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Go to SOUTHERN MAN ~ SWEET SOUTHERN BOYS
STORM SURGE ~ LOVE IN SMALLFOOT ALLEY
A FAMILY AT LAST~ WEEKEND AT LAKE LUCY

Meet Troy Stevenson
Tennesseean by birth, former college football legend, coal miner's grandson, and now a corporate executive in a small, south Georgia town.
When Troy's personal weaknesses impact his family, his struggle to confront the problem unleashes the law of unintended consequences, with harrowing repercussions for himself and his wife, son, and daughter.
A devoted family man is targeted
by an amoral young woman and her uber-feminist mentor.

VIDEO TRAILERS ~ EXCERPT ~ QUOTES FROM SOUTHERN MAN ~ THE MUSIC OF SOUTHERN MAN

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A 20th Century Historical

An Intimate Look at the Chaotic and Kaleidoscopic
Baby Boomer Generation

Recounts Life in the Wreckage of the Counter Culture

In 1983, in moss-draped Verona, Georgia, the tender and tenacious love between a hardworking executive and his adoring wife is tested by sudden adversity. Corporate Vice-President Troy Stevenson must confront an old family secret that underlies his nascent alcohol abuse or he may lose his wife and the son and daughter he deeply loves.

When his latent destructiveness is unleashed and impacts his family, he moves to their lakeside cottage to come to grips with his personal weaknesses.

But busybodies at his company assume he left home because his marriage is in trouble. Encouraged by the assumption, co-worker Brooke Emerson, an amoral, 1980s material girl romantically obsessed with Troy, attempts to seduce him, setting in motion a chain of events with harrowing consequences for him and his family.


Southern Man takes readers from the hills of Appalachia to the University of Alabama during the Paul "Bear" Bryant era; from staid New England to drug-drenched and sex-saturated Haight-Ashbury in the Summer of Love; from the glittering skyline of Atlanta to sultry south Georgia -- and reveals what can happen when a good man becomes the object of lust and the target of vengeance.

Video Trailers

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Excerpt

          Patty poured bubble bath into the tub and turned the shiny chrome handles. While it filled, she tuned a portable radio sitting on the towel rack to Troy’s jazz station and adjusted the volume. Both the pleasant scent rising from the tub and the music filling the air were at the perfect level of subtlety to encourage a harried executive to relax and recharge.
          She piled her hair on top of her head and fastened it with a barrette. Without haste, she undressed, stepped into the tub and carefully eased down into the hot water. She had been there several minutes, enjoying the music and waiting, when she heard her husband enter the bedroom.
         “Tro,” she called.
         “What?” He came through his bathroom into the tub room.
         “Get in.” She tilted her head to give him an inviting smile.
          He stood just inside the door and looked down at her. Only her head and shoulders showed above the froth. “You shameless hussy.”
          “It’ll make you feel good.”
          He shook his head. “Real men don’t take bubble baths.”
          But one side of his mouth quirked up as he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it from his

trousers. The half-smile changed to a mock leer and in moments he was naked, his clothes tossed carelessly onto the hamper. He stepped into the tub, grimaced at the temperature of the water and sat down gingerly, pulling air through his teeth.
          “Turn around and I’ll rub your shoulders,” she said.
          “I won’t argue with that. This water’s hot.”
          “It only takes a minute to get used to it, wuss.” She squeezed water from a bath sponge across his neck and shoulders, kneaded them gently and listened to his not entirely put-on moans and groans. His left shoulder had begun to give him trouble intermittently. It had been dislocated three times during his football career, once each in junior high, high school and college.
          “Goodness! What’s going on at work? Your muscles feel like cables!”
          “Well, there’s talk of building a new distribution complex, which means expansion, new employees, and the change will stress everybody out for a while. Sales are down a little. Max is still trying to socialize the company. But we’ll weather it. Mmm. Scratch, too.”
          “Well, you try to relax and don’t let it get to you.” Patty lightly scraped her fingernails across his back.
         “I haven’t had a chance to work out much lately. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had. Over to the right. Down a little. Little more—oh yeah, right there. Mmm. Anyway, I’m relaxed now. This feels so good I might go to sleep in the water.”
         “Told you it would.” Patty leaned back against the slanted wall of the tub, pulled him against her and crossed her arms around his neck. Troy grasped her feet and stroked her insteps with his thumbs. They lay there in silence, eyes closed, as the last of the day’s tension from fussing children, radical feminists and plummeting sales dissipated seemingly into the water.
          After a while, he rolled over toward her, making their diminishing blanket of bubbles rock and slosh. She studied his face—the dark eyes, the exquisitely shaped lips, now slightly parted, the fine coating of sweat. Her steadfast love for him began to stir into ardor.
          You beautiful, sloe-eyed man! It’s a miracle that you love me and belong to me!
          He studied her face, too, and murmured, “You’re so sweet and you look so cute covered with bubbles and your hair done up like that. I wish I could stay with you all night—we could have so much fun together—but I have to go.”
          She blinked. “Go? Why?”
          “I promised my wife I’d be home by ten-thirty. If I’m not, she’ll pitch a hissy-fit.”
          “The witch,” Patty muttered, her brows buckling. “You are completely henpecked.”
         She filliped the water, sending a small splash toward him. He jerked his head to the side but not quickly enough. With drops rolling down his face, he flashed her a menacing grin.
          “Oh, you bad girl, you have done it now.” He gave each word exaggerated enunciation. “You better watch it ’cause you never know when I’m gonna get you for that.”
          She put the tip of her forefinger in her mouth for a moment and said, “You won’t, though.”
          “Prob’ly not. But I ought to. Think how pissed you’d be if I’d done that to you.”
          “Yes, but you know I would mind, and I know you don’t.”
          As she looked at him, the desire building inside her fountained upward to show in her face and glow in her eyes. She didn’t try to conceal it, but took his face in her hands and pulled him closer to kiss him.
          She kept it going a long time. He stirred but made no move away from her, no attempt to break the seal of their lips. At last, she did, and tilted her head back enough to see his face, to lose herself in the sweetness of his expression and in the beginning of passion and desire her kiss had put in his eyes.
          He blinked and inhaled, as if breaking out of a mild trance, and slid forward to follow up with a kiss of his own. He murmured against her mouth, “Darlin’ darlin’ baby...I’m gettin’ in the shower.”
         Troy believed tubs were for relaxing in and showers were for getting clean. He stepped out of the tub and walked through the doorway into his bathroom, Patty’s appreciative gaze following his every step. Naked or clothed, he was magnificent, exquisitely proportioned, like Michelangelo’s David, like da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, except for the slight extra length to his legs, which enhanced rather than detracted from his perfection.
          She smiled and shook her head at the trail of drips and puddly footprints he thoughtlessly left on the floor. Some things just didn’t occur to men.
          She laughed softly when he stepped into his glass-enclosed shower, turned the handles on the wall and gave a little yelp as cold water hit him.
          But it was no laughing matter when she thought about the tension in his muscles. He had mentioned several problems at work but Patty knew only one was really bothering him—the drop in sales.
         He was always aware of the responsibilities his job put on his shoulders, aware that all the employees of Shearwater-Ingram depended on him and his department for their livelihood. He worked hard to live up to his responsibilities. He averaged over fifty hours a week at the office but actually worked more, counting what he brought home at night and the time he frequently put in on Saturdays.
          At home, his money, earned by his labor alone, paid for it all—not only the floor but the water puddled on it, the roof over their heads and everything under it.
         Except for the help he received from Providence, Troy singlehandedly sustained the lives of four human beings and contributed to the upkeep and wellbeing of numerous others. And he did it willingly, lovingly and with good humor.
         Thus, he was entitled to demonstrate a little male thoughtlessness about something as harmless as water dripped onto an impervious ceramic tile floor.
          Patty finished bathing and flipped the drain lever. She wrapped herself in her terry robe, stepped onto a towel spread on the floor and shoved it around with her foot, soaking up the puddles. She turned off the lights and music. Everything else could wait.
          In her bathroom, she got ready for bed. Passing over her usual nightwear, tailored tricot pajamas, she shimmied into a a short, slinky white negligee, because Troy was needful tonight and she was wantful. And because it was the last thing a witchy, hissy-pitching wife would wear.
         She put a dab of Parthenope into the hollow at the base of her throat, removed the barrette and let her brown locks fall uncombed to her shoulders.
          In the cool, dim bedroom, she checked to see that Troy had shut the door to the hallway. The children knew not to come into their parents bedroom when the door was closed unless it was an emergency, and to knock first in any case.
         Troy emerged from his bathroom, dried off but slightly damp and naked but for the towel around his waist because naked was how he slept. He kept a pair of pajama bottoms under the mattress for quick access on the nights when storms or bad dreams brought the little ones scurrying to sleep with Mama and Daddy.
         Patty stepped up to him and gave him a petulant look. “You said you’d be home by ten-thirty. Where were you? Who is she?”
          He shook his head, grinning. “You’re not a very convincing harridan, sweetheart. You just don’t have it in you.”
         Their little game had been fun, but his smile faded and the look on his face said he was ready to get back to reality. A sultry flame leaped to life in his eyes as they went down her body and moved back up to her face. With a forefinger, he pushed aside the thin strap of her negligee, trailed his lips along her shoulder and nuzzled her neck.
         Patty shivered and broke out in goose pimples.
         She gave the towel a tug and it fell to the floor.
         Troy put his arms around her, pulled her to him and kissed her. He took a soft, uneven breath and murmured, “She’s you. You’re all the women I want—my sweet wife, my children’s mother, my helper, naughty girl, best friend.... and I love every one of y'all to death.”


