Why marketing is all about relationships – a guest post by L.M. Merrington

Today’s post is by L. M. Merrington, an Australian writer of Gothic fiction. Take it away, Lou!

Two years ago, almost to the day, my first novel, Greythorne, was released. Because I had a contract with a digital-first imprint of one of the Big Five publishers, I (naively) thought that this meant they’d take care of a lot of the marketing. I quickly discovered, as plenty of debut authors have, just how wrong I was.

Fast forward two years and I’m about to release my second novel, The Iron Line, which is out on 4 December. A lot has happened in the intervening time – the imprint I was with closed down, leaving me with some big decisions to make. I eventually got my rights back and, rather than pursuing another traditional contract, chose to go indie. (If you’re interested in reading more about how and why I came to that decision, I recently wrote an article about it for online magazine Inside Story). In terms of marketing, this means I’m now completely on my own, but I’ve also got far more freedom than I had before.

There’s so much out there about book marketing, especially for indie authors, and especially using online tools like email lists or Facebook and Amazon ads. I don’t want to rehash that here; rather, I just want to share a few of the things that have worked for me over the last two years. I’ve discovered a lot of this through trial and error, and growing an audience for your books is a slow process. But the main thread that’s come through for me is the importance of relationships and authenticity.

  1. Build your networks

Networking has always been a major factor in my career success outside of writing, and I’m finding that it’s exactly the same in Book World. By networking I don’t mean getting up in people’s faces and selling aggressively, but rather establishing and maintaining relationships with people who are genuinely interested in what you do. These can be online, in person, or a combination of both – one of my first speaking gigs as a published author was via Skype with book club members at a public library in Ohio.

In fact, one of my most fruitful ongoing marketing efforts has developed as a result of networking. While I was writing Greythorne I happened to get back in touch with my former English teacher, who is still teaching at my old high school. I asked if she’d beta read for me, which she did, and after the book was released she invited me to give an author talk and run a writing workshop with students. Based on the success of this, Greythorne was added to the Year 8 reading list – although it’s not strictly a YA book, it has a young protagonist and themes suitable for teenagers.

The teachers also encouraged me to run a workshop at a conference for Victorian Association for the Teaching of English, and an attendee at that workshop subsequently got Greythorne added to the Year 8 reading list at her school. In addition, I was also contacted by a parent of one of the students, who had contacts in the film industry and was interested in passing the book on to them for consideration. So you just never know where things might go. I hadn’t initially considered teachers as part of my marketing plan, but now I see these relationships as invaluable.

  1. Make life easy for your audience

Over the last two years I’ve built up quite a few supplementary materials for Greythorne, aimed at libraries, schools, and journalists. These include book club notes, teaching notes, and a media kit. All of these provide extra information about the book (in the case of the notes), or about me (in the case of the media kit), and they’re all available for free on my website. Teachers and journalists in particular are very time-poor, and are more likely to engage with your book if you’ve already done some of the hard work for them. A Canberra news site, The RiotACT, recently published an article on my new release using material drawn almost entirely from my media kit.

  1. Say yes to things

Say yes to opportunities, even if they’re a bit outside your comfort zone, and you’ll be amazed where they can take you. Give talks at libraries (or schools, or nursing homes); do interviews with local media; run free writing workshops with your local community; write guest blog posts or articles; attend conferences and markets; and give your readers some way to contact you (and of course make sure you always respond). And ask the people you interact with if they know anyone else who might be interested – word of mouth is a powerful thing. When I was still with a traditional publisher, I sold considerably more books myself than the publisher did, even without access to online promotional tools. In the two months since I’ve gone indie, I’ve sold more paperbacks than the publisher did in a year.

For many authors, the idea of getting out there and spruiking your wares is terrifying, and as an introvert myself I can understand that. But I also see it as a huge privilege that people even care about my little book and want to hear more about it, and I love interacting with readers. There are also so many organisations – especially libraries, schools and local media – who are keen to support local and emerging authors, so they’re relationships that are really worth building.

I believe it’s a very exciting time to be an author – we have more options and opportunities to reach our readers than ever before. Marketing shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable or scared; you just need to find a way that works for you.


L.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in media and communications and Chinese, and a PhD in international relations. A former journalist, strategic analyst, and university communications manager, she currently runs her own business, Pure Arts Communications. She is also the author of a non-fiction book, Communications for Volunteers: Low-Cost Strategies for Community Groups, released in early 2017. She lives in Canberra with her husband, Tristan. Her first novel, Greythornewas published in 2015, and her new novel, The Iron Line, will be released on 4 December 2017. Her website is www.lmmerrington.com.

Halloween Reads for Cowards

halloween-1746354_1920

Image via Pixabay

October means ghosts, ghouls and all things ghastly for those who enjoy Halloween. So this month on Aussie Owned and Read we thought we’d tackle the frightening and scary in all its different manifestations.

I confess, I’m not a fan of scary. I won’t be lining up to see the new remake of Stephen King’s IT. Ever. I’m more of a Ghostbusters kinda girl. You know, where the ghosts and ghouls are tempered down with quirk or humour (and a dose of Chris Hemsworth). So here’s a list of Halloween ‘horror’ novels for scaredy Kats like me:

  1. The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher by Doug MacLeod (Penguin)

Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher Cover

Thomas Timewell is sixteen and a gentleman. When he meets a body-snatcher called Plenitude, his whole life changes. He is pursued by cutthroats, a gypsy with a meat cleaver, and even the Grim Reaper. More disturbing still, Thomas has to spend an evening with the worst novelist in the world.
A very black comedy set in England in 1828, The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher shows what terrible events can occur when you try to do the right thing. ‘Never a good idea,’ as Thomas’s mother would say.

I read this wacky Aussie historical when it was first published seven years ago. It’s got its share of the macabre but it’s not exactly scary. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well as gross bits. Not one for the squeamish, but heaps of fun.

2. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner (Allen & Unwin)

The Dead I Know Cover

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘Steady. We’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain, and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

The Dead I Know is an intense psychological thriller, but it also fits a Halloween theme nicely because the protagonist Aaron works in a morgue. Interestingly, it’s not the dead people who he needs to be afraid of most.

  1. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinx (Allen & Unwin)

The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Nina became a vampire in 1973 when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun either, because her life is so sickly and boring.

It becomes even worse when one of the other vampires in her therapy group is staked by a mysterious slayer. Threatened with extinction, she and her fellow vampires set out to hunt down the culprit. Trouble is, they soon find themselves up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing.

Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Is there more to being a vampire than meets the eye?

I love me a good vampire spoof and this book delivers. Not only does it provide a hilarious alternative addition to the vampire genre, it’s got romance and action to boot!

  1. Gap Year in Ghost Town (Allen & Unwin)

Gap Year in Ghost Town

The Marin family run a two-man operation in inner-city Melbourne. Anton has the ghost-sight, but his father does not. Theirs is a gentle approach to ghost hunting. Rani Cross, combat-skilled ghost hunter from the Company of the Righteous, is all about the slashing.

Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – but with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, they must find a way to work together.

And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must use his gap year to decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost-hunting biz . . .

I am yet to read this, but it looks PERFECT for horror-cowards like me. According to the publisher it’s smart, snappy and funny. And scary. It DOES say it’s scary. Still, the cover alone might be worth the risk.

What are some of your favourite scary – or not so scary – Halloween reads?

 


Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young 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 out now with ENTANGLED TEEN and is definitely more swoony than scary. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

My top five YA reads of 2016

We’re almost at the end of 2016. It’s so close I can almost smell the beach and taste the Christmas pavlova. That means it’s time for summer reading (or winter reading, if the northern hemisphere is how you roll). So here are five of my five-star reads* from 2016**.

I’ve linked to my full review for each book if you want to investigate further. Just click on the book name in each heading.

* YA reads. And excluding books by Aussie Owned and Read bloggers. Because if I don’t narrow the category down I’ll never get the list down to five.

** I read them in 2016. They may have come out sooner than that! ***

*** Am I using too many footnotes?

‘Under Rose-Tainted Skies’ by Louise Gornall

I already blogged about this one during my post on must-read diverse books (and I could have also included the other book from that post, tbh) — but since my tastes usually run to speculative fiction, I thought I’d better include a serious contemporary for those of you that prefer your books to be unflinching, in-your-face and supernatural-free. Under Rose-Tainted Skies tells the story of a teen struggling with agoraphobia and anxiety, and it’s so engaging and heartbreaking and real.

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl’ by Melissa Keil

Cinnamon Girl is another contemporary that I loved but, where Rose is heartbreaking, Cinnamon Girl is geeky and funny and sweet. It addresses the common teen panic about the future — that “what do I do now I’ve finished school and all my friends are moving away” theme — through the mechanism of a small town and the end of the world. (It is contemporary, I swear.) Melissa Keil is a wonderful Melbourne writer and I want to be like her when I grow up. I just wish she’d been writing when I was a teen.

‘Gemina’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina is the sequel to NYT bestseller Illuminae, the groundbreaking YA sci-fi by notorious Melbourne crimefighting duo a pair of talented Melbourne* writers. It’s groundbreaking because it is presented in a “found footage” way: instant message and radio transcripts, emails, security camera footage, hand-drawn illustrations. If Illuminae is space zombies meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gemina is a mash-up of space terrorists and space, um, aliens. Like, aliens from the movie Aliens. (This isn’t a spoiler if you’ve read the blurb, btw.) You really need to read both books to get a full appreciation for the story, though. Have at it!

* What is it about Melbourne, you guys?

‘Winter’ by Marissa Meyer

Winter is the fourth (or fifth if you count the novella Fairest) in the Lunar Chronicles, one of the cleverest fairytale reimaginings I’ve ever read.This series is the queen of fairy tale retellings. But not the evil queen. (Okay, maybe slightly evil.) It’s set on an alternate Earth and is a little bit sci-fi — by way of example, Cinder, the Cinderella character, is a cyborg with a detachable foot instead of an ill-fitting glass slipper. If you want a series with a fairy tale feel, some kissing and an actual, honest to goodness “they all lived happily ever after” (because it’s a fairy tale retelling and that’s obligatory), I highly recommend this entire series! But, again, start at the beginning.

‘Every Move’ by Ellie Marney

I read both Every Word (#2) and Every Move (#3) this year, after reading the first book in this Sherlock-inspired trilogy last year. All three books in the series are fast-paced, with a murder mystery, some forensic science, some heated kissing and some moments that left me reeling. The characters, James Mycroft and Rachel Watts, are one of my new favourite young adult couples. I love how realistic and awkward they are with one another. The other thing I adored was how Aussie the characters are; Ellie Marney is from Victoria (but not from Melbourne — ha!).

So, there you have it. My top five YA non-AOR reads of 2016. What are yours?

Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who has a YA urban fantasy available free, and an adult urban fantasy currently on sale for $0.99. Because if you can’t shamelessly self-promote at Christmas, when can you do it?

Cassandra Page

Interview: L.M. Merrington, author of ‘Greythorne’

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I worked with several other writers. One of them moved to London (not me), and another left to pursue a job in the hallowed halls of academia (also not me). L.M. is the latter, and I’m very excited to be able to interview her about her first book, Greythorne. Thanks for dropping by, L.M. 🙂

Your debut, Greythorne, just came out with Momentum Books. Tell us about it.

Greythorne is a Gothic horror/suspense novel for readers aged 14+. I like to think of it as Jane Eyre meets Frankenstein, with a little bit of Rebecca thrown in there too. This is the blurb:

How did Lucy Greythorne die?

From the moment Nell Featherstone arrives at Greythorne Manor as a governess to eight-year-old Sophie, she finds herself haunted by the fate of the mistress of the house, and entranced by the child’s father, the enigmatic Professor Nathaniel Greythorne.

When a violent storm reveals Lucy’s body is not in her grave, Nell becomes suspicious about the Professor’s research. But what she discovers in his laboratory will turn all her ideas about life and death, morality and creation on their head.

Enthralled by a man walking a fine line between passion and madness, Nell must make an impossible choice between life, death and life after death, where any mistake could be her last.

What drew you to the Gothic horror genre?

Greythorne is actually a bit of an anomaly for me, because in the past I’ve always written young adult fantasy. I was inspired by classic horror and adventure stories – not just the obvious ones like Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but also Jane Eyre, Moonfleet and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The Woman in Black was also a big influence. I’ve always had a fascination with the nineteenth century, and particularly women’s stories, because it was time of great social change and options were starting to open up for women in a way they hadn’t before.

I think the attraction of horror/mystery as a genre is the way it lets you explore fear and psychology as an author. I’m not into gore – there isn’t much actual violence in Greythorne – but I’m fascinated by the idea of moral choices and I like putting characters into situations where their deepest values are challenged. I’m also really interested in the idea of ‘normality’ and the line between sanity and madness.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

My favourite part is also the part I hate the most – writing the first draft. Greythorne was a NaNoWriMo book – it was the first time I’d done NaNo and I found the discipline it gave me really helpful. I’ve just started doing it again for my next novel and I’m remembering how much I both love and hate the process. I love it because it’s really exciting watching a story unfold before you – seeing the characters develop in unexpected ways and it going places you never envisaged. But I hate it because I can’t help feeling I don’t know what I’m doing – I have a vague idea about the beginning and the end but the middle is a big blank at the moment and that’s a bit scary.

I also actually really enjoyed the final copy-edit, which is probably not something many authors say. The manuscript was on its fifth draft by then and the copy-editor I worked with was fantastic – she picked up stuff I’d completely missed and I know the book was substantially improved as a result.

If you could live and write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I visited Venice a few years ago and I think it’s still top of my list. There’s such a wealth of inspiration there for artists and writers – you’re surrounded by this overwhelming richness of history, architecture, art, music and culture, and there’s always something going on.

Failing that, I’d be happy with a little study with a nice view of some greenery. Actually, time rather than place is the real luxury as far as I’m concerned – I currently fit my writing in around full-time work, so if I had the opportunity to write full-time or even just one or two full days a week I don’t think the place would matter much.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just started my next novel, which is tentatively titled The Dark Before the Dawn. I’m sticking with the Gothic theme, but this time it’s set in Australia in the mid-1860s. In traditional Gothic style, there is a strong sense of isolation, usually with the protagonist being stuck in a haunted house or similar, but in Australian Gothic the isolation is very much about the landscape and being stuck in a country far removed from ‘civilisation’. I don’t have much yet, but this is the rough outline of the story. I’m really looking forward to exploring ideas of madness and isolation, as well as drawing on Australian folklore and the rich tradition of bushrangers, ghosts and hauntings in southern New South Wales. I’ve never written anything set in Australia before so this is a new challenge.

Elizabeth King is on her way home to her family’s property near Goulburn after spending the winter with her wealthy aunt in Sydney Town. But the routine journey takes an unexpected turn when her coach is waylaid by bushrangers – Frederick Black and his gang, including his sister Sarah. The only survivor, Elizabeth is forced to accompany Frederick and Sarah, but soon a shocking crime leaves Frederick dead and the girls on the run from the law. They decide to make for the Victorian goldfields, but in the rugged hills and isolated valleys of the Southern Highlands something is waiting…

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just write the bloody thing. Ultimately there’s no substitute for just turning up day after day after day and getting words down even when you feel like you’ve got nothing left, because you can always fix bad writing later, but you can’t edit a blank page. I’ve been to quite a few writers’ groups made up of people who like to talk a lot about writing – and how hard it is to find time to do it – but don’t actually write much. If you really want to, you can make the time. I wrote Greythorne for an hour a day in the early morning before work, and as I’m not a morning person it was a real struggle. But it was also amazing how fast it came along when I plugged away at it every day. Find a time of day that works for you and just write for an hour (actually write, don’t play on the internet) and you’ll have a finished manuscript before you know it.

The other thing I’d say is learn technique. For many years I had a lot of inspiration but didn’t really have the discipline or understand the mechanics of getting it all down on paper. Learn about things like plot, structure, dialogue and setting, and start to use those tools deliberately. And then learn how to edit, because your first draft will be pretty rubbish. I finished the first draft of Greythorne in three months, but it took another nine months and three drafts before it was ready to even think about submitting to a publisher.

The final piece of advice I have relates to the business of writing. When you get a contract you suddenly have to go from being this isolated, creative soul to being a tough, logical businessperson. Join professional associations, get a mentor, attend seminars, do whatever it takes to prepare yourself for that – learn the basics of accounting/tax issues for small businesses, marketing (because you’ll probably have to do most of it yourself, regardless of which publisher you’re with) and how to negotiate contracts. Most writers don’t even think about the business side until it bashes them over the head, so get across it early. If, like me, you don’t have an agent, you’ll need to work out how to handle all this stuff and where to go for help.

If you could have lunch with any one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

C.S. Lewis, because I’m in awe of both his intellect and his prose. The Chronicles of Narnia are obviously his best-known books, but I also love his work for adults, a lot of which is non-fiction and revolves around discussions of theology. He had the great gift of being able to discuss complex topics in a way that was simple but not simplistic – the mark of a great communicator – and he also had an incredible imagination and was really just a damn good storyteller.

Pick one of the following:

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Rain or shine? Shine

Introvert or extrovert? Introvert

Beach or mountains? Beach

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Plotter or pantser? Somewhere in between…but probably pantser.

About L.M. Merrington

lm-merrington-portrait-croppedL.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in media and communications and Chinese, and a PhD in international relations, and has worked as a freelance journalist, editor, strategic analyst and communications manager. She lives in Canberra with her husband Tristan. Greythorne is her first novel.

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Greythorne‘s book launch is on Friday 27 November, 6pm at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka, Canberra. Click here for the Facebook event.


 

Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy author whose fourth book, Lucid Dreaming, released this week …so she is currently hiding under her doona, eating chocolate.

Cassandra Page

 

Author Interview: Cassandra Page

Going through our interviewed authors, I noticed the absence of an interview of our very own Cassandra Page! I had to rectify this, so here we are today! Cass is one of those super supportive, hard working types, and has her trilogy out, plus another novel on the way. So with no further ado, here’s Cassandra!

Cassandra Page

  1. Tell us a little about you.

I could cut and paste my author biography here, but that feels a little bit like cheating. So instead, let’s go with this: I’m a long-time nerd, who has been role-playing since her teens and still has a weekly tabletop game even though she should have grown up years ago. At this stage it doesn’t seem likely, though. I’m a single mother to a bright little boy, having done the dreary marriage/divorce thing. (I don’t recommend it unless you have to.) I have a weakness for good coffee and chocolate, and an abhorrence of bad coffee and chocolate. I’m an introvert who would prefer to spend her time curled up with a book, a pen and paper, or a colouring book, rather than go to a noisy party full of strangers. I’m a public service editor, so I spend a lot of time reading boring reports and have opinions on hyphens (yes please), the Oxford comma (where required) and semicolons (not just for winky emoticons).

I think that about covers it!

  1. You currently have The Isla Inheritance Series available. Tell us a little about the series and how you came up with the concept.

Actually, sadly, Isla’s Inheritance is currently unavailable. The small press that published it is closing its doors this month, and so the trilogy has been pulled from sale. I’m currently working on getting it ready to self-publish, with shiny new covers and a new feel. One of the things about publishing through a US press was that some of the Australianisms got toned down in the editing process — entirely reasonable at the time, but I’m re-editing them to correct that. I love my Australianisms.

But to answer your actual question, Isla’s Inheritance is a trilogy about an Australian girl named Isla (surprise!) who lives with her aunt and cousins here in Canberra. Her father immigrated here when she was a baby after her mother died … or so he has always told her. During the course of the series, Isla discovers her mother is actually an aosidhe, a member of the high fae: the cruel elfin overlords of the various fae races. Her father fled to Australia to escape her, but loves her still. Isla needs to navigate a fae world she’s never heard of before in order to keep herself and her loved ones safe. But with kissing.

  1. LD_CoverEbook_Fina_smllYour next book, Lucid Dreaming is due for release soon. When will that be and what can you tell us about it?

Lucid Dreaming is scheduled for release on 3 November. As I write this, the Kindle ebook is available for pre-order, and I’m hoping to have links for the other retailers soon.

Melaina, the protagonist, has a few things in common with Isla: she also lives in Canberra, and she is also only half-human – although her non-human half is Oneiroi, or dream spirit. That is something that had always been impossible, for rather obvious anatomical reasons; her birth caused a significant amount of consternation among the Oneiroi and caused her non-human father to go into hiding rather than reveal how it had happened…

Lucid Dreaming is a story for older readers; while Isla’s Inheritance is suitable for teens, Melaina’s story is darker and, well, has a few steamy moments. I’m currently preoccupied with trying to figure out how to stop my mother from getting hold of a copy. 😉

  1. What types of books do you read?

I usually read speculative fiction: mainly urban fantasy, but with some high fantasy, steampunk and sci-fi thrown in. I’ve also started reading a fair smattering of contemporary in the last couple of years, partly because several of my very talented author friends write it, and partly because I’ve been doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, which has forced me to diversify. I just finished a devastating historical, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth, and am still reeling.

  1. Do you have any advice for novice writers?

Write now, edit later.

I’ve read a lot of books and blog posts about writing, and when I was drafting my first novel I spent a fair bit of time thinking – no, obsessing – about all the things I was doing “wrong”. For example, I knew my first chapter had issues. I spent a lot of time worrying about that, and tinkering with it, rather than continuing to draft the book. As a result, writing that first draft took over a year. And it wasn’t until I’d received some valuable beta feedback and gained some critical distance from my work – something you can only get through time and practice – that I was able to see the issues and fix them.

  1. Tell us about your writing habits.

I wish I could say I wrote every day, but that would be a lie. I usually only write two or three times a week. To keep myself on track, I use a weekly word goal instead. With my most recent manuscript, that was 2000 words, although often it’d be higher when I had to catch up due to disruptions. All three Isla’s Inheritance books came out during the drafting process, so I was somewhat distracted!

I don’t write to music or anything like that. I prefer the house to be quiet, although the distant chatter of the TV is okay if I’m trying to get work done while the boy is awake. It’s terrible parenting, I know – but I tell myself that it’s good for him to see me role-modelling values like persistence, and following your dreams. (Seems legit.)

  1. If you were one of the characters in your book/s which one would you be and why?

I wish I could say Melaina – she is sassy, confident and a little bit punk. She’s what I wished I was when I was a teenager. But, if I’m truthful, I’m closer to Emma: the bespectacled, socially awkward girl who runs the séance for Isla in the first chapter of Isla’s Inheritance. I’m also a bit like Isla herself, in her sensibleness and, well, squareness – although Isla isn’t a nerd.

I need to write a book with a nerdy main character. *writes that down*

  1. If you could live and write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love Canberra but, if I could, I’d live somewhere close to the beach, where I can go for a walk along the rocks with my son, or sit on the dunes and watch the waves while I contemplate a plot problem.

  1. If you had one wish (something personal) what would it be?

It’s a bit of a cliché, because most writers probably say this, but I wish I earned enough from my writing so that I could support myself and my boy without having to work my day job. I enjoy what I do, but working around everything else means I’m such a slow writer. Also, being able to collect my son from school every day (and write in peace while he’s there) would be a real privilege.

Bio

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat — despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres — although urban fantasy is her favourite. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

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Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

The Aussie Women Writers challenge

aww-badge-2015The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge is part of the growing world-wide movement to raise awareness of excellent writing by women. It helps readers to challenge the subconscious stereotypes that govern our choice of books to read. We are excited to be entering our third year and hope that we can help you do something about this issue.

I’ve always read a more-than-average number of books by female writers — I’m guessing maybe a third of my reads were by women, although I don’t have any data to back that up — but almost all of them were by Americans or Brits. When I realised this, it left me scratching my head. I love reading book set in my own backyard, and I want to see a healthy Australian publishing industry (partly for selfish reasons, I admit), so why didn’t I read more Aussie books?! Eventually I realised that a lot of that was because at the time I was buying all my books from big-chain bookstores, and so my biases reflected what was on the shelves.

In the last two years I’ve really been embracing online reading challenges to encourage myself to find time to read, and last year I discovered the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge. I figured, why not? After all, I wanted to see the ratio of male to female writers that I read being closer to fifty percent, and I want to support Aussies across the board. I set myself the challenge to read and review six books by Australian women, and ended up coming in at twelve read and eleven reviewed. (More details are here, if you’re curious.)

The end result was that I didn’t decrease the number of books I read by men; instead, I increased the overall number of books, and the increase was almost all by women. In fact, I overachieved a little — almost 60% of the books I read were by women. Still, after all this time of the blokes hogging the lion’s share of my attention, it’s time the lionesses got a go. Rawr!

What is the point of this epic ramble? First off, I want to encourage you to sign up for the 2015 challenge too. You don’t have to be a reviewer; there is a “read only” option if that’s more your style.

And the other is to share some of the amazing books by Australian ladies that I’m planning on reading this year! This is in no particular order, for two reasons. Because when it comes to books I have no self-control and because, as you can see, some of these books don’t even have covers yet!

AWW2015First caveat: Amie Kaufman is an Australian woman, but her cowriter for This Shattered World, Meagan Spooner, isn’t. IT STILL COUNTS.

Second caveat: Illuminae is being co-written with Jay Kristoff, who is a Australian but isn’t, as far as I am aware, a woman. Likewise, IT STILL COUNTS!

As you can see there’s a lot of YA and NA there, but a handful of adult novels as well, and one non-fiction because I’m trying to broaden my horizons.

What are your favourite books by Australian women? Are there books that I should add to my list?

Cassandra Page is an Australian woman and a writer. Which is not to say you should read her book, because that would be shameless self-promotion and she has some shame left. But if you did, that’d be awfully nice of you. 😉

Cassandra Page

Interview – Selina Fenech, fantasy artist and author

At the end of August I had the pleasure of meeting another fellow self-published author, and not only does this author write YA fantasy, she also lives around twenty minutes away from me! I was so excited when Selina Fenech agreed to an interview. She is an amazingly talented artist and writer. Here’s what she had to say:

You have two YA series, the Memory’s Wake Trilogy, and the Empath Chronicles, as well as several art books published. Tell us a bit about yourself, your art, and your books.
I love creating fantasy worlds, and have been doing that through art and illustration for ten years professionally now. But sometimes I can’t tell enough story in a picture alone, and so I’ve started writing novels as well. My Memory’s Wake trilogy is a strange genre mash up of fantasy (magic, dragons, and fairy creatures), a modern main character, Arthurian mythology, and a pre-industrial revolution semi-Victorian era world. The main character is thrown into this world, Avall, with no memories, but with a very important role in the lives of the other characters in Avall, the politics and ruling of Avall, and the very existence of it. It’s a story full of action, angst, and twists.

You obviously have a love of all things magical, evident in your beautiful artworks. What draws you to the fantastical worlds of fairies, unicorns, dragons and so on?
It started with fairytales and mythology books. My parents had a lot of those in the house for me to fall in love with. I think another huge influencer was a friend of my parents, who ran games of Dungeons and Dragons for me, my brother, and his own girls from quite young ages. Through those games I learned of storytelling, companionship, magic, adventure, fantasy creatures and realms. There are few better ways to set your imagination free! Role playing games are still a huge part of my life, and once that sense of adventure and magic takes hold within you, it’s hard to let go of.

Do you have any formal art training, or are you just a natural?
My formal training is in Graphic Design rather than illustration, although I tried to take a couple of subjects in drawing during the course. Actually I would say neither formally trained or a natural. I’m just persistent! Lots of practice and constantly self-teaching and seeking ways to improve my work.

What challenges did you face when you decided to ‘trade pictures for words’?
I basically had to learn to write again from scratch. The only writing training I’d had was high school level, which was a long time ago. Even simple things like how to punctuate dialogue were things I had to relearn. I workshopped my first novel extensively and had a massive learning curve and made sure I got everything right (as much as anything can be “right” with fictional writing).

There are forty-four illustrations in Memory’s Wake, as well as the cover. How long did it take you to write, illustrate, and publish it?
From the initial conception of the characters and story, about nine years! I first started developing the world and characters in 2001, and it wasn’t until 2010 that I published Memory’s Wake. There was a long gap in between there where the first, very terrible, draft sat in a draw, only to be brought out and looked at nostalgically, dreaming of turning it into something “real”. When I finally decided I would stop dreaming and get it finished, it took eighteen months to completely rewrite, workshop, edit, illustrate, and publish the novel.

When can we expect the final instalment of the Memory’s Wake Trilogy, Providence Unveiled, to be released?
I’m aiming to have it out around Christmas. Progress on the trilogy slowed drastically this year, due both to the ever increasing demands of a toddler, and a business decision to focus more on my art which you can read the long story about HERE.

Tell us what you like to read. What do you currently have at the top of your TBR?
I have a lot of author friends, so my TBR list is normally filled with their books! The books I most love to read of course are fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, and light horror (ghost stories!). I prefer urban fantasy to epic, and prefer Young Adult voice and style over Adult books.

What is your writing process? Do you set aside designated writing time each day?
I like to write in blocks, so try and set aside at least half a day or full evening to work. The absolutely hardest part of writing for me, is starting. It’s all psychological, but I put off just opening my word document for the longest time, but once I do, it’s easy from there on!

What can we expect to see from you in the next year in terms of your writing and your art?
Memory’s Wake will be finished, but I will be releasing one more book for that trilogy – an art collection showcasing the images from all three books for those who read in ebook, but still want hardcopies of the illustrations. I’m hoping to continue the Empath Chronicles, but have lots of other story ideas as well I’ve been dying to work on. Writing will still be my secondary interest and the focus will be back on art again.

Quick!
Heels or flats? Flats, heels just for special occasions.
Coffee or tea? Tea, English breakfast is my main addiction. I only drink coffee if I smell people around me drinking it. It’s sensory peer pressure.
Black or white? Grey. I love everything in balance with a little light and a little dark.
Summer or winter? Winter. You can always put more clothes on but there’s only so many you can take off!
City or country? Country. My husband is a city boy, but if I had my way we’d be off the grid, living off the land. But somehow still with internet. Could never live without that.

You can stalk Selina at the following links

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Etsy | Fairies & Fantasy

 

K. A. Last is the YA author of Fall For Me, Sacrifice and Immagica. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while. And yes, she has cut all her hair off!

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