How To Get Lost in the Woods and Write Your Way Out

Trinity University Press, 2023

Part writing memoir, part nature memoir, part meditation on a life well lived, Bushwhacking draws upon the author’s experiences running, hiking, biking, paddling, and ziplining in the woods to offer readers encouragement and practical suggestions to accompany them on their writing and life journeys.

Firmly rooted in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, Bushwhacking is written in the vein of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, and Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones.

Each chapter links a writing insight to an adventure in the woods, and a guide at the end of the book offers timely, relevant writing prompts.

Ideal for beginning as well as experienced writers, Bushwhacking honors writing craft traditions and offers fresh insights into how a life lived in close communion with nature can transform your writing life and, well, your life in general.

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Advance Praise for Bushwhacking:

“McGaha makes a very convincing argument that in order to understand the unknown writers must get up from the desk, go outside, and step into it.”

Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of When Ghosts Come Home

“This wondrous book focuses on the importance of writing, the necessity of using words to connect us to our world—especially the natural world…She shows that the only authentic choice is to write—as she herself does—beautifully, fearlessly, absorbing the world around you. “

Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

Bushwhacking is rich with the smell of mountain laurel, the musky stink of a menacing bear, the splendor of a Blue Ridge sunset, and, in equal part, with keen wisdom and practical writing advice.”

Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer

Bushwhacking is a revelation in the crowded society of books on writing and far more even than this: it’s a wonderful and encouraging clarion call to reclaim our wildness as writers and even to consider our entire lives as works of art.

It makes you want to run outside and run–and then come back inside to get some words down on the page. She is a courage teacher of the highest order.” 

– Robert Vivian, author of The Tall Grass trilogy

“Gutsy, entertaining, and heartening, McGaha’s dispatches guide and inspire.”

Publisher’s Weekly

Flat Broke with Two Goats

Sourcebooks, 2018

Jennifer’s memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, blends stories of homesteading with the journey of two people rediscovering the true meaning of home.

When her family experienced a financial crisis of epic proportions, her world changed.

Desperate to save money, she and her husband foreclosed on their modest home in the country and moved to a one-hundred-year old cabin in a North Carolina holler. There, what began as a last-ditch effort to settle their debts soon became a journey that revealed both the joys and the challenges of living close to the land.

Told with bold wit, unflinching honesty, and a firm foot in the culture and traditions of Appalachia, Flat Broke with Two Goats is a story of loss, reckoning, and healing.

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Praise for Flat Broke:

“This sweet miracle of a memoir tells the story of a struggling couple who have to lose their house, and just about everything else, to find home.”
Tommy Hays, author of The Pleasure Was Mine

“An easy read with a warm tone, like hearing from an old friend, McGaha’s memoir is touching, funny, and hard to put down.” —Booklist

“An enjoyable, back-to-the-land memoir.” —Library Journal

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