Posts Tagged ‘book launch’

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Speaking in public, so they say, is the number one fear, surpassing even that of death, for some people. I tried to avoid speaking duties for the first 50 years of my life. In that time, I got roped into giving speeches twice and both times failed miserably.

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Wells, Fargo & Co, CEO, John Stumpf, said his intense fear of public speaking nearly derailed his career. His boss, picking up on that fear, said, ‘You’ve got to fix this. If you can’t, that’s a career disabler.’ Stumpf joined Toastmasters in the eighties. “The feedback I received on my speeches wasn’t always feedback I enjoyed getting. But it was real stuff. It was a life-changing experience for me.”

He said in an interview. “Toastmasters was the vehicle that saved me.”

Last year, in a bid to face my insane fear of public speaking, I joined Toastmasters, too. All I wanted to do was to be able to give a speech at the launch of my first book, without looking like a complete idiot.

By the end of 2015, I had given four speeches, one of them being a ten minute oration at the launch of my novel in September. I know for a fact, that I could never have nailed my speech, not even a two minute one, without flubbing it, if it hadn’t been for Toastmasters. So, I can testify to the fact that the system works.

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Once Christmas had passed, however, I thought perhaps that would be where Toastmasters and I would part ways. After all, who are we kidding, it’s hard!

Yet, I went along to my first meeting of 2016 this week. Something about the friendships, and that unparalleled opportunity for growth that Toastmasters represents called me back. How can you not admire a group of people who are all in the same boat as you, tackling this really intimidating, unfailing challenge of public speaking? These are extraordinary people. And, there’s something thrilling about being around extraordinary people.

None of which makes it any less nerve-wracking. Talk about ‘starting off with a bang.’ I was the honourable ‘Toastmaster,’ and therefore had to run the meeting. I could hardly remember the protocol! Yet, that is the nature of the beast, to be put-on-the-spot and expected to deliver. Just as in the “Table Topics,” when you may get called upon at any moment, to speak for a minute on the topic-du-jour, there’s ever a sense of the possibility of being tested—that prickle of challenge—is always in the air.

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Paulo Vasconcelos told a story in the December issue of Toastmaster magazine, that after traditionally avoiding every chance to speak in public, he’d spoken spontaneously at his son’s seventh birthday party. “To everybody’s astonishment, including my own, I spoke fluently and inspirationally about the importance of frequent family gatherings. But best of all,” Paulo said, “I saw my son’s proud face staring at me like never before.”

I knew exactly what he meant. I had the same experience at my book launch, when all three of my sons watched me with pride. It was a great moment and memory.

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Is it scary to have to face your fear each week? Yes. This is the thing; if we don’t tackle the fear, it’s going to feel the same, we have to feel the fear a little bit – in “safe” settings – in order to grow. So, I keep stumbling forwards with this self-development tool. How long will I continue? I don’t know. For now, it helps me to do this thing that I didn’t do.

I’m preparing towards the next speech. I’ll give #5 in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Have you ever thought of joining Toastmasters, or doing the things you don’t do? How do you tackle your fears?

 

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Life should not be comfortable; it isn’t to a person’s advantage to have it so.  Nor should art.  Never have the masterpieces of life or art been pleasant or easy.  They are always rugged peaks to be ascended by the few. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

 

Each moment we’re given is a building block, a stepping stone, an open door, toward greater self awareness and cultivation of our individual abilities. ~ Gigi Sosnoski

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InsecureWritersSupportGroup

 And this Wednesday it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

They say when you reach the top you’ve got to stretch back down and help others up the ladder. There’s also a thing, or there should be, of when you reach the bottom, or make a mistake and fall headfirst down a well, whereby you can share what you’ve learned with others, in the hope that they might avoid the same mistake.

I want to share the Number One mistake I’ve made as an Indie author so far, and my Hot Tip solution.

I’d worked on my book a long time when I started the process towards publishing. I think I “caught a glimpse of the finish line.” I became too eager to be done with the process, in other words, I started to rush. At the exact time I should have been slowing down and ticking all the boxes, I was busy planning the book launch and making sure the food was organized, and I skipped an important step.

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“It’s harrowing independently publishing,” said a fellow writer friend. “No one understands what Indies go through to reach this point. It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. We are running on adrenaline, on this super high, and then we crash,” said another author. I had heard it was an insane amount of work. Yeah, it was.

Sometimes you fall down, you get to see a new perspective — in the gutter, looking up at the stars. ~ Chuck Wendig

I worked with a designer over the look of the bookmarks and the number cards. That finish line, that had always been so far off in the distance, was so close. I began to run, then sprint. The days between me and the deadline of the book launch flashed past like marker flags, no sooner seen than forgotten.

Number One Mistake: I set an unrealistic deadline and rushed the end product trying to meet it.

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I was staying up late and getting up early, and going everywhere at a run in between. I think I knew then, that I was not fully in control, but I didn’t want to admit it.

James Altucher said, There’s a two-step solution to blame: a. it’s your fault. It’s always your fault. b. Have a Plan B on every decision.” I had no plan B.

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A good friend who is a writer, advised me wisely, to ask for a galley of the finished typeset book to check before it went to print or digital publication.I did ask for a copy to proof. But did I read the whole book from cover to cover? No, I didn’t read the whole thing. I had read it five million times, I had paid a professional proofreader a lot of money, I had done what needed to be done. I really didn’t think I needed to read it again. I ran an eye over the pages, and they looked great, but I didn’t proofread every word. I had set a date for the launch. The printers needed to have already started printing to get the job done on time. I looked at that finish line and I wanted to cross. So, I approved it.

After my book was published and launched, my sister was the first person to read, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and she emailed to say it was full of errors: words missing, words repeated, etc.

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One friend thought the fault might have lain with the typesetter. “As a former book editor it sounds to me like he had problems with file management/version control.”

But to my dismay, when I checked the final version I had sent to the typesetters, it did have those errors present. That was when I realized what I had done. It was my mistake. As another author friend rightly said, “You need to own this part of it, too.” He was right. How did that happen?

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“Another thing to consider,” Kiwi author, Donna Blaber said, “is if you accidentally added in mistakes when making amendments.” This is a very real possibility and is actually the explanation I’m leaning towards now. After some ferreting around in my files, I’m unable to find a more recent version of the manuscript.

After all the careful editing, and re-editing, and professional help times two, I still managed to send a manuscript to the printers that was full of mistakes.

When I went back to talk to the typesetter, he had some good advice which I pocketed in order to repeat it here. Listen up, Indies, and listen well. This is my hot tip to save yourself time, money and anguish.

Hot Tip: Find a local professional proofreader and pay them to check your precious book before and after typesetting.

Excellent Plan B. Face. Egg. Saved.

A good friend remarked, “You will get there. In the end, believe me, the process is forgotten and the only thing that matters — the only thing! — is the final book.”

I thought that was wonderful. The only thing that matters is the book! Don’t you agree?

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Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

I always say that a creative career is you putting a bucket on your head and trying to headbutt your way through a brick wall. Sometimes you get through, but most times? The wall wins. Quit now. Save yourself the headache.~ Chuck Wendig

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker

The launch of my first book at the weekend was a tremendous success. The good vibes and happy feelings continue to ripple outward. This post is for all those who were unable to attend the event in person. Even my close-knit family and best friends were unaware of the ‘whole story’ of my journey so far as a writer. This address was my chance to step out of the shadows of my writer’s cave, and share what it’s taken for me to get this book ready for the world….

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“A dream”

A long time ago, I had a dream of being a writer and publishing a book.

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When you are living the creative life, you carry this little torch inside, of hope that your work will reach the public one day and make a difference. You’ll get to stand up and be counted.

I set a glass ceiling for myself, when I wrote my first novel at the age of 17 that I would get a book deal.

At the age of twenty, I took a writing course. I remember the tutor, Maria, said to me, “Put down your pen, and stop writing. You’re too young. Go out and live your life, then you can write about it.”

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I did my best. I raised my son. I studied fashion design and photography, I managed a bar in town and a drycleaners, among other things. Yet, in my spare time, I was always writing. Sorry, Maria, but I never gave up.

From the time I moved home in my late twenties to live with my parents and work on my fiction, to the time I spent writing on the side-line while raising my children, to writing as an escape from the gruelling anxiety over my boys’ health troubles – steadily working on the craft has ever formed the backdrop of my life. Writing and submitting stories and being rejected a hundred times. Year-after-year, I persevered.

Initially, I wrote chapter books for early readers. Then I moved on to writing and illustrating my own picture books. I have a number of beautifully-painted manuscripts stacked in boxes underneath my desk from those days.

That book deal, you see, was proving elusive.

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In 2005, I attended a children’s writing workshop with Kate de Goldi. Kate challenged me to decide what I was, an illustrator or a writer. She wanted me to choose a path.

I chose writing. I stopped illustrating then, not out of slavish abeyance but because I really felt in my bones she was right. And looking back, I realise I needed to do just that. It’s a powerful thing to pinpoint ones focus.

In that workshop of 2005, Kate asked us to write non-stop for a regular period each day. To my surprise, I found I was writing a novel for 9-13 year olds. I didn’t have to worry about continuity. Every time I picked up my pen, the story would carry on from where it left off. The story flowed, and the characters that came out in this fully-formed world were the same insects who had peopled my picture books, but they were slightly older.

I wrote every night after the kids were in bed, from then on, and for the next few years. I ended up with a vast epic, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, which I chopped into three. ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ is the first book in that trilogy.

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Then, I ventured into the world of social media. I started my online group, “Writing for Children,” and my American friends encouraged to set up a website, to start my own blog and to join with writing partners and online critique groups.

Because the development of this book was done through critique and endless rounds of edits with my American friends, the terms, the spelling, everything gradually evolved, and what started out as a fantasy adventure firmly rooted in an alternate NZ became a story more and more suited for the American market, making this story a rare hybrid.

When I finished work the first time on this book, I sent it to acclaimed kiwi author, Fleur Beale, for her assessment. She said, ‘Excellent story, but lose the insects!’

I couldn’t lose the insects because it was the fact that The Chronicles of Aden Weaver was set in this microscopic world that made it so unique and interesting. However I came up with a new concept – of making the characters shape-shifters – able to move between human and insect form.

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Eighteen months later, after a major overhaul of the script, I met Frances Plumpton, NZ representative of The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators. I gave the Tane Mahuta novel to her to assess. I’ll never forget what she said. “Every writer has that book in their bottom drawer that should never see the light of day. This is that book.”

My next writing partner was an author and musician. He said, my story “went clunk” and “sounded like the equivalent of riding over cobblestones on a horse.” His advice was scrap the whole thing and start again. And so it went on. The knocks in this business are legendary.

In fact, there’s a wonderful site, called literary rejections dot com where I discovered I was not alone. To name a few, Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, was told Stick to teaching.” Richard Bach, author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull was told, Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull.” L. Frank Baum was told, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, was Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”

Thankfully those authors didn’t listen to the naysayers! And neither did I….

Though a couple of years ago, I went through yet another crushing defeat that did stop me in my tracks for a minute. I had submitted this book to an international contest for the prize of publication. I didn’t hear back from them. Then, on their website, the organizers said, those who don’t hear back are the finalists. Whoopee! This was cause for great jubilation! Until upon further enquiry, I discovered that not only had I not made it to the finals, but the organisers had not received the manuscript at all, due to my fatal error in calculating the time difference between countries.

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In my mind, I had thought I was this close to breaking through that glass ceiling. Instead I was back at square one. AGAIN. Devastated, I fell into a black hole that lasted for seven days.

At the end of that week, I got a phone-call. I heard my mother’s voice. She said, “The darkest hour always comes before the dawn. You may think all is lost right now, but it isn’t. This is just the start of great things opening up for you. You’ll see!”

Ma, I always hoped you’d be here for this, and yet I know you’re here in spirit.

Even though my mother was failing in her later years, she always knew when to ride in on the silver horse!

I have to thank my parents for so much. I know that my journey to publication has been a long and winding road. And yet mum and dad still believed.

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When, as a writer you feel everything is taking too long, and the frustration mounts, there’s this expectation of you and yet you’re not delivering, you could literally wallpaper your house with the rejection letters – you actually do need more than financial assistance to keep going sometimes, you need love. My parents gave me both.

Thank you to my father for driving up from Rotorua just to be here today. Thank you to those who have postponed personal milestones to help me celebrate mine. To you I say I am humbly grateful. Thank you to my friends for your patience, for putting up with me when I miss all the get-togethers, or on the rare occasion I do show up, that I’m always the first to leave. Thank you, Simon, for bringing Aden Weaver to life. I really appreciate you all being here to help me mark this moment, this crossing of the threshold. I am sure a great many of you – don’t worry I don’t need a show of hands – had begun to wonder if I’d ever publish anything. You might have been forgiven for wondering if this day would ever come.

The only reason this day is here now is because I stopped waiting to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Along the way, I had realized my glass ceiling was holding me down. So I let it go. I let the dream of a book deal go, but I didn’t let go of the book, nor the insects, nor the vision of how I wanted it to be. The dream is still alive in a new form, and it’s even better, I have total creative control.

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One of my writing tutors, Bob Mayer, once said, “Failure is the start point for future success.”

Hugh Howey had ten novels in print before he published “Wool” which became a big hit. The estate of Jack London, the House Of Happy Walls displays some of the 600 rejections he received before selling a single story.

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In other words, the only thing that separates the published from the unpublished author is deep determination and a touch of insanity. Lucky for me, I’m endowed with both.

It was Sir Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

By those standards, I’ve been WINNING for the last 33 years!
A long time ago, I had a dream…of being a writer and publishing a book. Today that dream has become a reality! Thank you for being here with me to witness this moment.

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. Be bold , be fierce, be grateful. Be gloriously free. Be You. Go now,and live” Jeanette LeBlanc.

The expectation vs. the reality~

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My expectation of the book launch was that I was going to spend the daytime doing home beauty treatments: facials, hair masques, exfoliation, nail polish, ringlets, etc, getting glammed up at my leisure. The reality was I spent the entire time up until half an hour before the launch trying to figure out how to upload the book to Createspace and Kindle Direct. After that, I ran around like a headless chicken with my hair falling out, throwing on blusher and ear rings with two minutes to spare.

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My expectation was that I was going to practice my speech at my leisure up to three times before the presentation.

The reality was I practiced it once in my bedroom moments before leaving for the venue at a run.

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My expectation was that most of the hundred and fifty-odd friends, family and colleagues I’d invited, or at least half would show up. I warned Bruce, the kindly patriarch of my Toastmasters Club, and keeper of the keys to the hall annexe, that we’d probably need to open the side doors to make room. The reality was about thirty people came. The side doors stayed resolutely closed. However, of all the chairs set out, most were filled.

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My expectation was I would get lucky enough to get a karakia. The reality was my dear friend, Richie, not only gave the most beautiful, stirring karakia – along with English translations of each piece – but he also sang a song! Unprecedented blessings.

Richie, karakia

My expectation was I would probably cry, crack up or forget parts of my speech. The reality was I remained steady. I had by some miracle managed to memorise a ten minute speech in three days! It went off better than I ever could have imagined actually – but more about the speech side of things in another post.

My speech

My expectation when my youngest son said he wanted to get up and say a speech, was that he would be struck speechless and be too shy to stand up, let alone say anything. If the pattern of his behaviour in the past was anything to go by. The reality was he did fret but in the moment, he did get up and spoke perfectly. I was choked up with pride.

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My expectation was I might sell a handful of books if I was lucky. The reality was I sold 24!

cover artist, Simon Kingi

Si and I – the super collaborators!

What a great day. I was full of the quiet triumph of the writer over the adversity of the empty page!

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My expectation was that the book launch would hopefully go smoothly, however would be unlikely to fulfil all my hopes and imaginations. The reality was it was better than anything I could have imagined. It really was a dream come true. The people dearest to me (most of them) were there, the moment was honoured, the speech was glitch-free, the food good, the champagne cold (even though we drank out of coffee mugs because dear old Frank forgot to turn up with the glasses)!

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My mentor from Toastmasters, Debbie, acted as MC

People surprised me by getting up and speaking. The mythology, the ‘story’ behind the book was shared. The magic delivered. And I got to talk about my book all evening long!

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Then once I got home, and I had unloaded all the party gear from the car, and stacked the boxes of my books in the hallway, I finally began to unwind. I was still on cloud nine. I simply couldn’t stop smiling.

After one and a half weeks of burning the candle at both ends, to finish the book, and organize the launch party, I had stressed myself to the maximum. The party finished at 5 p.m. At midnight last night, I finally stopped pacing around and thinking.

I picked up my copy of this book. I was able to see it and focus on it for the first time. Talk about ‘magic moment’…

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That was when I began to examine it properly. I read the front and back covers, the front and end pages and looked for my pen and ink illustrations.

In all the hurry and haste to make the event a reality I had missed the main point, the book itself is a work of art. It’s everything I could ever have wanted. To be an Indie author is a truly powerful thing to be – to have total control over the finished product. I think I am in love!

What about you – had any dreams come true lately?

 

 Sam love

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Think about the legacy of your vision, what will you leave on earth? – Lawrence Lewis Green