As part of the Excellence in Indie Publishing COLOSSAL (i’m starting to run out of adjectives haha!) Giveaway going on this week, Connie Almony shares about not letting her daughter have all the fun… and gives us a glimpse into her journey to indie publishing!
From Greek Cinderellas to Harley-Riding Evangelists
It started with a Greek version of Cinderella set over the backdrop of the Summer Olympics, written by a nine-year-old girl who is the apple of her mother’s eye. Wanting to make this school project the best it could be, she enlisted her said mother’s help in brainstorming ideas for what would replace the ball, the fairy-god-mother, and the royal family for this modern-day retelling.
I happily agreed (being said mother), a thrill shooting through me at any idea that would give me an opportunity to utilize the right side of my brain. My daughter’s passions align with me there, making this project something to look forward to with great anticipation.
So we listed off lots of ideas for what this fairytale would include, and I couldn’t wait to read how she’d work them in and make them sing.
She did! But not all of them.
“Jordan, what about the …?” I’d asked, grieving over the flash of brilliance, which had somehow dropped off the page, as if it were a prized possession of mine she had recklessly lost.
“Well, I thought it would work better if …” At that point, I’d faded out in the hope of preserving sanity from the thought of my abandoned little babies.
I’d considered elucidating on all the reasons she should rethink her editorial prowess, but then I remembered …
This was HER project. Not mine. <heart-wrenching sigh!>
Suddenly, it dawned on me. I didn’t have to leave all the fun to her. I could write my own story!
So, that is how my novel-writing journey began. Yes, I’d dabbled in poetry and prose over the course of my life to that point, but now it was time to get serious.
It’s funny, after I look back, my first two completed manuscripts included elements also found in my daughter’s school project. One, being that her story was a modern-day retelling of Cinderella (My first published novel is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast). And the other, being a pivotal scene in the romance where the hero asks the heroine to sing for him after overhearing her secret musical outpourings. In my daughter’s Cinderella story, it involved an Olympic performance with a Greek bazooki. In my first written novel, One Among Men, the reluctant music major begged to hear more from the woman he’d come to admire as he discovered the God she praised in song. I hadn’t even realized how similar these scenes were until years later when I re-read my daughter’s masterpiece.
You know what they say about great minds …. <wink>. She was my inspiration!
Unfortunately, after I completed writing One Among Men, I’d discovered traditional publishing houses avoided novels set on college campuses. I’d had one editor tell me she loved my writing and the story idea, but could I re-do it in a different setting? To do that would have been to write a different book. I had another editor take it to the marketing committee of her company who eventually rejected it, but the editor told me she wanted to see anything else I had. The only things I had completed at the time were the second in that series (also on a college campus), and At the Edge of a Dark Forest, which I’d specifically written as part of a series of modern-day fairytale retellings, due to be independently published alongside my critique partners’ books. So, I set out to write a whole new novel (that had been knocking around my head for almost twenty years), to eventually have my agent submit to that editor. In the meantime, I’d let my agent continue to shop One Among Men, and I’d indie publish At the Edge of a Dark Forest as planned.
Then, At the Edge of a Dark Forest came out and, my view of publishing turned upside down. I’d set up a twenty-stop blog tour to kick off the marketing. I didn’t know anything about the importance of timing back then and was impatient to get it out. I was learning trial-by-fire! I clicked publish one month before my promotion efforts were set to begin, and my novel took off anyway. It was on the Amazon Fairytale bestseller list for about a year, starting from the day it released. Who knew fairytale retellings about disabled vets were hot?! I certainly didn’t.
There I was, watching that book hang out in the ranks and be praised by bloggers when my college campus novel was going through the ringer. All this while the news in publishing was that traditional houses were retrenching into the tried and true, and not buying stories that may be a little outside of the box. Given that most of my stuff hangs from the edges of just about any shaped box, I knew I needed to give indie a serious look. Even the book I’d TRIED to make fit for the interested editor, God was calling into a different mold–for the people those raised in a tidy Christian community often ignore.
I decided that if One Among Men did not find a home before I completed Flee from Evil, I’d independently publish it and give Flee to my agent. But as the time drew near I felt a Holy Spirit push like few I’ve ever had before, to independently publish that one as well. I knew in the current market, my story about a pastor with a past (from a country club upbringing), whose best friend was a Harley-riding, former drug addict mechanic who taught him about Jesus, might not go over well there. So, I decided to heed God’s very powerful prompting to ignore the marketing machine that directed me only where the dollars were, to speak to an underserved population.
Do I question this choice? Yep. But every time I do, I hear that Still Small Voice whisper in my heart, “Stay put. This is where I have called you to be.” I must heed that call until He gives me a new one!
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
She’s just a suburb gal from the Baltimore-Washington megalopolis. And that’s what Connie Almony’s fiction is about, a diverse population which is truly, and beautifully, colorful.
Trained as a mental health counselor, she hopes you won’t hold that against her. Though this training helps her delve into the motivations that drive her characters, she promises not to therapize you.
Her favorite things to do include listening to awesome Christian Contemporary music (like Third Day and NeedtoBreathe) and read great stories with colorful characters while spending time with her adoring family. She loves to brainstorm with her almost thirteen-year-old daughter, who writes chapter books on the side, and share peaceful moments with her sixteen-year-old son (who’s like a gentle breeze).
The bantering style of her characters is inspired by her husband’s deep love of mischief, particularly that which craves a sharp response ;o). Still, she loves him anyway … which covers a multitude of sins. She’s been married almost twenty years and counts each one better than the one before.
As part of the Mystery/Suspense Excellence in Indie Publishing giveaway, you can win a prize pack of books, including The Long View by Connie Almony!
He’s training with terrorists. She hopes to recover souls.
When Dr. Long, his former boss, makes an unusual request, J.T. MacGregor wonders … What are the man’s motives and how can J.T. use them to his advantage?
Damien Malik is a man willing to risk his life for his Creator. But what does this Creator ask of him and who will he have to betray to answer the call?
Destiny Long is no stranger to her father’s covert world of catching terrorists, but who is he after now? When the man behind the one kiss she will never forget joins a fitness club owned by a suspected member of ISIS, and he’s found praying head-first into a tasseled rug, she wonders … What side of the war on terror is he really on?
Head over HERE to enter the giveaway & while you’re there, enter these other giveaways as well!
And for more journeys in indie publishing, check out these guest posts from: