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.”


“Come on Coffman, are you a coward and English or are all English cowards?”

Having no idea what they meant or what her plan might be, she opened the door and pointed the heavy gun. She strategized, while the gun grew heavier. “Get out! Leave!” Her first thought to penetrate her fear was the look on their faces.Had she really scared them? Would they really leave? Her second thought concerned the sudden warmth and strong wall behind her. He stood close and his arms came around her waist to adjust her aim. Dianna stared down the barrel which now pointed at the leader’s horse. The lengthy silence of the rider told her a story of stubborn disbelief and indecision.

“Damn!” The leader turned the targeted beast away. They grumbled, cursed, and gave graphically mean promises, but they left.

“Please close the door, Miss. They’ll be back.” He took the gun, returned it to the rack, and collapsed at her feet.

Usually her stubborn manner would question commands. Nor this time. Usually her attitude toward men would have her stepping over the collapsed male. Not this time.

“Mr. Coffman?” Dianna rested on her knees and she gently shook his shoulders. She prayed since she was down there anyway. “Dear God, in heaven, what do I do now?” She started a tactile broken bone survey. “Why am I doing this? He didn’t fall hard.”

“No, but if you keep that up, I’ll have a broken bone anyway.”

Dianna startled, pushed away from his groans, and stared into a pair of lake blue eyes coming closer to hers. “No!”

“If I was going to molest you, Miss, I’d have to feel a hell of a lot better. Help me up?”

She moved her worried muscles and gingerly stood. She bent over him and slid an arm under his raised left side.

“Chamber pot, if you please,” he grunted.

Together they hobbled back to the bedroom and he ungraciously used his toe to pull the pot from under the bed. “Turn your head if you must, but don’t drop me.” After a few awkward but relieving minutes, he fell back onto the bed, and into another sleep.

These two men were less than one and trusting them to care for an injured man worried her. “Listen to me. Those girls need to get home.” She looked outside at the approaching night. “Now.”  She walked around to their side of the bed. She figured direct eye contact would help. “So, please take them to the central market in Plainville where their folks are waiting. Then get the doctor and the sheriff. Bring them here. I’ll stay with Mr. Coffman.”

They nodded and started out. “By the way, where is the brother? I heard he has a brother.”

“He lives at the lake, ma’am, but by the time we get your errands done, it’ll be too late to get to the lake and back.”

“My errands?” She toned down her temper. Curiosity took over. “What lake? Oh never mind, just get moving.” She soon heard the team pulling her choir girls home, but their usual singing and giggles had ceased. She didn’t blame them. Their new driver required two heads.

Wondering when Molesley and Herman would return with help, Dianna started exploring the small four room house for supplies. She was pleased with the apparent cleanliness and the lack of clutter, but not the lack of medical needs.

Her patient hadn’t responded or moved, even when she wrapped his ribs with her own torn petticoat. She wanted to get some warm soup, or at least water into him. She had cleaned his bruises and cuts and wiped his lips with a clean rag soaked in cool water. She lit candles and took note of the home decorations, as limited as they were. Either Mr. Coffman was married with children or the Jacksons left in a hurry. The mixed pictures were not uncommon, just not helpful.

The shouts from outside froze her progress. “Coffman, get out here. We’re not done.” The laughter of at least a half dozen men urged Dianna toward the gun rack. She knew nothing about guns. She didn’t like guns. Her parents wanted her to carry one when she insisted on chaperoning the choirs.

“Why would I need a gun in church?”

Her father’s sarcasm and quick wit often sent his message loud and clear. “A woman responsible for a black female choir traveling in the swamps of North Carolina? Well now, you’ll probably be arrested for being stupid.”

She grabbed what looked like the most dangerous of the collection. An outside warning shot dashed her decision about whether her choice of weapon would be loaded or not. It was too late.