

See you soon and don’t forget to read!

Jody

“Don’t Stop Believing”

Most people have goals whether they are daily, weekly, yearly, or lifelong ones. One of my goals has always been to write a novel. Well, I wrote my first one, Weather Permitting, over ten years ago, but never published it. When I finished novel number two, Relative Consequences, I was determined to get it published, and I finally did it. I sometimes have to pinch myself that I actually accomplished this feat. However, I’ve got the scars to prove it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that writing a book is easy.

To achieve that goal, I walked or trudged the road of insecurity and frustration for many years. I know I must have changed the beginning and the ending of this novel at least fifty times. It’s always been a work-in-progress until I bit the bullet and said YES, it’s finished.

Now, I’m no spring chicken, more like a mature (I hate to say old) well-preserved hen. It took a while for me to get my act together, but I was still able to accomplish this long-term objective. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I wasted a lot of time. I shouldn’t have used life as an excuse not to do what I really wanted to do. My advice to someone who is trying to decide whether to make a stab at an ambition or goal is don’t hesitate. Don’t wait until something gets in the way or sidetracks you. Life has a way of doing that.

Like Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” You wake up one morning, look in the mirror and gasp. Who is that person? The one who obviously didn’t get enough sleep last night; the one whose eyes have shrunken into little black dots on a wrinkly face. Don’t make the mistake of wasting time that could be used toward making a dream come true.

To quote Steve Perry of Journey,

“Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’…”

So, don’t give up, keep at it! Although it’s sometimes a long road to get there, you can achieve what you want –whether you’re writing a book, starting a small business, saving for retirement, or taking a chance. I say go for it!

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This Saturday, March 12, is my BOOK LAUNCH DAY or PUB Day (in the biz). My novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, will officially be for sale and “on the shelves” as they say. I’m so thrilled! I’m having a small get-together with family and a few friends to celebrate the event and plan to shoot video and an interview to share in my next post and on social media.

Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered Relative Consequences. I appreciate your support so much. If you do get a chance to read it, please post a short review on Amazon, Bookbub, Barnes & Noble, or BookBaby BookShop. It doesn’t have to be a reiteration of the plot or summary, just a phrase or two. I really appreciate your support!

https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M

Sincerely thankful,

Jody Herpin

Food, Football, and Friendship

Hey guys! Look at this month – a month of celebration-worthy days! To name just a few:

February 1 – National Freedom Day, Chinese New Year, Beginning of Black History Month, and Work Naked Day (Oops! – I missed that one!)
February 2 – Ground Hog Day
February 4 – National Wear Red Day – to support women’s heart health
February 13 – Super Bowl
February 14 – Valentine’s Day
February 21 – Presidents’ Day

Since my sweet husband, Mike, made Valentine’s Day reservations for us at a nice restaurant, I’ll definitely pick that day as a favorite to celebrate. Another significant day this month in the most “superficial” sense is the Super Bowl. I confess I’m not a huge fan of professional sports. I always think that after all the pre-game publicity, the actual event never quite lives up to the hype.

Isn’t there an unwritten rule somewhere that says you must watch the big game with your loved one? So yes, I will watch the game and rate the new commercials. However, I’ll probably have my phone, laptop, or a good book close at hand the entire time.

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Enduring Friendships

Don’t know about you, but I still keep in touch with friends from childhood and definitely from my teen years. A few have been around during both the good and bad times of our lives. I give Facebook the credit for reuniting others. I’m lucky to have them all. Do you have any long-ago friends who have faded out of your life? I certainly do. Old friends I let slip away, didn’t keep up with their lives, maybe friends whose lifestyles turned out very different from mine leaving us with nothing to discuss but the old days. Or maybe one of us moved so far away, that it wasn’t convenient enough to keep up with communication. I confess I did that. If I had it to do over, I think I’d try harder to stay in touch. Hindsight, right?

In my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, Jessy Tate (a.k.a. Jessy Blanchard) and Rita Rhodes (a.k.a. Rita May McAfee) maintain a friendship through the years by way of correspondence. You meet both women in Part One of the book. You learn the nature of their unique friendship—how the women’s emotions and anxieties affect each other. Jessy is the needy friend, and at first glance, Rita seems to be the one who has it all together. You quickly find out how different their lives are. Jessy lives in Atlanta, and Rita in Alexandria, Virginia. Jessy is retired and Rita maintains two jobs. After all these years, the friends still communicate via letter writing, telephone, and email.

In Part Two, you find out how the women’s friendship began in 1955. Even in childhood, you can see whose personality takes on the dominant role. You also learn how one moment in time can leave a stain on childhood innocence. Like the snake-like tentacles of the banyan tree, evil had a way of twisting itself into their young lives.

In Part Three, after all these years, Jessy and Rita face the truth.

Don’t forget, you can pre-order RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES on Amazon – both Kindle eBooks and mass marketing paperback. Relative Consequences officially goes on sale on March 12, 2022.

Catch ya later,

Jody

BLAST OFF!

JANUARY 17, 2022

So, how’s the weather at your house? Ah, cold enough for you? Brrrrrrr. At my house, down here in the south, snow fell on us. We do get a bit of the white stuff every now and then. The schools close because the counties won’t let buses try and maneuver on the icy back roads. You could say that we make it an event—a holiday!!!

Speaking of holidays, I do hope yours was a healthy one. We were lucky and were not sick, but we did have a few friends and family who were under the weather, so to speak.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES will soon be released. LAUNCH DATE is MARCH 12, 2022. (Pre-Orders for Kindle Select are available NOW on AMAZON!}

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GOING BACK IN TIME TO 1955-1956

A good bit of RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES takes place in a time in history remembered as the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Events surrounding the everyday lives of the children portrayed in the story act as a backdrop for their innocent actions.

Everyone had to have a television in his or her home. One could see programs like American Bandstand, Gunsmoke, and Lassie. Not only did small town diners provide old timers and families a place to catch a hot meal, but the news of the day and neighborhood gossip attracted most of the customer base.

Children pledged allegiance to the Stars & Stripes standing in the corner of the classroom; teachers made sure every child could write in cursive across blackboards. Kids explored the backroads, deserted buildings, and empty lots of their hometowns. Adults never worried about their children’s safety and rarely locked their doors. After all, the County Sheriff and maybe even a Deputy Sheriff took care of the town. Surely, local officials proved to be trustworthy and responsible souls.

What were Jessy Blanchard (Jessy Tate) and her friends up to in 1955?

Below is a sneak peek from PART TWO of RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES.

Clark bent over to pick up a stick. “Maybe he’s dead. I’ll poke him and see.”

Recalling her mother’s cautionary words, Jessy whispered, “You better not. If he’s asleep, you’ll wake him. He might be dangerous.”

The man’s foot wiggled. The shocked children shuffled backward. The vagrant then extended his arms above his head and stretched. Gazing into the sun, he lifted the brim of his hat and opened one eye then the other. “Uh, can I help you kids?”

Rita May inched closer. “Just checking to see if you were breathing. You looked deader than a mackerel.”

The hobo chuckled. “No, missy, I ain’t dead. I’s hongry and wore out is all.”

Jessy took a step forward. “My daddy owns the diner over there. I’m sure he’ll give you something to eat, if we ask him.”

Next time we get together, we’ll talk a little bit about the relationship between Jessy Tate and her friend, Rita Rhodes.

See ya’ next time, Jody

What a Character!

Hi there! How’s your Autumn going? Mine is great and busy–a lot of sitting in front of my laptop.

Right now, during this month of Gratitude, I’m so thankful for my family’s health in this time of strange viruses. I hope and pray your family is healthy. I’m also thankful for the new piano students my husband, Mike, has acquired since we moved. Although, I have asked for a set of noise-eliminating headphones for Christmas. 😊

I’m excited to let you know that I can reveal the cover to my upcoming published book – Relative Consequences. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Here is a peak at the cover.

