NEW EDITION: A-B Tech's student literary journal The Rhapsodist is now in its fourth year. “It was a resource for me to recognize that the arts could be valued,” says Grey LaJoie, second from right, one of this year's editors.

AB Tech’s Rhapsodist celebrates its fourth year of publicatio­n

There’s more to The Rhapsodist than just getting student submissions (and some faculty offerings) into print. Students who produce the journa learn layout and graphic design, dealing with printers and publicizing the magazine (including producing videos for airing on the A-B Tech student channel), among other things. And according to the students, the journal inspires dedication and commitment.

The Appalachian Studies Association held its 38th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference last weekend at Eastern Tennessee University. Photo by Max Hunt.

Mountain medley: Reflection­s on the 2015 Appalachia­n Studies Conference

In an ongoing effort to connect those dispersed communities, the Appalachian Studies Association held its 38th annual conference last month in Johnson City, Tenn. The one-of-a-kind event unites scholars and musicians, activists and academics, to celebrate the often misunderstood region’s distinctive heritage, culture and physical landscape.

NESSIE WHISPERER: "The monster in the loch is everyone's internal monster," says Asheville-based author Sara Gruen. "What you do with it is what defines you." Her new novel is set in World War II near Loch Ness and deals with monsters real and imaginary. Photo by Tasha Thomas

Local author Sara Gruen pens an all-consuming new novel

Author Sara Gruen gets lost in her books. “I wasn’t able to immerse myself completely with Water for Elephants,” she says of her 2006 best-seller that became a film starring Reese Witherspoon. “The type of circus I was writing about no longer existed.” For her new book, Gruen spent a total of five weeks in the British Isles, researching, absorbing the culture and immersing herself — literally.

"Chickens are a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to be more connected to their food," says Justin Rhodes, creator of Asheville's newest chicken-raising film tutorial. Photo of key film contributors from Justin Rhodes' Kickstarter page

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng campaigns

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise startup capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. This week: self-reliance through chickens, new adventures at Firestorm Books and a re-published Tarot classic.

BURDEN OF MEMORY: Although Miranda Richmond Mouillot's book includes dramatic stories from her grandparents' years as Holocaust refugees, she says, "Everybody you're around has this depth of feeling and experience." Photo by Tristan Zilberman, La Fabrique de l'Image

Quiet time: Former Ashevillea­n writes of adventure, memories and family secrets

It’s the story of Anna Münster and Armand Jacoubovitch that Mouillot recounts — or, rather, unearths. The couple survived the Holocaust only to sever all ties with each other shortly after the end of World War II. Mouillot also weaves her own story into the text. “A lot of what I was grappling with in the book is the daunting realization that life is always very complex,” she says.