Heather Henson, reads from her picture book, That Book Woman, illustrated by David Small, published by Atheneum/Simon and Schuster. The story was inspired by the work of the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky. It has been published in many languages around the world. Permission to video book reading granted by publisher.
Frank X Walker is the current Kentucky Poet Laureate. He also happens to be a Danville native and a DHS grad (just like yours truly.) So some literary types in Danville have organized the first ever literary fest in Frank’s honor. Be sure to come to Danville and check it out. Here’s the schedule:
The Frank X Walker Literary Festival
Thursday, September 18, 2014
“Turn Me Loose…. The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” Convocation
I’ll be in beautiful downtown Stanford, Kentucky on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with other Kentucky writers. Please join me! I’ll be reading my books to kids at 11:00 a.m. Here’s more info about the event!
Wow! I just met with a group of amazing girls yesterday! I’d been invited a while ago by Trinity Episcopal here in Danville, KY to be part of their Summer Reading Group. Yesterday I arrived at Trinity to discover there were only 3 members of the program, but the small number made no difference at all! The three gals I met and spent some time with had so much presence, enthusiasm and spark — enough for a whole roomful of readers!
First of all, what great questions! Each one of these young minds had very focused, very specific questions about the story I read, the book itself, the art, how the art gets to the page….just really terrific! I read from That Book Woman, and then we talked about the Pack Horse Librarians (first question: were they all women? Answer: no, but there were only a few men who worked as PHL’s), talked about the time period (1930’s), about the poverty and lack of schools or libraries back then. We talked about old time customs, like drinking Sassy Tea and looking at how thick the black band around the middle of a wooly worm is as a way of predicting how cold the next winter will be.
All three girls — Lina, Addie, and Jade — like to write stories as well. We talked about the journals they’re creating, and they said they might help me out with some ideas for a book I’ve been trying to write about “Runaway Hennie,” my son’s pet chicken who seems to disappear all day long and then reappears mysteriously at night as if nothing has happened.
What does Runaway Hennie do all day anyway? Maybe the girls can come up with some good ideas this week! Maybe I could post them on my blog here!
Anyway, it was just a special day. Thanks so much to Jan at Trinity for inviting me, and thanks to all the other folks there who were so friendly and welcoming.
But the biggest thanks of all goes to you girls! You are the BEST! Don’t lose that curiosity! Don’t lose that love of learning! Don’t lose that spunk and that unique thing that makes you YOU!!!! Don’t lose that fantastic GIRL POWER!!!!!
I’m really excited to announce that not one, but two of my books, Dream of Night and That Book Woman, are both finalists for the 2011-2012 MD Black-Eyed Susan Book Award. Yay! (Black-eyed susans happen to be one of my fav flowers!)
It also happens that Catherine allowed me to guest blog on her site recently, and I wrote about how thrilled I was to receive a fan letter from a class in France. In the letter the students had written an imagined scene (in French) between Cal and the Book Woman. How creative! Below is a picture of the class holding La Dame des Livres.
Merci to the students — and to Catherine — for allowing me to be a guest on her blog.
I’ve been participating in the Kentucky Book Fair for almost ten years now, since my first book (YA novel, Making the Run) was published in 2001. It’s always been a lovely event, with local school visits the day before, and a reception for authors the night before, and finally the event itself. I always see it as a time to get to know new writers or become reacquainted with writers I don’t see very often. It’s a great opportunity to talk to Kentucky writers whose work has deeply influenced my own, like Bobbie Ann Mason, Wendell Berry, Gurney Norman, George Ella Lyon.
This year, I met Heather Clay, who grew up in Kentucky and now lives in New York City (we have a lot in common!). Her first novel is called Losing Charlotte (published by Knopf), and I’ve just started reading it, and the writing is lyrical and lovely, and the story is starting to grab me so that I know I’ll have trouble putting it down very soon.
I also got to see my old friend Maurice Manning, a guy I grew up with/made it through those crazy high school years with. It’s interesting that we’ve both become writers, having grown up in a pretty small town. Maurice is an amazing poet, and very prolific. His latest book of poems is The Common Man, published by Houghton Mifflin. I haven’t started to read it yet, but it’s on my bedside table — can’t wait to dive in!
A couple of other writers/books that really grabbed my attention this year: I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles by Ron Penn and How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders by MaryJean Wall, who was a turf writer for the Lexington paper for years.
I have a personal connection with John Jacob Niles. He used to come visit my parents and hang out at the Pioneer Playhouse when I was little. He once told my mother that she had one of the purest voices he had ever heard. And he would often bring his dulcimer and sit with my mother and they would sing together, entertaining the dinner guests before the night’s show. For those of you who don’t know, John Jacob Niles is considered one of the most influential songwriters and balladeers of the American folk music tradition. He is particularly known for collecting and documenting songs of Appalachia.
So…I probably ended up buying more books than what I “earned” selling books. But that’s what often happens anyway when I’m surrounded by books and writers. Have to support my fellow artists!
Sadly, it was a smaller turn out than usual. The economy is definitely still hard hit. People aren’t rushing out to buy books, let me tell you. But the people who did come out to the Kentucky Book Fair this year — as is the case every year — were passionate about books and reading. There are always a lot of parents who bring their kids, and that’s always so heartwarming. Every parent I talked to during the fair said that they want to instill a love of books in their kids, and it’s obvious that they have already — and that makes it all worth while!
Here’s a picture of me at my table, taken by photographer James Sullivan. Thanks James, for letting me use this!
And thanks, as always to Connie Crowe, who does SO very much. Thanks to the folks at Joseph-Beth, especially my gals, Brooke and Rachel — you two rock!
