Meet the Author: William Lane


William’s top tip for aspiring authors: Find the thing that is most important to you to say, and that you are able to say at present.

William-Lane-publicity-image-2William Lane lives in the Hunter Valley, NSW, where he is raising three children. After completing an Honours degree in Australian
literature, he travelled and worked in a number of different jobs. In addition to reading and writing, his interests include music and education. He has completed a doctorate on the Australian writer Christina Stead, and has had several critical articles on Stead published in literary journals. He is the author of three other novels: Over the Water (2014), The Horses (2015) and The Salamanders (2016).


Why do you write? I write to understand. I explore questions that bug me, because something about them does not seem to add up. A story is a form to tease out questions important to me.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being very unhappy.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Perhaps believing I had a finished work, which I thought worth trying to publish.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The privilege of being published, and of having a readership, even if it is only small.

…the worst? The vulnerability of being published. Once your name is on a public work, you have to wear it.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have more faith in following my intuition than I had.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I had been more aware of the differences between publishers; there are a lot of publishers, but only some will be a good fit for your work.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Time is a writer’s best friend.

How important is social media to you as an author? I’m not very aware of how important it is, as I don’t understand social media well. I don’t have a blog or a website, but I am aware enough to know I probably should. Social media makes me feel socially awkward, which is not a feeling I really want to be reminded of! The email form interests me. I have a few stories composed entirely of emails.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? If I have nothing to say, which is quite often, I don’t write. I see no reason to push it. So I suppose I simply don’t label a time of not writing as writer’s block. I just see it as a fallow time – or, more likely, a time to research a future work or polish an old one. In other types of writing, such as academic writing, I do experience writer’s block, which in that case is shying away from doing the hard yards, the slog, of getting out an idea. Writing stories should hopefully never be a slog.

How do you deal with rejection? I sulk. But then it goads me. I only become more determined to revisit the rejected manuscript and make it better. It’s all part of the game. Every rejection has led to a better work.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? It’s just play.

If you had a chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? Could I divide my time between two writers? Emily Bronte – it would be fascinating to observe how she interacted with the world, to try to get an idea of how she came to understand so much so young. And Jane Austen – she would just be wicked fun.



The Word

William Lane

Kenric is an oddball advertising eccentric who possesses an
unusual gift for language. The brands he names, sell. Yet he
comes to believe advertising uses language too cynically.
He is inspired by Maria to abandon the corporate world
and establish a small residential community called The
Word. The idealistic community relocates from Pittwater to
a warehouse in industrial Mount Druitt, gathering about it others concerned with the misuse of language.
The Word is both a charming ensemble piece of unforgettable characters, and an astute and humorous exploration of the ways in language beguiles, creates connections, but also misleads. The novel parallels current world trends, while evoking
with candour Sydney’s watery beauty and suburban harshness.

It is available here.

Guest post: How we’ll read and write our way to the future

51aPpsswguL._UX250_Author of award-winning short stories and internationally acclaimed novels Rosanne Dingli says clues to the future lie in the past.

I’m often asked for an opinion on the future of books, writing, and publishing. Good questions come from those who have been writing for some time, who have seen changes that have profoundly and permanently shaken the industry.

Publishing has transformed since 2009, and even if some fundamental things have stayed the same, the paradigm shifts and swings experienced can never be reversed.

Clues to the future lie in the past. The book world has always been subject to upheaval and disruption, especially with language and vocabulary. Political topics caused splits in families and communities, but also had a hand in altering and varying what appeared in print, so habituation and expectations of the reading public evolved.

The evolution can be attributed to four causes: affordability of books and universal education, establishment of book production and selling processes, increased rapidity in communication, and enormous innovations in printing and computer technologies.

  • Mass production of books, widespread literacy, and more leisure in people’s lives led in the post-WWII years to burgeoning entertainment, including a sharp rise in publication of fiction.
  • Publishing houses experienced their glory years, and the production/distributing cycle was established, enduring to this day.
  • The mass media of communications shrank the globe; news travelled rapidly, as did current affairs, celebrity gossip, and popular psychology.
  • Offset printing dramatically changed the speed and quantities of print runs.

Nothing, however, exerted as much power and turbulence as the advent of the home computer. Owning the means to record and process words has revolutionized writing. And the internet made magic happen. By 2006, people were writing more than ever before. It was not long before self-publishing became available through companies such as Amazon, Smashwords, Ingram Spark, and others.

Having the means to produce a manuscript and have it published cheaply or at no cost created a tsunami of material by writers who understood the tools. Still, just because one has the means and tools does not always mean the product is excellent. Many people own sewing machines, but not all are good enough tailors to make and sell clothing for a living.

It’s possible to predict that gross over-supply of self-published material will eventually plateau and subside, simply because it’s not possible for all who try to succeed. It is inevitable – even by the law of averages – that many will fail. Fail to finish a manuscript. Fail to publish it adequately well. Fail to attract enough sales. Fail to reach potential or reader expectations. Even if one follows advice of those who have done well, ticks all boxes, acts professionally, and “does not give up” there is absolutely no guarantee every book will succeed. Even very famous household-name authors have a few titles that bomb.

Many books by thousands of amateur and professional authors who have done their utmost to write, produce, and promote have sunk to the bottom of the pile at Amazon, never to rise or be seen again. In the next five years or so, many writers will give up. The difficulty to do well at this game – however one chooses to publish – will be widely recognized.

Careful observers of the book world noted in the past six or seven years that publishing has split into two (or more) streams. Traditional publishing and bookshop distribution and selling is one. Online production and selling, of both ebooks and paperbacks, is another. There is a bit of overlap, but it’s an intersection used mainly by readers, who might swap streams from time to time. Very few authors can say they belong squarely and lucratively to both sides. An independent author who ventures into a bookshop after spending a lot of time online quickly observes how different the two streams are. If the products were not so similar, one would be forgiven for thinking they were two completely separate industries. And in many ways they are. One can predict that in the next few years, this divide will become wider and harder to traverse.

The future will introduce more publishers, aggregators, and distributors such as Amazon and Smashwords. Trying for a corner of the market can be very tempting. Small publishers, too, will proliferate, but not for long. The big publishing conglomerates will hold their solid position. But only if they adapt, and adopt efficient resources to compete with the slickest, fastest, and most innovative of the independents; and if they keep their prices down, which has always been difficult.

It won’t be enough to publish electronic, paper, or audio editions. One will need to provide incentives such as background music, animations, and other additional material for ebooks, interactivity, well-illustrated paperbacks, fold-outs, and a number of ingenious inventions to keep books at the forefront of competing entertainment on various media.

Although edification and education are the other two reasons the world wants books, entertainment is the foremost reason they stay popular, and will continue to do so well into the future. Going back to those four points above; if we adjust innovation and progress according to the times, we can expect more of the same, with a few surprises and twists in the tail.

Visit Rosanne’s Amazon author page.


Meet the Author: Tim Heath


TIM’S TOP WRITING TIP: Get the novel written before even pushing publishing options. Get it polished, have something you are proud of. Read the two books above I’ve mentioned. Get in touch with me and other authors for help and encouragement. And read a lot.

Tim HeathTim Heath has been married to his wife Rachel since 2001 and they have two daughters. He lives in Tallinn, Estonia, having moved there with his family in 2012 from St Petersburg, Russia, which they moved to in 2008. He is originally from Kent in England and lived for eight years in Cheshire, before moving abroad. His debut novel (Cherry Picking) was published in 2012 and his second novel (The Last Prophet) in January 2015.  His third novel (The Tablet) is in edit, expected in December 2015.



Why do you write? I write because I have exciting stories to tell, ideas that float around my head until I’ve put them into print. I write to share these worlds, trusting others will eventually see what I see. It’s also good to have something that releases the stress, that allows you to be yourself and writing, for me, is that thing. It helps the rest of my life go on a little smoother – of course, writing also opens yourself up to all kinds of other pressures, but I’ll ignore them blissfully at the moment.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m only a part-time writer at the moment, so I guess it’s easier to answer that question with the other business stuff I do – I guess I’d be doing more of that. Truth be told, I only became (a part-time) writer by moving abroad nearly seven years ago. I’m a church leader and moved to St Petersburg (the Russian one) and then Tallinn (Estonia) where my family is now very happily based. This all keeps us very busy.

So if I didn’t have the space for writing, I guess I’d be doing all these things a little more – but maybe just a little more stressed.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? It was different things at different stages – the first challenge was certainly actually getting the novel written. I knew what I was seeing in my head was a great world with a strong plot. Ideas are not hard for me. The challenge (for all my books actually) is, can I get what I see down onto paper? Can I do the premise justice?

Sadly, having a finished book (yes, getting edits and covers etc is challenging, if you want it done correctly that is!) is not the end of the journey – it’s hardly even the mid point. Actually getting it out there (publication, firstly, but even beyond that) is a huge challenge. It might be the best story ever written, but if no one knows about it, nothing will change.

You need a lot of self drive and self belief, plus the support of a loving family around you goes a long way.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Until recently I’d certainly say writing. Last year shows this. I finished the first draft of The Last Prophet in January 2014. I then went straight into the editing process (don’t do this, I now know!). By September, I was bored. I hadn’t created anything in nine months, just changed and edited stuff as it came back from my team. In September, I’d planned to set time aside to write novel number three. I’d planned well and in just 13 writing days (over about seven weeks) I’d written the first draft of The Tablet – it flowed out of me. I’d missed creating so much it kind of landed on the page like a dam breaking.

By this January, a year on, I realised that in the last 12 months, I had just those 13 days of actual free flowing writing – the rest was just editing and publication issues. Ironically, even as a part-time ‘writer’, actual writing happens all too infrequently.

