Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Authors Tent September 29

The 2012 Mountain Spirits Festival is history. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time, and the weather cooperated, too. Rain stopped a couple of hours before the festival began and didn't start until nearly an hour after the festival was over.

In anticipation of the crowd, authors started setting up early. Ibby Greer was the first one there. Her late husband's book, The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1934, was popular. Franklin County is, after all, the moonshine capital of the world.

Some exhibitors brought their assistants. Kayleigh had breakfast while watching Beverly Merritt's display.

Shea Lemone set up his two novels next to Curtis Nestor's non-fiction book.

Despite his moonshine jug, Charles Lytton had the most dignified display—but his two books of memoirs are strictly down-home.

Veronica Church, a member of Lake Writers, had some jars of moonshine-related merchandise for sale.

Morris Stephenson didn't have his moonshine memoir in time for the festival, but he had a poster of the cover, and he took orders for the soon-to-be-published book. Lots of folks reserved a copy.

Before long, the tent was full of authors, and a crowd gathered. James Nagy's new book, Franklin County, was the most popular one. He always had a line in front of his table.

Here's the line. Some folks bought several copies of Franklin County.

While authors signed books, bands played beside the authors tent. Aspen Black and her group Empowered were the first musicians to entertain the crowd.

After Aspen's group had finished, Charles Lytton told the crowd a few stories.

And then Morris Stephenson told a few stories.

During the day, many book lovers visited the authors' tent and many authors fraternized with each other. Below, Keith Ferrell chatted with Jim Morrison and Cara Modisett.

Keith also visited with Fred First.

Morris visited folks at the Appalachian literature table—Lynn Salsi, Rex Stephenson, and Tina Hanlon.

Later Rex visited Morris's display.

Karen Hall visited with Ibby Greer.

Peggy Shifflett and Ethel Born, both members of Roanoke Valley Pen Women, conversed.

Dwight Hayes had both his photography and his book at his table.

Lots of folks stopped to admire Dwight's photo of the train. 

Judith Riker Damon's display included the pictures that she painted to illustrate A Genteel Spy.

Three writers groups were represented: Lake Writers (far left), Valley Writers (middle), and Piedmont Writers (right). 

Among other books, the Piedmont Writers were selling their anthology.

Some random pictures under the tent:

Several dogs attended the festival. This cute little dog came with Judith Riker Damon.

But this friendly girl escaped from her nearby home and came to see what was happening. Sally Roseveare, one of the Lake Writers, caught her. Sally's two Smith Mountain Lake murder mysteries feature a black labrador. Soon the owner came and claimed the escapee. 

The day ended with music and some very talented young cloggers.


Note: Not all the authors and their books were pictured above—just a representative sampling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Authors Tent 2012

If you're shopping for early Christmas presents of the literary persuasion, the Authors Tent will be a great place for you to visit. Here are just a few of the books that will be available: 

We'll have a little something for everyone—but we'll have a lot of memoir, regional history, and cookbooks. Writers groups as well as individual authors will be in the tent: 

The Lake Writers: Mike Davis, already featured in this post, will have romantic suspense and science fiction. Sally Roseveare will have her two Smith Mountain lake murder mysteries, Secrets at Spawning Run and Secrets at Sweetwater CoveGinny Brock will have her recently published memoir, By Morning's Light. Tom Howell, a psychic investigator, will have some steam punk stories and ghost stories, and his mother Lillian's memoir, Life With Charlie. He'll also have some prints of the Boones Mill depot for sale. Jane Smith will have her Christian novel, Finding Amelia. Sue Coryell won't be able to attend but her book. A Red, Red Rose, will be available at the Lake Writers Table. Veronica Church doesn't have a book, but she'll have some moonshine shirts in jars, some moonshine cornhole bags, and some wine bottle ring book marks.

Valley Writers:
Jim Morrison (who is a member of both Valley and Lake Writers) will have his WWII history book, Bedford Goes to War. Rumor has it that there aren't many left in the current press run. Linda Cheek will have her novel, Pain Doc, and Dick Raymond might be able to make it with his Civil War poetry collection, Ballads in Blue and Gray.

Piedmont Writers: Avis Turner  will have her new memoir, In the Land Where Fairies Cried Tears of Stone, Mary Farris will have her poetry, Dorothy Carter will have her young adult novel Facing Fallout, and Margaret Atkins will have her two memoirs—the latest is Two's Company.

Virginia Writers Club: Had to cancel.

