About Kentucky Author

“What a fascinating life! Janet’s story of resilience and resourcefulness will both amaze and inspire you.” – Liz Cornish, Author

Janet Holloway

A graduate of Marshall University and SUNY-Stony Brook, Janet Steele Holloway left Appalachia to live in NYC for twenty-five years, then returned to the region in 1990. She is the founder of Women Leading Kentucky, Inc., a successful non-profit designed to create opportunities for women to lead, learn and give back to their communities. Janet has managed statewide small business programs for New Jersey and Kentucky and served as president of the national Association of Small Business Development Centers in 1993.

She has published profiles of business leaders in various media including Entrepreneur Magazine, Cake & Whiskey, and Business Lexington. She was recognized as a finalist in the Best Writers Competition in 2008, and again in 2011, in the Harriet Rose Legacy Competition, both sponsored by the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning. As a child, Janet set a goal of visiting all 50 states and reached this goal but still has North Dakota on her list. This Logan County, West Virginia native lives in Lexington, KY, loves to travel and continues to write.

Books Written and Published by Janet Holloway:

  • Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do (Published April 2023)
  • A Willful Child  (Published October 2012)
  • Leaving: Sometimes You Have to Leave  (Published July 2017)

Founder of Women Leading Kentucky

After sixteen years in small business development, she decided it was time to start her own enterprise, which was the beginning of Women Leading Kentucky, a non-profit that provides leadership opportunities for women and scholarships for women attending KY colleges/universities. At present, Women Leading KY (www.womenleadingky.com) has awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships since its inception in 2000. Also, Janet enjoys mentoring women at the early stages of their career, as well as women in transition.

About Women Leading KYREAD MY BLOG


Janet’s Latest Book:
Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do

by Janet Holloway

Janet’s latest book, Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, continues her memories of her pioneering, pistol-packing, bootlegging granny who helped her raise her.  “The title of this book describes my granny best,” the author says.  Janet is and has been a visionary pioneer herself. Founder of Women Leading Kentucky, Janet’s roots began in the shadow of the infamous Devil Anse Hatfield (Hatfield / McCoy feud). The house her granny built for her parents was on Hatfield land is now the Hatfield & McCoy Museum in Sarah Ann (Logan County), West Virginia.


Janet Holloway's Books

Award-winning Kentucky Based Author  |  Entrepreneur  |  Founder of Women Leading Kentucky


Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do
“This highly readable collection yields a complex portrait of resilient women and girls as they navigate decades of economic uncertainty and look for ways to blossom in a patriarchal mountain culture.”  – Leatha Kendrick, Poet, Author, And Luckier, Second Opinion

Questions of identity and abandonment haunt the linked stories that make up Janet Holloway’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do. In writing at once intimate and sweeping, Holloway sketches the saga of a twentieth-century Appalachian family. At the book’s heart lie three generations of women, richly rendered in Holloway’s spot-on dialogue and closely observed detail. Billie, the matriarch, knows all the secrets and calls the shots, as she capably runs a string of businesses across several states. A bold and unrepentant moonshiner, Billie runs whiskey to Chicago in the 1920s (for which she eventually serves jail time), keeps a farm going in Virginia, and owns the Pioneer Beer Garden in the heart of Hatfield country in West Virginia. Bess, her adopted daughter, an unstable beauty unsure of who she is, continually tries to escape her roles as wife and mother. And Janet, Bess’s child, helpless in the currents of her parents’ needs, tries to make sense of the lives around her. Both vulnerable and strong-minded, she finds her anchor in Billie’s “unrestrained yet tough love.”


A Willful Child
“Janet Steele Holloway’s debut is as dazzling as the West Virginia countryside she describes. Her father a hardworking coalminer, her granny an unrepentant bootlegger, Holloway remembers a childhood grasping at the shards of a shattered family. She emerges as a young woman ready for anything. This memoir is poignant, brutal, funny, inspired.” – Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss

A Willful Child, vividly portrays a remarkable yet ordinary family whose life is more typical of post-war America than we’d like to think. At the mercy of an unstable, beautiful mother and a coal miner father in the boom-and-bust mountain economy, Holloway’s childhood is spent on the move from coal camp, to her granny’s beer garden, to a farm in southwest Virginia, to both coasts of Florida, and back to the mountains. Billie Brown, her pragmatic bootlegging granny, supplies rootedness, but cannot assuage her own daughter’s restless discontent or shore up the headstrong streak that will become her granddaughter’s greatest strength. A Willful Child shows us how a girl-becoming-a-woman gathers courage, confidence, and wisdom to weave a self from the pieces and places of a fragmented life.


Leaving:  Sometimes you Have to Leave
“Told with rich humor and an honest voice, Leaving includes a cast of characters who are so real you expect them to walk off the pages and into your life. This story will resonate with anyone who has ever felt the urge to pack a suitcase and head out to find their place in the world! A highly enjoyable read that you won’t want to end!” – Marcia Thornton Jones, author/co-author of 132 books including WOODFORD BRAVE, and The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series.

Like Forrest Gump, the narrator of Leaving gives you a roller coaster ride into pivotal social events of the Sixties and Seventies – the beginnings of the civil rights struggle in New York and Detroit; the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King; the women’s movement. She struggles with the prescribed roles for women and good girls long before there were words for what was happening. She’s a risk taker: leaving a small town in West Virginia for New York City; leaving a first marriage to go out on her own; surviving a mental breakdown; facing her second husband’s homosexuality; and again, leaving to build a life that comes from within.

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