Entrepreneurial enterprise

E-book is Maryville native’s first step into publishing

Entrepreneurial enterprise

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

At the ripe age of 24, when many are still trying to figure out what to do with their lives, Maryville native Brett Smuckler’s writing career has taken off.

SynergEbooks published Smuckler’s first novel, “Under the Same Sky,” in April as an electronic book. She began working on the novel in May of 2009 and finished at the end of December.

“Under the Same Sky” is a tale of two upper-class childhood friends, Olivia and Emmett, who fall in love but are torn apart by their dreams of what their lives should be. Emmett aspires to reach the top of the social ladder in politics, while Olivia devotes herself to helping underprivileged children in Haiti.

Smuckler said the idea originated from working with children at an inner city school, an experience that gave her a new perspective. She then used stories from her great-grandmother, who lived in Haiti for some time, to paint the picture of living in the impoverished Caribbean country. Smuckler said she really had to do her homework to ensure that the novel’s facts were accurate, researching Haiti’s history, along with the characters’ wealthy hometown of Newburyport, Mass.

However, the author said she had no trouble connecting to the heart of the book, which is, at its core, a love story. “I feel like there’s always that one person, where you’re never quite with them, but you want to be,” explained Smuckler.

Smuckler never really had the intentions of becoming an author. She attended Maryville High School and then enrolled at Rollins College outside of Orlando, Fla. She initially planned to major in elementary education, but then switched to pre-medicine. After she began writing, she saw the potential for her story to become an entire book. Smuckler searched online for publishers.

“I submitted the first three chapters to a few places, and I got a couple rejections,” she said. She then hired an agent because she found no company would consider her work without having an agent.

SynergEbooks contacted Brett after seeing her chapters. “They said they usually didn’t publish works like mine, but once they had finished the first chapter, they couldn’t stop reading,” she said. The company gave Smuckler a short deadline for completing her novel.

“I definitely could have written more if I had been given more time, but I’m happy with it,” the new author said.

Smuckler’s editor made a few minor changes, but overall, the company left the author’s book intact. Because the company produces digital “e-books,” authors have more freedom, explains Smuckler.”

E-books are purchased on the Internet and read on the computer or a book device like the Kindle, Sony Reader or iPad. If “Under the Same Sky” generates enough sales, it may eventually be converted to a printed book. An audio version of the novel is already in the works. Smuckler did her own recording, reading the book in a studio. That job, said Smuckler, is harder than it sounds. “It took two days, and my voice was gone by the time we finished.”

Nevertheless, Smuckler is excited by the work she has put into making her debut novel a success. “With an e-book, there’s a lot of self-promotion,” she said. That includes book festivals and signings, along with getting the word out on the Internet.

Her novel is now available at amazon.com and synregebooks.com and will eventually be on Barnes and Noble’s website. The audio book, which will release shortly, will be available on iTunes and Rhapsody.

In keeping with the setting of the book and as an expression of her desire to give back, Smuckler has pledged half of her first three paychecks to the American Red Cross to go toward the relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake.

In the meantime, Smuckler said she is staying busy and has another book in the works.

“I have the outline in my head for how I want it to go,” she said.

Smuckler’s entrepreneurial spirit also led to a partnership with her sister-in-law in a fashion line called 94 Grunge Couture. Smuckler is involved primarily with the public relations and website designs for the company. In her free time, Smuckler enjoys traveling, cooking, working out, listening to music and reading. She cites “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert as her favorite book. As for her first novel, Smuckler said, “I’m just so excited. I hope people like the book and will take from it what I meant them to.”

As for advice to other aspiring writers, Smuckler said, “Just write something you’re passionate about, and it will form your story. If you’re not passionate about it, no one else will be. And write honestly.”

To contact or learn more about Smuckler, visit her website, brettsmuckler.com, which also includes links to her Facebook, Twitter and her blog.

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