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Quell the storm, ride the thunder

I’m so excited to find myself here, with you…the readers who have found your way to my book, The River and the Ravages. Some have already read it, some are thinking about it, some have read it and reviewed it. I’m so grateful to you all. It’s been quite a journey. Thank you. I’m writing to you in my first newsletter to let you know a) I exist…way over in Adelaide, Australia, and b) I’m working like a bee on Book 2 of The River and the Ravages trilogy.

A book is never all-pleasing or universally liked. And I like it that way. It’s what makes us human. But I’ve been really humbled by the responses I’ve received so far to my first book. I have found there to be readers out there who share a common ground with me and understand what I’m trying to do. Which, if you’ve already read The River and the Ravages, you’ll know I’ve set out to tell a truth.

And that can be uncomfortable sometimes. The book does contain explicit material. Not a day goes by when I don’t think, ‘Why did I write that?’ But I’ve come to realize that it is important to be honest…about the beauty and the messiness, the gloriousness of life and the grief. I believe readers need this. I know I do. I had friends say to me after reading The River and the Ravages, ‘I didn’t know you had it in you.’ I take it they’re referring to the sex scenes…and I get it. I hate wearing a bikini, I’m not particularly comfortable naked, and I’d much rather have my head in a book than be out on the town. The picture doesn’t seem to fit. But I’m pretty sure most of us have a subterranean layer. A part of us that is deeply hidden to the world, or revealed only to those we trust so innately. Judgement can be a scary thing. When writing The River and the Ravages, although constantly fearful of the judgement, it remained important to me to reveal the complex underbelly of Aaliya’s and Maddalena’s sexuality. It was a risk to take, and I’m glad I did it.

Something you’ll always get from me as a writer is the sense of diving under the surface of a woman’s life. Characters are going to say things we think but don’t always say, do things they probably shouldn’t, they’re going to grapple with their choices and there’s going to be some learning along the way.

If you’ve ever taken a gamble, given something a go that felt risky and bold but deeply necessary, like if you didn’t get it out of your chest you just wouldn’t be honouring who you really are, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a line at hello@jmlawler.com or find me on instagram, Facebook or twitter. And always remember to quell the storm, ride the thunder.

p.s. I would be ever ever so grateful if you could leave a review of The River and the Ravages on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even just a sentence or two. It is so incredibly encouraging to read what people feel after reading the book and keeps me persevering!

And please be sure to spread the word that ebook copies of The River and the Ravages are available for free from my website jmlawler.com. Long live free-dom!

On Writing
The tricky thing about genre

For those of you who have read The River and the Ravages, you may have come to the realize I have a slight challenge ahead of me with this book. Genre. The big ‘G’. The thing we’re told as writers is to work out quickly, and then develop our whole story to fit, not to mention our persona and marketing strategy. Even some of the lovely reviews I’ve received on Goodreads have pointed out ‘I’m not sure what genre this story falls under…’ Yep. I’m hearing you. I’m not sure either. It’s a bit fantasy, bit erotica, bit women’s fiction, and could also be considered bog-standard literature. You can see my dilemma.

When I was writing The River and the Ravages, I wasn’t thinking about slapping a label on my work. I was solely concerned with creating a world set in a fictional medieval setting and featuring two women who step away from their lives. I guess I have likened the story to a sexy medieval Thelma and Louise. It was getting the story right that was important to me, not necessarily adhering to the limitations of genre.

Maybe from the perspective of book findability I’ve made a big mistake. It hasn’t been the first and it won’t be the last. Self publication is one long lonely road of failure, fear and light shining through in beautifully unexpected ways. The fire in me (I am an Aires after all) says stay true to yourself and write the best story you can based on what talks to your soul, no matter what.

So as a final word, I still don’t know where exactly to ‘stick’ The River and the Ravages, but am curious as to where you feel it works best. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Updates

Book 2 in The River and the Ravages trilogy is now in full swing. I’ve done my all important plans, I’ve pondered, I’ve ruminated…and now I’m writing like a demon. Every which way you look at it, there’s going to be edginess and grandiose struggles, characters are going to find themselves up to their eyeballs in problems, lessons are going to be learned the hard way, and of course there will be love and sex and beauty. Oh, not to mention hilarious banter. This is all verging dangerously close to hype but sometimes you’ve got to put faith in your writers.

For those of you who love their books in the audio variety, The River and the Ravages has been professionally made into an audiobook with a wonderful performance by Kate Littrell. Don’t forget audiobooks are available to borrow via library services such as OverDrive and Bibliotheca. I provide some links from my website jmlawler.com (but there’s just too many to list!) Stay tuned next newsletter as I’ll be letting you know how ten lucky readers can get an audiobook version of The River and the Ravages for free!

Here in Adelaide, the days are getting chilly but I’m loving the change. When I’m not writing, and certainly while I sit with a morning cup of coffee, it’s just me and my crochet hook and a ball of wool. Yes, I quite the fan of the grand ol’ craft of crochet. Are there any of you out there who share my love?!! Hope so.

The other thing I totally love about the cooler, wetter weather is the magic of sprouty things in foresty places. I’m rather fond of heading out on a drizzly day with my beautiful daughters to go mushroom foraging in one of the pine forests on the outskirts of Adelaide. What do you love to get up to on the weekend? I’d love to hear from you. And whatever it is, may it be magical.

Warmest regards and gratitude
J M Lawler
(Jann)


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  • Just walk people. Just walk. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, just walk. When you’re feeling so busy your brain is literally melting, just walk. When you’ve eaten too many choccies at Easter, just walk. The ultimate remedy. #walkingaway #alonetime
  • Happy Easter everyone. Just completed a 3 day walk (first multi-day walk for the chics) Mambray creek to Alligator Gorge and back. Freaking amazing, hardest of yakkas, but rewards a plenty. Girls came back pretty inspired. Phew! If I can I instill a love of wilderness, I’ve done my job.
  • Every now and then you’ve got to share the big scary stuff you’re going through. Some of you already know, but for those that don’t I’ll be leaving the comfy cushiony public service world for the less cushiony world of small business in the very near future (June 20 to be precise).
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Excited? Yes. Nervous. Hell yeah! I’ve been  a public servant for most of my working life so the leap feels pretty big. I’m going to (reignite) my website design and development business and because my world is words, words, and more words, copywriting will also be thrown in for good measure. . 
It’s going to be a big brave year. Probably going to be some tears and hide-under-a-rock moments. But it’s going to be one helluva journey. .
As I’m a big fan of poetry, I’ll end this with the words of Robert Frost who nicely sums up the way I’m feeling: Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. #flyingsolo #amazinglife
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Goodnight folks. 
XO Jann
  • Every year my birthday comes around and it’s a strange sense of dread and elation. . And every year I’m amazed by the quirky gifts I receive from friends who know me best. Am I weird enough to wear squirrel socks...yes indeed. Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes. X
  • Reliving the joy that is photo booths in Japan. I’d go back just for the silly fun of doing this again
  • Hanging out with these bruisers at the #aflw grand final @ Adelaide oval. Amazing to be here. It’s gonna be a big score for the crows #genw
  • There’s been some pretty miserable stuff in the media lately...this time women making inroads and shaking up the boys club that is sport. .
Realize we’ve still got so far to go. It boggles the mind...we’re in 2019! But the fight needs to go on. . 
As it’s Women’s History Month just want to keep this issue alive and reach out to everyone of you and say, YOU matter and the fight’s worth it. .
Let’s keep looking after one another. None of this is going away in a hurry and there’s too much at stake. .
#fuckthepatriarchy #strongwoman #proudfeminist
  • Beautiful Adelaide Fringe opening truly was like walking through a Dreamtime
  • Day at Port Noarlunga beach. God damn it was lovely. Great ending to school hols.

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