Meet the Author: Jaquelyn Muller

JAQUELYN’S TOP WRITING TIP: Get a clear vision for what sort of author you wJaq 7ant to be (which should be mostly driven by what you love to write). This helps to keep you focused on what you need to be doing. It is very easy to get caught running in circles thinking you have to do everything. This will have you exhausted and frustrated within six months.

Jaquelyn Muller experienced a typical 1970s childhood and moved frequently up and down the east coast of Australia in a two-toned Ford Falcon with no air conditioning. While the tape deck continually spat out hits from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Jaquelyn retreated to reading and writing from the back seat of the car. After university Jaquelyn spent the next 20 years in publishing, marketing, and digital consulting.

Now daydreams through the office window are put to better use and weaved into tales she hopes brings moments enjoyed through her children’s books. Inspired by the thousands of fearless authors and illustrators, who at some point were prepared to ‘have a go’, Jaquelyn released her first early childhood picture book, I Love You 5 Lollipops in May 2013 and has reprised the Elizabeth Rose character in the just released follow up book, Elizabeth Rose on Parade.

Jaquelyn keeps in touch with readers via her website www.jmullerbooks.com and Facebook www.facebook.com/jmullerbooks

 AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because if I don’t my family will send me away! They think I am less nuts when I have a constructive path to channel my energy into.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I have always been in publishing in some form or another so if I couldn’t write my own books, then publishing the work of others would be the next best thing. I love the creative process and bringing concepts to life. I am also a stationary nerd and I love paper! However if you really must know my deep dark secret, playing electric guitar in a band would have to be one of the wishes I would pick if I ever got three from a genie!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Learning the process and understanding all the moving parts. There are so many details that you have to get across as well as setting up the business side of things, which will always gate crash any creative party!

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The reactions of the kids to my books. Hearing that they insist on reading my books over and over or they have memorised them off by heart or that they want to become authors when they grow up is such a wonderful feeling. I still get so overwhelmed by those reactions; I think they are talking about someone else.

—the worst? The admin side of running a business. There is just something very wrong with anyone that enjoys that.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Nothing. I am doing things today that I never thought I would do and success for everyone is different. I love all the production and marketing side of the publishing business as well as the writing, so for me I have found my happy balance and you only get that by trial and error. Other authors may find that if they aren’t writing six hours a day then they aren’t achieving. It’s a very different landscape for everyone. The great thing is that you don’t have to retire from writing so if you look at it as a long term career then you can get it all done, whatever ‘done’ means to you.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I think a realistic view of the ‘other work’ you need to do other than actually writing would have been helpful. By other work I mean blogging, updating online profiles, running competitions, writing book reviews for other authors, attending literary events, planning and executing book launches and school and library visits – it is endless.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? It’s a marathon not a sprint. Listen to the experiences of other writers both well-known and emerging. Listening to others helps you put your own ups and downs into perspective.

BOOK BYTE

Updated front coverElizabeth Rose on Parade

Written by Jaquelyn Muller, Illustrated by Kathryn Zammitt

The excitement is building, and everyone is ready. Another extraordinary performance in the Big Top is about to commence and who better to lead the parade than Elizabeth Rose! More fabulous than fairy lights, Elizabeth Rose may be only small, but she shines, beams and sparkles like no one else!

Available from www.jmullerbooks.com/shop and other outlets including Amazon, Booktopia, The Book Depository.

Meet the Author: Sofie Laguna

sofie 3SOFIE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Keep a diary, write in it often. Tell the absolute truth and do it with details.

Sofie Laguna’s many books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Her titles include, My Yellow Blanky, Too Loud Lily, Bad Buster, Big Ned’s Bushwalk, Bird and Sugar Boy, Stephen’s Music and Where Are You Banana?

Recently Sofie published the bestselling Grace stories for the Our Australian Girl series. This was followed by Fighting Bones, for the Do You Dare series.

Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award 2009 and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Film rights have been optioned and Sofie has recently completed the screenplay.

Sofie’s second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep, is due for publication in August, 2014.

Sofie lives with her husband and their young son, and she is currently expecting her second child.

