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Monday, January 07, 2019

 

You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America - blog tour and giveaway

Itching for a challenge when she turned 60, Jane Bertrand set out to reach the highest point of each state. Her strategic mistake was to start with the easiest ones, leaving the most strenuous for the end of this decade-long quest. She recruited over 50 family members, colleagues, and childhood friends to join her in this quest. Ostensibly a book about hiking and climbing, it captures the deep sense of friendship, further strengthened by bear sightings, lack of signage, lost GPS connectivity, muddy trails, snowfields, icy run-off, and tent loss encountered along the way.

Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Walnut Park Press (November 16, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1732847703
ISBN-13: 978-1732847705

You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America is now available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest!
To win a copy of the book You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America by Jane T. Bertrand, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on January 14th at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:
Jane T. Bertrand is a professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, where she splits her time between teaching in New Orleans and managing research on Tulane's family planning projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A Maine native, she moved to New Orleans over 40 years ago where she and her husband Bill raised their children, Katy and Jacob. Her recurrent travel to Africa in connection with international family planning work generated many of the frequent flyer miles that made this highpointing pursuit possible.

Find Jane Online:

Twitter: @JaneBertrand8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneBertrandAuthor/

Website: https://www.janebertrand.com/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1785116.Jane_T_Bertrand

Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Jane, I have enjoyed your book immensely! Let me begin by thanking your for choosing WOW to help promote and spread the word about You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America! It's always a pleasure meeting an adventurous spirit and having the opportunity for some Q& A. Let's start with what prompted you to share this story and publish it?

Jane: A decade ago when I turned 60, I decided to climb a mountain in every state but didn’t consider the idea of writing it up as a book. Halfway into this 10-year project, as I was about to start a 3-day road trip with my daughter and a friend visiting from the Netherlands, I hit on the idea of a book. Numerous people had and would be joining me, and it would fun to capture these adventures in written form. I wanted to thank each person with a physical copy of the book. Only afterwards did I realize that it might have wider appeal.

WOW: As a reader, I'm very glad you decided to share your story; it's a delightful and empowering read! Who has been your biggest supporter(s) and how so?

Jane: I’d have to name one supporter for the project of hiking the highpoints and another for writing the book.

Photo © Jane Bertrand
My colleague Dr. Julie Hernandez, who climbed four highpoints with me, was a key resource for the project for two reasons. First, she is an experienced mountaineer who as a teenager had been an alpine guide on rescue crews in France and this past summer had trekked in the Himalayas. Second, she and I work very closely together at Tulane University on several family projects in the DR Congo, and as such, Julie knows my professional life better than almost anyone. As the mountains began to escalate in difficulty, I leaned on Julie to provide coaching/company on the highpoints and/or coverage back in the office while I was away seeking summits. The section of the book on Mt Hood captures this relationship, where Julie was back in the office heading up our proposal writing efforts, while I was off in Oregon, preparing for one of the most difficult climbs I’d undertake as part of this project. We’d fit in Skype calls to discuss the proposal, as I prepared for Deep Snow Climbing School. “Julie, let’s trade places. You come out here and do Deep Snow Climbing School, I’ll come back and drink hot coffee while working on the proposal.” Julie fired back: “No playing hooky on Deep Snow Climbing School and no sending another student to take the test.”

My sister Liz Trowbridge Wild, herself the author of a children’s book published in the 1980s, agreed to review the manuscript and gradually became my invaluable editor. Initially, she limited her comments more to errors: typos, run on sentences, unclear statements. But soon she focused more critically on the substance of the book: the pace of the narrative (“Jane, get yourself up and down that mountain more quickly”), the tone of the writing (Jane, this description left me cold; put some emotion into it”), and the attitude (“Jane, that sentence makes you sound so entitled”). It was a tremendous gift to me that she threw herself into the project, clearly wanting the book to be as good as I could make it and offering her critical opinions with such honesty.


"The sections written soon after completing a highpoint flowed more easily onto the page."


WOW: Sounds like you have a lot of support. I love your sisters advice in particular. Speaking of advice, what advice would you give other writers who may want to follow in your footsteps?

Jane: If I had this to do over again, I would have begun writing the excerpts (or at least keeping a journal) at the time of each climb. Because I’d already visited 16 states before it occurred to me to write the book, I struggled to recall the detail of excursions that took place up to five years earlier. The sections written soon after completing a highpoint flowed more easily onto the page.

Although I edited every section of the book – highpoint by highpoint – multiple times, I wish I’d left more time at the end of the process to consider the space I’d given to different parts of the book. However, time ran out with a very real deadline propelling me to publication. In the final year before publication, my editor sister Liz tossed out the idea: “you should have a big party and invite all the people who accompanied you on the highpoints.” Six months before my 70th birthday, I invited the 63 people whom I’d recruited to hike/highpoint with me to a book launch in New Orleans on my 70th birthday. I then began the race against time: to get the book published a month before the party, so I could send them their copy and they could read up on the other people they would then meet at the party. The book launch gave me a non-negotiable deadline, which did wonders for finalizing the book but didn’t leave as much time as I might have hoped for that reflective review of the final manuscript.

WOW: Great advice - thanks again! Our readers are always looking for new ideas. What do you do to celebrate your professional successes? 

Jane: Whereas this book was written as a hobby, my day job is Professor at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. For academics, success is measured as a journal article published or a grant proposal accepted for funding. The “celebration” of the article tends to take the form of few emails exchanged, expressing as much relief to have it behind us as satisfaction that it’s in print. For a grant proposal accepted, we might break open a bottle of champagne, with the common refrain, “yes, but now we actually have to do the work that we promised in the proposal.”

The celebration of this book was different. Of the 63 people who accompanied me to one or more highpoints or hikes, 37 joined me for the book launch party in New Orleans. One climber sent in her regrets from the DR Congo, because the World Health Organization had called her to work on the front lines of the Ebola crisis; I considered that an excused absence. After a cocktail party hosted by a good friend/neighbor and a catered dinner for some 50 people, many of my highpointing “recruits” gave a short talk on our adventures. I took a friendly beating for my determination to achieve this goal and the numerous barriers we encountered in the process.

WOW: It takes a village, right? Sounds like you have a fabulous one! Are you part of a writing a critique group, why or why not? 

Jane: Because I wrote this book as a hobby instead of my main line of work, I did not look for this opportunity. I did have the invaluable assistance of my sister who became my editor.

Six months before I needed to have a final version published, I had the good fortune of learning that a colleague from a decade ago was also self-publishing a book (actually several books), and he was facing many of the same questions as I was: who to use as a copy editor, how to get the cover and format of the book designed, what book distribution services to use, how to promote the book on social media – which was unknown territory for both of us. Many an email flew back-and-forth between New Orleans and Albuquerque, as we tried to sort through the many questions related to self-publishing. On what was a very steep learning curve, misery loved company.

My feedback on writing style came from my sister/Editor: Liz Trowbridge Wild, who reviewed what I considered to be the near final draft. She poured hours into this task and provided invaluable feedback. We jokingly wondered if afterwards, we’d still be friends. To the contrary, it was a true “bonding experience.”


"I would have encouraged my younger self to realize earlier in life how restorative hiking is to the soul."


WOW: I'm certainly glad I asked that one - thanks for sharing so much about your process and those who helped you along the way.

What would your current self say to your younger self when it comes to writing and life?

Jane: The idea to highpointing (try to reach the highest point in every state) didn’t occur to me until age 60. And I didn’t take on the truly challenging mountains until late into my 60s. My only regret about this project was my inability to attempt the four most difficult highpoints (in Alaska, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming) that were simply beyond my physical capacity by age 69. I have no illusion that I would ever would have climbed Denali in Alaska, but a younger Jane Bertrand – with some training – might have attempted Rainier, Granite Peak, and Gannett Peak.

As to life in general, I would encourage my younger self to stay in shape and find a balance between my work/academic job/work-related international travel and time on the trails. This is especially true for someone living in Louisiana, where there is no mountain higher than 535 feet. I’d chosen employment and residence in a state didn’t provide the kind of outdoors lifestyle common in Denver, Colorado, or Seattle, Washington. Through highpointing, I was able to make up for lost time, but I would have encouraged that younger self to realize earlier in life how restorative hiking is to the soul.


Photo © Jane Bertrand

WOW: Sounds like great advice - I am always struggling with balance myself!

