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Saying Goodbye to "Things"

Part of moving is letting things go. We've done a pretty fair job of it. Of course it helps mightily that where we have ended up is so fantastic. I must note that saying goodbye to Santa was especially difficult. He is now "up north" in Michigan at my sister's house, along with the kayaks, and assorted other stuff they packed onto their Beverly Hillbillies truck this past weekend. He did wave goodbye. :)

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Moving is hell.

You probably knew this already. Moving is hell. Henry and I have done it many times over the years. We've been in West Jefferson, in the mountians of northwestern NC, full time for 13 years, pretty much a record for us. So, naturally we decided it was time to shake things up...not get stale...and to quit driving to Charlotte 2x a week to teach at UNC Charlotte.


We're kind of all-or-nothing guys. No subtle changes. We've gone from small mountain town little old bungalow to uptown Charlotte and have moved into a condo in the old Ivey's department store on Tryon Street. Ironically, I'm finding myself walking more here in the city -- just a few steps to grocery and drug stores, a skip over to the light rail, and only 4 blocks to the BALLPARK! In 3 short weeks, we're all moved in and I've been to the Charlotte Symphony and the Charlotte Knights already. Tomorrow night it's the Detroit's AAA Toledo Mudhens game. 


Well, I'm a little slow on the walking for now. One of the casualties of the monstrous moving process was the base of my little toe, which I broke on the leg of our bed...new place and all. I have this Frankenstein shoe thingy I'm about to jettison and all is healing fine. But damn. There's no way to move without some kind of something.


We also knew that Elizabeth, commonly known as daughter #2, who moved back to Charlotte from San Francisco last Fall, wanted to start a family with her husband Sean. So that was just one more reason to move back.  Boy, did that ever happen. She's now well into her 2nd trimester with triplets. I shit you not. Spontaneous, no family history, no ferlitiy stuff. So, good thing we're showing up now, right?


Class is about to wrap up for the semester at UNC Charlotte. April 30 is the last day. Then it'll be time to grade exams and turn in grades. In the Fall, I'll be once again teaching Baseball in Film, so I (and my students) will have that to look forward to over the summer.


Play Ball!



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Last days of class

I have to admit it. I'm looking forward to the end of the semester probably as much as my students are. It's always this way, I fear. One more week left of classes and it seems to have flown by. The inevitable  thought of "what did I leave out" and "why didn't I?" creep in. But, all in all, teaching classes about baseball literature, culture, and film has been an interesting experience. Who knew there was so much out there in academia connected to baseball anyway? 


I also have to admit I'm looking very much forward to the spring semester. I'll be teaching only one class, Introduction to Creative Writing, and I love doing this class. I'm really more of a coach than anything else, and I find it inspires my own writing as well. 


Hanukkah starts tonight. Wednesday night is my last class until January. Whew. s

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On the Same Page is an inspiring delight once again

From Tuesday afternoon to Saturday lunch, we had wonderful literary overload here in West Jefferson with mesmerizing author presentations and insightful and inspiring workshops. Also, lots of great stuff to steal for my classes and books to bring to other readers and writers galore.


This year, our 11th, was no different in that the week before I was questioning my sanity. It's a lot of work. And, I volunteered to do the wrap-up discussion for the Festival Read book. I had such angst. Stupid, of course. It went fine. Everyone said so. But you know that old saying about the "expert from afar" it really is true. 


It was a really great festival. We had stellar attendance at every single event, and plenty of new people, too. Even though hurricane Florence was barreling down on NC, our only cancellation was our big draw, Tracy K. Smith, the poet laureate of the United States. She was rightly worried about getting the hell outta here when she was finished with us. She'll come another time late, and we'll make a big deal out of her again!


Now, it's raining buckets. It started just about the time we finished up yesterday. Looks like it'll continue through the night. I'm reading an advance copy of one of our Festival author's new books while it's pounding our roof. Henry says a huge limb has come down off our giant poplar tree out back. Guess that's what I heard fall when I was taking my marathon bubble bath this afternoon...after my nap. 

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Park Road Books and the Charlotte Knights!

Look out Charlotte - here comes "The Love of Baseball" crew to make for an incredible weekend of baseball fun.


We'll be at Park Road Books at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 4. And when I say "we" I mean a bunch of us from the book!  Expect to see me, Henry Doss, Doug Butler, Nancy Gutierrez, Editor and Partner-in-Baseball-Crime Diana Nelson Jones, Caroline Kane Kenna, Rebecca Bratcher Laxton, Elizabeth Scott Leik, David Malehorn, Ellyn Ritterskamp, Victoria Stopp, and Stephen Ward.


Many of these wonderful contributors are coming from way out of town. So, give them some love and come on out.


THEN, if that wasn't enough fun, we'll all be at Charlotte Knights Park for a before-game book signing at 4:00 p.m.  Game starts at 5:05.  This August Sunday is Women in Baseball Day at Knights Park, so you couldn't ask for a better game to come on out to. 


See you in Charlotte in August.

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Come out and see Love of Baseball gang!

Reading/Book Signing in Cornelius


Come to The Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius on Thursday, April 12, at 7 p.m. for "Play Ball," a reading & book signing for Love of Baseball Essays by Lifelong Fans, edited by Chris Arvidson and Diane Nelson Jones. Published by McFarland and Company in 2017, the book includes 30 essays from fans across the country.


