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Write on the Water While You are Right on the Water

Write on the Water While You are Right on the Water

You’ve been threatening it for ages, you’re going to run away, bolt, flee to another city, somewhere, anywhere but where you are now.

Dear One, do I have the place for you.

A condo on the beach and when I say on the beach I mean on the beach. See this picture. 20140407_183854

 

This is what you will see when you look up from your manuscript, or awake after that mid-day nap.

Now you’ve been to vacation homes before. Homes that look great in the photos, but when you pull into the parking lot you kinda sorta wished you’d brought along some home protection.

This is not the place. Take a look at the entrance to your place of respite.20140407_110245

In past vacations, you saw images of places that-once you entered- looked nothing like what you had hoped for. My friends this place has been decorated by Garden City, South Carolina’s best interior designer, Mary Helen. The photos do not do it justice.

The Kitchen: (yes, that’s granite)

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Breakfast nook

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Take a look at the hallway! The hall in my own home isn’t this posh.20140407_101934

Now, let’s ease on into the bedroom. King bed first.

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Bathroom for that particular bedroom is pictured here.

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Here’s a shot of the queen bedroom. Yes, it’s lovely too.

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Bathroom for the Queen Bedroom:

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By now the only question you are asking is how do I book my weekend (or weeklong) away? And, where do I leave my significant other?  On the beach silly. Or, your significant other can walk to the pier. You can see it from the deck. Hungry? Walk to the restaurant. This place is perfect. I wouldn’t send you anywhere that isn’t now would I?

You need to contact Mary Helen, and book your time at the Surfside, South Carolina Condo. But because we live in the age of spammers, I can’t give you her cell number. Contact me at reneawrites(at @ ) gmail.com and I will put you in touch with her. And no, I don’t receive a commission, but I do hope, one day to spend a little time working on my novel, or just running away from life just long enough to visit a place that is twenty steps from the beach.

If being twenty steps from the beach isn’t enough to entice you, there are dolphins that you’ll see if you’re paying attention. 20140407_110808

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About Renea: Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Miss Robin’s Letter

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a lady I met named Robin. The encounter was the life-altering kind, one that changed me more than it changed her.

Robin would disagree.

In the post, I asked y’all to reach out and send Robin encouragement. If you haven’t read about Robin, please take a moment to do so here. As you can imagine, she has been on my mind lately and as the days ticked over into weeks I became more concerned. Each morning, a Robin-red-breast appeared outside my kitchen widow, quite rare for my house, unless it is about to rain. I sensed that the bird was a reminder to pray, and I have. Each time the bird lights on a limb I lift up my friend.

And then her letter came.

I unfolded the purple paper and read her words written with purple ink in a beautiful, artful exhibit of penmanship. Robin has been unable to write due to neuropathy in her hands and fingers. She wrote about being human, being sad, and doing her best to stay strong. She asked about my mother, told me that she had lost a friend on March 28th, but quickly changed the tone of the letter to thanksgiving.

Dear Ones, Robin is so very thankful for everything you have done. Please allow me to share her words:

“Every card, letter, and gift brought me tears (literally) of joy, hope and strength and I will answer all in time. They were all filled with prayers, blessings, and so much love.”

By the second paragraph, I was crying. Weeping actually, with gratitude for the legion of friends who simply mailed a card, invested a moment of their time, sent a scripture to a complete stranger.

Robin’s letter continued, “I have prayed for so long (more desperately this past year), for help-resources, connections, and means to live my last dream to print and publish a book of my poems. Thirteen years ago, the door was closed, but alas I have hope…I have never felt such a profound spiritual uplifting in my life. The Lord has send earth angels to walk a ways with me, and perhaps to lead me through the door to my last dream (publishing her book of poems).”robinletter1

Dear Ones, I can’t speak for you, but I feel like we’ve had a little bit of church, don’t you?

Today, right now, if you are reading this on Tuesday, April 15th, our sweet friend Robin is enduring a bi-lateral total mastectomy. robinletter0This surgery is going to set her back for who knows how long. But I really want to figure out a way to get her book of poems published. The manuscript is handwritten on purple paper with purple ink and is on 8 and ½ by 11 legal pads. Does anyone have suggestions? Of course I think big, so I would also like a way for y’all to buy copies of her book, but that is a long-term goal. Already, an anonymous reader has offered to help make this happen. What are your thoughts about just copying her hand-written work and binding it into an 8 and ½ by 11 sized book?

The most important thing is to pray her through the surgery and then we will focus on making her publication dream come through.

This, Dear Ones, is what happens when we reach out to a complete stranger. While they may think we are changing their life, it sure feels like they change ours. Doesn’t it feel good?

About Renea: Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com.

 
 

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Wordless Wednesday: Hellebores

Wordless Wednesday: Hellebores

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Images from this blog  may not be used without permission of the author.l

Renea Winchester is the 2012 Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year as well as the multiple award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Contact her through her website at http://www.reneawinchester.com or download her work via links above..

 

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Tripple Daffodils (Heritage Bulbs)

 

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Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Contact her through her website at http://www.reneawinchester.com
I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Flowers

 

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The Man with The Cardboard Sign

The Man with The Cardboard Sign

He stood at the corner of a busy thoroughfare with a folded piece of cardboard:

I DON’T DRINK

There were other words on the sign, scrawled out in desperation. Words that neither I, nor most of the other people who whizzed by, took the time to read.

The light was green. Thankfully, green. I despise that traffic light. If it catches you you’re stuck there for 2.5 minutes. And on a sunny Saturday as spring unfolds I can squeeze a lot of work into 2.5 minutes. I was traveling to the Community Garden at Christ United Methodist Church with a load of flowers I had rescued from a construction site. This is what I do, rescue flowers from development. I also grow my own food, so I really didn’t have time to plant the flowers; I had my own garden to tend.

Popping the back of my husband’s vehicle, a voice in my mind whispered, If you were standing on the corner of a busy intersection would someone stop to help?

The answer was a short. NO.

I have  experienced this thought before, and today I fail to adequately express these feelings into words. I have never picked up a homeless person before. Never. But I know this, there are many faceless people in this world, people that –for whatever reason–we don’t take the time to see. I could fill volumes with the reasons why we don’t see people, but this story isn’t about me, it is about, someone who has never experienced love.ross

Throwing my shovel and pitchfork onto the ground the voice whispered again: If you were standing on the corner of a busy intersection would someone stop to help?

Again the answer: NO. Because no one would see you.

Turning the key in the ignition, I backed out of the parking lot and made a U-turn where I picked up the man with a bent cardboard sign.

Lord, if I pick him up please don’t let him kill me, I prayed.

ross2“I’ve got some flowers to plant. Do you think you can help me with them?” I said through the rolled-down window.

He shouldered his backpack said, “Sure. I’m about to loose my storage space. I need all the work I can get.”

I didn’t have gloves for him; my own gloves which were ten-sizes too small for his hands.

“My name is Ross,” he said while extending his hand. I shook it. The skin was thick. Rough.

We set about the task of pulling weeds, attacking the ground with the intensity of two people who had known each other for years.

“I’ve been real lonely lately,” Ross said. “I let someone watch after my dog and she gave him to the Humane Society.”

Clumps of grass landed. “I miss my dog. He was my best friend.”

I nodded, understanding fully.

“I’m from Missouri,” Ross volunteered. “My dad was full-blood Choctaw and my momma descended from Jesse James. Her first name is James. So I guess you could say I’ve got a family of cowboys and Indians. Mind if I switch with you, I think the shovel would work better for me.”

We switched tools, cleared and planted the flower bed in twenty minutes. Looking toward my garden spot, I said, “let’s put those old corn stalks in the compost pile . . . if you have time.”

“I can clean the whole thing if you want,” Ross said. “Turn the dirt over too.”

We rolled up our sleeves and began.

“Yes, I sleep in the woods,” Ross said without my asking. “I’m homeless, but I’m not hope-less.”

He doesn’t sleep in the woods all the time. He’s staying with a friend right now. I spoke to her on the phone. He wanted me to tell her he’d be late, due to getting the job pulling weeds.

“My momma drank a lot when I was growing up, and my dad left when I was six. He used to beat the hell out of me. Momma beat me too.”

Ross needed to talk and I needed to listen. Not with my ears, but with my heart. Ross told me his story, one of drugs, alcohol, and children taken by the Department of Child Services.

“I need me a good Christian woman,” Ross said. “I got two children, both born premature, with crack in their system. I didn’t use cocaine. I was a drinker, but my wife . . . she like cocaine. The hospital took both babies right after they were born.”

Stalks of corn collected outside of my garden plot. Ross, who is over fifty years old, stacked them neatly, readied them for the compost bin. “I tried to get second born. It was boy. I knew I could raise him. I was starting to get myself together, even went to court, begged them to let me raise my boy, but they wouldn’t . . . on account of my drinking. His momma never got off crack. So I left her. Yes, I need me a good Christian woman.”

Both children landed in foster care. Both children were adopted by their foster families. “My kids are together as a family and I’m proud of that. They have something I never had.”

Even thought Ross didn’t say so, I knew he was speaking about love.

In the South we like to say, there but for the grace of God. We say it not knowing, or perhaps not caring, that there exists a smattering of people who didn’t ask to be born, who never-not even once-have known what love feels like. These are homeless, or poor, or angry, or scared (or perhaps all of these emotions) all because they weren’t wanted or loved. The obvious question is how can you give something you never had? When all you know is yelling and drinking, fists and fights how in the name of humanity is it possible to know anything else?

And so we thank God . . . for what? Because we aren’t like them? Because we have a home? Because we aren’t in jail? My friend Tara recently penned a blog that caused me pause. Please take a moment to read it here. Tara reminds her readers that Not all people who are homeless are lazy and don’t have any ambitions or dreams. Tara also wrote something particularly profound People should not be defined by their circumstances.

But we do define people by their circumstances, don’t we? We see Ross standing on the side of the road and we think he’s a bum. We think that he has done something to deserve the desperation he feels every single day. Never once does it enter our heart that he is a lonely soul whose hunger for love is so strong one can almost hear it.

We think that we deserve the best life has to offer, but what about Ross? What does he deserve?

“No one believed me when I said I stopped drinking. But I did,” Ross said while raising his chin proudly. “My momma didn’t even believe me. My step-dad didn’t either. I visited Momma before she died. Went back to Missouri and spent some time with her. She said, “Ross, I am proud of you for giving up the liquor.”

Thinking back on the sign Ross held, I realized that it was his affirmation I don’t drink. Ross is proud. He has conquered something that according to him, “had me in bondage for years.”

“God don’t make junk,” Ross continued. “He’s put on my heart a passion for the youth. I really want to talk to young people today. I think they need to hear about my life.”

I nodded. He’s right. But let’s get real, would you want Ross speaking to your teenager?

Would you? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d want someone educated and refined. You would want someone from a good family who could teach your children, someone with a degree in divinity who could teach the youth.

Teach them what?

“I’ve got me a job,” Ross said. “It starts next week. Going to be building houses,” Ross volunteered.

“Now you be careful,” I warned. “The construction field is full of drugs and alcohol. People who need a little something just to get buy.”

Ross smiled. “Aw now, I’m not worried. God has delivered me from all that. I don’t need to drink no more. I’ve been delivered.” Ross wiped dirt off his hands, pulled a briar out of the pad of his hand with his teeth. Then tucked the cardboard sign under his arm. At that moment I understood why the first words written were I DON’T DRINK. Ross is very proud of where he is.

“I’m not where I ought to be, but I’m not where I used to be either.”

I nodded, said a silent prayer of Thanksgiving.

“Only thing I’m addicted to now is chocolate. I buy chocolate chips by the bag. I’m kind of partial to the Publix brand . . . milk chocolate.”

I smiled. “Well now, we’ve all got our vices.”

Cranking the truck, I drove Ross to the CVS where his scooter was parked. Plans are currently underway to pay Ross to clean the rest of the community garden at Christ Church. If you’d like to make a monetary donation to the maintenance of the garden send your contribution to Christ United Methodist Church: Attention: Mrs. Lundstrom  1340 Woodstock Road, Roswell, Georgia 30075

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

 
 

Wordless Wednesday: Spring Cometh

20140302_17151120140302_17142320140301_17142620140301_17123920140302_17145920140301_17272920140228_101609Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

 

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The Poison of Jealousy

This week I have been suffering with an affliction known as poison sumac. Not to be confused with poison ivy, sumac is a woody plant, and in my case it was a tree-size. I encountered it during a rescue mission on a 50-year-old-farm and because there were no leaves, I mistook the vile thing for a popular tree and promptly dug it up and then rescued a bucket load of daffodils scattered around it.

I told the doctor, all of my itching is worth the discomfort.

As someone who can dig poison oak without so much as a blemish, this affliction both surprised me and had me sitting at the doctor’s office begging for a shot.(and pills and cream). Back home, I sat on the couch I replayed a conversation with an author friend of mine. She is a veteran author who has written for several esteemed magazines and recently released a charming book. However, like me, she has encountered quite a bit of what I call jealousy.

This year, as an effort to encourage readers to shop local, sustain local booksellers in the community, and feed starving authors (including myself), I am writing a quarterly newsletter featuring up to four books. Featured authors do not know I am choosing them and I have not been paid to write about them. In most cases, I haven’t personally met the author.

I provide that back story, because I recently learned that some authors have crossed their arms, pooched out their lips and are pouting. Yes, the jealous authors who-I’d bet money-don’t even know me, nor have they taken the time to know me.

Jealousy, you see, is like those tiny blisters on my arms. Jealousy starts small, with a pooched out mouth. Then it begins to itch. So we scratch it.

I included all four authors in the email mailing of my newsletter and those authors shared my newsletter with their readers. I don’t use a secondary carrier. Instead I paste the newsletter in my blog, AND, I send the newsletter in a personal email to the readers I have met during my years of traveling. (FYI: Your contact information is always safe with me).

Shouting out the books others have written is what I do. Again, I invest my time, for free. Here is an example of my blog posting last year featuring Susan, Jolina, Ann, and Karen. None knew of my plans. No compensation for my work. My newsletter is my gift, a valuable one, to my readers.

However . . .

Like the sumac blisters, jealousy festers. It collects and annoys until one either must scratch, or explode. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my most recent newsletter, this week, sparked an email from an unhappy author.

Yes. It. Did.

Not from the authors I featured, but one I did not.

I am writing to her today. No one shared your name with me but you need to know this. Lean in close because this is important. You do not understand how badly jealousy is damaging your career.

There. I said it. You are sabotaging your career.

I am not “always” promoting one particular author. I am promoting authors who have written books I like.

Lean in again. Support others. Be nice.

Readers who know me trust my opinion. I read several genres and you-missus unnamed author- must understand that we authors are in a big old gumbo pot together.

We are not in a competition. There are plenty of readers out there. That is why I pick several different types of books. I do not surround myself with people who read only what I read.

I want to grow. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better writer and a better friend. I want to make a positive impact on this earth. Most of all I want to help people.

Now I ask how did your remarks benefit you?

Did your remarks about another author make a reader want to buy your book?

Did your remarks about me want anyone want to help you sell your book?

Again, let me whisper. Stop it my colleague. Just stop.

Don’t scratch the jealousy blisters my friend. Treat them. Cure them. Stop scratching.

And yes, several people are going to think this blog post is harsh. But it is past time that rude and jealous authors be called out. Because here is the truth, I can be that author. We all can. Authors are afraid. We are loosing contracts. Publishers are dropping us. And people think Amazon is making us rich.

It isn’t. None of my author friends are wealthy. None of them.

Jealousy is inside all of us. We are consumed with fear that we aren’t selling enough books. We look at Facebook (which is you believe that hype you should really get a reality check), and we believe that we deserve the same sales as someone else.

We do deserve success. We have worked hard. And that is why I help others. Unprompted. Unsolicited.

If you are an author who has experienced jealousy, do your friend a favor, tell them to stop. Tell them how badly they are hurting you and their own career. Or, just forward them this blog.

If this blog has been forwarded to you it means someone cares enough about you to help. Perhaps the jealousy consuming you is keeping you from attaining the success you crave. If you are wondering why aren’t my books selling? Here is one possible reasons: your attitude toward others.

You can’t act on fear, or jealousy. Instead WRITE A GREAT BOOK. If you have a good book your colleagues will support you, IF you play nice.

Just be nice, or as my grandpa used to say “Be somebody!”

Stop scratching the itch, or soon you will be poisoned with jealousy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

 

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