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.
What’s next? Well I’ve been busy writing Book 2 of my Belleville family series.
It will be entitled ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’ ……… but that’s all I am saying at this stage.
Sometimes I find writing just flows, other times it’s a challenge, but I remember that old adage about just getting it written. It’s always possible to revise pedestrian prose but it’s impossible to revise a blank page. When I finish a chapter, I tend to print it out and read it in bed, with a pencil to mark up the obvious bloopers.
Last week I was surprised by my colleagues at my day job giving me a framed copy of the cover of my first novel (see picture), for my birthday. Not saying which birthday, by the way. That was a nice surprise, totally unexpected and a lovely gesture.
I hear so many stories about difficult and unrewarding workplaces, it’s nice to be able to say that my small office in Brisbane is very friendly with good people to work with.
That’s all from me for now ….. back to the grindstone.
The author making a point! Note the cheat sheet so I don’t forget key points.
Part of the audience at Laidley. Nic is in the blue shirt at the back.
So it’s Sunday and I’m back in Brisbane and reflecting on my author talks atLaidley and Gatton on Friday. Click on the links to find out where these towns are. Gatton is best known for its agricultural college. As we drove through the area we were impressed by the neat rows and rows of beautiful healthy vegetables.
First of all a big ‘thank you’ to Nic in Laidleyand Sue in Gatton – who made me feel very welcome. I was so impressed by the service these women and their colleagues provide their communities through their work in the public libraries, and by their friendliness and professionalism. Outstanding!
Having been to quite a few author events over the years – some well-known names with very big audiences – I had some idea what I should say – I found the best way was to have a few dot points that reminded me of what I should say, if I got off the track.
That seemed to work well but inevitably, afterwards, I thought about one or two other important points that I should have spoken about, but didn’t.
I can’t yet pack out a big auditorium but from my perspective the people who came along to hear me were warm, friendly and engaged, and asked some really good questions about writing, plot development, and the whole business of publishing.
My day job makes me much more qualified to talk about magazine publishing than book publishing so occasionally I did get off the track and wandered away from the topic.
The big thrill for me, as a first time author, was that readers liked my book and are waiting impatiently for the second one in the series. I resisted the temptation to give too many hints about where I am headed with the Belleville family ….. the fun of fiction writing is that they are my characters and I can decide how the story unfolds. (The arrogance of the author? Not really, but it’s fun to be in control.)
Thank you, Laidley and Gatton, for such a warm welcome …. and since I was widely expected to the have the draft of my second novel in my handbag, I’d better get on with it and stop writing this blog instead of writing my book!!
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.
If you head west of Brisbane (Qld, Australia) on the highway, past Ipswich, for an hour or so, you’ll soon find yourself in the heart of the Lockyer Valley, which is where my career as a ‘speaking’ author begins on Friday 29 April 2016 – 10.00am at the Laidley Library (pictured) and 12.00 noon at the Gatton Library, which is close by.
The Lockyer Valley is an area of rich farmland. It is intensively cultivated, growing the most diverse range of commercial fruit and vegetables of any area in Australia.
The regional council (local government) runs the Library service. There are literally thousands of small libraries throughout Australia, supported by local government. I’m thrilled to be asked to speak to the locals about my book.
I’ve created a new FREE link for THE HOUSE OF SECRETS: Julia’s Story
for anyone who may be interested in dipping into the book. It’s probably hard to read the entire book this way (we use this method to create digital copies of our magazines in my day job) but it’s a good way to see if it is of interest.
I’m beavering away on Book 2 ….. more on that soon.
I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic – I like her style and what she has to say.
Her advice is practical – don’t give up your day job because you think it interferes with your writing, you have to pay the bills – well, that is me, paraphrasing her words from her Brisbane Writers Festival appearance.
In her latest book, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about originality versus authenticity – authenticity, she says, has quiet resonance.
I agree with her. I think every writer would like to be hailed for their originality but is that possible? Yet every work is original (well, unless there has been undetected plagiarism going on).
In fact, readers who have commented favourably on my first book say it is ‘authentic’ – I think they mean in its country setting, its understanding of the social mores of the day and the anxiety of wartime. The bombing raid sequence over Germany is carefully researched, for example. I have a shelf of Bomber Command books.
I’m really pleased when I get such feedback.
I’ve dropped the price for the Kindle and Amazon.com editions of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story – Kindle is only US$3.71 – link here if you are interested in checking it out.
I haven’t given up my day job to live on the royalties! Maybe that’s some happy day in the future to look forward to, when I have several books out there. But I enjoy the writing and the creating and that’s what is important to me.
Most of all I respond to Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice to be authentic in my writing – and in my life. I enjoy feeling a part of the writing community, especially the big online writing community.
Has it really been so long since I put my fingers to the keyboard and updated my blog? Do I have any excuses?
Well, funny you should ask. I can tell you what Roger Federer and I have in common in case you’re interested: a torn meniscus. I bet his rehab is going better than mine. Surgery was two weeks ago. The specialist said he has ‘done all he can’. It will be six weeks before I am fully recovered and I have to do some pretty boring leg exercises.
So, I haven’t been writing much, up until yesterday, when I really got stuck into Book 2 of my Belleville family saga. I’ve heard that second books can be tricky customers but I’m getting into the story now. I find it works for me to put myself in the room with the characters as an invisible observer. It’s like planning out a movie in my head. I think about their gestures, whether they will sit or stand, whether they are angry or sociable and most importantly, what is going to happen next. With so many unresolved issues swirling around the Belleville family, there is plenty to be getting along with. Oh, and in book 2, they are all 10 years older.
Just before my leg operation, I was on duty for my day job in Canberra – if you are interested check out http://www.australiandefence.com.au – I’m publisher of that group within Yaffa Media. On arriving at Canberra airport, I met an executive I know pretty well who had just come off the same flight. His first words to me were: ‘my wife loved your book’.
How great was that! Totally unsolicited. I used my professional LinkedIn account to – as I put it – shamelessly self promote my other career. He happened to be reading the LinkedIn feed on the back deck of his home while having a drink with his wife. He told her about it and she immediately downloaded the Kindle edition. So, social media works, one at a time!! I was seriously chuffed. If you don’t know the word ‘chuffed’, try ‘delighted’.
Last week, I hobbled off to see Eat! Pray! Love! author Elizabth Gilbert at a Brisbane Writers’ Festival out of season event. My husband Peter came with – bless his heart, because I counted only 10 men in the audience among several hundred women. I thought she was fabulous, talking about creativity, among other things.
And, yes, I fiddled with the cover of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story (book 1) again – new version above.