Flowers and Stone

Watch Nonnie Write!

Flowers and Stone

Thank you all for dropping by today.  I hope it was the title of this post that enticed you to do so.

Many of you may be aware that early last year I took my debut novel, “DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND” down from Amazon.  (I’ve recently discovered that in my haste to do so, I only removed the e-book format and it is still there in paperback format, but hopefully, no one’s buying it).  I did this, because although it received many positive reviews, I just happened to open a paperback copy one day to find some very glaring “hiccups.”  I was so blown away (that they were glaring…at least to me) that I rushed to Amazon and yanked it down with such force, I think I hurt my arm. (I’m sorry, poor arm).

Anyway, with running the hugely busy and successful communities known as RRBC & RWISA, I…

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Somebody Likes Us

“Somebody Likes Us!”

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Don’t know about you, but, there are days when I feel all alone in the Arizona desert!

We all have our reasons for writing and it’s a good bet that most of those reasons are fairly standard…to fulfill a desire…to become established, famous, successful…to simply tell a story…to scratch an ego itch…for all these and many other reasons. Does it really matter what our reasons are for writing? Any reason is valid and need not be magnified, right? Well, not quite. Some might write to hurt someone, to slander, to libel, to ruin someone or some entity. Let’s just assume for this post that our reason for writing has a noble intent and has no malicious purpose…and, what we write is good. It’s a certainty we’ve picked up novels at the Book Store, read them, and announced them as crap-reads;

So, where are the sales, the 5-Star Reviews, the accolades we authors covet?

For some of us, we write a few books and here come the critics with their reviews that range from 5-Stars to 3-Stars, even lower. The world of reading thrives on reviews, what someone thinks about her/his reading experience. There are professional review services. There are housewives, husbands, people in book clubs, avid readers who are moved to comment about a writer’s effort. It is a fact of life in the relationship between reader and writer. We like those comments when they’re dripping with lovely words like, ‘great’, ‘brilliant’, ‘going to read more from this super author’… Oh, we salivate and pour some champagne. We begin to bore our spouses with our ceiling dances and loud hoots of joy.

So, you have written what you consider a relatively good book…sure, even you can in the final pre-publish reading find things you could change — extend a section, remove a section, embellish here, there, increase the length, decrease the length, and so forth. In the end, you feel that you have written an entertaining book, maybe not the perfect quintessential novel that you know is still inside you somewhere but a good book. The reviews line up, the 5-Stars, the 3-Stars, the 1-Star, the fractional Star, and you begin to analyze the reviews, maybe agree with a point or two the people are making. The emotions begin to swirl. Of course, you gravitate toward the 5-Star, 4-Star reviews and are elated. The bad reviews bring conflicting thought patterns…there is an initial sinking feeling which will become anger, denial, and, at some point, you will equivocate only to finally acknowledge that perhaps the negative points made in the bad reviews have validity.

Your thought processes on negative reviews from readers run the gamut. ‘What gives these people the right to publicly condemn your efforts, these Hannah Housewives, these Harold Hushpuppy husbands?’ Hell, you likely gave them the book free on amazon during a free giveaway day(s)! Cost them nothing and they’re critiquing you! You go back and re-read the fair-to-good reviews, get some renewed sustenance. But, most of all, you’re in a dither and doubting yourself and your writing talent because you could not please everyone. Chances are very good you are not being controlled by a publicist, someone who shelters you from this wasteful dithering, this minor earthquake inside your head. As an independent author you are a one-person publishing house, writing, editing, marketing, promoting, getting lost in all the digital world’s ‘ways and means.’

The really bad news is, of course, there are pitifully few sales… Ah, the aggravating world of the word-spinner! Where in the world did you get the idea you could write? 

Does an established, famous, author get a mixture of critiques? Perhaps not so many because the pros have the reading Pavlov public 5-Star oriented. But the truth is, yes, even these most popular penners of best sellers get their negative reviews as well. They have a much better shield in place to deflect the nasty words that cause the dithering.

All of this is not to say that you, I, and the countless other millions of writers do not have our book flaws. All of us have them! The temperaments of some writers are better than yours and they keep writing, getting away from the ‘passive’ passages of narrative, the cliches, too many ellipses, redundancy of words and phrases. We have many flaws in our books, and with each new book we write, we are getting less and less errata. We are, as they say, growing our craft. Will we get to that stage where we live among the giants of our writing world? Some will because talent cannot be denied too long. In the rare instance, enough money is spent to insure success – I can come up with my book-example of this, and I’m sure you can. Or, have our egos, our inner selves, betrayed us with pronouncements of our talent?

It is difficult to separate ourselves from the critics in the writing field, but we can remember what our reasons are for writing. We will still experience the dithering, but we have to stay true to whom we are. If we are getting 5-Stars along with some minimal Stars, somebody likes us. And, that is the message: remember your reasons for writing and just know that somebody likes us.

My belief is you are getting better with each writing effort. Just stay committed to your course…and…don’t…give…up!

Somebody Likes Us!

Billy Ray Chitwood – 01/17/18 – (Old post worth repeating.)

Please preview my books, read some of my Amazon Reviews, and a short & clumsy Bio.

http://billyraychitwood.com 

Please follow me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/brchitwood 

My Blogsite:

http://brchitwood.com – and/or – http://www.thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

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Big Book-Marketing Mistakes I’ve Made

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Big Marketing Mistakes I’ve Made

After a US Navy tour, college, much traveling, teaching, acting, marketing, sales, always searching for the ‘white buffalo’ – romancing and searching for pieces of me. I’m on an 80-acre spread in SE Arizona called ‘The Lazy Rabbit Ranch’, a second home for a while and a wonderful stretch of desert that charges my imagination. The house sits on a hilltop looking south toward Mexico and the Sierra Madre Mountains. To the east, there are the Chiricahua Mountains. To the West, there are the Dragoon Mountains and the legendary ‘Cochise Stronghold’. To the northeast, there are the Dos Cabezas Mountains.

‘Well, what are you doing there’? you can ask. That’s presuming you might be interested. Of course, you already know I’m going to tell you whether you are interested or not.

‘The Lazy Rabbit Ranch’ was solitude and space, a setting ripe with old west history and lore, cowboys and Indians. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Cochise, sat tall in their saddles, had their gun fights, and all gathered to write Chapter One to open the west.

Tombstone, the town too tough to die, home of the infamous ‘OK Corral’ and ‘Boot Hill’, was just a thirty-minute drive from the house, with a stretch of desert that can titillate or eliminate. In short, TLRR was a wonderful spot for would-be writers, poets, novelists, and the artists with their easels and brushes.

It happened that I did fairly well for myself after leaving Appalachia and my hill country ways. After shedding some of my Tennessee mountain charm and going into that bright neon-world of confusion and doubt. Believe me, there was surely enough extended education in that glitter-dome big city living. Not all of that good life was pure and wholesome. I worked a lot and I played a lot, and no extension of verbiage here can get me to an ‘All-American’ salutary status.

I lost most of my Tennessee ‘down-home’ accent, met and dated some very lovely ladies, all of whom I adored. Admittedly, certainly not glowingly, there was a very active hedonistic culture to which I quite easily and shamelessly inured.

But, back to ‘The Lazy Rabbit Ranch’.

Perhaps surprisingly to the reader(s) of this post, I taught at one point an ‘Advanced Writing’ class to high school college-bound seniors and had in the young years myself dabbled in poetry, singing, and writing. At ‘The Lazy Rabbit’ I began to write book one of a six-book series entitled ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’. “An Arizona Tragedy” – Book 1 was inspired by the brutal murder of a personal fellow actress friend of mine in Phoenix, Az. (Incidentally, that homicide is now a ‘cold case’ for the Phoenix, AZ Police Department. If anyone can add anything of value to this ‘cold case’, please contact the Phoenix PD.)

All but one of the remaining ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ were inspired by true crime events. I have always had this fascination for the evil that shocks and angers our world, the fodder that makes millions for the movie makers, game makers, and some authors (he writes, enviably!).

