Friday, March 17, 2017

Poetry with Karen Holmes in 2017

 Have a Little Fun and Learn Something, Too: The Poetry of Thomas Lux

Karen Holmes will teach a three hour workshop July  15, 2017. Karen is an excellent poet as well as a teacher of  poetry.

I enjoyed a class with Karen at John C. Campbell Folk School earlier this year. We discussed  lyrics, listened to music and then wrote poems or lyrics. She  has taught at my studio in the past and everyone enjoys her workshops. She has been a good friend of mine for more than ten years.

Karen has her own business but finds time to facilitate a poetry critique group in Atlanta where she lives most of the time. She also has a house in Hiawassee, GA on Lake Chatuge. Once each month, except in winter, she holds an Open Mic in Blairsville, GA.

Her poetry collection, Untying the  Knot, has been highly praised with excellent reviews. The knot that Karen was untying was her marriage of over 30 years. I like that this book is filled with the pain she felt and still endures at times, but also includes humorous poems. I was one of many read this book through in one sitting. I could not put it down.

If you Google Karen Paul Holmes you will see page after page of her publications.

Staci Lynn Bell said, "I thoroughly enjoyed Karen's class. Karen was well organized and kept the class flowing. The exercises given were creative, structured and informative. Her passion and knowledge invaluable."

Put this on your 2017 calendar:
Click on Studio Schedule for complete class description

What: Have a Little Fun and Learn Something, too. The Poetry of Thomas Lux
Where: Writers Circle in Hayesville, NC
When: Saturday afternoon, July 15, 1 - 4 p,m

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Abbie Johnson, a person who gives

Wyoming writer, Abbie Johnson, makes me feel like a do-nothing person when I read all she does for others.  Her post today catches her readers up on what she has been up to. It was quiet in her town of Sheridan, she says, but see what she has been doing.

By the way, Abbie is blind.
For those of us who are not blind, are we giving of ourselves as she does? I don't have Abbie's beautiful voice and I don't play guitar, but I have talents to share with others. I do what I can to help writers but I do it from home, from my office and my computer. Abbie gets out and travels to nursing  homes and places where she brings joy to others. 

As I get older, I find more people showing kindness to me. Recently, as I left the grocery store, a former student of mine who published a delightful book, came out with me and asked if  he could put my groceries in my car. Before he left, he said, "If I can do anything for you at your house, call me. I can come over and take care of some chores for you." 

Gene is a sweet man who has always impressed me with his kind heart. I met him just after my husband's diagnosis of cancer. I taught my first writing class and before I dismissed I mentioned my husband's diagnosis. This kind man stood up and spoke to the students. "Be sure to keep this lady in your prayers," he said. "She has a hard time ahead." He didn't know me. I didn't know him.

I  turned to get into my car and then  I remembered. "Gene, I do  have something I need some help with." I asked him if  he would come and install a  couple of water filters for me. He is going to find what kind of filter I need for my pump and install it. 

How many people offer to just come over and do chores or fix things for us? I don't think many people do that, especially without being paid. 

I also have one of the best people on earth as a good friend. Her name is Mike. Sunday night I locked myself out of my bedroom. I never lock that door. I just pulled it shut, but  when I went back to open the door it would not open. I felt so helpless. It was Sunday and a locksmith would charge me extra to come out. I could not wait until Monday as I had to  leave home early for a trip to Atlanta. Also, and more importantly, my medications were in that room. 

After doing all I knew to do, I called Mike. I knew she would have an idea to help me. But after I took the doorknob off and still could not open the door, she came over to my house. Armed with a tiny tool and a spatula, Mike soon had my door opened. She didn't hesitate to take time to drive to my  house and open my door. She told me to buy another door knob and she would install it for me. No, Mike is not a carpenter or builder. She is an accomplished artist and writer. She has talents I could never imagine, and I call her superwoman. She is always willing to  help someone in need. 

But I digress. Abbie Johnson is a great role model for others. She lost her husband after a few years of marriage, and she became a caregiver soon after their wedding when Bill suffered a stroke. She has written about her experience. Visit her website and read her poems and hear her sing. 
You might want to order her books. She is an inspiration. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Storytelling at YHC, Young Harris, Georgia

I heard this is an event that everyone enjoys. I hope to go this year.

