Category Archives: Billy Albertson: Stories & Adventures

It’s about Community

Regular readers of my blog, and books, know that despite living near a giant, mega, monster metropolis I am passionate about sustaining a small-town feel; which is why I agreed to an event held at Cheeses & Mary on Valentine’s Day. Nothing says love like a meet and greet with your neighbor.

Cheeses & Mary is situated on a sweet spot where Milton meets Crabapple, Crabapple joins Roswell, and where history runs deep. This area wasn’t always 3-side brick homes and mega-retail. This particular patch of Georgia clay was once farmed, sharecropped, cotton picked, and cultivated into a vibrant community. Back then folk lived just fine and dandy without retail, but without community they starved.

The event began, as one might expect, with loads of luscious nibbles. Mary recreated “Escape Pods” using the recipe found on page 97 of my book, Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches.


Escape Pods


Luscious nibbles











Mary solicited donations from fellow small business, Vino 100, who provided the wine. Then we waited.


Libations via Vino100



Melissa, Hello Lovely owner; Wayne; Mary, owner of Cheeses & Mary

Event planning is risky, but then again so is owning a small business. Cheeses & Mary is partnered with another local business, Hello Lovely. They share the same retail space. On Valentine’s Day, guests opened the door and felt like they were walking into their own surprise party. A couple of times we actually said, “Surprise! We’ve been waiting for you.”

That doesn’t happen in Big-box Corporate America.

Hello Lovely is, in a word, lovely. I can’t exactly describe this store without overusing the word “lovely.” So I think the best way to describe the store is to say that when you leave, you feel beautiful. Comparatively, entering Cheeses & Mary is like stepping into the home of your best friend. Mary is the Queen of Cheese. Local cheese, jams, and butter so delicious it will “make you want to smack your grandma” (Farmer Billy’s words).

I don’t exactly feel loved or lovely when I leave Kroger, but I digress.



Also attending the gathering, Abbe Laboda who worked the room snapping the beautiful images I’m sharing here. Abbe Laboda and her husband Steve of Capstone Building Group serve as cornerstones for a community that has become very transient due to corporations relocating employees. Steve builds exquisite homes, and Abbe is the type of gal who runs to the grocery store for a gallon milk and ends up baking a meal for a sick member of the community.Being around this woman makes my heart leap with joy. Truly. God smiled when he put us together. My papaw had a label for folk like her: “Good people.”

These days, not many people have earned that title.


Darling Kendall. I want to put her in my pocket and take her with me to every event!

Perhaps the biggest surprise was when Kendall and her mom popped in. Miss Kendall played a crucial role in my book launch. I needed a volunteer to tweet, snap pictures, and post real-time Facebook posts. Kendall jumped in and invested about 6 hours on a day hot enough to make Lucifer sweat. And you know what, Miss Kendall didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.

Nope. She just wanted to help. Who does that? Kendall, that’s who. Kendall and people who understand why community matters.

Sometimes I reflect on that day and tears prick my eyes. Every time I looked up Kendall was snapping a photo. I am in her debt for many, many years to come.

As the day progressed visitors dropped by including Wayne Boston, whose finger is on the pulse of small businesses in the area. As I introduced him to owners Mary and Melissa, Billy Albertson entered. If you’re new to my blog, Billy is the subject of my latest book, Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, (traditionally published and available everywhere including Indie Bookstores). This was our reason for gathering, a celebration of heritage food, and hard-working folk.

“You know these are my old stomping grounds.” Billy said to the guests while gesturing with his hands. “Right up the road was Crabapple College.”

I was pleased that Billy’s daughter, Janet, had the opportunity to witness the love heaped upon her Daddy. For years she and her sister had said, “I wish someone would write a book about Daddy.”

They had no idea that I would end up writing two !

Wayne was listening to Billy speak about education. “Yeah, I grew up with reading, writing, and writh-ma-tick, but when I got up here they called it math! Oh, I had a dickens of a time with math.”

Wayne chuckled as others eased over to listen. Billy and Wayne continued speaking, when I overheard someone say, “No way!” Then another said, “Wow.”

Wayne Boston, who had dropped in on Valentine’s Day to support his community, met Janet Albertson, who chauffeured her Daddy to join us for a little nibble of cheese. Guess what? Wayne and Janet worked together many years ago! After Janet graduated from UGA she secured a job at The Southern Company. She worked there for ten years, married, and relocated. The event at Cheeses & Mary reconnected them.

This happens all the time, which is why I encourage folk to reach out and touch the hand of their neighbors. You are connected. Somehow, you are. We aren’t separated by six degrees. Abbe tells me that in Milton, folk are separated by three degrees, but when I attend these events the separation feels more like one.

We are a circle. Connected. Bound together. This is why we must support each other. We must build each other up.cheeses2

Facebook friend, Diane also dropped in. I adore meeting Facebook friends in person and Diane is a darling. She’s one of those folk who drop things off at Billy’s whenever he needs something. She gives out of the kindness of her heart. She gets it . . . that community matters. So does Debbie, a member our our just-formed Milton Writers Critique Group who also popped in for support.


“You really are wearing two pair,” Mary said.

Mary approached Billy, who commented that it was “so cold outside I’ve got on two layers of over-hauls.”

“Would you like a glass of wine?” She asked.

“You know, I think I just might,”he answered.

Janet and I looked at each other. Janet said, “oh, no, he’s hitting the bottle!”

Laughter. Lots of laughter. This is what you miss when you can’t make it to one of my events. You miss stories. Hugs. Laughter. Love. But those who couldn’t make it were supporting me in other ways. My phone chimed, and wouldn’t you know, several folk with schedule conflicts had ordered copies of my book through my website.

Billy leaned in close to Mary and whispered, “You know I make a bit of wine myself.” As Mary poured he continued, “Yeah, the doctor told me that a bit of wine every now and again would do me good.”

I’m sure the fine folk at Vino 100 agree.


Community. Cheese. Happy Cow in the background. #bestdayever

A little bit of food and fellowship does the body good too my friends. In a blink the event was over. Time for one last pose, one final squeeze, one last moment to love each other and remember that we were made to connect to others.

Amazon readers: Please remember that I receive no compensation from used books purchased on Amazon. Please follow the links highlighted and underlined on this page to order, or contact a local Bookseller for copies.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Order signed copies or, email her through her website at She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.



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Reader Recipe Challenge

Reader Recipe Challenge

Happy Book Anniversary to me. A little over a month has passed since Mercer University Press released, Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Melissa, a reader in Massachusetts, contacted me and suggested that I launch a recipe contest. Since I am always looking for new ways to promote my work and encourage others to read, I accepted her challenge.

As an aside, isn’t it great that I have readers of the Northern persuasion? I am so happy. She didn’t understand the “Dope in a Bottle,” and vowed to try that recipe just so she could experience a taste of the South.

Here is how the challenge works. Make a recipe from the book. Take a photo of both my book and the food (or beverage). Challenge friends to buy the book and try a recipe. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, tag your friends, and me, and share the images. I want to create a movement of readers sharing their favorite parts of the book, and encouraging their friends and family to support Independent Booksellers, and of course, buy my book. readingchallenge

Your photo is your entry into the contest. Make sure you tag me.

Obviously, I am going to challenge several readers to try the “Dope in a Bottle” on page 17. Especially readers like my Yankee friend Melissa.  My home-town readers will know all about a Dope in a Bottle. The Recipe Challenge is a fun way for readers to try new food, and come together as a community of foodies and readers. But the best part is that on November 22, I will give away a gift basket with goodies from the farm. Some of what you will receive is pictured here.

Table Runner NOT part of the contest. Winner receives Topsy Turvey, Dilly Beans, Botanical Interests Seeds, Hat, and a book bag made from Billy's overalls.

Table Runner NOT part of the contest. Winner receives Topsy Turvey, Dilly Beans, Botanical Interests Seeds, Hat, and a book bag made from Billy’s overalls.

If you are on Facebook, please share a video that I made about the contest. You may view it here.

Here is an example from Carol who decided to make her own recipe of cornmeal mush using Winchester Cornmeal (which you will learn about when you read the book). What a great idea. As you see, I just want you to read, make something delicious, and share it with your friends and neighbors.

Carol's entry

Carol’s entry








I want to take a moment to stress the importance of reading. Now, more than even, authors are struggling. Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is a labor of love, and investment of two years. So I challenge readers to do more than enjoy the book, please tell others it. For you see, this book isn’t about bologna. It is about the community that once was, and can be again if we make the investment. It is a celebration of hard-working folk across the US who survived on peanut butter and baloney sandwiches, and on payday treated themselves to a Dope in a Bottle.


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









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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Billy Albertson: Stories & Adventures



My newest friend, Olivia debelle Byrd

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.



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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 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


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:


Notice eggs on table Photo by Donna Baker


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


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


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


Photo by Ronald Pilcher


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


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


Photo by Ronald Pilcher


Forever Friends Photo by Kendall


And then Tara came, and I gained another sister.


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


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


Photo by Ronald Pilcher


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.


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.


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



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Potato Soup with Friends

In case you’ve missed the weather forecast lately, a “polar vortex” has descended upon Hot-lanta blanketing the region with temperatures we haven’t seen since 1996. In 1996, I still lived in my hometown: Bryson City, North Carolina. We didn’t have vortexes, we had cold snaps. Extended periods when the ground froze solid and your footsteps sounded with a crunch. I worried about cold back then. I knew to leave a trickle of water running (learned that the hard way). And my 1986 Dodge Colt stayed parked at the bottom of the hill. Except in extreme circumstances, work came regardless of weather. 

Courtesy Tracy Hoexter Photography All Rights Reserved

Courtesy Tracy Hoexter Photography All Rights Reserved

The weather yesterday in Hotlanta was extreme, as was the day before.

