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1. Inside Story – Melbourne

Inside Story Melbourne 2014 logo

What a joy it is to be a part of the children’s writing community and attend such wonderful events as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Inside Story!

Inside Story Melbourne

Kim Fleming Inside Story MelbourneSaturday (1st Nov) saw eleven authors and author/illustrators gather at Readings Bookshop – Hawthorn to share insights into the creation and genesis behind their books and book app. It proved a fascinating afternoon where I learnt many things, not least from author/illustrator Renée Treml who explained how (common) wombats have square poo. Why? So it won’t roll away, of course.

Goldie Alexander Inside Story MelbourneCorinne Fenton Inside Story Melbourne

Speakers shared how stories came about serendipitously, through a 2-year-old asking the not so simple question “How far is up?”, through lived personal experiences, a sibling suggesting “Frankie Dupont would make a great name for a detective” and an adolescent obsession for Choose your own adventure stories that sparked a series, giving the author “an excuse to relive his childhood”.

I was delighted to be asked to assist in drawing the door prize, especially hearing the very excited squeal of the owner of ticket A37 who won the fantastic SodaStream prize.



 

 

 

Betty Sargeant Inside Story Melbourne

Special thanks to the Inside Story committee Jo Burnell, Victoria Thieberger and Laura Wilson for hosting and organising such a wonderful event. Thank you also to all the very talented authors and illustrators of Inside Story – Melbourne 2014 for sharing, presenting and for their generous donations to the book door prize (in order of appearance) Kim Fleming, Renée Treml, Betty Sargeant, Jackie Hosking, Corinne Fenton, Victoria Thieberger, Alison Reynbolds, Kayleen West, Julie Grasso, George Ivanoff, Pauline Luke and Goldie Alexander.

Inside Story Authors and Illustrators Melbourne 2014SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand logo

4 Comments on Inside Story – Melbourne, last added: 11/2/2014
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2. Story vs Character – Snap Magic Angela Sunde

ASunde.1d.WEBWelcome and warmest congratulations to my lovely and very talented writer friend, Angela Sunde, on publication of her latest book Snap Magic, another exciting Lily Padd adventure. Angela is visiting From Hook to Book today both to celebrate the launch of Snap Magic and to answer one of my favourite questions of writers – Story or Character – name your bliss, please, Angela?!

Hi there, Chris. Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I’m very excited to be discussing ‘story versus character’ with you, as both plot and characterisation compete for attention in Snap Magic.

Lily Padd is a gorgeous character, Angela, and the kind of girl many teens would want as their best friend. Lily’s story is fun and humorous woven into a plotline full of secrets, bullies and twists – not to mention pumpkin soup. As a fellow writer, I’m keen to know whether you write from character or plot?

I always begin with a character and a problem. In my Aussie Chomp, Pond Magic, Lily couldn’t stop burping. In this new book, Snap Magic, Lily has a problem (amongst others) that is out of her control – long black hairs keep sprouting from her chin. From there I immediately leap into plot, mind mapping various scenarios and reasons behind Lily’s sudden facial hair with possible solutions – the crazier the scenario the better. This is why I enjoy placing the element of magic in my books; it makes anything possible within a believable world. Once I have a skeleton plot on paper, the focus on character jumps back in. How Lily, her best friend Maureen, classmates and family react and behave in each scene becomes the thrust that pushes the story forward.

SM.cover.119KB copyWas it the story idea or the character of Lily that led you to write a sequel to Pond Magic?

An interesting question. I think it was the character of Lily. She is such a strong, and (as my editor says) ‘sparky’ character who simply did not go away. Her timid avoidance responses to difficult situations in the beginning of Snap Magic evokes empathy from the tween reader and makes Lily very relatable. But the worse things become for her, the stronger Lily’s will to get to the bottom of things. Her character develops resilience through the story; she still braves the Halloween Dance in spite of the mean girl Ellen’s threats.

Is character or plot the biggest driver of Lily’s story in Snap Magic?

Plot and character sit side by side in Snap Magic. Each takes a turn to drive the story. Characters like the witch, Mrs Swan; the teacher, Mr C; and Lily’ s parents, who constantly embarrass her with their habit of pushing pumpkin soup and Snap ‘n’ Snack plastic ware onto all and sundry, add to the colour and fabric of the plot. Without them it wouldn’t work.

How do you most connect with Lily? Do you and she have any similarities or shared experiences?

I knew you’d ask me this! Am I Lily? Just a bit. I write from a twelve-year-old’s perspective. It seems to be where my narrative voice is most comfortable. Walking along with my back to the wall as a mid grader? Yes, that was me. Waiting till Mum was in the toilet to tell her stuff? Yup, me. I remember the discomfort and embarrassment of being twelve and the changes I was going through. And it seems I’m not the only one.

It’s a big undertaking to self-publish a book. When and/or how did you know that Lily was up for another adventure? And what excited you to go on the journey with her?

I had a team of high-level, industry professionals work on the book with me through a grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund, which validated it’s worth as a project. My editor for Snap Magic is my former senior editor at Penguin Australia (Pond Magic). My book designer is a highly experienced industry designer. I am the author and illustrator.

Snap Magic, as a unpublished manuscript, had received very positive feedback from my Penguin editor, when she advised me the Aussie Chomps list was closed. Snap Magic was also long-listed for the UK Greenhouse Funny Prize with a full manuscript request. Other trade publishers wished it were longer, but its Aussie Chomps length meant it did not find a home. What’s more, I wanted Snap Magic to be a sister book to Pond Magic with the same editor and no name changes. The only way to achieve that was to create my own publishing imprint, Red Pedal Press, and employ my own team of professionals.

Plus both my editor and I loved the story as it was.

SM.Signature.Promo.750x250Consequences are a big part of this story. Do you see consequences as a natural progression of the plot points or more connected to character motivations?

Thanks for asking this. We mulled it over quite a bit during the editing process. With two class bullies (one overt and one covert) consequences were a very important aspect of the plot. My editor and I didn’t want readers to feel the bullies had not had to deal with any consequences for their actions. My long experience as a teacher of this age group gave me insight and knowledge, but I also double-checked everything on government websites. For the bullies, the consequences are a natural and real result of their characters’ actions and motivations. The magical consequences of Mrs Swan’s solution are an integral part of the plot too and add to the humour and final hilarious climax.

Lastly, we all really want to know – are there further adventures on the horizon for Lily and her friends?

It’s ever so tempting to pop out another Aussie Chomp length novel about Lily Padd. Twelve thousand words seems to be the perfect length to integrate enough drama, hilarity and plot twists into my characters’ lives. Can I do it? Yes, the formula is in my magic recipe book. And with Snap Magic also being available as e-book, it has opened new avenues and platforms for me to reach my readers. So why not?

Thanks for having me on the blog, Chris. I loved chatting to you.

Thank you so much for stopping by From Hook to Book, Angela, and sharing both your and Lily’s journeys and how writing from character and plot influences a writer’s story. Best wishes for the rest of your blog tour and more magical adventures.

About the Author: 

ASunde.1d.WEBAngela Sunde is the author of the light-hearted fantasy novels Snap Magic, and Pond Magic (an Aussie Chomp – Penguin Australia.) Awarded a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship in 2013, Angela represents the Gold Coast as a committee member of the Queensland branch of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is the editor of the Redlands City Council’s ‘Junior Redlitzer Anthology 2014.’ Formerly an award-winning language and literacy teacher, she is also a children’s writing judge and offers workshops at libraries and schools. www.angelasunde.com

snap-cover-e.signatureJoin Angela and Lily Padd on their tour of the blogosphere:

Monday 13 October Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com

Tuesday 14 October Sheryl Gwyther http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com

Wednesday 15 October Robyn Opie http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com.au

Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com

Thursday 16 October Alison Reynolds http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

Friday 17 October Chris Bell – From Hook to Book http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

Saturday 18 October Boomerang Books Blog http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Dimity Powell http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

Sunday 18 October Sandy Fussell / The Reading Stack http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com.au  http://thereadingstack.blogspot.com.au

Monday 20 October Aussiereviews http://aussiereviews.com

Tuesday 21 October Dee White http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

Wednesday 22 October Angela Sunde’s Blog Tour Wrap Up http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au

 

 

8 Comments on Story vs Character – Snap Magic Angela Sunde, last added: 10/20/2014
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3. SCBWI Australia NZ Conference 2014

What a crazy, busy few weeks, but I can’t let them pass without mention of attending the fantastic SCBWI Australia NZ Conference in Sydney July 13-15th.

SCBWI VicSome of the wonderful crew from SCBWI Vic (Photograph courtesy Dimity Powell)

 What an amazing gathering of creators, publishers and industry professionals all communing and exchanging ideas, knowledge and inspiration. All brought together by our amazing SCBWI Regional Advisor and leader Susanne Gervay and her incredible team over three days at the gorgeous Hughenden Hotel in a packed program of publisher info sessions, pitches, book launches and insights into the international market.

SCBWI delegates at SCBWI 2014 including moi

Despite Jetstar’s best efforts to keep me (and a couple of colleagues) from the opening day and changing my return flight (again!), insisting I leave before the close, I enjoyed a wonderful couple of days and came home recharged and inspired. Who could not be seeing the wonderful, diverse works being produced out there in the kid lit world and wanting to be part of it?

Here’s a few reflections I shared on Twitter @chrisbellwrites on gems gathered.

  • Louise Park Publisher Paddlepop Press “Don’t orphan your product – it needs you.”
  • Lisa Berryman Assoc Publisher @HarperCollinsAU “Poignancy can make a book a classic.”
  • @Zoe_Walton Publisher Children’s &YA Random House sub advice “no marketing manifesto, we have a team to do that.”
  • Bruce Whatley deletes all illust notes “illlustrator needs to find their own visual narrative.”
  •  Louise Park Publisher Paddlepop Press “If you’ve got a top product – leverage – write three more.”
  •  @Zoe_Walton Children’s & YA Publisher Random House “Never underestimate the value of food in kid’s books.”
  • “Historical fiction with a genre twist can sell.”
  • @MissConnieH Connie Hsu Commissioning Editor Roaring Brook Press “Character driven picture books still reign supreme.”
  • Karen Tayleur Five Mile Press poss rej reason “nothing special to lift it to top of pile”.

Bruce Whatley session Twitter

Lisa Berryman Children’s Publisher Harper Collins introducing the amazing Bruce Whatley

 

 

 

 

4 Comments on SCBWI Australia NZ Conference 2014, last added: 8/3/2014
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4. Standing in Elite Company

I’d never heard of a standing-up desk until I went to work in 2004 for a company run by an innovative, creative Dane. To me, at first, standing up to work seemed a very tiring idea. But, as I learned through my occasional opportunities to stand up at one or other of the two standing-desks in the office, it’s really good for your concentration, not to mention your back and posture.

Varidesk standing desk

I’d often thought of getting a purpose-built stand-up desk in my own office at home, but couldn’t justify the expense fearing that my good intentions might tire quicker than my legs.

So, YAY! to writer and Facebook friend, Tania McCartney, for heralding the Varidesk. It’s a very good idea. More a riser than an actual desk as it sits on top of your desk or shelf, but it’s really easy to put up and put down so you can stand up or sit down to work at a whim. You can even download a mini app on your computer to tell you when to stand up, sit down and even how many calories you’re burning. I don’t quite care how accurate it might be calorie counting-wise, but it’s a great reminder when I’ve been sitting awhile to stand up again.Varidesk timer  calorie counter

I’ve got to say I work best standing up to email, research and even type a blog post, but when serious prose writing I tend to need to sit down. I get so absorbed that I don’t want to strain anything, since in these early days of adjustment, I’m not quite in tune yet with the whole standing business. I just know that my back is going to thank me long term and hopefully my butt and hips too.

Hemingway stood up to writeApparently standing up to work is a growing trend, though Ernest Hemingway always wrote standing up due to a WW1 war injury. Only he stood at a typewriter balanced on a bookcase according to a 1954 interview with George Plimpton in The Paris Review. “He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.” 

I can’t boast such an exotic foot mat as Hemingway, but feel certain, that once I’m more attuned to my new desk, I should try emulating the master in some serious fiction writing and see if his inspiration rubs off.

Hemingway wasn’t alone. Well he probably was, while he was writing, but it seems that a few other well-known writers stood up to write too i.e. Lewis Carroll, Alexander Nabokov, George Sand and Virginia Woolf. So it seems I’ve joined good company.

Lots of medical studies are revealing health benefits of standing up to work too, at least part of the day, including James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. For example:

  1. Reduced Risk of Obesity
  2. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Other Metabolic Problems
  3. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
  4. Reduced Risk of Cancer
  5. Lower Long-Term Mortality Risk

(You can read more on Levine’s study: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-health-benefits-standing-desks-180950259)

Me, I’m mainly aiming to be fitter and thinner, and hopefully live a whole lot longer to write a whole lot more books!

 

 

6 Comments on Standing in Elite Company, last added: 7/2/2014
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5. It takes a village…

Chris Bell SCBWI meeting 2The thing I love about being part of SCBWI (Vic) is the support of fellow creationists who share and care and encourage each other. So standing up to speak in front of a large group of them last Saturday to share my Varuna Fellowship experience was a real pleasure, actually fun, and not at all fearful. Though I do recall that six years ago, as a relative newcomer, I was knock-knee terrified when I stood up in front of a similar group of SCBWI fellows to share my writing journey to that date.

scbwilogoI’m sure that becoming more confident in my writing, and more a part of the SCBWI community over the years since, (including more recently as assistant to SCBWI Vic ARA, Caz Goodwin) helped any likely nerves immensely, not to mention seeing so many familiar faces, and lots of new ones too, in the audience.

Having such a wonderful subject as Varuna meant I had plenty of fuel to speak of, but I always think the best industry talks are those where the audience come away with some little insight or new aspect to explore for themselves beyond the speaker’s experience.

I was fortunate at Varuna to have a chance to chat with CEO Jansis O’Hanlon, who generously shared her insights into the application process and criteria and, from some of the keen scribbling during my talk, I was happy to see that some of Saturday’s meeting’s attendees seemed to find her nuggets the same gold I did.

Sherryl Clark - SCBWI Member SpeakerMy fellow speakers made the day too: Prolific, award winning author Sherryl Clark speaking about her hybrid/self publishing experience producing an Australian version of her (U.S. published) YA novel Dying to tell me, a fast-paced mystery now on my TO READ pile. And the very delightful Susannah Chambers, Commissioning Editor for Children’s Books, from Allen and Unwin sharing her insights into the U.S. YA publishing scene, research gleaned through her recent Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship.Susannah Chambers - Allen & Unwin

A great afternoon in every way, organised by our lovely ARA Caz Goodwin, topped off by wonderful social chit chat time, aka afternoon tea, and the chance to catch up with both some old and new faces.

Maybe it takes a village to raise a writer too!

10 Comments on It takes a village…, last added: 6/19/2014
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6. Writer Envy for Burial Rites *****

Burial-Rites3What’s not to envy when a bestselling debut novel, published in 2013, is printed six times in that same year (as it says on my bookshelf copy). Wow!

I’ve just finished reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and it’s easy to see what all the hype has been about. Kent’s beautifully written, empathetic novel of the last woman executed in Iceland in 1830 is an enviable telling. Based on the true story of convicted murderess Agnes Magnúsdóttir, it re-imagines the last six months of Agnes’s life, housed with an official’s reluctant host family, awaiting her execution.

The early manuscript won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award; the prize included a mentorship with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks (March, Year of Wonders, Caleb’s Crossing). A bidding war followed the book’s completion and secured an international two-book deal for Kent worth more than $1 million. (More writer reasons to envy!)

Kent first heard Magnúsdóttir’s story as a 17-year-old Australian exchange student to Iceland. The initial six-months of her stay were extremely lonely and isolating in a semi-dark, freezing, small community, without a common language, and it is easy to imagine how she would’ve connected with and become haunted by Magnúsdóttir’s story.

Kent’s powerful rendering of weather in the novel had this reader shivering and imagining herself huddled inside the icy Jónsson badstofa along with the family. The seasonal shearing, slaughter and harvest beautifully dramatised the rhythm of the changing seasons and passing of time, creating a palpable tension that it was not the animals alone running out of time.

Autumn has been pushed aside by a wind driving flurries of snow up against the croft, and the air as thin as paper.

Magnúsdóttir’s specific part in the murder was not revealed in the trial accounts or records, leading Kent to re-imagine Agnes’s part in the crime. Kent has said that where research couldn’t uncover certain facts or sources were contradictory, she had to work out what would be the most logical, or likely situation and in doing so she had to walk an “ethical tightrope”.

The portrayal of Agnes’s part in the crime was the one aspect of the novel that troubled this reader. Without giving away any spoilers, my initial response jolted me out of the narrative. However, upon consideration, it was probably the one explanation that could have worked plausibly for the Agnes character Kent created.

There could be no happy ending to what is an undeniably grim tale with a pre-determined fact based conclusion, still I found Kent’s quiet and sympathetic rendering of the ending emotionally satisfying despite the harsh finality.

It was somehow reassuring for me to read too, while researching this post, that Kent’s mentor, Geraldine Brooks, encouraged her to ‘let a bit more light in’, particularly to what Kent says was originally an even grimmer ending, since I tend to lock out the light a bit in my own novels.

Most of us can only dream of the type of success that greeted Kent’s first novel. But, according to interviews, Kent too suffered self-doubt during the writing. She really set out to gain a qualification and didn’t think the novel good enough to be published. She entered a competition and there you go… A fantastic result and book, Hannah Kent, and a wonderful inspiration to all emerging writers coming along the path behind.

 

Burial Rites Hannah Kent

WINNER OF THE FAW CHRISTINA STEAD AWARD 2013

WINNER OF THE 2014 INDIE AWARDS DEBUT FICTION OF THE YEAR

WINNER OF THE VICTORIAN PREMIER’S LITERARY AWARD PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD 2014

9 Comments on Writer Envy for Burial Rites *****, last added: 5/22/2014
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7. Young Writer Opportunities

Prize Winner - image by www.lumaxart.comThis is a fantastic time of year for young writers with some great comps and exciting opportunities on offer. Click here to check out the details of the many open right now, including The Future Leaders Writing Prize; the Patrick White Indigenous Young Writers Award; the National Young Writers Festival happening in October among multiple others.

All fabulous opportunities to get your writing in front of judges, publishers and selection panels and there’s some not insignificant cash prizes going.

So get those stories and poems in fast for those comps closing soon.

Some tips for success:

  • Follow submission guidelines (exactly)
  • Redraft, redraft, redraft
  • Read your work aloud to pick up jars and jolts and to check for rhythm
  • Vary your sentence structure
  • Be strenuous at spell-checking and proofreading
  • Flick off that fear goblin nagging on your shoulder. If you’ve put in the work – it’s ready. Repeat – flick and submit.

If anyone reading here knows of any writing opportunities or competitions for young writers, not listed on the YWR page, I’d love you to leave me the details in a comment or email me the link. Thnx.

2 Comments on Young Writer Opportunities, last added: 5/18/2014
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8. Varuna Inspiration

photo (3)The magic of Varuna is time to think, as much as time to write.

This thinking time, free from outside distractions and interruptions, resolved a niggling missing element  in my manuscript, yesterday, in the simplest, now most obvious way. All I needed was to clear the clutter and noise in my head and remove myself physically from the clamour of everyday life – and there it was waiting for me.

DSC04763Sitting here in my writing space, this morning, gazing out at the trees and sky in the peaceful, blissful, quiet, I am ecstatic to know that I have a whole second week at Varuna ahead. I am blessed and oh, so grateful to be here.

DSC04762So I’ll let the photos from my early morning walk speak Varuna’s inspiration as my head is full of story and words and I’m ready to jump back into that other world.

DSC04760

DSC04746

DSC04745

4 Comments on Varuna Inspiration, last added: 3/24/2014
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9. A New Friend for Marmalade – Alison Reynolds

Today I welcome international best-selling author, wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her, and very talented illustrator, Heath McKenzie’s newest picture book A New Friend for Marmalade.

Alison Pith Helmet

A New Friend for Marmalade is the sequel to Alison and Heath’s first collaboration, A Year with Marmalade, which has sold more than a whopping 30,000 copies and is being released in the USA by publisher Simon and Schuster in July. Alison is also the multi-talented, best selling author of the Ranger in Danger, Why I love and Baby Talk series as well as the gorgeous picture book The Littlest Bushranger. 

Hi Alison,

Welcome back to From Hook to Book. Thank you for stopping by on the very first day of your blog tour. Warmest congratulations to both you and Heath on the launch of A New Friend for Marmalade, your gorgeous new Marmalade adventure.

Thanks for the invite, Chris. I love reading From Hook to Book, so very nice to be here.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copy

Ella, Maddy and Marmalade are best friends. Then one day everything changes when Toby, the boy from across the road wants to play with them. This gentle story is about accepting people, even when they do things a little differently from you. And it all revolves around a very special little cat named Marmalade.

 

Alison, I’m so in awe of how in A Year with Marmalade you manage to portray the complexity of how we are all different and play differently, yet can play together. Can you explain the thought process or process of elimination it takes for a picture book author to boil down such complexity to a minimum of words that expresses it so simply and beautifully?

I actually wrote this by writing a list of my thoughts about the two friends from A Year with Marmalade, and a new annoying boy  who wants to be friends, but doesn’t understand how to make friends.

I  jotted down random thoughts, for instance Toby, the new boy, annoys the girls so I thought of what he could do to annoy them without meaning to be annoying. I didn’t actually worry about the storyline, but kept writing down images and thinking what if? Eventually, a story emerged. I eliminated a lot of the extraneous words  and ideas that didn’t further the main narrative. There’s usually no room for going off on a tangent in a picture book. I always have to remember that simple is good, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues.

A Friend for Marmalade_Internals_PB_Page_06 copyA New Friend for Marmalade is really as much about the girls’ acceptance of a new friend too. There’s a significant, but subtly shown, change going on when the girls must not only share their space and creative play, but their beloved cat Marmalade too. There’s a lot going on. A lot of tolerance required by the girls for the new boy who clumsily upsets their games and yet still wins over the affection of Marmalade. As the writer, what came first for you the theme or the story?

This book started with the theme. The publisher suggested the sequel be about friendship and accepting other people even when they are different to you. I imagined an exuberant boy, Toby, who wants to be liked and make friends with Ella, Maddy and Marmalade. Astute Marmalade can see that Toby is a good friend, although he is very different from him. It takes the girls a little longer to realise this, but eventually they do. I can imagine how irritating the girls found it that when they were trying to give Toby “the cold shoulder” and Marmalade loved Toby. I really enjoyed writing that strand.

The resolution in the story got me to thinking and wondering: Is it the commonality of the childrens’ shared concern/common goal to rescue Marmalade that unites them in friendship as much as tolerance? Do you think this is a strategy that schools and those working with children might employ to bring together warring factions or isolated children – a common goal or concern?

I think by the resolution, the girls were beginning to soften towards Toby. They had the example of how much Marmalade liked Toby, suggesting that Toby was really a nice person. I do believe that sharing a common goal unites people. And the process of working together allows you to get to know another person better and most times you end up liking them.

I do think a shared concern or common goal can be used to bring together warring factions or isolated children. Often people don’t like somebody they regard as being the “Other” but once they are in a situation to really know them, their feelings can change. I don’t think that children are often given the skills to befriend somebody who is different to them. They can feel awkward and scared of doing the wrong thing and hurting the other person’s feelings. It’s easier in a sense to isolate that person. I can remember being scared of children who were different when I was little. I’m not sure why looking back.  I never bullied anybody, but I probably kept away from children who were perceived as different.  I didn’t know what to do. In this book I’m trying to show that if you accept that not everybody is the same, that can lead to different, special friendships. Toby’s brilliant idea to use the cape not only acts as a solution to Marmalade’s problem drawing the children together, but also provides the children with an excuse to be together and develop a friendship. I always felt they all wanted to be friends, but only Marmalade knew how to make a new friend.

Have you experienced a “Toby” in your life, Alison? If yes, what swung your affection his or her way?

I’ve met a “Toby” or two. Luckily, I’ve developed much better social skills and know to give people “a go”. I think if you look hard enough there’s always something to like in most people. Nobody was born mean, and most people are lovely if you give them the chance.

I should also admit that I based the character on the exuberant character of our beloved Labrador, Toby. He would run through boxes, upset drinks with his wagging tail, and lick our faces if we fell over. He never meant to be a slobbering nuisance. He just wanted to join in.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copyA Year with Marmalade_cropped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison, I’ve heard a thrilling whisper that Marmalade is taking a trip abroad. Can you tell us about this exciting development?

Yes, A New Friend for Marmalade has already been released in the UK by The Five Mile Press UK and is padding in A Year with Marmalade’s paws by being published by Little Simon (Simon and Schuster US) in July this year. He is a well travelled cat!

A New Friend for Marmalade is published by The Five Mile Press ISBN: 9781743466599

Visit Alison on her website www.alisonreynolds.com.au.

WIN, WIN, WIN! – GREAT WRITER & PET OWNER COMPETITIONS:

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes in two different competitions. Anyone, any age, can enter her  fantastic PET PHOTO competition and AUTHORS get the fabulous opportunity to JUMP THE PUBLISHER’S SLUSH PILE.

Jump the Slush Pile

Win a free pass to a Children’s editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials CB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free pass to a Non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.  Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win an assessment of Chapter One of a chapter book by the fabulous mentor extraordinaire Dee White. http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/   Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free picture book assessment by Alison! Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials PB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Pet Photo contest – for all ages!

Marmalade the cat is full of personality. Do you have a pet with personality? Win a piece of artwork by Heath McKenzie. Send along a photo of your personality-plus pet to www.alisonreynolds.com.au[email protected] or upload to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524

Random book giveaways!

Just leave a comment on one of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or even email me that you want to enter competition to win A New Friend for Marmalade.

FOLLOW ALISON’S BLOG TOUR

11th March Dee White – review and post http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

11th March Chris Bell – interview http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

12th March Angela Sunde – interview with Heath http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au

12th March KBR – book giveaway http://www.kids-bookreview.com

13th March Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

14th March KBR Guest post http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March KBR Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March Sally Murphy – Meet my book http://aussiereviews.com/reviews/blog

15th March Buzz Words – Interview http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com

17th March Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

17th March Pass-it-on Post and Review - Jackie Hosking http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine

18th March Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

10 Comments on A New Friend for Marmalade – Alison Reynolds, last added: 3/11/2014
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10. Tagged

Alison Pith HelmetI have been tagged by lovely and prolific writer and friend Alison Reynolds to share my writing process in the “Tagged” blog tour. A bit of a worry since, as a child, I was “Chris of the Scabby Knees”, more likely to fall over than tag anyone. So just as well email is faster than me at tagging.

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERAlison Reynolds is the author of the gorgeous A Year with Marmalade and The Littlest Bushranger picture books as well as the popular Ranger Danger (choose your own adventure) series. And, “TA DA”, very, very soon a brand new Marmalade adventure. In fact, I’m excited to host Alison – next week – on her whirlwind blog tour to help launch A New Friend for Marmalade.

