Belpre author to have book signing Saturday

By Brett Dunlap

Special to the Times

BELPRE — In presenting her own story, a Belpre author has chronicled the challenges many women have faced in meeting the challenges of their own lives.

“In the Language of My Country” by Lois Spencer was recently released by Outskirts Press.

The book is about Spencer’s earlier years and the challenges she faced as a child of troubled working class parents and as an adolescent with big dreams and small chances to see them materialize. Eventually, through determination and providence, those dreams were realized, she said.

“Since this is a memoir, I experienced the events in this book during my younger years, from earliest childhood to early middle-age,” Spencer said. “The inclusion of the genealogical chapters are important in that they provide a background for my story and give a strong sense of where I came from, and not only geographically.

“I wanted the reader to meet the folks first hand whose combined bloodlines created mine and those who influenced my upbringing. Rather than just name them, I included their stories.”

Vignettes, stand-alone stories, observations and reflections are woven together to form the basis of the work. Her parents had supplied her with plenty of family history during her childhood in the form of stories. She went back and checked their accuracy through websites and recorded family and local history.

“In addition, I selected critical parts of my life to share, those that had the strongest impact on who I would eventually become,” Spencer said.

Originally, the book was a project to provide her children and grandchildren with knowledge of their ancestors as well as her earlier years.

“The more I wrote, the more I realized that there was a great story here, one that in many ways mirrored stories of others of my generation,” Spencer said. “So I began to think of it in terms of a larger audience and adjusted the writing to accommodate that.”

Throughout the process she considered whether to release the story for everyone to be able to read.

“I debated whether or not to publish it at times during the process, uncertain of its appeal to those outside my family,” Spencer said. “After sharing the piece with other writers, I decided to go ahead and send it out.”

The themes Spencer explored in her book include determination and overcoming setbacks.

“The search for what I identify in the book as security, self-confidence and personal achievement also tie its separate events and scenes together in meaning and purpose,” she said. “What I hope others will take away from the book is a sense of ‘can do.’

“We all have obstacles barring us from what we know we should become, and if reading about my experiences will help someone else to keep on going when things get rough or self-doubt threatens, I feel the book will have been a success. Also, I hope that the graciousness and guidance of God, which permeates the events and choices in my life, will inspire and give comfort to others as well as they read.”

A late-comer to the teaching profession, Spencer found her niche with junior high students at Fort Frye in Beverly. Considering herself an amateur among professionals, she fast tracked one master’s and then pursued a second, focused entirely on writing. She expanded her teaching to include junior college and, in retirement, continues to teach English and creative writing at Ohio Valley University.

Married to her husband Ron since she was 19 years old, she has two sons and two grandchildren.

Spencer is having a book launch and signing at the Marietta College Book Store from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.