A Message from

Greetings, friends,
Are you ready for the 2017 Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival? It will be here in a month! We have a terrific schedule packed with storytelling sessions and workshops. You can see a draft of the schedule online at or at our ticket site:  http://2017gmsf.eventbrite,com.

  • We also have some special events new to the festival this year, including an open mic hour for anyone who wants to sign up to tell a story (and possibly win a prize).
  • A session on the life and works of Byron Herbert Reece put on by the Byron Herbert Reece Society
  • History's Alive presentation by Sheila Arnold Jones, one of our featured tellers. Sheila will give us an inside look at the early twentieth century through the eyes of famed African American author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. 

We're expanding our children't programming this year too with special stories and a workshop for the young and young at heart, a puppet show by the Mountain Regional Puppet Company, and a musical story (Kim Maerkl's "The Snake Charmer") presented in conjunction with the YHC Clarinet Summit.

There's much to enjoy, and we hope you can join us. If you haven't already purchased your tickets, early-bird ticket discounts end at midnight tonight:

If you're looking for a hotel, the Ridges Resort (5 minutes from the festival) is offering a discount on rooms; their rate is $99 per night plus taxes and fees.The manager says, "Please ask guests to call 888-834-4409 and state they are with the GA Mtn Storytelling Festival.  Once they do, then the reservationist will be able to give them the rate quoted." 

There is a Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Hiawassee,  GA,  which is 10 minutes from the venue. This is a good option. You might also consider the Comfort Inn in Blairsville, GA (10 minutes from the festival venue in the other direction).

We hope to see you in a month for two glorious days of storytelling!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing Class scheduled for June

I have been asked to teach a writing class this summer at my studio. I have given it a lot of thought and decided I could do an eight  hour course over four weeks.

Tuesdays work best for me, so I will hold a class from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, June 6 - June 27. 
In this class  we will write fiction or nonfiction, short stories or memoir, and discuss how  to write work that readers want to  read. We want our work to be entertaining and enjoyable. Nonfiction should be enlightening as well. We will learn how to do this. We will have  homework to bring to class to read and get feedback. Those who have taken my classes before know how much they enjoy the classes and how much they  learn. 

If you think you would  be interested in this class, let me know by email:

I try to  keep fees very reasonable. Fee for  this class is $35.00 
Minimum for class is five students.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Don't miss this writers conference in western NC

A Day for Writers - May 6, 2017 -
Jackson County Public Library, Sylva, NC
co-sponsored by the  library and the NCWN-West

A one day writing conference for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's literature, and anyone who wants to publish their writing. 
Visit: to learn more.

Click on this page with the Schedule for a Day for Writers. 

Look for the Registration Form on the sidebar under Pages. Copy and print this form. Complete and follow directions on the form. 

Outstanding presenters:
Terry Kay - award winning author whose books have been made into movies
Kathryn Stripling Byer - First woman poet laureate of NC and author of many books.
Gary Carden - playwright, storyteller, author 
Catherine Carter - poet and educator
Deanna Klingel - writer of books for young people
Tara Lynne Groth - writer, teacher, and expert on promoting your work online
Glenda Council Beall - writer, poet and teacher

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Paul Donovan , writer and poet, and my good friend

I am very sad today. My good friend, Paul Donovan, has  passed away. To those who received my email last night, there will not be a gathering at Parson's Pub  in Murphy today.

Paul was one of the most loyal members of our writing community and NCWN-West. He held a writing contest for many years for high school students in Cherokee County, NC. He served as our Cherokee County Representative and brought us  all together at ShoeBooties for readings each month. Like our present Writers Night Out, those were social gatherings as well.

Mary Ricketson, present Cherokee County Rep, told Paul about Reiki and how it might help him with his back pain, etc. That changed his life. He studied Reiki and became a Reiki Master. Soon he was teaching others, including my sister Gay. When Barry, my husband, was sick, Paul came out to our house and gave Barry Reiki treatments. He would not charge me for them.

He published his poetry in journals and in a book. I will post some of his poetry  here later. Paul took a couple of my memoir classes and wrote delightful stories of growing up in an Irish neighborhood in Pennsylvania. He made  some trips to Ireland and told me he would like to  live there. His stories about that country made me think I would like to live there also.,

He adored his beautiful wife, Ann, and my heart hurts for her today. Once again, I feel that life is too short and ends too suddenly. 

Gandi  said, "My life is my message." 
Paul has left us a good message by the way he lived his life. Be kind and generous, enjoy life and  love others. Persevere even when life is  difficult. And love dogs. He and I had great conversations about our dogs.

If only we all could live such a life.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The making of a Writers Conference

We have had some unseasonal weather, warm and almost spring-like, but maybe more snow on Sunday.

It is good weather for working indoors. Between de-cluttering or downsizing I have been busy for months working on the NCWN-West writers conference, A Day for Writers.

This one day conference will be chock-full of interesting information for writers. We have two headliners: Terry Kay, award-winning author of 17 novels who will  talk in two sessions on writing fiction. Visit his website to see what this man has done in his life. He has had a phenomenal career. Three of his books were made into movies by the Hallmark channel. 

Kathryn Stripling Byer is our other headliner. She is not only an outstanding poet, she is the first woman to be selected as Poet Laureate of North Carolina. Read about her achievements and on her website

Putting together a conference like this takes hours of time and it doesn't happen quickly. I enlisted some of our members of NCWN-West for ideas. They were helpful. My job then was to contact people, see if they were interested in coming and make them an offer I hoped they would accept. 

Some writers and poets volunteered to speak and some I contacted said they could not come for one reason or another. One of the novelists never responded to my e-mail. 

I am lucky that over the past twenty years working with our writing group in volunteer positions and as Program Coordinator, I met many, many writers. Some of them write children's books, some speak and teach freelance writing, and some are playwrights. I contacted the writers I thought would do a good job for us at our conference. I am very happy that we will have Deanna Klingel, Tara Lynne Groth, and storyteller, folklorist, and playwright, Gary Cardin on our program. 

Catherine Carter, outstanding poet and professor at Western Carolina University, is one of  our presenters, and she has been extremely helpful to me in planning this conference. Catherine's poetry is well-published and highly praised. Her books will be for sale at the conference, as will those of all our presenters. 

Few people realize the time it takes to organize and gather good presenters for a conference. Once I had the  names of those on the program, I had to figure out a schedule for the day. I also figure the budget and hope we have enough registrants to take care of our costs. 

With the  help of Joan Gage we have begun publicity on 
Our news about A Day for Writers will be published on our blog. 

Although the conference is five months away, all the details must be ready to publish soon so people can put this date on their calendars. My job includes finding volunteers who will help with registration, collect brochures, fill packets, alphabetize them with name tags to hand out the morning of the conference. We will need a volunteer to take charge of lunch, coffee all day  and pastries in the morning. So much goes on behind the scenes while we hope those attending have all they need to make their day as perfect as possible. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Can we protect the Arts?

Today I sent a request to the representatives and senators in North Carolina to vote against the new administration's supposed plans to cut funding for the arts. When Congress cuts funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, that cut trickles down to the states and the lack of grants and funds to support writers, visual artists, theater and music.

I know how important the arts are to children and to adults. Our state Arts organizations are funded by the national organization. Our NC Arts Association sends artists into schools so that children, even in rural areas like Hayesville, NC, can be taught and experience poetry or other arts by a professional writer, musician, or painter. How I would have enjoyed that as a  child.

I wanted to be a writer but I never met a real writer -- someone who published their work. Although I had an english teacher who suggested I submit a poem to a magazine, that was as far as it went. I had no one to encourage my education in writing. We met with a music teacher every few weeks. Mrs. Perry went from one elementary school to another where she played piano and taught us songs. We had no school theater for those who wanted to become actors or screenwriters.

When I hear about the opportunities for children to express their artistic talent today, I am thrilled for them. Our local schools offer a chance to learn how to  throw pots and the kids can be taught by a real potter. Poetry contests are held for students in NC whether in rural schools or city schools. All of these opportunities come from Arts funding to our schools. Our literary organization, NCWN-West often sponsors writing contests for students as well as adults. We are a non-profit and our parent organization, North Carolina Writers' Network, is partially funded by the NC Arts. 

I urge everyone who reads this post to contact your representatives in Congress and demand they not cut funding for the Arts. Support the Endowment for the Arts. If our country becomes only about corporations and big business with no thought to those people who bring us the joys of music and art, books to  read and plays to see, we will be a sad country indeed.