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Showing posts from 2019

The Writingest State: John Joins The North Carolina Writers' Network

John is the newest member of the NC Writers' Network, a statewide organization dedicated to supporting writers of all genres from "the writingest state." The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes, and serves the writers of this state. We provide education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write. The North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.

John's Weekly FIELD NOTES Column is Now Published in Speckled Paw

John's weekly rural lifestyle column FIELD NOTES is now available as part of the Speckled Paw Newsletter. You can sign up to receive this excellent publication here .

John Recieves Henry W. Little Award for Community Leadership

What an incredible day! I was pleased to offer a very well-received presentation on rural economic and workforce development at the NCWorks Partnership Conference in the morning, and was then honored to receive the Henry W. Little III Award for Community Leadership at the Chamber Annual Dinner last night.

Veering Off-Topic And Loving It

My tour for  Ocean of Storms  continued yesterday at Hampton B. Allen Library's Brown Bag Lunch. As with my previous tour events, I talked a little about the book and read some passages from it and my previous book,  Ben and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance . The Wadesboro audience, however, was equally interested in talking about my other role, as economic development director for the county.  A lot of very exciting things are happening in Wadesboro economically and the group wanted to talk about the new REV Uptown development, economic mobility, uptown parking, and the "Turn Back the Clock" event in September. That's great! When I arrived here three years ago in October, people were far less engaged with issues of the economy and the ongoing efforts to improve  the lives of Ansonians. As we have moved out front and made some visible progress, folks have become far more interested in what's happening and how they can be involved. As I told the audien

A Lazy Afternoon On Sentimental Street

Saw you walking out on Sentimental Street. What you doing out there? Who you trying to be? I had some time after my last book tour stop in Ohio and before my flight back to North Carolina, so I decided to take a sentimental journey to some of the obscure places I used to visit with my family back when I was a kid. Actually the whole tour was something of a sentimental journey, with stops at the Toledo Zoo, Put-In-Bay and the Ida Rupp Public Library, but this last drive hit some very specific and unusual spots that I have a special emotional connection to. The first stop was Toft's Dairy in Sandusky. Toft's has dozens of dairy bar locations now throughout Northwest Ohio, but back in the 70s if you wanted their ice cream you either had to buy it at the grocery store or stop by their main location on Monroe Street. I wasn't surprised to find that they have built a brand new facility a couple of miles away on Venice Road--the original location was showing its age even was

Taking Ohio By Storm

I wrapped up the Ohio leg of my tour for Ocean of Storms Thursday evening at Gathering Volumes Bookstore in Perrysburg. I love small-town independent bookstores and Denise Phillips’ store in what was called the Country Charm Shopping Center back in the day certainly fits that bill. As I was setting up for my event, a man came in with his 5-year-old daughter and asked for a book on sea turtles. Denise walked over to a table and found EXACTLY the right book. That’s the sort of customer service you definitely do not get at Walmart. Thanks to Denise, my event went off without a hitch, and although the audience was a little smaller than at the launch party in Port Clinton is was still a lot of fun! And just to show what a great bookseller she is, I left with a new book, myself, The Marsh Kings Daughter by Karen Dionne.

You Can Go Home Again

I kicked off the tour for my latest book, Ocean of Storms, last night in my hometown of Port Clinton, Ohio. A great group, including several of my PCHS Class of ‘80 classmates, came out to the Ida Rupp Public Library for an hour of reading, humor and discussion. The first story in the book, The Age of Rockets, is set in a factionalized version of Port Clinton on the night of July 4th, 1969. On that night a tremendous storm, an inland hurricane actually, struck the eastern Great Lakes, causing massive damage. The story, which I read two passages from, takes that real life event and runs with it.  I also read a chapter from my previous book, Ben and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance, my nonfiction semi-memoir which contains several anecdotes about the area and my upbringing there. Just a great night all around.

he Beat Goes On In Davidson

I spent 90 minutes at Main Street Books in Davidson last night with two dozen other writers and guests. The event was an open reading the bookstore calls "The Beat Goes On." The readings ranged the gamut from deeply personal poems to lighthearted children's stories to a fractured fairy tale. For my part, I read "A Hard and Threatening Place," a short story from my first published collection, The Bug Jar and Other Stories. I often open my events with this piece because it is short, first-person and has a little kick at the end that typically gets an audience reaction. Writing can be a solitary avocation; hours and hours spent alone in one's own mind. We alternately fall in love with our own work and underestimate our own abilities. Sometimes we need a reality check (this isn't that good) and sometimes we need a boost (this isn't as bad as you think). I've been cultivating my relationship with Main Street Books and the Main Street Writers gr

What's Your Mood, Dude?

If you were alive in the mid-70s, you probably owned or knew someone who owned a mood ring. These cheesy accessories featured a stone which changed colors, supposedly according to the wearer's emotions. In reality, the stone was a piece of glass with a layer of liquid crystals in the base. These crystals rearranged themselves based on the ambient temperature, causing them to reflect light in different ways and appear as different colors. Whether they could in any way reflect the mood of the wearer is highly doubtful, but it was cool, relatively low-cost technology in an era when simple four function "pocket" calculators cost the equivalent of $250 in todays money and the handful of existing "fax" machines took hours to transmit a single page and ran five figures. What you may not have considered is that mood rings never really went away, they just grew up, got more capable and became liquid crystal displays. In fact, there's a good chance that you are re