My review on amazon, amazing book, My Blessed Wretched Life: Rebecca Boone’s Story

This fantastic book is your next Must-read!
For born and bred Kentuckians, and for every transplant that has fallen in love with our state, My Blessed, Wretched Life: Rebecca Boone’s Story is the book to read next. Sue Kelly Ballard transforms the true history of early Kentucky pioneer days into a gripping, touching, and realistic tale. It is not only the story of love that Rebecca has for her trail-blazing, hero husband, Daniel Boone, but also love for their family, including those who become close through sharing hardships and triumphs. With historical accuracy and a lyrical voice, the author depicts the magnetic beauty of the land itself, its high and low mountains, lakes and rivers, game-filled forests. She writes believably of the satisfaction when soul and body face hardship yet summon the strength to persist. Told in the voice of Rebecca, Sue Ballard brings us the unforgettable images of the cabin full of life, the pot cooking on the hearth, the strength of the mother reflected in the dear faces around her. This is an extremely well-written and important book for Kentucky. Submitted by Mary Popham, author of Back Home in Landing Run.

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Discussion of Regional Writers Groups

On Saturday, July 18, I am pleased to be on the Women Who Write panel discussing the Cherokee Roundtable as a regional writing group. The WWW conference will be held at the Louisville campus of Indiana Wesleyan University, 1500 Alliant Ave. Registration is $60 for WWW members, students and seniors, and $75 for all others. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. Online registration will soon open.

Jan Arnow, keynote speaker, will talk about writing nonfiction to support a passion or cause. Jan is an internationally known lecturer, peace advocate, and author of In the Line of Fire: Raising Kids in a Violent World and Teaching Peace: How to Raise Children to Live in Harmony—Without Fear, Without Prejudice, Without Violence.

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Why I am writing about Landing Run

April 23, 2015 – Mary Popham

Posted in The Round Table – Jousting, gauntlet-throwing and more-Spalding MFA group.

From the time I can remember I had planned to write about my family who settled in Central Kentucky beginning a few short years after the American Revolution. My mother was shy, but she taught me a story, “Jack Goes to Find His Fortune,” and encouraged me to tell it when we visited local relatives. This was before tv, and going to the homes of our kin, who lived within a mile radius, was our best entertainment. I found later, that the story my mother had learned from her older cousin, was part of the “Jack Tales,” an English fairy tale, “How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune.”

After I had earned $10 for a published poem, I decided I could call myself a writer, and began to collect family information. This was the story that had been, and still is, locked in my heart, waiting for me to write it. My ancestors were storytellers and letter writers and my family is fortunate to have saved these from past generations. I began writing about Landing Run in midlife, 1993. Although I have lived in the city of Louisville for fifty-five years, this small community in the knobs of Central Kentucky is the place that feels like home. It is now a place of fantasy that I write about. It is 1910, and the little community where both sides of my family have lived. I dream of building a fire in the fireplace, cooking three meals a day for a husband, children, parents, an older relative left without anyone, milking a cow, taking the butter and cheese to the springhouse, gathering eggs, making my own quilts, tending my garden and putting up the produce, picking berries, digging a place in the ground to store the potatoes in winter, gathering herbs from the woods to cure a cough, heal broken skin, setting a trap to catch a rabbit to fry and make gravy for supper, carrying water from the creek to a washtub and scrubbing overalls on a scrub board, hanging sheets on a clothesline on a sunny day. I dream of trading slips of flower cuttings with neighbors who are also kin to me, traveling on horseback to visit on a Sunday afternoon, when no work is allowed. Sitting in the house in a rocking chair with a glass of iced tea and talking about who is expecting—said in an undertone—about whether it will rain so the crops won’t be ruined, commiserating on who was killed in the war, finding out which young people are “talking to one another” and if they will get married, reminiscing about what the old-timers did, telling moonshine stories—who got caught and who got away. And always, there are the details of being Catholic: going to church, saying grace, making visits during Forty Hours, giving to the collection, not doing things you want to because they are “sins,” what will happen if you do those things. Also, saying the rosary, making the stations, learning the beatitudes, the sacraments, knowing what is forbidden: lying, stealing, cheating of course, and also that you must not keep company with a non-Catholic, must never miss Mass, or neglect “making your Easter.” In my first novel, Back Home in Landing Run, I wanted to tell, not the truth of what happened to real people in that place and time, but of the land itself, rocky hillsides filled with trees and wildflowers, a primitive road with a creek running through it, the song of a whippoorwill calling out in the quiet of a moonlit night, and the ways of the good, gentle hard-working people who lived there, and yet, their negative views and the impact of having a Protestant girl move into their personal place. At present I am writing the sequel, Return to Landing Run, in which I am writing more about those home-bound, hills-loving, religious minded, plain-living, good and generous folk.

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Entering Through the Kitchen – April 11, 2015 – Sat. 9:30 – Noon

Entering Through the Kitchen—Using food and domestic details for story.

Saturday, April 11, 9:30 to Noon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMary Popham, MFA, is a novelist, poet, literary critic and short story writer. In her own writing, she has discovered the value of using food and domestic details to set scene and define character. In “Entering Through the Kitchen,” Mary will use diverse works of literature as examples to model—such as A Christmas Carol, My Antonia, Julia Child’s Menu Cookbook, and Like Water for Chocolate.  Participants in this class will write food details into existing or new stories.

