I have told this story before to sell books but my telling it now has another purpose, to honor a friend. Adrienne Dunning was a fantastic, funny and feisty woman who lived up to her hair color. She died in a tragic accident the morning of July 5th. We’d just started making plans to return to Murfreesboro for a second writers’ retreat.
It was nearly two years ago, my friend, Adrienne Dunning and I were going to a writers’ retreat in Murfreesboro. I had known Adrienne for several years through the Pamlico Writers’s Group and our work on the writers conference. We’d become closer as we worked more closely together on projects for the Pamlico Writers. Like me, Adrienne had a lot of ideas and together we were looking forward to making them happen. We were still getting to know each other on a personal level, but we liked and respected each other’s work and writing so had made plans to attend several events together or meet up at a couple. The first was our trip to Murfreesboro.
Adrienne drove, and she and I shared stories about ourselves on our trip. I’d left my husband home with no electricity after a hurricane. He had told me to go, no need for me to cancel my plans since everything else was okay. Adrienne pointed out familiar places as she’d grown up in the area. She took me on a quick driving tour of the college and down town before bringing me up to the renovated house where I’d be staying. Adrienne would stay with her parents since they lived nearby and come in for the meals and meetings.
The event’s coordinator and owner of the house, Ruth Akright, had serval authors and a illustrator who would come in to do presentations. While I truly enjoyed the events and meeting the other authors, it was our impromptu discussions about writing that made the weekend the most memorable for me.
I was struggling to write my fourth book feeling frustrated that I just couldn’t get it right. I wanted a true romance without all the murder and explosions. Adrienne pointed out that I was struggling because I was trying to force the story. That instead of trying to make it be a romance, just write it. And if I had to blow things up or murder a few people, well just go with it. I’d already written three romantic suspense stories, evidently that’s what I enjoyed writing.
Being true to yourself… true to your passions. Adrienne loved romance and Scotland, combining the two and finally checking Scotland off her bucket list was what she dreamed of! She enjoyed sharing her books with her readers but helping other writers was another passion.
I will miss Adrienne as a friend, fellow writer and her dedication to the Pamlico Writers’ Group. To her parents, family and friends I add my condolences. To her readers and fans her light was extinguished too soon. To those of us who were just getting to know the wonderful, talented woman, the loss is greater for the regrets, we believed we had more time.
A conversation with my mom, an inspirational quote and a memory on Facebook had me thinking of a new blog post I wanted to write.
How many of us have a dream we are afraid to pursue? I know I did. If not for the push of my best friend and my husband, I would not have made the first steps to being a writer. My writer friends, mentor and Beta readers have given me the tools, confidence and encouragement that have helped me become a published author. For years, fear of failure, of not believing I was good enough, kept me from even trying. It was only after my best friend read some of my work and liked it that I felt confident enough to start thinking seriously about pursuing the dream I’ve had since I was a young girl.
I believe fear cripples many dreamers. Fear and an unkind word or thoughtless criticism can shackle a budding creative. I was reading a Guide Post my mother gave me and the section on positive outlooks called “The Up Side” inspired me. One of the quote really struck home. “Stop telling yourself you need to be fearless. You don’t, You simply need to be courageous,” by author and motivational speaker, Valorie Burton in the May 2021 Guideposts.
How many of us feel we’ve waited too long to make our dreams come true? My mom had a box of stuff she was going to use “someday.” She talked about traveling, visiting friends and relatives, going to interesting places… someday. It was always someday. When she lost her home to flooding during Hurricane Irene, her box of special things was destroyed. Later that same year, Mom fell and broke her hip. Now with the onset of severe arthritis, she has difficulty walking and her hopes of traveling and visiting interesting places has become limited. Someday never comes. If you want to do something, then you have to make a plan and as Nike says, “Just Do It!”
“If Not Now, Then When?” is a slogan I’ve heard recently, it’s very à propos. Putting off our dreams until we have more money, we have more time, the kids are grown, whatever your excuse, the truth is, it is fear that binds us and keeps us from reaching for our dreams. But, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. If you are waiting for everything to be just right you will never even get started. If you truly want this dream to come true, you need to make it a goal. Make a plan. Set things into motion. Save up for that special trip. Start working on that novel. If you need a push, find a group that will support your plans. My best friend and local librarian talked me into sending a story to a writer’s competition in Carteret County. I attended their awards ceremony and met an author from a writer’s group closer to home. Afterwards I joined the Pamlico Writer’s Group.
