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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Steele Agosta

I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Three years ago, I began the research for my camp meeting book, Two Weeks Every Summer. Made my husband drive around all one Saturday, so I could take photos of some of the oldest buildings in the area. They are fast disappearing. As I really dove into the research, using the library’s county history section, various online websites, books written by local historians, old maps and old photographs, I began to realize that although I’d been a resident here since 1975, there was a lot about the history that I hadn’t known.

Now I’ve finished writing the twenty stories that – hopefully – create a window into what people’s lives were like over the past 190 years. I’m done with the creative part and working on the technical aspect. Getting the book edited, formatted, and designing the book cover.

I’ve written four other books. I’ve been down this path before. But this time feels different. Maybe because I’ve worked on the book for so long. Maybe because of the events of this year – the quarantine, being forced to spend most of my time cooped up at home. Maybe because, this time, I’m so much hoping that I’ve created something that’s lasting, that will be around after I’m gone. These stories have been a joy to write. (Frustrating at time, yes! But a joy.) They are entirely fictional, yet so much inspired by the history of the Rock Spring camp meeting, and the history of this area – Denver, Terrell, Sherrills Ford – and even the history of the United States. They include references to three wars, a famous and devastating flood, a fire and an earthquake, changes in fashions, lifestyles, technology and expectations. The characters have become real to me, and I care about how they will be received by the readers.

Today, there was a photo shoot over at the campground. This is a new experience for me. My previous books used either stock photos or a family photo taken years ago. This time I went about recreating a photo taken at camp meeting in 2012, which has always inspired me, but which had technical issues that made it unsuitable. We got together, me and my crew, and set things up. Hung a porch swing, laid down some carpeting, set out plants and chairs, worried about the intensity of sun and shade. The ‘we’ included my husband, Matt, my daughter-in-law Brittany (our photographer), my niece Blythe (our model), and my sister, Jacki, who is one of the owners of the tent and also served as key grip, props master and best boy. All of them there on a hot, humid morning to help me bring a dream to life.

So, yes, I get by with a little help from my friends. My very supportive family, my editor, various people in the community who’ve helped me with research, the Eastern Lincoln Historical Society, the Charles Jonas Library writers’ group, and the Florence Shanklin Library book club, who actually gave me the impetus for writing the book when I learned they would be reading and reviewing one of my other books at a club meeting. I knew I’d be asked whether I had anything else in the works, and I didn’t want to say No. A writer (well, this writer, anyway) can fluctuate wildly between confidence and a terrible lack thereof, so none of this could have been possible without these friends.

I’m not going to show you the cover photo quite yet. But watch this space.

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