Tag Archives: garth nix

Joel Naoum: #Robinpedia 

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Who is Joel Naoum? A man, yes. A human being, yes. A carbon based lifeform, yes. But is there more to him than being a mamal and living on Earth? The answer will surprise you, for it is yes.

Naoum began his life as child to Australian writer Dianne Blacklock (can’t find her on Wikipedia so rest assured she will be getting her very own Robinpedia entry). Sitting by her side he absorbed a love of books but as a social butterfly he could not see fit to cocoon his radiance in the solitary world of authorship. One year his mother took him to the Sydney Writers’ Festival  (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help) and he found that despite being introduced to cool authors such Andy Griffiths and Garth Nix he was himself more attracted to the lurking representatives from the publishing houses. A fire was ignited within the belly of the young Naoum and he set his heart upon joining the publishing industry. 

Pan MacMillan gave Naoum his first job in the publishing sphere. He both horrified and delighted his interviewer by telling her about his love of the new technology ebooks (he’s older than he looks, it was new back then). She loved his innovative approach, she did not so much love that he somehow had an illegal electronic copy of one of Pan MacMillan’s titles. He did not know it was illegal prior to this point and does not recommend it as an interview strategy.  Fortunately he still got the job.

Not only did Naoum get the job but he thrived. He was awarded the Unwin Fellowship and was able to travel to the UK and learn all about the innovative things UK publishers were doing in epublishing. He spent three months in the UK learning the secret business of a variety of publishing houses.

After his fellowship ended and Naoum returned to Australia he was selected to head up Pan MacMillan’s digital first imprint, Momentum. Their original goal was to still be able to publish mid list authors that there was no longer shelf space for after the collapse of Boarders. Because they love authors and stuff. The focus of Momentum changed as they came to realise that the ebooks that sold well were more genre based such as romance, crime and spec fic, not so much literary Australiana. Just quietly, e also love their self help and parenting books. In order to make money the imprint had to switch from its original purpose. Over a 5 year period Momentum put out 450 titles.

Naoum, still committed to the digital world has now setup his own company, Critical Mass. This is mainly a self-publishing consultancy firm that helps self published authors get in touch with editors, designers, and gives marketing advice. He will also help people looking to traditional publish polish their pitches. He is there for you.

In addition to this Critical Mass, Naoum has designed a course for The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, where he is a board member, that actually publishes student’s work. It is open to people with completed and edited manuscripts. Naoum then takes students through cover design, formating, connecting with a distributor, and finally, actually hitting publish and getting a print copy into their hands.

Jump onto Joel’s website here.
Chat with him on twitter here.

Find out more about Robinpedia here.

Read about The New South Wales Writers’ Centre Stick here.

Buy my shit here.

Brace Yourself; Book Recommendations Are Coming

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The Holiday season is upon us and every mother flipper is in need of gifts, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and so many more http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml . Heck, there are even some birthdays. It’s a gift heavy month in the Western world.  So here are the books I’d recommend… apart from my own, buy it for yourself,  consider it your gift to me.

Let’s get started!

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The Princess Betony books by Pamela Freeman. They are gorgeous. They’re small so the perfect size for little hands with beautifully designed covers. These books take the princess stereotype and subverts it. A great balance for any child that has been over exposed to less progressive princess merchandise.

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Hansel and Rose by Caroline Magerl. The art in this picture book is simply incredible. It’s a book about belonging, loss and hope. So many important lessons and feelings simplified. A great book for your young early-primary aged friend.

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The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke. Tennis, sibling rivalry, professional ambition, and some romance. What’s not to like. I did offer to design the book cover for her, she didn’t go for it for many reasons  (the book isn’t about Tom Selleck, I’m not a designer… she doesn’t know me. So many reasons) but I still think it’s a great read.

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Tiddas by Anita Heiss. Say you read parts of my serial because you wanted to read about a book club but thought my characters were “unbelievably slutty” and “Neanderthals” then this book probably has the depth you’re seeking. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not an uptight jerk who slut shames characters you’re going to love this book because it is sensational. It explores so many complexities in friendship and personal choice.

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The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. Combines masterful story telling, the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and WWII. If that’s not enough to get your interest then you’re dead to me and I don’t want to know.

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The Little Book of Anxiety by Kerri Sackville. Fuck The Little Book of Calm, this book is the book you want. I don’t care if you swallowed The Little Book of Calm, you need to get this book which shares tales from the author’s own anxious life. If you’re an anxious lady, Kerri gets you.

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Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Full of magic and mystery this is a captivating read for all Fantasy addicts. Juliet Marillier always produces exceptional novels so you can’t go wrong buying anything of hers.

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Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. Kickass sci fi by a kickass writer. Get this one and read it. I don’t want to sound like a total horn dog but there are some exciting characters in there. Somebody pass me my salts.

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And as for anthologies, you cannot go past Cranky Ladies of History. It is just spectacular and the name says it all. I cannot recommend this one enough. Get it, get it, get it!!!!! Seriously, look at that cover. The whole thing is gold.

Possibly the best idea of all is to buy all of these for yourself and forget the world for a bit. You deserve it. Happy reading.

Please note that these aren’t all new releases, some are old, some are new… some are borrowed and some are blue.

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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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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Aurealis Awards 2014 nailed the Australian Women Writers Challenge – #AWW2015 @aurealisawards

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aww-badge-2015Aurealis Awards prove that anything men can do, women can do just as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Aurealis Awards I suggest you check them out, they’re the premiere awards for the Australian Speculative Fiction crowd. A chance for Spec Fic writers to get recognized, connect, maintain a professional discourse, and to sink a few bevies. Or French Champagne for the more successful authors.

It was a fantastic event, organized by two women, Nicole Murphy and Tehani Wessley, and MCed by the talented, multi-award winning, Margo Lanagan. Those unfamiliar with her works, might I suggest Tender Morsels as a starting place. Her writing is spectacular, you will not be disappointed. Cat Sparks, demonstrated her multi-dimensional talents by, presenting, photographing, and if you check out twitter, also doing a spot of glamour modelling. On top of that, Kate Forsyth (if you haven’t heard of her… have you been living under a rock?) presented the Fantasy awards. I am pretty sure I was not the only one who had to pop on shades when she walked onto the stage to dim her radiance. She is truly amazing. And the cherry on top was Angela Slatter. Angela Slatter essentially won the Aurealis. Well, she won pretty much every category she was in. She even beat out internationally acclaimed, juggernaut, Garth Nix.

The Australian Women Writers Challenge was up for the Covenors’ Award for Excellence this year and although it didn’t win, I think it actually kind of did. The Australian Women Writers Challenge is about showcasing the enormous depth of talent that is demonstrated by Australian women who are writers. These Aurealis Awards certainly nailed that brief. So bravo Aurealis Awards, bravo Australian Women Writers Challenge and bravo all Australian women writers. If nothing else, you all get a vag badge from me.

So let’s have a ‘Clam Bake’ and celebrate these wonderful women of the Aurealis Awards and go check out their wares. Names listed below for your convenience.

Angela Slatter

Margo Lanagan

Kate Forsyth

Juliet Marillier

Kim Wilkins

Cat Sparks

Lian Tanner

Amanda Bridgeman

Amie Kaufman

Carole Wilkinson

Charlotte Nash

Deborah Biancotti

Deborah Kalin

Faith Mudge

Glenda Larke

Goldie Alexander

Jaclyn Moriarty

Judith Rossell

Karen Foxlee

Kathleen Jennings

Keri Arthur

Kirstyn McDermott

Lisa L Hannett

Liz Argall

LynC

Lynnette Lounsbury

Marianne de Pierres

Meagan Spooner

Nina D’Aleo

Nova Weetman

Rebecca Lim

Rosaleen Love

Thoraiya Dyer

Tehani Wessely

Nicole Murphy

Up and coming Australian women writers at the Aurealis Awards: @LisaFleetwood , @helen_petrovic , @RobinRiedstra (me!)

Up and coming Australian women writers at the Aurealis Awards: @LisaFleetwood , @helen_petrovic , @RobinRiedstra (me!)

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

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Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

I had the great pleasure of attending the Speculative Fiction Festival, organized by the amazing Kate Forsyth, and held at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, this last weekend. In short, it was amazing. And I should possibly leave it there, nay I should definitely leave it there, but I won’t. As “they” all say, “A great story is not written, it is rewritten.” “You must learn to love editing.” Or my favourite, and “Nobody writes a perfect first draft… well if there is somebody who does, she’s a bitch and I hate her.” So I have determined to rewrite the festival in order to make it more interesting, in order to make it speak to a generation, in order to give it vim and vigour.
Hmmmmm, where to begin.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

A sea of nervous writers sat in a large room. The appearance was light and airy but the atmosphere was anything but. It was an excited yet nervous air full of buzzing writers with their heads open. (Not immediate enough. Make your writing immediate!!!!) This is the worst kind of excited nervous air as it is “writer nervous excited air”. The most kind of verbose, over adjectified kind of air in the world. This can only be topped by “writer in a flap” air. Ian Irvine strode into the room, he was the first of the guest speakers to enter. He could have entered casually and taken a seat and prepared himself for the day but some silly fan girl at the front of the room squeeeeed, “Oh my God, that’s Ian Irvine, its Ian Irvine. I love him.” (Okay, it was me) This caused a room full of beady writer eyes to focus on the man, the man with the plan, the man with the 61 page plan (as it turns out, he’d just finished a novel which he had a 61 page plan for). He smiled graciously, said hello, and took a seat. (My exact role in this situation may have been a tad exaggerated; the fan girl squeee may have been a tad under exaggerated)
You know what, that’s not exactly, the most powerful of opening is it? Kate Forsyth said that we should start our stories with a BANG! Hmmmmmm, when was there a bang, where was the bang. I must move the bang to the start. I’ve got it!

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

SPLASH! Ben Chandler’s glass tipped over. An almighty flood of water gushed out of the glass like some sort of hot water spring exploding after years of pent up sexual frustration. (Yeah, I put in sex, that’ll get the punters in!) It trickled towards the electrical equipment in front of Ben’s shaking fingers. At any moment the stage was set to EXPLODE!!!! People rushed about. What would happen? We were all doomed, doomed, doomed I tell you! But a hero stepped forward. A member of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre admin came forth with paper towel and a cool attitude and sopped the water up with her very calmness… and her paper towel. The day was saved and we all lived happily ever after.

Okay, that was RUBBISH! I seriously doubt a spilt cup of water was what Kate Forsyth had in mind when she said start with a bang. I feel so stupid, why did I even bother. I have failed her, I failed myself, and I have failed you. Sigh. Well, hopefully this was not all for naught. How about I write out a list of some of the festival highlights for me and hopefully you can glean some insight and put it together in an order that works for you?

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Highlights Package
Ian Irvine:
• Sara Douglas was the first Australian Speculative Fiction Author to hit it “big”. She paved the way for all us future Australian speculative fiction writers, by making publishers believe that yes, fantasy was awesome, and yes Australians could be awesome at it too. Respect.
• It will cost you at least $5000 to get a good quality editor for your work. If you want to self-publish you need to invest that yourself in order to have a comparable product with publishing houses.
• 2 million books are published per year now because of ePublishing.
• Self-promotion is the way of the future, make friends with talented people (or give birth to them) who can help you.
• As for how to plan, if it works, it is good, if it doesn’t, it is not.
• “If the characters are having a good time, then the reader is not.”

Juliet Marillier
• She has the most amazingly expressive hands I have ever seen. So tiny yet beautiful.
• UK publishers actually want to have the publishing rights for not just the UK but for Australia and NZ too.
• Australians actually buy more books than most other Countries. We are actually a big market when it comes to novels.
• Publishers are less inclined to do publicity and promotion these days so you need to really develop that yourself.
• Some agents are strictly business and contract advisors, others have a more creative approach, you must choose based on your own individual needs. Research research research.
• Love of storytelling and stories begins before you can read; it begins in the laps of your parents as they read to you.

Sophie Masson
• Fairy tales are a complex world of dichotomous forces
• Writing is like having a magic wand. You can do anything you want.

Kate Forsyth
• Fairy tales are important. They give us hope. They give us a way to cope with our own lives. They let us know that in the end, everything will be alright.
• Writing fairy tales is challenging because everybody thinks they already know the story, usually that just means they know, Disney, Grimm, Anderson or Perrot.

Garth Nix
• Just write. Don’t worry about genre or sub genres; let the publishers worry about that.
• “I write outlines… mostly for the pleasure of departing from them later on.”
• “Read more things.”
• “Children’s natural state is an imaginative one”

Pamela Freeman
• “There may be someone out there who can write the perfect first draft… But I hate them whoever they are.”
• Low fantasy is “where there’s thieves and bandits and people have sex a lot.”

Melina Marchetta
• Strip the thought, “It’s a bit indulgent,” from your vocabulary when talking about doing what you need for writing. If you need to travel to somewhere to get in the zone, that is a business trip, NOT an indulgence.

Belinda Murrel
Spoke of how she wrote for her children, so they had something stimulating but not dealing with themes they were not emotinally equiped to deal with maturity wise.

John Flanagan
• Write what you would like to read.
• He is the funniest speaker I have ever heard, he was utterly brilliant but I was so enchanted by him that I failed to take adequate notes

Dionne Lister
This I think was possibly the best comment of the day for me, “Why should I publisher put the time and effort into your work if you haven’t?”

There were many more inspiring speakers. If you want to read what twits had to say about it check #nswwc xxoo love you all