SFA professor jumps to top of Barnes and Noble charts with young adult fantasy novel

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - By day, Della Connor is an Associate Professor of Nursing at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. But at night, Connor's imagination runs wild as author D.E.L. Connor.

Recently, the blossoming novelist penned her first young adult novel called "Spirit Warriors," that is now sweeping the best sellers list at Barnes and Noble.

"I just have a big imagination. It takes a big imagination to make up a world where no one has ever lived in before," Connor said.

For years, Connor has been living inside the fictional world of Spirit Warriors, a book that tackles the fantasy world of Native American lore. But it wasn't always an easy journey for the young adult author.

"I had pretty much stopped sending out letters anymore—query letters. I was kind of burned out of sending them out and being rejected and so I thought well, I'm just going to give myself a little time off and regroup and try again," Connor said.

Little did Connor know, her book would surpass other young adult novels at Barnes and Noble. The nursing professor says she had always wanted to write but never really had the time.

"I finished my PhD and found I had all this time and energy that I needed to do something. So, I finished my PhD in April, graduated in May and then decided that I wanted to write a book," Connor said. "I had this little story floating in my mind for several years. I had given it to one of the professors many years ago and he said it's just too dark. It's not going to sell."

But then came the days of Harry Potter and Twilight, spurring the author to try one more time.

"I sat down and wrote the entire book that summer and book one was done. I decided it was going to be five books and knew exactly where I was going. And then I spent two years trying to get someone to publish it for me," Connor said.

That's when a friend of her daughter helped her get in contact with the publishing company BookTrope.

"You know the traditional publishing isn't making as much just putting out books in bookshelves and Barnes and Noble and this is a kind of unconventional type of publishing where they are more online and a team that works with you, which is wonderful," Connor said.

Before she knew it, Connor's book was published and being sold across the country. Connor says the supernatural aspect of her book was always fascinating to her, especially since she grew up in Montana where Native American fantasy runs wild.

"I have a big imagination so in my imagination people are wealthy and poor and struggling and living and dying and they can do things that no one else can do," said Connor.

The book has only been on the bookshelves for two weeks, but it seems the public is loving it. One Amazon reviewer writes "want a book that you can't put down? This is it! I finished reading it and now cannot wait for book 2. The characters get to you and you will want to know what's next for them!"

Another reviewer writes "Ms. Connor has given me a unique and mystical story that plays out like a movie. This adventure blends the past of the long forgotten history of the war between the white man and the Native American Indians; the present with all the emotions and excitement that a group of teenage friends, who can change into animals, bring as they are dealing with life's issues, and the future with the fear of what these friends may face as they become "spirit warriors" meeting the challenging trials of their lives."

Connor says she thinks it's great that readers are able to see her story as a movie; because that is the way she envisioned it.

"It's like a story that just runs through my head all the time. It's like a movie, actually. I don't actually write and put people together. I just write what's in my head and what I see happening. It's like a movie…it just all plays out and I just write it all down," Connor said.

Connor says she doesn't know exactly how many copies she has sold yet, but is surprised by how well her book has done so far.

She will be hosting her first book signing at the Lufkin Starbucks on Saturday, December 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. After that, she will travel across the country and will be back in Nacogdoches on January 30th at the Barnes & Noble from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She will finish the tour in College Station on February 21st at the Texas A&M University Barnes & Noble.

For more information, visit dellaconnor.com and booktrope.com. The book is available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It also available on Kindle and Nook tablets.

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