#Denyer4Gold

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In a striking move the ABC have teamed up with the currently channeless Grant Denyer to make Logies history. During Logie nominated Tom Gleeson’s incredibly popular segment, I’d say ratings bonanza, Hard Chat, on Charlie Pickering’s likewise much loved, but not Logie nominated, The Weekly Gleeson decided that it was time that the Logies reached their logical conclusion with an axed TV presenter winning gold. Grant Denyer had been the host of Channel 10s Family Feud until they dropped the axe on it.

Now of course Twitter went berko with tens of people jumping on board with the hashtag. It was trending within lots of minutes. Twitter (yes, we’re one conglomerous glob) loves an underdog. Here’s just some of the responses:

Tom has already been doing the breakfast circuit in order to secure his dreams of watching Grant Denyer get gold.

Grant… well… having slightly more trouble getting onto morning shows…

(The order that I have placed this event happening may be deceptive.)

But breakfast radio has been kinder with the 2DayFM Breakfast team creating Denyer a campaign video.

If you check out the alternate hashtag #grant4gold you’ll see a few intriguing results from 2DayFM.

So what are we waiting for?!? I’ve voted for Hard Quiz and #Denyer4Gold and you can too here. Get on it, peeps. #DENYER4GOLD!!!!!!!

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The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins

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Another super short Goodreads review:

The Everlasting Sunday is set in a boys home in England in 1962. The cold of the setting mimicks the isolation of the boys situation and their own minds. It is not always a comfortable read as there is tension and trauma but there is also joy and tenderness.

If you like a strong authorial voice then you will thoroughly enjoy Robert Lukins’ work, if you are after something more generic then this book may not appeal to you as much. His opening sentence is simple enough – There are things more miraculous than love. But from the second sentence the unmistakable stamp of Lukins can be felt – Given the right motivation common water, for instance, turn itself to solid ice. Powerful and distinct.

Buy The Everlasting Sunday here or anywhere.

Read Robert Lukins’ Robinpedia entry here.

Stone Girl by Eleni Hale

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I posted this brief review on Goodreads but forgot to pop it here, so here it is:

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so instead I’ll quote only the very opening because I feel like it gives you a very good idea what this novel is all about. It’s gritty, it’s raw and it is most definitely beautiful.

“It’s 1989. I’m twelve years old. There’s blood on my clothes and face, and vomit splatter on my shoes. It’s cold in here. I’m at the police station, in a small room with walls the colour 9f winter sky.”

Grab a copy here or anywhere really.

Alternatives to Suicide Talk in Glebe

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Three months ago I attended an Alternatives to Suicide talk hosted by Being in Glebe Town Hall. I felt with the news of the passing of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Inés Zorreguieta and even Charles Williams that it was probably an appropriate time to share what I heard. And as the title suggests, yes this blog entry will indeed be discussing suicide and suicidal thoughts. The speakers, Caroline Mazel-Carlton and Sera Davidow, were from the Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community. It was really interesting to hear this revolutionary approach to dealing with suicide. What’s so revolutionary about the Alternatives to Suicide approach? First and foremost, you’re actually allowed to discuss suicide.

Being allowed to talk about suicide may seem like a given in order to be able to deal with it but unfortunately it’s not. Suicide is so taboo that generally the moment you open your mouth to say the word you get shutdown. If you’re talking about past thoughts you get told to shut up because you just talking about your issues will cause someone else to commit suicide. If you’re saying you feel suicidal people are leaping at you telling you it’s not normal, it’s not healthy, and you need to be monitored and have your rights curtailed for daring to vocalise just how tough you’re doing it. So being in an environment where silencing wasn’t the encouraged response was refreshing. I honestly felt like I could breathe easier just by being there. Being given permission to discuss and explore your life without fear of being silenced or shamed in itself was healing. But of course there was more to the talk than that.

After telling their own stories, where Caroline spoke about being treated as both dangerous and fragile like a time bomb made of glass, the issue of risk management was raised. It was pointed out how as soon as a person said they wanted to commit suicide the tone of the conversation immediately switched and the questions do you have a plan and do you have means were automatically asked. People aren’t asked why they’re asked how. And this is because of risk management. Which is odd because the most effective risk management tool is around 20-50% accurate, that’s right, as accurate as flipping a coin. Furthermore it was revealed that a clinician was more likely to be struck by lightning than to be sued over a patient suicide. So being driven by risk management and fear of litigation isn’t even realistic or particularly effective so we may as well just ask why instead of responding in fear about means in an attempt to control another person’s actions.

It was discussed how traditionally suicide is treated as the problem that needs to be fixed when in reality it’s a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed. It was said that suicide is essentially a bad solution to a very real problem not the major problem driving a person. Why a person wants to commit suicide is key to helping them as is why they haven’t already. If we’re so busy restricting the movements of a person in order to control their ability to commit suicide then we miss out on dealing with the real problem that is causing this cry for a real solution to real pain. Ask why do you want to die and ask what do you want to do before you die.

Next the topic of pathology was raised. They spoke about how it is often portrayed that depression causes suicidal thoughts when in reality it is a symptom. They then unpicked where the concept of people having a mental illness are chemically imbalanced came from. Quick note before I go further Sera expressed that they are not anti-medication and that if medication helps you then you should definitely take it, they were more anti medication is the only and best answer. So please don’t misconstrue the next part to mean throw out your meds. Don’t throw out your meds! It was said that the studies into medication didn’t actually test levels of people within normal and severe ranges to determine if they are in fact different and that people are lacking in certain substances. They more ask how a person feels after taking medication and do they feel better. They get positive results in the short term and then gradually decreasing results in the long term. The comparison was made to coffee. These studies were compared to if we were asked if we felt better after a coffee, many of us would say yes, but does that mean we have a caffeine deficiency?

The talk really focused on the factors that contribute to suicide, such as a high ACE score. Having experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences tends to increase this risk. Being denied your own community and language increases this risk. Being silenced and ostracised increases this risk. And so the Alternatives to Suicide approach is to focus on these areas. How can we provide support for people, how can we provide community, how can we listen. It’s all about letting people have an open and honest dialogue without having to jump through prescriptive language hoops on what you are allowed to say and how you can say it. Do you know how demoralising it is to constantly have to say your life is a trigger warning? Alternatives to Suicide lets you speak without fear of repercussions and they let you explore why and also why not.

The key elements of Alternatives to Suicide are:

Validation

Curiosity (instead of fear)

Vulnerability / Transparency

Community

The people at Being did record the talk and I would love to share it with you, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t find where they have put up a link to it. Perhaps they filmed it for their own personal training or the link just isn’t quite as easy to find as I’d like. However, I did find a two part talk that Mercy Care has generously put on YouTube using two speakers from the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community Alternatives to Suicide program I hope it helps.

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community http://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide and http://www.westernmassrlc.org/hearing-voices

Mercy Care https://www.mercycare.com.au/ats
Blue Knot Foundation https://www.blueknot.org.au
Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Head Space https://headspace.org.au
Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au
National LGBTI Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au
The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers

Some postnatal depression specific sites are:
Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

You can read about what Australian journalist Jennie Hill has to say about the culture of silence around suicide here.

Ruby Hamad and White Women Tears Over White Women Tears

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On Tuesday the 8th of May Ruby Hamad published an opinion piece in The Guardian entitled How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour, it was met with huge interest overseas but almost silence here in Australia. Although it was labeled as an Opinion Piece it is actually quite detailed with references and could certainly be classified as an article, but I’m not going to examine editorial decisions that I know nothing about, I’d like to talk about the silence.

I saw the article posted on the 8th, I follow Ruby Hamad on Twitter and it was right there on her feed. Even if I didn’t, it would have been hard to miss as the discussion picked up momentum, particularly in the US, and began to fill my timeline by the 17th. Ruby Hamad used this Twitter thread by Djed Press as a catalyst to discuss white women’s need to centre themselves in conversations for and about women of colour.

Ruby Hamad’s piece landed and then the whispered conversations began, ‘have you read it?’ Awkward conversations around if it was being said white women could never cry. White women were being quietly confronted and many of us didn’t quite know what to do about it. There was some #notallwhitewomen going on.

I kind of expected this response because as a white woman it is a confronting read. Being called out on bad behaviour is confronting. And then having to think about is it true, and have I done this, is confronting. It’s confronting not because anything Ruby Hamad wrote was terrible or viscous but because it is always confronting to examine yourself. I mean, at least it is for me. I’ve got awful self-esteem so self examination is generally telling myself how badly I suck, it might actually be pleasant for other people who constantly tell themselves how right and awesome they are. I imagine for those kinds of people this article would have been doubly confronting.

However, what I didn’t expect was the continued silence. I was expecting maybe 5 days to go past and then another established journalist or writer to join the discussion and really continue the conversation. It’s the kind of conversation that requires deft hands to cover it because there are complicating factors that have us white women clutching their pearls over this and it’d be great to see someone tackle these issues and still stand up and agree that this is a problem that we need to take responsibility for and check our behaviour on. I’m not saying white women are the only ones who do this, but I am saying we do have a problem with it.

Now I am not an experienced journalist nor an award winning writer, in fact I am the total arse end of Australian writing. I am a self-published, dyslexic author with ADHD and depression born into zero media or publishing connections. Heck, I lucked out on the connection front in any sense. I am not the deft hands needed for this conversation so I have stayed silent and waited to let the ‘adults’ do the talking… but they didn’t. The ‘adults’ didn’t join the conversation. They publicly ignored it. It’s possible that every single one of them somehow missed both it and the international coverage and that’s why they haven’t commented… But regardless of the reason there has been a lot of silence, so now this hack is commenting and hoping somebody will jump on in and do a better job. “Did you see that clumsy shit Robin wrote? I can do better than that!”

One of the major issues I heard whispered about was, isn’t that what MRA say about women? Aren’t we fighting them and saying that they’re wrong to say that? And it’s true MRA do say something similar. They do say women use their tears as weapons. They say that women overreact to being abused and use tears to garner sympathy for their abuse. Let’s be clear, if you hit, slap, push, scream at or threaten a woman, their tears are a valid response and not a dirty trick. However, that’s noy what Ruby Hamad’s article was about. It was about wronging someone and then when you’re called out for your bad behaviour resorting to tears and finger pointing to shift blame. You know, like a man who beats his wife and then crie that it was her fault because she nagged him. The tears being questioned are those used to silence people who have checked you on bad behaviour. It’s the tears used to claim a person calling you out is abusive, and that the person you wronged is actually worse than you for daring to point out your poor behaviour and they should have done it in some other way and there for you don’t have to list. Hamad’s a trick was not saying that if a white woman gets punched in the face she can’t cry, but that to wrong someone and then use those tears as a shield is manifestly uncool.

And quite frankly, we know there are women who do this. To deny this is to be dishonest. Honestly, I told a woman she was being pretty rude that exact same week and she began bad mouthing me at length telling people that I subjected her to inexcusable abuse and made some not so subtle references to my mental health. I basically just had to eat shit, because I’m open about my mental health I’m easily targeted by these type of people. ‘Oh that Robin, she probably did do the wrong thing, she’s crazy, poor you for being called in for being underhanded.’ Guess who else is easy fodder for these types of people? Anyone perceived as lower on the food chain, anyone they can easily assign blame to because they’re viewed as less capable. Disabled women cop this frequently too. ‘Oh they can’t really do things for themselves, we’ll just railroad them.’ ‘Oh you’re so good for helping those poor unfortunates out, how dare they want a say in how they’re treated and to have dignity, you’re so good, they’re so horrible.

So is it really any wonder that this happens to WOC too? A group of people who have been portrayed in everything ranging from literature, to movies, to the media, as aggressive and volatile. Heck Ruby Hamad’s article got treated as aggressive and shameful by some, and I won’t share links because I don’t want to give threatening statements oxygen. She didn’t write “all white women are always c-bombs and all WOC are always right” but people behaved as if she did. In fact she wrote:
“We talk about toxic masculinity,” Ajayi warns, “but there is (also) toxicity in wielding femininity in this way.” Brown and black women know we are, as musician Miss Blanks writes, “imperfect victims”. That doesn’t mean we are always in the right but it does mean we know that against a white woman’s accusations, our perspectives will almost always go unheard either way.

So far Claire Lehmann seems to be the only somewhat prominent, Australian, white woman really to have made a splash discussing it. She didn’t agree with the article but at least she acknowledged it and addressed it. It wasn’t this culture of silence. She didn’t go for a “ignore it and it’ll go away” type thing. I’m hoping more prominent, white women stand up and address the crying elephant in the room. Because, it happens and we really need to address it.

Cryptopart founder and journalist Asher Wolf has called attention to the fact that all this and more is happening in white feminism, and I’m hoping that her voice is big enough and respected enough that some more meaningful discussions starts happening here, like they have overseas. We need to stop falling for these narcissistic games of shifting blame onto the victim through theatrics. Not just in the writing or the media, but in every aspect of life. The best at crying isn’t always right. People saying something horrifically racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/ablist should be able to be called out for their behaviour (I’m not talking about pile-ons) regardless of how poised they are when saying they’re repugnant opinions. Crying because someone checked your bad behaviour and trying to turn others against them for daring to question you is uncool, and people falling for this shit is ridiculous. “Oh yes, she is so awful for calling out your racist and homophobic behaviour, we should totally band against her and exclude her from all the things because she’s truly a bad apple.” Sometimes people cry, it does not make the other person a villain. I’m so fucking tired of it, I can’t even imagine how exhausted WOC must be in this society.

Anyway, find Ruby Hamad’s article (linked in first paragraph also) here.

Find Ruby Hamad’s website here.

Find Ruby Hamad on Twitter here.

Find Ruby Hamad on Facebook here.

Ellie Marney Has Assembled #SelfPubIsHere

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On May 11th Pauline Findlay and I launched #SelfPubIsHere along with a merry band of self-published authors which included #LoveOzYA superstar Ellie Marnie. My debut post urged self-publishing Avengers to assemble for a self-publishing festival in Australia. The movement went gangbusters and got covered in Books+Publishing and Australian Self-Publisher. Last night Ellie wrote her own post doubling down on needing our own festival. And to be honest, it had too many good quotes for me to write them all here because I’d simply be rewriting the whole article, so I urge you all to read it. It is all about making that previously hidden aspect of publishing such as rights management, formatting, cover design, editing, etc visible in a way traditional festivals simply cannot. Find the article here and enjoy! So what do you think? Are you ready to assemble for a #SelfPubIsHere festival?

P.S. You can find Ellie Marney’s books here.

Writing Teachers I Love #SelfPubIsHere

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Last week for #SelfPubIsHere I spoke about editors that I love, people who make your manuscript glow. But what about before you have a manuscript? Are there people who can help you before you have finished, or before you have even started? The answer is quite simply yes, writing teachers exist. And fortunately we live in a time where there are more and more teachers available to learn from. I’m going to share with you some writing teachers that I love and where to find ones that you’ll love too. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s quality teaching. Not only did I teach for over a decade, including being Acting head of English, Drama coordinator, placed on secondment briefly to the body now absorbed by NESA amongst many other things, BUT I also studied directly with the creators of Quality Teaching and Productive Pedagogy. So trust me, I know teaching, and I say these people are awesome.

Toni Jordan is a truly incredible teacher. The three scenes that are consistently held up as excellent by critique partners of my WIP were all written during Toni Jordan’s Character and Dialogue course held at NSW Writers’ Centre. She is Melbourne based and has lectured at RMIT, presented extensively at The Wheeler Centre, tutors at Writers Victoria, and indeed lots of other places too. You can even get personalised mentoring from Toni through Australian Writers Mentoring Program. She has really strong opinions on structure and dialogue tags and is not afraid to state exactly what they are, which is very useful in a teacher. And although her opinions are strong she is never brutal; think of Toni as the epitome of firm but fair. Find Toni Jordan’s website here. Find her books here. Find Toni’s Robinpedia entry here.

I was lucky enough to do Pamela Freeman’s two day speculative fiction course a few years back. Since then, she has taken me under her wing and allowed me to ask her all sorts of inane questions. She is the kind of teacher who continues on thinking about her students long after the classroom door has closed and the lights have been shut off. She is very much the mother duck of the Australian writing teaching world, but with a truly wicked sense of humour. She has a PhD in writing, she knows her stuff, and she’s quite forward in telling people what she thinks. And you’re in luck, because Pamela is currently supercharging her Advanced Fiction Writing Course at AWC. She is a regular teacher at AWC who also have a mentoring program, teaches occasionally at NSW Writers’ Centre, pops into a couple of Sydney universities, and all around the place really. Find Pamela Freeman’s website here. Pamela gets bonus points for following along on the #SelfPubIsHere twitter storm. Find her books here, and her books as Pamela Hart here.

Kate Forsyth made me tear up my prologue, literally. She didn’t even read it, she just asked me a few questions, didn’t like the sound of my answers so told me to rip it up. Shocking, I know, but… she was absolutely right. Kate is able to get to the core of your writing very quickly and gives crisp advice that will improve your manuscript immeasurably. I don’t go anywhere without her plot arc worksheet. She is a regular teacher at AWC, also teaches at NSW Writers’ Centre, a few universities, and pretty much everywhere else including overseas. Find Kate Forsyth’s website here. Find Kate’s books here. (And I know she’d also love it if you could check out her cooking and books show, Word of Mouth TV.)

A woman that needs no introduction, Anita Heiss. She’s pretty much an icon in Australia. When I was volunteering at one of her panel events at the Sydney Writers’ Festival we had to form a separate line for her signings. She is a really practical teacher who urges writers to listen to their readership. She’s all about knowing what you write. Very thorough in her approach and her preparation is phenomenal. I was lucky enough to do a workshop with her at NSW Writers Centre but she teaches at a lot of other places too. Keep your eyes wide open to see her courses pop up and book quickly. Anita Heiss’s website can be found here. Find Anita’s books here.

Emily Maguire is a very quiet and serene teacher. She is never without an encouraging word for people and always listens to students thoroughly before responding. Emily also provides so many worksheets for you to take home so that you can continue to look back and relearn for years to come. She teaches the hugely popular Year of the Novel course at NSW Writers’ Centre and so you get to learn from Emily all year long. Find Emily Maguire’s website here. Find Emily’s books here.

One of the most exciting speakers I have ever seen is L.A. Larkin. She is very animated, very witty, and above all else, very clever. L.A Larkin mainly teaches in the UK but lucky for us the AWC recently snapped her up to teach crime writing so she’s not just swanning around British universities anymore, we can learn from her in Sydney. You can also find her speaking at a variety of other places, check L.A. Larkin’s website for details here. Find her books here or even here. Find L.A. Larkin’s Robinpedia entry here.

Jan Cornall is the first writing teacher that I ever had (aside from school) and she blew me away. She is a very calm person and has a soothing effect on the soul. Jan utilises short bursts of meditation in her teaching and, despite the fact that I am truly crap at meditating, it really works. She teaches at WEA, NSW Writers’ Centre, pretty much everywhere and runs her own draftbusters course in the Inner West that I cannot recommend highly enough. Find Jan Cornall’s website here. Find Jan’s books here.

I have long testified that Walter “the inconceivably incandescent” Mason is like viagra for the creative soul. This man simply oozes love and passion. To sit by him is to sit in the presence of inspiration. But he doesn’t just sit about being all inspirational, he also gives concrete tasks to do. He really is a spectacular speaker and I urge you to go see him whenever you can. He regularly teaches at WEA, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, NSW Writers’ Centre, Ashfield Library, and pretty much everywhere you can think of. Find Walter Mason’s website here. Find Walter’s books here. Find Walter Mason’s Robinpedia entry here.

Alison Croggon would come close to being the queen of Australian literature. She’s a poet, a spec fic writer, an opera critic, and so much more. You want to know how to write an arts submission? She’ll teach you. You want to know how to write a proper poetry review? She’ll teach you. You want to know how to write a fantasy novel? She’ll teach you. And, like Toni, you can have Alison all to yourself through the Australian Writers Mentoring Program. Find Alison Croggon’s website here. Find Alison’s books here. Bonus, she’s a huge #SelfPubIsHere advocate.

I did a Garth Nix course through ASA waaaaayyyy back in 2014. I rarely see his name crop up on workshops so was eager to attend, I think it pretty much booked out on its first day of advertisement. First up, the food they provide for the ASA courses is fantastic, seriously, if you haven’t done a course there yet… well… do it! Secondly, I was really impressed with how Garth took a different tac than many other teachers. He was explicit on who to pitch to, he was explicit on filling up your creative bank. It was a very informative workshop. He said nice things about my WIP, and as I am a complete saddest I have subsequently changed it from being set in Germany to Australia, from first person to third person from present tense to past tense. Whyyyyy??? Imagine what I would have done with negative feedback or if he’d actually suggested any changes? Burned my laptop and thrown it from the Harbour Bridge? Find Garth Nix’s website here. Find Garth’s books here.

Cass Moriarty is from up above… in Queensland. She is a tireless supporter of writers and somehow manages to write novels, write reviews of ALL the books, teach and be a doting grandmother. I am in awe of this woman and have no idea how she does it all. Her motto is ‘I can adapt’ and she brings that to your manuscript. You can find her floating about up at Queensland Writers Centre where she does workshops and mentoring. Find Cass Moriarty’s website here. Find Cass’s books here. Find Cass Moriarty’s Robinpedia entry here.

Thriller, chiller, and teacher Tania Chandler has been writing and editing for years. Recently, we’ve been lucky enough to see her helm her own workshops. She brings a wealth of experience with her, and is a very dedicated teacher. If you get a chance to get to SPAN Community House Inc. book in for a course with Tania. Find Tania Chandler’s website here. Find her books here. Find Tania Chandler’s Robinpedia entry here.

Aleesah Darlison is here by very special request, my 6 year old daughter’s request to be precise. I have not had the pleasure of learning from Aleesah but my daughter has. Aleesah visited her school last year and my daughter assures me that Aleesah is the best teacher ever, and very qualified. My daughter tells me that Aleesah has written over 100,000 books, and writes 1000 a week, so I’m fairly confident she’ll teach you a lot about time management, and possibly how to create time vortexes. We actually owned quite a few of Aleesah’s books before she went to may daughter’s school so my daughter’s claims are way less exaggerated than you think. Aleesah is a powerhouse. My daughter rarely steers me wrong so in order to keep tabs on the clearly enchanting Aleesah Darlison find her website here. Find Aleesah’s books here. Find Aleesah’s Robinpedia entry here.

And no list could be complete without #SelfPubIsHere rockstar Ellie Marney who teaches both YA and self-publishing workshops.

You can find her slinking around Writers Victoria and plenty of other places too. Just keep those peepers peeled. Find Ellie Marney’s website here. Find Ellie’s books here.

This is a list of general writing teachers that I highly recommend, I will do a blog entry on self-publishing specific courses later on. Now of course there are other fab writing teachers out there and I can’t possibly go learn from every single one of them, so I’d like to hear about who you love. Especially those fab teachers such as Natasha Lester who I hear so much about from WA friends. Which writing teacher really boils your potato?

Find friendly writers organisations here. Just click on “8. What other organisations in Australia support writers?” These places have been created to help you grow. They can and will help you. They have an array of courses and resources.

See #SelfPubIsHere featured in Books+Publishing here.

Also in Australian Self-Publisher here.

Read about my #SelfPubIsHere Festival dream here.

Read the article that kicked #SelfPubIsHere off here.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.
Also, cough-cough, find my book at Booktopia or anywhere.

P.S. HAPPY TOWEL DAY!