Since becoming more active on LinkedIn, I’ve met so many amazing people. From fellow authors, business owners, coaches and artists to charity organisations and jewellery makers. The platform never fails to supply a never-ending stream of great connections. One such lovely lady is my guest today. I was hooked on Beth Anne Campbell’s posts within days of joining LI and love her approach and content.
It was an easy task to stalk her until she agreed to join me for an interview!!
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I published my first book—Where The Hell Is My Bacon?—in 2020, and I am…well, let’s just say I’m well into the “Over-40 Glory Years.” So don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are too old!
Even though this is my first major publication, I’ve been writing since I can remember. I wrote my first poem when I was about 8 years old and somewhere I still have it, tucked in a closet in a dusty box (thank my mother, who threw away nothing!).
Over the years I handwrote many poems and short stories and even an occasional song, but nothing longer than a few pages.
My writing bug really exploded back in the early 90s when I discovered an old Apple IIe computer (now I’m dating myself!). From then on, I have embraced the power of the computer and the speed of typing. That old Apple was life changing!
The other thing that happened during this same period, was that I started to identify things to write about as I was experiencing them. I would be in the moment of some event and think, “I should write about this.”
Since then, I’ve been pecking away at short stories, blogs, my first published book, another novel (that will be done in 2021), more poems, some really awesome emails (hey, why not?), and even a bit of erotica here and there.
Writing is like an old friend; we can be apart for a long while but when we start up again it’s like no time has passed, and we fall right back into the groove.
When I’m not writing, I host a podcast called Café Grit, which is real talk about finding purpose and fulfilment, and calling out the bullsh*t of life and career.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
My early days on the Apple IIe computer produced three partial novels. One of them—with the super-original (not) working title of The Farmhouse Story—is nearly completed. It’s on my bucket list to pull that and the other two out and give them another go one day.
Where The Hell Is My Bacon? is the first book I have published. But not the last!
What genre is it, and what is it about?
WTHIMBacon? is business humour with a secret bacon recipe section at the end. I like to think of it as a polygamous marriage between bacon, business, and sarcastic humour.
WTHIMBacon? is the true story of how bacon helped a stressed-out technology department overcome bad leadership and find their mojo again. I lived this story and raised my fist along with my co-workers to fight the establishment.
My innocent IT brothers and sisters and I were in the middle of outsourcing our work to an offshore team. We were also dealing with a new and untrusted management team, and a big department reorganization that was confusing and chaotic. It was the most stressful time I ever experienced in all my 16 years with the company. People were in tears fearing for their jobs, and morale was at an all-time low.
In the midst of all this turmoil, a company vice president had the “brilliant” idea that we all needed to eat healthier, which resulted in bacon being removed from the cafeteria salad bar. I know! Can you even imagine? The only way most people can choke down nasty green vegetables is with bacon and cheese!
It was the final blow after months of bad decisions, horrible communication, and utter chaos.
So, when one of my bacon-loving co-workers posted a sad lament on the company social media, I jumped on it. It was a lot of bacon jokes at first. But then the anger started to come out. The people were tired of yet another directive that came down without their choice or input.
Turns out, it wasn’t really just about bacon. Employees felt powerless to speak out about bad leadership, lack of trust, and the outsourcing…but they COULD speak out about bacon. Did they triumph? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Although it contains a lot of humour (and curse words, fair warning!), WTHIMBacon? also contains important and timely lessons about trust, communication, change management, and employee engagement. It is a story told by the people, for the people.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
Without a doubt, I was inspired to write WTHIMBacon? by the people who lived this tale alongside me.
I was a manager during the time the story took place. I saw the anger rise in my co-workers, my work family, my friends. I knew—from the first moment I saw my co-worker’s social media post mourning the loss of bacon—that this was going to be big. My teammates needed some levity, but more importantly, they needed something to focus on that they didn’t feel powerless over.
They couldn’t control the stress, the fear, the bad decisions, the low morale, the bad leadership…but they could control bacon. They so desperately wanted to speak out about what was going on around them at that time. But they couldn’t, for fear of repercussions. Those who did speak out were not heard or told to support the cause or else.
I am passionate about leadership, communication, employee engagement, and trust. I have a voice and I’m not afraid to use it, so that is why I wrote this book. Their story needed to be told, and I knew I could tell it.
Since the book came out, dozens of people have reached out publicly and privately and revealed that they are, or were, living a similar story. They are tired of it. They want something more, whether to make their current job better or to move onto something new.
This. This is what drives me. If I can use my voice and my courage to help others find theirs—whatever that voice may be and whatever it may be calling—then I’m going to try.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Write. Just write.
For many aspiring authors, the hardest part is just getting words written. So, my #1 advice is “just write.”
One of my favourite quotes is from author Jodi Picoult: “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
A lot of people wait to be inspired, but inspiration is a fickle beast. It comes and goes like rain, sometimes lingering steadily for eons, but more often coming in a quick, heavy shower and then drying out again. I waited for inspiration for years while writing WTHIMBacon?
It will come, I thought. But it didn’t come, not often, and I got frustrated.
Then I learned about the power of discipline and using a timer from actress Lauren Graham in her book “Talking as Fast as I Can.” She suffered from writer’s block and lack of inspiration but found if she disciplined her writing with a timer, the words would come. And they did come…consistently.
I tried this and it worked. What a life saver! Someone cue the heavenly angel music, that’s how much of an epiphany the timer was for me.
So, if you are suffering from lack of flowing creative juices, stop waiting for your mental muse and turn to discipline. Every day, set a timer and write. Anything. Write a journal, write a social media blog, write your novel, write a poem. Get into a habit. Turn on your timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, some reasonable amount of time during which you can focus.
And while that timer is running, you just write. No social media distractions, no conversations with the spouse or kids, no researching stuff for your book, and no editing. Just get the words on paper, whatever “paper” is for you.
It really works.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
Wow, I don’t know if I can pick one thing I love most.
I love creating something that makes people laugh or cry or feel something. If I can invoke an emotional response, then I am over the moon.
There is a paragraph in WTHIMBacon? where I describe my…erm…lack of intestinal fortitude with certain types of coffee. It still makes me laugh and just thinking that someone else might find it funny makes my heart sing.
Writing is also very meditative for me. There are few things I do that can turn off my raging mind. I have a very difficult time being in the moment, being mindful, and shutting off the inner thoughts (I have at least four distinct voices in my head, and they ALL have an opinion!).
But when I write, especially when I have focus (love that timer!), I am in a better, quieter place. Even if I’m not working on the next best-selling novel, just putting words on paper makes me feel like I’m leaving a part of myself for the world. And that I find very soothing.
List three interesting facts about yourself
- I was a paranormal investigator for 10 years (I could write a book or four…maybe I will!). Lots of fun, lots of work, and much more psychological than paranormal. Fear is a very powerful thing.
- I host a podcast called Café Grit, which is all about finding your inner grit, following your purpose, releasing your inner moxie, and not putting up with the bullsh*t of the world.
- I am a pretty good seamstress. I learned how to sew when I was around 8, using an old treadle sewing machine that belonged to my great-grandmother. Over the years I’ve made lots of clothes, crafts, Renaissance costumes for the nieces and nephews, and I even sewed my own wedding dress (we had a costume wedding, I was the Queen of Hearts).
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
My least favourite part of the writing process is planning. But I need to do it! I will suffer if I don’t plan, but why is it so arduous?
My least favourite part of publishing is publishers. For my first book I chose to use a publisher (small one, and I paid for it). I would not do it again, in fact I’m in the process of trying to get out of that commitment.
I got almost nothing other than printing services out of that “deal.” The editing was almost non-existent, the copy amateurish (bordering on bad), and the marketing went into some void…probably where everyone’s missing socks from the dryer go.
My advice is, unless you can have a major publisher pick you up, go the self-publishing route. I will be doing that for my next round. I’ve met so many people with mad skills in book design, editing, marketing, etc. and I know I’ll get much more out of paying them than an assembly line company.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Eat more bacon!
Seriously though, the best thing people can do is read it and give honest feedback. If you like it, share or tell your friends. If you don’t like it, let me know why. I’m always looking for ways to improve and for diverse perspectives. Reviews on Amazon or Goodreads are always appreciated!
And tag me on social media for any bacon fun! I’m always on the lookout for recipes, memes, jokes about fried pork.
What is your next project?
Right now, I’m working on my first full novel. It’s called Aunt Frannie and the She-Shed Itch, a modern tale loosely based on my own mother’s death from cancer. I’ve incorporated a lot of my childhood stories, and some of the characters are based on my siblings. Who are, by the way, all totally hilarious and gobs of fun.
AFATS-SItch is about Frannie Gurpka, woman dying of cancer who has two final wishes: to have a beautiful garden shed reminiscent of the one her mother had when Frannie was a young child; and to see her oldest nephew Boone and his best friend Valerie finally admit their love for each other. Will she succeed before her time is up?
After AFATS-SItch is completed, I’m going to be working on a couple of children’s books about bacon. What could be better than that?
Bacon bits. An untimely health directive. Frazzled technology departments. These may not sound like the makings of a company-wide protest, but, when mixed together with a dash of humor and a pinch of social media, a hilarious and enlightening story begins to unfold. Unexpectedly, fried pork becomes the voice of the people and a beacon of change.
Where The Hell Is My Bacon? is the true story of how bacon mastered change management and employee engagement in a modern-day corporate culture and helped an entire department find its mojo again. It is a polygamous marriage between bacon, business, and humor with timely messages about overcoming poor management.
The removal of bacon bits from the company cafeteria salad bar—courtesy of an executive health mandate—could not have come at a worse time. The IT department was in the middle of a demanding transition of their day-to-day work to an offshore team. People feared for their jobs, confidence in management was nil, communication abysmal, and morale was at an all-time low. So, when the health decree came down and bacon disappeared from the cafeteria, it was the final blow.
Following a single social media post lamenting the loss of their beloved pork, the voice of the department exploded. The masses had suffered enough, and they revolted in a grand, food-centric protest.
It was a sad day for bacon but a triumphant moment for the people, who brought to light important lessons about good leadership, employee engagement, communication, and trust.
Connect with Beth here: