New Novel on the Way: The Blue Bottle Tree

Logline: Revenge is still the best option in the Deep South

I’m working on another novel, The Blue Bottle Tree. The title springs from the once ubiquitous bottle trees that dotted the Southern landscape meant to warded off malicious haints, those folkloric ghosts which bring harm, sometimes cause death, to the living. Historically, the trees used all blue bottles; however, multi-colored bottles can also appear. Bottles are hung from limbs or stuck on the ends of dead limbs.

This mainstream fiction, set in 1961 Georgia against the backdrop of winged-bird hunting, weighs in at 75,000+ words. It’s a tale of revenge fueled by murder, racial tension, and the unwed motherhood of a young girl. The town patriarch, Joshua “Major” Butler, controls the county with an iron hand. He came back from World War II not quite right. Other characters include a Black housekeeper, Letta Davis, a lesbian family matriarch, Susan Pea Butler, a womanizing dog trainer Wes Smith, and a girl-woman Janie Butler.                  

The wheels of revenge may be slow to move—but once in motion, are inescapable.  Faustian bargains proliferate and blood spills across the humid landscape.

As a daughter of the South, I have seen and experienced firsthand the racism, oppression, and hardscrabble times of folks on both sides of the color line. I am acquainted with the duality of thought about our social system, law enforcement community, and sexual mores of the 1960s-70s.

Currently, I’m beating the bushes looking for a publishing home for Blue Bottle. While seeking a publisher, I’ll be offering posts on Southern customs, traditions, lifestyles, and language. Look for more in the coming months.

In the meantime, check out my two collections of short stories (Washed in the Water and If the Creek Don’t Rise) as well as my debut novel, If You Walk Long Enough.  All three are available at your local public library and homegrown bookstore.


  1. Nancy, I can’t wait to read this. Always wanted a bottle tree cause I love glass and these are so pretty in the sunshine! Didn’t know there was a purpose to them except to have something pretty in the yard. Once again you taught me something!


  2. What a lovely website Nancy! Oh my gosh. I remember this book in our writer’s group. Congratulations on all your stories and success. Lee Guthrie


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