Sharing Some Good News

A few of you reading this have been following this dog and pony show since the early days (five years ago almost to the day). Suffice it to say that when this epic began, the destination was far from certain. In late March, 2002, the handwriting was on the wall, and it bode ill for my professional future.

I knew I would not continue to dig the same hole deeper. Just where I would plant my spade, and what treasure I would find there in the next excavation into the future, I did not know. But I had the strong and abiding notion there was treasure just outside my door, through my window that looks across at our barn and field. But what was it?

The blog started that month, and the mantra “write every day, write from the heart, write what you know” became the first thing in my mind when I awoke every morning.

And four years later, this week of this month last year, the manuscript for Slow Road Home was in the hands of Edwards Brothers, Inc. Soon, 1000 books would arrive on my doorstep.

And yesterday, five years from the inception of Fragments from Floyd, I learned that Slow Road Home – a Blue Ridge Book of Days will be acquired for distribution in all the Blue Ridge Parkway gift shops and book stores along the 469 mile length of the National Park.

The “reach” of the book is extended many-fold by this means of dispersal, and will find a population of readers to whom I very much wanted to speak. This news, for me, is a major encouragement and reassurance. And so, I wanted to let you know just where the slow road has carried us, you and me, here at the five year mark into the unknown.

And what chapter will unfold by this time NEXT early spring?

Hard frost last night. Sky is pinking up. The reflection of the woodstove flames dance orange against the windowpane, framing an utter calm, cold landscape beyond the glass. The barn roof is white, the butterfly bush outside my window limp with ice crystals fringing every curled and faded leaf.

How womblike-the warmth of the stove, the familiar touch of chair and desk, this old flannel shirt I wear as if it were my birth skin. I love this place, so constant, so fully known and at hand. This place: this room, this house, this valley, these mountains, this time in our lives. Especially now, as winter creeps closer and the days grow short, I appreciate the roof overhead, the full stacks of firewood, the canning in the basement and slow moments like this to see our blessings, the ordinary that we too often take for granted.

We can’t know what’s coming around the bend in the road. But it has been a very nice road, that’s for sure.
from the last page of
Slow Road Home ~ a Blue Ridge Book of Days

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, congratulations on the success of your book. And thank you for sharing your corner of America. I always enjoy your blog as I take my morning coffee here in the southwestern desert with a climate and lifestyle oh-so-different than yours. I often learn and always smile from your heartfelt visions.

  2. This is great news, “Dad.” 🙂 Does this mean the gift shops will handle the headaches of ordering & stocking inventory rather than you having to do that yourself? Given the traffic through those gift shops, getting your book placed there is a major coup. I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

  3. Congratulations indeed! This is BIG, the perfect outlet for your book. The Blue Ridge Parkway is such a special place to visit, and your pictures of it are wonderful, I have enjoyed looking at them. I even mentioned them on a recent post of mine.

    I enjoyed the book, also, and am glad that it will be available to all those travelers who go into the giftshops, enamored with the area and ready to take home a bit of it.

  4. wow, fred! that IS great news!! and it will definitely be interesting to see what is around the bend……

  5. Thanks, all, yes i feel as if my little seeds have been lofted up a bit into the wind now and may travel to good soil north and south. And Lorianne, that’s right–I don’t do anything, they will order monthly from the distributor, 35 in the first order and hopefully that number will grow IF there is any demand as summer parkway travel increases. We’ll see.

  6. I wanted to say something insightful. I can’t seem to come up with anything other than congratulations.

    You better get busy on that second offering though…Everyone knows those tourists on the Parkway like the big colorful picture books. Once they get a taste of “Slow Road Home” they are gonna’ wanna’ see it…

  7. Things ARE looking up! The Parkway gift shops are a good fit for your book. I sold necklaces at Mabry Mill for a time, but since then they have gotten harder to get an in on.

  8. As a tousist who bought a book of Blue Ridge photos while traveling the Parkway, I knew your book would be an excellent fit for what tourists want to buy there. I am so excited that the gift shop folks could see that, too. Now you have a ready made outlet for your next book!! Perfect.

  9. congratulations fred. so happy all your hard work is now paying off. long may it continue.I look forward to the next ” episode “.
    My day usually starts with fragments, and sets me up for the day. a completely different lifestyle here in england, we can dream !!

  10. Just look at all of these comments!! You have a regular fan club! Congratulations, Fred! Here’s to continued success along the road. Georgia

  11. Fred, I actually just did a little posting on my blog about your book as I have enjoyed it so much! I am pleased to learn of your success and to know that it will now reach even more people. Thanks.