Echo Montgomery Garrett When I was told it was tough to get a literary agent, I secured one on my third cold call. When I was told that an unknown author was unlikely to get a six-figure advance, that’s what I received for my first book, which sold to HarperCollins in a pre-emptive bid. When 25 years into my career as an author and journalist, we got 60+ rejections on “My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change” over a two-year period working with two agents, we self-published. We sold 12,000 copies in the first six months and won six national awards for best young adult nonfiction and best self help and two international awards for best designed book in the world out of 4,000 entries. Shortly thereafter, a third agent sold our book to Random House, making it the first self-published book ever acquired by that publisher.

I learned that you could make a living with words from my songwriter father the late Bob Montgomery who penned “Misty Blue,” “Love’s Made a Fool of You,” “Heartbeat” and “Back in Baby’s Arms,” among many others. Most importantly, he taught me to chase your dreams and ignore the naysayers. Still, without Miss Sharon Tracey, a caring teacher in high school, I probably wouldn’t be a writer today. She took my poems and started entering them in contests. To my amazement, I won.

I’m mission-driven and focus on non-fiction collaborations on topics that will inspire people. I’ve written or contributed to 15 non-fiction books ranging in subject matter from self-help to business biography to travel guides to the Caribbean. My latest book is WARRIOR’S CODE 001, for which I interviewed many military veterans and which includes retired US Army Lt. Col. Mark Green’s 7 Vital Steps to Resiliency. Our goal is to help veterans and their families strengthen resiliency and improve the experience of transitioning to civilian life. WARRIOR’S CODE 001 debuted Labor Day Weekend 2018 and made Amazon e-Book Bestseller in the Self-Help category. I also wrote his memoir with a purpose “STEP OUT, STEP UP: Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Transitions and Military Service,” named by a HarperCollins VP as her Top 10 favorite books on leadership for 2017, in a video that got viewed 265,000 times. I’ve been with major publishers, hybrid-publishers and have successfully self-published. Our books were selected as the November 2018 Book of the Month for Pulpwood Queens, the largest meeting and discussing book club in the world.

“Why Don’t They Just Get a Job? One Couple’s Mission to End Poverty in their Community” won a 2010 silver IPPY award in the Social Issues category. “My Orange Duffel Bag” was the Book Selection for November 2010 for the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, the largest, meeting-and-reading book club in the world with 700+ chapters and 5,000+ members. In 2013, it won the American Society of Journalists & Authors Arlene Eisenberg Writing that Makes a Difference award that is awarded every three years to the book that’s made the biggest difference in society. In 2013 I was also named Georgia Author of the Year in 2013 from Georgia chapter of National League of American Pen Women.

I co-founded the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative based on the principles in the book to do life plan coaching with young people 14-24 experiencing high poverty, homelessness and aging out of foster care. We recently graduated our 1,000 student from our program, which is the youngest nonprofit to ever win Emory University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award.

My stories have been published in more than 100 media outlets including The New York Times, Delta Sky, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Private Clubs, Money, and Success. I love writing stories that inspire greatness and help people dream.