Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm a retired teacher turned writer. Ferradiddledumday (my Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story) and Stuck (my middle grade paranormal novel) are available from Cedar Creek Publishing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bedford Bookfest 2006

Yesterday evening, I attended the Bedford Bookfest. Not a huge crowd present (35 maybe?), but a good size audience for the speakers. All three speakers—a non-fiction writer, a poet, and a fiction writer—were excellent. All read from their work and spoke about how they write and how they got started writing.

Though I’m not a reader of military history, hearing historian David Snead talk about his two books (In Hostile Skies, An American Soldier in World War I) was informative. Especially interesting was that he told how writers need to document events in someone’s memoir in case the person embellished the actual happening. Last month, I’d heard a writer at the James River conference say the same thing. I’ve noticed that Bedford writer June Goode did a wonderful job with footnotes in Our War, the diary of Nettie Burwell who lived at Avenel during the Civil War. (Avenel is about a block away from the Bedford Library.) My Lake Writer buddy, Jim Morrison also documented his Bedford Goes to War. Apparently writers who do not document events and cite sources aren’t taken seriously.

Hearing Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson read from her collection, Late Wife, was a real treat. Claudia is from Chatham, which is a half hour down Rt. 29 from me. Her poems are beautifully crafted and layered with meaning. I can see why she won. I especially liked her snake poem, "Natural History Exhibits," in which she relates letting a snake live–a blacksnake that had taken up residence in the drawer where she stored her silverware—even though most women would have killed it. (I don't kill blacksnakes either. In fact, I'm looking for couple to drop down the mouseholes in the horse shed if any of your blog-readers have any to spare.)

I’d known Howard Owen, a fellow member of the Virginia Writers club, for years, but I’d only recently read his work. I liked his debut novel Littlejohn so much that I knew I’d like the sequel, Rock of Ages—his ninth novel. I'm a big fan of Southern lit—and Howard is a master at capturing the spirit and flavor of the South in his work.

What was interesting about all three writers was that they started writing their books in their forties—late in life for some occupations. However, their primary jobs involve writing—Claudia Emerson and David Snead teach college; Howard Owen is a newspaperman.

Kudos to the Bedford Public Library—especially to Nan Carmack and Peggy Bias—for putting together such a delightful program.

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