We welcome Alysson Bourque—a multi-faceted entrepreneur who wears many hats as an author, publicist, attorney, and teacher.

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Alysson, co-owner of Expound Publicity, a PR firm launched during the pandemic, has successfully helped over 500 authors market their books. Her firm provides comprehensive services, from publicity and customized campaigns to virtual book tours and awards submissions.

Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, Alysson was inspired by her entrepreneurial parents who owned a pharmacy. Her journey took her from considering a career in pharmacy to becoming a lawyer, and eventually finding her true calling in storytelling. Her firsthand experience with government workings during Hurricane Katrina and her passion for writing both played pivotal roles in her professional evolution.

A dedicated mom, Alysson involves her children in her literary pursuits to instill resilience and the value of hard work. Her book series, *Alley Cat*, aims to make reading fun for kids, with interactive author visits, engaging promotional materials, and a vision to become a household name in children’s literature.

Empowering Takeaways

1. **Pandemic-Fueled Entrepreneurship**: – Alysson Bourque and her partner started Expound Publicity, a PR firm for authors, during the pandemic.

2. **Diverse Services for Authors**: – Expound Publicity offers comprehensive support including customized marketing campaigns, outreach to media and bookstores, award submissions, and even virtual book tours, providing a one-stop shop for authors’ publicity needs.

3. **Empowering the Next Generation**: – Bourque shares her approach to parenting by supporting her daughter’s entrepreneurial ambitions and her son’s dream of becoming a professional golfer, emphasizing the importance of following one’s passions.

4. **Navigating the Publishing Landscape**: – Alysson has experience in various publishing routes including self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and traditional publishing. Her persistence through rejections ultimately led to securing a traditional publisher for her series.

5. **Balancing Personal and Professional Life**: – Bourque skillfully merges her family and professional life, from taking her family on business-related trips to involving her children in her writing process, teaching them resilience and hard work along the way.

Empowering Moments

05:30 Parents started in pharmacy, business grew.

12:52 Striving for uniqueness against the mainstream.

16:48 Discovering talent for writing through unexpected inspiration.

18:05 Handwritten story written in an hour.

23:00 Chose writing over law, pursued traditional publishing.

26:10 Author juggles book tour with family schedules.

27:32 Author facilitates book marketing and virtual visits.

32:39 Children pursuing careers that make them happy.

35:46 Creative repetition brings fresh excitement every time.

39:05 My superpower is being empathetic and self-evaluative.

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Transcript

Glenn Harper [00:00:00]:

Let me read a little bio here. I'd like to introduce you Alysson Bourque, an author, publicist, attorney, teacher. And way back, she was an oil wildcatter, which means drilling for oil in uncharted areas, taking risks in uncharted territories, hoping for significant discoveries in a pursuit that combines geologic knowledge, intuition, and audacity. That pretty much sums up her journey. I know you weren't a wildcatter, but I thought the name because you were in the oil gas industry, I thought was a good one.

Julie Smith [00:00:26]:

You said that, and I was like, oh, wow. This is gonna be she's been all over.

Glenn Harper [00:00:30]:

Well, oil industry is very

Alysson Bourque [00:00:31]:

bizarre. Sad. Right?

Glenn Harper [00:00:33]:

But I think that definition probably describes your journey pretty well. Wouldn't you agree?

Alysson Bourque [00:00:37]:

Yes. Quite the trapeze artist of of jobs.

Glenn Harper [00:00:41]:

Yes. Yes. Our passion today is to promotion her Alley Cat children's book series that teaches kids real life issues. And at the same time, she's a co owner of a marketing firm that focuses on authors. The inspiration that she's able to bring to the kids in the classroom is it drives her to get up every day and be her best. Thanks, Allison, for being on our

Alysson Bourque [00:00:58]:

show. Thank you so much for having me on.

Julie Smith [00:01:00]:

I feel like we have to go back because even I I don't even remember all the things that you've done. We're gonna have to really dissect that.

Glenn Harper [00:01:07]:

Oh, we'll get into those for sure. We, you know, we like to get to know our guests first a little bit, who they are as a person first, then we get into the journey and such and it's kind of fun. And then and I think you grew up in Youngsville, Louisiana. Is that true? A small town west of Baton Rouge?

Alysson Bourque [00:01:23]:

Yeah. So Youngsville, Milton, Lafayette area.

Glenn Harper [00:01:26]:

Gotcha. Is that a big big town, little town, or

Alysson Bourque [00:01:30]:

So I grew up in a small town where everybody my parents had a small pharmacy. So we I pretty much grew up in a drugstore. After school, we would come and and hang out in the pharmacy, and I remember playing, hide and seek. Okay. That's in the days where they would put drugs out in the aisles, you know, like like amoxicillin and stuff. And so, you know, just thinking about my childhood, it's like well, yeah. There was me and my 3 brothers and sisters, saying, okay. First one we've been win, you know, and that's not normal.

Alysson Bourque [00:02:09]:

So

Glenn Harper [00:02:09]:

Was it similar to, like, It's A Wonderful Life, the drugstore that George Bedley worked at? Do you have a soda fountain and all those kind of things in there too, or is it just strictly a drugstore?

