Octogenarian Self-Publishes Memoirs
A New Author at 85
Gail Lee Martin taught family memory writing classes for a number of years. During that time, she started writing down her own memories of the 1930s. Some were published in magazines like Kanhistique that covered Kansas history and antiques.
Now, these memories have become a book. Working in collaboration with her daughter, Virginia Allain, a retired librarian, they created My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas.
Read on to learn more about this Kansas author and her book.
Book cover created by daughter, Virginia Allain, for the first edition of My Flint Hills Childhood
Check out the New Paperback Version of My Flint Hills Childhood
It's a budget friendly $10.95 (plus postage) at www.gailmartin.wordpress.com
or connect directly to blurb.com with the preview below.
Preview My Flint Hills Childhood - At the end of the preview, it gives the book ordering information
It Won an Award!
My Flint Hills Childhood
won the 2010
Ferguson Kansas History Book Award.
About the Author - Gail Lee Martin
Gail Martin is an 85-year-old retired Kansas housewife and mother of six. She has written all her life "but just for herself." Gail was 4-H leader for 30 years in Butler County Kansas and led the club in publishing a club newsletter. She won first place as newswriter for the Mother's Art EHU club for three years. In the last twenty years Gail has been published in the Tower Family Book, family histories in the Greenwood and Wilson County Kansas history books as well as Kanhistique, The Golden Years and Schooner magazines.
The author researched and entered Butler County's Historical Essay contest several years and says she just loves to research and write. For example, in 1995, she wrote a fiftieth-anniversary story about the history of The Little Ranger, a doodlebug that ran from Emporia through El Dorado to Winfield and back.
Gail was appointed Kansas Authors Club archivist in 1995 and held that position for ten years.
Discuss the Book at Your Book Club
- Book Club Guide for My Flint Hills Childhood
Treat your book club to a homespun memoir that readers compare to Little House on the Prairie. Here are discussion questions and suggestions you can tailor for your group.
Gail's Book Was Also Entered in a Contest at Blurb Books - Over 300 went to the site to preview her book one week during the contest
Gail Lee Martin's Second Book Is Now Out
Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times
This book covers the life of Gail Martin's husband with descriptions of his school days, growing up on a Central Kansas farm and profiles of his parents and other family members. Her daughters, Cynthia Jo Ross details Clyde Martin's years in oil field work and Virginia Allain contributes several essays about Clyde's sense of humor and his retirement years.
The table of contents is available online. That will give you an idea of what you will read in the book.
Photos of Gail Lee Martin from Vintage to More Recent Ones
Gail Martin's Writing - Her Websites
- You can preview 15 pages of Gail's book at her Author Site. Learn more about the author. Read an excerpt from the book: Jolly Was a Badger.
- Gail also posted her stories and poetry online. You can read those at Gail's Essays and Poems on Our Echo (A family memory writing site).
- Fans of Gail Lee Martin can get updates and see photos at Gail's Fan Page on Facebook.
More About the Author
At 85, Gail Martin's memories go back a long ways. She remembers living in oil field camp housing, wearing dresses made from feed sack material in the 1930s, trips to town in the family's Model A, raising her pet badger, and fishing on the Cottonwood River. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren value her memories of childhood days during the Great Depression.
Martin started recording them some years ago and isn't finished yet getting later memories of her life onto paper. Now her childhood memories of the Depression years have become a book. The title, My Flint Hills Childhood, plus the vintage family photo on the cover entices the reader into her homespun memoir.
Martin even taught others how to write about their family memories. A number of years, she led classes in that topic at the Shepherd Center in Wichita. "I made myself write something for each assignment that I gave the class," Martin confessed, feeling that she had to set a good example for participants. She found an additional audience for her writing when Kanhistique magazine featured many of them in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last twenty years she has been published in the Tower Family Book, contributed to the Greenwood and Wilson County history books as well as having stories in The Golden Years and Schooner magazines.
The author won the Butler County's Historical Essay contest several times and says she just loves to research and write. In 1995, she wrote a fiftieth-anniversary story about the history of The Little Ranger, a doodlebug that ran from Emporia through El Dorado to Winfield and back. Martin was appointed Kansas Authors Club archivist in 1995 and held that position for ten years.
Although some seniors rest on their laurels, Martin tackled the internet some years back. Her diligence in posting essays and poems on the Our Echo website caught the attention of the web designer for the site. He so greatly appreciated her efforts in encouraging the other writers on Our Echo, that he asked her to serve as the site's webmaster. She selects and changes the Editor's Choice and Featured Comments section of the site's homepage. Another responsibility Martin handles is regularly adding members' postings to the Wall of Fame on the site.
This octogenarian, a resident of El Dorado, has several other books underway. Her daughter, Virginia Allain, converted Martin's written memories into a book at the print-on-demand site, Blurb.com. "Mom's been great about dredging up the old family photos and emailing them to me in New Hampshire for the book," said Allain. At first, Allain thought the book would merely become a treasured family keepsake. "As I arranged the stories and photos, I realized that my mother's memories of the 1930s were both an endearing and valuable snapshot of early days in Kansas," Allain added.
The second book, currently underway, contains Martin's writings about her husband, Clyde Martin. It includes his years of working in the El Dorado oil industry, and his family's history stretching back to Kansas pioneer days. Supplementing Martin's memories for this second book are essays contributed by two of Martin's daughters, Cynthia Ross of Towanda and Virginia Allain.
It seems that Gail Martin's example of writing family memories has spread through the whole family. Last year, her sister, Carol Garriott published her own memories using the lulu.com website. Garriott's book, called Curve of the Coast, covers her life's journey from Greenwood County, Kansas to her current home along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Martin still needs to get more memories onto paper, according to her daughter. "She hasn't written about her wartime job at Boeing or about surviving a rattlesnake bite," said Allain. Allain intends to prod her mother to keep writing. "Mom worries about getting a swelled head from all the attention about the book," reported Allain, "but hopefully it will inspire her to further writing."
Preview the first fifteen pages online, of My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin, at the Blurb Bookstore where it's available in hardback or paperback.
© 2009 Virginia Allain