—the worst? It’s a very lonely path at times. Actually breaking through (I’ve seen relative ‘success’ at times) only pushes you far beyond your friendship circles. Friends who read your books tend to say nice things. Total strangers can (and do!) say anything!

It’s especially hard for the debut novel, as you’ve no point of reference and sharing your work for the first time with the world is a scary process, there’s no denying it.

Through the bad reviews (I’ve got far more good reviews, I should add, from total strangers too!) I realised that some people just like to be mean. All my favorite books by writers I could only dream of being half as successful as, have bad reviews. One-star reviews for books I absolutely loved reading. It just goes to show, you can never please everyone. So having a full range of reviews (as my debut novel Cherry Picking now has) only goes to show you’ve truly hit the mass market.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Knowing the ultimate publishing route I took, I’d have gone straight for that option had I known it at the time. Something I also did (and have seen others too doing) is rushing the process to get that first novel out. It meant too many mistakes (even though I had a team of proofreaders etc) got through and it just looks bad. These were corrected, but whilst I wouldn’t say wait until it’s perfect (it never will be) I would say don’t rush it until you are sure it’s up to standard for general reading by others.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? There’s the advice I’ve picked up on the way (which I can see is asked next, so I’ll add it there). That would have been nice to know earlier on than I did.

I don’t know if I set out to become an author – I wrote and that led to writing which in time led to a finished first draft (at long last!) which opened further doors. Looking back, I see the process now. But I guess I set out in the first place with the goal being to write the story down completely that I’d been acting out in my head.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? I’ll say two pieces, the first got me flowing right at the beginning of my writing career (before this time it was just a hobby I fitted around life). In his excellent book Your Writing Coach, Jurgen Wolff lists a number of reasons why people stop writing and I connected with most of them. The biggest one told me that you should write the first draft without reading it through, just write it, get it onto paper before you read it through. Before then, I’d been editing on the go – it left me with seven polished chapters but how could I start chapter eight, it just wasn’t up to standard – so I had stopped, until I read this life giving advice.

The second has helped me recently – from another brilliant writing book, this time by Stephen King – On Writing. I have the best quotes from his book next to my writing desk – this one I like particularly: “You can’t please all the readers all of the time; you can’t even please some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to please at least some of the readers some of the time.”


Cherry Picking
Cherry PickerNigel Gamble is a man with everything – including a dark past. He took his name from his early business successes, but in reality none of it was based on risk – only certain success. Every decision Nigel has ever made in business, people, sport or life had been based on some prior knowledge. When a stranger appears it shakes his rich world to the core. But Nigel has been waiting for him – and preparing. Now it’s a fight to the death – there can be only one winner.
UK Amazon link
The Last Prophet
Last ProphetJohn awakes to find himself in a hospital bed with no memory of how he got there. Then the visions start. Destruction and death. A last chance. The only one who can save millions of people. He is no hero. Could he do what was being asked of him?
UK Amazon link



Meet the Author: Sioban Timmer

SIOBAN’S TOP WRITING TIP: It’s important to have a clear vision for your writing and the direction you want your work to take. A solid sense of direction allows you to accept feedback that is constructive and valuable to the agenda of your work and disregard that which isn’t. This means you make the decisions that are best for your writing – and not your ego.

Sioban Timmer is a Western Australian writer who grew up in Perth’s southern suburbs and now lives near Sioban TimmerByford with her husband Paul and their two children. Sioban produces stories and poetry for adults and children on a wide range of themes and currently offers children’s readings and workshops, monthly literacy sessions for children called ‘Bonding With Books’. Sioban is the publicity officer for the Gosnells Writers’ Circle as well as coordinator of the Children’s Corner Competition in Showcase Magazine. Visit Sioban on Facebook at


Why do you write? For as long as I can remember I have always put my ideas down on paper, it’s part of who I am. Inspiration is like a persistent ringing phone, it won’t stop until you answer the call. If the ideas are there, I have to nurture them and give them the attention they deserve or they keep rolling around and popping back into my mind. That said, I can’t imagine a version of myself that didn’t write – for me the question is; how could I not?

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would love to be an artist, a dancer or a singer; anyone who has been subjected to me attempting to do these things knows – it’s a good thing I love to write.

If I were able to choose something else that would give me a sense of purpose it would involve working within the local community. I never cease to be amazed at what people can achieve by choosing to share even a little bit of their time for the good of others. People being willing to share their energy keeps a sense of community alive.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was very lucky to find Jasper Books, a Perth-based Western Australian micro publisher. I was able to establish a personal connection with the owner Cate Rocchi. Jasper Books has a passion for ensuring that Australian audiences have a chance to read books that contain local stories told in our uniquely Australian style.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I love getting positive feedback about the book; especially from children. Kids are very honest, if they don’t like your work they will tell you, if they think it’s awesome they will tell you. Children have commented how amazing it is to meet someone who has been able to write ‘a whole book!’ and it’s so wonderful to be able to tell them ‘I loved to write as a child and look what I was able to achieve. If you love to write, keep going, stick with it!’

—the worst? Trying to incorporate the business and creative aspects of writing can be challenging. Time feels better spent on the writing; the ideas and the thrill of a concept at the very beginning when you start to get a real sense that it’s a piece worth continuing.

But publishing is also a business and it requires all the same administration – invoicing, and bookwork. Not as creative, not as enticing – but required to present as a professional individual and also to ensure that your work remains financially viable.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have more faith in my abilities as a writer and put a copy of the quote below above my desk:

You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savour it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you’ve lost them forever-Wayne Dyer

Most of the chances I have taken have had a successful outcome or positive flow on effect. If I have taken a chance and it hasn’t panned out – it certainly didn’t do me any harm.

Hearing ‘No’ doesn’t kill you, but if you don’t try – what opportunities have you unwittingly killed off?

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author?

  1. Do the math. Examine all of the costs – the obvious costs and the hidden costs. Don’t forget when pricing the book that retailers will want to add mark up.
  2. Immerse yourself in what you love – do workshops, join groups and get involved. You learn so much from other writers and their different styles, but it is also important for the networking side and the skills that can be shared between writers like feedback and editing.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Write what you love – Love what you write. If it doesn’t feel authentic to you, it won’t feel authentic to the reader.


cover with text copyToughen Up, Princess offers a new perspective on traditional fairy tales with a distinctly Australian flavour. The book is filled with delightful tongue in cheek illustrations by local artist Alison Mutton, which adds to the uniquely Aussie feel.

These humorous interpretations help children to see that there is another side to every story, even one they think they know very well. Many are told from the point of view of the supporting characters and encourage children to consider that we are all the star of our own story. The giant doesn’t see Jack as the hero, the dwarfs didn’t want Snow White to move in and maybe Cinderella liked cleaning. The commonly accepted ideas are challenged in a humorous and engaging manner while encouraging children to remember everyone perceives the world through their own eyes, their own words and their own viewpoint.

For a list of stockists visit

The book is also available from the publisher.



Inspiration for a book

 by Victor Kline

The role of the artist is not often talked about these days. But I fear there is a subliminal idea of what it is, which has slowly permeated our western culture since the turn of the twentieth century. The original ‘permeators’, as far as I can tell, were that morbid trio of northern European playwrights Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg. These happy campers shared the view that life was pointless and hopeless and that it was their job to draw this cheery fact to the attention of lesser minds, who may have suffered from the delusion that life had a point, or who were foolish enough to imagine there was some hope.

In theatre at least, that viewpoint persisted up to the ‘Angry Young Men’ of the British stage of the 1950s. Only now there was a subtle change. The idea had become not exactly that things were totally hopeless, but rather that they were pretty damn bad, and it was the author’s duty to draw this to the attention of an apathetic world, so that those who held the reins of power would say: “Aha, thank you angry young playwright for alerting us to the fact that there is social inequality. We’ll now rush off and legislate that away.”

Of course the holders of the reins of power, in reality, remained unmoved. But the playwright didn’t care. He had done his duty, and now could go down the pub for a beer with his mates and tell them all what an activist he was.

In the world of novel writing there was a greater variety. People wrote romances and bodice rippers and science fiction and all manner of escapism. But if ‘serious fiction’ be their intention, then of course they had to embrace the hopelessness of the snowbound trio, or the preachy ‘fix this’ of the angry young men.

It never occurred to anyone to think it may just be the real duty of an author to go beyond the winging and offer a solution. Well I guess I have always thought that if you can’t offer a solution, don’t bother. In the modern world we all know very well, from the 24 hour news cycle, just how bad things can get. So just re-affirming, in literary form, how bad things can get, adds little of value to the mix. Give the politicians and social workers and medicos a bit of a blueprint to work from. Use your contemplative time to offer ideas to those too busy to contemplate.

That was the attitude I brought to the writing of The Story of the Good American. I wanted to show how things just might get fixed. But I didn’t want to lock myself away in the British Museum, there to invent theories that took no account of human nature. I wanted to write about something I knew could happen, that I knew was happening.

I chose the amazing work being done by people like Bill and Melinda Gates, whose aim is nothing short of the total abolition of world poverty and disease. But they are no theorists. They are getting out there and making it happen. Their method has its genesis in a simple mind shift. Instead of making the business of business the centre of their world, they have the business of philanthropy at the centre, and their ‘normal’ business becomes a feeder for that. Their shareholders support them because any temporary loss of income will be more than compensated for by the huge extra market they are creating. The destruction of poverty and disease means the creation of a whole new world of consumers for their products.

Then they are also in the business of enlisting other billionaires to their way of thinking. At this stage they have commitments from one-third of the world’s 200 richest individuals. Even that is enough cash to get the job done, and it will get done.

My characters are not Bill and Melinda Gates. They are fictional, exciting characters who find themselves caught up in all sorts of adventure and romance. It is a novel after all. I wanted to write something that was fun to read, that put the emphasis back on old-fashioned storytelling and empathetic characters. But the Gatesian thread is there for anyone who wants to pick it up.

