Monday, 28 September 2015

Book Review: Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers by Caylie Jeffery

I'm not really sure what the rules are for reviewing books written by friends, but please know me well enough that I would always give you an honest opinion in my reviews. I have too much respect for the Australian Publishing Industry to pay lip service to anyone. Even if you aren't friends with Caylie, you will be after reading this book. She shares the intimate stories that only friends share over coffee and through tears. She shares with the reader, just as she gives to all around her in real life, all that she has to give, without it feeling like an imposition or invasion.

I met Caylie at a workshop I was conducting for Queensland Writers Centre about publishing Picture Books. I knew right away, it wasn't for Caylie. She had far too much to say to fit into a 500 word limit, and the parents needed to hear it more than the kids. Kids are much smarter than grown ups after all.

It's reassuring to know instead of completely dashing her hopes of becoming a published author, she took my dare and looked instead at ways of writing that were more authentic for her personal writing style and less contrived to fit into a specific favourite genre. I wish more writers would take her lead. She had already been a successful writer before I met her, just not a print published one. It was her goal to change that.

Her book, Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers, is a quilt of blog posts about her life, her role as a parent and wife, and her views on the world around her. What I learnt about Caylie from reading this book was she is much braver than I am. Not only for the honesty she portrays in her book, but for things she has done with grace and there is not other word but...bravery.

The first story in the book hit me the hardest. I too struggle with not feeling adequate as a Mum, especially after 3 premature births, but unlike Caylie who asks for help, I am the Mum hiding in the public toilets trying to clean up poo with socks when I've run out of wipes and re-dressing my baby in the hodge podge of clothes that have somehow accumulated in the baby bag, which consists only of shorts and tracksuit pants, and racing back the car before anyone sees. She is braver than me because she can ask for help.

The story is around a derelict woman who asks to see her little boy as Caylie is walking alone around the streets of Harlem. Caylie is braver than me. She lets the lady touch her little boys feet. Caylie is braver than me. The lady gives her a crumpled $5 note and makes her promise to look after her son as she herself couldn't do with her own children. Caylie pins the $5 note to her apartment wall. I would have used it to buy need to read the first story in the book to find out why Caylie is braver than me.

This book is not only a perfect gift for new mothers, but anyone who needs a dose of reality in a world of projections of perfection. Her writing style in inclusive and endearing and I really hope she will write a book dedicated to her sailing adventures around the world. I would put on my imaginary lifejacket, as Caylie is braver than me, even in my imagination. If you agree with me, please contact her and let her know, just like I have.

I give Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers 4 stars out of 5. A great read.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Book to Blog at Queensland Writers Centre

Book To Blog

Last night, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Queensland Writers Centre Workshop conducted by Emily Craven, Caylie Jeffery and Nikki Parkinson about how to turn blogs into books. That's not the reason I went. I have already published to books but I have come to the realisation that I am missing out on connecting with the people who love my books because I am not blogging regulary, or at all since I have had Tom. With my upcoming role as chairperson at GenreCon about a social media presence, I thought I better walk the walk if I am going to talk the talk.
Caylie talked about writing from a place of authenticity and I really connected with that. As an independent publisher of Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers, she talked about independent publishers needed to provide quality products in order to be taken seriously and I totally agree. One thing she said really hit home. "There is not enough time to wait to be discovered." This is the blessing of social media. She also talked about finding an editor who knows what you are writing about to edit your work and this hit close to home after a bad experience at the beginning of my career. Her journey has changed so much since I met her in 2012 and I love that she is now teaching others how to start their own journey to find their authentic voice. There are still big things to come from Caylie.
Emily has always been a person that I admire. She is a natural teacher and has the cleverest way of thinking outside the square and applying it to her writing. She made it so clear that I have a long way to go with my blogging, with most popular blogs taking over three years to gather enough community to support it and for it to grow organically. I like how she made me feel like I am a trusted source of information, although I am the first to admit I don't have all the answers, and that people who like my books will be willing to invest in me. People find me all different ways, for different reasons and at different times in their writing journey. I want to be more accessible. I want to find more ways to connect.
I had never met Nikki before but I instantly loved her energy and willingness to share the secrets to her success. She talked about being willing to transition creatively throughout your career and look for opportunities to make money from activities around your writing to sustain a profitable business. Who knew there were blogging conferences? I really want to go to one so I am determined to commit to consistently writing my blog so I feel worthy enough to go. She has such a strong sense of community with her readers and that is what I am trying to develop. She also made a great point in saying you can't tell people how to follow you, you just need to be available for them to find. And, she made me want to swallow a teaspoon of cement and stop making excuses why I cant find the time to blog. My business as a writer is important to me and I have never been afraid to do what it takes to be successful.
On the way home I was looking at my old YouTube videos that I started when I had made the decision to really concentrate on my writing and become a successful author. Here is one from January 2013. 
I have changed sooo much since then, but my drive and determination are still as strong.
So my commitment to you is that I will blog Monday to Friday, giving you tips and lessons about getting your writing published, sharing what I am doing and where I am up to in my journey. If there is anything you would like to hear about in particular, please don't hesitate to contact me. I really appreciate your support.
x Michelle