I Can Do It Myself, Said The Little Red Hen…

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And she did.

In March, 2009, I was laid off from a job I loved and had hoped to have until retirement. The economic downturn changed my plans with a single visit in my office from my boss. I was a librarian without a library, a writer without an assignment, and an awards manager without an awards program. Needless to say, I was shocked and hurt that this had happened to me.

I went home, nursed my damaged ego for a few days, and then began thinking about what I wanted to do. I began applying for jobs, but it seemed as if nobody was hiring. The unemployment rate was growing by the day, and I was among the downturn’s victims. I began looking at something to occupy my brain and body until a job came my way.

I had always said that I wanted to write a novel some day, and as the thought began taking shape in my brain, I decided that this might be the time to actually do what I had been talking about for years. I got busy, spending a few hours each day developing my story and writing my book. It took about six months for me to write it, and when I was done, I worked up all the courage I could muster, and asked a few friends to read it. I was petrified of what they would have to say. But, wonder of wonders, they liked it!

That was the beginning of Fishbowls and Birdcages. Later that year, I sent the first 40 pages to a literary agent that Brian knew, and with fingers crossed, waited to hear what she had to say. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. She liked what she read, but told me that as a first-time author, my chances of getting published were remote. She couldn’t take the chance on me. I was disappointed, of course, but I told myself that I had done what I said I would do – write a novel. I’d just have to figure out a way to get it published.

I had loved the Stephen King novel, The Green Mile, especially the way he released the book in serial fashion, making his readers wait on pins and needles for the next installment. I could do the same thing! But I would release my story as a blog. I created a blog specifically for my book. Using Facebook as my marketing tool, I posted a blog link every few days – one or two chapters at a time – to entice people to read it. I think that probably about 20 people read the book, and a few were kind enough to tell me that they liked it. I was satisfied. I had accomplished my goal in writing a novel. I let go of the idea of publishing it, and tucked it away in the recesses of my computer.

Time passed, life happened, and my story sat silent until last year, when I decided to pick it up and read it again. As I read, I made notes, marked some changes that I wanted to make, highlighted stuff to be deleted, and found what I called a Fatal Flaw in the story. None of my readers had ever mentioned this to me. I wondered how I had missed it and how they could have missed it, too. – maybe they were too kind to say anything. I plotted the story’s timeline, re-worked it, deleted parts that weren’t necessary to the story, corrected the Fatal Flaw, added a couple of bridge chapters to make the story flow more smoothly, and began thinking again about the possibility of publishing.

The problem was that I didn’t have any money. I knew I would have to do it myself if I wanted my book published, but I didn’t know where to start. That’s when my son, Brian, got into the act. One night while talking to him on the phone about writing in general, and about his writing more specifically, I mentioned to him that I sure would love to publish my book. He told me about CreateSpace, a website he was using to publish his novel, and he encouraged me to take a look at it. I asked him to read my manuscript and tell me if he thought it was worthy of the publishing effort. A few days after I emailed him the story, he phoned me and said, “Go for it, Mom.” That was all I needed to hear!

Knowing Brian and his DIYDS motto for so many of his creative projects, I began thinking, “I can do it myself!” And with his help and encouragement, I can now announce that my novel, Fishbowls and Birdcages is now available for sale on Amazon.com.

Drawing on the 17 years of my life that I was a preacher’s wife, I created a fictional memoir of Fran, who found herself in a similar role as the one I had for those years. The story is not an autobiography, and the characters are not real. A few of them are inspired by people I knew, and some of the events are similar to those I encountered during those years. But Fran’s story is not my story, and Fran’s husband’s story is fictional, as well. While there might be a little of me in Fran, she is not me. Many of her thoughts and beliefs mirror mine after a fashion, but we are different and separate, and our faith journeys, while somewhat similar, are not the same.

It has been quite a journey for me. I am excited and terrified. I hope that people will like my book, and I am afraid they won’t. I don’t expect it to be a bestseller – my aim is not unrealistically high. My hope is that Fran’s story may touch someone’s heart, help someone through a difficult time, or cause someone to stop and think about faith in God and God’s calling.

I invite my blog readers to check out my novel on Amazon.com. I’d love for you to read it!

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2 thoughts on “I Can Do It Myself, Said The Little Red Hen…

  1. Scottie Atkins Spry

    You already know that I loved the book! Whether it was from your personal story or the fictional Fran, I found so much I could identify with from my own life. I would be willing to bet that many other readers will find the same thing, and that’s what makes the novel so beautiful. I laughed and I cried; you can’t get more personal or involved in the story than that! Kudos to you, Jennie! I am so glad you figured out a way to make it happen!

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