So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Great Classes both online and in person

I received an email from my friend, Carol Crawford, today and I must share it with you, my readers. Carol is a writer, editor, and teacher of writing. I have taken many classes with her over the years. I met her when I first moved to Hayesville, NC in 1995. She was then the facilitator for our NCWN-West Poetry critique group. She is the kind of instructor I always want when I take a class. She never makes you feel dumb and never hurts your feelings. She is an "encourager" as I am when I teach.

The classes she will be teaching are through the John C. Campbell Folk School. Last year I took one of her online classes and learned a great deal about my own writing and where I want to go with it.

One of Carol's classes will be taught at the folk school in Brasstown, NC. It is a weeklong class and I am going to do my best to participate. With so much going on in my life at this time, I am not writing much and I have two books I want to complete while I am still able to think and work at my computer. However, if my genes are as good as my sister, June's genes were, I will be sharp until the day I cross over.  

Check out the dates and see what appeals to you.

Dear Writers,

 I hope you are enjoying cooler temperatures as you plan your fall and winter.  I want to let you know about a couple of writing classes I will be teaching in the next few months.  

 An ONLINE class, Plot the Path to your Memoir, Part 1, will be November 4, 2023

 The follow-up class, also ONLINEPlot the Path to your Memoir, Part 2, will be January 27, 2024.  Here's the link:

 An IN PERSON class, Creative Nonfiction, will be January 14 - 192024, on the John C. Campbell Folk School campus.  Here's that link.


Please feel free to write to me with any questions about these classes.  I encourage you to check out other writing classes at the Folk School as well. They have some great offerings!






Sunday, September 17, 2023

My Friend, Gene Vickers, author

Glenda Beall is seated in front of Gene Vickers, author

A few years ago, I asked for members to volunteer to staff our NCWN-West booth at the Festival on the Square. A former student of mine, Gene Vickers, now an author of several books, stepped up to help.

The first time I met Gene was in 2008 when I taught a writing class to earn money to help pay for publishing our very popular Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, an anthology filled with poems and narratives by western North Carolina writers and by writers from the North Georgia mountains. 

My husband, Barry, had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I was still in shock and very afraid. I told my students in that class about Barry and what we were facing. I didn't dwell on it and went on to teach my class. At the end when I thanked everyone for coming, a man stood up and said to the group, " We need to pray for this lady as she faces some tough times ahead." 

I wanted to cry. I felt that this man knew what was happening to me and I did need prayer and comfort. That man was Gene Vickers who did not know me and I did not know him.

That year was as tough as it gets as Barry began chemo and radiation. We were both so afraid but had hope that he would beat this insidious disease that claimed the lives of so many. It had taken my dear brother, Ray, from me. I would not let myself believe that it would take Barry. But it did. In 2009, he died in a hospice center in Cumming Georgia after spending weeks in Emory Hospital.

In an effort to start a life with meaning and substance, I remodeled my daylight basement and began my writing studio, Writers Circle Around the Table. It was the best therapy for me as I grieved.

A few years later, Gene Vickers registered for a class at my studio. He was the only man in the class and I think he was uncomfortable. After the class closed, he asked if I would give him private lessons. I had not taught privately before, but I knew Gene did not like taking classes with others. And I knew he had a massive imagination. In class when I gave a prompt to have my students write something, Gene would write a full-fledged short story within five minutes. 

It was obvious he was a writer. But he had not been educated as a writer or taken workshops to fine-tune his capabilities. He was well-read and discussed authors he liked and how many of them ignored the rules we taught and felt were important. He came to my studio for one hour each week and I enjoyed working with him. He was a quick learner and I saw his progress increase every week. 

He was also a member of a writing group where he shared his stories and received feedback. His first book was filled with many of the stories we worked on in my studio. It is a delightful book in which teddy bears talk.  The bears are real and live in the home of Gene and his wife Elaine. He said this book was for his grandchildren. It is also a good book for empty-nesters. 

Gene followed my advice and found an editor who helped him publish the book.  His books are available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

This is one of my favorites:  "Set in the mountains of North Georgia, Amen and Amen is an unforgettable story about people learning to love one another in spite of societal boundaries and cultural divides. More than that, it raises questions about whether those boundaries and divides actually exist outside the minds of the characters who have been conditioned to dislike people who are not like them. Residents of gated mansions and double-wide trailers appear to have little in common with one another until a millionaire's son and the daughter of a factory worker fall in love.

Some say parallel roads never meet, but bridges can be constructed to connect them by those willing to chance it."

I think this book is timely as our country seems divided on many issues. Amen and Amen is an uplifting novel that I enjoyed very much. 

