I used the NaNoWriMo.org writing process (National Novel Writing Month*), which encourages new writers to create 50,000 words in 30 days. Using that formula, you write about 1,700 words per day, which for me was the equivalent of a couple of G2G blog posts. I found that I love writing! Plus, all the research that I had conducted over the past 15 years while teaching my public speaking course (to hundreds of students) allowed me to "brain dump" all my knowledge into my laptop by simply using my facilitation workbook as an outline. By the end of the editing process six months later, my book had grown to more than 80,000 words -- much too big for a normal publication. Thus, why I suddenly find myself promoting two books - Giving the Gift of Public Speaking and the first chapter of it, which is now a standalone publication - Presenting Fearlessly! Watch for the third book in this trilogy to come out in 2016 all about motivational and inspirational presentations.
* NOTE: NaNoWriMo is always in November (and now in April and July too) and is primarily for fiction writers. However I used it to write my non-fiction work.
How do you approach cover design?
As my initial plan was to never release my book internationally, or even beyond the scope of my courses, I had a designer on Fiverr.com come up with the first design for the cover of Giving the Gift of Public Speaking. I loved it and the colours and everything, and from that my book had a look that stuck over the past 2.5 years. Though for my first incarnation I used a high resolution image that I found on 123RF.com and created a very simple cover page to use while I was reincarnating my program for the United Way of Winnipeg. My best advice about cover design though is to hire yourself an excellent book design. For Presenting Fearlessly, I used a well known designer in Winnipeg and I highly recommend senjula.com if you want an amazing cover design! She made the design process super easy for me! Kimb also design Speaker One-Sheets and works with professional speakers all over the world. She's very talented and I found her right in my backyard!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book that I was inspired to become a writer from was Gordon Korman's This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall. I was seven years of age, and Gordon was in the 7th grade and a Canadian writer. What an inspiration. I had tried to start writing a fictional book shortly after reading Korman's book, but alas... I wasn't yet ready to create my own masterpiece. I had wanted to write my own textbook for the public speaking course that I taught since around 2000/2001, and it took me about 13 more years to actually start writing the first chapter.
Who are your favorite authors?
Honestly, I am not a committed non-fiction reader. I used to buy a ton of positive mental attitude books and ended up only reading about a third or a half of the way through the book and then I'd put it down (for good). So I stopped buying them. In hindsight, I believe that I found my choices to be dry and not very entertaining. As a result, I hope that the books that I create are much wittier and more enjoyable than all those brain-healthy books that you too may have been encouraged to read in your late teens and 20's. Now, in my 40's, I'm a self-confessed, permanent, beach-book type of reader. I have loved reading romance novels and murder mysteries. One of my most favourite authors is Nora Roberts, but primarily I love how she writes under her pseudonym of J.D. Robb for her In Death series. I also read Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series (A is for Alibi, et al) and I'm going to be SO sad when she ends that run. James Patterson is another favourite author - I loved almost all of his books. And one of my new favourite books that I was unable to put down all night long was On The Beach by Tracey Garvis Graves which is currently being made into a movie. Back when she released Riders, I fell in love with the thick and very descriptive reads created by Jilly Cooper about the equestrian scene in the UK. And, of course, I'm also a huge fan of J.K. Rowling! However, I'm a library reader and I pick up all the latest bestsellers at my local branch as I read voraciously. One year I kept track of all the books I read on my personal Goodreads account and it totalled 80 books - WOW!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
One of the authors who inspired me to write back in 2012, wrote her first book as an eReader only. As I live in Canada, all we could purchase at the time for use up here was the Kobo. So I've been a loyal Kobo reader since early 2013. However, I now read Kindle books on my smartphone when I travel, though I still love my Kobo the best! I have 126 eBooks on my first Kobo device and have logged over 1,000 hours worth of reading time. eReading devices Rock! I find that I read much faster and easier on my Kobo. Plus, it's a bonus to read much more easily in bed, as that has been my night-time ritual since I first started reading in early primary school.
Describe your desk
When I wrote my book I actually sat at my dining room table with my two "muses" on a cushion beside my feet. They loved that I would sit still for hours each morning to write my book. I even knit Toby & Mitzie (my elderly Maltese dogs) special scarves so that they could stay warm in our draft-filled dining room space in Winnipeg, Canada. I loved that there was no clutter on the table and nothing to distract me from my purpose of fulfilling my 30-day plan to finish my book. I would have my favourite coaster, a mug of Earl Grey tea, a 1L Sigg bottle of water, pen and paper, and my trusty old workbook setup for each morning of writing. My chair consisted of a wooden dining room chair with an extra throw pillow behind me to help me maintain better posture over the hours and hours of typing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After teaching my public speaking course for a large education institution for over four years while using someone else's textbook, I wanted to use my own book, and my own words, to teach my students. Using someone else's material never really suited me. However, as I was thrust into teaching the course without any preparation at the time, I quickly came to develop my own workbook and evaluation strategy from which I facilitated the course. It was important to me that my students have something that they could read to supplement what I was teaching in class, especially if they had to miss one of our classes (my course was six weeks long). I always felt like the textbook didn't fit my teaching style and didn't share enough tips and strategies to help newbie speakers overcome and/or answer the many questions that I witnessed my students struggling with each semester.
What do your fans mean to you?
I simply love to hear from past students and new fans! To have followers comment on and share my social media posts, including those on my blog means so very much to me. As an author and entrepreneur, you sometimes wonder if you are making a difference in anyone's life. As I started teaching in 1999, social media platforms, like Facebook etc. were not an option for keeping close ties with your fans. Plus, developing a website back 15 years ago used to cost an arm and leg -- forget about blogging. Nowadays, it's such a pleasure to hear from those who derive assistance from my writing words. I hope that you will join me on this journey and keep me posted on your successes and wins from the material that I share in my books!
What are you working on next?
Well, as I previously stated, this book originally was just five sections. Section one began Presenting Fearlessly. Sections two to four became Giving the Gift of Public Speaking and section five is already a third of the way written and will be focused on motivational and inspirational type speeches like those seen on the TED Talk stages around the world. I will continue to release shorter eBooks on targeted subjects along the way. My first release like that will be Avoiding Presentation Pitfalls which is a collection of do's and taboo's that were originally going to live as part of Giving the Gift of Public Speaking. After that I will continue to develop additional learning materials focused specifically on vocal variety and body language. Like I said before... I have found that I love writing, and I cannot wait to share more with you. Plus, who knows... perhaps I'll finally be able to write the semi-fictional tale that has been crawling around in my mind for the past 26 years. Stay tuned!
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