Southern Heat and the Making of a Book Trailer

While I researched my novel, Little Tea, I visited three locations in the Deep South: Greer’s Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennesse, where I grew up; and Como, Mississippi, which is 45 miles south of Memphis. It was the month of July, in the high heat of summer, and if you’ve ever been to the Deep South in the month of July, you know the gauze-like, humidity is part and parcel to the experience.

I embraced it all from the second my plane from Southern California landed. Through the automatic, sliding glass doors, the humidity hit me with the life force of a raging inferno and followed me all the way to my friend’s waiting car.

In the Deep South, much thought goes into escaping the heat. People live in air-conditioned wind tunnels that drown out all sound and wear cotton sweaters inside, which seems, to me, utterly ironic, but there you have it.

There’s a specific character to the Deep South in the summertime that has much to do with the climate, a weighted sultriness that eases on the skin and slows everything down to the point that most things seem nice and easy. Nobody complains about the heat because it’s a regional given. Southerners live in harmony with the heat, build their houses with verandahs, put ceiling fans above, screens before their front doors, and rocking chairs out front because channeling the slightest of breeze is a cultural pastime.

It’d been a long time since I’d been to the South in the dead of summer, but I wanted to photograph Little Tea’s setting in the region’s full, resplendent nuance. I wanted the setting of the Little Tea to depict the South as character, and for that, I needed the trees in their fullness, the flowers in bloom, the sun’s glaring halo over Greer’s Ferry Lake, and the dirt roads fully shaded yet dry as a bone.

Photographing the setting of Little Tea, I knew, would anchor me to the South as I wrote the story, back home at my desk in California, but what I had in mind all along was a series of moving images with which I could gift the reader. After all, a picture tells a thousand words when it comes to a lasting impression. Included, here, is the book trailer of Little Tea I created. My hope is it will give Little Tea’s readers a good sense of place.

 

 

https://www.clairefullerton.com

Nashville by Heart

I read this book on Kindle in two days and defy any reader of any genre not to read it as nonstop as time permits! Nashville by Heart is joyous, entertaining, and uplifting. A young woman from a small town, in the prime of life sees her dream come to fruition in the musical mecca of Nashville, Tennessee; what could be better? Perfectly delightful escapism deftly penned in an action-packed narrative with characters so vividly drawn you can feel them in the room. I loved every single line of Nashville by Heart. It soars from the opening paragraph and holds you tight. It will thrill romance readers, those who love contemporary fiction, and everyone who loves a good story with a wonderful ending!

 

#1 Amazon best-selling and award-winning author Tina Ann Forkner “delivers a fairytale” (Publisher’s Weekly) in this sweet romance.

Tina Ann Forkner

A happily ever after romance, Nashville style… Small-town girl Gillian Heart moved to Nashville to get a record deal, not end up on some playboy’s arm. She knows she shouldn’t get too personal with charming music agent Will Adams, who has broken plenty of hearts in this city. But Will is different around her, and neither of them can deny the spark.

As the spark turns to love and Gillian’s career starts to take off, she believes her Nashville dream is finally coming true. Until Will makes a move that brings back memories of the father who abandoned her and puts all she’s built in jeopardy.

Can Gillian learn to trust Will—and herself—and let her country music dream take flight? Or will the comfort of life in her hometown pull her back?

Award-Winning Author Tina Ann Forkner’s women’s fiction includes THE REAL THING, WAKING UP JOY, ROSE HOUSE, and RUBY AMONG US. She lives in Wyoming with her husband and has three adult children.

Tina teaches at workshops, presents at conferences, and is happy to appear on panels. She has spoken or taught at conferences including the Colorado Gold Conference – Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Northern Colorado Writers Conference, Crested Butte Writers Conference, as well as taught or presented at libraries including the Laramie County Library, at elementary and high schools, and for various women’s organizations and groups.

Tina is a proud member of Tall Poppy Writers and works as a freelance editor, writing instructor, and substitute teacher. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and fishing.

Tina’s website is: http://www.tinaannforkner.com/

Through an Autumn Window: a Novella

At the end of 2017, Eva Marie Everson, the acquisitions editor of Firefly Southern Fiction, asked me if I’d be interested in writing a novella to contribute to a book titled, A Southern Season: Four Stories from a Front Porch Swing, scheduled for release in November 2018. At the time, I’d never tried my hand at writing a novella, and my novel, Mourning Dove, was scheduled for release in June of 2018. Thinking I’d be overwhelmed with my pending workload, I was hesitant to commit to the project, until I was given the project’s tempting guidelines: write any story you want to, as long as it’s set in the South during one of the four seasons. Right off the bat, I started thinking about the one season that bypasses California completely, and by this, I refer to the fall. I thought trying my hand at writing something I’d never attempted would be a great opportunity to stretch as a writer, and if you know anything about Southerners, you know they never tire of talking about the South. I said yes to Eva Marie, though at the time, I hadn’t arrived at my novella’s subject. But then kismet came into play when I got a phone call from a particular elderly gentleman in the Delta, who called to tell me about a mutual acquaintance of ours who had recently died. Our conversation was all over the place, beginning with how this person had died ( old age,) dovetailing into where the funeral would take place ( probably Memphis’s Independent Presbyterian Church,) who would, no doubt, attend ( everybody and their brother,) and which Memphis cemetery would serve as the final resting place (Elmwood, or Memorial Park.) Now then, I can only report that the way this particular Delta gentleman tells a story is so chock-full of laser-sharp cultural nuance that the second he got to his perfectly timed punchline ( though it was probably unbeknownst to him,) I knew I had the subject for my novella. Here is the gentleman’s artfully delivered line that spawned my novella:

“The one thing I know about a Southern funeral is something always goes wrong.”

I had a blast writing the novella I ultimately contributed to A Southern Season. I titled it Through an Autumn Window and set it during the three-day rites of a Memphis funeral, where not just one but many things go wrong. You’ll be happy to learn I hit the word count for the novella ( 20,000 words) right on its head. In Through an Autumn Window, I wrote about a long-festering, contentious dynamic between two siblings, even as both carried forth during their mother’s funeral trying to “do the right thing” in an effort at “keeping up appearances,” during their life-altering grief.

Here’s the good news: for the next five days, A Southern Season is free on Kindle. You can get it now by clicking on this link:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GDZ9WF5

https:clairefullerton.com

Southern Literary Review : Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel.

Reviewed by Johnnie Bernhard
Hans Christian Anderson wrote, “To travel is to live.” His words suggest the underlying theme of Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton. Living, instead of existing, is exactly what protagonist Hailey Crossan does on the west coast of Ireland. Leaving the “soullessness of Los Angeles” and her job in the record industry for Ireland, she discovers a culture and its people far removed from the American lifestyle managed by time and money.
Life in Ireland brings an ethereal dimension to Hailey’s self-discovery, as she dances to reels and waltzes in the unpredictability of a new job and relationship with an Irish musician.
Dancing to an Irish Reel is not a novel of the romance genre. The characters and situations they encounter are more reflective of upmarket fiction. The author has poignantly made a statement on cultural differences, language, and life choices in this novel. There is no formulaic pattern to the plot, particularly the last chapter.
In an interview, author Claire Fullerton explains:
The road to enduring love is never linear. We hit many road blocks and speed bumps on the way to what’s ours, but we always have such hope along the way. I call Dancing to an Irish Reel an anti-romance, in that it is true to how love often goes, before we find the one that stays. It’s the push and pull of relationships that intrigues me.
Hailey is not the typical female protagonist. Like the Irish weather, she is fierce. As a single American female living in Inverin, a village in rural Ireland, she relies on public transportation and yes, the kindness of strangers. Her solitary walks in a graveyard or along the sea create interest among the people of Inverin. She is not a typical tourist. The stares and sidelong glances she receives from them are met with confidence and charm. She wins the respect and friendship of those strangers and the heart of Liam Hennessey.
There are many scenes of fortuity within this novel. Hailey finds a job supporting musicians in the Galway Music Centre, propelling her into a world of characters and situations unlike those found in the village. Those moments are also found in the unfolding relationship with Liam, particularly when Hailey discovers how the Irish love.
The sense of place within the novel is authentic. Fullerton knows what she is writing about. It is best illustrated in the commanding first-person narration. There are no trite descriptions of the setting and the people of Ireland. Readers familiar with the west coast of Ireland will readily recognize it. Fullerton’s sincere admiration for Irish musicians and poets is captured in Hailey’s voice.
Dancing to an Irish Reel is a comfortable, satisfying read. It is a poignant reminder of the differences between living in the moment or being managed by time and the making of money. It is what Hailey Crossan discovers on a trip to Ireland. It is what Claire Fullerton invites us to learn.

 

 

On an Irish Bus/ Dancing to an Irish Reel Kindle Giveaway!

reworked Galway image

He would have stood out anywhere, and standing in front of the entrance to a boutique hotel in Spiddal, wielding a black walking cane with an ivory handle two paces before made him glaringly incongruous to everything I’d come to know about the western coast of Ireland. He wore a three piece suit on his gentle frame: black, with gray stripes the width of angel’s hair, with a fitted vest, tailored trousers, complementary cravat, and a black Fedora angled just so.

I looked out from my window seat on the bus from Carraroe to Galway. It was one of those old kinds that looked as if it once had a life as an elementary school bus, now put out to pasture. With aluminum rails on the seats before, the bus would take off noisily, gravel scattering beneath its wheels before I had a chance to sit down. The bus driver greeted me in awkward English. It took a few rounds of greeting me in Irish before he finally realized I am an American, and his guttural salutation now came out sounding like something a little to the left of “Hiya.”
The bus rolled to its customary stop on the coast road that runs through the heart of Spiddal. There is no sign there; the stop is force of habit because years of driving this rolling route through Connemara told the driver where travelers would be standing, shielded from the vagaries of Irish weather.
Heads turned as the dapper, elderly man mounted the bus. He steadied his gait with his cane and favored his right foot up the three steps then halted beside the bus driver to beam his greeting. Out of the corner of my eye, trying not to stare, I saw the man tip his hat repeatedly to the right and left as he made his way down the aisle to the vacant seat beside me.

“Nice day,” he said to me as he took off his hat and placed it on his lap. “Going into town, is it? Where you go every day?”
“Yes,” I said caught by surprise and thinking nothing gets by anybody around here.

“Kearney’s the name, Seamus Kearney,” he offered himself. “You’re an American, yah?” he asked in that way the Irish have of answering their own question.

“Yes,” I answered.

“From the South, is it?” he continued.

“That’s a good ear you have. Yes, I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, but I spent the last five years living in Los Angeles,” I clarified.

“God helps us all,” he said with a wink. “And what is your name, then?” he prodded.

“Claire Fullerton.” I shook his offered hand.

“And your middle name then? Have you Irish connections?”

“Yes, I have Irish connections on both sides. My middle name is Ford,” I said.

“Ford,” he considered, wrinkling his brow. “That’s an odd middle name for a girl.”

“Yes, perhaps,” I said. “But I’m not an odd girl; I promise.”

“Now the Fords, they’re from around these parts. They’re old as the hills and Irish as the soil. Many are up the road in that old graveyard by The Centra,” Seamus Kearney said. “So they called you here, they did,” he said in more of a statement than a question.

“No, actually it was a whim that brought me here. I never knew any of my Ford relatives. Most of them died before I was born.”

Seamus drew in his breath in that audible sigh the Irish do, when they’re getting ready to say something poignant. It is a sound with a world of understanding contained: one part camaraderie, the other commiseration. “So, they called you here, they did,” he reiterated patiently. His white eyebrows raised encouragingly, as if leading a child along the road to good reason.

“Yes, definitely,” I complied.

“Ah then, there it is, so. We in Connemara don’t see the need in being parted by a little thing like death,” he said.

I couldn’t wait a second longer; I couldn’t help but ask, “Do you always dress like this?”

“Like what?” he asked genuinely unaware, which made me wonder if I’d put my foot in my mouth.

“You look so nice; I was only thinking that,” I said, the heat rising to my face.

“Pride of person’s not an unpardonable sin,” he said. “Now let me ask you what it is you do in town.”

The next thing I knew, I was explaining everything I did at my job in Galway, while Seamus gave me his rapt attention, with a pleased look on his face. Had I still been living in Los Angeles, a conversation like this one would have never taken place. One simply did not divulge personal information to a stranger in Los Angeles without thinking it would come back to haunt. But this was Connemara, and the Irish have a way of exchanging pleasantries in a manner that is somewhere between an exploration of and commentary on this business of living. It is an art so subtle you have to narrow your eyes or you’ll miss it; it comes creeping softly wearing white cotton socks and sensible shoes.

The bus rolled to a stop at the Spanish Arch, down by the quays in Galway. I stood up to disembark. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Kearney,” I said.
“Call me Seamus, please,” he returned. “I live just by the church there in Spiddal. I’d love for you to call out any time for a cup of tea,” he said, with his blue eyes smiling.

“Thank you so much, I will,” I returned, and as I got off the bus to head over the River Corrib’s bridge, I turned to wave to Seamus Kearney, and knew without question I would.

Enter to Win Dancing to an Irish Reel on Kindle !  Amazon: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/04bacbd72e9b9b35