Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meet Author Janet Smart---I Am From Appalachia

Several months ago my friend and published author of 31 books, Marilyn Donahue, graciously permitted me to present her wonderful post on the "I Am From..." poetic form.

I asked my readers to get the creative juices flowing and try the "I Am From..." Well, my blogging friend, Janet Smart, did just that. Boy, did she do it!
Janet gave me permission to post her beautiful piece.

Here's a little info about Janet---She writes from her home in Ripley, West Virginia and is an active member of the WVWriters. One of her Christmas stories was recently published in a book titled Christmas Traditions. Janet writes a children's column for the regional magazine, Two-Lane Livin'. She's working hard to have her first picture book published. Janet loves children's books, she studies hard, and she's not a quitter. Expect to see a picture book with her name on it one of these days (o;

Here's Janet---

I Am From Appalachia

I am from Appalachia
From hills and hollers
And grandma’s front porch
With quilt covered gliders
Cotton soft and squeaky.

I am from dirt roads
Rutted from cars
That rumble past and
Leave billowing clouds of dust
To scatter in the breeze.

I am from summer vegetable gardens
Plowed in early spring
With Uncle Romey’s horses,
Whose long manes and straight rows
Flowed behind them.

I am from thorny blackberry patches
Spread over hillsides
And gnarled grapevines hanging from trees
Waiting for eager young hands
To grab hold and swing.

I am from close knit families
Living in houses built by
Strong hands and loving hearts
And cousins playing in yards perfumed
With the scent of roses and lilac bushes.

I am from time gone by
When fireflies dotted
Dark country skies and
Families left their doors open
For a visit from a night breeze.

I am from Appalachia
And I dwell in the shadows
Of the rugged hills
Where I walk in footsteps
Left by my ancestors.

c 2009 Janet Smart

Did Janet's I Am From Appalachia inspire you to give it a try? It inspired me!

Get to know Janet by visiting her at
Janet is an amazing writer and her photographs are breathtaking!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Writing for Coffee Breaks, by Marilyn Donahue

When I first began to write, I felt as if I were talking to the wind. I typed up manuscript after manuscript and sent my precious words to big time magazines. It turned out that I was the only one who thought they were precious. I collected enough rejection slips to paper a wall of my “office” — a corner of the family room where I had set up a card table, a portable typewriter, and a ream of paper.

I’ll admit that I was discouraged. But in a family with four children, a cat that had just produced six kittens in the clothes hamper, two large iguanas, a South African Jackson chameleon that lived in a fish tank and ate live meal worms, and my son’s pet snake — there was little time to mope. I decided to switch from the long-winded, academic articles nobody wanted to read and write, instead, about things I knew first hand — things that happened in my family and, likely as not, in families everywhere.

I approached the local weekly newspaper and offered to write a weekly column of short, family oriented pieces that would make their readers laugh — and sometimes make them cry. I didn’t ask for pay, and the editor said he would give me a chance. Before long, people began talking about the “Coffee Break” column that someone named Mary Robb was writing. The editor offered to pay me one dollar an article. I agreed.

Did I give my writing away too cheaply? I don’t think so.
* It gave me a chance to establish a pen name.
* It gave me an audience that asked for more.
* It taught me the discipline of writing for a weekly deadline.
* It made me search my brain for new subjects to write about.

And — the BIGGEST bonus of all — I began to use the seeds of these articles to write longer, more detailed stories that I sold to magazines for much, much more than one dollar!

Giving away my writing to a no pay/low pay market
was the smartest career move I ever made.

It showed me that focus is important and that writing about what I know pays off. It taught me that the joy of seeing my words in print outweighs dollar signs. And it gave me the self confidence I needed to keep trying.

I would do it all over again!

c 2010 Marilyn Donahue

Marilyn Donahue is a seasoned author, college and writing instructor, conference speaker, and has written a whopping 31 books. She recently signed contracts for four books! She believes in coffee breaks (o;

[Thanks to for the cup of coffee]