Jun 19, 2015

Australia Week: A Lucky Country. A Lucky Writer. by Jenn J McLeod

A Lucky Country. A Lucky Writer.
By Jenn J McLeod

It was J K Rowling who said [about getting published], “It’s hard work and luck, and that the first often leads to the second.” So I figured, given I live in ‘the lucky country’, I only had to work hard and my publishing dream might actually come true.

I’d dabbled and daydreamed for decades while waiting for that lucky break, working hard to learn the craft as well as everything I could about the publishing business. Even so, no one was more shocked than me when, in 2012, the publisher from Simon & Schuster telephoned to offer me a two-book deal. More good fortune saw my 2013 debut, House for all Seasons, make #5 spot on the Australian Best Selling Debut Novel list. How lucky did I feel, especially knowing so many wonderful Australian writers, all hard working and with the same dream as me?

Lucky, however, is not what I would call some of my characters.
Take poor Maggie, in Simmering Season. Calingarry Crossing’s local publican has no idea the perfect storm is heading her way and about to blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets.  In my debut, House for all Seasons, I have four women, each as different as the seasons: Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love; Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval; Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures; and Caitlin, a doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life.

This year (2015) saw my third book released. Season of Shadow and Light is Paige’s story. After the stillbirth of her son, post-partum stroke robs the professional food reviewer of her sense of smell and taste. When it seems everything she trusts is beginning to betray her, including her husband, Paige and Matilda, with Nana Alice in tow, take off on a road trip to the small Australian country town of Coolabah Tree Gully, only to discover the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

I’m on a bit of a road trip myself now. I’ve sold everything I own to buy a fifth wheeler caravan and I plan on doing the big lap around this lucky country to find small towns and quintessential Aussie characters to inspire more small town stories.

And about that luck thing . . . I do tend to agree with J.K.; there is definitely and case for ‘right place, right time’ and in the publishing business luck does play a hand if you also have the right story. But I believe luck happens when preparedness and opportunity meet. And we control both these to some degree.

We can make opportunities by connecting with other writers online and we can prepare by writing the best story possible and knowing when to let go. No one sells a story that sits on a hard drive, or isn’t perfect enough. I procrastinated for months—polishing and perfecting. I read and re-read House for all Seasons so many times I began to question everything. I had no other opinions—professional or otherwise—to lift me out of the big hole of self-doubt. I’d only let one person read the entire manuscript because I simply wasn’t brave enough. (Many new authors say that sharing early drafts is like stripping naked in the vegetable section of the local supermarket. Showing your work in its undressed state leaves you feeling exposed, a little goofy and sadly, if your fruit and veg is like mine, over-ripe!) Instead, I kept cutting and polishing for extra shine to make sure my manuscript stood out from that slush pile.


Lucky for me my publisher’s decision was not based on my ‘faultless submission’ and she was willing to see beyond the typos & poor grammer grammor, grammar. I’d died a thousand excruciating deaths when my first round of edits arrived and I saw the errors I’d missed.

That’s what I call ‘lucky’.

To find out more about Jenn J McLeod and her Australian Contemporary Fiction: www.jennjmcleod.com

You can also friend or follow her on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/JennJMcLeod.Author  &/or  the Readers of Jenn J McLeod group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jennjmcleod.author/
On Twitter:      @jennjmcleod #WriteRoundOz

For book information and buy links see Simon & Schuster Australia. http://authors.simonandschuster.com.au/Jenn-J-McLeod/404929874

1 comment:

  1. Your books sounds fascinating, Jenn. Loving the sound of Simmering Season. Thanks for sharing, Suze. :) xx


Be an e-tailPR blogger