An interview with Jennifer Peacock-Smith

Today on ARCBookblog we Jennifer Peacock-Smith, the latest in the series of interviews I have been running. Before we get to the interview, here is Jennifer’s bio from Amazon.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 3.53.04 PM.pngJennifer Peacock-Smith is an emerging memoirist who writes on her experiences, struggles and triumphs through a difficult but colorful life so far. She shares her time between her homelands of South Africa and Australia when she is not traveling with her husband in all corners of the globe.

Despite a painful and crippling genetic condition she is very active in the writing community. She writes for a number of blogs as well as the world wide publication The Mighty, on Chronic Illness and other topics.

And now it’s time for a few questions so we can get to know Jennifer a little better

Me – Is writing a full-time occupation, or do you have a job that keeps you from it?

Jennifer – I am very spoiled to be able to write full time. I still have things to do, life is so bad at getting in the way, especially when I don’t want it to, but I do get to write on average 3-5 days a week.

Me – What aspect of publishing do you find the easiest?

Jennifer – Oh this is an interesting question. I don’t think that any of it is easy. The biggest thing to get in the way of my writing is publishing and promoting. If anything is easy then it is some of the relationships that I have built along the way. Being in a community of readers, writers (or both) make what could very well be a very lonely process, way more inspiring, encouraging, and enriching. I have to be careful that I don’t put my publishing community before real people sometimes!

Me – What do you find the most difficult?

Jennifer – Advertising myself and my book is awful. Thankfully the response has been wonderful and it is selling itself, but I am not used to self promotion and it feels somehow wrong.

Me – What is your perfect writing environment.

Jennifer – I have to spend much of my life in bed due to health limitations, but I have learnt to make myself quite comfortable despite the pain and I have a little four legged companion who wags her tail madly when it is a writing day. So my bed, my baby and complete silence are the perfect environment for me. I travel a lot with my husband’s work so often those beds are in hotel rooms around the world. Those always make great writing environments as well.

Me – Do you have a process you follow when writing a book?

Jennifer – I would have said no, but in fact it turns out that I think I do. I am a memoirist so I don’t have to think hard to come up with material. I just write and it flows (when it does. When it doesn’t then there is no point in me writing and I give it a break). But when I am on a roll I just write, write and write some more. I get the first draft done in a very short period of time. I like it to be raw and real and to let the words fly. Then I have the tedious task of thinking about it and unpacking it. I am dyslexic and autocorrect hates me, so editing is awful for me!

Me – Would you rather be critically successful or financially successful?

Jennifer – The former for sure. Not because I am generous or kind, but because I have had my voice squashed for so long that my primary reason for writing is to get my voice out there and help others who are struggling with similar issues. But of course the money doesn’t hurt either 🙂

Me – If you could pick 1 celebrity to read your book and give an opinion on it, who would it be?

Jennifer – Oh wow, I am not big on celebrities. But Mary Karr is a well known memoirist who is also a Poet. She is my memoir hero in many ways, although I am yet to read any of her book I’m ashamed to say. But I would love her to read (and love) my books!

Me – Do you find it easy to avoid being distracted when you sit down to write?

Jennifer – It depends on what I am doing. When I am on the first draft and I am on a roll, nothing can stop me. But when I am editing then anything can distract me and usually does.

Me – If you have published already, what has been the most successful technique/site/opportunity for you in terms of getting either exposure or sales?

Jennifer – I published my first book in January, and it has done well so far. Of course I still have a long way to go. The book is on my journey with Anxiety and how I beat it. It is a very practical book and is a so easy to read. So people from all kinds of places and backgrounds are reading it. Life Line have shown an interest and have asked me to share my techniques with some of the counsellors. So that is turning out to be one of my successful techniques. I also blog (a lot) so that is a great way to get word out there as well.

Me – Last but not least, and something a little fun, what is your favourite animal, and why?

Jennifer – I was born in South Africa and elephants have always been my favorite animal. I can never get enough of them and my absolutely favorite place to write, which I have the privilege of doing from time to time, is from a big white hotel bed, with wild elephants out the window. 
Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 12.40.54 PM.png

Where I hang out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

Anti-social vs social media.

