Chatting with Authors- Meet Norman Jorgensen. — Sonia Bellhouse- Author.

Hi, Norman, It’s great to be chatting such a versatile children’s author I must ask, with your surname, do you have Viking ancestry. Some. My great-great-grandfather arrived in Australia from Denmark during the 1850s gold rush in Ballarat, and my grandfather grew up in Coolgardie in the Western Australian goldfields early in the 20th century. […]

via Chatting with Authors- Meet Norman Jorgensen. — Sonia Bellhouse- Author.

4 Reasons Why You Should Attend Writing Events.

There are numerous writing events run throughout the year and I believe that as a  writer you should attend at least some of them.  Of course, pick and choose those that appeal to you. A book talk by a favourite author, a convention or a workshop.

What are the benefits of attending such events?

An event where you can learn and make new connections

1.Informationyou don’t know what you don’t know!

Perhaps you are confused by the term ‘Show Don’t Tell’– you’ve heard explanations but are still unclear- and then you attend a talk and the presenter explains it so well that suddenly it makes sense.

Maybe Goal Motivation and Conflict are difficult to implement and then an explanation clarifies the concept. This was clarified  for me at the recent  Rockingham Writers’ Convention. Natasha Lester author of The French Photographer/ aka  the New York times bestseller The Paris Orphan  presented a workshop made the whole concept clear and accessible.

French

An incident happens because of an action taken by someone, they took that action because of an emotion they felt to try and achieve a goal and they want that goal because it satisfies a need. Obviously, the goal is not easily achievable, and the events and challenges are what adds complication to the plot and keep us reading. We want to live the story – experience the emotion, it’s the reason most of us read fiction. Knowing the concept is one thing now to try and apply it to my own writing.

I also attended a talk called ‘Trouble is Our Business’ presented by Guy Salvidge. This presentation was about crime writing. Now I don’t currently write crime, but I do read it, enjoying Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series. Michel Robotham’s recent hits  including his latest Good Girl Bad Girl. as well as Robet Galbraith’s Corman Strike series and Ann Cleeves Shetland series.  I may one day decide to write crime although I prefer the cosy end of the spectrum In that spirit, I attended this informative talk.

crime scene do not cross signage
We have a fascination wth crime.

Writing crime is definitely Guys’ passion and he led us through the tropes which make up the genre. There is a cornucopia of crime from the Golden age  (1930s- 40s) to domestic noir to cosies to psychological crime.an offshoot could be considered is legal fiction. Then there are books written from the perspective of a detective, a police officer or even from the criminal themselves. There are even light-hearted crime novels such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Guy reminded us that crime fiction has its own rules of genre and that you will need to research carefully if you set your book in an earlier era. Crime is not just about the crime-its about place and person and atmosphere. Readers know their genre and know what they expect.

 

Apart from the informative talks, it’s the mix and mingling which contributes to your learning. You find out which contests are worth entering or which publisher is accepting submissions, as well as learning of less than stellar experiences with editors and publishers. Sadly, every business has its sharks

 

  1. Connection. Writing can be a lonely business. Just you alone in front of the screen talking to your imaginary people. To write about life you need to live it. An event is an opportunity to meet people- to talk, to laugh, to share. Even if you are writing futuristic fantasy – there has to be something that resonates with your human readers.

 

Be friendly and approachable you never know who you will meet.

3 Encouragement. Hearing success stories boosts your morale and your intentions to do more and to be more. You realise these people faced daily challenges too, such as carving out time to write, battling self – doubt, taking children to school, or even working full time. They have dared to follow their dream and you can too.

For me the most encouraging and inspiring presentation was that of Josh Langley, talking about ‘Finding your Creative Mojo.’ He developed this talk from his book fo the same name and geared it specifically for writers. He’s living the life he once dreamt about and shared how as a double high school dropout he achieved his dreams. We laughed, we empathised and we came away  engaged and inspired.

41453694

Not officially billed ,but as much a part of the presentation was Andy Macleod. Josh’s long-time life partner, business partner and friend. When he spoke about going to university as a mature aged student, I really connected. It’s what I have done, and I found it a life-changing experience. The courses I took opened my mind and gave me the tools to express myself.

