Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Trees on Cars

When I wrote my first children's book, I designed it around the theme of trees on cars, as in a Christmas tree on its way to a new home to delight the family. Since then my son's family has supplied me with a wonderful collection of trees on cars. This year's was no disappointment, a string art version:
And it came in its own special bag:
This string art plaque joined the gifts I've received in the past that I use as decorations each year, salt and pepper shakers, candle, and miniature trucks:
And a tray:
And a blanket I've used when I spoke with classes, note the hand towel on the table, and the paper bag on the floor:
And last, but not least, my favorite, a hanging ornament I showcase when I have a display of my books:
That's a page from my book, When Christmas Feels Like Home, illustrated by Carolina Farias. The creators of those gifts all could have used this one page as a guide. Here's a better look at the page.
My word to writers, be careful what you write. Your family might take the theme and run with it for presents, like mine did. What a wonderful concept!

Merry Christmas to all,


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Military Service

As often as I could this week, I tuned in and watched bits of the tributes to former President George H. W. Bush. I was reminded yet again the impact of this greatest generation, and of the diminishing number of those who can claim the title.

As if that weren't enough, this week I also saw coverage of the recognition of  Pearl Harbor Day where a contingent of only twenty survivors were able to attend. I wonder what went through their minds sitting there, knowing what they know firsthand about the horrors of war, knowing they went on to lead full lives while others remained with their sunken battleship in a watery grave.

Since this time last year I've worked on a couple projects involving women who were children on that day that lives in infamy. One wrote in a letter that she remembers that December Sunday when the congregation at church sat hushed in pews. As a nine year old, she had no concept of what the silence meant, only that people cried and that in the following months the fathers and brothers of her friends left home to join the service. Operative word: service. She did her part a year later by being a king in the Christmas pageant. There were no men available. Her mother accomplished her own version of service by writing weekly to those men while they were abroad. Her father served the community left behind by ministering to them from the pulpit and in a few cases, from the gravesides of fallen soldiers. All that comes from chapter two in my biography, Dr. Jane Carswell: Family Physician, Humanitarian, Friend where I quote from her own recollections about growing up in war time.

My current project also involves a lady who was a child during that era, this one thirteen years old at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. Unlike Jane, however, she was so isolated from the rest of the world, she knew nothing. Her whole life from birth until she graduated from high school spread less than a mile on one street filled with a corner grocery, church, school, barber shop, local grill and a drug store with a dinette corner to hang out. What more could a girl of the thirties and forties need! She doesn't remember the Great Depression, although her childhood years coincided with it. Her family sheltered her from hardships with love and food on the table. She doesn't remember gas rationing because they had no car. She doesn't remember food rationing because they had their own beyond what was at the store on the corner. Her own father died in 1939. That she remembered. Every minute detail. Which is probably why she paid no attention to a war waging on the other side of the globe. Her personal war was closer.

When I found the graduating classes for the years from her high school, I pointed out to her the odd list for 1943. Only one boy among more than a dozen girls. We only speculated, but maybe, just maybe, this war reached down into the available young men and pulled them away.

To serve.

We can't say it enough. "Thank you for your service."

Catch of the day,


Sunday, November 11, 2018


I'm not at all into numerology, but I have noticed a few coincidences lately involving numbers. The concept of numerology has to do with the study of numbers in a person's life. Numbers make up a universal language, after all, so no one is exempt here. I've never connected with this science and I don't plan to have a "reading" or anything, but I am open to the "what if" of numbers as an interesting thought. After all, one of the books of the Bible is "Numbers." Is that significant...or not?

When I was debating whether to use numerals or letters in writing on the back flap of my newest picture book, Back on Earth: When Men First Landed on the Moon, I looked through literature to see how the space mission was labeled, Apollo 11 or Apollo Eleven or even Apollo XI. It was split about half and half between the first two, with a few in Roman numerals, but my decision was based on ease of reading:
Later when I uploaded the book to my author page, this came up:


That seemed a little strange to me, but isn't that a delightful coincidence! Here I had been spending months keying in on the number eleven, and rather than it just being significant because of the Apollo mission number, it also is the number of books I have published. Eleven is the eleventh. Weird.

Even more strange, 11 is a master number in numerology, signifying "the potential to push the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception," according to a website I found. [Cue lead-in music to Twilight Zone]

Plus, my granddaughter turned eleven this past September eleventh. Power to the elevens in my world!

Before this, all I really knew about eleven was that it was a prime number hard to rhyme. And it was the pipers piping in the Twelve Days of Christmas. And it was the last ditch effort of the Eleventh Hour. I've added to my universe today!

