Category Archives: Books
Happy Easter to those who celebrate! And wow, April is here already.
April is my birthday month, so of course it would have to be one of my favourite months of the year 😉 And APRIL’S GLOW was one of my favourite stories to write.
What was my inspiration behind this novel?
Candles are pretty self explanatory, I LOVE candles and all the beautiful scents and colours and jars they come in and always wanted to write about a character who runs a candle store… and as for neighbours, I don’t mean the Australian TV show, but the idea of exploring how two people not looking for a relationship, yet undeniably attracted to each other, end up as neighbours and how this close proximity forces them to face the demons of their past, and trust in an uncertain future.
In this book I also wanted to explore two imperfect characters; one physically restricted and one psychologically restricted, and bring them together to help them help each other.
April is an amputee who has learned to live with her physical disability, but is still scarred by emotional wounds from her accident, and Zac is a recovering alcoholic with post-traumatic agoraphobia… hence the need to have most of his scenes at his home, with April as the next door neighbour.
Another thing I always wanted to do was write a character who writes poetry, as poetry was a big part of my life growing up and helped me express myself and get through difficult times during adolescence. So it felt natural to bring this element into April’s Glow, through Zac, who writes to help cope with his psychological issues.
Writing novels is a way to express parts ourselves that we wish to explore, while also discovering new concepts and characters that are completely different from our own lives. To me, writing is like living multiple lives, and being in control of the outcomes. There is a great deal of fulfilment in writing a book. And seeing it come to life, feeling as though it is a real story about real people, is very rewarding.
With each new story I discover something new about life, and about myself, and I can’t wait to see what I discover next… 🙂
Hope you have a wonderful Easter, and happy reading!
READ APRIL’S GLOW; >> http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781760370312
~ Juliet xo
P.S. – Thanks to those who attended my recent talk at Shellharbour library!
Happy International Women’s Day! 😀😘
Who are your favourite female fictional characters?
I love writing about brave, authentic women who become empowered throughtheir challenges to live their best life possible… and after 17 books (15 fiction), it’s hard to choose a favourite, but if I had to I’d say April from April’s Glow…
I love that she speaks her mind without fear, even if it gets her into trouble, and that despite being an amputee she doesn’t let her disability define her, but simply does the best she can within her limitations. I also love that even after promising to stand by her fiance when he develops quadriplegia, and he shuts her out of his life to spare her the difficulty, she moves on with grace and hope towards a new future, starting a fresh life running her own business in Tarrin’s Bay. And then after all she’s been through, and dealing with an alcoholic father, she falls for a recovering alcoholic. She worries he will be just like her dad… but still she gives him a chance, and learns about the healing power of unconditional love and acceptance.
April was an amazing character to write, and when I think of my own challenges I am reminded of those who are dealing with so much more, and I am grateful.
Let’s celebrate the power of amazing female characters in fiction who have the power to remind us of our own strength, as well as giving us an entertaining story.
Books are important. Women are important. And you are too. 👍😊👊✌️
>>> And to celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m giving a library talk this weekend about my writing journey over the past several years!
If you’d like to come and don’t live too far away, it’s at Shellharbour City Library, on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, on Sat March 10 at 1pm.
See flyer below for details and how to book your free seat. You can also register quickly and easily online here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/author-talk-juliet-madison-tickets-43152568494
To finish up the celebrations for the month of my 5th publishing anniversary, I’m having one last giveaway for February, a signed copy of my young adult supernatural mystery novel, SIGHT, which is book 1 in the Delta Girls series. If you like shows like Charmed, Ghost Whisperer, and enjoy books with mystery, suspense, humour, sisterhood and family dynamics, and young love, then you might like this series!
Below I am sharing Chapter One of SIGHT to give you a “taste” (title of Book 4, no pun intended!) 😉
Hope you enjoy, and read below to the bottom of the page for details on how to win a copy…
SIGHT (THE DELTA GIRLS #1) – CHAPTER ONE:
I always thought I’d spend my sixteenth birthday at home with my four sisters and closest friends having the sleepover of all sleepovers with streamers and balloons overtaking the living room, a bottomless bowl of salt and vinegar potato chips, and enough chocolate to feed a small country. We’d watch movies, pausing occasionally to drool over hot actors, before turning up the music and dancing around like lunatics. My eldest sister, Talia, and her twin, Tamara, would probably bring out their Ouija board and freak the crap out of all of us. With our nervous systems on high alert for an impending ghost visitation, it’d be more like a no sleepover. Add the fuel of excess sugar and hormones to the fire of fear, and we’d be up all night for sure.
Instead, I spent my birthday fast asleep. In a coma, to be exact. Not exactly the picture I had in mind, and I doubt the picture my sisters had in mind either. As the youngest child in the family, everyone always treated me as though I was made of fragile glass; and as one of triplets, my birthday parties were always shared with Serena and Sasha. But, for the momentous occasion of my sweet sixteenth, we were separated by my inconvenient lack of consciousness. Not so sweet after all.
I wasn’t aware of my birthday taking place, or aware of anything for that matter. I only remembered the heavy, drowsy sensation after the anesthesiologist put the mask on my face, and then everything around me faded to black. It was a risky operation, no doubt about that. I’d been given the choice of living my life with the ticking time bomb of a brain aneurysm, or having surgery to hopefully repair the damn thing, giving me the possibility of a so-called normal life. As any teenager would have done, I reached for the hope of a normal life—that Holy Grail of adolescence and the need to fit in, to be accepted, and to figure out who the heck I was. The idea of walking around with a head that could explode at any minute was about as appealing as wearing the pink sweater with a trail of fluffy pom-poms down each sleeve that Grandma knitted me two Christmas’s earlier.
I was told to expect a shocking headache on waking after the operation, but what I didn’t expect was not waking up at all. There was no headache, no lights, and no doctors and nurses hovering around me—okay, there could have been, but I wasn’t aware of them. I was trapped in a prison of darkness with no way out.
That was until the fourteenth of April, two months after being wheeled into the operating room, when a strange jolt coursed through my body. Warmth flushed my skin, and a kind of bubbly sensation tickled me from the inside; and for the first time in a long while, I saw something. The image was as clear as day; I knew it was real.
And then I opened my eyes.
“Did you feel that?”
“I thought I heard…”
The sound of my sisters’ voices became apparent as light soaked into my aching eyes, drowning in a thick blur of white.
“Oh my God. Savannah!”
“Quick, someone get Mom!”
I wanted so much to sit up and hug them, feel that I was indeed alive, but my muscles were deaf to my brain’s commands. At least my ears weren’t. The mismatched symphony of sounds gnawed at my eardrums, but I didn’t care. I was alive. My family was with me. The familiar click- clack of my mother’s shoes grew near, followed by her soft breath and cold palm on my face before it was quickly replaced by a sharp light protruding into my eyes.
“Savannah, can you hear me?” an unfamiliar male voice asked. “Blink twice if you can hear me.”
I blinked. Twice.
“She really is awake! Honey, it’s Mom. Everything’s going to be all right.”
“I…know.” It was as though I was speaking for the first time. The words sounded like strangers hijacking my throat as it scratched and strained in effort. It felt weird, but at the same time, it felt pretty awesome.
Three Months Later…
I’d forgotten how delicious ice cream was. Since my operation, eating ice cream had always been rewarded with a sharp, cold headache, but not today. Today I was rewarded with the bliss of boysenberry ripple cooling my tongue and delivering a burst of sweetness to my eager taste buds. I wiped at globs of ice cream as they dripped down my chin and giggled. Serena, my older sister by two and a half minutes, eyed me strangely.
“What?” I asked.
“Huh? Oh, nothing.” She flicked her slender hand. “It’s just good to hear you laugh again, that’s all.”
Smiling, I stepped onto the beach, reveling in the luscious, warm sand oozing between my toes. People laughed and chatted around us, children squealed and giggled, and seagulls squawked overhead; all relishing the freedom of the summer holidays. Flags marking the safe section of beach in which to swim flapped in the breeze as lifeguards watched over the crowd. The five of us dawdled along, licking our ice creams and inhaling the salty ocean air that tickled our skin as it swept around us.
Talia stopped and glanced at her feet, her wavy locks tumbling over her shoulders.
“What is it?” we asked in unison.
Bewilderment creasing her face, Talia raised her head. “I don’t know. But being here…it reminds me of something.” As though giving up trying to figure out what that something was, she shrugged, causing a spaghetti strap from her maxi dress to fall off one of her tanned shoulders. She returned it to its rightful position and we continued walking.
A dull thud knocked my head sideways a tad. “Hey!”
My gaze darted to the beach volleyballers nearby who were now missing a ball. I tucked the tip of my foot under the offending item, sharply flicked it up, and caught it in one hand. Good to know my soccer skills hadn’t died along with the aneurysm. “I’d say that shot was out,” I called across to the group of golden-skinned teenagers.
“Ya think?” a boy about my age, maybe older, replied. His hand shaded his face, but when he removed it to reveal beautifully proportioned perfection, I almost dropped the ball. And the ice cream.
Gulp. Maybe moving here away from my friends wasn’t so bad after all.
“So, are you gonna give it back or what?” He frowned. “Or can’t you throw that far?”
I’d spoken too soon. What an ass.
“Here, hold this.” I thrust my half-eaten ice cream cone into Talia’s unsuspecting hand and turned away from my sisters.
“Savannah, what’re you doing?” Sasha, my older sister by six minutes asked, lifting her sunglasses onto her forehead. “Just give the ball back.”
“Oh, I’ll give it back,” I said, confidence raising my chin. Or was it the desire for payback?
“Savvy,” said Talia, in her I’m-your-big-sister-and-I- know-what’s-best voice. “Don’t do anything stupid. The doctor warned you not to overdo it. Come back.”
She grasped my arm, but I flung her hand away. “I had an aneurysm. Had. It got fixed. I’m not a freaking invalid!” Geez, my sisters drove me mad sometimes, especially Talia. They treated me like a baby before the condition, but now it was ten times worse. They might as well have covered me in bubble wrap and attached me to a leash or something.
Talia crossed her arms and twisted her lips to one side as I approached the beach volleyballers. I stood at the corner of their makeshift court and shot a laser glare at Mr. I’m- So-Hot-It-Hurts. He stood at the ready, shifting his weight from one muscled leg to the other. Luckily, soccer wasn’t my only forte. It’d been a while since I’d played volleyball, but I remembered how to do a mean serve. And I was determined that this would be my meanest.
My eyes pinned the location I was aiming for. I stepped back on my right foot and tossed the ball in the air, meeting it on its descent with the side of my thumb as my fingers clenched into a fist. Bam! The ball went over the net toward the incredibly gorgeous and incredibly infuriating guy, who lunged for it and missed. The ball left a kind of mini UFO crop circle in its wake on the sand. Sucked in, hotshot.
“Woo-hoo!” yelled a girl on my side of the net, approaching me with a high-five. “That was awesome. You’re welcome to join us if you like.”
I glanced toward Talia who tapped at her watch as if we were running late for something. The sun reflected off the silver and I squinted at the glare. Then I held up my hand and mouthed, “Five minutes.” I turned back to the girl. “Thanks, I’d love to.”
I felt confident, powerful—alive. Hottie kept hitting the ball in my direction and only once did I miss. “I missed that on purpose,” I said. “Thought I better let you have at least one point.” He pretended to laugh, and I forced myself to look away from the silky ripple of a smile on his cheeks. I had to admit, he was pretty tough competition, but the thrill of opposing his every move sent a rush through my body I hadn’t felt in a long time. Not since… Oh. My. God.
I stopped. “Um, thanks guys, but I have to go now.” I waved awkwardly to the group then rushed over to my sisters who’d actually been cheering on the sidelines.
“What’s wrong, Savvy?” asked Talia, her brow furrowed.
“Nothing. But…I saw this.” I gestured toward the volleyball match. “Everything that just happened, I’ve already seen it. Back in the hospital, right before I woke up.” I placed my hands on my denim-clad hips and panted, catching my breath; from the exercise or the realization, I didn’t know which. Silence followed as they were probably trying to process what I’d said.
Talia stepped closer to me, her height making me tilt my head up slightly. She nibbled on her bottom lip as though she was trying to work out a nice way of saying, “You’re crazy, little sis.” But she didn’t. Quite the opposite, actually. “So did I. Only, I didn’t see it, I felt it. The sand giving way under my feet, the warmth of the sun on my skin, the ice cream cones in my hands. Right before you woke up,” she confessed.
My gaze locked on her intense blue eyes. I glanced at my other sisters who shifted awkwardly on the spot. At least if they thought I was crazy, my eldest sister would share the load with me. She’d felt this moment. I’d seen it. That was a fact, crazy or not.
Serena cleared her throat and scratched her cheek. “Me too,” she whispered, stepping closer in alliance. “Moments before you woke, I heard you giggle, just like you did back there.” She pointed to the ice cream van and squinted at the sun, crinkling her freckled nose. “I thought it was just a vivid memory at the time. I also heard the pop of the volleyball against everyone’s hands, only I didn’t realize what it was until now.”
My heart rate kicked up a notch. And as though encouraged by our revelations, Sasha and Tamara looked at each other curiously and nodded.
“I could taste the ice cream,” said Tamara, tucking a curly tendril of hair behind her ear, her round cheeks rosy under the heat of the sun.
“Wow, this is unbelievable,” said Sasha. “I could smell the salty air and the sunscreen lotion.” She shivered, despite the warm temperature.
The noise of the crowds and the splash of the waves subsided like we were the only people on the beach. My sisters’ words floated through my mind, crisscrossing into a weave of realization. The five senses. One for each of us. “So what you’re saying is, you all sensed this moment, in one way or another, right before I woke up?”
“Holy crap.” I ran my fingers through my dark, bobbed hair until they met the hot sweat at the back of my neck. How could this be possible? “What were you doing at the time?” I asked, my mind searching for a plausible explanation.
Talia threaded her fingers together then stretched and wrung her hands. “We were thinking you might never wake up, and Serena started crying. She wouldn’t let go of your hand,” she explained.
“Then Talia put her arm around me,” Serena added, glancing briefly at our sister.
“And we all joined hands around your bed,” Talia said. “Next thing I knew, I could feel sand under my feet and this wonderful, warm sensation came over me.”
“Me too, just as I heard Savvy’s laughter in my mind,” Serena piped up. “And I felt kind of…I dunno…” She circled her hands as though trying to summon the sensation back into her body.
“Bubbly?” I asked, tilting my head a little.
Serena’s jaw opened, and she gripped her smooth, dark ponytail, which hung over her shoulder. “Exactly! As though soda was inside me, bubbling up from my toes to my head.”
“How the hell?” Tamara shook her head from side to side, her curls bouncing around her face. “Amazing.”
“Do you think it’ll ever happen again?” Sasha asked, crossing one foot over the other and placing a manicured hand on her hip.
I flashed a grin and held out my hands. “Only one way to find out.”
*Copyright Juliet Madison.
Read the rest of SIGHT, and all 5 Delta Girls books, here:
~ Amazon (ebook, paperback, audiobook)
~ Book Depository (paperback, free worldwide shipping)
> ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF SIGHT! Plus some gemstone earrings… Head over to my Facebook page and follow the instructions on the post titled ‘GIVEAWAY!’ and dated Feb 23. Winner drawn 1st March.
It’s time for the third giveaway this month for my 5th publishing anniversary (you can read my original post about how I became a writer HERE)!
This week a signed copy of my inspirational colouring and activity book, COLOR YOUR DREAMS is up for grabs, plus a beautiful notebook and a pencil case! This giveaway is open worldwide and I’ll draw the winner on Thursday 22nd.
To enter, visit my Facebook page HERE and check out the giveaway post dated Feb 15.
COLOR YOUR DREAMS contains 100 positive words, each drawn into an inspiring colouring page based around the theme of that word, and in addition, each has an activity page of empowering written exercises to get the most out of the theme and attract more of that positive element into your life.
I had the BEST time creating this book, and I love seeing what people do with the pages in my colouring group on Facebook!
Here are some sample pages from inside the book…
Enter HERE. Good luck!
Thanks to all those who congratulated me on my 5th Publishaversary last week! If you haven’t read my post on How Becoming a Writer Helped Me Become Myself, you can do so here.
To celebrate my 5th anniversary of being published, I’m having some giveaways this month… congrats to Karen who was the lucky winner of last week’s giveaway; a signed copy of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT plus a beautiful journal!
Keep reading to see how you could win this week’s prize pack…
February is a time for love, and with Valentine’s Day almost here, it’s the perfect time to get those warm fuzzy feelings happening inside with a heartwarming romantic read. FEBRUARY OR FOREVER is one of my most popular bestselling stories, and explores an exciting ‘what if?’ question: “What if your favourite celebrity fell in love with YOU?” I’m sure our teenage selves wondered that at some stage! And this story shows how Chrissie, a single mother and yoga teacher who has just moved to Tarrin’s Bay, deals with that very scenario when she’s given the job of private yoga instructor to Drew Williams, her favourite singer-songwriter, while he’s in town for the month.
Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on. The scene of a terrible accident years ago, the house needs to get out of Chrissie’s hands as soon as possible.
But Tarrin’s Bay, where the house stands, has more to offer than bad memories. The town is lovely, the people friendly, and even Chrissie’s young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.
Relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, but Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. Days of stretching and bending may bring Chrissie unexpected peace and strength, but she knows that this interlude must end, and there’s no pose or position to aid her if Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted.
This book is part of my Tarrin’s Bay series which has books for each month of the year and is now up to ‘May’, and has guaranteed happy endings and new beginnings! You can start with The January Wish, or whichever story you feel most drawn to as they can also be read as stand-alone stories.
AND for the next week you will have the chance to WIN a copy of FEBRUARY OR FOREVER in print as part of the MORE TIME FOR THE BEACH anthology of 3-in-1 bestsellers! Included in this prize pack is a beautiful scented ‘coastal hideaway’ candle in a tin. Best of all, the contest is OPEN WORLDWIDE, despite shocking postage costs from Australia! 😛 I love hosting giveaways and I value my international readers as well as my Australian ones, so when I can I like to include some international giveaways too.
To enter this giveaway, please visit my Facebook page and find the GIVEAWAY post dated February 8th. I will draw the winner the day after Valentine’s day, on Thurs 15th.
Good luck, and stay tuned next Thursday for another special giveaway!
P.S. ~ If you’re a writer and love to write love stories, you might be interested in my upcoming online course, How To Write A Lovella (romance novella). It starts Feb 25th and goes for 2 weeks. All the details and registrations are HERE.
Happy New Year!
January, 2018, here we are. Are you ready?
It’s been four years since THE JANUARY WISH, the first book in my Tarrin’s Bay series, was released. I’ve made a few wishes myself since then, many of which have come true. 🙂
January is a perfect time to not only look back on how far you’ve come, but also look forward to where you want to be, what you want to experience, how you want to feel.
I love the new feeling of January, the ideas that inspire me from within, and knowing that it’s a fresh start.
When I wrote THE JANUARY WISH I not only wanted to make a great story, but show readers that anything is possible. That no matter what has happened in your past… grief, loss, regret, illness… you can rise above it all and become the best version of yourself and find happiness and peace in your life.
Some of the story mirrors my own journey, and as I’ve risen above many challenges and made a few wishes, I’m grateful to what has manifested in my life, both personally and professionally, including my rewarding creative career.
I love inspiring others to do the same with their own life, through the pleasure of reading fiction that entertains and empowers, or through direct guidance and support with my coaching and online courses that I run. I’m holding a special 2 week online course just for the new year, called New Year Mojo! – The Secret Letters System for Releasing the Past and Manifesting the Future, based on my book The Secret Letters Project and on the techniques I’ve used myself to overcome challenges and create the life I want to live. If you’d like to take part in this small supportive group and be guided directly by me to step forward into an amazing new year and new life, I’d love to have you on board! You can find out all the details and register right now by clicking onto this page HERE. 🙂
And if you haven’t yet read the bestselling and award-shortlisted book THE JANUARY WISH, it is available in ebook from all online ebook retailers, and also in large print, and in print as part of the Time For The Beach anthology.
From Escape’s queen of ro-magic comedy comes a sweet, emotional contemporary romance about the pleasures of making a wish and seeing it come true.
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 treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.
A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.
They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.
Published by Escape Publishing.
Have an amazing new year!
~ Juliet xo
P.S. – Connect with me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/JulietMadisonAuthor/
August was “Secret Letters to Strangers Month – Global Kindness Initiative”, to tie in with the release of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT book. People around the world wrote uplifting letters to strangers (using the Official Template or including the hashtag & website), and left them in public places for people to find. I did this too, and had a great time finding sneaky places to leave them! Many of us shared our experiences and photos in the Secret Letters project Facebook group. If you haven’t yet joined, you can do so HERE.
August may be over now, but secret letters to strangers will continue for all who want to keep writing and making this a regular part of their life. I hope to run the same event next August to make it more of an ‘official’ annual event to get as many letters out to the world all at once in a shorter space of time, and encourage new people to participate.
I’d like to thank every person who got involved in the project, it’s so rewarding to see people getting benefit out of not only finding these letters, but writing them as well. Some wonderful stories came through of people finding a letter just when they needed some encouragement or were having a difficult day.
Here are just some of the real life experiences and feedback I’ve received from recipients… (click each image to read up close)
“I recently lost my mum and one day a friend and me where in a second hand shop in Te Awamutu (New Zealand) looking for a special tea cup and saucer for a special friend when I came across this white envelope addressed
Dear Stranger – open me!
Yes you! If you found me, I’m yours! 🙂
Finding this envelope came at a time where I really needed it. The letter was so lovely and very befitting with how I was feeling and grieving the loss of my mum.
Thank you kind stranger! xox”
“So last week I received this secret letter. I cannot begin to tell you how much I needed these words particularly right at that moment. Last month I had a miscarriage my husband and I have been trying for our 2nd child for some time now without any luck. Finally we get that positive test only to lose that hope in a few short weeks.
It all happened so quickly I found out on the Tuesday had procedure done Friday and was back at work the Monday. Bring me to last week. After a rough week at work not having systems working and wasting a lot of time trying to get them fixed adding unnecessary stress coz I’m falling behind the work that needs to get done.
On Thursday we had to take my son to hospital we got home at 3.30 am in the morning and I was up at 6:30 am for work.
On less than 3 hrs sleep I worked a full day only to have more system issues and fall more behind with my actual work. When I spoke to my boss there was not even a care that I had showed up to work that day rather than call in sick like I should have. I walk out of work to find this letter. Everything that was written was exactly what I needed to hear.”
You can search social media for the hashtag #secretlettersproject to see other photos, stories, and experiences.
In addition to the recipient, writing these letters has also proved beneficial for the writer:
“As I was writing each word, I was feeling connections being formed and developed with people everywhere. Every person I pass on the street or have contact with could be a recipient of my letter, therefore I started acting that way towards others more often too and the results were surprising. After writing each letter I felt lifted, positive and significant.” ~ Tina
“For me I felt like I was writing the letters to myself without realising until I read them back. Giving myself permission to feel things I didn’t realise I didn’t know I needed.” ~ Laura
“It helped me gain perspective and peace on dark days knowing I was potentially helping someone else. It is truly givers gain where you get something wonderful by giving without expectation of getting something in return.” ~ Traycie
And it was great to see people writing about the project on various blogs and websites:
- The Simple Life: Secret Letters Project on News Tribune.
- 9 Secret Letters to Write for Reflection, Growth, and Transformation on Popsugar.
- Blogs: Keeps Me Out Of Mischief and Anxiety Mum.
I would also like to thank everyone who has bought a copy of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT, which not only talks about writing letters to strangers, but talks about the secret letter writing process I’ve developed for 20 different types of letters, such as Dear Universe, Dear Me, Dear Ex, Dear Son/Daughter, Dear Past Event, etc.
I love creating books like this and hope to make many more, and every sale, every word of mouth recommendation, every review, makes a BIG difference for an author in being able to continue writing and publishing the books they want to write. So if you’ve got the book and would be happy to leave a star rating and/or a brief review online, that would be very much appreciated! It doesn’t have to be detailed, just a simple ‘I loved this book’ or something similar is all that’s needed. The more reviews a book has the more visibility and exposure it gets in online stores such as Amazon. Thank you to everyone who has supported the book so far!
>> If you haven’t got a copy, you can get it from all online book retailers such as Amazon and B&N, and in stores in the US and Australia (Dymocks). The Book Depository has free fast worldwide shipping too.
And if you’d like to leave a review, go to the online store you purchased it from to leave your feedback, and/or write one on Goodreads. Thank you! 🙂
…Now onto something new and exciting… I’m holding some fun and inspiring online courses about my secret letters process, and you’re invited!
The first course: Secret Letters for Self Empowerment, is starting soon on Monday Sep 18, through to Friday Sep 22. And the first course is FREE! But if you miss it that’s ok, you can go back to the group where the content is posted and do the activities in your own time. You don’t need a copy of the book to participate, but it is a good adjunct if you wish to get the most out of it. The course will help with your self confidence, self love, self acceptance, and self empowerment, and is a great starting point for the courses that will follow.
JOIN here! It’s free. 🙂
The two follow-on courses (dates to be confirmed but probably during January) are:
- Secret Letters for Releasing the Past
- Secret Letters for Manifesting
These are a little more intensive than the first course and numbers will be limited so that I can guide each individual through the course as needed. The purpose of all is to free yourself from any limitations and past hurts and grief and allow you to move forward into the life you want to create for yourself. Once you experience the full healing and manifesting power of a secret letter, it will become a regular part of your life as it has for mine. 🙂
If you’d like to be notified when registrations open for the above two courses, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be notified. And you can also join the group for the first course to take part. I look forward to seeing you there!
CLICK HERE to take part in the Secret Letters for Self Empowerment online course!
Love, laughter, and light,
~ Juliet xo
Everything You Need To Know About The “SECRET LETTERS TO STRANGERS MONTH – GLOBAL KINDNESS INITIATIVE”
Everything You Need To Know About The “SECRET LETTERS TO STRANGERS MONTH – GLOBAL KINDNESS INITIATIVE”
During August, people around the world will be writing secret letters to strangers and leaving them in public as an anonymous act of kindness, to spread hope and inspiration and remind people that we are all in life together, and by connecting with each other we can make a difference and emphasise the good in the world.
By writing a secret letter, you could make someone’s day, or even change their life.
You might even find a letter yourself. How nice would that be?
So far over 3000 people have responded to the event invitation on Facebook, and it has been shared over 1000 times… I’d like to say a BIG thank you to all who have expressed interest and have shared and invited friends… all it takes is one person to make a difference, but with many, we can spread so much more kindness and inspiration, and I can’t wait to flood the globe with uplifting letters this August!
If you haven’t yet responded as ‘going’ or ‘interested’ on the event page, you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/events/465815260431665/
You can also join the private Facebook group for THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT, the book that inspired the idea to have a month dedicated to writing letters to strangers, as “Dear Stranger” is one of the chapters in the book (there are 20 different types of letters included in the book, such as Dear Me, Dear Soulmate, Dear Universe, Dear Ex… all to help gain emotional wellbeing, forgiveness and acceptance, and self empowerment). Join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thesecretlettersproject/
To participate in the Secret Letters Month this August, all you need to do is the following:
- Download and print out the official Dear Stranger letter template. It is in the files section of the Facebook group, on the Secret Letters page of this website, and you can also download it RIGHT HERE. You can print 1 copy or 100, or however many you would like. You don’t need to explain in the letter about the secret letters month, there is an explanation at the bottom and a website address where the recipient can choose to share their experience or take part too.
- Write a positive letter to a stranger. It can be a few sentences, half a page, a full page, or several pages. You can write one letter or many. *See tips below of what you could write.
- Leave your letter or letters somewhere in public during August (although you can start earlier if you like, and you can continue after August). You can simply leave the letter as is, fold the letter, or put it in an envelope, or a plastic zip-lock bag (if leaving outdoors where it might rain). If using an envelope, be sure to write something on it that will encourage someone to open it, eg: For You, Dear Stranger, Open Me, etc. *See tips below on where you could leave your letters.
- Optional: Share in the Secret Letters group (or on the Facebook event page) about your experiences, your letters, photos, how you felt, etc. You can also share on social media using the hashtag #secretlettersproject. If using Instagram, you can tag me at @julietmadisonauthorartist …And if you find a letter yourself, please let us know!
And that’s it! Print the template, write a letter, and leave it in public. Simple, but powerful.
Tips on what to write:
Think of a tough day you’ve had and what would have made you feel better. What words, phrases, or positive sayings come to mind? Imagine the person receiving your letter is having a bad day, or perhaps they are having a good day, and when they receive your letter, they are going to feel even better. Write about positive things you have learned in life, supportive words of encouragement, or a reminder that each and every person is special and a valuable part of life. You may even simply write something like “Dear Stranger, I hope you have an amazing day!” The letter can be as long or short as you wish. As you write, imagine the recipient with a big smile on their face as they read your words.
You may choose to leave it unsigned, write your first name, or write something like “from one stranger to another,” “from anonymous,” “from me,” or “from a friend.”
You might be wondering what this is all about. Why would someone leave an anonymous letter for someone else to find? The reason is simple. There is a lot of negativity in the world, but I am choosing to spread joy and kindness. I would like to wish you an amazing day, and I hope all your dreams come true. Always believe in yourself, never give up, and keep smiling.
Your anonymous friend xo
Ideas for places to leave letters:
- In a public park (weather permitting, or placed in a plastic bag)
- In a doctor’s waiting room
- At the gym
- In a library on a shelf or inside a book
- At a bookstore
- Under the windshield wiper of someone’s car
- In a shopping cart
- In a payphone booth
- At an automatic teller machine
- In a stranger’s mailbox
- In an elevator
- Put your letter in an envelope and write something on it to encourage the recipient to open it. You may wish to decorate the envelope too.
- Along with your letter, include a spare blank letter & pen for the recipient to write their own and save them printing it out
- Leave a gift with the letter, eg: a scratchie ticket, a bookmark, a small amount of cash, a book, a movie voucher, a café gift certificate, etc.
- Decorate your letter with drawings or stickers
- Have a letter writing party with friends and then go on a kindness spree together
- Get your children involved to teach them about the importance of showing kindness
- Blog about your experience or share in the Secret Letters Facebook group
*I am also running a preorder contest during July… if you order the book before August and send me your receipt or proof of purchase via email or Facebook message, you’ll go in the draw to win a personal handwritten letter from me along with a special secret gift! This contest is open worldwide.
- Order a copy of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT from your preferred retailer. Some options are: Amazon, Book Depository (free worldwide shipping), B&N, Booktopia, Dymocks.
- Send your proof of purchase to me by July 31 at email@example.com with “Secret Letters preorder contest” in the subject line, or send via message on my Facebook page.
I’ll draw the winner at the beginning of August.
Thank you for taking the time to participate. I’ll also be writing my own secret letters! Have fun and enjoy.
~ Juliet xo
*HERE is the letter template again.
Imagine if you were going about your day as usual, or maybe even having a really bad day, and then the corner of an envelope poking out from behind a tree branch catches your eye… or maybe you arrive back to your car to find an envelope tucked under your windscreen wipers… or you’re browsing the books in your local library and notice an oddly placed envelope between the spines…
You pick up the envelope, wondering what it is.
It says ‘For You’.
You wonder if someone has dropped it, or left it for someone else who didn’t pick it up, or it as been mistakenly placed where you found it.
But still, it says ‘YOU’, so maybe you should open it?
You open it. Of course you do. 🙂
You start reading. A small smile lifts the corners of your lips, when you realise the letter IS for you.
But you don’t know who wrote it. It could be anyone… a friend, a school student, a busy parent, a local doctor, or a stranger. Regardless, as you read the words, you feel a strange but exciting connection to the person who wrote these words. It was like they knew what you needed to hear, what would help you on this very day. It’s like a guardian angel whispered in their ear inspiring their words and guided them on where to leave it so you would find it. It seems somehow … magical.
The letter reminds you about what is really important in life. It reminds you that you are doing the best you can. It helps you understand that you are not alone. This letter, from an anonymous stranger, helps you feel connected. Special. Lucky.
You re-read the letter and then glance around… is someone hiding, waiting to see your reaction? Or have they long gone, satisfied in the knowledge that the right person at the right time will find it? The right person did find it. You found it. This simple letter has made your day, and the warmth of gratitude fills your heart.
Now imagine if you were the person who had written the letter. You may not ever know who received it, but you would know you’d done something great, however simple, that could either make someone smile, or even change their life. You just never know.
If you had the chance to do that, with only a few minutes of your time, would you do it? What if not only you did it, but lots of other people. Hundreds. Thousands. Maybe more… Imagine the effect on so many people, letting them know that someone out there cares, even if they are a stranger. Because we’re all in this life journey together, and one by one, and together, we can make a difference. By spreading kindness and support, we can bring more light to this world that is experiencing so many dark moments.
During August 2017 to coincide with the publication of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT book and journal, I will be encouraging people around the globe to write secret letters to inspire strangers and leave them in public to be found.
And I invite you to take part…
Join the “Secret Letters to Strangers Month – Global Kindness Initiative” here: https://www.facebook.com/events/465815260431665/ and let’s make a positive difference in the lives of others.
*I would love to get as many people as possible to take part in this, and I need your help to spread the word. Please share the event page or this blog post with as many friends as you can, in your FB groups, and in any communities you belong to. Thanks in advance! 🙂
~ Juliet xo
In honour of ANZAC Day here in Australia, I’m sharing a scene from my latest Tarrin’s Bay novel APRIL’S GLOW, about a reclusive ex-soldier who moves into the house next door to April, a bubbly but troubled woman who helps to bring him out of his shell, and in doing so, helps her to face her own past.
A man in an Akubra hat met her at the rocky lookout, along with a few other people who were setting up some of the displays and seating for the service. She was instructed on where to bring the candles and he gave her a rundown of the proceedings. The sun was low and glary, and the strong breeze pushed around them like an annoyingly overconfident sales person. As he spoke about a friend of a friend’s grandfather’s time in the war, the contrast to where they now stood was so strong she felt unworthy of being there. In this beautiful place, this safe town, this beautiful natural landscape.
‘We’re lucky, eh?’ he said, glancing around the horizon where the deep blue of the ocean merged with the sky.
He eyed her leg, the ankle of her prosthesis visible under the hem of her long skirt. ‘How long’s it been?’ He gestured downwards.
‘Two and a half years.’
‘Not an ex-soldier, are you?’ He raised his eyebrows.
She chuckled. ‘Me? I wouldn’t cut it as a soldier. No, it was a car accident.’
‘Sorry to hear, love. Guess you’ve got to count your blessings.’
She’d heard that and its variations many times after that awful day, when the reality of being an amputee, among other trauma, had driven her deep into depression.
‘At least you survived.’
‘At least it was only below the knee.’
‘At least it wasn’t your right arm.’
And she knew they were thinking: ‘At least you weren’t paralysed from the neck down like Kyle.’
Kyle. He was the unlucky one. What if she had been sitting in his seat in the car? She shuddered to think of the possibility. He would have been her husband by now. But a drunk driver had changed that for them. And if she hadn’t been adjusting the volume on the car CD player and singing along, maybe she would have been able to react faster to the car coming towards their side who’d run a red light. Maybe less damage would have occurred had she been able to brake sooner, or swerve more sharply. Maybe then the impact would have been one inch further away from Kyle’s spinal cord.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
She would have stayed with him. She’d committed to being his fiancée and future wife. But his family said no, and once he was able to communicate clearly, he’d said no too. He’d wanted her as his wife, not his full-time carer. Maybe if he’d been a paraplegic, but quadriplegic? She’d known it would be incredibly difficult, especially with her own injury to recover from, but the accident hadn’t killed her love for him. Though he survived, she hadn’t only lost her leg that day, but her man. Her future. Life had dealt her a new one, and she was still figuring it out.
‘I have a lot to be thankful for,’ April said to the man, and before he could ask any more questions, she thanked him for his time and confirmed she’d arrive early to set up the candles.
* * *
The atmosphere the following morning was far removed from what it had been the day before. The sun had not yet splashed the sky with its glow, and the moon over the ocean created an eerie presence. Her candles, most held by the many attendees, and others framing the staged memorial area around the microphone and podium, glimmered in the sporadic breeze, the flames protected by their tall heatproof casing. A universal symbol of hope. Remembrance.
As names of soldiers were called out, and prayers and poems recited, she thought of Zac and wondered what sort of poetry he wrote. She’d never been into poetry, but hearing special words spoken into the dim expanse of Lookout Point, the sound of waves crashing and rolling beneath as their background music, she realised its power, its potential. It was a way to make sense of what had been, give structure to the chaos that had occurred, and immortalise the heroes who had perhaps stood here many years gone by, dreaming of a future they never got to experience.
Yes, she was lucky. She may not have got the future she’d planned, but she had a future.
When the service had ended and the early sun warmed the air and started waking up the town, April glanced down towards the harbour on her left, and saw him. Zac. In the distance, standing alone on one of the piers. Why had he not come up to take part in the service? She walked down the hill. Maybe they’d cross paths on her way back home. But by the time she got to the bottom he was already walking further ahead, going the long way around, towards the beach instead of the town.
Probably best. She would go home and make use of her rare day off while the shop was closed for Anzac Day. He’d go to his place and do his own thing, and they need never be more than courteous but distant neighbours. Later on she’d join some of the locals at the pub for dinner. Her mum wouldn’t be there though, she boycotted pubs. She would catch up with her for lunch tomorrow instead.
After chatting to some locals in Miracle Park on the way home, April arrived back in her street and found Zac planting a small tree in his front garden.
‘Poet and a gardener, huh?’ she said, stopping in front of his house. So much for leaving him to his own devices, her mouth didn’t like to cooperate with her brain. ‘I’ll leave you to it,’ she added, about to walk off.
‘Wait,’ he said.
She looked at his face, his eyes tight and squinting in the morning glare.
‘I’ve got something for you.’
‘Another cloud candle?’ April glanced upwards.
‘No. Something you can actually take with you. Into your house, I mean, not when you die.’
She tilted her head. She didn’t know how to respond to that.
‘Sorry. I’m sure you’ll live a long healthy life. I’m just saying. You know, after our conversation a couple of weeks ago.’
‘That we can’t take material possessions with us when we die, yes. I remember.’
‘It’s inside.’ He brushed soil from his bare hands and walked towards the front door. April followed, but hung about on the porch. A subtle glow caught her eye and she peered into his house, noticing the fireplace. But it wasn’t lit, the candle on the mantle above was. The cinnamon candle.
‘I’m glad the candle is getting put to good use,’ she said. ‘But they look nicer when lit at night.’
Zac wandered to the mantle. ‘I know. But I thought today would be good.’
‘Because of Anzac Day?’
He nodded, and before she knew what she was doing she had stepped into his house without asking permission. ‘Is that you?’ She pointed to a photo of two kids. She recognised the shape of his jaw, even in the youthful roundness of the child’s face. She looked back to the door she’d stepped through. ‘Sorry, I shouldn’t barge in. My legs and my mouth have a mind of their own.’
He chuckled. ‘It’s okay. Yes, that’s me and my friend.’
April’s gaze wandered to the photo next to it. ‘And all grown up. Same friend?’
He nodded. ‘Yep.’
‘You’re a soldier?’ It made sense. His commanding presence and posture. His tattoos, the intensity and seriousness he sometimes had. When he wasn’t chuckling or commenting on how she was ‘amusing to watch’.
‘How long have you been off duty?’
Zac glanced up to the roof. ‘Almost three years now.’
‘Wow. You must have seen a lot. I mean, I don’t need to know, but … is that why my prosthesis didn’t shock you?’
‘I’ve seen much worse.’
‘I can imagine. Although I can’t. Not really. I won’t begin to even … I should stop talking. I’ll stop talking.’ She turned away from his gaze and brushed her hair from her face.
‘It’s okay, April.’
She narrowed her eyes a little. ‘I saw you, at the harbour. You weren’t at the dawn service?’
He shook his head and slid his hands into his pockets. ‘Prefer to honour the men in my own way. And also, it’s …’ He ran his hand across his short hair. ‘Doesn’t matter. Oh, your gift.’ He went to the kitchen.
April furrowed her brow. ‘What is this gift you speak of?’
He held out his hand, a small seashell resting on his palm. ‘Found it when I was walking over the sand dunes. Made me think of you for some reason. I think because it has these little speckles on it, like cinnamon.’
April took the shell and studied it with a smile. Golden brown specks were scattered across it like freckles. And one edge of the shell was broken off. There was also a larger patch of golden brown near the centre, like a birthmark. ‘It’s unique,’ she said. ‘I like it. Thanks.’
‘Don’t thank me, thank Mother Nature.’
‘Okay then. Thanks Mother Nature,’ she spoke loudly in case Mother Nature couldn’t hear her from within the confines of this man-made enclosure.
Maybe the reason why Zac had been distant the past two weeks was because of what today represented, and it triggered memories for him. Painful memories, just like the month of September did for her. ‘Sorry if I’ve been a nosy neighbour, pestering you about what you do and how you pay your bills. I’ll mind my own business now and try to be normal. So, if you need to borrow a cup of sugar anytime, let me know.’ She laughed.
‘I don’t use sugar,’ Zac replied.
‘Oh. Then if you need to borrow a cup of … Sugar substitute? Chia seeds? Or … coffee?’
‘I’ll be sure to remember your offer.’ He grinned, then walked April to the door.
Before stepping off the porch she turned to face him, his eyes grey and tired-looking, like he hadn’t had enough sleep. Which if he’d been up since before dawn like she’d been, he hadn’t. ‘Hey, a few of us will be at the pub tonight for dinner, if you’d like to come?’
Zac took a step back. ‘Um. Thanks. But I’ll pass.’
‘Okay, but if you change your mind, let me know.’
He scratched his head, and his mouth opened like he wanted to say something, but no sound came out.
‘Well, I’ll be off.’
‘April.’ He lightly touched her arm and she glanced down at his hand. He had nice hands.
‘Thanks for the offer. It’s nice of you. But the reason I can’t is, well …’ He nibbled one corner of his lip. ‘It’s a bit embarrassing, really.’ He rubbed the back of his neck.
‘What is?’ she asked. ‘That you don’t want to be seen in such a state of obvious self neglect with your unimpressive physique and unshaven face? And those tattoos, I mean, you look like a badass. People might get scared.’ She nudged him with a wink.
Zac smiled. ‘Yeah, I’ve let myself go. Too many meat pies.’ He patted his belly that clearly received no less than a couple of hundred or more crunches per day. ‘Nah, the thing is, and I haven’t told anyone this, except for … anyway, the thing is, I have a mild case of agoraphobia.’ A slight hint of pink coloured his cheeks. ‘Crowds. I just can’t do them. It’s hard to explain. I need quiet. Not too many people around. A pub, or any similar place, it’s … I’m not quite there yet.’ He lowered his gaze and lifted the edge of his doormat with his foot.
April felt a surge of pity for the guy. Well, not pity so much as sadness. A man like him, in his prime, clearly traumatised by things in his past … of course it was understandable that the war would have affected him in some way. He didn’t appear to have any physical injuries, but maybe he had post-traumatic stress disorder, or maybe the crowds and open spaces just triggered anxiety for some reason.
April touched his arm as he had hers. Somehow, it felt both rough and smooth at the same time. ‘I understand. No problem.’ She offered a small smile. ‘Thanks for telling me.’
She gave a small wave and stepped off the porch, but as per usual, she thought of another thing to say and had to turn around again. ‘You know what? I feel like eating in tonight.’ April put her hands on her hips and surveyed Zac’s front garden. ‘Care to join me?’
Zac’s eyebrows shot up. ‘You’re inviting me over for dinner?’
‘Looks that way. I can pick something up, or find something to whip up.’
He rubbed his chin. ‘The thing is, I’ve already defrosted some chicken for tonight. How about you join me here instead?’
Now April’s eyebrows rose. ‘You’re going to cook for me?’
‘No, you can cook. I’ll just provide the ingredients and kitchen facilities.’
She eyed his unchanged facial expression.
‘I’m kidding,’ he chuckled. ‘You can clean up instead.’
April laughed and warmth spread throughout her cheeks.
‘Seriously, I’ve got it covered.’ He held up his hands. ‘Just come over when the sun goes down.’
‘You’ve got yourself a deal.’ She gave a nod. ‘Would Juliet like Romeo to join her for some gourmet cat pellets?’
Zac laughed, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. ‘I think the cats can sort themselves out for tonight. See you later on.’ He smiled and closed the door.
So much for not bothering to get to know him anymore. The pages of his book of life were starting to open, and she was sure tonight would provide many more answers to the questions that had been forming in her mind. It was time to get to know Zac, for real. Not just chatting over the fence, not the odd, random conversations at his door, but real, proper, dignified conversation over the dinner table. A sense of anticipation fluttered inside. She had been looking forward to dinner at the pub, but this … this she was looking forward to way more than that.
APRIL’S GLOW is available from all online ebook retailers.
Others via the buy now button at Escape Publishing