Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pre-Paid Writer

     Pre-Paid Writer is your insurance plan against those emergencies when you urgently need something to be written.  Pre-Paid Writer is also your guarantee that your routine, everyday writing and editing chores will be taken care of promptly, efficiently, and professionally.
     You’ve heard of Pre-Paid Legal, perhaps? --the program that allows you to consult with a professional attorney whenever you encounter a legal issue? Well, Pre-Paid Writer operates under the same principle: whenever you’re pressed for time or words, you can call your Pre-Paid Writer, and have your immediate or long-term writing needs fulfilled.   
     Here’s what you get for just $79 a month:
·         A monthly, custom-written and –designed electronic newsletter;
·         UNLIMITED copyediting (1- to 2-page documents);
·         Business Blog or Facebook Page setup;  AND
·         Twenty-five percent (25%) discount on regular rates for research, writing and editing projects including press releases, brochures, blogs, copywriting of any type,  speechwriting, ghostwriting (article-length to book-length), business letters, corporate histories, proofreading, obituaries, private writing instruction, and many others.

     My credentials: Professional writer and editor for fifteen years (OnePaper, The Nashville Free Press, Golfer’s Tee Times, The Westview); freelance writer for numerous other daily/weekly publications; author of a novel, The Misforgotten. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vintage business reaping fruits of labors

"It's Getting Better All the Time" was a big hit for Kix Brooks, and thatrefrain could be the rallying cry at Brooks' corking new enterprise, ArringtonVineyards & Winery. The country music star is one of three owners of theoperation that's been years in the making and is now beginning to flourish in the fabulous and resplendent hills east of Franklin, Tennessee.

At the winery, tastings and tours are offered every day. Principals and staff have collaborated with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development on a series of local TV commercials, featuring Brooks.

"The State (of Tennessee)is excited," says Christel Foley, who manages the winery and brings her bubbly and sparkling personality to bear on everything from press interviews to pouring wine for guests. "They're looking at us as a huge draw to Tennessee." The department is lining up travel writers to spread the word far and wide that's there's a new wine '" actually, a dozen new wines '" in Tennessee.

The vineyards at Arrington have yielded six white wines, five varieties of red, and a raspberry dessert wine. The whites include a Chardonnay, the Stags' White, aViognier, a Riesling, a Gewurztraminer, and a Muscat called Sweet Liberty; the reds, a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, a dry rose (Desert Rose), and the Red Fox Red. There are 20 acres of vines on the 75-acre property; the winery also buys grapes from New York and California and other places. All the wine is made here, barreled and fermented and bottled here.

The process began in 2003, when partners Fred Mindermann and Kip Summers purchased property in Arrington with the purpose of establishing a commercial winery. Mindermann, a healthcare executive, has been a grape grower and winemaker since college in 1980; he and Summers planted a research vineyard in 2001 on Mindermann's property in Brentwood. (They named it Liberty Hill Vineyard, and their Sweet Liberty Muscat was christened in its honor.) Summers was chief winemaker at Beachaven Winery in Clarksville (TN) for a dozen years before entering the partnership.

Mindermann met Kix Brooks in church, where the sermon that day must have from the Book of Joel, which says, "the mountains shall drip sweet wine." The musician joined Mindermann and Summers, and Arrington Vineyards was formally established in 2006.

The winery's products are not yet sold in stores '" Lipman Brothers, the designated distributor, is working on a strategy '" but they can be shipped to all legal states (Tennessee's not one) and purchased at the vineyard's Tasting Lodge. Tastings are always free to those over 21, who can get a sample of every variety. Cheese and crackers are sold in the gift shop, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic baskets, purchase a wine they like, and drink it outside on the deck or the lawn overlooking the splendid panorama of rolling hills.

"It's a cool place to visit even if you don't like wine," Foley says. "Kids and families are always welcome. You can sit out here and watch the sunset '" you can see for miles."

The sun is what makes the wine, of course -- "Wine is sunlight, held together by water," Galileo said '" but Kip Summers helps things along in his lab. ("There's a lot of magic to it," Foley says.)

