Monday, October 9, 2017

Interview with Jane Shewmaker Hale, President of Ozark Writers, Inc.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting interviews with contributors of Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V, the organization responsible for the Mysteries of the Ozarks series.

First up are ten questions for Jane Shewmaker Hale, author, entrepreneur, and president of Ozark Writers, Inc.

1. Can you briefly tell us a little bit about you--your personal background, professional       background, writing accomplishments, etc.?

My late husband Bob and I have four sons, ten grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. I reside on the Hale family farm in Buffalo, Missouri, where I’m an active partner in our family businesses, including Hale Fireworks  I’m a columnist for "Buffalo...As I Remember it" in the County Courier. I’ve published a YA series of mysteries: Wonderland in 1997, Heartland in 1999, Foreverland in 2001, and Boomland, in 2003. My other books are Every Day Is Mother’s Day and Every Day Is Father’s Day. I’ve also published numerous short stories in anthologies.

2. What can you tell us about the history of Ozark Writers, Inc.?

 In August 2001 Ellen Gray Massey, Vicki Cox, Shirleen Sando, Carolyn Gray Thornton, Betty Cracker Henderson, and I formed Ozark Writers, Inc., a nonprofit organization with a 501c3 status. Our purpose was to encourage and promote writers from the Ozark region to publish their works and to educate and expand the reading public to the literature of the Ozarks. We held workshops in Missouri, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Settle, Washington. In 2003, the first volume of Mysteries of the Ozark was published with 19 short stories by authors from the Ozarks.  In the fall of  2017, the fifth volume of Mysteries of the Ozark will be available, featuring 19 authors from the Ozarks.

3.  What inspired you to continue the legacy of OWI begun by Ellen Gray Massey?

From the beginning, I served as President of Ozark Writers, Inc. Ellen Gray Massey was our mentor. We learned to encourage others as she encouraged us. Our writing is stronger because of her insistence for perfection. As we traveled to conferences, we reread aloud from our writing. Ellen, pen in hand, noted corrections. Today, as I write, I imagine her watching over my shoulder, pen in hand, reminding me of her teachings. She spent a lot of effort compiling the first four volumes of Mysteries of the Ozarks. Ellen and I talked about Volume V before her passing.

I believe she would be pleased we were continuing her legacy.

4. The Mysteries of the Ozarks anthology is now on volume five. How did you solicit stories for this issue of the popular anthology?

In the fall of each year, I attend Ozark Creative Writers conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There’s a lot of talent gathered at that conference. In 2016, I felt it was time to compile stories for Volume 5.  I mentioned to some attendees that I was open for submissions. Some authors who had been published in the anthologies before expressed interest. Others, I piqued their interest. Before the conference was over I felt I had the essence of the book.

5. How did the submission, editing, and publishing processes work?

After I returned home from the conference, submissions began to arrive. I solicited a few other authors from the area. By the first of the year, I had the magic number 19. I was fortunate to have Vicki Cox, a member of the original board, and Donna Volkenannt join the board and serve as editors. We had worked together before as members of the Missouri Writers Guild. Three former Presidents of MWG made for a good editing team. High Hill Press was the original publisher. Circumstances required us to move the anthology to Goldminds Publishing.

6. I love the cover. Who was the photographer, and where the photo was taken?

The cover is a beautiful barn photograph taken by Melba Prossor Shewmaker of Bentonville, Arkansas. She is an accomplished photographer, whose hobby is photographing old barns. She has published a collection of those photographs. (See dedication in book for more.) The black and white photo is striking. It was made, more so, by a mock up done by Donna Volkenannt. Her version featured blood red font to entice the reader to enter the pages of mystery.

7. What can you tell us about some of the contributors in MOTO V?

Each story is unique in the telling from the computer of Robert Vaughan, who has published over 400 books or more. Western writers like Johnny Boggs, Dusty Richards, multiple WWA spur award winners. Terry Alexander, Mike Koch, Lonnie Whitaker, McKenrdee (Mike) Long, Micki Fuhrman, Brenda Brinkley, and Donna Volkenannt, who were attendees at OCW. Marilyn K Smith, a columnist for Reflex Newspapers in Buffalo, MO. Larry Woods and his father Ben, who share the honors with their story. Barri Bumgarner, Mitch Hale, Regina Williams Riney, Vicki Cox, Carolyn Gray Massey, and myself. And, of course, the cover artist, Melba Prossor Shewmaker.

8. What kinds of stories are included in MOTO V?

As the title denotes, they are mysteries. But, oh, the variety. The anthology includes: time travel, old west, fantasy, horror, nostalgia, romance, and humor. Each story is unique and entertaining!

9. Where can readers purchase copies of MOTO V?

From the authors, of course. Goldminds Publishers has excellent distribution ranging from local, area, to international. Watch for them on Amazon and in bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.

10. Anything you’d like to add or final thoughts about OWI, Mysteries of the Ozarks, or anything else?

I’d like to thank everyone who helped make Volume V, Mysteries of the Ozarks possible. Our two local banks, Oakstar and O’Bannon Banking Company donated funds. The authors and copy artist, plus our board and editors, and to Goldminds Publishing Company, our ultimate vehicle to publishing, made it possible.

Thanks, in advance, to readers, who I know will enjoy our anthology.

And, yes, Ellen, I feel you, pen in hand, looking over my shoulder.  


  1. It's wonderful to meet you, Jane! Appreciate you sharing your insight and journey with us. Wishing you well.

    Donna, thanks so much for sharing this interview. You are a wonderful hostess! :)

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thanks for dropping in and for your kind words.

  2. Donna, thanks for interviewing Jane. This was enlightening, and one day I will make it to Eureka Springs for this conference.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I hope to make it next year. It's a scenic location and a beautiful time of year.

  3. Donna--Maybe when Linda makes it to the conference, I will tag along with her. I agree with Jane--the red text makes that cover pop.

    1. Hi Sioux,
      If you decide to go, be sure to enter the contests. It's one of the benefits of going. Thank you, I do like the red lettering on the cover.

  4. Informative interview! I love that cover, and it's nice to know where it came from.

    1. The cover does make an impression, and I agree it's good to know where it came from.

  5. Replies
    1. Hi Mary Nida,
      You are welcome. Hope you enjoyed it!

  6. Having read the stories, I can confirm readers will enjoy this collection. Congratulations to the contributors and editors!


    1. Thanks, Pat. Special thanks for your comments and blurb on the book.

  7. Looking forward to reading it. I know it will be great!


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...