Welcome Y'all

I am so happy you are here! Now sit and visit with me for a while, visit all my pages and feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you! It's all just a SOUTHERN THING.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014


     Down south, it just goes without saying that food is love. Food is at the core of everything we do no matter what the occasion-- whether funeral or wedding-- the best, most mouth-watering food in the world, (in my humble opinion) is a staple of life here. It is simply part of the age old tapestry of the Deep South; good cooking handed down from one generation to the next.

But in my family something happened along the way--it skipped a generation. My poor, poor mother.

Our tapestry of good cooking kinda fell apart when it reached her tiny hands--and passed virtually nothing--well, nothing really delicious-- on to me. And certainly NONE of my mother's "recipes" were created by ANYONE in my family. They were her very own authentic "inventions."

Mother had about three staple meals. She could make a mean Frito Pie--basically chili with shredded cheese and Fritos thrown on top--if we were lucky she remembered to throw it in the oven and melt the cheese. Her other big hit was Tuna Casserole. This can be made in about 10 seconds flat. Steam some rice, mix in a can of cream of mushroom soup, then throw in a can of tuna and smash up some plain ol potato chips and stir the mush. If we were having company, she'd throw extra chips on top and stick it in the oven for a few minutes. I can't even remember what the third specialty was, but I'm certain it included some sort of snack chip. She must have developed our menus from the Frito Lay cookbook.
My Grandma Albright and Nanny Bruce 

Both of my spectacular grandmothers were amazing cooks. My country grandma, Grandma Albright, was unreal. Her Sunday suppers were a thing of legend. Everything you could imagine a southern feast to be-- Fried chicken, ham, (yes, both) fried potatoes with onions, green beans, cornbread, creamed corn. All of it had a layer of fat on top as the Crisco she used would rise to the top when the dish cooled. She would spend the whole day on Saturday cooking for us to drop by and eat on Sundays after church. It was a way of life that I cherished.

My Nanny, ( inspiration for Meridee in my SASSY BELLE series and my mother's mother) cooked breakfasts that would make you salivate the second you opened your eyes, and those savory scrumptious aromas from her kitchen drifted up the hall and tickled your nose. She loved making a huge breakfast for all of us when we all spent the night, which was often. She loved a house full of people and she would INSIST we all sit and have the feast together-- bacon and cheesy eggs, grits, toast, hash browns, biscuits and butter...and her suppers were just as wonderful, filled with lots of gravy-covered succulent delights. Thank heavens I have both of their recipe books and to this day, I talk to them in my heart when I make those delectable concoctions. Of course, my food never quite tastes as delicious as theirs did.

Somehow, my sweet mother missed the cooking memo. She was out chasing and saving wildlife. The only pies she loved to make were the mud kind.

I can vividly remember Nanny saying, "Now Beth, get in here and let me show you how to cook--your mama never learned a damn thing that had to do with a stove." No, my mother was different.  Unless you count how she kept a rescued baby opossum warm in the gas stove in a shoe box when it lost it's mother. The stove was off but warm with the pilot light so the rodent lived and was released back into the wild by my mother.

Me and my precious mother
 Mother was doing what she did best, nurture--in her own way.

Later my mother developed a love and enormous talent for sewing--(more on that in a later blog.)

In my mother's defense, she was a young widow with two babies and she always had to work several jobs but truth be told, even after she married my step-dad when I was sixteen and she had plenty of time, the trend was already set, mother just had no interest in cooking-- not if it took more than 10 minutes and a microwave--no make that five minutes. How in the world was a southern SASSY BELLE in the making to be great in the kitchen with a mother who thought it was a big night if we were in the KFC drive-through? This was my mother's favorite meal...seriously, she and the colonel were having an affair--most of my childhood. This totally explains the gorgeous figure I have always possessed....ahem.

After I got married, I inherited those precious hand-me down recipes from my dear grandmothers. Soon after my wedding,  my Aunt Patsy gave me a book that is now so totally messy, sauce stained and dog-eared--it has been used--and loved to death--Cotton Country Cooking-- and with that began my own real adventures in the kitchen. I began to teach myself-- but I have to be honest and admit--a cookbook alone does not make a great cook--and may I say, unfortunately the apple doesn't fall far from the tree--my mother's non-cooking gene is in me somewhere and I wrestle with it daily...burning things, mostly me,  and skipping key steps in a recipe trying to "hurry things along".

My most cherished cookbook

Today things are better--I taught myself--studied that book my aunt gave me and vowed my whole life I would learn to feed my family something other than Fritos or potato chips over canned whatever. I am pretty good these days though I still have bandages on my fingers occasionally.

Thank heavens I still have my mother, though we are so far apart with me in San Francisco and her in Alabama. "That's what the phone is for," she says. And we often talk several times a day, every single day--ironically reading recipes to each other. One can dream. :) 'Cause we sure as hell can't cook!

These days when I am needing my mother's hugs--which is every single day--I have been known to grab the can of tuna and throw those potato chips over some rice and cream of mushroom soup and feel my mother's arms around me. I smile and feel safe. Food is love. And my mother was loving us the best she could. The faster supper was ready, the quicker she could get my pageant dresses sewn, or the laundry done or our prayers said with us, every single night.

Come to think of it--Tuna Casserole is one of my very favorite meals!

Monday, June 16, 2014

There Really is MAGIC IN DIXIE

 WELCOME BACK!  I am so excited you're here!! It has been a while, I know. Writing 6 books in 18 months has been--well--let's just put it this way, I've been a tad busy! :)



                  I am so excited to introduce my new IN DIXIE series! It is filled with love, laughter and the special bonds women share. And as always, the entire series is VERY SOUTHERN, and full of southern humor!  The first book in the series, MAGIC IN DIXIE is out NOW!
The IN DIXIE series is about each of these new Belles discovering themselves, their passions, their hearts and souls. And then making the difficult decision to embrace that—or not. Of course, part of that journey will always be finding true love and learning just who your southern sisters are when things get tough. And my novels will NEVER be without laughter and hilarious situations. It’s the southern way—laughter in the face of adversity
             These books are so near and dear to my heart! All of these women have a story to tell. They are funny and sexy, sophisticated but very genuinely southern!

             Look for CHRISTMAS IN DIXIE, coming in December, Followed by DAYDREAMS IN DIXIE, and STARDUST IN DIXIE, in 2015!

I had a little epiphany the other day when a reader wrote to me and asked me why I started writing. It got me thinking. I reached back into the dusty cobweb-filled corners of my mind-- and found my heart. My heart has always been at the center of my writing—and I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. So, “my heart needed to speak”, was the answer to that question—I write to satisfy my heart. To express my heart. To share my heart.
        My heart resides way down in the Deep South, where the most hilarious, most passionate, most resilient women I have even known live. Tuscaloosa, Alabama is home for me, although I have lived quite literally all over this country and now live in San Francisco, CA. Still, the college town of Tuscaloosa, with our famous championship football team, The Crimson Tide, The Black Warrior River that runs through town, and the tremendous mouth-watering food all beg me to come home and nestle myself on the banks of the river under the brilliant turquoise and creamsicle sunsets. Moss hanging in lacy shawls across tree-tunneled streets call my name. 

        But mostly it’s the funny women-- the women who supported my mom and had her back constantly helping her raise my brother and me after my Daddy died in a car accident. My mother was a young widow at Twenty-five with two babies. I was only four years old and my brother was two.  Over my whole life, during tragedy or triumph, we broke out the Krispy Kremes and sat around my grandmother’s yellow 1950s styled kitchen table laughing until we couldn’t. I learned a lot about life from those women and it’s them I love to write about.
          My mother was the craziest of them all, carrying a Mary Poppins sized bag for a purse and pulling anything we ever needed out of it—from batteries, to a plate, it was magically in that “purse.” Sometimes I just stood, staring at my mother—my mouth wouldn’t close. My aunt would whisper in my ear, “Beth, your mother is crazy, never ever forget that.”  Then we would all somehow be glad Mother had that extension cord buried in that purse! Yep. She does to this day. All of them were a tad different. Fun is the way I remember it all. And Happy. Happy in the face of real life that was sometimes tragic.
These women are what I know. They are my passion. That’s why comedy is such a huge part of my stories. In my life, we couldn’t have made it without all the laughter. Through them, I learned what it really means to be a Southern Woman. I wanted to be just like them!
Writing was the way I could be home--home in Tuscaloosa with my circle of hilarious, strong, resilient women. And of course all that delicious food, along with a string of pearls, a little Aquanet, some lipstick and high heels,-- cause, honey, even in a crisis, a southern woman has to look good after all! It’s in our raising—part of the tradition that has been carried down from mother to daughter for hundreds of years.
Passion is what a writer, any artist, taps to hit that geyser of truth--the flow. I know mine lies in the Deep South, in Tuscaloosa, with all that hilarity and sweet sisterhood that calls me home, at least in my heart, every day. This is the real MAGIC IN DIXE
 But, the MAGIC IN DIXIE also lies in the place itself. The romance of the seasons, the symphony of a summer night, the damp warm summer evenings, the sound of crickets, the magic of fire-flies, or "lightening bugs" as we call them down south; these are things I love about the place I call home. Summer days are a different story: most days, the heat kisses your face like opening a dishwasher mid-cycle! I love the bright neon yellow and orange leaves of fall, the crisp cool air and the cornflower blue skies. In winter, I love waking up to the excitement of the first fresh snowfall (usually just a dusting), but on that day we all become children filled with excitement; rosy cheeks stinging in the frigid air. And I love the incredible burst of the most fragrant spring you’ll find anywhere on Earth. Azaleas abound in hot reds and pinks, color bathes your eyes at every turn and magnolias fill the air with perfume. You know you’re alive in the Deep South. It breathes long slow deep breaths. You feel it. And it’s full of the romance of just being alive. 

I love the people of the Deep South, where family comes first-- where that sense of community is unique and rich and holds that tapestry of our people woven tightly together like a well-worn heirloom quilt. It’s a place where people still love to sit on their front porch and shout “hey” while they wave to everyone who walks by-- Where you will be invited inside for some sweet iced tea and some good story-telling at your neighbor’s kitchen table any day of the week. And there’s always the food, from my favorite delicacy of fried green tomatoes to cornbread and BBQ to cobblers—it’s the very best food anywhere.
The women of the Deep South (and I am one) love their make-up, pearls and pageants, but underneath all that hair and make-up is a wonder-woman, the glue holding her family and friends together. They are the strongest people I have ever known. Always feminine and polite but make no mistake, we are steel magnolias. There’s nothing we can’t or won’t do for those we love. And we’ll look like beauty queens while doing it! We can hug your neck, wring your neck and bless your heart all in the same day!
And then there’s college football, the religion of the Deep South. Our gods are our football players in Alabama. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide has more national championships than any other school in the nation. And weekend church is the tailgating that fills the University of Alabama quad every Saturday in the fall. We burst at the seams with Crimson Pride. The mantra “Roll Tide” in Alabama is like “Aloha” in Hawaii—it means hello, goodbye, and God bless you all at the same time.
            I am so filled with pride to call Alabama and the Deep South my home! With Alabama Love Stories, in the IN DIXIE series, you’ll get strong, smart, funny, sexy southern women who stick together like warm peach cobbler, love their men, and never give up on anything—or anyone they love.
            I love writing about the Deep South. My passion to write was born there and to this day, I still always find there’s MAGIC IN DIXIE.