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Book Journeys Author Interview – Jan 2, 2014

Dr. Angela Lauria with Chloe JonPaul, author of Entering the Age of Elegance – A Rite of Passage and Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman.
 

“You have to know who your audience is. You have to identify your audience and know where they’re at.” ~Chloe JonPaul
 

Angela:
Well, hello, everybody, and welcome to Book Journeys Radio. My name is Angela Lauria, I am the creator of the Author Incubator and of the Ten Steps to Writing a Book That Makes a Difference, the Difference Process, and every week – on Book Journeys Radio, we talk to an author about their experience – really transforming into an author, what the process of writing their book was like, what obstacles they’ve had to overcome in order for them to get their book out in the world, and the power of sharing your message. And so, this – this week, I am really excited to have, with me, author Chloe JonPaul, she is the author of several books, but we’re gonna talk today about her latest book, Entering the Age of Elegance. You can check that out at enteringtheageofelegance.com, enteringtheageofelegance.com, Chloe, thank you so much for being with us!
 

Chloe:
Thank you for having me.
 

Angela:
So – so, let’s start out – tell us about the book, what’s it about?
 

Chloe:
Well, it’s a travel guide for midlife and Boomer women who are terrified of ageing, and ageing, unless you die prematurely, is something we’re all going to experience, and so many women buy into what Hollywood – pharmaceutical companies, cosmetics companies – and the media have to say about staying young, and – and they spend hours – and money and – and their – their self-esteem goes down the tubes buying into all of this stuff, and – I decided that, after traveling world-wide and talking with women everywhere, that I needed to write about this, because I’m very comfortable with the ageing process, and because I am a world traveler, all seven continents, by the way –
 

Angela:
Mmm! That’s nice!
 

Chloe:
Yeah. And – so, I decided – to write it in the format like Frommer’s – Frommer’s Lonely Planet – and – guide women – to face this inevitability in their lives and to do it with style and grace. And it fulfils my basic philosophy of life, which is, find a need and fill it.
 

Angela:
Mmm.
 

Chloe:
And I think I – I’ve done that with all four of my books.
 

Angela:
I – well, let’s talk for a minute about your four – so, this is your fourth book, what –
 

Chloe:
Actually, it – no. Actually – it turned out to be my second book –
 

Angela:
Oh!
 

Chloe:
– and it’s a long story as to how everything else has turned out, because I had a lot of stuff on the back burner, and – really – had decided not to do much with any of it. But you – you can ask me what you want and I’ll respond –
 

Angela:
Ha!
 

Chloe:
– we can move along.
 

Angela:
Well, I guess my question was – for a lot of people, they think for a long time, “I really wanna write a book.” I don’t know if that’s an experience you had, but they wanna do it, they wanna do it, but things get in the way. Somehow, it doesn’t get done, and so, I just wanted to ask, before you finished your first book – ho – how did you do it? What – what …
 

Chloe:
Okay, well, I’ve – actually, I’ve been writing all my life, even as a teenager I wrote, and – and then – into adulthood, I wrote – articles – for newspapers and magazines, nothing tremendously important or memorable – but that was – that was basically it. I turned my attention to my teaching career, and also being a wife and mother, and – and that was pretty much it. And – and then – I had to be a caregiver for my parents, and I had also – been a caregiver – for my grandparents before the – the – a term was even coined.
 

Angela:
Hm-mm.
 

Chloe:
But after having to take care of my parents and doing the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, which was placing them in a long-term care facility on the same day – and then seeing what was going on there, especially with other people visiting their loved ones – not knowing how to visit – not knowing how to deal with staff and administrators and all – all the rest, and so, I took a survey, and – wanted to find out what people really were interested in knowing more about. And that’s how that book came about, and – that book took me all over the United States, doing presentations and workshops to family caregivers and also professional caregivers. We’re talking ARP, NIH – I – I’ve been to those places. So – right now – the paperback edition is no longer in circulation, the – Kindle is available for ninety-nine cents, and I – I want to just say to your listeners, I have never been in this for fame and fortune, okay? Like I said, I want to work my philosophy of life, find a need and fill it, and that was a real need that people had.
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
So, I managed to do that, and I think I managed to do it with Entering the Age of Elegance. Now, with the third book, I took a leave of absence from my teaching, one year, because it had been a very taxing, trying year for me, and I was not feeling all that great. So, I took a leave of absence, and I went back to Maine, where I had done the best teaching of my life, my – my entire career, and I spent the year there with a friend of mine, and while I was there – I wrote this novel – called This Business of Children, but it’s not kid stuff. The title takes its name from what one of the characters says in the book. And – and then, after I wrote it, I trashed it, okay? My friend picked it up, she said, “You are not throwing this away.” So, I took it back, shelved it, went on to other things, practically forgot about it. And then, about three and a half years ago, everything that I was reading about or hearing about in the news regarding teachers hit me like a bombshell, and I said, “Oh, my God, all this stuff is in my book!”
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
Including the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of the shuttle tragedy –
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
– the Challenger tragedy. So – I thought, “Well, maybe I can do something with this.” And the rest is history. The book was published, it’s been written into a screenplay by Don McNab, a very well-known screenwriter, and there is a publisher, a – excuse me, producer, interested in it – and he envisions it as a movie made for TV. So, I don’t know what will happen with that, and I’m certainly not losing any sleep over it – …
 

Angela:
Mm-hmm! It’s a nice opportunity, though.
 

Chloe:
If it happens, it happens – but – filmmaking is a very long, long process, so I might not even be around, if and when it did get made – because I’m ageing, my next birthday, I will be my seventy-seventh, and – I welcome it. I have probably done more things than most people dream about, and if anyone goes to my website and reads my bio, everything that’s on that bio has been accomplished since the age of fifty.
 

Angela:
Wow, I love that! So – so, you can go to enteringtheageofelegance.com, or you can also check out chloejonpaul, which is c-h-l-o-e-j-o-n-p-a-u-l.com
 

Chloe:
Correct. And – had I written more, it would have been too lengthy, people don’t wanna read lengthy biographies, so –
 

Angela:
(laughs) Yeah. So, let’s talk about what some of the obstacles have been, for you, in getting your books done. What were some of the things that have stood in your way?
 

Chloe:
Well – first of all, I spent – a lot of time and effort trying to find an agent, and that did not work out. And, of course – the big publishing companies, they go after celebrities, et cetera, et cetera. And then, I considered self-publishing, and that’s the route I took, and I’m not regretting it, because that is really what’s going on today. If you look at what’s available, especially on Amazon, much of it is from self-published authors, and if you find a – a publisher who is good and works with you – with distributors, et cetera, et cetera, you – you can do pretty well. And – I – I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished – I – I will never be a bestselling author, I am sure, but that’s not important to me. The important thing is, for me to hear from somebody who’s read one of my books and says to me, “I really needed that, thank you.” And it has – these –
 

Angela:
And what have some of the things, then, that have been hard about that process, because I understand there’s a lot that you’re clear about that makes it easier, and they may be some of the things that might slow other people down, but what was hard for you?
 

Chloe:
Nothing in particular, I guess – I guess the marketing end of it, and, of course – that – that’s difficult for just anybody. You have to spend a lot of time and effort – marketing the book – and – and you have to be well-organized. I, fortunately, happen to be a well-organized person – with record keeping and stuff like that – and – and – just having everything at my fingertips as I need it. And you can make mistakes along the way, as I have done, but it’s okay. You have to give yourself permission to make mistakes and say, “Okay, that was a perfect opportunity for learning something new. What have I learned from this?” And then, take it from there, ‘cause there are bound to be mistakes along the way.
 

Angela:
And – and so, you mentioned that – marketing is something you have been learning along the way – w – w – what did you – what did you think, when you started writing your book, would be the way it would get in peoples’ hands, and then what it turned out to be, the way people you …?
 

