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Award Wins, New Trilogies Completed And A 20-Year “Authorversary”: ALLi Member Milestones July 2024

Award Wins, New Trilogies Completed and a 20-Year “Authorversary”: ALLi Member Milestones July 2024

This regular post from the Alliance of Independent Authors celebrates ALLi member successes to inspire our indie author community. This month we've had a bumper amount of submissions, with our Member Milestones for July 2024 celebrating the successes of Author members Alan J. Hesse, Michelle M. Pillow, Franke James, Suzan Denoncourt, Nicholas Nawroth, Carol Fisher Saller, S G Fessel and Stephanie Woodman.

Congratulations to all those featured in this month's roundup and to everyone in our community who has hit a milestone this month!

Do you have a member milestone to share? 

We are always looking to hear from our members about your achievements; from those of you who are just setting out, to our most experienced Authorpreneurs. Whatever your achievement, if you are a member of ALLi, please tell us about your success stories using this form. We will share a selection each month with our members and our wider indie author network.

Alan J. Hesse Author


Author Member: Alan J. Hesse

Alan J. Hesse is a multi-award-winning author-illustrator who merges professional expertise in nature conservation with storytelling and artistic skills. Alan’s 30-year career in conservation gives him a unique edge as an author of children's books with an environmental focus that are both engaging and educational.

Member Milestone: 

Besides having won 1st place in multiple awards over the past year I have seen a significant improvement in sales across many of my books. My Adventures of Captain Polo series of climate education graphic novels and the derived Captain Polo Academy brand in particular have entered a new dimension, being used to formally and informally support climate literacy in different parts of the world.

I am proud because since publishing my first book many years ago I never saw much exposure or interest, and practically zero sales. I now know that my tenacity however is starting to pay off as the books have all won awards, generated glowing 5 star reviews, and are actively supporting climate and other environmental education efforts across the world.

What have you learned?

It pays to be tenacious; believe in yourself and your worth as a writer. It takes time to start moving that needle but if you keep at it and constantly strive for excellence it will eventually happen.

Michelle M. Pillow headsot

Michelle M. Pillow

Authorpreneur Member: Michelle M. Pillow

Michelle M. Pillow is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author known for her captivating blend of romance, fantasy, and the paranormal. She enchants readers with her rich storytelling, unforgettable characters, and immersive worlds. You can follow Michelle on a range of social media channels, including Facebook: @authormichellepillow, Twitter: @MichellePillow and YouTube.

Member Milestone:

I’ve recently celebrated my 20-year authorversary. It’s been an incredible journey filled with countless stories and unforgettable people. To mark this special occasion, I’m thrilled to introduce Merely Mortal, the first book in my new urban fantasy series and my first venture into writing in the first-person POV. This shift has allowed me to dive deeper into the characters' minds and offer readers a more intimate experience. I’m excited to share this new perspective with my fans and embark on this fresh storytelling adventure.

I’m incredibly proud of my career. It represents two decades of sharing stories and connecting with readers around the world. This journey wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support of my readers. Their enthusiasm and feedback have been my constant inspiration. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to explore new creative avenues, like writing Merely Mortal in first-person POV, which has deepened my connection to the character. I also want to thank my author friends and the publishing community for uplifting me throughout the years. This milestone is a testament to our shared passion for storytelling. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey.

What have you learned?

First and foremost, I've learned the importance of adaptability and growth. The literary world is ever-changing, and being open to new styles and perspectives has been incredibly rewarding. I've also realized the power of community; the support from readers and the publishing industry has been vital in sustaining my career. Lastly, perseverance and passion are key. Through ups and downs, staying true to my love for storytelling has been the driving force behind my success. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Franke Gold Author

Franke Gold

Authorpreneur Member: Franke James

Franke James is an activist, artist and the author of four books. Her latest, Freeing Teresa: A True Story about My Sister and Me, is about choosing her sister’s freedom over her family. You can find more information about Franke, along with all her social media channels, on Link Tree: Franke James.

Member Milestone:

I am thrilled that Freeing Teresa won two Gold and two Silver awards in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards 2024: Gold for Family Challenges, Gold for Special Needs, Silver for Leadership, and Silver for Inspirational. Susan Peterson, Founder, Human Relations Indie Book Awards said of the book: “Freeing Teresa describes a beautiful bond between sisters impacted by the challenges of understanding disability rights through adulthood.”

My statement following the win said: “Winning these Human Relations Book Awards is deeply meaningful to me. When the [Freeing Teresa] events started a decade ago, they ripped our family apart. But my parents had given me an unshakeable belief in my sister's right to be included—in everything. Teresa has Down syndrome and lived with my dad. But, at just 49, Teresa was institutionalized against her will. We helped Teresa to escape and she won her freedom back. She has brought love and joy into our lives and has become a BC Champion for Change for all people with disabilities. These awards recognize our roller coaster journey of heartbreak and triumph.”

What have you learned?

Don't wait to write. Do it while the events are still unfolding. In 2013, I started documenting immediately because I was so alarmed. It took ten years to tell this story, but now, these documents (and the authentic dialogue that took place back then) form the core of my book.

Suzan Denoncourt

Suzan Denoncourt

Associate Member: Suzan Denoncourt

Seasoned business executive turned mystery/crime fiction writer, launching book one of the Cisco series in June 2024. You can find out more about Suzan on her website, by connecting on LinkedIn, or by following on Instagram: @suzandenoncourtwriter.

Member Milestone: 

The publication of my very first novel, The Burden of Truth, in June 2024. This officially marks the launch of the Cisco series (mystery/crime fiction) for which book two is currently in editing, and book three is underway.

When I took to writing fiction seriously a few years ago, I questioned whether I had the creative juices and storytelling skills to craft a novel worthy of any readership. After hundreds of hours of writing, researching and editing, I not only have a published work, but a series in queue. I consider it a privilege to be able to immerse myself in what has become a true passion.

What have you learned?

1 – Edit, edit, edit, with good pauses between each revision to better tweak and capture errors.

2 – Enlist the help of experienced resources who are willing to provide guidance.

3 – Arm yourself with patience – the process is long, and some parts can be very tedious. It will all be worth it in the end.

Papa Paws headshot

Papa Paws

Author Member: Nicholas J. Nawroth (Papa Paws)

Nicholas Nawroth has been drawing since he was 9 years old and has never lost touch with his childlike wonder and love of dogs, which he shares in his stories. You can follow Papa Paws on: Instagram: @papaandpaws, Facebook: @PapaAndPaws and YouTube.

Member Milestone:

We were humbled and delighted to learn that Smells Like Bath Time! was a Red Ribbon Winner in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards this year. Run by a fellow author, TWSA is a UK-based award and each entry is read and judged by students.

It's my first recognition of my books by an author award and I love that actual children were the ones reading the books and determining the outcome.

What have you learned?

To keep working to honing your craft each and every day you are getting better whether you feel like your are or not.

Carol Fisher Saller headshot

Carol Fisher Saller

Author Member: Carol Fisher Saller

Carol Fisher Saller is the author of Maddie's Ghost, Eddie’s War, and The Bridge Dancers. Honors for her children’s books include Kirkus Best, Bank Street Best, Horn Book Recommended Verse, NCSS/CBC Notables, the Carl Sandburg Award for Children’s Literature, the Midland Authors Award for Children’s Fiction, and Chicago Public Library’s Best Teen Fiction. You can follow Carol on Facebook: @subversivecopyeditor

Member Milestone:

In May, I received the 2024 Midland Authors Award for Children's Fiction for my middle-grade mystery Maddie's Ghost. Many reviews, honors, and awards are closed to indie writers. I'm thrilled that an organization as old and respected as the Society of Midland Authors chose a self-published book to honor this year.

What have you learned?

Indie writers must stay positive and determined in order to get our books in front of readers. Writing the best books we can is only the first step.

Rick Duffy Headshot

Rick Duffy

Author Member: Rick Duffy

Rick Duffy writes fantasy and speculative fiction. You can follow Rick on Facebook: @rickduffyauthor or X: @rickduffy_

Member Milestone:

After a couple years of continuous writing, I expanded my first stand-alone novel, a YA epic fantasy called The Sigil Masters, into a trilogy, just now publishing the two new books. I was proud of the character and world-building in the first book, and am even prouder now to haver been able to expand those into trilogy.

What have you learned?

There are a million lessons following one book into three. But in this milestone, I think a huge lesson is how much extra time to allow for editing and cover design when trying to coordinate the publishing of a trilogy (including changes to book one.)

S G Fessel headshot

S G Fessel

Author Member: S G Fessel

S G Fessel writes fiction for all ages. Her first novel Switchling will be self-published this summer.

Member Milestone: 

My soon to be published debut novel Switchling won ‘Best New Fiction' in the Pacific Book Awards. This is my first novel so I was thrilled and surprised that it was recognized as a prize-winning entry.

What have you learned?

Submit your work for consideration by others, even if you think your chances of success are small.

Stephanie Woodman headshot

Stephanie Woodman

Author Member: Stephanie Woodman

Stephanie Woodman is an avid collector of experiences and a perpetual student of life. The human species’ ability to persevere and heal fascinates her, and she now writes about this indomitable ability in poetry as well as Historical and Literary Fiction. Find out more about Stephanie here: woodmanbooks.com/links

Member Milestone:

I launched my first book, Eye Contact Over Truk. My first draft of this book began twenty-four years ago. Although I have a background in business and academic writing, this is my first effort at creative writing, and was something I never really thought I could do. The book has now received very good reviews. I am proud that I pursued this until I got it right.

What have you learned?

This endeavor showed me parts of myself that I had lost for a long time, and now will never lose them again.

Hands in the air for Member MilestonesNot yet an ALLi member?

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a global membership association for self-publishing authors. A non-profit, our mission is ethics and excellence in self-publishing.

Everyone on our team is a working indie author and we offer advice and advocacy for self-publishing authors within the literary, publishing, and creative industries around the world. All the membership options and benefits, including free access to our collection of self-publishing advice ebooks, are on our website. Take a look and join us today.

Thoughts or further questions on this post or any self-publishing issue?

Question mark in light bulbsIf you’re an ALLi member, head over to the SelfPubConnect forum for support from our experienced community of indie authors, advisors, and our own ALLi team. Simply create an account (if you haven’t already) to request to join the forum and get going.

Non-members looking for more information can search our extensive archive of blog posts and podcast episodes packed with tips and advice at ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice Centre.


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