The Music of Southern Man

I listen to music when I write, and usually, the songs I listen to become attached in my mind to the story or characters. Sometimes, a song title finds its way into the manuscript. These are the songs that inspired me during the writing process, and/or are mentioned or alluded to in the story. Where I could find links at YouTube, I have included them here.
 

From Chapter One

Spinning Wheel
Blood, Sweat and Tears

   “Last quarter’s preliminary sales report.” Troy tapped the printout with a forefinger. “Down three and a half percent.”
   Max shrugged. “So? Nothing goes up forever.”
   He drummed a rhythm on the edge of Troy’s desk and sang, “What goes up, must come down—”
   “Cut it out. David Clayton Thomas you ain’t.”

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From Chapter Three

Darln' Darlin' Baby

The O'Jays - 
The original version
Brian Tarquin - 
The smooth jazz version

    She kept it going a long time. He stirred but made no move away from her, no attempt to break the seal of their lips. At last, she did, and tilted her head back enough to see his face, to lose herself in the sweetness of his expression and in the beginning of passion and desire her kiss had put in his eyes.
   He blinked and inhaled, as if breaking out of a mild trance, and slid forward to follow up with a kiss of his own. He murmured against her mouth, “Darlin’ darlin’ baby...I’m gettin’ in the shower.”

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From Chapter Thirty-Four

Love's Theme
The Love Unlimited Orchestra

    Memories filled them both as Troy led her to the dance floor -- memories of passion and promise and young love, new love, so deep and powerful it was sometimes excruciating...
    As embarrassing as it was, Patty couldn't hold back tears. Twice, she took a breath as if to speak, but she exhaled, the words unspoken.
    He smiled at her. "I heard you."
    She didn't try to talk after that. They both knew that sometimes their hearts spoke to each other without their mouths having to say a word.

From Chapter Thirty-Five

Can't Hide Love

Earth, Wind and Fire
Original version
Wayman Tisdale
Smooth jazz version

    Five minutes into the dancing, the DJ started a song that had an instant and visible effect on them. Their faces turned toward each simultaneously and communication, silent and significant, passed between them. Troy's eyes narrowed and one side of his mouth quirked up. Patty's lips parted slightly and her eyes gleamed as they fastened on him. They turned toward each other and began to dance.
    Brooke didn't recognize the tune but she recognized its effect -- music for lovers to make out by, spine-tingling in its sexiness.

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From Chapter Thirty-Seven
 
Carol of the Bells
Rosarte Children's Choir
The Little Drummer Boy
Harry Simeone Chorale

    ...Brooke saw members of the children's chorus dressed in their maroon choir robes file past. One of the little singers was Randy Stevenson. If adorable Randy was singing, his parents would surely be in attendance.
   "Let's go listen to the choir," she told Angie.
    When the program ended she remained seated until the Stevensons came her way. One hand lightly on Melissa's shoulder and the other had his wife's waist, Troy ushered his family toward the main festival area.
   For Brooke, sudden and deep sadness blanketed the Christmas Festival. Nothing had ever made her as sorrowful as the happiness and love that enveloped the Stevenson family and kept Troy so willingly, joyously chained to his wife and daughter and son.

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Although they are not referenced in the book, the following tunes also served as inspiration during the writing of the story.

Northern Lights -- Paul Hardcastle,
featuring Gary Barnacle on sax

Soul Mates -- The Rippingtons

Black Diamond -- The Rippingtons

Love for Sale and Miss Otis Regrets -- Various Artists
Arranged by Attila Fias -- From the CD
I've Got You Under My Skin: A Tribute to Cole Porter


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