Updated: Authors for Farmers

promo authors

Authors for Farmers

Giant Raffle

100 Books on Offer with money going to Buy a Bale

Buy tickets here

1st prize: 75 books by Australian authors

2nd prize: 15 books by Australian authors + $30 Dymocks gift card

3rd prize: 10 books by Australian authors

BUY NOW

Authors include: Liane Moriarty, Monica McInerney, Nick Earls, Rachael Johns, Sally Hepworth, Kate Forsyth, Kelly Rimmer, Liz Byrski, Mark Brandi and so many more!

Open to Australian postal addresses only. Books will be posted directly to the winners from the authors. Prize drawn 2 October 2018.

How to Write a Book (for those who want to, but have a hundred excuses not to).

Consider this post both a gentle, supportive hug, and also a loving butt kick. I’ve had too many conversations in the past month with beautiful, talented, creative women that go something like this:

  • “Yeah, I’d love to write a book but I don’t want to do it and have it be bad.”
  • “I don’t want to write a book and have people criticise it.”
  • “I’d love to write a book but I know it’s so hard to get anything published [and therefore why would I bother].”
  • “I really want to write a book but I know hardly anyone makes money out of it and I need to be able to support myself… I can’t give up my day job.”

Look, to be blunt, none of this is new. All of this has been said before, by me and every other person with a creative wish. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “your fears are boring”. (Ouch! Hurts just a bit, doesn’t it?)

People get so messed up in their heads thinking about the outcome of their creative project that they fail to even start it.

And in my experience, what happens to your book  after it is finished is largely out of your hands. You have very little control over it after it leaves your laptop and flies off into the world.

Maybe it will sell, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will start a revolution across the world, or maybe it will change a single person’s life and help them through a difficult time. Maybe it will make you really rich, or maybe it will pay a phone bill, or maybe you’ll end up in debt.

Like bringing a child into the world, there is only so much you can do to protect, shepherd and guide her where you want her to go. She has her own journey.

Is this poking at your deepest fears? Can you feel your stomach knotting and your breathing constrict?

Here is something terrifying.

That fear never goes away.

I emailed my lovely fairy godmother, Monica McInerney, not long after getting my contract for The Tea Chest and The Chocolate Promise and asked her how to deal with the paralysing fear that was stopping me writing. She laughed (lovingly) and told me it wouldn’t ever go away and she was going through it right then too, on her tenth novel.

Julia Cameron, master of living a creative life (and famed author of The Artist’s Way) confesses in her book, The Creative Life, that as time goes on, the mind’s tricks, which it plays to stop us from writing, only get trickier.

Please, beautiful people with creative dreams, don’t be a slave to the ego’s fear.

You are stronger than that. You are wiser.

Accept it.

Name it, if you like. (My creative monster, my ever present fear, is called Maureen. Julia Cameron’s is called Nigel.) It is like an unwanted relative. You can’t get rid of it. It will always be at the table, eating your food.

Give it a job if you like. Many years ago, I listened to my saboteur tell me that everything I wrote was crap, turned to the corner of the room and said, ‘Really? Thanks for that feedback. Now go do something useful and find me a book contract.’

But please, write.

Please write.

Write.

Write for the sake of writing. Write because you want to. Write because in this hour, this day, that is what your soul calls you do to. Write because you love it. Write because you have something to say.

What happens to it after that?

It’s irrelevant. The important thing is that you wrote.

Much love,

Jo x

 

 

Random Acts of Fairy God-people

 

MGB

MGB

Michael Gerard Bauer, I’m looking at you.

On my (rather excessively long) journey to publication, I’ve had some fairy god-people types appear every now and then. The most obvious of which was Monica McInerney. But there have been others, and one of them was Young Adult fiction writer, Michael Gerard Bauer, an author of fantastically entertaining, witty, funny and sensitive stories for young people. And one year, I met Michael. It was at the CYA Conference in Brisbane. It was afternoon tea time and (with no disrespect intended) I had been wondering all day long why I was there. I’d been to CYA before, and thought it was great. But I think, this particular year I simply had a deep knowing that I was on the wrong path. (And as it turns out, I was. I wasn’t a YA author after all but a women’s fiction author.)

At any rate, I found myself standing with a cup of tea next to MGB and decided to say hi and tell him how much I loved his books. Our conversation lasted a handful of minutes but Michael was so very lovely and asked me a lot of questions about myself and my writing. Along the way, I confessed that I was feeling very disheartened and frustrated, like I was always getting oh-so-heartbreakingly-close to publication but falling at the last minute. The conversation moved on, with Michael telling me how amazing it is to have a publisher say they want to publish your book, and how much he still felt that thrill, even after many books on the shelf.

My poster that was taped to the bathroom window

My poster that was taped to the bathroom window

And then he looked at me, straight in the eye, and from no where said, “And you are going to feel that too, very soon.”

Chills went down my spine. THIS was why I was at that conference. So MGB could touch me with his fairy wand.

(I’ll give you a moment to process that image.)

I don’t know why Michael said it; we’ve not spoken since so I don’t know if he knows (or even remembers that conversation). But I drove home not long after that, feeling elated–like I’d been blessed by a very hairy fairy-god-man. It felt (and there’s no other way to say this) transformative. Like, because he’d said it then it must be true.

And a little less than two years later, I’d been signed by my agent and The Tea Chest sold shortly after.

And because I’m one of those odd people that put things on posters and tape them to the walls, I had printed out those words as soon as I got home from the conference. I didn’t ever want to forget them.

(And I’m sure that Michael is right now checking his doors are locked as there is a crazy stalker person out there who keeps photos of him on their board in their office. It’s okay, Michael, truly. No photos, I promise.)

They sat taped to the bathroom window for a long time, then came off one day when I was cleaning the glass and I stashed the paper under the sink. I forgot about it until we moved house in September 2013, found it, packed it, then found it again in our new place, just last week. (Let’s just overlook what this says about my housekeeping skills.)

I have now let that tatty, slightly mildewed piece of paper go, but I first wanted to photograph it and post it here to let all aspiring writers know to look for signs (okay, tea drinking, bearded men with glasses) that randomly come your way to let you know you’re on the right path. They’re out there. Oh yes they are.

(So too are the crazy people who will write down your words and tape them to the door….)

My Justification for a Personal Assistant

Recently, I was lying in bed, awake, when I was hit with the 2 am terrors. I had stuffed up. Big time. You’ve had that happen, haven’t you? You did something a while back and your subconscious takes ten days to process what you did and then decides to remind you in the middle of the night?

You see, I’d had one of those de-cluttering fits that sweeps through the house every now and then, the type that end in three piles: keep, sell, give away. And while I am loathe to muck around with books, I simply do have to accept that I am not a national library and therefore must manage my book collection in some way so I don’t die, trapped in my own house because I can’t climb over the towers of tomes to get to the door (or end up as the lead story on World’s Worst Hoarders). My three piles, in the case of the books, was restricted to just two: trade-in, and lend-to-a-friend-for-guaranteed-return. And in that second pile was my copy of Monica McInerney’s The House of Memories, which she had written in for me when I met her in 2012.

Now, you may know that I adore Monica and her work and it was in fact because of her that I cracked my first publishing deal, so I am sure you realise how special that book was to me. And if you have any sense of storytelling, you probably realise that, at 2 am, I did in fact jolt straight up in bed, heart pounding, with seeping, cold dread filling my belly with the absolute certainty that you can only have at that time of the morning because…

photoI had accidentally put The House of Memories in the wrong pile.

Yes, friends, I had traded my personalised copy of the book by the very woman who voluntarily and generously jumpstarted my career, and I had done it for just $5.

How? How could this have happened?!

Simple, really. I have too many balls in the air and working extra long hours due to a perfect storm of deadlines, events and an energetic toddler combined with a temporary absence of childcare or home help and a husband also working extra long hours

AND… I’ve given up sugar and coffee. How crazy is that?

So, on the day of book trade-in, I had dumped the bag of novels unceremoniously on the counter of the bookstore before sprinting after the little running bookstore bandit who was making a beeline straight for a pyramid display of perfectly-sized pocketbooks to hurl into orbit, ripping open a packet of pink pig stickers at the same time, and I didn’t stay to watch the trade-in from the pile that contained my precious copy of Monica’s book. The toddler continued to rampage around the bookstore and eats pages so I hoisted him under my arm, shouted to the store person for the total sum of my trade-in, grabbed a few books in return (as well as the pink pig stickers that I now had to purchase) and left before toddler could cause some sort of building collapse.

And now, it was 2 a.m., ten days later, and my subconscious had done its work and finally alerted me to the problem.

There was much hand-wringing and fretting about my book, where it had gone, what the new owner was thinking about the message inside, and wondering how on earth I was going to tell Monica (or even if I should — but I was certain if I didn’t, the new owner would email her and tell her she had her book and wondered what it was all about, and then Monica would know and think I was an ungrateful wretch and… well, you get the picture…)

I went back to the store the next day and, blessed be, there, high up on the shelf out of easy eye access, was my book! Bless their haphazard shelving! I bought it back again and took it home, the little lost sheep who’d wandered off on its own back on the shelf with the rest of the treasured flock.

This all happened in the same span of time in which (a) I realised I’d been washing the dishes in floor cleaner for more than a week, and (b) despite the fact that I was doing washing every day, for some inexplicable reason, I had NO clean underwear and had to resort to wearing my husband’s Jockeys. (TMI? Forgive me.)

Look, all of this ‘stuff’ going on in my life is great. (Well, not so much the washing, I could without that.) But if I’m going to have so much stuff going on then I need some management tools, yes? Yes. So, I’ve learnt three things from this episode:

1. If there is only half of my brain on duty at a time, I need to check everything twice to make sure a whole brain is on board. (That makes mathematical sense to me.)

2. When it comes time for me to sign books, I now know not to ever write anything particularly personal or anything I don’t want other people to read because that book could end up anywhere.

3. I need a personal assistant. Case closed. Keep an eye out for my job ad, which you’ll see soon, providing I don’t throw it into the washing machine on a hot super sudsy cycle with the hose conveniently positioned to drain into the electrical circuits of the dryer, thereby starting a house fire.

International Women’s Day – Inspirational Women in Literature

Fan girl moment

Fan girl moment

This weekend is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate, my publishers, Allen & Unwin, invited me to write a piece on a woman in literature (either author or character) who has inspired me. And I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather write about than Monica McInerney. To read how she changed me life, go to the A&U blog series. Enjoy!

In My Library: The House of Memories by Monica McInerney

Monica's latest book

Monica’s latest book

Last night I finished reading Monica McInerney’s latest book, The House of Memories.

I was a tad nervous about reading this book–sad subjects are really not my preferred storyline. But I know what a wonderful storyteller Monica is and therefore I entered the world of Ella and her family feeling safe in Monica’s hands.

There are sad moments, yes. But they are handled with such skill and sensitivity that in no way will you be left feeling bludgeoned or overwhelmed. It’s a beautiful book, executed perfectly. A very clever, touching and deep book, one that will resonate with you for long after the last page.