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Dear (as yet) unpublished writers,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

2019 Writers Retreat, Gold Coast

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Calling all writers at all stages of the writing journey!

I am thrilled to be joining the 2019 Nash Agency Writers Retreat in February, alongside Rachael Johns, Haylee Nash and Alex Adsett. This inspiring and informative retreat is being held at the Cedar Creek Lodges in the rainforest of Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland.

The retreat includes writing masterclasses from myself and Rachael, publishing and pitching guidance from Haylee and Alex, as well as critiques of your work and assistance to polish your pitch to an industry professional, all while enjoying three-night’s individual accommodation with fireplaces and all meals.

This will be a supportive, fun and challenging space to allow you to grow as a writer.

The retreat runs from 11-14 February.

I can’t wait and hope to see you there!

P.S. I’m bringing chocolate and tea to my masterclass! 🙂

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Win a Manuscript Assessment with Author Michael Trant

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The next of our wonderful Australian authors who has donated his time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring writer at the same time is debut author Michael Trant. Here is some information about Michael and what he 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 Michael’s attention!

Michael’s offer will be on eBay in the FIRST round of auctions, starting 15 October, 6pm.

Welcome, Michael!

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Bio: Michael Trant is a WA country boy now based in Perth, having grown up on the family farm at Eneabba, before moving to Geraldton and then out to Yalgoo. He writes contemporary Australian fiction and his debut novel Ridgeview Station was released in June 2017.

Why are you excited to do this? I received a lot of help from established authors and look forward to be able to do the same for others

Genres: Outback/rural themed works would be my strong point, but I read a lot of fantasy, thriller and horror, though I wouldn’t feel confident offering advice on works where romance is the main plot.

 Length: 50 pages. That seems to cover what most agents/publishers ask to see first.

Communication: Email. Face to face would be great if it is practical.

 Time: One month. Nothing worse than a long wait for feedback.

Auction reserve: $99

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Interested? Of course you are! Stay tuned by following me on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog to make sure you get all the news in the lead up to this exciting event!

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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.)

 

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Author Jenn J McLeod

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The first of our wonderful Australian authors who has donated her time to raise funds for Buy a Bale and help an aspiring writer at the same time is our very own nomadic writer Jenn J McLeod. Here is some information about Jenn 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 Jenn’s attention!

Jenn’s offer will be on eBay in the FIRST round of auctions, starting 15 October, 6pm.

Welcome, Jenn!

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Bio: Australia’s nomadic novelist is best known her four Seasons novels, including House for all Seasons (the #5 Best Selling Debut Novel in 2013). Her fifth novel, A Place to Remember, was published in 2018 by Head of Zeus (UK) and is available world-wide.

http://www.jennjmcleod.com

Why are you excited to do this? How could I not support this cause? Travelling around the country in a caravan since 2014, I’ve been up close and personal to the challenges country-based communities face every day. The most testing, like drought, are Mother Nature’s doing, while some are man’s doing, like closing down libraries in order to channel funds elsewhere. I love that my small-town bookish tours, and books in general, can bring a little joy and let readers escape. I also love paying forward what I’ve learned about the curious and cryptic biz that is publishing with regionally-based writers.

Genres: Preferred: women’s fiction, romance and family saga

Submission length: Up to the first 30 pages (or so) submitted electronically (preferred): using MSWord (or a compatible text document that uses Track Changes), 12 pt Times New Roman font, A4 double spaced with 1 inch margins) with the following information: working title and genre, intended market (mainstream print/digital only), no. of POV characters, word count (actual or anticipated), a half-page outline/synopsis/blurb.

Communication: Includes reading and general assessment of the manuscript, followed by on-on-one by phone (at a mutually-agreeable time, TBC).

Reply time: Within two months (Submissions via post may take longer.)

Auction reserve: $149

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Interested? Of course you are! Stay tuned by following me on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog to make sure you get all the news in the lead up to this exciting event!

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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.)

Why I Want to Write Children’s Books

Did you know I’m still an aspiring writer? Four books published and another scheduled for 2018 and I’m still in the same place as so many other writers out there: the beginning.

My heart still burns with the passion, frustration and disappointment of the unpublished writer. Why? Because I want to be a children’s author.

Right now, I have half a dozen picture book manuscripts ‘marinating’ in my hard drive, and one young readers’ (7-10 year old) 30,000-word chapter book bursting with promise to get out into the world.

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(Me with my pony Sparky, who stars as a character in my children’s writing.)

The reality of publishing is that is is difficult to cross that magic line and become “published”; and this is even more true for those of us who aspire to be children’s authors. Like so many of you out there, I too am writing, editing, sending out for review, submitting, following competitions and so on. It still doesn’t feel that long ago that I was in this position as a totally unpublished writer. The feelings are all too familiar!

It might be tempting for me to think, oh well, I already achieved the dream of being a published author and making a living from my writing, why bother chasing another one? Here’s why I am so passionate about making this dream come true.

  • Because reading as a child changed me fundamentally as a human being and made me the writer I am today.
  • Because I am a mother, and therefore I read hundreds of books to my son and I SEE him changing with every one we read.
  • And because I am a mother, it would be my greatest joy and honour to be able to cuddle up with him in bed and read to him a book that I wrote myself.
  • Because I want my son to be able to read Australian stories written by Australian authors.
  • Because in my heart I am an educator (and former English teacher), and being able to read and write is the number one skill a human being can have to empower her to change her life. And literacy begins in the laps of the parents who read to their children.
  • And finally, and probably most pressingly, because I have scores of stories and characters bumbling around in my head who are desperate to get out there into the world!

So here I am, an aspiring author, working away invisibly alongside so many other aspiring authors, wanting to write the best books I can possibly create to bring the greatest gifts to the world.

Write on!

 

A Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions

Happy new year! Have you made any resolutions yet? I’ve set my three writer’s resolutions. But before I get onto that, let’s check out how I went with 2013’s writing resolutions.

2013 Resolutions: How did I go?

  1. I’m not going to read anything I’m not loving. Okay, I give myself points for thinking about this a lot. Alas, I did read quite a few things that I didn’t absolutely love. This is still a work in progress for me.
  2. I’m going to put my writing first. I think I did a pretty good job at this. It didn’t work every day but on the whole I set boundaries and was pretty strong about keeping them. Well done me!
  3. I’m going to decorate my writing room. Sigh. We moved house in September so (a) I didn’t see any point in putting lots of effort into my last writing room, and (b) I’ve been so flat out since we moved that not a lot of prettying has gone into my new room. I’m calling this a ‘let’s try again’ for 2014.

So, okay, not perfect, but not too bad. Now, to 2014.

  1. Stay calm, and have a cup of tea. I’m a bit of a Nervous Nelly at the best of times, but with my first book coming out in April, there’s a lot going on to push my buttons. Last weekend, The Courier-Mail published a very lovely article, ‘Pick of Books with Success Written All Over Them’, about upcoming books and included little-old-me in their picks for 2014. Whoa, Nelly! Some people would get a lot of confidence from an article like that. Me? I think, Holy Cats, What if I Fail?!?!? So, that brings me back to the staying calm and drinking tea–breathe, Joey, breathe. I need to remember that it’s not just me out there. I have an exceptional, proven publishing team behind me that have made countless good choices in their careers so I need to trust, trust, trust. 1533928_256008861229448_473962003_n1545544_256008901229444_56344808_n
  2. Turn guilt to gratitude. Like most mums out there, I want to believe that I can do it all. Of course, I can’t. I need to ask for help and be grateful when it arrives. When the nanny turns up to look after Flynn for four hours so I can do some work, I’m going to practise being excited about that and not guilty. When the invoice comes to pay that nanny, I’m going to practise feeling blessed, not guilty. And when the cleaner turns up to organise the house back to a level of workable sanity, I’m going to practise feeling thankful that I get to prioritise quality time with my toddler rather than the vacuuming. 1528547_256008884562779_1775505474_n
  3. Protect the creative process. There’s a lot of advice out there to tell aspiring writers to treat your job like any other day job. And there’s something to be said for that. Hours at the keyboard count. It is the only way a book will be written. But, at the same time, writing isn’t a normal job. And as Julia Cameron constantly tells us, we need to stock the well before we can take from it to create something new. I am a workhorse. I am built to work. What I find hard to do is play. But it is only by playing that I can stock the well in order to produce fresh, inspiring content. I might be naturally a Clydesdale in nature, but I need to let my unicorn out to play much more than I do if I want to find the magical moments.

So there are my three resolutions for this year. (Plus, I’ll throw in some room decorating too.) Help keep me honest, please! What are your resolutions for the year? I’d love to hear them 🙂

Top 12 Sludgy Brain Activities for Writers

The sludge has hit the fan.

Sludgy brain days

Sludgy brain days

My brain is liquid tar. The reasons are pretty simple: a bubbalicious who doesn’t yet sleep through the night, the fourth day in a row of extreme heat in south-east Queensland (hence less sleep), storms that send one of our dogs into frantic drooling terrified mess (hence even less sleep), and that general worn out feeling you get at this time of year anyway as the life pace cracks its relentless whip to muster you towards Christmas day.

But I do like to try to do something towards my writing each day, even if it’s very small. How do you keep going when the sludge hits? Here’s my Top 12 activities to do when the sludge hits and no amount of coffee, fresh air, face slapping or hot-coal-walking will move it.

  1. Read. Our job as writers is first and foremost to read. No reading is ever a waste of time. It is valuable. It is research. It is educational. It’s relaxing. And it’s fun! Read, read, read.
  2. Watch DVDs. Seriously. Similar to reading (though obviously not as good), television and movies (when carefully chosen) can be a rich source of compost for the fertility challenged mind. This is a particularly great option if you’re researching another time period or another city or country. YouTube is also a fantastic source of research and often even better because it’s raw, without the gloss and professional spin.
  3. Pull out those literary magazines and association newsletters you’ve got stashed under the fruit bowl or nappy bag and catch up on snippets of tips, info and trends in the writing and publishing world.
  4. Fossick in magazines. Look for pictures of houses, people, products or anything that might be useful as inspiration for your book, grab some scissors and glue and act like a six-year-old and cut them out and paste them onto a vision board.
  5. Writer admin. This can be a trap for procrastination, but it’s still a good alternative to eating a block of chocolate and moaning about how tired you are. (I can speak from experience. The most oft spoken sentence in our house in the past six months is ‘I’m soooo tired!’ Yep. We know. Can’t fix it. But you can try to work around it.) Admin includes activities like buying that domain name; renewing your membership to the Queensland Writers Centre or Romance Writers of Australia; sending emails of enquiry; or even mindlessly entering receipts into your tax bookkeeping system.
  6. Now’s a great time of year to buy a year wall calendar and plan out your 2013 writing career. Take in the overview of the whole year. What goals do you have and how you can plan to achieve them? If you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo in November, what else would need to move over to make room for that? When do you plan to have holidays? Are you travelling? When are the writers festivals? Are there courses of study to do? And, oh yeah, when do you plan to write that 90,000 words??
  7. Internet research and Google map walking. God bless the internet. Seriously. If you’re writing a story set in another city or country, the internet is the most valuable tool you’ve got. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent satellite walking the streets of London. And if you need scientific research, a sludgy brain can often deal with writing down facts and numbers that you can go back to later.
  8. Write blog posts, Facebook updates and Twitter tweets and schedule them ahead of time. Okay, so I’m writing this blog post on a sludgy brain day, and it mightn’t be the most witty and entertaining thing I’ve ever written, but for some reason dealing with non-fiction is far easier for my sludgy brain than characters who may or may not want to play the game by the rules I’ve set for them. But social media is an important part of the business of writing and better you get it out the way on a day like today rather than on a day when you’re all fired up to write, write, write.
  9. Go for the experiential. If all of the above it too hard, and you think you will vomit if you look at the computer screen, try going for the experiential. My current book waiting for publication is about tea and the business of designing teas. Many an hour I spent picking random things from my garden and pouring boiling water over them to see what would happen. Unfortunately, my current book revolves around chocolate so the experiential… well, let’s just say my waistline isn’t going to benefit the same way my story will.
  10. Contact a writing friend. It’s so important to keep a close support network of writerly friends to share the creative journey. No one will understand you like another writer will. Phone or email and make a date in your diary to catch up and talk all things books and adjectival.
  11. Buy new stationery. Yes, I’m a nerd. But I don’t find too many things more inspiring and motivating than new stationery! Pens, notebooks, planners, rulers, paper clips… love, love, love.
  12. Clean your office or writing space. Can’t see your keyboard for the pile of unpaid bills and unfolded washing sitting on it? No brains needed for this activity. Just some mindless muscle. A brilliant last resort and one that tends to clear the way for a new flurry of activity tomorrow.

So, no excuses! Sludge be gone!