Kathy Hardy Rhodes is a published author whose works have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and literary anthologies, including Simon & Schuster's Chocolate for a Woman's Soul II.

She is founder and editor of the e-zine Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, a Place for Emerging and Established Writers to Publish Their Works. In its first year MLASJ published the works of 70 writers in 20 states, including all the states of the Deep South.

Rhodes is editor of Muscadine Lines: A Southern Anthology, a collection of 28 stories and 28 poems by 28 writers, veterans of the online journal of the same name.

Pink Butterbeans: Stories from the heart of a Southern woman, a collection of 50 short personal essays, is her first book.

"I started writing CREATIVE NONFICTION before I knew what it was," Rhodes says. "Now I go about my life doing what one of my favorite authors [Annie Dillard] suggests--I 'watch and stalk.' I find plenty of fodder in family and friends, in my own backyard, and in the beautiful rolling hills of Williamson County, Tennessee."

Rhodes offers Proofreading and Editorial Services for writers. She also teaches workshop sessions on creative nonfiction.

She is a member of the Tennessee Writers Alliance and an executive member of the Williamson County Council for the Written Word, an organization dedicated to encouraging, educating, and empowering writers, through which she co-ordinates an annual workshop.

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Rhodes, a former teacher, earned a degree in English from Delta State University, pursued graduate studies at the University of Memphis, and currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

Kathy Hardy Rhodes Web Site

E-mail Kathy Rhodes.

Frequently Asked Questions

DESCRIBE THE BOOK.

The genre of Pink Butterbeans is creative nonfiction. It's a collection of fifty personal essays. Each one is a snapshot, a captured moment in time, some humorous, some tugging-at-the-heartstrings. Some stories are nostalgic, some are thought-provoking, and others simply describe a brief inspiring moment, like a sunrise on a spring morning. The stories share observations and reminiscences about family, place, and southern life.

Pink Butterbeans is a great bedside book or a wonderful gift book, targeted particularly to women, with essays like "Wite Out,"describing how my husband digitally removed my wrinkles; "Skinned," relating how I used a facial mask and got some time alone; and "Tracks in the Dough," reminiscing about my toddler driving his Matchbox cars through my cookie dough. But the book also contains essays appreciated by both genders, such as "Soldiers, All," weaving together the stories of a dead goldfish, the Vietnam Wall, and an aging parent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from World War II. Or "Molly" and "Where the Autumn Fern Grows" which chronicle the illness and death of the family dog.


WHERE DID YOU GET THE TITLE?

I picked a catchy two-word title that presents an image symbolic of the book's content. Butterbeans are picked warm from the vine of a southern garden. The bean pods represent the vessel, the author. The heart-shaped beans inside represent the voice and are tinted pink, showing a different or unique, sometimes softer, way of looking at things.

Pink butterbeans? The logo is artful, colorful, and dramatic, appropriate for creative nonfiction.


WHY ARE YOU THE ONE TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

First of all, I am Deep South steeped, born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, "the most southern place on earth," according to a book of that title by James C. Cobb, who, by the way, was wearing a PINK bowtie when I met him at the 2005 Southern Festival of Books. I've been soaked in the southern traditions of family, kinship to the land, religion, and southern pride. Secondly, I love writing about these things. I feel called and compelled to write creative nonfiction, to share my glimpses of southern life. As editor of the e-zine, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, I write a weekly essay for a wide audience. I attend Open Mic readings, including having participated in the two annual Read-Around-Tennessee events, and share my personal works. In addition, I teach workshop sessions on creative nonfiction and enjoy sharing my passion for the genre.


WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS COLLECTION OF PERSONAL ESSAYS?

To remember. And to allow others to call forth their own similar memories, to identify with my experiences, to see life as it is interpreted through my rose-colored glasses, and then to frame the truths in their own life events. Many times in life's "busyness," we move too quickly by those humorous, heart-stopping, or warm fuzzy moments, without stopping to notice and stamp the memories in our minds.


WHERE DID YOU GET THE PINK BUTTERBEANS ON THE COVER?

After I couldn't find any at grocery stores or produce stands, I let it be known that I was looking for a home garden with butterbeans in it for a photography project. A local Williamson County, Tennessee, woman, Charlene Ring, said she had some "just coming in. I would be happy for some of them to star in your project." So I picked butterbeans on a Century Farm. A century farm is one that has been in a family continuously for one hundred years or more. Charlene's farm is 205 years old and covers eight generations.

The garden, down a shaded gravel drive from the old two-story farmhouse, was set against a backdrop of tall, tasselling cornstalks. There was an arbor with snap beans growing all around it. Squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers. Lemon and cinnamon basil. Zinnias grew in with the vegetables and herbs. And butterbeans coming to their own, so thick they filled the centers between the rows. I picked a few and dropped them into a Kroger bag and delivered them to my photographer.

The shiny pink ones? Well, that's a secret, and only my publisher knows for sure!


WHAT IS CREATIVE NONFICTION?

Creative nonfiction is writing that draws from actual events and lives and employs artistic vision and literary techniques, such as scene, character, dialogue, description, foreshadowing, etc., that are usually associated with fiction or poetry, to send readers on a journey of discovery of the human condition and the world around them.

It is true, artful, and personal. It's storytelling at its best. "Tear yourself inside out. Unearth, dramatize, relive bad memories, frightening and life-shaping experiences. Tell humorous anecdotes about growing up on a farm or in the inner city," says Lee Gutkind, the godfather of the genre.

Those of us who write creative nonfiction--personal essays--are demonstrating our ability for observance and openheartedness. When we write about biscuits and blackberry jelly, a son's wedding hankie, Mama's tapioca pudding, an old country barn, eating a tomato sandwich, and Grandpa's watermelon patch, for example, we are struggling to stay in touch with life's meaning in today's world. If we can write so that others feel that, too, and experience what we did when we put our thoughts together in self-reflection, we've gone beyond personal experience. We've recorded what it is to be human, and we've called this up in others, as well.


WHAT BOOK IS SIMILAR TO PINK BUTTERBEANS?

There's a book entitled Due South: Dispatches from Down Home by R. Scott Brunner, an occasional commentator on Public Radio in Mississippi and National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His book is made up of essays: "simple, warm and part of an overall pattern; a patchwork quilt of life in the South" as he has lived it.

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