Chrissie anderson peters

Appalachian author of Dog Days and Dragonflies,
Running From Crazy,
 and Blue Ridge Christmas 

CAP Headshot
horses and fence

My Story

 I was born on an August summer day in Marion, Virginia. My Mom called me “Chrissy.” (I would change the spelling to C-h-r-i-s-s-i-e in 8th grade, when all of my friends were changing their y’s to i’s, but there was already a Chrissi, so I became “Chrissie” with an i-e.)  

I spent nearly every day of my pre-Kindergarten life with Mamaw and Papaw Little in Tazewell, Virginia, and Granny and Granddaddy Vance on their farm in Baptist Valley. As a small child, Granddaddy Vance encouraged me to write out my grocery lists for him to take to the grocery store each Friday when he went to the Farm Bureau, where he did almost all of his trading. I didn’t know how to write words yet, so I scribbled out lines representing what I wanted. I still remember him holding the paper outing, as though he had trouble focusing on the words, calling out each item to me, to make sure that he had the list correct.

Looking back at those moments as an adult, I realize what a gift that was, making me feel so grown-up, but also, how he taught me the monumental importance of letters and writing at such a young age. I never forgotten that gift.

I was in fourth grade when I started writing. I don’t know why I started, just that I did. Poetry. Not very good poetry, either. But I had an incredibly supportive and encouraging 4th grade teacher, Ms. Helen Bourne, who told me that it was wonderful, and that I should keep it up! Not only did she tell me that, but she made sure that I did it, asking me nearly every day what I had written, so I just thought that I was supposed to write new poems every day. And, as time went on, I got better at it.

That same year, I wrote my first song, called, “Love’s What Makes the World Go ‘Round,” and I sang it in the 4-H Talent Show at school, and dedicated it to Harold Sparks. I was so proud; he was so mortified. I got a blue ribbon certificate for my efforts, but Sean Blackwell blew the crowd away with his live guitar solo. As he deserved to.

The next school year, I had a teacher who worked even more closely with me on my writing, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs Betty Yates. You can read a story about her in my first book, Dog Days and Dragonflies. Unbeknownst to me until I reached 9th grade, she was taking my writing in 5th grade to high school teachers to ask how to encourage and keep me on-task and motivated. It has been said that it takes a whole village to raise a child. I could not have been more fortunate that my village was made up of the fine staff of teachers at North Tazewell Elementary School, especially Ms. Bourne, Mrs. Yates, Ms. Patsy Nelson, Mrs. Wanda French, and Mr. Tom George, who looked out for me and my artistic and educational needs in ways that my family didn’t always know how to.

Mrs. Susan Whittaker and Mrs Carol Hartat at Tazewell High School dedicated many hours to helping me find financial aid opportunities and meet all my college application deadlines. I attended Emory & Henry College and double majored in English and Secondary Education with the goal of honoring the teachers from my earlier years by entering the profession myself. Instead, I channelled my education and intentions into becoming a children’s and reference librarian. I received my Masters of Science in Information Sciences from UT Knoxville.

During my career as a librarian, I returned to creative writing on a regular basis and studied with Mrs. Gretchen McCroskey, who took me under her wing and mentored me in both writing and Appalachian Studies. Gretchen introduced me to the Appalachian Writers Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky, and Lincoln Memorial University’s Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. I found my footing as a creative writer with a supportive community through these workshops that I continue to attend.

 

In 2012, I realized that after having submitted work consistently to contests and publications around the region,   I had enough material to create a self-published collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I intended to call my first collection So Far, because it was what I had written so far in life. My friend and fellow writer Denton Loving, however, encouraged me to dig deeper within the collection to find a title from within, assuring me that So Far was really quite terrible. (A conversation with Margaret Atwood in September 2013 showed that she felt the same way when she told me that I should thank God every day of my life for a good friend like Denton who was willing to tell me the truth about that title!) In sharing some of the works’ titles with Denton, I mentioned Dog Days and Dragonflies, a poem in the collection. Denton grinned broadly and said, “There’s your title!”

The next year, I decided to tackle the issues of mental illness in society broadly, and more specifically within my family. The result was a collection of prose and poetry released in October of 2013 entitled Running From Crazy.  Should you ever decide to write along the lines of this topic about your own family, just realize ahead of time, that most families don’t like their family history shared publicly. My mother used to go with me on occasion when I attended events to sell my books, and if people picked up Running From Crazy, or asked about it, she would tell them, “Don’t buy that one! It’s just a pack of lies, just a pack of lies!” Which actually made people more curious and probably helped me sell a lot more copies than I would have without her being there with me.

In 2019, I went to a writer’s residency called The Orchard Keepers that my dear friend Denton runs as a space of solace and solitude to work on projects. I went with one project in mind, but left with the biggest part of a collection of Christmas and holiday stories completed. With the help and encouragement of my multiple-hat-wearing friend Matthew Kingesly (stretching back to my college days), the title for this collection became Blue Ridge Christmas.

 Currently, I am working on a couple of projects actively including a travel book about a 28-day holiday in the UK and Europe during the year I left my job as a librarian and learned to live to write. The working title is Chasing After Rainbows, a line from a Duran Duran Song (“The Seventh Stranger”), as the entire trip was built around a book signing at the Edinburgh Book Festival in Scotland, where Duran Duran bassist, John Taylor, read from his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Appalachian Authors Guild’s Local Chapter Fiction Contest for The Golden Nib Award. 2nd Place.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” 2020.

Chautauqua Festival’s High School Poetry Contest. 1st Place Tie.

“Priest of Nothing.” 1989.

Grace Writers’ Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize. Honorable Mention.

“Drawers.” 2020.

Green River Writers’ Sometimes You Can’t Be Saved From Yourself Contest. 3rd Honorable Mention.

“Please Don’t Make Me Color.” 2012.

Johnson City, Tennessee, 150 Poetry Contest. 3rd Place.

“The Price of Freedom Is Visible Here.”

Mountain Heritage Literary Festival’s Emma Bell Miles Prize for Essay. 3rd Place.

“Buddy.” 2019.

Mountain Heritage Literary Festival’s Emma Bell Miles Prize for Essay. 3rd Place.

“Call It Paradise.” 2013.

Mountain Heritage Literary Festival’s Jesse Stuart Prize in Young Adult Fiction. 2nd Place.

“Throwing Shade.” 2018.

Mountain Heritage Literary Festival’s Jesse Stuart Prize in Young Adult Fiction. 2nd Place.

“The ‘ME’ in Team.” 2013.

Northeast State Community College’s Echoes & Images Fiction Contest. 3rd Place.

“Retail Hell.” 2010.

Northeast State Community College’s Echoes & Images Fiction Contest. 2nd Place.

“Something Stupid.” 2009.

Northeast State Community College’s Echoes & Images Nonfiction Contest. 2nd Place.

“Mrs. Betty Jo Yates.” 2010.

Northeast State Community College’s Echoes & Images Nonfiction Contest. 2nd Place.

“The Funeral.” 2009.

Northeast State Community College’s Echoes & Images Poetry Contest. 3rd Place.

“A Day With Granny.” 2010

Poetry Society of Virginia’s Come Out Swinging Lyrics Contest. 3rd Honorable Mention.

“Lifetime.” 2013.

Poetry Society of Virginia’s Prose Essay Appreciation of Poetry Contest. 1st Place.

“Heart of the Matter: A Difference Maker in My Life.” 2013.

Poetry Society of Virginia’s Joe Pendleton Campbell Memorial Contest. 3rd Honorable Mention.

 “Crazy.” 2012

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Children’s Literature Contest. 2nd Place.

“Rainy Day with Grandma.” 2020.

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Children’s Literature Contest. 2nd Place.

“When Wishing Still Worked: A Fairy Tale.” 2020.

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Excellence in Writing Award. 1st Place.

“Buddy.” 2019

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Joy Margrave Nonfiction Award. 1st Place.

“Elkmont Fireflies.” 2019.

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Joy Margrave Nonfiction Award. 1st Place.

“I Changed My Mind.” 2013.

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Joy Margrave Nonfiction Award. 2nd Place.

“Learning to Drive.” 2011.

Tennessee Mountain Writer, Inc.’s Science Fiction/Fantasy Contest. Honorable Mention.

“Cades Cove Conversations.” 2020.

Watauga Chapter of the League of National Pen Women Contest. 2nd Place.

“Corey’s Quarry.” 2011.

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