Wednesday, February 10, 2016

OMP calls for submissions for new anthology

Tom Davis of Old Mountain Press has called his former contributors to submit to a new anthology. You can view the submissions of those who have already been accepted. Be sure to visit the website for Old Mountain Press.

Old Mountain Press (OMP) is accepting submissions for 
Wish You Were Here from PREVIOUS CONTRIBUTORS ONLY OR SOMEONE RECOMMENDED BY A PREVIOUS CONTRIBUTOR. Each contributor whose work will appear in this anthology can recommend ONE person to submit to this anthology. Someone whose work you would like to see included with yours–maybe right beside yours:-).

See here you will also find guidelines and the link to an online submission form.

View camera ready copy of all submissions accepted so far at

NOTE: As always this anthology may fill up before the close out date so don’t procrastinate.

NOTE: The theme is NOT missing someone or something.

I will accept submissions until 12:00, 6 March OR when I have at least 90 to 100 pages (includes table of content and authors’ bios 75 words or preferably less please) or 70 contributors of quality poems and short shorts WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in this anthology, do not procrastinate. Get your work in now! Since this is a very wide topic, I expect the anthology to fill up well before the close out date.

There is no reading fee, no entry fee, and no requirement for a contributor to purchase this anthology.
As always, contributors will be able to purchase copies at a reduced rate.

Friday, February 5, 2016

An Interview by Glenda C. Beall with Steven Harvey, essayist and author of The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, a memoir

Steve Harvey, author 
Steven Harvey is the author of three books of personal essays. A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove. He has also edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood. His memoir The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, was recently published by Ovenbird Books. I appreciate him giving his time to answer a few questions for this interview. 

GCB: Steve, I’ve known you for more than twenty years and always admired your writing and your teaching. You were a poet and you are an essayist. How was writing a memoir different from writing your other books?

STEVE: All of my writing has a personal component, but the memoir required a different kind of digging. Armed with only a few vivid memories of my childhood, I was asking myself to reconstruct a past. I did have more than four hundred letters that covered all but the last year of the book, but they served primarily as a mnemonic evoking images, thoughts, memories, and events that I had not thought about in years.

It was intense, all this remembering. As usual, I wrote in the mornings and taught in the afternoons, but this was the only book of the many I’ve written that I could not leave back at the writer’s desk when I drove in to teach my students.

GCB: The story in this book is that of a little boy and his mother, and then it is the story of a man who discovers his mother many years after her suicide.

STEVE: Yes, and I think that is why the Peter Pan Story—of the lost boys in Never Never Land—was so important. The only time I became overtly emotional in the actual writing of the book is when I recreated the scene of Mary Martin as Peter Pan singing “Distant Melody” as a lullaby to the Lost Boys. There, the Lost Boy Peter, played by a woman, sings a lullaby that his mother sang to him. When I watched the clip on the screen of my computer the intertwined stories of boy and mother united in one actress seemed to recapitulate my attempt to collaborate with my mother in our story. When it was over my hand was on the screen.

Steven Harvey and his mother in 1952
GCB: Adults tend to keep children in the dark when a family tragedy happens. Do you think your father and grandparents did not talk about your mother’s death in an effort to protect you, to keep you from feeling the pain they suffered?

STEVE: I think that they were protecting me, but maybe trying to get some distance themselves from what had happened. It is awfully hard to carry that kind of thing around with you. I also think they were waiting for me to ask about it, but I was too busy putting the events behind me to do that. Part of the discovery of the last section of the book is how much of my time I spent shoving the memory away through withdrawal into solitary artistic activities such as playing guitar until my past was all but forgotten.

GCB: I felt your pain as a child who had to figure out how to suddenly handle the fact that your mother was gone and would not ever return even though you write about it with no self-pity. Do you think that all the years that have passed helped you deal with the pain you felt then? Was this pain buried so deeply inside you that it was difficult to open it up and feel it all again?

Steven with the Book of Knowledge, ten volumes beautifully bound, given to him by his parents.
STEVE: The experience of writing the book was intense, but not painful. My problem was that I had repressed almost everything. So writing the book was more about making discoveries—knowing and wondering as the title says—than about agonizing over the discoveries. When the emotions did come they were actually feelings of affection and love. I was grateful to feel anything for my mother and the boy I was. The emotions were the victory of the book.

GCB: I find it interesting that your grandmother talked openly with your wife, Barbara, about your mother’s death and gave her the letters on which you based much of your research for the book, but she did not talk to you even when you were an adult. Why do you think she did that?

