Author Archives: Francesca Jackman

Author of the Month

Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs shares of caregiving to mental illness

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In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.

She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.

 

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Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.

“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.

But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.

“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”

While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.

Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.

“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”

Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.

Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.

Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.

“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.

And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.

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Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Derek Rodway

 

me1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

As a Project Manager I oversee the entire production process for our authors and educate them along the way. I manage each book as it flows through the hands of our very talented editors, designers, illustrators, and marketers.

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you? 

The majority of my day is spent communicating with authors through emails or phone calls. I manage anywhere from 50-80 authors at one time, each at a different stage in our publishing process, and each requiring regular updates on the progress of their book. I also regularly participate in meetings to discuss our production process and try and find ways to improve it. Oh, and I always manage to sneak in a foosball game!

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job is definitely the team of talented people that I get to work with. They make coming to work a lot of fun. Beyond that, I love watching the books come to life — Seeing our design team take a plain old word document and transform it into a beautifully designed book is extremely rewarding.

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Tips & Tricks

How To Take Your Book Tour Online

In a digital age, it should come as no surprise that in addition to designing, publishing and marketing their books electronically, authors can also take their book tours to an online interface. Imagine executing a series of tour stops right from the comfort of your own home. Sounds too good to be true right? While for some, the traditional, in-person events and signings work best, others may want to consider adding a blog tour to their marketing plan.

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What is a blog tour?

An online book tour, commonly referred to as a blog tour, is a modernized way to connect with new readers without traveling from city to city. Blog tours usually occur over a two to four-week period where the author is featured on a different relevant blog each day for the duration of the tour.

The features of each stop on the tour can vary, but usually share information about the book and its availability and exclusive information about the author. Similar to having one on one conversations with the authors at events, the blog content is meant to incentivize readers to want to get more from the author, through buying their book.

The main idea behind organizing a book tour, is to capitalize on each blogger’s audience to gain exposure for the book in the early stages of its release. Online tours can be arranged at any time, but work most effectively with new releases. In comparison to in-person tours, where building a strong following and some momentum reinforces the value of holding events, blog tours are meant to help grow an audience for a new book.

Blog tours have been known to work best for genre fiction or YA books because it’s one of the best ways to engage with that audience.

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Guest Post

Romance Writing 101 – Tips from Tellwell Author Victoria Grant

February.  Valentine’s Day.  Romance.  What images do these words conjure up for you?  If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably imagine a scene with two frosty champagne glasses sitting on a table in front of a roaring fire. Maybe a small silver tray of chocolate covered strawberries beside them. And a couple kissing on the bear skin rug in front of that blazing fire while the snow softly falls outside the panoramic window. (“Oh, Pamela, my darling, what did I ever do without you?”)  Ah, can’t you just feel the love?

image-for-back-coverBrutal snowstorm. Freezing cold. Romance author. What images do these phrases conjure up for you? Yeah, if you’re being honest, you haven’t bothered to give the lowly romance author a second thought, have you? Right now, as you read this, some of them are shivering to death wrapped tightly in a ratty old crocheted afghan, drinking a steaming mug of (insert favourite beverage here), huddled over a laptop, cursing the characters they’ve created because they just won’t cooperate. (Stop talking, get in that cab right now and follow her, you idiot!) Well, that’s me, anyway.

My vision of a romance novel, long before I took the plunge into writing one, was pretty much the scenario with the champagne, chocolates and lovers. And as I adore champagne and chocolates, I thought writing one would be such fun!  And what could be easier? All I had to do was create main characters who are forced to be together and hate each other on sight (or another well-loved trope that romance readers never seem to tire of), and then put them into unusual or unexpected situations where they have no choice but to work together. (“I will be yours for eternity, Humphrey, just as soon as we scale this jagged cliff and free dearest Aunt Letitia from the impenetrable fortress.”). They realize during their thrilling adventures that they’ve fallen totally in love with each other, the end. Simple, right?

Not quite. Just for a minute, think about all the major elements the romance author must include. The heroine must be flawed and vulnerable yet plucky and gorgeous and worthy of her hero, who is tenacious and virile, but ready to change his ways to have this amazing woman in his arms (“I shall give up my life as a frozen pea inspector to be with you, Edwina.”).  The story should be either adventurous or exotic or bodice-ripping or crazy fun, and include a considerable quantity of red hot, searing kisses that instantly liquify the main characters. (“Oh, Bernard, I’m all aflutter!”) And as the story unfolds, it has to sparkle with sensitivity, sizzle with steamy love scenes, and be witty and playful in all the right spots. And let’s not forget the must-have happily ever after ending (“As we all knew this would happen back on page three, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the union of Beauregard and Tamsin…”), or at the very least, a happy-for-now ending (“I love you, Gretchen, so I’ll overlook the fact that you just asked me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.”).

As I wrote my first romance novel, I realized there was a whole heck of a lot more to it than just dropping the two main characters into a situation and hoping they’ll do all the work. (“Um, how do we get out of this hot air balloon, Mortimer?”) I discovered that while I have to include some level of action and/or adventure in my novels, to make them work my main focus must be on the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. This makes it easy for the readers to dive into the book and become that character. Even if the reader has been happily married for a decade or three, I want them to experience the excitement of that first look (“Dexter, who is that stunning, misty-eyed, raven-haired temptress with the heaving bosom staring at me from across this crowded room?”), the goose bumps from their first meeting, and all the blistering and passionate sensations from their first kiss. (“I’ll never wash these lips again.”)

And those five senses we take for granted are paramount when writing a romance novel. The touches, tastes, sounds, sights and scents (“What was that rumble?” Desmond asked, frowning. Yvette turned a sickly shade of chartreuse. “Forgive me, I had beans for lunch.”) – yes, all of them, granted some more than others, play a huge role in falling in love. Without them, a romance novel is just a travel brochure or a ladies shoe catalogue. The first love scene I ever wrote read like a WWE wrestling match. So not good! Why? Because I was focused more on body parts than on the main character’s feelings and sensations. (“That is your arm, isn’t it, Prudence?” “I thought it was your foot, Monty.”)  Yikes!

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Author of the Month Guest Post

“The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable” – Kimberley Parkinson shares her publishing journey

Like many Tellwell authors, Kimberley Parkinson took a huge step outside of her comfort zone when she decided to publish her first book. When her children’s book What Can You Do? was publishedParkinson realized it was time to get the word out about her book, and that she was going to be the driving force behind that. While marketing seemed daunting initially, her efforts were greeted with success and gratification. Now, she shares some of her early marketing experiences to encourage other authors to push themselves when they take the leap, and publish their writing.

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Kimberley Parkinson’s take on book marketing:

A smile appears upon your face. There it is, nestled proudly within your hands, the first copy of your published book. You take a moment to reflect on all the hours spent from the initial thought to the finished product. You have worked so hard and deserve to relish in satisfaction.

Then the next part of your journey beckons…marketing! A mix of excitement and nervousness takes over. What is the best route to take first? Who should I contact, what should I do, where should I go? This is when you take the time to address your strengths and weaknesses. I know with myself, I would rather sit back quietly and let the book sell itself as I am quite shy with this sort of thing. I am not a fan of social media outlets and the thought of trying to sell my book in person to stores or reading my book in front of others at events made me want to throw up! My comfort zone was very comfy, and it didn’t like to feel threatened. However, I knew that for my own growth I had to push myself beyond those comfortable limitations.

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I appreciated the knowledgeable advice and strategic outline that was given to me through Tellwell and needed to implement some of their suggestions. I had to at least try because I have always believed that there is no failure if I try. I wasn’t ready to do the social media thing yet, so I decided to go the good old-fashioned way. I travelled to locations that were within a reasonable distance and made sure to have copies of my book with me, along with props such as bookmarks, posters, etc. It was also important to have all my contact and book details ready as you don’t want to be fumbling around when asked.

Do your homework. Find out who the manager is, contact them directly, and most importantly, mind your manners. Be polite, be gracious for any opportunities that present themselves and be respectful to the ones that don’t. Unknown self-published authors tend to make some store owners apprehensive to take a chance on you and that is okay. Thank them for their time and walk out with your head held high. There will inevitably be some doors that close but if you believe in your book and most importantly yourself, you will start to see doors open. Patience and persistence is key.

Get your feet wet with smaller events at first if needed. I started with an intimate book signing/reading at my local library. It was a comfortable setting that helped me get over my nervousness. Have friends and family there for support. I felt much more at ease with their smiling faces around me.  Advertise your book in local papers, make calls, get your name out there. After you have experienced one event, the next ones won’t seem so daunting. This is all still very new to me too, and I am learning as I go.

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Tellwell Books Tellwell News

Tellwell celebrates some of our author’s 2017 publishing accomplishments!

2017 was a great year for many of our authors! Huge congratulations to all who self-published a book last year. Here are just a couple of the authors who have inspired us with their 2017 publishing accomplishments:

 

Don Levers

lootAuthor of Loot for the Taking

After publishing his first book in the late spring of 2017, the author spent the rest of the year travelling throughout British Columbia and Alberta on a book tour which included stops in Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Vancouver and Edmonton. He received quite a bit of publicity along the way, and was interviewed on the CBC’s The Early Edition in September. Most recently, Levers was asked to appear in the Vancouver Public Library’s Annual Report. The author’s persistence when it comes to building relationships with the literary community has lead to his continued success both with events and signings and publicity. For more on Don Levers, visit his website: http://www.lootforthetaking.com/, or follow him on Facebook: @DonLeversAuthor.

 

Deborah Kane

tempestAuthor of the Fifth Dragon Series

Not only did the author publish the first 3 books in the Fifth Dragon Series in 2017, but the series is also now available for Chapters, Indigo, and Coles bookstores across Canada to order directly through Ingram! The author worked hard to develop a rapport with Indigo and its affiliates and the combination of book sales, good reviews, and consignment in some of her local bookstores led to the wholesale agreement.  Kane is currently working on her next book, and we look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for this author. For more, visit her website: http://www.dkanebooks.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @dkanebooks.