Visit Sofie’s website at www.sofielaguna.com

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write?  For pleasure, for justice, for fun, for freedom, to communicate.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being an actor.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? There were no significant obstacles.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Pleasure, justice, fun, freedom, communication. Also solitude, flexibility and adaptability.

—the worst? No place to go called ‘work’, no distractions, no ‘security’

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Nothing except allowed myself to relax more and enjoy.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? It’s going to be wonderful.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t worry so much.

 BOOK BYTE

 The Eye of the Sheep

resized_9781743319598_224_297_FitSquareMeet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

Available from:

http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9781743319598

http://www.amazon.com/Eye-Sheep-Sofie-Laguna-ebook/dp/B00K7VHTEM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407030452&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Eye+of+the+Sheep+by+Sofie+Laguna

 

Meet the Author: Cristy Burne

CRISTY’S TOP WRITING TIPS: Tip #1: Stop aspiring to be an author and start being an author: write, write, write and read, read, read. Seriously. You owe it to yourself.

Tip #2: Burn your TV (preferably in an environmentally sustainable way).

cristy and head SCristy Burne has worked as a science circus performer, garbage analyst, Santa’s pixie and atom-smashing reporter. Cristy’s Takeshita Demons books are inspired by her years living in Japan, a healthy fear of ghosts, and a plastic head she found in her rubbish bin. They have sold more than 30,000 copies.

Based on Japanese folklore, the series features mythical demons, called yokai, traditionally used to teach manners and explain spooky phenomena. Takeshita Demons won the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award for multicultural children’s writing.

Cristy is also a science writer, with degrees in biotechnology and science communication. A freelance journalist, Cristy has edited and contributed to CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine and was editor of CERN’s computing newsletter when the Large Hadron Collider was turned on in Geneva in 2009.

Author website: www.cristyburne.com

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because it’s fun to create something out of nothing. You start with some vague ideas, then you tap away at something until a fully-fledged story appears with fully-fledged characters. But before you began, there was nothing. It’s very rewarding.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d like to be a veterinarian at a zoo: exciting, useful, something different each day and doing my part to save the planet.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Worry. I worried that every minute I spent writing was wasted, that I was writing rubbish, and that I would never be good enough to make it as an author. I worried that I should be doing something healthier, like a real job or an exercise routine or a social life. Now I realise that being a writer can co-exist with all these things, but I still wrestle with those other worries most writing days.

What are the best aspects of your writing life? I can manage my own hours, I can work from home and my work is motivating and creative.

-The worst? The long lead-times and wait-times between starting a project, submitting a project, having a project rejected or accepted, and then f-i-n-a-l-l-y seeing the project come to life as a book.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Nothing. My path to publication involved hard work, practice novels and lots of rejection. This isn’t the only path, but it’s a proven one.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Nothing. I’m still an emerging writer, with a career that is only just finding its legs, let alone wings, so I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing and not change anything. Slowly but surely, I’m working towards greater publication and greater success, and I’m loving the journey.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Write, write, write. Read, read, read. The writing is your job, so if you don’t write, you’re not a writer. The reading hones your tools as well as supporting your industry (as well as being just an incredible way to spend your free time J J).

BOOK BYTE

Mer-Monster-cover-smallTakeshita Demons 4: MerMonster

Shape-shifting foxes, samurai crabs and a seriously cranky octopus… The balance of the worlds is again under threat and Miku must travel to the Dragon King’s underwater kingdom to put things right. Book 4 in the award-winning TAKESHITA DEMONS series.

Praise for TAKESHITA DEMONS:
“The book is amazing…I hardly put it down” – Chicklish

“A thrilling contemporary adventure wittily shot through with the powerful fantasy stories of the old demons from the Japanese past.” – Julia Eccleshare

“One of the rare stories that you can safely hand to younger readers without fear of threats from angry parents, but at the same time is genuinely packed full of spooky stuff. This is a series that is both highly original and wonderfully entertaining” – Spine Chills, Australia

“Cristy’s knowledge of Japanese folklore and the supernatural shine through and this is a compulsive read.” – Parents in Touch UK

TAKESHITA DEMONS was selected for the 2010 Booktrust Booked Up program, won the 2009 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award for diversity in children’s writing, and was featured on the BBC’s Blue Peter in 2011.

99-cent e-book [for Kindle]: http://bit.ly/1sqG3TR

99-cent e-book [all formats]: http://bit.ly/1nR6NYs

Takeshita Demons [paperback]: http://bit.ly/1lELUQ3

Meet the Author: Norman Jorgensen

NORMAN’S TOP WRITING TIP: Give it a go. What have you got lose, other than a little dignity and a small hit to the self–esteem if your story is not accepted?

NJ at Ithica, Home of Mark Twain2Norman Jorgensen is one of Western Australia’s most versatile authors for young people, with 10 books published, including the highly regarded In Flanders Fields,  and several more nearing completion. He is one of only three Western Australians ever to have received the prestigious Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in its 60-year history. He has been short-listed twice for both the WA Premier’s Book Awards and the WA Young Readers’ Book Awards and he has been honoured by the ASPCA Henry Burgh Awards in the United States.

Norman was born in Broome in 1954 when his father was the sole Post Master General Department’s  Technician for the entire North West and lived there, blissfully,  until his father was transferred to Mullewa then Narrogin and eventually Perth, where he now lives with  his wife Jan, an enthusiastic  children’s book devotee.

He has a deep love of books and literature and has worked in the book trade for much of his life, as a school book seller, publisher’s agent and as a bookshop owner, where he experienced the dubious joys of small business ownership.

His novel Jack’s Island, set on Rottnest Island during World War II has been well received, not only by teenagers who study it at school, but also by their parents and grandparents who seem to appreciate the way he accurately captured a simpler, more gentle Western Australia.  His picture book with James Foley, The Last Viking has been well-loved by thousands of children and has won six awards.  The sequel The Return of the Last Viking will be published in October 2014.

Norman is proud that his books are nearly always set firmly in Western Australia in a landscape that is recognisable to his readers and pleased that his young fans are still able to enjoy his work even though it is not set in Springfield, a rather unusual English boarding school, nor vampire-invested Forks, Washington.

For information about Norman and his books, visit normanjorgensen.com.au or http://www.fremantlepress.com.au/authors/262/Norman+Jorgensen?PeopleGroup=3   

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write?  I love the creative side of the story making. I love seeing how a single word or a sudden flash of just one small idea can grow and expand until the sentences, paragraphs and chapters all add up to become a recognisable book with interesting characters and setting and conflicts. Jack’s Island developed from hearing someone being called a dafty. A Fine Mess was sparked by a poster of old comedians Laurel and Hardy hanging perilously off a building. The Last Viking was sparked years before when my nephew added horns to his bike helmet, but not developed until I saw James Foley’s illustrating style and asked if he would draw a boy Viking.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Judging by my recent efforts, I’d probably be a Professional Facebooker. I gather the working conditions and annual holidays are reasonable, but the wages are virtually non-existent.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Trying to think and sound like a real12 year old and one who was 12 now, and not my vaguely remembered version of what it was like when I was that age. If my story was going to appeal to the audience I was aiming at, I had to get that basic problem sorted first off. So often I would add in references that amused me but no modern kid would have any idea at all. When the first manuscript had its 1960s gloss removed, and did not sound condescending, it had a much better chance of being considered for publication.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I really like living in a magical made-up world with imaginary friends (and enemies) who I can actually push around. When I’m bored or alone, I love being able to drift off into my head to my latest pretend landscape and watch what my characters are all up to. I don’t have as much control over them as you would expect, and I’m often surprised to see what they do and what happens next. They can be such an obstinate bunch of man-made souls.

Working with an illustrator can be a genuine pleasure, and I am amazed at seeing how someone like illustrator, James Foley, can take a whimsical idea we have thrashing about, and with a few quick sketches, suddenly give it life and the possibility of a whole new saga. I find the illustrating process fascinating, and being involved has been an unexpected part of the joy of my profession.

And I especially love seeing a new book come out and holding the printed, bound pages with a striking cover for the very first time. It is a wonderful feeling.

I like sharing the reaction from audiences of school kids when I read something that appeals to them, and their excitement at meeting me.  And I like the special way I get treated by strangers when I say I’m a writer. It is almost a pity my family and friends see just the real me.

And I especially love the happy band, we happy few, of other children’s book creators in this state with whom I hang about. Their talent is contagious and they are all so generous in their support of each other.

—the worst? Everything else that comes with job – the self salesmanship needed, rejections, having to edit, or be edited, the constant lack of money, writing unsuccessful jargon-filled grant applications, staying in seedy country motels, the uncertainty of knowing if a manuscript is any good or not after having just spent months working on it, revising a story over and over until can’t stand it anymore and can almost recite every damn word, days when only the wrong words land on the screen, being beaten at awards by books you privately think are not that good, reviewers who think all children’s books should convey a message or a moral lesson…  Stop me now as I’m sounding like a sad and embittered old man.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would treat my writing more like a business than a hobby and really work harder at it. I would go to typing school, and I would pay more attention to my English teachers at school, especially on the days we did grammar.  I would travel more when I was younger so that I’d have more experiences to write about. I would listen more to everyone around me and pay more attention to all my senses. I would read better books, and more of them, so as to learn more from the literary masters and great storytellers. I would learn patience, because the publishing trade is so unbelievably slow and every aspect of the process takes forever.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Writing it not just fun, but takes a lot of effort. Like all creative endeavours, it is said real skill needs a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice. At 20 hours solid writing each week, it will take 10 years to reach that figure, and even then success is not guaranteed, it just gets a little easier to find the words.

I wish too, I had been told how much work and time is involved that is not actual writing but promotion.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Carry your notebook at all times. Ideas are fleeting, so need to be written down the minute they pop into your head as they will often never reappear. Great sentences can also arrive at such unexpected moments that unless you write them down they will be lost forever.

Write your own story and don’t try following trends. By the time your book is ready, the current trend for vampires or wizards or angels or horse stories or whatever will probably be passed and your book will look a bit sad and unloved on a bookshop shelf along with the other unsold copies of clones of Hunger Games.

And secondly, use two characters who talk to each other so that their dialogue can push the story along, instead of writing great long passages of descriptions and sentences that include, and then she… went….did…said, etc. This is actually another way of saying, show, don’t tell.

Thirdly, try not to take rejection too personally. Pick ya’self up, dust ya’self down, start all over again, and send your story to another publisher, and another and another.

 

BOOK BYTE

The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen (Illustrated by James Foley)

9781921888106_LASTVIKINGYoung Josh is afraid of everything – he isn’t brave like the mighty Vikings his Pop tells him of. One day Josh decides to become a fearless Viking too. He calls himself Prince Knut,  builds his own armour and sails a dragon-headed longship through stormy seas. When bullies threaten Knut, he must find the courage to defend himself – and lucky for him the Viking Gods, Odin and Thor, have been watching. They won’t let one of their own stand alone…

Available from http://www.fremantlepress.com.au/books/picturebooks/1253?Books%5Bstart%5D=10

Meet the Author: Dianne Wolfer

DIANNE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Wait before sending a manuscript. Publishers are busy; you may have only one shot at their attention. Rewrite, edit and rewrite until you are so sick of the manuscript that you want to scream. By then it might be getting close.

dianne and Harry with Breaksea in the backgroundDianne Wolfer is the author of 14 books for teenagers and younger readers. Her books have been short-listed for various awards and are read in schools across Australia and overseas. She enjoys combining her love of history with writing fiction. Her picture book, Photographs in the Mud (a recommended History Curriculum text) was inspired by a research trip along the Kokoda Trail. It has been published in Japanese and is used as a reference for international workshops promoting peaceful ‘discourse analysis’. Dianne loves travelling and has spent much of her life overseas. She lives on the south coast of WA.

For information about Dianne and her books, visit her websites

www.diannewolfer.com

http://diannewolfer.wordpress.com/

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? It’s something I can’t not do. I keep getting ideas and thinking about how I could explore certain issues via various characters. I have notes all around the place. Each book takes years and so I only write a fraction of what is going on in my head.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I loved working part-time in a bookshop, until it closed, but I also have a teaching background. At the moment I’m doing full-time study; I’m fortunate to have a scholarship from UWA, so between that, school visits and other writing, there’s no time for anything else.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Exactly that, getting published! There are so many talented writers not yet published. Perseverance is very important, editing and editing (even though it’s so hard sometimes) and just continuing to sit for hours writing and editing even when you don’t know where something is going. I write dreadful early drafts but refine them again and again, dozens (if not hundreds) of times, even for a 350-word picture book, until what I am trying to say begins to emerge. I wish it didn’t take so long, but for me, it does.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working at all hours of the day/night in daggy clothes, and taking the dog to the beach when others have to be in an office. I also enjoy travelling and going into new communities as part of my schools work.

—the worst? Rejection letters.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I started before the Internet and used to have to go to a library to research, so things have changed. I love being in the country and accessing information around the world. I think if I was starting I’d do what I did; join a writers group, work at manuscripts as best I can and then send off the darlings.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Getting a book published is just the first step…

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Believe in your work. Only you can write your story.

BOOK BYTE

Annie's SnailsAnnie’s Snails by Dianne Wolfer

A chapter book for newly independent readers. Illustrated by talented WA artist, Gabriel Evans.

Annie loves her pet snails. They have lots of adventures together. She even makes them a special home in an ice-cream container. She thinks they ll be very happy. But will they?

Available from http://www.walkerbooks.com.au/Books/WALKER-STORIES-ANNIES-SNAILS-9781921720635

Meet the Author: Elaine Forrestal

ELAINE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Read, read, read. And write, write, write. Nothing is wasted.

Elaine Forrestal is a lyrical writer with a strong appreciation of nature, music, history aelainepic-1nd the sea. She lives in Perth with her husband, Peter, and their dog, Fling, just a few paces from the untamed beauty of Scarborough Beach. Elaine is the author of many highly acclaimed and popular novels for children, and has also written for television. Her novel Someone Like Me was commended in the NASEN Children’s Book Awards in the UK and won the WAYRBA Hoffman Award. It also won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers.

Elaine coverWith the publication in 2008 of her first picture book, Miss Llewellyn-Jones, and her first novel for older readers, Black Jack Anderson, she widened her horizons and entered a new phase of her writing career. To See the World: a voyage of discovery aboard the sailing ship Uranie is her latest book, due for release on April 1st 2014.

For information about Elaine and her books, visit her website at www.elaineforrestal.com.au

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I am a story teller. Ever since I was a small child I have told stories. Once I learned to write, I discovered that I was also a story writer. I love the way that words can be made to work together – the beauty of them and the way they can be juggled and swapped around to make different meanings

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I was a Pre Primary teacher for 23 years and loved it. If the pressure to become a full-time writer hadn’t been so great I would probably still be doing that.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Becoming published was almost an accident for me. After that the toughest obstacle was making enough time to teach and write. Since I have been a full-time writer the biggest challenge has been to keep re-inventing myself as a writer. To keep my writing relevant in a changing world.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life is being able to work from home.

—the worst? Balancing the budget on a low income.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Maybe nothing. In spite of a changing world you still have to do the hard work, believe in yourself and keep on sending your work out to publishers. Never give up – that hasn’t changed.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? As I’ve said, I didn’t really set out to become an author. If someone had told me, back then, that I would earn my living from writing books I would not have believed them.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Elizabeth Jolly told me never to throw anything away. She meant drafts, failed stories, ideas. And Julie Watts sent me a copy of Eleanor Nilssen’s book on how to write for children. The best advice I got from that is to take out the manuscript you are working on every day – even if you think you can only spare 10 minutes. That 10 minutes (which will often turn into a lot more) is enough to keep the story fresh in your mind. Your subconscious will keep working away at the ideas while you are doing other things, but only if you remind it to.

Meet the Author: Dale Harcombe

DALE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Write, write, write. Don’t be content with first, second or even third drafts. Make it the best it can be. The hardest part then is knowing when to stop. Read, read, read as much as you can of all different writers and different kinds of books. Try and analyse why things work or they don’t. I’ve found since I’ve started to write I have become a more critical reader. I get impatient if the author doesn’t move the story along in some way. When I write I try and leave out the bits I would skip through while reading.  For example those passages that convey information because the author found it interesting but it does not advance the story or help the reader know the characters better.

Dale Harcombe

Dale lived in Western Sydney and the Central West of NSW before moving to the South Coast which immediately felt like home.  She started writing articles and poems. Many were published in magazines and newspapers. She has also written short stories, educational materials, bible studies and Sunday school materials, puppet plays, skits, and songs for young children. A radio play, called Edge of Silence, was broadcast in 2005.

Chasing after the Wind, her first published children’s novel was published by Scholastic in 1997. Since then she has had Kaleidoscope, a book of poetry and six other children’s books published.  Many poems in Kaleidoscope had been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines and newspapers. Her poetry has won prizes and been published in several anthologies. Streets on a Map, her first general fiction book, was published in December 2010. It is now also an E book. Dale is currently at work on another novel with the working title Sandstone Madonna.

As well as jobs as a bookseller and other sales positions, Dale has been a houseparent for a family of twelve boys, manuscript assessor, book reviewer and run creative writing classes at NSW Writers’ Centre, Parramatta Evening College and Central West Community College. She also wrote for several years about marriage and home related topics for www.families.com. She has a BA in Literary and Australian studies. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Sometimes I wonder! No seriously, because there are stories bubbling away inside that want to come out and hopefully, I might have some insights or knowledge that may be helpful to others in their life journey. I guess in another way it is something that has always been in me. I was one of those kids who sent off poems and stories to the newspapers back in the day when newspapers did such things. Do they even do that any more?

Over time that writing urge got pushed aside by other aspects of life. But like the phoenix it came back to life in later years. I started with poetry and articles, later moved to children’s fiction, back to poetry and then onto general fiction with Streets on a Map. Now I’m concentrating on fiction with a smattering of poetry still thrown in, because I can’t leave it alone. Fiction and poetry are my two reading loves as well.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Just living and enjoying life in this piece of paradise where I live. But I probably wouldn’t be as much fun to live with. I tend to get grumpy when I am not writing.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Lack of knowledge of the way the industry works. When I first started, I didn’t have a website, know how to organise a book launch or anything else. It’s been learn as I went along and still learning.  I thought when my first children’s book Chasing after the Wind was published, I had a foot on the door and it would be easier. That didn’t turn out to be the case. The editor who had picked my manuscript out of the slush pile left. Sadly, the new editor didn’t seem to connect with what I was writing. So it was back to square one, and trying to learn more about writing and find markets. Six other children’s books were published before I had Kaleidoscope a book of poetry published. That was the quickest acceptance ever, less than 10 days from submission to acceptance by Ginninderra Press. By then general fiction was calling. Poetry got put aside. Streets on a Map was published and now I am working on another novel but also starting to work on a second collection of poems.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Seeing books I wrote in print and getting feedback from people when they like a book and take time to let me know. I have a few letters which live on my corkboard near my desk which are from readers who have told me how much they enjoyed my books. One of the most special is from a girl who struggled to read. Chasing after the Wind was the first book she ever actually read and enjoyed. That still gives me a thrill when I think about how I got her started on her reading journey and the response from her and her family.

 —the worst? Waiting. Writers spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for publishers to decide, waiting for contracts to arrive, waiting on proofs and editing, waiting for the book to be published. Waiting is not my strong suit. I usually try and forget about it and get busy with some new work in the meantime. E books and self publishing has changed a lot of that and cut out much of that waiting time but it’s not something I’ve investigated a lot to date. The promotion and marketing aspects that go with writing these days I also find hard. I’d rather just write.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I’d be less naive. I’d build a website and blog first and then go from there.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Be yourself because the reality is you can’t be anyone else anyway. So play to your strengths and don’t worry about things you can’t do or comparing yourself with others.

 {Visit the Author Bookshelf page for a snapshot of Dale’s novel, Streets on a Map and details about availability}.