May 1, 2016

Back Home in Kentucky-Again with Linda Swift

Last year I told you about the diversity of Kentucky and its attractions. Now I'd like to share what this state means to me. I was born on my grandparents western Kentucky farm (in the Jackson Purchase region) in the post-depression years before World War II. My daddy, a school teacher, was paid only for months taught which left us returning to the farm each summer. To have year around work, Daddy finally took a job as
insurance salesman in Paducah, largest city in the Purchase located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. (population 25,000 which temporarily doubled during WWII influx of atomic plant workers.)

Following the war, we moved to Southeast Missouri but when I graduated high school, I returned to Paducah to work with the intention of saving money for college. However, love intervened when I met and married a Paducah boy and soon we left Kentucky to follow his jobs with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Four times, we returned to Kentucky until our retirement (I had graduated Murray State College and become a teacher). Then we ventured out of the Tennessee Valley all over the US and England as my husband worked for private power plants, always returning to Kentucky and Paducah, also known as River City by locals.

Now we winter in Florida but call Paducah home. Many of the downtown stores have moved to the Kentucky Oaks Mall out by I-24. The downtown Irvin Cobb Hotel is an apartment building now and many new motels have replaced it out by the mall. The riverfront looks much the same except for the murals painted on the flood wall built after the disastrous 1937 flood. And the steamboats of two major cruise lines dock here several times each season. I launched a Books for Boats program with three local authors to offer our books at each docking. And the highlight of the season was presenting a program on one steamboat about my Civil War novel.

After becoming a blight on the city, the downtown is thriving again and includes interesting shops, a variety of restaurants, horse-drawn carriage rides, museums, and more. Several city blocks known as Lower Town, have been designated an Arts District which attracts many artisans to locate here. Perhaps the best known feature of our city is the National Quilt Museum that now attracts 40,000 visitors during the annual Quilters' Week. Most gratifying to me was restoration of Whitehaven, the antebellum home built for a former mayor, now operated by DOT as a KY Welcome Center. One of my first books (still available) was set in the mansion.

It seems fitting that the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis was neutral  in the Civil War. Since slaves  comprised almost twenty percent of the state's population in 1860, it was the epitome of "brother against brother." This border state's significance was expressed by Lincoln's words: "I hope to have God on my side but I must have Kentucky." Just as I keep returning to Kentucky, I keep writing about the Civil War.
I will be giving a print copy of Seasons of the Heart, a new collection of three Civil War novellas. The winner will be drawn from names of those who leave comments.
You can also download a free copy of the first story, A Season for Miracles, at this link:

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  1. I lovethe Civil War and look forward to reading your books.

  2. Thank you for commenting, Barbara. Yes, there is something about the Civil War that makes it unlike all other wars to me. I think it is the pathos of brother against brother. Good luck on winning.

  3. Alicia RasleyMay 01, 2016

    I remember going to Paducah over that long bridge! Kentucky is an amazingly wide state-- going from Virginia to the Mississippi River.

    Will be looking forward to your book!

  4. What a beautiful post!
    I can't wait to visit Kentucky....Louisville & Churchill Downs is top on my list.

    Good luck and God's blessings.

  5. I recall some lovely days spent in Kentucky way back in the '60s. I was there on military assignment, but found ample opportunity for travel and under activities. I toured sites from Bardstown (Stephen Foster festival) to the Blue Grass country and even participated in the Shakespeare in the Park little theater in Louisville. An ancestor, who fought for the Union, lived and died in Louisville (wish I'd known that when I was there).
    Best of luck with your writing, Linda.

  6. AnonymousMay 01, 2016

    I remember going by or through there on the way from Macon, GA to Mexico, Mo. I don't remember anything about the place. Good luck with your novellas!
    Mary Marvella

  7. Pamela, everyone thinks of Churchill Downs and the KY Derby first when they visualize Kentucky, I think. But don't forget to visit Mammoth Cave also in Central KY, the mountains of East KY, and the Lakes of West KY, just to mention a few other places. Thanks for visiting today.

  8. Yes, Bardstown is one of my favorite towns in KY. We held our annual KY State Poetry Society weekend there the year I was president. A fitting place for poets, don't you think? The Blue Grass section (so called) includes all the beautiful horse farms for which KY is noted. I'm glad you were left with good memories of our state and hope you will return again. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Mary, I'm sorry Kentucky didn't leave a lasting impression on you when passing through. But better than a bad impression! Perhaps if you had more time to explore some of the state, you would find it to your liking. Thanks for your good wishes re my novellas.

  10. How wonderful that you spend winters in Florida. Kentucky is a beautiful state
    As I look at all your work here, I see what a talented author you are. Novellas are great because they're short enough to read in a busy lifestyle, but long enough to allow the reader to really get a chance to know the characters.
    I wish you continued success in all you do. I'm such a fan.

