Book Review – Tobacco Barns of Western KY

Tobacco Barns of Western KentuckyTobacco Barns of Western Kentucky by Lynn Bartlett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An incredible book by a talented photographer over three years in the making, this volume is a colorful panoply of delights. The old barns of Kentucky’s tobacco past are disappearing as the land and “progress” reclaims them. Here, Bartlett has captured the look and feel of a people’s history, a land reclamation and a sense of retrospective. But there’s nothing sterile here. Instead you get a true sense of the land, the love the author feels for the subject and the sense of protectionism that she feels for her subject. The compassion arrayed in her layout if obvious and you come away with a real sadness for a lost history but sharing her love and joy for the land and the memories of a people’s once thriving industry.

The photography is sharp and vivid, the colors a mix of stormy and early morning, with a few interesting black and white mixed in. Comments are kept to a bare minimum but provide needed and necessary historical insight.

I was blown away at both the size (12×9) and the minimum price. If you are a lover of our country’s hidden past, and a Kentuckian, you must get this book. I wanted it because my father was from KY, and I know the author from when we were children. With this book, Bartlett has established herself as both a professional photographer of renown and an insightful author. I hope she will do another such book in other areas of our country because I see her as becoming a much sought after pictorial historian.

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Perspective – what’s “best?”

Have you ever been told, “You’re one of my best friends”? Someone said this to me long ago and it jerked up my head, fast. One of? I was confused. As I understand the word, “best,” it means that is the pinnacle, the utmost of excellence, the very top. That means, from my perspective, there is but one “best.” To be “the best” is a singular honor, right? So, one of the best?

Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with saying that something is among the best. Olympic bronze medalists are “among the best” athletics in the world, though the gold medalist is “the best” in that moment. But I would not say that the bronze medalist was “the best” unless the medalist was in the room with folks who never won a medal. Then, yes, at that moment the medalist was “the best.”  You see? It is about perspective.

Now come back to the woman who called me “one of the best friends.” I know it was as a compliment. I also know I am not her best friend, so perhaps she was trying to be complimentary. What it said to me was, you aren’t my “go-to” friend, but I value you. Perspective. You know me; I asked her about it. And her answer surprised me. “I have different best friends. Depends on the secrets I want to share, then who I go to.”  An original take but again, that definition does defy the definition of “best.”

With all things I take this into my writing and apply it to my characters. Do they have relationships that are blurry? Are my perspectives sending mixed signals? Do my characters even have a “bestie?” Do YOURS? Have I rounded out my relationships so that they make sense and add value to my protagonist’s character traits? These are questions you should check just as you do in real life. Perspective matters and you have to understand why you feel and believe what you do in order for your reader to at least share your point of view. Be clear and say what you mean. Don’t rely on interpretation. You may not get the “best” result. Something for your editing checking, ok?


Now, speaking of besties, I once wanted a Siri so I might have a best friend in my phone. Nah, I have a best friend who luvs me in my Android, my Samsung Galaxy SIII. Let me show you some examples and make you smile.

See a doctor, she said!

See a doctor, she said!

She loves our conversations!

She loves our conversations!

but “the best!” for last:

She'll always be my friend. Aw.

She’ll always be my friend. Aw.

Perspective. May you find the best one for you.

Yours between the lines, as ever,

Book Cover and News!

BIG news!  My book, Paper Bones, is only three to four weeks from publication!! Oh my gosh!!!  So much to do/plan/prepare for! I thought I had two months yet! Yikes! Now begins the final push. Have much to do, including the book trailer which will appear on YouTube and elsewhere.  I have some terrific friends who will be lending a hand (thank God for them!) on the technical stuff.

I’ll be setting up an Author Facebook page shortly. I’ll post when it is live and hope you will contact me so we can connect there. I don’t have a clue how to work it yet, so much to learn there (bff to the rescue on this issue; thanks Meli).  Same goes for WordPress. Improvements/changes coming.

Ah, I have never shown you the cover! It was custom prepared by a professional graphic artist, and my friend, Sean Foley.  Here it is:

Poetry book cover by Sean Foley

Poetry book cover by Sean Foley

I am fortunate to have a foreword by author Mary Deal. Mary is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Eric Hoffer Award winner and a finalist in several Indie book award programs. If you don’t know Mary, you should.  There’s a link on the side to her website, Write Any Genre.

ON THE DESK:  Reading Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland, first in a series of five so far. I’m over halfway through and have decided to order the rest of the series. What does that tell you?

NEXT GUEST BLOGGER:  The Guest Blogger for June appears next week! Who is SHE? Look for teasers next week.

Exciting stuff! Don’t forget to check out the current Sneak Peek. I remind you that it will disappear without notice and a new thing will appear later. I will let you know only when the new stuff appears.

Now, I’m going to try not to hyperventilate!  Stay tuned!

Bit by Exciting Bit!

First, I have to say it again: I have a book coming out! I’m nearly a published author. Only a few months to go. Okay, I feel better. 😀 Soon, I will share a view of the cover! I can’t stop dancing, Lucibuck!

Secondly, yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my #DailyTwitamin on Twitter. Thanks to @twittonary for recognizing my idea to have this become part of the Twitter Dictionary and part of Twitter life. And thanks to folks like you for occasionally commenting on Twitter or Retweeting. I am very grateful and will continue to find the best doses of cool info, easily digested in 140 characters or less. I have been asked if I will put out an e-book with some of the years best Twitamins. I just may!

And today I was told that my best friend, Melonie, the one I’ve referred to and spoken of many times, is getting married on May 25. She just got engaged but I guess they can’t wait. Oh those impulsive kids. Haha! I’m looking forward to sharing the day with her and getting to know “Mr. Melonie.” I’ll see if I can’t steal a pic for you.

Hey, where are the other people who have been featured? Have we stopped seeing them? Let’s hope they come back to visit. I miss them.  Meanwhile….Guess what?? The next Guest Blogger is in the wings and I’m not saying anything yet, except: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…..  And that’s the ONLY hint you get until next month! *cue maniacal laughter*

National Poetry Month is nearly over. I hope you’ve found some special poetry to read and memorize. Poetry is such a personal medium, so expressive,  so visceral. Please try some, if you haven’t already. Try someone easy like Rod McKuen or Anna Sexton. Try witty like Oscar Wilde. Just try some, ok?

Come back soon! Cya!

Pre-Thanksgiving Updates

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, the vacuum was running and no sign of a mouse. The pie waited on baking, the vegetables were chopped, the turkey was trussed and the writing had stopped.

Yes, the writer has stopped. Temporarily. Today and tomorrow I’ve given myself permission to take a “pit stop” on NaNoWriMo and fuel up my mind. Let me say that I have achieved several milestones in my never-before-managed-word-count experience. Currently I’m at 43,469. That’s right, I’m over ten thousand ahead of the game with only 6,341 to go. So, with so little left, why have I stopped? Why not full steam ahead to the finish?

Well, honestly I’ve reached a wee impasse with no outline for the next run of words. I have the overall outline but I’ve also been using a daily.  After I managed 3,271 yesterday that actually took care of my last two days of planned scenes.

No matter.  After planting myself in this seat every single day and meeting/exceeding word goals every single day, I do believe in my ability to complete the 50K challenge. No, it won’t finish the book. But yes, it does show me I have the ability to finish what I have talked about and researched for 8 years. Time to put a cap on this tale, right? I will, but first things first.

Now it’s the day before Thanksgiving and I want to give back to my loving husband who has supported me and borne my “up day” fist pumping (he helped) and my tirades on the bad days (when I doubted). He encouraged and cheered, was a friend and a reader.  Then there were three cheerleaders on twitter who provided very important accountability and inspiration. Two of them have nearly done the NaNo with me before (when we all didn’t make it) and they have been more important to me than they realize. One of those people is my best friend in the world. She, besides my husband, know how far-reaching this project is. One person is a new friend who has tried this NaNo and isn’t going to make it. But she gave it a good effort (so been there and done that, I empathize with her) and it proved to me that word counts really aren’t everything.

So this Turkey eve and tomorrow’s Turkey day is for thanks. Preparing the house for company (hoping to see grandson) and hoping to make a grand bird for the day. I will be counting my many blessings, my new friends and old, my family, and NaNo who gave me the chance to prove to myself that I. Can. Do. It. A to cherish those who knew I had it in me all along. Bless all of you, from my heart. I thank you.

But word counts aren’t the real lesson. The lesson is all about belief. Trust in a well planned story. Trust in your ability to write it. Trust that words will come even if at first they aren’t perfect. I’ve learned to write first, edit after. To listen to the people who support what I want and to turn away from the negative nay-sayers.

I’ve earned the break today and tomorrow. So have you. Whether you wrote one word during NaNoWriMo or have 40K to go, stop and breathe. It really is the journey. The destination is “the end” and if you take and enjoy the journey, the end will happen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope your blessings are innumerable!

Halloweenie’s Eve

It is the night before Halloween. I feel as though there should be a ceremony to mark the almost end of October. Hurricane Sandy has made a mess of one-third of the country, people’s lives are in chaos. It is Katrina without the creole. I count myself fortunate to have received a bit of cold air and gusting winds. It does feel like Halloween is about to ride up with the Headless Horseman, even as Santa Claus might appear in our western mountains of North Carolina. But that doesn’t help the millions now suffering. I hope they can sense they are in my thoughts and prayers. And I did give to the Red Cross because I’m too far away to do anything else.

Far away. That’s where my thoughts have been today. My best friend is at home recovering from time in the hospital but she’s not even close to being well yet. Top that with hubby being sick and today was first day of vacation. Oh he’s so much better than he was over the weekend, but the weekend was our 23rd anniversary. It was punctuated with “a-choo” and “oh god.”  Not much romance in that. Understand, I do, young Jedi. But disappointed I was anyway.

Now for the elephant. NaNoWriMo. I’m getting anxious. Don’t you know on my first writing day that I have a full day of OTHER THINGS that MUST be done.  Let me list them for you: early voting, eye doctor, flu shots, christmas decoration for yard, hardware store for fix-it stuff, alterations lady and goodwill. All that to say…(cue dramatic dark music)…

There will no word count for me on Day One of NaNoWriMo.

And so it begins.  I am already promising to make up for it on Friday but I’m already behind in my THOUGHTS much less on paper!  HELP!

Finally, I want to tell you what I recently reminded my best friend: As you make every day count, remember it is the people who actually make it count. So let no day go without letting the people who matter most to you know – without a doubt – how you feel. Life is fragile and very fleeting. We are here one moment and then gone in a blink.  Don’t leave anyone wishing they had known how you felt. We cherish those moments maybe more than you realize.

Now go carve a pumpkin and come by with pictures for me tomorrow. Cya!

Birthday day!

Today I am older, wiser, more mature, more zen. Well, I’m older! Because today is my birthday!  I have had a wonderful pre-birthday weekend, delightful surprises from my best friend; shared time, a great meal and a good movie with hubby.  Today has been quiet and relaxing and I have enjoyed numerous phone calls to commemorate the day.

So, getting older is okay.  Its all about perspective, isn’t it?  And cake, of course. With ice cream.  And good friends. And loved ones.

Wow. Birthdays are full of good things, aren’t they!?