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
So what is this gift?
It’s a virtual goody bag I’ve called the ‘Triple Treat’, here’s what it contains:
1. A short story entitled ‘The Big Four-O’, about a woman contemplating the funny side of turning forty.
2. Another short story, ‘The Winner’, about successful lawyer Natalie Mirvac whose ambitious and competitive nature is challenged when life throws her a little surprise.
3. And a special e-guide with practical and empowering advice, called, ‘Ten Tips For Living A Life You Love!‘
All presented in a colourful, downloadable, 20 page pdf with pictures!
You can get your copy at my website, click here to access it (a new window will open).
Many authors advise writing only one manuscript at a time, so you can completely immerse yourself in the world you’ve created and the lives of the characters. This ‘Manuscript Monogamy’ makes sense, however in reality while writing a manuscript you may be editing another, and planning a future story simultaneously.
But what about writing more than one manuscript at a time? Not writing one while planning another, but actually writing scenes in one story, and then writing scenes in another story? In other words, being an Adulterous Author (gasp!).
Are you guilty of this? And if so, is it really a sin, or is it possible that two different stories can be written simultaneously and still have a convincing plot and strong characters? Who knows, but I think it depends on the writer. If you’re the sort of writer who’s able to switch your mind easily from one story to another and stay true to the characters, then I say go for it – go ahead and cheat on manuscript number one with manuscript number two, and even (heaven forbid) manuscript number three! Just don’t tell your characters 😉
But, if the thought of this horrifies you and you think being the monogamous type is the right way to go, then repeat after me; “I (insert name here), promise to love, honour, and obey my current manuscript, till ‘the end’ do us part.” Sure, you can jot down some simple ideas for other stories as they arise, but be warned; one thing may lead to another and you could find yourself in a compromising position at third base when you only intended to go to first. Try explaining that to the revenge-driven gun-wielding action hero you created in manuscript number one.
Anyway, what do you think? What works for you? I personally am filled to the brim with ideas I want to pursue, so it would be detrimental to my family and friends, and possibly anyone within a five kilometre radius of my house, if I didn’t at least do some work on these other ideas while writing my current manuscript. I would quite likely explode if I didn’t. Having said that, I try to work mainly on one manuscript, but allow myself to write scenes in another when the inspiration strikes. Inspiration is such a random and beautiful thing, and like the Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston movie, sometimes it’s good to ‘Just Go With It’.
I was one of the lucky 350 attendees of the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference, held in Melbourne on 12th-14th August. The organisers did a fantastic job, and everything ran smoothly and professionally, allowing us writers to sit back and enjoy the event.
This was my first writer’s conference, yet I felt like part of a family, and was never without an interesting person to talk to. It was great to meet many of my online writing friends face to face, and I’m sure they were surprised to see that I am in fact a real person and not the cartoon avatar they’ve seen online!
I’m incredibly grateful to have met many wonderful authors, and the support and encouragement they gave me was amazing. There was no ‘us and them’, or ‘published and unpublished’, we were all united as writers, no matter what stage of the journey we’re at.
The venue (Hilton on the park, Melbourne) was lovely, and simply being child-free for four days without having to think about housework or real life in general was absolute bliss! I always love the feeling of arriving home, but I also love being able to think solely about writing and publishing for a few days without the distractions of daily life. Is it too early to book for next year’s conference?? 😉
I took as many notes as possible. Some information was new to me, some reinforced things I’d already learned but needed to be reminded of. Most importantly, I left feeling inspired, empowered, and dedicated to this path I’ve chosen.
The speakers were all fantastic, and I enjoyed listening and learning from Bob Mayer, Susan Wiggs, Lisa Heidke, Nikki Logan, Jane Porter, Christine Stinson, and all the authors, agents, and editors who enlightened, informed, and entertained.
Here are some of the key learnings I got from various speakers at the conference:
- Writing is an entertainment business – emotion & numbers
- Always stay one book ahead of your contract
- Have SOP’s – standard operating procedures, for organising your writing time, social media, emails…etc
- Write about what scares you most – the emotion will show through
- Write what you WANT to know
- Get ideas by thinking, ‘What if?’, ‘What if something is not what it appears to be?’
- Dissect plots in movies by looking at ‘scene selection’ and scene titles on DVD’s
- Show a character’s true nature through crisis
- Find time for writing by tracking how you spend your time over one week – where can you cut back on time wasters and devote that time to writing?
- Use twitter hashtags to attract target market, eg: ‘If you like #nameofsimilarbookormovie, you’ll like #nameofyourbook
- Characterisation: Consciously communicate subconscious behaviour that the reader will subconsciously get
- A book series can be unified by concept, theme, characters, setting
- Sell a few .99c ebooks as ‘hooks’ to introduce readers to your other books
- Women’s fiction for the 40+ age group is a hot market
- Self help books can be useful for researching character issues and how they overcome them
- Children in books – must bring something out in the characters
- Technique for endings – try mirroring the opening of the book, unites beginning to end
- Don’t wait until publication to think about a ‘brand’, do it now
- A brand is a promise, a symbol, and triggers an emotional response and recognition
- Can brand yourself as an author, or your books, or a character
- When stuck with the writing process, do something else within the story – research setting, visual prompts, write a letter from your character to an old friend in first person
- Content is king, promotion is queen
- And much more!
Apart from the conference sessions, the social part was memorable too. The 1920’s themed cocktail party was a lot of fun, as was the awards dinner (congratulations to all the award winners!), and I was happy to do my bit for the fundraising for the Otis Foundation, a charity I hadn’t heard of until now, who plays an extremely valuable role in providing retreats for women and men going through breast cancer.
Thanks to the RWA team, my fellow writers, the speakers, agents, editors, sponsors, and hotel staff for making it a conference to remember.
I’m looking forward to a successful lifelong writing career – from here… to eternity.
This is one of my favourite bits of writing advice, and as soon as I read those simple words in Donald Maass’ book, ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, I grabbed my trusty pink highlighter and slid it across the page. Mostly because I liked the advice, and partly because I love highlighting things! (I love the smooth feel as they glide along the page, and the colours you can get these days are gorgeous! But I’ll save that discussion for some other self-indulgent blog post, perhaps about stationary addiction).
It is SO important to write what you care about, because as Donald says, ‘If you don’t care, why should anyone else?’
Don’t write something just because you think it’s popular, or there’s a gap in the market. You have to like and care about what you’re writing in order to enjoy it and do it for the long haul.
This advice got me thinking about what I care about, and why I have written about certain topics. In my novel, The Life Makeover Club, I’ve written about women getting a chance to create the life they always wanted. I care about people being able to enjoy their lives and do the things they’re passionate about, rather than feeling like they’re stuck in a rut, or trapped in a life that isn’t what they want. Too many people settle for second best, or say ‘this is just my lot in life’, without thinking or taking action towards making their life better. Sure, there are some things that can’t be changed, but a lot can be, and probably one of the most important things you can change is your attitude.
My novel also explores motherhood, and how to be a good mother while still keeping your own identity – something I know many mothers struggle with. I’ve also highlighted (there I go again!) the humourous side to motherhood, as daily parenting can bring with it both challenging and funny moments, and sometimes you just have to laugh!
Another thing I care about creating awareness of is the often silent ‘emotional abuse’ in some relationships. Domestic violence gets a lot of press, and rightly so, but those suffering in an emotionally abusive relationship often suffer in silence because it is not seen, and the affected partner can feel like they are making a big deal out of nothing, or that maybe they are just too sensitive. I wanted to show a character going through this and finding the strength to come through it; to say ‘I don’t have to put up with this.’
Other themes, issues, and topics I care about, and are writing or plan to write about in future are:
– reconnecting with family
– personal empowerment
– trusting your intuition
– the reality of autism and the gifts it can provide
– the importance of being proactive with your health
– remembering and celebrating life’s little pleasures
– the need for a ‘place to call home’
– the valued role of grandparents
– thinking outside the box – ‘What if?’
– accepting people as individuals
– the valuable role of ‘the arts’ in our lives
– second chances, persistence, never giving up
What about you?
What do you care about?
What are you inspired to write or read about?