Showing posts with label Celia Miles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celia Miles. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Women's Spaces Women's Places Reviewed in The Laurel of Asheville

The Laurel of Asheville:The Arts and Culture of Communities across the Mountains in its February issue gave Women's Spaces Women's Places a half page review with a photo of the book cover. 

Celia Miles said, "I think The Laurel is absolutely the most gorgeous of Asheville's magazines, amazing photography and articles geared to the arts and "fine living," generally. Each issue has a page featuring two books; with us this month was Tracey Schmidt, poet and photographer, author of "I Have Fallen in Love with the World."

A large number of Netwest members have work in this beautiful anthology edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Celia Miles who along with Nancy Dillingham has co-edited three anthologies of the work of women writers in Western North Carolina: Christmas Presence, Clothes Lines, and Women’s Spaces Women’s Places, has a new book coming out in 2013.
Celia is trying something new for her -- a blog tour, The Next Big Thing, with her latest post being a number of answers to interview questions on the subject of Sarranda's Heart.

I found it very interesting. I think you will also.
Visit Celia Miles at to see the books she has authored and the anthologies she has published.

Sarranda's Heart is a sequel to this book that was published in 2006

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with Celia Miles, Author and Editor.

CELIA MILES, editor, author of nine novels
  Glenda Beall: I am delighted to have the opportunity to share an interview with Celia Miles. Many of us know her novels and the three anthologies she co-edited with Nancy Dillingham. Welcome to Netwest Writers, Celia.

Thank you, Glenda, for inviting me to answer questions about my writing and background.

*You are a native of Canton, NC? Tell us about growing up there. Where did you go to school? I know you are an editor and a writer. What was your major in college?

Actually I’m a native of Jackson County, born back beyond Dillsboro. We moved “to town” (Morganton) after my sixth grade (and had the indoor amenities for the first time) and to Canton in my eighth grade. My father was moved “from the woods” to work at the paper mill and I finished high school there. From there, it was Brevard College, then Berea, UNC-Chapel Hill, and later, to IUP in Pennsylvania. My Mattie’s Girl: An Appalachian Childhood, though not my life, is true to the time and place of my first twelve years, summed up, in someone’s phrase: “too poor to know any better.” I majored in English and taught at Brevard College, then at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College for thirty years.

*When did you know you wanted to be a writer? When did you first say “I am a writer?”

In high school, I wrote a long novel, on Blue Horse notebook paper, set as far away as possible with a hero as handsome as possible (probably modeled on Mark Trail (Anyone remember him? or have I invented him?); thankfully that missile has long since disappeared. For years my writing was academic and I co-authored a textbook for the two-year college market: Writing Technical Reports (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1990).

My creative writing began with courses I took in continuing education at AB Tech on “Writing the Natural Way” (that one I had to take twice!), “Writing the Romance Novel,” “Writing the Novel,” all taught by published writers. People often think: oh, an English teacher…writing must be a cinch for you or writing must be easy. Not so. I had to “unlock” the right side of my brain and “unlearn” the censorship of the evaluating grammarian/teacher. Those courses started me on “writing for pleasure, if not profit.”

*How many novels have you written? What was the first one?

I have five novels. The first, Mattie’s Girl, was a collection of vignettes, individual episodes, until a class with Bill Brooks got it moving toward the novel form (“create a hook,” “introduce conflict immediately,” etc.). I smile when I count the two “sweet” (as opposed to “steamy”) romances; A Thyme for Love grew out of the romance novel class—and in it I included my interest in photography and herbs. (a friend commented on seeing the book, “I can’t believe Celia misspelled a word in the title!”) Then came its sequel: ThymeTable Mill in which I incorporated my love of old grist mills, along with another love story of older people. Both set around Asheville. Sarranda is a historical novel set before, during, after the Civil War, a story of survival in brutal times. Surprising me, Sarranda appeared to the heroine of ThymeTable Mill who is restoring an old mill, saying essentially “this was my grandfather’s mill…I can rest now that I know it’s in good hands.” She demanded a novel of her own and I finished it in six weeks. Its sequel is taking much longer!

*ThymeTable Mill and Sarranda, describe them.

ThymeTable Mill is contemporary but the heroine goes around to various old grist mills in this area, interviewing and photographing, with emphasis on the Francis Mill in Haywood County. Sarranda—definitely historical—is the story of a strong woman, born around 1840, coping in the worst of times, during and following the Civil War.


*Do you enjoy researching your books?

