Sunday Stories: A Literary Geek, Part One

A Literary Geek, Part One

It’s a drizzly Saturday afternoon as I write this. I sit on the second floor of one of my favorite bookstores—The Book Loft in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. This is the bookstore with a ghost named Katherine, whom I’ve personally encountered, but that’s another story for another time.

Anyway, I came here for the Amelia Island Book Festival, but more specifically, to meet one of my favorite authors whose book I have taught for fifteen years. If you’ve been around me for more than five minutes, you probably know I’m talking about Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle.

Because of the remoteness of the location, providing transfers and meals grew complicated. The owner became less and less cooperative and downright condescending.

After feeling discouraged for a day or so, I let go of the trip and felt immediate relief. A few days later, I contacted our fantastic travel agent, and she and I are now creating an even better Costa Rica writing retreat for March 2024.

Letting go is usually not my first response. I often have to be bludgeoned into it, but crying uncle with no cuts or bruises feels good when I do it. It frees me and allows me to see new possibilities.

Some people geek out about movie stars or athletes or new tech gadgets. Not me. I geek out about authors and books. I love to hear writers speak and gain a bit of insight into their writing process and work. Then, I enjoy having them sign my dog-eared, underlined, written-in books I consider old friends.

I have three books for Jeannette Walls to sign—my loved-on paperback of The Glass Castle and a pristine first-edition hardback a friend gave me as a gift. The third one I’ll ask her to sign is Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel. A true-life novel? That’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

Walls called the book a true-life novel because it depicts the life of Lily Casey Smith, her maternal grandmother, and she wrote it as a first-person account in the voice of Smith. She says she labeled it as such because she wrote it mainly based on her mother’s stories. Lily Casey Smith died when Walls was only eight years old. Walls verified what she could but had to rely mostly on her mother’s recounting.

I listened to an interview on a Simon and Schuster program, Off the Shelf, where Walls talked about Half Broke Horses and why she labeled it as she did. It’s well worth fifteen minutes of your time. Let me know what you take away from the interview.

Plus, who or what do you geek out about?

Stay tuned because I’ll tell you about meeting my literary hero next Sunday.

Remember always: The only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all!

Until next time, happy writing!


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