Article by Karen Victoria Smith
Like most writers, I can tell you that I made up stories and lived in my imagination through much of my childhood. Then in sixth grade, I was marked as being an exceptional math student. From there it progressed to the sciences. Somewhere along the line, I fell into the trap that math-types cannot write. I tried my hand at it, but always convinced myself that what I had written was not anywhere near as good as what others were writing. I remained a voracious reader.
Shortly after college, I embarked on a career on Wall Street. A path that was to impact my writing and help create, Micaela O’Brien, the 29-year old investment banker who is main character of Dark Dealings. Investment banking is not as glamorous as many believe. I spent long hours in conference rooms pouring over documents and debating wording and punctuation. That was often followed by long hours of proofreading those documents before they became part of a public offering. This training has helped my fiction writing by teaching me that every word is important and that subtle differences in word choice can change meaning.
And then life happened. You know what I mean. Marriage, children, full-time jobs, aging parents. Through all those years, I continued to read. I devoured books in many genres and revisited the classics. But my passion remained with the paranormal.
I had been raised in an Irish family and spent many years with my grandmother who had come to this country from Athlone. She instilled in me a love of the unknown through stories from her childhood and a mutual love of the old horror and suspense movies. We would even sit in the dark and listen to vintage radio shows like The Shadow that were being re-broadcast by a local station. I laughed at the story of my mother being hidden in a furnace (obviously off at the time) by my great-grandmother in an attempt to hide her from the invading Martians during Orson Wells’ famous broadcast.
And all along the way, I learned the power of a well-told story to transport you from the ordinary world.
So what was my first challenge in becoming a writer – getting out of my own way. I had to come to a place in my life where I could define myself by my passions and not what others told me they should be. There is an old expression that when the student is ready the teacher arrives. I experienced this personally and see it often in the writers who come to me now for help and guidance (some are more ready than others).
About four years ago, a good friend of mine wanted to take an online class, but she hesitated not knowing anyone. So in a gesture of moral support, I signed up with her. Well, you know how the story ends. We met an amazing group of supportive writers and the woman who has become a friend and mentor. I continued through her classes with Dark Dealings as my primary project throughout.
Two years ago, I began the traditional querying process. The Kindle explosion was still months away. I also joined the social media world on Facebook and Twitter. There I met another community of writers, including the generous and talented Karen Elliott. Through this group, I continued to learn, not just about writing but publishing and marketing.
The world of publishing was shifting under everyone’s feet. The tasks around publishing and marketing seemed at times overwhelming, but through the community I had found we could get answers or help each other find them.
Last year, my traditional dreams seemed about to come true. I received the first of several offers to publish through small houses and an offer of representation. Well, one thing after another happened and after one particular event, my agent and I parted company. During that time, I continued to review what the traditional world would do for me and what price I would pay for that. The world continued to change with some of the giants faltering or failing.
I have always been someone who values flexibility to change with the times. I decided that at this point in time I will self publish my work. I have had the help of many, including a cover artist and a copy editor. I have a long background in business. This is now my business and if you are serious about being a successful writer, whether traditional or self published, then you should invest in your business. Rise above the pack as a writer of quality. I am technically four years into this journey and I have only begun.
My best advice: This is a challenging calling. You must be creative and analytical, sometimes simultaneously. But build your community of writers and readers, hone your skills and stay with it. It is, as many will remind you, a marathon and not a sprint.
Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark. KV lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real.
Dark Dealings – Wall Street has fangs. When international power brokers – creatures hiding in plain sight – threaten Micaela and those she loves, will this heiress of a Druid legacy deny her power again and let others die? A thrill ride of money, magic and murder across the globe.
Blog: Storyteller’s Grove