Guest Post ~ Kendra Smith takes over A Page of Love

Today the lovely Kendra Smith, author of Jacaranda Wife is taking over A Page of Love - because authors love doing that here and I love having them, don't you?

So I will put down the pen on A Page of Love, and pass it over to Kendra who I'm sure you will have many laugh out loud moments with, so grab a cup of tea and get cosy, just don't spill it over yourself when you laugh - because you will laugh.

Hello Dawn and thanks SO much for letting me have a guest spot! A bit about me? OK, then, well, I currently live in Surrey with my husband and three very untidy boys.

But I didn’t always live in Surrey. I used to live in Australia (where my novel is set) and after quite a few attempts to be something of a domestic goddess – OK, scratch that, after a few attempts to just try and have a tidy house, clean clothes for the kids and know how to make a chicken casserole in searing heat, I gave it up for tapping away at the computer and would just step over piles of laundry and sometimes forget to collect the children.

I’m a journalist by profession and used to working with people and words. I realised that if I couldn’t have the people (my office colleagues), then let me have the words. My book actually started as something for ‘me’ – a diary, a memoir of thoughts and feelings, but, after a while, voila! The word count screamed 30,000 at me and I thought, ‘Heck! This could be a book!’

That’s when the trouble started. If there is anyone out there dreaming of writing a book, I’d say, ‘DON’T! Run in front of a fast car right now! Once you cast that spell on yourself (‘Mmmm, hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, I think I can write a book…’), beware! You’ll start to see published debut novelists everywhere: on the TV, in magazines, at your local airport, in the queue for the toilet at the department store, and you will be a tortured mess.

Well, I was. I was also in a mess because I didn’t quite know how to go about it all. Organising your thoughts into a cohesive structure of a book comes easily to some it would appear, less so for me. Up till then I’d thought that an extremely long piece for a magazine article was 1,000 words. This time I was up against an Everest word-summit of about 100,000. So I bought every book on Amazon about how to write and read several blogs and articles online… and I also covered the entire house in post-it notes, had several pink notebooks (isn’t that what all writers have?) and slowly a book emerged.  A seedling at first, a weedy one at that, but there was definitely a book there.

In the meantime, I was also trying to cook, answer ridiculous questions in my children’s homework like, ‘if four x = 33, then what does 1 tomato equal.’ WHO CARES?  This question has never, ever come up on any form I have filled in.

I was lucky enough to secure an agent (from the UK) the first time round – the Aussie agents felt the book was for a British market.  It did involve staying up to midnight and beyond on many nights as I made calls to the UK in a different time zone. She loved my writing, loved the book. Finding a publisher, however, proved harder.

By this time, we were planning on returning to the UK, so the book took a backseat. Re-planting a whole family back to the UK after five years abroad takes supreme effort, so my writing brain was engaged elsewhere for a while. But still ‘the book’ would tap me on the shoulder at night and demand to know what was going on.

Agent #1 and I had a great relationship and she did suggest some changes. I did them; but then there was the tiny problem of an economic crisis. Publishers tightened their belts - when you’re in the business of selling anything and a recession is on, you’re going to go for the sure thing. Debut authors were too risky.

After a while, my agent and I parted company on very good terms. Both of us decided that I needed another steer. I then used the services of the wonderfully helpful The Writers’ Workshop to find a mentor/book doctor, who gave me a – let me remember – 17 page analysis of my book, warts and all. There were 17 pages of how to improve my writing. But, the one shining light was that she did say, ‘You can clearly write.’ Thank goodness for that.

The rollercoaster ride began: I would send out my partial and then each time there was a ping on my phone, I would leap up, forgetting sometimes that I was, say, lying on a hospital bed at the gynaecologists, and check my phone. I had several agents ask for the full manuscript, and each time my heart soared. One agent asked for the full book after three hours. It was a high-adrenalin ride. Would this be the one?

Ultimately, my agent, the lovely Annette Crossland from A for Authors rang and left a voicemail saying she loved it after I had sent it to her 10 minutes before. Finally, I had someone on my side.

And to answer the next question that might be on your mind, yes, I am writing another book.  It’s not a sequel, it’s about three women who all have their lives intertwined, foibles and wobbly bits – but one of them has a massive secret, too. And the word count is flickering on a happy 20,000 at the moment – I think it just might become a book.

Thank you so much Dawn, for letting me share my thoughts!

Here’s a taste of Jacaranda Wife

When a double dip recession hits along with a tax bill, most people tighten their belts, cancel the summer holiday and look for the two-for-one offers. But not Katie Parkes. The home-loving mother of two from London finds herself tightening her seatbelt on a plane to Australia, where her husband has been sent to save their financial bacon. And, she realises, it might just be what they need to save their marriage…

Trouble is, she doesn’t much like heat, can’t swim properly, hates spiders and finds herself further outside the M25 than is strictly necessary. Then there’s the Sydney yummy mummy with a cleavage you’d lose your car keys in eyeing up her husband, bouts of homesickness – and a few deadly spiders. Taking the bull by the horns (or at least pulling on an old Speedo) she tackles her fear of the ocean first. Find out how Katie copes in her new country – does it provide the spark to ignite her marriage, or send the whole thing up in smoke…?

Sophie King, best-selling author of The School Run has kindly said:

An entertaining, fast-moving, page-turner for anyone dreaming of a new life....’

And I have had some amazing Amazon reviews like this one below, which have made the wait very worthwhile.

Wow! A cracking read, a page turner! I've been thoroughly anti-social on holiday, buried in the book and the last few pages I romped through to find out..!
Well done Kendra Smith!”


Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space in the late 80s. She has lived and worked in London and Sydney, working on Cosmopolitan, OK! Magazine and the BBC’s Eve as well as freelance for Woman & Home, Delicious, New Woman, Prima Baby and Junior. Born in sunny Singapore, she was educated in sub-zero Scotland, including Aberdeen University. She has lived in Australia three times. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.  Jacaranda Wife is her first novel and she is well underway with her second when she’s not burning food. Find her on and or follow her on Twitter  @KendraAuthor. 

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