Back to Blog

Bearing Up: A New Collection of Personal Stories

By Randell Jones

Bearing up. It’s not always easy to do…or write about.

But that writing challenge was taken on this winter by over twenty-five North Carolina writers who joined authors from Kentucky to share personal essays on making do and overcoming adversity when faced with daunting and peculiar life challenges.

Bearing up.

Bearing Up is the collective result of forty writers responding to the Call for Essays issued last fall for the “Personal Essay Publishing Project—Winter 2018.” The book was released in April by Daniel Boone Footsteps Publishing to commemorate the 250th anniversary of events in the life of America’s pioneer hero Daniel Boone.

A new Call for Essays of “PEPP-spring 2019” is now open. Visit to learn more.

North Carolina writers from across the state submitted their personal essays for consideration. The writers included fresh, new voices looking to be published for the first time as well as seasoned storytellers, including two poet laureates.

The stories they shared are moving and current.

“Some of the writers recounted the experiences of a relative or ancestor whose story they knew as family lore or from personal knowledge,” said Randell Jones, editor and publisher. “Others shared their own experiences, some facing sexual harassment, violence, and rape. The topics covered a wide range, but they all dealt with people facing real challenges head on‐and not always successfully. Some of the stories would bring you to tears,” Randell added, “but some were laugh-out-loud funny. All were well told.”

Each story leaves the reader pondering a lesson or a message gleaned from the experiences of others.

Lisa Miracle Ballard of Huntersville wrote in “The Gift” about how hearing the story of a Kentucky grandmother she had never met restored Lisa’s will to recover from a near-deadly collision: “Folks paid her with a chicken or a bag of meal; Granny was a healer.”

Bruce Spang of Candler wrote in “No Forwarding Address” about his brother’s last days in failing health: “My brother sat in a chair in the corner of the living room, a walker stationed by him. He smiled weakly at me. His legs, thick and covered with bandages, were exposed. I thought, as I took him in, ‘He’s dying.’ I kissed him on the forehead.”

Diane Pascoe of the Wilmington area shared with humor some childhood memories in “Show-and-Tell Goddess”: “When I found the deer’s leg in the toy box, I knew I had my ticket to fame.”

Valerie Paterson of Greensboro shared a horrifying tale in “Me Alone” of being attacked several times by different men and her resolve to help protect other women from her experience: “This was rape in the middle of nowhere‐a country road in the middle of French farmland, in the dark, in the middle of the night with no one around.”

Howard Pearre of Winston-Salem wrote in “Omaha” of his father’s sense of duty preparing to lead men onto the beaches, D-Day 1944: “If they made it onto shore, they knew barbed wire and mines awaited them.”

Cherie Cox of Charlotte wrote about her feisty, 107-year-old, poet and teacher cousin in “You Can Do This”: “When asked her age on job applications, she simply wrote ‘atomic.’”

Margarette Dunn of Fayetteville wrote about her younger brother, stricken with polio at age five, in “Bracing for Life”: “Though this independent streak and his mischievousness got him into trouble this time, his innovative thinking helped him to help himself for the rest of his life.”

Copies of Bearing Up are available online at or from some of the writers. Find information there also about the Personal Essay Publishing Project—Spring 2019.