Lastly, and most importantly, I wanted to give the average person like myself a bit of a blueprint too, for how we can fit into this new era which is dawning. How we can shrug off the despair that all the angry young men have been laying on our shoulders for a century, and joyfully do our bit. But if you want to know how that all works, you’ll have to read the book.

Headshot 2Victor Kline started his working life as Sydney’s youngest barrister. He worked as a Federal prosecutor in Sydney and later as a defence counsel in the Northern Territory in its Wild West days. He has been a playwright, theatre director and actor Off-Broadway and in various parts of Australia. He is the author of the novel Rough Justice and the bestselling memoir The House at Anzac Parade, as well as several produced plays. His most recent novel is The Story of the Good American. As well as New York and Central Australia, Victor has lived and worked in London, Paris, the South of France and New Guinea. He currently lives back in Sydney with wife Katharine and a little grey cat called Spud.


A hobo, a billionaire and the woman they both love. An unusual prescription. Some remarkable cures.

Joe Starling was Pete A. Vanderveer’s right hand man. But one day Joe just up and left the billionaire. He left New York City too. Turned up years later in his home town of Sydney Australia, shining shoes in the Pitt Street Mall. What happened in between, to Joe and Pete and to the woman they both loved, was very likely to change the world. The book is available in various formats from

Meet the Author: Rebecca Laffar-Smith


REBECCA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Trust your Muse, because doing so always leads to a better story. Even if it feels like she’s being stubborn and uncooperative, look at why she’s doing that. What is she trying to tell you? Let her lead you in the right direction because she’ll never steer you wrong. Your inspiration, your Muse, your inner angels, whatever you like to call that instinctive artist within you is tapped into real magic. They see the story the way it’s meant to be written and if you let them guide you the whole process becomes that much easier. Trust the misdirection, trust the quirky unexpected, just go with it and see what unfolds. Take risks and try new things because it can lead to remarkable discoveries. I’m certain you’ll always be pleasantly surprised; sure it might require you do some editing, but it’ll definitely lead to a richer, fuller story.

Born to the magical beauty of her sunburnt country home in Western Australia, Rebecca Laffar-Smith always yearned to explore the wonders of this world and beyond. After 12 years as a freelance writer and editor, she gave up writing about the non-fiction world in favour of the fantastical creatures and fanciful things she could create and immortalise in fiction. Now she writes in the moments she can steal away from homeschooling her son, raising her daughter, and volunteering as an events coordinator and mentor for her local writing community. She dreams of someday running a farm-stay writer’s retreat on the outskirts of Perth and writing her stories in a detached, hexagonal room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and plenty of natural light.

Rebecca welcomes comments, questions, and feedback. Readers can find her on Facebook: and Twitter:

For more information about Rebecca and her writing, visit


Why do you write? There are a million answers and no answers to this question and I’ve asked it of myself hundreds of times over the years. Usually I ask it when I’m having those bad “can’t write” moments, especially when the anxiety is looming and I feel overwhelmed by it all. Or when a bad review comes in. Or when it’s three in the morning and I can’t seem to make that vital scene work. Or it’s three in the morning and I can’t shut up the ideas and get to sleep. OK, you get the idea, there are a lot of times when I ask myself that question although it’s phrased more like, “Why do you do this to yourself?”

When it comes down to it, I’m just not happy when I’m not writing fiction. I’ve gone through periods in my life when I put the fiction aside to pursue other things (like paid non-fiction freelance work), but deep in my heart I was always yearning to come back to the stories. Whenever I wasn’t writing I had a lingering sadness, a void, like I wasn’t living into the person I was meant to be. Writing fills the void and lets me create lasting meaning and connection for myself and for my readers.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m not really sure because it’s never been a real option. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was six years old and other than a short school-leaver dip into retail, it’s all I’ve done professionally. For years I worked as a freelance writer, editor, and Web designer before giving that up to focus on family, community, and fiction. I think if I weren’t writing I might gravitate toward education. I was in Uni finishing the first year of a Bachelor of Education degree when I decided to homeschool my son and I really love the topic. The opportunity to homeschool has been fantastic for our whole family, not to mention finally giving me an excuse and opportunity to focus on my fiction. So, if I weren’t a writer, I might be a teacher.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Perfectionism. I was too obsessed with making everything perfect. That’s the only way I can explain spending eight years on my debut novel. It was by no means my first book either; there were several that are buried deep in my archives because they weren’t perfect.

I had to learn to put aside that need to get every detail perfect and instead focus on telling a good story. The important thing is to get the good story onto the page, because it can then be crafted into a great story. And that’s what readers really want, great stories. They don’t care if it’s perfect, they just want to be entertained. Once I got over the need to tell the perfect story it became much easier.

I think one of the toughest obstacles authors face these days is a traditional mindset. The industry is changing so rapidly that you have to be willing to jump in feet first, make mistakes, get messy, and be willing to do things a different way. There used to be only one long, cold, lonely road to publishing, but that’s not the case any more. Find your supporters, work on your craft, and chase your dreams, because there is no one right way to get there.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I love exploring stories. That’s the best bit. I think it’s why the outlining process is my favourite part, because there is so much to discover. I get to meet my characters and get to know them. I get to look at how the story moves and grows and shapes. During the drafting process there are still some discoveries and I love how the story changes and evolves through the drafts, but outlining is like seeing the world for the first time. I’m a toddler, eyes bright and wide, in awe at all the wonder. Feeling like that is pretty amazing.

—the worst? OK, there are a few downsides that leap to mind. Hitting my head against plot holes can be pretty nightmarish. I’ve found writer’s block stems from trying to force the story to go in a direction it’s not supposed to go. And I can be pretty stubborn so I’ve been known to do that a good dozen times per draft. I’m learning to be less of a control freak and to let the story change and evolve, but sometimes when I’m being particularly stubborn the frustration and depression of not being able to get the words on the page can be painful.

I also have problems with the fact that it’s entirely self-directed. I’m having to learn how to set deadlines, plan and manage projects with time, and develop more discipline about treating my writing self as a professional. I’ve been a pretty slack boss in the past; I give myself too much leeway and it’s not an efficient way to work. It’s important to be a fair but firm boss of your writing self, set your boundaries and act professionally within them.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would focus more on quantity. I spent so many years obsessing about the quality of one story that I missed fantastic opportunities and left so many stories untold. The thing about being a writer professionally is that it requires more than one book to succeed. The more you produce the faster you’ll learn and grow as an artist, the faster you’ll develop your own voice, the sooner you’ll acquire a degree of mastery.

This is one of the reasons I am now so deeply involved with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m the Municipal Liaison for Australia :: Perth :: South and an advocate for the literary industry across the state. NaNoWriMo promotes the idea of writing quickly to produce a good book that you can turn into a great book with editing later. It challenges writers to write a 50,000-word novel in the 30 days of November. That’s a pretty impressive feat but thousands of writers around the world do it every year. (In fact some do it in months other than November as well!)

I’m definitely planning to focus the coming months on increasing productivity. I’ll be writing more words faster, and hopefully that’ll mean it won’t take another eight years before the next book.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told that the best way to stay motivated is to immerse yourself in the writing community. I spent a long time thinking that writing was something you do all by yourself. After all, surely writers are tortured hermits and drunks holed up in their basements bashing away at their typewriters, right? The truth is, the more people you bring into your writing circle who encourage, support, and inspire your writing, the easier you’ll find the whole process. Yes there are times when you need to close the door and get the words written (although I also do really well writing in the company of others at our local write ins), but if you open the door and spend time with others in the industry you’ll find the community helps you maintain your enthusiasm, excitement, and motivation.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? “Write. Publish. Repeat.” – This is actually a book by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright, three hyper-prolific writers who have the Self Publishing Podcast. The book itself is targeted specifically to authors (particularly indie or hybrid authors) who are ready to look at their career with a business mindset. There are lots of great tips in it for building your writing business but what it breaks down to is exactly what the title says. The way to succeed is to “Write. Publish. Repeat.” And more specifically, write good books, publish professionally (be it traditional or self-publishing), then jump right back into the fire and write the next book. The key is to never stray far from production. Many writers get stuck in the promotional circuit trying to play up the marketing for their latest book, especially if it’s a debut novel, but the best marketing for your latest book is actually the ones you write after it. Build your catalogue because every book exponentially increases your reach.

I also had an eye-opening experience at a workshop with film producer, Karel Segers, a couple of years ago where I first discovered The Hero’s Journey concept. If you’ve never heard of it I recommend checking it out. It’ll blow your mind and make you see books and movies in a whole new way. I’ve found it’s also done wonders for my own writing process and led me to write richer stories.


FlightOfTorque_Cover_Laffar-SmithThe Flight of Torque

When investigative reporter, Tori, chases the story of an underground smuggling network, she stumbles into something significantly more sinister. Instead of the illegal trade of exotic reptiles, she finds a temple of devout snake worshippers. Taken by the cultists, Tori is subjected to a savage ritual and irrevocably transformed. Now something dark and primal slithers within her.

Lucas, charged with Tori’s protection, struggles against an overwhelming sense of helplessness. He should be stronger, faster, and more powerful than any human, but in the past 20 years all of his charges have been murdered. Their deaths and his failures linger in his nightmares. They writhe in his mind like the chilling sense of brooding hunger that floods Tori’s thoughts.

Filled with violent rage and dark jealousy, the cult’s High Priestess rears up between Tori and the truth. The only thing protecting Tori from the long, cold embrace of death is the darkness within and the tingling warmth and light of her guardian angel. (Amazon US – Kindle & Paperback) (Amazon AU – Kindle Only)

Local Perth-based readers can also order an autographed copy directly from me and arrange for local pickup during one of my roaming write-ins using this form:

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: Juanita Kees

juanita-keesJUANITA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Write, write, write—every day. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. Learn from your mistakes and be prepared for a tough journey. Writing is a highly competitive, emotional roller coaster and you have to learn to take the bad with the good—graciously.

Juanita Kees graduated from the Australian College QED, Bondi with a diploma in proofreading, editing and publishing, and achieved her dream of becoming a published author in 2012 with the release of her debut romantic suspense, Fly Away Peta. Under the Hood followed in 2013 as one of the first releases from Harlequin’s digital pioneer, Escape Publishing. Juanita works as a freelance editor assisting authors in polishing their work for submission. She escapes the real world to write stories starring spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in.

When she’s not writing, editing or proofreading, Juanita is the cleaning fairy and mother to three boys (hubby included, his toys are just a little more expensive). Her not-so-miniature Dacshund, Sam is her critique partner and keeps her company while writing.

Juanita loves to hear from fans and would love for you to enjoy her writing journey with her at:

Author Site:


Twitter:  @juanitakees

On the Web:


Why do you write? I write because I love to. On paper, I can escape the challenges of living in the real world and visit the places of my dreams. I have the power to create perfect worlds or not so perfect ones, depending on my inspiration. In those worlds I can call up a storm, conjure magic, bring people together, nurture happiness or raise hell. It’s fun!

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d still be searching for myself. Writing has brought a freedom I could never have achieved in the real world. It’s brought me out of my shell and made me a stronger person. I’ve made friends with other writers who can share and understand the dedication it takes to be a writer, and this in turn has helped me open my heart to non-writer friends too.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I guess the challenge for me was learning to believe in myself, to pluck up the courage to put my work in front of an acquisitions editor and to grow that thick hide we need to accept multiple rejections or less-than-satisfied reviews. We need to take the good with the bad and learn from both.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I get to hang out with hunky heroes and feisty heroines in worlds of my own making. I can be as creative as my muse wants me to be and have the power to right the wrongs, make peace not war, and bring people together to live happily ever after.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ― John Lennon

—the worst? Having to drag myself away from my computer and back into the real world, where that power is limited. J

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Writing is a learning journey, and by mingling with other writers, going to conferences and workshops, joining writers’ groups and forums, I’ve learnt so much from both the experienced and less-experienced writers. Creating life-long friendships, acquaintances and connections in the writing world is definitely the way to go.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That’s a tough one. I don’t think anything could have deterred me from striving to become an author. It’s in your blood, an addiction whatever form it takes, whether it’s in fiction, non-fiction, poetry or any other outlet you choose. But, if I had to choose one thing, it would be that I’d do more writing development workshops before submitting my first manuscript.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Write, write, write—every day. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. There’s no point in saying, “I’m going to write a book one day”, you simply need to do it. The more you write, the more you learn, the more you learn, the better you get at it.


Under the Hood by Juanita Kees

Under_the_HoodWhen Scott Devin buys a struggling car dealership in a semi-rural area in Western Australia, the last person he expects to see in charge is a stilletto-wearing, mini-skirted foreperson. Exactly the distraction a struggling, male-dominated workshop doesn’t need! But there’s more to TJ Stevens than meets the eye. TJ Stevens has two major goals in life: to preserve her grandfather’s heritage and protect the teens in her rehabilitation program – and she’ll go to any lengths to do it. Scott Devin’s presence is a threat to everything she’s worked hard to achieve, so keeping him at arms’ length shouldn’t be a problem…or will it?

Available from

Meet the Author: Amanda Curtin

AMANDA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Be a reader as well as a writer, and read widely. Much of what we know about storytelling—structure, pace, characterisation—and about the way words are used and sentences are put together is absorbed almost unconsciously through reading. I think that’s why often when I used to read books about writing, books that break down and analyse the elements of prose, I would have aha! moments, where I’d realise that someone had just articulated something I instinctively knew. Reading also keeps you learning as a writer, keeps you humble, keeps you striving.

ElAmanda Curtin is the author of two novels, Elemental (2013) and The Sinkings (2008), and a short story collection, Inherited (2011), all published by UWA Publishing. She has also worked as a freelance book editor for most of her adult life, and occasionally lectures and presents master classes and workshops for writers. She has a PhD in Writing, is an Accredited Editor (AE) with the Institute of Professional Editors, and is an Adjunct Lecturer at Edith Cowan University.

She has been awarded writing residencies at OMI International Arts Center’s Ledig House in New York State; the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland; Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers at Lasswade, Scotland; and the Tasmanian Writers Centre, Hobart. She has won the University of Canberra National Short Story Award, the Patricia Hackett Prize for best contribution to Westerly, the Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Fiction Award, and the Golden Key Honour Society Award for Excellence in Fiction (Asia-Pacific).

Amanda lives in an old house in an old suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and is currently working on a novella project. Visit her website at


Why do you write? It’s a great question, an intriguing one for any writer to ask themselves. I feel it’s what I’m meant to be doing, who I am at this point in my life. I don’t write because there are things I want to say but because there are things I want to explore, try to understand. It’s the grey areas I am interested in. That’s the short version! I wrote a longish post on this last year:

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve been a freelance book editor for close to 30 years, and still work as an editor, though far less frequently. But if writing (and editing, and occasional teaching) didn’t occupy most of my time, I think I would study photography.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Lack of confidence. Three things helped me there. First, the encouragement of writers in my writing groups (initially, Annabel Smith, Donna Mazza, Danielle Wood, Carmel Macdonald Grahame; later, Robyn Mundy and Annabel Smith) and my academic supervisor, Richard Rossiter. Second, being fortunate enough to win a couple of awards. Third, being accepted into a PhD writing program.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I feel privileged, and lucky, to be able to do what I’m doing generally. And even more so when my work takes me to other worlds—either literally, through travel, or virtually, through desktop research. Beyond that, it’s immensely rewarding when readers go out of their way to make contact to tell me what they loved and why, or that they were immersed in the world I created, or that it connected with something in their own lives.

—the worst? Self-doubt is always the dark to the light, and I suspect it’s the same in any area of the arts.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t have an agent. Having now observed what a good agent can do—working with a publisher, helping with marketing and promotion, etc.—I might have persisted in searching for one willing to take me on. However, it has to be acknowledged that it can be as hard, if not harder, to find an agent than it is to find a publisher. And I’ve also observed that there seems little benefit in having an agent who is not wholly enthusiastic and active on your behalf.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I didn’t realise how necessary, and how time-consuming, the marketing side would be. I’m not complaining, just acknowledging that I wasn’t prepared for it!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? A wonderful piece of advice that I try to put into practice is this: leave something unfinished at the end of a writing day, so that when you return to it you’re plunged immediately into the writing itself, rather than the thinking process that precedes it.


Elemental by Amanda Curtin

elemental_COVER v low resIt has taken a lifetime for me to see that the more afraid people are of the darkness, the further into it they will flee.

Nearing the end of her life, Meggie Tulloch takes up her pen to write a story for her granddaughter. It begins in the first years of the twentieth century, in a place where howling winds spin salt and sleet sucked up from icefloes. A place where lives are ruled by men, and men by the witchy sea. A place where the only thing lower than a girl in the order of things is a clever girl with accursed red hair. A place schooled in keeping secrets.

Moving from the north-east of Scotland to the Shetland Isles to Fremantle, Australia, Elemental is a novel about the life you make from the life you are given.

Available from:

Meet the Author: Vanessa Garden

VANESSA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Read in the genre you wish to write but also experiment with new genres so as to expose your writer’s brain to as many voices as possible. Also, write a little each day. Even half an hour a day can produce a book in one year.

Vanessa Garden

Vanessa Garden lives on the coast of Western Australia with her husband, their three chatty children, and three calming goldfish. When she is not writing, Vanessa can be found at the local bookstore where she works part-time. Being a bookseller as well as an author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not gushing about her favourite reads to customers, or dreaming up her next novel, she enjoys spending time with the people she loves most.


Why do you write? I write because I genuinely enjoy creating stories and spending time with my characters, and also because I simply cannot stop. There have been times, more so before I became a published author, where I have said, ‘oh well, time to throw in the towel and focus on real life’, only to find that a day passes, or perhaps only an hour, before a new idea takes hold and basically doesn’t allow me to give up on writing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d most likely get back into baking and cooking. Before I took writing seriously I was always in the kitchen creating elaborate meals, but now I’m spending less and less time there due to my writing schedule and I do miss it. I’m sure my children and husband are getting sick of my ‘anything goes’ nights of eggs on toast, baked beans and two-minute noodles!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Sticking with it and trying to keep the self-belief alive even after 200 odd rejections! As soon as somebody said yes, my confidence shot up. It is amazing what we can do when somebody believes in us and, more importantly, when we believe in ourselves.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Sharing stories with fellow readers, meeting other writers, and the euphoric buzz that comes with a new idea! There is nothing more exciting than waking up in the middle of the night to jot down ‘the next big thing’ (which will most likely seem ridiculous in the morning, lol).

—the worst? Trying to balance writing with family time and work. I’m very conscious of writing only when my children are at school or in bed, which can be difficult with working hours at my day job eating up a lot of the school time, so often I’m sleep deprived from writing late at night. Sometimes I just feel so exhausted. I wish there was an eight-day week!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I learned as I went (making a lot of mistakes along the way) but it was all necessary to get where I am today. So probably not a thing!

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That sometimes you wait forever to hear back on a manuscript, so instead of waiting anxiously, write something new in the meantime.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? To write the story you want to read.


Captivate by Vanessa Garden

backdrop captivateFor the past 12 months since her parents’ death, 17-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation. Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…