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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

And the Winner Is...

I've read all the entries ... great job, everyone.

But I've narrowed it down to first, second, and third place. Only First Place wins, but I wanted to acknowledge second and third.

So, drum roll please:

Third Place goes to: Rona Jeanne Evartt!
Second Place goes to: Stacie Salvo!

and First Place goes to: Tina Hunt!
Congrats, Tina! Email me at PenNhnd@aol.com with your preferred email address so I can send your Amazon gift card your way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writing Contest for July 2014

I haven't done this in a while, but it's time to do it again!

Here's how the contest works:
1. Look at the painting below.
2. Write a story around the painting (no more than 150 words).
3. Share the story in the comment section below.
4. Be sure to share the contest with others on your social network. Let's make this FUN!
5. On July 14, I'll read over the entries and choose a winner. Winning story wins a gift card from Amazon.

Ready? Let's do it!

Monday, June 16, 2014

When God Jerks My Chain

Years ago--like, many, many years ago--my family and I were in the throes of very active lives. Socially. Within our church family. Within the civic community. We left not too many hours in the day or the week or even the month for just relaxing.

Keeping the kids busy, I'd  been taught, will keep them out of trouble. That much is true, but I failed to factor in that their being busy often meant my being busy.

We had friends, lots of friends. And, I have to tell you, I enjoyed my friendships. Hanging out. Cooking out. Going to the beach together. Sitting next to each other at church. Sometimes my "friend" time (as in, only my friends) meant shopping trips or sitting down with a cup of coffee and a heart filled with things to chat about. Going to see a movie.

Then, one day, mysteriously, the phone stopped ringing. Calls I made were not returned. Hurt and perplexed, I went through my days as always--going to work, taking care of my kids, loving my husband. But my friends were no where to be found.

Then, in a business setting, someone handed me a booklet titled, "How to Make Jesus Your Very Best Friend." As if God jerked my chain, I suddenly knew and understood what was happening to me. I had made godly relationship my focus instead of my relationship with God.

I determined to right the wrong and did so. I placed more of my focus on my friendship with God and less on my friendships with people. Slowly, lesson learned, friends eased back into my life.

I am a people person. I love being around them. Interacting. When we moved to Orlando, the most difficult part, for me, was in not having my friends around. Once I made new friends, I felt like I had finally arrived "home." But, once again, God had to jerk my chain.

More than once.

And, wouldn't you know it. I've made my way back to Square One. God is whispering, "Draw to a quiet place, Eva Marie. Make it more about me."

Okay, Lord. I am listening.
Making God your very best friend is done in the same way as making a best friend in human form. First, you have to make Him your friend friend. 

How do we do that? Well, in the same way as with people. Time. Talking. Listening. More time.

Slowly, He becomes more important than anything or anyone until, one day, you realize ... God is enough.

Everything else is gravy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Whew, dawg! Summertime is here and what is it good for!

I'll tell you ... a good book to read by the pool, at the beach, while the kids play outside under the large old oak ...

I know ... how about in addition to the book, a summer hot sizzlin' new contest to help celebrate the success The Road to Testament is already experiencing?

The weather is hot in Testament, North Carolina when Ashlynne arrives ... but that doesn't keep her from being cool. You'll think this contest is cool, too. Here's how it works:

1. Repost THIS BLOGPOST on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Goodreads with #EvaMarieEverson attached. (That part is important beccause we want lots of folks in on the fun. What's a party without guests?") You can say something like: Hey! Check out this Summer Sizzlin' Hot Contest #EvaMarieEverson is having!

2. Go to your favorite walk-in bookstore or online bookstore and purchase The Road to Testament. If you've already read the book, you are a third of the way there.

3. Write a review (whether you love it or hate it ... gosh I hope you don't hate it!) at Amazon,
Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million, and Christianbook.com (see below for links). You can cut and paste your review from site to site.

