SSL Compliant

Yah, we’re SSL Compliant … there is so much more to having a website these days, especially on the subject of security. If it chased you away for awhile, I certainly don’t blame you. I hope you are watching and come back to see us real soon. 

It’s been Google’s fault that we all had to spend more money on our websites. I don’t actually handle money for our book sales so didn’t understand at first why I needed to do this. Paypal does that for me, but according to Google I still needed to pay $5.95 US/mo (that’s almost $10 Can. to bring it up to their standards … or they would warn everyone not to buy from our website. Then, another company wanted $25.95 US for some more security. That was when I put my foot down. Cash grab or not, it was secure after the first step and this website will not give customers a warning anymore.

I am currently adding a new theme and some new products and the website will be shiny and new by the end of September 2018). We hope you’ll come back many times to check us out. I have lots of new products planned and not just books that I write.  Thanks in advance for your support.

Download our Audio Books

We’re happy to announce that we recently added 3 of the audio books we used to sell as CDs to their ‘book’ pages on this website. You can now purchase and download each of them directly and burn them to a CD. The books are the “Moonbeam Series (chapter books) and also “Laughing Through Life: Tales of a Yorkshireman,” Robert’s very popular autobiographical presentation (Bio).

In case you are not familiar with these products, Joyce narrates the Moonbeam Series and Robert narrates his “Tales.” In this age of automation, we had some bad luck getting this product out through two different website stores who didn’t pay us and disappeared, so we are trying again. Leaving out the middle man this time, we hope this news reaches the right people. Please tell your family/friends and spread the word for us as you have been so good at doing in the past! Thanks 🙂

 

 

 

Homeschoolers discover us.

Home schooling helps+ families

Ever since we began bringing our family friendly books to the public arena in 1998, adults interested in homeschooling have taken notice of us. Robert met many executives of Canadian and US homeschooling organizations and they often purchased our books for personal use and asked him to bring our books to their area. They love our concept of real history set into an actual, touchable place where they can bring their children to learn more about that area and its history after reading the books.

We have come to understand that homeschooling parents teach by doing … taking their kids to parks, special activities, other towns and countries. As our Australian grandson’s wife is homeschooling 4 of their 5 children in Perth, we were thrilled to send all our books back with them when they visited in 2015. We are told that Homeschoolers love to explore new areas and new situations which helps their child’s awareness of the world and of each other as they adapt to the necessary subjects. They like to use every opportunity possible to teach their precious children something of importance to help them blossom in a world where learning is of the utmost importance. They realize only too well that for their child to be able to earn a good living in the future, he/she must have a vocation they enjoy and can be enormously proud of. These parents take their jobs very seriously by educating the next generations.

We have actually been invited to several conventions and conferences across North America. It saddened us to have to refuse. We are a very small company and self-published authors don’t receive grants to help defray travel and conference expenses but we are always happy to ship books to you or show you how to purchase them Internationally.

So, if you know or are a homeschooling parent and you haven’t discovered our historically correct, educational, heartwarming, family-friendly tales of another century … the 3-book Victoria Chronicles is set in Canada/USA and Lizzie Series are set in London, England. Both Series are on sale NOW. Check the announcement/prices at the top of the Home Page and on our Shopping Cart.

Our books are available in all ebook formats. If you can’t find them on your favourite ebook website, Smashwords is a great choice as you can purchase the same book in many formats (for any ebook reader) with no additional charges! (Revised: Jan /18)

 

An Awakening

Silent DestinyIt’s difficult to accept but I certainly feel as though I have been in hibernation for the past three years. It all began with the seemingly endless months of writing and editing our unexpected eleventh popular novel, Silent Destiny, a novel set in Scotland and containing a very compelling and exciting mystery about the 14th Century Scots hero, William Wallace. This novel was published at the end of October 2014. Also, in 2014, I made the decision that Robert and I could no longer live in our current home, one that we had loved for 28 years but had gotten not only too large for us but too difficult to manage due to our busy schedules and our aging circumstances. Yes, sadly, our years were catching up to us! So, I began the arduous journey toward that dreaded decision to ‘downsize.’ Robert believed he could persuade me to hold off for awhile longer but he had not yet experienced the scope of my determination! Cut to early Spring 2015 … when two neighbours helped me realize that time had definitely arrived. They reported that some extraordinary house sales had happened in our area, with prices well in excess of asking. I decided we (I) had to get a move on and fast, so I told Bob and got to work!

