My name is Lillie Mae Harris and I live in Mount Penn, a small mountain village on the eastern slope of the Appalachians. The Mason Dixon line and the railroad tracks are one in the same, and separate our village into Pennsylvania and Maryland sides. Whether we like it or not, we’re as much Yankee in Mount Penn, as we are Southern. I live in Maryland.
Everybody tells me that I have the best view of the valley from my living room window, and they’re right. The scenery is beautiful. Not only do we have four seasons in Mount Penn, but each one is exactly three months long, offering me the most marvelous array of natural vistas right out this window, 365 days a year.
It’s summer now, and folks from all over the area drive up to High Mount, the highest point in the area, to gawk at the magnificent view, and also to cool off a bit. It’s ten degrees cooler up here in the mountains, than down in the valley, especially on these dog days. There’s usually a breeze from somewhere, so we rarely need our air conditioners.
On Sunday afternoon from May through September folks drive up to the Mount Penn Park to listen and dance to the bands that come to play in the pavilion that overlooks the railroad tracks and the valley. On the Sundays that I don’t go down to the park, I’ll sit out in my front yard and listen to the music. Very often a neighbor, usually Hester Franklin or Alice Portman, will stop by to share a glass of ice tea and a chat.
My days start early. John, my husband of just short of 15 years, passed away when he was only 42 of a heart attack, leaving me with John, Jr. and Stephen, who were still in school at the time. Fortunately, he had a good insurance policy, so financially the kids and I were fine. Our marriage was a good one. He was such a fun guy. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
I was lucky, though. John took care of me in the end. I didn’t have to work, but I wanted something to do. The Antioch Press, our local daily newspaper, hired me as a freelancer, and now, after all these years, that’s still what I do. I write articles about Mount Penn and the area – local interest tidbits. Some of the weeklies and monthlies in the area have picked up my pieces, so each year I’m writing more. It keeps me busy. I have a data base of all my articles that I hope to get out on the web soon. I’m going to call it Lillie Mae’s Blog.
So I’m up early each morning to write. In the spring, summer, and fall, I like to hike on the trail, the weather permitting, before I buckle down to write. I hike up as far as High Mount, which is two miles up the hill, then two back down, but I don’t always go that far. Sometimes I walk to the Cascade, which is along the railroad tracks, about a mile each way. That’s an easy trip, because it’s a flat hike. At other times, I walk to the Mount Penn Post Office, which is about a mile and a half down the mountain, the other way, toward Antioch. The trip back up is fun, since there is the windiest curve you have ever seen to challenge me.
Once I’m back home, I sit my butt in a chair, and get to work. My information comes from interviews, so I spend the next couple of hours on the phone. My goal is to have the article written and posted by noon each day, but that’s not always possible. More often than not, I work late into the evening, taking breaks during the day to spend time chatting with the ladies of Mount Penn. If I do finish on time, I reward myself with a book, and sometimes a nap, in the afternoon.
Of course, this was my life before the murders began in Mount Penn, and the Thursday morning breakfast club ladies became detectives. I still write most days, but now I have so much more to do.
Liz is giving away one (1) digital copy of THURSDAY MORNING BREAKFAST (AND MURDER) CLUB. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends August 1.
You can read more about Lillie Mae in Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club , the first book in the new “Thursday Morning Breakfast Club” mystery series, published by Sartoris Literary Group.
Meet the author
After some thirty years writing everything from political encyclopedias to software manuals, Liz Stauffer retired from corporate life to write fiction, travel, and play on the beach. Since that time, she has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world. With her two dogs, Liz lives in Hollywood, Florida, where she owns and manages a vacation rental business.
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