Tag Archives: maria lewis

Let Me Proposition You… With a Self-Publishing Festival

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SELF-PUBLISHING AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! It is time to be seen. #SelfPubIsHere

I think self-publishing needs greater recognition from Australian Festivals and Awards. I think self-publishing deserves its very own day at one of the larger Australian writer festivals, or even it’s very own self-publishing festival. We have kids days and YA days at major festivals (check out the one at Sydney Writers’ Festival, it is AMAZING), why not a self-publishing day? It is absolutely booming at the moment with more and more people not only buying self-published books, but wanting to become self-published authors.

Publisher Weekly has reported that self-published ebooks represent 31% of ebooks on Amazon and this trend is increasing. Not only do they account for around a third of ebooks, they are also dominating sales. Self-published authors are surpassing traditionally published authors on Amazon in crime, speculative fiction and romance. They also have a big share of the market in all other genres. The big five traditional publishers only account for around 16% of ebooks on the Amazon bestseller list, all the rest are self or indi. And let’s face it, ebooks are big business now and are here to stay.

Many readers have no idea if the books they are reading are self-published or not. As publishing houses laid off inhouse editors and designers in favour of a freelance system, self-published authors were able to snap them up. As such, the self-publishing route is becoming increasingly popular and destigmatised not only amongst up and coming writers, but also those already traditionally published and seeking to take greater control of their work.

Despite this increase in popularity and quality many Australian literary festivals and awards have either ignored the self-publishing market or given it a one off panel. Often in Australia the panel discussion is merely about if self publishing is ruining the industry or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The interest in self-publishing however is growing and has moved far beyond festival goers wanting to hear a simple discussion on if self-publishing is good or evil. They want in. Publishing your own book can be hard work and getting it into people’s hands can be even harder. This is a process that the increasing number of readers wanting to turn into writers are curious about. And honestly, readers also want the opportunity to see these self-published authors in person to get their books signed.

A self-publishing festival or day would be unique from other festivals in that self-published authors have to have a hand in all areas of their book development. They need to be able to source or become their own publicist, designer, formatter, bookseller, etc. Literary festivals often focus on authors and publishing houses, a self-publishing event would highlight self-published authors along with editors, cover illustrators, designers, and publicists. It would bring the often hidden side of publishing to the forefront. The part that happens behind closed doors that writers and readers are increasingly curious about. The parts they are willing to pay to find out more about. And I don’t mean in just one genre, I mean across all of self-publishing rather than a genre specific festival. Romance has traditionally been quite accepting of self-publishing and has on many instances lead the way but it’s time for other organisations to step up.

Below I will outline some of the awesome feature a self-pub fest would provide readers and writers hungry for something new.

Unique Guests:

Writers-

Self-published writers are essentially split into three groups, those that started self-published and get picked up by a traditional publisher, traditionally published authors who have turned to self-publishing (some vow never to return to the trad-pub model, others happily flit back and forth enjoying the hybrid life), and those that have started as self-published and never looked back. Each of these groups bring unique insights and appeal to the curiosity of readers and fellow writers. We would hope to attract presenters from each of the group, with examples of the types of authors listed below.

Self-published authors picked up by traditional publishers include authors such as Matthew Reilly, CS Pacat, Bruce McCabe, and Mitchell Hogan. People want to know how these guys made the conversion. It’s the dream for many starting out. Self publish, get picked up, and then have a movie trilogy made, I’m looking at you E. L. James.

Authors who started out as traditionally published and have then experimented with self-publishing include people such KERI ARTHUR (I’m putting this in capitals and bold because I somehow missed Keri’s name and am editing it in!), Lisa Heidke, John Birmingham, Ellie Marney, Maria Lewis, Ciara Ballantyne, Kim Kelly, and Alison Croggon. Everyone wants to know why they broke ranks. What is so fantastic about self-publishing that it attracted them? How did they do it? Is it more profitable? What are the benefits? Hybrid or abandonment?

