Take my hand and let’s go back into in southern West Virginia’s history; we’ll walk with Henry Lake, grandson of slaves, as he quenches his thirst for learning and becomes “somebody.” It was my great pleasure to piece together the life of a man who lived a bit before our time (I was 4 years old when he died) just around the mountain from us on Peters Mountain near Lindside, West Virginia. Henry Lake Dickason’s life, from a rough cabin to the President’s mansion at two colleges, was one of success in spite of the obstacles placed in his path by society. I was driven to tell his story, mostly because it was inspirational and partly because his story is not well-known even in his hometown. A reader commented recently that as she read Try and Be Somebody, she began turning each page gently, as though it was sacred. That’s the way I felt as I wrote.
Forget any notion you might have that mountain women are simple-minded, clingy, or wishy-washy. Stella’s stories prove all of these stereotypes wrong. Now the stories of Stella and her man, Jonas, have been mostly told, at least enough to fill a series of three books. (I am pretty proud of that!)
In the first book, Drunk on Peace and Quiet, Stella’s life unfolds, including her rotten brother, Timmy Lee. The old folks would surely say he is the “bane of her existence.” Jonas, then her boyfriend, also comes to life, along with the Inupiaq culture from his home in Alaska. The title sums up all Stella ever wants, that giddy feeling when everything is going along smooth-like.
The second book, Hungover with Grandma, tells about Stella and Jonas getting hitched and traveling to Alaska for a wild honeymoon where Stella and Jonas’ family get to lay eyes on one another. Eventually, Timmy Lee gets to meet Stella’s mother-in-law, too.
In Pick Your Poison, the final book (so far), Stella fights the devil pipeline company and goes on her first vacation with her husband. Timmy Lee, bad penny that he is, turns up throughout all the books and his karma is not good. But, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I have been asked if Stella is real and I always answer, “Of course not!” She does have little bits of the personalities of people I have known and admired, people close to the land who think about things and are determined to handle their own problems head-on. They know who they are, right and wrong in their minds are black and white, and they know how to keep their mouths shut, remarkable qualities in our ever-changing world. I thought I was writing books to entertain and help readers escape but I ended up just sharing parts of real life in my mountains. Maybe that’s an escape for some of y’all. I hope so. If you have a question or a comment, holler at me in these electronic comments anytime.
And now, check out my blog for more information and updates.
Bluefield State College Founders Day Celebration Such a beautiful day on Friday, both outside and inside the BSC Student Union. It was an honor to take part in the Founders Day program and heart-warming to meet those who had known Dr. Dickason. We sold several copies...read more
“A remarkable book about a remarkable man.” -James Leedy, Archivist, Bluefield State Collegeread more
Thirty copies of a galley proof of "Try and Be Somebody" (a biography of Dr. Henry Lake Dickason) arrived last Thursday and have been distributed for review and corrections. To say I am excited is an understatement! When I get calmed down, I'll post a photo of the...read more
The shipping notice was sent yesterday that the proofs of Dr. Dickason's biography are on the way! It feels almost like two years of pregnancy and the baby is finally coming... Will update and post a photo when they arrive!read more
We live near an old slave cemetery high on Peters Mountain that needed tending. During the Boy Scout Jamboree, there were inquires for work days for the thousands of troops visiting north of here. We applied, troops from middle Tennessee cam to work in the summer...read more
In the last two weeks or so there have been over 25 lambs (I've lost count) born out in our red barn. Some have died in their first hours and some have been rejected and became bottle babies but far more have survived and are darling. We have learned that a healthy...read more
Good news! Hung Over with Grandma has been named a finalist in this year's Indie Awards! It was honored in the Multicultural category. The winners will be announced mid-May. Knowing that my story got the attention of such a prestigious group is very rewarding....read more
This past weekend, a wild, unpredictable storm hit the northeast. Sporadic rain, sleet, snow, and high winds pounded this end of the country followed by low, low temperatures. Weather predictors had trouble pin-pointing snow accumulations or exact locations but they...read more
I'm sad to report that our pet alpaca passed away last week. The dreaded worm that attacks the nervous system, for which there is no cure, stuck our farm again. Meningeal worms are spread by deer. The deer aren't harmed, they just carry the worms who leave the deer...read more
For four months, we were daily companions, practicing about two hours every weekday. The Peterstown Lady Pirates were an agreeable group of girls this season, few in number but big in heart. When they ordered sweatshirts with "5 players, 1 heartbeat", I didn't know...read more