My writing reflects my interests and my experiences in a "Write what you know and what you don't know, research" kind of way. Let the list explain.
Lessons Learned: The History of Pilot Mountain School (Bright Mountain Books, 2012) – Narrative nonfiction, Lessons Learned overlaps much of my childhood and the beginnings of my teaching career in a nearby county.
When Christmas Feels Like Home,(Sept 1, 2013 release) - Picture book based on my experiences with international students and my own culture shock as a high school exchange student in Lima, Peru. Big concept for a simple book about a boy coming to America with his family and living near one of the Christmas tree farms in western North Carolina.
When Christmas Feels Like Homeis also based on culture adaptation materials from the orientation I conduct yearly for students departing on a study abroad program. As volunteer area team sending coordinator for the Carolinas AFS, I am responsible for working with candidates from application through departure, and beyond.
Finding Forty-Two,nonfiction article published Highlights for Children, February 2009 about Jackie Robinson's retired number, 42, that hangs in every major league baseball park, on display, lest we forget.The idea for Finding Forty-Two came from my own journey across America (and Canada) in a quest with my husband to find the forty-two in every park, his to eat a hot dog in every park. Mission accomplished this summer with a trip to Miami and Tampa Bay. Repeat trips required, however, to Minnesota and Washington, DC to visit parks built since earlier trips
Excellent Expedition– Nonfiction manuscript at the bottom of my desk drawer, probably never to see the light of day, but a great writing exercise, based on a trip to Costa Rica with my husband.
He loved being Great-grandpa!
Littlejohn: The History of a Church 1775-1978,nonfiction chronicle I collected and edited of the church I attend. (Broyhill Industries, 1978) The story of a Methodist Church in the foothills of western North Carolina, tracing it through wars and recoveries, the faith of our fathers. And mothers. Littlejohn United Methodist Church
The Christmas Trail,outdoor drama script written with a committee and based on the Biblical story of the birth of Christ. 12 stations, 52 actors and support personnel, annual event since 1995.As coordinator of the yearly production, I gather a wonderful cast and eager support team that proudly presents nightly performances, outdoors, in the cold. The trail has become a tradition in our community. Please join us this year! “The Christmas Trail”
No, Eddie, this is not part of the script. No telling what goes on between scenes.
Yellow Pine Chronicles,historical fiction manuscript based on the building of Courtney Chapel, a primitive recreation of 1825 Littlejohn Methodist Church in western North Carolina. Original logs, one of which is featured in the manuscript, traced back in time to its life as a seedling, with interlopers wedging their pioneer stories into the church narration. My passion piece.
Removing the 1825 logs from the safety of their barn. Yes, that's me. And that's Yellow Pine, the longest of the logs.
Courtney Chapel - almost finished
Chapel finished and ready for the many weddings ahead.
Grumpy Granny A fun little ditty playing on the “gr” that begins my name. Grumpy grandma Gretchen Griffith. No ordinary grandma, I'm Granny Gretchen.There are some family pictures that have yet to be turned into manuscripts, and probably never will, if my children have anything to say about it.
Southern mother (me) with her Citadel son at the ring ceremony
Daughter Jennifer and husband Mark
Family portrait in a buggy, Jennifer, Van, Allen, me, Charlotte, driver.
Granny and her two
Lingle School, a one room schoolhouse restored and moved to Tuttle Educational State Forest, Caldwell County, North Carolina. I researched and developed the script that plays on push button command in its front porch display.
I was born on the last day and missed it all, but that’s okay. I’ve heard the story, The Donora Fluoride Fog,from day one, and I’m finally setting it to print. It's the reason I was raised in North Carolina, the story of why my parents packed up and left all they knew in Pennsylvania to start a life in what was to them an alien world called "the south."
Black Halloween– YA historical fiction manuscript in progress, fact based, about the most exciting week in the history of Donora, Pennsylvania.
This manuscript started with a simple request from a friend. “Could you collect a few stories for me?” Tom Brittain asked. “Sure,” I answered. “This school has stories that will eat into your heart.” That was the warning he gave me as I started the Pilot Mountain Schoolhouse project. He ought to know, he’d been hearing them ever since he bought the school building and began restoring it. Little did I know. Pilot Mountain School in 1956I had done this for the town history committee where my interviews with citizens are on file in the town hall. I knew possibilities.I taught school, every age imaginable from Head Start five year olds to college freshman at Appalachian State University and a ninety year old woman in my adult basic education classes at Caldwell Community College. Fifth grade, eighth grade, remedial reading, third grade and then my favorite, fourth grade. I knew school.Not only that, my elementary school fourth grade was the pilot program for the Community Music Curriculum through an NEA grant and the University of North Carolina. I taught my students how to interview their grandparents. I was supervisor for the program in the western counties of the state and worked with teachers to develop their own Community Music Curriculum and teach their children to interview. I knew interviewing.I have an undergraduate degree in elementary education, concentrating in Spanish and a masters in education, concentrating in reading and geography, both degrees from Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. I knew foundations of American education. I took the class. I have written and published curriculum related materials through the Community Music Curriculum program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I have attended writers’ retreats, conferences, workshops. I am a member of SCBWI, a professional writers group for children.Best of all, I found the one project that combines absolutely every single element I have listed above. What I didn’t know when I started was the passion in store for me. Or the long hours with my friend, the microfiche machine. Or the tears I would hold back when a seventy year old man cried about an experience in first grade. Or the sadness I felt when I heard about the death of one elderly woman I had interviewed only weeks before. This is not my story. I am not from this community, but I feel a part of it now in spirit. I've been welcomed into homes and hearts because the people trusted me to relay their memories and experiences to the outside world.That’s why I wrote this book.
Salvation Army Major Jean Lorraine Frese
Storycatcher is at it again! Called to the Mountains: The Story of Jean L. Frese, the story of my cousin’s life experiences as a Major in the Salvation Army stationed in the far western North Carolina mountains. Collected through interviews and conversations, this faith story is written in her voice as only she can tell.
Short VersionI am a former teacher with thirty years of experience from Head Start five year olds to college freshmen at Appalachian State University and Caldwell Community College. My interest in international cultures began in high school when I was an exchange student in Lima, Peru and continues today through volunteer work with AFS, an intercultural program. My 2013 children’s picture book, When Christmas Feels Like Home, is based on personal experiences of adapting to a new culture, while my 2015 children’s picture book, Hoop Hike, is based on science activities with my fourth grade students. I have worked to preserve North Carolina stories through several oral history projects, including Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School;Called to the Mountains: The Story of Jean L. Frese; Wheels & Moonshine: The Stories and Adventures of Claude B. Minton; and Fly Fishermen of Caldwell County: North Carolina Life Stories.I live in Lenoir, North Carolina, with my husband, Van. We have two children, Jennifer and Allen, and two grandchildren, Gracie and Reagan.
Lightning VersionFamily oriented former teacher who catches life stories and shares them in print.
Quick! Pick the CherriesA short story I based on my father-in-law’s yearly battle with the birds over the cherries in the trees, and my son’s attempts to help. Published in Highlights for Children June, 2015 issue.
A snapshot my niece took of Grandpa Griffith doing what he loved, picking cherries.