New column: “We share our lives by sharing our stories”

listenToday’s column in The Greeenville News is about the stories we all keep inside–and how good it is to listen when someone else shares theirs.

I hope y’all enjoy! To read, click here.

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Recap from the 2nd Annual Novel Retreat at the Vermont College of Fine Arts

logoThis week I returned from six days in Montpelier, Vermont, at the 2nd Annual Novel Retreat located on the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I attended the Retreat both as a participant, and as the graduate assistant to Retreat Director Connie May Fowler.

Hours of writing time in a private studio, writing prompt sessions, readings from faculty members and VCFA president and best-selling author Thomas Christopher Green, and fabulous panels/conversations with Connie May Fowler and the two other faculty–Clint McCown and David Anthony Durham–aside, there was this:

At bedtime, I got to close my eyes and not open them until the next morning.

Some of you may engage in this practice nightly, but for those of us with a toddler who’s routinely full-on awake from 2 to 4 a.m. every night, it was AMAZING.

At the Retreat, I worked on my novel-in-progress, tentatively titled THE YEAR OF JOSEPHINE SCOTT. Set in 1860 Charleston, South Carolina and in Massachusetts, in the months leading up to (and perhaps following–I’m still in the early stages) the opening of the Civil War, it’s the story of a young woman awakening to her true self just as her world quite literally catches fire.

In addition to working on this novel-in-progress, I got to commune with some really cool, truly unique other participants–some arriving from places as far-flung as England, Egypt, and China.

I also hiked a bunch in Hubbard Park, Montpelier’s awesome in-town forest. Because it’s a disease. Hiking, that is–for me, at least. A nice disease.

If you’re working in the long form (i.e. working on a novel) or have considered it, the Novel Retreat at VCFA may be the place for you. Plans are already in place for next year’s Retreat.

Some photos from the Retreat:

With author-screenwriter-actor Clint McCown on the Retreat's celebratory last night.

With author-screenwriter-actor Clint McCown on the Retreat’s celebratory last night.

 

 

View of the Green Mountains from the lookout tower at the top of Hubbard Park in Montpelier.

View of the Green Mountains from the lookout tower at the top of Hubbard Park in Montpelier.

 

On the State House lawn in Montpelier - Green Vermont

On the State House lawn in Montpelier – Green Vermont

In my dorm room at VCFA. I am SO refreshed!

In my dorm room at VCFA. I am SO refreshed!

Connie May Fowler, reading from her heartbreaking and gorgeous environmental memoir-in progress.

Connie May Fowler, reading from her heartbreaking and gorgeous environmental memoir-in progress.

 

Clint McCown, regarding from something hilarious.

Clint McCown, regarding from something hilarious in-progress.

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New column today: “It’s time for a technology break”

smartphoneToday’s column in The Greenville News is a plea for all of us — myself most definitely included — to put down our smart phones and look UP.

To read it, click here.

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New column: “Say yes to summer adventures, big or small”

summer-landscape-denali-national-park-alaska-21062368Today’s column in The Greenville News is all about saying “yes” to any invitation–and adventure–the universe offers us this summer.

Also, it’s about the summer I was 19 and lived in Alaska.

To read, click here.

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New newspaper column: “Teacher appreciation”

teachingsuperheroesToday’s column in The Greenville News is for the teachers. In my case, for one in particular: my high school AP English teacher, Ms. Sue Wilson.

She’s the kind of teacher everyone wishes they had.

To read, click here.

 

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Today’s Newspaper Column: “There’s Nothing Like the Gift of a Good Dog”

OldBooMy best friend, trail partner, and near-constant companion for the past almost-12 years recently passed away. It’s still hard to say the words out loud. So, instead, I wrote about her.

Today’s column in The Greenville News is all about my life with my best friend–my dog, Scout. To read, click here.

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Weekly Recap: Blue Ridge Bookfest & My Baby Turns Two

With my dear friend Whitney, at the 7th Annual Blue Ridge Bookfest

With my dear friend Whitney, at the 7th Annual Blue Ridge Bookfest

It’s been a rough and wild couple of weeks, but there were two shining lights:

1.) The 7th Annual Blue Ridge Bookfest in Flat Rock, North Carolina

I’d been invited to the Bookfest as an Author Presenter, and had a delightful time getting to know other authors, hearing from incredible writers like the famous war correspondent Joe Galloway, and more.

The Bookfest folks put me up Friday night at the lovely Northern Lights B&B in Flat Rock, where the owner

My bed--and wine--at the lovely Northern Lights B&B in Flat Rock, N.C.

My bed–and wine–at the lovely Northern Lights B&B in Flat Rock, N.C.

and manager, Linda, spoiled me rotten with fresh fruit and wine in my room.

 

My presentation–I talked about my historical novel, Keowee Valley, set in the area–was an absolute blast. I loved getting the chance to meet readers, spending time with old friends and making new ones. Several people had driven up from Greenville, South Carolina, and said they’d come because they read and enjoy the newspaper column that I write for The Greenville News every Thursday. What an honor and a treat to spend time with these fine folks!

Our newly-minted 2 year-old

Our newly-minted 2 year-old

2.) My baby girl, our Willa, turned TWO

We threw a family birthday party in the backyard for our rascally Bean. In attendance: both sets of grandparents, one great-aunt, one great-uncle, one aunt, one cousin, and us! It’s hard to believe she’s had two gloriously wild years on this planet. She makes our family whole.

Hope y’all are having a wonderful Spring, wherever you are.

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Headed to Flat Rock for the 7th Annual Blue Ridge Bookfest

bookfestI’m headed to Flat Rock, N.C. for the 7th Annual Blue Ridge Bookfest, held today and tomorrow (April 24-25) on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College.

I’m thrilled to be presenting along with such fabulous authors–many of them NYT best-sellers. The Keynote Speaker, retired war and foreign correspondent Joe Galloway (author of We Were Soldliers…) is speaking at a reception tonight, and I can’t wait! Tommy Hays (What I Came to Tell You), Karen White (The House on Tradd Street), Terry Kay (To Dance With a White Dog) and others will also be presenting.

Because I’m a Speaker, the fine folks with the Bookfest are putting me up for the night in a local B&B. Suffice it to say, I’m also pretty doggoned excited about a night in a room by myself. I may read! More likely I’ll be grading my college students’ final essays of the semester, but a girl can dream.

The Bookfest is FREE and open to the public. For the Bookfest schedule and more information about the Speakers and events, click here.

 

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New column: “Celebrate Earth Day by reaffirming connections to each other”

My girls, off to learn about plants with their aunt and great-aunt

My girls, off to learn about plants with their aunt and great-aunt

It’s Earth Day! Hooray!

Today’s column in The Greenville News is all about celebrating our connections to the land and to each other. To read it, click here.

Wherever you live, there’s a great big natural world waiting. I know you can find it. Get outside!

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Review of the First Annual Working Writers Reading

A great review of the First Annual Working Writers Reading–wherein Jubal Tiner, Ken Chamlee and I read from published and in-progress work–made the front page of Brevard College’s newspaper, The Clarion.

The title of the piece, “Working writers reading a sweaty success,” seems awkward and a little funny. Let it be known that it was hot in the room.

We had a great time, and the students and literature-loving community members who came out certainly acted like they did, too!

To read the review, click here.

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