Category Archives: Book Reviews

Tough Questions for Emerging Authors

Authors usually fall into two categories: those who love editing, and those who prefer root canals. For me, editing is one of the most creative aspects of the writing process. Editing allows the author a moment of separation where they place their work in the hands of a professional; someone who – ideally – does not work for them, but instead, works for the characters and the love of a well-written story.

Your job, as the author, is to trust your editor. Your job is to deliver the manuscript and walk away. Your job during this separation time is to develop a marketing plan. While your editor works, build a platform and a PR machine.

Here are two harsh truths: if you do not edit your book, it will contain embarrassing errors. If you do not edit your book, do NOT release your book.

Releasing a book without adequate editing is a recipe for financial and professional disaster. As my grandpa said, “All you’ve got is your good name.”

Last week a colleague asked, “How do you know when to postpone a book release?”

My response: “You knew the answer in your heart before you asked.”

We live in a time where big name self-publishing companies charge for edits as part of a “shopping cart service.” An author must ask these questions, will I form a relationship with my editor, or am I just a number? Is my shopping cart editor investing time in my manuscript, or merely reading words on a page?

I have relationships with my clients because I believe in their work. I do not accept every submission; to do so devalues your work, and mine. Unlike major self-publishing giants like Create Space, I care about the success of your book.  Create Space charges $ 210 for an edit of 10,000 words which is roughly 45 double-spaced pages, or $4.78 cents a page. Does anyone think the staff at Create Space reads, edits, and then re-reads any manuscript?  No. Mega self-publishing companies such as the now-defunct Tate Publishing require(d) their editors to review a certain number of pages every day. No re-read. Just a quick read and on to the next client.

By comparison, I charge $ 2.00 a page, I invest time in your manuscript. I know your name.

Self-publishing companies don’t give a Tinker’s Toenail if you sell a single copy. They make their profit, from you,  upfront. If you sell a thousand copies . . . well, they call that gravy.

Yet every single day authors intent on self-publishing fight an inner voice urging them to hire an editor. They know they should invest in their manuscript which is why they ask relatives to read their work (who all pronounce it the next bestseller, or simply smile, nod politely and say it’s good). As I have stated in numerous workshops, there is a difference between a reader and an editor.

Ultimately, most self-published authors possess a strong independent spirit which benefits them when selling their book. This same spirit harms an author who releases an unpolished book. Independent spirits feel they must do things “their way.” Sadly, I have watched many authors deeply regret this attitude. They didn’t listen to my advice and when they email me with their regrets it is too late.

Many self-published authors overlook an important part of the publication puzzle. Answer these questions: Does my reputation matter? Is seeing my name in print more important than accurate, error-free content? Will I regret rushing this title?

Dear One, the book you release has nothing to do with you . . .  nothing. You write for the story, and for the person who reads your story. If you are writing for personal gratification mosey down to Kinkos and print ten copies. Keep one and give the rest to family. Trust me, today’s readers are weary of error-laden books!

Your readers deserve the best book possible, anything less dilutes the beauty of writing and damages your name, especially if you plan on releasing other titles. Here’s another question you must answer: Have I done everything possible to polish and perfect my manuscript, or have I taken the easy path and overlooked mistakes so I can hold my self-published book?

Only you know the answer.

About Renea:headshot

Renea is an award-winning author, blogger, and Georgia Writers Group Board Member. She has belonged to a phenomenal critique group for over a decade. She is a passionate friend of SIBA and local independent booksellers throughout the South. Renea is vested in the writing community of North Carolina and Georgia and has judged multiple writing competitions. Every client she has accepted has enjoyed the pleasure of publication either traditionally, or via self-publication. Contact her here.

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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in A Glimpse into My Life, Book Reviews, Uncategorized


Tis the Season . . . for book giving

Tis the Season . . . for book giving

Friends, it seems like only yesterday I was picking vegetables and mixing the brine for Dilly Beans; seems like I have only blinked twice since Mercer University Press launched Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches into this great big world. Time, as they say, truly is only a blink, a breath, a moment. This has been a year of loss, the murder of a dear friend, the death of my mother and then on small business Saturday, while enroute to three events. . . BAM! I was in a car accident.

Needless to say, I missed all three events. I am still healing, and am thankful for your prayers.

Despite my happy posts on the social media avenue I call “Fakebook,” as the holiday’s approach I feel grief breathing down my neck. My motto, “keep putting one foot in front of the other,” will not sustain me indefinitely and despite my best attempts to press on past the grief, I know that the only way to move forward is to let the process work. Grief must work. Never fear, I will not allow a spirit of grief to overtake me, but I do sincerely ask for your prayers as the holidays approach.

Life hands us our own set of challenges doesn’t it? Each day it seems that more of us are struggling, scratching, clawing just to have a little joy in our lives. My prayer is that you have a safe and blessed Holiday season and that you will always feel loved. 
But life does move forward; seasons come and go. Time heals. So with that I want to introduce you to two new authors I have discovered.

Marly Youmans grew up in the South and now makes her home “up North.” (but she returns to the mountains every chance she gets). She spent most of this fall in Jackson County, NC with her mother where she launched her latest book, Glimmer Glass. Today I write about her previous book, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. I mention it only because I haven’t a moment to begin Glimmer Glass, which is receiving wonderful reviews. Her words truly are spellbinding. From the first chapter the reader is drawn toward the story. Youmans possesses the talent of word-weaving that makes me proud to be an author. Winner of multiple awards, including the Ferol Sams Award, I strongly recommend giving A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage as a gift this year. Read an excerpt from the book here.

Billy Coffey is a God-fearing genius of a writer that I stumbled upon earlier this year. Like Youmans, his prose is strong. Confident. Bold. Both are third-person authors, arguably the most difficult prose to master. Coffey’s latest book, Heart of Dark Wood hooks readers from the beginning.

There are times in my life when I am hungry for a book that challenges me. This is the one. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter: Allie Granderson had not cried once in the five hundred forty-two days since everything ended; even as she sat hunched and dying, she vowed not to cry on the five hundred forty-third. 
Wow. That my friends is a hook !

For readers who want to read about Christmases past my ebook, A Hardscrabble Christmasis available via electric format. This first-person account of Billy Albertson’s life and how Christmas has changed in the 82 years he has been on this earth will certainly put you in the spirit.

Do you still maintain traditions in your family? Cookie bakes, dough ornaments, wassail, or Russian tea? Do you know that way-back-when folk used to dress up for Christmas like we do for Halloween? Read more about it in A Hardscrabble Christmas.

As always, your support matters to me. This has been a difficult year and family obligations prevented me from marketing Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches as I would have liked. I had to let go of those worries and when I did, when I truly let go something magical happened, readers like you carried the torch. You told a friend. You visited an independent bookstore. You ordered books personally through my website. You sustained me with your thoughts, prayers, and kind deeds. As we celebrate this beautiful season of hope, I am filled with prayers of thanksgiving. I am so humbled and honored to have received the kindness you have bestowed upon me. If you haven’t yet ordered a copy of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, please consider doing so today. Any success I have is because of your support.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Farming:

There is no shame in enjoying a fried bologna sandwich. Some foods trigger memories. 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.

Wishing you gooey, delicious memories today . . . and always 

Note: I select authors based on personal taste. I do not receive compensation, or complimentary books. Please purchase from either an Independent Bookstore or personally from the author. 

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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Book Reviews



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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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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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.


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

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Book Reviews


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Everyone Needs a Friend Like Carmen:

I first met Carmen at a writing conference in the North Georgia Mountains. We balanced writing pads on our laps, perched pens in midair waiting to document any nugget of information the authors on the panel offered. Carmen and I are purists. We rolled our eyes when the people seated around us opened electronic devices. Their tap, tap, tapping irritated, but didn’t distract us. We wrote faster, harder, louder…capturing every important drop of wisdom. Terry Kay, beloved Georgia Author, was on the panel, his velvety voice full of encouragement and experience. We swooned, we soaked in his words, we left energized and excited about writing.

Time passed with little interaction. Carmen became like many other people, mere acquaintances who you only met at mutual author events; much like Amber Nagle, who was also at the same writing conference. Since I hadn’t invested time into my friendship with Carmen, I had no way of knowing that she is not only an aspiring author, she is an avid reader.

By that I mean she is well read. Very well read. She suggests books that I can not read. My brain is too busy, too undeveloped, too stressed . . . too . . . something; most times I can’t swim on the deep end of her literary pool, but merely wave and long to, one day, doggy paddle over to her side.

Carmen is one of the main reasons I am a successful author. Now she’s going to argue and I bet that we’re going to have a “discussion” over this post. I’ll tell you this much for true, she’d never take a sliver of credit for helping me, but credit is what she deserves. I don’t know what possessed her to march into The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia, haven’t a clue what made her whisper to the owner, Cat Blanco, any inkling that my book was worthy to be read, but I’m sure glad she did.

While I’m proud of my first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes, I know my place in the literary pool and it is carrying towels to others. If you haven’t read In the Garden with Billy, it is a work of non-fiction (impossible to sell in this world of fiction lovers); and, the book is about a local celebrity farmer (which makes it difficult to sell outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t write about the Kardashians). But Carmen read something she liked and so she did what all good readers do, she made a personal recommendation, an unsolicited recommendation that I only learned about years later.

Many people see my interactions on Facebook and think that Cat Blanco and I are life-long friends. In fact, I’ve only known her for a short time. During that time I have tried to give readers my personal recommendations, and tell Cat about authors who have written fantastic stories like Ann Hite, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Julie Cantrell, and Karen Spears Zacharias. Do any of those authors owe their success to me? Nope. They are already veterans. I am the newbie. Carmen didn’t have to breathe a word, didn’t receive anything by saying a peep about my work; but I’m glad she did. She’s told other people about my book. Lots of people. I want to be more like her.

