Written by Aleen Ratzlaff Tuesday, 19 June 2012 08:29
“It’s pretty overwhelming when you’re pretty old and technologically challenged,” author Melody Peugh, 59, of rural Peabody said with a laugh. “It’s a learning process.”
But thanks to the avenue of electronic publishing, Peugh’s debut novel, “Michaela’s Gift,” was released June 15.
The book, targeted to readers age 10 and older, focuses on 12-year-old Michaela and the artistic gift she inherited.
“It’s about her growing up and dealing with some pretty heavy issues, but yet returning to her childhood dreams at the same time,” Peugh said.
The setting of the contemporary narrative is on a mountaintop “somewhere” in the United States, she said, but the house is based on her grandparents’ house.
In fact, the idea for “Michaela’s Gift” goes back to Peugh’s childhood visits with her grandparents and their dog, a Newfoundland named Blackie.
“I was always fascinated with Blackie, but Mother was terrified of her, so we were never allowed to play with her when we visited,” said Peugh, who eventually befriended Blackie.
“I decided to make a story of the dog and the girl wanting to make friends, and the mother has a problem with that,” said Peugh, who writes under the pseudonym of Cordelia Dinsmore.
She said both her maiden and married names were taken by other writers in the family, her brother and a sister-in-law.
“So I looked for something different,” Peugh said.
She chose the name because of her love for children’s books written by Elsie Dinsmore in the 1800s, adding, “I’ve always loved the name Cordelia.”
The publisher of “Michaela’s Gift” is Musa Publishing, based in Ohio.
“They’re brand new,” she said about the company, which opened in October. “I signed on with them, I think, in November, and they’re strictly e-publishers at this time.”
Peugh said Musa started after another e-publisher went under so those writers could have an outlet for their books.
Musa has about 10 imprints that include young adult, romance, mystery/suspense, historical and paranormal, all of which are named after the Muses—Greek goddesses of the arts and sciences.
Peugh said Musa does all of the editing for its authors as well as the artwork.
Illustrated by Musa artist Kelley Shorten, the cover for “Michaela’s Gift” depicts the castle that is part of the story as well as Blackie, the dog.
“I didn’t want Michaela on the cover because I want the reader to envision her,” Peugh said.
Peugh said she chose not to use print-on-demand or vanity publishers, where authors pay to have their books published and don’t go through an approval or editorial process.
Musa is a royalty-paying publisher that sends monthly statements for books sold.
“The commission they pay is great, I think,” she said. “It’s more than I would get from a physical book. Even with an agent and a publisher, you don’t get much.
“With a picture book, you maybe get 10 percent, but then you have to split that with the illustrator.”
According to its website, Musa pays authors 50 percent of their e-book cover price sold on its website. For e-books sold on third-party sites such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, authors earn 50 percent of net sales.
But when it comes to marketing, that’s the task of the author.
Musa provides some support by sending books to review sites and giving suggestions for ways to advance one’s works, she said.
An avid reader, Peugh and her peers promote each other’s work using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and AuthorsDen, an online community of writers.
Another valuable promotion tool is her blog, “Cordelia Dinsmore – Writer.”
“I talk about my book, but I also do reviews about other books I’ve read and about the writing process,” Peugh said.
Her blog is available at http://cordeliadinsmore.blogspot.com/.
Peugh’s immediate family includes husband Dan, daughters Sarah, 24, and Jessica, 33, and son Michael, 11, plus a 3-year-old granddaughter.
“She loves me to read books to her,” Peugh said of her granddaughter.
Prior to this year, Peugh served as a 4-H project leader for dogs in Marion County, but her writing has required more of her time. She has numerous projects under way.
“I’ve completed two other (books),” she said, “They were both upper middle grades, I’d say, although one is pretty long right now. I’m in the middle of a rewrite of that.”
She’s also written several children’s picture books, which she has submitted to a publisher.
“If I get my picture books published, I’ll use my real name,” she said.
Based on her experience, Peugh has some advice for budding writers and unpublished authors.
“Don’t listen to friends and family if you want an honest opinion,” she said. “It’s very scary to put yourself out there for others to critique, but that’s the best gift that someone can give you is to be honest with you about where your strengths and weaknesses are.
“If you seriously want to learn to write you have to read a lot. You can’t go based on what you read 10 years ago or more and expect to know what to do. Be brave enough to break the rules.”