I’m SO excited to be presenting at this year’s WV Writers Summer Conference! I so enjoy talking writing and sharing what I’ve learned thus far, but to do it back home in West Virginia . . . well, you can’t beat that with a stick!
PLUS, I’m hoping I can sit in on sessions being led by some of the other presenters. Kari Gunter-Seymour (nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes) is offering a session titled, “Food for Thought, a Taste-Based Workshop.” If you’ve read my stories, you know food plays a significant role in everything I write!
And then Rob Merritt, a professor at Bluefield College, is offering a session about Irish poets–Yeats, Heaney . . . I wonder if we can sneak in Dylan Thomas? Of course, Patricia Hopper Patterson is FROM Ireland, so maybe she can weigh in. Regardless, she’ll be talking about novel development–something I’m keenly interested in!
And then there are Michael and Carrie Kline–collectors of songs, stories, and folklore–who will talk about “Gathering Local Memory and Wisdom.” Which sounds to me like talking to the old folks–one of my favorite research techniques!
So I get to talk about writing. I get to listen to really smart people talk about writing. And I’ll be doing it at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV. Shoot. I went to Conservation Camp there when I was in grade school.
I wonder if I can hike that trail we built in . . . what . . . the early 1980s?? Regardless, I’m so happy to be invited back home.
I also got to hang out with one of my favorite authors–Ann Gabhart!
I had a wonderful time at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest this past weekend. I had a chance to teach a class, sit on a panel, and interact with readers (and writers!). Some of my favorite things to do!
On Friday I sat in on a poetry workshop with former Wisconsin poet laureate and Kentucky native Max Garland. It took me back to my first love–poetry. It’s such fun to sit with a group of other folks who are passionate about stringing words together in a meaningful way.
Which made me realize I’ve never shared my favorite poem (of mine) with you. So here you go–one of my earliest published poems that appeared in Appalachian Heritage way back in 2006.
SAD STREAKS AND WEEPY MERINGUES
Illness, death, disease and even divorce
bring out the mixing bowls, the spoons,
the flour, the sugar and the speckled brown eggs.
Good women converge in kitchens on far
sides of town, all for the expression
of love and sorrow, sadness and hope.
They consult stained cookbooks, faded cards
and memories sharpened with use to concoct
something that will stave off the hunger for
knowing what comes next—what comes
after we get through this . . .
And when the pound cake isn’t quite done,
with a soft, moist middle that invites us
to sink down and find an almost peace—
When the sugar in the meringue doesn’t
quite melt, and caramel drops bloom like
smoky topaz tears—That’s when love
and sadness meet the perfect measure,
filling our sorrowing hearts,
if only for a mouthful.
I’m super excited to be heading to Bowling Green, Kentucky, this week for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. I’ll be teaching a class titled “Setting as Character” at 9 a.m. Friday morning, attending a meet the authors reception Friday evening, and sitting on a panel titled “People, Places, and Pie” Saturday morning. That last panel is with Karen Spears Zacharias, Ann Gabhart, Naomi Miller, and Rachel Miller so it’ll be a treat for me as much as anyone!
I’ll also be signing as many books as they’ll let me!
The Southern Kentucky Book Fest is one of the state’s largest literary events and is presented by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and WKU Libraries. The event is in it’s 20th year and I’m honored to be included.
And while it’s great to meet readers, I’ll confess I’m also pretty excited to get to hang out with some author friends. In addition to the ladies on the pie panel, I’ll get to see some other author friends and hopefully meet several new ones. Writing can often feel incredibly solitary, so having an opportunity to spend time with other writers is always a treat.
If you’re in the vicinity of Bowling Green this weekend, I hope you’ll come out to see us. And if you’d like to register (the event is free), click HERE to learn more.
Frances came from the Charlotte area!
Before I was published I might have daydreamed a little about the events I would do once I was . . . well, you know . . . famous. Signings, readings, interviews.
Now, two years into this published author business, let’s just say the reality hasn’t quite lived up to the daydream. I’ve done signings where the only takers were people I pretty much accosted and charmed into buying a book. I gave a talk (paid!) where one person came. And she didn’t know I was going to be there–she just sort of stumbled into the room.
There have been others that came closer to those early daydreams–my book launch was incredible. Doing a signing at the International Christian Retail Show was just plain fun. And then there was yesterday.
I did a signing and reading at our local Barnes & Noble to benefit the Literacy Council of Buncombe County (you can still benefit them–if you shop B&N on-line, enter code ID #11827862 at checkout to donate 10% of the purchase through May 8). I invited folks and it was well advertised, but still, I was holding my breath knowing I could easily end up reading to the literacy council staff and my husband.
My standing-room only crowd!
And then . . . people came. A reader who connected with me on Facebook came all the way from Charlotte, NC. Friends came and brought their own friends. Passers by heard me reading and stopped to listen, then stayed. After the reading others swung by the table and ended up buying books.
Oh, it wasn’t like Nicholas Sparks or Francine Rivers with a line snaking out to the sidewalk, but it sure made me feel good. And it was mostly because people I know came and made it look like an event so other people started paying attention, too.
My delusions of grandeur have yet to play out, but this business of having good friends I can count on? That’s better than any dream of fame or fortune.
The only thing better than holding one of my very own books in my hands is meeting someone who actually took the time to READ one of those books.
I mean, that’s kind of the whole reason I write them. So people can read them and hopefully be touched by my stories. I do run into people like this in daily life on occasion. Friends at church have read my books. Some co-workers have. Once in a while I’ll meet someone at a conference who’s read something I wrote. And readers get in touch with me via Facebook.
But the BEST place to meet readers is at book events. If they haven’t already read my books, they at least have some notion they want to. Never ceases to amaze me.
So in December, I’m heading out to do several events and if you’re not too far away, I’d LOVE to see you there. Here’s the itinerary:
Thursday, December 3 – Meet the Author at the Durham South Regional Library – 6:30-8 p.m., Durham, NC – I can’t tell you how excited I am to be speaking at a LIBRARY! One of my favorite places to be. As for the presentation, remember those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories? My talk will flow along those lines letting the audience choose which direction the conversation heads.
Friday, December 4 – Talk & Signing at Page 158 Books – 6-8 p.m., Wake Forest, NC – I had a chance to meet store owners Dave & Sue not long ago and when I mentioned I’d be in their neck of the woods in December, they kindly invited me to come by. Now I’m doing the same and inviting YOU to come by! (There’ll be snacks.)
Saturday, December 5 – Book Club at Reynolda Branch Library – 10-11:30 a.m., Winston-Salem, NC – Ahhh. Readers who get together and talk about books. THESE are my tribe. I’ll be discussing genre and promotion, leaving plenty of time for discussion because the only thing I like better than talking is talking WITH new friends!