Category : Author of the Month

Author of the Month

Self-Publishing lessons for 2022 with Author of the Month Serena Holmes

For me, just getting the book published was a success. Would I love to sell a million copies, too? Of course! But that wasn’t my goal going into it. I wanted to help as many people as possible.

Serena Holmes, author, The Accidental Entrepreneur

2022, here we are! How are you all doing? Rested and energized for a new year, we hope. However, if you’re more so in the mind state of, What? A new year! Where do I begin? What do I focus on? know that you aren’t alone. Take a breath. You’re doing your best.

One of the best ways to get out of a funk is to take a page of advice from someone who’s been in a similar situation and managed to work their way out of it. Take Serena Holmes, for example. Serena is the author of The Accidental Entrepreneur: Turning Tragedy into Triumph to Embrace my Destiny in Entrepreneurship. Serena doesn’t just offer advice and inspiration for growing entrepreneurs based on her success and accomplishments, she gives readers a look at what it took to get there, including the hardships she faced growing up.

In a 4/5 star review from IndieReader, C. S. Holmes said, “THE ACCIDENTAL ENTREPRENEUR by Serena Holmes is an introspective, hopeful self-help tome offering detailed facts and figures regarding one woman’s journey towards creating a self-sufficient, self-actualized life.” If you’re looking for a book to inspire and motivate you, this is it! Moreover, when we asked Serena if we could feature her as Tellwell’s January Author of the Month, she agreed to not only answer our questions, but to share the lessons she learned from self-publishing, so that other authors could benefit. Find out about her self-publishing tips and how she’s used media mentions and online marketing to build a following of over 14 thousand on social media!

Serena, tell us a bit about yourself.

Where do I begin? I just celebrated my fortieth birthday. I am a proud mama to a gorgeous two-year-old girl named Sienna, and a happy wife. I became a mom pretty late in life, since I was focused on my career throughout most of my twenties and thirties.

I have had my own brand-experience agency called Tigris Events for the past eighteen years, and also obtained my real estate license this past year. Before COVID, I loved to travel but am fortunate to have a family cottage to get away to when I have some downtime.

Get your copy of The Accidental Entrepreneur on Amazon, Indigo, or Barnes and Noble!

What inspired you to write The Accidental Entrepreneur?

Running your own business can be a lot like riding a roller coaster. There are plenty of ups, downs, and learning curves, especially since you have to figure out most things for yourself. I had a lot of crazy things happen throughout my childhood that I believe helped give me the foundation to be successful as an entrepreneur. Between those experiences and those I gained during my time as a business owner, I felt compelled to write and publish a book about it to help others on the same path.

What was it like opening up about the vulnerable parts of your journey as an entrepreneur, and why did you feel they were important to include in your book?

Opening up in this way was extremely nerve-wracking. I was worried about upsetting some people, but in no way was I trying to do that. The experiences were what they were, and for those that I included in the book, I felt it was important to add context for readers and detail the kinds of lessons that were learned along the way.

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Author of the Month Author Success - In the media, awards, reviews Book Marketing

Award-winning author Vali Benson on how she generated buzz, reviews, and awards!

Our December Author of the Month, Vali Benson, has been sweeping up the book awards this season. Her young-adult fiction book, Blood and Silver, won a gold medal in two categories at the San Francisco Book Festival, took first place at the New York Book Festival in the young adult category, and won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for best first chapter book! She has generated over 100 reader reviews, and offers up her book-promotion insights to authors on how to generate buzz for your book, reviews and awards.

Published in 2020, Vali Benson was faced with marketing her book during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving online, she began the process of gaining visibility for her book by submitting for book reviews. What came next can be accredited to Vali’s hard work, consistency, and dedication to making Blood and Silver a book on every family’s bookshelf.

Read on to hear about her award and review success, plus her advice for new authors!

Tell us a bit about yourself & your book.

I have been a writer all my life. I can also now call myself a published author. It still seems like a dream, but it’s true. However, it would take some time to develop. My parents never encouraged my creative interests, so I studied retail in college. After I graduated from the University of Illinois, my husband and I moved west. We started and operated a couple of successful businesses. When we sold them, I decided to retire early to pursue my dream of writing. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.    

Ever since I can remember, I have had a book in my hand. As a lifelong reader, I often thought, “I could do better than that.” So, I decided to finally do something about it. Blood and Silver is my first book. It is a young-adult historical fiction novel about a twelve-year-old girl in 1880’s Tombstone, AZ, who runs into all kinds of trouble trying to save her mother’s life. I like to think it has an entertaining combination of history and heart. The inspiration for Blood and Silver was formed from family outings. When our boys were little, we used to take them to Tombstone for the Wild West show. I was amazed when I learned that this little town of just over thirteen hundred residents had once been a boomtown of fifteen thousand. I couldn’t imagine it, but I knew there had to be a great story there.    

What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book? This could be about the process itself, or about you.

The process of publishing a book is extremely personal and I’m sure it is different for everybody. For me, I was not quite prepared to hear other people’s reactions to my work, either positive or critical. Blood and Silver had only been a story in my head. When other people had access to my words and ideas, I felt that they were no longer mine. Those feelings gradually dissipate with each positive review received or award won.    

What have you been doing to market and promote your book?

Honestly, I don’t do anything earth-shattering. From day one, my project managers and consultants at Tellwell have guided me in the right direction and I have tried to follow their suggestions as close as possible. A major marketing strategy that was stressed to me was to establish a digital footprint. Simple steps include creating author profiles on selected social media platforms such as Facebook and Goodreads. An author website is not a necessity, but I would strongly recommend it. I try to regularly update my success on these forums thus consistently cultivating fresh interest for my book. The key is to generate constant buzz.     

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Author of the Month

Shane Mutlow’s new book has a message for Veterans with PTSD: Don’t be afraid to reach out

In 1994, Shane Mutlow, a corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces, deployed to Rwanda in the wake of the Rwandan Genocide, the most horrific genocide since World War II. At just 24 years old and in the span of 6 months, Shane was “labelled ‘whereabouts unknown’ twice and held against his will while on a major operation by Rwandan government officials.” Every day he went out into the jungle unsure if he would come back alive.

In his new book, One Foot Over the Edge: A Canadian Soldier’s Personal Account of The Rwandan Genocide, Shane recounts the contributions that Canadian soldiers made, to show a side of Canadian history that had yet to be told. Beyond that, he opens up about his experience of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s his hope that he can help others with PTSD find resources and feel less alone, and create a better understanding of what soldiers and their families go through when they return home from being deployed overseas.

Since publishing One Foot Over the Edge this past August, Shane has become an Amazon Best Seller in three different categories: #1 in Rwandan History, #2 in Military and Spies Biographies and Novels, and #2 in Military Biographies. He’s been featured by the Ottawa Citizen, and he recently hosted a successful book launch. There’s more! The screenplay of One Foot Over the Edge won Best Unproduced Script at the Toronto International Women’s Film Festival. It’s also in the running for two more international film festivals. Read on to learn more about Shane and his new book, and discover a few of the lessons he’s learned as a self-published author.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who, in 1994, was deployed to Rwanda, Africa, on a United Nations Mission to help provide humanitarian aide to the people who survived the genocide, and to bring stability back to their country. I have three children—two boys (Nicolas, Zachary), one girl (Madison)—and my beautiful wife (Justine). I currently live in Pembroke, ON.

Your story is twenty years in the making. What inspired you to write One Foot Over the Edge?

The main reason I chose to write my story: my family. They have provided me the strength and courage to take it on and I want to show them that I will never give up; I will always keep fighting.

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Author of the Month

Friends with a serial killer: Peter Perry’s terrifying true story is your next favourite true-crime thriller

October Author of the Month, Peter Perry, offers unique advice for new authors, as well as a FREE COPY of his new book.

