David, Henry, Me and Patty - our El Salvador peeps now here in NC!

Philip Gerard, my first mentor in the Goucher MFA program, at On the Same Page Literary Festival this September. Hail to all the Gophers out there!

This, and the photos below, are in Jerusalem on our trip there in March. It was so incredibly good we're going back later this summer and working on an archaeological dig with UNC Charlotte with the same folks from the March trip.


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October 1, 2015

Tags: reading, writing, On the Same Page Literary Festival, West Jefferson, North Carolina, Ashe County, Ken Waldman, Wendy Welch, Jack Beck, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Ann Pancake, Edward Kelsey Moore, Georgann Eubanks

Oh, I hope you didn't miss it...we had such a wonderful time. I would have written more about it right after, but I got sick as a dog and like others who have contracted this "crud" it's been a couple of weeks knocking it back.

It would be hard to pick out just the highlights, but you can see lots of pictures from the Festival on the On the Same Page Festival website (onthesamepagefestival.org) or join the Festival's Facebook page.

It's hard sometimes to spend all year putting something like a literary festival together and then step back from it after -- or even during -- to understand what kind of experience has been crafted for the attendees. We can look at numbers; we can look at comments and evaluation forms...but it's hard to capture what went "right" and where we can improve, where we can make next year even better.

The even better part is the hardest when you've had such a wonderful experience. I'll just keep working on that.

Don't miss this dynamite line-up of writers, story tellers, and musicians.

September 8, 2015

Tags: literary festival, West Jefferson, Jack Beck, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Angela Davis-Gardner, Georgann Eubanks, Amy Greene, Edward Kelsey Moore, Ann Pancake, Dan Pierce, Ken Waldman, Wendy Welch

On the Same Page Literary Festival happens here in West Jefferson in September. It's a nice time of year here -- the trees are just beginning to turn, the weather is generally cool-ish. In its 8th year, we have developed an excellent and professional little event, and I DO mean little. Big names in books, but a "little" feel to the thing -- intimate numbers, a chance to really talk to the authors, workshops with workable numbers of participants and a cooperative, rather than competitive, spirit about it.

We'll have a big "Reflections on the New River" event, too, on Saturday morning at the Farmers Market. It will be a great next-to-last event for the Festival. I'm expecting 20 or so of the writers to show up to share their work and sign books.

By that afternoon, I'll be face down. I think this is my 5th year of working on the coordinating committee for the Festival. We work all year long putting it together, and it's an exercise in stamina for us to make it all happen in those five days.

If you're in our neighborhood, be sure to come. Check out the schedule I've posted here or go to the website. We've got a wonderful line up - you won't be sorry you came.

We're #2!

August 19, 2015

Tags: book, publishing, anthology, julie townsend, scot pope, new river

We've had a really nice summer with the book so far. Highlights have included the event at Main Street Books in Davidson, NC, with many friends new attending, and good old buddies showed up as well. Eight of us trucked up (and down and over) to Roanoke to WVTF Virginia Public Radio, and were recorded reading from our "Reflections on the New River" work. I was interviewed about putting the book together as well. We expect an hour-long show to eventually be produced with the material, to be aired later this year.

McFarland Publishers put out their newsletter yesterday, and we appeared in the #2 spot for printed books. It's very gratifying to see our marketing efforts at work. Next up is the On the Same Page Literary Festival appearance on Saturday, September 19, 10:00 a.m. at the Ashe County Farmers Market spot. So far, nearly 20 of the contributors to the book are planning to be on hand. It should be wonderful!

So Crazy Good

June 23, 2015

Tags: McFarland, New River, Scot Pope, Julie Townsend, anthology, Jerusalem, Israel, archaeology

I'm madly packing. I actually enjoy doing it - yes, it is crazy. But it's a challenge and an art, to assemble, anticipate, craft, wash, fold… I am getting really good at it, to tell you the truth.

It has been a whirlwind around here. We started out with a big dinner part -- a fundraising Feast for the Arts -- here at our house, then moved right on to the big book launch party, a rained out festival, then a special poetry reading and Wordkeepers, and a salon and performance for Henry and Scot. That's all in the last 10 days. Seriously?

Tomorrow my sister gets here -- she's minding my house and taking care of the kitties while we're gone to Jerusalem to participate in the Mt. Zion Dig again this year. In a weird way, the dig will be a kind of break in the action. As soon as we return, it all starts up again with book events, then a writing workshop (for which I have MUCH preparation to do) and then the Literary Festival… I think I'll have to rest for the holidays!

All of it. Every crazed minute, is good stuff, though. Stuff for which I am honored and privileged to have a part. Good thing I decided to go ahead and chop my hair and let the gray shine because no way would I have any time to deal with the!-

Coming Down to It...

April 26, 2015

Tags: new river, book, reflections, poetry, essay, short story, Julie Townsend, Scot Pope, McFarland

Well, Julie, Scot and I went through every word of the new book. I read out loud and Julie or Scot sat there with a red pen and the print-out of the final copy from the publisher.

It's really going to happen.

I delivered all our marked pages to McFarland Publishers in Jefferson and then rolled down the windows in the car, turned up the radio (there was some early Fleetwood Mac playing), and cruised the few miles home with a satisfying grin on my face.

Now comes the cat wrangling. Our plan for selling this puppy includes as many readings/signings as we can line up in all three states that the New River flows through, and with as many of the authors as we can schedule. We've got such a wonderful group of contributors, I know they are going to have lots of suggestions, and hopefully, they'll help out with some of the leg work involved in setting this kind of stuff up.

Let the games begin. It's going to be a busy summer.

Back From El Salvador

February 2, 2015

Tags: Habitat for Humanity Charlotte, work, friends, service, El Salvador, Santa Ana, Ataca

I'm back early this morning from my Habitat Charlotte trip to El Salvador. This annual "attitude adjustment" trip is always so rewarding, such a pleasure, and lots of hard work. I spent many months preparing at the gym, knowing as I do, that being in the best shape possible always makes for a better trip. I was, if I do say so myself, quite studly this year and suffered no injuries, didn't fall down on the site, and with the help of a little Advil P.M., not even sore during the week of hard work. For mi compadres, I wrote this poem, which came to me as I was going to sleep on our last night in the country.

And Then

And then they started to leave.
At first just a couple
Who don't enjoy the beach.

And then we all pack up
Our fabulously dirty clothes
Crusted with the week's sweat and work

And then we have our last hugs
And disperse throughout the airport
To our respective gates and cities.

And then we fly away home to our loved ones
Dreaming of next year,
Leaving behind those we love, too.

The Pre-Order link is above right - click it!

January 4, 2015

Tags: Order your Reflections on the New River now!

Well, it's scheduled for spring/summer 2015. What that means in terms of an actual date, we just don't yet know, but we'll keep you posted.

I expect we will set up a book webpage when we get a publication date, and, I'll be getting back to all of my writing and reading friends about setting up readings and signings all along the New River.

Stay tuned - and go on and order one!

IT'S HERE!!! We have a title and a cover!!!!

December 5, 2014

Tags: New River, writer, editor, essays, stories, poetry

Look what appeared in my email this afternoon. The book cover and the title! In the next couple of weeks I'll be able to post a link to the publisher's catalogue for pre-orders, too. It's all feeling real now.

We don't have a publication date yet, right now they're still saying spring/summer 2015, and we haven't seen a proof yet, but it looks like the price will be $19.95 which is very pleasing -- we wanted to keep it as low as possible.


NANO Day 13

November 13, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

OK, so I'm not keep up quite as much as proscribed by NANO rules, but I am working! I figure it's gotta be OK with a broken leg right? That's what I'm going for.

Anyway: Here's some words for you:

My little town, just about 5 miles up the road from the university center, afforded us a comfortable hide out. We contributed civically, served on boards, made nice with everyone really, without ill regard toward those with that “what church do you go to?” state of mind. Hell, we laughed those people off. They were kind of quaint, really, if sometimes annoying, in their persistence in the Jesus way of going about life.
Sure, sometimes I bristled at public meetings where Jesus was invoked in what I regarded as civic, not religious business. I tired of hearing the church bells, frankly. What seemed a delightful, small-town interlude on Sunday mornings, eventually seemed intrusive. Who were these “Christian Soldiers” and what were they moving “onward” to, anyway?
But, those of us academics here in the self-satisfied in town, along with our brethren cloistered up the road in the enclave of academe, we were above it all. Frankly, we didn’t pay enough attention -- beyond being annoyed. While we weren’t looking, beyond our own little snug homes and careers, those Christian soldiers were swiping things off us, and we weren’t just looking the other way, we were paying no attention at all.


November 9, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

Hanging tough, laying low, doing the Christmas movie/writing thing friends. Leg is up, computer is on my lap. So, here are some of my words from Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month:

“I know, James. The truth is, the shriller people got, the more I just wanted them to shut up. It’s not that I didn’t agree, I just didn’t see how getting all riled up was going to make any difference. I still don’t see what we can do about it. In fact, I told Rita this morning…”

“Rita! Holy shit, she must be having a stroke. Did she stand up and start hollering at the President during the meeting?” James was, I’m sure, remembering the tenure “discussion” at the last Faculty Senate meeting. Rita had launched a monumental harangue at that meeting, and she’d been met with silence, even from her own colleagues, who by that time had simply felt ineffectual at best — scared of their own jobs at worst.

“That’s the other news I have, James. Rita wasn’t at the meeting. She was home packing. She’s gone.” I just dropped the bomb. Boom. James just stared at me dumbfounded, pushing the floppy hair off his face, his mouth, literally hanging open.

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