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Posts from the ‘Writing Strong Women’ Category


“Honest writing cannot be separated from the person who wrote it.”
Carl Jung

We writers create the best characters when we know ourselves—the depth of ourselves—and tap into that depth when we write, using all our senses.

Writers often have trouble creating believable, unusual characters.

o Instead, we make them cookie-cutter, stereotypical people–and bore our readers.

o Even though we might conduct extensive research, we resist the elements that end in helping us
develop multi-faceted exciting characters.

o Research by itself won’t fix the problem. Why?

o Because the most important element for creating characters with emotional and psychological
depth—wishes, feelings, passion, depth and vision—resides within me, the writer.

o For me to write meaningfully, I must connect my inner world with the outer world of my

It takes more than just structure to make our writing and our characters come to life.

o Before our characters can stand out from all others we must tap into our inner self, while we
create that character.

o We must be present inside our characters, and in our writing, or our story will not be
successful, for it will lack depth.

o Our readers must hear our voice as the narrator—not some detached fact teller.

o We must create different characters that express all the various voices we have within

o WE, the writer, make the difference between a lackluster character portrayed over and over, and
a character with a fresh, unique voice.


o We must make ourselves vulnerable.

o If we are not willing to do this, we cheat our character out of a real-life personality.

o We must take risks.

o We must explore our inner selves.

o We must delve into the parts of ourselves that are the most vulnerable—our own life
experiences, particularly those painful or delightful parts of our childhood.

o When we approach that most vulnerable part of ourselves we must not stop—we must not blink.

o Instead, we write right through that part of our history, thereby giving life to our

o The search into self can’t be accomplished by our ego.

o We need to confront feelings and desires long hidden from our conscious thoughts.

o When we try to create a character without doing so—our characters become cookie cutter.

o For instance, many people feel a lack of spontaneity in their lives, so we look around at
others, jealous perhaps, or even feel ashamed at our own repressions.

o So, then, when we write, we try to capture that trait in our characters, but rather than being
able to release our characters to spontaneity, we end up creating characters that only imitate
what we are trying to create—much like we do.

When we learn to be honest with ourselves—warts and moles and all, we:

Unlock our own sensory recall and transform our experiences, feelings, high, lows, pain, and joys, into unique, powerful, believable, original characters who are capable of touching the hearts of our readers.

Easy to say—not always easy to do.


Pay attention? To what, you may ask. Pay attention to everything.

Learn how to tune into life and the world around you—the seen and the unseen. There is so much more to this world, and to those who people it, than we realize.

Pay attention to the weary-looking clerk checking your groceries. Strike up a conversation with her by asking how her day has been. If she’s tired, how many hours she’s worked that day. Find something to compliment them on. Pay attention to how their eyes light up and their backs straighten.

Smile and greet a stranger. Strike up a friendly conversation and enjoy their presence.

Pay attention to the trees blowing in the breeze, or the layer of frost on the ground. Walk outside at night and look up at the moon.

Notice if someone looks like they need help and offer it.

Pay attention when that still small voice says, “Slow down, don’t drive so fast.” Or, “let that person in line ahead of you.”

Pay attention to your significant other. Hear what they say and make sure you understand it correctly. Every day, tell someone you love them.

Pay attention to your own needs and the difference in how you feel when you take proper care of your body.

In other words, wake up to your world. Participate in it. Interact with others. Give of yourself. Care about each other and care about our planet.                


Copyright: Sylvia Dickey Smith

“Hawkish” Hillary Clinton


I’ve avoided political topics on my Facebook wall because I don’t want it turning into a sh*tfest. But my son and I were chatting this morning and I realized something he doesn’t “get” simply because he did grow up as a white male in this country.

Hillary’s (likely) nomination is a HUGE step forward for women. Yes, she’s pretty “hawkish”. And as my husband Eric put it, she’s worked hard to be “badder than the boys” — pretty much like Margaret Thatcher was.

Here’s the thing most men don’t get — but any woman who has ever fought her way up the corporate ladder (as I did) DOES get, in spades: Women who don’t act like “one of the guys” will NEVER break the glass ceiling — not in politics, not in corporations. Period.