I don’t particularly enjoy research, but I do enjoy having the internet to make it easy: finding NC regiments in the Civil War, prison camps, etc. For Sarranda’s Heart, the sequel, I had to find, among other things, if home canning and cook stoves would have been likely in western NC in 1881. And I love learning of old mills, finding, and photographing them and invite anyone with information about them to let me know.

*You have an abiding interest in stone circles such as Stonehenge, but you seem to like the smaller ones in rural areas. They can be found in several countries, I think. How many countries have you visited to see the stone circles and what intrigues you about them?

I first saw Stonehenge and the smaller stones but larger circle of Avebury in1969; since then we’ve found dozens of stone circles and burial sites, mostly in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, but also in Portugal and Malta—and even (so says the tourist literature) in New Hampshire! Without claiming much knowledge or understanding of how and why these sites were constructed, I simply know there is a mystique about them, unconnected (for me) to the mechanics and mathematics of their existence. Partly, I appreciate that scientific certainty is not possible, that they embody a community/cultural belief system that, like the great cathedrals, created them. Tourism and commercialism do not ultimately detract from or destroy the “feeling” that surrounds them.

Since I’m not a “city person,” there is great satisfaction in tramping over moors, through sheep, through peat bogs to come upon a lesser-known circle—finally locating it from that tiny dot on a map. I find it hard to articulate what draws me to the circles time and time again. In Journey to Stenness a contemporary woman is caught in and surrenders to the allure of the two major circles on the island of Orkney. The emotions engendered by her visits to them must speak for me. We will be returning to many of the circles in the Scottish islands this spring…I can only hope for a creative time.

Women Writers

*Women writers complain about their lack of time to write. Between family needs, and other things in life, many women feel guilty taking time to write. Did you wait until you retired to begin your writing career?

I confess to having plenty of time to write now (retired and no children) and wish I made use of it every day, but I don’t. I feel guilty if I’m not writing but not guilty enough to set a schedule and keep to it. I started writing in the 1990s, but all my books have been published since I retired and all are “self published”/“print on demand.” In a very short time with Mattie’s Girl, I found I had not the patience to jump through the hoops to get an agent and a traditional publisher. I’ve never regretted my decision and encourage others who have a well-written story or collection of poetry or short stories to go that route…and e-publishing, too.

*I’ve heard that fiction writers often draw from their own lives and experiences to create characters and plots. Is that true for you?

A writer cannot totally separate self from what is created; whether it’s an idea, an image, a belief, something of the writer is reflected—precisely what and to what degree don’t really matter. The work should stand on its own, without biographical reference; knowing the writer may make the work “more interesting” to a reader who knows the author, but actually the reader brings herself to the work as does the writer. My fiction certainly illustrates my interests and travels, but I don’t consciously base my characters on real people or any one real person; and my plots just develop from the characters—thank goodness.

 *Do you have a special place and time for your writing?

I write at my computer, now feeling uncomfortable with a pen and paper, and have “a room of my own” surrounded by clutter and books, mostly by regional and self-published writers. No special time of day, but typically not morning (though I’ve done the “morning pages” advocated by Julie Cameron). Sometimes I listen to Celtic or Appalachian music, nothing raucous or pounding. Writing Sarranda I played “Hard Times Come Again No More” (Gayle and Phil Johnson’s version) over and over; its sequel calls for “How Can I Keep from Singing (Betty Smith’s CD).”

*Do you keep a writing journal or a journal of any kind?

I have but I don’t. Times of stress or trauma have been when I’ve felt the need to journal; I try to keep a list of books I’m reading, but now I forget that. In general, though, I think writing daily in a journal or otherwise, is a great habit and that something worthy comes out of it.

*Some of the south’s best writers have had dysfunctional families, mental issues, or other problems. You seem perfectly normal, Celia; do you think a writer has to have lived a tumultuous life?

Wonderful question—can a southern woman writer be from a “normal” family (however defined)? Absolutely. A family member calls me “sensible Celia” (at which I cringe but can’t deny). Surely suffering, whether mental, emotional, or physical, can precipitate the urge to write, but it isn’t necessary to set yourself on fire in order to describe the experience or to have children in order to create a fictional mother. The question deserves (and has received in other places, I’m sure) an entire essay.

*You and Nancy Dillingham have published three anthologies for women writers. Why did you do the first one? Do you plan to do any more anthologies?

Nancy and I worked together for a decade (more or less) at AB Tech on the faculty/staff literary magazine, Victoria Press, and after we left, we often met to discuss writing and reading. Exactly why and how the idea came about is not clear to me now (we sometimes laugh and wonder the same thing). We knew some women writers, knew they deserved to be read, and, I suppose, just set ourselves the challenge of putting a book together, luckily not knowing all the ramifications and work involved. Christmas Presence was fun, kept our editing skills honed, made new friends for us—and before we knew it, we’d decided on a second anthology. Clothes Lines almost overwhelmed us with seventy-five writers, so we took a year off and then decided on one more, to complete a kind of “trinity”: Women’s Spaces Women’s Places. We’ve said “no more.” But women are famous for changing their minds.

*Some writers included in the anthologies said they were disappointed that they didn’t get a free book or a discount so they could buy books to sell at reading, etc. Why should a writer submit to your anthologies? What’s in it for them?

Good questions but first a disclaimer: every writer received a free book (at the launch party, by mail, or hand delivered). For the first two anthologies, we did give a discount to authors but by the third one, we wanted to be able to pay for the publication first! We financed the books ourselves, no grants, donations, or fundraisers were involved. We never expected to “make money,” but did want to pay off the printers. That we have done. Why submit? What’s in it for the author? Each writer would have to answer that for herself. I submit to anthologies and contests for validation and gratification—to be read by like-minded writers (not New Yorker readers). If I think I have something to say and I judge it worthy (I have lots of starts and stopped), fiction or non-, I like to see it in print.

*You have been traveling abroad recently. Are you using these trips for research on future novels?

I don’t use them in terms of keeping track of expenses for IRS purposes. Actually I try to empty my mind of obligations (such as finishing a work) while gone…and into an empty mind may come an idea or image that stays with me and finds its way into something. Several short stories (in the collections On a Slant and Islands One and All) are set in other countries: Greece, England, the Scottish islands, Portugal, so I soaked up something that generated a story. But I don’t go for that reason.

*Did you start with an agent? * Who is your publisher?

I’ve never had an agent. I’ve found my niche in self-publishing and, believe it or not, have no desire to try for “the big time,” which most authors find isn’t so grand after all. has five of my books, two of which are/will be available as e-books. For the first two anthologies we used Catawba in Charlotte, since gone out of business. For the last anthology, we wanted to stay local; it was printed by Biltmore Solutions Group (formerly Biltmore Press) in Asheville. It and Journey to Stenness are published under the imprint, Stone Ivy Press.

*What advice can you give to struggling writers who have yet to publish that first book?

I’d say: do some investigating of traditional, online, and self-publishing opportunities; decide how much time and money you want to invest; choose what’s important (knowing the attitudes and problems inherent in whichever publishing choice you make); and then, do it. It can’t hurt to try, to send out, to make an effort. Of course, before thinking “marketing/publishing,” think quality and editing. It seems to me that now, in workshops and blogs, the emphasis is more on marketing cleverly than on writing well, but that may be just my age showing.

*Tell us where we can find and order your books online.

You can order all the books from my website: Amazon has Islands One and All; Mattie’s Girl and Sarranda are available online from (Infinity’s bookstore) and from Amazon. Independent bookstores around western NC have hardcopies—with my gratitude.

*Thank you so much, Celia, for taking time from your busy schedule to give this interview for Netwest Writers.

Thursday, May 12, 2011



Celia's novels are A Thyme for Love, ThymeTable Mill, Mattie’s Girl: An Appalachian Childhood, Sarranda, and (in 2010) Journey to Stenness. Two short story collections are On a Slant: A Collection of Stories and Islands One and All: Stories and Otherwise. Nancy's books of poetry include include Home, recently nominated for a SIBA book Award in Poetry. Here's an interesting post from Kaye w. Barley's blog.

Monday, June 21, 2010


To the members of NetWest who participated in the Candy Fund Book Fair in Asheville on May 15:

On behalf of the Candy Maier Scholarship Fund for Women Writers Board, we want to thank all of you who came from points west--from Waynesville and Murphy and Hiawasee--for this "first as far as we know" book fair featuring local and self-published authors. It was a long way to come for an uncertain outcome; it was a hot day and a crowded venue and your sales may not have been great. We hope, though, that visiting with your fellow writers and meeting new friends helped compensate for your time and effort.

For the Candy Fund, the event was a success. In addition to just plain enjoying seeing so many writers assembled and talking books and publishing, financially the Candy Fund can now award many scholarships in support of women taking courses, classes, workshop involving shared writing experiences.

If you know of any women who might hesitate at the brink of a class or course because of its cost, please refer them to the Candy Fund at
We want to help and the book fair assisted in our doing so. Thank you. Celia Miles (Treasurer) for the Candy Fund Board:
Cheryl Dietrich, Chair; Gwendie Camp, JC Walkup, Martha McMullen, Jennifer Browning, Whitney George

Sunday, November 8, 2009


From left: Betsy Craig; Peggy Bresnahan; Janet Sloane Benway; Nancy Purcell, Transylvania Rep for Netwest;Alexandra Burroughs;
Celia Miles, editor, seated.

These writers signed the anthology, Clothes Lines, edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham, at Highlands Books. From Birkenstocks to bras, red shoes to pink pants suits, prom dresses to funeral gown, our garments, our mother's closet, 75 women writers from western NC reflect in poetry, memoir, story, and essay on their fascination and feeling for the clothes they wear, remember, revere, or reject.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Recently I acquired a copy of Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham's new anthology, Clothes Lines, a book filled with stories and poems about, what else, clothes.

Among the writers I know in this book are Nancy Sales Cash, author of three novels and she is working on number four. Nancy is a native of Murphy, NC and spends much time in the Cherokee and Clay county areas. We met at the Daily Grind and Curiosity Shop Bookstore, had a cup of coffee and discussed readings of Clothes Lines and my poetry book Now Might As Well Be Then.

Some of the writers in the far southwest area of North Carolina and north Georgia who have work in Clothes Lines are Kathryn Stripling Byer, Joyce Foster, Nancy Sales Cash, Karen Paul Holmes, Carole R. Thompson, Glenda Barrett, Jo Carolyn Beebe, Janice Townley Moore, Blanche Ledford and Brenda Kay Ledford, and Peg Russell.

A number of our Netwest members throughout the region also appear in this interesting book by 75 western North Carolina Women.

Celia and Nancy published Christmas Presence last year through Catawba Press and used the same press for Clothes Lines. The book is made more interesting by the use of a few black and white pictures all done by Mary Alice Ramsey.
Be on the lookout for readings from this anthology in your town.

Friday, October 9, 2009


No, not my clotheslines, which right now have damp garments hanging because I forgot to bring them inside last night. No, I mean the anthology edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham. These clothes lines don't have anything soggy about them. Take a look at the cover. It looks like a shawl to be thrown over the shoulders when you are heading out to make the scene! The poem on the back cover (below) by Nancy Dillingham is worth wearing! (I've always wanted to wear a poem.)

More about this book tomorrow.

Finding Our Line

Every day
we shape our clay
from the inside out
giving it cachet.

But sometimes
it’s the clothes we wear
that give us away
that give us sway

Curves, straight lines
diagonals, in-your-face style
au courant, de rigueur
faux, retro

we define ourselves as writers
shape our style

The curve of the plot
the turn of the phrase
the tone of the prose--
it’s the pattern of patter that matters

We preen, we pose
give color to character
and landscape
decorate and align

weaving a provocative story
stitching a tall tale
spinning a yarn
threading a theme

piecing a poem
with precision and panache
punctuating with élan
finding our line

Nancy Dillingham

Edited by Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham ISBN 978-1-59712-355-690000

Friday, February 20, 2009

Editors of Christmas Presence offer new opportunity

We are soliciting
Material from women writers in western North Carolina
For a second book project

Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham want your stories, memoirs, essays/reflections, poems for an anthology about the garments we wear—metaphorically, symbolically, literally---from hair bow to bra to Birkenstocks, from christening gown to prom dress, from waitress uniform to nine-to-five stiletto heels.

We expect an October 2009 publication date, in time to market the book alongside the 2008 Christmas Presence.

General Guidelines

i Submit no more than 2000 words
i Previously published material is fine–as long as you provide acknowledgments
i You retain all rights to your material
i Send in an email attachment (or contact us)–in Ms Word or RTF
i Formatting for submissions:

Double space with one-inch margins
Left justify only
Center or left justify title

Use 12-point font (Times New Roman preferred) for body and title

i Editing is a “given,” but we will try to ask about changes
i DEADLINE: MAY 2, 2009
i In return for your effort and creativity, you will receive

A complimentary copy of the book
An opportunity to buy additional copies at reduced cost
A publication party and potential readings/signings

i Contact Information:
Celia Miles (277-6910)>
Nancy Dillingham (254-3143)>

We are excited about compiling an interesting and entertaining collection of theme-related work from women writers in this region. We know you’re out there! So, we invite you to look into your clothes closet (past or present), and if you have a story to tell, a memory to share, a point of view to espouse, send it along. We promise to treat it with care.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Presence authors signing in Hayesville,NC Dec. 6

Phillips and Lloyd Books on the square in Hayesville, NC

Brenda Kay Ledford of Hayesville, NC is one of the 45 women writers in the anthology Christmas Presence, edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham.

Glenda Barrett of Hiawassee, GA wrote "The French Harp" a true story about her beloved grandmother, which is included in Christmas Presence.

Carole Thompson of Blairsville, GA Netwest Rep.
Her story is "A Bag of Sugar for Paula" an inspiring story that takes place in a most unlikely place - a grocery store.

Also on hand Saturday for signing is Cherokee County native, Nancy Sales Cash, author of Ritual River.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas Anthology of WNC Women writers

Thanks to editors Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham, forty-five western North Carolina women writers have had their Christmas stories, poetry, essays, or memoirs, published in an anthology titled "Christmas Presence." It is a beautifully bound book "filled with the unique voices of women writers who have roots in and connections to western North Carolina. These works add seasoning to the cultural landscape of a region already rich in custom and lore. Most of the writers are members of the NCWN and include Glenda Barrett, Celia Miles, Nancy Dillingham, Dee Dee Parker, Nancy Purcell, Susan Snowden, Barbara Ledford Wright, Lana Hendershott, to name a few. The book, "Christmas Presence," can be ordered from Catawba Publishing Company at (704) 717-8452 or It will be available in local book stores and if not, they can get it for you. ISBN #: 978-1-59712-259-7. The stories will bring back fond holiday memories and the book would make a fine gift for a reading friend.

The signings are listed below--jus ignore the first two. We're hoping for an Osondu signing in Waynesville and one in Marshall.

10-12:00, Oct. 25, Highland Books, 277 N. Broad St., Brevard, NC ( 884-2424)---in conjunction with the college's homecoming, Celia with Nancy Purcell (and Lana Hendershott read) and former dean/author E. Roberts (sold 12 books and the store kept 8, plus sold 10 of my two novels)
10-3:00, Nov. 1, Sanctuary of Stuff, Farm N Art, Woodfin, NC---a first time, long-day event; come and see us

11-1:00, Nov. 7, AB Tech, Holly Library (254-1921)--refreshments

10-12:00, Nov. 8, Curiosity Shop, 48 Valley River Ave., Murphy (835-7433)---with Nancy Sales Cash; Carole, Barbara, Brenda, others in the area, please come and join us; also 1:00-3:00 in Andrews, Curiosity Shop.

6:00, Nov. 19, Accent on Books, 854 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, (252-6255)--Byron Ballard arranged this; all who wish to read, please let us know
1-5:00, Nov. 29, Mountain Made, Grove Arcade, downtown Asheville (350-0307)--come by and visit; we'll be outside the store--and at Mountain Lore in Hendersonville 10:00-11:30)

2-4:00, Dec. 2, Hendersonville Library--Sherry Austin will be moderating this event; refreshments offered; all you H'ville writers, let us know if you wish to read; a two-hour slot but an hour or so of readings should be sufficient. Susan Snowden is doing publicity in Henderson County.

12-3:00, Dec. 6, Book Fair, McDowell Public Library, Old Fort--this event was formerly held in the historic Carson House; Julia N. Duncan will read; others welcome

10:45, Dec. 10, Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road (274-4800)--Mary Lou Welther arranged this event; we're hoping those authors/storytellers nearby will participate

Authors' bios reveal they have more than 45 published books among them.

This article by Nancy Purcell, Netwest Rep from Transylvania County, Brevard, NC

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christmas Anthology by WNC women

Thanks to editors Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham, forty-five western North Carolina women writers have had their Christmas stories, poetry, essays, or memoirs, published in an anthology titled "Christmas Presence." It is a beautifully bound book "filled with the unique voices of women writers who have roots in and connections to western North Carolina. These works add seasoning to the cultural landscape of a region already rich in custom and lore. Most of the writers are members of the NCWN and include Glenda Barrett, Celia Miles, Nancy Dillingham, Dee Dee Parker, Nancy Purcell, Susan Snowden, Barbara Ledford Wright, Lana Hendershott, to name a few. The book, "Christmas Presence," can be ordered from Catawba Publishing Company at (704) 717-8452 or It will be available in local book stores and if not, they can get it for you. ISBN #: 978-1-59712-259-7. The stories will bring back fond holiday memories and the book would make a fine gift for a reading friend.

Editor Celia Miles and Nancy Purcell will be reading stories from "Christmas Presence" at Highland Book Store in Brevard, across the street from the college, between 10am and 12 noon on October 25. Please join us for this early touch of holiday spirit. The event will be in conjunction with Brevard College's Homecoming Weekend. Books will be available for sale.