A blog for Writers: Women and Adversity, Rebekkah Niles
Animal lover, avid blogger, author and editorial assistant, Rebekkah Niles knows her craft. “Into the Tides,” a contemporary fantasy, is the first novel in her Broken Powers series. She agreed to participate in my Women and Adversity blog and answered questions about obstacles in her path toward being a writer.
Rebekkah: The first obstacle to my writing career actually took place long before I knew I wanted to write, and in some ways it was fought by my parents, not by me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that obstacle is what ultimately made me an author. My mother, having been a teacher herself, recognized some of the signs and arranged to have me tested for a learning disability. She was right. I was diagnosed with a learning disability in written English.
I can’t say I remember this at all. I was aware I had a hearing discrepancy, thanks to pull-out classes for speech therapy and attention deficit disorder because of the Ritalin I had to take until I rebelled in middle school. But the extra writing help had been given, not just to me but to my whole class every year throughout elementary school. I, therefore, didn’t even know about my learning disability in writing until high school when I was old enough to sit in on my own IEP sessions. (Individualized education plan sessions for discussing how to address learning disabilities and handicaps in the classroom.)
By then I’d already long since fallen in love with writing as a hobby. It was fun; my closest friends also loved it; and thanks to supplemental instruction in an era when grammar was de-emphasized, we were all successful at it. So, in a big way, having a learning disability in writing helped me fall in love with writing.
Question: The biggest obstacle in the decision to become a writer?
Rebekkah: Perversely, the joy of writing. Writing was the hobby I used to keep my sanity when trying to become a teacher. (I wasn’t very good at teaching inner-city middle school math, unfortunately.) It was the hobby I turned to when I decided to try my luck elsewhere; it was the hobby I fled to when the only job I could find in the recession was as a grocery store clerk. But it was only a hobby, and because it gave me so much joy when little else seemed to be going right, it wasn’t something I was willing to share. I was too afraid to lose it, too afraid the sweat of editing or the blood of a thorough critique would wash away the joy.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later, having worked my way up to full-time floral manager, that I discovered it wouldn’t fully cover the student loans and rent. With the remaining promotional opportunities at the time dismal, writing became more than an emotional escape. With about 6 months of savings (many thanks to my parents for letting an adult daughter live at home for a while) and couple of leads on part-time jobs, I jumped—knowing nothing—into the business of writing.
Long story short: I failed. Failed the first attempted manuscript because I didn’t know what I was doing. But I learned, and thanks to the connections I made through joining writing groups, I found another full-time day job that actually used my degree and my skills, and that supported me as I continued to write and learn. It turns out my joy is still there when I’m writing for publication. If anything, it’s grown deeper, even more satisfying, with the refinement of skills and story.
Question: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome when you decided to self-publish “Into the Tides”?
Rebekkah: The biggest obstacle to self-publishing, for me, was the timetable and the investments. It meant being prepared not to break even for three to four books. It meant investing in good editing and fantastic cover design. It meant months, years, of putting money in without seeing return. And when I first came into publishing, desperate and with nothing but dreams in my pocket, self-publishing wasn’t even feasible.
Question: What is the biggest obstacle you face now?
Rebekkah: My life changed and so too did my goals. No longer was I struggling to survive off three part-time jobs; rather, I had a full-time job I loved and wasn’t eager to leave. I’d been able to rebuild some of my savings and had access to an excellent team of beta readers, writing-savvy friends, graphic designers, and classes on publishing taught by the best of the best. I wanted to begin building something long-term, not just something to rescue me. And it’s in the long-term that self-publishing really pays off.
That’s what has led me here, having self-published my first book, “Into the Tides.” It’s a contemporary fantasy and a mixture of all the things I love best: magic in the modern world, romance, family, a little video-game geekery, and characters who would choose to lose everything to save the people they love. It’s the first of many, the beginning of a career I intend to spend the rest of my life developing.
While I work book two of the Broken Powers series, “Into the Storms,” I focus not on advertising but on continuing to build myself, as a professional, as an artist, as an author. I’m still building, not yet well known and with only one book into the game. I can’t say I’m finished struggling. It turns out, though, it’s been the struggles that have driven me into the most beautiful successes in my life, and so I’m not afraid. In fact, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
“Into the Tides”
Being tone deaf, Kelly always considered her music magic useless. But when her handsome, green-eyed neighbor, Derik, invites her on a salvage mission in the magic-devastated American South, she discovers she can hear the voices of the people lost. Hoping to save her Carolina-based family, she’ll seek out a way to collapse the bubble of magic drowning most of the region. But Derik and her only surviving relative—her twin brother—aren’t about to let her face being trapped forever in the magic, or death by the monsters who guard it, by herself. Trying to save everyone who was lost may just cost her everyone she has left.
“Into the Tides” is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and smashwords.com. Check out rebekkahniles.com and contact Rebekkah at www.rebekkahniles.com and https://www.facebook.com/rebekkahniles