Commentary #91: “Appalachia has a new story to tell, and it’s not an elegy” (Editorial)

Ridgeview High School Robotics Team

This is the championship Ridgeview High School robotics team from Southwest Virginia. Way to go! Image Credit: Dickenson County Public Schools

This was a fascinating editorial that one of my good friends, Mr. Lin, shared on Facebook a while ago. Mr. Lin used to be a teacher at my local elementary school, but has since created an impressive career in school administration. He has been an assistant principal and a principal in the Roanoke County Schools, Floyd County Schools, and now in Pennsylvania.

Here’s the link to the original post:


On The Roanoke Times’ website, the caption with the photo I used states: “The first team from Ridgeview High School in Dickenson County to win a state championship was its robotic team in 2018. That team went on to the world championship in Detroit, where it placed 9th out of 64 teams. Our editorial at left looks at how J.D. Vance’s ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ perpetuates negative stereotypes of Appalachia. There’s a different story the region ought to tell, and the engineering skills of students in one of the state’s most rural localities ought to be part of that new narrative.”

Every time I read something new about Appalachia, whether it’s an editorial or not, I always learn new things or discover something different. This editorial was no exception.


When I first heard about Hillbilly Elegy on NPR’s Fresh Air, I was immediately intrigued. I kept telling myself I was going to read it, but here we are, in July 2019, and I haven’t read it yet. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I didn’t realize Ron Howard is planning to make a movie about the memoir, either. I admire Howard immensely. However, I’m hesitant to see it, whenever it is released. I don’t appreciate negative stereotypes, whether they’re implied or not.


Maybe my feathers are ruffled because of my own Appalachian “history.” Much of my mom’s extended family hails from West Virginia. I have fond memories of many family reunions in Ripley and Beckley. I loved visiting my great-grandmother, Laura Bethany Powers, whom I am named after. She lived to be 102!

In addition, I started researching Appalachia on my own in high school and throughout college.

This editorial opened my eyes to the progress that has been made and seen in Southwest Virginia. Since it is the Roanoke newspaper, I understand why they focused on their own region. Still, seeing the positive statistics made me happy, and hopeful.


I still plan to read Hillbilly Elegy, eventually. I have another 15 or so books I want to read first.

But, after I read Hillbilly Elegy, I’ll likely look up the other two books that were mentioned in the editorial:

  1. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, by Elizabeth Catte
  2. Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, a collection of essays by scholars and community activists in the region, edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll

I found one other part of the editorial to be striking:

“Given all this talent, technology companies ought to be competing to locate in Appalachia, not acting as if it didn’t even exist. These are the stories we need to be telling the world — that we are a topographically-challenged and economically-challenged part of the country that is populated by smart, hard-working people.”

An interesting thought, and that needs to be explored much further.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #174: Eleventh TBR Recap

Paul Sweeney Book Quote

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR update:

  1. Cullen, Dave, Columbine *Re-Read*
  2. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone *Re-Read*
  3. Humphries, MD, Suzanne, Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History (DNF)

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR:

  1. Brubaker Bradley, Kimberly, The War That Saved My Life *Re-Read*
  2. Fisher, Carrie, Wishful Drinking
  3. Hite, Sid, My Name is America: The Journal of Rufus Rowe, Witness to the Battle of Fredericksburg
  4. Russell, Kristen, A Sky for Us Alone
  5. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Removal Rate: 5/11 = 45%


Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Arnold, David, Mosquitoland
  2. Conley, Garrard, Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family
  3. Goldstein, Amy, Janesville: An American Story
  4. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*
  5. Kubica, Mary, Good Girl
  6. Oviatt, Didi, Search for Maylee

Keep Rate: 6/11 = 55%


Adding To The TBR

  1. Anderson, Laurie Halse, Shout
  2. Duncan, Lois, Who Killed My Daughter?: The True Story of a Mother’s Search for Her Daughter’s Murderer
  3. Martin, Kristen, The Alpha Drive
  4. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets *Re-Read*
  5. Spinney, Caroll, The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers
  6. Vaughan, Brian K., Paper Girls Volume 1
  7. Ware, Ruth, In A Dark, Dark Wood

So, my current TBR is 13 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What book are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Getting Personal #173: July Goals

July

Image Credit: Facebook

Hello, July! It’s hot and humid here in Virginia. Summer just started, and it’s already reaching the mid-90s during the day.

Here are my goals for the month of July:

  1. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2019.
  2. Catch up on maintenance / gas logs for both cars.
  3. Do another round of closet clean-out.
  4. See Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  5. Watch Stranger Things, Season 3.
  6. Finish cleaning the attached garage.
  7. Work on my office, making sure everything from the garage has a proper place.
  8. Read every night before bed.
  9. Celebrate the 4th!
  10. Spend quality time with family and friends.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of July?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #172: June Goals Recap

BeautyBeyondBones 2

Image Credit: Beauty Beyond Bones

June felt like a bit of a marathon. Oh well. It was a good month!

Here’s the link to my June Goals post:

  • Getting Personal #170: June Goals

Ready?

Here we go!


  1. See Dark Phoenix. — Accomplished!
  2. Test out the “natural” weed killer recipe. — Accomplished!
  3. Plant mosquito-repelling plants in our front flower beds. — Did not accomplish.
  4. Work on tidying up both garages with Al. — Accomplished!
  5. Catch up on maintenance / gas logs for both cars. — Did not accomplish.
  6. Do another round of closet clean-out. — Did not accomplish.
  7. Decide what to work on for Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019. — Accomplished!
  8. Catch up on tags and participation blog posts. — Accomplished!
  9. Spend more time reading. — Did not accomplish.
  10. Spend more time with my journal. — Semi-Achieved.
  11. Find at least one new recipe to make. — Accomplished!

Al and I went to see Dark Phoenix the weekend it opened. It was pretty decent, but we both have similar opinions about the X-Men movie franchise. The cast was great!

The “natural” weed killer recipe is three ingredients: Vinegar, Epsom salt, and blue Dawn dishwashing detergent. It worked pretty well. We definitely have some stubborn weeds, though, so it may take multiple applications!

We made HUGE progress with both garages this month! I’m so excited. Al single-handedly worked on the detached garage, and we were able to park his Mustang in it last weekend! Happy dance. We took several hours yesterday to tackle the attached garage together, and it looks like a different space already. We still have some work to do, but we filled up my car with thrift store donations, and we have so much less stuff to deal with going forward. We’re hoping, by some time in July, to park one of the other cars in it!

I can’t believe it’s already time for Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2019! I really enjoy the structure of it, and I look forward to meeting everyone in my “cabin.”

I’m working diligently to write in my journal every day. I’m taking a page from my Gratitude Challenge blog posts and trying to capture my gratitude list daily.

The recipe I chose knocked it out of the park! I was looking for something different to make in our Crock-Pot, and I stumbled upon Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas. It’s only four ingredients, and it’s simply set it and forget it!


Did you have any goals for the month of June? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #238: “Imagination Plantation: European Vacation”

I was nominated for this writing challenge by Kristian, the lovely author of Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table. Thanks, Kristian, for nominating me!

Here’s the link to Kristian’s post, where I was nominated:

The challenge, Imagination Plantation, was originally created by Nova, the amazing author of Nova’s Namaste 365 Online.


4 Simple Rules:

Write me a short paragraph about what’s happening in this image.

Create a pingback to this image.

Tag three bloggers.

Reuse this same image 🙂 Let’s see how many stories can come from the same one.


Kristin shivered as the plane landed. As she turned off her iPod and listened to the final announcements of the flight attendants, she felt her right hand being gently squeezed. It was comforting.

“K? Are you okay?”

She smiled, squeezing his hand back.

“Yeah. I think so. My stomach always drops when planes land.”

Brennan smiled, hardly believing they had just landed in Germany. Their first time overseas.

As Brennan stroked her hand, Kristin’s thoughts drifted toward the cities and towns they would be exploring for the next 10 days. She was always nervous during plane trips, but for some reason, she was incredibly nervous about this trip. It was odd – She hadn’t felt this nervous around Brennan since the very beginning of their Camp experience. That was years ago.

She started to relax as their Uber left the Munich airport and headed toward the German countryside. The weather was absolutely beautiful, very unseasonable for the middle of August.

Brennan noticed Kristin had drifted off, her head laying on his shoulder. He smiled as his lips grazed her forehead. He caught a glimpse of a sleepy smile.

