Publishers of books that change lives
This year we had some really outstanding entries in our memoir prize and I don’t envy our judges having to make their final decision! Here is a round up of the shortlisted entries:
Tin Gypsy by Alan Sampson: This is a heartfelt account of a father who visits his son who is living and working in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon to try and persuade him to come home to Australia and get a ‘proper’ job. However after being practically drowned in an extreme kayaking adventure, nearly eaten by a bear and beaten up in a bar brawl, he realises his son is the one who is living life to the full.
All Stations to Waterfall by Fay Keegan: A wonderfully clear-eyed and poignant account of how an accident –falling from a train carriage- at a young age shaped Fay Keegan’s life and that of her family’s. Fay’s story is compelling.
A Little Bit Country by Georgina Lawrence: When Georgina and her young family are fed up with the heatwaves sweeping the city they spontaneously decide to move to the outskirts of the Adelaide Hills and buy a tumbled down farm. Without any knowledge of any kind of farming experience they are plunged headfirst into ‘true’ country life. Utterly charming and humorous.
Okotoks Erratic by Vicki Laveau-Harvie: When her elderly mother is hospitalised, Vicki is summoned to her parents’ home in America to care for her father. What she discovers when she arrives is a power play that has been going on between her parents that has dramatic and possibly fatal ramifications for all involved. An intensely gripping, black humoured drama.
A Woman of Strange Substance by Sacha Jones: This is the follow up to The Grass Was Always Browner which was published by Finch a few years ago. It follows Sacha to London where she continues to pursue her dreams if becoming a prima ballerina but is thwarted by the many distractions of London’s patisseries. Charming and funny.
Coming Home to Squabbling Ground by Jenifer Severn: A painful childhood with a remote and complicated father shapes Jennifer’s life in ways that she doesn’t even realise. Her attempts at reconciliation later in life lead her to contemplate her life from a completely new angle. A thoughtful and considered examination of family relationships.
Mick Miller had an incredible career as a high performance coach for some of Australia’s top athletes, including Olympians, Rugby League teams and America’s Cup campaigns. He was used to living a life on four-year Olympic cycles, with constant demands on his time and resources, high pressure to reach KPIs, high stress and even higher expectations. He was constantly pushing, pushing, pushing! ‘I was looking after everybody else, but not really looking after myself,’ said Mick.
He swam every morning at Newport Beach. One day he swam over a clump of seaweed at the northern end of the beach and observe how it just drifted with the current of the ocean – it just went with the flow. Mick thought about how amazing it would be to live life like that, to just go with the flow. When he got out of the water he felt a lump on his neck, a swollen gland that he hadn’t noticed before. Three weeks and two operations later he was given the diagnosis of neck and throat cancer. One of the doctors told Mick, ‘Mate, we are going to have to nearly kill you to make you better. I had put to everything on hold, including the mortgage, closed my business and embarked on the first day of the rest of my life.’
Mick was convinced that he would be able to cruise through the treatment, pretend everything was normal and not tell anyone he had cancer, for reasons he is still not quite sure why. He quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be quite that simple. Treatment started well, but the wheels began to fall off about halfway through. Paula Macleod, the Head and Neck Cancer Care Coordinator at Royal North Shore Hospital, asked him one day: ‘Mick, why do you keep trying to crash through the brick wall when there is a door there that you can easily open?’ Mick knew then that he just had to surrender, ‘go with the flow’ like that seaweed at the beach and ask for some help.
Mick soon realised that, just like in the sporting arena, a team approach is vital and that in the hospital he had an amazing team around him for support consisting of nurses, dieticians, medical and radiation oncologists, and surgeons. ‘My recovery really was a team effort and every single person contributed in some way or another. From the dedicated team at the hospital, my sister Laura, special friend Robbie, my friends who organised rosters, drove me to treatment, cooked meals and had me to stay in their homes. Friends who would call or text, hold my hand, laugh at my jokes, inspire me and encourage my dreams or simply those who had me in their thoughts. It was important to surround myself with the right people, with the right energy – an incredible bunch of people who helped guide me through the whole experience.”
After leaving hospital, Mick decided to make a few changes in his life, treat each day as a gift and go with the flow. Post-treatment and some 25kg lighter, he took a holistic approach to healing with regular appointments with a psychologist, nutritionist, acupuncturist, naturopath, massage therapist and physiotherapist, truly investing in himself and his recovery.
He also decided to embark on a journey of recovery and discovery, circumnavigating Australia in his 1968 sky blue VW Beetle fondly named The Rocket, raising funds and awareness for post-cancer recovery. His travels led to world acclaim through his blog, ‘Travelling Australia Mick’s Way’ and then the publication of his inspirational book with the same title. A portion from the sale of each copy of Travelling Australia Mick’s Way is donated to help cancer patients and their families post cancer treatment via The Tomorrow Trust, which helps to bring some normality back into the lives of cancer patients and their families.
Today Mick is a much sought after public speaker, performance coach and freelance radio commentator. Mick is passionate about giving back and helping other cancer patients and their families, often touching base with new cancer patients referred to him for a chat by Paula Macleod.
‘Life is different now, I consciously choose not to brand anything good or bad, it is just different and everything that I have experienced is exactly that: an experience. All these experiences have helped shape me to become who I am today and have given me a much clearer perspective on life: no fears, no expectations, no rush – just going with the flow.’
In my role as Publishing Manager of Finch I do not always have time to edit or proof read most of our books. They are sent to freelancers once I have read through the initial manuscript and decided on a course of action. Does this manuscript need rewriting or is it fine to send straight to an editor? Does it need trimming for length or expanding some sections? Is the writing quality good enough? Does the author actually make sense? However, sometimes I find myself taking in author’s and proof reader corrections and become hooked on a particular idea or theme of a manuscript that wasn’t immediately clear to me before. Such was the case when I was doing some work on a manuscript called Unlocking Your Child’s Genius by Andrew Fuller.
Now, I am no genius! And this book isn’t for genius children either. But in one chapter, which covers the process of having to make difficult decisions, I found myself thinking…wait, this is not just for kids, this is a really invaluable chapter for anyone of any age! As I got further into it, and saw all the underlying processes that go into making decisions, I began to wonder how I had managed to get through my life without this advice. In fact after re-reading the rest of the book I began to wonder how I had made it through life at all!
Another valuable chapter for me was ‘Practising to Improve’, which included information on the art of deliberate practice. This applied mainly to sports, but could be used in any endeavour. Deliberate practice is identifying a skill that needs improvement and working on improving that skill. This sounds quite basic but how many times do you find yourself just doing the things you are good at and kind of ‘forgetting’ or not wanting to practice the things you are not so good at? For me, a lot! In my chosen sport of dressage riding, deliberate practice has become a very big part of my training. It was also fascinating to learn about mirror neurons and the way we can actually improve our own skills just by watching someone else do something. I thought this happened to me only because I was a ‘visual’ learner, but to find out there is actually a process in the brain that ‘mirrors’ activity was amazing. (Maybe everyone already knew this…but I didn’t.)
All in all I felt somewhat humbled by also invigorated by reading this book for ‘children’. I suppose the biggest lesson of all is that we never stop learning!
Creatives Unleashed, an afternoon where artisans and locals were able to mingle and meet. It is always fascinating to meet the people who create objects that we love to have in our lives, and it was also an opportunity to try your hand at creating your own unique art piece.
The event was definitely boosted by the appearance of Peter Berner , comedian, illustrator and author of THE BOOK OF HE and his new October release THE BOOK OF THEY.
Peter took over the art space, unleashing his own creative energy in the form of his familiar, slightly skewered take on life cartoons. He spoke about the importance of art in his own professional development as an illustrator/comedian and author.
Where does Peter get his burning energy from?
He came, he saw, he definitely tried to get in the way….. thanks Peter.
The success of this initial event will ensure it takes place again in this unique creative environment.
So watch this space..
Talking Baby receives another outstanding review
“In this puddle-jumper from down under, child language development lecturer Maclagan and speech-language therapist Buckley set forth a just-technical-enough look at how children acquire language and how to best support its development. Beginning with infancy, the authors encourage parents to talk, talk, talk, about anything and to leave time for “response” (anything the baby does is her “turn” in the conversation). They do an excellent job of explaining why language and motor development often coincide (first sounds happen after six months when babies become vertical and the tongue is no longer “flopping against the back of the mouth”), and further details what language acquisition parents can best support at that time, such as “performatives,” which are words associated with gestures (e.g., “bye bye”). Librarians would do well to follow and suggest the authors’ reading recommendations, such as choosing books with rhythm and rhyme for infants so they can focus on voice, and then moving on to books that stimulate gleeful recognition of everyday life (bedtime, bathing, block play) for one- and two-year-olds. VERDICT This commendable title provides exactly what parents need without becoming bogged down in research and academics. For all libraries.”
My book, The Priests, has just been mentioned in dispatches from the Royal Commission, regarding testimony by international canon law expert, Fr Tom Doyle (USA). It is reported in the Newcastle Herald by that legendary journalist and my friend, Joanne McCarthy.
(I wish I could share this with Man Chung Li; my sweetheart supported all of my work in this area, she listened to my ideas and sharpened them up. Thanks, Sweetie!)
The link is here:http://www.theherald.com.au/…/royal-commission-into-insti…/…
And the relevant part is:
“Doyle has just given evidence supporting James Miller’s view on celibacy. Miller is a barrister and author of the the book, The Priests, in which he recounted abuse by the late St Pius X Adamstown principal Father Tom Brennan, and alleged Brennan had a sexual relationship with another priest/teacher, the late Patrick Helferty.
“There is another layer that is not openly discussed and that’s the fact that the celibacy issue creates a power link between the superiors and the priests, a controlling link that you have there. – Dr Tom Doyle ”
Miller alleged in his book that the sexual relationship between Brennan and Helferty allowed notorious St Pius X priest/teacher John Denham to blackmail Brennan and continue abusing boys at the school for years, and beyond when he left the school.
Miller has argued the Catholic Church must address the celibacy issue, and remove mandatory celibacy, because of the ability to control clerics who are supposed to be celibate.
Doyle refers to it as “the controlling link”.
Finch Publishing Manager’s pick for a great Christmas gift
The Grass Was Always browner
Girls born in suburban Sydney in the 1970s were rarely called Sacha, particularly girls who aspired to be Russian ballet dancers. Although having the wrong head, feet, and body for ballet, thanks in part to drinking too much Nestle’s pink milk and sugar-laden homemade lemonade, Sacha’s determination to be a prima ballerina saw her push through and against the odds succeed in becoming something of a dancing star, surprising no-one more than her legendary dance teacher – an actual Russian – Mrs Tanya Pearson (Mrs P). This is a hilarious memoir of growing up in 70s suburban Australia and of big dreams …that sometimes come true.
‘Jones delivers her story in a refreshingly upbeat tone, laughing loudly at herself with equal insight and humour, and refusing to sink into self-pity even as she describes the often-cruel rigours of the ballet world she is so desperate to succeed in – all on a breakfast-only diet (plus cake and laxatives on Saturdays).’
Review from Massey University, NZ
Available Now at all good bookstores and online.
Everyone has an Aunty, girlfriend, Mother or Grandmother who deserves
to be introduced to Mandy Nolan’s world this Christmas.
What I Would Do If I Were You
As a stand-up comedian, an artist and a mother of five children ranging in age from toddler to teenager, her on-stage accounts of her family life have entertained audiences for years. What I Would Do If I Were You is a hilarious collection of stories centred around Mandy’s chaotic and dysfunctional family – and her attempts to be like the perfect, ideal mother she knows exists … somewhere. Whether it is trying to revive her children’s dying guinea pig, coping with their Facebook friends, explaining the dangers of sex and drugs (while hoping desperately they don’t find out about her own wild past ), battling against head lice or struggling to regain her own disappearing self-identity, Mandy will make you laugh while also sighing with recognition. A must read for all harried mums!
‘Yikes! It’s rare to come across writing that’s so brutally honest, so magnificent, so hilarious!’
Amanda Keller, presenter The Living Room, Channel 10 and Jonesy and Amanda in the morning, WSFM 101.7
‘…Mandy Nolan’s honesty is stunning. This book will twist your heart inside out and then have you roaring with laughing a moment later.’ Fiona O’Loughlin, stand-up comic
I will never forget my first love letter. It was a moment that opened me to the possibility that I could be the object of someone else’s desire. I was 11 years old. It was simple, strangely poignant and obnoxious, all at the same time. It said:
‘My name is William Sommerfield.
I wear white. I have seen you on the bus.
If you don’t go with me
You can get ******.’
In Boyfriends We’ve All Had (and Shouldn’t Have) Mandy Nolan turns her acerbic wit onto boyfriends past … and no one escapes her observations. From the needy besotted drip to the brooding unavailable bad boy, from Mr New Age to Mr Moody, Mandy has seen them all come and go in her quest for Mr Right. This is a hilarious and revealing look at the emotional, pot-boiling mess and angst of romantic relationships.
It’s wicked. Sometimes touching. But always funny. And did we mention wicked?
You have been warned …
‘Mandy Nolan is an irresistible force of Mother Nature – smart, ballsy and scandalously, uproariously funny. She can also write like a dream.’– David Leser, journalist
‘I have learnt more reading two chapters of Boyfriends than I have from the joy of sex, the Karma Sutra and 40 years of Penthouse Forum combined. This book should come with a warning: “contains truth”. – Tex Perkins
Following hot on the heels of her successful and wickedly funny What I Would Do If I Were You and Boyfriends We’ve All Had (But Shouldn’t Have), comes Home Truths, a laugh-out-loud examination of home renovation by comedian Mandy Nolan. For anyone who has ever dreamt of owning, building, renovating or perhaps bulldozing their home, this collection of witty insights and reflections on what makes up a ‘home’ will be compulsory reading. Enjoy’s Mandy’s unique take on all things home building and decorating: the number of cushions a bed can handle, the social-status enhancing swimming pool, the his and hers bathrooms, the joys of Christmas shopping with your partner, the taps and tile dramas and the never-ending discussion of where the dog is actually allowed to go in the newly landscaped backyard…
‘Eat a donut, drink a coffee, read this book… now there’s a perfect day.’
Glenn Robbins, comedian and actor
ALL MANDY’S BOOKS AVAILABLE NOW
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