While Claret was busy with the Flat White, Red was in the kitchen whipping up a batch of hot and spicy chicken soup. She had a project and knew Amanda Dcosta would be in about 30 minutes after the lunch rush. She was bundled up like Nanook with the wind whipping into the M3 Coffee Shoppe behind her.
M3: You look cold, Mandy. Snuggle in and tell the M3 Readers, who do not already know you, who is Amanda Dcosta.
AD: Amanda is an author, poet, botanist, entrepreneur and management professional. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany, a Master’s Diploma in Hospital Management and a Post Graduate Certificate in Project Management. Her work experience of 16 years spans across the hotel, hospital and retail industries including working for a pest control firm for over a year. Alongside this, Amanda has been writing on the internet for many years, building up her career as a content writer.
M3: I know you have someone to thank.
AD: I am eternally grateful to God for my writing talent. I don’t think I can dream of going places with my writing if not for Him. And yes, there are those who are always there telling me “I can”… even when I doubt my writing.
M3: I know you have done a good deal of collaborative work, so where did you get in on the publishing end of the spectrum?
AD: Getting my books published is an entirely new area of research and experience for me. I’ve had the material for both books ready a long time, and boom… one fine day it happened, and I had two books out at one go. Somehow, I took a fancy to Booktango and published my books through them.
M3: Did this have anything to do with a beef with the traditional publishing industry?
AD: I am new to the publishing industry. My research has been very limited in this field and I have plans to explore more options with publishing my current books. As of now, I’ve opted for the free, self-publishing option at Booktango, but there are a lot of constraints and drawbacks with this kind of a package.
For one, I have to pay for image inserts in my book, and secondly, I have no control over the formatting of my book other than guessing and hoping that it would turn out the way I planned. But on the plus side, it’s given me the chance to learn a bit of what takes place behind the making of a book, and I am entitled to 100% of earnings through sales.
M3: And that carries hooks you do not see until afterward. In the meantime, what’s shaking?
AD: I have a couple of children’s books that have been in the making for the past five to six years, and are kept on hold for want of good illustration. I might even turn them into a ‘series’ or collection once I get the first one out. On the other side, in continuation of my Project Management series, I have Part III in progress. Someday, I also plan to channel my poetic streak, compiling my poems into a volume of one or more of the many poetry forms. Right now tanka rates high on this list.
M3: I am intensely form challenged, despite how poetically inclined. Better you than I. So, with that on top of your other things, which we will get to in a moment, do you ever level out for hiatus?
AD: There are always distractions, and there are times when, for months at a time, I can go on without writing anything constructive. I’ve noticed this happens most during the summer months and when the temperature soars over 90F. But then, when I get the urge to write, I can write non-stop for days on end, always wondering where this drive and energy come from. Usually after I take a break, I end up writing nonstop. Something like: Rest a while and run a mile.
M3: (Laughs) I am just ready to write something in a language I can speak…not program. Are you doing the day job thing these days?
AD: I am not a writer who goes by the clock. To me, writing is not a job but a passion and hobby. I would love to work a day job as there is so much to learn. I draw inspiration from things around me and the work I do. Although I do not have a day job, I am part of event management projects with my neighbors that again bring out my creative side. This in turn, inspires me to write and influences my writing.
M3: Even without eyeballing the clock, you have to run into time issues.
AD: Time is one major constraint. At times I have to “make the time” to write. As a housewife with kids in middle school, writing takes a backseat many times, and there are always other things which are “more important”. Even if I have some bright idea about a topic in question, there is always a matter of time. But more often than not, I prefer to write once the house is asleep, and it’s way past midnight. This is when my mind speaks the loudest. I make up for sleep during the morning hours once my kids are at school.
M3: I did not realize Mantra went to Oman when I was snoozing. (Giggles) On the heels of time comes the inevitable question about money. How has the worldwide economic state changed the way you operate?
AD: The past couple of years have changed the face of the writing and publishing industries dramatically. Many sites that used to pay writers for articles have either stopped paying for submission of articles or have shut their doors to submissions save for a select group of writers.
One of the main drawbacks that I face today is the rejection of my writer application at many sites, where I am either informed that I do not fall under their demographic requirement (not in the US, UK, Canada or Australia) or that I fail to provide them with a US Social Security Number for verification as I do not reside in the US.
However, while most doors have closed, I choose to create opportunities for myself by launching my own online content publishing site, Mandy’s Pages, where I advertise for work and get clients to post jobs at Mandy’s Market. Not only have I been able to generate earnings this way, but have also created jobs for other writers who deserve credit too.
I guess you could say that the rejection from many places has been a good thing; It forced me to think outside the box and motivate myself to step beyond just writing. It has led me to believe in the motto that I follow at Mandy’s Pages: Uniting Writers. Encouraging Dreams.
M3: You sound like someone else I know. Since you brought up others, tell The M3 Readers how you feel about your colleagues.
AD: If you are to create a list of my colleagues, you will find that they are too many to count. Each one is important to me and has influenced my writing in their own way. They have been my worst critics; but with gentle reminders that my writing has potential and can be even better with different forms of edits, grammar usage or choice of words. It is because of many of them that I have been able to move forward with Mandy’s Pages too.
People like Adam Clark, Mike Williams, Raymond A. Kukkee, and Christina Pomoni deserve special mention for their support and encouragement.
M3: A few of my avid support system are in that bunch. Let’s talk about your books. What makes them special to you?
AD: The books I have released, Project Management for the Beginner: Part 1 and Project Management for the Beginner: Part 2, are based on both, theoretical knowledge and ten years’ exposure to retail management. There are so many aspects of working knowledge that I have translated into a series that convinces me it will be beneficial to those who are unable to pursue studies in project management, yet hold positions which demand they have a working knowledge of what project management entails.
M3: I would venture anyone in a managerial position could do with some PM training. What makes this series different from other PM how tos in the field?
AD: My books are sequential guides that take an amateur project manager through the various stages of a project. While most books on project management can be tedious, complex and fly over the top of your head, my books are broken down into simple, everyday scenarios that revolve around a project. Both my books, and the ones to follow in this series, are intended for amateur project managers and students of project management.
M3: Sounds like newbie advice. Any for the budding authors in the audience?
AD: I always tell newbies that I was once in their shoes. I made a whole lot of mistakes. I embarrassed myself with what or how I wrote and there used to be way too many typos and errors in my work. But if you have a dream, keep at it … and take one step at a time. This way there is no limit to what you can achieve.
Take advice in the right spirit for which it is intended. Criticism can be the very thing that can change your writing from good to brilliant. If you are a newbie and are searching for opportunities that pay, (little as it may be), then drop in a line at Mandy’s Pages or at my email address. I try my best to encourage and support passionate writers.
M3: Always good advice. Editors are readers, too. How rigorous is it to bring out one book directly after the other in a series?
AD: I have never known the amount of work that a book involves until I started my own. When I put my mind to creating my books, I could think of nothing else for over a month; literally eating, sleeping and dreaming project management. And now that they are out, I have very little idea how to go about marketing them, always being aware that I can be taken for a ride the expensive way.
M3: The advantage of single releases is the time to prime the audience for the second book. How important is your personal marketing plan, considering the alternative?
AD: I know that I have to put in a great deal of marketing effort for my books, which incidentally is non-existent at the moment. There have been far too many distractions; the major being travel during the past couple of months, which coincides with the time I released my books.
M3: Oh, but you had such a lovely time! Tell us what your long term goals are.
AD: As of now, my literary works have been published in Painted My Way and On Awakening, both anthologies of poems by APC Fine Arts & Graphics Gallery, Torrance, California. Within a year, my next project should be complete, where I co-author ‘Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants’; a project by ABC-Clio, California. Both my books on Project Management for the Beginner are an effort to learn about self-publishing a book.
Hopefully, the next set of books in this series, as well as the children’s books that I plan to complete, will be of better quality in terms of writing and presentation. Over the years, I hope to start a publishing company of my own – for the publishing of books of various formats and with benefits from both traditional and self publishers. While these are just dreams, my writing will always be a part of who I am, regardless of achievement or steps away from the publishing arena.
M3: I think you will have a good business model to follow when the time comes. So, tell me a secret you might appreciate hitting the editing floor.
AD: (Laughing) That I am a procrastinator and claim the title of Queen of Procrastinators… and that I talk to imaginary animated characters in my sleep. (Grins wide).
M3: You say that like you are the only one! (Laughs) Tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why they need to buy your books, Mandy.
AD: If you want to be a success at managing projects, then you need my books.
M3: Which is why I know you will be a success. You will have to meet me back here when the next one is out.
Darling M3 Readers,
Take a scroll over to get to know Mandy at her website. You can reach her books by clicking on their pictures in this interview. You can connect with her Facebook. Keep up with the news of upcoming books there.
Thank you for your continual support of the talented authors of the M3 Coffee Shoppe.
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(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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