Friday, September 16, 2016


I’m not sure when I started to think I might have gotten in over my head. 

Maybe it was when the artist organizer of the Marshall Patchwork Multimedia Art and Fashion Show, brought out the “string dresses” she’d made for a long-ago Mardi Gras, that resembled—no, that were—wildly colored sweater dresses covered with threads of synthetic Spanish moss.

Yarn hairdo and elaborate makeup--but it works for her!
Maybe it was when I had to say—a few times—that I really didn’t need elaborate makeup and a yarn hairdo for the event.

Maybe it wasn’t until the actual evening of the show, when the place was packed, the models were dressing in their unpredictably fabulous costumes, it was a hundred degrees in the old building, and I had to talk one of the designers (my friend) off a proverbial ledge before she agreed to go on. (“This is a circus,” she said. “I don’t do circuses.”)

But this was Marshall, my new adopted home town, and my friend and I shouldn’t have worried. In the end, the show was AMAZING, everyone who participated had a blast and the audience loved us! Quirky is Marshall’s middle name—right there before North Carolina. How could we go wrong with a show that featured music, art, fashion (not the kind you wear, but the kind that draws interest), and, of course, science fiction romance?

The multimedia event was the brainchild of Lois Simbach, a long-time resident of Marshall and a professional artist in several media, including fabric arts. In the carefree way of most artists, Lois just thought, well, let’s have a show, with the theme of “patchwork—all the many things that make up our mountain community.” She asked her friends to join in, with hanging pieces for the walls at the Madison County Arts Council, and fashion pieces, music and, ahem, readings for the show. 

Lois Simbach, Marshall Patchwork show organizer, in her string dress.
Living paper dolls from the Marshall Patchwork show.
And more living dolls from the show!
That’s where I come in. Lois is my friend—she asked me to do a reading from my new book, Fools Rush In. And, like most writers, I’ll do anything to sell a book. So I found myself among all these wonderful visual artists, a fish out of water, certainly, but willing nonetheless.

As the night of the show approached, one thing became clear. The fashion show would be wild, crazy and liable to bring the house down. So I asked to go first on the program. I figured I would have to overcome a fair amount of noise from the folks circulating with drinks from the bar, since the first hour of our 6:00-8:00 p.m. program was reserved for “beer, wine and conversation.” And, sure enough, when I began at 7:00, people kept talking in the back for a while. But about half-way through my excerpt from Fools Rush In (edited to a PG rating), I noticed things got quiet. And the audience stayed with me until the end, their final applause much more than polite. Later, complete strangers came up to say they’d really enjoyed hearing me read. According them, I didn’t sound nervous at all! 

Well, at least SOMEBODY'S listening!
Personally, I was just glad to have my part of the show over with so I could enjoy the fun. And, man, was it some kind of raucous entertainment! The pictures here don’t begin to tell the story. I do love my new home town. And I love even more being the author-in-residence!

Photos courtesy Colby Sexton, Marshall NC and Graeme Frelick, Marshall NC

Cheers, Donna


  1. Sounds like a great quirky way to promote your books and enjoy your multi-talented neighbors, while you were at it. Kudos for so boldly going where no local author had gone before.


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