Monday, May 30, 2011

HENRY RIVER MILL HILL: Where Hunger Games is Being Filmed

Today I am hosting Joyce Hostetter, my friend and co-presenter at writing workshops. I hope you enjoy her post and the corresponding one on her blog.  Joyce, please tell my readers about what's going on in your neck of the woods and welcome to my blog!

Thanks, Carol.  I'm thrilled to be here to talk about one of my favorite spots. 

You know how much I love that Henry River Mill Village in my "neck of the woods" so when I heard that the Hunger Games movie is being filmed there I figured this was the perfect time to blog about it.  (for both our blogs!)

How convenient that the two of us have some pics from our little visit there a few years ago! 

Henry River is a place I drive through on a fall day just to see the way the leaves color the long slow hill and also because it is way more scenic than going home by interstate.

It's the sort of place that would make a great time travel device if I wanted to write that sort of book. It's hard to drive through without getting sucked back into history. It's difficult to go through at all. Because it begs you to stop and look around.

Me at one of the old Henry River Mill homes on a little drive through with Carol.

I've done that a few times - you know - back before I got wiser about obeying No Trespassing Signs and before it felt more risky to me. I mean, hello - a few years ago I heard on the radio that a body had been dumped there.

There is a dam on the river below the mill village.

And lots of ways to get hurt, I'm sure. Once I stood by the tower-like structure that housed the dam's turbine, looked into the window and saw only darkness and heard the water rushing below and my knees went a little weak and my mind went a little crazy imagining that the window sill beneath my elbows could collapse and I could fall into the dark rushing water.

 I haven't gone that close since.  Amazing what a few decades will do for a body's common sense.

 More recently, I've stayed close to the road - where anyone could see and rescue me if something should go wrong.   Carol and I took a little jaunt there a few years back. 
Carol, checking out remnants of the Mill Hill's former life.
There were always boxes of socks overflowing the shacks that once housed mill workers.

More socks!

Lots of houses which I'm sure were also stuffed with stories!

Part of the milling operation.  This building contained machinery powered by the dam behind it. The main mill building is apparently no longer there.

The company store.  For a few years there was even a school in the second floor. You can read more about that at this fabulous site with photos, history, a map, and stories from the Henry River Mill.

Last week, I drove through Henry River after the production company was finished with a day of filming.  You can see a few pics of that at my blog.

Thanks, Joyce. When my readers go to see Hunger Games, they will be able to say, "I saw that first on Carol Baldwin's blog!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

An Insider's View of Self-Publishing

The following is an interview with Laura K., a graphic artist who designs covers for the largest self-publishing company in the industry. Here she shares some insights which she has learned in the last two years in the business.

Carol: Are there any benefits to self-publishing a book?

Laura:   Yes, it allows the author to keep creative control of her book. Like with  Indie art, music, and film, you don't have a publisher or studio over you dictating what you have to create. There are no deadlines except for what the author sets.

Carol: What is the most successful genre that you have worked with in self-publishing?

Laura: Grandparents who write books for their grandchildren and don't anticipate publishing them in the general market are very successful.   Memoirs have a really good niche in self-publishing. A woman wrote a book about her husband's experiences in WWII for a community of veterans. I expect that book was well-recieved.

Carol: What type of book is less than ideal for the self-publishing world?

Laura: The one that jumps to mind are photography books because print-on-demand printers are not necessarily the highest quality printers. As a result the images do not look as crisp as traditional photography books which are printed on off-set printers. 

Carol: What are some misconceptions about self-publishing?

Laura: From a production standpoint, clients come to us anticipating that we will read their entire book and make comments on it, edit, or proofread it. None of that happens unless they pay for those services. Even then, some self-publishing houses don't offer those services. Clients also antipicate that we will care about their books. I rarely get excited about a book because most that I work on are written poorly.

Carol: Do you have any advice for someone thinking about self-publishing a book?

Laura: Writers often don't understand the process because they're just excited about getting their book published. New writers shouldn't see us like a traditional book publisher; we don't get their book placed in bookstores or win them a spot on a national talk show. If a writer decides to self-publish, his or her book should be totally polished because we're not going to change it at all. 

Carol: Any other advice from your experience as a graphic artist?

Laura: The one service that most self-publishing houses provide is creating the cover of the book. These design professionals know each genre, the trends in design, the technical limits of the printers, and industry standards. Trust them! Remember that a book with a nice cover is more marketable than a book without one. 


Thanks, Laura, for your honest assessment. I hope your insights will guide some writers who are considering this option.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The DeLaine Brothers

Although I am officially in the revision stage of Half-Truths, I am still gathering details from books, interviews, museums and other sources. Yesterday that mean attending a panel discussion at the Charlotte Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum. Featured were Joseph and B.B. DeLaine, sons of Reverand Joseph DeLaine, who filed the historic lawsuit sixty years ago which led to the Supreme Court's landmark decision ending school desegregation in 1957.

B.B. DeLaine

Joseph A. DeLaine
As the brothers remembered their father and the 30's and 40's when they grew up in Clarendon, SC, several things stood out. I was impressed with their tremendous respect for their hard-working father.  Rev. DeLaine was a minister, farmer, school principal, and community leader. B.B. said, "Daddy was strong. He often told us that 'You are your brother's keeper. You have responsibility for those who are less fortunate.'"

In a county that was three-quarters black, and where the children often didn't go past the 6th grade because they were needed back home to work, schools were less than adequate:For more information, you can view a video of Joseph. B.B., and their sister Ophelia remembering their father's role in desegregation.  If you live near Charlotte, NC, visit The Levine Museum of the South to see the award winning exhibit COURAGE which tells this grassroots story through photographs, personal histories, and other artifacts.

As described in an editorial in yesterday's Charlotte Observer: "School was in old dilapidated buildings heated with pot-bellied stoves, with 75-80 students crammed into single classes with one teacher. Falling apart, hand-me-down school books bore the stamp 'colored only' so students knew their place in society. Getting to school required a walk of nine miles or more for many because the public school system refused to provide buses."

This was the system that Rev. DeLaine worked against in spite of the risks to his life and to his family's life. The brothers didn't realize it, but at the time armed black men guarded their home at night--extremely dangerous work.

B.B. said, "Our father was outspoken. He had nothing to lose." As a result of his courage and bravery many children eventually gained access to public transporation to the same schools which whites attended.

Joseph commented on how teenagers today don't know what it's like not to have to go into a restaurant through the back door. In a sense, this is a tribute to his father's legacy; segregation is now a part of our country's history.

But there are lessons about racial prejudice that we don't want to forget. This applies to many cultures and races. As B.B. said, "Like Jews, you have to know the past [in order] to know the future."

And I guess that is why I am writing Half-Truths. It is a part of Charlotte's not-so-long-ago past. A past that we all can stand to learn from.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Maupin House a la Carte

Maupin House has launched a new digital initiative by offering chunks of their educational books in small, downloadable sections. I was excited when Julia Graddy, the publisher, informed me that Teaching the Story was one of the nine books chosen to be available in this format.

As their website suggests, teachers can easily peruse nine different books and then select the materials which will enhance their classroom.  Maupin House encourages teachers to "Think beyond the book and custom-create your own classroom solutions.... Items including lesson plans, activities, and rubrics starting at $1 can be at your fingertips within seconds. Buy only the information you need, when you need it."

If I was teaching in the classroom now, I would love the books which Maupin House is offering in this manner. Specifically, I am familiar with Margriet Ruurs excellent work on teaching poetry in the classroom, The Power of Poems; Steve Johnson's comprehensive book Digital Tools for Teaching; Maity Schrecengost's book Writing Whizardry; and Deidre Godin's book, Amazing Hands-On Literature Projects for Secondary Students.

Choose a la Carte or from the full menu.  If it's from Maupin House your appetite for educational resources will be satisifed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Help Preserve NCCAT's Future

Yesterday I received the following email from Elizabeth A. Gillespie,
Public Communication Specialist, at NCCAT. She wrote:

"The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will begin working on its budget proposal this week; we need you to contact these committee members with the same wonderful messages you sent to House members. Urge them to fund NCCAT. Your personal experiences with NCCAT and your views on why NCCAT is important to education in NC are essential; please keep getting the message out there. This economic crisis will not last forever but if NCCAT dies during this economic downturn, we will never get it back. Future teachers will not experience the rich opportunities NCCAT can provide to improve their instructional practice, expand their content knowledge, and enrich their professional lives.

"The members of the Senate Committee on Education/Higher Education Appropriations are listed below; just click on a name for contact information. These Senators will draft the Senate's education budget; we hope you will contact them and express your views about NCCAT as soon as possible. We believe the budget will move very fast through the Senate, so please don't delay. We hope you will share with us any responses you receive from legislators.

"Nothing is more important than the quality of the teacher in the classroom-nothing! You truly do hold the future in your hands. Thank you for your abiding belief in your students and their potential, and for your deep dedication to their success. And thank you too for being an advocate for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. We are working hard to support you and help you be the best you can be! Please help us keep NCCAT alive!"


Co-Chairman Sen. Tom Apodaca email:

Co-Chairman Sen. Jean Preston email:

Co-Chairman Sen. Jerry W. Tillman email:


Sen. Charlie S. Dannelly email:

Sen. Linda Garrou email:

Sen. Bob Rucho email:

Sen. Dan Soucek email:

If you have already sent your representatives an email, then it will take you less than 5 minutes to copy that email to your senators. Please join me in preserving NCCAT. If you haven't sent an email, feel free to copy my letter which I posted on a previous blog.

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Crafting Characters that Connect- Part 1

To prepare for my Central Piedmont Community College class on "Crafting Characters that Connect" I am reading several excellent essays in the anthology Creating Fiction (Associated Writing Programs, 1999). I thought I'd share some tidbits with you over the scope of several blogs.

First up are some quotes from "Icebergs, Glaciers, and Arctic Dreams: Developing Characters" by Kim Edwards on using your life experiences and emotions.

"For a character to be convincing, what's on the page must somehow evoke knowledge that extends beyond what's strictly visible." (p. 45)

"When [Raymond] Carver ....says that 'everything we write is, in some way, autobiographical,' he doesn't mean that authors stay close to true events when they write--indeed, to do so can actually rob a character of the freedom to react in a natural and individual way--but rather that there's a clear relationship between the events of the world and the events of a story. Art doesn't imitate life but grows directly from it."

"Even when an author has not experienced what her character is experiencing, she can find parallel events and emotions in her own life on which to draw." (p. 47)

"Writers leap from the particular experiences of their own lives to the universal emotions and states of mind those experiences reflect. From there they can particularize the experience once again, into the life of the imagined character." (p. 48)

Creating Fiction ends each instructive chapter with writing exercises. Looks like I'll be adding this book to my bookshelf of writing resources.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Had to Draw the Line Somewhere

As Joyce Hostetter and I planned our May issue of Talking Story on public art, it became clear we could not include all of the pictures we wanted to. Here are a few images--related to literacy of course-- that didn't make the final cut.

Here is art about reading stories: 

Looking over the shoulder of a reader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Art from a story:
"Make Way for Ducklings" Boston Public Garden

I wonder what the story is behind this art?

A figure outside a window in Madrid, Spain

And this?
Street graffiti in Nuremburg, Germany

In Medieval times, stories were told through stained glass windows and on images painted on  church walls and pillars. 
Part of a drawing uncovered in a church in Salzburg, Austria 
In the story I am writing a secret is overheard in a garden, although not one quite as artistic as this. 
Outside the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna
This painting tells the story of Jan Hus when he faced his accusers at the Council of Constance. For a long time a copy of this painting hung above our den sofa; now my husband has it in his office. 
Jan Hus at the Council of Constance, Václav Brožík, 1883
Bethlehem Chapel, Prague
This photograph of an interviewee's family ancestor helped inform Half-Truths

Charles Jones' grandmother

I'm not an illustrator but like I said, there is a line in the sand, and I had to draw it somewhere! These were some of the pictures that didn't make it into the newsletter. To see the images that did and for a chance to win one of three terrific books, check out the May issue of  Talking Story. If you aren't a subscriber, leave me a comment with your email address and I'll add your name to our list. Act now- the issue is coming out at the end of this week!


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