An author, 20 years in the making. Trust me, there’s still time for you.

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Dear (as yet) unpublished writers,

I realised recently that this year it is has been 20 years since I declared I wanted to be a full-time career author. Twenty years! That might have made me feel the teensiest bit old.

(Do you know what else made me feel old recently? My six-year-old came home from school and told me he’d joined the junior choir and they were learning John Mayer’s song, Waiting on the the World to Change. I was thrilled. When I was six years old, I also joined the junior choir and do you know what was the first song I was taught? God Save the Queen!!! I’m not even joking. The second song was Advance Australia Fair. Yep.)

Anyway, back to the writing thing…

I still remember that moment well. It was 1999 and I was in my first year teaching. I had gone to a weekend workshop with the Queensland Writers Centre. I was so inspired that I had a ‘full body moment’ where I decided this is it. This was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wish I could remember who the teacher was that day. Clearly, she was so inspirational that she changed my life.

I’ve been writing ever since, short stories, poetry, flash fiction, contemporary novels, kids books, non-fiction, newspaper and magazine articles, online articles. Not all of it has been published. Not all of it is good. Most of it didn’t make any money. Sometimes it was exhilarating and sometimes heartbreaking. I made friends, a community. I won some prizes, was shortlisted for some, and on one memorable occasion was ranked in the last (i.e. considered ‘worst’) twenty-five per cent of entries.

It all changed in 2012 when I was signed by an agent. My first book, The Tea Chest, was published in 2014, but it was actually the tenth full-length manuscript I had written.

Sometimes, you’ll hear about a writer who just decided to write a book and it got published. If you’ve been slogging away for years and years at your craft, this can be deflating. But everyone’s journey is so different. A writer might publish one book and never publish another ever again. Another writer might publish a book and it’s a runaway hit, only to never have another book live up to the first one’s sale ever again. Another writer might write twenty books and make the same amount of money as the one with the mega hit, just over a longer time period. Another writer will start with modest sales and then build, and build and build.

There’s still time and space for you too. Perhaps you just haven’t truly found ‘your voice’ yet–that important but difficult to describe quality to your work. Perhaps you’re just not writing in the genre that’s right for you yet. Perhaps the timing of the market just isn’t there to support your work yet. Yet. Most writers I know slogged it out for years before they were published. You’re definitely not alone.

This year, I am blessed to have two books hitting the shelves (fiction, with The Gift of Life in April, and non-fiction with Buddhism for Meat Eaters in July), bringing my list of published books to seven. Seven doesn’t sound like a lot, I know. But writing is a slow game, a long game, and you’re going to need stamina to turn it into a career. There’s no one path to publication and no guarantees of outcomes after publication. It’s a game of luck as much as skill. The thing that keeps you going, the thing that must be there to keep you going, is passion. You write because you have to. You write for love. You write for the bliss moment, the moment when the real world falls away and it’s just you racing to keep up with the story your characters are telling. There is no other way.

Write on!

p.s. the story of my little red typewriter is here

Write Your Own 8 Word Story

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Four books published but there is something rather special about these eight words This is a GOA billboard at Moorooka showing off my 8-word story. Thank you to Queensland Writers Centre for choosing my wee tale.

Such a fun and fabulous program to get art out onto the street. I remember only too well all the days of sitting in traffic and it would have been such a lovely thing to have little fairy drops of literature to feed my soul along the way.

Want to play along? You still have time to enter your own 8-word story! Just tweet it with the hashtag #8wordstory and tag the Queensland Writers Centre. Or go to https://8wordstory.com to enter online by Friday 24 November.

Kunara — a health foodie’s dream

Dear friends,

As Australia’s first foodie fiction author, I take my position seriously and therefore I have decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for you and eat my way around the Sunshine Coast in order to let you know what’s out there. No, please, no need to thank me. It’s my service to you 😉 To keep my spirits boosted during this obviously arduous task, I’ve enlisted the assistance of my friend, Kitchen Coach Ashley Jubinville (of the amazing “bee cake” fame). Together, we will eat on your behalf.

The obvious place to start is at Kunara, the organic superstore that is fast becoming the power centre of what the Sunshine Coast does best: health. Not only is there the organic supermarket itself, but organic cotton clothing, an organic hair salon and day spa, a holistic vet, holistic doctors, organic garden centre, organic butcher and more on the way.

In the cafe you’ll find everything a food sensitive soul would want: coconut milk cappuccinos, paleo chocolate desserts, golden turmeric mylk, vegan pastries and more.

One of the most delightful things about Kunara’s cafe is the outdoor seating that is situated within their garden shop, with the sound of the natural (and spectacular) water feature nearby. It’s a tranquil little space and we both agree it’s rather special. The other thing we particularly loved today was the gluten free spinach and feta roll. Wow! (If you’re not gluten free you won’t understand how exciting this is. For me, I’ve been gluten free for twenty-five years and this is the first one of these I’ve seen in that time. Trust me, it’s a big deal.) Ashley and I are strictly gluten free and to stumble across one of these was a first for both of us. And it didn’t disappoint. Go get one!

And for a bit of trivia, Kunara even features in The Beekeeper’s Secret.

Until next time,

Jo x

 

 

Nappies and Vomit Do Not Romance Writing Make

Let’s face it, there isn’t much that’s either romantic or sexy about motherhood. If it’s not the pervasive stains (and odour) of regurgitated formula, or the endless repetition of This Old Man playing knick-knack-paddywhack (what on earth is that anyway?), or the continual sense of chaos in the house, or that you ran out of facial scrub a month ago and keep forgetting to get more, it’s the fact that through sheer exhaustion and the fact that you have five minutes before your baby needs you again that you can’t even manage to wash your hair.

How then does a girl live the writer’s dream and conjure up images of romance and sexiness when the only fantasy she harbours is for four hours (let’s not be greedy) of uninterrupted, deep sleep?

I plan to take my bedraggled self to the Queensland Writers Centre this Sunday for a Masterclass in romance writing with prolific romance author, Anna Campbell. I’m hoping Anna’s expertise can help me contact my inner romantic woman, who is currently helping my characters, Leila and Lucas, strengthen their compelling storyline.

The littlest man romance

Anna, your timing couldn’t be more perfect. But please know that if I yawn the whole way through your masterclass it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the littlest man in my life with whom I’m having a romance of an entirely different kind.