Roanoke resident Barbara Ferguson went from reluctant writer as a child to published author in adulthood with her new book “You’re Not Too Old.”
She held a special book signing event Jan. 29 at the Roanoke Community Senior Center.
Ferguson, 79, a senior center member, said she got started with writing her book after taking workshop classes with other community members to teach them writing skills. The book is a collection of poems Ferguson created about her life that encourage seniors to enjoy life no matter their age.
After attending writing classes and sharing her writings, classmates and friends began suggesting she compile them into her own book. So she got started through Amazon’s independent publisher CreateSpace and in 2009 published her first nonfiction piece about life after her husband’s death from cancer.
Former classmate Teri Jones said she first met Ferguson after Jones and her family moved to Roanoke, and got to know her through the writing classes.
“She would ride her bike over to her house and bring us fresh banana bread,” Jones said. “And then I was in a writing class with her and read some of her work and told her she should get into publishing.”
So Ferguson did just that, and with journal entries from her life during her husband’s illness, she began to enter writing contests to test her talent.
She said she was surprised when she won her first contest.
“It’s funny because when I was in school, the worst grade I ever got was in my writing class,” Ferguson said. “The teacher would put paper in front of us and have us write and I just had a blank page. I got a bad grade because I just couldn’t think of anything.”
But now, Ferguson says she’s constantly finding ways to incorporate her life into her writing.
“You’re Not Too Old,” also published through CreateSpace in January, features poems written to friends and family members, some with a humorous undertone and some dedicated to enjoying nature and the world.
“I have one in here about the trees, I have one about squirrels,” she said. “I even have one in here about my cataract surgery.”
Ferguson’s friend, Kay Smith, wrote the foreword to the book and helped edit the pages. She said she was proud to see the work Ferguson has done and how she’s impacted her readers.
“There’s a very wide range in [the book],” Smith said. “She’s very active, riding bikes and going to football games and things like that, and I think anyone can find something in some of these poems. I think you can find something in all of these poems that affects you.”
Ferguson said she is enjoying the feedback from this book right now, but in the future she is considering a publication about different memories she has with her family at different points of her life. The tentative title, she said, is “Ferguson’s Flashbacks.”
“You’re Not Too Old” is available on Amazon for $7.19.