iUniverse author Violetta Armour returns to tell us about the fantastic progress of her book, I’ll Always Be With You, including two national awards and stellar reviews! Violetta blogged with us one year ago (see here) when her book was published, and we are delighted to hear such splendid news. Here’s Violetta to tell us more . . .
There’s a phrase that captured me in the book Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell that I am reading for an on-line writing course. Regarding character development: “Some people say that what you wanted to be when you were 12 is where your true yearning lies.” I immediately pictured the little black and white composition book where I started to write a mystery after reading The Bobbsey Twins. I wanted to be a writer. Now 65 years later…okay, so I’m a little slow on the uptake.
Actually I have been a writer my entire life…in fits and starts. Poetry in grade school, the high school newspaper, children’s books when I started reading them to my toddler, more poetry inspired by our man on the moon walk—sporadic bouts of inspiration. I wrote a short story, which I submitted to a Redbook Magazine contest. I believe the rejection letter said something like, “You were so close…we almost picked yours.” Encouraging? Perhaps, but like kissing your sister. I wrote an entire young adult novel in 1999 and queried many agents. A typical response, “Sorry, this is not for me, but that is only one opinion. I wish you luck in finding a home for this story.” It went back in the desk drawer or should I say the flash drive where I removed items from my desktop.
However, the main character in the story, Teddy, seemed to want to come to life again. In 2013, I resurrected Teddy and added some adult main characters to make this genre now contemporary women’s fiction told in three voices. A teen and two adults. Almost two years later, I finally wrote The End on the last page. I started the agent search process again, determined to query at least 45 because Kathryn Sockett said she had 44 rejections on The Help (and some were not kind). I wanted to have the determination and belief in self that she displayed,hoping for the same results.
Between October and December I queried 25 agents. Eight replied, but sadly said “No thank you.” The first however was very positive, saying I had a “high concept novel” and she was sure someone would want it. It was now holiday season and I took a little query break determined to start in again after the first of the year. But fate intervened and I am so glad it did.
I received an email that month from iUniverse saying they were having a half-price sale. I thought, why not? My 75th birthday was approaching and I wanted to see my book in print before I died—seriously! (No, I do not have a terminal illness, but realistically time was moving on). So I took the plunge — and what an exciting free-fall it has been!
In the first 15 months, I’ll Always Be With You has sold over 1,700 units, received mainly 5-star reviews on Amazon with no less than 4, and won two national awards: An honorable mention in the Readers’ Choice contest and a GOLD in Readers’ Favorite Review in the Young Adult-Coming of Age category. I will be receiving this award at the International Book Fair in Miami in November. It has become a book club favorite as I have met with many and have many more on my calendar.
I wanted to share my success story to encourage other writers to believe in themselves and consider self-publication. If you believe you have a story worth telling and written the best story you can, send it out into the universe and see what happens. In time, perhaps I would have found an agent to publish mine traditionally, perhaps not. In the meantime, so many people have enjoyed Teddy’s story and are begging me to write a sequel.
As I encounter people in my community, they often introduce me to their friends as “The writer, or the author” with such admiration that I am thrilled and, frankly, quite overwhelmed.
Their comments validate that it doesn’t matter that a traditional publisher did not recognize me. What matters is that now, indeed, my yearning as a 12-year-old has truly been realized. I am a writer.
Congratulations to Violetta on all of her great strides and recognition! Make sure to check out her blog and website: