My Journal

Inside a Dead House

I drove down ochre dirt roads, sometimes tinged with Indian red, the roads sandwiched between deep ditches, and turned off one country road onto another, again and again, intending to travel as deep in the countryside as possible. Tired of being shut in the house, tired of writing and staring at a computer screen, I [...]

Keeper of Graves

  Mrs. Miller asks me what I believe in. Just like that. No warning. Out of the blue, the slim woman with dark coffee-colored skin tosses the subject of spiritual beliefs between us, tosses it between the cemetery where she stands and the edge of the woods near me. I’ve been searching in the wooded [...]

On the Hunt for Graves

I was at Martha’s Vineyard a few weeks ago when my phone rang. Emory Tucker, my father’s first cousin, was on the other end. “Brenda! Where are you, girl? I’ve got another place to show you where you’ll find some old graves,” he said, his voice booming, softened around the edges. Emory knows I’ve been [...]

Writing Sanctuary at Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing

The ferry chugged from the mainland toward Martha’s Vineyard. Seduced by a cool breeze and sunlight refracting off the water, I stood on the deck, facing my destination, blurry and indistinct in the distance. A dozen hues of blue draped the sky. Leaning against the guardrail, memories stirred in me, resurrecting the thrill that used [...]

Island of Hydrangeas

  Twelve years ago, I persuaded my husband to plant a hydrangea in the garden. When I married him, a gardener of amazing skills with a deep appreciation for the beauty of a diverse garden, he grew plants flaunting texture, shape, and color. Yet marriage often taps into the creative juices of newlyweds who have [...]

Searching for William J. & Susan Royal Story

If you read my posts, you know I’m writing my second novel, and you know I enjoy searching for forgotten graves. It’s what I do. Last week, though my husband seldom accompanies me on my explorations, he decided to tag along since I would be searching in Turner County. He'd grown up in the area, [...]

These Dirt Roads of Georgia

In the 60s and 70s, as a young girl, I ran barefoot through the hot soil of plowed fields and along dirt roads that led to blackberries. At the end of the day, darkness settled and fireflies came out of hiding to dance and put on a show. Life was simple and beautiful and carried [...]

More than Walking

One of the best places to sit and rest and think about life is in the heart of the woods. While I was in Illinois, my sister Lynn took me up one of the many hills in Springdale Cemetery, a magnificent place encompassing 255 rolling acres. From the green slopes, crowded with headstones and weather-beaten [...]