Peevish Pen

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

© 2006-2019 All rights reserved

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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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Soar, Elinor!

A few weeks ago, at Virginia Festival of the Book, I stopped by the James River Writers table to say hello to Anne Westrick.

There I met author Tami Lewis Brown who was visiting with Anne. Tami would appear later on the "Spinning Lives Into Stories" panel sponsored by SCBWI.

Tami told me about her debut book, Soar, Elinor!‚ a biography about Elinor Smith who, in 1928 when she was sixteen, became the youngest flier ever licensed.

The book looked pretty interesting, so I bought a copy. Later I went to the panel where Tami was speaking. There I learned she was a pilot and a former lawyer. And I learned about the meticulous research she did for Soar, Elinor! 

At home, I couldn't wait to read Soar, Elinor! It's wonderful. It's the kind of book that parents and teachers will enjoy reading to young children and that older children will enjoy reading by themselves. Besides telling a good story, the book is also an important record of history. Plus it sends the message that children should follow their dreams.

True to the standard of a good children's book, every word indeed earned its keep. Tami focused her story on a significant event in Elinor's life—when the young pilot flew her Waco 10 under four bridges in New York's East River. The suspense as Elinor attempted each bridge was delicious.

The cats found the book almost as interesting as I did. Chloe checks the title page where Tami signed it.

The artwork by Francois Roca is lovely. Chloe wanted to get right into the picture.

Jim-Bob didn't want to get too close. He thought the plane looked so real that it might soar off the page.

 Chloe thought so too. But she wanted a closer look.

She had to check the propeller on the plane in this picture to make sure it wasn't turning.

Chloe and I were impressed with the author's notes and the list of sources in the back of the book. Tami tells about how she researched the book to make it authentic and gives a list of recommended books just in case the reader wants to know more.

Chloe studied the pages from a couple of angles.

Chloe read about how Tami had met Elinor Smith and her son. Chloe was impressed how Tami and her own son took a flight in a plane similar to Elinor's.

  Chloe, however, has no urge to fly. But she and I think you should read Soar, Elinor! because it's really good.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Busy Tuesday

Yesterday was a busy day because of Kroger's Senior Citizen Day and the Franklin County Library's book launch for Stuck. Here's a recap of my day:

Kroger: John and I really like the friendly folks the Rocky Mount Krogers. We usually shop on Tuesdays to get Kroger's 5% discount as well as to accumulate points toward a discount on gasoline.

This Tuesday, because I'd spent a certain minimum in the weeks before, I had a 20% discount on my whole order. We decided to stockpile stuff we knew we'd use—pet food, bottled water, etc. I clipped coupons from Sunday's paper, downloaded coupons onto my Kroger card, and sorted through the coupons Kroger had given me on an earlier visit. We were ready. Here are our carts in the checkout line:

My cart, with Kroger card and grocery list.
John's cart
Coupons, etc. 
The total for the two carts of groceries came to $313. After the discounts and coupons, I paid $213. Not a bad savings for a carload of groceries.

You can fit more in a PT Cruiser if you remove the back seats.
Book Launch: Tuesday night I headed for the Franklin County Library. I'd hoped to have my author's copies of Stuck because I owed copies to quite a few folks who'd helped me out. Unfortunately, the copies didn't arrive. Fortunately, the copies the library ordered had arrived. I'd hoped to have my cousin take pictures and the local paper cover the event, but neither could make it. Fortunately Ibby Greer took lots of pictures, including this one of me and Samantha Newcomb whose picture appears on the cover:

A lot of friends (both Facebook and real), kids, some neighbors, a relative, and some folks I'd never met before turned out for the launch. 

Some early arrivals, including my cousin Gloria (in front of the center picture)
Among attendees in this picture were Donna Jefferson, Ibby Greer, and Mary Wray.

Children's librarian, Joyce Tukloff, had arranged musical entertainment by Samantha and Alex Young, who are fantastically talented. They really got the audience toe-tapping.

Winners of the Stuck art contest were announced. Here are some of the entries:

Middle school 1st place winner is top left; Elementary 1st place is bottom  left.

After librarian David Bass introduced me, I read the first chapter of Stuck and several other passages and answered a few questions from the audience. Then I signed books.

I'll do another reading/signing at the Westlake Library on Thursday, March 31. And—sometime in the late spring or early summer—odds are good that I'll have a book-signing for Stuck at the Rocky Mount Kroger. Frank the manager told me I'm welcome to do so. 

I'm thinking maybe on a Senior Citizen's Day. . . . 



Monday, March 28, 2011

Stuck at the Library

Tomorrow is the official book launch for Stuck at the Franklin County Library. The library will have copies for sale. Two talented local kids will provide musical entertainment. We'll announce the winners of the Stuck art contest and award prizes. Then I'll read from Stuck, sign copies, answer questions about the book. We'll wind up with refreshments provided by Friends of the Library, who have some mighty good cookie bakers in their ranks.

I stopped by Franklin County Library this morning and saw signs that they're getting ready. The first sign was on the front door (you can see me and the Franklin Center reflected in the door):

Just inside the front door were two more signs:

I hope I'll see you there. However, if you can't make it to the library to get your copy of Stuck, for a limited time you can get a special discount price and free shipping directly from the publisher. Plus copies are available at Amazon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Starting a Garden

Starting a garden is like starting a new story. It's a work in progress. First, start with an idea.

Hmmm. This looks like a good spot for a garden. 
Decide how you'll develop that idea. You will, of course, require certain tools.

This tiller ought to do it.

Maybe change your point of view to see how things are going.

The first draft might look finished but it rarely is. Some editing is needed to make it better.

This red clay can't do the job by itself. Need to add something. . . .
 What do you need to add to make your story work better??

Richer dirt!

A few scoops ought to do it.

A bit of editing helps a lot.

Now it's taking shape!

But this is only the first draft. It still needs work. We'll revisit this manuscript again in a few weeks.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Stuck is Available!

Today I beheld the printed copy of my middle grade novel, Stuck, for the first time.

ISBN 978-0965941969

I haven't gotten my author copies yet—but the Westlake Library recently received the copies they will sell at my author talk next week. So, I begged two copies from them—one for me and one for my cover model, Samantha Newcomb.

Next week, I'll be busy promoting. Monday, I'll do a stint on WYTI's "Our View" show. You can listen via computer at Stuck debuts at Franklin County Library on Tuesday at 7:00, where we will also announce the winners of the Stuck art contest. On Thursday at 6:30, I'll do an author talk at the Westlake Library.

This week, three local papers have published stories (in print and online) about Stuck: The Laker Weekly,
the Franklin News-Post, and The Smith Mountain Eagle. While the Eagle only has part of the story posted, the other two have the full articles.

Franklin News-Post

Laker Weekly

Smith Mountain Eagle

 Stuck is now available from Cedar Creek Publishing and from

In case you didn't notice, this post is a blatant promotion for my book.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Fun Stuff at Festival of the Book

Part II: Writer-related Stuff

Not all the things at Publishers' Day were about publishing. There was also some fun stuff that was writer-related.  Not far from the Cedar Creek Publishing table (where I was was) this display:

Can you tell what these works of art are made from? Books! The book in the foreground above is an "altered book," wherein words have been obliterated. I'd seen altered books before that looked pretty junky, but these were beautiful. They were coated with polyurethane and even the texture was nice. You can see more of the artist's work on this page of her blog.

In the above picture, refrigerator magnets are the small items in the center. The artist also had lots of madalas suitable for hanging on the wall.

Another display had this Poe note (with Poe quotes). Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the person or business that had these: 

Another display had grammar dinnerware! I wish I'd had a set when I used to teach English. Is this stuff neat, or what?


Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Virginia Festival of the Book

Part I: Appalachian Writers

Saturday, I went to Publishers' Day at Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. I always enjoy Publishers' Day. This year, I was one of the authors who'd be at the Cedar Creek Publishing table. Here's the part of the display:

You can see the stack of Ferradiddledumday books beneath my name. On the other side of the table is a placard about Stuck, which won't officially be available until March 28 (Stuck debuts at the Franklin County Library on March 29).

Whenever I'm at a writers' event, I check around to see if any other Appalachian Writers are there. I didn't have to look far. Lena Cantrell McNicholas, who'd participated in a program on Wednesday, was right at the Cedar Creek table. Her work appears in the Blue Ridge Anthology 2011,  just out from Cedar Creek; she and I both have work in the 2010 Anthology of Appalachian Writers.

Lena also had her  memoir, Patchwork: Pieces of Appalachia, with her. On the back is this blurb by Lee Smith:

[This book] takes us through Lena’s exciting life of love, adventure, devastating loss, high principles and new beginnings, finally back to her beloved southwest Virginia and the complexities of life alone—all of this told with severe honesty and sweet lyrical grace. Lena knows who she is and where she comes from, and she knows how to tell a good story, too. All you have to do is sit back and listen.
I look forward to reading my copy of Patchwork: Pieces of Appalachia. When I walked around the other displays, I soon saw the Appalachian Heritage table.

Editor George Brosi and I have crossed paths several times, but I hadn't seen him for a few years. Here he is with a copy of Ferradiddledumday. I look forward to reading my copy of Patchwork: Pieces of Appalachia. When I walked around the other displays, I soon saw the Appalachian Heritage table. 

And I came home with a copy of last summer's Appalachian Heritage, a fine magazine.

Tomorrow, I'll post some other pics from Publishers' Day.