Saturday, May 27, 2017

Racing On and Off the Road in Caldwell County and Surrounding Areas

With much pleasure and anticipation, I'm here today to reveal to you the latest book I've helped become a reality. This one I was co-author to Johnny Mack Turner, the same man with whom I wrote Wheels and Moonshine. That book was about his Uncle Claude. This book is about him. Well, him and hundreds of others in our end of the state.

The cover was designed by Books That Matter, and they did an excellent, eye-catching job! The pictures featured on the cover have been toned down a bit in a later revision, but you get the idea. There Johnny is, front and center, with a racer by the name of Curtis Turner. The other four on the front are men from our county who went on to great accomplishments on the track, Don Carlton, Larry Smith, Sam Snyder and Max Prestwood. Same story about the five on the back, all from Caldwell County, Mac Martin, Johnny Price, Dick Greene, Hubert Ennis, and Raymond Wilson.

Note the words in the title, "On and Off the Road." They are important to the story because much of the early racing here in our county was on-the-road street racing, back-country road racing to be more exact. Johnny is a master story teller with plenty of action in his past to build a book around. Here's the introduction from the book's Amazon page

From its shady beginnings in the moonshine industry to the shiny glimmer under track lights, motor racing has been an unavoidable element of reality for several generations in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Local lore is overflowing with the adventures of racing both on the road and off, where if a person wasn’t involved in racing, then his neighbor was. He might have been the one spending hours in the garage perfecting his car for the next trophy chase, or he might have been the one who heard the deep rumble of the engines in the distance and hurried to the roadside to watch two drivers prove their worth. This passion to control the power of the engine unfolds in a most remarkable story captured by Johnny Mack Turner with the help of Gretchen Griffith. He opens his scrapbook to the world, revealing a personal account of motor racing in western North Carolina. From his roots in the history of the region through tales of on and off road drag races, circle tracks and motocross events, Johnny gives the reader a glimpse into a vibrant culture seldom revealed.

Special thanks to Bill Tate who restored several of the original pictures. The differences are striking.
The book is chocked full of photographs from Johnny's personal collection and from many others throughout the area who shared with us. It is also filled with life stories of the men from Caldwell County who answered the roar of the engines in their own unique ways.

I can't wait for you to read it.

Catch of the day,


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gracie's Grumpy Grandma

People often ask how long it takes me to write a book. That answer varies according to the book. The shortest was six months. The longest...well, let me tell you that story.

When my granddaughter was born nearly twelve years ago, my friends wanted to know what my son and his wife named her. I repeated the name so often, it soon became a habit to introduce myself as Gracie Griffith's grandma Gretchen Griffith. After even more repetitions I added grouchy and then grumpy, and I grinned. This is fun, I thought. It's a tongue twister, I thought.

It's a book, I thought.

I made a list of "gr" words and started thinking about how I could meld them together into a story. Thing is, most of the words on that list were along the negative, aligning with grumpy and grouchy. I don't write negative books, but I could write negative turned into positive books. I wrote, rewrote, revised, and let it sit for a few years as Gracie grew...ooh, a phrase I didn't use!

This picture book manuscript sat unused for years because I am not an artist. My canvas is on the computer screen, not on an easel. I paint pictures with words in a "word is worth a thousand pictures" kind of way.

Then the right artist came along, a student named Frankie Song. He brought my characters to life, Gracie, the grumpy grandma, the gray goat, the gray grasshopper, and the gray grouse. He made the green grass gray, just like I wanted.

He made the gray grass green, just like the story said.

And then he returned to China and left behind a set of individual pictures that needed to be put into picture book format. That's when artist number two came along, Tina Bryant. She took the pictures and wove them into the story, added her own background pictures, and TA-DA!!!

Gracie's Grumpy Grandma

Nearly twelve years later and it's a done deal, in my hands. It's on Amazon, I usually don't put the link straight on the page, but take a look at how it's written, I couldn't resist. That's the whole idea of the book!!! Amazon gets it, even if they don't know it.

The back cover fades out a bit to make way for the bar code, but you get the picture. Granny with her girls, Gracie and Reagan. And I'm not so grumpy after all.

Catch of the day,


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Back in the Time

Back in the time, a couple of weeks ago to be specific, I launched my newest book,
  Back in the Time

A launch is a celebration of the birth of a book. This one, we did right. There was food. There were friends. The venue couldn't have been more welcoming...Caldwell County Senior Center. 

The book was hidden undercover until the big reveal
Co-author, Jasper Reese entertained us with his comments and stories about growing up in Spring Creek, the theme of the book. That's him on the cover, twelve years old after building his cart using gears from a textile plant's machine. This is him now, standing with me at the launch.

Needless to say, we had a great time kicking off this book. The star of the show, despite all the hoopla, was definitely the book. It's the story of Jasper's life, but more than that, it's the story of a community in the far back isolation of the mountains in western North Carolina. The subtitle tells it all: 
Medicine, Education and Life 
in the Isolation of Western North Carolina’s Spring Creek

Just in case you need more, as if, here's what we said on the back flap:

Spring Creek, North Carolina was more than a location. It was a real and natural, down-to-earth way of life that should never be forgotten. Jasper B. Reese, the son of a country doctor, reveals true stories of extreme hardships and joyful successes from back in the time when nothing was more important to the isolated Madison County mountain family than individuality, a self-sustaining life style and pride in the ability to go it alone.

One more thing, on the back flap is the portrait of a school, not just any school, Spring Creek School, the hub of the community. It was built in 1929 using rocks from local fields on the exterior. After decades serving the community children, it now has been converted into a community building.

I've given you a glimpse of the front and the back of this precious book. For the interior, see me today at the North Carolina Butterfly Festival here in Hudson, or find it on Amazon, just a click away.

Catch of the day,