Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tracy Winegar's Good Ground Book Blitz

Grandma’s Southern Cooking

Breakfast was my favorite meal when visiting my grandma and grandpa’s farm. When I awoke in the mornings it was to the smell of bacon. Gathering at the table, we were met with quite the spread. She made biscuits and gravy (most of the time from bacon drippings), bacon, eggs, sometimes ham, and freshly sliced tomatoes, and made from scratch oatmeal. When I grow moody and anxious over some new stressor in my life, my husband brings me home biscuits and gravy from Cracker Barrel restaurant because they are the closest thing to hers (although hers were better) and it is comfort food to me.
She was an incredible cook and knew all of her recipes by heart and without the aid of measuring cups or spoons. This was a particularly bad thing for our family, because when we asked her to show us how she made something so that we could duplicate it, there were no recipes to share. Sadly much of her cooking went with her when she passed.
My Aunt Rosemary is quite an accomplished cook too. She has done her best to set a few recipes of Grandma’s to paper. When I undertook writing Good Ground I knew that adding details about the southern cuisine would be an integral part of the book, because it was such an integral part of their way of life. The reason Grandma was so good at cooking is because she was a nurturer and because it was an expression of her love for her husband and family. I wanted Clairey to have that same beautiful trait about her. Some of my foodie friends admitted that they enjoyed the references to her cooking as much as they took pleasure in the love story itself.
The following is a recipe for her corn bread as best my Aunt Rosemary can recall. Hope you enjoy it as I did when I was a child. Share it with someone you love!
Corn Bread:
1 cup Self rising flour
1 cup white corn meal
¼ cup shortening
Mix flour, meal, and shortening together until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add enough milk to make the batter the consistency of cake batter. Put a tablespoon of oil in bottom of pan and put it in 350 degree oven until pan is hot and oil spreads all over skillet. (Iron skillets are very nice with this recipe.) Remove pan and add batter. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until top is browned.

Title:  Good Ground
Author:  Tracy Winegar
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publication Date:  July 30, 2013 by Omnific Publishing
Cover Reveal Organized By:  Literati Author Services, Inc.


Jim’s faith in God is tested by the death of his cherished wife and child. His life becomes barren, and he loses hope and the ability to continue.

But God plants in his heart the seeds of a new beginning and the will to go on through an orphan child. Jim nurtures this child with the same devotion that he invests in his land. The result is a son of whom any father would be proud. Jim’s gift continues through Ellis.

Ellis in turn cares passionately for his own farm, his friends, and eventually another lost soul. When he finds Clairey in the midst of a blizzard, he rescues her from her desperate life, and she grows into a capable a strong woman under his care. Jim’s legacy comes full circle.

All things grow in love. . .

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Good Ground is FREE on Amazon from 9/2 – 9/6.


“Forster’s gonna stay for supper,” Ellis informed her.
“We ain’t got but two spoons,” she reminded him gently.
“We just gonna have to share, is all.” He went over to the wash basin, noticing that the water was  fresh. Clairey must have dumped it and refilled it for him when she had finished with it herself. “Smells real good,” he told her as he toweled off his hands.
“Ain’t much. Soup beans and bread,” she said apologetically.

He was finding it difficult to carry on a conversation, suddenly aware of a new emotion that plagued his consciousness. Clairey sat with him, as she had many times before, but this time seemed different somehow. He felt a measure of pride in her. In articulating to his friend her many qualities, Ellis had found, to his surprise, things about Clairey that he admired and liked. The act of defending her had invoked feelings of fondness he never knew he had for her. He’d never really thought about it before because there never was a need to.
She had always been nothing more than a shadow. He’d had no regard one way or another for her. She was just there, like hired help or a servant. But he began to see how significant her contributions were to him. Clairey’s skills were a reflection upon him. She had provided him with a proper home and the ability to increase his possessions. She was valuable to him.
There was more to it than Ellis was able to process through, feelings he couldn’t completely understand. He was become aware of her physical self as well. In all these long months, they had rarely touched. Yet there he was, sharing a spoon with her. There was something terribly intimate about it, watching the spoon glide from between her full lips, their hands grazing on another in just the hint of a touch, and then putting that same spoon between his own lips. At one point, her knee encountered his leg beneath the table in an innocent nudge, and Ellis felt a flush spread over his face, as if he had been caught doing something taboo in front of his friend, something private and surreptitious.

