The Present State of Miss Bessie

Stretching the Imagination

Miss Bessie’s House

The Present State of Miss Bessie

The other day, I stopped by the house of Miss Bessie, that’s what she was called among the few folks who still knew her. As I turned the key and shut off the engine, a holy silence settled over the old homestead. A light breeze stirred the Spanish moss and in the distance, a lonely dove called out its mournful tones.

“Coo, coo, coo.”

I stepped from my car, walked the short space from where I’d parked underneath a massive live-oak, to the porch lined with Boston ferns and Pansies. With each step, my heels crunched the gravel like some rude child chewing with his mouth open.

I put my foot upon the first step of the porch; it groaned under my weight, but held. The hollow sound of each footfall resonated but went unnoticed by the spider, holding vigil over the unopened entrance.

The light tapping on her door brought the usual response…silence. I wasn’t surprised, as Miss Bessie’s hearing had long forsaken her. With care, I pushed the weathered door open; it creaked under its weight and scraped the pine-heart floor like bear claws. Light from the morning sun filtered through the lace curtains, giving the sitting-room a soft illumination. Particles of dust drifted in lazy circles in and out of the shafts of golden rays, which penetrated the yellowed shades.

The aging clock on the mantle, no longer beating out its rhythmic cadence, was the only indication that something wasn’t….normal.

I took a halting breath and knew…

Pushing deeper, I found Miss Bessie sitting in her old rocking chair on the back porch. To look at her, you would think she was either asleep or in deep prayer. Her hands were folded, her head bowed, and a few strands of grizzled hair, which escaped her hair net, hung loosely across her peaceful forehead. Her tattered Bible lay open on her lap. Gnarled fingers, locked in fervent prayer, sat lightly on its yellowed pages. Across her knees stretched an old, worn quilt. Its raggedy fringes stopped just high enough to reveal her feet, covered with a pair of darned socks, one loosely gathered around her ankle, the other pulled as high as it would go.

One look and I knew. The old rocking chair, which had been her support in life, had become the chariot upon which she rode to glory in the small hours of morning. In some shameful way, I envied her. She had fought the good fight and won the victory. For me, my journey was somewhere within the long dash, which held two dates apart.

I don’t go by Miss Bessie’s house anymore. However, rumor has it that if you pass by her former residence about the time the upper branches of that old live-oak play catch with the first rays of sun, you can hear the faint humming of Miss Bessie wafting through the morning air.

For more of Bryan’s musings go to his web-site,  and read about his newest Thriller, Sisters of the Veil. It’s only available on line at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publication, but it is a must read.



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Atlanta Author Coordinating Book Drive

The images from hurricane Sandy are in and they are heartbreaking. Our Northern brothers and sisters have been hit hard. Homes destroyed. Unimaginable loss. Desperation.  It is during these times that we feel helpless asking, “What can I do?”

We empathize with those who have lost everything and those working hard to restore the area. We understand that compensation from insurance companies will come, but may not cover all the damage.  That is why many churches and schools are hosting food drives, delivering water, food, batteries and love-filled hugs. The Red Cross is boots-on- the- ground as are our military and regular everyday folk who just want to do something. For those who can give financially, please do so either to the Red or Because We Care Ministries who arrived in New Jersey days ago.  I mention these three charities because I personally know people who work there.

The news has reported that people with less than noble intentions are already taking advantage of folk. C’mon now. Let’s work together.

Today I write asking  my fellow authors to participate in a book drive. Realizing that times are tight and some people can not write a check; I urge authors to give what they already have . . . copies of their work. Plenty of helpers will rebuild neighborhoods but who will help the libraries? Prior to this storm, libraries had already experienced deep cuts. Doing more than ever with limited resources.  That is why I need your help.

If you are an author, please help me send copies of your work to Sandy victims. If you are a reader or book reviewer and have books in PRISTINE condition, you can help also.  I am one woman on a mission to give books to those in need. This little project is not a quick fix. Yes, I realize that people need homes, but they will also need books. I figure if students can send coats, authors and readers can send books. If we all do what we can then every little bit will help. This book drive is my “little bit.” You can help by sharing this blog post with readers and authors you know.

When I mentioned this idea to local booksellers and my NYT author friends, I quickly realized that southern authors and readers were ready to ship tons of books to our friends up North. I don’t want to burden anyone with books they might not need. That is why I am collaborating with George Eberhart, Editor of American Libraries Magazine. In the days to follow, I will post a list of those authors on this blog. These authors will send copies of their work to libraries in need of an assistance. If your are an author, or library staff, my goal is to build a relationship that benefits readers.

Librarians and Media Specialists along the coast: North Carolina, New Jersey, Long Island, Delaware  if  Sandy damaged your library and you would like to add books to your permanent collection, please contact me using the address below.

AuthorsPlease follow the instructions and include all information requested  to add your title to the list.

Readers and reviewers: Add your name to the list using the contact information below.

Please email me at: Reneawrites(at)gmail(dot)com.  Authors, please include the title, ISBN, CIP, Genre, URL link and, of course, contact information. 

From my heart to yours, thank you.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. Visit her at She is passionate about literacy. When she isn’t writing, she shelves books at the public library.

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Reviews Needed

Hello fellow scribes,

I’ve been watching your posts from afar and pleased with the success many of you are having. Marketing is time consuming, but I hope the tips and suggestions offered in Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author have made your path a bit less bumpy. For those who have attended my workshops or had individual consultations, thank you for making the first step toward publication, and more importantly marketing. I created this blog for workshop participants to build a community of bloggers who could cross-post and expand their readership. 

I still lead workshops for Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author, but am testing the waters with a radio station who wants to record three radio interviews and a teleconference.

This is where I need your help!

The radio station wants to grab a few reader comments, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I am uncertain if both online companies allow you to link a website address to your comment. If they do, leaving a comment at the link below would not only benefit me, but be a great way to increase traffic to your site. If url links aren’t allowed, you can always sign your comment, (Your name), author of…..

I understand that each of you are hard at work with your own individual marketing, but if you can take just a moment from your busy schedule to visit the link and leave a comment, I would be very grateful. I do hope that your copy of Stress-free Marketing:  Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author is dog-eared, peppered with sticky notes and most-of-all filled with enough valuable advice that you suggest it to your fellow authors.

Thank you for your time.


Author of Stress-free Marketing:  Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author 


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An Interview with Chase Newton

An Interview with Chase Newton

Book cover

“I’m talking to investigative report, Mr. Chase Newton with the New York Times, Washington Bureau and I wanted to ask him about his new book, Stranger in the White House.”
“Good afternoon Chase. Thanks for taking time to speak with me.”
“You’re welcome. I love talking about this book. The more I hear about what is going on in politics these days, the more convinced this is a compelling and contemporary story that must be told.”
“Well I can’t wait to hear about it, but first, let’s get caught up on your life since your last big story. I understand you and Megan are married, is that correct?”
“That’s right; we’ve been married a little over three and a half years. I’ll tell you all about our wedding in the book. During the darkest days of this investigation, I often caught myself thinking back to the days leading up to and since our wedding. I have to admit, there were moments I thought I’d never see Megan again.”
“Have you and Megan had any children yet?”

“Nope. It’s not that we don’t want them. It just hasn’t happened yet. In retrospect, I think it was for the best, knowing the trauma M went through these last days.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to learn more. Chase, as an investigative reporter, you’re usually covering the news, not making it. What’s it like to be in the eye of the storm?”
“Well actually, I wasn’t in the eye of the storm, I was in the storm and played a major role in solving the case. In reality, M was in the eye of the storm, but she didn’t know it at the time. Later on, she told me all she knew was that someone very evil wanted to get their hands on me. They threatened to kill her if she didn’t tell them where I was. She didn’t know where and wouldn’t have told them if she did.”
“I understand she is the reason you got involved in the first investigation four years ago. Is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right. If you will remember, she tried to get my attention on several occasions. But, like a blockhead, I missed the signals. So she resorted to nearly running me over as I crossed the street in Beaumont. That got my attention and I began to wonder where all the new residents were coming from. I had to find out what was going on under our noses in Beaumont.”
“What was it like to be dating the preacher’s daughter and at the same time be investigating him as possibly the leader of the Order?”
“Well, it was interesting to say the least. First I got myself fired from the Beaumont Observer, and then got hired at the bank as the chief loan officer. At the same time, I was trying to get better acquainted with M. After church one Sunday, she asked me to come to her house for Sunday dinner. Boy was that an eye opener.”
“Yes, and I understand you met a lot of interesting people there.”
“That’s right, and it only further whet my interest in finding out who those people were and where all the money was coming from.”
“She was also responsible for you coming to the Lord, right?”
“That’s right. I really respected her. She is a woman of spunk and character. Her Godly testimony pointed me to the Lord. As you know, I was brought up on a Christian home, but I never personally applied the teachings of my parents to myself. It was good for mom and dad, but I thought I knew better. It was one of Pastor T. J,’s sermons that got me thinking. What he said didn’t ring true. That led me on a search for the truth behind the stranger in the pulpit. Little did I know that it would lead me to a crisis of my faith. I had to admit, I had none. M pointed me to Jesus and I trusted Him as my Savior.”
“So tell us a little about your next book, Stranger in the White House. That sounds intriguing.”
“Well, I can’t tell you much, but suffice it to say it starts off with a double assassination of the president and vice president. From there, it takes you on a wild ride halfway around the world and back in order to solve the case.”
“So there is a lot of action and suspense? Does anyone that we know get killed?”
“Now that I can’t tell you, but let me say, you will be familiar with several characters in the book. My editor Stan Berkowitz and Sheriff Conyers are big contributors to the story.”
“Well that concludes my interview with the now famous investigative reporter, Mr. Chase Newton. His book, Stranger in the White House will be available for pre-release sales sometime in August. Is there anything you want to say about that?”
“Yes, that is right. I talked with my publicist at Tate Publishing and they are saying it will go to press in about a week. They’re thinking it will be available after August 13th.”

I know many of your followers will be asking how they can get your book. How much does it cost and where can they order it?
“Thanks for asking. Stranger in the White House is larger than my last book. It is 237 pages, so they priced it at $13.99. Since Megan is a millionaire, she said that she’ll pay the tax on any book sold in Georgia. Oh, and by the way, don’t you love the cover? They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but this cover says it all.”
“Where can people get your book? Is it in bookstores yet?”
“No not yet. But my author, Bryan Powell, will be going around the Atlanta region holding book signing events at many of the places where he’s been in the past. Otherwise you can order it through his web site at or come to one of our many book signings.”
“Let me say this, too. Be watching for a big announcement concerning our book launch. Bryan has been in contact with someone about where to hold his book launch. We should know in a couple of days and I can hardly wait. If it works out, it will really be a huge event.”

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The Golf Ball

Good used golf ball

So there it sat—a golf ball.
I knew instinctively how it got there, and why.
Someone teed up, set up, reared back and swung, striking the ball and sending the round object skyward.
But instead of it ripping through the air toward its intended target, the feisty orb took an unexpected trajectory.
“D’rates, I hooked it,” said the exasperated golfer and teed up and swung again.
Meanwhile, the little round object went bounding along Windy Hill until it settled in its current resting place…the corner of Windy Hill and Reed Street.
So there I sat, at that intersection, staring at a perfectly good golf ball.
Being the avid golfer that I am, I had a decision to make. Get it, or forget it.
In a nanosecond, my mind and body performed a series of actions; I checked my mirror, jammed the car into park, released my seatbelt, leaped from my car, dashed across the road, and grabbed the golf ball. Looking to see how fast the approaching car was coming and calculating whether or not I’ll live to see another day, I jumped back into my car, slammed the door and sped around the corner, only later to reattach my seatbelt.
My question to you is; did you see me do it?
You might answer an emphatic, “No!” and you’re right, not unless you were passing that intersection at precisely 7:45a.m.
But I submit to you that you did.
You are probably asking, “How did I do that?”
The answer, by reading 25 letters arranged in different combinations, I took you on a journey of the imagination. In your mind’s eye, you saw me jump from my car and dash across the road, pick up the golf ball and dash back.
For other insightful and inspiring words by author Bryan M. Powell, go to the archives and read “Over the Rainbow,” “Mommy I saw Angels,” or “I Made My Wife Cry.”
If you love reading Mystery Novels, check out Stranger in the Pulpit and begin looking for my upcoming interviews with some of the exciting characters in my next novel,
Stranger in the White House.
Bryan M. Powell
Member of ACFW and PCWG
web site:
Stranger in the Pulpit – now available
Stranger in the White House – July/August 2012

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A Pebble Among the Diamonds

They say there are rivers in South Africa which are littered with diamonds and all you need to do is to pick them up. Whether or not that still holds true today can be testified by others, but this week I can testify that I was a pebble sitting among some of God’s diamonds without knowing it. I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with award winning novelists and writers and had no clue I sat among such greatness.
Among the 350 plus conferees were diamonds in the rough waiting and wanting to be discovered. Yet there were others, polished by God’s hand and placed at the tip of His mighty pen to write words of inspiration and meditation. To write words which take us to places we’ve never been, and words which draw us closer to God.
These diamonds came in all shapes and colors, some young and vibrant, filled with ideas and ideals. And others well acquainted with life; with its ups and downs, blessings and burdens. To sit among them, as I did, was like sitting among the scribes of Israel; humble, determined, and patient, with one significant difference. Unlike the scribes who copied the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran, these scribes possessed the spark of creativity. They were people in whose hearts burned a message from God and found their voices to proclaim it.
Throughout this week I rubbed shoulders with like-minded people; people with aspirations and dreams, people with messages from God. Thus a process began; a process of shaping and reshaping this pebble. At some point in the process a shaft of sunlight burst through the clouds like a javelin and struck one of the newly formed facets. In that moment I discovered I was not a pebble after all.


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A Bit of Fiction

Originally posted here, on Halloween. A few minor edits along the way, though the illustration that went along with it does still relate to the story. We had some wind in Savannah, and it reminded me of this story. So today felt like the sort of day to put this up.

On All Hallow’s Eve, A story of Rodille

by A. M. Bell

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The Bones of Boulder Creek

The Bones of Boulder Creek provides readers with a window in which to view  the lives of Nathan and Chris.  It is difficult to share what makes this book so special without revealing the secrets written inside. The story goes deeper than a friendship between two boys, it causes readers to analyse how they see people and what impact their own actions have on the lives of others.

Rarely does a book have the ability to capture readers of different ages, The Bones of Boulder Creek does just that.

The Bones of Boulder Creek is available in paperback and on Kindle by visiting this link.

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Workshops for Emerging authors by Renea Winchester

If you haven’t reserved a seat for one of the emerging author workshops I am teaching, please visit my blog and follow the links to a venue near you.

Workshop participants will receive a variety of helpful information such as: navigating social media, how to plan a book launch, the importance of a website, and three things every author needs. All this and much more.

Kindly follow my blog Here you will receive updates which may not be found in the book Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author.

Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes and Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Currently, she is collaborating on a  book tentatively titled: The Ora Coleman Legacy, and is working on In the Kitchen with Billy: Tall Tales and Short Recipes from the Garden.  She will meet with your book club or writing group to discuss marketing techniques that really work. Contact her at

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I Made My Wife Cry by Bryan Powell

Yes it is true. Probably more times than I would like to admit but this time it was different, this time it was for reasons that did not require an apology…Praise the Lord. This time it was balanced with an equal (or greater than) amount of laughter. You see, we just finished reading my newest novel The Witch and the Wise Men…A Christmas Tale.

We (Patty and I) started reading The Witch and the Wise Men…A Christmas Tale out loud earlier this week and finished it around midnight last night; she simply couldn’t or wouldn’t put it down until she finished. She had to know, she had to find out how it ended. The story took us on a wild ride from Babylon to Bethlehem, from the first century to the twenty-first century. We went from laughing to crying, from yelling at the characters to cheering with them, from being scared out of our wits to praising the Lord for the great things He had done.

The Witch and the Wise Men…touched the full spectrum of emotions. We laughed ourselves silly at the funny comments made by my character Gasper, the youngest member of the trio of Magi.
Our hearts soared with joy as Ty (Huntley) compared his love for Samm (Samantha Myers) to that of the love Hosea had for Gomar; just to have it ripped out of our beating chests as she admitted her culpability in the deaths of Ty’s parents. Tears scalded our cheeks as Scott Wyatt (Pastor of the Cedar Point Bible Church) turned his back on his wife in her time of need.
We cheered as if our team won the Super-Bowl when our hero finally came through at the last minute and saved the mission from certain disaster.

The Witch and the Wise Men… took us on a journey from the Judean hills of Endor in the years following our Lord’s birth, down through the corridors of time to the present day, to an insignificant valley town in Illinois. It is there that a great spiritual battle was fought in the night skies over Cedar Point; it was there that the united prayers of the saints ascended and touched the throne of Heaven and it was there that a mighty foe was defeated in the Cave of the Witch buried deep within the wicked mountain. When we finished we were exhausted but completely thrilled. I sent my manuscript in to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest with the hope that it passes the first, second and third judication levels. I should know by February 24 if it passed the first level, which is called the Pitch; a 300 word summary of the manuscript. Below is my Pitch. Please find me on Facebook or LinkedIn and let me know what you think.

While you are at it, don’t forget to go to  and check out my Book Trailer. Click on the ‘My Content Page’ and click the video link, then let your fingers run, not walk to the link to place your order for Stranger in the Pulpit.
You can order it from me and I will send it right out!

A child has been abducted by the Witch of Endor posing as a modern day witch named Mrs. White. She plans on offering the child to the Dark Lord on December 22nd, the night of the Winter Solstice. With the help of Ty Huntley, the Wise Men set out to rescue Ashton, Samantha Myers’ baby from the clutches of the wicked Witch and in the process learn the power of love, prayer and forgiveness. Along the way they encounter a hurting Pastor who needs to know the truth about his wife, a lost attorney who is seeking to make sense of it all and a desperate young lady who has made a mess of her life and will do anything to forget her past, but time is running out for all of them. With only hours to spare, the three Wise Men must rely on the power of a praying church, the support of two newly converted Jewish believers and a young shepherd boy with a sling shot to stop the coming of the Son of Perdition, but is there time?

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