Panning for Gold

Writing a scene today, in which the main character’s memories are sifting down to her from a painful past. She’s comparing the feeling to panning for gold. Check out this cool video I found on youtube to learn how it’s done and how to use the right terminology:

Now, if you’re still with me, here’s how it looks in the scene:

In the safety of my coupe again, I sit in the parking lot of the market, my hands on the wheel, my breath fogging the windows. Since Truman Parker came to town, the memories have swirled and concentrated, stratifying and settling themselves apart from the rest—like soil through a gold panner’s sluice. The worst memory of all seems to be coming for me, though I can’t yet see its shape.


Today’s one word prompt “chaos” in one hundred words or fewer.

Chaos & Chemistry

Remember the show, Get Smart?

CONTROL spies, Agents 86 and 99, were out to destroy the evil KAOS.

Bimagesut in 1965, I had no context for clever acronyms. I simply wanted to be Agent 99. Barbara Feldon’s lustrous bob, velveteen voice, and mod little suits made her the distillation of cool. And how she longed for her partner, bumbling Agent 86! Though she batted her lush lashes and gazed at him with adoration as he muttered into a shoe/transmitter, he remained oblivious.

The dissonance created some of television’s first sexual tension, to-die-for chemistry, and “emotional KAOS” for Agent 99. Chaos

The Book Bracelet

Miss Ruth.

The administrator that took a chance on me, hiring me to teach fresh off the college vine. A fine teacher in her own right, Ruth taught me as much about myself as she did about nurturing and educating children.

Fast forward twenty-five years.

Ruth has since retired, but in all my years, she is still the best administrator I ever had. Recently, she and I reconnected via facebook. One day she asked for my snail mail address, and I curiously awaited what the mail would bring.

Ruth had learned that I had ventured into a second career, full-time writing. I opened a pretty, decorated box with this special silver book bracelet tucked inside. The note read, “. . . I am so proud of your achievements in teaching and now writing. You are an exceptional young woman, and I love you.”

Miss Ruth. IMG_8500.jpg

Ahhh, Sweet Young Love . . .

Here’s a Valentine’s Day excerpt from GEORGIE GIRL.

On Valentine’s Night, Truman arrived early to pick me up for our double date with Lacey and Findley. My parents kindly left us alone in the living room.

Truman looked adorable in a big, army green parka. Pulling a heart shaped box of candy from his pocket, he shrugged the coat from his shoulders, threw it across a chair, and caught me up in a kiss.

Breathless and grinning, I handed him his valentine, not a thought of Kelly on my radar. Lacey could assume anything she wanted, but I knew my virtue was proven. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Legacy.”

He unwound the blue cashmere scarf his parents had given him for Christmas that made his eyes hot sapphires. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Georgie Girl.”

He sat and ripped the envelope open with a thumb. My face pinked when he read the signature aloud.

“I love you too. Now, it’s your turn.” There were a lot of words inside my card. “I wrote you a poem.” He sniffed. “It’s not that great.” But his eyes skated my face as I silently read the words:

Georgie Girl

A boyish name belies

Her tender feminine ways.

Like her fingers through my hair,

Love twines through my days

Something stirred deep inside me. He liked it when I played with his hair. I read the words again, wanting to capture them like snowflakes on my tongue. “True, it’s too much.”

“Nah. You’re my sweetheart,” he murmured, the words roping around my heart.

My parents thumped around the back of the apartment, my mother calling to Ronnie to come get in the bathtub. Truman and I leaned against the back of the sofa. We kissed, our lips parting, melding. He slipped a hand into my hair, gathering it into a knot at the nape of my neck. Settling into his embrace, I kissed his cheek and earlobe, the one with the single freckle.

Ronnie popped up from behind the sofa. “Surprise!”

I screamed. Truman huffed out a breath of disbelief, his jaw appearing to have come unhinged. I was on my feet, ready to murder my brother.

