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My Debut Novel – Plot Reveal!

I’m currently trawling through the feedback of my beta readers and working on the rewrites of my debut novel. Now that the story is coming to a more conclusive phase, it’s time to reveal a little more about the book itself.

The novel takes us on a magical romp through the ages of Australia’s longest-running women’s magazine, with characters springing to life from ‘magazines past.’

That’s all I’ve revealed so far, which is just a taster. So, let’s dive into more details.

The genre is women’s fiction, and I’ve used female characters almost exclusively. Most of them are epic. Some of them have a lot to learn (ahem…cue the hero).

Oh and, on that note, it’s unfortunate that I have to call it ‘women’s fiction’ just because that’s the recognised genre on Amazon. It’s a little dated in this day and age, and I apologise.

But, I digress.

Back to the story, we have a flawed hero, a young woman called Yasmin, whose skills lay in telling porkies. She’s not the most honest of people. But she has a dream – like most of us – and her dream is to work at Australia’s longest-running magazine. Throughout the book, we’ll see her ruthlessly pursuing that dream, sometimes to the detriment of herself and those around her. All while concocting the most fabulous tall tales she can muster.

Sounds like nothing can go wrong, right?

Well, the problem is that Yasmin has to face off the all-powerful and well-respected editor of said magazine – the irreplaceable Felicia Pine. Nothing gets past her. So, how will Yasmin land her dream job, with no experience and a faked resume?

Look out for the next blog instalment, in which I’ll reveal a further complication for our hero, in the form of fairy ghost-mothers!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: I’m revealing exclusive details about the book over at my Reader’s Group. Not everything is going to make it onto this blog, so head on over for goodies you can’t get anywhere else!

Swimming with the Funk​

This is not a post about a musical movement, or polluted waters, but what happens when life gets in the way. Maybe you can relate to this.

I’ve had a month of particularly bad luck. So apologies for being somewhat silent on this blog of late – life’s been handing me ginormous lemons and I’ve had neither the will nor the juicer to turn that much sour fruit into lemonade.

I’ve had every intention of writing, but each time I’ve sat at the keyboard, something pulled me in a different direction. Eventually, I gave into the momentum, let it take me for a little while, and decided to put my writing to the side. Other things can be more important than writing a book (or a blog post).

And that’s the point I want to make – life ebbs and flows, we have times when things are going well, and other times that are challenging. Make headspace for dealing with things and don’t feel guilty about taking time off.

There is good news though – I decided that my run of bad luck ended last Saturday and that I would dip my toes back into writing. But that in itself seemed as scary as the latest Halloween movie.

How would I find the momentum I’d previously had?

I have a secret – something I’ve learned on my travels. It never fails.

Set yourself a laughably small goal. For me, it was to write one new chapter over the course of the weekend (approximately 1,600 words). I knew I could do that. I had all day Saturday and all day Sunday to achieve that goal. And of course, once the weekend rolled around, I actually wrote two new chapters and edited 10 more.

If I had set myself that more challenging goal – write two new chapters and edit 10 more – I might have felt overwhelmed and gone to the movies instead (but definitely not to watch Halloween. Have you seen the poster? It’s terrifying).

Instead, I beat my goal, broke my writing funk and had a sense of achievement. I felt hopeful again!

So, wherever you are, if life is beating you down, know that things are cyclical, that most states are temporary. Swim along with the funk, instead of resisting it. And when you’re done dealing with life, commit to a tiny goal that sets you back on the path to where you want to be.

It really works.

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Why I want to High-Five Perfect Strangers

On my daily commute into Sydney’s CBD yesterday, I found myself staring out the window, occasionally nodding off as I tried to recreate the feeling of snoozing in bed beneath warm covers.

As my stop approached, my inner clock warned me that it was time to wake up.

I glanced around the train and saw other commuters, also wishing they were somewhere else. Some people expressed this aggressively, by playing loud music through headphones that could only be classified as ‘metallic construction shriek.’ Some ate into others’ personal space, in a tribal display of man-spreading. Yet others were glued to phones and the latest addictive must-play game of the year.

But there was one woman I wanted to high-five. Why you might ask? What could I possibly find in this forced shared experience, that would make we want to jump out of my seat, traverse the train carriage and slap hands with this perfect stranger?

She was reading a book.

You know, that thing we all used to read. With a pretty cover and real pages bound together. The thing that doesn’t need a power source. That is blissfully silent.

And it restored my faith that out there, somewhere, other people were enjoying books too, just like we did back in the 90’s, before the internet. It gave me hope that someone was savouring the simple act of turning the page, and hearing the paper rustle slightly against itself, and to feel the weight of those words in their hands.

Granted, this was one woman, on an entire train carriage. But it reminded me of what it was like, not so long ago in our human evolution, when smartphones were replaced with books or newspapers. Remember those?

So, I wanted to say ‘up high/down low/too slow!’ to this perfect stranger. She made my day.

I dare you to high-five a random book reader on your next commute. They’re difficult to spot, but they deserve our respect.

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: Do you like reading books too? Well, I’m writing one. If you’d like to read exclusive content that doesn’t make it onto my blog, and you’re a fan of women’s fiction, be sure to sign up to my newsletter. Thanks a bunch!

Bring on the Rewrites!

So here is the view from my editing desk tonight, as I hunker down and get some serious butt-in-chair time clocked. It’s great to be back working on the book, after waiting for my editor’s notes.

I am currently working hard on the rewrites, and I’m excited about this next stage. I realised that this is the only phase where I will be editing my debut novel – and to just enjoy it! The journey is just as important as the end result, which seems sooo far off at this point, but it’s getting closer. I promise.

I’ve also found the month’s break from the book to be inspiring – I’m keen to jump back in and rediscover the world that I’ve built (even if that world needs a little finessing to get it ship-shape).

While my amazing editor was busy making notes on the book, I was at a loss. What would I do with myself? Any changes I made to the book would have been redundant, so I was forced into a state of limbo.

Having spare time meant I was able to create a logo for my website (check it out at the top of this page). It’s always fun working with designers and seeing the concepts they create. And I’ve given my website a slight colour palette refresh. What do you think?

I’ve also been studying all things publishing and peeking ahead at the stages to come. I can’t wait to share my book with you!

One thing I learned during my ‘break’ is that Facebook only shows my posts to around 5% of people who like my page. Crazy, right? So the best way to keep in touch is via email (so I can let you know directly). Email is friendlier, and you get to ask me anything you fancy!

Be sure to sign up here if you’d like to follow my publishing journey. I share behind-the-scenes info that doesn’t make it onto my blog, plus first-look launch details. I send emails infrequently so your inbox won’t be bombarded. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First the rewrites, which will be fairly extensive. Which means, back to the editing desk for me!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Long Weekend Cons​

I flew down to Melbourne this long weekend, to attend the Continuum Speculative Fiction Convention, otherwise known as #Con_14, full of inspiring people, engaging panels and cosplay characters in action.

For those of you who aren’t quite sure what ‘speculative fiction’ entails, it’s an umbrella term used to group fiction with supernatural, fantastical or futuristic elements. Some examples are dystopias like Handmaid’s Tale, fantasy like Harry Potter, and Space Opera like Star Wars (OK, Star Wars is known more for its movies than its fiction, but said fiction does exist, and it’s a free pass to include the words ‘Star Wars’ in my blog).

Basically, Spec Fic is just a fancy name, an excellent excuse for Melbourne to host the con, and for me to geek out and hang with my peeps!

It’s been a while between visits to Melbourne. During my stay, I met outstanding writers, was thoroughly confused by – and accidentally paid for – the free trams, and sampled Melbourne’s best coffee (a large claim, but it didn’t disappoint) at Journeyman in Windsor.

I shared a room with my friend’s cat, Mozart, who is quite possibly the cutest feline on social media (again, a daring claim, but Mo-Mo definitely delivers). I learned that a cat can wake this human simply by staring at me, inches from my face. That’s kitty power.

I was also able to meet my writing buddy, who’s been there since the start of the novel-writing process, and who is a stand-up guy. We’ve had weekly progress chats each Sunday night since August, spurring each other on, but this is the first time we’ve met face-to-face.

So, a pretty inspiring trip (kitty-induced nightmares aside).

Back in Sydney, I’m enjoying a little downtime while waiting for feedback from my editor in a couple of weeks. I’ll then delve deep into the re-writes. The publishing calendar is coming together.

Until the next instalment, keep warm (if you’re in the southern hemisphere, like me), or enjoy the warmer climes (if you’re not). And thanks for sticking around!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: If you’d like to follow my publishing journey, feel free to register your interest. More sneak-peeks, goodies and freebies to follow!

Pss: If you’re more into social media, head on over to twitter or my Facebook page. Come and say ‘hi’ (I promise my purr is louder than my bite).

Ready For the Editor!

Well, it’s done; the 7th Draft of my debut novel in only 8 months. I’ve just finished the verbal read-through and it’s ready for the editor. The pic above is what 90,000 words looks like!

8 months might seem like a long time to some, and a short time to others. But I have never reached this far with a novel, so it feels a little special. And everyone has to go at their own pace.

Now that I’m finished a fairly polished draft, this week I will find an editor and send out for quotes. It will be the first time I’m seeking professional feedback on the novel.

A little scary! But also exciting.

So, while I enjoy this little milestone, I wanted to give some encouragement back to you.

Celebrate your own milestones, whether or not they’re writing-related.

If you’ve started anything new recently, you’ll know that at first, it’s terrifying. Who wants to be a beginner again? Especially if you’ve reached a stage in your life where you’ve pretty much got your life and work down to a fine art (you hardly have to think when driving to the supermarket, or preparing a familiar meal, or deciding which cafe delivers the most consistent cup of java).

For me, there were many scary moments in the writing process; joining the self-publishing course. The first time I posted in various expert Facebook groups. My first call with an accountability buddy. Persevering to write through the doubt and fear. Committing to a schedule, then committing to deadlines. Calling myself a ‘writer’ for the first time.

So be sure to celebrate as you go along, with all the new things you’ll learn and do. The people you’ll meet, the inspiration you’ll find along the way. Because it’s those milestones that keep us moving towards our goals, that breaks the process down into manageable chunks.

Life ensures we have some tough days, each and every one of us. So when things are tough, just remember how far you’ve come. You may surprise yourself at all the ‘firsts’ you’ve accumulated so far.

And, if you haven’t tried something new in a while, I can totally recommend you do. Listen to a new genre of music. Read a non-fiction book, if you usually read fiction. Go along to that Spanish class you’ve always wanted to try. Heck, even walk a new route to work.

And above all, keep celebrating, friends!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

ps: if you’d like to follow my publishing progress and never miss a post, be sure to sign up for my newsletter (at the very top of this page). And thank you for your support! More news to follow.

From ‘Zero’ to ‘Hero’ in Two Days

Hello, all you lovely people, and thanks for reading. Why am I so excited?

I have set the date for my debut novel to be sent to an editor!

By Sunday 13th May, the manuscript will have started to stitch together in (somewhat) the right places. I’ll send it out into the world, to be marked through with red pen, on most lines, on every page.

That’s next-level terrifying, but we’ll get there. I promise.

The reason I have a date with the editor? I pumped out half a draft of editing (that’s 21 chapters) in two days.

Yep – in two days. I broke my brain and both retinas, but there you go.  I nudged the floodgates open and rode that tide of inspiration, or denial, or stubbornness. Probably that last one.

I heaved into my chair on Saturday morning, knowing I was two weeks behind. I pulled out on Sunday two whole weeks ahead. And now, the fifth draft of my debut novel sits gleaming in a folder on my computer.

When you’re lagging by two weeks, it doesn’t seem possible. I’m here to encourage you to shoot high. It is possible. I used to hate deadlines, but now they’re my best weapon. I love to dust them off, just to gloat at the universe; “Hey you, universe! Yes, you. This is something I can control. So there.”

You know what I’m talking about, right? No? Then don’t be a goose. Figure out what you’d like to achieve, then set yourself a deadline. This is my number one trick for getting words on paper and massaging them into something legible. The pressure of time.

So, buckle up. I invite you to travel the home stretch with me, your head lolling out the passenger side window as we rumble down that highway. Let’s see where this outlandish route takes us.

Hopefully, not hurtling over a cliff at 100km per hour. Nah, that won’t happen. Or will it? *cues next month’s update*

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: Feeling inspired? Excited? Have a burning question for a nearly-published debut novelist? Join the ride and sign up at the top of this page. Take that, Facebook algorithm! Email rules.

Keeping it Real

Please excuse me while I take some time out, to talk about this thing called writing, and this thing called life.

A few people have been following my publishing journey, which has been fantastic (massive shout out to anyone who’s read, liked or shared this blog. I am truly humbled).

However, some of these readers have assumed I’m doing well, based on my newsletter updates and blog posts.

I realise I’m posting only the rosy, only the good. Most of us are guilty of this, and I’m only human. After all, who feels like writing a blog post when life is shitty?

And writing – like everything else in life – means ecstatic times, and tough times, and times when I’d like to un-publish this blog and live my remaining days as a hermit in a cave in the pristine forests of Tasmania. Yes, that would be nice.

So I’d like to keep it real. Sometimes we forget to post the whole picture, the authentic journey, and I don’t want to mislead anyone. Life is not a series of happy snaps on social media.

This writing gig is hard. I mean, it’s really, really hard. If it were easy, everyone would have a fantasy series about boy wizards under their belt and would post a witty blog post every single day.

Does that happen in real life? Nope.

So while I may post that I’ve hit another milestone, or surpassed another deadline, most of that is only possible because I’m at my desk, bum in chair, chiselling out page after page, even if I don’t feel like it.

Case in point; I’m currently sitting at my dining room table (aka writing desk) typing furiously until my fingers cramp. On a Saturday night. I’m a real hoot.

So, is it all worth it? Absolutely. But just because I’m not whingeing, doesn’t mean life’s not sometimes a struggle.

There are days where I feel like the little ant in the picture above (look closely, he’s tiny), and I’m carrying a pile of stuff way heavier than my body.

Because whatever you’re into in life, if it’s something you have to work hard at, chances are it’s important to you. We’re all battling in our own ways, balancing busy lives, and only posting the rosy moments. Just know, that’s not the whole story, so let’s keep it real!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: To hear behind-the-scenes shenanigans I don’t share on my site, or to keep informed on all the latest blog posts, please sign up at the very top of this page. More goodies to be released soon!

30 Miraculous Mornings

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you’ll know that I challenged myself to wake up early every day for the previous 30 days, and write (as well as meditate, read and exercise, amongst other things).

I have a day job, so writing in the mornings makes total sense. I’ve been wishing for this routine for years but have always struggled to get up. I’d set several alarms, some of them in other rooms; even one alarm that required completing a maths puzzle before it shut off.

And I still went back to bed.

Now that I think about it, forcing myself to complete a maths puzzle just so I could start my day was entirely the wrong approach. No wonder I hated mornings!

I’ve got to be straight up, these past 30 days have not been consecutive, there’s been the odd wobble. But, this morning marked my 30th day of The Miracle Morning, and I feel fantastic.

The days I’ve beaten the snooze button have felt pretty miraculous. I’ve started the day on my terms, connected with my values and spent at least half an hour writing and editing my debut novel. I’m further along than I otherwise would have been.

I even caught myself singing on the walk to the train station. Me – the worst morning person I knew – singing that I was out of bed and alive, taking in the morning air.

I’ll have to stop or this will sound like a sermon, but seriously, go grab yourself a copy of Hal’s book, especially if you’re a writer or someone who wants to find more time in their day for themselves.

Did anyone join me for the ride? Be sure to let me know!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie

Ps: If you’d like to receive alerts whenever I publish new blogs, or to hear tasty behind-the-scenes shenanigans I don’t share on my site, please sign up at the very top of this page. More goodies to be released soon!

My New Year’s Resolution (Better Late than Never)

I wasn’t going to bother with a post about new year’s resolutions. It’s easy to be distracted by fireworks and the heady champagne of signalling in a new year. You believe in the possibility of doing all the things you’re supposed to do, so you enthusiastically make plans to lose weight or drink less or run a marathon.

But then you don’t do those things. Your pendulum might even swing the opposite way as you rebel against these resolutions.

Personally, I was battling jet lag on New Year’s Day and struggling to get back into a normal sleeping pattern, much less think about tangible goals I’d later renege on.

Then January went on its merry way, and here it is, almost February. So why post about New Year’s Resolutions now?

Well I intend to go one better – rather than sticking with a goal for a few days, and then aborting all progress (isn’t that how all new year’s resolutions go), I wanted to focus on something with a chance of becoming a life-long habit.

I wanted to get up early, every day, to write.

I’d been battling with this for years, have tried and abandoned beating the ‘snooze’ button on more occasions than I’ll admit in print. In fact, I was hard pressed to get to work on time, let alone wake up earlier than I absolutely had to.

So, when I came across a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – which promised to get absolutely anyone out of bed at 5am, every day, as enthusiastically as a kid on Christmas morning – I couldn’t resist.

In the tradition of posting goals here on my blog, so that I’m accountable and follow through, I am committed to getting up early each day, for the next 30 days, to write before work or weekend activities begin. You’ve kept me accountable before, so here’s hoping it works again!

By the way, check out Hal’s book, it’s touted as the book to change your life (for success in all areas), and it’s become a global phenomenon.

And if you feel like being an early riser with me for the next 30 days, I’ll help keep you accountable! Your goal may not be to write; you may wish to turn up on time for work, or eat a healthy breakfast, or complete a little exercise to start the day. Your goals are your own – drop me an email at info@jackiemccarthy.com to let me know how you’re faring!

Yours in creativity,

Jackie