Penland & Sons' front window

Penland & Sons’ front window

We had a terrific time at the Madison County Arts Council’s Holiday Sale this past weekend but one of the best things happened before the sale even began. A little backstory: When Whistling Woman was released in print, way back in 2012, we went by Penland & Sons Department store in Marshall and the owner bought six books. As each book came out, we kept saying we needed to go back and see if she wanted the other books in the series. But for some reason, we never made it back until last Friday afternoon before the holiday sale in Marshall.

Georgette Penland Shelton

Georgette Penland Shelton

We were very sorry to hear the owner had passed away but her daughter, Georgette Penland Shelton, had taken over for her mother. To our surprise, we found that Georgette had been buying our books off the Internet and keeping them in stock because they were so popular. She even had three of them displayed in her front window and told us she would have had all four out there but she was out of Wise Woman. She was almost as happy as we were that we happened to stop by and bought enough books so that she had six of each in the series.  And we hadn’t even set up our table at the holiday sale yet!

MCAC's Holiday Sale

MCAC’s Holiday Sale

After that, we went over to the festival and set up our booth. Then we walked over to Sweet Monkeys for an early dinner before we headed back to the sale. That’s us chatting with a reader and trying to stay warm. It was cold in there! The vendor across from us came over and told us she had bought all four books at the Mars Hill Heritage Festival in October to give to her stepfather for Christmas but had started reading Whistling Woman and liked it so much she decided to read all of them first before she gave them to him.

Spring Creek

Spring Creek

The next morning after a peaceful night’s sleep in our cabins (that’s the view from the back deck of Spring Creek–yep, the very same creek that is featured in Whistling Woman) we went to our favorite restaurant in Hot Springs for breakfast, the Smoky Mountain Diner. It was, as always, delicious but the think we liked most was finding a picture of our great-grandfather on the wall. It’s the second one on our “Meet the Characters” page with Great-grandpapa John in all his glory.

A couple of other great moments came at the sale later that day. A reader stopped by to tell us she had read the whole series and wanted to thank us for writing about a strong woman. Another was when a documentary film maker stopped by and said he’d heard about our books and wanted to read them. He bought Whistling Woman since it takes place in Hot Springs and Madison County is where he was currently filming.

But the absolute best moment of all was when Andrea (who was also our waiter the night before at Sweet Monkeys in Marshall) stopped by to buy Beloved Woman and told us her Appalachian History professor at University of North Carolina Asheville had our book on a list he gives out to all his students of recommended reads. First a Social Studies teacher and now a university professor. You can just imagine how thrilled we were to hear that!

Penland & Sons Interior

Penland & Sons Interior

Like I said it was a terrific weekend with lots of high points for us. Hope yours was the same. I’m going to leave you with a picture of the inside of Penland & Sons Department Store in Marshall, NC. If you’re ever in the area, stop in. It’s a beautiful store with tons of unique and interesting items.

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