The Next Big Thing

Well here we are on the Next Big Thing and this week I am it. Nominated by the very talented writer Jane Risdon whose blog you will find at – do have a look as it makes very interesting reading indeed. 

I’ve read a few of these blogs now, including Jane’s and Anne Ireson’s both of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I just hope I can do as well with mine.

The questions prepared for me to reply to are:

When did you first realise you wanted to write?

One of my earliest memories, apart from the one of my mother sewing her finger to a dress she was making, is of sitting at the kitchen table with pencil and paper, and rather than drawing like most kids at the age of 4 would choose to do, I pestered my mother about how to write words for my ‘story’. The genre of choice back then was usually the life of cats of the household, or cows and calves in the dairy that had each been named by me personally.

My mother was an excellent teller of stories and loved nothing better than to grab a few spare moments in the day with me and write great yarns about life on the land, droving cattle, milking the dairy cows,  the big sale days at the stock yards and of the violent summer storms that brought us the much needed rain for the paddocks, as well as the homestead water tanks.

As I grew older I put my writing to one side while I studied nursing, and didn’t get back to it until my move to New Zealand with my first husband where I wrote about topics of conversation and concern of the day, and hand rearing Fresian calves and pigs on our 15 acre farmlet. Being an honest Australian, I wrote as I saw it, but my husband said he was embarrassed by my frank opinions published in the local newspaper, The Southland Times. So once again writing was shelved until I felt the pull a decade later, to take up the pen again, by then a single mother and a cancer survivor.

What are you working on at the moment?

As Jane mentioned in her blog, I have four books on the go as WIPs. In reality I have a few more besides. My main pieces I’m working on though, are a book about an elderly woman who decides to do something for herself after having spent many years being the dutiful wife and nurturing mother of a large family, and she plans her road trip round Australia. Getting going is the hard part because of all the drama her family and friends bring to her door. Currently I have thoughts of making the story as 2 books as I don’t want the first one to be too long so that the reader will get bored with it all (as I do with long dragged out books).

The fun part of this book will be when she gets on the road and visits friends and relatives she has lost contact with over the decades – Isla (the feisty lady), wants to know why they shelved her in their lives, and along the way they all find things out that is life changing to say the least.

My other 2 main WIPs are at each end of the spectrum as far as contrasts go. One is about a young man who is grieving the death of his beloved grandmother and has his beliefs and ideals turned upside down by the jealousy and nastiness of his family when the will contents is revealed.

The other is based on 4 couples, all wealthy in their own rights, professionals, movers and shakers of the business world who together attend a Day on the Green, an all day concert at a country outdoor venue. There they meet two girls, one of which attracts the attention of one of the males and one of the females of the couples. The party carries on through the night at the mansion of one of the couples, with dire consequences and the potential to ruin everyone’s career, life and social standing.

Is there anything else you are working on?

Yes I have several other works on the go, and one day I will have to bite the bullet and sit myself down for a full year or two and do nothing else until they are all complete. I won’t bore you with the details here though.

What do you read and do you have any favourite authors?

I read virtually anything that appeals to me. I enjoy light hearted lifestyle stories, romance, family sagas (Penny Vincinzi being a fave here), saucy and involved such as the style of Jilly Cooper, good kids’ books of all kinds, especially the Harry Potter series, and biographies. I adore anything written about the Kennedy family (President JK and Jackie etc) and the Clintons as well as other American politicians. Sadly I find most of their Australian counterparts dull and boring in comparison.

My favourite authors are many including Mary O’Sullivan, Santa Montefiori, Penny Vincinzi, Jilly Cooper, Nicky Pelligrini, Elizabeth Buchan, Roisin Meaney, Cathy Kelly and the late Maeve Binchy. I also read many others such as Marian Keyes, Victoria Connolly, Sarah Webb, Shirley Benton, Melissa Hill and a variety of Irish girls – you can always depend on a good laugh in a story written by one of the Irish girls.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Forever! I have the bad habit of editing and re-reading and re-writing the pages written the day, week, month before. Then I proceed from there, only to do the same the next writing session. I dislike doing the same chore twice so I try to avoid that at all costs. Whether this method will pay off in the end or not, who knows?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well I would like to think that I will find a publisher to do all that for me, but realistically it seems as if the quickest way to be a published author these days is to be a self-published one and mainly in Kindle. So we will just have to wait and see for that one.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In my road trip book I’d like someone really earthy, educated and intelligent to play Isla – someone like Dame Judi Dench would be perfect! (Dream on I can hear you saying). With the book about the couples which I call my ‘Melbourne book’ I’d like to see Ewan McGregor, Dennis Quaid, Glenn Close and Charlize Theron as some of the main characters. We can all dream though can’t we?

Last year I had the great privilege and excitement of having four of my short stories published in an anthology of short stories, called ‘Telling Tales‘. The idea was born on a face book page created by the lovely Sue Welfare where we submitted short stories or just a paragraph of a story each week for each other to read, comment on and encourage. The proceeds of the book published as an eBook as well as printed version, went to the Norfolk Hospice near where Sue lives.

It was a proud moment for me when my work colleagues kept coming to my desk to inquire where they could purchase a copy. Their feedback on my stories was very encouraging for me to keep doing what I love.

My other passion as many of you will already know, is my garden. We live on a few acres here in Victoria, and the climate lends itself nicely to the English country garden type of plants, which I love, despite being a born and bred Queenslander of the tropics! I adore roses especially David Austen heritage blooms. Poppies, daffodils, tulips, camellias  azaleas, wisteria are among my favourites in my garden. I have so many daisies that form beautifully flowering hedges, I often think we could name our place ‘The Daisy House’.

For the next ‘Next Big Thing‘ I have nominated some very talented and wonderful writers, all with varying degrees in success in their chosen field. They all deserve to be read and applauded, so I hope you will all visit this blog again for their links which I will post here for easy (I hope) access. They are, Ruth Gilhool,

Robin Greene, (whose address I will add as soon as I have it)

Megan Wynne

and Neil James

I’m hoping Jean Long will be well enough to do it too. Sadly Carol Matthews and Lizzie Lamb had to decline due to other commitments.

One last thing I would like to mention, is that I am new to blogging and had a panic attack almost when Jane Risdon asked me to do this – I didn’t even have a blog, so I had to build one… was ok but I knew it could be so much better….then Nettie Thomson came to the rescue and offered her services for which I am so grateful. Nettie made my blog beautiful and is always there for help and to answer my silly questions on what to do or how to do something.

Should you need any help with your blog or to set up a blog of beauty, please don’t hesitate to contact Nettie at Meldrum Media. Contact Nettie on her blog at and I’m sure she will be  only too happy to help you. I thoroughly recommend that you do!!


18 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. Jane Risdon November 27, 2012 at 11:41 am Reply

    Wow! Wonderful Jo and so much nicer looking than mine – I must upgrade. I loved learning about your life in Australia, so different to mine. I grew up moving around the world (father in the Army) and only had snatches of a real ‘childhood’ which at times was very like yours.

    I am sure you will publish soon and any publishing house ignoring you is going to be the loser. So, you will self-publish and sell book shops worth of your novels, and so show them what a stupid mistake it would be to ‘pass’ on your work. I don’t think they will.

    You have had an eventful life and I think that helps with writing. Like you I kept putting it off and I now think that it was wise of me. When I was young I don’t think I had anything to say. Now I am older I have formed opinions and ‘life’ experience, and so think that you and I are now at ‘that time’ in life when we need to have a voice. That voice is filled with all the high and low notes of a lifetime of feeling, experiencing, and absorption of all that this world and this life had to throw at us. We have something to say and I know there are readers out there willing to listen.

    I love the sound of your life and your garden and I cannot wait to read your work. Good luck and I hope you have fun today.

    • joskehan November 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Jane, thank you so much for all those kind words. I agree yours and my lives do seem to have been similar, and of the same era as well. I’ve noticed in the past we love the same fashions and styles from that era, and our beliefs are similar also.
      I’ve always written and because I’ve been thinking about it all over the past few days, my memory has been jogged about the first book I ever wrote while in NZ. We had a small farmlet where I hand reared calves (love cows) we bought at the local auction place that stocked and sold everything under the sun. You name it, they either stocked it or sold it on consignment. My beautiful calves then became the producers of the next generation of calves and so on…when I had to sell some of the heifers to dairy farmers to make room for the next lot of babies, I cried like a mother sending her children off out into the big scary world! They were all named, and would come to me when called. One day I will get clever on the computer and scan the photos from those days and post on face book or here.
      Anyway, I digress….the book was about our life on the farmlet and the hassles I had to cope with alone while my first husband lived his playboy business man life to the full!
      So pleased to know you approve of my blog so far. I value your opinion. xxx

      • Jane Risdon November 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

        Jo, thanks for the fast reply….I thought you would be in bed by now.

        I loved reading about your life on the farm and the cows. I guess we have a lot in common because the way of life when we were kids was so different when compared with today. No TV until I was about 7 or 8 I think….books kept me occupied and playing outside, hence the love of nature I am sure. I came into contact with cows when I used to help out of the local farm near my grandmother’s house – when we were back in England for a break from our Army travels. I don’t think they had names….I cannot recall, but I can understand how a maternal bond would form. I had some chicken (baby chicks) once, about 100 of them and they were kept in my Nan’s back garden. When they ailed my Nan would wrap them in warm nappies (terry towel) and sit by the open fire in the sitting room, cuddling them and feeding them tiny amounts of brandy to get them through the night. Imagine my heartbreak when they got too big and there was talk, not just of egg collecting, but of chicken dinners. When I was at school they arranged for them to be sent to the local farm and imagine my horror at seeing them in their penned area, being fattened up for the table. I found it hard to go and feed them and visit the cows after that. It took me years of feeling like a serial killer before I could eat a chicken again! I have never written about it, therapy didn’t help either – so I do feel your pain when letting go of your cows. We do seem to have lots in common, which is wonderful. I am looking forward to reading all about the life and times of Jo Skehan here soon.

  2. Carol Matthews November 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Wow Jo! Fantastic reading, had to skim through very quickly as loads of other stuff to do today, but have saved it to re read at leisure! Looking forward to reading your published books asap, sound just my sort of thing, we have many favourite authors in common, goota go, have a great day, Carol xxxxxx

    • joskehan November 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm Reply

      Thanks for dropping in Carol. Good to know you like the same authors – pity we don’t live close by, we could swap books!! xx

  3. Suzie Tullett November 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm Reply

    The first main WIP you talk about sounds like it’s going to be a great read, Jo. A woman of a certain age on a road trip – what could be better? Especially with Dame Judi Dench at the helm!

    I look forward to following your progress and can’t wait to read one of your books. Please keep us updated x

    • joskehan November 28, 2012 at 7:18 am Reply

      Thanks for dropping in Suzie….I know you have a very busy day with your own books…looking forward to your second one! Big hugs. xx

  4. Lizzie Lamb November 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm Reply

    Hi Jo, it sounds like we have many likes in common – no surprise there, perhaps. It’s been great learning more about you through your blog. Sorry I couldn’t join in this time but you’ve made me put BLOG as the next thing to do on my list. Maybe you’ll be a guest on it when I get one set up. Looking fwd to reading about the other writers who’ve signed up for this. (especially Robin Greene and Ruth Gilhool who’ve I’ve met through Facebook.) Good luck with your writing and thanks once again for buying Tall, Dark and Kilted. I owe you one :-0

    • joskehan November 28, 2012 at 7:17 am Reply

      Lizzie it’s just great to know you are so busy now with the success of your first book!! Well done you! I am secretly green with envy!! xxxx

  5. nettiewriter November 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm Reply

    Fabulous post, Jo. Your farm life sounds really interesting and I’d love to read more about that too. We don’t share favourite authors, but I can see that you have an excellent mix in there, each one brilliant within their genre – which I am sure you will join some day soon.
    And many thanks for the kind ‘plug’. You were a joy to work with – if all my clients were like you, I’d be a very happy bunny!
    Keep up the great work!

    • joskehan November 28, 2012 at 7:16 am Reply

      I very much appreciate all you have done for me over the past few weeks Nettie, and for a dear friend of mine too. You are a gem! I shall continue to let people know just how talented you are at your work too – especially the technically challenged like myself! You will be bored with stories about my life on the farm as a kid and later in NZ and even now too…it’s not a farm but it’s a lot of land in garden and I’m still surrounded by cows, sheep and horses in paddocks nearby, and of course my own livestock, the cats and dog, lol. xxxx

  6. joskehan November 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Thankyou Suzie, I just now have to make the time to get them all finished and then try to find a publisher game enough to put them out there!! Congratulations on your news of the publisher for your second book too – so exciting for you. Can’t wait to read it. xx

  7. annieye November 28, 2012 at 6:24 am Reply

    This is a fabulous read, Jo, and you took me right there, into the heart of Australia with you sitting at the table asking your mum to teach you to write. It was brilliantly written and very descriptive. We have the same tastes in reading – I love Penny Vincenzi, too, as well as lots of the other authors you mention. Your poor mum! Fancy sewing her finger. It must have been absolute agony. I can’t wait to read one of your novels. I wish you all the best for your writing and in your personal life. Although we are thousands of miles apart, I know that if we could meet up in real time we would be great friends. Well done, Jo. x

    • joskehan November 28, 2012 at 7:13 am Reply

      Annie, I look forward to meeting you all in person one day…it might happen as we just don’t know what is round the corner!! I look forward to it. The sewing her finger thing is in another book I am working on that is just for the family really, but maybe if I change a few names and details I could make it into a book as well. (Don’t want any litigation cases). xx

  8. kelly jean richardson November 28, 2012 at 6:36 am Reply

    jo, love your blog and hearing all the details of your life and your writing. so much rich experience to mine for gemstones. i must say the older woman on a roadtrip quite caught my fancy as well. this is a book i would love to read.

    • joskehan November 28, 2012 at 7:11 am Reply

      Thanks Kelly, that is good to know…sometimes I think I’m writing for no good reason, lol.

  9. Pamela Griffiths November 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm Reply

    Oh Jo, loved your blog, very interesting and loved to get to know more about you and your writing. Love the layout of your blog too. Really enjoyed reading it Jo, keep up the good work and best wishes and success in your future endeavours. Well done. xx

    • joskehan November 29, 2012 at 3:41 am Reply

      Thank you Pam. Nice to hear from you and appreciate your supportive words. xx

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