Seeing her now brought a rush of fragmented memories. He recalled a stolen kiss in the afternoon sun as they were returning from the well with a bucket full of water. She had sloshed water onto the front ofhis britches, making it look suspiciously as if he had wet himself. Her laughter had trailed behind her as she ran, giving him many a backward glance to see if he might pursue. He remembered the brush of her hand against his and the tingling sensation it had left on his skin. The way her touch awakened his senses and made his body feel alive was the thing he missed the most.
He recalled another time with her. She had been wearing a white dress, her honey hair fanned out on the grass as they picnicked next to the creek. Dulcie Mae had lied to her mama and told her that she was visiting a sick friend. Ellis had lain next to her upon that perfectly green grass, sucking her delicate earlobe, caressing her face with his hands, delighting in the soft feminine curves of her cheeks and lips. He’d nearly been unable to concentrate on the words she whispered with a moist, pleasant tickle against his skin as she ran her fingers along his neck, through his hair.
Ellis allowed himself these memories as small indulgences before he chastened himself for letting his thoughts go too far. 

The interior of the barn was dim in the midmorning gloom of the rain, but he easily spotted the man sitting on a stool, sagging heavily against the wall. He was sleeping, snoring loudly in a stupor brought on from the drink he had likely bought with Ellis’s money. Ellis knocked the man’s foot roughly, waking him with a start.
He looked up, confused, disoriented, until his eyes eventually focused on Ellis, and he grew angry. “What’re you doin’ here?” Joe barked.
“You been out to my place, you dog. Did you think I was just gonna let you get away with it?”
“Ain’t a man allowed to see his child? His own flesh and blood?” he asked in an innocent tone. “I come to see Clairey. But she’s disloyal to me, her own daddy! Well, she never was good for nothin’.”
“Don’t talk about her that a-way!”
“Didn’t I provide for her all these long years? Didn’t I trick a man into havin’ her when nobody else woulda looked twice at her? And she won’t give me the respect I deserve! No, she never was good for nothin’.”
“You wouldn’t have her. You turned her out! You don’t got no claim on her no more. And when you come to my place, into my home, hurtin’ my wife and takin’ what’s mine, well, sir, you gotta answer for it.”
“That right?” he said with a laugh. “What’re you gonna do ‘bout it?”
“Well, that’s up to you, mister. I either come to warn you off or kill you outright.” He spoke quietly but with intent.

About the Author

“By day, a school librarian. By night, a wife and mother. But in those quiet moments that are only mine, I write…”
Born and raised on the flatlands of Central Indiana, Tracy moved to the highlands of Utah at the age of nineteen. She quickly discovered that her brand new, top-of-the-line hiking boots were a waste of good money because she was never quite able to acclimate to the altitude in the Rockies. Tracy claims to suffer from a type of disorientation she attributes to altitude sickness to this day. It seems to be a permanent affliction. Her husband Benjamin cohabitates in a home with Tracy and the four beautiful but precocious children they lovingly created together. Although to others, their home may seem alarmingly chaotic, it is an insanity of their own making.

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The Inspiration Behind the Novel Good Ground

My mother was born and raised in Indiana. My father came from Tennessee. I like to tell people that I am half Hoosier and half Hillbilly. Perhaps this is something I shouldn’t be proud of, but I am. I remember my summers fondly, as they were spent on my grandparents’ farm in the tiniest of places, Pall Mall, Tennessee.
It was very much like stepping back in time. The people there dressed in fashions that were popular two decades before. My grandparents lived in a remote place, their own little mountain, where my grandfather planted tobacco and was paid to let cattle graze on his property. It was very primitive compared to the modern conveniences and close location to shopping and dining that I was use to back home in Indiana.
The old home that my grandfather helped build did have indoor plumbing, but it was not very functional. Often, when our family visited, the toilets would clog and the hot water was sparse. We ended up using the outhouse much of the time. When I was younger my grandmother had a washing machine that she plugged in on the back porch. It was an old time washer, without a lid, that you could look into and watch it agitate. When the wash was finished, she cranked the laundry through the ringer and then hung the clothes out to dry. When I got older she was able to get herself a proper machine.
She taught us how to quilt by hand, using newspaper as pattern pieces. Grandma was excellent at sewing and made most of her own clothing. She was also very good at cooking. Breakfasts were more like a four course meal. There was ham and bacon, biscuits and gravy, eggs, freshly sliced tomatoes, and oatmeal. I wish that I could cook like she did, but her cooking was more instinctual than formulaic and so there were no recipes to follow, just a little of this and a pinch of that.
She was an excellent story teller and an avid reader, two things that I admired, and pursued as my own hobbies when I grew older. She was a very soft spoken and kind person. Anyone that ever spoke of her said only good things. She and Grandpa had quite the love story, which she liked to share with us when we begged for a story. How scandalous, they eloped. It is fitting to me that their romance, their passion and frivolity was always grounded in reality. There was always work, there was always the struggle of making ends meet, there were always hard times to be overcome, but there was also love and laughter and music and joy. Even after being married for so many years my grandparents really loved each other.

