Catch the Spirit of Appalachia
                      "Keeping Appalachian Heritage Alive"

Writing Lessons

With Amy Ammons Garza, Mountain Storyteller
2016 "Writing From the Heart" Series

Amy is teaching creative writing at Southwestern Community College in Jackson County and Macon County. Classes have not been scheduled for the Spring session. Check back for the Summer session.

To find out more information and/or enroll for Amy's classes, call Jenny C. Williams at 828-339-4497, ext. 4497, or email her at:

All people have a story; all people, deep down, would like to be remembered.
To write from the heart takes bravery and a purpose. And so, from the heart, I wrote the stories of my family—stories from tales taken from seven generations of Western North Carolina people—as told by Retter, my grandmother, Cannie, my mother, and Sterlen, my uncle who carried on the stories of the women in our family.  

Years ago when I was away from home (Jackson County), and I first began to write my novels, I was a member of a writing critique group, Northwest Indiana’s Writers Group, in Crown Point, Indiana. At the time I was a student at Purdue University Calumet, with a full focus on creative writing. As I wrote each chapter of my first novel, “Retter,” I would read the chapters to my fellow NW Indiana writers. It was of enormous help to me, to hear my own words read aloud, and then to get feed back from those I respected.
    When I began to receive writing awards throughout Purdue’s long reach in the state of Indiana, I began to also receive notice from the news media. Encouraged to speak in front of community groups and then in front of younger students in Purdue’s English Department, I discovered that it takes more to being a “writer” than just to write. Public speaking was sort of forced upon me, and that’s when I discovered that people liked to listen to my “stories.” My professor and my editor kept pushing me to carry this “speaking thing” just a little further...and thus, I evolved into a “mountain story teller,” for all my writing was about my home in the Great Smoky Mountains.
    Twenty-seven years ago, I returned home to begin “Catch the Spirit of Appalachia” along with my sister, Doreyl Ammons Cain. Our focus has been and will always be to draw attention to the fact that we must honor those who came before us and the heritage they left for us to pass on. My sister and I make great partners, for as I tell the story, she spontaneously illustrates it. We do performances all over North and South Carolina, and beyond. Separately, she teaches art to her art students at her home and I teach creative writing to aspiring authors in my home.
    My purpose in teaching creative writing is to provide a safe and open environment to speak from the heart. Everything that I have learned in the writing field over the years, I pour into my students.

Personal Concept. The flame in the dark is the breath of story lighting the way from one generation to the next. It is up to each of us to pass along and keep the flame burning. The heritage of our great area has now become the driving force of a huge tourist industry. What people want is authenticity... the real story. They want to read and hear stories about those who have started with little, struggled, persevered and accomplished a dream. These are the true heroes of our times. This is why I write.

Writer.  Everyone is unique. As a "teller of mountain ways," I write from what I have learned growing up in North Carolina. I write from a particular view of experience coupled with listening to others' wants and needs as I interview. As a feature writer and editor for the regional paper "Fun Things to do in the Mountains," I write articles that help readers to understand the uniqueness of our area, to care about the subject(s) of the article, and to inspire readers to seek out the business represented.

I am teaching creative writing at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. To enroll for the class, call Jenny C. Williams at 828-339-4497, ext. 4497, or email her at:

One on One—Many people have come to me with a manuscript they have been working on or have completed. For a minimal fee I will read it and give my opinion. If the writer is interested in working with me on a one-to-one basis, for an hourly fee, I will schedule times to go over the manuscript line by line, page by page. What both learn from these sessions is immeasurable.

Planting Words to Grow an everlasting crop!






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