Charlotte Writers' Club North is pleased to sponsor this event featuring Charlotte area contributors: Stephen Ward, Ellyn Ritterskamp, Rebecca Laxton, Caroline Kane Kenna, Henry Doss and editor Chris Arvidson. Written and edited by baseball fans, the collection follows the arc of a season from spring training when every team has the potential to be a winner, through the guts and grind of the regular season and the crowning of the World Series champion.


Join us as we celebrate America's pastime. Wear your favorite teams' colors, show your team spirit. There will be popcorn, peanuts and Crackerjacks and stories that take you to the ballpark.

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It's That Time!

Tomorrow, pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, FL. It's Spring Training time everyone. Today I hung my new Tiger flag out on the porch. My flag of the last three years was wonderful, it had the old Tiger logo on it, but sadly it's original beautiful orange color has faded badly. I just couldn't have a pastel Tiger flag hanging outside my door. It simply would not be right. The new flag is a giant Tiger "D" on a navy blue field, with a bright orange border. It's pretty spiff.


We bought the old flag from a shop on Brush Street in Detroit, after having seen it in the window on the way over to the ballpark one night. After the game, we stopped in and snatched it up. I'm thinking about what I can make out of it, and the one it replaced, too. Some kind of outdoor cushion perhaps? I'll come up with something.


It's also time for ramping up promotions for the baseball book. Last week I spoke to the High Country Writers group over in Boone. It was great fun. I wore my new Tiger "D" shoes, and sold a few books, too. Next week I'll be meeting up with contributor Caroline Kane Kenna in Charlotte to go over the April event we're planning for the Charlotte Writers Club North. And there's more to come.


So, it's OK to start dreaming about the green, green ball fields now my friends. Tomorrow pitchers and catchers report.

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Talking Love and Craft with Brendan

What fun! Wednesday morning I had a great talk with The Creative Nonfiction Podcast guy, Brendan O'Meara. He puts together podcast conversations with writers about craft and their passions and their favorite books and just everything words.

Click on the link to the left of this column to hear the podcast that I'm on. All of my writer friends should definitely be subscribers!

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Talking with my man, DG Martin

Listen to my talk with DG Martin on his Chapel Hill radio station show!

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From the Winston-Salem Journal:

(See the quick links for a direct link to the article)

Ashe County writer shares love of craft with others in the mountains
By Lisa O’Donnell Winston-Salem Journal Oct 11, 2017 (0)

Throughout her career, Chris Arvidson was the go-to person when someone needed something written well.

These days, Arvidson works at writing well for her own creative fulfillment.

A Michigan native who retired to West Jefferson with her husband several years ago, Arvidson is involved in several writing and literary projects in Ashe County while making sure she has plenty of time to devote to her own writing.

Her most recent project is an anthology of essays by baseball fans about their love of the game. She co-edited the collection, “The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans” with Diana Nelson Jones, a longtime reporter and columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Arvidson contributed her own essay, “Nothing Else Like It,” about the Detroit Tigers magical run to the World Series title in 1984.

The publisher of the book, McFarland, also published an earlier anthology she edited, “Reflections on the New River.”

It turns out that McFarland publishes a lot of books about baseball, and Arvidson just happens to be a self-described “freak” about the sport.

A baseball-themed book seemed a natural.

“Diana and I came up with a list of everyone we knew who were freaks and have good stories,” she said. “It was easy to come up with 30 people.”

Besides writing, Arvidson also helped start Wordkeepers, which gives local writers around Ashe County a chance to read their work.

“People can read whatever they want for five minutes,” she said.

The writing salons have been held every other month for about 10 years, routinely drawing 20 to 30 writers.

Arvidson, whose house faces Mount Jefferson and overlooks West Jefferson, tries to write every day, and meets frequently with a small group of writers for support and critiques.

Q: How would you describe your art?

Answer: I like to write about people and topics that I, and others, feel passionate about. I hope my writing projects reflect this.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer: I have had several wonderful writing teachers who have helped me stop being timid with my work. Now, at this point in my life, there’s isn’t much I’m afraid to say or write about — a great gift for a writer. I have also begun writing poetry in the last few years.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer: My mentors at Goucher College, where I did my MFA, were fantastic. I continue to look to them and my colleagues in the program. In fact, many Goucher “Gophers” are represented in the baseball book. I have also had the opportunity to get to know some terrific writers through working on Ashe County’s On the Same Page Literary Festival. We are able to attract first-rate authors to a small intimate event, so I’ve been able to develop some wonderful writer friendships through the festival.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: Always, to keep moving forward. To stay on track. To put my butt in the seat and write!

Q: What does art do for you?

Answer: It’s the way I make sense of the world.

Q: Any advice for other artists?

Answer: As a writer, I’d say there’s no substitute for the good old “butt in seat.” And, don’t be afraid. I imagine this is really true for all kinds of creative endeavor. For writers in particular, I’d suggest finding yourself a support/writers group you can meet with regularly, and more importantly, be accountable to. It really helps in keeping your momentum.

Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to lodonnell@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7420.
If you go

What: Ashe County writer Chris Arvidson will talk about "The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans" at Bookmarks, 634 W. Fourth St., 7 p.m., Oct. 25 as part of the Four on Fourth series, which will also feature Jennifer Bean Bower, Barbara Scott and Maura Way.

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