Festival of Golden Words, Beaconsfield, Tasmania


This weekend I attended the Festival of Golden Words, in Beaconsfield, Tasmania. It is the first time a writer’s festival has ever been held so close to my home, and I had such a brilliant time. I started off with a workshop on getting published, which confirmed a lot of what I’d read elsewhere, but also gave me a few new hints and tips that will be very useful in the future submissions.

The weekend continued with a series of free author interviews and panels, and I was so lucky to start my Saturday morning attending an interview with Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites, as she spoke about the process of writing her book. From where her idea emerged, through the process of writing, and the struggle to write the ending – to write of a woman facing her own death. Among the many  wonderful tidbits she shared was the fact that most of the dreams recorded in Burial Rites were dreams actually dreamt by the characters!! Each one had been recorded at some point in time! How amazing is that! Afterwards she signed my book, and I mentioned my own WIP, also a historical fiction. Though our conversation was brief, she was such a lovely person to talk to, and there was so much of what she said in her interview that really resonates with me. Keep an eye out for my review of Burial Rites in the coming weeks. It is such a brilliant story – I devoured it in a matter of days.

‘The Author-Editor Relationship’ was an interesting panel, featuring two authors: Katherine Scholes and Heather Rose, alongside Amanda Cromer, an editor with the Society of Editors, and Margaret Johnson, whose company ‘The Book Doctor’ provides everything from manuscript assessment through to finding a publisher. The authors shared their experiences with their editors, and how working with a great editor can teach you so much about your writing, but also about sticking up for yourself when you know you’re on the right track. Heather Rose gave a great example of this. She has written a children’s novel – Finding Serendipity – which was co-authored with Danielle Wood under the name of Angelica Banks. In the story is a pirate who dies, and then comes back to life. Her editor suggested she change it, because the pirate then became a zombie – but Heather and Danielle argued that he was not a zombie he just came back from the dead – just the same as he was before – no mindless drooling, no hunger for brains – just that he’d been dead, and now he wasn’t. The stuck to their wish, and the book has been published, and not one reader has said that the pirate is a zombie.

The editors all pointed out that their advice and suggestions are just that, advice and suggestions. Though there may be spelling/grammatical points that you really *should* fix, any other ideas about story, plot or characterisation is exactly that, their idea. Every editor you go to will have a different idea, but the point is to listen to what they are saying is wrong with it, and think about it, and work on fixing it – whether you use their ideas on how to fix it, or come up with your own, it’s important to take into consideration that they are (usually) well versed in what publishers are looking for/selling at that time, and they know what’s needed to make your manuscript shine.

Sunday the highlights of the day were probably ‘The Pitch’ in which a handful of aspiring authors were invited to pitch their story idea to a panel of publishers (there were representatives from Melbourne University Publishing, Random House Australia, Forty South and Island magazine), in front of an audience of close to 200 people! While the level of professionalism in the pitches varied, it was fascinating to see the different ways in which authors presented their stories, and to hear from the judges what made the winning pitch (the prize was a bottle of champagne, and consideration of your manuscript) stand out – namely telling the story succinctly, stating her audience, and validating herself – she spoke of what her story would achieve and she spoke with confidence and certainty that she could do it.

The other panel I attended on the Sunday was ‘Our Black Past – Aboriginal Stories that Had to be Told’ with fiction author Rohan Wilson, and Academic Authors Dr Kristyn Harman and Professor Henry Reynolds. This is particularly interesting to me, as my current WIP features an Aboriginal woman as one of the main characters. There was discussion of appropriating stories belonging to another people (something which was also discussed by Hannah Kent in her talk), and of representing a people for whom there are no records outside of their interactions with white settlers. Rohan Wilson’s book ‘The Roving Party’ has to jump to the top of my reading list, for his story, so I understand, discusses the frontier conflict between Aborigines and settlers, with sections from the point of view of the Aborigines themselves.

The weekend gave me so much to think about, I’m still making notes from remembered talks, and I’ve been furiously jotting down ideas for my own story as the inspiration from the weekend just flows!

What are a writer’s chance of success?

I read a most awesome blog post this morning, which puts everything into perspective about the possibility of being a successful writer.

Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone, words it much better than I ever could, but basically she is saying that from the millions of people in the world who have a dream to write a novel, very few actually sit down and start writing. And of those who actually start writing, even fewer finish. And of those that finish, even fewer go through the process of editing, and polishing, and bringing that manuscript up to standard where it is accepted by an agent/publisher. And of those who get that far, fewer continue to market themselves and their writing. And those that do, fewer still continue on to write more books, and repeat the process.

So at the end of the day, if you are willing to put in the hard yards, there is a very high chance you will become one of the successful, best-selling authors!

If you’d like to read Kristen’s post (and I highly recommend you do), check it out at: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/what-are-the-odds-of-success-really/


So much news I’m not sure where to start!!

So I’ll start with the news I completed Camp Nano last Tuesday 19th June!!! Final word count 50,997. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, a pirate/fantasy story currently titled ‘Red Sky’. I look forward to coming back and editing it in a month or two. For anyone who wants to take part in Camp Nano, there is another one in August. Will I be there you ask? Well… I might. I had so much fun this month that I’m really quite looking forward to doing it again as long as I find a story to write!  🙂 My characters were such fun company, and I loved writing something a  little bit different (I’ve never written about Pirates before!). My cabin mates on the Camp Nano site were great company, (Keep going girls! You can do it!!).

My other exciting news is that I have won an honorary mention in the Five Stop Story competition, and as a reward my story has been published alongside many brilliant other stories on their website http://www.fivestopstory.com/read/story.php?storyId=2539. Check it out and if you like it, don’t forget to click on the  little blue heart at the bottom of the page! 🙂

You’re Invited to Party!! :D

Introducing LaVerne Clark!

A very good friend of mine, LaVerne is having an online party on Wednesday 27th to celebrate the release of her 2nd e-book, Affinity! LaVerne writes suspense and light fantasy/paranormal romance set in New Zealand. Her first novel – Guardian of the Jewel is a great read and I am very much looking forward to reading this one!

So pop in to her blog at http://laverneclark.blogspot.com.au/ on Wednesday 27th June and join in the celebrations!!

In the wrong hands, Jenna Thomas’s legacy could be a curse—in her mind it already is.

As a child, a routine x-ray awakened an abnormality in Jenna’s DNA giving her the ability to “call” creatures and take on their attributes. Labeled a freak since then, Jenna’s learned to keep everyone at a distance. But all that changes the day she saves a young boy from drowning, and the story goes viral.

Nick Hawke, an off-duty policeman, witnesses part of the drama. Captivated by Jenna’s exotic beauty, he decides to investigate, not sure what to believe. Jenna puts his cynicism to the test—even as the attraction between them grows.

As word of her extraordinary rescue spreads, a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to control Jenna’s abilities draws near. With her feelings for Nick putting him in danger too, can Jenna risk everything to protect them both?


An excerpt of Affinity:

“Back off everyone, give us room,” boomed Nick with authority. Everyone took a step back. An attractive woman holding a microphone stepped into the created space. Her phony smile flashed teeth like a shark. Circling, she came in for the kill, her cameraman capturing the moment.

“Are you the lady who jumped in to save the boy? What made you do something so heroic? Witnesses say you were under for over ten minutes. How is this possible?”

The questions fired at her like a volley of bullets. Jenna flinched as each one hit its mark. She couldn’t answer honestly without sounding like a freak. So she said nothing, burying her head into Nick’s chest. His arms tightened around her. The subtle turning of his body shielded her from all those eyes.

He pitched his voice to address the crowd. “It’s been a traumatic event for everyone involved, and as you can imagine, it’s not over for us yet. We’ve no comment to make at this stage, so please, give us some time to come to terms with what’s happened. Thank you.”

“Could you at least give me a little snippet, Sergeant Hawke?” pouted the reporter, pushing her chest out and fluttering her lashes.

Jenna’s spine went rigid. A sick feeling of dread settled in the pit of her belly.

Police. Nick is a policeman. Dear God, I’m in trouble.

 Her head pounded and her hands shook. His arm tightened when she tried to pull away, holding her firmly in place. Any other person she could have fobbed off. Now she understood his aura of authority, his all-seeing gaze and concern at the thought of a child left alone in her car. He would be relentless uncovering the truth.