Self-Publishing Tips

If you missed the recent self-publishing workshops in Victoria, BC organized by 3-Penny Publishing, you can watch video clips from the events on Youtube.

Self-Publishing Tips with Rebecca Kennel

Self-Publishing Writers Workshop – Author Coach from Friesen Press

The workshops focused on effective strategies for book promotion, from book conception to post-publishing.

Check the 3-Penny Publishing event page for news of upcoming events.

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Blue for You

Thanks to Diane Nadeau for this story!

April 9th 2011

The "original" blue chairThis is a story about a blue wooden chair along Beach Drive. ‘Blue’ usually sits solo on a rock, facing out, inviting all who wish to stop by for a moment or two to enjoy the view.  The original blue chair has sat there enduring the elements for many years. I do not know how it came to be or even how long it has been there, but I can tell you this, I have benefited from someone’s generosity. For the past three years, I have enjoyed walks leading to Blue, drives compelling me to visit Blue, and picnics to be savored with Blue. Alas, a few months ago we had a raging storm and Blue must of taken a tumble into the ocean. You can imagine my concern when I found Blue sitting along the side of the road, far far far away from her usual perch.

A kind electrician with a van gave Blue and me a lift home. What was I suppose to do? Leave Blue abandoned? I couldn’t bear the thought of Blue ending this way. I took the battered chair home with me, missing arm and all. I thought about all of the good Blue had done for me and no doubt all the good Blue had done for others and I devised a plan. I made a phone call to my uncle Alcide, who is a hard working and now retired man. I thought maybe, just maybe, he would entertain the idea of ‘fixing’ old Blue for us all. I explained to my uncle that Blue gets regular visits from all sorts of people and that she needs to go back to the rock before summer. Uncle Alcide did not hesitate for a second; he welcomed the project with an open heart and a chair for the people of Victoria would be restored. But he did more than fix up and restore Blue. Uncle Alcide took a good look at the dilapidated water logged wood and missing pieces and tried to rebuild it. Uncle Alcide took into consideration my request of salvaging as much of Blue as possible. When I showed up for another round of pictures for the ‘progress’ of the chair, I found a brand-spanking replica of my beloved Blue. I was delighted to hear that my uncle took an old piece of blue wood to the paint shop and matched blue for Blue. He primed and painted the chair so that the color would be rich and resistant to the various slideshow of weather we have here in Victoria. My uncle, my aunt and I have brought Blue back to the yesterday. It was a perfect day. A slight breeze and a glorious sun welcoming Blue back to the rock.

This is where my story ends. My uncle has given me an opportunity to make a dream come true. Last year I wanted to repaint Blue, as it started showing signs of aging, but in the end, I had decided that some things are wonderful just as they are. And then nature did her thing and Blue and I had to compromise, a new Blue would be created. My family and friends have been looking forward to seeing Blue back on the rock. Now we will know how this one came to be and who made it, and that makes it fun and meaningful. One of my patients is also looking forward to seeing the new Blue as well, making it one of her summer goals to walk from home to the rock when she feels better. I wish to express to my Uncle Alcide a sincere Thank You for taking the time and dedication in rebuilding Blue for us all, the entire project has special meaning because of this. I also wish to Thank the incognito donor of the original Blue chair, he or she may not know how this simple gesture has enriched the experience of ‘heading to the rock’ for some great quality ocean time. And here’s to Blue for providing us with a space to do what we do best, to be ourselves, when we face the world.

Ode to Blue—As it is (from Oct 18th 2010)

It was a bright and sunny day yesterday and I couldn’t wait to walk over to see you.

I mean, front row seat overlooking the ocean on a day like this, it’s like winning the lottery.

My walk leads me along Beach Drive and follows the curve of the seashore until I arrive at the destined spot where you sit with your silhouette perched up on the rocks, facing out.

But on this day, try as I might, I could not find your familiar blue wooden shape from the distance I was coming from. I quickened the pace and for the first time ever, wondered where you were. It bothered me to no end that my visual search against the horizon revealed no chair. What if—you weren’t there at all?

I raced up the sidewalk. Luck would have it that others, out of nowhere, were in search of migrating whales that day, the lot of us creating a small crowd who was suddenly making its way towards the few steps leading to the beach and rocks. The crowd to see whales and I to see you.

Someone moved you in the valley between two rocks. And true to how I usually find you, you were facing out. I claimed my seat resting my head against the faded blue wood and wrapped my fingers on your sun-bleached armrests. With the sun shining proudly on us, the breeze sweeping over my ball cap, and the gulls crying out above my head, I found heaven on earth once again.

You see Blue, your being here offers me a place to run to when the weight of the world is upon me. I come here to think and to stew, to release my thoughts, to whisper my thanks, to count my blessings, and best of all, to be inspired.

Board missing and blue paint chipping away, I love being around you just as you are, Blue as it is, weather worn seat and all. In the end, your simple presence is what I truly enjoy.

Diane Nadeau

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Another Twist to the Blue Chair Story

Now I find that the McNeill Bay Chair was not swept away completely in a winter storm – the famous blue chair was rescued by a woman who brought it back to her yard. I understand she wrote a poem about the chair, which I hope to get and post here, along with this photo. It feels good to see the chair again and know that it may end up back out on the rocks to surprise and delight other beach explorers.

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McNeill Bay Chair – Mystery Solved

Chris Hamilton, builder of the famous blue chair that sat for several years on the rocks at McNeill Bay, enjoys the view Saturday after building and installing another Adirondack chair, this time painted red.

I always wondered about the chair, included in my book, but no one I asked knew where it came from. Now I know, thanks to a storm last winter that destroyed it. Here is the story from Oak Bay News:

By Vivian Moreau – Oak Bay News
Published: March 23, 2011 6:00 AM

Storm-thrashed deck chair gives birth to new one

Chris Hamilton drove around for weeks with a deck chair in the back of his truck before deciding what to do.

His wife had banished the blue Adirondack pine chair he’d built, before they met, for a former girlfriend. Hamilton thought of just leaving it beside the road, but that didn’t seem right.

Driving along Beach Drive one day the Victoria resident saw the perfect spot, a rocky outcropping at McMicking Point on the edge of McNeill Bay. Worried that a homeowner might yell at him if he left it during daylight hours, he resorted to more surreptitious methods.

“I took it down on my back in the darkness one night, down a little path and across the sandspit to the rocky point. I thought if someone stops me, I’ve got this complex plan, I’d say I’m an artist and doing an installation, putting Adirondack chairs, different coloured, on every point around Victoria.”

But no one stopped him and he left the chair at the spot.

That was four years ago. Since then, the blue chair has become famous around the region, photographed for newspapers. There are over a dozen snaps alone of it on Internet photo site Flickr.

That surprised Hamilton at first.

“I just assumed someone would take it, but people kept phoning me to say ‘you know your deck chair is still down there.’”

It was part of an iconic West Coast scene, Hamilton said.

“It represented relaxation and quiet and because it was blue, it just jumped out against the background (of the water and Olympic mountains.)”

But a February storm that saw winds of over 90 km/h sweep over the region blew the now-weathered chair off its perch, essentially wrecking it.

A neighbour showed Hamilton a published letter from Oak Bay News reader and frequent blue chair user Belinda Thomas, who voiced sadness over its demise: “This chair has had such an impact on me … Over the past year I have gone to the blue chair to have a mind chat about what was going on in my life. I have had a couple of ups and downs and the blue chair was where I went, no matter what time of day, to try to mull things over.”

Thomas previously wrote the News to say she was considering changing her will to have her ashes thrown from the chair.

Noting the effect the iconic piece of furniture had on Thomas, Hamilton’s wife convinced him to build another.

Last week he built a duplicate Adirondack chair, painted red this time. It was installed at McNeill Bay on Saturday at high noon.

Ironically, the following day a new blue chair was also left at the same spot, but by whom isn’t known.

Hamilton hopes the new red chair will retain some of the mystery of the previous version.

“I like the idea of the red, phoenix-like chair.”

Vivian has her own account of the “blue chair” story on her blog:

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Knitting Bench by Bench

CANCELLED – Sorry – all of the following events have been cancelled due to some unfortunate and unexpected events in the life of the main organizer.

WHAT: An opportunity for people to meet and knit in public on some of the benches featured in a new Victoria guidebook, Victoria Bench by Bench

WHY: Over the last decade, knitting in public has become an increasingly popular pastime. It brings knitters out of isolation and the art of knitting to a wider audience. Knitting on the benches around Victoria is a delightful way to pass the time, gain a fresh perspective of Victoria, and participate in a celebration of the fibre arts: knitting, weaving, spinning, felting, crochet.

WHO: Knitters and the general public

WHEN: May 1st, 15th and 29th, June 5th (Sundays, 1 – 3 pm)


  • May 1st Fisherman’s Wharf (12 Eries St. at the “Frank Sinatra bench” in front of the Moka House, Shoal Point, page 58 in the book)
  • May 15th Gonzales Beach (West End, 1700 Ross St., page 74 in the book)
  • May 29th Selkirk Waterfront (2940 Jutland Rd., page 120 in the book)
  • June 5th Market Square (500 block of Johnson or Pandora, page 12 in the book)

HOW: You are invited to join us on any or all of these Sundays:

  • meet Rebecca Kennel, the author of Victoria Bench by Bench
  • meet Marilyn Guille, the producer of Victoria FibreFest, now in its 9th year
  • check in with Foursquare and receive a free knitting lesson (the first person to check in will receive a copy of Victoria Bench by Bench)

More info:

Bring your knitting!

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Summit Park in March

It’s spring here in Victoria – at least on some days it feels almost like spring for a few hours. So I had to go up to Summit Park, the “flower-top mountain,” to check on the wild flowers that had bravely opened a few weeks ago, before the snowstorm. I was expecting a carpet of white and purple and yellow blossoms. What I found was not really a carpet, but a few patches of white and purple crocus with some daffodils here and there.

I’ll have to go back later, when the fawn lilies are blooming, and the camas, the gold buttercups. . . or I could sit here and wait, along with June Swadron.

But Summit Park is lovely, even without the carpet of wildflowers. The branches of the Garry oak weave a magic spell  - holding you prisoner in a state of awe at their strength, their ancientness.

From page 104 in Victoria – Bench by Bench:

Summit Park

“I want to go to the flower-top mountain,” a child begs her grandma . What she wants is to go to Summit Park in the spring when the fawn lilies are everywhere and the white or purple camas are coming out, along with the gold buttercups, the elegant rein orchid, shooting star, and satin flower. Summit Park in the spring has a magical carpet of wildflowers, some of which are protected. All of Summit Park is classified as a sensitive ecosystem, with much of the natural area still intact. It is one of the largest remaining stands of Garry oak in the City of Victoria.

In summer the wildflowers die back and disappear into the mass of dried grasses. Then, without the distraction of all that colour at your feet, your attention is drawn to the rich, green leaves of the oak and the deep ridges on the trunks. The Garry oak are suited to our climate, able to withstand long periods of drought. They are the king of these rocky hills as other trees and shrubs need more soil at their feet.

There are several access points to the park: the Highview/Lang intersection (steep trail); either end of Blackwood Street; and Arthur Avenue. Tread carefully and keep to the main trails. You might be stepping on the endangered yellow montane violet.

There are a couple of benches under the magnificent oak. This one is, “Graham Ian Anguish, 1945-2006, Ian-Dad, Loved and missed. He appreciated life and the earth’s beauty.”

The best viewpoints are on top of the rocks-looking out to Mt. Douglas and Mt. Tolmie.  Check out the mural painted on the Telus tower with a view of Mt. Tolmie.

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Self-Publishing Workshop: Writing Your Memoirs

Self-Publishing Workshop by 3Penny Publishing
Saturday March 26 – Time: 1 – 3 pm
Location: Shoal Centre – Sidney BC – 10030 Resthaven Drive
Cost: $10-20 (flex fee on the ‘pay what you will’ model)
Co-Sponsored by First Choice Books


Rebecca Kennel – Self-Published Author of Victoria Bench By Bench
Rebecca is very modest, but has done a great job marketing her hyperlocal self-published book full of illustrations, history and poetic prose.
Video of Rebecca Kennel reading from Victoria Bench by Bench:
She is also a fount of knowledge on self-publishing: Check out her advice on the Author Panel held at The Well Victoria
And also don’t forget to check out The Well Victoria at – 821 Fort St. – Cafe, Bookstore, Special events, live music, records, and more !

Harry Leslie Smith – author of 1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments (self-published)
Harry wrote his first memoir at age 87 and is now working on Part 2. He will be phoning in via Skype.
Check out this review:
Harry Leslie Smith’s elegiac and moving memoir, 1923: A Memoir: Lies and Testaments, is a sweeping narrative with startlingly accurate characterizations and dialogue.  The reader is elevated to the best vantage point, and a new dimension is created to witness the writer’s life in its fullest scope.

Lots of room at this event ! But…. we really need to know how many people will be attending, ahead of time, as we can move to a larger room if we exceed 15 people.
As of March 7, there are approximately 12 people who plan to attend.

Option 1) Pay online with Paypal here
Option 2) Or mail a cheque to 3Penny Publishing – Box 8441 Victoria BC V8W 3S1
If you are unable to do option 1 or 2, you can also pay at the workshop.

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Self-publishing: From Idea to Book Launch

Barbara Julian of the Overleaf Cafe (1105 Pandora at Cook) has invited me to speak at one of her series of wokshops for writers on Feb. 12, 2011. The 2-hour session will include a step-by-step examination of the process of self-publishing, the joys and the pitfalls, including:

  • finding editorial help,
  • preparing your manuscript,
  • choosing a printer,
  • making decisions about page design and cover design,
  • organizing your bibliographic data,
  • deciding on size of print run,
  • distributing and publicizing your book after printing.

Lots of time for questions and discussion. Handouts and refreshments included.
Limited space available. $20. Pre-register at: naturalreviews (at)

The series of workshops includes:

Saturday Feb. 12th — From Idea to Book Launch ($20)
Saturday Feb. 19th — Writing For Children — Skills & Markets ($20)
Saturday Feb. 26th — Can You Still Make a Living as a Free-lance Writer? ($10)

For more events for writers and authors, see Printorium’s event calendar

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Sitting. Waiting. Seeing.

Market Square

Historic Market Square has entrances on three streets: lower Johnson, Store, and Pandora. If you go down to the lower level, you will find great wooden benches set among shrubs and trees.

Part of the area is covered with a high roof, originally built for a produce market. The wind can come down and circle around here, so it isn’t always as protected as it looks. But it is a charming place.

There are various options for food-a vegetarian buffet, a Mexican cafe, and several take out vendors tucked away in little shops. Look for the large photos and descriptions of the history of Victoria located throughout the different levels.

I sit here in the sun on a wooden bench. Piano jazz is playing through speakers somewhere above me. I look up at the brick walls that surround this space. Balconies define each level. Striped awnings shield the windows. Colourful banners hang from the support posts.

I try to imagine how this site has changed over the past 200 years and the vision it took to refurbish the buildings and create this space. Some people have the capacity to see past crumbling bricks and appreciate the uniqueness of the architecture. To see what is possible. Seeing.

An elderly woman in purple walks by, her hair stacked in grey piles on top of her head. A cane marking her steps. What is she seeing? How is it different from my experience of this place?

Looking for a different perspective, I move up to a bench on the balcony at street level next to a little shop that sells fries. I listen to the words of customers making small talk with the cook, casual words slipping from their mouths revealing how they see the world.

Little sparrows hop around on the tile floor searching out morsels that are dropped.

A feather falls from the sky, caught in midair by a sparrow. A treasure to line her nest. I have to keep my eyes open all the time to see the treasures. Maybe I’ll just sit here and wait for my treasure to fall from heaven. A gift to me that I will only receive if my eyes are wide open.

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Sharing the creative writing process

Article by Mary Ellen Green in the VicNews leading up to the Inspiring Authors event: A Celebration of Local Authors.


Looking for inspiration to write and self-publish a book?

A group of 16 local authors are coming together to inspire any aspiring writer’s journey.

“I started writing six years ago, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” said author Rebecca Kennel.

She attended a workshop on self-publishing in March and it helped focus her creative writing into a guide book. By August, she had her book at the printer.

Victoria Bench by Bench is a collection of the creative writing Kennel did while exploring the nooks and crannies of Victoria, her new city.

“I moved here from Saskatchewan six years ago and I wanted to get out and explore. I would find a bench, sit down and write about what I see. I found a lot of places people who have lived here their whole lives have never seen,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »

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