a note from Bob...
So now itís really Spring.
And Iím glad.
In this corner of eastern Kentucky we had a bunch of false starts this year. Itíd warm up for a day or three, just long enough to get me to thinking it was time to put the felt hat in the closet, get out the straw one, then suddenly weíd be splitting firewood again.
Julie and I had us a bit of an adventure in the course of one of those "false starts." It was a nice enough day to head up to the Enex Cemetery, the oldest Sloan cemetery in Rowan County. (If youíve read Enex Ground, you know the place Iím talking about. If youíre curious about its history, the essayís on line here.)
When the ground surrounding the cemetery belonged to my second cousin Milton Sloan, it was easier to make the drive to the graveyard coming up via his place, and if we got there by coming up Campbell Branch, weíd drive off to Miltonís. Three or four years ago the young guy who owns it now told Cousin Fred and me itíd be no problem if we wanted to come past his house on the way down sometimes.
After I mentioned that alternative route to Julie, nothing would do her but had to try it now, never mind itíd been raining for the better part of three days and the rough road down off the hill would be a mess.
If there even was a road down off the hill.
She didnít want to hear about my ideas of going back to the house and getting the 4WD Dodge, rather than trying it in the 2WD Moby Dodge weíd driven up the hill road.
Turns out the old road did exist, in a form rugged enough Julie even complimented me on managing to complete the trip down to Miltonís, where the road ended.
Ended about thirty yards short of where it used to terminate.
Ended in the middle of a great mud field where Kenny, the "new" owner of Miltonís farm, keeps a herd of horses.
Ended where there wasnít actually a gate out of the damn field. . .
Had Kenny not been home we might be sitting there yet but soon as he managed to quit laughing at my Dodge, mired almost to itís exhaust pipe in um, horse exhaust, he got us out there with his tractor.
Betcha the next time Julie wants to try a new route off a hill I go look at the other end first, see if it deserves the word "route." Or at least "cow path." And thatís thereís a gate at the other end.
By the way, if youíve got a minute, check out the "blurbs" thatíll be on the cover of Home Call when it comes out: Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall) and Silas House (Clayís Quilt).
Next week (Saturday, May 1st) Julie and I will be at the Ohio River Festival of Books at Huntington, WV. Rick Bragg is one of the literary "stars" scheduled to appear, with the book he co-wrote with Jessica Lynch, Iím a Soldier Too. Bragg also wrote Avaís Man, which has got to be one of the finest family biographies Iíve ever read. Iíll be doing a writing workshop there, signing copies of Bearskin, and getting Bragg to sign my copy of Avaís Man. This is only the second time this festival has been held. I was at the first one purely as a consumer, not a writer, and thought it was one of the finest such events Iíd ever seen.
If youíre anywhere near Morehead Thursday May 5th, Iím going to be one of the players in Alma Orphans, an original "play for voices" by Phil Krummrich, head of the English Department at Morehead State University. email@example.comItís a ghost story, of sorts, and will be read at the Folk Art Center at 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 13th is Reading Appreciation Day at Lay Elementary School in Barbourville KY. firstname.lastname@example.orgThe event lasts from 5-8 p.m., and you can see who else will be there here.
Friday, May 21st is the date for the Clay County Reading Celebration at Manchester KY, from 5-8 pm. This very successful program, which encourages youngsters to read books, is being emulated all over Kentucky by other school systems, including the one at Barbourville. This yearís site is Paces Creek Elementary School, and you can get more information by e-mailing Judy Sizemore.
Thursday, June 3rd is the a real "literary day" here at Moreheadís Coffeetree Books, one of the finest independent book stores Iíve encountered anywhere. At 1:00 p.m. 2004's Chaffin Award will be presented to John Sparks (from Floyd County), and from 2-5 p.m. a slew of authors will sign books at the store. This will also be the first opportunity to buy my novel Home Call.
On Thursday, June 10th, at 6:00 p.m. Iíll do a reading from Bearskin to Holly Fork at the Carnegie Literacy Center in Lexington. Then at 7:00 Iíll conduct a workshop about succeeding with a small press. The readingís free, and thereís a charge for the workshop, which I promise will be very useful to anyone who has published, or is thinking about publishing with a small press.
Where we've been:
Julie generally goes with me to signings and book fairs, but she sat out the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, where I had a great time. This is where the Kentucky Literary Awards are presented in fiction, poetry and non-fiction categories. Bearskin. was nominated in the fiction category, and didnít win, but the competition was pretty fierce. I was tickled to death when poet Charles Semones won in the poetry category though. Charles is published --as I am-- by Wind Publications, and it was a fine thing to see a small press author win such a prestigious prize.
(An aside: last November I was scheduled to read with Charles and another writer at Black Swan Books, an event which turned into my night to learn the answer to "What if they gave a reading and nobody came?" Nobody at all showed up, but that was still one of the best --and most Christmasy-- nights ever because Charles read his long poem The Young Preacher's First Christmas Eve Sermon to the Congregation of the Cowskill River Baptist Church. It was a purely wonderful experience, hearing that one, from the source.)
The Morehead Womenís Club had me in as a speaker at their April dinner meeting, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you write at all, you surely must know what a lovely thing it is when an audience really listens to one of your stories or poems or essays or whatever. The MWC gave me that kind of attention, and it was much appreciated.
Earlier this month Julie did her first reading, at the Folk Art Center here in Morehead. Iíve been telling this woman for years she is a writer, and a very good one. After she read, lots of other people told her the same thing.
Finally, this morning (Saturday, April 24th) we were part of the first Spring Book Festival at the Bath County Memorial Library in Owingsville KY. There were sixteen writers there, and every one of them --including me-- was impressed with how well organized this event was. Brenda Vance, the Bath County librarian who put it all together did a wonderful job. If your own library is thinking about doing a book festival for the first time, youíd be well advised to call Brenda at 606-674-2531 and talk to her.
Seriously, she did a great job.
Most of these newsletters run seven or eight hundred words, and when I checked, my word processor said this oneís way past a thousand, so Iíll close it.
Thanks, if you read this far.
Keep in touch, and thanks for all the early support you all are giving Home Call.