Friday, December 23, 2016

In my past life ...

When I lived in Hollywood, my long relationship with Elvira began when I was hired to be her photo double in her first film. Working on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark changed my life. Click here for a little video that previews interviews for the upcoming Blu-ray version of the DVD.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Saluting a writingy town in the writingest state

Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, September 15, 2016

I didn't start writing until I was 49. Two years later I moved back to North Carolina after living 27 years in California, not even realizing I had chosen to reside in the writingest state.

While in Tryon, I immersed myself in writeriness, embracing my writerhood, and was happily amazed that Tryon embraced it as well.

I knew very little about Tryon when I moved there, but I quickly learned that it wraps its arms around the arts in a big way.

I knew I had a lot to learn about writing and the world around it, so the first thing I did was join the North Carolina Writers Network and attend one of their fall conferences. I signed up for workshops and watched panel discussions and met writers and editors I'm still friends with today. Let's face it, I could sit and talk to writers about writing all day long. In fact, I used to do just that at Openroad whenever I could.

After I moved to Phoenix, I started looking for groups to join. I found a great workshop I wanted to take at a conference, but when I went to register online for the class, I learned it was for women writers in Arizona who are Mormon. Um ... back to Google for me. I am trying, honestly.

I did join the Phoenix Writers Club, and just entered one of their writing contests. I also received an invitation to join a neighborhood book club through a friend of a Facebook friend, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of book-loving women. (Now I can stop bugging Mary Ann Claud by emailing and asking what our Tryon book club is reading these days--other than her wonderful books, naturally.)

Of course, I'll continue my quest for ultimate writerization here in Arizona, but I have no doubt I'll always keep a corner of my keyboard in Tryon's literary affairs.

Technically, I suppose I'm no longer on the steering committee of Tryon Writers, but I still watch their Facebook feed with great interest, and I occasionally add to it.

Imagine my delight when I saw today there will be a Mystery Day at Lanier Library on October 15! This caused me to jump up from my desk and do the traditional writers' workshop celebration dance, finally feeling the anticipation every female Mormon writer in Arizona knows.

Yes, that's right, Mystery Day will include a mystery writing workshop! North Carolina author Mark de Castrique will be teaching the workshop for writers of all levels with a focus on "character, setting, theme and plot." Mark is the author of 16 mystery novels, 11 of which are set in Asheville or a fictional North Carolina mountain town. Who knows, you just might make an impression on him and find yourself murdered in his next book!

I didn't think anything could make me love Lanier Library more, but I was wrong. Mystery Day, people!

There is a limit to the number of writers who can take the class, though, so grab your seat while you can.

If you just can't wait until October 15 to get your fill of literary fun, I have another idea for you. Mark your calendars for October 6 at 4 p.m. That's when North Carolina author Danny Johnson will be stopping by The Book Shelf for a reading and signing of his debut novel, The Last Road Home. One renowned author called it "gripping, beautifully written, and satisfying." Actually that was me, but he's also gotten amazing reviews from real superstar North Carolina authors as well as his quickly amassing following of devoted readers. (Note to self: email Mary Ann with this book club rec.)

In full disclosure, I must tell you that Danny Johnson is one of the writers I met at the North Carolina Writers Network conference way back when I was a new writer and a renewed North Carolinian. I'm so proud of his book, set on a North Carolina tobacco farm in the 60s.

I've promised Danny that Tryon loves writers and good books, and that people will come to his Book Shelf signing in droves, so don't make me look bad. I'm hoping he'll be so happy with the turnout that he'll write me into his next novel. I'll be the smart sultry white-haired, yet still youngish, tobacco farmer that saves the town and possibly the world. Sounds like a bestseller to me.

I also see on Facebook that Tryon now has one of those mini free lending libraries. So if October is a month you don't have money to spare for writing workshops or books, look no further than St. Luke's Plaza. Take a book and leave one for the next person. (But make sure you're supporting Tryon's bookshops when you can!)

