Lois Strachan – Author
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji,
I’m jumping up and down and bounding around in ecstatic circles to tell you that my book has finally been published.
Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog is full of stories about me and my human and doggy family, from my puppyhood right up to the present. Although, to be fair, it’s not entirely up to the present because we had to stop writing so we could get the book ready to be read by you. So we decided to make the end of 2020 our cut-off. But let’s be honest, what with the pandemic and all, not much has happened in 2021 anyway. Except that we’ve been busy with the book.
You may be wondering why you should read my book.
It is full of stories about me and my doggy siblings, lots of stories about the many different ways I help my mom, information about the work a guide dog does, and explains why I think humans are sometimes strange. And it’s fun.
Maybe I should let you know what someone else thinks of the book. Because I admit I’m a little biased because I wrote it… with a little bit of help from my mom. Here’s a review from Amazon.
“Fiji the Labrador retriever is a witty little blond that shares her adventures with her owner in a fun and educational way. It is a fun and easy read about the challenges Lois and Fiji faces together. It would be a great gift for dog lovers or a book for the family to read together for young and old.”
I’m so happy that people are reading my story. I’m going to buy lots of dog treats with all my royalties… And maybe I’ll even share them with my doggy siblings, Emily, Allie and Onyx.
Oh, I almost forgot, here’s how you can buy the book for yourself:
South African paperback: https://www.loisstrachan.com/order-form/
Hello everyone – it’s me, Fiji!
I’m so excited right now that I’m bouncing up and down and wagging my tail full speed. Because the book that Mom and I wrote is now available on Amazon.
Even more than that, we’re going to be having a launch party on Zoom and would love for you to be there. And you might win a free copy of our book, “Pause for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog”
To book for the launch party, go to https://bit.ly/38C8uHz
The party will take place at 17:00 South African time on Sunday, 12 September and everyone is invited… your doggy companions as well!
And, to be amongst the first to read our book, the Kindle version is available for pre-order on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FGYPYP4?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420
Mom and I hope you can attend our celebration… and that you feel inspired to buy the book and read my story. It would also be wonderful if you could tell your friends about the book and the online celebration – we would love to have as many people there as possible!
Oh yes, we are planning a South African print run of the book soon if you prefer to read it in that format… more on that as we get everything organised…
I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts recently when the presenters mentioned the word blursday. It’s described as the sensation that one day blurs into the next. The word fits the way I’ve been feeling over the past few days perfectly. And it’s exhausting.
For one thing, I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to do anything. Which is impacting both of my writing projects. I know I have work to do before I can publish the audio version of my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing, and Fiji’s book, Paws for Thought. But it’s so hard to scrape together the energy to get them finished.
And because I feel like I’m not making progress I become more demoralized…
In reality I know I’m making progress, no matter how small. And I do manage to get tasks ticked off my To-Do-List every day. I’m just frustrated with myself that it’s not happening faster.
On the bright side… and looking beyond my somewhat self-pitying blursday reflections… I am now so close to publishing Fiji’s book that I can almost touch the finished product – the back cover is now designed and we are busy getting everything set up on Amazon. From there I need to start working on a local print run for those of Fiji’s friends who want paper copies, and then hit play on the Amazon pre-order of the book. And then start implementing our plans for a fun online book launch.
My audio book isn’t quite as close to completion. I’m still waiting for feedback on the audio quality of the recordings from my beta listeners, including myself. And then to move onto the process of actually getting the book listed on the various audio book platforms. So why is it so hard for me to become enthused about hitting the play button on the recordings myself?
When the blursday sensation sends me into another of those exhausting foggy states, I reassure myself with a phrase a friend of mine used to tell me – Don’t worry, this too shall pass. And I believe that is true. I just hope it will be soon.
PS: The podcast I was listening to when I heard them talking about Blursday is called Something Rhymes with Purple, a podcast about the English language and words. It’s fun and educational.
It’s been forever since I last updated you on the progress of my project to publish an audio version of my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way. Admittedly, when I started the project, I imagined it would take me only a month or two to get it done. Which only goes to show how naïve I am at times. Because that was almost two years ago.
