Thank you to NFReads! Interview With Author Claire Fullerton

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# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m Claire Fullerton, the traditionally published author of  Little TeaMourning DoveDancing to an Irish Reel, and A Portal in Time. I also have a novella titled, Through an Autumn Window, which is included in the book, A Southern Season: Scenes from a Front Porch Swing. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and now live in Malibu, California. 

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

There are no “real-life” stories in my novels, though I draw from a strong sense of place and am inspired by people and events I know. 

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

People are always my inspiration, My last two novels are set in the Deep South, and the South has such wonderfully colorful characters that are part and parcel to the Southern culture. I think all stories happen because of the people involved, so my inspiration comes from simply paying attention to people’s mannerisms, the stories they tell, and their way with words. 

# How do you deal with creative block?

Full Interview Here: Interview With Author Claire Fullerton (nfreads.com)

May be an image of one or more people and book

YouTube: Books, Interviews, Malibu Beach Videos and More!

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6QbvYwbKM71znGk5zZBb-Q

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

It’s a Dog’s Life

 

The reason this seemingly endless pandemic has not thrown my wellbeing completely asunder is due to the love of my dogs. I’m thinking of this because our puppy, Sorcha, is one year old today, and in looking back over the past year, much of which seems shrouded in the dark unknown hasn’t been so dark after all because raising a puppy, while the world’s been on pause, has been a bright light at the center of everything.

Here is Sorcha on August 22, 2019, the day she was born.

GSD Puppy

Here is Sorcha’s first photoshoot at 31/2 weeks old.

Sorcha

So much of my downtime has been devoted to raising a puppy that it’s been a delightful distraction.

Sorcha is the fifth German shepherd we’ve had over the past 20 years. The thing about shepherds is once you have one, no other dog breed will suffice. GSD’s verge on having human intelligence, surpass it, if you factor in devotional, emotional intelligence, and in many respects, raising a German shepherd is like raising a kid. Their combined energy and curiosity coupled with their need to please has caused many a shepherd owner to remark, “If you don’t give them a job, they’ll find one,” and I believe this is true. It, therefore, makes a German shepherd easy to train; all that’s necessary is militant consistency.  Shepherds delight in rules and boundaries. They flourish when they perceive a schedule. When shown an activity, the time piece in their constitution calibrates forever. Shepherds are sticklers for time, and get animated should you veer from their schedule, especially when it involves something they deem rewarding— a walk, playing with a ball, their dinner. This makes them conveniently predictable. If you need nothing else from your dog, you need them predictable.

We had two German shepherds, when we brought Sorcha home: Ceili and Ronin, who were well into their sixth year when I got puppy fever. In rationalizing, I told my husband that we wouldn’t want what happened with our first two shepherds to recur, meaning when our beloved nine year old, Shadow, went to heaven,

WP_20130405_010 our eleven year old shepherd, Secret, was, for the first time, a disillusioned, solitary canine.

(Above is Shadow, on the Mission Trail in Carmel, California. Below, is our gorgeous female, Secret, whose name came from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

Secret GSD

 

The void was so apparent for all of us when Shadow died, that soon thereafter, we acquired Ceili at 11 weeks old.  ( Here is Ceili fully grown.)

Ceili CFF Sofa

 

Four months later, when Secret unexpectedly died, it broke my heart all over again, and once again, we were a one dog household. So, we brought our first German shepherd male home and named him Ronin, which meant we now had two shepherds roughly the same age.

(Here is Ronin in all his male magnificence.)

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All this leads to how we came to include Sorcha. I waged a puppy campaign this time last year, rationalizing that our lifestyle is unthinkable in a shepherdless world, and stating the obvious, which is to say that when the sad inevitable comes to Ceili and Ronin, we’ll still have a shepherd who loves them, and is six years behind them. Now, Sorcha completes the triage of three German shepherds, each with an Irish name.

trio of gsd

It’s been a focal point every day, raising Sorcha, and let it be known that Ceili and Ronin have had an integral part in her rearing. Being, as it is, that dogs are pack animals, from the second Sorcha entered the fray, Ceili and Ronin took charge. They led the schedule, accepted no shenanigans, were clear with boundaries, and were touchingly magnanimous in sharing their lives. As it turns out, mature shepherds will raise a puppy for you!

the pack

This dynamic has fostered a secure, confident, fearless German shepherd. Sorcha’s seamless inclusion into an existing pack immediately spawned playful competition.

Case in point: here is Sorcha at 9 weeks, commandeering what was once Ronin’s frisbee. The look on Ronin’s face says it all!

sorcha ronin frisbee

At times, Sorcha wants to be helpful. Here she is at four months, as we were out in the yard, replacing some of the pine trees that burned during the Malibu, 2018 fires.

6 month sorcha carrying bucket

Here is Sorcha at six months old

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Today, Ceili, Ronin, and Sorcha do everything as a pack

 

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Ronin Ceili Sorcha

Today, I’m thanking my lucky stars for our canine companions. They seem to me heaven-sent during these unusual times!

Here is Sorcha today, on her one year birthday!.

one year old sorcha

Happy Birthday, Sorcha. Let us eat cake!

 

htps://clairefullerton.com

Paying it Forward

I have a newly released novel titled, Little Tea, but that’s not my focus here.  My focus is on sharing an incredible experience I had on Facebook because it’s a case in point of what can transpire through the magnanimous efforts of one fellow author during these unusual times.

Those of us who released a book during the pandemic were blindsided as to how to proceed with promotion. In my case, I had a book tour of the South scheduled to promote Little Tea, only to discover each event was canceled. The good news is most of my events were rescheduled virtually, though in many ways, I swam in smaller waters. I stayed tethered to my desk bereft of the gift of personal contact and although I’m not taking the merit out of it, in most ways I preached to a Zoom choir. But an uncanny domino effect ensued that came through the power of connections, and although it’s not a complete surprise, I have Facebook to thank for a great time promoting Little Tea.

My good fortune began with the moderator of a Facebook book group who interviews authors via StreamYard on a nightly basis. I was a guest on her live show and was grateful beyond measure to answer questions about Little Tea. In thanking my hostess profusely, I said, “If there’s anything I can do for you, it would be my great pleasure.”

The first step along the chain of events came when the aforementioned moderator asked me to talk to a debut author she admires, who had questions about the publishing business. I issued the caveat that I’m no expert, but I’ve been in the business long enough to have an opinion. I’ll say here that my policy as an author has always been to pay it forward. Authors work in a common arena, and few of us would get very far were it not for the opportunity to compare notes. And so, I got on the phone with a complete stranger and talked about navigating the book world and am happy to report that by the time we hung up, I’d made a new friend. An hour later, my new friend messaged me via Facebook messaging and invited me to come to her Facebook group page to do an “author takeover.” I said yes before I fully understood the set-up, so, I’ll explain it now that I understand. This debut author had the foresight to create a private book launch group on Facebook. She issued a call-out six months before her book release and created a Facebook “street team” by offering incentives that simply boiled down to the joy of being involved. This street team was gifted with insider information about her debut novel. She gave her private group book swag, played games, and shared pictures pertaining to her life and her book that the general public wasn’t privy to, so by the time her book was released, roughly a thousand readers were ready to shout from the rooftops because suffice it to say, they felt personally tied to the book’s launch.

My invitation to come to her private Facebook group and do an all-day take over essentially sounded like this: “I know of a thousand people who’ve never heard of you, so come on over, I’ll introduce you, and you can post as much about your book as you want to.”

You better believe I came ready! I prepared with photographs of Little Tea’s setting in the Deep South (Como, Mississippi; Greer’s Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas; and my home town, Memphis) two book trailers, a dozen memes, Little Tea reviews, and, knowing that a picture tells a thousand words about an author’s life, photographs of ocean waves taken where I now live in Malibu, California and endless un-staged photographs of my three photogenic dogs. It was my dogs that got the ball rolling. It’s astounding how many people have “a German shepherd story.” The sharing of dog stories led to an enthusiastic kind of bonding. Soon enough, there was a vibrant thread in the private group of dog pictures that dovetailed to include the posting of pet cats.

Ceili Little Tea

Little Tea’s premise is built on the power of female friendships—the anchoring, long-lasting kind that see a woman through a lifetime. These friendships tend to have their own language, often times there’s a shared sense of humor spawned from shared history, and what comes from shared history is an arsenal of stories. In Little Tea’s case, much of the bi-racial relationship story is due to the setting, which is to say the story wouldn’t have happened as it did were it not set in the South with its attendant social mores set amidst the roiling cauldron of the cultural racial divide. There’s a line from Little Tea, when narrator Celia Wakefield describes her Southern upbringing by saying, “The thing about being a Southern girl is they let you run loose until the time comes to shape you.” I posted a meme with this quote during my author take over and it led to a riotous discussion about the South and the power of female friendships, which is part and parcel to the story of Little Tea—Little Tea being the nickname of the main character, who is Celia Wakefield’s childhood best friend.