During my time at ‘The Lazy Rabbit Ranch’, I was using a ‘Star-Writer’ word processor to peck out my narrative brilliance. (Okay, how many of you did I lose, if there was anyone to lose?) The digital age was advancing fast, and the Wizards of the Web had already figured out how to create technology that would add to their billion-dollar caches every few years by coming out with extra software. These added goodies would provide more speed, more apps, more games, and more frantic competition.

So, except for books 4-6 of ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, I had three boxes of manuscripts gathering dust on the shelves.

Eventually, Julie and I moved to the ‘Sea of Cortez’ in Mexico. I must admit, we lived in penthouse luxury, the sand and beach just outside our windows. The cobalt Sea of Cortez greeted us each morning, and it was near perpetual sun-shine every day. The SE Arizona desert had been an alluring habitat for writing, but the Sea of Cortez could really get the juices flowing.

So, I finished the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ books 1-6, plus eight other titles while in Mexico, some non-fiction, mostly fictional forays inspired by true crime events.

Okay, I’m guilty of parsing, or, likely, a better word would be, rambling. My title suggests ‘mistakes made’. And, WOW! Did I make them?

Take a look at my laundry list of amateurish mistakes! To beat it all, I was in Sales and Marketing most of my business life! Look, I know how my next lines might sound, but the impulse is there, so I’m writing them.

My books are good, readable, and should have a wider market than they now have! If I’m wrong and fooling myself, more time will tell. AND, I won’t be ashamed to admit it!

Read Them! If I’m wrong, tell me. If enough of you tell me I’m wrong, I WON’T STOP WRITING! I’ll just spend the next fifteen, twenty years entertaining myself! If the Pre and Post Marketing damage is irreparable, guess I’ll just keep re-reading my own books… There is always the rare chance that my writing is not as good as I think it is! NAW! That can’t be possible, he says HUMBLY!

Take a deep breath and look over my list. BE GENTLE AND KIND WITH YOUR REMARKS! We folks in Twilight need special handling – sort of!

The List:

  • After exhaustive editing and re-writes, I took the six dusty ‘Bailey Crane Mystery’ manuscripts and simultaneously published them on CreateSpace… NO LAUNCH OF ANY KIND! Just started tweeting! CRAZY! I ought to be in a looney bin!
  • I used CreateSpace FREE book ..okay, thanks CS, some are nice but your covers don’t compete with the BIG BOYS AND GIRLS! AND, I’m a SCROOGE, first order!
  • Did I mention? I’m a SCROOGE!
  • NO Beta Readers or pre-reviews! With my “Mama’s Madness” title, without soliciting, I got sixty reviews, most of them 5-Stars. The other books, precious few reviews, mostly 5-STARS.
  • BLOG ABSENCE for years. Now, I’ve written over 350 posts… My mistake: wrote a book and several posts giving my political views. NEVER AGAIN! Also, it’s better to leave religious beliefs at the door, although I’m not ashamed of my faith in God! Seems to me there’s got to be more than ashes in an urn to scatter on a mountaintop, the ocean/sea, or a hole in the cold hard ground.
  • Platforms: This is tedious business, picking and choosing writing platforms, at least for me. I’ve tried some, but unless I’m willing to put out the bucks for P/R and Advertising, I’m guessing I just need to enjoy the process of writing and be done with the marketing and selling sides. Writing is my therapy so it shouldn’t bother me so much if the books are not selling… But, everyone enjoys good reviews and kind support… Perhaps I’ve found that now with #RRBC, #RWISA, #ASMSG, #IAN1.
  • TWILIGHT! As my ‘About Me’ section at http://billyraychitwood.com states: “I’m a young man in an old man’s body… AND, I’m thinking I’ve got more books to write. I’m midway in writing my fifteenth book and damned well plan to finish it – and others. THE QUESTION: is age a factor for people buying books? For books not selling?
  • ‘SOCIAL MEDIA: I’m spending too much time on social media and NOT WRITING. That has to change but I can’t give up my good followers on my blog, twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, google+, et al. I’m on Goodreads and find it difficult to navigate, e.g., I’ve had new Book Covers for my books for well over a year, have written to GR librarians for help in changing the old CreateSpace covers to the newly designed covers, but get no response. The old covers that appear on the Goodreads dashboard are not appealing at all…another big mistake! I’ve tried on GR changing of covers myself, but, not allowed.

