passion longwood plantation

See this building? Longwood Plantation. Natchez, Mississippi. A 30,000-square-foot dream house, begun by a Union sympathizer.

In 1861.

From a distance, Longwood‘s octagonal mass and cherry-on-top promises opulence. Grandeur. Impressive attention to architectural detail befitting a couple obsessed with living in the belly of their dream.

It’s only when one ventures inside that she learns the truth.

The Civil War bankrupted the family. When he sent the workers north in 1862, he didn’t know he’d be dead by 1864. She moved into the mansion’s basement with her eight children, still fighting until her death in 1897 to garner federal reparations to finish her dream, to make the five stories above her head more than an elaborate, unfinished attic.

Right now, I know how she felt.

passion longwood plantation

Passion is a ball-buster. It takes completely sane people and makes them crazy. Obsessed. Cycloptic in focus.

That’s me, Dear Reader. I’m all those things. I could bore you with my despair, or I could take MTM’s advice and realize I’m over-eager and want too much, too soon. (He doesn’t have to do our 2014 tax return today and see the substantial five-figure writing loss, though…..)

In public, I try to focus on the positives. Nobody wants me to lift the veil right now.

If you’ve read my books, THANK YOU. If you’ve reviewed them, recommended them to someone, bought them as gifts, mentioned them as reading options anywhere, pestered your local librarians, thrown me parties, hosted me in your home, submitted Make a Memory stories or anything else, THANK YOU.

Your lives are swamped with noise, distractions and requests for your time. If you’ve given me time, THANK YOU. You’ve probably already done everything you can to help Not Without My Father find an audience.


If you have a minute or two and are comfortable with any of the following activities, I would appreciate that time more than I can type today. I’m beaten. And I’m bloodied. And I’ve cried oceans.

  1. I’m running a special via Facebook ad. It’s called “Money-back Guarantee!” If you know someone who needs to read Not Without My Father, please share the post on their Facebook wall. Tag them by name and tell them WHY they need to read the book or what it meant to you in the post’s description. To do this, click “Write Post” after you click “Share.” Between now and May 12, Not Without My Father electronic versions have a money-back guarantee. If someone purchases the e-book and is dissatisfied, I’ll refund their money with valid proof of purchase. As an added bonus to you, Dear Reader, I’ll award one of my five precious copies of NWMF, signed by practically everyone in the book, to a lucky winner. Between now and May 12, 2015, simply share the “Money-back Guarantee!” post, follow the instructions above, and tag me to enter.
  2. If you’re in any social media group and you’ve read one of my books, please craft a quick post and tell others what the story meant to you.
  3. If you know anyone who selects speakers for groups, I would appreciate an introduction/recommendation for the fall season. Personal recommendations are the most successful asks. Many libraries, retirement communities, colleges and universities, private clubs, companies and business groups pay speakers. I can provide a list of references as well as professional video, and I can tailor a presentation to a specific group. Anyone who’s seen me in action will tell you I’m an awesome presenter.
  4. If you’re connected to anyone with a large online following, please recommend Not Without My Father to them. They might feature it somewhere.
  5. I mentioned libraries on Friday. Libraries BUY my titles. Whether you use your local library or not, you’re a resident of the library’s jurisdiction and thus a possible patron. Please either use their online request-a-book form to ask them to purchase my titles, or ask the person in charge of purchasing decisions to buy my books the next time you visit. Again, you DO NOT have to use your local library to make requests. Other people may find my books and be inspired to Make a Memory because of your efforts. And if they ask, YES… books are available at both Ingram and Baker & Taylor, the two primary places libraries purchase books.


For the next couple of weeks, I won’t be posting here, and I’ll be scarce throughout social media. I need to take some time to nurture my soul and heal my shredded spirit (AND complete a West Coast book trip.) In the interest of zoning out as soon as possible, I’ve disabled comments today. I look forward to seeing you online around May 1.

Same batty time. Same batty channel.

I love reader notes. Maggie devoured an advance copy of Not Without My Father. I’m grateful to her for reading and for taking time to pen this bit of inbox sunshine.

Because one never knows
when kind words
will find a person
at the perfect time.

Dear Andra,

I just finished your book and loved it. Thank you for taking the time to experience the Natchez Trace Parkway and to write this book. I got tickled at the dialog between you and your father and found myself laughing out loud, Then just as the laughter faded from one chapter, I was deeply touched during those moments of realization for you and your father regarding your relationship. What made the book so special and endearing to me was that you included your father’s thoughts and shared some of who he is. I look forward to reading your other books as well…So, keep on writing Ms. Lady! 

The Natchez Trace Parkway is an amazing place. The next time you are on the parkway, please stop at the Visitors Center in Tupelo and say hello.  

With the warmest regards,

Maggie Walker

natchez trace

Get my newest paperback photography collection, Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time.

Order today at these outlets:

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Penny O’Neill isn’t a stranger here. You know her as Life on the Cutoff. Her comments are thoughtful delights.

When several Chicago area groups tapped my publicist for appearances, I must confess something embarrassing: I didn’t land enough gigs to justify the trip. Two committed groups fell through with no explanation. And from my expanded speaking experience, I knew what remained wouldn’t cover my expenses, even if every soul in attendance bought both books.

That never, ever happens.

I didn’t cancel my trip, though.

Because I wanted to meet Penny.

She offered to let me crash in her guest room (known as the B&B) and even volunteered to pick me up at Midway. A couple of days before I boarded my flight, she mentioned she’d invited a few friends to meet me. I dropped my bags in the B&B and slipped into her sunny kitchen. I expected a couple of ladies to show up for a brunch in a stranger’s honor. Instead, I met more than a dozen exquisite women.

penny o'neill

I made many new friends as we chatted through the morning and into the afternoon. Some already owned copies of my books, thanks to Penny. Others left with autographed volumes of their own.

My life story is richer
because of Penny.

penny o'neill

I loved hanging out in her kitchen, sipping hot coffee and watching her famed herds of deer pillage the snowy yard. She and Tom treated me like family, took care of me through the ups and downs of book presentations and lent an understanding ear while I ranted about toll roads. She listened more than her share, given my prednisone-induced hyper-hormonal state. She plied me with tasty food. She showed me spots about which she’s often written. She introduced me to one of her daughters, and I found yet another friend.

penny o'neill

There’s Penny. On my right. Your left.

Writing may not pour dollars into my bank account, but my investment portfolio is priceless because it’s populated with Penny. With people like her.

With people like you.

If you don’t know Penny, subscribe to Life on the Cutoff HERE.