Category Archives: Lifestyles

Bolton publishes debut novel

When LaFollette-born Native J.E. Bolton started writing at the age of twelve, I‘m sure he had no idea what he once considered a hobby would someday make him a bestselling independent author.

His debut novel, FOREVER AND A DAY, stayed in the number one position on Smashwords Distribution’s Fictional Drama Bestseller list for an unprecedented ten weeks in a row. It’s also a Barnes & Noble five-star rated book, and there’s even talks of a possible upcoming book review by Publisher’s Weekly in their Indie author section.

The Volunteer Times sat down with Mr. Bolton, as he allowed us a glimpse into FOREVER AND A DAY and its impact on his life, both professional and personal.

TVT: Tell us about FOREVER AND A DAY.

JEB: It’s a story about a young man who was abandoned by his father at the age of five years. Twenty-five years later, he reunites with his father due to unforeseen circumstances. In the process, the young man learns about redemption, forgiveness and what it truly means to love again. It’s indeed a novel about the power of second chances.

TVT: How long did it take you to write this novel?

JEB: A little over a year. The truth is I didn’t want to write this particular novel.

TVT: What do you mean you “didn’t want to write” it?

JEB: It’s was too personal for me to write, and in a lot of ways it was a very painful process.

TVT: So, you’re saying there’s parts in this novel you’ve personally experienced yourself.

JEB: Parts of it, yes. Much like the main character, I also came from a broken home and my father was dying of cancer. I had to relive a lot of memories I had of my own father in order to authenticate the main character. When this novel was finally written, I read it and wept. I finally understood why I had to write it. In the end, this book was my dad’s last gift to me.

TVT: What part in the book really speaks to you emotionally more than any other part in the book?

JEB: The end, definitely. Of course, I can’t give that part away. Let’s just say I have yet to hear a person tell me they felt the ending was very powerful. It’s also part of my beliefs and what I feel will happen one day.

TVT: Are you still close with your other family members and are they in your book as well?

JEB: Not as much as the father and son characters. Both my mom and stepmother are very much alive and I have a great relationship with them both. I also keep in contact with my sisters and step brother every now and then. We live our own lives and don’t get to see one another as much as we‘d like, but when we do visit one another we always have a wonderful time together.

TVT: What was it like to see your book published for the first time?

JEB: The feeling’s indescribable. Windy Brock Galyon, an award-winning artist and one of my best friends, did the book cover art and did a superb job. Also, when you see your book being sold in the same online bookstores as every author you’ve ever looked up to your entire life, there’s nothing like it in the world. It’s like, “Hmm…the quiet kid’s finally being taken seriously.” [laughing]

TVT: Who are your favorite authors and biggest inspiration?

JEB: Marcia Muller, J.K. Rowling, Robert Frost, Ransom Raggs, Cassandra Claire, and the list continues to grow. My greatest inspiration would have to be the love of my life. When you have someone wonderful who supports you regardless, that, and an unshakable belief in the talents God gave you, motivates you more than anything else does.

TVT: What is your greatest accomplishment with this book so far?

JEB: I had the great pleasure working with book editor and author Michael Garrett. He was also the first book editor for bestselling authors Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates. Also. watching your dreams come to life is great as well. When you see all the hard work and the late nights working finally paying off, you suddenly realize the sacrifice wasn’t in vain.

TVT: Where can people purchase or obtain more information about your book?

JEB: Anybody can go to my website, It will let them know all the book retailers who carry my book for purchase, as well as any other information they‘d like to know about me or my current and future writing projects. Readers can also follow my author page on Facebook (

TVT: Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

JEB: Write something everyday, even if it’s just a paragraph. Nothing writes itself. Also, never stop learning about the writing business, and understand it is a business. Read every book about writing and editing, attend workshops and learn from the best. Most of all, learn to accept constructive criticism and never give up on your dreams. If your determination is unwavering and you follow through to the end, then anything is possible.

The Weekend Getaway: Bald River Falls

Approximately two hours south of LaFollette, just off I-75, a lovely drive through Tellico Plains will lead you on a meandering, peaceful drive into the Cherokee National Forest on the Cherohala Skyway. Near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, time seemingly slows as you make your way along the Tellico River, enjoying some of Mother Nature’s finest work. The autumn leaves are coming into their own, and are mirrored in the deeper pools along the river. Natural cascades entice the driver to stop at one of the many roadside “pull-overs” and get out so as to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Farther up the mountain, the well-paved road will lead you to a sight to behold. The trip is well worth the wait when you reach the joining of the Bald, North, and Tellico Rivers. A bridge marks the focal point of the journey: the Bald River Falls. These majestic falls are surely one of the most beautiful in East Tennessee. The falls cascade down the natural formation of rock to culminate into a clear, deep pool, and then join with the Tellico River.

There are opportunities for all to enjoy the beautiful falls and surrounding areas. Those who choose not to hike may enjoy the falls from the bridge, a very short walk from the parking area, and almost totally level. For those who are more adventurous, there are hiking trails leading to both the bottom and top of the falls. The short trek to the bottom leads to some fabulous picture opportunities, with various vantage points from which to shoot. The upper trail actually allows the hiker to cross over the top of the falls. A short drive past the falls leads to the North River, and the road eventually gives way to a very well-maintained gravel road. There are numerous opportunities to pull over and park, getting out to explore the North River and its surroundings. Wildlife is abundant, and the chances are excellent to see deer, beavers, trout, etc. There are also numerous campsites throughout the area, as well as cabin and hotel rentals.

Whether you are seeking the weekend getaway, or a day trip – Bald River Falls is an excellent choice. A picnic lunch would be an exceptional idea, allowing the hiker/nature lover to enjoy a leisurely meal by the river, as there are very few eateries once you leave Tellico Plains. However, on a day trip, one could eat lunch before tackling the trails, and then dinner at the end of the trip with no problems. The Bald River Falls are a breathtaking experience for those of all ages, and would make a great family outing, or even a romantic getaway. More information can be found by searching the falls on your favorite search engine online.

The Weekend Getaway: Folly Beach, SC

Billie Jo and Chris Ralston proudly display the fish they caught.

If you are looking for the getaway that won’t take all your money away…give Folly Beach, South Carolina some serious consideration. This small town, sea-side resort offers a very family feel, and the locals are more than accepting of the tourists. Folly Beach is located south of Charleston on the Atlantic Seaboard, and can be reached in about 7 hours from Campbell County. The beach areas are extremely clean, and the waters are cool and inviting. A brisk ocean breeze makes for perfect kiting conditions, and the vacation locale is close to several other historic and interesting areas.

Folly Beach is a quiet, charming town that offers Southern grace and charm. This small town getaway offers both beachfront and ocean view house rentals, hotel accommodations, and condo rentals. The visitor may also opt for one of the many river front condo or house rentals, bordering the Folly River. The town itself has a feel similar to that of Gatlinburg, with many small shops, cafes, bistros, and novelty stores. The architecture is eclectic, ranging from Victorian to modern structures. The locals are often seen stopping to chat with the tourists about favorite haunts, or giving them directions. It is a friendly, Southern atmosphere throughout the region.

Folly Beach is unique in that it offers not only a rewarding view of the Atlantic Ocean, but also a soothing, peaceful view of the marshlands along the Folly River. The town affords its visitors a chance to slow down and enjoy themselves, with only a five minute walk from condo rentals located on the river to the boardwalk on the beach. The beach offers white sands and a playful surf, allowing its visitors to wakeboard, tube, or simply to relax in the sun. Folly Beach boasts a terrific fishing pier, from which several fishing tournaments are held. There is a running record of each tournament’s cache, along with area fishing records. The pier also provides an excellent location for those photographs that are sure to be treasured for a lifetime.

The fishing in the Folly Beach area is terrific, and there are several charter groups which will book fishing excursions for you and your group. The Folly River offers the chance to net the sea trout and reds…and hooking up with a red is like hooking up with a freight train – be prepared for a fight!! The Atlantic Ocean offers many different fish, but the marlins are especially tough to tangle with, and the blues offer quite the fight as well. Locals and tourists alike will be seen fishing along the Folly Pier, with either their own equipment, or that rented from the Pier office.

