Starting new book!!!

Here is the beginning of my latest book.  It may change 100 times, but at least it's a start.

“Nobody likes a wet dog.”

Everyone in Lost River knew that voice and they knew what it meant. Miss Eudalee Echols had caught somebody about to go too far and get into trouble and that was her way of saying, “You better straighten up and fly right.” Those who headed her warnings avoided untold disasters big and small. Those who didn’t make up the rest of this story.

Like the case of Royce Fulerton, for instance. Parents warned kids from an early age to, “stay away from that Royce Fulerton.” If they had paid attention, things might have turned out quite differently.

Warnings were just a part of growing up, but there were certain things kids in Lost River learned on their own. Like the myth about quicksand down by the river. The stories of things and people disappearing into the quicksand were numerous. Smart kids ignored the warnings because they soon figured out there was no quicksand, mainly because there was no river. Despite the name of the town, there was not—nor had there ever been—a river anywhere close by.

One of the other things Lost River kids seem to be born knowing was about doorknobs and Mrs. Vinci. She was a widow and had been born in “the old country.” That meant she was expected to wear black. Even in Georgia heat, she always wore a long black dress with long sleeves and a high neck. And she was afraid of door knobs. Some folks said she was afraid of germs others said it was just an ancient Sicilian custom.

Either way, whenever she encountered a closed door, she stood and waited for someone to turn the knob and open the door for her. Kids automatically did that in the same way they automatically said please and thank you. It was just polite.

A New Direction: Poems

Here are two new poems. Hope you enjoy them.

A Tree

A Southern tree is big and strong

With long mossy arms

That hold children and swings and things.

 But Big Apple trees are different

They’re short and wiry and tough

They shake their leaves and say,

“I’ve had enough carbon monoxide today, thank you!”

 No children playing hide and seek

Just winos playing hide and leak

But all the same, it’s still a tree.


Uncle Aubrey

My uncle Aubrey rolled his own

            from a tin of Prince Albert

                        he kept in his overalls pocket.

He laughed a lot

            and drank a little

                        whiskey he made himself.

He appreciated a good woman

            and a good mule.

He cherished his children

            and cursed the federal government.

He was a yellow-dog Democrat

            and a blue-tick-hound hunter.

He never went to church

            and never broke a promise.

Uncle Aubrey was a man

            who rolled his own life.

New Directions

I have written four books in ten years and I’m momentarily out of ideas. So I’m taking a break to recharge my imagination. A couple of times a month, I’ll post  Short Thoughts  (brief observations) or a poem here. 

Uncle Aubrey

My uncle Aubrey rolled his own

            from a tin of Prince Albert

                        he kept in his overalls pocket.

 He laughed a lot

            and drank a little

                        whiskey he made himself.

 He appreciated a good woman

            and a good mule.

 He cherished his children

            and cursed the federal government.

 He was a yellow-dog Democrat

            and a blue-tick-hound hunter.

 He never went to church

            and never broke a promise.

 Uncle Aubrey was a man

            who rolled his own life.

Here's my Grinch-y Christmas poem.



Christmas comes but once a year

And oh my God I think it’s here

With red and green, the Christmas hues

And don’t forget the Christmas blues.

One size fits all, but I regret

That rarely works with what I get

So far I haven’t found the cause

For hating Dear Ole Santa Claus.

Perhaps it’s all the razz-ma-tazz

And spending money no one has

Or maybe there are other clues

Perhaps I’ve got the sugar blues

From eating those and this and that

And starting off the new year fat.

I think some day I’ll go away

And spend a quiet Christmas day

Eating salad on a beach

Somewhere far, far out of reach

I’ve considered Timbuktu

But missionaries got there too

They probably sing Christmas carols

And ring Salvation Army bells

Yes, Christmas gets us all that’s clear

Thank God it just comes once a year.



If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a distillery to write a book about moonshine. The staff at ASW Distillery (199 Armour Drive, where Mason Meuer Art Gallery used to be) was there for me from beginning research to book launch party.

On Thursday, September 27, they have invited me to be part of their weekly open house from 4:30-7:00.  If you haven’t visited them yet, this is the perfect opportunity to sample “the second best old fashioned,” meet these nice folks and take a look at Thunder and White Lightning, my latest novel.  Y’all come!

Vacation pics and latest news

September is here and it’s time to show off vacation pictures (click on Photography)and find out what’s been going on. You can see pictures on Facebook too.  

( )

ITEM ONE:  Bragging rights. Yea!

Official review of Thunder and White Lightning from The BookLife Prize.

“The well-crafted prose brings the backwoods of Georgia, moonshining, and the early days of stock car racing to vivid life.

Literary narratives about the roots of auto racing are few and far between. With cameos from actual NASCAR legends and an obsessive commitment to historical detail, this novel feels fresh and different.”

ITEM TWO: Highlights of Neighborhood Book Launch Party

 Betty Hanacek and Ron Loins hosted and we sold 43 books!! A great time was had by all helped along by the signature moonshine cocktail created by Melanie Bassarab especially for the occasion. (If you want the recipe, let me know

ITEM THREE: Publicity is everything!

