Meet the Author: Beryl Coverdale

BERYL’S TOP WRITING TIP: Believe that you can be successful. Persist with your ideas. Read your writing over and over again until you know it is the best it can be then be brave enough to put it out to the world. Don’t accept the first rejection, if it’s a good piece of writing someone will want to read it.


Beryl Coverdale lives in Perth, Australia. She grew up in County Durham in the north east of England. At 20 she married a submariner and spent the next 40 years  moving from one naval base to another, becoming an expert at making friends, saying goodbye to friends, packing up houses and heading to the next destination. Beryl found the different lifestyles, accents and traditions of the various areas in which she lived fascinating, and they provided great inspiration for her writing.


Why do you write? Because it is my “me time”. I love to be on a roll with all the ideas coming together and when I can’t manage that, I read what I have already written. Whatever I’m doing my mind is often going through what I will write next.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? At almost 70 I think I have done a lot of those other things. I worked, brought up my children, often alone when my husband was away for long periods of time, and moved to lots of different places. I will always be a reader – I cannot imagine life without a book to read, often more than one at a time.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Lack of faith in myself or perhaps lack of courage. I was fortunate enough to have my first novel published by the first publisher I sent it to but I wrote it some years ago and kept on revising it so that I had an excuse for not being brave enough to send it off. You can always find something to alter but in the end you have to decide that the writing is at its best and at its end.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? At the moment it is the prospect of doing something new. It’s exciting seeing my book on the shelf in a shop and having people tell me how they enjoyed reading it, especially people who I do not know. Others, friends and family could be being kind, but why would a stranger contact you to say good things about your book? That’s a buzz!

—the worst? Waiting for the professional reviewers’ comments.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would devote more serious time to my writing earlier in my life and try to meet up with other writers to hear about their success and failure and learn from it. I did read advice given by famous writers; one said: “Always plan your work – write the plan down and stick to it”. Another said: “Never stick to the plan, let your characters go where they will.”

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That every writer started alone, with an idea that needed to be nurtured and as it was your idea you were the only one who could nurture it. Your writing belongs to you – whoever else reads it, loves it or hates it, it’s yours forever. You will never get approval from everyone.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Be brave, take chances – get on with it!

Lazarus coverBOOK BYTE

The Lazarus Quartet

Clarrisa Peterson had no idea when she met the handsome soldier Michael Darrington while working as a war volunteer that this union would bind together four people through two wars, tragedy and eventually lead to murder. All she knew was that she was in love and family, society and poverty were not going to stop her from being with the man she loved.
The Lazarus Quartet examines the delicate balance between loyalty and betrayal, and what happens when bonds become too tight. It is available from

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 or   


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.



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

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


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: 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


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.}

Meet the Author: Anna Jacobs

ANNA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Write your first novel, polish as much as you can, then set it aside and write another. Yes, it’s a significant achievement to complete a whole novel, but your first effort is not likely to be wonderful, just as a carpenter’s first piece will be faulty. After your second novel is finished and polished, go back to your first novel and you’ll see how to improve it. Time is the best polisher, especially for writers beginning their careers. Repeat this prescription, gradually writing more novels, until publication occurs. You can then go back and improve your learning pieces.

Do not self-publish your first book, or even your second. You’ll regret it when you become more skilled. My first book is still unpublished, because as I grew to understand more about what makes a professional standard of writing, I saw that it didn’t have a good enough plot. It taught me so much about writing that it was worth while doing, but the story is resting in peace now.

I know this is an instant world, but athletes don’t expect to win a big race when they’re juniors developing their muscles and skills, and writers shouldn’t expect to become a best-seller with their first books, either. There are exceptions to every so-called rule, but not many!

Anna Jacobs

Anna lives in Western Australia, but regularly visits the UK, where she was born, to do research, because her books are set in both countries. She’s addicted to story telling and has had more than 60 novels published – and she’s not finished yet! New characters keep invading her dreams and nagging her to write about their lives and adventures. She’s been happily married to her own hero for many years. They have two grown-up daughters and one grandson. Anna writes both historical and modern tales, and enjoys the variety. She usually produces three books a year.

Anna’s website at  has a lot of information including a page for each novel, a photo gallery and a lists of each series. Her latest books are The Trader’s Gift, #4 in the five-part historical series, In Search of Hope, #2 in the modern romantic suspense series, and Heir to Greyladies, #1 in the historical Wiltshire trilogy.

Anna is also very excited to have just re-published some of her earlier books, which had been out of print for a while. She’s done this via Amazon’s Createspace. Go to any of the Amazon websites and click on ‘Books’ in the search box list, then type ‘Anna Jacobs Createspace’ into the box to see the complete list.


Why do you write? Because my head is full of stories and I love telling them. I’ve been living with an imagination full of stories and ‘people’ since I was two. In fact, I call myself a storyteller, not a writer. I also write because it makes me happy to give people pleasure. I consider myself part of the entertainment industry. There are enough bleak things happening in the world without me adding to them.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I can’t imagine that. I’d probably fade sadly away. I’m no good at sport – well, pitiful is a better word for it. I’m restricted on travel because of multiple food intolerances. But in writing, very little restricts me. Nope, couldn’t live without my story-telling

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? There were three obstacles. The first was distance. I lived in Australia and wrote books set in the UK, so needed a publisher there. Publishers are pretty ethnocentric (unless they’re dealing with aliens or ghosts). And when I started trying to get published, we didn’t have the Internet so everything had to be snail mail or fax or phone – which took a long time. The second obstacle was the publishing industry itself, which didn’t make it easy for new novelists to get a hearing. And it was as hard to find an agent to help me as to find a publisher. It still is. The third obstacle was other writers. There was a lot of competition even then, though there is more now.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? There isn’t any single thing that’s ‘best’. I love nearly everything about it. So really, doing what I love best is the main thing, ie telling stories. This means going into other worlds via my imagination and through research, and it gives me a richly enjoyable mental life.

Writing takes me to places I’d not have gone and I meet such interesting people. I recently gave a talk in a small wheatbelt town in Western Australia – Wagin, population 1,500. The people of that small town, working with volunteers, put on one of the nicest events I’ve ever appeared at. I didn’t just give a talk. I stayed on for a sit-down luncheon with about 60 people. The food was wonderful, prepared and served by volunteers. I have food intolerances, but they’d worked hard to cater for that. And everyone was so friendly it was a pleasure to talk to them.

—the worst? Doing the proof reading for the final version of a book, the one which is going to the printers. By that time, I know the story backwards and don’t want to read it again. I can’t alter it, unless it’s something drastic, so just have to re-read and search for commas, full stops, typos, etc. This task has to be done, but it is not fun and it’s very hard on the eyes. By that stage, I’d far rather be writing a new story.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Not much. You learn to write by writing, not by attending university or playing around on the Internet, or even meeting other writers. Like a sportsperson, a writer can’t learn to write by reading about it. You have to do it. So the main thing would stay the same. I’d write several books, each one (hopefully) better than the one before, till I got it right. Then I’d go back and re-write the early ones. What would be different and easier is the communication side of writing. I’d find things out more quickly. The Internet and emails have brought the world closer to Australia, and vice versa.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I didn’t wait to be told and would advise newer writers to do the same, go forth and find out. I discovered all sorts of details about the craft and business sides by reading how-to books, studying brilliant nutshell remarks by established authors, going to talks. (Nowadays I’d go on the Internet as well, obviously, and read some writers’ blogs.)

The crucial thing was, I wrote the nutshell remarks down so that I’d not forget them, and could refer to them regularly. They taught me so much. I still have about 500 of them on file and check through them when looking for other people’s wisdom to offer along with my own knowledge when I’m giving a writing course.

One of the best nutshells I found was this: “Give your reader a piece of your mind – not all of it,” by Ansen Dibell. This is so true and I wish I’d found it sooner. You mustn’t overload anything: plot development, characterisation, information. If you tell too much too soon, why would people bother reading on?

What’s the best advice you were ever given? I had a lot of good advice, because writers are very generous people. A particularly good one was: if you want to get good emotional depth to your writing, the things at stake must matter. You can’t get emotional depth with whether the heroine burns the dinner! It seems obvious, but it isn’t applied well by beginning writers.

{Visit the Author Bookshelf page for a snapshot of one of Anna’s new releases and a link to where to buy it.}