It is going to take some “ballsy” women to break that ceiling, so other, more “progressive” women can have their chance and follow behind them. That’s just the way it is. Look at how Hillary’s been attacked for “raising her voice” (how DARE a woman “yell”).

So I’m proud to see a potential woman president in my lifetime, after years of struggling in the male-dominated corporate world and being overlooked and stepped on time after time simply because of my gender. This is a HUGE milestone for women.

I like to think that younger women will now have so many more opportunities to make it WITHOUT having to sell out and act like “one of the guys”. They can be their proud female selves.


Janet posted this on her Facebook page today, and it so described why I celebrate recent events–well, really one reason. I also support Hillary Clinton because she is far and away the most qualified.  Hillary is a perfect fit for my theme of Writing Strong Women. So is Janet Christian for voicing the truth so well.




_MG_8948RetroSylvia Dickey Smith is a novelist whose fiction has won the hearts of readers everywhere, especially in the south. Often told in third person, her novels portray strong, memorable characters struggling with the same issues and timely situations that readers face in their own lives. In downtime from novels, she dabbles in re-imagined fairy tales, such as this one.

Smith is a native Texan, where she formerly conducted private practice as a psychotherapist. She has published stories and essays in anthologies, and her Sidra Smart mystery series received terrific reviews. Her most recent release, A WAR OF HER OWN, is a historical novel set in southeast Texas during WWII, yet it isn’t a war story. Instead, it is of the home front—a period of profound sociological change, particularly for women. Her most recent novel is ORIGINAL CYN, a tale of love, lust, transgression, betrayal, and the transformational power of forgiveness.

To contact:


whineycroneIn a far off land, east of the sun and west of the moon, a whiney old crone named Drizella sits outside the golden gates of the Queen’s Palace, wailing over fate’s misfortune. Beautiful in her youth (according to her mother, at least) she’d dreamed of slipping her foot into the glass slipper, marrying the prince and living happily ever after, raising perfect children, with a castle full of nannies to make sure, and of course wearing the finest of clothes.

But, alas, the slipper had been too short, and her foot too long. Her one consolation was that neither had the shoe fit her sister—that is her real sister.

The winey crone snivels, wipes her nose on the sleeve of her ragged garment and bemoans the cruelty of years. Whence came all the wrinkles and this thin mousy gray hair? Not to mention her ever-enlarging nose and ears, and the few scraggly hairs on her chin. Even the ‘widow-maker’ treats her unfairly, refusing to return her tiny waist regardless of how tight she pulls the laces. Her back aches. Her sister never calls and her sons come around no longer—the ungrateful lot.

One beautiful sunny day, while in the midst of her whining, an even older crone appears with a glow on her face and a spring in her step—her voice pleasant, melodic, even. “Why do you whine, my dear sister? Do you not know this is the best years of your life? Too bad you did not well prepare yourself, else your step would spring and your voice would sing.”

“Give me a break,” the whiney old crone exclaims. “What’s so great about getting old, ugly and feeble? My back hurts, no one calls or comes to visit, and should I venture out, men pass me by as if unseen.” Whine. Whine. whine.

“It is because you spend your day in front of the mirror that you whine, my dear. For mirrors only beautiuful cronereflect the outward you, not giving chance for inward reflection. You give insult to the name of crone. For a true crone does not whine. Instead, she fills her days with wisdom learned over the years, with purpose, humor, courage, compassion for others, and vitality.”

“Vitality?” the whiney crone spat. “I fight to get out of bed every morning. How in the queen’s name am I to find vitality?”

“It takes years of work, my dear, and you are way behind. You’ve wasted your years regretting each one. You fail to feel empathy or compassion, or to use your energy and power wisely. As a consequence of such, you have not earned the joy a wise crone discovers with the passing years.”

“Okay, smarty pants. You know so much. Tell me what you did that is so different than me. For you, too, longed to wear the glass slipper and failed. You, too, have aged, yet I see young men here at your feet, eager to learn what you know. Why is that—tell me, old crone.”

“Dry your eyes, wipe your nose, and lend me your ear.”

The whiney crone did just that.

“First off,” the beautiful older crone said, “is to stop that infernal whining. You must let go of the idea that if the stupid glass slipper fit your big foot, your life would have been perfect. The shoe didn’t fit your big foot! What is is. Get over it.”

“Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants. Just tell me how in this world am I supposed to do that?”

broken slipper“Stop thinking about what didn’t work. To dwell on anything we have no power to change is a useless exercise, and we end up getting more and more depressed, and we spend our days whining about what might have been.

“The more you whine, the more stuck you are in the past—a past you can’t fix. The end result is you stay stuck right there at the moment the prince tried to put that silly glass shoe on your foot. That’s truly over and done with, but because you keep whining about losing out, you’re still caught at that moment in time. Which ends up helping you find even more to whine about.

“That was then—this is now. Whining makes you dry up into an old hag. Look in that mirror. Do you see one juicy thing about you?”

The whiney crone looked. She didn’t like what she saw. “You mean to tell me, if I stop whining, these wrinkles might go away?”

“It won’t make the wrinkles go away, but they’ll soften. You’ll have more energy—a passion for life. Get involved—care about something. Get interested in something—take your mind off of yourself and put it on others. Find something funny to laugh about—every day, without fail. If you can’t find it, create it—go find a young lover or something.” She laughed.

“Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.”

“You never know—but this one thing I can guarantee—it’ll put a spring in your step.”

“So, that’s all I need do?”

“Goodness no. There’s a lot more to life than that. Grow something. Crones are good at pruning, weeding.”

“You mean like a garden? I can’t do that, for my back is too stiff and my joints, they ache like a son-of-a-gun. Every time I kneel, my—”

“There you go, whining again. Growing something doesn’t mean it has to be plants, my silly sister. It can be, but other things need to grow, too. Nurture something—whether it be a garden or people. Find something—or someone—vulnerable—like a child that’s lonely, or a young mother who can learn from your wisdom. For, despite your whining, you have learned a few things over the years—and that is the wisdom of the ages—otherwise known as Women’s Intuition. Trust what you know deep down in your bones. Let that wisdom bubble to the top. Share it with those open to receive it—those who look for the wisdom of the ages. Learn to practice patience—then teach it to the impatient.”

“Is that all?” Drizella wondered how in the world could she remember all these lessons, let alone do them. “I should’ve been taking notes.”

The wise, juicy old crone smiled, for she knew the secret of the HOW. “By finding your voice, my dear. For silence equals consent. Crones like you and me? We speak our minds. We tell ’em how the cow ate the cabbage—that the emperor’s running around outside nekked. That’s how. Find your voice, use the wisdom of the ages, grow something, let go of the past, stop your dang whining and laugh—and learn the beauty of a big foot.”















Emotional Abuse: Beneath Your Radar?

There are three million cases of domestic violence reported each year. Many more go unreported. Emotional abuse precedes violence, but is rarely discussed. Although both men and women may abuse others, an enormous number of women are subjected to emotional abuse. Unfortunately, many don’t even know it.

trappedEmotional abuse may be hard to recognize, because it can be subtle, and abusers will often blame you for their behavior or act like they have no idea why you are upset. Additionally, you may have been treated this way in past relationships, so that it’s familiar and harder to recognize. Over time, the abuser will chip away at your self-esteem, causing you to feel guilty, doubt yourself, and distrust your perceptions.

Other aspects of the relationship may work well. The abuser may be loving between abusive episodes, so that you deny or forget them. You may not have had a healthy relationship for comparison, and when the abuse takes place in private, there are no witnesses to validate your experience.

Abusers typically want to control and dominate. They use verbal abuse to accomplish this. They are self-centered, impatient, unreasonable, insensitive, unforgiving, lack empathy, and are often jealous, suspicious, and withholding. In order to maintain control, some abusers take hostages, meaning that they may try to isolate you from your friends and family. Their moods can shift from fun loving and romantic to sullen and angry. Some punish with anger, others with silence – or both. It’s usually “their way or the highway.”

Emotional abuse may start out innocuously, but grows as the abuser becomes more assured that you won’t leave the relationship. It may not begin until after an engagement, marriage, or pregnancy. If you look back, you may recall tell-tale signs of control or jealousy. Eventually, you and the entire family “walk on eggshells” and adapt so as not to upset the abuser. Being subjected to emotional abuse over time can lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, inhibited sexual desire, chronic pain, or other physical symptoms.

People who respect and honor themselves won’t allow someone to abuse them. Many people allow abuse to continue because they fear confrontations. Usually, they are martyrs, caretakers, or pleasers. They feel guilty and blame themselves. Some aren’t able to access their anger and power in order to stand up for themselves, while others ineffectively argue, blame, and are abusive themselves, but they still don’t know how to set appropriate boundaries.

If you’ve allowed abuse to continue, there’s a good chance that you were abused by someone in your past, although you may not recognize it as such. It could have been a strict or alcoholic dad, an invasive mom, or a teasing sibling. Healing involves understanding how you’ve been abused, forgiving yourself, and rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence.

If you’re wondering if your relationship is abusive, it probably is. Emotional abuse, distinct from physical violence (including shoving, cornering, breaking, and throwing things), is speech and/or behavior that is derogating, controlling, punishing, or manipulative. Withholding love, communication, support, or money are indirect methods of control and maintaining power. Behavior that controls where you go, who you talk to, or what you think, is abusive. It’s one thing to say, “If you buy the dining room set, we cannot afford a vacation,” verses cutting up your credit cards. Spying, stalking, invading your person, space, or belongings is also abusive, because it disregards personal boundaries.

Verbal abuse is the most common forms of emotional abuse, but it’s often unrecognized, because it may be subtle and insidious. It may be said in a loving, quiet voice, or may be indirect – even concealed as a joke. Whether disguised as play or jokes, sarcasm or teasing that is hurtful is abusive. Obvious and direct verbal abuse, such as threats, judging, criticizing, lying, blaming, name-calling, ordering, and raging, are easy to recognize. Below are some more subtle types of verbal abuse that are just as damaging as overt forms, particularly because they are harder to detect. When experienced over time, they have an insidious, deleterious effect, because you begin to doubt and distrust yourself.

The abuser will argue against anything you say, challenging your perceptions, opinions, and thoughts. The abuser doesn’t listen or volunteer thoughts or feelings, but treats you as an adversary, in effect saying “No” to everything, so a constructive conversation is impossible.
This is another tactic used to abort conversation. The abuser may switch topics, accuse you, or use words that in effect say, “Shut Up.” verbal

This is verbal abuse that minimizes or trivializes your feelings, thoughts, or experiences. It’s a way of saying that your feelings don’t matter or are wrong.

These words are meant to undermine your self-esteem and confidence, such as, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” finishing your sentences, or speaking on your behalf without your permission.

An abuser may deny that agreements or promises were made or that a conversation or events or took place, including prior abuse. The abuser instead may express affection or make declarations of love and caring. This is crazy making and manipulative behavior, which leads you to gradually doubt your own memory, perceptions, and experience. In the extreme, a persistent pattern is called gas-lighting, named after the classic Ingrid Bergman movie, In it, her husband used denial in a plot to make her believe she was losing her grip on reality.

In order to confront the abuse, it’s important to understand that the intent of the abuser is to control you and avoid meaningful conversation. Abuse is a used as a tactic to manipulate and have power over you. If you focus on the content, you’ll fall into the trap of trying to respond rationally, denying accusations and explaining yourself, and lose your power. The abuser has won at that point and deflected responsibility for the verbal abuse. The verbal abuse must be addressed first and directly, with forceful statements, such as, “Stop, it,” “Don’t talk to me that way,” “That’s demeaning,” “Don’t call me names,” “Don’t raise your voice at me,” “Don’t use that tone with me,” “I don’t respond to orders,” etc.

