Compulsive Reader Prints Review of Notorious in Nashville

Excited to see a reprint of Will Maguire’s review of Notorious in Nashville, first published in Well Read Magazine! Thank you, Maggie Ball and Mandy Haynes, editors of these literary magazines, and thank you, Will Maguire.

Will Maguire's Review of Notorious in Nashville in Compulsive Reader

Fun at First Saturday Art Crawl!

Thanks to the staff at Chauvet for such a warm welcome at the Art Crawl Saturday night! Around 400 visitors came to the gallery to enjoy the art exhibition. I met some readers and got some great exposure for Notorious in Nashville. It was a big night, lots of fun!

First Scene of Notorious in Nashville

Everybody who knows Nashville and country music knows the Bluebird Cafe, so that’s where I wanted to start. Here is the opening scene:

Chapter 1

A hush hovered over the room.

Her voice. What was it about that voice? The way it came from something deep inside. Longing. Regret. Old pain for what was lost. Etched in a fresh face. How could a twenty-five-year-old possibly know all of it? But you believed she did when you heard her sing.

I’ve never been a fan of country music. Never followed country music, except for summer visits with my grandparents in south Georgia, when the radio was always tuned to the big clear channel, WSM, out of Nashville. Hearing a classic like Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You can still take me back to that simpler, sweeter time.

After those long ago summers, I didn’t pay much attention to country music.

But Willow Goodheart’s voice grabbed me, pulled me into what she was feeling, made me hold my breath.

The first chill of fall in the air

The smell of wood smoke in your hair . . .

The lyrics, unpretentious but elegant, and the hymn-like melody with a hint of blues. Her quiet rhythmic picking on the acoustic guitar. All of it. And the voice.

Not like any country song I’d ever heard.

Your heart’s first small crack

The part that you never get back . . .

The haunting verse climbed into the chorus that rang with raw honesty, with the resonance of an old soul.

There are things that will vanish,

But they don’t fade away.

Then, as Willow held the audience under her spell, another voice boomed from behind us. “That’s my song, Missy!”

A disheveled man, weathered face, wiry beard, staggered from the bar at the opposite end of the room from the stage. “Mine! You stole my song!” He lurched forward, heading toward the stage, stumbling into a table of four women. Their drinks spilled. The women shrieked.

“It’s mine!” he kept yelling.

Willow went silent in the middle of a line. The stillness in the room turned into a roar of disgruntled chatter. Several men, including Kyle, my daughter’s significant other, jumped up, but before they could rush to rescue the women, a linebacker-type from the bar swung a huge arm around the man’s skinny neck. And then, grasping his scrawny arm and gray scraggly ponytail, swept him out the door.

Stupid drunk,” Kyle said, under his breath. He sat down and reached for his beer.

“Who is that?” Holly whispered.

“He’s Notorious.” Kyle took a long pull from the bottle.

Bluebird Cafe

First Book Club of the New Year!

My long-time friend Fran Mires invited me to her Book Club in Old Hickory. What a fabulous night! It began with a feast of Southern food to celebrate my book, Notorious in Nashville. All the members had read the book and it was so satisfying to hear their take on it! Thank you, lovely ladies!

A Crepe Paper Memory

We never had much, on our small Tennessee farm, tucked away in almost Alabama. But the crepe paper dress is a reminder that there was no needle my mother would not try to thread for me.  

The second grade school play was coming up, and I was cast as Little Bo-Peep. Excited as I was to have the part, I am sure now that when my mother read the note from school, what I saw in her eyes was worry. Worry that we couldn’t afford the material to make the costume. No velvet. No satin. Not even cotton for a dress I’d wear just once.

But after a while, we went to town and bought crepe paper.

My mother made all of my clothes. Homemade was the best she could afford. She’d see a dress in the Sears catalog or in a store window in Florence, Alabama, and say, “I can make it.”  From school clothes to formals, my mother had a gift for making something out of nothing. I was much older before I understood what a luxury it was to have my own personal seamstress through all my growing-up years.

All those creations exist only in memory now, except for one. The crepe paper dress.

I could not imagine how she would ever turn paper—the kind used for wrapping a present or decorating for a party—into a dream I could wear.

But my mother was an artist.

I can see it all, still. With pinking shears in hand, she cut crisp patterns out of newspaper and spread them on the dining room table. Leaning forward, she guided the crepe paper under the Singer’s clacking needle, treadle whirring softly, like a song. Late into the night, she bent over her needlework, straight pins clamped between her teeth, her fingers slip-stitching the hem of the nearly-finished costume. All of it, fashioning from thread and paper and love, not just a dress for the play, but a crepe paper memory that has endured for decades. 

Every woman has had forgettable dresses, expensive brand names that have come and gone. My mother is gone now, too. But I can still remember the feel of the crepe paper on my little girl shoulders. Sometimes I still get the urge to look at the dress, just to marvel at my mother’s imagination and her exquisite handiwork.

I keep it close in a corner of an old bureau. And I keep it closer in a corner of my heart.

Crepe paper is fragile. But this most delicate work of art, a reminder of my mother’s love, has survived for all these years. So has my love for her.

Some things are one of a kind. This dress. And my mother.

Crepe paper dress

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