I just wanted to share a bit of good news I received this week. You might have noticed this past year that my first book, Into the West: The Orphan Train was a finalist in the 2019 TopShelf Indie Book Awards. Unfortunately, it was just a finalist and did not take first place. Which is still amazing for a brain damaged writer who tends to forget how to spell their own main characters names at times.
However, this week I received a letter from TopShelf and they have nominated my book for a second chance in their 2020 TopShelf Indie Book Awards. The letter I received stated their panel, which is made up of agencies, publicists, publishers, TopShelf scouts, and Insider members, felt my work deserved another chance to take first place so they are nominating it for this years contest. Which basically means they waived almost all the fees and are allowing me to enter my book in the contest again.
Most of you already know that Stephen Burckhardt is a pen name and not my legal name. I chose to write under this name because I was worried that after surviving all the brain surgeries I would not be able to write the way I used to before the accident. With a pen name, if I completely screwed up and my books were horrible I could always just stop publishing, walk away, and no one would ever know it was me who wrote them.
So now, I find it rather ironic that the very first book I wrote has not only been a finalist in the TopShelf Indie book Awards contest but now it's nominated for this years awards as well. I think I am still in shock about it all. I never even considered what it would be like if my books were good, I just wanted to write them.
I will be honest, I have no idea how much weight these awards actually carry in the literary world but I do know readers take notice if a book has awards on the cover. I know my book sales have increased since I started posting the award seal on the book cover. No matter what, this positive feedback from industry insiders does boost my self-confidence. It makes me want to push to get more attention for this entire serial.
This brings me to my ambitious goals for this year. I want to finish writing all the books in the Into the West Saga Serial and get at least the audiobook for book one finished. I want to get my books on the shelf of at least one local bookstore. And the biggie, I want to go to the Frankfurt Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Germany this year. It is one of (if not the) biggest book conferences in the world.
Authors, publishers, agents, editors, scouts, PR specialists, graphic designers, and so many more people from around the globe who are involved in any field to do with the literary world will be there. There is also a big book fair that has happened here in town the last few years but I do not see any dates listed for 2020 yet. If it comes back this year, I want to have a booth to sell my books and book bags at the fair. I will have to wait and see if I can get more information on that.
I would like to be able to start work on my autobiography by the end of the year. I have been wanting to write it for a while now. My college advisor in the journalism department, Les Anderson, used to tell me that was the story I should write. He said with my unique condition and the crazy series of unfortunate complications, people would be intrigued and inspired by what I was able to overcome. I've had the title in mind for years: Free Bad Haircuts With Each Craniotomy. This comes from a T-shirt I made for myself when I was going into the hospital for my first brain surgery.
I was trying to find ways to have fun and find humor with what I was about to go through because, honestly, I was scared out of my mind. I threw a party and had the MRI of my brain put on a cake that we got to cut into. We drank bloody brain shots at the party too. At the time, I was a graphic designer so I designed T-shirts to amuse myself.
Going into the hospital I wore the one that read "Free Bad Haircuts with Each Craniotomy", it also had my neurosurgeons name listed on it as the hairstylist to the hairless. Then, when I was ready to leave the hospital, I had another T-shirt with a picture of a crazy cat on it and it read, "I had brain surgery, what's your excuse?!"
I am still making my game plan and trying to figure out all the details but with any luck this could be a great year for me and my writing. Please keep your fingers crossed, keep reading my blogs, and (if you have a mind to) share my blogs with your friends. It costs you nothing to share a post on your social media but it might actually help me rebuild my career.
Your support means the world to me. Thank you so much for following me!