Arkansas Writers


Freeda Nichols

I think Freeda’s a country girl at heart.
Today, I’d like you to meet Freeda Nichols from Clinton, Arkansas. Freeda and I became friends through a critique group and writers’ retreats at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Educational Center in Piggott. In the process, she has a been a consistent encourager to me.

In addition to writing fiction, Freeda is a poet and an accomplished photographer. She often includes a wildlife picture in her blog posts.

I’ve asked her to tell you more about herself and her writing in her own words. 


Tell us about your book.
It’s a Christian Romance, set in Arkansas in 1983, along a peaceful creek, called the Cadron. This is the story of Jordan Maxey who puts aside her dreams to run the family farm when her father becomes crippled.
Following her college graduation, she experiences life at times so acutely painful she doubts her ability to solve problems besetting the family. Her close bond with her father enables her to keep faith in herself.
Pursued by two men vying for her hand in marriage, Jordan desperately searches her heart to know true love beyond a doubt.
Concerned for her rebellious teenage sister, Jordan steps in to prevent Shelley’s marriage to a man involved with trafficking illegal drugs.
Later, facing an evil man who kidnaps another sister, Jordan remains true to herself in her sacrifice to meet the ransom for the return of little Katie.

Freeda at one of her book signings

How did the story evolve?

I began this novel as an assignment with a journalism class through the University of Oklahoma. But I didn’t finish the book until years later. Once completed, I self-published it by creating my own company, Nic Baker Books, and finding a good printer, locally.  
My sister, an artist, painted the cover.  I have also published two children’s books, “Little Bug Eyes,” and “Badfellow the Bull.” As a poet, I have a published chapbook.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born at Banner Mountain in Van Buren County, Arkansas, near the town of Shirley. I wrote my first poem when I was about nine years of age. As a teenager, I wrote stories and poems. I felt a great desire to write. 
But I married a man in the Air Force and followed him to many places. Each of our four children were born in a different state. 
My family became my priority and I put my dream of writing aside to care for and enjoy them.  As the children grew, and one by one, began to leave home, I picked up my dream and “dug in” to write because it was my destiny.

Freeda’s sister did the artwork
for the cover of her book.

How did you choose your title?

My working title was “The Cadron Drifts Westward.” I grew up close to a creek. Not the Cadron, but Weaver Creek near Banner Mountain. In my novel, the characters often spend time along the Cadron, listening to its sound, watching it splash and move along. 
One of my critique groups advised a change in my title because something drifting was moving slowly. And my book is fast-paced, so I tried new titles and settled on “Call of the Cadron” which was suggested by my daughter, Tracy. 
I love the alliteration but I sometimes think that anyone outside Arkansas may not know the meaning of “Cadron.”

What do you hope people will take away from your book?

I hope my readers will find my story a pleasant pastime, as they curl up in an easy chair to relax and read.

Where can we buy your book?

My book can be ordered here. It’s also on sale in Arkansas at Hastings Books in Conway and Batesville, at Dirty Farmers Market in Clinton, and the Centennial Museum in Shirley.
 Social Media Links:
Blog    Facebook  Twitter         Linkedin     Pinterest       Google+
I hope you’ll drop by Freeda’s blog and also consider ordering her book.

Copyright ©Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved.

Arkansas Writers


Welcome to the fourth installment of Meet My Writer Friends. Today I want you to meet Talya Tate Boerner.
Talya Tate Boerner
from Fayetteville, Arkansas

Here’s Talya

Talya is the person who dragged me into the blogging world. She helped me set up this site and held my hand as I began. She has been patient and kind and is still there when I cry out for help. 

She and I met at a Hemingway Pfeiffer Writers’ Retreat. At the end of that week, I remember telling a mutual friend that I felt certain we would to be hearing from her. 

Talya is not only talented and motivated, but she also has a winsomeness that draws people to her. Her first book, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, came out in January has received great reviews nationally and is selling well. 

