Ending the year with good news!

Season’s greetings!

With everyone winding down now for a well-deserved break, some by the fire and some on the beach, I am humbled to announce three pieces of great news for my writing.

Firstly, “A Life Singular – Part One” has been judged a Notable Indie Book in the 2014 Shelf Unbound Writing Competition (http://issuu.com/shelfunbound/docs/shelf_unbound_december-january_2015), and I have the badge to prove it!Badge notable

Secondly, I was privileged to feature on the Books of Excellence radio show hosted by Bonnie Kaye in Philadelphia.  The interview can be heard at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonnie-kaye/2014/12/15/books-of-excellence-with-author-bonnie-kaye

And thirdly, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by Tim Knox of Interviewing Authors:

http://interviewingauthors.com/lorraine-pestell-fictionalizing-cause-affect-depression/

All in all, another interesting year!

I wish you all a happy and safe festive season, however and wherever you celebrate!

All I want for Christmas is to change the way people think

Well, I don’t know about you, but I find the holiday season incredibly stressful and a wee bit overrated.  I don’t subscribe to any particular religion, although I was brought up attending a Methodist church in north-west London.  Consequently, I have always felt like a hypocrite when participating in Christmas festivities, particularly carol concerts which are an annual and very satisfying chance to flex my vocal chords!

choir

However, as we whip at lightning speed through December and hurtle past the last posting date for cards and gifts to arrive in the UK from Australia before Christmas Eve, I find the scourge of parking a trek away from my local shopping centre and standing in good-humoured but lengthy queues at cash registers all a little pointless, to be frank.

Which brings me to my Christmas wish…

Last week, the company I work for published the results of its annual Employee Opinion Survey, designed to be a barometer for how the staff is feeling about working there.  This year’s results revealed – between the lines – that good leadership is hard to find.  These people feel neglected, mistreated, undervalued…  (I could go on, quoting from the 15 pages of comments appended to the circulated analysis).

I was not in the least surprised about this, since leading teams successfully is one of the few things I will openly admit to being good at, and I lay the “blame” squarely at the feet of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Though it pains me to admit it, being a victim of domestic violence and other emotional abuse has turned me into a much better person.

Our survey showed that only a small number of this year’s critical opinions were related to remuneration, office facilities or even job content.  The vast majority cited impacts on employees’ mental health in some way or other to be the most serious impediment to their job satisfaction.

What a terrible shame!  And how cheap and easy this would be to fix!!  Why don’t we all just try being nicer to each other?

Two weeks ago, Phil Hughes, an Australian test cricketer approaching his 26th birthday, passed away after being struck by a ball bowled perfectly legally during a Sheffield Shield match.  A freak accident, the force of the ball hitting the side of his neck severed an artery, and he lost consciousness, never to wake.  Our sport-loving nation was paralysed by this tragedy, and we witnessed an outpouring of grief for the family, coupled with unswerving support for the poor bowler from whose hand the fated leather missile had spun.

PH

In the aftermath of this awful loss in the lead-up to Christmas and at the beginning of the cricket season down-under, everybody appeared to become unfailingly nice to each other.  People suddenly began to treat their fellow human with compassion; with the respect we all deserve and how they would choose to be treated should roles be reversed.

But why must it take a tragedy to bring out the best in us?

With over 350 million people in the developed world suffering from some form of depressive illness at any one time (according to World Health Organisation statistics), the burden of mental illness would be significantly lighter for all of us if we were simply to treat each other more kindly.  If we all were to speak up in defence of our co-workers, family or friends when faced with discrimination, bullying or other abuses of power, we might be able to prevent a whole slew of mental health damage from developing into insidious, debilitating, life-long scars.

This is why I became a writer.  Pure and simple.  I would love to look back on my life and think that my books may have helped bring about a happier and more harmonious world.  In the “A Life Singular” serial, my protagonist makes this exact goal his mission.

Can we, I wonder?  Father Christmas, are you listening?

Working with a publicist for the first time – both exciting and daunting!

Apologies for my absence of late.  Hope everyone’s well and gearing up for either a hot or a cold festive season :-)

Aussie Father Christmas

One of several reasons for neglecting my blog is that I’ve invested time and money into a real, honest-to-goodness publicity campaign.  After e-shopping around a few US-based book promotion sites, I went back to my first choice, Authoright (http://www.Authoright.com), because they were the only company that offered a single, co-ordinated campaign across both the UK and the US.

Social media for indie authors is great for meeting other authors, some of whom may become readers, but attracting Facebook likes and Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily equate to generating sales!  I’ve been involved on the periphery of a few advertising and marketing campaigns at work, so decided to commit a lump of scarce resource and back my messed-up, introverted self for a change :-)

Well, what a ride so far!  Two weeks in to an 8-week campaign, working with two highly professional, friendly and encouraging book publicists has completely taken the focus off my writing.  Since I had already fallen behind schedule for “A Life Singular – Part Four” and have shifted my self-imposed deadline to March next year, I am managing (almost) to handle the stress of halted progress!

In my first week, Kate Appleton in London managed to secure me a spot in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, which has an online readership of 175 million per month!  On the other side of the Atlantic, Diana Rissetto has successfully placed me with a couple of well-patronised book blogging sites and is targeting several more specific to my serial’s themes.

Which leads me to the “daunting” part…

What’s that old saying?  “If it bleeds, it leads,” I seem to remember.  When I wrote my biography for Authoright’s initial questionnaire, I had a fair idea that journalists might want to delve into the more painful aspects of my background.  This is why I’m writing, after all.

However, despite Kate’s careful hints that mainstream media might come across as heartless by focussing more on my own story than on the books I’m trying to promote, I have been somewhat distressed by the intrusive nature of their questions, looking to name and shame particular individuals, etc.  While doing this would secretly give me an intense amount of guilty pleasure, I have always thought public humiliation for acts which have gone for years without punishment was only stooping to their level.

For someone whose goals are to bring a positive message through my writing – i.e. to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and find success, and more importantly to encourage non-sufferers to understand, tolerate, support and even love us in our quest to live “normal” lives – I hardly wanted to spread my own negative experiences in such gory, gruesome detail.

It has been difficult to dredge up past experiences which I’ve buried so well that I barely recall their detail, inducing panic attacks while on the telephone to journalists and keeping me awake for hours as to the potential consequences.  Even though I managed to convince them that I’m not interested in revealing actual names, it is still frightening to wonder who has the power to make connections…

Oh, well…  I agreed to run the campaign, therefore I need to accept whatever it conjures up.  Hopefully it’s a big boost in sales and nothing more!  That would be awesome.

I Just Published my Book. Now What?

Lorraine Pestell:

The generosity of some independent authors to their fellows is unending. Thanks, Nicholas Rossis, for these insights on raising our profile.

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksFirst of all, congratulations! You’re now a published author – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Second, you’d be amazed how often I hear that question in LinkedIn’s author groups. With some 3,000 new books published every day, I have serious doubts that you can just sit back and wait for readers to stumble on your book, or for word of mouth to work its magic. The chances of that happening are probably similar to that of winning the lottery, in which case you don’t even need the long hours and hard work that goes hand-in-hand with a career as an author (if you don’t believe me, you may want to check out this post by Pedro Barrento on Indies Unlimited).

So, what are the next steps after publication? Before I can answer that, I need to ask one question of my own first: is this your first book? You see…

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Focus on Australian Women Writers with Disability: Q&A with Kate Richards

Lorraine Pestell:

Here is a great post about a fellow Australian author battling long-term mental health issues and having the courage to write about it. Kate Richards’ goals are similar to mine, and it’s comforting to know there are others out there! Thanks to the Australian Women Writers blog and to Kate for encouraging us all into her complex world.

Originally posted on Australian Women Writers Challenge:

For some people, courage means leaping out of muddy trenches and running headlong into battle with a rifle, or making a speech with a dry mouth before a crowded auditorium. If you read Kate Richards’ work Madness: a Memoir, you’ll find that courage also means staying alive.

Kate Richards

Photo Credit: Monty Coles

Kate is a trained medical doctor, and for the good part of twenty years she lived with acute psychosis and depression. This meant crippling self-doubt, invasion from cruel voices in her head, frightening dreams and suicide attempts. Despite the destructive facets of her illness, she was still a person who responded to art and the gentleness of cats and nature, and who longed to contribute to society. Eventually, with medication and a trusting relationship with a psychologist, she acknowledged that she had a mental illness, and learnt what was needed to live with it. In her Penguin Specials book,

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Goodreads Giveaway throughout September!

Hello!

I am delighted to announce that I will be running a Goodreads Giveaway in September as part of the launch of “A Life Singular – Part Three”.  Twenty winners will receive e-book copies of Parts One and Two, to be randomly selected at the end of the month.

I also can’t wait to share my first 5* review for Part Three, received today from Destiny Brown on Goodreads:

“Contemporary Romance/Drama with Love & Loss – Captivating and Emotional

A Life Singular Part Three is the third book in the Life Singular Drama.

This is a love story that deals with social issues of today including mental illness and loss of a spouse. It is captivating, yet emotional. Sad yet lovely.

A truly real story that could be taken straight out of today’s newspaper headlines. The story is about a celebrity who is writing his autobiography of the love of his life, his loss and their memories together.

Highly recommended, Captivating Read!!”

It’s so encouraging to receive reviews, so I’m diving straight back into Part Four right now!

Thank you, Destiny Brown, and thanks to anyone else who might like to read my serial and leave a review.

Best wishes from the first day of the southern hemisphere Spring :-)