STEVE: I don’t know. I suspect my grandmother was baffled that I did not ask. Barbara is easy to talk to. She’s curious and asks questions and is a great listener with a prodigious memory. She also writes wonderful, newsy letters and like my mother wrote regularly to my grandmother. In the end she was my grandmother’s closest confidante, I think.

GCB: Our audience is made up primarily of writers. I will try to ask the questions they would ask. How did you handle parts of your story that involved family members still living – your brother, for instance? Did you feel you had to leave out or change anything?

STEVE: There is no easy answer to this one. I wrote the book as honestly as I could, but when I was done I showed the manuscript to my brother. It was hard for him, he told me, but in the end he said he was glad that I wrote it all down and did not ask for any part to be changed. My stepmother is in her 80’s and I planned to show her the book, but she is having a rough time with her health now so I decided not to. These are just hard decisions that each writer has to make. There is no formula.

GCB: We know that my memory of an incident could be very different from the way another person would remember it. In memoir, we can only write what we remember or what we find to be true in our research. You had the letters your mother wrote to her mother and they paint a detailed picture of what she thought at the time. Did you enjoy reading the letters and did they bring back the past that you had forgotten?

STEVE: The letters were one half of a conversation I needed to have. I am extremely grateful that I had them. I found myself moved, delighted, sad, furious, and joyous by turns as I read them, but they were so direct and frank and detailed that they simply invited me in. My mother and I talked every day for nearly two years as she and I wrote the book together. Collaborators. They were an amazing gift.

Steve's most honest critic 

GCB: How much influence did Barbara have on your writing this book?

STEVE: Barbara is my source of information and the protector of my morning writing time. (She sleeps late in the morning which helps!) She is one of the most well-read people I know. I once heard her go book by book against Phillip Lopate when my writing friends and I had dropped out of the conversation. She held her own against one of America’s greatest readers. She is also my first reader and my most honest critic.

GCB: You have been a teacher and a writer for as long as I have known you. You have written a number of books, A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove, edited a book of essays and published in other ways. How did you manage to be a participating father, husband and professor of English and find time to write?

STEVE: I don’t know! I write every morning because I can’t help myself.

GCB: Did you wait until you had retired from Young Harris College to write this memoir because you knew it would be taxing psychologically and physically with traveling back to the places you lived as a child and going to the place where she actually shot herself?

STEVE: No, I wrote the book during my last two years at the college--which was a pretty intense time since I also taught in an MFA program. The traveling happened to coincide with the AWP writer’s conference which was in Chicago that year, a lucky break.

GCB: We are told that we have to be honest and not be afraid to bleed on the page if we want to successfully reach our readers. We want them to feel something. What do you want your readers to feel when they read this book?

STEVE: I want them to register the sadness of the loss, yes, but also to feel the victory of the collaboration in a story that was almost miraculously reclaimed.

GCB: Your other books are different from this one even though the subjects are still personal. In what way was writing this book different for you? Did you have to reach deeper inside yourself or did you worry about protecting yourself from exposing too much emotion?

STEVE: My essays are more thematic than the memoir—they are personal, yes, but they use my life to explore an idea I care about. Since the memoir, I have happily returned to the essay, the most congenial of forms for me.

GCB: Finally, I know the late Judith Kitchens of Ovenbird Books was your publisher, a wonderful essayist herself. Did she have any input as to what was included and if so, how did she help you?

STEVE: I did get help on the book from writers who are friends of mine: Joe Mackall, Bob Root, and Tom Larson. Judith and I have been friends for a long time, but I had not worked with her in many years. We reunited at the Ashland MFA, where I teach, after I finished the book. She read and accepted my manuscript soon after that, and completed the forward, days before she died. She is a great spirit. We all miss her.

GCB: I read memoirs more than I read fiction these days and I think The Book of Knowledge and Wonder is one of the best I’ve read in many years. Thank you for this interview and I look forward to your teaching a class at Writers Circle in September.

STEVE: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about the book. I look forward to the class as well.

Steven Harvey, his mother, and his little brother watching Peter Pan
See more photos from the book here

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lumberton, a Novel by William Council

Genealogy is like a disease that those of us who come down with it can't seem to get over, even after twenty years. 

My curiosity about everything underlies most of my writing as well as my interest in the family tree. I recently found and ordered a book by William Council. The title is Lumberton and the main character is Mary Polly Council, a real person who lived in Robeson County, NC. The book is written as ficton. The author has used facts he found in his genealogical research, wills, census records and vital records, court records and other writings about Robeson County residents. Mary Polly was a direct descendant of John Council, the first Council to arrive in Virginia, Isle of Wight County in the sixteen hundreds. 

William Council is a descendant of that line of Councils. I believe I am also a descendant of the first John Council. The families that migrated to Robeson County and surrounding counties from Virginia in the 1700s included members of the Council family. 