If You Started WHAT after 60? were turned into a movie what theme song would be appropriate?

Jane: No question, Chariots of Fire. But the audience would walk out over such a clichéd selection.


"I struggled to weigh the advantages of finding a publisher versus self-publishing, at a time that the self-publishing industry was growing exponentially."


WOW:  Oddly enough, I memorized that particular song for my 4th grade piano recital and can still play much of it by memory to this very day! What do you know now that you wished you had known before writing and publishing the book?

Jane: Perhaps there is no way to learn about the publishing business until one becomes part of the process. For three years I’d paid my monthly fee to the website Publisher’s Marketplace, never once using it for any meaningful purpose. Somehow $25/month served to demonstrate that I was committed to eventually publishing a book. When I finally identified a service that I wanted from this resource, I received back an automated message that they didn’t offer it. I discontinued my subscription and got serious about how to get this manuscript published.

I struggled to weigh the advantages of finding a publisher versus self-publishing, at a time that the self-publishing industry was growing exponentially. Even with a few good contacts in the publishing world, I failed to make any inroads. To get a publisher, one needed first to get an agent, which itself seemed a herculean task. As my timeframe shortened, I realized that self-publishing would be the best and possibly only option for me.

I’d read online articles and a book on the topic of publishing, but I was still confused. What did Kindle Exclusive mean? How does one get a book listed on Amazon? What does Ingram do? Is it important to have an ISBN number? How did social media work in promoting a book? Because of my accelerated schedule for publication, I was making decisions based on expediency, not comparative shopping. For the most part, I got lucky.

WOW: I could have written that last paragraph myself - publishing is confusing!

What’s next for you?

Photo © Jane Bertrand
Jane: The title of the book leads people to ask: what is the book You Started WHAT after 70? going to contain? This experience has taught me that that I want to continue to spend time in the great outdoors and explore new corners/new trails to the extent possible. A handful of highpointers go on to climbing the highest mountain in every continent. Others start checking off the 3600+ county highpoints as a new goal to achieve. I’ve had my fun with trying to hit an established target (the 50 highpoints in the U.S.) The next phase will be more about taking advantage of opportunities that continue to keep me physically active and get me into the great outdoors.

I don’t see another book in the offing, but I have dubbed and quantified my determination to stay active as “Eight Outstanding Outdoors Adventures Annually.” I’ll start 2019 with an annual tradition of a three-day cross-country ski trip among the Maine Huts and Trails, with three other women, one of whom was my best friend in kindergarten (now 65 years ago). In March I’ll attend a professional meeting in Katmandu, Nepal, after which I hope to tack on a week of trekking in Nepal, which will be a first for me. In August, I’ll plan to climb Katahdin, the Northern Terminus on the Appalachian Trail, as part of my Maine vacation ritual. That leaves five more; any suggestions?


"Find the person that will level with you to make the final product as good as it can be."


WOW: You most definitely are a busy lady, so I won't keep you any longer, but lastly I need to ask: What advice would you give to others regarding feedback in writing? 

Jane: Seek it out! One advantage to a four-decade career as a professor in the world of “publish or perish,” is the thick skin one develops in receiving feedback on one’s writing. We often joke “if we don’t get critical feedback from your colleagues, it means they haven’t read it.” It’s easy to become enamored with the one’s own words and to think that one’s clever wording is going to be universally understood and appreciated. Find the person that will level with you to make the final product as good as it can be.

WOW: I'm looking forward to this book tour and hearing from other readers, how about you?  Thank you for your time and for sharing your story with us today.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, January 7th (Today) @ The Muffin
Jane T. Bertrand launches her tour of You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America with an author interview and giveaway.
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, January 8th @ Fiona Ingram
Fellow author Fiona Ingram reviews the adventures story of Jane T. Bertrand's experiences highpointing across America in You Started WHAT After 60. Readers won't be disappointed in Ingram's review or Bertrand's memoir!
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 9th @ Bring on Lemons w/Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto couldn't wait to get her hands on Jane T. Bertrand's story about highpointing across America! This busy farmer seldom leaves the farm and enjoyed every moment she experienced reading You Started WHAT After 60?. Find out more in her book review at Bring on Lemons today!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 10th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Learn more about Jane T. Bertrand as she is interviewed by Cathy Stucker at Selling Books. You won't want to miss this insightful interview about Bertrand and her memoir You Started What After 60? Highpointing Across America.
https://www.sellingbooks.com/

Friday, January 11th @ Breakeven Books
Don't miss a very honest book review about Jane T. Bertrand's You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

Monday, January 14th @ Look to the Western Sky with Margo Dill
Author, Editor, and Reviewer Margo Dill shares her thoughts after reading the inspiring memoir You Started WHAT After 60? by Jane T. Bertrand.
http://margoldill.com/

Wednesday, January 16th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina reads and reviews You Started WHAT After 60? - by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers won't want to miss this adventurous memoir about highpointing across America.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

Friday, January 18th @ BOL w/Michelle DelPonte
Michelle DelPonte offers her point of view after reading You Started WHAT After 60? by Jane T. Bertrand. Find out what this Wisconsin wife, mother, and autism advocate has to say about Bertrand's recount of her adventures!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 22nd @ Book Santa Fe w/Elizabeth Hansen
Description:Young reader and reviewer Elizabeth Hansen shares her thoughts after reading about Jane T. Bertrand's adventures in You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America.
http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

Thursday, January 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Description:Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her review of You Started WHAT After 60? by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers at Choices will be thrilled by Bertrand's adventures in highpointing across America!
http://madelinesharples.com/

Wednesday, January 30th @ To Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha
Sreevarsha reviews the inspirational book You Started WHAT After 60? by Jane T. Bertrand. Don't miss the opportunity to learn more about Bertrand's adventure highpointing across America later in life.
http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

Tuesday, February 5th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Description:Nicole reviews and shares her thoughts after reading the thrilling account of Jane T. Bertrand's adventures in highpointing across America in You Started WHAT After 60?. Join readers at World of My Imagination and find out more about this great read and inspirational author!
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/


*****BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

To win a copy of the book You Started WHAT after 60? by Jane T. Bertrand, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on January 14th at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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7 Comments:

Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--Thanks for doing this interview.

Jane--I'm less than 6 months from turning 60, so your book fascinates me. Your experiences and story is proof that life in your 60s does not require a permanent spot in a rocking chair and nonstop knitting needles.

What about the different national parks? Or the incredible lakes, rivers and oceans in our country?

I'm sure whatever your next decade holds for you, it will be exciting and rewarding.

Good luck with whatever you want to publish next, and phenomenal travels.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Interview was awesome!!!

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very inspirational. Will have to share this with my grandmother. Thank you.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Super inspiring interview, ladies!

I just LOVE that you did this, Jane, and it's something I aspire to do. What an accomplishment! I also love that you invited 63 people to hike with you and had a book launch party with some of them! :)

I agree that the way to learn about the publishing business is to become part of the process. I think Publisher's Marketplace is good for tracking book sales--which agent sold what to whom--and only useful if you're actively seeking an agent and want to see who sold in your genre. It's not a place to query agents, and limited that way, but helpful for finding out about sales you wouldn't be able to find out any other way, really.

Self-publishing is a steep learning curve. I totally agree! And I applaud anyone who greenlights her own book.

Good luck on your tour, and I'm looking forward to reading your memoir! :)

1:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Crystal, thanks for launching the blog tour, and thanks to the four of you who commented on the interview. Sioux, I hope you'll find your own version of highpointing. I hadn't realized how important it was to set a goal, rather than just vowing to "spend time outdoors," at least for those of us who are goal-oriented.

Abigail, I like your idea of giving a copy to your grandmother. Lots of people are looking for ways to make their senior years more meaningful. Highpointing won't be for everyone, but the idea of finding something that does bring a deep sense of satisfaction is important.

Angela, thanks for the insights about Publishers Marketplace. I didn't get far enough to appreciate what it is useful for. Thanks for your encouraging words.

Jane Bertrand

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Jane Bertrand said...

Abigail, I like your idea of giving a copy to your grandmother. Lots of people are looking for ways to make their senior years more meaningful. Highpointing won't be for everyone, but the idea of finding something that does bring a deep sense of satisfaction is important.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Jane Bertrand said...

Angela, thanks for the insights about Publishers Marketplace. I didn't get far enough to appreciate what it is useful for. Thanks for your encouraging words.

2:26 PM  

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