African Hearts E-Book

African hearts e-book

African hearts e-book

I've been on a big learning curve. This is good. I'm someone who likes to learn something new every day, and if I don't, I feel I've wasted my day.

During the past few weeks, I've been preparing African Hearts for Amazon and Smashwords, including an e-book cover. I hope you like this version. As I explained in a previous blog, I have changed and re-edited this work to make the work similar but stronger. Preparing the manuscript for uploading to the internet was the hardest part and it took longer than I'd planned, but the uploading was easy. Both e-publishers have easy to follow instructions. If you're a logical thinker, it's easy. Just follow the directions.

Let me tell you about the process. I used a word .docx file which was the orginal document I wrote for this work. As I revised the work and made the necessary changes, I turned on the paragraph markings and other formatting symbols so that I could see where the extra spaces and other formatting problems were. I changed the formatting issues as I revised and ended up with a document to be uploaded that cleared Amazon and Smashwords formatting guidelines the first time. I was thrilled the uploading was so quick, but realised it was the quality of the formatting that got me through fast. I recommend when preparing your manuscript for the e-book publishers make sure you take the time to check the correct formatting.

I outsourced the cover to a cover designer. I have no skills in this area. The cover designer was very patient with me, in fact she was an angel. We worked together to-ing and fro-ing many times as we tweaked it to get exactly what I wanted. I hope you like the ebook cover here.

Now, I'm waiting to see how the sales go and from there I will decide whether I want to continue with ebook publishing or continue with traditional publishing. These are exciting times for writers. Never have there been so many options available. The most important point to remember though, is that our books have to be of a high quality with no obvious errors, otherwise our readers will be disappointed.

If you have any questions about e-publishing, leave a comment. I'd be happy to help.


The Next Chapter Unfolds...

Life in the tropics.

Life in the tropics.

It's happened, before I thought it would!

Almost twelve years ago our family left Townsville to live on the Gold Coast so that our son, who is an IT guru, would have opportunities to work in that field. Our time on the Gold Coast was an interesting time full of challenges but a fun place to call home. Our son is now an adult and well on his way to an interesting career in IT.

Knowing he was settled, left me wondering where my future lay. Yes, of course, I'm a writer that was obvious, but where do I feel the freedom to write with no distractions. Part of our travels around Australia was to find the place where we were meant to be. Leaving my life behind on the Gold Coast was quite a challenge, but I also found it exciting to work out where the next chapter of my life was about to unfold. Living down south was exciting, but it wasn't for me climatically, so we headed north to the warmth, and discovered we belong up here in the tropics with humidity, balmy nights, open spaces, palm trees and the beautiful Great Barrier Reef at our doorstep. We were scuba divers at another time in our life.

Extended family living here also strongly influenced my decision to live in Mackay. In my adult years I've never lived in the same town as family, so Mackay has offered this wonderful opportunity for me to connect with them.

Another bonus was meeting author, Rose Dee, whose first book will be released in mid-November, 2011 by Even Before Publishing entitled Back to Resolution. It's great to meet and support each other on our writing journey.

So, it's official, we've decided to make Mackay our new home. Our house on the Gold Coast is on the market and we're searching for our new place to put down roots. We've lived in Townsville on three different occasions in the past, so it's no surprise we've returned to north Queensland. Mackay has regular flights in and out which are relatively cheap with lots of flights daily. The hour and a half trip to Brisbane means our son can visit often when he needs time out from his busy schedule, or I can return to the Gold Coast when I want to catch up with him and old friends.

My change of lifestyle isn't as dramatic as Gina's in my book, African Hearts. Gina was a woman with courage, understanding her strengths and moving forward to grasp new experiences. I learned from Gina that fear is real, but it can be overcome and there are many advantanges to going places that seem way too scarey.

Travelling in the van has given me the opportunity to meet many people throughout this vast country; connect with my readers and other writers; and to give me new fodder for my future projects.

I haven't been to Western and central Australia, but those places are still on my list of places to visit. It's time for me to be still for a while and focus again on my next work which is almost complete. When the time is right, I'll step out and seek all that the great central and west has to offer.

Where are you in your journey of life? Are you in a time of being, or are you caught up in the excitement and stress of change? If you're in the latter, hang in there, you'll soon be in that new place. I encourage you to hold on tight and enjoy the ride. You'll grow from the experience and have new resources to call on in the future when you next take a leap of faith.

Changing Direction

Is your life feeling a little stale?

You're kind of bored and thinking there's got to be more to life than what you're doing? You're not alone. There are many people who want to change their lives but they're caught in a place they can't see their way out. It's time to make a decision, empower yourself and take a leap of faith.

Gina Messina, the heroine in African Hearts was at the same place. She had everything she wanted: a penthouse in the middle of the Gold Coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, world travel to seek out new import products for the business she inherited from her parents, and more money than she knew what to do with. But Gina's conscience niggled her she should be doing more, but she wasn't sure what that 'more' might be.

African Hearts by Laura O'Connell

African Hearts by Laura O'Connell

Life has a strange way of taking us places we'd never thought. Gina received a letter from her brother's doctor in Africa advising her Marco was dying in a remote Ugandan village. Gina's ordered life was thrown into chaos. She desperately wanted to see him before he died so she had no choice but to step out of her comfort zone and take a leap of faith. Her decision to go to Africa changed her life.

If you were in Gina's situation would you have taken the leap and travelled on your own to Africa for your dying brother?

The last time Gina had seen her brother he'd been a drug addict and had left a trail of unpaid bills behind him. He didn't tell her where he was going and hadn't contacted her for the ten years he'd been away. Marco's life was a mess. He was hurting and he wanted a new beginning. He plucked up the courage to make change and he felt he needed to do it on his own, which is why Gina hadn't heard from him.

Gina had a lot of courage to drop everything and go to the remote village on her own. It was her only opportunity to see him for the last time. That wasn't an easy decision for her to make. If you were in Gina's shoes would you have had the courage to go to Africa? Are you in a similar place in your life where you're sensing you need to make change, but you're not sure where or how?

When I wrote African Hearts I was hoping it would inspire my reader to take hold of all that life has to offer and not be afraid of making change. Even though the future looks scary, be brave like Gina and take a leap of faith. You just never know where that will take you. Let me know what you decide to do. I'd love to hear from you.

Daring To Dream Again ...

King Lake, Victoria

King Lake, Victoria

As I hear about the flooding in Queensland I'm reminded it has been two years since the raging bushfires swept through Kinglake in Victoria destroying everything in their path. These catastrophic events are part of the Australian life but that doesn't make it any easier for those who are caught in the middle of the events losing family and friends and everything they own, including their treasured family history in the forms of photographs and mementoes.

Both of these events have seen me in tears as I watched the destruction happening before my eyes on the television. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for the people who are experiencing every terrifying second that unfolds.

Last week we stayed in The Gum Trees Camping Area at Kinglake National Park, 65 kilometres north of Melbourne. It was a welcome break after the hectic pace of Christmas in Melbourne: a time to reflect on 2010 and what I'm expecting for 2011; and also time to think about the lives of the people who are still living in Kinglake two years on.

A walk down the main street of Kinglake showed me a close knit community brought together by life threatening events. Groups of people sat together in fellowship. The storekeepers were friendly and open to us strangers welcoming us into their community. I felt encouraged by these people who'd been through so much but could be so open and friendly to us.

Out of the town we drove along the quiet, eerie roads that had been devastated by the fire. Here we felt the oppression of lives lost and dreams that might have been. I couldn't stop the tears that rained down my face when I saw the letterboxes standing at the front of the properties that no longer held a house, and the precious lives that used to live within the homes. We drove this road for no more than a few minutes when I asked Frank to turn around. I couldn't take any more of the sadness that had crept upon my spirit. Some of the people had died and some had left to live elsewhere. Who could blame them when their past lives had been swept away from them?

Kinglake is a place of dreams damaged and dreams lost, but it's also a place of faith and hope for those who decided to stay and rebuild their lives. Hope can be seen in their faces, their new homes and the reaching out to strangers. I've decided the people of Kinglake, both those who decided to stay, and those who have moved on are courageous. Neither of these groups of people are right or wrong. They've made a choice based on their own abilities and talents, personal history and dreams. Well done to all of you!

In the forest, we saw the charred trunks of the trees standing like sentinels, a reminder of the destruction, but our hearts were filled with gladness when we saw the new growth emerging from the forest floor. Most of it was about a metre high and there was evidence of wombats and echidnas, and an increasing number of birds seemed to come in daily.

The bush was regenerating. The trunks of the burned trees had new shoots coming out of their blackened trunks seeking the food they need for survival. Soon the lower shoots will fall away as the trees become strong and lose their charred skins and grow new high branches that will give them the nourishment they need.

There is new life happening in Kinglake and the surrounding areas that were burned in February 2009. For the flooded areas of Central and Southern Queensland new shoots of hope will come for you, too. But first, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel the pain of your losses, and grieve for them, and when the time is right for you, take hold of all the courage you can muster and step out in faith. Soon hope will come to you, so that you, too, can dare to dream of a future again.

Trusting The Small Voice

Do you like the excitement of the unknown, meeting new people, discovering strengths within yourself you didn't know you had? Welcome to life.

Exploring life needs confidence. In a recent post I briefly touched on gaining confidence. Confidence is believing in ourselves and our abilities. Most people gain self-confidence from the affirmations received from our parents or caregivers since birth, and this continues until adulthood when we branch out on our own to try new activities.

Sometimes, when we attempt a new activity we may feel defeat and lose heart. The next time we take on a new challenge it becomes harder to step out, and after a few stumbles we consider ourselves a failure.

I see failure as an opportunity to get up and have another go, except the next time I'll learn from my mistakes. I go and find more information about the new activity; I read how to books; I search the internet for information and most importantly I approach others who are already involved in that line of work or hobby and find out how they do it. Why re-invent when I can tap into the experience of others who have been before me? This saves time which can be hard to find in our busy lives. It's important we make the most of our time because our days on this earth are numbered. Many people will go out of their way to help you if they know you're genuinely interested.

Stepping out to do a new activity takes a certain amount of faith. Faith is what keeps me looking for new and interesting experiences so that I can learn about myself. Faith for me is knowing my God is in control of my life. God gives me peace, strength and perseverence to do projects I might not attempt in my own strength. Faith is listening to the soft small voice, trusting its guidance and stepping out obediently. Faith and action are partners. Faith without action brings inactivity and action without faith becomes unfulfilling and meaningless.

For me, a life without faith would mean living in a dark place afraid and alone. Faith gives me the courage to pursue my dreams, to build relationships, and to know myself the way God knows me. God's holy spirit is within me, and because it is I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

Do you draw your strength from the small voice that prompts you every day? He'll be the best friend you'll ever have.