Monday, March 18, 2013

How Julie Got Her Groove Back - A Guest Blog by Julie Compton

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Julie Compton. Julie is the internationally published author of TELL NO LIES, a legal thriller set in her original hometown of St. Louis; RESCUING OLIVIA, a romantic, contemporary thriller set in Florida; and the just released KEEP NO SECRETS, the sequel to TELL NO LIES. Her novels combine the suspense of thrillers with the drama of human relationships. Julie was our featured author on February 3, 2012.

When I became a published author, I lost my voice.

How can that be? you might ask. I'd written a book and suddenly it was printed and bound and packaged prettily and shipped to bookstores across the world. Imagine how many people would read the words I'd written. Think of all those readers who would curl up in their favorite chair and dive into a story that once existed only in my head. No voice? How can I say that?

Let me clarify. I didn't lose my "writer" voice, the one that likes to create stories and put them on paper for others to read. No, that voice grew louder and stronger.

Instead, I lost my "Julie" voice. The voice that forms a large part of the woman I am. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not—excuse the cliché—a shrinking violet. I didn't go to law school for three years only to keep my opinions to myself.

But that's, in effect, what I did after I signed my first book contract with a traditional publisher. Without even realizing it myself, I began to tamp down my usually assertive personality. I became a mouse, afraid to speak up about anything for fear I might offend someone—my publisher, my editor, my agent, another author, booksellers, librarians, a potential reader, even an existing reader. Heaven forbid someone might not like what I had to say or got angry with me. I couldn't risk pissing off any of these people, I thought. I didn't want to be seen as the "difficult" or "unappreciative" author. The publisher might not want to publish me again; the agent might not want to represent me. The other author might not be willing to blurb my book. The bookseller or librarian won't stock my book, or they might pan it. The reader might not buy any more of them. I subconsciously censored myself at every turn, all in the name of the next book contract or a possible book sale.

 Somewhere along the way I noticed the change in myself. I also noticed that it didn't matter to my book sales, but it did matter to my mental heath. I began to accept what I'd known all along—that publishing is a business, and my books were commodities. Products. What drives book sales isn't how "nice" or "accommodating" the creator of the product is, but rather, involves a combination of factors relevant to the sale of any product. For books, quality of the product (the story) is a primary factor and is dependent on the author, but other factors, such as packaging, pricing, and marketing, are, for the most part, out of an author's control once she signs over the rights to a publisher. After two published novels, I realized that I didn't like giving up that control, because for me, giving up control somehow translated into giving up my voice. And with the explosion of self-publishing options now available to authors, I no longer had to.

In December, after getting the rights back to my first two novels (and after several years of carefully watching other authors who had taken the leap), I tested the waters by re-releasing my debut novel, Tell No Lies, through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. In January, I did the same with my second title, Rescuing Olivia. I had a blast doing it. I learned how to format e-books, and my daughter, an art student at Savannah College of Art & Design, designed new covers that rival any I've seen from the big guys.

I was so thrilled with the results on those backlist titles—titles that until then had all but disappeared from the radar—that I decided to self-publish my newest novel, Keep No Secrets, a sequel to Tell No Lies. This decision was the riskiest—I wouldn't have advance reviews or bookstore distribution or any of the other few remaining perks of traditional publishing—but I loved the idea of keeping control over the process.

Keep No Secrets released on March 12. With my daughter's design assistance, I chose the cover. I picked the format. I decided the pricing and retain the flexibility to adjust it as I see fit. The novel's success or failure rests with me, and that's just the way I like it. But most of all, I've kept my voice.

 For more about Julie Compton, visit her website at

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Doug Eadie - A Light in the Darkness

When Doug Eadie met Virginia Jacko, CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, he felt an instant rapport. Eadie, the president of Doug Eadie & Company, a Florida consulting firm, had years of experience working in the non-profit sector.  Although he had met many executives in the course of his career, he was captivated by this dynamic woman with her sunny smile and “can-do” attitude. Jacko was in a unique position to lead an organization whose primary goal was to help the visually challenged. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1998, Virginia Jacko had gradually lost her sight and become totally blind.  

Eadie, a self-described “Board Mechanic” who specializes in building non-profit board-CEO partnerships, spent several months working with Jacko and the Miami Lighthouse. During that time, he became close friends with this remarkable woman. “It was a great partnership,” Eadie says. “I loved working with her. It wasn’t always easy because we both have strong personalities, but we developed a deep mutual respect.” When the project concluded in 2006, the two continued to stay in touch.
Eadie, the author of 18 books on non-profit leadership, began to think about channeling his writing in a new direction. In the summer of 2008, he decided to write a book chronicling Jacko’s amazing story. “It was scary to me,” he recalls. “I’m a person who likes structure. I was convinced we had a book; I just wasn’t sure what kind. But I knew it was too good a story to package as a management book.” After discussing the idea with Jacko, Eadie flew to Miami in late December to conduct the first of several interview sessions with her. He then spent the next year organizing the information and putting the ideas together while Jacko, his co-author, reviewed and fact-checked all the material. Working on the book was a surprisingly emotional experience for Eadie, who often had to stop writing because he became so moved by Jacko’s words. Finally, in January, 2010, The Blind Visionary was published.

The Blind Visionary traces Virginia Jacko’s personal journey from her days as a successful executive at Purdue University through the ordeal of her gradual loss of sight. The story  culminates with her new beginning as a vocational rehabilitation student who eventually rose to the top position at Miami Lighthouse. Eadie hopes her example will be an inspiration to readers as they deal with the difficulties in their own lives. “The lesson in Virginia’s experience is that whatever your challenge, you can face it,” Eadie explains. “I hope people will be energized and motivated by Virginia’s story. I also want it to be a tool to help people realize that, whatever their challenges may be, they can bring something meaningful to their lives through their actions.”

Over the past 25 years, Eadie had worked with over 500 nonprofit and public organizations of every shape and size in a wide variety of fields, including association management, public education, economic development, and public transportation. Although he had an established reputation as an author in his field of expertise, writing The Blind Visionary was such a profound experience for him that he intends to continue writing in this more personal view.  Recently he has created a new blog, “Entwined Lives,” ( which chronicles his and his former students’ experiences during his three years as a Peace Corps teacher in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “My three years  teaching English and ancient history at Tafari Makonnen School, one of the finest public schools in Addis Ababa, not only transformed my life, but also resulted in lifelong friendships that I celebrate in my “Entwined Lives” blog,” he says. “As a writer, I envision these blog posts as a rich reservoir I can draw on in writing my next book.”

For more information on “The Blind Visionary,” go to

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