Tag Archives: appalachia

Honoring the woman behind the bestselling memoir-WEEDMONKEY on her St. Patrick’s Day birthday

Today, March 17, was my beloved mom Victoria‘s birthday.

Here are some things I want you to know about my Mom:

She was a strong and loving woman who grew up in the coal mining camps of Kentucky and West Virginia and suffered through a very difficult childhood during the Depression. She could have grown up angry and bitter however she chose to spend her life looking out for children and making their lives better than the one she had.

She loved antiques, pink roses, purple irises, wisteria, and poppies.

She loved Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dog, and James Garner. She esp loved Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury.

She thought Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow should be together and it would have broken her heart if Tim and Faith ever broke up.

She loved Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, and it would have broken my heart to tell her he had died. I was grateful she had passed before he did.

She thought a woman should be President saying that a woman would not be so quick to send our boys and men into war.

She would cry and get angry when another soldier fell on the battlefield during the Gulf War.

She loved history and doing research on our area.


My grandfather Jesse, grandmother Maude, my uncle Gerald, and my mom.

She loved to cook and bake, and our kitchen was always full of cakes, cookies and cupcakes, and she would always put cake mix in a coffee cup and hand me and Gary a spoon.

She was a writer who wrote short stories and published a small book called, “Almanac for a Bored Housewife” and asked me and Daddy to draw and design the cover. I was 15.

She loved ghost stories.

When I was a little girl, she, Gary and I went to a gas station one night in Frederick. The girl came out to pump our gas and it was freezing. My mother asked her where her gloves where and the girl said she had forgotten them. My mother took off her gloves and gave them to her. I remember sitting in the back seat thinking, I want to be like that one day.

Her favorite television show was “The Twilight Zone” and her favorite movie was “Random Harvest.”

She loved the Springtime and all the flowers and lush greenery that it would bring.


The original photo I used as the cover of Weedmonkey. My uncle Gerald and my mom Victoria.

She loved watching country music videos.

She was terrified of the movie, “The Shining.”

She was scared to death of snakes.

She loved anything Victorian.

She thought commercials were ridiculous.

Her favorite color was Blue.

Her favorite trees were Mimosa, Holly, Magnolia, and Willow.

She loved Butterfingers and Werthers Caramels.

She got me hooked on “Sex and the City.”

I got her hooked on “Days Of Our Lives”.

She taught herself how to use Web-TV in her 60’s so she could check out the internet.

She was a big seller on eBay and had the ID name Vic10 because none of the other Vics were available.

She was born dead in 1929 and her Cherokee grandmother saved her life by removing the “veil” she had been born with saying, “The white doctors don’t know anything about birthin’ a Cherokee baby!”


My Cherokee great grandmother Dicie, who brought my mother back to life as a baby.

As a child, she fell into the hole in an outhouse, landing in the “basement” and her father and some men had to tip it over in order to save her as she was drowning in the debris.

She and my Dad were the 4-H leaders for Pleasant Valley and she was the PTA President for Pleasant Valley Elementary School and made many changes to the area.

She volunteered countless hours at the school helping children learn how to read and write. Every life she ever touched can remember “Miss Proulx.”

She is responsible for the flashing light at the end of Valley Road.

She idolized her grandchildren Shelley and Mandy and said both of them would do great things one day. She was so proud of them.

When spelling our last name, she would always say, “P as in Paul, R-O-U-L-X.”

She could not tell a joke to save her soul, yet she was hilarious, would come out with the craziest things, and when we laughed at her she always said, “I’m glad I am a source of amusement!”

When I would climb too high in a tree and couldn’t get down, she would climb up there and get me.

She couldn’t stand anything around her neck and would never wear turtlenecks.

She loved my cooking and always told me I should cook for a restaurant.

After she passed, I baked some homemade yeast rolls and left her one on the counter with a note.

At her memorial service, I played all of her favorite songs including, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Memories” from the musical Cats.

When we were little, she would sing, “Summertime” to me and Gary as we went to sleep.

She let us roller skate in the house.

She loved Butter Pecan ice cream.

She was a 3rd generation psychic/medium who grew up in an era where people didn’t talk about such things.


Her other grandmother Mallie Victoria whom I am named after.

A chicken once attacked her when she was trying to save a baby chick, the hen jumped on her head, and my dad shot it off at about 50 feet away.

She had the patience of a saint.

She owned her own antique shop on our farm back in the 1970’s called “Vicki’s Antiques” and she was the first person on Valley Road to have a yard sale. She went on to co-own “Boonsboro Antiques and Flea Market” and ran it for 12 years. Then she owned “Victoria’s” in Hagerstown for several more.

She had a life worth remembering and today is not a sad day. It is a day we remember a beautiful woman who was a wonderful mother, wife and friend. A quiet, graceful Cherokee who could see beyond people’s faults and mistakes, someone who saw the good in everyone and made each of them her friend.

I was proud to call her Ma.

She had a good life … and she had a good death … surrounded by love. She is loved and fondly remembered today and every day.

Happy Birthday Ma! I love you and miss you so much! ♥♥♥

WEEDMONKEY available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook:



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A deathbed promise fulfilled-Why I Wrote WEEDMONKEY (photos!)

When I was a little girl, my mom wanted to be a writer. She wrote short stories in the vein of her favorite television show, The Twilight Zone, and she did research on areas of historic interest in our hometown.

I would see her typing away on her old typewriter and watch in awe as she created piles and piles of papers, all part of a manuscript, being thrown into a box.

MA AT 17

My beautiful mother Victoria

What she was working on was her life story which she called WEEDMONKEY.

Weedmonkey is a Southern term for the word whore and this ugly word was being used to describe her mother, my grandmother, Maud.

My mother grew up during the Depression and was forced to live in coal mining camps throughout Appalachia. As a child, she was subjected to child molestation, the KKK, murder, homelessness, starvation and ridicule for being the daughter of the town whore.

MA, GERALD, JESSE AND MAUDMy uncle Gerald, my grandfather Jesse, my grandmother Maude and my mother Victoria (Ruby)

She grew up hating her mother who was taken away when she was nine years old and while she was gone, she and her brother were put into foster care, starved and abused.


My uncle Gerald and my mother Victoria (Ruby)

When her mother returned, she did not know her husband or her children and my mother could not understand why she had changed.

At 16, my mother made the decision to leave Kentucky and the only life she had ever known after discovering her prostitute mother was having an affair with the young boy my mother loved.

She grew up with hatred, resentment and shame for the woman she called Mom and it was not until her mother’s funeral, did she learn the horrible truth, the reason for her change and the reason why she became the town whore, a weedmonkey.

I knew this book meant a great deal to my mother. I also knew that she was afraid to do anything about it out of fear of being scorned by her family, most of whom were still living.

She put the book away many times only to talk it about again and I grew up feeling that Virgie, the name my mother gave the main character in the book, was my friend even though she was my own mother.

In 2005, my mother said she wanted to work on the book again and asked if I interview her once a day for at least an hour. This way her thoughts could be contained and she would have clear notes to look back on. I agreed and so it began.

Oftentimes, she would stop, cry and say no more. “I can’t do this, it’s too painful.”

1956 Flood at Red Creek

Red Creek, Kentucky after a flood

I gave her the time to reflect but urged her to continue. I stressed the importance of this book being brought to life although I could see the old wounds were still fresh and very raw.

Although a kind, loving and gentle woman, my mother carried a lot of pain in her heart.


My great grandmother Dicie, a full blooded Cherokee who brought my mother back to life when she was born dead in 1929. She was mother’s mentor. Her husband Peter and their children. My grandfather Jesse is the little one.

In 2006, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live. She was 77. We talked often about Weedmonkey in those last few months and I knew how much it meant to her to have it completed. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

As she lay dying, she asked me for a small favor. Would I please finish the book and write it for her. Although I was at a lost for words, I said yes.

She only asked that I do a few things: the book must be called Weedmonkey, the main character must be named Virgie Hopkins, and the cover must say Mama, Mother, Whore.

After her death, it took me a few years to even look at her pages. I was grief stricken beyond words and mourned not only the loss of my mother but also the death of her dream.

I finally decided it was time to do something with the book so I searched for her notes and her interview. However, in the confusion of her death, they had been misplaced.

I went to bed one night and asked for my mother’s heavenly guidance. Where are your notes? Your interview? If you want me to work on this book, I have to know where everything is!

That night I had a dream. I was standing in my mother’s kitchen, opening up the cupboard over her desk and the dream ended.

The next day I went to the cupboard over her desk and was met with two large pills of papers. I took them all out and went through them one by one and there at the very bottom of the pile was Weedmonkey.


My great grandmother Mallie Victoria and two of her children. I was given her name Victoria as my middle name. She and her husband were very wealthy and owned Ward’s Emporium in North Carolina.

However, this was not a book in completed form. It was typewritten pages, all with carbon paper, there were multiple versions of chapters, duplicates of the same pages, scribbled handwritten notes, papers that were torn and words scratched out. How in the world was I ever going to make any sense of this mess?

It took several months to sort it all out but I kept thinking how important it was for her to have her story told and I did it.

I got the book published and within a year, it was on the Amazon Bestseller list and went to #1. It ranked me into the Top 100 Authors on Amazon Memoirs and was being sold in local bookstores such as Turn The Page owned by famed romance novelist Nora Roberts. I have even had two book signings there!


So, you see, this is what this books means to me. I kept my promise to my mother as she lay dying and I hope I have made her proud.






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I have some very special news to share with you!

When I was a little girl, my Mom wanted to be a writer. She wrote short stories, they were often about local history, and some were actually ghost stories. Her favorite TV show was The Twilight Zone.

She also began writing a book about her childhood growing up during the Depression. She was forced to live in coal mining camps in Appalachia where she was subjected to child molestation, the KKK, murder, homelessness, starvation and ridicule for being the daughter of the town whore.

My whole life, I have heard about this book and would see her at her typewriter with her carbon paper typing away. I would see her jot down notes and go through old photos and I would see her cry at remembering the pain.

For fear of scorn from her family, most of whom were still living, she decided not to write anymore on the book. I knew this troubled her deeply.

In 2005, she decided to put her thoughts into words and we began a series of interviews that lasted for about a year. We hoped this would keep her story intact and she could finish it one day.

Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live.

On her deathbed in 2006, she asked me to finish writing it for her. I lovingly said yes.

After her death and with her heavenly guidance, I found her notes and her interviews.

The book, WEEDMONKEY, is now out in paperback and on Kindle.



I am so very happy to share this news with you. I only wish my mom were here to share it as well!

I am available for interviews and reviews!

Thanks for you continued love and support!!!




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Attn: Agents and Publishers! New book~about the Depression/murder/child abuse/KKK

Hi everyone!

Happy Wednesday!

As you can see, I have made some changes to my blog. I wanted to show the world that I don’t just write horror novels but have other works up my sleeve as well.

I  have decided to promote a book that I wrote and finished last summer called Weedmonkey.

It is the true story of my mother’s life growing up against the backdrop of Appalachia during the Depression.

She grew up in the coal mining camps of Kentucky and West Virginia and faced a hard life that no child should ever have to endure.

I was on the fence about whether or not to go the Indie route but I want to try to find an agent or a publisher for this project first.

I am hoping I can find one to take an interest in the story as I feel that since it was worth writing, it is worth reading.

The book contains 68,438 words and both the book and the proposal are in completed form and ready for submission.

I believe in this book with all of my heart and will do what it takes to get it noticed…not only for me but for my mother Victoria.

I don’t want to hurt anyone in my family by making this work public. That is not my intention. My sole purpose in writing this book and completing it for my mother, is to fulfill a promise I made to her as she lay dying and to simply honor her life.

A life worth remembering… 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

               The Story Behind Weedmonkey

The making of Weedmonkey has a unique history. The book was actually started by my mother when I was a child. The story is the truth about her mother, told through the eyes of young Virgie (my mother Victoria)

Weedmonkey is a Southern term for a loose woman, a whore, and what my grandmother had become during her time in the coal mining camps of Kentucky and West Virginia.

My mother grew up hating her mother and was ashamed of living in the shadow of being the daughter of the town whore.

It wasn’t until she was 16 that my mother fled Kentucky only after finding out her mother was having an affair with the boy my mother was in love with.

Afraid of scorn from her family, most of whom were still alive at that time, she found the book difficult to write. Therefore she stopped writing her story and hid the papers away in a secret place.

Years passed and I heard about Weedmonkey often and knew that the passion she had for the book had not died.

In 2005, she asked me to help her complete the story since she had put the book away and never finished writing it. She was afraid that since it was a true account of her hard life that many of her family members may be offended.

She was a good woman and did not want to hurt the ones who were still living by speaking ill of the dead. Well, in my opinion, they should have behaved better knowing that one day they might be in a book! 🙂

For one whole year, I began to interview her with the promise that she would give me at least an hour of her time every day. It could not be 20 minutes or 59 minutes, it had to be a full hour. If our time went over an hour, then so be it, and she agreed.

So every day for a year, we sat down and I listened as she poured her heart out to me about the horrible conditions of her ruined childhood. I listened as she recalled horrific details of abuse, child molestation, murder and even a terrifying encounter with the KKK.

At times, she cried reliving such memories, and often stopped to tell me that her intense pain was the reason she could not continue writing the book herself.

But after a year, the interview concluded and she was happy that she had it all written down.

A few months after the interview was complete, she became ill and diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was given three months to live.

This was February 2006.

On her death-bed, we talked a lot about the book and she asked me to take over the task of writing it for her. How could I say no?

I lovingly told her that it would not be finished “in time” and she said, “I know, it’s okay. You finish it when you can.”

However, somehow, that was okay. For she knew as she crossed from this world into the next, that I would keep my promise and write her life story, Weedmonkey.

She passed away on April 30, 2006.

It took a long time to get on the project and I suppose it was not only the pain of losing my mother that kept me from completing it, but the fear of doing it wrong. What if I didn’t do the story justice? What if I got the facts wrong or had a question that I could not ask her?

So, I did just that, I asked her…show me what to do…

That night I had a dream of me going into her kitchen, standing in front of her desk and opening the cupboard overhead. I saw this scene play over and over as I slept.

The next day, I did just that and found a ton of paperwork, bills, etc. I began to rifle through the massive amount of paper and I found the original beginnings of her book! I was ecstatic! Here in my hands was her book, in her own words, notes, dates, names… everything!

I smiled as I read them recalling her sitting at her desk with her old  typewriter in front of her. Funny as I thought of how often she had to change the ribbon and made sure she had plenty of carbon paper on hand.

It was the beginning of a year-long project that I undertook and with her notes and my interview, I completed the book last summer. It was not an easy task by any means. The book was not complete and there was a lot of missing information. However, I was able to go over my notes and find small intimate details such as, did she call her mother, Mom or Mama? Was her father, Dad or Daddy? These little details were important to me and I wanted to get them right.

Book Overview

Purebred Cherokee Dicie Woodwind’s family was forced to flee their home in North Carolina in the Trail of Tears and relocated to a reservation in Oklahoma, therefore never trusting the white man and his “white man ways.”

Married at 15 to Dutchman Peter Hopkins, they become homesteaders in the hills of West Virginia. One of Dicie’s most prized possessions is a string of rattlesnake rattles or “buttons” taken from the snakes that had bitten her while clearing their land. Dicie and Peter produce 13 children. One of these children, a son, Jesse, falls in love with Maud Ward, while visiting his mother who had returned to her home in North Carolina.

Maud, the daughter of Robey and Mallie Ward, was born and raised on the plantation Tarragon on 3,600 acres of prime land in Valley of the Crosses, North Carolina. Tarragon is worked by 17 colored men, women and their families whose ancestors had been slaves to the Ward family.

At the age of 33, Mallie dies from complication of childbirth. In his sorrow, Robey blames himself “for loving her too much” and becomes an alcoholic, neglecting his children and Tarragon. The children are placed with members of the Ward family and the plantation is auctioned.

Eleven-year-old Maud is placed with an uncle who owns a boarding house. When she is 17, she meets 19-year-old Jesse, falls in love and they marry. Her family refuses to acknowledge her marriage and she is disowned for marrying a “half-breed.”

Jesse’s life with Maud was far from happy. Maud could not adjust to the difficulties of being the wife of a poor Cherokee. The only work available to him were jobs that the white man did not want. Cleaning out-houses and burying the dead were the types of jobs offered to him.

In their third year of marriage, Maud becomes pregnant and unable to find work in town, Jesse takes his wife and unborn child to find work on a farm. They are placed in a one-room tenant cabin. They awake during the night to find the cabin inhabited by dozens of snakes. Maud’s terror forces her into labor.

After 36 hours of hard labor, their daughter Virgie is born dead and brought back to life by Jesse’s mother, Dicie, who encounters the white doctor and blames him for allowing her grandchild to be born dead.

As a child growing up during the Depression, Virgie had a very difficult life. A life made even harder by the fact her father Jesse, a dirt poor Cherokee, was forced to take work as a coal miner.

Moving in and out of coal mining camps in West Virginia and Kentucky, Virgie’s mother Maud who was born and raised in the lap of luxury and wealth, has trouble finding common ground with the other women.

Unable to satisfy his lonely wife, Jesse takes solace in his work and Maud turns to other men for comfort. At first, these were harmless flirtations and Jesse pretended not to notice. He was secretly proud that he had the most beautiful woman in town and he was happy to hear her laughter.

He knew that he had not made her happy and that he had disappointed her in many ways. He had hoped that his love for her would be enough.

When he finds that Maud’s flirting has led to an affair, he took his knife into the woods to end his pain. However, filled with love for her and their family, he could not let go.

He took his family and made the first of many moves, but Maud’s affairs continue and he could not force himself to leave her. Several times he left, only to return to try harder to understand why he, who loved her more than life, could not make her happy.

Eventually, her affairs lead to the birth of a child who was not Jesse‘s. However, being a proud man, he forgives her and says nothing. His pain was far greater than hers was at the birth of her daughter.

When Virgie catches her mother and her lover in the throes of intercourse, Maud, ashamed, runs into the house with a loaded gun and locks the door.

Unknown to the nine-year-old Virgie, Maud tries to commit suicide and is taken away and put into a mental hospital where she is given electric shock treatments. Her memory is almost destroyed as a result.

While Maud is away, her two oldest children, Virgie and her brother Wade, are taken from school and put into foster care where they are starved and abused. Their younger sister is sent off to relatives and the infant daughter is kidnapped by the neighbors who were watching her.

Upon her return, Virgie is shocked at her mother’s demeanor and cannot understand why she does not know her family. No one tells the young girl why her mother is so different and this leads into a life long hatred and resentment of Virgie toward her mother.

Never completely regaining her memory, she is forced to live with a man and his children who she is told are hers. Virgie becomes the mother and cares for the children all the while resenting her mother for the change.

Another child is born to her and Jesse but this child is not his either. The baby dies at four months old.

Maud becomes more and more promiscuous. By now, Virgie has matured into a beautiful young woman whom Maud regards as a rival.

After 15 years of marriage, 34-year-old Jesse meets a 16-year-old mountain girl, has an affair and she becomes pregnant. Not wanting to divorce Maud, the love of his life, he is forced to by her family who threaten him with statutory rape charges.

Still in love with Maud, he divorces her and marries his child bride.

Maud moves into the “Rambler’s Roost; Rest Haven for Men“, which is the town whorehouse.

Maud takes up prostitution and is arrested for an untreated venereal disease while 14-year-old Virgie, her brother and sister are forced to live with their father and their 16-year-old stepmother in a two room trailer inhabited by several members of the mountain girl‘s hillbilly family.

Virgie drops out of school, obtains work as a student nurse and goes out on her own. She has great difficulty in surviving as the “daughter of the town whore.”

After her mother’s second arrest and a frightening encounter with the KKK, she makes the decision to leave town when she discovers that the boy she is in love with is having an affair with her mother.

It is not until Maud’s funeral, that Virgie finds out the truth about her mother and she is left to live with the guilt and regret of hating a woman for an illness that was not her fault.



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And as always, thank you for your continued love and support! 🙂

*´¨) ¸.·*´¸.·*´¨) (¸.·´

                               (¸.·’*Lisa¸.·*´¨) (¸.·’*  

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.” ~ Julia Cameron




























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