Convenient to other area attractions, Folly Beach is an appealing vacation choice. A short walk along the coast from Folly Beach (less than one mile) will bring the visitor to the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, which is under restoration. This beach area is considerably more remote, but a short walk rewards the visitor with a natural, rugged beachfront. Folly Beach is only about 30 minutes from historic Charleston, offering its visitors another outlet for shopping, sightseeing, and historic discoveries. Kiawah Beach is mere minutes away, offering rugged shoreline and pristine beaches. It is a wonderful vacation choice, as the prices are very reasonable and the close proximity to surrounding attractions and towns is incredibly convenient.

The sun sets in Folly Beach

Interview with author Sharon Lathan

Hello Volunteer Times readers!

I’d like to begin the book section with an interview with a writer that’s gaining fame within the “Pride and Prejudice” community.
For those of you who are not already familiar with Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

(The description below was found at: )
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman, living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

My interview in this edition is with Mrs. Sharon Lathan; wife, mother, NICU nurse and author of the highly rated, critically acclaimed sequels to Pride and Prejudice:
· Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy
· Loving Mr. Darcy
· My Dearest, Mr. Darcy
· In The Arms of Mr. Darcy
· A Darcy Christmas (novella)
· The Trouble with Mr. Darcy (coming April 2011)

Mrs. Lathan’s also working on a new book
· “Miss Georgiana Darcy”

Sharon was most gracious to give me a few moments of her time and answer a handful of questions for me; because…well I’m nosy; (laughs) and because I wanted the reader to go away with a working knowledge of the author. If you are familiar with Ms. Austen’s work; then I very highly recommend these volumes. I take it upon myself to say Ms. Austen would have been proud that the women of our time have taken her banner and keeps it flying.

I sat down, over the internet, and had a cozy chat with Sharon and laughed and talked then we got down to business.

CH: What is your favorite book: Child/Adult, etc?
SL: My favorite book or rather “books” are the novels that comprise The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I have been a fan of Tolkien since I read The Hobbit when I was 12. His novels introduced me to the world of fantasy, the genre I prefer to read, and nothing comes close to his work. That being said, I have a massive quantity of books at my house, many of which are “favorites” for different reasons.

CH: What made you want to begin writing?
SL: My single motivation was to carry on the life of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I could not let these characters or this story go and wanted to see what happened to them. I was as curious as everyone else! Now, however, I love everything about writing and hope to branch out into other stories.

CH: How many rejection letters did you receive before you were published?
SL: I honestly did not keep track of them! I know I wrote close to 100 query letters to agents, many of whom never wrote back (rejection by silence, in my opinion). But whether they sent a letter of rejection or not, you can see that it was a lot!
However, the first editor I approached said yes. That was the marvelous Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks, Inc. She is still my editor (and hopefully will be forever because I adore her) and both she and the Sourcebooks publisher Dominique Raccah are fans of my work. I also now have an amazing literary agent, Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency, who thinks my writing, is fantastic, so all those past rejections were meant to be.

CH: Do you have a favorite fact that you’ve learned through researching items for your books?
SL: I don’t know that I have a favorite. At least nothing comes to mind! I have learned so much that it is hard to pinpoint one or two or even ten. I can say that for me it is the little tidbits of historical facts that I love. Learning the broader sweeping ideals of politics and society are fascinating and necessary, of course, but I love uncovering little known details. Like when the stethoscope was invented or that hot air balloons were first used during the Napoleonic War or that there is a pass through the Alps called the Great Saint Bernard because that is where the dogs were bred.
That is the stuff I love!

CH: Have you ever thought of writing “outside” the Regency Period?
SL: I have and I am, sort of. The novel coming in the fall of 2011, tentative title “Miss Georgiana Darcy” is set in post-Napoleonic Restoration France or 1820 to be precise! It’s quite different. And the novel I have just begun starts in the late 1700s, will span several decades, and is not set in England either. I like branching out and am open to whatever moves me. Still, Regency England is a fun era to write in!

CH: How long does it take, for you, to write a book?
SL: That is tough to answer since my journey has varied. The novels I wrote before getting published were written quickly, (3 in less than a year!) but since starting down the path of publishing my time has been tighter. Often I write in spurts. I suppose if I added it up I wrote Georgiana’s novel in about 5-6 months. However, the “idea” starts way before I ever sit down and begin to write.

CH: Ever get great ideas for plot lines (or even a smarmy comeback) from family or friends?
SL: Not directly. At least I can’t think of a time where someone has assisted me with a plot line or work out a dilemma. Of course all writers are inspired to a certain degree by people they know or the situations they have lived through or their personal beliefs. I see shades of that here and there. For instance I love writing medical portions or bringing kids into the story since I am a nurse who works with babies. I also write a very romantic Mr. Darcy since I am married to a very romantic man.

CH: What was the most difficult thing you had to put to paper?
SL: Originally the hardest was writing a sex scene. Now that is easy for me. (laughs heartily) Then I tackled a dramatic scene – a duel with swords in my first novel – and it was a huge challenge. Now I love writing in suspense!

CH: What was the most funny?
SL: I actually love writing humor and have a ton of funny moments, even amid the serious. I especially love the interactions between Mr. Darcy and his cousin Col. Fitzwilliam. And my created character Dr. George Darcy is the king of dry wit and irreverence. Love that guy!

CH: Most tragic. Have you ever written something that touched you so that “you” made YOU cry?

SL: I don’t go for high drama too often, but when I do it is intense! In my novel due to come out this April – “The Trouble With Mr. Darcy” – I wrote several chapters that are quite gut wrenching. It was tough to write in one respect and I did get teary eyed along with my characters. I am quite proud of it actually.

In my Christmas novella “A Darcy Christmas” I wrote of the death of Mr. Bennet. That was quite emotional for me, partly because I love Mr. Bennet as a character but also because I was experiencing a loss of my own at the time I wrote it. The raw emotion is in the words, I believe.

CH: What steps would you advise young writers who wish to someday become accomplished, published writers — the kid who LOVE literature.
SL: First, read read read! Read everything by all kinds of writers. This gives a background and will teach you what YOU like to read so that you can apply that to your writing. Second, write write write. Don’t stop, keep writing! Third, get involved with writing groups either in your community or online. Along with this is researching the business of writing. No matter what you think, writing and getting published is a business and you have to know what you are doing. Fourth but not last, be persistent, be tough, but be gracious. Publishing is rough and the odds are against you, so you must have a strong backbone. It is also a small community is many respects so never be rude or snarky.

CH: Do you find it difficult, being wife, mother, nurse and successful writer?
SL: Oh yeah! I can’t recall the last time I cooked a meal and I simply do not do housework anymore! (laughing heartily)
I do not have the time! Luckily my kids are almost grown and my husband is the most supportive man on the planet. I am blessed. But it is very tough and I keep wishing for more hours in a day.

CH: Do you have moments of inspiration at odd moments, or in the middle of the night that you just HAVE to get up and write down?
SL: I dream conversations and plot lines quite a bit. But then I refuse to get up and do anything with it. Sleep is a valuable commodity for me! But, yes, the ideas do have a tendency to hit at odd moments. Inevitably it is when I am driving or at the hospital or cleaning the fish tanks, so I have to trust in my memory. I also carry a small notebook, just in case!

CH: Do you listen to music to help you write? If so, what?
SL: No, I do not listen to music. I tend to prefer the quiet, although I can write just about anywhere and with any amount of noise if my handsome muse is inspiring me. In my office I have one of those desktop bubbling waterfalls and I love having it on in the background as I write. For some reason that is a very soothing sound to me, probably due to having two fish tanks in our house!

CH: and …last but not least…chemise or pantaloons? (chuckling)
SL: Definitely chemise! No pantaloons! LOL! Aside from the fact that pantaloons were not popular until after the Regency, (a historical fact for you there), for a romance novelist those things just get in the way, if you know what I mean. *wink, wink*

CH: Ms. Sharon, thanks so much for the time it took you to suffer my questioning. I do appreciate it, and I’m sure the readers will too.

SL: Thank you, Cindy, for allowing me to be your first interviewee! It was great fun.

The Weekend Getaway: Chimney Rock, NC

The view from atop Chimney Rock with Lake Lure in the distance

Majestic mountains, regal rivers and streams, and a 404 foot waterfall set the scenery for a most relaxing getaway. Located on Hwy. 64/74A approximately 25 miles southeast of Asheville is a unique village, boasting one of the most impressive natural land formations for miles. Chimney Rock offers a vast array of hiking challenges for those seeking nature at her best. It is nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, just a few miles from Lake Lure, one of the “shoot sites” for the 1987 hit movie Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze. The scenes including the cabins housing the “staff” of Kellerman’s were actually shot at Lake Lure. The famous log scene and lifts in the water (where Johnny taught Baby the dance lifts) were filmed in nearby Tryon, just south of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. Other majors films shot on location in Chimney Rock Park include The Last of the Mohicans, Firestarter, and A Breed Apart.

The visitor is immediately greeted with two choices for seeing the breathtaking view from atop Chimney Rock: take the elevator located within the very mountain itself, or hike the trails leading to the “Rock”. Upon entering the cavernous tunnel for the elevator, signs and information plaques inform the visitor of the very history connected with the making of Chimney Rock’s elevator, explaining all the milestones reached in order to offer this modern convenience. The elevator travels the entire height of the mountain in mere seconds, transporting the visitor to the gift store, offering its own spectacular views from atop the mountain. Either choice will reward the visitor with an experience beyond words. The visitor may also choose to hike the trails, and will be afforded some help by the aid of wooden stairs. Still it is a grueling ascent to the “Rock” and not for the faint of heart. Chimney Rock itself is a 315 foot monolith, with an elevation of 2,280 feet. It offers a 75 mile view of North Carolina’s mountains and valleys.

There are many hiking trails in Chimney Rock Park, offering a wide array of walking challenges. One of the most rewarding hikes is along the Hickory Nut Trail, culminating in the discovery of the Hickory Nut Falls. These waters fall an astonishing 404 feet from the mountain-top above, and are one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. A pool of cool, clear, mountain waters gather at its base, and the mist from the falls will cool the weary hiker on a hot afternoon. Due to the crevices and other natural land formations associated with the waterfall, Hickory Nut Falls is home to a wide array of natural wildflowers and plants. The waters eventually flow over the rocks and on down the mountain side to find their way to the town of Chimney Rock below.

Exclamation Point is the highest point in Chimney Rock Park, boasting an elevation of 2,480 feet. This is a full 200 feet higher than Chimney Rock itself. Once you reach this pinnacle, you can boast that you have reached the very top. You may also boast that you are now 1,400 vertical feet high than the park’s entrance. The view from Exclamation Point is positively breathtaking.

Chimney Rock Park also boasts Devil’s Head, at the start of the Skyline Trail just above the Chimney. Devil’s Head is the result of a rock slide, and the rock itself resembles the face of a devil. The Opera Box offers panoramic views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. It is just over from the Chimney, and leads up to the Skyline Trail. This natural rock formation even offers a bench from which one can sit and enjoy the magnificent view. There is also The Subway, a natural rock phenomenon resembling a subway course through the mountain. But the faint of heart need not worry, the trek through the subway is a very short one. There is also the Moonshiner’s Cave, complete with remnant stills and proof of the hide-away moonshiners sought within the mountain.

Chimney Rock Park offers a little something for everyone. There are organized tours and excursions available in the park, as well as the self-guided tours. The park offers hiking, rock climbing, dining, shopping, and special events. For a more detailed accounting of the park and its offerings, one may peruse the website Accommodations are available in both Chimney Rock and nearby Lake Lure. Also, remember that Asheville is only 25 miles to the northwest. This is a great vacation spot for the whole family, offering something for all ages.

Chimney Rock as seen from the parking lot below.

Hickory Nut Falls, a 404 foot waterfall