#WIPpet Wednesday #Am Writing 1/17/18 A Note from the Author

This week’s WIPpet from Cleaning House will be of a different sort. It’s the “Note From the Author” at the beginning of the novel. I’ve only done an author note for one other novel, but I think it’s necessary for Cleaning House to keep my intentions clear. I am neither making fun of nor misunderstanding the Appalachian people or their traditions in Cleaning House, because I, myself, am Appalachian born and raised.

Cleaning House is scheduled for release by Mountain Gap Books, a new Appalachian publisher, on October 1, 2018.

As for WIPpet math – I’m not even going to try.

Here’s the “Note from the Author” as it stands now, 499 words in length.

     The Appalachian (properly pronounced Ap-pa-latch-an) people are a complicated mix of Scotts-Irish, British, German, and Native American traditions blended with a heaping-helping of Protestant Christian beliefs.

We’re often misunderstood and commonly stereotyped by outsiders who know very little about our culture. That said, Cleaning House embraces the queer Appalachian experience, a unique blending of resistance, acceptance, and perseverance. We, like the rest of Appalachia, are as hearty as they come, and, yes, it is entirely possible to get our red on or dander up (pick your poison), though generally in the queer-liberal sense. Again, we’re unique and complicated. We’re rainbow pinpoints in a red, mountainous sea, but we live here happily because we’re Appalachian folk. Some of us will never leave these mountains. Some leave and never come back. But many of us, like myself, leave only to return because our lives aren’t right once we leave the mountains. Something is missing. We’re lost. Part of us dies when we leave because our roots run from the bottom of New River Gorge to the top of Mount Mitchell and those roots can only stretch so far without beginning to break.

     We’re poor and middle class. We’re educated and high school dropouts. We’re coal miners, teachers, convenience store employees, doctors, and nurses. We’re able-bodied, disabled, multi-faith, and multi-hued, but we all have one thing in common— our traditions.

     Cleaning House is primarily set in Washington County, Tennessee, where I was born and raised. While Washington County rests in the Southern Appalachian foothills, I have also lived and worked in the more rural and mountainous settings of Carter County, Tennessee, and McDowell County, West Virginia. Neither of those locations is for the faint of heart, but the people there are amazingly resilient.

     In short, I am a queer Appalachian woman and proud of it.

     I would also like to address the use of Appalachian Granny Magic alongside European and neopagan witchcraft in Cleaning House. While Appalachian Granny Magic has its beginnings in both European and Native American traditions, it is firmly rooted in Protestant Christian beliefs. The characters in Cleaning House practice both Granny Magic and witchcraft in the form of paganism because their family lineages have embraced both paths, creating a unique belief system that is on the rise in Appalachia. Many, but by no means all, Appalachian witches are as likely to call on the Holy Trinity (or Holy Spirit) as they are to call on Gaia or the Goddess, a seeming conflict, but it isn’t to the practitioners. They plant by the signs, root work, and use water-witching as a means of finding a viable water source, so why wouldn’t they pray to the God of their raising alongside the Gods of their path? With this knowledge, the reader should also realize that the herbal remedies/ medical procedures described in Cleaning House are in no way a recommendation for their use nor should it be considered medical advice. Medical care should be obtained from a qualified medical professional and never based on something you read in a work of fiction.

     As for the non-human characters in Cleaning House— please remember that this is a contemporary fantasy novel, a work of fiction, so the liberties are mine, the author’s, to take. But if you don’t believe in fairies or wee people, find a quiet, wooded spot somewhere, relax, and open your mind to the possibilities. You might be surprised by what you find.

Read more #WIPpet Wednesday posts from Cleaning House HERE.

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.


  1. Ah, this makes me even more excited to read it! My local culture is quite different, but I can definitely relate to both the desire to be home and to the beautiful multiculturalism. I can’t wait to see how the story develops.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d be surprised by the number of people who think we’re so ignorant we cannot pronounce our own geographic name. I’ve actually been corrected by outsiders thinking they’ll one-up the stupid hillbilly. (pro tip: never correct a region’s native people on how they pronounce their own location. It makes them look, among other things, arrogant) Glad to hear you were pronouncing it correctly. The Appalachians were named by the early Spanish explorers who came to the mountains via the Apalachicola region. I don’t know when the long A sound came into play, but it’s wrong. However, it alerts us to outsiders as soon as they open their mouths. 🙂

      I’m excited about this novel, can you tell?


  2. This was amazing… And I loved reading the historical roots for these characters here (and in your comments… I didn’t know the name came from Spanish, but it makes sense now).

    We have a similar thing in a city (it’d be a town by modern standard, but it’s always been a city since the early railroad days) by where I grew up. It’s written as Mechanicville (because of the trains), but locals always add an “s” and say Mechanicsville… as one old guy told me when I worked at the McD’s in high school “What you think there was only one working on those rigs?” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am fascinated by all of this! I love learning about different belief systems and it’s even more interesting when they are ones like this where different systems have merged or work in tandem with one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like it, and welcome to modern Appalachia. The blending doesn’t always work well, but if you look closely, you can see where it does. It’s part of our roots we seem to be losing, at least in some regards. Change can be good, but it can also make us forget.


  4. I think this author’s note is necessary in a novel set in Appalachia. My mother was from north Georgia, on the lower skirts of the Appalachians, proud of her heritage,and stunningly knowledgeable about plants and their medicinal uses. Although my family moved to Atlanta when I was 8 weeks old, the mountains are still my home. I now live in upstate New York, where I am comfortably situated among the Helderbergs, Taconics, and the Adirondacks. I’ve lived far from these mountains, but never happily. You have captured the tenor of this heritage perfectly in this note, and you’ve certainly whetted my interest in the novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *grins* Wow! Thanks! I’m glad I caught your attention so well. I love these mountains. I wouldn’t have said that when I was younger. In fact, I wanted to get as far away from them as I could, but by the time I was in my mid-twenties, that changed. I not only wanted to be back in the mountains, but I wanted to raise my children there. My youngest was born here, and I’ve come to embrace every bit of these mountains as my own. I can’t get around in them like I once did, but my heart is here, and it always will be. Write what you know, so the saying goes, and for once, I actually am.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.