  11. I enjoyed your post about Kentucky. Most of it was at least somewhat familiar from knowing you, and traveling through KY--from W. to E.--on our journeys to MI. One year, after following the same routes through Indiana on up to MI, we decided to try the KY Parkways to Elizabethtown, and then on north toward MI. We thought then...and still do...that KY is one of the prettiest states in the US, along with Tennessee and N. Carolina.
    I know some parts of Texas revere the Civil War, but most of the state really know little to nothing about it. I didn't touch Texas much, but to those it did...they are very those it didn't, which is the was just The Civil War. This is how I viewed it.
    But we began to visits CW cemeteries and pay attention, and now I know far more about it than the bit I learned from Gone With the Wind.
    And I learned I had an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.
    Some of your best stories are about the Civil know that..and you are a very successful author on the topic. Best wishes.

  12. Sarah, thank you so much for your comments. I always look forward to what you have to say. Yes, it is wonderful to spend winters in FL where we have good outdoor walking temps, and even outdoor heated pool weather. This is one of the few advantages to being old enough to retire! But coming home, we are always reminded how "green" Kentucky is in the spring. And nothing is more beautiful that the autumn colors in KY. We feel very blessed to have it "both way" at this point in our lives.

  13. Celia, my dear cyber sister, thank you for your post. I know you and Jim have seen much of KY and I am still in awe that you traveled from San Marcos two years in a row to be part of my book signings. I think you feel about writing Civil War stories like I feel about trying to write a story set in Texas. It is out of my league. Here in KY and all points farther South, the Civil War is still vivid in the minds of the offspring of those who fought it. Thanks for visiting today.

  14. Hi, I was especially interested in reading your post when I saw that you write about the Civil War era (not because an item on my bucket list is to go to the Kentucky Derby!)
    After writing Regency romances, I just launched my first novel that takes place pre-Civil War and leans more toward Historical Fiction. The next in the series will continue through the Civil War. I find researching this time period is fascinating as well as heart wrenching. I look forward to reading your novellas! Elaine

  15. I feel like printing out your post and taking it to my city honchos and telling them that they are making a mess of our historic downtown. See what we are missing!

    Every state has its own beauty, but Kentucky's greenness is quite distinctive.

    A steamship book signing and then a river cruise? I'm putting that on my to-do list! Thank you for the lovely post!

  16. I like reading stories set during this time period. I once visited Kentucky and thought it was green and beautiful (I live in the desert of Arizonba so any blade of grass is green to me.)

  17. Elaine, how ironical that you are crossing over from Regency to Civil War and I'm hoping to write at least one Regency in the near future! I think you might like my full length C.W. novel, This Time Forever, which also leans toward Historical Fiction. It is almost 300 pgs., includes many battles both North and South and encompasses the entire war. It is now $2.99 on Amazon: Link: I wish you luck with your new direction. I find there is always an audience for this subject.

  18. Hi Elizabeth. I'm happy to see you here. Our downtown was dormant for many years but now had come alive and I didn't begin to cover all the attractions and events we now have. It was quite an honor to do a program for the river boat passengers on the cruise that featured the Civil War. I didn't travel with them, just did my program and signed books while they were docked in Paducah. The ship's librarian took all of my leftover books and I received a nice check for them a short while afterward. We four local authors not only did Books for Boats and met every boat all summer; we also did Books for Broadway and set up our tables on Friday or Saturday evenings along with the other arts and crafts people and sold to the dinner crowd that came to the downtown restaurants. It was profitable and fun.

  19. Joye, thank you for your words about Kentucky. Yes, it is truly green. I notice it especially when we return from our annual winters in Florida. I have visited your state several times and I am always struck by the vastness of it. And the serenity and quiet of the dessert. I love warm/hot weather and would prefer the dry heat of your area over the humidity of Florida if it were only closer to family. And the West holds a special fascination for the Grand Canyon and other wonders of nature. Thanks for visiting.

  20. Born in California, I came to rest in Missouri. Don't get me wrong, I loved the beach and all the Monterey Bay offered, and want to go back one more time, but I call this area "home". The history is rich here also, on our small 12 acre place and all over Dent County. One of my daughters does Family History research, not just for our family, but for many in the area as well as for friends. Having researched a little around the Civil War time, she is writing a book which she's titled "12 Acres". I can't wait to edit it with her. It is going to take some years to complete, as she works 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to keep a roof over her head as well as her teenage son's. It was an interesting time, the 1860s. Two brothers lived on "our" land - but owned hundreds of acres - who were part of the Civil War, the Confederate side. Daniel sold marble cabinet tops - an ad for his business was found in an 1870s newspaper - and his brother was a teacher, in law enforcement, and more. Very interesting, the things my daughter has found in her research.

    I look forward to reading your Civil War stories. Jan

  21. Hi Jan. I am wondering where Dent County is located. I lived in Southeast MO during high school and have fond memories of the state. I set my second romance novel there (titled Full Circle - still available on Amazon) Your daughter's book sounds very interesting and I admire her tenacity in committing to such a big project with limited time. I believe many here in the southern states tend to forget that the Civil War was also fought west of the Mississippi! You (and your daughter) might be interested in my long Civil War novel, This Time Forever, which encompasses the entire war, many battles both North and South, and also required much time and research. It is $2.99-260 pages. It was made into a film by an independent film company in Nashville in 2015 and will soon be available as a DVD (Film title is Clarissa's War) You can check the book out here: Link:


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