Randi Barlow Pappa

Randi Barlow-Pappa


Randi introduces herself as follows:

“It was 1996. I was 43 and had just graduated from college magna cum laude with a degree in World Religions. The career counselor at the college had been disappointed. He wanted me to capitalize on my past experiences in human resources and stock brokerage by majoring in business. Me? I wanted to study the philosophies of all the major religions in the world–to see what they agreed upon. My main fascination became the psycho-spirituality of NDE’s–Near Death Experiences. Still is.

Life is designed to be simple, but we humans complicate it. It was a blessing for me to grow up surrounded by extended family in southern Ohio, near a great river that spilled over with life.

Those were simpler times indeed.  We grew our own food and made apple butter, grape jelly and strawberry jam. We hunted and fished for dinner, hung our laundry on a clothesline, and made our own wine from the grapes on the arbor that grew by the side of the house. We gathered at week’s end for big meals together, followed by music led by my Dad and a couple of uncles who taught themselves how to play guitar. There was an old upright piano, way out of tune, against the living room wall when Grandma bought that old house that we all lived in, either together, or at one time or another. Grandma taught herself how to play by ear, and so did I. Music and singing was a big part of our entertainment. There was no internet, no YouTube, no iTunes. Like I said–simpler, uncomplicated times.

Presently I live in northeastern Ohio with my husband, two dogs, three horses, a passel of refugee cats, and the relentless pursuit of enlightenment. I’m a country girl, allergic to big cities. I still grow some of my own food, still play the piano, still love rivers, and have never stopped being a dedicated lover of nature and all things finned, furred and feathered. I have never let go of the code of ethics I grew up with. It goes beyond history–even beyond blood–to become a way of being.

Writing Under the Rock began about 10 years ago as a catharsis.  One chapter in particular just came to me out of nowhere, and I dashed to my Apple word processor and spilled it out.  That chapter was tossed in a box of other miscellaneous poetry and short stories, some mere paragraphs.  In a clutter cleaning event one day, I came across that chapter and began to read.  The entire story began to take shape at that point, but only in tiny increments.  It took seven years to finish the first draft, because it took seven years for me to recognize the journey of recovery from the personal trauma that inspired that initial chapter.  It took me those seven years to reclaim all the parts of my own personality that got fragmented as a result of the trauma. Every character in Under the Rock is me–a part of me that has returned to make me whole again.  Hallelujah!”


Under a crisp autumn sky in the Appalachian river town of Cold Spring, Ohio, the long and not-so-long held secrets of the Goodlander and Cutright families have begun to unravel, tumbling out of hearts pried open by events leading up to the betrayal of little Sharda Cutright’s youthful naivete.

Frank and Annie Goodlander, gentle-spirited caretakers of the earth and protectors of Shawnee herbal and healing lore, had purchased the run-down Carlisle farm on Parched Road in Cold Spring. They become keepers of a secret of their own to shield their only child, Sharda’s mother Marnie.  Marnie has married Rayne Cutright, whose mother Dess disapproves of the marriage for reasons she is hesitant to reveal.

The arrival in Cold Spring of boyish and chronically handsome Finn Decker–a drifter of sorts, toting little more than a change of clothes and a guitar–triggers the release of family secrets and becomes a catalyst for both personal and family redemption.

Under the Rock is a colorful, authentically told family saga. Although it describes a time and a culture–the edges of Appalachia in the post-depression mid-1900’s–that are now mostly a distant memory, its powerful messages of innocence, betrayal and forgiveness are as timeless as the steady flow of the Ohio River.