Andy’s quote  from Joseph Campbell has stayed with me

‘The cave you fear to enter has the treasure that you seek.’

woman standing inside cave
The cave we fear to enter

Finding your creative spark is all about ignoring the inner voice, the critic, and entering that cave.

 

4 Visibility.

Attending events reinforces your sense of identity as a writer. You have found your tribe. Others recognise you, ask about your work, talk about theirs. You may make a connection that lasts a lifetime or find a critique partner to exchange work with. By being visible you remind others of your presence and your work. This may lead to other opportunities to collaborate with someone, to speak on a panel, or to give an author talk Equally importantly you can share any information you have gained along the way with less experienced writers. Be generous, remember who helped you and thank them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing the credit.

All creative people know that getting your name ‘out there’ isn’t easy. So it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge Seth Macey, the talented photographer who generously gave me permission to use this image.

You can find more of Seth’s work on Unsplash.

Unsplash woamn holdign clok by Seth Macey
The beautiful picture is by Seth Macey

Guest Post – Questions for P.L.Harris – a.ka. Polly Holmes.

Today it is my pleasure to welcome P.L. Harris and her alter-ego Polly Holmes to chat with us about her writing journey. We first met at a book launch and I asked her if at some point she would be a guest on my blog. She is a busy and versatile writer who writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense as well as cosy mysteries. She also holds down a fulltime job as a teacher so her time is pretty full.

Peta Flanigan - P.L Harris
Author.P.L.Harris

What is your latest book about?

My latest book is the first in my Burrum Ridge romantic suspense series, In His Protection. It follows Melody Maddison as she discovers an old photo of her mother with a newborn baby that is neither her, nor her siblings. While she’ll do anything to uncover the truth, someone is willing to go to whatever lengths to keep the truth the secret, even if it means silencing Melody for good.

What inspired it? This book, in fact, the series, is inspired by my niece Kara-Lee through a brainstorming session about two years ago while visiting the Hot Springs at Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne. She asked me, what if you found a photo of Grandma (my mother) with a baby you know nothing about, what would you do?It kind of went from there and it has turned into a series of six books, one for each of the siblings and I can’t wait to write them.

InHisProtection (1)

 

Who is the main character?

My heroine is Melody Maddison. Her mother past away when she was 26 and she has been travelling for 2 years trying to deal with the loss leaving her sister Riley to pick up the pieces. Now she’s 28 and returned home to help her sister sort their mother’s possessions.

My hero is Noah St. Reeve. Noah has been working in Perth and decided to start his own security and protection business, but unsure where to base it. Seeing Melody almost run down by a car cements in his mind his course. To protect her at all costs.

Why should we care about them?

Everyone has a secret, and for Melody finding out the secret behind the photo may lead her to a long lost sibling. If she can uncover the secret she’ll be able to share with them how wonderful her mother really was. We want to find out who the baby is, for Melody’s sake. We want to know if Noah will be able to save her in time and most of all if Melody has the willpower and strength to save her own life in the face of danger.

person having tea while working
Often a love of reading leads to writing.

Did you always want to write?

I loved reading and writing stories, but no I never thought I was good enough to write a story that could be published. I loved to make up stories in my younger days. My imagination would always be racing ahead of me. I loved being in a world of make-believe, maybe that’s why I went into the theatre and became a director and drama teacher. A few years ago, I took some time out for me and I started reading again and I realised I could forget the worries of the world for that moment while I was immersed in the story.

 

Which books did you love as a child?

woman and a girl on bed holding a book
A love of reading begins in childhood

Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams romances were my all-time favourite books to read when I was growing up and I still have most of them today. I loved Nancy Drew, I suppose that is why I love writing mystery novels. Also, Enid Blyton’s the Wishing Chair.

You write in several genes Contemporary romance and Amateur Sleuths or cosy mysteries – was that deliberate choice or do you just have so many ideas? Which came first?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, I kind of stumbled into it. I always wanted to write contemporary romance and I knew I wanted to have drama and suspense in them. So I started writing contemporary romance first. I also knew it was a way for me to deal with certain things going on in my personal life and I could express it through my characters. I suppose you could say it was a kind of therapy.

Then when I was looking for a cover for Callie’s Dilemma I stumbled across Mariah Sinclair’s website where I did indeed find the cover, but also stumbled across the cupcake capers cozy covers and that was it I was hooked. I ended up buying 13 covers but had no idea what a cozy was. Crazy I hear you say. Yep, totally.

Cupcakes
Can you see why Polly Holmes fell in love with this cover?

 

In His Protection went on hold and I had to research the genre. What it was, what you can and can’t do, it was a whole new world. Then I posted on Amazon the dates I was releasing them in 2018. Why I did that I have no idea because it put me under so much pressure to get them out on time and at the same time I was staging the musical Lion King Jr at school.

In the end, it was a huge learning curve, but it also helped me realise that I love writing cozies and also romantic suspense.

Research into each writing style is the key. Know what the readers want and deliver. I had an email from a lady who loved my book but wanted a recipe in the back like everyone else does.

I do have to try and turn off one genre when I am writing another and that’s where my planning comes it. I love to plan my novel out.

 

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Never give up no matter how much you feel like it.

questions answers signage
Asking for advice can bring positive results.

What is the worst? I’m not sure I have had any bad advice. It’s about knowing which bit of advice to take that will work for you and which bits to leave behind.

 

If you were starting now would you do anything differently?

I would definitely have learnt more about the self-promotion, social media side of the industry right from the start and started that much, much earlier. Follow the experts. If they have tried something and it didn’t work, think carefully if you are going to follow in their footsteps. I would have created another pen name for my different genres, which I have now done, but a year after the first cozy publication. Look out for Polly Holmes in the cozy mystery genre.

You sound incredibly busy how do you manage to fit it all in?

81c2-WudiPL._SY600_
Polly Holmes.

Sometimes, I don’t fit it all in. Although I work full-time, I want to write and I can’t let my busy schedule stop me. It’s something that I can do for me, something that makes me happy (When it’s all going to plan) I do have to try and prioritise especially around the busy times at school like exams and reporting time. Sometimes I am guilty of putting things in the too hard basket and then I feel guilty so out they come and I persist until I achieve it.

Often I ask myself is it worth it? The answer always turns out to be yes. In the long run, I know that I will succeed if I persist. Take the good with the bad and there is always more good than bad.

How long have you been published and how are you so prolific?

I have been published 2 years now and self-published 18 months. I think the key is persistence and learning as you go. You can’t get everything right the first time, but learning from mistakes allows you to improve the next time. Knowing what you want and setting the intention to achieve it.

 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

person holding round smiling emoji board photo
What makes you smile?

That is a hard one and I’m not sure if they are fun facts. I love old musicals and sometimes I wish I was born back when Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Ann Miller and the greats were around. Even though I can’t sing it doesn’t stop me from having a go when a great tune comes on.

If I hear music with a good beat, I have to dance no matter where I am. It’s in my blood.

I’m addicted to most reality TV especially House Rules, MKR, Masterchef. I know, it’s very bad.

It has been great learning more about your writing journey- thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Book links:

https://www.amazon.com.au/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7

https://www.amazon.com/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7

 

 

Hello to my 9,000 WordPress Subscribers!

Lovely surprise to find my little blog mentioned here.Thank you Milly

The Cat's Write

I never thought we would get here, but somehow, over the last three and a half years, this little blog has made 9,000 friends along the way! As always, thank you so much for sticking around and having so much faith in me, even during the (many) times I disappear for extended blog siestas!

That number, besides being absolutely mind-shattering, also generates a considerable amount of… apprehension? Throwing blogs out into the blogosphere without much thought has traditionally been my modus operandi. Don’t get me wrong, I do put a bit of brainwork into composing my posts, just not into how many people are actually reading.

Not unsurprisingly, my ‘throwing’ has stalled to some degree. When 9,000 people are reading your words (okay, more like 10% of that number), it makes for a tough time pressing the ‘publish’ button!

It’s like… stage fright.

animal-animal-photography-cat-96938.jpg

But let’s not get into all that right…

View original post 833 more words

What did I read in April 2019?

I just love libraries! My local library is hardly ever without some books on so many varied topics. A refuge for study, a place for talks and writing groups and so much community involvement.

full length of man sitting on floor
All ages can enjoy the library.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely  Fine by Gail Honeyman

Elanor

I had heard so much about this book and wondered could any book live up to the hype? My answer is yes, it could and did. It is such a compelling book, one which asks us to consider all those people we have ignored because they are too weird. Eleanor lives a restricted life and one that she thinks keeps her safe. Nine years in the same job following the same routine.Predictable, safe. Small changes lead to bigger ones as Eleanor’ s story is gradually and sensitively revealed. By the end of the book, I was cheering her on hoping for a  realistic yet happy ending. Reminiscent of The Rosie Project and The Dog in The Night time and yet uniquely Eleanor’s story  Five stars from me.

41453694

Find Your Creative Mojo by Josh Langley.

An encouraging and inspiring book. One that really explores our doubts and resistance to  thinking of ourselves as ‘creative.’ Sure to make you think. It made me happy just to read it.

The French Photographer by Natasha Lester.

French

Hard to fault this book both for its storyline and for its characters. It’s an ambitious undertaking that Natasha Lester pulls off with seeming ease. Meticulously researched as always, but Natasha Lester breathes life into the research, enabling the reader to see and hear and feel what her characters experience. The condescension and misogyny that the women experienced are hard to take, but older readers will know that it has not been exaggerated Life was like that in the not too distant past. Of course, not all the men were like that And Jessie May finds her own real-life hero in Dan.

The Lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley.

Lemon Tree Cafe.jpg

An author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad that I did. The lemon tree café serves up a menu of food, friendships, family and secrets. Rosie’s darling Italian Nonna is reluctant to admit that she needs help, and Rosie isn’t above subterfuge to give her the help she needs. A problematic relationship from the past connects them more than they know. And it’s a fight to get to happily ever after.

The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion.

I am sure that my enjoyment of this book would have been enhanced if I had known thatHouse of Second chances was following on from her previous book Leaving Ocean Road. In spite of being occasionally baffled by the large cast of characters and family relationships, I enjoyed reading it.

Horrible Histories- Vicious Vikings by Terry Deary &  Illustrated by Martin Brown

Vicious Vikings

Easy to read, lots of fun and a palatable way to get facts. Never discount children’s books!

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Lethal White

This is a book that demands commitment at 640+ pages, and it is a hefty tome to hold, while you are reading it.  A good one to get on Kindle perhaps? I was never bored, sometimes confused, enraged, amused or trying to work out the plot. The book starting at Robin and Matthew’s wedding kept continuity, although I really didn’t want the wedding to happen. I didn’t warm to Matthew and I was waiting for his comeuppance. I found the emerging relationship, comradeship, whatever you’d call it, between Strike and Robin, at least as compelling as the central mystery. And yes. I am looking forward to the next instalment

Midnight At The Bright Ideas Book Shop by Matthew Sullivan

 

Midnigth at the bright idea book shop.

Like many book lovers, I enjoy reading about books and bookshops, so when this popped up in my library feed I requested it. At times it is a deeply disturbing read, which kept me intrigued.  It is both gritty and sad I haven’t read another book like it. It kept me metaphorically on the edge of my seat. A complex layered story and the ore you read the more involved you become. Lydia’s story forms the backdrop and as we learn more about her and her past, aspects of the story in the present become clearer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th April 2019 is National Pet Day. So Let Me Introduce My Two Cats

 

Studious Annabelle
Annabelle on the windowsill of my office as a kitten

As those of you who live with cats will understand cats rarely do anything they don’t want to. So today was quite a special day for me. We currently have two cats Annabelle, a tortoiseshell also known as ‘the aloof one’ and Alexei, mainly white with grey markings, ‘the friendly one.’

We have had them both since they were eight-week-old kittens, we’ve treated them the same, but they could not be more different in temperament and personality.

Alexei as akitten
Alexei was a very cute kitten

Annabelle is elusive, shy,  a shadow of a cat, who then demands to come into our bedroom and sleep with us.

Alexei is relaxed, friendly, laid back he will bound onto a vacant knee sure of a welcome and lie back in my arms like a baby.

Alexei asleep.
He’s one laid back cat.

Today, after almost ten years together Annabelle decide she liked me. When  I journal each morning, she keeps me company, usually at arm’s length but present.

When I am allowed to, I stroke her ears and tell her how pretty she is. Her green eyes survey me with an amused detachment as she takes this praise as her due.