 

Philip Wilson

librarianAuthor of The Librarian

Wilson used a combination of professional book reviews, online advertising, print advertisements and consignment to grow his brand and readership in 2017. His commitment to continued marketing efforts and his willingness to try new tactics, led to a spike in e-book sales and Goodreads ratings leading into 2018. Wilson has also been featured in the Huffington Post twice, most notably as part of IndieReader’s Best Reviewed Books of 2017. The author will be publishing his second book, Songs for Lucy, with Tellwell this spring. For more on Philip Wilson, visit his website: www.philipmwilson.com or follow him on Facebook: @authorphilipwilson.

 

 

We’re excited to begin another year of self-publishing and look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for our authors!

 

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Meet the Team

Meet Publishing Consultant Meara O’Shaughnessy

mearaAs a Publishing Consultant, my role is to reach out to authors who have expressed an interest in our services and to help them determine the most effective way for them to achieve their dream of getting published.

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

I spend most of my days on the phone discussing the various aspects of the publishing industry with authors, assessing manuscripts and responding to lots of emails.

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love listening to passionate authors describe their work. There is something so refreshing about hearing such uninhibited excitement that really brightens my day!

4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is preparing authors for the production process. Often times authors will hold tight to their material up until the production stage, and it becomes very difficult for them to approach the process with an open mind. I have to remind them that they are coming to us in part for our professional insights, and industry knowledge – we want to make their book the best it can be and it’s hard to trust something so close to you to someone else.

5. What’s the most common question you get from first-time authors?

“Will my book sell?” is absolutely the most common question I am faced with, and it’s a tough one because there really are no guarantees. This question does give me the opportunity to explain the benefits of marketing however, which is a part of the process I honestly believe every author should invest their time and energy into, as it can really make or break the success of a book.

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Tellwell Books

Tellwell Authors in Bookstores

9781773700342Grant Patterson

Back in Slowly
 
Available at Indigo Bay & BloorChapters Burnaby, Chapters Pinetree in Coquitlam, and several other locations throughout the Lower Mainland in B.C. For more information, visit his Facebook page.

 

 

 

9781773701202A.E. Outerbridge

Liornabella

Available at Bryan Prince Bookseller in Hamilton, A Different Drummer Books in Burlington, and Janco Books  in Las Vegas. For more updates, check out her Facebook page.

 

 

 

9781773702216Tanya Sood

She Has Risen

Available at Chapters Waterloo and Words Worth Booksin Waterloo. For more, visit her Facebook page.

 

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Meet the Team

Meet Book Marketing Consultant Tyler Hooper

img_40401.  How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

As a Book Marketing Consultant my job is to inform you, the author, on what sort of marketing strategies and avenues are available for your book.

 

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

Each day is a mixed-bag! Some days I’m on the phone doing marketing consultations, other days I am deep into designing websites, or coming up with a plan for marketing outreach. The only consistency is coffee. Lots of coffee.

 

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

Talking to authors over the phone and hearing their passion for their book is what I enjoy most. It’s amazing to hear all the diverse stories of how authors came up with their book and how it all started. It’s very inspiring!

 

4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Time management. It’s easy to get sucked into designing a website and then wonder where all the time went. I set notifications throughout the day to keep me moving through tasks.

 

5. What is your favourite marketing service and why?

The book marketing consultation. I like to openly talk with authors about their book and come up with a personalized strategy for each author.

 

6. What is your number one marketing tip for authors?

All book marketing in the assisted self-publishing world starts with you, the author! You really need to be your own publicist, voice, and advocate for your book. Tellwell’s here to help construct a map for your journey, but you’re the one who gets to experience it all.

 

7. If you were to publish a book, what would it be about?

It would be non-fiction and it would probably have something to do with history. I like exploring stories that take you to certain period in time.

 

8. What did you do before joining the Tellwell team?

I worked as a journalist in both print and for a community TV station.

 

9. What books do you love to read?

95% of what I read is non-fiction. Erik Larson is my go to for historical narrative non-fiction. You really can’t go wrong with anything written by John Vaillant, Joby Warrick, Sebastien Junger, or Truman Capote.

 

10. Other than reading, what do you do in your spare time?

I am getting pretty hooked on trail running at the moment. Getting out into the outdoors is important to me. I also like to write long-form pieces. It’s good to stay busy and have goals.

 

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Meet the Team

Project Manager Sean Santin shares more on book distribution

sean-headshot1. How would you describe your roll at Tellwell?

As a Project Manager I find I spend much of my time educating authors through the Tellwell process as well as informing them about the world of assisted self-publishing.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

After my walk to work, I grab a coffee, jump into some emails, schedule my phone calls, and prep for team meetings… oh and I’ll try to squeeze in a game of Foosball somewhere in my day.

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

Honestly, I enjoy talking to our authors about their books; I recognize many of them have been working on their book for years, for most authors it’s become a big part of them.

4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Really, it’s a lack of time – there is just a large amount of information to cover for all the authors during the process and it can prove difficult to carve out the time each author needs!

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