Coming soon: Updates!

Hopefully I’ll have some updates, reviews, and whatnot posted by the end of this week.

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Z: Zoom!

As in the sound of this A to Z challenging zooming by. That’s it. It’s the end, folks. I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by, especially those kind enough to comment. I do hope that you keep coming back for more reviews, writing, and, of course, corgis. You guys are super awesome! 🙂

 

Y: Yard Sales

Today is the one year anniversary of my my Grandmother’s death, so for my Y entry, I’ve decided to repost “Yard Sales in Heaven.”

Original Post from April 29, 2013:

At 12:15pm today, my grandmother died. I wasn’t by her bedside, or even in the same state. I was in my office, waiting for the call I’ve been dreading for the past day and a half.

Several times on this blog, I’ve mentioned my passion for going to yard sales, especially in search of books. I got this love of riffling through other people’s old things from my grandmother, who was an avid connoisseur of yard sales, rummage sales, and estate sales. I loved going to visit her, knowing that we would spend all day Saturday driving around the neighborhoods of Maryville, TN looking for thrifty treasures. She knew all the best neighborhoods, and would always scan the yard sales listed in the local newspaper, looking for the best sounding ones and planning out our entire day beforehand. We would pick her up from her house (a house who’s land backed up right to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), and she would climb into the car, armed with her newly-purchase purse (95% of the time she had gotten it from a yard sale a few weeks beforehand) and the clipped classifieds section, the best yard sale advertisements circled in pen. From 8am to lunchtime we’d prowl the subdivisions, and then go back out and search for more after lunch. No one had a better garage sale sign radar than she did.

Growing up, it was always my dad who drove. My dad has a tendency to hurt himself, or, he would rile me up enough to where my little-girl fist would somehow find that perfect spot on top of his shoulder. Any time my dad got hurt, it set my grandma off into giggle fits. She couldn’t help but laugh every time he cried out in shocked pain.

Over the years, she gave me many small presents, treasures that she had found at yard sales and knew they were perfect for me. She got me dinosaur figurines and jewelry, books and fancy boxes, beautiful pens and silly notepads. Each thing was special, especially since it only cost twenty-five cents.

Later, my husband took the reins of driving us around, at the same time we drove him crazy. “GARAGE SALE SIGN!” one of us would shout, forcing him to react quickly (his radar isn’t nearly as tuned as ours). It was on one of these adventures with my husband that my grandma said something that has stuck with my husband and me ever since: “Monkey Fuzz.” Where most people would say something like “Ah damnit, lost my lipstick!” she would pipe “Aw, Monkey Fuzz!” in her unique sweet and high-pitched voice. There’s hardly a day that goes by that one of us doesn’t use this playful curse.

One of the first books that I ever picked out for myself was during one of these yard sale excursions with her. It was the fourth book in the Babysitters Club series, Mary Anne Saves the Day. I have bought many books from yard sales since, and I don’t remember where or when. This one was special, because it was my first. I remember that it was an old farm house, shaded by old, mossy trees. And I remember that my grandmother was there.

I continued the tradition of going yard saleing with my grandmother up through my early adulthood, and I would still go with her if I could. I inherited several things from my grandmother (the allergy to penicillin being one of those things), but my love of yard sales is one of the best things she ever gave me. I won’t be able to stop at strangers’ houses looking for cheap stuff without thinking of her. I love her and I’ll miss her dearly.

Mamaw, I hope you’re enjoying all those yard sales in heaven.

O: Oz

WoZCI am obsessed with the Wizard of Oz, and not just the movie. I have multiple copies of all of the original Oz books written by Baum (though no first editions, yet!). I pick up more copies as I see them. My kitchen and dining room are decorated in an Oz theme.

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the release of the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland. As befitting such a grandiose occasion, there are multitudes of new memorabilia available. I received one of these as a gift this last Christmas: The Wizard of Oz Official 75th Anniversary Companion by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman. The companion book is a large 176 page coffee table book filled with colorful pictures and lots of information about the making of The Wizard of Oz. Though a bit unwieldy to cuddle up with on the couch, the book contains stories and facts that are new to even an obsessive fan like me. There are even a couple of myths that it debunks (the horse of a different color was not actually dyed with Jell-o, but with the same type of dyes used in Jell-O). It also contains several never-before-published pictures and stills from the making of the movie.

The companion make a great gift for a lover of the Wizard of Oz or classic films (There’s also lots of information about the special effects and make-up). There is an electronic version of this book that you can purchase if you prefer an less bulky version, but you loose the collectability and tactile memory factor, plus, the hardcover is only three bucks more. If you’re just interested in the information presented, get the ebook, but if you want it as a collectible for a fan, then definitely get the hardcover.

5/5 Stars

Purchase The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion

J: Java and 4 Other Things Writers Need

PausaCaffe

  1. Java: Or coffee–To help get through those morning/afternoon writing sessions. Caffeine is a stimulant. It helps to get your body and your mind in gear.

    wine_maiden

  2. Wine: To help you get through those afternoon/evening sessions. Wine relaxes you, lowers some inhibitions, and eases you into writing.

    owl_books

  3. Books: Whether it be paper or electronic, all writers should be readers.

    ninja_desk

  4. Place: Have a place dedicated to writing, whether that be an office, a park picnic table, or a coffee house. Know that when you’re in that place, you should be writing.

    people

  5. Support: We all need a little help from our friends. For some, this may be an encouraging spouse, for others it may be a writing critique group. You are not alone in this venture.
*All Images from openclipart.org

Author Interview: Ann Hite

Ann Hite
Ann Hite

In this week’s author interview, I talk with Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain and The Storycatcher. Her stories are steeped in Appalachian tradition, incorporating the rich folklore of both the mountains and the southern coast. I highly suggest all of her titles, and eagerly await her third novel which is coming out next year!


At the Dahlonega Literary Festival you announced the that you’ll have a third book coming out. Can you give us a short preview?

In my first novel, Ghost on Black Mountain, there is a villain of the worst kind, Hobbs Pritchard. Without spoiling the novel for those who haven’t read it, Hobbs links five women and their stories together.  My new novel, Where the Souls Go, tells the story of AzLeigh Pritchard, Hobbs’s sister. This book begins with Annie Todd, AzLeigh’s granddaughter, in 1964 and works backwards. Readers will see why Hobbs became such a villain. All my books begin with a question. The question for this book is much the same as the question for my first novel. What happens when a family keeps secrets?  Where The Souls Go will be released in 2015 by Mercer University Press.

What sort of research have you done while writing your books?

I often visit the places where I want to set the book. Setting in my novels becomes a character. Black Mountain is a real place but my Black Mountain is the actual mountains that surround the village of Black Mountain, North Carolina. I use a lot of my granny and great aunt’s stories about living in the Appalachia. I use old photographs to look. So if you were to come into my workroom nearing the end of a project, you would find maps, photos, ideas, and music from the period tacked to the walls. I’ve even been known to cook some of the dishes that my granny cooked during the Depression.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

When I was ten, I told ghost stories I made up to my younger brother, who became terrified and ratted me out to my mother. So I began to write them. I have a high threshold for fear. But around the fifth grade I thought I wanted to be a famous singer. I loved music—still do—with a passion. I performed in a school talent show, where I was promptly told by friends that my voice lacked beauty. Then I thought I’d be an actress because I loved the thought of acting out stories. This too was a flop when I had a severe case of stage fright. When I entered jr. high, I had a teacher that noticed my storytelling skill. She asked me if I ever thought about being a writer. It was at that moment I realized all along I was a writer. I never turned back.

Lowcountry Spirit Review

What are you currently reading?

I am reading two books at the same time. I often do this. One is fiction: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. The second is nonfiction: 10% Happier by Dan Harris.  Nice balance.

What’s the most bizarre question you’ve been asked about yourself or your books?

I don’t think questions are bizarre but I did have a woman at a book club ask me if I thought one of my characters in my book was really a good person, morally, as if she were real. This flattered me. This woman was so drawn into my work she saw the characters in a real way. Nothing wrong with that.

Do you have a question that you wish people would stop asking you?

I love for people to ask me questions, so the answer is no. Ask away.  If I don’t have an answer, I’ll tell you.

Do you have a dream festival, conference, bookstore etc that you’d like to be invited to?

I would love to be invited to the Savannah Book Festival. That is one of my bucket list items.

What writer, alive or dead, do you wish you could share a bottle of wine with?

Well neither I nor the author probably would partake of wine but I’d bet we’d have a nice cold coke and watch the peacocks she raised walk around the yard. I wish I had been born early enough to have a good long talk with Flannery O’Connor.  Her work has influenced me my writing since the day an English teacher placed a copy of a Good Man Is Hard To Find. Amazing.

The Storycatcher Review

Who are a couple of authors you’d suggest your fans read while they await your next book?

A couple, are you kidding? I am a self-confessed book junkie. But I will narrow it down to two.  You must read Amy Greene’s books and if you haven’t read Sue Monk Kidd, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Who’s your hero?

The photo of Ann Hite's granny and grandfather
The photo of Ann Hite’s granny and grandfather

I keep a photo of Granny and my grandfather above my desk. The time is 1925 . Granny is fifteen and my grandfather is 17. It is their wedding day. Of course I only found out a few years ago that Granny was 15 when she married. That is a secret she kept from me for obvious reasons. She inspired me to write from a mountain girl’s point of view. I’m not saying she gave me permission. No way. She would say I was giving all the secrets away, but her story of a hardscrabble life inspires me to live my best life ever. Part of that is writing books that touch the readers. She was an amazing woman and not one day goes by that I don’t talk with her. If she could speak right now, she would say she escaped Appalachia. She would also say all this writing about the past was a waste of time. She was a firm believer in not looking back. Granny died in October 1993. Only hours before she died, I stood by her hospital bed and talked with her as she lay in a comma. When I told her she could let go that I would be a strong woman and have a good life, she tried to talk to me by grunting and waving her arm around. Our bond was so intense. She was and is my hero.

What exotic animal would you like to have as a pet?

I’m a cat lover. So that’s exotic as I get.

White, milk, or dark chocolate?

I spent a good part of my childhood living in Germany. Dark chocolate. There is no substitute.

Purchase Ghost on Black Mountain

I’d like to thank Ann for taking the time to answer these questions. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Ann, or if you have suggestions for future author interviews, post in the comments!

Purchase The Storycatcher

Anything Books Can Do, Shop Dogs Can Do Better

A post containing two of my favorite things–Dogs and books. Kudos to Parnassus books and Grace 😉

musing

gracie welcome

Good day. I’m Gracie Coffman. If you’ll pardon me for speaking frankly, I’d like to point out that visitors to our shop have been spending an awful lot of time fawning over books. This book, that book, another book . . . one rectangle after another. We understand, of course. Books have a certain appeal — they smell nice, and some of them are shiny. But perhaps you’ve forgotten how scintillating your canine hosts and hostesses are? I suggest you turn your attention floorward, because this place has so much more to offer than what’s on the shelves. In fact, anything you might enjoy about a book, you can enjoy even more about a shop dog. Allow me to elaborate — 

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