In this way, you set a boundary of how you want to be treated and take back your power. The abuser may respond with, “Or what?”, and you can say, “I will not continue this conversation.” Typically, a verbal abuser may become more abusive, in which case, you continue to address the abuse in the same manner. You might say, “If you continue, I’ll leave the room,” and do so if the abuse continues. If you keep setting boundaries, the abuser will get the message that manipulation and abuse won’t be effective. The relationship may or may not change for the better, or deeper issues may surface. Either way, you’re rebuilding your self-confidence and self-esteem, and are learning important skills about setting boundaries.

It usually takes the support and validation of a group, therapist, or counselor to be able to consistently stand-up to abuse. Without it, you may doubt your reality, feel guilty, and fear loss of the relationship or reprisal. Once you take back your power and regain your self-esteem, you won’t allow someone to abuse you. If the abuse stops, the relationship will improve, but for positive change, both of you must be willing to risk change.

Emotional Abuse does not have to exist in your world. If it does, reach out to an professional who works in the field and ask for their help.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

judyAh, spring, when hearts turn to love—the love of fresh vegetables. Everyone I know prefers garden-fresh, off-the vine home grown vegetables rather than cold storage, store-bought ones that languish on produce shelves.

I write about and for strong women. Today I want to introduce you to a very strong woman by the name of Judy Couch Walters. Read Judy’s first-hand story, below, about her journey to become a stronger woman, and improve her health in the process.

A few years ago I found myself sick and depressed. I spent most of one year in bed except for visits to several doctors who were trying to help me get well. I did a lot of reading and research and decided to eat an all-organic diet in an effort to regain my strength. I began making fresh green juice every morning out of kale, cucumbers, carrots, celery, ginger and other healthy organic ingredients.

As important as this program was I knew I also needed fresh air, sunshine and moderate exercise. I figured the best way to save money on all the organic produce we were consuming and reach my other goals was to start an organic garden. My husband and I had done a little gardening in our younger years, but had never grown anything organically. This was a new challenge.

Top that with the fact that we have little sunshine in our yard and our soil is not garden friendly. We found a few spots where the sun came through the trees and built some raised beds and began our organic gardening. It has been a challenge in many ways but it has also been great fun and productive.garden1

One complication is that I’m very allergic to bugs. Mosquitoes love me and try to carry me away. I have to limit the time I’m outside to the times the mosquitoes are not feeding. I also wear long pants and long sleeved shirts year round to avoid bug bites. Due to my illness I’m not able to use any insecticides. I’m also very allergic to chigger bites. They are invisible to the naked eye so the only way to avoid them is to stay out of tall grass and any other green growing things that might brush up against my arms or legs. Sometimes I feel like I need a suit of armor to go into the garden but we keep the weeds and grass cut short and the raised beds help to keep leaves from brushing against me.

Thank goodness my husband is not sensitive to bug bites and they mainly leave him alone. He does a lot of the harvesting once the weather is hot and the bugs are the most active.

garden2A couple of years ago we built a small greenhouse that has been a wonderful addition. I’m able to save many of my beloved flowers and plants over the winter and start my veggie seedlings in the spring. This is good mental therapy for me in the winter months when I need sunshine and flowers. It also saves money to grow our own plants. Building the little greenhouse was fun. I love to build things.

A couple of months ago we decided to drill a well on our property so we can water our garden freely with chemical free water. We’ve been saving rainwater but it was not nearly enough for the dry months of summer when our harvest depends on water. This year we will be watering more than we ever have in the past and hope to have a bigger harvest.

We’ve been able to work into our schedule some dog and cat rescue that we love to do. We have several handicapped pets of our own but we make room for one foster dog and one foster cat at a time. It gives us great satisfaction to be a part of such important work. Due to our organic gardening I’ve gotten stronger and healthier and my husband has lost 50 pounds and is off all his medications. We have both benefitted greatly from our choice to start gardening.

Judy’s story inspire me to eat healthier, and to get in touch with my body, listen to the messages it gives, and to take care of my precious health.

I hope you get energized to get up and get out into the sunshine and the rain, and grow healthy foods for yourself and your family.

