Michael with students at Writers Circle
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
JOIN US FOR AN EVENING WITH AWARD-WINNING APPALACHIAN POET
Wilson Lecture Hall
Sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement
Friday, October 10, 2014
Today is September 30, 2014, our first full day at the house on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. I slept better last night than I have in a long, long time. The bed is just soft enough and has the exact right amount of cover. I cracked a window to get the fresh cold air into the room. When I turned off the lamp, darkness settled over me so black I couldn’t see anything. I closed my eyes and immediately fell asleep.
This is an unusual occurrence for me. I have been an insomniac all my life. Being thousands of miles from my responsibilities makes a huge difference I think, even though my waking hours are often filled with concern about my work and my house. Will my plants die while I am gone? Did I get the article into the newspapers soon enough? Will I stay healthy for this week away from home?
But those thoughts didn't enter my mind last night. I am on vacation with my sister and brother-in- law and they are great traveling companions.
We left their house in Roswell, GA Sunday at 8:30 a.m. We arrived in Halifax, NS around 3:45 but did not leave the airport in the rental car until nearly five. We had no GPS and no good directions to the hotel in Dartmouth, so we became lost and finally found the place after dark. Thankfully a restaurant, on the premises, had a fine menu. A large bowl of seafood chowder, brimming with lobster, scallops, crab and fish was all I could eat. After our meal I collapsed on the bed and slept for nine hours.
I had called ahead and asked for a chemical free room. I was told it was no problem and I found out the entire hotel, A Best Western Plus, used no polluting air freshener or fragranced cleaners. The lobby had no odor and the rooms were completely clean and free of synthetic scents.
I love Canada. The people are far more conscious of the earth than where I have lived and they know how to care for it. Recycle containers are everywhere and people seem to know how to use them. Even in my hotel room, I found recycle containers available.
I remembered that I had heard of a hospital in Halifax for those with chemical sensitivities. Wish I had had time to investigate that place.
|The view from the house we rented in Nova Scotia|
For now, I think I will take a nap.
Monday, September 29, 2014
October 25, Saturday, 10-1:00 p.m.
Second Draft Strategies: Taking the Terror Out of Revision
Congratulations! You’ve completed a first draft. You know it needs work, but where to begin? This three-hour workshop will supply you with a roadmap through revision that will improve your writing and calm your nerves. We’ll work our way through a structured set of questions, beginning with the big one: Have I said what I wanted to say? Others follow, concerning beginning and ending, voice, tone, tense, language, and flow. Students who wish to are invited to bring a first draft (maximum length 1,000 words) to read and critique.
Elizabeth Hunter began her professional writing career as a newspaper reporter before becoming a freelance writer. A columnist, contributing editor and writer for Blue Ridge Country Magazine, she was commissioned to write the text for two coffee table books on the Blue Ridge Parkway and one celebrating the 150-year anniversary of Mitchell County, NC, where she lives. She is a self-taught naturalist, and has taught nature writing at John C. Campbell Folk School for many years.
Monday, September 22, 2014
If you are a writer, it is likely you don’t want the limelight. You work best in the quiet of your own space. You don’t need people around and you don’t want to be bothered. You are happy working on your book – whatever it may be.
But eventually you have to think about what you will do when the book is finished, published or ready to be read by the public. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just mail the manuscript to someone who would take over and print it, promote it, sell it, and send you a big fat check each month? You could just write and write and never leave the house.
I see many writers who seem to think that is the life of an author. Sadly, that is one of the myths the public has believed for years. In today’s world the author must be seen and heard. The author is the one who markets his/her book.
I want to suggest some painless methods an author can use to reach an audience. Take on a role of leadership. Don’t volunteer for more than you feel comfortable doing, but try the following suggestions.
- If there is a writing organization in your town or area, join and attend the events.
- Find ways you can help the organization – lead a critique group, become the helper to the leader, and if there is no job, make one that you want to do, then do it.
- Offer to do the publicity for your writing group. Write articles on the members and publish them in the local newspapers with your name listed as the writer. Be the one to put your local literary group on the map. Use photos with each article.
- Join your state literary group. Know the leaders and call them or email them with suggestions of how they might best serve their members. Better—call or email and tell them what a great job they are doing for the members.
- Become a mentor for beginning writers.
- Hold an open mic event in a local coffee shop or book store once a month. Write an article for the local newspapers about who attends and who reads, and be sure the event is on social media with your name attached.
- As soon as you feel you are ready, volunteer for a major leadership position in a literary organization. When your name is well-recognized, your book will soon follow. Be sure you make as many speeches or appear at as many events as possible where you can mention your book.
Tell me what you think of these ideas. Do you think they would help you?
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Carol has taught writing for years and is a favorite instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School and here at Writers Circle. Carol has been coordinating the annual Blue Ridge Writers' Conference in Blue Ridge Georgia for many years. It has become one of the best conferences and I was thrilled to be on the faculty last year.
Scott Owens, who teaches every year at Writers Circle, was one of the instructors at the Blue Ridge conference a couple of years ago. His poetry workshop Saturday here at my studio inspired seven poets who, I'm sure, went home filled with more ideas for poems than they could have imagined if they had not been present.
|Scott Owens, poet|
Several poets, as they were leaving, praised Scott and said this was one of the best workshops they have attended. After five years, I am fortunate to have been able to interest good writers like Scott and Carol in coming to Writers Circle. And our local attendees have expressed their gratitude to me for bringing in high caliber artists and for keeping the fees reasonable. As long as I can make enough to keep the lights on and keep the doors open as well as pay our instructors a decent honorarium for their work, I will continue as we have been doing.
I owe much of the success of Writers Circle to my volunteer work with NCWN West. For several years I wrote articles about writers for the newspapers as part of my publicity duties. I met many peopole around our region just by talking to them on the phone. In 2007 I became the Program Coordinator for Netwest. I attended the Spring and Fall Conferences and met members of the literary community from all across the state. I began the Netwest Writers blog in 2007 which enlarged our circle even more.
My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and I had to curtail my duties with Netwest. When he died in 2009, I resigned. Overcome with grief and exhaustion of care-giving, I knew it would be impossible for me to continue to do what needed to be done as program coordinator.
In 2010, needing to do something useful and helpful to others, I started Writers Circle downstairs in my house. We had outstanding writers like Maureen Ryan Griffin stay overnight in my guest room and teach a Saturday morning class. Maureen's successful WordPlay classes are well-known, and she teaches at John C. Campbell Folk School in their writing program each year. She gave me advice and was willing to help me get my business off the ground. I am forever indebted to her.
The past five years have been filled with writing time, classes in writing, discussions with authors and enjoyment of having friends feel at home sitting around the table in my studio. I am never happier than being with writers and talking about writing.
Although I usually close the studio in October, this year we have a class in November also. Elizabeth Hunter who writes for Blue Ridge Country magazine will be here October 25 and delightful Dana Wildsmith will teach in November. See the Schedule page for information on the two classes.
Friday, September 5, 2014
If you have never taken a writing class at the John C. Campbell Folk School, you are missing a special treat. Tonight I read a short piece on the Folk School Blog written by a student of a writing class. I think you will enjoy it.I took my first writing class, a poetry class, with Nancy Simpson in 1995 or '96. Can't remember exactly now. But it literally changed my life. A writing class at JCCFS is not like a class in high school or college. No one is going to embarrass you, hurt you or demand more than you want to give. You will find yourself so comfortable with others who, like you, just want to learn and enjoy the experience of being in the beautiful setting in the mountains of western NC, that you will go home with lasting memories and new friends. But you will also go home having learned new skills that you can continue to use. Check out the website and look for Writing Classes.
Local writers can take classes for half-price tuition. Ask about that when you register.
Monday, September 1, 2014
|21 Campus Circle, Murphy, NC 28906|
September 2- September 23 -- Tuesdays
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Write What You Like: Fiction, Memoir, Articles – Fulfilling Writing Dreams & Goals, Creating New Writing, Revising & Polishing Your Writing:
- This class is designed to help you fulfill your writing goals.
- See what mistakes editors most often find in submissions and learn how to avoid them.
- Gain the knowledge, inspiration and motivation you need to put your words on paper.
- Each week writing prompts will generate material for new writing or further a piece in process.
- Through examples of accomplished writers, you’ll learn techniques to aid you right where you are in the process.
- You'll also get feedback on your work and learn revision tools.
- Small class with interaction and feedback from teacher and other students
Instructor: Glenda C. Beall, published author and poet, experienced teacher and blogger.
Owner/Director of Writers Circle Studio
Register now: Contact -Lisa Long
Director of Community Outreach
Monday, August 25, 2014
Thursdays, September 11 and September 18, 10 - 1:00 p.m.
Your Next Submission: Write it, Fix it, Send it!
In this two-session class you will complete a nonfiction story of at least 1000 words. In the first session you will write a 200-word story idea and a 500-word dialogue exercise. You will plan your scenes for the rest of the story and look at ways to increase the story’s audience reach. The second session will be devoted to group critique and a discussion of research, finishing and revision guidelines. Students should come to the second class with a finished, revised story and a target market.
Carol Crawford is a writer, poet and editor. She is Program Coordinator for the annual Blue Ridge Writers' Conference in Blue Ridge, GA. Her work is widely published in literary journals. Her business is Carol Crawford Editing.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I tracked down GG, ( Linda Gibson), at a Farmer’s Market where she had entered a pie contest. “What kind of pie,” I asked on the phone.
“Crawfish pie,” she said in her soft southern Louisiana voice. The pie is made with the tail of the crawfish and in a cream sauce. It comes in a pie crust she makes from scratch. The perfect seasonings come from her grandmother who could not read or write. As a child, Linda observed and learned how to mix the seasoning. She has bottled and named her grandmother’s mixture, Bodacious Creole Seasoning, which is sold in stores. On the day of our conversation, Linda was in talks with Whole Foods about carrying her products.
|GG, Linda Gibson|
The Gibson family, Linda, her three children and her husband, are Katrina survivors who sought refuge in the north Fulton area of Atlanta after the storm decimated their home and fledgling restaurant in New Orleans. The family had lived in New Orleans East, and she said that neighborhood is just now, nine years later, beginning to come to life again.
I have kept up with Linda Gibson through my sister, GayMoring, who came into Linda’s life “at its lowest point” and worked diligently to help her find shelter, furniture and funds to pay off debts. The Presbyterian Church my sister attended generously provided an amount of cash, and Gay gave time and extra effort to raise more money.
“If it hadn’t been for the love and kindness of Gay and her church, I wouldn’t have made it,” Linda told me.
Gay Moring was taken with Linda Gibson’s tenacity, her persistence in following her dream of owning and running a restaurant to make a living for her family. Gay, with help from Stu, her husband, asked friends and acquaintances to make cash donations to help the Gibson family. Caring people from here as well as in Atlanta area sent checks and notes, proving that we still have those who believe in helping those who are less fortunate, even when they are strangers in need.
“I felt like a foreigner in a foreign land,” Linda said about trying to find her way around Roswell and Alpharetta, GA. She appreciates Gay and all those who showed compassion for her family.
“It was frightening, like going into the unknown,” Linda remembers. She had never lived anywhere but New Orleans. The city was her home. For a long time Linda yearned to go back, but she knew there was nothing for her there. The emotional strain of losing all that was familiar and all her worldly possessions took a toll on her. Eventually she had to let her flooded home go as it was impossible to try to save it. She realized that her future was in Georgia, but it was not easy to accept.
Raised by a single mom and a grandmother, Linda credits her grandmother’s seasonings of her Creole food to the success of the three-year-old restaurant she had before Katrina destroyed it. People would stand in line each day just to get her seafood gumbo and her crawfish pie. Starting a restaurant takes money but all was lost when Katrina blew into town.
Linda is very grateful to her Lord. “I have embraced this incredible gift given to me by God, the ability to prepare food that people love to eat.”
Linda Gibson cooks now in a commercial kitchen in Woodstock, GA but sells her “dishes to go” in a store front at 34 Webb Street in Roswell, GA. Her oldest daughter graduated from Tulane and is marketing manager for the restaurant. Another daughter joined the military and serves in the U.S. Army.
The only boy in the family has disabilities but he works in the restaurant. He is her “heavy lifter” she said, and she could not get along without him. “He is the best son anyone could ever have. He never gives me any trouble.”
During the dark days after Katrina, Linda and her husband handled their grief in different ways. As often happens after a tragedy, the couple separated. But they are back together, supporting each other, again.
“He hangs sheet rock and paints and helps keep the family afloat,” Linda told me with a laugh. He also helps with the restaurant.
“I met many wonderful people who showed such a lot of love during those difficult times," Linda said. "I will never forget them and many of them kept in touch. Some of them became good friends."
A year after Katrina, Linda opened a second restaurant in Woodstock, but she said she was blindsided by the recession. That hit her hard. Now GG's Fine Foods in Roswell, her third effort to share her love of Creole cooking, is growing by word of mouth. Her products are sold in some Kroger stores and she hopes to one day have them in stores all over the country. This video interview with Linda and a few of her customers will entice anyone who loves New Orleans food to stop in and take home their favorites.
In September, Linda Gibson will have a book signing at the store on Webb Street. She has written a cookbook with her favorite recipes of Southern, Creole and Cajun flavors. Stay tuned for the date and if you live in the area, be sure to stop in and meet a strong woman who refused to give up her dream.
It takes courage to keep striving when it seems that all is lost, and it takes courage to ask for help when you must. While the restaurant business is not easy, and Linda has overcome great odds to be where she is today, I’m betting on this woman and her family.
Visit Linda's website www.ggsfinefoods.com
See HLN video