Meet the Author: Tess Woods

TESS’S TOP WRITING TIP: Meet as many other authors as you can and learn from them. And find yourself a literary agent if you can because they will be your greatest asset and will go in to bat for you with publishers and negotiate you a favourable contract.

Tess Woods Author photoTess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Love at First Flight is her first novel. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch. Visit Tess’s website to find out more. http://www.tesswoods.com.au/

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because if I didn’t I would need to be institutionalised. What else would I do with these people in my head if I couldn’t write their stories?

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Writing is what I do when my kids are asleep at night. By day I’m a physiotherapist working in my own private practice.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Not having written anything before was a huge hurdle for me in terms of finding a literary agent. Several agents wouldn’t accept my MS because I had no resume to speak of.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? By far the best thing has been the people it has brought into my life. If it wasn’t for my writing I wouldn’t have connected with other authors, bloggers and readers and would have missed out on all the wonderful blessings these amazing people have brought me. Being in the company of people who are as passionate about story telling as I am has made my heart sing.

—the worst? I find the self-promotion side of things a bit daunting. I had no idea how hard I would have to work to sell the book myself. When I landed the publishing contract with HarperCollins I kicked my heels up and thought my job was done. But a lot is expected of authors in terms of marketing and promotion so that has been a steep and scary learning curve!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would get involved in the writing community from the start, not after getting published. Things like critique partnering is something that would have been so valuable during the writing process.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? To be prepared to work hard not just in writing your book but in selling it too.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? When we were doing the copyedit of Love at First Flight, the brilliant author Dianne Blacklock taught me the concept of Chekhov’s gun, one of her favourite writing tips, which is now one of mine too. Chekhov himself advised, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This helped cut a lot of excess junk from my writing which was clogging it up.

BOOK BYTE

LoveAtFirstFlighteCoverLove at First Flight

A family is threatened by an irresistible attraction in this compelling debut that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Anita Shreve.

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it. 

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you? Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture-perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head. Here’s the link to the book…

http://www.harpercollins.com/9781460705414/love-at-first-flight

 

 

 

Kez learns from experience

It’s been nearly a year since I interviewed Kez Wickham St George about her writing journey so I decided to catch up with her and find out what she’s been doing. I also asked if there were any important lessons she had to share from her experience.

kez02a

Kez, what sort of year was 2014 for you? It was very busy with local interviews and an interview for the MS Radio Station in the US. The program editor was kind, cutting out the gales of laughter because the interviewer and I could not understand each other’s accent.

I also travelled around the southern wheat belt in Western Australia doing author interviews and creative writing workshops, winding’ up a week-long journey at a children’s festival in Balingup as a guest author for three days.

Then came a request to go to Cairns in Queensland to meet our new baby granddaughter and at the same time I received a booking to talk about my novels at the Cairns library. Fifteen people attended this workshop for an hour, then it was an open debate on the merits of using the Internet as a promotional tool compared with face to face networking. I must say it was lively and we went way over the original two-hour booking.

All fun aside, once home it was time to write once more, knitting my travels and my experiences into my next novel. This is when I really get to use my imagination.

Is there anything different about this particular novel? I began to write a prologue for the first time and found I enjoyed every moment of it.  It set the tone for my latest novel, The Talking Stick.

What prompted you to do this? My publisher Autharium.com had seen something in my novels I had not, the world of the supernatural. He encouraged me to write a chapter or two on the paranormal. I was a bit flummoxed at this, as I write romantic thrillers and this is where I learnt a valuable lesson. As I rummaged through my old notes, I came across a film script I had written two years ago. I reread it and ideas formed on how I could use this, with some tweaking, to be my prologue. My lesson— and my advice to any writer—is listen to what your peers have to say. When the experts advise to never throw any of your writing or notes away, listen to them. I’m so glad I did.

I now have a third of my new novel written and the rest of it is rustling at the edges of my mind, bursting to get out there in print.

How is 2015 shaping up for you, Kez? This year is proving to be quite busy, using once again any social media available. I have been invited to either open or be part of exhibitions, plus guest speaker at two social events. This is an opportunity for me to physically network, getting my books known to the public. I know from past experience that personal contact or showing you are a ‘real’ person is vital to sell your work.

I used my holiday time at Christmas to have a web designer look at how we could improve my site and I am so glad I listened to her advice and went with it. I now have an updated web site www.kezauthor.com  which has already proved a valuable asset in promotion. I also revamped my Facebook page and book covers.

How important are book covers? The cover is the eye-catcher for sales. It is the first contact with the potential buyer and has to relay what the author is writing about. This is where I work closely with my book cover designer. I sent him the prologue to read and get a feel for the title, however this time was a little different as I had a photo I wanted included. We were both excited about my involvement and between us we came up with a book cover to delight all involved. My publisher now calls my book covers ‘Kez covers’  because they depict my story of adventure, the thrills and spills, to all the armchair nomads, whatever the circumstances.

How have you changed as a writer? Advice from the experts is much appreciated. It has made me a more informed writer. A little more adventurous with my trusty laptop and I’m still learning every day, still adding a chapter every day to my next novel, and still loving what I love to do: write.

BOOK BYTE

The Talking stick, to be published October 2015

kez_bookcover4Two ghosts…shipwrecked…lost on a small island.

Between us and the paranormal lies a thin curtain. Lift that and things happen that cannot be explained. Journey into the territory of the paranormal in this novel that is not about bumps in the night but a cry for help from the world of shades to be heard, to tell their story.

Meet the Author: Pauline Montagna

PAULA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Don’t write novels. The novel is a dying art form and the market is flooded. Look to the future. Write for the next generation in the formats they’ll be, in the jargon of the day, ‘accessing’ and ‘consuming’. My money would be on computer games.

Pauline Montagna was born into an Italian family in Melbourne, Australia. After completing a Bachelor of Arts at La Trobe University, Pauline joined the Department of Social Security where it was decided that someone with a major in French would be perfect for the Finance section. Fortunately for them, as the daughter of shopkeepers, Pauline had a good head for figures.

While indulging her artistic interests by becoming involved in Melbourne’s burgeoning amateur theatre scene, Pauline pursued her developing accounting skills through a wide variety of workplaces culminating in the Australian film industry which eventually took her to Perth. There she decided to return to university and qualify as a teacher, graduating from Edith Cowan and Murdoch universities with Graduate Diplomas in Language Studies and Education.

After returning to Melbourne, Pauline continued teaching English as a Second Language while she completed a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing.

Pauline has now retired from teaching to concentrate on The Stuff of Dreams, a four volume fictional account of the life of William Shakespeare and the experiences and relationships that made him the writer he became. The first volume, Not Wisely but Too Well, traces his early life until 1593. She has previously published two other books, The Slave, an historical romance set in fourteenth century Italy, and Suburban Terrors a short story collection.

Information about her books and where to buy them can be found at her website http://paulinemontagna.net.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I guess I would say it’s what I do, what I am. If I had my way I would write all day and read all night. As a child I was always telling myself stories and writing them down is just an adult version of that. I remember my first effort was a four-page play when I was eight years old. It was about a princess in a tower waiting to be rescued by a prince. How original!

More recently, though, my writing has been inspired by a need to know more. I have always loved history. I love reading about history. I love doing the research, and I love writing about it. As I dig deeper into my subject, I discover stories which I just have to tell or bust. I can’t be sure where this love comes from, but it may be because I was born in Australia, a country with very little history, while my roots are in Italy, a country with perhaps too much history.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I don’t really know. There are times when I wonder how much longer I can do this, on both the psychological level and the financial. I’m doing some teaching at the moment to keep body and soul together. If needs be I could also get work as a bookkeeper. But I don’t know what would become of me if I ever gave up on being a writer.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Strictly speaking, as a self-publisher, I haven’t been ‘published” as the mainstream would define it. Now I probably never will be. As far as the publishing industry is concerned, self-published books are by definition books that aren’t good enough to find a publisher and so they will not look at them. I daresay this prejudice will extend to the author. We self-publishers dream about being discovered by the mainstream, but there’s lots of competition out there, and unless you’re a breakout like Fifty Shades of Grey, the mainstream will never find you.

The irony is that while agents tell you that your book couldn’t find a publisher because it wasn’t good enough, in the same breath they will tell you they are having a great deal of trouble placing their clients’ books as the industry is in such dire straits. They are discovering what we self-publishers have known all along. The mainstream industry doesn’t have the capacity to publish all the publishable books out there. The rest of us have to either live a life of frustration as we try desperately to be accepted by the mainstream, or go it alone and live with knowing we’ve locked ourselves out.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? And the worst? I do love the research. My best summer ever was the one I spent in the State Library of Victoria doing the preliminary research for my Shakespeare series. You can almost hear the neurons firing as you go from one book to the other, making leaps here and connections there. There’s nothing better.

But recently I’ve discovered how much I love actually writing, though I made this discovery because I’ve done so little of it recently. Most of my time, energy and headspace has been taken up by marketing. For a self-published writer, marketing is difficult, much more difficult than writing. It’s where the drudgery and uncertainty comes in and can become all-consuming. Unfortunately it’s vital, unless you want to write in a vacuum.

I’m basically a shy person so I dread the very thought of going out there to sell myself. Instead I’ve turned to the internet. There’s lots of advice about online marketing out there, but in reality, no one knows what will and won’t work for your book. You have to try it all and hope that something pushes the right buttons. Over the last few months I’ve been trying to implement a detailed online marketing plan I developed while I was overseas earlier this year. It takes a great deal of time out of my day, and saps the writing energy out of me. I’m working towards finding some kind of balance.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? What’s the best advice you were ever given? As I mentioned earlier, there’s lots of advice out there. Most of it is about believing in your dreams and never giving up. Such advice assumes that your dream will come true as long as you work hard enough and that if your dream doesn’t come true it’s because you’ve given up. But sometimes there’s a brick wall out there and the only time banging your head against a brick wall feels good is when you stop. There’s only so much rejection a soul can take.

The only advice I wish I had been given is probably the only advice I wouldn’t have listened to. Quality has little to do with success. Marketing is everything. Don’t go out into a brutal and crowded marketplace unless you’re a salesperson first and a writer second. If you aren’t then don’t bother trying to become a published author. Be content as a closet writer, writing for your own pleasure alone. If you’re lucky you may find your niche, but don’t count on it.

{For a snapshot of Not Wisely, But Too Well go to Author Bookshelf.}