A Contest . . . A Discount . . . And a Research Trip to the Deli

You just never know what you might find at the local WalMart deli. On Sunday, I went in to do my weekly grocery shopping and patiently waited my turn at the deli counter. A nice man was assisting several customers, of which I was the last. I asked for a pound of thinly sliced Virgina Ham, and what I got was a research gold mine.

First, this gentleman told me that the meat was technically Virginia Smoked Ham, though they just added a little flavor to it these days instead of smoking it to preserve it like they did back in the day – letting it hang in a smoke house for months and carving off pieces as they needed. He apparently grew up in a small Virginia town in the 1960’s that still had a mercantile. And one day when he was off exploring the woods as a kid, he smelled popcorn and followed his nose. It turned out he’d stumbled across a “shiner” making corn whiskey. The man had a shotgun and a dog, but our intrepid deli man was not afraid. He’d been reading up on the art of making moonshine in the Foxfire books, you see.

To learn more about the Foxfire project, click here.

What are the Foxfire books, you might ask? Well, they are a series of books chronicling the lost arts of survival in the wild as revealed by the residents of Appalachia who preserved this historic way of life by being closed off from the rest of the world. Well, as soon as I got home with my lovely deli ham, I had to look these books up. Sure enough, first published in 1972, The Foxfire Book set to paper everything you need to know about hog dressing, log cabin building, soap making, basket weaving, planting by the signs, preserving foods, making butter, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, and–you guessed it–moonshining.

My research brain quickly began taking notes. What a treasure trove of concrete knowledge for a historical writer! Apparently the first Foxfire book was so popular, they came out with 11 additional volumes covering such topics as: wagon making, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, springhouses, horse training, wood carving, knife making, cheesemaking, ironmaking, blacksmithing, flintlock rifles, bear hunting, cucumber dolls, wooden locks, shoemaking, and water-powered sawmills just to name a few.

Who knew that visiting the deli would uncover such research riches?

No Other Will Do On Sale!

The first book in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series is on sale just in time to prepare you for the release of Heart on the Line (book 2) next month.

Emma and Malachi’s story is on sale for only $2.99 (or less – Amazon’s price has been as low as $1.99) for the entire month of May. Yay! Grab a copy or email a copy to a friend. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift, too. Instant delivery for less than the cost of a card.

Click here to download from Amazon. It’s available on Nook and all other digital retailers as well.

Fun Giveaway!

And that’s not all . . .

There’s another big giveaway going on with BookSweeps. Two of the Fillies are participating – me and Margaret Brownley. All you have to do to enter is follow us on either Amazon or BookBub. Pretty painless. I’m giving away my RITA nominated novella, The Husband Maneuver. All the books in this grouping are classified as Christian historicals.

The more authors you follow, the greater your chance of winning.

  • Grand Prize – Kindle Fire and all the books in the overall promotion (including the other categories of historical romance such as Regency, Scottish, American, etc.)
  • First Prize – All the books in the Christian Historical Romance category
  • Second Prize – $25 gift card to the book store of your choice

Click here to enter the contest.

  • So what is the strangest place you have ever learned something interesting?
Karen Witemeyer
Winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and two-time RITA finalist, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance for Bethany House believing the world needs more happily ever afters ... and hunky cowboy heroes. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. She makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

17 Comments

  1. On line for customs on a cruise ship

    1. That sounds intriguing, Debra. What did you learn?

  2. The Foxfire books sound very interesting. The guy at your Walmart sure turned out to be a useful source of information. I can’t think of any unusual places where I got information. Maybe your blog today is it.

    1. Ha! That counts. 🙂

  3. Oh my gosh! How could I have forgotten about the Foxfire books! I remember owning one when they first came out! It was so interesting to read through. That was back in my “Mother Earth” days and I was fascinated by everything of the past and how people lived off the land. (Come to think of it, I haven’t strayed too far from that interest but instead of thinking how to actually live like that, now I just incorporate it in my writing!)

    What a fun discovery for you at the deli!

    1. Kathryn – You made me laugh with your “Mother Earth” days. Ha! I agree about loving to learn about how people lived off the land, though. It’s fascinating. And wonderful research fodder.

  4. Visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum, I learned that there is only one river that flows north into the United States. It is the San Pedro river south of Tucson, Arizona

    1. What a fun fact! Love it, Joye. 🙂

  5. Jerome Arizona mineral mine the owners built a hotel for the employees around 1920. The house and the mine is still there but the hotel burnt down but there are photos in the house was the first mine owner I heard of who did that for the employees.

    1. I love fun historical facts like that, Kim. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Don’t you love those random fun fact times and places? I have had so many interestingly random fun conversations like that. I love to go to back road places and just talk to locals. I’ll have to look up those books!

    1. I’m usually too shy to make conversation with locals, but this guy took all the extrovert on himself. I just had to smile and nod. Ha! I bet you’ve heard some great stories, Susan!

  7. At the museum in my small town you find out random facts. Like the hamburger came from smushed meatballs at the fair.

    1. I never knew that! That’s a great piece of trivia, Donamae. 🙂

  8. Seymour Wisconsin is the home of the hamburger. We have a festival every year with a parade and hot air balloons.

  9. I was in the Peace Corps 1968 to 1971 and learned many interesting things both in the country to which I was assigned and those others I visited. In Bali, I learned they file the teeth of young teen girls. I attended a filing. The poor girl just lies there, and the “official” uses a regular rasp file to file her teeth to points. It had to hurt. The country has become more westernized, so the practice may no longer exist except in remote areas.
    I purchased most of the Foxfire books. We were interested in using some of the things they talked about. We are from and were living in the Northeast at the time. Never did I ever think I would be living in the area they depict. When my husband retired from the Air Force, we moved to NE TN in the heart of Appalachia. Much of what is discussed in the book is still part of life here. My son who is a blacksmith, among other things, was commissioned to make a copper still for an acquaintance. There are several moonshine distilleries in the area.

    1. That is fascinating, Patricia! Those poor girls in Bali. I hope that tradition fades completely. On the other hand, I love that your son has learned the blacksmith trade and is keeping those skills alive. It would be a great shame to lose all that knowledge. As much as I love my computer, something I think we miss out with our dependence on technology.

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