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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.

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Act 5, Scene 1: Irene's Twilight Zone

Act 5, Scene 1: Irene’s Twilight Zone See whole poem, "The Main Show," and index of scenes.  (Spotlight opens on the lobby of the theater.  Characters who remain in the lobby enter the theater, which remains dark.  Joan the nurse tells the tour guide to also go in, and the narrator hangs back awhile.) Joan: Go ahead in. I’ll stay with my patient.Anyway, this is a family…See More
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Little Switzerland Books and Beans

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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

"The introduction of my new publication, Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock will be launched on Sept 14 2019 at 1:30 PM at the Henderson County Court House 500 Main Street. A talk and a brief slide show follows with refreshments afterward. …"
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Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
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Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8

12 Notables of WNC by Jack Prather; and Grateful Steps Foundation

Jack Prather celebrates greats with Grateful Steps

by Rob Neufeld

 

Grateful Steps, one of the generators of this region’s literary vitality, is reaching out in many directions to fulfill its mission of diversity in publishing.

On Aug. 4, the non-profit foundation and publisher hosts its “biggest event ever,” says Grateful Steps owner Micki Cabaniss, as Jack Prather, along with notables celebrated in his new book, “Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina,” gather in the foundation bookstore

Three of the notables—musician-storyteller David Holt; poet Glenis Redmond; and Doug Orr (President Emeritus, Warren Wilson College)—will perform.

 

Prodigious

 

Grateful Steps has published 50 books since its founding in 2004. Forty more are in production; 100 more on a waiting list.

One upcoming book, “Why the Clown Wouldn’t Smile,” is by a Prather notable, Dr. Olson Huff.  It features artwork by disabled children Huff has known through five decades of pediatric caring.

“Dr. Huff is the consummate child advocate and everyone’s role model community pediatrician,” Dr. O. Marion Burton, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, testifies in a quote that opens Prather’s 29-page chapter on Huff.

In each chapter, testimonials lead to bulleted biographical notes and substantial interviews.  Prather’s notables, selected through recommendations and research, give themselves over to the generous space Prather provides them.

Prather’s journey started with Joe Epley, novelist and public relations all-star, whom Prather had met at a Public Relations Society Meeting in 2004.  Epley led Prather to Huff.

David Potorti, N.C. Arts Council Literature Director, led Prather to basket artist Billie Ruth Sudduth and studio glass artist Richard Ritter.

“When I started glassblowing,” Ritter told Prather on a tour of his studio, “There were no furnaces or equipment commercially available, do you had to build your own.”

Ritter had attended Penland School of the Arts in 1971, and served as its Artist-in-Residence from 1972-76.  A few years later, he and wife, artist Jan Williams, had moved to a house a few miles away.

“I wanted to get to know my neighbors,” Ritter says, “and I also wanted to join the Volunteer Fire Department.  As a kid I always wanted to be a fireman.”  He eventually became chief of that organization.

 

Halo effect

 

“I’m pacing a bit,” Prather writes, describing his excitement before interviewing Dr. Huff.  “Suddenly striding my way,” he narrates, “is a spry septuagenarian with Carl Sandburg-like hair and bright smiling eyes.”

“Doctor Huff, please share with me how you stay so trim and fit,” Prather asks when they settle in Huff’s office.

The ensuing conversation touches upon Huff’s childhood in hardscrabble Kentucky; his discovery of medicine as a career; Vietnam War service; “Country Remedy,” the movie based on his book about a pediatrician; Smart Start; childhood obesity; MAHEC; Mission Children’s Hospital; and faith.

“My life began in a religious environment that was pretty restrictive,” Huff responded with frankness to Prather’s admiring inquiries.  Influenced by caring parents and role models, Huff stated, he “began to look more at the broadness of what it means to have a faith.”

He identified with the role of healer.

 

In step

 

Prather published the book through his own company, Future Now Publishing; and connected with Grateful Steps to promote and sell it.

Grateful Steps Foundation embraced the “Twelve Notables” message; and its publishing house applied parts of its full-service (edit-design-promote-distribute) operation.

“All our books are top quality,” Cabaniss attests.  “We work one-on-one with the authors sometimes for years.

“We bring voices to the community that wouldn’t otherwise be heard.”

The bookstore, opened a year-and-a-half ago, helps get out the word, and includes consignment books, representing other publishers. 

Additional collaborative efforts include providing space to writing classes, Tek Kids, and Creative College; support of Wordfest, the annual Asheville poetry festival directed by Laura Hope Gill, Grateful Steps’ marketing director; and interfaith book discussions.

 

Mission

 

This past January, Grateful Steps Foundation received non-profit status.

“Just like Hub City Press in Spartanburg,” Cabaniss relates, “we are a non-profit publishing company with a book shop…There are some highly respected non-profit publishing companies outside of universities and religious organizations” she notes, also citing Graywolf Press in Minneapolis and Sarabande Books in Louisville. 

Grateful Steps’ mission statement identifies its guidelines: to publish under-represented voices; preserve and teach the history of Appalachia; and to promote multicultural, interfaith and economic community development.

The interfaith focus connects to a spiritual foundation.

“We have crosses on our logo,” Cabaniss states.  “We have a Christian base to our company.  People here have a Christian base to their personal lives, and we start our days with prayer.

“We feel it’s a ministry of sorts to open the door respectfully to others’ beliefs, and to share with them ours.”

 

The books speak

 

The message is in the diversity of Grateful Steps’ books.

One book, soon to go to press, is by an inmate who turned his life around and became a chef and now a novelist.

“Near Death” by Steven Cox portrays evil-doers who are brainwashed by a tribunal to believe that they have died, faced judgment, and been given a second chance at life.  When they discover the scam, many years later, they have second thoughts about their fates.

Here is a sampling of other Grateful Steps books:

  • The Other Half of My Soul by Bahia Abrams (2008)—a novel about a romance between a Syrian-American Jewish woman and a passionate Syrian Muslim.
  • My Brother Is Like a Baby Bird by Amy Tiller (hardcover, 2009)—a picture book by the mother of extremely premature twins, revealing animal lessons about caring.
  • Meigs Line by Dwight McCarter and Joe Kelley (2009)—the story of the authors’ explorations along the Cherokee-American 1802 boundary.
  • Look Up Asheville: An Architectural Journey (2010), to be followed by Look Up Asheville Collection II, by author Laura Hope Gill and photographer Michael Oppenheim.
  • Sharks on My Fin Tips by Simone Lipscomb (2011)—described as “journeys deep into the wilds of nature and her own instinctual self.”
  • Traveling to Marshall by Jack Thomas (2011)—a look back at the mountain town by a retired pastor.
  • The Cow That Meowed by Hal Mahan, owner of The Compleat Naturalist in Biltmore Village, and illustrator Susan Peterson (Dec. 2011)—a parable about tolerance.
  • The Asheville Art Book—a new project, featuring area artists and gorgeous photos, now seeking sponsors.

 

THE EVENT & BOOK

Jack Prather launches his book, “Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina,” 7 p.m., Aug. 4, at Grateful Steps, 159 South Lexington Ave., Asheville.  He will be joined by notables Dr. Olson Huff, Joe Epley, David Holt, Doug Orr, Glenis Redmond, and Rev. Dan Matthews.   

Learn more about the event, the publisher, and Prather’s notables.

Part of the proceeds of the sale of the book will go to the Warren Wilson College Young Writers Scholarship, to be awarded annually to an incoming freshman majoring in Creative Writing.

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