Sweet Southern Boys -- Excerpt

Sweet Southern Boys is the sequel to Southern Man. The manuscript is about fifty percent complete. Here's  the blurb and an excerpt, the opener. Enjoy! And e-mail me your comments!

Shelby and the Other-Brothers ....

Shelby Kincaid, Randy Stevenson and John Mark Jordan have been best friends since grade school. Growing up in a small town in south Georgia, they have watched out for Shelby's little sister, Ainsley, and butted heads with Shelby's rival, Wesley Bratcher, a Northern-transplant. They've hunted and fished, played football, studied and learned, worked and worshipped -- together. The sons of close-knit families, they have been raised to be responsible, to revere God, and to love.

But when they are seniors in high school, they are charged with unspeakable crimes. Branded as criminals in headlines from coast to coast, persecuted by the justice system, abandoned by their community, their lives shattered and their futures jeopardized, they have nowhere to turn but themselves, their families and their faith.

Sweet Southern Boys is a tale of what happens when societal watchdogs run amok and political correctness carries more weight than truth.

Sweet Southern Boys


Connie Chastain



Verona, Georgia
January 15, 1993

The vehicle streaked westward on a dirt road through sparse woodlands, kicking up dust in its wake. Behind the wheel, Randy Stevenson, soon to turn eighteen, monitored the road ahead. Tall and broad shouldered, he was a gracefully muscled athlete. Shaggy black hair framed his face -- a sensitive, enigmatic face that captivated girls at Verona High School.

Only people who knew him well--and the two boys with him knew him as well as anyone in the world-- would know how agitated he was behind his stony expression. His nostrils flared, his respiration was rapid and shallow. His hands were not trembling only because they held the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip.

A last quarter moon hung in the sky ahead, glowing through a hazy cloud cover. It was eight o'clock. The temperature hovered around forty degrees and the three boys wore lightweight jackets over their jeans and shirts.

Randy's eyes darted to the rear view mirror. In the distance, a dusk-to-dawn light cast a circular glow in the misty darkness and shone down on the riverside cabin the boys had hastily departed moments before. The cabin and the half dozen vehicles parked around it disappeared as trees closed in behind the speeding car.

How does my garden grow?

Frankly, I'm amazed. I didn't know whether this was gonna work or not. And it's still open to question. I won't call it a success until I have a tasty tomato sandwich, some cheesy squash and a cuke-and-ranch salad on my table....

They're really growing!

First cucumber blooms -- there were two this day.
Many more now.

Tomato bloom -- there are actually four cozily sharing a stem.

Squash blooms.  There are tons of them!

But the plants are growing and blooming. The squash is particularly active, with literally dozens of buds -- and blooms opening every day. I read that the early blooms on squash plants are usually male, and that's why they fall off; the female blooms have little bulges at the base.

I keep watering and feeding and checking. So far no worms or bugs, although some of the tomato leaves have turned dark at the edges. The plant seems okay though.

I'm kinda proud.  I'm no farm girl and this is miraculous stuff for me. 


After reading about authonomy for several months, I decided to check it out for myself. Basically, authonomy is HarperCollins' experimental e-alternative to the traditional paper slushpile. It's a website where writers, readers, agents, editors and publishers gather to read and evaluate unpublished or self-published works.

The uploaded material, most often several chapters of novels, but there's nonfiction, too, is read and rated, and the ratings calculated into rankings. The top five ranking books each month make it to the "editor's desk" where a board made of HarperCollins editors read at least 10,000 words and offer feedback to the author.

The hope is that the editors will find among the electronic slushpile offerings a submission they'd like to publish. Thus far (authonomy has been operating for several months), three novels have been found on authonomy and published by HarperCollins. Ironically, they weren't among those making it to the top five and the editors' desk.

The odds of your novel being found and snatched up at authonomy look, well, pretty dismal. However, there's more going on there than meets the eye. Editors and agents not affiliated with HarperCollins are said to lurk there. How many publishable jewels they might have found, nobody is saying.

I published Southern Man myself because I thought the underlying theme of anti-feminism would make it unpalatable to traditional publishers. Nevertheless, I decided to upload my novel at authonomy and just see what would happen.

HarperCollins is a British company with branches around the world. A great many participants at authonomy are European. My impression, just from reading the offerings at authonomy, is that writers across the pond, and in Australia and New Zealand, are talented wordsmiths and story tellers, and I've been gratified by the reception they've given Southern Man.

If I understand the rankings, Southern Man has gone from 5261 when uploaded on April 30 to 971 today, May 16. The green up arrow indicates that it has gained 97 points in rankings over the last time is was calculated (which I assume is daily). I don't know that it will sustain this climb in the rankings enough to make it to the Editor's Desk. Time will tell.

But meanwhile, I've enjoyed some of the comments left by readers -- what a boon to an author's ego!
I don't know whether HarperCollins' experiment with an electronic slushpile will ultimately prevail, but something will have to replace paper submissions eventually, to all publishers, just for the sake of saving trees. What shape the future of submissions takes will likely be greatly influenced by the authonomy experience.

Any Web-TV old timers out there?

In about 1998, I learned about the World Wide Web on my computer at work, and when I changed jobs, I was anxious to get online at home. I checked into Web-TV and decided it would be a cost-effective temporary substitute for a computer.

I was a happy webber, and kept my Web-TV subscription for a good while after I got a computer in the summer of 1999. My mom was also bit by the Web-TV bug and we bought her several of the units -- usually they'd meet their demise when lightning struck close by.

She loved her Web-TV and she loved her kitty-cat, Boonie.

One of the things we both loved were some of the background tunes. There were lots of them, in various genres -- we liked jazz, funk and rock the most. Yeah, yeah, they were midi files, very rudimentary electronic music, but there were some that really grabbed us: Cool Shades, Flute Boy, Funky, Future Sound, Groovy, Herbie, Jive Coffee, PCH, Xess, Renegado.

Periodically since I've been online with my computers, I've looked for midi archives with Web-TV's music. Happily, I recently found one here: http://www.gnu-bee.com/webbie_zone.shtml

I've downloaded all my favorites, even though some are rmf (rich music format) files that I can't play with out a Beatnik player, which is no longer supported by Beatnik. I'll keep looking for a player, or a program that will convert .rmf files to .mid files.

If anyone knows how to do this, lemme know!

Raising gardens, raising books...

My little upside down garden seems to be doing well.  There's a bloom on the tomato plant!

I'm also very excited to have received a request from a publisher for a partial (first three chapters) of Storm Surge!  It will be several weeks before I hear from them about whether to submit the entire manuscript. Meanwhile, I'm working on Sweet Southern Boys and some other writing projects.

Looking forward to the day a few weeks from now when I'm sitting at the computer, preparing my next query/submission, with a plate next to my keyboard -- tempting me with a sandwich made with tomatoes from my own little upside down garden!