Retro Post (third of four)

Reminder on the purpose of these Retro Posts:  I thought that readers might be interested in a few blog posts that I wrote back when I was in the middle of writing SUMMERSVILLE.  They primarily cover how I got started writing, my process, and some of the challenges I faced along the way.  Let me know what you think!

LET ME BACK UP A STEP.   (Originally posted 1/22/14, edited for clarity)

Although I formally started writing the book SUMMERSVILLE in May 2013, effectively I started well before that.  I had often thought that a particular story about my sister, who was adopted by my parents in 1957, was poignant and worthy of being told.  I’d had this thought for a time, and then something else happened to her around 2006 that made the story all that more amazing.

I planned my February 2013 retirement from the bank months ahead of time–back in August 2012.  So for seven months, I was considering what sort of second career I would pursue, and I decided early on it would be something to do with writing.  I started reading about different ways of writing to make money, and I came across Lee Gutkind’s book, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction — from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between.”

That book may have changed my life, or at least strongly influenced the turn it would take.  Lee described his involvement with the Creative Nonfiction movement and mentioned his quarterly journal by the same name.  I subscribed to the journal and found through the website that the organization also offered various writing courses.  So I signed up for “Foundations of Creative Nonfiction,” a 10-week class that started in January 2013.  We had to write three 3,500 word essays, and one of mine was my first attempt at telling my sister’s story.  Of course the instructor and my two peer reviewers had suggestions for improvement, but the story itself was very well received.

My active work for the bank and this writing course ended at about the same time.  I had been heavily researching copy writing as a possible second career, and I had also set up a website to offer writing and editorial services, but I was struggling with how I was going to market myself.  Not long after that was when my husband asked the pivotal question, “Why don’t you just stop all this scatter shot stuff and write a book?”

And that is how the idea for SUMMERSVILLE was incubated.

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Retro Post (second of four)

HOW DO YOU START A BOOK IF YOU’VE NEVER WRITTEN ONE BEFORE?  (Originally posted 1/7/14, edited for clarity)

My dad will be ninety-three in about a month, and I certainly could not have even begun this book without him.  It would have been impossible to write about our experience in Summersville without being able to write about my parents’ lives before they got there.  They both grew up in southern West Virginia in the 1920s and ’30s, got married in the ’40s, and then lived in Summersville from the late ’40s to the mid ’70s.

My mom died in 2007, and since I did not start this book until 2013, I have not had the benefit of interviewing her as I have been able to do with Dad and my sister Caroline.  Very sadly, I also have not been able to interview my brother Billy because he died at the very young age of fifty-seven in 2009.  Of course, I have my memories of them and memories of things they told me, but having Dad and Caroline around to fill in the many blanks in my own memory has been invaluable.  Fortunately we all get along well, and no one has yet threatened to shoot me if I ask another question or send another email.  In fact, I think they are actually enjoying it.

Without giving away the plot of the book, I will say we lived a very interesting life in a small town in West Virginia.  As often happens with cases like this, when I later in life recounted some of these stories to others, I would hear the much cliched refrain, “You should write a book!”  So with my husband’s encouragement, I started recording and ordering all the events that, in my mind, were book-worthy.  And thus, the process was begun.

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Retro Post (first of four)

I thought that readers might be interested in a few blog posts that I wrote back when I was in the middle of writing SUMMERSVILLE.  They primarily cover how I got started writing, my process, and some of the challenges I faced along the way.  I will post them over the next week.  Let me know what you think!

WELCOME 2014!  (Originally posted 1/1/14, edited for clarity)

I’m glad you’re finally here because this is the year, Providence willing, that I will publish my first book.

First, a gigantic thanks to my husband, Emmett, for fully supporting me in my decision to retire from Bank of America last year, after a 27+ year career in banking.  Banking, including my earlier stints at a small bank in Texas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, was very good to me, but it was time for me to pursue a second career.

Initially, I looked at things like copy writing.  The only way I could plausibly do that would be if I were deeply passionate about the product or service and the company, and it’s just not simple to fall into that kind of situation.  I settled on setting up a writing and editorial services company.  I fretted over how I would market myself, locally and on the web.  I futzed around with that for a couple of months but did not get much farther than creating a website.

One day in May 2013, my husband said, “Why don’t you just write a book?”  I asked him if he was serious. Yes, he was–just stop all this scatter shot activity and write the book you’ve always wanted to write, he said.  So I started on a memoir about the small town in West Virginia where I grew up, where my family was steeped in local politics, and where we led such a privileged, though at times challenging, life.  Now I’m about 60 percent through the first draft, and I’m actually believing that publishing it in 2014 is a reality.

But I really think I needed 2014 to show up before it would finally come to fruition.  So as Marvin Gaye would croon, “Let’s get it on!”


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My Website is Taking Shape in January 2015!

My new website is in process of being designed, so you may see some pretty dramatic changes through January, but my plan is for construction to be complete by Feb 1.

Then I can spend more time blogging, working on my next project, and generally being useful to mankind.

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My Book “SUMMERSVILLE” is now out!

“SUMMERSVILLE – My Family’s Life of Privilege, Politics, and Passion in Small-Town West Virginia” is now available at Amazon!

Front Cover Only

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Alice Bryant Byrd – Almost There

I retired from 27+ years in banking in early 2013 so that I could pursue a second career in writing.  After flailing about for a couple of months researching copy writing, writing articles for magazines, freelance writing, editing services, and so on, my husband said one day, “Why don’t you just write a book?”

I’d been thinking about that too, but I was trying to marry my desire to write with an occupation that might supplement my post-retirement income, which consists mostly of deferred bonuses that I receive once a year for three years.  I have made a miniscule amount of income by offering editorial services, but that is about it.

So in May 2013, I started writing my book–a memoir about the small town in West Virginia where I grew up and where my dad was mayor for 15 years.  I finally completed that book in July of 2014, and it should be published within about three weeks as it is currently with the printer.  It will also be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and most of the other major online booksellers.

I’m told that if you are an author, you must have an online presence, an author platform as they say.  I’m in process of figuring that out, and I humbly offer up this first blog post.  I’m also in process of deciding if I want to “jump the fence” and write a novel for my second effort.

If anyone has words of encouragement or wisdom, please don’t hold back on me. Share!


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