As the saying goes … to make a long story short, within 4 months he had told me he would not live in a condo and soon after fell in love with a one-level rancher in Central Saanich. I felt the importance of this house too as it was perfect for us and so I gathered my thoughts and also the help I needed to finish prep on our Gordon Head house so we could list it asap. Robert was in full swing down at Bastion Square so I knew I couldn’t count on him for any help. The move had become my baby and I was excited, so excited I suddenly had so much energy, unbeknownst to me I was heading for a health crisis. Clearing out 28 years of living is no easy task, although deciding what to get rid of was easier once we realized we were moving into a house. I knew (rightly) that our home was going to sell quickly thanks to the work my team and I had accomplished plus an amazing staging job. The morning we listed, we had word within 8 hours that there were 2 or 3 offers coming in the next morning. There were 3 actually and they arrived by 2pm the next day (as another gang of realtors continued the showings)! Our market was definitely hot! We accepted all of them so we had 2 backup offers and the best one, yes … it was a bit over asking! This meant we could get on with the next phase … horrors, it was moving time!

So, excited, but with no time to relax as yet as we had only 3 weeks to get the house organized, cleared out and move. Needless to say, it all came together amazingly well but I was exhausted and my thought processes had come to an utter standstill! My team of women, from my daughter to both the realtors (mine was the amazing, Colleen Milne!), our mortgage broker (Kelly Curtis of Mortgage Designers) and Tara, my OA (and her husband who did the heavy work) were instrumental for making it all happen! We were almost done and my daughter now referred to me as the Energizer Bunny. I had no clue anything was wrong because I had no time to think about it, despite the fact I had lost 15 lbs (not normal with a low-thyroid). 

After the early Sept. move, I suddenly remembered to have my thyroid checked and thus began a years’ worth of unexpected health issues, high and then low thyroid, a trip to Emerg (calling 911 in early March) with extreme heart palpitations and 3 days later, 2 frozen shoulders that almost incapacitated me for the next 4-5 months! Chiropractor, Acupuncture, Massage and finally Physio all played a part in my speedy recovery from what I learned could have been 2-3 years. The worst of the pain was gone in 5 months. The palpitations remained, however, and after another trip to Emerg, I was put on meds that really helped. An interesting situation had developed where I had become super-sensitive to light (difficult in the summer!) which set off my palpitations with a racing heart incomparable to those I had experienced for the previous 50 years.

I also had to learn to say NO to anything that was adding stress to my life. Who would have thought 5 years before that stress could be my issue. As a result, in July I ceased doing the Sidney Thursday Night Market which was no longer a profitable place for our summer book sales … we discovered that Sidney area customers shop just before Christmas and catch us at the winter shows! Getting my health back in order was now my focus and walking and swimming became my regular daily routine so I could sit at the computer for longer periods of time.  My heating pad became my almost constant companion and boy did the hot tub at the swimming pool feel good!!!  I was on the road to recovery at last … as long as I kept active so my shoulders didn’t freeze up again as my thyroid righted itself. I had learned that each day was a new beginning, and even today most early mornings are met with degrees of tendinitis of the back and arms making me eager to get to the pool! I’m now able to swim again, beginning with one length and now up to 8. It’s a starting point. I also have a new understanding and respect for people who suffer serious chronic pain, like my daughter who has had FMS (Fibromyalgia) for about 5 years with no end in sight.

So, today I sit here thinking how lovely it is to be actually looking forward to doing anything related to our books, even to write a blog entry is a start. It is my ‘Awakening’ for sure and I consider it quite miraculous! 

Until next time … Joyce 

Note:  Robert and I are finished our Outdoor Markets for 2016 and now move indoors. More details on our Events Page.

 

Self-Publishing Tips

 

Self-Publishing Tips for Authors (2012)

2013 BookStackHave you had a story running around in your head for years? Have friends or family told you that you should write a book? After 15 years of editing, publishing and co-writing 10 popular novels, 3 of them bestsellers, I feel I know a little something about producing books and decided to share. 

To find a “publishing tip” that interests you, look under Categories on the right side of page.

 

Here’s a short video of me speaking at a local Self-Publishing Workshop in March 2012.

 

Writing ‘Silent Destiny’

Stirling Castle & Wallace MemorialIn brief … the story of  Silent Destiny travels to many parts of Scotland and, not surprisingly, also into Yorkshire. Whittle, athough a Yorkshireman, knew virtually nothing about Scotland before he discovered that my paternal lineage held a great deal of fascinating Scottish history. I didn’t even realize how Stirling Castle (at left) was going to fit into mine or William Wallace’s story when I snapped this amazing photo in April 2002. Amazing because the William Wallace National Monument managed to get into this photo (far left) without me knowing it existed! It’s also a slightly different view of our book cover.

My Sandilands ancestors, without a doubt, would have been living in Lanarkshire, not far south of Elderslie (believed by many to be Wallace’s home ground), during these tortured times leading up to and during the Scottish Wars of Independence. My family were aligned with the Douglas family, and also a Sept of Clan Douglas, but I can’t be sure how it all began. History has not given up its secrets prior to the early 14th century when Sir William Douglas apparently named us after the “sandy banks of the Clyde River” which enters from the sea near Glasgow and meanders through Lanarkshire County.

The editing process, always my favourite part of this job coupled with my usual hat of being co-author was a wonderful challenge but I certainly needed more time. I (Joyce), unlike Robert, have instant access to the internet. Many nights I sat here writing about travelling around Scotland and had both a streetmap and Google Earth open to assist me in making the travelogue more realistic. Editing/co-writing Robert’s books has naturally always been my favourite part of this business but this time, I also had the challenge of writing my own history. Until I received Robert’s manuscript on my computer, I had no idea what he was writing. When I realized he had included the Hospitallers and Torphichen Priority, I was thrilled. It was my opportunity to add even more history than he had planned because I felt our readers would want to know more than a teasing bit of history! I appreciated that not all our readers are going to be up on their Scottish history!

King Robert I

King Robert I

The whole book was actually more complicated than I had anticipated (being his usual intertwined style but also because I was out of practice lol It was five years since I had worked on a novel and due to so many factual scenes of very old history (up to and including my 13x great grandfather, Robert the Bruce at left), I had more of a challenge ahead of me than I could have dreamed.

It all sort of snowballed on me and was reminiscent of Robert’s research for the Victoria Chronicles Trilogy … he had all these dates and events to fit into his story. It was also similar, to the style of the Lizzie Series … with her many adventures fitting around other exciting parts of the story. Makes me tired thinking back on all that work!!

Starting to read Silent Destiny in late 2013, I soon realized that was a mistake as Christmas Craft Shows were going to take up all my spare time and energy until the new year. So, by November 2014 after working on it night and day since January 2014, I had the uncanny thought that this was paralleling my initial challenge of publishing our first book, Lizzie: Lethal Innocence … it arrived into the stores on December 8, 1998. I was only slightly ahead of that schedule for Silent Destiny, and I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I hope the wait is worth it!

On behalf of Robert and I, thanks for your patience and your continued support.

Joyce Sandilands Whittle

 

Silent Destiny: An ancient Scottish mystery/prophecy

Silent DestinyAn ancient legend and a 700-year-old prophecy join to tell the story of William Wallace, his family and some missing relics, in our latest novel, Silent Destiny. Purchase your own copy here at our online STORE … there’s also an option to pay online and then pick up your copy from our office, if you live near Victoria BC!

This is a novel of Scotland and two of it’s most devastating historical failures … the horrendous loss of a great patriot and hero, William Wallace, and the ancient story of the missing Scottish Royal Regalia last possessed by Alexander III. This king’s untimely and accidental death, when his horse strayed off a cliff in the darkness as the King hurried home to see his new bride, was unfortunate in so many ways. Scotland was immediately thrown into turmoil as it tried desperately to find an heir. but war ensued and lasted for many years. Through this period known as the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Royal crown and other artifacts were nowhere to be found. There were suspicions about who held them, but that was merely hearsay and despite many searches over the next 700 years, they were not found.

Fast forward to 2006 … 700 years later when our main character, a Canadian English Professor, Emma Walters, is summoned to Scotland to learn details of an ancient title and estate she is purported to have inherited through her deceased father … the father who rarely even spoke of his Scottish past.  Emma’s story, for our purposes, begins that fateful morning in November 2006 when a Scottish solicitor telephone and informs her she must hurry to Scotland if she wishes to claim her Scottish birthright. She is shocked but curious and decides to at least check it out. She will soon discover that many mysteries surround this old estate. But the information which interests her the most is that of the missing artifacts … the Scottish Royal Regalia last held by William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace after he defeated the English at Stirling Bridge and was bestowed with the title of Guardian. Miss Walters has only days to make up her mind and her new ‘assistant’ Alex Wallace only adds to her confusion when she discovers he is holding back information and seems to have an unexplained personal interest in the estate.

More information on our Silent Destiny page and our Facebook Page.

Check our Stores Tab above for locations in the Victoria area which carry our books or order direct from our Store where the authors receive all of the funds from their sales.

The authors will be selling all their books at Summer Markets in 2015 … go to the Events Tab for dates and schedules.

Find YOUR Niche Market – Part 1

So much has happened since we began this amazing and wonderful journey of writing and publishing books. In 1998, when I published my husband’s first novel, I had no clue what publishing or marketing was all about and my self-confidence level was pretty low. All that changed pretty quickly as we found the best way to sell our book(s). This post tells you what our experience has been; I hope it helps to give you some ideas. Relate it to your circumstances and never hesitate to ask your friends or family if they would like to help. Ask them if they would like to read your new book while you’re in the later editing process. We rarely had time to do this but it could be vitally important to your success. Later, you may find someone to help you with markets/shows or webpages etc.

Today we’re in the 16th year of the life of our micro-publishing company, Whitlands Publishing, and I still need to assure myself that yes, we have written and published 12 novels, of which I am author/coauthor of 5 of them. I have also produced 4 audio books (2 of which I narrated).  Three of these novels are Canadian bestsellers (my husband’s) and in 2007 and 2008 we won IPPY (Independent Publisher) Gold Medal Awards for our region of Canada West (half of Canada). This is not only a writing award but a publishing award as well and important enough to enter. Now, many people in the industry tell me that all this makes me an expert in the field!

Our niche in books is mainly historical adventure but the marketing niche we developed was, and still is, a not-often-used method … by virtually standing on the street at outdoor markets and/or indoors craft/info or trade shows. We merely talk our fool heads off about our great books and attempt to persuade people to buy them.

“Who has time to do this?” You ask. Writers need to spend all their spare time writing, after all you are a writer not a marketer. Well, in our case, that’s where I came in because I was able to sell at some of the small markets and have time to do all the rest of it … editing, publishing, website, retail, online and other marketing. Farmer’s Markets and summer markets have been so successful for us, they became our ‘niche market’ and it was more lucrative than the uncertainty and short season of retail sales. We live in a tourist city and, although the early years were somewhat better for us prior to the recent years of worldwide economic problems, these summer/winter markets and shows remain our best avenue for sales. It became obvious that Robert had the necessary personality for this … he is confident, outgoing and pleasant, enjoying talking about his books and history to anyone who will listen. He is also probably his own greatest fan having read each of his own books numerous times since they were published!

In the early years, it got easier with each new book, now it often takes too long to talk about all of them. Winning an award really helped too. It was easy for Robert to talk about history, he’d lived it in England for the first 35 years of his life, for me it didn’t come as easily. After 14 years I still have to force myself to relax and just enjoy talking to people. I’m not as good at it as Robert, never will be, but then he’s The Man! A Tip: Don’t think too hard on ‘selling,’  just enjoy the conversation and then ask if you can sign a copy for them. Many will be surprised because it hasn’t sunk in that you are the actual author, then they usually become more interested!

Another way to look at your Niche Market is … who is going to buy your book? Is it male, female, boy, girl, young, old. The trick is then getting to them. For us, markets enabled us to have contact with some youngsters but mainly adults of all ages. They liked the books and realized they would be good for the younger members of the family partly due to their lack of gratuitous sex and violence.

I haven’t mentioned our schedule of markets/shows, but we do a lot of them. When you find something that works for you, you need to milk it and we did just that. Robert now regularly has his photo taken with the people who buy his books. You will be wondering when Robert has time to write. For the first few years he became prolific, writing quickly, and selling days were minimal. Then it got busier with a spring/summer market (Bastion Square) that went from April-October. By the end of the first summer, we knew this NICHE of summer markets was working for us despite having only one book. A few years later our schedule got busier and Robert only had 3 months of undisturbed writing in a year, but somehow he managed to churn out enough books for me to edit and publish year after year. When fans want something you make every effort to get it for them, if it is at all possible … after all this is a business.

Who would have thought it possible and, personally, I think a lot of people (friends and family) were afraid to encourage us because they thought we were going to fall flat on our faces. But they didn’t count on the talent, love and support of the one person that mattered … my husband, author J. Robert Whittle. Writing his first novel in his early 60s after never even thinking about writing, was the first miracle, that he was good at it was the second, and my interest was the third! After publishing his third novel in 1998 (the first 2 are not published yet), together we have managed to survive in this tough business for 15 years so far! (many more details on his Bio Page)

This blog entry is already feeling like a therapy session, but I want to illustrate that it really doesn’t take a lot of money, knowledge or support from those we know and love. We had only enough money to print the first book … but it was enough to get us started. In 1998, with the Internet in its early days, we had little knowledge, but we sure learned fast once people started buying that first book! We don’t recommend being as ill-prepared as we were, things have changed and there’s a lot more competition and information now. All the early support came from each other … and that turned out to be enough too because our fans soon became very encouraging, even demanding! If I can do it in my 50s and 60s, anyone can tackle writing and marketing a book. There are so many instructional websites, forums and groups on the internet today … check out Facebook and LinkedIn as well … or Google it!

Now don’t get me wrong, many people think that we’re making a ton of money because we’re so successful. How we wish! Sales have been great but self-publishing means you pay all your own expenses. With all our printing (no ebooks until recently), show registrations, two vans and travel expenses (many are away and we live on an island), this became a labour of love that gave us something to look forward to everyday – more than many people can say. Today we are very close to retirement but we’ll still keep boxes of books handy and do smaller markets as we’re able. We’ll also never stop enjoying the comments our readers tell us about how much enjoyment we’ve brought to their lives.

But back to writing and publishing. “Don’t quit your day job” is a popular expression told to writers and we feel that it continues to be very sensible advice.

So GOOD LUCK until next time. (Part 2 will follow soon).

Joyce