Category Archives: Life

MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE…

As a new year begins I always look back to the year before to see how my life is progressing and to celebrate achievements and special moments.

Some things were expected, others were unexpected, all of them I am grateful for.

Here are 7 highlights from my 2015, followed by something brand new I’m launching today! It involves 7 things to help YOU make your dreams come true in 2016 🙂  

  1. 4 book releases! Not only was the 3rd book in my Tarrin’s Bay series, MIRACLE IN MARCH released, but also the first 2 books in my new Young Adult series, THE DELTA GIRLS. This story idea about five psychic sisters came to me about five years ago, and it was so rewarding to finally see it in print, and also hear it in audio, as the audio rights were sold to Audible. Also, my novel FEBRUARY OR FOREVER was included in the MORE TIME FOR THE BEACH 3-in-1 anthology which is available in Australian stores now. Something I’ve learned from all of this… I need more bookcases or a bigger house 😉

 

  1. ARRA award finalist! I drove down to Canberra to attend the Australian Romance Readers Association awards dinner where I was thrilled to be a finalist in the favourite paranormal category with HAUNTED EVER AFTER and 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS, and the favourite continuing series with my Tarrin’s Bay series. A highlight of the night was wearing silly hats and making silly faces with friends in the photobooth!

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  1. Unexpected book deal! In early May, after hearing about how hot adult colouring books were, I pulled out some sketches I had been doodling just for fun which contained positive words. I was going to paint these onto canvases, but then I wondered if I could make a colouring book using the same concept. So I came up with a proposal and a few designs, as well as ideas for empowering activity pages to accompany them, and sent them off to my agent. Rejections came in, but by the end of the month I had a book deal with Sourcebooks USA! COLOR YOUR DREAMS releases April 2016.

 

  1. Writing, writing, and more writing! As well as The Delta Girls series being released into the world, I still had to write the remaining 3 books in the series, each with tight deadlines. Somehow, after late nights, my trusty writing sprint timer, and sheer determination, I completed the final book just before Christmas. The remaining 3 books all release in 2016. And somehow among all of that and creating my colouring book, I also wrote the 4th Tarrin’s Bay book, APRIL’S GLOW, which I absolutely loved writing and will release this year too.

THE ILLUSION OF TIME Life is fleeting though we realise too late Before we kn

  1. My first proper holiday! I didn’t have time for a holiday, but I took one anyway. Apart from going away for conferences and a few brief family trips here and there when my son was young, I had never actually been on a proper holiday as a grown woman! It was about time. So with the help and encouragement from some friends, I let go of all the guilt and thoughts that I should save my money for living expenses and bills, and took the plunge. I invested in my own wellbeing to have a blissful, indulgent, restorative one week stay at Gaia Retreat, Byron Bay, a place I have always wanted to visit. It was an amazing, healing experience, and I really felt like a new woman when I returned!

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  1. Good health! The holiday came at the right time, because a week after I returned I was due to get some important test results after a year of bi-monthly blood tests, scans, and a biopsy for a couple of different health concerns. I went in for that crucial test feeling positive and healthy, and my results reflected that. Which meant I was able to avoid surgery and stay off the medication that I had needed for five years, and reduce my checkups to six months apart. My body was, and still is, healing itself, and I felt such relief. (By the way, I attribute this to a healthier change in diet (paleo), exercise and meditation, natural medicine, and some mindset strategies I will talk about at the end of this post).

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With Pete Evans and Luke Hines from The Paleo Way

  1. Connecting with others! It was one of my 2015 intentions to connect more with others and experience more joy and fun in my personal life, and that I did. I’m so grateful for the likeminded friends I’ve made who make my life extra special.

 

All of this doesn’t mean everything was perfect in 2015. Nope, I had moments and days where I felt like crap. Felt like giving up. Times when things didn’t work out the way I wanted or hoped. I felt sad, worn out, frustrated, scared, nervous, angry, disappointed, misunderstood. But I’ve learned that those days and moments pass and you always have the power and the choice to bring yourself back to a place of positivity and gratitude, and that is the place where miracles happen. If you can look back on your year, see the light and joy through any tears that blurred your vision, and end the year with a smile on your face and excitement for the future, then that is a life worth living.

In 2016, there will be more books, more writing, more surprises, more ups and downs like the above, as that is life. But there will also be ‘more’…more dreams fulfilled, more plans made, more goals to strive towards. And, I’ve decided, more JOY (my word for the year). Because life is a gift and I plan to make the most of it.

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I believe living a great life comes down to following your heart and your passions, taking inspired action aligned with your passions, being consistent and persistent, knowing your priorities and setting healthy boundaries, and, probably most importantly; believing in yourself and in the idea that anything and everything is possible. This is the fun part. When you believe in that, life becomes exciting. And to maximize this belief, each year I do 7 specific processes to help make dreams and intentions come true, and make progress towards my goals… 

As I was working on these 7 processes at the beginning of January, I kept having to write post-it notes to myself to remind myself of what to do next, and I had a thought… Other people could benefit from these processes I use. So I carved out some time and wrote out all my processes, and in a flurry of inspiration I created a 70 page document with guidelines, tips, practical instructions and templates…and a fun, practical, inspiring program was born!

I was going to call it something fancy like The Life Creation System, or 7 Tools to Change Your Life, but then I thought… hang on, it’s kind of like a life kickstart; a kick in the ass to take inspired action in your life. Then I thought… screw it, I’m calling it the Kickass Kickstart! 🙂

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So there you have it, if you want to give your 2016 a kickass kickstart, then try the 7 processes in my new program and let me know how they work for you! Some of them you may have heard of, or even used, and some maybe not. But even if you have, each has been modified (or Julietified?) with advanced techniques to maximize their potential. And all 7 work together to get your year, or any new phase of your life, off to a great start.

In the program I’ve created you’ll learn how to make a vision board that works, and a lesser known tool called the vision box. There are processes involving the power of gratitude, and a fun variation on a bucket list. You’ll give New Year’s Resolutions the flick and learn how to create New Year’s (or any time of year) Intentions, how to come up with a meaningful word for the year and embrace it in your life, plus a powerful creative process to bring the energy of your intentions to life to help them become reality. There’s also help with turning challenges into opportunities, and a process, tips, and resources to help you commit to yourself and your intentions and to maintain your positive state of mind throughout the year.

Kickass Kickstart is available as an instant download PDF with printable worksheets (I mean, FUNsheets!), and to celebrate the launch I’ve made it available at a special discount. Get started HERE!

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I wish you all the best for the coming year, and I can’t wait to hear about the amazing 2016 you’ve created for yourself!

 

~ Juliet xo

 

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New Year Gratitude Challenge

“Be grateful, not hateful.”

Here’s a fun CHALLENGE for you:
Think back on the year that has passed and on what brought you joy. Write a list of everything you can think of that you’re grateful for from 2015. I did this last year and wrote 100 things. Once you get going, more things come to mind, and they build on each other, and by the end of your list you will feel amazing. Try it! 🙂


But don’t just write 5, or 10, or even 20… Aim high, see if you can get at least 50 or more. At first I didn’t think I could get to 100 but when I did, I could have kept going. Be very specific and break each down into smaller things, for example: “I’m grateful for my family” could  be: “I’m grateful for hugs from my children”, “I’m grateful for enriching conversations with my partner”…etc.


Then in the new year, try to maintain the momentum by writing at least 1-3 things each night before bed that you’re grateful for from your day. It could simply be ‘breathing’. 


The more grateful you are the more you attract into your life to be grateful for. 


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If you’ve been through some challenging experiences this year, before starting your grateful list write down the challenges you faced and next to them write what you learned from them, or something positive that came from them. There is always something. 

And if you like, share some of the things, people, or experiences you’re grateful for in the comments on this post.

To sum up, here’s what to write in your list or journal:

  1. 2015 Challenges and what I learned from them, and/or a positive aspect of these challenges:
  2. My 2015 grateful list (aim for 50 or more):
  3. Daily gratitude diary (1-3 things each day, or on most days):

 

Let’s end 2015 in a state of gratitude and joy! 🙂

~ If you like empowering activities like this, there are 100 more in my upcoming inspirational activity and coloring book, COLOR YOUR DREAMS! Published April 2016 by Sourcebooks. Join the group HERE for updates and exclusive content or PREORDER the book.

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MY TEN MUST-HAVES

Today I’m sharing a quick guest post I did recently on the AusRomToday blog.

What are 10 things you can’t live without? Here are mine:

MY TEN MUST-HAVES.

🙂

The Need for Human Connection and Love

I wanted to do a different type of blog post for Valentines Day this year, and after being inspired by a couple of articles I read online recently (which I’ll share below), I thought I would write about the one thing that united them – the need for human connection.

pink-heart-1-1252468-mOn Valentines Day people think about romantic connection, but I challenge you to also think beyond that, to think about love in all its forms; love for oneself, for other people, and life itself.

Connecting with people is what makes the world go around, our lives are intertwined on a daily basis with those of others, but just how many of those people do you truly connect with? How often do you take the time to delve deeper, to get to know them, to put aside the obligatory small talk and ask questions that really matter? Not only that, but to listen to the answers with genuine interest and understanding?

There is safety in small talk, safety in staying in our comfort zones and not taking risks. But through making an effort to connect, you may just open up a whole new world of possibilities for any area of your life, be it professional or personal.

Life is short. Make connections, and make them count.

~ One of the articles I found interesting was about addiction, and what its likely cause is. Of course there is a physical, biochemical basis for addiction where the body becomes accustomed to something and makes the person keep wanting it, but what studies have found is that both the likelihood of becoming addicted and the success of recovery rely a lot on human bonding, love, and connection. Those with a healthier social environment and happier state of mind are more likely to beat the addiction. But pushing those who are addicted aside, cutting them off, isolating them, is only exacerbating the disconnection fuelling the addiction. What they need is the opposite – human bonding, connection, and unconditional love. And, I believe, this includes a strong sense of identity and connection with themselves, and self love. You can read the article by Johann Hari about how disconnection drives addiction, here.

So with the high prevalence of addiction in society, there is no better time to understand the importance of human connection. It is the glue that holds society together, it is what we as humans all crave whether we want to admit it or not, it is what matters most in life – feeling like we belong, like we are bonded and supported in life, and experiencing the joy and purpose that comes from this.

~ The other article that caught my attention was in the New York Times, and was fascinating and fun to read. The title, To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This by Mandy Len Catron, makes it sound like a lighthearted novelty, but if you read right through to the end you’ll see the depth and beauty of what it is discussing. It talks about a series of 36 questions that have succeeded in making some people fall in love with each other, by bypassing all the usual small talk and getting right to the nitty gritty, exposing vulnerabilities and allowing people to open up to really being ‘seen’ by another. You can read the list of questions yourself to see what it’s all about, or read the full article here.

I think that these questions could be used by anyone, with anyone; friends, family, colleagues, lovers… to connect more deeply with them and create a stronger bond.

It is all about emotional intimacy, or as one of my favourite authors, Neale Donald Walsch calls it: IntoMeSee.

The article on the 36 questions emphasises that love is an action. It is a feeling, a knowing, yes, but it is also an action. Love not acted on will simply exist in a sort of limbo, and the questions used in this study are an example of how a sort of ‘love-based momentum’ can be established which may potentially allow love to blossom. But if it doesn’t, at least not in romantic form, then I believe that each person will at least come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the other, a greater bond and connection, and that is a great thing.

~ The need for human connection and the value of establishing bonds with others is one of the reasons I love writing fiction that celebrates people’s lives and relationships. We can relate to reading about others who are or have been in similar situations, and it is rewarding to see characters overcome obstacles and challenges to reach a greater sense of wellbeing or ‘happy ending’. It connects us with a sense of hope in our own lives, and although the story may not be true, the emotion behind it is. Fiction can be both an escape from and a reflection of real life, and ironically, one of the most effective ways to hold a mirror up to life and express its truths.

 

So this Valentines Day, or any day for that matter, I challenge you to make an effort to connect more with others and spread the love around! 

  • Smile at a stranger. 🙂
  • Talk to someone in the street or at a shop (and not about the weather).
  • Ask a friend what they’re looking forward to over the next year.
  • Do an anonymous act of kindness.
  • Give someone flowers, not just on Valentines day, but any day – just because.
  • Write a letter to someone you care about . An actual letter. With paper and pen.
  • Send your loved one a text message when you’re not with them, just to say ‘I’m thinking about you’.
  • Tell people what you appreciate about them. Don’t let compliments go unspoken.
  • Tell someone how they’ve inspired you.
  • Hug your friends and family. Human touch is vital to wellbeing.
  • Shout someone a coffee, sit down with them, and listen attentively as they talk.
  • Email an author whose book you’ve enjoyed (hint hint!). 😉
  • Call someone for a chat, and ask thoughtful questions.
  • Ask an older person to tell you a story about their youth.
  • Read out loud to someone you love.
  • Write a poem for someone special.
  • And if you’re brave enough to try the 36 questions with someone, go for it!

 

Love,

Juliet xx

Deadlines, Dangers, & Delta Girls!

It has been a busy month or so, hence my lack of posts on the blog recently. It seems the letter of the month is: D, so let me fill you in on what’s been happening in my world…

 

Deadlines:

writingfast-istockMy third Tarrin’s Bay novel, Miracle in March, was due on 30th September. I sent it in on d-day, at 11pm. Phew! Now, fingers crossed it doesn’t suck. 😉

While writing this book I also had edits to do on 12 Daves of Christmas, attended the RWA writers conference, and if you’ve read my last post, dealt with the excitement of signing a 5 book deal for my YA series (see Delta Girls below). There was so much happening at once, my brain felt like it had several internet browser tabs open all at once! Oh, I also got injured. Read on…

 

Dangers:

first-aid-kit-red2_LRGTwo days before my book was due, the universe decided it wanted me to take some time out. It didn’t seem to care that I had a book to finish, nah-ah. It thought, ‘Juliet needs to take a break, but she just won’t tear herself away from the computer. What shall we do? I know! Let’s throw her down the stairs.’

Yep.

Down I went.

At 1:30am on a Monday.

10 steps to be exact.

An overweight cat in my arms and fluffy bedsocks on my feet probably didn’t help matters.

My son came out of his room and just looked at me strangely as I lay in a heap on the stairs.

“Aren’t you going to help me?” I asked, panting from getting the air knocked out of me.

“I thought you were just killing a spider or something,” he replied.

Apparently I must make a lot of noise when I’m in spider-slaying mode. He soon realized I was hurt and helped me walk back upstairs (the cat was hiding under a chair at this point, looking at me wide-eyed and wary like I was some psychotic person who enjoys freaking the crap out of furry domestic creatures just for fun). He got me a drink of juice (my son, not the cat), which was nice. But I had to get my own ice pack.

I discovered during my fall that the brain can think of many different things in only a second or two. The old ‘life flashing before your eyes’ thing. Okay, I knew I would probably survive the ordeal, but in that second or two when I had no control and was in pain and couldn’t stop myself falling, it was pretty scary. I thought such things as: Will my son remember how to call emergency? Does he remember our address? Will I get a head injury? Will I break a bone? And I even had time to think: Oh crap, will I still be able to finish my book in two days?!

Thankfully I landed, though with a bump to my arm, which went suddenly numb and weak. I hurt EVERYWHERE, and to make things interesting, I only had one packet of frozen vegetables to use as first aid. Despite this, I managed to get some nice, large, black bruises, and strained muscles. I also got scratched by my cat, and even broke a fingernail. Ouch. Okay, so the fingernail didn’t hurt, but damn it I had just grown my other ones long enough to match. 😉

I discovered that being in pain is good for the vocabulary – it’s amazing how many new swear word combinations one can come up with while trying to roll over in bed when every muscle is screaming at you to be still, or after sneezing and pulling your damaged shoulder tendon to the point that it feels like there’s a knife in your back! Three weeks later my shoulder is still causing pain, so I’m getting a cortisone injection soon to kick inflammation’s ass. Silver lining of all this – I couldn’t do housework for a week.

 

Delta Girls: 

Macro shot of human eyes black and white with some colorIf you missed my post about my Young Adult book deal, here it is. After signing my contract and filling out various forms for my publisher, I started plotting and writing the second book in The Delta Girls series. The first book, SIGHT, will begin edits soon and will be releasing on May 12th 2015, with each book following soon after. The second book, SOUND, is taking shape and I’m very excited about the story. I’m remembering how much I love writing YA. I find the voice easy to slip into and especially as it’s told in first person, I’m finding it fascinating to get inside the mind of another character.

This book is due at the end of December, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that two days before the deadline I will remember to not carry my overweight cat down the stairs while wearing fluffy socks. 😉

 

…With all these D words, I think I should end the blog post on a positive note, so here are some random, positive words starting with D. Can you think of any more? If so, leave them in the comments!

Dreams, destiny, dancing, dinner, delicious, drinks, dessert, diamonds, decadent, dashing, Dracula’s muscles (well, have you seen them?). 😉

Books, bling, and buddies – my weekend in Sydney

After dealing with a flooded garage at home due to heavy rain here on the south coast of NSW, I’m finally taking off the gumboots (or galoshes, or rain boots…whatever you like to call them!) to do a quick post about my weekend visit to Sydney! 😉

On Friday I visited the place where all the bookish magic happens – the Harlequin Australia headquarters in North Sydney. They have really nice, red light-shades hanging from the ceiling there. Just sayin’. 😉 Of course, I wasn’t there to inspect their decor (though, as I studied interior decorating in a past life I do tend to notice these things!). I was there to meet with my publishers and discuss present and future books. How exciting! My first visit to a publishing house. 🙂

HARL_escapeLOGO_redEscape Publishing is the digital arm of Harlequin Australia and have published my first five books (which you can see here). It was great to meet some of the staff I hadn’t yet met, and chat about marketing and promotional strategies, book titles and plots, the often back-and-forth process of designing the perfect cover, and also some new and exciting things happening later this year which I’ll reveal when I’m allowed! I’m grateful to be with such an innovative and supportive publisher.

On Saturday I attended the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) awards dinner. Two years ago I attended the awards dinner as an aspiring author; a little starstruck around these wonderful established authors who were winning awards, and this year I was there as not only an a published author but a finalist in the Favourite New Author category! Though I didn’t win (congrats to Anna Cowan!), I was thrilled to be nominated and I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me. 🙂 You can see the full list of award winners in the different categories HERE. Congrats to everyone! I love seeing fellow writers achieve milestones like this. And thanks to ARRA for putting on a great night and coordinating these awards. if you’re not yet a member, what are you waiting for? It’s not expensive and there are great perks. All the info on joining is HERE.

So it was a weekend of books, bling, and buddies. Books to write and publish, bling at the awards dinner (including a bling-off contest for the person with the best bling), and catching up with writing buddies and meeting new ones. I would add ‘yummy food’ to the mix but it doesn’t start with B. But there was yummy food involved too. 😉

2014 is shaping up to be a great year… so far I’ve had two back-to-back releases to kickstart my new Tarrin’s Bay series of coastal romance/women’s fiction novels; THE JANUARY WISH and FEBRUARY OR FOREVER. I’ve completed a new romagic comedy manuscript (HAUNTED EVER AFTER) and handed it in to my publisher, and was thrilled to have seen my first book FAST FORWARD make the Top 100 on Amazon recently. What’s next? Soon I’ll be starting to write a Christmas novella, and then I’ll move on to writing the third book in my TB series, MIRACLE IN MARCH (tentative title!). I’m looking forward to both, and looking forward to the rest of the year. I LOVE my writing life! Housework and cleaning up flooded garages…not so much 😉

Now, where did I put those gumboots?…

 

Birthday Memories…

024Today, April 14th, is my birthday so I thought I’d do a birthday-themed blog post! It’s especially fitting because my debut novel, FAST FORWARD, which was released a couple of months ago, takes place mostly over one day – the main character’s birthday.

Young, hip, and gorgeous Kelli, from Fast Forward, is getting ready to celebrate her 25th birthday, but she wakes up to the birthday present of her nightmares – she’s jumped ahead to the future and is a 50 year old flabby, wrinkly, housewife, married to the nerd she used to tease in high school. Not only that, she has two grown children she doesn’t recognise, a daggy best friend, she has to give an important business presentation of which she knows nothing about, and she has no idea how to get back to her old, I mean, young life.

I’m glad to say I’ve never had a birthday as challenging or memorable as Kelli’s, but I’ve had a lot of good ones! (The photo of the chocolates on the plate was taken at a restaurant for my birthday a couple of years ago).

At my thirtieth I had a fancy dress costume party with a 70’s and 80’s theme. Guests had to come dressed as someone from either of those decades. I dressed as a psychedelic chick with straight hair parted in the middle and wore white flared pants and a multicoloured top, and my son dressed as Michael Jackson in the afro stage, complete with black shoes with white socks. A couple of my cousins around the same age as me dressed as girls from the eighties with lovely teased fringes (bangs, for my US friends), ponytails, and lovely eighties clothes and jewellery. We hired a juke-box to play music from those eras, and it was a lot of fun!

This birthday, I received a fantastic early present just a few days ago – an offer of publication from Escape Publishing for my romantic comedy novella, I DREAM OF JOHNNY! (More news on that later on). Now that’s memorable 🙂

I decided to ask a few facebook friends about their birthday memories, and here are their responses:

HelenEllisharleyHelen Ellis:

My best birthday memory was for one of those horrible ones with an 0 on the end. My family decided to treat me to a ‘ride on a Harley’ as I’d been rabitting on about it. I was collected from the house and driven right around the Gold Coast on this wonderful Harley motorbike, letting rip with whoops of joy as we zoomed around the roads. It was amazing. My ‘driver’ was a hoot and totally entered into the spirit of the thing, but a very good driver.

501576_barbieRos Baxter:

My mother was the archetypal feminist and she vetoed a series of dodgy presents from my wish lists over the years. Like the time I wanted a bride doll, and I got a Basil Brush puppet. Or the time I wanted Pretty in Pink Barbie, and got a budgie. All that changed when I was 12. I got some birthday money, and raced out to purchase Golden Dream Barbie. I brought her home, unwrapped her carefully, and discovered that I was kind of too old for Barbies by then anyway.
The weirdest thing is, 37 years later, my daughter has more Barbies than you could pack into a Barbie camper (mostly hand-me-downs from older cousins). And what does she want, more than anything in the world? A budgie. Go figure!!

coverPatsy Collins:

I won a novel writing competition with the prize of publication.

The book was scheduled to come out a few days after my birthday but when I mentioned that the publisher managed to bring it forward so it came out on my birthday (30 March last year).

Don’t think a writer could have a better birthday present than a copy of their first published novel.

1120987_colorful_message_balloons_1Gracie Macgregor:

I spent my 40th birthday alone and homesick, having just moved to the UK for a few years. I took a rowdy early-morning call from friends back home while I was in the dining room of a Scarborough hotel I’m sure was the model for Fawlty Towers, with shades of Mr Bean’s holiday hotel thrown in. The elderly hotel guests were tutting over their baked beans and kippers as this hysterical Australian woman howled with laughter (and a few tears) into the phone. At least the horror of the hotel eased the horror of turning 40!

What was your most memorable birthday?

Now, I’m off to celebrate, eat some yummy food, and blow out the 25 candles on my cake (ha! I wish! Oops, you have to be careful what you wish for). 😉

MY LITTLE PART OF AUSTRALIA [Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!]

I’m excited to be part of the Book’d Out Australia Day Blog Hop! I, along with many other Australian bloggers and authors are running giveaways between Jan 25th and Jan 28th to celebrate Australia and the Australian writing community, so be sure to check out all the other blogs participating too – you could win lots of prizes! I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, a heartwarming tale set in the small Australian town of Tarrin’s Bay (fictional, but based on where I live… read more about that below).

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MY LITTLE PART OF AUSTRALIA:

I moved from the mountains to the sea two years ago, and in a way, I feel like I’m on holidays ALL THE TIME. Not that I sit about relaxing all day – far from it! – but the location, my surroundings, the atmosphere, it has that magical holiday feel.

I live in a town called Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales. Every morning I step out on my balcony and gaze at the ocean, watching the waves crash against the headland and breathing in the fresh, salty air. I love it. And I love the surrounding towns too.

Here are some other things I love about my little part of Australia…

~ The people – Everyone is so friendly, from the stranger saying hello while out walking to the customer service with a smile at one of the many shops. There’s a real sense of community spirit and united appreciation for this beautiful place.

~ The landscape – We are lucky to have both a scenic coastline with beautiful beaches and also a vast rural landscape of lush green hills and farmland. It’s country and coast combined. Many tourists come to visit our two popular blowholes and stand by with cameras at the ready to capture the sudden, huge splurge of water shooting through the rocks from the ocean below.

~ The climate – Although we get some really cold days in winter and some really hot days in summer (45°C last week!), most of the time the weather sits in the perfect early to mid 20’s. I love that it’s not usually as hot as up north and I love that it’s not as cold as the mountains where I used to live (and needed gloves, thermals, two pairs of socks, and a heavy layer of blankets that required super human strength to lift off in the morning!). It’s a nice ‘in-between’ type of climate.

~ The best of both worlds – Being the first country town south of Sydney, it has that homely small town feel – no high rises, no major shopping centres, no McDonald’s…etc, while still offering all the conveniences of modern society.

~ The events – There is always something to do, especially on weekends (Kiama is a popular tourist destination  – it is packed in January!). The seaside markets are always popular… I love strolling around the harbour and looking at all the arts, crafts, jewellery, books, food, and other interesting finds while watching the sunlight shimmer on the ocean. There are jazz festivals, arts festivals, surfing competitions, a local show with fireworks, New Years Eve celebrations, and a wonderful Christmas carols in the park each year.

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Have I convinced you to move here yet? If there’s no chance of that you can still enjoy this special place through my upcoming series of novels set in the fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay, which I’ve based on Kiama and other surrounding towns. Watch this space! And you can read a bit about this series on my ‘books’ page. Remember to subscribe to the blog to keep updated on news.

And now for the giveaway…

>>To WIN a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, leave a comment below and answer the following question:

‘What do you love about Australia? Or if you’re not an Aussie, why do you want to visit Australia?’

*Competition open worldwide and closes at midnight 28th January. Winner will be announced in this post and notified via email.

And don’t forget, once you’ve left a comment, go check out the list of other blogs participating in this Australia Day Blog Hop at Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics.

Good luck, and ‘av a happy Austraya Day! 😉

This Time Last Year…

690756_sydney_nye_2007_1NOTIFYFIRSTHappy new year! I just love January 1st and the feeling of a fresh start, and today is even more exciting… This very day one year ago I started writing a new story. I opened a word document, began typing, and before I knew it three chapters had been written. This story was FAST FORWARD. Now, one year later, it is not only finished but about to be published with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing. My first published book. The scheduled release date is February 1st 2013 and I cannot wait! So if you’ve been thinking of writing a novel, or have an idea for a new one – get writing! You never know, this time next year you could be celebrating a publishing contract. 🙂

So much can happen in a year. I think it’s nice to take a look back and celebrate progress, achievements, and good times…

In terms of writing, in 2012 I… edited a manuscript, did extensive revisions on another manuscript (which I’m still revising), wrote FAST FORWARD, wrote my first novella STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE, wrote and self-published a short story SISTERS AT HEART, started writing my next romantic comedy HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES, received my first publishing contract, and made the finals in Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for an Australian Star contest with my manuscript THE JANUARY WISH. The events I attended were the ARRA awards dinner in Sydney and the RWA annual conference on the Gold Coast. I connected with a wonderful critique partner who is now a dear friend, and formed an online writing goals group. I also spent way too much time on Facebook and Twitter but we won’t go into that.

Out of all that, the only things I’d planned for at the start of the year were to complete Fast Forward and attend the RWA conference. Everything else ‘just happened’. My main goal for 2012 was to get a contract for one of my books, and I still smile when I think about how that goal came true. 🙂

So what’s the plan for 2013?? I’m still working that out, but I’d like to increase the amount of time I spend writing (or at least, write faster), and at a minimum, complete two full length books. Because I tend to shoot for the stars I’d also like to write another one or two novellas (the next one in my ‘Love Angel’ series to follow Starstruck in Seattle, and a brand new stand-alone one called ‘I Dream of Johnny’), complete a rough (or clean, whatever) draft of the first book in my young adult series The Delta Girls, and write a short story for a Christmas anthology I’ve agreed to participate in. I’d also like to find a way to survive without sleep.

Will I achieve all that? Who knows, but it’s worth a shot! I think the main thing is to keep moving forward, keep learning about writing and publishing, and keep getting those words down. Progress is an achievement in itself.

As for my blog, wordpress has created an annual report for me and I’ll share some of the stats with you:

  • May was my busiest month which coincided with my first ‘themed month’ on the blog; Mouthwatering May.
  • The busiest day was May 27th and the post on that day was Sunday Lunch with Jenn J McLeod.
  • The top five posts that received the most views throughout 2012 were:

1. How to choose a pen name / pseudonym

2. Setting the scene – bringing the story to life through a sense of place

3. Anita Heiss answers Juliet’s Awkward Questions

4. How to use the new Facebook page timeline & How to run a Facebook chat

5. Survey results – what do you like to see on author blogs?

  • I had visitors from 110 different countries! Most of my visitors came from Australia, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Most visitors were referred to my blog via Facebook, twitter, my website, Google reader, and Survey Monkey.
  • The most popular words/phrases people typed into a search engine to end up at my blog were:

1. List of awkward questions

2. How to choose a pen name

3. Juliet Madison

4. How to come up with a pen name

5. How to set the scene in a story

  • The most interesting, unique, weird, funny, or non-relevant things people typed into a search engine which led them to my blog were: Little Miss Bossy (me?), plastic surgery Florida (not a chance), luxury hotel foyer, where is Sticklepond (I don’t know, I wonder if they found out?), chatterbox characters, I work at the post office, It was a dark and stormy night (how original), in bed with Juliet (umm…), extreme sport reading (that’s my kind of extreme sport!), Santa Claus hat cookie, and starting fresh.
  • The top five people who left the most comments on my blog (and are now my new best friends) were:

1. Rachael Johns (who has a new book out today in Aus/NZ, Man Drought – check it out!)

2. Jenn J McLeod (whose debut novel, House For All Seasons releases March 1st.)

3. Juliana (any person whose name starts with Juli has to be awesome ;))

4. Rebecca Raisin (a talented writer and winner of short story awards!)

5. Imelda Evans (whose novel, Rules Are For Breaking was released recently)

Thanks guys! And congrats to Rachael for coming first (it was a close one, Jenn) 🙂

What’s in store for my blog in 2013? Lots of author interviews, including my new segment ‘Past, Present, and Future’, posts about writing, reading, life, publishing, and marketing for authors. And I’m sure there’ll be more competitions! Speaking of competitions, I’m giving away some goodies each week until the day of my book release, but exclusively to subscribers of my email newsletter. To subscribe, head over to my website and fill in the subscription form (you’ll also get my free Triple Treat with two short stories and an e-guide for living a life you love).

So that’s it for this New Year’s Day post. Here’s to an awesome, exciting, magical, spellbinding, successful, prosperous, entertaining, happy, fulfilling (and various other adjectives) new year!!

~ Juliet xo

My ‘Call Story’

I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about three years, and when I first started I kept hearing people talk about ‘Call Stories’ but I had no idea what they were. I soon discovered that The Call is when a publisher offers you a contract for your manuscript, even if it happens to be via email. By the time I’d finished my first manuscript I was hooked on writing and hoped that one day I’d be writing about my own Call Story.

Three manuscripts later that day arrived!

But let me backtrack a little…

Late in 2011 I started getting ideas for a new book which would be my third. I came up with the premise (an image-conscious young woman wakes on her birthday to find she’s a middle-aged housewife married to the also middle-aged high school nerd), and let it simmer for a while. Gradually, the character developed in my mind and I came up with the title, Fast Forward. I was also playing around with another couple of book ideas at the time and getting started on some major revisions for my first manuscript.

At the start of 2012 (New Years Day to be exact), I was staying with family and planning on taking a few days off to relax and read a few books, but my muse had other ideas.

Over breakfast, I flipped through one of my mother’s many home and lifestyle magazines and an advertisement caught my eye. It was for an interior design course and showed pictures of beautiful furniture and homewares. Before that day, I had decided that my main character would be involved in designing homewares, so on a whim I cut out the ad for inspiration. I still hadn’t decided yet which book idea I would pursue and was pondering my options as I flipped through the magazine. I asked myself, ‘Which book should I start next?’ (and by next I meant in another few weeks or so), and on the very next page in the magazine was an article titled: Fast Forward.

This magazine cut-out inspired me to start my book.

This magazine cut-out inspired me to start my book.

I had my answer.

And I cut out that title too. (I’m sure my mother didn’t mind me getting all scissor-happy with her magazines ;))

I took this as a sign, or more accurately; a direct kick-in-the-pants to get started on this story, so instead of curling up with a book I opened my laptop and began writing. The first few chapters flew from my fingers to the keyboard over the next three days.

For the rest of the month I worked on editing a different manuscript and put Fast Forward aside until February, at around the same time as I found myself a fantastic critique partner. She read my chapters and enjoyed them and spurred me on to write more. I didn’t work on it every day, but rarely a week went by when I didn’t add more to the story. I couldn’t believe how fun and fast this story was to write. Sometimes I’d stay up till 2 or 3am because I was enjoying myself so much (although I suffered the next day). Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were plain hard work – especially figuring out how to make a 300-ish page story take place over just one day in the character’s life (I constructed a timeline in fifteen-minute increments!).

By the time June came around I only had another 20,000 words to go, so I signed up for RWA’s 50k in 30 days challenge and vowed to finish it by the end of the month.

Half way through June I typed ‘The End’. Overall it took me about four months to write.

I sent the rest off to my critique partner who gave me some very helpful suggestions and I went straight to work editing it. I didn’t want to put it aside for a while like many authors (rightfully) recommend. My heart was still in this story and I wanted to work on it while it felt fresh.

I edited the first three chapters many more times until I was happy with the beginning, and did a final read through. I then entered online pitch contests and began the time-consuming process of researching agents, publishers, and sending out queries. All in all I got about twenty agent rejections and two editor rejections, but received feedback and took (most of it) on board, tweaking some parts of the manuscript.

Then I pitched it at the RWA conference on the Gold Coast in August, and while I was there, learned of Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Escape. At first I didn’t think my story would be suitable (for starters, my hero was a nerd!) and I went home and sent off my other submissions. After seeing Escape’s tweets on twitter, I decided I should check out their submission guidelines anyway and they seemed fairly open-minded about different genres and mixed genres as long as it had a significant romance and happy ending. Mine was a combination of women’s fiction, chick lit, hen lit, comedy, romance, futuristic, and paranormal (what was I thinking?!). In the end I decided on romantic comedy and sent off a partial submission, knowing I’d find out in two weeks if it wasn’t suitable.

Much to my surprise I got a full manuscript request less than two weeks later, and three weeks after that I got an offer of publication. 🙂

On that wonderful day I remembered I’d actually had a dream about Harlequin Escape the night before – talk about prophetic! I checked my email as usual first thing in the morning, but there was nothing interesting. I decided to sit outside in the sun for a while to soak up some vitamin D and brought my iPhone with me. My email made that sound telling me I had new email and I glanced at the screen expecting it to be yet another ‘20% off all dresses, today only!’ or a very tempting ‘Booktopia Clearance Sale!’. But it was from Escape.

I mentally prepared myself for another rejection. All I could see was a couple of lines of a message preview:

Thank you for submitting Fast Forward to Harlequin Escape. I am delig…’

Delig? Was that part of the word I thought it was? …Delighted?

Then I thought it might say: “I am delighted that you wrote this story but unfortunately it is not right for us.’

But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew what it was going to say and my hand shook as I pressed the screen to open the message.

‘I am delighted to accept it for publication.’

Here I am just about to sign my contract.

Here I am just about to sign my contract.

The shaking intensified and lots of ‘Ohmygod’s’ spewed repeatedly from my mouth. I’m sure my neighbours thought I was having a heart attack. It was a really humid day and my palms were so sweaty from heat and excitement I could barely scroll the screen down to read the rest of the message!

I had to keep the news fairly quiet at first so I just rang my parents (who sent me a huge bunch of flowers later that day), and then my critique partner (90% of our conversation was the word ‘exciting’), and spent the rest of the day with a permanent grin on my face and completely unable to do anything productive.

It still amazes me that it was only less than a year ago I started writing this story and now it’s about to be released. I love how fast digital publishing works and I’m looking forward to getting this story out into the big wide world of the internet! I’m also excited to be involved with Harlequin, a company who has such a strong foundation and worldwide brand.

To all the writers out there – keep writing, editing, polishing, and submitting, and embrace the digital age.

To all the readers – keep reading, reviewing, and telling your friends about great books.

Thanks for reading my call story! 🙂

…To celebrate this milestone I feel like being generous and giving away stuff! To win some goodies, keep an eye on the blog (or subscribe if you like) for a giveaway coming very soon…