TOWNSEND -- One local author is hoping to help aspiring writers get a leg up this holiday season.

Townsend native Amy Leigh Strickland, who now lives just outside of Birmingham, Ala., will be at the Townsend Public Library Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. to read excerpts of her work, sign copies of her books and answer questions about writing and self-publishing.

Strickland is writing two young-adult series. The Olympia Heights series draws on Greek mythology to tell the story of a group of teenagers who realize that their powers are the result of being the Greek gods reborn.

The Royer Goldhawk series, which fits in with the steampunk movement, is about a college student who travels across the country to rescue a kidnapped friend.

Between the two series, she has published five novels so far.

But Strickland isn't just an author -- she also self-publishes all of her books through a publishing company she started with her husband's family.

Strickland said that due to the amount of talent in her husband's family, starting a publishing company was relatively simple.

With family members who were skilled in layout, editing and design, they didn't have to higher many outside employees, so startup costs were low, Strickland said.

"We started with the cost to order a few proofs, buy Web space, pay an accountant to make sure we were handling everything properly. It was easier for us because we didn't have to pay people; it was all talent within," she said.


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For those interested in starting to publish their own work, Strickland has some advice.

"You have to be willing to give the book away for free. There's been such a media obsession lately with controlling piracy, but you have to trust bloggers and word of mouth to extend your book," she said.

Strickland also sings the virtues of having a strong cover and interior design for your book, even if that means paying more for a good artist.

"An unprofessional looking book turns people away. We say don't judge a book by its cover, but we do. If you're not willing to invest in the design, it speaks to the quality of the book inside," she said.

Strickland also has some simple advice on writing: just write. Although she said she is personally inspired by mythology, watching science fiction movies and talking to people, she doesn't let a lack of inspiration slow her down.

"I try to force myself to write, even if I don't feel inspired," she said. "One of biggest hang-ups is waiting for inspiration and not just making it happen."

Since moving to Alabama in 2008, Strickland said she's been back to Townsend about once a year. Her talk at the library was scheduled to fall during her visit back home for Christmas, and while in town there is a lot on her to-do list.

"I'm excited to see a whole bunch of friends that I've left behind. I wish I'd see some snow but it's supposed to rain. I'm looking forward to seeing my family, and having lobster on Christmas. I'm excited for some real, non-frozen lobster," she said.

Library Director Stacy Schuttler said she thinks Strickland's appearance will have two major benefits -- giving exposure to a local author, and giving Townsend residents the opportunity to learn from a local success story.

"I think a lot of people would like to write books and they don't know how to get started, they think it's an unrealistic goal. She can show people that you can do it. It's interesting to see a success story. That's good for kids to hear," Schuttler said.

Amy is the daughter of Henry and Gail Albro, of Townsend.

Follow Chelsea Feinstein on Twitter and Tout @CEFeinstein.