Pop the champagne! I have BOOK NEWS!

I've been bursting at the seams to let you all in on some news I've been waiting to be finalised!

I've just signed a two-book publishing contract with Harlequin Australia! 
 
My debut novel THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE, will be published under Harlequin's MIRA imprint in both print and eBook formats! I've been pinching myself every morning since I found out about the news. It really is a dream come true. 

When I took the initial steps to write the first draft of this book, I didn't really know what I was going to write. Looking back, I think I was waiting for inspiration to fall from a cloud! THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE is the first adult manuscript I wrote and I had no idea where it would take me. Some things have a way of falling into place though, and this book led me down the path of signing with a wonderfully supportive agent and ultimately achieving a childhood dream after receiving multiple offers to publish it.

I enjoyed every minute of writing this book, and had one of those magical experiences most writers wish for where the words and story seem to unfold effortlessly. Admittedly, while the first draft took me six weeks to write, revision took a little while longer!

The team at Harlequin have shown a lot of enthusiasm for my book and I'm really excited to be working with them. Writers dream of people connecting deeply with their work and when we're lucky enough to find those people it really is a wonderful feeling! 

So, while I wait for my editorial notes to come in, I'm currently working on the first draft of what will be my second book. It's not pouring out of me like the first did, but I'm absolutely enjoying the process and the research involved! More to come on that down the track, but like the first, it'll be a book club read that tugs on the heart strings.

While I've been blogging and podcasting and writing about writing for some time now, I've kept fairly quiet about my fiction writing and my journey towards publication. This is mainly because said journey is usually one filled with lots of behind-the-scenes hard work, and a considerable amount of waiting for "things to happen" mixed with moments of cautious optimism followed by excitement and elation.

Many of you who are reading this have watched me take the leap from corporate career to launching a digital parenting magazine, to stepping away from that to pursue my writing more seriously. So thank you to each and every one of you that's taken an interest in my work and words and journey. I really appreciate you all for supporting and encouraging me!

Over the coming months I'll be sharing some of the steps and milestones that have led me to this point. I'll do a bit of a rewind all the way back to what inspired me to write this novel, how I went about the revision process, how I fit the writing in, and how I ended up finding my agent. I'll also share the first thing I did after accepting my publishing offer. Interestingly enough, it didn't involve champagne!

I'd love for you to join in some of the online celebrations! 

Come drop past Facebook to say hello if we aren't connected there already. You can also find me on Twitter and Kimberley and I will also be chatting about my journey to publication in upcoming podcast episodes. 

I'd love for you to join me for the ride as I work on all the steps involved in bringing this book to shelves! 

Until next time,
Vanessa xo

Ideas to Help You Get Unstuck in the Middle of a Manuscript Draft

If you follow me online on the social media places I frequent like Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you might already know that I'm currently in the process of writing a novel which is in the first draft stage. 

I love many of the stages of the writing process -- the innocence, curiosity and freedom of a first draft, to the eye opening wonder and layering of a second draft, to the depth and shaping when all the hard work starts to pay off in a third draft. I live for the moment of being able to actually "see" beyond those early drafts to the actual story itself. It's like wiping away a thick film of dust  on a grubby window pane to see the new world you have created expand before your eyes.

 

Writing a novel can be so exciting and absorbing but it can also be challenging keeping threads together, making sure your ending delivers on what you've promised in the beginning, and becoming aware of character motivations and actions, and so on. And so on. And so on!

I'm always a bit hesitant to give writing advice because I don't think there's any one way to write a book. As I've learned, the way I'm writing this particular book is different to how I wrote my first. Even I'm surprised at the process. What I've learned is that every creative piece is different and knowing how to allow your piece to unfold is one of the things that makes the process of writing beautiful.

So, rather than give you absolute advice on something where any absolute advice aside from "keep going" or "persevere" or "trust yourself, but still keep going!" isn't going to fit everyone, I'm going to share some of the things that have worked for me. So, if you reach the middle of your novel and feel a little stuck, here are some things that have helped me in my writing life. 

Learn when it's time to take a breather

It can sometimes be very hard to jump back into a manuscript after you've skipped a few consecutive days of writing. Sometimes though, it can be helpful if you  consciously allow yourself some distance from your work because it lets you come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. A little bit of distance can help with perspective. For me, the trick is to know when resistance is stopping me from producing words I'm happy with, versus genuinely needing to take a break. Sometimes, you need to write your way through a plot point to find a thread, and other times, you need space for more ideas to swirl around. With practice, you can come to learn the difference. Key here? Be honest with yourself. Tired and emotionally zapped? (Take a break.) Or feeling scared and uncomfortable? (Trust, and power ahead anyway.)

 Print Out Your Pages 

The experience of reading a manuscript online is very different to reading printed pages. I find the process of reading printed pages lends itself to really being able to see the bigger picture. There's also space to scribble notes and ideas. So, sometimes, I'll stop in the middle of a first draft to print things out and see what's actually happening, so I can identify threads and get a sense of how best to continue. Here are some of the things I have scrawled into the early chapters of my manuscript:  

Why does she say this? Would she really say it? What does this say about her? How do I bring this out more in future chapters?

You need to show the reader WHY she is thinking this.  

How is this relevant and how does it relate to the plot? 

Do we need to know this right now?  Delete? Move?

Telling. 

Telling. 

Way too much telling! 

Sentence structure. Fix!

Need to go deeper here with this point. 

Flat scene ending. 

More emotion here. 

Mention this earlier. Needs build up.

Better transition needed. 

Make this better!

Read a book

Sometimes the last thing I want to do is read while I'm working on a project, but if I get really stuck and know it's time to take a break, reading can sometimes be really helpful. There's something I find wonderfully inspiring about reading well-told stories (even better if they contain beautiful prose) and if I'm lucky it makes me yearn to go back to my own writing project to play around with my own words. Sometimes all it takes is a chapter or two and then I'm caught between that delicious push-pull of: do I write or do I keep on reading? 

Pick up a notebook

There's something comforting about being able to curl up on the couch with a cuppa and write as if the world isn't watching. Which it's not, but it feels like something a little sacred and special, to pick up a Leuchtturm or a Moleskine and pepper it with loopy handwriting without having doubts cross your mind as you stare back at a typed paragraph and question what you've written. What's a delete key? I find writing by hand to be a more personal, gentler way of writing, and while I couldn't write a whole novel this way, I often use this tool to experiment with scenes or pick up where I've left off if I don't quite know what to write next. It's said there's a heart to hand connection when you write this way and I'm shuffling to the side that believes this is probably true.

So, those are a handful of tips aside from "keep going," "persevere," and "trust yourself but still keep going." I hope you find them helpful and I'd love to hear how you help yourself to get unstuck!

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The Beauty of Writing -- What I Wish All New Writers Knew.

The first words are often the hardest, even when they come easily. The first words are ones that open up a new world, introduce us to new characters, ones that we might not necessarily be acquainted with, at least not in action even if you have filled the pages of a notebook with character traits and have countless images pinned on a Pinterest board. For me, the beginning is the most testing time of writing a book. The road ahead seems so long and in between those stretches of road where things seem partially illuminated, the overall route feels very dimly lit. 

At 5,000 words I feel impatient that I still don't quite know where things are going. This feeling sticks with me until I reach 10,000 words and it doesn't matter how many people believe in me, or whether I believe in myself. Because this here is a matter of trust, of perseverance, of being able to dance with creative magic long enough to create something out of nothing without knowing the outcome and being comfortable with that.

Even though I know all of this, I still think that I should be hitting my stride by now, but I'm not quite there, and so the discomfort amplifies. I make another cup of tea. What if this isn't the "right" book for me to be writing? Shouldn't this be easier? I challenge this tricky sabotage dusted with irrational expectations and unhelpful questions by focusing on one thing:

What happens next?

Not tomorrow, or next week, or on page 229, but the next sentence, the next line of dialogue. I focus on the scene at hand. I'm still working hard to tap into that place of trust and openness because I know that this is where my best work comes from. The only way I know how to get to that place is by being present. So I approach each session the same way: I push the earbuds in, press play, close my eyes, breathe in, and imagine myself in scene like a quiet observer, trusting that my words will lead me to where we need to go.

And they always do.

And eventually...after days of awkwardly dancing with the muse, something happens. The thing I've been waiting for since my opening sentence. The thing that happens once you let go of judgement, of fear, of doubt, of resistance. Suddenly, instead of having to fit in the time to write, I'm practically begging the universe to help me find more time to write. And it takes everything to not drop every other responsibility in my life for a chance to get back in scene with my characters. 

This is what I wish all new writers knew. Especially the pantsers. If you push past the discomfort by treating your first draft with gentleness and reverence, there will come a point that your story will take hold of you instead of you taking hold of your story. With every sentence of dialogue, with every scene, you almost take a back seat as your characters show you where they want the story to lead. 

