Although I was the sort of student at Elementary School (1954-1962) who clapped when the teacher gave a written assignment, I did not enter the profession of writing until after I retired as a school teacher in 1999. Before that time my need to create and record information was met daily through my numerous tasks in the classroom. I was also hired on several occasions to write units of study, newsletters, and lesson plans. All this was done along with written preparations and term papers assigned for the three college degrees I completed. This also served to meet my needs while leaving little time for other kinds of writing.
It was on a fluke that I responded to a small ad for a writer in a local newspaper in 2007. I was hired on the spot after the editor looked at samples of my writing. I went on to work for the Knoxville Journal Newspaper until it closed in 2014.
Along the way, I also wrote ten books. Most are local history. Two are sizzling novels. After the newspaper closed, area writers began hiring me to help edit their manuscripts—a job I still do on occasions.
My grandmother used to say, “It is not bragging if you are stating facts.” My books have sold all around the world in many countries and on six continents. One of my books, “Watermelon for Everyone,” was judged as the “Best Cookbook in the World About Watermelon” in 2014 from Gourmand Magazine in Madrid, Spain. According to my blog, most of my fans live in France, England and Spain.
It was during a visit with my second cousin (by marriage) LaShawn Baxter that the thought popped into my mind that we should record the history of Leoma. She readily agreed and we took off on this journey and have not looked back.
The writer’s approach to how a book or story is written is known as “The Voice.” For a writer, figuring out which voice to use in order to tell your story is a huge part of the book and can make it or break it.
The Voice can be third person, meaning an omnipotent, Magic Man or Woman in the Sky, who knows not only all the actions, but also the thoughts and motives of each person in the story. This method is frequently used by those writing mysteries or dramas and also by those writing history.
An autobiographical approach is also used by many writers who set out to tell the events he/she witnessed. In this approach, the history of the place and events surrounding it, is told through the eyes of a person who lived it. Many say this is the best kind of history, but even those of us who attended the same event will come away with a different version of what happened. History can be confusing. This autobiographical approach was the one used by Cenith Freemon, a writer who recorded a history of Leoma, as she saw history through the lives of her relatives. It is a typical and quite useful writing method.
Simply assembling maps, photos, post cards, letters, newspaper articles, and other historic documents in some kind of chronological order is another way to approach the task of accurately recording history. This method is expected as most folks think. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
For our history book about Leoma, we are using both the assembling and the autobiographical methods. We are telling history through images and the written work of others while including memories of our families.
As our manuscript grows we have found that we need help with specific data. We are asking for anyone who might have documents or photos for any of the topics on the following list to please contact LaShawn Baxter at the Lawrence County Advocate or stop by the Lawrence County Archives and Kathy Neidergeses will scan your copies and return to you.
Martha Rose Woodward e mail Sunspherebook@aol.com
Family photos; group school photos, photos of Leoma Elementary School from 1950s to 1970s.
Photos of any and all former buildings located in Leoma and historic homes in Leoma.
Photos of any churches, inside and out, located in Leoma.