The Literature Section

A Storybook World...
By Kyle Dickerson

Numerous factors influence our lives, impacting how we grow, who we become, our likes and interests, and where our journey takes us. We are shaped by our parents, being taught right from wrong. Our friends push us toward trends, and sometimes away. The television molds our perception of the world, revealing shocking truths and planting the seeds for false understandings. And still one of the greatest influences upon every generation has been, and still is, the written word.

From the propaganda of the 1960’s to the marvelous worlds created by Lewis Carroll, and even the frightening horrors of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, over the years we have seen a change in the world’s approach to literature. No matter what the medium or focus, the writing world has always been dedicated to bringing the reader to places and times they might never reach otherwise. And though that has been accomplished time and time again, we have rarely been captured in such a mysterious, wonderful, spellbinding way as we have by the novel.

I will admit, up front, that I hated reading as a child. Hated...with a passion. What I did not realize at the time was what an amazing opportunity I was missing out on. If you look at readership demographics across any age range you will see that females far outweigh males. That is how it has always been, and projections reflect the same for future generations. And I did my part, red-faced and fist clinched, to perpetuate the stereotype. Understand that I did my reading in school - most of it - and even found some to be enjoyable, despite the whip cracking over my head. But it was not until after I completed college, started a new career, and noticed the world changing around me, that I came to appreciate the depth and wonder of stories weaved by true wordsmiths.

I remember reading Amazonia by James Rollins in the latter part of my college career and being blown away by the massive world he planted in my head. He took me to a place I had never seen, gave me experiences and desires I had never known, then used them to bring me along with him and so many others on a journey shared by all, yet so very personal. I wondered at the time how an author could carve such a marvelous tale from thin air. I was mystified. And that is its wonder. A good book can take you across the universe, to another world you have never fathomed. It can transport you to a time before your own life, when times were hard or life was simpler. The novel allows you to live out your dreams. It allows you to release your deepest fears and darkest desires. The connection is emotional and intimate, and each reader becomes a part of that world...and that world a part of them.

I struggle with the video game takeover of the recent years. There has been a major upswing in gaming and a major fall in the literary industry. There are high school seniors who can no longer tell you who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland...it was in the second paragraph. We have kids who would rather stare at the screen of a DS than feel the texture of a book’s pages against their skin. I feel we as adults are partly to blame for this phenomenon. We have made reading a chore, a task only to be completed when the adult minions insist. We have taken the wonder out of watching a new world unfold by forcing the child behind the book. But as long as the sun still rises, there is time. Time to reveal to our children the fantastic worlds waiting to be seen. Time to encourage them to embrace literature and marvel at the possibilities it lays before them. Time to lead by example.

I remember my mother reading books to us in the car on summer vacations. Two stick out above the others - The Firm by John Grisham and Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. There is no better way to encourage your children than to take part in the activity with them. I have rarely come across a child who does not like going on special trips. How about making that next one a trip to the library? The Williamson and Davidson County libraries have wonderful programs for readers of all ages, and they love nothing more than being a part of bringing the gift of reading into a child’s life. You never know where that single trip may lead...what journey it may begin. The written word is a strange and beautiful gift, capable of more than most of us will ever be aware.

Go To Kyle's Page

Joe Camp - Author of the National Best Seller "The Soul Of A Horse" has written a must read book "Who Needs Hollywood". The incredible story of a small time filmmaker who writes the screenplay, raises the production budget, directs, and distributes the #3 movie of the year. This amazing author now lives in Bell Buckle, Tennessee and has the determination and tenacity to not let go of a dream worth pursuing until it reaches its intended destination!
(See the video interview - click on the photo above)

Local Director Wins at L.A. Film Festival

Sitting in the theater, watching the opening credits, as the giant tub of popcorn, drowned in artificial-imitation-butter-flavoring, slowly leaks grease onto the seat next to us, very few of us give thought to the process that makes that wonder in film available. For Darrin Dickerson, a local Spring Hill director, that thought is never far from his mind.

Dickerson grew up in Central Louisiana, working as a graphic designer for several different agencies, including one he began himself. It was during that time that he was given the opportunity to get his feet wet in the world of film. Starting at the bottom, Dickerson worked on commercial shoots for the ad agency for which he was then employed, and fell in love with it immediately. Working as a grip/electrician, he learned the ropes of the production world quickly, and soon found himself working on the sets of several major motion pictures. But Dickerson had greater plans. He knew someday he wanted to be behind the camera, and so he set his mind to it and made that dream a reality.

1999 brought Dickerson to Nashville and opened doors in many areas, including commercials, music videos, short films, and features. It wasn’t long before he was making a name for himself in the somewhat intimate Middle Tennessee film industry. Dickerson’s production company, Ghostwater Films, has been the power behind several music videos for names such as John Michael Montgomery, Randy Travis, and Tresa Jordan.

In the fall of 2007, Dickerson began writing the script for his next film, D4, which was inspired by his oldest son’s difficult battle with epilepsy. Shot mainly in the mountains of east Tennessee, the film chronicles the events surrounding a team of mercenaries, hired to infiltrate an abandoned military facility in search of a missing child. However, their simple search and rescue becomes an epic battle for survival. D4 brings together a host of talented actors and crew, and speaks to the fact that persistence, when combined with talent, will always bring forth good fruit. While currently under contract with a foreign distributor, Dickerson has held onto the domestic rights and has begun entering the film into festivals around the nation.

Most recently, D4 took to Los Angeles for the Paranoia Film Festival, hosted by the Los Angeles Film School. With over 600 entries into the festival, the depth of artistic talent was grand, and the competition was stiff. However, against such great odds, Dickerson’s film was highly regarded, winning Best Feature Length Film, one of the festival’s highest honors. This win is not Dickerson’s first. His short-films, commercials, music videos, and print campaigns have won numerous awards and honors over the years. Yet this win holds much more for Dickerson. Not only is it a manifestation through a creative medium of both the love he has for his family and his passion for film, but also marks a new milestone in his career. Dickerson has always prided himself in creating his dreams, even when the odds were against him. This award proves that his talent and will to never give up have paid off. Great things stand in the future for both Dickerson and Ghostwater Films. To keep up with the latest happenings, check out his website www.ghostwater.com. And to pre-order copies of D4, which will be distributed domestically beginning July 7, 2010, check out www.7-7-10.com.

"Firecracker Red"
New Book written by Pulitzer Nominee Stellasue Lee
Author of "Crossing The Double Yellow Line",
and published by Cardinal House Publishing

This moving collection details the journey from a place that is broken beyond repair to a world where there is hope, light, and love. These poems are both moving and compassionate. They create a bridge between life and death we all will cross. Firecracker Red is a powerful collection of poems set squarely in the earth teaching us how to persevere.
—Vivian Shipley, Editor of the Connecticut Review

In Firecracker Red, Stellasue Lee gives us powerful, exuberant poems, full of grief and love that draws us into her world. There is nothing hidden here; nothing false or pretentious. What we have in this book is intensely lyrical poems that teach us what it means to be human and how to survive. I love this book and I know you will, too.
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Winner, American book Award, 2008 for All That Lies Between Us

In this her fifth book, Stellasue Lee meditates on landscapes and new roads taken, love, family, loss and dislocation in a beloved natural world of stars, oaks, fog, mud-spattered earth evoked in sensual, lyrical and alternately down-home poems. Her voice is vital and resonates with insights of a life richly observed. Praises!
—Colette Inez, Professor of Creative Writing, Columbia University, Author of nine books

There is a gentle, sensual quality to the poetry of Stellasue Lee, glazed over dark, hard experiences. I first read her some fifteen years ago while sitting in my car, and the connection I felt was so intimate that when my woman returned from shopping; I tucked the book out of sight, as if I’d been unfaithful. That same power runs through the poems in Firecracker Red. —John Bennett, Novelist

Excerpt from Firecracker Red:

My Alexandria
The house is coming down.
The house is coming down,
and the architect says
once the bulldozer starts,
it will come crashing down with
shocking speed, a pile of rubble
within an hour, guaranteed.
Each night I dream I’m homeless.
Every night I’m more disoriented, utterly
insecure. The rain, a whitewash
that blocks all view of my garden.
I’ve already been told to make friends
with the idea that the plants too,
will turn to rubble during construction.
Tonight I will think of Tess
crawling into bed with Ray,
kiss lips to know an ending,
she had said. I will lay my head on my
own pillow, perhaps weep a little
while the windows are all open,
and the overhead fan whirls.
Tonight I will draw this house around me,
this not-so-safe haven, and meditate on
the sorrows of Alexandria: how the Lighthouse
stood even after many earthquakes until a fort
was built using its fallen stone.

Now available at www.stellasuelee.com

Pulitzer Prize Nominee Stellasue Lee gives a poetry reading and analysis.

Susie Sims Irvin - Franklin, TN published author of prose, poetry, painting, and children's stories. Listen to the audio interview with Miss Susie and hear her read one of her beautiful poems from her book "Clouds for the Table". On the subject of Franklin, she writes: "A small town with big ideas, in a landscape to inspire and delight, Franklin has it all. A wise, devoted leadership who listen, steer us through difficult choices to meld preservation and progress, the stimulation of 'new', to character of 'Old Franklin'. Franklin's pride is justified." Miss Susie's books can be found at Landmark Booksellers 114 East Main Street, Franklin, TN and also 143 5th Avenue S. Franklin,TN.
Dr. Stellasue Lee's third volume of work, "Crossing The Double Yellow Line", a full length manuscript, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  The title came from a line in a poem that wasn’t used in the book, but was a poem included in her first body of work, "After I Fall". Reviewers have written “…this line was very telling about her background.  ‘…sometimes,usually when the moon is high and darkness holds no promise, I think about accidents. Not the kind my father had where, drunk as a hoot owl, he crossed over some double yellow line….’”

Her work is intensely personal. “Reading a poem by Stellasue Lee is like a spiritual meditation on what it means to be human in this world of joy and disappointment.” (M.L. Liebler, Writer’s Voice Project of Detroit.) Diane Wakoski said of Lee’s work “She has written powerful poems of healing and forgiveness. She is a poet of deep insight and compassion.” “The compressed poems in Crossing The Double Yellow Line take us to a sense of place, to loved ones by way of sharp turns and hair-pin curves. I believe and trust the voices captured in these poems that drive us toward the vortex of what matters.” (Yusef Komunyakaa).

Raised in California by alcoholic parents, much of her poetry expresses great loss but is painfully beautiful in its verse surrounding issues of death, loneliness, and the consuming feeling of abandonment. She is quite frank, yet, her poetry is not judgmental. She simply tells the story without anger or recrimination. Her later work is about love; living a life in love and loving.
Publication credits include numerous literary journals, most recently an anthology "After Shocks", which brings together 115 poets from 15 nations. It is a brilliant collection of messages dealing with recovery delivered through the language of poetry: Grief, War, Exile, Abuse, Divorce, Addiction, Injury, Illness, Bigotry, Loss of Innocence. Margie, Strong Medicine In American Journals Of Poetry. It has been written that the work that appears in this journal has an astonishing variety of styles and theme. Within the past year, Lee’s work can be found published in the Paterson Literary Review, Connecticut Review, and Quercus Review. Her work has also been translated into German.

  Poems by Stellasue Lee Ph.D.


(True Story)
By Debby Leddy
Williamson County Animal Shelter

In December, sadly many people decide to bring in strays animals that have appeared on their door step. Many people keep the stray a week or so thinking they will find their way back home. We will receive calls to pick up those animals who have continued to stay at people’s houses. Several owners surrender animals they have previously considered relinquishing to the shelter. Maybe they have company coming, or are traveling for the holidays. It makes our workers sad to see all these animals come to the shelter; just in time for the holidays.

A snowy day in December 1998, one of our Animal Control Officers received a call to pick up a big white Great Pyrenees dog that had been “hanging around” a farmer’s house for a couple of weeks. Great Pyrenees are working dogs who have instinctual qualities to protect sheep, goats and other livestock from predators. Their loyalty and sense of protection for their “flock” is amazing. The farmer claimed the dog came as a stray, was quite a nice fellow, but had no interest in being a working dog. He had been calling the dog “Jake” and hoped we could find him a good home.

Our Officer arrived at the farmer’s property deep in the “Williamson County hills”. Standing beside him was a very large, friendly, snow white, furry Great Pyrenees dog. Just as John started to slip the leash around “Jake’s” neck he took off running up a hillside as if he was on an important mission, into a small family cemetery. John trudged up the hill where the tidy little family cemetery was situated. Jake, of course was faster. John suddenly noticed there was a graveside service in progress. Jake plowed through the cemetery gate with the vigor of a young pup. John noticed that Jake ran over to a lady seated by the casket that lay beside her and proudly rested his snout on her foot. Our Officer was embarrassed with the situation and began calling softly, “Jake, come here boy, let’s go for a ride!”

The bereaved woman looking confused said, “What did you call the dog? “John replied, “his name is Jake, and I am here to take him to the animal shelter. He has been lost for a couple of weeks. Please forgive this intrusion”. With tears rolling down her face she said; “We are here today to bury our 22 year old son. His name was Jake.”

John’s face was as white as the dog’s fur and he was speechless. The lady replied, “I think this "boy" is going to go home with us today…. that is, if it‘s ok with you”. John just nodded his head and tried to regain his footing and composure to return to his truck. Jake looked back at him as if to say, “See, I knew where I was going!”

That cold winter day the big white dog and his quest to find a home led him to a family who needed him as much as he needed them. This Christmas miracle will always remain in our hearts here at the shelter.

Kathy Rhodes is a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Writers Alliance, and is President of the Williamson County [Tennessee] Council for the Written Word, a nonprofit organization that encourages, educates, and empowers writers. She is the author of Pink Butterbeans: Stories from the heart of a Southern Woman, a collection of 50 personal essays.

Also she is Publisher and Editor of the online literary magazine, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, ISSN 1554-8449, in operation since January, 2005. In addition she is also Editor of the book Muscadine Lines: A Southern Anthology, a collection of 28 stories and 28 poems by 28 writers, all first-year veterans of the journal by the same name.

Her essay “An Open Letter” appeared in The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 3, edited by Lee Gutkind, published by W. W. Norton in July 2009. She is a contributing editor to a literary anthology of members of the Council for the Written Word, to be published by Cool Springs Press in September, 2009.

Her stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and literary anthologies, including the local Our Voices: Williamson County Literary Review, 1995, 1997, and 1998. Her essay, “The Wedding Hankie,” was included in Simon & Schuster’s nationally distributed Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul II. She has also written for regional publications, such as The Oxford So and So and The Writer’s Loft’s The Trunk. She currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee.
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every    syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
 - Victor Hugo
New Book From Kyle Dickerson

Ten Frames At The Galaxy Bowl
Less than a hundred yards off Hwy 14, just outside of Lockwood, the Galaxy Bowl has lurked in the shadows for more than a decade, discarded and forgotten. Once the area’s greatest attraction, the abandoned lanes are now only a reminder of what life used to be. However, a stranger has ventured into town, breathing new life into the lanes, and bringing with him an evil this town has never known. As the bonds of reality are twisted and torn, the citizens of Lockwood find themselves in a struggle for their own existence - a struggle that will reveal them for who they truly are, and bring them face to face with the darkness of their inner demons.

To acquire a copy of "Ten Frames At The Galaxy Bowl": Contact Kyle Dickerson

Read Excerpts from "Clouds for the Table"
"Too Tall Alice" by Susie Sims Irvin and Illustrated by Melinda Dabbs is presented in video on the Kids section. HERE
Hummer Haven
By Staff Writer
Shirley Fortune

"Welcome to Hummer Haven" is a little sign hanging on our wall, it guides the way to a large four feeder humming bird "sanctuary" sitting in front of a big picture window where our little humming birds come to feed.  My husband, the bird man of Hummer Hill, as I fondly call him, started with one small feeder a decade ago and now, according to our neighbors, has enticed all the humming birds into our yard. 
They used to fly elsewhere for the winter, but no more.  They are happier here, well no wonder he fills their feeders for them daily in the summer, less often in the winter.  I have to tell you it is a spectacular show watching them come early and late for a "mass dinner party" and I have counted up to 40 flittering about waiting their turn for a "reservation".  I think we have generations growing up in our yard, like families who come to their favorite restaurant "forever".
There was a time I felt a natural desire to monitor them, especially when there was a bully buzzing the others off the feeders, so I did and then my Bill said "leave them alone and watch".  Well, sure enough when you watch, they flee from the bully for awhile, he has his big bully way.  But if he continues to harass then in time, they "call out the troops" and chase him away, or until he settles down and gets the idea they will not tolerate his bad behavior any longer.  It reminds me of the mistakes we make with the environment, trying to fix things "our way" instead of waiting to see how it should be done?
You should know though that once you begin this delightful Haven of Rest for the humble and beautiful creatures of the air, they own you.  If you in any way become negligent, they will peer at you and make it very clear that their feeders need filling.  I watch them when my Bill is replacing the feeders, they are benevolent with him and happy to see him, there is an interchange of sorts.
They are in fact a true attraction in our home, children will stare at them and sit quietly watching their aerodynamic wonders, it is a real "show stopper".  They are also beautiful when the sun reveals their iridescent colors. Of course, that is the boys, the girls are just plain Jane, but that is the way of nature.   Their abilities are very precise, it did in fact inspire my engineer Bill to use them as a logo for his small electronic business, he designated it ,"Precise Products" which is a true statement. Our happy inventor Bill has made many tools to repair electronic parts which must have precision, it is a fitting logo. You can work faster and easier with his tools, it is part of his caring nature to provide them because he has done the jobs himself and knows what it takes. 

Recently, we added some other kinds of bird feeders to the array, the big birds and finches came along to share in the generosity and peace of being provided a meal or two.  I thought they would scare off our little hummers, but no they co-exist perfectly.  It can be very amusing seeing the contrast, sometimes the big birds try to use the hummer feeders, that is a real laugh.  Usually though they catch on.  A side benefit is when the feed falls on the ground, we get a few morning squirrels and rabbit families sharing the gleanings together. It is a delightful happy menagerie of creatures willing to be a part of what they perceive as a safe haven.  It makes me proud to have such a loving man whose creative abilities have made him want to share what we have earned from our labors by welcoming God's creatures, smallest of all in particular.
In these days of dread for many, I highly recommend the sharing of food with our happy hunters of the air, it is a very peaceful endeavor.  It is a reminder too, that should we find ourselves in dire need there will be a haven of sorts for us in the kindness of strangers, a promise of benevolence and willingness of others to share their provisions. Isn't that what we are taught in that famous lesson on the blessings or happiness available to those who give?  Certainly worth thinking about at least.

"Rainy Day Reminders"  
(By Staff Writer Shirley Fortune)