Garth Nix Workshop: @garthnix presents at @asauthors

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Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending a workshop run by speculative fiction juggernaut author Garth Nix through the Australian Society of Authors.  Garth Nix has been described as the James Bond of the speculative fiction author world. And for good reason. He’s  smooth, he’s witty, he is internationally successful  and, he knows his business in and out. Coupled with the fact that he rarely does workshops he truly has a reputation for being an international man of mystery.  I jumped at the chance to go, because quite frankly I’d book in to see him read the yellow pages, it’s Garth Nix. However, the question lingers, is he reclusive because he can’t teach or simply because he is so incredibly busy writing, drinking expensive spirits and fighting crime. I can now confidently tell you that it is most certainly the latter.

Garth Nix did something very rare in his workshop, he addressed the ‘Art’ of writing and gave very specific business advice. In my experience workshops tend to focus on the ‘Craft’ of writing and gloss over the other two, whereas Garth Nix divided his time evenly between the three. I’m a bit of a workshop whore so thoroughly appreciated this unique approach. If you’re a bit of an over workshopped hag like me and occasionally suffer from itsallbecomingabitsamesameitis I would thoroughly recommend watching like a hawk for any Garth Nix courses that  come up. You will not be disappointed.

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Stop rambling and just tell me what he said. Okay, I’ll give away a few takeaways from the workshop but because what you take out of a writing course is purely personal the real benefit can only be truly attained by attending them. We are all on different writing  journeys so what inspires us, what we need to learn, what makes sense to us, is all different. So please keep that in mind. It all depends… but here’s a few thing that I learned.

Books are successful because they transfer emotions. You need to put emotions into your characters that in turn transfer into the readers. As such you need to fill up your emotional reservoir.

Write what you know does not mean write an autobiography. You know so much more than your actions. You are a sum total of everything you have read, seen, heard, felt and done. In short, you know so much more than you think you do.

Keep writing. If you finish a book write another story, if you put a book aside write another one. Just keep writing.

Don’t go too wild on your first novel. Learn the craft well before you start being too experimental. A tight focus with a straightforward structure works best for beginners. No need to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it.

Don’t just rely on grammar to construct beautiful prose. Remember rhythm and euphony.

You need to decide if you’re writing for long or short term gain. Your approach to what and how you write will be different.

I shall leave my giveaways there, I hope to see you at the next course.

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What Happens in Book Club… reviews are coming in

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WHIBCE3Hooray. I’m starting to get some reviews for What Happens in Book Club… and they’re fabulous. I am so excited that I am just going to have to share them with you. And please, if you love my book give it a review. It’s up on GoodReads as well. Love to hear your thoughts… and of course download What Happens in Book Club 2!!! I’m really excited about bringing out parts 3 and 4 next month.

A funny tongue in cheek read

on July 20, 2015
Laugh out loud read. Gwyn is a teacher who belongs to a book club that discusses books and drinks wine sometimes more wine than discussion. Until one meeting when it comes to a stuttering standstill with shell shocked women after reading 50 Shades. It’s after most of the club leaves that the fun begins when Gwyn admits quietly to her friends that the book was quite a turn on. Her one friend who was 50 shades of wine, exploded loudly with her response to everything in the conversation “Get her a vibrator!” I was laughing so hard. Gwyn’s sexual misadventures turn into fodder for her friends. This author takes the meaning of tongue in cheek to a whole new level. I hope for Gwyn’s sake that she meets up with the silver fox again. He was too hot to handle! sigh…

on July 19, 2015
I really enjoyed What Happens in Book Club… Robin Elizabeth’s sharp wit as she tells of heroine Gwyn’s unlucky love life is hilarious, and that mixed with the fact that Gwyn’s men seem to resemble the leading men from her book club’s monthly read is just too funny. After reading Fifty Shades of Grey the book club decides some classics might be order, a year of them, and in Episode 1 of What Happens in Book Club…, they begin with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Who hasn’t wanted to see what it would be like to find your Mr Bingley? Or your Mr Rochester? Gwyn does, with hilarious results! And I loved the funny dialogue between Gwyn and her friends Mac and Selene. But who does Gwyn really want – the mysterious man from the very beginning of the book, the sexy silver fox who lingered at the bar after they discussed Fifty Shades of Grey, the man Gwyn calls Mr Grey. I can’t wait to read who Gwyn hooks up with next in Episode 2. Downloading now!

Fantastically fun, compact read. You can probably knock it over on your morning commute and chuckle about it all day; Then complete with episode 2 on your way home. Can’t wait until the author starts doing audio editions too.
 

Speculative Fiction Festival at #NSWWC

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Be Careful What You Wish For

As you all know I can’t resist a good festival so I of course went to the Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre run by Cat Sparks. A good time was had by all. My main take-aways from the day are listed below. Enjoy.

Garth Nix

  • Garth Nix is so brilliant and so talented that he sold his first short story at the age of 19 to a magazine he didn’t even submit to. No I don’t feel like elaborating on that story because the specialness might decrease and I prefer to keep him godlike in my mind.
  • Garth Nix states that there are no dead manuscripts. A manuscript might not sell simply because it does not fit with the appeal of the time, in another five years it might suddenly be in. Don’t ever throw away manuscripts, resubmit, recycle, repurpose them.
  • Garth Nix said that I could sit in the same sunny spot as him. I died and the ran away. Totes kept my cool…

James Bradley

  • Initially thought that he would live out his days as a poet in poetry excellence of the most poety kind. Turns out he unfortunately needed to have written more than six poems to do this.
  • If you win a cheque, don’t lose it, the organisers of whatever competition or award you won it for will be pissed off that they have to rewrite it.
  • Authors get rejected all of the time. Don’t let rejection deter you because even if you have one success that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nasty rejection lurking around the corner.

Kate Forsyth

  • Submit your manuscripts typed. Publishing houses don’t generally accept ones hand written in an exercise book that you have illustrated yourself.
  • Always be brave and keep on persevering. Never let your own fear or ego hold you back.
  • Kate Forsyth signed a copy of Impossible Quest 3 for my niece. I am now the favouritist aunt ever.

Marianne de Pierres

  • Internal logic is key to ensuring that your work is believable and accepted by the reader.
  • Marianne de Pierres says she doesn’t know how she feels about a lot of issues hence her characters have different views and she allows them to sort through bigger picture issues. Her works are explorations not morality messages.
  • Write to you personality style. That being style, genre/subgenre, length, strength of message etc. You have to write your novel not somebody else’s.

Stephanie Lai

  • Stephanie Lai starts with a human/scientific problem and then develops the story around that.
  • Stephanie Lai leans towards short stories because she loves quick immediate communication and gratification.
  • Stephanie Lai says to keep the science real but the world fun and fantastical.

Isobelle Carmody

  • Isobelle Carmody crowd funded her book before crowd funding was a thing. That’s how cool she is. She sold shares in her first book for $30 each and agreed to give the money back should she ever be published.
  • Isobelle Carmody has never been rejected. She humbly claims that it is because she takes so long to write her books that publishers are too scared to say no lest she never write another one or takes even longer next time.

Bruce McCabe

  • Bruce McCabe starts with real life problems being explored in scientific labs today, then moves out twenty years and explores what will be happening with those issues and advances.
  • Bruce McCabe feels that trying to box Science Fiction into a narrow definition isn’t productive. That there is a whole spectrum of sci fi ranging from hard to soft and they’re all equally valid.

Pamela Freeman

  • Okay, I am so spun out by what she said to me personally that I cannot even remember what she said on her panels. It would have been insightful too because she always says really good stuff. Pamela Freeman told me that she had read my ebook What Happens in Book Club… and had laughed so hard that she had to read bits to her husband. I nearly died in fangirling overload. I’m not confident that I am actually awake and this isn’t some extended dream. If I truly am awake… GO ME!

Now the bit that you really want, WHAT DID THE PUBLISHERS SAY THEY WANTED?!?

FableCroft Publishing

They are looking for sci fi. Middle Grade and YA. Make sure you read their submission guidelines or Tehani Wessley will cry. You don’t want to make her cry do you?

Ticonderoga Publications

They like anthologies. Love them! So write an awesome short story. Just don’t be sexist, and violent for the sake of shocking rather than for the sake of the story, otherwise Liz Gryzb will cry. You don’t want to make her cry either, do you?

Just quietly, I did pitch to one of the owners the idea of making a The Voice / Literary Pitching crossover show. They weren’t down with it, so if you have any great ideas like that, don’t pitch those to them. Russell Far rather kindly pointed out that although spinning chairs would be fun, they don’t actually see the person pitching as it is, only their words. Good point Russell, good point. However, if there are any TV execs out there who like my idea I am prepared to except my millions of dollars now.

Pantera Press

Their rep was so warm and wonderful that I think everyone wants to now submit every manuscript to them. Seriously, he was lovely and so caring. He was the Rick Martin of the Panel because he had such passion. The rep in attendance likes Romance so I think we’re all switching just to work with him.

Momentum

Genre fiction with a very clear audience in mind. So none of that boundary hopping, all over the place, wishy washy stuff. Keep it tight, keep it focused, keep it commercially appealing.

Harper Voyager

Wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of Epic Fantasy. But please don’t use humour in your submissions, or guilt trips over the fact that your family will starve if they don’t pick up your manuscript. They don’t like that.

Bloomsbury

Submit through the UK website

Hope to see you at the next festival.

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Book Review: What Happens in Book Club… E1 (It’s not me: It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth

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riedstrap:

My book’s first review. I am so proud!

Originally posted on Welcome to my Library:

Spotlight on Australian Women’s Fiction – What Happens in Book Club… Episode 1: (It’s not me: It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth.


Summary:  Your book club reads books? That’s adorable, Gwyn’s book club drinks wine and rates the hunks from classic literature. Sure they were once a regular book club, full of feisty discussions about Proust, but that all changes after the most awkward book club meeting of their lives. When schoolteacher Gwyn’s generally conservative book club covers a popular novel of a more suggestive nature, Gwyn can’t help but think of all the literary hunks…

View original 703 more words

New Release: What Happens In Book Club…: E2 (I’m Just Not That Into You)

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Fresh from the oven, What Happens in Book Club: E2 (I’m Just Not That Into You) is here! Get it while it’s hot.

WHIBCE2Following on from a disastrous encounter with a gassy Mr Bingley and a damp Mr Rochester, schoolteacher Gwyn just doesn’t seem to be able to keep herself out of trouble. Her mind is full of career ambitions but also of literary super hunks, especially a certain silver fox. What part of her brain will win?

And what’s even better, her best pal Maureen is back in town. Maureen is always a sure fire way to kick both fun and trouble up a notch. How will Gwyn’s steadfast friends, Mac and Selene, cope with the competition?

Enjoy the second part of Gwyn’s adventures where you get to find out if she encounters her knight in ‘silver’ armour again and if Shelley gives her more love than Austen. And don’t forget, what happens in book club, stays in book club.

Get it on: AmazonKobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble / iTunes – for $1.99 USD

Find out where it all started in What Happens in Book Club…: E1 (It’s Not Me; It’s You) for FREE on iTunes / Kobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble

Also available on Amazon

New Release: What Happens in Book Club: E1 (It’s Not Me; It’s You)

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It’s happened. It has finally happened. My book What Happens in Book Club… has been released out into the wild. Download it!!! Oh you want to know what it’s actually about and won’t just download a free copy because you love me… pout. Okay, I shall tell you all about my book and give you the links below in an official looking releasy thingo… but seriously download my book and give it a fabulous review. Things like “It was my cup of tea and my shot of tequila – 5 stars!!!!!” are welcome. “I liked it. I’ll be reading the next one. 4 stars!!!!” also appreciated. I’ll be your bestest friend!

What Happens in Book Club: E1 (It’s Not Me; It’s You)

WHIBCE1Your book club reads books? That’s adorable, Gwyn’s book club drinks wine and rates the hunks from classic literature. Sure they were once a regular book club, full of feisty discussions about Proust, but that all changes after the most awkward book club meeting of their lives. When schoolteacher Gwyn’s generally conservative book club covers a popular novel of a more suggestive nature, Gwyn can’t help but think of all the literary hunks in a suggestive fashion.

