21 Oct 2014
“Being a full time lawyer I needed a creative outlet, and in 2010, began writing business books for other professional service providers.
However there was still something missing. My wife said she married me because I made her laugh with the crazy stories I told her when we first met and that I should write a book.
Many years later we began to raise 1, then 2, then 3 and finally 4, precious girls and I started to share stories of my childhood with them.
It soon became one of our family’s favourite pastimes listening to these stories about my childhood. Often embellished and seldom kept on track, the girls would be absorbed. What was fact became blurred in the magic of the stories told.
A strong undertone in the stories are various life lessons, while also ensuring a healthy dose of humour and role playing.
When my third daughter, Lily, was about four years old, she said ”Daddy, please tell me another story from your mouth”.
From that day on, the stories became known as “Words from Daddy’s mouth”. Over time, the stories became known amongst my daughters as Lily’s stories. It was therefore a natural progression that Lily Burgess would became the pseudonym for the authoring of my children books to help distinguish them from my other publications.
With so many stories, we had to create a list to remember them all (at last count the list was nearing 500). So over time a game developed where the girls would choose a number from the list. Whatever story related to the number chosen would be the story that I would tell.
Stories were usually told as the last part of the wind down of an evening, sitting together in a bedroom or on a lounge chair.
18 Oct 2014
The ancient pilgrimage route winds its way across France and Spain towards the cathedral at Santiago in the north-west of Spain. Author, Noel Braun took the plunge in 2010 at the age of 77 and walked from Le Puy-en-Velay in the east of France to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port at the foot of the Pyrenees.
After 760 kilometres his body had had enough. He went home. But his pilgrimage didn’t end there. Nine months later, he continued his trek over the Pyrenees through Spain to Santiago – another 760 kilometres.
The Day Was Made for Walking describes the physical challenges but also the spiritual journey in the territory of the heart and the soul. It continues the story begun in his earlier book No Way to Behave at a Funeral, an account of my grief journey following the death by suicide of wife Maris. Noel says, “I hope my book will inspire others, not necessarily to undertake the Camino, but to find meaning and hope in their suffering and adversities.”
The writers’ web reviews universally praised this memoir.
“I could not put this book down. There were parts I reread as I went along. The setting moves interchangeably from the present to the past, from Australia to France and Spain. The book is elegantly and emotively written. His use of language is sophisticated and expressive with the occasional harmless expletive for mood effect. Logically, he writes in the first person and this made me feel as though he was telling me, personally, his story. I felt very connected to him.
Noel shares with us at what stage in his personal and spiritual development he was at when he started the journey on the Camino and how he moves closer to the world that he hoped to open up for himself at the end of the book. But, as life is a journey, he says: “I’ll just continue to be a pilgrim on a journey and ‘walk on, and on, ever on.’”
There are many aspects of this book that I liked, I’ll limit it to three:
1. The authentic and openly vulnerable way Noel writes about his feelings, his experiences and ‘shadow’ aspects of his personality – that takes courage
2. The detailed descriptions of the many places he visited. I love that part of the world and, in a sense relived my own experiences there as well as learning about the diversity of people who undertake the Camino.
3. His philosophy to look at our life’s journey, not just from a daily need for survival but to look at our lives from a deeper, spiritual perspective. As he says, “In becoming who I want to be most deeply and truly I should move away from considering myself in individual private terms and reflect on my position in the world around me…”
This book would appeal to anyone over 18 who believes there is more to life than the daily grind, that we have a greater reason for being, a spiritual purpose. This novel would also appeal to those who enjoy learning about the difference between religion and spirituality, about the different customs of France and Spain, and how one person deals with pain. It’s a travelogue and history book woven into a very personal and spiritual journey.
This is a book about hope, faith, and the ultimate success of the human psyche over the most traumatic circumstances. Despite the tragedies, when you reach the end, with a smile on your face, you nod your head and say: “Yes, life is good and I am grateful.””" Gloria Hamilten
“Noel Braun’s novel would serve equally well as a vicarious experience as seen through his eyes or as a guidebook for anyone planning to undertake the same journey. The title of the book is well-chosen as within the first couple of chapters the reader feels as though they are walking in his shoes; and the fact that the shoes are placed on one’s feet every morning on an epic journey across France and Northern Spain is impressive and the reader cannot help but admire the old soldier as he makes his way through foreign lands. His is not the account of a stranger but one who truly gives of himself and in turn takes a little piece of each place he visits with him. His depiction of the places and people he encountered left me feeling that this was truly a special way to see Europe and that I might be inspired to do the same one day (or a small part of it at least!)
The religious aspect of the pilgrimage is obviously important but is not overly stressed by Noel who proves to be democratic in his own beliefs. His completion of this epic journey shows courage and conviction beyond many of us mere mortals, but the overly-laden backpack that he struggles with for the first few days of his journey serves beautifully as a metaphor of religious conviction in the modern age- travel light.” Brent Rogers
“Congratulations Noel! First on such an accomplishment, at any age. Second on putting into words your experiences and emotions during your solo pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. His journey is both physical and spiritual and while dealing with life after the suicide of his wife, Maris he finds himself among friends meeting the challenge for their own reasons. In meeting these many people along the way, he begins to realize how easily barriers of language and culture are pushed aside in place of camaraderie. Life on the pilgrimage is simplified, the focus is travelling lightly, meeting the hurdles one day at a time and finding the necessities of food and shelter.
The journey describes the beauty of the landscapes and the different “gites” and “albergues” he stays in at days end. Some of the characters are just friendly passers by, others he is sad to bid farewell to. But all are part of his journey of self discovery. After a spiritual retreat in France, Noel returns to a simplified life with his family in Australia. I wish you well on your continued journey!” Debi Benstead
“My youngest daughter and her husband cycled The El Camino de Siantago de Compostela two years ago, so I was fascinated to learn of the “Way of the Shell” – the way they had been. I saw it through your eyes, Noel, and really appreciated your book on every level. Thank you.
I enjoy reading your books. You put your heart and soul into every page. This book was particularly well set out, making it easy reading, You carried the reader with you and in lots of ways, your messages on life, as you passed on history and travel tips. On a personal level, you are to be admired for completing such a rigorous journey in your seventy-seventh year. I know from my children’s accounts, “The Way” is no easy trail. All their photos attest to that!
Congratulations on all your achievements. I hope you sell many copies of this book. Looking forward to your next book.” Judith Flitcroft
Author Noel Braun (right) was a teacher and psychologist whom in retirement has found the time to fulfil a long-held ambition to see his works in print. He has published two novels set in Australia, Whistler Street and Friend and Philosopher, and a memoir, No Way To Behave At A Funeral following the suicide of his wife, a long-time depression sufferer. Noel wrote the draft of his first novel, Friend and Philospher, in 1977 and did not take it up again until 1998.
All Noel’s writing is dedicated to the memory of his wife. He says, “While she was alive she supported and encouraged me, and in death her spirit continues to inspire me.”
13 Oct 2014
Now given this is absolutely my weak point AND I know you will see through any attempt at ‘fake it until you make it’… So I am going to draw heavily on the indefatigable, the invincible, the very well read Christopher Booker. He has created a book from reading books, espousing a theory that there are indeed only 7 plots available to the story-teller.
My rudimentary summary of his book was always for my own consumption. To help explain where a plot was muddled, or in the case of helping children to write, why it didn’t work as they had three plots colliding like cars on a dodgem stage and really, we all had whip-lash just attempting to get through the story!
- Overcoming the Monster A terrifying, all-powerful, life-threatening monster whom the hero must confront in a fight to the death. An example of this plot is seen in Beowulf, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Dracula.
- Rags to Riches Someone who has seemed to the world quite commonplace is shown to have been hiding a second, more exceptional self within. Think the ugly duckling, Jane Eyre and Clark Kent.
- The Quest From the moment the hero learns of the priceless goal, he sets out on a hazardous journey to reach it. Examples are seen in The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Voyage and Return The hero or heroine and a few companions travel out of the familiar surroundings into another world completely cut off from the first. While it is at first marvellous, there is a sense of increasing peril. After a dramatic escape, they return to the familiar world where they began. Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine are obvious examples; but Brideshead Revisited and Gone with the Wind also embody this basic plotline.
- Comedy Following a general chaos of misunderstanding, the characters tie themselves and each other into a knot that seems almost unbearable; however, to universal relief, everyone and everything gets sorted out, bringing about the happy ending. Shakespeare’s comedies come to mind, as do Jane Austen’s perfect novels.
- Tragedy A character through some flaw or lack of self-understanding is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster. King Lear, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde—all flagrantly tragic.
- Rebirth There is a mounting sense of threat as a dark force approaches the hero until it emerges completely, holding the hero in its deadly grip. Only after a time, when it seems that the dark force has triumphed, does the reversal take place. The hero is redeemed, usually through the life-giving power of love. Many fairy tales take this shape; also, works like Silas Marner and It’s a Wonderful Life.
As an example, this is the outline of the Rebirth plot.
1. A young hero or heroine falls under the shadow of the dark power (whatever that is).
2. For a while, all may seem to go reasonably well, the threat may even seem to have receded;
3. Eventually, it approaches again in full force, until the hero or heroine is seen imprisoned in the state of living death; (this may be internal or external)
4. This continues for a long time, when it seems that the dark power has completely triumphed;
5. But finally comes the miraculous redemption: either, where the imprisoned figure is a heroine, by the hero; or, where it is the hero, by a Young Woman or a Child.
You will understand my infatuation currently with rebirth, as it is the plot for Felt! A talented young American artist falls under the shadow of her manager. He seems to be managing her career but she can’t shake the sense of unease as some of the things he asks her to do. Eventually, the complicity of his actions comes to the fore, as his actions cause the art world to question her honesty and integrity. She can’t extricate herself from this furore of being accused of copying a great master. Her grandfather dies and she flees New York to bury him and reignites her relationship with her grandmother. It is here in Tasmania she finds peace, a new outlet for her skills and love!
Well, at least, I think it may shape up like this… But it could easily morph. Time will tell.
I have to admit, that taking your story and making it fit these different plots is an incredible way to check the validity of your story and to see if it really is the story you were wanting, heart of hearts, to share!
You can see I can’t recommend his book enough.
Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories’. It was a revelation for me as a writer knowing that really, no-one is completely original, as the story has been told before, but rather, the story has credence as it is told through a unique set of eyes!
10 Oct 2014
“This story will have you sitting on the edge of your chair” says reviewer Gloria Hamilten of fantasy Hunters’ Quest, book two in the Hunters of Reloria Trilogy.
Peaceful Reloria is under siege by scaly Vergai invaders by portal who have captured the Elven Jewel which creates their protective forcefield. These Vergai live across the western sea, and have fled with the elven princess.
Halfling friends, Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are members of a group of brave hunters on a quest to recover the stolen Elven Jewel. They must search for a mage who can make a portal to rescue the princess. They thought they knew what the quest would entail, but with an unexpected member and new enemies, not everything goes the way they had planned.
This unlikely group of men, a dragon, dwarves, halflings, fairies and an elf are known as the Hunters of Reloria.
The writers’ web reviewers were absorbed by the richly constructed world of the Hunters of Reloria. Here’s what they had to say:
“The good characters are appealing and, the evil ones have characteristics that the reader can identify with. There are a few romances for good measure and the complexity of family relationships is also illustrated. The characters are believable and develop as the story progresses.
Scenes are varied – the ocean and being ship-wrecked, underwater mermaid world, river crossings, tackling a desert, Magical Palace, snow, air travel. Equally varied are the weapons – a warhammer, swords, long bows, spiked maces, and an invisible magical wave.
Moments occur when I gasped at the imminent, possible catastrophic tragedy. The end had me holding my breath and anxiously waiting for Part 3.
The language is mature, competent, sophisticated, and easy to read. The author uses wonderfully vivid, descriptive language, even including a little Scottish.
Asher Grey of Flame Mountain is the epitome of a leader. He is enterprising, always polite even when a situation causes anger, and calm under siege. Endurance and a sense of duty no matter what the cost, even if it’s his life are also his qualities. He is flexible and can transform himself into the mighty Asher Dragon to scout enemy areas. As a leader he makes quick decisions to alter a course of action and is always in the thick of fighting even to the point of exhaustion. He also shows a human side for, strong as he is, he can be apprehensive and in need a woman’s encouragement. He also reveals that he has no love for politics.
I appreciated the care the author took to ensure that the reader is clear on who the characters are and their roles in the action. Also his excellent powers of showing what the characters felt throughout the complex storyline ensuring the reader was engaged. He uses delightful images such as the depiction a fairy stamping her foot in frustration.
This was my first fantasy book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t ‘out there’ as I thought it might be. At the beginning, there are maps for orientation and a list of the eight Hunters with their appearance and areas of fighting expertise. The colour drawings are exquisite.
The book has a universal appeal. Good male characters are strong and masculine, yet sensitive when appropriate. The female characters are also strong, yet feminine. Evil characters are well-depicted. I found the book to be a clever metaphor for life irrespective of historical setting. It was easy to identify with the relationships and dramas of the personalities.” Gloria Hamilten
“Kasper Beaumont’s world of Reloria is hugely populated with pirates, dragon-killing knights, dwarves, mermaids, wizards, and of course or intrepid adventurers, the halflings and their designated fairies.
The Hunters of Reloria are a mismatched band of travellers but they love adventure. From shipwreck to steamy forests and on to sacred villages and Desolate Castle.
Young readers will enjoy the fast paced style of this quest adventure as the band of heroes hurl themselves from one scrape to the next. The adventure does not let up, right to the final battle and the cliff hanger. The adventures are continued in ‘Dragon’s Revenge’”. Raelene Purtill
Elven Jewel, the first in the Hunters of Reloria Trilogy is the first experience writing for author, Kasper Beaumont (left) whose three children “provide continual insights and experiences which have inspired me to write.”
The series will appeal to lovers of fantasy from teenage to adult.
Although Kasper has been writing for only a couple of years, the ideas in her work “have been floating around for a long time”.
Of writing her first book, Kasper says, “Honestly, I sat down one day with an idea of a halfling and his bond fairy, then some bad guys invaded their peaceful life and a novel was born. The halflings carried me along on their adventure.”
And when not absorbed in writing, Kasper works, is at uni, and loves her family to bits.
07 Oct 2014
Pauline Saull, writers’ web author of romance novels The Tropical Affair (reviewed here) and Secrets in Paradise shares the rejections and tenacity of being an emerging writer and reassures that it is never to late to start writing….
In 2003, after many years of playing about with stories … writing them in longhand then putting them away to gather dust, I unearthed a couple, read them, realised how appallingly bad they were, and re-wrote one of them sending it to a UK magazine which prints short stories. It came back almost by return of post; ‘too weak’, they said.
Over the next six months that story went back and forth with the rapidity of an over-zealous carrier pigeon, until in the end, the magazine, as kindly as possible, advised me to try elsewhere. Clearly they were fed up with me.
By this time, with enough rejection slips to paper the laundry wall, I also had plenty of useful tit-bits of information regarding characterisation, plot, dialogue, etc. from the very helpful editor, and took care re-writing the story, not as I wanted to see it, but from how I envisaged the reader perceiving it.
And Eureka! It was accepted. After that I wrote many for them and still do occasionally, though I now prefer penning 50,000 word novellas. And I’ve been moderately successful, though have to accept writing will never make me rich. I’ve had four romance stories published in paperback in the U K, the most recent being November last year, and two Erotic Romances accepted by a US e-book publisher (the latest, Secrets in Paradise, will be released in June through Taliesin and Amazon)
One thing I’d like to mention. Since starting writing in earnest my favourite word has become … tenacity … think terrier with rat.
As a writer you have to have it. Rejection should be a spur rather than a means of causing upset, making you more determined than ever to get across what you believe to be a good story.
Unfortunately most editors will not tell you why you’ve been rejected, all you’ll get is a standard slip. Even so, if you can glean anything from the message, use it.
Oh, and finally, I turned 70 this year. Never too late to start.
03 Oct 2014
As you sit and wait for fellow attendees, as they leave their private writing space, it is like watching bears emerging from hibernation – each rubbing their eyes, their ruffled hair belying their exasperation, their skin pasty white from being inside for too long. Okay, so now I am being silly – but you catch my drift.
I was in the fortunate position of creating a writer’s group, from scratch, and one that appealed to my innate need for human contact, not necessarily contact with more words! It has worked wonderfully and I am so proud of the diverse group of writers who attend and the intensely satisfying conversation emerging month in, month out. It was started with a series of author events coinciding with a state based celebration of writers and simply took off from there. In only its third year, we have a history of events, a collection of short stories and a wildly creative progressive story in production right now.
It hinges on some very simple fundamentals.
- Ask not what your writers’ group can do for you, but what you can do for your writers’ group.
Those participants who are ‘getting’ the most out of the group bring ‘gifts’ each month. They share their thoughts, their found information, their skills and their experience. This has meant the group has proven to be very dynamic. In the first year, we talked industry experience – what happens away from your desk. In the second year, we were improving our own skills and this year, members are presenting specific workshops, free of charge, based on their particular skill-set as well as happily organising a writers festival!
- Be prepared to be generous.
You have found out information about a certain competition or a publisher has opened its door to unsolicited submissions. Then share the information! There is no point waiting until the group gives it to you on a platter once a month at the meeting… Our group has a Dropbox account (yep, in the ‘cloud’) and it supports folders on topics like ‘Competitions and Opportunities’. The idea is if anyone trips over a news release or information, they can pop it in there for everyone in our group to see. Additionally, there is a website where members can ask for help / post information or tips and of course, bringing content to meetings is a must.
- It is up to you.
Sometimes, actually, often, it is simply not possible to participate in activities because the rest of life is just too busy. As I mentioned above, in the last three years, we have had a week of events, a collection of short stories and now a progressive story. This is as well as our monthly meetings. If you can participate, do. If you want something particular to happen, suggest it by way of leading the charge!
If you can’t participate, don’t knock yourself out, as hopefully your group will be meeting next month, (and the next, and the next!) Remember though, it will continue only if it has your support, so at the outside, our members at least reply to invitations or communications just to show they are still there!
For me personally, I have been absent all year – yet I delight in the progress of the writers festival, the changing venues, the dialogue – I feel as though I am still part of it all!
- Be flexible
As I said in the introduction, our group is dynamic, not just the participants, but also the current focus. This means making suggestions, actively participating with enthusiasm and being prepared to lead a little. For example, at one meeting, a new member wanted to have her work read and appraised. She offered to barter time with others who wanted the same. This was the first time there was focus on this sort of activity.
- Be there, be present!
If you are watching your clock or wishing you were someone else, you probably should have reconsidered even attending at all! Our members really do give over to the process, and I have had the wonderful experience of watching serious novelists doing blind contour drawing, of the tech-phobic embrace WordPress, of cover designs evolving from the ashes, an embrace of social media…
And as to the simple joy of being part of a group, well, there is no doubt you certainly will learn something, will grow as a writer and have a lovely time with real people doing so!
30 Sep 2014
Janine Orchard twice-weekly shelves her respectable marriage of twenty-three years to Ron. She begins and ends each working week with an exciting man only a few years older than her twenty-one year old twins.
But as fate directs, her affair with Ramos is unwittingly discovered by her son Josh. He turns to his father, unable to bear the knowledge alone.Janine acts as first-mate on Ron’s tinny to retrieve crab pots placed in an isolated creek the previous day by Ron.
She drags the last pot in, and nothing can prepare Janine for the catch that the forth and last pot yields. The head – face down – was firmly imprisoned within the crab pot frame, the neck free of the cage. She recognises the tattoo that covers his back; the last time she had seen it was yesterday as she stood behind him while she lightly traced her fingers across the artwork that gave Ramos an added intrigue.
Nobody knows of her affair with Ramos, and certainly not Ron who has not noticed anything about Janine for some time. For her family – and herself – she commits to denying any knowledge of the man found tied to Ron’s crab pot.
Ron continues the narrative as he describes in detail how his son’s discovery of his wife’s affair set him on days of surveillance with hopes that Janine would end the tryst before he was forced to fix the problem. Ron finds justification and a certain hallowed respect for his final decision.
Did the writers’ web reviewers enjoy this suspenseful murder crime? Here are their reviews:
“When I was asked to review The Perfect Catch I wasn’t sure what to think. The description of the book gave away the story line in more detail than I would have expected and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it because of that. Then I started reading, Angeline had me hooked from the first chapter. The story is about a cheating wife with a young lover, older children and a loving husband. The husband, Ron, has neglected his wife over the years without doing so on purpose. Then he finds out about the lover and take charge of the situation that his relationship is in.
The feelings of both the Orchards, Janine and Ron are described in such detail that you live with them. The point of view changes between several of the characters to build the story, even the police involvement is very nicely detailed. The descriptions of the area where the Orchards live and their life together is enough to make anyone think that it could have easily been a couple they know.
A look behind closed doors that makes you live along with the characters, think about the story long after the last page and hope that there will be more books by this author.” Gabrielle Monego
“A murder story with a new twist. The reader always knows more than the characters which helps to become more involved with them and their flaws. Janine’s and Ron’s marriage is suffering from boredom and one wonders if anything can ever improve for them.
The setting is local Queensland and the author has a good knowledge of the bay, with descriptions of boat ramps and tides, back creeks and crabbing. Janine and Ron could be anyone’s neighbours hiding their most unusual secrets.” Lyndall Holmes
“This book provides insight into the oft misunderstood interpretation of people’s personal views on the world and how one person sees events is so completely different to another person’s.You need to think deeply about the morals of the main characters, and if their actions are appropriate based on the circumstances that are in. What would you do?
If you like a story with some twists and turns while gaining an insight into what really drives people to do what they do then this is story accomplishes that.” Dyan Burgess
“The Perfect Catch is set in a medium-sized coastal town north of Brisbane in the early 2000s. The story is recounted by both Janine and Ron, a married couple with two young adult sons who have both left home. Ron works as a mechanic and Janine in an office but neither jobs impact significantly on the story. On a night out with the younger office girls, Janine meets a seductive young man (Ramos) who seems to find her attractive and being bored with her life, Janine starts sleeping with him. On a crabbing trip with Janine, Ron pulls up a crab pot with Ramos’ dead body attached. The remainder of the story examines both the events that led to the discovery and the feelings of Ron and Janine about themselves and their relationship.
The writing style is quite reflective. There is some straight narrative but often this is followed by the recount of a past event and how Ron and Janine feel about it. The events of the story cause Ron and Janine to examine their lives and their relationship, how it has evolved to its present state and what, if anything, they plan to do about it.
There are many peripheral characters but only the characters of Ron and Janine are developed fully. The reader is given insight to the motivation behind most actions and words of these two characters. This analysis, at one stage, made me feel a bit ‘bogged down’.
I appreciated the style in which the story was written, the explanation of how the event came to pass, often coming after the event was recounted. This made me engage more in the storyline. There was also some suspense as to who had committed the murder and whether they would get caught, which I enjoyed. Someone who enjoys exploring characters and their motivation along with a slower moving murder mystery would appreciate this book.” Sharyn Macdonald
Author, Angeline Beikoff (right) lives in Mackay, Queensland and has for the past two years devoted her time to writing novels that inspire a reader’s imagination.
Of her inspiration, she says: “I love reading, I love losing myself in the well told story. I love living the imaginary tale that the written word invokes, and if a piece is written so well that I can see the colour, hear the voices, and breathe the same air as the characters, I read with a smile on my face. This is where I hope to take my readers.”
About the inspiration for The Perfect Catch, she adds: “When I wrote ‘The Perfect Catch’ my idea for the story was born during a fishing trip in a quiet little creek. Out of nowhere my husband said ‘this would be the perfect place to hide a body’. With this strange comment, my imagination took over. Once I seriously set myself this task, I allowed the story to lead the way.”
When not writing, Angeline can be found reading (all genres except sci-fi) and enjoying road trips down the Australian East Coast.
27 Sep 2014
Jenny (Brigalow) Gilligan first contacted writers’ web in March, 2012, with her YA novel, The Overlander. Rather than the story languishing, collecting dust, she was determined to share and submitted the story as a free read. The response was wonderful and the reviews even more encouraging. The next step was to withdraw the title from writers’ web in 2013 as the newly written trilogy underwent a huge edit! The rest, they say, is history! Congratulations Jenny, with best wishes from Emma and Janet x
Here is her ‘Trail of a Tale’…
Several years ago, when my girls were aged twelve and thirteen, we were talking about their favourite books. The list was long. They loved so many. The only general criticism verbalized was their disappointment in the female characters. While they enjoyed fast paced, action-packed novels, they both felt that the boys got all the action. Girls were generally low key. “OK,” I said, in a moment of madness, “ I’ll write you a story where the girls get to kick lots of butt.” And so, The Overlander was born. They said that they loved it. But of course they’d say that, I’m their mum.
At this stage of my career I had only written a few rural romances and entered a couple of competitions with varied degrees of success. To help the process along I garnered some help from Aussie author, Louise Cusack, in the form of some marvellous manuscript assessments. I approached her once more but she was already knee deep in work. “Queensland Writers Centre and Allen & Unwin are running a competition for children’s stories”, she said. “Why don’t you check it out?” So I did. I qualified and the entry fees were reasonable. Months later I received a phone call. I’d won a place for a residency at QWC with nine other writers. Stoked!
Part of the prize was an edit of the whole story by Allen & Unwin. You can just imagine what a huge learning curve that was. I spent a fantastic week in Brisbane and learned lots. I made some lovely new friends as well. So, I went away and rewrote my story. Allen & Unwin had the right of first refusal, so I duly submitted and was duly rejected.
This became a pattern. Submission and rejection. But I did not despair (often). I kept writing. More rural romances, short stories, poetry, young adult paranormal and literary fiction. And The Overlander gathered metaphorical dust on the hard drive. And then I heard about Writers Web. I emailed Emma. “Can I put a story up for free?” I asked. “Indeed you can,” she replied. And so we did.
Meanwhile (back at the ranch) I began to write the rest of the story. The Overlander grew into a trilogy. Then in April 2013 I got an email from Australian ePublisher Steam eReads. They wanted to publish my rural romance, A Man For All Seasons. Yippee! The dream had become reality. Then later in the year I received an offer from Escape (Harlequin) for my young adult, paranormal The Children Of The Mist. More general yahooing. COTM was published November 2013. Earlier this year I signed a contract with Escape for The MacGregor, the second of my NightShifters series.
I began to feel like a writer. I dusted The Overlander off and decided that I felt brave enough to have a stab at self-publishing. With a little help from my friends at writers’ web I began to source some help. I really wanted a professional publication so I would need an editor, proof reader and book covers, at the very least. It was going to be a big job.
And then, poised to start the process, I got an email from Bloomsbury Spark (USA). “We think the world is ready for The Overlander”, they said. “Yippee”, I said. And so I signed on the dotted line. At long last my most loved story had found a home.
And so the trail of the tale is nearly done. It has been a long journey and I would never had made it on my own. So many good and generous people have helped along the way. So, my fellow word junkies, never give up and never give in. Have a little faith. Perseverance really does pay.
24 Sep 2014
Old Salty Heads Offshore is the next step up…Bluewater sailors! Barely are those waters smooth but the rewards are huge. Old Salty and his first mate integrate into a beautiful unspoiled culture where two-way exchanges build friendships and where old skills and knowledge are dusted off to help others.
It’s laughter, adventure, history, trading, feasts and drama… a real mixture of social, cultural and humorous interaction with a cast of memorable characters…it’s an ‘if you never ever go…you will never, never know’ book.
The writers’ web reviewers chuckled as they read this comedy, Old Salty Heads Offshore. Here are their thoughts:
“Another great adventure recount by David Daniel, with fun and games on and off board “The Catch”. If you are contemplating your own sea-bound adventure or just like reading about other people’s, then this book won’t disappoint! Great illustrations add to the charm of this book. A fun read.” Diana Harley
“Although “Old Salty” is written by a man and is about sailing, it will appeal to both genders and, it’s certainly not necessary to like sailing yarns; it’s more than that. The book has you chuckling from beginning to end, and learning much in the process. I would say that a more mature mind would appreciate the book and its subtleties.
Old Salty Heads Offshore by David Daniel is an entertaining and magnificently written book which could be metaphor for life. Despite trepidatous feelings the reader has with some of the extraordinary escapades of Old Salty (male Captain) and The First Mate (female offsider) also known as The First, you have total confidence that all will work out. There are always people who are willing to put themselves out on a limb to help these two and their beloved boat, The Catch. Added to this is the ingenuity of Old Salty and The First to extricate themselves from dangerous situations.
It’s an enchanting journey of the fulfillment of two people’s dream, to complete this voyage around peaceful lagoons and local people living on islands who surprise them with their worldliness. The two main protagonists exemplify the virtue that, in the toughest of moments if you don’t give in, you will succeed. You do not need to be a lover of boats and sea-faring stories to love this book.
The author is a master of English descriptive writing, the manipulation of words that sound the same but are spelt differently, alliteration and description. This is one of the most entertaining, philosophically deep and historically accurate books I have read in a long time. Perhaps this is how history books should be written, detailed historical knowledge with jovial humor, it would mean that students would remain engaged and remember what they have read.
Undoubtedly Old Salty, the narrator, steals the limelight with his laconic wit, smart remarks, and tongue-in-cheek comments of current and not so current events. Despite all his exposed flaws, he is endearing and likeable. However, The First comes in a close second as a favourite character. The relationship between these two could be the recipe for happy marriages. They are so different yet the teamship under the most grueling of circumstances is amazing. They know how to enjoy themselves, have fun together and see the bright side of any situation.
I particularly liked the clever, annotated illustrations by the author on many of the right-hand pages. The clever catch-phrases emphasise salient points in the narrative and gently make fun of some of our modern human behavioural foibles and assumptions.
David Daniel has a way with words and he maintains an interactive connection with the reader often asking questions eliciting an involuntary response.
There are references to famous and infamous historical mariners with tidbits of their escapades as well as humourous Biblical references. I love a clever book from which I can learn, and this is certainly such a book.” Gloria Hamilten
The author, David Daniel (right) has lived just about everywhere and done everything and then retired to live the dream of sailing the East coast of Australia. He says: “My first mate and I went sailing with a vertical learning curve dodging hard bits up and down the East coast of Australia and then out into the Pacific Islands (Old Salty Tales).
Today David lives in the hills of South East Queensland with partner Heather, three horses, three cattle, a dog and cat, many feral deer and untold kangaroos and wallabies.
“I wanted to share some of that with other people: the places, the characters, the sticky situations and the humour. I’ve lived life to the full and enjoyed the ride,” he says of his writing.
20 Sep 2014
My date with ‘my inner artist’ (something we all need to do on a regular basis) was satiated recently by virtue of attending my local writers group.
We were so lucky as one of the group’s prolific writers (a trilogy and a children’s book – four titles in two years, and a daily blogger!) shared her insight into book cover design. The following A to Z considerations for cover design came from our general discussions as well as Carmel Rowley’s experience!
- a/ Good cover – we are all attracted to them!
- b/ Potentially more display time if good cover.
- c/ Book covers as ‘art’
- d/ Two seconds is the time required to judge ‘desirable’
- e/ Look for unique, blind to ‘same’
- f/ Attention span getting short – texting, Facebook, shallow reading.
- g/ Design fundamentals and rules of advertising relevant to book… emotional triggers, create desire to buy, capture attention. Keep in mind ‘less is more’…
- h/ Know your audience.
- i/ Once well-known, may be less need to ‘sell’ the story.
- j/ Tails Carried High – knew needed riveting picture of a horse because needed horse lovers to pick up the book…
- k/ Font is relevant.
- l/ Cover copy has to be active without discussing the plot.
- m/ Understand psychology of colour.
- n/ Emotions evoked influence purchase decision.
- o/ Keywords lend validity and cement the opinion the author is ‘right’
- p/ Research, research, research your audience. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner / Google Adwords.
- q/ Cover as art work so understand how the eye evaluates an image.
- r/ Copycat or knockoff – emulating design of successful images.
- s/ Psychology of portions of person, backs, half heads etc is relevant and considered.
- t/ Decide what own dreams and goals are…
- u/ Design for thumbnails for Amazon – simple and clear as possible.
- v/ Use all the resources at your disposal, for example, an orange cover to make it stand out…
- w/ Understand trends in colour and genre.
- x/ Brand yourself.
- y/ Test book cover – App called ‘Thumb’ – upload a picture to different categories – thumbs up / thumbs down…
- z/ And if you are happy with it – then it is great!
There were many elements of the discussion which piqued my interest, and none more so than the idea of designing different covers for different markets. We weren’t necessarily talking about the traditional geographically distinguishable markets of Europe, Asia and America – we were talking about rural bookstores, chain stores and on-line stores as well!
Fascinating really. If you were not 100% sure of whether or not you should attend your local writers group… well, you never know if you should or shouldn’t judge it by its cover either!!!!
Emma« Older posts