Peevish Pen

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

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Author Event: August 11, 2007

Wow!

Both authors who spoke Saturday morning at the Franklin County Public Library were awesome. I’m glad I was there.

Bob Slaughter, the driving force behind the establishment of the national D-Day Memorial in Bedford and author of Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter, spoke about his experience during the invasion on Omaha Beach. His recollection was incredible; the audience was spellbound.


Second speaker was Alyson Hagy, a Franklin County native, whose family must have occupied most of three rows in the meeting room. Now an English professor at the University of Wyoming, she’s written two novels and some short story collections—among them, Graveyard of the Atlantic and Madonna on her Back.

I’d bought a copy of Keeneland last year and haven’t read it yet. Now I need to move that—and her new book, Snow, Ashes—to the top of my towering stack of must-reads.


From Snow, Ashes, she read a gritty and graphic description of docking and castrating lambs. She also read a selection about two of her characters at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

While Hagy grew up on a Franklin County farm, her family didn’t raise sheep. She’s never been to Korea and hasn’t fought in a war. So how did she get the details right? Research. “You learn things when you’re working on a project.” Among other things, she talked to shepherds and read memoirs of Korean War veterans.

“You don’t have to write about the life you’ve lived,” she said. “Writing is discovery.”

She told us how long it takes to write a book—a couple of years for research and writing, another year to edit. She writes way more than the book requires and cuts considerably during her editing.

“You can’t make it perfect the first time through,” She said. Noting that a book goes through many rewrites, she encouraged the writers in the group to “maintain the courage to finish.”

It was fitting that she spoke at the library, for the old Franklin County Library was important to her when she was a child. Every Saturday her family came to the library, and she always checked out the maximum number of books allowed–seven. She also devised ways to check out novels that were forbidden to young readers.

She remembered when the current library used to be Leggett’s department store. “I bought my first bra right over there,” she said, pointing in the direction of the elevator.

The Franklin County Library Author Event was wonderful. If you weren't there, well—you missed it.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Amy Hanek said...

I do wish I could have been there. I am going to have to start attending these events. Thanks for making me feel as if I had been there!

7:09 PM  

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