Mary’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays,book reviews have appeared in the Courier-Journal; LEO; New Southerner; Appalachian Heritage; and The Louisville Review. Her novel Back Home in Landing Run was published by MotesBooks. She is a member of the Cherokee Round Table.

Class is $25.  Please register in advance by e-mailing Kimberly at or call 502-417-3424.

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Mary Popham reading with Spalding group on January 23 at The Wild Fig Bookstore

THE WILD FIG BOOKSTORE, 1439 Leestown Rd, Lexington, Kentucky 40511, presents Spalding at the Fig beginning January 23. They are inviting five-six Spalding alums, current students, faculty, etc. to read from their work and will have copies of everyone’s books. They sell books of every kind … plus a cup or two of coffee. The Wild Fig Bookstore opened on June 20, 2011 and offers quality used books and a few recent new releases. Owned by artist and poet Ron Davis and fiction writer Crystal Wilkinson, The Wild Fig strives to be a place for Lexington’s book lovers and writers to gather for coffee and words. See for our latest events. Weekdays, Saturdays and as far as Sunday–sometimes we are open by noon but you can be sure to catch us if you come at 2 p.m. Phone (859) 381-8133   Email

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Signing and reading at A Reader’s Corner, Louisville

Saturday, November 29th from 1 to 3.

Book-signing and reading of Christmas Greetings: An Anthology by the Cherokee Roundtable of Louisville, Kentucky. In support of independent book sellers on Small Business Saturday, we are meeting at A Reader’s Corner, 2044 Frankfort Ave., Louisville KY 40206. –502-895-7783. Owners Judy and Tim Fout are setting us up to read and sign our CRT Anthology on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

As you may know, “Acclaimed author Sherman Alexie has launched Indies First, a grassroots movement that calls on authors to show their support for independent booksellers by signing up to work at their favorite indie bookstore on Small Business Saturday…” and this year the date is November 29.

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Shared with TripAdvisor – Re: The Lovely Conrad-Caldwell Mansion in Louisville

During the first week of October, at the annual St. James Art Show in Louisville, I had the pleasure of volunteering as a tour guide for the Conrad-Caldwell house on St. James Court. On Day One, I was stationed in the Billiards Room on the third floor where I enjoyed the questions of tourists and meeting new people. During one memorable moment, I watched the vivacious and intrepid Executive Director of the mansion, Ally Wroblewski, hang out of the third floor window to tie ropes from a gigantic plastic poster around gable posts while assuring me that she felt quite safe. As a writer, I love obscure stories and was intrigued by a postcard on a wall display in the Billiards Room that showed in photographs the history of the Ohio River trade. The postcard’s long-ago message reads: “Hope you are well and in good health make me some candy and send me am nearly starving.” The most pertinent facts on my info sheet describe how the Conrad-Caldwell house was finished in 1885 at a cost of $75,000.00, an enormous amount at the time. Mr. Conrad was in the leather business and it was a retirement home for him and Mrs. Conrad. It was W. E. Caldwell who had moved to Louisville in 1885, and prospered in a water tank business, who purchased the home in 1905. Mrs. Caldwell took two years to make improvements and added the touches that make the inside of the house a glorious wonder. Mr. Caldwell’s water tanks were not only for the city and big businesses, but were also used in making vats for silos, distilleries, etc. One example is a sign made by his company which is an advertisement—an Old Forrester Bottle replica that hung on the Brown-Forman property for decades. On the second day of my volunteer work, I was stationed on the second floor, guiding people through the bedrooms of Grace Caldwell, Mr. Caldwell, the family sitting room, and the guest room—for eleven months of the year. During one month each year it served as the sewing room where a lady stayed while traveling from home to home—spending one month at each to do their sewing. What a life she must have had! There was also the housekeeper’s room. We were told that many years later, after the first Mrs. Caldwell had died, the master married the housekeeper. Quite a difference in the bedroom she inherited from the one where she had stayed as housekeeper. My third volunteer experience was yesterday, in the Library on the first floor, trimming a tree for Christmas. The decorations were in baskets, and we hung homemade ornaments, feathers, pine cones, strings of artificial berries, and big shiny bows on the lighted branches. It made one beautiful tree of several in this splendid house. I enjoyed a discussion with Barb Caldwell Huber, docent and great-granddaughter of Grace and W. E. Caldwell. She told of her daddy’s stories, of the ghosts seen in the mansion, and spoke of many interesting facets of the history of her ancestors’ house, including the dumb waiter, the inter-com, the wheat patterns in the woodwork that depict wealth and abundance. Barb is a kind and interesting woman, and she invited me back. “On December 6th & 7th, 2014, the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum will host its 8th Annual Victorian Tea in conjunction with the Old Louisville Holiday Homes Tour. Set within the Conrad-Caldwell House, decked out in Holiday decor, this traditional Victorian Tea will feature sweet and savory treats as well as a selection of teas. All proceeds from this tea will benefit the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. For more information contact the Museum office at 502-636-5023.  Space is limited …Tickets are $30 per person…After Tea get your fill of festive cheer at the 58th Old Louisville Holiday Homes Tour! Good cheer and tidings of the season abound as visitors to this one-of-a-kind national historic preservation district tour nine neighborhood dwellings that have been lovingly decked in old-world finery and festive holiday décor.”

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