Alysson Bourque [00:02:18]:

Oh, yes. It had, one of those Coke and Pepsi machines that were really school with the bottle cap opener and, not a vending machine, but just a rack of, like, chips and M and M's that you could buy.

Glenn Harper [00:02:34]:

Back when the when life was simpler, was it not?

Alysson Bourque [00:02:38]:

It was simple. It was so fun

Glenn Harper [00:02:40]:

for me. I don't know what happened. You know, it's funny. We talk to people around the country, all in the world, and, it never ceases to amaze me that how Louisiana is its own ecosystem. Like, they have their own set of laws. They have their own set of things. They're just totally different than the rest of the country, in fact. And did you ever wanna leave Louisiana? Or do you I assume you live there now.

Glenn Harper [00:03:00]:

Did or did you, like, just like, I like how this rolls here. I understand it. You wanted to stay?

Alysson Bourque [00:03:05]:

Yeah. I like Louisiana. I still live here. I love to travel the big cities. I love to see, you know, the mountains in Wyoming. But, by exploring those different areas, I realized how how great Louisiana is. You know, the people are so so nice. Everyone's family.

Alysson Bourque [00:03:24]:

The food is, and it's just a slower paced life here.

Glenn Harper [00:03:29]:

So this is a burning question that I've always had, and I've heard it disclaim described many ways, but what is the difference between Cajun and Creole?

Alysson Bourque [00:03:38]:

So, I guess if you're talking about so, a creole gumbo will have tomatoes and stuff in it, and, you know, a Cajun gumbo will have, a traditional roux. But, you know, I don't really know the exact difference. I like Cajun food better than creole food.

Glenn Harper [00:04:01]:

And also the the people that live there, I think there's 2 a couple different, you know, demographics of people like the the Creole folks. And I don't I and I remember hearing it some time ago, it's different tribes migrated there. Do you you have any insight on what that would look like? I mean, do you know the difference or heard of it? Or

Alysson Bourque [00:04:19]:

I've heard of it. I don't know it, that well. You know, my so my mom, she is, from New York. From New York and came down here to go to college. And my dad, is from Baton Rouge area, and he's an Italian. So, we're typically Cajun or Creole. I'm I'm half Ukrainian, half Italian, so firecracker, I guess.

Glenn Harper [00:04:47]:

Well, I suspect Louisiana's case, they probably accept everybody down there. Right? So they're very it's a very friendly society like you said. We nothing but good things about Louisiana. I've been there once. It was awesome. Well, I feel bad for her.

Julie Smith [00:04:58]:

She had no idea she was gonna have to recite some of this history and know all these things. Like, I'm I have some empathy for her right now.

Glenn Harper [00:05:05]:

I didn't wanna put her on spot, but I was, like, genuinely curious. Well, I didn't mean to apologize. I just was genuinely curious.

Alysson Bourque [00:05:10]:

Honest. So Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:05:11]:

I was

Alysson Bourque [00:05:11]:

Yeah. I'll let you know if I don't

Glenn Harper [00:05:13]:

know anything. I was genuinely curious because I'm like, I've heard of these things. Like, oh, maybe someone will know. Yeah. You know, how did you choose you know, when you grew up, did you were your parents at the pharmacy? So they're basically entrepreneurs and you got to watch that struggle and do that. Did your mom work in the place as well or did she have her own thing?

Alysson Bourque [00:05:30]:

She did. She did. So they both, at the time, I believe Eckerd, if you remember Eckerd Drug Store, bought them out. And so then my dad became a state inspector for pharmacies. My mom went on to work at pharmacies in nursing homes and stuff. So from there. So I guess by just reflecting on that, I did get to see them start a business and then grow from there, and expand.

Glenn Harper [00:06:00]:

Were they more of a just sell the stuff off the shelf or the more of a compounding pharmacy where they make their own concoction for people?

Alysson Bourque [00:06:07]:

So they sold off the shelf, and then my mom actually worked for a compounding pharmacy at 1 point too, which was really cool. I got to see the behind the scenes of compounding, which is, you know, incredible to see.

Glenn Harper [00:06:21]:

Right. Who knew they could somebody could build something that a mega corporate couldn't build? Isn't that bizarre? It was always bizarre to me on that.

Julie Smith [00:06:28]:

I just keep thinking in this pharmacy, if I was her, I would sign up for the job of inventory of the snack thing. Like, I would as a kid, I would have been like, that's that's my role.

Glenn Harper [00:06:39]:

Lots of shrinkage in the in the in the candy aisle. I don't get it. No.

Alysson Bourque [00:06:42]:

Oh, we we ate all the candy. I mean, I was typically I was good at math, so I was the one that counted the pills. I mean, that's that's horrible to say on, you know, on a podcast. So we had, like, this little tray and at the end, it would go into this little slot that would go into the it would dispense it and say you just, you know, 1, 2, 3. So hopefully, I mean, I was probably, you know, I got the the right number of pills.

Julie Smith [00:07:12]:

I there's no complaints today. We didn't we didn't get any when we googled you, so you're all good.

Glenn Harper [00:07:16]:

No pending lawsuits. I think you did you did a great job. How did you decide to When you wanted to go off to school, how did you decide, what you wanted to be when you grew up? And I guess it was a University of Louisiana's bachelor of arts degree. And then at some point, you decided to become an attorney. Is that what you always wanted to be as a teacher first then the attorney was later or how did you decide on what you wanted to be?

Alysson Bourque [00:07:42]:

My honest answer is that I didn't know what I wanted to be. I thought I was gonna be a pharmacist, and then I realized that I didn't like to see the things in the medical field. You know, needles and all that kind of stuff wasn't my thing. And so I really didn't know. And, Legally Blonde came out the movie and I really liked the show and I was like, you know, she can do it. I can do it. So I ended up getting a little dog named Bruiser.

Glenn Harper [00:08:08]:

You did not. That's awesome. That is awesome.

Alysson Bourque [00:08:11]:

Well, my now husband and I made him watch the show and I told him for my birthday, I want a dog. I wanna name it Bruiser and I wanna go to law school. And I was serious and and so he got me a toy box terrier. It wasn't a chihuahua. And so I mean, I had to love the dog. I named Wasn't like the best dog, but so I ended up getting a dog named Breezer and, decided I was gonna go off to law school. And so I, I decided to teach school for a year and get a degree in elementary education because you can go to. And most people don't understand that that you, you know, you can.

Alysson Bourque [00:08:49]:

You go any any major. And so I figured if it doesn't work out in law school, I can always teach. And so I decided to teach 1 year and then, you know, kinda raise some money and go off to law school. And I that's what I did. And, I'm so glad I did. I practiced law for almost 8 years as an assistant attorney general for the state of Louisiana. So I still love Legally Blonde.

Glenn Harper [00:09:12]:

It's a great show. I wish she's awesome. Did you, when you came out of law school, did you know, I don't say most of the time, but I guess the people the clients that I see, they always wanna go work for a firm, hang up their own shingle, and be against the government. How did you decide you wanna be on the government side? Is that something you learned you decide to do in college or afterwards? It's just a great opportunity?

Alysson Bourque [00:09:37]:

So my dad's first cousin was the attorney general, Charlie Covey. And so, I actually interned there and was a law clerk while I was in law school. And so, and that was during hurricane Katrina. So that was a bit of a mess. It was it was wild. CNN was there all the time, and I got to really see the inner workings of government. And so I, you know, from Lafayette to work at the satellite office once I graduated law school and so I did. So I worked, in Lafayette as a assistant attorney general and handled, med mal state defense, represented DOTD, roads, and, the schools, and I'm really enjoying it.

Glenn Harper [00:10:26]:

That is amazing that you could get right into there. But when you have a connection, I mean, now you're in the inner workings, you're on the inside, you probably got to see a lot more than the average person, which means you probably learned a lot really, really fast.

Alysson Bourque [00:10:39]:

I did. I did, and I actually was, I got to help rewrite the emergency handbook, which should have been rewritten 50 years ago before Katrina. So I was and hopefully help going forward so that that wouldn't happen again.

Julie Smith [00:10:58]:

As you reflect back, was there anything like, you know, obviously, there was the pharmacy and then anything between pharmacy and college, getting your teaching degree to law that would have you're like, hey. If I would have known that doing that, now I understand why I did this type of scenario. Obviously, the attorney general being, you know, in the family. But is there anything else that really ignited that passion?

Alysson Bourque [00:11:23]:

To practice law? I love to write. I can write for days. I like to read. I, I wanted to be able to do something that made a difference. I just I didn't want to just stand still. And so all the pieces kind of fit together. I felt my personality was. It's just not to be, stagnant and and do something.

Alysson Bourque [00:11:48]:

And I love to write. There's a lot of writing and trial briefs. And now I'm just writing children's books.

Julie Smith [00:11:56]:

So in high school, did you write a lot of things that went against the grain that you, you know, maybe you changed the

Glenn Harper [00:12:01]:

Julia likes

Julie Smith [00:12:02]:

the con there.

Glenn Harper [00:12:02]:

Julia likes the controversial content.

Julie Smith [00:12:04]:

Well, no. I just think that's probably always been ingrained in her. And, you know, she she loved to write and she loved to do that. I can't imagine that growing up that that wasn't still very apparent, I guess.

Alysson Bourque [00:12:15]:

Mhmm. Yes. So we had this class, the whole language. It was like a trial for our 8th grade class, and all we did was listen to not all we did, but what we did was we listened to Inya. Right. And everybody was just writing their to list or writing about their dog. And I'm sitting there writing poetry and I'm writing short, you know, stories and things about Louisiana and, really just loved it. And I really got into and, I I was always different, I think, than a lot of people.

Alysson Bourque [00:12:52]:

I do have a twin sister, so that's a part of it too where I'm always trying to be different and be my own person. You know, In in 6th grade, whenever all of those, you know, bright fluorescent puff paint shoes, and I'm wearing, like, black Adidas. I decided to go to school with black. I and, I mean, I thought that was cool and I looked probably ridiculous but I had this feeling of I don't wanna just be a part of the mainstream. I don't wanna just follow suit. I wanna be different and be seen.

Glenn Harper [00:13:26]:

So you're the one in ballet class wearing the Batman outfit. You had to be I'm very Which is Yep. You're the different Which is great because, again, you just A lot of people probably don't recognize that they don't wanna conform. They wanna be something different. And I think the sooner you recognize that, I think that the sooner you can develop and tap into that creative juices that you had. How did you pick, University of Louisiana versus LSU?

Alysson Bourque [00:13:53]:

A lot of honest answers. Yes. No.

Glenn Harper [00:13:57]:

We're in the tree of trust. It's okay.

Alysson Bourque [00:14:00]:

My twin sister was going to LSU, and I wanted be Allison. And so that was a part of it. It wasn't against her. I just wanted to be my own person and not be the twin. You know, we were our my maiden name is Foti and I wanna be the Foti twin. So I went to a different school solely for that reason.

Glenn Harper [00:14:24]:

Awesome. That that totally makes sense.

Julie Smith [00:14:26]:

So can I ask, what is your what is your twin sister do?

Alysson Bourque [00:14:30]:

She's a nurse. Okay. Mhmm.

Glenn Harper [00:14:32]:

So you're you're working for the attorney general, putting criminals behind bars, preparing briefs, doing all the good stuff, and all of a sudden, one day, you're like, you know what? I think I wanna write children's books. How did how did this happen?

Alysson Bourque [00:14:47]:

So at the time, we started I say we. It was more of my husband, but I'm gonna kinda help. Starting an oilfield, company that bought and sold oilfield equipment. And at the time, he was really busy starting up a new business, and I was really business preparing for trials. And our our kids were 4 at the time, and I just felt like we were just never present. We were, but not as much as I wanted to be. So, I always had this inner fire to do something different. Although I love practicing law, I just felt like there was something.

Alysson Bourque [00:15:26]:

And I decided to take a temporary retirement to be at home with them and we, he kept, you know, building the business. And one night we're reading bedtime stories to our children and they want more books for the bookshelf that's already overflowed. I was trying to be frugal and I just said, look, I'll just write you a story for tomorrow night. I'm not gonna go buy another book. We can save money and, they were so excited that I offered to do that. So I felt accountable. I felt like I had to do it. So I after telling them good night writing the first Alley Cat story, and they loved it.

Alysson Bourque [00:16:03]:

And I loved it. And I love seeing their faces and and how happy it made them. And I used resources and tools and it's lesson based, so they kind of got a problem solving within. And I submitted it for about a year while I was on my temporary retirement. And right before I was about to go back to practice law, I got picked up by a publisher.

Glenn Harper [00:16:25]:

So when you go and and, again, that's awesome, but I'm like, how do you just go, oh, I'm gonna write a book tonight. Like how did you know that you're gonna get into the theme of the life lessons and the story? Like most parents to be like, see Bob with the carrot or whatever. How did you know to go into that genre and be able to come up with that overnight?

Alysson Bourque [00:16:48]:

So I I I really didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know I had any kind of talent for writing or creating or have an imagination. Although I always love to write. So when I sat down and just started writing and I wrote about a cat, we love cats. We love dogs. But cats are unpredictable. They always get into some kind of problem and they have to kind of solve it and they're they're funny. And, so I started writing about a cat and I wrote about maybe like an issue that my kids had, that week at school because they had a milk protein allergy and they had ice cream day.

Alysson Bourque [00:17:22]:

And so they couldn't partake in it. So I said, you know, let me write about that. And it just it just came out on paper and that's what I do. I just sit down and take, you know, about an hour or 2 and it just comes out on paper and and I don't know how, and, they seem to like it. So I'll keep doing it, I guess.

Glenn Harper [00:17:41]:

You're a good mom. That's that's impressive.

Julie Smith [00:17:45]:

Yeah. I don't know that I could sit down and write it.

Glenn Harper [00:17:46]:

That is that is really cool. So once you how long did it take you to write that book? Was it an overnight thing, or did it take a few days, a week, or because the kids are waiting for you the next morning.

Alysson Bourque [00:17:55]:

Well, and

Julie Smith [00:17:56]:

I wanna visualize what did you write it on? Like, were there pic did you draw stick figure pictures, or what what did it look like in its first version?

Alysson Bourque [00:18:05]:

It a loose leaf piece of paper and with a pencil and just wrote I have terrible handwriting and I just wrote it. And originally, it was Alley Cat Strikes Back. I have no idea. I just came up with that file, but the story had nothing to do with striking back. And so handwritten, piece of paper and I wrote it within that night. It took me, I don't know, an hour and a half. I left the ending blank. I knew how I wanted it to end but I left it blank because I wanted them to fill in the ending and they did were kind of wild and crazy.

Alysson Bourque [00:18:39]:

So I kinda tamed it down.

Glenn Harper [00:18:43]:

I I I'm I'm just my jaw is sitting on the floor because it's just that is such that seems like it would be so hard for an average person to come up with the creative content overnight and to think it all through like that. After you read the kids the story and they're all into it, probably they were moms of the hero. Is that when the light bulb went off and said, you know what? I can write this all day long. Is that how you did it?

Julie Smith [00:19:04]:

She probably had to go write another one that next night Well,

Glenn Harper [00:19:06]:

that's what I mean. Next night. Well, that's what I'm guessing. Right?

Alysson Bourque [00:19:10]:

My moment is when they love the story and they paid attention and they had all these endings and they were so happy, and I love seeing them happy. I love seeing children just light up. And, I didn't write another story. What I did was I started how to get an agent, how to get a publisher, end up writing a query letter. And so just kind of fine tuning that manuscript and figure out what to do with that next. Like, what's the next step? And so that's I spend the next 6 months researching on a publisher.

Glenn Harper [00:19:43]:

So you knew this isn't one of the story for your kids. You thought it was gonna be big right away or you wanted it to be big?

Alysson Bourque [00:19:50]:

I wanted it to be big when I saw their reaction, and then I saw what a challenge it is better to publish. I mean, everybody can publish a book on Amazon these days, but to actually get with a traditional publisher is super hard. I I've I've gotten over 500 rejection letters from agents, over And and now I am with a traditional publisher, but I saw how hard it was. And for me, that was a great challenge. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to accomplish it.

Julie Smith [00:20:22]:

So did your kids get to watch you kind of go through this? Did they get to watch that process of mommy wrote this book, mommy read us this book, now mommy wants to share it with all the other kids. Like, did they get to watch that or did you kinda keep it from them?

Alysson Bourque [00:20:36]:

Oh, no. I involved them and and they get to see the rejection letters. I read it to them. I read the bad reviews that I get sometimes to them. I want I don't wanna cushion their falls. I want them to be resilient. And as teenagers now, it's super hard because they have, you know, heartbreak and they have, you know, big things that happen. I want them to be resilient.

Alysson Bourque [00:20:58]:

So they were a part of everything. Whenever to do the illustration descriptions and describe what the characters were wearing, I involved them. I wanted them to see how to build something small into something bigger. And I guess reflecting now, it's probably what my parents did, you know, with their

Glenn Harper [00:21:17]:

You know, what's funny is, you didn't realize at the time, or maybe you did, but the kids at that age, they're your harshest credit because they'll tell you straight up. They have no filter. And they're

Julie Smith [00:21:29]:

so truthful.

Glenn Harper [00:21:29]:

Right. So you knew when they said, like, you're like, oh, look what I got here because they would not They couldn't even think to just not tell mom something because it might hurt her feelings. They're just gonna tell you, which is kinda cool.

Alysson Bourque [00:21:41]:

They will tell you. Yeah. And so I I appreciate that because, you know, they will tell me if I'm wearing something ugly. You know? Don't sucks.

Glenn Harper [00:21:52]:

Well, we gotta get them on payroll, and do some income shifting. No. That's good. Now how many, when you say this series, I didn't have a chance to delve too deep in it, but how many books are in the series that you have?

Alysson Bourque [00:22:06]:

I have 7 that are published. I have one that's in, illustration and graphic design right now, so it'll be released next year. And then I wrote, Christmas Alley Cat book, which will be released in 2026.

Glenn Harper [00:22:20]:

Is this for these books for a specific age group or demographic or is it can be anywhere from whatever age that could be?

Alysson Bourque [00:22:28]:

It's for ages about 3 to 9.

Glenn Harper [00:22:32]:

Is there a lot of picture books? Because I love picture books, and that would be good for me.

Julie Smith [00:22:35]:

Yeah. You have to add him into your demographic.

Glenn Harper [00:22:37]:

I might learn some good lessons.

Alysson Bourque [00:22:39]:

Yeah. They're picture books.

Glenn Harper [00:22:40]:

Oh, look at that. And they're

Alysson Bourque [00:22:41]:

and they're hard hard cover, so they're durable. I'll I'll have to send you some.

Glenn Harper [00:22:45]:

I will have to go online and get some. That'd be that'd be great. So now you're publishing your own book, and you're like, you know what?

Julie Smith [00:22:52]:

Wait. Did you go back to the attorney general? Or when you got that, was that a sign that that's not what you should be doing?

Alysson Bourque [00:23:00]:

So when when I got that, it was a sign that this was the path I was supposed to go on. So I said, well, you know what? I mean, I still have a law degree. I still I can keep that up in forever and I go back whenever. But right now is the time to do this. So I ended up, just publishing books, and I was, hybrid publish from traditional publishing. So it's where, you actually upfront the cost for printing. The whole goal is to get traditionally published where the publisher is paying for it all. And so, it was a struggle because I wanted these for 4 books in the series, 4 years, I would write a story and query agents and publishers trying to get picked up, but still knew that my favorite publisher would publish the story if they like them.

Alysson Bourque [00:23:58]:

Finally, after book 4 going into book 5, I queried the agents. I got hundreds of rejections and I finally got a traditional publisher to pick me up. And so they actually picked up the entire series and and now still. It was 5 years in the making of trying to get to that goal, which was really tough.

Glenn Harper [00:24:19]:

So so you could

Julie Smith [00:24:21]:

Meanwhile, your your husband's still building his oil business. Right?

Alysson Bourque [00:24:25]:

Right. Right.

Glenn Harper [00:24:26]:

So the the traditional is they they pick up the cost to publish it the way you were doing it by default. You could get your book published. You just had to front everything, and you're trying to get to where they would front it and kinda manage that whole process. Right?

Alysson Bourque [00:24:39]:

Right. So there's 3 different types of publishing. They're self published with anyone can do. They just upload it publishing. There's hybrid where you have a publisher who does a great job, but you're paying for the printing of those books, which you own them then so you can still sell them. You're paying wholesale. And then there's traditional where you're anything. They actually will pay you in advance.

Julie Smith [00:25:05]:

So when you're in hybrid, how did you navigate how to sell the books that you owned? How did you get it out there?

Alysson Bourque [00:25:13]:

So I ended up getting my inventory. And so it's when you buy it from your publisher, you're buying it wholesale so that you can turn around and resale. So I did author visits for years at schools. I've visited, probably over 3,000 schools across the What? For, like, 50,000 kids. It's so funny because, like, random kids will, you know, like, oh, there's miss Allison, you know, and and my husband's like shaking his head like, how do you know all these kids? Because I've seen so many over the years and so the author way to get my books out there, and they're they're in bookstores and and stuff like that.

Glenn Harper [00:25:55]:

How how do you go, being a mom with small kids, how do you travel to 3,000 schools in a short amount of time promoting the book? How do you navigate the logistics of that? I'm curious as I'll get out.

Alysson Bourque [00:26:10]:

So it, yeah, it takes a lot of planning and, I try to schedule it around my kids and my husband's, what we'll do is we'll go on a book tour. So from here, Louisiana all the way to Florida and make stops along the way, and then take a summer vacation or we we went to Disney at the same time. So along our vacations, I'm actually to use bookstores and school visits. My son is a an avid golfer since he was 3 years old and so he plays all over the US now. And so we would go up to Pinehurst, North North Carolina. As he's doing that, like, popping into bookstores or I'm going to an author visit. And so it's just like this juggling of making all the schedules work.

Glenn Harper [00:27:03]:

The entrepreneurial dream is to merge the personal and professional together and create some great tax strategies and participate fully in the tax code while at the same time, everybody's happy. Right? You're doing your thing. The kids are doing their thing. Your husband's doing their thing. Check. Check. Check.

Julie Smith [00:27:19]:

So that was the hybrid. So where are you today with The Real Publisher? They've picked up all the books. What do you what are you doing in your free time? Still visiting schools and doing all of that? Or what what does your day look like?

Alysson Bourque [00:27:32]:

I'm still visiting schools and doing author visits, but I also co own a, PR firm called Expound Publicity. And so we Laurie Arlinski and I, we help authors market their books. And so we started this during the pandemic when we had to kind of shift everything to virtual visits, virtual marketing. And so, she and I were working together with our try to keep up that that hype. And we got one client who came to us and said, can you help me with mine? And so from that one client in 2020 is now I think we've had over 500 clients that we've helped market their books. So now, that's what my daily life is. And then at night, I'm trying to, you know, schedule my book my own book stuff.

Glenn Harper [00:28:21]:

So you're more busy than you were before. Fantastic. Typical entrepreneur. Love it. When you say help market their book, does that mean helping them find publishers in the 3 avenues or helping them self market their own book and

Alysson Bourque [00:28:34]:

So we're helping them with publicity and marketing. They already have publishers or have self published. And so we have customized campaigns of things that they can do. Actually, we kind of so we facilitate the outreaches to the news, the bookstores, awards submissions, and virtual book tours for them.

Glenn Harper [00:28:52]:

So like your book tour, you're just duplicating that and showing them the shortcut how to do it. Fantastic. Mhmm.

Alysson Bourque [00:28:58]:

Yep. And so we kind of do it for them have, day jobs or children. And so we're facilitating the whole thing for them where they just have to kinda show up.

Glenn Harper [00:29:10]:

And most creative thinking people do not have any business side to them and most business people don't have a creative side to them. So it's cool that you can augment the 2 together.

Julie Smith [00:29:22]:

I mean, she has a teaching degree, a logic Well,

Glenn Harper [00:29:24]:

she's an anomaly. She's

Julie Smith [00:29:25]:

got it all.

Glenn Harper [00:29:26]:

She's an anomaly, but most like, accounts have no creativity when it comes to writing a book. I I could do that if I wanted to. And and Well,

Julie Smith [00:29:32]:

no one could read your handwriting, but

Glenn Harper [00:29:34]:

That's just true. And that's the thing. You said you had bad handwriting. I find that hard to believe. Is it true? You speak your 9 things faster than you can write?

Alysson Bourque [00:29:41]:

Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:29:41]:

Maybe that's my problem. That's why my handwriting is so bad.

Alysson Bourque [00:29:44]:

I think they've come

Julie Smith [00:29:45]:

in a row.

Alysson Bourque [00:29:46]:

Fast. I read fast. I write fast.

Glenn Harper [00:29:48]:

Yeah. I see. Creative side.

Julie Smith [00:29:52]:

You know, I I am so excited for this podcast because my I have to go speak to one of my kids' school about what do you do. Right? It's like everybody gets to come in. And I now I can be like, I got to to talk to this author. I'm gonna take your book in, and I'm gonna donate to the classroom. So thank you for inspiring me for what that looks like.

Alysson Bourque [00:30:11]:

Absolutely. That's awesome. I love it.

