Tess Woods September Newsletter
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Tess Woods September 2015 Newsletter

Hello lovely friends old and new – welcome to my September newsletter!

This month’s features:
- Indigenous Literacy Foundation Book Club Evening - Sacred Heart College, Sorrento, WA.
- September Newsletter Subscriber Winner – Roobarb Boutique ‘Tree of Life’ earrings.  
Writing tip – How to plot a page turner using narrative traction.
Book review – Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by KJ Farnham.
Quiz – How much teenage slang do you know?
September has been a massive writing month for me. I’ve pumped out fifty-thousand words of Flat White with One and it’s taken on a new direction - Lily, Mel’s daughter from Love at First Flight now has alternating story lines with her brother, Nick. I’m loving Lily’s story that was calling out to me to be heard. And I’ve decided to give the people what they want so yes, you will all be finding out what happens to Matt and Mel – I’m warning you now though, you may not like it! My short story coming out in a few months, Destiny in a Day, will be a sweet, light interlude for you between my long and heavy, tear-jerker novels!

It’s school holidays at the moment in Perth and our family is currently away in Preston Beach on the South West Coast here in Australia. There is literally nothing here except the stunning beach and a tiny corner store – perfect location to unwind after a hectic few months of work and school for us. We’ve switched off Facebook and put away phones (getting the computer out to choose this month’s winner and send the newsletter out was the one exception because, hey, you guys are worth it!). Does your family unplug on holidays? Our teenagers are always outraged at their screens being taken away from them on holidays but then they actually remember there is a world around them to explore…
I hope you’re having a lovely week, whether you’re on term holidays here in Australia or counting down to holidays elsewhere in the world.

Have a wonderful October and I’ll catch you again next month xx
Love at First Flight Book Club Evening for
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation:

I'm very honoured (and more than a little terrified) to have been invited by Sacred Heart College to launch their inaugural book club event to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation of Australia.

This is a cause very close to my heart as someone whose two great passions are literature and social justice. The evening will raise awareness of the struggle of indigenous children living in remote communities to access books and learning resources and to supply those beautiful children with new reading materials.

If you live in Perth and would like to come along and hear me share my writing journey to publication and join in a Q and A session with me, I would love to see you there! 

These are the details:

Friday 23rd October

Sacred Heart College, Hocking Parade, Sorrento, Perth, Western Australia

Doors open at 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start.

The evening will also include -

- yummy homemade finger food and treats/tea and coffee
- champagne on arrival
- live music
- raffle prizes (including a night for two in an ocean deluxe room at The Rendezvous Hotel at Scarborough Beach where Matt from Love at First Flight stayed, including buffet breakfast!)
- beautiful art for sale

Tickets are $10 each with all money being donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and can be purchased here:

Here is the link to the Facebook event page

I hope I see some of my gorgeous readers there, it will be great to meet some of you face to face!

Roobarb Boutique ‘Tree of Life’ earrings winner:

September newsletter subscriber winner!
Congratulations to Nieka Bishop who has won this month’s subscriber member prize of stunning drop earrings from Perth boutique Roobarb (winners are drawn each month from the subscriber email list using Check your inbox for my email coming to you today lovely Nieka!
Good luck everyone for next month’s subscriber member prize draw, I’ll announce what next month’s prize will be on Facebook. 


Writing Tip:

Last month at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, I attended a brilliant workshop by the amazing Aussie author CS Pacat and it was all about how to use narrative traction to plot a page turner. I was madly taking notes during her workshop so I could share it here with those of you who are writers, or thinking about a writing career. If you would like to learn more, click on this link for my summary of CS Pacat’s truly awesome writing tips...

Next month, I’ll be sharing with you the stuff I learned from The Rosie Project author, Graeme Simsion (it’s good stuff!).

Book review:

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat – KJ Farnham

I have two firsts for my book club this month...

  1. It’s the very first Young Adult genre novel I’m featuring.
  2. It’s the very first American author I’m promoting and only the second self-published author to be featured by me.

Every single week I receive requests from authors to feature them as my book club pick of the month, so selecting my featured books and authors isn’t something I take lightly. I choose books that I have read and LOVED and I only feature authors I personally know are wonderful people. So it’s with great pleasure that I recommend a Young Adult book this month to you all, even though I know the majority of my followers are mostly contemporary women’s fiction, romance and chick-lit readers. And the reason it gives me so much pleasure to feature this Young Adult book is because, quite simply, it’s brilliant. American author KJ Farnham’s self-published book has more polish than many traditionally published books on the market these days and it moved me in a way that most books don’t. I was haunted by this story. And I think Don’t Call Me Kit Kat transcends the Young Adult market because KJ has written it in a way that makes older readers like me re-connect with our teenage selves and it brings back the pain and exhilaration of growing up and becoming your own person in a world that isn’t always kind or fair. If you have a teenage daughter, read this book. If you don’t have a teenage daughter, read this book! Below is the Amazon blurb of Don’t Call Me Kit Kat, my review of the book, an introduction to KJ Farnham (who has become a dear friend to me and is just the sweetest, loveliest person) and my interview with KJ as well.  I hope you enjoy it!
Don’t Call Me Kit-Kat is available from all good online book stores in both eBook and paperback versions.

Be sure to keep an eye out when I feature Don’t Call Me Kit-Kat as my Book Club pick in a couple of weeks on my Facebook page because KJ will be giving away a copy exclusively for one of my lucky followers!

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters. 

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts. 

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school. 

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames. 

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path? 

And would she even want to if she could?

My review of this book:

I was mesmerised by this story from the first page. Told in the first person, KJ Farnham perfectly captures teen angst. Katie, nicknamed Kit-Kat (a name she hates but one she is stuck with) is a character who I felt a strong connection to with her open vulnerability, her desperate need to belong and her trauma due to her parent's hostile relationship with each other. KJ Farnham's writing is authentic and punchy and she reminds me a great deal of Judy Blume with her style which isn't sentimental but still manages to grab a strong hold of your heart. This is a fantastic exploration into peer group pressure, bullying, teen suicide and eating disorders. KJ Farnham doesn't paint a rosy, sugar coated picture of these issues and in this way she gives credit to her audience of teenagers that they have the intelligence and maturity to handle reality in a way that I very much admire. I think this book should be on the reading list for high-schools everywhere and I certainly plan on giving it to my impressionable twelve-year-old daughter to read too. A great story, told in a brutally honest and beautiful way. Kudos to this author!

About KJ Farnham:

K. J. Farnham is a former educator turned author and freelance writer. She was born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee and now lives in western Wisconsin with her husband, three children and three cats.

In addition to reading and writing, Farnham loves road trips, beach outings, Body Pump, running, hiking and acoustic music. She hopes to convince her husband to drive across the United States in an RV someday.

During her tween, teen and young adult years, she devoured books by V.C. Andrews, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Nowadays, Farnham will read just about anything but still leans toward fiction. Her preferred genres include contemporary romance, humor, thriller/suspense, horror and YA.
You can learn more about KJ on her website blog and on her Facebook page


An Interview with KJ Farnham:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
Don’t Call Me Kit Kat follows 13-year-old Katie Mills as she plunges into the depths of an eating disorder. A combination of things—things that most teens will encounter at one time or another—drive Katie to binge and purge, giving her a false sense of control. Many issues are touched on, ranging from cliques, bullying, jealousy, crushes, social pressure and underage drinking to divorce, body image issues, mental health and suicide.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
Someone close to me struggled with bulimia from the age of 12 into her mid twenties, so I know exactly what the disease does to a person—both mentally and physically. I drew from my friend’s experiences, as well as from memories of feelings I had as a teen, to create Katie’s story.
Don’t Call Me Kit Kat is my attempt to shed light on a disorder that is often not taken seriously as a life-threatening mental illness. Bulimia (like other eating disorders) is a complex disease with multiple causes and no clear course of treatment. Every bulimic needs different things to heal and heals at her own pace. Those who suffer often feel too ashamed to seek help. To make matters worse, friends and loved ones of sufferers tend to have a hard time understanding that treatment is a lengthy process, so lingering symptoms often get swept under the rug. It breaks my heart.

How did you come up with the title?
The original title for this novel was The Me I See, but my editor and a trusted beta reader thought it sounded too self-helpish. At first, I didn’t agree, so I ignored their opinions. (I can be extremely stubborn at times!) When my editor questioned whether I’d thought about changing the title, I decided to post a poll on Facebook and was forced to open myself up to the possibility of a new title when others agreed that it made them think of a self-help book. This might sound silly, but I was devastated. So I allowed myself a few hours of sadness, and then I moved on to brainstorming for a new title.
Like the title for Click Date Repeat, Don’t Call Me Kit Kat came to me while I was running on my treadmill. I wanted something original that would make people wonder why the title is significant. I wanted people to reach a point while reading when they’d think “Ah, now I understand the title.” I hope I’ve accomplished my goal!

Do you have a day job? What is it?
After I resigned from teaching in 2011, the plan was for me to take care of our kids during the day and work on Click Date Repeat at night. But then I started freelance writing and editing for various clients, which caused CDR to fall to the wayside.
In 2014, I finally wised up and made it my New Year’s resolution to finish CDR. It was published in August of 2014, and then I went on to publish Don’t Call Me Kit Kat in May of 2015.
While I’ve scaled down the amount of work I do for others in order to work on my own projects, I still accept jobs from one particular client. The nice thing about this company is that I can work as much as I like, whenever I like. So during the day (and night!), I’m a stay-at-home mom of three. Then, when bedtime rolls around, I work on either my own projects or freelance editing jobs.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
As a former teacher and self-proclaimed grammar nerd, I struggle with free-flow writing because of my compulsive need to proofread as I write. One day I became so frustrated with myself for making such slow progress, that I vented to my editor. She encouraged me to fight the urge to edit as I go and just write, write, write!

Where is your favourite place to write?
I wish I could say the beach or our local state park among the chirping Eastern Bluebirds and Scarlet Tanagers, but anywhere outdoors (especially on a sunny day) would be too distracting for me. So here’s the boring…um, I mean, the real answer. My favorite place to write is in my living room while lounging on the loveseat with my feet up. I place my laptop either on the arm of the loveseat or on a pillow on my lap. There’s usually one cat purring in my ear and another laying next to me. 
What’s one quirky thing about you that you can share with our book club readers that you have never made public before?
I have a half-dollar-sized indentation on the top of my head. It dips in just enough to make balancing a golf ball on my head a piece of cake. My mom swears the dent is a result of my older brother constantly giving me the Benny Hill head pat when I was little. (If you’re unfamiliar with Benny Hill, Google “Benny Hill head pat” and watch the top video result to see what I’m talking about.) Is that what you mean by quirky?

Chocolate or cheese?
Oh my, this is a tough one! But since I’m from Wisconsin—the official cheesehead state—I have to go with cheese.
Who would play you in the movie about your life?
When I was younger, several people told me I looked like the amazingly gorgeous Christina Ricci. Ha! At any rate, I think she’d do a fine job depicting the angst-ridden, boy-crazy teen I once was.

What is your favorite motivational phrase or quote?
Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Dreams are wonderful to have, but how often do they come true without hard work and persistence?
Fun Bit...

And finally in honour of teenage Kit Kat, you can do this quiz to find out how much teenage slang you know. I scraped in with 11/19 which is no surprise as listening to my kids and their friends chatting is like learning a new language! How “down with the kids” are you?

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