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Deeply rooted in Appalachia, the essays in Beyond the Apple Orchard offer part memoir, part reflection and part humor- each highlighted with insight and wisdom. Many of Withrow's essays have been previously published in The Jackson Herald and the Charleston Daily Mail. Little wonder. Her chapter on Remembrances is haunting, her Reflections thought provoking, and her Ringside delightfully hilarious. Whether writing about childhood, nature, or human foibles, Withrow captures with style and humor the rhythms of everyday life in Appalachia and beyond.
INSPIRATION CAN COME ANY TIME FOR WRITER, WITHROW'S SECOND ESSAY COLLECTION IS NOW IN STORES
Publication: CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL
Byline: MONICA OROSZ
If you pass by Dolly Withrow while running errands and she seems a little distracted, please forgive her.
She may be composing an essay.
Withrow, a retired teacher, author and columnist for the Daily Mail, said she often gets the germ of an idea while she is going about her daily business.
"Sometimes I'm writing when I grocery shop. I think, 'Now, what angle am I going to take here?' "
Her musings, on everything from her mother's malapropisms to the masks we all wear to life growing up on the West Side, have now filled book No. 2, "Beyond the Apple Orchard," published by Elk River Press.
It follows fairly quickly her 2001 book, "More than Penny Candy."
While Withrow hasn't hit the New York Times bestseller list - just yet - she says she's had pretty good success locally and beyond, and partly because she is willing to shamelessly promote her books and come to any book signing.
"If you're just naturally tacky, you can do that," she said.
Publisher Bill Clements describes the short pieces in Withrow's book as essays. "Rooted in Appalachia, 'Beyond the Apple Orchard' offers part memoir, part reflection, and part humor - each highlighted with insight and wisdom relevant to readers the world over."
"I've hit a chord with people," Withrow said. "One woman in Texas ordered 12 copies. She's never been in West Virginia."
Withrow said a weekly deadline for the Jackson Herald keeps her disciplined in her writing. Her column runs in the Daily Mail monthly and she regularly reads the writings on West Virginia Public Radio.
"Usually I write each morning, the amount of time depending on my schedule, but on Wednesdays I write longer because that's the deadline I've set for myself to finish a column."
Yet Withrow said some essays are more easily completed than others.
"Sometimes I'll stew about a topic for two or three months."
She's learned to keep paper and pen at her nightstand to jot down middle-of-the-night inspiration.
"Sometimes at night, if I don't write it down, it's gone by morning."
Withrow said all of her essays are true - or as she likes to say, some variation of the truth. Family members and friends make their way into essays - with permission, more or less.
"I have a very dear daughter-in-law and she said to me, 'I'm so glad you are not a hard act to follow' and she was talking about my cooking.
"I wrote a column about our family giving a whole new meaning to the word potluck."
Withrow said she ran it by her daughter-in-law.
"She said, 'Just don't use my name.' Well, that was all I needed to hear. I put Pam right in there."
One assumes Pam took it good-naturedly, as does Withrow's husband, Bill, who is her best critic - and honest, telling her when an essay just doesn't grab him.
"He says they sound better in print," she said.
Withrow, while prolific, said writing is hard work for her, "because I want it to be good."
"I could not write what I write if I were not my age," she added.