Q and A with Kindle Bestselling Author Tammy Harding

Did you ever have a pen-pal?    
Author Tammy Harding -http://pennockislandproductions.com/
I did as a little kid. I got another one this year when a friend of mine had a chance-meeting at an airport with author Tammy Harding, and passed her e-mail to me. We’ve been fast e-friends ever since. Tammy wrote about her experiences as an accidental Alaskan in Alaska Bound: One Man’s Dream…One Woman’s Nightmare.

Welcome, Tammy!
Q. If you had to boil Alaska Bound to one sentence of the message you’d like your readers to get from reading it, what would it be?
If you have enough courage, you will always find a way to turn life’s biggest pile of lemons into a profitable pitcher of lemonade.
Q. What made you decide to write Alaska Bound?
There were a couple of deciding factors. In 2006, I sustained a life-changing head injury that brought my once productive lifestyle to a complete standstill. Since I’d always been a very active person, this was a difficult transition. What was I going to do with myself?
But a traumatic brain injury had changed everything. From then on, in order to accomplish any kind of physical activity, it was imperative that I moved like a sloth, avoiding any chance of tripping or being bumped into. The simple act of jerking open a bag of potato chips, for instance, could not be accomplished without repercussions–the jarring would injure my brain. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been digging into the junk food to begin with, but let’s just say that scissors were my best friend for a while. Now confined to what I considered to be an fruitless lifestyle, in order to manage my pain I found myself spending a lot of time on the couch with my head cradled by a bag of ice.

During my many hours of required rest I would still write lists, but these were different. What can I accomplish, even in my ‘useless’ condition, I wondered? It was a short list in comparison, but by focusing on what I could do, even with my head perched on ice not only could I research how to write, copyright and publish a book, but I could also type out my story and then proof read to my heart’s content. I could work from bed! Ha! Who doesn’t dream of that at one time or another?

This new writing project turned out to be a tremendous way to pass away the hours while at the same time provide a means with which to lift my spirits from a deep depression. I could actually accomplish something after all, I thought. I had already been given an idea of what to write about because of my recent trip to Alaska. My husband at the time had talked me into a six week trek to The Last Frontier where we had built a cabin in the wilderness–all on a shoestring budget. And on that trip it just so happened that I had been on what I felt like to me to be a most terrifying, maddening yet unforgettably beautiful experience.

 Once it was all said and done I felt lucky to have lived through it all. Every time I shared my account of this wild excursion, listeners would first be intrigued, then saddened, before becoming distressed and finally overcome with laughter–all within a short span of five minutes. Great fodder for a story, right? Although this traumatic experience hadn’t seemed funny to me, more times than not I heard the remark, “You really should write a book.” Putting two and two together I decided that I would figure out how to accomplish this goal. Between the head injury and encouragement of the people I ran into, I decided I should put my story on paper. And over the course of 16 months, that is what I did! 
Q. You have had great success publishing your book on Kindle, and getting many favorable reviews. Congratulations! What tips do you have for other authors considering self-publishing?
My first advice is: refuse to be intimidated by all the unfamiliar jargon of the publishing industry. Personally, if I had been given a quiz on the definitions of a publisher, a copyright, or a literary agent before I started this process I would have politely declined to make any guesses. But the more I read up on it, the act of publishing is much like any new job you might start; there is a particular language used within the company and in order to be successful, you need to learn it. 

Of course now I understand that a publisher is not a huge company with an fancy desk or a plush office. A publisher is merely an organizer who finances the project. This is someone who oversees the editing and cover design and who also has the ultimate responsibility of responding to everything from customer complaints to glowing reviews. Think of it this way: if you were to divide yourself into three parts–the first segment of your being would be the writer. Without a writer you don’t need the other two–so put your heart and soul into the project. The second section is the proof reader/editor, and the third entity, who silently oversees this project all along but is only called upon to show its face near the end of the project, is the promotional or marketing manager. For the last role it would help if you had the ability to mentally step outside of your body in order to effectively write about ‘the writer’ in third person, as if you have never met yourself before. For instance, I would say something like, “Author/Publisher Tammy Jones Harding is not an expert on the subject of publishing with Kindle, however, due to her extensive personal experiences, she understands the frustrations of getting started so she will be happy to answer any questions you may have.”

Q . You live in a more isolated part of Alaska, with intermittent internet and phone access and few book stores or radio stations. Are their links, sites, and other tools you have used to promote your book while living the rural life?

Looking back at all the attempts I’ve made to promote my book, by far the best decision was when I agreed to sell my book exclusively on Amazon. Using their program you are given five free promotional days each quarter. There is probably a strategy on how and when it’s best to offer the freebies but no matter when I’ve chosen to offer my book on the free promotion, I always see a dramatic increase in sales. The amazing thing about Kindle is that it is worldwide. I can’t say enough good about how well it has worked. In comparison to printing and marketing hard copies of my title, Kindle is a breeze. Setting up an Amazon Sellers account can be done at a minimal cost and in very little time your book can be uploaded for readers. With Kindle you have no orders to monitor, no shipping timelines, no damaged goods. There is zero overhead.
Also, writers should enter contests. I entered that Independent Publisher Book Awards contest last year 
and won Best Nonfiction West Pacific. It’s given me a great promotional edge. http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/ipawards.php
Q. Do you have plans to write another book in the future?
Yes, I am working on a sequel. 

Thank you Tammy for the great advice on publishing, and for sharing about your book.
Readers, are you Interested in reading Tammy’s book?  Her link on Amazon is 
Readers and Writers, are you thinking about self-publishing your story now? A new resource to help you sift through the pros and cons of self-publishing is Rachelle Gardner’s How Do I Decide. In it, you’ll hear from established traditionally published authors who’ve chosen to self-publish now, and self-published authors who now prefer working with traditional publishers. 

The Benefits of Smelling Roses

I should have done it a long time ago.

My good intentions to be a supportive mother, reliable worker, and consistent volunteer has has dealt a crushing blow to my rest and relaxation time.
I knew I was in trouble when friend of mine asked me to get together, and then rescheduled four times. It would be irritating at best when I’m less overwhelmed. Now tired and cranky, I told him precisely what was on my mind (bad idea!). It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.
“You really need to take time to stop and smell the roses,” another friend advised me. Truthfully, I don’t even like roses. I live life by to-do lists. Relaxation doesn’t come easy to me, so I looked up some ideas from two of my favorite blogs.
Then I took Friday off work, making it a four-day weekend for myself, and made a different kind of list.
  1. Sleep in
  2. Read overdue library book Yoshiko and the Foreigner by Mimi Otey
  3. Have dinner/see a play with Ruth
  4. Finish implementing edits to manuscript.
Something magical happened after I accomplished #1. I spontaneously spoke to strangers while running errands. I even smiled at one or two of them. 
I had a good cry after #2. What a tender story.
I fell back asleep at the play with Ruth, but dinner was a delightful rockfish made with a coffee sauce. 
Somewhere, sandwiched between the fun, I went to pick my youngest daughter up from her dental appointment. I brought my Kindle, and settled in to read when I heard a familiar voice. “Is that you?”
It was my old boss from the battered women’s shelter I worked at 20 years ago. “How are your girls?” 
When people I haven’t seen in a long time ask about my girls, it’s not a benign, just- making-conversation sort of a deal. They’re often stifling tears, remembering the profound loss they felt when my daughters were kidnapped.
Over the next many minutes, she and I filled in more than a decade of gaps. Our dentist joined us, adding in his own sad memories of the two year ordeal. It was likely the most bittersweet reunion that lobby had ever seen.
I came home, ready to re-write. Editor Karlyn Thayer recently passed away before she received my final seventy pages, and I’ve felt uneasy about working with anyone else.
But I felt differently now. Writing became joyful again. I reached the spot in the story in which the courts in Greece ruled against me, and I counted the cost of either leaving my daughters behind forever or finding an alternate route home, sneaking put of Greece and through Turkey.
     The risks were obvious. But the idea of not trying was unthinkable. I thought about meeting my father for the first time,  only to learn that the years apart had created a gap that could never be bridged. I thought about the life I had led before the girls were born, living in response to what everyone else around me wanted and needed. I thought about the hopes I had for my daughters, and the promise I had made to keep them safe. And I thought about how many people across the globe had joined my efforts to bring them back home. 
     These amounted to more than enough reasons to act in faith and trust in a miracle. 
 There you have it. A little more room for sleep and a bit more time for fun helped me remember   what a miracle I’ve been given.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday Roundup – My Top Three Stories for the Week


Liz’s Top Three–

  • Local Women Fight to End Domestic Violence

When 20 year-old Shannon Shockey was murdered by her former boyfriend 15 years ago, her aunts agreed never to let her memory fade.  They’ve created a website–  http://www.winservices.org/ –and an annual event to empower women with the hope of preventing similar tragedies.

  • Law Firm Backs New International Child Abduction Campaign

In Britain, the acknowledgement that international child abduction is steeply increasing has resulted in a new information campaign.http://www.bournemouthchamber.org.uk/news/chamber-news/item/799-law-firm-backs-new-international-child-abduction-campaign

  • Siblings reunited after 65 years with help of 7-year-old Facebook user


When Clifford Boyson confided in a seven year-old boy that he’d been separated from his sister, he had no idea the boy would employ his knowledge of technology to solve the problem.

Family is important”, little Eddie Hanselin said. “I went on Facebook and I typed in Boyson. There were a whole bunch of pictures that showed up. One of them kind of looked like Clifford and I zoomed in on it and it started to really look like Clifford, [so] I showed it to my mom and dad.”

It’s amazing what the faith of a child can accomplish. 

Have a great week. 


Remember their Names and Get Involved to End Violence Against Women

Is it me, or has this past year been especially violent towards young adult women?

Maybe it’s simply that I have heightened awareness since my own daughters are now  young adults, but a couple of stories have haunted me in recent months, that of local girl Samantha Koenig and of  Jyoti Singh Pandey, the New Delhi gang-rape victim who died several days after her brutal attack.
The two girls could not have come from more opposite backgrounds.
Eighteen year-old Samantha Koenig grew up as a poor girl in a rich country with a family background that immediately cast doubt on whether or not they were involved in her disappearance.  Koenig went quietly missing after a night shift at an outdoor Alaskan coffee kiosk, her departure recorded by a security camera that captured the image of the scared Koenig being escorted away by a man who appeared to have a gun. Two months later, her body was located, buried under many feet of ice many miles away from where she was abducted. Serial killer Israel Keyes, who had not met Koenig before he abducted her, was arrested for the sexual assault, rape, and murder of Koenig. 
Though Koenig was surely a part of the lower-caste system in America, local and federal government responded as vigorously, sparing no expense. 
Unlike Koenig, the twenty-three year-old Indian rape victim Jyoti Pandey was a wealthy girl from a poor country.  The assault was in the daylight, in front of many onlookers. Like Koenig’s attack, it was an act of random violence.

As a parent, I try to imagine what it would be like, knowing my child died in fear and pain, and I couldn’t protect her.  

Watch the video clip of protesters in New Delhi demanding tougher laws to address the rampant sexual assault in their country.

Doesn’t it seem strange to hear people talking about making women dress conservatively or to stay at home at night as a solution to prevent gang rape?

Yet in the United States, sexual assault and domestic violence laws didn’t come into play until the late 70’s and 80’s, only after our own protesters took to the streets.

I don’t like thinking about graphic images of  violence against women any more than you do. But it’s clear that having some dialogue about it is the first step in making change. And change needs to happen, because if women aren’t safe in their homes, their jobs, their buses, and their communities, than we’re greatly weakened as a society.

So what can you do to end violence against women?

Talk about it. Unpleasant, yes, but beginning a conversation is the first step toward meaningful change anywhere.

Consider volunteering at a rape crisis or domestic violence shelter, or giving them your donation of clothes or money if possible.

Remember the victim’s names. The father of the New Delhi gang rape victim would like to have a hospital built in her name. She was, after all, a promising medical student, and though Indian law does not allow sexual assault victims names to be released, he insists that remembering his daughter’s name will keep the heinous crime from being forgotten.

Include men in your volunteer efforts. Male leadership is critical in influencing young male’s choices, the laws, and public opinion. Men have mothers, sisters, daughters, and partners, but sometimes have been overlooked as important stakeholders when addressing violence against women.

Together, we can make a difference. Look how far we’ve come already.