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!

____________________

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 🙂

The publishing news I’ve been dying to share

I have been waiting a long time to share this news. Not just the past four months since my agent, Fiona Inglis, at Curtis Brown first sent out my manuscript to seven big publishers and quickly began receiving excited feedback. But for years. Fourteen years, to be precise. Fourteen years since I decided unequivocally that I wanted to be a career writer. And in that time I’ve written around ten full manuscripts and received countless rejections. Some of them lovely. Some of them rude. Some of them heartbreakingly close to success. All of them leading to this moment.

footerLogoIn January 2012, a fairy godmother of sorts entered my life. You might have heard of her? The delightful and talented Monica McInerney. Though Monica didn’t know me, something I said must have piqued her sixth sense because she very graciously shared her professional assistance. So began a journey that led to her own agent, Fiona, signing me on as well. One thing led to another and finally, I am very, very proud and excited to say that I have a contract with Australia’s largest independent publishers, Allen & Unwin, for my women’s fiction manuscript, The Tea Chest.

In the past four months, I have received three offers of contract, flown to Sydney and Melbourne, been treated to the most exquisite afternoon teas, and listened to the most insightful and flattering descriptions of my book—a book I wrote because I loved it but one I never really thought anyone else would ever read, but which has been so joyfully received by the publishers who did.

When I went to Sydney to meet with senior editor, Annette Barlow, I had no idea that the entire population of the Allen & Unwin office building was going to join us for afternoon tea. Annette led the way through an empty floor, with office chairs sitting alone in front of cubicle spaces with computer screens that had long since gone to sleep. We walked up a narrow stairway to the enclosed roof space where I could hear what sounded like a party going on above. I said just that to Annette and she smiled at me and said, ‘Well, it is a party.’ I still had no idea until I walked into the room and approximately 60 people applauded. Better yet, they had baked! They had a large row of teapots, all with beautiful teas and little cards with tea descriptions, and piles of home-made goodies of brownies and cakes and slices. Fine bone china teapots. A photographer.

Now, I’m a bit of a wallflower when it comes to parties so I took my lovely cup of Russian Caravan tea and sidled to the side of the room wondering what on earth I should do in this large crowd. Never fear. Many friendly faces came up to say hello and talk about my book. There was great excitement. And speeches. And a presentations from people on ‘what I’ve been reading’ (which, of course, turned out to be me).

To hear other people read from my book and talk about it book-club style was nothing short of an out-of-body experience for me. I was the person who’d been systematically rejected by publishers and agents for fourteen years. I truly couldn’t believe they were now sharing such love for my work.

I wanted to share this story with you because if you are like I was right up until this moment, you might feel that publishers are a bit scary. But I’m thrilled to say that they’re ‘just my cup of tea’. (Come on, who wouldn’t love a group of people who have a monthly in-house competitive bake-off?) And when they love your work, they really love it. And that is the most amazing feeling in the world.

I really want to thank Annette Barlow from the bottom of my heart, as well as all the team at Allen & Unwin who also read my manuscript and loved it, for sharing such a beautiful moment with me, for spending so many hours baking (all gluten free food, which, very sadly, I couldn’t eat because I’d had a bout of food poisoning the day before), for bringing in their own personal collections of teapots and tea doilies, and for reading out my words aloud and teaching me more about my own book than I had realised. It was an afternoon I will never forget. Big love to you all.

Thank you to Fiona for taking a chance on me and listening to my rather inarticulate, sleep deprived mummy-brain-impaired conversational skills (I flew to Sydney to meet Fiona just weeks after I’d given birth) and deciding to represent me anyway. (I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know, Fiona, that I seem to be finally getting my sentence ability and memory back.)

And of course a big thank you to Monica for starting it all by stepping in and changing my life.

Finally, to make my news just that little better, my contract includes a two-book deal. Hooray! I am working on my next novel right now, and I look forward to bringing it to you in partnership with Allen & Unwin in 2016.

My first published book, The Tea Chest, will be out in early 2014.

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!