sb_0409_cover_andCD-1The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul

The Shoe Burnin’ is an anthology of southern stories and songs of life in the south. The Shoe Burnin’ includes works from 24 authors and singer-songwriters. The first Shoe Burnin’ originated when a group of writers found themselves in a cabin with no firewood — only a box full of old shoes. As each shoe was thrown into the fire, they made up stories about it. Over time, this became a tradition, and in remembrance, many stories and songs shared since have involved shoes — all the places they trod and the myriad experiences of those who wore them. The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul is a collection of those works.

This project has been one of the most exciting and unique that I have been a part of,” said Joe Formichella, editor of The Shoe Burnin’ and award-winning author. “The combination of story and song is enchanting, and it was an honor to work with some of the most inspiring writers and songwriters in the South. Seldom has such a distinctive collection of works come together to tell so many compelling stories.”

Lari White, whose music has earned three Grammys and a Gold record, produced the companion CD that includes 18 works. White starred on Broadway and graced stages from Carnegie Hall to the Houston Astrodome. She acted opposite Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” and produced Toby Keith’s platinum album “White Trash with Money.” White makes her debut as an author with her “Girl Shoes” contribution to The Shoe Burnin’. Here’s a video of Lari singing my favorite song from the CD: “Eden Before the Fall.”


Signing books inside the River's Edge Media tent at the Louisiana Book Festival

Signing The Shoe Burnin’ inside the River’s Edge Media tent at the Louisiana Book Festival

Susan’s essay, “Eat, Drink, Repeat: One Woman’s Three-Day Search for Everything,” appears in the anthology.

Contributors to the book and the CD include Marlin Barton, Chuck Cannon, Lisa Carver, Chris Clifton, Cliff Cody, Susan Cushman, Jennifer Horne, Michael Reno Harrell, Greg Herren, Jennifer Horne, Suzanne Hudson, Chuck Jones, Michael Knight, Bev Marshall, Janet Nodar, Scott Owens, Jennifer Paddock, Wendy Reed, Judith Richards, George Singleton, Shari Smith, Ed Southern, Lari White, Jim Wilson, Baynard Woods and guest vocalist Sarah Buxton.

The Shoe Burnin’ is available from River’s Edge Media (2013). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE.

News and Reviews:

Here’s The Shoe Burnin’s Facebook Page. (We’ve got over 1,300 LIKES. Please LIKE us today!)

You can READ about how The Shoe Burnin’ came about, MEET some of the authors, and WATCH some great videos here, at the River’s Edge Media site.

Deep South Magazine has a nice piece about the book’s premiere at the Louisiana Book Festival HERE.

Darrelyn Saloom, author of My Call to the Ring, says this in a 5 STAR review on Goodreads: “The stories in The Shoe Burnin’ anthology are full-bodied in words and music. Here, I glimpsed many of my own human frailties, fell in love a time or two (once with a dog named Lucy), and felt at home. I enjoyed every song on the CD and every story in this collection.”

The poet, Scott Owens, (also a contributor) gives a nice review here: “21 Writers, A Pile of Shoes, and A fire.”

About 16 minutes into this You Tube video about the Louisiana Book Festival there are some great interviews with some of the writers and artists featured in The Shoe Burnin’.

Here’s a terrific review on Kirkus from July 28, 2014, in which it is said that The Shoe Burnin’ anthology stories and music “retune the meaning of Southern.”


CirclingFaithCoverCircling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality

Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, is the second anthology by editors Wendy Reed and Jennifer Horne (University of Alabama Press, 2012). All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, was published in 2006, and contained 17 essays by such women as Cassandra King, Sue Monk Kidd and Lee Smith. Susan Cushman met several of those authors at a panel during the Southern Festival of Books in Memphis in 2006, and it was that meeting and their essays that launched her own writing career.

