My Evening at KoboWritingLife with Joanna Penn

Kobo eventYes, you can see my red hair sticking out in front row near the column.


Monday night I went to a meet and greet at Kobo’s headquarters held here in Toronto. The event was an opportunity to meet and mingle with other authors and meet guest speaker, author Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn and Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo.

Mark made himself available to chat with everyone who wished to speak with him and ask questions about the Kobo platform. He is a charming, layback sort of guy who makes you feel comfortable to speak with. We chatted for quite awhile and he answered my questions and concerns I had in preparation to soon begin moving my books over to that platform as well as Amazon’s. As I made it clear in earlier posts I intend to get out of the KDP Select program and diversify my distribution with my books. Mark was honest and forthright with his quiet sense of humor and very obliging in the time he spent with me.

D.G. and Mark at Kobo

Okay, so no, I didn’t want to be in the picture. My new author friend Wendy insisted I be in it with Mark. I don’t like being in photos, especially with my too short recent haircut!

I also chatted for quite awhile with Jodi White, Operations Manager of Kobo. We chatted away as though we were two old friends. She told me a lot about Kobo’s promotional events which they run for authors, sometimes on a monthly basis. When Jodi told me this, I was surprised I hadn’t heard about these events because other than receiving my invite from Joanna, by subscribing to her newsletter, I would never have known about the event. Apparently, I had also just missed Hugh Howey’s visit last month, darn! Because I had yet to distribute with Kobo, I wasn’t receiving their newsletter and Jodi didn’t hesitate to ask me for my business card so she could add me to the list to stay informed of upcoming news and events. It was also funny that when I handed her my card, she looked up and said, “I know this website.” I was taken aback wondering why, when she proceeded to tell me that she popped by my website when I replied to RSVP to the event and she remembered my logo header, it had stuck out in her memory. That made me feel great. My branding was memorable.

For the first half hour or so, everyone mingled around Joanna and the lovely spread of appetizers and drinks (yes beer and wine included). It was a harmonious atmosphere. I chatted with Joanna for a while and gave her the ‘hellos’ I promised to pass on from two author friends who live outside of Canada, James Thorn and Adam Henig. Afterwards, we were all taken to another room where we all sat and listened to Joanna speak.

Joann Penn
Joann Penn

Okay, so apparently, I am the worst photographer in the world! I’ll stick to my day job.


Joanna and Mark sat in front of us on a small stage. Mark introduced Joanna properly and Joanna spoke about her evolution from being solely a nonfiction author to her writing of her nonfiction books as J.F. Penn. She talked about her book marketing strategies and how she diversified her writing into marketing and entrepeneurship. She spoke about the hard work and the many solitary hours writers spend writing, and the importance of editing and marketing ourselves. Joanna also explained that the efforts of marketing are required regardless of whether or not authors self publish or go traditional because after a month or so of being traditionally published, authors end up very much on their own nowadays to have to continue to promote their own books, and if that’s the case, why should we have to share our royalties? I was grateful to have learned all this long ago, but for new authors Joanna’s info was a goldmine.

The room was full of authors, maybe forty to fifty of us. They came from other parts of the province, not just Toronto. I thought I lived far from the event being that it was an hour and a half drive from my north suburban neighborhood to the bottom of the city but I quickly became friends with another author Wendy, who lives in Cambridge Ontario, about an hour and a half west of Toronto. I gather there was a mix of authors, well-versed in self publishing already, as well as newer ones eager to learn the business, based on some of the questions that were asked.

I was delighted to meet Joanna, as I hold her knowledge and experience in high regard and she was one of the first people in the industry I followed socially and signed up for her newsletters to learn about the business. I was interested in meeting Mark for his great information on the Kobo platform and to satisfy my questions on how their platform allows authors to run promotions. It was encouraging to learn that when I put my books on sale, the sale applies to all countries. I also like that my books will be getting a broader reach of readership when I publish with Kobo. Kobo also distributes through Indie bookstores which is another advantage for exposure to our books, as well as distributing to many other countries that my books aren’t reaching on Amazon. Being a Canadian author and having my books reach Chapters/Indigo will be a huge benefit because of Kobo’s partnership with Chapters/Indigo.

It was a lovely evening. I got some good insights and made some new friendships. Now I have another platform to learn all about.

I also want to mention, my best friend Bri came with me for moral support. Bri lives halfway downtown and I have anxiety when driving in the crowded city. I drove to Bri’s house and she drove us downtown. She actually enjoyed herself and was approached a few times by other authors while mingling, asking her what genre she writes in. She politely told them she was only there to support her author friend. I told her next time someone asks her if she’s an author to say, “No, but I’m a character in another author’s books!”

If you would like to read in more detail about the Kobo event, HERE is a link I’ve attached with a write up about it from Kobo on their own page.


The Writing Process Blog Tour

how we write


I was thrilled to be invited to this blog tour about sharing an author’s writing process and showcasing other authors and their works. My friend Carol Balawyder has kindly invited me to this tour. Carol is the author of Mourning Has Broken, her memoir about life, loss and grief of a sister and parents. You can check out Carol’s wonderful Blog at and read about her upcoming books and her wonderful reviews of famous women writers and Nobel prize laureates. While you are there, take a look at Carol’s post on the blog tour last week and learn all about her writing process.

And now I am happy to share the answers to the four questions posed to the authors on this blog hop:

2013-10-02 15.11.00


I have just recently finished first draft of my next book. This book is a look at women’s self-esteem issues and the obsessions and hang ups we endure in younger life which have a propensity to devalue our self-worth. It is written from my own experiences and analysis. This book will be published this fall.

I am also writing chapters intermittently for three other books, one is a sequel to my first book Conflicted Hearts, another is essays on rants and reminiscence , comparing life today to yesteryear, and the other is a secret for now.


Writing in memoir can be raw. Some write in first person. Others may write in third person and choose to use another character to represent the story. And some memoirs are written in diary form. Many memoirs are written in one particular chunk of time. But all memoirs are based on a theme. my writing style was influenced by reading books written by William Zinsser, author of the widely acclaimed, On Writing Well. Only I wrote my first book, Conflicted Hearts with some slight deviation. My book spans through my life in different vignettes through time, holding with the same theme about how powerful guilt can continue to prevail throughout life, regardless of what we learn and how much we grow. For me, guilt didn’t exist in one chunk of time, I lived with it most of my life, even through my triumphs. I write raw and true and my voice speaks to my readers as though I am sharing my story with them personally.


I began my writing as a teen. I kept journals to release pent up emotions and to self-analyze events and people in my life. I was driven to try to find answers for people’s actions. In those earlier times writing was self-medicating, and as the years passed I wanted to share my thoughts on subjects that people could relate to and possibly leave some suggestion from my writing about my experiences. I don’t believe we just decide to be kind or nasty. The events of our pasts have much to do with the character traits we acquire.


I try to write five days a week. I don’t impose time-frames on my writing, I go with the flow. Some days I can crank out 2000 to 3000 words, others may only be 500. My outlining process is usually: the concept of the book and then creating temporary chapter titles for the subjects I’d like to include in the book. I begin writing a chapter and when the pen gets flowing full of ideas, I keep another blank page for that chapter for when too many thoughts come at once and I don’t want to lose them. I jot what I want to talk about on the separate page so when I’m finished writing my current thought, I know what I want to write next. When I’m not writing for my books, I will be writing blog drafts or doing creative writing exercises from Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend From Far Away.

I write in long-hand. Okay, call me old-fashioned but I just don’t feel creative in front of a computer. For my first book, I had been journaling for years. I had torn out the chapters and began adding to them. I used a post-it-note system where I’d title the chapters so I could add to them or move them around. I know this may sound archaic but it worked for me. I actually tried using Scrivener but I was so overwhelmed by it, I went back to my tried and true system. I did promise myself to try Scrivener again when I wrote my second book, but old habits die hard, so I found myself once again back to my pre-historic method.

My system can become quite messy. If anyone saw my kitchen table (where I love to write) while I’m working, they were overwhelmed by what appears to be a mess of papers, yet I know exactly where to find any page.

Only after finishing first draft do I venture over to the computer. I begin entering my work into Word with my chapters already in order—sprawled out on the floor. Being a tactile person, I just work better when I can pick up a page.

My revisions are all done in Word and through the process it’s not uncommon for me to print off about eight copies of my manuscript between revisions and edits. The human eye catches typos much easier on paper than the computer screen.

Final readings and proofs are always done from paper.


For next week’s blog tour I am introducing two fellow authors here who will be passed the torch. Deborah Jay and Annie Edmonds are author friends of mine. Deborah is a fantasy author and Annie writes in erotic romance. Be sure to visit their blogs next Monday August 4th when they will be joining the blog tour.

Here is a little sampling of what these two talented authors are about:

Annie's book


Annie is a Jersey Girl born and bred. She has been happily married to the one man that stole her heart thirty years ago. She hopes one day to move her Jersey girl butt to the sunshine state.  She says winters are just too hard on someone who lives with chronic pain.

Annie loves to write and has been doing so her entire life. In 2013 she reached a milestone birthday and decided it was now or never. She needed to write and she published her first novel. She had no idea what to write about so she started asking her friends and their friends what they were reading. When the consensus was erotic romance, she did some research and what she found fascinated her. Annie took her love of romance, and added lots of kink and started writing Second Chances Sammy’s story. It’s the first novel in the Second Chances series. Annie is currently working on book two, Master Mike’s story.

Being an independent author isn’t always easy, but it can be fun when you start to write a sexy blog that you love. She started Sex w/Annie on WordPress and it seems to have hit a sweet spot where followers are concerned. She posts a Sexy Sunday blog for couples and singles every Sunday by 4 pm.

When Annie isn’t writing/blogging and promoting, she loves to spend time with her husband and family. At the beach is where she gets her inspiration. The beach has always been the one place to calm Annie’s soul.  Her interests also include, photography, gardening, and, being a foodie, Annie loves to cook.

Follow Annie at her Amazon author page, on twitter @aedmondsauthor and facebook.


Prince's Man

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

Her debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award, has featured frequently in the Amazon Top 100 Epic Fantasy books since publication in July 2013.

Find out more about Deborah at or follow Deborah on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads and Pinterest

KDP Select – Only for the Select Few

Newsworthy notes

Today I’m going to share some information about Amazon’s KDP Kindlecountdown program. It wasn’t too long ago I wrote an article about how Createspace is holding my paperback royalties ransom until I satisfy their $100 threshold earned in royalties. As it stands, I’m still about two books short before reaching that threshold. But that’s another kettle of fish, today’s gripe is about the Select program.

I became aware today about how the countdown promo is fashioned. I’m not sure how many of you are aware that when authors put their books in the countdown program, the promotion is only available for U.S. and U.K. citizens. I remember when I ran my book Conflicted Hearts on that promo that I had no evidence of it being on sale, not showing up for me even when I went to I questioned Amazon and all that I was told that it was on sale, and they sent me a screenshot to prove it, yet it didn’t look like it was, looking at it from my computer. I wasn’t fully aware of all the details of that promo because I foolishly didn’t read all it entailed.

Today I noticed a book on that promo by an author whose writing I admire, and a book of hers which I was watching to come on sale to purchase. I saw her post on Twitter that it was currently on promo at .99 cents and I went to purchase it, only to find that on my Amazon page it was still at regular price. I messaged the author and asked if the sale price was ‘live’ yet because it wasn’t showing and she assured me that it was. The price was not on sale for me. When we both realized that the promo was only valid in the U.S and U.K., she was kind enough to ‘gift’ me a copy for my interest through an Amazon gift certificate for her book. When I went to download it, it wouldn’t download. A message came up saying ‘We’re sorry, there’s a problem, please call . . . .”

I called Amazon and wasted almost forty minutes getting put on hold and passed around, only to finally be put on to a technician. He informed me that he was sorry for all the delay and confusion but I was not allowed to have that book at that price even if the author gifted it to me. I was livid. I ranted on about the injustice of unfair pricing and added that I would be writing about it.

I messaged the author and told her what transpired and thanked her for her attempt to gift me the book and we both agreed that this situation is not correct, particularly that we all live in the same internet world.

What ticks me off most about this is that I, as a Canadian author publishing in the U.S., can put my books on promo for U.S. and U.K. readers, and all other countries including my own readers get the shaft. I copied a paragraph out of Amazon’s rules for this promo and I find it not particularly just:

Can I use Kindle Countdown Deals if I live outside of the U.S. or UK, like Italy or Japan?

Yes, but your Kindle Countdown Deals promotion will only be available for and Customers in countries that you have indicated rights for will see the countdown clock and the promotional list price with any standard fees included.  However, customers in countries that are supported by specific marketplaces (for example, Germany, India, and Australia) will not see the promotions at this time

When I look at this, it feels like a secret to me. The book will show on sale for two countries and nobody else will know? This doesn’t help us when we are putting our books on promotion and paying for advertising to help boost sales and ALL THE OTHER COUNTRY’S readers are told it’s on sale, but they can’t have that price. I think this is unfair marketing. I may as well tell the world my book is on sale, but sorry guys and gals, if you aren’t American or British you have to pay full price. It kind of leaves me feeling like a hypocrite to advertise.

I wasn’t aware of all this when I entered the new countdown program and ran it for Conflicted Hearts and I am locked in until September for another promo on Meno-What? A Memoir. The sale price won’t show on other countries but surely my readers will know when I advertise it’s on sale, yet some won’t be able to take part in the sale. Quite frankly, I am surprised I wasn’t questioned by readers when I ran the other promo.

I just don’t think this whole situation seems just. To me, it feels like prices should be fair across the board, like any other merchandise. If for example I was selling cars and I offered a particular car for $10,000 and a buyer came along and I found out he wasn’t a Canadian resident, could I tell him, sure you can buy it, but for you it’s $15,000? I don’t think that would go over so well.

For the record, after my last promo in August, I won’t be going exclusive on KDP again. I’ve been on Select since I began publishing because Amazon does have a big platform and once upon a time their promos were more lucrative. I will keep my books on Amazon, but it’s time to expand my distribution and share my books with others who don’t have them available to them on other channels. I’m all about fairness and equality. On other sites I will be able to run different promos and choose if I’d like to gift a copy with no holdbacks. I don’t know when it became politically correct to charge different prices for the same book for different nationalities.

Feel free to leave a comment here or voice your opinion to Amazon for all authors and readers who are not American or British.


Kobo Meet and Greet


I am so excited that finally there is an author event in Toronto that I have been invited to attend by the great author and entrepreneur in self-publishing, Joanna Penn of The I subscribe to her newsletter and was elated to receive a letter she sent to her followers, informing us that she will be doing a meet and greet in Toronto, this Monday July 28th. This is exciting because she will be hosting this get together with Mark Lefebvre, the director of Kobo Writing Life, right here in downtown Toronto at Kobo’s headquarters.

This will be a great opportunity for me to meet fellow authors from around my own home town and get some great information about Kobo at a time where I am just considering expanding my distribution channels for my books. Serendipity I say!

If any of you readers are writers living here or near Toronto and would like to attend, just shoot me an email and I will ask Joanna to send you an RSVP. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the self publishing world and distribution as well as making great connections with others in the writing world. You can be sure I will tell you all about it afterward.

Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors | Kristen Lambs Blog




I’m sharing another great article from the talented Kristen Lamb’s blog. In this article Kristen writes about some of the pitfalls self-published authors can tend to fall into. She expresses the caveats of publishing too soon, understanding the business and over-shopping your books.

Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors | Kristen Lambs Blog.

Live Your Dreams


live dreams

I’ll tell you, it’s getting frightening already, hearing about so many people dying, left, right and young! I don’t know what this damn phenomena is about, so many people dying at precarious young ages from horrible illness. Just the other day I told my husband that it is almost like a lottery for those of us who are spared from fatal diseases and whose name is chosen for these fates. This is just not even normal or fair.

As a person who has lived through her own share of near fatal illnesses, I never take my life for granted. And I say it all the time . . . LIFE IS SHORT so why not live it to its fullest potential? So many of us put our dreams and hopes off for tomorrows—tomorrows that sometimes never come. I used to be a lot like some of those people. No matter how much I seemed to spread my positivity around, I too got caught in that realm of “maybe someday I will do . . . ” But I’ve since decided I am not going to wait around for the chips to fall, I am making my own path to my desires and I’m going after them!

It’s so easy for us to become complacent and lost in keeping up with the every day tasks in life and brushing our desires to the wayside until we find we have the time or money to squeeze those pleasures into our life. Things don’t usually fall into our laps, we have to go after them and make them happen. And so that is just what I am doing, working on my dreams.



We must set goals to attain what we want and where we want to be in order for them to come to fruition. It’s no different than being a writer at home writing books. If we don’t apply ourselves and give ourselves deadlines, the time passes much too quickly. Sure it would be easy to say I’ll write when I have the time and one day I’ll finish another book but that isn’t motivating enough for me so I give myself deadlines to adhere to and then I have a goal that I have to meet which keeps the spark of interest. I said I will have three books out within a year and by golly I fully intend to have my third book finished (I’m halfway through rough draft) and published before this year ends. The same applies to the things I want out of life. I decided I have to reach a little higher to obtain what I want and if that means extending a ladder as high as it can reach, I’m climbing it!

It becomes a matter of rearranging priorities. And I’ve finally decided it’s time to move the furniture around. Yes, I’m comfortable in my cozy home and lucky to be able to write as much as I can without interruption. But what I really want is to live somewhere else for the winter, Arizona in particular. canyon 033 I have always had an inner feeling that is where I belong, I’m a desert girl at heart. I truly believe I lived there in another life as when my foot steps on Arizona/Nevada soil, only then do I feel in my heart that I am home, a feeling I never have any time I return to Toronto after being away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to give up my citizenship but I certainly wouldn’t miss the brutal winters. As my husband grows older he has been longing to make this change as well. It’s something that we’ve both been figuring out to find a way to make it happen and we figure in about another year we can. So as a start to our commitment to plan for our dream to happen, we having booked a lovely vacation this fall in Arizona for a little R and R and we have plans to visit some properties with an agent. canyon 023 We are considering selling our home and investing the equity and renting a condo to free us up to be able to travel somewhere else for an extended period of time. We may buy or may rent a place in the desert for the winter months. So that’s my plan. Talk is cheap. We kept saying, one day, one day, well we are going to make one day happen soon!



It’s nice to dream but nicer to live it!


Healing the Loss – Pink Flowers



Time is a healer; they say. When we grieve the loss of a loved one, nobody can pretend to know that pain. Although almost everyone has loved and lost someone dear to them throughout their own lifetime, each person that grieves goes through their own process and feels as though nobody has known pain like they are experiencing. There doesn’t ever seem to be the right words at those moments when we offer our condolences other than, “I’m sorry for your loss.” For what else can we say? We can’t compare our losses to someone else’s and we can’t pretend to know what they are feeling.

I know I have been to more funerals than I care to count, and for me the hardest part is paying condolences to the ones left behind because I feel that my words cannot do anything to alleviate what they must be experiencing. Yet we follow the protocol of giving condolences, sending flowers and cards because even in those moments when we feel our words can’t help, down the road when time passes and the griever can find a special part of their heart to lay their loved one to rest, they can look back and remember who was there for them, if only in silence.


angel sleep

Today is my step-daughter Sue’s birthday. Sue passed away in March of this year and as a single mom, she left her two boys behind. I wrote a few posts here in March about that time my family lived through and today, four months later, I am acknowledging her birthday.

My husband and I are taking the boys to visit their mom today. I told them I would pick up flowers to bring for all of us and the eldest replied, “I don’t want to take flowers that die.”


I stood in thought for a moment and then I retorted with, “How about we buy a flowering plant and take a little gardening tool with us and plant something that keeps blooming and coming back every year?”

The boys were elated and then the younger one added, “We would love that, let’s make sure they are pink, you know how Mom loved pink.”





A tiny gesture can fill a big hole.



Alas! Meno-What? A Memoir available in Paperback!


BIG NEWS!  Meno-What? A Memoir is finally available in paperback!

For those of you who have been following my struggles with Createspace, I wanted to let you all know that I have received my proof copies and have hit publish!

Thanks again for all your support and interest in the publication of my paperback version. As I mentioned that I would do in my earlier post, I have now added the link HERE and on my Meno-What? page where you can purchase the paperback copy.

Also, Createspace will be solely selling the paperback until it links it to Amazon in a few days and during these very few days, I appreciate if anyone is interested in purchasing a copy to please do so at Createspace so I can reach my threshold there and get my ‘ransom’ money out that they are withholding. Once I reach that threshold I will be removing the link to Createspace. ONLY 7 BOOKS to go and I’m out of royalty jail!