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), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Literary Treats & a Trick

The Bedford Library system is offering a couple of literary treats soon.

On November 8 at 10 AM at the SML/Moneta Branch Library, Keith Ferrell will address the Friends of the Library and the general public on "The Death of Reading." Keith, former editor of Omni Magazine, is a freelance writer who lives a couple of miles from me as the crow flies. We've served together on the Franklin County Library Bookfest committee. He's a wonderful speaker. (If that isn't enough, there'll be free refreshments!)

On November 11, from 3 PM until 7:30 PM, is the 2007 Bedford Book Festival. Here's the info that Nan Carmack, the library's marketing and events director, emailed me today:

The 5th annual Bedford Book Festival will once again connect readers with writers on Sunday, November 11th, at the Bedford Central Library. Beginning at 3 pm, the Festival will present two novelists and a poet, who will read from their works and discuss their writing journey. Books for signing will be on sale at the event.

At 3 pm, Bunny Goodjohn, formerly of the U.K., now residing in Forest will present Sticklebacks and Snowglobes, hot off the press from Permanent Press, just released this month. This extraordinary first novel is set in a lower middle class neighborhood in London, and revolves around Tot, an unforgettable eight-year-old epileptic girl who tries to understand the world of older children and adults. Early reviews rave about this first novel from a widely published poet and short story writer:

“Bunny Goodjohn's Stacy might want to come back as a man next time, but I want to come back as Bunny Goodjohn. Fresh and spot-on in her tale of a young girl unenthusiastically contemplating the challenges becoming a woman will pose, Bunny made me laugh and sigh, and crave her next dazzling story.”
—Suzanne Strempek Shea, author of Becoming Finola

Goodjohn will be followed at 4 pm by poet Sarah Kennedy. Kennedy holds an MFA from Vermont College and a PhD from Purdue University. She is the author of four books of poems, including Consider the Lilies (David Robert Books 2004), Double Exposure (Cleveland State University Press Open Competition Winner 2003), and Flow Blue (Elixir Press Prize in Poetry Winner 2002). Sarah Kennedy has received grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the book review editor for Shenandoah and teaches at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. She will present her latest work from Consider the Lilies, collection of gritty lyrics and mournful narratives, the poems not shying away from painting portraits tough in their attention to detail, yet delicate in the way they capture emotional nuance. Her current work takes her literally and figuratively into history: Dr. Kennedy's current project, historical poems about witches, mystics and saints, has already taken her abroad to research medieval towns and landmarks.

Finally, the Festival will culminate with southern novelist, Pam Duncan who will speak at 6 pm. Pam Duncan’s first novel, Moon Women (Delacorte, 2001) begins the tale of the Moon women, set in Madison County, North Carolina. Three generations of women struggle with one another, with men, with aging, and with life, but ultimately find the gift of the strength in themselves and one another in this strong novel that is revealing and hilarious all in the same moment. Duncan’s third novel, The Big Beautiful (Dial Press, 2007), picks up the tale of middle-aged Moon sister, Cassandra, as she hijacks the limo and flees, gown-clad, her own wedding. Continuing in her personal tradition of wit and deep thought, Duncan presents characters who refuse to settle and do so with great strength, humor, and quirkiness.

Duncan’s second novel, Plant Life (Delacorte, 2003), accompanies distraught Laurel Granger through her divorce and back to her mother and her gossipy friends whose lives center around the town’s major employer—the plant. Dreading a return to this narrow community, Laurel is stunned to find the heartbreak, secret strength, and depth of the women she had previously dismissed. Powerfully and humorously told, Duncan paints the possibility of new life in old soil.

Duncan’s writing career has been well rewarded, earning the 2003 Sir Walter Raleigh Award and the 2007 James Still Award for Appalachian Writing and rave reviews from literary journals and her peers. Lee Smith writes about Moon Women:

“Reading Pamela Duncan's Moon Women is like falling into a feather bed--you'll want to snuggle in, settle down, and stay right there until you have turned the last wonderful page. I know all these women, and you probably do, too; and Pamela Duncan makes us care passionately about what happens to them all as this eventful novel unfolds. Big, lush, full of passion and compassion, Moon Women is that true rarity--a serious work of literature which is also a great read!”

and about The Big Beautiful:
““Jane Austen meets Mayberry: for once, a real romance, with a heroine worthy of it! Smart, sweet, and funny. This is one big, beautiful, life-affirming novel.”

Duncan was born in Asheville and grew up in Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and Shelby, North Carolina. She holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

The Bedford Library Foundation is pleased to bring this literary opportunity to the community and invites everyone to meet the faces behind the pages. For more contact Nan Carmack at 540.586.8911 x2110 or visit the web for quotes, excerpts, links and blogs at

I'm a bookfest junkie who's participated in a couple of Bedford Bookfests and attended several others. They've all been well worth attending. See y'all there!

OK, now for a trick that isn't writing-related (well, it appears in an online version of Australia's Herald Sun, so I guess it is writing-related after all). Click here to take the Right Brain vs. Left Brain test.

C'mon. You know you're dying to find out which half of your brain is dominant.


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Blogger Amy said...

Sounds like good stuff Becky - Thanks for letting all of us know about what is coming up!

10:49 AM  

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