Monday, February 27, 2012

Winner- The Royal Inspiration Award for Mental Health

I am delighted to announce that I have won an Inspiration Award from the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care group.  This was due in great measure to my debut novel Anna's Tears.  An inspiring story about forgiveness and overcoming trauma and addiction.

Other winners included Hannah Brunsdon (Youth award for writing the play VOICES) and Lieutenant General (Retired) and Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire (Humanitarian and Author of Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Experience with CreateSpace

Several people have asked me to write about my experience using CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, to publish my first novel Anna’s Tears.

After careful consideration of other options, some of which offered very similar services, the deciding factor was CreateSpace’s relationship with Amazon. I can’t comment on the quality of the other services as I have not used them, but I can say that so far I have been extremely pleased with my decision.

Two of the many things that have stood out with CreateSpace have been their “a la carte” options, meaning I can pick and choose what services I want to purchase from them and their top-notch customer service.

As a side-note, if you have the ability to generate your own cover and format your interior text, then CreateSpace’s free publication option may be for you. I have an author friend who is much more technically inclined than me so this works well for him.

A la carte:

As I have often said, I can write a novel but am not very good at coming up with the marketing materials related it. This came as a great surprise to me as I have written more marketing documents than I can count, but when it came to generating text about my own work, I couldn’t capture its essence in a compelling manner.

Consequently I decided to buy Promotional Text Creation. I also needed help to generate the cover of the book and with typesetting. For this I purchased Total Design Freedom Custom Interior and Unique Book Cover.

Something I like is that I can opt out of purchasing promotional materials or other marketing related services at this time, but can always add it later if I want to. One of the other companies I looked at does not give you this option.

Customer Service:

From my very first interaction with a CreateSpace employee, I felt as though the company was behind me and my project. I know that that this may sound silly to some people (and no, they’re not paying me to say this!) but every person I interacted with seemed sincerely interested in me as an individual and not just “another author”.

The first customer service person I spoke with gave me as much time as I needed to answer my questions, explain the services I was considering and how everything would work. She also followed up with an email outlining my options and provided a summary of our discussion.

After I had decided what I wanted to do, they held my hand during every step of the way. At one point during the editing process, there was a mix-up regarding the number of edits and rounds of that I was allowed and after I explained my quandary, they accommodated me without any hassle what so ever.

More on Services Purchased:

Getting the front cover and interior text generated was easy. I filled in a form that they provided outlining what I was looking for in terms of mood, image, etc. Within a couple of weeks I was given two cover options and two text style options. They used stock photos for the covers, but they presented them in a way that was unique and professional looking. In fact they were both so good, I had a hard time selecting one. The processed allowed me to request some changes to the covers and interior styles, which I did. I have had many compliments on how great the cover looks, and its ability to grab attention. People often look for the name of the traditional publisher when they see the book and are surprised to learn that it is self-published.

As part of their service they send you two proofs to approve. Not only was it a huge rush to see my manuscripts in the form of a real book, I can assert that errors really did “jump off the page” of the first proof despite many rounds of editing and checking.

Not having the time or inclination to figure out how to do it on my own, I also decided to purchase their Kindle-Ready Conversion option, which made things really easy. They provide instructions on how to upload the files and when I ran into trouble, they were only a call away. And I must say that Anna’s Tears does look great on the Kindle!

Finally, I purchased the Pro Plan which included being added to the Extended Distribution Channel making my book available to other book vendors and libraries.

Nuts and Bolts:

I found CreateSpace’s email notification and the “call me” button on their website to be really useful. They responded to me in a timely manner and almost always gave me exactly what I was looking for with their first attempt.

Because they have a print on demand service, there are no minimum orders, and I’ve been extremely happy with the quality. It doesn’t look at all like a self-published novel.

Generally there has been a pretty quick turn around between customers ordering the book and getting it. I have heard of some delays with Canadian orders (although mine showed up quickly), but not with US orders.

Money Stuff:

Obviously CreateSpace makes some money off of the services that they deliver but I felt that it was still very affordable, especially since I did not have any minimum order. The other way they make money is sales of books by their parent company Amazon and others. Although I would want to get exposure for my book in a broader way through a traditional publisher, I’m happy with the royalty percentage that I get with CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle.

In an ideal world, you would want people to order your book from your CreateSpace page, as you earn a higher royalty this way, but people seem to be more comfortable with the Amazon brand, and have opted to order from there more often than not.


If you are not a US Citizen, I would suggest that you find out if your country of residence has a tax treaty with the US. In my case, as a Canadian, filling in a few forms and waiting around for them to be processed has meant that the automatic withholding of the 30% US tax has been waived and I only have to pay Canadian taxes on royalties.

When filling in your forms to get your ITIN, make sure you fill them out correctly the first time. There are other blogs that tell you how to do this. I made the mistake of going to the closest IRS office where I was given wrong instructions which led to a rejection of my application and a delay. For my second attempt I was happy to learn that most US banks employ State Notaries who can notarize your documents for you at a reasonable price, which is much more convenient that the trip to the closest IRS office. Just be sure that the individual notarizes all of your documentation, including the copy of your ID.

I hope that you have found this to be helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions on this, or if there is anything you want to hear more about.

Yours in writing, Nathalie

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Touching Review by Jamieson Wolf - I'm still weepy!

Sunday the 11th of December 2011 at 4:12 PM

I’ve been trying for some time to sum up how I reacted to this book. How do you review something when you have a reaction to something so moving and powerful. Someone recently asked me what the literary themes of the novel would be.

My mind drew a blank. Not because Anna’s Teas is a forgettable book. Quite the opposite, in fact; but how do you sum up such a literary jewel in a few words? I had to take a moment to think about that. However, before we begin, here’s the book blurb:

How deep do the scars on one family run, and can the wounded dare hope for healing?

Anna’s Tears, the stirring, starkly honest work of fiction by Nathalie M. Holmes, mines the inherited anguish of one family, which spans generations and countries. Throughout, the road to redemption is as hard-won as its matriarch Anna’s painfully absent tears. This elegant, hard-edged work is certain to resonate with readers seeking a masterfully written journey deep into the heart, which illuminates the tender mercies that emerge from the long-hidden damages of life.

In a cold stretch of Canada, Helene desperately tries to both overcome and suppress a childhood of trauma, alcoholism and sexual abuse. Through booze-fueled, foggy nights of high risk and deep regret, Helene leers through her early adulthood, fighting flashes of early memories that are too horrible to bear, and instead inflicting her own fresh pain. Beyond the painful miasma of her childhood, Helene is convinced that there is something even more disturbing in her family’s furtive past.

Helene seeks cold comfort in her paternal grandmother, Anna, whose taciturn, inarticulate sadness offers her a curious refuge. Anna’s tragic story starts before the Second World War in Holland and ends when she moves to Canada after having endured some of the most unimaginable ravages of war. Ernst, who is Helene’s father, is tormented by his own legacy of ghosts, which manifest themselves in a dysfunctional marriage to his wife Jolie, whose blatant narcissism and alcoholism submerge her own self-hatred. The die is cast to propagate an inherited despair, which only the fiercest of reckonings can combat.

A visceral, gripping foray into rough psychological terrain, Anna’s Tears travels to the heart of a family’s darkness to find its way toward the light of hope. With evocative detail of events both past and present, this stunning work guides readers through time and psyche, and ensures they emerge with transformative hope.

I should say two things before I forget: The book blurb doesn’t even come CLOSE to describing how amazing this book is; it doesn’t capture the realness of the characters or the beauty of the story. It also describes the story better than I could ever dream possible. I don’t have enough words to describe how incredible this book is.

If I were to come close, I would describe it as a patchwork quilt of time and secrets. However, that doesn’t talk about the depth of the characters, the quality of the novel nor the talent of first time author Nathalie M. Holmes.

I find it difficult to believe that it is her first book; she paints with words, rather than write with them; the result is a lovely kind of liquid poetry that plays with time, shadow and shared grief. Holmes has covered some dark territory in her novel, but ends up writing with an aplomb that many writers fail to achieve. Time flows like water over the page and all you can do is keep reading, needing to know what happens.

I think that’s pretty close, but it does little to encapsulate my emotional response to Anna’s Tears. Anna may have not cried any tears, but I sure did. With grace and stark honesty, Holmes pens a story that will touch everyone that reads it and haunt them long after the last page has been turned.

Though the plights of Anna, Helen, Jolie and Ernst and their connections to each other, are difficult to read at times, it is only because the people that fill these pages are so real. You feel as if you know them (or at least I did) and grow to know them as you fall into their lives.

Anna’s Tears is a moving, emotionally provoking tale that is right up there with Ordinary People by Judith Guest, In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Stark, brilliant and honest, Holmes uses multiple narrators and multiple times to weave her story.

The results are absolutely amazing. I only hope it’s not too long till the release of Holme’s next novel.

I can hardly wait to take another journey with her.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Available on Amazon!

It is with tremendous joy and pride that I am announcing that Anna's Tears is now available on Amazon.

Thank you to all of you who sent me the fairy dust and believed in my project! You can view my Author page here:

Thanks especially to fellow authors Helen Hollick and Jo Field for your encouragement. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Anna'a Tears almost a reality!

"There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Which luckily I am." - Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland

I am so excited to be getting close to the release of Anna's Tears!  And in more ways than you might think...

