Are you ready to accept the Indie Author Challenge to never quit? Though Indie Authors must bear an enormous handicap to publish and then market in the growing sea of books on the market today, are you up to the challenge?
As an Indie-Author there are days when I feel like Brock from the movie, Facing the Giants. In this inspirational scene, Brock is challenged to bear crawl blindfolded toting a huge handicap on his back. Like Brock, I have no idea how far I must push myself to reach the goal line. I also share trying to heed the two voices screaming to determine my fate. There are the encourager’s persistent external urgings that compete to be heard above that inner voice screaming within my head, “I can’t do this! It’s too painful. It costs too much. I can’t possibly succeed.”
Then that encouraging voice pleads even louder, “Don’t quit! Don’t you quit! You can do it!”
Which voice will win the day within you? Do you believe in your heart that the goal line lies just beyond your grasp though you just can’t identify how much further it lies?
Are your ears attuned to those just like you who are being inspired by you and have piped in to cheer you on? Is it your tenacity and stubborn refusal to not give up …to not quit that has spurred them to your feet?
It is an undeniable fact: Indie Authors must carry a handicap to compete in the publishing world, and the amount of sacrifice and effort to reach the goal line is not always visible, BUT you gotta believe there are encouragers all along the way rallying you to not quit.
So for me, I will be like Brock and keep on, keeping on until I can’t go any further. And when I finally succumb and take off the blindfold, I pray the “blood, sweat, and tears” was worth it, and the goal line rested beneath my exhausted body. Because by overcoming the enormous handicap I began the Indie Author challenge carrying, others will be emboldened to accept the same challenge.
Can I count on you to encourage me and other Indie Authors to reach the goal line?
Five years ago, my wife urged me to retire from the nine-to-five daily grind to write a novel that our grandchildren would enjoy reading. The first weeks entailed countless hours of investigating the basics — the what and how — of creative writing. Eventually, my inquiries led me to a God-sent relationship with a writing coach and editor, Kari Scare from Three Rivers, Michigan.
Thankfully, technology bridged the 900 miles that separated us. With Kari’s guidance and ample supply of red ink, I nurtured the original premise of a story. Word after word, page after page, revision after revision, Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories emerged thirty months later. Though a few painful bumps and bruises left their mark along the way, I now proudly enjoy sharing about my legacy of love to my grandchildren.
Of course, one book is never enough. Thanks to the insistence of my earliest readers and my new author-friends, a year after my first novel launched, Testament, An Unexpected Return, the sequel, continued the saga begun in Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, and the third and presumably final installment is being written. Each features Theo Phillips, a recently retired publishing executive, and his wife, Liddy. Their journey began after they vacated their suburban home near Atlanta seeking to return to South Georgia, near their small-town roots. However, Theo and Liddy discovered their inquisitiveness, as they seek to settle into their Shiloh home, thrusts them into the midst of scandal and dark secrets surrounding a tragic death. In the sequel, Theo and Liddy become unlikely victims of a former resident’s mysterious return and reckless scheming.
Now what? Over the holidays as I began writing the third installment, I pursued a vital third question about crafting novels – why. An author must come to grips with the motivation and internal message that each story tells. After some soul-searching, I realized the events surrounding one of my characters had played out a true-to-life, relevant role within the main story.
Without revealing too much of the story, Megan succumbed to being coerced into making a choice only a woman can make, but she learns in the story choices have consequences, and most often unintended and far-reaching too. No matter how hard anyone buries such a dark secret, eventually it surfaces to the light. I tried throughout the story to reveal a truth we should all realize, God knows all our secrets. He knew we would make the decisions we did long before we created them. Megan comes to realize that one can compound a lousy choice with more poor decisions that hurt others, but more often than not, God exposes our secrets to begin the healing process of a broken and contrite heart.
So why did I write the stories I have written and likely will continue to write? To inspire my grandchildren and readers alike to examine their choices in life and how those choices have impacted their relationships with family, friends, and most importantly with God.
To emphasize this message, throughout February, all my royalties for books sold in Coweta County, GA — where the inspiration for Shiloh began — and on Amazon so others can participate, will benefit Coweta Pregnancy Services, Newnan, GA. The campaign is duly entitled, “Megan’s Pledge.” Below is a link to find out more should you wish to take part.
So, why do you write your stories?
I pray you may agree — “The testament of a man lies not in the magnitude of possessions and property left to his heirs, but the reach of his legacy long after his death.” Theo Phillips
T. M. Brown is a Southern boy at heart, although he’s lived and traveled in many states far removed from his beloved boyhood roots in Georgia and Florida. He returned to North Florida several years ago while his two sons were still in school and enjoyed traveling throughout the South for business. After his youngest son went off to college, he ventured to New Orleans to complete post-graduate studies. The last fifteen years, he has preached, taught and coached in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida until his wife and he relocated outside of Atlanta where they have since retired to write, travel, and spoil grandchildren.
Presenting author at 2017 & 2018 Decatur Book Festival, 2017 Milton Literary Festival, 2018 Dahlonega Literary Festival. Suspense Book 2017 finalist, Reviews & Interviews. Member of the Atlanta Writers Club, Georgia Writers Association, Chattahoochee Valley Writers Club, Georgia Writers Museum. and Broadleaf Writers Association (ATL). 2018 Best Book Award Finalist from AmericanBookFest.com for Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories. Shiloh Mystery Series: Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories (Jan 2018); Testament, An Unexpected Return (March 2018); Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest
How would the story have evolved differently if little Shiloh had a Pregnancy Services Center to counsel Megan?
In both Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and its sequel, Testament, An Unexpected Return, Megan is a central character whose dark secret not only haunted her but also dramatically impacted others. Her story is not unlike real life – our choices have far-reaching, unintended consequences. Sadly, as a former teacher and preacher, I witnessed the price of similar dark secrets for months and even years later.
The drama of an unexpected pregnancy does not need to become a dark secret. With the support of the likes of Coweta Pregnancy Services young women can embrace the gift of life. It is my firm belief that no pregnancy is a surprise to the Creator of Life, no matter the circumstances. And, even in our darkest times, God sends angels of His grace and love, no matter the choices that have been made. In Megan’s story, she brought her dark secret to light through the caring support of God-sent friends.
You can support “Megan’s Pledge” throughout the month of February with a true love decision – read her story by purchasing one or both books in the Shiloh Mystery Series. All the royalties earned in February for books purchased not only in Coweta County (Newnan, GA) but also online at Amazon for both printed and Kindle editions will directly benefit Coweta Pregnancy Services.
Excerpt from Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories – Megan’s Dilemma
A couple of minutes before eight, Megan’s crimson Mustang pulled into the driveway. Megan arrived at the door wearing a sequined black leather jacket over a white blouse and gray dress pants. Her black high heels clicked as she walked across the porch’s wood floor.
“Megan, please come on in,” Liddy said opening the door.
I offered to take her jacket. “Hello, Mister Phillips. I’m good, thanks. I don’t want to stay too long.”
Liddy invited Megan to sit in her chair. “I feel just awful for you. I can’t even begin to imagine all you’ve dealt with the last few days.”
Megan sat upright on the edge of the cushion and smoothed the wrinkles in her slacks. “Thanks so much for seeing me so early. I wasn’t even sure I’d be welcome after I heard how Hank’s been behaving.” She continued to avoid eye contact but put extra emphasis on each word. “But, I felt I needed to apologize.”
Liddy stood beside Megan with a vulnerable look and rested her hand on Megan’s shoulder. “Apologize? Why should you apologize?” Liddy then sat down on the arm of my recliner.
Relieved that Liddy engaged Megan, I stood and gestured for her to take my seat. “Would you young ladies like some coffee or tea?”
“Thanks, Mister Phillips…” Megan nodded with a forced grin. “If it wouldn’t be much trouble, hot tea with just a little sugar would suit me fine.”
“I can handle that. What about you Liddy?”
Liddy focused her eyes on Megan. “Yes, please. You know how I like mine.”
While I waited for the water to boil, I admired how Liddy gave Megan the attention she needed. They held hands and spoke softly back and forth. I couldn’t make out the words, but Megan no longer looked uncomfortable and stiff.
“Here you go, ladies. Two hot cups of tea.” I went back into the kitchen to get my coffee before I took a seat on the sofa. Megan enjoyed the full comfort of Liddy’s chair while she savored her tea.
Megan’s attention drifted from Liddy to me. “I want to thank both of you…” She hesitated long enough to see my smile. “I’m not sure where to begin.” She sighed as she hesitated. “Harold told me about Phillip’s visit, so I assume Phillip told you what happened between Hank and me?”
Liddy’s affable grin and nod encouraged Megan to continue.
“First, I feel terrible that you were victims of Hank’s unpredictable temper. I heard Pete and the others showed up before Hank did any real harm. I feel I’m to blame for his threatening tirade. And now that I finally walked out on him, I’m more afraid. Just having my car parked in your driveway makes me nervous.”
Liddy snickered, leaned over and patted Megan’s knee. “Oh, don’t you fret none. You’re safe here. Theo and the boys sent a strong message to Hank the other night.”
Megan exchanged her first genuine smile with my awkward grin, then turned back toward Liddy. “I’ve little doubt that’s true. Miss Liddy, more importantly, the reason I came here is that your husband helped me when I dumped my terrible news on him. I sure wish my father had been as helpful and compassionate.” Her grin faded and eyes dropped as she talked about her father.
“Look, I trust your father will come around in time. But, to be honest, Liddy and I’ve been worried sick about you, and here you’re worried about us,” I said a bit lighthearted before I turned serious. “Phillip told us how ugly it’s been for you at the house.”
“Hank didn’t get physical, but he sure said a lot of dreadful things that hurt far worse than if he had beaten me.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “Y’all have been so kind, much more so than my mother and father.”
Liddy pulled out a box of tissues. “Listen to me. Parents often struggle to respond well when their children are hurting. Especially the grownup ones. Trust me, I speak from experience.”
Megan looked into Liddy’s eyes, and a tear-filled grin surfaced. “Miss Liddy, now I know why everyone likes you and Theo so much.”
I swallowed the knot in my throat. “Megan, we’ve come to a point in our lives where we see how God showed us through our mistakes and we’ve learned that compassion and mercy build much better bridges than when we point out the faults and failures in others.”
Megan dipped her head. “Oh, it’s so hard to be that way when others are focused on my mistakes, but I do want to do the right thing.” Her voice quivered.
Liddy took Megan’s hand and spoke softly. “Megan, what do you want to do? Do youwant to work it out with Hank?”
Megan grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. She then turned to both of us with an extended pensive stare, and after what seemed like a minute, Megan stammered, “I…I’m not sure, but I…I told Harold that I’d like to come back to work this morning.” A twinkle in her eyes and a slight grin appeared. “He’s probably panicking without me to keep him straight.” She dabbed a stray tear as her red-faced smile grew.
I chuckled. “Harold told me just yesterday how much he missed you.” Though not Harold’s exact words, I had little doubt that he relied upon Megan both at the office and at home.
Megan’s lightheartedness escalated into healthier giggles. “I can only imagine what my desk looks like, and it’s only been a day.” Megan looked out the window in the direction of City Hall. “I’m not sure how to tell Harold what I need to tell him… it’ll break his heart.” A long sigh followed.
“Megan, Harold knows about your diagnosis, and I know that he still cares about you. I sure don’t know everything, but I do know Harold’s not pleased with Hank at this moment.”
Megan suddenly turned away from the window before she burst out in frustration. “No, you don’t know. Harold doesn’t know. Nobody knows. Hank and I got married for all the wrong reasons, and because of that, I’ll never have children… And in Hank’s eyes, it’s my fault. Whatever glimmer of hope I clung to for our marriage has been ripped away.” Her swollen red eyes defiantly refused to shed another tear.
I sank into the sofa. Liddy appeared equally stunned. Megan’s trite, emotionless admission interrupted the momentary silence. “Hank and I have finally received the consequences of our mistake!”
Liddy broke Megan’s blank gaze. “What mistake? I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say…”
362 pages, paperback
Publication Date: January 19, 2018
Sanctuary: A Legacy of Memories introduces newly retired publishing executive Theo Phillips and his wife Liddy to the time- lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. They leave the shadows of Atlanta and move into a quaint home of notoriety. While making new friends, they discover twenty-first-century challenges threaten the town’s laid-back lifestyle. Theo’s interest in a memorial launches him into investigating tragic events that have left Shiloh unsettled. Retirement dreams face twists and turns that could unravel both them and the idyllic life they and many others look for in little old Shiloh.
This first novel in the series with the sequel, Testament: An Unexpected Return (ISBN 978-1-64111-084-6) published March 21, 2018, portrays God’s providential nudging of Theo into facing the reality that he and Liddy did not choose Shiloh, but Shiloh beckoned them to reveal the scandals and dark secrets haunting their community. And, “as those good ol’ boys like to say, things get curiouser and curiouser . . . ”
Sanctuary: A Legacy of Memories is available for purchase through local book retailers and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and TMBrownAuthor.com.
About the Author
T. M. Brown embraces his Georgia heritage thanks to the paternal branches of his family tree. Retired since 2014 from the nine-to-five life, Brown and his wife, Connie, reside near Newnan, Georgia. When not writing or traveling, the couple enjoy sharing time with their two grown sons and their families.
After a broken ankle immobilized her in 1926, Margaret Mitchell began developing a manuscript that would become Gone With the Wind, ultimately published in 1936. The success of Gone With the Wind made her an instant celebrity and earned a Pulitzer Prize for Margaret Mitchell, and the famed film adaptation released three years afterward. Over 30 million copies of Mitchell’s Civil War masterpiece have been sold and translated into 27 languages. Tragedy struck in 1949 when Mitchell was struck by a car, leaving Gone With the Wind as her only novel.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Mitchell experienced tragic twists and turns; with the loss of her mother in 1918 and then four years later and four months after her wedding, her first husband abandoned the marriage. She wrote nearly 130 articles for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine during that troubled time. By 1925 with her first marriage officially annulled, Mitchell married John Robert Marsh who encouraged her writing during her recovery from a broken ankle in 1926. By 1929, she nearly finished her thousand page Civil War and Reconstruction era story – A romantic novel, written from a Southern woman’s point of view, steeped in the history of the South and the tragic outcome of war.
Rest of the story lies in what happened next…
However, the grand manuscript remained tucked away until 1935 until she reluctantly out of fear showed it to a traveling book editor, who visited Atlanta in search of new material, and the rest is history.
What motivated the book editor to leave his ivory-tower office in New York City?
Southern authors during the decades since earned a warmer reception from the dominant publishing houses as the appeal for Southern stories grew.
What Southern stories rest on your bookshelves at home as a testimony to their lasting imprint on our lives?
Robert Penn Warren: A Genuine Southern Voice for the Ages
Robert Penn Warren was born in Guthrie, Kentucky, near the Tennessee-Kentucky border, to Robert Warren and Anna Penn. Warren graduated from Clarksville High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University in 1925 and the University of California, Berkeley (M.A.) in 1926. Warren pursued further graduate study at Yale University from 1927 to 1928 and was a Rhodes Scholar earning his literature degree from New College, Oxford, in England in 1930. That same year he began his teaching career at Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee.
Warren had two children, Rosanna Phelps Warren (born 1953) and Gabriel Penn Warren (born 1955) with his second wife, Eleanor Clark. While at Louisiana State University, he resided at Twin Oaks (later known as the Robert Penn Warren House) in Prairieville, Louisiana. He resided in his latter years in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Stratton, Vermont where he died. Though buried at Stratton, Vermont, he had requested a memorial marker be placed at the Warren family gravesite in Guthrie, Kentucky.
Warren’s best-known work is All the King’s Men, a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. Main character Willie Stark resembles Huey Pierce Long (1893–1935), the radical populist governor of Louisiana whom Warren was able to observe closely while teaching at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge from 1933 to 1942. All the King’s Men became a highly successful film, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1949. A 2006 film adaptation by writer/director Steven Zaillian featured Sean Penn as Willie Stark and Jude Law as Jack Burden.
Warren served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, 1944–1945 (now, Poet Laureate), and won two Pulitzer Prizes in poetry, in 1958 for Promises: Poems 1954–1956 and in 1979 for Now and Then. Promises also won the annual National Book Award for Poetry. In 1980, Warren was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.
Warren co-authored with Cleanth Brooks, Understanding Poetry, an influential literature textbook. It was followed by other similarly co-authored textbooks, including Understanding Fiction, which was praised by Southern Gothic and Roman Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor, and Modern Rhetoric, which adopted what can be called a New Critical perspective.
Works (Partial listing)
John Brown: The Making of a Martyr (1929) Old and Blind (1931) Thirty-six Poems (1936) An Approach to Literature (1938), with Cleanth Brooks and John Thibaut Purser Understanding Poetry (1939), with Cleanth Brooks Night Rider (1939). Novel At Heaven’s Gate (1943). Novel Understanding Fiction (1943), with Cleanth Brooks All the King’s Men (1946). Novel Blackberry Winter: A Story Illustrated by Wightman Williams (1946) The Circus in the Attic, and Other Stories (1947) A Wilderness: A Tale of the Civil War (1961). Novel Flood: A Romance of Our Time (1964). Novel Who Speaks for the Negro? (1965) Incarnations: Poems 1966–1968 (1968) Audubon: A Vision (1969). Book-length poem Homage to Theodor Dreiser (1971) Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971). Novel American Literature: The Makers and the Making (1974), with Cleanth Brooks and R.W.B. Lewis Democracy and Poetry (1975) A Place to Come to (1977). Novel Brother to Dragons: A Tale in Verse and Voices- A New Version (1979) Handbook of Modern Rhetoric (1950), with Cleanth Brooks Enough and Time (1950). Novel Band of Angels (1955). Novel Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South (1956) Remember the Alamo! (1958). For children The Cave (1959). Novel The Gods of Mount Olympus (1959). For children How Texas Won Her Freedom (1959). For children The Legacy of the Civil War (1961)
Alice Malsenior Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia. She was the eighth and youngest child of Minnie and Willie Lee Walker – struggling sharecroppers, but abundant in spirit and love.
Her father’s great-great-great grandmother Mary Poole was a slave forced to walk from Virginia to Georgia with a baby in each arm. Her mother’s grandmother Talluhah was mostly Cherokee Indian. Alice is deeply proud of her cultural heritage.
After graduating from high school in 1961, Alice attended Spelman College in Atlanta. Alice’s mother gave her three special gifts before she left home: a sewing machine for self-sufficiency, a suitcase for independence and a typewriter for creativity.
While at Spelman, Alice participated in civil rights demonstrations and was invited to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home in 1962 at the end of her freshman year. She then attended the Youth World Peace Festival in Helsinki, Finland and traveled throughout Europe the following summer. This spawned her love for travel and encountering the many peoples and cultures of the world.
In August 1963 Alice traveled to Washington D.C. She couldn’t see much of the main podium but heard Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” address.
During her junior year, Alice received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She became one of a handful of black Americans at the prestigious university.
While at Sarah Lawrence, her additional world traveling opportunities broadened her mind. During her senior year, Alice realized she was pregnant. Frightened and not knowing how to tell her parents, Alice considered committing suicide. She turned to poetry, trying to come to terms with her feelings and worst fears. Alice eventually chose to have an abortion.
During her recovery from the depression and anxiety she had suffered, Alice wrote a short story aptly titled “To Hell With Dying.” Her mentor Muriel Ruykeyser sent the story to publishers as well as to the poet Langston Hughes. To Alice’s delight, the story was published and she received a hand-written note of encouragement from Hughes. Alice was just 21 years old.
After graduating from Sarah Lawrence in 1965, Alice returned to Georgia and participated in the civil rights movement once again, but returned to New York City in the fall of 1965. But the struggle in the South beckoned her back, wherein during the summer of 1966 she again registered voters door-to-door in Mississippi where she fell in love with Mel Leventhal, an equally passionate Jewish law student who handled civil rights cases. She returned to New York city with him where he was attending law school.
While working on her first novel, Alice and Leventhal wed and moved back to Mississippi where he could pursue civil rights litigation. Despite threats of physical violence due to their inter-racial marriage, Alice worked as a black history teacher for the local Head Start program.
