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Dear Readers,
 
Welcome to our June newsletter. It has been an unprecedented few months, and before we dive into our updates, we wanted to check in with you. This period has been HARD. If you are feeling sad, depressed, upset, please know that you are not alone. We have a tribe here at The Secret Life of Authors, and you are part of it. Which means, if you need support, you have it. If there is anyone who feels they don’t have anyone to turn to, connect with someone in the group. Connect with us. You are not alone.
 
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our updates.
 
Sally, Lisa and Rachael.

Sally Hepworth

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Rachel Johns

WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

Like the rest of you – I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. I’ve been working from my home office which has had its good and bad points (good: no travel time, bad: thousands of children and a snoring dog in close proximity). I’ve also recently, after a lifetime of avoiding exercise with all of my being – started doing Pilates each morning. And, in usual Sally style, I have taken to it with enormous enthusiasm – buying all the gear, downloading all the apps, spending all the money – which means, invariably, that I will spontaneously lose interest sometime in the next 3-6 weeks. At best. Which means, if anyone is looking for any top-of-the-range Pilates equipment come August, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

COVID – the good
Unlike Rachael and Lisa, I haven’t had a book release to contend with during this lockdown, but I have enjoyed watching along as they navigated this unchartered road. A few things I have enjoyed included:
A live-streamed library event that Lisa and I did, whereby we failed to notice that streaming had started and continued our conversation about whether Lisa’s dress was voluminous or not for several seconds for the amusement of viewers at home.
Lisa’s virtual launch of The Secret Life Of Shirley Sullivan,
And, of course,
All the read alongs we have hosted on our Facebook page, The Secret Life of Authors.

COVID – the bad
All the children at my house. (There is only three, but they are utter savages and each one feels like it is worth ten).
Zoom calls. Don’t get me wrong. I like staying at home in my slippers as much as the next person. But if I have to ask one more time if someone can hear me, or cope with hearing my own voice echoing in my ear while I try to talk.
The library. I miss it. I miss the people watching, I miss the librarians, I miss the books.

WRITING UPDATE:
I am just about finished messing about with edits on The Good Sister. And I am having a great time in the first draft of my next book, which I’m currently calling Her Father’s Daughter, but this title will likely change.

WHAT HAVE I BEEN READING / WATCHING / LISTENING TO?
I have read some great books lately. Some notable favourites:
The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
I Give My Marriage A Year by Holly Wainwright (out August this year)
The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin

Sally xxx
 
There are people (and dogs!) everywhere in this freaking house!
The new Emily Giffin book arrived!
Sally in her home office, day in, day out.

Lisa Ireland

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WRITING THROUGH COVID
 
The Good:
 
Unlike many writers, I’m not an introvert. I like spending time with others, and although I do spend a lot of time at home alone because of my work, I rarely let a day go by without some sort of social interaction. So, to be perfectly honest, I struggled with the lockdown restrictions. Not that I didn’t support the restrictions – I wholeheartedly did and do – but I’ve found the time in relative isolation hard.
 
I think it was particularly difficult for me to come to terms with the restrictions because I had a new book coming out. Instead of touring around the country like I’d planned, I found myself stuck in my house staring at my own image (least favourite thing EVER!) as I livestreamed and recorded video footage to replace the cancelled events.
 
When we decided to write about this topic for the newsletter, I knew I would struggle to come up with the ‘good’ part of isolation, but every cloud has a silver lining right? Right? *shrugs*
 
The silver lining for me has been all the lovely people who’ve supported my release. Once people realised that authors who had an upcoming release would be negatively impacted by the restrictions, they rallied to provide whatever assistance they could. I’ve had book bloggers and podcasters contacting me to help promote the book. I’ve met other authors who’ve had releases during this time, and we’ve all supported each other, which has been truly lovely – and I’ve made some new friends along the way. Readers have gone out of their way to get hold of my book, which has made me truly grateful. I had primed myself for a really bleak launch period, but it’s been anything but. A big part of that has been The Secret Life of Authors Facebook Group and I want to say thank you to every single member of the group for their support of me and of the book!
 
 
The Bad:
 
If I were to list ALL the things that were bad about this time, we’d be here forever! I also don’t want to tip any of you over into a depressed state, so I’ll try to keep this section brief! I think the worst thing for me (apart from dealing with Covid hair) has been trying to manage my emotions through this period. It’s not lost on me that in many ways my family has been lucky. We haven’t been too badly affected financially and none of us have been sick. I’m very grateful for that and I almost feel that I don’t have the right to complain too much. But still, I’ve found this time hard. I suffer from anxiety and the two main ways I deal with that – exercise and social interaction – have been curtailed during this period. It took me ages to adapt to the “new normal” and just when I’d come to terms with being a couch-dwelling sloth, the restrictions began to ease. Strangely, this hasn’t brought the relief I thought it would. I guess I don’t deal well with change!
 
