About Wendy

Wendy is the the executive director of the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium and the author, coauthor, or editor of six books, including her latest release Masks, Misinformation, & Making Do: Appalachian Healthcare Workers & the COVID-19 Pandemic. She advocates for social justice in health care and other critical areas of development across Appalachia.

Wendy and her husband, Jack Beck

In her free time she enjoys rebel canning (yes you can can dairy products!) learning about herbs (she likes to eat weeds because she’s a bad gardener) and crocheting (she’s really fast, but the FELV rescue cats in the house slow her down; they wait until she’s in full throttle and then leap into her lap, but they’re so gosh darn cute…).

Her husband Jack is the cook in the family, and also looks after the chickens on their hobbyist half-acre homestead. Once in a great while he convinces Wendy to strum along on the harp as he puts up a music video or two.

Media & Interviews

76 thoughts on “About Wendy

  1. Wendy, may I use one of these pics on publicity flyers for your upcoming presentations for AAG & Lost State meetings? Or would you like to send an email with head shot attached, preferably .jpg, to my address below? Thanks, Sylvia

    • Hi,
      I had to write to say how much I enjoyed your book. We moved from CA to WV twenty some years ago and I could relate to your small town experience. A used bookstore opened here years ago, but briefly. It was really a romance book store. How disappointing!
      If your trips take you to Maine, there is a wonderful bookstore in South Portland. It sells a variety of books, new and used, a wonderful gift selection, cards, magazines. Every time I visited, I would visit. Oh, it is in the Mill Creek Shopping Center. At the moment, I can’t think of the name.
      Thanks again for a very enjoyable read.


    • Thanks, Ann! I’ve passed this to Cassie at St. Martin’s Press and she’s going to contact you closer to publication. (Love the McGuffy’s Reader pun…)

  2. I’ve just begun my advanced reader’s copy of your book (I’m a bookseller at Ebenezer Books in Johnson, VT), and I’m hooked! I feel a bit guilty that I’m wishing my customers leave so I can pick it back up 🙂

  3. is the gig to bookstore sit still open? i’m interested!!! book author myself, inveterate book collector and, of course, reader, and even like dogs and cats!

  4. My husband and I both write and would love to store-sit as a couple. We love: books, animals, trees, rural Virginia, rural anyplace, and ice cream. I’m a retired University administrator and my husband is a retired psychotherapist. He is now beginning a new career as a gratis troubadour, singing and playing guitar and ukelele banjo. May we apply for this serendipitous opening?

  5. Thanks for helping Suzanne today; I enjoyed reading about your book store and your books; lending your ears to people and their problems. I donate any book that I win to the local library for other readers to enjoy; it is sad that so many books are e-books as I like the hard copy.

  6. Hi Wendy, I won a copy of The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap when you guested the Dear Reader column, and am enjoying reading it. I love that the property was the “old Meade house”. My maiden name was Meade. You don’t see the name often and when I do it is often Mead without the “e” on the end. It makes the book more personal to me, and it’s a great read anyway! Thanks,

    Joannee (Meade) Hingston

    • Ha! I wonder if you’re related to Hope Meade, who had the house. She is famous throughout Wise County for her dinner rolls, little knots of soft dough that melt in the mouth.

      • Not that I know of, but I’ll pass the info on to a cousin of mine who is very into genealogy. Maybe she will be able to find out.

  7. I read your book and really enjoyed it. Live in Asheville and hope to get over to Big Stone Gap in the near future to meet you in person.

  8. Wendy,
    I just finished reading your book. It was a wonderful story that I didn’t want to end. I love your writing style and your humor.
    Portsmouth VA (way on the other side of Virginia)

    • Hey, thanks! While the book ended, the madness here continues on a daily basis. I hope you saw our annual Christmas video card; scroll back a few days or search Christmas 2012 Lonesome Pine Bookstore on youtube if not. That’s kinda what it’s like here….