To find out more about Alison and more of her brilliant books you can visit her website at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au.

What am I working on?

I am working on a YA historical novel set in convict Tasmania. It’s a bit scary saying that, because really it’s done and time to send it out into the world. That’s the hard part though, because a writer always fears – it might come back.

DSC03909 copyHow does my work differ from others in its genre?

When writing my last two novels, both the main characters’ voices  arrived strong and distinct. I hope this originality of voice will help set them apart from some other historical works. I write very much from story rather than the historical period I’m writing in. Of course, I want the details and history to be correct, but I don’t want to give my reader a history lesson. Detail is soon sacrificed if it ruins the moment or pace.

Rue de Kanga - Peronne copyRooDeKanga 1918 Peronne copyWhy do I write what I write?

These days I write mostly historical fiction because it’s become an absolute passion for me and, as it turns out, it’s what I’ve always loved most to read. Starting with A Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce, back in the days when I could read all night by torchlight to get to the end of a book or crash to sleep trying. I get so lost in the research, learning about the different ways of doing day-to-day tasks, gutting and skinning rabbits, lighting a fire, dressing and talking, that sometimes I forget to write.

I love that I get to talk to so many interesting people from all over the world too, including an ex-Scottish coal miner, the owner of a French chateau, and an expert on antique weapons, discussing everything from botany to broomsticks, cockatoos to crinolines. Plus I’ve been fortunate to go to some truly amazing places. A lot of the time only in my mind, yes. But my research has taken me to Scotland, down a real coal mine, onto the battlefields and into towns in France still bearing the scars of WW1, and forced me to face some fears stepping nervously through tunnels deep under the city of Arras.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How does my writing process work?

My process varies depending on what I’m writing. For short titles, I tend to plot first and then write out the story. But for my historical novels, I found the settings first and then the main characters arrived. I always knew what the problem/conflict was to start, just not how my character would solve it. With a basic starting point, I wrote to find out how things turned out. Themes and subplots emerged later, through many hours of daydreaming, midnight musing and redrafting, as well as during the writing.

ww1 mortar in wall IMG_1351 copyUntil I really get to know a character, many thousands of words into the writing, I can’t know how they will react to different challenges or what decisions they might make. Sometimes they surprise me and their decisions can lead to a plot twist that I wasn’t planning on. I can write copious notes in notebooks, ideas and scenes, and possible scenarios for the story, yet when I look back, months later, it has all turned out so differently. The character/s I planned in my notebook never turn out the same as the one/s that come to life on the page.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s  thrilling when a new character I hadn’t planned turns up. Shattering when one dies unexpectedly, yet rightly for the story. Sometimes things occur because they’re inevitable and no other way things could have worked out.

Then the editing process begins. Stuff gets chucked out, stuff gets rewritten and stuff gets added. So I guess my process is not systematic, though I’m always in control, even if I do have to wrench it back sometimes from my characters.

Now it’s my turn to tag. I’m out of breath, but have managed to catch up with three wonderful writers and friends.

Liz CorbettElizabeth Jane Corbett is a fellow writing group buddy and beautiful historical fiction writer. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth Jane works as a librarian, teaches Welsh and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In her spare time, she also writes copy and reviews for the Historical Novels Review. In 2007, an early draft of her historical novel, Chrysalis, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another story, Silent Night, was also shortlisted for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. She is currently in the final stages of re-drafting her original historical novel. She expects to have it ready for submission by the middle of the year.

clairesaxbyThe multi-talented Claire Saxby is hard to catch. She’s busy, busy with three new picture books in production and the author of the stunning Big Red and gorgeous Sea Dog.  Claire writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. She has published picture books and chapter books, short stories and articles. Her poetry appears in magazines, anthologies, on train walls and in museum resources. Claire lives in Melbourne and loves it, despite what anyone says about the weather.

Claire’s most recent picture books are ‘Meet the ANZACS’ illustrated by Max Berry (Random House), ‘Big Red Kangaroo’ illustrated by Graham Byrne (Walker Books) and ‘Seadog’, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Random House) which won the  Speech Pathology Award for Young Children in 2013. You can learn more about Claire on her website.

KatApel_Bully_B&W_SmLastly I’ve stretched all the way to QLD to tag the beautiful and very talented, Kathryn Apel. I met Kat through Month of Poetry, which she runs and coordinates each year. Kat was born and bred a farm girl – but she’s still scared of cows! Kat lives amongst the gum trees, kangaroos and cattle, on a grazing property in Queensland. Her chapter book, ‘Fencing with Fear’ is part of the Aussie! Read! series, and her rural rhyming picture book, ‘This is the Mud!’ has been read by Justine on ABC PlaySchool. Kat’s verse novel for younger readers, ‘Bully on the Bus’ will be released in July, with UQP. Prior to publication it won the published author’s manuscript section of the 2012 CYA Competition.

Kathryn co-ordinates Month of Poetry each January, and has had poetry published in magazines and on CD in Australia and New Zealand.

You can read more about her work at katswhiskers.wordpress.com

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11. A Room with a View

How great and inspiring has been my view over recent weeks? What writer would curse the happy distraction of sunflower heads nodding and bees puddling in pollen? Whenever I looked up from my desk they made me smile. Sunflowers copy

Every day for a fortnight, new ones to see!

Sunflower view copy

My cheery bird’s eye view. (Okay, there is a zoom lens in play!)

Sunflowers Bees puddling copy

The bees forgot to visit the beans in their thrall. And at times I forgot to write!

Last sunflower copy

Now it’s time to farewell the last solo sunflower and get back to work.

But I am going to plant more next year and, in the meantime, a few colourful distractions to take their place.

Don’t all writers need a room with a view?

(aka reason to procrastinate.)

3 Comments on A Room with a View, last added: 2/27/2014
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12. Authenticity vs Action

Certain indisputable beliefs were planted in the minds of all television-watching children of the fifties and sixties raised on a diet of cowboy and wild west movies. And of course John Wayne.

john-wayne imageSettlers rode horses, carried guns, could shoot an indian off a hillside half-a-mile away and pick off their dinner prey with a single shot.

Pah and rubbish! With a musket?

Never once though did I question the accuracy of such portrayals until researching muskets and hunting in convict Van Diemen’s Land for my WIP. (A world away from the wild west – yes, and a later era, but still no closer to accurate weaponry for hunting anything other than birds.)

Turns out hunters and settlers – Van Diemen’s Land – circa 1830 couldn’t use their muskets to hunt wary kangaroos, wallabies and emus. The timid creatures, unused to white man and his weapons, were quite safe from the inaccurate Brown Bess, the only affordable weapon available to both military and civilians. Even if the animals had been curious enough to stick around and see what the noisy, long, hit and miss sticks were about.

Muskets work best at a range of no more than twenty yards (18.28 meters). Beyond that the hunter would be lucky to hit his target. Too close and there wouldn’t be much left to salvage for the cooking pot.

Settlers, convicts and bushrangers used snares to catch rabbits, which were populous already in Van Diemen’s Land by the 1820s. To go after larger game, they used dogs aka imported hunting hounds. Even the first settlers on the island, the aborigines, quickly converted their own hunting strategies to include the skill and speed of dogs.

tasmanianaboriginesNative herbivores, having lived a previously dogless existence, bar the thylacine who it’s believed went in for a more ambush than pursuit attack, were no match for the speed and power of the dogs. The open grasslands of Van Diemen’s Land provided a perfect environment for the chase and few places to hide.

An interview with Dr Leo Laden (antique gun authority and owner of the Colonial Arms Museum in Perth) provided me with a detailed explanation on loading, firing and the range of the Brown Bess for my novel. Thanks to him, I’m pretty confident I could load a Brown Bess. Hitting a target, I’m not so sure about. But it seems even well trained soldiers were more lucky than reliable at hitting their targets in the Brown Bess era. Dr Laden explained how, to his disappointment, modern day movie reenactments of colonial life and war more often pursue effect rather than authenticity. I’m confident though, with his guidance, that I’ve got my story portrayal right at least.

Don’t you love writing in the days of the internet? Articles, experts, videos only a Google search away. Who have you interviewed lately? I’d love to know what you are researching?

If you’d like to see the Brown Bess in action, click on the youtube video link below.

6 Comments on Authenticity vs Action, last added: 2/16/2014
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13. Every writer needs a hobby

Writers are lucky. We love our work. Well we do when we’re not having to rewrite whole slabs that seemed so promising at first, but fell so flat; or freaking out didn’t I change that bit last week? Have I lost that draft? Aaah! Or suddenly discovering that something we’ve set up cannot work and it’s all about to come crashing down. Eeek! Etc, etc.

We love our story so much that sometimes it’s easy to keep writing, day in and day out, until one day, you realise that you’ve not only forgotten to smell the roses, but they’ve budded up, bloomed and fallen while you’ve not been looking. I think the official term is “lack of balance”.

This year I’m going to try working to more like office hours, take weekends. (Of course flexi-time is included. And maybe even RDOs, since I do the roster.) At least when not working to a deadline or in that heady, urgent “new” story zone that demands you write, right then, to catch all the ideas and characters buzzing in your head.

It’s sort-of hard getting away from writing/work when one’s hobbies are reading and writing poetry though, but, with a new address and larger garden, I’ve discovered a new passion – growing vegies and herbs and all things edible.

DSC04620Growing food is not unlike writing a new story, especially watching it grow from seed. Waiting to see if that tiny kernel will sprout into a seedling. One that will grow and grow and flower and once the prettiness falls away, the fruit remains to develop and mature into something palatable. Something to be enjoyed and satisfy and leave  you recalling it later. (Sorry, that could just be indigestion!)

I’m loving the watering (thinking time), harvest, and the eating of what we are growing. Nearly as much as sending a new manuscript out into the world and seeing a published book come back.

DSC04628DSC04612

6 Comments on Every writer needs a hobby, last added: 1/26/2014
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14. It must be January…

…because it’s Month of Poetry. Yay!

What an inspirational way to launch the year and reinvigorate the writing muscle. Month of Poetry is run every year in January by the very talented and lovely Kathryn (Kat) Apel who gives experienced and novice poets alike a forum to write and post a poem a day, and exchange comments and feedback with one another. This is my third time participating and I’m learning so much and about so many (new to me) forms.mop12

It’s such a wonderful way to jump into the writing year. And a fabulous kick-start for me after a complete break from writing since the beginning of December. Though it’s been wonderful to take time-out, it’s also been quite strange because I can’t remember the last time I spent so long away from a WIP, blogging or some form of writing. But after several months focused on rewriting my YA historical novel, and two house moves in between, it was definitely time to rest and play. And finish unpacking boxes!

my year

I’m really looking forward to this year. So much is on the horizon and lots happening for this writer. I’m heading to Varuna Writer’s House in March to take up my two-week Residential Fellowship and I can’t wait to catch the whispers in its walls and soak up the inspiration. I plan to write up a storm.Varuna Writers House

I’ve taken on an exciting new role as Support to our new Victorian SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor, Caz Goodwin. And I’m really looking forward to meeting more of our members and participating in the exciting range of events planned for this year.

SCBWI Conf-logoI’m attending the SCBWI International Conference in Sydney in July. It’s going to be fantastic to catch up with some online friends and writing buddies from around Australia and meet lots of new ones, not to mention attend all the fabulous sessions and panels.

A quick trip to Tassie will enable me to tweak a couple of descriptions and double-check a couple of locations in my WIP.

So welcome 2014. I’ve cleared out my email inbox, tidied my desk, and, at last, filed my considerable WIP research. Phew! That was a job and a half. So I’m ready and raring to go a hunting words. The best part is to so look forward to getting back to work, doing exactly what I love.

8 Comments on It must be January…, last added: 1/16/2014
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15. Paul Collins – Writing Across Genres

Today I’m excited to welcome award-winning author/publisher Paul Collins to share his experience writing across genres and celebrate the launch of not just one, but two new books.

Paul CollinsEMiPaul is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles, which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He has had two Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

Congratulations, Paul, on the recent release of both The Only Game in the Galaxy (book three in the The Maximus Black Files) and your first adult novel The Beckoning.

You have been published in an incredibly diverse range of genres from picture story book/chapter book/YA fantasy and science fiction through to adult thriller. A very impressive range. I’m curious to know how you cross genres so successfully both from the writing and promotional aspects.

It’s really a matter of encompassing cross-subsidisation. Writers are notoriously the worst paid workers around. Who else would work for a year and risk not being paid? Writers do this all the time. So early on I realised that if I were to make writing a full time career, I needed to work several jobs, and jobs that allowed me to write. Hence, I opened bookshops. These didn’t pay much, so I worked as a bouncer in hotels at nights. During the day, I’d write stories in my various shops. This worked for around twenty-five years until I started making more from my writing than both my security work and bookshops. I knew I had to edit anthologies, write chapter books and non-fiction titles for education publishers, and as an indulgence, ‘real’ books. I say ‘real’ meaning thicker, substantial books. But even though I’ve been published by most of the major publishers, I have to admit that these ‘real’ books aren’t in any way lucrative. I don’t want to sound like it’s a monetary thing, but if you’re serious about being a career author, you do need to look at what you make from it. I’ve never received writing grants.

ONLY GAME FRONT Newsletter

With two concurrent newly published titles, The Only Game in the Galaxy and The Beckoning, how are you splitting/sharing your promotional time and energy on such different projects and readerships?

This was tough in one sense as I’m primarily known as a writer for younger readers. But luckily for me most of my contacts were curious as to how I came to write an adult horror novel. Most wondered where I found the time. But this in itself proved a marketable story. I wrote it around 30 years ago – the counter of several bookshops as I mentioned. I typed it onto a computer in the 90s, saved it via various storage devices such as 3.5 floppies, CDs, zip drives, USB sticks. Suddenly I noticed on Buzz Words that Damnation Books was after horror books so figured what the heck, I’d submit it. So all the blogs I wrote and interviews I gave, I got to mention The Beckoning, although primarily people were interested in The Only Game in the Galaxy. So they both got equal billing. And it seems to have worked. Both titles made the Top 100 on various Amazon pages. The Beckoning actually made #7 on the psychic thriller page, just six spots behind Stephen King’s latest novel. It’s been in the Top 100 ever since it was published. The Only Game in the Galaxy is also in the Top 100 on the spies’ page.

The Beckoning is your first published adult novel. What (if any) differences or contrasts can you make between writing for young adult readers and writing for adult readers?

Not much, really. Simply because most kids books have, surprise, surprise, kids in them. The Beckoning also features a kid. But whereas a kid’s book would be told from the kid’s POV, an adults book focuses on an adult’s POV. So The Beckoning is told from Briony’s father’s POV.

The Beckoning _150dpi_eBook

The Beckoning was thirty years from first writing to publication. How much changed since that original version and in what ways did you need to alter it to suit a changed world and readership?

 Believe it or not, very little. A few things have changed, such as the cost of living, mobile phones and such, but generally the novel stood the test of time. I was tempted to ‘set’ the time period as mid eighties, but there was no need to. I did change some text to suit the US market, but that too was minimal. The Beckoning is a real time capsule to what I was writing back then. I was recently reminded that I also have another horror novel sitting in a box somewhere. Unfortunately this one was never converted to a computer, so I’d need to find time to type it again. And who knows, perhaps it’s best left in the box. I have to say I’m staggered by the reviews The Beckoning is getting. Over the thirty years it’s been rejected by many publishers. The closest it came to being published was reaching the long list of Lothian’s short-lived adult horror series.

Paul, you have said that there is nothing to like about Maximus Black as a character, breaking a taboo in publishing that says authors need to make their protagonist likeable if they expect readers to follow his/her journey. Yet readers have embraced Maximus. What do you think it is about him and his stories that appeals to readers amd keeps them reading?

Tough question! I can’t answer directly – you’d be better off asking readers that question. I thought perhaps readers would relate to Max’s nemesis, the irrepressible Anneke Longshadow. But so many reviewers have basically been behind Maximus Black. Maybe I’ve somehow reached down into his soul and exposed him in some inexplicable way that readers have picked up on? Dunno. I do know that I asked a good friend of mine to have a read of the first title, Mole Hunt, and he thoroughly detested Maximus. The book depressed him. And yet readers across the board disagree with this first reader – as you can imagine, I’m much relieved!

Will the reader see another side of Maximus Black in The Only Game in the Galaxy being the final book in the series?

Certainly. He does become more ‘human’ throughout the trilogy. I can sort of see how readers would ‘finally’ relate to him. But not from the beginning, which they did.

We hear a lot these days about “author branding”and how writers need to focus on one genre to build a “brand” for themselves, their books and their publisher. As the wearer of dual hats, as both author and as Publisher at Ford Street Publishing, how important to you think author “branding” is?

It obviously works for some people. But like I mentioned, I’ve had to write across the board – everything from picture books through to books for adults. I don’t see how I could brand myself with this work ethic. It simply wouldn’t work. Publishers expect you to remain loyal to them so as not to dilute their investment in you. But let’s be realistic: writing one book a year is not going to feed you, much less pay the bills. Only a small percentage of authors can make a living in Australia writing one book a year and sticking with a single publisher.

Do you have any advice for writers wanting to write across genres and readership ages?

Reading books across genres and readerships helps. See what the main publishers are publishing. Don’t be afraid to take risks: send your manuscripts out to as many publishers as it takes to get them published. And remember, we all get rejections. Be persistent. Take on board editorial tips for improvement if they’re offered. Subscribe to magazines such as PIO and Buzz Words. You only need to discover one market to which you sell a story or a novel, and you’ve more than made back your investment.

You have published a phenomenol 150+ books, Paul. Is there any advice that you wish you’d been given as a young, emerging writer or something in particular that you’ve learned that you’d like to share with the readers of this post?

Apart from the above, I wish I’d participated in some writing courses. I pretty much went it alone and made mistakes, but never had anyone to show me where I was going wrong. I think a mentor would’ve proven invaluable; would’ve certainly been a short-cut to getting novels published. Despite writing my first novels in the early eighties, it wasn’t until the mid nineties that I sold The Wizard’s Torment to HarperCollins. Not until then did I realise that I was on the right track.

