Ginger Truitt, a newspaper columnist whose work can be found in The Paper of Montgomery County, shouldn't need anyone to confirm for her the high quality of her writing. A little validation never hurts though.

Recently, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists honored Ginger with a third-place award for humor writing in newspapers under 50,000-circulation. To translate, that would include every newspaper in Indiana except Indianapolis, South Bend, Ft. Wayne, Munster, Merrillville and Evansville.

Not bad for a woman who got into newspapers because a camera pooped out (more on that later). For now, this wife and mother of five from Thorntown found herself in Hartford, Conn., "hobnobbing with Pulitzer Prize winners," including Dave Barry.

"He was really very kind, very funny, hysterical," Ginger said. "It was really neat. He congratulated me. I congratulated him. He made some jokes about Indiana and what a Hoosier is." Barry told Ginger about the backlash he received from our fair state after asking that question - and offering a few answers himself - in print.

Talking humor columns with perhaps the king of humor columns . . . pretty heady stuff.

The conference was in late June and Ginger is back at home in Thorntown. She's doing what she's done so well, writing.

"Not many kids have their lives documented this way," she explained in reference to her five children often winding their way into her columns.

Back to the camera that didn't work and a columnist who almost wasn't.

"I had been writing on a message board online with some other moms and they encouraged me to write a newspaper column," she explained, remembering back about a dozen years. "I just thought that was impossible. Then one day I was at a festival and Tony Cotten saw that I was taking pictures. He said his camera had died and he was starting a weekly newspaper in Lebanon and asked if I would e-mail my pictures to him. I told him I would and then I got my courage up and asked if I did that would he take a look at some stories I had written?"

That was the beginning. Cotten soon had a weekly newspaper up and publishing in Lebanon and Ginger Truitt was a bonafide columnist.

Twelve years and countless stories later, a national group of her peers affirmed what Cotten first saw - a real talent.

This is what she wrote in The Paper a couple of months ago.

"I've always wanted to write. As a fourth grader, I looked forward to summer because it meant I could devote entire days to sitting at the typewriter, pecking out the stories that were swirling in my head. I used notebook paper and yarn to create a book of writing ideas, and hung it on my bedpost so that I could jot down thoughts that came to me during the night. As a young mother, I was accepted into the Children's Institute of Literature. It was a mail-in writing course, and to be honest, I'm not sure anyone with a credit card has ever been denied admission. But before the days of internet possibilities, this was the only step I knew to further my writing."

That was from a touching column Ginger wrote after Cotten passed away at only 47 years old. Of course she didn't forget the man who gave her a chance. He would have enjoyed the nod. He would have enjoyed even more knowing the great honor bestowed on Ginger.

It was something they both deserved.