Here is an update on my progress so far.
My wonderful narrator, Julie Norman, has completed the audio files of the book. This was the first, and definitely biggest part of the project. I think Julie has done a marvelous job and has brought my words to life with her reading. Admittedly, it felt somewhat strange listening to someone else read the words that I had written, but I’m still glad I asked Julie to narrate the book.
I’m currently working with several beta readers to check the audio quality and consistency of the recordings. It’s hard for me to listen objectively, both because it is my own words that are being narrated, and because I know how much time and effort went into the recording of the text. Hopefully I will get a more honest opinion from my test readers.
Once I’m content that the recordings are good to go, I will then start the process of getting the book into the various audio book platforms like Audible. This would be easier if I lived in USA, Canada, UK or Ireland, as I could then simply upload them to Audible myself. Because I live outside those countries, I need to go through an external company to publish the books. Which, of course, means there is yet one more person nibbling away at my income from the book. But, at least the book will be available for people to read in audio.
I wish I could give you an estimate of the timeline from here. In reality, like most other parts of the writing and publishing industries, it is hard to know for sure and much depends on the focus I give the project. Since I’m also busy getting Fiji’s book ready to publish, I have to be careful about the decisions I make on prioritizing my time. But I will get the audio book of A Different Way of Seeing out as soon as I can, I promise. Likewise with Fiji’s book, “Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog”.
Phew, 2021 is turning into quite a busy ear for me when it comes to writing. Busy and exciting!
Here is another podcast interview I did recently, this time with the Eyes on Success podcast.
It’s not often that the interviews I give are based primarily on my illustrated children’s series, “The Adventures of Missy Mouse”. This was a refreshing topic for me to focus on, made even more fun by having the opportunity to answer a few questions put to me by two charming young boys, the grandsons of the podcast presenters.
You can hear the questions they asked, and my attempts to answer them in a way that would make sense to them, in the interview. You can also hear my thoughts on why it is important for persons with disabilities to be represented in literature of all kinds.
Listen to the interview: www.EyesOnSuccess.net/eos_2127_podcast.mp3
You can also find out more about The Missy Mouse books on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/loisstrachan
“I am named Fiji, and am a yellow Labrador cross Golden Retriever.
I have a very special job – I’m a guide dog for the blind. Being a guide dog takes discipline and focus, but it also means my life is full of excitement. I have had plenty of adventures with my mom, Lois Strachan, both as a guide and when my harness is released.
I have had a real dog’s life and boy, I have loved every bit of it. And I am here to share it with you in my own words.”
Fiji and I are over the moon to be able to share the first chapter of her book, Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog with you and anyone you know who loves dogs.
You can download the free chapter at https://www.loisstrachan.com/paws-for-thought/
And please share the link – the more people who read it, the better! Because we are so excited to be able to share my beautiful guide dog’s story with the world.
PS Keep watching the blog for updates on when the book will be published in its entirety – we’re working hard to get there!
Here is a recent interview I did on how I became a writer. If you are one of the people who would love to write a book but do not know where to start, the PublishHer Podcast might be a great starting point for you.
The PublishHer Podcast is the brainchild of Alexa Bigwarfe, who runs the Write_ Publish_ Sell and the Women in Publishing communities. I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry and marketing books from Alexa and her team and the resources they share. So I was excited when they offered me the opportunity to talk about my experiences as a writer.
Here’s my interview:
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about my writing and the publishing industry.
In the past month I’ve written quite a bit about the books I’ve been reading. Which has resulted in a few questions about how I actually engage with books.
When I first lost my sight I had no idea of how I might be able to read books. Reading had been a fundamental part of my life since I learned to make sense of the written word and I was seldom to be found without a book, or several books, within reach. So I was terrified I might never be able to read again now that I was blind.
Over time I learned how needless that fear was.
As a blind person I have several different options of how to read. I can listen to a book on audio, just as you might listen to a book from Audible. In fact, many visually-impaired people are avid Audible fans and enjoy listening to books being read by human narrators.
I can also listen to a book on my phone or laptop, using the electronic voice of my screen reader, the application that reads whatever appears on the screen of the device. While this may sound like the most foreign of my reading options to someone who is sighted, it is actually my first choice.
The digital screen reader voice is mostly neutral in tone. It adheres to some spoken norms– dropping the tone at the end of a sentence, or raising it to indicate a question.
To me, this gives the closest experience to reading by sight. All too often I find human narrators interpret the words they’re reading. Which means I am somewhat restricted by their interpretation. Reading with a digital voice gives me the freedom to interpret the text and the story using my own imagination, just as I used to do before I became blind.
I admit that I’m part of a very tiny minority of blind bookworms who choose to read this way. Most seem to prefer human narration. Or using braille.
Braille is also useful as a way to read books. Either a visually-impaired person can read a physical braille book, or they can read a book on a digital device using a braille display. While I’m not really a braille user, which means it would take me months to finish a book that would take me only a few hours on my phone or laptop, I’ll be the first to admit that braille is a great way to read a book without requiring the use of one’s ears. For many people, that can be an advantage. Or in some cases, especially for those who are deaf-blind, a necessity.
So there are several ways I could choose to read as a blind person. I want to stress that none of these choices are better or worse than the others. It is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Regardless of how I engage with books, the important thing is that I have several options as a reader who is blind. So I need never be without books, as I thought I would be when I first lost my sight, the memory of which still makes me shudder. And then reach for the comfort of my book reader to reassure myself that all is well with my book world.
Book Review: The Kindle Publishing Bible: How to Sell More Kindle Ebooks on Amazon, by Tom Corson-Knowles
Three posts in a row about books? That’s a little unusual for me. Yet, since books, reading and writing are such important parts of my life, it’s possibly more strange that I don’t write about books more often.
As a writer I’m always keen to learn how to write, publish and market books more effectively. Which is why The Kindle Publishing Bible: How to Sell More Kindle Ebooks on Amazon, by Tom Corson-Knowles, published by TCK Publishing, was of such interest to me
Even though this book was published a few years ago and certain Amazon features may have changed since then, it was a book full of useful information and great resources to assist an author considering self-publishing on the Amazon platform.
However, the book doesn’t stop there. There are also great tips to assist with the writing process included. I especially found the chapter about selecting a title for a book of interest, since this is something I’m currently battling with myself. The suggestions given will definitely stay with me.
While I have not yet had a chance to investigate the many promotional tools given in the book, there are bound to be at least a few that can assist with the marketing of a self-published book, which often proves a stumbling block for new authors.
In conclusion, I found this quick-reading book both practical and easy to follow. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to publish and market a book through Amazon.
Okay, okay, so I’m not actually touring round Africa. But what else would you call it?
This year I set myself two reading goals: to read some of the classics I didn’t get to when I was at school, and to focus on reading outside the genres I tend to default to. The first book I read was Homegoing, by Ghanaian-born Yaa Gyasi. That was the book that shifted my reading into an unexpected direction, and focused me specifically on authors from the African continent.
One of the characters in Homegoing is a history teacher in Ghana. At one point he cautions his students that the texts they study often reflect only a single perspective. That they should try to find the voices that are silenced in the texts. And I became intensely aware of how few books I had read by authors from Africa. Even more, how few of those that I had read were by authors whose voices had traditionally been marginalized in the publishing industry.
Rather than spending time researching possible books, I posted a question on a Facebook book group. And received more than 75 recommendations of books written by authors based in Africa. From numerous countries. In fact, I have so many books and authors to try that I feel slightly overwhelmed. Which isn’t a bad thing when it comes to books!
So far I’ve read three books, each from a different country.
1 Homegoing – by Yaa Gyasi (Ghana)
2 If We Are to Become: A Conversation Taking Us to the Next Level – by Ruramai Sithole (Zimbabwe)
3 The Shadow King – by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia)
I wish I could find a way to track the books I’ve read on a map of Africa, but can’t think of one. It’s one of the few times that my blindness has posed me a challenge I can’t solve without sighted help. That’s just the way it is sometimes.
I know I already have a long list of authors and titles to read. But I’m always keen to learn about great books. So why not let me know a few of your favourite books by African authors. I’d love to hear them!