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Our recommended read is
Was This in the Plan? by Stephanie Nimmo
Far from being a misery memoir, Was This in the Plan? Is a frank, open and no-holds-barred account of how a family was determined not just to survive but to thrive when the odds were against them. It will make you question your own attitude to life and how you choose to respond when unexpected events throw you off course.
About the author: Stephanie Nimmo is a London-based writer, mother, music-lover, carer, widow, bereaved parent, runner and all-round plate spinner. She's still trying to have a life, despite life's unexpected twists and turns. Stephanie started writing about her life (caring for her youngest daughter who had a rare genetic condition) as a way of documenting what was happening, but also in order to share an insight into a world and a life that she previously knew nothing about. The blog grew and grew in popularity and is now read by tens of thousands of people around the world.
As her family’s life became increasingly complicated Stephanie's blog was not only therapeutic, but it also helped educate a wider audience on the realities of caring not only for a complex child but a terminally ill husband. Stephanie Nimmo's experiences have shown her to possess an incredible resilience she never knew she had, it has shaped her and she believes that we are all shaped by what happens to us.
For more on Stephanie visit her website www.stephnimmo.com
And checkout her inspiring blog www.wasthisintheplan.co.uk
CHECK OUT OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE NIMMO!
What’s your ‘elevator pitch’ for your book?
My book is an uplifting positive memoir about how I responded when life did not go according to plan. My life changed overnight on the birth of my disabled daughter and then later when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer but I have chosen to thrive and not just survive as I negotiate a new and unanticipated path through life.
Who is your target reader?
My target reader is anyone who is looking to feel inspired and motivated to really seize every moment and take nothing for granted in life.
When did you start writing your book and how long did it take?
I started writing a few months after my husband died, it did not take that long but the editing process did!
What were the top challenges that you faced during the creation of your book?
Working my way around the complexities of the publishing industry. I had a lot of interest from agents but none were prepared to take the risk to publish an unknown.
Trying to decide whether to keep plugging away at traditional publishers but uneasy about going down the self-publishing route. I know a lot about my story and about marketing but I am not a publishing professional and I needed to work with someone who could guide me through the pitfalls but also understand the sense of urgency I had in getting the book published by my 25th Wedding Anniversary.
In the middle of the editing process my youngest daughter died. It took a huge amount of strength to keep going in my darkest hours but I knew the book would be a perfect way to remember my husband and daughter’s legacies.
What publishing route did you opt for and why?
After much deliberation I opted for a collaborative contract with Hashtag Press. I was spending a lot of time pitching to agents, they were all willing to listen and all said that my story needed to be told but I learned very early on that unknown and unproven authors are seen as a big risk to traditional publishers to commit to. Even though I already had a strong platform through my blog and social media. I did not want to go down the self-publishing route, when I began writing I was still caring for a very sick and disabled daughter full time and I did not have the time or energy to invest in learning everything about the publishing business. I am a marketing professional so I did not want to entrust the marketing of my book to someone who did not share my knowledge and skills. The relationship with Hashtag has been really good, they have managed the technical aspects and also liaison with the publishing industry and I have focused on the outbound marketing and PR in conjunction with my own existing contacts and Literally PR.
Now the book is launched I’m hoping it will be a platform to persuade an agent to take me on with a view to publishing a second book and gaining speaker opportunities
Is this your first book?
It is. However I have been writing a blog since 2008 and I have also written many commissioned articles for mainstream media and charities.
Do you plan to write another book(s) in the future? Do you have details you can share?
After I had written my book and it was in the editing process my youngest daughter died. She had been in the intensive care department in Great Ormond Street and I had to make the decision to switch off her life support. We had always known that she would not reach adulthood as she had a rare and life limiting genetic disease. Her death forced me to confront lots of issues around palliative care and quality of life, coming as it did just before the Charlie Gard case. I had to go through all of that on my own without Andy by my side and barely having come to terms with his premature death. Within 13 months we had gone from a family of 6 to 4 and I am now learning to walk a new and unfamiliar path, reluctantly being forced to close the chapters of my old life but also coping with my older children leaving home and growing up. My new book will be about this time and about losing a child however it’s all so raw at the moment so I won’t start writing it until the middle of next year.
What/who inspired you to become an author?
I have always written, in school I won prizes for writing. My blog became a way of dealing with the huge changes in my life as I cared for a life limited child and my husband Andy really wanted me to make sure that I wrote a book after he died. He, together with my children, are my inspiration. I feel that in sharing our story I keep a part of them alive and also preserve their legacy for my children to tell their families
Do you have a ‘day job’ or do you work solely as an author?
Up until Daisy’s death I was a full time carer and I also worked as freelance writer and journalist. I am continuing my freelance work but in the near future will be joining the Government Communications Service on a part time basis.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry? Are you happy that it has evolved so fast in recent years? Do you believe self-publishing is a force for good?
Publishing, like all forms of the media has had to evolve and adapt to a time of massive technological change. There are so many more ways of getting your work out there beyond the traditional publishers. I found coming to the Author School Day helped me make sense of it all and helped me decide what I wanted for my book. I had a sense of urgency and a fixed deadline and while I could have kept plugging away for a traditional publishing contract the collaborative contract I ended up with has worked for me to get my writing out there. It’s a writer’s market but it’s also a minefield and you have to work out what works best for you. As a writer I can also guarantee that unless you are JK Rowling you are not going to be a millionaire through writing!
What’s next for you?
I’ve already been to Chiswick Book Fest and next stop is Wimbledon Bookfest. I hope to do a lot more Book Festivals next year as I really like to meet and chat to my readers. I am working on something called 'Was This in the Plan Conversations' which is a series of random questions all of which I was forced to confront over the years – everything from “what music do you want at your funeral” “what would be your legacy” to “what constitutes a good quality of life” and “would you consider a do not resuscitate directive at any point”. The whole idea is to encourage people to have the difficult conversations they might not ordinarily have. I always say that the only thing we can guarantee about life is that we will die so once we accept this we can get on with really living. I hope to be able to have these conversation sessions at Book Festivals and in Literary Tents at music festivals. I hope they will be thought provoking and most importantly get people talking and breaking down the taboo and British reserve about talking about end of life.
If you could get a glowing review from three people who would they be and why?
Well I am very lucky, I’ve already received several 5* reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and in a national newspaper. The best had to be from my children who told their friends to buy the book and even requested copies to give to their teachers! I would love to get a copy in front of Sheryl Sandberg. Her book Option B came out just before mine. She was unexpectedly widowed too and her book is about learning to find the resilience to embrace Option B when life does not go to plan. I’d love to know what she things of my book.
Thank you Stephanie!
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