Easter and the Family Feast – Southern Style

2010 March 30 Glencairn ACG1Growing up Easter was a huge deal in our house. My mom would sew new dresses for my sisters and I and  a new suit for my brother. Easter baskets were set out for the Easter Bunny. We would go to church and then to Glencairn Garden  for pictures of the kids among the blooming azaleas. We would hunt eggs in the yard and be off to the grandparents.

Now, we are all grown with children and grandchildren. It’s off to Grandma’s house for dinner after church.

Going to church on Easter is a huge part of my southern heritage. It was the one day of the year everyone would show up whether they wanted to or not. You had to get there early or not have a place to park.

Food was also a huge part of Easter. There were chocolate bunnies, and those fruit and nut eggs, jelly beans, and hard boiled eggs we’d colored and decorated.1208-idea-house-outdoor-space-l

Spring in the south lasts about a minute. We go from 32 degrees to 80 in the course of a day or so in March and April. Our last freeze date is mid-April, so if Easter is late like this year, we have fresh strawberries coming in. Low Country tomatoes are getting ripe. If you are lucky, Easter Sunday won’t be too cold or too hot, but just a beautiful, low-humid day. Front porch weather.

This year is special. My son and his wife and their beautiful baby girl are coming. We’ll have glazed-ham-ck-1120262-xthree generations together for Sunday dinner. There will be blackberry-mustard glazed ham, sweet potatoes with bacon and onion, salads, veggies, macaroni and cheese, strawberry shortcake, and many other goodies.  And biscuits. Can’t forget biscuits.

Since it’s Baby Girl’s first Easter, there will be sweet little favors made by my very creative daughter-in-law and a lot of photos. Maybe even an egg hunt.

I never thought about how special these times were, until I started writing about the South. I’m beginning to realize how special it was to grow up where people talk to total strangers and always say ‘hi’. If one thing comes out of writing this series, it’s my appreciation for where I grew up.

How about you? What traditions do you celebrate in Spring? What’s the one dish you have to have to celebrate at your house?


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Cooking Up Trouble – an excerpt

I’ve been hiding deep in the writing cave only coming out to prepare my latest work in progress for a contest and take an online workshop.  I thought I’d come up for air to give you a preview of this latest novel, Cooking up Trouble.

It’s a contemporary romance set in Milton Lake, North Carolina. The painting you see in the header of this page was my inspiration. It’s an old poster of Fest of Fun in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  I thought I’d post an excerpt.

Cooking Up Trouble/Chapter 1

Alice Buchanan pounded the steering wheel of her decrepit Toyota with tightly clinched fists as she crept down the narrow winding road into the town of Milton Lake, North Carolina at the lightning speed of twenty-five miles an hour. She hate slow. Spring could last only weeks this far south, but the drivers were slower than molasses in January.

“Lady, could you at least do the speed limit?” Alice grumbled.

It wasn’t New York. After three years working in the restaurant business in the Big Apple, Alice had to come home, broke and unemployed. She f*ing hated it.

The bright morning sun only made her lack-of-caffeine induced headache worse. Without her typical skinny double-shot vanilla latte, it was all just too damned redneck. She needed coffee, real coffee, not that cheap decaf crap Aunt Mae bought.

She stared longingly at Bad Dawg Coffee as she drove slowly by, her hands itching to turn in and stop. Her friend, Stephanie worked there, but Alice fought the urge to stop. It was a five dollar cup of coffee but ate into the little bit of money Alice had for gas. God, she needed a job. She hated being broke almost as much as she hated being idle.

Alice didn’t do idle well. It forced her to reevaluate her decisions. It made her dwell on the spectacular fit she’d thrown in the kitchen of the last job she’d had. It made her remember the looks on the diner’s faces when she’d stomped out of Rosemary’s, knives in hand. Michael Trent, the owner, had fired her for threatening the head chef with said knives.

The bastard deserved it after smacking her ass in front of the rest of the staff. In the six months she’d been there, he’d bullied her about her cooking and took any opportunity to grab her boobs or her butt.

It was damned illegal, but if she turned him in, she’d be blackballed from the industry. Shit like that happened in restaurant kitchens. Of course going postal was just as career limiting. At least Rosemary’s Restaurant was pressing charges.

Alice pulled the car into Bea’s Bridal Boutique. Lord, help her. The large window touted fluffy white dresses and bright colored bridesmaid dresses looking like prom queen rejects. The place was old, but well known. Any bride within a thirty-mile radius of Milton got their bridal gowns at Bea’s. The place was an institution. It was the last place in Milton she wanted to be.

Her older brother, Adam, was engaged to Cynthia Wright, the one person in high school Alice had most hated. The one who had made her life hell within the halls of Milton High School. The very same person who nicknamed her Alice in Blubber land.

She was being punished.

 Let me know what you think.

– Amy


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Help Writers In The Storm Become a “Top Blog for Writers!”

