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
Showing posts with label author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label author. Show all posts

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. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Learn what writers need to know from Kristen Lamb

Author, Kristen Lamb, writes a blog that is packed with good writing advice and she uses humor as a way to keep the reader interested in her long articles. She is a fiction writer, but most of what she writes on her blog is excellent advice for any writer.

Often new writers want to break the rules they are taught or wonder why we even have rules for writers. Kristen explains this so well in the two blog posts I refer to here today.
I subscribe to Kristen's blog and want to share her with you, my students, and anyone who is learning to write, who has questions about writing, and who want to publish their writing.

The following are some quotes from two of her most recent blog posts about the rules of writing and why we should follow them.
"The rules were not for ME, they were for the reader.

The rules, like the component parts of what we call a ‘car’, assisted in the experience. I—me, personally—knew every character in my story. I’d created them, knew their backstories, their secrets, their issues. I had cried when they suffered, laughed at their witty dialogue, glowed with pride when they finally found true love or whatever.

The problem was, while I knew and understood ALL these things, the reader didn’t.

.....So today, we will focus on POV, since most newbies have no clue what it is, how to use it or even that POV is the core way readers ‘follow’ our story. We need to understand what makes sense to them on an intuitive level (as in BRAIN STRUCTURE stuff).

Point of View

Through which character’s perspective is the reader experiencing the story? I have an oldie but goodie post of Point of View and why POV Prostitution (a.k.a. head-hopping) is bad for those who want further explication beyond what I’m giving here.

POV is the most fundamental ‘writing rule’ we must understand if we want readers to not only want to set out on a journey but finish it and love the experience. We must ‘follow the reader’ in that we need to think through their perspective, not just ours.

How is the reader being fed information? What details are important? Who’s story is it? Why is this a story worth money, time, and attention?

Writing Rules for First Person:

Uses the pronouns ‘I/me/mine/my’ and is the most psychologically intimate of the perspectives. This is why it’s been a super popular choice for the social media generation who’s used to being all up in someone’s biz.

First-Person breaks into two camps: The I Remember When and the Come Along with Me. Other than beating the hell out of the pronoun, ‘I’, this is where most writers will run into trouble."

I advise my memoir students to write in first-person point of view. After all, if I am writing about my life, I am the narrator so the reader must be in my head as he/she reads my stories. I want to tell the reader what I remember and how it made me feel. I can't tell you what another remembers or how the events made them feel unless I interview that other person. Then I can tell you what he/she said about the events.

Kristen Lamb has a huge following and she teaches writing classes. Check out her blog and website. You might find that she can help you with your writing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Lisa Turner's New Book

One of my favorite writers and a good friend, Lisa Turner has written another book to help us with our homes. Lisa is a very intelligent and interesting woman. I am always amazed when I think about her building her own airplane and flying it. She was the girl who wanted to take Shop in high school instead of Home Economics. She appears as a guest on podcasts and writes a blog that is helpful to all of us who write and want to publish. Visit her here.

 Lisa Turner is a former aerospace manufacturing engineer who is now a freelance columnist for Sport Aviation and KITPLANES magazines. Lisa is also the home improvement columnist for Clay County Progress, the local newspaper in Hayesville, North Carolina.

See her author page and all of the books she has available.

Check her out and let me know what you think. Read one of her books and give her a review on 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What is our Mission at Writers Circle Around the Table?

Book Launch party for Nadine Justice, author of I'm a Coal Miner's Daughter, But I Cain't Sang

Writers Circle’s mission is to bring beginning writers, accomplished writers, and anyone who enjoys writing stories, essays, poems and/or articles together around the table where we make the effort to enlighten, empower and to provide opportunities to discover the path to reach their writing goals.

A class at Writers Circle studio in 2010. Comfortable and casual, fun and filled with interesting information on writing. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Saying Goodbye to a friend I never met, but who inspired me

I am saddened over the  passing of a dear friend I  never met in person. Joan Cannon and I have been friends since 2007 when I became Program Coordinator for Netwest (NCWN-West) the first time. In the fall of that year, I attended the North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference. At that conference, I was fortunate to hear three bloggers tell about how they created free blogs through and how those blog sites changed their writing lives.

I came home and created so that our mountain writers could connect to each other online and to the world beyond the mountains.

Joan  L. Cannon, author who inspired me
Joan Cannon, a writer who lived in Morganton, NC saw that blog and wrote to me. She wanted to  know if  she lived in the region of NCWN-West. I hated to tell her she did not.
She was a member of NCWN, but was looking for writers near her. She had written a book and, being older and living in a retirement area, she had difficulty finding and  meeting other writers. In other words, she was looking for connections.

I put Joan on my email list and she received most of the information I sent to our local members. She subscribed to our blog and read it regularly. She left comments and felt she knew our members from reading about them online.

I bought her novel, Settling, and shared it with my friends. We agreed Joan was a very good writer. I had found a website edited and written by writers of a  certain age. The site is The women who founded this site deliberately set it up for older women writers and women readers. They publish thoughtful and insightful articles on many subjects and the writing is top-notch.

I suggested to Joan Cannon that she contact the editors and apply for a  job writing for them. They were delighted to have her intelligent well-written essays. Soon the woman who felt isolated in Morganton, NC was being read around the world. She never stopped thanking me for recommending she contact them.

I wrote to the editors of Senior Women:

Dear Editor,
I really enjoyed Joan Cannon's article, Relativity. I am pleased because I sent the Senior Women site to Joan and now she is here. Great. Your site is just the best and the writing you present is outstanding. The writers and the writing is more relevant to me than anything I read — print or online.

