Rocky Porch Moore’s Whirlwind Weekend

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Rocky Porch Moore’s Whirlwind Weekend


The question racing through my mind was “What if no one comes?” followed immediately by the more terrifying “What if everyone comes?”  The weeks leading up to the initial book signing and launch for Clemenceau’s Daughters were fraught with anticipation.  After all, once launched, a book can’t be un-launched.  The good folks at SYP knew just what to do to keep me from fretting myself into a frenzy:  keep the girl so busy she doesn’t have time to worry!


I was absolutely overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support from the Foley community.  Zana Price, the celebrated Queen of Foley, put on a social media blitz that made my little ole book signing rival a celebrity appearance.   She and the Foley Performing Arts Association were so gracious in providing “prime real estate” for the event at Trim A Tree, Foley’s annual holiday crafts extravaganza.


I had the pleasure of greeting a steady stream of well-wishers, from teachers to church members to former students.  Even the incomparable Mrs. Bebe Foster, a Foley institution, stopped by for a book and a chat!  Just when I started feeling like the Homecoming Queen, though, I would be brought back to reality by random shoppers asking the location of the restrooms.


The launch party itself was held at the Foley Art Center, a quaint New Orleans shotgun house perched right across from Heritage Park, all bedecked in twinkling Christmas splendor.  The evening was filled with laughter, joy, and those delicious little sausage cheese balls my precious mother-in-law, Marge, spent hours preparing. I even had the pleasure of recording a radio interview with Clark Stewart of Foley’s own WHEP.  Punch flowed and my pen flew almost as quickly as the time.  All the while, SYP’s Terri Gerrell was at my side to make sure the events progressed seamlessly.


Now that I’ve had a day or two to catch my breath and reflect on the whole experience, I am even more excited to know that Clemenceau’s Daughters is now gracing coffee tables and bedside tables all over, well, the world!   My students would call the launch “epic”, but I think a more accurate description would be Southern to the bone…not that silly, cliché TV South, but the easy-going gentile attitude that feels like home.  What could be more fitting?

Rocky Porch Moore

Paisley Memories Contest Time


Paisley Memories CONTEST TIME!!

Here is your chance to win an autographed copy of Paisley Memories. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself on my Facebook PAGE, wearing a paisley blouse. This contest is open to men too, not just women. 🙂

My daughter will check out all the pictures and choose a winner. You will be notified by me, and I will mail you a signed copy of Paisley Memories. The contest started on December 12th and ends December 30th.

So throw on those paisley blouses and send me some pictures!



Rocky’s Reflections On Book Publishing

Rocky writing

Reflections On Book Publishing

My ideas of book publishing were firmly ensconced in the lore of the 18th century.  I was Joe March, quill in hand, happily scratching away at my manuscript by the oily lamplight in a frigid attic while my family slept through the witching hours.  I was hoarding my spare change for parchment to be wrapped tidily in prickly twine, my precious words crowding for space and hoping to find their place… leatherbound and gracing private libraries.


Fast forward to the 21st century and cue reality!  The penning of Clemenceau’s Daughters, my southern gothic romp through the foothills of the Tennessee Valley, has been anything but idyllic in the making.   Armed with a laptop and fueled by an ungodly amount of Coke (the drink, not the drug), I wrote the initial draft from a fold-up camp chair at the soccer field, the stands between basketball games and volleyball matches, and that sweet spot between 3-5AM when my house is quiet.  The oldest of my four kids had left for college and the remaining three had become pretty self-serve, meaning I could trust them not to kill themselves or each other if I slipped away for a bit of writing.  


As much as I longed (and still do) to tuck myself into my writing cottage and click, click, click to my heart’s desire in my thinking hat—it worked for Joe March; why not for me—I followed the one piece of  “How to Make It in the Publishing World” advice that appears universal in every article, blog post, or book I’ve read on the matter:  don’t quit your day job!  I am a high school English teacher, and I’m here to tell you that any notions of drafting a manuscript while students happily read Fahrenheit 451 went up in smoke faster than Montag’s illusions of making fire chief.


The question people ask me most often is  “When do you find the time to write?”  The answer lies in not waiting for the perfect time, but in simply taking time.   Yes, I’m busy.  Yes, I have a fulfilling career and a large family. I feel like I go 100mph from event to event, often sliding in sideways at the last minute to be there.  But be there I am!  The same goes for writing.  I write during ball practice, between the dryer buzzers, while the pie bakes, in the early mornings, and on weekends when I’m not cheering on the Crimson Tide.  I think about what I’ll write while waiting in line at the grocery store, driving back and forth to school, and especially when I am running.  I can get a character worked out more on a three mile run than sitting at a screen for three hours any day of the week.


Clemenceau’s Daughters was particularly challenging in that I wanted to make the setting as autobiographically accurate as possible while keeping the characters and action fictional.  I wanted to capture the nonchalance of the prejudices of the times and interweave that with superstition.  Folks will want to assign parallels to the characters because the family framework is markedly similar.  The family dynamic, however, is my creation.  If anyone’s part can be “based on the true story”, I reckon the dog comes closest.

Clemenceaus Daughters RGB-300

Purchase your copy here!

Veteran’s Day Salute to my Birth Father-Delta Dad

Veteran’s Day Salute to my Birth Father-Delta Dad

I found my birth mother 20+ years ago, and my birth father several years later. I wrote him a letter, and he called me. He was suspect of my motives, and tested my birth and search story many times, asking questions about circumstances  that only I (or my birth mother) would be able to answer.deltadad

After proving my identity, our telephone conversations relaxed into the banter of getting to know each other.  I asked him what he did for a living. His replies were more impressive than any of the fatherly fairy tales I made up during my search.

My birth father told me that he was retired military. He shared that he was hand-picked to be a member of the Delta Force. At the time of our reunion, I had no idea what the Special Services were. I did not understand the unimaginable level of physical endurance and training required to be a member of Delta Force.

Over the course of many conversations, my birth father shared with me his experience of standing with the hostages in Iran, and watching as one of the helicopters collided with a transport plane loaded with fuel. Upon witnessing the collision and subsequent explosion he said, “There goes our ride.” The hostages were eventually freed, and my birth father was one of several Delta members who met privately with President Carter in the aftermath.

The adventures and heroism of my biological father’s stories grew as he felt more comfortable with his newfound daughter. As a writer, I was ravenous for details. Despite my reporter-like questions, he told every story with frustrating vagueness. Secrecy is the Delta way. Loose lips, even decades after these Delta missions, have the power to sink ships.

When I found my birth father after thirteen years of searching, and told my husband about our telephone conversations, he suggested that I not get my hopes up for the stories to be true. He said, “You don’t know him yet. It could be made up. I mean what are the odds that you’d find a superhero?”

Well, in terms of military service, I did find a superhero. My birth father served in Vietnam, did a multi-year stint in the Delta Force, and stayed in the military for thirty-years. When I met him, he gave me the awards he earned in Delta.  I was the only one (of his three children) who wanted them. I never met his other children, but that’s a blog for another day.

Like many adoption reunions, ours did not survive the honeymoon stage. A life of military service turned my Delta Dad into a steely being, who finds subterfuge and ulterior motives in everyone he encounters, including me. Military service is hard, and there is no escape from the psychological alterations it leaves behind.

I will not go into the details of how our reunion crashed, but will say that I am still happy to have known him. While we may never see eye-to-eye, he gave me a deeper understanding of the might of our military. Meeting him also revealed the source of my my strong-headed determination. I often think that had I been cast from any other biological source, I would not have survived my tumultuous childhood.

As the biological child of a gosh-darn, real-life military hero, on this Veteran’s day, I salute all of our veteran heroes, and their families.

Blessings for healing of all war-wounds,

V.L. Brunskill

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The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee Book Update!

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee Book Update!

The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee

I appreciate all the recent questions I’ve received from readers about my book. Today I thought I’d share a book update. Hallelujah, I finished another (the last?) round of edits and sent the manuscript back to my publisher. Of course, I immediately found a few more things to change. This same thing always happens to me the moment I click the “publish” button for a blog post—glaring mistakes vault off the page. Honestly, I think at some point a writer must call it finished and stop editing.

Probably the most exciting news I have to report is…my expected release date is January 28, 2016. Exciting! That’s the date my book will officially be available for purchase (although pre-orders will be available in December).  January 28 sounds like the perfect date to me, and once I researched what happened on that date in history, I’m even more convinced. At the risk of sounding Cat in the Hat-ish, two things happened on January 28 that indirectly relate to The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee.

Release Date! The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee

Thing One. On January 28, 1956, Elvis Presley made his first television appearance singing Heartbreak Hotel on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. Although Gracie Lee wasn’t born until a few years later, she loved Elvis and followed news of his concerts, hospital stays, and Memphis sightings in the newspaper. Most people in the Delta region did.

Thing Two. On January 28, 1978, the first episode of the television show Fantasy Island debuted. Since it came on right after Love Boat, I feel certain Gracie Lee watched it at some point, although she didn’t much like it.

(January 28 was also the date the space shuttle Challenger exploded. After you read the book, we can discuss the symbolism of that tragedy. And no, I’m not making light of that horrible day in history.)

Soon, like maybe this week, I’ll get my first peek at a book cover design.


Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

– See more at:

Paisley Memories Cover Reveal Party

Saturday, September 12th was a special day for me. It was my first public appearance as an author. I chose my outfit carefully, and groomed my hair meticulously. My ratty t-shirt, leggings, and hair in a pony-tail weren’t going to cut it. A professional woman is what I was aiming for. It wasn’t until after my husband and I arrived that a dark stain mysteriously appeared right smack in the middle of my blouse. Oh well, I am only human.

Family and friends ventured out in the rainy weather and gathered around me and a covered billboard, waiting for the unveiling of my book cover. I was more nervous than I’d ever been. I’m a sociable person by nature, but not one to love all the attention being showered on me. Plus, I wondered if they were all looking at the spot in the middle of my blouse that seemed to grow by the minute.

The unveiling carried on without a mishap. I didn’t knock the billboard off the stand when removing the cover, my vocal cords didn’t squeak from fear like a thirteen year old boy, and I sold several novels in the process. I call that a great book event!

Cover Reveal

Paisley Memories started as just notes on a scrap piece of paper. Over the next four years it evolved into a novel.  I’ve always wanted to write, but didn’t know what I wanted to write about. I wasn’t divinely inspired, but the inspiration came on more slowly. My daughter, Sarah, has Down syndrome. Through the years she has made me cry and laugh at her antics and the situations she gets herself into. I wrote the type of novel I would have enjoyed as a young woman with a child like my daughter; something to make me laugh and realize that it’s going to be okay.

Now I have to prepare for my book release party to be held within the next few weeks. Sarah will be in full paparazzi mode with her camera, so for all those that wish to attend, be prepared to show your pearly whites. And I promise to wear a stain free blouse.

Click the book cover below to purchase your copy. Use Coupon code: READNOW for $3.00 off your purchase.

Paisley Memories



Using Teamwork at the Decatur Book Festival – A Great Experience


Using Teamwork at the Decatur Book Festival – A Great Experience


I have just returned from the Decatur Book Festival. At SYP publishing, we are using teamwork to ensure successful events. This is one of the largest book festivals in the Southeastern United States. It is said eighty to ninety thousand people attend the two-day event. The festival is a weekend extravaganza with something for everyone. There are parades, speeches, publishers, famous authors, beginning authors, and some of everything else to do with the publishing business, and don’t forget the books. Books, books, and more books.

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        SR Staley and V.L. Brunskill signed a few shoes.


We go there for a variety of reasons.

  1. It gives the authors a chance to meet the readers and the readers a chance to meet them.
  2. The Company and the authors are exposed to readers who may not have heard of them before.
  3. We want to learn and get new ideas. There’s no better place than a festival filled with people who do what we do.
  4. I must admit, we’d like to sell a few books.
  5. Publicity for the authors.
  6. It helps build the SYP Publishing team. At SYP we believe that working together, as a team, helps every author and every book. This year we took five authors to the event. Some had never met each other.



  1. Attending were: Scott Archer Jones, William Mark, Roberta Burton, SR Staley, and V.L. Brunskill. Victoria Hughes, myself, and a junior bookmark distributor were also part of the fray.

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Personally for me, the last reason is probably the most important. This group met, got in sync, and worked solidly together as a team for two days. I know this will carry over into their marketing and social media platforms. SYP Publishing is a small, independent, traditional publisher. We find that a concentrated team effort helps to make the company, the authors, and the books stand out in a crowded business. It is the same theory used by social media—exponential exposure.


The authors talked with readers, met new contacts, took pictures of each other, and the list goes on. Authors who attended last year were watching social media and retweeting or sharing on social media. Teamwork! By working together to help each other stand out from the crowd, the exposure an author receives increases exponentially. And everyone had fun. This is not a new theory. We all need to make a concerted effort to do it.

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Join us next year. Come and meet the SYP Publishing team of authors. We look forward to 2016.