Alice continued her writing, accepted a teaching position at Jackson State University and published her first volume of poetry, “Once.” Walker became pregnant and finished her first novel “The Third Life of Grange Copeland” the same week her daughter Rebecca Grant was born.
Alice’s novel received literary praise but also criticism. The story involves the murder of a woman by her husband. Many black critics said she dealt too harshly with the black male characters in her book. Alice rebutted such claims, saying that women are all too often abused by men they love.
In 1972 she accepted a teaching position at Wellesley College where Alice began one of the first women’s studies courses in the nation, a women’s literature course. She also wanted to introduce her students to black women writers. In her search for material, she found Zora Neale Hurston, a much forgotten Harlem Renaissance writer. She would later edit an anthology of Hurston’s work and place a memorial on Zora’s unmarked grave in Florida.
Seemingly inspired by this new heroine, Alice wrote fervently. In 1973 she published her first collection of short stories, “In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women” and her second volume of poetry “Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems.”
After numerous awards, she became an editor for “Ms. Magazine,” and by 1976 published her second novel, “Meridian.” The book chronicled a young woman’s struggle during the civil rights movement. At the same time, her marriage to Leventhal ended.
“Meridian” received much acclaim and Alice accepted a Guggeheim Fellowship to concentrate full-time on her writing. She left “Ms.” and moved to San Francisco where she still maintains a residence today. There Alice published her second book of short stories, “You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down,” and in 1982 finished “The Color Purple,” which earned her the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award and escalated Alice to worldwide fame.
When the movie “The Color Purple” premiered in her hometown of Eatonton, Alice received a hero’s welcome and parade in her honor. Her sister Ruth began “The Color Purple Foundation” which does charitable work for education.
In 1984 Alice published her third volume of poetry, “Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful.” She followed this in 1988 with her second book of essays, “Living By the Word.” In 1989 she published her epic novel “The Temple of My Familiar.”
Alice next published another volume of poetry, “Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems.” In 1991 she published a children’s story, “Finding the Green Stone.” This was soon followed by her fifth novel “Possessing the Secret of Joy” which chronicles the psychic trauma of one woman’s life after forced genital mutilation. She also wrote a companion book “Warrior Marks” chronicling her experiences.
In 1996 Alice published “The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult” in which she describes through essays and journal entries the loss of her beloved mother and her own battle with Lyme disease and depression. The book also contains Alice’s own version of the screenplay to “The Color Purple” and many of her notes and remembrances from the making of her novel into a film.
The next year Alice published another non-fiction title “Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism” with more essays inspired by her ever-expanding political activism. Alice remains an outspoken activist on issues of oppression and power and championing the victims of racism, sexism, and military-industrialism.
In September 1998, Alice published “By the Light of My Father’s Smile”. Her first novel in six years, the book examines the connections between sexuality and spirituality. The multi-narrated story of several generations explores the relationships of fathers and daughters.
Alice’s newest work is a collection of stories called “The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart.” The stories combine autobiography and fiction as Alice examines the bindings and breakings of relationships with friends and family and lovers.
Alice Walker truly exemplifies the power of the Southern Voice in American literature.
Fiercely loyal to her native South and abiding faith, Flannery O’Connor held little patience for those who saw her depiction of the South as a caricature and who felt she could not possibly share or take seriously the religious preoccupations of her characters. But neither her critics nor the lingering health struggles over the last fifteen years of her life – a time of great suffering – could prevent her from preserving the integrity of a body of work that, however lacking in bulk, places her securely in the first rank of American fiction writers of the twentieth century.
Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925 – the only child of Edward O’Connor, Jr., and Regina (Cline) O’Connor. Both her parents’ families had emigrated from Ireland to Georgia in the nineteenth century. The O’Connors were also Catholics in a Protestant-dominated South, and Flannery’s education came from a series of parochial schools.
In 1938, her father’s real estate business had suffered during the Depression; he began working as a real estate appraiser for the Federal Housing Authority, which required the family to relocate to Atlanta. O’Connor and her mother chose to live in Milledgeville. Her father struggled with lupus, which ultimately consumed his life in 1941.
