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Local author publishes first book

Local author publishes first book

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 3:16 pm
By: By Sara Reid

From the moment she had the class in stitches over a simple fifth grade class assignment, Laurie Bethel knew she was destined to become a writer. Recently, the Palmersville native, who was first published in Hometown Magazine, made good on her destiny she saw her first book, “Journey to Forgiveness,” published. The self-proclaimed “pantster” (a person who writes literally by the seat of his or her pants with no outline) started the book Jan. 1, 2003, as a sort of New Year’s resolution. With help and encouragement from weekly meetings with friend, fellow writer and “instigator” Nelda Rachels, the project began to take shape. “It’s based on my mom’s life. Her father was physically abusive. She gave me a lot of information about the era around the Great Depression. The story about the farm —raising cotton, corn and livestock — it’s true. So is the journey to Chicago to find employment to support her mother and younger siblings. She’s 87 and her mind is as good as mine. Better sometimes. The hero and heroine must meet in the first part so I had to change it and rewrite it. That took two months. After my heroine Jenney boards the Illinois Central, the rest is fiction including the romance, though the hero, Austin, with whom she clashes, bears the same name and mischievous personality as my father. My mother and dad actually met on the Tennessee farm in the story. He was hired to help get in the cotton crops. They married after my dad returned from World War II and my mother returned from Chicago. Then the publisher said there weren’t enough meetings between the characters. Basically, I wrote it like I wanted and had to go back and change it later. It came out of my head and heart,” Bethel explained. In a year and a half, Bethel, also now known by the pen name Laurean Brooks, had completed three chapters before “life got in the way” and she went to work at a factory. She admitted to her husband, Terry, that she hoped to have the book finished for her birthday, but she never did. Instead, from July 20 through Nov. 5, she wrote the next 13 chapters and finished the book. Then came the process of searching for a publisher. She sent the manuscript to a publisher suggested by her online class and waited until the following April with no response. In July she sent the manuscript to the second publisher, Wild Rose Press, and got the answer she’d been looking for sadly yet ironically on the same day her brother passed away from a prolonged illness. The publisher wanted the first 50 pages. “I didn’t sign the contract until April of 2008 and it was like rewriting the book. I had to add 10 more interactions with the characters. The last half of the book was fine. My purpose in writing the book was that the reader who has been abused physically or emotionally will realize that forgiveness is the only key to true emotional freedom. There is always hope for the abused. Healing comes through letting go of negative emotions and letting go comes through forgiveness. I hope that all (and I hope there will be many) who read this book will recognize any emotional baggage in their lives and take the first steps to deal with the scars inflicted through past abuse whether physical or emotional. Secondly, I hope that those who have never experienced abuse will not judge so harshly those who seem a little distant or act a little different from the rest. We can never know what difficulties a person has experienced until we ourselves have gone through them,” she admitted. Bethel credits “God’s urging” with helping her complete the project. “This book would not have been possible without God’s urging. I felt Him nudging me to write it months before I gave in. I thought He meant to help heal the reader. But, as I became drawn into the writing, my own personal issues with forgiveness surfaced,” she said. By writing everything down by hand first, Bethel often prayed for inspiration to keep going and said she realized if she tried to tackle her work without praying, it ended up a waste. “I constantly reminded God, ‘This is YOUR book. If you want it out there, You will have to give me the right words.’ He always came through. At one place in the book, I found myself so overwhelmed with emotion that I had to shut the computer down and take a break. It was a scene where Jenny awoke from a nightmare of her childhood beatings, screaming, ‘Please stop! I promise … I’ll be good. Plea-se stop!’ Another thing about the book — though it deals with abuse, it contains many more humorous scenes than serious ones. So, the reader will laugh out loud, then cry a little. Overall, “Journey to Forgiveness” takes the reader on a roller coaster of ups and downs, leaving her/him with the realization that ‘complete’ forgiveness and the freedom that comes through it, can only come from giving the burden to God,” she remarked. But with the completion of this project, Bethel seems far from a decision to stop and take a rest. She’s already started on another work — a time travel book taking places in the Smoky Mountains in 1812 — that promises to combine myth and reality and maybe even a spook or two into another successful story. And to think that it all started with an essay recitation about Columbus in Mary Brann’s class that managed to capture the attention of the class and finished with a finished book and at least one more on the way. “Journey to Forgiveness” is a 340-page inspirational romance. It will be available as an electronic book on Nov. 14, 2009, at the publisher’s Web site, www.thewildrosepres.com, and in paperback at The Wild Rose Press site, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble on Feb. 20, 2009.wcp 9-16-08

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