Restoring My Faith in Humanity

Restoring My Faith in Humanity


As a police officer, it is easy to succumb to the “us vs. them” mentality. This job is mostly thankless and forces us to seek refuge within. It is easy to get jaded. Everyone lies, and I mean everyone! We are never called when everything is going “good”. We see the absolute worst in humanity. A good police officer will take these hits in stride and keep going despite the malevolence, but make no mistake, that IS the hardest part of this job. I preface this because today was a good day. My faith renewed. As I sat in a rather secluded spot writing a report, a woman stopped and approached my car. She must have passed by and circled around with an idea that she had been carrying around. She looked on the verge of tears and handed me a $20 bill. “I want you to know there are people out there who care. Please take this and let it buy you a few lunches this week.” Shocked, I denied the money letting her know that it wasn’t necessary, but I realized her almost tears were from pride. “Please, let me buy you a couple of lunches” she said. She didn’t want praise, discretion, or gifts, she wanted to say thank you. Slightly embarrassed, I took the money and to honor her wish, I bought my lunch. Later, while grabbing a drink at a convenient store, the clerk told me the gentleman in line before me paid for my drink! It’s not much, but it was a sweet gesture and his way of saying thank you.

For that special woman and man today, you are welcome. Thank you for caring. We need you now more than ever, and I can only hope that I remain worthy of your thanks.

-Your humble servant.


Seven cool and fun things I experienced at this year’s Decatur Book Festival

Seven cool and fun things I experienced at this year’s Decatur Book Festival

I attended the 2015 Decatur Book Festival with my publisher, Southern Yellow Pine Publishing on September 5-6th. It was a blast, and much more fun than last year. (Check out a gallery of festival photos from the Atlanta Journal Constitution here, including one of our crew here.) I’m a big fan of attending festivals and marketplaces as an author because I learn so much from about marketing and what resonates with readers by talking to fellow authors, book lovers, readers, and buyers. (Oh, yeah, I also like to sell books.)

So, I’ve compiled a quick list of the more fun and exciting things I experienced this year at Decatur, both as a writer fine-tuning my craft and a participant who just enjoys engaging with people and having fun.

  1. Guerrilla Haiku

IMG_1394I’ve always been a bit anxious about poetry, even though I know a lot of people that write it, and I enjoy reading it. On our first day, however, we were challenged by a group of students using Haiku (#haikuDBF) to “promote” discussion and dialogue among strangers. We embraced the challenge, and wrote the following Haiku–three lines, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables–with sidewalk chalk:


Isabella IS

An awesome pirate lady

who trumps Jack Sparrow

This turned out to do exactly what these teens thought it would do: promote discussion! Many people simply noticed the Haiku, linked it to the sign, and then to the book. In addition to pulling me out of my comfort zone as a budding Haiku poet, it turned out (unintentionally) to be a great marketing tool.

2. Fine tuning my log lines

After talking to several readers and buyers, I realized that Tortuga Bay was more than just a sequel to The Pirate of Panther Bay. The plot and story reflects a powerful new character arc for Isabella, the lead character, and I began to articulate it much more lucidly. The Pirate of Panther Bay is about Isabella’s search and discovery of her own identity, reforged after her escape from the sugar plantation and taking over as captain of her own pirate ship. Tortuga Bay is about Isabella finding her place in the world. As a friend of mine says, she is a “woman beast”!

3. Signing sneakers

IMG_1431Two other young readers were walking around Decatur getting other kids to sign their sneakers. They wondered if authors would sign them, and I’m proud to say that the Southern Yellow Pine Publishing authors were the first on the canvas! (Thank you Ellie and Hannah for providing some inspiration and joy at DBF this year.)

4. Spontaneous video interviews with kids

This year’s festival seemed to attract a lot of families–kids, teens, and young adults. This was great for me because my books are strong cross overs enjoyed by readers firmly within the adult and YA action/adventure categories. (Thank you M.R. Street for making sure I don’t lose my inner teen.)

We also found a lot of kids willing to engage with us and ask us questions. So, we pulled out the smart phone and asked them to pose any question they wanted on camera. I’ve posted them to my (SR Staley) youtube channel(with parental permission, of course) under the play list “Kids on the Street”. This was a great way to engage young readers in our profession. I hope to continue this at other book signings and at Downtown Marketplace in Tallahassee.

  • Jo Jo’s interview with me can be found here.
  • Brodie’s interview with me can be found here.
  • Gunnar’s interview with William Mark and can be found here.