Thank you so much for having this site for older women. Here we are not ever invisible.
Glenda in North Carolina

When my husband, Barry, died in 2009, I resigned my job as PC for NCWN-West, but continued administering the blog. I also continued my friendship with Joan.  We often said we wished we could meet one day, but we never did. Joan lost her husband after a long marriage and she grieved as I did. She wrote a touching and lovely book of poetry, My Mind  is Made of Crumbs, that I treasure.

We both became active on Facebook and instead of emails, we kept up with each other there. On April 10, 2008, Joan began her blog, Hilltop Notes. Overtime, some of  our Netwest writers and others left comments. Nancy Simpson and Shirley Uphouse visited Hilltop Notes. Maureen Ryan Griffin and Tipper Pressley also commented as Joan reached out with questions about publishing as she approached eighty years of age.

I don't think blogging was her favorite thing to do, but I found her posts interesting. She was honest and open and that is important for a blogger. She could not believe that anyone read her posts so she felt it was a futile effort, but I assured her that when she submitted her short stories or manuscripts, editors googled her name and found she had an online presence.

On her author page on we can go to Joan's blog post after five years of absence. She had her problems with technology and gave up blogging for a long time. However, she did not give up writing. We can also see her books on her author page and order them from Amazon. I was inspired by Joan and admired her determination to write and publish her work when most people her age would likely not have the energy to  persevere.

After a few years, Joan let us know that she would be moving away from North Carolina where she had lived for more than a decade. She moved to Connecticut to  be close to  her family. Although we never met person to person, Joan and I were friends who knew each other in ways some friends I see often don't know me.  Her granddaughter Taylor told me that Joan was diagnosed with cancer.

This is what Taylor wrote: My grandmother passed away peacefully on October 11, 2017. As you may already know, she had been suffering from cancer and enduring chemo for about a year, but when the treatments began making her ill and generally miserable, she opted to stop them. She stopped eating and drinking at the beginning of October and was moved into the hospice ward at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, CT. I came home to Connecticut to see her just days before she passed, and she seemed relatively comfortable and quite at peace with her situation. It was such a gift to be able to say goodbye to her.

I am not surprised to learn that Joan decided what she wanted for her end of life. She chose to stop chemo and she chose to die with dignity. Good for her.

The following is from the Senior Women website:

Joan L. Cannon liked to use her middle initial because so few of her maiden namesakes are left anywhere (Huguenot LaPrades). She was retired teacher, retail manager and author of three novels in paperback, Settling and Maiden Run, a collection of short stories called Peripheral Vision and her latest, a collection of poetry, My Mind Is Made of Crumbs, all available from Amazon and on order from independent booksellers.

Joan's most recent novel is Second Growth and can be purchased through Amazon. From childhood, there have been toss-ups for her avocations among reading, riding horses, painting, local flora and fauna and writing.
Editor's note: We were gifted by Joan's vibrant, inspired, writing for the website and plan to revisit her essays often.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Looking into 2016

Writers Circle around the Table, my studio in Hayesville, NC, will not hold a writing class in October. In November, Karen Holmes will teach a  poetry class. See more on the Schedule Page.

Students gather around the table for class at Writers Circle

We already have two instructors on the calendar for 2016. A poet, publisher and visual artist, for the first time, will join our group of writers and poets who have taught here in the past six years. 
Jonathan Rice, publisher of Iodine will hold a workshop in June. 

In July, we will welcome back the terrific writer and instructor, Steven Harvey, author of his most recent publication, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder. The comments from his class here this year were the class was not long enough, and this was after a three hour class.

We hope to  have Tara Lynne Groth back to speak on another subject. Her class on marketing and publishing made our heads swim with all the information she had to offer. 

Let us hear from you, our readers, on what you think about these instructors on our schedule for 2016.

We appreciate our loyal writers who come to classes at Writers Circle. Each class we hold is designed with you in mind. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

C. Hope Clark on the word Self

I admire C. Hope Clark, author of the Carolina Slade Mystery series and publisher of Funds for  Writers which I've subscribed to for years. Her blog posts are instructive and interesting. She has written a post on the word Self. I think you will gain some insight into all your selves when you read Hope's essay here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Three Bits of News from Deanna Klingel

Deanna Klingel and Robert S. King at Festival on the  Square 
NCWN West member, and my friend, Deanna Klingel, author of several outstanding books, announces a December 1 event with her publisher. Sounds like fun.

Three bits of news:
Tomorrow, December 1, visit my website for the first day of one month of Christmas spirit. Every day something new to inspire and infuse you with Christmas spirit. Bring your cup of coffee and start the morning with me.

Tomorrow, December 1, Write Integrity, the publisher of my latest novel, Cracks in the Ice, announces our collaborative e book, The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt. This book has been written by all the authors of Write Integrity Press, and every day one chapter will appear. You can read about it at December 3 & 4 read Chapter One on She will tell you where to find Chapter Two. My chapter will appear on my website December 6.

Tomorrow, December 1, YOU ARE INVITED to a virtual Christmas party. It's a come-as-you-are party, and yes, you can even come in your jammies. You can come whenever you want,party lasts all month, as often as you like, stay as long as you wish. The party host is Write Integrity Press. Your hostesses, the authors for WIP, each have a party room of Christmas fun, music, games, and recipes. In my party room you will find presents to open, and meet our new dog, Buddy. No RSVP's are necessary, but we all hope you'll come by, Dec 1-30. The address is:
 Merry Christmas. Deanna