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Fellow author Celia Miles and I have been colleagues in a writing group, The Plotters, for over five years, and we travel together for talks and book signings. It takes a special attitude and tolerance to travel well and happily with another person, as many of you know. It works for Celia and me.

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Celia Miles and Joan at a book signing

Celia is a native of this area and writes about Appalachia, as in her novel, Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood, a coming of age story set in the late 1940s, and in her two gentle romance novels A Thyme for Love and its sequel, Thyme Table Mill, set on an herb farm near Asheville, North Carolina. She also has written and published a collection of short stories On a Slant. I treasure Celia as my friend and for her kindness and generosity of spirit. And read about her novel Sarranda below and her latest 'stories and otherwise', Islands One and All.

Joan


Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham with Clothes Lines

Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham, co-editors and contributors, have just released a 241-page anthology entitled CLOTHES LINES from 75 western North Carolina women. From Birkenstock to bras, red shoes to polyester pink pants suits, prom dresses to funeral gowns, women as different as their garments reflect on their fascination with and feeling for the clothes they wear, remember, resist, and revere (or not). Available from catawbapublishing.com or from Celia Miles at celiamiles@fastmail.fm for $20.00 plus postage.


Memory and reality; fiction and reflection; journeys to faraway islands, journeys home...these stories and memoir-like pieces deal with contemporary issues but don't come up with solutions; they delve into the recent and remote past, into the function of memory and the nature of reality. From the Greek island of Patmos to southern small town Blaylock, from the Scottish peat bogs to funereal memory revived on Hard Hill Holler, whether reflecting on food, family, or fate, they embrace the idea that we are ultimately connected to the past and to each other but that ultimately we are islands one and all.

 

 


SarrandaWith unflinching honesty and a survivor’s grace and humor, Sarranda chronicles her life during the pre-and post-Civil War years in isolated western North Carolina’s Greene Valley. From childhood when her father leaves for the California gold fields through a youthful marriage and the turbulent losses the war brings, she finds solace in her grandfather’s love and at his grist mill and an unexpected awakening in the arms of an unnamed stranger. In a time disrupted, a family fragmented, and a land almost destroyed, Sarranda reveals the strength, endurance, and spirit of the mountain woman.

READERS' COMMENTS

Reading SARRANDA was a most enjoyable reading experience.... I did what I never do anymore in my surreal 21st Century existence. My eyes devoured every single word (no skimming!). I was amazed to discover about 9/10 of the way through that I was metaphorically licking the plate as if cheesecake had been on it. Next time you create a world and a character like Sarranda in hers, feel free to double the length of the reader’s pleasure!Your devoted fan and fellow mountain woman descendant,
Mona

...

I got your new novel, SARRANDA, over the holidays and read it in one night. I enjoyed it tremendously. All the characters are well-drawn, but Sarranda's character gripped my attention and emotions. Frankly, I couldn't put the book down until I finished it in the wee hours of the morning. I think this is your best book, and I hope you have great success with it.

...

I just want you to know how much I enjoyed SARRANDA. I have added Sarranda to my list of women I admire - Lydia McQueen, Ivy Rowe, Julie Harmon, Mary Seneca Steele (from Dot Jackson's REFUGE), and, of course, Jane Gentry. I cried when she left the valley but wished at the end that you would tell me more about what happened when she returned to the mountains. Will there be more?

A fan,
Betty Smith

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I have finished Sarranda. It really captured the essence of the people just as Mattie's Girl ... did. These could have been my people. I grew up in Burke County. My great great grandfathers served in the WAR. Grandpa Deitz was wounded three times, once at Gettysburg. These accounts are hard for me to read because of the difficulties and the terrible treatment of women. Even though I was born way after this time in 1939, I saw much evidence of mistreatment of women although not in my immediate family. In fact it has not left us yet. I don't know statistics in NC, but SC is one if not the highest in abuse of women. Even tho' hard for me to read, I think it is important to tell of those times and to tell it like it was. So many folks think of the South as a kind of fairy tale for Caucasians especially before the war.

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I had already read Thyme Table Mill. I gave both the Thyme books to Grammie Alexander and she died a year ago so I no longer owned them. I wish you would write a sequel to the Thyme novels.

