By Don Benjamin

Contributing writer

Local author, Carolyn White, has written two books with a third one on the way in time for Christmas. Eventually, she plans to write as many as 10 books in her “Trucks are for Girls” series.

Born and raised in Marietta, Ohio, she graduated from Ohio University with degrees in English and creative writing. Then she had the inspiration to attend a wilderness survival school in faraway Idaho. She went to work in the backcountry and began writing about her experiences.

“My life has revolved around horses, piano, reading and writing,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and started with hand-written stories in a colored paper notebook. I also used to sit at Dad’s ancient manual typewriter, wearing one of his 1950s style hats, and pretend to be a reporter.”

After completing her degree in Ohio, her goal was to go to graduate school and teach college-level English while writing on the side.

“That plan,” she recalled, “was nipped in the bud when I discovered there was such a thing as a wilderness guide school, where one could learn to be a guide, mule packer and cook. The rest is history: I loaded up my childhood horse, headed to Idaho, passed the course and went straight into the backcountry, working for outfitters. Landing a job on a primitive, isolated guest ranch helped get my writing career off the ground. In the evenings after the wood cookstove had been shut down and the guests went off to bed, I would sit at a desk in my cabin and write by candlelight. There was plenty of peace and quiet, something writers truly need. After dozens of rejections, however, I started getting discouraged. Finally, it dawned on me.”

She decided to write about a topic that she was immersed in — something that few people knew about — something that hadn’t been written before.

“Enter the idea of taking my budding skills and doing a step-by-step, photo-by-photo, article on how-to pack a mule. Thinking big, I mailed the idea off to an editor at Western Horseman, my favorite magazine. He bit immediately. He was also patient with the time it took to get the finished manuscript and photos to him.”

Carolyn was living in the middle of nowhere. Mail was delivered once a week by airplane in summer and twice a month during winter. Every picture she took with a vintage Pentax camera had to be sent away to be developed.

“I would take pictures, ship them off on the mail plane, get them back weeks later, find out one or two of the photos was out of focus, and have to start the process all over again! But when the stories finally came out in the summer of 1986, I got paid a whopping $400. Plus, I officially had a writing resume to present to the next editor.”

Soon she sold stories to other periodicals including Sports Afield and The Ladies’ Home Journal. The writing was enjoyable and profitable, which was a good thing since the extra income helped her keep her two horses fed. She spent two decades writing and roughing it — including seven years totally off the grid — until the severe winters of central Idaho led her to look for a new home.

“After spending a winter in Hawaii to warm up, I moved to the Western Slope of Colorado. And it’s here that my writing career has flourished.”

She submitted a story about working as a female mule skinner to the Western Slope Fence Post, a weekly periodical which features reader-written stories. The editor loved her piece.

“Eleven more stories later, he offered me a column, and ‘Living the Good Life’ was born. For five years, I contributed one story a week about anything from hanging laundry outside to cooking on a woodstove to horseback riding —whatever was going on in my life. When it got too much to come up with new stuff, I asked if I could start doing agricultural reporting. Instead, I got permission to do whatever I wanted! So, for the next seven years, I tracked down subjects of interest to me, including exotic breeds of horses and dogs, historical sites, artisans, all sorts of things. And I got to meet and interview some of the coolest people in the universe!”

She spent 12 years with the Fence Post and also became a frequent contributor to other state and regional magazines.

“Finally, in 2017, after endless miles of travel, half a dozen notebooks crammed with interview notes, thousands of pictures, and occasionally, some head-butting with editors, I said ‘enough’ and turned to book writing. The best place to start was with the bits that had been most popular in the column, those that had revolved around the years I spent living a primitive lifestyle in Idaho.”

She describes her first two books, “Bricks Underneath a Hoop Skirt” and “Trucks Are for Girls” as “tongue-in-cheek, educational and easy-reading stories about horses, dogs, wildlife, everyday fumbles and the challenges and joys of living off-grid.” Her third book — “Like a Swarm of Locusts” — is due out this month.

“The goal is to remain light-hearted and funny in each chapter, giving readers a chance to curl-up with something pleasant during these especially stressful times.”

Carolyn White’s books can be purchased through her website: unleashedpublishingco.com Her newest book was designed and formatted by Elevation Press, a Cedaredge-based service which helps independent authors by creating book covers and preparing their manuscripts for publication. For information on Elevation Press, visit elevationspress.com

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