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

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Today we had our first cool fall weather. Although I am not presently in the mountains where I live, I know the leaves are beginning to change and the cool crisp mornings are happening.

Soon it will be time for the John C. Campbell Fall Festival in Brasstown, NC about a twenty-minute drive from my house.

Even before Barry and I moved to the southern Appalachians, we attended many festivals each fall. My favorite was the Fall Festival at the Folk School. 

My brothers, my sister, Gay, and their spouses came each year from Atlanta and south Georgia. Ray and Gail, Max and Salita, Rex and Nancy drove up from Albany, GA and Gay and Stu came from the Atlanta area. What glorious times we had together. We sat on my deck which is in the tree tops and enjoyed the view of Brasstown Bald across Lake Chatuge in Georgia. But on Saturday we drove to the folk school for the festival. 

Two stages were set up on the campus and music was played all day Saturday and Sunday. We all loved music, especially old country songs, folk songs and familiar gospel music we heard growing up in small country churches in rural southwest Georgia. My brothers had the best time listening to entertainers. We heard family bands with young kids playing banjoes and guitars. We heard husband and wife duos with harmony so sweet you didn't want them to stop singing.  

One of our favorite groups Butternut Creek and Friends was composed of an English professor and writer, Steven Harvey, along with three other singers. We loved their music and bought all their CDs which my family played all the way back to Georgia.

The festival offered food and still does, such as barbeque and iced tea, funnel cakes along with hot dogs and burgers. Food tents for snacks and various kinds of treats are always popular. But my folks attended the festival for the music. 

Since folk dancing is a big part of the curriculum at the folk school, the large stage at the Festival Barn was the perfect place to watch the dancers in costumes perform as well as catch the clogging by several local teams of dancers. Bluegrass music is preferred for clogging. 

At the end of the day on Saturday, my family group headed to a restaurant in Hiawassee, GA just across the state line and on the south end of Lake Chatuge. We required a long table where we could discuss the groups we had heard that day and listen to my brother tell some of his tales that always made us laugh out loud. My heart swelled with love for my family and I was extremely happy that they had come to visit me in my new home in the mountains. These visits continued for several years until Ray was diagnosed with cancer. 

He only made one more trip with the family. He seemed to really enjoy it, but he was weak and making a large effort to hang in there. A sadness hung over us like a heavy rain cloud. He lived three years after his diagnosis and came to see me alone twice during that time. 

In following years, we still gathered once a year at my house, usually for the Festival on the Square in Hayesville but we all missed Ray.

Tonight I clicked on the website for the folk school and saw the article about this year's Fall Festival. It will be a celebration of the ending of the pandemic shadow that fell over everything for the past two years. While COVID is still with us, people will feel safer going to the festival now. 

If I could go back in time, I would dearly love to attend the festival again with my brothers. But they are all gone now. I will just go back in my memories. 

Fall Festival 2022
We invite you to celebrate Appalachian heritage at our 46th Fall Festival, featuring a wide variety of craftspeople, continuous live music and dance, craft demonstrations, good food, and much more! Saturday & Sunday, October 1 & 2, 2022 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Self doubt and second guessing

I am sharing an email conversation from years ago. Nancy  P. is no longer with us and I miss her. 

I received the notification for a workshop at Warren Wilson in late July
with the fiction workshop being taught by Tommy Hays. I want to go but
I'm truly lacking in confidence. I'm always afraid my work won't match
up with the other writers and so I hold back. I know Tommy Hays is good
and he's pretty sharp. Do you HONESTLY think I would do alright there? I
do have to submit a short story or the first chapter of my novella that
I'm working on as part of a collection. I guess I'm just asking you for
a pep talk. What do you think? Will he be way over my head?

Nancy P.

Glenda Beall wrote:
 Nancy, you don't have any reason to be afraid. Your writing is
 excellent and you have had many stories published. I was afraid the
 first time I signed on for a master class at NCWN Fall conference with
 Kay Byer. But when I got there, I found most of the writers were no
 better than I was.
And I can tell you Tommy Hays is just another writer with the same fears
and worries all writers have about their work. Don't hold back, Nancy.
I know you will do well and you'll enjoy it. That is the most important part - you'll enjoy it.