He took in the sights. It was about a 30-mile drive from the airport. There were so many trees – Far more than he’d ever seen in Texas. The amount of foliage and nature was rivaling Camp in Maine, and that was hard to top. He was in awe the entire drive. There were rivers, bridges, cathedrals, and stunning architecture. It was almost overwhelming. He was a little sad Kristin was missing this, but he thought it better she sleep. They had the next 10 days to take in everything. Germany was just the beginning.

The Uber driver easily navigated the steep, gravel-lined hill toward their first stop. Brennan’s smile grew wider. He remembered how excited, positively giddy Kristin was when she’d found it on Airbnb. It looked like a castle in the photos. And, in real life, unfolding before Brennan’s eyes, it was true.

“Hey, Kristin … Sweetheart?”

She groaned slightly, yawned, and opened her eyes.

“Yes, Brennan? What is it?”

He kissed her forehead, and then brushed her lips.

“Welcome to your castle, darling. Let’s start our European vacation.”


Nominations


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #171: “My Grandma, the PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!” (Reblogged)

Full disclosure: This is not about my grandma!

I wanted to spread this exciting news!

I’ve been following Didi and her blog for quite a while. I remember her telling us about her amazing grandmother, who was in the process of writing a novel. Well, this week, her grandma’s dream became a reality! Check out Didi’s post, Doris’s book, and share away! I’m definitely buying it in the near future.

Congratulations, Doris!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Didi Oviatt

My Grandma published her western romance novel today! I couldn’t be any more thrilled! Not only to have a grandma of my very own, that’s a writer like me, but to have her step up and publish her work, is absolutely amazing! I’ve mentioned her project before, even wrote a bit ofdescription andreview as she pushed through the process of it all. Writing a novel is no small task, and she’s been working on it for quite some time. As a long time poet, she’s had the itch to write for years, and I am so proud of her. The book is a delight! The characters are phenomenal! Even in her 80s, my Grandma is a confident, beautiful, and extremely talented woman! SO GO READ THIS BOOK!

DESCRIPTION:

Terry is an independent woman who stems from a prominent family that founded Paradise. She’s humble yet fierce, and she…

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Awesome Authors #19: Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I hadn’t thought about Lois Duncan in years!


Born in April 1934, she was the oldest child of professional magazine photographers. Raised in Pennsylvania at first, her family relocated to Florida, where her parents became circus photographers. She played in the woods and read. Duncan started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age 10. She sold her first story at age 13. After graduating from high school in 1952, she enrolled in Duke University. However, she dropped out the following year to start a family with the man who became her first husband, Joseph Cardozo.

Her writing career continued throughout the 1950s, publishing over 300 articles for various magazines. Her first novel, Love Song for Joyce, was published in 1958. In the early 1970s, she was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, after living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years. While teaching, she enrolled in classes at the university. She earned her B.A. in English in 1977.

Married twice, Duncan had five children. Her youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, was murdered in 1989. After her daughter’s death, Duncan’s writing shifted to lighter fare, particularly children’s picture books.

Her 1966 novel, Ransom, received an Edgar Allen Poe Award. She was the recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1992. In 2014, she was awarded the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Duncan died on June 15, 2016. She was 82. Although the cause of death was not disclosed, her second husband, Donald Arquette, noted his wife had suffered several strokes in prior years.


Killing Mr. Griffin (1978)

Book cover with a black-and-white marble pattern, showing the title of the novel centered in red, and blue skull and bones at the bottom right

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure this is first book of Duncan’s I read. Every book written by her, I borrowed from Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake.

Summer of Fear (1976)

Summer of Fear 1st edition.png

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

The Third Eye (1984)

The Third Eye (novel).jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This one absolutely freaked me out. I don’t think I picked up another book by Duncan for at least six months after this.

Don’t Look Behind You (1990)

Don't Look Behind You.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I want to. It’s set in Virginia!

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973)

I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summer-Book-Cover.png

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t make the connection between the book and the film adaptation (1997) until years later.

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer (1992)

Chapters My Growth as a Writer.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always been interested and intrigued by authors and their memoirs or autobiographies.

Who Killed My Daughter? (1992)

Who Killed My Daughter.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Being such a fan of true crime, this book is already climbing toward the top of my next TBR list.


What about you? Have you read any of Lois Duncan’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