My  “Jo Ann Plante Chat” – Inspiration for #indie #authors

 

Everyone Evelon Cover

 

It amazes me when a reader of mine tells me I have helped make a difference in his or her life. It makes me happy and gives me warm fuzzies inside.

When I got an email one day from this lovely lady, I was floored. She published her book before I did! (Although I was a bit envious, I’m super-thrilled for her!)

How did she get published so fast?

I asked her this, plus a few other questions. We decided to put our conversation together into a blog post, to give her some exposure for her book – even though I have not read it yet – and to share our personal successes with you.

Chances are, if you have been following my posts for a while, you’ll recognize her name and her face.

Yes, it’s Ms. Write4Yu2 herself : Jo Ann Plante!

She is the proud indie author of Everyone Evelon, an e-book published in May 2014. (YAY, Jo Ann!)

Jo Ann has been a reader and a follower of my blog practically from Day 1 and has guest posted before (her true story of her health problems with Lupus). She’s been wanting to publish a book for a while, and claims that I have been a huge help to her, offering her the inspiration she needed to complete it! (She makes me blush.) 🙂

Her book is a work of fiction with a sub-category of Christian and romance.

Let’s dive in!

My “Jo Ann Plante Chat”

Tell me something about your background and how you came to be a writer.

I’ve always liked to write. I live in Rhode Island and my Dad used to work in Connecticut. He got up very early and came home later than most Dads, so I didn’t get to see him much during the week. I used to write little notes or poems and put them in his lunch box, so he could read them during his break.

My Mom had her second heart attack when I was 9 years old. There was a lot of responsibility put on me and by the time I was 12, frankly, I was getting hard to handle. It was suggested that I go away to boarding school for a few years to get back to being a young girl. I had matured very quickly. The boarding school was run by the nuns and was very strict and quite honestly, it was the best thing for me at that time. I used to write home every weekend so I got a lot of practice writing letters.

I went to college and majored in French and German, so there were a lot of grammar and writing classes. Believe it or not, this reinforced my English grammar and made me a better writer. The summer of my junior year I decided to take a Short Story course at the local community college. I thought it would be an easy course to take. It was, but the catch was, for our final exam, we had to write a short story.

For the first few weeks, I couldn’t think of what to write about, and then, while I was sitting under a huge tree in my yard, I decided to write a story through the eyes of that tree. I got an A+ and was told to pursue a career in writing. I should have taken the professor’s advice.

Instead I went on to work as an administrative assistant, but I took advantage of every opportunity to write. I wrote training manuals, product descriptions, and customer correspondence.

While working at the local hospital, I was asked to write an essay about how the hospital was a great place for women to work. I wrote the essay and the hospital won the Spotlight Award from the Rhode Island Commission on Women.

In my next job, I worked for an internet gaming company. They created gambling websites for European countries. My job was to write “test scripts” and test the components of the website. In other words, all day every day, I had to keep playing the game to make sure that everything worked and I had to document not only the player components, but the behind-the-scenes activity of the game. Here I learned to do some technical writing.

Finally, in 2005, I decided to try a writing career, so I took a course in freelance writing. I became certified and then started writing a few articles for my local newspaper. I continued to write for anyone every chance I had.

In 2009, I joined the International Association of Administrative Professionals – Providence Chapter  and wrote press releases and articles about the events and activities of the chapter. These articles were also published on the IAAP website and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce website.

During this time I worked as a temp. Sometimes temps are not included with the permanent employees, so I spent many lunch hours with a notebook and pen in hand. It is here that I created Everyone Evelon, a story about 2 people falling in love, the choices they make, their wishes and dreams, and how they actually achieved what they wanted. It came to them in another way.

Because I lack self-confidence, I just put the notebook aside for a few years. Finally, I decided to try and get my novel published. I couldn’t find a literary agent that wanted to work with me, so I took matters into my own hands.

I have to stop here and say that reading your posts and newsletters actually got me to the point where I said to myself, “You know, I can do this.”

I had been writing a blog for my virtual assistant business and I enjoyed writing about different ideas and getting feedback from my readers. I wanted that same feeling as a true author, so I started a second blog post and website for my author work.

 what  the jo ann plante website looks like

Wow. You sure have done a lot, Jo Ann! Thanks for your kind words, too. 🙂

Next question: What prompted you to write this kind of story?