When I constructed the world of Ellis and Clairey Hooper that was what I wanted to portray, that real life is not a fairy tale, it is a reality. Reality can be harsh, but there can still be moments of great beauty and deep happiness in the mix. I have learned that the most real people, the people that are relatable and strong and cable, are the people who have lived with great adversity and didn’t let it break them.  That’s not to say that the hardships they experienced didn’t come close to breaking them, but they managed to overcome.
To me there is no greater splendor than a person who takes what they are given, even if it is very little, and makes something out of it. I am a big believer that it is not where you are, it is where you’ve come from. Progress, no matter how slow is progress. I love to see characters grow and evolve. That is why Clairey is so appealing. 

Samuel Douglas Beaty and Ruby Beaty shortly before his death.

A True Love Story

What constitutes a true love story? In the beginning you meet someone, have an attraction or a common purpose and the relationship grows. While many of us experience that chemical reaction of seeing someone that you are drawn to because of physical appearance, you general move past that into meatier substance when you “fall in love”. 
I think of my parents who have been married now for forty-four years. Would my mom say that she thought my dad was dang fine? Sure. My grandparents who spent a life time together had their beginnings in a horseshoe game. My grandmother swore that when she saw the back of my grandpa’s head she knew that was the man she would marry. My own marriage of sixteen years began with a double take when I saw my husband for the first time walk by and I thought, wow he is really good looking.
But then I think of the rest of the story, and I realize that these relationships may be steeped in infatuation but they moved on to bigger and better things. I do not profess to be an expert on love, but I will share with you what I believe love is. 
My grandma and grandpa lived in rural Tennessee. Grandma Ruby was the only child of Frank Amonette. Frank was a professed bachelor for a good portion of his life and when he finally settled down and married my great- grandmother he was growing older. When my great-grandma Mary died of breast cancer, his fear then was of being alone. He asked my Grandma Ruby to promise him that she would never marry. She would not agree to it, because even as a young woman she knew that it was a promise she couldn’t keep. 
Her father did not approve of my grandpa Douglas, for various reasons (I’m sure some of them good reasons). While my Grandpa Douglas was a good man he was human, had his weaknesses and made his mistakes. But she loved him anyway. Because my great-grandfather Frank would not give his blessing, they decided to elope. At one point, on their journey to exchange vows, grandpa Douglas carried my grandma Ruby through a stream so that she wouldn’t get wet. Doesn’t get much more romantic than that does it?
But here’s the ever after part. They went on to have children, six of them. At one point my grandma Ruby experienced a very traumatic and difficult miscarriage. The two of them struggled to make ends meet on their tobacco farm while raising their family. The work was hard, the days were long. One of their sons as an adult was involved in an accident and consequentially became a quadriplegic. My grandparents lovingly took care of him until they died. They had many ups and downs throughout their fifty-nine years together. 

Similarly, my parents met, fell in love, and were married. Went on to have eight children! During that time my father worked hard to support his family. My mother worked hard to keep the house in order and provide meals for her family and make things stretch as far as they might. They worked together to raise us children and to do the best they could with what they were given.  They lost their first grandson shortly after he was born, a constant heartache, even now after nineteen years, for our family. They had another grandson diagnosed with autism. I have seen firsthand their struggles and the lengths they would go to in order to take care of their own.

My own marriage has not been without its problems. My husband and I now have four children of our own. Our second, a son, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Finances and the stresses of work and family have been difficult at times. What is my point in telling you all of this? I guess it is to say that I believe true love happens after the happily ever after. It is grounded in joy and sorrow, in work and play, in pleasure and suffering, in passion and temperance. It is facing hard times and working through them together. We are older and weigh more and are wiser and more experienced. I still think he is sexier than ever and sometimes we still make love like it was the first time. I know him and he knows me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And yet, despite the imperfection, we are solid. We love each other. We love each other enough to work through the moments that are truly bad, because we know that there is still good somewhere in the future.  This, for me, is a true love story, hanging on and hanging in with the person you have made promises to and choosing to stay in love despite the odds being against you. 


  1. I am so happy that you featured my book on your blog. Noticed you were from Tennessee. You are going to love Good Ground!!

  2. I am glad to feature books for authors, I am looking forward to reading it, it will be a while until I can get to it, my review list is filled into November. From everything I was reading while I was posting for Good Ground, I know I am looking forward to reading it. I was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, but in '96 my children and I moved to Knoxville and fell in love with Tennessee. We love the Smoky Mountains, its just beautiful here.