Little Tea without preorder

I have to say I’ve always known that readers are discerning people. They’re interested in learning about a book, but they’re equally interested in learning about the author. The beauty of my all-day, author take-over was that it afforded the latitude of an unfolding. One subject led to another with regard to Little Tea, but what warmed my heart the most was the participants who shared their own stories in what became a delightful, even exchange. I came away from the event knowing I’d represented Little Tea and introduced myself as accurately as I could, but the real gift to me came from getting to know those who love reading as much as I do. I went into the author take-over hoping to reach readers, but as I learned about them, it turned into the thrill of finding common ground.

I’m still marveling at the fun I had in the midst of a fortuitous opportunity. It’s not every author who invites another to take over their page and meet their followers. When you’re lucky enough to meet the kind of author who realizes we’re all in this together, it serves as an exemplary reminder of the impact of paying it forward.

 

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of 7- time award winner, Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Claire is the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a 2-time award winner set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two, time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel. Little Tea is a Faulkner Society William Wisdom Competition finalist, a finalist for the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset Awards, and the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency.

https: //www.clairefullerton.com and/or https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

From SWM

Out Walking

California is currently experiencing the “Stay-at-Home” order. We’ve been in and out of this state of affairs for months, and to tell you it’s disorienting is my idea of a full confession. Life feels constricted, pared down its least common denominator and being as it is that I’m on the downswing of the 90 day mark since my 4th novel (Little Tea) released, I’m in between projects. Kind of. I’m still promoting Little Tea, but not with the fervor I had seven months ago. I have the first draft of another book completed, but perhaps it’s the second. Quite possibly it’s the third. It’s hard to say, I tend to revise as I move forward. The draft is finished, but at the moment, I’m not motivated to rush through the project. I’d rather wait until the world rights itself– whatever that will look like–  and see how the pause inflicted on the world will influence how we move forward. Word on the street is things will change. Business as we know it may alter. There will be a “new normal” and how this pertains to my little universe leaves me deeply concerned about the new normal of the publishing business. I’m biding my time, and thinking about a line I wrote in my 3rd novel, Mourning Dove, when Finley looks at his sister, Millie, and says, “Mastering the ambiguities of life is the hardest task any of us will ever be called to do.” I believe this is true in my bone marrow.

One thing that occurred to me at the start of the pandemic is the necessity of a daily schedule. I’m well aware that I live in a desirable location by anyone’s standards– no extreme weather, I’m in somewhat of a rural area, and before me as far as the eye can see, the Pacific Ocean stretches forever. So, I’ve been out walking every morning. Setting my feet to the sand sets my mind aright and my world in order. Suffice it to say, I don’t take where I live for granted, and many has been the time when I’ve wished I could share the view. It now dawns on me that I can. I’ll begin with my walk this morning.

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I walked along Malibu’s Westward Beach as I made my way to the Point Dume Headlands. You have to walk along the sand until you reach the beginning of the trail that winds up to the Point Dume area.

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To the right of the trail’s beginning is this:

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I walked up about thirty yards until I came to this:

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There were few people around at 8:00 this morning as I made my way through the headlands to the ocean view on the north side of The Point:

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To the left of this observation deck is this:

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Which leads to this:

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Which leads to this view:

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Point Dume is essentially a neighborhood in a breathtaking location. There are no parking lots for tourists; all in all, it’s a quiet, cliffside retreat. On the other side of The Point that you see in the above photograph is Paradise Cove and its pier.  There’s a popular restaurant named Paradise Cove right on the beach, and it can be accessed from its driveway off the Pacific Coast Highway.

Since the houses on Point Dume are situated on the cliffs above Westward Beach, there are a few stairs that lead from the neighborhood to the sand.

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I find the cliffs beautiful in their natural splendor, telling of the terrain. Here is what the cliffside looks like between Point Dume and the sand.

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I finished my hour and a half walk through the Point Dume Headlands this morning by watching the waves. It was a grey, overcast, foggy morning, but truth be told, that weather suits me. I prefer to greet the day before the California sun is full on.

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There are other Malibu beaches I go to in the morning, so I’ll save more photographs for another post.

I’m sharing my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6QbvYwbKM71znGk5zZBb-Q

Because I’ve made videos while walking Malibu’s beaches.

I’d love to hear where readers of this post live! I’m interested in hearing how anyone structures their day, as we wait for whatever will be our new normal!

 

 

 

Musing

Here on the west end of Malibu, I spend most of my days writing. I’ve been at a particular pitch for twelve years or so, and what I’ve come to realize is, if a writer stays with it consistently, they’ll realize they’ve created a lifestyle that feels like a spinning wheel whose spokes include the writing of a book, the book’s pre-release promotion,  post-release promotion, oftentimes travel to book events, and all the while, a work-in-progress that perpetuates the cycle.

I discovered long ago that balance is key to being a writer. I don’t think it’s healthy to spend too much time at my desk. I’m in the habit of stringing three or four hours in front of my computer then going outside to walk around, see if the sun is shining, put Groove Music on my headphones, and walk to the beach to watch the surfers. A little air and movement always does me good.

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But it’s amazing what can happen from the simple act of walking outside while taking a break from my desk. Last week, it was this: WP_20200524_10_12_55_Pro

An egret walked around our backyard. It’s been seven days since this majestic bird appeared, and it shows no enthusiasm toward leaving. The Malibu terrain this time of year is hot and dry, and that means the prevalence of lizards, which, I suspect, is the egret’s draw.

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Egret Front Door

As you can see from the above photograph, the egret has made itself quite at home. Even our female, German shepherd, Ceili has grown used to it, though this isn’t always the case, especially when our other two shepherds are involved.

Here are Ceili, Ronin, and our 9-month-old puppy, Sorcha: three German shepherds with Irish names.

February

When it comes to seeking balance in my writing life, the environment I live in, and those that populate it give me a sense of balance.

I’m like may writers. I live on a wheel that constantly spins. It suits me, this combination of creativity, dedication, and purpose. Being a novelist is a fulltime job with no “there” to get to, only the commitment and perseverance it takes to stay on the path. As for the outcome of each book, beyond doing the very best I can do, it’s not my business. My business is to enjoy the process. I am grateful beyond measure when anything comes from one of my books, but it’s enough to enjoy the quality of my days; that I am spending time the way I like to, building something that matters to me, then walking outside to see what’s happening.

 

https://clairefullerton.com

 

Touring Como, Mississippi

I had cause to go to Como, Mississippi when I researched the area during the writing of my novel, Little Tea. A friend of mine knew I was writing a book set in Como and had the inspired idea to introduce me via e-mail to a Como local named Sledge Taylor. “Trust me on this,” she’d said. “Sledge Taylor will show you the lay of the land.”
I set a date with Sledge Taylor and flew from California to Memphis, where I stayed a few days then drove 45 miles south to Como, anticipating a full afternoon of being a tourist.

What follows is my attempt at sharing that memorable trip to Como, Mississippi, in hopes it will give you a taste of what can be found in a small gem of a town tucked away in the Deep South.
Driving from Memphis to Como, Mississippi on I-55 South, the flat Delta land is weighty. In the greening of May, both sides of the highway teem with flourishing oak, elm, hickory, and pine set among ochre forest litter so dappled and dense, it haunts with a history, its watchful eyes on the back of your neck.

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Turning off I-55 to Oak Avenue into Como, the first thing I saw was a rust-colored water tower on Sycamore Street,

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across the road from red-brick and multi-windowed Como Methodist Church, which looms on the corner of Oak and Main, its black signage announcing in white block letters, “Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.”

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Down on Main Street, a row of one-off businesses sit like ducks in a row facing the railroad tracks.

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On the berm before the tracks, two community storm shelters lie side-by-side, their weathered metal doors to the underground ensconced like coffins with handrails no bigger than a coat hanger.

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I met Sledge Taylor at his office, in a brick building his family has owned since 1880. It was tucked down a hallway behind a glass door announcing “Office, W.S. Taylor, Jr. Farms,” topped with adhesive decals telling of his life: Delta Wildlife, Farm Families of Mississippi, University of Mississippi, and the National Cotton Council.