Today is also November 11, 2018 or in other "words," 11-11-18. But look at that last date. It could also represent November 11, 1918, a significant date in the history of the world, the day the war to end all wars ended with the signing of an armistice, hence Armistice Day, or as it is now known, Veteran's Day. I once interviewed a lady who remembered that day. She was four years old and she was with her father in the fields when church bells rang out from many directions. He loaded her on his shoulders and told her to always remember that moment because war was finally over and peace was ahead. She never forgot. Unfortunately, the rest of the world forgot about peace in the face of tyranny, and once again world war spread across the globe...in time for her generation to fight.
The sun hitting at that just awesome moment
at yesterday's Veteran's Breakfast in my community.
The significance of eleven comes alive once a year on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is a hopeful omen for peace. On this day, a hundred years after the original date, I salute all you who serve(d) in the United States military. I am free to write this blog because you stood up for our country. Thank you for your service.

Catch of the day,


Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Milestone

Milestone this week: 100,000 (plus) hits I've had on this blog since I first began. I realized the number was coming and checked frequently these last few days.

Last Wednesday night's stat page:
Thursday morning's stat page:
(Remember the monthly report starts over daily going back I assume thirty days, well, you know how that word "assume" works, so therein lies the discrepancy in that particular statistic that resets each day.)

My goal for this blog has been to catch stories and facts about daily life in western North Carolina, past and present. I want the rest of the world to notice those seemingly insignificant bits and pieces of rural life, that turn out to be greatly significant to the make up of this grand experiment called the United States of America.

What the hundred thousand really means is that someone out there in the stratosphere is connecting with me. And it's YOU, so thank you very much for hanging in there with me through all these posts. I've enjoyed sharing with you, and plan to keep on keeping on. So, until next time,

Catch of the day,


Monday, October 29, 2018

From the Moon to Back on Earth

Finding a post about my Apollo Eleven picture book woke me up for sure on today's sleepy Monday morning. A big thank you to Carol Baldwin for reviewing it on her blog. Please click over to it and see what she said. Make a comment there to put your name in the drawing for a free autographed copy from me.

Carol Baldwin's Blog: Back on Earth: A Review and Giveaway

Special recognition from me to my illustrator, Bobbie Gumbert: Carol specifically requested this picture of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon along with the others I sent for her to include.

Bobbie researched newspaper and magazine articles and old television news reports to make her illustrations accurate. She used her imagination and remembrances to add flavor to those about us back on earth.

My intention is for this book to begin the dialogue between generations about this remarkable event in American history when we all were united in astonishment and pride. I was glued to the television set at my in-law's home, watching just in case some creature crawled out from under one of those rocks. Didn't happen, but I wasn't disappointed. I knew then I was watching history being made.

So what were you doing on July 20, 1969? Okay, so maybe the question should be, What were your parents doing on July 20, 1969? Have you had that discussion? No? Maybe it's time for it.

Catch of the day,


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October First

Fog shrouded the eastern United States on the first day of October in 1944, an evil, threatening fog that caused the downing of eight military flights. In only one of the crashes were there survivors, the one that slammed into a pig farm in western Virginia. While the pigs remained untouched, unscathed and unharmed by an element of chance, all the crew survived by following a command of the captain and bailing out moments earlier. They each had their own story of rescue, of showing up on the porch of isolated mountain farm houses, or of finding each other in the predawn gray surrounding them. These stories were captured in a book by my friend and critique partner, Sandra Warren. On the seventy-fourth October first following the crash (yesterday), there was a celebration of sorts. Read the labels on these water bottles:

The first half of We Bought a WWII Bomber narrates the story of the bomber before it met its doom in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a unique moment in the history of our country at war and the war effort made on the home front. South High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan raised the money to purchase this B-17.
They had no idea what happened to their bomber until recently when Sandra made the connection between the crash and the bomber. Her interviewing and detecting on both halves of the story collided yesterday at a dedication of a commemorative historical marker on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Former students from the Michigan high school (unfortunately none who helped with raising the funds were able to come) drove to Virginia to shake hands with those who played some part in this remarkable story.

These Virginians told about hearing the crash that morning in 1944, about rushing away from milking the cows to be the first on the scene. Others told about their fathers helping the crew or about their mothers offering a cup of precious rationed coffee to the few who appeared at their doors.

