I’m reading a book that makes me smile and, at times, makes me just plain laugh out loud. The name of the book is Anchored Nowhere; the author is Barbara Keirsbilck Bennett.
It just so happens that I know this author personally (we’re in the same writing group) and I’m sitting with her right now. It’s my pleasure now to introduce this lively lady to you.
Hi, Barb. I’m excited to have you here today. Please tell us where you live and a bit about your family.
Hi, Linda. I'm originally from Rochester, NY, but have lived in Raleigh, NC now for 20 years. In between, I have lived all over the world following my career Navy husband. Our two daughters, corresponding sons-in-law and seven grandchildren ranging in age from 6 to 22. live here as well.
Please tell us how long you’ve been writing.
I was always the kid passing notes in school and the first to finish book reports and the obligatory "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays. During our first overseas tour of duty, in Athens, Greece, I sent our families long narrations of our adventures.
What type of writing do you normally do?
Mostly true life, usual humorous stories. I left my poetry writing years back in my teens. It was, after all, the 60's so we all wrote poetry! I have done some fiction that could grow up to be full novels.
Give us a brief synopsis of your book.
ANCHORED NOWHERE: A Navy Wife's Story, is the very humorous trip through our 26 moves in 17 years. It's not about the military; that's just why we managed to be in the places that provided the opportunities for some exciting adventures. From being lost in the massive flea market of Athens to finding a half-naked stranger on our bathroom floor in the middle of the night in Japan, and passing through the gates into communist China, it was quite the adventure.
What prompted you to write it?
The real catalyst crashed into my life unexpectedly. Within ten days, our older daughter got married, our younger daughter left for Army basic training, and the company I worked for announced they were closing. Talk about an empty nest! Both my children and my job were gone in a week and a half. My husband said, "For twenty years you've been saying you were going to write a book about being a Navy wife. Do it." So I collected unemployment and spent six months writing the manuscript before looking for a new job.
How long did it take to write it?
I spent the next three years editing it. I think at some point, I realized a book is like your children; you just have to let them go and stand on their own merits.
Do you have a favorite line from the book?
Indeed, I do. Shortly after our transfer from Athens, Greece to southern Spain, the change in the water got to Kimmie, our only child at the time. It caused a sudden case of diarrhea, her first experience with it since becoming potty-trained. I still chuckle whenever I flash back to her frightened call to me from the bathroom, "Mommy, my fanny's throwing up!"
Is Anchored Nowhere published and, if so, when and by whom?
During the three years of re-editing, I sent out weekly batches of queries to agents and publishers. It didn't take long to realize very little, if anything, was even being read at the other end. So I started reading up on self-publishing and formed my own publishing company. Of course, that leaves all the marketing to me, but it was never about the money anyway, so I'm okay with that.
How can my readers get a copy?
Anyone interested could contact me directly. The cheapest way ($13) is to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for my address. Or it can be purchased through Amazon.
What do you do besides write? I retired last year following the loss of my husband and have gotten back into crafting as well as writing. I make baby blankets, purses, aprons, some jewelry and of course offer autographed copies of my book. I love getting to interact with people attending the craft fairs and shows.
What is your advice to would-be writers?
I think it's important to decide why you want to write. If it's for yourself, then just write. If you enjoy it and it's meaningful to you, then I encourage you to say what you want to say, regardless of where it goes once it's written down. If, like me, your main goal is to provide a legacy to successive generations, I encourage you to include as many of the details as you can. If you are writing to become rich, all I can do is sincerely wish you good luck.
What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?
I was astounded at how much information is available on the Internet. I also did not know how plentiful writing groups are in many areas. That would have been a big help.
What's next for you?
I am currently working on the sequel to that first book. I am simply writing individual squares of situations that I eventually hope to be able to knit into an afghan of the past 30 years.