Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Authors beware- Good article on ncwriters.org

I am happy to see Charles Fiore of the North Carolina Writers' Network address the problems that often occur when authors seek to publish books independently, that is on their own instead of submitting to a traditional publisher and having them take care of the editing and printing, etc.

Of course, it takes longer to submit your manuscript to publishers and you might receive more rejections than you'd  like. In fact you might give up after a few and say to yourself and anyone else in earshot, "I'll publish this book myself."

But as Charles points out, it is a dog-eat-dog world and people want to make money. So authors beware and be careful.  Like the woman in this article, you could agree to spend thousands of dollars and receive very little in return.

We will talk more about this subject in my publishing class on July 23. See www.glendacouncilbeall.com for information on registering for this class in Murphy, NC.


In the Dark, a poem from Now Might as Well be Then

Recently  while reading some of my poetry at the tour of gardens in Hayesville, I was asked to read this poem from my book, Now Might as Well be Then, published by Finishing  Line Press in 2009.


In The Dark
by Glenda Beall

I lie here in bed, my cheek against your shoulder,
remembering a night, long ago, on your boat.
I was afraid.  I felt too much, too fast.
But you were tender, and love crept over us
like silver fog, silent on the lake.
We were never again the same.

We stepped like children through that door that led
to long passages unknown, holding hands, wide-eyed, but brave.
Here I am years later, listening to your soft breath
and feeling your warm smooth skin.
In the dark, now might as well be then.


The title of the book comes from the last line in this poem. Many poets stress out over trying to find the perfect title for their poetry books. I did. Every title I thought of was unmemorable. It was Nancy Simpson, well-known and highly published poet, who chose the title for me.

Recently in our weekly poetry class, we studied famous poet, Theodore Roethke. His  first book was called Open House and the title was suggested to him by another poet, Stanley Kunitz. This is  yet another reason to surround yourself with writers and poets if you are a writer or a poet. 

We often see something in another person's work that they don't see. Writing is done in isolation, but we need community and that is why I  urge my students to join writing groups, attend writing events and make friends with other writers. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The ending of a bad week for the country and a good weekend for me

The  past two days have been busy but fun. I worked at our booth at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville Saturday and Sunday. 


I wish I understood why I can sit for hours talking to strangers and meeting new people with no pain in my back or my feet or anywhere although my doctor tells me not to  sit for more than an hour at the time. I thrive on meeting and talking with people. If anyone is a People-Person, I guess I am. It is a  joy for me to discuss writing and get to know individuals who are interested in writing and in books. 

Joan Gage took the major part of the work off me this year. She and her husband Rob set up the tent,  the tables and brought all of it back to my house today when the festival closed.

It was a special joy to help a woman who recently lost her husband, buy a book on widowhood that will help her deal with her grief. It is On Our Own, Widowhood for Smarties, and I have two poems in it. She came by today and told me she had been reading the book. 

I got a kick out of selling a couple of books for someone who sat there and basked in the buyers' appreciation of  the author's military service. 

Marsha Barnes surprised me with her beautiful children's book, but more so with her sales ability. She  told me she worked on the floor selling furniture at one time. Then  I understood.

If I  did nothing else this weekend, I hope I helped the  other writers see that  it is not hard to invite passersby to come in and sign up for a free book, then open a  conversation with  them. The purpose is not to sell them a book, but to engage them in conversation, and if they seem interested in the books, talk about the books. Most of the time, the passersby will  take a book with them when they leave.

Dispensing information about our writing group and making our literature available for those who might want to know more was our goal this weekend and we did that. Would-be writers  now know where to go for classes and for more information from professionals who are willing to help them.

This week I'll teach a poetry class, promote classes by others who will teach at my Writers Circle studio, and  hopefully find time to  swim a couple of times. I hope to go to  a critique group and have lunch with a friend. This week will be full and will pass too soon as all the days of my life seem to  do now. 

I will try not to  listen to the news because I can't fix anything and worrying about it makes me ill. I will live my life in a way that I hope is an example to those who fail to see that divisiveness could be the downfall of  our country. Reaching  out to  help others in whatever way you can might seem a small thing, but when we all do that, it is a large thing. 
Have a good week, my friends. 


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Do you shop on Etsy? Some good finds today.

We have in our area, two delightfully talented twin girls or young women, I should say.
They are known as the Pressley Girls, who sing and  play various instruments. I've known  their mother since the girls were small and never met a kinder, sweeter, and more caring  person.

Today she sent the viewers of her blog which is all about Appalachia, to Etsy and her daughter's page.   This twin is known as Chitter. Her sister's nickname is Chatter. Katie and Corie are their real names and I can't tell them apart.

