Julie Neale is the author of The Mother’s Quest Inspiration Guide: Vol 1 Engage.
Julie often talked about her dream of becoming an author. One day, her son challenged her to do it. He said, “Mom, complete your book before the end of the year.”
So she did.
Read on to hear more about her inspiration for becoming an author (twice over!) and what helped her get it done.
Julie, you wrote your book! Congratulations on getting it done. How does it feel to be an author?
I feel so accomplished to be an author now twice over! My first Tiny Book was completed in 2020. The feeling of fulfillment, and the relative ease and fun I felt writing it, inspired me to publish again through The Tiny Book Course in 2022. Now both of my creations are out in the world (and on my own bedside table!). It’s amazing.
Tell everyone about your book. What’s the title? What’s it about? What will readers find inside?
My first book, The Mother’s Quest Inspiration Guide: Vol 1 Engage, part memoir and part reflection journal, chronicles my journey to saying yes to what I call my E.P.I.C. Life and delves into best practices for the first E.P.I.C. Guidepost, “E” or engaging with our children. After I wrote the Inspiration Guide, I wanted to create something that would support myself and my readers to go from holding positive intentions to making those intentions real. So, the Mother’s Quest Planner was born! I created a full year dated calendar version and an undated 90-day version.
Was writing a book a lifelong dream of yours? In the past, did you struggle to get it done? (YOU DID IT!) If so, what changed for you that allowed you to get it done? Did you have an attitude shift? Did you change your schedule or daily habits? Did you simply decide, “The time is now” and that’s that? Was there some other change or shift?
The initial push I needed to say “yes” to my book-writing dream came from my teenage son. Hearing me say again and again that I wanted to be an author, he challenged me in 2020 to complete my book before the year ended. This knowledge, that in achieving my dream I was also setting an example for my son, was the motivation I needed! Once I decided, I knew I’d have to find the right guide to help me. So, I kept my eyes open and almost immediately came upon an email about The Tiny Book Course. The moment I read about course process—an invitation to write a book that felt doable in a short amount of time, with ease and fun—I knew The Tiny Book Course was for me!
What was the hardest part about creating this book? And what was the easiest or most joyful part of the process?
The hardest part of the process was reigning in the scope of my vision to make the book content manageable as a tiny book. Alex and Lindsey’s advice to scale things back and simplify, and the suggestion from my coach to publish my ideas in volumes, was essential to moving forward. The most joyful part of the process for me was being part of a community of aspiring authors. In addition to The Tiny Book Course community, I invited other mothers from my Mother’s Quest community to join the course, too, and come along on the journey with me. During the process, I set aside time for the other Mother’s Quest members and I to meet to share our plans and give one another feedback. Knowing we weren’t alone, and getting inspiration from one another, made a difference for all of us. It was also so much fun to promote their books, alongside mine, at my Tiny Book Launch.
Every author has a different writing process. Some people need to “get away” and check themselves into a hotel room or a cabin in the woods to focus and get things done. Some people like to write first thing in the morning, while others are night owls. Some write 30 minutes a day, while others need to block out a bigger chunk of time to make progress. What was your writing process for your book?
For the Inspiration Guide, I followed a method where I put all my key thoughts and ideas on individual post-its and then organized them in clusters. From there, I created an outline in a Google doc that I added to little by little each day. I have ADHD so I also needed the urgency and deadline of The Tiny Book Course photoshoot to push me along. (Keeping it real!) To move forward when I felt stuck, I checked in with my coach for a perspective shift, tapped into The Tiny Book Course community for inspiration, and collaborated with other members of my Mother’s Quest team. For the planner, after a visioning brainstorm, I delegated all the design from the beginning to a member of my team, Elisia, who let me know where I needed to make personal decisions and fill in the gaps. We leveraged a lot of my existing frameworks and content, including affirmations I had previously written. This method of building from what I had already created and working in partnership was essential for me. We don’t need to do this alone or from scratch!
Imagine someone out there who dreams of writing a book. But this person feels like: “I’m nobody special,” “I’m not a very good writer,” “I don’t have anything especially ‘amazing’ or ‘unique’ to say,” “Who would want to read my book anyway?” Imagine you’re having coffee or tea with this person. What would you say to this person? Do you have any words of advice or encouragement?
I truly believe we each have something special to share and contribute. I know that can sound cliche, but there is NO ONE else on this planet who has the same life experience, knowledge, personality, vision, and way of communicating as you. There is someone out there who is waiting for your book to spark or shift something for them…and you are the unique messenger to make it possible. You have to trust this to be true and take a leap of faith. We can also create our own barriers to moving forward, thinking we need someone else to give us permission. I loved the Tiny Book process, and self-publishing, because I didn’t have to wait for a book agent, publisher, or cash advance. I relearned the powerful lesson that we can open our own doors. If you want to hear more about these reflections, I released a podcast episode about this.
Often, when people work with us, they sometimes catch “book fever” and immediately start working on their next book. Did this happen for you? Are you planning another book? What’s it going to be about?
Yes, I definitely caught the book creation bug! I’m so grateful that the Inspiration Guide prompted me to create the Mother’s Quest planner very soon after. In addition, I decided to create the Inspiration Guide in volumes. With Volume 1 complete, I still have three more volumes to go, for the other three E.P.I.C. Guideposts…so more self-publishing is in store for me. I’m trying to trust myself and complete them in the right timing for me.
Once you release a book into the world, it creates a ripple effect and there’s no telling how far that ripple may go. Your book could lead to a speaking engagement, a media appearance, new clients or customers, “fan mail” from a complete stranger you’ve never met, or something completely unexpected, like reconnecting with an old friend who discovers your book almost by accident. We call this “book magic.” It’s the surprising, serendipitous magic that happens once you put your work into the world. Has any book magic happened for you?
Honestly, so much book magic happened for me in the process. Seeing the other books published by Mother’s Quest members, like Jenjii Hysten’s Beyond the Hashtag: The Spirit Heart and Love of Black Men and Lena Velasquez’s Healing While Hurting: Poetry and Reflections was such a powerful experience. If I hadn’t said yes to opening my own door, they might not have either! Further confirmation that we each have a unique role to play, and we will never fully realize our impact if we don’t take a leap of faith. I also feel like there is a lot of book magic yet to unfold for me. I’m open and excited for what’s to come.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your book, or words of advice for aspiring authors?
At an Elizabeth Gilbert “Big Magic” creative writing workshop, which planted the seeds for all things Mother’s Quest, she said from the stage, “Dream about the perfect thing…but then go create the real thing.” This message is what helped me tentatively use my voice when I first launched the Mother’s Quest Podcast (even when I couldn’t stand the sound of it!), and it’s what helped me push publish on my first Tiny Book and then the Mother’s Quest planner. I’d love for aspiring authors to dream big, but then go and do. Don’t let perfection stop you from making your dream a reality. There are ripples of impact you and your book are here to set in motion.
Congratulations, Julie! You set a wonderful example for your son. We can’t wait to see the next three volumes—and what your son might be inspired to create, too.