Posts by Stacey Nash

Writing for the young and new adult market, Stacey's books are all adventure filled stories with a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and plenty of KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area. Author of the Collective Series and the Oxley College Saga.

The Elements of a Great Story — Setting

This month we’re taking a ‘for the writers’ spin on our theme and talking about what makes a story great. I’ve been tasked with world building, which is something I love!

Worldbuilding is the term we use to describe the creation of an imaginary setting.

Creating worlds that feel as though you’ve stepped right inside them is a tricky talent that will turn a good story into a great story. Let’s think about some books that fit into the ‘great’ category and examine their settings in terms of beleviability;

  • Harry Potter. I know, I know, I use JK Rowling as an example all the time, but honestly she’s one of the best storytellers out there. The magic world in which her characters live is so well rounded that many, many muggles have tried to run through the column on London station marked 9 3/4. Heck, I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter!
  • The Lunar Chronicles. This futuristic world of magic and science is so realistic I wonder if it’s actually a glimpse into the future. If Prince Kai will someday reign over the Eastern Commonwealth, if we’ll colonize the moon, if cyborgs … who am I kidding? We’re only a sneeze away from real, live, breathing cyborgs right now!
  • The Mortal Instruments. A world hidden within our own that holds magic, paranormal creatures, and other beings who keep us safe. Like the other two worlds mentioned, I wonder if I just drew the right rune on my arm … would everything pop into focus? Is the old church in my neighbourhood really an institute? If I dive down to the very bottom of a clear mountain pool will I find a gateway into the seelie court?

Image result for shadowhunters seelie court gif

All three of these series contain amazing worldbuilding. Let’s take a look at what they have in common.

  • They’re immensely detailed.
  • Those details are woven through every aspect of every character and every aspect of every scene. Think Luna’s fear of nargals. Think ‘moving’ photographs in newspapers. Think feasts that appear out of thin air. Think moving staircases and plants that screech when uprooted. Think language choices unique to the world. Think wumping willows and rooms of requirement. Think extracted memories and listening devices shaped like ears. Think Harry Potter. All of these things, no matter how large or small, add up to create one amazingly unique, almost realistic world.
  • The places in these books feel so real they become like another character in the story. Hogwarts. The Rampion. Alicante. All settings, but if I asked you to describe characteristics or even a personality-type feel to these settings I bet you could.
  • In great stories the reader doesn’t feel like they’re trudging through paragraphs of description to find the plot. The setting (world) is slotted into the story so seamlessly the reader doesn’t notice it’s there.

SUBTLETY IS KEY!

Image result for luna nargles quote

Setting is an essential part of any great story. Together with great characters, solid (and invisible) world building is what makes readers keep coming back to a series. It’s what makes us wish fictional worlds were real (or hope they’re not :P).

I’ve shared a few of my favourite bookish worlds. Which ones do you love?

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Stacey Nash writes Aussie YA / NA. Her Oxley College Saga is a series of romances based in the fictional Oxley College on a university campus. Her Collective Series is YA trilogy about a girl who discovers secret sci-fi technology and the organisation who suppress it. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

Chill, connect, cool it — advice for emerging authors

 

This month we’re talking about things we wish we knew when we first started out on our authoring journey. Some might see it as us dishing out advice for new writers. Whichever way you spin July’s topic here’s my top three things I’d tell younger me, you know if I had a time machine:

 

Chill, it’s just a first draft.

Spewing words onto the screen is perfect even if those words aren’t perfect. It doesn’t matter how well a story is written when we first write it. That initial draft is all about getting the story out. About telling it to ourself as the author, so we know who the characters are, what the plot is, and how everything comes together. No first draft is perfect and that’s okay! You can spend years going over that opening chapter trying to perfect it, but you know what? All that time is wasted because you’ll be so hung up on crafting wonderful words that you’re likely to never write the two most magical words ever, THE END.

Connect, it’s not a one man show.

Writing can be a lonely business, but it doesn’t have to, nor should it be that way. Books are a bit like children and that age old saying which goes with them; it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I believe it takes more than just one person to write a good book.

Go, grab your favourite book written by a big-5 best-selling author and turn to the acknowledgements. I can guarantee in the list of people that author thanks are other authors. These are usually the people who have supported him/her during the writing process. Many of us here at AO&R are critique partners, beta readers, and plotting soundboards for each other. Reach out, because finding the right writing mates is important.

Cool it, there’s no rush to submit.

Most writers think they have the best story, the best concept, a totally unique idea. And many do!! But rushing off to submit can do more harm than good. You see, most agents and publishers will only look at your work once, so don’t waste that opportunity on work that isn’t your best. There’s no need be concerned that you need to sub before X conference or Y date or Z holiday, or that you have to get in before someone else sells a similar story. Make sure that you submit the best possible product you can. That it’s been through multiple rounds of edits, it’s been read and critiqued by someone who knows about writing and is brutally honest, and that’s it’s been proofread. Of course the opposite can be said too, don’t over think it. You don’t want to hold onto that thing forever.

 

What about you, fellow writers, is there one burning piece of advice you’d give to your former self?

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Stacey Nash writes Aussie YA / NA. Her Oxley College Saga is a series of romances based in the fictional Oxley College on a university campus. Her Collective Series is YA trilogy about a girl who discovers secret sci-fi technology and the organisation who suppress it. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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The Best Aussie (YA/NA) Romance Reads

We’re talking about romancing the reader this month and today I want to mention some swoonworthy Aussie books that well and truely romanced me.

Summer Skins (Kirsty Eager) — the best traditionally published aussie NA I’ve read. Set on campus at an aussie uni, it’s a boys vs girls prank-fest and so much fun.  Get on it!

Words in Deep Blue (Cath Cowley) — so much more than a YA romance. This book is emotion and feeling and friendship and grief all rolled into a ball that isn’t contained nor repaired by love. Just beautiful.

Pieces of Sky (Trinity Doyle) — another book about grief and friendship and love and loss. This book is an amazing aussie YA with a gorgeous aussie beach setting.

On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marcetta) — My goodness. Perfect is one word I’d use to describe this read. It moved me in ways that no other book has. It’s a romance and a mystery and so well written I had writer-envy.

Grafitti Moon (Cath Crowley) — It’s quirky, it’s gritty, it all takes place in one single night. And it’s home to amazingly unique characters that I just want to befriend.

 

The AO&R crew have also written some Aussie romance. Check out the Our Books tab or Goodreads list for more details. I’d suggest Lauren’s Emerald Cove Series, Stacey’s Oxley College Saga, Beck’s Fake, Kaz’s Reluctant Jillaroo, Sharon’s Open Heart Series, Cass’s Lucid Dreaming, or Katie’s Cadence. All are vastly different, yet common in that they hold a romance and an Aussie setting. The rest of the crew have their debut books releasing soon!

What’s your favourite Aussie YA/NA romance read?


Stacey Nash writes aussie YA / NA. Her Oxley College Saga is a series of romances based in the fictional Oxley College on a university campus.To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries not to only romance), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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What is the appropriate heat level for YA romance?

We’re loving the monthly themes here at AO&R and we really hope you are too. If you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like us to cover, please suggest away in the comments or on our facebook page. We’re always open to ideas. Anyways, the month of June is all about romance. So hold on tight so as not to get swept away in the swoon-fest!

It’s a widely known fact that many readers of YA are more ‘young at heart’ than actual young adults. Not speaking for myself of course … 😛 Okay, okay, so I’m totally a mum to one, almost two, real young adults. My little bookworms’ emergence into teenhood has brought with it an unexpected element and a new way of looking at YA books. Where I once devoured anything with so much as a sniff of romance, turning pages until I reached that happily ever after, I often now evaluate as I read. Thinking about books in terms of heat levels and other age appropriate issues. I know, I know. It totally ruins the reading experience.

Many people (including some parents) don’t see the sexiness of a book as an issue when it comes to young readers. In fact, they don’t know that there are different heat levels. They believe that if the book is in the YA section of a bookstore or library then it’s suitable. But as a reader / writer of this category I’ve realised that there is a rather large heat difference between publishers, individual libraries, and especially online bookstore categories (think Amazon and iBooks). Not easy for the cautious parent to navigate.

My teen is thirteen, the other twelve, and although they both know all about the birds and the bees, reading about it in a novel setting is a whole other thing. Neither of them are ready for that. One isn’t even ready to read a make out scene. Eww — girls. 😛  You see, when we read an image plays out in our heads, and it often has more impact than watching a scene that is ‘told’ via a screen. This is because we create the visual, using pictures familiar to us and becoming the main character. Essentially living the scene with them. So, these images are lasting and on a developing brain can have a psychological impact.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I guess that is why most traditional publishers recommend YA for 12+ and most have restrictions on levels of sexiness within their books.

I’ll never forget the first sex scene I read. I was sixteen. It was in John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began and barely lasted a few paragraphs. At the time I felt so naughty and grown up, but looking back now those scenes are very tame and very age appropriate. That book was written before YA was a thing, but it still holds the familiar depth of romance we see in many traditionally published books for the young adult market.

Since becoming an author I’ve learned that most of the big 5 publishers love romance in their YA books, but their kissing and make out scenes are restricted to far less detail than we’d find in a new adult or an adult book. Sex scenes, likewise are okay, but generally not in a blow by blow account. As a parent, this is a relief. It sure makes vetting appropriate books far easier.

I know not all children are the same and some may not need censoring, but my precious, empathetic souls do. Being advanced readers doesn’t make it easy to choose books, but we’re stumbling through this together.

Stay tuned for part two — a more in depth look at YA in libraries — coming up later this month.

What about you — what heat level to you think is appropriate in YA books?

Stacey Nash writes YA and some sexier books that fall under the NA banner. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries not to only romance), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

 

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Are villains just misunderstood heroes?

Welcome to May, lovely readers, and welcome to a new theme here on AO&R. This month we’ve decided to take on villains and I’m going to kick that off with a chat about the awesome craze of villains getting their own story.

We all know that any good villain is just a poor misunderstood soul, right? Bad guys (Dr Evil excepted) don’t think they’re the bad guy. They have their own agenda, which they run to because they believe it’s right. All of their dastardly actions have reasons and these baddies are just people, merely heroes flipped on their heads so that they’re the only ones who think of themselves as heroes. But what if we flipped it back the other way, looking at the story from a whole different angle? What if the villain was actually a hero? Great idea! Let’s take a look how easy it is to turn things around.

(spoiler alert for Wicked, Maleficent, and Jesus Christ Superstar)

The Wicked Witch of the West is a mean, green hag who chases poor Dorothy across Oz until she catches the young girl, who she then imprisons before trying to steal the child’s magical shoes. Yep, she’s a villain alright. But … what if the Witch, let’s call her Elphaba, enchanted a pair of beautiful ruby slippers for her disabled sister, allowing the other woman to walk. Amazing! In blew a whole house and landed on Elphaba’s beloved sister, squashing her to death and leaving her red shoes free for the taking by a little girl. Suddenly our witch doesn’t sound so horrid.

The Wicked Witch of the West as portrayed in the Wizard of Oz.

Then there’s Maleficent, the horrible witch (there’s that word again) who curses Princess Auroa, so that a pinprick to her finger after she turns sixteen will send her into a deep slumber. Wow, these witches sure are mean! But … what if Maleficent was actually a poor wronged soul, who’d been betrayed by her one true love in the name of fear and personal advancement? Would she be so horrid then or would we feel a little sorry for her?

Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Photo credit https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32836217

 

Then there’s Judas, who betrayed Jesus by dobbing him in to Herod ultimately leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. What if that same man was worried about his friend’s recent actions and only went to the king because he feared his mate was now at risk of doing harm instead of the good they’d always preached together? Would we then have some understanding for misunderstood Judas?

Yes, I am taking all of my references from musicals / Disney. Thanks for noticing. 🙂

My point is this: a good hero needs a goal; something they want to achieve. And to make this believable they need a motivation for reaching the goal. If we give these attributes to our villains too then they become the hero of their own stories.

If you’re interested in reading books that turn villains upside down I recommend; Fairest by Marissa Meyer: A story from the perspective of Snow White’s evil stepmother. Never Never by Brianna Shrum: A Peter Pan retelling from Hook’s perspective. The Mists of Avalon: A King Arthur retelling from Morgaine (and some others) perspective.

Have you read any books that make the reader view a villain as a hero?


Stacey Nash loves musicals almost as much as she loves a good villain. She’s even written a few herself. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries not to only talk about bad guys and broadway), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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Marketing: How to lose friends and not influence people

Since it’s something we here at AO&R struggle with to varying degrees, the crew decided that this month’s topic should be marketing, so hang on to your seats … we’ll be talking about marketing mayhem all month!

Now, I’m no expert on the topic, but I am a regular Joe on all the regular social media channels. I also have friends who frequent social media, many of which are young adults. I’m a member of a few author groups and a few reader groups both on Facebook and in real life. So although I’m not experienced when it comes to marketing, I do hear a little about what people love and hate. There’s one thing all these groups and people have in common (other than a love of books) and I hear it often.

From the authors:

How can I get people to buy my book?

From the readers / regular Joes:

How can I empty my social media of all the crap people are trying to sell me?

Oh dear.

As authors we want visibility. We want people to know our books exist, to read them, to love them, to gossip about how great they are, but how do we make this happen? I’m going to leave that to someone else to expand on and instead let’s talk about the quickest ways to make that not happen.

“If I’ve never heard of the author or my friends haven’t recommended them I won’t one-click.” (facebook group)

“If an author continually posts ‘buy my book’ I unfollow them. I want to know the real them, not the sales pitch.” – R (facebook readers group)

“If I wanted to buy a book I’d go to the bookstore, not click a link.” – Miss S (14 y.o)

“Authors are all the same on twitter. They just want you to buy their (retracted swear) book. BORING.” (facebook group)

“I hate seeing ads in my facebook feed. They get in the way of my real friends’ posts.” – V (School mum)

“I followed my friend’s page to support her, but…” *shrugs* “she just wanted me to share her posts and all that did was annoy my friends. I eventually stopped reading her posts.” – H (school mum, in reference to a small business, not books)

“I didn’t click to buy it the first time she posted. What makes her think I’d buy it on the tenth post?” – H (school mum)

Righty-o then. :/

 

Given all of those comments, how does one market on social media? Carefully, thoughtfully, and with the right targeting. If you want to stop potential readers from scrolling right on by I suggest avoiding the following things I’ve heard our target audience complain about;

  • Unsolicited ‘crap’ in news feeds
  • Being expected / asked to share promotional material
  • Only seeing promotional posts / photos from a page
  • Continually seeing pitches for the same product
  • Instragam photos full of nothing but the author’s books
  • Tweets full of links (sorry tweeps)
  • Facebook posts flogging products, even if it’s a different product each time
  • Spamming (that’s the same thing posted/shared repeatedly)

So, how can an author effectively sell books? Lauren had some great ideas on Facebook marketing last week. And if you tune into the rest of our posts this month, AO&R’s other bloggers have some more ideas. Plus, we’ve got an interview with an industry professional coming up, so make sure you stay tuned. There is sure to be some great advice!

While we’re waiting though … what’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to social media advertising?


Stacey Nash hates marketing with a passion, but she’s trying to get better at it. How else will she sell all the great books she’s written? To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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Get to know Heather

In celebration of our two new bloggers we’re using March to reintroduce you to the AO&R team. I had the pleasure of chatting with our fabulous reviewer / contributor Heather. Here’s what she had to say.

Thanks for joining us today, Heather. We see your fabulous reviews on the blog, but our readers would like to know a little more about you. Fill us in!

I live in Newcastle, Australia which is such a pretty, underrated city. I’m seriously outnumbered by my three boys, so I make sure to fill our house with Disney movies and musical soundtracks to balance them out. I write ferociously, read addictively, and spend far too much time dancing to the Wiggles. Sarcasm and dry wit are basically what I live for.

Ha! Maybe your boys will grow up loving Disney. How do you balance work, writing, and a young family?

Badly. Haha is that an answer? I’m on maternity leave right now, which means I get two or three hours during nap time where I frantically pump out words that generally turn out to be no good, but at least its something. When I’m at work, I have to get up an hour and a half before everyone else so I have time to make a coffee and have a quick sprint. There are a lot of to-do lists in the mix also, because I always manage to over commit myself with beta reads, writing goals, and Life.

So, what type of stories do you write?

Speculative YA with flawed MCs and dark themes. Though I am currently plotting a contemporary which is meant to be happy (it won’t be).

Sounds fun! Your most recent big writing news is that you’re repped by Carrie Howland. How did you land an agent?

It took a looooong time. I finished Illusion of a Majesty back in either 2010 or 2011. It was seriously no good. There were rough little gems throughout but that first draft has been 99% reworked and rewritten. It has gone through so many versions I have notebooks FILLED with info to try and keep track of it all. I entered some of the later versions into writing comps on twitter and they generally did okay but nothing came of it. I did a huge edit and decided to try my luck one more time before shelving (traditional querying wasn’t fun for me). Thankfully this comp was the one. Kate Angelella (editor magician) chose IoaM to work on out of over 2000 entries. We spent two months getting it perfect and in the agent round Carrie Howland asked to see the full. The day I got her email offering to work with me didn’t feel real. I expected the usual ‘this is great but not quite for me’ response, so when I actually read it, I couldn’t take it in. I made my husband read it to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I still go back to it sometimes to remind myself I’m not alone in having hope for my stories.

Naw, that’s beautiful. But I’ve read that story and can vouch for it’s awesomeness. Speaking of other rad authors, who’s your all time favourite?

My standard response used to be Richelle Mead (I love her!), until I read The Lunar Chronicles. I am such a Marissa Meyer fangirl it’s embarrassing. I will read anything she releases. When it comes to women’s fiction, I can’t go past Paige Toon.

Oh my gosh. I just finished reading The Lunar Chronicles and I adore all four of those books. Back to you now though, what’s one thing you can’t live without when you are writing?

My bestie (AKA Rebecca Bosevski). Poor thing has to suffer through my snapchats, my word count goals, and my constant whining that the story is no good and I need to delete everything. The amount of times she’s picked me up from an overemotional puddle on the floor is ridiculous and I wouldn’t have finished a story without her.

And one more question, who/what inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve always remembered writing. When I was in primary school I would have a different notebook for each story and create my own overs to go with them. They weren’t great, and even now I wouldn’t be able to make a cover worth a damn. I cowrote stories with friends in high school that never made it past a few chapters, and then a few years went by where I didn’t write anything. Funnily enough a character came to me sometime in my twenties who I couldn’t get out of my head. From there, my first book eventuated.

Fast Five!

Morning person or Night Owl – Morning. Though probably not by choice.
Tea or Coffee – Both. But I can’t function without coffee in the morning.
Harry Potter or Percy Jackson – Harry Potter for sure. Haven’t read PJ.
Writing or reading – Both equally. They compliment each other.
First person or third person (POV) – First.

Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olsen

Heather lives in a little city in Australia with far too many voices in her head. She’s an escapist reader and writer and loves any story with ‘real’ characters who drive the plot. At the moment Heather is author assistant to the wonderful Sharon M. Johnston. Heather has teamed up with her awesome agent Carrie Howland and is currently shopping her most recent WIP (a YA fantasy), working full time, and eating far too much chocolate (haha, like that’s even a thing).

You can find her on Twitter or at Story Queens of Aus.

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This interview was conducted by Stacey Nash, who happens to think Heather is fabulous! Maybe it’s our joint love of YA. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

 

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