memoir

Creativity Therapy

photo 3.JPG One of the main reasons I began writing my Grape books was because there were stories I wanted my daughters to know and I didn't know if I would be around to tell them.

Many of you know how the morning after I was diagnosed with PSC I began writing My Grape Escape and didn't finish until I self-published it about nine months later. A simple Google search (FYI: NEVER a good idea with health stuff) will tell you that PSC kills off its victims in a myriad of inventive and heartless ways. Early on, a specialist in Vancouver said to me, "You have to accept that you have a life-threatening disease. You could die of sepsis tomorrow, or be diagnosed with liver or bile duct cancer next week. That is your reality now."

Blunt, to be sure, yet effective.

No doctor, however, could ever tell me exactly how one goes about "accepting" such a reality. Probably because such an existential question of reconciling life and death strikes at the heart of the mystery of our human journey - a mystery that people have been grappling with ever since they made handprints of their own hands on the wall of a cave in Chauvet, France 32,000 years ago.

I wrote feverishly, telling the stories of how I decided to leave behind an Oxford degree and prestigious career legal career path to throw myself into the unknown, how I struggled with panic attacks and anxiety, how it slowly dawned on me that life didn't need to be perfect to be wonderful, how it was wiser to collect les petits bonheurs than to harbour unrealistic expectations of life, how sometimes it was impossible to make yourself happy and to make others happy too...

These were things my three girls needed to know. I had no desire for them to read my books immediately - once they were published my stories would be there when they needed them. That is the magic of art, and writing, and books. They give us a sliver of immortality in a finite world.

However, an unexpected thing happened on the path of telling my stories. It was only when I was about half way through my latest book, My Grape Year, that I realized how creating - in my case writing - was the best course of therapy I had ever embarked upon.

Immediately after I was diagnosed with PSC I called in the cavalry. I set up appointments with acupuncturists, spiritual healers, RMTs, therapists, as well as bought a juicer and eliminated sugar, grains, dairy products, and caffeine from my diet. My whole life became about curing myself from this bizarre, rare, and unpredictable disease.

It didn't work. Not only did eliminating every pleasurable form of sustenance and living off juiced kale started to make death seem like a not entirely unappealing option, but my days were so full of appointments that my battle to stay alive left me no time to actually live.

I am generally a big fan of therapy, but in this case once we had talked for a few sessions about my health situation, the therapist (and there were a few) and me would inevitably end up staring at each other with nothing more to say. The whole PSC situation was certainly not the worst thing in the world, but sucketh, it did. It was one of those types of burdens that cannot be eliminated. It had to be carried, and nobody could tell me how. I had to figure it out for myself.

So blindly, compulsively, I kept writing. I wrote my Grape books out of order. At first this made no sense to me, but one day it finally dawned on me that, on the contrary, it made perfect sense.

My Grape Escape is all about faith, huge life changes, and trying to build a whole-hearted, authentic life even when things are far from perfect. I wrote it during that first year post diagnosis when my life had been turned on its head and I needed to find a new way of living with and in the face of my PSC.

My Grape Village is about the challenges of adapting to a new life with a family - finding community, balancing your needs with those of the people you love the most, finding happiness via les petit bonheur du jour despite the challenges life throws at one's head, and the humbling realization that life never stops providing us lessons, especially at those very moments when we believe we know it all.

My Grape Year was written at a time when my PSC had started to become extremely symptomatic, forcing me to embark on uncharted territory. I was terrified and needed to find courage. I found it in my bold 17 year old self - that girl with her head full of romance and dreams who left Canada and flew almost half way around the world to seek out love and a different way of living. I cannot tell you how many times I woke up during my writing of My Grape Year, either in the hospital or home, paralyzed by visceral terror. My body was slowly, irrevocably getting sicker, I was learning how the transplant system in Canada was both political and ineffective, especially for us PSCers, and my disease was stripping away every part of me that made me me. It was only going back to the manuscript of My Grape Year that made me remember that I was strong and that I was bold and that I had done scary things before and that doing those scary things had transformed my life.

I wept over my keyboard countless times. I laughed over it too. Initially when people asked me why I was writing my Grape Books out of order I would just laugh and say that my mind wasn't linear. This is completely true, but now I look back on the order and it makes perfect sense. The story I wrote always dealt with issues that I needed to work through the most at that time.

Right now I am finishing up edits on My Grape Wedding and I am realizing that this books deals with a time of crisis in my life too, when my panic attacks were probably at their debilitating. Paradoxically, it also deals with one of the most joyful times in my life - the summer when Franck and I got married in Burgundy, France. This rite of passage not only marked a new beginning, but a time when I was surrounded and lifted up by the love and support of friends and family from all over the world.

Could it be a metaphor for my approaching transplant? I certainly hope so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Win a Stay in Burgundy...Sans Blague

IMG_1562.JPG I haven't actually received that many entries into my Noel Grape Giveaway - running a giveaway in December when everyone is so insanely busy with the Holidays probably wasn't that strategic on my part. As most of you know, my marketing "plan" tends to go something like this: me becoming overcome by the spirit of generosity and the need to thank my readers for their amazingness and consequently putting one of our vacation rentals up for grabs. Yep. That's about all the forethought that goes into marketing decisions for me. Ready. Aim. Fire.

But...what does my utter lack of marketing savvy mean for you? It means your chances of winning a free week stay at La Maison des Chaumes are tres, tres bien.

Also, I expanded the rules slightly beyond those written in my first post about the giveaway. You can review any or all of my three grape books, My Grape Year, My Grape Escape, and My Grape Village. For each review you post to BOTH Amazon and Goodreads you earn an entry (one for each, I mean).

So, for someone who has read all of my Grape books, they could potentially earn SIX entries by writing reviews for each book on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Also, if you are outside of the US you can earn additional entries by posting both a review on Amazon.com and then another one on your country's Amazon site (i.e. Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, etc.). It is just a matter of cutting and pasting the review...

All you have to do after that is send me a quick email to laura@laurabradbury.com to let me know where you have posted reviews and I will add your entries in the draw. There is nothing I love more than helping my readers actually experience the magic of Burgundy for themselves.

I'm telling you right now that your chances are GOOD. I mean, sans blague.

Also, a huge merci to everyone who has already posted thoughtful and lovely reviews (although I appreciate ALL reviews, even the two star ones). I am a lucky, lucky writer indeed.

 

A Noel Grape Books Giveaway

1016065_619239081429879_1994614541_n Regardez-donc!

How did we find ourselves in December already?

No matter. December is the month for giving things away and I LOVE giving things away to my readers. I especially love giving them the opportunity to travel to Burgundy and experience for themselves its special magic that I try to convey in my Grape books.

So, my Noel Grape Books Giveaway will have the prize of a free week at La Maison des Chaumes - our home in Villers-la-Faye, Burgundy, France. This three bedroom house with a huge deck and garden is located in the same village where Franck's family live, where he grew up, and where we fell in love, as I write about in My Grape Year.

My Grape Year has hit #1 on the Amazon "France" bestseller list several times since I self-published it in late September. I have all of you to thank for that and I am so grateful to have such an amazing community of Francophiles and book loving people who support my writing.

Without further ado, here are the rules & regs:

  • the week at La Maison des Chaumes can be redeemed whenever, subject only to availability, and can also be gifted to another person if you wish
  • all you need to do to enter is write a review for My Grape Year  on either Amazon.com (or any of its affiliate websites (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, etc.) or Goodreads and then email me at laura@laurabradbury.com to let me know where the review has been posted (I need this because I often can't contact people via their Amazon or Goodreads screen names). If you post on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Goodreads, for example, you'll receive three entries.
  • if you have already written one or more review(s) for My Grape Year just let me know via email as above - that counts too (and MERCI for posting a review so promptly)
  • it doesn't matter if your review is one star or five stars - they all count and I am grateful for them all. The only thing is that you do have to have read the book in order to write a valid review - just common sense and good ethics
  • entries will be accepted until midnight on December 25th and the draw will happen and the winner will be announced the day after Boxing Day (December 27th)

Bonne chance to tout le monde! I hope you all have a merry, sparkling, and joyous December filled with lost of delicious cheese.

 

MY GRAPE YEAR now available in paperback!

PFLm-ST1NPEi1wh-0wz1QUE2_Mg_ukzA0f182x2W12c I was busy getting in some words for the upcoming My Grape Wedding memoir-ette and before logging off the computer I checked Amazon and - le voila! - the MY GRAPE YEAR paperback is now available!

It is three dollars more than my previous books because it is *ahem* rather large (366 pages to be exact) and consequently production and shipping costs are more. However, it should provide you with a long, lovely, escapist, cozy, and romantic read. Just click here to go and check it out on Amazon.com . 