My great grandfather was John Cecil Council. Oral history has his family living in the area of North Carolina where they sold "naval stores", products produced from the sap of the pine tree. Pitch, turpentine and tar are naval stores. They were used by carpenters to caulk the seams of wooden ships. The present products of pine tree sap – turpentine and rosin – are still known by that name. 

In 1998 I published a family history book about my grandfather, Tom Council and his ten children. In this book I also included all of Tom's descendants which meant gathering hundreds of names and vital information. This book is written with all the facts known by me and my cousins and other family. 

To write a novel based on truth makes for more interesting reading, I think. Lumberton is a page turner and I only wish the author had hired a professional editor before he published this book. My pet peeve is authors who are in too much of a hurry to see their manuscript in print or don't think they need a professional editor to help them polish and perfect the book before letting it see the light of day.

As a writer, I am stopped each time I see a typo, misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and in general a book with sloppy text. This is a good story, poorly edited. 

Mary Polly marries the older rich man although she loves the sheriff. Their love story mingled with the history of the era, and knowing she was a real person, perhaps a distant relative, adds to the tension in the book.

I have readers who are family or are researching the same lines that are in my family history book. If you are part of the Council family, I suggest you read William Council's book about Mary Polly Council. 

Lumberton, a novel by William Council  ISBBN 978-1-60743-346-0 (PBK), published by Financial Quest, LLC

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Take Advantage of this Excellent Writers' Conference

I think the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference is one of the best events an author can attend. Carol Crawford and her staff work all year to bring in the best presenters, and they try to have something for everyone. 
Visit the website and see who is on the program this year. This is a small conference where the writers have an opportunity to talk with authors, agents, editors and to ask questions. 

April 8 & 9, 2016 

The Mission of the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference is to educate, inform, and inspire writers. No matter the level of expertise, the Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference provides a venue for professional writers, editors and agents to provide honest and accurate feedback to the aspiring writer in how to sell a magazine article, finish a novel, or do historical research. 

Other previous keynote speakers include a number of well-known writers such as novelist Claire Cook, Terry Kay, mystery writers Patricia Sprinkle, Joshilyn Jackson and Sharyn McCrumb, essayists James Kilgo and Steven Harvey, suspense writer Karin Slaughter, and former Georgia poet laureate, David Bottoms. 

Saturday, April 9th begins with light breakfast fare and our keynote speech. The 2016 keynote speaker will be Stephanie Fretwell-Hill. Stephanie is an editor at Peachtree Publishers, an independently owned trade book publisher, specializing in quality children's books, from picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction; consumer references in health, education, and parenting; and regional guide books about the American South. 

Peachtree Publisher's mission is to create books that captivate and educate young and old readers alike, with well-crafted words and pictures. The day continues with concurrent workshops on everything from Children’s Literature to assembling a book of poetry to marketing a manuscript. 

Our 2016 speakers include a wide variety of poets, fiction, non-fiction writers, and much more. Conference attendees appreciate the chance to network with other writers and speakers during the day and the opportunity to submit their work for critique by one of the conference speakers. High school students from area counties are invited to attend and the Art Center offers scholarships to make this more affordable. 

This year’s Writers’ Conference will also offer a four-hour Workshop Intensive on Friday, April 8th. For an additional fee, the Workshop Intensive, presented by Jennifer Jabaley and Kristin Tubb, titled “Show, Don’t Tell: Yes, Yes, But What Does It MEAN?!”, will discuss show, don’t tell techniques for multiple aspects of your story: wordbuilding, characterization, narrative, and dialogue. 

Writers will leave with a solid understanding of the importance of show, don’t tell and the tools to revise their own manuscripts for more showing, less telling. A great workshop for both fiction and nonfiction writers. 

If you are an author and have registered for the conference, you may sign up with the Art Center to have your books for sale on Friday evening during the reception and on Saturday afternoon during the conference until 3:00pm. 

Please email the Art Center no later than March 3rd at to pre-register for a space. Please limit your book sales to no more than (5) titles with a total of (10) books per title. All books for sale must be delivered to the Art Center no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, April 7th. 
The Art Center will sell books in the Mahan Gallery & Art Supply Station for a 10% commission.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Old Mountain Press anthologies for sale on Kindle @2.99

Old Mountain Press has been publishing anthologies of poetry and short prose for years now. Today all of those anthologies are for sale on Kindle for $2.99. 

These anthologies contain work by some of our best western NC writers and poets. One of my poems was published in the OMP book, A Funny Thing, a poetry and prose anthology. This is a book of humorous writing. Our NC Poet Laureate, Shelby Stephenson has a poem in this collection of funny pieces. 

Years ago OMP published one of my poems in the anthology, InThe Yard which is a poetry anthology. Glenda Barrett, a friend and local poet, was also published in this anthology. This book is available on Kindle.

Tom Davis of Old Mountain Press produces books for those who want to self-publish. On his website he tells the reader all she needs to know about how to self-publish and the costs that will be incurred. Visit his website: 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I am posting this on my wall for 2016.

Find a creek, river, lake, or ocean, and be still beside it for a time. Sit by an open fire and watch the flames. Sit on the porch and lie on the grass. Light candles. Take a deep breath. Write a handwritten letter to someone.

Discover something new every day. Learn. Tell stories. Listen to old people. Ask them questions.

Do something nice for others when you can and don't hesitate to be kind to yourself.

Read actual, real books and newspapers.

Spend an entire day without looking at your phone. If you feel the urge to post a selfie every day, take a picture of some other beautiful thing instead. Remember that there is power in moderation.

Learn to cook or bake something new. Enjoy every meal. Savor your food. Drink water.

Be completely quiet. Turn your favorite song up as loud as it will go.

If someone makes you feel bad all the time, get away from them. Laugh with others. Laugh while you're alone.

Spend time with animals. They make us better people.

Spray someone with the kitchen sink sprayer. Sing while washing dishes. Dance.

Don't judge. Think this: "There but for the grace of God go I" or "Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

--Silas House, from "What I Know: a Prayer Essay"

I read this last year when Silas House published it, and I like it so much I want to share it again with my readers. I wish I had written the original, but didn't think of it. He said what I want to say, so I am just re-blogging his prayer for 2016. 

If you don't know Silas House, visit his website and his blog. Listen to his interview or discussion with Barbara Kingsolver HERE.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Contemplating - What Poems do I include in my manuscript?

Glenda reading poetry at Poetry Hickory
In 2009, my poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press. The book was released in October and Barry had died from cancer in July. He never saw the finished product. The reading pictured above was one of the few I made when the book came out. In my grief, I had very little interest in setting up readings or appearances. My sister hosted a book party at her home in Roswell, Georgia and her friends bought books. We also had 100 pre-orders from friends and family. 

It is a fact that most poetry books are sold in person-to-person situations. Also, most poetry books are bought by other poets, but I am pleased that many non-poets purchased my book and let me know they enjoyed it. 

One of those non-poets was a French lady in Marietta, GA who used one of my poems on her blog page with lovely pictures that fit with each verse. Another was Nancy Purcell, a fiction writer who said of my book:  You touched my heart over and over again with your words. I've already read the book (Now Might as Well be Then) three times...I'm so glad I own a copy.

Steven Harvey, author and essayist, said "I enjoyed reading your chapbook, "Now Might as Well Be Then."  I was interested in it, of course, since you frame it as an exercise in memory, a subject that I am much interested in these days as my class at your "writer's circle" probably made clear. "The Woman in the Mirror" reads like a call to duty for the poet as rememberer.

I do like the narrative impulse behind some of the longer poems such as "Inundated" and "Roosevelt" and "Blue Moon Every Twenty Years" because you allow them to build in a way that conveys the emotions, usually of loss, but in the end the lyrics were moving, too, pieces like "Beneath the Beauty" where your vision of life as a mix of beauty amid ugliness is powerfully presented. You can be proud of this small book!"

Dr. Harvey volunteered his comments after reading my book and I was as excited about his compliments as I would have been if my book had won first place in a contest.

I am contemplating submitting another manuscript of poetry this year. I think I might include some of the poems in "Now Might as Well be Then" because the book was not widely read, and I hope the new book will reach more readers.

If you have my book and have read it, will you let me know which were your favorite poems? "The Woman in the Mirror" seems to appeal to most people, but I would love to have your input as to which poems you think I should include in the new book.

Email me,   or leave a comment on this blog.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why Writers Need to Blog and Why Blogging Helps Build a Readership

Why Writers Need to Blog

My view as I sit and write blog posts twice a week. 

I am a fan of blogs by writers and I really like those that give helpful hints or lessons they have learned about the writing world.

Blog posts are shareable and they stick around for a long time. FB and Twitter posts slip away quickly and are forgotten. I can easily find a blog post published on my blogs or on the NCWN-West blog in the past seven years. Belinda Pollard's article explains why every writer should have a blog.

Check out the article and tell us what you think? If you have a published book or several, maybe blogging once or twice a week would help you create a readership for your work. If you are beginning to publish in journals and magazines, having a blog as part of your online presence gets an editor's attention.