‘The Natural History of Raleigh’ was a labor intensive labor of love for John Dancy-Jones

Raleigh native John Dancy-Jones says he spent a decade preparing to write “The Natural History of Raleigh” (The Paper Plant). He was teaching science and working on his nature blog, while “walking every park and greenway in Raleigh with one of the two dogs to whom the book is dedicated.”

He says the book, which depicts nature lore and potential nature adventures inside or near the Beltline, “captures the best of what I have learned and seen concerning Raleigh’s wonderful greenway system, parks, and other natural areas.”

Dancy-Jones, who began making hand-laid paper in 1977, carried the art to the making of his book. “Each cover represents the better part of an hour’s work all told. Hand-laid paper with dried oak leaves, trim and fold, print the challenging polymer block of my cover image, then letterpress print the back and spine label, then glue the offset printed insides.” Rather than photographs, he worked for a year making 30 pen illustrations for the book.

Dancy-Jones now lives in Asheville, where he is producing his book in his new book arts studios.

New titles

“Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration” (WW Norton) by Thomas Brothers sets out to show why the Beatles and Duke Ellington were two of the greatest examples of collaboration in music history. He argues that a cooperative dynamic was the primary reason for their success and longevity, allowing them to be greater than the sum of their parts. Brothers is a professor of music at Duke University.

Pam Northrup shares her experiences caring for her mother while under hospice care in “On the Way…” (On the Way Living).“ “I wanted a book written from the caregiver’s perspective about a family’s day-to-day experience,” she says. “My hope is that the book will provide insight and comfort to people considering hospice care or who are already under hospice care and those who love them.” In addition to short stories about caring for her mother, the book contains a collection of 12 biblical reflections on passages that provided comfort during that time. Northrup, a Lutheran pastor, lives in Knightdale. She is serving as a hospice chaplain.

“My Write to Right” (Page Publishing) is Purnima Gupta’s story of her journey from India to America, one of many first-generation immigrants who have struggled with interracial conflicts and a lack of family support. Gupta lives in Raleigh.

Barbara Bennett, Terry Hans and Nancy Panko, all members of The Cary Senior Writing Circle, have stories in the latest “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven and other Miracles” (Chicken Soup for the Soul) published in January. Of the 14 active members in the group, six have been published in “Chicken Soup” books. According to publisher and editor Amy Newmark, that is a first.


Raleigh’s Sandra Headen has won the inaugural Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize for her short story, “Papa’s Gifts.” The award, administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and sponsored by the N.C. Writers’ Network, honors Harriet Jacobs and Thomas Jones, pioneering African-American writers from North Carolina. Headen will receive $1,000 and possible publication in “The Carolina Quarterly.”

Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.