full circle in the hundred acre wood

Welcome to Longleaf Stories.  Some of you know me by my real name, Beth, but the blog is registered to Evangeline Thibodeaux Harper, a name as fictitious as it sounds. This project knits together all the threads from an original blog, Switched at Birth, plus all of the findable iterations that have followed in its circuitous path from September, 2003 to this warm, breathing moment, and even inserts shards of pre-digital age photos and journal word scraps. Until tonight, I didn’t realize this gathering, this repository, was even possible. So I feel a little fluttery, giddy, and happy beyond all reason to witness this homecoming of all my little word clouds and photo puff balls.

My essays have appeared in Meg Sefton’s Florida Flash: A Christmas Anthology (2013); The Boiler: A Journal of New Literature (March 2013), Brevity, Brevity’s Blog, Prick of the Spindle, Girls with Insurance, Dead Mule, Camroc Press Review, Emerald Coast Review and others. I’m still working on a novel. It’s a coming of age story, wrapped in a romance, inside a secret, dipped in danger and deep-fried by a hurricane. Progress is slow. Sometimes it goes in reverse. I started out to write a mind candy book, but somewhere along the way the small literary corner in my head began to turn on the lamp lights and fluff pillows, and now I have this weird braided hybrid of a suspense novel told chronologically and a more literary novel told backward. I’m still not sure if they’re both the same book or two different ones, but they seem to be clinging to one another like a kudzu vine on a junked car by the side of a Georgia clay road.

Buck and I still miss Maggie the chocolate Lab, more than four years now since that sad November day when she died at age thirteen. I imagine her soft ears in my hand while I’m working at my desk, and her snuffly warm breath and dream yips, but as of December 15, 2015,  a precious new four-legged friend has joined us: Westmark’s Longleaf Lou, a 17-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever. Dogs will listen to us read our novel drafts when everyone else’s ears have fallen off. They won’t make faces or suggest we kill our darlings. They love us 100% no matter what we do or don’t do. With Lou’s arrival, our home’s spirit has been set right again.

Westmark's Longleaf Lou

Westmark’s Longleaf Lou

June 30, 2016 update:  When Lou first came to us, she was afraid of a lot of things, especially that someone might grab her ears. Notice how tight they are against her head? Check out this photo of Lou now, a few days ago, at age 23 months.  The difference is striking. She loves having her ears scratched now.


Dylan Landis, author of “Ordinary People Don’t Live Like This,” says of writing:

To write well, you must be willing to hold your finger in the flame.

So, if you come to these pages and catch a whiff of woods smoke, it’s just me, rubbing sticks together, hoping the pages will catch fire.

Thanks for stopping by,


16 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Hi Beth. Thanks for the follow. I noted that you were published in Dead Mule. Did that journal cease publication? Best, Catherine


    1. Beth says:

      Hello Catherine — Looks like they’re still publishing. The web site is live, and the submissions page indicates they’ll be accepting submissions again “mid-Spring 2015” — which should be right about now. Thank you for the follow, too. I’m trying to find and read more blogs and stories from Southern writers, and was glad to discover your site.


      1. I will send you two sites with southern bloggers. Need to dig those up. Plus some links to some cool bloggers in VA.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Beth says:

        Wonderful — thank you!


      3. I’ll get back to you later today or tomorrow. ; ) Did you know Jake Adam York?


      4. Beth says:

        No rush. It’s a ball of string and you’re helping me to get it rolling again. Re Jake Adam York, unfortunately no. But I’ve just now read about him and will be reading A Murmuration of Starlings and his other work. Gadsden, AL is not far from us.


      5. I grew up in Bham and attended Bham-Southern College. Shall we play the Alabama name-game? ; )


      6. Beth says:

        My Daddy was from Brewton; Mother from Newton (MS). They went to Miami in the late 1940’s to seek their fortune. Got me instead (in 1951). Family myth (possibly true) is I was switched at birth and am actually have a Cuban heritage. Makes for a pretty good story anyway! Bham has some beautiful neighborhoods.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. That is so interesting. How fun is that switched at birth thing? I will check out Richard Gilbert.


      8. Beth says:

        Richard Gilbert (on my blogroll) is a fine writer (originally from Georgia and Florida) who teaches writing at Otterbein University in Westville, Ohio. He is the author of a wonderful memoir, SHEPHERD: A MEMOIR. I think you might really like his blog on writing craft and other topics. It’s at http://richardgilbert.me.


  2. The Typist says:

    I believe that is properly the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, a name worth of its full saying, and now cam curious to read your Statement of Southern Authenticity.


    1. Beth says:

      So right. Here’s my SSA. It, along with the essay that followed, “A True Southern Woman,” are at the tail end of my “Published Elsewhere” tab.

      Statement of Southern Authenticity and Essay published in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, March, 2008

      Elizabeth J. Westmark: deadmule.com/archive/March Page 1 of3
      Essay by Elizabeth J. Westmark
      Pre-submission qualification: why do I think I am Southern?
      1. That’s an insulting question. What else would I be?
      2, I live in not one, but two, places in the South: deep in the deer woods of northwest Florida behind a locked gate with about twelve keep out no trespassing signs on it; and in western North Carolina on a mountain where we don’t need a locked gate because Miss Sarah lives across the way from the road up our mountain and no one gets past her without their license plate being recorded.
      3. My mother’s people are all from Mississippi. Her brothers all became Southern Baptist preachers – except for the black sheep, Uncle Ned, who joined the Navy and married that model from New York City. They have names like Elton, Levon, Ewell and Marcus. In their pastoral hay day they all drove identical big white cars. Their black plastic eyeglasses frames and pouffy jet black preacher hair made it impossible for me to tell them apart.
      4. My father’s people are all from Alabama. Before I was born, my Daddy moved the family to Miami to seek his fortune there – mostly so he wouldn’t lose any more fingers working in the Alabama box plant.
      5. The only people in the world who call me Mary Beth are relatives, as in “Why, as I live and breathe, it’s Mary Beth.”
      6. My Uncle Arthur agreed to “give me away” to my first husband, who certainly didn’t know what to do with me once he got me. Before agreeing to do it, my uncle told me he had to ask me a serious question first. It was, “Are you gonna bake biscuits for your man?”
      6. When doctors said my mother had an organic brain disease which caused hallucinations and seizures, my sister, Flo, knew better. Flo periodically communes with the spirit world, which is how she knew Mother was possessed by demons.
      B. My man don’t go nowhere without his woman, his dog, and his black, four wheel drive pick-em-up truck.
      This is but a thumbnail of my Southern pedigree, but I hope it is sufficient for you to read my submission, which follows.


  3. The Typist says:

    Ah, my poems are still there but the Statement is long lost on an old computer, probably the one that as burgled with the backup stick inserted. Ah well.


    1. Beth says:

      Some of the archives are searchable, including your Statement. Check it out: http://www.deadmule.com/index.php?s=mark+folse I hate it when word bits get perdido.


  4. The Typist says:

    Why thank you, mon cher.


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