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Peggy Webb/Elaine Hussey | The Joys of Writing for Two


When I started my career in 1985, I was also earning a Master of Arts degree at the University of Misssissippi. My agent sold my first book about the time my thesis was due, so I would hole up in the library on campus to write romance in the morning and thesis in the afternoon. Since I was doing a study of the female characters in the plays of Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, I was actually laying the groundwork for some really great characters that would later populate my more than 50 romances and a considerable number of comedic mysteries.

Way back then I had a grand plan: I would write romance for a five years and then branch off to write the kind of complex Southern literary fiction I love. I would become a female Faulkner, a disciple of Eudora Welty, Pat Conroy in a skirt!

Since life rarely goes according to plan, I ended up writing romance and mystery for more years than I can remember - and enjoying every minute of it! Still, the other stories haunted me. In between deadlines, I started writing about Betty Jewel Hughes, a young black jazz singer in turbulent 1955 Shakerag, dying of cancer and looking for someone to raise to her child; and Cassie Malone, a women ahead of her time, defying society at every turn and longing for the child she and Coach Joe Malone might have had if he'd lived. I called the story many different names. But when Miss Queen popped onto the page with her Bible in one hand and a cast iron skillet in the other, humming the old songs I used to play when I was a church pianist, I knew the name of the book had to be THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH.

The story underwent many changes over the years, and the manuscript pages began to pile up. I printed every version, and kept them in a big box in my office. Finally, everything came together for THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH - the right set of characters, the right agent, the right publisher, the right time. It was such a pleasure to travel around the country this summer and visit booksellers and readers who are so excited about this book!

Now I have the best of both worlds! I get to spend my winters holed up in my little Deep South cottage writing lyrical and complex literary fiction as Elaine Hussey, and my summers touring as Elaine and editing/rewriting the light-hearted romances I'm bringing to you as Peggy in eBook format!

Thank you so much for embracing me in both my writing personas, and thank you, Fresh Fiction, for being my blog hostess today! To show my appreciation, I'm giving away a signed copy of THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH (Elaine Hussey) as well as a selection of my eBooks (Peggy Webb) on the reading device of your choice. Winner will be chosen from the people who leave comments on this Fresh Fiction blog today!

Currently I'm working on a novel set in 1969 Biloxi the summer Neal Armstrong walked on the moon and Hurricane Camille blew the Gulf Coast away. Against that backdrop of great hope and great heartache, Sis Blake and a cast a feisty Southern women learn just how far they will go to save one they love. The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey (Mira, trade paperback) will be available next summer, July 30.

I hope you'll visit me often here at Fresh Fiction and at www.elainehussey.com. Starting this week, I'll be posting on my website about A Year in the Life of a Southern Writer. It will be a behind-the-scenes tell-all that debunks the glamour and reveals the true story. I'll see you there!




43 comments posted.

Re: Peggy Webb/Elaine Hussey | The Joys of Writing for Two

sounds like a beautiful story....truly...
(Mal Kaplan 6:51am October 22, 2013)

Thank you, Mal. Of all the books I've written, The Sweetest Hallelujah is my favorite. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day!
(Peggy Webb 8:21am October 22, 2013)

sounds really great i think i would really love to read this
(Denise Smith 8:27am October 22, 2013)

I would love to win, it sounds wonderful
(Linda Scarchuk 8:29am October 22, 2013)

Love hearing/reading the background to your writing !
Inspiring !
(Patricia Neely-Dorsey 8:35am October 22, 2013)

This sounds like a book I'd love to read. Thanks for the chance to win it!
(Bonnie Capuano 9:00am October 22, 2013)

I love the story line that you chose, as well as the Title of the book!! This would make for great reading for me this Fall!! Although I wasn't quite around in 1955, I know what it was like during that era, and reading that book would bring back bitersweet memories for me. The novel you're currently working on would bring back memories for me as well, because I remember Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, as well as other things that happened for me during that time period, and it would bring back a rush of emotions. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for that book as well. Congratulations on this book. I'm sure it will do well. I know I'm getting my hot chocolate ready as we speak, so I can get hunkered down to read your book!!
(Peggy Roberson 9:18am October 22, 2013)

I love your story of how the book came together, makes me want to read the book even more!
(Margaret Branca 9:58am October 22, 2013)

Learning about your novel and this book is fascinating.
Congratulations and best wishes and many more adventures in
(Sharon Berger 10:34am October 22, 2013)

love the way this book sounds - would love to read this and hopefully find a new author that I enjoy
(Eleanor Jethro 11:06am October 22, 2013)

Thanks for this great opportunity to receive one of your books to read. Being on a very limited income, the only way I can read an author that I have not read before is to win a copy of their book in a contest.
(Robbie Bauldree 11:21am October 22, 2013)

This is a very sensitive subject and sounds like a terrific read.
(Anna Speed 11:25am October 22, 2013)

I've so enjoyed reading all your comments! Everything you have said is music to a writer's ears! Thank you for stopping by and good luck! I hope you will visit me at www.elainehussey.com! Over the next year I'm posting diary entries that give an inside peek into a Southern writer's life. Do stop by! If you want to get in touch with me directly, you can contact me there - and I hope you will!
(Peggy Webb 11:47am October 22, 2013)

This sounds like such a tender story. Your writing is always so good I enjoy reading your books and this is one I will have to make sure to get.
(Vennie Martinisi 12:18pm October 22, 2013)

Born and raised in Mississippi, I love to read books I can feel part of. Really enjoyed your bolg.
(Sheila True 12:59pm October 22, 2013)

Sounds like a great story. Thanks.
(Pam Howell 1:07pm October 22, 2013)

THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH has been on my to read list. I never can seem to catch it when it is on the shelf in my local library. It's either checked out or on the way to another branch. I saw it for the first time in a book flyer the library gets.
(Laura Gullickson 1:44pm October 22, 2013)

I loved reading about your writing journey and thank you so much for sharing! I look forward to learning more on your website. THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH sounds like a remarkable story and I would love to win a copy, as well as a selection of your eBooks. Thank you for the opportunity! My fingers are crossed!!!
(Britney Adams 1:49pm October 22, 2013)

This sounds like an unbelievable good story. I'd love a
chance to read it.
(Mary Hay 2:24pm October 22, 2013)

thank you for sharing this novel, and the process and thought
in how you wrote it, and i appreciate the opportunity to win!
(Kristin Sims 2:31pm October 22, 2013)

If its Southern Lit, historical or present day, count me in to win a copy!
(Susan Coster 2:40pm October 22, 2013)

Thank you so much for sharing the coming together of your book. A woman sure has what she needs with her bible and her skillet. I would love to read THE SWEETEST HALLEUJAH. Thank you for the opportunity to be a winner!
(Melanie Backus 3:37pm October 22, 2013)

I've so enjoyed reading your comments! Thank you! Good luck to everyone. If you don't win The Sweetest Hallelujah today, be sure to enter my Think Pink contest on Fresh Fiction for another chance to win this book. You have the whole month of October to enter that contest! And do drop by my website at www.elainehussey.com. Preriodically, I do giveaways on my blog.
(Peggy Webb 4:44pm October 22, 2013)

Count me in please. Thank you.
(Kantu Malhotra 4:49pm October 22, 2013)

this sounds like such a great book.
(Susan Atkins 5:45pm October 22, 2013)

I already have The Sweetest Halleujah on my Amazon Wish List. The story line is amazing! I have a friend who is now in hospice amd I'm not sure how her children and grandchildren are going to live without her! I can't even imagine not being able to watch your child grow up. This story has to be about a very brave lady who has to make some really difficult decisions before she can say, "Goodbye."
(Sandy Fielder 6:09pm October 22, 2013)

I love the title of the book! Would love to read this one!
(Barbara Wells 6:13pm October 22, 2013)

Such a beautiful cover!
(Callie Stuck 6:27pm October 22, 2013)

Oh my, sounds like a good read. It reminds me of the secrecy
of the girl in the book The Help and how she would have been
outcast if folks found out she was writing the book.
(Sharon DiPrima 6:55pm October 22, 2013)

it sounds like it would be a joy to read
(Ron Frampton 7:43pm October 22, 2013)

Wow, Congrats on your new book: THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH. I
like the book cover too! Congrats on writing over 50
romances and other books too. Your new book sounds
fascinating and I would love to win and read it this Fall.
Thank You very much. Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 9:13pm October 22, 2013)

I love to find a new author to follow and with the stories that I have heard that you write, I am sure that you will be one of my very favorites. I am new to the romance genre so I am slowly finding out who meshes with my tastes the best so would love to read your book to find out for sure. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
(Cynthia Blain 9:39pm October 22, 2013)

I have never read any of your work, but absolutely love your blurb. Thank
you for giving us the opportunity to win.
(Val Pearson 9:45pm October 22, 2013)

I am very interested to read your stories!
(Charlene Fraley 10:15pm October 22, 2013)

Loved the audio version of THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH.
(Mary Chin 10:28pm October 22, 2013)

I have never read one of your books but going by what you
wrote here, I am sure they are awesome and I will be buying
one as soon as I find the money....
(Gina Keitz 10:37pm October 22, 2013)

I love your writing background, it sounds like a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. I'm glad you were finally able to write both types of books you love.
(Jamie Fortney 11:26pm October 22, 2013)

I got such a warm feeling just from reading the blurb from Sweetest Hallelujah on the fresh fiction contest page. I can't wait to get a copy & read the story. I think it is wonderful that you are not boxed in by a certain writing style, that you can write what suits your fancy, so to speak. I look forward to reading your books & enjoying them.
(Kathleen Giannone 12:08pm October 23, 2013)

I so enjoy good Southern literature so I can hardly wait to read Sweetest Hallelujah.
(Sue Farrell 12:32pm October 23, 2013)

I am DYING to read The Sweetest Hallelujah!! As soon as I get my hands on it...
(Kelli Jo Calvert 1:42pm October 23, 2013)

You must be so pleased that THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH is finally
out in the world. Well done.
(Mary Preston 7:47am October 24, 2013)

Sounds like a book I'll enjoy.
(Rita Wray 1:23pm October 25, 2013)

I think it's fun that you have specific seasons when you write
one way, but I can't separate the seasons from my writing.
Congratulations on getting your Sweetest Hallelujah out of the
boxes and onto shelves and in the hands of readers.
(Alyson Widen 7:24pm October 31, 2013)

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