This story contains snippets from my own life and from others around me that have inspired me. Some of it’s just plain creative work and I’m not going to tell you which parts are which. Aside from the creative aspect of writing, I pulled ideas from people I’ve met that have impressed me and I used names I heard or saw that intrigued me.

I try to be as real as possible with my characters, because life is real. There’s a time and place for other genres, but most readers want to read about reality and how to get around problems and obstacles. Once I started writing, the ideas just flowed and I just went from one scene to the next.

 

Now, I know you self-published Everyone Evelon, but I’d like to know which service did you choose to publish your e-book, and why?

I started to research various book offers. Print books are great, but I don’t have that kind of money to shell out and where would I put all of them? I checked out e-books. This was affordable and doable, but which company to choose?

Again, research, calling them, asking questions, comparing notes led me to select BookBaby. I’m not saying this is the best, but…it is the best option for me. I had no confidence in myself, so I needed someone to hold my hand.

BookBaby always answered my calls by the third ring and an actual person spoke to me. If I emailed them, I would have an answer by the next morning. They let authors choose which services they want instead of one-plan-fits-all.

  • I chose the Premium Package for $249.00, because I wanted to make money from this e-book and with this package, BookBaby doesn’t take any fees. I charge $1.99 for my e-book.
  • I chose the Basic eBook Cover Design for $149.00. Next time I will make my own. I will have the book cover created from Fiverr or another website.
  • I selected BookBaby to get the ISBN number for me for $19.00.

The total came to $417.00, but they only charged me $407.00.

  • I was nervous about converting my document myself, so they did that for me as well. I gave it to them in .doc form and they converted it to .mobi and then sent it to me to review and approve. 
  • They set up a dashboard, so I can keep track of how many e-books are sold and how much money is coming to me. I have my money direct deposited, so I don’t have to worry about check-cashing fees. 
  • They walked me through the process and I was on my way. They asked me the date I wanted my e-book to go live and they sent me a proof to show me what it will look like on an e-reader. I called several times and they were always happy to talk to me and assure me or advise me on my questions. They really made me calm down and enjoy the process.

It sounds like you’ve had a positive experience with BookBaby. That’s great! Now tell me, what do you want your readers to take away from your e-book?

First of all, let me say that it is classified as Christian fiction, because I mention God. It’s not “Amen, Alleluia” on every page, but it does mention Divine intervention from time to time in the story. I disagree with the genre and category, but that’s where it falls. It is listed as Christian fiction, sub-category – romance. 

I prefer to think of it as just a darn good story. It is life, and problems, and give-and-take in a relationship. It is hopes and dreams, and seeing two sides of a problem. I’ve been criticized for the ending, but I may make a sequel, so I wanted to leave the door open. 

I want to give my readers a good story to show them that they’re not alone. Life is full of problems and issues, and faith in yourself, others, maybe even God, can give you the strength to persevere and finally have your dream fulfilled. This is a feel-good story, so realistic, you think you know these people. The story takes place in Canada, in the province of Quebec, but it could be anywhere in the world.

 

What advice do you have for future authors?

Write something every day. I write a weekly diary where I take every day and say what I did or what happened on that day. I do that to make sure that I write something every day. I email this diary once a week to all my friends and pen friends throughout the world. It’s a great way to keep in touch.

I also have 2 blogs. One is for my virtual assistant business. This comes out once a week and it discusses my services, problem-solving solutions, and other current information in that industry.

I just started a new site – “A Good Read, Indeed!” – which focuses on me as an author and my e-book. In my blog, I discuss certain aspects of the book, like where that town is actually located in Quebec and how I arrived at some of the character names.

Read anything and everything. Reading not only introduces you to new words and phrases, it also helps improve your memory and helps you to read faster, so you can get more done in a day. 

Have Faith, Hope, and Love. Have Faith in yourself that you have a message to bring to readers and you are the only one that can do it your way in your time. Hope that you will be successful. Notice I said “successful” not “famous.” Success is reaching your readers and making a difference in their lives. “Famous” is all about recognition and making money, but not necessarily about giving back to those who’ve supported you. Love yourself enough to want the best for you and that best is your writing. Push yourself. Give yourself “tough love,” but keep on loving yourself, even if you seem to be alone. Your day will come and when it does, all the love and support you gave yourself will make it that much sweeter! 

Always have another story written. If someone asks you what you’ve been doing since your e-book was published, you can start talking about your next book!

 

That’s good advice, Jo Ann. I agree with all of it, too. 🙂  There’s not much of a segue here, but: Who are your favorite authors?

I really don’t have favorites, because I enjoy any story that’s well-written with memorable characters, a page turner, and has a good ending. If I’m forced to name some, they are Cathy Pelletier, Sarah Rayner, and Joanna Trollope.

 

Do you have any regrets about anything?

Yes, that I didn’t take that professor’s advice sooner in life.

 

What are your future plans?


The best thing about being an author is that there is no age limit, so I have several ideas for other novels. I hope to write and publish one a year for as long as I can.

 

 

I wish you much success, Jo Ann, thank you for your complete openness and honesty, and wish you much success! I think I might even have to read your book, too, as soon as my reading schedule opens up again! 😉

Everyone Evelon Cover

 

Places where you can buy Everyone Evelon:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Scribd

Kobo

Your eBook Portal/e-sentral

Before I end, my dear readers, please don’t forget to thank Joanne with a Tweet!

Thank Jo Ann for sharing her experience!

And feel free to ask more questions and share your own self-publishing fears in the comment section!

Self-Publishing is A LOT of WORK! (and I need a hug!)

depressed and confused guy

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that I’m an official, self-published author, I am waffling on my views of self-publishing.

I don’t think it sucks, but I don’t think it’s awesome, either. What I do think is that it’s a lot of work!

Seriously.

All I’ve been doing lately (with the exception of my two-day camping trip last weekend) is working, working, working.

And learning.

What I’ve Been Doing and Learning

In addition to the boatload of things I did already when I first released Risky Issues, I’ve been learning about formatting for CreateSpace. I’ve decided that I want my book to be available as a print edition, too! But because I’m a Canadian author, I have to submit my book to the Library and Archives Canada.

Apparently it’s against the law if I don’t!

They call it Legal Deposit. So if you are a Canadian who is an aspiring author, I’d suggest that you remember this important fact!

I actually ended up writing a whole post about this LAW. Read it on my author site, Laying It Out There.

I’ve been doing a ton of other things too. Read More

“RISKY ISSUES” IS OUT!!! (+ I have a new site!)

 

Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly

Yes, that’s right – my ebook, Risky Issues, is finally out!

I’m jumping with joy over here! (Okay, I’m not, literally, but I AM pretty excited!)

During the past two weeks, I’ve been busy. As it turns out, there is A LOT I hadn’t considered doing, but did.

Let’s back up a moment, shall we?

First things first…

I tried to format my book for Amazon, but ran into problems. Most of you know already that I’m a self-proclaimed non-techie, so this shouldn’t surprise you too much!

But I AM resourceful.

So what I did was this: I went on Facebook and jumped onto a group for indie authors (to which I have belonged for a while) and simply asked for a recommendation to an inexpensive formatter. After several conversations, I ultimately got help from Rich Meyer.

Who the heck is Rich Meyer?

Rich Meyer offers services at a relatively cheap rate and does a great job.

He rambles on his blog, too. 😉 But amongst all the book reviews is a golden post about formatting for free.

So, yeah, Rich is a great guy.

And yes, yes, he’s an author, too. Check out his Amazon author page! It gives you some information about him and also lists the books he’s written.

Uploading Problems

I originally uploaded my ebook to Amazon with the ISBN I was given. (Because I live in Canada, I get ISBNs for free. I just had to apply for it.) But then, I noticed that there was a minor issue when I previewed my ebook. There was no space between two words, but there should’ve been. So I had to correct it and then upload a new file. But then, in the same sentence, a space was deleted again. I know that these issues were caused as a result of the formatting, as my Word document was perfectly edited. So, I uploaded it again, after fixing the problem.

However, because the two files were technically “different,” my ISBN would not be accepted by Amazon. So I emailed the person from CISS (the Canadian ISBN Service), who explained to me that “every time there is a change in format or a change in edition, a new ISBN must be assigned.”

Great. More work. And all because one file contained “thework” and the other, “the work.”

I took a deep breath, and requested a new ISBN. Because I was originally assigned a “block” (a set of sequential ISBNs that are assigned to a publisher or self-publisher), this was easy to obtain.

(FYI, ISBN blocks come in different sizes. They can contain either 10, 100, 1000, 10 000, 100 000 numbers. All ISBNs found in the block start by the publisher prefix and are followed by other numbers to identify a publication and validate the ISBN. A publisher prefix identifies the publisher and the country of the publisher, and my prefix showed that I am a Canadian publisher and that I was assigned a block of 10 ISBNs.)

Because I was changing my ISBN, I decided to add a P. S. to the Special Note From The Author section of my ebook. I added my special poem, which I wrote when I was fifteen. (I would have added it to the table of contents, but I didn’t know how to format it properly!) I then uploaded my new file to Amazon with the new ISBN.

Adding Books to Goodreads

Once all that was complete, I added my book to Goodreads. Again, I had some problems with this. (Big surprise… I am a non-techie, remember?)

I ended up speaking with someone from Goodreads who explained that once books are added to their database, they cannot be removed. Apparently there are strict rules for this, too. So my book is listed twice instead of once. But really, I’m assured, it’s not a big deal. I will know for next time, though, to make sure everything is perfect and to only do it once.

Sigh.Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly

Secondly, the things authors need to do…

Then the real work began. By “real” I mean “time-consuming” and “tedious” but necessary.

What did I do?

What a pain in the butt this all was! But kinda fun, too. 😉 However, I’m grateful they are all done.

I was interviewed, too…

It seems like things happen really fast sometimes. Shortly after Risky Issues went live, my good friend and indie author Melissa Bowersock sent me an email asking me some questions, which she turned into a blog post: Author Interview: Lorraine Reguly on Reaching a Milestone.

I’d recommend reading it if you want to pick up some tips. 😉

Then there was the birth of a new site… free of charge!

During the past year, many people told to me to snatch up a website with my name as the domain. Their urgency was unnecessary, in my opinion, as I’m the only Lorraine Reguly in this world. (Yes, it’s true!)

But now that I’m an officially published author, I figured it was about time to set up an author website.

So I did.

In fact, about 16 days ago, I purchased my domain name. With my hosting plan with Abivia, I’m allowed to have four other websites free of charge!

I also purchased a premium theme, which I had a few problems with, but which I eventually ironed out.

I installed plugins – including a new one I just found out about (and which I also installed on this site, which has worked wonders!) called Anti-Spam. This plugin is free and I highly recommend it!

My new author site is called Lorraine Reguly: Laying It Out There. I even set up a place where people can subscribe to my Author Newsletter!

Commenting on the new site is not yet available

While I was setting up my new site, I disabled the ability for people to leave comments. So far, I have published three posts, all visible from the home page.

The posts are:

They are all very short posts, so I’d encourage you to give them a read.

What’s Next?

Next I have to get my book up on Smashwords. Then I have to begin marketing it.

I’m going to be asking others to help, too, so if you are a blogger and want to help me with this, please let me know via email. You can interview me, simply feature my book on your site, whatever… I’m open to anything, and appreciate all the help I can get. 🙂

And if you want to buy Risky Issues and/or leave me a review of it, you can do that, too!

Regardless of what you choose to do, could you please share this post on your social networks? I’d love it if you did!

Thank you, and see you soon!

 

 

A Sneak Peek: Which Ebook Cover Is the Best?

question marksAs some of you may recall, I started a short story ebook project last year, and worked on it in patches, in between blogging, guest posting, and dealing with my health issues. I also tried to get someone to do the design for free, in exchange for promotion on my blog. Oddly, I ended up with two offers, and asked you to vote on which one I should choose. But…

Bad News

…Now, I have some bad and somewhat sad news. Because so much time has passed, the designer who originally agreed to help me changed her mind. So, I found myself being back at square one. And now I would like your input again. Yep, I’m sighing right along with you.

How I Got More Samples

When I got the news that the artist was not going to help me, I decided to try designing the cover myself. I also decided to use my name on it instead of a pen name, and I changed the title to reflect the content, as part of my reason for deciding to publish the selected stories is to raise awareness about issues of identity, drugs, abuse, death and friendship – but mainly sexual abuse, because I am a rape survivor. Here is what I came up with: risky issues cover I posted this on Facebook, asking for some feedback. One designer, Martha-Gail Moore from Playful Works, created this cover for me, based on the one I created: sample coverI then asked for some feedback on both Facebook and Google+ as to which one was more appealing, and got mixed responses.

I was told that the one I created was nicer, but that the font was easier to read in the second one.

Then one of my Facebook connections, Colleen Conger from Digital Photo Design , asked me if I wanted her to design a cover for me.

