A few years ago I spoke at an area church where an older gentleman approached me to talk about a book he was trying to write.
His story was personal, heartbreaking in many ways, and he was struggling to navigate the technical aspects of writing and publishing.
I listened closely, wished him well — and left.
In some ways that encounter has haunted me. I believe most people have a story to tell — and many need help with the telling. While these stories may not be blockbuster bestsellers, they offer unique voices for our booklovers’ world.
That’s why I particularly like a new little, spiral-bound book edited by Julia Pettiette Doolin, a local psychologist.
Doolin didn’t walk away when she discovered words that needed capturing. She and a group of friends have helped a cancer survivor, whose privacy they guard, calling her only “Miss Bettye,” publish two books.
“Trusting the Detours: A Spiritual Guide for College Students” is the most recent, a book of meditations, professionally printed with color photographs by local photographer Pat Harrington.
When Bettye was diagnosed with advanced cancer several years ago, she was 69 and had never visited a physician’s office or a hospital, according to Doolin. Volunteers became friends as they took her to appointments.
“I am continually amazed at the deep and profound level of Bettye’s spirituality,” Doolin said. “I write down her sayings and her words of wisdom whenever I have the opportunity. I also ask Bettye to write down her thoughts when she is at home and in prayer.”
The writer, though financially poor, is rich in wisdom with what her friends call “Bettyisms.” Any profit from the books go for such things as dental expenses, medication and even purchasing a new pair of glasses for her.
Doolin, mother of four and a busy professional, had many ideas for books she intended to write — had even started on “a book that applies spiritual techniques toward managing anxiety,” she said. “For years I have formulated in my mind the books that I plan to write in the future.”
But not many pages had been written when she felt called to this different kind of book venture — because of Bettye, who “has taught me more than I learned in most of my psychology courses.”
“As I walk on this journey with her, I am convinced that she has many words of wisdom that can help others. It is important to get her message out there — now — because her story can provide hope and inspiration to many. My books as related to spirituality and psychology will come later…”
“Trusting The Detours” is available at Harrington House Studio and Gallery, Jacob’s Well, St. Paul’s Gift Shop, Paper Tulip and Village Washstand and retails for $18.
Tragedy and hope
Another recent local book, very personal and spiritual, is “God’s Love Endures Forever” by Ajay Jawahar, a local neurosurgeon, and his daughter, Stuti.
This book is an intimate account of the family watching a beloved daughter struggle for her life after an automobile accident — and the spiritual lessons that accompanied her physical healing. Written in diary form, it includes thoughts from father and daughter, both painful and inspiring.
Ajay Jawahar speaks and signs copies of books for local groups, including an upcoming June 12 appearance for the Shreveport Optimist Club. In addition, the book will be featured at the Broadmoor branch of Shreve Memorial Library, 5:30-7 p.m. July 9, as part of a summer reading program: “Everyone is a hero.”
“God’s Love Endures Forever,” also available at Amazon.com, retails in paperback for $19.99 and is available as an e-book.
Inspired? Capture a story.
Maybe this summer is a good time to put your story on paper.
About a dozen years ago, I went to a library book-signing by Monica Carter Tagore, former columnist for The Times. She had published her first novel, and I asked that day how she’d done it.
She was matter-of-fact: If you want to write a book, sit down and write it.
Since then, by the way, she has authored or ghostwritten 45 more books, fiction and nonfiction. She and her husband own RootSky Creative, based in Los Angeles. They produce books, training programs, radio shows and webinars for clients. (For more information, see monicacartertagore.com.)
Author friend Kathleen Y’Barbo puts a similar twist on how to capture a story: “Writers write. Works every time.” (For more on Y’Barbo: kathleenybarbo.com.)
So, how about it? Is there a story out there that you need to write or help someone else with?
Happy reading — and writing!
Author Judy Christie lives, reads and writes in Shreveport. For more information on her novels, including “Wreath, A Girl,” see www.judychristie.com. Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.