I recently met and enjoyed visiting with Idaho author Jane Freund, a prolific writer and local publisher. Jane wrote the book, Eggshells and Elephants that I am reviewing this month and so I thought sitting down with her and getting to know a little more about her was in order.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Idaho Falls and spent half my life either there or in Moscow, where I went to college the first time. The other half of my life I have lived in the Treasure Valley and went to college again. I am not married (that I am aware of) and all my children have four legs and either bark or meow. I am so blessed to get up each and every day and pursue my passion of writing both as an author and publisher. In addition, I get to ask questions, find answers, and write about the journey and the outcome. Finally, I beat thyroid cancer which makes each and every day even more precious.
2. I understand your original life goal was to be a pink elephant trainer. Sadly that did not come to fruition, at least I don’t believe it did, so what journey did you take to where you are career-wise today? I have had quite a varied journey and you’re correct that I have NOT been a pink elephant trainer. I have worked on the original staff of Community House, served as University of Idaho student body president, run the Boise (Y)WCA Career Center, worked in politics, taught communication at Boise State University, and run computers for a CPA firm. I have done other things but you only have so much space. In 2006, both my parents and two siblings had major health issues and Dad died. I learned how quickly life could change or end and I didn’t want to get to the end with regrets. So with the help of a life coach, I formed and executed a plan to leave teaching at BSU and to write and to publish full-time. I did so in December 2007 and formed Freundship Press LLC.
3. We older readers remember the Hansen family in Idaho politics. As a member of that family, how was it an influence in your maturing?
Yup, guilty as charged. My mother, Mary Freund, was the sole sister to the five Hansen brothers (Farrel, Orval, Norman, Reed and John) and for that she should get some kind of award. Seriously though, I learned some terrific lessons through my growing up in the Hansen family:
- A prominent family name can open doors but you’re on your own once you go through them
- From an early age, I learned how to spot a person who “sucks up."
- I discovered a love for the diversity of Idahoans and our cities and towns starting from the age of 5 when my Uncle Orval first ran for Congress
Also, I learned a lot from the non-political members of the Hansen family:
I learned to think outside of the box particularly from my Uncle Farrel, who was a surgeon who helped develop the poison control and paramedic programs in Idaho. Two family members in particular taught me how to pursue a seemingly non-traditional career like writing. My Aunts June and Marilyn are a DC stage actress and Idaho artist respectively and still are honing their crafts in their 80s. Finally, much credit is due to my parents, Mary and George Freund, as they taught me that community service is a duty not an option. Mom lived through the Depression and Dad escaped the Holocaust. The most telling example of that is when they discovered that the grandparents who raised Dad and sent him to America were murdered at Auschwitz. Mom and Dad created the Alois and Marie Goldmann Scholarship in their memory. Incidentally, the Goldmanns helped me understand the true meaning of sacrifice as when they sent Dad to America, they did so knowing that the would never see him (their only living descendant) ever again. I can’t even imagine!
4. You are very involved in the local writing scene. I know you have begun or been a part of the inception of various writing entities. Tell us about them. When I began pursuing writing as a career, I found that existing groups were focused on the craft of writing as opposed to the business of publishing. So, I decided to start a group that emphasizes publishing. That group is the Pixie Chicks Writers’ Group and came about from a publishing workshop I taught. The five of us in the session were all women and we wanted to keep meeting. Since we all had pixie haircuts as girls, we decided to name ourselves the Pixie Chicks. Our group has grown significantly and we have published two “Eclectic Collage” books with two more to come out this year. Then since some men approached me about wanting to learn how to publish, we formed the co-ed Writing Until I Get It Right group. Like the Pixie Chicks, this group meets monthly. Also later this year, the WUIGIR group will have their first volume of work published. In mid 2012, my friend Wynette Mellen and I discussed an idea for an authors and authors-to-be group that would focus on the marketing of books. So, we formed the Idaho Authors’ Community which is dedicated to bringing together Idaho readers and authors. In addition to three book sales in the last part of last year, we have our own Etsy store, website, Pinterest page and Facebook presence (with more to come). In 2013, we will hold book sales in all 44 Idaho counties.
5. Why did you not choose traditional publishers to release your books? I actually had a contract from a traditional publisher when author, Susan Stacy, interviewed my parents for a book on the INEL where Mom and Dad both worked. They suggested Susan connect with me which she did and became a mentor to me. Susan advised that with my marketing and related skills that I should consider forming my own publishing company. In addition, a publisher had told me that “we are not so concerned about your ability to write as we can edit your work. We want to know that you can market.” I like the ability to produce books more quickly than having somebody else publish the work. So after much prayer and thought, I formed Freundship Press LLC with the idea of transitioning from a self-publisher to a traditional publisher of other authors as well. That goal has been reached as we have published several other authors and will continue to do so.
6. Who encourages you in your writing? God – First and foremost, God, who blessed me with my writing talent. I strive each and every day to make the best use of those and the related gifts which He gave me. Stacia Mers – This amazing 3rd grader beat brain cancer and wrote and illustrated a children’s book on her journey. When she finished the book two weeks early and I expressed amazement, she told me: “Well when you have a book to do and you’re tired of doing the book, you just have to get the book done!”
Paul Freund – My brother Paul and I have been mistaken for twins (which makes him groan as he’s four years younger than me). Several years ago, Paul’s life forever changed when he had a benign brain tumor and stroke. His continuing courage inspires me to pursue my dreams. Debbie Street Compton – One of the original Pixie Chicks, Debbie died before she got her book finished. I write and encourage others in her memory.
7. What books do you have in the works? “Grace is the Space Between Expectations and Reality and Other Lessons Cancer has Taught me” is my follow-up to “Eggshells and Elephants” and focuses more on my faith and walk with the Lord. “Best Friend/Worst Enemy – Overcoming Self-Sabotage in Your Life” is based on a workshop I teach and is filled with practical tips on minimizing the self-sabotage hurdle in our lives. These first two are close to being done but the third one is not as far along. “Wily Riley the Coyote Conqueror” is a children’s book telling the true story of Riley, my friends’ five pound Yorkie who escaped a coyote in March 2012. I don’t know for sure how Riley escaped but am going to get my friends’ three-year-old son to help me write that part. The beauty of the e-book format is that I can also turn an idea into a book pretty quickly. Two of my Kindle bestsellers are about QuickBooks and succeeding in college and both came from a spark of an idea. So, I expect to be writing more books throughout the year!
8. When you’re not writing, what will we find you doing? Reading to learn more, teaching workshops to practice applying what I know, mentoring and book coaching to pass on my passion and blessings, teaching Sunday school to see the world from a child’s perspective and reenergizing by having good conversation and quiet time.
9. Is there a reason you chose to write non-fiction over fiction? I write dialogue that reads like machine-gun fire which is why I don’t write as much fiction. However, I am simmering on a few terrific fiction ideas and will spread my wings into that genre in the next couple of years. I want to challenge myself to try things I haven’t before so who knows. You are likely to see a play, screenplay, or even some song lyrics flow from Freund.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Stop aspiring and get published! Furthermore, don’t sit around and wait to get an agent as you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. The publishing world has changed and continues to change. With Print-On-Demand self-publishing options, you can get your own work into print, electronic, audio and even visual format for less money than you think. When I say self-publish, I don’t mean unethical vanity or co-publishers who charge you an arm and a leg to produce your books. Because if you do so then you will need that arm and leg to help haul around the boxes of books you can’t sell because your book is overpriced, questionable quality, or some combination of the two.
But regardless, don’t give up pursuing your passion!