A! Magazine for the Arts

 Chrissie Peters is one of number of writers who have chosen to publish their works themselves using a combination of online and traditional methods.

Chrissie Peters is one of number of writers who have chosen to publish their works themselves using a combination of online and traditional methods.

Chrissie Peters publishes Poetry, Prose Collection

August 7, 2012

For Chrissie Anderson Peters, her writing life started in fourth-grade with a poem about Snoopy and snow on his French toast.

By Chrissie's admission, it was a bad poem, but her teacher loved it and encouraged her to keep writing. It was just what Chrissie needed at the time as her mother was going through a divorce and didn't have a lot of extra time to nurture a fourth-grader.

"I came to writing more or less as an escape. I enjoyed the fact it brought me a certain amount of attention and didn't take away from the things my mom was doing to get through with the divorce and get on with her life," said Chrissie, a native of Tazewell, Va. "I've always loved writing and the aspect of people enjoying what I've written."

That lifelong love of writing recently culminated in the publication of Dog Days and Dragonflies, a collection of poetry, and fictional and nonfictional prose that covers themes such as Appalachia, childhood, growing up, family, and church. Most of the pieces have been written since 2005 except for one poem she wrote as a high school senior that garnered a first place tie at the Chautauqua Festival in Wytheville.

Chrissie is one of number of writers who have chosen to publish their works themselves using a combination of online and traditional methods to reduce lengthy publishing times and save money. She opted to usecreatespace.com, a sister company of Amazon.com, that gave her the tools to become an indie publisher.

"When I started bringing the book together my intent was just for me to have all my writing that had been published in one place," Chrissie said. "However, it's every writer's goal to share his or her writing and hopefully have folks see themselves or their lives in that writing, so I added some stories and poems that had not been published. I really wanted to get it out there for my three living grandparents so they could have a copy and read it."

Chrissie said one of her greatest enjoyments as a writer is being able to tell stories that keep her family's history and memories alive. She spends a good amount of time with older family members – especially her grandparents – recording bits of conversations and recollections that often will spin themselves into a poem or story.

"I love telling my family stories – even the dark ones, which upsets my grandmother," Chrissie said. "Even if you're not writing your family's history, which you should be, you should be recording it somewhere because someone somewhere is going to have questions. It's so sad when the stories and the facts behind them are lost."

The first story in the book deals with a young girl's pre-school days spent at her great-grandmother's house. The girl helps her great-grandmother fasten on her prosthetic leg each morning, watches her hand-roll cigarettes, helps her cook dinner – lunch in those days – and watches soap operas while the older woman provides a running commentary about the errant lives of the TV characters. Every day was much the same, but solid with warmth and security.

In another - Learning to Drive – a girl's grandfather agrees to teach her how to drive, only the old gentleman spends most of the day talking about driving while loading hay bales in a field – never giving the girl a turn behind in the wheel. Finally, he relents which results in a hilarious sequence of bad braking that sends hay bales flying everywhere.

In the more modern day tale of Corey's Quarry, a girl attending a fun-filled festival in Salem, MA, learns of the story of Giles Corey, a victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Corey was slowly crushed by rocks placed on him to elicit a confession. The girl's fun adventure vanishes as she realizes the real history of the festival. Ultimately, she comes to appreciate Corey's last words of "more weight" as a way to live life more completely.

Chrissie said she really became serious about her writing in 2005 after taking a creative writing course at Northeast State under Tamara Baxter. She followed it with another creative writing class and an Appalachian literature course with Gretchen McCroskey, who has since retired from the College. She has also attended several writing workshops in the region and finds the support and camaraderie a definite inspiration for her writing.

She especially likes the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln Memorial University where attendees get to stand up and announce, "I am a writer."

"Most of us don't think of ourselves primarily as writers. We're librarians, we're teachers, we're parents, or whatever. I find it empowering to stand up and say I'm a writer. I always look forward to that at the conference because it renews my faith in me as a writer. If you don't call yourself a writer, then it's hard to think of yourself as a writer," Chrissie said.

Chrissie said she tries to write every day, even if it's just a paragraph or two. She also jots down ideas for stories or lines for poems that she keeps in a notebook.

"The key is just getting those things down – then I like to go back to that notebook and see what happens," she said.

For Chrissie, there's no doubt one of the biggest thrills about Dog Days and Dragonfiles is the book's listing on Amazon.com. Published June 8, 2012, the book is available in paperback and Kindle versions.

"It was so exciting to be listed on Amazon – who doesn't want their book on Amazon," Chrissie said. "I still like to go there and look at it – oh my gosh – there's my book."

Author George Ella Lyon said this about the book: "If you're looking for a brave vision in a new voice, Dog Days and Dragonflies ins the book for you. Chrissie Anderson Peters' stories of friendship, hardship, family love and betrayal will stay with you long after the last page."

Silas House, author of Same Sun Here and Parchment of Leaves, said "Chrissie Anderson Peters takes us into the complicated, dark, and beautiful heart of contemporary Appalachia with these intriguing stories, essays, and poems."

She graduated from Tazewell High School, and completed her bachelor's degree in English/Education from Emory & Henry College. She received her master's degree in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee. She currently works as a librarian at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tenn. She resides in Bristol, Tenn., with her husband, Russell, and their feline children.

For more information, check out her Web site at www.ChrissieAndersonPeters.com, or e-mail her at TheWriteWayToGo@gmail.com.