Thank you for visiting From Hook to Book, Paul, and sharing your insights and experiences. Congratulations again on publication of both The Only Game in the Galaxy and The Beckoning. 

Paul’s latest titles are available at Amazon:

The Beckoning: Kindle and print: http://tinyurl.com/ny6urwy

The Only Game in the Galaxy at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/mshxpsx

Print: http://tinyurl.com/lfubra6

The Only Game in the Galaxy

ONLY GAME FRONT NewsletterIn a galaxy of cutthroat companies, shadowy clans and 
a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet. But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation.

And Maximus has a lot to hide.

Ford Street Publishing   ISBN: 9781925000061

The Beckoning

The Beckoning _150dpi_eBookWhen evil intent is just the beginning…
Matt Brannigan is a lawyer living on the edge. His daughter, Briony is psychic and trouble shadows his family wherever they go.
Cult guru Brother Desmond knows that the power within Briony is the remaining key he needs to enter the next dimension. Once he controls this, he will have access to all that is presently denied him.
When Briony is indoctrinated into the Zarathustrans, Matt and psychic Clarissa Pike enter the cult’s headquarters under the cover of night to rescue her.
So begins Armageddon…

Damnation Books LLC   ASIN: B00F5I6ZWE

Paul Collins website

Ford Street PublishingFordStemail-sig

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16. Killer Clothes – Literally

arsenic bottleDuring the 1800s the population of Victorian England were quite literally eating, wearing, sleeping and washing themselves to death with arsenic.

While researching rat poison, strictly for my novel, of course, I came across some startling facts. Arsenic was used as a common green colourant, creating the gorgeous Scheeles green, Emerald and Paris green dyes. Arsenic dyes went into everything from wallpaper, clothing, jellies, sweets, artificial flowers, soaps and candles, as well as children’s toys.

green dressLadies swooned in their bright crinoline gowns, never suspecting their dresses were poisoning them and the cause of their aches and pains. A person could become ill just sleeping in his bed surrounded by fashionable green wallpapering, breathing in the paper dust and vapours.

Green wallpaperWith the ready availability of the impossible to taste, smell, detect, common household grains or bottles of liquid arsenic, there were plenty of deliberate poisonings too. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning imitated common gastric complaints and ailments: stomach pains, cramping muscles and sweating, and it is thought that many murder victims went to their graves under the guise of food poisoning or intestinal diseases. Desperate murderers of the day often sought to claim the “life insurance” held by many householders  to afford them a decent burial when the time came. For some, that time came sooner than expected.

It was the late 1800s before synthetic dyes began to replace arsenic greens, and quite some years after their poisonous nature was first discovered. Makers of millions of yards of wallpaper and other manufacturers held out insisting that their products caused no harm, until science could irrefutably prove that arsenic was poisonous in such applications and not just through ingestion by mouth. By the 1900s forensic science could detect arsenic in the deceased and it passed out of popularity with poisoners too.

Now to the writing month that was October

Books Read:                          1 x YA novel (no time to read – see “houses moved”)

Words Written                       12000

Words Edited                         20000

Houses Moved                       1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was gobsmacked to see this guy moving house in Fuzhou, China back in 2006. It was incredible how much he had stacked on such a small cart. We were  lucky to have a large moving van and a couple of energetic, professionals to assist us in relocating our worldly goods.

11 Comments on Killer Clothes – Literally, last added: 11/6/2013
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17. A Varuna Fellowship – a tick off the old bucket list!

Varuna Writers HouseWhen I first started writing seriously and heard of Varuna Writing Fellowships, and Varuna Writers’ House, I wrote “achieve a Varuna Fellowship” clearly on my bucket list of writing goals.

So forgive me while I jump up and down with excitement to share the news that I have been awarded a 2014 Varuna Retreat Fellowship to work on my YA historical novel Prison Boy.

I have been to Varuna. Back in 2011, I paid for a one-week residency. It was writer heaven to be encircled by the quiet of the house, knowing my fellow writers too were squirrelled away at their desks, writing, reading, imagining. Best, there were no interruptions. No appointments, no ringing phone, no clothes to wash and most importantly and best of all (if you don’t count the writing) no meals to prepare. The wonderful Sheila prepares and cooks the most incredible meals and all one has to do is come down to dinner. Oh, and share a drink and conversation with fellow writers and/or illustrators.

I have to say that last time, a little part of me didn’t quite feel I’d earned the right to be there. I still coveted a Fellowship. Three weeks after the announcement, I’m still pinching myself.

Maggie the MuseI can’t wait to revisit, hopefully, the same productivity and inspiration of last time. Also I want to see if my little mate, Maggie, the magpie, and muse, with his twisted foot, is still there. I hope so.

Varuna, here I come!


10 Comments on A Varuna Fellowship – a tick off the old bucket list!, last added: 10/23/2013
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18. A Writer’s Week Done

Read:

2 junior novels

1 YA novel

Words Written:   4700

Words Edited:    9300

Wild horse familyDID YOU KNOW?

Horses in convict Tasmania were a rarity. The high cost of owning a horse was prohibitive and usually only wealthy settlers, senior officials and military officers rode or owned the animals.

Just one of the interesting snippets I’ve learned while researching my current WIP. I read heaps and did lots of research before even starting to write my story, but some of the everyday work/life details, I just merrily wrote in thinking that I would verify the details later. Horses and dogs seemed a given, but then I discovered – no, not so. It’s amazing how changing some of these small details can require significant changes to a chapter. We don’t just write ‘the man rode his horse’. We incorporate the imagery of that horse ride into the scene, which means that all the subsequent references, sounds of harness clinking, flicking a fly with the reins, smell of horse sweat have to go too. Of course, I would always rather discover such errors myself in draft stage rather than have someone pick up my mistake in a published book. Still it amazed me to discover that a horse, something I saw as part of ordinary, working day life in Australia, even in convict times, was such a rarity due to our immense isolation from mother England and the expense of shipping livestock so prohibitive. Nothing is certain in historical fiction until it’s cross-checked and verified. Even though fiction, it needs to be right.


2 Comments on A Writer’s Week Done, last added: 9/11/2013
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19. Writing Through the Ages (of my children)

When I first started writing, my kids were six, nine and eleven, and I found coming up with ideas on what kids were into doing, liked, disliked, got up to, came very easily, especially when inspired by my live-in research/demographic sample. It took a long time for me to realise that as my children grew up, the ages of my protagonists had increased too.

Gorgeous babyNow my babies are all adults and I find it interesting that I’ve written an adult novel. I think there might be a connection there. (I am, of course, still writing YA and kids’ books too. Mind you, they are novel-length of late and the output slower than shorter-length works.)

So I’m really excited that I’m going to become a grandmother shortly. I could gush here all day about the multiple, personal ways, I’m excited, but this a writing blog. With that in mind, I’ll just say how excited I am that I will get to tell lots of spontaneous, made-up stories and see the world again through the eyes of this special little person. Also I know that I won’t only go exploring through his or her experiences, because I remember the wonderful world of make-believe my own children reopened the door to – in my imagination.

Being busy writing some tough and reality-based stories over recent years, I’ve missed the world of whimsy and fantastical imagination. I’ve missed cuddling the soft, downy cheeks of newborns and giving horsey rides around the house too. I can’t promise the knees are up to any horsey rides, nor wait to welcome this new member of our family and, dare I say selfishly, lots of new story ideas too.

So a question for fellow writers: Do you find that the ages/stages of children in your world have influenced the age group or genre you write for?


10 Comments on Writing Through the Ages (of my children), last added: 6/1/2013
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20. Celebrating Poetrix, Poets and Adieu!

Poetrix 40 coverSaturday 1st June saw the birth of this new poet with the publication of my poem Life in the final issue of Poetrix. It was a thrill to see my first published poem in print and have the opportunity to read it aloud in front of poetrix peers and poetry lovers, all gathered to celebrate the launch of Poetrix 40 and herald its farewell at the Williamstown Literary Festival.

It was inspirational to hear the thanks of poets who read their work and how Poetrix gave many their first chance at publication too. Some said that first acceptance also gave them the confidence to continue submitting to both Poetrix and other publications and grow their body of work.

Chris reading "Life" at Poetrix LaunchI am honoured for my poem to be included in this final issue alongside some powerful and beautiful poetry and some very well-known, well-published poets. I mourn the closing of Poetrix, just when I am just starting out, but none could argue that Sherryl Clark and her editorial team deserve a rest after producing two issues a year for over two decades. That’s a lot of reading, editing, collating and organising!

Sherryl Clark launching PoetrixPoetrix has seen twenty years of production, the publication of hundreds of poems and the birth of many new poets. In her launch speech, Sherryl explained how Poetrix began in 1993 after a survey revealed the disparity between the numbers of female to male poets being published and reviewed, and after a reported slur by an editor who refused to publish women’s poetry calling their poems “domestic, suburban vignettes”. Western Women Writers went to work to remedy the disparity and through lots of hard work raised the funds to set up Poetrix magazine.

I loved Sherryl’s explanation for the logic behind the title – how if a female aviator is called an aviatrix, a female poet must be called a poetrix.

Thank you Poetrix for enabling my poetry debut and for the warm encouragement of those I spoke to on the Committee. Now to honour your faith by continuing to submit and hopefully see my poetry further published. And now, I can call myself a poet.


2 Comments on Celebrating Poetrix, Poets and Adieu!, last added: 6/5/2013
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21. The Littlest Bushranger comes to town

Today I welcome wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her latest picture book The Littlest Bushranger.

Alison Pith HelmetAlison is the multi-talented, much published author of the Ranger Danger series, A Year with Marmalade and For You Mum amongst her many other titles. Prolific, dedicated and professional describe Alison’s work ethic. Gorgeous, evocative and imaginative describe her books.

The Littlest Bushranger embodies all these adjectives and is a delightful rendering of a child’s imagination at play. Vivid descriptions transform an ordinary backyard into the bush, a bird into an outlaw, a hose into a snake and the adventure begins with Jack in pursuit of the villain.The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVER

When Jack’s big sister Lil starts school, he is left with only his faithful dog Hector for company and Lil’s favourite toy to protect. But an ordinary day transforms into an extraordinary one when Jack’s called upon to do battle with a fiendish villain… 

 

This book will prove inspirational to today’s child readers who often miss the chance to day-dream and explore their imaginations with so much fully formed fare lade on for them in video games, instant digital amusements and movies on demand. It brought so many memories back to my mind of games of make-believe my sisters and I shared as children and adventures in my own imagination. I love the reminder that make-believe is fun and can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The text of The Littlest Bushranger evokes Jack’s adventure through strong verbs and fast paced action. The fantastic imagery of the “murky billabong”, a dark shape swooping, hurdling a snake, splashing through a billabong, paint word pictures in my mind as vivid as the wonderful images on the page.

Heath McKenzie’s  http://www.heathmck.com fabulous illustrations show the wild adventure in Jack’s imagination – the fierce battle, his grim determination and the friends who help him battle their foe. I love the return to reality at the end when the billabong reveals as a wading pool, the sword reverts to a broom and Jack’s trusty stead becomes his bicycle.

I can’t resist asking Alison a few questions on the topic of make-believe.

Alison, I got the strong feeling whilst reading The Littlest Bushranger that you were closely connected to this type of imaginative play. How much did your own childhood influence the idea and development of Jack’s story?

A huge amount. I didn’t realise until I finished how much of myself was in the book. I loved playing imaginative games, including some that lasted for days. I had a secret passage behind the cotoneasters along the driveway, I would make tomato soup out of rust on top of the incinerator and dragged all the furniture out of my cubby house onto its. That was my penthouse!

Can you share one of your favourite childhood games of make-believe?

I played one named, rather macabrely, Death. With my two friends we would act out a scenario that resulted in Death, which we would all chant in sombre, dramatic tones.  I remember the first one I did as a sort of demonstration model was me staggering along in a desert, panting and then slowly collapsing into the sand. I was lost in a desert. The death throes lasted for a long, long time.

What do you believe is the role and/or benefit of make-believe in children’s lives?

I think make-believe is extremely important. You can control your own environment. Often children feel as if they have no control in their reality. Children can express their feelings in play and storytelling.  It’s also a lot of fun. I remember how there were no limits in my imaginative play. If I wanted to fly, I could do it!

Will we see further adventures of Jack?

I’m crossing my fingers as I have some more adventures up my sleeve that I would love to share with Jack.

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes along the way, plus a great opportunity for non-fiction writers, and a fantastic MONSTER drawing competition. 

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a adult non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.

Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the The Littlest Bushranger blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Monster Competition:

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope. What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to [email protected] and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus, including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

The Littlest Bushranger The Five Mile Press June 2013 ISBN 97817434664977

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERFollow the other stops on Alison’s book tour and watch out for further prizes along the ride including: a piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger, a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), copies of The Littlest Bushranger. Just comment on the posts.

June 11 Kat Apel  http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell  http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

June 13 Angela Sunde  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 14 Boomerang Books  http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

June 17 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont  www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 18 Dee White  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil  www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 21 Heath McKenzie and Alison Reynolds interviewed by Juliet Chan, Marketing & Publicity Executive  www.fivemilepress.com.au

 


11 Comments on The Littlest Bushranger comes to town, last added: 6/12/2013
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22. Killing Me Softly – Leisl Leighton

Congratulations to Leisl Leighton, fellow writing group buddy and friend, on the launch of her debut novel Killing Me Softly published by Penguin Destiny.

KillingMeSoftly_cover 2

On Saturday, I was thrilled to join Leisl in celebrating the launch of her first book – one I know will be the first of many.

Leisl is a prolific and dedicated writer of both romance and paranormal suspense and extremely talented storyteller. We, in our writing group, always knew it was only matter of time before she was published.

LIz Corbett launching Leisl Leighton's Killing Me SoftlyFellow writing buddy, and beautiful writer, Liz Corbett (left) launched the book and told the story of how Killing Me Softly came to publication. (In the end, it was a chance enquiry by Penguin to see what else Leisl had in her bottom drawer, so to speak.) You can read about Leisl’s inspiring writing journey in Liz’s launch speech on her blog Hannercymraes and also pick up a terrific tip on Leisl’s own website that proved a defining moment in her writing and, along with her persistence, helped lead to her publication.

Check out Leisl’s website and get to know this new author that we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of in the future.


4 Comments on Killing Me Softly – Leisl Leighton, last added: 7/2/2013
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23. Books for Mother Africa and PNG

Mother Africa donationI’m so excited to see some of my books taking a journey that I have long wanted to take myself.  All the way to Africa, and Papua New Guinea, thanks to the amazing efforts of author Tina Marie ClarkCYA Conference, and a fantastic band of helpers.

I was lucky (in a strange reversal of fortune) to be able to contribute a substantial number of my titles Blackheart Bilko and the Cape Barren Rats and Ghostgirl that I had purchased in a bulk lot when their trade publisher sold out to another only not their Aussie fiction titles. Sad faced at the time! :(  But I’m happy now to think that these two books, which I love, will be read and, I trust, enjoyed by eager young readers in both Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa and across Papua New Guinea, including Kokoda.)

Unloading books at WamiraTina and CYA Conference have been raising funds and collecting books and school supplies for The Mother Africa Trust (an organisation “created as a way for people to “give back” to both the environment and to the people of Zimbabwe.”) in Bulawayo Zimbabwe.  Now Tina and CYA are also collecting books for a fantastic new project. Milne Bay Mobile Libraries, PNG. This has included the creation of a library in Kokoda, to help students learn and practice English. If you would like to read more about the development of these projects on CYA’s news page or can assist in way with donations, please click here.

How cool to see my books reaching such far away, exotic places. How cool that so many authors, publishers, couriers and organisations are contributing to give and get books into the hands of readers. Makes me want to stow away with them!


4 Comments on Books for Mother Africa and PNG, last added: 7/3/2013
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24. The Girl in the Basement – Dianne Bates

Dianne Bates

A man lurks in the shadows, spying on a girl in a red party dress. 
 
The girl, Libby, is trying to shrug off a bad date. Not for a moment does she suspect that this night is the end of life as she knows it. The man pounces; Libby is grabbed and driven away. Held prisoner in a basement, she grapples with constant fear, all the while sustaining herself with thoughts of escape. Meanwhile, her captor is engaged on another mission, that of  abducting a young boy to complete his ‘family’. 

Will Libby ever escape? Or will the man kill her? And what of the boy who refuses to submit to the man’s demands? Can he possibly survive his merciless anger? 

Wow, what a premise! What a hook to read Dianne Bates new novel The Girl in the Basement. I got the shivers just reading the blurb and once I read the first page, I couldn’t put it down until I’d read the last page.

Today, I’m excited to welcome award-winning Australian author Dianne Bates, who is stopping by on her very first blog tour to celebrate the launch of this spine-tingling book.

Welcome Di,

Firstly, congratulations on your amazing record of 120-plus published books. Phenomenal! I am in awe!

In a coincidence of timing, the launch of your new YA novel The Girl in the Basement comes on the heels of the escape of three young American women snatched from the streets, by the one kidnapper, and held captive in excess of ten years. An incomprehensible fate, but one your book brings vividly to life. I’d love to ask you some questions on how you brought such authenticity to your writing and the writing/research process it involved.

The Girl in the Basement front new sml

The Girl in the Basement is tough subject matter, depicting an horrific situation. At times it had me not wanting to read on in fear that some of the things you’d foreshadowed were about to come to pass. (Some, of course, which did!) From a writing perspective, how much work is entailed in building such gripping narrative tension? And how do you maintain that grip without the reader becoming unable to bear to keep reading?

Creating tension in a psychological thriller is essential, so as the book’s creator I constantly needed to keep this thought at the front of my mind. In the same way that tension is created in real life, fictional tension is created through characters’ actions, reactions and interactions. Contrasting viewpoint and voice were helpful devices in creating and maintaining tension, my teenage protagonist, Libby, being presented through first person viewpoint; the psychopathic kidnapper through third person. In this way, the reader more readily identifies with the teenager, but the kidnapper is seen as from a distance – a man shrouded in mystery.

