#weekendcoffeeshare 12/10/2016

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“Jenn, I’m so glad you’re back for our #weekendcoffeeshare! It’s been a long time since we’ve had coffee together,” I said as Jenn came through the door.

“Oh, I’m glad to be back. I’ve been gone too long. I’m anxious to hear what’s been going on. Let me help you serve everyone.”

“Thanks, Jenn,” I said.

As folks started coming round, Jenn and I served coffee, cappuccino, expresso. We also served apricot, chai, and Indian spice tea, along with hot chocolate. Everyone settled in with their hot beverage of choice. They were all glad to see Jenn.

Jenn started our coffeeshare by telling us about her recent trip to the Ft. Myers, Florida area, which is also one of my favorite areas in Florida. They had actually stayed in Punta Gorda but had visited one of my favorite Florida towns, Matlacha. It is a small, “old Florida” fishing village and one of the communities on Pine Island, FL, a place where Jenn and I have both vacationed many times. Matlacha has some of the best seafood restaurants and bars in all of Florida, in my opinion. Pine Island is also one of my favorite places to vacation, at least on the Gulf side of Florida. Great deep sea fishing and sightseeing to the outer islands. The best grouper I’ve ever eaten. A quiet old Florida culture.

I wish I was in Matlacha right now! It’s getting cold in Kentucky. Last night was in the low 20s and today, we’ll be lucky if the temperature gets out of the 20s. The dreaded polar vortex has decided to pay us another visit as it did last winter. Kicks my seasonal affective disorder and newly-discovered claustrophobia right into high gear! Maybe I’m getting used to winter. I’ve haven’t noticed it as much this week.

I want to tell you about the most interesting book I’m reading. Writers have to read, of course. It’s called Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Some of you may know that I come from an area of the country very near to Appalachia. Vance wrote this novel about Appalachia, his home, and it is an excellent story and also a good look at the culture of the area. If you’re interested in Appalachia or just in different cultures, give it a look. It really is a good story. I hear it isn’t terribly popular in the Appalachian region. Vance doesn’t always paint a flattering picture of the culture but what culture doesn’t have unflattering aspects? If you are interested in the Appalachian culture, try books by the author Silas House who is a good writer technically and knows the culture inside and out. House is a wonderful storyteller.

I have gotten very little work done on my novel this week. This novel seems to be so character-driven. The characters have taken on a life of their own and, in any psychological thriller, there are a number of twists and turns. One character has caused a major twist this week. I have to see where this one takes me.

I’ve been really fond of listening to classical music this week in my writing studio. Do you find that music with lyrics disturbs your writing? I surely do. So classical or jazz it is. Sometimes, I prefer silence. I moved out into my writing studio to escape the television in my house. I do have a television in my studio but, so far, I’ve only turned it on for the news. There is so much news, these days, that I sometimes watch too much of it.

We know, as writers, we all need a good printer. I finally broke down and ordered a Brother Laser Printer. I can’t wait for it to arrive. I’ve used a problematic Epson Inkjet for a long time now and I am so tired of buying the extraordinarily expensive ink cartridges. I was shocked at how far down the price of the Brother printers have come. You can also get wireless ones, which I did. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check them out. The price is more than reasonable.

I may have another cool “writer” purchase to tell you about next weekend!

That’s it for this weekend. I have to wrap-up our coffeeshare a bit early. I’m doing something exciting today. I’m going, with my girlfriend, to a performance of the ballet, “The Nutcracker,” at the Lexington Opera House, this afternoon! I’ve never seen it so I’m super excited, I will tell you all about it next week.

Have a great week and a productive writing week! #amwriting #amblogging #writing

*This post is sponsored by parttimemonsterblog.com

Thanks, Diana!

 

 

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Book Review: Clay’s Quilt

Clay Sizemore, a young coal miner who lost his mother at a young age, is the main character of Clay’s Quilt. This novel by Silas House, a renowned Kentucky author, was House’s debut novel in 2001. I’m reviewing this book for you because it is one of the best novels I have ever read. It is worth reading whether you are interested in Appalachia or if you are just interested in reading a good novel. If you like a heart-wrenching story, populated by colorful characters, and set in the most difficult of environments, you will enjoy Clay’s Quilt.

The story is a microcosm of life in Appalachia based on this one Eastern Kentucky family but it will strike a familiar chord to members of all Eastern Kentucky families. I know this writer, at times, felt like I was reading about my own family.

Free Creek, the setting for the novel, is located in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, near coal mining operations. Young men like Clay Sizemore and his friend, Cake, are born here and never expect, or want, to leave. They settle into their occupations, raise a family, have a big extended family full of aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, and this is their life. It can be a very good life. It can also be a hard life, but these people, the people of Appalachia, don’t know that. This is all they know and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Clay Sizemore lost his mother in a tragic car accident when he was three years old. That day, an icy and snowy winter day, Clay’s mother decided she was going to leave her husband. She took Clay with her and lost her life on slick roads. His extended family closed ranks around him and raised him from the age of three. After that day, Clay never knew his father. He had his beloved Aunt Easter, who took care of him as a boy. He also had Uncle Paul, who made quilts, and Dreama, his cousin who he loved like a sister.

Clay became a hard-working coal miner. He worked in the mines during the day, but on the weekends, he and Cake went to the local honky-tonk, drank their fill, and listened to their mountain music. There he met the beautiful Alma, a fiddler with whom he wanted a future, but Alma had her own problems. Most importantly, Clay had a box of his mother’s possessions from which he tries to put together her past, hoping to figure out who she was and who he is. During this time, Uncle Paul is making a quilt – out of the pieces of Clay’s mother’s clothes.

This is a beautiful story written by Silas House in lyrical prose. It is short on sentimentality and long on descriptive characterizations and good storytelling. It is easily readable in a weekend. Clay’s Quilt is a stunning and mystical novel that will stay with you for a long time after you read it.

You can get the Kindle edition at amazon.com or the hardcover or paperback at Abe Book’s. Enjoy! #writing #am writing #blogging #appalachia #Best_Books