Guest Fox Jennifer R. Grigsby

Welcome, Jennifer

By Jeff Salter

How many people do you know who have been featured on the front page of the New York Times? Great publicity for an author! Well, while conducting research for Silent Matriarchs, Jennifer Grigsby ended up in a NYT feature after being united with a distant cousin. Here’s the link, if you want it:

Welcome to my Guest Fox, Jennifer Grigsby!

I remember clearly my first encounter with Jennifer — at our public library’s annual Local Author event in April 2015. She and I had arrived fairly early and got (I think) the best two tables… right at the entrance. I introduced myself and we talked about books. I told her I’d like to go around the room and greet the other authors but – I said in a hushed voice – I can’t leave my cash box unattended.

“Oh, no problem,” said Jennifer. “My husband can watch your table.”

“Hmm,” I thought (to myself), “and what if her husband is Jesse James?”

Jennifer seemingly read my mind. “He’s in law enforcement… your stuff will be safe. I guarantee.”

Well, I thanked her, but didn’t want to impose. Plus, the husband himself had not exactly volunteered. So I just went back to my table.

Shortly, Jennifer came over and said, “Seriously, if you want to tour the other tables, Mike will watch yours.”

So he did, and I did — and had a chance to greet authors I’d met the previous year… plus meet several new faces. All because of the kindness of Jennifer and Mike.

All that’s by way of introducing a kind person, new friend, and talented local author.

I hope you’ll have some questions for Jennifer. If not, we’ve crafted a question at the very end of this post. Please think about it and leave a comment.



*** One of your books (“Silent Matriarchs”) seems to be largely about family and local history. Do you also write fiction? If so, does your fiction incorporate family and local history elements?

JRG: I have written fiction but I haven’t released any of those works. The fiction doesn’t necessarily incorporate family or local history but I have drawn from inspiration from ancient lore surrounding a few of my ancestors. For example, I have studied and written a bit of fictional work about of my ancient grandmothers, Melusine de Lusina. Legends from her life can be found in a compilation by Jean d’Arras (1382-1394).

*** What other writing have you done?

JRG: I have written and released a companion book to Silent Matriarchs that includes some of the food and household recipes as well as other techniques my Matriarchs used, as did almost all Appalachian pioneers, on a daily basis to survive. The name of that book is simply titled, “Silent Matriarchs Companion Book”. My husband helped me with the research for the companion book, and therefore, co-wrote the smaller book with me.

*** How do you balance job, marriage, homemaking, family, and writing?

JRG: Honestly, I would be lost in the weeds if I didn’t maintain a strict time management program along with a much needed supply of Post-it® notes.

*** In what way are animals special to you?

JRG: Unfortunately, I was unable to have children of my own but still came equipped with the built-in nurture desire. My nurture victims became cats and dogs who have served as a fitting alternative over the years. I was raised in a quasi military-law enforcement home and exposed to the Working-line German Shepherd Dog at a very early age. Living with German Shepherd Dogs became second nature and I have always lived with and loved my dogs and choice of breed, not to mention the cats I’ve taken in over the years. I imagine I will continue to live with and love my animals and aspire to be the person they think I am.

*** Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?

JRG: For the most part, the people I encounter seem to have a preconceived notion that writing is only for people who aren’t part of the “real” (their word not mine) daily grind. A few of those people have told me things like, “oh, I could write a novel if I only had time” or “if I didn’t have a spouse and children I could make a mint writing”. It’s almost always my opinion that the people saying these things are out of touch with the creative process and don’t realize that writing is partially a gift from God (personal belief) along with one’s own will and desire to write.

*** If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?

JRG: By trade I am a research analyst and have the luck of researching and writing on a daily basis. However, if I were not so fortunate I imagine I would cut back on the caffeine intake, read more, take up a musical instrument, paint, or even try one of the new coloring books for adults – depending on the severity of the caffeine cutback.

*** If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?

JRG: Most of the profits from my book sales are forwarded on to my choice of charities, however, if the critical element were missing I may want to step out of the conservative box and test my creative skills in the fantasy realm.

*** Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.

JRG: Many of my readers are family members and I receive mixed reviews on that front, mostly positive; however, when writing something based on historical events there will always be someone who recounts those events differently or outright dismiss the material altogether. I enjoy and embrace the feedback I get from relatives but it has been those I had never met that have provided the most encouragement; unlike family, they are not obligated to chant praises or discouragements about an author in the family.

*** Over the years (as people learn you’re a published author), what is the typical reaction you get from them?

JRG: I receive mixed reactions ranging from total surprise to the people who say, “I always knew she would do something like that one day.” The reactions are hardly ever the same.

*** What is one writing question you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked? Then answer it here.

JRG: Why did you write Silent Matriarchs? What or who was the inspiration? My answer: my life mentor, Effie Marie Begley, my maternal grandmother and one of the few, if not the only, people I have encountered who I actually believe walked close to God during her temporary stay here on Earth.


Book blurb

The rugged life of those families that lived in Appalachia is perhaps only a memory to those living today. Most families have historical accounts that have been passed down through oral tradition but few tend to remember those who where most influential during a not so distant time in our American history. In many cases, people, places and communities have been forgotten.

Silent Matriarchs represents the life and times of a few women whose influence guided their families through the hardships and joys of living in rural Eastern Kentucky.

The story of Hannah, Mahala, Adeline, Mary Elizabeth, Stella, and Effie is one of life, love, and personal tribulations marked with the demonstration of immense will and determination. Few women before and a countless number after have left behind legacies by becoming outspoken vocal advocates of their families and communities but during the time of these women a greater number remained silent; making their lasting statements with actions rather than words.

Silent Matriarchs is just one example of the long overdue recognition these women deserve but more than that, it serves as a valuable lesson that actions may be the loudest measure of inspiration.

Author bio

Jennifer spent nearly 15 years serving as an emergency service practitioner, supervisor, and later, agency director before moving on to a second career. The following decade found her working as a Learning Architect for a private company named Teleologic while moonlighting for Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) as a research analyst. During that time she was involved in public safety programs for first responders at EKU and aided in the development and support of a Certificate Program at the Institute for Preventive Strategies (IPS), located at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky. After leaving EKU and Teleologic she continued working as an analyst for the Center for Civil Military Relations at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. In 2009, Jennifer’s research experience, love for family, and desire to preserve the memory of a fading culture led her to begin the journey to complete Silent Matriarchs. Five years later, she was able to share that story.

Silent Matriarchs website:

Amazon link:

Barnes & Noble’s link:


Based on what you perceive about Kentucky Appalachia (past or present), what qualities would you think vital to survive and thrive? Could YOU cope well in any particular period of that region?

[JLS # 266]





About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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24 Responses to Guest Fox Jennifer R. Grigsby

  1. jeff7salter says:

    Welcome, Jennifer. Enjoyed this interview. Hope lots of your friends and neighbors show up and leave comments or questions today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeff7salter says:

    Jennifer, since we posed a question for our visitor today, why don’t YOU also answer it.
    How would YOU fare in the typical conditions of Appalachia… a couple of generations ago?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jenngrigsby says:

      I’m an adaptable, outdoorsy, granola type of woman. I believe I would have been able to withstand the conditions of Appalachia during the 1800-1900s with one exception – the back-seat role women took in society. I’m feisty and a bit unsettled at times concerning certain public issues and I’m not sure I would be able to be seen and not heard. My husband often, lovingly, refers to me as oppositional defiant. I disagree.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    It seems your book description confirms my notion of Appalachian life – rugged and difficult. I imagine it to be similar to nineteenth century pioneer life – making do or doing without. I find it fascinating that you’re able to trace your ancestry back so many centuries! Thanks so much for visiting – your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jenngrigsby says:

      Many thanks, Patricia! As is the case many times, much more research was completed than really needed. I was actually able to take my ancestry back to the “Painted People” of Orkney Islands – as Cesar described them – (90% of my genetic make up) and back to the records kept in Genesis (10% percent of my genetic make up) along with the exact Jewish House I came from, the Jews kept fantastic records. Once I went down that rabbit hole there was no turning back!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Patricia Kiyono says:

        Wow. Did you hire an interpreter to help you translate records, or are you fluent in the languages you needed once the tree branched away from the English speaking world? I run into the language roadblock when searching for my Japanese ancestry.

        Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      I grew up with stories of my dad’s family — dirt-poor in rural Mississippi, both before and during the Great Depression — and (believe me) it’s not a life I would want to attempt. I seriously wonder if I could have survived such times and conditions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jenngrigsby says:

    Thank you, Jeff. It was certainly a pleasure to be interviewed by the Hound.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thepawsmahal says:

    So how long did your research take and what avenues did you explore to garner all of your history?

    Liked by 2 people

    • jenngrigsby says:

      Good question! I started the research phase of the book during 2008 but wasn’t ready to publish until December 2014. Fortunately, one of my relatives started research on the Patriarchs around 1980; this provided many good leads for me but the bulk of the work came from oral story telling passed down, family interviews, digital record searches and old fashioned trips to courthouses. Thanks for the question, it’s been a pleasure to answer l.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks for visiting today, pawsmahal


  6. I am sorry it took me so long to welcome you here to the blog, Jennifer. Your work and book are so interesting.I am a huge animal lover and both of my sons are EMTs; one is in it full time now as well as being a firefighter.The other keeps his registration up and worked in ERs, but is getting his Master’s in Public Health, as well.
    I now have Silent Matriarchs on my TBR list.I don;t think people realize how hard the lives of everyone have been in Appalachia, especially for the women, who had to hold everything together.
    Best of luck with everything!
    (Great find, Jeff!)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Anonymous says:

    Will there be another book in your future possibly about the lives of the patriarchs? I think your writing is inspiring and love how you let us live through their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jenngrigsby says:

      There is possibly a book about the Patriarchs in the future. I have enough research fodder, so to speak, to easily complete a book. However, I’m currently working on the third Matriarch book. This book has proven to be the hardest emotionally to complete since it is a little closer to my life, memories and upbringing than the first one.

      Thank you for the question!

      Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      that’s the very question I was wondering.
      Thanks for visiting, anonymous.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. artemisgreyA says:

    Hello, and welcome, Jennifer!!!

    I’ve not had the pleasure of reading your book, but I intend to change that by nabbing it! Both of them, if possible. My father’s side of the family comes from both the Front Royal Pulaski area of Virginia, while my mother’s side hales originally from Harman Virginia and later Trout WV. They were proud, hardscrabble mountain folk, and my twin sister and I spent our formative years running barefoot through the mountains and coves around Rainelle WV. I remain drawn to the histories of Appalachia and its people, both those still living there, and those who were forced from their homes over the decades of change which has always hounded the land just like the haints up in the hollows.

    As for the posed question, I feel that I could cope well in any particular time period, though those when women were seen and not heard might suffer more for my presence. As far as surviving and thriving is concerned, I view the physical difficulties as being much less a problem than the matter of knowing how to stay round the right side of people, and not get crossways of any feuds. Mountain folk would do anything for you if they trust you, but once you get round the wrong side of them, there’s no getting back round the right side again. Leastways, there’s not any easy way to manage it.

    With your books, I know you’ve said that the Jewish part of your family kept excellent records, but outside of those records, how much were you able to find written documentation on, and how much were you able to track via living memory of those still living in the area? What traveling and contacting people a large part of your research?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      glad you could visit, Artemis.
      Gosh, it sounds like your own life is pretty steeped in the culture and circumstances Jennifer examines in her book.
      I hope you find it terrific reading.


    • jrgrigsby says:

      Hi Artemis. Thank you for the very interesting post.

      I was fortunate enough to have many folks from the area who lived during the 1910s, with clear memories intact of their childhood, to pull from to interview. I also kept journals as a preadolescent and documented some of the stories my G. Grandmother told.I did travel to the area of an area called “Hell for Certain” and another called “Wilder Branch” both on the Kentucky River in the Confluence area. I was thrilled to find that some of the old barns and homes were still erect, dilapidated but there for me to visualize! I visited the cemeteries and spent a couple of days just “milling around”.

      On the written documentation front, in some cases I had to visit courthouses but this is one time I love that we live in the digital world; I was able to find many great documents that had been scanned into archives!

      Thanks again for your post and your question.

      Liked by 1 person

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