The Subgenre of RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES is Mystery & Detective/Historical and the book listing will span several categories, i.e., contemporary women’s fiction, historical mystery fiction, southern mystery fiction, I am looking forward to a launch date and anticipating the ability to pre-order the book soon – first in eBook form then in Mass Market Paperback.

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What do you think of when you hear someone described as a character? I have relatives that I consider real characters and I love them dearly. My grandmother Susie, rest her soul, was a unique woman. A tiny, little thing, she could outwork any man she arund her. During WWII, she held two jobs – one where she played the organ (like a church organ) in a restaurant lounge until late at night. She could play any tune you could name. Funny what you remember. She had a fondness for ceramic birds and she had an outhouse in her backyard. She was definitely a character, but a gentile southern lady.

My Aunt Dolores (my father’s sister) was also considered a character. With striking red hair, a fair complexion and freckled from head to toe, she stood about 5 ft. tall. Dolores never married and was a steadfast Catholic. I remember her laughter. She had one of those throaty laughs, unique and boisterous, which deepened as she continued to laugh. More often than not, she would laugh so hard she’d get choked up. Eventually, Daddy would have to slap her on the back in order for her to catch a breath. Of course, the several toddies she’d downed beforehand might have contributed to each extra-long fit of laughter. My father and his beloved sister would tell family stories when they got together. As a child, I loved hearing them speak of the good old days. Aunt Dolores would take the lead and the floor, always illustrating her point with broad hand gestures, and a pantomime or two, often with a hint of naughtiness. My Aunt Dolores was one fun lady!

Here a few of the definitions of the word character used as a noun and described in the Collins Dictionary (American English version):

  1. A distinct trait quality or attribute, characteristic
  2. Essential quality, nature, kind, or sort
  3. The pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group; moral constitution
  4. Moral strength, self-discipline, or fortitude
  5. Reputation or Good reputation
  6. Informal definition – such as an odd, eccentric, or noteworthy person
  7. The role portrayed in a play, book, or movie.

Let me introduce you to my protagonist or main character, Jessy Blanchard Tate in Relative Consequences. She’s definitely a character in every sense of the word. You first meet her in 2004, a retired schoolteacher living in North Atlanta with her husband Phillip. Attractive and looking young for her age, she stands about 5 ft. 1 in. tall with dark brown straight shoulder-length hair (almost black, courtesy of her hairdresser). As I wrote about her, I pictured her to be a shorter version of the actor, Anne Archer. (FYI. She played in her most recent movie in 2017 – Trafficked. I always liked her as Jack Ryan’s wife, Cathy in Clear and Present Danger (1994).

Being somewhat of a perfectionist, Jessy Tate always dresses well, never leaves the house without makeup, and prides herself in the appearance of her home. She loves to ride her horse, Nutmeg, and has a passion for creating jewelry out of seashells. Jessy has a few good friends but at the time you meet her, she maintains a social life that revolves around her husband and his colleagues, their church and neighborhood. She has a daughter, Gretchen and a granddaughter, Mimi.

Relative Consequences begins on October 24, 2004, the day Jessy buries her husband, Phillip. As the first chapter unfolds, you witness her emotional struggle at the reception. With the help of lots of wine and a satirical sense of humor, she seems to take everything in stride. Inside, she’s spinning, her coping skills eventually letting her down. She allows conflicting feelings of grief and guilt to consume her. Jessy, as a character, is a mess.

I know I created Jessy, but I have to admit…I like her. She’s a good person, extremely personable, a bit outspoken, but kind. Like a lot of folks we all know, she keeps a secret side. She’s definitely flawed and lets her emotions get the better of her.

Jessy loves her husband; although during the story, there are times you might think otherwise. Every now and then, her ambivalence illustrates hint at problems within their long-term marriage. However, when Phillip dies, Jessy is heartbroken and must deal with her problems all alone. Anxiety and old nightmares resurface causing her to search for truth among her memories. Once she decides to dig into the past to find answers to the questions that haunt her, the quest becomes an obsession.

See you next time when we will venture back into the 1956, when little towns kept big secrets. By that time, I hope to have a timeline for the book launch!

Thanks for stopping by…

Jody

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