Posts Tagged ‘Other Side of the River’

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

-Nelson Mandela

It’s done! Yes, Sir / Ma’am.


My first self-published title is available on amazon in e-book and print. Here’s the cover shot. Love the work by Fred Koop Design.

I’d like to say I now know how to format and upload, so the road will be easier next time. However…this time I copied my files from Scrivener, my writing program, to docx and then pdf for print, and to mobi for Kindle (I used Calibre to convert my docx to mobi). That was a stretch!

Next time I want to learn how to properly export the formatted files directly from Scrivener. So it will take a bit of time to figure this out, but once I do, it will save a number of steps in the process, and I can save the settings.

Just so you know, I have enrolled my book in the Kindle Select program, so it will be exclusive to Kindle for the next 90 days. After that, I will be free to upload it for Nook, Kobo and iBooks.

I’m very happy with the outcome of the book, but now I need to let others know. I’d long thought of starting an email list, but I didn’t even know how to begin. I thought it was the same as the list of people who follow my blog. Wrong.

The right way to begin is before the book is out. I didn’t do it that way, of course. But I wanted to learn how to make the email list work, so I took a free online course by Bryan Harris and jumped in with both feet. I made up a brief email note and sent it to every person on my contact list that could be even remotely interested. I asked if they would like to receive email updates about my indie publishing adventure. If so, they could send me their best email address and I would send them a link to my free e-book.

Important Point: You cannot use an email address to sell or give away product, or to send out advertising or blogs, without the express permission of the individual. That’s why even if you know the email address, you have to ask you for it before adding it to your email list.

I should have (famous last words) sent this ad campaign through Mailchimp, with which I have an account. I didn’t. Then the replies began to arrive and I was overwhelmed for several days, trying to keep track of who I had contacted, who had responded, and who had been sent the second email with the link to my free e-book. It was the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice Syndrome.” But that was only my first mistake.

I tend to make spectacular mistakes instead of small, neat ones. I realized, after I’d sent out the link to my free e-book, that it was only free to Kindle Unlimited users (who pay $9.99 or so a month for membership). Now what?

I called KDP in a panic and the rep said, “I think we can help you.” What a relief. I could set my book at no cost for 5 days. I did that immediately and that problem was solved.

And so the journey continues. The expectation of email list building is that you get 100 subscribers in a week, 1000 in three months, and 10,000 in ten months. Forgive me if I don’t have enough faith. But I’ll keep pursuing this at my own speed and see where it takes me. After all, I have a sequel to edit and format and upload…

I encourage any of you who wish to go independent that yes, you can do it. Keep at it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are always solutions to problems.

Till next time, all the best with your self-publishing journey.

NOTE: If you don’t know the difference between docx and pdf, between epub and mobi; if you have never heard of Calibre or Scrivener or Mailchimp, do not despair. You can learn. Take another look at Mandela’s quote at the top of this article.

Scrivener is my absolute favorite writing tool/program. It’s inexpensive (I paid $40 USD a few years ago) and it’s user friendly. I took two online courses, one for general Scrivener use and one for Scrivener compile, and have all the notes. Read more about it HERE and on my blog from January 27, 2015.




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“Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a short cut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that.”

Zoe Winters, Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author

A short-cut?

A short-cut?

Indeed! But, as I’ve mentioned before, this is an adventure. (Bilbo Baggins’ definition of adventure, paraphrased: Adventure is a nasty thing that makes you late for supper.)

Since my last Indie-related blog on March 8th, there’s been a bit more water under the fridge bridge.

* I have completed my manuscript edits for Other Side of the River, including a painstaking review in “non-printing character” mode (on my MacWord there is a backwards P (known as a Pilcrow or paragraph mark) at the top of the Word page. It shows me where all the spaces, returns, indents and page/section breaks are).

I also spent many nasty hours trying to figure out how to make my footers and headers engage independently, and although I’m still not clear on this step, I managed to get page numbers to show up on every page while having different odd and even headers.

Thanks to Ruth Snyder who suggested using Master Pages, and Pat Gerbrandt who consulted a family member and offered feedback.

I am consistently humbled by the people who go out of their way to help other writers. I’m also thankful to those non-tech people who listened, albeit with glazed eyes, as I described my formatting challenges.

Professional services are beyond my price range at the moment, and these services do not set out to train authors to do their own interior formatting. Rather, they offer fee-based services. And who can blame them?

But enough of the format fiasco.

* Bottom line is that my book uploaded to CreateSpace without any glitches. As soon as the cover arrives in my inbox, I will upload that as well. I would add that the CreateSpace method of creating a print book isn’t too difficult to follow. Once successfully uploaded, my virtual book allowed me to page through it, making sure all my front and back matter appeared on the proper pages (recto/verso).

News Flash: If you are a Canadian using CreateSpace, you no longer need to apply for an EIN tax ID number. Simply fill out the non-U.S. form for a W-8BEN, which is part of the sign-up, and include your SIN number. That’s it!

Another Note: If your sole address is a box number, as mine is, fill in the Permanent Residence box with your physical land description instead. Your box number can be used in the Mailing Address section. Then keep a copy of the form for when you fill out the same thing at Kindle Direct Publishing! No reason to completely re-invent the wheel.

* The next step for me has been to sign up with KDP and re-create the adventure to format my e-book versions. This will require a few more Youtube videos and referral to notes from Janet Sketchley and Valerie Comer, but I think I’ll mange, with a little bit (or a lot) of help from my friends.

* Another essential element of this adventure is to choose keywords/phrases, and then write a book description that features these keywords, if at all possible. An excellent resource for keywords and Search Engine Optimization is C.S. Lakin’s blog, Live Write Thrive. I’d recommend this site for anything from writing to editing to marketing. Suzanne also offers classes, for a fee. If you have the budget for it, sign up.

* I think the best takeaway I can leave you with today is that although self-publishing is not a short-cut to getting our work out there in the big wide world, it is an excellent route.

It is doable (read: if I can do it, anyone can).

It is affordable, as long as you take time to consider what you can do yourself and what you definitely need someone to do for you. Since I don’t possess a single visual arts skill, I could not manage my own covers.

It is easier the second time around. I’m counting on this! I’ve taken copious notes on this process to make the next book format adventure more straightforward.

Until next month, keep your fingers on the keys and don’t give up. The end result will be worth all the work.



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Thanks to Gio and the G-Zone for another opportunity to talk about writing in general and my writing in particular. This being my second radio interview, I cannot claim innocence as to my expectations regarding a live conversation.

One strives to remain calm and alert, to use clear and concise terms to express oneself, to say what needs to be said. And as with anything “live,” an interview is full of surprises. I hope I have conveyed my ideas clearly in this audio interview. Enjoy and pass it along if you see fit.


Here’s the link:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gelatisscoop/2014/08/20/janice-l-dick-other-side-of-the-river



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The Other Side of The River

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

Western Siberia, 1926. Daniel Martens and Luise Letkemann, with their fellow Mennonites, struggle to maintain faith and biblical values within the tightening grip of the Stalinist regime. Luise has great hopes for her future—including marriage to Daniel—but as the political situation in the Soviet Union deteriorates and the Mennonites become targets for persecution, she sees her dreams slipping away. In light of the changes happening around her,Luise is forced to re-evaluate her plans and make some life-altering decisions.

Want to connect on social media with me?
My website/bloghttps://janicedick.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @JaniceDick54
Amazon Author Pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Janice-L.-Dick/e/B001KIAKLK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 

author photoAbout Me: Janice Dick began writing intentionally in 1989. Her historical trilogy was released in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the first two books winning First Place in the Canadian Christian Writing Awards, and the third being shortlisted for the same. Besides writing historical fiction, she has also crafted devotionals, inspirational pieces and book reviews, and put in many hours of editing, mentoring, and speaking (workshops, presentations, readings). Her first contemporary fiction manuscript awaits either publication or extensive revision, and a new historical fiction series was just released (October 2013).

Janice was born and raised in southern Alberta, Canada into an ethnic Mennonite farm family. She was blessed with a loving and stable childhood, and lots of relatives who told stories of Russia, emigration and early life in Canada. After graduating from high school, Janice attended Bible college in Saskatchewan, where she met her future husband. They moved to a farm in central Saskatchewan after their marriage and raised three children there. They are now grandparents to ten amazing kids. 

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It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you my latest historical novel, Other Side of the River. It has been releasing in installments for several months, and now that the installments are all out, it has been released as a complete e-book by Helping Hands Press.

The Complete E-book

The Complete E-book



Western Siberia, 1926. As the Mennonite people struggle to maintain their faith and values, the Stalinist regime spreads its jaws to consume even its most remote citizens. 

In the midst of threat and uncertainty, Luise Letkemann and Daniel Martens plan their future. When Daniel realizes the consequences of unrestrained temper, Luise is forced to make life-changing decisions. Will they ever see each other again in the land of the living? Is there peace on the other side of the river?

The print copy is currently being compiled—I just okayed the format and full jacket—so it should be available shortly. I will be in touch.

If you prefer the digital format, please click on the title:  Other Side of the River.

  • File Size: 1091 KB
  • Print Length: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Helping Hands Press (June 18, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L4L9SPM

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This post is designed for “My Process Blog Hop” hosted by Travis Perry http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/2014/03/sharing-my-writing-process-experiment.html, which I’ve joined with several other authors.

My Works-in-ProgressRiver 6

  1.  The project taking most of my focus right now is my historical novel Other Side of the River, which is coming out in installments—volumes—as a Kindle and Kobo read. Six volumes are out, three more to go. I wrote this story a couple of years ago, but am now dividing it into segments, each with its own sub-title.
  2.  On the organize-and-edit plate is my partially completed sequel to River.
  3.  I recently signed a contract to collaborate with a number of other authors on a historical series, but it hasn’t started yet. I have a Scrivener folder earmarked for this project with and filled with as much info as I can scrounge up without knowing the specifics.
  4.  Besides the historicals, I have a cozy mystery that’s been sitting impatiently on my computer, awaiting publication. I’m currently going through it with my local writing group and appreciate their critique.
  5.  My blogsite is another project that’s always underway. Until late last fall, www.janicedick.com was a wasteland hardly anyone ever ventured into. However, due to a push from my publisher, I’ve been putting more time, energy and creativity into my site, with positive results.
  6.   Recently, thoughts came to mind for another historical series. I’ve been planting seeds for this story in my Scrivener folders, and have experienced some sleepless nights thinking about all the elements that need to be figured out.

How Does My Work Differ from Others in its Genre?

My published historicals—Calm Before the Storm, Eye of the Storm and Out of the Storm—are based on family history from the Russian Revolution era, so I have access to family documents, letters, diagrams, maps and drawings, as well as incidents and themes that spark the writing.

My current historicals loosely follow the real experiences of a young man in Manchuria who finds himself and his family caught in a country in the midst of drastic change—for the worse. Truth is stranger than fiction, so I use fictionalize the truth to fit it into the required novel elements. I think this true personal angle adds a unique perspective to the books.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I grew up hearing stories of times in southern Russia, a once-bountiful land spoiled by war and political greed (sound familiar?). The tales teased my imagination, as did reading classics like War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, etc.; and watching movies like Nicholas and Alexandra. When I came upon the documentation mentioned earlier, I felt the time had come to convey these stories of faith under pressure in story form, because that’s how some of us learn best.

My contemporary cozy is a fun attempt at mystery writing, because I love to read mysteries, especially gentle ones.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Some days I wish I knew. I long ago switched from pen and paper to keyboard, whether for better or worse. I’m always fighting with my internal editor, since I am (she is) somewhat OCD, but I take comfort in the fact that there is no right way to write.

I need an outline, a general idea of how the story will be set out. It may not follow the outline, but I need a realistic goal. If I don’t have that, I feel I waste a lot of time writing things that will never fit.

I use Scrivener to write my books, so I begin by filling Research files, Character and Setting Templates. There will always be more research to do as I go along, and many adjustments, but I need to start by knowing something about the time, place, political situation, world events, etc. I have to find the mood of the piece.

There are numerous rewrites and edits, the earlier ones resembling a bland soup where I almost throw it down the drain, only to realize that this has happened before and will eventually work out. What’s required is a lot of muddling, organizing, messing around with index cards and lists and story/character arcs. Then a printout.

Then it’s back to the grind of re-reading and editing, going through the manuscript many times with a specific goal each time: character arcs, spicing up word usage, literary devices and symbols, consistency of facts, and so on. And eventually I have something I feel good about. Then more polish, and deciding when it’s done.

Why do I keep doing this day after day? Because I can’t not do it. My name is Janice and I’m a writer.


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blog-hop-for-writers imageMy favorite genre is historical fiction. Of course, if you know me you might expect me to say that since I’ve read scads of them and have had three complete historical novels published, as well as one being released in installments (shameless self-promotion here).
River volume 4

However, I also love reading mysteries such as Anne Perry’s Victorian series (William Monk / Charlotte and Thomas Pitt), The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache stories. I could list countless others (Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books are another example), but these are books I read. I have yet to publish a mystery of my own, although I am currently editing a cozy mystery.

That brings me to another favorite genre: cozies. If you are unfamiliar with the term “cozy,” it is a subgenre of the mystery category in which violence is limited and mostly off-stage (my own definition). Something you can curl up with on a dark and stormy night without subsequent nightmares ensuing.

Speaking of genres, I recently read a great romance set in Scotland that made me want to hop on a plane to Skye to see the place for myself. Thanks to Carla Laureano for the experience. So although I don’t usually read dedicated romance novels, this one provided a lovely balance of character, plot and setting to keep me hooked from the beginning.

I also have a dear friend who writes gripping Christian suspense, which is a good balance to some of my other reading. Janet Sketchley’s Heaven’s Prey is a recommended read, but I couldn’t write suspense either.

Sometimes we all need a good belly laugh, a book that will make us forget our troubles. I love to read humor, but it’s a challenge to write.

So if I was forced to reveal my favorite genre, I would have to say, “yes!”  To all the above and more. Fiction has “food groups” and I like to have a balanced diet. I think it’s important for readers and writers to read widely. As they say: so many books; so little time.

my library photo

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blog-hop-for-writers imageOur assignment for the third post of our Blog Hop is to write a character sketch of “My Hero.” If I were to write about my real life hero, it would be my dad, who modeled for me a life well-lived. However, I’ve chosen to stay with the writing theme, so I will introduce to you one of my favorite story characters, who plays an active role in my fourth historical novel, Other Side of the River. (Character sketch template from Scrivener.)

Character Name:  Tante Manya

Role in Story:  Manya is the great aunt of my main character, Luise. She is my pacing character in this story, allowing for a break in tension when it’s needed. She is known by Luise and her father, Abram, as Tante Manya.   

Occupation:  Manya is an elderly woman who lives alone but helps out in her nephew’s home when needed.    

Physical Description & Personality: This is how Luise thinks of Tante Manya: “She was old, Tante Manya, had been old as long as Luise could remember. Papa said she had been old when he was a boy, but when his own mother passed away, her sister Manya had become a second mother to him, and he loved her fiercely and forever. To Luise, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The kerchief tied beneath her chin cradled a toothless smile between weathered-apple cheeks, and framed frost-blue eyes that sparkled with wit and warmth.”

Photo Credit Gerald Hildebrand. Appeared in Witness Magazine July 2004.

Photo Credit Gerald Hildebrand. Appeared in Witness Magazine July 2004.

Habits/Mannerisms:  Tante Manya moves slowly because of her age and arthritis, but her mind is quick. She picks up on the finer nuances between the people around her, and although she speaks her mind, she does so in love. An example of her directness is found here:  “Luise sighed and kept her eyes closed. ‘Tante Manya, I don’t wish to talk of it now.’ /  ‘Of course you don’t. Move over so I can sit down. I am too old to stand here while you feel sorry for yourself.’

Background:  Manya’s father died young, so she and her mother (and a sister) developed a deep love and understanding for each other as they carried on together. However, when Manya’s mother decided to remarry, Manya was angry with her. Almost for spite, she also married, although she and her husband loved each other very much. After a six-month marriage, her husband was killed in an accident and she was left to mourn. She refused comfort until her stepfather brought her home again, and he and her mother nursed her back to physical and emotional health. When her sister died leaving a young son, Abram, Manya took him in as her own. He would eventually marry and become the father of Luise. (Some of Manya’s backstory comes out in Volume 4 of Other Side of the River.)

Internal Conflicts:  Manya faces many internal conflicts, including well-hidden fears of the swiftly changing political situation. At her age, she knows she cannot bear too many physical challenges, yet she chooses to be thankful for what she has and to trust God with her fears. In her wisdom, she has learned to be less judgmental and more accepting of other people, so she allows them to be who they are. Manya puts the good of others before herself, thus making sacrifices that reflect a deep love of her family and commitment to God.

External Conflicts:  As she ages, Manya feels her body giving out on her. Her arthritic hands can no longer knead and shape bread, she cannot carry babies or withstand physical strain as she once did. However, she does what she can, mostly giving moral and spiritual support to her family and friends, and often easing an otherwise tense situation with wry humor. Considering the situations she has faced and continues to face in her life, she has proven to be very resilient. She needs this resilience to withstand the extreme circumstances in which she finds herself in the story set in Soviet Russia circa 1930.

Notes:  Shortly after beginning The Other Side of the River, I came across a photo in my denominational magazine of an elderly woman standing under a cherry tree. Her clothing consists of a grey and white flowered skirt, a purple sweater, a blue apron, black stockings covered by heavy grey socks, men’s slippers and a white kerchief tied beneath her chin. She is leaning on a crooked walking stick, her hands large and work-worn, but the smile on her face captured me from the first moment I saw her. The woman in the picture, whom I named Tante Manya, became my picture of the character in my novel. I believe the woman is from Molochansk, Ukraine, from the title of the accompanying article, “The Last Mennonite Widow of Molochansk.” (Mennonite Brethren Herald, July 2004.)

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author photoWell, this has been an unexpected blast! When my new publisher at Helping Hands Press encouraged all his authors to get on the social media bandwagon, I almost despaired. I’ve been on Facebook for a while, thanks to my daughters’ urgings, but that’s it. It’s been an uphill climb, to be sure, and at times a frustrating and bumpy one, but I’ve now managed to make a nuisance of myself on Twitter, Tweetdeck, Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GooglePlus and a couple more, not to mention a blog blitz on my website.

The blog blitz surprised even me. I began by featuring one author, as suggested by Mr. G, and since it wasn’t too difficult, I tried it again the next day. Here is a list of my December features:

December 6:    My Fiction Writing 101—#3—Genre

December 8:    Patti Smith (Helping Hands Press – HHP – author)

December 9:    Sheila Lagrand (HHP)

December 9:    Book review of The Roman’s Quest by Anne Baxter Campbell

December 10:  Andy McKell (HHP)

December 11:  Joy Ross Davis (HHP)

December 12:  Amber Schamel (HHP)

December 13:  Life intervened—not superstitious; it was my dear hubby’s birthday.

December 14:  Jeanette Hanscome (HHP)

December 15:  Linda Wood Rondeau (HHP)

December 16:  Linda Wegner (a dear friend, author and technical writer)

December 17:  Marsha Hubler (HHP)

December 18:  Mishael Witty (HHP)

December 19:  David Stearman (HHP)

December 20:  My Christmas blog (previously featured on Ruth L. Snyder’s website)

December 21:  To The New Year

Now I plan to take a break for a bit until the new year arrives. My aim (dangerous to put it out there, I know) is to tweak my approach to about once a week and include more author sites and interviews, as well as continuing my Fiction Writing 101 posts (otherwise I won’t be able to continue my fiction writing).

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope each of you will consider the Reason for the Season—Jesus, our Saviour—and let Him lead you into 2014.

Now I’m off to bake a few more kinds of cookies and prepare myself and my house for the sweet chaos of our three kids, their spouses and ten lively grandchildren. And maybe a few more guests along the way.

God bless,


Note of interest:  The third volume of my e-book, Other Side of the River—Tempered Sorrows—is set to release around December 19, so please stay tuned.

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If you’ve started following the journeys of Luise Letkemann and Daniel Martens, you won’t want to miss this second installment: Other Side of the River Volume 2.

Other Side of the River —Volume Two — When All Seems Lost

Other Side of the River —Volume Two — When All Seems Lost

Other Side of the River – Part 2 – When All Seems Lost

         Besides dealing with escalating oppression from the Stalinist regime, Luise Letkemann must deal with problems in her own family. Her stepmother’s failing health and Daniel’s forced absence combine to create a tension greater than Luise has ever experienced. She maintains her equilibrium with the help of Tante Manya’s listening ear and wise advice, but how will she be able to choose between her love for her family and her love for Daniel?

 Look for Volume 3 — Tempered Sorrows — in the near future.

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