Diane Chamberlain Author Event

Hearing a published author speak is one of my favorite things to do. I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Diane Chamberlain yesterday afternoon at the Ashe County Public Library in West Jefferson, North Carolina. Her appearance was part of the annual Ashe County Arts Council’s On the Same Page Book Festival.

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View of downtown West Jefferson, NC from the Ashe County Public Library in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Chamberlain said that her books are “part suspense, part mystery, and 100% family drama.” She quoted a Japanese fan who wrote, “You make me believe life is beautiful even if it is full of pain and rage.”

As is the case with most authors, Ms. Chamberlain’s publishing journey was tough. She said that a writer needs three things in order to get published:  “talent, perseverance, and luck.” She started writing her first novel in 1981, but it was not published until 1989. She kept writing and finally got lucky in 2008. Her book, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, was chosen as the Target Book Club Book one month which meant it was prominently displayed in every Target store.

Also in 1981, the wife of a United Kingdom publisher visited Ms. Chamberlain’s publisher in the U.S. and requested a book to read on her flight back to England. The book she was handed was the CeeCee Wilkes book. After reading it on her way home, she told her husband that he had to publish it in the U.K. She has been published in the U.S. and the U.K. ever since.

Each of Ms. Chamberlain’s books is different. She enjoys finding the perfect setting for each of her novels and draws from her own life experiences, including her education and first career in the field of psychology. I found it interesting that she occasionally asks her fans on the Diane Chamberlain Readers Facebook page to suggest names for characters or locations. She related an amusing story about how for a while she got ideas for male characters by going on an online dating site.

I’ll save some of Ms. Chamberlain’s comments about her 2015 novel, Pretending to Dance, for my blog post in a couple of weeks after Rocky River Readers Book Club meets to discuss the book.

Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read — perhaps one of Diane Chamberlain’s best-selling novels.


Disclaimer: I attended this event and wrote this blog post on my own volition and received no compensation for endorsing Diane Chamberlain’s books.

On the Same Page Literary Festival

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I attended the On the Same Page Literary Festival in West Jefferson, North Carolina last Friday. In my last post I blogged about getting to hear author Angela Davis-Gardner speak.

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When I visit a town to participate in an event to sell or publicize my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I try to patronize the local businesses. I always look for a locally-owned and -operated restaurant. On Friday I enjoyed lunch at the historic Tavern Hotel Restaurant in West Jefferson. The former hotel is pictured above.

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Later that afternoon I participated in the festival’s book fair. A dozen authors and Natalie Foreman, Associate Editor with McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, took part in the fair. I got to speak briefly with Ms. Foreman about an idea I have for a nonfiction book. More on that later, if it materializes. I had copies of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, available for  sale.

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I shared a table at the fair with author Maryrose Carroll. We had interesting conversation about writing, the benefits of being in a local writers group, self-publishing, and politics. Ms. Carroll was selling and signing her book, Beats Me: Love, Poetry, Censorship from Chicago to Appalachia. That’s Maryrose Carroll and me chatting at our table in the photo below.

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I sent a query letter to a publishing house today. I’ll keep you posted.

Angela Davis-Gardner, Author

I had the pleasure of hearing Angela Davis-Gardner, Author, speak at the 2015 Ashe County On the Same Page Book Festival in West Jefferson, NC on September 18, 2015. A Distinguished Professor Emerita at North Carolina State University, Ms. Davis-Gardner lives in Raleigh, NC. She spoke, took questions from the audience, and signed books at the Ashe County Public Library.

Author Angela Davis-Gardner, signing one of her novels for Marie Morrison
Author Angela Davis-Gardner, signing one of her novels for Marie Morrison

Ms. Davis-Gardner has won acclaim for her four novels. Butterfly’s Child is her imaginings about the life of the son of Madama Butterfly and Lt. Pinkerton after Madama Butterfly committed suicide.

Plum Wine, is set in 1960s Japan. Ms. Davis-Gardner drew heavily from her first-hand knowledge of that country in which she lived while in her twenties.

Forms of Shelter follows a piedmont North Carolina dysfunctional family.

Felice is the story of a girl who grew up in a convent in Nova Scotia in the 1920s after her parents drowned in a shipwreck.

Having written Plum Wine and Felice out of family stories with which she grew up, Ms. Davis-Gardner was shocked to recently learn that her family lore was not altogether true. It was fascinating to hear her tell those stories and then reveal the truth. Hers is quite an amazing story.

I look forward to reading all four of Angela Davis-Gardner’s novels!

Sometimes life gets in the way

Sometimes life gets in the way and derails my plans. Throughout a house remodeling project this summer, I found little time to read or write. Planned blog postings did not get written. It seemed that everything I wanted to do or intended to do got postponed to the next day, or the next week, or the next month, or even to next year. The work is complete; however, it will take several weeks to unpack, locate some items, and get everything situated. It is exhausting!

It occurred to me early in the remodeling process that I should blog about living in the chaos and uncertainty of construction, but by the end of each day I was too tired to put words together into coherent sentences. I am not a “morning person,” so blogging first thing in the morning was never an option. Subcontractors arrived as early as 7:00 a.m. and worked as late as 8:00 p.m. No two days were alike.

I met the July 20 deadline for the Ashe County, NC, “On the Same Page” creative nonfiction competition. I came in just under the wire on July 19. My entry was a 995-word piece about the experiences of a World War II veteran. The theme of the contest was “telling stories.” The winner will be announced on August 31. I intended to also enter the fiction contest. By the time I settled on an idea, though, there was not enough time to do the story justice. I’ll keep the idea for another time and venue.

No time spent writing or honing one’s writing skills is wasted.