Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert

Operation Awesome Spotlight #20Questions in #2021 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6

Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert

1- How has the global pandemic impacted your travels and nomadic lifestyle?

By April 2020, campgrounds (even the free ones without amenities, which is where we always stay) and facilities started closing. My husband, dog, and I were in Florida at the time. The logistics became tricky, so we decided to abandon our lifestyle for the time being, drove to Massachusetts, and stayed at my in-laws over the spring and summer. They could use our help because of the pandemic. We ended up spending six months there, staying six feet apart and avoiding the main part of the house. Mid-October, the three of us hit the road again, heading west.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Hire a professional (copy) editor before publishing your book!

3- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Recommendations from others – fellow authors, bloggers, friends, family.

4- What was the most surprisingly delicious food that you ate while on the road?

My husband’s mushroom burgers, made from scratch, which he cooks on the stove of our 19ft campervan and serves with homemade aioli on a bed of mixed greens, served with jasmine rice. They are to die for!

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book at a fun location?

This photo was taken near Madera Canyon in Coronado National Forest, Arizona
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

6- What similarities and differences does PLUNGE have compared to Cheryl Strayed's WILD?

It’s been a long time since I read WILD… As far as I remember, both are written by a straightforward, impulsive woman who struggles with and overcomes the punches life throws her. The differences have to do with the writing style and voice of the authors. PLUNGE is written in the present tense and incorporates distinctive elements from the novel: foreshadowing, flashbacks, and suspense. Also, Strayed tried to escape from her troubles by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in her coming-of-age tale, while my decision to embark on adventures is a lifestyle.

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

My Twitter handle is @LiesbetCollaert Twitter author friends: @vallypee , @pokercubster , @sgc58

8- When did you first know you wanted to publish a book someday?

I’ve always been passionate about traveling, from the moment I hitchhiked to Italy from Belgium at age 17 to today, age 45. I’ve also always loved to write. After my first year of backpacking on my own in South East Asia when I was 25, I played with the idea of writing a book. But it wasn’t until three years later that I actually started jotting down an outline and notes about a year-long RV trip in Latin America. Nothing happened with that either, since I dove into an eight-year sailing adventure soon after. Once that one finished, I suffered from travel burn-out. The relatively stable lifestyle of house and pet sitting throughout the US for three years allowed me to finally start writing a memoir, which turned into Plunge.
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?

Probably a plantser. I’m a bit of a weirdo. In real life, I like to plan as little as possible and follow the “see what happens” approach. Yet, I am also very organized and prefer to make to-do lists and shopping lists to achieve my goals. When I wrote my memoir, part of me wanted to (and did) put “everything” down I could remember, as a first draft. On the other hand, I made a chronological outline with chapter titles as guidance. Interestingly enough, after five years of work on Plunge, those titles remained unchanged.

10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?

Whenever I have time and the logistics allow it. On the road, it is difficult to stick to a schedule as life’s distractions, problems, and chores come first. Today, for example, I planned to work on this interview in the morning. But we ran out of propane. So, in order to keep cooking meals and taking hot showers, we had to drop everything, pack up the van, and drive to the closest town 40 minutes away to take care of our needs.
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

My perfect work environment is a free, level campsite in nature, where we can spend a few days in a row, where the dog can be walked, where the solar panels soak up plentiful sunshine to provide electricity, and where my husband can be outside, so I can use our table/desk and don’t feel too cramped in our 80 square foot living quarters. 😊

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to read the last five years, what with my own writing projects, blogging, paid jobs, and life on the road. I do remember really enjoying
Author name: Hillary Custance Green @HilaryCustanceG
Title: Border Line
Love because: I love it because of its originality: the unusual premise (suicidal protagonist), unique location (Slovenia), well-developed characters, and excellent writing.
My review of Border Line:

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Intrigue, awe, understanding, reflection, zest for life.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

I really hope Plunge will inspire as well as entertain the reader. If he/she can somehow gain something from the book (on a personal or global level) or is affected by its contents (physically or psychologically), I have reached my goal as an author.

14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

Photography – I just wish I had more time for it.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Plunge is written by and is about a woman (me) who does not stick to the usual social norms and who breaks free from society by preferring a less than ordinary life. She chooses experiences over material goods, simplicity and nature over gadgets and suburbia, flexibility over routine, new horizons over the familiar, and primitive conditions over unlimited resources. Furthermore, the book is “brutally honest,” showing the good as well as the bad, without glossing over negative experiences, feelings, and personal flaws.

16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?

  1. write an outstanding book that sells itself, because readers are excited to spread the word, in person, on social media, or with reviews.
  2. add a note in your book’s back matter about the importance of reviews, encouraging readers to share their opinion about your book in a short review.
  3. gift ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) in exchange for an honest review to ferocious readers in your genre during the early stages of publication.

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

To be honest, not being able to get the attention of an agent or a publisher within one year of pitching Plunge. That being said, my gut always told me I should go the self-publishing route, because of my personality, dedication, and work ethic. I’m a perfectionist and like to make decisions myself. By self-publishing, I am right where I want to be. I can execute changes, promote as much – or little – as I want, am happy with how everything came out, and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

Make a difference in the lives of my readers. Inspire them. Entertain them. Just like in real life, I have only one major goal: have no regrets.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

What is the most important, attractive quality you look for in a book? What is it that makes you pick up and read a particular book?

I will pick one winner out of the commenters who answers my question, that person will receive a free eBook of Plunge. (I will need your email address.)

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

Blurb of Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.
Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.
Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.
Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge


Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally. Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting. Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her current adventures at

Social media links

Facebook: &
Twitter: @LiesbetCollaert
Blog URLs
Amazon Author Page

Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert


Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview with Liesbet. I'm a plantser too like Liesbet. I never heard that word before to describe how we plot or don't.

Kimberlee Turley said...

Answering your question, "What is the most important, attractive quality you look for in a book? What is it that makes you pick up and read a particular book?" I would say 70% is the cover and 30% is the back cover blurb. As someone with graphic design knowledge, I am probably more picky about things like font choice than most...

Liesbet said...

Hi Natalie! I had heard of "plotter" and "pantser," but not of "plantser." Maybe J. came up with that? Or, it's a common name for the combination of the two others... As with so many things, it's hard to pick one way or the other or to be labeled that way. :-)

Liesbet said...

Thanks for answering the question, Kimberlee! As a graphic designer, I hope you like the cover of "Plunge"! :-) Fiction covers always look so different than memoir or non-fiction ones.

tchistorygal said...

Great interview. I learned a lot more about Liesbet. She is a fun and unusual woman. I'm so glad we met. Thanks for doing the interview.

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

Great interview! I already have Plunge on my Kindle, but I'll answer your question anyway. I often start by being intrigued by the cover, then move on to the liner notes. If I'm still undecided, I read a few random pages to evaluate the writing style.

Liesbet said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Marsha! Now, we have to meet IRL in Arizona one day. :-)

Liesbet said...

Hi Janis! Thanks for answering my question. It seems like most people do judge a book by its cover. That totally makes sense to me. In my case, I have so little time for reading that I stick to books by people I know (many favors to return :-)) or to books that come recommended by people I know and respect.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Liesbet and Operation Awesome - Congratulsitons on this awesome interview. Like others, I also have a digital copy of Plunge (which I absolutely LOVED). To answer your question, it is always the writing that entices and captures me in the books that I read. No matter how interesting the story is, the writing has to be superb and authentic. And, it absolutely was both of those things in Plunge!

Liesbet said...

Hi Donna! I appreciate you hopping over here and reading this substantial interview. :-) I agree with you that the writing has to be enticing and outstanding to enjoy reading a book. The only way to anticipate that is by reading an excerpt of the book. This is why I like the “look inside” feature on Amazon. It lets you do just that. Thank you for your lovely words about Plunge as well!

Brieanna Wilkoff said...

That's an interesting question. When I first started thinking about my answer, I was thinking about what first grabs my attention - title, cover, blurb, sometimes having heard/read something good about the book. But as for what's most important in making me decide to read a book...I'd have to say it's character - when I read about a character who appeals to me and when the blurb suggests I'm going to be rooting for this person on whatever emotional journey they're about to embark on, I'm hooked.

Liesbet said...

Hello Brieanna! That’s an interesting name. :-)

Thank you for reading the interview and answering my question. I never thought about a character being the “selling point” in a book, but this totally makes sense. You only want to be invested in a book (and invest heaps of time in reading a book) when you can relate to the character or somewhat feel connected to him/her and are interested/compelled to find out about their journey. Good point!

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Great interview. I read the book and really enjoyed it!

Liesbet said...

Thank you for reading and commenting, Deb!

Nola Kathleen said...

The quality I look for is the quality of the writer/author/or the main character. In non-fiction, I read the blurb & the first few paragraphs. Is she mindfulness of self, of the lives of others, especially of life that is affected by humans; Is she caring, have love and empathy for all life, a zest and a determination for living a "do no harm" existence; can I learn more about myself and grow in spirit by giving my time to reading this book.

Oscar Smith said...

Excellent post! I hope to read some of your books soon. The pandemic did affect the travel plans of most people. But many countries are slowly opening their borders for tourism. I am planning to Celebrate Valentine's Day in Belgium with my better half since we spend most of the time in our home due to the pandemic.

Liesbet said...

Hi Nola! Interesting answer to what attracts you in a book. I wonder how easy it is to find out from a blurb or opening pages what the main character or author’s personality is like and if it fits your description. Have you been disappointed afterwards? Expecting one thing and then discovering the character was not what you anticipated?

Liesbet said...

Hi Oscar! Thanks for reading and commenting. Do you live in Belgium, or close by to be able to hop over and celebrate Valentine’s Day? I usually forget about that day - we never celebrate it - until it’s the 14th. Then, I realize this date sounds familiar and remember it’s the day of love. :-)

Let’s hope travel can resume again soon. So many countries, cultures, and businesses are suffering from the lack of income and we are all ready for a change of scenery. That being said, we have been able to cross the border into Mexico in our camper van and look forward to warmer weather and fish tacos. :-)

Andy smith said...

A traveler book is always helpful for new travelers who want to know details about their travelling. I am also planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Belgium but I have no information about it, I don’t even know how to apply for a visa and wanted to know about it. Then one of my friends helped me with an agency, the people have been very helpful to me and have also booked the best package for my travel. I am keen to visit Belgium now.

Liesbet said...

That’s great, Andy! Have a nice time in Belgium. FYI: my travel memoir Plunge is not a traveler’s book that provides details and information about places to visit. Or tips. It is a memoir describing amazing places and experiences while also giving my own thoughts, feelings, and insights about those experiences. It’s not a travel guide. It’s more introspective than that. :-)

Dr Sock said...

Hi Liesbet. Like others have mentioned, I love for authors I have previously read and enjoyed. I also choose books that have had a good review of been recommended. Title, cover, and back cover blurb are all important. But the most important thing that that determines whether I’ll buy a book is the writing. I always flip it open and read a few pages before I decide.