Monday, August 12, 2019

Serendipity or The House is Back!

Serendipity...the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way...

Well, I am the recipient of a serendipitous event.  When I first wrote, "My Days with Nell', the cover of the book was different than subsequent covers. Originally, the beautiful Biltmore House was on the cover with the three main characters looking on at her beauty and grandeur.  As per an agreement with the wonderful folks at Biltmore and their attorneys, we agreed to use that cover for the first printing only.  After our first printing sold out in 8 weeks, we ordered more.  The next cover was gorgeous as well... as the girls now overlooked the beautiful Deer Park and Pisgah Mountain in the distance.  As those sold, it was time for another printing.  My publisher and I were so excited to place the order for our third printing. However, due to a mistake in the ordering process, this order of books arrived with the House back on the cover. It was truly an honest mistake and my publisher was devastated at her mistake.  She mourned over it for days before she told me what had happened.  After all, it is expensive to have books printed, especially hard back, full color books.  Knowing that we could not sell the books or profit from them in any way, the publisher knew she had two options...1. The books would have to be destroyed.  2.  Offer them to Biltmore as a gift.  There was no other way.  She wrote a lovely letter to Biltmore explaining what had happened, and to our delight, they accepted the entire third printing for their stores to sell.  Financially, this was not the best thing for the publisher or me since we will not receive any compensation or royalties at all.   However, as far as I am concerned, writing "My Days with Nell" was never done for monetary reasons. I just want my book in Biltmore's hands.  I am honored they have consistently carried the book since 2013, when it was released.  It was a dream come true for them to embrace my children's book and I am and will always be grateful to them for accepting my work.  For everyone else, you will have the opportunity to purchase the book as it was in its original form.... with our Lady on the Hill proudly on the cover.  Virginia Palmer, my wonderful friend and illustrator, is so very talented and her work is unbelievably beautiful. So if you're at Biltmore, you might want to pick up a copy... cause when these are gone... They're gone!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

I love seeing Biltmore through the eyes of my grandchildren.  We have visited many times and I love that they "get it."  The oldest has asked a couple times for a rooftop tour.  Usually I have all three of them and the youngest, who is five,  is just too young to do it at this time.  It requires quite a bit of walking and climbing over 250 stairs. On the tour you are in high places, and tight spaces. And like I said, he is just not ready for it. :) But recently,  I had Brady, who is 10, alone for a few days. I knew this was the right time so I scheduled our tour. We had a wonderful day, one I will never forget. Brady was so excited and was inquisitive, attentive, and polite. We had the most wonderful guide, Michael, who obviously loves Biltmore. It was evident in every word he spoke. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the house and told us lovely stories that made the house come alive. He was so kind to answer all of Brady's questions and mine too. For those of us who love Biltmore, it is magical to see her capture yet another soul in her web. She has captured Brady.  And this Nana is happy.... and blessed.

Monday, July 3, 2017

I never do this...

I never do this... I don't really know why I did it today. Let me explain...I visit Biltmore all the time. Since the day my book, My Days with Nell, was placed on the estate, I have been a little bashful about telling folks about it. I'm not sure why, it's just I don't want to appear boastful or self-promoting. Today, however, as I was traveling on the shuttle, along with 30 or so people, I was
separated from my friend, Cindy. I was seated with a beautiful, polite, young lady named Katie... or maybe it's Katy.   Anyway, she and I just struck up a conversation about different things... Dancing, both contemporary or ballet, Greensboro, missionaries in Thailand, (such strange conversation topics for strangers to discuss) and of course my love for Biltmore just happened to spill over into the conversation. Before I realized it, I had shared that I had written a book about Biltmore for young folks. I never do this! She asked me my name and the name of my book. The next thing I knew we were being escorted off the shuttle and parted ways. About two hours later, I saw her in the house and  she introduced me to her mom.  We toured the house for a few rooms together. Katie is absolutely the cutest young lady! She told me she had just purchased, My Days with Nell,  and asked if we happened to see her later would I sign it for her. She had left the book at the carriage house for safekeeping.  Unfortunately,  We, again, were separated by the crowd of people and I didn't see her anymore. Before I left The estate, I went by the Carriage House gift shop and asked the clerk if I may see Katie's book. I explained what had happened and that I wanted to surprise her with signing it for her. I probably won't ever see Katie or her sweet mom again. I hope she was pleasantly surprised when she received her book. I hope she will enjoy reading it and  she will be inspired to leave blessings for others. I believe she may have begun her trail of blessings in that meeting such a kind, polite, young lady was a blessing to me. God bless you sweet girl!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Back Home...

Back Home...

Monday, May 1, 2017, I had the honor to speak to the third graders at West Marion Elementary School for their special event,  "Author Day".  We met in the gymnasium and I spoke briefly about my journey in writing,  "My Days with Nell" and "Treasures of My Heart."  The students have been studying McDowell County History and I shared a small reading of my Carson House book, "Treasures of My Heart"  and how Stoneman's Raiders attacked the house nine days after the Civil War had ended.  We had a short question and answer time and the students were, as always, well behaved, courteous and kind.  West Marion is my home school.  It's where I developed a deep love for children's literature. I love the people there who give their time, talent and love to a diverse population of youngsters. They are encouragers and their generosity of spirit knows no boundaries.  I miss them; a part of them goes with me to every school I visit.  They are my standard... and they always end up on top.  A special thank you to Ms. Ashley Greene, meda coordinator, for the invitation.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sullins Academy Author Day

Yesterday, November 3, 2016, I had the honor of speaking at Sullins Academy in Bristol, Virginia, to students in grades 2-6 about "My Days with Nell." From the moment I entered this beautiful school, I was met with smiling faces and helpful folks that directed me to Mrs. Stamper's lovely media center.  After some much needed computer "hook-up" help from Mr. Roy Vermillion, principal, and the school's computer whiz, my powerpoint presentation was up and ready to go.  I hadn't actually planned to speak with the sixth graders, but,  they happened to have a scheduled media class and I had a  research based Biltmore powerpoint that seemed appropriate for them, so we did it! Those students were awesome!  Thanks for your undivided attention, and for your eagerness in helping set up the room for the classes which were to follow you.

I gave two presentations, to grades 2-3 followed by grades 4-5. The students were so attentive, polite, and respectful.  They listened intently and asked pertinent questions as we discussed the writing process in regards to "My Days with Nell." We talked about the Pre-Writing, Drafting, Revising, Editing and Publishing phases of the process and I was amazed at how these young, emergent writers understood these concepts. We briefly talked about their perception of a story's setting, characters, plot and what it means when a book is classified as historical fiction.  We discussed the idea of asking questions and using their five senses to improve and make revisions to their rough drafts.  I have no doubt they are ready to be authors now!  These smart young people can do it!

After my "Writing Process" presentation, we talked about some of the wonderful Christmas traditions at the Biltmore house. I love sharing how the workers at the Estate maintain the 121 year tradition of bringing in the "big tree" for the holidays. I love telling the students how the Vanderbilts generously cared for those that worked at the estate, as well as how kind they were to family and friends who came and stayed at the house, sometimes for extended periods.

We ended my visit with  question and answer time.  I couldn't believe what thoughtful and creative questions they asked.  I was impressed! I hope I persuaded them, informed them and entertained them yesterday.  That was after all, this author's purpose! ;)

I am grateful for the initial invitation from Mrs. Stamper and to Mr. Vermillion for  allowing me to come and share "My Days with Nell," and my passion for Biltmore. I am grateful to the many Sullins outstanding educators that shared encouraging and positive words with me. It was an extra-special time for me personally, because three of the most precious people in my life attend Sullins Academy, my three grandsons, Brady, Drew and Luke. To be able to come and speak at their school is a blessing I will never forget.  Christmas is right around the corner... But I received a great present yesterday in visiting Sullins Academy.  That Author's Day was a lovely gift to me... and I am thankful.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sullins Academy, November 3, 2016

I am grateful to Sullins Adademy Principal, Mr. Roy Vermillion, who invited me to  speak to the second through fifth grade students, on November 3, 2016, regarding "My Days with Nell." My sweet grandsons attend Sullins, so I am there each week, but this is the first time I will visit to share my love of the Biltmore Estate located in Asheville, NC.  I plan to share some of the research, but will concentrate on the writing process as it pertained to publication.  Also, if there's enough time,  I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to share some historical information abouth the wonderful Christmas traditons, customs, and stories with these students. I am excited!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Heading to My Favorite Place on Earth

Biltmore is calling my name.  I haven't been lately and although I don't need a reason to go... I'm going. There is a wonderful exhibit that opens on Friday, February 12, 2016.  It's entitled, "Fashionable Romance." Visitors will be able to view wedding gowns from TV and Movies from the past few decades.   I am most excited, however, to see the recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt's wedding dress.  The orginal gown is unavailable... not sure why. It is rumored to be in the hands of her descendants but is not in good condition and I have also heard, unfortunately, it was destroyed. I pray it is the former and not the latter. Cornelia, the only child of George and Edith Vanderbilt, married John Cecil on April 29, 1924 at All Souls Episcopal Church in Asheville, NC.  It was a grand event with hundreds of guests descending on Biltmore Village to either attend the wedding or catch a glimpse of the bride.

The exhibit will be on display from February 12, 2016 through July 4, 2016.  If you are in the area, I invite you to visit the "Lady on the Hill." You won't regret your visit.  It's a treasure nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and for me, my visit always brings solace and peace to my soul.