If you’ve read Thunder and White Lightning, please post a review on Amazon. Each of these is worth its weight in gold. If you need help, scroll to the bottom of this entry for directions.

ITEM THREE: Go low-tech

 If you’re not comfortable posting reviews, here’s a simple, effective way to spread the word.  Email four (4) of your friends and tell them how much you enjoyed the book. Don’t forget to tell them they can order books at or from their favorite online bookstore.




Go to That brings up "Book at Amazon" page

  Enter Thunder and White Lightning where it says "book" at the top of your screen.

That should bring up the cover of the book. If not, scroll down until you see the cover

3   Click on the cover.

That brings up the Thunder and White Lightning page.

4   Click on "Customer Reviews" to the right of the 5 stars (below my name)

That brings up the Customer Review page.

5   Click on "write a customer review" That brings up the Edit Your Review page.

6 You have to click a star to open the window where you can enter your review Click on the last star in line.

7   Enter your review.

8   Finally click on Submit.

Veterans have their say

Reviewer James Reeve wrote, “As a veteran of Viet Nam, I very much liked Ms. Hawthorne’s inclusion and treatment of two wounded WWII veterans and their adjustment to “life after.”  Here’s a glimpse of their story.

 Gus had come in to sort out some paperwork he had been avoiding. It was so unusual to have a customer, it took him several minutes to notice the tall, lanky man looking over the Ford.

“You lookin’ to buy a car?”

The man shook his head. “Naw, I’m just curious. My car’s at Junky’s getting some adjustments made.” As he walked around the display model, Gus noticed he had a limp. “Car looks good,” the man said, “but you know it’s the same as the ‘42 under the skin.”

“Yeah, ’42 was a good car, but not quite as good as the ’39. Best whiskey car ever made.” The words were no sooner out of his mouth than Gus wondered if he’d spoken out of turn.

The man smiled and gestured slightly to Gus’s cane. “Wounded?”

Gus nodded. “Grenade. Knee gives me trouble sometimes. You?”

“Bomb went off where it shouldn’t. Shrapnel.” The man extended his hand, “Byron, everybody calls me Red.”

“Gus McLagan. I raced against you before the war. So you’re still drivin’? How do you…”

“I wear a steel brace. My mechanic Red Vogt fixed it up so I can bolt the brace to the clutch. When I need to shift, I do it by shifting my body weight. ”

“How’s it workin’?”

Byron smiled “Hurts.” He reached in his pocket and took out a bottle of aspirin. “This helps.”

Gus smiled and pointed to a bottle of aspirin on his desk. “Me too.”

“At least I’m driving. I’ve won a few races Bill France set up. Hope to keep doing that. Walk over to the garage with me and I’ll show you how the brace works.”

Gotta love a man who worries about having too much money.

According to reader Frank McComb, “The Second World War years launched the South into unprecedented changes that could only be dimly perceived.”

So true and one of the characters in Thunder and White Lightning is having a hard time coping.

“Duncan, how much money you got?”

Duncan put down his coffee and checked his pockets. “Two dollars and… seventy-three cents. Why? You wanna borrow some?”

          “Lord no! That’s the problem. I got too much.” Sean sat down in one of the metal chairs on the front porch of their boarding house, put his coffee cup on the floor and breathed out a long, tortured sigh. “I tell you what, this whole money thing is keepin’ me up at night. I just don’t know what to do about it. I always figured if we had enough to pay our property taxes, keep food on the table and clothes on our backs, we were doin’ fine. I worked hard and made enough money to pay my bills. Now we’re doin’ all that and we still got some left over! It’s terrible.”

          Duncan took a breath, but before he could get a word out, Sean was off again. “Every time I try to think it through, my thoughts get all in a knot. It was hard times when I was growin’ up, but it got better. Then I got married and Emma took over worryin’ about the money. All those years you and me was in the moonshine business, we did good. We spent money to make money. Bought the land, paid to get the corn ground, bought the sugar, bought the stills, bought a car or two, paid for the gas and tires, lost a couple of loads, but all in all we made shine, we sold shine and we paid our way. I understand how that worked. But this is totally different.”  


The Downton Abbey of North Georgia

 “There’s nothing more fun than getting the inside story on who did what to whom. Thunder and White Lightning is the Downton Abbey of North Georgia.

S.I. Nichols, Louisiana


“To read a Grace Hawthorne novel is to be drawn into a microcosm of the South. She is a master in the art of storytelling.”

Nan Trainor, Massachusetts

 (Read more)


Nobody in Dawsonville had ever heard of Harold Brassington. In fact, not many people outside of Darlington, South Carolina knew his name. But that was about to change. In 1948 he witnessed the Indianapolis 500. It was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. But it wasn’t the cars or the drivers or the noise or the crowds that caught his imagination, it was the bricks: millions and millions of red bricks that lined the surface of the track.

At that moment, Harold Brassington had what could only be described as a biblical epiphany. He heard angels singing and a voice which said, “You will build the first paved track in the South. You will build it one and one quarter miles long. It will be the longest track in the South. You will cover it with black asphalt. You will call it Darlington International Raceway. No, change that. You will call her the Lady in Black.” Harold Brassington accepted his divine mission. As he returned to South Carolina, he kept all these things and pondered them in his heart.

The first hint that this project was going to be a test of faith came in the form of a plague of minnows.

Chapter 1, long or short, your choice

“Hawthorne’s southern mountain twang spins a yarn rooted in historical fact as moonshiners evolve into NASCAR legends. Family survival becomes hot business. A great read.”

Bob Wells, Georgia


“My favorite part was Chapter One with the humorous courtroom recitation of the history of the Scots-Irish immigration to northern Georgia. Who knew the truth could be so much fun?”

Bobbie Davis, California

(read the full chapter at or read an excerpt here.)




Duncan McLagan stopped dead still. Other than the black locust wood crackling under the cooker and the bees buzzing in the mountain laurel, there was no other sound for miles through the quiet Georgia hills. The voice didn’t have a threat in it, but the gun pointed at his chest told a different story.

“You’re Duncan McLagan, that right? I’m Homer Webster. I’m a federal agent.”

“I know who you are, Homer. Glad you put your gun away. Was you plannin’ to shoot me?”

“Naw, the gun’s mostly for show. We’re just gonna bust up your still and then we’re gonna take you to jail.”

By the time it was all over, the sun was beginning to set and it always got dark on the backside of the mountain first. Homer sized up the situation and looked at Duncan. “It’s gettin’ late and there’s no sense in takin’ you to jail now. You go on home tonight, but be at the courthouse by 9:00 tomorrow.

Almost every moonshiner Duncan knew was sent to “build days in Atlanta” sooner or later. It was just part of doing business. Besides it was his first offense, so maybe he’d get off easy.

Finally, Federal Judge Edwin Dunbar got things underway and they got around to the case the audience had been waiting for. Homer Webster presented his evidence. Then the judge called on Duncan, who unfolded his six-foot-three frame and faced the judge. “Mr. McLagan, this is the first time I’ve seen you in my court. Now I know, that you know, that moonshining is illegal. You’re known to be an intelligent man, so why do you persist in this activity? It has taken us a while, but you knew eventually you’d get caught.”

Duncan straightened his suit coat—which had clearly seen better days—and took a deep breath. Mattie knew that Duncan wasn’t accustomed to making long speeches unless it was absolutely necessary. Like everybody else, she wondered what he was going to do.

 “Judge, when my kin came to these mountains, they packed those feelings—along with their knowledge of whiskey-making—and brought them all to the New World. I have to admit we’re a cantankerous lot and we don’t suffer fools gladly. My early kin firmly believed that anyone associated with the gov’ment was, by definition, a fool,” he smiled slightly. “Of course we don’t believe that so much anymore.

The judge tapped his gavel to get Duncan’s attention. “Mr. McLagan, I appreciate this little stroll through ancient history, but what—if anything—does this have to do with making illegal whiskey?”

“I’m about to get to that part, Judge. We don’t hardly ever need foldin’ money. “But…” Duncan took another deep breath. Mattie was in a mild state of shock. She couldn’t remember Duncan using that many words at one time in her whole life.

“But,” Duncan continued, “when it comes to payin’ our property taxes, then the gov’ment says we gotta have cash money. That’s where moonshine comes in. Now, Judge, you may not know this, but I got six boys and I keep them busy moonshinin’. If I can’t do that, they’ll get bored with nothin’ constructive to do and who knows what kind of devilment they might get up to. The long and the short of it is, I feel it’s my civic duty to continue to make shine for the peace and prosperity of Dawsonville and this entire county. I thank you.”

Duncan bowed and sat down. The audience laughed, rose to their feet and gave him a hardy round of applause.

“Since this is your first offense, or at least the first time you’ve been caught, I’m inclined to be lenient,” the judge said.” If I let you off with a caution, do you think you could refrain from making illegal whiskey?”

Duncan knew what he should say, but the momentum of his speech and the sweet sound of the applause temporarily robbed him of all reason. In his most sincere voice he said, “Judge, I could promise to do my best, but to tell you the honest-to-God truth, I just don’t think I can give up moonshinin’. I’d feel too guilty.”

The courtroom broke into laughter again. And so it was, that in the Year of Our Lord 1940, Duncan McLagan was sentenced to a year and a day to be served in the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.


/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

Get more sneak previews

Jim and I have been working on a DIY project that is taking much longer than expected.

So I'm late posting here...but read on.

“Think you know about or aren’t interested in moonshine? Dirt tracks? NASCAR’s birth? WWII? You will be when you see them through the eyes of the characters in Thunder and White Lightning.

Betty Hanacek, Georgia


 “The narrative was great. I learned a lot about NASCAR and its origin especially the fact that it originated from the escapades of moonshiners outrunning the feds.”

(

Tom Moriarty, New Jersey



They came to Daytona from everywhere: New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts and, of course, from Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Bill France was wasting no time in setting up his new organization on a national basis.

At 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, France called the meeting to order. “Gentlemen, we have the opportunity to set this up on a big scale. First, we need a name, I suggest the National Stock Car Racing Association.”

“Somebody’s already using that,” Red Vogt said. “How ‘bout the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, NAS-CAR. You can actually say it, not like a bunch of strung-out letters nobody can remember.” NASCAR was in.

“What about promoters who promise big money and then run off with the gate receipts?”

Contracts and enforcement were in.

Gus looked around and saw heads nodding. He wondered if he was the only one worried about where things might be headed.

“While we’re talking about money,” France said, “with NASCAR, you’ll get points for the number of races you enter, the number of wins, number of times you’re in the top five, or top ten and your total winnings. At the end of the season, you’ll get a bonus based on the number of points.”  The points system was in.

Ice cubs tinkled in glasses, overflowing ash trays were emptied and refilled and the group moved on to other topics. It was decided the first official race would be modified cars only because Detroit couldn’t make new cars fast enough. The modified race was in.

“What about the tracks?

“To be sanctioned by NASCAR,” France said, “they’ll have to abide by our rules. That may not sound like much right now, but believe me when we go national, the name NASCAR is gonna put the fear of God in a lot of folks.” France seemed to sense that he was losing his audience. “Let’s break for dinner. Steak and lobster, drinks, all on the house.”

When they reconvened the next morning, Red Vogt spoke up. “OK, we need one set of rules that all the tracks follow.” There was general agreement until someone asked, “Yeah, but who’s gonna make the rules?”

“We are,” France said. “We got three more days to work out the details, but once we approve the rules, they’re gonna apply to all NASCAR sanctioned races and they will be strictly enforced.” Rules and enforcement were in.

Red Byron raised his hand. “I know nobody wants to talk about this, but we got ourselves one dangerous sport. We need some safety precautions.” Safety was in.

“And,” Byron continued, “we ought to have a way to help out when one of us gets hurt.”

Insurance and compensation were in.

That all sounded good, but Gus saw their wide-open sport being squeezed into a very narrow space. And he saw France as the only person controlling that space.

At the end of four days a lawyer drew up the papers and NASCAR was founded as a private corporation with Bill France as president.

Some folks didn’t think the idea would fly at all. Others decided just to bide their time. Nevertheless, it had been four history-making days and most of the participants were proud of what they had accomplished.

Red Vogt, who had known Bill France a long time said, “You mark my words, the next thing you know, NASCAR is gonna belong to Bill France.”

And that is exactly what happened.


Thunder and White Lightning is now available on AMAZON!

Exciting news.  I'm still posting quotes and excerpts, so stay tuned.

“My husband grew up in the 40s and he and his friends idolized Roy Hall and the other drivers. Thunder and White Lightning rang true to his teenage memories.”                      

Fontaine Draper, Georgia


“Hawthorne has combined real-life characters with fictional ones so seamlessly you can’t tell who’s who. So she’s given you a list of real people and their credentials at the front of the book.” 

James Reeve, Michigan

(

Sneal Preview of New Book, Thunder and White Lightning

I don't seem to be able to write books and keep up with blogs, FB and websites all at the same time. 

Thunder and White Lightning is almost ready to be released. Today I'm posting Sneak Preview #1. There will be more to come.

Read previews here and then click on the link to visit our website and read portions of Thunder and White Lightning.

"Thunder and White Lightning is an entertaining yarn. Buckle up, take a taste of shine and get ready for a ride that will keep you engaged, laughing, and begging for more.”

Nan Trainor, Massachusetts

Thunder and White Lightning’s setting in Dawsonville, Georgia is fitting given that it is the birthplace of stock car racing. Moonshine and bootlegging are a large part of our heritage.”

Bill Elliott, Georgia.  NASCAR Hall of Fame 2015

(

Me and E. Hemmingway go to Daytona

It is true that not having a writing project to work on can cause serious and unexpected consequences. This is the result of reading old poems, watching the Daytona 500 and having nothing constructive to do. 

 Mountain climbing, bull fighting and auto racing are the only true sports,

All the rest are just games.            Ernest Hemmingway


There was no joy in Mudville after Casey lost the game

“Mighty Casey” was a joke and kids snickered at his name

The fans all drank and cussed and wailed, but they could not find relief

So the government sent counselors to help them with their grief.

 The ease was gone from Casey’s manner, the sneer from Casey’s face,

He slowly left the ballpark, but he managed it with grace

He knew the game was over and the future he was facing,

So Casey put away his famous bat and took up auto racing.

New Year, New Resolutions

Like everyone else, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions…but it’s taken me this long to act on them.

Resolution #1.  Update this blog on a regular (at least once a week) basis.

So…here we go. Jim and I visited Daytona in December to do some last minute research for Thunder and White Lightning. (see pictures on FB) We visited the hotel where the rules for NASCAR were laid out in 1948. Also visited a lot of museums and Daytona Motor Speedway. The city is—and always has been—all about speed.

Who Am I Kidding?

I haven’t written here for a while because I’ve been traveling and doing a lot of additional research…. Who am I kidding?  I’ve been doing everything I can think of to avoid actually finishing  Thunder and White  Lightning. I have lived with these characters for nearly two years and when the book is finished I am going to miss them big time.


But I have a deadline for turning the manuscript over to my wonderful Beta Readers so I have to get it done. That said, I’m going to work on the next-to-last chapter.


        I've been writing this book for about a year, now it's time to read...seriously.

        Jim and I both start at page 1 and read straight through. We track characters, we keep track of the passage of time, we see if everyone has a presence all through the book, we check facts, etc. etc. etc. Then we compare notes and take a walk.

        All that is to say, don't look for another blog entry for about a week.

        Just in case you missed the monumental entry several days ago, I'm past the 80,000-word mark. That's about 200 typewritten pages. I still have a couple of chapters to go, but that comes after THE BIG READ.

 To be continued.....


Mattie McLagan is Leon’s wife and the mother of their eight boys. She is five foot two and slight of build, but she is solid as a rock. But she has a soft side. Shine is an all-purpose medicine in the hills and often the only pain-killer available. Mattie quietly delivers it to those who need it, but can’t afford it.

Her best friend is Emma Calhoun, her fun-loving neighbor. Mattie’s son Gus and Emma’s twins Skye and Finn were all born within minutes of each other. They grow up more like triplets than friends. Skye is on her way to becoming a beautiful woman and Gus has been in love with her forever. Finn is a wild card who sees no reason to look before he leaps.

Amos Calhoun is Leon’s next door neighbor, best friend and fellow moonshiner. He is Irish through and through. His son Finn’s real name is Patrick Fitzgerald, but Amos insists everyone call him Finn because “No son of mine is gonna be called Paddy, and that’s a fact.” Finn MacCool is a great Irish folk hero. As the story develops, we discover that Amos has a problem with making too much money. “I need just enough to pay me bills, having left-overs makes me nervous.”


I just passed 80,000 words and 200 typewritten pages.

That's a very big deal. Yea!

Thunder and White Lightning--The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Homer Webster is a Federal Agent, and although he is a revenuer and it’s his job to arrest Leon, he realizes moonshiners are just trying to make a living. “It’s getting late and there’s no use taking you to jail now. Go on home tonight, but be at my office by 9:00 tomorrow.” And Leon was, because that’s the way things worked around Dawsonville, GA in 1940.

Back in 1925, the middle of Prohibition, agents seized nearly 30,000 stills and arrested over 76,000 people! However when Prohibition was over and there were no more gangsters to arrest, agents from big northern cities were send to the south and things got ugly.


        For me, the hardest part of writing a book is the text for the back cover. If has to tell the reader enough about the book to make them want to read it without telling them about the book. (No plot line,no list of characters)

       I spent all day yesterday writing three paragraphs. I finally came up with something that works. Here it is.

“I wrote about people who had gumption.”  Margaret Mitchell

       So did I. The Scots-Irish who settled in the North Georgia mountains were certainly people with gumption. In Thunder and White Lightning you’ll meet the off-beat characters who faced the world head-on and did it with a quirky sense of humor and a hankering for adventure.

       They found that red clay was only good for two things. It would grow corn which they turned into moonshine to support their families and pay their taxes. It was also the perfect surface for dirt tracks for hopped-up whiskey cars, stock cars and eventually NASCAR races.

       They were fiercely independent, patriotic, fractious, inventive, compassionate, droll and unpredictable, but never boring. Thunder and White Lightning starts easy, picks up speed and sails through the checkered flag with red dust flying. You’re invited to ride shotgun and see what the ruckus is all about!


I’ve changed the title! Runnin’ Shine was a title that fit when I started the book. However, as the story and the characters developed, it became a lot more than a tale of moonshine.

The new title is Thunder and White Lightning. From hidden stills to the roar of hopped-up whiskey cars on dirt tracks to the birth of NASCAR, it’s a helluva ride and it all starts with moonshine.

Character #1 Leon McLagan

Leon McLagan is married to Mattie and his youngest son is Gus. He’s a moonshiner and a respected member of the Dawsonville community. Yes, in the 1940s you could be both. Leon gets busted by a local revenuer and although he is usually a quiet man, when he gets his day in court, he gets carried away explaining his proud Scot heritage to a judge and ends up in the Atlanta Federal Pen for a year and a day.

Runnin' Shine - progress report

Jim has suggested I get back into the habit of writing a blog about my new book, Runnin’ Shine, down highway nine.

I stopped writing because I was spending more time doing research than I was writing. Moonshine is an interesting subject, but to write about it I had to learn it’s history, how it was made, how moonshiners and bootleggers are different, what whiskey trippers do…and that led to Model T’s and that led to how do they work, and that led to how mechanics made them run faster and that led to revenuers who chased the trippers and eventually that led to Prohibition and that led to….well you get the idea.

I drove to Dawsonville, the one-time heart of the moonshine trade, visited ASW Atlanta’s Hometown Distillery, went to a dirt track race in Senoia, did a drive-by of the Atlanta Federal Pen (because one of my characters does time there for not paying taxes on moonshine) and took a tour of Talladega Raceway, just to mention a few trips.

Eventually I worked my way to WWII, basic training, shipping out, serving in Europe, the Normandy Beach Invasion, getting wounded, coming home, going back to dirt-track racing, and eventually to the birth of NASCAR.

The story starts in 1940 and ends in 1950. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first draft. I just don’t know how to make research interesting without telling you the whole story of the book. 

All this stuff so far, is just the setting of the story. I haven’t even mentioned the characters yet.

It has been a fascinating ride but rather than drown you in facts, I’ll introduce you to some of the characters.  Stay tuned.

By the way - at the top it says "No Comments". This is misleading. It is not an instruction.  If you click on it, it will bring up a screen where you can leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Road Trip

      Missed a day because the internet was down.

      Jim and I took a weekend trip and had several hours in the car to play "What If."  I've found it's the best place to work out plot lines and fix weak spots.

      I don't know if it's the forward motion of the car or that you're isolated with no distractions, but it works.

      We identified what was missing--tension and drama--in  the first chapters and I'm back at work with lots of new ideas.

Working from the other end

       Writing books is fun...a lot of research and work, but fun. Selling books? Not so much.

        However, last night I met with a book club and had a great time talking about Crossing the Moss Line and introducing them to the characters in my other two books, Shorter's Way and Waterproof Justice. Made some new friends and sold some books. That's my kind of promotion!

       Worked on chapter 7 of the new book yesterday, but realized I needed to do some more research before I could finish. So that's my task for today.

Moonshine is still around

As I said yesterday, our first stop was the Dawsonville Distillery, small batch, hand-craft distillery and home to Bill Elliot’s Moonshine! (The City Hall is in the same building. Gotta love it!)

I bought books (of course) Mountain Spirits and More Mountain Spirits by Joseph Earl Dabney. Apparently these are the Bible of Moonshine because they keep popping up in my other research. The third book is Driving with the Devil, Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR.

I also started learning a new vocabulary: backins, bead, beer (it’s not what you think, it’s the first stage of whiskey making, fermented mash) doubling liquor, malt, mash, worm, proof, thump barrel, trippers (that’s not what you think either, it’s moonshine haulers) the list is endless. And this was only the beginning.

Catching up from the beginning

OK, let’s go back to the beginning. I was looking for a subject for a new book and decided to explore the gold rush here in Georgia. Jim and I went to Dahlonega, I bought some books, we went through the museum and even panned for gold. All interesting, but the gold rush started in 1829 which is about a hundred years outside my comfort zone.

On the way home we discovered the Dawsonville Moonshine Festival. Good subject, right time frame. So I bought some books, we went through the museum, visited a local (legal) moonshine distillery and even tasted white lightning. (Are you beginning to see a pattern here?) Turns out Highway #9 from Dawsonville to Atlanta was whiskey road for the trippers (drivers of the whiskey cars).  I was hooked and so began this story.

New Book in the works

I’m working on a new book and a friend from way back in junior high days suggested I write a daily blog again. Since I’ve come to a fork in the road with the writing and I’m not sure which way to go, that seemed like a good idea… and perhaps a solution to my problem.

So here goes! The name of the book is RUNNIN’ SHINE down Highway 9. It’s about Georgia moonshine in the 1920’s and 30’s and how the whiskey trippers (drivers) laid the foundation for what became NASCAR.

 Here’s my elevator speech (the whole book in 35 words or less).  Runnin’ Shine is about three friends who start out owning moonshine stills and end up owning a racing team in NASCAR. BTW, one of them is a girl.

Crossing the Moss Line Wins Awards

I am really excited to announce that Crossing the Moss Line has won the 5th Annual Beverly Hills International Book Award for Regional Fiction.


This is in addition to being named Runner-up in the BookLife Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book, Southeast Region.


The latest email came yesterday. It was a great way to start the holiday season.


And while I have your attention, why not go to where you can read sample chapters of Shorter’s Way, Waterproof Justice and Crossing the Moss Line. FREE of course. If one of them catches your attention, go to to order or visit your favorite online bookstore. They make great gifts and you don’t have to worry about sizes or colors. 


If you live in Peachtree Hills, you can buy them directly. Just stop by 11 Roanoke and save shipping and handling.  I’ll even gift wrap them for you.

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Showdown at Senoia

When you start doing research you never know where it’s going to take you and mine has taken me to a mountain moonshine festival, an authentic moonshine distillery (legal, of course) and now to a dirt track stock car race.


Yep, this Saturday Jim and I will be in the grandstands at the Senoia Raceway waiting for the race to begin at 3:30.  We’ll see Hobby, Bomber, Mini, B Cadets, Super Late Models, Limited Late Models and Crate Late Models….whatever in the world they are.


Buckle your seat belts it’s going to be an exciting ride!!!

Meet Bird, one of the main characters in Crossing the Moss Line

One of the major characters in Crossing the Moss Line is Bird, a young boy who is also a talented artist. My problem in creating him was that I am NOT an artist. I don’t know how artists see or think or feel or deal with the world.

So I turned to my friend Richard Clark (E. Richard Clark) who is an artist and he helped me bring Bird to life. Richard grew up in the south in roughly the same time frame and circumstances as Bird. When he told me, “I always knew that I could draw anything I could see,” I knew I had found my inspiration.


