It’s Never too Late to Try Something New

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It’s Never too Late to Try Something New

It’s Never too Late to Try Something New

For decades, Amy Iketani toyed with the idea of being a writer. In her early fifties, she decided to go for it. Her mother’s passing and a trip back to her hometown in Pennsylvania gave her the final motivation she needed, and in September of 2023, she officially became a published author.

“I started dabbling in writing probably 20 years ago but didn’t have any training and didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said. “At least it felt that way.”

She found an eight-hour writing course sold on Etsy by an established author, and it opened her eyes to what was possible.

“I listened, I took notes, and it was mind-blowing how simply she broke it down. It just made sense to me,” she said. “I had an idea stirring already, and I thought, ‘This is doable.’”

Her attendance at a reunion in the Pennsylvania town of Erie, where she has not lived for 30 years, led her to formulate the plot for COMING HOME, a story of a successful doctor in New York who, on the night her boyfriend proposes marriage, gets a call that her mother is in a coma. She returns to Erie and, over the next few weeks, faces questions about her old relationships and whether small-town life is more desirable now than it was when she left.

Iketani recognized how difficult and expensive it can be for a new writer to get published in the traditional sense. But she did her homework and learned that self-publishing can be much simpler and less costly than most people might think.

“I was really surprised,” she said of the process that resulted in her book now being available in print and electronic formats. The various online platforms were very user-friendly and walked her through the process from start to finish as she completed the layout and even designed the cover for her book.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “This is the way to go.”

Large retailers have been unwilling to stock the book because it is in a print-on-demand format, but she has reached out to independent bookstores beginning in McDonough and Conyers and even up in Erie since that is the book’s setting. That process can also take some time.

“It’s a waiting game,” she acknowledged. “As a self-published author, I am also my own publicity director.”

As far as the actual writing, Iketani credits the online course she took with giving her the knowhow to tackle what for many people would seem like an insurmountable task.

“In the seminar I took, she explained that you keep it in your head for as long as possible. You have your setting, your characters, you know what they are going to do and say, and you know how it is going to end,” she said.

Forming an outline was a key step in organizing what would eventually be an 80,000-word story and breaking it down into bite-sized pieces.

“In Chapter 1, you want to get from Point A to Point B, so you just sit down and focus on Chapter 1,” she said. “By the time you get to Chapter 40, it is already laid out for you.”

Iketani and her family have been Henry County residents for more than 20 years, having moved from Orlando to Stockbridge just after 9/11. She spent a dozen years as a stay-at-home mom and then another dozen years in the food service industry before her mother’s death when she knew it was time for a change.

“When my mom passed away, I wondered, ‘What now?’ Then everything just happened in the right order,” she said. “I got this idea, I went to my reunion, I took this seminar, and I thought, ‘Why not?’”

She hasn’t stopped with her inaugural book. She has recently been preparing to publish her second novel, THE LAST WISH, and it should be available now. Set in Jekyll Island, it is the story of a family in which the wife and mother wanted to spend her last days at their beach house. After her passing, the widowed father and 17-year-old son wait for some time before deciding to go back to the house.

“It talks about grief and life, how to go forward and to love again,” said Iketani.

Publishing both of these books is a dream come true for her, and her only regret is that her mother, who was her biggest supporter, was not able to see it happen.

Having made this significant career move at the age of 54, Iketani has some straightforward advice for those who want to attempt to write or do anything else their heart desires.

“I say go for it. Life is too short not to do what you love,” she said. “It’s never too late if there’s something you always wanted to do. It costs little or nothing to self-publish, and it’s something that is always going to be there. Even if 100 people read my book, it is still something I feel I accomplished.”

Check out @AmyIketaniWrites on Instagram for more information about Iketani and her writing.

By Monroe Roark