The Facebook photo of our new Little Free Library (Yes, it's a thing. Look it up!) showed a cute little pot belly stove full of books, just waiting for eager readers to plunder it. Tryon mystery writer extraordinaire Mark Schweitzer built the structure with the same talented hands that penned his super popular liturgical mystery series. (Hey, Mark: The Columnist Wore Culottes. Now get to work!)

If it sounds like I'm just sitting here in Phoenix, crying over my laptop while I scroll through Tryon Facebook pages, well ... okay, I kind of am. Don't feel bad for me though! Get out there and enjoy Tryon. Read and write and explore. You live in a writey spot. Enjoy it.

Click here to buy this book!

Click here to buy this book!


Click here to buy this book!
Click here to buy this book!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Trying and failing to own my new home

Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, September 1, 2016

It's been over a year now since I moved from my fairytale life in Tryon to Phoenix. I wish I could say I love it here. It's not that I don't like the city or my life; I just don't own it.

I have Facebook friends from all over the world. If I want to know something about New York, I ask a New Yorker. Curious about Oslo? Ask my Norwegian friend. But if you want to know about Phoenix, don't ask me. It's not mine.

When I babysat for my nephew once when he was a toddler, he sobbed when I dropped him off at home. We'd had such a fun day together, when I put him in his father's arms and walked away, he cried out, "Don't leave me here! This is not my building!"

Of course it was his home, but that feeling--that he wished to be somewhere else--was so heartfelt, adorable, and funny, even. Like many phrases and words children in my family have coined, "It's not my building" came to be part of our language.

And I'm here to tell you: This is not my building.

Making new friends in Tryon was effortless. When I moved from California to Tryon, I told my mother I was sad to leave all my L.A. friends behind, and she said, "You'll make new friends." I almost laughed. After living in L.A. and collecting friends for 27 years, I just couldn't imagine how I'd make new ones so easily anywhere else.

But they don't call Tryon the friendliest town in the South for nothing. In my first week there, I'd walk into a shop or restaurant and get asked, "Who are you? Where do you live? When did you get here?" I go into a store here in Phoenix and get bupkis. I could volunteer personal information to the cashier or salesperson, but somehow I don't think I'd get the same result I got in Tryon.

I know I do need to make more of an effort to meet people here, but it's hard to go out when it's 800 degrees every day. By the time I dash to my car in the driveway, I'm drenched in sweat, and no longer desirable as anyone's new chum. And I don't even want to think what a haboob could do to my hair.

I live beside a beautiful park, but can't walk my dogs because their paws would melt. I tried walking them in the early part of the morning when it's only 102 outside, but I nearly passed out from the exertion. When I let my Chihuahuas out into the back yard to do their business, I have to carry them like footballs as I dash from one shady corner of the yard to another.

I joined Nextdoor, a phone app that connects neighbors to each other, and while it has been helpful in getting information, it's just not as fun as drinking wine on the front porch at our house in Tryon, which was a sure way to meet the neighbors there.

I sit in my air conditioned home here and read on Nextdoor about stolen bicycles, burglaries, shady characters spotted on the street, and think maybe it's best to just stay inside anyway. I'd forgotten about big city crime after living in a safe small town for four years. It's enough to make a person paranoid. Or at least more homesick.

I posted a question on Nextdoor, asking if people here recommended buying generators for their homes. We've lost power 5 times in a year, always on a day with record-breaking highs, and of course, when Paul's out of town and all I can do is sit in the dark hot house and hope the dogs and I don't spontaneously combust.

One nice lady sent me her phone number, probably sensing I was pitifully lonely. I promised to call her, and maybe we could take a walk in the park together. In October.

I'll stop complaining now. After all, I am fortunate to get to live in my nice little Phoenix house with corners of shade in the yard. We have pretty potted plants on the patio we only have to water twice a day, and a couple of them are still alive.

Paul loves his job here, and I get to write as much as I want. And thank goodness for Facebook and email and FaceTime. I can keep up with my favorite town and all the friends it was so easy to make there and so hard to leave behind.

