After hearing the news that the publishing company she worked with had closed its doors, DG Nelson assumed her writing career was finished.
Nelson had published the novels in her Bethany series through the Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing. However, this past January, Tate Publishing suspended operations, and in May, The Oklahoman reported founder Richard Tate and CEO Ryan Tate were arrested on accusations of embezzlement, extortion and racketeering.
"I thought, I had my one and done," Nelson said. "I'm not going to write anymore."
Nelson, who is also the diploma manager at Timberlake Job Corps, added she had been thinking of the series since she was a child, which made this mourning period particularly difficult.
But eventually, a conversation with a good friend encouraged her to take a new path.
"My best friend Katie Burge had a nice, three-hour-long conversation with me and told me the error of my ways," Nelson said. "The next morning, I decided to self-publish."
Nelson published the third novel in the Bethany series, "The Road to Dobson," on Amazon.com this February. She hopes to publish book four of the series, "At Dobson Pond," by the end of this year. She has also released a second edition of book two, "On the Homefront of Dobson Town," on Amazon.com and soon hopes to do the same for book one, "At Dobson's Crossroads."
Set in World War II era North Carolina, the Bethany series chronicles the life of Bethany Davies, who is 19 years old at the start of the first book.
"There's lots of hardship," Nelson said. "Her best friend died tragically, and she thought she would never get close to anyone again. Then Scott Jenkins arrives, and she's mean to him, but you see the love begin."
In book four, which contains a character named Katie as a tribute to Nelson's friend, the residents of Dobson will be adjusting to life after the war comes to an end.
There will also be changes to the protagonist of the novels.
"(In the earlier books), we see Bethany being a little girl, and kind of a whiner, but she's evolved into a young woman who becomes very important to the town of Dobson," Nelson said. "She becomes important to the children who became orphans during World War II."
She added that her favorite part of the series is the relationship between Scott and Bethany.
"They move through their issues and still connect with one another," she said.
Though she enjoys ending each book with a cliffhanger, she noted that readers will find some answers in the fourth installment of the series.
"Book four has a lot of answers to questions that readers have wanted to know from the start," she said. "A lot that they hoped wouldn't happen will happen."
Nelson plans to write a total of ten novels in the Beth-
any series and is interested
in exploring the universe's other characters in additional books.
"There are shirtail characters that will get their own series," she said, noting that she sees the Bethany series as "the base of something going in a different direction."
Though the switch to self-publishing hasn't always been easy, Nelson is happy with the decision.
"You pay more out of pocket," she said, discussing the process. "With a publisher, they'll find artists and editors (to work with you)."
Nelson appreciates the additional freedom that self publishing has provided.
"With traditional publishing, you're on their time frame," she said. "They'll need edits done by such and such a time. It's deadlines, deadlines. With self-publishing, I could take six months off if I wanted."
She's found that one of the most valuable parts of self publishing has been the additional sense of ownership she feels over the books.
"It will be worth it in the long run because it will be my project," she said. "Even though it costs more money to self-publish, I know it's secure and the Bethany series will be mine. When you put your heart and soul into something, and with as much as your book and characters mean to you, you want to protect it."
Nelson first imagined the premise for the books when she was 10 years old.
"They've become a part of me," she said. "People ask if Bethany is my idea of myself, and I will never say yes or no to that. I'll say that I've been fond of the character since I was 10, and as a writer, your characters become a part of who you are."
Nelson believes her roles as a writer and teacher at Timberlake Job Corps complement one another.
"The students up here have gone through more than I could ever imagine," she said. "I want to create a book series that talks about the different situations the students have gone through, for others go-
ing through the same thing. They have a lot of stories to tell."
She noted that three students at the center want her to help them become published authors.
"I might not be the next Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steel, but I might be teaching one," she said.
Buy the books
The novels in DG Nelson's Bethany series are available for purchase on www.