When Reed and Horne embarked on a second anthology, they asked Cushman to contribute an essay. The result was “Chiaroscuro: Shimmer and Shadow,” which chronicles Susan’s spiritual journey as an expat from the “Christ-haunted South” who found healing through art and Eastern Orthodoxy. As she says in the introduction to her essay:

“Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1950s and ‘60s, I was always attracted to powerful religious experiences. From my childhood years in the Presbyterian Church, through my involvement with religious movements on college campuses and finally the Jesus freak hippies that formed a church in my first apartment, I finally landed within the walls of the ancient Orthodox Christian Church in the 1980s. It is no small thing to leave one’s religious upbringing, especially in the South, for something as foreign as Eastern Orthodoxy. With this conversion came lots of change, and the process continues today.”


Wendy, Susan and Jennifer at the 2013 Louisiana Book Festival

Wendy, Jennifer and Susan signing Circling Faith at the 2013 Louisiana Book Festival

The Editors

Wendy Reed is the author of An Accidental Memoir: How I Killed Someone and Other Stories. Reed recently retired from The University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio, where she wrote, produced, and directed. She has received two Regional Emmys for her work with Discovering Alabama and also directed and produced the series Bookmark along with various documentaries. She also taught in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. Reed is coeditor of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality.

Jennifer Horne is the author of Bottle Tree: Poems and coeditor of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality. She currently teaches in The University of Alabama Honors College and serves as poetry book reviews editor for First Draft Reviews Online.


“The University of Alabama has published Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, edited by Wendy Reed and Jennifer Horne ($29.95). In this rich collection, 20 writers–”crossing faith, class and denomination”–have contributed essays on, among other subjects, growing up as a Jew in Tennessee, finding healing through art and Eastern Orthodoxy, calling God “Mama.”–Shelf Awareness (December 11, 2012)

“Circling Faith is a vital, welcome, eclectic, and ecumenical collection, and an important addition to contemporary works exploring spirituality.  To students of southern culture, women’s studies, and contemporary American divinity and religious studies, this book will prove to be a valuable resource.”—Melissa J. Delbridge, author of Family Bible

“The collection opens with a bang: in ‘Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer,” outspoken poet, memoirist, and Texan Mary Karr—who recently released a CD of songs she co-wrote with Nashvillian Rodney Crowell—describes how poetry and prayer accompanied her journey from addiction and depression to a surprising conversion to Catholicism in 1996…. From Karr’s struggle to acclimate herself to unexpected joy, the collection moves on to ‘Chiaroscuro: Shimmer and Shadow’ by Mississippi native Susan Cushman, who writes of her deep conversion to the Orthodox faith during the 1980s. Her transformation included changing her name for a time (to “Marye” in honor of St. Mary of Egypt), covering her head in church, marriage to an Orthodox priest, learning to paint icons, and receiving spiritual direction from the nuns of Holy Dormition Monastery…. Through her painting, and later her writing, Cushman works toward healing from childhood abuse and the acceptance that sometimes, as Mother Gabriella from the monastery suggests, ‘we also have to learn to live with brokenness.’ …. In ‘Taking Terroir on Faith,’ Mississippi poet Beth Ann Fennelly, attempting to understand her adopted Southern home, examines the practice of geophagy, or ‘dirt-eating,’ and its curious attraction for generations of Southerners…. In ‘Amazons in Appalachia,’ Marilou Awiakta, an East Tennessee native and renowned chronicler of her Appalachian and Cherokee heritage, tells the story of Nanyehi or ‘Beloved Woman,’ an eighteenth century Cherokee warrior, mother, tribe leader, peace-treaty-council delegate, and elder much sought out for her wise counsel. In ‘Going to Church: A Sartorial Odyssey,’ Nashville memoirist and singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman also addresses the pervasiveness of God within all of creation: ‘I am not a churchgoer,’ she writes, yet “it’s like the whole world has become my church. And every breath I take is a prayer.’”

—Tina LoTufo, Chapter 16: A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers and Passersby (July 6, 2012) “Sacred Harmony.”

“This book goes beyond feminism and faith right into the heart of acceptance and understanding.”—Karen Douglass, (5 Star Review) “A Polite White Background”

“A thoughtful and thought-provoking book on the power and insight of spirituality in its many forms. This book was a very enjoyable read that made me think about my own ideas of spirituality. “ (5 Star Review) “Thoughtful and Lyrical”

“This new anthology . . .  exemplifies some of the best of the multiplicity of voices with something to say. Its core idea is distinctive: writings on religion and spirituality by women of the American South. There are some big names here–an interview with Alice Walker and a touching essay by Mary Karr. Susan Cushman also discusses Presbyterianism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and Brenda Osbey writes of everything she can’t tell you about New Orleans and its voodoo.”—Graham Christian, Library Journal (May 3, 2012)

“Religion is extremely prevalent in the south and the take on it – agnostic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox – in this book is fascinating and compelling.”—Keetha Mosley, (4 Star Review)  “Cross Section of Faiths in the South”


dumped cover

Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women

Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women (She Writes Press, February 2015) is a collection of candid, relatable stories by established and emerging women writers about being discarded by someone from whom they expected more: a close female friend. There are 161 million women in America today, and our friendships are still as primary and universal as back when Ruth and Naomi, Elizabeth and Susan B., and Thelma and Louise made history. When a romantic relationship breaks up, no problem—there’s an Adele song for that. Health concerns; problems in school; issues at the workplace? We’ve got our chums to prop us up. Until we don’t. When our most sustaining relationships dissolve—those with the women friends in our lives—there’s never been the fanfare that accompanies the loss of other relationships society deems “more important.” Until now. In Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, twenty-five established and emerging writers—including Jacquelyn Mitchard, Ann Hood, Carrie Kabak, Jessica Handler, Elizabeth Searle, Alexis Paige, and editor Nina Gaby—explore the fragile, sometimes humorous, and often unfathomable nature of lost friendship. These, like your own, are stories that stay with you—maybe for a lifetime.

61ZNrckf6tL._UX250_About the Editor–Nina Gaby

After contributing essays to a number of collections including: “I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse (editor Lee Gutkind, Creative Non-fiction), “The Maternal is Political” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” (Seal Press anthologies) and both fiction and non-fiction to anthologies and periodicals, Gaby decided to pursue editing her own collection. Gaby is also an award-winning visual artist with work in the National Collection of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, among other collections. She is currently working on combining flash memoir with image and text in a three dimensional format, and has completed a novel, Marginal Living, that is waiting for additional revision. Read a great article about her process of birthing Dumped here.

I met Nina  at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference. She’s an amazing woman. So when she asked me to contribute an essay to this anthology I only hesitated briefly because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to “out” an old high school friend. The one who unfriended me… and then denied it 40 years later! Needless to say, I outed her. (I did change her name in the essay.) My essay is called “High School Never Ends.”

Listen to a great interview with Gaby on Matters of the Mind.


“The essays in Dumped are ferocious and loving, devastating and hopeful, insightful and perplexing. A savage, thorny look at friendship . . . and a rare, uncensored, sometimes terrifying glimpse into the female psyche.”—Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

“This remarkable collection provides an exhilarating range of voices exploring what happens when female friendships falter. Wise, compassionate, and smart, each of these essays is a revelation. Give your best friend a copy along with a warm, thankful hug.”—Dinty W. Moore, author, The Mindful Writer and publisher of Brevity Magazine, the Journal of Concise Literary Non Fiction


Dumped: Gripping From Beginning to End

New Book Offers True, Powerful Stories of Women

Forget Men: Dumped is all about the Heartache of Losing a Best Friend

On Being Dumped…

Of course Dumped is available from Amazon, but please buy it from your independent bookstore! If they don’t have it, they’ll be happy to order it for you.







The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul

Order The Shoe Burnin' anthology from River's Edge Media, and read my essay, "Eat, Drink, Repeat." Learn More»

A GOOD BLOG is Hard to Find

Susan's posts at the Southern Authors' Blog, 2010-2012 (now archived). Read her final post and those of over 40 Southern authors. Learn More»


Susan's guest columns at Jane Friedman's WRITERS DIGEST site (now archived), "There Are No Rules." Learn More»
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