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In his office, tiers upon racks upon bookshelves like a shrine to Como’s antiquity. There were plaque awards from cotton associations, faded photographs of men in bowties smiling before stacks of cotton bales,

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and multiple images of his family’s plantation taken at different stages of prosperity.

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In the corner, a full-size taxidermy turkey perched in profile, its red head and tail feathers up, glowering above a computer.

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It was a thinking man’s racket of an arrangement, a ramshackle office on beaten wood floors so fascinating at every swivel, I wanted to stay and disregard why I was there.

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Sledge Taylor didn’t seem the agrarian type. Were you to pass him on the street, the last thing you’d think is there goes a farmer. A scholar or historian would be your first guess, and you wouldn’t be far off because today’s version of a Como farmer necessitates artist, historian, and scientist rolled into one. Spending time with this erudite man was an education in small-town history and what it means to be a gentleman farmer.
After a gravy-smothered plate lunch at The Windy City Grill,

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Taylor I took to the sidewalk of Main Street, where I received a tutorial in the history of every building standing shot-gun style on the historic street. Taylor currently owns the building that was once the town’s general store.

 

In its interior, everything was frozen in time. A mule harness dangled from a wall peg, a massive dust-covered, slatted accountant’s desk stood high with a matching wood stool, rows of curio shelving housed pitchers and planters and sets of china,

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and in one of the walls, a man named S.L. Sturdivant had thrown an ice pick at the 1968 Como Parts calendar, and it remained embedded because it made a good story and nobody thought to remove it.

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At the north end of Main, Holy Innocent’s Episcopal Church sat white wood and A framed, with two gold crosses emboldening its red, cathedral doors beneath a porte cochere beside an oak tree.

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Inside, red-carpeted oak floors, pine pews, and five cathedral stain glass windows graced either side, one memorializing a Taylor named Robert, who died in 1916.

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Above the door on the way out, Jesus stood in a field beside three lambs, holding a staff in his hand and looking out from a pastoral mural.
Out on the street, I photographed an elegant willow tree rustling in the breeze as we made our way to Taylor’s four-door, Ford F-150. In ten minutes, we were on the outskirts of Como proper, where a chiaroscuro of forest primeval stretched as far as the eye could see on either side of the mostly unmarked roads, winding through what seemed like borrowed time. Canopies of hickory, cherry, oak, and sweet gum covered Johnson grass, honeysuckle, Bermuda grass, crabgrass, and sage.

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As we careened through the countryside, there wasn’t a car in sight, nor was I given a heads up when my guide turned up a gravel road that rambled on two hundred acres until a house came into view.


The house was massive. It rose up to a pitched red roof on a patch of groomed velvet lawn. Its four columns bracketed a seven-foot front door, but we sailed past and parked behind it. Like a ghost from the ether, a tall man approached and addressed my guide heartily as Mr. Sledge, though we were not expected. Within minutes, the ground’s caretaker of thirty- nine years invited us inside, and I was given a tour of one of Como’s grand houses. As the house is a private residence, primarily used as a weekend getaway, out of respect for its owners, I will refrain from posting interior photographs and let you use your imagination. I will share that we entered through the kitchen, whose entrance was heralded by a series of weathered brick steps beneath a heavy muscadine trellis, positioned just so, to abate the sweltering summer heat.

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I’ll describe the interior of the house for you: Every spacious room downstairs had a crown molded ceiling towering at nine feet. Beneath area rugs, the wood floors flowed through the dining and living rooms, straight to a screened porch furnished with leather club chairs beneath a whirring ceiling fan. In the catacomb of the entrance hall, two bedrooms opened at the left, adjoined by a dressing area and attendant ivory-tiled bathroom. In the center, a wooden staircase rose to a second-floor landing with a view of the grounds rambling to a cabin by a pond. Upstairs, three more bedrooms, one with a white mantled fireplace and two matelassé covered beds. All the bedrooms were resplendent with antiques. Some had four-poster beds, tall chests of drawers, and porcelain in nooks besides built-in shelving. Mounted on walls were portraits painted in oil: austere, looming family member facsimiles with eyes that followed you everywhere. It was not a glittering, ostentatious plantation house, boasting in pomposity, rather, it was a shop-worn, elegant house, pitched to a practicality that gave it a warm, sophisticated edge in a way that lived and breathed history and spoke of safe haven.
And it’s fascinating what you learn when being given a tour of a historic house in Mississippi. I learned there’s a problem in the area with ladybug infestation, that they swarm the window screens by the millions and lay eggs to the point where the light can’t get through, and that an Eastern box turtle crossing the road is as good a portent as any of coming rain.
Sledge Taylor drove me to another of Como’s magnificent houses, which had hundreds of rows of pecan trees at the front of the property.  I saw his family’s cotton gin, and fields where they’ve grown cotton and rice and soybean for as long as anyone remembers.