Chloe:
Well, the thing is, first of all, you have to know who your audience is. You have to identify your audience and know where they’re at, and with Entering the Age of Elegance, this meant going to a lot of women’s websites – and especially for midlife and Boomer women, and – and – getting there online, joining a forum, finding out what people were talking about, that sort of thing, offering to write – posts for them – and I’m still doing that for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women –
 

Angela:
Wow!
 

Chloe:
– Ann Holmes has asked me to write a series of articles on spirituality, which I’ve done, and, as a matter of fact, I’m ready to send her – the next article – that I have ready for her, and – that – that’s time-consuming – and – and – I’ve done it – with – with other websites – the – I – I – right off the top of my head, I don’t have all these website names in front of me.
 

Angela:
No, but so, let’s talk about this as a strategy, rather than the … your book. So – so, you write the book, and – and many authors, I don’t know if this was your case, I was trying to get you to say this, but – many authors think they’re gonna write their book and they’re gonna put it up on Amazon, wherever, and the right audience is going to magically find their book.
 

Chloe:
No. No.
 

Angela:
It’s the “If you build it, they will come,” strategy.
 

Chloe:
Right, doesn’t work that way.
 

Angela:
And so – (chuckles) doesn’t work that way, and so, in your case – it sounds like one of the strategies that you have put in place is finding people to have an audience that you think would be interested in your book.
 

Chloe:
Exactly. Even with – What Happens Next? for the caregiver community – I contacted so many – different organizations – that deal with – caregivers, and I – did a lot of – work with them – via e-mail, telephone calls, et cetera, and this is where I got my invitation – to come out and – and – do a presentation or a workshop and sell books. And – and then –
 

Angela:
And what do you ask them? How – if – if I am writing a book, let’s say, that’s about – your book is about – ageing gracefully, I’ve got a book about ageing gracefully, how do I pick who to reach out to and what do I say when I reach out to them?
 

Chloe:
Well, I think it’s wise to – write something down that you would want to say in conversation, the points that you would want to make. What are – what are – what are you emphasizing? What is it you want them to know? And then, of course, finding who the key person is in that particular organization or group, and – and – if – if you call and – and you’re – you haven’t – made contact, you call back. If you can e-mail, you e-mail, if they haven’t answered your e-mail, then you call to say, “Did you get my e-mail or did it wind up in your spam folder?” – that sort of thing.
 

Angela:
Mm-hm.
 

Chloe:
But it’s – it – it – like I said, it’s very time-consuming. You have to control the amount of time that you spend on these things, because I, personally, don’t want to be so wrapped up in all of this that I don’t have time for anything else.
 

Angela:
Mm-hmm.
 

Chloe:
You would be amazed at all the other things that I’m involved with besides my writing. Now, for –
 

Angela:
So, how do you decide how much time to dedicate to those sorts of – what would you call that? Networking, or –
 

Chloe:
Well – it – it’s up to the individual, in terms of – w – what – what your schedule is like. Like I said, I have other things in my life that are meaningful to me, that I – make time for, and – I figure – that – when you’re in the heavy-duty writing process or the marketing process – (coughs) excuse me – you may have to spend four to five hours a day – religiously – maybe take a short break here or there.
 

Angela:
Mm-hm-hm.
 

Chloe:
But i – it does – it does – require your time and effort. Now, for example, with my children’s book, because it has an Italian tone to it, because – i – the – the title of the book is The Girl Who Did Not Like Her Name
 

Angela:
Mm-hm.
 

Chloe:
– and her name is Alessandra Theresa Petrucci, and she hates her name, she says, “My name is as long as the alphabet,” and she does everything imaginable to get it changed or shortened until she goes to visit her grandmother and she learns the story behind her name, about her great-great grandmother who came to this country as an Italian immigrant and, without knowing how to read or write, was able to accomplish so many good things, and that changes everything for the little girl. Now, there are a lot of kids out there that don’t like their names. They have crazy names. But, anyway, because there’s an Italian flavor to the book – I contacted the Sons of Italy –
 

Angela:
Hm.
 

