When 85-year-old Doris Hale Sanders didn’t like the way a book she was reading ended, her sister suggested that she pick up a pen and write her own ending. It was a life-changing suggestion that has led her to publish 29 books to date.
While Sanders, a resident of the Fern Terra of Owensboro retirement community, said she does have a background in writing, having worked for the Breckinridge Herald News in Breckinridge County and for a local radio station covering current events, creative writing was a new venture.
“I have been writing this, that and the other stuff most of my life,” she said.
Many of her books have an element of mystery, ranging from family tragedies to European royalty and even ghostly lore. In addition to her fiction works, Sanders has published two non-fiction books. The first, titled “Little Jim & Annie Mae” is a biography of her parents, both born in Kentucky in 1902. The second is an autobiography titled “Kentucky Country Girl.”
A complete set of Sanders books are available for Fern Terra residents to enjoy, taking pride of place on their own designated shelf in the community library.
Bonnie Pogue, assistant director of Fern Terra of Owensboro, said they like to encourage residents to continue their artistic pursuits after moving into the assisted-living facility.
“We just do whatever we can do to encourage them to stay as young as possible and don’t lose your talent that God gave you,” Pogue said.
When giving new residents a tour of the Fern Terra, Pogue said she always likes to point out Sanders’ books in the library.
“Our library gets a lot of use,” she said. “When I do a tour with new residents coming in, when I take them in there I say, ‘This shelf is dedicated to one of our residents because she wrote these books.’ ”
Sanders said that while her parents’ biography is probably the favorite book that she has written, she favors fiction writing.
“I get an idea and I just start writing and it just comes to me,” she said. “You just kind of create people and I enjoy doing that.”
Sanders, who self-published her first book in 2003, said she typically takes between six months and a year to complete one.
“I don’t push myself,” she said. “When I feel the urge, I write and when I’m not in the mood, I don’t.”
Sanders said the most difficult part of publishing a book as a new writer can be navigating through the publishing process.
“I sent out query letters to some agents but they weren’t interested,” she said. “I gather it takes quite a bit of effort, and probably quite a bit of money to actually get into it to that degree.”
Finding enough time alone to concentrate can also be challenging at times.
As far as advice for those interested in writing their first book, Sanders says, “just do it.”
“I would say write something that you know something about,” she said. “Something that really interests you.”
Sanders’ books are currently available for purchase through Amazon, her Facebook page “Books by Doris Hale Sanders” and by telephone at 270-617-5050.
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-228-2837