Fans have asked dozens of questions about the ghost who took over The House on Persimmon Road with her witty and old-fashioned ways. So Jackie decided to drop in, not as a writer, but as a guest to have a chat with Lottie.
If you've already read this Southern-Style Chick Lit with just a Smidgen of Romance and a Hint of Paranormal, continue to the interview now!
Wearing an apron, the bib straight-pinned to her cotton house dress, Lottie welcomed me into the house with a pleasant expression. The grand hall seemed larger than I recalled. The old floors gleamed, the walls painted a rich cream. I asked what changes Tucker and Justine had made. Lottie opened a door on the south wall. "This was my linen room. Now it's an indoor bathroom. Can't even hang my herbs to dry in season. Used to have lavender, mint, sage, marigold and such..."
The dining room was still converted into an office. I glanced in as we passed the open door. The room was modernized with state of the art computers and all sorts of electronic gadgets. In the kitchen the old farm sink was filled with green tomatoes. A hand-turned grinder stood on the counter along with dozens of canning jars, a gallon of vinegar and a bowl of salt. Lottie poured me a huge glass of sweetened iced tea. "You can sit, but I got to keep at it. I'm canning pickle relish."
"It's quiet," I noted. "Where is everybody?"
"Justine and Agnes are at a Girl Scout camp with Judy Ann. An overnight. Tucker, Wheeler and Pip are fishing up on Dog River. Pauline is off with her high-falutin' friends on ghost tours in Savannah and Charleston. As if there is any such thing. What questions do you have? I already explained all I know about being betwixt and between."
"You may not believe it, but most of your fans want to know how to dobe a roast."
"Law! You're trickin' me. Every woman ever lifted a fork knows how to dobe a roast."
"Not in the Twenty-first Century, they don't. Or how to make pickle relish out of green tomatoes, either."
Lottie put the first batch of ground tomatoes in a huge bowl, stirred in two tablespoons of mustard seeds, sprinkled the lot with a half-cup of salt, then wiped her hands on her apron. "I best have a glass of tea myself," she said and sat across from me, her brow wrinkled in angst. "You puttin' how to dobe a roast in another book?"
"No, I'm just going to write an article about it."
"Well...back in the early days, we didn't have store bought beef or pork. We butchered those animals ourselves. Or a neighbor did and you traded for a haunch. You wash that roast good and dry it. If it was wild game like a turkey hen, wild boar, or venison, you ground up mustard seeds and rubbed it all over. I allus poked a few cloves in my wild game. Next you take a good quality lard and rub it all over the meat and let it set for an hour. Then you dobe it with flour. That means you roll the roast in it. Wheat flour is best, but a fine ground corn meal will do. Next you brown the roast all over in a good hot pan of lard. I allus baked my roasts in a clay baking brick. Henry Watson made the best brick oven dish. I don't know where mine got to. Probab'ly stolen during The WAR right along with my pigs. That's how you dobe a roast.
"Nowadays, you can use mustard right out of a jar and Justine swears by olive oil. But when I put up a fuss, she'll buy a pound of lard at the Publix. Hog lard makes the best biscuits. Anything else? I got to get my canning done."
"One more question, if you don't mind. How did you keep up with War news?"
"Why, the Mobile Register. Came up on the mail boat. Listed all our men folks kilt. That's how I found out Elmer was gone over to the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. We didn't have roads or mail delivery like today. Mail boat brought the newspaper, ice blocks in sawdust, spices and sometimes the scissors and notion man. Elmer kept our knives sharp, but he was fair mess when it came to my scissors. Captain would sound the horn when he was coming up river and folks just go down to our docks up and down the river. 'Course after the Union blowed up Fort Morgan, that was the end of any fair-sized boat slipping up river." Lottie moved back to the sink and started grinding more green tomatoes. I took the hint.
"Thank you for having me. I appreciate it." I still had a bevy of questions, but thought it best not to push my luck. "If I get any more questions from your fans and readers, would you mind if I came back?"
"I might. How nosy are those folkses?"
"They're just curious. But mostly they're eager to learn how people lived in those early days. What they wore for everyday clothes, how they shopped and what was essential for every day living. Maybe you could talk about a day in the life of Lottie Mae Roberts. Or how you and Elmer spent time in the days before the War."
"I best give it some thought and talk to Justine, too. "
"I'll email her in a few days." Lottie saw me to the front door and once I was on the porch, latched the screen.
"Don't knock over the mailbox backing out," she called.
Oh, that poor mailbox. Both Agnes and Pauline had run over the thing while learning to drive. I hope my next visit I will see the rest of the family and learn how each is doing. Today was a good start.
10) You can explore mysteries, what-ifs, and universal truths, and you can solve them in whatever way you want. You can stretch your imagination to the outer limits, and make your readers believe, even for a short while, in magic.
9) Whenever you space out and forget where you’re going, or spend two hours in the bath, you can always blame it on the people in your head who, at last, decided to reveal their deepest secrets. (Of course, if you tell this to someone who doesn’t write or read romance, they might send you on an expense-paid trip to the funny farm!)
8) You can buy books as a legitimate business expense. Better, you can read books as a legitimate part of your job.
7) You can go to work in your pajamas if you want or, at the least, sans panty hose, makeup, and an 18-Hour bra.
6) You can have torrid affairs with sexy men and not risk divorce or the fiery gates of hell.
5) You can be the woman you always wanted to be: braver, thinner, sassier, with perfect skin and thick hair. Or the woman you never wanted to be: a bitch, a murderer, the opposite sex… You can be whatever you want for a while, without any repercussions.
4) You learn to develop a balanced sense of self. You’re dancing with angels when a reader tells you you’re the best thing since the discovery of chocolate; you’re in the dregs of self-esteem when your editor tells you your latest book stinks worse than limburger cheese.
3) You can tell your mother she was wrong… It’s okay to tell stories after all.
2) Writing is the one place in your life where you can be God and control your world. If your characters let you, that is.
1) The best, absolutely number one part is knowing that what you love doing will touch someone’s life and take them away from their troubles for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I love writing for you!
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Romance - Suspense - SEALs!
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Carmen DeSousa writes about what she knows... Sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's sad, but it always ends in Happily Ever After!
A professor once told me that all first-time authors write their autobiography, even if tagged fiction. While I don’t believe that’s completely true, after all, some first-time authors write about vampires and shape shifters, I do think there’s a modicum of truth to that statement. In other words, even if an author writes a work of fiction, there are usually many elements of the story that are factual, and I’d venture to guess that, at minimum, authors probably pattern characters after people whom they know.
When my college professor suggested: “Write what you know.” — a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, but some say it is much older — I wasn’t certain if I really wanted to do that. After all, who would believe me?
Here are a few scary subjects I know about:
Child abuse, Sexual abuse, Drug abuse, Alcohol abuse, Abandonment, Rape, Suicide, Depression, Stalkers, Crime, Tragedies, Death...
But, thankfully, I also know about a lot of good subjects, too:
A new family, Hiking, Kayaking, Love at first sight, Happily ever after, Police & Detective Procedures, Belief in God, The power to overcome adversity…,
Hey, I moved out on my own at the age of seventeen, and I'm married to a retired police detective, so I've seen a lot. The problem is ... will anyone believe or want to read about "what you know?" Well, I guess that depends. If you put it into a story, add a little, as Hollywood refers to it: Based on a true story, but dramatic elements have been added for the sake of artistic expression, then, yeah, some people will believe and/or want to read because more than likely they can identify with a character and/or a situation. And while they can enjoy an escape into a fictional story, they may take something from it.
The funny thing is most of the stories throughout history are based on a couple of those "unbelievable" elements I listed above. Although they may not all be in the same story, "love at first sight," "family tragedy," and/or "an unbelievable or vicious crime" are often the basis of a work of literary fiction. Fairy tales did it. Suspense-thrillers do it. It’s a great start!
So if you don’t believe one or more of the elements of a story, does that make it "unbelievable" or a "bad" story? One of the most popular themes is "love at first sight," which often gets a bad rap by reviewers. You may not believe in "love at first sight," but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and many readers love it. In fact, even movies that aren’t tagged as "love at first site," usually have a hero and heroine thrust into an incredibly unbelievable situation, and are all of a sudden willing to die for each other. Of course, there are many classics like that, too: Romeo and Juliet, all the fairy tales, even The Godfather ... ooh, I bet you forgot about that one. Remember when Michael Corleone is walking through the picturesque countryside in Sicily and he spots the beautiful Apollonia… See, even graphic thrillers do it!
Well, as I mentioned in the above list, these are all the things I write about. Why? Because it’s what I know. So, let me share a tidbit of information with the unbelievers of the world who don't think "love at first sight" exists...
I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in my life, but I got lucky in love! After my first date with my husband, I called my grandmother and told her I'd just met the man I was going to marry. Thirteen days later, he asked me to marry him. Thirty days later, we got married, and we’ve been married for thirty-one years.
Yes, I believe in "love at first sight," yes, I write tales filled with tragedy, mystery, suspense, hope and, above all, romance, because I’m living one. I’ll leave the rest of "what I know" situations that I write about in my books up to your imagination, and let you try to figure out what's real or made up. :)
Until next time, happy reading and imagining!
If you would like to read a little more about what Carmen writes, follow the links below to download one of her bestsellers.
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