What I’ll continue:
 
One of the great things about the lockdown was the online connection with others. In The Secret Life of Authors we developed Read Alongs for the lockdown period. This was an effort to keep our readers connected and entertained during isolation. We were thrilled at the reception to these virtual get-togethers and have decided to keep them going. I’ve also learned quite a few new technological skills during this time! For example, I had to get my own YouTube channel for a library event I was doing. I’m thinking of using that to record more content for readers and aspiring authors. I guess I have to say thanks to Covid-19 for forcing me to learn new skills that I can now continue to use to connect with readers.
 
What I’ve been doing:
 
Talking my head off about the new book! Seriously, if you haven’t seen me online chatting about The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan, you must be one of the rare few. I’ve done radio interviews, podcasts, livestreams and pre-recorded videos for a number of outlets, which has kept me super busy. I feel like I have talked non-stop from April 28 until today. Not that I’m complaining! I feel incredibly grateful that there’s so much interest in the book and most of you will know I do like to chat!
 
What I’ve been reading:

So much! If you are really keen to see all the books I’ve read this year, hop on over to Goodreads and follow me there. According to my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge stats I’ve read 22 books so far this year. I’ve just finished The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman, which I loved! I’m currently reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas.

 

Rachael Johns

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Lisa Ireland

Rach’s Ramblings:
 
Guys, we need to talk about my eyebrows!!! I am a VERY hairy person. In my natural state I have a monobrow, but the world has not seen it since 1992 when I tried to wax it myself with a DIY kit Mum had in our bathroom cupboard. It wasn’t pretty. I learnt my lesson. Mum took me to a beautician to fix it up and ever since then I’ve left my eyebrow grooming to the professionals, but a few months ago, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, we saw the beginning of a global pandemic and suddenly the world as we knew it changed dramatically. People went crazy buying toilet paper; Sally became an influencer, Lisa went mad cleaning; and restaurants, pubs, libraries, gyms and BEAUTY SALONS among other things were forced to close.
 
There didn’t seem to be any warning! I went from being able to get my eyebrows waxed whenever the need arose, to not knowing when I might ever be able to again. I’m not particularly a vain person – I’m terrible at hair and make-up – but this also coincided with the launch of my new book (SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT icymi). At first, I thought it didn’t matter – all my library events and my tour with Lisa and Sally in Victoria were cancelled, so who cared if my eyebrows got a little overgrown and I grew a moustache? (Let’s not even talk about my legs). But then, the world just went EVEN MORE online. Suddenly I had live video chats on FB, Zoom meetings and even a You Tube session to promote my new book, so I had to WAX MY OWN EYEBROWS!!!!
 
Apart from this I have to admit my life didn’t change as much as some of my friends. Being an author, I pretty much hibernate in my house most of the time and I’m lucky that my husband is a supermarket manager, so although he’s been busy, his job is pretty safe. My mum lives with us so I got to continue seeing her through all the social distancing restrictions. Here in WA we’ve probably had it a bit easier than the Eastern States – our bookstores stayed open (thank God) and our kids only ended up having a couple of weeks off school, but I have mentioned my eyebrows?!!
 
Our most intense period of restrictions, also coincided with me recuperating from a back operation (I’m doing well, thanks for asking) so I’d have been stuck at home because I couldn’t drive anyway and had planned a bit of downtime before it was forced upon many of us. These were a few of things I wanted to achieve during this time:
  1. Actually finish a knitting project, which I’d never managed before despite many attempts! TICK – so far, I’ve now made three beanies and am almost finished a 2-metre long Dr Who scarf. Next up, I’m planning on knitting myself a jumper. Here’s hoping I finish before winter ends.
  2. Finish the 1000-piece cat puzzle I attempted over the summer and then packed up. FAIL! In my defence it’s harder than it looks.
  3. Watch more TV! I never understand how my friends seem to manage to fit in reading, writing AND TV watching, but I’m pleased to report I upped my game over the past few months. I’ve now watched ALL of Doctor Doctor, Virgin River, Kim’s Convenience and am well into Sweet Magnolias. What do you recommend I watch next?
While I hope to continue my knitting and TV watching in the future, I think I might be giving up on the puzzle and I’m pleased to report just today I booked an appointment with my beautician. I will NEVER take her for granted again!
 
 
Writing update:
It’s been a busy few months. In addition to releasing a book, I’ve finished the copy edits on FLYING THE NEST (which is out this November) and it’s now with the typesetters getting all prettied up before it heads to the printers. I also recently hit 65k words on HOW TO MEND A BROKEN HEART (previously titled THE ART OF MOVING ON). I keep trying to write shorter books so hope I’m over halfway done on this one, but who am I kidding? I probably have at least another 65k to go!
 
What I’ve been reading:
  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James – OMG I LOVED this book. It’s a mystery story set in a creepy old haunted hotel and I devoured it in one sitting (which is huge for me as I’m quite a slow reader).
  • Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates – I was lucky enough to score an advanced reading copy of this book, which isn’t out in Aus until September and I adored it. It’s exactly the kind of feel-good, emotional fiction that I love to read and hope I write.
Copyright © 2020 Sally Hepworth, All rights reserved.