Monthly Archives: May 2014
I have a confession to make: I’m a slow reader. 😦
But in contrast, I’m a fast writer. 🙂
Information and news and technical stuff, I can read fast, but fiction… for some reason I take a lot longer. Maybe I just want to savour what’s happening with the characters and take my time to really feel the setting, or maybe it’s that when I read fiction my mind starts getting ideas for my own books (*note to aspiring writers – once you start writing, you will NEVER read books the same way again!).
There are SO MANY GREAT BOOKS out there right now that I want to read, and I get frustrated when I can’t get through them all. However, five months into 2014 and I have been reading more than usual and making more time for reading. It’s not just about the speed you read when you’re actually reading, but taking opportunities throughout the day to get a few pages in to increase your total reading time and get through more of those wonderful stories.
Here are some of the tips I’ve found helpful to make more time to read (some of these work best when reading ebooks, as digital books can be on your smartphone ready to whip out when needed):
- Waiting in a supermarket or post office queue
- Waiting for an appointment in a waiting room
- Waiting for large documents to download or screens to load on the computer
- While on hold with phone companies, etc
- Waiting in the car to pick up spouse or children from classes or trains, etc
- While eating breakfast, lunch, or on a coffee break
- First 5 minutes or so after waking in the morning
- At night before bed (the obvious one, this is when most people read)
- During commercial breaks on TV. The average one hour show has 10-15 minutes of ads! Watching TV for two hours you can get half an hour of reading done
- While stirring/cooking dinner (watch those sticky fingers and don’t drop your eReader or phone into the pot!)
- After exercise: if you go for a walk, why not stop half way or towards the end and read for 5 minutes in the great outdoors. Or if working out at home, take a few minutes to lie down afterwards and read while your body recovers (just remember to get back up!)
- Try an audio book to listen to while driving, doing housework, cooking, or exercising
- Have an allocated ‘nothing but reading’ day once a month, or whenever you can
I also recently heard about an app that increases how many words you read per minute. It’s called Spritz. I tried it. It works! But would this work for fiction or would it take away from the overall relaxing experience? Hmmm…
What about you, do you read as often as you would like?
Have you got any more tips to increase your reading time?
I’m thrilled to welcome Janice MacLeod to the blog today, the author of the memoir PARIS LETTERS which I read and loved recently. In the book she shares how she went from being a busy and worn out copywriter to simplifying her life and becoming an artist in Paris, finding unexpected love on the way.
Janice sold, donated, or got rid of most of her belongings and saved enough money to quit her job and buy some time to travel, not knowing what would happen next but trusting that she was following the right path to make her life what she wanted it to be. Now, she is married and runs a painted letters from Paris subscription service, combining her love of words, art, and Paris…
Not in a million years. I thought I’d like to live in Rome. When I first planned my European itinerary, I made Rome my final stop so I could either stay there and eat pasta every day or figure out where to go from there. But of course, by then I had met the lovely Christophe in Paris who had asked me to return. Since I gave up my job and my apartment in California, I figured, hey why not? Paris is hardly outer Mongolia. I’d go and see about this Christophe fella. And of course, I fell in love with the city around the same time I fell in love with him. Paris is definitely well suited for me. For an artist, the streets provide constant inspiration.
2. Describe your life before Paris in three words and your life after Paris in three words:
Before Paris: Stressed. Traffic. Alone.
After Paris: Inspired. Stroll. Love.
3. You mention in your book that you write three pages in your journal every day, as recommended in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. After doing this for so long, do you ever struggle with what to write or is it one of those things where the more you do it the more you can do it? How helpful is journaling in your life now?
I would love to tell you it gets easier, but that third page is still a pain much of the time. Though it has become easier to show up at the page. I can now open my journal and begin quite easily. Journalling has helped me organize my thoughts, my day and my future plans. Being the master of my own business requires a lot of planning. The journal is where I carve out time to plan. It’s also where I dream. It’s also where you’ll find my daily list of things to do. Writing everything down has made me more efficient with my days.
Not only did I not expect romance, I had given up entirely on finding it. Back when I lived in Los Angeles, I really thought the love of my life was there and all I had to do was find him. After many disappointing dates, I gave up looking for him. I was in complete acceptance that it might never happen. In a way, I broke up with my imaginary boyfriend who lived in Los Angeles. I took off for Europe, and of course, there he was waiting for me to arrive. Even when I met Christophe, I didn’t think we would have a relationship. I was traveling through Paris. Knowing I was just passing through and having already given up on romance likely made me more open to simply living in the moment with this handsome butcher. And that likely helped romance blossom. Life is funny that way.
[Juliet ~ It’s amazing how letting go can lead you to something wonderful 🙂 ]
5. At the back of your book you list a ton of helpful ways to declutter, simplify your life, and save or earn money. For people who are overwhelmed with their lives and want to get started on making some changes, what three tasks do you suggest they start with?
1. Oatmeal. The cheap bulk kind. It’s healthy, filling and so very affordable. You can get ahead in a lot of aspects of your life by eating oatmeal in the morning. I don’t cook mine. I toss it in a bowl with some nuts, seeds, cinnamon and whatever milk I have on hand.
