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Hull Village Reunion
The Jim and Dan Stories
A Journey of Grief and Faith

by Colleen Redman

cover from 2nd printing

“My brother Jim, who was a lover of storms, was more at home with the elements than he was with people. As the stories progressed his essence began to emerge as the mysterious changing qualities of the moon. Dan was compassionate and generous. His bright light was personified by the sun. A silver and gold thread began to shine through the dullness of my grief and weave itself through the stories.”

From the Introduction of:
The Jim and Dan Stories: A Journey of Grief and Faith - A Silver and Gold Production -

After the deaths of my two brothers nearly two years ago, I wrote a tribute to them that was published in the Hull Times, the local newspaper in the Massachusetts town that we grew up in during the 50s – 70s. We were a family of eleven back then, an Irish Catholic, working class clan living on the South Shore of Boston.

That initial tribute grew into what was lovingly referred to within my family as “The Jim and Dan Stories.” Some of those stories appeared in A Museletter, a community newsletter from Floyd, Virginia, where I now live. But soon the stories became too many for such a small local publication. What started as a tribute, and served as a therapy to cope with grief, became a book.

So many choices for publishing exist these days, the least probable one being sending an unsolicited manuscript to a major book publisher and having it accepted. I look at it like this: If I wanted to be a movie star, I might go to Hollywood and hope to be discovered. Or, I could decide to work from where I am by acting in local theatre and building my acting experience on that. That’s what I have chosen to do with my writing, to move ahead from where I am.

After looking briefly at our options, such as the new genre of online publishing in small quantities, my husband, Joe, and I decided to forgo the learning curve and consult the local professionals. We hired Pocahontas Press in Blacksburg, Virginia, to do the book design and professional proofreading. (This was after I had edited it numerous times on my own and with the help of the Floyd Writer’s Workshop that I belong to.) We knew we were in the right place when Mary, the owner, told us her sons were named Jim and Dan!

From there we found a local printer, as Pocahontas Press does not do the printing onsite but hires it out. We discovered Brightside Press (, a small local business in Radford, Virginia, which we considered “a find” due to their competitive prices, their experience, and because we liked the idea of working locally with a physical person. Hilda May Person, owner of the Brightside Press, has been in business for almost ten years but moved to Radford, Virginia, from Tennessee 2 years ago. She can actually do all aspects of publishing, but we didn’t know she existed when we started.

By now we had decided to publish under our own name, “Silver and Gold Productions” (which represents my brothers, Jim and Dan). A web-site of the same name ( is in the works, which will be the contact site for the book and for previous and future writings of mine. My son, Josh, agreed to design the “silver and gold” logo, and my family pooled some funds to match my investment for the first printing of 200 books, just in time for the second anniversary of our brother’s deaths.

I don’t have any quotes from famous people recommending why you might like this book, but I do have some comments from Bruce, the proofreader at Pocahontas Press (and Bruce has written his own book, with a foreword by the author of “Ishmael,” Daniel Quinn; so I guess indirectly there is someone famous involved). Early on in the process, I asked Bruce if he absorbed the content of a story when he was proofreading. He answered, “No…” and then something about proofreading being a methodical procedure, focusing on correct grammar and typos. A week later, I was back in the Pocahontas office to drop of some photographs for the book, when Bruce approached me, obviously interested in my family. He made comments, asked questions, wanted to see my pictures, and quoted my father, whose character in the book Bruce especially liked. “I WANT THIS PLACE LOOKING LIKE A MILLION BUCKS BY THE TIME YOUR MOTHER GETS HOME,” he said with a smile. And then, “What was the second part?” he asked. “OR HEADS ARE GONNA ROLL!” I answered.

On another visit to the Pocahontas office, Bruce commented that although the stories were about death, they had a lightness to them, making them easy to read. Yes, I agreed that the book had humor; my family is pretty funny, I told him. I took Bruce’s comment as a compliment, especially because Mary told me that he rarely gives compliments or comments to authors.

Whether you’re familiar with the amusement park beach town I grew up in, with rural life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Floyd, Virginia, or if you just grew up in the same era that I did, you may recognize yourself in the stories, as they weave in and out of the past and the present, bridging the two places I have roots. And if you’ve ever lost a loved one (something we will all have in common at some point), you’ll surely see yourself in this book, as it chronicles the grief experience in the most acute stages, the first six months after death. Part memoir, part grief therapy, part amazing story of my brother’s last weeks, which lined up as though a plan were unfolding, the book also weaves in current events, a physic reading, an old diary, and online dialogue with my siblings. The dreams and coincidences that occurred after Jim and Dan died kept us connected to them and revealed that the plan was still unfolding.

Facing the reality of death through losing my brothers has been the most significant thing that has ever happened to me. I didn’t feel like I had any choice but to write about it. For me, it feels as though I was born to tell this story and that all my previous writing experience was preparation to do just that. As “The Jim and Dan stories” come to completion, I feel the work put forth has been worth it. It feels right to manifest something concrete and positive out of loss. And although a part of me left when Jim and Dan did, the trade off is that a part of them also lives within me now. It was this part that took me along during the writing of the book, this part that needed an outlet for expression. With the help of Jim and Dan living through me, I was able to tell our story.

Colleen Redman--June 2003

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