What Mama Didn’t Tell Me…

(Or Things I’ve learned As An Indie Author – Part One).

I dedicate this post to my Mother, whom I miss dearly. And Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day to all moms out there.

As a reporter, my mother had a major influence on my life, even when I didn’t realize it. However, growing up in the 70’s, there were things she never could have predicted or taught me, especially about today’s technology. So when I published my first novel, Stella’s Plea (2012) as an eBook, there were many thing I didn’t know. And there’s still a lot for me to learn.

Last week, I receive an email from a dear writer-friend I’d met at the Write to Publish Christian Writers Conference in 2012. Rebecca wanted to feature me on her blog. I never turn down these opportunities. And when people help me, I like to pay it forward. I prepared to write about what I’ve learned since I published my novel. But there’s so much to tell, I split the post in two. This is part 1. Wednesday, May 14, make sure you read Rebecca’s blog for part two, to find out the other amazing things I’ve learned.

Self-publishing has been quite a journey. Last week I signed up for two major (and free) challenges. One is a fifteen-day writing challenge where we receive a daily prompt, and must write between 50 – 300 words about it. As its name suggests, some of the prompts are challenging, but it keeps the brain constantly active and thinking. The second challenge is a 30-day “course” on book marketing, something that can be hard and quite demanding for those who don’t know what they’re doing (like ME when I started). Perhaps that’s why many go through a traditional publisher who will do most of the leg work for them. I wish I’d had this course two years ago because I totally lacked marketing savvy so the road was twice as difficult for me. But I made it. Why am I telling you about these two challenges?

Because I met many writers in the process who took an interest in my writing. Why is this so important? One of the MOST most valuable lesson I’ve learned on my writing journey is the importance of connecting with other writers.

PamelaSusanConnie         Doris and Domeniek Penny and Pamela









Write to Publish, at Wheaton College, IL was my first major writers conference. Pictured above, top row, Pamela (L), Connie (C) and Susan (R), next row, Penny and Pam (L) and Doris and Domeniek (R) are some of the many fantastic writers I made strong connections with at this conference. I have many more pictures of that conference on my Facebook page. Most of us have kept in touch on Facebook, Twitter, and/or via email ever since. This year, I attended Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Felton California, and again met wonderful and amazing writers and teachers. It’s an experience one simply cannot forget! While a famous author once told me writing is of necessity a solitary profession, I can’t help but ask myself: Does it have to be? I may write the book on my own, but I’ve had a lot of people ‘walk’ with me on my journey. These people have taken on several roles, a people with many hats, you might say. They became:

  • Encouragers while I worked on my novel,
  • Prayer warriors when I hit a few bumps in the road (writing and/or otherwise),
  • Supporters when I neared publication,
  • Promotional agents who spread the word around and helped me sell my novel.

Two years later, I’m still in touch with most of them and it’s my turn to encourage, pray, support, and share their new books on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Word of mouth goes a long way, and friendship is a two-way street. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain at a writers’ conference. I believe it’s where you acquire the most valuable tools as a writer. But don’t just take my word for it, go ahead, attend one of them. Your writing journey will never be the same. WIN_20140413_214037 Now I remind you – again – to circle your calendar and visit Rebecca’s blog on Wednesday May 14, for part two of the things I’ve learned as an indie author. Until then, blessings. Renee-Ann <><


If Bullfrogs Had Wings, book by Lee Carey

When I enjoy a book, I like to blog about it. And for two main reasons:

1- it gives me pleasure to share with you what I read;

2- it promotes the book.

For those who like to read YA books, this one is definitely for you. I first read about If
Bullfrogs Had Wings
in a newsletter from Amazon. The title struck me but more so the synopsis. There was just something about it that said “You’re going to like this book.” So I listened to the still small voice and I’m so glad I did.

Bullfrogs is set in the late 1950’s. It’s about 2 teenagers/best friends who, instead of working in the coal mine with their fathers, prefer to seek employment as caddies at the golf club. They want to work in the great outdoors instead of in the deep darkness and dusty pit below the coal mountain. But there’s a price to pay. They have to face some of the rich folks – and/or their kids – who look down on these “poor” miners.

Lee Carey takes you on an unforgettable journey between the rich and the poor, between these two teens and the adults (and their kids) they face on the rich neighbourhood,
but best of all, it shows you the faith of a teenager who believes there is good and bad in everyone and everything. Best of all, it teaches you about the value of family and friendship and how far one is willing to go for the ones he loves.

If, like myself, you tend to be emotional, I guarantee you will laugh and you will cry. It is a page-turner-can’t-put-it-down kind of a book and it will have you ask for more. Oh but wait, guess what, there IS more.

The sequel, Out of the Rough, begins 2 years later.  I don’t want to create a spoiler of the first book, so let me just say that the transition from one book to the next is so
smooth, you’ll think you’re still reading the first one. It’s that well done. From what I read so far, it too will have you in tears and in stitches.

I just finished Bullfrogs and started Rough Sunday morning. I’m not a fast reader but I’ve got quite a bit of it read. I strongly recommend these books. It’s very well written, full of surprises when you least expect it, humour, and yes, tears. But it helped me to see what life was like in those days, the sacrifice some people had to make, and the rewards in
the end.

Lee Carey has several other books which you will find on his website. In the meantime, happy reading.



Friends, Letters, Souvenirs . . . What’s important to you?

If you had 5 minutes to evacuate, what’s the first think you would take?

When I was 14 years old, during the “pen and paper” days, I enrolled in an international penpal club. I started with 4. One thing about this club, was that your data could be given to anyone requesting penpals from Canada.

By the time I left home in 1979, I had close to 40 of them. A few of them I knew personally, friends who’d moved away. But the bulk were in South America, Europe, and Africa.

When I married and started a family, a move across the country meant leaving some things behind. As I settled into married life with 2 children (one who required all my attention due to a birth defect), I lost contact with these people.

Thinking back I remember that my penpal in Denmark (I forget her name) sent me matchbooks, something I collected back then. Peter, in England sent me Andy Capp comic books. Gabriela, in Peru helped me with my Spanish when I started High School.

All these letters and souvenirs were dear to my heart, but nothing compared to the letters I received from Surafel, in Ethiopia. We corresponded during the Ethiopian Civil War. His letters were long but very educational. I always thought of them as the best history lesson I ever had. And if I were to put them together, they’d make a perfect history book.

By the time my boys were 3 years and 18 months old (1982), we relocated to the east coast, this time to New Brunswick. All my letters were neatly stored in a box on a shelf in ‘my old bedroom’ closet. In 1984, the house where I grew up burned down. My letters were still in that house.

A few years ago, I came across a ‘people finder’ website. I still remembered the names of 3 of my penpals (last names withheld purposely). Nothing came up under Gabriela’s name. She probably married and took her husband’s name. Nothing under Peter’s name either. When I entered Surafel’s name, 2 came up. Using my junk mail account and an alias, I dropped a vague note to one of them asking if he remembered corresponding with someone in Quebec and I signed it “a lost penpal”.

What a surprise when I received his email stating he remembered me by name and the city where I lived. He said “From past memories, I’m convinced that we were once penpals. I have still your photograph in my album.” Happily married, he now lived in Europe. We started corresponding again. He sent me 2 keychains for my collection; one of which is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His home, which he talked about in those letters. I haven’t heard from him in a while and I think it’s time I drop him a note.

I haven’t collected matchbooks in years, and I’ll never be able to store my keychain on a thumb drive. But since that first email to Surafel, I save my emails and photographs on a thumb drive. If anything happens to my computer, I have a backup.

What kind of things are important to you?