CoVort has always been a hub for different kinds of people. Some of our members have families and children, some have sought degrees and established private businesses, and one even has a few interns that pop in throughout the week. The energy of the coworking space may ebb and flow depending on the day but the culture remains the same: work and learn with like-minded individuals.
We also have a lot of creative types, which fuels my own personal, creative outlets. When I first joined CoVort in January as the administrative assistant, one of the biggest surprises was hearing we had three authors working regularly in-house. I would get to work with them by providing specific administrative and marketing tasks. Better still, I would be working closely with them on their books too. As an aspiring author, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes of book publishing and marketing. Before CoVort, and other than a few specific and thrilling instances of meeting published authors in my youth, this would also be the first time I got to see how authors really lived and breathed.
Tammi Labrecque does, in fact, live and breathe, but you may not know that from how hard she works and how much. I have the pleasure of being Tammi’s part-time assistant and I’ve seen firsthand the time she puts into her online courses and her various books. I knew she would be comfortable with an interview and slipped her some questions (already knowing some of the answers, of course) to flesh out who Tammi is and what she brings to CoVort.
For starters, Tammi’s dedicated desk is all the way in the back of our coworking office. She has a knack for sneaking past me when I’m not at my desk and settling in without me noticing. When I head to the kitchen to refill my ice water or check on the state of the dishwasher, Tammi is there, headphones on and hands flying. She always has time for me, however, even if I just want to say hi.
Specifically, Tammi is an indie author, publisher, and teacher/coach. She writes and publishes her own books under a couple of pen names, and freelances in every related field from plot doctoring to editing to advertisement management. Tammi embraced indie-publishing in 2014 but proudly proclaims to have been writing since she was a “tween.” She was even “traditionally published in the olden days” which is her funny way of referring to the 1990s.
“I’ve always been a writer, as long as I can remember. But back in the day, there was this whole process of querying agents and collecting rejection slips and so on. I wasn’t terribly well-suited for that. I sold the first story I ever submitted to the first place I submitted it (which I’ve since found out was a very competitive market), so I have always had confidence in my writing chops; rejection of any sort, on the other hand, is not something I handle well. I didn’t have what it took to stay on the querying hamster wheel. The birth of ebooks and viable self-publishing is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Tammi.
Tammi lives in Bangor only a short walk from the CoVort office. On the nicer days, she may walk through the door with her sunglasses on and a backpack over her shoulder. She had lived in Florida, New Hampshire, and New York City. Her favorite thing about Bangor? The easy driving distance from Boston. “Turns out I’m a city girl, so being stuck in Bangor for two decades has been pretty unsatisfying. My youngest has two years of school left, then I’m off to new pastures. Austin or San Francisco, or another country. Still not decided!”
Like any good writer, reading is Tammi’s main hobby. She also enjoys concerts and traveling, and traveling for a favorite band or singer is the best of both worlds. “My teen and I try to do that at least once a year.” She also loves dogs but can’t have one in her apartment, so she does a lot of free dog sitting “which I think probably counts as a hobby.”
Tammi first tried to join CoVort in the fall of 2017. She paid for a month and then never went. “I’m basically quite lazy, and the idea of schlepping my stuff back and forth every day was terrible; I figured I might as well keep going to bookstore cafes if I was going to do that, so I didn’t renew my membership. In the fall of 2018, I decided to try a dedicated desk, and that’s made all the difference. I have a lot of stuff at the office -as I’m sure many people have noticed- and all I have to bring back and forth is my laptop.”
Tammi does try to get into CoVort as often as possible since she made the move to a dedicated desk. In the months when she’s teaching, however, she has a lot of video calls with students and prefers to stay at home. “But at home, my desk is in my bedroom and there are so many distractions, so if at all possible I go down to CoVort so I can actually get stuff done. I’m much more focused there.”
Unique for our coworking space is Tammi’s desk buddy, her own daughter Isabella. Isabella started a few months after Tammi when she tried a one month with a regular membership and then upgraded to a dedicated desk. Bella writes books similar to her mom, one of the motivators for the membership. “She writes long books with complicated world-building, and trying to focus in her apartment was really hard for her. I knew a desk at CoVort would really help, so her first three months were a Christmas present,” said Tammi.
Bella and Tammi are day and night in turns of coworking schedules, and behind my desk at CoVort, it’s plain to see what suits them both. Tammi claimed the most important habit of all was “making sure I get down to the office and get my butt in the chair” and on days when her schedule agrees, she can be found slogging away, all day, at her desk. Bella is nowhere to be found in the morning but often works late into the night, far later than any of our other coworkers. “She keeps a very different schedule than I do, so you’ll usually see her arrive mid-afternoon and stay late into the evening.”
Tammi added, “She wrote Book 2 about three times faster than Book 1, so I think it’s working!”
Tammi alone is a powerhouse of creativity and energy; she’s the master of email and newsletters (our “Newsletter Ninja”) and deals out sarcastic jokes left and right. Tammi and Bella together, however, are a full force to be reckoned with. I had the privilege of editing part of Bella’s next book and it stuck with me for weeks. Their ideas fuel my ideas, and I love asking them what they’re working on. Even if the answer is just “D&D character sheets” I know they can always show me something new.