by Audra Hurston Anders for The Aha! Connection
A friend I’ve known since elementary school in Opelika, Alabama way back in the late 1970’s reached out to me last fall to let me know she had written a book! I pre-ordered it as soon as we finished chatting and could hardly wait for the publication date to arrive in May. I was thrilled the book appeared in my mailbox before I left for my recent two week vacation and happily devoured it during the plane rides to and from Europe in May. I swear I could hear Anessa’s voice in my head while reading her words….it was as if she were narrating it to me in her lovely southern drawl.
I absolutely loved the story, the characters, and the various settings which were all places I know and love. I was thrilled to learn a sequel is in the works. The title of the book is The Bitter and the Sweet and it spans the time period of 1926 – 1961. Anessa referred to the genre as “Southern Women’s Fiction with History”. I’d agree, but I also think she could add “Christian Fiction” to the description.
Let me tell you about my friend Anessa….she has such an amazing variety of careers on her resume. She graduated from Auburn University with an English degree. Her first post college job was in Montgomery, Alabama where she was a skincare and makeup artist. She then almost took a job in Atlanta (Buckhead) in the cosmetic field but instead joined the Navy!
She had ship duty for 4 years and her first ship tour was 9 months long on a ship doing drug runs in the Caribbean. Her second ship tour was in Sardinia, Italy for 2 years. While living in Italy she was married to an ex naval enlisted Sailor with whom she eloped. They were married for 5 years.
Anessa’s second husband was an old family friend whom she randomly invited to the Kentucky at Auburn football game in 2004. This date led to a wedding in March of 2005. Her beautiful daughter, Jordan, was born about a year later.
They started their family together in Newnan, GA then moved to Lake Charles, LA then to Daphne, AL and finally settled in Dothan, Alabama. Her family of three changed residences 15 times in 16 years! Anessa and her husband have recently divorced after 17 years of marriage and their daughter is now a senior in high school.
When I spoke with Anessa last fall she was working two part-time teaching jobs (teaching Spanish) Mondays through Thursdays while devoting every Friday to writing. Anessa says her writing comes in waves and has been such a blessing during the dark time of divorce. She loves to write and is an acute observer of people. Her most recent job prior to teaching was selling real estate in Dothan, AL. A client asked her about a property so she called the listing agent to discuss and learned the property (on Highway 231 towards the beaches) was formerly a Strip Club and a BBQ Restaurant. The hilarity of the combination started her mind whirring with a bunch of characters and a community and she suddenly had her first book mapped out!
Anessa is hilarious, fun, adventurous, rebellious, so very interesting….and determined! She’s always wanted to publish a book and is thrilled to finally have one published and another in the works. She told me her goals now are to pay for her daughter to go to Auburn (which is her first choice school) and to be on The NY Times and Amazon best seller lists. My goal is to help her reach her goals!
Please click here to buy Anessa’s debut book, The Bitter and the Sweet on Amazon. You and your book club will just love Vernadine Dawn Turnipseed!
Please add a comment to this post if you’d like to be entered to win an autographed copy of my friend Anessa’s book: The Bitter and the Sweet. We will randomly select a winner on Friday, June 9th!
Fun Fact: Anessa and I both had Karen Jeane as one of our English teachers at Opelika High School. Anessa includes the well loved and respected Mrs. Jeane in her acknowledgements with these words: “To my high school English teacher, Karen Jeane, you read every word, offered suggestions, kept me true to my voice, and wrote many side notes of correction in the margins of the manuscript with your green pen. Thank you for taking this journey with me! I am thrilled you are still my teacher!”
Anessa has two upcoming book signings on June 24th:
Anessa is currently scheduling summer engagements now. If anyone is interested in having Anessa come to a reading, signing event, book club meeting etc. Anessa is ready to come and talk about Vernadine and Louanna. You can initiate a conversation with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.