Saturday, February 28, 2009

Amy Susanne

This is my Great-Granddaughter: AMY SUSANNE.....................................

She is now almost Four Months OLD

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"The Goat Castle Murder"

Years ago I read a book called " Natchez On the Mississippi" by Harnett T. Kane. The book,
written in 1947, gives the history of the first settlers of Natchez. Not only did I fall in love with Harnett Kane's writing, I fell in love with the town of Natchez. It would not be until I returned to live in Mississippi, that I would get to visit Natchez. I go there often now. It is a pretty place filled with gorgeous homes that were built before " The War" as it's referred to there.

One home that is no longer standing was called "Glenwood", though it was better known in its later years as:
" The Goat Castle". I was told about this place and its famous history by a lady at the historical society who gave me a copy of a small paperback book written by Carolyn Vance Smith and Sim C. Callon titled: The Goat Castle Murder". The title is a little bit deceiving as the murder took place next door at " Glenburnie" not at "Glenwood"(Goat Castle).
On August 4, 1932, Jane Surget Merrill better known as Jennie Merrill was shot dead around 6:30 P.M. in her home "Glenburnie". She was a sixty-eight year old, eccentric, aristocratic, wealthy spinster from one of the oldest families in Natchez.

The graves of General Thomas P. Dockery and his daughter Octavia Dockery, located in the Natchez City Cemetery. The inscription on Octavia's stone reads: Octavia Dockery Mistress of Goat Castle

Eventually, her two next door neighbors at "Goat Castle" would be wrongly charged with her murder, bringing world wide attention to the case. Richard(Dick) Dana and Octavia Dockery
had aristocratic backgrounds themselves and had at one time been in a group of four friends who were inseparable. Jennie Merrill, Octavia Dockery, Dick Dana and Duncan Minor had been in their youth, the toast of Natchez! Always together, all from elite families, all expected to soar high in their adulthood. It was not to be. All would become eccentric and two would become destitute.

No one seems to know just exactly where the friendship started to go downhill but after they had all become aloof adults and began exhibiting strange behavior, Jennie and Duncan became bitter enemies with Octavia and Dick. It was the well known feud between them ,that led to Octavia and Dick being arrested for Jennie's murder.

Jennie Merrill and Duncan Minor, who everyone claimed was a look- a- like to Clark Gable, were second cousins, cousins who fell in love. Duncan's mother was vehemently opposed to the marriage. It is rumored that they did indeed marry later in another state and kept it secret.

For the last twenty years of Jennie Merrill's life, Duncan Minor rode his horse every evening at sunset to spend the night at "Glenburnie" with Jennie, leaving at sunrise.It was Duncan who discovered Jennie's body when he arrived to spend the night.

Octavia was the daughter of General Thomas P. Dockery, a close friend of Ulysses S. Grant. So close that in 1881, the former President Grant, escorted Octavia to one of New York City's Grandest Balls. In her twenties, Octavia was a social butterfly attending parties and balls in New Orleans, Vicksburg, Natchez, New York and even Paris. Once an aspiring poet and writer she became a wretched human being as the years past. She became house mates with Dick Dana in the abandoned, but once lovely Glenwood, now in shambles with no running water, yet still full of beautiful furniture once belonging to Robert E. Lee's family. There were leather bound books belonging to Gen. Lee that eventually became chew toys for the goats roaming freely in the house. They also chewed the rockers off Gen. Lee's baby cradle.

The suave Duncan Minor........

Dick and Octavia on a Victorian Sofa with their house pets.

Richard Henry Clay "Dick" Dana was said to have been a tremendous concert pianist with a great future in music ahead of him. After graduating from Vanderbilt he went to study music in New York City and sang in the Christ Church Episcopal Choir. Then his ambition to be a Concert Pianist was abandoned after a window slammed shut on his hand crushing two fingers. His hand was left deformed and he returned to Natchez a broken man. He began to exhibit very strange behavior that would probably today be diagnosed as Schizophrenia. Conversations with imaginary people, he refused to bathe or change clothes. He let both his hair and beard grow long and unkempt. Octavia had him declared insane to keep him from losing "Glenwood" for back taxes and became his legal guardian. They started to raise chickens and goats along with stray dogs and cats letting all the animals have free reign of the house.

Jeannie Merrill it turned out was not murdered by her friends/enemies Dick and Octavia.

The murderer was a black man named George Pearls who had gone with an accomplice, Emily Burns owner of a Natchez rooming house to "borrow" some money from Miss Merrill. Emily Burns confessed that Jennie refused to give George Pearls any money and then reached for a pistol laying on a side board at which time he fatally shot her. George Pearls was himself shot and killed by a Pine Bluff, Arkansas sheriff's deputy three days later. Emily Burns was convicted of being an accomplice and served eight years.

Jennie Merrill left her entire estate which included two hundred and fifty thousand dollars cash,
Glenburnie Plantation and two Louisiana plantations to Duncan Minor.

Duncan Minor lived seven more years and willed the estate back to Jennie's family upon his death.

Dick Dana continued to exist in destitute squalor with Octavia being known as the " Wild Man of Goat Castle" until his death in 1948 at age 77 , from Pneumonia.

Octavia lived alone at Goat Castle for another six months dying at age 84 in April 1949.

Octavia's family held an auction at Goat Castle after her death where the remaining antiques,
Oil Paintings, rare books, a table and lamp belonging to Mrs. Jefferson Davis who was a relative of Octavia's sister's husband, along with letters written by Civil War Generals Lee, Grant and
Dockery and President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, brought Fifteen Thousand Dollars.

I have often wondered how four young people, close friends, with all the advantages in life to help them excel, all became extremely eccentric people in their mid life years. What were the odds of that happening? All four are buried in Natchez City Cemetery.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Land of Milk and Honey ?

I love Honey! My favorite Honey is the Appalachian Sourwood Honey I haul back by the case every year from my visits to my Beloved Smokey Mountains. I can't imagine not being able to
have this Honey available.........................

However if the situation with our Honey Bees dying here in America keeps happening, this may not be the " Land of Milk and Honey " much longer. Honey Bees are responsible for much more of our diet than just their wonderful Honey! They MUST be saved!

Today I discovered terrific blog located in Boone, NC that has a MUST SEE POST on this !!

Please follow this link and read how important it is to do what you can to help with this fight to save the Honey Bees ! The videos are worth watching ! Let's help save our Bees!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mississippi Has A New Author !!

Books get me excited!If you follow this blog
that isn't news to you but there is a new book that has me REAL excited!
The book is titled "The Help" a debut novel
by Mississippi Author Kathryn Stockett.
" The Help" was released on February 10,2009. It is getting 5 Star reviews from all who read the Advanced Reader Copies.
When I heard that this new book by Kathryn is already being touted as a Pulitzer Prize Nominee by some and that her writing is being compared to Harper Lee, Carson McCullers, Fannie Flagg and Flannery O'Conner, I sat up and took notice! No........I haven't read the book yet but a brand new copy is on its way to Swiftwater Farm! I spoke with Kathryn and as soon as I've read the book, I am going to do an interview with her on The Writers Porch!

The setting for "The Help" is in Kathryn's hometown, Jackson,Mississippi. Set in the years 1962-1964, a period of racial turmoil in a state that was a hot bed of the Civil Rights era, it is narrated in the voices of three women. Skeeter, a young white woman fresh out of college, Abilene the black woman who works for Skeeters family as hired help, and Minny another black woman who is continually getting fired from her jobs as a cook for white families because of her inability to keep from mouthing off to her white employers. Even though Kathryn wasn't born until
1969, the reviews claim she has captured not only the time and place but also the emotions perfectly! When asked how that was possible for her, she explained that the character Abilene is based on memories of a black woman named Demetrie who worked for her family helping raise two generations of children.
She confesses that she loved Demetrie dearly and kept her memories of her, the stories she told and the sound of her voice buried in the crevices of her soul. That writing Abilene, was like hearing Demetrie's voice again after many years. That along with having a 98 year old Grandfather with a perfect memory, gave her not only the bones but also the meat to create this story.

I was a young girl living in Hattiesburg during this era and I remember well the turmoil of this time in Mississippi history. I also had a black woman in my life, Ruby Hurst who worked for my maternal grandparents. I adored her, as she did me. I have vivid memories of her and the love and kindness she showered me with.I had myself thought of writing about this very subject when I moved back to Mississippi. I went in search of Ruby and was devastated when I discovered she had died in 1998. I wanted so much to tell her how much she was loved by me and now the chance was forever gone! So I am very eager to read " The Help" in hopes it will " help" me recapture
the sound of Ruby's voice!

Congratulations Kathryn on your new book and I look forward to seeing you on The Writers Porch!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're Not Through...but Here's A View.....

So far two sides of the Porch are done except for hanging some Art. In this picture in the upper right top you will see the tribute to my precious mother Mary who passed away February 17, 2001. Eight years and I still miss her terribly. The picture was taken of her at age 20. I have her bible and a few keepsakes of hers up there. In the foreground is the present Hubby gave me for our Anniversary in December. My ' i Joy 320 Private Masseuse Chair'. This chair is AWESOME! It gives you a massage from head to toe. This chair is actually saving me from having to have back surgery !!

Books.......Books........AND MORE BOOKS! Some BIOS of great writers like Margaret Mitchell,
Eudora Welty, Caroline Gordon, Harper Lee, Janice Holt Giles, Appalachian Women Writers and
some interesting people of Appalachia. Along with The Collectors Editions of The Classics and some Classics like Thoreau's Walden, A First Edition Raintree County, Uncle Tom's Cabin and We Took To The Woods. The next self has great books by great authors like, Lee Smith, Melinda Haynes, Caroline Gordon, Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Catherine Marshall, Ernest T. Gaines.

On this side of the Porch, Books, Books, More Books.........
My reading recliner, and you can see the edge of the frame of one of my favorite pictures.
This one............
Below the picture is " Shakespeare's Birthplace" It is part of the " Dickens's Village Series'
Christmas Village. Melanie gave it to me for Christmas and I will probably get an edition every year. She collects two different sets and thinks I need to collect one too. I know what she has in mind. When I croak, she'll inherit it! I really do love it !
This is the history of it.

" Steeped in culture and history, this half timbered residence on Henley Street in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the most famous literary landmarks in England. Set in the beautiful rural Warwickshire countryside, this is the house where William Shakespeare was born in 1564. The exterior was originally made of local materials: oak from the Arden Forest and
blue stone from the village of Wilmcote."
So there's a view and when I finish the other two sides.........I'll come back with a view of those too!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are My Eyes Deceiving Me ? And....The Winners Are...

Look at the Daffodils, both white and yellow
looking all dapper under this big fella .......

And a Magnolia Saucer, also called a Tulip tree......
Looking all regal before it gets its green leaves........

Bending and bowing in all of its the
Yellow Forsythia shouting Spring is before us!

These are pictures I took yesterday at Swiftwater Farm....I think it looks like an Early Spring!
The Winner's Are..................First Choice.......Renie Burghardt @ Renie's World
....................................................Second Choice....Shrinky@ Shrink Wrapped Scream
And The Remaining Item goes to........Sandi McBride @ Holding Patterns

Congratulations To The Winners and Thank You to All Who Left Comments !!
I have had contact with all the winners.......The results are as follows......
Renie.....chose " Mason Jars in The Flood" Gary's signed book.
Shrinky....chose the DVD "An Evening With Gary Carden"
AND..........Sandi is as happy as a lark to be getting the DVD " Prince of Dark Corners"
This was terriffic fun, I can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

North Carolina Author: Gary Carden Interview.........

I am very honored that Gary Carden is the first Author Interview
here at The Writers Porch!
Gary is a truly superb Storyteller/Playwright/Author from the Western North Carolina Mountains of Appalachia. He is dearly loved by many including me! A very eloquent speaker who writes with heart about the area in which he has spent his entire life. A connoisseur of Appalachian History! Please leave a comment so that your name can be placed
in a drawing where three winners will receive a copy of one of his great works!

TWP: Gary, How Did You Come To Be Raised By Your Grandparents?

GC: My father was killed before I was two years old and my mother, more or less, abandoned me on the porch of my grandparents house. According to the story I grew up hearing, she walked back down the trail to the highway and caught the bus to Knoxville where she intended to go to "business school".

TWP: I assume these grandparents were your father's parents?

GC: Yes, that was part of the problem, my mother's parents, in keeping with the modern day euphemism, were "dysfunctional". My mother along with her brothers and sisters, were brutalized. All of her brothers ran away from home.
She felt I would be better treated with my father's parents.

TWP: Was she correct?

GC: Definitely! My grandparents were Scot-Irish and had a profound sense of responsibility in terms of family. I was fed, clothed and well cared for. In terms of "Appalachian Families", my grandparents were only "moderately poor".We had a cow, and almost one hundred chickens. By the time I was in high school,
we had indoor plumbing!

TWP: In your writing about your childhood, you appear to have been part of a very warm and caring family. Is that the way you really see it?

GC: To an extent, I am making" Lemonade". In other words, I chose to emphasize the positive aspects of my family. In actual fact, my presence was resented by some of my grandparents children. I was heartily despised by an Aunt and Uncle! However, I was very fortunate to have one uncle, my Uncle Albert who became a kind of guardian to me.

TWP: There doesn't seem to be much evidence of this discontent in your works.
I would never have guessed! Why is that?

GC: I made a conscious effort to "not" emphasize the fact that I was frequently unhappy, lonely and aware that I was by some, "unwanted".
In both my writing and storytelling, I stress humor! In fact, much of the humor is a means of dealing with events that were not humorous at all. Frankly, I think it is an "Appalachian Trait": to use humor as a shield- a barrier that mountain folks put between them and an indifferent world.
Much of the humor in my stories is self-effacing, and it has much in common with the humor I often encountered in my peers.

TWP: So....You do "NOT" strive to tell the truth?

GC: I AM A STORYTELLER !! I tell falsehoods ! I do believe that fabrication can often covey a truth that is greater than " factual data". The world I describe, is not "what actually happened". Instead, it is what "could have happened" or what " should have happened". I think that kind of storytelling is actually therapeutic. It is a way of dealing with a hard reality.

TWP: Could you give me an example ?

GC: Well, in my favorite story, " Blow The Tannery Whistle", I have my grandfather attending my college graduation in 1953. In actual fact, my grandfather was in the hospital in the final stages of cancer. I chose to put him at the graduation because, if he had been able to attend, he would have been there. In spite of his extreme bewilderment of the " quare" grandson he had raised, I'd like to think he was " proud" of me. So, In my story he comes and stands in the crowd and says his favorite saying:
"Well Blow The Tannery Whistle"

If you wish to know more about Gary, here is a link: Books Reviewed by Gary

Valentine's Day, Books On Display And A Weekend Giveaway

My precious husband Eric presented me with this during our morning coffee ! I love Chocolate but the card was what got to me!
For My Wife......God Blessed Me With You....I thank God for giving me your hand to hold when I need it and for your sweetness in a world that sometimes isn't so sweet.....
God knew what he was doing when he brought our hearts together, and I thank him for the love we share.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I love you Carol..........Eric

I have been asked several times if I bought any books on the shopping trip to Hudson's with Baby Girl? Has A cat got a tail? Eight to be exact! Plus a daily desk calender that does of all things, suggest books to read! I needed a new dictionary, so I got one!
I'd heard about the "Rising Tide" by John M. Barry, the story of the great flood in 1927 of The Mississippi River Delta.
"Remembering Slavery" is the complete Federal Writer's Project including a CD of the only recording of the former Slave's voices!
"Serena" has been recommended to me a dozen times as Ron Rash is a NC author! The others are novels that sound like winners! Especially " Belle Ruin" and Night Train To Lisbon".

And........Tah Dah.....It's time for the first interview and giveaway!
I will post the Interview with North Carolina
Author/Playwright/Storyteller GARY CARDEN !!
I have three of Gary's works to giveaway......
A signed copy of " Mason Jars in the Flood"
A DVD of his play " Prince of Dark Corners"
A DVD of his live Storytelling....
" An Evening With Gary Carden"

Leave a comment on the Carden Interview post tomorrow and your name will be added to a bowl. On Tuesday morning
Hubby will draw three names......
I will list the names as ONE/ TWO /THREE
One will get first choice....Two Second and Three the remaining item! I hope this seems fair to all of you!
Good luck! They are all worth winning!

I hope all of you are having a wonderful Valentine's Day with someone you love !
I heard the song " Living Well" by George Strait yesterday and I love the line.......
" There's a difference in living and living well"
" You can't have it all, all by yourself"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Henry Wadsworth.....The Blue Heron

Yesterday I introduced you to the three house mates here at Swiftwater.Today I want you to meet Henry Wadsworth, the resident Blue Heron. He has been around the farm for about four years. He stays year round and knows his name. Hubby fishes for him most days and he comes as soon as he's called. He is a real comical character. If the fish Hubby catches for him is too big, Henry will throw it back in the pond!
He loved to hang out on the pier but recently as you can see below we added a cover to the pier.
After seeing a picture my friend Vicki Lane in the western NC mountains posted of her covered pier, we imitated her! You know imitation is said to be the greatest form of flattery.We plan to plant Wisteria to run up the lattice work panels. Hubby ran electricity underground to it and we are putting up an outdoor ceiling fan!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

" The Three Musketeers"...........

During the recent escapade of re-doing The Porch, the MANY books had to be carted in boxes to the garage. The resident Guards seem to have taken it upon themselves to guard Mom's prize possessions! I kid you not, this is not a staged picture!
L to R: TC, Jake, Sadie.
Sadie and Jake relax on the bed on
our back screened porch. Sadie seems to say; why are you always taking my picture?

And........Sadie in her favorite chair
giving me that "go to you know where" look of hers !
Spoiled they are.........Our very own
version of The Three Musketeers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Should Have Stayed Home !!

As you read girl wanted to shop yesterday. Every time she comes to visit, she MUST visit her favorite store here, Hudson's Treasure Hunt!

Hudson's is a Hattiesburg based store that has been around for a little over forty years. It started out as a little store in a seedy part of town that bought out fire damaged stores and pretty much sold just canned food. It now has stores all over Mississippi and the one here is located in what was the old Sears before they built a new mall. It now buys the contents of stores that go out of business all over the world. Usually the merchandise starts out 40%
off the original price but continues to go down 10% every two weeks until it reaches 90% off.

They do usually advertise on TV when a new buyout is stocked. Well............I missed this advertisement or I would have stayed home!
OMG..........They had bought out of all things a line of bookstores in Arkansas called Hastings!
Rows and rows and rows of new books 40% off !! The last thing I needed was more books !
They had also bought out a Cabela's Sporting Goods and several Anne Taylor women's clothing stores. Also some big store from New York that sold high dollar women's clothes. Melanie got several pairs of $190.00 "skinny jeans" at 90% off ! She bought about 10 books mostly for little Molly's upcoming 7th B'day. She bought some blouses, skirts, and ball caps, she runs 5k races and always wears caps. It takes hours to go through this store so it ended up being the only one we hit. We wanted to go to TJ MAX and TUESDAY MORNING but ran out of money, time and energy! They have both of those stores in Nashville so that didn't disappoint her too much.

The Porch still has stacks and stacks of books to be put on the shelves. I want to categorize them properly this time. But it has a new paint job and new book shelves through out! It's now a soothing baby blue! I will post pictures later when it is all done. Baby girl left this morning to return home with all her goodies! I already miss her too much! She had bought the Audio book of the second book of the popular Twilight series to listen to on her drive. Today I am doing nothing, nothing, nothing.
I am tired, exhausted, pooped and worthless ! I will read and nap, that's it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

" She's Going To Stuff Me"? An Update........

Well..........I'm exhausted ! This 30 year old has nearly killed the retirees! We are taking the day off to SHOP ! I may not survive this visit from my beloved daughter ! Although she would never admit it, she's tired too. It's almost 9:00 AM and she is still conked out! I caught my self wishing( momentarily) over the last two days that I didn't love books so much!! Moving books is not for wimps or wore out backs !

I'm not sure where the death talk started.........was it "I'll never survive this"? Or her saying;
" I'm telling Randy the next house we build has to have a Library".
( inherited books from me)
Or, me asking Hubby if the burial insurance was up to date as I collapsed on the floor?
Anyhoo.........the talked turned to my final resting place. I want to be placed next to my sweet Mother here in Mississippi. Oh No she says; " You are going back to Tennessee where I can visit and leave flowers". Then she says; "No! Better yet, I'm going to stuff you and put you in my guest room where I can see you everyday!"OMG....A permanent face lift! Have you ever noticed that the dead don't have wrinkles? HA! I don't know if this " stuffing" is about having me close or keeping the room free of guest!

I don't think shopping is going to get me any rest but as always, "what the girl wants is what the girl gets". A full report later!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happenings At Swiftwater Farm........

My sweet daughter Melanie arrived here at the farm late yesterday from Tennessee ! She has come to help her mother remodel the Porch ! We are putting up more bookcases and hopefully all my collected art work from Cades Cove. She insisted on a supper of Tomato Gravy, Biscuits, and bacon. This girl wears a size two but eats like a horse. I used to be so lucky! Never was a size two but I could eat what I wanted a never gained a pound! Now it's middle age spread and beyond! It's going to be a beautiful weekend weather wise. We made it to 69 yesterday! Today it will be sunny and 74, the same tomorrow!
We watched the movie "The Secret Lives of Bees " last night! I read the book by Sue Monk Kidd, about two years ago It was really good to see the book characters come to life but the movies are never as good as the book. Dakota Fanning played Lilly, she is such a wonderful actress. It also starred Queen Latifa, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keyes.
Melanie will be here for about four days so I'm in for a busy few days! I will be checking in on all of you and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Family..............

L/R: Son Todd, Hubby Eric, Daughter Melanie, Me, Son Marty

Melanie's Daughter Molly and Son Kohl

I haven't written much so far about my family on the blog. I have enjoyed reading about others families and seeing pictures so I thought some of you might like to see my bunch, or at least part of them. This picture was made May 12, 2007 at my daughters wedding. If you notice I had Red Hair! Trust me after I saw these pictures, I wasted no time in returning to my natural brunette hair, Red hair does not become me! And yes, my daughter did remarry after her ordeal with Domestic Violence.

Todd is my first born. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the US Army where he spent 22 years until retiring in 2008. He drove a Multiple Launch Rocket System in the ground battle of Desert Storm. He also did a brief stint in the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg, NC. The last several years of his career were spent as a Army Recruiter in Stillwater, OK. He still lives there.He and his wife Lori own three large day-care schools there called; The Renaissance Schools. Todd has five children and got his first grandchild, Amy Susanne this past November. Yes, that does make me "great nana".

Marty is my middle child. He lives in Dickson,TN, just a few miles west of Nashville, on our old home place.This is the farm where our house burned on Feb. 28, 1986. He has built a beautiful home there and has his own Lumber Mill there also. He and his wife Courtney have two children. I was told not long ago by a neighbor of Marty's that if they could elect a Mayor in Yellow Creek,the little community where he lives, they would elect Marty! Makes a Moma proud!

Melanie, my baby and only daughter, you know the named after GWTW Melanie, also lives in the same town as her brother Marty. She has her own company which does Home Decorating and Party Planning. Most have read her story of DV and her efforts to help other survivors of DV. She is now married to Randy. She has the two children pictured above. Kohl gave the bride away and Molly was a flower girl.

My Hubby has two sons, David and Brian. Anna,Brian's daughter, is his only Grandchild. Both boys work off shore. David operates a humongous crane that retrieves sunken oil rigs from the Gulf of Mexico and Brian is a Commercial Diver that makes under water repairs to oil rigs. Both live in New Orleans.So now you know a little bit about my crew. I am very proud of all of them

By the way.........the DSL is Fixed ! Thank Goodness! I have to be real careful now.....the new port and new modem has made it so fast and so sensitive that if I'm not careful it will post comments twice or erase whole sentences.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

DSL Trouble = A New Read !

I have been for the last two days experiencing DSL trouble! It stays down more than up! The tech was here for hours yesterday but the problem got worse...the phone is messed up too now! So NO post till this thing gets figured out! I've already lost one in the middle of it!
However.......I started a new book from the TBR stack ! I was aghast as they all screamed.....pick me, pick me ! I was feeling like I needed something from the
"DARK SIDE". You know, bad mood, NO DSL ! So I picked a dark side mystery I'd gotten as a Christmas gift,Penumbra by Carolyn Haines. This book is soooooo good! I sure hope she donates it as a giveaway! So since I'm UP for the moment( DSL) I better post this before I hear GOODBYE and all is lost ! If I'm not leaving comments for now know why !

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Week of Sheer Amazement .........

Author Carolyn Haines

When I started this blog my intention was to help the visitors toThe Writers Porch discover new Authors and great reads they may not have heard about.I never thought that it might win Awards from other bloggers or gain attention from any of my favorite Authors. I gave no thought to the fact I might become a fanatic blog stalker,meet a world of new friends, literally from around the world.I think that my taste in books is very diverse and I have such a passion for the written word that I can successfully recommend a really awesome read for just about everyone. Well, maybe that's a stretch, but I am amazed at how many have taken my advice and been pleased after reading the book ! I don't really call myself a good reviewer as I am so afraid I may say too much and spoil the read. I try to give a short detail of the setting, contents and my reaction to the book. I will Not recommend a book that I will not buy and read myself. If I feel there might be something offensive I Will warn the potential reader. I'm not fond of strong language in books but I can look past it, if the story has my attention. It's not like I'm innocent of throwing out a few four letter words myself on occasion!

I don't know how many books fill the Library shelves........more than I care to count, both physically and economically! This is my second Library, the first having been destroyed in a house fire on February 28, 1986.

This blog thing has turned into a real joy for me, although other things around Swiftwater Farm are suffering some neglect. HA! You too, huh? My reading time has been cut in half and that pains me. The TBR stack is screaming my name!

Anyhoo.....This past week has been a week of sheer amazement to me where this blog is concerned! It being listed by my favorite Author Sharyn McCrumb as an interview forum. Receiving a e-mail from " Mockingbird" Author Charles J. Shields not only calling it "an excellent, excellent blog" but also offering his permission to post his beautiful piece " Let's Get Lost" ,as an exclusive!
This blog receiving four Awards this week from fellow bloggers!( TWO yesterday I've not yet got around to posting.)
It now has 18 Followers and has had 200 views from 12 countries in the past week.
Since I really just started doing serious posting in January, I think it's pretty amazing! I am just thrilled!

If you have viewed my profile, you know that I am making my first attempt at Novel writing. I started it in November and have what I feel are two chapters done.This book is NOT an attempt by me to become a published Author. It is my way of leaving an expression of my passion for the written word for my children, grandchildren and those that may come when I am long passed. A view of what I loved in my life.When I am done, I will publish it myself.

My true love is the books on the shelves in this room........the Authors whose hard work and passion brought them to print, whose characters have become beloved friends to me. I am truly a recluse at heart,these books allow me to be reclusive yet never alone. No matter my mood, I can pluck what I need to suit the mood from these shelves.My fear is that I will never live long enough to read all the books I want to read!

And so.........this blog is dedicated to all the Authors with the passion it takes to
home their craft and delight their readers!
I have decided that I might like this interview thing and so sent out a few invitations yesterday. I received great results. I will also be giving away some signed copies of their work.
I have no set plan or schedule as of yet but here's what's in the works........

North Carolina Author/Play write/Storyteller: Gary Neil Carden

Mississippi Delta Mystery Author: Carolyn Haines

Civil War Historical Fiction Author: Jessica James

I will be giving away a signed copy of Gary's book:" Mason Jars In the Flood"
Plus a DVD of his his live storytelling:" An Evening With Storyteller Gary Carden"
A DVD of his Play: " Prince of Dark Corners"

A signed copy of Jessica James' Civil War Love Story Novel: " Shades of Gray"

I will also be giving away signed books by Carolyn Haines. I have yet to learn how many or the titles. The above pictures are from my collection.

