STILL BREATHING by E.A. Fournier ***Excerpt -- Guest Post with the Author, learn some of the pitfalls on the path to publication -- Giveaway***

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Women’s FictionDate Published: November 17, 2018Designer: DamonzaPublisher: Acorn Publishing

Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.

Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.

Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.

Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

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Guest Post by Author E.A. Fournier
Pitfalls on the Path to Publication

1. Not Enough

A pitfall is a trap. Camouflaged by a flimsy covering, it’s a deep hole used to capture unwary prey. I’m on my own publication journey with my second book and, honestly, I’ve tumbled into a few pits already.

My first book was self-published using Amazon KDP. I did the writing, rewriting and proofing. I designed the cover, paid for help to format/encode the book, staged giveaways on Goodreads, begged for reviews and fought to get it noticed. Sadly, my novel’s nose never lifted above the sea of other titles.

I call this first pitfall the trap of “not enough.”

“Not enough” is the fearful faucet dripping in the back of your brain. The story wasn’t good enough, the writing wasn’t thrilling or lyrical or funny enough. If only the cover was more grabby. There weren’t enough reviews, not enough virtual interviews, or actual signings; not enough Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Not promoted soon enough, or long enough, or…just not enough buzz.

You’re muttering, “This post isn’t helpful enough.” Sorry. I’m still a work in progress.

2. The Agent Trap

I heard that the best thing I could do to help myself was write another book. So, I did. I’m not short of ideas. Three years later, here I am with a women’s fiction title. It’s a better story, better written and with wider appeal. I should get representation. Surely, agents know how to avoid the pitfall of “not enough.”

I learned to write query letters. I researched agents and agencies, policies and idiosyncrasies. I studied publishers and contracts. I joined Query Tracker, explored critique groups, sharpened my submissions, made lists, sent materials, followed up, tracked results and listened to experts. After six months and 142 rejections (most in the form of non-replies) I gave up.

I call this pitfall “the agent trap.”

Getting an agent happens—at least I’ve read about it—but for me it amounted to six months of sitting at the bottom of another damp and depressing pitfall.

3. Hybrid Publishing

So, my current efforts find me with a hybrid publishing company whose owners fell in love with my writing at a workshop. With their help I was paired with a wonderful editor, guided to a cover design company, shepherded through KDP and introduced to new distribution channels. They taught me to build a better author platform, assisted in blog tours, secured book reviews and kept me sane. (Yes, they also cost me $$ and time—nothing is free.)

Will it make a difference? One can hope. If I’m being honest, though, I’m not sure. I may be finally striding down my path to publication or just sitting at the bottom of a new pit.

In the meantime, while I wait to find out, I’m 15,000 words into my third book.

Keep scrolling for an excerpt from Still Breathing.


Lizzie carried a towel, some rags, a folded robe, a big bar of deep blue soap, and a pair of flip-flops. Meg walked just ahead of her, lugging a large plastic bucket of warm water in one hand and tapping the ground ahead of them with a long stick. 

“We rent this house,” Meg said, “and the owner keeps talking about upgrading to indoor plumbing. That’d be nice but we’re afraid if he does, we won’t be able to afford the rent. So far, it’s just talk.” 

They passed long sets of clothes lines near the back perimeter wall and approached a painted enclosure with two wooden doors. Meg pulled open the left side door and stepped inside the closet-sized room, setting her bucket down on the slightly canted cement floor. “As a result, you will have the pleasure of a more traditional clean-up experience.” She grinned at Lizzie. “I know, it’s not exactly the Ritz, but bucket baths have their own rustic charms.” 

She repositioned the two small benches in the room, pushing one against a wall and sliding the other into the center of the space. Turning back to Lizzie, still standing at the door, Meg set down the stick and held out her hands. “Here, gimme those, and I’ll set things up.”

Lizzie handed everything to Meg who efficiently arranged the items in a practiced order, using the outer bench and some convenient wooden pegs set into the walls. 

“Okay. Let me show you the basics.” Meg crouched over the bucket and pretended to cup handfuls of water and toss them onto one shoulder and then onto the other. “You just kind of get the water going where you need it to go. Then you lather up. Rinse off. Repeat. It’s not complicated.” 

She snickered and patted Lizzie’s shoulder as she exited. “Wait’ll you have to do it with cold water. I’ll remind Musaazi to leave another bucket outside the door for an extra rinse.” She winked. “I’m sure you’ll need it after all you’ve been through.”

Lizzie peeked inside the stark, white painted room and her eyes grew wider—there wasn’t any roof! She heard Meg outside explaining the next room in the enclosure, so she ducked back out to catch up.

“This is the bathroom side,” Meg explained. “I know it feels primitive but it’s clean. Just pretend you’re camping in the woods and you’ll be fine. Most women carry TP with them. You’ll get used to it. Here, the boys do a good job of keeping ours stocked.” She smiled as she stepped out so Lizzie could get a look. “And they no longer steal it, so that helps.”

Lizzie stepped into the bathroom, reassured to see a corrugated roof above her. There were a few pegs in the walls and a hole in the cement floor with room for feet on either side. A generous roll of toilet paper was within easy reach, and a small shelf nearby held two more rolls. She heard Meg’s voice continuing so she stepped back out.

“I know this is a lot to deal with, but you’ll be fine. Now, I’m sure you’re anxious to get started. I’m gonna go pull together some breakfast.” She stepped off toward the house, then stopped. “Oh, and just drape your dirty clothes over the bath wall. Musaazi’ll gather ‘em up, and I’ll get ‘em washed. Okay?”

Lizzie felt dazed, but not unpleasantly so. “Okay.”

Meg studied her for a moment, unsure whether to leave. “You’ll get your feet under you soon. I promise.” 

Lizzie cocked her head, uncertain. 

Meg grinned. “You’re made for this place, Lizzie. I can feel it.”

“Am I?”

“Yep. Despite this beginning, you’re gonna love Uganda.”

About the Author

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Originally from South Minneapolis, Gene Fournier earned a BA in Philosophy & Literature from St. Louis University followed by a Masters in Film from USC. Gene is a member of the Writers Guild of America West (WGA) and worked as a screenwriter and editor in Hollywood, but sadly, he never got that big break.

Seeking a return to his roots after twelve years in California, he accepted a Director of Media position with a multinational company headquartered in the Midwest. For thirty years he wrote, directed, edited and distributed corporate video programs around the world, managed live presentations, and orchestrated the creative elements for national and international meetings.

Retired now, with his seven children grown, and a dozen grandchildren to distract him, Gene is finally able to write down the stories he’s been carrying in his head all these years.

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