Is It All Just Too Difficult?

The following post was written just over a year ago.

At the time I didn’t have a clear enough vision for my book baby. After many drafts and redrafts, I finally got that ‘vision’ … how would Charlie have wanted me to tell this story? Does that matter? Yes, I think it does! That flashing lightbulb went off for me just prior to National Novel Writing Month this year. During the first half of November, I wrote a fresh 11,000 words of “Charlie Dreams”.  Due to some family and health complications, I had to resign from ‘NaNoWriMo’ half-way through. However, I have those precious words safely tucked away on my flash drive. Twenty-seventeen is going to be a fabulous year. I cannot wait!

riverSeptember 3rd, 2015  A few weeks ago when I was kindly invited to write this blog post for Christian Writers Downunder, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I wanted to communicate something, which is usually why I write. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in keeping one’s thoughts too private; no one would ever really know me, be able to advise me or just have a quiet read and a chuckle to themselves and say “That’s Just Jo’Anne”.  

In an earlier post, I talked about why I found it necessary to blog when I could just jot down my thoughts into a journal and be done with it. Today I wish to deviate a little from my intended topic. I wanted to cover the ‘pros and cons of Life Writing’ but that may or may not eventuate down the track. You see, after doing lots of research (as I haven’t yet done a course on Life Writing); I began to realise what an extensive topic it was.

I then realised that some very important questions would need to be answered. 

  • Will the contents of this story hurt any family or friends of my main character, and sub-characters who are  still living and compos mentis?
  • What sort of an impact would my story have upon people whether or not they know me or my family?
  • Is my story relevant to the focus of my blog/genre?
  • Does it matter?
  • Can my story hurt my own reputation in any way?
  • Would I ever regret writing this book?

These are just a few of many questions which should be considered when writing about the life or lives of others; and indeed even if I was merely writing an autobiography, shouldn’t I consider how my thoughts and feelings would affect others.  hold-the-penTrue, partially true or complete fabrications, we as writers must take responsibility for the hearts and minds of our readers as well as our own.

So today instead of the ‘pros and cons’, let’s just look into ‘Why’?  I have already been down the path of ‘What If’?  There were so many questions building up in my mind that I had to give it a rest.  You see I have never done life writing before!  I cannot believe I just completely admitted that to you all; but it is the plain, honest truth.  Life writing can be somewhat scary and confronting at the best of times, but in my case, my very first piece of what is supposed to be biographical is going to look and read like a novel of fiction. 

I struggled with what name or label to give the genre for this book. Would it be a memoir?  Perhaps not.  How about a fictional memoir?  Maybe narrative non-fiction?  No that can’t be it, even ‘narrative’ non-fiction must have more factual content than not.  Perhaps this life story doesn’t fit within the mould of any known genre.  The real problem is that my main character, although very much a real person, didn’t live what we would consider a real life …. at least not a realistic life by most worldly standards.

Here follows a short synopsis of my work.

“Charlie Dreams” 

Charlie was an odd wee fellow, always with his head in the clouds. He would be day-dreaming or telling tall tales, which often lead him into all sorts of trouble. Charlie had a vivid imagination and because we spent so much time together, he nurtured my imagination with ease. You see Charlie was not only my brother, he was my best friend, my soul-mate.

After a short, often sad but sometimes happy life, Charlie passed away at the tender age of thirty-nine. I was just thirty-six year’s old, way too young to lose my best friend. Charlie’s parents who are still living at the time of writing this played a huge role in shaping both our lives and the passages which will appear in my book. Our grandfather, also named Charles plays an important role in piecing together our story.

Charlie suffered from Bipolar disorder, but sadly we weren’t aware of this until after his tragic death. He played his cards very close to his chest so that the people closest to him couldn’t see in. I am also Bipolar, however, my family is more than aware of the fact. I have fabulous support from family and dear friends, and it is these wonderful people who encourage and inspire me to tell our story. My only regret is that we were not able to see through Charlie’s dreams and look more closely at the true heart and soul of the matter.


quoteSo why do I feel compelled to write this book?  My answer – why not?

Charlie really did have an interesting if sad life. There were many moments of happiness, whether they were real or imagined doesn’t matter too much. His life was a good life. He was a kind soul with an extremely gentle heart. Everything Charlie told you was exactly as he believed it to be himself.

While life writing of any kind can be extremely challenging, I have made my mind up to continue with this challenge, with its risks and plethora of things that could go wrong. I want to honour someone with compassion, praise, respect, unfathomable love, honesty (as far as possible) and great big dollops of humour along the way.

straw-hatThis person is my best buddy, Charlie.

What do you think? Should fiction be a part of a life story? Does it really have any place there?  What if the person we are writing about was unable to decipher fact from fiction, believed everything he said; but beyond all of that was satisfied that he was living the life he had always wanted (dreamt about).

I would love to hear your opinions and kind advice. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Originally published in Christian Writers Downunder Blog

Promises, Anticipation, Enjoyment

pooh-1“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best –” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ~ Winnie the Pooh


Ah, don’t you just love the anticipation? pooh-2Isn’t it just the best thing? Oh, but the enjoyment of actually doing it! Then, alas it is over …. Oh, but the memory is worth its weight in gold …. err honey. 

When we take a look at those three words, promises, anticipation and enjoyment, we would think that they mean very different and separate things. If we limit ourselves to the dictionary meaning for each of those words, we would be correct.

promise is an assurance, a guarantee, a pledge or a vow, that something will be so; or something will happen, either immediately or eventually.

To anticipate something is to be expectant of that thing, person, occasion, gift etc. Also to have hope that something wonderful is going to happen, based upon past experiences.

pooh-3Enjoyment is the actual pleasure, delight, satisfaction or gratification that we derive from whatever it is that we have obtained.

If we look more closely at each of these words, we would realise that they are intimately conjoined. 

Even Winnie-the-Pooh knew from past experience that there was something more to eating that honey, than just the sheer enjoyment of it all …. And of course he was a bear of very little brain. Sometimes I think that maybe we aren’t much more ‘cleverer’ than dear old Winnie. We probably know the word to match the feeling, but we don’t always appreciate that feeling for how wonderful it is. I know I often forget to stop, listen and feel – how about you?

cruise-shipBack in 2008, I went on a cruise. HoneyBun and I flew to Bangkok, stayed a week, and then took a 21-night cruise back to Sydney via South East Asia. We spent months planning and talking about our upcoming holiday, imagining what it would be like (I had never been on a cruise before). We had both travelled before, HoneyBun more than me, however, each experience is different. We were so excited!  I remember being about one week out of Australia on our return trip home. I became impatient to be back home, not because I wasn’t having a good time, but because once more I was anticipating something. This time my anticipation was backed up by a promise that something good would happen – I loved going back home. ‘There is no place quite like home’.  HoneyBun and I had thoroughly enjoyed our trip; the feelings of satisfaction and gratification were immeasurable. Yes, when we arrived back home there was also the feeling of “oh, it is all over now”; but those precious memories would remain forever.

1474151094I have done some travelling in my life; seeing places such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Great Barrier Reef, Islands of the South Pacific – the list goes on. Then there was Bali, Los Angeles and Egypt.  I really do feel blessed; however if I had not anticipated each journey before going, I don’t believe the experience would have been quite the same. As human beings, we rely on our memories of past events to know whether or not something might be good or worthwhile. That pot of honey was pretty good judging by the amount of golden joy that was running down Winnie’s paws, and the remnants smeared all over his cute, furry face; but the day-dreamy look on his sweet face when he anticipated the enjoyment he would derive from that golden pot of heaven, is almost indescribable.  I feel that same way about a piece of lemon-cakelemon cheesecake, or maybe a slice of chocolate/raspberry torte, chocky-cakewith loads of cream. Oh, the expectation, the sheer delight and the afterglow of basking in the memory – mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

We need promises, anticipation and enjoyment to be so closely related to fully appreciate the beauty of everything that is around us, provided for us, and even those things and events that we indeed work so hard for. I have always said that half of the fun is looking forward to something. Now as I approach more senior years, I believe that looking forward to something and then cherishing the memories, are usually most of the fun.

You can probably see where this is heading by now. I hope so because when I first started preparing this post I didn’t think it would lead to exactly where it has. The message I wanted to remind myself of and pass on was basically the same, perhaps with a little bit less cake.

Our lives here on earth are for us to enjoy, to make others happy, to work hard and provide the best we can. We won’t always be happy with everything that happens in life, but we need to make the best of everything. Our lives are filled with sadness and joy, pain and delight; life is one big rollercoaster. We are not meant to stay here on earth forever, we are actually citizens of heaven. We don’t know what that really entails, but we have been made a promise by God so that we can anticipate with joy and delight, the world that is yet to come. Our total enjoyment of our eternity is based on faith – faith that God is true to His Word, and of course, we know He is.

 dreamy-clouds“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16

Patiently we must wait; but with joyful anticipation, that God’s promises to us will come to pass, and our joy will be everlasting, surpassing any form of human enjoyment that we could ever imagine.

hands-on-clock “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”       ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Photo courtesy of


Never my dear friends, take any moment or memory for granted – yes we know that there is something more beautiful coming and we must joyously anticipate; but every moment and every memory that we make here on earth will contribute to and richly embroider our everlasting lives in paradise. I wish us all a beautiful and glorious life of hopeful anticipation, laced with excitement for the enjoyment that has been promised to us. 
pooh-4Oh yes, and honey, cake, and whatever else our little human hearts desire.

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne website/blog in August 2015

Daystar – The Days Are Numbered by Anne Hamilton

My Review

download-2I’ve never been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. Why? I really don’t know. I read Jeanette O’Hagan’s ‘Ruhanna’s Flight’ which was published in ‘Glimpses of Light – Anthology and was absolutely delighted. Then I read Ms O’Hagan’s ‘Heart of the Mountain’ … Wow! I loved it. I had seen Anne Hamilton’s ‘Daystar’ earlier on and had put it on my ‘to read’ bookshelf on Goodreads, thinking maybe one day I’ll have time. Well, once this delightful book turned up on my doorstep, with a beautiful card inside from Anne Hamilton, I just had to read it, didn’t I?

I think I am becoming addicted to fantasy … we’ll have to see. I’ve read ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ and also Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I haven’t read any previous books written by Ms Hamilton, so my mind was fresh, and I didn’t have others to compare it to. Perhaps that’s a good thing as I enjoyed this book, for itself, immensely.

‘Daystar – The Days Are Numbered’ is a gorgeous story, in some ways similar to C. S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’. In fact, ‘Narnia’ was mentioned within the pages. Fern, who is obviously from the same dimension as myself, is awkward and unhappy in her life, ever since her mother left her step-father, Nick. Fern’s greatest desire is to be invisible. At the blow of a whistle, Fern is transported to another dimension where the race for good to overcome evil isn’t too dissimilar to that of Fern’s world.

I really liked the characters’ names and personalities. Talking animals always intrigue me. The fact that the seven heroes of this story were children, was delightfully encouraging considering the age group the book is aimed at. I loved the quaintly illustrated capital letters at the beginning of each chapter, and their relevance to the musical notes, which were explained further into the book. It took me a wee while to immerse myself in the book, due to the small print, however, Ms Hamilton kindly sent me a PDF copy, and then it was difficult to put down my smartphone.

The subtle injection of humour was delightful, and the entire theme held my interest until the end. The only slight quibble I had was that I felt there were an awful lot of ‘big’ words for a middle-grade reader to grasp. Overall I found Daystar to be beautifully written, with just the right amount of wit and humour, adventure, and intrigue.

With the use of musical score, numbers and days, the plot gradually fused together like a well-designed jig-saw puzzle. I would love to read a sequel to Daystar and see what Ms Ashe, Golliath, Hector, and Fern will face next … and what dimension will it take place in?

I would like to thank Anne Hamilton for providing a free copy of Daystar in return for an honest review.

Originally posted at

November 2016

BLOG AWARD TOUR – Whats and Whys of My Words.

ritaAustralian, Inspirational,Historical Romance author, Rita Stella Galieh has tagged me for the Blog Award Tour. Rita’s heritage is an interesting one, being of English, Scottish and Jewish decent. Her love of storytelling began during childhood, inventing tales of adventure with her Grandmother, while her mother worked. Rita’s mother encouraged her to write poems after school was finished for the day. These poems which were published in the children’s section of the Sunday papersin instilled into Rita a thirsty craving for writing. In addition to being an accomplished author, she is also an extremely talented artist, specialising in ceramics.

Rita has an absolute passion for the 19th Century Victorian Era, which is evident in her stories. She writes to entertain and inspire her readers while remaining faithful to the honour and glory of Our Lord.

Rita is currently editing her next book “A Parcel of Promises” which is book number three in her Victoriana series. The other two in the series which come highly recommended, are “The Tie That Binds” and “Signed Sealed Delivered”. She is also working on “Miss Kate’s Great Expectations” which was runner-up in the Caleb Awards. You can find Rita and her wonderful works at


As part of the Blog Award Tour, Rita has asked me to provide answers to four questions. So, here’s a little about me and what I am working on.


Good question. What am I not working on? I have recently finished another 10,000 words towards my first draft of my very first book “Charlie Dreams”.  I had previously written another 20,000 precious words during NaNoWriMo last November, and this 10k was dragged out of me in this year’s (July Camp NaNoWriMo). I did manage just over eleven thousand, but ten was my goal. charlie-dreamsI refer to ‘Charlie Dreams’ as a book for now, as whether it becomes a novella or a novel really depends upon how far my memory and imagination takes me. The picture to the right of the screen is one of many cover ideas (this being my favourite at the moment). It is a fictional memoir (or realistic fiction, depending on how each reader may view it).  July Camp NaNoWriMo was really exciting as I got to be Cabin Mum (or Mumma Bear). What a wonderful experience it was getting to know other Christian writers, sharing virtual coffees and cakes, snuggling around an imaginary campfire, singing and strumming, and realising that I am not alone.

I am also studying a certificate of Editing and Proofreading, and wading through the sixth edition of the Style Manual. Hopefully, I will be finished by Christmas and able to focus more on my writing. I am currently developing my website/blog which I’m aiming to fill with poems or short stories. My blog is meant to touch upon various aspects of life and how God’s word influences them. I hope to be inspired with the right words to capture you. Next year after my course is out of the way, I shall begin work on the first draft of my next book. It will be a work of narrative non-fiction of which I am extremely excited about.


As a novice writer, that is a difficult question to answer. I don’t believe at this stage that my writing is that different other than the fact that it has my own personal stamp on it. I write from my heart as most writers do, however, my heart is unique.


I have always had a passion for reading good stories. I love to read them, tell them and now I have this burning desire to put those little gems down on paper (or on screen for those with an e-reader or tablet). I have actually been writing in one form or another since I was quite young, but now it would be nice to share some stories with the rest of the world. I daydream a lot. dreamy-cloudsSo many story ideas sprout from these daydreams. I’ve been in trouble throughout most of my life for this delightful habit of constantly drifting off with the fairies. I was born on February 24, so what can I say? Dreaming is good.

I have always held fast to a strong faith, but in recent years circumstances made me question a lot of details about my life, and have consequently brought me closer to Our Lord. These days my faith has changed, for the better, I believe. I now have a relationship with Jesus; He is my best friend, my comforter and protector – my absolute world. So why do I write and create what I do?  It is simple really, my pen is guided by God’s love and grace, illuminated by the light of His Holy Spirit; and I allow Him to show me what He wants me to share with others. Reading, but especially writing completes me. It is all I have ever wanted to do.


Hmmm, process – do I have one? Yes of course I do, but I wish I could tell you that I am super organised, plotting out each scene, developing my characters before sitting in front of my laptop – sigh. Most writers would tell you that they are a combination of organised planners (plotters) and running by the seat of their pants (pantsers) writers. Balance is good. Often I go mad, pick up my notebook and do some planning, but mostly I am a pantser – guilty as charged. I am also known as “last minute Jo’Anne” or “eleventh hour Jo”.  I am even writing this the night before it is due to be published. So in a nutshell, I am a crazy, passionate pantser who thrives on stress. Yes, the last minute or moments can be extremely motivating. My very best ideas and thoughts usually come in the wee small hours of the morning (notepad is on my bedside table); also inconveniently loads of ideas and stories come to me while in the bathroom. I really must invest in a waterproof writing pad. Seriously though, I am my most creative when writing with a pen on notepaper; I don’t know why, but the words just seem to flow better. Of course, they get changed around again when I am feeding them into the computer. One thing is for certain, when I have my writer’s hat on, I am not present, not available for anyone or anything – just my story, poem, blog or book baby.

The next writer to take part in this awesome blog tour is Robyn Harbour.

robyn-harbourRobyn, along with her husband Russell, served as a full-time missionary in Vanuatu for three years. Based in Inverloch, Victoria, Australia, both continued to minister throughout the islands of the South Pacific, speaking at conferences, Pastor’s Retreats, and Sunday School conferences for another four years. They have both been happily retired since February 2015.

Beyond the Palm Trees” is Robyn’s first published book, published by Ark House Press.

Robyn continues to maintain many beautiful and valuable friendships with local indigenous people, who have shared their stories and experiences with her.

To find out more about Robyn, her writing and her fabulous ministries, please look out for her post on this blog tour next Monday, August 24th, 2015.

You’ll find Robyn at

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne blog, August 2015

A Review of Imogen’s Chance by Paula Vince

My Review

download“A regretful past, a hopeful future.”

Imogen Browne desperately wants things to be okay in her world, but also that of others. An unfortunate accident of fifteen years ago has left in its wake, far too many consequences for friends and loved ones.

All of the characters in this beautiful story are believable and sincere. They pretty much react the way I would expect myself to react under similar circumstances.

‘People who are told they are going to die, always tell the truth.’

Paula tackles more than one important and sensitive issue within this book, and she does it flawlessly. She includes lots of different emotions, conflict, romance, and more than adequate suspense to keep you intrigued until the end. Paula’s characters are skilfully developed and rounded. She uses the technique of ‘showing rather than telling’ very well.

Paula’s talent addresses the topic of Christian healing, both spiritual and physical in such a way that it is easy to comprehend. The themes of repentance, forgiveness, and healing flowed superbly throughout. The story of Imogen and Asher is not over the top, or too preachy. All Biblical references are accurate and appropriately used. Also, our human inability to recognise some of the most important gifts that God has bestowed upon us, and misinterpret them as flaws, was approached with wisdom.

I fell in love with Imogen from the beginning. Every time I thought I had it all sorted in my mind, there was another surprise, another revelation. Imogen’s secret is so enormous that it holds the keys to many sub-plots within the book.

‘With every step they took, she was stomping over the painful, regretful memories, and replacing them with something new and wonderfully special.’

These elements of suspense and surprise are what was required to keep me turning the pages, and bring this book to a delightful finish.

This was the second time that I read ‘Imogen’s Chance’. I enjoyed this read even more than the first. I didn’t think that would be possible.

‘A rock solid base of truth gripped onto by unwavering faith, made the building blocks for an unshakeable reality.’  ~ Paula Vince

Imogen’s Chance is a delightful book, which would be enjoyed by everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. Another of Paula’s books that I would highly recommend is Best Forgotten  My review will follow soon.

Originally posted at

October 2016

A Review of Critical Condition, An Escape to the Country #4 by Nicki Edwards

My Review

critical-condition-by-nicki-edwards“Liam O’Connor wants a wife. Problem is, the type of woman he’s looking for doesn’t exist.”

I absolutely love “Critical Condition”!

Having read Intensive Care, the first book in this series, then reading The Peppercorn Project, a standalone novel, I was pleasantly surprised to realise that Critical Condition could also be read as a standalone, even though it is the fourth and final book in this lovely series. I am currently reading the second book Emergency Response, which I shall follow up with the third treasure, Life Support.

The way Ms Edwards’ books flow, make it possible to read them out of order, which is lucky for me as I am always doing things in the wrong order. With beautifully constructed descriptions, one can imagine being right there in the orchard.  Ms Edwards gradually introduces the characters from her previous books, until eventually, we have a wonderful picture of who’s who, and where they fit in the scheme things.

As soon as I read the first page, I was drawn in. This sweet and engaging story begins at the orchard of Lexton Downs, through the eyes of Liam and Kate who are attending an engagement party, which turns out to be a surprise wedding, “under the banner of blue skies and glorious autumn sunshine”.  It was, a gorgeous day, and the bride, Liam’s little sister looked absolutely stunning. Liam was pleased to see Emily happily married, but inside his own heart, he yearned to find that elusive one, that perfect woman, that angel he could spend the rest of his life with. “But, if Liam was honest, the green-eyed monster was attacking him”.

Then along comes Poppy, a seemingly confident young woman with the world at her feet. Originally fleeing life in Australia, and building a new one in New York, she was now living the dream. Or was she? How well did she really know that handsome boyfriend of hers? Was everything as it seemed?

Her father’s untimely death makes a return trip to Australia necessary. A trip which will bring with it many surprises, but an equal amount of angst as she tries to come to terms with her past life, and even her current one. Behind Poppy’s mask of high self-esteem and devil may care attitude, is an extremely troubled young girl.

Both Liam and Poppy are searching for something … someone … maybe.

Poppy is far from Liam’s idea of perfect. Or is she?

She has enough baggage to fill up every bag carousel at an international airport!

But maybe some things are just meant to be. Will they be able to smooth over any rough edges, and form a lifelong partnership? Both of their lives, but especially Poppy’s are complicated.

Nicki Edwards has such a beautiful, natural writing style. You are able to visualise people and their surroundings so well, that it’s almost as if you were there. I would go as far as to say ‘you are a part of the story’.  The characters have become like family.

If you love good, clean romance, with oodles of suspense, just the right amount of conflict, and of course a beautiful, happy ending, then this is the book for you.

Thank you, Nicki Edwards, for nailing it again. You are the queen of rural, medical romance.

Pre-release copy kindly provided by Pan Macmillan Australia/Momentum Books through NetGallery, in return for an honest review.

Originally posted at

September 2016

“The Holy Grail of Book Launching: Secrets from a bestselling author and friends. Ultimate Launching Companion and step-by-step guide” By Mimi Emmanuel and Elaine Roughton

My Review

Want to self-publish your very own ‘Book Baby’? Yes? Then you NEED to own this book!

download-1Back in February 2016, Mimi Emmanuel, wrote and published “How to launch your eBook easy-peasy, with diary notes of 31-day count-down and to-do overview”. I must say this book is a little gem. How to launch your eBook easy-peasy, describes the process by which Mimi produced her very first book, in November, 2015 “My Story of Survival: The ultimate low-reactive diet for allergies, gut problems, food intolerances and chemical sensitivities”; an extremely, informative book.

Now we have the holy grail! This fabulous book is actually three books in one. Each one as valuable as the others. I knew that self-publishing was an enormous venture to impart upon, and had made up my mind that when my book arrives the publishing stage, I would need to find a traditional publisher, or just accept the fact that I would never become a published author. This incredible book has given me a different viewpoint. Even though I still want to be published the traditional way, I now see no reason why I couldn’t self-publish while I am waiting, and of course get my name and brand out there in the marketplace.

The Holy Grail of Book Launching is the absolute ‘bible of book launching’ (no disrespect to the Holy Bible). It is filled with easy to follow steps, and numerous, helpful links … an absolute wealth of valuable information and process. Mimi writes in such a way as to take away any fear one may have of this whole self-publishing journey. And it is indeed a journey, filled with angst and hard work. However, through her personable style of writing, Mimi makes this journey seem so much more approachable. In fact, once I have re-read this book, visited the numerous helpful links, and watched all the videos related to it, I know without question, I will be able to publish my own book. I have given Mimi’s book five stars because I just love, love, love it!

I graciously received an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) from the author, in return for an honest and fair review.