New Column: “My favorite hiking spot: Black Balsam Knob”

Black Balsam - Pisgah National Forest, NC

Black Balsam – Pisgah National Forest, NC

Today’s column is up: the great outdoors, family, my favorite hiking spot in the whole of the world, and even a proposal story. I do hope you enjoy it!

To read my column in The Greenville News, go here.

And don’t forget to take a hike!



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Thursday Column: “‘Pretty’ overlooks daughters’ true qualities”

My girls

My girls

My Thursday column is up at The Greenville News. This one’s about raising girl children (and being a woman) in a world largely teaching them that  the way they look will change their lives. I’d originally titled it, “Oh, what a pretty little girl.”

I do hope you enjoy! To go to the column, click here.

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A Literary Tea

teaRecently my back-door neighbor in Brevard hosted a lovely tea with me as the honored guest. I got to meet members of her book club, talk about Keowee Valley, and have the most scrumptious treats. The English afternoon tea was to-die-for delicious. And the story even made it to my adopted hometown’s newspaper, The Transylvania Times!

It was a divine afternoon, and a real pleasure for me to be among such warm, welcoming, and smart ladies.

To read the brief article (which includes more details about the amazing food served), go here.

* On a side note, I adore my neighbors! Not only are they sweet and friendly and put up with my dog barking and my children squealing, they came to my rescue the other day when I fell on our concrete patio with my baby in arms. (The baby wasn’t hurt, thankfully–though I got a little dinged up. It’s not fun to fall as an adult.) They basically jumped the fence between our houses and navigated the land mine area that is our dog’s poop spot in order to make sure I was okay. Now THAT is a good neighbor!

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Newspaper Column for Thursday, May 1st … and My Baby is One!

Willoday Tiger Dodson, age 1

Willoday Tiger Dodson, age 1

Hi all,

Today’s newspaper column is up at The Greenville News: “Friendships forged by childhood spring breaks.” This one celebrates spring break on the South Carolina coast, fabulous mothers, family friends, and Solarcaine.

I hope you enjoy!

In other news, my sweet Willa is 1 year-old today! What a year it’s been–the fastest of my life. She’s a rascal, and we love her so!



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Thursday Newspaper Column: Going Back to School with a Family at Home

Happy Thursday, all!

Here’s the link to today’s newspaper column: “Back to school with a family a whole new ballgame.” It’s all about parenting, family, returning to school, and the fact that kids can sense that a mama finally has some alone time like a tiger on the prowl. And then they pounce.

Hope you enjoy!

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Hug a Tree

* This is a repost from Earth Day 2013. Just in case you missed it!

My 4 year-old, hugging a 300+ year-old tree in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

My 4 year-old, hugging a 300+ year-old tree in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~ William Shakespeare

All over the world today, people are celebrating Earth Day.

What began in 1970 as an American grassroots conservation movement led by Senator Gaylord Nelson has now become an international holiday celebrated by over a billion people (so sayeth The Writers Almanac). Several years earlier, a scientist named Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring, exposing the danger of pesticides and other regularly-used pollutants on the planet. I read Silent Spring my junior year at Clemson University, and wrote a paper on it for my one of my communications classes. My professor liked it so much, he suggested I submit it to an academic journal.

I never did–I barely knew what an academic journal was back then, let alone how wonderful it would’ve been for my future teaching career to have something published in one–but his enthusiasm and support of my writing and my positions in the paper was powerful.

I’ve always been a natural conservationist. You can’t be raised outside, freely roaming the mountains and creeks and your own neighborhood, without something like that happening. Early on I felt a wonder about nature, about plants and animals and the earth, that I’ve never shaken. I truly believe–in my physical and spiritual consciousness–that taking care of the planet, and all that means, is part of walking through this life with faith, honor, and hope. It’s so easy to do otherwise, isn’t it? Certainly, I don’t always get it right.

But I firmly believe that it’s all connected; that we’re all connected. That nature is ever-cyclical, and that heaven watches.

On this Earth Day, why don’t we all–wherever we are–take a moment to breathe. To look up at the stars or the sky. To admire the azaleas blooming fuchsia. To touch a leaf, plant a garden, buy a plant, petition for more greenways. To watch your kids, and how they interact with the Earth–how to them, a line of ants is so utterly cool. To acknowledge that we’re part of it all.

Lastly, in honor of Earth Day, some quotations from those who’ve said it much better than I:

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  ~ John Muir, 1913

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”  ~ Bill Vaughn, 1987

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  ~ Chief Seattle, 1855

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more. ~ George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”  ~ Cree Indian Proverb

“There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” ~ Gaylord Nelson

“There would be very little point in my exhausting myself and other conservationist themselves in trying to protect animals and habitats if we weren’t at the same time raising young people to be better stewards.” Dr. Jane Goodall

“I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the Earth, noticed exceptions — those who wantonly damage it and those who do not. But the Earth is wise. It has given itself into the keeping of all, and all are therefore accountable.” ~ Alice Walker

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” ~ Gaylord Nelson

For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies; For the love which from our birth, Over and around us lies; Lord of all, to Thee we raise This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour, Of the day and of the night; Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, Sun and moon, and stars of light; Lord of all, to Thee we raise This, our hymn of grateful praise.

~ Folliott S. Pierpont, 1864


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Column for Thursday, April 17th

Here’s my newspaper column for today:

“Kindergarten registration brings back childhood memories”

Hope y’all enjoy!

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Column for April 10th: “Upcountry a treasure trove of rich Cherokee history”


Map of the Colonial Carolinas

Did you know that one of the most powerful native tribes in North America once made its home in the Upstate of South Carolina? I became entranced by the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians as a child, and I made them a major part of my first novel.

Today, they’re in my newest newspaper column. Check it out here.

I do hope you enjoy it! (And if you do, I hope you’ll share.)

Happy Thursday, all!

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New Column: “Got spring fever? Head out to the woods”

JoyceKilmerMy newest newspaper column is up. Find it here.

This one’s about spring fever, hiking, family life, and Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Hope you enjoy!

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Book Talk on Sunday, Mar. 30th in Mountain Rest

Happy Friday, all!

I’m getting excited about my Book Talk on Sunday at the Mountain Lake Grill in beautiful Mountain Rest, South Carolina. I’ll be chatting with guests about Keowee Valley and its Cherokee background, which is especially fun for me since the novel is set in the area just before the Revolutionary War. The event is being sponsored by the Oconee County Public Library, the Oconee Heritage Center, and the Museum of the Cherokee in South Carolina. It’s FREE and open to the public!

Mountain Rest is in a gorgeous part of the South Carolina Upcountry, so if you’ve got a hankering to head for the hills on Sunday, I hope you’ll drop by. I hear the Mountain Lake Grill serves up good food, and signed copies of Keowee Valley will be available after the talk.

For more info about the event, go here.



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