I have been a member of the Pamlico Writer’s Group off and on for about twenty years. My son Jason even attended a meeting or two with me when he was a teenager. It took me a long time to find confidence in my talent. I’m not sure if I’ve yet discovered my true voice. Each book helps me to discover more about myself and my writing. I’m still learning. I waited a long time to get published and still feel I have a long way to go to reach those who have influenced my stories but I’m working towards my dream, my goal of being an award-winning author. What are you doing to make your dreams come true?
Hello Readers and Writers! Today we would like to introduce you to an author who combines genres to get everything she wants from her stories. Starting out categorizing her writing as Romance, this author began to understand how much she loved Suspense. This shaped her writing, and gave us a series already grown to 5 t
— Read on rebellionlit.com/blogs/author-interviews/sherri-lupton-hollister
The end of a decade. As we prepare to ring in the new year and the new decade, I find myself looking back over the past ten years. So much has happened in such a short time.
After winning the Ann Peach Award in 2009 and joining Romance Writers of America, I started truly thinking about being a published writer ending the last decade on a creative high.
In January 2010 we lost our home to fire. While this was mind-numbingly devastating it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. It may seem that this decade started with tragedy but with every bad blow we were also given a blessing.
The night after the fire I went with my daughter-in-law to the hospital, it was the last chance she’d have to tour the hospital before our grandson Harley was born. My son, and her husband (at the time) was stationed overseas and trying his best to get home before the birth of his son. We lost nearly everything in that fire, but we walked away with our lives and a few short weeks after, we gained a grandchild.
When I think of all we lost, it’s not the Christmas presents we haven’t replaced that fill me with regret but those items that can never be replaced: the horse whip that belonged to my husband’s grandfather from his time in the wild west show, or the quilt his maternal grandmother made, my baby sister’s baby shoes, my children’s baby books, photo albums and high school annuals.
But both sons who were living with us at the time, are still alive. The youngest whose room was in flames had to leap from his bed to the stairwell, became a firefighter. Our other son has always been someone we could call if we needed anything. The fire was devastating but many blessings came out of it.
We stayed a few months with my parents. It was stressful at the time. I wasn’t sleeping good. I was having nightmares and the added stress of trying to conform to someone else’s schedule made it more difficult. Adding to the stress was the fact that my daughter-in-law wasn’t happy living in such a rural environ with two small children. She was ready to get back to Savannah and her life and friends. I was thankful for the time with my family but there were days I was barely functioning.
Our community were a great asset to us. People brought us clothes, household goods, and money to help us during this time. Moving into our present home that spring was thanks in large part to the physical help of my sister-in-law and her family and to the financial help of our friends, family and community. With each blow there has been a blessing, most times the blessings have outweighed the trauma.
On New Year’s Day 2011, my dad was found dead in his bathroom. The EMTs believed he suffered an aneurism and died suddenly. His death was followed by the birth of our granddaughter Ava. My son calls the day of the funeral, he’s not going to be able to be a pallbearer, he’s on his way to the hospital with his wife. He tried to convince us that as soon as she had the baby, he’d come to the funeral, but I knew my daddy would prefer he stay with his wife and child.
In the spring of 2011, Mom, my youngest son, oldest grandson and myself went to Savannah to visit. We spent a week with my Army son and his family. We explored downtown, Tybee Island and went on a ghost walk. I want to go back again.
Late in the season, we had our first hurricane. It was the first since my daddy died and I insisted my mom come stay with us. It didn’t seem all that bad, it was down to a category one. Hurricane Irene destroyed my parent’s home with flood waters and devastated our community. We had several rescues the night of the hurricane, our niece and her family and a couple of friends. When mom and I went to check on her place I was shocked to see the damage. The tide waters had been pushed ashore through two high tides, flooding even the church which was on the highest piece of land in the community.
