I’d like to tell you all a story about a girl who, a few years ago, left corporate America for a little R&R. This girl decided to take some time off to spend with her family and give up the nine-to-five world for just a little while. She needed to regroup and just enjoy life.
During this period of joy and relaxation, she started to read. Again.
You see, she had been an avid reader for many years. During her teenage years, her mother introduced her to some amazing authors. Stephen King, Dean Koonz, Sydney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele. Yes, from Horror to Hollywood Wives, this girl read it all. Then life took over and she stopped reading for a while. She became a television junkie – but that’s another story. 😉
After stumbling upon the indie world, almost by accident, she began reading everything she could get her hands on. The passionate bloggers that she followed recommended dozens of books each week and her Kindle library completely overflowed. She devoured every word, living vicariously through the fictional characters that she came to know and love. She then began following (stalking) these incredible authors, who dared to tell a story that was outside the mold of traditional publishing. For the first time, a group of authors whom she admired, was completely accessible to her. This was unheard of in the world of traditional publishing. She certainly couldn’t email Stephen King at eleven o’clock at night and receive an immediate response. (Not that she hasn’t tried…)
These authors were not only accessible, they were willing to share how they did it. How they were able to craft the stories they were telling (and selling for super low bargain prices). What made them start on this journey of self-discovery and self-publishing. These authors shared all of their truths for all to see. And it was wonderful. She soaked it all in, learning from the masters of the indie world.
Why did she do this?
Because she had stories to tell too. For years, she kept journals and notes that nobody but her were able to enjoy. Tales that were inspired by her personal journey throughout life. Characters that were inspired by some of the best (and worst) people she had ever encountered. These characters and stories needed a world to live in. They deserved a world to live in.
And so, on a warm summer day in 2013, she began to write, pouring her heart and soul into her first book, Dear Emily. A book that would define the saga that is the Forever Family Series, inspired by her own quest to adopt a child and build her own family. So much of her essence was woven into the various characters lives and experiences. She bled into this book and it felt so good. When she finally released it that December, she was petrified. The book was placed in a countless number of blogger’s hands and she trusted them all with her words. And they devoured it.
Every single night, she would stalk her early reviews on Goodreads, and she would cry happy tears. Her husband told her how proud he was of her – she was an author! Her friends and family shared in the joy of this first novel. So many early reviewers not only loved her story, but shouted her name from the rooftops. Was this real life? These bloggers that she had been following for almost two years were now sharing her book with their readers. It was incredible. A miracle, even.
Her reception by the indie world was more than she could have ever hoped for. People were reading her book–people she didn’t even know! They were reading the letters that she wrote to her own adopted daughter, disguised as letters from her fictional character. They were reacting to the pieces of her real life that were sprinkled throughout the story. And the were loving it.
Her inbox was full of so many messages. Readers were pouring their hearts out to her. Telling her how they, too, were affected by adoption. Women who gave up their children. Mother’s who adopted. Adoptees who had incredible, and sometimes very sad, stories to tell her. Her book touched the souls of many and she couldn’t believe it. To this day, she still can’t believe it.
She used this feedback as motivation to continue the series. Dear Tabitha and Dear Juliet are what followed. Then Epic Sins was spun off and another series started taking on a life of it’s own. More and more stories swirl in her head and it’s wonderfully overwhelming.
She writes these stories for herself, first and foremost. Each of her characters lives within her and many contain pieces of her fears, insecurities, love, loss, hobbies, habits and truths. Something that she sees on her drive to work (yes, she’s back in the corporate world again and loving it), will make it into a story. The way the sun sets over the trees in her backyard may inspire a moment in a novel. Everything that surrounds her life has meaning, and she takes advantage of it.
Are you still here, reading this long rambling post, wondering what’s the point of it all?
I’m not really sure there is a point. I’m just feeling incredibly reflective and grateful for all of the support this amazing community has given me over the past three years. I honestly wouldn’t have the voice that I do without it. I also wouldn’t have earned the respect of this tight-knit community if I didn’t go about things the way I did. I built strong, honest and true relationships. I learned from the great indies in our world today because they were so accessible. They told me what to do and what not to do. They introduced me to the network of support that help me produce my books (editors, formatters, designers, etc.)
They READ MY BOOKS! <<< This right here is what floors me the most every single day. My peers read my freaking books. It still brings me to tears when I remember the posts of my friends and fellow authors, sharing their thoughts about my stories with their readers. Many of them today are my closest friends and my harshest critics. I won’t publish a book if I don’t have feedback from a few of them in particular. I trust them implicitly and take every single word to heart.
All of this keeps me going–and I love it.
This entire community is wonderful. Embrace it. Don’t get consumed by the distractions that are often present. Read all of the books. Support what we have all come to know and love every single day. Hug an author at a book signing and tell them why you read. Be truthful. Always.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for this community. Let’s keep it fresh, healthy and happy.
xoxo Peace xoxo