Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Moonlight Ridge

Thanksgiving Day came, cold and bright. Our little kitchen was crowded and cozy, everything smelled right spicy, and everybody was in a holiday mood, talking and laughing over the delicious feast.

Recipes from
"The Witches of Moonlight Ridge"

Hoppin’ John

½ pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chopped parsley
Black-eyed peas, cooked and drained
Salt to taste (1 tsp salt for 2 cups dried black-eyed peas)
Cooked white rice

Sauté diced bacon, chopped onion, and chopped celery until onion and celery look translucent. Drain grease. Add garlic, parsley, and cooked black-eyed peas, simmer until peas are tender but not mushy.
In a large pot or bowl, gently combine peas and cooked rice, or serve peas separately over mounds of cooked rice.
Note: Before cooking dried black-eyed peas, sort through them thoroughly for tiny pebbles or other debris, then rinse and drain.
Note: Cooked ham, chopped, can be used in place of bacon. 

Raisin Biscuits

2 ½ cups unbleached self-rising flour
1 egg (optional)
Small pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
¾ cup milk
1 tbsp unbleached sugar
1 ½ cups raisins

Preheat oven to 450°.
Sift together flour, pinch of salt, sugar. Cut butter into the flour mixture. Beat egg and add to the milk, stir into flour/sugar mixture. Add raisins. Turn onto well floured board, knead gently, using more flour if necessary for a smooth dough. Cut with small biscuit cutter and bake at 450° for approximately 15 minutes.

Persimmon Pudding

3 cups persimmons
2 cups buttermilk
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ½ cups unbleached sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 4 x 8 x 12 inch pan with 1 tbsp butter.
Puree 3 cups persimmons, which will yield 2 cups puree. Combine puree with buttermilk. Beat stick of butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. In a large mixing bowl, stir the puree into the butter/sugar/eggs.
Sift all dry ingredients together and fold them into the persimmon mixture. Fill baking pan with mixture, place the pan into a larger pan and fill the larger pan halfway with warm water.
Bake uncovered for 1 ¼ hours or until the pudding is firm in the center and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.
Serve hot with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

How to puree persimmons: Remove skins from ripe persimmons. Persimmons can be mashed through a colander, and seeds will be removed and left in colander. If using a food processor, remove seeds before processing.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Moonlight and Witches at North Shelby Library

October 24th at the North Shelby Library

On Tuesday evening I was honored to present a Moonlight Ridge program at the beautiful North Shelby Library. We had a lively discussion about magic, mysteries, childhood adventures, and Halloween happenings. It's always such a pleasure to connect with readers who find delight in Lily Claire and WillieT.'s extraordinary escapades and recall unique childhood memories of their own. 

Thanks to Michelyn Reid for inviting me to North Shelby County, for the warm hospitality, and the enjoyable get-together.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Evergreen, the Beautiful Witch of Moonlight Ridge

The first printing of The Witches of Moonlight Ridge is all sold out. Second printing is here, just in time for holiday gifting. An added feature: a beautiful photo of our mysterious Evergreen, AKA Bessie Penny, thanks to the Hugh Mangum Collection and the generosity of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Witches and School Teachers at Leeds Library

The whole town's talking about those "wayward sisters" up on Moonlight Ridge! But our favorite 4th grade school teacher, a young man named Erskine Batson, gets most of the attention and adulation here at Leeds Jane Culbreth Library!

What's Erskine's secret for capturing the hearts of readers, students, and one mysterious lady on Moonlight Ridge?

Erskine Batson . . . "with one year of college under his belt, the mystifying habit of walking around in the woods cussing and reciting poetry, and every day free to do as he pleased, except Saturdays when he drove the worse-for-wear Eden garbage truck" . . . is a true Renaissance Man.

And how did he survive when the huge tree fell down on top of him during the violent wind storm on the mountain?

You can learn all about our unconventional 4th grade teacher, and plenty of other mysteries on the mountain, in The Witches of Moonlight Ridge.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Witches of Moonlight Ridge" Book Review


Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite
The Witches of Moonlight Ridge (The Moonlight Ridge Series Volume 2) by Ramey Channell is a charmingly delightful southern tale. Autumn has arrived at Moonlight Ridge, and Lily Clair and her cousin Willie T. are excited about starting fourth grade. They are happy that their teacher is the lovable and jolly Miss Tomkins. Sadly, a week after school begins, tragedy strikes. Miss Tomkins has an accident and is unable to teach. However, Miss Tomkins's successor, Erskine Batson, the driver of the Eden garbage truck, is a fascinating replacement. Erskine is teaching them many strange subjects, such as Music Theory and the Science of Archaeology. But for Lily Claire and Willie T., not all of his lessons into the strange and mysterious stop in the classroom. In a chance meeting with Erskine at a stagecoach stop ruins, the three experience bizarre and inexplicable events that have them questioning whether the place is haunted. But what is haunting the old ruins and the woods around them, ghosts or witches?

The Witches of Moonlight Ridge is a stunningly entertaining southern fiction novel. The arcane knowledge of the mountains and the superstitions of its people are infused within the story, giving it an eerie aura that charms the reader and lulls them into believing the mysterious and inexplicable. With its spooky ambiance, it is the perfect book to curl up with and read on a windy fall night at Halloween. This delightful sequel reprises the characters from Moonlight Ridge and adds a few more eccentric and colorful individuals. All of the characters are multi-faceted and complex. Erskine Batson is a prime example, with the words of Shakespeare and Pythagoras's equations spilling from his lips during the week, and doing garbage runs for Eden on the weekends. He is my favorite character, and I enjoyed his tolerance and participation with Lily Claire and Willie T. and their escapades. This is a sensational novel that will enchant and delight readers from the ages of ten on up to a hundred!

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge" Review


 by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite
     Sweet Music On Moonlight Ridge (The Moonlight Ridge Series Volume 1) by Ramey Channell is a captivating and charming novel set in Alabama in the nineteen-fifties. Lily Claire and Willie T. are cousins; their mothers are sisters. They were born on the same day, at the same time, in the same hospital, and in the same room. Granny declared that because their mothers brawled with each other during their delivery, the two cousins were marked with a lifetime of squabbling. 
     Although they do have their skirmishes, Lily Claire and Willie T. are rarely separated and are adept at causing devilment. Performing a rain dance that ruins a perfectly sunny day, or following a treasure map they find from an unexpected source, Lily Claire and Willie T. live in a world that is simple yet complicated. There's rain and sunlight, birth and death in their world, and no matter what they did on the mountain, they did it together. Keeping their eyes out for the wolfeener, the awfullest scary booger on the mountain

     Sweet Music On Moonlight Ridge is a humorous and delightful tale about Lily Claire and Willie T. and their childhood escapades on Moonlight Ridge. It is an enchanting story depicting a child's perspective of her world and how she perceives the magic in the normal and the strange occurrences she and her relatives encounter. Ms. Channell captures and embodies the mountain's otherworldly essence that is hidden just beyond the veil and blends it with the love of hearth and home. Despite the fact that the lives of the characters are fraught with hardship, they confront it with courage and strength. Lily Claire and Willie T.'s exploits are entertaining and humorous, capturing the reader's imagination. This bewitching narrative reaches deep into the soul where the longing for family and community resides. This is an incredible story that brought back fond memories of my own childhood. I laughed, loved, and cried through Lily Claire's and Willie T.'s antics. It is an amazing novel and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read it.

      Lily Claire and Willie T. spend their days exploring the untamed and mystical world of the mountain they live on. What can possibly happen?

-Susan Sewell

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Goodreads Witches Giveaway

Are you a member of Goodreads? You can enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Witches of Moonlight Ridge.

Contest runs from February 28 to March 14, 2017.

           Mr. Erskine straightened up and looked around. We heard old Bu, the hoot owl, calling from somewhere far out in the woods, and a flock of big black crows flew over and landed in a tree beside us.
            “It’s gettin’ late,” Erskine told us. “I’d better get you young people home on this Halloween night.”
            Witch Boy chose that quiet moment to let loose a loud, nerve shattering series of barks. The crows left the tree with a noisy flapping of wings, their harsh raspy voices cawing and fussing as they went.
            “Look here, it’s about to get dark on us,” Erskine announced. “We’ve stayed too long out here tellin’ tales. We best hurry on down the mountain while there’s still light enough to navigate.
            “Come on, dog,” he commanded, but Witch Boy ran off into the woods.
            “He’ll foller us,” Willie T. assured our teacher. “You don’t have to call him.”
            Erskine grabbed hold of our hands in an exuberant grip, me on one side and Willie T. on the other, took a deep breath and broke out singing the end of the Highwayman song in a strong and surprisingly pleasant voice.
            “And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees …”
            And that’s the last sound we heard before the ground disappeared from beneath our feet.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Literary Event this Saturday at Pell City Library

I'll be at the Writers Anonymous
2017 Mid-Winter
Writers Conference
February 25th, 2017
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Signing copies of 

The Witches of
Moonlight Ridge

 Come visit the library 
and meet lots of Alabama authors 

Pell City Public Library
(205) 884-1015

Pell City Municipal Complex
 1000 Bruce Etheredge Pkwy
 Pell City, AL 35128

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Festivity of Witches

Me talking.

I had a spectacular book event today, hosted by a delightful group of book-loving friends. at the home of Nell Richardson, one of our hometown leading ladies. After my book presentation, reading, and discussion, we listened to Phil Ochs' (on CD) sing his very passionate and moving version of "The Highwayman," a song taken from the poem written by Alfred Noyes in 1906. This song, the tragic story of Noyes' poem, and local legends of romance and tragedy, are featured in The Witches of Moonlight Ridge, my second book of the Moonlight Ridge Series.

We talked about funny family stories, grammar school memories, and favorite teachers. Erskine Batson, the fourth-grade teacher in Witches,  inspired us to recall many of our own memorable and sometimes capricious school teachers from the past.

After our book discussion, we were served a fabulous lunch: tasty items provided by the ladies attending the meeting and an impressively delicious Lane Cake, baked by the multi-talented Bill Richardson.

I enjoyed this get-together immensely, and a good time was had by all! Thank you, Nell, thank you ladies, Susan, Ellen, Carole, Joan, who provided such excellent food, and thanks to guests and everyone who contributed to a delightful event.

Delicious Lane Cake!