The sky above Como is endless in otherworldly hues I’ve never seen the likes of anywhere else. Hazy blue, yellow and cream, like sunlight filtering through gauze, and the air so soft in the first week of May, it enveloped the surroundings in a dreamscape.

I did all I could to describe Como, Mississippi during the writing of Little Tea. Como has an inexplicable feel to it well worth writing about.  It sings of history and belonging. It’s a gem of a town in the loess country of Panola County;  population of 1,245, the likes of which spawn a man such as Sledge Taylor: a proud steward of land passed down through generations, the kind of man so proud of his Mississippi roots, he takes the time to show them off to a writer.

 

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https://www.clairefullerton.com

The Spirit Behind Little Tea

I’m forever pondering the magic of life-long female friendships, the kind formed in childhood, or perhaps early high school that, for whatever reason, stay. On one hand, when we’re young, we’re in a state of becoming, but on the other, our early years are the set-in-stone template of who we actually are. We grow from there. We build our lives. We add and subtract what is and is not working. We shape and adjust and mold our lives as best we see fit but, in my mind, we never fundamentally change our core essence. We can move far from home, forge brilliant careers, marry, have children, divorce, witness sorrow and tragedy, and death, and it shapes our experience, perhaps informs our wary attitude, but the vagaries of life don’t re-define us. In a matter of speaking what happens in our lives refines us.
At the beginning of Little Tea, I said it this way: “There’s a side to the unions made in high school that has perpetual resonance, a side that remains in arrested development that will never let you forget who you essentially are.”
Our friends anchor us. They keep us on center page. They’re the ones who know our history, the characters in our dramas of cause and effect, and they never forget. This keeps us honest. Our friends are a touchpoint to see us through the ages.
I went into the writing of Little Tea wanting to make this point through the power of story. I began with three women friends who reunite after many years at Greer’s Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

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I set Little Tea in Heber Springs because of its close proximity to Memphis, where the characters, Renny, Ava, and Celia grew up. They each live in another location and had to travel to the lake, and the thing I liked about setting the story near water is the idea of fluidity and fluctuating tides. Such is life, and the element of water is alive, ever-changing, and emotional. Sometimes we sit near water and reflect, other times we dive right in it. For the three childhood friends in Little Tea, Heber Springs Lake is a neutral ground.
Little Tea is the story of three women friends who reconvene because one of them is in trouble. If you take one problem and put it in the hands of three different women, you’ll receive three different solutions, each based according to who the woman is—her background, her history, her perception of the world. Great wisdom and sage advice are borne from the heart and souls of women, and it is this I wanted to capture in the story.
I like the idea of a group of women friends as an insular, secret society. This subject was the entire impetus behind my writing Little Tea, and I hope readers relate to it in the spirit I intended, which is to say there is great value in friendship.

Let’s vow to never take it for granted.

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https://www.clairefullerton.com

Gratitude to the WordPress Book Bloggers

I’d like to adequately express how much the WordPress book blogging community means to me, so suffer me while I warm up to it. I readily admit I’m the long-winded sort, even when I have an important point.

In this day and age of social media at the center of an author’s career, there is much to reconcile, and there are times I wrestle with keeping a proper perspective. On the one hand–and you’d think this to meet me in person–I  am ridiculously extroverted; I have what author, Pat Conroy, labeled the “Southern sickness” of assuming everyone I meet is my best friend, yet on the other, I am intensely private. I don’t like showcasing myself because it feels like grandstanding, and quite frankly I’m not impressed with myself to the point that I think I have anything of significance going over any other writer. We are all of us playing a long-game, making our own way in our chosen field. But sometimes it seems that one has to have an elevated sense of oneself in order to promote one’s work as an author. There’s a fine line these days, and it’s the one thing I didn’t realize going into “being” a writer. I’m probably like many people in their 50’s. We were the generation who woke up one day to discover the entire world was online and all over social media. When that realization dawned on me, it was a major hustle to catch up.

Then there is the concern of reconciling novel-writing as art and publishing a novel as a business. Once upon a time–as little as twenty years ago–authors wrote books and turned them over to their publishing house to promote. If they had an audience to justify a book tour, the publisher paid for an author to travel from book store to library to book club to meet readers in person. This is still done, but on a small, discerning scale primarily intended for authors who have wide name recognition. As for authors with a small or independent press, when it comes to a book tour, it’s all out of pocket because they’re essentially on their own.  Because book publishing options have opened up and there are now thousands upon thousands of authors in the race, the effort is geared toward keeping abreast of the tide and waving one’s hand above the noise. What’s more, in this day and age, the lion’s share of promotion falls to the author and is not only about promoting a book; authors have to promote themselves.

I’ve been torn over this for a while, now. I’ve limited myself in self-promotion by only going so far. I’ll take the opportunity here to add to Conroy’s definition of Southern sickness: friendly as we are, Southerners are an unflashy lot given to personal discretion. Too much going on about oneself is succinctly considered bad form.

I see it all on social media. People post all sorts of personal information from their family to their lifestyle to their political views. I’m not passing judgment, just making an observation, but I do know that too much online, personal information can put one in a vulnerable position and lead to an unintended consequence. It’s the downside of social media and it’s a struggle to strike a manageable balance.

So, how does an author effectively promote their book while striking a healthy balance? And whom should an author trust?

Which brings me to another consideration: There are the legions of online, profiteering book promotion businesses that have cropped up as a result of the book publishing boom. It’s staggering to me and hard to wade through the miasma to discern who is and is not reputable, while an author is hustling for literary recognition and book reviews. Authors need exposure for their releases, but who to choose within a reasonable budget?

Which brings me around to the WordPress book blogging community ( I told you I’d work my way to my point.)

I am humbled and proud to have aligned with the book bloggers here. I believe the book bloggers I’ve met on WordPress are as fine as they come. I stand in awe of Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord. Through Sally, I’ve met Olga Nunez, Michelle James, Robbie Cheadle, Teagan Geneviene, Rosie Amber,  DG Kaye, and Chris the Story Reading Ape to name but a few. I stand in awe of each bloggers’ deft handling of content, organizational skills, dedication, professionalism, and magnanimous spirit. I recognize you all as passionate people involved in the book world for all the right reasons. Your impact upon many authors’ careers is nothing short of significant.

At long last, here is my point:

I thank each of you who has featured my books on your blog for including me in your esteemed fold. Your support of my career is a force that sustains me, and I remain so very grateful.

https:www.clairefullerton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I Find Inspiration

May 1, 2020 | By Claire Fullerton
I was recently asked the following question in an interview: “As a writer, where do you go to find inspiration?” The interviewer cited the habit of Charles Dickens, who took to the streets of London every day in a five to six-mile stroll while looking for source material. I love the evocative image of this world-renowned writer cruising through London, his eyes darting as he tallied impressions, experiencing the common place of that city, taking mental notes.
Because I wanted to answer the question to the best of my ability, I visualized myself in Dickens’ place and pondered what he was really doing. I realized it wasn’t so much where he was as it was that he had his eyes open. The way I considered it, Dickens allowed himself to be influenced, and this is key for writers. The most seemingly inconsequential things can affect a writer, and by this I mean strike an emotional chord. That it typically happens in the blink of an eye doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
In the essay, Honeymoon: The Romance of Umbria, by Pat Conroy, which appears in The Pat Conroy Cookbook, Conroy writes of catching himself writing in his head instead of living in the moment as he stood inspired by an Umbrian sunset. With regard to writers, I believe this is a common habit. It’s a particular way of being in the world and at the heart of it is the desire to communicate coupled with love of language.
There might be shades of the longing to be understood, but I think it’s more a labor of love to help readers understand the world. After all, a writer’s task is to articulate, to put their impressions into words along with what they think and feel through the power of story.
I’ve heard it said that artists view the world through with a peculiar, particular lens.
They have the ability to engage with the world from the outside looking in, to be in it but not of it, stand apart in the middle of a crowd and act as witness. To many artists, this ability is a calling, be it acting, painting, dancing, or writing. In my opinion, writers are the archivists of the world, the interpreters of life who record events and impressions and are driven by the need to share their gift.
And yes, it all starts with finding inspiration, yet inspiration doesn’t so much reside without as it does within. The trick is to keep wide-eyed and aware as one goes about their days, to grab hold of inspiration’s cord once it’s struck and hang on until it resonates. Inspiration doesn’t have so much to do with location as it does the ability to access what’s within once it’s triggered. When it comes to writing, inspiration is a prompting that travels from the spirit of a writer to a blank page and results in a painstaking commitment to work built on hope and blind faith that it’s worth sharing.
In answer to that interviewer’s question of where I go to find inspiration, I tried my best to articulate my experience. I said rather than cite a locale, I can share what I do when inspired, and it has everything to do with discipline. I can be anywhere doing anything when inspiration comes from sight, sound, thought, mood or feeling. To me it’s all about listening to the voice within. The discipline starts with finding a pen

For Release news of my novel, Little Tea, the rest of this post continues here: http://booksbywomen.org/where-i-find-inspiration/

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Little Tea’s Universal Link:  https://books2read.com/u/3nvz0R
Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and a finalist in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary

Follow her on Twitter @cfullerton3
Find out more about her on her website https://www.clairefullerton.com/

As Published on:

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Out Walking

It took me a while to evolve from a feeling of anxious, pandemic shell-shock to resume what has long been a habit of mine. I like to walk. I don’t need a destination. More often than not, I walk down my driveway in Malibu, California and the biggest decision is whether to turn right or left. I typically listen to Groove Music, where I’ve downloaded my favorite albums. It’s not so much about where I walk as it is the rhythm I strike while moving through space. There’s something centering about it, balancing, and it tends to clarify my perspective regardless of what’s on my mind. And these days, I have a lot on my mind, though most of it has to do with uncertainty.

What got me out of the walking habit during the first few weeks of the pandemic’s strange state of affairs was that it rained sporadically, the sky remained overcast, and it added to the unbalancing sense of gloom and doom similar to how I felt after the Malibu fires when life came down to the daily question of how to get my bearing. I’ve always known walking helps me get my bearings. It’s therapeutic to me, a dreaming meditation, part-and-parcel to my well-being, and the one thing I know about coping in crisis is it’s best to arrive at a schedule as close to business as usual. Since the sun’s been shining in Malibu these past few days, walking is at the center of what little I’ve managed to cobble of a schedule.

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We’re currently not allowed on the beaches in Malibu, California, but on a rise of the Pacific Coast Highway, I spied this path. It goes through an indigenous, breathtaking field straight to the cliffs overlooking Nicholas Beach, which flows to the left.WP_20200419_11_23_07_Pro

Looking right, Nicholas Beach flows into Leo Carrillo State Beach and makes up western Malibu’s coastline.

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The foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains are in Western Malibu, and they run into Ventura County.

There are beautiful wildflowers everywhere, now that we’re in spring: This is Pride of Medeira, and it’s plentiful everywhere.

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Along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway is wild mustard seed and bougainvillea

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This is ice plant, and currently, it’s blooming

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And blooming Rosemary

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It wouldn’t be a walk outside in Malibu, California, without spying something emblematic to give one a sense of place. Since we can’t go to the beaches, this brilliant man did the next best thing: parked his VW van for an ocean view and strummed on his guitar.

 

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It took weeks of feeling uncomfortable during this pandemic before I realized what was really bothering me. It went beyond a feeling of lack of control and wrestling with the uncertainty of what I can and cannot count on in my future schedule. My book, Little Tea, releases on May 1st, and as things stand, I have no idea what will be called off in my mid-June book tour of the South. Reports say the US will aim for normalcy in stages; that individual states will move forward according to how its governer sees fit. Conditions differ in varying regions. I think it will be an unfolding. And be that as it may, even if the coast were totally clear, I’m shying from the thought of getting on a plane in June to travel down South. We’ve all been through so much. Even if things were to get back to normal, it’s probably going to take a while to feel normal. But back to what’s been bothering me, because this just dawned on me. I’ve been my own worst enemy through most of this because I haven’t been practicing acceptance, at least not in a way where I wasn’t still trying to fit my square plans into a round hole.

I took this photograph from my front yard a couple of weeks ago, and I believe it’s exemplary of a ray of hope in the midst of a storm.

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One day this pandemic will be behind us. For now, I’m working on acceptance.

And the best way I know to work on acceptance?

Go outside and start walking.

 

https://clairefullerton.com