In 1923 Edith Perry submitted a short story for Writers Digest; the same magazine I read today. In approximately 1500 words she described the heart ache of a young teacher in 1900 who felt the sting of her local school board. They debated a law which dictated the martial status of teachers and she was in love. Her love was a struggling farmer; caring for his widowed mother and younger siblings. Her own parents needed her as their health care provider and to lose her meager teacher salary would strain any newly formed family. A firefly happened to enter the room through an open window as Miss Perry’s story begins the hearing.

The editor hand wrote (in pencil) suggesting that the young teacher speak for herself during the debate. More importantly, he advised that Miss Perry tread carefully about the subject since the state still required teachers to be unmarried.

The Omen of the Firefly hid between the yellowed pages of an early 20th century lesson plan book; which is fascinating in and of itself. I questioned the reasoning of the antique law, the legislative and financial struggles of the times, and  if the story was autobiographical.

She died in the early 60’s and I will rewrite the adventures of that firefly; for her. The early 20th century is a favorite to research; hence my Gray Lace and Silver Cotton. I have wondered why my creative and sensitive Great Aunt E never married.


Ice cream first, of course. It was my husband’s birthday, but I had to have some. Yes, I’m that self-centered. Another “of course”…it was delicious.

The aforementioned ice cream was served in a restaurant hanging over the Atlantic surf. The beach was empty and the waves had a top edge that the cold wind sharpened and sent sprays of salt water to the south. I should have been home writing, but…there Was ice cream.

The ferry boat: North Carolina has a fantastic ferry boat system to connect her islands and Outer Banks. Because of today’s political and financial atmosphere, I pray the system can continue. For just a few dollars, you and your car can travel over those smaller waves in the sound,  watch the birds dive, squabble, and survive, and finish the ice cream now melting in your “to go” box. Always order extra, you never know when you might need a fix while being entertained by a pelican.

Book store: back on dry land in the fine town of Fayetteville, there is a small but delightful book store, The Center City Gallery and Books on Hay Street. No, they don’t sell ice cream, but there is some available nearby. The helpful and friendly  owners live upstairs over the shop, just like days of old. You know, back when ice cream was made in the home by cranking a handle a whole bunch of times before the cream and ice actually made a sinful and joyous union.

Oh! Wait! The most delightful part…Center City Gallery and Books sell my novels: all five of them.



My daughter and son-in-law have a verbal signal of distress when specifically needed in the wild-world of child care. My grand daughter is well cared for by both parents and one reason is their mutual response to the “Support” call. Diapers are hurriedly supplied. Missing favorite toys are quickly found. Prayer-time milk  is delivered before sleepy eyes remember to cry. This system is greatly admired.

While I do not scream “support” (usually),  I do get it in my wild-world of writing. First is my husband. He is my strongest fan: listening, spending money, and offering advice from technology to valued thoughts on the human condition; of which I am often oblivious.

Second, my friends, yes, I have some, a few. They edit, suggest, and write reviews! Sometimes they buy my books and pat me on my head; not too hard.

Last, but not least (I like that phrase) there are the retailers who allow all of my books to appear in their establishments. One is a gift shop in The Waccamaw Depot Museum. Another is a restaurant, Dales Seafood on Lake Waccamaw  and the third is an adorable independent bookstore in Fayetteville, NC;  Center City Gallery and Books.

No, this is not an ad. This is my blog.



Idiot Proof Reviews

A friend, “bless her heart”,  (as they say in the south), and I were discussing how much money I make with “this here writing stuff”. I told her I make enough to go out to dinner in a third world country, not including air fare. She asked how she could help to sell my books. I explained about the importance of reviews, especially those on Amazon and she asked for “Idiot Proof Directions”.

  1. Go to Amazon
  2. Type Eleanor Tatum
  3. Click on Silver Cotton (or any of my books for that matter)
  4. Scroll down to “Write a Review”
  5. Write a few sentences.

Silver Cotton has six reviews now, but I’m begging for 20.  Read those on my page for some creative suggestions.

Why is this part of promotional work so difficult for me?

My brother, The Slob, (as we tease in the north), said it best, “Write a better book.”

He calls me The Boss….



My daughter gave me a necklace for Christmas; two really. One has a semi-colon on the pendant; honoring my newly published 1910 swamp mystery, Silver Cotton. She told me it meant, “a few thoughts to follow; I have another thought which contradicts the first; or supplemental information to follow.”

I love it.

The semi-colon defines the year for me; it needs to be used more often. Within this year I’ve increased my thirst for constitutional knowledge; a willingness to pray. I’ve read and followed several sources of news and “fact checks”; sometimes not understanding what I read. I have continued to write fiction in order to escape; reality and her “shows” are stressful; hopefully fictional.

I do not have to listen to some governmental voices; I shall remain somewhat sane.

I will continue to pray for our global community, write my historical mysteries, and research the news; grieving for the words that need to be said, written, and prayed.

Sweet and Peaceful 2017 Wishes; Dear Readers


The Positives Win

True, you’ve read or heard enough 2016 summaries. Too bad, here’s one more. Mine. As an educator I taught young minds how to “map” their thoughts and now I do the same – a T chart. My third graders believed it stood for Tatum.

The positives burst forth on the left and the negatives repeatedly “emojoed” their tongues on the right. Here I go:

1. I am a grandmother/ 1. The National Election

2. I lost 22 pounds/ 2. NC Tarheels lost the national basketball championship

3. My fifth novel, Silver Cotton, was published by Rebel Ink Press in both e-book and paperback/  3. The NC Elections

4. Giggled in a British pub with my sister/  4. Dear friends adapting to widowhood

5. Traveled to London and Lubbock/  5. NC politics

6. Made several trips to my swamp…..nothing better, nothing else, egad and amen


Dianna left him to check locks on all the doors and windows. She returned to place a cool cloth on his face and it brought their survival to the forefront. “You need to barricade the doors. Push the furniture….”

“I’ve already done that. Just tell me how to load this gun.”

She felt like an idiot. He had forced his eyes open and stared at her cradling his shot gun and dangling a cloth sack storing the bullets. Damn, he was mad. Why? She tapped her foot with the demanding impatience of a typical debutant socialite. That usually worked. Idiot, indeed.

“Put that back.” He breathed in a shard of struggling breath. “Carefully! It’s already loaded, stupid woman.” His temper seemed to consume his energy for any further insults or commands.

Through his haze, he heard her moving around and mumbling. He inwardly smiled at the dainty curse words and breathed more easily at the sounds of the gun rack accepting his gun back into the safety of its walls. She stomped around his small palace, dropped a pot and whooshed out a temper-filled cloud of frustration.

“Come here.” He had been right. She hated commands. The entertainment eased his pain. “Water!” He hid his smile. Her silence should’ve alerted his usual awareness. A cup of cold water splashed and jolted his macho fantasies into reality.

“Sir, your gun is ready and you’ve had your water. What’s your defensive plan now? Dimples!”

Edward winched at his childhood memories; the nanny pinching his cheeks while his younger brother, Charles, would enjoy his humiliation. “Don’t bother calling me that. It wouldn’t help your situation.”

“Help? And just what is my situation?”

He lifted up on his elbows to address his guest, who was in need of an idiot status reminder. “You’re stuck in a cabin with an injured cotton farmer. There’s a band of thugs about to return to raise meanness to new heights. The crops need weeding and you sent away my only farm hands.”