A new Column below!
There’s always something exciting about a new decade, and 2020 is here. In fact, it’s here and rolling right along without any help from me at all! I have to say, the close out of 2019 and beginning of 2020 has been gray, drippy, and dismal in lower Alabama. But no tornadoes, no bitter pipe-busting freezes, so I’m not going to complain. I could just do with a little more sunshine!
The beginning of a new year means I’ve been working on my taxes and finishing up edits on The Devil’s Bones. Pub date is May 12 (my birthday—how’s that for synchronicity?). And this story is set in my home town of Lucedale, MS, a place I lived for the first twenty-four years of my life. The Lucedale I grew up in is long gone, but I was able to bring back some of my very favorite things like the soda fountain at the local drug store and the Coffeepot Café.
As a child, I could ride my bicycle down Main Street to get the mail and stop by the Lucedale Drugstore to have a fountain coke and read a comic book—and spy on the older teenagers who would meet there after school to laugh and giggle. Man, how I envied those older girls! They all had incredible hair that flipped up on the ends like Marlo Thomas. They were all cool and could dance! They sipped fountain cokes and planned their Saturday night dates and talked about what fun things they were doing. Ah, how I envied them!
The other great hang-out was the Coffeepot, where you could meet a friend for a slice of pie or a basket of French fries. Yum!
The Coffeepot was owned by Evelyn Bailey, a wonderful woman who was a good friend to my family. Evelyn and my aunt Florence were married in a double ceremony when they were young women. Evelyn married Raymond Bailey and Aunt Florence married Mal Ward. I always imagined how thrilling that must have been—two brides, two grooms, the whole wedding thing. Of course they were married long before I was born.
I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew, but it was Aunt Florence who introduced me to the Hardy Boys books. I was definitely hooked on mysteries! A lifelong obsession was fed and encouraged with those Hardy Boy novels. Back then there was plenty of time to read—now I have to really work hard to find time to sit down with a good book. Being grown up is not as much fun as I used to think it was going to be!
Time to leave Memory Lane behind and focus on books! The launch of Year-Round Trouble went off with great success. I’m so proud of this anthology! And I’m so thankful for all the good friends I have in the writing world—the stories are excellent fun and there is a black cat mystery for each holiday that rolls around.
Caroline Fardig kicks off the collection with her Mardi Gras mystery—and let me just say that Trouble is indeed a “Troublemaker!” Not every town has a Mardi Gras parade, but if there is danger to be found—Trouble is going to be there! You can read each story when the holiday comes up—or read them all at once. Up to you. And I’ll bet you’ll find yourself reading them more than once just to get in the holiday mood. If you’d like to order a copy of this book, you can do that right here! Year-Round Trouble The book is available in print and digital.
Don’t forget that Bonefire of the Vanities is on special sale right now for only $2.99. The sale price will continue for the rest of this month! So be sure and grab it before the prices goes back up. Here’s a handy link for the book on all platforms!
It’s a party and you’re invited!
The annual Alabama Writers Hall of Fame honors is going to be a blast, and it is open to lovers of writing everywhere. I’m honored to be one of the inductees, along with other writers I greatly admire. The theme for this year’s party is centered around “the flapper” in honor of Zelda. Does it sound like a party yet? If you’re interested, contact Emily Burnett. And come out to celebrate Alabama’s literary successes!
From the press release:
Seven distinguished authors will be inducted into the 2020 Alabama Writers Hall of Fame at The University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center March 9, 2020.
A reception will be held in the authors’ honor at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The induction ceremony will immediately follow dinner.
Individual tickets and sponsor tables can be purchased by contacting Emily Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-348-5543.
The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame was created in 2014 by a partnership between the Alabama Center for the Book, UA Libraries and the Alabama Writers’ Forum. Dr. Donald Gilstrap, dean of UA Libraries, said the gala showcases Alabama’s literary heritage as well as its contemporary prize-winning authors.
Right after the first of the year I came down with that awful virus—you know the one that gets in your lungs and takes over! I’m on the tail end of it, but I have to say, it has been an unpleasant experience. Who knew a tiny little organism could create such havoc! Not exactly how I wanted to kick off 2020, but there it is. I’m feeling much better, so I won’t whine too much.
Edits and taxes are pretty much done. I’m recovering from the epizootic, and hopefully these gray days will yield to some pretty, dry, sun-shiny days. Until the sun comes out, I’m going to practice being a Pip. I’ll never be able to sing, but maybe, with lots of practice, I can learn the dance moves! Ha ha ha.
Here’s my inspiration for my next career! Pips unite! Midnight Train to Georgia
I am facing backlash from friends and family and I need your help. Please tell me if you support me or if I am being a selfish cheater. My husband Samuel was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago. We had the talk about how we should handle things when the disease would become progressively worse. He said he wanted me to take care of him but that he wanted me to have a life and move on. Here’s the truth. My husband is GONE. Physically he is here, but mentally/emotionally, he is a child. I became frustrated, lonely and depressed. Last year, I met a man and he is now my boyfriend and we love each other. We live together, the three of us, and we both take care of Sam. Many people in our lives don’t accept our arrangement and have blasted me for my decision. But I feel in my heart I am doing the right thing. I am lucky enough to have found a partner who wants to help be a caregiver to my husband. I love my husband and I will take care of him until death do us part. But I refuse to throw my life away. I am laughing again and I’m not lonely. Does this make me a sinner? Will I burn in hell for breaching the Commandments? If you support my decision, what do you suggest I tell people who judge me?
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Dear Three’s Company,
On the surface, I thought this might really tax old Jitty’s brain to answer this, because I had to take a minute to really think about what I believe are the important issues in a marriage. First I want to be it crystal clear, Missy, that I don’t hold with no cheatin’. Cheaters and liars are spawn of the devil. If you’re ashamed of what you’re doin’ and have to lie or cheat about it, then you know you’re doin’ wrong. But this situation has not a single thing to do with cheatin’ or lyin’ or breaking vows. What we have here is a situation filled with compassion and love!
We all negotiate the intricacies of our personal contracts every day. Whether it is friendship, or a business agreement, or the contract we sign in our hearts when we take on a pet or have a baby—we make agreements. And each agreement is valid as long as all parties are telling the truth and each party is playing by the same rules.
The situation you describe, Dear Three’s Company, is a brilliant, lovin’, carin’ way to provide for the man you married and love and also to provide for yourself, and hopefully the third party in this agreement. How lucky you are to have found a man who can share his love for you and yet also honor the love you have for a part of your life that is fading away—through no fault of yours or your husband’s.
Alzheimer’s is a cruel, cruel disease that robs a person of his identity and often leaves a stranger unable to function or care for himself. Many people would walk away from this—but you have chosen to embrace it and do the best you can. I admire you. You have chosen love and compassion. Jitty is honored that you asked for her advice on this—and here’s what you tell anyone who questions you or your decisions. Tell them, “I choose love. I choose kindness. I choose honoring the man I married and the man I have come to love. Love is never the wrong choice.”
P.S. For everyone reading this, let me guide you honey chile. Get some advice by writing me at DearJitty@yahoo.com