Many people have already bought James M. Nagy's brand new book, Franklin County, and he'll be glad to sign your copy. If you haven't yet bought Franklin County, he'll have copies to sell.

Dwight A. Hayes will have his non-fiction book, Banished, and some of his photography. He'll also some of Michael Abraham's books, including Providence, VA. Michael has an out-of-state commitment and isn't able to attend this year's festival.

Becky Mushko will have Stuck, her middle-grade novel and Ferradiddledumday, an Appalachian folktale. She'll also have The Girl Who Raced Mules & Other Stories, Peevish Advice, and Patches on the Same Quilt.

Judith Riker Damon will have A Genteel Spy, her great-grandmother's memoir of the Civil War (see this post), and she'll also have some of her own art.

Peggy Shifflett  will have four volumes of her memoirs of growing up in a holler near Harrisonburg—The Red Flannel Rag, Mom's Family Pie, The Living Room Bed, and her new book, On the Way to Toe Town

The Sweet Potatoes from Winston-Salem, NC, who would have had heir down-home cookbook, Well, Shut My Mouth!, had to cancel at the last minute because of family illness.

Beverly Merritt will have a table full of her history & genealogy books, including The Clement-Witcher Feud and Franklin County True Stories, Letters and Recipes from the Grapevine. Beverly is a wealth of knowledge about local history and genealogy.

Charles Lytton will have his memoirs of growing up along the New River— New River: Bonnets, Apple Butter, and Moonshine and The Cool Side of the Pillow.

Ibby Greer  will have her own books—her novel A Season of Letters and her autobiographical poetry Paper Faces—as well as her late husband Keister Greer's The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1934. She'll also have some of her delightful painted Gourdfriends.

Oma Boyd will have her "old woman's" memoir, Round This Mountain.

Karen J. Hall will have several books: Mount Airy Granite, Building the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and Wythe County, Virginia.

Rodger Doss will have his two historical novels, 'Shine and Killing of a Court.

Cara Modisett will have her lovely Blue Ridge Parkway Impressions as well as some CDs of her music.

Curtis Nester  will have his inspirational book, Faith Will Keep You Afloat.

Shea Lemone will have his novels, Corner Pride and The Spring of Unexpected Consequences.

Barbara Roberts  will have her two novels, What A Christmas!, and its sequel, Not in my Wildest Dreams.

Tina Hanlon and Rex Stephenson  will have a variety of Appalachian Literature resources, including some of Rex's plays.

Lynn Salsi will have several books including Appalachian Jack Tales, Jack and the Fire Dragon, The Life and Times of Ray Hicks, and others.

Morris Stephenson will talk to festival-goers about his moonshine book, A Night of Makin' Likker, even if it isn't yet out in time for the festival. Odds are good he'll be taking orders.

Jack Powell will be unable to attend, but the Artisan Center has three volumes of his moonshine memoirs—A Dying Art.

Ethel Born will have postal service history, Carrying the Mail in Rural Virginia, which mentions some Franklin County post offices.

Fred First  will have Slow Road Home and What We Hold in Our Hands, as well as some of his photo notecards. Fred will also have Michael Abraham's books for sale—The Spine of the Virginias; Union, WV; Harmonic Highways, and Providence, VA.

Finally, the Friends of the Library will have a used book sale. They'll feature books of regional interest.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Genteel Spy

Last year, memoirs and books about history were popular at the Mountain Spirits Festival. One book that combines both history and memoir—Judith Riker Damon's A Genteel Spy—will be available at this year's festival.

During the Civil War, Judith's great-grandmother, Martha Broyles Royce of Franklin, Tennessee, was a spy for the Confederacy. She used the hem of her seven-year-old daughter Betsey's dress to send secret messages to her neighbors—messages that contained information about Union troop movements.

About a year after her husband Moses enlisted as a scout for Confederate General John Bell Hood's army, Union forces discovered Martha's spying activities. Martha and her two young daughters—Betsey and Sally—were thus forced into exile. Alone and facing an uncertain future, Martha and her daughters made a 1,200 mile journey that lasted two years. Ten years later, when Betsey was  in college, she wrote the story of their odyssey. Betsey's granddaughter Judith inherited the manuscript—and the rest is, well, history.

