Monday, November 29, 2010

The Tale of Ole Green Eyes

You never know what will happen when you are on Facebook. Sometimes it's good; sometimes it's not. About two weeks ago, a good thing happened to me on Facebook.

There I was, reading away, responding to several posts, liking some, happily wasting a few minutes before returning to writing. One of my friends, a new friend and fellow writer, Cathy Kennedy, popped up on chat. She was so excited. Copies of her first children's book, The Tale of Ole Green Eyes, arrived in the mail. She wanted to share her thrill at being able to hold her book in her hands. (I don't know that feeling yet. I can only hold my manuscript.)

One question led to another and I asked Cathy what her book was about. A children's story set in Appalachia. Hmm. I'm getting more interested in Appalachian literature, so naturally I was intrigued. I asked where I could read about the book. Next thing I know, Cathy had emailed me the complete manuscript. Wow! I could now enjoy her joy.

Remember, my youngest daughter is in her thirties and her little pink peanut won't be born until March 2011. So I don't have much current knowledge of children's literature.

What I do know is this tale is charming. Great-Grandma Sarah tells Brittany and Nicole a scary story about a black panther named Ole Green Eyes that lived near her house in East Tennessee when Sarah was a child. Naturally, any story about a panther has to inspire goosebumps and thrill-chills in young listeners. Midnight, the family cat, lies next to the girls and listening to the story too.

One fall day, the girls and their grandparents go out to the orchard to pick apples. The girls wander off, picking and eating apples. They laugh at their grandfather's warning about wild animals in the woods. The wind rises when the sun began going down, rustling leaves and stirring the imagination. The girls run for the safety of the old farmhouse when Nicole screams that Old Green Eyes is after them. "Mew" says Midnight the cat.

As I said, it is adorable. The watercolor illustrations, like the cover above, enhance the story.

Good job, Cathy. For those of my readers who have children, you can buy The Tale of Ole Green Eyes at Amazon or on Cathy's site, which is linked above. It is published by Mirror Publishing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fred First on Earthcare

Yesterday, the Friends of the Franklin County Library and Smith Mountain Arts Council worked together to bring Fred First to speak on his love of our planet earth. Fred lives in Floyd County and has been blogging about his exploits there since 2002. I've been reading his blog since 2008 and love it.

Fred drove down and back in dense fog (see his latest blog entry) on a barely two-lane highway unfit for cars or trucks. Even the deer avoid it. The enthusiastic audience loved his presentation, though, so I trust the hair-raising trip was worth it.

Fred read a couple of essays, talked about his passion for the earth, showed us a wonderful multimedia show of photos and music, and even let us complete our Christmas shopping. Yes, he thoughtfully brought copies of his two books, Slow Road Home and What We Hold in Our Hands. I saw many of the guests walk out with copies of each. Wonder how many will find their way into Christmas stockings. Mine belong to ME.

BTW, I filtched Fred's picture from his blog.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Virginia Writers Club Annual Meeting

Virginia Writers Club (VWC) held its annual meeting last Saturday, November 13, at the The Mount Vernon Inn. Hosted by the Northern Virginia chapter, more than ninety members gathered to approve a new board of directors, present the Golden Nib winners, and raise money for our scholarship fund.

The keynote speaker was John Gilstrap who gave a rousing speech on how he got his first novel into print, writing screenplays for Hollywood, and his latest release, Hostage Zero. The title of his talk was "The Secret to Overnight Success (After a 38-Year Day)." Funny, poignant, serious, Gilstrap's singular word of advice was "Never, ever give up." He recounted an anecdote about taking a writing course, wherein his teacher told him he had no talent. Gilstrap said he regrets the teacher died before his first book was published. "I told you so" doesn't work if the recipient isn't around to hear the taunt.

VWC's new slate of officers will be meeting soon to begin planning the 2011 meeting schedule. I urge all writers in Virginia to join. We need you as much as you need us. Maybe we need you more. My goal is to get every published Virginia writer, and serious yet-to-be-published writers, to join. This is a fine organization and does good work in promoting the literary arts to writers of all age groups. If you are a part of a writer or critique group, go out to the web site, read what we do, and join. Please.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Riding Lessons

I've had a run of bad luck with audio books in the past four weeks. I wanted to listen to Sara Gruen's Riding Lessons, because I loved Water for Elephants. Gruen took me inside the world of the circus, but she didn't take me into the world of horses.

Instead of being swept away by the story, I was put off by two things: the reader and the story itself.

The reader, Maggi-Meg Reed, overemoted to the point that I wanted to scream. Not only did two of the main characters whine and kvetch their way through 9 CDs, but the way Reed read the story was way over the top.

The protagonist Annemarie has a terrible run of bad luck. It's enough to make anyone cranky. Sure, she had to deal with a sudden divorce, job loss, a rebellious teenaged daughter, her father's illness, and moving back to the family home. She becomes obsessed with a horse. When her daughter disappears, her mind is still on the horse, not on the missing girl. Alas, it wasn't until the final CD that Annemarie began to come out of her self pity. To add to my dislike, the ending was forced and rushed. I didn't see enough growth in Annemarie or her daughter to lead to the "everyone lived happily ever after" ending. Bunk.

By the end of the last disk, I was ready to shout "enough already." I'm not sure I'll pick up another of her books.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Disappointing Novel

My husband Terry and I go to Annapolis for every Navy home game. For years, we've sat with the same group of fans, all season ticket holders, so we have formed a transient yet compassionate community. Because the drive is five hours each way, we pick up audio books at the local library. It gives me a chance to try writers I've never read before. Most are good experiences. This week's entry wasn't.

I chose Ted Dekker's Bone Man's Daughter. I had never read any of his twenty books before. Billed as a thriller, it had a decent plot, good characters and enough action to keep us listening. It also had too many phrases repeated until they lost all meaning. I mean, how many times does the protagonist have to feel like throwing up until he does, Answer: not until halfway through the last disk.

The plot had enough red herrings to keep us guessing as to who the Bone Man was. And why he killed the way he did. But, the trauma inflicted on the protagonist to set the events in motion was belabored and told too many times. I just want to get on with the action.

I talked with Terry about my disappointment when we finished it. He said, "Now I know what you mean. Even a New York Times best-selling writer needs a good editor."

This book could have used a good editor. I'm not sure I'll ever pick up one of Ted Dekker's books again.