GUEST POST: FROM DRAGONS TO DREAMS

In the lead up to the launch of Serenity Press’s upcoming Writing the Dream anthology (available for pre-order here), I’ll be sharing guest posts from some of the contributors. Thanks to Rebecca Laffar-Smith for this short and sweet post. Rebecca loves bringing the joy of reading to children, exploring magical words of wonder and darkness, and fairy tales of happily ever after romance. As you can imagine, that leaves her torn between her three passions. She writes science fiction and fantasy under the name Rebecca Laffar-Smith, romance under the name Serenity Bly, children’s books under the name Bec J. Smith, and publishes books for children with language and literacy difficulties at Aulexic.

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I never imagined myself a children’s book author, let alone publisher. When I pictured my career I was destined to be sci-fi/fantasy author. I wanted to write books about dragons!

My publishing house, Aulexic, was a happy accident. It started because of my son. You see, my son is both dyslexic and autistic. He struggled in school so when I started homeschooling him we started from the beginning. He learned quickly, but language and literacy was a persistent struggle.

In his early school years, he had come to hate books. The idea of reading sent him into debilitating anxiety and shutdown. My first mission was to work through his emotions and insecurity so I did something pretty radical. I told him he never had to read or write anything, ever.

Our world was so immersed in language I knew there would never be a shortage of opportunity for him to experience literacy. I told him I would read him anything he wanted and write the words he asked me to write. With that freedom, he began to open up. His anxiety eased and he started enjoying what words could give him: understanding, communication, and story.

Although I’d broken the barrier from hating books to loving story he wasn’t really drawn to using words to express his own ideas or creativity. We began the P.I. Penguin series as a way to encourage him to bring together his interest in logical, real world things and the fantastical, “not-real”.

I self-published the first adventure with Amazon’s CreateSpace and printed just one copy. I made it dyslexia-friendly for my son and commissioned professional illustrations. The book looked fantastic. But I only intended to have a copy for us. My son loved it! He hoped other kids would love it too.

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That’s when it dawned on me that the odd assortment of skills I’d developed as a freelance writer, editor, technology expert, and mother of a special needs child made me uniquely qualified to serve a market. We needed books for children with language and literacy difficulties. Why couldn’t we bring P.I. Penguin out to the world? And so, Aulexic was born.

From there, Aulexic has continued to grow. In the past six months that growth has included inviting submissions from other writers and illustrators. It’s exciting because, as a small publisher, I have the power to bring to market books that would never normally see the light of day by traditional routes. Books like our upcoming release, Jenna’s Truth by Nadia L. King.

Nadia had ‘published’ the book to her own blog and Wattpad. She had done a brilliant job of getting feedback and private reviews but there wasn’t much traction for reaching the audience who needed it most, teenagers. The story was in good shape but I could see so much potential.

I knew the connections I’ve been building with Aulexic could help get Jenna’s Truth into schools and libraries around the country. I also knew that the story was one that deserved to be cherished and made special. It needed to look amazing, and be given a huge push into the world with all of its best feet forward: great cover, great product description, wide distribution, intricate interior, and of course Aulexic’s special dyslexia-friendly formatting because teens with language and literacy difficulties are some of the most at risk people. The message in Jenna’s Truth could speak to them in life-changing ways.

It has been an exciting journey and I’ve discovered I LOVE publishing and marketing, perhaps even more than writing. Sometimes, I still steal time to write sci-fi/fantasy. I also continue to write children’s fiction of my own and with the kids, including a YA fantasy with almost-dragons!

Mostly, I love and cherish every moment I’m working on building the publishing house, fostering our titles, bringing new titles to market, and nurturing our readers, authors, illustrators, and team. I’m excited about the future and truly believe the book industry is in a fabulous position to grow and flourish.

Buy Jenna’s Truth here.

Buy P.I. Penguin titles here.