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  • J.M. Anderson

Holding Hands

Writing my first novel required immense dedication and persistence.

Several people stand out as being crucial to the completion and success of Adjustments Down Under.


Joe Tenant: Diplomat, war veteran, and Author of several books including ‘And Now Down Under’ and ‘Requiem for Sally and Other Stories’.

After being introduced to Joe at a writer’s group, I accepted an invitation to his home, my baby son in my arms. Joe took me into his writing room, explained a little of his journey with writing, then turned to me quite sternly. I still remember his piercing eyes. “I know you are a very busy person,” he said, “but your manuscript is important. You must not let it sit in a drawer. You must not! You must bring it to completion.”

Thank you, Joe, immensely. Those words gave me the strength and conviction I needed to continue on what was to become a 6,000 hour intense learning task.

Liat Kirby, talented writer, Manuscript Assessor, and Author of ‘Curving My Eyes to Almonds’.

I also came to know Liat through a writer’s group, and to her absolute credit she read my third draft manuscript all the way through when it contained 350,000 words! She then started to teach me, shape my writing, show me my weaknesses and strengths, and she stuck with me for three years until distance separated us. Beautiful, spirited Liat! I still miss our writing sessions.

Nick Stevens, radio and television writer, amazing man, and keeper of bees.

After Liat moved interstate, I edited Adjustments Down Under on my own, over and over and over, reducing it to 150,000 words. I felt pressured to reduce it closer to the average 90,000 words, but the work was begging not to be cut. So I waited for seven long months, not knowing what to do. Then a friend approached Nick on my behalf, and he most graciously agreed to read my manuscript.


What liberation! What joy! He said it was great, that I didn’t need an editor and that it didn’t need to be shortened. A wise and experienced writer, he picked up on a few character tweaks and subtle clarifying changes that needed to be considered, then basically said, congratulations, well done, go for it. Nick, how can I ever thank you? Your encouragement and guidance was absolutely pivotal to me bringing this novel to completion.


And there’s gorgeous, wonderful Grace.

I have put Grace in here because there is a type of help that goes beyond qualifications.

Grace isn’t at all experienced or qualified in the literary field, yet she has been one of my most active and consistent supporters throughout. Grace read one of the earlier drafts and loved it so much she said she wouldn’t change a word. She recently celebrated her 90th birthday and remains one of my biggest fans. Thank you so much Grace. I love you forever. To me you have epitomized the success I dreamed of – to touch people and make them laugh. Your reaction, and those like you, have been my satisfaction and joy.


And to all the others, thank you too! My family - my solid strength and core love; the InHouse Publishing Team; all those who bought me liquorice allsorts; those who took my shifts at work so I could write; my husband who endured me yelling at him to get out of my workspace; my children who listened to me read the whole manuscript out loud. You are all amazing!

Thank you for holding my hand.





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