All the listed works are on my shelves and highly recommended ! Not a bad start eh? I thank them so much for their generosity, Also thanks to: Producer/Director
Neal Hutcheson of for donating the DVD
of his film: "Prince of Dark Corners"

I have many other Authors in mind and will be sending out queries to them !
So we have much fun in store for the gracious visitors of The Writers Porch !!

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Exclusive From Author Charles J. Shields: Mockingbird, A Portrait of Harper Lee

Charles J. Shields has generously given this exclusive never before read piece to The Writers Porch ! We Are Honored To Be The First To Read It !


It happened somewhere as we were driving along Route 7 between Grenada and Greenwood, Mississippi.You feel it?” I said to my wife. She nodded, smiling, and closed her eyes.

We were taking off, disappearing into the morning sunlight and the miles of cotton fields on either side of us. The road was just a flat ribbon of asphalt, a seam of black then and now. Time receded in the rear view mirror, too exhausted to keep up with us. We were feeling the thrill of answering the invitation that jazz trumpet player Chet Baker used to put to audiences, “Let’s get lost.”

Lost” in the real sense wasn’t it exactly. We could find our place on the map if we needed to. But this back road that stubbornly turned away from the interstate was leading us to a place I’d been looking for, but couldn’t find. Maybe I’d been looking too hard for it.

People in the audiences I’d been speaking to on my book tour were looking for it, too. After I’d finish talking about my biography of Harper Lee, often someone would shyly approach me. If they weren’t holding a copy of my book, I could usually guess what they were going to ask.

Have you been to where Harper Lee grew up?”

Sure, several times.”

Well, is it like she says it is in her novel? I’ve read it so many times! You know, old-fashioned— the real South?”

I knew they want me to say, yes, it’s the way you’re imagining it. Or better, it’s still the how Scout described it: “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”

But it isn’t that way any longer. “No,” I’d say, “The town has changed. Everything has since then.”

My disappointed listener would nod in agreement. “Thanks. I didn’t think so.”

What they wanted wasn’t a glimpse of old, desperate South under the heel of the Great Depression, of course. It was a feeling. I had wanted it too as I drove through the South in pursuit of the spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird.

It had been so elusive. Always beckoning from an abandoned road I didn’t have time to explore, or suggested in the faded letters on a rusted sign.

But something was happening on Route 7 where the cotton fields were like green, inland seas. We were driving into it. You had to wait for it. It was just stillness.

Look!” I said, as we slowed and crept into Greenwood. It was early, and the streets were deserted. A few young men were scratching with rakes at the grass in from of the city hall, but all else was quiet. The brick buildings, many more than a century old, were half in shadows.

We came to a stop and lowered the windows. “You know,” I whispered, not knowing why, “if you never wanted to be found, you could come here.”

She drew a breath. “Why, who would have thought…”


She pointed to the storefront we’d stopped beside. The Mockingbird CafĂ©.

Charles J. Shields, lives in Barboursville, Virginia and is the author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (Henry Holt, $25), a New York Times Best Seller.


Sunday, February 1, 2009



I started reading SharynMcCrumb books about twenty years ago.
If you read this blog, you already know that I give her credit for my love affair with books set in Appalachia.
She is without a doubt, my all time favorite Author ! I have never had the honor of meeting Sharyn in person, though I have occasionally dreamed that one day she would do a signing near me and I would haul my collection of her books to it and get them all signed! Maybe even be lucky enough to get my picture taken with her! I have however communicated with her a few times via e-mail. This is the good part !!
Sharyn has a new book coming out later this year" FASTER PASTOR " and has added
You heard me right......... I, ( can you believe it?) will be interviewing my favorite Author!
I'll be one of the first to review the new book ! Does this mean I will get a "First Edition" signed copy? OMG........ I just now realized that possibility!! I NEVER DREAMED this could happen to me, what a dream come true !