Sometimes you need to get away where no one knows your name. Where there is no one around except for the amazing guy who owns the place, and his amazing cat Dorie (and this time a family of feral kitties). A place where nature abounds, if that is your thing, for the beauties of The Cumberland Gap are just a few miles down the road. Or, if you are more of a homebody like myself, the magnificence of an old orchard surrounds you and a little piece of land with an abode to shelter you from the elements called #TheOrchardKeeper will welcome you in with all the coziness of home, without the chaos. 

This marks my third visit to the Orchard Keeper Residency for Writers. The first time was last year, and the end product was my 2019 book Blue Ridge Christmas. My second visit led to the initial work on a project that I’m not sure will ever see the light of day, Chasing After Rainbows, the book about our amazing UK and European excursion in 2013; I keep hoping that I will get back to it eventually. 

The current trip has been spent working on a follow-up project to my recent Picture Book Magic class with George Ella Lyon, and I have written five chapters/stories for a children’s chapter book that I am trying to work on. I’m not exactly sure where it will lead, but it has been interesting reliving the trauma and tribulations of elementary school this week. It will likely be quite a while before any of it is reading-ready, as I’d like to finish what might make up the whole book, and shop it around for an agent and publisher before getting many eyes on it. What I can tell you for now is that the little girl’s name is Chrissy and I’m currently calling it The Chrissy Chronicles. But any of this is likely to change at the drop of a hat, so don’t hold me to it for the long term.  It has also reminded me of a lot of the horror and humor of elementary school; they travel largely hand-in-hand, I believe. Oh, for the record, Chrissy, in her current capacity, is in third grade. Again, this could change, if necessary.

Many thanks, as always, to Denton Loving, the man who makes this place possible. I never get tired of coming here. I think that I especially needed the break from things to reset myself this time after losing Ebony recently, and also finishing the two classes I took in September. So much was going on, and then, suddenly nothing. Just having the ability to come here and write, read some excellent literature, and be at peace with myself with no wifi, television, or other interruptions for a week has meant so much to me. You can keep up with Denton, also an amazing poet and writer himself, through his blog,  

Orchard Keepers
Mushroom cluster