The story that every princess needs a prince to rescue her is old news. Romance author Courtney Giardina decided that she wanted to write about a strong, empowering female character, but she found herself afraid to step into full-time writing at first. Here's how she finally took that leap and wrote her own path.
Name: Courtney Giardina
Instagram Handle: @courtneygwrites
Location: Nashville, TN
Occupation: Romance Author
Secretly Obsessed With: Iced Lattes and Netflix
On My Nightstand: Photo of my boyfriend and I, notebook and water bottle
Last Thing You Read: "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein
How did you get started on your career path?: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. It was always a goal of mine to write a book, but there never seemed to be time. I was going through a rough divorce when I decided to pick up writing again. It seemed to be the only thing that took my mind off of it. That writing turned into my first novel, "Tear Stained Beaches." After its release, I received messages from readers thanking me for writing a fictional story out of the norm. One that focused on a strong female lead that empowers. I decided that type of character would be the basis of my novels going forward, in hopes of continuing to inspire strong women.
What key elements played into your success?: Willpower and coffee are at the top of that list. Having a full-time job meant that book writing had to come late at night. There were many nights I wrote until the sun came up. There were nights I said no to events or going out with friends because I had a self-imposed deadline I needed to meet. Continuous learning and research follow. In order to improve writing skills and storytelling, you have to continue to read and write outside of your current project. As an independent author, marketing and publicity fall on your shoulders, and you have to understand how to stand out from the crowd and the current trends.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?: It was ingrained in me at an early age that the right career path was going to college, getting a degree and getting a job. It was all about stability. So, that's what I did. I was always afraid to take the leap into the unknown and try my hand at a career in writing. Then, I was laid off from a "stable" job and decided that maybe it was the right time to jump in with both feet. Self-publishing books is a very saturated industry, but success is not impossible. You just have to get a little bit creative. It's a lot of trial and error until you find something that works.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?: I read "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin in one day. I think it was 3 a.m. when I finally came to the end. I was so captivated that I couldn't put it down and I remember thinking how I wanted to write a book that pulled someone in so much that they forgot about real life for awhile. Sometimes that's what books are for, an escape from reality when you need it most. Also, my mom always tells me how she admires my bravery and independence. She loves the fact that I can get on an airplane and travel by myself, or set my mind to something and go for it. It's her belief in me that makes me want to continue this path even when I hit roadblocks.
When do you feel most successful?: When I get a message from someone who has read my blog or one of my novels and thanks me for my words because they can relate. Inspiring people to dream big or take risks through my own words is such a satisfying feeling.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?: I had a meeting with the VP of a record label here in Nashville and she told me that the only way I was going to get to where I wanted to be was to not be afraid to take risks. She said that those risks weren't always going to be glamorous, but that the doors they could open and the opportunities that could come knocking would be worth it.
What advice would you give to women looking to enter your industry/space?: Be honest in your writing. Tell a story that you can feel in your heart and don't stop until it's finished. Even if you have the greatest story ever written, these days it isn't going to sell itself. Be prepared to put a bit of time, money, and energy into your promotional plan. The last piece of advice I have is to never stop writing. Always be in pursuit of your novel.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? : With every book I publish, I always take a minute to fan out out the pages. It's hard to believe that those are all my words in between the covers of them. The fact that I can physically hold in my hand something I've always dreamed of doing (times three) still blows my mind.