Carmella’s Quest Press Release

 Blind Midlands AuthorShares Stories of Faith, Friendship, and Freshman Year

 

Columbia, SC. –  May 08, 2012. —  For local author and counselor Carmella Broome, this year’s summer plans include continuing to spread the word about her  first book. Carmella’s Quest: Taking on College Sight Unseen, published by Red Letter Press.  The second edition features new cover art and  is now available via print on demand from Amazon. Broome’s memoir chronicles the author’s first year at North Greenville College in upstate South Carolina. Broome describes her experiences navigating the usual social and academic aspects of college life with the added complication of not being able to see.

 

“I’ve been legally blind since birth,” Carmella says. “The book talks about   how, even though I   did some things differently,  I  went after the same things every college freshman wants, like dates and friends and good grades,. I wanted to be treated like a normal person.  I needed to figure out who I was and how I was going to handle blindness as I moved into adulthood and the new challenges that  went with wanting to be more independent.”

 

Carmella started working on Carmella’s Quest in the summer of 1995. “I began working on it right after I finished that first year. I  got back to it when I could,  but for the next ten years, there were a lot of other academic and professional goals that were bigger priorities.” These included earning degrees from Columbia International University and USC, and obtaining  licenses as a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist,  before  being hired by Crossroads Counseling Center in Lexington in 2005.

 

Once her counseling career was on solid footing, Carmella turned her attention back to the book that would eventually become Carmella’s Quest. In early 2007, Carmella heard about a local publishing company called Red Letter Press. “I contacted Bob Lamb, who runs RLP, and shared the manuscript with him. Bob said he’d like to publish my book,” Carmella says. “We began preparing the final draft and celebrated the beginning of 2009 by submitting it to the printer.”

 

Carmella says  there’s nothing like holding  your own book in your hands  after so many years of work. “I couldn’t believe it!  I don’t think I let myself believe publication was  really happening until I  touched  the  finished product for the first time and realized it really was a book.”

 

She says that finally getting from manuscript to published book was worth all the years of hard work. “There were a lot of  challenges along the way, but I knew it would happen when the time was right,” she says. “There came a point where I knew I had too much invested to give up  on this book. I wasn’t sure how everything was going to  go, but I really believed that God had begun a good work and would  be faithful to complete it.”

 

Soon after, articles about Carmella and her book were published in USC’s alumni magazine and in the Lexington Chronicle and she was  invited to be the featured author at the SC State Library’s monthly Speaker at the Center event. “Being a successful author is about so much more than writing a book,” Broome explains.  “There are millions of books out there. You have to  publicize and get people interested in reading yours. Its not always easy when you can’t drop everything else and just focus on book promotionbe full-time.  You’ve got to  get out there in person, in print, on line, however you can.”

 

Once Carmella’s Quest was available in print, Carmella wanted to make sure it was also available to other blind readers. During the summer of 2009,  Broome collaborated with the SC State Library’s Talking Book Service (in Columbia) to record Carmella’s Quest in their studios. An article she wrote about this experience  received the Ned E Freeman Award for Excellence in Writing  from the American Council of the Blind in 2011. She was also invited to be the Keynote Speaker and tell her story about recording Carmella’s Quest to  Talking Book Librarians from across the  US at the annual  KLAS conference,  which was held at the SC State Library  in April of 2012.  

 

“Both the print and Talking Book versions of  Carmella’s Quest have lead to so many  opportunities,” Carmella says. “I’m excited about   sharing something I’m proud of with readers who will hopefully appreciate and enjoy it.” Carmella is available for readings, book signings, and to give presentations about writing, blindness,  and other relevant topics. Wherever she goes to promote Carmella’s Quest, her guide dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Maggie, will be by Carmella’s side.  “She’s very cute,” Carmella says, “I’m sure she’ll convince a few people to buy a book.”

Red Letter Press titles are available on Amazon.com, and directly from

Red Letter Press, 6148 Rutledge Hill, Columbia, SC 29209. The publisher can also be contacted by emailing RedLetterPress@gmail.com. RLP’s website is http://sites.google.com/site/redletterpress

 

 

 

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Feedback from Carmella’s Quest Readers

Carmella’s Quest  is a very good story, and I’ve loved reading it! It is especially appealing, in a spiritual sense, as a sort of inspirational, overcoming-a-challenge story. I hope that you will get a lot of exposure for the book. 🙂 -Karen Shaner,  manuscript designer and editor.  Currently Editorial Assistant at O’Reilly & Associates, Boston  MA

 

Your book isn’t about being blind; it’s about being human, and it’s a lovely, affecting story about individual courage and triumph. I liked it especially because the narrator was strongly self-reliant. -Bob Lamb, Publisher, Red Letter Press Columbia SC

 

Broome tells the whole story, warts and all as if she is talking with a new “best friend”… “Carmella’s Quest” is like a diary, rehashing, remembering, rehearsing and retelling of starting a whole new life… It is about lessons, loves and lives that helped the young girl become a young woman… The reader will get a new, first-hand look at how limitations are not limiting to someone willing to keep on keeping on. “Carmella’s Quest” could easily be titled, “Carmella’s Success”. Truly, it is a book worth reading for instruction or inspiration.” -Bill West,  Lexington Chronicle, Lexington SC

 

,,Few of us would be willing to accept what life throws at us sight unseen. However author Carmella Broome does that on a daily basis and has written a delightful book about her experience entering college blind. Literally that is. This book is not just for blind people but anyone who has struggled with
finding the balance between independence and relying on family or friends. It is well written with a light and hopeful tone. Sight unseen is a metaphor for more than  blindness but for accepting who we are and what life has in store for us while making the most of  what we have. -John A Riolo PhD,  Clinical Social Worker and Professor, Insider Podcast Series

 

Hi Carmella, The book was great and I loved it!  It is well written, flows, is genuine, sincere, warm, down to earth and easy to read.  When I started reading it, I didn’t want to stop.  It really kept my attention.  As I was reading, I felt as if I were going through the year with you. As a Christian, communication of your faith and trust in God was especially meaningful.  This could very well be an inspiration to others. The book is certainly relevant to college students and their families today.  It is realistic. It should also spread the word that blindness isn’t a tragedy and help to dispel myths and stereotypes about blindness. Great job! -Mary Ann Rojec, friend and colleague from Michigan. Clinical social worker

 

–         I read your book in 3 sittings… it was so fun getting to “know” you better! There were times when I was laughing out loud! There were times when I was so angry at those who treated you as inferior. You really have a way with words– you captured me! Thanks for sharing your life! I’m sure it will touch so many! -Monica Fields, RN, Columbia SC

 

I read your book during snitches of my spare time this past week! (Putting it down was an exercise in spiritual discipline!) I truly enjoyed it, and I like the way you balanced out portraying your personhood and explaining how blindness impacted your life as a college student. Carmella’s Quest demonstrates that this challenge can be met successfully. For other people with visual impairments, the book is a message of hope and solidarity. For people who have normal sight, the book provides a glimpse into the everyday life of a college freshman who happens to manage life using a few different techniques. It is a page-turner and sure to encourage readers to persevere through their own quests. I hope this is not the last of your personal writings! -Sarah J Blake, MDiv, Minister with the Church of God, Anderson IN

 

Truly, it was a good story. It flowed right along. I like the characters. The story was one that moved along on several levels- blindness was one, but there was relationships between young adults, there was the beginnings of separation between a child and her family. And I liked it. ( -Robert Leslie Newman,  President of the Writers Division of the National Federation  of the Blind and  Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

 

Congratulations on getting this published. You do a nice job of recounting your first year of college. I thought it was a good book and think people can learn a lot from it. It reminded me a little of my college days, although the issues were a bit different, since I am totally blind. One of the things I especially appreciated about the book is the way you deal with the issues of low vision and figuring out when you want to have the “blind” identity and when not. Lots of people don’t deal with this aspect when they write these first-person accounts. I plan to send out an email to the disability services providers listserv mentioning I’ve read the book and folks may find it helpful to get a better understanding of challenges which may be faced by some of their blind or low vision students. This listserv has about two thousand members, I believe. Hopefully, that will help get the word out. I hope you continue to write and congratulations on your first book. -Kathy McGillivray, Director of Disability Services at Hamline University

 

I started reading your book and love it! I am learning more about you and you write beautifully. I am captured by it. Nice work! -Angie Hall, friend and colleague, Counselor at Palmetto Health Baptist, Columbia SC 

 

I read every word of your book – which is beautifully written. (You’re right that it’s an easy and wholesome read – and you have every right to be proud of it.)While my ‘challenge’ in no way compared to you, I did feel ‘different’ in college. I was married, working full-time while taking  12 hours), as well as doing all the things expected of wives in the 50’s. I think the thing that surprised me most about your book was that despite the fact that your limited sight was a significant aspect of your experience, it did not ‘dominate.’ The story was about a young woman’s college experience (with studies, guys, social life, etc.) – who just ‘happened’ to also have a vision problem. Carmella, you did an absolutely wonderful job, and I’m sure many people will enjoy and benefit from this book – as well as from your excellent work as a counselor. -Peggy Vaughan, Nationally Known Author and Speaker

http://www.DearPeggy.com

 

I read your book twice and enjoyed it very much.  Since I have heard your voice on cassette, I feel like I know you already. Your book was very candid about blindness and the situations we face.  Although I attended college from 1967 -72, I had similar situations.   I know you have and will receive other positive comments from other readers both blind and sighted. -Toni Lechowicz, writer for Dialogue Magazine

 

I started reading your book last night, and I could not put it down. If I did not have classes to attend today, I would still be reading it. I downloaded your book from bookshare. I cannot thank you enough for writing your book. I wanted to thank you for writing Carmella’s Quest, because I feel like there is someone else with whom I am able to identify on many levels. You make me feel like its all right to experience the highs and lows of blindness, and to release the emotional responses that come with them. I will be recommending your book to my friends who are blind. -College Student Colby Garrison

 

Dear Carmella, We went to North Greenville together. I just want you to know that your story was so powerful. I read your book soon after it was published, and I am so glad that you are open to sharing your experience with others! I hope you understand that your journey to live life will be inspirational to many people! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the world!!! It has made a difference. -Sarah,  fellow  former student at North Greenville College 

 

You write very eloquently. it is also an easy read with good flow. -Doug Carole,  Christian Youth and Young Adult  Mentor at Gilbert Life Church, Gilbert SC

 

Carmella’s charming book recounts her experiences as an NGC freshman. I would recommend “Carmella’s Quest” both to students with disabilities preparing to attend college, as well as their parents and others interested in supporting them in their college quests.  Her honest recounting of the triumphs and frustrations of her freshman year will support those preparing to take the college plunge. -Peter Altschul, Secretary of the Friends in Art division of the American Council of the Blind

 

I enjoyed the book. I just wanted to let you know that it was good. You should be proud of yourself. –Crystal Boyd, my  only and favorite sister, Aiken SC

 

Hey Hon, Well, I just finished your book. There are so many things to say to you about your abilities at writing and your ability to relay things from mind to paper. I am so proud of you, This pride does not come from the fact that you have written what I believe to be an excellent book. The content is the truly remarkable thing and the content is all you. I love you—Dad. –My favorite and only Dad, Roy Broome, Lincolnton GA