Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 5, 2013

We had perfect weather for the 3rd Annual Mountain Spirits Festival. Here are some—but not all—of the folks in the Authors Tent: Marian McConnell, author of The Murder Hole, was an early arrival who had time to practice her guitar.

Another early arrival, Veronica Church, had moonshine shirts in jars.

James Nagy, author of Franklin County, displays a poster of some of Rocky Mount's historic sights. Rumor has it that he might have a new book in time for next year's festival.

Dwight Hayes had his book, Banished From Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as his photos on display. Fellow photographer Bill Mitchell stopped by to check out Dwight's old camera.

Here's a closer look.

Lots of folks looked through the camera.

Dwight's photos were certainly eye-catching.

Lots of folks tried to identify some of the people in the photographs below.

Pam Hain sang with Ladies of the Lake again this year, but this was the first time she was in the tent with her latest book, Murder in the State Capital.

The Lake Writers have been in this spot for the last three years. Sally Roseveare and Mike Davis have attended all three festivals, but Kim Dalferes—author of I Was in Love with a Short Man Once—was a newcomer.

JoAnne Anderson (Noble Spirit) was also a newcomer, but Barbara Roberts (What a Christmas!) was a returnee.

Another novelist and newcomer was Pamala Warren (The Recital). 

Tina Hanlon and Cara Modisett have also been here before. Tina had a wonderful display of Appalachian literature, and Cara had books (Blue Ridge Parkway Impressions and CDs.

Behind Cara's books was another newcomer, Otis Lee, Jr. (and his wife Michelle), from Earlysville. He's a first time author with his memoir/family history, From South Boston to Cambridge Lawyer.

To the left of Otis is returnee Ginny Brock, with By Morning's Light. Left of Ginny is Rocky Mount resident Ray Keys, who was very helpful with assisting the authors. Behind the red tablecloth was another Lake Writer here for the first time—Fred Waddell, who wrote What Colleges and Universities don't Want You to See.

Jean Schaeffer, another first-timer to the festival, had her late father's history/memoir, This Pleasant Land, a well as her own book, She Came with "Only One Suitcase." She'll have another book ready for next year.

Aaron McAlexander, another newcomer, had his two memoirs, Will the last One Leaving Mayberry Please Turn Out the Lights and So Much to Learn. His wife Glenda brought some of her  beautiful pottery. Festival committee-woman Betty Huffman checks out Aaron's book, while another newcomer, Franz Beisser (Red Solstice) looks on.

Here I am at my display . . .  and visiting with Otis Lee.

The oldest author at the festival was Lillian Hannabass Howell (Life with Charlie), who shared a table with her son, Tom Howell.

Not only people were under the tent, but so were some dogs. Joanne Anderson brought her two labs:

 Two charming sheltie therapy dogs visited. Since they participate in a reading to dogs program, they were right at home among books.

They visited with Morris Stephenson (A Night of Makin' Likker) and his wife Hazel.

A chocolate lab also came through the tent.  

Returning for the third year, was Sally Roseveare's King, who appears in her Smith Mountain Lake murder mysteries. Unlike the other labs in the tent, King isn't a real dog.

Many of the folks who were in the tent will be back next year. Y'all come see us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Updates 2013

. . . a listing of who's who—and where—in art and literature

A story in Monday's Franklin News-Post gives a good overview of the festival.

Near the Artisan Center Along the Crooked Road will be these artists and crafters: Dixie Young, Jessica Altice, Marie Lordi, John Davidson, Shanna Fields, Carol Yopp, Lorraine Roe, Virginia Shirley, Tom Shirley, Robert Iuppa, Sherrie Mitchell, Nancy Hodges, and William Mitchell.

A few authors have had to cancel because of illness or schedule conflicts. However, barring emergencies, the following authors still plan to be in the Authors Tent in the municipal parking lot on Claiborne Street:

Becky Mushko: Stuck, Ferradiddledumday, The Girl Who Raced Mules, Peevish Advice, Patches on the Same Quilt, Where There's A Will—fiction
Curtis Nestor: Faith Will Keep You Afloat, Trails to Triumph, America—Dawn to Dusk—inspirational
Marian McConnell: The Murder Hole
Morris Stephenson (and friends): A Night of Makin' Likker—moonshine history
Rex Stephenson: Jack Tales—scripts
Tina Hanlon: AppLit info
Franz Beisser: Time and Place: The Making of an Immigrant, Red Solstice: an MIA's Hell, Lust and Life
Beverly Merritt's books will be here, although she is unable to attend: The Untold Story of the Clement-Witcher Feud, Franklin County True Stories, Letters and Recipes from the Grapevine, and otherslocal history
Dwight Hayes: Banished and photographs of local/regional scenes
Michael Abraham is unable to attend, but his books will be a Dwight Hayes' table.
Shea LeMone: Corner Pride, The Spring of Unexpected Consequences
Kimba Dalferes: I Was In Love With a Short Man Once—memoir
Avis Turner: In the Land Where Fairies Cried—memoir
Ginny Brock: By Morning’s Light—non-fiction
James Nagy: Franklin County—history
Joanne M. Anderson: A Noble Spirit—fiction
Veronica Church: moonshine shirt in jar—merchandise
Mike Davis: Blind Consent, Forgotten Children, Tainted Hero, and others—fiction/suspense
Sally Roseveare: Secrets at Spawning Run, Secrets at Sweetwater Cove—SML mysteries
Jean Schaefer (for Max Thomas): This Pleasant Land—history/memoir
Pam Hain: Murder in the State Capitol: The Biography of Lt. Col. Robert Augustus Alston (1832-1879); A Confederate Chronicle: The Life of a Civil War Survivor) history
Aaron McAlexander: Will the Last One Leaving Mayberry Turn Out the Lights; So Much to Learn, So Little Time—memoir (plus his wife will have some of her pottery)
Cara Modisett: Blue Ridge Parkway Impressions, Blue Ridge Parkway – Celebration
Tom Howell: Lillian Howell’s memoir, Life With Charlie
Barbara Roberts: What a Christmas!, Not in Your Wildest Dreams—fiction
Otis Lee: From South Boston to Cambridge. . .—memoir with ancestor info, Halifax Co. info
Rodger Doss: Shine—fiction
Pamala Warren: The Recital—fiction
Fred Waddell: What Colleges And Universities Don't Want You To See—non-fiction

Near the Authors Tent will be a Storyteller Tent. Some of the authors and some members of Toastmasters will tell stories throughout the festival.

There'll also be food,  music, and children's games.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Appalachian Stories

. . . for kids and older folks, too!

Think of Appalachian literature and the Jack Tales come to mind. Not only will North Carolina author Lynn Salsi be in the Authors Tent with some of her Jack Tale books, but she'll also tell a Jack Tale or two in the Storytellers Tent, which right next to the Authors Tent. Lynn will have her latest book, the award-winning Jack and the Giants, as well as several of her other books.

UPDATE: Because of her husband's surgery, Lynn Salsi will be unable to appear at this year's festival.

Rex Stephenson, who established the Jack Tale Players at Ferrum College back in 1975 will also tell a Jack Tale or two—and he'll have some of his Jack Tale scripts for sale in the Authors Tent. (You'll have to at Mountain Spirits Festival early to see him; Rex will have to leave at noon for a rehearsal.)

Tina Hanlon, a Ferrum College professor who maintains the AppLit website, an extensive collection of resources for readers and teachers of Appalachian literature, will have handouts about the AppLit site. Parents of homeschooled children might want to stop by and talk to Tina.

Becky Mushko will have Ferradiddledumday, an Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin tale. An early version of Ferradiddledumday, with drawings by Ferrum Elementary School students as well as a study guide, is posted on AppLit. 

If you're looking for Appalachian stories, look no farther than the Authors Tent on October 5, 2013.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Inspirational Books

If you're looking for inspiration, the Authors Tent will  have several books you might enjoy.

If you're looking for non-fiction, former pastor Curtis Nester will have three books this year: Faith will Keep You Afloat, Trails to Triumph, and his new book, America—Dawn to Dusk.

 Two novelists will have books that readers might find inspirational—and that both young people and older readers will enjoy. JoAnne M. Anderson will be at Mountain Spirits for the first time with A Noble Spirit. According to JoAnne's website, "It’s a horse story for all ages. The characters are fictional, and Noble, Cash, Kazi and Paloosa are real and true to their equine names, breeds and personalities."

The novel isn't just a horse story—it's a story of people overcoming challenges in their lives. "Against the back drop of a renovated horse farm where an Afghanistan war veteran (Lt. Col. Paul R. Silverton) begins his first civilian job and a girl (Mandy) befriends a horse (Noble), the reader takes a peek into the lives and challenges of everyday people. You’ll meet someone you know in the pages—a friend, neighbor, colleague, school pal or relative." This is a good book for the whole family to read and discuss.

Two more good books for the whole family to read (but especially mothers and daughters) are Barbara Roberts' Christian fiction books,  What a Christmas! and its sequel, Not in My Wildest Dreams.


If you didn't take a look at Barbara's books at last year's festival, you might want to do so this year.

The above books aren't the only inspirational books you'll find in the Authors Tent, but they're a good representation of what you might find in the Authors Tent on October 5.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Murder She Wrote

If you're a fan of murder mysteries or true crime or both, in the authors' tent on Oct. 5, you'll likely find a book that interests you.

Some authors will have books involving actual murders. Pamela Chase Hain (who will also be singing at the festival with Ladies of the Lake) will have Murder in the State Capitol: The Biography of Lt. Col. Robert Augustus Alson (1832-1879). Read more about Hain and her book in this article from Laker Weekly.


a collection of 25 stories of murders committed in Mount Airy from 1892-1976.
UPDATE: Donna G. Smith will be unable to make it to this year's festival.

Was a murder actually committed in the "Murder Hole" in Catawba, VA? You can read some of the legends in a Roanoke Times article here. Or you can buy the book from author Marian McConnell, who owns the property on which the infamous cave is located. The Roanoke Star published this article about the book in March.  

As for fiction, Sally Roseveare (mentioned in an earlier post) writes Smith Mountain Lake murder mysteries, and she'll have both her novels with her on October 5—Secrets at Spawning Run and Secrets at Sweetwater Cove. She's currently working on her third book in the series. Maybe she'll have that one in 2014.


Not only can you buy books at the festival, but you can also talk to the authors about why they wrote their books.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Memoirs 2013

The authors' tent features a lot of books about local and regional history. Sometimes this history is up-close and personal—the authors have either lived it or folks they know lived it. If you're looking for this kind of personal perspective on history, you're in luck—a lot of our authors have published memoirs of their lives in the Blue Ridge region.

Some authors are returning from last year: Tom Howell will again have his mother's memoir, Life With Charlie, which chronicles Lillian Hannabass Howell's memories of growing up in Moneta before the lake was built. Charles Lytton will have his three books about growing up on River Ridge: New River: bonnets, apple butter, and moonshine,  The Cool Side of the Pillow, and The View From the White Rock. Oma Boyd will not only have Round This Mountain, but also a new collection of mountain stories, Blue Ridge Shadows. Avis Turner will have In the Land Where Fairies Cried Tears of Stone, her grandmother's memories of growing up in the Patrick County/Henry County area.

Peggy Shifflett will return for the third year with her four memoirs of growing up in Appalachia: The Red Flannel Rag, Mom's Family Pie, The Living Room Bed, and On the Way to Tow Town. And we'll have some moonshine memories too—Morris Stephenson will have his popular A Night of Makin' Likker book and he'll be accompanied by Jack Allen Powell, who'll have some of his memoirs of being an agent. At his table, Morris will also have a few other buddies who'll be glad to tell you their moonshine stories.

We'll also have some authors making their first visit to Mountain Spirits. Retired physicist Aaron McAlexander will have his two memoirs, The Last One Leaving Mayberry and So Much to Learn. (There really used to be a Mayberry in SW Virginia. Aaron spent time there with his grandparents when he was a child. He attended the Meadows of Dan School where there was so much to learn.)

Otis L. Lee, Jr., a retired attorney from the Charlottesville area, will have his print copies of his brand new e-book memoir, From South Boston to Cambridge: The Making of One Philadelphia Lawyer. Lee, who can trace his family back to Patrick Moon of Halifax County in 1795, dedicates his book "to all the forgotten and unsung members of the Lee, Penick, Williams, and Moon family." In his memoir, Lee traces his family history, tells of his childhood in Charlottesville in the 1960s, and tells many of his personal accomplishments.

Finally, Jean Schaeffer will have copies of This Pleasant Land, written by her late father, Max S. Thomas. While this book is about area history, it's also memoir of a sort.

The book, a 250-year history of the Franklin, Floyd, and Patrick County border areas is based on stories that Thomas heard from his elders while he was growing up. As Max Thomas wrote: 

“I am a fifth-generation descendant of the first settlers in this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have lived all of my life on the same piece of land on a high plateau on the Floyd–Franklin County line in southwestern Virginia. Since I was a boy, I have been told stories about my ancestors and their neighbors, men and women who came to and lived in a pleasant and rugged land during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No matter who told the stories, they were always the same. It is also my story, for I was born in 1908 and witnessed events through most of the twentieth century, including the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1930s. . . . So in 1997 at age 89, I began writing this history in longhand.”

If you enjoy regional history and mountain memoirs, you'll enjoy visiting with some of the authors under the big tent.

Monday, July 22, 2013


While a lot of books at the 2013 Mountain Spirits Festival will be regional history and memoir, some will be fiction. Here are some—but not all—of the novels you'll find under the Authors Tent. (Clicking the title takes you to the book's Amazon page; clicking the author's name takes you to his or her website.)

Three books in the above picture are new this year—Don Fink's Escape to the Sky, Franz Beisser's Red Solstice, and Joanne M. Anderson's A Noble Spirit—and all three authors will be visiting the festival for their first time.

Several authors are returnees. Charles Shea Lemone will have his Corner Pride and The Spring of Unexpected Consequences. Barbara Roberts will also return with What a Christmas! and Not in my Wildest Dreams.

Another group of returning authors have novels are set in the area or have settings inspired by the area. Sally Roseveare's two murder mysteries, Secrets at Spawning Run and Secrets of Sweetwater Cove, take place at Smith Mountain Lake. While Sally mentions some real places in her novel, the subdivisions where her main characters live are fictional. Becky Mushko's Patches on the Same Quilt is set in Penhook and her middle grade novel Stuck is partially set in Union Hall, but Rocky Mount and Bridgewater Plaza are also mentioned. Susan Coryell's cozy mystery A Red, Red Rose is set at Moore Mountain Lake, which bears a strong resemblance to Smith Mountain Lake. Rodger Doss's Shine is set in various places in Franklin County.

If you're looking for fiction, surely you'll find something you'll like at Mountain Spirits Festival. Stop by the tent, chat with the authors, and take a look at their books.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Moonshine Memories

At least two authors at the 2013 Mountain Spirit Festival will have books involved with spirits. Moonshine, that is. Both authors are excellent spinners of yarns.

One is Morris Stephenson, who was taking orders for his moonshine memoir in the authors tent last year. This year, he'll have the book, A Night of Makin' Likker.

A Night of Makkin' Likker recounts Stephenson's adventures with both revenuers and moonshiners. As a reporter for the Franklin County newspaper, he was sometimes asked to accompany agents when they destroyed a still. Many of the pictures in his book were taken to illustrate the news stories he wrote about the raids. Because he had developed a rapport with both sides of the law, sometimes moonshiners themselves told him stories or showed him their operations. Many pictures of these adventures are in A Night of Makkin' Likker.

If you stop at his table to chat with him, odds are good Morris Stephenson will tell you a few moonshine tales. If you don't have his book and you're interested in Franklin County history, you'll want to get a copy.

Morris Stephenson chats with Rex Stephenson
 at 2012 Mountain Spirits Festival.
Update: Charles Lytton will be unable to attend this year's festival.
The other teller of tales is Charles Lytton, a true Appalachian (which he will tell you is Apple-LATCH-un, not Apple-LAY-shun) who will have his latest book, The View from the White Rock, at the 2013 Mountain Spirits Festival. The book has several references to moonshine, both drinking and buying.

Lytton at the Salem Museum.
Note another Apple-LATCH-un author in the background.

Lytton, who was a hit at the first two Mountain Spirits Festivals, will also have copies available of his two previous books about growing up on River Ridge: New River: bonnets, apple butter, and moonshine and  The Cool Side of the Pillow. Both are filled with good stories, some of which are a little far-fetched even though Lytton swears they're true. All three books are delightful down-home looks at Lytton's sometimes rough and rugged boyhood and early manhood along the New River.

One of his chapters is titled "You Can Get Killed About Anywhere," but a lot of the other chapters involve Lytton's taking risks, having hair-raising adventures, and escaping bad situations. In "Diana's First Airplane Ride and maybe My Last," he recounts when an amateur pilot took him and his daughter for a ride in a small plane on a very cold day. The kid loved it; Lytton felt lucky to return alive. In "The Same House, But There was no Ham," he tells of having to heed the call of nature before dawn while squirrel hunting and locating a nearby outhouse (p.132):

Of course, in The View from the White Rock, Lytton mentions many of his buddies who shared his escapades, moonshine, molasses-making, and trucks. In "Damn, Them Old Trucks Would Run Like a Skeert Hant," he recounts an adventure hauling heifers to the Narrows livestock market, looking for cheap liquor with his buddies, and injuring his arm when the driver swerves a little too close to a tree. "How to Unload a Sow Hog" also involves trucks, livestock, and drinking—all the stuff of good Appalachian yarns. And there are a lot more.

Charles Lytton with Books at 2012 Galax Festival
Lytton might have a college degree or two, but it hasn't hurt his ability to tell a good down-home story. If you like down-home Apple-LATCH-un stories, you'll want to take a look at his books—or at least set a spell and talk to Lytton.

Parts of the info about Charles Lytton were appeared in this blog post: