a note from Bob...
Are you a member of a group, club or organization looking for speakers? If you're within a hundred, hundred and fifty miles of Morehead KY, I'd sure like to talk to you, or to whomever schedules your programs.
Winter goes on, huh? It's been fairly lightweight so far, but at the moment my 2WD truck is more or less stuck on the driveway ice --I could move it but it'd probably take out a chunk of fence-- and we're using Julie's 4WD to get around.
And paying the requisite big ol' fuel bills. . .
Where Julie and I will be in the next little while:
Feb 29th (a Saturday): If you write, think about coming to the regular meeting of the Clear Creek Writer's Club at Shepherdsville KY. I'll be talking about the advantages and disadvantages of small presses to writers who want to be published, and will do some manuscript critiques as well.
If you're anywhere near Athens, Ohio on March 3rd (a Wednesday) stop by the Blue Gator Restaurant and Blues Club downtown. Between sets I'll be doing some readings of NPR essays and maybe a story from Bearskin. This will be my second such appearance there, and if this is anything like the first reading, it'll be fun. The food at the Blue Gator is outstanding, by the way.
On Saturday, March 27th, Julie and I will be at the East Tennessee State University Celebration of Books and Authors. Details can be found at:
April and May are going to be real busy for us, and I'll let you know about that in the next newsletter.
Where Julie and I have been, what we've done:
On January 6th, I was interviewed about Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia on WKYT, a Lexington (Kentucky) TV station. My friend Cameron Foster, in Athens OH took a tape of my three minutes and turned it into a video file. There's a link to it at my site index in the event you'd like to see it.
(An aside: Cam Foster's as modest a guy as I've ever met, and you can look all over his home page and find just one little mention of the Emmy he won while he was working for a public television station in Oakland CA. That's the sort of thing most of us would crow about forever.)
The interview I did with James Bickers at WFPL in Louisville is archived here.
Around the same time as the interview, I sent the contract back to Wind Publications about my novel Home Call, tentatively scheduled for a late May or early June release.
Julie and I were at Mountain State University, in Beckley, WV, February 9th-11th. I did a reading at the John W. Eye Conference Center, and spoke to an Appalachian Studies class earlier in the day. Donna Spencer and Vanessa Thompson, who set all this up, told me it was one of the larger crowds they'd had for the "Appalachian Visions" program. I have never had more fun in three days. We couldn't have been treated nicer, and I was well behaved enough they say I'm welcome to come back sometime.
Julie and I made a fast-flying trip to New Orleans to pick up a piece of furniture I'd left down there. We spent nearly all our time in the Ninth Ward --the French Quarter's your basic tourist trap-- and hung out at Vaughan's Lounge one night when a trumpet player named Kermit Ruffins held forth. He plays Vaughan's every Thursday, and although there's a ten dollar cover --half of that if you're staying at the Mazant Guest House as we were-- Ruffins serves up dinner for the crowd between sets.
This time it was red beans, rice and andouille sausage.
If you go to New Orleans without stopping at Vaughan's, you're a tourist. If you stop in the place you'll make some friends and get to see what a real neighborhood bar there is like.
The piece of furniture we brought back is an old timey bedroom dresser that was in my paternal grandparent's house. My mother refinished it for me years ago, and I'd left in care of an exwife, who was now in the process of moving. And it's a battle-scarred old heirloom:
When Rose and Baldwin got married in 1911, she told him she'd leave if he didn't stop drinking. Baldwin didn't test her resolve until 1925, when he went on a toot and came home to find his pregnant wife had decamped to her sister's house at Van Lear, Kentucky. (That's why my father is the only member of his family not born in Rowan County.) In her absence, Baldwin --who may not have been altogether sober at the time-- spilled a kerosene lamp on the dresser, and burned it.
My mother left some of the burn marks on the back, where they don't show.
For the past couple of years I've been on the committee that decides who'll get the "Lillie C. Chaffin Award for Excellence in Appalachian Writing." Recently we made the decision, and I'm pleased to announce this year's winner is John Sparks, from Offutt, Kentucky. If you're interested in Appalachian history, you have to read John's book, The Roots of Appalachian Christianity: The Life and Legacy of Elder Shubal Stearns. Despite the title it's a wonderfully accessible --and occasionally very funny-- piece of good historical writing.
The Chaffin Award will be presented to the author at a special ceremony, open to the public, on Thursday, June 3rd, here in Morehead at the Kentucky Folk Art Center.
Later that afternoon a "mass book signing" at Coffeetree Books will be the first time anyone can get a copy of Home Call. Twenty five or thirty other authors will also be signing books, and it's a great afternoon for meeting some of them. Mark your calendar and come on down...
Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia has been nominated for two awards. Berea College is considering it for their "Weatherford Award," and it's also been nominated for a literary award at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest at Owensboro, in April.
My short story "Shoe Leather" was accepted by American West Magazine, an e-zine that's an impressive site for all things western.
Guess that's all the news from Rowan County. Come and see us if you can.