Just like my writing experience, publishing my novel has been even more involved and consuming than I could ever have anticipated.  Some days I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole with all of the decisions I've had to make - as my amazing in-person book club members can attest!

I've fretted over the cover design; the type of font to use; the page lay-out including a little thing called a fleuron (what is a fleuron?); the back cover text; whether or not to include an author photo; what mood to portray in that photo; whether or not to pre-release information on the book; how to price it; and the list goes on and on.  And just when I've thought I'm finished making decision, more tasks appear like mushrooms after rain.  In the end I know it's worth all of the effort, but it would have helped had that rabbit arrived with Mad Hatter Johnny Depp.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Excuses, excuses…

[Preface: Ironically I wrote this article three weeks ago and since it’s about excuses, I don’t need to excuse myself that it took so long to post.]
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get over myself and actually put keyboard to pixel.
By getting over myself, I don’t mean that I think that my ego is too big, it’s just that I need to let go of the idea of perfection. You see, originally, I had intended to update my blog at least every month and Twitter three times a week --which, believe it or not, was an acceptable interval back when I started. But when I was told that to be “heard” I needed a weekly blog and to tweet at least 3-6 times per day, it all fell apart.

Yes, I hear you thinking,“Oh, great! Now she has another excuse created by those nebulous marketing types.” In truth, the stark reality that my writing would be likely become wasted zeros and ones floating around in the internet alternate universe did make it all seem pointless . It’s not that I want to be a celebrity, but I don’t get enough joy from simply "writing for the sake of writing" as I hear other authors claim they do. I get joy from knowing others read what I have written and maybe get something out of it, even if it’s just making them feel less alone in their neurotic thoughts!

The part about “getting over myself” also includes the crazy notion that there are “keepers-of-the-blog-counts” out there that actually notice how often I post blog entries! Now that is a crazy idea in and of itself, and just another glimpse into the dark crevices of my grey matter.

So now, after way too long of an introduction, I say: “to heck with perfectionism!”

Although I’m not convinced that I can actually do it, and that there won’t be a litany of excuses to follow, I’m going to endeavour to write more often - whatever interval that ends up being.

While we are on the idea of excuses, I’m going to start to tweet my top excuses for not writing. The first, of course, will be “I was too busy writing a blog entry.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I love what Twitter has done for me, but….

I love what Twitter has done for me. It’s connected me to some amazing people including my two literary angels, @HelenHollick a wonderful historical writer who then introduced me to the woman who became my copy editor, Jo Field, who is also an author in her own right.

But at the same time, I cannot believe how it’s changed since I joined back in March. It's getting so crowded now that I can’t possibly keep up with everything that’s going on (perhaps my “follow” list is too long?). I know they’ve added some new tools to help sort through the barrage of sentiments and insights (I use this term lightly), but I still find it overwhelming. It’s like being at a party and being bombarded by stories, occupations, and interests of the 664 people (that’s how many people I’m following). And sadly, many of the people are just not that interesting, and the ones that are, are either lost in the digital stream, or difficult to find to start with.

In this age of advanced “communication” and information overload, I see the same ideas repeating themselves over and over again. And frankly, it’s often a bore - but herein may lay a silver lining...

Over the last few years, I often pondered the future of books and wondered if people will still take the time to read them when they can more easily fill up hours with online sound bites? I have to admit that I have succumbed to far too much time passively being entertained by the likes of Nigahiga and KeJumba. Although they may be hilarious at times, I wonder how I will feel one day towards the end of my life looking back? Will I regret the times spent with these pursuits instead of reading great books, or will it matter at all?

Recently I ploughed - and yes, I did feel like one of those horses I saw at the fair pulling far too much weight- through Anna Karenina. Had it not been “required reading” for my book club, I never would have read it, even though I have always wanted to. It was long and tedious at times, and inspired and touching at others. Do I regret the forty hours it took me to read it? Absolutely not. Has it inspired me to read other classics? Yes!

On the other hand, do I regret that I spent half of Saturday on YouTube? Yes, a little bit. It makes me wonder: although both activities would fall in the “entertainment” category, why do they seem so different? Is it my constant guilt and fear of wasting my life? Or does it point to something deeper? Something more primal?

I have come to the conclusion that as much as we may think we want life to be easy and to be fed like babies - whether that’s by food companies or the entertainment industry -we all have a desire for something more. I believe people are born with a desire for something that can only be attained by a bit of effort. It takes work to grow an apple orchard, pick the fruit and make your own cider (believe me I know!). Of course it would be much easier to take a can out of the cupboard and crack it open, but nothing compares with the taste of freshly pressed cider and the accompanying feeling of satisfaction.

I have become convinced that people will always read books, whether on electronic media or in print, and be willing to do the “work” to get to the ending. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.