Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who is my Best Friend...You Are!

By Renea Winchester
The sky was clear and promised perfection. Pumpkins, with their deep orange glow, welcomed me as I pulled into Billy's farm. I'd convinced myself that my visit was "just another day at Billy's." Instead of what it really was, the launch of In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes.

Moments before I arrived, Tommye Cashin had called. She couldn't attend the event, but wanted to let me know she "was thinking of me." As we said goodbye I wiped away tears. I've met Tommye twice. She doesn't know intimate details about my life, yet her gesture of friendship is exactly what In The Garden With Billy is about. Tommye didn't have to call me, she chose to call. She chose to reach out to me when I needed a friend.

That is the story inside the cover of In The Garden With Billy.

It takes a village of friends to support a writer. While the act of writing is solitary, the birthing and subsequent launch leaves the author calling in favors and relying on every friend she's ever had. Mike Moeller, of The Camera's Eye Photography, was a lifeline I used during the launch. Time is precious for this busy man whose services are much sought-after. When he agreed to spend the entire day at the farm, I realized how blessed I am to call him friend. He packed up the family, then made the six hour trip to Atlanta to serve as the official photographer.

As an aside, please visit the FB link for a sampling of the photos taken at the event.
My mother had mentioned she would try to attend the launch. She's having chemotherapy again, and without giving away the contents of the book, I was hopeful she'd come. I reasoned if I called and the machine picked up that meant she was well enroute to Billy's.
She answered.

We spoke for a moment; afterward, I dried my eyes, reapplied my makeup, and stepped into the kitchen where Billy's family gathered with mine. Billy said a prayer. He prayed for those who were traveling and for those too sick to make the trip. He also prayed that people would understand the message of the book.

In The Garden With Billy isn't a "How-To Garden" book, it's a celebration of hope and friendship that challenges you to reach out to those who are lonely.
The event began and something magical happened. A line formed. My husband, who'd been lounging at the book table, quickly fell behind as people stood in line to buy my book. Billy and I were amazed. Life-long friends stood in line with just-made-friends and waited for me to sign their book! Then came a moment I shall never forget. I looked up and saw my Dad walking across the yard. I couldn't contain my tears. He came! He had driven over four hours from North Carolina to attend the event. I stood weeping without embarrassment and collapsed into his arms. Billy stood, also weeping, as I introduced two men who in a blink became best friends.

"This is my Daddy," I explained to those waiting. "He traveled four hours to be here with me." I dabbed my eyes. "Mom's sick and couldn't make it." My voice wavered. "You'll understand why I'm so emotional after you read the book." 
Renea Winchester, Billy Albertson and My Dad

As I watched people wipe away tears, I realized how similar we are.

Who is my best friend? The readers who shared that intimate moment with me. Readers who believe in this book and have shared the message with others. You, who are reading this right now, are my new best friends. I am humbled beyond words that you have invited me into your life and that you would buy In The Garden With Billy. I am blessed to call you friend.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning writer. Terry Kay author of The Book of Marie and The Valley of Light, calls In The Garden With Billy "a warm, delightful and thoughtful story chronicling her friendship with the extraordinary Billy Albertson—the kind of friendship celebrating the best that life, in all its trickery, can offer. Simply put, it is a book of gladness in a world of fret, a writer's gift to people who need the tenderness."

In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Independent Books Stores, and through Little Creek Books. Renea is also available for book club meetings and group events. Visit her at

ISBN 978-0-9843192-5-1
$ 14.95


The Pulpwood Queen said...

Great blog Renea and I certainly enjoyed all you posts. Not a day goes by when I pinch myself to think, I now run this blog of the most amazing writers with the most talented storytellers. Of course with Karin helping me big time all along the way. Can't wait to read fully this book!

K. Harrington said...

Lovely post, Renea!

Karin Gillespie said...

Very moving, Renea.

Mike said...

It was an honor and a pleasure to spend that day with you and Billy, and the rest of the gang, on the farm. Thanks for introducing us to Billy, and for the wonderful book that has come from your friendship with him. In this crazy hectic world, it leaves me with warm fuzzies to know there are still folks like Billy out there.

Peggy Webb said...

What an uplifting post, Renea! You sound like somebody I'd like to visit with on my front porch.

Anna Michaels said...

Great post, Renea. No place is more appropriate for life's lessons than the garden.

renea winchester said...

Thanks for the posts, and the friendships. I hope you all enjoy your time In The Garden With Billy

wymetto said...

I really enjoyed your blog Remea. Again - a good blog is hard to find..