#FamilyStories Meet the Author: Carolou Nelsen

This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Carolou Nelsen, author of “I Had a Brother.”


Carolou Nelsen

Q: Did you write “I Had a Brother” with a particular person/reader in mind?

Carolou: The discovery of a letter written by my brother in 1945 during World War II brought back so many memories of our growing up years together. I decided to represent the letter in this piece, alternating his written voice with my thoughts

Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?

Carolou: This look into my past reminded me that my adult children and my grandchildren know little about my youth and the world I lived in eight decades ago. At my daughter’s request, I would now like to write about my experiences in times that they cannot imagine.

Q: What is a fun, interesting, or unusual fact to share with your readers?

Carolou: I fell into writing quite by accident when a friend asked me to illustrate a children’s book that she had written. I joined her writing group and became enchanted with my fellow senior friend’s written works. Now I try to work with both brush and pen.

Connect with Carolou

If you’d like to connect with Carolou, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way–face to face or snail mail, because as Carolou says, “I am not involved with social media nor do I intend to find the extra time to do so. Life is full as it is!”

Pictured above left, Carolou (17) and Bob (24) before he went overseas, and pictured above right, Carolou’s son, Robert, at Bob’s gravestone.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.

Available now from Boswell Book CompanyAmazonBarnes & Noble and other online retailers.

 

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#CaringForCommunity: Waiting

#CaringForCommunity is a blog series that spotlights the work of writers, artists, or your next-door neighbors who, without being asked and without pay, carry the light in simple but meaningful ways. These are people giving back in order to lift others up. Real life examples of compassion, concern, and inspiration. In today’s post, the story is personal.


Post-book launch with authors Carolou and Val.

A lot can happen in a day, like you wake up still beaming from an excellent book launch; you move into your last few hours of work before summer break; and you scribble a to-do/to-take list for your upcoming writing retreat out of town. You’ve been going going going and doing and worrying (which is what you do best, unfortunately). And you ignore that thing pressing at your back–literally, a pressing of pain–until it moves to the front and your sister-in-law lovingly reminds you that “at your age” you ought to check that out. Especially before you leave town. So you do. That day. And you come to find out you’ve got shingles.

A lot can happen from there, like the sleepless nights and the tell-tale rash and the unfathomable pain until (finally) relief, and by some miracle (meds, the bed, the nurturing from family–all of the above), you do make it to your writing retreat, which turns out to be respite in more ways than one.

You meet a roomful of women (a few men, too, whom you appreciate as well, but it’s the women) who pull you back into balance. Gentle voices and knowing eyes and honest, light-hearted conversation about the process of writing and living and living with writing. Throughout the whole week, you are surrounded by these women, flooded with quiet moments, and nudged with reminders To Just Be.

One woman in particular speaks to you from across the lunch table–the one place where it’s never quiet. You strain to hear her, leaning across your bowl of beef broth soup and plate of noodles dressed in bright, red tomato sauce. Never mind if you get some on your shirt, what she’s saying is important.

She’s talking about waiting.

Waiting for the story.
Listening for the characters.
Being still.

Later, she gives you an article on just that, “When Writing is Actually About Waiting.” The margins of her copy are filled with her handwritten thoughts about waiting and her own personal journey into story. But she doesn’t hesitate to share, to pass on the wisdom gained: it’s in sharing where we fully understand, connect, grow.

And it’s in this article where you read the words you most need to hear:

You can find peace within that. In the waiting.

In the listening. In being still.

. . .

Just what your body has been trying to tell you.

So you take to her message. You take walks, you take naps, you take your pen and paper into town and you sit.

And wait.

And listen.

And gather the story.

Waiting, with sustenance.

 

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#FamilyStories Meet the Author: Nancy Martin

This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Nancy Martin, author of “The Teetotaler.”


Nancy Martin

Q: Did you write “The Teetotaler” with a particular person or reader in mind?

Nancy: When I wrote “The Teetotaler I was really thinking of two people– my daddy, the teetotaler in the story and my son. My son’s full name is Wayne Arthur Martin, named for both of his grandfathers. Wayne the younger, grew up visiting with Wayne the older (my father-in-law) and reading his stories as we worked on Patton’s Lucky Scout, a book of the older Wayne’s stories from his time in WWII. However, Wayne the younger doesn’t know as much about his other namesake, my dad Arthur Brown. My son was only two years old when my father died.

When my father’s declining health worsened in 1998, we quickly caught a flight from Wisconsin to Kentucky. We went straight from the airport to the hospital. There medical staff warned us that Daddy was already “unresponsive”–that he may still be able to hear us, but we were probably too late to get any response. They were wrong.

Carrying my young son to Daddy’s hospice bedside, I set Wayne right on the bed next to Daddy. In as chipper a voice as I could manage I said, “Thought you might like to see your grandson.” It did seem to take effort, but my Daddy opened his eyes and managed a trace of a smile. Then daddy closed his eyes and his face relaxed.

While Daddy’s last year had been difficult, he held on to life. He hung on to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with my mom that August. He hung on to see his only grandchild one more time. And he hung on to life until November 1st, as his last gift to his wife. Mom feared he would die on Halloween and for her that would have made his death even worse.

My son Wayne sometimes demonstrates the same determination, you might even say stubbornness, of my Daddy, his grandfather. I want Wayne to know where that comes from. My story about Daddy being a Teetotaler, I hope, shows Wayne how daddy was a man of his word.

Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?

Nancy: Over the last several years, I have been helping others write their stories and toying with starting a blog that concentrates on memoir. Having Daddy’s story accepted for this anthology was another push for me to go ahead and launch my blog, Butterfly Drive. It’s fledgling, but I hope it will encourage others to write their own Family Stories From The Attic.

Q: What books are you reading at the moment?

Nancy: These days I find myself drawn to reading memoirs. I’m just finishing up Families, by Wyatt Cooper. It is a 1976 memoir written by Anderson Cooper’s father. I tracked it down after reading The Rainbow Comes and Goes, the memoir Anderson wrote with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. I sat that book aside to read Simpatico, written by one of my storytellers, Joan Kuraitis. I’m proud to say she is the second person from one of my memoir groups that I have encouraged to publish her book. The other one being Following the Lines, by Irene Litz-Barre.

I encourage everyone to read memoirs and to also write their own experiences. There are lots of good true stories out there, one of them may be hiding in your attic.

Connect with Nancy

Website | Facebook


ABOUT THE BOOK

Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.

Available now from Boswell Book CompanyAmazonBarnes & Noble and other online retailers.

Posted in #AmReading, Author Interviews, Book Recommendations, Family Stories Meet the Author | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment