Life Plain and Simple by Lisa Rose
Every now and again, we come across a local writer here on Vancouver Island. Lisa Rose, a native of Victoria, is just such an author and she has just self published a new book called Life Plain and Simple or rather life plain and simple without capital letters. This book is sort of a self-help/wellness book but doesn’t conform to the traditional definitions of self-help. The thinking behind the book is the reader can open any page and find a simple thought surrounded by space. The 100 messages include “There are no excuses, there are the things you do, and the things you don’t do” and “Nothing limits you but you.” These plain and simple messages are designed to illustrate that life isn’t nearly as complicated as we think and that, with a little thought, we can start down the road to great things. The message closest to our heart is “Write it down to make it real.”
Lisa has been kind enough to answer a few questions – she’s an expert in rejection letters.
Abe – Why did you decide to write the book?
Lisa – “I wrote the book because I believe the truth can always be stated simply. The idea for the book started forming several years ago. when I moved back to the Island I started a small business selling words in the form of fridge magnets (and trust me when I tell you…selling fridge magnets is not something I aspired to do as a kid!) I sold a ton of these! I would get great emails from people who received my stuff as a gift (or bought it for themselves)…stories of how my thoughts affected their lives. the question ‘do you have a book?’ kept popping up.
“I have an agent in NYC and nothing has happened with it from that end. what I do have is a box of great rejection letters. I actually enjoy them and like to look at them. They give me direction. With every one I am one step closer where I want to be. (I am also a fan of the thank-you-for-the-rejection-letter letter….I have sent these to people who have sent me the best rejection letters. I’ve always wondered if they laughed when they opened my mail to them!)
“One day, just before leaving my place, I Googled a writer whose edition of a book originally written in 1903 is one of my favorite books of all time. Marc Allen is the writer’s name. I came up with his email address and tossed a quick note out to him saying I admired his work. I told him I had written a book and wondered if he would take a look at it. I came home late that night to find an email from him saying he would…couldn’t promise when…just said to send it off to him. Long story short…he got back to me a few months later. Ny that time I had already made the decision to self publish. That ended up being his advice to me. He let me know that it is very difficult for a first time, unknown author to get a book deal. I needed to build a proven sales history and have some ammunition for my next round of submissions. (I have since learned that some very successful books were self-published to start. The one minute series. The monk who sold his Ferrari etc.)
“The beginning of December I had my proof and took it to a dinner party. I hadn’t told many people what I was doing. (I don’t enjoy hearing all the negative things people seem to want to tell you when you are doing something out of their comfort zone. I wanted to stay focused and keep it simple.) I asked helene and gary to take a look at it and give me feedback…since they were seeing it for the first time. I told them the story of my email exchange with marc allen. One of the first things helene told me was who exactly marc allen is. i didn’t put it together that he was an owner of New World Library. Things like that have been happening with this project.”
Abe – Why did you choose this particular black and white, limited text, minimalist style?
Lisa – “I believe the words can stand on their own. It did take me awhile to get the concept formulated. It needed to be right…as the design is a huge part of it. Everything was done for a reason. It is really a paper version of me. Does that make sense? i am simple, uncomplicated.
“Not everything dealing with this subject matter needs to be covered with flowers and butterflies. ‘American books have gotten shitty-looking; they’re tawdry and over-designed at best’ is a quote from Dennis Johnson of Melville House Publishing. I wanted my book to stand out. Life Plain and Simple is put down in a sleek, modern, style-driven and uncomplicated way. things about life and being a person can have an urban look. I know what goes through my mind if I see a book in this category that is over-designed…I think it is ‘airy-fairy’ and lose interest, regardless of the content.
“This book is a reference book for living. It is a book that will be reread. Because it can be opened to any page, readers may find the words mean different things to them at different moments in their lives. The format is suggestive and interactive. The space can to be used. The style will broaden the appeal regardless of gender, age, race, religious beliefs, and education.
“Things that were once on the fringe are coming to the center. ABC’s World News Tonight recently stated that as many as 60 per cent of Americans have turned to some form of mind-body-spirit work in search of wellness. The timing is right for a book of this type…one that people can relate to and not be thrown off by the language/tone of many spiritual/self-help books. (Its size is significant too. it is 5″ x 7″ which is the exact size of a greeting card…and i’ve sold lots of those too!)”
Abe – Where do the 100 thoughts come from?
Lisa – “I like the simplicity of a statement. No answers needed. No explanation required. Just the simple observation of what works in my life. Every thought comes from something I’ve learned as I’ve made my way through my life. I am really curious and fascinated with life and being a person.”
Abe – What’s your background?
Lisa – “I’ve done a few things in my life. Owning clothing stores. Working for a Canadian company in LA. Working in the film business in Calgary. Moving back to here 10 years ago brought me new experiences. For the last five years I’ve worked in a restaurant a couple nights a week. I started painting in 2001 and exhibit and sell my work regularly. I design and sell products about life and being a person. I work with people who have ideas and don’t know how to start making them real. Next…I hope…a program called ‘teentrepreneurs’…a word I made up which means ‘a kid with entrepreneurial skills’. I’d love to have a foundation to help kids develop their ideas and make money. I did submit a proposal to the Trump organization regarding this idea. I received the best rejection letter from them……..it is my most treasured.”