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Cary Randall hopes to escape physically and recover emotionally from an unhappy relationship by finding serenity at ThymeTable Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. What she doesn’t need is a handsome herb farmer with troubles of his own or a young doctor in search of a wife. Spence isn’t looking for a poetry-quoting tenant as he struggles to keep his farm and his neighbors’ property intact and his heart secure. Attracted to her landlord, Cary immerses herself in photography and herbal lore while Spence resists risking his heart and wonders about Cary’s involvement in her brother’s land development scheme. Both wonder if this is A Thyme for Love.

Along the way, Cary gleans a collection of recipes–from cucumber soup to eggplant casserole–sure to please anyone who visits Rosemary Cottage, ThymeTable Farm.

Left with Aunt Mattie and Uncle Cade (the sheriff) in the North Carolina Mountains, nine-year old June becomes "Mattie’s Girl" when Cade is killed at the home of her best friend PeeDee.

In stories deeply rooted in the late 1940s Appalachia, June chronicles the years between meeting the irrepressible PeeDee and losing her. She struggles to understand her mother’s indifference, her father’s divided love, her grandmother’s sudden death, her grandfather’s being institutionalized. Three years later, PeeDee, riding the rails west, brings a final gift and the truth about Cade’s murder. In this world forever gone, June survives and triumphs through the grace of family and friendship.

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Rob Neufeld in an August 11, 2002 review in the Asheville Citizen Times called Mattie’s Girl "a very good novel" with "no mistaking the genuine material and authoritative tone...primarily about positive virtues–community tradition and kindness upset by an inability to deal with certain social ills."

Joan Medlicott , author of the Ladies of Covington series of novels set in Madison County, says "With humor, sensitivity, and a knowing that comes from having deep roots in Appalachia, Celia Miles handles the actions and interactions of her characters with wisdom and discernment."

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In locales as varied as hometown back yards and mall, the canals of Venice, stone circles in the British Isles, abandoned tomato fields in north Georgia, the Greek islands, and Portugal, these stories feature women: women at their breaking point, turning point, mending point, women from age six to sixty-six engaged in searching, suffering, surviving, and coming to terms with their situations, each unique, yet universal.

Happily married to her herb farmer Spence and engrossed in her photography, Cary Bradford longs for two "heart’s desires" to make her life complete—a child and a water-powered gristmill for ThymeTable Farm in western North Carolina. With enthusiasm, naivete, and determination, she sets out to achieve her goals, learning about mills and patience along the way. The Cove community, with their farm at its center, deals with loss, changes in relationships, and a mysterious newcomer to their midst, and together they work for Cary’s dream–a mill for ThymeTable Farm.

 

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ORDERING INFORMATION:

Celia's first three books are available (with reviews) at amazon.com and they may also be ordered directly from InfinityPublishing.com 1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100 West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713; Toll-free: 877-289-2665; online: buybooksontheweb.com at the following prices, plus shipping and handling:

Thyme for Love $14.95

Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood $13.95

On a Slant: A Collection of Stories $13.95

ThymeTable Mill $14.95

For persons who read this page and contact Celia at celiamiles@fastmail.fm or by phone 828-253-1184, the price includes postage. She takes cash or checks and ships immediately, with pleasure.

Celia H. Miles , a recent retiree from the NC Community College system, is a teacher by trade, a traveler by design, a photographer for fun, and a writer by avocation. In addition to writing Effective English Skills and co-authoring Writing Technical Reports (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1991) for the two-year college market, she has published in various genres in various publications, including Cricket magazine, Appalachian Heritage , Northwoods Journal, and Writers’ Journal (Sept/Oct issue, 2003). She is also a regular contributor to Western North Carolina Woman magazine.

Since retiring in 2000 she has published with InfinityPublishing.com four works of fiction: A Thyme for Love (romance and recipes on an herb farm near Asheville), Mattie’s Girl: An Appalachian Childhood (a novel of kinship, friendship, and community set in Jackson County in the 1940s), and On a Slant: A Collection of Stories, all of which feature women:"women at their breaking point, turning point, mending point, suffering, surviving, triumphing, coming to terms with their situations, each unique, yet universal." Her most recent book is Thyme Table Mill, a "sequel of sorts" to A Thyme for Love, featuring her enthusiasm for grist mills.

Celia and husband Louis travel as often as possible, enjoying particularly the British Isles and islands anywhere from Greek’s Dodacanese to Scotland’s northern and western islands, Malta, and Ireland. They delight in finding and photographing old mills (as members of The Society for the Preservation of Old Mills) and neolithic sites such as stone circles and burial chambers.

Joan Medlicott
P.O. Box 355
Barnardsville, NC 28709

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