My sons came with a generator and began helping us sort through the salvage in Mom’s house. The fire was easier, there was nothing left to sift through. This loss was probably harder than any other because everyone was going through something at this time and there was no one to offer comfort. Everyone was overwhelmed and exhausted.
Just when we’re returning to some sort of normal, later that year, my mother, who was living with us at the time, fell and broke her hip. 2011 was not a very good year for us but we did get a new granddaughter.
2012 Vietnam Homecoming with my father-in-law and started writing articles for the Pamlico News. My first stories were interviews of Vietnam Veterans and their families. I was also able to follow my youngest son around the track for track and field and use my role as reporter to promote my community and special interest. Many of the stories I covered while writing for the paper inspired my fiction.
The next few years were a blur of babies, weddings, separations, divorces and graduations. Blake graduated from Pamlico High School. Dustin got his master’s degree from East Carolina University. Aries graduated from Pamlico Community College. My in-laws, Wayne and Verna’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 2014
In the past ten years we’ve been blessed with Trinity whose big sister Alijah came along when her mom married into the family. Sophia, followed in close succession by two sisters, Sabrina and Carol to parents Chris and Shannon also married in this decade. Conner whose brother Cody and sister Hailey joined the family just ahead of him, along with their mom Brandi who married my soldier son, Jason, who is now a civilian. We have another Brandy, making three Brandies for one family (my niece Brandy informs me she was the first and our first baby girl), and a Sherry (spelled with an I) but then I do work at the ABC store. What does ten years look like? Well, coming into this decade we had five grandchildren, only one a granddaughter, and at the close of this decade we have 20 grandchildren, standing about half and half. The third Brandy in the family just gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jessie David and he was greeted by big sister Sylvia who is two and half years older but rules the roost. Our youngest son, Blake married Katelynn Scott and they have two boys Elijah and Kaysen.
I met Louise Penny at a book signing in Fearington Village when I went on a girls’ trip with Marni Graff and friends.
Became chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group in 2015.
2016 I had my first stories published in a book, the Pamlico Writers’ Anthology, “A Carolina Christmas,” and had my first book signing.
Published my first book in 2017, “Chrome Pink” and had my first solo book signing.
Went to my first Comicon in 2017. I even dressed up. We had a lot of fun.
In 2018 I published my second book, White Gold and in 2019, I’ve published two books, Titanium Blue and Evergreen Crystals. I’ve also had two novellas published with The New Romance Café anthologies, Love in Bloom and a historical in Kisses and Other Scandalous Pastimes.
Gave my first writer’s talks in 2019 and published my fourth book.
So much more has happened in the past ten years. We’ve lost good friends. Buried friends and husbands of friends, my great aunts and a few cousins. We’ve gained weight, lost weight, turned gray and turned loose. Some of us aren’t as mobile as we were before but those that are left keep marching on. As difficult as the first of this decade was, I still believe it’s been a good one. I miss my dad and friends who have passed on. I mourn them but life goes on and I don’t think they would want us to stop living.
As 2020 peers around the edge of 2019, I’m working on my next novel, Red Steel which is part of the Leeward Files series and a bridge for my new series, The Harrell Family Chronicles. I’ve also had a historical series on the back burner for years I want to start working on. It’s going to be a busy year but I’m looking forward to it. I plan to spend as much time as possible with grandchildren and family, writing and reading good books, and just enjoying each day. Remember we are not guaranteed tomorrow, the past is done, today is a gift that is why it is called the present. Have a happy new year.
As chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, and more recently of our conference steering committee, I have been forced to do things that are uncomfortable, like public speaking. I know y’all think because I’m a big mouth broad I shouldn’t be sweating and fearing I’ll pass out just because my audience is ten times what I am comfortable with. I still get knock-kneed and tongue-tied whenever I have to stand up on stage and speak into a microphone, but I have learned to power through it. Practice and prayer helps!
This year I volunteered to teach a workshop. Why did I do that? Yeah, I asked myself the same question. It goes back to high school and Ms. Glenoria Jennette, basically she said, embrace your dreams even if it scares you, especially if it scares you. As I have gotten older, her advice has continued to guide me. I can cower in fear or spread my wings and take a chance. Yes, I might fail, I might fall but I will never know unless I try and keep trying. Thanks Ms. Glen, I’m still trying.