      We’ll be up at your end of the state in March for the Festival of the Book; come say hi if you can. I don’t have details in front of me, but it’s Friday afternoon at the library toward the end of the month.

  9. Wendy my Grandparents lived in The Gap on Poplar Circle. Toy and Edith Hayes. My happiest memories growing up were spent there. My daughter bought me your book for Christmas. I am so excited. I still have friends that go back to the Gap for reunions etc. Big Stone was and I am hoping still is a wonderful place. I haven’t been back there in many years but hope to someday. Good luck with the book and bookstore.

  10. Reading your book now, Wendy; I too own a used bookstore — mine is at a seasonal market, The Windmill Farm and Craft Market in Penn Yan, NY. Even through I am not a farm (I do live on one) or a craft (love to cross-stitch, but I can’t see that well anymore), I have thrived at the market for 21 years. I love my little store; I was a journalist in New York’s Finger Lakes for 26 years (ran the store at the same time for 19 of them). I look forward to reading the rest of the book, and now your blog. I hope that we get to be good friends.

  11. Hello good read friends. I am new to this blog and have enjoyed this new adventure thus far. Wendy, I am new at writing and excited to come across your blog and page. Why, this is the kind of interaction I need to keep me motivated with my crafts and writing projects. I would like a copy of your book, please direct me where to purchase one.

    • Thanks, Kathy. Your local independent bookstore will be carrying it, or happy to order it for you. If you don’t live near a bookstore, Powell’s Books has it online, as does The Strand. (Google either of them.) And if all else fails, it is selling briskly on Amazon.

  12. I will check out the local barns&noble store for your book I am excited about reading it. I am also a fan of Adrani who wrote books about the locals.

  13. Just read your book after finding it at the local library. I loved it, and will recommend to friends. Our daughter lives in Baltimore, we vacationed in VA last summer. Next time we’re in the Commonwealth, we’ll definitely stop by!

  14. Hi Wendy. I’m working on the upcoming issue of Smoky Mountain Living magazine, and our writer has included a review of Little Bookstore, with a bit of background about you, Jack and the shop. Is there any way I could have a photo of the two of you in the shop to publish? Thanks!

  15. I was just searching the database idly with a purpose and ran across your absolutely hysterical zodiac. I am one of Allen Drury’s nephews, and you may be interested to note we are bringing some of his books out shortly. If you send me your business contact at allendruryproject@gmail.com, I will make sure you get the info. You hit the reads non-fiction mainly on the head, but he based so much of his work on history that he read a lot of that. Also, he was afraid of plagiarism charges. Your cormacites might not laugh, but Al loved to laugh until he cried.

  16. Hello Wendy!
    I have finished reading your book (portuguese edition) yesterday, Christmas eve, curiously in tune with the season, with Glenn wishing you guys Merry Christmas in the last page, so by the way, Merry Christmas from me to you too, just on time! 🙂
    I knew I was bringing your book home with me, from the moment I glanced at its cover in a bookstore in Lisbon, and it seemed to have been divinely placed there, specially for me. I had just left my toxic corporate job the day before, to chase my own wild dreams and one of the craziest ones has long been opening a small bookstore and arts/local community café, from an old restored historical house in the small conservative town where I live, with no experience in the matter… pretty much in the same way you did.
    It was a lovely, exciting read all the way through, and amazing to find so much in common, not only the love for books, reading, and writing, but also the love for people and their stories, your connection to celtic roots which speaks dearly to me and the practice of a simple, sustainable, community centered way of life, and most importantly, the spiritual integrity of not renting the space under your skin. You and Jack are to me examples of those rare people mastering the art of living in wholeness with oneself and one’s place.
    Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you as your reader. It has been so heart warming to find myself inside The Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookstore everyday. It has brought me amazement and inspiration, laughs and tears, together with helping me believe that one day I too will be living my own dream… and writing about it.
    All the best to you, and hope to meet you in person in a bookstore one day 🙂

    • Carla, so good to meet you! We had our tenth wedding anniversary trip in Portugal, in the Algarve district, and have a vague plan to return there next year and visit some of the bookstores. We’ll let you know what comes of it, if you keep up with us? Did you open a bookstore?

  17. Wendy, I am only on p. 16 of your book, and I have already planned a trip to visit the bookstore!! I also need to ask you about my Billy Whiskers books (I have 24)–like, would you be interested in buying them? If not, could you tell me where a good market for them might be?

  18. Wendy, I had the privilege of sitting next to you at an Bookmarks event in Winston Salem a few months ago. Been deep in the process of building the LAST HOUSE EVER ever since so just now writing to thank you for being so nice in person, as I thought you would be after reading your book. We discussed a writing project of mine and you said having the right agent was the key to getting published. Do you share the name of that agent?


    • Hi Marcia – I can give you the best advice ever for getting the right agent, because the right agent is different for each person. Go to a bookstore and look at books that are like yours. (First subset of good advice: if you can’t identify the genre or audience for your book, no agent in the world will talk to you.) Read the acknowledgements section of these books and look for the names of their agents. Get online and find out if they accept unsolicited queries, and what their guidelines are. Query 10 at a time. This really, really does get you the right agent for you.GOOD LUCK! Let us know how it goes, eh?

  19. Wendy,
    My husband bought me your book at the Goodwill store in Burlington, Iowa, for 44 cents–normally 88 cents for used hardbacks, but half-price that day! Rarely have I been so touched or felt so strongly that an author and I are “sisters under the skin.”
    At the age of 57, I am finally opening my/our own bed and breakfast, for the same reasons you and Jack opened your bookstore. Many would say it’s in the wrong place–in a tiny town far from any metropolis–but we believe it will fill not only the real need for overnight accommodations in a warm, beautiful, lovely place, but also the need for a great third place in our little community of Farmington, Iowa. The porch is 10 x 35 and surrounded by trees and flowers, only a block from downtown. One of only two restaurants closed two weeks ago, so people need somewhere to meet friends, have coffee and conversation (and house visiting relatives), and perhaps play the baby grand just inside the front door. And yes, our house will be filled with books, in every room! We know it will evolve in the way it should, and for the first time in my life, I’m so EXCITED about my work! Like you, I never again want to “rent the place inside my skin” to anyone else. What a delight and source of great encouragement your book has been to me! My hope is that my husband and I will be the instruments for adding joy, laughter, and love to the lives of many. For us, it will be more than enough. Please come stay with us at “The Collins Bed & Breakfast” anytime after we open in late September (352-278-3191)–absolutely FREE, of course.
    Much love and many thanks to you and Jack for your marvelous example,
    Elizabeth Collins –Farmington, Iowa

  20. Wendy, I am with the Ashe County Arts Council in West Jefferson North Carolina. We sponsor a literary festival called On The Same Page. It’s held the third week in September each year. This year’s events are ready to go, you can check it all our at the website, http://www.onthesamepagefestival.org. I am writing to see if you’d be interested in participating in the 2015 Festival (September 15-19). I can fill you in on all the details, dates, events, etc. if you’re available and interested. If so, could you send me your honorarium requirements? We’d love to have you!
    You can call me or we can correspond via email. I look forward to hearing from you! Jane Lonon

  21. Wendy, just finished reading your book which I picked up at McKays in Nashville … thought that was funny since you mention shopping at McKays in your book 🙂

  22. I’m trying to figure out why your blog as well as three others I follow, no longer pop up in my email to remind me that there’s a new writing. Do you have any idea why? Did WordPress do something? Do I need to do something to get that back? Any ideas? Thank you.

  23. Hi Wendy,
    I am reading your book and loving it. I hope to visit your bookstore on the way to Asheville one day. Thanks for the many hours of fun reading. I’ve long fantasied about owning a used book store but never had the funds or guts. Continued success to you and Jack.
    Connie D., Charlottesville VA

  24. Hi Wendy and Jack

    Thought I’d say hi from my little corner of Melbourne, Australia.

    I read compulsively and contentedly. My husband and sons will testify that I read at the expense of housework and cooking.

    I am an Australian of Chinese descent and spent the first half of my life in Malaysia and Singapore. I was employed in the book trade for over 12 years and can totally relate to your stories. That aside, the very people that populate your book exists in every corner of the globe including mine.

    Thank you for writing a book that brought such pleasure.

    God bless,

    Ps/ I picked up your book from my local library but am certainly going to purchase a hard copy for myself.

  25. I recently bought your book and look forward to reading it. Being a bibliophile myself,you’ll understand when I say that I can’t wait to finish the book I’m currently reading and start on yours.( That is, I’ll read it if I can find it among the dozens of other books I have stacked up to read!) I’m also an author but unfortunately (for me) my reading has a higher priority than my writing. I love to visit any and all bookstores, so maybe someday I’ll get a chance to visit yours . (I live just across the border in Kentucky.)

  26. Good morning
    I have 14 years old. I´m portuguese.
    I buy your book because I liked the name and at the end I liked very munch the story. At Scholl I will have to talk about this and what I thought about it,
    But I whant to know if you have writen more books and actualy what do you do, because I have dificulty to understand if you are only in the library or make other things.

  27. When I finished “The Little Bookstore…” the very next volume in the to-read pile was Arnold Bennett’s “Riceyman Steps” — “And now for something completely different” whoo-ee. I enjoyed “The Little Bookstore” very much indeed and grieve that it’s a long long road a-winding between here and Virginia…

  28. Love “The Little Bookstore…..” which is helping me get thru recovering from a bad fall. I bought a copy to give to my daughter who plans her cross-country trips by stopping at small bookstores. One of my favorite things about it is the wonderful friendship between you and your husband – how lucky that you found each other! I have to admit that I also read my Kindle, reason being that I can read it with the bedside light off so I don’t keep my husband awake!
    Gwen (85 years old)

  29. Hello Mrs. Welch. My name is Daria VanRavestein. I work for DePaul Community Resources, out of Roanoke, Va. We also have an office is Big Stone Gap and serve all of Southwest and Central Virginia. We specialize in Foster Care, Adoption and Adults with Disabilities, and Residential and Day Support Programs. We have run across your book, Fall Or Fly, and think very highly of it and how it would be a wonderful training and resource for our employees and families we recruit and train for Foster Care and Adoption. I am in development as we are a non-profit. I would like to pursue a grant to buy books, and possibly do more training and possibly involve you as well. I am brainstorming and would love to be able to chat with and see if you would be willing to work with me on this grant. You may also have some input on ideas and training given when you wrote. I would love to be able to chat with you at your convenience. My cell is I or you can message me anytime here. I hope to hear from you and discuss this with you when you are available. Thank you in advance. Daria VanRavestein 540.589.6509

  30. Our book club just finished reading “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.” Really enjoyed it. If you are interested in knowing how to get masking paper off a book, you can use lighter fluid. It will not damage the surface underneath. If you want to test it first, try putting masking tape on a Kleenex, then apply the lighter fluid. The tape will come right off without damaging the Kleenex. I feel bad you didn’t know that earlier, but I shared it with our book club and they were very glad to know.

    I read that you sold your store. Hope you are enjoying your new adventures!

  31. I saw in the Cardinal News that you had written about the pandemic and the devastating affect it had on medical professionals and that story led me to look you up and I found your Lonesome Pine book. I just finished it and liked it very much. I especially loved the stories about your customers and how they opened up to you both. I too moved to a very small town in Virginia in Giles County back in the 80’s and identified with lots that happened to you two along the way. Hoping you and Jack are well and wanted to let you know you are appreciated. I have a book finished and appreciated your advice on finding an agent. First I need an editor and someone who can prepare the book into the correct format. I am using an iPad and not very good at iPages. Anyway more than you need to know. Enjoyed your book and will be on the lookout for the release of your next one.

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