Maintaining the tension is a matter of being aware all the time of what it is like to be in an extraordinary situation; that is, being abducted and held against one’s will, and constantly wanting to escape but having to suffer the consequences of any behaviour other than what a madman ‘accepts.’ At the same time, I needed not to ‘over-write’ the tension, to balance times of great physical and emotional stress with more sober and/or reflective moments; otherwise the reader would be overwhelmed. I was helped with creating this balance by critiquing by a group of writers in a workshop situation, and by having my ‘final’ manuscript professionally assessed.

The changing mindset of Psycho Man, as Libby calls her kidnapper, was particularly interesting in its development and shifts. What depth of research did you need to do into the psyches of both victims and kidnappers to reach this level of believability?

As a child I lived in a household of domestic violence and was constantly in fear of what might happen, so I could well relate to Libby’s experiences. I also had first-hand experience of an unpredictable man in my life so you could say I didn’t need to do much research but could draw on my childhood memories.

However, I do read a lot of crime fiction and real-life crime books which I found helpful in creating the life and mind of a criminal. In researching specifically for The Girl in the Basement I read about the experiences of young, abducted women who managed to flee their abusers. In particular, Sabine Dardenne’s whose book, I Choose to Live, about her 80 days in captivity, gave me a real insight into the experience and mindset of being kidnapped.

I found it fascinating that you’ve shown the perspectives of both the victims and the kidnapper. How difficult was it for you to write these polar viewpoints? What strategies did you use as a writer to successfully move between writing one to the other?

I particularly loved writing the character of the serial killer who kidnaps and holds Libby (and a boy) hostage! I decided that I couldn’t possibly get directly into Psycho Man’s head but that I needed to create a psychological distance for him and so decided to write his story in third person. As well, the language of his voice was more formal, even more literary and more slowly paced. In contrast, Libby’s first person voice makes a more direct appeal to the reader who is taken on her journey through her immediate thoughts, speech and actions. To give the story strength and immediacy, I chose to use present tense so the reader could ‘live’ the journey; I really think this helped in creating the book’s tension.

I didn’t always alternate the two protagonists’ stories; sometimes I really got into Psycho Man’s mindset so I continued with his story, later going back and deciding where to slot the different episodes into the book. I think it really helped character development by writing the story in a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ – or non-linear — way. It’s something I’m doing at the moment with an adult crime novel, The Freshest of Flesh (a woman serial killer hunting pedophiles!)

I think many writers would have been tempted to write on beyond your ending, though, I have to say, I believe you ended it at precisely the right moment. As a writer, I can’t help wondering if you wrote beyond your published ending and then pared it back. Without risk of spoiling the ending for those who have yet to read the book, how did you decide the right point at which to end it?

In the original version of The Girl in the Basement (draft title Playing for Keeps), I had decided to explore Stockholm Syndrome where the abducted person identifies with her abductor. (Most people would know of Patty Hearst who gained notoriety in 1974 when she joined the Symbionese Liberation Army – and robbed a bank — after they had kidnapped her). I decided that Libby, the girl in the basement, would ‘come over’ to her kidnapper’s side and forget her previous life. However, after finishing the book’s first draft, and with feedback from my husband (award-winning YA author Bill Condon), I decided to rewrite the second half of the book, to have a completely different ending.

Thus, in the published book there are overtones of Stockholm Syndrome (which I had researched thoroughly), but throughout her long ordeal Libby maintains her desire to escape, especially when she is subjected to violence by her captor. Like Libby, I wanted the reader to never know (until right at the end) if she escapes captivity, or if the brutal man disposes of her. And yes, I did pare back the ending of the second version – because my workshop group insisted I do so. (Hooray for workshop groups; every writer should have one.)

Finally, you are published in multiple genres, Di. We read so much these days about publishers wanting to “brand” their authors and books, and establish them in one genre. Can you tell us if crossing genres has created any problems for you in getting published? Do you have any tips for emerging authors wishing to do the same?

A long while ago I decided that I wanted to be a full-time writer. (I love the lifestyle, of not having a boss or having to commute or working regular hours). To achieve my goal I needed to treat writing as a full-time occupation, and to do this I needed to diversify and to be flexible. For a long time I took on whatever writing work I could, which included presenting publishing proposals and taking on writing commissions, usually for educational publishers. This meant writing fiction and non-fiction and writing in multiple genres. It meant writing every day, usually seven days a week while supplementing my income through schools’ performances and teaching writing. For the past 15 years I’ve made a living solely from writing (as has my husband, Bill), much of our income being supplemented by Lending Rights and CAL payments.

I would love to be a ‘branded’ author with a single publisher as this means increased sales when the author’s latest title results in backsales of previous titles. However, editors in publishing houses with whom I’ve established a relationship, have frequently moved to other publishing houses. Often one of my existing publishers doesn’t publish the genre in which I’ve written, or they haven’t wanted a subsequent title.

Crossing genres hasn’t created many problems for me. Of course I’ve been branded with the ‘too prolific’ tag, but that doesn’t particularly bother me. (A few prolific authors I know write under pseudonyms to avoid the stigma; one, for example, has won many CBCA awards.)

There is always a market for one’s manuscript, if the work is good enough for publication. It’s really a matter of finding the right publisher, not always an easy thing to do. For instance, for the past ten years or more I have looking for a publisher for my non-fiction series about amazing dogs, cats and horses; I know the work is publishable, and know that eventually it will find a publisher. One of my books was accepted by the 32nd publisher to whom I sent it! Another book, a YA novel, was taken by the 15th publisher and went on to sell overseas and to be short-listed in a state literary award.

If you want to succeed as an author you need a thick skin, incredible self-belief and determination, you need to be market savvy and100% professional. More than anything, though, you need to be persistent!

Thank you so much for stopping by From Hook to Book and sharing some of your research and writing strategies, Di. Very best wishes for well-deserved success for you and The Girl in the Basement.

To celebrate the book’s release Di will be touring the blogosphere. To follow her tour, read reviews and learn more about Di’s writing tips and this exciting new book, click on the links below.

Monday July 1st. www.creativekidstales.com.au Review

Tuesday July 2nd  www.alisonreynolds.com.au  Interview

Wednesday July 3rd  www.buzzwordsmagazine.com Interview

Thursday July 4th  www.christinemareebell.wordpress.com Interview

Friday July 5th  www.buzzwordsmagazine.com Review

Saturday July 6th www.elaineoustonauthor.com Interview

Sunday July 7th  www.kids-bookreview.com Review

Monday July 8th  sherylgwyther.wordpress.com Interview

Tuesday July 9th  deescribewriting.wordpress.com Interview

Tuesday July 9th clancytucker.blogspot.com.au Interview

Wednesday July 10th  www.morrispublishingaustralia.com Interview

Thursday July 11th www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com Interview

Friday July 12th www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au

The Girl in the Basement is published by Morris Publishing Australia  

ISBN: 978-0-9875434-1-7


4 Comments on The Girl in the Basement – Dianne Bates, last added: 7/4/2013
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25. Moving House and Stuff

Well, we’ve moved house. And moving house is BIG!

Because we have TOO MUCH STUFF!

Moving house 2After all my best efforts to cull unnecessary bits and bobs and dispose of the long gathered minutiae we’ve accumulated over twelve years in the house we’ve just vacated, I thought I’d done a pretty good job.

But as you can see in the pic, I’ve boxes of stuff still unpacked. Stuff that’s now living in the spare room upstairs, because there’s no room in our small temporary abode. That’s right. We still have one more move to go. So I will have another chance. But, unlike the pressure of getting down a word count in writing, no one gave me a box or volume limit when packing. Though you’d have thought so from the sighs and moans of the movers who had to cart our boxes up the stairs.

The fact that there is so much stuff relegated to storage, not immediately needed, tells me I didn’t do the ruthless cull on my house that I’d do during a good word count slash on a WIP.

I guess it’s the same quandary. Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s worth keeping. We hold on to lines and extra linen we love, beautifully crafted sentences and spare salt shakers, hard wrought descriptions and hard bought dishes that we just might need one day.

But, if I can live without all this extra stuff for several months – and not miss it – until the house we’ve bought settles, do I need it?

I suspect the problem is it’s a bit like superfluous plot lines and peripheral characters. We don’t usually need them, but they’re awfully hard to dump. They took time to dream up and craft. We might want them back for another purpose the moment we’ve written them out or off.

I sold a couple of freestanding towel rails that I now really need back. Too late!

At least we never have to lose anything entirely in our writing. We can cut and cull to our hearts content and pop it all in a saved file, ready to grab back if needed. Op shops and online purchasers are not quite so understanding or restorative.

So I’m probably keeping way too much. And it’s not helped by the fact we are moving into a larger house again soon.

I really do like a good word count slash. The work always comes up stronger, clearer, cleaner without the dross. Now if I can just get rid of some more of my crap – pardon, I mean stuff – I’m sure my house will be cleaner and clearer too.

But can’t I just store it in the shed for a few months until I’m sure I won’t need it again?

Moving house is actually very exciting and cathartic. Not to mention inspiring for this writer after coming across a removalist who desperately belongs in a story. Stay tuned!


4 Comments on Moving House and Stuff, last added: 8/5/2013
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