Also, you should be able to share this blog post with the newly-added buttons below. If someone could test drive those for me I would be extremely appreciative!

"Race Me To La Fin" Contest - My Grape Year

IMG_0536 I am deep in the throes of putting the final touches on My Grape Year - my tres romantic prequel to the bestselling My Grape Escape and My Grape Village and the third book in my "Grape" series.

My Grape Year invites readers back to the very beginning of the "Grape" story when I was sent to Burgundy for a year as a 17 year old exchange student. That year I learned French, developed a passion for Burgundy, and met my true love...the latter, much to the consternation of my hosts and in direct breach of the "No Dating" rule.

At the moment, I am juggling beta-reads, formatting, copy-edits, consulting over cover design, etc. etc. and basically just trying to put together the best possible book for my lovely readers.

It is not easy to estimate when I will be done, but it will be soon. My goal was to have My Grape Year published by the end of July, but realistically I think it may be more around the first week in August...however, you never know. Whenever I can hit that "publish" button - trust me - I do not hesitate!

Like I did when I was finishing up My Grape Village , I've decided to throw a little race for all of my readers, largely to motivate me to keep pushing on until My Grape Year is in your hands or on your Kindle, Ipad, etc....

The prize is a 7 day stay at your choice of any of our "Grape Rentals" - our four lovely vacation rentals in Burgundy, France (which has just been designated a UNESCO world heritage site!). This stay can be redeemed at any time, subject to availability and can also be gifted to the person of your choice if you cannot get to Burgundy.

To enter, this time you have a choice of things to do!

For any one of these tasks accomplished, you gain an entry, so if you do three things on this list, you get entered three times...Just click on the links below to be taken to where you need to go:

1. Write an Amazon.com review for My Grape Escape

2. Write an Amazon.com review for My Grape Village

3. Write a Goodreads review for My Grape Escape 

4. Write a Goodreads review for My Grape Village

5. Join my mailing list

6. Like my Facebook Author Page

7. Post a photo of either or both My Grape Escape & My Grape Village on Instagram with the hashtag #amreading

8.  Post a photo of either or both My Grape Escape & My Grape Village on Twitter with the hashtag #amreading

When you have accomplished as many of these tasks as you like, simply email me at laura@laurabradbury.com to let me know which actions you have taken and I will enter you as many times as applicable in the contest.

Don't wait, as it will be over as soon as I hit the "publish" button for My Grape Year! Bonne chance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indie Interview with Moi

My lovely author friend Karen Dyer (writes as KC Dyer - check out her awesome YA fiction) just interviewed me for her "Indie Tuesday" blog segment. Watch for the upcoming self-pubbed release of her novel "Finding Fraser". I have had a sneak peek and it is ADDICTIVE - a must for anyone who loves humour, romance, and Outlander. Read below for my musings on self-publishing, rules for writing, and my visceral resistance to linear thinking! Here's the direct link if you'd like it.

INDIE TUESDAY -- WRITER LAURA BRADBURY

Hola! This week we have an Indie celebrity in our midst, in the form of Laura Bradbury.

Laura's forte is the self-published memoir -- and what a story she has to tell! It is filled with romance, intrigue, anxiety, high comedy and a whole lotta wine. Laura's 'Grape' stories are must-reads, and the reading community is getting the message. She's continually posting huge sales, as more people discover her warm, whimsical story-telling style.

Laura's also extremely generous with her hard-won knowledge and has really been helping me in my efforts to get FINDING FRASER out into the world. Let's hear a bit about her experiences, shall we? She's got a lot to share, so I suggest you get a cup of tea -- or a glass of wine! -- and enjoy!

KC: Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser when it comes to writing your books?

Laura: I am definitely more of a panster. I believe planning a book is easier with memoir than with fiction. Each of my “Grape” books covers approximately one year of our lives when we were buying and renovating a specific property in France so there is a very clear cut beginning and end point each time. Initially, I make a rough Excel spreadsheet  of bare-boned scene ideas. Then I write a quick and dirty ESRD (Epically Sh!tty Rough Draft) based on these scenes. The more I write the more my memory is jogged so I add a lot of scenes en route. Then I do a BIG edit where I break the ESRD into chapters and add in new ones I realize are missing (usually about one third of the total scenes). I am lucky that I have a crazy-good long term memory. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, but the taste of blackcurrant in that glass of wine I drank fifteen years ago? I TOTALLY remember every detail. My next project after My Grape Year (the third book in my “ Grape” series) is a paranormal romance trilogy involving mermaids and fishermen. I suspect I will have to dramatically tweak my writing processs and do a more detailed outline for fiction writing. However, the way I learn things is simply by doing them (verus reading about them or having someone teach them to me) and figuring out what works for me through trial and error. I know outlining will be something I will have to force myself to do though, as I am highly resistant to organization!

KC: How did you choose your titles? 

Laura: The Grape Series all have “Grape" in the title I.e. My Grape Year, My Grape Escape, My Grape Village. The Grape is the emblem of all of our vacation rentals in Burgundy (which we call Grape Rentals www.graperentals.com). It is natural, authentic, honest, tied to the earth, and something humble that has the potential to be transformed into something sublime (wine). I liked the play on words with Grape / Great and also having “ My Grape…" repeated in my titles is a hommage to the wonderful “Little House” series that was my first exposure to memoir and one of the first series I fell for as a child. I love this quote which struck me so forcibly when my mother first read my sister and I the “The Little House in The Big Woods” when I was around seven:

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, “This is now.”

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.  

This to me sums up the magic quality of memoir – when my mother read us that book I was Laura Ingalls. Books allow you to live so many additional lives.

KC: Do you have a favourite genre to read -- or write -- in? What draws you in that direction?

Laura: My “comfort” genre is probably Regency Romance at the moment. I love Georgette Heyer and Jo Beverly in particular. I avoid reading memoir when I am writing memoir as I always worry about absorbing someone else’s voice. As an English Literature undergrad I went through years of being incredibly snobby about my reading –  I would only deign to read highbrow literary fiction that was shortlisted for the Booker, Orange, or the Giller. However, by my fourth year of my BA I actually stopped reading altogether. I just couldn’t handle one more obliquely drawn character that I couldn’t invest in emotionally (no matter how beautiful the language) or one more story about the holocaust or incest. Highbrow literature at that period was overwhelmingly depressing. I didn’t start reading again until my sister Suzanne insisted I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I was so hooked that I am embarrassed to say I actually read Outlander and Dragonfly In Amber at stoplights on the way to taking my kids to preschool (NOT ADVISED). I still believe Diana’s books should come with some sort of FDA addiction warning like on cigarette packages. Thanks to Outlander, it finally hit me that what made me fall in love with books and reading in the first place was the craft of storytelling. I wanted to be transported to another place and often another time. I wanted to be invested in the lives of the characters. I wanted escape. I wanted emotion. I wanted imagination.

KC: This book is part of a series -- where do you plan to go next?

Laura: The “Grape” series will have six books in total (in order, the bold ones have already been published): My Grape Year, My Grape Paris, My Grape Escape, My Grape Village, My Grape Town, and My Grape Baby, plus a few of what I think of as “Memoir-ettes” (novella length memoirs): My Grape Wedding, My Grape Cellar (not akin to Twenty Shades of Grey, but rather about the 13th century wine cellar we renovated under the streets of Beaune), etc.. As you can see I do not write them in order. Whichever story is yelling at me the loudest is the one that gets written next.  See above re: my visceral resistance to linear thinking.

My paranormal romance trilogy is definitely a trilogy and the first book is about 85% written, although it needs a serious overhaul. I will probably finish the first book in this series once I finish My Grape Year, although it will really depend on which story is shouting the loudest at me then! I have to say I am intimidated to turn from memoir to fiction, as I know it will be a steep learning curve. That terrifies me and thrills me in equal measure.

KC: Why Indie publishing instead of the traditional route?

Laura: I actually wrote a blog about exactly this topic and here is the list of reasons why self-publishing was the right choice for me:

  1. I am incurably impatient
  2. I like being my own boss and want to choose my collaborators
  3. I had several ideas re: how to launch / market my first book
  4. I actually enjoy marketing / social media
  5. I had a web presence already built up thanks to graperentals.com
  6. Aspects of my books (i.e. my struggles with panic attacks / anxiety) didn’t “fit” with mainstream publishing. Several agents were interested in taking on My Grape Escape but they all wanted me to remove any mention of my mental health struggles. I felt my story would be inauthentic without this honesty, and I also felt removing them would be a betrayal of myself and anyone out there who also lives with any mental health issue. I wanted to show how it is not necessary to eliminate or “cure” life’s many challenges in order to live a rich, incredible existence.
  7. I wasn’t prolific when I began, but definitely writing more and faster was a goal. I felt I had far more than one book in me - self–publishing doesn’t work as well for people who only want to publish one or two books – although like everything, there are exceptions.
  8. I am happiest when working on projects from beginning to end. I’m definitely a “project person”
  9. I have ongoing health issues (a rare auto-immune disease of the liver and bile ducts known as PSC which means I will need a liver transplant sooner rather than later) that meant I did not want / need stress of having to meet other people’s deadlines and expectations.
  10. I have an allergy to authority in any form
  11. I wanted to donate 10% of all my after-tax writing-related earnings to PSC Partners for researching PSC.

KC: What's your favourite part of the publishing process? Why?

Laura: Writing a book is a hell of a slog. Still, there is something epic in the feat of writing a book that appeals to me - a bit like climbing Everest or rowing across the Pacific. Most days I write because I force myself, but there are moments when my imagination takes flight or I come up with an evocative turn of phrase or the perfect tempo of dialogue and I feel as though I have been plugged into a force way bigger and more awe–inspiring than myself. I call this "communing with The Great Mysterious". These moments are generally fleeting, and I can also experience them when by the ocean, eating a particularly scrumptious cheese, spending time with my family, meditating, or doing other creative work – painting, making beach glass mobiles, etc. but I get them fairly regularly when writing and they always leave me with a sensation of grace and oneness with the universe.  Who doesn’t need more of that?

Also when the box of paperbacks arrive for of latest book…holy moses is that ever satisfying! Worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears!

KC: Do you have a preferred format for your books? E-book vs paperback?

Laura: It is ironic that probably around 90% of my writing revenue comes from Ebooks (mainly Kindle) but I actually cannot stand reading books on any sort of screen. I am a diehard lover of paperbacks. For me, the tactile experience of reading  an actual book - paperback or hardcover - is like a sacred ritual. Besides, I already spend a lot of time in front of the screen writing and doing my social media stuff.  However, I have many girlfriends who are complete converts to ebooks and are permanently attached to their Ipad Kindle app or their Kindle. For them, the ebook thing actually has them reading way more.  It’s a personal preference and I keep my mind open. I love my Kindle readers.

KC: What's your favourite review one of your stories has received? [Share it, if you like!]

Laura: Here is a nice one that was posted just a few days ago on Amazon.com for My Grape Escape: "As an avid reader of mainly non fiction I was thrilled to find this author. As the book started I thought ho hum - yet another story about France, renovating the dilapidated house, etc...... However, after a few pages I was hooked. I agonized and laughed with the author till the end. Found her to be refreshingly open about her state of mind. Has a unique gift of describing situations and people. Immediately got the follow up book.

I especially love the ones where people tell me how my honesty about my struggles with anxiety disorder made them feel less alone with their own struggles in life – mental or otherwise. These always strike a chord with me and make me so glad I decided to stay true to myself, keep my book honest, and self-publish.

KC: Can you name a favourite Indy author or two, and recommend a book?

Well, I am VERY excited about KC Dyer’s upcoming “Finding Fraser”! I cannot wait to get my hands on the paperback of that. Martin Crosbie does lovely memoirs and his blogs about self-publishing are always so generous and helpful. I also love pretty much everything Chuck Wendig writes and he is a stellar advocate for writers everywhere. There are so many talented, insightful Indie authors out there…

KC: And to finish, can you give your best advice to someone starting out?

Laura: I would say the #1 piece of advice would be – FINISH! I kept writing and rewriting the first book in my paranormal romance trilogy for about a decade but could never finish. Then came the day I was diagnosed at age 39 with PSC and all of a sudden I was living with a rare, serious, and possibly terminal illness. My life completely changed in that instant. I started writing My Grape Escape the next morning and vowed to finish. I learned more in finishing and publishing My Grape Escape than I did in ten years of almost finishing my other writing projects. Resist the siren’s call of other projects until you finish your current one. It is as difficult as Odysseus and the Sirens at times, but put cotton balls in your ears, a huge sign beside your keyboard…whatever it takes - FINISH. My word-warrior motto is Write. Finish. Share. Repeat.  Here is a printable of that if you need a reminder http://laurabradbury.com/2015/01/28/the-word-warrior-mantra/  .

Also, I try to give myself a word count goal every day whether writing or editing. Usually it is 2000 words. There are many days where I don’t hit it – days when I am hospitalized because of my PSC, days when my three kids have caught contagious diarrhea, days when it is sunny outside and I simply must go beachcombing…life happens, but having a goal is something to shoot for.

 

Holy crow. Didn't I tell you Laura was great? Forget a font -- she is a RESEVOIR of great information...and inspiration, too.
Thank you, Laura, for taking part and for sharing your story so candidly. If you'd like to jump on the Bradbury Grape Bandwagon -- and who doesn't? -- you can find her books HERE.
Ready -- set -- GRAPE!
More soon...
~kc

 

Hand-Out from Self-Publishing Workshop - SIWC 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 10.45.53 AM If you are anything like me, you LOVE handouts. Here is the one I prepared and handed out at my workshop entitled "Could self-publishing be the perfect solution for you?" at SIWC 2014. If it can help you in any way, I am thrilled.

***

Let me preface my talk with explaining my stand on self-publishing. I do not believe that there needs to be such a conflict between the self-publishing and the traditional publishing communities, nor do I feel as though the division between the two needs to be as stark as it is so often depicted. Often, engaging in gratuitous conflict is just another form of procrastination.

I firmly believe that for some books and some writers traditional publishing is the right fit. For other books and other writers, self-publishing is the better solution. More and more I think that a hybridized version of publishing is going to start to occupy that middle ground between traditional and self-publishing, whereby an author may hold their ebook rights but work with an agent or publisher for things like paperback distribution, foreign rights, and film / TV rights.

I think there is room for everyone and I am just grateful that, as a writer, there are so many options now for sharing my work.

***

Reasons why Self-Publishing is the Right Solution for moi (any of these sound familiar?)

  1. I am incurably impatient
  2. I like being my own boss and want to choose my collaborators
  3. Had several ideas re: how to launch / market my first book
  4. Enjoy marketing / social media
  5. Web presence already built up thanks to graperentals.com
  6. Aspects of my books (i.e. my struggles with panic attacks / anxiety) didn’t “fit” with mainstream publishing
  7. Wasn’t prolific when I began, but definitely writing more and faster was a goal (I felt I had far more than one book in me)
  8. Am happiest when working on projects from beginning to end. I’m definitely a “project person”
  9. Ongoing health issues meant I did not want / need stress of having to meet other people’s deadlines and expectations
  10. Lifelong allergy to authority in any form ;)
  11. Wanted to donate 10% of all my writing-related earnings to PSC Partners for researching PSC.

 

What I have learned (“DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT!” is my new motto)

 This being said:

  1. Think strategically about what you are good at and what is a time suck for you. I am terrible at the technical / formatting side of things and it would take me forever (not to mention drive me insane) to try to learn this aspect of self-publishing. For this reason I hire a formatter to format my MSs for Kindle and Createspace. Same goes for graphic design (i.e. covers, etc.). DELEGATE EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO NOT ENJOY AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHICH TAKES PRECIOUS TIME AWAY FROM YOUR WRITING.
  2. If, like most of the human race, you never seem to have enough time, you will have to make strategic decisions about how to spend it. For example, I made a conscious decision than instead of making a push to get my first paperback book (MY GRAPE ESCAPE) distributed and in bookstores, I would first finish the second book in the series (MY GRAPE VILLAGE) so when I did turn my attentions to this I would get more bang for my time spent. If your time is limited you will have to make choices and stick to them.
  3. Spend the time and money on an EXCELLENT cover design. It makes a huge difference. There are far too many bad covers out there on self-published books. Like kitchens in home renovations, a great cover will give you powerful bang for your buck.
  4. Spend the time and money on at least 2 essential edits – a thorough content edit and a great final copy-edit. Even with these, errors will slip through!
  5. Find at least 2 people whose judgment you respect as beta-readers.
  6. I have always found the formatting stage just before publishing to be hellish and unbelievably nit-picky. I remind myself “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and that having that completed book in my hand will make it all worth it.
  7. Do not fear bad reviews. In fact, they do you a favour by legitimizing your good reviews (they are also occasionally hilarious). Make peace with the fact that you will never please everyone. Find and cultivate the tribe of people who love your writing. Write for yourself and for them.
  8. Keep writing and keep finishing what you start!
  9. Your writing and self-publishing muscles will grow stronger – guaranteed!

 

 My process is still evolving, but this is roughly what it looks like now.

  1. Exploding with inspiration after SIWC, begin sh!tty rough draft in November for NaNoWriMo. Vomit atrocious writing and ideas in very crude form on Word document. Here quality and structure are ignored and word count is king!
  2. Do first big edit – arrange word barf into rough chapters of more or less equal size, make a note of what scenes / bits are missing and which bits need to be trashed. Go through and make it readable.
  3. Do second edit – here look at story structure and storytelling technique. Pay close attention to language. Trash any useless words (adverbs!) and tighten things up.
  4. Send to content editor. Get moving on cover design NOW.
  5. Get content edit back. Incorporate edits.
  6. Send edited MS to at least 2 carefully selected beta readers.
  7. Get beta readers comments back. Incorporate.
  8. Send MS off for copy-edit.
  9. Incorporate copy edits.
  10. Send edited MS to formatter.
  11. Make sure graphic designer has uploaded / sent graphic materials ready to be uploaded.
  12. When all of this is ready, hit the “Publish” button (this is REALLY fun)
  13. Ta Da! You have a published book!

 

Resources:

SIWC! - Network with people here. I found my graphic designer, social media guru, and content editor here. Talk to people. You will find that many writers offer up excellent quality side services.

Elance.com - Great for having people bid for any of the techie stuff you need to get done. Super useful site.

Indies Unlimited - Wonderful articles on self-publishing and a unifying force in the self-pub world

Martin Crosbie - Local White Rock self-pub success. Martin always posts extremely useful articles for self-published authors, especially issues that affect Canadians (can we say withholding taxes?). Read his “How I sold 30,000 ebooks on Kindle”.

www.seancranbury.com - Sean Cranbury is a social media guru, especially helpful to self-pub authors.

Formatting - My formatters are Paul and Tammy Lechner of Kindilize and they are wonderful. To contact them for a quote email palechner@gmail.com

Graphic Design - The amazing Rebecca Sky did my covers and is crazily talented. She is also a successful self-pub writer in her own right. To get a quote from her, email AuthorRebeccaSky@gmail.com

My Grape Village Paperback now available!

cover_my-grape-village Mes amis! I promised I would let everyone know when My Grape Village was released in paperback and c'est fait!  My advice is to order it directly off Amazon.com which provides the quickest delivery by a long shot. Just click here to order.

Also, our contest winner will be drawn and announced on Monday, so stay tuned...

Grape Titles!

I have had a lot of people ask me why the books in my Grape Series have similar titles. They do indeed: My Grape Year (currently writing)

My Grape Paris (to be written)

My Grape Escape (published)

My Grape Village (published)

My Grape Town (to be written)

My Grape Baby (to be written)

Interspersed between these will be a scattering of smaller memoirs (memoirellas?) such as My Grape Wedding, My Grape Cellar, My Grape Summer, etc.

For our French life, "grape" has always been highly emblematic. Our network of vacation rentals is called "Grape Rentals". I liked the play on the word "great" plus in my mind a grape evokes so many things that are profoundly Burgundian - the earth, tradition, the rhythm of the seasons, the combination of man and nature to create something truly sublime...

These titles came to me right away, whereas the title for my paranormal romance continues to elude me. The working title is "Silver Fish", pulled from the poem by early Canadian poet Isabella Valency Crawford that inspired my epic story idea over a decade ago.

The line goes "Love is like a silver fish, shy of line and shy of gaffing."

Unfortunately, I was informed very quickly by my fellow writers (who are, thank god, blunt when they need to be) that "silverfish" were also pestilential insects that called for reliable fumigaters. Not really an association I wanted for a paranormal romance. So....back to the drawing board, except that I'm still waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration. If you have any ideas, please help me!

Anyway, back to The Grape Series. I realized after I had already decided on the "Grape" titles that one of the reasons having the almost-identical title repeated again and again was that it reminded me of my first love in the world of memoir writing:

little_house_on_the_prairie

Who else is with me on this one?

At Thanksgiving dinner this weekend when my sisters and I were gushing over the "Little House" series my brother-in-law Mark said, "Christ! I frickin' hated those goddamned books." Maybe there is a gender split here, but in any case I LOVED them. Also, I have never forgotten this section near the end of Little House in the Big Woods that struck me as a six-year-old when my mom read Suzanne and I the whole series one winter, and stays with me still. To me, it embodies the magic of memoir:

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"

"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, "This is now."

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.