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Droughts, flooding rains, and 100 books to win: Jenn J McLeod on the #AuthorsForTownsville giant book raffle

February 25, 2019

About the author

When Jenn J. McLeod quit Sydney’s corporate communications chaos, she bought a little café in a small town and ran a unique, dog-friendly B&B in country NSW. Home for this nomadic novelist now is a fifth wheeler caravan, and Jenn spends her days writing heart-warming tales of Australian country life. Jenn’s debut, House for all Seasons, came in at #5 on Nielsen’s 2013 Best Selling Debut Novel list, and Jenn has since published five novels, with the latest, A Place to Remember, released in March 2018.

You’ll find Jenn on her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where she shares travel pictures and chats about her ‘Paddock To Print’ philosophy that encourages readers to buy Australian-made fiction.

 Words // Jenn J McLeod

Late last year, while driving Myrtle the Purple Turtle (my home on wheels) from east to west via The Great Australian Bight, I was reminded of Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country. You know the one:

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

If any road trip can highlight the contrasting landscape that is Australia, it’s the 4,452 kilometres we drove from coast to coast. To start, we climbed the ragged Great Dividing Range, traversed the sweeping plains of a dusty, drought-affected NSW, then paused before passing over our country’s opal heart. A wilful and lavish land indeed! Then we made the windswept and remarkable Nullarbor Plain that lived up to its name. (Null = no, Arbor = trees) Finally, at WA’s southern-most tip we found the light between oceans. (Cape Leeuwin National Park and lighthouse: the inspiration for M. L. Steadman’s novel and a #bucketlist item for this nomadic novelist.)

There was one constant on our journey across this diverse land; the steady convoy of semi-trailers carting hay and bound for drought-stricken farming regions to the east. We tooted and waved and said “thanks” over the two-way for making the trek. We understood how long and costly, and even dangerous that road trip can be. Like many Australians I bought a bale, but I wanted to do more to help our farmers. I wanted to help make a difference.

Back in the east, Josephine Moon was thinking the same, and when she contacted me and fellow author mates, the #AuthorsForFarmers monster book raffle was born. In addition to the 100 books up for grabs, authors such as Sophie Green, Annie Seaton, and myself, joined industry professionals, including Annette Barlow (Allen & Unwin) and Ali Watts (Penguin) to throw our collective Akubra in the ring, auctioning ourselves off on eBay. (Our manuscript assessment skills, that is!) As well as book packs, ten lucky writers each got a one-on-one manuscript assessment with a leading Australian publisher or author.

Within weeks #AuthorsForFarmers had raised almost $28,000 dollars for the Rural Aid #buyabale program to help drought-affected farmers in NSW and QLD.

That was October last year.

I had no idea I’d be back on the east coast four months later experiencing flooding rains and joining Jo in another fundraiser – #AuthorsForTownsville.

If anyone understands the droughts and flooding rains from Dorothea’s poem, Queenslanders do, with February’s unprecedented floods leaving coastal towns and inland regions of Julia Creek and beyond devastated. At times like this, we often hear people say: “Queenslanders are resilient. They’ll be right!” But the strongest can do with a helping hand, and as an author who takes inspiration from the land, it’s nice to give back.

I’m not alone in drawing inspiration for my stories from real life and real places. An author’s imagination can turn a bone-dry Australian landscape, baking in parts, into a lush and charming country setting. It’s what we do. Writers build fictional worlds into which readers want to escape. But the reality can be very different. So, when the land we love is hurting and the people who inspire our stories need help, what do we do?

We hold another #GiantBookRaffle with 100 of Australia’s beloved and best-selling authors donating books for you to win. (Money raised by #AuthorsForTownsville goes to GIVIT, the registered charity providing immediate assistance to those in need.)

ENTRY DETAILS:

1st Prize: 70 books
2nd Prize: 20 books
3rd Prize: 10 books
(Aus postal addresses only.)

Open until: Friday 29 March 2019 at 9:00am

To enter the raffle: Click this link and use the BOOK NOW button to buy your tickets.

With your help, and with the support of Better Reading to help us spread the word, we hope to raise even more. So, thanks to you for sharing the word, and thank you Dorothea Mackellar for your beautiful words:

My Country

The love of field and coppice,

Of green and shaded lanes.

Of ordered woods and gardens

Is running in your veins,

Strong love of grey-blue distance

Brown streams and soft dim skies

I know but cannot share it,

My love is otherwise.

 

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land me!

 

A stark white ring-barked forest

All tragic to the moon,

The sapphire-misted mountains,

The hot gold hush of noon.

Green tangle of the brushes,

Where lithe lianas coil,

And orchids deck the tree-tops

And ferns the warm dark soil.

 

Core of my heart, my country!

Her pitiless blue sky,

When sick at heart, around us,

We see the cattle die –

But then the grey clouds gather,

And we can bless again

The drumming of an army,

The steady, soaking rain.

 

Core of my heart, my country!

Land of the Rainbow Gold,

For flood and fire and famine,

She pays us back threefold –

Over the thirsty paddocks,

Watch, after many days,

The filmy veil of greenness

that thickens as we gaze.

 

An opal-hearted country,

A wilful, lavish land –

All you who have not loved her,

You will not understand –

Though earth holds many splendours,

Wherever I may die,

I know to what brown country

My homing thoughts will fly.

– Dorothea Mackellar

(Full poem included by arrangement with the Licensor, The Dorothea Mackellar Estate, c/- Curtis Brown (Aust) Pty Ltd)

Happy reading and happy travels,

Jenn J McLeod


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