PRESS RELEASE Gently Scattered Intentions

Mississippi Author/Illustrator Laurie Parker’s



Hardcover with Dust Jacket, 432 Pages, Retail: $28.00

ISBN: 978-0-9980060-4-8


Short Description: In June of 1977, the summer before her tenth-grade year, Eugenia (Gina) Reese moves with her family from Canton, Mississippi, to the state’s otherworldly Delta region, where she is content to keep to herself, sitting around at her grandmother’s farmhouse in a borrowed seersucker duster watching As the World Turns. But when she dares to take an out-of-the-ordinary and sticky-hot job as a flagman guiding her uncle’s crop dusting planes on their spraying swaths across local cotton fields, she meets a young pilot who unwittingly becomes her reason to get up every day. After her family moves into town so that she can attend Greenville High, she comes to know Lily Ng, an aspiring photographer and the daughter of a local Chinese grocery store owner. The two form a bond when they share their foremost secrets with each other. But Gina never develops interest in making friends at her new school beyond Lily, as her abiding crush on the sparkling-eyed pilot, five years her senior, continues to guide her thoughts and actions. Sadly, her relationship with confidante Lily is strained by teenage bickering during their final year in high school, and on an ill-fated night just five weeks before graduation, Gina’s self-serving behavior contributes to Lily’s mysterious disappearance.

Thirty-one years later, Gina is working as a paralegal in Memphis when yesterday comes calling with a double punch. A skull has been located in the county where Lily Ng vanished in 1980, and Gina’s old aviator heartthrob, the alcoholic son of a Mississippi millionaire, reappears in her life. All at once she finds herself teetering on the unpleasant edge of learning the ugly truth about what happened to her classmate over three decades ago while struggling with resurrected feelings for the very man who has long been considered the prime suspect in the cold case.

In her poetic and authentically southern voice, Laurie Parker presents an affecting narrative that alternates seamlessly between the past and present as she carries the reader through the events that led to tragedy long ago and gets beneath the skin of a flawed character who finds herself in turmoil when her deep and indelible feelings for a man seemingly can’t be reconciled with justice for an old friend. Warmly imbued with Mississippi Delta color and aching truths, Gently Scattered Intentions is an artful and profound tale of friendship, infatuation, second chances, and the unshakable effects of remorse, rumour, and unanswered questions from yesteryear.



(Yonder Dove Press; Starkville, Mississippi; October 2018) – Mississippi wordsmith and collage artist Laurie Parker, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s rhyming favorites Everywhere in Mississippi, The Turtle Saver, It Really Said Christmas, and others, has again demonstrated the strength of the writing side of her twenty-six-year career in the arts by releasing her FIFTH novel.


Says Parker: “In 2013, I made the switch from ‘children’s books’ to ‘big-people books’ when I released The Matchstick Cross. Even though I always considered my rhyming books to be for both children AND adults, I was long-ago labeled a ‘children’s author.’ So although it was a major departure in the eyes of the public when I released my first novel, a 507 page book, it wasn’t so much for me. I was just doing what I’ve always done—crafting in words! But there were, of course, some differences in the process!”


Although she says she thoroughly enjoyed doing the children’s books, the Starkville native says that she found that writing a story in prose came so naturally to her with her first novel that she regrets she didn’t start doing novels years ago. So to make up for lost time, she has devoted the last five years of her life to crafting in prose! In September of 2014, she released her second southern novel, Yonder Breaks the Morning; in 2015, her third, Hush, Swing, Hush; and in 2016, her fourth, Trespassers Talking


Laurie’s novels are not sequels; they are completely unrelated stories. But they all are set in her home state. In her latest, her fifth, she chose the Mississippi Delta, specifically Greenville and the nearby community of Wayside, as her setting. Says the writer, “With its inescapable sky, flat-as-a-floor landscape, and otherworldly ambience, the Delta was the perfect place to tell a tale of a mysterious disappearance, which is the central theme of Gently Scattered Intentions. The main character is haunted by remorse and unanswered questions about her friend and classmate who vanished just before high-school graduation, and that dovetails with the vastness and deadly-black nights of the region. The lack of hills, that flatness that seems to defy that the earth is round—it also plays well against one of the recurring, symbolic references I used throughout—that of a world globe.” The story begins with the following lines:


“If you’re a good enough shot and can hit the smidgen of designation representing the state of Mississippi on one of those big world globes like teachers used to have on their desks back in the day, the bullet will come out in the Indian Ocean on the other side. I know because I’ve seen it done. When I was in fourth grade, Reginald Ballard did it in one try with a slug from a 12-gauge shotgun in a field behind my subdivision in Canton, Mississippi…”


The following excerpt also references a globe:


“If you take one of those old-school globes and locate Mississippi, you’ll get a good, hands-on grasp of just how astronomical the odds of being born on that teensy spot are. The Delta, no matter how infinitely vast it seems when you’re smack in the middle of one of its big, bottomland nowheres in a pickup truck, is barely even a pin prick on a ball. But somehow I ended up on that minute perforation in space and time, and there I encountered the man I would love. We were just two of God’s gently scattered intentions, wayfarers wafted on a wish, stupendously fortunate enough to find each other again below the firmament…”


In addition to being a story about the resolution of a cold missing-persons case, Gently Scattered Intentions is also a coming-of-age story and a love story. Says Parker: “The book alternates between the past, Greenville, Mississippi in the late seventies, and the present, Memphis in 2011. The past was my favorite part to write, as it deals with a fifteen-year old moving to the Delta, meeting an older boy (a crop-duster pilot with whom she becomes enamored) and developing a bond with Lily, the Chinese-American girl who later goes missing. I immersed myself in information about crop-dusting, reading anecdotes from veteran pilots on ag aviation message boards and excerpts from biographies of pilots who flew old Stearmans and Ag-Cats. I also read extensively about the Mississippi Delta-Chinese connection, as that obviously played into the development of my character Lily. I think I felt this one, more than any other novel I’ve written, as far as having the sensation of living what I was telling.”


The history between the main character, Gina, and Nigel, the pilot and son of a Mississippi millionaire, is the reason that Gently Scattered Intentions pulsates with poetic quotes like these:


“Perhaps there is such a thing as love at first sight, if only because there is something lofty in us, something presentient that already sees the bigger picture, knows where the narrative is headed, recognizes that person or those people who will be crucial in our story. I don’t know— maybe the old myth of the red thread has some truth to it. Hasn’t everyone known at least one person in life to whom they felt connected by something older than the thunder? I have.”


“I again felt it—that he was capable, that he was fearless, that he was my partner in an instinctive crusade to float above participation in the cracked and imperfect world, to ascend and sail beyond disenchantment into some flawless yonder, some stratosphere strewn with happy, written-in-stardust answers as to why we’d ever been cast down in the first place.”


Says Parker, “I am a poet at heart, and I have demonstrated that penchant somewhat via the prose in all of my novels, but I did so more extensively with Gently Scattered Intentions than any other I have written. This one was a whopper to write because not only was I exercising my love for poetic prose, I was exorcising some personal stuff. During the time I was endeavoring to pen this novel, I was repeatedly waylaid by personal hurdles. I became quite discouraged at times and lost faith that I could see it come to fruition. But the story became bigger than me and allowed me to push through and get it told. I was quite pleased with the result.”