Hybrid: No Work in the Grave: Life in the Toe River Valley with Jo Ann Thomas Croom, Katey Schultz and Jim Stokely

Event Image: 
Image contains the text: Jo Ann Thomas Croom with Katey Schultz and Jim Stokely: Wednesday, August 10, 2022. 6 PM ET. Hybrid. Next to the text are photos of the participants and the cover of the featured book.

Join us for a conversation with Jo Ann Thomas Croom and Katey Schultz discussing the ways in which the Toe River Valley informs and inspires their writing. The conversation will be moderated by Jim Stokely.

This is a hybrid event, meaning there is an option to attend virtually and a limited number of seats are available to attend the event in-store. Registration is required for both in-person and virtual attendance. 

Please click here to register for the VIRTUAL event. The link required to attend will be emailed to registrants prior to the event. 

Please click here to register for the IN-PERSON event. Note the important event details on the RSVP form. 

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Step back in time to the early 1900s and enter the sparsely settled Toe River Valley in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, a region still only slowly healing from the deep ravages of the Civil War. Life is centered in small insulated communities made up of subsistence farm families, one of which is the A.H. and Maggie Silver Thomas family. Both the Thomas and Silver families can trace their ancestors in the Valley back for five generations, and both their histories are first recorded by their son, Monroe, a teacher who is home-bound by illness. From his cot in the living room, Monroe watches as the entry of the railroad changes life into a wage-earner economy. He keeps an account of farm and community life in his journals while continuing to further educate himself through avid reading and thinking. His younger brother Walter, also an educator, provides a retrospective view of the time and place through the age-old practice of telling stories to illustrate truth. Together, these two accounts have been pieced together by Walter’s daughter, Jo Ann Thomas Croom, into a mosaic quilt that gives us a fresh in-depth look into a turbulent period of change – change that upended personal lives as well as the socioeconomic culture of the Valley. While this is the story of one particular family, it represents a microcosm of the history of the region.

Jo Ann Thomas Croom was born in Mitchell County, North Carolina, where her parents were life-long educators in the public school system.  After graduating from Harris High School in Spruce Pine, Jo Ann attended Mars Hill College for two years.  She then earned BS and MS degrees in Chemistry and Microbiology from North Carolina State University.  She worked as a chemist for Chemstrand Research in Triangle Park, then moved to Asheville with her husband Richard Croom and began a family. In the Asheville area, Jo Ann taught at Asheville Biltmore College, Warren Wilson College, Saint Genevieve’s Academy, and Homewood School at Highland Hospital. After the family moved to Mars Hill in Madison County, Jo Ann began a forty-year career at Mars Hill University. She earned a PhD in human genetics at the University of Tennessee Biomedical Program.  In retirement, Jo Ann has been working with written materials inherited from her father Walter Thomas and her uncle Monroe Thomas.

Katey Schultz is the author of Flashes of War, which the Daily Beast praised as an “ambitious and fearless” collection, and Still Come Home, a novel, both published by Loyola University Maryland. Honors for her work include North Carolina’s Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, the Linda Flowers Literary Award, Doris Betts Fiction Prize, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year award, gold and silver medals from the Military Writers Society of America, the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year award, five Pushcart nominations, a nomination to Best American Short Stories, National Indies Excellence recognition, and writing fellowships in eight states. She lives in Celo, North Carolina, and is the founder of Maximum Impact, a transformative mentoring service for creative writers that has been recognized by both CNBC and the What Works Network. 

Jim Stokely grew up in Newport, Tennessee and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with exceptional distinction in American Studies.   He later received an MBA from Stanford University, and embarked upon a 25-year corporate career in Human Resources for The Hay Group, Brown-Forman Corporation, and Sylvania.  In 2011 he and his wife Anne moved back to the southern mountains and now live in Weaverville, North Carolina.  As President of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, Jim produces local lecture series and other events in order to sustain the values of Wilma Dykeman. He is the author of Constant Defender: The Story of Fort Moultrie, co-author of Mountain Home: A Pictorial History of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, co-editor of An Encyclopedia of East Tennessee, and editor of An Appalachian Studies Teacher’s Manual as well as Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood.


Event address: 
virtual or in person option
No Work in the Grave: Life in the Toe River Valley By Jo Ann Thomas Croom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780997526936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dykeman Legacy Press - June 1st, 2022

Still Come Home By Katey Schultz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781627202312
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Apprentice House - October 1st, 2019

Flashes of War: Short Stories By Katey Schultz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781934074855
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Apprentice House - May 27th, 2013

Lilt in the Mountains By Jo Ann Thomas Croom, Monroe Thomas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989575003
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Croom Helm - March 17th, 2018

SKU: x672389