INEPTNESS – MY OWN! I Truly cannot believe how incredibly naïve I was in the beginning of my publishing efforts (likely, still am!). To be sure, there are other items I’m leaving out of this list and I’m reasonably sure it could be much longer.

Although my embarrassment shows ‘big time’ here, perhaps someone beginning her/his publishing efforts will heed these remarks and make sure the chances for success are much better if you don’t rush the process as I did.

In the meantime, to show you really ‘like me’ and ‘care about me’, you could start some viral BUYING of my books. I’m not begging! I’m just saying!

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Billy Ray Chitwood – HAPPY NEW YEAR! – January 1, 2018

Please PREVIEW my books of Mystery, Suspense, Romance, et al at:

http://billyraychitwood.com

Please FOLLOW ME on:

http://twitter.com/brchitwood

My BLOG:

http://brchitwood.com

My Amazon AUTHOR PAGE

https://www.amazon.com/Billy-Ray-Chitwood/e/B00502520Q/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Soul

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Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’

Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:

1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.

‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.

You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’ These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.

So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’

Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.

‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.

‘Soul.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – 12/10/17 (From the Archives, 8/12)

Please preview my books of Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers, Romance, Memoirs, et al:

https://billyraychitwood.com

Please follow me on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

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My Free Verse to the Universe

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 My Free Verse to the Univers

By Billy Ray Chitwood

“The Cracked Mirror…” is a Fictional Memoir I wrote a few years ago…ninety per cent true! This book was written while living on The Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

This poem in ‘free verse’ is at the beginning of the book, serving as an ‘entrée’ to my life as I’ve known it.

 Mirror Images

I once looked at men like you,

old men, frail and haunted…

That was when youth declared

that I would live forever.

How hard it was to see then…

how easy it is to see now.

Life was moonlight and promises…

So soon came ecstasy and joy.

When did it get this late?

When did the tree sap harden?

Where is the gold I sought?

Where is the key I held?

Why is the day no longer long?

Why does morning come so late?

What is the mystery to solve?

What day the reckoning?

– Billy Ray Chitwood –

*** 

And, this ‘free verse’ piece is at the end of THE CRACKED MIRROR…just before the ‘Epilogue’ of the book.

Portrait in Time

Young man, do you not see me

as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin

Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you,

with noble thoughts and dreams

a new bright morning might bring.

Time wore me down with its ceaseless

ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me

with its guile and deception,

with its beauty beads of love. 

Time gave me its reins to run wild

with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

 Time now leaves me here along the sea,

 better to have had its moments of joy;

sad to have you see the frail

and broken parts of me…

Young man, can you not see me

as once I might have been?

Billy Ray Chitwood 

Between these two poems is a narrative I truly believe you will enjoy. At least, that is my hope. It’s got some important history, a senseless murder, a suicide, and a young kid growing into a man NOT without tough lessons from the neon glittering world of deception, false promises, love, naive bluster, and a lot of soul searching…still have some of that ‘straw’ behind my ears! BUT, my books are worth your reading – that, of course, is my humble opinion. 

If you have the time or inclination, please leave a comment below, just after the shameless words of ‘BUY MY BOOKS’, ‘LEAVE REVIEWS’, and ‘FOLLOW’ ME.

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 21, 2017

WEBSITE: https://billyraychitwood.com

BLOGSITE: https://brchitwood.com (The Final Curtain1 – Musings: Authors – Books – The World)

Please Follow: https://twitter.com/brchitwood

https://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

https://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

https://googleplus.com/billyraychitwood 

ALSO: Linkedin.com – Pinterest – Goodreads – Reddit – Stumble – YouTube

#RRBC #RWISA #ASMSG #IAN #AHA

Welcome to Twilight

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Welcome to Twilight

Well, here you are!

Settle in…tell me about the roads you travelled to get here.

What dreams did you chase?