2. Live beneath your means. You’ll likely start saving and be able to pay off credit and boost your bank account. Being able to live life with a chunk of change in your pocket provides an air of peace and calm in your life.
3. Write in a journal daily. I came up with so many ideas on how to save money (like saying no to group dinners that left me drained in spirit and pocketbook) and earn money, which led to my Etsy shop that now brings in most of my income. And in between all that, I had my Lists of Things To Do each day, which just made me more efficient in my days, resulting in more energy to clean out my drawers and sell household items online.
6. How did you go about getting your memoir published?
Once my romance and artistic life started to blossom in Paris, I realized this might make a memoir that would help and inspire. I consulted Linda Sivertsen over at http://bookmama.com/. She helps people create a book proposal. I researched agents who are great at selling memoirs and found Laura Yorke at the Carol Mann Agency in New York (firstname.lastname@example.org) and sent her a note explaining my book. She agreed to see my book proposal. She signed me right away and we went about pitching the book to publishers. We landed with Sourcebooks and I couldn’t be happier. This publisher is fantastic. Great editors, great publicists, great resources for authors.
[Juliet ~ Congrats!]
The most recent Paris Letter is always my favorite. I never know exactly how it will turn out. The process is magical, even for the one holding the brush.
[Juliet ~ I look forward to receiving mine in the mail each month!]
8. When you’re not writing or painting or enjoying the sights of Paris, what do you like to read?
I love reading memoirs, but only happy stories. Tragedy bums me out. I also like historical fiction because it’s a history lesson wrapped in the shiny bow of an entertaining story. Though lately I must admit, more of my free time goes to lounging around Pinterest. It may be the best museum I’ve ever visited. And that’s saying something as one who lives in the City of Museums.
[Juliet ~ I totally share your love of Pinterest! I think I’m addicted.]
I love romantic stories with happy endings, too. The other night I watched The Notebook (again!) but this time with French voiceover. And I bawled my head off (again!). But it was the good kind of crying. So satisfying.
[Juliet ~ I must watch that one again!]
Next on my horizon is a big move. Yes, Christophe and I are cleaning out our drawers and discussing next steps. We are such compatible travelers and our wanderlust is in full gear. We are both nomads at heart. I also have a couple book ideas bouncing around my head. And of course, another line of letters will come out that aren’t about Paris. They’ll likely be about wherever we show up with our suitcases. Oh the intrigue. I’ll report more over on my blog: janicemacleod.com
[Juliet ~ Intriguing indeed! I look forward to following the blog]
10. And lastly, can you impress us by telling us something really cool in French? 😉
Alas, I cannot impress you with my French. My French is not impressive.
[Juliet ~ It’s gotta be better than mine 😉 ]
Thanks for sharing your story, Janice!
>> Follow Janice’s ongoing journey at her website/blog.
>> To get a copy of Janice’s memoir, PARIS LETTERS, check out your local bookstore or buy via the links on this page HERE.
>> And for a little taste of Paris delivered to your letterbox each month, subscribe to her personalised, painted letters HERE.
Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this question to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.
A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street—who doesn’t speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can’t ever return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves—words, art, and Christophe—to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, aspiring mothers, mothers-to-be, mothers-at-heart, and single fathers! 🙂
I love writing about mothers in fiction, and being one myself, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw on… the fun, the challenges, the heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, I can make sense of these things in my life by putting them into stories.
Today for Mothers Day I’d like to introduce you to the mothers in my books, and I’ll share a little ‘motherhood’ snippet from each book:
Mother #1: Kelli McSnelly from FAST FORWARD
Kelli suddenly becomes a mother when she transforms overnight from a 25 year old model to a 50 year old woman with two grown kids, a grandbaby on the way, and a husband she doesn’t like. As she navigates her way through the future, she’ll come to realise a few important things about life, love, and motherhood.
Hang on, if she was pregnant, then that meant I was going to be … a grandmother. No way!
This couldn’t be happening. Real grandma’s knitted and had short curly mauve hair and stored tissues up their sleeves, didn’t they? I was too young for this. Two children and a grandchild-to-be all in one day? I needed Valium. Preferably intravenously. Damn! I should have asked the doctor for a prescription.
Mother #2: Dr Sylvia Greene from THE JANUARY WISH
Sylvia became a mother as a teenager, but she gave her baby up for adoption. In The January Wish she meets her now eighteen-year-old daughter and must discover how to adapt her life to make room for the child she never thought she’d see again.
Sylvia turned away to give them privacy, and leaned over Maria’s grave to place down the single sunflower she’d brought with her. Silently, she thanked Maria. Thanked her for taking care of Grace, for loving her, for being the mother Sylvia wasn’t able to be back then. She wished she could hug her the way she’d hugged David, but she couldn’t. She simply placed a hand on the cold, rough headstone, and somehow hoped to communicate just how thankful she was that her daughter had been well cared for. Maria’s life may not have been long, but Sylvia knew it would have been fulfilling, having Grace in it. And suddenly Sylvia felt a strong sense of responsibility, that although she wasn’t taking Maria’s place, she was taking on a new role in Grace’s life. At sixteen, it wasn’t her time. But now, at thirty-five, it was.
Mother #3: Chrissie Burns from FEBRUARY OR FOREVER
Chrissie has recently gone through a divorce and is now single mum to Kai, a challenging six-year-old boy. She moves to the town of Tarrin’s Bay when she inherits her aunt’s beach house and hopes she can make a fresh start and help both herself and her son open up to the joy and possibilities of life.
‘Oh, but Mum. You don’t understand. You don’t know what it’s like to be this tired.’ He strung out the last word with dramatic emphasis.
‘Oh for heaven’s sake.’ Chrissie bent and hooked the heel of one shoe on her finger, then the other, and flung them into her son’s room. At least they were out of the way; he could put them in the wardrobe himself later. Chrissie picked up Kai’s school bag that he’d dumped next to the couch, and chuckled. Don’t know what it’s like to be this tired? She shook her head at her son’s naivety. Granted, he was only six, but if only he knew. Getting up five times a night on average for the first year of his life? That was the definition of tired.
Mother #4: Carrie from my short story SISTERS AT HEART
Carrie is also a single mother with a young son who doesn’t want to go anywhere without her. She’s starting from scratch in a new town and living with her parents, desperate to find her own way and make new friends. When she volunteers for the school cake stall she experiences something profound that gives her hope for the future.
‘I have to look after the cake stall along with another mummy, sweetie. Grandma and Grandpa will take care of you.’ I widen my eyes and nod in reassurance.
He cautiously turns his head towards my dad, who bends forward and holds out a lollipop of swirling, jarring colours.
Dental decay and hyperactivity to look forward to – thanks Dad!
Zac’s uncertain eyes glance back at me, then back at his grandpa. He releases one hand and holds it out to the lollipop while Dad inches back slightly so it’s just out of reach. Zac sighs and releases my other wrist, his pout soon replaced with a smiling red stain on ripping open the wrapping and licking the treat with gusto.
Bribery. Works every time.
FREEBIE ALERT! Do you have a favourite fictional mother character from a book, movie, or TV show? Let me know in the comments and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART! This isn’t a prize draw, everyone will get a copy, as long as you answer the question and leave your email address in the comment too so I can send the story to you! It is a quick story you can read over a cup of coffee 🙂 *Comment must be left before 16th May when the freebie offer will close. Spread the word! 🙂
Here is what would happen if my character and I went on a ‘friend date’… Plus, you could win a copy of THE JANUARY WISH. Ends may 7th.
We have featured Juliet Madison at Chick Lit Central a couple of times since her debut novel, Fast Forward, came out last year. Since then, she’s written two adorably funny novellas and two sweet and romantic novels as part of her Tarrin’s Bay series. (We hope she’ll be covering every month as time goes by!) Today, she’s here to talk about the first novel from this exciting new series and to go on a friend date with the main character. She even has an e-book to give to a lucky reader anywhere in the world!
Synopsis of The January Wish:
When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and…
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The paperwork is all in order so I can now officially announce that I’ve signed a 3 book contract with my publisher, Escape Publishing (digital imprint of Harlequin Australia)! 😀
The books are as follows:
- HAUNTED EVER AFTER (previously Haunted Housewives) – a romagic comedy novel about a prim and proper bride-to-be who is haunted by the ghost of her fiance’s ex-girlfriend on her hen’s/bachelorette weekend away. There’ll be fun and games, a stripper who has more to reveal than rock-hard abs, and one very feisty red-haired ghost on a mission. Releasing 1st September 2014.
- 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS – a heartwarming romagic comedy Christmas novella about a romance writer who spends more time on her fictional love lives than her own, and receives a surprising visit from her Grandmother’s ghost asking for help to find her first love, Dave, who disappeared during the war. Cue a Christmas road trip, and a series of funny and touching moments as they work their way through a list of Daves in search of the right one. Releasing 1st December 2014.
- MIRACLE IN MARCH (tentative title) – Book #3 in the Tarrin’s Bay series, though a complete stand-alone story just like The January Wish and February or Forever. …Miracle in March is about two ex-lovers both in need of a miracle, who find themselves unexpectedly reunited during a one week stay at the Tarrin’s Bay Beachside Cabins. Emma’s hiding the truth about why she ended their relationship six years ago, and James is no longer a high-flying lawyer but a single stay-at-home dad with an autistic son. At the Town of New Beginnings, truths will be shared, dreams will be remembered, and a miracle or two just may occur. Releasing 1st March 2015.
I can’t wait to share the first book, Haunted Ever After, with you in September! The other two are currently in progress, so I’m working hard on making them as enjoyable as possible and meeting my deadlines!
I use Pinterest a lot for inspiration, so if you’d like to follow my boards for each of these books, here are the links:
You can also stay updated by subscribing to this blog, and to my email updates at www.julietmadison.com (free gift included!).
BIG thanks to my publisher for continuing to publish my books, and to my readers and reviewers who keep me in business! 🙂