Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them

Publishing in 2016: Crowd-funding, blogging and more

Back in 2012, Seth Godin took on a daring venture. He decided to try and crowd-fund the publication of his book The Icarus Deception. Over four thousand backers answered the call and contributed almost $300,000 to the work’s publication. It was a resounding success. The campaign was a hit for several reasons. Seth Godin’s social media following was already huge. He had already been supplying them with new, daily, relevant blogs for years. The premise and pitch of the entire project was simple and easy to understand. It also proved Seth’s point that underpins much of The Icarus Deception: the creative economy is changing, and it’s up to artists to seek new and innovative means of funding their projects.

Since that time, self-publishing has only increased, and the publishing industry has continued to change. So too have notions of authorship. There’s now an entire industry that turns authors into Kindle Kings. These Amazon auteurs write genre fiction, market it, design it and have a direct and meaningful relationship with their readers. It’s a full time, exhausting job, but it has the potential to pay wonderful dividends if the books find their readership.

The trouble is, you don’t have a readership until you’ve published your first book. And you can’t publish your debut book without a readership. An irritating catch twenty-two. So traditional notions of writing processes are now shifting to fit the economy. No longer do writers toil away in private for years – un-funded and under-nourished – before releasing their magnum opus to the world. Blogging and social media serve a convenient double purpose: draft your writing while also building your readership.

There are cons to this model, of course. I’ve read a memoir that the author happily tells the reader was ‘originally based on Facebook posts.’ It won’t surprise you that the book was shallow and uninteresting. Too much of a focus on readership too early in an author’s process can severely erode creativity, undermining risk, and create cookie-cutter corporate work that rarely transcends the constraints of such capitalist pressure.

Still, when it works it works. And for some authors the new creative economy is a brilliantly positive event. When Jen McDonald, author of My Big Breast Adventure, started blogging about her journey through breast cancer recovery, she didn’t have an entrepreneurial intent. She was merely attempting to make sense of the messy pathway, and to connect with other survivors around the world. The blog took off, and its popularity only grew as Jen wrote more. Now, with thousands of words and an eager readership, My Big Breast Adventure has become the perfect candidate for a crowd-funding publishing venture.

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Crowd-funding projects in this way puts complete control back in the hands of the reader and writer. The exchange of goods is only the first step. A reader is also getting additional rewards and personal touches that bigger publishers simply don’t have the means to provide. In the new creative economy, the reader and artists and more empowered, and this can only benefit writing overall.

Visit the Indiegogo campaign here to donate now. To hear Jen speak more about her work, and to listen to her first audiobook for free, visit our podcast here. Or visit the store now to buy Jen’s first work, Vegetarian Vampires.

For Pity Sake Publishing announces ground-breaking new project

For Pity Sake Publishing’s proud to announce a brand new project in innovative publishing. Jennifer McDonald’s wildly successful blog, Big Breast Adventure, which details her treatment of breast cancer, will be turned into a book with the help of a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. Founder and CEO of For Pity Sake Publishing, Jennifer McDonald, released her debut work Vegetarian Vampires in 2015. The book was the amalgamation of Jen’s popular blogs, which presented a humorous, down-to-earth approach to contemporary spirituality. As the final touches were being put on the Vegetarian Vampires project, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a whole new adventure began.

Told with her trademark humour and honesty, My Big Breast Adventure chronicles Jen’s path through chemotherapy, homeopathy, drug treatment, and a quest for wellness and meaning.

The popular blogs gained a close and ardent following. They included, among others, Jen’s oncologist, Dr Michael Copeman. Dr Michael says about the work:

“No patient going through cancer just wants ‘support’. At best, they would like the huge, scary roller-coaster called ‘treatment’ to stop and let them off. At least, they would like to meet someone else on the ride who can give words to the experience and make some sense of it all. Jen McDonald is that person.”

Critical reading for anyone going through a crisis, we believe this work is a critically important take on cancer treatment and recovery. And you can help.

Now a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, donate money to the Big Breast Adventure campaign to receive exclusive rewards, and to support this crucial book. Receive the finished book in time for Christmas.

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Visit the Indiegogo campaign here to donate now. To hear Jen speak more about her work, and to listen to her first audiobook for free, visit our podcast here. Or visit the store now to buy Jen’s first work, Vegetarian Vampires.

A Brave New World of Publishing

Jennifer McDonald, the founder of For Pity Sake Publishing and author of Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them, recently appeared on Artcetera on FM 92.7. She spoke with the host Barbie Robinson about her writing, breast cancer journey and her exciting work as the owner of an independent publishing company. [audio mp3="http://forpitysake.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Jen-McDonald.mp3"][/audio]

Buy a copy of Jenny's debut self-help book here.

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Self-help for the help-reluctant

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘self-help’? Probably what I think – I don’t have time, it’s all the same gibberish, it’s too convoluted and complex to practically apply it to my everyday routine. I hear you. I understand the reluctance to read spiritual guidance – life is busy enough as it is, and I can barely follow common sense practices that I learned when I was twelve, let alone complicated spiritual teachings. But this is what makes Jennifer McDonald’s little book Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them a miracle for impatiently dubious people like me.

It is drawn from Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, a collection of seven laws that are renowned for their simple yet effective laws of nature that when followed and applied to your everyday thinking, can transform your life. He teaches all the fundamentals of spirituality, from daily meditation to practicing non judgement to the laws of karma – reaping what you sow, and so forth. But he also instructs to accept things as they are, to release yourself of expectations and to give and receive everything in life from possessions to love, as if everything can be thought of in terms of currency.

Many have interpreted his laws, but sometimes, for the busy student or the frantic parent, without a voice that one can relate to and examples that mirror those of your own life, spiritual guidance can be tough waters to wade through.

Divided into seven small chapters, Vegetarian Vampires takes Chopra’s laws and explains them with aplomb from McDonald’s personal experience. She is a small business owner and mother, and has taken these verbose and at times confounding laws and brought them down to earth for us mere mortals.

But what makes McDonald's interpretation of Chopra's laws different from every other commentary on achieving success in your life is her ability to take his laws, and through her honest, unique perspective, explains her failures and identifies where Chopra’s advice would have or did guide her to success. From everyday joys and issues, to deaths in the family, to dire work situations, to health issues - she explains how the laws got her out of it, or would have if she had been following them to begin with, helping you understand how to maneuver yourself easily from issue to issue. I have to say, I’ve already noticed subtle changes in my own life - stressing less, focusing more and reflecting on my experiences with a fresh perspective.

So, throughout this blog post you may have been dying to know: what in God’s name is a Vegetarian Vampire? And what do pale monsters on a diet have to do with applying spiritual practices to your life? Sorry folks, there will be no spoilers here. However, suffice to say, a few pages into the book where McDonald’s intent was divulged and her assortment of approaches to life unfolded, I was entranced. Her distinctive perspective on the tribulations we will all face at some point or have already bore is written with a relatable, humble, wise, humorous and supportive voice, and will make your head throw back with laughter and your eyes prick uncomfortably.

This little pocket-sized, self-help book includes something for those of all ages. It will live and breathe in your bag and your bedside table, until you start to notice changes in your life; a trigger in the mind to change its patterns, and once the mind has been changed, the reality changes with it.

 

 

You can buy your copy of Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them here!

Sarah's letter to the author of 'Vegetarian Vampires'

Dear Jen, Firstly, thank you for putting the manuscript for Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn from Them in my path at this time.

It’s such a fantastically rich book. I loved how it is structured for each day of the week. It almost reminds us that we can only ever take one day at a time, that it is OK to start small, start somewhere, just start. I LOVE your writing voice, the weaving of topical references with personal experiences and humour. I laughed while reading this book - sometimes a dry ‘ain’t that the truth’ or a ‘oh I completely understand’ chuckle - although the ‘What would Edward Cullen do?’ question at the end of Day 3's essay gave me a great big belly laugh.

There were so many things that resonated with me, and I think they are best encapsulated by these little notes that I made while reading:

  • What a fantastic reminder that we only have ONE life. We might try to categorise and section off parts of our lives, but what we do in our work lives affects the same ‘us’ as our personal lives.
  • I need more stillness in my life.
  • We have more sway over our own lives than we realise. How often do we hear people who have made ‘life changing’ decisions say ‘I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago’?
  • What a liberating idea; we are the choices we make.
  • The section on Vegetarian Vampires and the fact that while some decisions might start out requiring loads of willpower but the choice becomes easier and easier the more times we make it, resonates with me. I have a condition that results in hairloss and am completely bald. When I first started going out in public without a wig on I had to consciously muster up a sense of courage and strength in order to be brave. Now, I don’t think twice about being bald in public, I don’t need to ‘be brave’ everyday. That strength is now a part of who I am.
  • All of this is possible. Of course we’ll stuff it up and make a mess of it and try to fight against that rip instead of letting go. But that’s when we need a book like this, to remind ourselves that that glorious mess of a journey is my life, my one life. I own it, and today I decide to embrace uncertainty, live lovingly and be myself on purpose. And laugh. Always laugh.
  • I need to read this book again. And then again the month after that.

You have truly given with love in this book. Much love to you, and thank you once again.

Sarah Peters PhD Theatre Student, University of Southern Queensland

Sarah Peters Headshot

 

 

Vegetarian Vampires- The Book!

My life was very different eight years ago, long before the Big Breast Adventure. I was working 10 to 12 hour days in-house with a huge, complex and demanding client who shall remain nameless (OK, it was Qantas). My mother-in-law had just passed away very suddenly sending shock waves through the family, my daughter was progressing through those challenging pubescent high school years and my son was struggling with an as yet unidentified learning difficulty. To say life was busy and stressed would be the understatement of the millennium.

Because I never had time to read anything other than newspapers and business magazines during the average working week, it wasn’t until we took a much-needed family holiday to Hawaii that I actually picked up and tried to read Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. In my haste to get through some non-work related reading material in my time off (oh, the pressure!) I skipped the introduction and started straight into the first law – Pure Potentiality. This chapter only runs for a few pages (as they all do) but it took me hours to read it, just trying to get a handle on what the man was on about.

Fast forward a few years by which time the work-life balance thing had become a complete joke.  By this time I’d abandoned the 12 hour days in favour of short-term in-house gigs for individual clients and had even had therapy for a while. Nevertheless, the stressed-and-running-around-list kept mounting with a dyslexia diagnosis for my son; the sharp deterioration of my Brisbane-based father’s health precipitating a move to a nursing home, and my widowed father-in-law in his 90s living alone in Canberra.

Somewhere in amongst all of this, the little book I had taken to Hawaii to read (only getting through the first chapter) literally leapt out and fell at my feet during an attempt to restore some order to the bookshelf beside my bed. Seeing this as a sign, I started to read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success once again, not skipping the introduction this time.  This turned out to be the smartest move of all because the introduction frames the purpose of the book beautifully, just as the Afterword provided a neat summation when I finally reached it – I’ve been a fan of reading both ever since.

I also started carrying Chopra’s neat little handbag-sized book around with me reading each day’s law on the day it was meant to be read. I quickly found the daily texts that had me baffled on first reading were now providing tools to either face the day ahead, if I read it in the morning, or to make sense of what had gone down during the day if I happened to read the passage at bed time.

I guess I can credit this little book with kick-starting my blogging career, such as it is. In trying to make sense of the many guru-like recommendations in it’s pages, I started writing down my thoughts and the connections I was making between Chopra’s commentary and the tribulations of my daily life. By doing this I was merely trying to make sense of the Seven Laws myself and perhaps help some other people along the way. What these blogs became, however, is a sort of non-guru/normal person’s guide to applying these spiritual notions to real life  I’m delighted to tell you that they’re now available as my first book – Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them – the self-help book for people who don’t read, or even like, self-help books.

And I’ve learned two really big things on the path to getting my first book published – and I don’t mind sharing with you good people. Firstly, I wrote every blog post in the book except for the last, Saturday’s Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life – before I knew I had breast cancer.  I was editing the manuscript for publication last year when I was going through protracted chemo and radiation treatment. One could be forgiven for thinking this might have changed my perspective somewhat but it didn’t – and for that I am deeply thrilled and very grateful. I feel like I am walking proof that all this ‘woo-woo’ talk really does stack up when the chips are down. And as my writing coach and editor, Dave Burton, so eloquently put it in Vegetarian Vampire’s Afterword, “What good is any of this, after all, if it’s not useful when we most need it?” Now there’s a smart boy.

The second big thing I learned is that blogs can turn into books – and as the owner of a fledgling publishing company I think that’s truly awesome.

And now a special offer for my dear readers – buy a copy of Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them for A$30.00 and I’ll twist my publisher’s arm to throw in a second copy for free. I’ve even sign them both to whomever you want. Just leave a comment on this blogpost.

Oh, and one final thing – watch this space because now we have a taste for this ‘getting books published’ caper, the next one entitled The Dalai Lama in My Letterbox about (you’ve probably guessed) the Big Breast Adventure will be hot on Vegetarian Vampire’s heels.

All the breast!