Fans of old school country music may recognize the line taken from Tennessee Ernie Ford's classic hit 'Sixteen Tons.' I'll mark my birthday at the end of the week so I will be, like it or not, another year old but I'm hopeful I'm not deeper in debt nor will I be, if the good Lord's willing and the creek doesn't rise. I borrowed that from Tennessee Ernie Ford too because he always ended his performances with that statement.

Fans of old school country music may recognize the line taken from Tennessee Ernie Ford's classic hit 'Sixteen Tons.' I'll mark my birthday at the end of the week so I will be, like it or not, another year old but I'm hopeful I'm not deeper in debt nor will I be, if the good Lord's willing and the creek doesn't rise. I borrowed that from Tennessee Ernie Ford too because he always ended his performances with that statement.
The song was written and first recorded by Merle Travis, who based the lyrics on a line taken from a letter that his brother John wrote in a letter, "You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." Travis took the another poignant line from the song from something his father, a coal miner, used to say, "I owe my soul to the company store."
'Sixteen Tons' is an old favorite of mine and was one of the many records I used to play on my parents' large RCA Victor record player.  From childhood onward, I took advantage of their record collection as well as my own albums with Disney songs and later Top 40 hits.
Ford's version of the song came out and went to the top of the charts in 1955 so it predates me.
It still resonates with me and it's one factor that led me to write 'Coal Black Blues', published last fall by Evernight Publishing.  My other inspiration was a trip through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia during the early months of 2015.  Traveling in the winter is quite different than a summer vacation and in February, there were no leaves to soften the sight of coal tipples and mines or the communities that once depend on coal for their livelihood. The story is fictional and the idea grew from wondering what life would be like in the mountains. Since I write love stories, there's a romance.
I tried to capture what I saw in those mountains, to remember stories from my family history, and to evoke emotion. Ford's song helped with that and so did another old tune I borrowed for the title, 'Coal Black Blues'.
If I judge by what one book reviewer said about the novel, then perhaps I accomplished what I set out to do.  Alberta, of Manic Readers Inc, wrote:  "I love Murphy. I love her people, her word pictures. I have said before that she puts me right into the heart of the south country she writes about. I see the colors, the mountains, the small towns, the conflicts, hopes, dreams, pasts and presents of her characters."
Every writer wonders if he or she tells the story that aches to be told in a way that engages readers.  We all have our favorite novels written by other authors that we remember and often re-read. When a reader or a reviewer shares their responses, it makes our day and it keeps us writing.
There are two times a year when I reflect and review my life as well as what I'm doing.  My birthday is one and the start of each new year is another.  For me, those two events happen just two months apart.
I'll end this work week with a birthday, another day older but who's counting?
Not me!

Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer for the Neosho Daily News and writes a column for the paper.