Last night, Salem College and Wake Forest University co-sponsored an event with two women writers and editors – Hannah Tinti and Ladette Randolph. They were brilliant and mesmerizing. It was like staring into a fire and imagining the dancing embers as fairies and gnomes. But then again, I don’t think there is anything better than listening to an author read her own passages, knowing every pause and inflection is exactly where and how it was intended to be when written.

Hannah Tinti began the evening with a few tidbits of her own life and how it shaped her writing. She grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, worked in a museum of torture devices used on witches, and had a traumatic event happen to her in an old graveyard. This was illustrated on post-its, a collection of such stories coming out in the spring entitled, ‘Post-It Notebook’. It also influenced passages in her novel, ‘The Good Thief’, which she also read from. A best seller, it will grab you from the start. Her writing has been compared to Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens.

Ladette Randolph, from the rough ranching plains of Nebraska, had a different tale or two. She read from her novel, ‘A Sandhills Ballad’, a very serious and compelling story of the hardships of the heartland prairie on a woman. And then she followed this with a short, humorous story about a man stuck in a rut who is delivered from the mundane by a foul-mouthed parrot. Quite enjoyable, though she apologized in advance for the rough language of the bird, which was hilarious to hear spewing from such a proper and poised lady. I think she had a lot of fun with it.

Both of these women were generous with their time and conversation, staying in the lobby to sign books and chat with anyone interested in them. And they seemed to be equally interested in every young lady that approached, asking about their lives and career paths, personalizing the dedications inside the presented books.

We discussed my writing and publishing path, my recent workshop in France, what I am currently working on. They gave me encouragement and assured me that many women have done as I have – waited until the children were grown before exploring their creative path. To hear this from two women who have accomplished what I strive for, was more than inspiring. A thousand thanks!

But I was also inspired by the students at Salem College. The joy of writing shone on their faces. It was great to see that they were starting out on the right path, not taking the rather crooked, looping one that I have. Yet, the fear that their parents had about a steady income had most of them seeking double majors, just in case. Smart.

One young lady whose pen name is J.P. Wickwire, already has an anthology of mythical planets and beings. And she is only seventeen! She wants to surprise her readers, give them unforeseen twists and plots. Her peeve is anything predictable and formulaic. I’d say that is a name we will all hear again.

Bravo to Salem College, located in the Old Salem area of Winston-Salem, NC. The bakery alone is reason to visit. And they shared their treats with the guests, offering Salem tea, cheese straws, and an assortment of cookies. A tasty refreshment, ideal for mingling and chatting. Altogether, it was a lovely evening.

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