Today, I was bumbling about doing the early morning chores when she stopped and meowed. Did she want to go out? I opened the door, but she did  not follow. Instead, she stood squarely in the doorway to the room where I sit to write in my journal and meowed again. A royal command! She wanted my company.

Annabelle now
Can you resist those green eyes?

I settled down to write and felt her head bump my hand, Annabelle wanted a stroke, she wanted attention. I held my breath as she put two paws on my knee and started to knead. Her purr was loud as I stroked and complimented her- and then elusive as ever she was gone.

I’d love to see your pets- I do like dogs too, but at this stage its more practical to have cats

Did You Know That Reviews Are Really Helpful to Authors?

45218600647f1465021532-Untitled-1
Writers love readers who review their books!

Reviews are especially important to new authors, but I know we are all busy and don’t have a lot of time.

With that in mind, I have created a blueprint of how to write a quick review. Of course, your own words and honest opinions are welcome.

                wooden desk with books on top

Even famous authors began by writing just one book

How to Write a Quick Book Review.

Book reviews don’t have to be long and complicated, and reviews on Amazon, Good reads* or even sent to the publisher or author are really helpful.

Good reads are a Free online book lovers recommendation forum-It’s easy to join and helps you keep track of which books you have read.

How to use this form just use one or two sentences to say how you felt about the book, or of course add your own thoughts.

brown notebook in between of a type writer and gray and black camera
Reviews don’t have to be long and complicated.

Example  Fire & Ice by Sonia Bellhouse, told a good story.

The Book Was….enjoyable, easy to read, exciting, heartfelt, romantic, told a good story, I liked it. A real page-turner.Wasn’t my kind of book.

The Character (s) I liked best -Blaise Daniels, Kristoffer Eriksen, Saga, Trygve, someone else.

The Things in the Story I Liked. It was set somewhere different(Norway) It included Ice dancing. It had a parallel storyline. It had Vikings. Two different romances. It featured an Australian. I  learned about another culture and customs. It wasn’t a long book

Things I didn’t like…..

 

You get the idea and now to show I practise what I preach here are my March Book reviews

Summer of Love by Kate FfordeSummer of Love

An easy to read second chance at love story. engaging characters and an amusing plot. Super beach read.

The Single Ladies of  Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.Jacaranda

Bette Davis famously said ‘old age ain’t for sissies’  but the people of Jacaranda retirement village have sunk into a torpor, thinking that doctors’ appointments and communal singing are all they have to look forward to.

When glamorous Angela Valentine joins the community, she ruffles a few feathers and unexpectedly befriends and mentors old school chum Peggy Smart. Suddenly there is more excitement in the air and a sense of optimism, the residents are not done with living yet.

The House of New Beginnings by Lucy DiamondThe House

Three women all at turning points in their lives are new tenants at 11 Dukes Square in Brighton. Each has a problem or secret that had brought her there. Rosa is embarking on a career change, but there is more to her story than that. Charlotte is dealing with loss and trying to remain disengaged from life. Georgia has followed her boyfriend Simon down to Brighton and now he seems to have no time for her, so she embarks on a new career path. Each story unfolds gradually and is told with warmth and humour,  you will feel like you know these women and want them to succeed.

55 Underemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White

55 underemployed

The book is geared to American readers and suggests a much larger retirement and pre-retirement crisis is looming. Anyone in the USA could benefit from reading this book – not so much for me here in Australia. The take-home message society has changed, what you expected may not happen, and it’s wise to be prepared. It is not your fault that companies, downsize and that ageism is a barrier to employment as you get older.

The Cottage  at Rosella Cove by Sandie Docker

I enjoyed this book and found Nicole’s predicament with her controlling fiance believable and relatable. I cheered her on when she left to start her new life in Rosella Cove. There was a hint of intrigue which interested me. The way the story from the past intertwined with the present was plausible and added depth.

Charlie the irascible old man from the boathouse was one of my favourite characters. Also, like the gently unfolding romance. It was a believable and moving read. One thing bothered me that there was no conclusion with her relationship with Jane, but life is often like that.

The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling.

The Little Bookshop of Lonely hearts
This gorgeous cover was so appealing

An interesting premise, after all, what book lover doesn’t love bookshops?
Many people dream of being left a bookshop. I enjoyed Posy’s plans to transform the bookshop she had grown up in. Her subterfuge to keep Sebastian ‘the rudest man in London’ in the dark as to her actual plans was amusing. He’s not the most appealing of heroes as he’s so dismissive of her plans and opinions. I Know that she does eventually stand up to him, but it seems a very unequal relationship.
While the addition of the secondary narrative Ravished by the Rake, was both an homage to Georgette Heyer and an insight into Posy’s subconscious. Personally, I found it distracting and the font harder to read. This is the beginning of a planned series.

  Missing a Mother

Mothers Day prompted this reflection.                        Child and Mother

 

I had a mother, so this is not the plea of an orphan or abandoned child. But so much that is said about mothers leaves me out of the dialogue. I feel isolated, alone and saddened. I want to say you are lucky to have a loving mother but please do not assume all mothers are the same or that I am mistaken when I tell you about mine.

My mother was distant and distracted and uninvolved with me. I wasn’t physically abused or harmed. I was fed and clothed, all that was lacking was love. I can’t remember ever being hugged or told that she was proud of me.

Perhaps it was that she came to motherhood late at the age of thirty-nine or that I was an accident. I can remember her once telling me ‘ I never wanted children.’Those words ate away at me, she hadn’t qualified them with’ of course now you are here, we are happy to have you.’ They pain me still.

I knew my dad loved me and was proud of me, he was the one who said ‘goodnight’ and tucked me up in bed. Maybe mum suffered from postnatal depression?  In that case, it lasted years. I can remember we had an aunt-my mother’s sister come and stay with us for a while.

I tried everything to please mum, my stories were for her, the flowers I picked were for her.

bouquet bunch of flowers flowers holding
Bunch of wildflowers

One birthday I must have been about eight I spent my entire birthday money on a brass ornament for her, as she collected them. She smiled and put it to one side.

Nothing worked, I realised you can’t force someone to love you, in the end, I gave up. When my mother died six years after my father,  I mourned her of course I did. But it wasn’t with a sense of devastating loss, because she had never really ever been there.

 

Meet- Author, Editor, Speaker – Teena Raffa Mulligan.

Writers talking about their writing. I am delighted to welcome author, editor , speaker . Teena Raffa Mulligan to tell us about her writing.

Teena Raffa Mulligan

1. As someone who writes both for children and adults how do you switch between the two?

I’ve always written in different styles and genres, whether poetry and fiction for adults and children or the diverse range of non-fiction I worked on during my years in journalism. It’s not a conscious intention to shift focus, so perhaps I do it instinctively. My voice doesn’t really change from one area of writing to the next, only the subject matter.

2 Do you work on more than one title at once?

Always! I am so impressed by writers who can focus on one project until it’s complete. I’m too much like a butterfly in the garden, flitting from flower to flower. In my case it’s going from one idea to another. I write whatever is in my mind at the time, so it might be a fragment of poetry, sections of a picture book, scenes from a short story or novel. The process works brilliantly for short things because I complete them quite quickly, especially if an idea takes hold and over a period of a few days won’t leave me alone. It’s an incredibly inefficient way to write novels, though, because I take such a long time to get to The End.

A question that need answering

3 You are a hybrid author- that is you are both traditionally published and self-published- what do you find are the benefits and pitfalls of each approach?

Ah! The big question. My preference as an author is to have a publisher pick up my manuscripts. The key benefit is being confident they know their business and will do the best they can to make my book a success. There is also still quite a widespread community perception that being published by a ‘proper’ publisher means you are a ‘real’ writer. Being published by one of the big publishers can open up opportunities that are less likely to be offered to self-publishers.

This title is popular with schools

As a self-publisher, I am a small business owner, responsible for every aspect from actual book production to admin, distribution, sales and marketing. My strength is in coming up with ideas and writing stories. To be a really successful self-publisher, you have to be a savvy business person and I don’t see myself wearing that role very well. I am learning but of course while I am reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts and attending workshops about all the aspects of being a self-publisher I need to know, I am not writing. However, I love creating books and I have a number of unpublished manuscripts on file that I would like to see in print. The big plus of self-publishing is the control I have, the ease of print on demand production and how quickly I can release a book onto the market.

