Beth Bowles is a former editor in chief of The Community Edition, a current digital marketing specialist at Waterloo Brewing, and now the published author of a book.
Bowles published Finish this Story in December 2022 on Amazon. It is a book of prompts for all ages to create their own stories.
The book includes a prompt on every second page followed by two lined pages for the reader to fill.
“It’s essentially a prompt journal directed towards youth, teens or just lovers of young adult fiction. I’m an adult that loves young adult fiction. So, it’s not just for kids,” she said.
When she was younger, she was the weird, creative theatre kid who was always creating stories. She said this book was created with those kids in mind, to help grow creativity and overcome writer’s block.
Stories can be very simple. Bowles has a five-year-old stepdaughter who created a simple story of a stick and a stone beginning alone and ending up together.
“That’s her story. It’s so simple. They’re alone and then they meet each other and they’re happy. That’s it. So that’s how stories start for little kids, right?” she said.
“So, if you’ve got an 11-year-old, I’m hoping that this will help like stretch their minds a little bit.”
There was freedom in creating a book for everyone and for herself.
“I started making them kind of silly. And then I was like, ‘this is my book. There are no rules.’ And at the point I was like, I don’t even know if people are going to buy and it doesn’t matter to me if they do,” she said.
Bowles holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wilfrid Laurier University. During her degree, she took a course in young adult fiction that left a mark on her—especially as it addressed the shame many people feel at being interested in young adult literature. But a coming-of-age story is pure, and there are reasons that people continue to love them well beyond their own formative years.
For Bowles, that reason includes being a very nostalgic person who thinks fondly on her teen years. These are stories about overcoming obstacles and having resilience. They are stories that require empathy for ourselves and for others.
“We have empathy for our younger selves and I think when you carry empathy for your younger self, you’re also carrying empathy for other young people. But I think it all comes down to if we’re empathizing with our younger selves, then we might be drawn to, to those kinds of stories to other kids that need empathy,” she said.
Her favourite prompt is one about two people running away and one of them being unable to find their lucky sneakers. It shows danger and emotion, but also the innocence of the characters.
“I like that one because I think they come out with a complex idea of like two people that are seemingly in love and escaping something because they’re in love, mixed with like, such as such a sense of innocence…that they needed some sense of luck,” she said. “I was proud of myself when I wrote that one,”
The process of creating Finish this Story was also helpful to Bowles in figuring out the process of self-publishing. Most publishing houses take a considerable cut of the profits from books, especially as they are the ones interacting with sellers.
Self-publishing gives more autonomy and more profit to the author, Bowles said.
“That also like aligned with my morals, of advocating for literacy and, and champing all the weird kids that were constantly writing stories in the margins of their notebooks, which is what I was doing when I was a kid,” she said.
Bowles’ background in journalism and marketing helped make the layout process much easier for her. She also found the process of self-publishing complicated at first but worked her way through it.The book also provides a source of passive income.
The satisfaction of holding a physical copy of something she created is very important to Bowles.
“Do you know what it feels like to hold something physical that you’ve made? There’s no better feeling. It’s amazing and I haven’t had that in a long time,” she said.