Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Signings

Yesterday I attended what I'd consider an author's dream and an author's nightmare...a highly successful book signing by Robert Beatty for his newest release, Willa of the Wood.

I'd only wish for the crowds he has drawn on his book tour this week. Barnes and Noble was so packed, I couldn't even see the book stacks for the masses standing in front of them. They had food and games to entertain, if a person could wade through the crowd to get to them. Most of all, they had lines. Lines to purchase a book (I had preordered), lines for the food, and the most important line, for the book to be signed. That was accomplished with orderly chaos, colored bracelets. Mine was white, reserved for those who preordered, and rewarded with first in line status.

When Mr. Beatty spoke, his voice came over the store intercom. I suppose that was him, but I couldn't tell. I was behind the paperbacks, standing in line with my granddaughters. He answered questions from those who were fortunate enough to be close enough for him to point at. Then he started signing books. Each person filled out a form as to how the book would be signed and handed it to the person beside him who in turn handed it to him, opened to the correct page. What a dream way to conduct a book signing!

Finally it was our turn.
That's my Reagan, isn't she grand standing next to the author!

We walked out of the store happy, thrilled to be a part of getting excited about reading. That was all the dream part, the dream that far out paces the nightmare I bet this man experienced when it was all said and done...written and done. He was bound to have a sore wrist. How could he not? I feel for him. A week of repetitive action on that wrist, gripping that pen. Wow.

Thing is, he gladly did it. Graciously. He spoke to the individual. He cared about their reading habits. He gave my grands a reading experience. Thank you, Robert Beatty.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

Monday, July 2, 2018

Leisure Reading

Hidden deep in last Saturday's newspaper among reports of unrest and uproars and demonstrations was what I consider the saddest, most tragic headline:
What??? It's beach season, for heaven's sake, book and water bottle season, with a little wine on the side for good measure. While children splashing through the waves provide background noises and teens offer up the coconut laced suntan lotion smells, I sit beneath the umbrella, basking in the shade and reading a book. That's leisure.

I get to visit other lands while my toes sink into the grains of sand beneath my beach chair. I invade other people's thinking. I expose myself to new points of view. I learn a thing or two about the how the world works for someone else and how people react, and consequently how I would react. I absorb countless facts and remember enough to make better sense of situations I encounter. That's what leisure reading is all about, well, that and a good plot, and exciting characters.

Please, world, I beg you. Don't stop reading. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow, because you'll find someone's tomorrow in the pages of any book you pick up. Or maybe your own tomorrow.

This Fourth of July holiday, pick up a book and exercise the freedom of the press. After all, the freedom to write doesn't mean anything unless there is a reader waiting on the other side.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

Monday, June 25, 2018

Dr. Carswell, the Video

As I was working on the Dr. Jane Carswell project, Dr. Beth Davison, director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University, was working on a project of her own, a video that tells the life of this extraordinary physician. She prepared a tribute to Dr. Carswell that we debuted at the museum last week. Today she sent a link to me to share with the world, which I am more than thrilled to do. Oh. My. Take a look at this:
We worked a bit together, Beth and I did. She made use of several photographs I had sent her and I made use of her interviews with friends that knew Jane well. She read through my manuscript's chapters and harvested information from them to include in snippets throughout the video. I quoted from the interviews she had painstakingly taped.

Thing is, we ended up with two different products. They overlap, but stand alone.

I never imagined myself writing a biography, yet here it is. I sure picked a whopper of a subject to start with, didn't I?

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yesterday at the Museum

Amazing.

That's yesterday pared down to one word. Just amazing.
Last spring when we set June 20 as the date for featuring my newest book, Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend, I began the planning process, what to say, what not to say as I narrowed this extraordinary biography into a thirty minute presentation. Then I became caught up in last minute necessities of getting a book on the market and the excitement of the launch and a couple of week-long, much needed vacations. Yesterday came suddenly and now that it's over I can sigh and reflect and fill you in on the details.

Each month the Caldwell Heritage Museum here in Lenoir, North Carolina, features a "Coffee with the Curator" morning break introducing some aspect of history in our county. Curator Cindy Day meets, greets, and eats doughnuts with the visitors. I've attended many events and find them all to be entertaining beyond informative. My hope was to not only inform, but to honor the remarkable doctor I had written about. I think we did that.

I say "we" because there were others present who honored Dr. Carswell. The museum itself had a display about her and two other women doctors who blazed the trail for future women doctors in our community.

Dr. Beth Davison, the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University, and family friend of Dr. Carswell's, debuted a video she had prepared for the occasion. She included interviews with Jane Carswell's husband, Kenneth Roberts, along with several others who knew her well. Beth came to the launch back in May and videotaped an interview with me and included snippets from that in this presentation.

So then it was my turn to speak, and speak I did, to the packed room. (We even had to add more chairs!)
I described Dr. Jane Carswell with verbs. Adjectives just didn't fit. True, she was remarkable, outstanding, exceptional and every other matching synonym under the sun. But those words fell short and didn't give the description I wanted to paint. Instead I used persevered, advocated, fought, pushed, diagnosed, delivered, responded, and developed, words that gave the listener (and my readers) a complete picture of this remarkable, outstanding, exceptional physician.

As I was writing the book, I interviewed many people who set the tone from the very beginning. They made comments like:

Faith based compassion...

Servant's heart...

Caldwell County is a healthier environment because Jane Carswell came to live here...

This organization would not be viable without her vision and continuing encouragement...

Cast a shadow...

She was just a force...

She knew the meaning of the word servant...

As I read the comments aloud, along with several others, I paused between each for the listener to soak in the mood, the tone of the book and my speech. I wanted most of all for them to realize the book was a call to action, just like the verbs. It shows the unselfish life of a beloved physician, and my prayer is that it inspires the reader to take up the call and, like Jane Carswell, make the world a better place to live.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Launched!

This past week we launched my latest book, Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend and had a wonderful time doing it during a meet, greet and eat social sponsored by the ladies of Fairview Presbyterian Church here in Lenoir. I had fun keeping the cover hidden under a cloth until the big reveal (that met with cheers and applause, by the way).
 I filled the crowd in on the purpose of the book (to share the life story of a beloved physician) and the format I chose to include quotes and nature photographs at the beginning of each chapter. We talked with people about their memories of Jane and how she impacted the community. Her husband Kenneth also spoke.
I met several people I had only spoken with on the phone during our interview time. I also met a character from chapter seven, Rufus the puppet. He was the feature of the Happy Hands Puppet Ministry.
Isn't he a cutie? Dr. Carswell wrote the scripts for the puppet shows and made sure Rufus was the bumbling doofus who was wise beyond what people imagined.

So now the book is out and about and doing its own thing. I'm thrilled, but also a little nervous. Did I do Jane's story justice? Did I offend anyone in the process? Did I correct all the typos? Did I leave anyone out in the acknowledgements? And the list goes on, mostly in the wee hours of the morning.

One thing I do know, this book needed to be written. Her life was too exceptional not be shared and her accomplishments too great not to be spotlighted.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend

It's finally here, the day I can say to you, THE BOOK IS OUT!!!

Before I show you the cover, I want to talk you through the wonderful portrait of Jane that we chose to feature on the front.
The minute I saw this photograph I fell in love with it. I knew it would make a great cover, I just didn't know how it could be used. Before I turned it over to my book designer, Books That Matter, I needed to get the proper permissions. First I contacted the photographer, Spencer Ainsley, and he so graciously granted his permission. Then I contacted the Lenoir News-Topic, where the photograph appeared in 1984, and they so graciously also granted permission, along with several other photographs I used in the text.

Next I turned to my go-to person, Bill Tate, who restored the ancient, faded, cracked newspaper picture, doctored it up a bit, and colorized it. Isn't it perfect??? There Jane sits, in her office, at the desk that once belonged to her minister father.

Cover designer Kim tried several different approaches that I hemmed and hawed over, and oohed and aahed over. But when she coupled the above portrait with this photograph of a rose that Jane had taken herself, I knew we had struck gold.


Isn't this a beauty of a rose! Merge the two together and TA-DA!!! May I present the cover:


Now available on Amazon and at odds and ends of places here in Lenoir.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Carswell Book, Part Three

Friend

In her left over time from being a physician and a humanitarian with numerous causes, Dr. Jane Carswell managed to develop many long lasting friendships. From what I figured out, a friendship with her meant going on a journey, whether hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or searching for a rare flower she hadn't photographed, or seeking answers to life's questions during a spiritual conversation. 
Here she is with friends identifying a rare Gray's Lily
along the Tanawha Trail in the Blue Ridge. This picture is in the book.
This picture of Jane hiking at the twin poplar trees is not in the book
since she was too hard to identify, but there she is in a local landmark.
After a brutal war between two Native American tribes, the elders twisted poplar trees together.
Generations later, the trees stand joined together as  a symbol of their peace treaty.
By the way, the three sections of the book are separated from each other with a title page sporting this rose, one of Jane's photographs. It's on the back cover, the inside title page, and all three section title pages. 

Part three of the book (Friend) is the shortest, three chapters long, or reworded, three long chapters, each packed full of life and love. 

Chapter 13, Friendship. This chapter tells about her love of roses and photography and travel and all things sport, and the friends who journeyed with her.

Chapter 14, Joy. I chose this chapter title because this is where she meets her true love and marries him...at age sixty-eight. It is a love story that will capture the reader's heart. 

Chapter 15, Retirement. What she accomplished in her retirement, as throughout her entire life, went beyond the norm, but this time, she had a partner. Their love story continued. Writing about her death sapped my energy. Reading about it will be uplifting.

So that's it, the entire book in three parts. I conclude with a nod to the many sources who helped me in this project and with a list of organizations that Jane was connected to, in case anyone feels led to step up and help out. It's what she would have wanted.

Catch of the day,

Gretchen