Knowing that Billy’s family had departed, Nanny goats held a meeting, determined that the coldest day of the year (six degrees to be exact) was the perfect day to start birthing babies. Those who have raised livestock are nodding right now. Cattle, sheep, goats, all seem to wait until the coldest day of the year to birth. They kick down stall doors, head out toward the top of the mountain where they drop their young.

Between New Year’s Day and January 6, 2014, Billy Albertson welcomed ten new baby goats, with more expected.


I thought about calling Monday night, thought I should remind Billy that he should trickle a little water in the bathroom, just in case.

Naw, I said to myself, he knows to do that. He’ll think I’m an idiot calling with a reminder.

Note to self: Always, ALWAYS listen to your inner voice.

Arriving at 11:45 am, I noticed Billy in the laundry room. The outside water had long-since frozen solid requiring Farmer Billy to carry water to the nannies. Nursing mothers need a lot of water to keep their milk flowing.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with this water?” Billy said, “seems to be loosing flow.”

But I knew. Rushing to the kitchen, I turned the faucet on full force. “You didn’t run the water last night?”

I soon had my answer.

Enter Kelle Mac, her three boys, Tracy Hoexter, her son and her husband. Using any excuse to both eat AND see the baby goats, we determined it was potato soup-baby-goat lovin’ time. Neighbor Joe had stopped by, poked his head into the well house and determined that a doo-hickey-valve-a-ma-bob needed replacing and that if he and Billy lit out after “dinner” he could remedy the water situation.

As Billy says, “that Joe shore is good to me.”

Photo credit: Tracy Hoexter Photography

Photo credit: Tracy Hoexter Photography

As we crowded into the tiny kitchen for a pre-dinner blessing, Billy’s voice cracked with emotion. He thanked “Our Father” for the meal, for the friends, for the children who stopped by. I am confident that were he to meet you, he’d thank Our Father for you as well.

Read more about Billy by downloading his latest story titled: A Hardscrabble Christmas. 

VIEW pictures Tracy took yesterday here. All Photo credits today belong to her. Thank you Tracy for sharing your gift with us.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Please download her e-book short story collection today. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. If you liked this recipe stay tuned. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Billy Albertson: Stories & Adventures


Prayer Request: Aisle 12


Billy Albertson teaching students about growing their own food.

It wasn’t my usual grocery store, the one where I organize my coupons according to aisle, and can get in and out as fast as humanly possible. No. I dropped into this one because I was headed in that direction and needed to pick up a few items. I don’t like to dally at the grocery store, especially not with Thanksgiving just around the corner. I was standing on yon side of the store when an announcement came over the loudspeaker, “Billy Albertson come to the pharmacy.”

God has been doing this to me lately, dropping me in places where he can use me; like the gas station on Monday (more on that in another post), and the Christian Authors Guild on Monday night. He’s been pruning me, carving a little nick in my ear so that I will hear His call.

Knowing that there is only one Billy Albertson, and he isn’t on any medication, I drove my buggy to the non-yon side of the store eagerly anticipating one of those love-filled Farmer Billy hugs. Perhaps he was there for a flu shot, I thought. My stomach flipped and my heart hurt when Billy turned and I caught a glimpse of him.

He had aged, badly. His skin dull, lackluster. His stance, stooped over. His eyes tired.

“What in the world?” I asked while easing him toward the door. “What is going on with you?” Whatever he had, it was obvious he needed to be home.

“Doctor’s don’t know,” he pulled up his shirt sleeve revealing a puffy calamine-painted arm, “they’ve cut a hunk off’a me and sent it off.”

Dialing Daughter Number One I said, “Your father is ill. What is going on?”

I learned that Billy’s doctor-an incredible, and very competent and compassionate man- had spent two hours examining Billy, then sent him straight to the hospital earlier in the week for a variety of tests. Billy does not have shingles. Billy is home and for the family, neighbors, and concerned friends who may be reading this, we also need prayers for rest. According to all reports, no one really knows what is going on. This is a random ailment. All I know is that Billy is ill and he is not himself, and that we must wait for the biopsy results. Billy’s doctor is on this like a chicken on a June-bug, but the Great Physician is ultimately in charge.

Chicken Man and Friends: Mr. Coleman and Mr. Albertson

Chicken Man and Friends: Mr. Coleman and Mr. Albertson on Book Launch Day

“You read in the Bible where Job took pieces of broken pots and scraped his skin,” Billy said. “I am in such agony I could scrap myself clean to the bone.”

Sounds like Chicken Pox doesn’t it? It also sounds like Shingles. Right now I do not know, neither do the doctors.

What I do know is that God put me in the grocery store, the one I never visit so I could be placed in Billy’s path; so I could ask you to pray. Even though the biopsy is marked STAT, the doctor doesn’t anticipate receiving the results until Friday. Would you join me in praying that the results come sooner? Would you ask that the doctor know how to treat Billy’s condition?

And would you please pray for healing?

Blessings to you!

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


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