Enjoy the delicious sunny Australian setting as Sydney schoolteacher Gwyn learns all about lust, love, friendship and herself. And always remember, what happens in book club, stays in book club.

Get it FREE here: iTunes / Kobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble

Also available on Amazon

Excerpt:

It’s over. I shift awkwardly in my seat, and we all stare into space, deliberately not making eye contact. Our book club is silent. Not a good kind of silence, an awkward silence. The dirty deed had been done; empty wineglasses sit on the dingy bar table between us, and we do not quite know how to move forward from this point. There needed to be empty shot glasses lined up as far as the eye could see for the girls and me to be able to meet each other’s gazes again. But alas, there are only a handful of empty wineglasses, and to be honest, most of them belong to my friend Mac.

“I think now that Fifty Shades is done, we should cleanse our loins with a classic of some sort,” Selene finally broke the silence. Bright red lips, slick black hair, and dark brown eyes. If she would just wear short black dresses instead of business suits, she would fit right in on the set of a Robert Palmer video. She is the unofficial leader of our little book club. After all, she is the one who put the post on Facebook asking for members.

“I think about a year of strong women is in order,” Mac agrees vigorously. Her face is almost as red as her hair. Wine flush or embarrassed blush? She dabs absentmindedly at a wine stain on the frilly long-sleeved blouse she is favouring of late. It must be another pirate phase or, failing that, Shakespeare? Mac is one of my dearest friends, so I should know all about her fashion wants and needs, but she changes fashion more often than I change my knickers, so it is hard to keep track of. “A year of classic, strong heroines.”

The rest of us still just stare at our hands, too embarrassed to look at one another. We would agree to anything at this point if it would just get us out of here. Some had skimmed through Fifty Shades and only read the sexy bits, desperados; some had flicked past the sexy scenes, prudes; and others had stopped reading because the sentence structure made their brains hurt, snobs. And then, of course, our snobbiest of all snobby members, Catherine, had failed to show up at all because she didn’t “do” commercial fiction. Either way, Selene’s own choice of Fifty Shades had stirred up something inside of us, and not just our judgemental attitudes, that nobody wanted to name or discuss.

Our book club is usually so boisterous that we disturbed other patrons. Thank God we know how to drink; otherwise we would be far too much bother. Instead, we are welcomed each month. Well, at least our wallets are. However, our once-a-month shrill disturbance at the Longie is practically a whisper this evening. We should have drunk more wine. All that is on the table between us tonight are those pitifully few empty glasses and a single copy of E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey paperback standing erect in the middle of them. It almost seemed to pulsate and call out to people, “Look what these naughty girls have been reading.” Shut up, book!

“So, Pride and Prejudice?” Selene asks.

There was a general murmur of agreement with calls for a year of classics and then everyone but Selene, Mac, and I fled the scene.

“Well, that was awkward.” I finally found words.

Liked what you read? Read more for free on iTunes / Kobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble

Also available on Amazon

Loved it so much that you want to read the sequel? Get it on: AmazonKobo / Scribd. / Inktera / Oyster / GooglePlay / Barnes&Noble / iTunes for $1.99 USD

E L James and Patrick Suskind’s Perfume Fuelled Orgy of Violence

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Just because you think something is badly written is it really? Is the opinion of the literary elite more important than buyers? Can there not be an acceptance that neither gets the finite say and others opinions are okay? Just thinking about myself in there too. What gives me the right to say that a book is crap? Books loved by millions. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say, “I did not like that book because of X, Y and Z, but that is just my opinion and others are equally entitled to their opinion.” When did we all become so bossy and self entitled? So many feelings.

Recently best selling author celebrated the release of her latest book with a Q&A session on twitter, #AskELJames. This was met with a flurry of excitement from her fans, genuine questions of concern from people who question the message of the book, witty comments from wannabe comedians and disturbingly a barrage of abuse, threats and name calling. And I’m not talking about, “You are a meanie,” I’m talking about, “F you, you F-ing C, I hope you end up in hospital.” All I can say is WTF! How on Earth can people say that they abhor violence against women, and so are protesting the book, do so by threatening another human being? It makes no sense. I think that the discussions around psychological abuse and what constitutes a healthy relationship and the messages we give our daughters, and our sons, about women are vital. I am proud that we as a society have progressed enough to question the way women are treated in the real world and how they are portrayed in fiction. I am, however, disgusted with this social media trend that says it is okay to threaten people we perceive as successful, it is okay to abuse celebrities, and that we have the right to be threatening to another human being and encourage others to be likewise abusive simply  because we don’t like what they wrote. Picking on people you don’t like is bullying, pure and simple. Jumping in and picking on someone because others are doing it and you want in on the fun is even worse, it’s bullying, and being a mindless follower.

You see the interesting thing about Fifty Shades is that a year prior to the movie coming out my newsfeeds were regularly full of friends saying that they were reading Fifty Shades, how exciting it was, how everyone should read it, and that it was just soooooo sexy and romantic. When they directly addressed me to read it I generally politely declined as I had attempted to read it but found it not to my taste and the main character’s desperation for love, and what she was willing to put up with, far too depressing. Hey, I’ve been a single woman in my 20s, I know all too well the stupid things smart women do in the hope of getting love. It’s tragic and we need to teach girls and women to want and expect more out of life. Not once did I say the author was a c or that my friends who liked it were f-ed up. I politely told them my stance. Because disagreement is okay. Discussing important issues is what we need to do. Abusing others does not achieve either of those two things.

Fast forward to the release of the movie and in Australia Lisa Wilkinson saying the movie was abhorrent and glorified domestic violence. What happens next? Suddenly those same friends who had bought Fifty Shades, loved Fifty Shades, updated Fifty Shades, begged me to finish reading Fifty Shades, were all now anti Fifty Shades. The biggest supporter that I knew, with countless updates on how much she was loving it previously,  was actively even putting down people who read it or enjoyed it. She said how she didn’t get past chapter 8 because it was such a snoozer… Again I say WTF! These people had no view of their own. People said it was great so they said it was great. A year later a celebrity said it wasn’t great so they change their mind and say they hate it too. Even more interestingly, not one of them would admit to changing their mind. They all claimed to have always not liked the trilogy. I’d like to make it clear, I felt Lisa Wilkinson giving her contrary opinion was vital. It opened up discussion. It opened up important discussion. However, the flip flop of people and them blindly following popular opinion without any admission or reason for their change was, to say the very least, disappointing.

Then E L James does her #AskELJames and what happens? Some fan questions , some critical questions (again, I’ll say it, important questions), some clowns and then a whole heap of trolls. Why? Because it’s cool to not like Fifty Shades now. If those trolls were trully that passionate about either of the causes they claimed to support, quality literature or women’s rights, they would be petitioning publishing houses and government agencies, with detailed and reasoned responses. Because those are the people who can enact change. They’d be contacting the media for publicity. They’d be raising awareness. Tweeting “F@€£ you C@$¥” isn’t bringing about change… and it certainly isn’t a demonstration of the literary arts they claim to hold so dear. It seems closer to Tall Poppy Syndrome to be frank.

As this vitriol was directed at a writer it got me to thinking about up and coming writers and the workshops I have attended. Yes, the opening questions are inspired by some of the comments on #AskELJames  (not the amusing ones, not the genuine question ones, but the abusive/threatening /name calling ones) but this whole situation got me thinking about the times I have witnessed talented writers in workshops get shredded by fellow students. And that same pack mentality seems to hold true. Once one person says something bad a whole group jump in and start in too. A bit like the end scene of Perfume by Patrick Suskind where people cope a whiff and join in on a frenzy. Generally I will try to add many enthusiastic compliments to counter. But I wonder how many talented individuals have dropped the pen just because some people at a writing workshop didn’t get them. They’ve walked away because someone who doesn’t like the genre or sub genre passed negative judgement. Or someone who didn’t know what to say but wanted to sound smart trotted out every stereotypical thing they could think of regardless of if it applied. Those people don’t have a huge fan base and a giant pile of money to help keep their chin up. I hope they find their way back to writing… because I want to read their stories.

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