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Crazy Holidays

Done. For Now. Yay!

On Tuesday this week I turned in the baseball anthology that Diana Nelson Jones and I have been working on for the last year. (I should like it to be noted that it was delivered one day ahead of schedule.) And then I promptly went down with a heinous cold/flu crap and lay around in bed and on the couch for the next couple of days. But I'm back in the saddle again and looking forward to sharing news of the book with everyone as we work through the publishing process.

Once we have a title from the publisher (McFarland & Company), I'll set up a separate book website, but for now, I'll keep everyone posted here on my own blog page. And, to get you ready to be excited, here's just a small, tiny, smidgen, of what you'll be able to see in the coming 8-10 months or so. Hope it makes you want to get the book!

EXCERPT from the essay "Nothing Else Like It"

The regular season powered to a close and the Tigers continued their record-breaking ways. Things were also heating up at work -- big elections, late nights, crazy times. But the Tigers were never off my mind. In mid-September, with the pennant clinched, I was anticipating the World Series. I thought “Oh my god. It is really going to happen.”

And remember, in 1984, you couldn’t just flip a cable channel on or subscribe to MLB TV. You had to do this thing called reading the box scores in newspapers the next day. Maybe sometimes, if you got lucky and the wind and atmosphere were right, you could pick up a late night few minutes of Ernie Harwell on AM radio from WJR in Detroit. I was looking forward to seeing my Tigers on television for the World Series.

Then the unthinkable happened. A few days before the series was to begin my boss gave me some potentially thrilling news. Our chairman would, naturally, have access to World Series tickets. And while the California tickets would be quickly dispersed since that was his home state, there might, possibly, small chance, be a possibility that there wouldn’t be enough “important people” who wanted to go to Detroit, and if that might, possibly, small chance did in fact happen, I, Chris Arvidson, would get the tickets.

But I still had problems to fix -- I needed to see if I could get myself, last minute, to Detroit on my own. The game tickets were free, but not the plane, and I wouldn’t know if I had the tickets until the day before. Did I want to take dibs on this maybe, possibly, small chance deal? Oh hell yes.
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Hiking and Visiting

After the On the Same Page Literary Festival, I caught my breath and we were off to England for a long hike of The Cotswold Way. It's a lovely journey through quintessential English countryside, about 100 miles in all if you count the time hiking into your village's stop for the night. We took the 8 day, 7 night schedule, hiking as many as 15 miles in day. It's truly over hills and dales, with a good bit of elevation gain and descent each day -- you climb the escarpment each day at least once. We were well prepared and thus fared well. Those "training" hikes up and down Mt. Jefferson really paid off. We got no blisters, but acquired plenty of aches and pains along the way.

Friends Joan and Philip went along with us and have now indicated that 10 miles a day is the maximum for future hikes. Now that we're all past 60, that's probably not a bad rule, but I'd be temped to go on further if the terrain were flatter.

We took a picture each morning when we set out -- to the left are a few samples. I think we look pretty damn good. There's also a few shots of the lush countryside and woods we were treated to along the way and of friends in Bath. Enjoy. Let me know if you've a hankering for any advice on making such an excursion. I got it covered.

We finished up the Chipping Camden to Bath hike with a stay in Bath at a wonderful Landmark Trust property, right near the Abbey. Friends from England, and even Charlotte, came to stay the five days there and explore. Unfortunately for me, on the first night in Elton House, I stumbled on the stairs and did a number on my foot, which had me hobbling through the remainder of the trip.

I knew it was a fairly serious injury, but was loathe to take time out from friends and fun to have it seen to. Once home in North Carolina, I found I'd fractured a metatarsal. It was a clean break and simply required I wear one of those giant boot things for a couple of months. I am now completely healed and back ramping up my hiking locally. I've always been a tripper, stumbler and faller, but now it seems I'm more inclined to break things when I do. Yes. I'll be careful.

On to the new year and books about loving baseball and hating our country's politics. And, there'll be some traveling, too, to write about. Next up - the Women's March on Washington on January 21. Stay tuned! Read More 
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9th Annual On the Same Page is in the books

What a wonderful week. The Literary Festival here in West Jefferson was truly a blast. Attendance was fantastic. All of the authors were super non-divas and, I think, enjoyed themselves as much as the attendees.

I found it very inspirational. The workshops were especially good this year and I'm at work following up what I learned, relearned, thought about, and was inspired by from the week.

Darnell Arnoult has me on a poem a day, which is kind of a strange exercise for me... I've never much thought about being a poet, but it's really kind of working and it's inspiring the work on my novel. Jeremy had me writing two scenes...one of which is definitely going to find its way into the novel somewhere.

Then, to top it all off, the NEXT DAY after the Festival we headed off to Nashville for a recording session at Omni Studios. Henry's first single with Lamon Records is now "in the can" as they say and ready to be mixed. We expect it out within a month. How can that not be exciting? And it's wonderful to watch pros at their work in general. Great musicians, a fabulous studio, it's all kind of overwhelming but I'll try my best to get over it.

Not to get any dust on me, we start The Cotswold Way on Monday. Seven days of hiking 103 miles. Then in Bath we meet up with all our UK friends for five days of hilarity, confusion, talk, eating, etc. That is if I can get it together to get packed...  Read More 
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"There's So Much Nature!"

We're getting ready to go on a big hike in England at the end of the month. In the run up to this trip, we've been jaunting around the High Country, tackling as many trails and logging as many miles as we can in between everything else that seems to be swirling around us right now.

Up on Elk Knob, Henry, buddy Kevin, and I were paused for a snack before trekking back down the mountain when up popped a group of college kids who exclaimed at the view, "There's so much nature!" We laughed. They were embarrassed. But, indeed there's a shitload of nature around here. I've been trying my best to enjoy it, while grinding out some miles in preparation for the Cotswold Way, 103 miles, in 7 days.

But before we get on that plane, Henry is recording a single in Nashville and traveling to Banff for work. I've got the On the Same Page Literary Festival descending next week (don't miss it if you can www.onthesamepagefestival.org) and all the getting ready those things entail.

Not to pile on too much, but this year's exhibit at the Ashe County Arts Center running in conjunction with the Literary Festival, is the pairing of artists and writers called More Than Words. I've written two poems to go along with the gorgeous art work of Joanie Bell. Coincidentally, we've both spent a good amount of time in the UK, stayed in some of the same Landmark Trust properties, and hiked many of the same landscapes there. So, we decided to inspire one another with a very English twist this year. Come on out and see our work, and that of many other visual artists paired with writers from our region. To wet your whistle to do so, here are my two poems. Click on the "More Than Words" link to your left. You'll have to come to the Arts Center to see Joanie's work that goes with them. Read More 
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Creative stuff, but not writing...

I've been busy the last few months helping my Henry out with recording a new CD entitled "Need to Know." It includes five original songs, representing five really different kind of tunes, with everything from just his guitar and voice, to the kitchen sink of instruments - I'm even me flute for one of them. The recording process is really quite interesting, and I enjoyed the bit of time I spent in the studio.

So, go check it out! The CD is available on Spotify, Amazon, and shortly, ITunes for download. In a couple of weeks, you'll be able to buy an actual physical CD from CDBaby.com if you're not into that streaming thing that all the "young folk" do.

Check the link to the right and you can click on a video we made for his song "Damascus Gate" which features pictures from our visit to the Old City of Jerusalem as well as a few antique photographs.  Read More 
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Holiday Wordkeepers is Always Big!

Our December Wordkeepers is coming up on Saturday the 19th. It's always a big show -- generally the biggest attendance of the year. Not sure why. You'd think people have plenty to do this close to Christmas, but they do like to come out and read and listen in December.

The Arts Center isalways decked with a display of local trees, and that's pretty special. And we do always have extra good refreshments, including wine and some special punch (yes, it WILL be leaded).

We're usually full up with readers and have a plenty big audience to enjoy the fun. So come on out if you're in town. 303 School Avenue in West Jefferson NC. It's the place to be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 19. Email me if you're thinking you have something to share. Read More 
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November means NANOWRIMO

November means it's NANOWRIMO - national novel writing month. I've participated in this event the last few years with varying amounts of success. I guess you could call 60,000+ words on a novel a pretty good average, although I haven't followed the precise prescription each time. The idea is that you write every day in November, vomit draft style, at the end of the month you then have a 50,000 word novel draft.

The book I started with NANO in 2013 is the one I've been working on since and I've made a good amount of progress, with the help of my writing group compadres Becky and Diana. Each of us are now in the process of beating our work into shape and plan to use the NANO month to drive us home to good final draft stages by year's end.

It's a heavy load, but we can do it! We'll play with the daily word count format to suit our needs -- some of us need to organize and position what we already have and fill in the "gaps" of our stories, so we will be working with our work, as it were, rather than sticking to a precise word county each day. We're also going to have some "write ins" together -- days we get together and write. We plan a grand sharing at the end of the month.

Wish us luck! And if you've a mind, check out the website and join in: nanowrimo.org Read More 
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Don't miss this dynamite line-up of writers, story tellers, and musicians.

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. Read More 
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We're #2!

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! Read More 
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So Crazy Good

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!-  Read More 
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