The land of the "rain crow"

The land of the "rain crow"
The old road home. (c) 2014 by RLMT

About the author:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhonda L. M. Tipton, writer and visual artist, is a lifelong resident of eastern Kentucky.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

On Writing... and Summer.

Summer is on fire. Her stalks of tall corn curl their long leaves into wilted, holy spirals, prayer flags of sunlit living tissue. Rains, when they do come, are brutal in their intensity, viscous viscious, pouring tears of mammalian grief atop uncaring flood waters.

The shadows call, forests holding secrets. Tiny springs and hidden caves, glacier-delivered boulders covered in cool, rich, dripping moss and ferns. Alas, hunters large and small know the value of clean water as bait for prey. From omnivorous bears to infinitesimally small ticks, they have only to wait. The meek, the suffering, shall come calling in their own time.

Time, spiraling without a visible ending, cycles upon cycles, births and deaths a vortex of amazing power. The greatest machinations of predators - not merely humans - will be ultra dwarfed by the power of a single, small star going nova. Neither tree frogs or elephants will care, going merely about their solitary businesses of living; life is not fair, as some see it. Yet the balance always swings true.

The call of cool pools where sleek minnows nibble bubbles from the legs of giggling intruders, a sirene song of innocence. The touch of calloused hands on rich soil, cupping gently around the roots placed just so, a little pond water added. An old dog wading patiently near a child with a chocolate-smeared and happy face. These are the songs of hope.

I turn the pages of a book. It is a story I created and wrote for myself, a small escape from the ugly, insistent narrowness of human inter-destructive behavior. Reading aloud so someone else might escape with me for just an hour or perhaps two, I find myself wanting to shed a fond tear when I have to let my characters (children born of my mind instead of my body) go back to invisible silence on the pages where they hold a semblance of life. They're good people, even those who chose wrongly, just as living people do: they teach how not to behave, even as the others provide examples of positivity. I miss them, when they're silent, and wish them well.

What tomorrow may bring is a bittersweet question. Life, perhaps, and what in it? I do not know, and no longer dare, quite, to wonder. One goes on. One provides a positive, hopefully, example, even if it's from the mirror's edge view, where reflections can become eerie and macabre. One feeds the hungry. And if one is fortunate, one finds the correct words to string together. Words on paper or stone, words to live by.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Onions with lettuce and bacon grease?

*** Truth or fiction? ***

Today the first refugees of Kentucky fled to the comparatively rich state of Virginia. "We don't know where we'll end up," they said, "Half of the United States of America is suffering the effects of political profiteering and selfish, greed-motivated people masquerading as simple business LLCs." More refugees will no doubt follow.

They've lost everything, these people. Homes, health, hope. Their eyes hold hollow depths swimming with worry. Where will they go? What will they do? How will they keep food, shelter, clean water? Mining operations, money-oriented health insurance and related businesses, monoculture poison-laced farms, waterways and air filled with profitable contaminants, all of these contributed, the refugees claim.

Unable to get decent health care or even find jobs the media claims exist, unable to get even short term disability aid, these refugees suffer depression and anxiety in the wake of insurmountable odds. Lacking alternatives, and in many cases, everything they once held of value, they finally ran for the border in the wake of rumors of immigrant walls, barriers to a last gasp of hope.

Give us your tired, your homeless, Lady Liberty once promised, her torch held high. For the people struggling to maintain working class dignity and the ability to support their families, it seems almost laughable that such an America once existed.

Stay tuned to Onion Express for further updates. We're here, tears and tissues to share.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tripping over my own feet?

My apologies to those who read this blog: I have not maintained it well of late. Furthermore, the next hiatus may be longer still, as I am at present - and once again - without a computer. Limited as I am by electronics failures, I'm grateful to at least have a cell phone to help keep in touch with friends and a scant number of relatives.

Be that as it may, I'll be back around someday. As soon as I can arrange a a machine that helps me transfer "the voices" from my head to print, haha!

Be well, friends.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Little apples.

Summer is heating up fast, a gap in rainfall giving way to a desperate burst of gardening by the stubborn. Rows of tomatoes, corn, beans, and zucchini poke their brave green tops higher and higher, relishing warm days and bearing up under stints of more rain.

What isn't obvious to city dwellers is that from the first crocus to bloom through the snow, it's all battle preparation for a winter not far away on the scales of season balance. The woods and fields hum and buzz with life forms bent solely on procreation. The sum and total of today is labor put forward to make it through tomorrow. And, with luck, a few tomorrows after that. It takes skill; never curse a a farmer with your mouth full.

Beautiful blooms on an apple tree are not the important thing in getting reliable fruit for the labors. More than mere seeds are required: often grafting is the secret to survival.

In the lessons of a poor farmer, solid roots, the precious skill calloused hands know well. All things are related. Little apples come from beloved, healthy trees.

Plant seeds, yes. Also learn to graft. Respect hard work more than pricey window dressings. Do these things with devotion, and the battle is won.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend started on Thursday night for man and beast.

A lovely scattered burst of wicked thunderstorms, yet more rain on soaked soil, even the mountaintop puddling. The road to the old "Boar's Den" and the county line bootleggers were happy to do a booming business. At the same time the traffic started, two cats got in a tanglement right under the camper's door, squalling, hissing, and the fur flying.

One may presume the birth of kittens in about 62 days. There may or may not be two-legged babies around the end of February, the variety that grow up, go to work in dying factories, get drunk at every excuse, and then repeat the steps to slow demise of the species on their way to a pain-pill hazed burial plan (sometimes).

About 3:00 a.m., someone shot a large caliber long gun at some critter lurking in the dark. Four times. Boom, boom, boom, boom.

Top that off with crappy, varied, loud music, and a neighbor who mows the lawn at 6:00 a.m., and a fine time was had by all.

Those cold, gray stones sleep in orderly rows, secrets forever reserved, only bones, memories, and the crawlers of the night privy to their hollow echoes. Fake flowers drooping in the rain, fiery sparkles of light decorating cedar, juniper, and spruce as sunrise blasts a brief gold on those forgotten altars.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rebuilding a life, midstream.

The struggle for time, equipment, and location to work at writing continues. Seemingly endless rain has hindered our efforts; the location we're camping at is atop a mountain and yet has managed to become a morass of slimey mud. I find some scant comfort in the promise of not one, but two gardens this year. (Hoping the work doesn't get washed away or baked by a dry summer.)

An archive of story elements and possible premise layers is building. With three works-in-progress stymied by lack of workable space, there are times I wonder if my brain is about to explode. (If I had computer, internet, and a place to keep it all, that might ease. I'm writing this on a cell phone screen, my outdated eyeglasses off, my nose barely three inches from the device.) So many ideas, so much that needs doing on a practical basis, and still the flood washes over and around me.

First, we need a solid roof, food and clean water, medical care. Before winter. A regular income of some sort is mandatory. After the plans for that are set in motion, we need enough freedom to actually have a life again.

I simply refuse to become enslaved to a bank again. We'll pay as we go or do without. We cannot ever, at our ages and in our health situations, afford to make such mistakes.

And so: as the means to an end (basic survival, long term), the search for viable work within our abilities is officially begun.

Cross your fingers. If Plan A fails, writing books will become a mere pass time occupation for me. One cannot live on dreams alone, no matter how devoted one might be to the concept. Disability is a severe complication to the situation.


As always, be kind to those with invisible illnesses (

Also find me at my author page: ... #RLeeTipton .

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

After a long hiatus, a wee (long) update.

It's been a long time, dear readers.  Some things have changed, others not. Some for the better, some not. Whether tomorrow might be better is a matter of opinion.

While I was MIA, I started a new book series (speculative fiction) called The Glimmerings. I get asked the Classic Writer Question often: "Where do you get your ideas?" That has no easy answer. I can tell you where this series came from, but the next one might be different.

I'm an introvert, a devoted hermit type, in fact. I dislike crowds, despise social interactions of groups in excess of five persons, and avoid them whenever possible. It's not that I truly am anti-social, it's that it's painful for me in terms of sensory overload. Unfortunately, what makes me a visual and other artist also makes me, well, weird. Like many creative people, I embrace that weird and make it mine. It's not in me to do otherwise. A kind word would be "eccentric." I am indeed eccentric. And, erm, more.

So, to get back to The Question.

In preparing to go endure the chaos of the Kentucky Book Fair 2015, I needed some distraction. Rolling some scatterbrained mindchildren around in the playground mud, I mentioned to my long-suffering, at long last understanding husband that I had an idea for a purely fun story. "It'll probably be just practice."
He listened patiently to my premise, rolled his eyes, and said encouragingly, "I dunno. It sounds kinda weird to me." I sighed. He hastened to add, "Do it. It can't hurt."
So I did.

The result was nothing I would have personally planned. I'm an old, crusty, established tomboy sort. A horse enthusiast from an early age, once a wannabe veterinary medicine student (health problems did that in), a nontraditional country gardener, someone whose least favorite color (and I don't really have a favorite color, which is a story all in its own) is pink. I don't read romances. Never did. They don't have enough "meat" to hold my imagination for more than an hour - and I'm a self-taught and later encouraged speed reader, so that's about all the time I need to devour and discard a slim, shallow volume of powdered sugar writing, as I've called it before.

In short, I took supernatural elements (magic?) and let it vine in lush overgrowth, flowering wildly on a frame of... romance. I did. Adding humor, some Scots and Appalachian flavor stirred in, plus any other elements I could grab that made me smile, I poured out a 62,000 word novel in... oh, dear... three weeks! Two days before the Book Fair, I emailed it to my editor, who, bless her and another patient friend, came to the Fair to support me and help keep my social equilibrium on an even swing.