“What the hell are you doing, you little monster?” I shouted. Ronnie scooched down and crawled from behind the sofa. He sprinted for the kitchen door and turned the knob, looking wildly over his shoulder. Our father jerked the door open.

My parents stood woodenly on the other side, my father’s face following Ronnie as he pushed roughly past.

“Do you know what that little brat did?” I said, my hands on my hips. I wanted to drag my brother by one scrawny arm down to the river and drown him.

“Back down, Georgie,” my father said.

“No, I won’t.”

My father raised his eyebrows about two inches. “Elizabeth George—”

“Georgie,” Truman said from the doorway. I’d all but forgotten he was there. He addressed my parents. “Ronnie played a little trick on us.”

“He invaded my privacy,” I said, my voice raised. “He had no business—”

“I don’t like your tone, Georgie,” my father said.

My mother sat down at the table where two cups waited for coffee, and turned my father’s chair around with her foot. He heaved a sigh, and sat looking up at me, with his long hands on his thighs.

“What in the world happened?” my mother asked.

“Ronnie was hiding behind the sofa.” I looked at Truman, who nodded slightly. “We were exchanging valentines. He jumped up and scared us half to death.”

“They were hugging and kissing, too,” Ronnie called from the safety of the hall.

Wanting to squash his head like a bug, I covered my face with my hands, but peeked through a crack at Truman, who was staring at his watch as though it had just appeared on his wrist.

“Ronnie,” my mother said, “please, go to your room.”

My hands fell. Were they going to let me have it for talking ugly to Ronnie in front of Truman?

My father scrubbed his hand over his mouth, his eyes moving between Truman and me.

“About your conduct with Truman . . .” my mother said.

My face flamed as brightly as the burner beneath the coffee pot. “We were just kissing.”

My father closed his eyes. “We didn’t know Ronnie was there,” I said feebly.

My father shot me a look. “This is not about Ronnie.”

“Georgie and Truman,” my mother said evenly. “It’s normal for you to want to share your affection, but remember when you’re in the throes of young love, it’s easy to get . . . swept away by feelings.”

My pulse raced with mortification. I could feel the heat coming off Truman’s face.

He turned to me. “Your parents are right. What we were doing was inappropriate.”

The only thing holding me up was breathing. What? We weren’t doing anything wrong, I said with my eyes. The rattling boil of the coffee pot drew our gazes. My mother got to her feet and lifted it from the stove.

Truman lowered his chin and spoke to my father. “I didn’t act like a gentleman,” he said miserably. “I imposed on your . . . hospitality. I’m sorry.”


My mother looked at me and raised a brow. But shock had taken my tongue and lopped it off. “We know you’re a gentleman, honey,” she said.

My father stood and put a hand on Truman’s shoulder. “Thank you, Truman. Considering your apology, you may still escort Georgie to the movies as planned. But we’ll expect you to have her in this door by curfew and then say goodnight.”

“Yes, sir. Absolutely.”

“We’ll talk with you when you get home,” my mother said to me.

Truman and I retrieved our coats and left the apartment.

“Want my scarf?” he asked.

I glared at him. “No!”


“You took my parents’ side and embarrassed the heck out of me! How could you?” My teeth chattered with rage. Truman unwrapped his scarf. I shook off his hand. “I don’t want your damned scarf.”

. . . 

Out of Leftovers?

You can still enjoy an excerpt from the Thanksgiving chapter in GEORGIE GIRL.


Truman and I sat at the kitchen table on Thanksgiving morning, buttering tins for cornbread. Though anxiety nibbled at my midsection, I feasted on Truman. The proud blue of his shirt would have been embarrassed if it could have seen the blue of the boy’s eyes—it was just that superior. And I’d never seen Truman in faded jeans. He looked sort of . . . rugged for the first time, his gold-straw hair shaggier than ever.

It had been days since he had kissed me. With Kelly arriving soon, I needed the seal of Truman’s sweet lips as a talisman.

My mother and Ronnie were out gathering natural materials for the Thanksgiving table decorations.

I batted my eyelashes at him. “Will you kiss me now that we’re alone?”

Truman looked toward the living room where my father was reading the paper, frowned, and drew his finger across his neck in a slit-my-throat gesture.

I sighed.

My mother and Ronnie came in then, their cheeks rosy from the wind, the old wicker picnic basket full of clippings. Ronnie pulled a pair of dull shears from his tool belt as though he were drawing a gun.

“I cut the branches,” he said.

“I’ll take those, sir,” my mother said, snaring the shears. She shivered. “It’s nice and warm in here. Smell that turkey! Thanks for helping, Truman.”

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Bricker,” he said, wiping his hands on a dishtowel.

I wrinkled my nose and stuck my tongue out at him.

“I’ll help Tru-man!” Ronnie said. With a finger, he wiped the spills Truman had made around the muffin cups, licking the salt-buttery batter.

“Our maid never let me lick batter,” Truman said. Then he chuckled. “My father said Lizzie made Howard Hughes look positively devil-may-care when it came to germs. Father got a big kick out of teasing her—fake coughing and sneezing and stuff in the kitchen.”

Ronnie’s green eyes widened. “Not even cookie dough?”

“Nope.” Ronnie looked at Truman as though he’d spent his childhood chained to a rack in a rat-infested basement and climbed into his lap.

“We always eat cookie dough,” I said.

“And lick the beaters,” Ronnie said happily, bouncing on Truman’s knee.

“Georgie, please arrange these branches in the vase with the fluted top,” my mother said.

At a knock-knock, knock-knock on the door, Ronnie jumped down. “It’s Miss Foxie!”

Miss Foxie had said her “Brobdingnagian brood” in Leesburg wore her out, so she would spend the day with us. Ronnie told her that he put the teeny marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. He’d also eaten half the bag while my mother’s back was turned.

Truman stood. “Happy Thanksgiving, Miss Frame.”

“And to you, Mr. Parker,” she said. “Your paper on “The Prince and the Pauper” was quite good. I enjoyed your perspective on the theme that clothes make the man.”

“Thank you.”

“Asher, will you pull out the turkey?” my mother said.

At another knock-knock-knock, I froze.

“I’ll get it!” Ronnie cried. “I bet it’s Kelly!”

Though sheepish-faced, Kelly, in yet another gorgeous pullover sweater—plum and a pair of pressed gray slacks—looked as though he had stepped from a movie screen.

“Welcome, Kelly,” my mother said, her face flushed from the stove. “Georgie, will you introduce Kelly to Truman?”

Oh, Lord. Just kill me now. Why did my parents have to be so charitable anyway?

My stomach a fist, I introduced the boys and watched them exchange hellos that anyone else would have found ordinary.

“Hello,” Kelly said, his hands in his pockets.

Truman moved to shake Kelly’s hand. “Kelly. Nice to meet you.”

My pulse picked up. As the two shook hands, I looked from my darling boyfriend to my . . . friend. The two formed a tableau: the clear blue-eyed sun that warmed and soothed me by day, and the murky moon that tugged at a mystical and unexamined tide.

My father’s voice boomed. “Dinner’s on the table.”

Miss Foxie was feeling her oats. “How would you like for us to sit? Boy-girl-boy-girl?”

A lamb to the slaughter, I closed my eyes and waited for God to take me by the shoulders and steer me to my predestined place. I opened my eyes as Truman pulled out a chair for me and then seated himself to my left. And sliding into the chair on my right, like a brand new key into a lock? Kelly McGee.

“Oh!” my mother cried, rising from her post at the end of the table opposite my father. “I forgot the cranberry sauce!”

“I’ll get it, Mom,” I said, hopping up.

In the kitchen, I ran my wrists under cool tap water, willing my cantering heart to slow to a walk. Then, I upended the can of sauce over a dish, and shook it. The jellied purple blob slid out with a long smmuuckk.

Taking a deep breath, I rounded the corner.

When I was seated again, my father began the blessing. “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this splendid feast and the loving hands that prepared it. We are grateful for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us, and for those you have gathered to share our bounty. Amen.”

“Amen,” we all echoed.

My father stood to carve the turkey. He raised one of the wings, making it wave at Ronnie. “How many for white meat?”

“I want a drumstick in my tummy right now!” Ronnie said.

My mother looked at my brother as though she wanted to snatch the carving knife from my father’s grasp and use it to lop off Ronnie’s head.

“Son, that’s impolite,” my father said.

Kelly shifted, his leg nudging mine. “I prefer dark meat, Mr. Bricker, a thigh.”

I brought my glass to my lips, my teeth clicking against the rim.

Kelly passed the stuffing to me, and a whiff of musk rose above celery and sage.

“How’s that drumstick, buddy?” Truman asked Ronnie.

My father passed the breadbasket to my mother and bussed her cheek. “Everything’s delicious, Juli.”

“It is, honey, this stuffing is perfection,” Miss Foxie said.

My parents talked to Miss Foxie about her Christmas plans. I pushed the food around on my plate, feeling Kelly’s presence like a caul.

“Good cranberry sauce, Georgette,” he said. “Did you make it yourself?”

“Hardy-har-har,” I said, but stifled a grin.

Truman took my hand beneath the tablecloth.

“Georgie’s holding Truman’s hand!” Ronnie crowed. “He’s her BOY-friend!”

Kelly’s thigh pressed mine. Mortification burned a path from my knees to my neck as I peeked at him. He grinned around a bite of stuffing.

Truman tickled Ronnie’s ribs. “What do you know about boyfriends?”

As Ronnie wheezed with laughter, grins popped like flashbulbs around the table.

“Who wants dessert?” my mother asked.

After the dishes were cleared and soaking beneath a mound of suds, my mother and Miss Foxie shooed us all from the kitchen and Kelly mercifully left for home, but not before giving me a big wink behind Truman’s back.

Suddenly, I had to be alone with Truman.

I asked my mother if I could show him my room.

She studied the two of us. “Well, just for a minute. Keep the door open.” . . .

No Trick, Just A Sneak-Peek Treat

From Chapter Nine of My New Book Georgie Girl

Halloween night, a gravid moon hovered above the night-purple ridge. Browning was a veritable paradise for trick-or-treating, but Lacey and I decided we were finally a bit long in the tooth for it, and decided to pass out candy to the faculty children from her house.
At a quarter past six, the Kane children arrived. Miss Heather hovered in the background in low-cut hip huggers, smiling a mellow kitten’s smile. Clover (a geisha in kabuki make-up, only her light eyes giving her away) and Blue (a silent ghost in a sheet) dropped their popcorn balls into plastic jack-o-lanterns. Clover murmured, “Thank you very much,” for them both.
Ronnie and my dad arrived next. Ronnie dressed as a cowboy, wore his hat cocked back on his head, a chocolate smudge in one corner of his mouth. He cocked a plastic pistol. “Stick ’em up!” he said with a scowl. “And gimme all your candy.”
We all cracked up, even Karen—coming out of the kitchen with a popcorn ball, her hair rolled on empty orange juice cans.
“I taught him that,” my father said smugly as Lacey dropped a big handful of Hershey Kisses into Ronnie’s bag. Ronnie popped his tongue up towards his nose making a little triangle of yum, then grinned like Howdy Doody.
Tom St. James rang the bell at 7:05. Karen had asked her parents if she could meet Tom in the parking lot, but Mr. Howard had said nothing doing. Tom wore a collared sweater and a pair of striped bell-bottoms like Greg Brady’s. But unlike Greg, this man—no way you could look at him and think boy—smoldered with carnality the likes of which Lacey and I had never seen. We stood like a pair of ventriloquist’s dummies, gazing at his sherry eyes, his two open snaps worth of chest hair.
“Is Karen ready?” he asked, his lazy smile the essence of cool.
A wave of Karen’s smoky Shalimar made it to the door before she did. She put her arms around Lacey’s and my shoulders and turned us around as though the three of us were conjoined. “Good night, ladies,” she said, and was gone.
I looked at Lacey and gulped.
“Holy Halloween,” she whispered.
We watched a double feature on TV, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, with Lacey’s parents. Lacey and I ate candy until our faces tingled from the sugar.
When the Mattsons finally went to bed a third of the way into the second feature, Lacey and I unfolded the sofa bed and turned the sound all the way down on the TV. Putting on our pajamas, we tucked in.
Lacey had decided she like-liked Findley, who had told her she was pretty at the last salon. “But how would I kiss him?” she asked. She jumped up and pretended the coat rack was Findley. Pooching out her lips, she tipped Mr. Howard’s rain hat to her face and made passionate smooching noises until I had to smother my laughter with a pillow.
Finally, we lay in the darkness watching the stippled reflection of the river on the ceiling, the sweep of lights from a slow-moving barge. Around a yawn, Lacey said, “If Truman kisses you, you better tell me about it before anybody.”
I yawned back. “You’ll be the first to know.” The Bride of Frankenstein rose from the operating table, her neck and arms all jerky, the whites of her eyes showing all around, her skunk-striped hair standing two feet from her head. I giggled. “Look at her hairdo!”
But Lacey was asleep.

I roused at midnight when Karen came in, softly humming the Beatle’s “Come Together”. Lacey snored softly, her cat curled like a skein of wool at her side. Karen tiptoed into the kitchen. The breadbox clunked open and then the fridge. The mayonnaise jar lid whisked open. I drowsed.
Karen crept through the living room at half-past twelve, trailing Shalimar, ham, and something alien, something skunky and sweet at the same time. I’d have given a big toe to know the secrets she kept.
Suddenly, I wished that I were Karen’s age. That Lacey and I could just zoom over the years the way the Jetson’s space car zoomed over stalling traffic in the cartoon. We would be beautiful and cool like Karen, our boyfriends handsome and manly like Tom.
Kelly’s shoulders, his body would be like Tom’s. Kelly’s body? I thought, my heart bumping. Why had it come to mind instead of Truman’s? I flipped onto my stomach, scrubbing my face into the pillow, and trying to picture Truman as older and manly, but the image was like a poorly focused Polaroid. But Kelly’s leg, his sharply pressed khaki pants, the hot smell of him in the backseat . . .
I sat up, my pajamas feeling clammy. “Lacey, wake up.”
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Let’s go scare Kelly.”
“Kelly? What for?”
“’Cause it’s Halloween. We had our treats; we should play a trick.”
“Why Kelly?” she said, her eyes narrowing.
“’Cause he lives here in Sperry. We could knock on his window and run.”
“Did Karen come in?”
“Yeah. She went to bed,” I said, reaching for my hairbrush.
Lacey nodded slowly, a pillow crease bisecting one cheek. And then she grinned. “That would be pretty good.” She looked toward the hall door. “But we can’t be gone long.”

I bent to tug on a sneaker. “We’ll be quick.”

* * *

We stood in the backyard of Sperry, regarding the first-floor faculty apartment windows by moonlight. “Which one is Kelly’s?” I asked, clutching Lacey’s fingers.
“Shhh! Do you want to wake up the whole building? I’m not sure. But it probably has Bozo the Clown curtains.” I stifled a giggle as we treaded the path rimmed with snatchy holly bushes. In the second window from the end, shadowy objects stood out against a white drape; a scattering of baseball cards, a peely-labled pickle jar, and the back of what looked like a greeting card. Here’s a message for you, Kelly, I thought, buzzy with anticipation. Lacey whispered. “Are you going to knock?”
“Yes, you! This was your idea.”
I squinted at the window and grinned. “Okay. I’ll bang on the frame, and we’ll run. On three.” A light went on behind the drape, like the downward glow of a desk lamp. My heart ricocheting like bats in a box, I beat on the frame: wham-wham-wham! Lacey ducked to the ground. “Run, Lacey!”
But Lacey was a helpless lump on the dirt path, gasping with a fresh spate of giggles. I tugged at her hand, glancing wildly up. There, in the window, stood Kelly McGee, shirtless and shock-faced. Chest hair! I thought my eyeballs would tumble to the path and I’d have to scoop them up.
“Lacey, move!” I hissed. Kelly’s hand grasped the window lever.
“Who’s out there?” he said.
As the window tilted open, I pulled Lacey to her feet. He can’t see us with his light on.
“What’s going on, son?” Mr. John sounded foggy and mad.
Just before Lacey and I lurched away—the hollies tearing at our pajamas—Kelly’s dark eyes caught mine. “Just a couple of pranksters,” he said, scratching his chest, and then pulled the window closed.