I was going to title this post Autism vs Social Media, but that seems unfair to the people who are anti or unsocial but don’t have autism or mental health problems as a reason (some people simply prefer to avoid people).

I have encountered a number of discussions on Goodreads recently about the need for and the usefulness of Facebook author pages and other social media, and every time I am left with the same set of conflicted feelings. On the one hand, I know that social media can be a very powerful tool in this globally connected age for enabling a writer to find readers, build a fanbase, connect with fans, etc; on the other, this only works if you are able to use social media effectively.

If, like me, you have difficulty dealing with people on any level (in my case the reason for that is I have autism and a number of other mental health problems, but people have many reasons for this problem) then social media can be a real struggle; unfortunately this means that no matter how good your book is, and I’m not about to claim a Dickens level of writing ability here, but I do believe I am above average as an author, it will be difficult to get people to discover the books you release.

There are sites that will provide authors with a quick boost of promotion, but long-term success will only come as a result of good quality, consistent use of social media. What the solution is, I don’t know, but if anyone out there can come up with a suggestion for how I can market my books effectively, and long-term, without spending a fortune, and without burning myself out trying and failing with social media, I’d love to hear from you.

A preview of coming attractions

Now that 2017 has started, it’s time to look ahead to what’s in store, both personally and on the writing front.

Discounting the release of my first novel, 2016 was not a very good year, I had to have a major operation early last year for a burst appendix; it was good for losing some weight but I’ve seen put all that weight back on, and things didn’t improve after that. I intend that 2017 will be a much better year.

I’m not really one for resolutions, in my opinion they’re made to be broken; I do intend doing something about my waistline, though, that’s an issue I struggle with and which can’t be ignored. I need to lose some weight, so I will be eating a little healthier (mostly that means fewer cakes and chocolates) and getting a little more exercise, especially when spring arrives.

More important than my waistline, is my writing; I am currently editing my next novel, Written In Blood, a serial killer thriller set in a small village, which I hope to release in April. At the same time I am doing that, I am typing up the first draft of book 2 in my detective series, An Eye For An Eye, which currently has a release date of September.

I hope to get it out sooner, and I think it’s possible, but one of my goals for the year is to reduce my stress and anxiety levels; to that end I am avoiding the urge to put too much pressure on myself by setting hard to attain goals.

I also plan on releasing another short story later in the year, part of a serialised vampire story I’m working on; I have two parts of the story written, and a rough idea of where it’s going from there, but I need to flesh it out and get to work on it.

Outside of releasing new titles, I want to read 15 books in the next 12 months and reach the point where each of the titles I have available for sale is being bought at the rate of at least 1 copy per day. To my mind, that’s the first step towards making a living from my books, which is my ultimate goal.

With all of that said, I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas and New Year, and you got whatever it is you wished for, and the coming months are everything you could want.

Mega stressed!


I just knew today was going to be a bad day when I had to get up early for an appointment I didn’t want to go to and found the weather overcast and rubbish. I followed that up by burning my pop-tarts and having to endure a series of very personal questions at my appointment that brought up some unpleasant childhood memories (not that I remember much of my childhood, I’ve blocked most of it out).

The result of that was that I felt an incredibly craving for sugar, so I stopped off at Tesco and bought this


I had calmed down a little by the time I got home and was thinking that I should have shown some restraint, and that my waistline will not thank me for all this rubbish I now have to eat. That reduction in my stress and generally low mood didn’t last long, however, for in the post I received a letter from the job centre, with a form to fill out explaining why they should give me the sickness benefit they’ve already said they are giving me; why I need to fill out this form when they already have a letter from my doctor explaining why I’m not fit for work, I don’t know.

Immediately my stress levels went back up, and proceeded to climb steadily higher as I went through the form and had to provide the same answer again and again to different, but basically the same, question. By the end of it I felt as though my head was going to explode and I was ready to shout at anyone or anything, including the dog, that came near me; I am also now ready to eat everything I bought in one sitting and damn my waistline.