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Expat Books

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Expat Books - Fiction

Mental Pause

  Posted Friday May 17, 2013 (01:19:46)   (2918 Reads)


Expat Focus talks to Anne O'Connell about her latest book, "Mental Pause", the story of a middle-aged housewife and mother who is having a tough time with her ‘change of life’.

Anne, please tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m an expat Canadian, a Maritimer actually from Halifax, Nova Scotia, now living a quiet island life in Phuket, Thailand. I am what someone recently labeled a ‘multi-genre’ writer, which either means I enjoy variety or maybe haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up! I do feature writing and blogging as well as copy writing for corporate communications, marketing and PR.

I am a social media consultant and have also written and published both fiction and non-fiction books.

You recently published 'Mental Pause' - briefly, what is the book about?

Mental Pause is my first novel, which I’m thrilled to share, just won an Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Award in the Best Adult Fiction eBook category (bronze medal). It’s about Abbie, a middle-aged housewife and mother of teenage twin boys who is having a tough time with her ‘change of life’ and goes a little off the deep end. She seeks solace with her girlfriends (both divorcees) who are enjoying their freedom after recently separating from their respective husbands. After a wild night of partying, Abbie wakes up in a hotel room with the worse hangover of her life, doesn’t remember how she got there… and winds up on trial for murder. Her lawyer thinks perhaps she should plead temporary insanity but she maintains her innocence, even though the night in question is a blur.

How did you come up with the title?

Writing the book was very cathartic for me as I was in the throes of my own change and felt like I was going a little mental myself. We had also just moved to Thailand so were in the midst of adjusting to a whole new life too. I woke up one night soaking wet after a particularly bad night sweat and hit the computer to start writing the ‘mad ramblings of a perimenopausal woman’ and thought it would be fun to turn it into a book. The title Mental Pause just seemed to fit. The crazier I wrote Abbie’s symptoms the better I felt because at least what I was experiencing wasn’t as bad as what Abbie was feeling.

Did you self-publish or follow a more traditional publishing route?

After about a year of querying agents I made a decision to self-publish as I had simultaneously been researching and studying the options (and there are many). My first book, @Home in Dubai, was traditionally published by Summertime Publishing and it was a great experience but I was getting impatient waiting for someone to pick up Mental Pause and so many people were telling me it deserved to be published. So, I took the proverbial bull by the horns and launched it on March 8 of this year (International Women’s Day).

What were the biggest challenges faced by self-publishing, and how did you overcome them?

The self-publishing road is not for the faint of heart for sure! Once you make the commitment you’ve got to spend a lot of time and some money too. The costs depend on what you can do yourself (or maybe take out in trade) versus what you have to pay someone else to do. I think the biggest challenge is actually comparing and contrasting the myriad services available and making a choice of which one to use.

The variables are endless and there are huge variations in the costs, the pros and the cons. In every forum you read there are unlimited discussions where people share their experiences (good, bad and very ugly) and the provider one person has found to be their savior, someone else has a horrid tale to tell. I chose Amazon because I could do both an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing as well as a print version using CreateSpace. For a small fee ($25) you can also opt for the expanded distribution, which includes the retail catalogues as well as Barnes & Noble.

I hired a designer to do the cover design as well as the interior layout. It was important to me that my book look as good as any other you’d pull off the shelves of a bookstore. I did the Kindle layout myself (which was a bit frustrating) and found out as I uploaded my print layout to CreateSpace that they would have taken care of the Kindle version for me! Live and learn. While you’re trudging through all of these machinations you also have to be thinking about your marketing plan and having it ready to launch when your book goes live. With self-publishing you’re responsible for everything!

What type of audience do you feel your book would appeal to?

Mental Pause appeals to mostly women, probably 35 and older, who are approaching menopause (or who have watched their moms go through it), are in the midst of it or who have already experienced it. I think some men who are open-minded might enjoy it as well as it explains a lot about something that can be very mysterious that most people don’t want to talk about. Aside from that, it would appeal to anyone who likes a good mystery/courtroom drama interspersed with a chuckle or two. As one reviewer said, “I don't even know how to place this in a genre so I'm having to split it as a Crime Drama/Family/Mystery/Chic...it's a weird combo but it works.”

How did you market your book?

Marketing a book never ends so it’s an ongoing process. Some of the elements I’ve included in my marketing plan include a virtual book/blog tour (which included author interviews and guest posts), launch announcements via email, a blog specific to the book where I shared chapter excerpts each week for the 10 weeks leading up to the launch, a Mental Pause book page on my website, a Facebook page, Facebook ad campaign (and other assorted social media), pitch letters to book clubs, a book signing/launch party (coming up in my hometown), press release and pitching to select media (ongoing), Amazon author page, entry in awards programs and submissions to online book lists (like Galley Cat, Good Reads and Shelfari) for example!

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Do at least one thing every day!

What books have influenced you the most?

Books have played a big part in my life from a very young age and it’s hard to say which ones have influenced me the most.

What book are you reading now?

I tend to read several books at once but the two at the top of the pile right now are A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and The Thinking Tank by Jae De Wylde.

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing (either for clients or myself) I hang out with my husband, watch movies, walk on the beach, read, do yoga, travel or visit with friends.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to keep on writing and have two novels underway as well as a couple of travel books and maybe another 10 Steps to… hand book.

Where can people buy your book?

Mental Pause is available in print and eBook formats at Amazon and in print at Barnes & Noble. You can also request a signed PDF from my website at www.shop.globalwritingsolutionsonline.com.

Anne's first book "@Home in Dubai", available from Amazon in print and eBook formats, offers a wonderfully chatty insight into the 'hows, whys and wherefores' of living in Dubai.


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