Me, Billy & Carmen at Yawn's in Canton, GA

Me, Billy & Carmen at Yawn’s in Canton, GA

Most of you wouldn’t know about me without her. She set in motion something that surprises me even today. Her referral helped put my book on the map.

How can one ever say Thank You for that?

Since that time I have purposed to encourage authors, some I know, some I may never personally meet. I’ve started releasing quarterly newsletters where I suggest four books. My last list of suggestions can be found here. Authors have started asking me to review their books, Tweet about them, write blog posts, and I will consider it, if-and only if-I like what I read. Carmen and I agree that good books deserve to be read, talked about, and shared.

In my next book, Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches which Mercer University Press will release in a few months, I stumbled with a section of the manuscript. I asked Carmen, “What do you think? I want to be respectful, want to get this part right.” Then Carmen did what she does so well. She listened. Saying nothing, it was the act of listening, of letting me talk, and then process, and then wait while the muse wrestled me to the ground that bonded Carmen and I even closer. When I shared my newer version she said, “See.”

And I did see. I saw a beautiful friendship that had formed over the years. This particular section has evolved into one of my most favorite parts of the book. Carmen deserves the credit for that (she won’t take it, but I’ll give it to her regardless).


Carmen reading her Keepsake Story. I am so proud!

Tonight Carmen joined Amber Nagle in Cartersville where both read from the book, Project Keepsake. Family obligations kept me from Amber and Carmen’s special night. When I close my eyes I hear Carmen’s voice, thick with pride, perhaps even shaking a bit with emotion as she read about the keepsake that is precious to her. Friends, if you have ever kept a keepsake displayed on your shelf, or had a friend like Carmen who you carry in your heart; you simply must buy this book. Here are two links to do just that.


There is still time to order your copy today !

Author Website; online distributor

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, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at Friend her on Facebook here. Follow her on Twitter Here.


Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Advice for Authors, Book Reviews


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Small Business Saturday, My Shopping Tradition

This morning my daughter and husband arose while the sun was still asleep, while snow still blanketed the earth; they lit out for a new tradition… shopping. They hit the malls, not because the prices are slashed (they really are not), not because they have long shopping list (we don’t spend a lot during Christmas); they hit the road because the trip is “quality time.”

Insert eye roll. The dog and I have our own quality time. We call it “hold up in the warm and cozy bed.”

This year, many small-businessmen (and women) are spreading the word about Small Business Saturday. Tomorrow, small business owners are asking shoppers to step away from the malls, the chains, the big box stores and visit local, independently-owned stores. Of course this is a cause I’m happy to get behind.


This Saturday, show your local small businessman a little love.

Recently, I spoke to a group of authors and was asked, “is your book on Amazon?” Of course it is, all titles are on Amazon. However, traditionally published authors shudder at this question. Do you know that author’s receive zero money (not one red cent) from used books sold on Amazon?

Enter into this conversation a woman who said, “Oh you don’t need Amazon, I can tell you where you can find Renea’s book. It’s at Bookmiser in Roswell and The Book Exchange in Marietta.”

I stood for a moment, speechless. “I like to shop locally,” she said with a smile.

For those who insist on purchasing my books from Amazon, the following links are the only way to purchase where I will retain a portion of the sales. Paperback hereebook here. Latest release here.

So why then, would I ever send a reader to the local bookstore?

Because it is the local merchant who is the cornerstone of the community. The Indie Bookstore knows what you like to read. The local restaurant treats you like family. The boutique clothing store wants to build a community where everyone can come and shop.  Indie Bookstores are personal shoppers. Most local restaurants will cook something (off menu) just for you. Use them. But the relationship goes further than that, locally owned businesses care about you, they really do.

Here’s a revelation: Walmart doesn’t give a hang about you, neither does Amazon. But a small business in your town cares about you, the consumer. They care that your property taxes are going through the roof. A mom and pop’s sandwich store cares that you are on a limited income (because they are on a limited income also). Small businesses employ your children, they pay local taxes, they support the soccer team and hold fundraisers when someone needs a kidney transplant. And for those who think big-box retailers do the same well honey, I am not so certain about that. What I do know with certainty is that I have a relationship, a friendship, with every small businessman and woman I patronize.

They ask about my next book.

They ask about my momma, about the sick, and hungry.

They hold canned food drives.

They collect books, and coats, and toys for the needy.

They pray for me, and for my family.

They have a cake for me on my birthday. (Thank you Cat).

They make me feel like I matter, like I am more than just a number.

They want my business and they show me that I am appreciated.

Those are just a few reasons why I stayed curled up tight in the bed this morning as the beloveds pointed to vehicle toward the mall.  Join me in stepping out tomorrow and visiting a local independently-owned small business.

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