 If you spend time comparing yourself to other writers or worrying
 about what they think of your work, you'll do yourself a disservice by
 not taking the opportunity to study with this writer. I am so glad I
 took the master class with Kay Byer. Now that I know her so well, I
 realize she, like you and me, is not always confident and
 self-assured. I'm sure Tommy Hays is the same.
Go for it, Girl! You will be fine.

 I want to hear all about the workshop.

Thank you, Glenda. 
You are so right. I just put myself into a worry pot when I should realize 
most everyone has these same doubts and fears. I guess it comes from 
the sequestering of the writer within four walls for long periods of time. 
I will send in my registration and do what you recommend: Enjoy the journey.Sincere thanks,Nancy P.


Nancy P. was a very good writer, but as you can see, like all of us, she had doubts. We are quick to second guess ourselves. Do you do that? Have you ever missed a great opportunity because you lacked the confidence to take a chance?

I almost did back in 1995 when I first moved to the mountains. Nancy Simpson (not the Nancy in my post) called me and asked if I wanted a scholarship for her week-long poetry class at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

It was free to me. I was brand new to the area and did not know any writers. The idea of taking a class with poets absolutely scared me to death. I had to make a big decision. I almost turned her down, but I pushed myself to overcome my fear and that decision changed my life.

What about you? What is your story? Did you overcome a fear or self-doubt to accomplish something important in your life?
Do you often second guess your decisions? 
Leave a comment or email me at  

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

"Its been a good life, not a high life, but it is my life."

Today I met two people I have known for several years but had never seen face to face. Their names are Linda and Bob and they are co-pastors for the Hayesville Presbyterian Church. Barry and I joined that small church when we first moved to this little town in 1996. The building and the church have quite a history going back to the 1800s and I think it was the first church in this county.

I have not attended church since Barry died and especially since the pandemic began. With my chemical sensitivities, churches filled with perfumes, flowers, and chemical products trigger respiratory problems, even asthma for me. But I am still a member of that church and Bob and Linda keep a close watch over me. I have received poems and cards from Linda when she knows I am not doing well or just to brighten my days. 

I am sure Bob calls all of his small flock and especially those who are not well. It is comforting to know someone cares and I welcome hearing his voice. 

Today was especially comforting because I met Bob and Linda at the church, just the three of us. Linda knits prayer shawls for anyone who is going into the hospital or needs special comfort. Because they know I am going through some medical issues and will likely be going to the hospital before long, Linda wanted me to have a prayer shawl. 

Glenda in the prayer shawl

I was excited to meet both of these caring and authentic people I have talked to and emailed with for years now. They are just as lovely in person as I knew they would be. We talked for an hour and they presented me with the shawl, wrapping it around me while Linda read a prayer. 

I was so deeply touched that I began to weep. That surprised me. I will take the shawl with me when I have to go to the hospital and stay overnight, but I will also have it with me at home when I need some extra assurance that I will be fine. 
I have the most wonderful memories of my time at HPC when Barry was alive. He was a one-man welcoming committee and because of him, many people joined the church. He loved singing in the choir and eventually became the choir director. We made good friends there and I miss those times. Part of the reason I don't go back to church is I can't deal with the emotions I feel, the memories of Barry, and the happy times we had there. I would probably cry all through the sermon. 

Even though HPC is very small and most of the members are older, it plays a big part in the lives of those who attend and hear the sermons by Linda and Bob and know that their church family loves and cares for them.

COVID disrupted the church as it did many things over the past two years. 
Some people didn't want to wear masks or social distance. They were virus deniers. In my thinking, they didn't care about protecting others who might actually die if they caught this disease. I am proud of the session and the pastors who are doing all they can to keep those older people safe. With another surge of the virus in this area, I was told by my doctor's assistant that I should wear a mask anytime I was out in public, and even today Linda, Bob, and I wore masks.

Isn't life interesting? Each day brings possibilities that can change us or make us think and be grateful. Tonight I am very grateful that I finally met my friends, Linda and Bob. I am so thankful for the beautiful, soft shawl that I will cherish and use again and again and I will always be grateful for the little Presbyterian church that made us feel welcome in the community and gave us the opportunity to make dear friends.

Take a weekend class with Darnell Arnoult at JCCFS

The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC is just twenty minutes from my house in Hayesville, NC. We who live in the local area can apply for a discount for classes at JCCFS. Great Deal!!

Darnell Arnoult, author, poet and instructor

The lineup of writing teachers this summer is excellent. My friend, Darnell Arnoult will teach a weekend class on creative nonfiction on September 2 - 4. I would be there if I didn't already have a prior appointment out of town.

Experiment with short memoir or essay, in the tradition of authors such as Dinty Moore, Abigail Thomas, and Sonja Livingston. This form uses the fluidity of prose as its structure and the imagery and compression of poetry as its engine. Explore the power of a well-wrought sentence and the turn of a tale. We will concentrate on pieces from 25 to 2000 words to tell a single, true story. All levels welcome.

Her classes will be similar to the classes I teach on memoir writing. However, Darnell was one of my first teachers years ago. Over the years, I have taken classes with her and even traveled distances to study with her. She is one of my favorite instructors and used to teach workshops for Writers Circle around the Table and for NCWN-West. 

Creative Nonfiction in a Flash

(Local residents, if you live within driving distance each day, get a discount)
Instructor: Darnell Arnoult
Arnoult, former Writer-In-Residence at Lincoln Memorial University, is the author of the novel "Sufficient Grace" and also "What Travels with Us: Poems," winner of the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature and SIBA Poetry Book of the Year. Her latest publication is "Galaxie Wagon: Poems" (LSU Press, 2016), which received the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing and was a finalist for the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. Darnell was also the recipient of the 2009 Mary Francis Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters and was named the 2007 Tennessee Writer of the Year. Her work has appeared in a number of journals. She holds an MFA from the University of Memphis and lives in Mebane, NC.
Skill Level: All Levels
Please call (1-800-365-5724) to register for 2022 classes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

First and Only Ski trip

Snowmass Colorado - ski resort 

This hot weather has me thinking about a very cold vacation Barry and I took years ago when we were newlyweds.
It was Christmas day and we were sitting at the table at my parent's home where we always gathered for holiday dinners. My brother, Rex, and his wife, Mary, said they were going out to Colorado for a ski vacation. "We are meeting my cousin and his wife at Snowmass where we have a free week at a condo right on the slopes," Mary said.

Rex headed up the purchasing department of Hercules Bumpers, the family business, and met salesmen from many different companies trying to gain his favor. They offered Rex perks hoping to gain contracts with Hercules. One company owned a condo at the ski resort, Snowmass, just a short distance from Aspen.

Barry asked questions and soon we both said how much we would love to go to Colorado to a ski resort and Rex invited us to go with them. Barry and Rex had a wonderful relationship which made my life better and I knew Rex really wanted us to go.

Within a few weeks, we had bought ski outfits and warm clothes that we would never wear in south Georgia where we lived. The only problem for me was my horrific fear of flying. Barry kept telling me it was safe and I would love it once I was in the sky. 

On the plane, a 747 with three aisles of seats, I had a window seat. Barry had begun plying me with tasty drinks even before we entered the airplane. Once we were seated he immediately got me a glass of champagne which was free. Yes, back then flying was very different from today.

We were on a champagne flight to Denver from Atlanta. Barry was right. I put on headphones and filled my ears with loud classical music, not rock and roll. Closed my eyes and forgot where I was for a few hours.

When we reached Denver we found snow. Not just a little bit of snow. We found that the Colorado mountains were in the midst of a blizzard. No flights were going to Aspen or any area near there. We were told we would need to stay over and hopefully get a flight out the next day.

