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.
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 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.
Sunrise in a Lemon Sky is $12 with $3 for shipping.
The House on Harrison Street is $20 with $5 for shipping.
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