Xlibris Publishing introduces Andrene Gregory, author of Ahh… to Zen!
About Your Book and Yourself.
Please briefly describe your book.
My book, Ahh… to Zen!, is a non-fiction, self-improvement book. It is easy to read with quick tips, tricks, and techniques to help anyone get over the hurdles of life, career, and relationships and get back in the swing of things. It is motivational and inspiring with intermittent lived experience that my audience can easily relate to and gain insights from. It is mostly about how to move from a fear-based life to a faith-based life. How to find inner peace and live a great life! It is well thought out in an A to Z indexed format. If you find yourself doubting and/or second-guessing your every move, living in fear, chaos, anxiety or simply feeling overwhelmed this is the book for you! It will empower you to take control of your own life and live it to your fullest potential.
Who is the author “behind” the book?
I was born and raised in Jamaica until I immigrated to Canada in my teens. I am a single mother of two grown daughters. I run my own life coaching business, volunteer when and where I can at non-profit organizations in my community and at my church. I also work as a program liaison in a mental health association. In addition, I have been writing my own blogs since 2013, and write a life skills column in my community newspaper.
Do you have any particular literary influences that have helped you develop in your genre, subject and style?
I have always enjoyed self-help books. Amongst my favorites are Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Stephen Covey, and Iyanla Vanzant. These books really helped me get through some of my toughest days and taught me how to be strong and courageous. On a personal note, I enjoy spending my down time with my children, reading, decorating, event planning, and travelling, preferably where the sea meets the sky.
What inspired you to write your book, and how long did it take you to finish it?
I’m not sure what really inspired me to tell the truth. I just felt it was something I needed to do to create credibility for my life coaching business. I noticed a lot of life coaches, influencers and thought leaders I followed on twitter were also authors. I remember going to the library one day back in 2013, after losing my job of seven years and nine months, and stumbling upon a Maria Shriver book entitled WE Empower. As I flipped through the pages, I got more enlivened with every turn—both for what I was reading and for the idea that I could produce something like it. The book was pretty and feminine with a big purple flower at the front. I wanted to do the same for women around the world. At the time I didn’t know who Maria Shriver was. It was the first time I encountered her name, but that day, she lit a spark inside me. And I knew then, that one day, I would produce my own book. Mind you, I have been writing my own blog posts a few months before this took place. So I had some idea about writing by that time.
I started compiling my own collections of famous and inspiring quotes and even had a title for the book. It was going to be a coffee table book. But over time it pivoted. I realized that I would need to get authorization from all those authors if the book was going to be solely a compilation of other people’s work. So I set out to make it my own—writing from my own experiences, observations, and insights. This is how Ahh to Zen was conceived. Once I pivoted, it took me a couple years to get it going. Trying to build two businesses simultaneously is not easy. At first, I didn’t realize that writing my book was a business in and of itself. I thought it was an extension of my life coaching business. Once I realized that, I had to park one; and I chose to park the book. My life coaching business was my baby—I had already given birth to her and I had to give her my full focus. I was learning and growing and emphasizing all at the same time. Every now and then, I would start writing again. But it wasn’t until about June 2016 that I changed the title and decided to come up with a table of contents for the book. That gave me the push I needed.
It felt more structured and gave me a clear direction of where the book was going. Defining my titles really gave me a grip on the book. I could focus on one chapter at a time and move through the book progressively. I was shooting to finish the manuscript and have it published for my birthday in September 2016, but I missed my target by a month and then I sat on it for a whole year before submitting it to Xlibris. Finally, I had decided enough was enough! Once I had made up my mind to submit the manuscript, everything fell into place and the ball just kept on rolling until the book was published on June 15, 2018!
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
Life is a series of ups and downs. No matter what you’re going through or have been through, better days are ahead. Keep your head up, roll your shoulders back and embrace life! Spend time getting to know yourself better and it will be easier to make the right decisions that are best for you. I want them to walk away with a feeling that no mountain is too hard to climb. That they can champion their own lives. With strong, clear goals they can defeat any goliath and even if they don’t defeat it, they can feel good that they did not run from it but confronted it with confidence, grace and dignity. Goals are what keep us focused, sane, and determined. They are what set us apart and make us move from fears to faith, from ahh to zen! Always have something you are working towards.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
No. (Even though I was asked to write a scriptural version by one reader) I am currently working on other books.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book? Please feel free to mention any accolades you have received.
Yes. I will be hosting a launch for the book in mid to late September. And perhaps even a Goodreads giveaway contest.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with Xlibris?
Once I decided to move the book forward, everything went very fast. Everyone at Xlibris was on top of it, helping to bring this dream alive! It was really exciting! I was very impressed with how knowledgeable, courteous, and professional everyone was. No one dropped the ball. The Xlibris team worked like a well-oiled conveyor machine. They were able to give me clear directions pre and post publishing.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Go for it! If this is truly what you want to do, let nothing and no one hold you back or tell you that you can’t. Yes, you can!
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