Month: January 2023

Steps 1 & 2 in my publishing journey…Blog #118

Keep walking through those doors!

January 2020, a couple of weeks post knee surgery and I was really bored! There’s only so much Netflix you can watch in between knee physio, hooking up to my handy Aircast Knee Cryo/cuff to reduce the swelling, and waddling  down the condo hallway with my rented walker. My brain already felt like it was turning to mush, and a good dose of lethargy was settling in like an Irish fog. I blame it  partly on my anaesthetic brain (yup, it’s a thing), too much TV, and way too much inactivity due to a post surgical appendage that didn’t feel (or look) like it belonged to me!

Being a woman of action, I decided to engage my creative juices by signing up for an on-line memoir writing course. My friend, Karen Barnstable was the teacher, so I knew it would be both engaging and challenging; however I had no idea how much I would love it. Thus starting my writing journey.

It’s funny, in my mind I really didn’t connect writing with publishing…that’s for really interesting people who have lived extraordinary lives. Not me. 

Writing is a private thing, so choosing what to put to paper (figuratively), can be a hard thing to determine. I remember the fear, the naked feeling I experienced when I hit ‘post’ on my first blog. What had I done! I still feel that exposure every time I post.

Yet here I go, head first into the most vulnerable undertaking of my adult life! 

Following the advice of my writing mentor, Karen, I took the first step…researching publishers. There are quite a few to choose from, but all are not created equal. I soon learned about the many publishing options, but basically whittled it down to three options.

  1. DIY (Nope, I didn’t want that much responsibility!)
  2. Self-publishing (New concept for me)
  3. The traditional approach of handing everything over to a publisher who drives the publishing bus, and the author is along for the ride. (Nope, didn’t want to give up that much control)

Option 2 was the clear choice for me. I now had to figure out which publisher would give options for either publishing packages or provide a la carte options–there were many to choose from. My second step was to reach out to several of them, see who got back to me, arrange to speak with a representative, and weigh out my options. After conversing with three different publishing companies, the decision was quite clear. 

My desire was to work with a publisher who would listen to my wishes, my passion for writing, and what I wanted the reader to take away from what they read. I didn’t want the conversation to initially be based on the ‘business’ of publishing a book…that would come later. I needed to know that my choice would be a partner in publishing, be values based, and have a good reputation in the industry. Some conversations were doomed within the first three minutes, others got crossed off the list as soon as I received the initial overview or ‘sales pitch’.

My final decision was to go with FriesenPress. Why? I liked the answers to questions I asked, the questions they asked, learning about their history, and the fact that they were employee owned. I liked that they honoured their employees and adapted a remote work approach following the pandemic, and I liked that they were Canadian. To be honest, there really wasn’t a great difference in pricing among the publishers I narrowed my choice to, but a big difference in what they stated were their values, and what my research revealed to be their actual values. I already appreciate how I’m being guided through the process and kept informed both by email, and on their authors portal.

So, my manuscript has been uploaded, pictures submitted for inputting, and my official production start date is scheduled for February 5th.

Deep breath…this is happening! Stay tuned!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

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Publish? Me?…Blog #117

Have you ever had something nagging in the back of your mind that is not so strong as to be hushed, but also not so quiet as to be ignored? I think that niggling (or whatever you might call it) has been my constant companion for a few years. Just to be clear, when I use the word niggling, I don’t mean worrisome, more like persistent. 

Monchique, Portugal Dec. 29, 2021

I found this quote in a blog called That Niggling Thought, it gives voice to what I’m endeavouring to say.

Sometimes a thought returns so incessantly it needs to be investigated. Learning to listen and to simply be open to trying is more challenging than we’d like.  

My niggling thought? Should I write a book? Of course, along with the idea has always come an inner dialogue with the potential to fast track me onto a roller coaster of reasoning that only a strategic thinker could conceive.

But, what if I did? What would it be about? Would anyone want to read it? Would anyone pay to read it? What if no one did read it, would it have been a waste of time and money? But…what if I did and it ended up being an encouragement to others? Perhaps even insightful? What if it made them laugh, or cry? What if it provided an enjoyable read as they relaxed on some spectacular beach overlooking the ocean on a warm summer’s day? Ok, that’s maybe going too far. But…what if?

Sometimes you just need to open that unknown door, and do it! That’s exactly where my niggling has led me. 

If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you’ll know that my husband and I spent several months in Portugal and Spain while I was on an extended study leave from teaching HR and Management at Okanagan School of Business in Kelowna, BC, Canada. We expected it to be an adventure, and it was. We expected it to be a learning experience, and it was. We expected it to be amazing, and it was. We didn’t expect it to be filled with many challenges and shall we say, growth opportunities. But it was!

The years of niggling finally provided both the impetus and inspiration to write a memoir, which I did. Having finally submitted it to a publisher, a whole new learning journey begins.

I invite you to share in this journey with me. Hopefully it will be both informational and inspirational. Hopefully you’ll pay attention to whatever is niggling at you and step through that door to adventure and learning. And hopefully you’ll share your experiences of following the niggling.

The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.

Henri Nouwen

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I’m back…Blog #116

*Photograph by Ken Hagen; Kelowna Sunset

Hello all! No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, haven’t gone to live on some deserted island, nor moved to a secluded cabin deep in the woods. I’ve been busy! More about that in a moment.

Christmas is now in the rear view mirror. It was truly lovely. So very different from last year in Portugal…equally lovely, but so different. This Christmas, my husband and I decided to make up for missing out on the many Christmas celebrations and traditions so common to our past experience. The month of December found us exploring our own city, Kelowna, BC, Canada, and the many events it offered. Our hearts were filled while enjoying an uplifting concert by Spectrum, one of our amazing local audition choirs, were touched by the words and music from The Messiah, did the proud grandparent thing as our baby grandson had his first stage appearance as baby Jesus in a church pageants, celebrated local artisans as they displayed their wares at the many Christmas markets all the while walking around with a mug of locally made mulled wine. It was wonderful. 

Then the cold hit! We literally went from -1 C, blue sky with sun shining on Dec 14th to -25 C a week later! Just reminding us we were back home in Canada. You can imagine how many conversations we had that started with, “Remember this time last year when we were walking on the beach in Albufeira?” While it did warm up for a crisp Christmas Day walk, we certainly weren’t running into the ocean for a dip as we did the previous year!

It is amazing how much you don’t know about your hometown unless you intentionally go looking. We have lived in Kelowna since 1987, but have never spent time exploring the downtown area with its unique shops and cafés. So that’s exactly what we did the week before Christmas. We still had a couple of gifts to purchase, so we got in the car and drove the short 5km to explore new territory. It was so much fun. 

We started with coffee (of course) at a café I had been to a couple of years previous, but it was new to my husband. Pulp Fiction is a coffee shop with personality…you must go visit their website and check it out. Honestly, I have no idea why I never returned there! We loved the vibe; the place was full, some folks visiting, others reading, several working on their laptops…the hum of people doing life was delicious.

From there we walked across the street to Olive and Elle, another delightful shop worth checking out for their unique and high quality home decor, adorable baby ‘stuff’, among other lovelies. 

The third shop we visited was down right dangerous…in the very best way possible! Textile Apparel, I had no idea what it was, sells clothes you just want to live in! Natural fabrics, Canadian made, funky but classic…and right on our doorstep! I had no intention of purchasing anything that day, after all, we were suppose to be finishing up our Christmas shopping, but I couldn’t resist.

Have you ever had a garment in mind that you knew you’d love but couldn’t find it anywhere? That’s what happened. A long, wool coat, forest green, my size…how could I resist! I tried it on and it was love at first sight. It is now hanging in my closet, ready for me to adorn every opportunity possible. It was a good day.

We explored and discovered more places that day, but I’ll leave it there for now.

Back to the start of this post and my busyness. This wasn’t necessarily activity based, but more creative. You see, I knew back in 2019 that I wanted to go on an extended study leave for 2021/2022. I also anticipated that it would be an adventure of a lifetime that would both inspire and stretch me. That’s when I started writing a memoir that would capture the journey from inception to completion.

For the past few months I have been focused on completing the manuscript, having it beta read, and finally, submitted to a publisher just yesterday. I’m sure you see what I mean by being creatively busy! This was a huge step for me…scary, exciting, and just unbelievable! It will be published, and I hope and pray it will also sell and be read…but that’s totally out of my control.

It will be a few months before it’s ready to promote and sell, I’ll keep you posted.

For now, I plan on continuing to blog and share my learnings from life and travel.

Hope you’ll keep joining me.

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*Ken Hagen Freelance Photographer and Videographer based out of Kelowna, BC