How my books came about - part 2

This is a continuation of this story 

We set off on our first book tour just before Down to Earth was to be published on 22 February, 2012. We had no idea what to expect or if anyone would come along to meet us. There was no need to worry though because at every stop along the way so many lovely people travelled in, often bringing gifts of jams, relish, soap, dish cloths, bread, cake, kombucha and magazines to read on the journey, as well as their good wishes.

What generosity! Just some of the many gifts we received on the road.

Being interviewed by Richard Stubbs in Melbourne. I also had the good fortune to meet Jon Faine and Clare Bowditch on their radio programs too.
Feeding the chooks. I think this was Channel 7.

I'd been assigned a publicity agent who sent a seven page itinerary covering Byron Bay and Sydney, then on to Wollongong, Canberra, country Victoria, Melbourne, the goldfields and up through regional NSW.  Penguin put us up in the fabulous Olsen Hotel in Melbourne, where we slept in the most comfy bed ever, but we still made our sandwiches everyday for lunch on the road. It was a wild ride and something I'll never forget. 









This was at Kogarah, a Sydney suburb, on the Simple Home tour. I think this was my favourite talk because of the diverse mix of people who came along.


The Simple Life was published on 26 March, 2014. It was supposed to be the first of a group of small paperbacks in the Penguin Specials series - "Penguin Specials are small books filled with big ideas." The Simple Life sold out on the first day, much to my surprise. Straight away there were talks about changing the idea about publishing a series of books. I didn't like the new idea, which is the reason there's only one little blue book.


I continued talks with Penguin over the next few months, they wanted me to continue writing but I didn't feel comfortable with any of their ideas, or any of my own.  But then I thought about what I wanted to include in Down to Earth but didn't have room for. I proposed a book, set out with specific tasks to be carried out according to the season in a month-by-month framework.  They liked the idea so I set to work in March 2015 writing The Simple Home. There were two deadline dates, one was late 2015 and one was late 2016. I was determined to finish on the earlier date and set a writing schedule where I was writing seven days a week, usually nine hours a day.  And we made it!  The Simple Home was published 28 February 2016.




My hope for all my books was to show two ordinary people living an extraordinary simple life and to encourage others to do something similar.  I tried to peel back the lie that modern life is an easy way to live because, most of the time, people are living with debt and the stress that comes with it. The books were there to encourage people to think about lifestyle alternatives that suited them and what they hoped to achieve.


The book tour for The Simple Home took us through regional New South Wales and Victoria again and to Tasmania as well. My sister Tricia joined us in Hobart for the rest of the tour. All along the way we met so many gorgeous people who came along to meet us and learn about how they could apply what we were doing to their own life situation. On that tour I thought back to the apprehensions I had about no one coming to the talks and realised that the books had really connected with a lot of people who had established, or were working on, their own version of this simple life.







Over the years I was honoured with several awards and wrote monthly columns for The Australian Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard, as well as feature articles in many magazines.  That in turn allowed me to do some one-on-one mentoring and teach workshops on writing for publication and blogging. I've really enjoyed sharing what I know with many of those who enrolled in those courses and I'll continue on with them in the coming months. If you're interested in either of these workshops, drop me a line and I'll send you some information later in the year.


Overall, the main prize for me was connecting with thousands of people, meeting many of them face to face, who understood the need for this lifestyle and its significance. Thank you. Writing my books and then promoting them on book tours, gave me a lot of satisfaction but it was hard work that I'm not sure I could have done alone. Having the support of my family, and Hanno there with me, made all the difference. And, of course, at the end of it all we returned to our home, closed the gate and allowed fresh air, gardening, housework and our basic lifestyle to help us recover and carry on.

26 comments

  1. Hi Rhonda, I remember fondly meeting you in Blackheath. Tricia was there too. It was wonderful, and I think regularly about this day. I don't really believe in things happening in life for a reason (I think it's a bit more complicated than that :-)), but I found your blog, and all your teaching, at a time when I was in need of it and ready to absorbe all of it. I will never go back to a consumerist way of life (I probably will never earn enough money to do it anyway :-)), because nothing beats the satisfaction of having enough knowledge to do things by oneself. Soap, bread, cooking from scratch, conserving, mending, the list is endless. And managing a good life within one's means is priceless. So thank you Rhonda for all your teaching !
    Corinne

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    1. Hi Corinne! Of course I remember you at Blackheath. Wasn't that a fabulous weekend. All us girls and a couple of partners in that little hall with our soup and tea and each other. I remember Tricia teaching some of the girls how to crochet and me talking about debt, seeds and cleaning. I'm really pleased you were able to change your life to better suit you and your family. xx

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  2. It was an amazing and exciting time Rhonda. Wasn’t it wonderful to see the various ages of people at your book signings and talks. I often thought there was almost a semi lost generation who were not taught or did not want to learn home and life skills but having talks, blogs , books and forums on these topics has probably boosted awareness. Once people heard and learnt how simple it actually is to cook from scratch and make home cleaners etc it would have set them on their way to learn more and hopefully pass on the knowledge.
    It does put a little smile on my face to see your own The Simple Life so well read and used, there must have 100’s of eyes peering in your own copy at talks along the way!

