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

Holiday Baking, Memoir, Women of Worth


I have exciting news. One of my stories and the recipe for my Mother’s Nut Pie is included in a publication that’s hot off the presses. 

Although my contribution is just one of many, I’m delighted to be in such good company. Two of my writing friends also have entries in BECOMING WOMEN OF WORTH, Stories of Sugar & Spice, so I’ve already gotten a glimpse into the heartwarming memories Kristen Clark gathered for this collection.

If you enjoy memoirs and like to bake for the holidays, this just might be the book for you. It sells for $12.99, plus postage. But this week, I’m offering it for the Discounted Price of $10, plus postage. Let me know in a FaceBook Message or Comment if you’re interested. Or you can shoot me an email. 


 Here’s an excerpt from my story.

Mother liked to try new recipes and was always on the look out for something tasty to serve. One of her standard offerings, Nut Pie, dates back to the 1970s. This crust-less wonder features a chewy nutty base—think egg whites, sugar, pecans and graham cracker crumbs—topped with a cloud of whipped cream. It’s especially good with coffee in cold weather; although she served it year round.

The only failure with the pie that I know of happened when unexpected company interrupted my Aunt Mary in the middle of mixing one together. I suppose her guests weren’t of the sort she felt free to invite into the kitchen while she finished. Once they were gone, she went back and folded the crumb mixture into the egg whites, hoping for the best. Unfortunately, that best wasn’t so great. I remember her giggles as she told me that pie turned out flat as a flitter…

promise you, my mother’s Nut Pie is a great excuse for a little party. It’s so easy you might want to stir one up for your own gathering.


3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
¾ cup Graham Cracker crumbs (5 crackers)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
Dash of salt
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar and continue beating until very stiff.
Mix graham cracker crumbs and baking powder. Fold into egg white mixture.
Add vanilla, pecans and salt. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  
Chill for 6 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
As Alka-Seltzer, once famously urged:

Try it. You’ll like it. 

Only in this case, you won’t need an antacid.  

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

Acts 2:46b

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2015. All rights reserved

Family History, Greatest Generation, Memoir, Veterans, WWII


Colonel Leslie H. Johnson  
November 3, 1916 – December 28, 2002

If my father-in-law were alive today, he would be 97 years old. Although he’s no longer with us in body, he lives on in our hearts. Colonel Leslie Harold Johnson was a man’s man, who understood integrity and courageous living.
Puppy-Dog Eyes at three

Dad grew up during the depression. As the oldest of four children, he often worked alongside his father at manual labor to help support the family. Through the years, he regaled us with stories of standing chest-deep in a river to move logs to shore, and how at one point, they put newspapers over the walls of their house to keep the wind out.

He and granddad also worked with the CCCs. During that time, Dad was given the nickname Pistol by someone who thought he was from Pistol City. An online article by Teri Maddox of News-Democrat sheds light on the moniker. 

The coal-mining town of Coulterville must have been a rough-and-tumble place in the late 1800s and early 1900s. People called it “Pistol City.”   “I had an uncle who used to talk about who got killed on this street and who got killed on that street,” said Sam White, 70, of rural Coulterville. “He said everybody carried a gun when they came into town at night.” 

Terry’s dad was not a violent gun-toting guy, but he knew how to stand up for himself and for others. At his funeral, a younger friend remarked that even at 86, he had been the most macho man in the congregation. We figured he had heard  lots of Dad’s stories about flying bombers over Europe during WWII, racing cars and in later years, confronting a would-be robber at his travel trailer door by getting the drop on him. 

Because there was no money for college, the Army Air Corps must have looked good to Dad. He was a career airman and made the most of every opportunity that came his way. He retired with the rank of Colonel from the United States Air Force. With all his accomplishments, he never forgot his humble beginnings nor the fact he didn’t have a college education. Both of his boys had that opportunity. 

Dad & Mo around the time they married

Les Johnson could be tough, but he was also tender and affectionate. He adored his wife, Eloise. She had been his secretary, and with a twinkle in his eye, he’d allude to stealing kisses behind the file cabinet. I often think about Dad riding shotgun in our car and how always at some point in the trip, he’d reach back to pat Mo’s knee. 

                              Even when they were octogenarians, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her.                                      
Dad and Mo enjoyed people and socializing. After they retired, they were part of a group that dined out, round danced and traveled across the country in their travel trailers. He was quick to tell a joke and usually engaged others in conversation wherever he found himself.
The Johnson family in the early years — He was proud of his boys, Jerry and Terry.
I feel blessed to have been Dad’s daughter-in-law. I guess you could say we had a mutual admiration society, which speaks volumes, considering I came into the family as a package deal – a divorced mother of two. He and Mo took Gary, Maria and me into their hearts completely, as did the rest of the family. I’m proud to be part of the Johnson clan and its rich heritage.
We miss you, Dad, but your high standards of integrity, courage and love still guide us.
Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment],
but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 Amplified Bible