My newest friend, Olivia debelle Byrd

06 Oct
My newest friend, Olivia debelle Byrd

Sometimes life throws you a curveball and sometimes the ball hits you smack-dab in the heart.

Such was the case a few weeks ago during the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance annual conference. SIBA is one of those groups that get behind an author and her story. They cheer, celebrate, encourage. Wanda and a host of talented staff and board members love books, love authors, and readers; even more exciting, they love connecting all three. So it was with much excitement that I loaded up some pickled okra freshly prepared by yours truly and pointed the car toward Norfolk VA for a weekend of meeting booksellers, bloggers, and fellow authors.

However, life, and her unpredictability had other plans.

For the record it takes a lot to draw me away from an event. I’m a people person. I don’t cancel events, ever. I do what I say when I say and I had spent the better part of a week pouring a whole lot of love into tiny jars. Going to SIBA was my opportunity to make my people proud. Put me in a room full of people and I’ll wear myself out trying to meet and greet everyone I can. I blame the Winchester genes. We like people . . . want to get to know folk, pull them into our large family.

However when one gets heart-sinking news, one must change plans.

Texting the staff of Mercer University Press, I tearfully expressed my regret while hoping and praying that they would understand. They had paid for my place at the SIBA table, a spot that would be empty as copies of my book Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches waited for me, the author who would never arrive.

I cried.

I cried a lot.

Cried because of the bad news, because I let my publisher down, because I wanted, needed this opportunity to meet booksellers from across the South. I cried because I had put a lot of pressure on myself to make Farming ten times more successful than my first book, In the Garden.

Honesty. That’s what y’all get in my posts. Nothing but honesty.

But life, and God, had other plans.

By the end of the day I was weary. I had fretted until my head hurt, until stomach acid burned the back of my throat. Then I received a text from Mercer saying, “Don’t worry, Olivia debelle Byrd  is at SIBA talking to booksellers about Farming. Who is Oliva debelle Byrd you ask? A stranger. She had never met me, hadn’t read a single word of my book, nor I of hers.

In other words, Oliva didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.

But there she was, doing something that I daresay no one else would have done, she was talking about my book, and, her book. Want to know more about her? Read this link. She’s a pretty classy Southern lady. att

Pause for a moment and think about this gift, this remarkable gift that Olivia bestowed upon me. For there is no greater gift than your time. So today, I am giving away a copy of Save My Place, Olivia’s latest book. I figured that the best way to say “Thank You” is to via my blog, and, throw in a copy of her book to you, my readers.

I am grateful, very grateful to Miss Olivia.

Here’s how this spur-of-the-moment contest works. Leave a COMMENT here, on my blog. I ask you to leave a comment here versus on Facebook because more people will see it here. Tell me what you think about Miss Olivia’s kindness, or let’s dig deeper shall we? Have you ever reached out to a random stranger? Share you story, so that others will be blessed.

And Miss Olivia, if you’re reading this post, I am in your debt.

I will award the book to a random reader on October 22nd. The winner must provide their mailing address (which will not be shared).

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 She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “My newest friend, Olivia debelle Byrd

  1. Anita Scroggins

    October 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I met Olivia several years ago and she is the real thing. Lovely lady and I would be honored to win her new book.

  2. Barbara Dover

    October 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Miss Olivia is a kind person and an inspiration. This story reminds me of a meeting that I had today with the grandparent guardian of one of my students. She said that they have a sign posted at their house with the words, “How can I help you today?” She is raising her grandchildren to be thoughtful, kind, and eager to help others. Your story sounds like Miss Olivia was raised the same way!

  3. Satin Sheet Diva

    October 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    What ever news you received must have been bad indeed so I’m sending you hugs to ease the pain of both having to miss the event and whatever it was that stepped in your way. Kudos Ms. Byrd :-), it’s nice to hear there is kindness still in the world.

  4. Rivers Papaw

    October 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve never reached out to a random stranger. We are all God’s children! I don’t know where to find one!

  5. lapais

    October 7, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Everyone needs an Olivia sometime in their life and everyone should be an Olivia sometime in their life! Kudos to her for helping you out!!!

  6. Karen Nolan Bell

    October 7, 2014 at 12:35 am

    The first thing I thought was that you, dear sweet Renea, would have gladly stepped in if it had been the other way around. We Southern girls are raised to love and to make everybody a member of the family. Hey, where I come from almost everybody IS related–at least on one side of the family. It is so refreshing to know that Olivia is a part of the family and knows how to open her heart and life to help out a sister in need. Proud of you, girl! You’re an encouragement to us all.

  7. Jessie Voigts

    October 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    her new book looks amazing! And even more, what a very good (new) friend! WOW!

  8. lettersfromawhoremongerswife

    October 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    God has dropped many Olivia’s into my life…some known, some strangers…. just in time…just in the nick of time. Right when I thought I couldn’t take walk another bumpy road….an Olivia came along and gave me a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on. He does things like that for us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: