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,