Chloe:
– the National Association of Italian-Americans, and – that’s where – I –
 

Angela:
So, Chloe, I just wanna stop you, because this is such a brilliant lesson for people that are listening. So, you have found – what a creative way to find a community for your book, and so many people tell me – I work with a lot of people writing books on self-esteem or self-love, and different topics, but they say, “Well, this book is really for anyone. This book will help anyone.” And, obviously, a book about a little girl who doesn’t like her name would be for anyone – I mean, anyone with a kid – who’d enjoy that book, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl or Italian or – Hispanic or whatever, it doesn’t matter, but marketing to everyone, unless you have some – magical budget, marketing to everyone is really expensive and just hard to do.
 

Chloe:
Yeah, and –
 

Angela:
It – it’s hard to do, so I love the way you’ve gotten so creative, there, and focused out. And anyone with any book, it’s fiction, it’s non-fiction, you can find a community to market your book to. They have to be findable, I was just working with somebody who said, “My market is people in transition. Anybody in transition.” Ho – how do you find those – I don’t know where those people are! In general.
 

Chloe:
… Yeah, this is what I was just saying. And with the novel – I contacted – all the major teachers’ unions across the United States, got wonderful reviews – from – heads of these organizations, and – and again – even though it’s a novel, what’s in the book about teachers, I wanted to celebrate good teachers everywhere, because, in the news, we hear so much garbage – about teachers who have done nasty things, and they are out there, but there are so many good teachers out there.
 

Angela:
Yeah.
 

Chloe:
And so, I wanted the world to know. And, interestingly enough, I don’t know if we have time for this, but since the – since the – Ch – Challenger tragedy is in the book – when the screenwriter was writing the screenplay, he contacted me and he said, “I’d like to develop this part a little bit more,” and, of course, movie scripts never follow the book word for word. I said, “Show me what you wanna do, and if I approve, that’ll be okay.” So, after he sent it to me – I did approve, and I said to him, “Well, we’re gonna have to contact the Challenger Center – to get their approval, because this is a historic thing, and they need to – they need to know what’s going on,” and of course, the Challenger Center was set up by the families of the astronauts who died. So, I called and – gave the nature of my call to the person who answered the phone, and she said, “Well, someone will be in contact with you as soon as possible.” Well, guess who wound up calling me? Commander Scobee’s widow.
 

Angela:
(laughs) Wow! Okay, that’s amazing!
 

Chloe:
… And we had a wonderful conversation …
 

Angela:
And this, for people who don’t know, Commander Scobee was the commander of the Challenger.
 

Chloe:
Correct.
 

Angela:
Wow.
 

Chloe:
… So, we had – wonderful conversation on the phone, e-mailed each other back and forth, she read the novel, loved it, read the manuscript, loved it, and then she contacted me, and she said, “I – I’m going to be in the Washington, D.C. area, can we meet?” So, we met in Pentagon City – for afternoon tea, and did – when I was writing this, did I ever think that, someday – I would be sitting with the widow of Commander Scobee.
 

Angela:
So, such a great tip, events that you reference in your book – people that you reference in your book, being – being bold and making that connection, for a lot of people, they might have felt intimidated – to call the – the Challenger Center. Was that …
 

Chloe:
Like I said, you do – you do what you have to do. And the other thing I – I wanna tell you this news, first of all – I – I believe in spirituality. I lead a very spiritual life. My day begins spiritually, and – in – in my book Entering the Age of Elegance, I talk about a wise Indian guru who once said that, “Man is a house with four rooms: the physical, the spiritual, the mental and the emotional. And the problem is that he tends to spend most of his time in only one of those rooms each day, whereas he should be visiting all four each day.”
 

Angela:
Mmm.
 

Chloe:
And I do visit all four each day, and it makes all the difference in the world, and I will end on a note – and share my COPD plan of action with your listeners?
 

Angela:
Sure.
 

Chloe:
It has nothing to do with bad breathing. Okay?
 

Angela:
Okay, good, I was a little worried, I’m – “Is this the new book?” (chuckles)
 

Chloe:
… Okay, my COPD plan of action is simply this: consistency, optimism, perseverance and determination. And that works for me.
 

Angela:
Mmm. That’s wonderful. So – I guess this would probably go under “perseverance,” but – you’ve reached out to a lot of people and made a lot of connections to promote you – to promote your books. What – how do you deal with the “No”’s? When you hear a “No,” how do you deal with hearing “No”?
 

Chloe:
Wha – I’m – so – the here and now?
 

Angela:
No, from hearing the word, “No.”
 

Chloe:
Oh, hearing the word – I’m sorry, I d – (laughs). I – hearing the – well, we have to be prepared for that, okay? Not everybody is going to agree with you. I can tell you that, even with my own, immediate family, they have no interest in anything I’ve done with my writing. I don’t tell them anything, okay? I don’t share anything with them anymore. And – i – it was a decision that I had to make. And, yes, you will hear “no” from different people from time to time, and you just simply say to yourself, “Okay, this was a ‘no’ – hopefully, the next one will be a ‘yes’.”
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
And – that – that’s – that’s fine. We – we have to be able to deal with adversity in our lives and – I’ve had plenty in my life. If – anybody chose to go to the website, I have a message – to the reader, in terms of where I was at some point in my life, okay?
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
You’re talking to a woman who, in her early forties, was in a locked psychiatric ward on suicide watch. Are you ready for that?
 

Angela:
Well.
 

Chloe:
And people have said to me, “Ooh, you’re gonna share this with the world?” I said, “Yes,” because, if I can say that and it helps somebody to say, “Well, she made it, so can I,” all right, then I’ve done my job.
 

Angela:
Mm-hm.
 

Chloe:
I have no problem with that, okay? So, I know what adversity is like. I know what tragedy is like. I know what major setbacks are like. But you keep trekking, and – like I said, I feel – I feel very satisfied and grateful – for all the things that I’ve experienced in my life, even the hard times, because they have made me into the strong person that I am today.
 

Angela:
Yeah. So, what advice would you give to somebody who wants to get a book done but they haven’t been able to – cross the finish line. They – they – something is getting in their way, something’s stopping them, what do you say to people who – I’m sure people have asked you that.
 

Chloe:
Well, again – if it’s something that you really want to do, then you have to make a plan of action, you write down your plan of action and you say, “I will get this done by such-and-such a date, I will get this done by such-and-such a date,” you – you plan out a schedule – of several months – as to what you can accomplish. And, again, you have to be consistent. You can’t say, “Well, I’ll do it today,” and then forget about it for the next couple of days.
 

Angela:
Mm.
 

Chloe:
You have …. So, that – that’s my advice.
 

Angela:
Mmm. Yes. So, this has been terrific, it’s been very insightful – and so, I would encourage everybody to check out chloejonpaul, it’s c-h-l-o-e, and the last name is jonpaul, j-o-n-p-a-u-l. Incidentally, my – my mother’s – original maiden name was Giovanni Paolo, they came over from Italy, and that was it, and it got shortened to Giovanni, but I – I am a JonPaul too, in my own way.
 

Chloe:

 

Angela:
But so, Chloe JonPaul, she’s the author of Entering the Age of Elegance – but I also encourage you to go to her webpage – to – to look for ideas as for how you can get your message out into the world – because, really, as authors with a message, with authors who wanna change the world with their words, we need to learn from each other, and – I think some of the things you’ve done here to get the word out that – about your books, about all your books – it’s just really creative and – and persistent, it follows your COPD plan, and – and I really appreciate you sharing that with our listeners, so thanks for being here today.
 

Chloe:
Thank you for having me.
 

Angela:
So, we’ll be back – next week, here at Book Journeys Radio, talking about another author and their experience writing their book. If you – wanna get your book done, make sure that you check out 13weekstopublished, that’s 1-3-weeks-t-o-published, with a “d,” .com – and find out about our next program in the Author Incubator. We’ll be back next week, changing the world, one book at a time.

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