When Lisa Hayes Minney (Nonfiction ’17) joined the West Virginia Wesleyan Master of Fine Arts program, she had two goals: to become a better writer and to change her life. What Lisa has found, however, is a revived passion for all types of writing and a new publication: Mountain Ink, a new literary magazine from Stumptown Publishing open to West Virginia’s resident writers.
Lisa says her mission when starting Mountain Ink last year was “to provide an outlet for West Virginia writers from all walks of life the opportunity to see their words in print. Not just academics and polished writers, but student writers, closet writers, all writers. There are a lot of hidden talents in the valleys and across the hills of West Virginia. Photographers, poets, storytellers, writers of all kinds and all ages. Mountain Ink is for them—to give them a venue to share and be recognized.”
And Mountain Ink has done just that with its first issue, which celebrated writers from all backgrounds and ages—and which sold out in three short months.
“We wanted everyone to feel welcome to submit, no matter what their education or background. I have always believed that words and writing belong to all of us,” says Lisa. “I love the variety of the pieces that come in. The variety of the personalities behind the submissions. Last year, we received submissions from writers ranging from ages 16 to 82. Some submissions were hand-written, some included artwork with them. In the future, I hope we can include artwork as well.”
One of Lisa’s fondest moments since Mountain Ink began was upon receiving a letter from the poetry winner of the first issue.
“Our poetry winner sent us a letter upon receiving his winnings saying that he had almost given up writing poetry because he didn't feel he was very talented. He was thrilled simply to be included in our first issue, but being selected as the winner in that genre really inspired him to keep writing.”
Lisa says she loves knowing Mountain Ink inspired, and continues to inspire, struggling or reluctant writers.
“That is our mission. Although my time in the MFA program has shown me excellence in creative writing via professors, speakers, fellow students, and assigned reading, it also made it very clear that there is a world of non-academic writers, of amateur writers that, for the most part, remains unrecognized and under-valued,” says Lisa. “Just as our magazine, Two-Lane Livin', was created for the common audience not often targeted by most publications, Mountain Ink was created for the writers in West Virginia who aren't necessarily academic, who aren't supported or encouraged to share their talents and communicate their stories and experiences.”
Her tenure in the West Virginia Wesleyan MFA program has shown Lisa that not only could her own writing branch outside the world of casual journalism and into the literary realm, but that her business could as well. Thus, with Lisa at the helm, Stumptown Publishing embarked on the journey that has become Mountain Ink.
“Mountain Ink was the first new product we created for our publishing house, and it was well received by both writers and readers. I never imagined we'd have our own annual literary review, but a once a year publication with minimal copies is really just a bit of fun compared to Two-Lane Livin', which is the largest independent publication in West Virginia and comes out twelve months of the year,” Lisa says.
Furthermore, Lisa’s work on Mountain Ink has also allowed her to champion some of her fellow Wesleyan cohorts. Wesleyan MFA alums, Rachel Hicks (Poetry ’15) and Elizabeth Gaucher (Nonfiction ’15) are two of the three editors for the upcoming issue. Virginia Rachel (Fiction ’15) was also poetry editor for the inaugural issue.
Mountain Ink is currently seeking submissions for its second issue. The submission period opened on October 1, 2016, and will run through March 1, 2016. The call is open to current West Virginia residents. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Mountain Ink on Facebook.
Lisa Hayes Minney (Nonfiction ’17) is publisher and editor of Two-Lane Livin' Magazine, and publisher of Mountain Ink. She is also an Assistant Librarian at Gilmer Public Library and serves as an adjunct professor at Glenville State College. She is the workshop leader for customized writing workshops offered at Whispering Springs Haven and she is currently developing an essay chapbook and a spiritual guide. She is also working on her MFA thesis, planning to graduate in January.