This is the beauty of writing. 

I hope you stick with it long enough to come to know it.

Your Creative Life Podcast is now live!

I'm so pleased to announce that I've just launched Your Creative Life Podcast which is available on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

I'm kicking off the first handful of episodes with some deliciously insightful and inspiring conversations on writing and creativity with Cassie Mendoza-Jones, Laraine Herring, Natasha Lester, and Natalie Goldberg.

I've had such a great time connecting with some really amazing, talented, and smart creative experts, coaches, authors, writers and publishing professionals and I really do hope you guys find these discussions as inspiring as I have. 

You can check out the shownotes here.

If you've subscribed to the podcast and are enjoying it, I would really appreciate if you could leave me a review and star rating to let me know what you think!

The Best Thing I Could Have Done For My Writing

Going away for a weekend to work on my novel was the best thing I could have done for my myself and for my writing. I'd been having a little trouble finding the heartbeat of my story due to all the plates spinning in my life right now, and as most of you regular readers would know, I'm currently planning a writing retreat in Italy for next year. While I really felt like I needed some dedicated time to burrow into this book to find the energy hiding in it, I also really wanted to explore what it was going to be like to take time away from the daily grind to focus solely on the writing. 

On Friday afternoon I loaded a small suitcase into the boot of my car and drove to the country. 

This weekend was about so much more than just the writing. It was a way of declaring that my creative work is valuable and worthy of dedicating this special time to. It makes me happy and that's good for me. We should be giving more attention to what's good for us, right? 

Discoveries:

// Procrastination tools + tricky sabotages:

I use herbal tea not only as a wonderful way to hydrate myself, but as a procrastination tool. A scene feels a little tricky? Not deep enough? Too much telling and not enough showing? "Let's get up and make another cup of tea!"

The internet is a time leech. When I booked this weekend away, I didn't bother to check whether I'd have Wi-Fi access because I didn't plan on spending much time being connected to the internet. What I also didn't plan on was not having internet on my phone or having the shaky kind of phone reception that saw me holding my phone up to the heavens in order to get a signal. Every now and then I'd take a break and take a walk outside and I'd go to check my phone. But there was nothing to check. And I kept doing it, even though I knew that it was futile. Wow. I've come home and the first thing I did was install the Freedom app on my computer. Another option is to simply unplug the router or disconnect to Wi-Fi. Highly recommend!

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What amazed me most about this disconnection is how much clearer the mind is when you're not constantly reading posts and status updates, and thinking about the things we see and read online. It puts a total different spin on the whole being present thing that I strive for in my day-to-day life and in my writing.

The disconnection also forced me to become comfortable with a less than perfect first draft by adding notes to my manuscript like: INSERT THE PROPER TERM FOR THIS HERE for points that needed more research or better word choices and so on. Instead of interrupting the writing to jump onto the internet and potentially get sidetracked for 20 wasteful minutes, these notes, the hallmark of a rough draft, mean that I've been far more productive than usual.

// Amplified knowings:

Overall, this weekend showed me how much intuition and trust is involved with writing. I was able to find the heartbeat of my story in a way that felt really natural and anything but forced. You can learn to listen to your body to know when you need to move, to pause, to continue. The best kind of writing happens when you're open and trusting what is coming out on the page. Taking the time out to only write, made all the things I know and thought I knew about writing so much clearer.

I could literally feel the difference in my body once I took a break to walk around the property and then came back to the writing afterwards. All I could hear out there were birds singing and the occasional car driving down the gravel road. There were horses in the back paddock. I'd stand there for minutes watching them, mesmerised by them. Nature has always been a big source of inspiration for me and being able to walk outside and smell the eucalyptus and let my imagination run wild while looking out at views of expansive paddocks and gum trees was very, very special and very, very refreshing and helpful to the creative process.

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When I'm writing at home, it doesn't feel natural or totally comfortable to take time out to lie down and rest. On the weekend though, it became apparent what an incredible way to recharge this can be. In those peaceful moments where I drifted between wakefulness and sleep, scenes would come to me, dialogue would come to me and it was almost like I was writing without my hands on the keyboard. I'd get up and simply write what came to me in those moments of rest. This kind of thing happens to me while driving, and falling asleep at night, or washing the dishes or hanging out the washing and it's a nice reminder that we can get into that receptive state by allowing ourselves to rest.

Sometimes we need to really clear some space in a big way to get closer to the heart of our stories. When we do this, it's almost like the Universe listens...

// Serendipitous happenings:

The town I was in was one of those small and quaint Australian towns where second hand bookstores still exist. So naturally, I couldn't resist a visit to one. I'm writing a contemporary novel but it still requires a little research and there was a book I wanted to ask for which I suspected would be a total long shot, but I asked for it anyway. The man behind the counter hobbled over to a stack of books saying he remembered it, that it was a small book, and an old book with a printing date 1968, but first published back in 1913!

I bought the book, took it home and when I opened it up to flick through the pages, I found the inscription pictured below. This book is like a dictionary almost, and has nothing to do with talent or persistence at all. It has to do with an aspect of nature. 

It almost feels as if in some inexplicable way this almost 50-year-old book was meant to arrive in my hands at this time, during the journey of writing this book, because as we all know, every book needs a good dose of persistence and determination.

That's why my alarm's still set for 5:00am. Gotta fit the writing in somehow, right?

Have you ever had random happenings occur like this in your life?

Have you ever taken the time away to write? What kind of experience was it for you?

A Guide to Filling Your Creative Cup and Harnessing Your Creative Energy

I'd love to hear from you, and I'd love for you to comment below with your thoughts! What kind of things do you do to refill your creative cup?

The more relaxed and centred we are, the easier it is to create.

Whether you want to get out of your head and back to the things that stir your soul, or you're just trying to find ways to live a more creative life, these tips will help you harness your creative energy and bring you back to centre.

Here are seven ways to fill up your creative cup.

1. Spend time outdoors
Getting outside is like hitting a reset button. Nature is healing, but it's also energizing. Feel the sun on your skin and the sand between your toes. Take long walks, ride a bike, go for a swim. Pick flowers, collect seashells, feed the ducks, break a sweat.

2. Find the stillness
Take time out of your day to be still. Sit under a tree or on a park bench and take the time to notice what's going on around you. Watch the bees, listen to the birds, but also pause to take inventory of how you're feeling. What do you need more of in your life? What do you need to let go of? The more you practice checking in with yourself, the easier it becomes to listen. When we're relaxed and in tune with ourselves, we not only make it easier for ourselves to create, we also feel inspired to create.

3. Disconnect in order to reconnect
Choose a weekend to switch off your computer, TV, and smartphone. Make a pact with yourself to not check your social media accounts or emails. Use the time you'd spend on these activities to do something you wouldn't normally do.

4. Do something creative you wouldn't normally do
Switch on some background music, splay some paper out on a table, dip some brushes in paint. Pick up a musical instrument, a notepad and pen for writing, or try your hand at pottery, sewing, or cake decorating. Whatever it is you feel drawn to, shaking things up a bit lets you detach from the mundane and gives you a break from the daily grind so you can go back to your chosen creative outlet with fresh perspective. If you're still looking for that creative outlet that lights you up, keep dabbling. You'll find that with time, you'll find what creative pursuits you're really attracted to, and then you can start cultivating more of that into your life.

5. Read books
Reading opens up so many possibilities for inspiration. It relaxes us, gives us an escape, but also gives us reasons to be curious. Whether you're drawn to reading fiction or nonfiction, it doesn't matter, both have their benefits in giving you time out, while also sparking your imagination.

6. Play around with writing prompts
Prompts offer a beautiful way to keep yourself writing, whether for reflection or to practice specific aspects of your craft. Be open to where prompts can take you with your writing. If you're looking for a mixture of prompts for reflection and creative writing, I share these daily on Instagram.

7. Out with the old to make space for the new
There's so much potency in decluttering and becoming more organized. Decluttering clears not only your living space but your mind. When life feels messy and hectic, your creative space contracts. By becoming more organized, with less clutter in your life, you're ability and desire to create expands, as if by default. If you're needing a little help in this department, try getting your hands on a copy of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Image Credit: Kaboom Pics

I'd love to hear from you, and I'd love for you to comment below with your thoughts! What kind of things do you do to refill your creative cup?

How Books Are Made From Stolen Moments

I've started writing a novel. As I swing into the rhythm of bringing together 80,000 or so words, there are all the usual telltale signs that come with being amidst the pages of a first draft. There are random sentences scrawled in notebooks, and on sticky notes. There's the purposeful noticing of the things we see, and the things we don't see. There's the familiar zone, the flow, the blissful escape into a world I'm creating from nothing.

And then there are the stolen moments. 

And just like last time, I'm acutely aware of how inconvenient writing a book really is. There are moments I need to grab and cling to in order to fit the writing in. Like the super early mornings, when bleary-eyed, I power up the computer before the sun comes up, the hours when a child is at a birthday party, the minutes when the precious people in my life head outside to enjoy the sunshine while I opt to sit indoors and tap away.

Then there are the moments I have to unwillingly tear myself away from the computer to tend to the mundane tasks of mopping floors and folding clothes. Moments I need to spend making sure that life keeps ticking along. Lunch boxes need to be packed, homework needs to be checked, bills need to be paid, groceries need to be shopped for. There are swimming lessons and football games, playdates and dentist appointments. Dinners to be cooked and dishes to be washed.

A scene pops into my mind as I dip my hands into soapy dishwater and reach for a sponge. I could steal a moment here to write a scene but one glance at the stack of dishes on the bench means I need to tuck the idea away instead. Besides, the bedtime routine is due to begin any moment.

"Tomorrow," I think to myself. 

I've been thinking this too often lately. I'm antsy. I want to be writing more. I want to feel like I'm totally with the writing when I'm writing. And I haven't been. Because I've been sitting down to write and thinking about all the other stuff. But I know this trick. I've been down this road before. This time, thankfully, I know how to listen, and I know exactly what I need.

I've had a busy month. I'm usually very good with fitting the writing in. But lately, there just hasn't been enough time no matter how much I've tried to squeeze. And I've been pushing aside the thoughts about my fictional characters for thoughts about interviews with inspiring creatives and and dinners in the Tuscan countryside. That is, I've been recording episodes for my upcoming podcast, I've been organising a writing workshop, and I've been planning a writing retreat in Tuscany. All the kinds of things I decided I wanted to form part of my writing life. These things light me up: they bring me joy, they allow me to hold space for others, they give me a chance to connect with amazing people and help equally as amazing people. 

But at the very core, I'm a writer. And lately I've been feeling like the fragments of stolen moments just haven't been enough. 

I'm feeling the need to immerse myself more fully in my novel. I need to clear my headspace and make room for the kind of creative work writing a novel entails. Even if just for a weekend. So I'm stealing one. Think: a country town, quaint cafés and eateries. The thing is, I won't be spending much time in the cafes and restaurants, and I won't be venturing off to any day spas. I'm going on a retreat. Alone. Without kids. 

And I'm going there to write. One great big stolen moment of two blissful writing days to myself. 

I know that in whatever I set out to create, I need to bring my whole self with me in order to give the very best of what I have to give. That was sage advice Confucious gave us when he said, "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." And if that means stealing a moment that lasts a weekend in order to show up fully for the very thing that lights me up, then that's what I'll do. With all my heart of course.

Image Credits: Airbnb

Incorporating Setting to Bring Your Story to Life

Some of my favourite books are ones that incorporate a strong sense of place. That is, books that wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t set where they were. There’s part of me that gets slightly disappointed when I pick up a book and find that setting has been neglected as a wonderful tool to bring added richness and an extra dimension to a story.

So how do we actually do this? How do we bring setting to life in a story?

 INCORPORATING SETTING TO BRING YOUR STORY TO LIFE

Step 1: Think about how the setting relates to your story

Setting can relate to the overall picture—where the novel is set, or to individual scenes of which there are many. If we take a look at the bigger picture first, consider how your setting relates to the actual story itself. How is the setting significant? How does the setting affect the characters? How does it shape them or determine the boundaries of their actions and the choices they make?

One of my favourite books of all time, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, is set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960’s. While there was a specific choice behind the time and place of this novel, from the very start the reader is grounded in this particular time and place. Not only did the writing completely transport me into that world in a really authentic way, but the culture, dialogue and characterisation are all affected by the place in which this novel is set. 

When we consider the settings for individual scenes, it’s worthwhile putting some thought into the choices you make for each scene. What is going to make your scenes memorable? Certainly the action and dialogue between characters will, but what if you can go deeper by ensuring that the setting is also working for you in terms of creating the kind of scene where the reader feels completely present and transported into your world? The weather can form part of the setting too, so consider how that might add to the atmosphere and tone of a particular scene. Is it snowing outside? Cold and windy? Hot and stuffy? How does this affect your character’s mood?

Step 2: Incorporating setting into your writing

As with many other aspects of writing, often it’s the smallest details that can have the most impact. Here are some ways you can go about including details into your writing to help you bring setting to life.

1 | Action

Some settings will allow you to have your character be present in a scene while interacting with it. Take a male character who lives on a farm. What might this character be tinkering with as a car pulls up the driveway? What might he be sipping on (and how might that be relevant) as he leans back into his chair on the porch while having a conversation with someone?

2 | The five senses and noticing the small details

Laura Deutsch in her book, Writing from the Senses, offers some great tips and insights into how to incorporate the five senses into your writing. My best tip here is to stop for a moment and visualise yourself in the room with your characters. Ask yourself what you’re seeing, feeling and hearing. Notice the expressions of your characters as well as the small things, such as the lighting, the hum of the refrigerator, the sound of the rain forming puddles in the mud outside. By practicing mindfulness in real life on a daily basis, you can bring this skill of deep noticing to your writing.

3 | Make it memorable

What memorable qualities do your descriptions have? What images and actions are going to stay with the reader once they put the book down? And just as importantly, consider whether your descriptions provide any hints towards the meaning of the story. To do this, you might like to consider the themes of the story, so when you’re writing description and making choices about setting, you can offer subtle hints as to how it relates to the actual story itself.

Step 3: Play around with your setting

You can check in with how setting is working for you by asking yourself how the scene might read if it were set somewhere else. Are you inspired by the setting? Do you feel like you’re there in the room with the characters, or do you feel like you’re experiencing this scene as a detached observer? What tweaks can you make to bring things to life and make your reader feel like they’re there, in those scenes with your characters?

 

When You Feel the Pull, Go There.

This morning, I pulled myself out of bed at 5:00am to write. This is significant, because I've intentionally spent the last couple of months pushing aside any kind of structured writing routine, in order to make space for new ideas. During this "in-between" phase of writing, I'd pick up a notebook, or open up a file on the computer entitled: Thoughts and Ideas, and I'd tap away with no expectations.

During this time, I filled up my creative cup with travel, reading, meditation, photography (I'm a dabbler), and life. I sat on a park bench in the English Garden in the Cotswolds, where I listened to the hum of the bees, and drank in the shape, textures and colours of the flowers and plants. I practiced noticing while I tried to remain still.

When I wrote, I wrote to see where my words would lead me. As hard as it can be, sometimes we need to stop willing the work, and let the work come to us, even if we doubt whether an idea is worth pursuing. 

My words kept bringing me back to a story idea that had been percolating for a while, one that I eventually shared with my (very excited, enthusiastic, and wonderful) agent last week. 

I can't wait to continue setting that alarm at 5:00am until the first draft is done. I'm emotional just thinking about the roller coaster my main character is set to go on. I can't stop thinking about her.

Things are blossoming.

This is the journey writing takes you on. When you feel the pull, go there.

I'm back from Italy. And here's some news.

I've recently returned home after a gorgeous six weeks in Italy with a whirlwind, but unforgettable side trip to the Cotswolds and London (I'll cover that in a separate blog post soon). Having lived in Florence for several years, and being married to an Italian, means that Italy has become a second home for me. For the most part, due to the unbearably hot weather (a heatwave of record-breaking temperatures), we ditched the sightseeing, except for a few day trips to cities like Florence and Rome. In between sweltering hot days on the beach, and hanging out among the olive trees on my in-law's property with a book in my hands, I spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of things I wanted to be doing once I got home. How I wanted to show up not only for my own writing, as I gear up to start writing a new novel, but also how I show up for the writers around me -- you guys, my blog readers, and Instagram followers, Twitter friends, and faithful Facebook friends who have been with me on my journey since my Mindful Parenting days.

 Hills of Tuscany

Hills of Tuscany

I'd given a lot of thought in the past to the thought of hosting a podcast, running writing workshops (you can find details of my Melbourne based one here!), and my ultimate dream of leading a writing retreat in Italy (that's happening next September!) While I was away, I made the decision that I was going to work at bringing these exciting ideas to fruition. These projects are a way for me to not only connect with you guys on a deeper and more meaningful level, but they allow me to combine my love of writing, my life coaching skills, and my mindful approach to living a creative life.

And I can't wait to share them with you as things unfold. Busy, exciting times, hey?

You'll notice my website has had a complete makeover. I hope you like it! Unfortunately I lost my previous blog posts during the migration, but not to worry, that's just given me more of an incentive to blog more often to make up for it.

As always, thanks for reading, and I'm looking forward to sharing more news with you soon. xo

 Streets of Florence

Streets of Florence