I was ready to hang up my writer’s hat. That’s how dismal I saw my future for writing. My reviews have always been great, the feedback fantastic, but my sales were far from double-digits, let alone the seven figure incomes that my fellow author friends were pulling in. My new series, End of Crows-Small Sacrifices, was being banned from marketing agencies being labeled as “encouraging uprising”, despite the facts that my series was along the same genre as Divergent, Hunger Games and Maze Runner. My mind was set, I was going to move on to other things (though writing has always been my therapy and passion) and informed my best writing friend that I was done. She did as all good friends do and told me not to give up, my time was coming. Sweet, supportive words from a sweet, supportive friend.
Fast forward to September 1st, 2022. This sweet, supportive friend of mine is DMing me on Facebook at 1:01 am. Her message: “OMG! OMG! OMG! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! Message me when you know what I’m talking about!!!” When I finally woke up at 6:00, I read her message. My response? “Ummmmm what?!!! Now I’m freaked out!” Her response. “You have a GOLD medal in the Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards!!!!!!! On a year with record number of entries!!!!” Of course, after this I had to call her as I ran to the office and pulled up Reader’s Favorite website. Sure enough, there it was. My cover with a gold medallion sitting in the front space of the YA Adventure category. When I say I started crying, it’s a complete understatement. It was an ugly cry; tears pouring down my face, snot running out of my nose. Not a pretty sight but extremely real because I had given up writing, believing I wasn’t good enough. My friend’s words of encouragement while I was sobbing on the phone with her: “See RaeAnne? You are an excellent writer; you just really suck at marketing!”
Hence began my new adventure as an award-winning author. So many changes happened within this time. I had been researching food, chemicals and the government (another facet of my life, I have been obsessed with biology since high-school, coupled with my college law courses which my focus on criminal and business law allowed me to expose the horrific crimes USA is hiding from the citizens) so I had dropped 30lbs in less than 3 months, was able to get off ALL of my prescribed medications and underwent a surgery at the end of September. I was also dealing with my 20-year marriage on very shaky ground and divorce had been agreed upon. To say the next few months were a whirlwind is a complete understatement.
I knew the awards ceremony was my opportunity to stand out and I may never have that chance again, so I was going big. Since my husband and I separated our finances, I had to take out a loan for my girls and I to fly down to Miami and stay in a hotel, but it was worth it in my opinion. I wanted mechanical wings that would extend when I was being presented my award. My youngest daughter, with her autistic intense focus, said she could have them made in plenty of time. She began working on the frame, circuit board and remote. One week before we were to fly out, the circuit board and the piston caught fire, a loose ground was the culprit. My daughter and I were devastated. There was no way we could order the replacement parts and get them installed before we left. Refusing to submit to failure, my two girls and I came up with an alternative. What about a temporary tattoo of my book logo, with gems and glitter on my back? My dress was very elegant with crystals, flowing fabric with an open back. We decided to go for it.
Fast forward to November. I had never traveled without my husband or been to Florida, and the pressure to keep everything organized while keeping my daughters safe weighed heavy on my shoulders. I’m from little-town Colorado, not some experienced traveler and according to the news and social media, it’s a scary world out there. Again, the reminder that this may be my only shot niggled at the back of my mind. We were going for it. Every person we dealt with, every business, even fellow passengers were incredible. The kindness was apparent and very appreciated. I didn’t experience ANY of the hatred, racism, bias, ugly scenarios that was being presented to the world. And then we hit Miami. I will tell you right now, Miami is my soul city. Every single person was kind, compassionate and treated the girls and I like lost family and don’t get me started on Little Havana. There’s got to be Cuban blood in my soul because it felt like home.
We flew in on a Thursday, played on Friday and Saturday then got ready for the awards ceremony Saturday night. It was a whirlwind of activity and I honestly felt like I was the Bell of the Ball. I was the only one who had done anything related to branding and when I turned my back and Mark held up my book to show that the tattoo on my back was actually the logo of my book cover, the screams from the audience was deafening. Heading off the stage to go to the photographers, I was bombarded with people asking about my back, how I came up with the idea, how awesome it had turned out. When one of the big wig marketing agencies came up to me, he told me that was a brilliant branding technique and that I should be very proud of myself. And I am. I went big, I did everything I could to make myself stand out. My only regret? The silver and bronze winning authors of the YA Adventure category were in the crowd, and they whooped and hollered when I was up on stage. I waved to them to thank them, and I wanted to go up to them SO BADLY after the ceremony, but I didn’t. The reason? They were in their twenties (I’m guessing) and they looked SO cool, and fun and here was a 50+ year-old woman who was still doubting herself. I didn’t feel cool enough to approach them. My girls, who are sixteen and eighteen, constantly tell me I am the coolest mom and very different from their friend’s mothers, fell on deaf ears. Kids are supposed to say that to their parents, aren’t they? (Yep, I swapped that scenario around) This year, if I perchance win with the next two books in my series, I have vowed that I WILL approach them and congratulate on their incredible accomplishments! By the way, you can find their books on Amazon. Sarah Newland: Extant and Nicole Kilpatrick: Clover.
Having met all of the incredible authors from around the world was a very rewarding experience. I love hearing and learning about other cultures and listening to other authors talk about the inspiration and drive behind their stories was incredible. I’m honored to be a part of this group who won an award with the 2022 Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards.
While I’m still struggling with marketing agencies refusing to promote my book because of their ignorant labeling, I haven’t given up and am waiting for the day that the readers speak louder than the corporations. Willow deserves to be in the hands of those who love a great story, with a great heroine and a great adventure. The End of Crows series is currently on Amazon and this website and you are more than welcome to check out my reviews, but starting in March, my books will all be transitioned to this website only. I’m excited to connect directly with my readers and create prizes and games for fun interactions, because I think there should be more fun in this world! Have a very blessed day!