Canada Trip, Part 6: The Writer

I had so much fun on my trip to Canada, where I spoke at Doreen Penner‘s women’s conference, Walk Into Your Blessing. I took the Canadian Via train and the U.S. Amtrak train coming back home, and had many divine appointments on the trains. This is part 6 of my Canada Trip Blog Series. You can read part 5 here.

Canada Trip, Part 6: The Writer

I love writing. I’ve been writing since I was a child. I’d write in my diary that had the lock and key so no one could read it, the secrets of my heart like my junior high “crush.” I’d make up fictional, dramatic stories in my mind and write them on white, crisp, school notebook paper on my round-mirror dresser, stuffing them into a drawer, and then yell at my younger sister Maria for violating my privacy when she’d later sneak into my bedroom and read the stories. Today she is one of my biggest writing fans. 🙂

As I shared in Part 2 of this blog series, I told Ray that for my birthday in 2012, all I wanted to do was ride on a long distance train. I wanted to try something new, to savor the experience of having a nice dinner on a train, to take beautiful pictures of the scenery ~ and to write on the train.

I bought a pretty, flowered journal at one of Canada’s Dollaroma stores and wrote in this on the train trips.

My journal on Canada train trip

The man who I wondered if he was an “angel” had advised me to check my luggage before I got on the Amtrak train for Seattle. I’m so glad that I listened to him. I winded up going up and down a lot of stairs to get to the train station.

When I awoke that morning, my plan was to take the bus again to get to the train station. My departure time was 6:55 a.m., and I checked out of the hotel in Vancouver about 5:30 a.m. to get to the train station in plenty of time. But the buses didn’t come to that particular stop by my hotel that early.

Streets of Vancouver, Canada

I was a little nervous standing in the streets as a woman alone in a foreign city, especially Vancouver, but I knew the cab would cost more and I was trying to be frugal. I asked a woman walking by about the buses. She looked at me like I had two heads, and said sharply, “The buses don’t run this early. Walk just a couple of blocks that way and you’ll find the Sky Train station.”

I prayed walking down the dark streets of Vancouver. It was quiet and a little unnerving. I went inside a building, and asked for directions to get to the station. When you listen to too many voices, you become confused. This is what I’ve shared with my coaching clients. Listen to God’s voice and maybe one or two good mentors, whom you trust, in order to succeed.

The morning was stressful and hectic. Finally two security guards told me how to get to where I needed to go. I took the Canadian Sky Train Waterfront, then the Sky Train to Main Street. The Sky Train is like a subway above the streets.

Some of the escalators weren’t working in the buildings to get to the Sky Trains, so I had to carry (lift) my luggage.  At one point, I was almost crying from the adrenaline and the stress of hurrying to get to the Amtrak train station on time.

At the hotel, I had lightened my load, throwing away a book, some lotions, and other unnecessary things. I had tried to pack light for this trip, but I still had too much with me. Next time I am packing much lighter!  I also realized that me being overweight was slowing me down a lot. What do you need to let go of in order to run this race more freely? What is hindering or stopping you from your purpose?

Amtrak train cab attendant

My second divine appointment: the writer

When I boarded the Amtrak train going from Vancouver to Seattle, I found that we were assigned seats (on the Via train, you could sit where you liked). There were two seats on each side of the train. The older man I sat next to was wearing a dress shirt, slacks, and nice shoes. He looked like a business man, and was reserved, like he just wanted to be left alone and not talk. In fact, he even requested another seat! (How insulting! But maybe he didn’t want to tell his wife that he’d been sitting next to a beautiful woman on the train, right? 🙂 )

The cab attendant told him that all seats were assigned. I was amused and wanted to add Divinely Assigned, but was quiet. After awhile, to break the ice, he began a conversation with small talk, saying that he had made this trip from Vancouver to Seattle many times.

When I told him that I was a writer and a speaker, his eyebrow raised and he said, “You’re a writer?” I could tell he was immediately interested. He said he was a writer, too. At this point, I knew it was a God thing. He wrote children’s stories, dabbled in science fiction (Ray would love that!), and had some ideas for a non-fiction book.

White Rock Beach

[Above is the ocean at White Rock Beach, which we rode by on the Amtrak Train. White Rock Beach is in British Columbia, Canada. The community is clustered around a sandy beach and the warm shallow waters of Semiahmoo Bay and is flanked on the south by the Canada/US border and Blaine, Washington. It is famous for a big white rock that weighs 486 tons and is a glacial deposit from the coastal range.]

Why self-publish?

This man then began asking me questions about self-publishing. I shared my writing journey with him, and told him why I’d chosen to self-publish my books vs. traditional publishing. There are pros and cons to both types of publishing.

Traditional publishing can take anywhere from one to two years, and can be difficult to break into without the right connections.

To be honest, it’s STILL my dream to be published by a traditional publisher. Despite the rapid changes in technology making self-publishing easier and the fact that self-publishing doesn’t carry the stigma it used to, traditional publishing does offer a little more credibility for writers, unless you are Amanda Hocking.

(Disclaimer: I’ve never heard of her. I just found her by googling “self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.” She writes books for young adults that are very dark. I don’t get exactly what they are about, even after reading the descriptions on her blog, but have titles like Blood. She started out self-publishing three books, but they were re-released internationally, made the USA Today Bestseller List, and were recently optioned for a film.)

Anyway, I shared with this man on the train that I made a decision to self-publish because I felt the message God gave me in writing the books were too important to wait. I didn’t want to go to the grave with my books still inside of me. I’ve written five books. And I believe I have many more books inside of me!

My friend Jim Maher, a great man of God who made such an impact on me and others,  encouraged me to self-publish for this reason (getting your important message out there), as he did his own books before his early death.

I’d submitted some manuscripts and was tired of rejection letters. What if nobody every published me? I wanted to get the books out there into the hands of people so they would know the truth and would be encouraged. I also wanted to physically hold my book, my baby, in my hands! I also wanted to be able to sell a product on back tables whenever I spoke.

Self-publishing gave me the freedom to accomplish my goals.

Self-publishing resources

As a writer, you should do a lot of research to decide whether traditional publishing or self-publishing fits your needs best. For self-publishing, there are a lot of options available to help you get your book or ebook published.

With the Kindle and other Readers, you have even more options to share your message with the world! (You can buy my ebook, Walking With God, in the Kindle edition for just 99 cents on the Kindle by clicking here.)

I encouraged this man to consider self-publishing his books and gave him two excellent resources of POD (Print on Demand) companies to get his book into physical form:

Vervante (my book publisher), who published my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles.

Vervante’s motto is “Our dream is to breathe life into yours.” Love it! They are professional, fast, and efficient. Their customer service is excellent! They also have a graphic artist on staff you can hire to design your book’s front and back covers.

Create Space (whom my friend Karen Wells uses for her books and highly recommends).

You are the expert!

One of the take-aways that I had from this divine appointment was this: Don’t ever feel like you can’t offer others anything and that you can’t possibly be an “expert.” 

You know things others don’t know. You’ve been through experiences that no one else has: childhood abuse, a divorce, a plane crash, poverty, a sick spouse or child, a terrible car accident, miscarriage or abortion, self-publishing a book, winning a trophy in Toastmaster’s even when your visual aid breaks, counseling clients. No one else has your story. That makes YOU the expert!

This was obviously a well-educated businessman. He was intelligent. Yet he was seeking ME out to ask questions about writing and self-publishing.

Why? Because I had experience with it. I had self-published. This made me the “expert.”

You have something to offer others. Shine your light. Give what you have inside to help others.

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