The Apostrophe Posse is an adventure story about a group of children whose good intentions create chaos in their small community.
 

That leads me to the biggest downside of traditional publishing. It can take a long time to find a traditional publisher, sometimes years. Even though I have had a dozen books published through traditional publishing, I still get more rejections than acceptances. It’s a competitive market. Even when I do get a manuscript picked up, there is usually another long wait between signing the contract and celebrating the book’s release.

With illustrated books I often have no input into the illustrations and in some cases don’t see finished artwork until the book is released. Some of the newer small publishers such as Serenity Press and Daisy Lane Publishing do encourage author and illustrator input or collaboration and that’s a bonus.

Then there’s the financial aspect. Unless your book happens to be a runaway best seller, there’s no point thinking of giving up the day job. The standard 10 per cent royalty on a recommended retail price (RRP) of 15.50 is only $1.55 per book sold. In some cases if it’s a picture book, that 10 per cent is split between the author and illustrator, so only five per cent each. Print runs in Australia are often small and many publishers don’t offer an advance. Children’s authors in particular usually rely on payments for author talks and workshops, plus the annual education and public lending rights payments to supplement income from royalties, whereas indie authors who promote themselves and their titles well can make a decent living from their writing.

 4 If you were starting now would you still be a hybrid author or would you choose one approach over the other?

I began submitting to publishers in the 1970s when the world of publishing was vastly different. It wasn’t as easy or affordable for authors to publish their own work, plus there was such a stigma about self-publishing, which was widely considered a vanity option for writers who weren’t good enough to get a contract. I wanted to be taken seriously as an author. I still do and like it or not, self-published authors are still seen as second best in some sectors of the industry.

I ventured into self-publishing because my stranger danger picture book was long out of print but I was still reading it during school visits and being asked by parents and teachers where they could get a copy. It seemed like a good idea to produce a new edition so I did. At the time I only intended to self-publish that one book but the changes in the publishing industry and the introduction of new technology led me to rethink that decision. Meeting the inspirational Karen McDermott of Serenity Press and Making Magic Happen Academy came at the right time and motivated me to stop thinking about publishing my own books and do it.

However, to answer your question, if I were starting now I would still choose to try for a traditional publishing contract first, with self-publishing as a backup option.

5. How do you capture your ideas?

Usually with pen and paper initially. I only go to the computer when I have something to get me started, even if it’s just the opening paragraph, a conversation or a scene. I keep notebooks and pens handy…though sometimes I leave the notebook from my handbag on my computer desk when I’ve been working from it. I have used napkins in a café to capture my idea, the back of shopping dockets, in fact anything I can write on. 

 6. What are you working on now?

I am writing a quirky story for young readers about a kid who hires a parent tamer. At first Talibut Vish looks like he will be the solution to Mike’s out of control mum and dad but the stranger’s special powers only escalate the chaos in his life. It’s a fun story but because I’m not a planner I get so far then don’t know what happens next. That’s when I go back to the short romance I’m writing for an anthology. It features a gorgeous Labrador with serious anxiety issues…and a mismatched couple, of course.

 

7 Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write in the way that works best for you. If that means having a nine to five working day five days a week and planning every aspect of your novel before you start writing, then do that. If your creativity works best with an unstructured, fluid approach, embrace it. After all, would you go for a long walk in a pair of shoes that didn’t fit? It’s difficult in this era of social media, but try to avoid measuring your productivity and achievements as a writer against anyone else’s. The creative spirit is sensitive — it needs a positive environment to flourish, so be gentle with yourself. Explore where your writing takes you and enjoy the journey.  

Bio: Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena writes across genres and her publications include poetry and short stories for children and adults, picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels and romances. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

Teena’s February release is a lively collection of poems that  encourages young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words. Funny, thoughtful, silly and serious, Sleepy Socks and Sometime Rhymes is a celebration of the everyday and the imaginary. It is ideal for home or classroom, for sharing or for quiet moments curled up in a comfy chair.

It is available from

https://www.amazon.com/Sleepy-Socks-Sometime-Rhymes-Classroom/dp/0648250385/

Website: www.teenaraffamulligan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan

Blog: https://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com