Better Babies

Healthy Parents make Healthy Babies is my mantra and my blog has been running since 2007. Many posts highlight the importance of both prospective parents actively preparing for pregnancy, and others the value of nurturing parenting practices.

Janette is a winner of Top 25 Book Author Moms - 2012

What tips would you give a mom who wants to write a book?

Start writing ... on whatever topic floats your boat. I started writing just after my first baby was born. That was 27 years ago and I was waxing lyrical about the benefits of the healthy preparation my partner and I had done before Dave’s conception. I kept adding random thoughts and comments - they all went down on a big notepad.
Use modern technology - today there are multiple opportunities for aspiring writers to spread their wings or display their wares, so start blogging, posting, commenting, submitting articles, whatever. Use every channel you can to get your writing in front of readers. There’s no better way to refine your technique (and populate your potential book with content).
Save everything you write - lots of my early writings have been recycled - with a new slant on an old topic, you can get a lot of mileage out of previously created material.
Don’t wait to finish your book to send it to a publisher. All publishers want is a synopsis, and a couple of sample chapters to show your writing style. If you have an idea for a series, tell them - they’ll love it! If you’re a self-promoter or business entrepreneur and have a ready-made market for your books - tell them that too and to whom you’re planning to sell!
Do your homework! Find the most likely publishing houses for your genre - check online or join an author’s society to get this background info. Check the format required for manuscript submission - some publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. On the other hand, some publishers now only accept a manuscript for an ebook.
Don’t be deterred by a rejection slip. My first manuscript, was considered well written but to have very small potential readership. Expanded into four books, that reached best-seller status, the whole series has become a publishing “evergreen” with translations into Dutch, Spanish and Italian. This year, two new books and ebooks, covering the same material but designed for a time poor generation of prospective parents, integrate with a casual game and will also become mini ebooks RRP $1.99 - an innovative publishing initiative from Random House. It’s all about timing, being in the right place at the right time and trusting!
If you’re not a natural born writer, if words don’t come easily, but you’ve got a story to tell or a message to spread, consider working with someone who can turn your ideas and passion into perfect prose. In the same way a co-author can create an extraordinarily creative collaboration, adding an element of wisdom that broadens your readership base. In my case, co-author Francesca Naish brought herbal medicine and years in clinical practice to my pharmacy and nutritional medicine background. We had very different experiences of birthing and nurturing our boys (two apiece) but were in complete accord about how that experience would look in an ideal world! Writing and editing together had its challenges but we’re still dear friends, even though my latest volumes were authored solo.

How do you balance writing and motherhood?

This question gave me pause ... I never really know how to answer it. Looking back I wonder. I started writing just after Dave was born, about the benefits of preconception care, birth at home, family bed and more. I just kept adding odd comments - they all went down on a big tatty notepad. Twenty seven years on, with all the new whizz-bang technology and my embrace thereof, I still jot notes on pieces of paper, napkins, backs of invoices, parking tickets, whatever comes to hand when inspiration strikes.
So my first manuscript, which became four books began as occasional, random jottings. I can also remember trying to transcribe those jottings, using an early Apple Mac with a sleeping baby nestled in a sling - my hands reaching for the keyboard over the top of his head. It was a drawn out process, from Dave’s birth in 1985, to first submission of a complete manuscript in 1990, through rewrites after several rejections, to hook-up with my brilliant co-author, to our first contract in 1994, through another massive re-write, to publication of The Natural Way to Better Babies in 1996. After that the process was much easier, boys were older, I had more free time, I could write and edit while watching their sporting activities, even when Alex took them out and left me blissfully and totally free of interruptions for a few hours. But 'easier' is only relative to what went before... so that means that my most recent books, published this year have been an absolute breeze. Going back to the mass of material I’ve created for multiple channels (I never delete anything - see 2 and 3 above), the manuscripts were completed in about 8 weeks. 
But the greatest joy in their creation was the contribution of Dave (Better Baby #1) and his wife Pauline, both hugely talented chefs. Their recipes bring a fabulous element to both Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby and Healthy Parents, Healthy Toddler - an element which neither Francesca nor I were ever able to tackle. Another element of the new books, their integration with an interactive casual game, was helped along by many discussions and brain-storming sessions with Mikey, (Better Baby #2)! So my writing has really come full circle ... those years of trying to write while kids were underfoot are long gone and my latest writings have been hugely enhanced by those two young men who were once underfoot. Given that the boys inspired my books, I can see there's a wonderful balance between my writing and motherhood, in ways that I could never have anticipated and in ways I'm sure this Circle of Moms interviewer never intended when she asked the question!

Where do you find writing inspiration?

From my passion. For 30 years that passion has involved promotion of preconception care, normal birth and nurturing breastfeeding and parenting practices. There are multiple dietary, lifestyle, environmental and mental and emotional issues that promote the unfolding of the whole reproductive cycle as it should. Sadly the fallout from compromised reproduction, which ranges from infertility, to the epidemic of C-sections, to difficulties with breastfeeding, to children on the MINDD spectrum (MINDD = metabolic, immune, neurological, digestive disorders), I see all around me around me every day, so I’m inspired to write something most days.