Sharing stories

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Local woman’s stories featured in ‘Chicken Soup’ books

By Shannon Brock

When Janeen Lewis took her then-boyfriend/now-husband Jesse home to meet her parents for the first time, she never imagined that story would end up in a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology titled “Family Matters.”

She probably never imagined any of her life stories would be chronicled in books — that is, until she started writing them.
Lewis, a stay-at-home mother of two whose family lives in Lawrenceburg, has had eight stories published across seven different Chicken Soup books.
Five of those stories are available in four new books this holiday season.
Lewis has one story in “Family Matters”; one in “A Book of Miracles”; one in “Christmas Magic”; and two in “Devotional Stories for Mothers.”
A former journalist and elementary school teacher, Lewis began looking for markets for her writing after she had her son, Andrew, who’s now 4, and decided to stay at home.
Lewis said she knew she wanted to be a writer since she was 13 years old. That’s why she initially pursued a career in journalism.
While working as an education reporter for the Sentinel-News in Shelbyville, she discovered a passion for working with children and decided to go back to school to become a teacher.
Lewis taught for eight years, but was never far from her writing roots. She became a part of the Blue Grass Writing Project and incorporated writing into her classroom and teaching.
When Andrew was born, Lewis began looking for ways to use her writing skills as a source of income.
That’s when she stumbled upon the Chicken Soup website, which had posted a call to authors for a book featuring stories about stay-at-home moms.
“So, I thought I’d take a chance,” Lewis said.
She submitted five stories. Lewis said four of them were considered for the final publication, and one made it in.
Now, whenever she sees a call for stories about something she can relate to, she submits four to five and hopes for the best.
Though she says it is difficult to choose a favorite story that has been published, Lewis says she is always partial to stories about her children.
“Devotional Stories for Mothers” features two of her stories, one about each of her children.
“It’s really neat for my kids,” she said. “It can be theirs forever.”
The story about Andrew tells of the moment Lewis feels like she first became a parent. The story about her daughter, Gracie, 1, proves another point, Lewis said.
The story discusses her experience at the hospital being in labor around other moms-to-be.
“That just goes to show, there is always a story to be told,” Lewis said, smiling. “Even when you’re in labor.”
Lewis said since she first started submitting stories, she has taken some of the pressure off of herself to write for income.
Her husband, Jesse, is very supportive, and Lewis says she tries to keep her priorities in order.
“Some people are writer-moms, but I’m a mom-writer,” she said. “My priority is with my family and my kids.”
Lewis said faith is a large part of her life, and she believes God gives us all gifts that we should use.
“I love sharing people’s stories,” she said. “And I love writing something other people can connect to.
“If this was the thing I was created to do, then it’s great that other people can be blessed by that.”
When writing for the Chicken Soup books, Lewis said it’s nice to have a specific audience in mind.
“It’s nice to know the readers are in the same place that I am,” she said. “And I read their stories and know where they’re coming from.”
For more information on the Chicken Soup books, visit www.chickensoup.com. Books are available for purchase online and in most retail bookstores.

E-mail Shannon Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.