I’m thrilled to feature other authors and their novels on my Standout Stories blog. But today, please allow me the indulgence of sharing my own.
Two months ago, I re-launched All That Is Hidden with a fresh cover and revised content—new and improved!
It’s still the same compelling story, but now it has the benefit of all I’ve learned about writing and editing over the past few years. Consider it a renovation–actually a downsizing. The book is much SHORTER and therefore stronger with better pacing.
Re-imagining the American Dream
Entrepreneur blood runs in my family. Sons of immigrant farmers, my grandfather and his brother went from rags to riches in the automobile business in the 1920s, creating a prosperous family legacy.
In contrast, I harbored a muse. I had a story in me, but didn’t know which one.
Nevertheless, I went practical and chose an education major. As a teacher-in-training, I had goals, schedules, lesson plans, objectives, and deadlines. With the ambition of my ancestors, I pulled all-nighters writing papers and studying for exams.
Armed with innovative lesson plans and newfound skills, I planned to build a career out of shaping the next generation–future builders, engineers, and entrepreneurs, the shakers and movers. America, Land of Opportunity, where people chased the American Dream. Like my grandpa did.
One of my goals was a cross-cultural experience: a month in Madison County, North Carolina near the Smoky Mountains to teach in the mountain schools with fellow education students.
Turns out I was the one with lessons to learn.
Enter Mr. Woody. He lived forty percent of his life covered in sawdust. He spent half the week in the forest seeking the right wood–the way his family did for generations. His chairs were so solid he could balance each on one leg with all of his weight on it. No doubt he could make a fortune with his chair-building skills.
Yet he couldn’t tell you how long it took to make one. Or five. Or ten.
Meet the blacksmith who never advertised. Though he was booked solid with orders, he took his time with twenty-two college kids. He demonstrated how to forge a fanciful leaf from a hunk of iron, then preached a sermon from Revelation 2 about how the attributes of iron compared to Christ and the rod of iron He’d use to rule His future kingdom.
Though blacksmithing provided a livelihood, his lifeblood wasn’t from any exchange of money. It came from the instruments of his trade, and the personal exchanges between him and anybody who entered his shop.
To put it in mountain terms,
Mr. Woody and the blacksmith cared no more for money than a crow cares for a holiday.
Along came another piece of serendipity: being mesmerized by the college’s resident storyteller and folklorist, Richard Chase.
Most evenings, we were held captive by his lively renditions of “Jack and the Northwest Wind” and “Sody Sallyraytus.” This bearded, white-haired man spun his yarns with bewitching blue eyes, dramatic tones, and perfect timing.
He thrust us into a time when oral tradition was valued, when it was the only way stories were passed down through the generations, whether it was about frugal Great-grandma, eccentric Uncle Billy, or flighty third cousin Ruby Mae.
We students also learned mountain clogging, loitered at the general store playing checkers, and hiked the Appalachian trail.
Above all, we discovered that people there created meaningful lives by a route
much different than those seeking the prosperity of the American Dream.
Even with humble surroundings, meager possessions, and simple goals, these folks enjoyed rich lives without money–no fancy homes, expensive cars, or Caribbean cruises. But they were wealthy with things they could never lose: a richness in spirit, a deep contentment, a joy in daily life, work, and family.
I found a story I was meant to write. My muse rejoiced.
Back at college, I wrote a fictional short story based on my southern Appalachian experience and submitted it to a contest. It won first place.
I tucked the tale away but it wouldn’t rest in peace. Memories of the people and their Appalachian hills beckoned me to revisit their towns and hollows, daring me to dig deeper into their lives. Years later, I resurrected the story.
Questions probed. How would a clash of traditional values and progressive ideas impact a small town? Did living in two worlds always result in belonging to neither? What if two worlds collided? The one I was from and the one I’d discovered.
I embarked on a novel, fueled the way Mr. Woody was impassioned by his chairs and the blacksmith by his forge.
Perhaps even fueled the way my grandfather was by his business.
After years of researching, writing, and obtaining critiques (in my spare time between work and parenting), All That Is Hidden was born. I consider it my fifth child. And it’s a small way I can repay the folks of Appalachia for what they gave to me.
Back Cover Copy:
Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep? Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way.
She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for romping, a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Nothing ever changed.
Until the summer of 1968. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town. Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father.
A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.
Strategically placed in each section is a family story told by one of my characters, stories that embody and accentuate each part of the plot.
That’s my nod to Richard Chase.
That’s my effort to recapture the stirring moments
when he placed a group of college students
under his magical storytelling spell.
NOTE: If you purchase All That Is Hidden, make sure the web page displays the updated cover (with the girl on the front). Don’t buy it used or you’ll get the old version.
- Learn more about All That Is Hidden, read endorsements, watch the book trailer, or purchase here on my book page.
- If you’re willing to join my launch team and post a review, sign in here for more information — no obligation: www.all-that-is-hidden-relaunch.com
Posting a review on Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads would be a great help to me. You can post reviews here:
Also check these out:
- November 18, 2021: Here’s my post on Jennifer Heeren’s Truth in Fiction blog: Re-imagining the American Dream.
- January 9, 2022: My book is featured on Christina Sinisi’s blog
- January 13, 2022: My character Jennie Hamilton (Tina’s mom) is interviewed on Novel PASTimes
- January 27, 2022: My book is featured on Linda Shenton Matchett’s Thursday Talkshow blog
- All That Is Hidden makes a great book group discussion! Go here for questions and more info.
- See more story inspiration through pictures from my 1978 visit to Madison County, North Carolina.
- Would you please like my Facebook Author page?
- Books make great gifts! You can purchase All That Is Hidden here.
Join me next time for another visit with Pepper Basham. In the meantime, what have you been reading lately? Share in the comments.