Today is the 5th anniversary of being a published author. It’s my publishaversary! 😀
(Psst! Keep reading to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a signed copy of one of my books, and a journal… 🙂 )
It’s days like this that make you think back on your journey and how far you’ve come…
Since my first book, FAST FORWARD, was published in 2013, 16 more books have followed, and 4 anthologies/collections (see my BOOKS page for all the details). I’ve written romantic comedy, women’s fiction and coastal/small town romance, young adult supernatural mystery, and self help. I love diversity, and writing different genres helps me to feel creatively fulfilled.
I’ve learned a lot over the past five years of being in the industry (and also my eight years of writing), about writing itself, the editing and publishing process, cover design, marketing, and have experienced all the ups and downs including getting new contracts, getting an agent, getting rejections, getting good reviews and bad reviews, having the genres I choose to write both celebrated and ridiculed, and being both on time and behind with deadlines… the writing life is definitely a rollercoaster! I’ve also come to teach what I’ve learned by running online courses and doing coaching and critiquing for other writers, with Writing Mojo Academy.
But today, I want to write about something else:
How Becoming A Writer Helped Me Become Myself…
I’ve been reading a lot about authenticity lately, about the courage to be yourself, and coming into awareness of who you really are. Writing has, I feel, helped me to find my authentic voice, both in my writing and in my personal life, and discover and create who I really am.
When I think back to that person I was when I first opened a word document and wrote, Chapter One, she is so different to the person I now am.
My writing journey started when another journey had ended… my successful career as a naturopath, online health coach, and business owner. It didn’t end in a bad way, my circumstances simply changed, and with them, I had to change. My priorities had shifted, and deciding to put the wellbeing of my son first, I left my career, took him out of school, and facilitated his high school education myself through distance learning (a form of homeschooling, done through a high school). This decision not only helped him (he is now 21 and has not only written a couple of novels himself, but is pursuing a career in acting and also photography), but it also helped me, even though I felt guilty leaving my patients behind and wondering how on earth I was now going to pay my bills.
It was when this change began that I started reading again, never having had much time for it unless it was a medical or health book, or a research manual. I got back into fiction, and then ideas started to form in my mind. I would like to try writing a book… I think I can do it… I just want to know what it feels like to write a complete novel… thoughts roamed around my head, until that day I wrote ‘Chapter One’. From that moment on, I never stopped. I found my passion, my calling; to be a storyteller and to bring entertainment and inspiration to other people.
But I had no idea at the time that my writing journey would become an intensely personal journey of self-discovery.
When I started, I was undergoing immense change from being a successful working single mother, to a stay at home single mother homeschooling a child with special needs. I became isolated. Lonely. Withdrawn. I had also started developing a health issue that continued for many years, and for the next five years or so, every day was a struggle just to get by. To have the energy to get through the school lessons. To do the household chores. Even the grocery shopping took all my energy and effort for the day. But still I wrote. Writing became my outlet, my therapy …my healing.
I had loved working in the health field and was a confident and highly-regarded practitioner, but inside, I was struggling to understand and accept who I was as a person. An individual. A woman. Not only a mother or a practitioner. I hadn’t yet become aware of the fullness or truth of my identity. In some ways, I was scared to be myself.
Writing gave me a voice.
It gave me confidence.
It gave me self-expression.
Through my characters I dealt with life’s challenges, I found ways to understand things that had happened to me, I processed my emotions through my character’s emotions, and I enjoyed the thrill of my characters’ experiences.
By creating new lives through the art of fiction, I created my own new life.
I was not only becoming a writer, I was becoming myself. My true self, that until then, hadn’t been fully expressed.
And when I became published, I became heard. I hadn’t felt truly ‘heard‘ before. This was both exciting and scary, but the more I found out that readers enjoyed my books, the more confident I became, in my writing, and in myself.
Writing books, meeting other writers, reading their books, and immersing myself in this wonderful world of words, made me feel like I had found people who ‘got’ me. Who I could relate to. And I developed many new friendships as a result.
The more and more I wrote, the more and more my life started to become something resembling a novel! Sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, and sometimes heartbreaking. My career blossomed, and so did I. I started connecting with more and more people, trying new experiences, enjoying greater health by finally looking after myself and not just my patients, and ‘came out of my shell’. I even got a tattoo! …Something I had never thought I would do, but as I became more aware of my own essence, I wanted to express it, and as an artist as well, this was one way that felt right. It made me feel more ‘me’.
I am proud to stand confident and say I am a creative, motivated, determined, intuitive, resourceful, and kind person. A mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunty, a partner, a writer, and a woman.
It is always a process, and sometimes it’s not easy; learning more about yourself and coming to love and accept yourself and be confident with who you are, but I am there. My words, and the 19 books I’ve written so far helped me get there. They helped me tune into my own authenticity and personal power, and to finally be able to say, ‘It’s okay to be me, just as I am.’
Thank you for reading.
Love, Juliet xo
To enter to win a signed copy of my latest book, THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT; a journal of transformation through the art of letter writing, please visit my Facebook page and follow the instructions on the GIVEAWAY post! And to stay tuned for more giveaways coming up this month, select ‘get notifications’ on my page to make sure you are notified when I post on Facebook.
I’ll draw the winner on Feb 8th. Contest open INTERNATIONALLY.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the fabulous managing editor of Escape Publishing, Kate Cuthbert! She’s here today for Escape’s one year birthday to discuss the past year and what the future holds for Escape, and how you could be a part of this innovative imprint!
1. Happy Birthday Escape! So tell me, if you could receive any birthday present to commemorate your first year as Managing Editor, what would you choose?
Is it mercenary to ask for 50 Shades level sales? Probably, huh? 🙂 Alright, first anniversary is paper. So how about a certificate of achievement. Something old school like you used to get in primary school, that I can frame on my wall that says, ‘Hey! Escape! One year down, many to go!’
2. What are one or two of your biggest highlights from working with Escape over the past year?
The biggest highlight for me is the community of authors that we’ve built up, the Escape Artists. Their talent, their enthusiasm, their professionalism – just a great bunch of writers and a fantastic bunch of people.
The second highlight is the range of stories that we unearthed over the year – we’ve covered so much ground, put so much out there. I’m really proud of the variety of quality stories that we’ve published.
Apart from a monstrous amount of reading, I’m also heavily involved in editorial direction (which means identifying holes in our catalogue and looking to fill them, as well as some future-gazing into what we think will be the next big sellers), marketing, briefing for covers, reviews, blogging, social media – pretty much all aspects of Escape barring the technical stuff which is handled by people much more adept than me!
4. Escape has published books in a wide variety of sub-genres. What have been the three most successful genres for Escape so far?
Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Australian Rural Romance.
5. Escape does fabulous book covers. Do you have a few favourites out of all the wonderful designs so far? (Or is that like choosing between kids?)
Oh wow. Umm…I really really love the covers for the erotic historical novellas The Secret Diaries… and The Wicked Confessions…from Viveka Portman – they just encapsulate the stories so well, and are incredibly sexy and classy. We couldn’t have found a better image for Fast Forward, and I love the candy colours of that cover. And Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake and Awakening by Lara Morgan are just beautiful fantasy covers.
6. How many submissions do you get on average each week? How many of these do you request the full manuscript of?
On average I receive 10 – 15 manuscripts a week. I probably request fulls of 25% of those, and publish 15% of the whole.
7. What are three key ingredients in a successful submission for Escape?
Following the submission guidelines is a good first step! But the way to get published by Escape (and, really, anyone) is to have the three components of a good book: excellent pacing, fantastic characters, and breathtaking emotional development.
8. When you’re not reading submissions, what books/authors do you like to read for fun?
You may find this hard to believe that I still love to read romance! But I’ve been getting into crime fiction and non-fiction recently as well. I met Kathryn Fox at GenreCon and have been enjoying her novels (slowly, between submissions). The next three must-reads for me are Cecilia Grant’s A Woman Entangled, Julia Quinn’s The Sum of All Kisses, and Laura Lee Guhrke’s When the Marquess Met His Match.
9. What are the benefits of publishing with Escape Publishing?
I like to say we have the four F’s – fun, fearless, flexible, and fast. We take risks, we really understand and love romance fiction, and we’re dedicated to building careers as well as our imprint.
10. Now that Escape has turned one, what’s the vision for Escape over the coming months and years?
Our first year was about building a catalogue, getting a backlist up, and mapping out a place in the Australian publishing landscape. Our next steps are establishing and cementing that place, identifying and promoting key authors, and building reader trust in our brand.
Make sure that your story is the best it can possibly be. Edit, revise, rework. Make sure someone you trust to be honest reads it, and listen to them. Take advice, but don’t compromise your voice. Take risks and write your story, not the story you think will sell.
And, for goodness’ sake, begin your story and narrative at the same point. The number one reason I have for rejecting a manuscript is the narrative starting long before the story, or starting and then looking backwards.
Escape is always open for submissions, via our website, www.escapepublishing.com.au. Submission guidelines are available there, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks Kate! So c’mon writers, polish up those manuscripts and send them to Kate, and readers, head over to the Escape website and check out the fabulous titles available!
What’s a calliversary? Well, you may (or may not) have heard authors talk about getting The Call, as in an offer of publication from a publishing house (or from an agent who wants to offer representation or tell you of a publishing offer). On this day last year, 5th October, I got what’s referred to as The Call, even though it was an email (Emailiversary just doesn’t sound right though, so let’s stick with call) 😉
You can read about my Call in the blog post I wrote about it last year, here. But basically, this is what happened…
I went outside to have a bit of relaxation on the balcony, and just as I lay down on my deck chair, my email pinged (yes I was holding my phone, I’m surgically attached to it). Let’s just say my relaxation lasted all of five seconds. The email said:
Thank you for submitting Fast Forward. I am delighted to accept it for publication (and lots of other stuff, but that’s all I could read in that moment of excitement, relief, and general overwhelming emotion).
So here I am today, one year later, and that book has been published and available for over eight months now. Not only that, I signed three more contracts within this last year, all with Escape Publishing. Fast Forward, my debut novel, was published in February, I Dream of Johnny was published in September, Starstruck in Seattle was published in October (as in just recently), and The January Wish will be published in January 2014. So it’s quadruple the fun for me on this calliversary!
How time flies! It’s been one hell of a fun ride, and let me tell you, being published is only the beginning of this journey. It doesn’t end there. If anything, I have more goals, am more focused on my writing, and more committed to making a success of my writing career.
Now, back to Fast Forward and some milestones that have occurred over the past year…
I was over the moon when I got my first cover, it was like seeing my baby for the first time, and didn’t the designers do an awesome job?! I’m also grateful to everyone who’s left a review, and really pleased that the majority have been extremely positive. It’s such a great feeling to know that people have enjoyed my book.
Earlier this year I got to participate in my first online book club, thanks to Harlequin Junkie who chose Fast Forward as their book club pick of the month. I had a ball chatting to readers and they asked me some great questions.
And just the other day I got a huge surprise when I was told Fast Forward was featured in the Big W catalogue that gets delivered to many houses around Australia! (For those not in Aus, Big W is a big (well, of course) discount department store, and a huge seller of books). My book was used to help promote their new ebook section. And they have it available for free for a limited time, so if you’re in Australia you can download it here. If not, you can buy it from all good ebook retailers, the links to which are here.
If that’s not exciting enough, the book is a finalist in the Book Junkies Choice Awards in the women’s fiction category! Voting starts on the 14th October so keep an eye out and get voting! 😉
…I can’t believe a year has already gone by since I sat down to relax that day, not knowing an important email was about to hit my inbox. And I can’t wait to see how things are this time next year!
Thanks Escape Publishing for publishing my books, and thanks readers for buying and reading them. And now, I’m off to celebrate my Calliversary! J
Here’s a fun fact: if you submit to Escape now, you can be a published (or multi-published) author by Christmas. We’re working to an aggressive publishing program, and we want stories!
I’m going to list some subgenres/themes that I’m very interested in, but please note: we publish all subgenres all the time. So if yours doesn’t necessarily fit in to the list, I still want to read it.
Here’s our submission page: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/submission
Why submit to Escape?
- Australian location, global reach
- Actively seeking risky, niche, or cross-genre stories
- Publishes short stories (of more than 5000 words), novellas, and short and long-length novels
- Small, flexible team, with the backing of Harlequin’s knowledge, experience, and professionalism
- No synopsis required! Just a 100-word blurb.
- Two-week turn-around guarantee for initial response
So what are you waiting for?
Subgenres/themes that I’m particularly interested in:
- Romantic suspense
- Erotic romance
- Historical romance (any period/any time/any…
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I’m over at the Life In A Pink Fibro blog today talking about how to write a romance novel and the ten things I’ve learned on my journey to publication. It was interesting to look back on where I was a few years ago to where I am now. I hope you’ll get a lot out of this post!
And if you haven’t visited my blog for a while, here are some other recent posts you might like to check out:
– I took the plunge like Jenn J McLeod did and interviewed myself! Past Present Future with…me!
– Annie Seaton shares her Promotional Tips for Authors.
– Sandra Antonelli and I discuss the issue of ‘older’ women in fiction at the Escape Blog.
I’m also thrilled to have received some great reviews for Fast Forward recently, over at Novel Escapes, YA Novelties, and Chick Lit Club! A BIG thank you to the reviewers for taking time to read the book and write the reviews. 🙂
Coming up soon on the blog, an interview with Natalie Charles, a guest post by Ros Baxter, and a post on Twitter Basics for Authors. Stay tuned!