I will be at the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday, November 13 from 9-5, selling and signing books along with 150 other authors — both from KY and from elsewhere around the country. It’s a very cool event, one of the oldest book fairs in the country. Please come to downtown Frankfort on Saturday and check it out.
Here are the facts, from the Kentucky Book Fair website:
The central purpose of the Kentucky Book Fair, Inc. is to bring writers and patrons together in celebration of their mutual interest and to promote awareness of the importance of writing and reading within the general public. The Book Fair supports and encourages writers of all genres and uses proceeds from the Fair to benefit other causes associated with the promotion of reading and writing, especially libraries.
The Book Fair, now in its 29th year, is a one-day event, held this year, on the second Saturday in November (November 13, 2010). The event takes place in Frankfort, the state’s Capitol City. The Book Fair is operated by a non-profit independent board of volunteers, with co-sponsorship from the State Journal, Frankfort’s daily newspaper; the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, a state government entity; the University Press of Kentucky and Joseph Beth Book Sellers, Lexington, Kentucky. Several businesses and organizations in the state provide cash donations which are used for operating expenses. This year’s event will be held at the Frankfort Convention Center. Several symposiums are planned throughout the day as well.
This past month has just flown by. It’s been a blur of school trips and homework and Halloween costumes and way too much candy and runny noses and strep throat and birthdays. My twins just turned 6! Hard to believe. Yesterday they were tiny babies; today they are highly opinionated kindergartners.
I have also been trying to finish a novel in between the everyday stuff. Not an easy feat. But I am glad to say that I am down to the finish line, and hope to have something to show for my efforts by Thanksgiving. (Yipeeee!)
In the meantime I will be at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort on Saturday, November 13. This is one of the oldest book fairs in the country, and I’ve been going for about 6 years now. I’ll give more info about the fair and the folks who run it in my next post, which will be in the next coupla days, I promise, not in the next century!
Before then…this is where I’ll be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….until my novel is done….:)
Arrived in San Antonio last Tuesday (October 12), and was met by Virginia Walsh, librarian of Wilshire Elementary, and my hostess for this trip. Was treated to a spicy Tex Mex dinner by Virginia and other district librarians, Susan Staffier, Sherry Phillipus, and Marisa Crippen. What a great group of gals! On Wednesday I began my round of school visits. Went to Oak Grove Elementary and Northwood Elementary. Then on to Wilshire Elementary and East Terrell Hills. What a terrific group of kids. Most of them are from the city, so I think they were fascinated by some of “old timey country ways” I talk about in That Book Woman. The district I visited always tries to get an author of a Texas Bluebonnet Book Award nominee to come talk to their kids, and so it was truly an honor to be a part of this tradition. I got to see the poster of the Bluebonnet nominees, with my very own Book Woman included. It just gave me such a thrill!
It was a long day of flying back to Kentucky, since I had to go through Detroit. But there were no delays, and I was thrilled to get back home since I hadn’t seen the kids or husband in 4 days. It’s been kind of a whirlwind few weeks, what with WEG and Books by the Banks, and the San Antonio trip. Lucky for me, I’m home for a while. So I’ll have some time to spend with my family, and I’ll also reflect a little on the whole WEG experience and do some posts on that. The next big event will be the Kentucky Book Fair on November 13, in Frankfort, KY. Will write more on that later as well.
Wow, Nebraska is gorgeous! I had no idea it would be so green and rolling. I flew into Omaha and was met at the airport by the lovely Karen Drevo of the Norfolk Public Library. From there we drove north and east, criss-crossing the wide Missouri, dipping into Iowa and South Dakota, eventually wending our way to Norfolk, home town of Johnny Carson.
I was not the only author invited to the Norfolk Literary Festival. My partners in crime were Deborah Hopkinson and Tony Varrato. It was fun sharing a car and a weekend with these two wonderful writers. Deborah’s Apples to Oregon is one of my all-time favorite picture books. Her new book, Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek is a new favorite.
Tony Varrato (who kindly provided all the photos for this post) is the author of the young adult novel, Fakie, a gritty story, boldly told. He’s the kind of energetic, funny, inspirational English teacher I wish I’d had in high school. Not only is he a good writer, he can juggle!
One of the reasons for our visit to Norfolk was to give a writing workshop for kids. I was thrilled to have three unique and talented young women in my class: Krista, Aeriel, and Mattie. We did some writing, some giggling, some sharing, some reading, some more writing, some more giggling. I was really impressed with the love of books, the interest in writing, the observations, the immediate connection these three girls had. Thanks, girls, for helping to make my day so special! And remember what I said: keep writing, keep writing, keep writing! And also: keep being you, keep asking questions, keep dreaming! I know you all will go far!
After the workshop I talked to a great group of folks about how I came to write That Book Woman, which celebrates the work of the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky. Many in the crowd were librarians themselves, and I always love talking to librarians about librarians, sharing the stories and photos of those early book women.
People came from far and wide for this annual festival (above are some of the attendees along with me, Deborah, and Tony on the end). The librarians of Norfolk are great organizers and motivators.
The staff of the Norfolk Public Library (pictured above) are real book lovers and troopers. (I hope you get some air conditioning soon!!!!)
Alas, at the end of the day, it was time to bid Nebraska adieu. I really enjoyed my visit. Thanks to everyone, including the Norfolk librarians and especially Karen Drevo (I’m so sorry I don’t have a pic of you by yourself because you, lady, are one stylish librarian!). Thanks to Deborah and Tony too for making it such a memorable trip.
Please check back soon because I’m going to add Deborah’s and Tony’s website to my list of fav websites (but first I have to ask my helpful husband and web monkey, Tim, how to do it 🙂