Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As The Sycamore Grows--A Great Book

Jennie M. Helderman--Author of As The Sycamore Grows

You may remember a blog post about a writer I admire--Jennie Helderman. We met through our online critique group, wac. Jennie was taking a writing class in her home area. One of her assignments was to write a 1500 word magazine article on poverty in Alabama which described real people and their actual names.  She found a subject with help from the Director of a Women's Shelter. After an interview where she gathered enough material for her article, Jennie realized she had enough to write an entire book.

Perhaps it was a fleeting thought at first, but after the teacher read the article she'd written, he agreed that it could easily be expanded into a full length book. Perhaps the word easily is not appropriate as it took a journey of five years duration to bring the idea to published book. But today, the book is a reality.

Jennie submitted her book a chapter at a time to our wac group, and we picked it apart, giving suggestions about places that might not be clear enough, or exclaiming over a particularly well done section. We watched as she wrote and rewrote so that the story would do justice to the people in it and send the right message to those who read it. We watched at a conference where we had all gathered as she pitched her book to an agent.

Once the book was complete, she began the masochistic marketing process. That adjective may be a bit strong, but anyone who is trying to sell a book knows they are putting themselves up for being rejected time and again. It can feel like standing at a whipping post with agent after agent, or editor after editor thrashing you. But if you believe in what you've written, as Jennie did, being published can happen.

I have been reading my copy of  As The Sycamore Grows, and even though I know the story of a woman's fight for freedom well, I'm captivated by it, thanks in part to excellent writing. In only pages, I found myself completely drawn into Ginger's story as told by Jennie. She gives equal time to Mike's story as well. For, in any abusive marriage, there are two characters  playing out the story. Ginger's tale is one of escape from a controlling, abusive husband, of finding a safe haven, and finally of making a new life for herself and her two boys.It's a fascinating read, and I feel privileged to have been able to watch this book grow from a seed to full fruit.

Amazon has a page that has the book details and an editorial review. They are also selling it at a reduced price. To learn more, go to:

1 comment:

  1. I popped over to Amazon and read about this book. It sounds like a good one. When I've caught up on the books I already have, I'm going to read this one. I've added it to my wish list.