Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane has a way with words.
Not only is she able to weave them into powerful stories, but she also values their meaning and the raw emotion they can evoke.
When you speak with Roxanne she stops and listens, acknowledging and considering each word carefully before responding – always with kindness, clarity and understanding.
In a world of chaos, she brings the calm and her genuine smile has the ability to light up any room.
Roxanne is walking, talking proof that it is possible to be kind and still be a business powerhouse.
This mother-of-two is a rising star on the Sunshine Coast’s business scene and a celebrated community member who has steadily gained her following through years of dedication and hard work.
She is an award-winning ghostwriter, mum to two beautiful children, a mentor, an ambassador for Sunshine Coast child abuse advocacy group No More Fake Smiles, and now a published author.
In 2018 while employed as a journalist she launched the Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane Writer ghostwriting and mentoring business, working through the nights to establish the business. In late 2019 Roxanne took a leap of faith and resigned from her day job to take her venture full-time. She has since written dozens of books for people from all walks of life, helping to shape their words into inspiring prose.
In August, her career came full circle following the publication of her own book, The Mindful Author.
The non-fiction title is the first in Roxanne’s Ignite & Write trilogy, which is designed to step aspiring authors through the writing and publishing process.
“After years of ghostwriting some of the most impactful books I have read, I realised that there are thousands of people desperate to share their knowledge and experience through the written word. They are stuck without a roadmap to layout the pathway,” she says.
“The Mindful Author takes readers by the hand and guides them through the process… and over those mindset hurdles.”
Establishing a positive mindset and positive self-talk was a hurdle for Roxanne herself, and she credits her children as her biggest teachers and motivators.
“I came into parenthood thinking I’d rule the roost,” she laughs. “My kids have taught me so much. This has allowed me to relax and open up and learn lessons from them every day. For example, my eldest Lilly is such an unapologetically confident kid. She embraces that and doesn’t feel like she has to turn her light down.
“I know that they too take my mentoring and wellbeing lessons on board. I know because of the stuff that comes out of their mouths.
“We had a funny situation recently where my husband Chris was walking down the hallway with our daughter Lilly clinging to his leg. He said jokingly, ‘I’ve got a growth’, and our son Lincoln calls out, ‘Don’t you mean a growth mindset?’ They are real sponges and it’s incredible to see.”
The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
Lilly, 10, is a creative who Roxanne describes as the “heart of the family”. “She has taught me one of the biggest lessons in how to tap into your emotions and to be okay with how you’re experiencing something, to be okay with what you are thinking and feeling. She is such an empathetic little sweetheart. She feels emotion in her body.”
Then there is nine-year-old Lincoln who in August became one of Australia’s youngest published authors with the release of Sprout’s Idea.
The colourful children’s book follows the story of a young seedling who inspires much older forest trees to work together to overcome a veil of negativity that plagues their home because of Shade Man, the story’s villain.
And it’s good. So good in fact that it gained national attention with celebrated Australian writer and author of the much-loved children’s Treehouse books Andy Griffiths endorsing the title.
“It really is unique,” Roxanne says. “We really started to see Lincoln stepping into his storytelling through his music. He started learning the guitar at seven and he would actually write his own lyrics. The messages coming through in those lyrics were amazing… how peace was always better than war, about being friends. A really strong message of unity and connectedness.
“From a mother’s perspective, I’ve always felt that he had an old soul. He’s just always been a really deep thinker.
“I’m pleased to see our kids be comfortable in who they are, to be able to stand up and own themselves, warts and all. They’ve taught me how to do that for myself.
“I was very comfortable hiding behind my notepad and computer screen for a very long time. I realised that if I’m encouraging other people to be brave and stand up and share their stories, then I had to do the same thing. Taking the time to be comfortable in myself and my story allowed me to reach a place where I can help encourage others.”
Roxanne says everyone has a tale to tell. Some of us just need a little help with unearthing that story.
“I ‘published’ my first book when I was in my final year of primary school. It was aptly called School Journal Part 4 Number 2 and had a strong ocean theme, with short stories, articles and poetry about sea life,” she laughs.
“It featured a cardboard cover that held stapled paper pages and this was the first and only time I have ever accompanied my words with illustrations. An avid bookworm beforehand, this project earned me an A++ and provided the initial spark for a future career in journalism.”
Roxanne began her career as a fresh-faced newspaper cadet in the mid-2000s. She had just returned from 18 months abroad including a year in the Canadian snow village of Banff where she worked at a local ski resort, alongside her now-husband, Chris.
Having completed her university studies prior to travelling, upon returning to the Sunshine Coast she hit the ground running scoring a coveted gig as a journalist.
“At high school I was adamant I was going into the Australian Defence Force,” Roxanne admits.
“That is what I was gunning for in my upper high school years. Then I failed a medical test. I was asthmatic… I had the grades, the physical fitness. I was running every day. I hated studying chemistry, but I was doing extra classes after school. I just really wanted to get in.
“It was devastating when I failed because of that one thing that I couldn’t fix. I always enjoyed reading and telling stories so when someone suggested journalism. I thought, ‘I could do that’.”
Never one to take no for an answer, Roxanne visited a local newsroom every single week asking the managing editor over and over again if there was any possibility of securing a job. Perseverance pays off.
“I realised it was incredible being able to connect with people and get paid for it,” she says, reflecting on her former career. “My focus was in community-based journalism and this meant I could build some great relationships with the community as a whole.
“Through that community connection I realised how important each person’s role is in the community. Everyone has a speciality, a special personality trait that helps to build the bigger picture. A community is built on everyone’s individual stories.”