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Anyone who is brave enough to put their thoughts, feelings, emotions or stories on paper is truly taking a risk. The thoughts which have been floating around in your head suddenly become bound by the ink and the paper on which the words lie. No longer private in your own little world, but now valid and ready for the world to read. The world is a big place! Full of media mongers, haters, criticizers, and a highly sophisticated groups of melodramatic geeks who live on their computers just waiting to challenge you and what you have written. Sentence by sentence, word by word, they’re poised to pick you apart. What do you do? Stop? Quit typing and run? OH HELL NO! Write! Write! Write!

Listen, there are always going to be people out there who want to take you down. Because they don’t believe in themselves, they will convince you that you shouldn’t believe in yourself either. It’s simple. We don’t eat the same thing as everyone else. We don’t wake at the same time. We don’t dress alike. We don’t even smell the same. So, the truth is, we are very different. We are going to have profound differences. This is why there is war! This is why racism exists. But, on the positive side of the coin, it is what makes us one piece of the human puzzle. If we were all alike, can you imagine how absolutely boring that would be? I have listed two different conversations…I as one character, and my daughter Carly as the other.

Differences of Opinion:

ME: I love my new lipstick. It makes me look younger, don’t you think, I say questionably looking for affirmation.

CARLY: Younger? She laughs. I really think you’re too old for lipstick. You are about to turn 47 right, sarcastically stated.

ME: Well yes, but I still want to look pretty for Charles, speaking somewhat uneasy now that I’m aware of her disapproving opinion.

CARLY: I would take it off Mom. People will make fun of you. They might think you’re a bit of a tramp,” she said assuring.

Agreeable – We’ll Call This the “Stepford Wives” Opinion:

ME: Do you love my new red lipstick, I question seeking approval.

CARLY: Yes, she says in agreement.

ME: Do you think Dad will like it?

CARLY: Yes. Again, she replies agreeably pleasant.

ME: But, do you think it could be a little more subtle?

CARLY: No. It’s perfect.

ME: Do you think I should wear it to dinner?

CARLY: Yes. It would be lovely at dinner.

ME: Don’t you think I would look beautiful if I outlined my lips in green, shave my eyebrows off and painted smiley faces on my forehead?

CARLY: Yes. I think Dad would love that.

Case in Point:
Differences of opinion are good! They are healthy! They are necessary! They ignite our passion! They
are what makes the merry-go-round of life breathe and survive.

Further Case in Point:

If you can’t handle negative feedback (and trust me there will be some,) put your pen down, turn your
computer off and go take a ‘yes man’ job. Trust me, there are plenty of these in the world already.

But if you really want to make a difference…and you can…don’t be scared! Say what you want to say!

That was quite a soapbox just to get to where I really wanted to go with this month’s blog. But you see, I grew up not believing in myself. And, when I started writing I still didn’t believe in myself. But, I felt compelled to do something outside of my comfort zone because I believed that God had a plan for me…to share his words…to share His love. Secrets of the Porch is an incredible story about healing and believing. He gave me the words and the incredible strength to persevere as I put the words down on paper. Since the book has been released, it has been getting great reviews, but 1,000 ‘Five Stars’ doesn’t compare to the review I received a few weeks ago. Folks, this is what it’s all about. It’s knowing that what you do makes a difference! It is sharing your thoughts, your dreams and your lives with others. Step outside to make yourself known to a neighbor who you’ve never spoke to before. Help an elderly person put groceries in their car. Or write a book, a story of love to share with strangers you may never meet. Yes, you will be judged, but only by your creator should you be concerned. Through me, He created Lila in Secrets of the Porch. She is beautiful emanating an unconditional love, yet non-comparable to His love for us. God Bless you for reading such a long blog and please read the review below. As my words touched SBR, yours too will make a difference. Keep on writing my friend!

Review from SBR:

I was initially drawn to “Secrets of the Porch” by Sue Ann Sellon because of the compelling back cover text. The brief blurb highlighted the plight of a troubled teen unwittingly cast into a unique multi-generational relationship and latent coming of age situation, and was ripe with keywords that caught – and held – my attention. Agony, danger, and four instances of the word “secret”… But when the book arrived in the mail, I was a little disappointed. I thumbed through the pages and saw many references to God, faith and love, and, alas, I hadn’t expected this one to be one of “those books.” You see, I’m an analytical thinker, and while I don’t discount the idea of God, I don’t dwell on it either. I was born on the tail-end of Generation X and, over the past two decades, most of my conversations with The Almighty have centered on one question: Why? I lost my mother, sister, father and grandmother all within seven years of each other; I recently separated from my husband and am tormented by complicated child custody issues; and, if there is a God, well, let’s just say, I’m fairly certain my other relationships with men would offend, rather than please, Him. I’ve been where I’ve been and seen what I’ve seen, and the last thing on earth (or in hell or heaven) I need is a cleverly concealed piece of Christian fiction to tell me about life, love and loss… Nonetheless, I decided to read “Secrets of the Porch,” because, when you order a bacon cheeseburger, you can’t turn your nose on it ’cause it aint kosher.’

Much to my surprise, this cleverly concealed piece of Christian fiction tugged at my heart strings and struck a chord deep within me. Its 224 pages spoke volumes about life, love, and loss in a way that even someone like me could completely relate to and understand. The two central characters – sixteen-year-old Sophie and her seemingly perfect grandmother, Lila – stand in stark contrast to each other, though, taken together, they represent two threads of the same torn psyche. Between the two of them, they’ve been where I’ve been and seen what I’ve seen, and then some – yet, somehow, firm beliefs in God, faith, and love manifest in their story, while they’ve been woefully absent from mine, which begs a familiar question… Why? The answer spills from just about every page in this remarkably tender tone. Both Sophie and Lila brim with a sense of hope that I have not lost, but have abandoned, and each exudes an openness to possibilities, both earthly and divine, to which I have otherwise closed my eyes. I could say that I’m jealous of these fictitious females, but I am not. If anything, I’ve learned a great deal from them – and, even if you are battered, bruised, and broke, you probably will, too.

They say God works in mysterious ways, and, hell, maybe He does. I received this book for free, in exchange for an honest review, and, in the end, I got a lot more than I bargained for. “Secrets of the Porch” truly was a gift to me, at exactly the right moment in my life, when I needed to be reminded that I am not alone, in any sense of the word, and that there is more to life than the dark shadows looming on yesterday’s horizon.

The next step in understanding the publishing process is to realize and accept that Times Have Changed!

I self-published my first novel, Carly’s Calling in 2003 with 1st Books Library after several months of rejections from hundreds of agents and publishers. I was a working mother with four children, three grandchildren, and living in a small town in the Midwest. My name certainly didn’t create a buzz when it arrived on an agent’s desk.

I learned quickly that the publishing world wasn’t going to be easy, but I have always liked a challenge!   I began researching self-publishers and was surprised to find many authors were experiencing great success on their own…some even hitting the New York Times Best Seller List.

1st Books Library (now known as AuthorHouse) was one of the leading self-publishers at the time. Their staff was friendly, professional and easy to work with and within 4-5 months and a few thousand dollars later, I had a finished book in my hands.

Receiving my first order of books was such an incredible feeling. I really did it! I loved the cover I created with an artist who I knew personally and worked with. Holding the book in my hands has definitely been one of my greatest accomplishments. I was proud of myself for following through even in the midst of all the rejection.

The real work was only just beginning!

I began contacting local newspapers and radio stations requesting interviews. I sent letters to bookstores requesting book signings. Some were hits and some were misses.

I landed my first book signing at the new Barnes and Noble store in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was a huge success! Barnes and Noble and the local newspaper advertised sufficiently and hundreds of people showed up. Many people waited in line for quite some time just to purchase a signed book. As I watched the line get bigger, I thought to myself, they’re here for me? It was and will always be a great memory. I met many wonderful people at book signings and made some great friends along the way.

WOW! Times have changed!

Unless you’re Nicholas Sparks, the chances of bringing in a large crowd of people for book signings is slim at best. I learned this the hard way. My second novel, Secrets of the Porch, was traditionally published and released in March of 2014. After four signings, I realized that times have changed. My first local book signing was well received – by family and friends. The next three signings were a flop! I sat at a little table in the bookstore by the front door as people smiled and passed me by. Fortunately, I knew it had nothing to do with the quality of my writing. I’ll say it again…Times Have Changed!

SOCIAL MEDIA!!!  BLOGGERS!!! TWITTER FOLLOWERS!!! FACEBOOK!!! BLOG TOURS!!! INTERVIEWS!!! GUEST POSTS!!! OH MY!!!!

You may have a New York Times Best Seller in your hands. Together, I want us to go on a journey of SUCCESS! In my blog we will talk about our successes and our failures. I want us to share with each other what we’re going through, step-by-step, on this journey. We can share marketing strategies that have worked for us, and those that didn’t. I want to hear from you!

In my November 2014 Blog Post I compared the creation of a novel to that of a pregnancy. There are pains and joys from both. I realized after reading my post that it seemed a little too depressing, when actually, the process of publishing is very exciting and rewarding. Join me monthly as we share our experiences together and become friends along the way!

Publishing…Times Have Changed by   Sue Ann Sellon

Sue Ann Sellon book signingIt’s amaaazzzzzing! You’re ready to jump with joy! For the last year you have calloused the tips of your fingers on the keyboard. Breathing every word you write in and out; chewing them like candy and spitting them on the page. You have re-read and re-read, edited and edited, until your book makes you sick. It’s much like a pregnancy. You begin with this beautiful end in sight. You fall in love with your characters as you begin to create them, one finger stroke at a time. Changing as they grow, suddenly they have taken on lives of their own. Although you can’t see them, you know them, eventually falling in love with them; they are more familiar to you than yourself. You are consumed. The end is near. Your masterpiece is finally complete. You have given birth to your creation…a novel (referred to in this blog as “baby”).

Ahhhhh, it is finished! The hard work is over.

But wait! Don’t get excited just yet. Your new baby isn’t going to be easy. Ya Ya…You’ve heard all those sweet stories about the first time you lay eyes on your baby. “It will be love at first sight,” they say. Well, maybe for you, but there will be others quietly whispering to one another behind your back. “That’s an ugly cover,” they say repulsively. But it doesn’t matter. You know this baby inside and out and you love it anyway. Everyone will love it as much as I do, you think to yourself. Let’s just stop here for a reality check!

Lesson #1 – NO, not everyone will love it as much as you do. As a matter of fact, some might even reject it. I know, I know, it’s a hard reality. But, it’s a fact!

Although you love your baby, you’re willing to admit it needs some polishing, a little fine tuning to become the best it can be. You have read the horror stories. Warning signs listed by bloggers everywhere. CAUTION: Do not send your baby into the world without professional editing! You want the best editing money can buy. You won’t settle for less. So, we drain the savings account a few thousand dollars and our baby is fine tuned.

Lesson #2 – Babies are not cheap!

You’re ready! It’s time to introduce your baby to the world. You knew at some point you would have to let go. Your baby is all grown up. Fearing rejection, you hesitate. Maybe I should just keep it as my own, you think to yourself. Eventually, overriding your fear, you bundle your baby nicely along with a “Query Letter”, a $3.65 postage fee and send it to agents and publishers from coast to coast. Let’s stop again for another lesson.

Lesson #3 – Be prepared to spend several more thousands of dollars for seminars on “How to Write a Query Letter.” The “Query Letter” is the first and most important step in finding love for your baby. If you don’t do this right, you are inviting immediate rejection. You must be creative in your “Query Letter.” You have two to three paragraphs to catch a potential lover’s attention. This is your baby’s first impression. If you receive an incredible piece of chocolate wrapped in a trash bag you’re probably not going to eat it. Right? Get the idea? You must send your baby out into the world prepared, polished and refined. Remember Lesson #2 – Babies are not cheap!

You have done everything you could to prepare your baby for this journey; it may not and usually does not turn out the way you expect it. The journey is full of letdowns, heartaches, rejections, disappointments and there may be times you secretly wish you hadn’t sent it out at all. Daily trips to the mailbox are filled with postcards and letters of rejection. Your baby is floating around out there and no one wants it.

Lesson # 5 – Be prepared for rejection.   Also, be prepared to take out a loan for therapy.

Letters of rejection keep rolling in with similar ineligibility:

            Thank you, but we’re not looking for this genre.

            Thank you, but we’re not looking for this genre.

            Thank you, but we’re not looking for this genre.

            Thank you, but we’re not looking for this genre.

Several months go by and our baby is still seeking love. Lesson #1 is a BIG lesson to learn.

We can’t take it anymore. Our patience has wore thin and we cannot fathom one more rejection letter. We bring baby home.

DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! Our options however have not run dry. There are hundreds of websites who promise your baby love for a little over five grand. They are called “self-publishers.” However, I would refer to them as prostitutes. We pay a hell of a lot of money to find love through them for our baby with only momentary satisfaction.  Self-publishing isn’t all that bad…they put your babies picture on hundreds of websites for people to see in hopes of finding love for your baby. However, there is one big issue with this. Your baby’s picture is a needle in the haystack, buried among millions of other baby pictures.

DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!

SOUND DEPRESSING? Maybe.

Open House Sue Ann Sellon Home

Fact #1 Getting published isn’t going to be easy. It takes perseverance.

Fact #2 Expecting to get an agent with your first novel is like taking a crap in your backyard and hoping they smell it in New York.

Fact #3 You will spend money you don’t have. Hook up with a rich relative that you haven’t seen for a while.

Fact #4 If you cry every time you get a rejection letter, you should probably go to Sam’s Club and stock up on Kleenex. You can buy them in bulk at a very reasonable price.

Fact #5 Even the ugliest babies grow up and get married. Your baby is awesome and it will find someone to love it!

SOUND DEPRESSING?  It really isn’t! Watch for my December 2014 Blog as I continue to share the realities of publishing and how to find your baby the love it deserves!   You won’t want to miss this one!

The Reality of Publishing…It’s a Crap Shoot!     By Sue Ann Sellon