top of page
  • Holly Brunnbauer

The Wrap-Up: September 2023

Hello, lovely!

Geek out about all things reading & writing?

Let's go behind the scenes of life as a stay-at-home writer.

Scroll down for:

Want The Wrap-Up delivered to your inbox every month? Subscribe here.

The Wrap-Up: September | Holly - Stay-at-home writer


Last month, my manuscript (THE SEXY BUCKET LIST) was shortlisted for the Queensland Writers Centre's Publishable Program. As I result, I received an incredible prize which included mentoring with an industry professional.

I was paired with Lori-Jay Ellis (CEO of Queensland Writers Centre). Not only is she a marketing powerhouse (super handy for pitch prep), but she's also a fan and writer of romance. Tick, tick, BOOM.

What does a writing mentorship entail exactly?

I can only speak to this experience, but it starts with having a focus. In this instance, we worked on getting my manuscript ready to be eyeballed by publishers. We also spent time preparing my pitch for an agent/publisher that I'll be matched with later in the year. Another prize perk!

Psst ... I'm not freaking out, you're freaking out.

One of many things I loved about Lori-Jay's approach was that she never told me I "should" do this or I "should" change that. Instead, she was particularly skilled in empowering me to make decisions about the direction of my story. Much appreciated, LJ.

When wearing her marketing hat, my mentor was able to pull me out of my shell to help my pitch sing. You see, I feel super wanky pimping myself and frankly, I blame humble Aussie culture and our fear of Tall Poppy Syndrome. But, this isn't the time to be modest. I've got to parade around like I'm Kendall-fricken-Jenner on a runway in Milan.

The mentorship is now over and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't devasted. I liked the metaphorical hand-holding. If there are any authors out there who'd like to adopt me, please get in touch. I promise not to be needy.


As if I couldn't love the ladies from Golden May anymore, they go and drop a podcast episode where they answer my listener question. Day made.

So, what did I ask? I'll get to that in a sec.

I want to provide context about why I asked this question. It actually came after I found out I had been shortlisted for an award. You'd think I'd be on cloud nine, right? Wrong! It scared the bejebus out of me. Especially the idea of pitching and potentially bombing. The fear is real, y'all.

Here's the question Emily and Rachel were kind enough to answer:

One piece of advice I hear a lot about writing or wanting to become an author is that you have to grow a thick skin. How does one actually do that? How do authors grow a thick skin when it comes to feedback, rejections, award results and reviews? I'm not even an author (yet) and I get second-hand anxiety when I read reviews about other people's books. How do these thick-skinned authors pick themselves up after a major blow?

How did they respond? Brilliantly!

Hear it for yourself:


Not Just Gal Pals - Elizabeth Luly

The Love Contract ~ STEPH VIZARD

This novel is the crème de la crème of romantic comedy.

It ticks all the boxes of what I love (and expect) of this sub-genre.

Firstly, it was actually funny. Hilarious even. Now, that should be a given in rom-coms, but many times (I'm not naming names; they know who they are), I've been sold a book under the influence of marketing hoopla that insists it's a rom-com, when in fact, it's a contemporary romance with a few chuckles. Nothing upsets me more than being deprived of multiple LOL moments. So, I was tickled pink that THE LOVE CONTRACT was able to summon snort-laughs. Thank you, Steph, you witty writer, you.

Fake dating and enemies-to-lovers tropes are so hot right now and Steph executes them perfectly. By that I mean they were believable. Two at-war neighbours come together as a temporary solution to child care shortage. It's something all parents can relate to. Plus, who doesn't love a novel that centres around an adorable baby? Psychopaths, that's who.

This novel should come with a warning your cheeks will hurt from smiling a lot while reading.

If you're in an all-the-feels reading mood, move THE LOVE CONTRACT to the top of your TBR. It's the perfect pick-me-up when the world is all doom & gloom.


Stay-at-home writer, Holly Brunnbauer, out and about in September at Pizza Hut and camping at Wye River

Two words - Pizza Hut.

If that doesn't unlock core childhood memories, I don't know what will.

Why am I bringing up that particular '90s chain restaurant? Because there's one left in Ballarat, Victoria and that's where I spent my birthday.

I'm talking all-you-can-eat, deep-pan vs. thin-crust pizza, watery pasta sauce, sloppy soft-serve ice cream, and a questionable mousse/red jelly combo with a sprinkling of choc chips.

It was so bad it was good.

Highly recommend. Nostalgia at its finest.

It's hard to top Pizza Hut, but we tried. During the school holidays, the fam bam and I went camping at Wye River. Much like Ken, all we did was "beach".

As lovely as it was, I for one am happy the kids are back at school/kinder. Routine is my love language.


Want to really get to know me? Meet me in memes on Instagram.


bottom of page