Monday, November 23, 2009

Weathers Creek Writers' Series


Few writers workshops top the experience at Weathers Creek, a North Carolina farm whose owners - a delightful family of sisters and their mom - have dedicated their gorgeous, rustic cabin to writing and writers, learning and sharing ... and eating. From fresh-out-of-the-oven homegrown fig Danishes in the morning to homemade lunch (with garden-grown veggies) to the, oh, yeah, writing and talking about writing, the Weathers Creek Writers Series stands as one of the, if not THE, finest workshops around.

Okay, never mind that I was the instructor. The students were dedicated, engaged, involved, interested and talented, the owners caring and nurturing and determined to ensure everyone's happiness - artistically and gastronomically. To sit in overstuffed living-room chairs or to pace on a hardwood floor splashed with light from ample windows, all around a hand-built rock fireplace in a cabin of rich history and modern convenience ... and to share WRITING ... is just this side of paradise.

The series draws top-flight writers in an intmate, safe (all levels of litarary artists attend) and art-drenched setting, where art and emotion run free. How much more energized can one get?

All workshops begin at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. on Saturdays, with two hour-and-a-half sessions sandwiching a lunch that, alone, is worth the price of admission. To anyone anywhere near North Carolina (or not), DO NOT miss this most extraordinary of opportunities. Here's a handy .pdf link for registration. Space is limited (often; the room is intimate!), so join early. And often.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Reader From Australia

Here's the PERFECT REVIEW from a reader - not a reviewer, not a critic, but an ACTUAL READER - from Australia, who posts his reaction to THE PLUNDER ROOM on Goodreads. As I writer, if I've touched one soul, I've done my job. Hallalujah, and thank you, dear readers!

This isn't what I'd usually read, and Im not sure if I'd have picked it up if I didnt win it from Goodreads, but I ended up quite liking it :) It took me ages to read this, but not because it was bad - I just havent had time, which sucks because I really loved the characters.
The description is so rich and the characters are so strong, and you really get a sense of their personality and quirks. I initially thought this was just going to be a book about a Southern family coming to terms with loss, and that there'd be a lot of mysteries and sinister stuff in the Plunder Room, but it was a lot different than I expected.
It is about family and legacy, but it's much deeper, darker and more complex than that. Each character has their own struggles, and some characters have more than a few skeletons in the closet. It's about family dynamics, and how you can be related to someone yet know so little about them. And of course, it shows how honour is so unimportant to people these days, as all the characters in the book are continually compared to the late and great Edward Randol Duncan.
Without spoiling it, there's a really sinister subplot involving Annie Harkin, and although I kinda guessed what she might have been up to, I didn't want to believe it : it's interesting, because while she seems initially innocent and gorgeous, she turns out to be quite despicable - while Jupe and Jerod seem seedy from the outset, but their story was not as worrying as I initially thought, and they redeemed themselves in the end.
It's really nice to see the whole family come together in the end, and this book is just a really great character study. There's no sugarcoating it - at times these family members hate each other, and they don't hold back in showing it, but injuries, loss and shady dealings bring them all back together in the end, and they sort of learn to love each other without it being at all cheesy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book Trailer, Book Clubs and more

If you haven't seen the Book Trailer yet, check this out.
(Produced by David Martin and Glen Craney)

TIME MAGAZINE: Check out TIME magazine online. I'm quoted, along with a mention of THE PLUNDER ROOM, weighing in on Gov. Sanford's affair.

BOOK CLUBS: They've all been way much fun. Most recently, a Book Club spent TWO hours with me at The Handlebar dissecting THE PLUNDER ROOM and its multiple layers and archetypes. Great entertainment, all FREE (except for the meals and beverages, of course) ... Call The Handlebar at 864 233 6173 or email to book your Book Club!

NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN devotes nearly a full page. Peter happens to be the Music City's music critic - that alone makes him world class - AND he's one HELL of a great songwriter himself AND he writes beautiful prose. PLUS! Peter and I shared the pages of MAKING NOTES: MUSIC OF THE CAROLINAS. His new CD with Eric Brace, "You Don't Have To Like Them Both," is enchanting, filled with listenable gems, a critical darling and acclaimed all over the national press.

MAKING NOTES: If you haven't picked up your copy of the nonfiction collection of essays, MAKING NOTES: MUSIC OF THE CAROLINAS, the book is a Must-Shelf. Edited by the sublimely talented and generous Ann Wicker and published by Novello in Charlotte, NC, the handsome paperback tells you everything you need to know to stay in tune with . . . the music of the Carolinas.

MINDY FRIDDLE FANS. Her new release, SECRET KEEPERS, is out, and it's better than Publishers Weekly says it is. From the first get-you-chuckling line to the story that wraps you into the world of her widow, Mindy knows not only how to involve you in her people, but she knows how to involve you in the full range of human emotion and the human condition, as well. Her blog's a blast, too.

COOL New Website: Despina Yeargin, longtime Handlebar fan and fellow writer, has a magnificent new Website, filled with inspiration and a fabulous new publication model for stories and poetry. PLEASE check out her Alpha Publishing & Communications. Born in Greece, Despina is one of those women who delights and enchants, enthralls and inspires. One stop at her Website, and you'll get the picture.

Random thoughts: Coming up! July 24 marks the 25th anniversary of my kidney transplant. My brother, Stephen, gave me this quarter of a century of life. Without him, no Handlebar, no PLUNDER ROOM, no Whole Lot of Things; he's the Clarence to my George Bailey - it's a wonderful life. And ... my love to Kathy, always.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tampa Tribune gets all sunny

Marvelous piece in Sunday's
Tampa Tribune
by Michelle Bearden

Monday, January 12, 2009

Media, Press & Glowing Attention

Read Alli Marshall's insightful look into
the book in Asheville's MOUNTAIN XPRESS.
MALAPROPS appearance at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20

Hear my Your Day interview with Sandy Woodward on SC ETV radio.

Bill Stephens' review in the SAN ANTONIO-EXPRESS-NEWS ... National press!

Lillia Callum-Penso's great story in the GREENVILLE NEWS. (Link's broken - and they make you pay for the archive.) Can somebody help figure out another way?

Jeremy L.C. Jones's fine piece the SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL.

See Cindy Landrum's outstanding two-page feature in the Greenville Journal (week of Jan. 16, not available online).