Coal ash fighters at the book launch of The Sands of Gower:
left to right, Shelton Bass, Dawn Crawley, Johnsie Tipton, Dean Tipton, in Judy's living room.
I learned early in my life as a writer, teacher, and publisher of books to go with what you have. Never dwell on how many people are responding to your efforts, invitations, pleas. Keep on. When I look back on my life, every time I simply wouldn’t give up, I succeeded. There’s that saying of Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM: “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
I invited about 200 people to my book launch on Sunday, December 6, for my new mystery, The Sands of Gower: The First Penny Weaver Mystery, and asked them to RSVP only if they were coming. My friend Barbara Wefing from New Jersey, who lived here in the 70s and early 80s, visited me that weekend. My friend and faithful reader/copy-editor, Carol Hay, said she was coming “with bells on.” I also invited coal ash activists whom I work with these days. Four of them replied they’d be there: Dawn Crawley and Shelton Bass, who farm next to the Lee County coal ash landfill site; Dean and Johnsie Tipton, who live by the railroad line, also next to the Lee County site, at “ground zero,” as they call it.
I laid out the refreshments and the books. Then we talked, but more about coal ash than about books. Carol and Barbara got the full coal ash education. Shelton entertained us with stories of all the polluting factories he’d worked in over the years and how careless the management was of the workers’ health. They also described their farm, with goats, horses, mules, chickens, and their adventures riding horses in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Johnsie and Dean, who are expert at asking questions, and live near Dawn and Shelton, but were not yet up on all their neighbors’ adventures, kept up the questions, and then we were all amazed at the stories that poured out. We stopped a little to eat minestrone soup and bread, and sample other goodies, though only Barbara had any of the wine she’d brought. The rest of us had lemon balm tea or coffee. Every now and then the subject of books came up, and Dean said if I wrote my books on travels in Russia, he wanted to buy that one. It’s a few years off, but I do plan to. The animal and people stories won out over the books.
The whole evening’s experience, from 4 PM until 7:30 PM, was a gift. Carol had to leave, but the rest of us were happy, entertained, and amazed at all we learned about each other and worlds we hadn’t been in, worlds which take huge amounts of courage, knowledge, canniness, and sheer gall.
As the coal ash fighters in Lee and Chatham fight on to stop twenty million tons of coal ash from coming into our neighborhoods, let’s remember that. Human beings can outwit and outlast their problems if they summon their wits and their core of resilience and faith, their indomitable spirit.
Buy Links: Both ebook and paperback http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Sands+of+Gower&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3AThe+Sands+of+Gower
e-book only: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=The+Sands+of+Gower%3A+The+First+Penny+Weaver+Mystery In December only: $1.02 with coupon AB45F
From Hoganvillaea Books, $15, paperback, plus $1 tax, $3 postage. $19. PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559, USA
Left to right: Judy, Shelton, Dawn, Johnsie, Dean. Photos from launch by Barbara Wefing.