Richard did not read Crossing the Moss Line until it was published, but when he heard about this event he said, “I have a painting I did some time ago and I think it’s what Bird looks like.”


And he was right. Meet Bird by clicking on Crossing the Moss Line, then click on “Bird.”


There is probably a definition for this kind of parallel creativity, but I prefer to think of it as magic.

First step, find a story

As you know I’m looking for a subject for my next book and I may have found it…well not exactly. I still don’t have a story, but I may have a subject.

Jim and I just spent a week in the Georgia mountains. I did some research about the Georgia gold rush. Interesting, but about 100 years out of my time frame. 1849 rather than 1940.

Then I decided to explore the pottery culture in the area. Interesting subculture, but I have to work to put some drama in pottery.

Then I ran across the Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville and I thought that was very promising. Interesting subject, plenty of drama and an opportunity to create lots of characters.

Now if I just had a story……

Remember Tupperware Parties???

All the rage now are virtual book tours or blog tours which all promise a big increase in sales.

Trouble is, they get your name out there, but don’t sell books. People buy books and apparently they like to buy them from actual people.


A friend hosted the First Official Neighborhood Book Launch Party for my latest book, Crossing the Moss Line, and we sold 40 books.  Amazing and great fun!!!


So, I’ve decided to go really old school. I’m working to set up monthly Tupperware Parties without the Tupperware. Same principle, new product.  For each of these Neighborhood Book Launch Parties, the host supplies the people and light refreshments, I supply everything else: custom-designed email invitations, wine, decorations, prizes, cups, plates, napkins, a photo display and of course BOOKS.  I’ll also be meeting with book clubs whenever I’m invited.


So far, I’ve lined up a meeting with one of my favorite book clubs, Wine, Women and Words and a wine-tasting, book-signing, photo-viewing event with pH Wine Merchants. This one is free and open to the public, so come join us October 29, from 2P:00 – 4:P00 at pH Wine Merchants. 


Negotiations are on-going for an event in December and April. Stay tuned for more information. And if you’d like to host an event, by all means, let me know. 

Keep your fingerd crossed!

One way to publicize a new book is to submit it to competitions. I did that with my first book, Shorter’s Way, and won an Independent Publisher Award for Best Regional Fiction.


I’ve submitted Crossing the Moss Line and as part of their judging process I received the following Critic’s Report from The BookLife Prize in Fiction:


“In this novel, set on Ibo Island during the early 1940’s, readers are reminded that “good comes from bad” as a variety of characters make decisions that have unintended consequences. Well-developed and slightly shady characters bring the action to life in a skillfully crafted tale. Hawthorne has evidently researched Southern folklore, making this an authentic and enjoyable story.”


Here’s my score:

Plot/Idea: 9

Originality: 7

Prose: 8

Character/Execution: 10

Overall: 8.50


I hope that means I’m in the running for bigger and better things. Keep your fingers crossed.

Now it Begins!!!

Blog here.

Crossing the Moss Line is now official and the business of  launching it begins. Friday September 9 Doug Dahlgren hosted a one-hour interview with me on American’s Web Radio. Here’s the link: 

Sunday September 11 we had the first neighborhood Book Launch Party. It was a huge success, nearly 60 people showed up and we sold 40 books!!!      Special thanks to hosts Betty Hanacek and Ron Loines.

 I’m beginning to line up appearances with book clubs and—on a totally different note—Jim and I have photographs at Artist Atelier Gallery and their reception is Saturday, September 17. It’s a busy, exciting time.



Radio Interview

I'm being interviewed on American Web Radio tomorrow morning. You can hear the broadcast at at 11am. Just "click" on the radio icon's play button.

The show will play live like an mp3 in your computer.

On Monday, Sept 12, when the podcast is ready, it will be posted on Doug Dahlgren's  archive page :

Hope you'll tune in. I'll be talking about my latest book, Crossing the Moss Line.

Empty Nest

I love getting up every morning and checking in with my characters to see what they’re up to. But once I’ve finished a book, I’m lost. I’ve spend months living with these people and all of a sudden, they don’t need me any more. Talk about empty-nest syndrome!!


It was either stick my head in the oven, or take a vacation. So, Jim and I went to New England and went whale-watching. AWESOME!!! (See picture)


Next thing is the official Book Launch Party, which is being hosted by neighborhood friends Betty Hanacek and Ron Loines.  If you live in the neighborhood, you’re invited. (See invitation)


You can get your copy of Crossing the Moss Line before the official launch by visiting or ordering it from your favorite online bookstore. You can also see more vacation pictures and read a couple of chapters FREE  at

Here is the information about the launch party.




Sunday, September 11, 3:00 - 6:00
147 Springdale Drive


Latest News

Crossing the Moss Line is now available at or from your favorite online book store. 

My long-suffering husband, Jim, has redesigned and updated our website to include the new book.  It looks great. If you have a minute, check it out at

And then please, send him an email to tell him how you like it.


