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To all my wonderful readers, friends, and prospective readers:

Haywood Smith PhotoThanks so much for checking out my web site.  I've had a whale of a year, so I haven't updated my home page as often as I'd like, but I hope you'll continue to check, anyway, especially my appearances and events.

WAKING UP IN DIXIE:
I got the idea for my newest book, Waking Up In Dixie (on sale September 14, 2010) from two things.  First, an opening sentence just came to me one day when I was thinking about my next project:  There's something to be said for being married to the meanest man in town...as long as he's the richest.  That really intrigued me, made me wonder what was the story that went with that sentence.  So I thought and thought and thought, and finally came up with the idea of exploring what would happen to a real-life Cinderella if her Prince Charming ended up turning into the mean, philandering banker who's foreclosing on all their friends.

The second thing that inspired me was the struggle with profound depression that my sister's husband endured over the years.  He tried everything, but nothing helped.  After he endured ten years of torture, somebody finally thought to give him a sleep apnea test, and it turned out that he was almost fatally sleep-deprived.  They put him on the C-PAP machine, and the results were miraculous!  My sister said he was like a teenager--talking, laughing, joking, enjoying life, wanting to do so many things, and frisky

So I thought, "What if something happened to the mean banker's brain, and he wakes up from his coma laughing and crying at the drop of a hat, hugging everybody, cussing a blue streak. born again, at the mercy of all his appetites and emotions, knowing where all the bodies are buried, and wanting to be a real husband to her again?"  (Can we say, "Not until you pass an AIDS test!")

SO WAKING UP IN DIXIE was born, a story about second chances and waking up to all life gives us.  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did writing it.  As always, there's a positive ending to touch your heart, along with the laughs.

IN THE WORKS

My next book is WIFE-IN-LAW, the story of two totally opposite best friends in suburban Atlanta, and how it affects their friendship when one of them marries the other's ex, and he ends up dead on the kitchen floor between them.

There's plenty of fun when repressed neat-freak, Young Republican Betsy Callison finds herself across the cul-de-sac from hippie, Earth-mother, pot-smoking Kat Rutledge, and circumstances bring the two women together despite their differences about sex, religion, politics, fashion, diet, abortion, housekeeping, child-rearing, the need for a marriage license, and recycling.   Kat consoles Betsy when Betsy's husband runs off with his secretary, and Betsy consoles Kat when her husband dies long and hard of ALS.  Left with a huge void after his death, Kat needs a project, so when Betsy's ex comes sniffing around again, she falls for his charm, and the two marry, straining her friendship with Betsy to the breaking point.  But when Betsy finds out her ex is cheating on Kat, she tells her friend, and a confrontation ensues, with deadly results.

Don't worry, though.  As with all my books, there's a positive, upbeat ending, and plenty of laughs along the way.

WHAT'S UP WITH HAYWOOD?

I swear, my life's a dad-gummed soap opera, but I am blessed.  In spite of the challenges, God carries me through them in His loving arms.

My first three joint replacements went very well, and at first, so did my fourth (a hip replacement on Nov. 30, 2009).  Knowing the importance of therapy after a replacement, I did whatever my caregivers at Piedmont Hospital told me to in the days following my surgery (with the help of a boatload of necessary painkillers).  Then, on the Wednesday afternoon following my Monday hip replacement, a woman came into my hospital room and identified herself as being from Physical Therapy, then said, "I’m taking you for your walk."  I was so smashed on painkillers, I'd have gone wherever anybody took me.  I almost passed out a few times along the way, but I'm a fighter, so I kept on trucking.  When we got to the stairs, she said, "Okay.  Time to do the stairs."

I managed with great pain and trepidation to get up and down the flight of stairs, but had to stop and rest on the way back to my room.  After she got me back in bed, she said over her shoulder as she started to leave, "I’m cutting you loose."  I called her back and asked what she meant by that.  She brusquely said that Blue Cross Blue Shield would not pay for residential rehab because I met their criteria for taking care of myself, despite my and my doctor's insistence that I needed in-patient rehab. 

When I protested that I live alone in a two-story house with narrow doors into my bathrooms and only my 86-year-old mother (who was recovering from her own surgery) to help, the woman said I could go to rehab if I wanted--I'd just have to pay for it.  Then she left.  Exhausted and hurting from doing what she'd told me to do, I asked for my pain medication and fell into sedated sleep.

The next morning, the nurse said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia wasn't paying for my room anymore.  I had received no discharge paperwork or warning, except for the woman's, "I’m cutting you loose," and refusal to cover my rehab.

Appalled at the thought of having to go home so soon and fend for myself, I met a brick wall when it came to appealing my insuror's denial.  So my son, who had worked all night, came and took me home on Thursday.  I'd only been home for a few hours when I had to use the bathroom (you can't empty a bedside commode when you have no one there who can lift things, and both your hands and busy with the walker).  Carefully turning the walker to fit into the narrow door, I took one sidestep and felt a horrible pain.  I found out later that a huge triangle of my femur popped loose and my implant popped loose, taking a nosedive toward my knee. 

I have such a high pain threshold from years of arthritis that I didn't pass out or fall, but I got back to bed and called the doctor to tell him something was wrong.  His nurse, whom I love, wasn't too worried, because I was so lucid, so she told me to try icing it. 

No luck.  Over the weekend, they advised me to try heat.  No luck there, either.  Long story short, it was almost a week before I could get in to see my doctor.  My wonderful friend Brenda Davis braved the Atlanta traffic to take me the forty miles to his office for an x-ray.  Needless to say, I became the "Good gosh!" pinup girl for everybody in the place.  So Brenda dropped me off at the hospital across the street, where I spent the night, then had reconstructive surgery with donor bone, four titanium cables, and a titanium plate.

The good news is, I didn't get a massive infection or sever an artery or end up losing my leg from a week of dragging around with everything loose in there, so thanks be to God.  And this time, Blue Cross Blue Shield did pay for the acute residential rehab I needed--only to deny almost two thousand of the bill because I was in a private room I hadn't requested, in a facility that only had single rooms, that BCBS of GA had okayed.  Months of phone calls to my insurer and the hospital later, the hospital finally removed the charge.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I was released on December 24, and my son took me home to be with him and his wonderful wife and three toddlers, who had been facing their own health challenges when I was kicked out of the hospital the first time.  There's nothing like hugs and kisses from three grandbabies every day to cheer you up, though, so I loved being there.

The only catch was, I had to start college on January fifth!  I had won a Pell Grant, and because of nationwide funding problems with that grant program, I was afraid to delay using it, so I started college on time in a wheel chair--in mortal pain and on heavy-duty drugs.  Believe it or not, I never missed a class, thanks to my helper (provided by Mama) and friends and sweet Callie who pushed me to class till I could manage on a walker.  And thanks be to God, I was able to make the merit list.  (Which is a double miracle, because even under the best of circumstances, half my brain is full, and the other half's dead.)

Inspired by being a college Freshman at 61, I'll be doing a sequel to QUEEN BEE OF MIMOSA BRANCH that I plan to call, QUEEN BEE GOES TO COLLEGE.  I'll tell you, there's nothing like hanging out with a bunch of nineteen-year-olds to make you glad you're sixty-one!  God bless 'em--all that angst and urgency and hormones.  I don't know how they do it.

As for my hip replacement, the implant wiggled its way back down into my femur, leaving me with one leg an inch and a half shorter than the other, so that messed up my lower back.  God willing, I'm going to have my back fixed on August 19, 2010.  Then my wonderful orthopedist is going to add an extension onto my implant on October 11, 2010, to even up my legs, and I'll be good as new!  (No problem identifying the body if I ever burn up--the replacement manufacturers are making me a custom extension.)

If all goes well, which I am sure it will, this time, I'll be back in school and writing again in January of 2011.

As my granny always said, "After fifty, it's just patch, patch, patch."  So just call me Patches, and don't worry.  As long as I can punch one finger, I'll keep writing stories to make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and end up feeling good.

Meanwhile, I'll try really hard to update my website more often. 

Thanks so much for liking my books and visiting my site.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Please put READER in the subject line, so I'll be sure to read your e-mail.

I remain your fan and friend,