NW Arkansas’ 89-year-old storyteller & creative writer, Stephen P. Byers has opened a user-friendly website with details of each of his six books.
Rogers, AR: At the age of 74, Stephen Byers took up creative writing as a retirement hobby. After four years of intense study and considerable trial and error, he self-published his first two books. By this time he was deeply involved in storytelling, lecturing at public libraries and volunteer work related to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. He received the Arkansas Museums Associations prestigious Friend of the Museum award, as well as Governor Mike Huckabee’s Volunteer’s Excellence Award in 1999. This lead to his third and fourth books that were, unfortunately, interrupted by serious illness. In 2004, he returned to writing, self-publishing four more books. In general, the genre of Byers’ work falls into the category of family histories, two of them covering four generations, except the last titled Beginning Creative Writing: A Learning Experience. His goal here was not to compete with learning institutions, nor the many professional writers who have addressed the subject, but to present a pathway for anyone, young or old, to venture into creative fiction, children’s stories, or anything else their imaginations might suggest. The benefits to be gained, particularly by the old, are found in improved cognitive abilities and mental acuity. One of his high school students wrote, "I learned more in a four-hour lecture by Mr. Byers than in a whole year at school." Hundreds of people throughout his four-state area benefited from his lectures, but now too old to travel, he has put his action plan for creative writing in a book for all to benefit.
His fourth book, Goad of Honor is his most successful. It concerns an illegitimate German immigrant who builds a distillery about 1850 east of St. Louis, Missouri. Succeeding generations increase in wealth and status until 1937 when they learn their large mansion filled with art treasures were gained through the production of illegal whiskey during prohibition, nonetheless falsely believing themselves to be descendants of German aristocracy.
His first three books, The Naked Jaybird, Bent Coin, and an Ozark tale titled Lost River Bridge are second editions of his early work originally published before his illness. The first two have been revised and updated, while Lost River Bridge has been doubled in length with seventeen added chapters. One of Byers' proudest moments was an endorsement from the late Donald Harrington, internationally acclaimed author of eleven novels about the Ozarks. Byers’ wrote his fifth book at the request of his daughter. It is a western tale about the experiences of a fourteen-year-old boy left destitute in the Appalachian Mountains when his father dies in 1857. A heat-warming story called A Boy and His Horse: The Autobiography of Kade Zachary.
Byers has presented all the details of his work on an easily-navigated, single website, called BooksByByers with each book having its own page. The sub-headings include: A Look Inside; Story Line; Reviews; Story Origin; and a link to his publisher Create Space where the books may be purchased. He presents good stories with excellent reviews, each well worth the read.
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