Author: Jennie Miller Helderman

ISBN: 9780982773208

Publisher: The Summers Bridge Press

Click Here To Purchase As the Sycamore Grows

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Jennie Miller author of As the sycamore grows.

Good day Jennie and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How did you get started in writing and what is the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?

Jennie:

In my family you were expected to thread red worms onto a bream hook or tell stories. I did both. Writing stories followed as naturally as telling them, from my first play at age ten to profiles for an alumnae magazine at middle age. But I didn’t think of myself as a writer. Maybe it was too natural for me. Maybe it was that encounter with James Joyce in English 101 that left me feeling I didn’t measure up. Either way, I didn’t try to sell my work nor did I save clips, not even for the story the New York Times published verbatim but without my byline. When I finally claimed the title of writer, I valued my work more. And that’s when I bumped head-on into the difficult part of writing---selling.

Norm:

How did you decide you were ready to write As the sycamore grows?

Jennie:

I jumped in with both feet without making a conscious decision that I was ready. My assignment was a 1500 word article due in two weeks, and I met that deadline. The problem? The story wouldn’t compact into the word count, nor into 2500 words. By that time, I had learned there was even more than what drew me in. That’s the way Sycamore unfolded, each new door revealing a deeper level. I listened, taped, made notes and photos until I’d filled a bookshelf with notebooks and then wrote more. I would spread the notebooks and photos all around me when I wrote, on my desk, circling my chair on the floor. One day it occurred to me that I’d built a nest. I stepped into it each time I returned to the computer.

Eventually the 1500 words grew to 90,000 and the two weeks to five years. It was a journey of discovery for me right up to the last chapters. Look what I learned from Mike in the electrically-charged air of an empty store during a thunderstorm.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Jennie:

I told somebody else’s story---two somebodies. Aside from the logistics involved, meetings, time and miles, checking, cross-checking, etc., I felt a deep obligation to tell it right. Mike had never dodged my questions. Ginger had been totally honest, even about the darkest memories. I don’t know that anyone has ever trusted me so completely, and that weighed like a boulder on my shoulders. I had to honor their trust by getting the story right. I gave it my best effort. Ginger tells me she’s pleased, that I met the challenge. I haven’t heard from Mike. We haven’t talked in a long time.

Norm:

What were the most surprising things you learned in writing As the sycamore grows?

Jennie:

That eggs will keep for a year in a bucket of fat. How to operate a chicken plucker. How to slow the processing of a check by the bank. How people, and how many people, live under the radar screen of the law and government.

Norm:

Whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why? As a follow up, why do you think this is an important book at this time?

Jennie:

I hope any reader will find it a compelling story. As to who might gain from it, anyone who feels controlled by another or knows someone controlled or controlling. Ginger escaped and that gives hope to others. People can change, and that offers hope even to batterers.

But the book raises many issues. I’ll tackle the timely one of the role of religion and abuse. We read accounts in the news about horrific deeds done in other lands in the name of religion but there are practices in U.S. churches that foster or condone one person’s control of others. I know the book has already generated discussion in some churches. I hope it stirs up enough questions to bring about change. At the very least, I ‘d like to see women be counselled to find safety, rather than return to dangerous situations.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?

Jennie:

Yes to all of the above. Technology leapfrogged over the publishing industry, then it was whammied by the recession. I see the industry in an upheaval and, at my age, I can’t wait for them to sort it out. Besides, the expectation today is for the author to do the marketing and promotion. If I’m going to do the work, I want the rewards. So, I formed my own company, Summers Bridgewater Press, Inc., and published As the Sycamore Grows. Work? Oh, yes, and risks. It’s too early to look for rewards, other than the satisfaction I feel.

Norm:

How have you used the Internet to boost your writing career and will there by  any unique ways you'll be marketing your book that is different from how others authors market their books?

Jennie:

For someone who is self-taught and menu-dependent, I have or intend to use the Internet in every way possible. I know how to use links, tags, keywords, widgets, plug-ins, and spiders but don’t have the first concept of what they are. I have a website, a blog, and a good host. As to different ways to market my book, sure, but I’m not ready to divulge secrets yet. Only that one plan has to do with scissors.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and As The Sycamore Grows?

Jennie:

On the WEB on my WEBSITE on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Norm:

What is next for Jennie Miller Helderman and is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Jennie:

I have more stories running through my head than I’ll ever get to paper. I know a former Ku Klux Klansman I want to interview. There’s the story about the visionary artist who paints her dreams on her doublewide. The historical novel I set aside to write Sycamore. Lots of funeral stories. And now people are coming to me with their stories to tell.

What I’d like to add is that I’d like readers to come away from Sycamore with a deep feeling for the people in the book, and that includes Mike. Ginger believes each of us holds some piece of humanity within us that allows for change and thus for hope. I want the reader to see that humanity in Ginger and Mike. And then in all of us.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Jennie:

And my thanks to you.

Click Here To Purchase As the Sycamore Grows

CLICK HERE TO READ NORM'S REVIEW OF AS THE SYCAMORE GROWS

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