Is No Advice Ever Good Advice?

Hi everyone. Well, in answer to the above question, I guess it’s up to you to decide…

So, where am I coming from? This month we’ve been talking about what we wish we’d known when we began this writer journey.   I admit this topic befuddled me. 


Now, I’ve been around a l-o-n-g time. 72 books. Three agents. Multiple editors. European translations.  Traditionally pubbed for almost 25 years and yes, scratch out my eyes if you wish but I sold the first book I subbed.  Does that mean I knew it all? That I know it all? No. Never, Nada. Zilch. I STILL don’t know it all. And I think if I did that some of the magic and mystique of what I do would be lost to me.

But still, I had a post to write, so I pondered and pondered: what do I wish I’d known back then? No matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with anything worthy of sharing.

That dropping penny…


Then the penny dropped. You see, I was having lunch with a group of close writer friends. Some were contracted for their 30th, 40th or even 50th book.  Another was only 7 books in but her first book went to auction and she’s been at the top of her game since. During the long afternoon, I posed the question, hoping for inspiration for this post. And you know what? Every single one of them looked at me with a blank expression.

And that’s when I knew.

4RyL6Yv.gif lightbulb moment

I knew that if I’d known everything back then, I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve enjoyed. And neither would they. The biggest lessons I’ve learned in life are those I’ve learned the hard way through experience. They stick with you. And you don’t forget them. And what’s more, they were personal to me. Specific to me and my journey. Writing is no different.  The most treasured lessons you’ll learn are those you had to fight to overcome.

So I guess that where the ‘no advice’ comes in..

However, my conscience was raging at me, so maybe these aren’t exactly on topic, but these are two things I always tell others who want to become traditionally published.

  • Enjoy your time and as unpub.

Trust me, getting published is a game changer. You now not only have a career, you have a job. You have to turn up. You can’t decide NOT to write for a while. You can’t decide that you’ll take three years to write the next novel because that’s how long it took to write the first.  I’m not pointing any fingers – though privately I am 😉 – but we’ve all seen brilliant first novels that have had raging success and gone on to become leaders in our field with movie franchises to boot – only to find the follow up novels not so enthralling. In fact they can be downright disappointing. Why? Because that first brilliant novel took years to write and the pubs demanded the next in under a year.  That’s reality.  Publishers buy authors. If they buy you, they saw your talent, they liked your story and they bought ‘you’. They’ve invested in you and the best way to secure success for both of you is to continue with more of the same. And quickly.

Published authors see so many, many striving authors not appreciate that time before publication. That period when time was your own, when you wrote whatever took your fancy and you were the only person it mattered to. I’m not saying don’t work hard. I’m just saying don’t forget to enjoy it.

  • Once you’ve submitted a work, don’t fret by the computer second guessing yourself.

If the work is unfinished – finish it. And polish it.

If it is complete – then do what I did in my early days: each time I put the next submission in the mail  (because it was mail in those days!) I went home and began something else.  It saved all that anguishing over whether the editor liked it. It saved my sanity by redirecting my focus.  By the time the answer came, I was so involved in the next project it didn’t hurt as much if it was a negative response.

You’ll not only have a great distraction – you’ll end up with a notable body of work. It’s a win-win.

Final advice

Writing is a crazy game. An affliction. It’s both a blessing and curse. A blessed gift and a curse because it never stops.  If you truly are meant to do this, you’ll  have no choice.  So don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy it.  Your time will come.


Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults kaz-profiles-022

over a 25 year period, many of them  published in several languages. Thirteen are YA novels and every one features a romance. Her latest is The Reluctant Jillaroo, Allen & Unwin, 2016 .  She is repped by JDM Management.

Time After Time


This month on Aussie Owned and Read, we’re giving out advice to newbie writers and filling you all in on the things we wish we knew starting out.

Everyone before us has given some incredible info, so we’re here to focus on time.

Publishing is a slooooow business and no one is exempt from the wait. There are things you can do to help this process which we will touch on below.

These are our stories:

Heather started writing about seven years ago. She is part way through her fourth full length novel and has a short story published in Words With Heart charity anthology. She signed with Carrie Howland of Empire Literary at the end of 2015. To get to this point, there were countless rewrites of the first two books, various beta readers, and SO much feedback. Also rejections. You need to prepare yourself for the fact people won’t like what you’re writing.

Rebecca began writing  about the same time, often crediting Heather with reigniting a fire she thought was long extinguished. She self published her first novel Enchanting the Fey in November of 2016, and her second, Alpha Nine July this year. The completion of both in large part, is thanks to the support and encouragement of her writers groups, beta readers and bestie Heather. Right now she is frantically writing the sequel to Enchanting the Fey.

All of your favourite authors have been through the wait no matter which path they chose to take. Even those people who seem to be an overnight success have put in the hard yards, and trust me when I say you will be no different.

So what can you do about it? Not a lot, unfortunately. However there are a few points to help speed up the process.


  1. Make a Plan

Figure out where you want to be in X amount of years and break down the process. And make sure these are things you can control. Saying ‘I want to be on the NYT Bestseller List next year’ is not something you can control. Make it SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. Something like this:

Heather: Between 1st July and 31st August I will write a minimum of 1,000 words a day to have WIP4 complete as measured by finished novel. – Heather works well with structure, having strict timelines and a solid plan in place. She thrives on knowing exactly where she needs to be and will push herself hardest when she sees her goal in sight.

Rebecca: Between Alpha Nine launch in July and my family holiday in September I will write every day! – Rebecca’s plan is more directed with life events to guide her, and with no expectation of number of words to reach per day, but rather a goal to simply write every day, she doesn’t feel discouraged when she has time to only get down a few lines.


2. Edit, edit, edit!

The cleaner your manuscript is, the better in the long run. Go over your book again and again and again. No matter if you’re the greatest writer in the world, there are always edits to be done. And if it’s your very first book ever, there will be LOADS of edits. (No, you are not the exception). Leave your work to rest for at least a month. Make loads of writer friends, ask them to beta read. If you can afford it right now, hire an editor, if you can’t… save your dollars and then hire an editor. Editors are worth the cost. They not only find the little spelling errors or misused words, but offer you a wider overview of your work. They find the holes and help you to fill them in. Not every editor is for everybody, so take the time to find one that understands you and your style, it will make the process a lot smoother.


3. Self Publish 

Traditional publishing is the slowest of slow. You need to be prepared to wait at every stage: querying agents, submitting to editors, waiting on your book to hit shelves. It is literally years between signing a publishing contract, going through edits, and having your book in your hands.


To be clear, the common misconception that ‘self publishing is easy’ is so far from being true it’s laughable.

But it can be a hell of a lot faster, because when you self publish you control the process yourself. It is up to you how long it takes for writing, editing, formatting, cover design etc. But the time you save with the actual publication needs to be put into marketing your book because that thing isn’t going to sell itself. Marketing is one of the hardest aspects.

As a self published author, Rebecca is still learning and will always be learning the different ways she can market her books to get them into the hands of more readers. Facebook and other social media platforms offer a great and often affordable avenue, but if you have the money, you could employ professional marketers to help you push your books.


Now you know a little more about how we got here, please tell us a bit about where you are in your author journey. What is your author story, and did it take copious amounts of coffee to get you there? It did for the both of us.




Knowledge for Pitch Wars Newbies

Pitch Wars can be a really stressful time for aspiring authors, especially if you trying to navigate your way through the hashtags: #PitchWars #AskMentor and a whole host of others that I can’t keep up with!

Here are some tips to help those of you who are trying to make sense of everything:

  1. Follow Brenda Drake on her blog,  Twitter and Facebook: Pitch Wars is Brenda’s brain-child and she will be releasing information first… including this all important post.
  2. Check out the #PitchWars and #AskMentor hashtag on Twitter, and interact with both mentors and other aspiring mentees.
  3. Have a real talk with yourself to determine if you’re manuscript is ready. Often, writers are impatient (I know I am), and let loose their MS before it’s too ready. ON the other hand, some writers polish their work too much.
  4. Play nice with others. This is a great community, and you could make life-long CPs and friends from the process.
  5. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. Make sure your MS matches the types of novels accepted, and do your research when the mentor wish-list blog hop comes out. Don’t waste your entry on mentors who aren’t in your category or don’t want your genre.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure you’re question hasn’t already been answered in the mentor’s bio/wish-list. In other words, don’t twitter pitch the mentors. It gets awkward.
  7. If you want to sub to more mentors you can through a donation, which is used for administration costs not mentors. Find out more here.

