Category : Author of the Month

Author of the Month

How divine intervention and serendipity led Tellwell author Jana Rieger to write her first book, and adapt it for the big screen

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It was on a long-haul flight to Europe, and right before a sabbatical, that academic scientist Jana Rieger suddenly had a character appear in her mind.

“Between the fatigue and boredom of being on a long flight, this character came into my mind. The one thing the sabbatical did was allow for some freedom in my mind. It allowed for a space to open up,” said the University of Alberta professor and research director.

In the book, Fennel is a young student and research assistant who is engaging in unethical medical behaviour and attempting to destroy her boss’ reputation and career. Set in Edmonton, at the same university in which Rieger works, A Course in Deception explores the ethical complexities that arise when profit and greed influence health research.

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While the story is completely fictionalized, Rieger says there have been high profile cases around the world of researchers fabricating data in order to secure funding.

“It doesn’t matter which university or where you are in the world, you realize this is an issue. I don’t think there is any one place or academic institution that is immune to this.”

Younger colleagues applauded Rieger because the book made them think about issues related to pressure versus ethical duty in a way they never had before. Rieger noted that many also related to the work pressures researchers face in securing grants and publishing a certain amount of papers every year.

The similarities between the main character, Dr. MacKenzie Smith, and Rieger herself had colleagues wondering if the other characters were based around their own workplace.

“Some facts did make their way into fiction, but there is not one character based entirely on someone else, except for the dog,” she adds jokingly.

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Author of the Month

Entrepreneur Brandon LaBella encourages people to find purpose through failure

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It was only through failure that author Brandon LaBella was able to live with purpose and meaning.

The 23-year-old graduated from his university’s business administration program in New York State and sought work on Wall Street. But after he was rejected by a large investment firm, he realized working in finance would have been living up to an image of success that was not his own. And many of his peers felt the same.

“We are so pressured to succeed, living up to a standard that is not true to ourselves. The only way to find our authentic self is to fail. Why not give people a handbook on how to fail freely,” said LaBella.

The entrepreneur published his book with Tellwell in April. “The Journey to Failing Freely: How to Find Fulfillment By Letting Yourself Fail” is a guide for young people who are trying to find their life’s purpose and passion.

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“There was no book that I could relate to about how to navigate college and where I wanted to be at the end of it,” said the New York-based author.  “I was tired of being told by everyone around me I was doing great and on the right path when I hadn’t failed once and felt caged on a societal leash.”

He wrote his book to inspire other students to seek out life experiences to find what it is that makes them truly happy without fear of failure or judgment. He says many people are trying hard to preserve a certain self-image, and often disregard their mental and physical health in the process.

Failing freely first starts with taking care of your health, LaBella says. Then he recommends people “take calculated risks, embrace the pain of suffering, put themselves in a safe environment to grow while reaching their full potential.”

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Author of the Month

Author Tyler Cameron not only survives his wedding but launches a new career

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Tellwell author Tyler Cameron’s new book is not only the completion of a life-long dream, it’s the launching pad of a book writing career.

For the last several years, he’s been blogging on various sports sites on top of his full-time advertising job. But Cameron says from a young age, he’s always known that one day he would write a book.

“I didn’t want to wait any longer to achieve this dream. The timing was right for me and I wanted to move this passion forward,” said the Greater Toronto Area based author.

“A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Wedding” is a humorous, educational handbook for soon-to-be-grooms.3d-cover-dudes-guide-to-surviving-his-wedding

“The reason I chose to focus on weddings was due to the lack of resources from a male’s perspective, coupled with my extensive involvement in weddings, it was a perfect topic for me to cover.”

Cameron says he’s everyone favourite wedding guest and groomsman. He’s been part of eight wedding parties, three of those as ‘best man,’ has been a guest at about 50 weddings and DJ’d many more.

On May 31, 2014, he played the most important wedding role, marrying his beautiful, better half, Christina. He says the biggest advice he has for engaged dudes is “listen to your future wife and enjoy the ride.”

“There are so many aspects to successfully plan and execute a wedding, I’ve seen it and heard it all. It was great to be able to lean on my experience from different perspectives to build the foundation for this book. I know what I like to see as a guest, I know what it’s like to work at a wedding and I personally know how to execute one after my own wedding,” he said.

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Writing the book took about five years from concept to completion, although he finished the majority of writing in the last year and a half after signing on with Tellwell.

“The support and motivation from the team helped drive me to complete my project,” he said.  “The publishing process was really seamless for the most part. I had no idea what I was doing, so luckily, I had the great people at Tellwell to help guide me along the way.”

His wife was also instrumental in helping him articulate parts of the wedding planning process and structure the book. She also gave him the time and space to work on it.

Tellwell published the book in April 2018. Cameron says holding that first copy in his hands felt surreal.

“To get that first copy was amazing for me and everyone else who heard me talk about it,” he said.

In just three short months, A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Wedding” has 38 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.9/5 stars.

Indie Reader gave it a 4.5/5 star rating calling the book “a funny, fast, and informative read that will make engaged bros everywhere rejoice.”A Dude's Guide to Surviving His Wedding

Cameron says it was very exciting to see the book so well received.  “It was really cool to see that the reviewer just got it and understood where I was coming from. It was great they found it educational but also funny.”

The Indie Reader approved author is now working hard with the Tellwell book marketing team to promote his book and making sure as many people as possible hear about it. In June, he hosted a successful book launch, he’s appeared on podcasts, vodcasts and has several interviews and book signings coming up.

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He’s also keeping active on social media, focusing on building a following on his website and gaining subscribers to his newsletter.

Now with the first book under his belt, Cameron is excited to launch a series of “dude’s guides” with the next title being “A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Kids.”

He and his wife have two daughters (three and six months old) so it’s been a very busy time at the Cameron household. Now that he’s gone through the writing and publishing process, he expects the next book to take about a year. The Canadian author has no shortage of ideas, and multiple projects are in the works.

With a dedicated and growing audience, it won’t be long before Tyler Cameron’s side hustle turns into a full-time writing career.
Buy A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Weddding on Amazon

Visit Tyler’s Website

Say Hi to Tyler on Social  socialmedia-facebook socialmedia-instagram socialmedia-twitter

 

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Author of the Month

From the set to the page: Author Michael Parnall shares advice for those working in the film industry

By Tyler Hooper

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While working as a production assistant on a film set, Michael Parnall learned the hard way not to make a mistake. But this mistake also sparked some creativity, which led him to publish his first book, “Am I the on Idiot Set?,” an often funny, yet practical guide for those new to working on film productions.

“As the film industry grows, there are increasingly new people starting in several different departments and I know this guide will save productions time and money. I also wish there was a book with this info when I started because learning by mistake is not fun,” said Michael.

However, there was also a more personal motivation for Michael wanting to publish his book. In January of 2017, Michael was also diagnosed with multiple scleroses, a diagnosis that drastically changed his life. MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and because of the disease, Michael isn’t able to do all of the things on set that he used to. But he didn’t let this deter him. Through sheer optimism and love of film, Michael made his dream come true of publishing his book and now he’s also giving back.

“During my lifetime, I have witnessed the magnitude and devastation that this disease can inflict. It is my intention to not only bring awareness to multiple scleroses but provide a useful and practical way for people to donate as well. “

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Author of the Month

From historical research to staff-picked, award-winning novel – Renée Veillet shares of her accomplishments as an indie author

img_0002-180x300What started as research into her own family’s history during the settling of Western Canada in the 1900s, transitioned to an award-winning historical fiction novel and a long-term career as a writer and published author for Renée Veillet.

Inspired by the stories she learned of her ancestors, the Calgary-based author sought out to honour Canadian history in a medium that might be more entertaining and enjoyable for young adults.

“My ancestors endured hardships that were unimaginable; my great grandfather was forced to leave his family behind in order to seek work in Canada. The first family member he could afford to bring over travelled in steerage class on the Titanic and did not survive,” explains Veillet. “I feel a debt of gratitude towards my ancestors and want to honour them by sharing their stories with my children and the generations to come.”

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By the fall of 2017, Veillet was a published author and Rings of Time quickly began to receive high praise. The book, which has been compared to the popular TV series Outlander, has been described by Goodreads readers as “[p]erfectly paced and beautifully descriptive” and “an entertaining escape into another time.”

Local bookstores have also expressed interest in the book, and it was even featured as a Staff Pick at the Crowfoot Chapters in December 2017.

“As a first-time author, having my book on the shelf of the local bookstore was a huge milestone,” says Veillet. “Having it chosen as a staff pick was an unexpected surprise.”

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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Kristin Pierce ignites self-discovery in children through Inner Compass Books

Soul-searching, finding yourself and self-empowerment are often facets of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but Tellwell author Kristin Pierce wanted to spark the journey of self-discovery earlier on.

As a mother of two, she sought out to find picture books with empowering messages to share with her children. But the nature of the subject matter left her with few options. Drawing from her personal journey of self-discovery, Pierce transformed some strong, thought-provoking life lessons into a beautifully illustrated children’s book titled Your Inner Compass That Could.

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“As a mother, I thought that if I was craving books with deeper learning messages for my kids, maybe there were other parents out there wanting that too,” she explains. Her goal in creating the story was to use the book to bring empowering messages to the world in an inspirational, understandable and relatable way.

The messages conveyed are concepts that Pierce began unraveling when faced with ovarian cancer at age 21. Self-reflection and inner confidence were pivotal throughout her experience, and are topics that she felt when described appropriately, could resonate just as strongly with children.

“What I uncovered along the way is that we all have this inner wisdom that we can use to help us navigate life from a place of alignment and truth. I realized that this was something I had been ignoring in myself for so long that I felt very disconnected from my truth and who I really was. In the process of getting to know myself better, I knew I was not the only one who felt disconnected or lost along the way,” she says.

To adapt these seemingly abstract concepts into a children-friendly story, Pierce knew the illustrations would carry a significant amount of the messaging.

“I had to dig deep into my creative depths to bring my illustration vision to the surface for Your Inner Compass That Could,” she explains. “The illustrations are infused with symbolism and meaning, and that process required a lot of reflecting, but it was so worth it in the end!”

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Author of the Month

YA author Rachael Bell-Irving uses pre-marketing to grow following, knowledge and experience for launch

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We’ve all heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ at one time or another, and book marketing is no exception. So when Tellwell author Rachael Bell-Irving decided she was going to publish her first book – Demons at the Doorstep, she immediately began exploring and experimenting with marketing in preparation for her book’s release.

First, she embellished her online author presence with a Facebook Page and website, and began to establish a voice through social media and a blog. While she knew it was important to be on multiple online platforms, Bell-Irving decided to focus on the tool she felt most comfortable with: Instagram.

She did her due-diligence researching effective hashtags and exploring community spaces like “Bookstagram.” As she began to post content, she started to pick up on some of the nuances. Beyond the importance of imagery, Bell-Irving discovered the value of allowing your personality to come through.

insta-post-4-personal“People like to know who you are behind the scenes and behind the screen,” she says.

Some of her most well-received content on Instagram has been posts of herself – whether they were related to the writing process or not. Even online, the reading community seems to appreciate a personable, humanistic approach to brand awareness.

Another advantage of the pre-marketing process for Bell-Irving was getting a better sense of her genre and her target audience. Prior to exploring the literary community on social media, she didn’t realize her writing is tailored to young adult readers.

Having learned that, she found her approach online shifted to accommodate the interests and habits of YA readers specifically. The most prominent thing she discovered was the strength of the community she had become a part of through her writing. Not only are YA readers and writers extremely interactive with one another, but being genuinely invested is quintessential to building support within the community.

The concept of “being a reader as much as a writer” goes a long way, Bell-Irving explains. So, she started to get back into reading again to really immerse herself with her audience.

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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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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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Author of the Month

Winston Schroeder combines Santa and social issues in his satirical graphic novel, Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village

Know someone who is a fan of Christmas and politics? Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village is a graphic novel where the two subjects merge into one hilariously dark story. The novel was written by Tellwell author Winston Schroeder and illustrated by Logan Miller.

The 31-year-old writer grew up in Saskatchewan but has been living in Vancouver for the past 10 years. In 2015, he graduated from the Langara College Film Arts program where he studied screenwriting. While working odd jobs on the West Coast, Schroeder says he has dedicated some of his time attending L.A. pitch fests trying to pitch his screenplays. Although there was some interest in his work, it would ultimately fizzle out. Instead of waiting for others to collaborate with his content, Schroeder teamed up with one of his childhood friends and started their first project together.

“I’ve known [Miller] since the first grade. He’s always been a great artist and he pursued his passion and I kind of pursued my writing,” says Schroeder. “We lost touch for several years honestly but we always knew each other. And then we came back years later and decided to work on a project together.”

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Although the political undertone of the graphic novel may reference the current political environment in the United States, Schroeder says he began the writing process during the Obama era but later revised his work to parody current events. “I was pretty influenced by the American political climate and how publicly tumultuous it is,” he says. “Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer from the 1960s. It’s one of my favourite holiday stories and I thought that if I could fuse real world politics with a fantasy world, that would be fun and interesting.”

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With the first one published just in time for Christmas, Schroeder says he has already completed the sequel. Although it is not a continuation of the first graphic novel, it continues to highlight American issues using the same characters and festive holiday setting. In addition, readers will be exposed to a new villain and a new obstacle. “I kind of like to do parodies of social issues in America,” he says. “This one deals with a lot of police brutality in America and terrorism but done in a satirical, comedic way. It’s underlining social issues but done in a ridiculous way with Christmas elves and snowmen.” The second installment is titled Elf Wars 2: White Powder, and the author hopes to have it available for comic book lovers by Christmas 2018.

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