Talya will be signing copies and talking about Gracie Lee at Wordsworth Books here in Little Rock from 3:00 — 4:30, Saturday, April 2, 2016. 

I hope you’ll stop by and meet Talya and Gracie Lee. There will be door prizes, favors and refreshments. I’ll be there, watching for you. 

The following is a little interview with Talya.

Tell us a little about your novel.
The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is southern fiction set in the 1970s in the Mississippi River Delta of Arkansas. My novel includes many of the characteristics of southern literature beyond the specific setting, including the importance of family dynamics, a sense of social class and justice, the role of the land, and the function of religion. The protagonist, ten-year-old Gracie Lee Abbott, is precocious and mature for her age. She longs for something bigger and grander that the life in front of her. The story follows approximately a year and a half of her life, which begins rather unassumingly and becomes more serious as she becomes involved in a mystery and a family decision.
How did the story evolve?
This book began as a series of blog posts about my life as a child growing up in Northeast Arkansas. It’s true what they say, write what you know. Northeast Arkansas and farming and being a farmer’s daughter is what I know, so my fictional story naturally evolved from truth.
Tell us about your background.
As I said, I grew up in Mississippi County, Arkansas, which is located in the northeast corner of the state. I come from a long line of Arkansas farmers. My mother still farms and lives in the house I grew up in, which I consider rather unique. I love to return home as often as I can and I’m passionate about the Delta.
I attended college at Baylor University in Waco, received a degree in Economics, and ended up in Dallas where I lived and worked as a banker until I moved back to Arkansas about two years ago. Now my husband and I live in Fayetteville.
While I have no formal training in writing, I’ve always loved to write and read. Like many people, I always planned to someday write a book. Finally, the time seemed right to go for it. I began a blog—Grace Grits and Gardening. I gradually developed regular freelance clients including Arkansas Farm Bureau, Delta Crossroads, First Security Bank, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. And I began writing my book.
What’s the significance of the book title? Is it a book about religion?
It isn’t a book about religion per se, but it’s set in the South and, as you know, religion is a strong southern influence—often viewed both as a burden and a reward. Church is part of Gracie Lee’s week. Due to the day-to-day goings on in her family, she often questions the teachings of the church and digs deeper for answers. And while the traditional religious definition of salvation provides a theme for the book, salvation for Gracie Lee comes in various ways.
What do you hope people take away from your story?

If readers remember something from their own childhoods, that would make me happy. I hope to paint a picture of farming in the Delta—the hard work involved, the importance, the all encompassing nature of the lifestyle. I hope people see a little of themselves in Gracie Lee and realize we are all more alike than different.

Where can we buy your book?
Join me at one of my upcoming book signings!
April 2: WordsWorth Books (Little Rock) 3-4:30
April 9: Paper Chase Books (Batesville) 12-2:00
April 10: Barnes & Noble (Jonesboro) 1-3:00
The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is also available at Barnes & Noble stores and select independent bookstores. On-line the book can be ordered via Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Signed limited hardback editions are available through the publisher, Southern Yellow Pine, at
Social Media Links:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Google+  |  Instagram  | Bloglovin’  | Contently  |  Linkedin

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved

Arkansas Writers, Memoir


Today’s guest post is by someone I got acquainted with online through mutual writer friends before we ever met face-to-face at Hemingway Pfeiffer. I think you’ll enjoy getting acquainted with her, too. 

Here’s Jane

Jane Gatewood lives in Rector, Arkansas, a retirement oasis in Northeast Arkansas: peace and solitude within a small farming community. “It’s a marvelous place, especially after an extensive career in the Memphis, Tennessee, area,” Jane shares. An English and journalism teacher spending her final eighteen years as a high school administrator, Jane finds retirement a remarkable adventure. Always having enjoyed writing and with an early retirement goal of participation in the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Educational Center located 10 miles north of Rector in Piggott, AR, Jane found these retreats to be inspirational and filled with new learning. It was at those workshops and retreats that the flame was fanned, and she was encouraged to write for more than pleasure.

See Jane Write

Jane has self-published two books. One is a memoir, told with a pen name because she sought anonymity that never materialized. She says that were she to write it again, she’d tell the stories differently. Taking the chance on writing such a personal and candid memoir came with a price. Because so many people said, “Jane, you’ve got to write a book. So many women would be encouraged by your story,” she did exactly that. The title is Sunrise in a Lemon Sky, published through Crossbooks, a division of Lifeway. Crossbooks abandoned publishing services in 2015. The book received good reviews for the most part because the outcome is positive and the stories are engaging with one chapter’s events leading the reader into the next. The book honors God’s activity in her life.

            Sunrise in a Lemon Sky chronicles twenty years of ups and downs, crisis and triumph. The story of infertility, adoption, ovarian cancer, betrayal and finding the next love is told with candor. God’s divine guidance is woven throughout the memoir. Included are quotes, scriptures, reflection topics, and recipes, chapter by chapter.
Jane used the pen name E. J. Gordon (Ella Jane Gordon) for the memoir. She was Jane’s great grandmother. E. J. Gordon’s strength provided inspiration to survive and to write, telling the story to encourage other women facing trials and heartache. Ella Gordon was a devout Christian who remained resolute and humble in her own trials. She followed the concepts of duty, obligation, and held fast to the understanding that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

The second book is a family history told in the creative non-fiction style. Eighteen months of research and decades of living among many family members culminated in the book and accompanying CD (PDF files, Ancestry files, more photos, family recipes, etc). This family history was written to combine the genealogy from family members and breathe new life into names and dates on a timeline. The House on Harrison Street title references not only “house” as a physical residence but “house” as family, as the Bard of Avon once penned. The house located at 134 Harrison is the generational home. Jane’s brother and she were the last of the Gordon-Ritchie children to live there; they are the last family members with first-hand knowledge of the stories belonging to the house.

  The House on Harrison Streetwas written to assure that the family story will not vanish. No one, prior to publication of this book, knows the whole story, and there is still much that will not be told. Cousins knew some of the story, Jane knew another portion of the story, and together, the stories were written from these facts and memories. The three portions follow relatives from the Virginia colony to south Arkansas from 1620 in colonial Virginia to Camden, Arkansas, in 1959, when the house on Harrison Street was no more. The Gordon and Ritchie families played a significant role in the history of Camden and Ouachita County, Arkansas.

 The House on Harrison Streetis dedicated to all the family members who shared life and love within the hallways of the family home located on a prominent corner in Camden, Arkansas. With great love, it is dedicated to the author’s mother, Margaret Horne Dansby, and grandmother Mildred Gordon Horne. The women in the family provided the central focus of the book – so many named Jane. “I thought my parents named me Margaret Jane because Jane was an easy to spell middle name with a first name of Margaret. What I learned is that Jane is a noble family name that I’m honored to carry: Jane Elizabeth Tooke Gordon, Jane McBride Campbell Ritchie, Ella Jane Ritchie Gordon, Janie Louise Gordon, Jane Horne. I am the last Jane.”

Everybody has a story to tell.  Some have several. Those who choose to do so through writing take a huge leap of faith. Both books carry personal information and insight along with lessons learned.

Publishing Information

Publishing with Crossbooks was an expensive mistake. While it is a beautiful book, it is no longer available from this publisher or on Amazon because Crossbooks sent me my manuscript back, but their cover, etc. was unavailable. I’ve republished it through createspace with a different internal structure and a different cover.
    I paid for internal setup with createspace for The House on Harrison Street. It’s  important that the book have a professional appearance.
    Both books are available through the author at
Sunrise in a Lemon Sky is $12 with $3 for shipping.
The House on Harrison Street is $20 with $5 for shipping.
                                Jane Gatewood – 154 N Woodland Heights Dr – Rector, AR  72461

Check out Jane’s blog, Lemon Pie Sunshine at

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved