Thursday, April 24, 2008


In 1998 THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN won the National Storytelling Competition. At that time. THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN consisted of Carrie, Jenny and me. We won a Waterford Crystal Clock and $2000. Of course, $2000 divided 3 ways is not a lot of money but we were thrilled nonetheless. The celebrity judge that year was Jim May. That is, also, the first time we met our precious mentor, Lyn Ford. We competed against Bruce Smith of Yelm, Washington; Carol Milligan of Westerville, Ohio; Jim Flanagan of Circleville, Ohio; and Kathy Blair of Jonesborough, Tennessee.

The next year we were invited back to be judges. We met and got to know Bobby Norfolk. What a delightful guy. He gave us some tips on "what comes next" in the storytelling world.

Since that time we have performed many times in Hillsboro in schools and churches. It is a lovely little community. There no longer is a National Storytelling Competition. That's kinda sad since it was a great opportunity for storytellers to showcase themselves. Charlene Tarr and Jeanie Snap did an excellent job putting the whole thing together. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I love telling the story THE PATCHWORK COAT. It is the first story that I wrote about my family. My Aunt Louise had told me so many stories about her childhood that I wanted to share with the world. THE PATCHWORK COAT is a familiar tale about a poor Appalachian family, in this case, my own, who could not afford to purchase a coat for one of their children so the mother made one out of pieces of worn clothing. Dolly Parton wrote a similar tale and made it into a song called THE COAT OF MANY COLORS. There is, also, a book called THE RAG COAT by Lauren Mills. I was surprised at how many similarities that our family story and these others have in common. Our story is about my grandmothers struggle making ends meet after my grandfather was killed in a mining accident. She was left with 9 children to raise alone in the depression era. She made the coat for my Aunt Louise who was second from the oldest. The story is, also, about bullying and how mean words can injure a child more than fists. But it is a redemptive story. Peace is made and my Aunt Louise becomes a hero. In this story I combined the truth of the actual story with my imagination and the art of embellishment. When I retell the story it often makes me cry. I can see my little granny working morning to night, by scrubbing floors and taking in ironing's, to provide for her family. I wonder, did she ever have time for fun? Did she ever have a day "just to relax"? Was she ever discouraged? Was she ever lonely? Whatever the case, she raised those nine children all by herself. She, my friends, is what HERO is all about. KATIE KANE VINCEN COBB MILLER, my granny, my hero.

Monday, April 21, 2008


In 1999 through 2003 THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN performed in the West Virginia State Park system. Have you ever heard of Kumbrabow? It is a lovely park in the middle of nowhere, WV. After you leave the hard road there is still miles of gravel road to travel until you reach the dirt road. We performed in a garage with, sometimes, 6 to 10 people there. But the ranger in charge loved us so we went back every year.

One park had, apparently, heard nasty rumors about us before we even got there. Check out the picture on the left. RABIES WARNING...THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN are coming!

Often times towns, like Farmington, WV, would roll out the red carpet for THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN. It was always such a compliment.

On our way to Tomlinson State Park we encountered a terrible storm. Rain, hail, winds and darkness was everywhere. After the storm passed by we stopped to take a picture (right picture) of the unusual sky. When we got home we sent it to a metorogist and were told that it was an "after tornado" sky.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


In the 16 years that I have been a professional storyteller I have had the privilege of meeting many wonderful people both on and off stage. It is unbelievable how people open their hearts and lives to you through story. Here a just a few of the story "STARS" the MT. WOMEN have had the honor of sharing a stage with.


We met Lyn in 1998 at the National Storytelling Contest. We loved her from the start. She kinda took us under her wing and advised us on the professional side of storytelling. Through the years she has proved to be a dear and treasured friend. I, honestly, believe Lyn is one of the best tellers of story around. We truly love her.


Having the honor of performing with Donald Davis in Pittsburgh, PA was a true highlight for us. I remember hearing him laugh as I told the my "Dracula" story and thinking, "Wow, Donald Davis thought I was funny!" I believe Donald may have been one the first professional storytellers that I had ever seen. That was back in 1988. He is truly a storyteller extraordinaire.


Dan is one the loveliest men in storytelling. We especially loved his tales about his relationship with his grandmother. He, also, sings, plays the guitar, banjo and spoons. He is a lovely balladeer. Dan is a special kinda guy.


Lee is a storytelling character in real life. He has been in the storytelling business for years and years and years...I believe he was one of the major organizers in starting the CORN ISLAND FESTIVAL in Louisville, KY. He is a very nice gentleman.


You talk about a hoot! These girls are wonderful! Although they are separate tellers, they both hail from the big state of Texas. They are both excellent at storytelling. We often met up with them at Jonesborough to have lunch and catch up on their lastest endeavors. We love these girls.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


When Carrie went back to teaching in 2005, Annie joined the Mt. Women to be Mama's new "girlie". Ann has an automatic wit and will do about anything for a good laugh. One problem! Ann has motion sickness! What is it with my me and all these regurgitating women? Could it be my driving? Surely not.

Ann is the owner of Riptide Grooming in St. Albans where she lives with her husband, Emmet. In her spare time (that's a laugh, right there) she is a professional clown for parties and events. She has a brand new grand baby boy, Lance, from her son Grant and his wife, Tammy. Her daughter, Cara, is a junior student at Marshall. Her oldest daughter, Anna, went to be with Jesus in 2003 after a car accident. Ann's faith in God has sustained through this terrible tragedy.


Carrie and Mama have traveled the most together. Carrie was the business part of the Mt. Women and Mama was the creative part. We worked so well together. Carrie was such an asset to the business. She was brilliant at publicity. She made all of our brochures, business cards, invoices, etc. She sent out mailers and feelers to get responses from potential customers. We went everywhere together along with her youngin's, Elizabeth, Christian and Courtney. The kids were a lot of fun and delightful to travel with. Courtney had a problem with motion sickness and once, when we had a performance at the Greenbrier, she threw up right in front of the Hotel's front door.

Carrie is now teaching at Teays Valley Christian School. She lives in Scott Depot, WV with Kent, her wonderful husband, and Courtney. Elizabeth is currently attending WVU and Christian is studying Architecture at UK.


The three of us traveled together for about 5 years. The problem was Jenny kept having babies! Traveling with a pregnant lady can get stressful for her...and for us. I think Jen has been "sick" on about every highway in WV and some in KY. Poor kid, she was really a trooper. She now lives in Quinwood, WV with her husband, Tim, and 6 youngin's, Brenna, Elyse, Garrett, Aiden, Evan and Marin.


We had no idea what we were doing when we first started out but we, surely, did have lots of fun.

Sandy is married to my son, Shannon. He is a pastor in Atlanta. They live there with my wonderful grandchildren, Emily and Michael.


Land ‘o Goshen, where do I begin? From the beginning of my life I have always had a love for West Virginia, it’s people and it’s culture. It is more than my home; it is in essence an integral part of me. I am West Virginia and Appalachia is in my heart. So in 1994 I was working at the South Charleston Public Library as the Children’s Assistant. The scheduled summer reading program for that year was “SPIN A YARN, TELL A TALE”. My first thought was wouldn’t it be wonderful for the children of our area to experience stories from our heritage. I spoke with the Library Director, Pam Coyle, and the Children’s Director, Linda Heddinger, and they encouraged me to create the program myself. I asked my daughter-in-love, Sandy, and our dear friend, Jenny Robinson, to join me as Appalachian Storytellers. Both Sandy and Jenny had always been very gifted in working with the children of our church. I would do all the collecting and writing of stories and the girls would add their wonderful humor in our practice sessions…BINGO! It worked. We presented our program to local libraries and the word spread fast throughout our state of THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN.
Then, shucks, less than a year later my son, Shannon, Sandy’s husband, accepted a position at a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. That left me 250 miles away from my son, my daughter-in-love, my grandbabies and it left THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN without a “yarn spinner”. Replacing Sandy was going to be difficult. She was brilliant at adlib and added such a spark to our trio. I let it be known in my area that I was searching for a new Mt. Woman. Several ladies spoke with me about filling the part but no one seemed to fit.
Our church, the Maranatha Fellowship, is a large church for our area. It has a congregation of around 1800. Our Pastor, James Wright, is a dynamic speaker and visionary. We have a Praise and Worship team consisting of 6 to 10 excellent singers. One Sunday after worship one of those singers, named Carrie Newman, approached me about being a Mt. Woman. I didn’t mean to be harsh in anyway but I giggled and said, “Not you, Carrie, you’re too prissy.” And Carrie was, I thought! Her auburn hair, flashing eyes and mile wide grin made her the most striking member of our Praise Team. Never a hair out of place…dressing like she just stepped out of Vogue…and she wanted to be a MOUNTAIN WOMAN! I think not. Carrie said she felt that God had told her she was to be a MOUNTAIN WOMAN and would I; at least, allow her to read a part. I agreed to having her run through a couple of stories with Jenny and me at a practice and it was love at first cite! She was wonderful. Carrie had actually been born in North Carolina but was raised most of her life in the hills of West Virginia. She attended Cumberland College in Cumberland, KY and graduated with a teaching degree. Even though Carrie, Jenny and I had long ago lost our mountain accents, through education and travel, it was so much a part of us that we fell into it naturally. We were truly mountain women. In 1998 Carrie, Jenny and Mama, with Sandy sitting in the audience, THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN, won the NATIONAL STORYTELLING CONTEST in Hillsboro, OH.
We were on “Cloud nine”…then came the problem with Jenny. She just kept havin’ youngin’s! (Six at last count) Try as we might, we could not stop her! After regurgitating her way though 6 states, Jenny had had enough.
Carrie and Mama, the old woman and her “prissy” daughter, became the tandem storytelling team THE MOUNTAIN WOMEN.
Ann Busse joined the group in 2005 when Carrie began teaching fulltime and traveled only part time as a Mt.Woman. Ann is a natural born comedian and character. Since Ann owns her own dog grooming business and does clowning on the side she fit right into the scheme of things.
Today MOUNTAIN WOMEN performance consists of Mama and Carrie or Ann. Mama, also, performs alone, telling family stories told to her by her dear, 95 year old, Aunt Louise, about her life growing up in Wild and Wonderful, Almost Heaven West Virginia