And now for something completely different… Coming in July from Simon & Schuster Australia is my second non-fiction title and they have done a beautiful job with this book. Two books hitting the shelves this year. Lucky me!
The blurb reads:
“An engaging, challenging and contemplative guide on how to live a compassionate life in a consumerist era.
For many years, Josephine Moon struggled with the question of eating meat; fervently wishing to live as a vegetarian yet requiring meat in her diet. From Josephine’s philosophical, spiritual and physical battle with eating meat came, Buddhism for Meat Eaters – a book for animal lovers, the environmentally and ethically conscious, and generally thoughtful people who eat meat but perhaps aren’t entirely comfortable doing so.
Open, honest and utterly without judgement, Buddhism for Meat Eaters encourages readers to be more mindful about their choices, rather than berating themselves for them, and offers ways for people to live ethically, honestly and guilt-free, whether as a carnivore, vegetarian or vegan. This highly practical guide also includes workbook-style activities and topics for consideration to guide you in your own journey to making wiser decisions on how you consume, how you live, and how to change the world around you.”
Research is my happy place. I do extensive research for every book I write and it’s where I learn not just technical information but also start to find my character development, settings and plot points too. I get to travel within Australian and overseas for location research, which is a great gift. I interview people, spend hours on the internet, watch loads of YouTube videos and, inevitably, buy a lot of reference books. It is the phase where anything is still possible, ideas are still forming and excitement takes me back again and again for more.
My forthcoming novel, The Gift of Life, is based around organ donation, specifically, heart transplants. I love anatomy (I studied it for two semesters) and Biology was also my strongest subject at school and I then did another semester of it at uni. As a result, I loved brushing up on all my anatomy and physiology and researching the many causes and treatments of heart failure, some of which lead to the need for an organ donation. I even ended up at the cardiologist myself, as I have a long history of arrhythmias and, as I found out in my research, these can lead to heart failure! (Fortunately for me, the type I have appear to be uncomplicated.) My husband, too, also ended up at the cardiologist, then my mum went… It seemed like every time I turned around, ‘hearts’ were the theme of the day. One thing I learned through all this research was that we are all vulnerable to heart issues, which can come with a long list of complications, which can also lead to a need for a transplant. I really had no idea how common it was.
The amount of personal testimony I came across (both from the point of view of a heart transplant recipient and also from the family of those who had consented to the donation of their loved one’s organs) is significantly higher coming from the USA than it is Australia. This was both tricky–because the USA medical and legal systems are very different to ours–and also an opportunity to hear different experiences and voices from those who’ve gone through the process.
There is a wealth of videos on YouTube and I even came across one that showed a heart transplant operation. That one was a little tough to stomach, to be honest!
I interviewed two Australian heart transplant recipients, which was a fabulous opportunity to hear their stories firsthand. They were both very different people–he a middle-aged man with a wife, children and career–and she a young woman in her twenties with a long life ahead if only she could get the chance. Their experience of the process was vastly different too. The organ transplant process is a gamble at every stage: the illness, the waiting period, the operation, the recovery, the chances of rejection and ongoing complications.
In the end, I had way more information than I could use in the book, which is normal. The Gift of Life starts two years after Gabby McPhee had her heart transplant; therefore much of what I learned about the difficult, emotional waiting stage (and the ongoing physical rehabilitation and care through that period) had to be cut and left out; however, it’s all there in my mind, forming the basis to the background of Gabby’s psyche.
I also became really interested in the more silent half of the story–the experiences of the family members who make the decision to donate. These stories are harder to find, and understandably so, as their experience is rooted in trauma, shock and grief. But as a writer, that ‘silent space’ is the most interesting to me. The possibility of a new, untold story is the one I want to follow. The wealth of information I found on the other side (the recipient’s stories) served to highlight a gap in the narrative that, when voiced through the character of Krystal Arthur, fleshed out the full circle of life.
I loved researching this book. It was utterly fascinating from beginning to end.
Our third and final generous Australian publisher who has donated her time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring or emerging writer at the same time is none other than Annette Barlow from Allen & Unwin. Here is some information about Annette and what she is offering.
If you have been working on a manuscript and want the chance to win first class feedback and maybe even find your work in front of the right people who can make your dream come true, then make sure you keep following along and bid, bid, bid to win Annette’s attention!
Annette’s offer will be on eBay in the THIRD round of auctions, starting 19 October, 6pm.
Bio: Annette has worked at Allen & Unwin as an editor and a publisher for over 25 years. She includes many wonderful fiction writers on her list, for example, Kate Morton, Kirsty Manning, Alex Miller, Louise Allan, Julian Leatherdale, Holly Throsby, Fleur McDonald, Tony Jones and Karly Lane. Annette teaches at Faber Academy at A&U and is in charge of the annual Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award.
Why are you excited to do this? Jo’s desire to support Australia’s farmers spurred me on into thinking what concrete action I could take. I’m very happy to offer my skills in this way.
Genres: I look forward to reading chapters of commercial, literary, rural or contemporary fiction but fantasy, sci-fi, and YA are not my areas.
Submission length: Please send 3 chapters (max 50 pages) and a synopsis.
Communication: Phone and/or email
Reply time: within a month of receiving pages
Auction reserve: $390
AUTHORS FOR FARMERS is an initiative by Australian author Josephine Moon (www.josephinemoon.com) to band together fellow authors from around the country to help with drought relief fundraising for Australian farmers. All money raised goes to BUY A BALE (registered charity, http://www.buyabale.com.au).
(Please note: Ebay charges fees for using its platform and these will be will be deducted from the total donation amount at the end.)
I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting retreat, offered by my literary agent Haylee Nash of The Nash Agency.
The Nash Agency Writer’s Retreat 2018
When: Monday 3rd September to Thursday 6th September
Where: Cedar Creek Lodges, Mt Tamborine, Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland
The Nash Agency is pleased to offer our first writers’ retreat.
Open to aspiring, self-published and traditionally published authors, our writers’ retreat offers the chance to hone your craft through sessions with bestselling Australian authors and experienced literary agents, one-on-one consultations with principal agent and owner, Haylee Nash, and engaging and challenging group workshops, as well as offering the space to focus on your writing in the perfect setting.
Here is just some of what you can expect from The Nash Agency Writers’ Retreat 2018:
* Masterclass with top ten bestselling Australian author, Rachael Johns
* Masterclass with international bestselling author, Josephine Moon
* Learn from Alex Adsett about the role of an agent, the importance of copyright and how to understand a publishing contact
* Hear from Haylee Nash about the state of the Australian book market, current trends in publishing and what publishers are looking for
* Polish your pitch to give your manuscript the best chance of snagging an agent and/or publisher
* Partial manuscript appraisals (on three chapters and synopsis), including a one-page report and 15-minute consultation with Haylee Nash
Click here for more information on ticketing, accommodation and more details about the presenters.
I hope to see you there!
Do you have a book club? Want to start one right now?
Here is a wonderful opportunity to have your next meeting’s event delivered to your door, with 10 copies of Three Gold Coins, two bottles of wine and quality snacks, as well as reading and discussion notes and advice on how to start a book club if you need it.
Good Reading Magazine says: “Three Gold Coins packs a mountain of heart, an abundance of tortured soul and a banquet of mouthwatering food.”
To enter, simply follow this link.
Last Easter weekend, we decided to treat ourselves to a night we’d always remember: a Tuscan-inspired feast, right in the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland. Everything came together to create an evening in which it felt as if a huge magic bubble of wonder and love had descended on our house and infused us all with a lifetime of memories.
The heart of a Tuscan-inspired feast is, of course, family and friends. The joy comes from sharing your home, your beautiful produce and cooking, and most of all your love. So invite as many people as you think your time, energy and budget can handle.
As far as the menu goes, Tuscan-inspired food is rustic ‘peasant’ food. The produce should be so fresh and bursting with flavour that it speaks for itself, rather than having to be fussed over and ‘dressed up’.
From my experience travelling to Tuscany, and my research for my novel, Three Gold Coins, I’ve learned that Italians by nature are incredibly regionally focused and fiercely proud of the food their local area produces. As they should be! What better way to honour a community’s history and culture and look after our planet at the same time?
For our feast, we chose cheese from our local cheesemaker and fresh fruit and vegetables direct from our local farmers. The result was scrumptious!
Here are my top ten tips for throwing a Tuscan-inspired feast.
- Keep your menu under control. Although Italians are known for their dining experiences to go on for five (or more!) courses, three great course (antipasto, secondi, and dolce) should do it. Trust me, you’ll still be fit to bursting.
- Try to set up your long table outdoors and under trees, if you have great weather. Otherwise, you could do was we did and bring the outdoors in with potted citrus and olive trees and plenty of terracotta pots filled with herbs.
- Buy as much of your produce locally as you can—it will have loads more flavour and freshness. Save your food miles for special items, such as prosciutto, which might have actually come all the way from Italy.
- Style your space with simple yet elegant finishings, such as wood, branches, leaves and candles, and don’t be afraid to use the food itself as table settings. Fresh honeycomb was a huge hit for us, a gorgeous feature and talking point and it was all gone by the end of the feast.
- Consider a separate eating table for the really young children and indulge them with their own special activities and treats. Hire a nanny if you can.
- Be flexible with your menu. We decided on tiramisu (naturally) for our dolce (dessert) option, but in the end only four of twenty-three people actually wanted that, instead choosing a far more English option of strawberries and cream!
- Flowers and cuttings will make any space feel more welcoming and can give an instant Tuscan feel. Think about the colours of Tuscany—blues, olives, greens, purples, maybe a splash of red. Depending on what’s in season, look for lavender, rosemary, geraniums, olive leaves, roses or perhaps even sunflowers for a big statement. Bunches of herbs of sage, thyme or oregano can look beautiful too.
- The right music will add another powerful layer of atmosphere to your feast. Unless you’re lucky enough to have musicians and singers in your family who are happy to serenade you, the easiest thing to do is to create a playlist with your favourite music provider and let it run on random repeat throughout your event.
- Remember the red wine, your camera and fairy lights (you can never have enough). Forget checking your phone, clothes with belts or tight waists.
- After all is said and done, the biggest thing you can offer to bring this feast to fruition is your love, joy, tenderness, generosity and sense of fun. That’s what will make it a night to remember.