The Etsy page is filled with handmade jewelry that most young people of today would love. Please share this with your grandkids or young girls who like jewelry. The prices are very reasonable.

I loved to wear the earrings  on Chitter's page when I was younger. I  liked the  one of a kind, handmade by someone, appeal. Even though I seldom wear earrings today, I have kept many of those beautiful items over the years.

Check out Chitter's  handy work and  let me  know what  you think.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 4th is a special anniversary for me.

I mistakenly posted a story on Writers Circle blog, www.glendacouncilbeall.com 

It is a story about my first date with my late husband, Barry. See how things started out so badly and ended up so differently.


Have  you ever had a bad first impression turn to a good one?

Barry at Mexico Beach  Florida, early seventies


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Novelists I Recommend for Your Summer Reading

I like to share good things with folks I like, which is  almost everyone I know including my readers.  Joshilyn Jackson has won all kinds of local awards and is a  NYT Best Selling author. She  lives in Decatur, Georegia. You can read about her life here.  The first of her books that I read was Between Georgia and I was hooked. You can see on  her website she is a busy writer and has several more books available. Her novels are decidedly southern, and I like that. I heard her speak at the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference a few years ago. She was down-to-earth and shared some good advice on writing.

A friend of Joshilyn is Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants which was made into a movie. Sara lives in Asheville, NC and was guest at the Blue Ridge Bookfest in Hendersonville, NC this year. Bill Ramsey held an interview with Sara on stage. You can see that interview here.
Sara's website is most interesting with sound effects and more. My dog, Lexie, almost attacked my computer when she  heard the cawing of crows.

Susan Snowden, author
A friend of mine, Susan Snowden, has published a collection of short stories. Her first novel, Southern Fried Lies was set in Atlanta in the fifties and sixties, and the main character, Sarah, is a teenage girl. I liked reading about places I recognized and, since I was a girl in the fifties, I could relate to some of the problems such as racism and parents choosing who Sarah could date. Sarah's mother seemed more concerned with what people would think than she was with what her children wanted. She was obsessed with her son and wanting to control his life.

The mother caused most of the conflict because she was mentally ill and made life hectic for her family. In Susan's book of short stories, A Closet Full of  Masks, she begins with a novella about Sarah who has grown up and is trying to  decide which college she should attend.  I was delighted to see this book end with a final story bringing us full circle as we attended the funeral for the difficult mother who was loved in spite of her irrational behavior. The other short stories portray interesting characters with unusual dilemmas. I recommend both of Susan Snowden's books.

Do you  have any recommendations for summer reading? Leave a comment and tell us.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Downsizing?? I Can’t do it!

Every time I think I might sell my house and move to a condo or some place where I have no yard to take care of, I wonder if I can actually live without my garage and my storage room and my basement.

After Barry died, I thought I could live upstairs in 1000 sq. ft., and I could use my basement area for my studio, guest bedroom and a small storage room.

Now, I am moving most of my office back to the basement. When a room is so cluttered you cannot bear to even enter it, the time has come to do something drastic. Every surface in the bedroom I had turned into my office was covered with papers, books, magazines, boxes and anything that didn’t have a space of its own. On the floor I had boxes filled with papers, pads, mail, and everything was mixed up. My writing, my genealogy research, my personal papers, my writing group information, family business papers – all those things I never got around to filing or stashing away in binders, or finding a good place for, blocks the  path to  my desk.

I would like to buy a one level house near downtown Hayesville in a community where the house will be maintained and the yard will be cared for with only an annual fee from me. I like my privacy and must have a place for my dog, a little one, but some outdoor space. So I’m not sure a condo or apartment would work for me.

This past week my sister was here and she helped me carry some of the boxes out of my office. We tried to clear out the room to get rid of the old carpet and to put in easy-care flooring. I’d like for the room to be pleasant again, one I enjoy entering. I hope to continue to use it for my personal office duties, but also use it for a second guest bedroom when necessary.

Students working at Writers Circle around the Table

Downstairs I will have room for my writing classes, my computer desks and my genealogy files as well as some of the papers generated by my writing. Still, I have to purge, big time.

All of that takes time, and I hate to have to spend my precious time going through and tossing out. Time is the one thing we cannot purchase, hoard, or make more of and I feel time rushing past faster and faster every day. I also find that I often have to take some of that time each day to take a nap so I can carry on with the rest of my daily plans.

In spite of some flares this week with health issues, today is a beautiful day and I plan to work on the poetry class I teach each week and the publishing class I will teach in July. So much to do, so little time.

I hope your day is good wherever you are today. Enjoy your time and read what Leigh Cutrone has to say about downsizing on her blog.



    Sunday, June 19, 2016

    Poems about My Father on Father's Day

    A young couple live in Florida during the Great Depression when jobs are scarce and a young man must do what he has to do to keep his family housed and fed. 

    The Ice House Job

    After working 9 hours in the hot Florida sun,
    he came home to eat a meal with her and his kids.
    She told him how she wished he could stay with her
    and rest, let her rub his back. I get scared here without you.
    But he said he had to pay the rent, put food on the table.
    As the kids were tucked into bed, he climbed
    into his old truck, headed to work.

    It should have been a relief after the sun burned
    his skin to dark brown leather, but he wore his ragged
    jacket and a cap with flaps over his ears
    as if he had walked into dead of winter in Wisconsin.

    Alone in the quiet he wondered how long could he go on
    working two jobs, getting little sleep.
    His back, tired from plowing mules all day,
    his hands cold and chapped, he chopped
    the fifty pound blocks. With both hands he clamped
    the tongs that griped the slippery squares, swung his shoulders
    tossing his burden up on the platform, over and over
    until the clock said midnight, quitting time.

    He climbed into bed too tired to bathe.
    Her hand reached through the night,
    touched his face. He slept but she lay awake
    thinking of going home to Georgia, seeing her folks,
    hearing him laugh again, and tell his stories to the kids.

    After forty years of farming, a man can't just sit down and quit. He rises early every day and works a large plot of ground that feeds his children and grandchildren all summer, if only they would come and harvest his crop.

         
    Daddy with his granddaughter, Carrie, on his birthday. Note the baseball player and the baseball on the cake. He loved baseball and was a very good player when he was a young man.
     Gardener

    Once he cultivated vast acres of cotton,
    peanuts, harvested bounteous crops 

    Grey haired, now he sits in his frayed lawn chair,
    sweat staining his chambray shirt, pock-marked
    with burn holes from his Pall Malls.

    His stooped frame rests from a morning
    spent spraying tomatoes, trying to murder
    small bugs who battle him for his harvest.

    His eyes survey a pristine garden.
    Tall corn and green beans climb twine
    strung on poles in rows equally distanced.

    Piles of summer squash strewn on clean straw
    hide under leaves large as sun hats.
    He caresses the cropped ears of his canine friend.

    The cigarette ash grows long. He hardly notices
    the shortened smoke, the fire against his callouses.

                ---Glenda Council Beall





    Saturday, June 18, 2016

    I am in love with the Irish

    Watching Celtic Thunder perform Legacy, an album of their most familiar and best songs on Georgia Public Broadcasting this afternoon, is better than being in a concert hall for me. On TV I can see each young man's face up close, and I can't do that even in the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I have been a big fan of this group since they first appeared on public television 8 years ago. Their personnel has changed some over time and we lost the wonderful George  Donaldson who died unexpectedly a while back.

    Now without George and without the fantastic tenor, Paul Byrom, I wondered if I would enjoy them in the same way. But I love their Irish music and their great harmony. I also enjoy the fabulous band that accompanies them.

    Their audiences range from young kids to elderly people. The performers are personable and I love the accents. I have become a huge fan of Celtic music, Irish and Scottish movies and TV shows. I am so appreciative of Public TV and Public Radio for giving us something clean and beautiful to watch and to listen to in our cars.

    In 2014, I went with Gay and Stu, my sister and brother-in-law, to see Paul Byrom at Kennesaw College in Atlanta area. I told him that I really miss him since he left Celtic Thunder and he said, "You don't have to miss me. You can come to see me in concert and you can listen to my solo albums." And I do. His concert was in a small venue and he interacted nicely with his audience, but I still miss him when I see the group perform.

    Irish Tenor, Paul Byrom and me in 2014

    Sunday, June 12, 2016

    A Picture Book



    I grew up on a farm where we raised cattle and I learned to appreciate the gentle beasts. A field of cows grazing brings a smile to  my face. I could hear the soft munching sound as the grass was wrapped around by the long thick  tongue and broken  off . I could stand in that field with those cows and the grazing would be the only sound I'd hear. I think this yellow weed is a wild mustard. 


    I photographed this field on Mother's  Day when I was driving out to Hinton Center for lunch with friends. The  sight of this golden expanse in the  bright sunshine had to be captured and shared. But a small picture  can't do it justice.  The Moore family owns this  property, I believe, in Clay County North Carolina.




