Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some encouragement for today...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joy to the World

Just a quick note to say thank you for all your support in has meant the world to me.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy & prosperous New Year.

Don't forget to hug your loved ones tight!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Courageous / Mrs T’s Kooky Pants

My Book Launch and Art Exhibition held on Saturday at The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft was a great success, with a portion of sale proceeds on the day going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I'm so grateful to Paul Macdonald of The Children's Bookshop and all who attended...I'm still smiling today!!

I enjoyed indulging in cupcakes (after all, we all know life's like a cupcake), champagne (juice for me) and other treats to celebrate with my family, friends and others in the community. And of course, I loved sharing about the journey that got me to the launch of Mrs T’s Kooky Pants...I even got to do a reading and signing for the very first time!

I have professional photographs on the way from my amazing sponsor Framing Beautiful, but here are some that have been sent to me from people's iPhones and've gotta love iPhones :)

I thought I'd be more nervous about the launch part of the event, but it was my art that had me quivering….seeing my work framed on a wall is so different to seeing it on a computer screen…but it ended up being better than on the screen and people seemed to really enjoy the exhibition.

In fact, my fantastic team made a number of art sales on the day :)

There was great excitement around the exhibition for an additional reason though, in that I revealed a special Limited Edition artwork at this event, which I created specifically to support Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.

Courageous - An artwork to support breast cancer awareness & research
Courageous - An artwork to support breast cancer
awareness & research
This piece called “Courageous” is the first of other Limited Edition artworks I will create as part of a Pink Ribbon Series…the plan being that each year around October Pink Ribbon Month, a new Limited Edition artwork will be revealed, with a portion of sale proceeds going to support research funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

This will be a series of artworks to support Breast Cancer Research, as well as awareness of the fact that 800 young women in their 20s and 30s are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. I was 39 years of age when I was diagnosed in 2009, but not before being sent away and told by a doctor I was too young to get breast cancer. If I didn't go back 2 months later, I may not be here telling my story today.

My sponsor Codeice Prints is amazing! All artworks, shown on my website Fantangle Designs, can be purchased as archival quality Giclee art prints on museum art paper, framed or unframed, or on canvas, stretched or rolled. My art is also available on luxurious cushions. Please email to enquire about ordering an existing design or commissioning a new artwork.

But if you would like to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation, I hope you will consider purchasing Courageous, my Limited Edition framed artwork, with a portion of sale proceeds going to breast cancer research.

Of course, you can also purchase Mrs T's Kooky Pants here in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, with $1 from every book sold going to breast cancer research. Please note, there are FREE  downloadable Teachers' Notes when you click through to eTV Publishing's site.

To get all the details on Mrs T's Kooky Pants, please listen to my Hope 103.2FM Radio interview with Katrina Roe...

2014-09-15 Hope 103.2 Radio Interview


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Scar Project

IMG_4038On Thursday night I was honoured to attend the opening night of The Scar Project, a photographic exhibition On Seven at David Jones, sponsored by The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

 This is a FREE event open from 12th – 21st September 2014, exhibiting a series of large scale portraits of young women surviving breast cancer, by New York Fashion Photographer, David Jay.

As a breast cancer survivor, I encourage you to see it, so maybe you’ll see what I saw… 

Warriors after a battle.

Eyes pleading for acknowledgement of the truth.





And not a smidgen of pink.

But why no pink?

Because there’s nothing pretty about breast cancer!

The deep beauty depicted in these portraits goes far beyond ‘pretty’.

To all those watching a warrior going through their battle, please don’t forget who they were before. 

Please don’t forget they have no choice in the matter.

Please don’t forget the whole damn thing is out of their control.

Remember their battle.

Remember their beauty.

Remember their courage.

Salute them for their honesty.

Thank them for inspiring you to live a better life.

And please do one other thing…

When you see a Pink Ribbon…

Don’t roll your eyes.

Don’t complain that you’re tired of giving.

Don’t come up with any conspiracy theories.

Instead, remember these beauties.

Remember research is the source of our hope.

Remember, in order to win the battle, we must never give up!


This October is Pink Ribbon month. You can support the National Breast Cancer Foundation in reaching their aspirational goal of ‘zero breast cancer deaths by 2030’ by purchasing Mrs T’s Kooky Pants, with $1 from every book sold going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

You can also attend my Book Launch and Art Exhibition on 20th September 2pm at The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft. A portion of sale proceeds on the day will also go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

'Mrs T's Kooky Pants' Book Launch


It's finally here...

Mrs T's Kooky Pants is now published, with my official launch being held at The Children's Bookshop in Beecroft on 20th September at 2pm (refer invitation for full details).

Proceeds from the sale of every copy of Mrs T's Kooky Pants will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), who have actually endorsed the book.

My Fantangle Designs artworks will also be on exhibition at the launch, with a portion of art sale proceeds going towards breast cancer research.

It all seemed a little surreal that I'm finally a published author, until being notified by my publisher, eTV Publishing, that online sales of my book have already reached '53 books sold' as at today! I feel so honoured that people are buying my book!

Here's what my publisher and the NBCF say:
“Mrs T’s Kooky Pants is an engaging and vibrant story suitable for younger readers, that tells a valuable lesson in an interesting and entertaining format. With themes including cancer, death, acceptance and learning how to move on, it is a story that will connect with children and allow them to understand some of the more unpleasant aspects of life in a supportive format.” eTV Publishing    
“For many years Jennifer has helped people from all walks of life understand more about breast cancer by sharing her own personal story as a National Breast Cancer Foundation speaker. Jennifer has now drawn on her own experience to help explain cancer to children through Mrs T’s Kooky Pants. Mrs T’s Kooky Pants is a beautiful tool to fulfil an unmet need - for teachers and parents with young children, how to communicate the reality of cancer in an age-appropriate way.” Carol Renouf – CEO, National Breast Cancer Foundation 
“Cancer comes with a myriad of challenges. But perhaps one of the greatest is communicating this to our loved ones, especially children. Research tells us that communicating to children about what is happening with family members can really help to reduce their anxiety. Jennifer has used her own experience with breast cancer to help young children better understand cancer.” Dr Alison Butt – Head of Research, National Breast Cancer Foundation
Here's what the lovely Jackie Hawkes, Children's Book Council of Australia NSW Inc. Committee Member, iRead Editor and Teacher Librarian, says:
"Wow Jennifer, what a beautiful book. Absolutely full of your own kindness and energy! I didn't realise it was part of a personal journey. We can't ignore cancer, but it seems we CAN move on from it. 
You have really captured the essential qualities of what teaching is about - helping kids become positive and caring so that they do cope with personal snags along the way and giving them a support base for when big issues become part of their lives. Ready to go because "every day is a new day and a chance to start again." The soft and subtle pictures contribute to the gentleness of the story. 
There has to be a lot of you in Mrs T. I just get the feeling that you are great plus with your kids. Writing can make you feel very vulnerable, but words and ideas just need to be out there to share with the broader world."
And here's what my mentor, author Amanda Hampson said:
"Jennifer Reid's personal experience of grief has been channeled into a sweet, gentle tale to help children discuss and understand the sadness of loss."
If you're in town, I'd love to see you at my book launch on 20th September. If you can't make it and you happen to be one of the 53 people who have already purchased my book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Feel free to write a review on Amazon or my Facebook page.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation's aspirational goal is for zero breast cancer deaths by 2030 ... gathering interest in my book is my way of continuing my ongoing support of this goal, so please help me spread the word.


(Free Download - Teachers' Notes for Mrs T's Kooky Pants)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I love Lebanon...

As I felt the stones beneath my shoes and looked down, I couldn't quite believe I was there.

Walking on the same ground my parents and grandparents had played on as kids. 

The exact road my mother, wearing a white dress and flowers in her hair, rode on her father's donkey to meet her love (my father)...who was eagerly awaiting the love of his life to marry her.

I couldn't believe I was actually walking on the same soil and stones that were part of the very life and labour of my grandparents and their parents before them.

I could hear with my own ears, the church bells that my ancestors heard. 

I watched the same sun rise and set in the distance...and gasped each time I witnessed a soft blanket of clouds mysteriously covering the twinkling lights of the village below, ready to fall asleep for the night. 

At every moment, I was completely stricken with a myriad of emotions. 

Thankfulness, sadness, jubilation, love.

But to all those newfound family and friends around me, I was simply a traveler checking out the place.

Did they not know that I was a writer in search of my history?

Did they not know that I was the daughter of those great men and women who went before me...whom I greatly loved (even those I had never actually met)?

Did they not know that I had an inexplicable love for a land I had never before set foot on?

Did they not know what I had been through to get here?

Nope, they didn't know.

They knew only what they could see. 

A curious, carefree girl checking out their humble hometown.

The breathtaking views they'd seen every day of their lives.

The majesty of the cedars, olive orchards and grapevines they'd witnessed on a regular basis.

The harvesting of fruit and vegetables that was their labour, not just a novelty...the fresh organic produce they ate daily.

And I noticed them gaze into each other's eyes each day. With love yes, but also a familiarity. Perhaps they don't know, as I do, that today could be the very last day they get to look into one another's magnificent eyes. 

Or perhaps they know it better than I. 

Maybe that's why they live much less complex lives than ours. 

Maybe that's why some choose to live and die in their beautiful mountain village home.

Maybe that's why they hold on to a faith, deeper than I've ever known, as though it is as vital as the air they breathe.

I loved Lebanon before I ever set eyes on it. 

I loved Lebanon when I eventually trod on its soil. 

And now, I love Lebanon more and more....

...knowing that I may never have the privilege of stepping on its holy soil again, may never harvest and eat of its nutritious produce, and may never look into the beautiful eyes of my beloved family there....

Lebanon will be in my heart forever!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Research Advice for Writers

Bags packed - check.

Writing tools at the ready - check. 

Nerves calmed - check. 

Ready to go? I think so :) 

Road to where I'm headed

As you probably know by now, I'm off on an overseas research trip to Lebanon tomorrow. It is the land of my heritage, and is one of the settings in the historical fiction novel I'm writing. I'm excited and nervous all at once, but I'm ready for the adventure!

Especially after overcoming a particular concern I've had up until today. I've been trying to figure out where to actually start with my research, or how to best go about it. But after checking in with my awesome 12x12 peeps, asking them to share any clues, advice, tips, strategies or suggestions, all my fears are allayed. Here's how the conversation went:

Rebecca Sheraton "Good luck Jennifer"
Teresa Robeson "Jennifer, I think we'd need to know what the novel is about or encompasses before we can tell you how to go about looking for resources. But since your novel is set in the past, perhaps there are historical societies or historical museums that you can visit while there? Good luck and have fun!"
My response: "My novel is based on the story of my parents and grandparents migrating from Lebanon to Australia just after WWII. My father and grandparents have passed away and my mum is 84, so it is going to be very emotional to experience actually walking the land they grew up in :) "
Juliana Lee "I always want to know the best places to eat while I travel. What do the locals eat and what dishes are not found elsewhere. I guess what I'm trying to say, is eat your way into the heart of the people!"
Meg Miller "I don't have any practical experience, but my gut says to spend plenty of time enjoying, watching, chatting people up. Soak it all in!  Have fun!!!"
Julie Rowan-Zoch "I'm with Meg, only I'd eat a lot too!"
Katie Davis "When I was in Italy many years ago with Franny Billingsley, I watched her research the novel that would eventually become Chime. She touched everything. She felt the rough walls in the ancient towers. She watched how the light hit the uneven stones and heard how her footsteps sounded in the piazza. She wrote down everything. She saw and heard and felt and smelled and experienced it all. For me it was How To Research a Novel College."
My response: "Thank you all so much! Katie, that's exactly what I'm bursting to do!! Now I know it's okay to do just that :) "
Julie Foster Hedlund "When I was in Italy (which I will be using in writing soon!) I also took recordings of church bells, street musicians, and just the sound of the street - of life going by. The great thing is being able to have a recorder and a camera with you (phone) at all times. Also, don't go ANYWHERE without a notebook."
My response: "That's beautiful, Julie ... I'll be attending a traditional wedding too, so I'm sure there'll be church bells to record :) "
Julie Foster Hedlund "A few years ago, when I spent a summer in Italy, there was one church in the little village on the Riviera where we stayed that played the most beautiful bells on the 6:00 hour. I recorded it - all 3 minutes of it. Then there's the sound of the sea and people talking and enjoying themselves in the background. I cry every time I play it back. The more visceral you can make your memories of the experience, the better. Even if you just write "glimmers" of things that catch your eye that capture taste, smell, touch, emotion. Not even full sentences. That way when you come back, you'll be able to draw from the emotional truth of the experience, which is the most important part."
Jacque Duffy "You've got some wonderful tips here Jennifer, enjoy every moment."
Carrie Finison "What a great opportunity! I would do whatever you can to get a glimpse of traditional daily home life. Can you stay in a bed an breakfast of some kind (do they have those?) where you'd actually be sharing someone's home? Or maybe have a friend of a friend or a long-lost cousin show you around and with luck invite you to dinner at their home. The more rural/traditional the better, too.
My response: "Thanks Carrie ... I'm actually staying with my mum's sister in the mountain village my family comes from :) So I'm very blessed to be meeting cousins I've never met before, etc. I'll also be visiting the home my mum actually grew up in...her brother and his family still live in that home :) "
Carrie Finison "That sounds perfect, Jennifer! You'll get so much local flavour from those experiences. Another thing that works well, esp. with older family members, is looking at old photographs with them. That can trigger a lot of memories/stories.

It sounds like you just need to figure out the best ways to record and capture your experiences. Maybe bring a couple of options - a voice recorder, a notebook, a camera with video capability?"

My beautiful mountain village destination
My beautiful mountain village destination

This advice is pure gold to me. Thought I'd share it in case someone else out there is stumped about how to go about their research adventure. But what a great problem to have, don't you think?!

Alla mahkoun (meaning God be with you/a Lebanese farewell)