Extraordinary Biography: Ray Carpenter’s ‘Scribbles’

Author Ray Carpenter shares his life’s story in ‘Scribbles,’ a tale that takes readers on a journey from Graham County, around the world, and back again. Based on the author’s journal entries, Carpenter weaves the memorable, and at times humorous, tale of his life.

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Scribbles
ISBN: 9780989216975
eBook Price: 3.99

After honorably serving in the U.S. Navy, Ray Carpenter graduated from Western Carolina University with degrees in science, English, and philosophy, and received certificates in CPCU designation and Insurance and Risk Management from Georgia State. Now retired from the Hartford Insurance Company, Ray has one son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. Ray is currently working on his second book while residing in his mountain cabin near Robbinsville, North Carolina.

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 Available at the following eBook distributors:

Amazon
Kobo
Google Play
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iTunes

 

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Laughter is the Best Medicine: Book Review of Jack Hinson’s “Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories About Healing Humor”

I didn’t expect the absolute wonderful way this book was written! The objective of this book was to convince the reader to let loose a bit and laugh some more. It gave the pros and cons of dealing with tense and difficult situations with humour, using both bible quotes and scientific evidence to back up the amazing side effects of laughing. Not only that, there was a delightful and pleasant structure to the cutely parceled and packaged short stories…The jokes and laughter brought a smile to my face, and the stories were sweet…     – Mawa Mahima

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It is believed that humor is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It was His intention from the beginning to provide us with a mechanism to address the tension of existence. He knew His children, living under pressure in a world of demands and deadlines, would need a way to release, so He created something called laughter. Laughter reduces muscle tension, exercises our lungs, and strengthens our immune system. Laughter is still the best medicine.
Readers of Jack Hinson’s work Laughter Was God’s Idea will gain insight and courage to accept the gift of laughter as a means to enjoy life and make the world a better place. Through excessive doses of laughter every day, and by sharing this extraordinary gift with others, it is Hinson’s intention to bring to light the healing power of humor.

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Jack Hinson is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. He holds degrees from Mars Hill College, Wake Forest University and Southeastern Seminary. He became Board Certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains upon completion of studies at Dorothea Dix Hospital, NC Baptist School of Pastoral Care and the Patrick B. Harris Hospital. He served as pastor for seventeen years before becoming the first full time chaplain at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, North Carolina, where he shared his humor and reassuring comfort with patients and families on a daily basis. He is an early pioneer recognizing the positive influence of humor in healthcare and medicine. Academic medical centers and scientific studies have confirmed Jack’s long held belief that there is therapeutic benefit to humor and laughter.

Available where eBooks are sold.

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The Poetry of the Appalachias: Linda Dickert’s ‘The Mountains Belong to Me’

Cries of coyotes, the croak of frogs and chirping of crickets exemplify the concertos of the Smoky Mountains. I appreciate the age-worn rocks’ accommodating a waterfall’s endless challenge. I hear gospel songs, and I can see myself clogging to great blue grass harmonies.

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Publisher: Ammons Communications
Publication Date: 6/3/2013
ISBN-13 (eBook): 9780989216968
Price: $4.00

All proceeds from this book will go to Spark Companions, a non-profit organization
that helps individuals unable to pay for vet bills.

 Linda Dickert’s collection of poetry and prose celebrates life in the Great Smoky Mountains. Her short essays, conversations, and inspirations draw from the happenings in the mountains of North Carolina, sharing with readers the spirit of the Appalachians and instilling an appreciation for the natural world and our responsibility to protect and cherish it. Dickert also gives readers an opportunity to reflect on their own environment and connection with nature.

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Linda Dickert was born in Asheville, North Carolina in a time when people loved the Smoky Mountains more for their healing powers than for their monetary gain through logging and deforestation. It was in the mountains that she fell in love with the magnificence of the Appalachians and its ability to cleanse the spirit. Her book “The Mountains Belong to Me” is a culmination of a lifetime of experiences and adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains. She now lives in Cullowhee, North Carolina with her husband, one dog, and three cats.