Australia has an incredible array of self-published authors that have started that way and remained true to the form. Melissa Pouliot had a cold case reopened because of her debut book. Heidi Farelly was picked up as a regular guest on A Current Affair to speak on finances on the strength of the popularity of her self-published ‘How to…’ books. Lisa Fleetwood became an Amazon bestseller with her debut travel memoir. I myself have been picked up by bookstores for my memoir about postnatal depression and my book is even being used by some postnatal depression support networks. Lola Lowe was listed as a “Must Read” by Cosmopolitan Magazine for her debut novel. A.B. Patterson, a former detective Sergeant, has won three awards for his debut crime fiction novel, and been short listed for two others. Dionne Lister is a speculative fiction author who is an outspoken advocate of self-publishing and has been short listed for three awards. Elizabeth Cummings has been invited all around the world to talk about her picture books, in particular The Disappearing Sister – an important book that deals with speaking to and helping siblings of children with anorexia. There are many more self-publishing success stories amongst the Australian public eager to share their story and people want to know how they did it and how they can replicate it.

Of course along with writers it’s time to make the previously invisible members of book creation visible, the people that people interested in self-publishing want to find and hire but are largely ignored by Australian festivals:

Book Artists and Designers

Formatters

PR People

Editors

Representatives from printers such as Ingram Sparks and Publicious.

Representatives from self-publishing consultancy services such as Critical Mass Consulting, Bookends Publishing, and The Author Whisperer.

Logistics:

We need a location or a festival to give us a venue for a day.

We need an organiser / convener that people respect.

We need a publicist, although, many self-published authors are their own publicist and do a damn fine job.

Volunteers, we need people pointing and smiling. Trust me, it helps a lot.

We need all the food.

We need a dynamic bookseller who loves us.

We need those guests that represent the full gamut of the self-publishing experience.

And, without question, we need all the wine and cheese.

And don’t just take my word for it, read Pauline Findlay’s thoughts here. She strongly advocates for more self-publishing recognition.

So, what do you think? Are you with me? Do we need this? Are we going to create the pressure to make this happen? (I did send a proposal to a friendly writers’ centre but 10 months later I still haven’t even heard crickets in response) Some big name literary festivals overseas are already making the space, can we make it happen here? I vote yes! Chat about making space for self-publishing on social media with Pauline Findlay and I using #SelfPubIsHere

Ellie Marney also thinks a #SelfPubIsHere Festival would be great, read about it here.

Find out what Lisa Fleetwood has to say about this here.

Find out what Rebecca Chaney thinks here.

Also, cough-cough, find my book at Booktopia or anywhere.

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Screen Time ABC, Season 1, Episode 3: #ABCScreenTime

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Episode three is here. Get ready for discussions on Thor: Ragnarok and the revival of Curb Your Enthusiasm. But first Chris Taylor has to introduce his panel. Sophie Black and Sami Shah are back. They’re possibly never allowed to leave, they’ve been in all three episodes. Judith Lucy is making her second appearance. And Marc Fennell is making his first appearance. He giggles when Chris introduces him, we all fall in love instantly.

Chris says that before they get to Thor and Curb they have a more pressing issue to discuss. The Bachelorette final. He quips that millionaire winner of Sophie Monk’s heart, Stu, is the first person with money to be near Ten in months. It’s funny because it’s true. We get to see Jarrod looking sad because he was rejected and Stu making a bogan declaration of love. STRAYA!

Now onto the real stuff, not that I’m suggesting The Bachelorette isn’t 100% real. Chris introduces Thor: Ragnarok with a joke about red haired people, Ragnarok / Rangarok. NO! He says it’s the most enjoyable superhero film he has seen in years. I mean, it’s good and all… but has he seen Wonder Woman? I know DC and Marvel are different universes but he said superhero movie not MARVEL superhero movie so it’s fair game.

Marc agrees that it’s a good flick. Says some of the past Marvel films have been a bit samsies but this was fresher. He credits Taika Waititi with this direction.

Lucy did not like it. I repeat, did not like.

Sophie felt that it was pretty, pretty good, but that Waititi was lumped with the lamest superhero. Oh come on, there are way worse superheroes than Thor. Have you heard of Wonder Man? A faint green glow can be seen as Sami starts to Hulk up next to her. He tells her that he respects her right to have a wrong opinion, after all people didn’t appreciate Citizen Kane when it first came out. He says that Thor: Ragnarok is the Casablanca of our era. Again, has nobody here seen Wonder Woman?

Lucy, yet again interjects that she did not like it. Sophie says that Korg, the character Waititi played, needs his own film. Lucy agrees that he was the best part of the film. Everyone agrees that they loved him and he was the best.

