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Showing posts from 2020

FIELD NOTES: Keeping your Christmas plants alive after the holidays

There's really no reason to send those plants you use to decorate for the holidays to that great compost bin in the sky. Most of them make great year-round houseplants, and with a little care can provide many years of enjoyment. In this week's Field Notes column, I discuss ways to keep them standing tall into the new year.

FIELD NOTES: We tend to despise what we monetize

Many years ago, I had a consulting firm and landed what I thought would be a fun gig: helping turn around a struggling small used book store. It was an opportunity for me to prove that – unlike in the movie "You've Got Mail," (pictured) – a boutique bookstore could compete with a mega-bookstore like Barnes & Noble. The gig did not go well, however, and I learned a lesson: The saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” might be true for some, but a corollary, “Monetize what you love, and you will come to despise it,” rings far more accurate. Read about it here .

FIELD NOTES: Attractiveness ≠ beauty

I ponder a deep question in my Field Notes column this week: Does the nature of beauty itself change, or is beauty an immutable equation? To answer that question, we need to make a distinction between attractiveness and beauty. Click to read more about an issue that has been pondered since there have been navels upon which to gaze.

Black Friday, White Crow

I will be offering a special free ebook promotion through my Amazon Author Page starting Friday, November 27th, and running through Monday, November 30th. My Kindle Short-Story Single “White Crow,” usually 99 cents, will be free to download.   www,

FIELD NOTES: Talking turkey and loafers

This week in my Field Notes column,   I look back on the days when my shoes came from a place called   Flippen's . Not most of my shoes, mind you;   all  of my shoes. The store, and others like it, earned that loyalty by doing things like sending gifts to customers who were sick. Well, time passed and my family eventually took our business to a shoe outlet store in the interest of saving a buck. Things did not go well. At all. Read about it here .

Need a speaker for your book club, garden club, or civic organization?

COVID-19 has put a damper on typical live author events like signings, readings, and workshops, but in a sense, it has also opened up opportunities for “garage band” authors like myself to expand their reach beyond a “reasonable driving distance.” Where doing a virtual event would have seemed weird six months ago, today even A-list writers are participating in Zoom readings, mail-in signings, and Facebook workshops. Some authors are even resorting to guerrilla marketing tactics to bring readers to theIr virtual events. Outdoor mystery writer Keith McCafferty, for instance, offered one of his exclusive hand-tied trout flies to the first 10 people to join the virtual launch party for his new book, The Bangtail Ghost . While I’m not nearly as good a fly tier (or writer) as Keith, I would be pleased to speak virtually at your bookseller, garden club, book club, or civic organization event, and, yes, I will have promotional items as giveaways. Drop me a line at and let

Speaking today at opening of new Loba-Wakol HQ in rural Anson County

I was pleased to offer few words today at the official opening of Loba-Wakol’s new North American headquarters in Wadesboro, N.C. Loba-Wakol announced in May of 2019 that they would be moving their HQ from Charlotte to the Anson County town. The company looked at more than 65 buildings in the Charlotte region before choosing Wadesboro, according to Ashley Carter, Loba-WakolNA COO. The company, a leading supplier of adhesives and finishes to the wood and resilient flooring industry, began renovations on the building shortly after the announcement, including the demolition of the former office area and the construction of a new HQ office suite. In all, Loba-Wakol is investing $6.6 million in the project which initially created 24 jobs, but will ultimately create up to 50 with the addition of a manufacturing component in 2021.  Anson County is a rural Tier 1 county an hour southeast of Charlotte. For more information, visit

FIELD NOTES: Made-for-TV Halloween

  Halloween fell on a Saturday back in 1987, and I remember it well. My wife, Janet, and I, along with our brand new beagle puppy Jake, had made all the preparations for a big night – lights, candy, cider, etc. Then ... crickets. No one showed up. It was so boring, we might as well have watched PBS. Fast forward to 2020, when Halloween again falls on a Saturday. In a year that's already seen its share of horrors, what might Oct. 31 hold? Check out this week's Field Notes column.

Netflix Rebecca is just okay

The new version of Rebecca on Netflix isn’t great, but if you haven’t read the book or seen the 1940 Hitchcock version (and I’m guessing most people haven’t) it’s a decent-enough way to spend two hours. Although the film is still set in the world of the novel, it has a much more modern sensibility. The second Mrs. de Winter of this adaptation is a far stronger and more capable character. That messes a bit with the chemistry of the story. The Hitchcock film feels more like a horror movie because the character is so powerless. By making her stronger, this feels almost like a police procedural, and that necessitates a slightly different ending. 

John Wins Second Anson Award in Four Years for His Short Story 'Esque

For the second time in four years, John took home First Place in the Adult Prose category at the Anson County Writers' Club Award Ceremony, held Sunday, February 23rd at the Little Theater in Wadesboro, N.C. His short story "'Esque" beat out strong entries "If It's Black and White It's a Holstein" by Kelly Liddington, and "Come Ye Thankful People, Come" by Kaye Ratliff, which won Second and Third Place, respectively. The judges praised the way John's story "started as a conventional narrative, then took the reader to unexpected places with a winning mix of humor, pathos, and metaphor." John joins just a handful of multiple-Anson winners in the thirty-one-year history of the awards. His short story "Bandito" also won the Adult Prose category in 2016. The award comes with a cash prize and publication in the triennial Anson Pathways collection. In his acceptance speech, John explained the title of the story:

Main Street Writers Davidson with Dale Neal

John had a great meeting last night with Main Street Writers in Davison. The special guest author was Dale Neal, who describes his book, Appalachian Book of the Dead , as a "Southern Gothic Buddist mystery." Dale read the first chapter of the book and answered our questions about his writing process and how he got published. We also workshopped John's short story "Bittersweet Gypsum" and it was great getting the group's feedback on his piece.

REV Uptown Wadesboro Ribbon Cutting

John was pleased to say a few words and help cut the ribbon at REV Uptown in Wadesboro, North Carolina this morning. The REV Uptown Building (old Roses Building) is located at 114 W. Wade Street. The building houses the Anson County Chamber of Commerce, Anson Economic Development Partnership , Uptown Wadesboro, Inc. , Anson County Tourism Development Authority, Speckled Paw Coffee Wadesboro and a coworking/incubator space. It is a prime example of John's work helping rural communities compete in a 21st century economy.

New Beginnings Moravian Garden Groundbreaking

On Sunday, January 26th, John joined Pastor Russ Williams and members of the congregation of New Beginnings Moravian Church at the church’s property at the corner of Black Farms Road and N.C. Highway 73 in Huntersville to break ground on the new garden ministry. New Beginnings Moravian Garden is an outreach ministry of New Beginnings Moravian Church of Huntersville, North Carolina. The garden project was approved by the church board in October 2019. The garden will be located on a 13-acre tract of land the church owns at the corner of Black Farms Road and N.C. Highway 73, about 3 miles from downtown Huntersville. The primary purpose of the garden will be to provide fresh produce for local food banks, fulfilling the Biblical imperative to feed the hungry. The garden ministry will also offer education and outreach programs that will strengthen the resilience and self-reliance of the community while communicating the church's prime message of salvation through Jesus Christ