Monday, June 10, 2013

Meet Jo Huddleston - How The Caney Creek Series Came to Be

While Jo Huddleston's piece isn't exactly a how-to, I learned a number of things and made mental notes as I read: 1) write story ideas down--as detailed as possible. 2) Pray! 3) Don't give away any of my writing books. 4) Pray. 5) Be peaceful, patient and faithful. 6) Pray! 7) Never give up! 8) Pray! Jo has more than 200 articles and short stories in more than fifty different publications. I hope her Be A Real Writer contribution inspires you

Note: Jo will give away a copy of Beyond the Past so leave a comment to be included in the drawing. Please leave your email address.

How The Caney Creek Series Came to Be

The setting of the Caney Creek Series is the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I’ve listened to older generations tell stories at family reunions about time before telephones and automobiles. Their stories fascinated me and caused me to want to write about a time before I was born.

This story began to percolate in my mind in the late 1990s. I’m what writers call a panster type of writer. I don’t outline my plot on paper. My entire plot and characters simmer in my mind before I write a word.

 While this story still rumbled around in my mind, in 2001 I received a life altering health diagnosis with a negative prognosis. My first symptom was the loss of penmanship that nobody, even I, could read. Then I began to have involuntary muscle spasms that prevented me from holding my fingers on the home keys of a keyboard. I couldn’t write and couldn’t type—this was before speak-to-type.

I thought my writing career had vanished. I cleaned out my files—even trashed all my rejection letters I’d been saving. I gave away most of my writing craft books.

My mind was still intact but my body wouldn’t do what it was told. My balance while walking started to diminish and I quit going to writing conferences. My doctor advised me not to drive. I was dependent on my family to even get to my doctor’s appointments and still am.

In 2008, I began to improve. My hands were steadier and I could get my story started.

I’ve outlived my doctor’s prognosis by two years. I’ve finished the second of a 3-book contract and feel fine other than fatigued when I don’t stop to rest now and then. Fatigue brings on more unsteadiness in my hands and legs.

From 2001 to 2008 I had a lot of time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned, “God, why me?” I have not become bitter because of the health issues. I think God just gave me time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive. I’m a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me.

Book 1 in the series, That Summer, hibernated for seven years, and then became a story on paper. When I finished That Summer, I thought I had accomplished my goal. However, I found I couldn’t leave my characters in some of their situations. I had to write at least one more book about them. Book 2, Beyond the Past, came to be. I’m now writing Book 3, in the Caney Creek Series, Claiming Peace, scheduled to release in September 2013.

Jo Huddleston's debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012 as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Beyond the Past is Book 2 in the series. Huddleston holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Professional membership: American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Visit Jo at her website:  and her blog:

 You can purchase Caney Creek series books at the following links:

Signed copies available in left sidebar of Jo's blog:

Paperback copies available at publisher’s site:


Jo Huddleston said...

Jess, thanks so much for having me visit with you readers. I'll read along with them and comment as well.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't know the mountains of Tennessee, but I grew up at the foothills of the Ozarks in Arkansas so probably recognize some of the same kinds of folks.

Jo Huddleston said...

Charles, I guess mountain people are mountain people wherever the mountains are. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.