Celebrating Our Culture
by Joyce Dixon
The first thing that you notice about Dickie Anderson is her smile, then you are in awe of her energy. After a career in marketing the men's and women's athletic programs at the University of Iowa, Dickie now runs her own marketing and consulting business on Amelia Island, Florida. She is a freelance writer and motivational speaker.
"From the Porch," her weekly column in the Florida Times-Union, presents readers with humorous and touching stories of life on Amelia Island.
A self-proclaimed member of the 'new old' and a mother of three grown sons, Dickie Anderson resides with her husband and two dogs in a home overlooking the Florida marsh.
You moved to Amelia Island six years ago. What do you like about the island and southern pace of life?
I so often find myself telling people that Amelia Island is not only a paradise with all the cliché beautiful beaches, warm weather et al, but is a "real" place with it s own economy and world outside the resorts that happen to live here. It is truly "Mayberry By The Sea" or "Key North" as some locals call it. The warm weather is delightful and I never fail to gloat a bit when the first weather reports of snow in the Midwest come in and I look out at the palm tree in my back yard blowing in the warm gentle breeze coming off the marsh. Amelia Island is much more then a beautiful island it is rich with good people doing lots of good things. The friends I have made in the last few years are a very special and treasured part of my life on Amelia Island.
What is your philosophy about looking at life as half-full?
My three sons will tell you that I never failed to remind them as each tough thing came at them that to look at it as half full not half empty. It became such a predictable response to the knock downs little boys experience, that they would anticipate it. "Please Mom not the half full speech", they would say. When I wrote a book about the three boys and their triumphs after setbacks I could only call it "Half-Full".
In FROM THE PORCH, you use the image of a dragonfly as a break between essays. What does the dragonfly mean to you?
The dragonfly is an image that comes to mind as I think of the marsh that stretches out behind my house. A dragonfly is elegant of shape and pleasing to the eye, and seemed a simple image to use as a break. I have been amazed at how many people have noticed and remarked on what to me was a small part of the book.
What traits must an author have to be successful at self-publishing?
One has to be a "cliff jumper". Ray Bradbury once said that one has to jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down. I have done that many times and continue to reinvent myself. I recognize how lucky I am as a writer to have visibility on a weekly basis and lots of feedback from my readers. It is flattering and reassuring and gave me the confidence to publish the book.
Authors who have self-published seem to share several traits. Persistence and enduring patience are at the top of the list. You have to be willing to learn as you go. Confidence in the end product and a willingness to go out and promote and sell are essential traits, as well.
How did your marketing background prepare you for a writing career? Why do must authors have problems with marketing?
Marketing is a problem for lots of people with good products to sell. Marketing your own book is like acting as a talent agent for your own child. Writing is not just putting wonderful words on paper and handing them off to a good fairy. Every aspect is a process requires diligence and persistence. First you write, then you edit, then you share, then you investigate publishing options and give the go ahead. That is the easy part. The hard part is getting the book out there so people can buy, read, share and send more people to buy, read and share. You have to pick up those books and walk into bookstores or stand up in front of room full of people and show your audience the passion in you and why your book is so darn good.
How does writing heal the spirit?
I often share with people that I have always enjoyed writing, but did not come into my own as a writer until after my mother's death. She is my muse in many ways. Her delightful sense of humor and way of looking at the simple things in life are now coming out in my writing. I know she is pleased and it is my way to honor her.
How did you become a columnist?
When the Jacksonville Times-Union decided to create a special edition for Nassau County they were looking for writers who could cover local stories. I was fortunate to have a very talented mentor, Susan Respess, who was instrumental in the early days of the development of Nassau Neighbors. I suggested a column that was my own news and views and called it "From The Porch". The rest is history as they say. I will be starting my fourth year in December.
What's your advice to new writers for dealing with rejection?
Laugh and keep right on writing and submitting. Writers should be writing because they need to and want to not because they seek validation and fame and fortune. Those things are nice, but rare. Most writers keep their rejections slips and compare styles and formats. One, even wall papered her bathroom with her many rejection slips. Writers flock together and take great comfort from one another, so find people who know what it is all about and take comfort from them.
Tell us about your novel DIRTY LITTLE LIES.
A courtroom full of people wait for the jury and judge to return and with a verdict. Liddy Ferguson, the primary character, looks around the courtroom at all the people that have entered her life in the last incredible year. The verdict has personal meaning to everyone in the courtroom and as the book unwinds we find out why.
We meet strong women. Sophie, a widow, who suffered beatings, until the late night traffic accident that kills her husband. Sophie's solution to her living hell will shock her friends when it is revealed. Zoe is a wild cat, a bright aggressive young woman working in a law office, who leaves her abuser and pays a terrible price - her own life. Laurie, the youngest, is the mother of two young children. Laurie's escape comes after the final blow, the one to her young son. The book ends in the courtroom where Zoes' husband is standing trial for the murder of his wife.
We meet each of these extraordinary women through Liddy Ferguson, an educated and seemingly happy woman, who faces the reality that she too has been abused all her life by her father and then her husband. Liddy’s abuse, initially more psychological than physical, turns nasty sending her to a women’s shelter. A violent murder brings the primary characters together and forever changes each of their lives.
This readable book will bring broader knowledge of domestic violence and celebrate the friendship and strength of a group of women who bring justice to a murderer as they help each other.
Visit Dickie Anderson's web site at http://www.dickieanderson.com
Subscribe to Dickie Anderson's e-mail list to receive her Florida Times-Union column each week.
© 2002, Joyce Dixon, All Rights Reserved