What do you know about pure evil, the kind that makes you fear for you life? Peter Perry can tell you all about it. He lived in London, Ontario, during the killing spree of one of Canada’s most notorious serial killers, the Bedroom Strangler. It was a terrifying time there between 1974 and 1978. Russell Maurice Johnson, a.k.a. the Bedroom Strangler, was scaling apartment buildings, sometimes up to fifteen floors, and sneaking into women’s rooms at night to assault them and take their lives.

This is truly what nightmares are made of, and Peter Perry was there for it all. Peter and Johnson would lift weights together at Vic Tanny’s Health Club, a place where, unbeknownst to Peter, Russell selected most of his victims. Co-authored with Geoff Hart and Kathleen Sumpton, ORIGEN: A True Story of Evil, takes us through the rise and fall of one of Canada’s most notorious serial killers, told by someone who was closest to him.

We caught up with Peter to find out how things are going with his book since it launched earlier this year, and he had lots to share with us! Among other unique marketing activities, Peter and Geoff are in the process of pitching the screenplay of Origen to Netflix and Amazon. We wish them the best of luck!

You can get a free copy of Origen between October 27 and November 17!

That’s right, everyone, Peter has teamed up with other talented true crime and thriller authors to offer a round-up of some of the best new terrifying reads. Starting October 27, you can download a free e-book copy of Origen. Not just a free chapter, the whole book! Just click here and select the book cover for Origen to download your copy. You have until November 17!

Peter Perry, author of Origen: A True Story of Evil
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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

How to speak with your teenager about money

Advice from Doug Allan, Tellwell’s September author of the month and author of A Fighting Chance: The High School Finance Education Everyone Deserves

Doug Allan, accountant and author of A Fighting Chance: The High School Finance Education Everyone Deserves

Vancouver-based author and accountant Doug Allan believes financial literacy is fundamental to success and should be part of our high school education system. To help parents fill that educational gap, he wrote A Fighting Chance: The High School Finance Education Everyone Deserves. Allan’s book was released in early 2021, selling hundreds of copies, and earning thousands in book royalties.

He has had some notable moments which includes appearing in The Globe and Mail, CTV News, The North Shore News and the MapleMoney podcast. He was also asked to speak at various high schools in his region on money topics he covers in his book.

The Tellwell author highlights a special moment chatting with David Chilton of The Wealthy Barber. Read more to learn the key steps Allan took to ensure his book’s success.

What inspired you to write Fighting Chance? 

As a CPA, CA and a parent of two young children, financial education is near and dear to me. Over my career in finance, I have accumulated an immense amount of knowledge which I have, in turn, applied to my personal finances. Without the benefit of a financial education, most people do not have the opportunity to properly learn how to manage their money. The unfair advantage I have gained, as it relates to managing my personal finances, over those without formal financial education and experience inspired me to write down my knowledge as the book I wished I was given as a teenager.

What do you hope readers will get out of it?

I am hopeful that readers can learn one or two things within the pages of the book that gets them excited about their finances and the opportunities which are out there. I don’t expect everyone to finish the book and instantly be a financial expert, but if certain foundational lessons like the time value of money can be absorbed, readers will be much better prepared to manage their money. After reading my book, it is my hope that readers will advance to more complex financial topics and continue to learn.

In your book, you state that governments and school boards are failing our children by setting them up for financial failure once they enter the workforce. What steps would you like to see schools take to better educate youth about making and managing money?

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Author of the Month

Myriam Huser, pilot, humanitarian and author on how writing helped her learn more about herself and why she encourages everyone to JUST GO FOR IT!

 I never wanted to fit into what was normally expected of a woman; I chose to chase my dreams instead. 

Myriam Huser, author of They Called Me Sky Hunter

Myriam Huser is an incredibly skilled pilot and a talented storyteller – ask her about the time she was detained in Sudan while on a humanitarian aid mission; or, what it was like to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s also a nature photographer and videographer. Recently, Myriam added ‘author’ to her list of titles and experience. They Called Me Sky Hunter, her new memoir about her adventures as one of the first women bush pilots, was published earlier this summer. Since then, she’s received countless reviews praising her book. She’s also had some fun interactions with the media. While being interviewed by Calgary morning radio hosts, Sue and Andy, she was told that, “she makes Indiana Jones look like a librarian!”

We caught up with Myriam to see how things have been going in her new adventure as an author. She shares her reflections and advice, and a couple of entertaining stories from her new book for Tellwell’s August author of the month feature. Enjoy the read!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Who am I? Sometimes I wonder myself, haha. I was born in the Swiss Alps and I immigrated to Canada in my twenties. I never really stayed put as my aviation career kept taking me across the globe.

Most people see me as a strong independent woman. I see myself mostly as a shy introvert who is simply living her life as she wants. I do realize that my life is not an ordinary life, but to me, it’s just my normal life. I never wanted to fit into what was normally expected of a woman; I chose to chase my dreams instead. 

What inspired you to write They Called Me Sky Hunter?

Being aware that my life has been one big adventure that most people would never experience, I felt the need to share it. I wrote it, in part, to inspire anyone who has a dream but doubts if they can realize it. I’m hoping it will give those people the little push to get started. I also wanted to write it for those who cannot pursue their dreams, for whatever different reasons. 

I wanted to take people on a journey where they can escape to far away lands and experience extraordinary adventures through the stories in my book.

Personally, it also gives me an extra sense of accomplishment, the feeling that everything I have done won’t be forgotten as if it never mattered. 

Your book is full of incredible adventures that take us from Baghdad to Darfur to Sudan; from Uganda to Algeria; from the South of France to British Columbia. You’ve lived such a full life! Is there a particular story that you’re excited for readers to discover from your book? 

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Author of the Month Book Marketing Tellwell Books

How a cheeky, real-life pelican inspired a book about cleaning up our oceans – Tellwell’s July author of the month Renee James

Renée James is the talented Australian children’s author of Patroosh, the Cheeky Pelican. Her book was featured as one of the best-reviewed books by IndieReader in May, she has been reviewed on a number of book blogs, and has been featured on the Clarence Valley Independent!

Patroosh, the Cheeky Pelican touches on the impact of ocean pollution, such as rubbish, on wildlife – an important theme in line with “Clean Beaches Week” that took place earlier this month July 1-7.

Renée’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’ attitude has inspired her to pursue her dreams and become an author! Learn more about Renée and discover her advice for authors!

PATROOSH, THE CHEEKY PELICAN is an illustrated children’s story that hits all the marks: appealing and memorable central characters, high entertainment value, and its function as a powerful educational tool.

~Amanda Ellison for IndieReader
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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

A Tribute to Albert Etzerza – Father, Husband, Best-Selling Author, Residential School Survivor

Thanks to his family, Albert Etzerza’s new book became a three-time Amazon Best Seller, bringing more awareness for the trauma created by the Canadian Residential School system

Trigger warning: this post mentions sexual assault on a minor.

At Tellwell, we have the privilege of working with authors from all over the world, each one with their own unique story, giving us the chance to see so many different facets of life. Recently, we had the pleasure of working with the family of Albert Etzerza, who realized Albert’s dream of becoming an author.

At the end of 2020, Albert’s wife, Rose and her five sons published Albert’s book, The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story. It was one of Albert’s dreams to have his story published, and they helped him accomplish it after he passed away. Since publishing, they’ve gone on to host book giveaways, run social media campaigns, and gain mentions in local media across British Columbia. As a team, Rose and her sons helped Albert’s book hit the Amazon Best Seller list in three different categories: History of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Biographies, and First Nations in Canada.

Their teamwork, creativity, and drive are just a few of the reasons why we are featuring Albert as Tellwell’s author of the month!

We love celebrating our authors’ success, but it is the content of Albert’s book, and the fact that he bravely shared his story, that inspires us most of all.

Albert Etzerza at age 10. Image from The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story

Albert Etzerza is a survivor of the Lower Post Indian Residential School. He was only six-years old when he began attending Lower Post, which was part of Canada’s Indian Residential School system, a system rooted in colonization and the oppression and killing of Indigenous people. In 1991, Albert spoke out about the abuse he endured throughout his years spent at Lower Post, including the fact that he was repeatedly molested by a school supervisor. Albert eventually took the Canadian government to court for the abuse he was subjected to and the trauma he was left to deal with. He then went on to write The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent to share his story and offer people a look at the tragic reality behind residential schools in Canada; and, to help other residential school survivors heal and find hope.

We were fortunate to speak with Rose, Albert’s wife, to learn more about Albert’s story and hear how the book is being received across Canada.

Don’t miss the chance to read an excerpt from The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent at the end of this post!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Rose, Tahltan/Tlingit First Nation, artist and a mother of five boys. 

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Author of the Month

How Miami-based children’s author Jennifer Segarra gained traction for her children’s book!

For May’s author of the month, we are celebrating Miami-based author, Jennifer S. Segarra!

Over the last few months, Jennifer has successfully been featured on a number of influential #bookstagram pages like @the_bookish_mind and @nerdybibliophilee, interviewed by notable outlets like KidlioMag, Children’s Literature and the Reading With Your Kids podcast, and has connected with readers all over the world through her social media!

Author Jennifer S. Segarra with her children’s hit – El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Jennifer S. Segarra. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My parents immigrated to this country when they were young. My father is from Cuba and my mother is from Puerto Rico but also half Filipino.

I am a married mother of two beautiful children, and have an Italian Mastiff fur baby. I am bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. My husband is from Cuba and we have been married for 15 years.  

I love to cook, travel, discover new things, and LOVE reading books!

What inspired you to write El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig?

Since I was a young girl, I always loved reading, and this may sound quite weird but I loved being given assignments where I needed to write book reports, essays and stories in my own words. However, my mother always told me the story, since I was a little girl, of her favorite family pet pig named Choncho. I always told her she needed to make this a children’s book.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

Poo with a View – How an alpine outhouse experience became a top-selling book!

One of Tellwell’s best-selling books in 2020 by author Gavin Boutet

Be persistent. Be patient.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

Gavin Boutet’s coffee table book, or perhaps more appropriately bathroom book, Poo with a View: High Alpine Shitters of the Canadian Rockies, showcases some of the most remarkable views in the Rocky Mountains….from outhouses. The unique concept was inspired by Gavin’s time working for the Alpine Club of Canada servicing these remote locations. He began photographing the, rather, unique and stunning places to go to the loo.

The quirky humor book has been featured on three national news outlets – the CBC, Global News and CTV news. The book has sold thousands of copies, and was Tellwell’s best-selling book in 2020! As our Tellwell April author of the month, we asked Gavin to share the secrets of his success and his all-time favourite poos with a view:)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Collingwood, Ontario and moved to the Bow Valley in 1999 in pursuit of skiing champagne powder. I have been playing drums for over 30 years and have developed an addiction to fly fishing in the last five. 

What inspired you to write Poo with a View?

It was strictly a collection of photographs to start, but as the project took shape, I wrote a small amount for each “chapter” or location. It’s a simple toilet humour book, meant for the bathroom or coffee table, so there’s not a huge focus on the writing.

Tell us about the process and adventures in finding these outhouses. How did you find them? 

It was an opportunity working with the Alpine Club of Canada that led me to some of these locations. I was employed as a hut services worker when I came up with the concept. We were responsible for the helicopter long-lining work that went into servicing these remote locations, including flying out the full outhouse barrels, or “honey buckets” as we liked to call them.

Did you visit all of them or were some recommendations from friends? 

All of the photographs in the book are taken by me, so I have seen all (and used most too).

I had no idea that a funny little project like this book would actually make me money.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

What are your top three poos with a view? 

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