Feel free to post your own journey with eating healthy

Women As Myth-Makers

I make no bones about it; I am a lover of myth, folklore—story. Over the years, it seems to resonate at a deeper and deeper core of my being. I read folklore, and get chill bumps. The deeper meaning of the myth and the art of the storyteller come together to thrill my soul.

Story—myth—is what holds societies together. It creates full-spectrum color out of what would otherwise be a black and white world. Story adds meaning, excitement, hope, focus, inspiration, commitment, dedication, renewal, and foundation to our life. (To name a few. The list is endless)

We create not only our present, but also our future, by the stories we recount to others, and sometimes to ourselves, about who we are and where we are going.

Nancy Baker Jones says, “Told long enough, or granted enough significance, stories become myth and myth become the psyche culture, the commonly held knowledge by which a culture defines and describes itself and its members.”

These myths do not develop overnight. Betty Sue Flowers is quoted to have said, “Myths do not emerge full-blown, like Athena from the head of Zeus. They’re made up of bits and pieces of other myths…”

In our historically patriarchal society, myth has been male dominant. Over the generations, men sat around campfires and told their tales (or wrote their books, sold them, and received rave reviews as if only men were authors.)

However, times are a changing. As more women find their voices, they begin telling their own stories, redrawing our psyche culture, altering the commonly held knowledge by which our world defines and describes itself.

I encourage women today to find that sacred place. Gather your memories around you, invite the stories of your life to unfold, and then write then down. When you do, not only do you discover your own stories, but you also help create a new mythology for us, for our daughters and for our granddaughters.

And as you write, let the words of golf champion, Babe Erickson Zaharias inspire you.

“It’s not enough to swing at the ball. You’ve got to loosen your girdle and let ’er fly.”


Original Cyn: One Woman’s Journey to Wholeness

a href=”http://www.syl <" rel="attachment wp-att-3544">Original Cyn, by Sylvia Dickey Smith

Writing my newly-released novel, Original Cyn, pushed me harder and deeper than anything I have written to date. I didn’t want to write a book I’d ‘already written.’ I didn’t want to write a book that simply entertained. I felt compelled to write a book that pushed the envelope. Something that made people think, that shoved me and my reader beyond our comfort zones, a book that raised questions.

A small target to hit, right?

When a writer’s heart feels so led, the writer doesn’t have to find the story, the story finds them, and then demands to be told, forbidding the author to blink when the going gets tough.

However, as Original Cyn took shape, I found myself shoved beyond my comfort zone into a story that pushes boundaries, some which were mine years ago. A book I knew many might refuse to read—may judge me, may ostracize me. But write I did, because I could do no other. Believe it or not that was the easy part, the story told itself.

However, now is the time to publish it—to put it out there for others to read. This requires me to face my fears. Why do I put myself in that situation? Because in my heart of hearts, I know the time is right for this story to be told.

“The Breath of a Dragon”

Come let me tell you the story of an Irish innkeeper with the breath of a dragon, a woman who inspires me to speak up, speak out, and take a stand, even when that stand might be unpopular, or put me at risk.

Catherine (Kate) McGill Dorman lived in the 1800s, but she marched into my life a few months ago and so fascinated me that I featured her in my modern day mystery novel, Deadly Sins Deadly Secrets.

Kate stood a mere 4 feet 10 inches, but according to legend, what she lacked in stature, she made up in guts, determination, and a delightfully acidic tongue. (I find myself drawn to women with one!)

Kate and her husband moved from Georgia to Sabine Pass where they built the Catfish Hotel on the banks of the Sabine River. The inn had a wharf off the back where steamboats often docked, and captains and passengers partook of Kate’s hospitality.

While Kate ran the hotel, her husband served as engineer on a mail packet that carried mail up and down the Texas coast. In late 1859 a boiler exploded, killing her husband, leaving Kate a young widow with two small daughters to care for, and an inn to run. Kate later remarried a captain of a cotton steamer that plied the Neches River.

Texans tried to stay out of a civil war that raged elsewhere in the country, but folks along the coast found themselves caught in the middle of a battle for control over the prized waterway, easy access for blockade runners smuggling cotton to Europe—fundraising for the Confederate army.

