Saturday, June 23, 2018

A visit to Tom and Polly Davis' Tree House

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Tom Davis at his Tree House on the river. His wife Polly led me to the elevator, which I was happy to see, and we rode up to the living area of their beautiful home. I was enthralled with two special pieces of furniture. Tom said the colorful work was done by Bavarian artisanss. Tom spent thirty years in the military and while they lived in Germany, they acquired the large chests, and then had them turned into works of art.

Tom, publisher and owner of Old Mountain Press, took me to his compact office with a view of the tree tops in his shady front yard. I have known Tom for six or seven years, I think. I know I submitted to his early anthologies and was accepted. He publishes anthologies for poetry and short-short prose.
Some of our best known writers in western North Carolina and other parts of the state are included in these anthologies. 

I sent in a poem for Old Things, one of the most recent anthologies. When I received my copy of the book, I was delighted to see poetry by Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Celia Miles, novelist and successful writer, Nancy Dillingham, poet and co-editor of several anthologies with Celia Miles, local poets, Mary Ricketson, Staci Bell, Brenda Kay Ledford, and Martha O'Quinn as well as  many other poets and writers known throughout the state.

I watched Tom at work on his computer and found that even he, who seems to whiz through scanning, cropping and moving text says that changes in technology might tempt him to hang it up. He has been doing this since 1992. He doesn't want to have to buy new expensive equipment and spend hours learning new programs. It would be a shame for Tom to quit what he does so well.

He began publishing when he wrote his first book and decided not to go through traditional publishing protocol. He is a man who wants what he wants when he wants it. He laughed when he showed me his first book with too many mistakes. The mistakes were due to his lack of understanding on how to design a book. Today, his books are professional in appearance. When a novelist would like to keep more of her income from her books, she might decide to send her manuscript to Old Mountain Press instead of a traditional publisher. Tom helps her by designing the book, helping with the cover and choice of paper. He knows what would work on glossy paper and what might be better on matt or another choice. He formats the manuscript so it is ready for the printer and that takes time as well as experience.

He has published 600 page books, and he has published small poetry books. The author must be sure the manuscript is edited and as perfectly polished as it can be because Tom does not do editing.
He takes the manuscript sent to him and he makes it into a book. The author decides how many copies he wants and Tom sends it to one of two printers he prefers.

The author works with the printer on ISBN and barcode issues. Tom has a price for his work and the printer has a price as well. The author deals with both individually.

Tom urges writers to edit, edit and have their work edited until there are no mistakes that anyone can find. Don't send Old Mountain Press a manuscript that is not ready for print. His job is not to correct your writing, and if you want to make changes after the formatting takes place, the author will pay extra for every page that needs a change. This is important to remember.

I have often heard new writers or those who are just learning the craft say, "Don't worry about punctuation. That's what editors are for."  WRONG!

Editing is expensive and often an editor will turn down a request because the writing is poorly done and will require far too much time. A writer should learn the craft and work on his manuscript until every sentence is as near perfect as possible. A terrific book to have on hand when you begin to edit your work is Purge Your Prose of Problems by editor, Bobbie Christmas. Another book that is also helpful is Write in Style, also by Bobbie Christmas. I think they are must haves for writers, beginning or experienced.

Tom has stories of writers who have had 600 copies of their book published the first time and when the finished book was in the author's hands, the errors jumped out at him. But then it was too late. To correct those errors required starting over with a cleaned up manuscript or corrections Tom could make in his book design. Those corrections usually cost 2 - 3 dollars a page.

Tom Davis and Polly Davis have both written memoirs about the thirty years Tom served in the U.S. Army.
Both writers have a sense of humor. Any man who has served in the military will relate and enjoy Tom's tales, both serious and funny. I didn't think I would have any interest in a book called, The Most Fun I Ever Had With My Clothes On. I was wrong. While the military jargon was a bit much for me, I found other parts extremely interesting. Tom is from south Georgia, where I grew up, and Polly is from middle Georgia.

Comment about this book :
"Tom, I just finished your delightful book and my only regret is that it's over. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love your style of writing. Perhaps it is somewhat because I was a Navy wife for 4 years, but I didn't even mind the military jargon. It made the stories even more creditable. You have a natural born sense of humor, instinct for leadership, daring adventure, as well as writing. Polly's excerpt from her memoirs leaves me wanting more as well."

 Polly's memoir theme is the life of a military wife and it is well-written with humor and pathos. Stumbling Toward Enlightenment sets the reader smack into life with a man who travels all over the world as his career requires, the ups and downs, the challenges and the nutty things a wife does to prove she can, like jumping out of airplanes. We see how she has to cope with raising children, her own diagnosis of an illness, and doing much of it alone.

This is an excerpt from Polly's book:
R&R HAWAII: I could feel his eyes taking in those of us left huddled there as if trying to decide how to approach. Shuffling forward, he asked for a young woman by her husband’s name. The one standing next to me leaned into him and slumped. Like the one with the message was The Devil himself, the rest of us backed off. Arms around her shoulders, he led her off to a building nearby. Sure enough, her husband had been one of the unlucky ones. She’d be left to deal with it. I swallowed back tears. And wondered if she had children.

Readers, visit the Old Mountain Press website and read all the information Tom gives for those who want to self-publish. He can save writers from making huge mistakes. Self-Publishing takes work and is not as easy as it seems, but Tom helps make it as stress free as he can.

If you have self-published a book, let me hear from you. What is the title and how did you find the process?  Email: or leave a comment on this site.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Carol Crawford, in July, at Writers Circle around the Table

We are very happy to have Carol Crawford back with us at Writers Circle around the Table. She is an excellent writer and teacher or writing. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you will improve your writing and enjoy this class with Carol.  Email for registration instructions.

Carol Crawford - Instructor
date: Saturday, July 14
Time: 1:00 - 4:00 PM
Place: Writers Circle Studio in Hayesville, NC
Register now: Limit 10    Fee: $40

Read essay from a mother, Carol Crawford, at the link below:

More than a Pretty Face:  Prose Imagery that Works
  • Go beyond basic reporting in your writing to include the specific details that move the story forward.
  • Sketch a vivid picture without bogging down the narrative.  
  • Avoid familiar and predictable description.  
  • This workshop will bring your writing alive and help you include concrete, sensory details that do double duty by revealing the mood in the room or the desire of a protagonist. 
  • Step-by-step writing exercises will direct you to look at new aspects of your character (real or fictional) and create images that support the story you set out to tell.
  • Students are invited to submit up to five pages of prose work ahead of time for instructor feedback.
About Carol:
Carol Childers Crawford’s latest essay, “The Boy Who Brought Bolero,” will appear in the spring 2018 edition of She has also been published in the Southern Humanities Review, the Chattahoochee Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies among others. Her favorite thing to write is creative nonfiction. She is the owner of CarolCrawford Editing and author of The Habit of Mercy, Poems about Daughters and Mothers.
Carol likes bookstores, snowy days, needlepoint, dogs, and cats on a case-by-case basis. She teaches at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, Writers Circle, and the John C. Campbell Folk School. She has led workshops in Dahlonega, Carrollton, and Kennesaw Georgia. She is program director for the 20-year-old Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference. She and her husband live in the north Georgia mountains with two rescue mutts.

Carol says, “I was such a story addict as a kid, that I used to rewrite scripts for Alfred Hitchcock and the Twilight Zone when I didn’t like the endings.  It was my first – and only – fan fiction.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Evening, June 8, Writers' Night Out, don't miss Karen Holmes and Michelle Castleberry, headliners

Readers and Listeners are Welcome at Writers’ Night Out

If you live near enough to attend this reading, put this date on your calendar now: Friday, June 8, 7:00 PM. It will be here before we know it.
We, in our area, are fortunate to have Karen Paul Holmes who volunteers her time to hold this free event for writers every month. Come out and support writers with your presence. We all need each other as fellow writers whether we write poetry or prose, so think about others even if you don't read at Open Mic. I really like this poem by Michelle Castleberry.

Join us for dinner at the View Grill where we gaze across greens and blue mountains. We all succeed when we help others succeed. Now the details:

Published writers, Karen Paul Holmes and Michelle Castleberry, are the headliners for this month’s Writers’ Night Out. Following their reading is an open microphone where audience members can share their own poetry or prose. The event is free and open to the public and takes place at the Union County Community Center in Blairsville, GA, at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 8.

Michelle Castleberry

 Castleberry is a poet and social worker in north Georgia. Her works have appeared in publications including The Chattahoochee Review, Poemeleon, and The Anthology of Southern Poetry, and forthcoming in The Atlanta Review. Her book, Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems, was a finalist for the Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry, 2013. She is currently a fellow with The Makery at the Hindman Settlement School.
Karen Holmes
Karen Paul Holmes founded Writers’ Night Out eight years ago, because her Hiawassee home inspires her to write, and she likes to bring writers and readers together in a relaxed social setting.

Her second poetry collection, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) was just released.  Her first book was Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014), and writing credits include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, Huffington Post and many more, including business publications that regularly feature articles she writes as a freelance business writer. 
Holmes was named a Best Emerging Poet in 2016 by Stay Thirsty Media. She also teaches writing classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Writers Circle Around the Table, and other venues.

Anyone wishing to participate in the Writers’ Night Out open mic can sign up at the door to read three minutes of poetry or prose. The event is sponsored by North Carolina Writers’ Network-West. The Union County Community Center is located at Butternut Creek Golf Course at 129 Union County Recreation Rd., Blairsville, Georgia 30512, off Highway 129 near the intersection of US 76, phone (706) 439-6092.