Praise for The Mountains Belong to Me

Such a great book…you feel the writer’s passion for her work…I’d like to applaud Linda Dickert because she makes the verses in the book come alive and sing out to the world. She creates pictures of delight, beauty, serenity and hope, as evidenced by the illustrations embedded in the collection…Truly amazing!     – Arianne Claire

Dickert manages to capture the wildlife and sense of freedom in the rugged outdoors…The Mountains contains poems of imagery and feeling…A very nice collection of poetry and memories.     – Joseph Spuckler

 

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AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING EBOOK RETAILERS:

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Discover the Real Appalachia: Mathew Link Baker’s ‘My Mountain Granny’

     Shortly after moving to western North Carolina, Matthew Baker met Evelyn Howell Beck of Whittier, North Carolina. This meeting was the consequence of Baker’s lifelong desire to discover the “real Appalachia” and the character of the people who lived there. Over the course of four-year period starting in 1998, Baker would visit Evelyn nearly twenty times. Their recorded conversations comprise the foundation of Baker’s book My Mountain Granny.
      Baker’s touching documentation of Beck’s life and the history of Whittier pays tribute to a once-booming mountain town and the resilience of its people.

ImagePublisher: Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.
ISBN-13 (eBook): 9780989216920
Publication Date: 7/17/2013
Genre: Biography, History
Price: $1.99

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Discover the Real Appalachia Today!

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Appalachian Author Janie Mae McKinley’s “The Legacy of Bear Mountain”

    

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     In ‘The Legacy of Bear Mountain: Stories of Old Mountain Values That Enrich Our Lives Today,’ Janie Mae recalls mountain life with her grandparents during the time her mother and father were involved in the war efforts of World War II. During those formative years, she absorbed her grandparents’ old-fashioned values and lifestyle. Although their secluded 1895 farmhouse lacked modern conveniences until 1975, they enjoyed a rich life of hard work, honesty, humor, gratitude, and faith. With amazing detail, Janie Mae, whose ancestors came to Bear Mountain in the 1700s, vividly recalls both humorous and scary stories, along with grandfather’s hard work on the railroad and her grandmother’s devout faith in God.

      In honor of the reader’s own memories, a page at the end of each chapter is designed for individuals, families, small groups, or church classes to record and share their own family’s legacy.

     A first-generation college graduate, Janie Mae Jones McKinley holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, NC, and a M.A.Ed. in Community Agency Counseling from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. Having returned to her childhood roots, she lives on Bear Mountain with her husband, Larry. Because of having no heirs, she donated many of her grandparents’ antiques to the Mountain Heritage Center Museum on the Western Carolina University campus. These treasured artifacts will be used to teach future generations about mountain farm life before modern conveniences. 

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REVIEWS of THE LEGACY OF BEAR MOUNTAIN:

McKinley does a wonderful job of drawing her reader in and immersing them in mountain life…An excellent book, and an absolute read for fans of creative non-fiction. McKinley should be very proud of her work and her heritage, I hope to see more work from her in the future. 
             – J. P. Dash

This is an incredibly detailed book; the author does an amazing job of showing us what her experiences on Bear Mountain were like…a very sentimental book, and the reader’s are allowed to go on that journey of remembering with the author. I believe that anyone who grew up in an area like that, or with family like that, would appreciate this book…I was touched by some of the stories in this book, and am glad to have had the chance to read it.
            –
Cianna Reider

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AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING eBOOK RETAILERS:

Amazon
– iTunes
Barnes & Noble
Sony
OmniLit
Kobo
e-Sentral
Foyles
Hive
Kalahari
Blackwell’s Bookshop
Asiabooks
BIGhay
The Indie eBook Shop
Tesco eBooks

 

FOR PRINT EDITIONS:

CSA Books

Nita Welch Owenby’s ‘The House of Rose’ is deeply woven with the histories of North Carolina, portraying life in the Appalachian Mountains in the early twentieth century. The story follows young Valee Rose, who, at the age of fourteen, finds herself abused and without a family. As she dreams for a better time and place for those in her care, and for herself, Valee faces her struggles with a great deal of determination. In reaching out to others she learns that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.

