This year I celebrate a decade of writing. It was not something my creative brain discovered until I came to Canada. Throughout my younger life art was my main creative outlet, whether it was painting, collage, pottery, sculpture, textiles, knitting, sewing, and many more. I would spend my lunch hours in the art room at school rather than in the playground, it was my happy place. From creating abstract art in a multiple of mediums to utilizing fabric remnants found at Liberty’s of London for summer tops, I indulged my creativity.
This changed as I began adult life and my creative outlets ceased as I entered the workforce and socialized with my peers and then had children. I dappled in rug design without success and although I was gifted an easel one Christmas and attended an art class for a short time, I just didn’t have the time or motivation. It was only when I came to Canada and there was an opportunity to find a creative outlet that I made the decision to find one. I stumbled across the writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ ) by pure chance on a trip to the local library and decided to attend a meeting. From that point on I found my ‘place’ and began to learn a new skill, one which has given me not just a group of firm and supportive friends but also allowed me to discover my new country, as well as attend numerous events and a connection to many other writers from home and further afield.
Now I have eight published books and three work in progress manuscripts (and numerous ideas filed) and there is no slow down in sight for my writing passion. It has gripped me and I am so happy I ‘found’ my creative life again.
Not only have I written novels but also participated in National Novel Writing Month a total of ten times, attended numerous writing retreats and workshops, presented at workshops, started a freelance writing business (https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/ ) and became Secretary to my writers group. I am truly immersed in the writing life and am so glad I braved that first writing group meeting.
Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, twice, once in the autumn, again a few years later in the spring, and I wanted to share the beauty.
2. How did you come up with the title?
A Photographer Walks the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, I wanted people to understand that this was a visual journey along the Camino route.
3. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
For those who have walked the Camino the book would serve as a reminder, for those planning their journey it would serve as an inspiration, and for many who cannot make the journey the book will be their virtual journey.
4. How much of the book is realistic?
The Camino I walked is the same one walked by hundreds of thousands every year, each of us have our own walk, we have our own journey, affected by our senses and sensibilities. Each walk during different seasons, different weather and even different times of days, each see and experiences, and stay in different places, travel with different people. But we all travel the same road, and the images and stories are realistic.
I have no other plans for another book at this time, we do want to walk another Camino to Santiago de Compostela, so another book is possible.
Please note this book is still in the process of being published. Links will be added at a later date.
7. What is your best marketing tip?
I’m new to marketing, so far, marketing has been about the photographs, as individual images, just recently I have started to work towards putting the images together as a series.
8. Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
For me social media has been tool to share and sell my photography, and sharing stories with family and friends, only recently have I started to make an effort to expand my social media reach, to make connections with others who.
9. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing has been a wonderful challenge, and it has been helpful in developing stories related to my travels.
10. What age did you start photography/writing?
I learned about photography, early in life, while in school, while I was traveling I started to write a blog, much before the days of Instagram, to share my photography and tell my travel stories, much later in life.
11. What genre are you currently reading?
I read fiction, at this time I have been reading World War ll fiction with women at the center of the story.
12. Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read for both pleasure and for research. Prior to my first Camino I read a lot about the history and architecture of the pilgrimage, and several autobiographical stories. I enjoy reading fiction with strong female characters.
13. Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband is my biggest supporter, my sister-in-law has been helping with proof-reading, and several good friends have been very encouraging.
14. Where is your favorite creative space?
I work at my desk, processing images with the computer. I also have a laptop and can work from anywhere, I write wherever I can find a quiet space, but my favourite space is early in the morning, in bed, with a cup of coffee, before the day has begun.
15. If you could meet one favorite photographer, who would it be and why?
David Duchemin, a strong photographer, who uses his writing to explore and expand his photography, he is a motivational writer, and his work has inspired me to better work, and better storytelling with my photography.
16. If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I love Calgary, this is my home, while I love to travel, and have a long list of places I want to spend a month or two, Calgary will always be my home.
17. How do you use writing?
Writing supplements my photography.
18. Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I don’t often nibble while I write, but I do love my tea, Cream of Earl Grey or Chai are favourites.
19. What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Completion followed by a long walk is my great reward.
I first learned the magic of photography while taking pictures for the high school yearbook, and developing images in the darkroom. Since then I have been commissioned for both personal and corporate projects include portraits, architecture, travel, and products.
Master Photographer International
In 2018 I applied for and was awarded a Master Photographer designation for my Travel images.
Alamy Stock Photography: Contributor since 2012
I was excited to have my image of “Getting Ready” exhibited in the world famous Calgary Exhibition Stampede Photo Gallery July 2017
Calgary Public Library – Camino slideshow and talk
Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrim – Camino Slideshow and talk
Camino 101, Leadership team, Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Living, Art Auction
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Photo Gallery Committees
As writers and authors, we are formidable in our ability to create narratives but we also have to learn how to market the ‘end product’ of those many months or even years of creativity. We become a book business.
The first avenue many authors take is social media, which can be seen as a ‘soft’ option. After all we are not up close and personal with the public but at arm’s length. However, due to the countless sites available just choosing the ‘right’ one or two can be overwhelming. Then there is the matter of maintaining our ‘presence’ on each platform. We need to research which avenues of promotion will work best not just for our genres but also our ability to sustain them. Do your research on similar authors in your genre and see what they use (and of course ‘follow’ them).
2. Following selected authors, genre based bloggers, book reviewers, and writing groups allows you to gain followers but also to learn about your particular genre and gain a reader base. When someone is interested in your genre they ‘search’ for more posts, articles, links and books within that specific field. While you are doing that follow 10 ‘friends’ of friends on Facebook and 100 people on Twitter – this can gain a wider audience. However, in light of these two platforms losing participants also follow people on Instagram. (We have to keep up with the ‘in’ thing!)
3. Improve your author bio on all platforms to entice and inform as many followers as possible on all sales sites, your blog and social media platforms. Ask yourself – does it reflect you as a writer as well as a person.
4. Use hashtags specific to writing, authors, books, genre and associated links – look at what other authors use.
5. Then there is the personal touch, which means organizing or being involved in author readings, attending book events and participating in Q&A panels. Search your local area for book related events, get to know your local bookstores, inquire at your library, join a local writing group, the wider your reach the easier it will be to find avenues of sale for your book.
6. Merchandise is another way of promoting your book. It can be as simple as custom bookmarks to T-shirts with the book cover/main character on the front. Make up a prize basket for a contest to be collected at an event (good photo opportunity to use on social media) or create an online contest for a free autographed copy of your book.
7. An easy promotion is to leave five of your author business cards in local businesses, at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or anywhere you visit on a regular basis. Many places have community boards too so pin some cards or a poster of an event you are attending there too.
Do you have any promotion tips you would like to share?
I so enjoy this annual event not just because I am involved with the organization of it (I’m secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) but that so many local authors attend – some are regular to the event but every year new authors join us. Part of Alberta Culture Days, the event hosted it’s 12th year with 50 tables of authors and artisans.
As may of you know, I am rather an obsessed planner, so had practiced my table displays before hand. With eight published books in multiple genres, it takes some planning! With two tables, I could split the children’s and YA books from the adult books by way of different coloured tablecloths. I also, again, used summary & review pages (backed with linking coloured card to the book background colour – see obsessive!) for each book. This engages the visitors and gives them an idea of the story and what other readers thought of it. I also have merchandise, hats and T-shirts, related to a couple of the books, which are always fun.
This year was the launch of the sequel to The Rython Kindom, which was reader driven (they nagged until I wrote it – a nice thing for an author to experience). Rython Legacy follows the trials of the original sorceress’ grand-daughter.
This is the second book fair in September, a week earlier I was at Word on the Street in Lethbridge, and each time it is the connection to local authors that makes the events so special. I do have several other book events up until the end of the year to attend.
How do you prepare for a book event? Can you share tips/knowledge/experience?
I happen to have two book events this month, which is exciting. The first one is Word on the Street in Lethbridge 21st September.
I have attended this event several times before and accompany my publisher, Dream Write Publishing. It is an outside event so there is the added preparation for any weather condition – wet, cold or hot. We have experienced all of them at this event, unsurprisingly as September weather in Alberta can be changeable to say the least. As always given the opportunity we have extended our weekend to four days so we can explore the area – back roads and hamlets missed by the highway A to B drivers.
The second event is Words in the Park, Sherwood Park, which is my official launch date for the anxiously awaited, Rython Legacy – the sequel to The Rython Kingdom. I have two tables at this event as I now have eight books to display plus promotional items. It was difficult last year so I will have to do mock-up’s of the full display and take photos so I can get it all set up with looking too cluttered. As I write in three genre’s I am thinking the display will be grouped in age sections. I have summaries of each book, which helps buyer’s to peruse the story lines. Each section will have different coloured table cloth – which worked well last year. I’m still planning obviously. I have found multiple tiered stands are a great way to increase the amount of room I have to display.
Below is last’s year’s display.
I would love to see how you arrange your book event display’s – please share in the comments after clicking on the headline.