Lucy then drops a bombshell. She suggests that comics are not for women. *Throws my comic book collection at the TV* Kidding, I’d never do that, it’d take too long and I might damage my precious.
Sami says that most of the people at the screening he was at were women and that comics are becoming less gendered. Lucy asks what the appeal of comics is for Sami, was he just a nerdy kid? My relationship with Lucy is moving from total hero worship to it’s complicated. Sami says, pretty much. He was a kid who was sick of getting pantsed and if he was the Hulk they wouldn’t be able to do it. He just wanted to be someone who kept their pants on, damn it! I know Hulk’s get torn and stuff but the idea is still beautiful.

Marc says that Marvel is unambitious about social commentary. Oh. My. God. Somebody drop Maria Lewis in here to sort this out.

 

There is so much about acceptance and struggle in Marvel comics. Marvel gave us the first black character who didn’t have black in their title, Storm. That’s pretty huge. Okay, he has mentioned that X-Men 2 actually did have depth, just feels some of the others are lacking buy mentions there is light and shade in the universe. I retract the SHUT YOUR MOUTH dispatch. Soz.

Meme of Maria Lewis courtesy of Alan Baxter

Chris asks why does Marvel have so many films coming out right now and why are they focused on overlaps instead of stand-alone hero movies? Sophie suggests that they have so many out because they do well because they are a global brand. Lots of Hollywood’s audience is now from outside of America and so they need stuff that isn’t quite so self-focused.

Everybody knows who Batman and Superman is. Sami also points out that it’s that way in the comics, duh. I yell at the TV screen, EVERYBODY LOVES CROSSOVERS YOU FOOLS!

At the end of the day, Thor: Ragnarok has Karl Urban in it, so I suggest everybody watches it.

Now it’s time for Take 5. They’ve moved it to the middle of the show and I like that. It fits better here. They’re doing 5 most regrettable Marvel superhero moments.
5. The Incredible Hulk 1988

4. Dr. Strange 1978

3. Spiderman 1978

2. The Fantastic Four 1994

1. Captain America 1979

Let’s be honest, those are not the most regrettable moments. They’re some funny older TV shows, there are far worse Marvel superhero moments on the screen. They are, however, hilarious.

Now it’s time for Curb Your Enthusiasm. Lucy says she used to love it, she bought the DVDs, but now she couldn’t care if Larry David lived or died. I get the impression that her enthusiasm has been curbed. Sophie says that it still has its moments but is a little dated and falls flat at times. Okay, maybe don’t curb your enthusiasm quite so much. Somebody show some enthusiasm.

Sami is bringing the enthusiasm. He is yet to be curbed. He says it is as funny and offensive as ever. Phew, I thought this was going to be a brutal slaughter.

Chris suggests that Larry David is rude but he is always right. People shouldn’t have too many samples, people shouldn’t have to say ‘sorry for your loss,’ after two years. Marc disagrees. Although sample abuse is deeply upsetting to his very soul, he does not always side with Larry.

Chris says that Curb Your Enthusiasm’s style was unique with its quirky music and shaky camera work. In fact the music has inspired a whole heap of YouTube clips where people put the music over the end of scenes. They put it over the end of a Star Wars clip. The bit where Darth reveals he is Luke’s father. It’s pretty, pretty good. But I really love this clip of Donald Trump’s voice being used for Darth Vader. I cry with laughter every time I watch it so I’m just going to use this as an excuse to leave it here, you’re welcome.


I’m not sure if my passion for Curb Your Enthusiasm has been reignited but my love of YouTube certainly has.

Now for the panelist recommendations of what we should be watching this week:
Marc recommends – The Good Place


Sophie recommends – Chewing Gum


Sami Recommends – Active Shooter


Judith recommends – Edge of the Bush


And what the deuce. Chris is recommending something. He never recommends anything. What is happening? He recommends Spartacus. They’re showing the clip of everyone standing up and saying ‘I’m Spartacus.’ So moving… Ohhhhhhh, they’re playing the Curb Your Enthusiasm music over it. Amusing. I’m amused.

And so that’s the end… Did they say what we’re watching next week? I must have missed it, too busy talking to my wine about my extensive knowledge of comic books and what I would have put in as the worst moments of superhero TV. I guess I’ll just make it up what was chosen. Damn me and my lack of paying attentioness! Errr… For the movie, Suburbicon. They went blockbuster this week, artsy the week before, why not a weird one next week? I think it might be too early for Murder on the Orient Express. Think the release date is the week after. But I could be mixed up. I’ll probably be watching My Little Pony because I promised my daughter, pray for me. As for the TV show, Ghosted. I have no reason why I have predicted it. None. Maybe because it’s Halloween today? Who knows? If they’re in reboot fever why not Will & Grace. I, love, that, show!

And they’re playing us out with a clip from The Bachelorette, it’s Jarrod’s rejection. Curb Your Enthusiasm music is being played over it and it is the best version yet. This is BRILLIANT! Champagne comedy. What a brilliant end.

For last week’s recap look here

Catch up on past episodes on iView here

Read why I think Stan Lee deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature here

Find out what Kerri Sackville says is the most realistic part of The Bachelorette here

Tweet with Sami Shah here

Tweet with Sophie Black here

Tweet with Marc Fennell here

Tweet with me here

Get tickets to the live recording here (they give you lollies, I repeat, they give you lollies)

Panic about NaNoWriMo everywhere.

New South Wales Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival 2017

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Content warning: I’m dyslexic, deal with it.

Every second year New South Wales Writers’ Centre hosts a Speculative Fiction Festival to much whooping and wooting from Spec Fic fans. This was its third run and it has sold out every single time.
For those wondering what Spec Fic is our glorious convenor, Cat Sparks, described is as ‘the literature of what the fuck.’ Which sums it up pretty nicely. In a nutshell Spec Fic is an umbrella term that covers Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi. Wikipedia says-

Speculative fiction is an umbrella genreencompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements.[1] This includes the genres science fiction, fantasy,horror and supernatural fiction, as well as their combinations.[2] The broader usage of the term is attributed to Robert Heinlein, who referenced it in 1947 in an editorial essay, although there are prior mentions of speculative fiction or its variant “speculative literature”.

As you can see it covers quite a bit. All that we fear about the future of technology, politics, and human nature, is crystallised and taken to its extreme in Speculative Fiction.

But you don’t care about dry definitions, you want to know who said what. So I’ll give a quick summary of the panels I saw.

The first panel was New Gods and Monsters. The chair was Robert Hood, and the panelists were MARIA LEWISAlan BaxterJames Bradley and….. dramatic pause….. suspense building….. so much suspense…….. Margo Lanagan. In the warm up Robert Hood says that the origins of superheroes lies in mythology. Maria Lewis adds that the split nature of heroes with one identity by day and another by night lies with the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Margo Lanagan mentions Saints as having super powers and everybody giggles. James Bradley mentions that Sherlock Holmes is a great precursor to superheroes with his almost super human intelligence. And the modern day superhero is essentially Houdini in a circus costume….. Pretty sure he means more like the contortionist than a clown.

James Bradley then takes the excitement down a notch and mentions that comics have a lot to do with the economics of the time. That they are a business and want to make money. Maria Lewis tries to lighten the mood and says it’s also about need. The world is pretty scary right now and we need heroes to step up. 

Robert Hood mentions that in the 80s Stan Lee made the heroes much more relatable to people by being diverse and having real human flaws. James Bradley agrees that MARVEL became more fun and people loved it. Maria Lewis mentions how not only the content was diverse but the writing approach became so. Comic book authors writing movies, authors writing comics. People were becoming format fluid writers. James Bradley says that the diversification is good but to be wary because it is economically motivated. Major corporations own these comics and they’re doing it because it sells and they can get more money from it. So be happy because diversity and representation matters… but hold off on praising these corporations too much because they’re doing it for money not the goodness of their own hearts. 
Onto Urban Fantasy Noir chaired by Marlee Jane Ward with Alan Baxter, Angela Slatter and Maria Lewis. Alan Baxter says he likes Urban Fantasy because he loves genre mashing. He loves mongrel dogs and mongrel genres. He takes themes from big fat epics and puts them into the real world. Maria Lewis says it just makes sense to combine ancient beings with modern days settings because everybody knows a Xerxes. Sure, who hasn’t felt so angry that they’ve ordered the water to be whipped for disobedience?

Angela Slatter says that Urban Fantasy is about tears. Fractures in your life being echoed by tears in the veil between reality and beyond. It is about that point where everything is ripped so it lends itself to crime and the supernatural as the logical two extensions.

Alan Baxter drops that Urban Fantasy is dead. Maria Lewis says not only is Urban Fantasy dead, whatever supernatural creature you are writing about is the wrong one. If you’re writing about werewolves you’ll be told by publishers that it’s Vampire Season. If you’re writing about fairies it’ll be Troll Season. And if you’re writing about mermen, you’ll need to self publish. Maria Lewis will be self publishing From the Deep in September. 

Next I saw Myth, Legend and Fairy Tale chaired by Thoraiya Dyer with Cathy CraigieRebecca-Anne Do Rozario, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix. Cathy Craigie opens by talking about oral story traditions and how they’re organic and moving like their own growing being. They can change depending on the storyteller and the place. Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario says that with the European folk tales they veer from oral to written to oral and back again. Snaking back and fourth as they develop.

Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario says she loves research and does research for its own sake. Margo Lanagan says she can get lost in research. Cathy Craigie says research allows her to expand on stories…. Garth Nix says he doesn’t so much actively research as passively. He just naturally reads widely to be inspired and learns ew things. He rarely comes up with an idea and has to go research it. He doesn’t go looking for stuff, stuff comes and finds him.

Thoraiya Dyer asks the panelists if when recasting old tales should authors stick to the now accepted happy endings if they want commercial success. Margo Lanagan says if they wanted commercial success they shouldn’t become writers so just give it the ending it needs. 
And then we had lunch. I got a couple of books signed.

Weird Fiction chaired by Kaaron Warren with Julie KohJane Rawson, and Rose Michael is what I attended next. Full disclosure, I spent much of this session watching Julie Koh’s hand movements. They were hypnotic. At one stage she ran her fingers over the arm of her white leather chair so softly and so serenely that I could almost feel it raise tingling goosebumps up my neck and into my hair line.

Julie Koh opened up the dialogue by stating that she always felt that she was normal but people kept saying that she was not. And being placed in Weird Fiction has simply reinforced this message. She considered herself literary. Rose Michael says that she too believed that she was a straight literary writer and only found out that she was not when her first rejection indicated that the publisher wasn’t taking on literary fiction with speculative elements. Now she has embraced the weird and uses speculative elements to resolve impasses in her literary manuscripts. It has given her another bag of tricks to use.

Jane Rawson just wanted to write stuff people loved and people seemed to love literary. But she can’t help but write Weird Fiction because life is weird. Julie Koh casually mentions that people in her family have the third eye and can see ghosts and gods. No big D. So it’s not really weird it’s just stuff some people can’t see. Mebe the literary people are the weird ones because they can only see part of the world?

Rose Michael says – Reality is a conspiracy theory that we’ve all signed up for.

Jane Rawson says that there is a definite market for Weird Fiction in Australia but there might not be so many publishers that will commission it. Julie Koh admits she’s weirded out by how narrow the definition is of what Australians read because they really read much wider.

As for advice on craft, Kaaron Warren recommends a little nap in the afternoon to awaken the ideas. Jane Rawson says fall out of bed in the morning and start writing while your brain is still floating between awake and asleep. I knew napping was important.

Also, Jane Rawson and Julie Koh are part of a collective known as Kanganoulipo that are shaking up Australian literature. I’m quietly confident that they meet in an underground lair and have a secret handshake. So keep your eyes open for their work.

For the Kaffeeklatsches I saw Margo Lanagan. 

She is also a fan of writing in the morning, but that’s because she likes to write before her inner critic wakes up and judges her. 

Deadlines don’t work for her. They don’t motivate her to work better and quicker. It comes when it comes.

She doesn’t write and edit beginning to end, more so in chunks.

Margo Lanagan recommends that you get your words to the point that even if they’re read in a monotone they still have power.
The final session of the day was The Road to Publication chaired by Rose Michael with Alison GreenLex HirstJoel Naoum, Garth Nix and Angela Slatter. The main takeaways for me were that Garth Nix believes that hybrid authors are the way of the future. Alison Green says the writing is a craft but publishing is a business. Lex Hirst says that she loves Dystopian Fiction because they are the perfect balance of escapism and instruction manual. Angela Slatter urges everyone to write to the publishers guidelines and not write a cover letter explaining why you haven’t. Penguin is currently running a Literary Prize that has a $20k advance for the winner. Competition closes October 20.
And that was the formal part over. It was followed by wine and chatting. I shall now leave you with some quotes from the day that I have imgflipped onto pictures. Enjoy.

Read up about being a dyslexic writer here.