“Don’t be afraid to write a horrible first draft. Just get it down on paper. You can’t edit a blank page.”
by J.O. Parker
Crystal Ferry, a rural Montezuma-based writer, said the music video, Love Story, by pop artist, Taylor Swift, inspired an idea to write a book.
“I took the idea to a writer friend of mine and told her she should write the book,” recalled Ferry. “She said, ‘it’s your idea, you write it.’”
“So, I did,” added Ferry.
“Very, very poorly,” she said of the first draft.
All that experience did was spark a love for writing and today, Ferry, who writes under her own name and the pseudonym name Stella Bixby, just released Whacked on Sept. 15. The book is her fifth novel in the Rylie Cooper Mysteries series and eighth novel overall.
The series follows Rylie Cooper, a park ranger turned sleuth. In the most recent novel, Rylie has decided to keep her nose out of investigation work. And she really tries. But when a woman is attacked and Rylie suspects her nemesis and trainee of committing the crime, she has no choice but to look into things.
Ferry said the Rylie Cooper books are humorous mysteries with a touch of romance.
The other books in the Rylie Cooper series include: Catfished, released May 2, 2018; Suckered, released Nov. 2, 2018; Throttled, released May 2, 2019; and Tampered, released April 14, 2020.
Ferry also has published three books in the Big Mountain Christmas series, which she said are inspirational novels, similar to Hallmark movies.
They include: Love in Reality, released Nov. 15, 2019; The Truth About Lying, released Nov. 22, 2019; and Spirits and Sparkle, released Nov. 29, 2019.
Born and raised in the Colorado Rockies, Ferry said when she was in school students attended classes four days a week and skied free at two local ski areas on the fifth day.
“Because of that, I’ve been skiing since I was five and snowboarding since I was 15,” she said. “It was a wonderful way to grow up.”
When she turned 18, Ferry joined the local fire department and went to college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
“Initially, I majored in mechanical engineering in hopes of becoming an aerospace engineer but ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Metro State University of Denver.”
By the time she had graduated from college, Ferry had two little girls and eventually used her degree to get a job as a park ranger for the City of Aurora, Colo.
Since then, Ferry married an amazing man who introduced her to the beauty of Iowa, adopted her two little girls, and gave her two adorable little boys.
“Though I miss my family in Colorado, we love being part of the Montezuma community and hope to be here a long time,” she said.
When asked where she gets her writing inspiration, Ferry said the ideas for the Rylie Cooper books came from real life events during her days as a park ranger, though most of them are completely hypothetical.
“I mean, I never came across any dead bodies as a park ranger, but I did see two people in a boat when my colleague only saw one so…”
For the Big Mountain Christmas series, Ferry said two of her guilty pleasures are the Bachelor and Bachelorette reality television shows.
“While watching the Bachelorette, I came up with the idea for Love in Reality—the first book in the series,” Ferry said. “The second book--The Truth About Lying—was the second novel I’d ever written and was inspired by a past relationship, however, the book has a much happier ending than my relationship did.”
And Spirits and Sparkle, Ferry went on to say, was inspired by a mother’s struggle to create a perfect Christmas while also embracing the reason for the season.
Ferry opted to self-publish her books.
“Originally, I wanted to go the traditional route, but after consulting a trusted and well-known author friend, I realized I wanted to have more control over what happened with my books,” she said. “And though I am self-published, I do not do everything myself.”
Ferry said many early readers and editors have guided her writing journey. Also, two of her book covers were designed by a professional designer and some she has done herself.
“Self-publishing definitely does not happen in a vacuum,” she said.
When asked why a series, Ferry said from the very beginning she decided to write a series whether that was a trilogy or a longer series, because she said that’s what she likes to read.
“The Big Mountain Christmas series is currently complete with the three books,” noted Ferry. “The Rylie’s series will have a total of seven books with an ending that could leave room for additional books in the future.”
She also has two ebook box sets—one for the first three books in the Rylie Cooper series and one for the three books in the Big Mountain Christmas series. The Big Mountain ebook box set includes three short stories, one for each character: Love in Paradise, The Chance of Destiny, and Spices and Sunshine.
As far as the future, Ferry said she plans on writing until she dies. She hopes to publish more books before that happens and has three ideas cooking on the stove.
The first idea centers around Logan Labrec, a benched sports reporter introduced in Whacked, who is just trying to get her job back.
“Even if that means reporting on less-than-desirable sporting events,” Ferry said. “She’ll be the heroine of her own series.”
Her second idea is more of a cozy mystery (no swearing, little to no blood and gore) but Ferry said she is not quite ready to share the details this early in the process.
“And the last series is also still percolating,” she said. “It’ll be under the Crystal Ferry brand like the Big Mountain Christmas novels and will be about a new group of friends.”
When asked what some of her marketing tips are, Ferry outlined several.
“First and foremost,” she said, “write the next book. Then, write in a series.”
“I didn’t know when I started, but writing in a series is a great way to keep readers engaged in your novels,” said Ferry.
Create a newsletter. A newsletter is something that you control completely. She said writers can build a huge social media presence one day and the next MySpace is a thing of the past.
“I don’t know for sure, but someday Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter could be replaced by other social media platforms,” she said. “If that happens, you’ll still have your newsletter subscribers.”
Engage with your readers. “Reply to their emails and comments on social media, go to events and talk to readers, sign their books, get to know them,” she said. “One of my favorite parts of being a writer is talking to my readers.”
And finally, there are the more obvious ways like paying for ads (I primarily use Facebook and Amazon ads), getting into promotional newsletters (like Bookbub, Bargain Booksy, etc.), and joining promos with sites like bookfunnel.
And lastly, when asked if someone was interested in writing a book and asked her for writing advice, Ferry offered the following guidance.
“Don’t be afraid to write a horrible first draft,” she said. “Just get it down on paper. You can’t edit a blank page.”
“And once you have that first draft, get feedback from people who are not your friends and family,” she added. “Though we yearn to hear how much everyone loves our books (which lots of friend and family will say no matter how bad it is—trust me, I know), what we need is tough love. Constructive criticism will only make your novel better.”
Where to purchase
All of Ferry’s books are on Amazon and her ebooks are free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. She also sells signed paperbacks through her website: www.stellabixby.com or you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Her books are available for checkout at the Montezuma and Brooklyn Public Libraries.