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Besides inclement weather and the curvy mountain roads that scare me when driving, the only other downfall that I have found is springtime and the bears. We have lived here for six years and have only had to deal with a bear this past spring. I am hoping we don’t have to deal with him again this spring. I know a lot of our friends here in Ellijay deal with bears a lot more than I have had to, and that is scary to me. They really are beautiful creatures, and if they don’t venture too close to the house they are just another amazing piece of scenery we have here in the mountains. If you like to hike, you can’t beat the area and all the places to go hiking. We have plenty of hiking around our property, and my kids and I have had a great time exploring all the woods around us over the years. I love all the different trees and shrubs and flowers that grow in these mountains; it’s always a learning experience to get out and investigate the forest. I have found all sorts of different mushrooms and have even bought books to learn about them. I’m still unsure

about eating any of them no matter what the books say; I’m adventurous, but not that adventurous! We lived here for three years before I realized we had black walnut trees on our property. I had no idea what they were when I first spotted them in those big thick husks, so I was thrilled to learn something new. The only time I’d ever seen any sort of walnut was in a bag on the shelf at the grocery store. I’ve yet to try and harvest any of the walnuts just because there is so much work involved, but one of these days I may just get out there and gather some to shell. I’ve found over the years living here that the price of livestock is different here in the mountains compared to other places we have lived. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you are shopping for and how much money you might have in your pocket. I’ve always found just what I was wanting to bring home to our farm, so it’s never been a problem for me, but I have noticed differences since I’ve lived in other places.

Luckily for me and unluckily for my husband, I tend to have no trouble coming home with some animal we didn’t plan for ahead of time that needs some sort of housing immediately. Overall, our decision to buy our land here in the mountains has been the best decision we’ve ever made yet. We love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere but here on our little hobby farm. There are days where we might question ourselves when the temperatures are cold and we are outside trudging through ice and snow and breaking water for our animals to drink and trying to keep the barn warm. Or hot, humid summers where the barn work is dirty and smelly, but when you step back and look around and see where we live, you can’t complain for long. We just took a trip back to Texas where we grew up, and after a few days of all the concrete and traffic, I couldn’t wait to get home to our little niche we have here in the mountains. There is a special feeling here, and you can’t find that anywhere else.

“I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.” ― John Keats


and wonder if others will like it. I am ok with public speaking in general if it isn’t something I have written or about my books. Lora: If you could do a book signing anywhere where would it be? Jackson: In October I went to New York and there is a book store called Strand Book Store and I would love to do one there or any book store in New York. Lora: What is your favorite writing you have done? Jackson: “Room 22” is my favorite book I have written and my favorite piece of writing overall is the short story original “Room 22.” Lora: Who is your biggest writer inspiration? Jackson: Tahereh Mafi. She writes darker stuff and has been an inspiration after the fact but no one before I had already started my own style. Lora: What if anything are you trying to create with your writings or what does writing represent to you? Jackson: It is an outlet or escape where I can be somewhere else for a while. It is cool


to create your entire world and get to live in it when you are writing it. Lora: Have you won any awards with your writings? Jackson: In seventh grade I won a writing competition we were forced to enter into. We were given a topic and I lost it and ended up writing completely off topic but still in line enough to win the most creative award. It was so off topic they thought it to be artistic, but I really had no idea what the topic was. Lora: Where can we find your work? Jackson: I have a website called and you can also find them on Amazon, Kindle and Paperback and you can get the paperback on line through Barnes & Noble. Lora: What do you see in the future for yourself in writing and beyond? Jackson: I would like to be a screenwriter for films or own a publishing house and bookstore. I would still write on the side. These books are a trilogy, and after this I’m planning a four-part series that will tie into this.

Lora: Do you have another job? Jackson: I intern at the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce, and through that job I manage their social media, e-mail blast and videos for them. I am basically their communications person. Lora: Do you have any unique fans out there you want to tell us about? Jackson: Ralph Streeter, an ambassador for the chamber, is someone I didn’t expect to be a fan of my style of writing and was surprised to read his review and to see what he was into. Lora: What are three things you cannot live without? Jackson: Number one is my computer, then my family, and finally my car. Lora: What hobbies do you have outside of writing? Jackson: I like and enjoy researching videos and movies on line that I can learn different things about film from, and I like TV shows. Lora: As for music what are the top songs on your play list right now? Jackson: Pentatonix, Lana del Rey, and

“Without enthusiasm nothing great can be effected in art.” ― Robert Schumann

Then There Were None,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” Lora: If you had to choose, whom do you consider a mentor in writing or in life? Jackson: My boss Jerry. Lora: What book are you reading now? Jackson: My mom suggested that I read “1984” and I am reading it now. Lora: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Jackson: Ransom Riggs Lora: What are your current projects? Jackson: Enspirit Trilogy’s third book “Room 01.” Lora: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Jackson: A lot of my teachers have really supported me. Mrs. Hardman has been a big supporter who even came to the Chamber when I spoke there to support me. Mrs. Vandoran was my drama teacher and piano teacher, and she was very supportive and encouraging. Lora: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books? Jackson: I actually have. The first book was a short story and then a full-length book and then later I went on to edit, extend and make character changes to the published version of the book making it into a new longer version. There are parts that didn’t make it into the book, and I would go back and change that if I could. Lora: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Jackson: Writing romantic relationships between characters is difficult for me because that isn’t really my style so I struggle to write it without making it too cheesy and then I go the other way trying too hard and make it too bland. Also I find it hard to appropriately portray the feelings the characters have within themselves when it is an emotion that I have not personally experienced. Lora: Would you want to travel much as a writer to meet your fans and grow your fan base? Jackson: I love to travel so yes that would be fantastic. Lora: Who designed the cover of your books? Jackson: I did. I designed my own cover and did the format for the interior and exterior of the book. Lora: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it? Jackson: I learned how to be a better writer. My editor says she can see my growth and improvement from book to book. I learned to format books and how to Photoshop. I have developed many skills that I have had to use in different aspects of the writing and publishing process. Jackson is currently dually enrolled at Pickens High School and Reinhardt College and has been accepted to the University of Georgia for next year. Majors he is considering are Filmmaking with a minor in English or English with a minor in business if he decides to open his own publishing house. To say this young man is motivated is an understatement. He has given much thought and planning into his future and seems very dedicated and determined to reach his goals. I am sure we will be hearing the name Jackson Leake much more in the years to come.

loved to use that crosscut saw with my Mother. We had a smooth rhythm, but Daddy was different. He rode the saw, which made it very difficult to pull the saw through the log. I think Mother knew that because she always pointed out a limb or something that needed Daddy’s axe when it came time for us to saw. Around noon on my special day, Daddy handed me some money and told me to go to Willard McGill’s grocery store and get some Cokes, some dime pies and something else that I don’t remember for lunch. At that very moment I felt like I’d grown from being a baby boy to a working member of the family. I stuck the money in my pocket and began to run on the northwest trail to the grocery. It was more than a mile away, but not much of a challenge for a country boy. In my excitement I’d forgotten that Daddy had built a four-strand barbed wire fence around all the wooded area. After I’d been on the trail for about 500 yards, it began to go downhill for about a thousand yards. Needless to say, my speed increased to the max. Halfway down, I hit the fence. It seemed to stretch about two feet and then hurl me backwards onto the trail. As I remember it, it was like I was in slow motion – I didn’t really realize what had happened until I was on the ground on my butt. Then I began to feel all of my wounds. The top strand hit me on my forehead, the second on my chest, the third on my stomach and the fourth on my legs. Truthfully, I got up just to see if I could. When I realized I was okay, I crawled through the fence and began to run again (remember, I was always told to walk it off!) When I got to McGill’s he told me it looked like I’d been in briars and they had cut me. Mrs. McGill cleaned me up and put some Mercurochrome on my wounds. I remember distinctly that hurt worse than hitting the fence. On the way back, the excitement was gone because I remember walking all the way to the fence and part of the way back to Mother and Daddy. I’ve never shared this story before. I guess I was ashamed I was stupid enough to run into that fence. Well, believe me, over the years I’ve done a lot more foolish things!

WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Best of the North Georgia Mountains is looking for out-of-the-ordinary residents to interview and share their stories with our readers. If you know of someone who qualifies, or if YOU are that someone, give us a call at 678-882-6741!

until we went to deep South Georgia one summer when daddy was on many days and not to dare get out in the light. Now, how's that for a kid vacation. We took his parents to see relatives. Anyway, it was where who was on the farm and loved to be outside? the gnats swarmed and the sweat rolled! It just so happened that while I was in the "curing" room, my PawWe arrived at one house about dark. After we had had our supper, paw had a great big barbecue. He had invited many friends, family and lots of kids took me outside to play. neighbors. He had killed a big We romped and played in the yard hog and had roasted it all night It just so happened that while I was in the "curing" in the fire pit and had it ready for a long time. When I got tired, I came to the porch to sit down and to eat for this special occasion. room, my Pawpaw had a great big barbecue. He Because of my eye problem, rest and cool. had invited many friends, family and neighbors. That was when the South Georthis is why I can't tell you much gia gnats began to swarm me. I about his big shindig barbeHe had killed a big hog and had roasted it all would swat and try to wiggle out of cues. I was in the house alone night in the fire pit and had it ready to eat for this their way. I then said to my folks, and to this day I feel I missed a "Why would people want to live special occasion. Because of my eye problem, this great deal of family history. Poor little me, I was so here and then stay outside in this is why I can't tell you much about his big shindig lonely in that bedroom with gnat-infested jungle?" They taught the shades pulled down, and I me to do like they did - blow out barbecues. I was in the house alone and to this could hear all of that commoof the sides of your mouth to keep day I feel I missed a great deal of family history. them off your face. When we went tion outside. They would come to see about me and brought home after visiting several families, I was so glad. me a plate of food. I guess it was good, but nothing like if I could have eaten it outside where the fun By the time I got home to Mammaw's, I had developed what they called then, the sore eyes. My eyes were swelled and red from the was. I remember for years that I kept feeling sorry for myself when I gnats. Things must have been bad because they took me to the doctor. Guess what? He prescribed for me to stay in a dark room for so thought about this. Well, you would have too if you had ever been to a

“When our little bit is combined with His greatness, the team is unbeatable.” ― James C. Dobson


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