First, let me say how glad I am to be joining the Austen Authors group. For more than 10 years, I have been reading stories by the other authors represented here and could not have imagined that I would one day become one of them. As an introduction, please let me tell you something about myself. My name is E.M. Storm-Smith. I’m a non-profit corporate attorney in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; mother to a wonderful little guy; wife to the best friend I’ve ever known; and completely new to the world of writing and publishing books! I grew up in a small town in central Indiana, and while I’ve moved around a lot since graduating high school, my family has now settled in the same county of my youth. Before I became an attorney, I was a Nuclear Engineer civilian consultant for the US Navy. I got to work on nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers; designing and running tests of equipment alongside our impressive enlisted and commissioned sailors. Today, I work with nonprofit organizations to help them meet their impact goals and sustainably grow financial assets to ensure longevity.
I’m finishing all the final touches of my first novel – Reputation, An Easy Thing to Lose – which will be available later this year. I’m so excited to be able to launch my book here with the Austen Authors!
The biggest question now is how in the world did I come to write Austenesque novels?
It all began with a stolen book.
Specifically, someone tried to steal one of my books off of an author website where I have been posting stories for like minded Jane Austen fans. But that’s not really where my writing journey started.
I started writing stories and fan fiction as an outlet after finishing law school. I had been in graduate school for four years, earning a masters degree and a JD, and had been required to read more than 100 pages then write case briefs & memos of upwards of 2,000 words per day.
For Four Years.
Then I took the bar exam and it all stopped. The bar exam is in July, my job didn’t start until after Labor Day. I found myself at home with an 18-month-old baby and NOTHING. TO. DO.
Fan fiction had been the thing I read for myself in between law treatises and SCOTUS cases. Most of the stories I followed (and still follow) were short stories, but a few of the authors on my favorite website would get into 50k+ word novels. Often, they would post a chapter or two per week. Just enough to feed my habit but not too much to keep me from sleeping all night. It was a wonderful escape. So, when I was bored and anxious about whether or not I passed the bar exam, if my baby was healthy, how to lose the baby weight that was still stubbornly stuck to my midsection, and all the other destructive thoughts floating around my brain, I decided to start my own story. The first one was just a whim, but it filled the nap time hours with something stimulating and new.
I was terrible at first.
My engineering degree and law school training were not at all helpful for writing fiction prose. My tenses were all over the place. I had a serious telling v. showing problem. Typos, sentence fragments, run-ons, misused phrases and words, overly dramatic character reactions, clichés – you name the writing sin and I committed it. But I was already hooked. My story was getting good reviews for its concept and gentle nudges regarding the technical writing problems. Each chapter I wrote and posted got better. Eventually, I had over 1,000 likes on my silly little story. The positive feedback was addictive. So, I kept writing the kinds of stories I liked to read and kept posting them for friends and family to find online. This went on for about six years.
Fast forward to March 2021. I sat down for the first time in probably six weeks (I’m not the best or most consistent social media user) and logged onto my author account to check comments and new followers to my stories. What was waiting for me was a torrent of messages from my readers telling me that one of my books had been stolen whole-hog and uploaded to Kindle Unlimited. Some unknown person just downloaded an EPUB version of my whole work, changed the title, gave it a terrible cover and tried to sell my book. I didn’t even know this had happened until about a month after it first went on sale. Thankfully my readers and online friends were quicker than I was. The bootlegged book was taken down from Kindle within a couple of days based on the nearly 100 comments between Amazon and Goodreads tagging it as a copyright infringement.
I probably should have been mad. Maybe one day I will be mad, but what I really felt was flattered.
Someone thought my story was good enough to try and make money off of it. Maybe I could do the same. Maybe I have what it takes to actually do this thing for real. Funny enough, what I was most mad about was the zero effort put into the bootlegged book. They just changed the title to something trite and used an ugly photo for the cover that had nothing to do with the story at all. I felt like my baby, which had taken the better part of two years to write, deserved better!
So, I decided to take the plunge and publish myself.
In my day job as a corporate attorney, I had actually once helped a client and good friend set up her own publishing company to self-publish her books (check out the Calculated Series by K.T. Lee – https://ktleeauthor.com/ ). I was already familiar with the contracts for most of the major online book retailers and ebook distributors. Plus, I have the background in intellectual property and copyright law needed to file for my own IP protection. I am tenacious (stubborn), detail orientated (perfectionist), hard working (obsessed), and like a new challenge (has a hard time doing the same task twice).
I could do this!! So I set up my own LLC publishing label – Storm Haus Publishing, LLC – and took the plunge 🙂
Spoiler alert – it was so much harder than I expected, but still really worth it.
I’d love to connect with you! Come find me in all the usual places: