Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Guest: Sarah Jane Butfield

Curiously, I've just realized I have never had a non-fiction author as a Guest since this blog started over four years ago. Well, let's remedy that now, and who better than this week's visitor to give us some practical tips. Ladies and Gentlemen...


Sarah Jane Butfield

Everyone has a story


I am sure I am not alone in being familiar with the phrase ‘Everyone has a story’ and I actually used it as the name of my very first blog which I created long before I even dared to dream of becoming a published author. I have always compared it to the other well-known adage, ‘having your 15 minutes of fame’ and as such, at that time, I thought that writing a story to be published or having 15 minutes of fame was something that happened to other people, not me. Who did I think these other people were? Well, people who had interesting stories to tell or a skill that made them topical or worthy of public acknowledgement. With this in mind I will give you a little background to my accidental foray into the publishing arena.

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Although I have kept a journal, on and off since my teenage years, it was after the huge physical and psychological impact of the Brisbane floods in Australian 2011, when our newly renovated home in the suburb of Ipswich, Queensland, was totally submerged that the power of a journal really came into effect. However, at the time I had no idea that my scruffy notebook style journal would become the catalyst for a series of travel memoirs and which would later move me into the world of mentoring other new authors with a story to tell.

My personal bucket list of over the years has included a variety of travel and personal objectives. Some I have achieved, while others are still regarded as ‘work in progress’ or ‘this could take a small miracle’ type projects. One of my bucket list items was to write a romance novel, in the Mills and Boon style, although I never believed I would publish it, but I wanted to achieve the writing aspect of it. I have enjoyed reading romantic fiction since I was about 18 and many times whilst reading, I day-dreamed about being the next Jackie Collins. In February 2011 after the floods we had to relocate from Queensland to Tasmania to live with my father-in-law while we started to try and piece together the remnants of our life in Australia and start over with a very unsure future ahead of us. I started studying how to write a romance novel as a way of keeping my bucket list dream alive and to give me something positive to focus on as the bureaucratic process of the flood's aftermath started. Alongside this I continued writing in my trusty journal documenting the personal journey we were undertaking to regain a degree of normality to our lives. This cathartic form of therapy helped to distract me from the psychological impact of what we now faced as a family. I am not a materialistic person and the loss
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of a house and its contents was one aspect that could be replaced, resolved or dealt with through a physical process. However, the loss of very personal items which are irreplaceable and which carry huge sentimental and emotional attachments, such as items made by the children during their school years, old birthday and Christmas cards with funny heart-warming messages from the children at the various stages of their journey through childhood into adulthood made an indelible stain on my heart. It was from this pain and sense of loss that the reflective element of my journal deepened. With little help available to us to help us deal with the personal aftermath of the floods, as we had relocated away from the scene of the devastation, it became a very personal journey to rebuild our lives. Finding a new home to rent, sourcing new jobs, a new school and a CRPS specialist for Jaime were all essential tasks to start restoring the basic elements of everyday life. During this transitional period, we needed more than ever before to remain positive in our outlook especially when in contact with our friends and family back in the UK, so that they did not worry more that was necessary and feel even more frustrated that they couldn’t help us on a practical level.

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When I started my new job as Injury Management Coordinator for Allianz Insurance Australia I recounted the story of how we came to be living in Hobart many times, as I met new people who were naturally curious about why a UK expat couple would firstly move to Alice Springs and then be left almost destitute in Queensland after the floods and ultimately end up in Tasmania. As one of the insurance companies that made the decision to not pay-out on the Queensland flood claims, at that time, there was degree of awkwardness initially when senior management visited, even though we had not been insured with Allianz in Queensland. I think that as they came to know me and my family, and as it is a very family oriented business, I became the personal face of an unseen tragedy. Regularly people would say “you couldn’t make this stuff up” or “it’s like the premise of a good movie or novel” and looking back it was from these tiny seeds of inspiration or maybe motivation to share our story that I began writing what would go on to become my debut travel memoir, ‘Glass Half Full Our Australian Adventure.

By the time I was at the stage of working out what to do with this book I had written we were living in France, which is another story you can read about in ‘Two Dogs and a suitcase: Clueless in Charente the journal was filling up again. With a very erratic internet service and whilst sitting in the building site of a house which was now our home I decided to self-publish my book expecting my audience to
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be that of friends and family who were curious about the way our life had been changed by the events of 2011. However, as I networked with other self-published authors, initially in my genre and later across all genres, I became hooked on the process and the total control that it allows you to develop as writer and a book promoter. Emails from readers started arriving with questions and feedback, all aimed at helping me to develop as an author and to give the readers who were now developing into fans and sometimes friends, more of what they wanted. And the rest as they say is history.  I became ‘The Accidental Author’ of a travel memoir series and later a series of self-help guides for new authors who are about to embark on the journey I had experienced and who I could help by sharing my challenges, successes and ever developing knowledge and skill base.

The lesson from this rambling blog post is that everything you experience and learn on your personal journey is your story, and it doesn’t have to be dramatic like a Hollywood blockbuster movie to capture the hearts and minds of readers who can empathise, relate or just plainly interested in the places, people and events that you are writing about. So my question to you is ‘what’s your story?’

Please leave a comment and feel free to get in touch about your story, or your writing journey.

I would like to thank Eric for the opportunity to share my story with you today, it has been a pleasure.

Bio:

Author Sarah Jane Butfield was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. Sarah Jane is a wife, mother, retired Registered General Nurse and is now an international best-selling author of Travel, Nursing and Culinary memoirs. She has also written a series of self-help guides for new authors based on her experiences to date.

Her life now as a successful author and inspiring mentor to new authors in her role as CEO at Rukia Publishing, is in addition to being a modern day mum to her 'Brady Bunch.' She has four children, three step-children and an 18-month old grandson. Sarah Jane loves spending time with her large family, their two Australian Cattle dogs, Dave and Buster, and her French cat called George.

Here are her author social media and website links:

Sarah Jane's Author website: www.sarahjanebutfield.com

Twitter

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Thank you Sarah Jane for your interesting post. If there are any new writers out there, I urge you to check out her book promotional series, details of which can be found on her Amazon Author page: 
 http://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Jane-Butfield/e/B00GPLZW2Y/


Eric @ www.ericjgates.com
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