I was born and raised in Georgia (the state, not the country), though I lived in the Midwest while I was in college. I love travel, animals, and caffeine. My first love was poetry, and the styles and content have grown with me. I have also had some success with short stories, lifestyle articles, and other creative writing. Last month, I released my debut novel, a literary fiction novel that bends genres.
I have held second jobs in editing and freelance writing while working full-time desk jobs. I solicit writing gigs and apply for various writing contests just to be able to do what I love while I also earn a living in a completely different field. My life’s goal is to be able to write freely, without the ever-present concern of poverty lurking nearby – to be able to earn my living with my words.
Your writing journey:
My novel took three years to write and another year to get published. I was working my full-time job in an unrelated field, and I had other obligations that took me out of town on the weekends. That left small windows of time for getting my idea on paper, many of which I admittedly squandered. It’s a writer’s conundrum, and I am to this day unsure of why so many of us stall, put off, or neglect our writing. Needless to say, it took longer than I intended to write my novel. Oh, but I was so proud when I hit 80,000 words!
I was hell-bent on securing a traditional publisher for my book. Again, I am not sure why now. I knew before I ever finished writing it that I did not want to go the self-publishing route. I believe it was some sort of challenge I put on myself, a confirmation of outside approval of my work. I submitted, oh, probably at least 100 query letters to agents and publishers. I was denied many times, but I was mostly just ignored. No response. I believe the difficulty arose from my book’s genre. Almost every publisher or agent only accepts certain genres, and my novel is genre-bending literary fiction. It has elements of paranormal/speculative, thriller, even some romance. I also wrote it in a non-traditional way. I think that made it more difficult to market, though it’s one of the main things that makes it interesting.
It got to a point where I wouldn’t say I had given up, but I had put the whole idea of being published in some place of purgatory, just waiting for something to happen or change. Finally, I was perusing a bookstore with my better half when he had the brilliant idea to check the book jackets on a stand of “local authors.” I submitted my queries to those publishers, and wouldn’t you know it, one of them responded! They wanted to publish my book! Hallelujah! Happy dance!
Over the next couple of months, I worked directly with my publisher to edit the content, the book jacket details, and even had some input on the cover design. As I was working with an indie publisher, there wasn’t an editor specifically assigned to me, nor was there an agent or any one person responsible for me. My book was (and still is!) my baby, and I was the parent responsible for it. I wasn’t exactly expecting that. I like it, though.
I was provided a publication date, and off we went! Last month, my novel, After the Dash, was released for publication. That’s right – April of 2020. In the middle of a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown. Obviously, people have bigger concerns than my little piece of fiction.
Another tidbit of which I had no clue going into this process: the book-publishing-process costs money. Boy, was I ignorant on that front! Many review sites charge authors to provide them a review, and if they do not charge, you likely won’t have your book read. Especially if it doesn’t fall neatly into a specific genre. Hiring an editor costs money. Advertising costs money. There is no real way to market to an audience without spending money. How does one reach a sect of people with whom they have not been introduced while everyone is at home, in quarantine? I am lucky enough to still be working my day job, to some degree, but I have also been affected financially by Covid-19, making it almost impossible to spend the money I didn’t know would be required. It makes me feel as if I’m missing out on opportunities, but if you don’t have it, you don’t have it.
I have author profiles on various sites like Goodreads and Bookbub, and I try to engage in conversations and post interesting thoughts, links, or ideas on Facebook and Twitter. But again, how do you reach folks outside of your network? Also, there is only so much to contribute when you’re still working a day job. (I am also primary caretaker for a relative with cancer, so time is of the utmost value). That’s why I am grateful for the opportunity to post my story here! Hopefully, someone will read this whom I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
I have received some feedback on my book since it was released, mostly from friends and family members so far. I did pay earlier to have After the Dash posted on NetGalley, which is a site where you can post an ARC (advance review copy) of your book and receive reviews and feedback from users. It has been a real mixed bag. I’m finding that people either really love the book, or they don’t “get” it. I don’t mind that part so much, though. I was prepared for negativity, and I admit that my writing would appeal to a certain sect of people with a predilection for my style and an understanding of certain emotions. It’s not for everyone. It is hard-hitting, softened only a little by beautiful language. The book challenges readers and makes them think about some deep ideologies. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anything else you feel like sharing:
If anyone has any questions or would like more advice, I am an …wait for it…open book. Hit me up.
After the Dash
The Doldrums: Not Your Grandma’s Poetry
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Thank you again for the opportunity to share my story with you. Wishing you all the best!
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