    Today was exceedingly hot in our part of the  world. It was not the best time to  be outside. I read some poetry at the Enchanted Gardens Tour held by the Clay County Historical and Arts Council. I was there only an hour but I read several poems and they were appreciated even by those who had to  stand in the sun to listen.
    I was pleased when someone asked me to read a certain poem from my book, Now Might as Well be Then. It is titled In the Dark.  She said she loved that  poem and one of the women photographed the page. She really  liked the poem. I had not taken any of my  books with  me,  but I  believe I would have sold some if I had.

    Because of the heat, I enjoy looking at pictures I've made of winter scenes. The one below is the view from my living room to the east.



    My little Chi-weenie has presented me with another  challenge. This past week she escaped her potty yard and ran away. She is small and when she is in the woods, I can't see her. The only method I have found to get her to come out of hiding is  to start my car and call her. She likes to  ride in the car. 
    I had to find out how she managed to get out of her fenced area so I checked every corner and found no sign of digging or opening in the  fence. I let her  out with me thinking I will watch her and see if she will show me where she is getting out. Immediately, she went up to the  fence and began to jump and if I  had not caught her she would have been gone again. She can jump the fence in one place, I  know, and I wonder if she has other places where she flies over.  She has a  long body and when she stands on her hind legs, she can almost reach the top of the fence. Who would ever think we would  need a five foot fence to keep an eight pound dog inside?

     Look at this face. He tiny teeth, about the size of rice kernels, peek out even with  her mouth closed. She  has a funny  little face.  I can tell her brain is going in this picture as she plans her  next move to get my attention.



    This is Lexie, sweet and sleepy. I can't think about how much money I have spent on this "free" dog, or I would get mad at myself. But the joy she brings into my life makes it all worthwhile. 

    I have a feeling that most  of my readers have pets. Do you have a special four legged friend that costs you more than you had planned?







    Sunday, June 5, 2016

    Hair, hair, long beautiful hair

    From as early as I can remember, my hair has been an important part of me. Perhaps because Mother and June, my older sister, had very pretty hair and June spent most of her time on her hair as she got ready for work each morning. Like me she had long black hair, down to her shoulders. I don’t mean dark brown hair, but I mean dark black hair the color of a raven’s wing, that black that shines in the sun.

    We get our black hair from our mother
    My hair and Gay, my little sister’s hair, were that same black. I remember our neighbor calling us the little black-headed girls, as though we were somehow special. Maybe that was because all of his kids had dishwater blond hair or dark brown.

    Mother let my hair grow long and she braided it into two pigtails that hung down past my skinny shoulders. Gay’s hair was naturally curly until she became ill with whooping cough around the age of three. Then the curl fell out of her fine hair. As a child she had a simple haircut, what I think of as the Pilgrim look, the same length all around and bangs cut straight across.  I am sure mother cut her hair the easiest way possible.

    June had beautiful black hair

    When I was in first grade at Mulberry Elementary School, Mother and June thought it a good idea to  take me to a beauty shop in the home of a lady near the school. I think it was June’s idea to take mother for a Permanent Wave. June worked and had some money to spend on such. I don’t know why they put me through this torture. Maybe it was because curly hair was desirable and mine was far from curly. The owner of the shop rolled my hair with a foul smelling liquid on it. Then she hooked each roller to a cord that ran to a machine on a stand. The rollers heated up I believe and cooked that awful smelling concoction into my long hair.

    Mother used to say my hair was like a  horses’ tail, coarse and thick. When finally the rollers were taken out, my head looked like it had been wrapped in a mass of tight curls.  The beautician tried to run a brush through those curls, but it tangled, stuck and would not go through. She held my head and struggled with her brush, pulling my hair until I cried. Mother could not stand by and see me cry so she paid the lady and took me home.

    June was there and she began to try doing something with the mass on my head. She thought a comb would work better than a brush, but the comb would not penetrate my new hairdo either. I hated my hair and felt ashamed of how I looked.

    Each morning was sheer torture as June tried to make me presentable before I ran out to the school bus. As soon as I heard the bus horn, I escaped from June’s clutches, and tore out the door, my face wet from crying.

    Looking back, I think I might have been the first white person with an Afro hairdo. My head looked twice as big as it was and it looked way too large for my tiny face.  June and Mother constantly discussed what should be done with my hair. Even I knew I could not continue going day after day without my hair being combed. One day Mother took me back to the beauty shop and told the owner that she needed to do something about my hair. In spite of my objections, she cut about three inches off, shampooed my hair and when it was dried, she brushed and combed it into a more reasonable style. Mother said I was too tender-headed to  have curly hair and in time the  Permanent Wave grew out and left me with straight hair again.

    My brothers, who were in their late teens, spent hours in front of mirrors putting on hair tonic, Brill Cream and arranging their hair. They sang together in a gospel quartet and learned from the concerts they attended, that the men who performed on the gospel stages had taken considerable time with their hair styles.  

    My brothers looked as comfortable on the stage as the Statesmen Quartet. Ray had blue eyes and short, black and rather thin hair but it was neatly in place. Max had black hair, carefully oiled and combed. Rex, the blond one in the family, wore his hair long in front and combed to the side. Hal, the lead singer of the quartet, took pride in his good looks and never a hair was out of place on his head. They were quite handsome and the women loved them.

    We can hardly describe anyone without mentioning their hair. My tall, thin father wet his head and combed his thinning dark hair straight back from his forehead, wearing it the same as when he was a boy, I imagine. He seemed to not care a whit what his hair looked like nor did he want to do anything unusual with it.When he was outside he always wore a hat.

    My hair was as black as my poodle, Brandy, when I was first married.

    Over the years, I have loved my hair and I have loathed it. Permanents that went wrong, haircuts too short, and some terrible hair styles. In the seventies, wigs became fashionable again. My sisters-in-law, Yvonne and Salita, bought wigs far different from their natural hair color. I wondered why at the time. But they looked good as blonds, and they say blonds have more fun. I tried to wear one, but it was hot and never stayed in place. 

    I once tried to change my hair color when I was in my thirties. However, the color I had  hoped for was not the color I saw in the mirror. I had not wanted red hair. I didn’t look bad, but it was not me. The pictures of me at that time look like photos of a stranger.

    When, a few years ago, the gray in my hair began to outnumber the black, I turned to coloring my hair again. The dark brown low-lights covered much of the white. I had a salt and pepper look. Salt and pepper just gives a hint of age to a woman.

    Ten years ago, June in the chair, Glenda on the left and Gay on the right. I was more salt and pepper then.
    Today, my hair is white, but I have a few strands of blond thrown in to keep the color from being too flat. I don't  like looking old, and I hate that people automatically think you are senile or feeble when you have gray hair. People definitely do treat you differently when your hair changes from dark to light. I can vouch for  that.

    I like my haircut and the compliments I get on my hair, but when I look at myself in the mirror, it startles me. Who is that woman? Where did my shiny black hair go? Inside, I am still that girl with the dark hair, only smarter and more confident, and, in many ways, much happier.





    Tuesday, May 31, 2016

    NCWN West will be on the Historic Courthouse Square again in July

    Each year our writers' organization, North Carolina Writers' Network - West, sets up a booth at the annual Festival on the Square in historic Hayesville, NC. 

    Thousands of  people descend on our little mountain town for that weekend. This year it will be held July 9-10. This event is sponsored by the Clay County Historical and Arts Council. This is one busy organization throughout the year. Their devoted volunteers work tirelessly on the festival and on the Tour of Homes at Christmas plus working to bring art into the schools.

    I  have  lived here for over twenty years and have attended this festival most of those years. My family from south Georgia used to come up and we would sit in the shade of the big trees on the square and listen to local musicians and singers entertain us. We ate the best bar-b-que cooked right on the site and ate ice cream, drank home-made lemonade, and visited with folks we might not  have seen in a long time. 

    Visitors come from Florida, South Georgia as well as our local region. It is a wonderful opportunity to introduce this beautiful area to people who might want to retire here or open a business here. We would love to have small businesses locate around our historic courthouse square. 

    Clay County has much to offer tourists who come for a vacation. We have the fabulous Lake Chatuge, a huge lake for boating and fishing. The John C. Campbell Folk School, just across the county line, has become world famous for their educational programs for crafts and music as well as classes for writers.

    Not far away is the new Cherokee Casino, another Harrah's, here  in the mountains. In Hayesville, we have two community theaters and the plays are topnotch. The Peacock Playhouse is another landmark in the county. 

    This year Joan Ellen Gage is our chairman for the NCWN-West festival booth. She will set up our tent with tables and chairs for our members to sit and talk with visitors about their books and about membership in NCWN West. 

    We will hold a drawing two times each day, Saturday and Sunday, for books or discounts on classes.

    FESTIVAL ON THE SQUARE 2016   Hayesville, NC 
    Festival dates – Saturday, July 9 (10-5) 
    Sunday, July 10 (10-4) 
    Street Dance Friday – July 8

    Families turn out for the street dance on Friday night. Elderly and children enjoy the mountain music played by a local band.

    I hope to see you at the festival in July.