I have a new favorite necklace.  Well, it’s “new” to me.  I inherited it from my mother’s best friend’s mother when she passed away this past year.  I don’t know the history of the piece of jewelry, and I don’t know how often it was worn.  I don’t know if it was given as a gift, or if it was inherited from someone’s mother or grandmother.  I only know that it is currently mine.

It is a small hourglass, with real sand, encased in a 14 karat gold setting.  I don’t normally wear yellow gold, so when the piece was given to me, I wondered if I’d ever actually wear it.  I have a three-year old who loves to pull on my necklaces, so I haven’t worn “nice” jewelry in a few years.

But this one necklace seemed to call to me.

One day, I opened my jewelry box, took it out…and held it in my hand.  I tipped it over and over, watching the tiny sand filter slowly through the hourglass.  It was so unusual and unique.  So delicate and feminine.

We don’t often see the hourglass anymore these days.  Everyone has a more modern way of marking time: whether it be a digital clock on the computer, a cell phone, or an Apple Watch.  We rush here and there, always in a hurry and never thinking about the passing of each hour, minute or second.  We make plans for the next day, never wondering if we will actually be alive to see the sun rise in the morning.  It’s just assumed we will be.

I think the reason I am so drawn to this tiny hourglass necklace is because it reminds me that time is short.  We can’t stop it….or rewind it….or fast forward through it.  We only have the Now.  We have this exact second.  That’s it.  That’s all. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will be in a different place in time than when you started.

It can blow your mind, if you really think about it.

Time is a funny thing.  It can be our best friend, and our worst enemy.

Every single second, someone dies and someone is born.  Children grow up, and adults grow old.  No one gets younger, and no one gets to go forward or backwards.  We are all stuck on the linear roller coaster of time.  No one gets off.  No one controls it. We’re all strapped in for the ride.

I know this is not new and groundbreaking information, but sometimes we need to stop what we’re doing and really think about time.  How much time do we have? No one really knows. Only God knows.

What will I do tomorrow?  I will take my children to school, clean my home, eat breakfast, drink coffee, play with my three-year-old and feed my dog.  I will pick my children up from school, make dinner for my family, tuck my children into bed, do some writing and go to sleep.  I will breathe. I will listen. I will watch. I will wait.

Or will I?

Tomorrow is never a promise.

When I put my hourglass necklace on, the sand always flows to the bottom of the glass….indicating that I am out of time.

Every time I look down at it, it gently reminds me that I need to be more aware of time.  I need to be more aware of my time being over.

I want to enjoy each moment….each grain of sand in my own personal hourglass.  I want to be less stressed, and focus on the blessings.

Even though the previous owner of the necklace has passed on, out of this time….I want to thank her, and her sweet daughter.  Thank you, Ms. Dot and Ms. Patt, for this precious gift.  I will treasure it, and take care of it.  Thank you for reminding me that each grain of sand is falling slowly, and I need to enjoy each and every moment.

I hope everyone will think about their own personal hourglass, and remember that we are not promised tomorrow.

Most of us think ourselves as standing wearily and helplessly at the center of a circle bristling with tasks, burdens, problems, annoyance, and responsibilities which are rushing in upon us. At every moment we have a dozen different things to do, a dozen problems to solve, a dozen strains to endure. We see ourselves as overdriven, overburdened, overtired. This is a common mental picture and it is totally false. No one of us, however crowded his life, has such an existence. What is the true picture of your life? Imagine that there is an hour glass on your desk. Connecting the bowl at the top with the bowl at the bottom is a tube so thin that only one grain of sand can pass through it at a time. That is the true picture of your life, even on a super busy day, The crowded hours come to you always one moment at a time. That is the only way they can come. The day may bring many tasks, many problems, strains, but invariably they come in single file. You want to gain emotional poise? Remember the hourglass, the grains of sand dropping one by one.

James Gordon Gilkey




I had to make a few small changes to the Foreword of our book today.   The beautiful thing about self-publishing is if you see an error, or want to change your wording…it’s easy to do.  Since the book is in a digital-only format right now, I am so happy I’m able to make necessary changes!

Kim and I decided not to combine the two books into one larger book.  We felt it might be too confusing, and too many ISBN numbers to deal with…so once we are able to get the book to the publisher, we will have print copies available for order very soon!

Since we are publishing a Part One and a Part Two of Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting, I felt that some things needed to be changed to avoid confusing our dear readers.  Part One of the book deals almost entirely with what happened in the house, and most of the research and historical information about the area of Rockford/Nixburg will be contained in the second book.  All references to the historical details are being changed in the Foreword, and I wanted to publish the new Foreword here so that I could remember the date I made the changes:)

Thanks y’all!!


New Foreword – Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part One)




I never intended on telling the world about the darkest part of my life. I consider myself a writer who isn’t afraid to bare her soul, but I’ve always felt that certain things must be kept secret, especially in the Deep South. Here, we have many ghost stories and tales of folklore, but that’s all they are—tales. If something paranormal happens to you personally, you face ridicule and being labeled as “crazy” if you dare tell. I’d intended on keeping what happened to me and my family a secret for the most part, but I came to realize something very important—if I keep the secret to myself, then other people might be at risk for something evil happening to them. If I tell our story, then maybe others can learn from what we encountered and take the necessary steps to protect themselves. There will be skeptics and nay-sayers, and I take the risk of being labeled as off my rocker, but I’m willing to take that risk if it will help or empower another person to overcome their situation.

One thing I hope all people can take away from this book is that evil does exist. There IS a world beyond our vision, and as we learn in the Bible and in Quantum Physics, that unseen world is more vast and more REAL than the physical world in which we currently live.

When Kim approached me about having her team come to investigate the house, the one thing I told her explicitly is that I did not want to be present when they conducted their research. I wanted to be rid of the house and get as far away from it as I possibly could. I didn’t have any desire to communicate with something that could be demonic, and I didn’t want to be present when others attempted to do so. However, I was intrigued by their findings, but to this day I am not absolutely convinced that the entity they spoke to was telling the truth. As you will read in this book, the entity or entities claimed they were brothers, and gave their names.

Years later, when I began to research the Rockford area, Kim and I found two brothers whose names matched closely to a story that first made national news in 1977. As we dug deeper and uncovered more details, we were both shocked and left with more questions than answers.

I don’t know if what we experienced in Rockford was related to the two brothers in any way. I tend to believe the souls of the dead are not left to wander the earth—either they go to Heaven or to Hell. But I’m also familiar with the physics law of conservation of energy which states energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another.

I believe absolutely that people can open up doorways into shadowy places we are not meant to find. In our particular case, I suspect that someone opened a portal a long time ago that has not been fully shut.

And then there is the fact that Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” -came to the area in the late 1970s to research some mysterious deaths that had occurred in the years prior.

Ms. Lee meant to write a true crime novel, not a novel based on the paranormal. And all she found, to quote her, was “A mountain of rumor and tall-tale, to a molehill of fact.”

What she found, no one will ever know.  The book she reportedly began, tentatively named “The Reverend” – was never published.  Was there any truth to the rumors surrounding the mysterious deaths that occurred in the Nixburg/Rockford areas of Coosa County, Alabama?  Again, no one knows for sure.

Whatever the case, I believe that same spirit of evil could still out there in Nixburg today. I have felt it myself. It is out there prowling and ready to do whatever it needs to do to snag its next victim.

Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part One) is based on a true account of the events as they happened to our family and the subsequent paranormal investigation conducted by my co-author, Kim. The next book in our series, Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part Two) will be available soon.  It is comprised of the months of research we composed on the history of the house, the land on which the house was built, the area of Nixburg, and some possible explanations as to what could have caused the paranormal activity in our home.

I hope this story will intrigue you and encourage you to talk with others about your own experiences. There are many people in the Church that turn a blind eye to this kind of occurrence, and ministers and priests who turn away from helping those struggling with it. For those of you that have found this to be true for your situation, do not give up hope. There are good people who can and do help at no cost such as Kim’s paranormal team, Spirit Communications and Research. I wish the Church would stop being so afraid to address the issue of paranormal phenomena and better equip its followers to handle it when it occurs. But until that day comes, I will continue to share my story with the hope it helps another person make sense of the confusion enveloping their lives, or, perhaps, even escape the grips of evil.




Jenny Scott, March 2016

Middle of the Night

It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep.  The best thing for me to do is have a glass of warm milk and go back to my pillow, but I can’t.

My mind is too overwhelmed, and my heart is too grateful from all of the sweet comments I’ve gotten over the last few days from friends, family and strangers.

The episode of Paranormal Witness (featuring our story) aired a few nights ago, as well as the release of our book, “Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part One).”

From all of the comments I’ve read online on social media, the episode has done very well….and our book is currently #5 in the Ghosts and Hauntings category on Amazon.  This is HUGE for a little self-published eBook!

I am humbled and honored by the reviews and the positive feedback Kim and I have received from the public.  I just wanted to say a little ‘thank you’ to all of the people who have been so kind to us.

And a ‘thank you’ for all the HILARIOUS Twitter comments following #paranormalwitness – If you enjoy watching horror movies with a room full of friends, y’all need to go read them.  Pure genius.  And FUNNY!!


About Yesterday

Kim and I were in Alexander City yesterday doing more research for part two of the book, and boy….it was a wonderful day!  We got to see a piece of Harper Lee history today – in the form of the four LEGENDARY typed pages of a once-planned future novel – “The Reverend” given to Mr. Tom Radney by Ms. Lee many years ago.  I saw hand written notes signed with a simple “Nelle” (only her closest friends had the honor of that signature.) And I saw beautiful hand written notes signed, “Alice” (Harper Lee’s sister).  It was amazing to me, and I’ll never forget seeing those beautiful things as long as I live.

To me, it was like looking at the Mona Lisa….only it was up close and personal – and I felt a connection.  The words on those letters, handwritten in dark ink, looked to me like brush strokes on a masterpiece.

To be a writer from Alabama, looking at letters from THE Writer From Alabama – it was something I’ll never be able to properly put into words.  I wish I could have taken pictures, but those items are priceless. Just to see them with my own two eyes was enough for me….and much more personal and meaningful.


In between shuttling back and forth between the library and various places around town, Kim and I stopped to get some lunch:

A writer’s lunch


Back to reality……


Look, I can wax poetic and be in awe of Harper Lee while the day is long, but research makes me hungry….and nothing beats the deliciousness and simplicity of a double crunch wrap from Taco Bell on a hot Summer day – eaten while sitting in a parking lot, out of fear of being recognized from TV.  Kim is so much more brave than I am…..she actually went inside to get us food.

Anyway, we had a great day today.  I had so much fun researching with Kim!

Y’all just know that we are both hard at work on Part Two of the book…..we hated to leave everyone hanging like that in Part One…..it’s just that we have to get ALL of the historical facts right to make sure the book is completely accurate.

We hope to have Part Two ready as soon as possible.  We think maybe sometime between Halloween and Christmas.  Then, we will re-release the book together (BOTH Part One and Part Two) and have it available in print, as well as online — for those who are asking for printed copies….and signed copies.


Thank you all again for the kind words.  If you’ve read the book (Part One) – would you do Kim and me a HUGE favor and give us a review on Amazon?  Let us know how we did….feedback is so important to us both!

Until insomnia strikes again,


A Quick Note

I know I will be getting a lot of traffic to my little ole blog in the next few weeks, so I feel the need to write a quick post:

Our story was featured on AL.com this morning, and will air on Syfy channel’s Paranormal Witness tomorrow night.

Please know that I have no intention of revealing the exact location of the house in Rockford, out of respect for the owners and the privacy of the people who currently live there.

Also, there are still living relatives of the Rev. Will Maxwell, and they still live in the area.  Please be a good citizen and leave them alone.  They are in no way connected to our personal story, and already have to deal with the past on a regular basis. I do not know them, and have never had the pleasure of meeting them, so I don’t know if they are willing to speak to anyone about things that happened 40 years ago.  I’m sure it was a traumatic time in their lives, and would like to be left alone.  I pray they will not be harassed and I ask that people respect their privacy.

I do plan on posting some of the old blog posts I wrote during the time we lived in the house, but for right now….our book, Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part One) is available through Amazon in digital format.  Part Two will be released in the Fall, and if you are interested in learning more about our story, everything is in the book!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope to post again very soon!



Why I Decided to Come Out with Our Story


In a little over a week, my family’s very personal and very true story will be aired on worldwide network television.

To say that I am nervous would be an understatement.

My main reason for going public with our story is to let other people know (specifically people who have been through or experienced spiritual warfare) that I have been in the trenches, too.

The problem with coming out with such a personal story, especially one that is paranormal in nature….is not the media, not the trolls and not the people who will think our story is ridiculous.  The problem is the people who KNOW that spiritual warfare is REAL, but who refuse to talk about it or acknowledge it.

We live in the Deep South….some call it the Bible Belt.  I’m a Christian, and was raised Southern Baptist….I have lived here all my life, and I know there are good folks down here who would drop everything and rush to your side if you needed help.  I also know there are a ton of “Christians” who would rather warm a pew on Sunday Morning and judge their fellow-man, than to reach out a hand and help someone going through a spiritual battle……OR watch a show that might have something to do with “ghosts” and the things we can’t explain.  I knew we would be judged harshly by the pew-warmer Christians if we decided to go through with telling our story publicly….and that’s ok.  Let them judge if they want to.  They do it daily.

I am not a paranormal researcher, or Ghost Hunter…..but I am willing to lend an ear to those who need someone to talk to about anything they may have experienced.  I am now in a unique position to do so…..because I’ve lived through a paranormal experience myself.  People don’t like to talk about ghosts or demons down here in the South, and you unfairly risk being labeled as “crazy” if you do….but I’m telling you: the world we can’t see is much bigger than the world we can see.  These things happen. And it isn’t always because someone played with a Ouija Board, either.  Spiritual battles are being fought all around us, all the time.  Be brave….don’t be afraid to tell your story.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest before the episode airs.  If you want to watch, it will be the premiere episode of Paranormal Witness on the Syfy Channel, on August 3 at 10/9 CST.

And yes, I have co-authored a book with my friend, Kim Johnston entitled, “Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting” – Part One will be released the same day as our episode of Paranormal Witness. Part Two will be released soon after.   Our reasoning for coming out with the book is to give a more detailed account of the entire story….from beginning to end…..in case people want to know the details.  It will be available on August 3rd on Amazon for those who’d like to read it.

I keep a pretty low profile most of the time, but my website is http://www.haintbluehaunting.com and my email is jenny@haintbluehaunting.com if you would like to contact me with questions, or if you just need someone to listen.

Thank you to all the folks who have supported us through this journey, and who continue to support us.

Jenny Scott




Okay, so I NEVER write about beauty tips, makeup or clothes.  I’ve never really been into that kind of thing, mostly because I’m lazy and also because I’m usually the LAST person on my mind.  I have four kids, a dog, two cats, a budding writing career, a blog and a ton of housework.  Lately, I’ve been complaining a lot because I’m over my head with all my responsibilities. I barely have the energy to make myself get up in the morning and do my daily chores, much less worry about my clothes or my hair.


I have been super down on myself lately.

