Becky Alexander: 1,264 Days

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Pastor Becky Alexander, author of One Smile, One Arm. Becky’s book includes a collection of stories that originated on her blog

I waited one thousand two hundred sixty-four days for it, and when it came, I wasn’t home.

My book One Smile, One Arm began as a single post on a new blog on December 27, 2009. I actually have someone I don’t like very much to thank for it, though I will never admit that to him. This person had done some infuriating things and my stress level was through the roof. I decided as a distraction I would write a story about my life, something in

Pastor Becky Alexander offers 25 heartwarming and humorous stories about life with a short arm.

Pastor Becky Alexander offers 25 heartwarming and humorous stories about life with a short arm.

which he could not have an ounce of input. As I wrote, the words poured out onto the page. They were words about my first job, and my first experience of discrimination…

I looked at her blankly and blurted out, “What?” Confused, I replayed the words in my head. I couldn’t process them. I struggled, “What does my arm have to do with custard-filled doughnuts?” I simply could not make the connection. 

In that one unexpected moment, I was introduced to the rest of my life.

I titled the story “Custard-Filled Doughnuts” and you can find it on page 25 in my book. Writing the story energized me, renewed my wounded spirit. So I kept doing it. Three weeks later, I posted “Capitol Hill. ” Six weeks after that, I posted “Dumbest Question.” I continued writing and I never stopped.

Over a period of three years, I accumulated twenty-five stories about my life experiences with one arm. I toyed with the idea of getting them published, even submitted them a few places. One of my posts, “Friday Night Lights,” was included in a book called When God Makes Lemonade. But this January, as I listed my goals for 2013, I got serious about it. Goal #4 stated: Publish One Smile, One Arm.

Becky shot this photo upon receiving the first copy of her book.

The trouble was I had no idea how to publish a book. I just dove in. I found a publisher, WestBow Press. I attended the “Called to Write Conference” in Pittsburg, Kansas to learn all I could. I pushed through the submission phase, the editorial phase, the cover design phase, and the book interior design phase. Then in early June, I received this email message:

Production of your book is now complete and we are ready to send the book files to printer. Congratulations on the publication of your book!

Wow. Wow. Wow. That’s all I’ve got to say. On June 12, 2013, a package arrived in the mail—and I wasn’t home to receive it. I guess I can’t complain, as I was in Hawaii. My daughter Cassie opened the package and texted me a picture.

I have loved this journey of 1,264 days. So now what? On to the next journey!

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Alice Anderson: Author of more than 60 books shares why she chose WestBow Press

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Alice Anderson; who’s authored more than 60 books — this summer penning eight simultaneously. As a ghostwriter, she’s never credited with many of her literary creations.  Alice did put her name on one of her latest works though, “Through the Bible in High Heels,” recently self-published with WestBow Press.

Anderson coverThe bottom line on why I chose WestBow Press?  It was the marketing and distribution services that lured me in.  If I’m going to continue to support myself by authoring books, I need to concentrate on the actual writing process and on marketing my services as an author-for-hire or ghostwriter. Obviously I do as much marketing of my own books as I can: speaking at women’s groups, writers’ groups, and hosting book signings I’ve arranged across New England. I also knew I could not get as wide a distribution by myself as a royalty publisher could provide. That was especially relevant for my latest book, Through the Bible in High Heels, published by WestBow Press.

Nothing in the literary world is as difficult for me as catching my own typos and bloopers.  Even though I always read a finished manuscript aloud to catch things the eyes miss, “oopsies” still fly under my radar.  My eyes look at my manuscript and see it as a mother sees her only child: perfect—except it almost never is.  The editorial services at WestBow caught things I would have never noticed, because I’m too close to my own work.  And they did it nicely, without making me feel like a neophyte.

Writing a book during your lifetime is quite an accomplishment, Alice Anderson’s written more than 60.

The WestBow staff is wonderful to work with!  (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Horrors!  This is one author who’s been around the printing press a few dozen times, but please remember, I’m writing to you as a friend, not a grammar guru.)  Every person I interfaced with at WestBow was pleasant, efficient, professional, and excited about my book.  That meant a great deal to someone working at home alone.  I really didn’t feel alone on this project, because WestBow staff were a phone call away, cheering me on and answering my concerns as they arose.

By the time the complimentary copies of High Heels arrived, I actually felt sadness at not being able to work with them anymore!  Maybe I should write another book and have WestBow publish it? Actually, Through the Bible in Work Boots is already written and waiting in the wings. Too many husbands wanted to know when I was going to write one for them. Can the teenagers be far behind?

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Gordon C. Helsel: Fulfilling a Battlefield Promise to God

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Gordon C. Helsel; Vietnam veteran, speaker and author of  “The Day God Showed Up.” 

The motivation for my book, The Day God Showed Up, began with an encounter in the confines of my kitchen while my wife and I enjoyed our first cup of coffee for the day. Suddenly a strange quiet came over me and I could not hear a word my wife was saying. Even the usual barking and playing of our Yorkshire Terriers became inaudible. The room was completely silent.

I was in sort of a fog and I heard an inner voice saying very plainly: “Do you remember what you promised Me 40-plus years ago?”

I knew right away what the message meant. I had made a promise to God when I was a U.S. Army sergeant bleeding to death in the Vietnam War. I said, “If you get me out of this, I will do whatever you want me to do!”

After I heard the Voice, my experiences in Vietnam came flooding back.

February 27, 1968 was the worst day of my life. I was convinced it would be my last day on Earth. Yet as I reveal in the book, God had mercy on me and He showed up to save my life in a most surprising way.

Our mission on that day was to find and destroy the 2nd Battalion of hardened, well-trained North Vietnamese. It was about midday as my company moved toward the summit of a vast mountain. I saw my friends Mike and Art die and, as I describe in the book, I will always remember their faces. I’m not alone with these memories. Virtually all combat veterans forever remember their fallen brothers in arms.

After Mike and Art died, I ran firing to my left. The first bullet hit my left side, right under my heart. Somehow I got to my feet and started to run again. The next bullet struck my left forearm. That took me down and I couldn’t move because blood gushed from my wound with every beat of my heart.

After the miracle that saved my life, someone picked me up and took me to safety. I couldn’t speak, but as I stared at the sky, I made my promise to God.

Many miracles took place on that trail. The interaction with folks who’ve read my book is simply phenomenal. Some told me about how God showed up for them in their times of crisis. Many said they couldn’t put the book down. Many cried and said they recommend it to other veterans to help them heal from their battle scars.

I take no credit for the book. I wrote it to thank God and everyone who honorably served our country. I pray that everyone who reads it will fully understand: To God be the glory!

– Gordon C. Helsel
11/4/2013

Note: Mr. Helsel will be holding a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 10 (details); and a Veteran’s Day event at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Va., on Nov. 11 (details). More information on Mr. Helsel is available at www.TheDayGodShowedUp.com.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 300- 450 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes