What Did I Read In July 2020?

There were three categories of books this month.

content young woman using laptop in modern living room
July was a bumper month for reading.

First, because you can never learn too much about the craft, books about writing. Next, books that the library sent in its bookbag selection. Finally, my personal choices.

Books about writing

Successful Indie Authorship by Craig Martell.

Indie Aurhor

Demystifying the tangled web of self-publishing to put you on the road to success.
This is a motivational guide based on my two and a half million published words (mostly with Amazon) to help you see past the hurdles that are keeping you from climbing the mountain of success. Nothing is overwhelming once it’s been explained. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do everything else needed to make your indie author business a success.

 My review. I have this on Kindle, and I wish I had it in paperback as well. It’s a book I expect to refer to again and again. It may look like I’m stuck at 78% read, but that because there is a useful appendix recapping all the recommendations, and I want to keep referring to it.

Write to Market by  Chris Fox.

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Have you written a book that just isn’t selling? Would you like to write a book that readers eagerly devour?
Many authors write, then market. Successful authors write TO market. They start by figuring out how to give readers what they want, and that process begins before writing word one of your novel.
This book will teach you to analyse your favourite genre to discover what readers are buying, to mine reviews for reader expectations, and to nail the tropes your readers subconsciously crave.
Don’t leave the success of your novel up to chance. Deliver the kind of book that will have your fans hounding you for the next one.

My review. With a premise like that what writer wouldn’t want to read it? Encouraging and definitely worth considering the marketability of your book.

The Library Bag Selections

Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson

Ravenscliffe

For fans of Downton Abbey . . . The peaceful beauty of the English countryside belies the turmoil of forbidden love and the apprehension of a changing world for the families of Netherwood
Yorkshire, 1904. On Netherwood Common, Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich shows her dear friend Eve Williams a gracious Victorian villa—Ravenscliffe—the house Anna wants them to live in. There’s a garden and a yard and room enough for their children to play and grow.
Something about the house speaks to Anna, and you should listen to a house, she believes…Ravenscliffe holds the promise of happiness.
Across the square, Clarissa and her husband, the Earl of Netherwood, are preparing for King Edward’s visit. Clarissa is determined to have everything in top shape at Netherwood Hall—in spite of the indolent heir to the estate, Tobias, and his American bride—and much of it depends on the work going on downstairs as the loyal servants strive to preserve the noble family’s dignity and reputation.
As Anna restores Ravenscliffe to its full grandeur, she strikes up a relationship with hardworking Amos Sykes—who proposed to Eve just one year ago.
But when Eve’s long-lost brother Silas turns up in their close-knit mining community, cracks begin to appear in even the strongest friendships.
As change comes to the small town and society at large, the residents of Netherwood must find their footing or lose their place altogether.

My review. This is the second book following on from Netherwood which I read last month. Fortunately, I had bought it but hadn’t read it-  and of course,I wanted to read it before reading Ravenscliffe.  I am glad I did, as this second book made more sense after reading it.

Life is changing for the families, upstairs in Lord Netherwood’s household, his heir Tobias has no intention of taking his position or his responsibilities seriously. His sister, Henrietta, would be an exemplary heir, but she’s female. A couple of major events alter everyone’s plans. Eve Williams has gained status and the family has moved to a bigger house called Ravenscliffe. Anna, the Russian emigre was the mover in this, and she plays a more substantial part in this story. Some of the stories engaged me and other parts I found dull. Primarily concerning Amos and politics, although some of the mining information also felt a bit laboured to me. The standout for me was the emergence and transformation of Anna. I know there is a third book in the series, but I doubt I will read it.

Don’t  Go by Lisa Scottoline.

Dont GO.

When Dr Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer.
However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home

My Review I would never have chosen this book for myself but decided to give it a go. Let me say at the onset it’s not for the faint-hearted as surgical procedures are explained in detail. At first, I thought that might be overdone but as the book continued I realised the relevance of Mike’s experiences to his handling of events stateside. He’s now a sole parent and has dual responsibilities to his surgical team and patients and his daughter. It’s a combination of murder mystery and legal procedural and deals with how good people can be torn apart by events.

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo.

Morethen Wrds

From the New York Times, bestselling author of The Light We Lost comes a tender and moving new novel about a woman at a crossroads after the death of her father and caught between the love of two men.

Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter, a good girlfriend. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, after her mother’s death, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And her boyfriend Tim, thoughtful, kind, and honest, not to mention her best friend since childhood, feels the same. But after Nina’s father passes away, she learns he may not have practised what he preached.
As her world falls apart, Nina begins to question everything she thought she knew and to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her handsome and attentive boss, Rafael–in a new light. Soon Nina finds herself caught between the world she knows and loves and a passion that could upend everything.
More than Words is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live.

My Review Having never heard of the author I did not expect anything of the book, but it resonated with me and I raced through it.  In part, I suspect that as an only daughter I understood Nina’s wish to pleas her father. Nina is her father’s daughter, her choices modelled on what he would approve of. Her life is already mapped out for her, a suitable boyfriend, marriage and maintaining the Gregory hotel and its and her reputation. She is almost sleepwalking through life when Rafael her charismatic boss, makes her look again at all she has. Then her father’ s death disrupts her carefully planned life. Will she continue down the same path or is there another, better way forward?

Personal Choices. Hemlock and Hedge: The Witches of Wormwood Prequel

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Only a witch would poison a cake. And only another witch would blackmail the poisoner.

Hazel Salem is the family disappointment. She isn’t a witch.
She doesn’t believe in magic. And she definitely doesn’t want a black cat for a pet.
But when she discovers an unsolved mystery amongst her inheritance, she is forced to accept that ignoring her heritage is no longer an option.
Hazel is determined to reveal a secret that’s stayed hidden for years.

But the witches of Wormwood have other ideas…

My Review. I enjoyed this prequel, so much so that I bought the first five books in the series. Several things appealed to me. Firstly, the English setting, then the fact that Hazel had no idea she was a witch or had abilities and the brilliant addition of Hemlock, a black cat with catattitude.

The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll.

Primrose square Secrets

There are so many stories hidden behind closed doors . . .

It’s late at night and the rain is pouring down on the Dublin city streets. A mother is grieving for her dead child. She stands silently outside the home of the teenage boy she believes responsible. She watches . . .

In a kitchen on the same square, a girl waits anxiously for her mum to come home. She knows exactly where she is, but she knows she cannot reach her.

A few doors down and a widow sits alone in her room. She has just delivered a bombshell to her family during dinner and her life is about to change forever.

And an aspiring theatre director has just moved into a flat across the street. Her landlord is absent, but there are already things about him that don’t quite add up . . .

Welcome to Primrose Square.

My review

All you would expect from an Irish writer in the Maeve Binchy tradition. The book has heart. The women who are the inhabitants of Primrose Square are dealing with a variety of changes and secrets, Nancy who has escaped her past London life. Melissa a girl whose life has changed dramatically and whose mother is barely hanging on. Susan, her mother who is obsessed with loss. Jayne, who lives her life in the past talking to Tom her deceased husband.

New Witch on the Block by Louisa West.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

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A fun start to a new series.

My review.

A fun beginning to what promises to be an entertaining new series. I had this book on pre-order, so it was immediately available on release day on my Kindle. The town of Mosswood is a retreat for Rosie and her daughter Maggie, after packing up and leaving everything behind to start again. However, it’s not as straightforward as she might have hoped. Her rental is an almost derelict cottage and her nearest neighbour, Declan has some strange ideas about who she is and what they might accomplish together. After leaving her vicious and controlling ex Rose isn’t ready to get inv.oved with anyone, let alone this hunky Irishman.  I predict some fun and exciting times ahead and I am looking forward to reading book two, Jealousy A Bitch, which is due in September.

The Book of Spells and Such by Jacquie Underdown

The Book of spells and such

When destiny knocks, do you invite it in?

When a spell book lands on Ariana’s doorstep, her world is thrown into turmoil. That’s nothing new for her, except this time it involves bizarre and terrifying creatures who attempt to kill her. Then there’s a little fact that she now has the ability to perform magic.
Hadeon is another new addition in her life. He happened to drop in at the same time the spell book appeared. He’s dark, sexy, and mysterious as hell, and Ariana doesn’t know if she wants to kill him or love him.
But all this chaos is nothing compared to what destiny has in store for her. A future is promised of royalty and immense power, palaces and undying love. But hers is a destiny that is not easily won. She will have to fight to the death against those who want to take it all for themselves. And when the real battle begins, just who the true enemy is will surprise everyone.

My review. Expecting a magical story, I was slightly confused as the story began in the rather sleazy everyday world. In fact, I almost gave up, but I am glad that I persevered. Ariana had no one to turn to as she grew up. She has been treated badly almost her whole life, so she has trust issues. Hadeon could be her protector or her worst nightmare, but she has to trust someone when life takes a totally unexpected turn. To me, a part of the story read like a modern fairy-tale and had some unique magical touches. I am happy I continued to read this book.

 Subterranean by B Michael Radburn.

cover Subterreanean

 

‘The past is my shadow, forever behind me.’

Cassie Belrose was used to looking over her shoulder. Running away was what she did best – away from a possessive husband who wants her back, running from city to city, from job to job, to stay one step ahead of him.

Daniel Woodsman is at home in the dark; in the abandoned railway tunnels below the city where the homeless veteran has built his life since his injuries had taken away more than just his confidence.

Fleeing the Suits dispatched by her husband to bring her home, Cassie enters Daniel’s domain in the subway where their two worlds collide.

Together, can they stop running long enough to begin living again?

My Review.

A fast-paced and immensely readable story that kept me hooked. The story is prefaced and concluded by a charming allegorical fairy-tale. Cassie is a totally relatable character, as is Daniel. He is both an enigmatic and interesting character who we gradually come to understand. There is enough gritty realism to make the story authentic. It makes one think about the fate of those veterans traumatised by their service. I was provided with a free copy of the book by the publisher but was not obligated to write a review.

The Witches of Wormwood Mysteries: Books 1 – 5 A thrilling and funny British witch cozy mystery series, packed with magic, cats, and murder! Perfect for fans of Agatha Raisin and Amanda M. Lee.

Not many people move to Wormwood. The witches aren’t welcoming.
The fortune tellers are frauds. And the recent murder is only going to make things worse.
Hazel Salem just wanted a story for her magazine. Instead, she finds herself at the centre of an investigation that’s about to turn into a witch hunt.

If someone doesn’t solve this murder – and fast – it will be out of the cauldron and into the fire for Wormwood’s witches.

Although I bought this as a boxed set I will be reviewing the books individually.

Mandrake And Murder by  Silver Nord.Mandrake & Murder

 

My Review. Hazel has returned to Wormwood, after the death of her mother to run the failing apothecary shop. Profits are abysmal and so is her reputation. Wormwood is a community divided between those who are magical and ordinary folk who have no idea that anything is unusual. Hazel senses she is an object of scorn as a supposed witch who can’t do magic. Two women who say they are her aunts arrive and reassure her that late-blooming magic could be powerful. When Wormwood has a murder, the first in hundred years everyone in town magical or not is on edge. To make matter worse there are some clues that it could be concerned with magic. Hazel hits on the idea of producing a free local magazine. It’s the perfect opportunity for her to ask questions. D.C. I. Admiral is also investigating and despite an initial speak between them, he doesn’t require any help. Jealously,  fake fortune-tellers and hexes add to the fun.

Vervain and a Victim by Silver Nord.

Vervain and avvictim

A cauldron, a coin, and a corpse.
Three things that don’t belong in the woods.
The man standing over the body shouldn’t be there either, but when Hazel finds him with the victim, she suspects she’s already found the killer.

The only thing that keeps the prime suspect from being arrested is the absence of a murder weapon and a motive.

But in a town as weird as Wormwood, a motive for murder is only one dark secret away.

My Review. Wormwood hasn’t wholeheartedly welcomed Hazel. Although she is invited to join the coven, she suspects they are simply curious about her magical abilities. Her nemesis Natalia Gould is openly hostile. Another problem is she has now got a fake boyfriend, putting her at odds with his admirers. Her cat Hemlock seems to despise her and Jesse Heathen, the supposed detective has tried to charm her. All while murder has shaken the town and there is talk of vampires, the enemies of witches being seen in Wormwood. More fun and suspense, developing relationships and unanswered questions.

Meet Louisa West and her Series Starting with New Witch on The Block.

Hi, Louisa, Thank you for joining us – please tell us about your new book New Witch on the Block. I had it on pre-order so I got it on launch day and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s available online or as a paperback.

 

Louisa author photo
Louisa West.

Thanks so much for having me, Sonia! I’m so excited to share New Witch on the Block (or NWOTB for short!) with your readers. This is my debut novel and is all about a woman who takes a leap of faith in herself and saves her young daughter and herself from an abusive relationship. Starting over in a small town has its own challenges (nosy townsfolk, anyone?), but she sets her mind to making a new home there. When she meets a somewhat mysterious, hulking Irishman he helps her to discover things about herself and her past – not the least of which is that she’s actually an honest-to-goodness witch!

NWOTB-MIM1
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch-King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

NWOTB-MIM1-teaser3 (1)

And it’s going to be a series with the next one, Jealousy’s a Witch, due out in September .It is up for pre-order now.

You can bet that I have my copy already pre-ordered!

 First some quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings!

What’s for breakfast? Avocado on toast.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix – currently watching The Stranger.

G&T orTea/Coffee?  Coffee all the way.

Perfect weekend? Spending time with my family, probably baking.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer, or forensic psychologist. Studied both law and psychology – ended up working in public relations before transitioning to writing full time.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating? Tonight we’re going out for dinner (not sure where – it’s date night!), but last night we had chicken fettucini – one of my specialities. I love cooking and baking, and do it whenever possible. I would always rather be eating chocolate!

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Combining the passion of baking and chocolate, a chocolate cupcake.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. My daughter (who is ten). She’s just such a joy to be around and is always showing an inherent curiosity about the world around her. When I need smooches I go to my Great Dane. When I need cuddles, it’s my partner! Otherwise, I’m apt to pop on a period drama and soak myself in historical romanticism until I’m feeling back to my old self again.

Your hero? Jane Austen! Her wit, vivacity, and bravery in following her own path in life is a perfect model for any young woman in possession of several unwritten books in her head who is in want of a means of expressing herself.Regency Silhoutte - Pinterest

Oh, I love that! So well expressed.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Oh, these types of questions are always so tough! Jane Austen (she is my hero, after all!) for lively conversation and so that I can ask her all of the questions I have about her work, Keanu Reeves because I feel like he would very much appreciate meeting Jane, and my boyfriend Lindsay because we both love Jane and Keanu!

And a bonus question. Do you have a favourite screen version of Pride and Prejudice

BBC Pride and Prejudice
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth

Oh, that’s such a difficult question to answer! I can’t choose just one I will say that I love the 1995 BBC miniseries for its perfect casting, the vivacity of the characters and because Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are amazing together.

p7 p MovieBut I will add that the 2005 movie with Matthew McFadyen and Keira Knightley is also amazing for the beautiful sets that really highlight the reduced circumstances of the Bennet family, and the piano music throughout is sublime! 


My favourite Austen screen adaptation of all time is the 1996 version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow!! Everything about it is perfect!

Questions about Writing.

What inspired your new series? I’ve always loved stories about witches. My maternal line traces back to Romani Gypsy heritage, so it’s something that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I became a single mother I longed to move somewhere new and start fresh – even though it wasn’t possible for me at the time. So I thought about what would happen for a mother who could. What if she was an outcast in her new town? What if she was an outcast because she was a witch? It all stemmed from there, and Rosie found life inside my brain.

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Women of power have always been feared.

Why do you think that stories about witches resonate so strongly with women? There’s a strong undercurrent of sisterhood that flows through witch mythology. I think it calls to a lot of us on different levels, along with the themes it explores – feminine power, fighting to overcome oppression, otherworldliness, the idea that there’s a connection out there that’s altogether more primal than traditional religion.

Jealousy s a Witch
PREORDER AVAILABLE: AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088ZPMG7L

What time of the day do you usually write? I typically write from around 9am to about 11am – or through until lunch if I’m having a good day.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Plotting! Luckily I have an amazing editor (I call her The Plot Whisperer) and she’s incredibly talented at taking all of my many and varied ideas and helping me make sense of them.

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Louisa loves her Great Dane

 

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to writing. I get up early each morning, make breakfast, get my daughter off to school, and then sit down to write. I write around 2000 words a day or a little more if I can manage it, and once I feel my brain starting to liquefy inside my skull I move on to other duties. I do freelance graphic and web design work, so I usually do that in the afternoons, and then knock off around 3pm to spend time with my daughter, walk the dog, and cook dinner – all the fun things!

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I never sit down to write until I’ve had my second coffee of the day, and I always light a candle before I start, and blow it out when I’m done for the day.

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Coffee and chocolate!

Did you do any research about witches for your current book? No specific research. I’m really into reading about supernatural things (witches included) anyway. For this series so far I’m just drawing on my own knowledge bank and also inventing a lot of other stuff to go along with it. I want the magic in Mosswood to be unique to the series, so it’s peppered with a lot of different things from various types of lore.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? My favourite character in the series so far is Priscilla (Prissy), Bishop. She’s the wife of the pastor at the Hand of God Southern Baptist Church in Mosswood. She’s blonde and tiny, and she knows everyone’s business in the worst possible way. I’m currently planning her comeuppance, and I can’t wait.  Oh, I enjoyed reading about her – I shall look forward to that!

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I think it would depend on what sort of story they wanted to write! I absolutely think it’s possible to write a particular scene involving emotions that you don’t feel at the time of writing.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice I ever heard is to give myself permission to write the first draft before editing anything. The worst writing advice I ever got was from a very highly-regarded writing coach who told me to make the villain of my WIP at the time the son of my hero ala Star Wars. I didn’t. I think you were right, to follow your own instincts! 

Best money you have spent as a writer?

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Louisa loves her iPad

Buying my iPad. I use it only for writing, and have it set up with Scrivener (syncing directly to DropBox – no lost files here, thanks!). It’s got excellent battery life, the keyboard case I have for it is really comfortable, and it’s small enough that I can take it absolutely anywhere – to the park, to a cafe, camping – and still be able to smash out my daily word count.

Do you have a favourite author and why? My favourite contemporary author is a brand new author by the name of Kimberly Jaye. Her debut Regency romantic comedy novel, The Perfect Widow, is due out later this year and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for it! I’ve had the privilege of being in her writing circle for many years, and this book is going to be laugh-out-loud funny! My hot tip is that this is an author to watch – she’ll be taking the historical romance world by storm. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberlyjayeauthor) so that you don’t miss out on anything!

opened book near ceramic mug
Writers are always readers too.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I’m currently reading The Longing of Lone Wolves by WA-based author Lana Pecherczyk and a true-crime biography about serial killer Ted Bundy. Authors who have influenced my writing include David Eddings, Mary Janice Davidson, R.L. Stein, and Stephen King.

Favourite quote: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire. – Jane Austen

Favourite non-Austen book/story you have read as an adult? Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Thanks for being with us, Louisa, and lots of luck with your new series.

 

 

 

What Did I Read in June 2020 As Lockdown Continued?

June and my local library still wasn’t open, so I was still reading from my TBR pile and the books I had on my Kindle. Luckily, there was still plenty to choose from. However, the month was mainly devoted to reading about the craft of writing. I also read books for research, which were Viking romances. This was because I was submitting part of a Viking romance for consideration.  I also read one book from my To Be Read pile.

 

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Reading can take you anywhere

Take Off Your Pants ! by Libbie Hawker.

When it comes to writing books, are you a “plotter” or a “pantser?” Is one method really better than the other?

In this instructional ebook, author Libbie Hawker explains the benefits and technique of planning a story before you begin to write.

Take off your Pants

I have been hearing about this book for it seems like forever. As a confirmed ‘pantser’ I have always resisted the idea of outlining. However, I had a project that required me to submit a synopsis-awkward! So, I worked my way through this book, I found it helped and I made crucial scene cards. However, I used it in conjunction with The Virgin’s Promise as mine was a female orientated journey. This focusses heavily on The Hero’s Journey. Combing the two perspectives helped and gave me the tools to work out a solid synopsis.

Gotta Read it by Libbie Hawker.

Blurbs, product descriptions, query letters… no matter what you call them, they’re a chore to write. And yet the success of any novel can depend on its pitch. What’s an author to do?

Gotta Read it

Gotta Read It! The book is helpful and gives useful guidelines, as to how you can write compelling synopsis for your book. A job that most writers detest. I’m certain I will keep referring to it

Successful Self- Publishing by Joanna Penn.

Do you want to successfully self-publish?

There are thousands of new books being published every day, but many self-published books quickly sink to the bottom of the pile.

Many authors are frustrated because there are so many options for self-publishing, and they don’t know which one to choose or what will be best for their book.

Succesful Self publishing

An easy to understand and comprehensive review of the steps it takes to self- publish. Joanna Penn ( was there ever a more perfect name for an author?)has walked the walk and is now a successful author and speaker. She didn’t start that way, and she lets us know the mistakes and slip-ups that dogged her early attempts to publish. Encouraging and helpful.

 

Vikings by Ashe Barker prequel to Viking Surrender Series.

Vikings Viking surrender

A horde of battle-hardened, ferocious Nordic warriors.

A Pictish village at the mercy of its enemies.
A harrowing bargain struck for nine fearful and reluctant brides
Delivered into Viking hands, claimed and conquered, each bride must accept that she belongs to her new master. But, as wedding nights bring surrender to duty, will fierce lovers also surrender their hearts?

An interesting prequel to the series. At twelve thousand words, it’s not a long read. One that encouraged me to try a couple more of the books.

 

Brandr by Ashe Barker part of the Viking Surrender Series

Forced to wed the fierce Viking warlord in order to save her people, Eithne has no choice but to surrender to her powerful and terrifying husband. She submits to his stern discipline, but his tenderness takes her breath away. A man of his word, Brandr means to keep his side of their bargain and will see her village safe and protected from their enemies. But what of Eithne

Brandr

The prologue hadn’t given me the idea that these stories might be confronting. I refer in particular to the so-called ‘discipline’ handed out by Brandr to Eithne. Now I know modern sensibilities are involved and life was harsher then, but these stories are categorised as romances. Eithne was strong, brave, adaptable and resourceful I would have thought an ideal wife. Brandr comes across as a bit of a brute. If you are into spanking and discipline this will appeal. Adult content

 

Garth by Assa Daniels – Viking Surrender Series.

A proud warrior, he hides a debilitating weakness. The village outcast, she’s plagued by terrifying visions. Their marriage seems cursed from the start. But, as they come to terms with their union, will they find the love they both need?

Garth Vking surredner

More of the same, a reluctant bride and reluctant groom with the question can this marriage work?  Garth has a weakness he doesn’t want to talk about- he suffers headaches that leave him unable to function. Ytha was so much the better character, intelligent, trying to understand and please her new husband. I enjoyed some of the characterisations but once again spanking seems to be to the fore. If that’s your turn on, then it will appeal. Adult content.

Falling for her Viking Captive by Harper St George.

The Viking warrior

In her cellar…

Lady Annis must stop Viking Rurik Sigurdsson from discovering the truth about his family’s death. Her only solution is to imprison him. But as the ruggedly handsome Viking starts to charm his way out of his cell and into her heart, can she be sure he’s not still intent on vengeance—or perhaps an unexpected alliance is the solution?

 

Her Viking captive

Well written and entertaining. Nicely balanced characters who are a foil for each other. A well-rounded plot that delivered a few surprises. I enjoyed this and the repartee between this evenly-matched pair.

Beloved Viking by Ree Thornton

Beloved Viking

The shield-maiden must marry…

Heir to her father’s Jarldom, Rúna Isaksson will soon ascend to replace him as a leader, but first, she must marry a warrior from another clan to form a powerful alliance. When her father creates a contest to determine the strongest suitor, Rúna demands to compete as well—if she wins, she can choose her own husband.

 

A new take on the familiar subject matter and an entertaining read. These two characters are destined for each other but how they get there is the crux of the story. He hurt her once, now she wants to hurt him, but events are not all that they seem. Zips along at a good pace and holds the readers’ interest. Well written and engaging.

 

Netherwood by Jane Sanderson.

Eve Williams is about to discover just how the other half really live, in this epic and absorbing “big house” drama perfect for Downton Abbey fans

 

Netherwood

I bought this book a while ago and hadn’t got round to reading it. My initial impression was that it was like a Catherine Cookson novel all grit and gumption as I read of the realities of life in a Yorkshire mining village. The pit was the centre of life and the miners and their families were living with the dust and dirt. Netherwood, the ‘big house’ was situated so that the Earl and Countess saw none of poverty or squalor. Their home was amid greenery and expansive parkland. Eve is an admirable heroine, dealing with loss, but she wouldn’t have got so far without the prodding of Anna, the Russian emigre. The contrast between the grinding poverty of the village of Gradley and the thoughtless lavishness of the aristocracy is well shown. When Eve’s baking talent is discovered the book the reminded me of The Duchess of Duke Street. Even to the point where she cooks for King Edward VII. Netherwood is a good reminder of the progress we have made toward giving people some measure of security and hope.

 

New Witch on The Block- Giveaway Today Only! Help me With Questions for Louisa West, Author.

Get in Today for the Fab Giveaway and help me interview Louisa West, Author of New Witch on The Block.

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Here is a little about the book. I’ve read it and thoroughly enjoyed it and reviewed it on Good reads.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

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Here are the details of the giveaway- it’s one that I’d love to win it myself!  Best get in quickly it finishes today.

https://kingsumo.com/g/mipgcv/new-witch-on-the-block-mega-prize-pack

New Witch on The Block is the start of Louisa’s new series Midlife in Mosswood.

Book & Author Details: New Witch on the Block Louisa West
(Midlife in Mosswood, #1) Publication date: June 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal

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Synopsis:

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realizes her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch- King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all and to top it off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54331799-new-witch-on-the-block

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Purchase:Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dN5N5T

AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N

I’m going to interview Louisa here and for my Chatting with Authors Page over on Facebook. Is there anything  you’d like to ask her?

Did you grow-up watching Bewitched or Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Charmed?

What drew you to writing about witchcraft?

What makes witches such an enduring topic?

Did you make up some rules for magic or does anything go?
AUTHOR BIO:
Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.

Author links: http://www.louisawest.com/
https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/
https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes acrshe writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.
Author links:

http://www.louisawest.com/

https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/

https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

The Books That I Don’t Review.

 

I have always read widely and extensively. Books are chosen at random, maybe through a  friend’s recommendation, or reading a blurb. At times, I am tempted by a bookshop or library display. I  have a passion for fiction and also dip into non-fiction if the topic appeals to me.

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Things I love- books and cats and the time to read

Often, I will then write a review, I like to keep track of what I have read and use Good reads as well as posting reviews on my blog. I am not paid for the reviews and hardly ever receive a ‘free’ copy of a book. If I do so, then I reveal that.

person holding a book
Pleasure in reading a good book.

There are some books that I won’t review though. As a writer, I know the amount of time and effort that goes into writing book. Volunteering as a book group coordinator for eleven -years taught me that there isn’t a book that appeals to everyone.

As readers, we bring our own experiences and expectations, to the books that we read. What one may describe as slow-paced, another may consider introspective and thoughtful. We may have ‘hot button’ topics, which are always going to be negative to us. Some may have moral or ethical scruples about certain kinds of books. Hot romance will not appeal to sweet or Christian romance readers, graphic content may not appeal to a more sensitive reader.

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My To-Be-Read Book Stack

For me it is simple, if I am not enjoying a book I stop reading and don’t review it. It’s not a bad book, put simply I am not the right reader. That is not to say there are no bad books, over wordy, pretentious, slight on a story, dull,  or prosaic,  of course,  there are. It’s up to us to decide for ourselves what they are.

 

 

Meet Josh Langley, Author, Illustrator, Copywriter, Broadcaster, After-life Investigator and All-Round Good Guy.

I met Josh and his partner Andy, at the Rockingham Writers’ Convention last year. I was slightly star-struck, after reading Find Your Creative Mojo. They are charming and loads of fun to chat with.  Josh has walked the walk, which gives his books such power to help children and adults while dealing with their anxieties.Josh Langley author head shot small (1)

What do you like to do when you are not writing? Sitting on my verandah with my husband watching the sunset over the valley enjoying a glass of wine (or several).

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was 6, I wanted to be a train driver because seemingly all you had to do was toot the horn and wave at people as you went by. Otherwise, I’ve never had any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. As long as it wasn’t a normal boring job! I think I’ve succeeded in that; radio announcer, radio copywriter, author/illustrator, photographer, abstract artist, part-time afterlife investigator… who knows what’s next?

Josh recently launched his own YouTube channel.

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What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? Andy is cooking southern style chicken schnitzels and garlic roast veggies and it suits me just fine.

Can you cook? Are you practical? Yes, I can cook and quite enjoy it. I’m lucky, that both Andy and I enjoy cooking so we have lots of yummy meals. My favourite is Tortellini. (There’s a recipe for Lemon and Parsley Tortellini on page 54 of Being You is Enough if you’re interested.)

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Breakfast or dinner? Dinner definitely. Unless breakfast is something exotic like Parathas and onion bhajis…. (Or leftover Tortellini )

Your hero? I don’t have heroes, but there are a few people who I admire, such as Michael Leunig. I got to meet him at last years Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (we were next to each other in the program guide, Langley / Leunig) and I was a blubbering mess. I couldn’t say anything interesting or clever, just ‘Um, I’m a big fan… Can I have a selfie?’. Sonia comments that’s so much like I was when I met you!

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, (Living or dead) who would they be and why?

Iggy Pop. He could tell some awesome rock and roll stories. The late Anthony Bourdain. He could also tell some greats stories about people, food and travelling. My husband Andy. I couldn’t let him miss out on all the fun!

What time of the day do you usually write?BSP Its OK to feel the way you feel cover ABIA 2018 sm

I prefer mornings, the earlier the better but not like 3.30 (I did that once when I set the bedside clock wrong after a blackout) more like 5.30 onward.  However, if I’m drawing illustrations, that can be anytime.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I have a really short attention span when it comes to writing and rarely gets into the flow. I’m constantly checking Facebook, getting up to snack on something or walking around outside. Oh, look! Is that packet of pretzels? Yum!

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

All over the shop like a mad dog’s breakfast. There is no structure. When I was working 4 days a week, I used to get up at early and write for an hour before work, but now that I work from home all the time, there’s no structure at all. I’m trying to write a memoir on childhood trauma at the moment and I haven’t found my rhythm as yet, but I’m hoping it’ll come. Maybe pretzels will help.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I can write anywhere. The kitchen table, office, beach, café etc. It doesn’t matter. I know that’s not quirky, but very handy!

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I get a lot of feedback from parents telling me how the kid’s books have made a big difference in their child’s lives. Especially kids who may be a little different or who don’t feel ‘normal’ for whatever reason. They say that the books have started great conversations and led to all sorts of life-changing insights for both the kids and the parents. That makes all that I do worthwhile.

How has being a copywriter influenced your writing style?

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Josh worked in radio

Radio copywriting is all about distilling big concepts down into simple easy to relate to messages, which means using as few words as possible. It’s the same for kid’s books. I take big concepts such as emotional and mental well-being and all that’s associated with them and break them down into powerful short sentences and then marry them with simple cartoon-like illustrations. It’s the art of saying more with less.

I guess that in copywriting you work to appeal to emotions, does that carry over into your writing?

Yep, advertising is all about connecting on an emotional level and that is the same for writing non-fiction and kids books. Even though I’m not a traditional storyteller, the way I shape a story is to go direct to the heart of the reader and make a deep connection that way. Cut straight to the chase but have fun while doing it.

I think you have said that you write your children’s books for the kid you once were. I know that many, many kids and adults relate to them.

Yes, I write the books as though I was giving life advice to my 8-year-old self. I think there are only a handful of kids authors who are in the same boat as me (Todd Parr for example) as most are either teachers, educators, librarians, in the child development field or have kids themselves and I don’t fit into any of that. So writing the books for myself made sense and it was healing as well, as I had experienced childhood trauma and through the books, I was able to reassure the younger me that he is OK the way he was and that he is loved. I think parents can relate to the same message because it’s something they wanted to hear when they were young too.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

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Graeme the giraffe.

I love Graeme the Giraffe, the cover boy for Magnificent Mistakes. He represents the confident, playful happy go lucky kid in all of us. He’s not too concerned about what other people think of him and he’s willing to give new things a go. He wants to wring the most out of life.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

Everyone can feel their emotions in some way, even if it’s getting angry at a bus being late! However it’s being able to tap into that emotion and transfer it to the page so that everyone can relate to it, that’s the trick.

Best writing advice? Worst writing advice you ever received?

Best: “Adverbs are not your friend” – Stephen King. Worst: “This is crap” – Me.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? My laptop. I love it. I really do. I think I spend more time with it than my husband!

Many people won’t have heard about your exploration into the afterlife. Personally, I’d like to thank you for doing things I have always been too scared to do. You have two books about this, don’t you?

Yes, ‘Dying to Know: If there life after death’ and ‘Turning Inside Out; What is everything we’ve been taught about life is wrong?’ both on my website.

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I’ve always been interested in ghosts, the paranormal and afterlife topics and I was desperate to see if could have a personal experience of some kind myself. When I was planning the outline of Dying to Know I knew I had to include a ghost investigation, however, I couldn’t think of anywhere that I could have easy access too. Then one of my work colleagues mentioned in passing that he thought the radio station he was working at was haunted in some way. I remembered I had worked there many years before and thought the same thing. Bam! I had my haunted building! It’s not often you get to play ghost investigator, but it was heaps of fun, yet very scary at the same. It’s the kind of adrenaline rush I love. While some people like parachuting out of a perfectly good plan, I like to see if I can come face to face with a ghost!turning inside out

 

How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?

1 novel, 2 kids books, a photographic book, and other stuff.

QUESTIONS FOR FUN (or maybe not!)

What are you reading now? Irritating posts on Facebook!

Do you have a favourite author? I don’t have a favourite author per se, but enjoy Mark Manson, Anne Lamott and Rebecca Solnit.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I really got a lot out of Stephen King’s On Writing.

Is there an author you most admire in your genre? Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are). His personal story always brings a tear to my eye. He kept his homosexuality and his 50-year relationship to his partner a secret from his Jewish parents because he didn’t want to disappoint them. If I could give him a copy of Being You is Enough and give him a hug, I would.

Favourite quote: “Find your own lane” – Diane Evans (my editor)

Favourite book when you were a kid? Rhyme Giggles, Nonsense Giggles, written by William Cole and Illustrated by Tomi Ungerer

Do you think being in a supportive partnership has helped your confidence and creativity?

Hell yes. I’m lucky that Andy is so supportive and encourages me to keep going with my projects. It also helps that he’s a writer and creative type as well, so we’re both encouraging and supporting each other. Mind you have been known to fight over the little writing desk on our library!

Thank you for having me, it’s been fun! Thank you for being here, Josh.

Find all about Josh and his books at www.joshlangley.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/joshlangleywriter/

https://www.instagram.com/joshlangleyauthor/

 

 

 

Meet Author/Poet/Artist/Activist-Annie Hill Otness.

Hi Annie and thanks so much for joining us today. We will start with some getting to know you questions, then move on to your writing and art.

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Annie Hill Otness.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?  My favourite is swimming in the sea and next is sailing

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All the joy of sailing.

 

I didn’t expect to grow up as I am lucky to survive my childhood – my mother was an alcoholic who abused and neglected me. She tried to kill me, the first time when I was about four when she stripped me to my undies and locked me out of the house all day in the middle of a Melbourne winter – I got pneumonia and was very ill. The second time I was about eight and she slashed my right wrist and throat with a razor. Both times were when my father was away. I think she believed she was sacrificing or saving me.  I survived the pneumonia and glandular fever which left me with lung and heart damage. I made 80 last year!

alone child children close up

S B says Thank you for sharing this- what a traumatic experiences

Sometimes I share because telling others who have suffered and survived that you  understand and care can make a difference, and keeping silent, as I was raised to do, perpetuates the damage of child  abuse and neglect

What was your dream job when you were younger? I wanted to sail away, or fly like a bird, or write stories and make pictures.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? Not sure about tea tonight, but a takeaway would be good. Something new and different – except coriander.

What’s your favourite food? Currently it’s spinach and halva.

Your hero? Greta Thunberg,

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Tyson Yunkaporta; he’s aboriginal and an advocate for indigenous culture, as well as a creative performer and artist. I would love to yarn with him.

Anh Do: came to Australia in a refugee boat, he became a comedian, artist (stunning portraits in his ABC show), and writer for young people. He’s creative in many fields – and funny and smart.

Julia Gillard: past prime minister of Australia. She was an outstanding leader, brave, and ethical and still a mental health advocate and strong woman.

They are all creators in different ways and from different origins that exemplifies our dynamic culture. From all the lands on earth we come – They affirm our unofficial anthem We are one – we are Australian.

What’s your writing space like?

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I have a girl-shed for artwork and a ‘Do not disturb – genius at work’ sign in my corner in the back room with my PC  and my home gym so I can get up and workout a bit when the flow stops. S.B. comments Lovely-love the genius at work sign.

How do you decide if an idea will be a story, a poem or an artwork?

It’s not a decision – some ideas come visually, some in a flash as a poem (usually when I’m travelling or walking) and then some are stories to be told over time.

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For those unfamiliar with your fiction how would you describe it?

I decided to write romances when I retired but was totally no good at it – my attempt turned into the first book in the Travellers Trilogy which could be described as Adventure/Romance, as there’s a lot of adventure and intrigue and a powerful love story. My latest book is The Swagman Saga, a colonial myth, and this could be an Australian historical fantasy, I guess.

swagman saga

 

Is there a typical writing day?

When I’m writing, which I’m not currently, I grab the time when I can. I’m not an owl, so usually in the morning, but afternoons or evenings too, depending on what’s happening.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing. It costs too much for me to have my m/s professionally edited, and I’m grateful for a friend who edited the trilogy, but he couldn’t edit the Swagman Saga, so it’s published with all its faults, which I’m sure are many and diverse.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?Don’t think I have one. I just hammer away and try to keep up with the characters as their lives unfold.

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Annie’s picture of Australia’s Pilbara region.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?

I’m the watcher in my stories, so it’s like seeing a movie. I’m often surprised at what is unfolding, and react to the tragic, scary, passionate or violent events.  I’ve been saddened by the way the lives of some characters unfolded and I usually intervene at the end, as I write to give hope, not to create sorrow and despair.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

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The truism that we are all our characters. I most admire the courage and devotion of Aidan, and Matilda; the adventurous spirits of Greta and The Swagman; and the dogged and persistent Old Grey Mare, – as they are the best of me; but I have to acknowledge myself in the troubled Gwen/Selina; and in the evil Tobias, and the shape-changing monster, Captain Sharman.

Why did you choose to self-publish, and use a pen name?

The rejections made me feel like a failure. Although I understand this is usual and it can take many years of rejection before a writer is successful, I was around 70 when I started writing novels and I thought I didn’t have that long to wait. I know my work doesn’t fit a commercial mould so I decided that I would write my own way. I feel I don’t need to write to a market as I don’t expect ever to write for a living, although I’ve covered my costs

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I chose to use my maiden name as I wanted to disassociate my work from my everyday identity. I Googled it, and it wasn’t being used, since then two other M.A. Hills have appeared – one writes about chakras and yogic stuff which is OK, but the other writes lurid romances. Should have stuck with Otness.

Are you currently working on a new book? Will it carry on the stories from the trilogy or The Swagman?

I have started a young adult series called The Theriant, (Theriants are shape-changers).  I find this concept not only fascinating, but a great way to create diverse p.o.v.  I’ve written the first book and the first draft of the second and have the outline for another one. The protagonist is a mutant hero called Crystal Stone whose mission is to save the world. The first one – The Flight of Crystal Stone, is about its/her coming of age but after letting the work rest and coming back to it, I realised I must revise  it, as the first part could be cultural appropriation, and also doesn’t fit the story as it developed

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4 element quilt by Annie.

Who is your favourite author and why? So many: Tyson Yunkaporta –  I’ve just read Sand Talk, and this was extraordinary– confronting – validating some of my concepts and challenging others. I’ll need to read it again.

Peter Fitzsimons; Australian history – he tells the true story and brings it to life.

Kem Nunn, writes stories with so much empathy about surfing and of people that I feel I know.

Liu Cixin  – The three body problem. His dystopian future could become the new reality aka Wells’ War of the Worlds  – Chinese viewpoint is enlightening.

All different and really great reads.

What book is currently on your bedside table? Kim Scott’s Dead man dance, Qi Gong, Me and the boat and a man named Bob, by C.E. Bowman (friends have told me it’s the best book they’ve ever read – Bob is Bob Dylan!) Moab is my Washpot – Stephen Fry.

e book reader turned on
The convenience of e-books

I prefer to read eBooks now as the range is limitless with wonderful free library apps. I have about 3,000 books (I’m used to having shelves of books around I guess after 25+ years in libraries), and eBook loans suit me now.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

James Joyce, The Dubliners, I read at 18 and it reset my brain. After being schooled on Eliot and Thackeray, that were so alien to my life and culture, I couldn’t relate to them at all. Joyce opened the window to the wide universe of possibilities.

Tim Winton, because he writes about my kind of world, and I realised that we can tell the stories about places and lives we know. Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel because he is wildly inventive and bawdy and funny.

Cervantes because he wrote the ultimate quest,and many other authors.I think everything I read has some influence.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

Norman Lindsay, Tolkien and Terry Pratchett – for fantasy sagas, Susanne Collins’ The Hunger Games for YA. I  don’t write to a genre but admire so many authors – I’ll pick  Melissa Lukashenko, Too much lip as adventure romance. Poetry – Les Murray. Don Williams for theatre (I’ve written a few plays that I produced and directed at the Pocket Theatre – great loss that it closed down.)

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

Change is possible because it’s necessary – James Zerzan.

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Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

SB. That quote is very pertinent at the moment!

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult / ‘Sea Sick’ by Alanna Mitchell had a life changing effect on me and made me realise that I had to fight for the well being of the oceans that I love and voyage on.

Favourite book when you were a kid? Alice in wonderland and through the looking glass. I was sent to the care of strangers for a few months at about 9 and was allowed to take one book –  Lewis Carrol was in hindsight such a good choice, with a strong, resilient, resourceful girl hero alone in a weird world.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? Shakespeare – I think he’s the greatest writer ever even though I don’t read in other languages.

I’ve included a few of the quilts, which are made from silk paintings with shibori dyed panels.

SB I asked what Shibori was .

Shibori is a Japanese tie dye craft that gives a streaky effect.

Buy links Ozartworks: www.ozartworks.com;

Talismans: https://talismans.ozartworks.com/

Ozartworks facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annie.hill.otness/?ref=bookmarks

Elements and visions: http://elements-and-visions.blogspot.com/

Novels available on amazon, etc.

THE AUTHOR:

M.A. Hill  was born once upon a time in Tasmania, lives near Fremantle, Western Australia.  She is an award-winning writer, playwright, poet, and artist – working in paint, textiles, and clay.

A blue water sailor and activist for the marine environment, her journey is one of survival that has taken her on trackless voyages where few have ventured. In her work she strives for a better world. As Annie Hill Otness, she has published –

Collected poetry, Dream Beaches Invisible Landscapes;

Vision  Books – inspirational works illustrated with  original paintings on silk. 

Talismans – ‘anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.’  Source: Dictionary.com

As M.A. Hill she is the author and illustrator of The Travellers Trilogy and The Swagman Saga.

Visit TALISMANS : Annie HIll Otness/ M.A. Hill:   or www.ozartworks.com;  to enjoy more of her work.

 

 

 

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Norman Jorgensen.

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. I’ve always like Norse myths and legends, though, and think Vikings were a little misunderstood. J   They can’t really have been that bad. Can they?

Norman Jorgensen Edinburgh 2
Norman Jorgensen.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I read, of course, mostly historical fiction, and I love old black & white movies and Westerns, and I love travelling and photography. I am happiest tramping around the ruins of a medieval castle or exploring a smugglers’ village, with my camera running red hot.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  I can’t answer that – I never grew up!  No, I wanted to be Errol Flynn, swashbuckling star of Captain Blood, as well as a bunch of other pirate movies, and also Robin Hood and General Custer. I also wanted to be a Lieutenant in the US Cavalry, a Sergeant in the French Foreign Legion and a Spitfire Pilot in the RAF in 1940. Oh, and a Highwayman, a gunslinger, the Saint, and when I was about 14, I fancied myself as F Scott Fitzgerald, as played by Gregory Peck in the bio of his life called  Beloved Infidel. The idea of being a tortured literary genius appealed greatly at that age. Unfortunately, these days I am neither tortured nor a genius, nor even suave like Gregory Peck, or even Atticus Finch, more’s the pity.

 

black and white skull hanging decor
Pirates fired Norman’s imagination

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? It is Sunday night, so Jan and I are in for a perfect evening. A long hot bubble bath with the steaming water up to our eyes, until we get wrinkly toes, then pizza and red wine while watching a British crime drama on the TV.  What would I rather be eating? I’m happy with that, though a bowl of freshly-made pasta and Chianti while sitting on a terrace on a warm evening in Venice might be pretty good too.

Your hero? I have a lot of heroes, but especially my beloved Jan Nicholls. She is my biggest fan, but never reads anything I write until it is published, which is probably why we still get on okay. She is from Northumberland near the Scottish border where they breed them tough, but she is warm-hearted, kind, gorgeous, as sharp as a tack and incredibly funny.  The poor woman is addicted to books, though, and spends a great time of reading and promoting books in her role as President the Children’s Book Council here in WA.  Jan also likes travelling, so that fits in perfectly with me,  and I admire how she has navigated us across the world in search of exciting places for me to write about.

Another hero is my mother, Barbara, who is kind and gentle but has a backbone of steel. She lived in Broome in the 1950s when it was a derelict shanty town so far from everywhere, and brought up four boys often by herself for long periods while my father was away working. She moved to Perth and had a successful career at Channel 9 and is still a stylish, enthusiastic world traveller at 86 years old.

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Not all heroes wear a cape!

Next on my list is Winston. I am a big Winston Churchill fan, though I am well aware of his flaws and significant errors and subsequent disasters. US broadcaster, Edward Murrow, said of him, “He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.” I hugely admire that ability he had. He stared down Hitler, ran the government, helped win WWII, and then went on to write 30 books and win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? My father and my grandparents. You never really get to say goodbye properly, so one lovely last evening with them would be wonderful. I still have so much I would have liked to share with them and so much still to learn. They were all great storytellers too, and I would have felt warm and safe and loved being in the same room with them again entertaining me with their tales of our family from long ago.

Now to questions about writing. I  think readers and writers alike are fascinated by how writers write, and how they get their ideas.

What time of the day do you usually write? I am scatty and erratic, hugely disorganised, and away-with-the-fairies half the time, so there is no pattern to my writing day. My latest manuscript, The Smuggler 3: Dragon’s Blood, was written under a palm tree by a pool in Phuket using an old leather-bound notebook and a fountain pen. It was only the first draft, but I got so much written with no electronic distractions and no reason to stop other than the need for a quick swim occasionally.

book and pen on notebook
Sometimes  pen and paper works better than the keyboard

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Revising and polishing.  I find researching the life and times of my characters and settings and then writing the plot reasonably enjoyable, but the constant need to turn out half-decent sentences while making sure the meaning is crystal clear and exciting at the same time is a real challenge for me.  I need to keep reminding myself not to include every single detail I have uncovered during the research, but to concentrate more on the hero’s journey and their interaction with the other characters.  Historical books often overload the minor details of the past, so the reader gets bogged down, and then fed up, and loses sympathy with the hero, and that can be fatal.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? My schedule is pure chaos. Sometime I’ll spend all day procrastinating, while others I’ll be on a roll and write like a demon all day, ignoring everything and everyone in the real world around me. Other days, it will be four hours before I get bored with myself.  Ideas come at all times of the day and in odd places, so I have a box full of napkins, slips of newspaper, notebooks and movie tickets with random words and sentences hastily scribbled on them.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I tend to over-reference old movies, TV shows, books I read in the past, and even jokes, sometimes completely inappropriately for the dire situations in which I have placed my characters.  I am also on the lookout for humour in every case, which can be very annoying when Red, for instance, is seconds away from being eaten by a monster Tiger shark or being fired on by blood-thirsty pirates.

 

person standing on rock formation near body of water during night time

 

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? Not too much. I do get great feedback from kids when I am giving school talks, and teachers often tell me how much their students enjoy my books. I did once get the best letter, though. It read, “Dear Mr Jorgensen, I know you don’t make much money from your writing, but rest assured, you are bringing great joy to millions of children all around the world.” Poor deluded fool they must have mistaken me for J.K Rowling.

I am guessing your readership is predominantly boys, am I right? I had imagined that was the case, but I am continually being proven wrong. Jack’s Island is studied and enjoyed in many girls’ schools, and I keep hearing that girls seem to like my character, Red Read, the teenage hero of The Smuggler’s Curse and The Wreckers’ Revenge. Several girls have asked for more romance in the sequels.

We both laugh and I suggest a comprise. Maybe you can write a choose your own adventure book to satisfy both boys and girls? Quick as a flash he comes back with ‘Choice one -Kiss the girl. Choice two -Jump overboard.’

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.   Red Read, son of Mrs Read who owns The Smuggler’s Curse Hotel in Broome, is my favourite. His mother sells him as a cabin boy to Captain Black Bowen, a notorious smuggler. Red is just like 12-year-old me, except he is brave, fearless, athletic and resourceful, unlike me at 12 who was a snivelling coward and none of those things. He handles everything I was too scared to do like he is a full-on junior swashbuckler. And after all his hair-raising adventures, he ends up very rich, also unlike me.

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Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I don’t imagine so. You’d have to be pretty good at faking it. There is a saying in writing circles, “No tears from the writer, then there will be none from the reader.”

You’ve written children’s picture books and middle-grade fiction genre. Do you have a preference? I prefer mid-grade by far. Picture books are sooo difficult to write. The industry standard for them is 600 – 800 words over 32 pages, and trying to get the story that fills your head into so few words is nigh on impossible. Picture book stories are also told using a mixture of words or pictures, but not both, so your words are often cut as the illustrator takes over.  If your text reads, “It was a dark and stormy night,” and the illustrator paints a dark and stormy night, then your carefully chosen words become redundant and get cut.

With middle-grade, you can create more elaborate plots and landscapes and explore inside your characters’ heads. You are also leaving a lot more to the reader’s imagination.

How do you decide whether it will be a longer book or a picture book?  I see my stories in pictures in my head, just like watching a movie with a soundtrack and all, but some adventures will be far too long for 32 pages, so have to be turned into 60 to70,000 words instead. Interestingly, the three illustrators I have worked with, Allan Langoulant, Brian Harrison-Lever and my good friend, James Foley, have all had better pictures in their heads that I did, so, occasionally, I feel okay about my words getting the knife or the Viking sword.

closeup photo of black hilt and brown sword

 

You mentioned a trip to the Shetland Isles – did that inspire The Last Viking?

The Last Viking was inspired by my nephew Ben Jorgensen adding horns to his bike helmet years before, and then by me overlooking James Foley’s portfolio where he had an illustration of a boy dressed as a medieval knight. Why not a Viking, I thought? When I approached James with the Viking boy idea, I suddenly had to come up with the story on the spot.

The Shetlands Islands did, however, inspire The Smuggler’s Curse.  R.L Stevenson’s father had been a lighthouse builder, and Robert had stayed in the same room as me as the Sumburgh Lighthouse. Learning this, I tried writing a pirate story just like R.L.S while there. It soon developed into a smuggler story set in Cornwall in 1810 and then, eventually, into an Australian sea story relocated to Broome in 1898, at the suggestion of my publisher, Cate Sutherland at Fremantle Press.

lighthouse on near body of water between rock formation

 

How much input do you have with your illustrators? Normally, none. Editors like to keep writers and illustrators apart, and often they are in different states. Brian Harrison-Lever lived in Tasmania, and I didn’t meet him until he had finished all the artwork for In Flanders Fields, though we did exchange emails.  I met Allan Langoulant once a week for dinner where he showed me his previous week’s work, but I had no say in it as it was already finished.  With James Foley, we did spend time working together on The Last Viking,  sharing jokes and me suggesting scenes and film references, and that seemed to work well as we had a shared love of movies.  The Viking books are heavily movie influenced.  James was able to add in a lot of his own humour, making my original plot and jokes much funnier.

Best writing advice? Don’t get carried away with the traditional, stereotyped idea of being a writer

Waiting for inspiration is for amateurs. Instead, just begin.

Starving in a Paris garret, suffering from TB, drinking yourself to oblivion on Absinthe like many, shooting wild animals like Hemingway, or going on the road like Jack Kerouac will only distract you. Just sit, turn down the lights, and actually type in one word after another until you fill a page, polish it, then do it again the next day until you fill another page. After a year, you will have 365 pages which should be enough for a book. That is advice from John Steinbeck, not me.

Worst writing advice you ever received? A teacher who read the manuscript told me to change the name of the title of In Flanders Fields as kids won’t know what it means, she said.  Luckily, I ignored her as the book is still in print 17 years later.  

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer

black and gold pen

My Lamy fountain pen from Germany and my Chinese fountain pen called The Black Dragon, the same name as the schooner in my latest books. I just had to buy it with a name like that.  Mostly, though, every dollar I ever spent on airfares has not been wasted.  I have visited every place my books are set as I believe it is important to be able to describe the settings in detail,  down to the smell of the drains, the feel of the sand between your toes and the sound of the monkeys screeching in the jungle trees.

How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?

Dragon’s Blood: Red 3 (Upper Primary Novel)

Sons of the Desert: The Journal of Harry White (YA Novel)

This Pen for Hire (Adult Comedy Novel)

The Illuminator’s Apprentice (Picture Book)

The Goldminer’s Son (Picture Book)

The Gr8 Escape (Picture Book)

Castaways on a Dessert Island (Picture Book)

Advance Australia Unfair (Picture Book)

The Final Mission of a Flying Tiger (Picture Book)

Mary Christmas   (Lower Primary Novel)

Who is your favourite author, and why?

blur book stack books bookshelves

My favourite authors are Leslie Thomas who wrote The Virgin Soldiers and Dangerous Davies and Tom Sharpe, author of Wilt and Blott on the Landscape, both British writers who generally wrote satirical comedy novels about ordinary people living suburban lives while mayhem surrounds them. When Leslie died in 2014 and Tom in 2013, I was shocked at how saddened I was each time as if I had suddenly lost a part of me and a whole chunk of my early reading years. I didn’t know either of them, though I met Leslie Thomas briefly at a book signing after a talk he gave here in Perth. He answered ALL my questions then afterwards signed my book, “To my greatest fan, Norman”, and he wasn’t the least bit wrong.

I also love the work of Bill Bryson and have read every word of his. We are much the same age, and his gentle sense of humour matches mine exactly. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, about him looking for the small-town America of the old movies, is funny but also so sad as he slowly comes to realise that it has been lost and the towns have been devastated by enormous Walmart’s, huge car parks, endless fast-food joints, closed factories, empty shops and despair. His most successful book, Notes From a Small Island, about him revisiting the places he went when backpacking around Britain in the 1970s, is a joy to read. He gave his humour free rein, and I loved it, as I did with all his other books. He has since written 20 more.

What are you reading now? As usual, I have several books on my bedside table. This week it is Grant, a massive doorstop of a biography of General Ulysses S Grant, the US Civil War leader and President, by Ron Chernow. There is also The Last Dickens by Mathew Pearl an exciting books about copyright piracy in the 1870s, Mrs Kelly by Grantlee Kieza, about Ned Kelly’s mother, and to my absolute delight, an advance copy of Goldfields’ Girl by my great friend Elaine Forrestal just arrived this morning. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Robert Louis Stevenson.  The Smuggler’s Curse has Treasure Island and Kidnapped all over it. I even called a character Bosun Stevenson in his honour.

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Norman loves to sail

I belong to the Society of Writers and Illustrators here in Western Australia, and I am always amazed at the quality of the books that our members produce. I admire so many of them as we really do have some remarkable talent in Perth.

In my genre, closest to my style of recent stories in John Flanagan, who wrote the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series. His historically-based, overly-brave teenagers sometimes seem a lot like my young characters

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

“If you are going through hell, then it is probably best to keep on going.”

Or maybe…  “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Both quotes are by Winston Churchill.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult

Dissolution by CJ Sansom. It is a historical novel (of course) about a lawyer called Mathew Sheldrake in the times of King Henry VIII when he set up the Church of England and destroyed the monasteries and abbeys across England. Samson captures the life and times of pots medieval Britain so well that you feel positively grimy after reading his work. He has since written a series about Sheldrake, all equally as good and just as grubby.

Favourite book when you were a kid Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, although Enid Blyton and Biggles were favourites when I was younger. 

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath. He was the first writer to keep me awake all night reading. He wrote with such compassion for his characters who were based on real people suffering in the Great Depression, as well as perfectly capturing a sense of place of an American landscape destroyed by drought, greed and economics.  His writing is so flawless and seemingly effortless that you do not even notice the writing style as he has so successfully carried you away with the fates of his characters.  

What are you working on now? I am researching for a book called In Search of Constable Jack Kelly, Brother of the Outlaw Ned Kelly. Ned’s youngest brother, Jack, was a world-famous circus star performing stockwhip tricks and stunt riding for Wirth’s Circus in the early years of the 20th century. For a few years, he was, almost unbelievably, even a member of the Police Force in WA where he worked taming wild horses. After that, he left for the USA where he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and then went onto a glittering career in England and then South America.

horse near trees

Do you enjoy school visits? I do about 120 school visits a year and usually enjoy them very much, especially with kids in upper primary classes. They typically are so enthusiastic and not yet self-conscious like their older school mates, and so pepper me with questions. My book, Jack’s Island, about my father’s experiences as a kid during WWII is studied in depth by many schools and, for some reason, the kids want every episode in it to be true. It mostly is true though sometimes exaggerated, and  I find it fascinating seeing what sections appeal or capture the imaginations of the readers. School visits are also essential for trying out chapters on the potential audiences to see their reactions.  Frequently, some instant editing takes place as I read aloud, and pages are mentally slashed and burnt.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me- I have really enjoyed talking with you and I am sure you have gained new readers eager to share in an adventure or two.

 

Here is a list of all Norman’s published books and awards

.NJ Publications and Awards. February 2020

Buy Books https://normanjorgensen.com.au/shop/

Email njbooks@bigfoot.com.au

Website http://normanjorgensen.com.au

Facebook http://facebook.com/norman.jorgensen

Instagram http://instagram.com/normanjorgensen

Twitter http://twitter.com,/normanjorgensen

Phone +61 408 932 196

 

 

 

Judging a Writing Contest.

‘Tread Softly Because You Tread On My Dreams’ William Butler Yeats. 

white and pink flowers beside a canister
Using words to express ourselves is a dream for many

What is written isn’t simply words on the page, these words are a part of the writer’s identity, their brainchild and often the child of their heart too.

When I was invited to be one of the section panel for a writing competition, I knew that it would be a difficult task.

Each person who had entered had written with a part of themselves and now we had to choose from amongst them and decide which were the best. All had merit in some way, maybe for the idea, or for a new take on an old idea.

Equally, perhaps the contest organisers had given us a more problematic task because they hadn’t specified a theme, so the topics were exceptionally varied.

Should tragedy and drama take precedence over comedy and the lighthearted ? Does writing about a topical situation or problem gain more points?

These were questions that everyone who was assessing the work had to decide for themselves. And of course, subjectivity came into play too.

 

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Did they follow the rules?

And what about the rules? There was a word limit specified, should someone be be penalized if they went over it? What if by a few words or a lot?

I  did my best and tried to be objective and to choose what I genuinely  considered to be the best pieces of work. Well aware that by choosing them I was rejecting others.

Fortunately, the responsibility for the choice does not fall solely to me, there is a panel of judges. Will we agree or will they each make different selections?  It will be interesting to find out.

All that I can say to everyone who entered is thank you for sharing your work with us. I respect that and  I read it as I hope that my work will be read. Congratulations on daring to put your work ‘out there’.

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Congratulations

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Teena Raffa- Mulligan.

It’s always a  pleasure for me to be chatting with authors.  Today my guest is talented author Teena Raff Mulligan. Teena changes easily between writing for children( picture books,  and mid-grade books) as well as writing for adults. I had fun learning about her writing and her non- writing life and I hope you will enjoy this interview.

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Teena Raffa-Mulligan.

Finding out a little bit about Teena I asked her

What do you like to do when you are not writing? Watch TV. Walk the dog along the beach path. Dabble in art and photography.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A ballerina novelist.

Wow!What an awesome idea!

Blerina skitter photos
Skitter photo on  Pixababy

What was your dream job when you were younger? I had fantasies of dancing my way around the world and writing novels in the dressing room between performances.  Film star was my back up option. 

That sounds like a great plan!

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? I’m on a low-calorie meal plan at the moment so dinner today is a child-size serve of chargrilled chicken, potato bake and steamed veggies with gravy. I’m happy with that, though I wouldn’t mind baked ricotta cheesecake for dessert or a fruit and custard flan.

What’s your favourite food? That’s easy. Fish and chips. Preferably liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar and eaten from the paper while parked in the car at the beach watching the sun go down over the ocean.

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Photo by Daria Shevisoav

Your hero? My cousin Gypsy is an inspiration. She is wise, insightful, creative, intelligent, resilient, and has a wonderful sense of humour. Muscular dystrophy has increasingly limited Gypsy’s physical mobility over the years but her focus is always on what she can do rather than on what she can’t.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and other inspirational books for creatives; Eckhart Tolle, who wrote Stillness Speaks and The Power of Now; and Paul McCartney, who needs no introduction to people of my generation. I’m sure we’d have an intellectually stimulating discussion about living a spiritual life in our time, fulfilling our creative potential and finding a way to be authentically ourselves.

What’s your writing space like?

david Cassolato

The main writing space is inside my head and I shudder to think what that looks like! I carry my stories around with me mentally so a lot of the sentences first take shape while I’m away from my desk. I have an office with my desktop computer, printer, filing cabinet, bookshelf etc and that’s where the manuscripts get knocked into shape for submission. I also do a lot of scribbling in notepads at the kitchen bench, in a recliner chair at the lounge room window, propped up in bed, on the back patio or the sun deck.

What time of the day do you usually write? Anytime!

Is there a typical writing day? I don’t have a typical writing day. Sometimes weeks pass without me producing the next chapter of my WIP, though I do work on writing-related activities every day. This might be freelance proofing or copy editing, formatting my next indie publication, looking for covers, doing admin/promotions/ marketing or organising submissions, talks or workshops. I also do the monthly newsletter for the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators WA (SCBWI West), and I’m volunteer coordinator of Rockingham Writers Centre. Most days I head into my office after breakfast, work till lunchtime, take an hour or two break, then maybe do another couple of hours before dinner – or maybe not!

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A beautiful story for children who are missing a parent.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Completing novels. The level of focus required to sustain a long-term project doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a bit of a butterfly and there are so many bright shiny new ideas and creative interests to attract my attention.

 

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Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I don’t have one. Of course, I apply myself and work steadily on a manuscript if there is an anthology or competition deadline or a publisher is waiting on rewrites. Basically, I work on priorities and do the job that needs to be done that day.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I have a stand-up desk and to introduce some exercise into my day I do a few dance steps, aerobic moves or on-the-spot marching as I work at the computer. I also try out various actions to see how they work and have conversations with myself to make sure the dialogue in my scenes sounds natural and in character. Fortunately, I don’t have an audience.christa's choice jpeg

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? I don’t often hear from readers. Those who comment usually tell me my stories are charming and warm-hearted, with characters that come alive on the page. The nicest thing anyone ever said was that I must have “bottles of delight and whimsy in your office and sprinkle them on your stories because your stories are always delightful and whimsical.” That made me feel warm and fuzzy.

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These days we get fan mail by email or text.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood? A lot of my stories are light-hearted so I need to feel at peace with my world. I can’t write those stories if I am upset or worried about something. Having said that, I had a publisher deadline on a major rewrite of my quirky MG novel Mad Dad for Sale at the time my dad was dying of cancer and somehow I managed to do that. The fantasy was a wonderful distraction from the reality of being about to lose my father.

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Photo by Dương Nhân. We need time to process our emotions

 

How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story? I’m more likely to be smiling or giggling at the computer because so much of what I write is light and quirky. However, I still get weepy when I read the final lines of my picture book Who Dresses God? and I was surprised the other day to find myself shedding a few tears as I proofread a scene in my forthcoming YA novel, Monelli & Me. Two of my unpublished picture books did stir up a lot of emotion because they are inspired by experiences which had a big impact on my life – the loss of a baby and losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s – so I let the tears flow as I wrote them. When they are published I might not be able to read them in schools!

 

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special. I love Joshua Jones in The Seven Day Dragon. He has a lively curiosity and a unique perspective on the world.

You’ve written adult genre and children’s picture books and mid-grade fiction genre. Do you have a preference?

Picture books. I love the challenge of sifting and shifting words to tell a story as succinctly as possible, yet in a way that allows the illustrator plenty of scope to be creative. I also like playing around with rhyme and rhythm. I’m obviously still learning because I have quite a few unpublished picture book manuscripts. I’m much more successful with short stories and poems.

How different do you find the writing? I don’t really think about it. I focus on the story I’m telling at the time and the voice for that age group or genre seems to come naturally without conscious effort.

Who is your favourite author and why? That’s like asking me if I have a favourite child!

What are you reading now? I just finished reading I’m Your Venus: A Sylvia Stryker Space Mystery by Dianne Vallere.

What book is currently on your bedside table? Only one? My next read will be In Good Hands, a Georgie B Goode Vintage Trailer Mystery by Marg McAlister.

I’m reading light at the moment because it was quite intense doing the copy edits and proofreading of my women’s fiction and YA novels, which are both coming out in March.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing? Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way, The Sound of Paper, The Right to Write); Natalie Goldberg (Long Quiet Highway); and Dani Shapiro (Still Writing).

Who is the author you most admire in your genre? Meg McKinlay. She has a wonderful way of writing for children and young adults.

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

ancient architecture asia bench
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Before enlightenment

Chopping wood

Carrying water.

After enlightenment

Chopping wood

Carrying water.

-Zen proverb

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult. It’s impossible for me to choose one.

Favourite books when you were a kid. Nesbitt’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. What Katy Did also struck a chord, as did books by Elizabeth Goudge.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? I wish I’d been mentored by the amazing Jen Storer when I first started writing for children. Jen runs the Scribbles Academy and started The Duck Pond FB group. She has a wealth of industry knowledge and is an inspiration.

Website

http://www.teenaraffamulligan.com

Blog

https://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan

After Goodbye, Christa’s Choice and When the Moon is a Smile are available from https://www.daisylanepublishing.com/bookshop

Friends, The Seven Day Dragon and Risking Mr Wrong are available from https://www.serenitypress.org/

Most of my titles are available from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Thank you so much, Teena, for a fascinating interview and good luck with your new releases.