GREENVILLE — Author Dana Brown appeared at Montage Cafe Friday as the featured guest of Author’s Night, a series of free events arranged by the Friends of the Greenville Public Library.
“I loved to read since I was in the fifth grade. When I was in junior high, I used to buy legal tablets and write stories for my friends,” Brown said. “When my kids were young, I would come home and try to write, but it’s hard when you’ve been working all day.”
A native of Muncie, Indiana, Brown worked for First Merchants Bank for 32 years before making the decision to retire early and pursue the writing life.
“I loved my job,” Brown said. “But I had it in my head that I had a book I wanted to write.”
Every Saturday morning, Brown and her husband would go on a bike ride, and it was during those morning rides that the story and characters of ‘Lottie Loser,’ Brown’s first novel, began to take shape in her mind.
“So on February 5, 2016 I said goodbye to my friends, and my life as a banker, and hello to my life as an author,” Brown said. “And on February 9, I sat down at my computer and started writing the book that I’d already been writing in my head for two years.”
Brown was initially discouraged from following the traditional path to publishing when she found out about the long wait that might lie ahead of her.
“Early on I learned that it could be three years from the time you submit a draft to an agent or publisher before you even get that dreaded rejection letter,” Brown said. “So I make no bones about the fact that I paid someone to publish my book.”
Brown self-published ‘Lottie Loser’ through an offshoot of New York-based publishing house Simon & Schuster called Archway Publishing, an increasingly popular alternative for new writers looking to get published. The Matt Damon film ‘The Martian,’ for instance, is based on a book that was initially self-published.
While traveling and promoting the book, however, Brown learned of a writing contest called the Florida Authors and Publishers Presidential Awards. Her book eventually wound up winning a silver medal in the competition, which led to a professional publishing deal with Florida-based Southern Yellow Pine Publishing.
In the meantime, the characters Brown had written about in her first book refused to stay silent.
“These people had been living with me for years,” Brown said. “They were like my kids. I’d lie in bed at night and think about them. So I finally decided my characters had too much to say. I couldn’t put it all in one book!”
Brown’s second book, ‘Call Me Charlotte,’ will hit shelves in April, and she already has plans for a third entry in the series.
“I got to the end of the second one and thought, ‘I’m still not done!’” Brown said.
Brown admonished her fellow writers not to give up on their hopes of being published, no matter how old they may be.
“This last year has been absolutely amazing,” Brown said. “I never could have imagined that my life would be like this. What I really want to share with people is that you’re never too old, and it’s never too late to have your dreams come true.”
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. To join the conversation and get updates on Facebook, search Advocate 360. For more features online, go to dailyadvocate.com