Rowan Reading Rendezvous in Salisbury, NC

Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Rowan Reading Rendezvous, sponsored by the Friends of the Rowan County Public Library in Salisbury, North Carolina. It was a wonderful event with many North Carolina authors. I got to hear three authors speak and had the opportunity to talk with several others.

A.J. Mayhew spoke about her first novel, The Dry Grass of August. I never tire of hearing her talk about her insights and experiences as a writer. Be on the lookout for the release of her second novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.

Robert Inman spoke about his most recent novel, The Governor’s Lady, as well as some of his experiences. Many of us in the Charlotte area remember him as “Bob” Inman, a news anchor at WBTV before his writing career took off.

Dot Jackson entertained the audience with her humor and storytelling skills. She told the story behind her novel, Refuge, set in Appalachia and shared how difficult it can be to get a book published. Dot Jackson wrote for The Charlotte Observer for many years and was nominated several times for The Pulitzer Prize.

Other authors spoke in the afternoon, but I could not stay any longer. It was a really fun event! I look forward to attending it again next year. Thank you, Friends of the Rowan County Public Library!

Mark de Castrique at Book Club

Mark de Castrique was the guest speaker Monday night at the February meeting of Rocky River Readers Book Club at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. I heard him speak at the public library in Mint Hill, North Carolina two or three years ago and was delighted for the opportunity to hear him speak again.

The book club’s book this month was one of Mr. de Castrique’s earlier books, The Fitzgerald Ruse. F. Scott Fitzgerald spent time at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, so that is the novel’s connection with Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. de Castrique has a talent for taking a tidbit of a true story and weaving a fictionalized story around it using the back drop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He is a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, so he has a familiarity and understanding of the region and its wealth of stories.

Since I am a writer and an aspiring novelist, I was particularly interested in hearing Mr. de Castrique from a writer’s point of view. He offered a number of pointers for those of us who wish to improve our fiction writing skills. Some I have heard before but it is always helpful to hear them again.

1. Write what you know.

2. Avoid information dumps.

3. Have a character ask questions in order to get information conveyed.

4. Add background information here and there in the book.

5. If I, as the author, am not interested in what happens to my characters, that’s a good indication that readers won’t care what happens to them either.

6. Hang in there and write what you can each day. That page or two per day will eventually be a 400-page manuscript.

7. Every book has a theme. You might not know what the theme is when you begin, but you should know in the end. At that time, you can go back and add foreshadowing and details that reinforce the theme.

8. No one wants to be preached to in a novel.

9. Life doesn’t have to make sense, but a novel must make sense.

10. One reason people like fiction is because it has to be plausible. Life isn’t always plausible.

If you haven’t read any of Mark de Castrique’s books, I highly recommend that you give them a try. You will be entertained while learning something about the rich history of the mountains of North Carolina.

Georgann Eubanks’ Literary Trails books

I had the privilege of hearing Georgann Eubanks speak yesterday at the annual meeting of the Concord Friends of the Library, Inc. Ms. Eubanks is the author of three wonderful guides to literary North Carolina.

Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains: A Guidebook, published in 2007 by The University of North Carolina Press, was the first of these guidebooks to be completed. In 2010, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook, was published. It was followed in 2013 by Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina: A Guidebook. The books include maps to make it convenient to enjoy segments of the “trails.”

Ms. Eubanks gave an overview of Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook, at the public library in downtown Concord yesterday. She is an entertaining speaker, and she sprinkled her remarks with many little-known facts about famous authors and poets who had connections with the piedmont section of North Carolina.

It was a fun library event followed by lunch with my sister at the Cuban Carolina Cafe in Concord. I enjoyed my first Cuban hamburger.

Announcing release of my friends’ book: Unthinkable Choice

I am pleased to announce that Unthinkable Choice, by Sampson and Lee Ann Parker was released on September 16, 2014. Sampson’s hand was caught in a piece of farm equipment on September 11, 2007, and he had to make the “unthinkable choice” to try to get free of the machinery as it was catching on fire. He lost his right arm. This book is Sampson and his wife’s story about the accident and its aftermath. Please go to or Barnes & Noble and buy their book. Their story will make you realize how precious life is and how your life can turn in a split second.

Planning a book tour

Every day brings a new experience. I’m putting together my first book tour in the mountains of North Carolina. I’ve selected nine public libraries to contact. Speaking about my book is going to take me way out of my comfort zone, but I need to do it!

Amy Clipston gave a very interesting presentation on Monday night at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. She told us about how she is able to write Amish fiction without being Amish. She also talked about the journey her family took through the process of kidney transplantation. She is one busy and gracious lady! Check out her books and her website:

Amy Clipston author event tonight!

If you live in the Harrisburg/Concord area, come out tonight for an Amy Clipston speaking engagement hosted by Rocky River Readers Book Club at Rocky River Presbyterian Church, 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC at 7:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Amy is a Christian fiction writer who specializes in writing Amish fiction. Even if you haven’t read any of Amy’s books, come out tonight to hear her speak. She will also have her books for sale.

Amy Clipston at Friends of the Harrisburg Library

Last night I had the privilege of hearing author Amy Clipston speak. She was the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Harrisburg (NC) Library.

Amy has written numerous Amish fiction books and YA books. I eagerly await the release of A Mother’s Secret, the sequel to A Hopeful Heart. These books are in her Heart of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series.

Amy has also written The Gift of Love, about the journey she and her husband took through organ donation. I am at the top of the waiting list for it at the library.

Check out Amy’s website to learn more about her and her books. And if you aren’t a member of a local Friends of the Library organization, inquire about it at your public library.