 Food and drinks are available for purchase in The View Grill, but please arrive by 6 pm to get served.  For more information on Writers’ Night Out, contact Karen Holmes at (404) 316-8466 or

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Craft of Writing

My students at the ICL class going on at this time are already good writers. Those who studied with me in the past have improved and become quite knowledgeable about the craft.

I've been told that talented writers don't need to take writing classes. "If a person has talent, he shouldn't need to study writing."  Well, I disagree.

A person might be talented in visual arts - painting and drawing - but he needs help to learn about the colors and kinds of paint, the brushes he might need if he is painting a miniature instead of an 18 x 20 canvas. He might get this information from someone in a store or a friend, but somewhere he will need some help in the craft of painting.

Back in 1976, I decided to follow a goal of becoming a painter. I had not done any painting, so I found the perfect teacher for me. Her name was Verna. She was a fabulous teacher and I learned how to use oil paints, to use a fan brush, to use tools other than brushes for painting, how to create shimmering water and so much more. I enjoyed my classes and also enjoyed painting scenes from our farm in south Georgia.

Yes, talent is important, but it also takes time and perseverance to learn how to write. In my classes, I help my students make their stories entertaining as well as informative for the readers. How many want to read a book filled with facts that doesn't entertain us as well.

Two prompts I give my students to motivate them to write involve sketching. First I ask them to list all the houses they remember living in and then choose one to visit in detail. They draw an outline of the house and then draw in the rooms, just boxes on paper. The student goes through the house and in each space he notes the memories that come to him. In the kitchen he writes notes on who he sees there and what he smells and hears in that room. He goes on through this house and each room provokes memories of people and events that happened to him at a certain age.

One drawing like this will bring on a flood of memories that beg to be told. My mother is gone now, but I can see her in the kitchen making biscuits. I can see and smell the food, hear the radio playing in the other room just loud enough for Mother to keep up with the game show.

To be a good writer one must read, and I suggest read what you like to write. After taking classes, we learn to read in a different way. When we begin to read like writers we see so many things in books that surprise us, that open our eyes to what the author is saying, and that we remember.

Wherever you live, try to find a good writing teacher and good classes where you can grow and expand your own work.  Ask at the library or a local college. We need the right tools to write well. Sometimes taking one class will motivate a writer to jump in and begin that novel or memoir she has always wanted to write.

Estelle Rice and I read from our forthcoming book at CWPW.

Estelle Rice and I read from our forthcoming book, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, today at Coffee with the Poets and Writers. I was delighted to see the large audience and to see that they enjoyed the stories and poems. I read "How to Bridle an Uncooperative Horse" which has been published elsewhere.
Our writing organization, North Carolina Writers' Network - West, is a program of the state organization. We hold free events for the public to attend and to give our members opportunity to share their writing. Each month one of our NCWN-West members is featured. This month it was two featured.

Five of those attending today read at Open Mic, a time on the program when the guests are invited to read original stories or poems. Bob Grove read a humorous story about his mother. Richard Carey read a poem about cicadas.

Why do we need a writing community?

Being a member of a writing community is important for many reasons. Members can meet other writers, they attend critique groups and classes with other writers. A member can befriend someone who will read his stories or poems and give him feedback. In our community of writers, we don't compete with each other. We encourage each other and are happy when someone we know is published or wins an award.

I was taught when I joined NCWN-West twenty years ago, to do what I could to help other writers and they would do the same for me. I still do that today, and I hope new writers who join us now will do the same.

Three Poets will read at the John C. Campbell Folk School on May 16

This Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 7:00 PM, the North Carolina Writers' Network-West will sponsor The Literary Hour, at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. The event will be held in the Keith House in the Community Room. The reading is free of charge and open to the public.

Staci Lynn Bell is a retired 25-year radio/ television host and commercial production copy writer. She is also an elite dog trainer.  Her emceeing skills have allowed her to serve an emcee for many NCWN-West conferences and events. Staci writes poetry, creative non-fiction, memoir and essays. She has been published in, Kakalak 2017, 2016, and several online journals, including, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Wolf Warriors Anthology II. Bell has poems in numerous Old Mountain Press Anthologies, Bell’s poem, "Escape" was published in the Old Mountain Press Anthology, Wish You Were Here. Her poem, "Unanswered Prayers" was published in the fall edition of Kakalak 2016. Additionally, her poem, "Time," won a bronze medal and her short story, "Cheyenne" won a silver medal in the North Carolina Cherokee and Clay County's Silver Arts 2016.

Joan Ellen Gage is an author of humor and inspiration written from her own unique perspective. Her photos are the spice in the mix that serve to punctuate the writing and add that special garnish to her creations. She has written and published five books, Water Running Downhill!, Embracing Your Inner Cheerleader!, A Redhead Looks At 60, Trinity's Adventures in Imagination, and a special edition of Water Running Downhill! the Rose Edition, as a tribute to her friend Rose Helena Macedo Kull. Gage is serves as administrator for the NCWN-West’s blog. Additionally, Ms. Gage has two blogs, Traveling at the Speed of Now,,and A Redhead Blogs at 60!, https://joanszoneblogalicious

Mary Ricketson of Murphy NC, has been writing poetry for 20 years; to satisfy a hunger, to taste life down to the very last drop. She is inspired by nature and her work as a mental health counselor. Her poetry has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Future Cycle Press, Journal of Kentucky Studies, and the anthologies, Lights in the Mountains, and Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Freeing Jonah, and her chapbook I Hear the River Call my Name. Mary's second poetry book is Hanging Dog Creek; her third book, Shade and Shelter, is newly released from Kelsay Books.
Ricketson is Cherokee County's Representative for the North Carolina Writers Network-West, and is president of Ridgeline Literary Alliance. Ricketson writes a monthly column, "Women to Women", for The Cherokee Scout, Murphy , NC’s newspaper. She is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, an organic blueberry farmer, and is currently working on a new collection of poetry.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Some things you would like to know

Writers' Night Out

The 2018 schedule of featured readers from North Carolina and Georgia

April 13: Mike James and Michael Walls
May 18: Jennifer Lux and Rupert Fike  - The third Friday, not the second.
June 8: Michelle Castleberry and Karen Paul Holmes
July 13: Joan Howard and Jane Simpson
Aug 10: Kimberly Simms and Mary Ricketson
Sept 14: Robert Kendrick and Janice Moore
Oct 12: Danielle Hanson and Loren Leith
Nov 9: Glenda Beall and Estelle Rice
  • Wednesday, May 16, 10:30 AM
  • Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC
  • Estelle Rice and Glenda Beall are featured this month.
  • Open mic is offered and poets and prose writers are welcome to read.
  • Limit your reading to two or three poems and 1500 words for fiction or nonfiction.
We love to have guests as well as members. Everyone is welcomed.

Writers Circle Around the Table Summer Classes
Taking registration now. Don't wait. Space is limited.

Tuesdays, 2 - 5 p.m.  Six weeks of classes in comfortable setting, casual and fun. We welcome beginners and those who feel they still need some instruction to help them be the best they can be.

Get motivated to write again by taking a writing class. You will find your enthusiasm growing, ideas clamoring to be heard, and stories urging you to write them.

Tuesdays, June 5 - June 26  and July 10 and 17
Fee: $48.00                Limit 10 students
To Register for classes, Email or call Glenda Beall. gcbmountaingirl@gmail or 828-389-4441. You may also pay online with PayPal for this class.

Creative Writing for Fiction and Nonfiction 

Creative Writing for beginning writers and intermediate writers who want motivation and inspiration. We share our work and gain from feedback of other  students.
  • Prompts are offered but no one is required to follow them. 
  • Students are asked to write a short piece each week and bring copies to share. 
  • Receive instruction in dialogue, content and copy editing, transitions and basic writing tips to make your work polished and ready for submission.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Now Taking Registration


Writing Classes at Writers Circle around the Table

Hayesville, NC
Don't wait until the last minute to register for a class. If we don't have a minimum five days before the start of the class, we cancel the workshop.

To Register for classes, Email or call Glenda Beall. gcbmountaingirl@gmail or 828-389-4441. You may also pay online with PayPal for this class.

 Writing Classes at the studio with Glenda Beall 

Tuesdays, 2 - 5 p.m.  Six weeks of classes in comfortable setting, casual and fun. We welcome beginners and those who feel they still need some instruction to help them be the best they can be.

June 5 - June 26  and July 10 and 17
Fee: $48.00                Limit 10 students

Creative Writing for Fiction and Nonfiction 

Creative Writing for beginning writers and intermediate writers who want motivation and inspiration. We share our work and gain feedback from other students.
  • Prompts are offered but no one is required to follow them. 
  • Students are asked to write a short piece each week and bring copies to share. 
  • Receive instruction in dialogue, content and copy editing, transitions and basic writing tips to make your work polished and ready for submission.
Glenda Beall is a published writer and poet. She is a seasoned teacher of writing memoir, short stories, personal essays and poetry. Glenda has taught for the EAGLE program in Sautee, GA; the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC; Tri-County Community college, Murphy, NC and the Institute of Continuing Learning at Young Harris College, Young Harris, Georgia. Her students have gone on to publish books and to publish poetry and creative nonfiction in magazines and journals. See testimonials