Indie Author Day at the Brampton Public Library

On October 8, Virginia and I attended the Indie Author Day event held at the Brampton Public Library. This event started in the United States and on this day, nearly 300 libraries across North America invited thousands of local writers in their communities to join them for a day of celebration and inspiration devoted to indie authors like me.

There were a dozen of us—poetry, non-fiction and fiction writers—all anticipating the chance to share our work at the Four Corners Branch. The library staff has wonderfully and professionally prepared the space for us. Each of us sat behind a desk displaying our books and these simple yet lovely-designed place cards with our names. Our desks surrounded a few rows of audience chairs facing the front where a sturdy dark brown lectern, microphone and projector were ready for author presentations.  Just like a postcard, the backdrop was a wall of windows that displayed magnificent maple trees colourfully smiled under the blue sky 🙂

indie-author-day-october-8-2016

It was a charming set up although only a handful of people showed up. The organizers in the states probably didn’t take into consideration that it was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Yet this somehow did not deter us authors from sharing with the tiny audience and among ourselves. Some amazing spontaneous things happened that day—something that wouldn’t have happened if the crowd had been bigger. We shared our experiences as writers/publishers and these interactions may lead to different workshops that Virginia and I will do in the future to help other Indie authors. It’s amazing how many different publishing ideas are out there!

We took turn to talk about our books and publishing journeys. When it was my turn I told the story I often tell in my workshops. It’s about the word ‘PASSION’—that it is our opportunity to PASS-I-ON whenever we do something with a passion in life and as authors, we have created a wonderful legacy of passing ourselves on forever.

book-signing-indie-author-day-october-8-2016-2

Before we left, Virginia took me by the hand, led me to a shelf and then told me to look down. That was truly something I never thought I would see in my life. When I looked down and there it was: my book on a shelf in the library! Laughingly, of course, I said I’d be happier to know someone had checked it out to read. Truthfully though, I was so very very proud to see my book in the library since getting it into libraries meant that the book’s quality fit the collection. I also remembered my grade 12 English teacher telling me to never choose a career in literature. I wondered what he’d say if he saw this!

book-in-brampton-library

It was a good day, so much to feel thankful for.

It’s here. It’s finally here!

It’s been quite an exciting month so far.

First it started with this wonderful surprise we had this morning. There was this e-mail from our Chinese translators. Not really saying anything but just providing a link. We clicked it and there it was: because—well, it’s now 缘由.

because @ www.because.zone

As you know, we started the translation process for because back in January 2015 and now the Chinese version is available on Amazon.cn (and soon to be released to other retailers in China). It is so cool to see Chinese characters tell the story of Robert Sanchez. (Even though I can’t understand but my wife does, so now maybe her mother and some of her family can read it.) And it already has been reviewed by a Chinese reader (happily 5 stars as well). Man, how grateful and fortunate I am!

It was quite a learning-full and such an interesting process working with these editors and translators. The thing that made me feel most grateful was working with these individuals who showed such  incredible passion about their work: translating the book with such integrity as if they were writing the book themselves.

So thank you to the folks over at fiberead.com, especially to Habby (project manger), Huang Zhi (editor) and translators Xujing, Amy, Li Qiu and Daisy. Without the team, because wouldn’t have been available in the most populated country on earth.

The next thing that happened comes from the amazing work my wife has been doing at getting our book into libraries across the country (and a few outside of Canada), including those in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver! Next Saturday, October 8 at the Brampton Public Library, I will be doing my first public talk as an author, celebrating the 2016 Indie Author Day. It’s funny how nervous I feel. Even though I’ve performed on some of the biggest stages but this feels more raw and real than any of those experiences. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Two years after…

It is true how time just doesn’t stop for anyone as no matter how hard you try to live in the moment and cherish each day, it still becomes yesterday.  And so it has now been two years since I ventured—hand and hand with my incredibly gifted loving wife, Virginia—into the publishing world. Since last year, I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced more wonderful and exciting adventures: Like getting closer to having the book translated into the language of the most populated country on earth. Like seeing my book comes up on the searches in libraries. Like getting raving reviews from readers and supportive messages from friends…I’ve been blessed to have had so many new doors opening up for me—just because I wrote a book.

It has been another fruitful year. Virginia has been busy creating contents for our web site visitors and members. You can see some of her work here and here. We worked together (but really, she was the one who brought my vision to life) to produce the ‘because I listen’ workbook, which has been an invaluable tool to many participants in my workshops. Now you can sign up for a free copy here.

We have also organized a number of promotional opportunities to help other authors to gain a bit more visibility for their books. These activities required a lot of time to do and gave us tons of fun too. But more importantly, it was our way of paying forward to the indie publishing community that guides and supports us.

thank-you

As every artist knows that without an audience, we are just singing alone in the wind. We all need that someone to hear, to see, to read, to share our creations. In saying that, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you all—whether you are a family member, a friend, a reader, a site visitor, a fellow author or someone who re-tweet my messages occasionally, like/share my posts or participate in my book giveaways. I really wanted to show my gratitude to so so so many of you that have been incredibly supportive. Please let me say thank you—thank you for making me feel it was all worth it. May you all feel that same blessing you’ve given me.

Interview with IndieReader

Earlier in the year, IndieReader (IR) provided this review for because. Since the book received a 4-star review, IR invited me to participate in their “All About the Book” interview which they just posted on the IndieReader.com site.

indiereader

because received a 4 star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Jack A. Langedijk.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

because was published in September 2014.

What’s the book’s first line? 

“I’m not supposed to be here!”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”? 

After a tragic accident on Mt. Everest, Roberto, a professional mountain climber and motivational speaker, is now faced with the toughest adventure of his life. This is an inspiring story about Roberto saving his career and his marriage while struggling with his own ideals and morals.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

It’s funny how often that the question is asked: “What inspired you to do this or that?” One thing for sure is that we can find inspiration in thousands and thousands of ways and I’ve been inspired so many times in my life to take action and yet, more often than not, I was never was able to achieve what originally inspired me. It’s really hard to make that inspiration to stick around long enough to see you through the completion of most things. I mean how long does any inspiration stay alive inside you?

It was only in the last couple of years I discovered that what makes inspiration stick. You see, a couple of years ago I was asked to do a motivational/inspirational talk to 500 leadership students. But I got stuck, really stuck. How do I motivate and inspire 500 completely unique human beings at the same time?

I had been inspired to write a book many times in my life and failed every time. Why? When I was asked to do that talk, I had already been writing because for six months. So what was different this time? Why was the inspiration sticking? What was the reason?  It was PURPOSE! I know it sounds simple, but I had a very clear purpose to write this book and that purpose kept the inspiration alive!

So to answer your question: What was my inspiration to write this book? Well, after facilitating hundreds of workshops and sharing experiences with thousands of human beings, I knew I had a story that I want to share—a story I truly believed was worthy to be heard and read. I wrote the book because it comes from the passion of my life and work outside of acting and directing: that is to help my fellow human beings feel happy, empower them and create healthier environments to live and work in. The story comes from all the experiences of my life—what I have learned and what I still have to learn. I hope it is read with a spirit of wanting to look at one’s self. And as Bertolt Brecht, who was known for writing and performing plays that were always about intense political social issues, once said, “Regardless of what the issues I’m trying to convey—one thing I think we as writers, actors, directors have—is we must first try to entertain for if we fail at that we will fail to get our message across.” So yes, I tried to follow Brecht’s advice and attempted to create a story that’s engaging and entertaining as well as meaningful.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 


Although because is a fictional story about a tragic period of one remarkable man’s life, its message helps us better understand and appreciate different perspectives and choices when we face change, a challenge, or hardship. The book depicts my core belief that our happiness and purpose in life is always going to come out of how we relate to others. If we talk, share more and truly listen, we will not be going through our own journey alone. If someone wants to come out a better person through change then they should really read this book.

My Happy Father Moment

You know that moment when you are so very proud of your child? Well, imagine being able to be an active part in that moment with them. That was the amazing, inspiring father’s gift I received last night! It was at my daughter’s 10th grade piano recital and I had a chance to sing one of our favourite songs together with her. Here’s our rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You“. The incredible gift for me was watching her lead me through the whole creative process — she was our director, vocal coach and visionary of how the song should be presented and I loved every minute of the journey.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers. May you always be able to do something with your children!

Getting my book into libraries

Virginia has just started approaching libraries in Ontario to see if they would take because and make it available for their customers and so far a few have acquired it for inclusion in their collection.

This is exciting for us since getting books into libraries is not easy, especially for self-published books. In most cases, libraries will not purchase self-published materials although exceptions may be made if the materials are of local interest or of popular demand that meet the selection criteria. Often libraries follow a list of specific selection criteria when considering books for their collection but a book does not need to satisfy all criteria in order to be accepted:

  • Suitability for meeting the needs and interests of the community
  • Artistic and literary merit
  • Authoritativeness of the writer and reputation of the publisher
  • Attention of critics, reviewers and the public
  • Popular demand and current trends
  • Clarity, accuracy and logic of presentation
  • Adequate breadth and depth of coverage
  • Local content of a significant nature
  • Availability of similar material within the community and other libraries
  • Relation to existing collections and other material on the subject
  • Suitability of subject, style and quality of physical form, layout and construction
  • Space requirements
  • Purchase price and other budgetary requirements
  • Special value as a contribution to social questions and problems of continuing or topical interest
  • Timeliness or permanence of the work
  • Importance as a record of the times

It helps that because has been well-reviewed by established review journals like Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review and IndieReader along with our readers’ reviews. We were told that our video and detailed publication information on our website also helped in getting the book approved.

Those people Virginia contacted were super friendly and helpful, they made her feel so welcomed! We are so grateful for their assistance in getting because into these libraries. It’s going to take some time to get through long lists of libraries. By the way, did you know that there are more than 300 libraries, not counting branches, in Ontario? And as some libraries just purchase the book without letting us know, we won’t have a complete list but if you happen to find out that because is available at your local library, would you please let us know? Or better yet, when you drop by your local library next time, ask for because and if the library doesn’t have it, your librarian may order a copy just for you 🙂

IndieReader Approved

Here’s another review for because from IndieReader which is a venue for discriminating book-lovers to find and purchase books published by the people who wrote them. According to the site, a 4-star rating means “Very good” 🙂

IndieReader @ www.because.zone

 

IR Approved Sticker @ www.because.zone

A mountain climber and his family deal with the repercussions of a tragic accident that cost him his legs.

Robert Sanchez was an inspirational figure, a mountain climber who worked with troubled young people, encouraging them to change their lives in helpful and positive ways. Six months ago, he took three of those young adults, Troy, Nancy, and Philip, up Mount Everest – only to face a catastrophic avalanche that cost him his legs, leaving him unable to climb again. As his loving wife Monique tries to cope with Robert’s depression and self-isolation, and his daughter Jenny reads through his old climbing journal looking for answers, Robert himself feels trapped and wonders if he can go on as he is. But will a chance to give one more inspirational talk give him back his spark, or demonstrate just how badly he’s been crushed for good?

BECAUSE is a deeply moving, emotionally-powerful tale of intertwined lives, and of finding strength to go on in the face of utter despair. There are multiple stories braided into the main plot, as each of the characters has a voice and a tale of their own. Robert’s story, therefore, is reflected in the stories of those he’s helped as well as those who want to help him, giving the book a multifaceted perspective and adding deeper emotional and philosophical layers to the plot. This is a heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting book, and there isn’t a character who doesn’t have a substantial, painful tragedy to wrestle with. At times, the book is almost too chock full of tragedy and inspirational recovery – it can be a bit overwhelming, even occasionally cloying. The encounter near the end also has a flavor of deus ex machina-level coincidence to it, too. Still, the characters’ emotions on the whole have real genuineness and force behind them, and their discussion and analyses of their situations are both thoughtful and compelling.

BECAUSE is a book full of both emotional intensity and real philosophical and psychological insight.

See review at IndieReader.com

What a wonderful way to end the year!

We just received this letter from The Midwest Book Review today with the following critique:

A deftly crafted novel and an absorbing read from beginning to end, “because” is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining novel that documents author Jack Langedijk’s truly exceptional storytelling skills. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “because” is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

The Midwest Book Review (MBR) is an organization established in 1976 that committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. The MBR publishes a number of monthly book review magazines specifically designed for community and academic librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public.

We sent two paperbacks of because to MBR for a review in April and the book made it through the final cut (according to MBR, only about a third of all books submitted get reviewed) and the review was featured in the Small Press Bookwatch magazine November 2015 issue.

Midwest Book Review @ www.because.zone

We are very grateful for the organization that supports and gives priority consideration to small press publishers and self-published authors like me. It is truly wonderful to end the year with such positive feedback. I hope you share my excitement and thank you too for all your support along the way. May 2016 bring you an abundance of energy and joy!

2001

Please to view this content. (Not a member? Join Today!)

One year later…

What a wonder-full adventure writing this book has been—because…well, there have been many creative risks I have taken in my life but none like this book! Most of the creations of mine have been as an actor, director and producer in theatre and film. I have had some of the most profound thrills of a lifetime performing and directing. I have been incredibly fortunate to have been blessed with amazing reactions: having a full auditorium burst into full-celebrated laughter…feel the silent echo of stillness that a deep touching moment can bring to an audience…gratefully bowing to a spontaneous standing ovation…or feeling that sense of pride of a job well done through newspapers or radios gifting me with critical praise. I have always felt a strong sense of WORTH through my work (really it never felt like work; more like play).

1st birthday @ www.because.zone

And now after a year of having because out there in the world, I feel a new sense of worth that doesn’t end. Of course, it is a long road when one self publishes. I mean writing a book is a huge achievement but then you have to find readers! From discovering all the author tools out there to building a website to connect with all of you, the new journey as an author has been a very exciting and rewarding learning experience.

At first it was different for me because I’m used to having that immediate response from an audience. But then when the show is over the response dies out. With a book, the show never ends as the potential audience is always there and it’s so diversified in its age and country. It plays at all times of the day and night. On  crowded subways, in cafes, on a back porch swing and late at night under the covers…and that idea—that the audience is no longer a collective of people, but each audience member is alone somewhere in the world sharing my story—makes it feel more of an intimate creative experience than I ever had.

And it’s exciting to connect with and receive invaluable feedback from many people—family, friends, readers and site visitors—who have reached out through facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and private emails. I’ve received many great reviews for the book, and just today I received another amazing message from someone who felt my book had helped her through a struggle she was having in her life. All these moments along with all your care and support have made this an incredible journey for me and my wife. So thank you for your support and for a wonder-full year 🙂