I shared my workshop with an awesome group of friends and strangers who each had something to contribute. I believe interaction makes a program more interesting and the presenter can learn from the attendees.
In my program “Be Prepared,” I talked of mistakes I’d made, programs and classes I’d taken, and how I’d adapted what I learned. I was a little terrified to have our keynote speaker, Katharine Ashe join my class. I’m a huge fan of hers and a bit awestruck, but she was a wonderful asset. I actually used her work to help make a few of my points.
Recently, I was a contributor to an international romance anthology, Love in Bloom. As part of this fabulous group I have learned so many new things that I was able to add to my program. Each experience I’ve had, each person who shares their journey adds another bit of information that helps me be a better writer or bookseller.
In today’s publishing world, whether traditional or indie, authors find they must wear several hats: promoter, publisher, and bookseller, marketer and designer. Authors are business people who must learn every aspect of their craft, as well as the business of writing in order to succeed. I am thankful for the workshops I have attended that have given me the tools to help me succeed. I hope my workshop gave someone else a little piece of that puzzle.
This year’s Pamlico Writers’ Conference had a few newbies, besides myself, Adrienne Dunning, Paloma Capanna and Tammera Cooper gave their first writers’ presentations. Paloma and Tammera were familiar with giving presentations due to their careers, Adrienne gave a 15- minute talk to a small group during our Carnival of Books, but for me, this was truly a first.
Thanks to everyone who helped me and encouraged me. I am blessed to have you as part of my tribe.
I’m giving my first presentation at the Pamlico Writers’ Conference April 6th. I’m excited and nervous.
I have been a part of the conference steering committee for five years. Last year was my first as chairperson.
I have grown up with the Pamlico Writers’ Group. I started attending meetings nearly twenty years ago. Ten years ago I became serious about getting published. Five years ago I managed to obtain an agent, only to lose her three years ago. Two years ago I faced my fears and self-published. This year I became a part of an international anthology and I will be publishing my third book.
Some dreams take time and sweat-equity. If I can do it, y’all can to.
Today I am a bit star-struck to
introduce a dear lady and fantastic author, USA Today bestselling author,
Katharine Ashe. Katharine it’s great to have you at my virtual café. Would you
like a drink before we get started?
. Coffee with hot milk, if you
please. Or tea. I enjoy both! Though I don’t suppose you’ve
any Scotch? It became a favorite of mine due to what we can agree to call
Yes, I’ve done a little of that
research as well, though I’m a bourbon gal myself.
I’m sure you know, I’m a huge fan.
I enjoy reading your books. I especially enjoy your history notes at the end.
I’m a history buff but you’re a true historian. From reading your newsletters I
know you’ve taken fencing lessons and traveled for your research. You also
Yes,I also adore history — all sorts, all places, all peoples. So there’s lots of very cool history in my
novels. Take for instance my latest novel about a woman who pretends to be a
man so that she can study medicine, and a foreign man finding a new home in the
British Isles, both based on historical people.
Or my novel about a popular pamphleteer (think today’s bloggers) who
writes under a pseudonym to call for social change. Or any of the other fascinating characters or
situations I’ve plucked out of history and woven stories around …
Your latest novel, “The Prince”
that you mentioned is the reason I suggested our theme, “Why We Write…Giving
Voice to the Voiceless.” Your characters dealt with prejudice, disabilities,
social mores they didn’t agree with, and their own insecurities; your writing
mirrors todays problems with a truth that is both historical and relevant. Did
I tell you, I’m a fan? Katharine will be the keynote speaker for our upcoming
conference. What do you hope attendees will come away with from your talk?
Katharine: Writing can be a joy. But
publishing can destroy the soul. When I
speak to writers — especially young or aspiring authors — I try to share
useful, practical information that I wish someone had taught me. Mostly, though, I try to remind us all that
when we write from our truest selves, without fear, we write at our best, and
we touch the humanity in others.
I try to write from the heart, but
I have to admit, baring my soul and letting people see what’s inside is
terrifying. I’m not naturally brave. How did you come by your strength and
Katharine: I’m the fifth child in a big Catholic family, as a kid growing
up in Pennsylvania, I wore hand-me-downs, rode cast-off bikes, and babysat my
little sister for free. Yet I knew
abundance well. My parents, who had
traveled the world, welcomed into our home strangers from near and far who became
family too, as well as all of my and my siblings’ friends. Of love and food and imaginative play there
was always plenty. And books positively
overflowed. It was a gloriously full
house in so many ways.
Sherri: So you were not born and raised in North Carolina, but you seem
very at home here.
Katharine: The south called to me.
At age seventeen I left the snowy north for the sultry climes of
Carolina, and four years later graduated from Duke University in ’89 with a
degree in History.
As soon as I departed Durham, I longed to return. After a few years in the working world, then
more in graduate school, in both the US and Europe, I made it back here in 2007
as a part-time professor of history and popular culture at Duke, and a
Sherri: As a fan, I’m familiar with your work but for those who may not
have read your novels, tell them what you write.
Katharine: In the last decade I’ve published sixteen novels and
eight novellas, all genre romances and all but
one set in early nineteenth-century Britain and its empire. Currently I’m delighted to be writing the
final two novels in my Twist
Series of historical romances, and I am
(rather impatiently) awaiting the day I’m able to devote myself fully to a
historical novel that I’ve been developing.
Sherri: I know you are a busy person but what other hobbies or interests
do you have and do these show up in your novels?
Katharine: I have a puppy! We walk,
run, play, train, and socialize together.
We garden together too (that is, she digs holes and I fill them
in.) She’s sweet and smart and
independent and loves everybody. And yes
indeed, several of my novels and novellas feature
animals, dogs and horses as well as other
furry and feathered critters.
I suppose this really returns to the question above: when you
write about what you love — what you care
about — the cup of joy cannot help but runneth over.
Katharine Ashe is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning
author of historical romances reviewers call “intensely lush” and
“sensationally intelligent,” including Amazon Best Books in 2012, 2017, and
2018. A former Fulbright Fellow, Mellon
Scholar, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and Duke ’89 grad, as Katharine Brophy Dubois she holds a PhD
in Medieval Religious History, and currently teaches courses on popular culture
and history at Duke. She is the
associate convener of Duke’s MicroWorlds Lab; co-creator and host of Duke’s
UNSUITABLE Speakers Series on women, fiction and popular culture; and founder
of Facebook’s Feminist Romance Lovers Book Club.
more about Katharine and her books at https://katharineashe.com,
where she is giving away a conference registration + one-night hotel stay for the
Pamlico Writers’ Conference.
*Note: Katharine is taking a hiatus from social media, but you can find
out more about her from her website and newsletter. If you love historical
romances with real history, check out her books, you will be glad you did!
Today I’d like to welcome a dear friend and fellow member of
the Pamlico Writers’ Group, Eileen Lettick. When I first met Eileen, I just
knew, she was one of my sisters. Welcome to Creekside Café, my writer-sister,
Eileen. Can I get you a drink?
Eileen: Hi Sherri.
Thank you for inviting me in for a drink at the Creekside. I’ll have Grey Goose
on the rocks with a healthy wedge of lime, or if you don’t have that, a
steaming hot cup of Lipton will do. But whatever you do, don’t forget a
chocolate-chip cookie on the side for a little something sweet. Then I’ll be
braced for any question you put to me.
Sherri: I think
we can find some emergency chocolate and I believe I smelled some chocolate
chip cookies baking earlier. Here at the virtual café anything is possible and
none of the calories count.
Tell us about your background, Eileen. I know you are a
transplant to eastern North Carolina. Where did you grow up and where do you
Eileen: I’m a
Connecticut Yankee, born and raised in Stamford. I can see your eyebrows
raising because my hometown is in the heart of what’s notoriously known as
Connecticut’s Gold Coast. Although, I must say, what my family experienced was
more like an “aluminum foil” kind of life. I don’t think any of us even have
gold fillings in our teeth. I am the second oldest of fifteen children. The
death of my eighteen-year-old brother in 1964 left me the oldest child at the
age of sixteen. I took this responsibility very seriously and felt it was my
sole responsibility to keep the rest of my siblings out of the police blotter. This
probably accounts for my take charge, bossy
attitude that occasionally rears its ugly head—just ask my husband. I received
my BA in education from the University of
St. Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut and my MS in Instructional Management
and Curriculum from Western Connecticut State University.