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    1. It was an exciting time Jude and made better by seeing you along the way, and a couple of times since. Yes, my copies of my books are very well travelled and show their age. I like the look of them because they look like hard workers. :- )

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  3. wonderful posts, i never got to meet you out & about but followed along when you got to write about it on the blog, it was a wonderful journey.
    thanx for sharing

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  4. I took my father with me when you were in Brisbane. He sat on your chair and you were very nice about it. The poor man was blind, had Alzheimer's a post polio syndrome. He needed to sit and be grounded. I loved meeting you. Your work and blogs have brought great comfort to me.

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    1. I remember you and your dad, Suzan. That was in the shop in the photo above (fifth down) - the shop off the arcade, I forget the name of it, maybe Dymocks.

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  5. You are an inspiration to us all Rhonda and I hope you continue to be for years to come. You have started a quiet revolution as I call it, we don't shout from the roof tops we just quietly go about our business and are happy and content. People notice this and want in on it too. Thank you for sharing this lovely story of how your books came to be, I have really enjoyed reading.

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  6. Thank you for your hard work and making sure that your story is available here on your blog as well as your wonderful books :)

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  7. Oh Rhonda how I wish I had known about all of this at the time. But it's never too late and I have your books now and continue to learn. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your knowledge.

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  8. So lovely to hear of your journey. It sounds like an exciting time, filled with personal growth. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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  9. What an inspiring journey, Rhonda! I bought that first book and won a copy of your second one, and I treasure them both. I regularly leaf through them because, not only are they full of wise words and beautiful photographs, but I find a reassurance in them that it is possible to live a simpler life taking it one step at a time. Meg:)

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  10. Good morning Rhonda and Hanno, lovely post! Lovely memories in the pictures. Rhonda you haven't aged at all. A cool weekend ahead of some hopefully nicer spring weather next week! Planning some gardening and catching up with baking and stitching.Our tomato plants are starting to take off mmm! Can't wait for summer veges.

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  11. Loved hearing about your 2nd book tour again. I didn't realize or had forgotten about your Australian of the Year Awards...so wonderful. Just to let you know your 2nd book we make the flat bread recipe all the time in our house when we do wraps for dinner - so easy and so tasty. I used to buy the supermarket street tacos but now we make our own so much nicer.

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  12. Love, love ALL the books! The Simple Home is a great template for organising the year. Living in sub-tropical Queensland where we don’t have 4 seasons, your book helps demarcate the months into meaningful periods of time. Thanks Rhonda. 😊

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  13. Loved reading your journey. Your blog is such a treasure trove, no matter which post I open there is always something so valuable to read, do, or think about. I could spend hours meandering the pages, and given how windy it is, I might just do that!

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  14. I just love my copies of your books Rhonda & still refer back to them for so many things. I have also bought copies for both my daughter in laws & one of them uses hers almost every day she tells me. This is the greatest compliment & it makes me feel so good about the gift. Thank You for all that you have shared with us all over the years.

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  15. It's marvelous that your books are still doing well Rhonda. I truely hope they continue to sell strongly.
    Another person here commented that there was a lost generation who didn't learn about or want to know the skills of house, home and garden.
    However its very different now with these skills becoming ever so trendy again!
    Al la hipsters et al.
    What's old is new again.
    I smirk to myself whenever I read or hear someone talk about discovering some skill like they invented it for the first time. :D
    Any way people absorb or learn these skills is a good way and thing to do with their time, I say.

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  16. Rhonda, that was such a busy time for you when touring and I remember the concern about Hanno's health when you were in Tassie. Our Simple Living Toowoomba group has been going seven years now after starting up after your first visit to our library. The time just seems to fly these days. I hope you got some rain in today's storms. We only got 4mm but a friend in Oakey got an inch of rain.

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    1. Hi Chel, yes, seven years and still going strong. I saw that you've taken over from Margy, good luck with it. We planned on coming over for a meeting during winter but never got to the point of actually going. Maybe next winter.
      We had a very bad time with the drought and had two empty tanks for the first time in 22 years. But since the tanks filled about a month ago, we've had good rain. Friday night we had 10mm (in the new rain gauge) and just over 20mm last night. I know it won't last so I'm enjoying it for what it is.

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  17. That's wonderful. I so appreciate all of your hard work. Your blog came into my life at the perfect time. I just kept living this way, and everything fell into place for my retirement. I am just thrilled. It's amazing how if you just start, the energy created takes you to a bright and fulfilling future.

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  18. I have been following your blog for many years, and I am so very grateful that you continue to share! We are living our version of a Simple Life and will do more as we are able. Blessings, Dianna

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  19. Enjoyed reading this...as I have over the years since I discovered your blog!! Glad things worked out well for you and the books!! I have them on order (finally)...perhaps waiting in PO even now today!! Best wishes for many more good years!!

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    1. I hope you enjoy them, Elizabeth. Let me know when you finish reading.

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  20. Great trip down memory lane, Rhonda. I continue to follow your monthly chapters in "Simple Home", as I have done ever since buying the book back when it first came out. Each month, is like a new read. As you progress through life, your outlook changes, and I always, always, always pick up something new. eg today I am going to make junket - I know, it was in September, but you cant rush these things!!;)So lovely that you are still happy to blog from time to time, and that you are keeping well. Thank you so much. Gail

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    1. Hi Gail, I'm so pleased you enjoy The Simple Home and that you're making junket. Junket is one of my favourite desserts. I think it's because my mother used to make it for us when we were sick. It's such a soft and simple thing. I hope you enjoy yours.

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