If you have any additional questions you can hit me up on Twitter, or ask questions in the comments.

Stacey Nash and I are comentoring this year, and we look forward to seeing your YA entries.

Pink 1

Sharon M. Johnston is a YA and NA author from sunny Queensland who occasionally has pink hair. She loves listening to audiobooks, and has a text to voice app so she can listen to Pitch Wars entries.

From Query to Publication – Six Stages of Emotion

Are you a writer? Have you been busily squirreling away words in secret while the rest of your household sleeps? Maybe you’re at that uncertain point where you’re thinking of writing a novel, of taking the leap into a pool of words powerful enough to build new kingdoms and birth new people. Yes? YES? Do it! Take the plunge! It’s completely and utterly magical. It will ensnare you, captivate you. And it will catapult you down a raging river of unchecked emotion.


Photo by Carl Cerstrand on Unsplash

I’m new to this publishing gig. My first novel is due for release in just a few weeks (Yay! Yikes! Gulp!), but I’m already well familiar with the emotional ups and downs that come with bringing a book baby into the world. So strap on your floaties (or maybe a life vest) and hold on tight as I take you through the six stages of the traditional publication journey’s Raging River of Emotions. First comes …

1. The Calm on the River Bank (Emotions = sense of achievement / satisfaction)

After months, maybe years, of self doubt, procrastination, and cleaning dirt from under your fingernails after all the times you’ve had to dig yourself out of a plot hole, you’ve finished your novel! Big pat on the back. You should be proud. This is a great achievement. Writing an entire novel is no small feat. But now what? How do you release it into the big wide world? Well, you must dip your toes into …

2. The Churning Channel of Submissions (Emotions = confusion / doubt)

Whether you’re querying agents or submitting your manuscript directly to editors and publishers, you’ll need to decide WHO to send it to. Which agent is a good fit for you as a writer? Which editors or publishers are looking for your kind of story? Confusion abounds as you sift through agent and editor databases, and your eyes glaze over as you try to read yet another set of submission guidelines. But, with perseverance – and copious cups of triple shot coffee – you’ll eventually have a list of suitable agents, editors, and publishers. You then dutifully send out your query in small batches like all the query gurus have advised you to do. And you float down river into …

3. The Query Rapids


Photo by Jérôme Prax on Unsplash

This treacherous three-stage stretch of water will take you through a looping cycle of emotions, starting with …

  • The Waiting Wetlands (Emotions = frustration / impatience)

This is a long, dull, and trying section of the river as you wait to hear back from agents and publishers. Response times vary hugely. You might luck in and hear within a couple of weeks. Or you might still be waiting eight months down the track. It might be wise to take up yoga or Pilates. I’ve heard it’s good for managing stress levels. It’ll come in handy when you hit …

  • The Falls of Rejection (Emotions = disappointment / doubt)

This is possibly the worst part of the Raging River of Emotions. No matter how prepared you think you are, this huge dip will wind you every time you drop down it (and you’re bound to drop down it a few times at least!). But you must hang on and push through. The publishing business is hugely subjective. What is a pass for one agent / editor might well excite another. If you’re lucky to get feedback, read it with a critical eye and apply accordingly. Oh, and maybe book an extra yoga class. It’ll help you paddle into …

  • The Upstream of Persistence (Emotions = cautious optimism / determination)

Once you’ve climbed back into your boat and wrung out your sopping T-shirt, as well as your badly bruised pride, you send out the next batch of queries and submissions. Because you are made of stern stuff and the world needs your story. Rinse and repeat step 3 until you develop RSI in your index finger from hitting the refresh button on your email inbox while waiting for …

4. THE Mouth of the River CALL! (Emotions = euphoria / excitement)

This! This is what you’ve been waiting for! Finally, you can see the vast, open publishing ocean ahead. And someone has offered to help you set sail across it. Someone who loves your story as much as you do and wants to take it to the far ends of the earth. They love your voice, your characters, your unusual style of punctuation. But first you’ll need to navigate through …

5. The Editing Tributaries (Emotions = confusion / self doubt / impatience)

You’ve signed the contract, sucked the last drop from your bottle of bubbly, and now the hard work begins. You’re asked to kill off a character, add an extra chapter, and get rid of that unusual punctuation style. It’s not uncommon to be a little confused at some editorial suggestions that come your way. Self doubt can often creep in here, but a sound collaborative editorial relationship is crucial to your book’s success. Ask questions and learn from the reasoning behind editorial suggestions, because it won’t be long before your book’s …

6. Release into the Big Book Ocean (Emotions = excitement / anxiety)


Photo by Nathan Hulsey on Unsplash

At last! Your book’s birthday has arrived. You can’t stop staring at the cover, and your friends and family can name every character in your book. Even Guido, the one-legged postman who makes a brief appearance in chapter six. It’s likely a time of mixed emotions. Excitement, anxiety, sense of pride, fear of failure. Revel in ALL of them, feel them in every corner of your writerly being, because they are proof you’ve breathed life into a new story and dared to share it with the world. And that’s something worth braving the query to publication Raging River of Emotions.

Tell us about your writing / publishing river of emotions. Does it look similar or have you had a different experience?

Kat Colmer Author

Kat Colmer is a Young and New Adult author, and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA The Third Kiss is due out with ENTANGLED TEEN in August 2017. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

If I only knew…

By no means do I consider myself an expert at this but I have been writing for a while now and this month we’re sharing things we wish we’d known back when we were starting out.

  1.  The secret

Of course the secret is that there is no secret to any of it. There is craft and grind and learning and friends and showing up each day (or when you can). And I read this and was told this but I still thought there would be some magic secret that would make me a success.

Which brings me to:

2. Success

Enjoy the little wins. This is something I still struggle with. From the first opening the doc and starting (this is cool, lots of people are gonna write a book one day, to start even does man something I think) to writing the end there are so many wins.



That’s before great feedback and crits, contest wins or even the day it’s published. I need to get better at focusing on each of them and worrying less about the things I want to improve. Don’t let worry steal joy.

3. The community

I didn’t realise I wouldn’t be alone. I’m super shy and awkward but people in the book community are so warm and welcoming and I’d like to still get better at this but they’re there to be embraced (metaphorically and sometimes even literally).




beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

Review: Into the Dark– Book Two of the Into the Mists Trilogy by Serene Conneeley

Carlie coped with moving from her home in Sydney, Australia to a small village in England to live with a stranger. She battled her way through the mists she thought would drown her, and emerged transformed. She was even starting to think she’d survive the death of her parents. But now an old diary, which promises to reveal the mystery of her mother, threatens to tear her world apart. How will the words she reads affect her? Will she wish the truth had died with her mum? And what is the connection to her own life hidden within the pages? In the second book of the gripping Into the Mists Trilogy, a new relationship with her grandmother is opening Carlie’s soul to the energy and power of the earth. A new friend is opening her mind to the magic and potential within her. And a new love is opening her heart to the sweetest enchantment of all. Yet betrayal hovers around her, and she will face an ultimatum, a sacrifice and a cruel choice that might just break her. Will Carlie find the courage to go into the darkness of her own heart and seek the wisdom and strength she needs to survive, or will the tragedies and the pain of her life break her into a million little pieces?

Narrated beautifully by Gabrielle Baker, Into the Dark was hard to put down. Carlie is finally beginning to see a life for herself, to overcome the loss of her parents and her path to self discovery is brighter every day.

Her understanding of the magic she holds within and her relationship with both Rhiannon, and her grandmother deepens throughout. But it is her discovery of the life her mother had before running away and moving to Australia that I found most enticing.

Carlie unravels the pieces of her mother’s past and is shocked by the similarities to her own life. A love interest. Older. Gifted. Secret? – Carlie has been warned of betrayal, I feared this new love would undo her.

But it was a collection of horrific events her mother endured, written with a raw emotion that had me welling with tears.


The final chapter of this beautiful tale hits with a shocking blow, so much so, that I rewound to be sure I had heard correctly. But do not let that deter you – Into the Dark will captivate you. And you, like I, will be rushing out to get book 3 – Into the Light to discover the rest of Carlie’s story.



Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.

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?


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:, instagram, twitter, facebook.