Author draws on first-hand experiences to write debut novel

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The story of a woman overcoming obstacles in Charlotte Powell’s novel, “Debits Can Be Dangerous,” hits home for the budding author from Jemison.

Although it is a work of fiction, Powell’s debut novel contains themes from her own life she uses to shape main character Diane Saturn, who faces challenges as she tries to balance family, career and personal matters.

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Charlotte Powell’s new book, “Debits Can Be Dangerous,” is now available on Amazon in paperback and e-reader versions.

“The book is about a very young accountant who is raising her daughter alone, and it’s the struggles that she faces, not only with the stigma of being an unwed mother but also being single in the workplace, and the challenges she faces of trying to hold down a full-time job, being a single parent and achieving the goals she wants to achieve in life,” Powell said. “Just because you make one mistake doesn’t mean your life has to continue to move in a downward spiral.”

Powell is an accountant and works full-time for Doster Construction in Birmingham. She also serves as lay speaker and Sunday School teacher at Rocky Mount United Methodist Church.

Powell said she not only relates to her main character because she is an accountant, but like Saturn, she, too, has dealt with the challenges of raising small children as a single parent and trying to stay strong in her Christian faith despite adversity.

“I did have to deal with those challenges,” Powell said. “I would really like to put something out there that says, ‘Yes, it’s hard, but it’s not impossible.’”

Powell described her book as a mystery with a Christian theme and said her faith and involvement at Rocky Mount UMC played significant roles in her writing.

“I think that all too often in today’s environment young women, once they create a hurdle to overcome, they let that be a weight that drags them down,” Powell said. “My faith is what kept that weight from dragging me down, and I want to share that with people.

“No matter what age you are, there are going to be challenges and hurdles you have to deal with. If you have faith, they can be overcome. I would like for readers to feel that somebody has faced their problems, and they can see God is the reason they can overcome things.”

Powell’s book is available in paperback ($1.99) and for Kindle devices ($8.95) through Amazon.

Powell said her book was “self-published with professional guidance and mentorship,” as Ellen Maze of The Author’s Mentor helped her through the publishing process.

“In the traditional environment, you had to have a publisher willing to support you and do all of the upfront money, but in today’s environment, there are so many opportunities for individual publishing,” Powell said. “Once it gets out there on Amazon, they have all sorts of tools available for you. You go through the marketing process with Kindle and CreateSpace.”

Powell said marketing for the book is her responsibility, and she hopes to incorporate it in at least one local public library.

Powell said writing her first book took more time than becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) did.

“It took me longer to do this one project than it did to get my CPA, and I spent several years on that CPA,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to write. I thought, you need to write about what you know, and I know about accounting.”

Powell has already written a sequel to her first novel called “Sins of the Past” and anticipates having it ready to publish this fall.

“It’s the next step in Diane Saturn’s life,” Powell said. “She’s growing and stepping up and stepping out a little bit.”

Although Powell admitted the writing of her second book flowed more easily than her first, she said she has enjoyed the entire process and plans to write more books.

“I’ve really enjoyed doing this,” Powell said. “It’s just been a real pleasure. I’ve met so many wonderful people in trying to get this done.”