Sandra in center, surrounded by the Virginia half of the story as they presented the marker.
The marker unveiled
This October 1, 2018 was quite different than seventy-four years ago. The sun shone almost too brightly, making those of us present relieved when a pesky little cloud blotted out the sun and did its best to cool us as we stood just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The site is not all that far from Mabry Mill that served the community there in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Supposedly this mill is the most photographed spot on the parkway. I couldn't resist:
A selfie on a beautiful day at Mabry Mill.
In the crowd were park officials and rangers representing the role the federal government will take in maintaining the marker.
There were also TV crews from Michigan and Virginia.
There were blue and red (school colors) beaded necklaces to identify the South High alumni present, and silver ones for those from Virginia.
That's me helping Sandra by passing out the beads.
A reception followed in the Meadows of Dan Community Center. The crowd was so large, the historical society who hosted it ran out of paper plates and I made a quick trip to the village grocery. What a wonderful problem to have!!! 

All in all, October first turned out to be a tremendous celebration of the past and what two communities could do when called upon to help the nation during the dark days of war. Markers such as this one will let us never forget the sacrifices made. Thank you to everyone involved!

Catch of the day,


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Outlander and Me

There's nothing quite like an author being surrounded by mobs of passionate readers, even if those said readers are present because of a series of books not associated with said author (me). Yesterday I attended (and worked) one portion of an Outlander weekend, a Scottish festival at Whippoorwill Village in Ferguson, North Carolina.
At the opening ceremony, various clans lit a torch on the torch tower honoring their branch of the greater Scottish family. These people gathered together not only to visit with each other, but to appreciate their heritage brought out in the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon. They had read every single page of eight books, soaked up every word, breathed them, mulled over them and wanted to discuss them with others just as passionate. Perhaps they held a slight jealousy of the heroine's ability to walk before a standing stone in 1946 Scotland and be sucked back into the Scotland of their eighteenth century ancestors. By book four, this heroine appeared in the Carolina's colony in time to fight the revolution against the crown. What a concept!

Disclaimer, here. I have read only the first in the series, but after yesterday I'm determined to start book two. Another disclaimer. I'm not Scottish. German actually. An Irish friend once gave me a pin to wear on St. Patrick's Day that proclaims, "Everyone's Irish Once a Year!" Yesterday was my "Everyone's Scottish" experience. I know which clan I wanted to join:
The one with cousins from various states wearing shirts identifying them as "Trouble." Wouldn't that be a fun clan to be a member of?
But then again, wouldn't it be joy to be a member of any Scottish family and watch with pride as they remembered the people before them who made them what they are today.
There's just something about a man in a skirt...excuse me, kilt, even when he has a bagpipe over his shoulder:
Yes, that's me with the piper. Even his version of "The Campbells Are Coming" brought tears to my eyes. I'm decked out in period clothes because I was a volunteer there at the village. I ran the village store for the first three hours, the store by the way, that is in chapter one of my Wheels and Moonshine book. The last couple of hours I was a docent in the schoolhouse where I shared life in the not-so good old days of one room schoolhouses.

In between my duties I was able to partake of an authentic (and super delicious) Scottish, cooked over the open fire, meal prepared by Dawn Mathews. Chicken stew, bannocks (an oat cake bread common in Scottish homes), and the best apple crisp I've tasted in ages. Oh, and the goat cheese...yum!
That's my husband, Van, enjoying his portion under my booth's tent. He sold my books as I flitted about enjoying my Scottish moment under the Carolina sun.

I do have a book with a Scottish connection. Chapter three in Dr. Jane Carswell takes the reader to Flora Macdonald College and to the required physical education class on the Highland Fling.
This photograph was on the back of a 1946 booklet detailing the college and its Scottish roots. No, Dr. Carswell isn't in the photograph, but she had a kilt sewn by her mother to regulations for freshmen entering their first year. Color and patterns were individual to classes and unique to them through the entire four years (in an all-girl school, by the way). Once when Dr. Carswell was in her seventies, she amazed on-lookers when she broke into a full flung Highland Fling!

Now to read the rest of the Outlander story. I can't wait.

Catch of the day,


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Down in the Valley

Happy Valley sounds like a blissful spot, doesn't it? Toss in people from all across the world and some fiddles and clogs, and you have the most happy spot on earth, at least for a few days of hard earned Labor Day relaxation.

Saturday was competition day. Singing. Picking. Clogging. Strumming. Solo. Groups. All day. With finalists facing off in the evening.

Also with ample activities to entertain the children ranging from barn fun, milking a cow, to playing in the river that flows down in the valley...and even a parade.
This valley reeks with history. Tom Dooley. Daniel Boone. Captain William Lenoir. Three of my books take place down in the valley: Wheels and Moonshine, you can imagine for yourself the goin's on in this book that was such a delight to write; Racing On and Off the Road  in Caldwell County, the valley through which many a drag race thundered in the early morning hours decades ago; and Fly Fishermen of Caldwell County, the life stories of men on the streams that feed into the river these children played in this weekend. Okay, so four books. Dr. Jane Carswell lived there in the valley, too.

Sunday's lineup was chocked full of bluegrass artists singing their hearts out and drawing an appreciative crowd. Even the late afternoon rain shower didn't dampen the enthusiasm. The festival ended on Sunday, but Monday, a local gem of a tiny restaurant held its follow up response by hosting Liver Mush Monday. Proven fact: Breakfast tastes better with live bluegrass music in the background.
Again there was singing.
A bit of clogging.
Picking and grinning.
Lots of grinning.
Plain old valley fun!
I hope your Labor Day was relaxing enough to sustain you through the weeks ahead.
Mine was.

Catch of the day,


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Launched and Soaring


Launched...with the help of toy rockets and parachutes, Moonpies and Tang.


I felt like the Cheshire Cat wanting to fade away into only a plastered-on smile. I had made a significant error in a date and there it was, first line, first page. Bang! Printed, chiseled in stone. Fifty copies and an advertised launch date I couldn't get out of.

In the greater scheme of things, this shouldn't be all that big of a concern. In the smaller scheme, however, that day, it certainly was. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach the minute a friend called me to point out the error. Everyone needs a friend who has her back and I am eternally grateful for the tremendous favor she did in that simple call.

Immediately I revised the manuscript and triple checked all the other dates as well as names, something I had done over and over and over, or so I thought. Proven fact, typos (and negligence) exist, and my error is the the evidence.

While the error was easily repairable, my reputation as a nonfiction author would be called into question. I made the decision to go on with the launch. I found sticky notes of the Cheshire Cat and attached them to the page above the incorrect date, along with the word oops, to let the reader know of the mistake. Truth matters.

Then I lowered the cost to below my cost, and forged on, giving the customers a chance to wait a week for the corrected version if they preferred. No one did.

But I have copies left over that I can't sell. Won't sell. What to do with a stack of books???


Maybe I'll make school visits and let the children read the books, explaining up front about my error as part of the lesson. And then do my thing as a former fourth grade teacher who swears by the whole language approach to reading instruction.

Meanwhile, yesterday the new shipment arrived and the first thing I did after I ripped open the top was check the date in the first line on the first page. It's correct.
And there it is! Available on amazon, or from me, and eventually at special stores here in Lenoir. Back on Earth: When Men First Landed on the Moon. Illustrated by Bobbie Gumbert, written (and revised) by me. < smiling like the Cheshire Cat >

Catch of the day,


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cover Reveal

Full disclosure, I'm not an artist. Or a cover designer. I only know what I want and simply work toward that goal.

That being said, let me introduce you to my newest book cover, which I put together myself (ta-da) using a page from the book's illustrations by Bobbie Gumbert.

Only what she drew had the moon in an inconvenient spot in order to insert the title.

So I manipulated and deleted and layered this other moon from a photograph I had on hand.

Working with the subtitle and our names was the tricky part, until I finally figured out layering a background strip for the words would be the best solution. 

So there it is.

And here, at my house behind me as I type, are the copies waiting in a big box for Tuesday's book launch. Your invitation:
August 14
Drop in from four until six in the afternoon
My Happy Place Art Gallery
on the square in downtown Lenoir, North Carolina

Join the fun. There will be mini-Moon Pies. There will be Tang. (If you are old enough, you know the significance of Tang being the drink of choice.) I've planned activities, and I've checked the weather...which so far is cooperating. No mission scrub planned. (If you are old enough, you know the meaning of that comment.)

And best news, for a special, launch day only surprise, you can purchase it at the bargain basement sale price of five dollars! When I autograph your copy, I'll let you in on the secret reason why it's at a cut-rate price. It's also on Amazon,  Back on Earth When Men First Landed on the Moon, and more details are now updated on my website, gretchengriffith.com

I consider myself a storycatcher, so you can imagine I can't wait until Tuesday to catch a few stories about your experiences nearly fifty years ago, back on earth when those men first landed on the moon. Bring the kids. They need to hear the stories, too. Hope to see you then!

Catch of the day,


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Liftoff! We have Liftoff!

I'm deep in the planning stages of the launch for my new picture book that was released August first. Launch is the perfect word for sending this particular book off into the world. It is an optimistic word, full of hope and energy. I use it a couple times in Back on Earth: When Men First Landed on the Moon, when the launch happens, and again in the glossary at the end, that I don't call a glossary. It's the "Learn the Words We Learned" page. Also included at the back of the book, "Watch What We Watched" for sources on YouTube the child can view, and "Talk to Us about Apollo Eleven," with suggestions for interviewing and ways to start the conversation.
A sample of the artwork by illustrator Bobbie Gumbert
I designed it to be a conversation starter between the generations. This time I tried something new. I wrote the book in first person, plural...we...us...our...to draw the reader into our lives way back when. It's about our experiences here on planet Earth as we marveled and fretted and waited (and waited and waited) for the astronauts to walk on the moon, almost fifty years ago.

I'm in the process of picking and choosing moon related activities to get the children interested at the launch. On the menu, Moon Pies, the miniature kind, chocolate or banana flavored. I've ordered parachute men for the children to land on a target. And launchers that send nerf rockets a few feet into the air (and down into a basket). I'll have paper and pencil and old fashioned tape recorders to catch stories from those who remember the day oh so many years ago when America accomplished the impossible.

So if you are available on Tuesday afternoon, August 14, drop in any time between four and six at an art gallery on the square in Lenoir called My Happy Place. I'm hoping for clear skies so we can go outside to do the happy thing called space games and launch this book off right!!

Catch of the day,


Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Making of a Back Cover

There's been a full moon this week, a beautiful full moon. I'm more conscious of it probably because my picture book about the Apollo Eleven mission to the moon is about to launch. I took a picture of it just to remind myself how beautiful life is.

I did the same thing last November during the "super" moon phase, and here it is.
Simple, isn't it? Moon. Sky. Trees. 
I realized this photograph was just what I needed for the back cover of the moon book. It was positioned exactly in the right spot with ample room for backflap text. But when I inserted it into the template and placed it beside the front cover, it seemed a little off. The front is an illustration, not a photograph and they didn't match.

After a few trials on other options, I returned to this photograph and tampered with it. Toyed around. Played. And I ended up with this.
See the difference?
Next I inserted the words and TA-DA, back cover!

But when I look at the almost full moon tonight, I'll not be thinking book cover. I'll be looking at it and appreciating it for the beauty it is.

Catch of the day,


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Inside Spring Creek School

There's a wall.

It's inside a school that once was. Spring Creek School. Madison County. Far western mountains of North Carolina.

In the days that used to be, this wall framed the center of student flow in and out of classrooms, and echoed all the noises that typically turn an institution into a beloved fixture. I write about the school in the book I co-authored with a man who once walked between the walls as a student in the thirties and forties.
After the school closed towards the end of the last century, it sat dormant, a sleeping beauty waiting for the right prince to come along and resurrect it. Prince Charming turned out to be a committee of concerned citizens who witnessed the decay of this building first hand and worked hard to reclaim it for their community. Let me repeat. Worked hard.

Now the building is alive again, and the inside wall is framed with frames. It echoes happy voices of visitors exclaiming over photographs they had never seen or sharing memories of things they had seen. 
The wall is coated with pictures of individuals and old churches and one room schoolhouses, along with a photographic chronology of Spring Creek School itself. To top it all off, there are histories of many families who lived in the local area. The one featured at the beginning of this photograph is the family of Dr. Bernie Reese, the medical part of the book's subtitle. The second frame on the bottom row contains a newspaper article about the book and its recognition from the North Carolina Society of Historians.
The Madison County native that article refers to is that same little boy I mentioned earlier, grown into an eighty plus year old man, (J.B. as most people in Spring Creek remember him) Jasper Reese. I was fortunate to help him capture the story of this section of the world in the book we wrote, Back in the Time. The subtitle (and the wall of the school) tells it all, Medicine, Education and Life in the Isolation of Western North Carolina's Spring Creek. Here he is standing in front of the portraits of his parents and the write-ups of the Reese family's contributions to the community.
As I've walked through odds and ends of old buildings I've often thought, "If these walls could talk, what story would they tell me?" In this place, the walls do silently talk, and they tell a beautiful history of a unique people.

If you ever find yourself on North Carolina Scenic Highway 209 that runs from Lake Junaluska to Hot Springs, stop in at the school. There's a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. There's a tiny library manned by volunteers. There's a gymnasium for exercise or for receptions or reunions. There are small rooms for smaller meetings.

And there's a wall. It's a you've-just-got-to-see-this kind of wall. 

Catch of the day,


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,


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,


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,


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yesterday at the Museum


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,


Wednesday, May 30, 2018


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,