An open letter to The Bullies

I am not afraid.bully2

I am not afraid of you.

I am not afraid of your words.

I am not afraid of your threats.

I am not cowering. Instead, I laugh at the bully card you are playing.

Hear me well.

I LAUGH at your attempts to force me to do your bidding.

You, who took something that was not yours.

You, who have pushed, and pushed, believing me to be a weak – ignorant southerner.

This southerner has drawn the line.

Your words have no power over me.

You have not considered the consequence of the threat you have made.

I stand to lose nothing.

Here me well.

You have chosen the wrong victim.

The word “Victim” is not in my vocabulary; but Jesus is.

His word reads, “I have given you authority to overcome ALL the power of the enemy. Nothing can harm you. (Luke 10:18)

Mr. Bully, read those words.

Read them again.

Nothing can harm me.


You have no power over me.


I can walk away.

Hear me well. Listen to this little Southerner gal, because she is not stuttering.

I  WILL walk away.

Your power will disintegrate in the dust my footsteps leave behind.

bullyThen what have your threats accomplished?

Not the desired result, of that I promise.

In closing, let me end with two words you understand.

Bring it.


Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Uncategorized


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


One Person

One Person

There’s this person . . . this one person who irritates the dickens out of you.

You know that God commands you to love them.

You want to love them as commanded.

Really, you do.

You want to love the devil clean out of them.

You pray, “Lord, help me love this person even though I do not like this person.”

You pray, “Lord, put a watch over my mouth.”

You pray, “Lord, please . . . please, keep this person from provoking me to anger.”

You pray, “Lord, when provoked, let me take the high road.”

You pray, and pray all while watching the person approach . . . all while knowing you might again fail the test.

Still you pray, “Lord help me.”

I’m not the only person who has someone in their life like this . . . right?

You feel that this one person was the very reason the Bible says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

This person has your number, at least the principalities and darkens has your number. Yes sir, they do.

We can see the goodness in this person, this one person God placed in our path to test us; but we also see a bad attitude, a short temper, a harsh tone and genuine dislike for things (sometimes for every-thing). This person pushes our buttons.

Still we pray, “Lord help me show this person your love.”

Then we fail.

We react.

We see their hateful attitude and match it with one of our own.

We lose our Jesus just long enough for the darkness to win.

And we feel lower than a snail’s belly (or maybe it’s just me).

And we pray, “Lord, what just happened?”

“Lord, what is wrong with me?”

“Lord, why can’t I be more like you?”

And we find comfort in the scripture that was written especially for us which reads, “His mercy is knew every morning.”

Renea will donate the proceeds of her Christmas Story: A Hardscrabble
 and In the Garden with Billy to the victims she met at The Distribution Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Download it here.

Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788




Valentine’s Day Love

Valentine’s Day Love

I’ve fielded several emails lately from people asking about “Jack,” the gentleman I wrote about who lost everything during the Gatlinburg fires. I write today to share that he has been admitted into a facility. I ask for your prayers as he receives help to recover from this devastating life event. Please do not email me asking for details; his parents reached out to me when I became distraught after being unable to contact him. He’s getting help, and at least he isn’t worrying about where to sleep at night. Praise God because we have been deeply worried about his safety.

Moving forward, I have secured the names of two new people who are still sleeping hither and yon. Like Jack, they were also sub-leasing and not eligible for the Dolly Foundation money. Like Jack, they (still) have no where to go and move their children from place to place praying someone hurries up and re-builds housing. I have added them to other people I shared in December. This week, I’m mailing Valentine’s Day Love. If you have kids, please consider having them mail cards of hope to the people on this short list. We all know the feeling of hopelessness these days, but most of us at least have a place to call our own. The best thing we can do is encourage each other.

One of the people on this list confided that “every day I think about giving up, but I must press on because my kid depends on me.”

Here are the names of those who could use a little love. I alternated colors to separate the names and addresses.

Becky Maney

466 Overlook Way

 Newport TN 37821

2 adults, 2  children lost everything; subleasing not eligible for Dolly$. Landowner received Federal money, she received nothing.

Crystal Zimmerman

9341 Number 4 Drive

Mascot TN 37806  

(single mom-college educated-employed- has an 11 year old son and is living with a friend. She has a long commute, subleased not eligible for Dolly$).

