Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

I recently wrote a short story about a young man, his high school sweetheart, and their less-than-desirable marriages (they tied the knot twice with each other before it all fell apart for good). The story, despite its description, is actually humorous and ends well. However, in some dark corner of my mind, I wondered: what if it hadn’t ended well? What if the man couldn’t handle the fact his one true love was unfaithful? That’s when this poem came to me.

Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

Retreating inward from the pain,

I smell the sweetness of her hair

As we move along the path. I strain

Uphill, dragging muddied weight to where

Headstones squat like sacred peaks between

Mowed grass where walked mourning crones.

Stoic statues weathered, weeping, still serene,

Guarding lengthy rows of buried bones.

 

We halt. Crows pass, loud caws abating.

A portal beyond the pale awaits, silent.

The gaping hole lies open, waiting, waiting

For my dearest here quiet, broken, spent.

Farewell, sweet beauty, unfaithful miss.

I weep. Red lipstick on blue, icy lips

Beckons. Entranced, I take one final kiss

Before tossing splendor into the dark abyss.

Goodbye my love, goodbye.

Hiking An Arkansas Ghost Town

Jim Warnock and his dog, Hiker, trek the mountain trails of Arkansas exploring hills, hollows, and ghost towns such as Rush, Arkansas. Read about all his adventures and enjoy beautiful photos at ozarkmountainhiker.com. While you’re there be sure to read about how Jim and Hiker came to be trail buddies. Inspiring story.

Small communities like Rush are scattered throughout the Ozarks, Ouachita Mountains, and all across the state. Many of the sites Jim and Hiker explore are reminiscent of the locales featured in my short story collection. My thanks to Jim for sharing his post!

HIKING RUSH, AN ARKANSAS GHOST TOWN

Taylor-Medley Store on the left. Home of Lee Medley on the right.

I was pleased to find the old town of Rush to be a great day hike location! I was afraid the trail would be too short and tame, but it’s just right.

I could have spent the entire day exploring and ended up pushing the limits of remaining daylight. A van full of college kids offered me a ride while I was walking along the creek after my hike. It was nice of them to offer, but I said “no thanks” since the Jeep wasn’t far away. College kids who hike and camp tend to be pretty good folks.

Rush was a mining community that began in the 1880s and thrived in the 1920s when zinc was in high demand during World War I. Rush declined along with the demand for zinc and was finally abandoned in the late 1960s. According to Neil Compton, “by 1969 Rush was bereft of inhabitants except for Gus Setzer and Fred Dirst, an old miner who conducted tours into the mines for wandering visitors…”

Rush eventually came under the ownership of an industrialist who planned to make a tourist trap of the place, but he sold it to the National Park Service. I hate to think of what this place might have been if a developer had gotten hold of it.

Today, interpretive signs are placed along a short trail that loops through the center of Rush. A longer trail follows the mining level up above downtown. If you have several hours to spend, you can hike the 1.7 mile long mine route to the National Park boundary as an out-and-back.

Trailhead

A prominent structure is the blacksmith shop, an essential business for a mining community. This is the “new” shop built in the 1920s during the height of the commercial activity in Rush. Ore was transported down Ore Wagon Road to the White River and loaded onto barges. When trucks became dependable enough to transport zinc and replaced wagons, the blacksmith shut down his business and went back to farming.

Blacksmith shop

Blacksmith shop

ore smelter

This ore smelter is the oldest structure in Rush, built in 1886 by the claim-holders of the Morning Star Mine. They hoped the smelter would reveal silver in the ore. No silver was to be found.

Ore wagon

This cart was next to the trail. I was impressed with its heavy construction and how it had stood up to the elements.

Ore wagon

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This large machine was next to the trail at the Clabber Creek end on Ore Wagon Road. I’m not sure what it was used for, but I was impressed with the large wheels and chain sprockets.

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Mine entrance

You’ll pass many mine entrances as you hike the trail. The grills keep visitors out of dangerous mines, but allow bats to come and go freely.

Spring flowing into the creek.

Finding “Boiling Springs” was a treat. The water was clear and cold. A grist mill was once located close by in Rush Creek.

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What follows are several historic structures along the road in Rush. Many of these houses were built around 1890. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the historic town of Rush. If you’ve been there before, maybe my pictures will bring back good memories. If you’ve not visited, I hope I’ve inspired you to grab your hiking shoes and explore it for yourself soon. It’s a special place!

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I was running low on light at the end of the day, but had to stop and photograph these daffodils that caught my eye. The inhabitants who planted these bulbs many years ago would be surprised to learn that their landscaping would be appreciated by a weary hiker on an early spring evening in 2015.

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Thanks to Jim and Hiker for sharing their adventures with us.  And speaking of Hiker, here’s one of my favorites photos of the dog who loves the trail!

Hiker

 

 

 

“Who’s He Talking To?”

I come from a long line of storytellers.

Long before the printing press, and long before literacy became commonplace,  generations used oral tales to preserve cultural folklore and pass along family stories. Now, we celebrate World Storytelling Day on the Spring Equinox  here in the northern hemisphere. In addition to exchanging stories in our own communities, the Internet helps us share stories across cultures. This year I’m sharing a true tale told by my father when I was young.

 “Who’s He Talking To?”

Church is a big deal for most folks in my hometown as it is in practically every part of Arkansas. True to form, there are many stories of my line of Cotners and their interaction with ministers, preachers of the gospel, and the corporate social body known as church.

My grandfather and grandmother were Methodists and attended the United Methodist church in Booneville.

The first ever story about church that sticks in my mind was told to me by my dad relating a story concerning the first time, as a very young boy, he attended Methodist services with his mother.

Seated there with the rest of his family on the pew among the faithful that Sunday for dutiful worship, dad—ever the fact-based skeptic—listened intently for some time to the sermon. The minister  was playing his part, delivering the message with vigor, waving hands and arms and often looking up to the ceiling imploring the Almighty for one thing or the other as if God were some cheap vending machine that—if  enough selfish prayers were plopped into it—would dispense a little treat out and down to the aluminum tray at the bottom for its users to enjoy.

Finally, curiosity got the best of my dad and, in a lull in the preaching he turned to my grandmother and loudly asked, “Who in the world is he talking to?”

With the kindness, compassion, understanding, and motherly love only my grandmother could have shown, she whirled around on the pew and slapped my dad hard on the head and said, “Shut up!”

As the story goes, about half the congregation laughed and the other half seemed angry at my dad’s questioning. No one ever redressed my grandmother and no one ever gave my dad an intelligent, rational, thoughtful, answer to his question.

So, needless to say the blow and the incident left quite the impression on my dad; and I’m not just talking about the big red welt that came up on the side of his head.

This story, along with the fictional tale inspired by my dad’s experience, is included in my short story collection Storytellin: True and Fictional Short Stories of Arkansas.

Book Review: Washed in the Water-Tales from the South

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Nancy Hartney’s book Washed In The Water-Tales From The South provides poignant, vivid snapshots in time and place of people and events in the South. Narrative is wonderfully crisp and memorable. The characters, their stories—moments of joy, suffering and perseverance—leave you wanting more. Great read.

About Nancy from her bio: Nancy Hartney writes about the Deep South of today wrapped in yesterday’s cloths. Her roots dig into the piney woods that she rode through on horseback into the sweat-soaked, hard scrabble farms, and into humid passionate nights. Her slice-of-life tales chronicle a time past that is poignant, vivid and sometimes brutal. The reader stares into the eyes of people struggling with living, grasping for understanding, doing the best they know how. Nancy makes her home in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Learn more about Nancy from her website at nancyhartney.com

May 2015 Be A Productive Year!

Back home  after an enjoyable holiday trip and already busy with two more short stories for my paranormal anthology, work on the second book in my Celtic mystery series, and additional rework and editing of last year’s WIP murder mystery first draft manuscript set in fictional 1950s Logan County, Arkansas.

In addition to  writing, I’m currently reading and enjoying three books: one a Christmas present, Bergoglio’s List, about the life and times of Pope Francis by Nello Scavo. The second is on loan titled Coronado’s Children by J. Frank Dobie. The third is a fascinating story by Irish author Ali Isaac titled Conor Kelly And The Four Treasures Of Eirean.

Coffee is ready. Back to writing!

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

― Stephen King

‘Tis The Season To Shop Local

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I will be signing copies of my books Mystery Of The Death Hearth and Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas Saturday, November 29, 2014 between the hours of 1:30 pm – 4 pm as part of Nightbird Books and the Local Author Day and Small Business Saturday.

“This is one of our best attended events each year so plan to make us part of your holiday shopping these days.” Nightbird Books, 205 W Dickson St, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Looks like it will be beautiful weather and a great day to shop local.

Hope to see you there!

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Beaver Lake, Arkansas

Finished another story for inclusion in a second book of short stories set in my home state of Arkansas.

This latest adventure takes place in a fictional recreation area on Beaver Lake.

The real lake is a man-made reservoir in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas and formed by a dam across the White River constructed by the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers between 1960 to 1966.

The main plot of my latest story deals with a landowner unwilling to leave peacefully when his land is seized under right of eminent domain to build Beaver Lake Dam.

Here are some pictures of just a portion of the beautiful lake and its surrounding area.

If you would like more information you may contact Beaver Lake Project Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2260 N. 2nd Street, Rogers, AR 72756

 http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/parks/beaver/or

Beaver Lake Project Office: 479-636-1210.

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Eureka Springs Historical Museum

I am pleased to announce the gift shop in the  Eureka Springs Historical Museum in beautiful downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas carries my book “Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas”.

Many thanks to Steven Sinclair, Director.

“The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is located in the heart of the Historic District at 95 S. Main in the 1889 Calif Building. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the documents, photographs, and artifacts pertaining to the history of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and the surrounding area.”

For more information visit their website at http://www.eurekaspringshistoricalmuseum.org/museum.html

 

 

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 Signing my books for sale in the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. Photos by Steven Sinclair, Museum Director.

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Old Barns & Story Ideas

I have no idea what’s going on in my mind when I see old barns (and pre-1900s abandoned houses) but they activate my creative imagination.

My grandfather had an old red barn built during the American Depression of the 1920s and it served as an inspiration for two stories, Artie’s Old Barn and JackOBones, both included in my multi-genre book Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas .

 

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June 6th, 1944 D-Day

Artie "Jack" Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

Artie “Jack” Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

It seems appropriate to use this date as the first post to my new blog.

On this date in 1944, my father, Artie C. “Jack” Cotner was a radio-gunner on the famous “Dee-Feater”, a B-26 Marauder and part of the Allied Invasion Force at Normandy.

I have written of his experience on that day in a chapter of my book Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas explaining how, according to his Group’s Historical Record, my father was the only known enlisted man in the U.S. Army Air Corps to make two bombing runs over France that day.

Here’s a picture of his plane with D-Day Invasion Stripes on the wings.

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