After learning of her reasonable rates, I decided to give her a shot, to see what she came up with. I also took all responses and feedback into consideration, and communicated with her what was wanted. Colleen then designed a cover for me, incorporating my little stick figure into it. (FYI, if you are interested in hiring her, her price rates start at $50.) Here is the final version of the cover she created: Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly So now I have to decide on what cover I am going to use. I’ve already paid her for this design, and so it is mine to do with as I see fit. I am considering using one of these three, and so I am now going to ask for feedback once again.

Which cover should I choose?

I’ll show you them all side by side, in different sizes, so you can see what looks better. In order, they are Options 1, 2, and 3.

Here are all three, large sized:

Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly risky issues cover sample cover

Here they are as thumbnails:

Option 1Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly Option 2 risky issues cover   Option 3 sample cover

Vote OR Leave a Comment — PLEASE!

Please tell me in the comments which option looks best, or vote using the poll below.

Your choices are Option 1, Option 2, or Option 3.

THANK-YOU!

[polldaddy poll=”8104738″]

 

By the way, a year ago yesterday, I guest posted for the third time ever, with the post called My Self-Esteem Does Not Define Who I Am . This year, I’m getting ready to release my first self-published book of short stories. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun! I hope by this time next year, I’ll have another book under my belt. 😉 Read More

Memories of Me #bookreview #books

Memories of Me - book cover

Writing about yourself and your memories can be hard, especially if you have endured traumatic events in your life.

I speak from experience when I say this, so I know this to be true. I’ve been raped, I’ve contemplated suicide on numerous occasions, and I nearly died. Fortunately, I’m still here, reaping many benefits of some of the decisions I’ve made, which include making money from writing.

I’ve had a short story included in an anthology, I’ve won a short story contest, and my book of short stories is going to be available soon!

I’m also still working on my two books; my memoirs, and Letters to Julian. Because of this, when I was recently contacted by Laura Hedgecock and asked to write a review of her new book, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your LifeI was intrigued, and I agreed to writing a review of this book in exchange for a free copy of it.

According to Laura Hedgecock:

Memories of Me taps into the passion of connecting with loved ones through memory narratives. It empowers hobbyists to create a legacy of family stories and memory episodes through prompts, in-depth brainstorming exercises, writing samples, and just enough writing tips for writers to take pride in their projects. 

I also agreed to participate in a blog tour. To see the other participants of this blog hop, check out the Memories of Me official tour post, beginning with this spotlight and this review.

Update: This review was given by another person, who, apparently, reviews books on a regular basis.

My Review

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life contains a lot of information, brainstorming and other exercises, and encouraging words to help YOU put into perspective your memories, thoughts and experiences so that YOU can write and catalogue your life stories.

Memories of Me uses Laura’s own experiences to show you how to implement the strategies she sets forth. For example, when writing a Christmas letter, Laura gives you specific things to include in it and then shows you how to incorporate all of them by writing a letter of her own. This practice is demonstrated throughout the book, which allows you to get to know her (and, by extension, her family) better while learning how to enhance your writing.

In this guide, worksheets are interspersed with writing tips and exercises and personal stories are shared. My favourite worksheet was the Brainstorming Lessons Learned worksheet, as it prompted me to think about and recall many things that I thought I had forgotten! This particular worksheet involves completing sentences such as “How I learned _____,” with the blank filled in with a specific action or attribute. Laura’s prompts are simply amazing.

From childhood to animals to school days to grandparents to friendships to relatives to religion to regret to conversations from the past to difficult times, Laura guides you, letting you be the decision-maker as she helps you remember and write. She also assists you with things pertaining to the art of writing, such as finding your voice, preserving your language, editing your words, and expressing yourself using humour.

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is a true treasure chest of goodness you will benefit from and love!

My Personal Recommendation

Obviously, as someone who is writing her own memoirs (as well as a book titled Letters to Julian), I would not recommend Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life unless I found it to be useful.

I do.

I also plan on using some of the exercises and worksheets as I struggle with my book of memoirs (and dealing with some of my own demons)!

Purchasing Information

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books & Things. You can also buy it from The Marketplace. I’ll leave it up to you to find out where you can get it at the lowest price. 😉

A Free Option

For those of you wanting guidance via a free option, I would recommend using Sue Mitchell’s memoir starter kit, which I also have.

 

 

picture of Laura Hedgecock

Laura Hedgecock is a Michigan-based freelance writer who attended the University of South Carolina. She is the mother of two (three if you count the dog!) and is the author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life.

You can connect with Laura via Twitter or Google+, visit her site, Treasure Chest of Memories, and/or read her personal blog, Memories in the Wind.