Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 23 Author Blog Challenge

If you could meet one of your main characters or ideal reader anywhere in the world for coffee, drinks, dinner, or a caramel (tipping my hat to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting), who would it be, where would you meet them, and why?

This is the first day of the challenge when I’m responding off-topic to some degree. I’m not short of imagination, not usually, but I can’t quite get my head around what or whom to choose, a character or a reader. And if a reader, then who this might be?

It could be I’m a bit weary. Challenges can be like that, when trying to write to the prompt in a timely fashion. Sometimes I find it works to break the task into sections.

A character or an ideal reader?

Or perhaps just a reader, or a reader who likes to write reviews?

The kind of reader who reads the Kindle preview of your book and based on that small sampling writes a scathing review of the whole of the work and posts this on Goodreads and other sites because they can’t post on Amazon when they haven’t actually purchased the item. The kind of reader who has yet to write a book or short story or perhaps write anything at all beyond attacking those who have put the long hours, days, weeks, months and years to learn the craft and write their way up the ladder to publication.

Yes, this is the reader I’d like to meet, but not for drinks or dinner or even a coffee, for these are things I do with those who understand what it is I do and the effort involved, and this includes people who give honest, but sometimes less than complimentary reviews.

I’d like to meet this person and introduce myself and gift them with a signed copy of the book they’ve never read yet denigrated so publicly and give them a bag of sweets to eat during the reading, to sweeten the experience and to counteract some of the burden of bitterness they obviously carry.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 22 Author Blog Challenge

If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them? Yes – really!


For this post I’ll reference my novel, Seth, published in 2013.

If I could ask anyone to write a blurb for this book and attach their name to this it would be Tim Winton, Australian writer of novels, nonfiction, short stories and books for children that include:

An Open Swimmer (1982)
Shallows (1984)
That Eye, The Sky (1986)
In the Winter Dark (1988)
Cloudstreet (1991)
The Riders (1994)
Blueback (1998)
Dirt Music (2001)
Breath (2008)
Lockie Leonard (1990-1997)
Eyrie (2013)

His awards and nominations include:
1981 Australian Vogel National Literary Award An Open Swimmer
1984 Miles Franklin Award, Shallows
1985 Western Australian Council Literary Award, Scission
1990 Western Australian Premier's Book Award for Children's Fiction, Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo
1991 Miles Franklin Award, Cloudstreet
1991 NBC Banjo Award for Fiction, Cloudstreet
1991 West Australian Fiction Award, Cloudstreet
1992 Deo Gloria Award, Cloudstreet
1993 American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults Award, Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo
1993 Wilderness Society Environment Award, Lockie Leonard, Scumbuster
1995 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Riders
1995 Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best Book), The Riders
1998 Bolinda Audio Book Awards, Blueback
1998 Family Award for Children's Literature, Lockie Leonard, Legend
1998 Wilderness Society Environment Award, Blueback
1999 WAYRBA Hoffman Award for Young Readers, Blueback
2001 Western Australian Premier's Book Award Premier's Prize, Dirt Music
2001 Good Reading Award, 2001, Dirt Music
2002 Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award, Dirt Music
2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), Dirt Music
2002 Miles Franklin Award, Dirt Music
2002 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, Dirt Music
2002 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Fiction, 2002 – shortlist, Dirt Music
2003 Australian Society of Authors Medal
2004 Colin Roderick Award, 2004 – joint winner, The Turning
2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Best Fiction Book, The Turning
2005 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, The Turning
2005 Inaugural Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award – shortlisted, The Turning
2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best Book – commended, The Turning
2008 Age Book of the Year, Fiction – winner, Breath
2009 Miles Franklin Award, Breath

These are the reasons why I’d ask him to write the blurb from a commercial and marketing point of view and, from a personal perspective because I admire Tim Winton as a writer, drawing inspiration from landscape and place the people who inhabit those places, and because I respect him as the individual I perceive him to be through his involvement in the Australian environmental movement. He’s a patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society and involved in many of their campaigns in raising awareness about sustainable seafood consumption. He’s a patron of the Stop the Toad Foundation and a prominent advocate of the Save Moreton Bay organisation, the Environment Defender’s Office, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the Marine Conservation Society.

How would I go about reaching him? That’s a tough one. I could try to contact him through his agent or by posting a comment on his Facebook page, although this one appears to have been set up by Penguin books to publicise his work and activities. I could just turn up at one of his events and wait for an opportunity, but probably not as I’d be too shy to push myself forward. If all else failed I could send him a letter addressed to Tim Winton, Western Australia. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 21 Author Blog Challenge

Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? Describe their psychographics. How do you connect with them to market to them?


I wrote The Scent of my Mother’s Kiss to raise awareness of post adoption issues and child welfare practice of the mid-20th century, and to counterbalance the academic and professional sanitised versions of welfare and adoption practice from a participant point of view to ensure an accurate record of events remains, as a reference for future social planners, reformers and legislators as they re-invent the wheel.

Similar books in print at the time of publication were, A child called it by Dave Pelzer, Orion Books, and others in this series, and Kathy’s Story – inside the hell of Ireland’s notorious Magdalen Sister’s laundries by Kathy O’Beirne, Harper Collins. Related Australian publications would be The Long Way Home - story of a homes kid by Kate Shayler, Random House, and In Moral Danger by Barbara Biggs, Sly Ink Productions, A Child Called It has sold in excess of 1.6 million copies, worldwide, In Moral Danger has sold 150,000 copies in Australia and, while I do not have the figures for Kathy’s Story, I’m aware that the high demand for this publication resulted in it being sold out very quickly in most retail outlets.

The Scent of my Mother’s Kiss (first published as The Little Mongrel - free to a good home) focuses on the transformation of the main character throughout her different residential and institutional placements, and the strategies she employs to survive in an increasingly hostile world. It is not a story of a victim, nor is it presented in victim mode, it is a factual recounting of events that provide insight into the, until recently, hidden aspects of the history of children’s welfare in Australia.

This book has broad general readership appeal and is of particular interest to social historians, and is an ideal text for any person involved with the care and welfare of children and young people, social work practitioners, policy makers, program developers, researchers and teachers. These interest groups broaden the potential markets for this book to include educational booksellers, university bookstores, and welfare agency retail outlets. In this respect I wrote to politicians past and present, heads of departments and policy makers, social work departments and welfare agencies, sending a synopsis of the book as well as marketing via internet booksellers and interest group websites. 

I also connect with readers by speaking to groups, courses for writers and a range of services, including ‘Write to Heal’ workshops, introducing life writing as a tool for self-expression leading to healing, and ‘Urban Writing – Write About the Place’, where the focus is on streets, suburbs or towns, and the place of the individual within these, with encouragement to look beyond the square to take pride in their environment and achievements as an inspiration for others. I also speak with groups about the unique issues affecting children and young people in out-of-home care, aimed at increasing understanding from those employed in this area in both a professional and voluntary capacity.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 20 Author Blog Post

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing, formatting, recording, editing, and distribution? How did you select them?


I published my first book as a soft cover print copy and released it in eBook form a couple of years later. The first edition was published by Fixwrite and printed by Bookpal, in the start-up days of the company, when they were eager enough for business to offer affordable priced.  Almost ten years later the company has grown exponentially, as have their prices and the services they offer, and I wouldn’t consider using them again for this reason.

As an editor I self-edited and also formatted the book as I do with all my own work and as a service I provide for other writers.

I made the decision to make it available electronically to enable broader and affordable access to the information contained in the contents, particularly the history of 20th century welfare in Australia and institutions for children and young people of that period.

These days I use Createspace to publish my books and sell them through Amazon and Kindle. I find this is the best and most effective way for me. I like the creative freedom Createspace offers in book and cover design and the printing costs per unit are reasonable.

I settled on Amazon after experimenting with Lulu and Smashwords, finding it more user friendly for my needs.

Day 19 Author Blog Post

Because I'm a day behind with the challenge, today's post comes direct from Grammarly celebrating World Teacher's Day, because for most of us, that's where the reading first began.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 18 Author Blog Challenge

If there were one song that captured the meaning, spirit, message, energy, and or substance of your book, what would it be? How can you use that song or piece of music to market your book or enhance your readers’ experience with your book?

This writing prompt doesn’t take a lot of thinking about, which is probably just as well in the middle of school holidays with two small visitors spending a few days with us. In 2008 I was invited to take part in a writer's event, reading from my book, The Little Mongrel – free to a good home. A local duo, The Songbirds, were part of the presentation and they asked me to nominate a song that best defined the story, which they’d use to introduce my appearance. I thought about this and kept coming back to a song that had been significant to me during my time in an institution. It was an austere place, where music from the radio was played through speakers in the ceiling at the discretion of staff. A place stripped of all comfort, including seats, and I spent my days sitting on the floor, back against the wall, willing my childhood to pass quickly so I could begin the process of living. It was against this backdrop I first heard Frankie Valli and The Four Season singing, Big girls Don't Cry.

This had to be my choice for the day. It fitted as no other would and the girls were happy to run with it, adding pink feather boas for us all to wear for the occasion.

The Songbirds



Today, 1.30pm 

Sharman's Winery 

175 Glenwood Rd, 



Relax the body and soul at an afternoon of literature, wine and music at Sharman's Winery. Buy a glass of Sharman's award-winning wine to sip as you listen to local authors Dr Frank Madill, Loretta McCarthy and Merlene Fawdry read from their latest books. The music will be provided by Songbirds and Chantelle Hemelaar.

This song captured the essence of the book where there was an underlying message of not showing feelings as a tool of survival. In a way it became something of an anthem to me, a rousing reminder to stay tough to the very end.