It was such a vast change from my nonfiction books, which I wrote under the pen name "R.L. Mackintosh," that I chose a new pen name for them, R. Lee Tipton. I'm still the same old me, of course, but then both names are variations of the reality. I ended up making a decision to stick with the second, simpler name. Any books from now on will be published under that nom de plume.

Those who have read the books seem to like them and want more. I've got the fourth volume in progress, as a result. In addition, I'm also writing a mainstream novel titled The Bones of These Hills, and a historical Appalachian novel called Song of the Rain Crow: Psalms from the Book of Memories.

That is, if I can endure. This year has been hellish. Due to greed, political misuse, bank standards, disability and disability income standards, lack of adequate or real health care, and subsequent lack of income, we lost the home we struggled so long to keep, a home designed to work with our waning health and the issues of getting older and poorer with less options in an economy and country not sympathetic to same. We're struggling, as a result, more and more. There is little in the way of assistance for recovery from such a series of economic and health damages.

I need to promote books, yet have no suitable budget for same, or even for maintaining a roof over our heads. My husband and I are foreseeing some necessary surgeries, yet cannot use the usual medications for related conditions. There is no pain relief. None. The stress of moving while ill has left weakness and injury from falls resulting from same. Neither of us is able to work, and those who could have helped replied, "We don't have to." And that's that.

There are good people out there. Lucky for us. We have friends at the Furnace Mountain Zen Center and related parties. They're real human beings, all of them. Good people, good hearts. I thank them for everything they've done.

There are challenges to be met. We're working on those. Housing, first and foremost. Working equipment, including a computer (mine met the big Blue Screen of Death recently) and some sort of chair and desk arrangement that lets me keep my legs elevated. Regulating the sources of chronic pain. Surgery aftermath. My mother's advanced age and health, the lack of family or other support from anywhere but her hospital. There's more, but hardly worthy of adding, since the aforementioned is most important.

My mind doesn't stop. That's the annoying part. Day, night, socially acceptable subjects or not. Once the fountain is started, a writer sees no down time. There are no days off, no vacations. Everything we see, hear, feel, smell, touch, encounter, or, in some cases, imagine, is fuel for a furnace, an unending flow of Where Do You Get Your Ideas answers, all in the form of more questions. I could no more stop the flow now than I could sop up all the water that has gone through Niagara Falls in the last five hundred years. It's stupid to even suggest such. Anyone ignorant to the mindset should now be forewarned.

I don't know when I'll be able to update more, but I will try. As of now, I'm pitching for invitation to the Kentucky Book Fair 2016, taking with me the five nonfiction books in the Tooth, Claw, and Hoof Stories series... if they approve The Glimmerings. I'll endure the crowds and hustle and bustle. Because this is what I do. It's what I can do, and will do, and have done. For as long as my hands and mind can create, I will.

Because... well... I'm not just an old tomboy introvert writer sort. I'm also stubborn and cross-grained, with a curiosity as big as imagination can stretch it.

How about you? Want to come along for the ride? Stardust and moonbeams make for a playground beyond compare.


~ R. Lee Tipton, author


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My author page, newly created.

This is my alternate blog site, 
posted under my pen name.  

Find details for ordering or contact here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Welcome to the Glimmerings.

Today my first novel became available for purchase on Amazon. Simultaneously, a dream arrived on my virtual doorstep.

The first of a three, The Glimmering of Scotch Whiskey is a cross-genre romp that was pure fun to write. I had the story and characters in mind for a couple of months before I sat down to write it about October 23. I sent it to my editor ( two days before attending the Kentucky Book Fair 2015. Three weeks! It left me shaken. A month later, I sent the second in the series, The Glimmering of Mountain Mists, to be edited. I'm now working on the third book.

I settled on a pen name to use; too many people have names similar to the one most people know me under. So my nonfiction was written as R.L. Mackintosh. From now on, look for R. Lee Tipton. That's the name on the new fiction books, and it will stay. It's short and comfortable.

Good or bad, tell me what you like or don't like. I'll at least take the nudge under consideration.

Peace and out. Dreamland for me. There is work to be done tomorrow. Writing...


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

We're off to the Kentucky Book Fair!

The Tooth, Claw, and Hoof Stories, a five volume set of affordable nonfiction animal stories based in Kentucky, and written by author "R. L. Mackintosh."

I will be signing my books this Saturday, November 14, 2015, at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, Kentucky.  For information about the Fair, go to or see their page on Facebook. 

Signed copies are available also by mail. A reasonable additional charge will apply for shipping and handling, however, all copies will be signed and may be personalized on request. (Sorry, no credit cards accepted. U.S. currency, please.) 

Contact me here:

R. L. M. Tipton
P.O. Box 1225
Stanton, KY  40380-1225

R (dot) L (dot) Tipton at Gmail (dot) com 
Subject line "I want to order books," please. 

These books are also on Amazon (dot com), in both print and ebook editions. 

More works are in progress, fiction only.

Comments here are welcome and encouraged. Feel free to share this link as you will to interested parties.

Thank you!

~ R.