“Share your story”
It’s not always a dream that we have from the time we are little.
Sometimes it’s born of necessity, because the thing we REALLY NEED doesn’t exist yet.
When Paula decided to write a book, she did it because it was she needed but didn’t have.
She is a mom, an advocate and consultant, and an author. She is a ROCKSTAR.
After being rejected from three traditional publishing houses, she shook it off and did it HERSELF.
Paula shared her motivation; that if her book can help one child feel special and know that they aren’t alone, then her work will not be in vain.
Please join me in congratulating this dedicated mom!
Find Paula on Her website! On Facebook!
Introduction: 00:00 Welcome to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast where we celebrate writers who have completed their books and inspire writers who haven’t. Join Laurie and her guests as they talk about writing, books, and life in between chapters.
Laurie: 00:17 Hello everybody. Welcome again to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast where we talk to authors and find out what makes them tick. So please welcome Paula Lancaster. Hello Paula.
Paula: 00:30 Hello. And thank you for having me on.
Laurie: 00:33 Oh Gosh, you are so welcome. Thank you for coming on with me. It’s still very new, so I’m learning and, but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s really fun to talk to people like this about books.
Paula: 00:44 Oh, that’s great. I mean this is very new, so I’m excited.
Laurie: 00:48 Yeah, I could talk about books all day. So, okay. So let’s start. Share with people sort of who you are and what you do and then you can share with us about your book.
Paula: 00:59 I am Paula Lancaster and I’m a mom to two beautiful girls. And my youngest daughter was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder when she was very young. And so I’m back then, which was about 10 years ago. I didn’t really have any resources to go to, to kind of explain to other children and also adults what this was because it’s such a long name and, and it’s very complicated. So I sort of, I just started kind of writing and so, I had like about six different manuscripts that I actually just had sitting around and didn’t do anything with because I couldn’t find anybody to publish them. So.
Laurie: 01:37 That’s kind of common.
Paula: 01:38 That was like 10 years ago. Yeah, exactly. And that was like 10 years ago.
Laurie: 01:42 Yes. Yeah. So just when the Kindle was being released, really, what was the big change in the whole public.
Paula: 01:53 Absolutely.
Laurie: 01:54 That’s a very common theme that, you know, we all kinda looked around and like who’s going to come publish my book? But then something motivated you to figure it out and do it yourself. So can you point to one thing that, that was the big kicker or…
Paula: 02:08 Well, I think I was, I’m just inspired by, you know, by other people and realizing and learning that, you know, oh, I can self publish. And so that was huge because I just had these, you know, these files sitting around and like a flash drive for years and, because I couldn’t find a publishing company to represent me, then I just had them sitting and so I was very excited to find out what I could actually do it myself. And it was so much easier and you know, and it happened pretty quickly once I figured it out.
Laurie: 02:39 Awesome. Talk to me about. So you have this idea, you’re looking for resources for your daughter. There isn’t any. So you write this book and you’re not published yet and you’re not quite sure you’re going to be. So how were you feeling at that point?
Paula: 02:55 Well, it was at first it was a little, you know, I guess, you know, I was a little saddened by it and you know, it kind of, you take it personally. But then I realized too, I still share the story. I just didn’t have a book with it, you know. And so I would share this story of my daughter having a feeding tube because of her, gastrointestinal disorders. So I share this story, I just didn’t have a book to go along with it and, but it was a little, you know, you feel defeated a little, you know, I’m just wondering what my daughter, even though it’s a rare disorder, it’s not that rare. So, you know, I knew that the book would be helpful to other children and other families. So it was, it was tough at first. So…
Laurie: 03:34 And then I made the decision, you figured out what to do then you did it. And then how did you feel when Emma’s Special Tummy was finally released?
Paula: 03:43 I felt amazing. It felt so great because it was finally done and my daughter, I let her have input because of course now she’s 11 and so she was able to give input on, on Emma and, and just some things about the book. And so that was the very exciting part too, is just having her old enough to give me input for the book and, and just to actually have it in my hand was very exciting.
Laurie: 04:10 You were proud?
Paula: 04:12 Oh, absolutely. It was a long time coming. Very long time.
Laurie: 04:16 Kid’s proud?
Paula: 04:17 Like, oh absolutely, I mean my daughter, you know, just to say basically that it’s her, you know, and so this was her story and so she’s very excited and she gets tickled when people ask for her autograph in the book. So yeah. So that’s fun.
Laurie: 04:34 Cool. And when you mention you had lots of stories, like do you have lots more stories and are they all about Emma or do you have a variety?
Paula: 04:42 Well, there they are about her because her journey was very different, you know, with her having so many food allergies that a typical birthday party for us is not typical for everyone else. And so I kind of wrote about that, you know, we don’t have, we didn’t have the typical birthday cake so we had to be creative and so, so there was some stories that I wrote about, about her journey along the way. So they’re all about Emma, but um, it’s just different parts of her life so that they can have a whole series of.
Paula: 05:13 Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Laurie: 05:16 Okay. And to give people an idea. So you kind of wrote it on and off for 10 years, but then once you decided to publish it yourself, how long did that process take?
Paula: 05:30 It did not take long. I mean, I, it was so funny because I wrote it so long ago that once I looked at it I realized, Oh wait, this is, you know, it definitely needs some help. So I sort of rewrote it and you know, had great help with and you know, you’ve been great and helpful with it as well and just having people edited and helped me along the way. But I would, I would say maybe a couple months and then I was getting it published so I’m just getting illustrated and I think that because I’m so picky about things that probably took the longest. But that’s my graphic designer background too. So I was very picky.
Laurie: 06:07 You’re lucky to have that background.
Paula: 06:09 Yeah, I mean definitely. So I kind of went in and tweaked some things on my own but it took a couple months but it didn’t take long at all. I mean considering it had been sitting for 10 years.
Laurie: 06:20 Right. So that’s really similar to my story because my book sat for 10 years and then I, once I made the decision to publish, like to be vulnerable and put it out there in the world, which was a tough choice for me anyway. And I, I sort of researched, you know, how long it would take if I went the traditional publishing route versus how long it would take if I self published and if you go traditional, even if you have green lights the whole way it’s two to three years and like you said, if you self publish it can be ready in months and it for a picture book is the illustrations that usually take the longest. And I’m a very impatient person so as soon as I found that out I didn’t even try that route. I like no I waited 10 years, I am not waiting two more years, you know, and I think it was five months for me. So I think it’s cool for people to, to learn that and how quickly it can happen.
Paula: 07:19 Absolutely. I mean the publishing industry is interesting too, so I felt a little judged like, oh well maybe they feel like my story’s not good enough or you know, and yet I took it personally because it was my daughter’s story. So that’s the other thing.
Laurie: 07:33 Yes, they are, I think affectionately referred to as the gatekeepers in a lot of writers, circles, writer groups and it’s because they have the power to say yes or no. And I think you’re right. I think that it, it does feel like you’re being judged for your work and your life almost when you write about your life. That’s not a nice feeling.
Paula: 07:57 No, not at all. Especially when it comes to your children, you’re very protective.
Laurie: 08:02 Right. So I’m so happy that you, you know, even though you felt that way, you persevered and you came up the other side and now you have a book and like you, I feel like that kind of judgment for a lot of people might make them shut down and stop and, you know, throw the…
Paula: 08:19 Absolutely.
Laurie: 08:20 Throw the thumb drive out.
Paula: 08:20 I mean, had I not gotten the information I, you know, I found out later of course, many years later that I could publish it and so that made all the difference in the world and I think a lot of people do feel defeated and then they just give up on it and I just, you know, of course the biggest lesson is to not give up and just keep moving ahead with your book because your story is something so important that someone else needs to hear it.
Laurie: 08:44 Oh, I love that. So much. So that was going to be my next. My next question for you is what advice do you have for people? So don’t give up. Keep going.
Paula: 08:52 Yes, absolutely. Keep going. I mean, I got a picture of a little girl holding my book and her mom said that her daughter walked around with the book and said this was me when I was in the hospital and… It brought tears to my eyes, but it was the best thing if I hadn’t sold another book. I was so content with that. So that’s why I did it so it could help someone else.
Laurie: 09:12 Oh, I love that. Thank you.
Paula: 09:13 Yeah, I know you’re getting teary eyed, but that’s what I mean. I was just, I was just bawling so it was such a beautiful story and she’s such a little girl but you know, a young girl, but you know, just the feeling of a child knowing that they’ve been hospitalized, that there’s someone else out there who has the same disorder, or at least has a feeding tube and you know, maybe going through something similar that they’re not alone and that’s why I did it. So it is important that we get our stories out there. Whatever the story is because it could be helpful to someone else.
Laurie: 09:44 I agree. So that’s great. What or is there another, um, you know, important lesson that you’ve learned through this process that you could share?
Paula: 09:54 Just be patient with yourself because you know, it gets frustrating at times. And so I think the biggest thing is to be patient and also just keep moving ahead and don’t give up. That’s the biggest lesson is it’s possible. Just keep, keep at it’s as possible.
Laurie: 10:10 Just keep writing, just keep writing…
Paula: 10:14 Yes just keep writing and just be ready. Always be ready.
Laurie: 10:16 Okay. Yeah. So, I told you I was going to ask this question. I hope you’re okay with it. I’m asking everybody because I think it’s really important to share this part of it and that’s the money that you’ve earned and I think it’s important so that people have a realistic idea of what’s going to happen after they published their book. So how many dollar signs have you earned?
Paula: 10:38 Well, I am not quite there yet with a profit, and I know that, you know, that will come and so I think people need to be realistic about that too, you know, it would be great to sell a million books, but, you know, like I said, that one book made the difference in the world to me just selling that, knowing that little girl it helped her, but, you know, realistically just being patient with it. But also pushing forward whether you’re selling them a, wherever you’re selling them online, but also selling them other places as well. You’re your biggest advocate and you know, you’re also your publicist. So I think just, you know, putting it out there and marketing yourself and your book too, so just, you know, pushing ahead. So I know the dollars will come.
Laurie: 11:26 I think that’s terrific advice and I know that you have a plan for when you have more dollar signs rolling in. So share with us what that plan is.
Paula: 11:35 Well the plan is to create the Emma’s Special Tummy doll and so I’ve been working on the prototype for that. I’m very excited about that. And just because I think there’s so many children who are hospitalized and so to give them a soft doll that they can take with them to the hospital and just cuddle and the doll has a feeding tube just like they’ll have. And so it’s something that it just means the world to me and you know, and that’s, it’s just been great working on that as well and I can’t wait to get that out there.
Laurie: 12:05 Oh, I love that. Your next interview, I’m going to have the tissues ready right here. So I know that you do speaking engagements and you do some traveling to educate people about, you know, children’s allergies and things. Did that, did you do that before the book or did it just come after? Can you explain how that sort of came about?
Paula: 12:27 Well, I mean I, I’ve kind of gone around just because of my daughter’s disorder and just kind of educating people in general. Um, so I’ve been doing it for awhile because like I said, I wrote this book 10 years ago but I didn’t have it published and so I would actually go around and talk about my daughter’s disorder and why she had a feeding tube. And so, so I’ve been doing it for a while while and just as, as an advocate for my daughter, it just became who I am and you know, who we are together because I have to put it out there and just, you know, explained the importance of food allergies and just educating teachers as well as you know, other children about it. So yeah, that’s been huge, but it’s something I’ve done all along.
Laurie: 13:08 And do you say it turning into a bit of a business, is it really something that you’re just going to continue doing, like to help and to like volunteer about or…
Paula: 13:16 Yeah, I mean I definitely, I kind of, it, it’s funny, it came to me because I was constantly giving advice and giving information out and so I did turn it into a business. So I’m food allergy advocate and consultant and I just recently created a tool kit to help other parents kind of walk through and navigate the school system. Grocery store is meal planning, a travel and other things that are just a part of life that is not just, you know, for us it’s not just a so simple. So we have to be a little bit more cautious and, and just, you know, prepared for everything, every situation.
Laurie: 13:53 Oh that’s wonderful! Where can people find that or find you or…?
Paula: 13:56 Well, I’m, it’s easy. I’m it’s at PaulaLancaster.com and that’s my website. And so there’s information about the toolkit as well as Emma’s Special Tummy. And, so it’s, it’s just, it’s an informational site, but it’s also, it gives you tools that you can use and the toolkit is there. So it’s just a training to walk parents through. Just navigating everyday life.
Laurie: 14:19 Oh, I think that’s so important. I have a severe nut allergy. I’m lucky enough my kids don’t have it. They don’t have any allergies yet, but I remember going, you know, when they’re, they’re not quite two, you don’t know if they do necessarily yet or not. So I remember going to those places and parents would give their kids, I’m nut snacks, I’ll, you know, and you can see it. And so I’m aware of for my own self, but then I saw the kids go through the place and touch everything. Oh. My goodness. The potential for disaster is huge there. And so I just felt so fortunate for myself because I, I knew what I would have to be dealing with if my kids had allergies. So, you know, for, for what you’re talking about and how severe it is, like it’s just such a mountain that people without allergies have no idea.
Paula: 15:08 It really is. And it’s, that’s why I’m out here, just trying to educate people and especially schools, because that’s a big thing is just to make sure kids are safe in school. It’s easy to protect your, your children at home, but school is another story. So just kind of educating them and helping them make the parents feel a little bit more comfortable about kids being safe at school.
Laurie: 15:28 Yeah, I imagine it’s hard to let them go.
Paula: 15:31 Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough.
Laurie: 15:35 So Emma’s doing well?
Paula: 15:36 Yes. She’s doing very well and thriving. Just entered middle school this year, so that’s scary enough
Laurie: 15:47 That’s scary enough without the food allergies.
Paula: 15:48 So yes, but she’s doing very well and now she’s old enough to really manage her own allergies, which is great. So she’s very, very good with them. You just being aware of her, what she can have and what people are eating around her as well.
Laurie: 16:04 Yeah. Okay. I love this. So you did the back, you really had a purpose. You really had a, you know, a goal of helping and educating and if there’s other parents, I’m really with a strong message like you is just, let’s leave on, do you have one last thing to say to parents like you?
Paula: 16:23 Absolutely. If you have a story to share, share it. I mean, don’t give up on it. Put it out there. It can help somebody else. And especially people with children, if you have a story, it needs to be heard. That’s my biggest message for today.
Laurie: 16:38 Oh, I love that. Thank you so much, Paula.
Paula: 16:41 Thank you for having me on here, Laurie. I really appreciate that.
Laurie: 16:45 Welcome. My pleasure. Thank you for starting off with me. You know, I’m still new, so I think I’ll stop the recording, but I want to chat with you.
Paula: 16:53 Okay. Thank you. Bye.
Laurie: 16:56 Bye everyone.
Outro: 16:59 You’ve been listening to the Wrighter’s Way Podcast. For show notes, links to guests information, and to learn more about the Wrighter’s Way, check out Lauriewrighter.com. Until next week, enjoy this chapter of your life.