So think of me when your weather turns cool, and you greet friends as you stroll down Trade Street. On Fridays, tell everyone in Shelly's I miss them. Order the strawberry cake at Nana's that used to have my name on it. Take your dogs to Harmon Field and smell the green grass, listen to the babbling creek, watch the kids play worry-free.

I'll be back for a visit soon, eager and ready for my Tryon fix.
Colorful pots and whimsical garden art can turn any house into a home.


Monday, July 25, 2016

The Complete Tryon Diary is now art!

I'm so proud to see the cover of The Complete Tryon Diary displayed on Rudy the well-read horse.

Here's the story from Tryon Writers Facebook page:

Tryon Writers thanks artist Kim Attwooll for honoring local writers!

Kim is one of 12 artists chosen through the Asheville Art Museum to decorate one of the fiberglass horses in The Art of the Horse, a 16-month community arts project and fundraiser orchestrated by Our Carolina Foothills, a local nonprofit organized to educate the public on our small towns.

Kim chose to honor the area's literary history by covering her horse Rudy with book covers of local writers.

When asked what the authors' response has been, Kim answered with tongue firmly in cheek, "It's been wonderful except for one author who cryptically commented on the placement of his book. Another author was cornered by a perfect stranger and asked about a rewrite. He assumes it is because of the horse."

Rudy the well-read horse is currently on display in front of the Landrum Library, and will be auctioned off August 19, along with the other horses in the project. All 15 horses will be on display for a week beginning August 13 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The artists will receive 25 percent of the proceeds, with the remainder of the funds going to Our Carolina Foothills to further promote the area.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Feeling the comfort of the town I love

(Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, July 6, 2016)

I was in Tryon in June for an unexpected visit. As you may recall, my mother had been living in Tryon for the past year or so, and on this very tough visit, I had to say goodbye.

I had aspirations of writing this column as a tribute to her interesting life, but as I sit here at my computer, it is still too hard to talk about the loss.

What I can talk about though is how it felt to be in the embrace of my beloved town at such a difficult time.

In looking for the positives of such a negative event, I found spending time with friends and family especially comforting on this trip home.

I made the slightly odd decision to attend the opening reception of Tryon Painters and Sculptors' Landscape show on the evening after my mother's death. It's not odd, of course, to want to see the show, but it certainly felt strange to plan a social outing on that particular night. As it turned out, it was just what I needed--two solid hours of putting on a happy face after weeks of only angst and grief.

My brother Corey, an artist in Asheville, had recently joined Tryon Painters and Sculptors, and had his first piece in the show, which is why we'd decided to attend the reception in spite of the unusual timing.

I had been bragging about the group to Corey for some time--about my sitting for their Wednesday night head study class, about their recent move to the stunning new gallery on Trade Street, and about the talented members who are also my friends.

At the reception, Christine Mariotti, Tryon Painters and Sculptors' current president, swept into the room a little bit late after a long hot day of volunteering at the Barbeque Festival. Christine is a fine example of the kind of people here that I love. She is talented, interesting, kind, and generous, with a devotion to community.

I introduced Christine to Corey, his wife, Jill, and their six-year-old son, Mason, and Christine immediately asked Mason if he would do the honor of drawing the winning name in the evening's raffle of a painting.

Christine also spoke to Mason about his own art, and I have to insert here as a side note that two weeks later, Mason became the youngest artist to sell a painting at Asheville's Art in the Park after negotiating a corner of his dad's booth with the show's coordinator.  I'd like to think his confidence was buoyed by his treatment at the Tryon Painters and Sculptors' reception.

The landscapes in the room at Tryon Painters and Sculptors were as varied as the people who created them. If you haven't seen the show, please get by there before it closes on July 23. I especially loved Christine's painting, a bright and colorful abstract, and a departure from her usual work.

We all voted on our favorite piece in the show by secret ballot, and I'm proud to say Corey's "Blue Forest" won the People's Choice award. What a welcome to the group!

I was happy Corey had such a successful first show with Tryon Painters and Sculptors and proud that Mason was treated as a special guest, but what I appreciated the most were the smiles and hugs from friends and acquaintances on a day I needed them the most.

Losing a loved one--in my case, my mother--is one of the hardest things we have to endure as humans, but a part of life we all have to experience. There isn't a right or a wrong way to get through such a thing, I suppose. But since it was something I had to go through, I'm at least glad I was able to do it in my favorite place.

Thanks, Tryon, for holding my hand. I'll see you again soon.
Corey and Mason McNabb with "Blue Forest"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Catching a surprise glimpse of my favorite town

(Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, February 11, 2016)

I popped in and out of Tryon like Agnes Moorehead in a Bewitched episode. At least that's how it felt. An unexpected family medical situation had me on a plane from Phoenix to Asheville faster than you can say "frequent flyer miles."

I'm happy to report that the patient (my mother) is doing well (thank you, Mission Hospital) ), and likely sitting at home reading this just as you are.

It was important to be with family during this brief visit, but the bonus of my trip was spending a few unplanned days in Tryon. It has been six months to the day since Paul and I left Tryon to move to Arizona for his new job, and we have missed it every day.

First of all, thank you so much to the friends I was able to see while I was in town, even if briefly. I dined with some--hitting Lavender Bistro, Huckleberry's, 10 North Trade and Nana's in less than three days, but most encounters were on the street or in shops or at the Coffeehouse Co-op--quick hugs and hurried chats, and sometimes just a wave and a happy grin from a car. To those friends I didn't get to see or call or text, I am sorry, but please know you were on my mind many times, and I hope to catch up with you soon.

The town looked as quaint and beautiful as ever. I was sorry to see Skyuka Gallery gone and to hear of Cowan's Hardware's impending closing, but I perked up at the sight of freshly restored building fronts on Trade Street. Missildine's is coming right along and promises to be quite grand.

There were some heartbreaking tales of bad things that have happened to good people, but there were also many happy stories to hear--new jobs, new adventures, upcoming events.

I spotted my favorite 90-something hitchhiker at the Coffeehouse looking the picture of health. Some friends have been elected to positions in local government since I left, and others are running for office. I'm very excited that Tryon's own Andy Millard is running for Congress, and am confident he will make a great public servant.

I stopped in The Book Shelf--the only bookstore in the world that can call my book, The Complete Tryon Diary, a bestseller. (It's also the only bookstore that carries it. Ha!) I caught up with owner Penny Padgett, hopefully soon to be a Polk County Commissioner.

I heard about the recent and current kerfuffels between folks that should be able to get along but don't. That made me sad, but I did enjoy hearing the word kerfuffel used. Conflict is as inevitable as change, I suppose, but I will say that is something I don't miss about small-town life. Come on, kids, play nice.

I took a moment to drool over this year's hearts at the Have a HeArt show and fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Polk County and Landrum at Upstairs Artspace (final bids and reception on February 13, 4-7 p.m.). The artists out-do themselves every year.

I stopped into La Bouteille to pick up adult beverages on my way to meet friends at Huckleberry's. When I couldn't recall what one particular friend preferred to drink, I pondered what she'd want out loud and got the answer quickly from more than one person. I can promise you that wouldn't have happened in Phoenix.

My apologies to clay artist and instructor, Gary Huntoon, whose class I interrupted at Tryon Arts and Crafts School when I ran in to quickly say hi to my fellow potters and students. (No hugging though as they were covered in clay and I was already dressed for the plane ride back to Arizona.)

Breathing in the essence of Tryon in my whirlwind visit felt as therapeutic as spending weeks on a beach sipping tropical fruit drinks. I just love this town.

I'm telling you this not to impress you with how many friends I have or books I've sold or frequent flyer miles I'd accumulated (actually, I swiped them from my husband), but to remind you all to take a step back and see Tryon through my eyes again. It is special, and you are lucky to call it home.

Take care of it and of each other until I can get back again. I'm already looking forward to it.