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The rest of the book launch story

Things have settled, just a bit, after the launch of my latest title: Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. The bookseller has packed up the unsold stock, I have pulled up the handmade signs and rested (just a bit). Life is returning to normal….slowly.blogposttracyhoexter

Those who follow me on Facebook have seen photos, or have caught a glimpse of the special day here. However, like many big events a lot of things go wrong before anything goes right. So today I thought I would tell you some things that didn’t work out like I planned so you know, the rest of the story.

The weather: Having an outside event is always a gamble. I blocked off an entire week to tidy up the farm (three acres), and wouldn’t ya know, we had a wet August.

The weeds: Because of the continuous rain, weeds jutted up higher than my head. Even when Crop Mob Atlanta  invested a good portion of the day, there simply was too much to do and too few workers. As the days slipped by there wasn’t enough of me to go around. Remember, Farmer Billy is 82 years old, and I feel at least 102. We all did what we could, but had there been more time, I wanted to do more. A HUGE shout out to Tina who came to the farm and push-mowed Billy’s lawn in the blazing heat.

The food: I wanted a simple cake with the book title written across it; then I wanted several stalks of corn decorated by hand. A request that shouldn’t be too difficult. Seriously, slap the frosting in a bag, and draw a green line then tiny yellow dots to resemble corn. But no, technology is here and the lady who took the initial order said, “bring me a picture of corn and we’ll just copy it and stick it on the cake.” That just wouldn’t do. I wanted simple. White cake, green frosting, yellow ears of corn. Seriously, the cake just about made me loose my mind. Eventually, I found someone-at Target bakery no less- who said, “oh, no problem. I can do that.” Sigh….

The vendors: This event was more than a book launch, it was a community event. I asked other people to come sell their wares knowing that it would show people what a community looks like. All of the vendors were perfect, but I couldn’t help but worry if they sold anything. Was the trip worth the effort? (Must have been because someone asked me to do an event every year).

The neighbor: Because parking is extremely limited, Neighbor Joe graciously offered his front lawn. Two days before the event his mother became ill and he flew across the country to be with her. Parking cars on someone else’s property without the property owner present made me very, very nervous.

The worry: That no one would come. I must be honest, numbers were down from my first launch. I don’t know if that is because of the heat (it dried up and became hot and humid on launch day), or because there is truth to the rumor that people just aren’t reading anymore.

Is that true? Have you stopped reading? Hope not.

The sales: Being an author means you invest a year of your life writing and another year waiting for publication. During this time you receive zero compensation. Then you must pray, beg, hope, and pray some more that what you have written is worthy, and that readers might be kind enough to linger at the cover, leaf through the book, purchase the book, and then (most importantly) tell others.

That is what I am asking today, that you tell a friend. If you purchased a copy of Farming, please tell a friend. Most local booksellers have signed copies in stock. Most of them will ship these copies to you. Here is a list.  But I must think national, not regional.

Regional thinking won’t help me make a living as an author.

The book has launched. I have passed it to readers and today I challenge them to spread the word. Tell others. Talk about the book. Write blogs, newspaper articles, send emails to book club groups. Help me get Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches out of the South, because this book isn’t about “baloney.”

I can not do this alone.

I just can’t. Isn’t that ironic? That Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is a celebration of community, and that it will take a community of readers for the book to become successful. blogpostposey

So for those who haven’t read an excerpt, here is a little taste . . .

The Tradition of Bologna Sandwiches

There is no shame in enjoying a fried bologna sandwich. Some foods  trigger memories. Whether we’re smelling a peach or trying sushi for the first time, food binds our taste with our experiences. Food memories, good or bad, linger in our adult lives. I bet you can still remember the first time you tasted a gooey campfire s’more dripping with melted chocolate and marshmallow fluff: the feel of a rough graham cracker as it touched your fingers; the anticipation as you pressed the crackers together, blending chocolate with puffy white goo. Your tongue traced the edge of the cracker. You wanted to savor each bite, but then your best friend said, “Bet you can’t cram the whole thing in your mouth.”

So you did.

Billy Albertson loves bologna sandwiches. It does not matter how Oscar Mayer spells B-O-L-O-G-N-A, for Billy it’s “baloney.” In his day,
fried “baloney” sandwiches were a delicacy. They still are today. Stereotypes label Southerners with an advanced level of outdoor
expertise. Southerners can kill a buck, spit tobacco juice through gapped teeth, wrestle alligators, and survive in the woods while wearing only a coonskin cap and carrying a pocketknife. Truth is, few Mason-Dixon Line residents enter the wilds of nature intent on snaring an animal with which to feed their family these days. But we sure do enjoy a good fried bologna sandwich.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna SandwichesMountain 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.  Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Billy Albertson: Stories & Adventures

 

The Survivor’s Side of Suicide by Julie Cantrell

Today, I am sharing with you a post from my darling friend, Julie Cantrell. Many of you know that my daughter’s friend killed herself earlier this year. So when I read Julie’s words they touched me so deeply that I had to share them with you. If you want to comment directly on Julie’s post here is the link. Share this my friends. We are tasked with saving lives. We are tasked with doing everything within our power to love, love, love.

The Survivor’s Side of Suicide

Posted on September 8, 2014

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Suicide is one ugly word. It’s the kind of word that swings heavy from lips. The kind that is whispered, and stilted, never sung. As an author, I build my life around words. Every word has worth. Even those words we are not supposed to say.

But suicide is the one word I do not like. I wish there was no need for such a word in our world. Especially since 1997, when my teen brother ended his own life two months before his high school graduation.

It is one thing to be on the other side of suicide, where you may offer prayer or casseroles or even a hug. It is another thing entirely to be on the side of the survivor, after a loved one puts a gun to the head or a rope to the neck or a blade to the vein.

That dark depth of despair is no easy channel to navigate because unlike every other form of death, this one was intentional. This one could have been prevented. This one carries immeasurable sting.

The what-ifs and but whys and I wonders never cease. They haunt all hours, whether moonlit or shine.

And the stares don’t stop either, the constant conversation that hangs silently between friends — at the grocery store, or in the church pews, or at the birthday party. No one says it, but they are thinking… That poor mother, how does she stand it? Or – That poor child, knowing his father took his own life.

What people on that side of suicide don’t understand is that we, the survivors left in the wake, are barely keeping our heads above water. We don’t want pity, or sympathy, or stares. We don’t want whispers, or questions, or help. We want one thing only. We want our loved ones back.

And there’s one simple way you can give this to us.

Talk about the people we loved and lost. Don’t dance around us as if their ghost is in the way. Acknowledge the lives they lived. Recognize the light they once shined. Laugh about the fun you once had together.

There’s nothing you can tell us — no detail too small, no memory too harsh — that will hurt us. We crave it all. We are hungry for any piece of time travel you offer. Bring us back, to that space, when the one we loved was in the here and now.

Suicide is something most of us struggle to understand. It is difficult to rationalize the selfish part of such an act. How could someone not care about the pain they would throw on their loved ones? How could someone not be strong enough to stay alive?

But here’s the truth: suicide was not the cause of my brother’s death. Depression was the cause of his death. And depression is a beast unlike any other. It is an illness we still struggle to cure, despite all the therapeutic and pharmaceutical intervention available today.Sometimes, even with all the help in the world, a person cannot see through the pain. They cannot imagine a better day ahead. They see only more hurt. And when I say hurt, I mean suffering. Blood-zapping, brain-numbing, soul-bursting agony. 

Imagine this: you wake every day as a prisoner. You are trapped in a cell with no freedom in your future. You are tortured — physically, emotionally, psychologically. The anguish never stops. Just when you think you cannot survive another blow, it comes again. More pain.

You try to ignore the ache. You cannot. You try to numb the hurt. You cannot. You try to rise above the pain. You cannot. The brutality persists. And you see no end to it.

If you knew you had to endure only one more round of abuse, or one more month, or even a year, or longer — If there was an end in view, you could be strong enough to handle it. You could take whatever is thrown at you because you want, more than anything else, to live. 

You are a sensitive soul and you have so much left in you to give. You want only to love and be loved. But the cell has you trapped. You have tried everything. There is no end to the insufferable situation. 

A person with depression becomes suicidal when they finally give up all hope. When they accept that nothing they do, no matter how long they survive, no matter how many medications or prayers or therapists they turn to, the pain will never end.

Can you imagine the pain you would have to be in to take your own life? Can you imagine the fear of a suicidal person (regardless of faith), daring to face the unknown because even the possibility of eternal hellfire or permanent purgatory or absolute absence seems less scary than another day in this world?

When Robin Williams passed away, the world was abuzz weighing the controversial issues of mental illness, depression, and suicide.

While some people were unable to extend kindness or understanding, proving we have a long way to go in our culture’s recognition of chemical imbalances, the international conversation gave me hope. It proved that people are finally willing to say the word SUICIDE out loud, without the hushed whispers and back corner gossip. Putting this word on equal footing with all the other words in our vernacular is important. It lessens the sting.

I consider this progress, and I am optimistic the forward momentum will continue.

It is time.
I write this blog today for several reasons:

§  One, I am proud to have been the sister to an amazingly bright spirit who left this world too soon and whose memory I want to keep alive.

§  Two, I want to increase understanding and support for the millions of people struggling with chemical imbalances.

§  Three, I want to offer support and empathy to all who have lost a loved one to suicide and encourage you to speak out loud to honor their spirit and to educate those on the other side.

§  Four, and most importantly, I have a very important message for anyone struggling with depression.

One week after my brother died, we received notice that he had landed the career opportunity he wanted with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. That job may have been enough to offer him the key to that cell, the something to cling to, the reason for reason. Maybe, if he could have stuck it out one more week, he would still be alive today. Seven days, and he may have had hope again.

Today, when I see someone struggling for hope, looking for a signal, a reason, proof that their life matters and that the pain will indeed end, I think of my brother and that phone call that came one week too late.

If you are struggling with depression, please remember… you are in this world for a reason. You have a very important journey you must complete. You were born to accomplish something, something only you know. You will suffer, you will hurt, you will feel hopeless and alone at times. But you are not in that space forever. Keep walking, keep moving forward, and you will find your way through in time.

When you hit bottom, please remember this: You are loved. You are never alone. You were born with everything you need to survive this journey. You matter.

And once you are on the other side, as you will soon be, then, you will look back with wiser eyes, the eyes of a survivor. You will know your soul survived the stretching season. And you will move through the world with greater empathy and understanding, a gift like none other. For you, sensitive one, are the blessed. And we need you here. In this life.

Be brave. Wage war. Hold fast to the light inside of you. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

This post will be shared across multiple platforms for National Suicide Prevention Week. Learn more about suicide prevention by visiting: http://www.suicidology.org/

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Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Into the Free and When Mountains Move. She works to promote suicide awareness and prevention in memory of her brother, Jeff Perkins. Learn more: www.juliecantrell.com

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in A Glimpse into My Life, Wrinkles and all

 

What is My New Book About?

What is My New Book About?

Authors are often asked, “What is your book about?” The title of my latest book, Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches (hopefully) provides a clue. In this post I let images from the book launch describe exactly what the book is about. Mercer University Press released Farming on September 1st, and the Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia helped me launch Farming into this big world on September 6, 2014. Now it is up to you, my readers, to decide if the book is worthy. For local readers, there are two more opportunities to meet me: September 11, at 11 am at Bookmiser in Roswell; September 13th from 1-4 at the Visitor Center at 617 Atlanta Street, Roswell, Georgia (parking in back of building); and September 16 at 6:30 at Fox Tale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA.

The week following a release is a nervous time. Will readers enjoy my stories? Will they be excited enough to tell others, to call their book clubs, to give it as a gift? Share this blog. Tell their neighbors, friends, preacher, and hairdresser?

Hope so. My success depends on you. Personal recommendations make books successful. So I now enter my time of waiting. Hoping. Praying that you enjoy my offering. Many will read the title, and judge Farming without opening the pages. My heart aches for those people, because this is what they are missing:

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Notice eggs on table Photo by Donna Baker

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Andrew Wordes, “The Chicken Man” and Mr. Ora Coleman were both dear friends of Billy’s

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Photo by Donna Baker, who introduced me to Noemi’s Tamales. Noemi’s Tamales are mentioned in Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches

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Heritage Corn: No GMO. Family grown since the 1800s Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Billy signing copies of the first book about him: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love, and Tomatoes Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Raymond Atkins made an appearance on his way to launch his own book at Fox Tale Book Shoppe in Woodstock GA. Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Forever Friends Photo by Kendall

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And then Tara came, and I gained another sister.

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You ask what Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is about. This Dear One, answers that question.

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Billy with Abbe who helped plant corn and okra Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Photo by Ronald Pilcher

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Sister Betty and I modeling Polly Dolly’s beautiful aprons made from recycled jeans and shirts. Photo by Ronald Pilcher

Ana Raquel, mentioned in the book.

Ana Raquel, mentioned in the book.

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Forever Family Photo by Ronald Pilcher

Linger on this photo. Take it all in. If this photo doesn't make you want to buy a copy of my book, I shall cap my pen.

Linger at this photo. Take it all in. If this image doesn’t make you want to buy a copy of my book, I shall cap my pen.

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Image by Tracy Hoexter Photography

 

How to order: All bookstores can order a copy of this book for you. Find your local bookstore here.  For those who don’t have local bookstores in your area. Here, and here, are the online links. Please note that an electronic version will NOT release for a couple more months. Order directly through the publisher using this link. Plug in the word facebook, for a 20% discount and FREE shipping.

THANK YOU to everyone who captured images of the launch: Donna Baker, Ana Raquel, Carmen Slaughter, Ronald Pilcher, Tracy Hoexter Kendall my roving photographer, and many, many more. Hosting an outdoor launch on a working farm is an exhausting feat. Thank you to Crop-Mob Atlanta, Tina (who cut the grass with a push mower in 90+ degree heat), and to the Georgia Chapter of the Rescue Sisters who helped whenever I asked. Thank you to my sponsors, Botanical Interests and Growbest Plant food who offered freebies, and Noemi’s Tamales for agreeing to set up a booth and sell tamales. They were a hit. Thank you to Rita of Polly Dolly’s Creations who made lovely aprons from Billy’s worn-out clothing and used feed sacks, and Cotton Albertson whose Folk-Art carvings remind me of my favorite uncle. Much love to my beloved husband, and my daughter Jamie who worked the Dilly Bean and Cornmeal table. I am blessed, truly blessed.

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. Mercer University Press  released Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches in September. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 
 

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Do you see what I see? Why I do not add pesticides . . . ever!

Another #Wordless Wednesday glimpse at my garden.

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Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches (available through all booksellers);  and 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. 

Order Copies of Farming directly through Mercer. Call for 20% discount and free shipping.

Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

When Tomatoes Take Selfies

When Tomatoes Take Selfies

What happens when our Botanical Interests Tomatoes decide to take Selfies:

Click the links to order your own Botanical Interests Seeds

Pictured: Cherokee Purple; Beefsteak; Romas; Indigo Rose

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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 September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

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Extending The Growing Season

Extending The Growing Season

After July 4, a panic fills my soul; fear that the growing season will soon come to a close. Admittedly, this year I have yet to put up the first jar of tomatoes as – again – the gardening began late due to cold weather. Last year it was too wet to plow. . . this year, too cold to start early.

Still, I can do the math. 30-60-90 means frost will be here before you know it.

Thankfully, Southerners experience two growing seasons.

Now is the time to plant late beans and squash, but most important, it is time to root tomatoes for an extended harvest.

Simply snip off a section of the plant (preferably one that already has blooms), and place the cutting in water. Seven to ten days later you have this. 

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After strong roots have developed dig a very deep hole.
Then add shredded newspaper and egg shells. Do not add fertilizer at this point. You will kill the plant.20140707_202512

Water well until the newspapers are a mushy mess and add tomato.

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Add Dirt. Add MORE water. I mean enough to make a puddle. Then wait a moment and let the newspapers absorb the water.

After that, water a bit more. Think of this as the mud-pie phase. 

 

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Then walk away. There is nothing more to do. Just walk away and let the tomato do its thing. This week is the perfect time to plant tomatoes. We’re getting a bit of daily rain and the plant shouldn’t even wilt. n the beginning you may have to water every other day, but please, for love of your tomatoes, do not water tomatoes every day. Why you ask? Because they will taste like water, of course, instead of having that rich flavor we all enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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 Two weeks after planting your rootlings, sprinkle a bit of fertilizer around the plant, FAR away from the stalk so that you do not burn the plant. Remember, most tomatoes fail and get blossom end rot because they are receiving too much water and too little calcium. Egg shells=calcium. Too much water=unhappy gardeners.

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, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

My July Reading List

It’s Summer: the perfect time to wiggle your toes into the sand and lay back in a lawn chair while reading a good book. I don’t know about you, but July is passing too quickly. There are so many books, and so little time. So let’s get to it. Here are my summer read suggestions.

NEW BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ:

authornewslettersummerFrom Erika Marks, It comes in waves:Y’all know how much I loved Erika’s book, Little Gale Gumbo, well now she’s written about Folly Beach! ESPN invites Claire back to Folly Beach for a documentary on women in surfing, Claire decides it might be the chance she needs to regain control of her life and reacquaint herself with the unsinkable young woman she once was. But not everything in Folly Beach is as Claire remembers it, most especially her ex-best friend, Jill, who is now widowed and raising her and Foster’s teenage son. An unexpected reunion with Claire will uncover a guilt that Jill has worked hard to bury—and bring to the surface years of unspoken blame. Visit Erika’s website to learn more and follow links to buy a copy of her book.

 

 

 

From Mary Alice Monroe, The Summer Wind: If you ever have the opportunity to meet MAM, take it. After penning 16 books, and pursuing her passion for the environment, she has earned a place in my heart. She loves Monarch Butterflies, Baby Turtles, and although I have never witnessed it, I bet she has physically hugged a tree just to say thank you for providing me shade. She writes about the South and its people like none other. Pick up a copy of any of her books. You’ll be glad you did.authornewslettersummer3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

authornewslettersummer2For those on a Staycation: Meet Grant Jerkins and Eula Shook: Listen up, because this is important. If you’re stuck at the pool with the kids. If you’ve just started a new job and you don’t have a vacation planned, and if you like a short story that is flawlessly written, drop everything and download a copy of Eula Shook right now. Then, you’ll do what everyone else has done, snatch up the phone, call your bookseller, and reserve a copy of Grant’s other books. What else is Grant working on? Something wonderful….of course. Visit his website to find out.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Talk to Strangers by Amanda Kyle Williams: For those who like a little tension and intrigue in their books, let me introduce Amanda Kyle Williams. Merciful heavens, take a look at the Book Trailer. Need I say more? You don’t have time reading what I have to say about this book, want to dive into Don’t Talk to Stranger. Available everywhere books are sold.authornewslettersummer1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FarmingcvrAnd finally, about me:I am counting the days until the release of Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. I am happy to release the cover to you first, before Facebook fans get a peek. The book will launch in September. However, you may preorder by clicking this link. While the website says Farming is “backordered” what that really means is printing hasn’t started. Preordering will guarantee that you receive a copy of Farming as soon as it comes off the press. Shipping is always free at Mercer University Press. For Amazon customers, I recommend ordering directly from the publisher. For those, like me, who are loyal to the brick and mortar buildings, all booksellers will  be able to order a copy of Farming. I am planning several events in Georgia and North Carolina, keep an eye on my website and do come see me.

Note: My selection process is one of personal taste. The authors chosen do not know of my selection and I do not receive compensation.

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, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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