5. My (really big) sign

SR Staley Tortuga BayThe one big marketing take away for me this year was the importance and effectiveness of signage. We were able to put up a 6-foot sign advertisingTortuga Bay and the impact was obvious. Of course, we were working with a great cover crafted by SYPP’s Jim Hamer, and that helped a lot. Still, we could see people walking down the sidewalk, see the sign, look over at the book rack, and then step over and pick up the book. (We had similar signs for Robert Burton’s The Burgundy Briefcase and V.L. Brunskill’s Waving Backwards.) The cover design had a huge impact on drawing readers into the booth. Thank you Jim for crafting such a captivating cover!

6. Getting to know my fellow authors

I also really really enjoyed getting to know my fellow SYPP authors Scott Archer Jones (who flew in from New Mexico!) author of The Big Wheel, William Mark (Lost in the Darkness), Roberta Burton (The Burgundy Briefcase), and V.L. Brunskill (Waving Backwards).  These are great people and their books are getting excellent press (and winning awards). IMG_1386

7. Selling Books

Of course, I really enjoyed selling my books. Tortuga Bay and The Pirate of Panther Bay did well with the crowd this year, and having two books in the same series made a big difference. Several people bought both books (even though they are stand alone stories). I sold a few copies of St. Nic, Inc. but the Panther Bay Pirate series was the clear winner for the weekend. I doubt I would have been as successful if my books were each one-offs. Thus, this year’s experience is another example of the benefit of series and multi-book authors.

I can’t wait until next year!




For My Favorite Survivor – Pat Conroy at Decatur Book Festival

For My Favorite Survivor – Pat Conroy at Decatur Book Festival

Yesterday, in a standing-room only session at the AJC Decatur Book Festival, I sat in the choir loft of the First Baptist Church, mesmerized once again by Pat Conroy’s candid and comedic telling of a life spent writing about survival. Pat was interviewed by his longtime literary agent Marly Rusoff, and shared the stage with novelist Jonathan Odell.

Like Conroy, I was raised in a family where mental illness, violence and dysfunction flourished. Unlike Conroy, I have not yet found my full voice for describing the damage and self-delusion of my parents. Conroy knows more than any writer, the danger of family estrangement that is inherent in writing novels that are semi-autobiographical. Conroy has lived a lifetime of emotional repercussions as a result of his near-mythic ability to bleed-out parental flaws onto page-after-page of heart-wrenching prose.

My debut novel hints at the atrocities of my childhood, including months spent homeless and hiding in a shelter for battered women and children. However,  unlike Conroy who slaughters familial beasts with open-fisted humor, Waving Backwards swats at the underbelly of childhood violence.

Waving Backwards is a story of family dysfunction, coming-of-age, adoption search and abuse.  Listening to Conroy yesterday, clarified for me the reasons (beyond my extreme newbie status in the craft of novel writing) that I did not delve into the morbid details of childhood terror with more clarity. Conroy explained how his book editor for The Great Santini, edited out some of his father’s bad behavior in the novel, because she did not believe that “any father could treat his children so badly.” Conroy went on to say that at the time of Santini’s publication in 1976, “America was not read for that kind of abuse.”

Long before editors tucked and trimmed my novel, I did a fair amount of abuse-editing. Conroy’s comments made me realize that I was seeking to protect the pro-adoption segment of American society.  An an author and adoptee, I judged them ill-equipped to deal with the fact that many adoptive parents are not suited to adopt; and that sometimes a biological parent is a better care-giving option, even if they are financially needy. Abundant monetary resources do not make someone a better parent. Adoption can be healthy and successful. However, that is not my story to tell.

I have been blessed to hear Pat Conroy speak on three separate occasions, and each time I am left with a new nugget of eloquent insight into the task of writing as an abuse survivor. Like Mr. Conroy, I am a reluctant memory keeper. The daily battles that my family locked away, flourish vividly and painfully in my writer’s mind.

Yesterday, as I descended from the choir loft, I thought about sharing my book with this masterful author. In typical writer’s fashion, self-doubt reared its ugly head, and I almost decided against it. Yet, the desire to give something back to the man who has gifted me (and the world) with such courageous literature, made me open a copy of Waving Backwards and write, “For my favorite survivor. Thank you for inspiring me to write.”

Hands shaking, in what I now refer to as the ‘Conroy quake’, I handed him my book, snapped a few photos of it sitting on his signing table, and walked off in a teary cloud of giddy delight.conroywb

Thank you Pat Conroy for accepting my humble gift, and for helping to pave a path for my next novel, which will delve more fearlessly into the life-long burden of child abuse in adoption.

Blessings for less self-editing and more truth,

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