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     “Having never heard of the author or the book itself I went into it not knowing what to expect. What I found was breathtaking and I ended up devouring the book in a short amount of time.
This work is very descriptive so the images in your head become very clear. Also, it has amazing plot turns and twists that I never expected! This makes it hard to put down, and wanting to find out what happens as soon as possible.
At the very beginning I was stressed with a lot of information I didn’t think was useful, and I thought the book needed a lot of editing, but as you go on, you find out it really is helpful. Once you’re halfway done you’ll end up deducing things on your own thanks to the beginning.
I’d definitely recommend this book. ”

-María José Chaves Sánchez (notanerdychick.wordpress.com)

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“I really enjoyed this book.  Not only were there so many twists and turns, but I just felt so connected to the characters and could not wait to find out what happened next.  And it never did seize to amaze or satisfy… Great writing style, great characters, great story – this book has it all!”

– Kaitlin Lane, My Dog-Eared Purpose

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AVAILABLE AT AMAZON, SONY, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO,
OMNILIT, iTUNES, E-SENTRAL, HIVE, FOYLES, TESCO eBOOKS, The INDIE eBOOK SHOP, and KALAHARI eBOOKS!!!

Nita Welch Owenby’s ‘The House of Rose’

BOOK REVIEW: “Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey” by David Joy

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Published by: Bright Mountain Books

Available at: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, and Omni Lit

Coming Soon to Sony, Google Books, and Gardners!

Review by Ken Ford-Powell

“Fishing is not a hobby; it is who we are.”

I’m not a fisherman; chances are I won’t ever be. But, last year, I wrote my soon-to-be-published novel The Pukur and I needed advice on the subject. One of the major character’s hobby is fly fishing. I knew nothing about the subject at the time but spent a very pleasant afternoon with a friend, who was a fanatical fly fishing hobbyist, learning all about this strange and obsessive world.

I jumped at the chance then to review David Joy’s book, Growing Gills. I figured it would give me insight into the fisherman’s mind which wouldn’t hurt while my novel is in the last stages of editing. There’s always room for a little more research.

I wasn’t disappointed.

David Joy, a self-confessed ichthyologist, was obsessed with fish from a very early age. By the age of five he knew how to hold a rod, set the hook, prepare the reel and so on. By eleven he was raiding his teenage sister’s ten-gallon aquarium to use for his own fish. Though this first and last foray into keeping live fish proved disastrous (for his traumatised sister at least) it reinforced Joy’s desire to be in the fish world rather than the human one.

This is not to imply that Joy didn’t enjoy eating fish too. “I was born into a school of cannibalistic fish,” he tells us – with characteristic bluntness – when describing the cartoonesque image of mealtimes with his family.

We spent so many hours casting to bream and eating their fried bodies that we all started resembling the fish we caught.”

It’s a vivid picture.

Although Joy writes obsessively about fish, in many ways his book is more about the people connected to his life on the rivers making his book accessible even for non-enthusiasts like me. His descriptions of those close to him are a pleasure to read and often most tender. His affection for his granny is obvious:

“…all I could focus on as a twelve-year-old were her hands. Hands that had picked cotton, cleaned fish, mixed cobblers, and held young’uns now exposed brittle bones and fragile skin as delicate as tissue paper. The story of her life was spelled out across her palms, each line a narrative of her eighty years.”

He never strays far from a reference to aquatic life, however, describing her with “blue veins peeping through the skin of her hands like the forks of an azure river, even her blood mimicking water.”

Occasionally, Joy’s language is a little clumsy and there are some minor, mildly irritating punctuation errors which spoil the flow. But then is he’s describing the world of a fisherman and not the finer points of Plato – though, with a degree in Literature, I am sure he could do that just as well and he certainly quotes from many a fine writer along the way.

Nevertheless, the minor flaws are quite forgivable and part of the charm of the author’s storytelling technique. Reading Growing Gills is like chatting with the fly fisherman himself – rambling, a little ad hoc and, occasionally, a little lacking in direction, but eminently enjoyable. Don’t wait for a punchline or a climax to the book – just enjoy it for what it is: A fisherman’s tales of love and devotion to the waters.

On the whole, he actually writes with artistic skill and certainly sucks the reader into his world of  ‘stocked brookies’, ‘bows’ and the importance of cork grips; and especially what those corks really mean for this fisherman.

In his vivid and generous descriptions of other fishermen, like his hash-stoned but expert fly-making friend Zac, you can’t help but admire these artists, or as Joy puts it “Piscatorial Picassos”. Even a non-fisherman such as I am can appreciate – and even be mildly jealous of – the great care and skill with which these unusual folk chase their fish.

Joy gives a great deal of detail about the technique of fishing – this is a world of ‘Woolly Worms’, ‘Parachutes Adams’ and ‘Pheasant Tails’ – yet he never bores, never gets lost in the details. Like a skilful story-teller who knows when to give the reader setting and when to get on with driving the story onwards, so Joy keeps the momentum going by mixing up moments of  technical knowledge with the tales themselves.

Sometimes, he even offers philosophical moments contemplating the nature of life as taught to him by the rivers in his life:

“I’ve spent years reading the words of the great philosophers, from Plato to Nietzsche. Though their prose left me awed, their thoughts never taught me as much about life as time spent knee-deep in the water with a fly hung in the hemlocks. Just as soon as my ego grows and head swells, there always seems to be a tree limb to knock me down a peg.”

Elsewhere, he says:

The wild was nothing more than exactly what it was. Everything was true. Really, there is no greater truth on earth than the reality of the natural world. Humans should dare to be so honest.”

My favourite section of the book describes this adoration for nature best. Joy’s description of night-fishing is captivating. I could imagine being there under a full moon, on the river bank with beer in hand and fish that I’d caught stacked up ready to prepare for a rich and tasty breakfast perhaps. I wanted to be where he was and I felt jealous of the author as he described the coolness of the night; the beauty, mystery and serenity of nature in the dark. I could almost smell the water and taste the fish as I read his words.

Joy has interesting quirks. He won’t kill a trout, for instance. All other fish he will happily catch, kill and cook but not the trout. For Joy, trout are “higher on the totem than others”. Furthermore, Joy describes how he kisses the ‘slimy flesh’ of many of the fish he catches – right on the nose. That’s not for me, no matter how beautiful they look, but still, I admire his devotion.

It is much later – in fact, near the end of the book – when we find out it is a tradition of Joy’s harking back to his childhood, watching Jimmy Houston kiss every bass he hooked on TV. For the author, this is not just about catching fish; his whole life is wrapped up in even the simplest activities. I believe that if you permanently removed the author from his beloved rivers he would gasp for breath as if he was a fish himself.

Of course, no fisherman’s tales could be complete without the ‘one that got away’ and David Joy certainly has more than one. He warms us up early on with the tale of ‘the ugliest fish in the sea’ (named Spike, naturally) but later tells of the one that didn’t so much ‘get away’ as ‘never came near’!  After hours of trying to catch the attention of a ‘monster brown’ to no avail, the author had to concede defeat. In Joy’ words: “Anthropomorphizing or not, that fish was smart”. Another tale is about what he calls the ‘grass eater’ a fish that caused Joy to resort to “monosyllabic cursing…more crushing than finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real…”. Even as a non-fisherman, I feel his pain.

Still, Joy is philosophical about these defeats – even welcoming them:

 “In many ways the fish that get away are more satisfying than the twenty-inch trout that occasionally take the fly…These are the fish that grow twelve inches by the time the story is told, the fish that lead to tales of Volkswagen-size catfish swimming below a dam, the fish that rip drag, break rods, shatter egos, and never look back. These fish are the reason that I trim my line, tie on a new hook, and cast again.”

I feel certain that any fly fisherman will empathise with this kind of thinking – more than I can. In fact, even though this book is the fishing memoirs of an American fly fisherman, I would recommend it for any man or woman who enjoys the world of chasing, catching and eating fish. Growing Gills is an ideal bedtime companion for any obsessive ichthyologist or for someone who just enjoys getting the rod out from time to time.

For me, I enjoy fish best when they are on the plate and ready to eat. That’s as near as I want to get to these aquatic delights. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed David Joy’s stories in Growing Gills and I envied him for the harmony he has known with nature.

If you are looking for a gift for that fish fanatic in your family – for the times when they’re in the house and not out on the river – Growing Gills is the perfect choice.

 

Ken Ford-Powell is a British freelance writer living with his family in Bangladesh. His novel ‘The Pukur’ has just been accepted for publication and he has celebrated by drinking vast quantities of tea. You can follow him at his blog: https://kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com/