Glenn Harper [00:30:13]:

So so here we are doing what you do, and you're busier as ever. Are you, you know, you gonna continue down this path? Is there another thing you wanna start up? Because those entrepreneurs, they're all over the place on what they wanna do and how they do it because there's opportunity everywhere. For you, it looks like you kinda perfected the the you being the writer in publishing, you've perfected the opportunity to help others do this. What's the next step?

Alysson Bourque [00:30:36]:

So I'm gonna series, but I do wanna write a novel. I wanna write, like, either a You novel, or something, you know, in a different genre. I, I talk to my business partner, Laurie, all the time about maybe start marketing products as well or marketing So, yeah, sky's the limit, I guess.

Glenn Harper [00:30:57]:

I've got a great idea. You can write a novel based on a, you know, a bizarre middle aged white guy that does, accounting. That would be that would be a very big seller. Very big.

Julie Smith [00:31:05]:

It would be riveting. Riveting. So

Glenn Harper [00:31:10]:

Yes. Oh, there's lots of drama in there.

Julie Smith [00:31:12]:

So do you plan to scale your marketing firm and PR firm? Like, do you plan to build a team and grow that? Is that something, you know, that is in the future? Yeah.

Alysson Bourque [00:31:23]:

So, we've grown hired 2 people which Laurie and I are very type a. We like to do things ourselves, but we realized that we have grown so much as a firm, that we can't do everything. So we have hired some people and, we want to or where just yet, but we know that the opportunity will present itself when it's ready.

Glenn Harper [00:31:49]:

I mean, it's gonna be your kids will wake up one day and tell you to do something. You guys will do it, and it'll be a rising success again. I I just have this feeling.

Julie Smith [00:31:57]:

So do you see anything in your children that I mean, obviously, I I think I love your story about your parents and their pharmacy, and, obviously, that kind of shed through into your children and what you've done and how you've raised them. Do you see anything in your kids that you're like, I could I see that as me as a a child or as a teenager growing up and, you know, you see some of those tendencies?

Alysson Bourque [00:32:21]:

Yes. My daughter is is just like me and she just wants to stand out from the pack. And it's not it's not the whole look at it's more like I just don't wanna be, you know, going this straight line like everybody else.

Glenn Harper [00:32:37]:

Nonconformist? Yeah.

Alysson Bourque [00:32:39]:

Yeah. Yep. And so, I do see them being a little more like me where they wanna do that makes them happy as a career. My son wants to be a professional golfer, and we're supportive of him, and we'll help him anyway. My daughter wants to own her own business. Now what that's gonna be, I have no idea. It's probably gonna be like making cupcakes, but, you know, we'll we'll support her. But, yeah, I see that in them and I I love it because I don't know if it was just us in the eighties and how we were raised, but you had to either be a teacher or a nurse, and it was it was kinda streamlined.

Alysson Bourque [00:33:25]:

There was no opportunity to say, hey. I wanna just be an entrepreneur. I wanna, you know, be in marketing or write books. That wasn't really personality career quizzes.

Julie Smith [00:33:36]:

I definitely think you taught your kids to dream big and that they could follow their dreams, though. I mean, I think that's your personality, right, just to listen to your journey. So kudos to you, mom, for being able to to give that to them.

Alysson Bourque [00:33:48]:

Thank you.

Glenn Harper [00:33:49]:

Did you have a mentor or somebody that said, Hey, Allison, you can do this, and here, let me be your cheerleader and help you do this and give you that support. Did you have anybody that helped you through that process?

Alysson Bourque [00:34:06]:

5 of my children who at 6 and 4, you know, you just kinda take it for a grain of salt sometimes and but, you know, my my husband is very supportive of things that I want to do. He may not verbally say, you know, yeah. You it's always there. If if I have a book signer, if I wanna go here, he, you know, he'll come and help me and and never complains. And so, I would say he's probably my biggest cheerleader or supporter.

Glenn Harper [00:34:40]:

Mhmm. Do you have when you do these, do your book tours and stuff, is there like is it, I don't wanna say easy because it's probably hard to get into the schools and do your thing. Is it something where, you know, could you get into like the major book publishers that supply the books for all the schools that you could get into them and have them distribute so you don't necessarily have to go visit 12,000 schools. You can go the one to many instead of going one to 1. Is that something that's on horizon?

Alysson Bourque [00:35:11]:

So in the publishing industry, there's the big five publishers. And so they kind of own that space and I'm not with the big five. I mean, that that is every author's dream, but then it does come using some of that creative, control. I am not with Scholastic, which does a lot of the book fairs. So I have to really work to get my books in stores. I

Glenn Harper [00:35:38]:

Mhmm.

Alysson Bourque [00:35:38]:

Will offer to come do story times. I will come and they'll they'll purchase my books for the show. So it's it's a lot of work.

Glenn Harper [00:35:46]:

You know, it's, this is gonna be a random thought that comes in my head, but I have a lot of these. So, you know, when you look at a creative person that they have their skill set to do what they do, like a a musician or whatever, They gotta go on stage, sing the same song to a different audience, and gotta bring the same energy. For you, you're reading the same book 100,000,000,000 times. It would seem that every time you get in front of a classroom, though, the excitement in the kids' eyes makes it seem like the first time every time. Is that is that true?

Alysson Bourque [00:36:19]:

It's very true. It is very true. And so, I treat the author visits like a almost like like a show you're going to. Mhmm. So when I there's songs with the Alley Cat series on YouTube and on Imusic and there's a dance. We had now have an Alley Cat shuffle. And so, there are all these things that we do. Well, I say we.

Alysson Bourque [00:36:46]:

There's a giant mascot that comes that the teachers will dress up in the the mascot costume and make it just very, you know, eventful for these kids. And, when I go out there, we start with the Ally cat shuffle because, you know, things like a line dance, you know. So, we do that and, I read the book, but it's very interactive and it's just so fun to go out there and they they get so excited. They know who I am and who who Allycat is before I go out there. And that's that was the goal. And so it just makes it just

Glenn Harper [00:37:27]:

So how how do they know you if you've not been to the school? Does the school already have the book? Are you just promoting it? Or how do how do the students that might how do they know that you're coming and that it's such an event? Is that something you'd tell the teachers to promote it? Or do you just got you just got the following out there and they just can't wait for you to show up because you're the rock star?

Alysson Bourque [00:37:45]:

So, here in Louisiana schools that now I'm just going back. So they have already know the characters and they know the stories. It's just with a new book. But in other states, I will send the book coloring sheets, activity sheets, all the video trailers, book trailers, and songs and stuff. And so the teachers are really great about showing it to the kids, beforehand. And, so that's probably what it is. It's a it's a combination of both.

Glenn Harper [00:38:15]:

I I just sitting here with them again, how do you create all of these things? It's not just the book. It's all the stuff around it. Where do you find the time to do this? Do you outsource that, or is that all you?

Alysson Bourque [00:38:28]:

No. It's all me. I'm gonna control freak. And just want it to be fun. I want it to be exciting. I want kids to just, you know, go to school and I want them to have fun reading. You know, my books are about having fun. Like, we're not gonna just streamline these, you know, these books into this lesson that is boring.

Alysson Bourque [00:38:46]:

Like we're gonna have fun with it. I don't know. It just keeps evolving.

Glenn Harper [00:38:52]:

That's fantastic. So it would you wanna ask the the s question? Yeah. I You're dying today.

Julie Smith [00:38:58]:

Am. So tell me, what is your superpower?

Alysson Bourque [00:39:05]:

I think my superpower is being empathetic. When when somebody is having a bad day, I really feel for them. And and, you know, in my head, I start going through all these things. Like, what would what do they need from me right now? Not what would I need. And and so I do feel that in every situation, with my clients. You know, what do they need, with the kids in the school? And so I think because I do a lot of self evaluation and I am very I'm really hard on myself. I don't give and so I I do evaluate myself. And I I have to tell myself that like that.

Alysson Bourque [00:39:46]:

That is a a superpower is being able to be empathetic and and be that person that someone might need that day.

Julie Smith [00:39:55]:

And then I have one last question. But what is your end game?

Alysson Bourque [00:40:02]:

My end game is for tons of people to recognize the characters in my book of them and read them at night at bed time. Like, my kids were asking for a story. I want kids to ask for Ally cat stories. I want there to be a Saturday morning cartoon one day that has Ally cat. And so that is my end game.

Julie Smith [00:40:30]:

It's not selfish. You're just dreaming. But I mean, I love that because there really is no end game for you. It is just how many people can you touch in your lifetime with what you've created, and I think, you know, that's infinite. So keep doing what you're doing.

Glenn Harper [00:40:46]:

It seems like that empathy, is such a good thing because when you walk into a school, you see these kids, you don't know what they're going through at home. You don't know what's going through with them at school. You don't know who's being bullied, who's getting abused. Like, you don't know it. And to be able to bring something positive to them, make it for that few minutes they're the happiest kid in the planet, that has got to be rewarding.

Alysson Bourque [00:41:13]:

It is. It's everything. And, you know, I understand that not everyone's gonna and that's okay. So I always have either like free bookmarks or like free key chains, something that everyone can go home with. But I just hope that it's like the best hour of their life that they can say I had the best day.

Glenn Harper [00:41:33]:

Yeah. It looks like the next step has got to be finding some kind of national sponsor that can put something in that book where they can basically put set aside 10% of the books that you have that can go to the kids that can't buy the book, and make it not embarrassing for that kid that doesn't have the money, and kinda set that up with the teacher to take care of on the backside there because there's just so many kids that this they'll never gonna be able to buy a book.

Alysson Bourque [00:41:59]:

Right. And for the 1st 3 years, I literally gave away books, and I I doing it. Well, you know, it's it makes them so happy. Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:42:11]:

Well, Allison, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on our show today. We learned a lot about an industry I did not know much about, and, we love how you roll. Would you wanna give a little plug in case people wanna find out the products and things that you that you put out there for?

Alysson Bourque [00:42:25]:

Sure. Sure. So if they wanna head over to my website, alicatseries.com, they can find me on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Julie Smith [00:42:34]:

Awesome. Where can we buy the books? Amazon, Barnes and where how do we get our hands on them?

Alysson Bourque [00:42:39]:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, target dotcom, and alicatseries.com.

Julie Smith [00:42:44]:

Awesome.

Glenn Harper [00:42:45]:

Well, again, appreciate your time. And, Julie, that was a good one. I'm Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith [00:42:49]:

Julie Smith.