Things got worse in 1862 when the deadly yellow fever hit. The epidemic soon raged out of control. Hundreds of town folk and Confederate soldiers died, hundreds more fled the area. But not Kate, instead, she turned the Catfish Hotel into a hospital where she and two friends tended to soldiers and civilians, alike.

While the pestilence raged, and the Confederate soldiers lay sick and dying, the Union took advantage of the situation and captured Sabine Pass. One day, fifty Union soldiers brought a 6-pound howitzer ashore, with a plan to burn down the Confederate barracks west of town. Needing something on which to mount and transport the heavy gun, they made a big mistake—they absconded with Kate’s horse and cart.

Angry as all get-out, Kate sprang into action. The November 5, 1862 issue of the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph described the event:

“…Mrs. Kate Dorman, who witnessed the act, became perfectly enraged, and being one of the bravest women in the Confederacy, gave them such a tongue-lashing as only a brave woman would dare do. She shook her fist at them, and told them she hoped our boys would kill the last one of them, and if she had 25 men, she would take them and their cannon with them.

“After the enemy retired to their gunboat, they gave Capt. Dorman his horse and cart back, and told him if he didn’t keep his damned wife’s mouth shut, they would hang him. Mr. and Mrs. Dorman have a large hotel in the place, and the Yanks declare that if she does not apologize to them, they will burn it down. She declares that she will see them in the lower regions first, and they may burn it if they choose.”

A week later, a second Union Navy patrol landed and set fire to most of the town, but they did not touch Kate’s Catfish Hotel. As W. T. Block says in his Beaumont Enterprise article dated August 18, 1974, “Perhaps they did not fancy another encounter with the Irish innkeeper with a dragon’s hot breath.”

Historians well-document Dick Dowling and his men’s famous Battle of Sabine Pass, but few tell how, as the battle raged, thirty-four-year old Kate and her friend spent hours laboring over a hot wood stove cooking food for Dowling and his men. Then, despite the intense battle going on around her, Kate hitched her now-famous horse to her cart, loaded the food, and, with the bombardment overhead, she and her friend delivered a huge pot of stew, doughnuts and coffee, and even a gallon of whiskey to the 47 Irishmen defending nearby Fort Griffin. Certainly the action of Kate and her friend sustained Dowling’s men, strengthening their ability to hold off the enemy. And hold off they did.

Kate died at the age of 69, on Christmas Eve, 1897. Of the many eulogies written about her, perhaps that of Margaret Watson, who shared a room with Kate during much of the Civil War, gives us the best glimpse of this phenomenal woman:

“During the days of trials and privations of the Civil War, Mrs. Dorman stood strong and brave under every difficulty. She was the friend of the private soldiers as well as the officers; she nursed them when sick, gave the best she had to feed them. She was always on hand in the hour of peril to express faith in their success, to give an enthusiastic welcome in their hour of victory. Though Kate now sleeps in the cemetery at the Pass, she lives forever in the hearts of these survivors.”

Kate inspires me to bravery, to new strength and determination to make a positive difference in my world. I hope she does you as well.

This book is available at



Excited to announce that I recently signed a contract with literary agent Holly McClure, president of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency to represent my latest novel, ORIGINAL CYN, a mainstream novel set in Mobile, Alabama.

In “Original Cyn” an outwardly perfect wife of an outwardly perfect pastor no longer knows who she is. Who would have thought she’d find herself by standing up to his congregation after she learns her husband isn’t so perfect after all.

Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency initially was born with the goal of representing a few southern writers. Since then their mission has expanded. Their authors now come from all over the country and write in many genres. Holly and her agents are committed to nurturing writing careers and promoting good books. Sounds like my kind of place.

Add to that, the agency is in the process of merging with a film company–the best of both worlds, it seems. I am excited to be working with such a reputable, aggressive agency. Watch for great things from this joint merger.

Holly and I both look forward to her selling “Original Cyn” to the perfect publishing house! We will let you know right here.

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