My husband, Larry, and I have been married for twenty-nine
years and have three sons and five grandchildren. We live in Chocowinity, North
Carolina, while our children and grandchildren are spread across California,
Wyoming, and Connecticut. It stinks to have them that far away! When they do
come to visit, the doors of Camp Lettick open wide. We fish, swim, golf, play
cornhole, and cruise up and down the Pamlico River on our big red tugboat, Ruby Begonia.
Sherri: Well, as
a friend and member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, I have to say your take
charge attitude has been a blessing. If I have a job that needs doing and it’s
in your wheelhouse, and sometimes when it is not, I know I can depend on you.
You don’t know how important that is until you’re swimming in it and people
want to help but don’t know what to do. Eileen and I both serve on the
conference steering committee and she spearheaded the poet laureate program.
Eileen and I will also be presenters at this year’s writers’
conference. It will be my first workshop, but Eileen is a seasoned pro having
presented programs with her former writers’ groups and in her previous
profession. Tell us about your workshop.
Eileen: In my upcoming workshop, “Teens Writing for Teens” participants will
examine popular YA literature and explore the author craft and common elements
that create the “IT FACTOR” in a quality Young Adult work. They will delve into
establishing a consistent point of view, finding their unique voice, and
exploring subject matter pertinent to the Young Adult audience. Participants
should come prepared with a piece of their own work to revise throughout the workshop.
It should be fun.
Sherri: What do
you hope attendees will get out of your workshop? What power do you want them
to come away with?
Eileen: I hope
that the individuals who take my class will walk away with techniques on how to
insert voice into their writing to make it more enjoyable for their readers. Hopefully,
they will discover a little “IT Factor” of their own.
Sherri: I eluded
to your mysterious past. As a personal friend, I have some knowledge of your
past experience but tell our guests more about your experience. How have your
jobs, past and present, influenced your
Eileen: I taught
elementary school for 30 years and then worked for three years as a writing consultant
before my career came to a sudden halt when I found myself thrust into the role
of a 24/7 caregiver after one of our sons was in a life-altering automobile
accident. When I look back on my years of teaching, I realize the tremendous joy
I experienced when I witnessed children, teens, or adults make those
reading-writing connections. Even now, when I present to a group of children or
adults, I realize that this is what drives my soul. It’s what I was meant to
As far as the influence my teaching career has had on my
writing, there has been a direct relationship because the historical time
travel that I just published, Sarah the Bold, grew out of a
classroom study of Colonial America. I needed a book to use as a culminating
novel for the unit, and I wanted one that would reflect what I had taught the
children throughout our unit of study. Because I couldn’t find it, I decided to
write it. As my class observed their teacher struggling to put words to the
paper and taking risks with her own writing, the art of the craft became more
real to them. I think those days were probably the most powerful writing
lessons I ever delivered. To my delight, the publication of Sarah
theBold has opened doors to
me, and I am once again being invited to present to school children. It’s a lot
of fun talking to kids about writing. Their questions are amazing.
Sherri: I really
enjoyed Sarah the Bold, even though you wrote it for middle grade
children, it is so well written that any age would enjoy. This is your first
published book but not your first writing experience. How long have you been
writing seriously? Have you always been a writer?
since I was in grade school, I have enjoyed the pleasure of writing. I was one
of those nerdy kids who wrote little clever things for family occasions, mostly
poems, but I would never call myself a poet. In high school, I entered an essay contest sponsored by a women’s club from
New York City. The topic was “What Music Means to Me.” I also had to sing. I wrote
the essay and sang “Camp Town
Races.” On the last day of school, the
principal held an assembly and announced I had won the cash award–$5.00! I
couldn’t wait to spend it on lipstick and bubblegum.
