New review for ABERRATION on Masquerade Crew

Thanks to sites like Masquerade Crew, indie writers (such as myself) have an incredible opportunity to reach readers with our work. Writing can be lonely, seeking representation dream crushing, but knowledge around publishing and community support can be incredibly empowering… and uplifting.

There are a great many reasons why I went the Indie route, even though I did have positive feedback from a few agents that were interested in exploring ABERRATION.  In the end, Indie route is what worked for me. Would I have loved to have had a marketing team behind promoting my first novel? Sure. Would I have loved to have conducted a multi-city book tour? Sure. Would I love to have trailers and artwork and fans by the thousands clamoring for an ARC of its sequel? Sure. But…through this experience I’ve met an incredibly warm and accepting community whom I am proud to call friends. They offer advice and support and most of all, when the writing blocks come (and they ALWAYS do) they are there, at ungodly hours, offering encouragement and support. And that my writing friends, is one of the biggest reasons I went Indie for my first book. Its a success that can not be measured in books sold or checks cashed.

So, thank you Masquerade Crew for taking the time to read ABERRATION, my first novel, and sharing your thoughts, honest and candid, in your review. I loved reading your view on my book, “a coming of age drama, an emotional journey and a story of discovery.” I loved to hear you thought the characters were “well-imagined, the plot engaging.” I was even OK with the honest feedback around the ending — endings, after all, are highly subjective — because you took a chance on an Indie writer. You took a chance on someone unknown. You took a chance on someone just wanting one person besides themselves to read the characters that were as real to them as they were in their book. You took a chance on me, and for that I will always be thankful.

That’s all us aspiring writers really want for our words after all. To be read.

Happy Birthday to a Dream

In December I wrote about my plans to self-publish my first book after a long and interesting journey down the traditional publishing road. It was a tough decision and one I didn’t take lightly. I researched options and discussed with friends —  both those whom have had luck in the traditional publishing world, and those who have never published at all in fear of failure — and in the end, my decision was solid. I found a community that was warm and accepting and supportive (lots of emails and comments of support on this very blog in fact!), and a handful of vendors willing to take a chance on an indie author looking for neither fame nor fortune, but simply, one who wanted her words to be shared with others. And so, after much work, patience and waiting, a few weeks ago my dream saw the light of day and Aberration, my first novel, was revealed to the world.

I’ve always taken risks. I’ve always had the confidence to stand at bat, on a stage, or in front of a room, but I’ve never been more scared or unsure of myself then I was at that very moment, and absolutely terrified me. What if people hated it? What if they thought I couldn’t write? What if they thought the story was stupid? So many questions ran through my mind it was hard to think straight. But then I received some great advice: some people probably will hate it. Some people will probably think you can’t write. And yes, some might think it’s stupid. But some people might also love it. Some people will be touched by your words. And some might think it’s the best story they have ever read. Every reader will interpret your work differently. Some people will  identify, while others will crucify; some will love your characters, while others will loathe them.  But in the end you must have thick enough skin to accept it – all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly. You must let it roll off and know that it’s OK to feel excited and inadequate — it’s what makes us human.

Great advice.

Publishing a novel is a crap shoot and one that not every writer wants to take. But in taking it, I’ve learned so much that I would do it all over again.

I learned that I am stronger than I give myself credit for.  I learned that its not about the fame or the fortune…at least not for me. So what if I don’t write the next 50 Shades of Grey. So what if my characters aren’t idolized as Edward and Bella.  So what if I don’t win a Pulitzer. So…what. Because you know what? I put it out there. I put my words out there. I put my characters, whom I have loved and nurtured and laughed and cried with, out there. I put myself out there.

I love to tell stories and that love, despite the range of emotions, has only grown even more during this entire process. I love to create fictional towns that are so real in my head I want others to see their streets as I see their streets.  About characters who make me laugh and smile and sometimes even angry, but regardless of their perfection and flaws, interesting enough that readers will go anywhere with them, no matter the journey. And I love to explore the possibility of what it. What if there were magic? What if you could go back in time? The what if’s go on and on and on.

I was positively buoyant when feedback began pouring in from readers and even now, as I begin to work with reviewers, it is this buoyancy I am holding onto. Not everyone will be excited about the story, not everyone will give me a thumbs up. But those that don’t love it won’t hold quite the same power as I thought they would because when I released my first novel I not only took that crap shoot but I placed a bet. On me and on my dream. And they were both worth it.

Aberration is the debut novel from author Danielle Simmons. It was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It is available at a variety of online bookstores and coming soon to a handful of select SF bookstores.  Fallout, the sequel to Aberration, is due for release early 2013. It will be the second book of a planned three book series. 

My adventure in self publishing begins

I am way behind on my reading because funny enough, I’ve been writing….a lot. In fact, next week I will begin the journey of self-publishing my first book Aberration, and God willing, by the end of the year finish my second (name to be revealed shortly).

I am incredibly proud of my growth from book 1 to book 2, not just in genre, but style, and I am looking forward to where that growth takes me in book 3. For me, writing is telling a story – a story that slams into me in the middle of the day or while driving my car. A story that despite shaking it off, is persistent, waking me in the middle of the night, begging its characters to have a name and a face.

I’m nervous, and excited, and a bit scared truthfully. I’ve loved these characters from the moment they were born and found it hard to let them go when the bittersweet words “The End” came. But I had to let them go in hopes others would get to know them and love them too.

I shared initially with family and friends, and that feedback was mixed: some loved it, some hated it. And after reworking a bit, I began submitting to lit agents, that feedback also mixed: some liked, some passed, and a few requested manuscripts for review that are still in queue waiting to be read (per my last check). Some might say that was success in itself, getting a query letter read by an agent after hearing some of the query letter horror stories that are out there. But being a PR person by day, what good would I be if I couldn’t write a strong pitch letter selling my own product after having done it for others for over 15 years?

Perhaps the most important learning from that process was the overall feedback. Could I write, yes. Did the story work, sure. But were those readers my target audience, was their feedback helpful, or could they share with others in my target audience? Hmmm…that I did not know.

It took a huge leap of faith on my part to decide to self publish my first book. But after following Book Baby the past few months, a digital distributor of eBooks from independent authors, poets, memoirists, and publishers, I’ve decided it’s a great avenue for me – its inspiring interview with lit agent Michael Larsen last week on the Book Baby blog, sealing my decision.

In the interview BookBaby President Brian Felsen discusses the value of self publishing with the Larsen-Pomada agent who highlights the value it can offer to writers, not just as a way to reach an audience but find your audience. In today’s world where anyone can write, the various forms of publishing – from blogs to yes, even Twitter – have changed the game in how work is distributed. Where before it was write, get published and have your marketing team market your work towards a specific audience, writers today must almost work backwards in finding, providing relevance and securing popularity among an specific audience, before an agent might think about representing your work.  To some that may sound exhausting.  But to me, it sounds pretty smart. Actually, I think it’s brilliant.

How many bloggers out there have found incredible success reaching thousands of readers a day with their voice? And how many of those bloggers have also found themselves go on and become celebrated writers after successfully speaking to and sharing their voice with readers – their readers. Well, I don’t know the exact number, but it’s a lot.

And that’s my dream, to share my voice with others.

But while I still dream my words will reach millions, the way in which I think it may has shifted and I’m ok with that. Instead of lining the shelves of my local bookstore (actually, a now non-existent bookstore) my stories might be read by someone on their tablet, e-reader, or even smartphone. And instead of it being a reader in one city, it could be readers around the world which is in one, hyphenated word, mind-blowing

I can’t wait to begin this next journey and will be sure to share with all of you where it takes me.  If an agent discovers me then who knows, maybe one day my books will line a bookstore. And if they do, grab a copy and let me know you read this blog post and remembered me way back when. 😉

Video: Book Baby Interview with Literary Agent Michael Larsen