Display Your Daddies for Cash Bookseller Display Contest


9780895875938-cov2.inddMarch 5, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of Patsy Cline’s death by plane crash. It is also the publication date of the debut novel, Long Gone Daddies, by David Wesley Williams. What do these two events have in common besides the date? Look for David Williams’s contribution to the Huffington Post on March 5 to find out. If you can’t wait until then, download the first chapter at Blairpub.com or read it on your e-reader at Goodreads.


March also kicks off the “Display Your Daddies for Cash” bookseller display contest. The contest is open to individual bookstores within the United States that create an in-store display for Long Gone Daddies for at least one week between March 1 and March 31, 2013. To enter the contest, submit up to five photographs of the display to John F. Blair, Publisher at blairpublishing@yahoo.com or by mailing to:

Display Your Daddies for Cash Contest
John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27103

Entries will be judged by the staff at John F. Blair on the basis of originality, customer appeal, and presentation. The winner will be announced by April 15, 2013. The winning bookstore will receive $500 from John F. Blair, Publisher, and a signed, first-edition copy of Long Gone Daddies by David Wesley Williams. For the official rules, other contest details, and display resources, visit Blairpub.com/DisplayYourDaddiesContest.php.

Anxious to get things started, we created our own display here at Blair. We had a lot of fun making paper planes (and burning them) and creating “note quotes” featuring advance praise for Long Gone Daddies. We can’t wait to see what booksellers do with their own displays!




A honey recipe to celebrate summer

Spotted: Old Favorite Honey Recipes (Bright Mountain Books) at Savanna Bee Company in Charleston, S.C.!


I recently spent a week down in Charleston and Kiawah, and although I tried not to think about work TOO much, I simply had to when I spotted one of our distributed titles at the Savanna Bee Company shop, next to rows and rows of honey jars.

First published in 1941 by the American Honey Institute, Old Favorite Honey Recipes was expanded in 1945 and reprinted several times. In 1991 this book was  published with The Iowa Honey Producers’ The Honey Recipe Book as one handy volume. With this 2010 edition, Historical Images is pleased to see this popular classic back in the hands of American cooks.

Old Favorite Honey Recipes features more than 250 recipes gathered over the years by American honey producers, revised and updated for the modern kitchen. From the classic honey bun to more obscure dishes, this collection showcases honey’s versatility in breads, desserts, vegetables, and more. It also contains recipe variations, interesting facts, and helpful cooking hints, including how to substitute honey for sugar.




Even if you’re not in South Carolina at the Savannah Bee Company shop, you can still get your hands on some great local honey. And when you do, maybe you’ll want to try out this recipe for Orange Honey Cake:


  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • ½ cup orange juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together 3 times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add honey. Blend. Add egg yolks and beat thoroughly. Add flour, alternately with orange juice, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Fold in egg whites.

Bake in 2 greased 9″ layer pans at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum…

You might not know it, but 292 years ago, November 22 was a day of celebration for folks on both sides of the Atlantic. Why, you ask? Because a certain English pirate named Edward Teach (but you probably know him as Blackbeard) was finally captured and killed in a bloody skirmish in Ocracoke Inlet.

Blackbeard was one of the most notorious pirates ever to plague the Atlantic coast. He was also one of the most colorful pirates of all time, becoming the model for countless blood-and-thunder tales of sea rovers. His daring exploits, personal courage, terrifying appearance, and fourteen wives made him a legend in his own lifetime.

The legends and myths about Blackbeard have become wilder rather than tamer in the years since his gory but valiant death. Even my own eighth-grade teacher insisted the ghost of Blackbeard still roamed the earth, traveling from school to school to talk about his life (although we all knew he was just a living history impersonator dressed as the pirate). But in remembrance of Blackbeard, we’re posting the story of his final day in Ocracoke Inlet, excerpted from Blackbeard the Pirate by Robert E. Lee. Here’s to the man who left behind legends that frightened children and inspired teachers to trick their students!

Sometimes the story behind the novel is as inspiring as the novel itself

Last Queen of the Gypsies by William Cobb

A recent review from Foreword Reviews of The Last Queen of the Gypsies, by William Cobb, reminded us that we needed to share it with you, blog readers. And it wasn’t until we stumbled upon this story from the Birmingham News that we realized how lucky we were to distribute this book for NewSouth.

You might already be familiar with author William Cobb (he’s a big name in Alabama literature and has published seven books to date). But by this time last year, William thought his writing career had ended for good.

William had suffered from a mysterious neurological condition for about three years. He had trouble keeping his balance, and he couldn’t concentrate. Day-to-day life was a challenge. Writing became almost impossible.

“‘I can’t do this anymore,” he told his wife. “We can’t travel anymore. We’re old. This is it.”

But thankfully, William’s doctor recognized some of his ailments as symptoms of normal condition hydrocephalus, a rare condition in which the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord doesn’t drain normally, which causes difficulty walking and leads to mental decline. William underwent surgery for the condition.

“I swear, before I left the hospital, I could walk without a cane,” he told The Birmingham News. “And I could just tell that my dementia was reversing itself. It was amazing.”

Almost a year later, Cobb is rejoicing in his return to health with the release of The Last Queen of the Gypsies, his first book in nine years.

The Last Queen of the Gypsies is a brilliant, quirky, highly readable story as compelling as it is fresh and original. The book interweaves the stories of Lester Ray, a 14-year-old boy who was deserted by his mother when he was a baby and has now escaped his abusive alcoholic father, and Minnie, a woman who was abandoned by her Gypsy family of migrant fruit pickers when she was 11— while they journey on parallel quests to find families they never really knew. It ranges from the Great Depression to the new millennium and from the panhandle of Florida, where the novel is basically set, to New York City during World War II, to the Georgia and Carolina coast, to Fort Myers and south Florida.

It seems Foreword reviewer Julie McGuire enjoyed this novel as much as we did: “In The Last Queen of the Gypsies, William Cobb masterfully parallels the stories of Minnie and Lester Ray, and the various colorful characters they meet along the way—including a dwarf named Virgin Mary Duck, the freakish crew of a traveling carnival—in a story of love and loss, hope and despair, and the resilience of the human spirit.”

This is one book I’m adding to my holiday wish list. Considering it for yours? Maybe this excerpt will sway you. You can also meet William Cobb on Nov. 17 at Page & Palette in Fairhope, Alabama. More details here.

Halloween isn’t just for ghosts–it’s for pirates too

Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast by Nancy RobertsIn this week’s Halloween blog series, we’ve visited spirits from Tennessee and North Carolina. This time we’re taking you to Barbados with Stede Bonnet, a not-so-ferocious pirate of the Atlantic from Nancy Roberts‘s Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast. While it’s not strictly ghost stories, this collection is filled with romance, danger, suspense, adventure—everything you’d find on board the terrifying pirate ships of the Atlantic coast. You can also find “Stede Bonnet,” along with Tuesday’s “Trick or Treat” tale in Boogers and Boo-Daddies: The Best of Blair’s Ghost Stories.

Things that go “bark!” in the night

Dogs can be as peculiar as people. Their relationship with humans is complex. In story after story from Southern homes, there is strong evidence that this relationship can extend beyond death.

Do dogs return from the other side to comfort and aid their human companions? You bet your buried bones they do.

So today we’re kicking off our Halloween ghost blog series with Ghost Dogs of the South, by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. This collection of twenty stories of man’s best friend “will not fail to charm even the most dour skeptics of supernatural phenomena,” according to Publishers Weekly. And to prove it, here’s one of our favorite tales from the book, as a little treat for you trick-or-treaters out there. It’s a little lengthy for a blog post, but well worth the read. Check back tomorrow (and every day this week!) for more spooks and ghosts.

Can’t get enough of Randy Russell? Check out his blog or Web site, or listen to Russell when he joined Big Blend Radio for this podcast, which aired last week.

Dogs can be as peculiar as people. Their relationship with humans is complex. In story after story from Southern homes, there is strong evidence that this relationship can extend beyond death.
Do dogs return from the other side to comfort and aid their human companions? You bet your buried bones they do.
So today we’re kicking off our Halloween ghost blog series with Ghost Dogs of the South, by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. This collection of twenty stories of man’s best friend “will not fail to charm even the most dour skeptics of supernatural phenomena,” according to Publishers Weekly. And to prove it, here’s one of our favorites, as a little treat for you trick-or-treaters out there. It’s a little lengthy for a blog post, but well worth the read. Check back tomorrow (and every day this week!) for more ghost and ghoulies.
__Trick or Treat
Nashville, Tennessee 

Mrs. Hammond Singleton was crazy, and so was her dog. Every kid in the neighborhood knew it. Her front yard in the Belmont Hillsboro area south of Vanderbilt University was entirely planted in clover instead of grass. She wore a bonnet whenever she went outside. An eleven-year-old in 1962 needed no more evidence than this to be convinced that the old lady was certifiably insane.
Mostly, though, Cindy Linn=s grandmother went bonkers on Halloween. She handed out apples to children who came to her door for treats. Not candied apples. Just apples. And that was only the beginning.
Mrs. Hammond Singleton kept a sack of acorns by the door, and every pirate, ballerina, fairy princess, and baseball player who came to her porch on Halloween had to reach into the sack and pull out an acorn and show it to her. Cindy=s grandmother would read each child=s fortune by looking closely at an acorn, upon which she could see a face, she said, but only on Halloween. Cindy=s grandmother held a lighted candle in one hand, by which to study the acorn in her other hand. She recited a poem while squinting at each one: AOn All Hallow=s Eve,/When the hour is very late,/Find an acorn in the garden./Upon it read your fate.@
AShe=s nuts,@ Cindy complained to her mother. AAnd so=s Preston. He follows us to every house. He=s always bumping into us. It isn=t fair.@
Preston was Mrs. Hammond Singleton=s Boxer. The dog had the run of the neighborhood. He liked Halloween more than Cindy=s grandmother did.
Cindy was a beatnik this year. She wore a black beret, black tights, and one of her father=s sweatshirts that came to her knees. She tied a red scarf around her neck and was allowed to wear her mother=s lipstick. She didn=t know for certain if beatniks wore lipstick. But Halloween was the only time Cindy was allowed to wear it, and she certainly wasn=t going to pass up the opportunity to wear lipstick on a night when she might see Ernie Rousch from across the street. Ernie was almost thirteen.
AHaving a dog behind me all night doesn=t go with my costume, Mom.@
Preston knew all the stops. He knew most of the kids in the neighborhood, too. His daily routine, as soon as Mrs. Hammond Singleton let him out of the house, was to secure the entire area. He made a series of rounds each day, six blocks in one direction, six in another, four this way, six that, and back.
Preston was a solitary inspector. He made sure every mailbox was in place. He checked the trees and bushes to see if they were growing as they should. He counted the bicycles, tricycles, and water sprinklers left on the lawns. He saw that the right cars were home and that the right cars were gone. He verified that the rolled newspapers that wouldn=t be picked up until the end of day were where they should be.
Dogs in fenced backyards along his route barked as Preston came by. They said hello or alerted him that small pieces of neighborhood were already ably guarded. Preston took down the information as a mental note but never barked back. He had work to do. He was too busy to play.

At one house, he was given a dog biscuit. The young housewife was there every day. If she wasn=t, the dog biscuit was sitting on her concrete step as a signal to Preston that everything was okay. In front of another home, a large tabby cat waited in the middle of the sidewalk. When Preston came by, the cat hopped up and followed him to the end of the block, keeping a respectful distance.
Preston possessed a deep sense of community responsibility. And he dearly loved Halloween. It was the one night of the year when people went out to learn his job. He was pleased to accompany them, even if the children were noisy and slow to learn. They couldn=t go sixteen steps without eating something.
When children stopped to tie a shoe or repair the rubber band on a mask, Preston hurried back to check on them. He=d even push them a little from the side if they took too long. Then it was important that he catch up to the front again. He would brush by others on the sidewalk to get to the place where he=d left off.
Preston followed Cindy and her friends every Halloween, bumping them when they went too slow, cutting them off if they tried to overlook a house. He=d hurry to the front door to show them where they were going. Then he=d fall back, bumping them once again, and wait on the sidewalk until they had learned the people who lived there and counted the things in the yard.
It was a marvelous job, really. And no dog was better prepared for Halloween duty than Preston. On top of which, being a white-chested, light tan Boxer with black markings, including the traditional black around both eyes, he already had a mask.
Cindy was instructed that she was not only going to her grandmother=s house this Halloween, she was going there first.
AShe=s looking for you, and you aren=t going to make her wait, young lady.@
AThere=s bees in her yard,@ Cindy complained, using up her last excuse.
ANot at night,@ her mother said. AAnd they won=t bother you anyway, if you stay on the sidewalk.@
When she was thirteen, she wasn=t doing this anymore, Cindy decided.
She hiked all the way to her grandmother=s house with Brenda and Julie, her two best friends.
AShe=ll ask you to sing,@ Cindy warned them.
But Brenda and Julie had been to Mrs. Hammond Singleton=s before on Halloween. They knew the routine. If you didn=t sing, you had to dance to get a treat. If you didn=t want to dance, you could get your treat by standing on one foot with your eyes closed.
Brenda and Julie stood behind Cindy when the door opened.
AHi, Grandma. It=s me,@ Cindy said.
Mrs. Hammond Singleton held the candle out in front of her as if she couldn=t believe her eyes.
ACindy?@ she asked. AAre you sure it=s you? I thought it was a movie star.@
Preston waited inside the door while the three girls chose acorns and had their fortunes told. Cindy would marry a man with a mustache and have eight children, four boys and four girls. Brenda would marry a sailor and have four children, all girls, who would marry sailors when they grew up. Julie would marry a preacher and live in a foreign country. India, Mrs. Hammond Singleton thought it would be, but she wasn=t sure it might not be China or Pakistan. They stood on one foot with their eyes closed while Cindy=s grandmother dropped an apple in each of their sacks.

AThank you, Grandma,@ Cindy said.
ADon=t go by the church tonight,@ Mrs. Hammond Singleton advised the girls. ACircle back the other way. The ghost doubles of those who are doomed to die during the coming year parade through the churchyard on Halloween.@
AOkay,@ Cindy said. AWe won=t.@
Preston trotted out the door as Cindy and her friends walked back to the street, giggling. The fortunes weren=t real ones. They were going to marry Elvis Presley, if they married anyone. Or maybe Ernie Rousch. He was almost thirteen and could probably grow a mustache if he wanted to.
Preston went to work counting houses. He took note of trick-or-treaters coming from the other direction. He crossed the street to take inventory, double-checking on the littlest children. Preston liked the littlest ones the best. They worked hard at it, with serious intent, and didn=t lollygag like the older kids. Once the newcomers were accounted for, Preston ran to catch up to Cindy and her friends.
Preston bumped into Cindy to let her know he was there.
ACut it out,@ she said.
They were getting close to Ernie=s house. That summer, Cindy had written her and Ernie=s initials in chalk on the sidewalk in front of his house. It was the bravest thing she=d ever done. If he were there tonight, he would see her in lipstick.
Ernie wasn=t home, but the girls could peer into the living room through the front window. They saw the couch where Ernie sat when he was home.
AAsk to use the bathroom,@ Julie said.
ANo!@ Cindy squealed. AYou ask.@
When they reached the next block, the girls talked about going back to Ernie=s house. He might be home by then.
In the middle of the block, a second-grader had dropped his sack of candy in the street. His older brother was already at the door of the next house. The little guy tried to pick up every piece of candy on the pavement. His Halloween mask made it a difficult task. But he wasn=t leaving any. The seven-year-old had worked hard for his treats.
Preston bumped Cindy again. This time, he was trying to get around her to the street. He was the only one who heard the car coming.
Cindy spun around to watch him. She=d never seen Preston run so fast.
Preston rushed with his head low and smacked hard into the little boy, who was bent over on his hands and knees. The Boxer hit the second-grader in the chest and pushed hard until his head was under the boy=s stomach. The sack hastily refilled with candy went flying. So did the little boy. He landed on his bottom six or seven feet from where he=d been when Preston made contact. It hurt.
The car hit Preston squarely. It squealed its brakes. The thud was loud and certain. Cindy saw it all. She screamed.
Parents separated themselves from the trick-or-treating children and ran to the street. Several had flashlights. The driver was a college student. He was quick to open the door. The little boy wailed.
AI didn=t hit the kid,@ the driver said.
The seven-year-old was swept up by one of the adults.

AHe=s okay,@ the man holding him said. AJust scared. You=re okay, aren=t you, cowboy?@
AI didn=t hit the kid,@ the driver said again. AI hit the dog.”
Cindy ran to the front of the car, looking for Preston. He hadn=t made a sound. He was surely dead or badly injured and about to die. She was afraid to find him, to see him crushed, but she had to. She looked to the front of the car, then to the left and to the right. He wasn=t anywhere.
AHe must have run off,” someone said. ADogs do that sometimes when they get hit. He=s probably okay, then. He probably went home.@
Cindy was crying. It was a horrible Halloween.
AHe saved the little kid=s life,@ Brenda said.
AEveryone saw him do it,@ Julie added. AWe all did.@
Cindy hurried home to tell her parents that Preston had been hit by a car. They=d have to look for him. Brenda and Julie came inside with her. They would help look. Brenda could call her father, and they could use his car.
AThat won=t be necessary,@ Cindy=s mother said. AAre you sure it was Preston, dear?@
AYes,@ Cindy said. AHe came with us from Grandma=s house. He was with us the whole time, like always. This little boy was in the street, and Preston ran ninety miles an hour and knocked him out of the way, and then the car hit him. It hit him real hard, Mom. Everyone heard it.@
AYou=re sure it was Preston? You all saw him?@
The three girls nodded.
AMaybe he=s back at Grandma=s house. Can you tell her, Mom? Please. I just can=t.@
AI thought she might have told you, dear,@ Cindy=s mother said. AI imagine she didn=t want to ruin your Halloween. Preston had cancer. He died at the vet=s yesterday.@

Almost fifty years later, there are still trick-or-treaters in the Belmont Hillsboro neighborhood of Nashville who get bumped by a dog if they go too slowly from house to house or stand too long in the middle of the street. An old woman who was a young housewife in 1962 leaves a dog biscuit on the concrete step in front of her house once a year. On Halloween.
The old woman makes the children sing or dance for her, or at least stand on one foot with their eyes closed, before she gives them a treat. She says she learned to do this from an old widow named Hamilton Singleton, who immigrated to this country from York, England, and who was as crazy as bees in clover. And so was her dog, Preston.


Can’t get enough of Randy Russell? Check out his blog (http://ghostfolk.blogspot.com/) or Web site (http://ghostfolk.com/), or listen to this podcast that aired last week (link in favorites)

The legendary balds of the Appalachian Trail

Yesterday we posted about Carolyn’s trips to the balds of Roan Mountain. This following is an excerpt from her book Touring the East Tennessee Backroads, second edition published in 2007. It explains some of the theories and legends behind what caused the “balds” in the Roan Mountain area. Big Hump and Hump mountains are peaks along the Appalachian Trail, near Roan Mountain, that feature balds.


For centuries, the 6,285-foot “bald” peak called Roan Mountain has been an area landmark not only because of its height, but also because of the distinctive appearance of its treeless summit. Generations of scientists have tried to explain why certain mountaintops in the 2,000- to 6,000-foot range in this part of the Appalachians will not support trees. Altitude and timberline are obviously not the answer, since nearby Mount Mitchell, at almost 7,000 feet, supports tree growth all the way to the top.

In 1938, a professor from Louisiana State University advanced the theory that wasp eggs laid in the trees were responsible for killing them off. Unfortunately, his theory failed to explain why the infestation did not spread and why eradication of the wasps did not result in reforestation. A botanist from North Carolina State University suggested that Indians had created the balds by continually burning off the mountaintops for their settlements. But evidence from archaeologists and anthropologists showed that Indians pre­ferred valleys near streams and never chose the tops of ridges for their villages.

As usual, when science fails, legend enters. In 1898, James Mooney recorded in his report to the Bureau of American Ethnology that the Cherokees had a mythological explanation for the origin of the balds. A Cherokee village was terrorized by a giant yellow jacket called Ulagu that swooped down, snatched up children, and quickly flew off into the distance. The ever-resourceful Cherokees posted sentinels on the tops of the mountains in order to track Ulagu to its lair, located in an inaccessible cavern. The Cherokees prayed to the Great Spirit for aid. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning split off the side of the mountain where Ulagu hid. The Indians then quickly fell on the monstrous insect and destroyed it.

According to Mooney, the Great Spirit was so pleased with the Cherokees’ “initiative in uncovering [Ulagu’s] hiding place, their piety in appealing for Divine aid in their extremity, and their bravery in the final combat, that it was His decree that in the future the tops of the highest mountains be bare of timber, to better serve as stations for sentries should another visitation occur.”

The Catawba Indians, who also frequented the area, had a different explanation. In 1849, Charles Lanman recorded in Letters from the Alleghany Mountains,

There once was a time when all the nations of the earth were at war with the Catawbas, and had proclaimed their determination to conquer and possess their country. On hearing this intelligence the Catawbas became greatly enraged, and sent a challenge to all their enemies, and dared them to a fight on the summit of the Roan. The challenge was accepted, and three famous battles were fought. The streams of the entire land were red with blood, a number of tribes became extinct, and the Catawbas carried the day. Whereupon it was that the Great Spirit caused the forests to wither from the three peaks of the Roan Mountain where the battles were fought, and wherefore it is that the flowers which grow upon this mountain are chiefly of a crimson hue, for they are nourished by the blood of the slain.

The Catawba legend is particularly accommodating because it accounts for another characteristic that helps to draw thousands of visitors to Roan Mountain each year. On the top of the Roan, there are six hundred acres of natural rhododendron gardens that put on a brilliant display of color each June.

In 1799, Scotsman John Fraser, under the patronage of the Russian govern­ment, made his third trip to the North Carolina-Tennessee mountains. It was during his journey up the Roan that he discovered a new plant, which he designated Rhododendron catawbiense. It is this plant, with its crimson-colored blooms, that attracts so many sightseers.

Roan Mountain also boasts an 850-acre forest of Fraser fir and spruce. The Fraser fir, named after the same John Fraser who christened the Catawba rhododendron, has become the rage in the domestic Christmas-tree industry, spawning a whole new source of income for local landowners.