On this, my official one-year publishing birthday, it feels appropriate to wax poetic a bit about this journey.
But I won’t.
Instead, I’ll tell you that I started this process feeling kind of alone. I really didn’t want to tell many people about my plans ahead of time, because some have a way of trying to talk you out of your dreams. They tell you the road will be difficult, or you might not have the talent, or that it’s all about luck. I still remember when I was around twenty years old, sitting in a college writing class, with my snarky thirty-something professor telling me that being a published writer wasn’t really a viable goal. “I’m an English professor, and I can’t even get The New Yorker to send me a personalized rejection letter.” Unbeknownst to her, my barely-out-of-high-school self had already received a personalized letter from The New Yorker, where a male scrawl informed me that I was talented and to keep submitting my writing. I just folded it up and sat on it, because the timing wasn’t right.
On the one-year anniversary of my official outing to the world as a writer, the thing I most want to share with you is the fact that I’m not alone. There are some really awesome indie authors out there who have perfected their craft and have quality books. These are a few that I have discovered in the last year (in the order I read their books).
The Secret Life of Book Club is about four women who decide to start spicing up their lives by doing things instead of simply reading about them. What ensues is a glimpse of real life, with its ups and downs, heartaches and excitements, and plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure. The characters felt very real, which is a huge selling point. My review: I was tearing up at the end simply because these ladies WERE, and I got to know them, and I was grateful. Find it here
T.I. Lowe possesses a unique southern voice that she uses in narration as though she is simply sitting down and telling you a story. I think that is one of the things that made Leah’s story so heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. After seeing her struggles through her eyes, I felt as though I knew her…every fault and scar and endearing quality that drew Crowley toward her. My review: Beautiful and emotionally raw. Find it here
One of the bravest books I have read in a while, that dared to take on tough subjects (life as a kept woman) while keeping the characters honest and realistic. Around the middle, there was a scene that was so well-written, I remember thinking I felt like a fly on the wall. Kept has garnered lots of attention this year, and it’s so well-deserved. My review: Think Francine Rivers, and then bump it up a notch. Find it here
You know that Hallmark movie? You’re scrolling through the channels, and you see it listed…you’ve seen it a million times, but you can’t pass it up. It gets you in the gut every time. This is that Hallmark movie. The love story between Ava and Sawyer was one of my absolute favorites of the year. In fact, if I had to choose one male character that I preferred most next to my own characters, Sawyer might get the nod. My review: JoAnn is a master of dialogue, and this one had me feeling like I was sitting in on the meet-cute and listening in on each verbal faux pas. Find it here
Heather Day Gilbert
I love history so much, I studied it in college as my second major just because I might want to write a historical novel some day. Most historical novels excel in the facts and lack in the storytelling, or have a good story with no solid evidence. God’s Daughter is one of those rare books that has all the requisite research, but combines it with such a solid story that it feels like it could be a diary from Gudrid herself. My review: The first-person point of view was so effective, I was totally drawn in from the beginning. Find it here
This one snuck in on me yesterday, and oh my goodness, did it sneak in. I had been saving it for a while because I had a feeling I might get sucked into it, and it did not disappoint. The beginning reminded me a little of Anne of Green Gables, which I loved. Never before have I been slightly emotional reading every page of a book, but from the very first lines, I was drawn in. Gorgeous prose and imagery, a great life lesson, and a love story to melt your heart. My review: One of the most beautiful, touching stories I have ever read. Ever. Find it here
Back to Me
At the end of this roller coaster year, all I have to add is that my goal is simply to write the novels that God gives me in a way that pleases Him. If I had to add a second wish, though, it would be that anything I write would be worthy of being on a list with these great books. As I start year number two, I’m hoping to be one step closer to both those goals. This is my sixth book, Crowned. Harley Laine is a reporter on her way to the top when passion and compassion collide to change her life forever. It’s a story that ministered to me while I was writing it, and now it’s God’s to send out into the world. If you want to check it out, you’ll find it here.
Finally, to every one of you who took the time to encourage me, unlike that professor so many years ago…thank you from the bottom of my heart. I see you, and I love you. You’ve held me up when the going was difficult, and I want to thank you. By commenting on this post, one of you will randomly win a $20 Amazon gift card. (Hint: You can use it to buy some of these fantastic books.) The winner will be chosen on August 22, Crowned’s release date.