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AUTHOR’S CORNER: Retired teacher finds new passion as author

As a schoolteacher, I always laced my lessons with tales of famous battles, heroic achievements and the grit of the pioneer spirit. I love American history and tried to relate stories that could keep a student’s attention. When I stepped out of the education arena after 22 years, I found myself a little lost at what to do next. Knowing my zest for storytelling, my family encouraged me to get into writing.

I started attending the Writers of Kern, a local group that meets monthly to discuss various ideas surrounding the art of writing. Here, I gleaned much information as I threw myself into my first novel about a young man who travels to California during the Gold Rush. When I learned of the writers conferences held around the state, I began attending these also, gathering even more valuable information.

And I wrote another novel.

By the time I attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I had eight completed novels. At the conference, I met with publishers and literary agents and received a lot of encouragement, but no contracts. I had good content, but my writing still wasn’t the caliber of a published author.

Returning home, I kept writing, molding my skills. When not attending conferences and writers groups, I submitted about 200 proposals and query letters to various publishers and agents, all to no avail. But I wrote a few more novels.

Discouraged but not beaten, I kept at it, continuing to write and rewrite. I’d learned the disciplines of perseverance while in the military, so I knew my tenacity would win out if I could keep my frustration in check. After I paid for professional editing, I was accepted as a client with a literary agent and finally landed my first contract with a publishing house. I now had 15 completed novels, all of which needed editing. "Wildfire for Rose" was published in June of 2019. Since then, I’ve had three additional novels published with a contract for my fifth, due for release this winter.

My latest book, "Mercy Again," is the story of a farmer during the Civil War who tries to stay out of the fighting. But when Yankees burn his farm and kill his family, he joins the Missouri Raiders and pursues revenge. Through twists and turns, he eventually gives his life to the Lord and embarks on a new adventure, a journey of forgiveness and purpose he never expected. When he learns a secret about his family, he is forced to make tough choices that will impact his future and faith forever.

As I work on making a novel ready for publication, cleaning every sentence to make the words fit well and flow smoothly, I am simultaneously having a book edited for another proposal to my publisher. My goal is to move all of my completed manuscripts into publication. I am always sharpening my craft while working with book cover designs and editors and book markets. The work never ends and I love it.

My wife and kids have been a huge support system for me through this entire process. They have read all of my manuscripts and offered valuable suggestions to help develop the characters, plot and action of each story. I greatly appreciate all of their input and love. Also, countless friends have encouraged me, a blessing I don’t take lightly. Truly, the Bakersfield community has been very kind as I navigate this new world of writing novels, editing and publishing.

I feel so grateful to have found a new purpose after teaching school for so many years. With the pandemic, it seems people are starved for uplifting, positive books, stories that leave a reader feeling encouraged. I’m pleased if my stories of adventure and romance can lift a reader’s spirits.

My books can be found locally at Majesty Bible on Stockdale Highway and the Tehachapi Christian Store. They can also be ordered through Amazon, Russo's Books and Barnes & Noble. My website, andrewrothbooks.com, offers links to purchase my books as well as an opportunity to sign up for my newsletter and to join the adventure.