Category Archives: publishing

Two to Tango

Jack’s Wednesday guest post makes it on time for a change – –

A belated tip of the hat to my long suffering wife after our recent twenty third anniversary –

We are complete opposites – I’m a lazy bugger and she’s a workaholic!

When we first met she was a community storyteller, a swimming instructor and a strawberry picker. She had had a degree in journalism and another in German and had just completed her Masters in Education. She headed off to St Johns in Newfoundland to start her PhD in Folklore.

When that was to the thesis stage she joined me in Scotland and we married. Off she went again and started a very successful non-profit storytelling co-operative, was appointed to the board of the Scottish national storytelling forum, the board of the US National Storytelling Network and the traditional arts committee of the Scottish parliament. Shortly after to Lancashire in England where she worked for two years with refugees and asylum seekers and learned Arabic!

During all of this she was writing. Academic papers and then the first book which was a collection of newspaper columns published by Lingham House. We moved to Big Stone Gap and opened a bookstore so the next book was a memoir about that and a best seller for a big New York publisher. Since then there have been two more books and another three are in the pipeline!

But then she got another Masters Degree – in Public Health, and is now the Director of GMEC which encourages and helps newly qualified medical professionals to set up shop in Appalachia.

But enter Covid 19!

So, for the last few months she’s been sourcing PPE all over the world and getting it to clinics, medical centers and hospitals throughout SW Virginia – while finishing three books!

Just now and then she has a wee lull in her timetable and she can’t abide that, so it’s time to reorganize the cupboards or the backyard – – – or can stuff!

Did I mention the cat rescue or the chickens?

I can never keep up, but it’s been a wonderful twenty three years –

Here’s to the next twenty three!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: FISH by L.S. Matthews

I picked up this book while on a week-long writing retreat, one evening when I couldn’t face my own writing any more. It was short, easy to read in an evening, and I stayed up and read it before bed.

LS Matthews has written a charming and deceptively simple story of Tiger, the child of foreign aid workers in a war-torn country. Tiger is the only character in the book who gets a name. The wise guide who takes the family on their harrowing journey says his name is too hard to pronounce so call him Guide. The donkey (also a major character) is Guide. And Tiger’s parents are Mom and Dad.

The country itself is not named. The novel uses childhood innocence to observe the building horror of the situation, and the difficult questions that the horror will stop for Tiger’s family but not the rest, because they are being evacuated if they can reach the airplane. Tiger wants to know what will happen to his friends. His parents try hard to soft-petal that answer, but readers get it.

A journey fraught with hardships resulting from the drought and war that ruined the country shows perils from natural to human. They cannot cross the easiest border because it is now closed to refugees. They are a target, as foreign workers, for kidnapping and ransom. And they don’t know how to navigate the mountains that separate them from the plane that will not wait, and cannot communicate with the plane.

If the book sounds dark, it isn’t. Donkey and Fish are two of the most human characters in the book; on the day they have to leave, Tiger rescues a fish from a receding mud puddle. The fish would have died, the puddle drying up and leaving him noplace to live. Fish continues to be a metaphor for the family’s survival, placed in a water bottle, and eventually…. well, you read the book. You’ll find it interesting.

Spoiler alert: the donkey makes it. :]

Although written for children, I found the simplicity of the story and the metaphor-rich writing lovely, and moving in their stark poetry. Two fins up.

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Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, out of things to read, post-apocalypse fiction, publishing, reading