|THE BEGINNING - 2006|
I’m so excited to share my news!
For me, life is wonderful…except for the fact that I miss my girls. But, they’re both doing great, so I’m happy for them (and such a proud Mom). They’re independent young adults—living each day full as possible.
Before I share my great news, here’s some news that brought me where I am today:
In August 2008, I was finally diagnosed. After 28 months of neurological and medical tests, the specialists nailed-down my illness as Fibromyalgia. With this illness, I developed severe depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety and panic attacks. I lost my memory, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t multi-task, and even had trouble hearing. All confidence, flowing like a fast moving brook bubbling up and out of me, drained to silt.
The good news is (since I no longer teach school), I’m removed from the stress, have the freedom to take care of myself, have the time to participate in mental and physical exercise regime, and I can rest whenever needed to make my days comfortable (although not completely pain-free). It’s frustrating that there’s no ‘rhyme or reason’ as to when flares will strike or for how long they’ll last, but I’m learning to cope and go with each day as it comes.
Over the past 3 years (thankfully), I’ve gained about 60% of my strength, and my short and long term memory has recovered. I still tire and get over-stimulated easily, but nothing like how it was. Honestly, losing so many abilities at once was devastating at first. Going from teaching full time to suddenly at home, unable to do the most simplest task was more than discouraging; but, instead of allowing this illness to strike me down, I decided to turn this unexpected illness into a circumstance for opportunity…
I’ve always wanted to write a book (been my dream), but I’ve never had the time. Now I had the time. Lots of time—way too much time on my hands. In August 2006, I wrote my first manuscript. Boom, 17 days later, my dream fulfilled. But, that wasn’t enough for me. Oh no. Now I had a goal which turned out to be my next dream… to publish my book. Yes, and thanks to my illness, I had lots of time to pursue.
In September 2006, I submitted samples (called query and synopsis) of this story. With several dozen positive responses, I went through the next step of publishing “On Guard”. Very soon, like most things in life, I discovered that fulfilling this second dream wasn’t going to be as easy. I had a lot to learn.
Gratefully, Helen Strong (my grade 12 English Teacher and 18 yr. co-worker), led the way. She meticulously edited each chapter, while I studied the craft of fiction writing. Having an English major helped, but my knowledge didn’t expand to include writing a book. Yet, since English was obviously an interest of mine, it didn’t take long for me to dive into the resources with passion.
After I finished writing and polishing, “On Guard”, I submitted queries to hundreds of agents. I received many—and I mean many rejections; but, I did have around 20 agents, who requested partials and even a couple of agents who requested full submissions.
In May 2007, I attended my first writers’ conference in Vancouver. I had the privilege to give a 7 minute pitch of “On Guard” to the Editor of both Kensington Publishing and Harlequin. Kensington wanted to read the full ms. and HQN wanted a partial submission.
After 8 months of waiting (another lesson in life I’ve yet to conquer) for the results, I finally heard back from Kensington and HQN. Both had rejected the book; yet, for them to even consider my book for publication, pushed me forward. From that moment on, I knew I ‘hit the nail on the head’ for me to purse the Status of Authorship.
I tucked “On Guard” under my bed and started a new suspense/romance. Writing a chapter a day, I completed “Conquer All Obstacles” in a month. I then continued the same process as my first manuscript. I knew this book was better. My voice came out naturally. Reading over my chapters, I was amazed at the story. I would say to Randy, “I cannot believe I wrote that.”
Here’s a taste…an excerpt from “Conquer All Obstacles”.
With the economy crash in the States, the major publishing companies hurt. No longer were the agents taking in submissions from aspiring authors. I had to go a different route to get “Conquer All Obstacles” published.
Over the years online, I have acquired thousands of friends and colleagues. This is where I met my editor and publisher, Nancy Williams. Like Helen, she has my book and is making my second dream come true. Currently, she has nearly half of the manuscript edited and has set up the cover and lay-out so it’ll be ready for print. I’m thinking, “Conquer All Obstacles”, will be ready to purchase in the Spring of 2010 (if not earlier).
During my years of research, I’ve learned that marketing a book lies basically in the author’s lap (I knew nothing about promotion). Even before “Conquer All Obstacles” hit the stands, I had to start a blog or a website and begin building an author platform.
In November 2008, I started my first blog called, “Conquer All Obstacles” . Establishing my brand to link with my book title, I knew I had to produce massive exposure, advertising my book—targeting an audience and driving the traffic back to my site where they’d be able to purchase my book. To draw even more attention to my site, I needed to define a niche, where I could give my viewers something valuable.
At that time, my main area of interest circled around the topic of marketing and promotion. As I obsessively dove into the massive resources through the Internet and books, like a fish out of water, I gulped the information, hungry for air. With “Conquer All Obstacles” as my brand, I shared this wealth of knowledge with others. Targeting writers as my audience, they were also starving. Before I knew it, I had 10,000 hits on my “Conquer All Obstacles”site. My Facebook Account took on 4,000 followers, Goodreads – 2,000, and over 20 other social media sites have many thousands of more fans. Altogether, in just the 9 months, I had over 25,000 friends (followers/fans)...and as of 2012, I have close around 1/2 MILLION!
Now, isn’t this remarkable!
It’s through all these friends that I’ve blossomed. Daily, I receive hundreds of supportive comments and I’m able to interact. It’s a real pleasure getting to know my fans. What’s even more amazing is the fact that these relationships are growing. Like a snowball rolling down a steep hill, the numbers of fans are massively increasing.
Suddenly, I had many invitations. The online opportunities expanded. In 2009, I had been labeled as an Expert Blogger and a Professional Marketeer. With this new identity, I’ve: guest blogged, held online seminars, teleconferenced, guest spoke, been interviewed, classified as Feature Author on high-ranked sites, and (in April 2009) I gained Expert Author Status judged through articles that are now published from my “Conquer All Obstacles” blog. After these many recent experiences (and more opportunities offered every day), I’ve gained huge amounts of confidence and many of my Fibro symptoms have subsided.
A total win-win situation!
Not only has my spirits soared from the fans’ support; but also, with this gained status, authors are streaming to me for help. They want my services that meet their marketing needs.
Again, my moral is boosted.
In March 2009, I opened the cyber doors to my new business called Premium Promotional Services . I met my working partner, Brian Knight, online. Together, we created a new business and began offering marketing services for authors.
The response is incredible!
I’ve kept publishing 2 posts a week on my “Conquer All Obstacles” blog, supplying writers with free marketing tips—plus, I have my second site, Premium Promotional Services.
July 1, 2009, I created my 3rd blog called “Jo-Anne Vandermeulen – Journey to Publication”. With a growing interest in my upcoming novel, I needed a site to keep my fans posted.
“Jo-Anne Vandermeulen – Journey to Publication” is an informal site where my fans can read about me. I welcome interaction. If you want to post a comment…please, do so. (I’ve linked the 3 blogs listed above. Just click on the highlighted titles and it will open a new window where you can surf.)
Yet, my exciting news doesn’t stop here…
This Tuesday, July 28th at 11:00am – 11:30am (Saskatchewan time), I’ll be hosting my first live radio show on Blogtalkradio, called Authors Articulating with Jo-Anne and Larry . I really hope you’ll tune in. There’s a call-in number for you and there’s no need to register (347) 857-3752. If the time doesn’t work for you, after the live show, just click on the BTR box (side-widget) on my “Jo-Anne Vandermeulen – Journey to Publication” site. I’ll be uploading a recording of the show for your convenience.
Again, (like Brian and Nancy) I met my radio partner, Larry Brooks, online. He comes very well qualified as my co-host. Larry is a best-selling Thriller Author. He has radio and TV experience. A dynamic speaker, interesting and wonderful guy, whom speaks from the heart—sharing ‘real’ experiences.
Am I nervous? No.
I’m so excited! You know me…I never run out of things to say…lol. I’m thrilled to share how the opportunities keep growing and how much life has changed because of all the friends I’ve met along the way.
I’m so grateful to have you as part of my journey—to share my experiences. Because of you, I’ve regained the confidence I’d lost.
If you’re interested in checking out my 3 sites, here are the direct links:
1.) Premium Promotional Services - *You Write – We Promote*
2.) Conquer All Obstacles - *Marketing Tips for Writers*
3.) Jo-Anne Vandermeulen - *Journey to Publication*
There may be no cure for Fibromylagia, but I know I have a choice. I can wake up each day and let the illness bring me down or I can make the best of each moment with my limitations. While learning to deal with this illness, I’ve learned to ‘go with the flow’, appreciate my friends, and allow myself to bask in the glory of what God has presented in front of me.
Drop me a note, comment on my site, check out my Facebook page and become a fan where there’s direct interaction through constant chats. We’ll keep in touch.
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*You Write – We Promote*
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Jo-Anne Vandermeulen is:
- AUTHOR - A best-selling non-fiction resource and fiction suspense/romance author (Titles: “Premium Promotional Tips For Writers”, “Internet Marketing Made Easy” and “Conquer All Obstacles”) – Click HERE to purchase the book(s).
- BUSINESS OWNER - Founder & Business Operator for Premium Promotional Services – Obliging nearly 400 happy clients (authors) in the 3yrs of business. Click HERE to view the site and interact.
- BLOGGER EXPERT - Online and Digital Social Media & Marketing Expert (Internet Marketing Made Easy) – Supplying daily FREE marketing tips, interviews, podcasts, webseminars, guest blogging, published magazine articles – Click HERE to receive these free tips.
- RADIO - Radio Producer & Host (over 130 archived shows through *Talk Radio Network* Blogtalkradio) – Click HERE to hear these free 30 minute podcasts.
- NEWSPAPER - Editor of “Vandermeulen’s Marketing Directory Newspaper” – Click HERE to subscribe to these Expert Internet Marketing articles.
- ANDROID SMARTPHONE - Smartphone App Developer & Publisher (*Appy Our Publishing*) – Click HERE to educate yourself more on Android Phones and how YOU will benefit with your own app.
*While sizzling with energy, Jo-Anne Vandermeulen is an inspiration for many!*
To Follow Jo-Anne as She Loves To Hear From Followers:
- As the 17th most followed on Goodreads (8 million members), click HERE.
- With over 1/2 million followers on Facebook, click HERE.
- Several thousand on Twitter, click HERE.