I wouldn't be able to use this song to market the book without first gaining copyright approval, a long and slow process that could also prove expensive in terms of royalties etc.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 17 Author Blog Challenge

What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?

My answer to today’s prompt is brief.

With my proclivity for procrastination, the biggest surprise for me in writing any book is in actually finishing each project, the moment it’s in formatted book form, really finished, the moment I’m not grabbing it back for just one more edit, one more inclusion, the moment I know I can tick it off the list and get on with the next project.

The most memorable aspect is opening the carton and releasing the heady aroma of printed copies, like holding a well-earned diploma after years of study and dancing to the applause in my head.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 16 Author Blog Challenge

DAY 16 PROMPT: What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

In my experience, the most challenging part of writing a book is in staying with the project when life matters intervene. Once I have an idea, the writing is easy, but it's even easier to become distracted by new ideas and opportunities, by the hyperactive muse that whispers and tempts away from the page of intention.

As far as the physicalities of book production, I like to think I learnt my lessons early. Having set myself up for retirement to offer home publishing for other writers with small run publications, I thought I had it all worked out, paying top dollar (and why not, I was still in paid employment at that time) for the equipment I needed. The intention had been to produce chapbooks and spiral bound publications in a range of sizes to enable aspiring writers and poets to get their work into print. Easy, or so I thought.

The first publications rolled out; an anthology for a writing group, a poetry collection or two, a couple of short story collections, even a substantial family history. My publisher copies still sit neatly on my bookshelf, but they have a naïve appearance next to their perfect bound companions. Still, they reflect that part of the journey and have earnt their place. Fortunately, poetry chapbooks still have a certain appeal and may be seen as almost a rite of passage for a poet to have produced at least one chapbook in their poetry lifetime, so this part of the home publishing business prevails. Spiral binding is best left for business reports or education papers, as if does not showcase literary work to its best advantage, leaving it with the amateurish appearance of trying too hard too soon. These days, my very expensive binding machine sits idle most of the time, cranking up only to bind assembled reports or assignments for students.

With my first book, I developed a marketing and distribution plan that took almost as many hours as the writing of the book itself. While I can be the strongest advocate for other people, self-promotion doesn’t come easily to me but writing about myself in the third person helped, almost as if I was an observer looking on. TheLittle Mongrel – free to a good home (now republished as The Scent of my Mother’s Kiss) was one of the first books written about the people who became known as the Forgotten Australians, so my mailing list was lengthy and included politicians of every persuasion, heads of government departments and welfare agencies, university libraries and so on. My biggest regret was that I didn’t take up an offer from the then Premier of Tasmania, David Bartlett to launch the book, however, as my departure from the state coincided with the release of the book, I didn’t follow up on this.

I’m not sure there’s anything I wish I’d known when starting out, because I think personal experience is the best teacher and the knowledge gained in this way is likely to last longer. It’s also a living learning, in keeping with the rapid change in technology and the publishing industry in general, where every day brings change.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 15 Author Blog Challenge

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

A good book cover begins with its title. If a synopsis is the summation of your book, then the title should be the precis of this summation. I aim for a title that will get the attention of the reader and be easy to remember, one that conveys your message and fits the design. I prefer to use a sub title in nonfiction books, a descriptive line that compliments title. I wouldn’t use a subtitle in a novel.

For cover design and layout I like to place the title where it has the greatest visual impact using a strong, good sized font and colour that compliments the graphics. I like to use a background image that integrates with the title and easy to memorise.

The design for the back cover for many of my books varies according to each publication and the type of book. It's pretty much instinctive and I'll play around with it until it says what I want to convey. When designing covers for other writers I use the top half of the back cover to place a precis of the synopsis as a preview of the contents, with endorsements and reviews from pre-readers or previous editions placed below the synopsis to help add to the credibility to the book. 

Beneath this I usually place a brief author bio, which can change from publication to publication, depending on the content of the book, keeping this to around three sentences. In The Scent of my Mother's Kiss, I omitted this entirely in favour of adding a brief opinion piece. If the book is nonfiction I sometimes mention my credentials or my authority to write on that subject, keeping it more personality based for a work of fiction. I reversed this arrangement for The Hidden Risks (see below) although I'm not sure why I did this. 

I place the book title on the spine so it can be easily read sideways. If the book has a short title I will include my author name. If the book has a sub title I don’t include this due to space and readability restrictions.

With my nonfiction books I use my own images and design and I’m mostly pleased with the result. My husband, Michael Pugh, is an artist and I have used his paintings on the froint covers of The Hidden Risks and Villains and Valour, something I'd do again if the opportunity arose as I admire his art and like the unique touch this gives to the work.

With Seth, I had the front cover designed by 111 Pixel Productions using one of their stock images against a background image of my own. I designed the back cover and wasn’t happy with the result – after printing unfortunately. The information was sparse and the font too large. I intend to edit this when I find the time.