"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance," was the judgment of wise old Ben Franklin. "Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." A visit to Arrington Vineyards is almost like a religious experience. Kix Brooks visits all the time, and it's not unusual to see him behind the bar, pouring wine for guests. Music and wine have their affinities, after all. Some would go further, like Robert Louis Stevenson, who said: "Wine is bottled poetry."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chappy’s finds a Middle Tennessee mooring

   Some people like to go where the wind blows them, but for John “Chappy” Chapman, it wasn’t mere whim that brought him to Nashville. The owner of Chappy’s, the splendid and sprawling seafood-friendly restaurant on Church Street, was uprooted from his home by Hurricane Katrina, which leveled both his house and his Mississippi Gulf Coast restaurant in August 2005. But if his domicile and his livelihood were gone with the wind, tomorrow was another day for Chappy and his dream.

   In Katrina’s aftermath, a friend in Nashville opened his door to Chappy and his wife Star and their two children. They stayed two months, while Chappy got his bearings, took stock and decided to carry on with what he knew best. The former shipping broker had owned and operated Chappy’s Seafood Restaurant on the Gulf Coast since 1984, and he found a building here ideal for not only returning to his past glory, but redoubling it. The 18,000-square foot edifice on Church is almost twice the size of the former Chappy’s.

   Chappy’s on Church specializes in Gulf Coast cuisine, which encompasses both Creole- and Cajun-style, and it also serves steaks, veal, duck, quail and chicken. Another specialty is “old-world charm,” as Chappy himself puts it, represented by, among other things, indoor Parisian street lamps, a hundred-year-old stained-glass wall, a hand-carved bar from Belgium, and European works of art everywhere, including the restrooms. His homage to New Orleans is half a dozen alcoves named for Mardi Gras Krewes (the organizations that put on the parades and other festivities for what Chappy calls “the biggest free show on earth.”)

   The ebullient Chappy does much of the cooking (“I have my finger in the pot every day,” he says), and his rule of thumb (or finger) is simply this: “If I don’t like it, we don’t do it. But I like a lot of things.”  Seafood is his favorite, especially crab, followed closely by shrimp and oysters. The fresh fish at Chappy’s comes from all over, principally from the Gulf Coast but also from the East and West coasts.

   Chappy is an easygoing fellow, but he is seriously distressed by many Nashvillians’ penchant for a diet of “chicken fingers, fried cheese and pulled pork.” And he’s out to liberate them.
   “Here, people eat to live,” he says. “Where I come from, we lived to eat. At breakfast, we’d talk about what we were going to have for lunch. At lunch, we’d talk about what we were going to have for dinner. And at dinner, we’d talk about what we had for breakfast and lunch.”  

   Building the business has been a gradual process, but Chappy’s on Church has attracted a loyal following by offering a taste of something different in elegant surroundings. There’s live music Friday and Saturday nights, and a Champagne brunch every Sunday. The restaurant seats 575, and can book parties in one of three private rooms, the Napoleon Room (seats 250), the Fats Domino Room (seats 60), or the Pete Fountain Room (seat 25). Chappy’s also offers catering, both in-house and on-site.         
   Restaurateur John Chapman is a descendant of the peripatetic John Chapman who became Johnny Appleseed. At the risk of comparing apples to seafood, you could say that, like his namesake, “Chappy” Chapman left his home to plant a seed elsewhere.

   Chappy’s on Church is at 1721 Church St. in Nashville. The restaurant is open seven days a week; call 615.322.9932 for hours and to make reservations, or visit www.chappy’

Saturday, May 28, 2011

PearlBay is open for business

*Advertise your goods and/or services with a PearlBay account.

*For just $10 a month, you'll receive a custom ad including an aerial view of and a map to your business, a link to your website, links to Facebook and Twitter, and a MORE page showing other deals (change these as often as you like), images, and audio and video enhancements of your choice.

   *Your PearlBay listing will be syndicated to the ever-growing number of affiliates in our network (including 10 newspapers in Middle TN).

   *For an example of a MORE page, open this link:

and look at any of the listings for Coral World.

   You don't need to be a big operator, however, to take advantage of $10-a-month advertising, broadcast to hundreds of thousands of readers monthly.

   For information, call 615.516.5678, email, or click on the top two links to the right of this page.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spirit of the Woods

   Lundy Cupp sees faces. The artist in residence in Kingston Springs has carved out a full-time career from the humblest of materials, the flotsam and jetsam of the forest, as it were. His incredible wood sculptures have made his face almost as familiar here in his adopted home town as that of his Old Man in the Tree, a sentinel on Main Street.
   Cupp grew up Minnesota, the land of lakes (and trees), and brought his love of the outdoors to Tennessee some 25 years ago. Just about six years ago, while enjoying a campfire in the woods on his property, he was fascinated with a particular piece of firewood. Sparing it from the flames, he took it home and started carving.
   That experience kindled his ardor for the craft, and brought to light a previously unexpected talent. (“It surprised both my family and me,” he says. I can’t draw anything more complicated than a smiley face.”) He set to work educating himself on types of wood, varieties of tools, and finishing techniques.     
   Along the way, he discovered the spirit in dead wood. He calls his method “freehand” carving.
   “I look at a piece of wood, and let the shape and the grain dictate the work,” he says. “I exaggerate what’s already there.”
   Cupp has worked with all types of woods—cherry, white and red oak, cedar, dogwood, maple—and says that walnut is one of his favorite. Whatever the material, he begins with a chainsaw, and uses a chisel for detail. 
   Cupp sells his freehand pieces, and also does custom work. Last year he was commissioned by the city to work his magic on a post oak on Main Street. His nearly ten-foot-tall Old Man in the Tree would normally have taken him three days to complete, but the project took three weeks instead, because of all the people stopping him to talk. This year he plans to carve faces—a lot of faces—out of the 12-foot oak behind the Old Man.
   “It’ll be a work in progress,” he says. “There’ll be faces all around it—and I’ll try not to scare the kids.”
   Speaking of scary, Cupp has found a new niche: Pumpkin carving. He plans to conduct workshops, and if his mastery of woodcarving is any indication, he may one day be known as Lord of the Gourd.
   Actually, he considers himself still a novice. He says he’s found a breathtaking array of talent at the Leipers Fork Carving Club, which he recently joined.
   Modesty aside, Cupp’s fame is spreading. His work can be seen as far away as Michigan and even Canada (“I’m international!” he laughs), and he’s working now on a large piece for a lodge in Colorado. 
        (To see Lundy Cupp’s stunning wood carvings, stop by the Harpeth Art Center & Gallery, 462 Highway 70 in Pegram, or visit     

The flood, one year later -- a remembrance

     The relentless rains that turned the Harpeth River into a rampaging torrent, devastating much of the county, also opened floodgates of fellow feeling, generosity, heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of its citizens.
   While the waters ravaged and sometimes swept away whole houses, forced the closing of businesses, upended lives and claimed several, and touched just about every individual in the community in one way or another, the disaster shined a light on the very best in the human spirit.

   “On the Monday after the flood, Kingston Springs was an island,” said Amy Bruce, co-owner with her sister, Katie Conley, of Red Tree Coffee on Main Street. “We were open, and people were wandering in and out, stunned, looking for information and wanting to help out.
   “By Tuesday morning, we said ‘We have to do something.’”
   The sisters sent out an email blast and Facebook message telling everyone to come to Red Tree. “Within two hours we had over 100 people.” 
   Beginning that day, the cafĂ© began fielding calls for help and sending out crews of volunteers, while dispatching other volunteers on assessment runs around the community.

   Across town, The Ark anchored at Harpeth Middle School, which became a makeshift shelter from the storm. A nonprofit that provides physical and spiritual support to South Cheatham County citizens, The Ark lived up to its name, helping people stay afloat with food, supplies and information, and identifying those in need of ongoing assistance.
   “We needed to be there,” said The Ark’s director, Missy Bolt. “People were taking refuge there, or coming in and asking what they could do.”
   The school’s teachers pitched in, and every day more volunteers showed up.
   “We had volunteers work until they couldn’t walk,” said HMS teacher/coach Jimmy Mitchell. “It’s made me proud to be part of this community.”
   “I’ve never seen anything like the effort,” said Adair Schippers, an Ark volunteer who spent most days helping take victims in and connecting them with resources. “The generosity was incredible. I’ll be on a high until I die.”
   The Ark worked closely with Red Tree, which commandeered the volunteer part of the operation.
   “Our gift is to take charge,” Amy Bruce said. “And we were raised to help people—to do the right thing.
   “This community has a big, deep heart, and a deep faith. It’s an active faith—we put our hands and our feet to work.”
   Bruce noted that there were people of all ages among the tireless volunteers, and that some didn’t miss a day.        
Kingston Springs was rebuilt,
one brick at a time
   Elsewhere, on every street, in every pocket of the community there were innumerable acts of kindness, small and large, reflecting the fervor to be of use. Neighbors helped neighbors—and strangers—dig out, clean up, begin to dry out, salvage what could be salvaged, and, above all, cope with the physical and emotional toll wrought by the flood.     

   The disaster may have done its utmost to put us under, but in the end it brought forth the qualities that lift us up.

About Kingston Springs

       Kingston Springs is a “bedroom” community just a few kangaroo springs west of Bellevue, but it’s far from the sleepy little burg you might imagine.    
      The town has four distinct residential neighborhoods, and an overall population in the neighborhood of 3,000. It has three schools, half-a-dozen churches, two banks, a cozy library, a fabulous city park, three night clubs, two liquor stores, a handful of convenience stores and fast-food outlets, a Mexican restaurant, a coffee shop, a couple of bustling canoe-rental outlets, a jewelry store, and a beautiful Barking Lot but no ugly parking lots.   

   The high-school/middle-school campus offers football, softball, soccer and a track. The city is friendly to walkers and bikers, with sidewalks all along both sides of Main Street.

   Kingston Springs City Park, on the banks of the Harpeth River, sprawls for 23 acres. A railroad bridge in the park is supported by pilings built during the Civil War. The bridge is part of a Civil War driving tour of the Nashville-New Johnsonville railroad. There’s a softball field in the park, a picnic area with a pavilion, the above-mentioned Barking Lot for dogs, a canoe ramp, and a one-mile walking trail through woods along the river. Special community events are held here throughout the year. The park is open from sunrise to 11 p.m. (Call 615.952.9885.)

   The town’s other park, L.L. Burns Park, is right across the river. It has trails, gardens, picnic shelters, four soccer fields, a playground, a lake and a wildlife habitat area, as well as more accesses to the Harpeth. The Splashground facility is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

   The Challenge Trail, adjacent to Burns Park, provides users the challenge of a half-mile uphill climb with 12 exercise stations, culminating in a 600-foot overlook area over the Harpeth. Hours vary and are posted at the facility. 
   (For more info, call City Hall at 615.952.2110 or the Parks Department at 615.952.9885.)   

The beautiful, log cabin-style library is the
hub of the Kingston Springs community.
   Several notable events mark the community's social calendar. The Annual CATFISH RODEO is held at Burns Park the first or second Saturday in June.  TWRA stocks the lake at the park for a morning of catfish fishing for kids; there are lots of prizes and trophies. The event, open to ages 4-12, is free. After 10 a.m., adults are allowed to fish for the remaining catfish. (No fishing license needed on that day only.)
   The Annual EGG HUNT is held on Saturday the weekend before Easter. There are thousands of eggs to be found, lots of prizes and no charge for a child to participate. There is a separate hunting field for toddlers. The frenzy starts promptly at 10 a.m. and is over quickly. Bring your own basket!

   THE annual ART IN THE PARK (first Sunday in October) is a competition and show for artists 16 and older. Visitors stroll from tent to tent to the strains of live music. There is no charge to participate and competitors are allowed to set up an optional booth for sales of their art. No admission charge or parking fees for spectators.

   MOVIES UNDER THE STARS at City Park run May-Sept. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and watch stars cavort under the stars.  

   For more info about this lovely village on the Harpeth, visit