From 1938 to 1945, O’Connor received her primary education in Milledgeville. While in high school she wrote and drew cartoons for the school newspaper. At Georgia State College for Women, also in Milledgeville, she earned a bachelors of arts in English and Sociology. And more significantly, she dropped her first name and wrote under the name of Flannery O’Connor.
From 1945 to 1948, she did postgraduate work at the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she undertook a formal course of reading that introduced her to the work of modern writers such as Joyce, Kafka, and her fellow Southerner William Faulkner. After several unsuccessful efforts to get published, her fiction began to be accepted both by popular magazines such as Mademoiselle and journals such as The Sewanee Review. She also won the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award for her novel in progress, earning her an award of $750 and a contract with Rinehart and Company to publish the book upon its satisfactory (to them) completion.
During 1948 and 1949, O’Connor worked on her book at an artists’ colony near Saratoga Springs, New York. She boarded at the home of noted poet Robert Fitzgerald and his family in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Friction developed with Rinehart when O’Connor refused to revise her book according to the publisher’s editorial suggestions and they characterized her as uncooperative. She obtained her contractural release and signed a contract with Harcourt, Brace, 1951.
She began to suffer pains in her arms and shoulder joints and developed a high fever on her train trip to Georgia for Christmas. She was hospitalized on her arrival and like her father was diagnosed with lupus. She never again would she be completely healthy, but through therapy and a strict diet recovered sufficiently to complete her novel- titled Wise Blood, published in 1952. In contrast to her experience with Rinehart, she was quite responsive to editorial insight and advice–and would remain so throughout her life.
Though O’Connor remained a devout Catholic, her stories usually focused upon mainstream Southern whites who professed the Protestant faith of fundamentalist and often highly idiosyncratic tendencies.
She continued to write and to publish short stories, including “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” which first appeared in 1953 in a paperback anthology called The Avon Book of Modern Writing, and two years later became the title piece of A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. This collection was praised by reviewers, and it sold unexpectedly well for a book of short fiction.
Despite continuing health problems, O’Connor continued living and working with her mother on their family farm. Her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away, published in 1960 to mixed reviews.
O’Connor saw her reputation consolidated in the early 1960s with several essays on her fiction in the Summer 1962 issue of the Sewanee Review and the publication in 1963 of her three books in a one-volume paperback edition called Three by Flannery O’Connor.
At the end of 1963, she suffered a pre-Christmas fainting spell that led to the diagnosis of a fibroid tumor, which was surgically removed in February 1964. Fearing the worst, she devoted her remaining strength to finish the last two of the nine stories planned for her forthcoming collection, Everything That Rises Must Converge. The book appeared in 1965 but as a posthumous publication. O’Connor died on August 3, 1964, at the age of thirty-nine.
In the carefully crafted prose of the two novels and nineteen short stories that she deemed worthy of book publication, she created a gallery of fantastic-seeming but deeply felt and sympathetic characters, in whose stories the humorous often gives way with sickening swiftness to the horrible, and whose lives, however twisted and tortured they may become, remain steadfast searches for the healing power of grace.
Although many writers in this century have sought to catch the flavor of what critics customarily term “Southern gothic,” O’Connor is unsurpassed in the mingling of violence and beauty, of the glorious and grotesque, that is her particular mood and theme.
Nelle Harper Lee (1926 – 2016), simply Harper Lee to millions across America, a Southern voice for decades based on her first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. Her other book though written in the 1950s, Go Set a Watchman, did not see the light of day until 2015 and was published as a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize classic.
Harper Lee wrote what she knew best, the Deep South of the 1930s from a child’s point of view. Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama provided her with ample opportunities to portray the irrationality of adult attitudes in the racist culture that permeated the South.
A footnote worth mentioning: the character in her novel named Dill was based upon her real childhood friend, Truman Capote. What were the odds that little old Monroeville, Alabama would rear up both Truman Capote and Harper Lee? Today, Monroeville, Alabama entertains thousands of visitors who flock into town to get a glimpse at the old courthouse and homes that Harper Lee wrote about in To Kill a Mockingbird. Might I suggest you might want to visit the link below to learn more-http://www.southernliterarytrail.org/monroeville.html