Local Author Pens Third Book in ‘Local’ Series
By Rodika Tollefson
Thursday, January 6, 2011
BELFAIR — Some North Mason readers who previously didn’t consider supernatural novels their cup of tea have changed their minds in the past year — thanks to Grapeview author Rowena Portch.
Portch has recently released the second book in her Spirian series, which are set in locales such as Belfair, Allyn and Harstine Island. A little bit of romance, a little bit supernatural adventure, a little inspirational and spiritual reading, the series follows a blind massage therapist who discovers she’s a gifted healer, and a man “with a dark and mysterious past” who eventually becomes her mate.
The first two books, “The Protected” and “The Union,” came out in quick succession — both in 2010 — and the final, “Legend,” will be out just as fast. With “The Union” only released in October, Portch said the final book will be off the press around March. By August, she plans to have her fourth book out, leaving the Spirians behind and taking her fans on a new storyline.
Asked how she keeps up the quick pace, especially since she works as a massage therapist and herbologist at Abel Wellness, she says she writes instead of watching television. “We don’t even have a TV,” she said.
What’s even more amazing about her speed is that Portch is legally blind. A disease called retinitis pigmentosa slowly claimed her vision and by 2008 she was forced to retire from her job as a technical senior editor at Microsoft. Instead, she turned to her other vocation, doing body work and helping people heal. With her husband, Gregg, she opened Abel Wellness Center in Belfair. Portch works there as a massage therapist, herbologist and homeopath while her husband runs the office. Their team includes an acupuncturist, naturopathic doctor/midwife and several other massage therapists.
But Portch could not stay away from writing. It’s a passion that began more than 30 years ago, resulting in two published novels (now out of print). As she got into technical writing, Portch set her creative efforts aside, until one day she decided to write a book about her life called “This Is Not the Life I Ordered.”
That book never saw the light of day. Instead, it rekindled her desire to write fiction. She used her personal story and incorporated it into a fictional tale about Skye, a 45-year-old blind massage therapist who got a new lease on life at age 45 as she discovered she was a healer. Sound familiar?
Portch said one of the reasons she quit publishing previously was a disillusionment with the industry after being asked to write about things that were against her moral values. To have more control, she decided to self-publish her new novels, which also allows her to publish at the clip of two books per year.
“The books pay for themselves and it’s not a money-maker,” she said. “I am self-publishing so nobody owns me.”
Creativity runs in the family — her daughter is a full-time fiction writer and her mother dabbles in writing as well. Portch’s great-great-great grandfather is Hudson Taylor, founder of the Christian church in China, and Portch said a lot of his offspring turned out writers.
Things have changed in the publishing world from three decades ago, and some of the changes have been positive for authors like her. Portch said where self-published books were practically impossible to get into bookstores before, now they are common. Her books also are available on amazon.com and for all the electronic book readers.
The proliferation of self-published books also means a lot of competition, so authors have to spend a lot of time marketing. Portch has a marketing manager who takes care of all her social media including Twitter and Facebook, and helps get Portch’s articles about writing published. Her next goal is to get on radio shows.
Portch compares writing to active meditation, almost like role playing on a different level. When she writes, she’s immersed into her characters’ lives.
“When I write, I tune out the world,” she said.
Writing, she found, is an addiction. “If I don’t do some writing every day, I go crazy. It’s like runners who are grumpy when they miss a run,” she said.
She said if her books made more money, she would write even more, but she can’t see herself quitting her body work practice. “That’s another thing that feeds my soul,” she said.
Her two passions, writing and complementary therapies, seem to have converged. Just as her body work may help others physically, her writing may be good for their soul.
“I love to help people heal, I like to touch their spirit,” she said. “… I think my books offer hope for people that there’s more to the physical world.”
© 2011 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online