Books

Charles PayneWhen we think of Fluvanna history, we think of people like “Texas” Jack Omohundro, the Timberlakes, and other notables who designed buildings, fought in battle and blazed trails. Few ever mention those who came after, growing up in humble beginnings in rural Fluvanna. They were trailblazers of a different kind, who made sacrifices, withstood trials and faced obstacles. A woman named Chris was one of those people who is rarely talked about, but who made a significant impact in the lives of those who knew her.

In his book titled Chris, Charles Payne talks about Chris and her unique journey through life as a single mother and a woman who made it in a male-dominated world when it was difficult to do so.

“Chris was an extraordinary woman – a product of the Great Depression who had unflagging determination to improve her life and a can-do attitude,” said Payne. This inspired him to write her story.

The book opens around 1910. Payne sets the scene with the innovations, economy and society of that time, and the marriage of Chris’ parents in 1911. Chris was related to the Perkins and Morris families in Fluvanna.
Payne would not give too much away about his story, including Chris’ last name, where in Fluvanna she lived, or his relationship to her, but he did say the family suffered many hardships during the Depression.

“Chris had several siblings and during those years they suffered life-shattering losses and deprivation. They lost everything they had, forever altering the paths of their lives, and death stalked them,” said Payne. “Remember also, in World War II women did many men’s jobs. Chris was tall, slender, pretty, outgoing and kind hearted, but she was also fiercely tenacious and brighter than she or anyone else realized until her accomplishments began to be noticed.” Add a comment

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Carol FleuretteIt all began when Carol Fleurette moved from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., an area she said is nothing but desert and residents are lucky if it rains a week out of the year. While going to school at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., she decided to move to Virginia. In 2012, she packed up her truck and bought a horse trailer, putting her horse on one side and her motorcycle on the other. She made the drive in four days. When she arrived she was shocked to see torrential downpours, something she had never experienced.

“I loved seeing all of the frogs, the turtles, and all kinds of animals traveling the roads to get to dry areas,” she said. “At that time, I was living in a 100-year-old cabin in Reva, Va., with my fiancé. That experience fueled my creativity for my first book, The Rain That Would Never End.” The story, written in 2015, follows a little girl and her pet fish, who get stuck in a flood, jump on a boat and go on an adventure, saving other animals along the way.

Following her debut was Not the Same but Not So Different Either. The story examines two brothers who are very different in their appearance, personalities, and interests. At the end of the day, they find out that they are really not that different.

Her recent book, Access Required, came out in 2016. This story is about service dogs and is told from the dog’s perspective. Add a comment

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Alden BigelowOne day local author Alden Bigelow wrote a short story that dealt with animal cruelty and animal rights. Eventually it developed into his current novel, The Great American Mammal Jamboree.

“It just evolved into a novel as my characters and their thoughts grew larger and larger in my mind,” he said. The book is written from the perspective of animals, both wild and domesticated. Most of the book is told through the point of view of a springer spaniel named Jessie. Jessie is chosen partly because of his affinity and ability to bond with humans on a different level than most wild animals.

“My favorite character was Jessie, because he is a great narrator and a good dog and a close personal friend of mine,” said Bigelow.
The animals come together for a jamboree and, though some express their disenchantment with humans and their cruelty and misunderstanding of animals, Jessie cautions them that they need to be open to promoting peaceful, friendly compromise.

“This is about animals learning to work together in order to teach and persuade” humans, Bigelow said.

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altLake Monticello resident Cynthia Moore has already received praise for her book Live, Love, Lead: 10 Simple Skills to Transform Stress, a book focused on how to become conscious of joy and less inclined to stress. It features a short description of 10 skills that if practiced regularly can reduce stress and restore life’s balance.

“Although I thought some of these skills would be helpful to others in middle management – as they have been helpful to me – I recognize that for all of us, having more tools in our stress management toolkit is useful,” said Moore.

Moore believes that the daily stress of modern life weighs us down without the balance of rest and renewal, or the pauses nature intended in the midst of chaos.

“Increases in blood pressure and blood sugar as well as risk to the heart accelerate under those chronic stress conditions, contributing to disease development,” Moore said. “That is why it makes sense to intentionally add in some practices to balance the rest and renewal part of our nervous system. Those at a higher risk can benefit from these skills but they’re useful for most of us.” Add a comment

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Susan Carol KentA bookworm since childhood, author Susan Carol Kent (formerly Susan Snead) has a passion for books and writing which has finally led her to publish her first novel, a mystery set in the charming fictional river town of Potoma, Va., inspired by Colonial Beach, Va.

“I have written poetry and stories since I first learned to form sentences,” she said. Her debut novel, “Bad Neighbors,” highlights a sinister plot with unexpected twists and turns to keep the reader guessing as to who murdered a popular teenager in town. Her two protagonists, officers Katie Bell and Anna Madrid, are ideal for an ongoing series. Though Kent is pursuing other ideas, she hasn’t ruled out a series if the book takes off.

Kent said she begins her writing process with an idea, but has no set vision or outline to follow to the end. The story and the characters take wing and fly and she follows. Authors like Kent are known as “pansters,” a term used to describe writers who write stories by the seat of their pants.

Kent likes to use places she has been to or lived and use them in her stories. A historian, she is currently working on a different novel set at Maymont in Richmond. She focuses on the Dooley family, the prominent family who owned Maymont and functioned as the movers and shakers of their day during the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century.

“Nothing is known about the Dooleys, except he was a prominent lawyer who had many ties to the community, but Mrs. Dooley before her death in 1923 destroyed all letters, mementos and any personal items,” she said. “No one knows why and as a result no one knows anything personally about the family.”

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