The year so far!
I’ve had a slower start to the New Year than usual, which has been surprisingly nice. For the past five years I have released a book in January, which has meant I haven’t seen as much of my kids during the summer holidays as I would like (or had much of a break myself). This is just the reality, and I don’t mind, but I’d forgotten how nice it is to have the summer off. This year, I hung out with my kids, swam in the pool, went to the beach and took it easy. It was just what I needed.
Around mid-Jan, I returned to writing four days a week, which is also just what I needed. I enjoy a break from routine, but in general routine suits me best. Before Christmas, I submitted my latest book, The Good Sister, to my publishers and upon my return I was greeted with notes, – which is keeping me busy for now. And I’ve got a seed of an idea for the next book (hint: it involves mistletoe, mad relatives and murder).
I’m looking forward to this year, which will be a big one for me. There will be lots of events with The Secret Life of Authors, a new book out in October (fingers crossed), and a huge learning curve as The Mother In Law navigates Hollywood. Also I turn 40 in June, which I’m preposterously excited about. Unlike Lisa, I’m not one to set goals – I prefer to bluster my way through life hoping for the best – but the one goal I’ve always had is to get old. Really old. Ancient. And each year, as I creep a little closer to this goal, I think it’s worth a celebration. (Rachael butting in - I just turned 40 last month and I'm SO HAPPY about it too; lets grow old ungraciously together, Sally!)
What I've been reading:
*The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
*American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
*Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain.
The year so far!
Happy New Year everyone! I can hardly believe that we're already well into the second month of the year. Where has the time gone?
Since our last newsletter, I’ve been busy setting my writing goals for the new year (which I’ll share with you in a moment!) and preparing for the release of THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN at the end of April.
On a personal level, I had a lovely start to the New Year. David and I took our two youngest sons (20 and 16) on a short trip to Malaysia - one of our family’s favourite destinations. We saw in the New Year in Kuala Lumpur and spent a blissful week relaxing by the pool. All of us came home recharged and ready to face the year ahead.
At the beginning of each working year I like to set myself so goals for the year ahead. I revisit these goals at the end of the year to see how I’ve done. (Sort of like a performance review for myself!) Last year, my two big goals were to submit SHIRLEY SULLIVAN before I went overseas in March – tick (achieved that one!) and to finish the draft of my next book by the end of the year (er, no tick for this one.)
When I was goal setting, I hadn’t taken in account that if the SHIRLEY manuscript sold I would need to allow time for edits, proofreading etc. (I know, I know, you’d think I’d know better by now!) I was delighted when the book sold to Penguin Random House Australia, but it did mean I got behind on the draft of the next book.
So, here are my goals for this year:
Of course, in between all this writing and research, I’ll be launching THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN, going on tour with Rachael and Sally and doing my own solo events, so it looks like I’ll be in for a busy year. I love having accountability partners, so don’t be afraid to give me a nudge every now and then. Feel free to ask me whether I’m on track to meet my goals. I promise to report in at the end of the year and let you know how I got on.
- Finish the first draft of the new book by the end of April
- Finish self-edits of this manuscript by the end of June
- Research the next book by end of October. (This might include an overseas trip, so will require some forward planning.)
- Have an outline/very rough draft of the new book done by the end of the year.
What I've been reading:
*Riptides by Kirsten Alexander
*An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
*Maggie’s going Nowhere by Rose Hartley
What I'm up to this year!
As it's a new decade, and I am in dire need of a new back, I’m trying something new with my writing . Being a writer is often gruelling on your body and sitting hours upon hours crunched over a computer has taken its toll on mine. As a result, I’ll be having a back operation in a couple of weeks but going forward I want to make sure I take care of my body as much as possible and don’t find myself back in the same predicament. For this reason, I've been attempting to train myself to write by speaking rather than typing. I’m actually dictating this newsletter right now! In addition to being better for my health, I’m hoping that by dictating my novels I might be able to write faster and thus write more books.
This year I’m excited to bring you two books – a rural romance (Something To Talk About) in April and a contemporary women’s fiction (Flying The Nest) in November. Something To Talk About is linked to my last rural romance Talk of the Town, and is now completely finished. Edit are done, proofread is done, and it will be off to the printers any day now.
The first half of the year, I’ll be spending editing Flying The Nest (my least favourite part of being an author – edits are absolutely necessary and always make the book better, but I’m lazy and they’re hard and painful). While waiting for my first round of edits, I’ve already started my next book, which is a bit of a passion project for me. A few years ago I wrote a book called The Art of Keeping Secrets and since then readers have been constantly asking me for a sequel. Most of my books I will never return to, but I agree with the readers that at least one character from The Art of Keeping Secrets still has more story to tell. For this reason, I’m currently writing The Art of Moving On, which is about a woman (Flick) and her twenty-something daughter (Zoe) who have both experienced betrayal and need to let go of their grief and bitterness before they can live properly again. Possibly the most exciting part of this novel for me, is that the vast majority of it is set in New Orleans, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. The novel also features an older character, who is loosely based on Miss Havisham from Great Expectations – a character who has always fascinated me.
In the second half of the year, I’ll hopefully be editing The Art of Moving On, touring for the release of Flying The Nest, and also be writing another book, which I’m super excited about. I don’t yet have a title, but I’m already researching and thinking about the plot and the characters. Here’s a hint: there will be three women and they're all involved in a direct selling business. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
What I've been reading: I read lots of books over summer but these were my standouts!
*Where The Crawdads Sing by Celia Owens (OMG - I LOVED it)
*Three Little Truths by Eithne Shortall (everything I love in a book - a little mystery, quirky characters, a splash of romance and some serious contemporary issues handled in a light-hearted by empathetic way)
SECRET LIFE OF AUTHORS Q&A:
#1 What did you do before you were writers?
1.Brumby’s Bakery – server. My first job, which I got on my fifteenth birthday. Got free bread. Good job.
2.Sweeney Market Research – a call centre where I rang people to do surveys. True story, on my very first shift someone answered the phone and said “You people don’t deserve to live.” I did it for four years, while I was at university. Not good job.
3.Nanny. Did it for two years while I lived in London. Very cute kids. Good job.
4.Event Coordinator at an event management company. Woefully underpaid but very exciting job, where we got to meet celebrities. Good job.
5.HR advisor – I loved this job so much, mostly for the gossip and the private information we were privy to. Good job.
6.WRITER – Best job.
It was during my maternity leave from my HR role that I started writing my first book. I went back to HR part time after my first child, but it was while I was on leave with my second child that I found a publisher and became a full time writer. Hopeful that this will be my last job.
I have worked in many, many jobs. Too many to list I fear but I’m going to give it a go! In chronological order:
Some of these jobs were undertaken while I was at school or uni (shop assistant, tutor, bakery assistant, distribution manager) and some were held at the same time (I was doing Casual Relief Teaching while I was getting my Professional Organising business off the ground.) Some were held while I lived overseas (supply teacher, nanny) and some filled a gap while I was waiting for a full-time teaching position to come up (Me Books, factory hand). Some of the jobs I loved (teaching and nannying) and some I was hopeless at (supermarket manager!).
- Shop assistant at haberdashery/children’s clothing store. This store was also an agent for a dry cleaner and a bank. (Yes, I grew up in a small town)
- Office assistant at a legal firm
- Maths/English tutor
- Proof Operator at Westpac Bank
- Bakery Team Member at Super K (a Coles Kmart “hyperstore”)
- Distribution Manager for a local newspaper
- Primary school teacher
- “Supply” teacher in the UK
- Office assistant at “Me Books”
- Factory hand
- Back to full time primary teaching
- Night manager of an independent supermarket (I was teaching at the same time. I’d head to the supermarket after my teaching day finished. I was saving to go to Canada!)
- Educational consultant (presenting lectures and workshops to teachers at conferences and professional development days)
- Human Resources/Training Manager
- Casual Relief Teacher (Primary school)
- Professional Organiser. This was my own business, Simple Organising Solutions. I worked with clients to declutter their house and their lives (before Marie Kondo made it cool!)
Through all these jobs I wrote in my spare time. I never fully believed that I would one day be able to able to call myself a full-time writer, but I hoped. The great thing about having had all these jobs – even the ones I’ve hated – is that I can draw on my many experiences in my writing now. I guess I was researching all those years without knowing it!
Growing up, I always wanted to be a primary school teacher, at the very end of high school, I broke up with my boyfriend and heartbroken I started to write. I have no idea why did this, because I hadn’t been much of a reader or a writer until this point, but I think it was a form of therapy. The book I wrote – about me and him – was absolutely tragic, and not in a good dramatic, page turning kind of way, but I caught the bug. Instead of starting primary school teaching I did a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. This was probably a terrible decision (perhaps I’ll write more about that in another newsletter) and when I graduated from university, I wasn’t actually qualified to do anything.
Thus I had a number of different jobs while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing:
1) Checkout chick at Kmart (while in high school)
2) Checkout chick at Coles (while doing my degree)
3) Catering assistant and group leader at PGL - a camp company in the UK (SO much fun, learned loads about life and met some fabulous people ,but working the kitchen made me fat!)
4) Job writing the messages you hear when you get put on hold (Hey, at least it was a writing job, right? Wrong, we were paid below the minimum wage and decided to do a Dip Ed and become a teacher after all).
5) Au pair for rich people from Cheltenham in the UK (nice house, horrid people, bratty child).
6) High school English and Drama teacher (very briefly, I decided to have a baby, so I could quit work and pursue my novel writing while my baby slept ALL day – lol, oh how little I knew about babies)
7) Relief teacher
8) Library assistant in a country town (BEST job ever, especially cos I worked on Saturdays so hardly anyone came and I could read and write to my hearts content).
9) Supermarket owner and operator – loved running this country shop with my mum and hubby – and it was only three months into owning this business that I sold my first book. THE REST AS THEY SAY IS HISTORY.
10) But, when we sold the shop and I became a full time writer, I was actually less productive than when I was super busy, so recently I got a job in a bookshop to get me out of the house one day a week and I AM LOVING IT!
HAVE A QUESTION YOU WANT ANSWERED?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
Secret Life of Authors Victorian Tour Details:
- May 28 - Bayside Libraries Event (Brighton Library)
6.30 pm – 7.30 pm
Brighton Library- 14 Wilson Street, Brighton
Cost: $6. Bookings essential
Books available to purchase from Thesaurus Books
To book click here.
- May 29 - Echuca Library Event
Echuca Library - 310 Hare St, Echuca
Books available from Collins Echuca
To register your attendance click here.
- May 30 - Casey Cadina Libraries Event (Bunjil Place Library)
Bunjil Place Library - 2 Patrick Northeast Drive,
Cost: $10 includes Devonshire Tea
Books available to purchase from Robinson Books.
To book click here.
Lisa's events for THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN
May 1 - Launch event hosted by Bookgrove Ocean Grove (more details soon…)
May 26 - In conversation with Sally Hepworth
96 Parkers Rd Parkdale
Booking info coming soon!
Rachael's events for SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Book Launch LIVE – must be a member of ‘Rachael Johns Online Book Club‘ to attend!
Sunday April 19th, Mandoon Estate.
This event is only open to book club members. Ticket costs $20.00 and includes an alcoholic drink (sparking, wine, beer or cider) on arrival and pizza. Books will be available to buy from Dymocks Midland at the event – the day PRIOR to release!!!
Books in Bars – Albany
Friday 17th April
More details to come
Author Talk at Bindoon Library
Friday 1st May
6177 Great Northern Highway, Bindoon
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Free event but please register attendance here
Books will be available to purchase
Author Talk at Mundijong Library
Wednesday 22nd April
Community Resource Centre
Phone the library to book: (08) 9526 1133