Gibson County Tennessee

Gibson County, Tennessee is the location I chose for the Kinsman Redeemer series. Annabelle’s Ruth, the first book in that series, takes place almost entirely in Gibson County–specifically–Trenton, Tennessee. Trenton is the county seat and one of the three main towns in Gibson County.

11666289_10205133027745183_2390596382820159736_nI recently returned from a trip to the area. This photo shows the house my family rented in Trenton (a number of years ago–not telling how many years). Guess what? It’s still a rental! There was a “For Rent” sign in the yard. The weeping willow tree I used to climb is gone, and the green color of the house has changed from a pale green to a brighter, darker one, but little else has changed. Of course, there was no ramp or satellite dish in those days either. There were only two bedrooms in the house, so I–the only girl in the family–got to sleep on the built-in back porch. How many girls get to have a washer in their bedroom? The porch wasn’t insulated, so in really cold weather, I slept on the couch in the living room.

31 mph speed limit in Trenton

After visiting our little house, we headed for the town’s centerpiece – the elegant Victorian-style courthouse. On the way, we passed this speed limit sign, mentioned in Annabelle’s Ruth.

Trenton has tons of interesting history, including David (Davy) Crockett. He was an early resident statesman who started the process to organize the area into Gibson County. In those early days, the courthouse was a log cabin. The present courthouse was erected in 1899.

Note: In these photos, the flags are at half-staff to honor the fallen soldiers in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

TrentonCollageAfter leaving the courthouse, we took a little tour of the town and it’s lovely old houses, including the one pictured below, which I used as a model for Jensen Wade’s house in Annabelle’s Ruth. It’s a Greek revival style home built in 1831. It was said the residents stood on the balcony and watched the Battle of Trenton during the Civil War.

HighStHouseTrentonOh, by the way–this one’s for sale. You can see inside it and check out the details here.

Present-day Trenton is a pleasant little town of approximately 4,300 residents in a mainly agricultural community. But the town does boast a world-famous collection of Night Light teapots. You can view them on display and read their history here.

After our little tour, I paid a visit to the Gibson County Memorial Library and librarian Connie Bates. She has now read Annabelle’s Ruth and told me she loved it, especially the familiar places referenced in the story. The library has a copy of the book, and I’ll be returning in the future to speak to the local book club.

Annabelle's Ruth FRONT final CoverNow I’m all set to begin the second novel in the Kinsman Redeemer series with scenes of the home town fresh in my mind. The cotton is tall and green in the fields, the temps this past weekend topped 100 degrees. Ah, West Tennessee summers! So fry up some fresh okra and put the cornbread in the oven. Call me when dinner’s ready. I can’t wait to see what happens to Annabelle and her family next.

Annabelle’s Ruth is available on Amazon.

ONE Big, FUN Thing!

Why am I smiling? Because I know a secret. You’ll know too, in a couple of weeks. But for now, here’s my latest post and a couple hints: ONE Big, FUN Thing.
It seems some people have the most interesting lives. Surely, that should’ve been my life. I could’ve done that. WAIT. I could still do that. 
We are witnessing amazing days. Oh, I know the word amazing is overused and cliché—there are better words. My thesaurus brings up astonishing, astounding, mind-blowing, incredible, wonderful… I could go on and on. The sights we behold on a daily basis–it’s truly mind-blowing. 
What would our ancestors think of sending a message from one side of the world to the other, received in seconds, answered seconds later? 
What would Granny think of sitting in front of a screen in her home in Tennessee while talking to a beloved family member stationed in Afghanistan? She’s gone on to glory, so we’ll never know, but it’s a part of Granny’s great-great grandchildren’s everyday life as her great-great-great grandchildren talk to their daddy.
What would she think of millions of books available to us, instantly downloaded to our electronic devices? As a sightless individual, she would’ve loved the audiobooks! These would have opened a whole new world for her.
ONE. This brings me to the subject of my post today, the ever-changing world of publishing. Who could have predicted what has happened in the last twenty or so years? The last ten years? Astounding, incredible…
During the month of July, I will post an interview on Thursdays with an individual on the cusp of the changes in the publishing world. Editors, publishers, writers taking the plunge to create something truly wonderful. To impact the world. But I’ll let them speak for themselves. 
I hope you’ll drop in each week, to read their interviews and get an inside view of their lives and purpose. Perhaps you’ll find a niche for your story. Or a mentor to guide your way through the new world of writing and publishing. 
Who will be interviewed? I’ll publish my list on Thursday, July 3rd. On every subsequent Thursday throughout the month of July, you’ll meet one of the publishers. I’ll also publish the list on all my social sites.
Mark your calendars, sign up as a member of this blog, or have my posts emailed to you. If you prefer, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, because I don’t want you to miss these interviews. More importantly, I don’t think you want to miss them!

FUN. There will be giveaways. I love giveaways. At least one of the publishers has already requested to give away a book, so watch for it. Leave a comment there for a chance to win a book.  

See you next month!

Hometowns, Teapots, and Thirty-one Miles an Hour

I suppose you could say Louisville, Kentucky (home of the Kentucky Derby) is my hometown, since I’ve lived here most of my life. But when I was a child, I lived in several small towns in West Tennessee. Places you might think of as hometowns, because they were cozy and small. One of those towns is featured in my latest work in progress, Annabelle’s Ruth (working title).

Trenton, Tennessee, the Gibson County seat, is a lovely town. The beautiful courthouse is built in the Victorian style and though the town is small, it boasts an impressive list of historical homes, mostly built in the town’s center.

Since it is the county seat, many roads lead to Trenton and if you look at the map, you’ll see that many of those roads bear the name of the town or city to which they lead. Milan Highway, Alamo Highway, Dyersburg Highway, just to name a few. My main characters live on a tenant farm located on Milan Highway. The story is set during the early 1950’s when they were surrounded by cotton fields. And it’s hot.

Trenton, originally known as Gibson-Port, is the oldest town in Gibson County, chosen as county seat in 1825. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Trenton occupies an area of about 5.6 square miles and boasts a population of just under 5,000 people (latest census 2000).

Picture by Jordan Lamb

This is an actual speed limit sign in Trenton. It’s not a typo.
This weird but true speed limit was instituted in the 1950’s. It does get your attention.

Trenton is the hometown of John Wesley Crockett, son of David (Davy) Crockett, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Tennessee’s twelfth district).

These days, they are particularly proud of their rare teapot collection on display at the Teapot Museum, especially the Porcelain Veilleuse-Theiere (night-light teapots). The week-long Teapot Festival runs the last weekend of April through the first week in May. The Museum and their impressive number of beautiful old homes and mansions makes them an interesting stop, if you’re ever headed their way.

Well, I’ve got to get back to my manuscript. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Trenton and will click through some of the links.

Thanks for reading, and hope your horse wins, if you’re into that kind of thing!

Samson, the Bluetick Coonhound

If you’re on Facebook, you already know how popular pets are. I know I get a hundred cute pet pictures posted on my status every day. Knowing how important these four-legged friends are, I’ve included a pet in my present story-in-progress. There’s only one problem.

He tries to take over every scene he’s in. Samson is a Bluetick coonhound. As you can see from the photo, he has a very expressive face. Blueticks are very intelligent and energetic. And they sport a beautiful coat.

Samson spends his days chasing rabbits. His home in 1950’s West Tennessee affords plenty of opportunities to chase not only rabbits, but other wildlife as well. And lately, he’s taken to cozying up to a sweet young lady. She loves dogs, so she doesn’t mind.

Now just in case you’re attentive enough to notice that the hound in this picture is either missing something, or is not really a male dog, you’re right. I borrowed this pic from Wikipedia. It’s actually a female Bluetick coonhound named Juno. But for now, let’s just pretend this is an actual picture of my character’s dog. And he is most definitely male.

Here’s a short excerpt:

At that moment, Samson ran past Connie. He bolted into the front seat, planting himself firmly in the middle.
The dog’s big brown eyes greeted her as she settled into the seat next to him. He seemed placid enough. Smelly, but gentle. She remembered her first view of him at Thelma’s. He’d waited quietly in the truck while his master talked to Annabelle and the kidney bean barked and danced around. “Good dog,” she whispered.
He thumped his tail.
Alton climbed in and shut the door. “Hope you don’t mind dogs.”
She shook her head. 
“He’s fairly obedient.” He shifted into gear and backed the truck around.

 And he is, fairly obedient. Except when there’s a scent of rabbit in the air. I’m a big fan of dogs in general and especially hounds. So I’m looking forward to finishing this particular story, just to see what happens with Samson, the Bluetick coonhound.

For more information on Bluetick hounds you can start here:

Thanks for reading!

Every Cotton-Picking Day

Why is there a picture of people picking cotton on my blogpost?

My current work-in-progress is set in the rural south. One of the hardest jobs I have ever done (with the possible exception of giving birth) is picking cotton. Yes, I am old enough to have picked cotton.

My grandparents were tenant farmers and their main crop was cotton. Even as late as the mid-60’s, they were hand-picking the crop. They usually hired locals to help them. The days were long and hot, and the work was back-breaking.

If you’ve seen Places in the Heart (Sally Field)  or even Gone With the Wind, you have an idea what I’m talking about. The only thing worse was chopping the cotton earlier in the season. Same deal: long hours, hot, pesky insects, dirt in your shoes…

I’m not complaining, it was good for me. You know, what doesn’t kill you…right. How did they survive such a difficult life? The work was hard and constant, but they didn’t give up. Year after year, they planted the cotton. It is beautiful in full bloom, by the way. And the sound of the wind through the leaves is so peaceful. The green plants made a wonderful playground for energetic children. I spent many happy hours there.

I’m enjoying writing this book, because it is so close to my heart. I feel I know the characters. Many of them sprang from memories of long ago. People who passed through my life during the sunny days of my youth. I hope the end product will be something you’ll want to read. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Thanks for reading!