What do authors want to see? They want to see their books nestled on the shelf in a quality bookstore – in this case HARRY HARTOG BOOKSELLER in Maroochydore – alongside authors whose names they recognise – in my case, Melina Marchetta to the left and Frances Mayes to the right. Then comes Fiona McIntosh and back to the left, David Malouf.
If you’ve been planning to dip into my Belleville series, you’ll find book 1 of the series – Julia’s Story – on the shelf.
I recommend a visit to Harry Hartog – for the simple pleasure of entering a beautiful bookstore.
Some years ago, as I was completing a Year of the Novel course at Queensland Writers Centre, I had an idea for a story. Or more precisely, an idea for a story found me through a dream. Several years on, the story has now been told through the Belleville family trilogy with the third book – RETURN TO PRIOR PARK – being released this week.
As I wrote the third book, I was amazed at how the characters’ lives took over their stories. In some ways book 3 is quite a departure from the first two – so I will be very interested to hear what readers have to say.
I wanted to refresh the first two books – not the stories – but the presentation, so I have released each book with a new more contemporary cover design.
The Belleville story is a timeless story – of love, of betrayal, of secrets and tragedy. Its origins are Australian but its reach is international – from New York to London to Sydney and to country Australia.
The Belleville trilogy
Julia’s Story(previously The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story) Book 1 – ISBN 9780994327642
To Love, Honour and Betray Book 2 – ISBN 9780994327659
Return to Prior Park Book 3 – ISBN 9780994327635
My one hope is that my readers enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoyed writing them. Will there be more Belleville books? Perhaps. For more information, including links to buy the books, go to my website.
It is a giant mistake to think you can give your website an update in half an hour. I tell you now that is impossible, so the several Sunday hours I should have spent with my characters, progressing their lives and loves, I instead spent updating my website and learning more about the capabilities of the CMS (content management system, for the uninitiated).
I did achieve something though (I think).
For anyone interested in my writing, you can get, for free, the first four chapters of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story (book 1 of the Belleville family saga) at this link.
The problem when you have a busy and intellectually demanding day job is that the writing life you’ve also committed to gets scant attention at times.
Do I have the headspace to progress my writing career and steer a traditional print media magazine group through the challenging transition phase we’re currently seeing in the print media sector as well give my attention to my first love?
Frustrated and confused, I went on holidays instead of facing up to this dilemma.
Ten days in New Zealand was very nice. It’s an easy flight in an A380 – Brisbane-Auckland – picking up the Emirates Dubai-originating aircraft.
New Zealand seems more English in its culture than Australia does now – although the indigenous Maori people do have a strong stake in contemporary society, more visible I would say than the corresponding indigenous population of Australia.
We went far south in the south island to Dunedin – its Scottish heritage very obvious. It sits on the 45 degrees latitude south, which makes it a more southerly point than any point in Australia. Next stop, Antarctica – but not for us.
At this southern outpost of European settlement in the 19th century, New Zealand established its first university and today the population of the city is 25% students. The city has nurtured its early educational advantage, it seems. Students of course would include international students. New Zealand’s population is only 4.6 million.
The earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch is still that – but trying to recover from the events of 5 years ago. The beautiful botanic gardens (in the picture) were largely untouched and acted as a haven for the distressed locals.
There were some wonderful second-hand book shops – a step back in time almost – we found them in Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, Auckland and Devonport (across the harbour from Auckland). Auckland is New Zealand’s major city, but Wellington at the south end of the north island is the capital.
All this waffle of course is delaying me getting back into writing the second novel in my Belleville family series. I’ve just done a Kindle countdown deal for the next couple of weeks to make the ebook cheaper (starting at $0.99) of the first in the series. The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story – link here of Amazon
And what have I committed to?
Well, during the week the conversation went something like this between me and my other half – long suffering husband of many years’ standing.
Him: You said you wanted to go to the London Book Fair next year. Do you know it’s on in March?
Me: No, I thought it was April. It’s always April.
Him: Not in 2017 it isn’t. Oh, and Qantas have just released some discounted fares on premium economy. I’ll check the dates.
Me: OK, good idea.
Half an hour later we were booked.
So I’m off to the London Book Fair in 2017 and the realisation that I will need a lot more under my belt in the finished manuscript/published book category than I currently have, in the hope I can sell international rights.
Well, as expected, Rocky turned on the heat for the author day at the local library: 33 degrees C = 91.4 degrees F. Bright, hot and sunny.
What was the best thing about the event? Catching up with my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in a while and relieving them of a bit of cash – they bought some copies of my book.
Cousin Christine has even read it and sent me a Facebook message saying she really enjoyed it and where’s the next instalment? Hey, guys, I’m too busy trying to get the first one out there!
Next best thing was meeting a romance author Alyssa J Montgomery who does a mixture of self publishing and traditional publishing …. and seems very successful at it. (Envy, envy!) Lovely person. She’s a speech therapist by day.
Me: Hello, and what are your reading interests?
Other person: Oh, I don’t read. I’m just here to support a friend.
My thought bubble: Who doesn’t read? Seriously? It’s the one thing I hate about travel and being away from home …. I don’t have access to my books.
So, an interesting experience. Others were much better prepared than me, but many were writing about local or family history.
I’ve included some pictures I took on the day, including one of where I used to live as a teenager with my parents, who owned a cattle (beef) property. So as not to intrude on the current owners I pulled up on the side of the road and just took a shot from afar. All you can glimpse is the roof of the house which was a typical Queensland timber home.
I also talked to the local newspaper reporter – the local newspaper is The Morning Bulletin so hopefully they will, out of local interest, publish a story about my new career.
So, I’m getting seriously stuck in to getting my book The House of Secrets, Julia’s Story out and about and in the hands of readers – and reassuring those who have read it that the next book is well and truly under way.
I was thinking about it just now. I have to say there are many parallels between establishing a successful magazine and getting my first novel out there in the hands of the reading public.
Back in the early 1990s I had an idea for a magazine in the defence business sector in Australia – it took me a few years to get it established but today it is the market leader in its field. We publish monthly with weekly premium newsletters and a directory of suppliers plus host four major conferences a year. But I remember the early days when everyone was very discouraging and said ‘it won’t work’, ‘we don’t need what you’re offering’ etc etc. Only I believed.
I thought: well that’s what it’s like now. I have written a book that I am satisfied with, that the early readers say they really like and I know exactly who my reading audience is.
So I’m putting all my skills to work to reach that audience directly, bypassing the major publishers who can’t see the ‘wood for the trees’.
Have you ever thought of buying a book in the hairdressing salon you go to? Probably not, but my hairdresser Kelly has agreed to take some copies to sell to her clients, on commission of course. This is business after all.
So I’ll keep you updated on the success of my unorthodox marketing methods. In my opinion, wherever my target market gather in numbers, that’s where my book will be …… over the coming months, I’ll let you know if that strategy works!