Hi, I’m Melissa Storm—although you may know me better under my other name.
So why not just introduce myself that way then?
Because I don’t want to be known as that person anymore.
I’m sure you think I’m crazy, or that I haven’t thought this through. I’ve worked toward building my brand and catalog under that pen name for the last four years. I started my business, Novel Publicity, and grew it into a success that exceeded my wildest dreams. I published Farsighted and Open Heart, the first two books in a series, which has won multiple awards, sold thousands of copies, and been well-loved by readers of all ages. I published Torn Together, a novel that was deeply personal and has received stellar reviews. I published not one, not two, but nine books in my children’s series, the Bird Brain Books. I’ve also built up a large following across several social media sites, made lasting friendships, formed important network connections… But need I go on?
When I first started writing, I decided to take on a pseudonym, because I didn’t think my real name or identity was worthy. I figured I could slip into this new alias and be more confident, more accomplished, more likeable.
And you know what? I was right.
I still tried to share my natural vulnerability by fictionalizing it and placing those burdens on my characters. Simmi’s self-loathing and terrible body image first belonged to me. Daly’s inability to connect with the world around her in a meaningful way—a page torn from my own life’s story. Alex’s tendency to say the wrong things at the wrong times, Shapri’s incessant babbling about nothing, Laine’s struggle to be good enough to deserve those in her life—all of their failings were first mine.
I expected writing about these things to be cathartic, but I was turning them into plot points rather than truly facing my demons. With each stroke of the key, the snare tightened. These problems seemed destined to belong to me forever.
Recently, a lot in my life has changed, for better and for worse.
- I divorced my first husband in 2012 and met my soul mate that same year. We squeezed our wedding in right before 2012 became 2013.
- I struggled with an extremely complicated pregnancy and nearly lost my life, but gained an amazing, intelligent, beautiful, little daughter.
- I moved on from Novel Publicity, but landed a great job marketing for a large publishing company.
- I had to enter debt consolidation, but learned that there are so many things that are more important than money.
And that’s just a quick summary. All of these changes have had a profound impact on my life.
Finding real love with my husband, Falcon, has shown me that I am worthy, that I don’t need to hide who I am in order to be liked.
Becoming a mother—and one who works outside of the home at that—has changed my interests and priorities when it comes to writing.
Losing almost an entire year of writing due to my pregnancy and the strange things it did to my brain and my energy levels also transformed my abilities and aspirations as an author.
Before. I wrote deeply flawed characters. I liked to mire the reader in depressing plot points and unhappy endings. I killed off characters with aplomb and truly wanted to make others sad.
As my lesser known persona, Darby Davenport, I wrote shallow, explicit romances, and I hate to say, they embarrass me now.
What if Phoenix or one of her friends found my writings? My poor, poor daughter if she were to ever to discover my erotic romances. I also don’t want her to think Mommy hates the world and everyone in it, and that’s kind of what my previous novels might suggest.
Yes, I am turning over a new leaf.
As my writing preferences have changed, so too have my reading preferences. So too have my values overall.
I’m disgusted by my erotic romances, bored with my YA, and sick of writing unhappy, melancholy fiction. I want to write books for women and girls—books that make them feel good, but also mean something. I want my stories to be accessible and relatable for anyone who might find their descriptions interesting.
No more gratuitous sex.
No more foul language.
No more sensationalism.
I’m going to write straight from the heart. I’m going to write stories that will make my daughter proud, that will teach her important things about life, that will give her hope.
Of course, much more went into this decision than what I have written here, and I plan to follow-up in a series of posts, entitled “Why I’m Beginning Again.” This was just the first part. Please come back tomorrow to read about what I’ve done wrong as a writer an how I intend to fix it with my new brand.
Other posts in this series include:
- Embracing the New Me: Why I'm Beginning Again, Part I
- Learning from My Mistakes: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part II
- Learning from My Triumphs: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part III
- Finding Inspiration: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part IV
- Moving Forward: Why I’m Beginning Again, Part V