Life as Jenn #rovingwriter

So there I am writing a big story at my tiny desk, when I hear the squeak of excited voices outside the caravan door. I pop my head out and see two women in a huddle. They’re pointing.
‘Hi,’ I say, slipping into my shoes. ‘I’m Jenn. Nice day!’
What transpires makes my day very nice indeed.

The women have seen my lawn sign shoved in the ground and guess what?They love my books. So there I am, in my uncoordinated Crocs, socks, shorts and T-shirt and feeling absolutely fabulously famous. We talk, they buy a book (they didn’t know my fourth one was out) and I sign it. Word spreads and soon I’m selling more books. (Let me tell you, there’s no greater feeling than taking an afternoon walk around the van park and hearing multiple new readers call out, “Just up to where blah does blah.”) There are definite positives to being Jenn, #rovingwriter. (There are also negatives. I’ll get to that).

The important message is, the only reason those ladies knew who was inside the caravan is because I told them. I have my name EVERYWHERE—and it works. (All I need now is the T-shirt!)

I’ve probably worked harder on marketing since hitting the road. And it’s the nicest kind of promo because I’m away from the computer and face-to-face with people. My response is also less awkward when someone asks what I do for a living. (It’s only taken four books!)

Since hitting the road I’m learning to be brave and make a noise (because squeaky wheels get attention. Facebook will tell you that!)

  • Every van park office, every small town coffee shop waiter gets a signed bookmark that says ‘thank you’.
  • Once set up on site, my first stop is the laundry. Travellers leave books they’ve finished in the laundry and those books need bookmarks!
  • Most caravan parks will display my Camp Kitchen Book Chat flyer, inviting fiction lovers to BYO wine for a bookish happy hour.
  • When I know where I’ll be well in advance I contact local bookshops and libraries. In Coonabarabran (this year I did a NSW mid-west tour, en route to a Mudgee Readers Festival gig) I visited the library. As I was only in town a couple of nights I hadn’t arranged a formal event, but I asked if they had a book club, and could I leave them some bookmarks? Guess what? The book club was meeting the next day and I was invited to gatecrash.

Apart from the Mudgee event itself, Tamworth was a tour highlight. Not only did my library event garner lots of attention, I scored the promotional trifecta: print, radio and a spot on the local TV news with a film crew visiting the caravan. (And I got to catch up with Len Klump—friend/reader extraordinaire.) See the media my NSW tour achieved HERE or View the TV News footage.

Why to I do all this?

So I can keep my name out there 365 days a year. (The norm in traditional publishing is a six-week (from release) publicity campaign.) While the publisher supports me with posters on my self-designed tours, I arrange the events and secure media exposure. (Cursor over for captions)

As you can see, so far I’ve knocked over the north-west of NSW (catching up with author friends along the way) and as I write this I’m making my way around Victoria in much the same way: bookshop signings, library talks, catch-ups with writing friends. (Friend me on Facebook to know where I’ll be next.)

Catching up with Nicole Alexander and Greg Barron.

So, is the #rovingwriter life all positive?

No. There are just as many frustrations, especially when Telstra makes you pay in blood for pathetically slow and mostly intermittent mobile data ($110 / mth for 20 GB!); or running out of laptop battery when the words are flowing and the solar panels don’t have enough charge. (We just bought a generator, because if you think 24 feet of caravan is small, try sharing the space with a cranky writer with a flat battery!) Although, I confess, de-stressing is not too difficult.

While I dreamed of hitting the road, my four-book contract gave me the nudge I needed and it’s fitting that I call myself Jenn, #rovingwriter. I love the roving life and Gypsy is the character from my debut novel, House for all Season, and she once dreamed of running away with the circus.

I appreciate not everyone can sell, or give up, everything to live in a caravan. But that shouldn’t keep you chained to your desk. Get out and find ways to make a noise in your community. If you have caravan parks, drop bookmarks into the laundry regularly. My car signage works a treat, too, with people tooting and waving madly. (I assume they’re adoring fans and not giving me the finger because I’ve inadvertently cut them off in traffic.)

So if you do see Jenn the #rovingwriter in your travels, please wave.

 

(Republished from RWA Hearst Talk Feb 2017) And if you are a writer and not yet a member of Romance Writers of Australia, I highly recommend you think about joining.

Author V.K. Black and Campfire Tales

When I found out a fellow Aussie author was hitting the road for five months to travel the country in I remember saying, “Oh, the places you’ll see!”

That author is V.K. Black and she’s taken her experiences and turned them into a series of short stories called Campfire Tales. So, what’s VK have to say?

You were so right, Jenn. Incredible, wonderful places. Kakadu, Litchfield Park, Broome, Uluru, a helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles, whales, off South Australia – spouts everywhere.

The office looks familiar, V.K. I have a similar one right now, but in Victoria.

The photo of me at our table is when we were camped next to a river in the Pilbara. Nice office, huh? That notepad on the table contains the first draft of Campfire Tales, which is the anthology of short stories I was writing as I travelled around Australia.

And now—drum roll please—they’re published!

Tell us about the book.

Campfire Tales follows the adventures of Ellie and Michael, a young honeymooning couple, as they travel around Australia. Most co-incidentally, Ellie and Michael follow exactly the same route around Australia that we took. All of the stories in this anthology were inspired by little things that happened, snatches of conversations we heard, and people we met.

About Campfire Tales

Hawaii? Paris? Goodness, no. On their honeymoon, Ellie and Michael travel around Australia in their battered old land cruiser, sleep in a tent, and don’t mind at all that their air mattress is always flat the next morning. They encounter a gunman at a remote campsite, help a woman dealing with emotional abuse, and meet the warring owners of an amazing caravan.

Our very-much-in-love couple make love, fight, make up, and meet people from all walks of life during their incredible adventure. So sit back with your thermos of coffee (or a glass of wine, if you’re more like Ellie and Michael) and follow our happy couple’s adventures around Australia.

Where to get the book

Available for 99 cents from Amazon and Kobo. More Buy Links can be found on V.K. Black’s Website.

Leave a reply below if you wish.

Author, Pamela Cook, gives her 21 y.o. self some advice

So, Pamela…

You’ve just turned 21 – happy birthday! Look at you in that cute little Shirley Temple outfit at your ‘S’ themed party. 🙂

I’m well over twice your age now and it makes me smile when I think back to how young and naïve you are – in a good way. Life has so much in store for you – travel, love, children and some harder things too – loss, grief, ageing. It has a few surprises lined up, which you won’t even be able to imagine right now. Knowing what I know, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt. It won’t change what happens to you of course but it might be useful to those three beautiful daughters you will raise.

So, here goes …

Stick to your plans to travel. The world is a huge, wonderful, awe-inspiring place. Meet people, learn from them, take as many photos as you can and store up the memories. They will last you a lifetime. Keeping a journal is probably a good idea too.

Cherish your friends. Take every opportunity you can to spend time with them, connect with them, love them. Some of them will come into your life for a while, then leave. Others will stay but only if you nurture the friendship. Nothing can replace the value of a good friend or the memories you make together.

Follow your passions. You may not be able to earn a living from them but that doesn’t make them any less important. Choose a job you love and can be of service in but don’t ever give up on your dreams. If there’s something you want to do, start now, keep at it and learn as much as you can along the way. Your time will come – but only if you make it happen. And believe.

Family is important. You’ll move house, travel to other places, fall in and out of love, have fantastic experiences and some horrible ones, but your family will always be there and have your back. Make sure you are always there for them in return – their love is unconditional and yours should be too. Some of your ‘family’ won’t be related by blood.

Be strong. Not just physically but in your principals, beliefs and love. Your body has to carry you into old age so take care of it. Stand up for ideals and people you believe in, speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Be there for the people you love – in whatever way they need. Muster the courage to do things that need to be done.

… I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you and you’re probably off to see a pub band or heading to a party with your friends. Enjoy that city life because (spoiler alert) one day you’ll be sitting on a verandah in the country taking in the fresh air, the gorgeous views, watching your horses (yes, horses!) graze while you work on your latest novel.

Be kind and take care,

Pamela x

Pamela Cook is a city girl with a country lifestyle and too many horses. Her rural fiction novels feature feisty women, tangled family relationships and a healthy dose of romance. Her latest book, The Crossroads, is out now. An eclectic reader, Pamela also enjoys writing poetry, memoir pieces, and literary fiction and is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. She also teaches creative writing through her business www.justwrite.net.au. When she’s not writing she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horses, Morocco and Rio.

Pamela loves to connect with readers both in person and online. You will often find her lurking in one of these places:

www.pamelacook.com.au
www.facebook.com/PamelaCookAuthor
@PamelaCookAU

[bctt tweet=” What advice does author @PamelaCookAU give her 21 y.o self? #LetterToMyself https://www.jennjmcleod.com/blog/a-letter-to-myself-author-list” username=”jennjmcleod”]

 

 This is the last letter of my 2016 blog series. Pamela tops off an awesome list of authors who each wrote a letter of advice to themselves. To see the list of contributing authors: CLICK Stand by for a fabulous new blog series in 2017.

Wanting to honour the lost art of letter writing through this blog series, I also opened my fourth novel with a character writing a letter. And not just any letter. It’s a story — perhaps the most important he’ll ever tell.

The Other Side of the SeasonReady for a sea change

Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill banana plantation on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour. One stays—trapped for the next thirty years on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . . there’s another side to every story.

BUY now from Amazon, KoboiTunes, or

Booktopia

 

OMG! Huge news. Massive. Something I’ve never done before.

I’m driving over the border into Victoria!

It’s a first. I’ve never even been to Victoria — unless you count flying into a conference in a Melbourne hotel and flying out again.

To get this far south from Coffs Harbour, the  J and I have been traversing some pretty serious hills. We don’t like hills. We particularly dislike hills that include skinny roads and narrow bridges. (Narooma, for example. We did not like that bridge much, but the town was very pretty.) I’ve discovered that the Princes Highway (did you know all these years I’ve thought it was the Princess Highway?) presents more twists and turns than a Jenn J McLeod plot?

We were ‘tempted’ to stop in Eden (NSW’s most southern coastal town) so we did. We were very weary (and extremely wary of snakes and apples in Eden). But we needed to regroup and prepare for the BIG crossing. We also had to eat all the prohibited fresh fruit and veggies because apparently, we take them over the border. (Of course, we washed them down with wine, as grapes are also on the prohibited list.)

So, it is a first. Wish us well for the last leg as we prepare to tackle a border crossing into unknown territory and take up our first Victorian property sitting job as of Saturday.

Some things we found en route:

Speaking of weather…

Can someone tell the south coast… It’s December, for Pete’s sake!

Why do I have the car heater on today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and sound advice.

NSW we love you and we will be back, but first there are places to see and people to meet, libraries to conquer and small towns to visit.

 

 

 

 

How to buy a book when it’s not in stock.

You might have guessed already, but with so many new authors being published, and established authors putting out a new book each year — ie more fabulous books to read — this readers’ boom can be the author’s bust. Therefore I thought the topic worth sharing.

Book retailers have limited shelf space so they are unable to stock every book all the time. Many books sell out and are not always replaced — even the big sellers, like House For All Season, for example. It was #5 best-selling fiction debut in 2013 but you’d be hard pressed finding a print copy because retailers have had to make way for all the other great books coming out.

So how do you buy a book when it’s not in stock? (And you know about it from the author’s backlist (that little list of titles inside the front cover.)

ASK.

Walk in, or ring, or email your retailer and they’ll order it in for you. (You want to read it. They want to sell it, and the author wants to know you enjoyed it.)

Same goes with the library? Does the book constantly have RESERVES on it? Maybe they’ll buy in another copy. Is it only in print only and not accessible as an ebook for you to borrow? There’s an option! How can you make it happen?

ASK.

Walk in, or ring, or email your local library. Librarians love to help readers.

Too easy really! There’s always Aussie online retailers of PRINT books with massive warehouses, so try Booktopia and Boomerang Books.

Yes, you may need to be patient while the order is processed, but you know good things do come to those who wait.

Now, can you help me spread the word? Oh, and let me know how I can get an ice cream when I am about 100 km away from a shop!

I have my own book shop!

What about sending a book to a special person (or yourself!) I’ll sign it, wrap it, and post it directly to them (or you). (But best you order before the end of November to guarantee delivery by Christmas.)

I must admit, getting my book shop online (and fighting with Pay Pal) drove me nuts and added to my grey hair count, but the doors are open at last and in time for Christmas.

So cheers everyone!

Let’s go shopping.From the country fence FB

 

 

Author Rachael Johns – a letter to my 17 y.o self

Dear Rach

I know you’re heartbroken right now, but don’t waste your time or money (on tissues) crying over that boy you accidentally dumped. You’ve already spent four years lusting after him and that is far too long to be chasing a boy who to be blatantly honest… is just not that into you. More fool him! But don’t worry, one day you’ll appear on breakfast TV show, Sunrise, and thank him for breaking your heart. That heartbreak is the reason you start writing in a couple of months and although you don’t know it now, writing is your calling. It’s what you were born to do.

BUT, I recommend NOT transferring from a primary school teaching degree to a writing degree. If you don’t want to do teaching anymore, take some time out and get some life experience or do another degree that you’ll actually be able to use in the big bad world. I suggest library studies, women studies or criminology – basically anything but that writing degree because it is an absolute waste of time. You don’t learn anything except that you do not want to write poetry or literary fiction.

You know how you love Bridget Jones Diary? That’s the type of book you want to write. Don’t be ashamed of it. Read as much as you can get your hands on. Try an odd romance as well – I think you’ll find you love them. Oh and while you’re at it, join an organization called Romance Writers of Australia – it might save you a lot of time and you might end up taking less than fifteen years to get published.

But don’t obsess about writing – just enjoy it. You’ll put in the hard yards and you’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, read more and don’t be such a prude. Date more boys, have fun and don’t stress so much about your body. You are NOT fat and starving yourself isn’t cool!

Soon you’ll go to England and meet your dad and your half-siblings for the first time. It will be both wonderful and heart-wrenching. Try to spend a little more time with your older sister – life takes her much sooner than it should and you’ll regret not getting to know her better.

Oh and stop dreaming up lots of lovely girls’ names for future daughters – there are only boys to come!

See you in the future.

Love your older self! xox

rachael-photoartofsecretsfinalcoverABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons.  Jilted (her first rural romance) won Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in 2012 and she was voted in the Top Ten of Booktopia’s Favourite Australian Author poll in 2013. The Patterson Girls won the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Award and also the 2015 Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction. She lives in the Perth Hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training, two fat cats, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.

Rachael loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via her website – www.rachaeljohns.com You can find Rachael on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RachaelJohnsRomance/) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns)

Latest book – THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS – Grab your copy now!

[bctt tweet=” What advice does author @rachaeljohns give her 17 y.o self? #LetterToMyself https://www.jennjmcleod.com/blog/a-letter-to-myself-author-list” username=”jennjmcleod”]

 

 To see the list of authors taking part in this letter-writing blog series: CLICK

Wanting to honour the lost art of letter writing through this blog series, I also opened my fourth novel with a character writing a letter. And not just any letter. It’s a story — perhaps the most important he’ll ever tell.

The Other Side of the SeasonReady for a sea change

Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill banana plantation on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour. One stays—trapped for the next thirty years on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . . there’s another side to every story.

BUY now from Amazon, KoboiTunes, or

Booktopia