As a young mother, I
wrote a series of Erma Bombeck-ish articles and tried to get them published in
our local paper. The editor didn’t think they were too funny even though they
cracked me up as I wrote them. Another enterprising idea I had was a
letter-writing service for those too lazy to write them. I teamed up with a
local florist. This project proved as dead as the people I wrote about in my
condolence letters. I guess people realized they were better off visiting
I didn’t really start to get serious about my writing until
about twenty years ago. I joined critique groups and started to really invest
some time in studying successful writers. Anna Quindlen, Anne Lamott, Stephen
King, and John Steinbeck influenced me greatly. I find I get the greatest
enjoyment reading about women who overcome obstacles. That’s why I think I
enjoy creating strong female characters in my own writing.
Sherri: I love the things I’ve read of yours.
You create a wonderful panorama in just a few words. If you could change
anything about your writing/publishing past, what would it be?
Eileen: I think
about this quite a bit. I wish I had pursued writing seriously when I was much
younger and had not taken so long to give myself permission to publish. I also
wish I had considered an MFA in creative writing. I believe it would have
opened different doors for me. But then I think if I had, I would not have had
the same life experiences, and perhaps not experienced so much joy in my
life. And I guess there is something to
be said for publishing your first book at the age of 70. When you hold that
first novel in your hands for the first time and do that funky chicken dance, it
has a lot more “IT FACTOR” than if you’re young and beautiful!
Sherri: Well you’re still beautiful and I can’t wait to see you do the funky chicken with the next book. If you have enjoyed our interview today, check out Eileen’s book, Sarah the Bold and join us for the Pamlico Writers’ Seventh Annual Writers’ Conference April 5th and 6th at the Turnage Theatre in Washington. For more information about the conference go to www.pamlicowritersgroup.org. Follow Eileen on social media through the following links.
Today I’d like to welcome to Creekside Café, poet,
author and publisher, and several more titles, Robin Greene. Robin it is so
good to have you here at my virtual café. I’ve set the table just for you.
Don’t worry about having too much wine or too many cannoli; here, none of the
calories count against you.
Robin: Thank you,
Sherri, I love cannoli.
other foods do you like?
Italian pastries, and just about all vegetable dishes—especially spicy ones
like curries. I’m not sure you know this, but I’ve been a vegetarian for most
of my life.
Sherri: No. I didn’t know that,
and I have to say that I, too love spicy foods and pastries, but unfortunately,
they love me too much. That said, we’re very excited to have you with us today.
You have such an interesting life. I know that you’re a professor of English
and Writing, and that you’re a publisher with the Methodist University Press,
Longleaf Press. Can you tell our guests a little about your work?
been an English and Writing professor since 1985, when I began teaching at
SUNY-Empire State College in upstate New York. I’ve always loved the wonderful
and often deep relationships that teaching allows. I began working at Methodist
University in 1991, and by 1997, I became the director of the MU Writing
Center. Michael Colonnese and I founded Longleaf Press in 1997, and that’s also
been an important part of my life. In fact, working in these ways—as a
publisher, an English and Writing professor, and an administrator at the
writing center—offer me experiences and connections that enrich my life and my
Sherri: You’re not a native of North Carolina. Where are
you from, and where do live now?
Robin: I was born in Queens, New York, and was raised there
and on Long Island. I now live in Fayetteville, NC, with my husband, Michael
Colonnese, to whom I’ve been married since 1976. We raised our two sons mostly
in Fayetteville, where we’ve lived since 1989.
Sherri: How long have you been writing seriously? Have
you always been a writer?
Robin: I’ve been writing since I was about seven years
old, when I wrote my first short story, “Monty, the Dog.” But I began writing
more seriously when I was sixteen and in college.
Sherri: What kind/genre books do you write? Do you plan
to write any other genre in the future?
Robin: I write poetry, short fiction, novels, and
creative nonfiction—and I love moving back and forth among these genres. My
plan is to continue writing and just be with whatever form it takes.
Sherri: I know your work
takes up a lot of your time, so when do you write?
Robin: I write in the mornings, often for about three
hours, and, of course, I have summers off and write then. Also, in the fall
2018, I had a semester-long sabbatical that allowed me to write full-time. At
some point, I’ll retire and write full-time, but right now, I enjoy the
combination of activities in my life.
Sherri: What is your latest writing/publishing project?
Robin: My novel The Shelf Life of Fire is due out spring 2019. In fact, I’m
hoping to have copies—or advance copies—of my novel by April at the Pamlico
Writers’ Conference. I’m excited about this novel, which takes place in
Fayetteville, Fuquay-Varina, and Raleigh.
Please tell readers a little more about it.
Robin: The story begins when Rachel, a middle-aged
novelist and university professor, learns that her brother Dennis, from whom
she’s been estranged for decades, is dying of cancer. Rachel then finds herself
in a downward spiral as she reconnects with her mom—from whom she’s also been
estranged—and is drawn back into her family-of-origin’s dysfunction.
As Rachel begins to understand how early
events have changed the trajectory of her life, she remembers some of her
adolescent sexual experiences and begins to rethink her role as a woman, a
daughter, a wife, and a mother—reexamining the life she’s found herself living.
The story that Rachel tells is off-beat and intimate, and, Sherri, I’m hoping that
readers will resonate with her story.
Thanks, Robin. The novel sounds
interesting, and I look forward to reading it. But now, to change the subject,
tell me about your workshop experience. I know that this year’s Pamlico
Writers’ Conference won’t be your first time presenting. How long
have you been presenting? And are you offering other workshops this year?
Robin: Yes, I’ve been presenting workshops since about
1991. And I’ve a part of the Pamlico Writers’ Conference community since 2015. Additionally,
I teach writing, meditation, and yoga at a yearly women’s retreat in Oaxaca,
Mexico. This year, the retreat’s focus is on honoring memory and dealing with
death, as participants will join in an authentic Day of the Dead ritual in a
small indigenous village in rural Mexico. And, FYI—if any women are interested,
I have three spots still available for the retreat. If any of your readers are
interested, they should just contact me for more info.
Sherri: Oh, I wish I could attend your Mexico retreat. It
sounds lovely. But tell us about your Pamlico workshop.
title of this workshop is “Connecting with our Authentic Selves—Poetic
Strategies for Self- Liberation,” and here’s the description:
Writing well requires a deep connection with our
authentic emotional selves, but in our busy daily lives, tapping into that
connection is often a challenge. In this 75-minute workshop, Robin Greene will
offer poetic strategies designed to help poets connect to their authentic
selves and to write without the self-judgment. Robin will discuss the poetic
line, the power of specific images, and how ideas can be linked through sound.
Intended to liberate both poets and non-poets alike, this workshop will include
writing with prompts and sharing in an atmosphere free of taboo and judgment.
Open to writers of all genres and all levels.
Sherri: What do you hope attendees will get out of your
Robin: I hope that attendees will leave the workshop
with a more authentic sense of themselves and a more liberated connection to
Sherri: More personally, I want
to ask about you—whatare your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Robin: My main strength is that I have an open heart,
and my main weakness is that I’m susceptible to depression. That said, I try to
be grateful and live fully—as a person and as a writer. There are always
challenges and struggles, and I try to acknowledge and cope with these but not
be overwhelmed by them. In this way, life for me involves finding and maintaining
balance while honoring the self.
Sherri: In finding balance, do
you have any hobbies or interests besides writing?
Robin: Of course, I love reading. But I also weave on a
rigid heddle loom, love to hike, and do yoga. I’m a yoga teacher and currently
teach Yin Yoga once a week in Fayetteville, and I’m cofounder of Sandhills
Dharma Group, a Buddhist meditation group, so that’s an important part of my life
Sherri: Who or what do you feel has been the greatest
influence on your work?
Robin: Poets like Galway Kinnell, Robert Creeley, Linda
Hull, Dick Allen, Mark Doty, and Rick Jackson—all fabulous poets and teachers
with whom I’ve studied.
Sherri: If you could change anything about your
writing/publishing past, what would it be?
Robin: I would have turned my attention earlier to
submitting my work more regularly.
Sherri: Great. Now, for my last
question, I want to ask what words of wisdom would you offer to aspiring
Robin: Write every day, never stop learning your craft, and welcome rather than resist change.
To learn more about Robin, you can follow her on social media or check out her website: