Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Joan Hugues

Today I'm  handing over The Hippo to debut author Joan Hugues. Joannie recently followed me on Twitter and after taking a look at her book, Growing Only Dandelions, I decided to follow her back, we started to chat as if we were old friends and it lead to her being here today!

So I'm delighted to introduce you all to Joannie who is going to talk about her journey so far and tell you a little bit more about her novel.

Artwork courtesy of Joan Hugues

Joan P. Hugues is a first-time author making her publishing debut with Growing Only Dandelions.  Joannie (name of preference) lives in the United States on Long Island within the state of New York.  She is married to Jay, her High School sweetheart, for over 25 years and shares three children together, Jason, Jake Ryan and Juliet.  Joannie’s children motivate her to achieve her dream of becoming a best-selling author.  She longs to show them that dreams can come true.  Not by talent alone but through perseverance.  Joannie works as a Paralegal at a law firm and is the founder and President of JT’s Law Foundation Corp., a not-for-profit charitable organization that advocates against child food choking through education. Additional information about JT’s Law is available here.

For pleasure, Joannie immensely enjoys drawing.  The book cover and author photo used for Growing Only Dandelions are pencil artworks created by Joannie based on images of her daughter Juliet. You can view a catalog of Joannie's artwork here.

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                                      My Publishing Journey.

My publishing journey has been a rough trek.  Putting pen to paper or, more appropriately, concept into words; and crafting what would be eventually called Growing Only Dandelions took me several years to accomplish.  The hardships in my own personal life or just LIFE getting in the way, stopped and stalled the writing process a number of times.  Each written word was scrutinized and reevaluated.  Editing constantly and finding those sheepish, vile typos.  Searching for the ideal word to properly convey the messages contained therein.  Finalizing my novel was such a sweet achievement that swiftly turned sour once I commenced my publishing journey.

Excited to become the next best-selling author, my publishing journey begins on the traditional route.  I submitted my novel to the big five publishers.  Crickets chirping for months told me to switch gears and back pedal into more realistic territory.  Next up in my travels are the independent and regional publishers.  Rejection letters never felt so generic and cold.  Continuing on this icy path with my feet slipping and sliding along the way leaving bruises on my ass, I venture into the dark scary alleyways of Writer Beware Type Publishers with contracts that remind you to keep your day job.  Two years elapse without any significant, viable publication offers on my beloved Growing Only Dandelions.  Frustrated and defeated, I randomly sought advice in a Facebook mom’s group.  A published author commented and encouraged me to self-publish.

My thoughts on self-publishing was Last Resort.  The Hail Mary.  The No One Else Wants Me route in my publishing travels.  But, this individual completely convinced me otherwise.  She told me how a publisher would have control over my book.  Perhaps changing words, title choice and cover design.  These words solidified my path and showed me that self-publishing was actually the only road to travel on for Growing Only Dandelions.  I could never acquiesce to a rewrite, title change or different cover design for my novel.  Every single aspect of Growing Only Dandelions was carefully and painstakingly selected by me.

Self-publishing is a bumpy road with lots of potholes to swerve around.  The unavoidable Royalty sinkhole is deep, dark and depressing.  The percentage taken by the Vendor used to assist with my self-publishing is slightly (said with sarcasm) in favor of the Vendor.  Thankfully, now that the book is published, I can sit back with my feet up in the air and watch those books fly off the shelves.  Oh, how I wish that was true! 

Next road in my publishing journey feels like a dead-end (i.e., marketing plan).  Find clever ways to convince people to read a spiritual book written by an unknown author among a landscape full of promising and established authors.  Impossible or I.M.Possible. The outcome of my publishing journey is ultimately up to me.  

Posts to Facebook.  Photos uploaded to Instagram.  Tweets on Twitter.  Constantly barraging social media with colorful anecdotes to entice people to read my precious Growing Only Dandelions. Hitting a road block in my publishing journey only to be detoured to a woman named Neats who graciously offered me an opportunity to be a special guest author on her blog.  Reason for her generosity? “I’m just doing what I love, spreading the book love, helping someone out and making new friends along the way.” to quote this kind-hearted, humble woman who has poured concrete into some potholes and paved the way for me to reach a larger audience. Thank you for allowing me to share my publishing journey. 

It's a pleasure to host you Joannie and thank you so much for your kind words, you've made me blush!  🙂

Below is a brief summary of Growing Only Dandelions.  It is meant to open your mind, touch your heart, and awaken your spirit.  

Growing Only Dandelions” is an inspirational story of a woman who has a near-death experience that propels her on a spiritual and emotional journey.  This unconventional supernatural manuscript dares the reader to consider the possibility of a present and loving God through a narrative that triggers one’s imagination to question every action and inaction.

Bethany, a wife and mother, is enjoying a beautiful day at the beach with her family.  She falls asleep while her husband and son swim in the ocean. Awakened by the winds of an approaching storm, Bethany is alarmed by how dangerous the water has turned.  She frantically searches for her family before rushing to the water and jumping into it.  Bethany struggles against the treacherous waters and slams her head against a reef on the ocean’s floor.  Falling unconscious, Bethany says “I never saw a more brilliant light.”

Bethany opens her eyes in heaven and her spiritual and emotional journey begins.  She is escorted through a long corridor by a man insisting that she must see “Him” right away.  They swiftly walk alongside an endless stream of people shuffling forward slowly in a single filed line.  Some of them are curious and reach out their arms to touch the woman being chaperoned to the front of the line.  Upon contact, their “ugliness” (i.e., personal, shameful life event) is revealed to Bethany.  A person calls out to her by name.  Bethany recognizes that it is the voice of her estranged father.  Her hatred towards him is palpable.  He steps off the line and touches her wrist transporting her mind back in time to when her “ugliness” started as a young child from his abuse. 

Throughout the novel, Bethany is transported back in time to those milestone moments in her life that shaped her own “ugliness”.   Growing Only Dandelions highlights the presence of God through strategically placed relationships, purposely left “signs” and guardian angels, all of which are gifted to us through his grace.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an insightful guest post and for stopping by today Joannie. I started reading Growing Only Dandelions yesterday and I'm already over half way through it. It's definitely touched my heart, I'm really enjoying it so far and I may even have finished it by the time this post goes up, so watch out for a review here sometime very soon! 😉

You can find out more about Joannie, her book, her artwork and connect with her using the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US


  1. GrowingOnlyDandelions@gmail.com23 June 2019 at 13:51

    Neats, I am beyond impressed by the layout and presentation of my novel Growing Only Dandelions that you put together on your Blog. From the design to the content and your reveal that you are reading and enjoying my novel. Each and every aspect of this introduction to the writing community that you have extended to me warms my heart. There are not enough thank yous that you I can bestow on you for shining a spotlight on my beloved piece, Growing Only Dandelions, but please know - - -I am extremely grateful and humbled by your kindness. Your friend, Joannie

  2. It was a real pleasure to host you Joannie. I'm really looking forward to finishing Growing Only Dandelions and spreading the book love for you even more! 😘