Well, Rex Council had plans and no blizzard was going to stop him from getting to that condo. He didn't want to miss a single minute of his time there, must less an entire night and day. Mary's relatives were already there.

Against my advice and in spite of my fears, Rex rented a car and said he would drive to Snowmass. If you knew Rex,  you would know he thought he could drive anywhere at any time. He loved to drive his big car, Buick or Town Car. But this time he had to rent a car. I don't remember what kind of car it was, but I think it was a four-wheel drive. That drive through a snowstorm so thick we could not see the road ahead or the sides of the road was the most frightening thing I had ever been a part of.

In the curving mountain two-lane roads, Rex managed to keep the car going and we did not run off the side in spite of a lawman who appeared behind us somewhere calling on his megaphone, "Stay on your side of the road."

Rex didn't change his driving but muttered out loud, "I'd do that if I could see the road."

It was dark when we finally made it to Snowmass and found our condo. I was exhausted but we had to go down the mountain before it was too late to get our skis and instructions. I was young and in pretty good shape. I rode horses and rode a dirt bike, but had no idea what was wrong with me when I became so breathless I had to sit down on the way back up to the condo. It frightened me. I felt like I was about to die. I just couldn't breathe. A kind soul stopped and let us ride with him up the mountain. I was put to bed and everyone huddled around me worried. 

In time, I felt some better, but I was not ready to go out the next morning and try to ski. Once I learned that the thin air in the high altitude was hard for me to breathe since I came from the flatlands where the air is thick and humid, I was less afraid but was told to take it easy until I acclimated to the altitude.

The condo was outstanding in comfort and had astounding views. Rex, Mary, and Barry hit the slopes early. They simply skied out the front door. Amazing to me as I had never even seen snow like this. Barry had lived in California and in Germany where he learned to ski. Rex and Mary were beginners but both were anxious to get out there and try it. Not me.

By the second day, I was up to taking a skiing lesson. We first practiced falling and getting up. I fell just fine, but could not get up. It was horribly embarrassing. My instructor used me as an example for the others to show them what not to do. He laughed at me and I wanted to become invisible. He was cute and funny. He said I was a mogul. When I asked, "What is a mogul?" He said it is a south Georgia girl who falls and can't get up.

My short experience with the ski instructor was my last one with any instructor. I flew to Colorado for skiing but never skied. However, I had a wonderful experience that week, one I will always remember.

While the others hit the slopes, I walked down to the village and found the ski lodges, restaurants, and bars where I could sit and write, take photographs and blend in with the other people there. The heady air played a game with my brain and I found myself getting a crush on my smart alec ski instructor, watching him laughing and talking with girls, looking so handsome in his ski clothes. He was the model on the Snowmass brochure. 

I wrote a poem about him and it was my first publication in a slick magazine. 

High in Colorado
                   By Glenda Council Beall

He poses, hip cocked in red and blue,
sun-glistened face of Eros turned to me,
a fledgling atop the icy slope. My
breath quickens in foolish adoration

at the sound of my name from his mouth.
Knees bent, I push on poles and slide
down to him, past him, racing for the edge.
Sit down, Glenda! My legs collapse,

long shoes shoot sidewise. I try to rise,
but can't. He twirls, zips toward me,
digs in. You know a mogul is a South
Georgia girl who falls and can't get up.

He laughs, his teeth like sparkling icicles.
Giddy Aspen air heliums my brain,
overflows my heart that dances in triple time.
He yanks me up, skims powder to the lift.

At sea level, snow dreams
melt into arrogant soap bubbles
as his smiling face yellows
on a faded brochure beneath my ski apparel.

skiers in Colorado but I am not one of them

Saturday, August 13, 2022



Do you want to hear both sides of the border issue? Dana Wildsmith teaches English as a second language to immigrants to this country. She takes us inside the hearts and minds of those who struggle to make it to the United States and safety from the dangers in their homelands.

We hear so much talk of building walls along our borders to keep people out but seldom do we hear the migrants' stories that accompany such dangerous journeys--like the vulnerability of giving up your child to a stranger, the tragedy of dying in the desert, or the constant fear of getting caught. Dana Wildsmith's Jumping captures the experiences of what happens when "illegals" try to cross into the United States, "jumping" the border. 

Cesar, the main character, is especially powerfully portrayed with his humor, intelligence, and desire to provide a better life for his family. Read this novel for a good story, for a better understanding of our neighbors, and to know what it means to be human.

Dana Wildsmith’s writing has its roots in literal soil: the earth of the old farm she works to keep alive, as documented in her collection of poems, One Good Hand, and through her environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal, or along the desert sands of our southern border, as told in her novel, Jumping, a story which grew from Wildsmith’s work as a teacher of English Literacy to non-native speakers. 

Her most recent collection, One Light, follows the journey of her mother, Grace, down dementia’s rocky road. Wildsmith has a new book forthcoming from Madville Publishing which took root as the pandemic flourished and we all searched for tools to help us cope with this unprecedented epic. With Access to Tools explores the role of tools in our lives: traditional farm tools, tools of the digital age, and cerebral tools such as patience and memory. 

Wildsmith is a highly sought-after teacher of creative writing and has garnered residencies at the Hambidge Center, the Lillian E Smith Center, Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park. Her website,, is the home of a widely read blog mostly centered on teaching and writing.

Wildsmith's books are available on 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A Poet I cannot stop reading - Scott Owens

Scott sent me an email telling me his newest book is out. 
I promptly ordered it. Strange, maybe, because the book is for children. Scott wrote a book of poems with illustrations for children.   Worlds Enough: Poems for and about children (and a few grown-ups)
I am intrigued and must read this book. Maybe I will then pass it on to a child, but because I think Scott is one of the best poets of today, I look forward to reading this book. Take a peek at the cover here.
He is a very busy man with so much on his plate, that he had to give up one of my very favorite blogs. Musings - some years ago.
But I spent much time tonight going back to Musings and reading his words about poetry.

Scott says the art of poetry
“is what won’t sit still inside your head 
what wakes you up at night 
what calls memory back from darkness 
what gives words the shape they take  
what makes you wonder how much more you could do  
and just why you haven’t been doing it.”

Scott Owens will be the featured guest for Mountain Wordsmiths July 28, at 10:30 AM on Zoom. We will enjoy his time with us and hope you will join us. Contact me or Carroll Taylor for a link.

I wish we felt safe to have him here in person, but COVID is back in all its vengeance in Clay County NC. 
I was told back in January when I got COVID in spite of wearing a mask all the time, "You need a better mask." I agree. I try to wear a much better mask now, but at this time, I am not going out to indoor meetings. I can't afford to take the risk.

But you can enjoy Scott Owen's books now. I enjoyed this one so much:
Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming poems by Scott Owens. This was published by Red Hawk Publications.  copyright 2021. Click here to see what others are saying about this outstanding poet and his poetry in this book.

He wrote a poem about teaching during a pandemic. He observes how quiet people are, hardly talking as if that will keep the virus from spreading.

To me, this book is about life, how we live, how we want to die, how to survive during a pandemic, what is really important in life, who are our heroes, and what he notices in his daily life. It is also about Hope.

Only One

My wife won't let me speak
of being old, but I don't mind age
or dying. In all my favorite movies
the good guys always die, heroically, 
of course, fighting to the very end,
seizing every moment, making
whatever has come before, worthwhile.
Like them, I think that must be
what matters most. And like them I think
if I'm busy enough, distracted by what
I am doing, doing for what I believe in,
for living, then it will be worthwhile
to the very end, and the end itself
might pass without me noticing at all.

Thanks, Scott. I feel the same about this living and dying business. Having watched loved ones die, I am not afraid of dying, just the process that can take a long time. I am a member of Compassion and Choices which I hope will help me go without "noticing at all."

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.