Interview of Jo-Anne Vandermeulen by Rhonda Rowe
Yorkton This Week Newspaper
"I enjoyed feeling the characters become real in all forms--physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. Their personalities developed and grew as the story unfolded."
The road to becoming a published author is not an easy one and for
many, the dream never becomes a reality.
Jo-Anne Vandermeulen is someone who has walked that road and seen just
what it takes to go from the dream state to reality. It takes more than
just a simple desire to write to get things rolling and off the ground.
“I always wanted to write,” Vandermeulen commented, “but never had
time.” As a busy mother of two, a full-time teacher and after school
coach, there just weren’t enough hours in a day.
“I taught for 20 years,” said Vandermeulen. “Teaching was my life and
I never really thought about doing anything else.”
All that changed in the spring of 2006, when Vandermeulen began to feel
extremely lethargic and generally unwell.
“I had no concentration and was losing my memory and was suffering from
chronic fatigue,” she said.
Almost overnight Vandermeulen went from being an extremely active
person, involved in everything, to sitting at home on her couch.
“I went to the Doctor on a Wednesday and I was out of class by Friday.”
The diagnosis: Fibromyalgia.
Vandermeulen said it was very hard to go from being such an active
person, to not being able to function normally.
With a lot of time to be alone with her thoughts, Vandermeulen
mentioned that “Circumstances lead me to say, ‘I’m going to write.’”
And that is exactly what she did.
With more than enough time on her hands and limited energy,
Vandermeulen found this to be the perfect opportunity for her to dust
off her dream to write.
Seventeen days after making her decision to write, she penned the final
words to her first book, “Dare to Start Over,” an inspirational
Romance, in September 2006.
“I sent letters to New York, etc,” said Vandermeulen, informing agents
of her book. “Agents wanted to see partials and full manuscripts.”
Secular agents suggested that she try Christian agencies, but
Vandermeulen was turned down by them, because her plots were ‘too
Vandermeulen continued to write and completed a trilogy, taking out the
Christian element and then went back to the secular agents with her
145,000 word edition of the three books in one called, “On Guard.”
“Kensington Publishing granted me a seven minute pitch to promote ‘On
Guard’, “said Vandermeulen, adding that this was a key step towards
“But, it’s who you know,” she said commenting that eight months later,
she received notice that her book as not accepted for publication.
“I also pitched the book to Catherine Lyre, of Harlequin, in Toronto,”
said Vandermeulen, but again, disappointment.
“I must have applied to 800 agents,” Vandermeulen recalled.
The book is now, ‘under her bed’, a term used by authors to indicate
that it has been shelved as a non-published item.
But disappointment did not deter Vandermeulen.
She learned a lot from her initial experiences as an author trying to
get her work published, and decided to keep learning and writing.
“I entered contests like crazy. Judges would give their input and I
also read anything on the craft of writing.” Vandermeulen also took
online workshops and would spend days in the resource section of the
library reading anything pertaining to writing.
In September of 2009, her determination, self-directed study and hard
work paid off. Vandermeulen became a published author of a work of
fiction, called, “Conquer All Obstacles.”
“It’s a total work of fiction,” said Vandernmeulen, adding that she did
glean some ideas from personal experience, and from people she has
“It’s not a telling book,” she said, “But an action book that is very
Vandermeulen said that she had so much fun writing the book that she
couldn’t wait to see how each character would develop.
“I enjoyed feeling the characters become real in all forms —
physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. Their
personalities developed and grew as the story unravelled.”
Vandermeulen is now promoting her book across the country.
Is this a money making venture? Vandermeulen says ‘No’.
“I have to physically sell 200 books to break even.”
And her dream would be to sell her own books, “But the shipping costs
are too high!”
Shipping costs set aside, one published book in one year is still a
tremendous accomplishment for an author, and Jo-Anne has reached that
goal and is looking forward to releasing a second book.
“People were asking me, ‘Can I buy your book?’ (on Marketing) and I
said, “I don’t have one.” So, Vandermeulen sat down and compiled all
her articles on Marketing and put them into a book format.
“Premium Promotional Tips for Writers” is a work of non-fiction that
Vandermeulen is set to release this month, or you can visit her website
for Free Marketing tips for writers at: www.joconquerobstacles.com.
Vandermeulen’s final words of wisdom, for would be authors, are: “Start
your author platform before you publish, and market yourself.”
Vandermeulen will be signing copies of her book, “Conquer All
Obstacles” at Coles Book Store in Yorkton on Thursday, November 19 from
12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, December 5 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Web Based Apps
2 years ago