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Real Women of Atlanta


Most great lessons begin with a question. It was a question that began a conversation that led to an idea which then became a book. That question was, “Have you seen the reality TV show about Atlanta housewives?”

The authors of Atlanta's Real Women celebrate the "unveiling" of their book at Chateau Elan.

The conversations that followed motivated a group of amazing women to tell their own stories. While their stories might not garner massive viewer ratings or bring in national advertising revenue, they still contend that the fourteen stories they have to tell are very real and very relevant. And they are right. 

Recently, the book that started with a simple conversation around a kitchen table found its way into print and a celebration ensued. Complete with gospel song, gracious thanks and a room that absolutely buzzed with the energy of real women, The Real Women of Atlanta was unveiled before an enthusiastic crowd in a lovely room at Chateau Elan. Fourteen women took to the stage and smiled graciously, laughed heartily and supported one another as their “baby” was brought into the world. Fourteen chapters that tell stories about love, loss, insanity, business and countless other “realities” are bound together just as the authors are bound to one another. 

Gwinnett County never saw a more fiery or feisty Realtor than Myra Lewis Williams. The former Mrs. Jerry Lee Lewis had written a book about her life as the very young bride of the famous piano man that eventually became the movie Great Balls of Fire. Her chapter, entitled Don’t Shoot the Piano Player…Let Me, is a wild ride from start to finish. The woman who blossomed from a frightened young girl is an amazing and gracious Southern Belle. 

Another Southern Belle who arose from her own ashes is the engaging Haywood Smith whose fiction novels about southern women and their unique, funny, and uplifting lives are often on the best seller list. Most likely, her book, The Red Hat Club, is the most well-recognized of her accomplishments. Her website is indicative of her personality and highly entertaining. After starting her writing career with historical novels and enduring a rough divorce, Haywood switched genres and now writes… “Hell Hath No Fury” hardback books about women who help each other to get over it and get better when their lives fall apart. ( 

Lyrically and vocally gifted gospel singer/songwriter, Antonia Lawrence, also a Gwinnett resident, entertained the crowd at Chateau Elan with her Power of a Woman. The song is also the title of her chapter in the book. Antonia writes of a life of ministry and how God’s gifts are to be cherished and shared to be all that He created you to be. She tells her story in such a way that her compelling lyrics are brought to life with the realities that many women face as single moms and caregivers. After reading her chapter, you will never again “underestimate the power of a woman.” 

The power of the fourteen women who contributed to the book was harnessed and directed by two very special ladies who could see that their stories were worthy of publication. Linda Hughes and Christine Martinello are the primary forces behind the project that is gathering more steam as it finds a voice among the real women of Atlanta. Together with a local publisher (Deeds), Linda and Christine used their talents in public speaking and education to bring the stories of finding “real self” to print. 

Linda tells a story of triumphing over a variety of very normal feelings that she labels “crazies”. Any “real” person has points of feeling less than sane every once in a while and Linda’s story shows that moving forward toward “sanity” is the only way to go. She does admit, “Goin’ crazy ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes it’s much better.” Looking at life from a different point of view is imperative and her “Lessons From The Looney Bin” allow us to look at just how she managed to find her real self in an off-beat world. 

Christine’s reality spans a lifetime of balancing her roles as wife, mother and business owner. Her best-selling book, The Momager© Guide: Empowering Moms to Leave a Loving Legacy, has led her to appear as a media guest on CNN, FOX and radio talk shows. Her two popular blogs, Get Real and Momager©, provide advice on how to cast off shadows and step into your own light. 

The fourteen stories included in The Real Women of Atlanta will have you laughing at these women who have dared to share their very personal journeys. A little bit of each woman stays with you after reading her chapter. Finding your own voice, with the advice of women who have found theirs is a journey well worth beginning by picking up a copy of The Real Women of Atlanta.  

“Atlanta’s Real Women” 

Linda Hughes

Christine Martinello

Myra Lewis Williams

Antonia Lawrence

Elizabeth Champlin

Joyce Bone

Deborah Alexander

Sue O’Connor

Elisabeth Butler

Marka Palmer

Bonnie Ross Parker

LuAnn Cooley

Kathryn  Gray – White

Haywood Smith