Call Me Brenda Starr


Above: A sneak outhouse peek. Come back tomorrow for the latest installment in my ongoing and intrepid pursuit of the Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism as I unearth the hidden scandals and secret stories of abandoned outhouses…. I found a new one! See all my outhouse stories here.

When I was a kid, I liked to read the “Brenda Starr” comic strip. Not only was she glamorous and adventurous, she was a writer. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to go to London after college, rent a flat, drive a mini, and have glamorous adventures including men who were tall, dark, and dangerous. (I’d been reading a lot of Harlequin Romances.) So, absolutely none of that happened, but I did get a degree in English and I got my first job as a professional writer–fresh out of college–as the lifestyles editor for a small-town Texas newspaper. My salary was $13,000/year. The girl who had the job before me quit to work the counter at a local drycleaners. She was tired of running around town taking pictures of people’s giant vegetables(!) and writing up garden club reports and obituaries. The drycleaners paid almost as much and it wasn’t busy. She got to read a book a day sitting at the counter.

Lifestyles editor was a glorified title, of course. I did write feature articles and a lifestyles column, but I was also responsible for a plethora of little things from the garden club and the library calendar to wedding, death, and birth announcements. I even pasted up my own section and took the boards to the print room. (I’m sure all this layout is done on computers now.) It was a V.I.P. small town paper–we had our own printing press. The job wasn’t called lifestyles editor when I got there. The position was writer. There was a guy who did the sports section and his byline read sports editor. One day I said to the head honcho editor, hey, the person who does the man stuff gets called sports editor, and the person who does the woman stuff gets called writer. What’s that about? He couldn’t come up with a good answer, or he just wanted to pat me on the head, so he told me I was hereby elevated to lifestyles editor. The title didn’t come up with a raise, only some sense of satisfaction. I was fresh out of college, remember–I still thought life was supposed to be fair. (The sports editor probably got paid more, too, but I didn’t have that information at my disposal.)

So I whipped up garden club reports and birth announcements and took pictures of giant zucchini, and wrote feature articles–my favorite part!–until my first child was born then I quit to work from home. I started writing books, and for a few years also wrote freelance features until I had three babies and couldn’t see straight much less write a cohesive article on a regular basis. So, all of this is to say–I have missed newspaper writing! And I’m glad to be back. Writing for a newspaper is fun. There’s always something different to do and new people to meet.

And, of course, it’s very glamorous and adventurous.

My first column comes out today in the Charleston Daily Mail. It will also appear online, and as soon I have the link, I’ll post it here, so check back!

Also, I’ll be writing a couple of freelance feature articles a month for the newspaper. In my blog and in my column, I tell my country living stories. My freelance features will be an opportunity for me to tell yours. I’ll be writing country living stories about people and places in the rural areas outside Charleston, West Virginia. So if you’ve got a great idea for a story in Minnesota, I can’t do that. If you’ve got a hot tip around here, though, click the Contact button in the menu bar above and let me know about it.

Especially if it’s glamorous and adventurous! And intrepid. I love to be intrepid!

P.S. Found it–to read my introductory column in the Charleston Daily Mail, click here!


  1. Patty says:

    Yay Suzanne! I am so happy about the column 🙂 I also love the new look on the site here.

  2. beekudzu says:

    Oooh, how exciting?! I’ll be checking back for the link. They’re going to love you.

  3. CATRAY44 says:

    I think maybe your dad was secretly Charles Kuralt and your mom was Brenda Starr… :shimmy: Can’t wait to read the articles!

  4. Becky says:

    I am so happy for you, Suzanne!
    I hope this is just what you needed to start the new year off right!
    Can’t wait to read your article.

  5. Teresa Minick says:

    HURRAY!!! I’m a homesick W.Va. girl stuck in Texas this is just what I needed. Good luck and I’m looking forward to your column.


  6. Amelia says:

    A prayer has been answered in getting to write the newspaper articles…doing what you love and then getting paid for it. Perhaps, not enough to retire in the next two years – but pay a bill or two per month.

    “Congratulations” is definitely the word for the day.

  7. Beverly Harmon says:

    Hi, my name is Beverly Harmon. But, I wasn’t always Beverly Harmon. I grew up in Walton, graduated in 1978 at Walton HS. Anyway, I have a question for you. As you go to the head of Johnson Creek, there is a fork. I think you turn left. Have you ever turned right and gone to the top of the hill? There is a crossroad at the top. You would appreciate it, if anyone would. I always found it amazing. The crossroad leads to four different “hollows” or we would say “haller”. Anyway, if you didn’t know which one to take you may end on another road which wasn’t all bad. The crossroad can go to Johnson Creek, Robinson Run, Cottontree and Clio. We teenagers would go “ridge-running” on top of the hills. You had to have a four wheel drive to do that. Good stuff. Bev

  8. Lisa says:

    Suzanne, congratulations on the new gigs!

  9. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Hi, Beverly! I know exactly where you’re talking about! It IS an amazing crossroads. Very WV!!!

  10. Pam says:

    Congrats, Suzanne, on the new column! Can’t wait to read it! :clap:

  11. Kacey says:

    Nice first article Suzanne! Congrats. I bet you can’t wait to see it in the actual paper.

  12. Rose says:

    Wonderful introduction to you and Chickens in the Road!! People are gonna love the column.

  13. MARY says:

    :treehugger: Congratulations, Suzanne!! I know yours will be the most popular column very soon! Happy New Year! :butterfly:

  14. margiesbooboo says:



  15. Suzanne says:

    Well done, Suzanne. I’ll look forward to your next column.

  16. Katy says:

    WOOHOO Suzanne! That was a wonderful introduction to your new column. We are all so proud of you!

    Now I’ll go back to patiently waiting for my Chickens in the Road Calendar to get here. I’m excited!!!

  17. MJ Krech says:

    Bravo, Suzanne! Way to go! :thumbsup:

  18. CindyP says:

    Congratulations, Suzanne! And thank you for taking us with you on your journies!!

  19. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    Brenda Starr would be proud of you!! I loved the article. Do you plan to read it to Spartacus and the girls? Clover and the kids? How do YOUR kids like having Mom in the paper? And I, too, like the new look on the sidebar. :catmeow:

  20. Nancy says:

    Great job on the article! Thanks for sharing it with us. I agree, they are gonna love ya.

  21. Robin G. says:

    Ooh, very exciting! Don’t worry about ideas — people love to talk about themselves (hence, blogging). You’ll get lots of stories I’m sure.

  22. Donna says:

    I am so happy you are writing for the paper, Suzanne and who knows where all this could lead…but, you are so talented, you def. need to be “out there”..where it’s appreciated!!! Where it can lead to other things…ect. All that just to say, I am so happy for you! Writing is your niche and then you can share your love for the other things you love such as cooking, baking, crafting, etc…. :mrgreen:

  23. Amy says:

    Great article, Suzanne! Look at you, all Brenda Starr and Lois Lane and country girl! Can’t wait to read more!

  24. LeaAnn says:

    Congratulations on your newspaper column! Also thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us. You make me smile :mrgreen:

  25. Karen B says:

    :flying: WOW! :typing: Congrats!

  26. Leah says:

    I LOVE that picture of Clover in The Charleston Daily Mail! I have that picture and get to keep it cuz it’s in my Chickens in the Road 2009 calendar!!! :sheepjump:

  27. Bill Lynch says:

    Congrats on the new column. It should be a lot of fun.

  28. Treasure says:

    Tried to post on The Daily Mail article but not smart enough to do so. Enjoyed it and think you should be a full time Daily Mail writer. Good Luck.


  29. catslady says:

    Pretty soon you’re going to have more bloggers I’m sure after reading your article – I love the slanted house quote from your son 🙂

  30. Liz says:

    :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy:



    :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:

    Liz in PA

  31. IowaDeb says:

    Congratulations, Suzanne! Are you doing anything special to celebrate?

  32. Darlene says:

    Great article, I’m so glad you include links! Just how big is giant puppy going to get??

  33. Tori Lennox says:

    WTG, Brenda, I mean, Suzanne!!! :woof:

  34. jean says:

    I am so excited for you! You must be bursting at the seams.

  35. Debbie in Memphis says:

    Congratulations!! I’m so happy for you. Way to go!!

  36. anni says:

    this has !got to be better than working at McDonald’s 🙂
    Way to go woman, you rock
    anni in Toronto

  37. Estella says:

    The column is great!

  38. Susan says:

    Woo Hoo! Congratulations on your first column. It was fantastic! :shimmy:

  39. Stephanie says:

    I just found your blog today and I already love it. Your column is wonderful. Congratulations! :clap: Stephanie

  40. Melissa Marsh says:

    Wonderful article, Suzanne! I can’t wait to read more of them, either.

  41. Brandy says:

    Congratualtions Suzanne! This opportunity couldn’t have happened to a better person!

  42. Debbie in PA says:

    Congratulations Suzanne! :clap: :clap: And congratulations to the soon to be internatinally famous goat, Clover! :clap: :clap:

    I too loved Brenda Starr. It was the first comic strip I read ever Sunday. Cool on your backround story with reporting. I actually went to college to study journalism, but somehow ended up in Social Work…..not sure how that happened! LOL!

  43. Jake says:

    Congrats Suzanne! :clap: :thumbsup: :snoopy:

  44. tillie says:

    Yay for you Suzanne!!! :elephant: Great introduction to your column and the photos of the farm animals made it all the more perfect!

  45. Brenda Hudson says:

    I just opened my newspaper and right there was one of my favorite writers and blogger. I am very glad to see you will be contributing to our Daily Mail.

    Brenda in Scott Depot, WV

  46. birdi says:

    Congrats! The article was wonderful. You won’t be a best kept secret for long and I am so happy for that. I’d love to share you with all of the world. You have so much to offer…from the very seasoned farmer to the inexperienced. KUDOS!!!

  47. Darleen says:

    We lived in So. Chas back in the mid to late 80’s (have a son that was born there) and we just loved the beauty, wonderful people etc. We now live in GA and love it here too!
    Enjoy your blog! Wishing you all the best with new job!

  48. Lola-Dawn says:

    :thumbsup: Way to go, Suzanne! :clap: Congrats! (Did you tell your cookie-eating four-legged friend about her new notoriety?)

  49. Janet says:

    Great first article, Suzanne.

  50. Traci in GA says:

    Yeah, You!! :rockon: :bananadance: :snoopy:
    Great way to kick off 2009!

  51. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Great Job, Suzanne (of course)! I know that the Daily Mail columns will be a great success for you!
    Guess what? As soon as Mark and I mail them out, our annual Christmas letter will refer folks all over the country to “Chickens in the Road.” (What? I know that it is January 6 but better late than never for Christmas cards, I say! HA HA)
    You and I are going to have to get together on some craft ideas soon. I have all kinds of “hidden talents” that you don’t even know about yet!
    Love ya,
    Cousin Sheryl

  52. Senta says:

    That outhouse is awfully close to their water supply too. Just think of the bad luck that out brought to that old place. :fryingpan:

  53. Kim W says:

    How exciting!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!

    :snoopy: :elephant: :woof: :shimmy:

    Blessings from Ohio…

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