I guess every woman feels this way from time to time, especially as we grow older.

I snapped a picture a couple of weeks ago of my mother and myself as we were dining at a restaurant and I was both shocked and pleased with my gray hair in the picture.  In fact, I was proud!  I haven’t colored my hair in about four years, and I was letting myself go gray naturally (and if you’ve never tried to do it….it is HARD.) feeling proud of every single gray hair.  I am prematurely gray, as I’m only 38 – turning 39 next month and a combination of genetics, stress and lack of good sleep has contributed to my ever-increasing head of silver strands.  I was beginning to own the gray, feeling confident in my “wisdom highlights” and just beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin.


My toddler hugged me one day and said, “Old mommy. Mommy like MeeMee.”

Record scratch.  Like, seriously….the entire world stopped.

MeeMee is what my children call my mother….their grandmother.  So, essentially my sweet little toddler was telling me that I look like his grandmother.  Not that my mom isn’t super fabulous, but she is the grandmother…..I AM the mom.

My mom didn’t like the picture we took at the restaurant at ALL.  She asked me, “When did we get so OLD?”  A couple of days later, my mom dyed her short hair platinum white….and let me tell you, it looks AWESOME!  She looks like a modern, edgy grandma….very hip and sort of Jaime Lee Curtis meets Debbie Harry.  I LOVED it!

So, I asked her if she would do my hair too. Mom was a beautician in the 1960s, and knows about hair color, cuts and all that.  She was Vidal Sassoon when that whole thing was going on.

She said she would give my hair a makeover.  I squealed with delight, even though I was afraid of the outcome.  It took almost 3 hours to pull my hair through a cap…..I was going for highlights….nothing too drastic.  Just a little change.

Well…..after we pulled my hair through the cap (which HURT like a MOFO because I have long hair) we bleached the hell out of it…..with 40 Volume developer.  I was expecting my hair to just turn orange, like it always has when I’ve tried to go with blonde highlights…..but it didn’t.  My hair turned WHITE with some inside the banana peel yellow.  AWESOME! And thank you to the hair gods, for my hair not falling out in big chunks from using such a strong developer.

Anyway, mom told me we needed to “tone” my hair so that it wouldn’t be so stark against my dark brown, and I said “okay” I didn’t want to look like a skunk – but I put toner ALL over my head, and not just the highlights…..and we used 30 Volume developer mixed with Wella T14 toner (thank you Sally Beauty Supply.)

When I rinsed and washed, and looked in the mirror……I gasped!

My. Hair. Was. Blonde! Almost platinum blonde….

I didn’t even recognize myself!

Long story short…..I now have blonde hair.  It isn’t bad, but I still look a little strange.  I mean, I’ve been a brunette ALL my life (except when I was a redhead for a hot minute….oh, and when I dyed my hair jet-black one time) and this transformation has been a little overwhelming.

Now that my hair is blonde, I deep conditioned the heck out of it and then played around with the style a bit.  After about a thousand selfies, I decided to try and tone it again because I’m not a big fan of the Gwen Stefani fake platinum look.  I mean, some folks can carry it off but it’s just too high maintenance for me personally and I don’t have the skin tone for it.  Then, I decided my eyebrows were too dark and I plucked the heck out of them….thank God for eyebrow pencils, and eyebrow mascara, right?  Then, I played around with my makeup…..

I felt like such a high-maintenance douchebag.  Here I am primping and preening in front of a mirror all day like a Paris Hilton wannabe.  That’s not who I am.

Anyway, after I quit beating myself up…..I came down off of the chemical bleach high and decided to just like myself.  Whatever, you know?  I feel younger….I look younger and my husband loves it (I was worried that he would hate it.)

Three out of four of my kids are blonde, and my husband is blonde (when he has hair) so I just figured I would sort of just blend in with the rest of my blonde family.

Anyway….that’s my story for this week.  I’m a blonde now.  And the odd thing is, I don’t hate it.  In fact, people treat you differently when you’re blonde…..people are nice – why don’t brunettes get that kind of love from strangers? Something to ponder……

Here is the before and after:

Dark brunette with gray

image [179590]
Plain and straight….blonde.
I still need to work on my skin and makeup, and update my hairstyle… but I’m still playing around with it.


My final thoughts on the makeover thing?  I don’t know.  I still have to wait a few more days to see if I’m gonna keep my hair this color….or a few months since I’ll completely kill it if I do anything else to it.  I think a makeover every now and then is just a female thing to do…..if you’re tired or bored with your look…..just change it!  But, looks aren’t everything.  It’s a hard to understand if you look around at our selfie-obsessed world.  I guess my final thought is this: I don’t look like a grandmother anymore. I don’t feel like a grandmother anymore.  And I guess that’s what I was going for:)  I’m a little more high-maintenance now, but I guess that’s a good thing, since I was really letting myself go.  I’m turning my husband’s head now…..and I’m taking better care of myself. No more pizza and pasta….I’m drinking water and exercising…. I’ve even decided to let myself have a beach vacation for my 39th birthday…..so out of this whole deal, a lesson has been learned.  I won’t neglect myself any more, and I will not allow myself to feel guilty for taking a break, or doing something for “me” every now and then.  If mommy is happier, then everyone is happier.

As long as it doesn’t become an entirely self-focused thing, (and I would never do that) then I think it’s all good.

Change can be a good thing:)

Life is short…..why not?

Maybe I’ll dye it pink……






A Writer’s Own Story

image (2)

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not a first-time writer.  I’ve written things here and there most of my life.  The first thing I remember writing (at the tender age of six) was a comic book about my cat.  Then, later own down the line, I wrote a short story about my grandmother’s dog.  Of course, my grandmother thought it was brilliant.

In high school, I wrote for the school newspaper – The Lion’s Roar.  I didn’t join the paper out of a love for writing, but a love for leaving school early and “selling” ads for the paper…when all we really did was drive around town and eat Taco Bell.

Somehow, I managed to graduate from high school, and get into college, despite having to take remedial math classes, and having to re-take my high school graduation exam (the math section.)

When I got into college, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I transferred to Auburn University in Auburn, AL from a smaller school with a 4.0 GPA and a declared major of pre-med.  Since Auburn University (main campus) didn’t have a pre-med major track, I had to switch to pre-veterinary medicine.

With my poor math skills, I knew I would never be able to make it through the upper classes required to graduate from vet school, so I changed my major to secondary education.

As the youngest in my family, who had been around young children maybe once or twice in my life…this was a poor decision.  I did an orientation session at the local junior high school for a couple of weeks, a requirement before officially declaring my major in secondary education.  It was a nightmare.  The younger generation repulsed me.  I thought they were bratty, self-entitled, immature and annoying.  I am speaking of the first round of “The Millennials” – although I didn’t know they would be called by that name, at the time.

Even though my orientation had been a disaster, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I’d already changed my major twice, and it was a pain in the butt to change majors.  I kept attending the secondary education classes, and made decent scores, but one class changed my path forever:  Journalism 100.

Journalism 100 was a required core class for those who wanted to pursue an education degree, or a philosophy degree.  The professor of Journalism 100 was  Jack Smith.  He was a retired newspaper man… once a hard-hitting journalist who had covered major events spanning the Civil Rights Movement to the Kopper Kettle explosion in Auburn in the 1970’s. He was skinny and tall with white hair and black-rimmed glasses.  He looked exactly like an old journalist.

Although I knew he had a passion for his old profession, I could tell he resented having to teach this generation of Gen X-ers.  He came from “The Greatest Generation” – his generation had lived through WWII, The Atomic Age, The Sixties, The Vietnam War,  The Great Recession of the 1970’s and the economic boom of the 1980’s.  The kids who sat before him in class every day (present company included) were essentially lazy, video game and pop culture addicted airheads.  We were also carrying around a sense of entitlement, and if something we owned broke….we just threw it away and mommy and daddy bought us a new one.  No big deal.  We were 80’s kids.  We had lived through one of the most prosperous economic times in history, and we thought the world was our collective oyster, with little to no hard work on our part. I sympathized with Jack Smith…I had felt the same disdain for those “Millennials” I had to help teach during my orientation period months earlier.

One of the last assignments I had to complete for Jack Smith was a news article known as a “feature story.” – I don’t remember what I wrote about, but I remember him pulling me aside one day after class.

“What’s your major, young lady?” he asked me.

“Secondary education, sir.” I replied, trying my best not to sound like a timid, brainless college girl.

“You need to change your major.” he said as he handed me back my paper.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, and my face beginning to turn fifty shades of red.  Here it comes, I thought. I’m about to get hammered.

I looked down at the paper he handed me, and it was my feature story……with an “A+” in bright, red ink on the top.

“You’re a fantastic writer.” he said.  “Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different.”

I looked up at him, and he smiled and patted me on the shoulder.  I had never received a compliment like that from anyone….about anything I’d ever written.  It gave me the confidence I needed….here was an old journalism man, telling me that I was a great writer.  I was floored.  I decided to take the compliment and let it soak in.

I changed my major to journalism the next day.  As I was touring the hallways of Tichenor Hall, the building where I would be spending the rest of my time in college, I saw him in the front office.

“I hope you’re here to change your major!” he said, looking at down at me over the tops of his black horn-rimmed glasses.

“Yes sir.  I did it yesterday.  I’m a journalism major now.” I said, smiling.

“Great!  Your paper was one of the best I’ve read in a long time.  You’ve got a way with words.” he said.  “But journalism isn’t easy.  You’re at battle with yourself most of the time, and you’re gonna feel like you like you want to quit.  But just remember….tell the story and you’ll be just fine.”

He gave me another pat on the shoulder, smiled and walked away.

Journalism was hard.  I had some tough professors: Nan Fairley, Dr. Jerry Brown, Ed Williams, Judy Sheppard, William White and Gillis Morgan.  My time in Tichenor Hall was no picnic.  I even found myself writing for the school newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.  My workload was so tough, I had to give up almost everything else….my job, my place in the Auburn University Marching Band, my fiance and my weekends home to visit my parents.

I doubled up on my classes, so I could graduate in 1999.  I never took a Summer off.

I completed my required internship at The Phenix Citizen newspaper in Phenix City, Alabama.  The Phenix Citizen was owned and managed by two wonderful, but tough newspaper folks, Mike Venable and Jill Tigner. They taught me to stop being such a self-deprecating, timid Gen-Xer, and to just get the damn story.  I also learned how to do some ad design….so I could know how the ENTIRE newspaper business worked, and not just the little part I had learned about in school.  I wrote obits, helped manage subscriptions, followed the ad executives around, answered the telephone and did my best to not collapse from exhaustion.  I popped (now illegal) energy pills to keep up with my duties, so I wouldn’t fail my internship, and flunk out of college.

The last day of my internship, I received the news that my father was dying of cancer, a secret that had been kept from me out of my parents’ fear that I would quit college.  I would have quit.  They know I would have.

The day I graduated from Auburn University, my dad had just gotten out of the hospital from having surgery on his lung, to try to remove a cancerous tumor the size of a grapefruit.  He was weak, but determined to be there to see me graduate.  He had also scrimped and saved to buy me a class ring.  Hot tears spilled down his cheeks when he gave it to me, and I hugged him as I sobbed because we both knew he wasn’t going to live much longer. It was a small, feminine class ring with a blue sapphire.   I call it “My Daddy’s Teardrop” – and it’s worth more to me than anything else I own.

My dad passed away four months later.  He was 55 years old.  I was only 22.

