Dreams Coming True is a new Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a native Californian married to Brian, my best friend of twenty-four years. Together we raised five children in our blended family. We also have five pet ducks. I love spending time with friends and family, traveling, gardening, photography, writing, and having new adventures. I went back to school as an older adult and graduated with a dual degree in leadership and theology. I am very active in my community. My favorite thing in life is kindness. I love when people are genuinely kind. And I’m a snack-a-holic.
When did your creative dream begin?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a professional journalist, but life’s circumstances demanded I follow a different path. I wrote during those years—a partial novel, songs, poems, stories—keeping most of it to myself. It wasn’t until early 2007 things really changed and the idea of writing resurfaced. My real estate career plummeted during the crash. It was time to reinvent myself. I had waited a lifetime to write. I thought, “If not now, when?” And then quiet little doors began to eek open.
In 2008 I applied to the Examiner online as the National Women’s Ministry Writer. As I developed my column, I found many women were interested in Christian authors, so I created Inside the Writer’s Life as a part of my column. I began interviewing authors and sharing their writing journeys with readers. I had the opportunity to cover the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference and met many great Christian Writers. As a matter of fact, it was during that time I met Suzanne at a book signing. I think she was one of the first authors I interviewed for the Examiner.
I was also a photographer, and it became a natural fit for my journalistic writing. As time rolled on, I began taking on clients who requested individual photography services. Suzanne was one of those clients as well. The photography and writing morphed into PGS Studio Creative Services.
How did your book, My Ocean, get started?
Through the process of writing everything from press releases, website content, to articles, I also began a creative project. I started focusing on coastal photography in order to create a coffee table book. At the same time I joined a local artist group and began showing and selling my ocean art photography.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
My Ocean is a photographic journal more than a typical coffee table book. I invite readers to come with me on a thirty-day journey exploring the Pacific Coast from San Diego, California, up to Vancouver, BC. It’s not a linear journey like a travel book, however. Instead, each of the thirty days looks at different elements of the coast: waves, sand, rocks, boats, harbors, etc. Most days I offer a bit of inspiration or wisdom tied in with the focus of the day. It makes it more of a spiritual journey.
What are the goals and intentions of My Ocean?
I wanted to draw attention to details—small things like the sound of birds, the patterns in sand and rocks, and the variety of creatures along the coast. I also wanted readers to have a sense of ownership (hence the name My Ocean) and take stewardship to heart. And finally I hoped to inspire readers to connect to our creator and gain wisdom through observation of his creation.
How does your project create community?
My Ocean is a shared experience. In the introduction I invite readers to come with me on this journey. Their purchase also helps fund ocean research and preservation. I donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Center and National Geographic. Together we can enjoy and protect this wonderful resource.
Many have creative ideas but have trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
I think one of the great enemies is discouragement. Having cheerleaders helps. Brian has the gift of encouragement and is my greatest cheerleader. Having someone believe in you and what you’re doing can make all the difference. He also kept me focused on the publishing goal.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from?
The idea of creating books came from my lifetime desire to write and Brian’s background in printing and graphics. Brian is also an artist so we brainstorm about creative projects all the time. Coffee table books seemed a natural fit for our talents. My Ocean is the culmination of taking one of those ideas and seeing it become reality.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
I knew that marketing was going to be the biggest challenge with My Ocean, especially since it is so large at 314 pages and $79 retail. Not expensive by coffee table book standards maybe, but more than some are willing to pay for a book.
What have you learned?
Take as much help getting the word out as people will offer. Marketing is a beast. If you don’t like marketing, hire a publicist and agent. I have a strong background in sales and marketing, so it isn’t as hard for me as it could have been.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
The best surprise has been my readers’ reactions. So far, everyone who bought the book locally has fallen in love with it. That makes me so happy. It brings tears to my eyes!
What are some ways you promote your project?
I share it with everyone I can. It is really hard to self-promote. At the same time, I knew going into this it was a necessary part of the process. I have mailers, use social media, take speaking engagements, have giveaways, go to stores, speak to buyers, etc.
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
So far it has gone better than I expected. I spent the majority of my life selling and promoting others’ products. I went into this fully aware that marketing would be the greatest challenge. There are many amazing writers out there who get discouraged because they didn’t know how to market. In the future, however, I would love to have a publicist and an agent. There comes a point when one person can only do so much. I would love to have someone else promote my work so I can focus on more of the creative aspects.
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?
Yes! I would have started promoting it much further in advance than I did. I would also have had all my marketing material ready to go way in advance.
What social network has worked best for you?