Amy Pfaff:

This site has been a wealth of knowledge for my fellow writers and I. Help me make it a “Top Blog for Writers!”

Originally posted on Writers In The Storm Blog:

Jenny Hansen here, popping in to share some topics we’ve been buzzing about behind the scenes at Writers In The Storm.

First of all, this is our 500th post. That is so unbelievable to me. Four years ago, when we started this blog, we had no idea where it would go, or that we’d find nearly this much to post about. THANK YOU for taking the journey with us!

This milestone brings up a second one on our list of goals:

Write To Done’s yearly contest, the8th Annual Top 10 Blogs For Writers Contest 2013 is happening right now! They’re soliciting nominations for the Top 10 Blogs for Writers of 2013 and I’ve had Laura breathing down my neck about it.

(She’s that way, you know…why do you think she has 3 books out in a year?)

I’ll tell y’all what I told her:We’re not in charge here. Our…

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Change – It’s inevitable

need-a-changeJust a brief post today as I’m in the middle of one of the best craft books I’ve read in a long time. It’s filled me with AHA! moments. Don’t worry, more to come later.

I’ll be reworking my website over the next few months. Why? I’ve decided to write a contemporary romance series. It’s growing by leaps and bounds as new characters move into my fictional southern town.

I’m not giving up on the regency historicals by no means. I love writing historicals, but I needed a break. With national novel writing next month, I thought I’d get this story out of my head to make more room for Sophia’s story, the second book in the Townsend Family series.

Those of you who have heard about Miss Townsend’s Unexpected Wish, it is finished and off to an editor who requested the full. I have my fingers crossed and am on my knees hoping this editor will love Anne as much as I do.

Stay tuned. More to come.

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Letter Writing: A Lost Art

writing letter0001While my son is in basic training with the Air Force, we can only communicate via mail. Remember the mail? Where you wrote out the envelope and applied a stamp?  In this world of emails, text messaging and skype, old fashioned letter writing is a lost art.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I received flowers from my oldest and his wife.  I also received a letter from my son in basic.  I had hoped he’d be able to call, but not until the 4th week.  This letter is most precious. It’s short. He wished me a happy mother’s day. He’s fine and wanted more football news.  So mundane, but I find myself reading it over and over. I’ve saved them all.

I now understand the importance of letters to Regency women. This was their only lifeline to news and to each other. I imagine that waiting for the post could be the highlight of the day. Writing letters was their only form of communication when they were apart.

Distance was another factor. Today we think nothing of driving thirty miles to visit someone.  We track distance in the number of minutes we can get there in. Not so with my Regency characters.  Even five miles was a great distance if one had to walk. In an Unexpected Wish, Anne and her family can’t afford a horse, so she walked everywhere.  Letters were precious.

sealedletterIn his last letter, my son asked that we write more. I’d like to think he’ll save these letters from home, treasure them as we treasure his. I’m probably wrong, but it has been a good experience for us both.  Hearing from a loved one in written form, where you can hold it in your hand, fold it and re-read it again and again, is an amazing experience.

When was the last time you physically wrote a letter to someone you cared about?


Filed under Life, Regency, writing

A new curve in the journey

United_States_Air_Force_logo,_blue_and_silverMonday my last son leaves for Air Force basic training. My job of raising my boys ends and a new phase begins. My mother put it best. Your children are on loan to you to raise and cherish, then to let go so they can make their way in this world.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. We’ve had children in the house for a long time. When my oldest left, it was in steps. First he got his own apartment, then he moved to Florida. He was within driving distance. Then he moved home. I needed him at that time. Then he moved to New Mexico — a 3 day drive. I cried in the driveway.

We are lucky to be in this age of digital communication.  We can text, email, facetime, skype with loved ones any time we want. We can see them face to face. It eases the pain and the distance between us.

Now my youngest leaves. It’s different this time.  This is the son I have secret giggles with. He’s always trying to make me laugh. This tall, thin, young man is going to serve the country. I’m so proud of him I can hardly speak without tears.hands-holding-newborn-300x198

It’s just my husband and I after all these years.  Funny how we looked forward to this time together and now that its here, I’m not sure what to do with it.  We have our first grandchild on the way and I’m not sure how to be a grandmother.

Where did the time go? I’m looking forward to this new curve. I’m hoping to get more writing done. I’m hoping to travel to visit my son as he spends time in exotic places. (I’m secretly hoping he gets stationed in England for three years.) I can’t wait to hold my grandchild in my arms and smell that sweet baby smell, rock him/her to sleep in my arms.

Yeah, saying good-bye hurts, but life is good and I’m thankful for the different curves in the journey.

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Hanging out at Teatime…

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding all these months, I’ve been working at Teatime Romance with six other authors. I’ve done interviews with debut authors like Valerie Bowman, Nancy Northcott, and Emma Locke. I’ve had some serious pieces too.

I’m not neglecting this blog, just taking a break, but stay tuned.. I’ll be posting some interesting things over the next few months…



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