I was on the program at the 14th Day for Women by Women's Imaginative Guild of Storytellers (WIGS) and told a story about Irma Rombauer who wrote Joy of Cooking.
Because of her inexperience, she got talked into signing over the copyright to her original self-published book to Bobbs Merrill Publishing.
They didn't know diddly about cookbooks, but they did know about promotion.  Since it first came out in 1931, JOC has sold 18 MILLION copies worldwide.

As a vendor at the event, I didn't sell 18 million copies of Crossing the Moss Line, but I did sell 18 copies, which isn't too bad for a first outing.
Thanks to all the new readers.  Enjoy!  


Whew!!!  After all this time, Crossing the Moss Line is actually here. I will be introducing the book at the 14th Annual Day of Discovery for Women at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, Saturday, July 30.

 You can order your copy right now. Just click on this link, or go to and enter the title, Crossing the Moss Line. You can read the first two chapters FREE.


Crossing the Moss Line is also available from your favorite online book store and it is downloadable to your e-reader.

 Now comes the hard part, promotion. You can play a big part by posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads and sharing information through your social media.  

 Hope you enjoy Crossing the Moss Line.  I'd love to hear from you.




/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}


There are many, many, many steps in getting an idea to a manuscript, to book layout, to page proofs, to cover design, to the printer, to UPS, to the publisher, to their website, to Amazon, to all the online bookstores, etc., etc., etc.

As you can see from our home page, we have a  professionally designed cover. Todd Engle has done a great job once again...he also designed the cover for Waterproof Justice.

You can also read a couple of chapters there.

So now we wait again. It's up to the printer.

Good Omen

I just played a perfect game of solitaire.  That's got to be a good omen, right?

Maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket.



The page proofs have be read and returned to the publisher.


The photos for the cover have been uploaded to the designer.


A pre-publication order has been placed for books.


And now we wait…..

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

One Step Closer

I'm reading page proofs, the last reading before everything becomes final. I've found a few typos.  I honestly believe they create themselves when no one is looking.

FYI, there was an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about Geechee life.  Interesting. Google Geechee Life Endures to read it.

It's Done!!!


Here’s a mock-up of the cover.

The manuscript and art work have been submitted to the publisher. I used part of a quote from friend and author Morgan James (Author of the Promise McNeal mystery series and the Southern novel, Sing Me An Old Song) on the front cover. It says “Crossing the Moss Line is a Southern tale spiced with drama, authentic dialogue and just the right amount of wicked humor.”

            Go to to read the first two chapters and learn the release date as soon as it becomes available. 

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

What do you think?

The back cover material is supposed to tempt readers to buy your book.  Here's mine, finally. As usual it taken me almost as long to write this as it did to write the book. What do you think?

Newton's third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In other words, actions can frequently cause surprising and unintended consequences.



         …the Geechee people are brought to Ibo Island,

…Cora Strayhorn causes an accident,

…the Donegan sisters are resurrected,

 …Lucile Dupree gets thwarted again,

…Granny Johnson tricks the bank man,

…Matt Reeve finally gets caught,

…Butch Dupree and his gang run amuck,

…Bird Hamlin disappears,

…Dr. Buzzard works some white magic,

…the Mayor sets up a secret poker game,

…Hattie Tuscano agrees to run a cathouse,

…and an unexpected guest comes to visit…


…that’s when the chicanery and the machinations begin.

Change is hard

This has nothing to do with my book, but it has a lot to do with my work.

I got a new office chair…after 40 years. It’s nice, but it doesn’t “hold” me like my old chair. Over the years, we had gotten to be friends, it let me slouch, this one is making me sit up straight. I could lean back in my old chair and put my feet up on my desk. This one is reluctant to let me do that. My old chair was soft and comfortable. This one is firm. It gives me support, but it doesn’t support me, if you know w hat I mean.

            So why did I get rid (actually it’s still here) of the old one. Because the wheels came off, literally. We changed out the wheels to protect the hardwood floors and the replacements never quite fit. As a result, from time to time, a wheel or two would come off and dump me on the floor.

            So here I sit, uncomfortable and undecided.  What now?

One Step Closer

            Corrections are made. Revisions are done. I moved the sequence in several chapters around so they made more sense.  Even after reading his manuscript more times than I can count, I saw a couple of typos I missed before. 

            So now the whole thing is in the hands of the proofreader…who will undoubtedly find things we all (13 of us) missed.

             I’m working on front-of-the-book stuff.  And the beat goes on….

The Story Continues

I met with the Beta Readers last Wednesday and now I’m busy with revisions. The most amazing thing about working with this group of nine intelligent women, is that they all see different things. One is great for spotting anything to do with numbers. Another is more fact/history oriented. Another spots inconsistencies in the time line and they all spot different misspellings and typos.


            Jim and I spread out all the manuscripts on the dining room table and then page by page we go through them and consolidate the comments into one master copy. That’s the one I take into the office and use to correct my master file.


            So back to work. Have to get all the revisions done by May 31 so I can turn the manuscript over to the proofreader who will find things we all missed…guaranteed.


Tonight I meet with the beta readers to get their comments and feedback.

I'm both excited and nervous.
I'll be back tomorrow to let you know what happens.