Judith Riker Damon explains her reason for publishing the manuscript:

Having taught young people, I felt it is vital to share this more personal side of the Civil War. Today's generations need to understand that wars are fought through the perseverence and sacrifice of thsoe left at home as well as through soldiers on the battlefield.
A Genteel Spy provides a rare look into the personal lives of a real family during the Civil War: little girls who must learn to play outdoors between practice firings of cannon balls over their heads; taking refuge in the cellar when a battle surrounds their house; salvaging guns from the battlefield afterward; and finally being exiled by the Yankees from their beloved home and friend. Grandmother's memoir reads more like a novel, with full dialogue and "stranger than fiction" characters. It serves as a reminder that sometimes, in the darkest hours, faith and determination are all that stand between life and death.

A Genteel Spy is illustrated by Judith, who is also an accomplished artist and sculptor. In fact, she'll have some of her art in the authors tent with her book.

A Genteel Spy is a compelling book. If you like history and memoir, you'll love this book. Stop by the authors' tent and take a look.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Michael Davis: Lake Writers

While many of the books in the authors' tent at the 2012 Mountain Spirits Festival are about Appalachian history, memoir, cooking, and fiction, several authors affiliated with writers groups—such as Lake Writers, Valley Writers, and Piedmont Writers—offer something else. 

If you like romantic suspense, mystery, and science fiction, Michael Davis—a member of Lake Writers—has a book for you. Mike's romantic suspense and mystery books include Blind Consent, Forgotten Children, Tainted Hero, Shadow of Guilt, Veil of Deception, Whispers of Innocence, Righteous Fury, Distant Obsession, and Beyond Forever. His science fiction works include Final Solution, Echoes, Touch of Blue, Rimfire, Brok Hon, and Essence. You can read excerpts from his books at his website: http://davisstories.com

Here are two of his latest books:

RIGHTEOUS FURY: Torn between past mistakes and her affinity for impossible relationships, Codi Emery is cast into a web of deception and intrigue. Her new assignment in a compartmented facility, shrouded in extreme defensive measures and secrecy, pits the young intelligence analyst against her emotions and nativity on what’s best for her career, and her heart. Serendipitously, Codi discovers an Arcanum program of clandestine operatives sanctioned not by the government but the ire of a select group of patriots with a bold plan to rewrite history. She struggles against competing factions, her loyalty and her core beliefs. When she confronts her findings, pleas for a sane explanation, something beyond her nightmares, the quest to understand the line between honor and treason puts her at risk from a rouge element. Only the strength and determination of a young maverick Marine can save Codi from herself.

WHISPERS OF INNOCENCE: Border violence; corpses abandoned in the desert. Trafficking in a previously unknown drug. A dangerous religious cult in an isolated community. Sounds like headlines ripped straight from today’s newspaper but it’s the reality of the romantic suspense, Whispers of Innocence. Enoch Smith, an intelligent, yet psychotic cult leader, uses more than his flock to execute God’s wrath on a sinful nation and evil government. Yet his power over the people exceeds mere theological influences, but instead dominants their very existence. Drake Elliot, a former US Marshal underestimates the power of the cartel that injures his son, destroys his wife, and maims himself. Under the guise of protecting his brain-damaged son, Drake seeks revenge and returns to Arizona to find the cold and calculating people responsible for this tragedy. Micki Lewis, an investigative journalist in Tucson, receives a tip regarding the origins of the latest drug to hit the streets and returns to Alta Vista, home of Enoch’s Children of God community in which she was once a member. The very same cult that killed Micki’s twin sister upon learning her attempt to escape. Drake and Micki join forces to uncover the secrets behind the cult and its success helping children like Drake’s son recover normalcy. What they find is far worse than just drugs coming across the border. They share a connection that entwines their lineage and past. One that goes beyond their imagination and nightmares. A discovery that provides answers to the shadows that haunt their dreams and their lives will never be the same.

Visit Mike at the Lake Writers table. He'll be glad to talk about his books and about publishing. And watch this blog for info about other authors and groups who will be at the festival.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lemone's New Novel

Ferrum resident Charles Shea Lemone, who had his novel Corner Pride at last year's Mountain Spirits Festival, will have his new novel, The Spring of Unexpected Consequences, at the authors' tent for the 2012 festival.

Set during the spring of 1957, the novel is about former police officer Nate Holt, who works as a bartender at Wally's Tavern in Harlem. Holt takes risks and breaks laws in order to help friends solve dangerous problems, a situation his love Lillian Warren is unaware of. When he vows to stem the flow of heroin into the neighborhood, he faces a series of unexpected consequences.

Here's part of the first chapter:

Chapter 1
       An hour into my bartending shift at Wally’s Tavern, a dingy little dive on 145th Street in Harlem, Blinky Carlson walked into the joint. It was a cold and windy midday on a Friday in the spring of 1957, and the weather had turned his face a mottled red. When he sidled up to the bar to slide onto a stool, I could see something was troubling him. There were a few whites who stopped by for a drink and to place bets through me on the numbers racket, but Blinky wasn't one of them.  Being that he was a consummate jazz aficionado, Fifty-Second Street was his scene. He rarely ventured north unless it was to catch an occasional late night show at Small's Paradise or one of the other nearby clubs.
     “How's life treating you, Mr. Nate Holt?”  He spoke in his usual rapid fashion after unwrapping a herringbone scarf from around his neck and sticking a Lucky Strike in his mouth.
      “Everything's copacetic.” I struck a match for the cigarette and set a coaster down on the chipped bar top. “Name your poison.”
    “A double shot of Cutty, straight up.” He unbuttoned his charcoal gray overcoat, removed a black jeff from his head, set it on the bar top and then with an unsteady hand brushed back his thinning, red hair.
     When I set the scotch in front of him, he wasted no time gulping half of it down. Except for his hip jazzman shades, which he no doubt wore to conceal a nervous facial tick, Blinky looked like the thirty-five-year-old accountant, which he was, being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. I took care of my regulars and then positioned myself on a stool across from him.
     “What brings you so far uptown, Blink?” I asked, giving the narrow room another once over to see if my services were needed.
     “I came to see you.” He took his shades off, folded them and laid them beside his cigarettes. “This morning I happened to read an article you wrote a couple of months back for The Uptown Beat. It was on a gig Miles did down at Cafe Bohemia.”
     “And…” I urged him on. Only a few months into writing my music column, I was eager for any and all feedback.
     “I thought the praise you lavished on him was more than well deserved.  I especially liked the part that read, if I may quote you, brother: 'Now that Bird has departed for that big band in the sky, there's nobody on the set who's moving with the force and innovation Miles Davis exhibits with his new quintet'.”
      “No exaggeration there.”
      “I was happy to see you also mentioned Coltrane and Cannonball, favorably.” His right eyebrow jumped up like an exclamation mark, as he seemed to take stock of his reflection in the mirror that ran the length of the bar behind me.
      “Yeah, I never thought I’d hear a group like them. All those geniuses together on the same stage.”
       “Like I said, it was a good piece of writing.”
      “Thanks, Blink.” I replenished his glass and waved off his attempt to pay. “On the house.”
      “Ever hear of a young kid named Joe Weathersby?” he asked a moment later.
      “Can’t say I have.”
      “Well, I’m not surprised. He's only twenty years old and still studying at Julliard.”
      “What’s he play?”
      “He’s a tenor man, who coincidentally comes from your hometown, Philly.”  He smiled briefly. “But he’s not just any tenor. I’m not jiving, man, when I say this kid’s got the bebop chops down and tons of raw talent to match. Given a little time on the set, and any and everybody who seriously follows the music will have heard of him.”
      “Is that so?” I said, wondering why I’d never heard the fella play. “How long's he been in town?”
      “Since the September before last. He came downtown one night, though, for an open-mike jam with Dizzy and some of the cats a couple of months back. I happened to be in the joint at the time. Man, talk about extraordinary. He does things in the upper register I didn't think could be done. I mean he’s bad, bad, bad!” He downed more scotch. “He even had Dizzy scratching his head in amazement.”
      “So, when can I hear him play, so I can make up my own mind?”
      “Soon,” he said, with a deeply etched frown carved in his prominent forehead. “That is, if Weathersby lives that long.”
      “Now you’ve really got me confused.” I poured a dollop of Courvoisier into my lukewarm coffee. “Does he have a health problem or something?”
      “You could put it that way. Ever hear the name Freddie Tucker bandied about in your travels?”
      “Who in the life hasn’t? He’s a big, ugly lout. But what’s he got to do with this kid, Weathersby?”
      “I’m recording him, see.” Blinky said, as the right side of his face twitched. “I been saving dough for years, and investing right. So I decided to start doing something I love, like being more involved in the music.”
      “And…” I said, impatiently.
      “So I talked Joe into letting me manage him. Since last week we’ve been recording some cuts at a little studio down on the Lower East Side. And just when I think we're close to wrapping things up, Freddie Tucker pops up out of nowhere.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “So that's why I'm here.”
      “Can you be a little more specific?”
      “I guess I’ll have to be.” He cracked another brief smile and went on talking. “We were rehearsing the other night. During a break, Joe goes outside to get some fresh air. The drummer I’d lined up, Pee Wee Merkins, has a problem with getting enough duji to stick in his veins. I knew that, of course. I mean, everybody knows he's got a monkey the size of Hackensack on his back. But the cat plays drums like nobody this side of Art Blakey. That’s why I convinced myself his habit wouldn’t translate into a problem. After all, I’m talking about making a demo tape, not doing a long babysitting bus tour.”
~ ~ ~

Those who enjoyed Corner Pride will likely enjoy The Spring of Unexpected Consequences, too.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Down Home Cook Books 2012

Visitors to the 2012 authors' tent will find some interesting down-home cookbooks available. Two cookbook authors returning from last year will be Libby Bondurant and Peggy Shifflett.

Libby will have copies of her popular Grazing Along the Crooked Road, a collection of recipes and the stories behind them from along the 253-mile long SW Virginia's music heritage trail, the Crooked Road. A sample recipe is here. UPDATE: Libby will be unable to attend because of another commitment.

Peggy will have copies of Mom's Family Pie: Memories of Food Traditions and Family in Appalachia (as well as her other two books). Peggy's book is a collection of family recipes and the stories behind them. This year, Peggy's sister-in-law Hilda will join her. Hilda will be selling some of her baked goods featured in the book.

Even though Charles Lytton's memoir, The New River: bonnets, apple butter, and moonshine, isn't exactly a cookbook, it has plenty of down-home recipes. Plus, he'll have his new book, The Cool Side of the Pillow, with him.

Charles Lytton at the 2012 Galax festival

Another book with both stories and recipes is Franklin County True Stories, Letters, and Recipes from the Grapevine, by Edith Sigmon and Beverly Merritt. Folks who enjoy local history should find this book interesting.

New to this year's festival will be the Sweet Potatoes ladies from Winston-Salem, NC, with their cookbook, Well, Shut My Mouth! UPDATE: The Sweet Potatoes will be unable to attend because of family illness.

These authors of the cookbook, who have a restaurant in Winston-Salem, were also at Galax.

They were a big hit at Galax, where did a cooking demo and had samples of their sweet potato biscuits. 

A few more cookbooks might also be available at the festival. Y'all stop by on September 29 and have a taste of what's available.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Authors Tent: Appalachian fiction

The authors' tent at Mountain Spirits is filling up. Many authors will have books about regional history or memoirs about growing up in the region.  Michael Abraham—who was at the 2011 festival with his books Harmonic Highways; Union, WV; and The Spine of the Virginias—will have his novel, Providence, VA, with him this year.

Set in a tiny town not far from Fries, Providence, VA might be classified as  Appalachian dystopian fiction with an element of magical realism. When an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronic gizmos all along the East coast, chaos reigns.

Seventeen-year-old Samantha Reisinger, a classical violinist who recently expanded her repertoire to include traditional Appalachian music, finishes her set on the stage at the Galax Fiddlers Convention, just as the lights and sound go out. Soon folks find that their cars won't start, cellphones won't work, and anything else electronic is dead. Sammmy's ride back to New Jersey has already gone and her parents are in Paris, so she is stuck. However, Quint's old truck has no electronic parts and it still runs. He invites Sammy and several others—including Jamaal, a black professor/banjo player—to ride with him home to the small rural town of Providence. He drops several locals off along the way and arranges for Jamaal to stay with Emily, a midwife. Sammy stays with Quint and his reclusive wife, who spends most of her time away from the house and rarely speaks.

Sammy, used to a wealthy lifestyle, learns to adapt to living in an old farmhouse, which at least has an outdoor pump, a woodstove, and an outhouse.  Many in the area do not fare as well. There are many deaths—including some murders and suicides. There is little available food, except what folks have grown themselves. Except for midwife Emily and a local herbalist, there is no medical care. There is also little protection from thieves and murderers. And therein lies the story

Providence, VAbecause of its adult themes, language, violence, and sexual content—isn't for young people. However, Abraham's premise is intriguing, and those who've wondered what would happen if our way of life suddenly ended will find his ideas compelling. You can read some sample chapters here.

While Michael will not be able to attend this year's festival, his books—including this one—will be for sale in the Authors Tent.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Plans Underway for 2012

The 2012 Mountain Spirits Festival will be held in downtown Rocky Mount on September 29 from 10 AM until 3 PM.