How many did you catch and find an ecstatic, enduring rapture in their fulfillment?

How many were somehow forbidden by tenuous moments of doubt and indecision?

How many routes along the road did you take?

How many loves?

How many heartaches?

How many moments of despair?

Well, you’re here in Twilight, here where you can suffer not so much the decisions you’ve made, here in the near-pleasant world of ‘been there, done that’, here where one can attend the parties without concern for the morrow, here where the golf club, shopping, lunch with friends are the only things that matter…

Unless, of course…

You’re a romantic and wanderlust, still carrying sad baggage of mistakes and minimal accomplishments, a quaint legacy void of grand, lasting dimensions.

But, then…

We all are somewhere in that passage to Twilight. God forbid, you might be in politics! Even, the leader of the free world, and, if you have not been too indiscriminate to matters of heart and soul, it is likely Twilight will fit you just fine.

Along those roads to Twilight, many of us were charmed and/or deceptively beguiled by people who have love or evil in their hearts. Both of those groups will have no problems in Twilight. Each in her/his way has not the heart-wrench in recounting their lives, both convinced of purity in their souls. (Only one, of course, could be correct.)

Sadly, though…

Those of us who carried too much Joy, love, and regret in our baggage along the roads travelled, whose feelings are fraught with emotional quakes of sorrow, fragile in the remembering, will have the toughest time in Twilight.

Why? You ask.

Because their souls lend them along the way the brush to paint the sunrise, the sunset, the musical instrument and voice to bring tears to our eyes, the pen to write the pathos and poetry of our lives. To be blessed with that tenderness of being must make Twilight difficult because they have searched and loved most arduously, have kissed the sensual and hungry lips, have strolled the Champs-Élysées most fervidly with easel and pallet, have shown their hearts most beautifully playing the tenor sax. AND, Because the desires never diminish for these people of the night – these people who speak to us from their hearts and souls.

But, so be it…

Twilight can make exceptions and can be a most wonderful place to be.

Welcome to Twilight…

Post by Billy Ray Chitwood – October 10, 2017

Please preview my books, some reviews, and a bit about me at my Website:

https://www.billyraychitwood.com

Please view my Blogsite at:

https://www.brchitwood.com

and/or

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

Please follow me on:

https://twitter.com/brchitwood

Facebook:

https://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

and

https://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

#RRBC #RWISA #ASMSG #IAN1 #AHA

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

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THE CRACKED MIRROR – Reflections of an Appalachian Son

“Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma.”

(From the 5-Star Review by Dr. Timothy Tays – Author and Clinical Psychologist who has his practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.)

    Twitter: @timothytays)

 *

“The Cracked Mirror”

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

SUMMARY

From Appalachia to neon lights and mind swirls of adulthood. A book worthy of any Book Shelf. A Book of literary quality, life events, and historical significance.

Childhood was the ’emotional pits’ – sucking the clean air of Appalachia from the lungs of a little boy as he endured chronic abuse and steady mobility – the sad and emotional soup would be difficult to digest for a lifetime.

From the boyhood uncertainty to neon lights and sharp contrasts in adulthood, the young man searches to find family and love amid a new world of glamour and ‘lotus eaters’. While demons of the past often visit, the man finds modest hope in the many gin mills, love affairs, and an ultimate prize.

***

THE CRACKED MIRROR

A memoir of author Billy Ray Chitwood, AND, 90+% of the narrative is TRUE!

 BUY SITES:

AMZ US: https://goo.gl/7X1LZb

AMZ UK: https://goo.gl/eLv3zz

AMZ CA: https://goo.gl/nYS5zS

AMZ DE: https://goo.gl/5tzXnq

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PERSPECTIVE ON THE NARRATIVE

Living on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the deep cobalt beauty all around me, I decided to write the story of my life. Not really knowing why, I determined that characters on the Chitwood side of my genealogy would have fictitious names…while on my Mom’s side, real names were used. So, the reader can assume correctly that, in the memoir, my name is Prentice Paul Hiller. The idea was to liven up the story line, make it more interesting than a ‘laundry list’ of dates and facts, to give the book form and shape, some important historical data, and merge the facts with some titillating, dramatic moments, again, most of them true.”

***

Amazon & Goodreads ENDORSEMENTS (REVIEWS)

4-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Beach Lover at Heart on August 17, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase 

 Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror: Reflections of an Appalachian Son” is a brave, soulful read, which is imaginatively crafted (the story being told from the confines of an assisted living facility – the “way station” – while the main character, Prentice Paul Hiller, is recovering from hip replacement surgery).

Memoirs (even ones admittedly fictional, as this one is) are often a good way of learning history. This book manages to do just that, painting a vivid picture of life growing up in rural Tennessee in the 30’s and 40’s. The story is told with frankness and insight – revealing one man’s experiences, thoughts and feelings – warts and all – from early childhood through adulthood, and on into the “golden years”.

Along the way, the reader finds himself empathizing with the author’s quest for inner peace and understanding of his personal life struggles. This book should be an inspiration to all of us – to find the motivation and make the time to pen our very own memoirs to leave for future generations.

***

 5-Stars – The Cracked Mirror

By Timothy M. Tays on May 27, 2012

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I approached “The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood with much anticipation because it uniquely presented itself as “A Fictional Memoir.” A challenge that could have easily been a literary disaster is instead a literary gem.

Mr. Chitwood–the author of Bailey Crane novels and works of nonfiction–bares his life from childhood to old age with the skill of a surgeon and the requisite messiness of ER trauma. He is honest and contrite about youthful transgressions, and is both traumatized and healed. The “Mirror” of the title is an accurate reflection of a lifetime that includes victory and beauty, the “Cracked” an honest ownership of human imperfections.

The fictional chapters titled “The Way Station” occur every-other chapter, and serve as introspection to the memoir chapters. These are handled flawlessly via the protagonist PP Hiller and the clinical psychologist character Greta Fogel. Mr. Chitwood does not make the mistake of leaning on psychobabble jargon to play psychologist, but instead captures the rapport of a friend who is also a retired psychologist sharing some insights with a friend, that we, as readers, get to also benefit. The result is a memoir that expertly handles the arch of a lifetime from childhood poverty and abuse to the bittersweet regrets, acceptance, and amends of a man intensely aware that he is in the autumn of his life.

Powerful writing from an author that now has me seeking out his other works.

 *** 

4-Stars – Billy Ray’s Memoir

By D. James on June 11, 2011

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

 I don’t normally care for memoirs, but Billy Ray Chitwood’s “The Cracked Mirror” was more than a memoir. The author expressed his views and showed his heartache in growing up poor while at the same time loving all of his relatives who took him under their wing.

He points out to the reader all of the “cracks” in our poor misguided world, and he knows what he is talking about. This is not a “poor me” book because the author is quite intelligent and points out where we as a people are going in the wrong direction. He made his own mistakes along the way, but haven’t we all. He suffered greatly from those blips in his life and still does. He and his wife and Bengal cat live a good life now at the beautiful Sea of Cortez. His dreams continue to haunt him and undoubtedly always will. He is hanging on and will continue to do so.

***

5-Stars – A treat of a read!

By Maureen on June 4, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

 Described as ‘fiction but 90% true’, the author has created protagonist Prentice Paul Hiller as a man reflecting on his life whilst recovering from a hip operation in a nursing home. We follow him from his birth in Appalachia where there were idyllic times, happy childhood days (his mom was a great cook and of course the food tasted that much better because it was served up with a great big dollop of love!) There were traumatic times too during The Great Depression, when his mom and dad would fight in the true sense of the word, with his mom suffering some beatings.

Prentice leads an eventful life, it’s raw and gritty, but it’s written with simplicity and an honesty that ensures there are no skeletons left in the proverbial cupboard. There were times when his life appeared to be spiraling out of control, but he managed to take back that control and carved out a good and comfortable life for himself. He’s an intelligent man, a good person who appreciates the love of his family, though his demons do come back to haunt him at times. There were some deeply moving moments, told with a clarity and candour that was a pleasure to read. It’s clear that the author’s life mirrors that of his protagonist, and it was a great insight into the life of this Appalachian boy…

***

 5-Stars – A Touching and Brave Book

By Diogenes on October 25, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

 When I reviewed Mr. Chitwood’s novel “Mama’s Madness” last year, I applauded the author’s gritty, literary style and noted he was a writer outside of the ‘usual’ Indie mould – a chance-taker, and one who speaks his mind without pandering unduly to his readership.

“The Cracked Mirror” reinforces my view of Billy Ray Chitwood as a man of words. The book is a ‘fictional’ memoir, although most of the material is supplied from Chitwood’s own life.

Prentice Paul Hiller, the book’s first-person protagonist, is in the twilight of his years. He is recovering from hip replacement surgery in an old people’s facility. This provides him with the opportunity to reflect on his life; its highs and its disappointments. Hiller uses his enforced leisure time to document a restless, tumbleweed existence from a childhood of poverty in 1930s Tennessee to the present day. He is candid about what he perceives as his failures. In spite of his rationalisations, he remains haunted by his actions and inactions, missed opportunities and unsuccessful relationships. Chitwood presents us with a mind on a quest for meaning and understanding. Above all he gives us a portrait of a man trying to come to terms with guilt; an individual working towards self-forgiveness and peace of mind. This is a touching book and a brave one.

Some of the musings on the state of present-day America were lost on this British reader, but they may well have a resonance for those residing on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is a worthwhile and thought-provoking read. Five stars.

***

 5 out of 5 starsReflections of an Appalachian Son

By Rosalind R on August 7, 2011

Format: Kindle Edition

 I found this book to be a thoughtful, well told story of an interesting life. The author pulled no punches in baring his soul with refreshing candor and insight as well as good natured humor. I’m looking forward to reading his most recent book.

***

 Goodreads Review  – 5-Stars

Christoph Fischer

“The Cracked Mirror” by Billy Ray Chitwood is a thoughtful and reflective fictional memoir. The author’s life is told from one care home inmate to the other, giving us a dual narrative of life story from 1933 onwards and the present day relationship between the friends who are talking.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author

 Billy Ray Chitwood

 Being an Appalachian lad I ate quite a lot of emotional soup and have been trying for all the years to digest it. I’ve taken the easy and the difficult routes to get at this point in life, a point not so different from that confused kid who joined the US Navy to escape the fragmented uncertainty of youth. All the mobility of childhood, all the harshness that comes with a broken and misplaced family, all the ensuing mistakes and successes, all have guided me to this place in time and space.

NOW – The Hard Truth – About Me

About Me:

I’m a young man in an old man’s body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I’m a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the ‘blame game’, yell ‘foul’, and ‘let’s start over’. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandbox of pleasure – lotus eaters of the best (or, worse!) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way… A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.

I’ve written fourteen books, over three hundred blog posts in search of those pieces left somewhere in many parts of the globe. You can preview my books at https://billyraychitwood.com. If you wish to read some of my 350 blog posts, go to my old blog site at:

https://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

My new domain Blog is: https://brchitwood.com

 

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 2, 2017

 AUTHOR WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com

Please Follow my ‘Musings’ on my Blog

AUTHOR BLOGSITE:

 https://brchitwood.com – The Final Curtain1 – MUSINGS: Authors – Books – The World

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#RRBC – #ASMSG – #IAN1 – #AHA -#Books – #Authors – #IARTG – #AmWriting #Mystery #Romance – #Suspense – #Memoir – #Thrillers – Many of my books are Inspired by True Events!

Requiem to a Boarding House Cook

Maude Inez Balsinger
– My Mom –

Requiem To A Boarding House Cook

 

Don’t guess too many boarding houses even exist anymore, but let me tell you: the best food I’ve ever eaten was in a boarding house setting.

The cook? My dear, beloved, departed mother. In one of my books, I mention that she is up there with angel ‘Clarence’ ringing a bell when some earthly creature does something good — you will all remember ‘Clarence:’ he visits us each year at Christmas time in a re-run of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

It might seem strange to sing the praises of a boarding house cook in a post, but the mind can carry you to some memory stations that leave a faint, sometime tearful, wisp of nostalgia.

The sleeping room in Mrs. Lester’s Boarding House my Mom and I shared was just across from the big kitchen, and, as a small eight-year old kid, I sat in one of the two rocking chairs in that room listening on the radio to a broadcast of a baseball game or football game, and the smells from that kitchen at dinner time would get me really hungry.

Just before Mom served the boarders at the long large dining table in front of the house, she would bring a heaping plate of food to me in that bedroom across the hall. Didn’t matter what it was, meatloaf, pot roast, pork chops, corn bread, biscuits, mashed potatoes with gravy or home fries, it was always the most enjoyable food I would ever remember eating. And Mom would always smile, give me a kiss on the cheek, and say something like: “You’re the best little boy in the world…”

My Mom was a boarding house cook during some of the most troubled times in our economic history…during the great depression era in Appalachia. East Tennessee would be more precise. Knoxville, Tennessee would be most precise. Mom and Dad were divorced, and my sister was living fifty miles away with my maternal grandparents because of the bad times. Mom worked long hours seven days a week and she always made the time for me, made the time to make me feel like all was really right with the world. Even in my little pea-brain I knew all was not right in our world, that there were things happening in our lives that were beyond my scope of understanding. But Mom tried and she did make me feel loved and very much wanted in her life.

So, when that big plate of food was all consumed and wiped clean with the last bit of biscuit or cornbread, the ballgame ended, I would become wistful about my Mom’s boarding house existence, feeling that she really did not have much of a life. I would sit in that room, stuffed with good southern cooking, Mom doing dinner clean-up duties, and I would try to write a poem…try to write a poem that would convey the love I felt for my Mom, try to say in words on paper what my tiny voice could not say.

My Mom always encouraged me to follow my heart, to sing my songs, to write my verses, and it was there in those days during World War Two when I first took pencil to paper. Yes, the words were the mutterings of a young unsettled mind, but they meant something to me then.

Today, perhaps my mind is still unsettled, still searching for some ultimate truths, and that is okay. The words still mean something to me. Whatever my writing comes to be, somewhere in those sentences and paragraphs, in those characters and plots, there will be parts of me, and, actually, they are pretty easy to find. I am not a very large mystery in the scheme of things.

My Mom gave me the great gift of writing, the wonderful gift of expressing myself with words. It doesn’t matter so much that the words will or will not ring so many bells down here.

It does matter that Mom and ‘Clarence’ might occasionally ring their bells for me.

Billy Ray Chitwood – 9/25/17 and 8/06/12

 

Please preview my books and some Amazon reviews at: https://billyraychitwood.com – My Website.

If you like what you read, or, even if you do not, perhaps you can leave an Amazon Review… Would be greatly appreciated.

Please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brchitwood

My blog: https://brchitwood.com

My two Facebook addresses are:

https://facebook.com/billyray.chitwood

AND:

https://facebook.com/billyrayscorner

You lcan find me on Google Plus at:

https://plus.google.com/+BillyRayChitwood

Featured post

The Final Curtain1

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FOREWARD (of sorts): this was my very first blog post on July 10, 2012. At the time I had two e-mail accounts and the blog was connected to one that is now no longer in use. Being inept in the digital world (still am!) I lost many followers because of my inability to correct the issue. SO, I’m hoping for new followers, plain and simple… I won’t be posting views on dangerous topics like Politics and Religion, but I might give a hint now and then. 

The Final Curtain1

Posted on July 10, 2012 by billyraychitwood1

“The Final Curtain1″ 

 
        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
 
        It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up benign thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
 
        I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
 
        There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be. So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage. I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed and I’m wanting to know about you, how you differ so much from me, how we are so much alike, how we can somehow better know each other.
 
        One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder.
 
        Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with the different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
 
        Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
 
        If this kind of soulful musing is not your thing, pass me by…’thirty-one flavors’ you know. If you do like to muse and don’t mind sharing, jump on in. I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood – REBLOG – Septenber 6, 2017
https://twitter.com/brchitwood – Please follow me on Twitter.

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