I am happy that I had a small part in this author's success, but my part was small. He is a man who has a natural talent and self-discipline that all writers need. 

I like that his books are not filled with vulgar language or murder and gore. He is a storyteller and like most of us Southerners, I was brought up on storytelling. 

If you have read any of Gene's books, let me hear from you and tell me your thoughts.

Enjoy the fall weather and maybe the hurricanes will leave us alone so we can be outdoors more. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Classes postponed for now

Well, as we know, our best-laid plans can be upset and turned under in a minute.

I had planned to teach a class at ICL this fall, but I was too late to get on their roster. Maybe I will be on the winter list of instructors. If so, my class will definitely be held on Zoom as I will be in Roswell then.

I had other plans for September, but at this time, health issues have come up and have to be resolved before I commit. 

I won't lament the days I've spent on the phone and on email trying to communicate with the medical world. But will continue to see the glass half full.

With Zoom,  I am taking classes, listening to writers, and keeping in touch with my friends here in my community. 

It is difficult now to work at my computer as I did only a few years ago. I must learn to use the voice element to dictate to Word. I plan to submit an essay by the end of this month, so I had better hurry.

I am grateful for many things. One is that my sister, Gay, is coming to take me down to Roswell, GA very soon. We will have a good time.

I hope you are having a good time wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Don't forget to read a good book. 

See you next time.

Glenda Beall and her sister, Gay Moring in the kitchen

Monday, August 21, 2023

What's on My Mind

First I am grateful for many things, but today I want to say thank you to Ian and Daniel, two teenage boys who moved a computer desk upstairs for me yesterday. It was not easy because they had to take the desk outside and up a couple of sections of steps with a sharp turn near the end. They did not complain one bit even though I know Ian's hands hurt him. They did a couple of other things for me, too. I paid them, not a huge amount, but Daniel said, "We like to help people."

I am also grateful for close and loving family and friends that I can share my fears, my concerns with and know they are there for me. 

One of those friends is Estelle Rice who told me she will be 99 years old in October. She was my co-author for Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, a collection of creative nonfiction, short stories, poems, and photos about the beloved animals that have graced our lives. 

Estelle and I have a deep friendship that goes way, way back to the early 1990s. She taught at my Writers Circle studio more than once and we always enjoyed her classes. A true artist in many ways, she is also a visual artist and a musician. I spent a couple of hours with her last week and we had such a good visit. I encourage her friends to send her notes, cards, or letters and tell her what she means to you. Give flowers while you may, not when your friend is gone. She doesn't do email now. I understand that. I get so frustrated when my fingers don't want to go where I want them to. 

I am also grateful for my dear niece who spent a long time on the phone with me this weekend as she tried to help me with selling my house when it is ready. She sells real estate in Georgia and can't work here in North Carolina. I feel very appreciative because she doesn't like to talk on the phone.

While I am frustrated again with the medical system, I am not going to dwell on that.
 Every day is a good day when I think about all I have to be grateful for. Today my rural mail carrier drove up my steep drive and around my house to bring a box that would not fit in my mailbox. I often hear or read that people complain about our mail service here in Clay County. But I have always had very good mail carriers who went the extra mile for me.

I hope you have much to be grateful for and that the bad times don't get you down. My blogger friends, I hope to get to your latest posts today and read about your exciting and interesting lives.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Writers Circle Around the Table again

I am excited because I have decided to start my writing classes again. I am looking at September and trying to decide whether to go virtual or teach in a classroom. 

I have heard from several writers who would like to teach for Writers Circle Around the Table again. Although I have only taught memoir writing for the past few years, I might think about doing a poetry workshop. 

I began learning to write poetry with a terrific teacher, the late poet, Nancy Simpson, and all of us who took her classes learned so very much from her. You can hear us talk about that in this video made when we honored her after her death. 

She taught us what makes a poem. She taught us how sound is so important in a poem, and that is something that you will find in my poetry. Also, metaphors are a part of poetry that many don't use enough. I have every handout she gave us and the lesson that went with it. 

I always loved poetry, but it was Nancy who taught me why.

Thanks to Raven Chiong, we have this photo of the poetry critique group she leads each month at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC.
Netwest Bee City Poets facilitated by Raven Chiong - standing, far right first row

This group meets at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC on the first Thursday. All who write poetry are welcome.  

If you are just beginning to write poetry and want some good feedback on your work, this group has many experienced poets, published and knowledgeable. The first row in this photo includes Brenda Kay Ledford, Glenda Barrett, Mary Ricketson and Joan Howard who all have published poetry books and their poems have graced the pages of many journals and reviews. 

I am proud and I know Nancy would be proud of so many of her students who became outstanding members of NCWN-West and whose books now live in homes not only in the mountains but all over the country. 

Yes, I am getting the itch to work with writers, especially those who are just putting their toes in the water and who need to know more about their opportunities. 

I will be getting out the word when I schedule my class in September. Meanwhile, if you live in Hayesville, Murphy, or Hiawassee, GA let me know if you prefer to meet in a room or online. 

Here is a prompt if you need something to get you writing:  Begin by writing, I will never forget the time when ...

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food

If you are a fan of Tipper Pressley of the Blind Pig and the Acorn, her blog website, you will really enjoy the cookbook she and Jim Casada, another western NC native, have created. I ordered the book from City Lights Books in Sylva, NC, and immediately began reading it. The book is more than a cookbook. It is a history of southern Appalachia foodways. 

This is the blurb on the back of the book, Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food

High-country cooking fit to grace any table.

Southern Appalachia has a rich culinary tradition. Generations of passed-down recipes offer glimpses into a culture that has long been defined, in considerable measure, by its food. Take a journey of pure delight through this highland homeland with stories of celebrations, Sunday dinners, and ordinary suppers. The narrative material and scores of recipes offered here share a deep love of place and a devotion to this distinctive cuisine. The end result is a tempting invitation, in the vernacular of the region, to “pull up a chair and take nourishment.”

Excerpt from a review: Chicken and dumplings. Biscuits and gravy. Beans and fatback. To any list of wonderful culinary partnerships, add the duo of Casada and Pressley. In “Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food: Recipes & Stories from Mountain Kitchens,” Jim Casada and Tipper Pressley combine wide knowledge, hands-on experience, and a conversational approach into a sure-fire recipe for enjoyable reading and fine dining. 

You can order it on the Etsy Channel or find it on Amazon. It will also be available in big stores around the country. 

Although I don't cook big meals anymore since I don't have anyone to cook for now, my mouth watered when I read recipes for some of my favorite dishes my mother used to cook. Tipper and I met back in 2007 when one of her twin daughters, Katie, came to our Coffee with the Poets group and read some poems she had written. The girls were still in elementary school then, I think. 

Tipper used the downtime during the pandemic to create a very popular YouTube channel called Celebrating Appalachia. She has done so well with it that she quit her job and stays home to do what she loves, gardening, canning, and cooking meals for her family. She posts on her blog every day and does the same with the videos. She is a busy person who loves what she is doing now.

She has a huge following on her blog and her YouTube channel. Her followers say watching Celebrating Appalachia is like being home with Tipper, her husband, Matt, and Katie and Corie. She shares her life and the lives of her family with her viewers and I watch every new video she puts up. Even though I have cooked for more than 45 years, I still learn new things from watching Tipper prepare food in her kitchen. 

A bonus is watching the twins, in their twenties now, who make their YouTube videos and they are loved also. You will find them at the Pressley Girls. 

Tipper and Jim have been signing books every weekend and their fans love seeing them, talking to them, and giving them gifts. I told Chris at City Lights Books in Sylva to be prepared for a huge crowd when Tipper and Jim are there signing books. Chris didn't know what a following Tipper has and he emailed me after the book signing saying he was glad I gave him a heads up about the crowd that filled his store that Saturday. 

Hope you enjoy visiting the YouTube channels and the blog website that Tipper has maintained for many years.   Leave a comment if you do.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

You can’t change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails.

This quote speaks to me daily now as I understand I can't go back, and I can't change the future. Life has stages, I think, and I am in a late stage of life, and I must adjust my sails.

I might live to be in my nineties as did two of my aunts and one of my brothers, but every day I see how life is changing for me. I must adjust my sails to deal with all the wind changes. 

I am angry at the health issues that make life harder for me, but anger does no good. There comes a time when the medical world seems to decide you are old and we can't do anything about it, so deal with it.

I get frustrated at the medical profession and the way older people are treated in many places. 

"You need a young person to be your advocate," I am told. If I had adult children, I suppose they would be in charge of my life now, but I would not like that.

Why? Why does the medical profession only want to deal with "young people."
Why do my phone calls and my questions have no weight with the staff but if I had a young adult call for me, why would that make a difference? 

I remember when my parents and my older sister reached their seventies, I or someone younger became their advocate with the doctors and their staff. I was there for my mother but she didn't drive and her short-term memory was gone. She needed me and I was glad to help.  But my mind is still working and I certainly can drive. 

When I complained to my cardiologist last year about the doctor and staff at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta because after several tests they would not return my calls or communicate with me for months, his answer was, "I can send you to another hospital, Mayo Clinic, Emory, wherever you want to go, but it will be the same. They are all the same now." He even had bad experiences of his own when dealing with an injury that sent him to the hospital. 

Another sad experience of a friend of mine, in her eighties, in a local hospital where she was in bed and told not to get up alone. She had no family with her so she called for a nurse to help her. No one came. She called and called and no one came or she was told they would be there in a few minutes. My friend said an hour or more passed and no one came. Finally, when someone arrived and my friend complained about having to wait so long, she was told, "Well, Mrs. Smith, you aren't the only patient in this hospital."

I hope I never have to go to the hospital with no family member or someone there with me. We always had someone with my mother and my father when they were hospitalized. 

I find myself amused when my sister, a couple of years younger than me, goes with me to my doctor's appointment. Her hair is not yet white, so they talk to her instead of me about my health. She notices it as well. 

So, young people, beware. Once your hair turns gray, take a younger person, or someone who looks younger, to the doctor's office with you. 

I think we all need an advocate to attend medical appointments with us if possible because another set of ears hears things you might not. Or another set of ears might hear differently but they could be wrong. If there is a controversy about medications or treatment, someone should contact the doctor's office and hope to get the correct information. But many, like me, do not have a family member or anyone to go with them where I live in the mountains. 

I have learned to make a list of questions before I go in for a doctor's appointment. With them only having fifteen minutes for me, I can't get answers unless I write them down and hurriedly ask them. After all, it seems the doctor can or must only take care of one issue in a visit. 

I should add here that my present primary care doctor seems to be thorough and helpful. My functional care doctor and her staff are always helpful and caring. 

I wish I could talk to senior adults from other countries about how their health conditions are handled. I know I am not the only one who has these problems and more because many of my friends say they also feel they are not important to their doctors or feel no one listens to them or cares about their health. 

Even caring doctors often have an uncaring staff or the staff is inefficient. I know we have a shortage of healthcare workers since the pandemic and that adds to the problems. In the past, I was usually happy with the nurse practitioners and found they took longer with me and followed up better. 

If you are older, I would like to hear your problems or frustrations with the American health care system for people over sixty-five, and your suggestions as to how to get the best care. Maybe we can help each other.

As always, I appreciate your reading and staying with me even when I get behind in my posting. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Scott Owens read and taught a workshop in Hayesville, NC

I am tired but I have had a good week. The poet, Scott Owens, was here and stayed overnight at my house. It was so good to see him again and talk with him. He has published 19 poetry books and I have most of them. He always writes something sweet when he signs my books. He is a kind and gentle man. Almost young enough to be my son, Scott has been a good friend for the past 15 years.

He and I were on the schedule to read Thursday evening at the John C. Campbell Folk School. NC Writers' Network-West sponsors several writing events in our region and once a month The Literary Hour is sponsored by NCWN-West. We feature two writers, a poet, and a fiction or nonfiction writer. For this event, I was the prose writer. 

Scott decided he wanted to go first and I was glad. I wanted him to have plenty of time, and I would take what was left. We had a good size audience and almost ran out of chairs. Scott is well-loved by writers in this area. He has come over from Hickory, NC where he lives and owns a coffee shop Taste Full Beans tmany times to read his poetry and to teach poetry. Some years ago, he read at Writers Night Out on Thursday evening and spent the night so he could teach a workshop on Friday morning in my studio.

I wish everyone could have come to his workshop. He is an excellent teacher, so down to earth and casual, that we all felt we could ask questions. 

I hope we can have him back this fall. His workshop was on the subjects you have at your disposal and you should never run out of topics. He showed us how to discover the many people living and dead in our families that make good subjects. We can write about places. I find myself writing about the farm I grew up on. We can write about memories that are interesting. As Scott says, writing must be interesting. That is true for poetry as well as prose.

When I teach memoir classes, I urge my students to not only write the facts or truths but make it entertaining. No matter what you write, if it is not interesting or entertaining, you will lose your reader. 

I always pay for having a good time with friends. On Friday night, my allergies or sensitivities to fragrance, got the best of me. I felt like I had a bad sinus infection on the right side of my face. I am still dealing with it today. But I would do it again.

Thanks so much to Scott Owens. If you have a chance to hear him read and talk about his writing be sure you take it. And I highly recommend him for workshops on poetry. He is very knowledgeable about anything that relates to writing poems. 

I am motivated now to write poetry again. The Pandemic shut down my poetry writing for the past two years. But I got some ideas at Scott's workshop. I look forward to getting something written soon.