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