I like Facebook. I invite people to be my friend on my personal page. I know most of the marketing gurus advise against that. I just don’t want to spend too much time right now building another page. I actually get to know most of my FB friends. I like that. My readers also get to know the real me that way. I also use Linkedin. I have a lot of business contacts through PGS Studio on this site. Pinterest is crazy fun too, but I have to be careful not to get lost pinning for hours. The food pictures are the best! I gain weight every time I go on Pinterest.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
Ask yourself the question I did: “If not now, when?” And then mark that “when” on a calendar. God has a way of making things happen when you least expect it. Mine was in the middle of a meltdown in mid-life (assuming I live to be one hundred, of course).
Your “when” may come sooner than you think. Or it may turn into something unexpected. Just have faith that God knows what he’s doing with the messes we make of our lives—even when we think we are doing all the “right” things—he may have other ideas for you. Regardless, live inspired. Live by faith and let go of fear.
Where do you see this project in five years?
My Ocean is a timeless inspirational gift book. It will never go out of style, thankfully. Five years from now—or twenty-five—I hope it will still grace coffee tables and offices around the world. However long it lives, I pray it glorifies God in some small way and truly blesses my readers. That’s the eternal stuff right?
I have two more photography books underway. I also have some ideas for a novel series churning in my head. For now, my main focus is My Ocean. And, can I just say, it makes me smile to know that I get to share the things I love with so many other people. I hope each of my readers feels as blessed as I do! I am so humbled and appreciative to have this opportunity to live my dream.
How can we find My Ocean?
My Ocean is available directly from 920 Publishing at 920Publishing.net and Amazon, or ask for it at any local bookstore. If they don’t currently have it in stock, they can order it for you. And just for all of Suzanne’s readers, if you would like to purchase a signed copy, email me directly at PGSstudioMail@gmail.com. Please feel free to email me or visit my website at PGSstudio.com. You can also send a friend request to me on Facebook.
And one lucky reader is going to win a signed copy of My Ocean and two readers will win a 8×10 My Ocean art print signed, matted, and ready to frame! Just leave a comment! Winner will be announced next week on the Dreams Coming True post!
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What an inspired concept for your book – I took a ‘peek inside’ and the photography is beautiful. I’ve never been to the west coast but would love to someday.
Thank you Theresa. One of the things I thought about as I created the book was readers, like yourself, that had never been to the West Coast. What would they like to see? I hope anyone reading the book will feel they made it to the Pacific as an armchair explorer until they can come out here someday!
This is a great interview. So informative! I love anything to do with pictures and photography. There is beauty that surrounds us every single day if we will take the time to recognize it. God has richly blessed us with his amazing creations. And I always appreciate the fact that we see this beauty in color. Thank you for this post.
Melanie- I couldn’t agree more! Creation is God in action. Thank you for reading my story.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
I love coffee table books. It would be nice to have one! Would love to win this giveaway. And I too, am a snack-a-holic! I just never knew the proper name for it!
Yay another snack-a-holic. You and I will coin the phrase! Just watch out for Pinterest; it’s lethal for people like us!
love books of photos for the coffee table; excited that you have 2 in the works. please enter me for this draw for your awesome work.
Awesome Robyn! You’re name is in the contest! Thanks for reading my story.
Enjoyed the wonderful interview. Love her dream. Would love to win. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the giveaway. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Thank you!!
Thank you Barbara. Your name is entered. Thank you for reading my story too!
What a beautiful book! Would love to win it! Please enter me..thank you!
Thanks so much Carmee! You are entered!
Thank you for the chance! l love anything to do with the Ocean/Sea life!
Thank you for sharing Tracy! I’m an ocean lover too!
I love the west coast! I hope to get back there again someday…
Not a day goes by that I am amazed at the beauty out here. When my husband and I talk about where to vacation and then we stop to think we are only a few hours from Cambria, Big Sur, Carmel, Pacific Grove Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, the redwoods…we live in a perpetual vacation world!
Thanks for stopping by Elaine.
The book sounds great. I would love to win either the book or the art print, thanks.
Thank you Jean for sharing with me!
Wow! That looks beautiful. Would love to win the copy or the photo! 😀
Thank you Janae! You are automatically entered just for commenting! Thank you for sharing my story.
Your photography is gorgeous! I love looking into God’s beautiful world through the photography of others .
That makes my heart smile!! That is one of my hopes with my photography; to share God’s beautiful world! thank you for your sharing with me!
Laura ~ such an amazing gift to all of us. . I too have a beach story that needs to be told and am now inspired to do just that ~ thank you so much for your gift to of having the details of the beach within reach! Susan
Susan- I would love to hear your beach story! email me 🙂 I am delighted beyond words how so many readers feel the way you do. I hope it inspires many more!
I’d love to learn more about the Pacific Coast, in advance of a trip I hope to take there (someday).
K.- the journey is very visual with some descriptions of tide pools, jellyfish, sea anemones, and other Pacific Coast wonders. I hope you get to see it in person someday. if you ever plan a trip out email me and I can make some suggestions 🙂
What a lovely book! I just love the ocean and when combining it with the inspirational words it makes it that much more special. thank you Laura
Thank you Candie! It makes me happy to share what is in my heart, hoping it will resonate with others.
This sounds like a beautiful book! I have never seen the ocean…
it’s on my “bucket list” but….
Ms. Barb it is the best place on earth. OK I may be prejudice a teeny bit. I do hope you can fulfill your bucket list wish!
Sounds like a wonderful book! Thank you for the chance to win it!
Virginia- thank you for sharing my story. Good luck in the contest!
The photography is impressive and beautiful. What a wonderful book. Many thanks for this lovely feature and chance.
Thanks for sharing my story Sharon and your kind comments. Good luck with the contest!
WOW! Your book looks amazing! I love being at the ocean and seeing God’s incredible creation and power.
Thank you so much Vicky! I can’t think of a better place to be. In one of the chapters I used the different characteristics of the ocean as a way to show how our creator has similar displays of his awesomeness. If you get the book you will have to let me know what you think!
Thanks for a chance to win 🙂
Absolutely Michelle! Thank you for stopping by!
Suzanne, what a nice addition to Thursdays! Laura, your book sounds enchanting, and I enjoyed hearing about how you got into writing and photography.
Thank you Molly. It has been an amazing journey! And very grateful to Suzanne for this opportunity to share it.
Fabulous looking book! Would love to win!!
Thank you Kathy! Good luck in the contest!
I would love to have a copy of the MY OCEAN book to enjoy. I’m glad the the author took her opportunity to reinvent herself. She didn’t give up. She found a new direction for her talents.
Kaye, me too! It is hard to go through the reinvention process. The outcome was well worth it though! And I just discovered that Amazon has the book on sale for $58.95!! Thank you Amazon! Good luck in the contest.
What a beautiful book! I love anything to do with the ocean and would love to win this book. Thanks for the chance! :0)
Terry, thank you for your kind comment! Good luck in the contest!
I love the concept of this book. I love the ocean and sandy beaches. The pictures in your book are beautiful. I truly enjoy reading all of your books.
Thank you June for your lovely comment. It was so much fun making it! And thank you for being a new fan as well 🙂
This would definitely be a conversation piece to add to my coffee table. What better way to incorporate Gods love and inspiration than through photography of his glorious Ocean view.
Oh I love how you stated that Joannah. I may have to share that with others if you don’t mind! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Oh the ocean! So soothing. So healing! So beautiful! Your book is gorgeous! Would so love to own a copy from you.
Mary, I agree. The ocean is just such an amazing experience of all of God’s attributes. Good luck in the contest! Thank you for stopping by!
I love the ocean ! It is the place I feel closest to God! I would love this book.
Lynne- me too! I guess that is one of the reasons I love being there. I can just sit for hours and soak up the beauty. In one chapter I describe how I decided the day was going to be totally focused on the present. No agenda, phones, or distractions. I wanted to connect with God in a way that felt very real and in the moment. It is a wonderful experience!
I enjoy photography as well. I’ve never had an opportunity to photograph the ocean though (I think the biggest body of water I’ve seen is Lake Michigan once or twice). How did you find a local artist group and start selling your photography?
Rachel- First, thanks so much for joining us today! Lake Michigan is beautiful (at least in the photos I’ve seen. I have never been there so it’s great that we can travel virtually!)
I went to a coffee shop where they had local art and asked how the artists arranged to hang their work. The owner pointed me in the art group’s direction. Today I am the group president! If you search online for art groups in your home region you may find them there. If you see art for sale in a local business, that may be a clue as it was for me. I would encourage you to find one. It is a great resource for artists!
I would love to win this. I’ve visited Monterey two or three times and it is beautiful. Also, San Francisco and above and below it along the coastal drive. Just beautiful. So different from our coastal area here in North Carolina. Again, I would love to win this.
Vera, that is so neat that you have been able to visit out here. I have been in your neck of the woods on a few occasions and it is lovely coastline. Very unique and tropical looking. Thank you for sharing my story today! Good luck in the contest.
This book sounds very interesting! I can’t wait to read it!
Angie, please email me once you’ve read it and let me know what your favorite part was!
MY OCEAN sounds like a wonderful, inspirational book! Wishing you much success with this project and other future endeavors. Thank you for sharing and for the opportunity to win!
Britney- Thank you for sharing with me too! I appreciate you stopping by and encouraging me in my future projects. Good luck in the contest!
would love to have this wonderful book. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the contest.
Rachel- my pleasure! Thank you and good luck in the contest!
A very nice interview about a great author/photographer and a great book!
kathy- oh I am so honored by your kind words. Thank you so much. I hope the book blesses many people.
The ocean is the most awe inspiring place on earth! It has never made me more aware of the power of God’s creation than realizing how small I am in the universe but how through the grace of God I am mighty as the waves that crash the shore. How blessed you are to have realized each component of the ocean has a special place in creation and how blessed we all are to share in that view from your book.
I really loved reading this interview with Laura Wrede. I feel such an inspirational account of her journey and her creativity will inspire others to take the plunge and move forward with their dreams. I love her unique photography and would really be thrilled to win a copy of her book and one of her beautiful matted photos.
Judy I am jumping up and down clapping for joy. It makes me happy that you felt inspired! Good luck in the contest!
Jackie- I really appreciate your kind words. I hope that My Ocean will be a tool that gives readers the kind of experience you described. Thank you for sharing me story with me!
I love these posts. It’s so interesting to learn about someone new. Laura’s journey is inspiring. Would love to win…thanks for the opportunity…Linda
Oh I am still jumping up and down! Linda you are welcome and thank you! Good luck in the contest!
Laura–Thanks so much for sharing about your life and your new book today! Loved your responses to the interview questions! You stirred up a lot of deep feelings about the beautiful ocean. So glad we met that day at the bookstore in San Carlos, years ago! Warmly, Suzanne
Great interview! Looks like a beautiful book to look at time and again.
Thank you Ola. I had such fun doing the interview. I hope that the book will be one of those that each time you pick it up, something new resonates with your heart.
Suzanne, it amazes me how God brings people together. It has been a pleasure to stay connected to you all these years and so exciting to watch your writing career become what it is today. I am honored to have been a guest on your blog today. If my book touches one life for a higher purpose, than the work was all worth it (although it was so much fun it is hard to call it work). Thanks again. Be blessed, Laura
I love the ocean! Seeing the words “Dreams Coming True” gave me hope. I love your story!
Natalie- I hope whatever your dream is, it will happen for you to! Thank you for sharing my story with me.
“My Ocean” reflects the feel, smell and beauty of the Pacific Coast Ocean. It tells the story of the days, weeks and years of a small girl growing into womanhood as she immerses herself into the sand, surf, salt air and the crashing waves. Looking for seashells along the shore line, squishing the sand around and through her feet and toes, and running up to a flock of seagulls, all the while watching as they squack and fly away. Oh to be young again, and relive the times spent with the family at the Pacific Coast. This is the picture which comes alive to the reader through words and photographs in “My Ocean”, by Laura Wrede.
Wow Claudette that was simply beautiful! I hope many readers come away with such vivid pictures of what it is like spending time at the beach. I am thankful for the memories of those early family times. They last forever. Thank you for that wonderful description!
Laura, I very much appreciated the interview with you and how you expressed your heart.
Steve our son has just expressed possibly putting together a book with his photography and poems that he has written over the years so I will share your interview with him.
As I expressed before, I would love to have your book but definitely would like a signed copy…smile…I would appreciate being entered in the contest and if I don’t win it, then I will proceed with purchasing it.
Gods blessing on you and your projects…
The ocean has always been my favorite place to go, of coarse being raised on the east coast, I have found beauty there so will enjoy your west coast adventure on the west coast line.
Susan- that is great about Steve maybe doing a book. Please let him know he is welcome to contact me if he wants to know anything I learned about the process. Please email me as well if you want to get your signed copy of My Ocean and I will be happy to arrange that (if you don’t win the contest). Thank you so much for sharing with me! Can’t wait to hear more about Steve’s project!
Congratulations on your book – your photos are beautiful, Laura ! Traveling & taking photos of scenery has been one of my favorite things to do – for years. And, my very favorite photos are of the ocean – from my excursions to Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, L.A. & San Francisco, the Bahamas, etc. ! I have framed the best of my photos.
I would love to have one of your books – thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
Bonnie- thank you for sharing that with me! It is so much fun to make art out of your own travels. It really makes it personal. Good luck to you in the contest!
I’ve just seen the ocean in South Carolina, the first time I saw it, it just took my breath away, God’s beautiful creation. Would love a chance to win your book
Joyce- I think South Carolina’s coast is very tropical looking. It all takes my breath away! Good luck in the contest!
Sound like a beautiful book. I have never been to the West Coast. I live in the panhandle of Florida near some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I follow several local photographers on Facebook. Would love to win your book. Thanks for the opportunity.
Joann- I went to Florida a few times in my life and it is beautiful. I remember going out to the Keys and being amazed at all the wildlife along the way. Good luck in the contest!
I have a beach house on the east coast, but I have never been fortunate enough to travel to the west coast. I would love this book to compare the two coasts. I also enjoy writing to some extent, but have never ventured into it as I am an elementary school teacher. I do hope to write a little when I retire. Your interview was very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing. Hope to win this book!
I can’t wait to read this book !!!! When you said you will describe sights and sounds, I think it is great… I have lost almost all of my hearing, and birds are the hardest to thing to go without hearing….and to see the oceans and other sights in my mind’s eye, fantastic !!! Thanks for the chance to win a great prize. Rosemary. firstname.lastname@example.org
I love that you advocate giving God complete control!
Thank you Connie. I would rather God take care of things than me! I tend to mess them up 🙂
I would LOVE to win this book! It looks fantastic!
Thank you Megan! Good luck in the contest!
What a beautiful book. I would love to win it for my 16 year friend that was in a car accident on Thursday Sept. 5th. I am going to ask my husband to get me a copy for my birthday. Susan
Oh Susan I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I will be praying for them. I hope you have a beautiful birthday!! Thanks you so much for sharing with me.
I’ve seen the book and it is absolutely beautiful! I want to thank you for reminding us how lovely our surrounds are and keeping us aware of how much we need to protect it’s beauty!
Jackie- you are so welcome. It makes me so happy to know that the book impacts lives. We really are blessed with a beautiful world and it’s important to be good stewards.
Living in the midwest but a sand-surf-and-all-things-ocean girl (because I was raised near the ocean) love the premise of this book and would enjoy having that as a constant reminder of that part of my life…sounds delightful!
Once you’ve lived there it is hard to be without it. I hope if you get the book it fulfills a bit of that for you 🙂
The Pacific coast is beautiful. I go there when I need to find myself.
Jennifer- I go there in search of many things. I usually come away with discovery!
What a beautiful book! I live in the Midwest but I love the ocean from the few vacations I’ve had there. The view and the beach never cease to help me relax. I put this book on my wish list as it would be like a little vacation when I long for time at the beach. I also journal so I like that it is part journal.
Monica- Thank you so much! I wanted to add an external journal to My Ocean to encourage readers to journal with each day. That wasn’t feasible so I hope that readers will just take their current journal and write in that!
I love books like this! Photography has always been a favorite hobby of mine. It’s amazing to see the angles, colors and beautiful memories that can be captured with the click of a button!
Tracy- keep taking those pictures! It is always amazing!
I would love to win this beautiful book!
Stacey thank you for sharing my story!
Thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom in the interview – very encouraging! The book looks amazing and your approach to including the small bits like the birds singing adds depth to the experience. Congratulations on reinventing yourself and creating your own art!
Thank you Amanda. I hope it blesses you!
I visited Southern California many years ago, but did not get to spend any time at the beach, nor even see the ocean. This book would be a wonderful addition to my coffee table should I be fortunate enough to win it.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Oh that is too sad to go all the way there and not see the ocean. So close! I hope you find My Ocean as a way to have a little peek until you can get back some day.
What fun…count me in. I would love to win!
Thank you Sandi for reading my story!
Sounds like a great book, it would be a intresting read. I would love to win this book.
Thank you Jennifer for taking time to stop by!
Thank you for the chance to win My Ocean.
Thank you for the opportunity to win this lovely book. I LOVE photography and seeing others immense talent!! I will definitely look for this book on Amazon. Thanks
Thank you Melinda. It is always fun to meet other enthusiasts! Thanks for taking a look at My Ocean. I hope you will enjoy it!
I’m a So Cal gal, relocated to East Coast, so I would love this!
Barbara- it will be like a piece of home on your coffee table! Thank you for sharing my story and love for the ocean.
I like the idea of a photographic journal, it gives something to read other than just pictures.
Sherri- me too! I hope it is a blessing!
Please enter my name for your contest. Would love to win!! Thanks for having the contest.
Susan- thank you for stopping by to share my story!
This is my first time go to see at here and
i am truly happy to read all at alone place.