After my dad passed, I got several jobs here and there, writing feature stories for magazines, designing ads and advertorial pages, but I was tired of journalism.  I hated writing, and was completely burned out.  So, I had a college degree that had cost me $14,000 after my Pell Grant and various other fees….plus, it had cost me blood, sweat, tears and three years of my life working non-stop to “be something” or “do something” important in life.  I was in deep depression and I couldn’t see my own self-worth.  I didn’t care about writing, when writing was probably the ONE thing I needed to do most.  I kept everything bottled up for years.  I eventually got a job as a graphics designer at a couple of different newspapers through the next ten years, and even did some freelance writing before I gave it all up entirely and stayed home to raise my children.  I didn’t write through my pain of having a child diagnosed with autism, or the pain of divorce, or the pain of not having a direction in life other than changing diapers, wiping noses and worrying about the future.

But that burning need to write never left me.  I tried to shut it up by painting, or knitting, sewing or taking photos…..anything creative that would quench the thirst of writing.  I did write a mommy blog for a local magazine, but I felt that everything I wrote was total crap.  I deleted it all.  Self-loathing, depression and alcoholism seem to plague writers, and I was staring all three right in the face.

I felt like I’d failed at everything I’d started.

Then, when I was at one of my lowest points of self-loathing, my husband came home from work with a gift for me.

“Do you remember a man named Ed Williams?” my husband asked.

“Of course I do!  He was one of the best professors I ever had….and the toughest!”

“He gave me this to give to you.” he said as he handed me a small object.

It was a small coin.

I looked down at the coin and read the words: “All things are possible with faith.”

On the back, it read, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.”  – There was a tiny mustard seed encased in resin on the front.

How did my own former professor know I was struggling?

I’d branded myself a complete and total failure, and as if prodded by the people who believed in me, the people who trained me and taught me everything I knew about writing,  I began to write again.

And so I wrote.

And wrote.

Now, my manuscript is in the hands of an editor, and fellow journalist, who knows what I’ve been through.  She knows the struggles of a writer….the nagging self-loathing, the pain of losing a parent, and she knows the vulnerable writer’s soul.

I’m still nervous.  And I still think everything I write is total crap….even though Jack Smith told me my writing was great…and not to let anyone tell me any different.

I use commas incorrectly, I hate colons and semicolons, I struggle with the correct tense and I’m addicted to ellipses…..I use rather, very, little, pretty and really…..those words Strunk and White say to banish.  I don’t “Omit Needless Words” like I should, and that’s just some of the structural stuff.

I could beat myself up all day long.  But here it is:  I’m an insecure, timid writer with more fear and loathing than Hunter S. Thompson.

I am about to chew my nails off knowing that other people are reading what I wrote, even though other people have been reading things I’ve written for most of my life.

Writers are very needy.  The ones of us who aren’t self-important assholes are actually quite insecure.  We don’t consider ourselves great thinkers, or literary geniuses.  We just tell stories.  Some do it better than others.

The story that I’ve given my editor is a very personal non-fiction story.  I never wanted to write it to begin with, but I had to write it.  I’ve learned that I can’t run away from writing, no matter how hard I try.  It’s what I do.  And it’s who I am.  I may fail at it, or I may succeed, but I can never quit.  Nothing else will do.

So, that’s my story.

I will do my best to remember what Jack Smith told me almost 20 years ago, “Tell the story, and you’ll be just fine.”

Well, Mr. Smith…..I’m telling it.

And Mr. Ed….I have the coin.  It never leaves my pocket.

Thank you to everyone who has believed in me, when I couldn’t believe in myself.

I hope the book is a success, but even if it isn’t….I’ll still keep writing. Like they tell the marathon runners, it isn’t about finishing first….it’s just about finishing the race.

Tell the story, and you’ll be just fine.  I have to remember those words, while ignoring the self-doubt and keep going.

Just keep writing.