Michelle Hartman had always known she was going to be author, but she didn’t know when, until her husband challenged her to write her own book.
“I wanted to be a writer all my life,” Hartman said. “Books were my survival as a young child. After I’d thrown the one hundredth book at the wall that was badly written, my husband said, ‘There’s a computer, there’s paper, do better.’ Then I started writing and I was addicted.”
Hartman, a Texas Wesleyan alumna, along with fellow author Dr. Kendra Irons, an associate professor of religion, returned for the second annual Wesleyan Local Authors Day on Oct. 12 during free period in the Eunice and James L. West Library.
The event featured Perry Cockerell, Jacque Dodson, Tamika Reynolds, and Linda Lee for the author panel during the discussion portion of the event. Hartman and Irons joined in for the book fair afterward promoting their books and giving writing advice along with the other four.
“They wanted to do some fresh people this year, but she [Risa Brown, the MC and organizer of the event] wanted me to come,” Hartman said. ‘I love coming back here. They’ve started an archive upstairs. They’ve archived my books, because I’m an alum, which I’m really proud of.”
While Hartman has several books in print, Cockerell, a Wesleyan graduate and attorney, just published his first two.
“I showcased ‘A Private War,’ written in 2016, and the sequel, written in 2017,” said Cockerell. “It’s about the first black journalist to cover World War II in the European Theatre. It’s a fiction book, but it’s based on Ollie Stewart.”
Cockerell, a former Rambler Media Group staff member, thought his writing days were done after left he left for law school.
“I went to law school, because that’s what I planned to do,” Cockerell said. “I didn’t see writing a book as part of that. I do now and it’s what I like to do. All my books have legal stories in them. They have trials, so I’m doing something that is compatible with my attorney job.”
Cockerell found his inspiration for his book from a google search of his name. He was really happy to come back and share his story.
“I loved every second of it [the event],” Cockerell said. “I appreciated the invitation to come back and talk about my stories. The process was so unique in the sense that you can create something from nothing. You can go on the internet, check your name, and find out a story that leads to two novels. You can literally create something out of nothing.”
Cockerell, Hartman, and Lee, a student in the doctorate program of education, agreed that their favorite part of the event was meeting the other authors and students.
“[My favorite part was] meeting everyone and answering their questions,” Cockerell said, “and by doing so hoping that they, too, can do the same thing by becoming writers and authors themselves.”
Hartman enjoys the gathering of authors and possible future authors, because of their shared passion for writing.
“We understand our problems better than anyone else does,” Hartman said. “Wesleyan gives us a chance to come together and support each other.”
Some advice from Lee, who also worked on the Rambler Media Group for a year, was to keep reading published books and then, when inspiration hits, to let the creativity pour out.
“[My advice is] to read actually books,” Lee said. “Find an author that you like and read everything they wrote.”
While Cockerell also agrees on the reading, he also encourages observation of people and surroundings.
“[My advice for aspiring authors is] to write, read, and continue to study,” Cockerell said. “When you see people, make notes about them: what they say, their description, because they could be your next character in your next book.”
Hartman recommends finishing your degree, because writing is more of a passion than a job.
“[My advice is to] finish school because you’re going to need that day job,” Hartman said. “Writing doesn’t pay. Writing is about love and about wanting to reach out to people. It is not going to make you rich.”
When asked about returning to a future Wesleyan Local Author Days event, Hartman said she’d come back for a third time.
“It (Wesleyan) was the first time that I’d had a real family,” Hartman said, “so I just believe in paying that back.”