Playlist for Georgie Girl

One of the elements that make Georgie Girl, set in the early seventies, so fun and relatable is the plethora of music references sprinkled throughout the story. But I was amazed to find that I included over 40 songs. Here are the tunes in the order they appear in the manuscript–before my editor starts snipping away! Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Me and Bobby McGee- Janis Joplin

My Sweet Lord- George Harrison

A Taste of Honey- Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

25 or 6 to 4- Chicago

The Monster Mash- Bobby Pickett

Come Together- The Beatles

Brandy- Looking Glass

Voo Doo Child- Jimi Hendrix

Jezebel- Edith Piaf

Proud Mary- Creedence Clearwater Revival

We’ve Only Just Begun- The Carpenters

Brown Sugar- The Rolling Stones

Joy to the World- Three Dog Night

Venus- Shocking Blue

I Want to Take you Higher- Ike & Tina Turner

Your Song- Elton John

Colour My World- Chicago

Georgie Girl- The Seekers

The Theme from Love Story- Henry Mancini

I’ll Be There- The Jackson Five

Merry Christmas Darling- The Carpenters

The Twelve Gifts of Christmas- Alan Sherman

Wild World- Cat Stevens

The Marseillaise- de Lisle

Half Breed- Cher

Ohio- Neil Young

Elenore- The Turtles

Classical Gas- Mason Williams

Stairway to Heaven- Led Zeppelin

Travelin Man- The Doobie Brothers

Smile a Little Smile for Me- The Flying Machine

Julie, Julie, Julie, Do Ya Love Me?- Bobby Sherman

Me and You and a Dog Named Boo- Lobo

Temptation Eyes- The Grass Roots

Theme from Shaft- Isaac Hayes

Maggie May- Rod Stewart

Respect- Aretha Franklin

You’ve Got a Friend- Carole King

Only Love Can Break Your Heart- Neil Young

So Far Away- Carole King

I’m So Tired of Being Alone- Al Green

You Wear it Well- Rod Stewart

The Long and Winding Road- The Beatles

Excerpt from my first book, In Robin’s Nest

I kissed and hugged Victoria affectionately the way a boyfriend would, but still didn’t feel the heat . . . the passion I’d felt for Robin. Robin. I wanted to get married and have a family. I didn’t have my first choice of a woman– maybe someone like Robin was a once in a lifetime shot. But Victoria was a good catch; the blending of our families would be a good one. I couldn’t go on living in the shadows of the things that might have been. I slipped out of the man that belonged to Robin like a snake shedding its skin.

In my bedroom at Villeneuve on Thanksgiving night, I reached behind my neck and released the clasp on the St. Thomas medal. It was warm in my palm from lying against my heart. For a moment I pictured Robin’s face again as she gave it to me. My heart squeezed with a long familiar pang.  I went through my chest of drawers and found the things I was looking for. I put them in a shoebox and taped around it with masking tape. With a magic marker, I wrote on it DEAN’S and slipped out to hide it in my secret boyhood cubbyhole in the barn.

At Christmastime, Leslie helped me pick out a sparkly half-karat diamond ring and I asked Victoria Babbitt to marry me.

Preview from Chapter 12

Asher Coaches Georgie on Bullies:

My father came in twenty minutes later, smelling of wood smoke from the Banks’s fireplace and the ink from the printing machine in Tillman. He pulled my desk chair toward the bed, turned it around backwards, and straddled it. I saw the pipe-shaped bulge in his shirt pocket and realized I hadn’t seen the pipe in his mouth in a long time. Maybe it had become to him like my lucky rabbit foot had become to me, something I didn’t need anymore. There were purple smudges on my father’s fingers. He saw me notice.

“I had a fight with the mimeograph machine, but I won,” he said with a grin. Then his face grew serious. “Georgie, your mother told me about your conversation, about your–eh problem with the McGee boy. I’d like to help.” He looked down at his hands.  “Shakespeare said–”

I groaned and covered my face with the French book. “Oh, Dad! The bard can’t solve every problem.”

“No, but his work spoke to almost every human condition. All I was going to say is ‘To thine own self be true.’”

The words washed over me. “I get it, Dad. I know I should stand up to Kelly, but he makes me feel so bad . . . so ugly and small,” I said miserably. “He has since I was about eight.”

“I’m sorry for that, sweet pea. I wish you had told your mother and me. Bullies lash out at others to try and redeem their self-worth. You have to learn not to play his game,” he said with a wink and tapped his temple with a finger.  “Make him play yours,” he added, punctuating his words with pokes to my knee.

“What game?”

“There are things you can put in your toolbox, words you can practice saying, gestures you can learn to use.” He shifted in the chair and lifted his chin. “Cite me an example of something Kelly’s said to you.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “He used to call me Georgie Porgie, you know from the nursery rhyme. Then he started calling me Georgie Porkie, like I’m fat.”

“Clearly you are not fat, Georgie,” my father said. “You know better than that.”

“I know. But he thinks I am.” I sucked my bottom lip in and held it between my teeth.

“He doesn’t think you’re fat. He’s just trying to find . . . a tender spot, one he can prod. To get your goat. You must stop considering Kelly’s opinions. They mean nothing.”

“I know,” I answered glumly.

“Look at me, sweet pea. Here’s where you’ll start: when McGee approaches you roll your eyes, or let out a big yawn as if he’s the most boring person in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Don’t let him see your discomfort. Turn your back on him and walk away.”

“But one time at school he cornered me on the stairs. I couldn’t get past. He was looming over me like Bella Lugosi, like he was about to bite my neck.”

“I’d like to wallop the little shit for that,” my father said making a fist of his right hand and wrapping it with his left. I’d heard my father say shit a few times, but never right in front of me. “If that ever happens again, you push past and say, you’re wasting my time, or I’m not interested in your opinion.”

“Maybe we can write that down so I can remember.”

“Absolutely. How about Thursday morning while your mother’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner? Is it a date?”

“It’s a date,” I said.

My father rose and replaced the desk chair. He stretched his back, and considered the poster of Robert Redford above my head. “I thought Butch Cassidy was supposed to be the handsomer of the two.”

I returned his grin. “Nope. The Kid.”

“As handsome as Truman Parker?” he teased.

“Not that handsome,” I said.

“Truman’s a fine boy. Smart, too. He chose you, didn’t he?” My father cupped my cheek in one hand. “You are beautiful, daughter, like your mother. I should tell you that more often.” He kissed my brow. “Good night, sweet pea.”

“Good night, Daddy.” I hadn’t called him Daddy in a long time.

He moved to the door.

“And Dad? ‘Boldness be my friend.’”

Setting inspirations!

Photos of The Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN, that inspired the setting and many scenes in GEORGIE GIRL.



The “tunnel” under the old tower, the setting of Georgie and Truman’s first kiss.


The view from the porch of “the science building” where fictitious Clover Kane walks on the railing.


Wintry rear view of the building where Georgie and her family live. Called Hampton Hall in the novel.


View, from the science building porch, of “Hampton Circle” where Georgie’s salons are held. The door to Georgie’s apartment in “Hampton Hall” is on very right edge.