4. On June 21 (the first day of summer), my publicist and I will draw a winner from the reviews (but you have to have the #EvaMarieEverson at social media to show you completed #1).

What do you win, you ask?

Wait till you hear ... you will win a copy of every future novel I write, autographed and mailed to your home.

How does that sound for a summer sizzlin' good time? But you'd best hurry! You only have a few more days to "git-er-done"!

Monday, June 9, 2014

More of the "Real" Testament

As a novelist, I am often driven by reality. What I see. What I touch. What touches me.

What I hear.

To be more specific, what I overhear. Or my eyes catch in passing.

I've been driven to write out of "place" far longer than out of memory, whether mine or someone else's. I find myself somewhere and the stories that linger through the generations come to me. There are times when I "see" them clearly. Other times they come in dreams.

Mostly they are "what if" moments. "What if" moments are something novelists know well.

Such is the case of the part of the story in The Road to Testament that leads Ashlynne to her discovery of who is buried in the unmarked graves. She had to go to another graveyard--the kind you find behind an old church--to begin, however.

From the book:

Will stopped in front of the decorative tombstone of Noah Swann, who had been a Captain in the Civil War. His wife, Emily Todd Swann, lay next to him. “They died thirty years apart,” he said, “and if you note the date, it’s not the war that took him.”             
(Buried among the slaves)
Mary, Consort of Michael R. Freeman
followed by dates of birth/death
"Her children rise up and call her blessed"
            “Do we know what did?”
            “His death certificate—and yes, I’ve seen it—says pneumonia.”
            I nodded at the graves, as though giving the souls of the “dearly departed” some form of approval for having lived and died. “You said something interesting?”
            “Ah,” Will said, stepping farther toward the tree line. “Check these out.”
            Along the line, facing the trees, were small stones with carved first names such as “Sallie” and “Isaac” and “Big John.” Some had only initials. Some held the years of death, others nothing more than the first name of the departed. “Are these … the graves of slaves?”
            “They are. And they go all the way back to the Revolutionary War.” He pointed to a tall tombstone, arched along its topside. “Now check this out.”
            Then along the bottom, in script: Her children rise up and call her blessed.
            “Well, well …” I said.
            “Notice the date of her death?”
            I did. Only a month previous to her lover’s. “He must have loved her very much.”

            “In a day when such things were known but never discussed.” He remained quiet for a moment. “I think,” he then said with a light chuckle, “That Miss Emily over there lived so long out of revenge.”

End of book selection

The South is loaded with cemeteries and graveyards. I give those two separate names and places because, as someone who has researched her family tree to nearly the last branch, I can tell you many of my deceased family members are "buried by the side of Highway 46. Mile Marker 10. Forty feet into the thicket." 

I told the fabulous award-winning author Davis Bunn one afternoon that I enjoy walking through cemeteries. He laughed, his eyes dancing, and said, "Eva Marie, best not to tell too many people that." 

But the truth is, old cemeteries and graveyards hold moss-covered, time-etched tombstones with more than just names and dates. These old relics include epitaphs sharing additions to  "her children rise up and call her blessed." Through them, we often glean clues as to the legacy left behind. 

So it was with the tombstone I found at Brittain Church Cemetery in Rutherfordton, North Carolina (my Testament). One tombstone ... and my imagination was off and running!

If you'd like to read The Road to Testament and haven't yet, check out these easy ways to order from:

Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Church

I stepped into the cool of the church's sanctuary, drawn by the stonework, the over-arching woodwork, the carved oak pews, the ornamental lectern and pulpit, and the stained glass windows, shaped like arched doorways.

If icons could speak, those in this room called me to sit quietly. To kneel in prayer. To become immersed in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

And so I did, right here in St. Francis Episcopal Church in downtown Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Then, when the time came to write about Ashlynne Rothschild's first steps into the church she would visit while living in "Testament" (The Road to Testament Abingdon Press, 2013), I wrote:

The inside of the church was not what I’d expected. The stonework and arches gave the sanctuary a gothic appearance. Short pews—hard and shiny with age—formed rows of moderate length. The end of each pew had been cut high and carved like rolled scrolls. A center aisle, carpeted in red, led to a prayer altar of dark wood. Beyond it, an ornate lectern, and beyond that a floor-to-ceiling stained glass window. On both sides of the sanctuary, dimly lit by antique brass chandeliers, arched stained glass windows. Some depicted saints such as John, Peter, Paul, Francis. Others shared stories our faith is established upon—Moses and the Hebrew children crossing the Red Sea, Ruth gathering wheat, David slaying Goliath, Jesus raising a child from the dead. Jesus, Himself, ascending into heaven.   

I inhaled deeply. The scent of lit candles and polished wood rushed my senses. This was … lovely. Reverent and sacred. 


But this was only the inside of the church ... the outside of the fictitious church, her history and the cemetery beyond ... that came from another location in Rutherford County ...

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Real Road to Testament (Are there really unmarked graves?)

"How much of this book is based on truth?" is a question I get quite often, no matter the book.

In truth, we fiction writers nearly always base some part or parts of our books on truth. Sometimes that truth comes out of a person we meet or only see across the way in an airport. Sometimes life happens, strangely enough, and we think, "That would make a good plot for a book ..." We alter things somewhat, and we use what we can.

I was in Rutherfordton (part of the real Testament, NC) and I heard about these unmarked graves found out in the woods on Decker Ranch. Intrigued, I asked to see them. Sure enough, there they were--about sixty in all--sunken in some places by a foot or so, most of them marked by rough stones.

As soon as I returned to The Cottage, I got to work on how to incorporate the truth behind the graves with the fiction in The Road to Testament. And so, I got to work:

We neared where Garrison stood alongside a man I presumed to be Robert Matthews. He was tall, slender, deeply tanned, and sporting a five o’clock shadow before 10:00 in the morning. Dark hair tussled around his head as though he’d just gotten out of bed. In spite of the heat, he wore a long-sleeved white tee stained by red mud and dirt, jeans, and hiking boots. “Will,” he said. He approached us with his hand out.
Will shook his hand and released it before turning to me. “Rob, Ashlynne Rothschild. She’s from Florida, working here at the paper for a few months.”
Rob Matthews smiled, sending crinkles around almond-colored eyes. His hand shot out as naturally as if we were old friends seeing each other as we always did. Out in the woods. Surrounded by swaying trees. Overgrown shrub. And, somewhere close by—did I mention?—dead people.
I slipped my hand into his and felt the dryness, the calluses along the base of his fingers. A working man’s hands. “Nice to meet you,” I said, pulling back as quickly as I could without seeming rude. I waved away pesky creatures buzzing around my face.
Robert nodded once. His eyes sparkled and his mouth broke apart in a picture-perfect smile. “You, too.” He returned his attention to Will. “Man, you’ve got to see this,” he said, clapping his friend on the shoulder and turning him around. “I’ve been trying to get some of this thinned out back here. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it once I get it all cleared, but it needed to be done.”
Garrison and I followed behind. I flipped open my notebook, clicked my pen, and started taking notes, straining to hear as Rob continued.
“Right here,” he said, pointing to the ground, “is I noticed the first stone.”  
We stopped, gathering in a circle around a lump of granite in the ground.
“I didn’t think a whole lot of it,” Rob continued, “until I took a few more steps …” He pointed to our left. Sure enough, another stone marked the spot. “And then,” he said, drawing us along with his words, “I came up on this.”
A larger flat piece of granite rose out of the ground at the base of a thick pine. “That’s when I realized what all this was.” Rob squatted and we did too. He pointed and we followed the line of vision his finger provided.
“Oh, my goodness,” I said. “You can actually see the outlines of graves.”
“Some have sunk about four to six inches, I’m thinking. Other’s deeper than that.” He looked over at me. “Be careful where you step, now.”