By Maggie Caraway
For the Opelika Observer
Betsy Lowery, a local author, now has two novels in the Auburn Public Library. Her “southern fiction” novels involve mystery, romance, “good, clean fun” and are beloved by her loyal readers.
Lowery was born in Reidsville, North Carolina, a rural community 21 miles from Greensboro. Ever since she was in middle school, Lowery has found solace in the written word.
“From my middle school years, I was processing life in the written word … A lot of times you have that misunderstanding between yourself and a school friend and you can’t really resolve it until you hand the person a letter that says exactly what you wanted to say but you were too nervous or couldn’t get the words out — I’m that kind of person,” she said.
Lowery was assigned small writing tasks while working her first job with the Women’s Missionary Union but claimed, “I did not always have that burning fire in my early years to be a novelist.”
She then spent the next 10 years writing puzzles for Dell and Penny Press before they fell back economically.
Lowery shared her interest in poetry with a friend, who set her up with an agent. This ultimately led to the publication of her first book, a devotional for women.
“Pause: Everyday Prayers for Everyday Women” was published in 2004 and provides short prayers for every day of the year. It makes spending time with God easier for busy women. These prayers include “reflections, questions, confessions, expressions of joy and worry and simply listening.”
Lowery’s devotional was a success, however, none of her other ideas for nonfiction went anywhere. It was not until 2011 when the idea for her first novel was born.
Lowery was visiting in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in February 2011 and felt inspired by the town as well as a documentary that was airing on her hotel’s television, “Southern Highlander.”
The documentary was made in 1947 by Ford Motor Company and it focuses on a school teacher in the Appalachian Mountains. Lowery claimed the documentary “really hooked” her. She found it on YouTube and rewatched it several times.
“It really planted the seed for a setting,” she said.
Lowery describes her first novel, “A Stranger’s Promise,” as “mountainous misadventures.” The book summary reads “From the church librarian to the garage mechanic, folks in Crook Mountain, Tennessee, seem to be either hindering or helping an old missing-person investigation. And a certain waitress who’s fairly new in town may have more at stake than any of them. Now, throw in Joan Ryan, a semi-retired dietitian from Atlanta who arrives on the scene by pure happenstance. Joan may be the secret ingredient in a recipe of comedy, resourcefulness and danger.”
Lowery’s second novel, and sequel to her first, is titled “No Doubt It’s Love.”
This novel features some of the same beloved characters from “A Stranger’s Promise,” plus some new faces.
“Sam and Grace never dreamed that the happy news of their engagement would stir up such outright interference — from a pompous aunt, an overeager sister and a mysterious stranger. On top of that, one of them has a secret that won’t stay buried, and it’s causing second thoughts in the other. With all of this opposition swirling around them, the two forge their own path of discovery while parents, the officiating minister and a day visitor who’s in town for a football game each impart needed counsel.”
Lowery shared that she seeks inspiration to write from “blank paper, empty journals, stone benches and shaded walks at places like Callaway Gardens.” She has also been influenced by fellow fiction authors Beverly Cleary and Grace Livingston Hill.
Lowery explained what fiction means to her.
“I love to say that my own personal definition of fiction is a story that never happened anywhere except in the writer’s imagination.”
Her complex, yet relatable and lovable characters are products solely of her imagination. Lowery’s readers have expressed their love for the vivid pictures her words paint. One reader described her books as “colorfully detailed” and another claimed to have fallen in love with the characters. Lowery decided that her ability to notice details enables her to create such clear images for her readers.
Both of Lowery’s novels are now available in the Auburn Public Library and this is an accomplishment she is proud of. Her books are published through Westbow Press. She explained that getting published “kind of legitimizes your book.”
However, Lowery also worked hard making personal connections with libraries in hopes to have her books reach more people.
“I’ve also done the legwork to go in and introduce myself to the library, show them my book, tell them that they’re in other libraries and that I’ve done author appearances,” she said.
Lowery has made several appearances in other libraries that house her books. This is an opportunity that allows her to engage with her readers in a personal way and an opportunity that she enjoys.
She recalls the appearance she made in Fayette County as “one of the most fun days I’ve ever had.”
Lowery shares how her books got inspired, the road to publication and helpful, mechanical things about writing fiction that she learned throughout her experience as an author. She also offers door prizes that have a connection to a plot detail or character from her novels.
Lowery’s Facebook page, “Books by Betsy Lowery,” provides several author talks that her readers or fellow writers will enjoy. Individuals can find fun, informative videos titled, “Described Dialogue,” “The Writing Rule That Rocked My World!” “Chocolate Milkshake & Literary Criticism” and more.
You can find Betsy Lowery on Facebook, or access her novels, “A Stranger’s Promise” and “No Doubt It’s Love,” through the Auburn Public Library. They are also in the OverDrive library app as e-books as well as for sale on the iBooks app and Amazon as a download or paperback.