The Eerie, Snaky, Mysterious Obion River

If you’ve read any of my books, you know that the Obion River (that’s pronounced [o – BI (long I sound) – yun] flows through all of them and plays a significant role in the story line. My newest book, Toby, is no exception.

Although most of my stories are completely fictional, the Obion River is real.

The Obion River system, which has four separate streams, is the primary surface water drainage system of northwestern Tennessee. Those four forks are: the North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork and Rutherford Fork (which is named after the town of Rutherford). The confluences of these forks are only a few miles above the mouth of the Obion’s discharge into the Mississippi River.

In Toby the South Fork of the Obion figures prominently.  If you take the Hinkledale Road out of McKenzie, TN,


you will soon find yourself enveloped in the verdant landscape and surrounded by thick woods, the closer you get to the river.20160630_122034



During the dry, summer months, the water level is often low enough that walking through the woods can be done with relative ease when compared to trying to navigate it when all the trees are standing in water and the mud is 8-12 inches deep.



This is no crystal clear stream.  It’s color always reminds me of the color of chocolate milk.

During the summer it is teaming with snakes, especially the deadly water moccasin, or cottonmouth, as it is sometimes called.  But in the winter it is home to ducks and occasionally to nesting Bald Eagles.












Symphony Nelson and Toby are completely at home in this area, having grown up hiking in it.  But even familiar areas become unfamiliar when a flood removes familiar markers or if you are there at nighttime (without a flashlight) which makes it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of you.

Join Symphony and Toby as they frequent this area on their journey toward discovery – discoveries that will change them forever.


Who is Tucker?

The most oft-asked question I get asked about my Tucker series is, “Is Tucker a real person?”  I really appreciate the question because it says that my writing has made Tucker so authentic and believable that, to the reader, she seems like a real person.  The truth though is that Tucker is not a story about a real person. 

Some people get a little upset when they find that out, and some people think I’m being less than honest.  They will insist, “Yes she is!” 

At the same time that I say Tucker is not a real person, I must add that everything about Tucker is real.  Her life experiences are real life experiences people have everyday.  It was very important to me to create a character that people could relate to on different levels, rather than a character that was so extreme it would be difficult to empathize with.

Tucker’s actual birth date is September 28, 2008.  At that time I was taking an online writing class through Long Ridge Writers Group.  My instructor was author Sylvie Kurtz.  My assignment was to create a character that was visually stunning and who would be difficult to forget.  That was when I first sketched a paragraph about a woman who eventually became Tucker.

When I’m asked to speak to groups about my books, I often say that seven years ago a woman came into my life and changed my life forever.  While I only say it that way for dramatic affect, there is a very real element of truth to it.  Little did I know that Tucker would take on a life of her own and demand that her story be told.

I, like most of my readers, love Tucker.  I find her grit and determination to overcome inspirational.  If you’ve never read her story, you are missing out on a real hero.

However, it’s one thing to create a character but an entirely different thing to create a story around that character. My next blog will be about how the story of Tucker came to be.