Tim Hall

Ober Gatlinburg Employee living with parents right now

4047 Camp Hollow Rd

Sevierville TN 37876

BobbyJo Jarrett

PO Box 1273

Gatlinburg TN 37738

(currently in wheelchair, lost job)

Jeromy York

176 Earl Flatt Lane

Gainesboro TN 38652

He fed 15,000 sandwiches for free. Did not loose his home but was one of the first in to help. Three weeks of volunteering and feeding people for free, his young child was in an accident after Christmas. Needs prayers.

Renea will donate the proceeds of her Christmas Story: A HardscrabbleChristmas  and In the Garden with Billy to the victims she met at The Distribution Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Download it here.

Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788



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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


Seeking Your Input for Writing Conference


Each year a group of veteran authors partner with Kennesaw State University to present the annual Red Clay Conference. The conference is available to members of the Georgia Writers Association, the link you will find here. Whether you are an aspiring author, or a veteran author, a membership here is money well spent.

This year’s conference will be held Saturday, April 22, 2017.

For several years, I have offered critique sessions whereby participants submit a short section of their work in progress. I critique the work and then – at the conference – meet the author for a one-on-one consultation of said work. This service has been widely popular. Many authors go on to hire me as their personal editor. Last year, two participants were published in magazines, two published their novels, and one contracted with an agent. Editing, is the most crucial step in writing, but I digress.

This weekend, The Georgia Writers will meet to plan the April conference. For the authors currently reading this blog, I ask, “what questions do you have about the writing process?” Do you want to learn about editing, the business side of being an author, or the steps from passion to publication? I want to build a conference that answers your questions and leaves you feeling excited about your work.

I am uncertain if the board will opt to hold critique sessions this year; but before we meet to discuss the agenda, I want to ensure that the conference meets your needs.

So tell me, what do you look for in a writing conference.

Renea will donate the proceeds of her Christmas Story: A Hardscrabbleuntitled1Christmas  and In the Garden with Billy to the victims she met at The Distribution Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Download it here.

Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788


Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


Turning my back on the world

Turning my back on the world

I have recently taken two steps back from Social Media. I distance myself not because of politics, or offense. I haven’t wavered from my philosophy of love. I distance myself because God is nudging me, whispering in my ear. I took one step back, and then another, for a bit of solitude and spiritual healing.

Funny how I long for solitude these days. Each day, I speak to a hundred people, or more. This constant flow of energy leaves me spent. My social media distance is paired with zero television. If you’ve read my first book, In the Garden with Billy, you know that I punted cable television a long time ago. Frankly, I haven’t the time to sit in front of the television. There are only so many hours in our short time on this earth. I have people to love, lives to help, and goats to feed. Still, the world pulls at me. Last week, I was reminded of something my friend says, the world is trying to take away my Jesus; meaning the more time spent in the world, the more time it demands. The more time spent in the world, the more I act like the world, and the less I act like Him.

This, my friends, is a command from long ago. . . come out from among the world and be set apart.

For me, the media silence serves a higher purpose, to keep my mind in the present, and my eyes on Him. I have found that if I take my eyes off Him for a single day then one day quickly becomes two days and so on. After doing things “my way” I find myself lost calling, “Lord, where are you!”

The Lord is always where I left Him. It is I who must return.

Earlier this year, a friend posted her resolution which went something like this. She was going To Be.

Those two simple words carry an enormous challenge. Dear Ones, it is very difficult To Be.

I’ve thought about those words, and the challenge they carry. Then I added a single word behind them. I want . . .

To Be Still

To Be Fervent

To Be Authentic

To Be His

I understand now that the world has a goal. The world wants to keep me (and you) busy, beat down, frustrated, angry, exasperated, depleted. The word accomplishes this, daily.

The world is like a pitching machine, hurling one fastball after the other. Just when we make contact and smile as the ball sails over the fence, the world fires a curve-ball, knocking us into the dirt leaving us exhausted, dazed and disoriented. Here lately, the world has convinced us this type of life is normal. Today, I disagree. Today, I turn a blind eye on the ways of the world and turn a watchful and trusting eye toward Him.

Today, I give myself permission to be set apart from the world.

Today, I give myself permission to be happy.

Today, I give myself permission to be authentic.

Today, I give myself permission to be His.

Today, I step away from the pitching machine. I drop my bat in the dirt. I look at the world and say, No more.

The Good Lord has reminded me that I don’t need a political cause. I don’t need to scream like a banshee to help those in need. Show me where Jesus screamed. Show me where he unfriended people. Show me where Jesus was nasty. My Jesus― the one the world is trying to take from us all―loved the least of these. Our Jesus hung out with those whom the world shunned. The Light of This World, physically healed them. He raised the dead. He performed miracles. He LOVED.

As Southern grandmas are wont to say, we accomplish more with honey (meaning love), than with vinegar (meaning anger).

Anger exhausts. Love empowers.

Today, I give you permission to be. Go on now, unplug from the world and go. . . Go be love.

Southern grandmas know that this world will devour every ounce of energy you offer; yet, energy deposited into the Lord and His children (meaning everyone) is never wasted. Spiritual renewal benefits me, and everyone around me.

Today, I will pray. I will listen. I will act, and I will continue to show others His love.

I will try—very much so― To Be.

To Be Renewed.

To Be Love.

To Be His hands and Feet.

For me, the only way I can do this is to turn a blind eye and walk away from the ways of the world and purpose to love the people Jesus places in my path.

Renea will donate the proceeds of her Christmas Story: A Hardscrabbleuntitled1Christmas  and In the Garden with Billy to the victims she met at The Distribution Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Download it here.

Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788




Out of Balance Already? 



It took me exactly 19 days to get out of balance in 2017.

Nineteen stinking days.

Seeking balance wasn’t a “resolution;” for me, it’s a necessity. I need balance. If you’re a horoscope-following person I’m a Libra, balance is important. If you’re not a horoscope-following person, balance is important.

I knew I was out in trouble when each day I awoke to a punched-in-the-gut feeling. Truth be told I felt helpless. Disconnected. Out of touch with just about everyone. I don’t know about you, but I like to deceive myself into believing that I am in control of my life. I like to believe that if I work hard (and I do), and follow the rules (check “yes”), then I will live out the rest of my days harmoniously with the world.

I know . . . that’s kray-kray talk isn’t it?

Perhaps the saddest part about last week wasn’t being out of balance, but the methods I use to shift my Libra-scales back in balance didn’t work.

I prayed.

I read my favorite scriptures.

I cried out to God, “Lord, I’m out of balance, help!”

Nothing. Even the crickets were silent. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach pressed harder.

By Thursday I was ready to walk away from the constant noise, my cellphone, and social media, (Remember, I don’t have cable-Thank God).

But, I kept praying.

I dusted off old scripture.

I re-read my prayer journal. (which truly helps)

But still felt disconnected and out of balance.

“Lord, where are you?” I cried and then it occurred to me that perhaps the Lord has cried out the same phrase. “Renea, where are you? Hello? I can’t hear you. Renea, can you hear me calling?”

God gets lonely for us, doesn’t he? He created us so we could have a relationship with Him and there I go fluttering around being all human wearing a “watch me” robe instead of the attitude of, “come with me, Lord.”

The answer, when it came, hurt. “You don’t trust me.”

“But . . . I began, while knowing that God was right. Let’s rip off the Band-Aid and expose it all. I didn’t trust God. I had been too busy, too tired, too distracted, to “whatever” to offer anything other than a quick prayer which went something like, “God, you know . . . I’m worried about this.”

If I truly trusted God about this very serious situation I would have turned it over to him and left the situation at the cross. Except I couldn’t. I prayed, left it in God’s hands for thirty-two seconds and then snatched the prayer right back and tucked it into my mind where I could roll it around in that little brain of mine until I smoothed away the jagged edges. Only the jagged edges wouldn’t smooth.

As is my nature, the only way I can connect with God, the only way I can Have a Little Talk With Jesus, is when I unplug. I’ve gotta leave it all behind: the cell phone and the noise. I hit the woods with just me and the Lord. He rarely speaks to me in the woods, but I feel he is there. That part in the Bible where it mentions, He Restoreth My Soul. . . well, that’s the only way I can sit here writing this post. God restores my soul. (Praise you Lord!)

Will I make it twenty days before falling out of balance again? Only God knows; but I know for certain that every time I seek Him I find Him. Some days the seeking is a bit of a challenge, but if I’m willing to keep pressing I find Him and he restores my soul.

Renea is donating the proceeds of her Christmas Story: A Hardscrabbleuntitled1Christmas  and In the Garden with Billy to the victims she met at The Distribution Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Download it here.

Renea Winchester is a traditionally-published author of three books. She is a Jesus lover, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. She may be reached at P.O. Box 404, Webster NC 28788



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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in A Glimpse into My Life