Archive for October, 2007

Brock Clarke at Wordsmiths

Written on October 31, 2007 at 2:54 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Every other century or so, someone writes a book about house museums.

Luckily, this time around that person was Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. He’s coming to Wordsmiths in Decatur, courtesy of that very bookstore, y’all’s truly, and Baby Got Books.

Housewarming: Brock Clarke Visits Wordsmiths

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes of New England is chilling, scorching, and devastatingly funny. Take it from me– I just finished it this morning. It’s as quick as it is literary*, and definitely a story worth your attention.

Look here for further proof: (praise) (first chapter) (blog).

But don’t get too excited! Neither run nor walk to your closest bookstore!  Instead, hang out with us at Wordsmiths on the 19th and buy your copy there.

* Literary, but in a good way. Promise.

Movin’ On Up

Written on October 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm, by matt

Hi. My name is Matt, and this is my inaugural blog post.

Matt Grilling

You may have seen my bio on the about page. If you must know, the reason I haven’t been blogging is because I’ve not been allowed indoors. But all that changed one fateful day last week.

See, Lain has been quite the traveler lately.

Last week he left me stranded to make a presentation to the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

ATL Logo

Trouble is, I’ve never spoken on behalf of the Wren’s Nest before.

Meanwhile, he and Mercenary Amelia Trace bailed and flew off to San Francisco to visit Former Wren’s Nest Intern Carson–ironically, with the very plane tickets MAT won in an ACVB raffle!

Lain and Amelia in front of the Full House House

Typically the constructive things I do at the Wren’s Nest involve hedge clippers and an axe, so the chance to speak to a group of people that help us spread the word about the Wren’s Nest was a welcome change of pace.

And I did it! Successfully! Let me tell you, having a room full of people laughing “with you” as you nervously present a Power Point that features no more than four words per slide is pretty reassuring.

Plus, the kind folks at the ACVB don’t mind the fact that Lain, Amy and I don’t necessarily have “training” in house museum management (overrated!). We like to think they keep us around because we’re awesome and just funny enough.

Not only did I avoid a humiliating failure, but I got to eat free and delicious snacks from Breadwinner and left with an armful of great music and an invite to a concert from Bob Ephlin at Eddie’s Attic. For a split second I even thought I won a big-time gift certificate from Spa Sydell (what I wouldn’t give for a free pedicure…).

In short, an afternoon that had me initially terrified turned out to be a smashing success. Thank y’all again, ACVB, for having me out.

Lain and Amy, y’all can head to San Fransisco anytime to visit Wren’s Nest Intern Carson. And Carson, you’re great!

Carson Chop

ps One sentence of this blog was added by FWNIC. Can you guess which one?

It’s true.

Written on October 30, 2007 at 12:50 pm, by Amelia

In a flurry of nonsense, Imani released this truism on me: “Hey hey hey Amy! You have fingernails and stuff!”

Imani the Goofball

(Imani’s reaction to this photo: “I want to see my pants.”)

She is the greatest.


Written on October 25, 2007 at 8:12 am, by Amelia

As a historic house museum, representative of this community and its traditions in days of yore, it’s our job, NAY our duty to participate in community events. If we had a charter, this would undoubtedly be part of it.

Which is exactly why Lain skipped town last weekend.

Luckily, Matt and I have been hired to be far more noble, which is why we nobly participated in a Beltline cleanup this past Saturday, just a few blocks from the Wren’s Nest.

Plenty of Volunteers

(Ahoy, volunteers!)

Yes yes, I know, you thought the life of a Wren’s Nest employee was one of fans, reclining, and grapes. And occasionally it is, though with fewer grapes and fans. Last weekend, however, Matt and I got down and dirty- literally.

First was the dirty. As part of a trash removal crew, we were given bins and, thank the heavens above, work gloves. These hands shan’t callous! The directions were pretty clear: trash in bins.

Asian Cajuns Stick Together

(The lengths Asian Cajuns will go to for trash. Bravery at its finest!)

We got down sans-dancing when it became clear that though there was some trash near the street, the real work to be done was down in the ravine, where the Beltline track is/will be.

That's One Crazy Beltline Tunnel

(Here are Matt and Lauren considering escape options from the floor of the ravine. There were few.)

While I will let Lain wax poetic about the Beltline in a future post, as he is far more of a public transportation nerd than I (the best term for me would be something around “foaming at the mouth lunatic” thanks to my privileged upbringing), it was great to be a (very, very small) part of something that, in about 10 years, will drastically change the way Atlanta functions for the better.

That's One Crazy Beltline Tunnel, Again

(Trash! And check out the guy top left who was going for it, big time. He may or may not have had a safety line. His mouth said yes but absolutely everything else said no.)

So yes, while we did encounter some rather stinky, puzzling (a bag full of videotapes), and overwhelmingly wet trash, we also got to pat ourselves on the back… plus a free t-shirt and lunch! And you know how the Wren’s Nest feels about free food.

View From the Tunnel

(Behold! The site of the future! My, how clean it looks!)

Oh and then we drank beer all afternoon. Did I mention we’re noble?

More From the Archives

Written on October 23, 2007 at 1:14 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

It’s been a slow day at the ole Wren’s Nest.

I have about 500 emails to sort through from this weekend, Amelia updated the Museum page, and one lady called asking for the phone number of “that Aquarium there in Atlanta.” Gosh, why wouldn’t I have that number at my fingertips?

In slightly more exciting news, the homeless guy refused to get off our porch this morning and Outdoorsman Matt briefly electrocuted himself. His ear, specifically.

Regarding the porch, it was Joel Chandler Harris’ favorite spot at the Wren’s Nest–

Joel Chandler Harris sits on the porch of the Wren's Nest

We definitely need a rug like that, and I definitely need some britches like that.

Kind of related, I scanned a few more miscellaneous items back in March, but must’ve forgotten to post them. Enjoy!

First, a note from Buckingham Palace–

Dear The Wren's Nest, Love Buckingham Palace

Dear The Wren’s Nest…Love, Buckingham Palace.

Do people often send books to princesses? Was that once the done thing? I’d like to think that Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth demanded that someone fetch them a copy of Brer Rabbit directly from the source, and not some peasant bookshop, you buffoon.

The following invite, I believe, is from 1946.

Meet The Disneys at the Wren's Nest!

Hey y’all–meet the Disneys! That’s how I would’ve written it, anyway.

Presumably, the next one is taken that very day, with Walt (left) and Julian LaRose Harris, the eldest son of Joel Chandler Harris, sharing a guffaw over the Uncle Remus Tales.

Walt Disney and Julian Harris

Song of the South was released this very weekend, and this may be the day that they had the press conference and tea at the Wren’s Nest. From last year’s AJC article:

“The city played the premiere up big. There was a parade down Peachtree and a luncheon at the Capital City Club and a tea at the Wren’s Nest, where a crowd of autograph-seekers got out of hand and knocked Disney to his knees.”

Great Fun, Unless You Were Looking for a Surprise.

Written on October 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm, by Amelia

Hello, there. You’re looking nice today. Perhaps it is the glow that comes from knowing it’s Friday. Perhaps you are thinking about Chinese food for dinner, Mom. Or! Perhaps it is that smart Wren’s Nest t-shirt you are wearing. Lookin’ good!

Brer Terrapin, lookin' good!

(Brer Terrapin could be yours in a matter of days!)

Now, while the fronts of these t-shirts tend to be the attention-getters, it pays not to overlook the back. Literally!

That’s where our sponsors are!

I see the effects of some of our sponsors on a daily basis (thanks Rentokil!), but frankly, I wasn’t sure Stone Mountain, one of our biggest sponsors, even existed until this weekend. Giant mountain? Near Atlanta? Then why can’t I see it?!* Nice try, wiseguys.

But it looks like it really does exist. And how!

Stone Mountain!  Twice, practically.

Lain and I hiked/wandered around the aptly named Stone Mountain Park last weekend, which I would especially recommend if you’re into things like water and leaves, like I am.

Stone Mountain water and leaves

(Look at that water! And those leaves! Beautiful.)

If you’re into the War of Northern Aggression or the War Between the States (or the Civil War to folks from my neck of the woods), I would also recommend Stone Mountain for it’s giant, crazy, temporarily abandoned carving of Confederate generals. Nutty.

Nutty, I told you.

(Our lighting technique is questionable, and thus true to form.)

If you’re more into beer than the Confederates, perhaps you would be interested in the Decatur Beer Festival, the debauchery-laden shameful step-sister of the oft-mentioned (on this blog at least) Decatur Book Festival.

I’ve had my fill of Confederates carved out of granite. Thankfully, I’m nowhere near beer capacity. See you there!

*I still don’t have an answer to this question.

Margaret Mitchell and the Wren’s Nest

Written on October 17, 2007 at 7:10 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

361 days ago, I was rummaging around in the attic and found some cool old books.

This evening I was clearing out old and inherited files on this here computer and found some pictures of the very same books. Well, one of them, anyway.

Gone With the Wind

This is the Wren’s Nest’s copy.

If I understand correctly (and I probably don’t!), the author did not usually autograph copies of the book after the first run.

Margaret Mitchell Signature

She may have made an exception for us, though perhaps someone from the Margaret Mitchell House could enlighten us.

Text: For the library of the Uncle Remus Memorial Association with the compliments of the author.

Margaret Mitchell
Atlanta, Ga.
August 26, 1936.

What I don’t have a picture of is the letter that has been inserted in the book. In it, Ms. Mitchell explains that her eyes are way too tired, and she can hardly see anything. She promised to sign the Wren’s Nest’s copy eventually, and looks like she made good on it.

Gone with the Wind was initially published in June May [thanks, Sam!] of that same year. They really burned through those printings, huh?

And One Marketing Trick

Written on October 16, 2007 at 2:38 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

I was originally going to include this in the post immediately below (hence the out of place trackbacks earlier, sorry! Does anyone else have those days when you can’t stop making mistakes?), but it got a little to long for my liking.

Anyway, the fourth “quick” note–

What a Concept!, via their generally spot-on social media blog, has directed us to Amber Rhea, a blogger who prefers to send and receive semi-personalized emails in lieu of mass ones. Says Amber–

It is possible to achieve the same result of not pissing off the people you’re contacting, without spending hours starting from scratch on every message you write.


I don’t want to steal Amber’s thunder, but rather echo it–the Wren’s Nest personalizes most mass correspondence too–email and snailmail alike–and has seen much better results than you’d normally expect.

Remember those times when you were little and your parents made you write thank you notes to your relatives after your birthday? Me neither, but let’s pretend we do.

A handwritten thank you note is much better than a typed one. On a larger scale though, hand writing everything isn’t really practical. So as long as you’re typing any sort of correspondence, the moment you decide to include a handwritten, personalized “P.S.” is the moment you really engage the reader.

A Typical Thank You From the Wren's Nest
(This allows your letter to turn into a conversation, and not just a monologue.)

Personalized thank you notes are such a no-brainer in real life that sending mass, unpersonalized emails in business seems rather counterintuitive. As a result, most mass emails are ignored; if they’re not, they often have a cold, dead-on-the-inside feel about them that’s a major turn-off.

The solution? Treat your customers and contributors like friends, and they’re more likely to become just that. Sure it takes a little more time, but consider it an investment. Personalizing a letter or an email may not pay off immediately for you, but you might just make someone’s day.

Amber’s post illustrates two great conclusions–keep it personal and keep it brief. My addition–funny never hurt anyone, either.

Three Quick Notes

Written on October 16, 2007 at 12:36 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

1. We’re featured in the current Georgia Blog Carnival, which is an excellent introduction and gateway for blogs around the state. If you’re looking to figure out what other blogs are like, mom, this might be for you.

2. Later this month at Wordsmiths, Decatur’s most internet savvy and extracurricular activity prone independent bookstore, The Wren’s Nest and Baby Got Books will welcome Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.

An Arsonists Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

More on this later.

3. Excellent blog Drifting Through the Grift gave the Wren’s Nest a nice shout out recently. Also, if you scroll down the main page and look closely, you may spot a certain Wren’s Nest board member hanging out at Moe’s and Joe’s.

Moe's and Joe's in 1949

(Picture courtesy of Atlanta Time Machine, courtesy of GSU Special Collections)

Perhaps Handy, like the Wren’s Nest staff, and can appreciate a $3.25 pitcher.

EDIT: There was a fourth “quick note” but it got a little too long for this post.  Check back a little later.  My apologies for the inappropriate pings!

Err, of course we didn’t forget!

Written on October 12, 2007 at 11:29 am, by Amelia

Lain and I have forgotten a whole slew of things in the last few days, namely a camera (3 times), its cord, and even, in Lain’s case, which date he should fly to Chicago for a friend’s wedding.

However, after 6 long days, we have finally managed to get our acts together- well, I have, at least.

I am thus proud to present the pictures from Saturday’s spectacular concert at the Wren’s Nest. I will do my best to present them chronologically, but, let’s be honest- it’s not like you can tell the difference. Onwards!

Pit Stop Provides Excellent Service
Just when you thought we couldn’t get any fancier, we went ahead and got FLUSH port-a-potties. Man, we are the wave of the future.

League of Decency sets up
The League of Decency, the fantastic entertainment for the evening, sets up. That’s a lot of cords. Good thing we now have outdoor electricity like big kids! Booyah!

The Scene at Dusk
The guests arrive! And sit! And mingle! And eat! And enjoy the music! Note: doesn’t the lawn look great? Yeah, I think so too.

The delicious spread from Low Country Barbecue. The fences are to keep the riff-raff out.

Joe, Heather, Catherine and Lauren
If I were referring to people specifically by how you could find them on the interweb, I would now say hello to Asian Cajuns and Georgia Center for the Book. A touch impersonal, admittedly.

Couple Near the Stage
Pictures are allegedly worth 1000 words, but if I were to sum up, I would go with “What a great time we’re having!”

Handy Johnson
I can’t tell if our Board member, Handy, is enjoying the concert or his company more. Does it matter? Answer: no.

Boogie Down, Y'all
I like to think these folks are dancing to “Mustang Sally”, one of the League’s more indecent numbers and, coincidentally, my mother’s favorite song.

Jeri McWilliams, Docent
Jeri, one of the Wren’s Nest docents, brings out the hot apple cider as the night begins to wind down. News flash: cider is delicious.

Amelia Trace Makes a Sign
Pop Quiz: This sign is the result of

  • a) Mercenary Amelia Trace releasing the shackles that bound her to the merchandise table
    b) it being too dark to see money, anyways
    c) the need to run around far more than anyone could have anticipated
    d) laziness
    e) all of the above, plus the excuse to write the quasi-word “bespeckled”

So now we have two major successes under our belt: the concert at the Wren’s Nest, which was totally awesome, and the blog about the concert at the Wren’s Nest, which is… here. We are on a roll now, I tell you what.

One last note, totally unrelated: today is the glorious anniversary of the day Blogger Emeritus and former WNI Carson Amelia was thrust into the cruel world. Happy Birthday, Carson!

carson age six

We miss you here at the nest and, speaking for myself, in every other facet of life.