Alien Wizardy adventure for 10-12 year olds reviewed

21 Jan 2015

Alien-Wizardry-by-Antionette-Conolly ”For those who like a little bit of magic, fantasy and adventure, this is a book for you” so says one of the writers’ web review panel.

Zachary travels again to the magical world of Cauchemar at the request of his friend Mactavish. The boy has made three previous journeys there, but on the last occasion, the ginger cat did not return with him to Earth.

Cauchemar is threatened by extinction if an ancient prophesy is not satisfied. Alien assistance is required to complete the task and many difficulties have to be overcome. Zachary and his companion, Taffy, have may friends who help – Magenta the witch, Bijour the dragon and Ulysses the unicorn (to name a few).

Can they succeed in defeating the black magic of Malfactorius and save Cauchemar?

For ten to 12 year old readers, here’s what the writers’ web review panel thought about this magical adventure, Alien Wizardy, the first book in the sequel trilogy to the Cauchemar books.

“Alien Wizardry is a book about an eleven year old boy Zachary and his adventures in a magical world called Cauchemar. He has visited the world three times before and is now asked by his old companion, a sometimes cantankerous cat called Mactavish to return. Mactavish is a fully trained wizard now who has found a reference to the possible end of Cauchemar, and he has asked Zachary to return to the magical world with his new cat, Taffy, who happens to be the son of Mactavish. With an ancient prophecy threatening Cauchemar, Zachary of Earth is the only other ‘alien’ Mactavish can contact to help save the magical world.

I enjoyed this book because of all the twists in the storyline. Because of the many characters and sometimes difficult language I would recommend this book for young readers aged 12 years old and up.”Abbey English

“If you enjoyed the earlier adventures of Mactavish, then you will certainly enjoy this book. We get to meet the wizened cat three years on, and again he is joined with Zachary and Taffy (Macavish’s son) on an adventure to save Cauchemar from near certain doom.

There are plenty of hiccups along the way, however this trio continues to keep on with their quest without giving up hope. They are constantly in strange lands with strange circumstances, and constantly being challenged by the lack of understanding of the people that they meet along the way.

This does not stop them in their quest to save Cauchemar, even though the “beings” in the lands are on many occasions determined to stop the trio from achieving their goals. For those who like a little bit of magic, fantasy and adventure, this is a book for you.

My 11-year-old daughter also read the book and her review is as follows: I like Alien Wizardry because of the suspenseful plot, exciting characters and many pleasant surprises. I found the new lands riveting, especially Antiquaria.” Dyan Burgess

Antoinette-ConollyAuthor Antoinette Conolly (right) is a writer of science fiction/fantasy novels for children. She lives in Sydney and spends a lot of time visiting primary schools and libraries to speak to students about reading/writing and her books. A former high school teacher, Antoinette taught foreign languages (French, German, Italian) and was also a consultant in Training and Development for the Education Department of New South Wales. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Newcastle University and a Master of Educational Administration from New South Wales University. Her novels are suitable for 7 – 13 year old readers.

Antoinette’s writing is inspired by a love of reading (she still reads three books a week). She wrote as a child and teenager when at Uni and had some poems published when in high school. Antoinette always wanted to write fantasy for children, but did not have time until she retired from high school teaching.

Alien Wizardry is now available in the writers’ web bookstore.

Also available in the Cauchemar trilogy are:

Antoinette’s other book involving time travel, A Key to Time, is reviewed here.


The Brandings Game for 7-9 year olds reviewed

15 Jan 2015

The Brandings Game_CoverA modern take on the proverb ‘Look Before You Leap’. For Dad, there was something even worse than The Terrible Red Racer, and this was The Brandings Game — the latest book in the ‘Words From Daddy’s Mouth’ series which helps younger readers understand the world.

The writers’ web review panel understood the message behind the humour in this story – here’s what they had to say:

“What’s that?” asked Tommy of the title. By the end of the story, not only had he learnt a new game, but how not to play it!, although he commented that he wanted to fall down and break not one, but both arms…ouch!

Tommy (6) was very engaged with the story, listening hard. He was not so enamoured of the illustrations: “They’re weird” was the comment. This book prompted Tommy to explain clearly the rules of a school yard game, Red Rover. A nifty book to teach a lesson in what not to do.” Tommy Edwards


“The Brandings Game is a part of a series of books about a father telling stories to his children. They all have a deeper meaning to teach the reader. The Brandings Game is a great story, it has easy to read words, a picture on every page to make it more entertaining for younger listeners and it has a funny side to it. The father is telling his daughters a story about his school life where he played rough games. He is reminding them to always stop, plan and think about what you are going before you do it but, I would have liked to see the moral of the story printed more clearly on the front cover. Children aged 8 to 12 would enjoy this book. The part where he broke his arm did scare me a little so it may not be suitable for real young children. But it is a good educational story with exciting pictures, I enjoyed it a lot. Laura Russell

“ I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very exciting to go through the story and discover all that happens. It was very realistic. This book really interested me because I liked how I could feel what the story-teller felt.” Caitlin Shore

Mattnew-BurgessA lawyer, after giving away the family television in 2006, author Matthew Burgess (right) found time to write law books and children’s books (talk about contrasts!).

Matthew says: “There was always a strong undertone in my stories to deliver life lessons, while keeping the children engaged with humour and expression. From that day on, my stories became known as “Words from Daddy’s mouth”. I had so many stories that I had to create a list to remember them all (at last count the list was over 400). So over time a game developed where the children would choose a number from this list. Whatever story related to the number chosen would be the story 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.”

 The Brandings Game  is now available in the bookstore as a PDF eBook.

Matthew’s other books for children include The Big Rusty Nail reviewed here The Terrible Red Racer reviewed here and  The Weekend Cash Call. He has also written a book about asset protection, structuring, business and personal succession planning, Inside Stories 2010 – 2012,  available as a hardcopy book.

Crime novel reviewed – Fortune: Thief of Bagdad

06 Jan 2015

Fortune: Thief of BaghdadWho is Fortune? The Americans want to know and they’re also curious to found out what the enigmatic Fortune has done with the huge stock of gold that has been collected since the war.

The brutal Commander Dallas Stone, head of America’s war on freedom is put on the trail.

It begins with a ten million dollar heist from Baghdad’s Treasury. Unfortunately for Commander Stone, he soon discovers that Fortune never forgets and never forgives. Competing for the same prize, the Americans and Baghdad’s Resistance are drawn inexorably into the most ambitious heist of the century and the unexpected becomes the only defence against America’s murderous mania for gold.

The writers’ web reviewers admired this complex and multi-layered crime/mystery. Here’s what they said:

“A complicated international plot follows the line of the protagonists and puts them in the middle of an international conspiracy.

This story sets itself mainly in Baghdad, however does move to other territories and discusses the political intrigue and conspiracy amongst all parties as part of the war at the time. The book takes a street level look at those affected by the war and how everything has a rippling effect on the choices of just a few people in power and on the streets.

This is very much a David vs. goliath story full of arid landscapes and multifaceted characters. For those who like intricate and multi-leveled war stories, then this is the book for you.” Dyan Burgess

“A contemporary political thriller largely set in Iraq and environs but also in other parts of the world. It is an intense read, filled with intrigues that often leave the reader often holding her breath as to the outcome of the many dangerous scenarios.

The book is well-written and it is clear that the author is passionate about exposing injustices and contradictory situations of the various characters and how they are handled. I noticed that after chapter one, the chapters are not numbered. It’s an intelligent read.

All the characters are rock solid in their persona. Each one carefully crafted with tension in their development to suit the dramatic evolution of the plot. A highlight of the book was to discover the identity of Fortune. I won’t spoil it for the reader to disclose anything about this person.

This book would appeal to readers interested in reading about the political, economic and societal conditions of that part of the world and in world politics. The author is candid and holds no punches regarding the world of political intrigue and brutality.” Gloria Hamilten

Catherine LilaiAuthor, Catherine Lilai (right) has been writing almost all her life.  She says: “Being the victim of bullying defined my life as a writer. I’m not a threatening person and I learn’t a long time ago that the most potent form of defence is a woman armed with a pen and conviction not an attack of the hysterics. Naturally, Ivy my female protagonist is my alter-ego, anti-institution and very unorthodox both of which help get to the truth.

When writing, Catherine withdraws into isolation, immersing herself into political journals and National Geographic to create the atmosphere and background of stolen French artefacts on the black market. I created a body of intelligence operatives, trained anthropologists searching for more out of their career than digging and cataloguing. The organisation is funded by the French Ministry of Culture and their headquarters is the basement of the Louvre Museum.

When you  not writing, Catherine says: “Like any other 50 year old woman. I look through the yellow pages for a cut price plastic surgeon.” Clearly she has a sense of humour.

Fortune: Thief of Bagdad is now available in the writers’ web bookstore as an eBook along with her other books The Jebusite Enigma, Tomb of the Third Eye reviewed here, and, The Illusion of Al-Shamah.



Hist Fic Across the Water reviewed

29 Dec 2014

Across the Water by Maureen JefferiesSara, a vivacious Irish girl is 16 years of age in the 1920s. She is is a young girl ahead of a time when only few women could aspire to higher education. She aspires to become a doctor and with great difficulty but determination she enters university.

While there she becomes a victim of the ‘Troubles’ in Ireland; traumatised she leaves to continue her studies in England. She makes a mistake which not only ends her studies but changes her life dramatically by entering into an arranged marriage.

Her life weaves in and out of the social upheavals constantly taking place during those turbulent years, bringing both joy and sadness.  Finally, in the 1950’s she sets out to honour a vow she made when she was 20 years old. Her life is bound up in family and lovers, all important to her development as a woman; all important to her story.

The writer’s web review panel universally admired Across the Water, envisaging it as a movie or TV series. Here are their thoughts:

Across the Water by Maureen Jefferies is a professionally-written novel of epic proportions that would make a suspenseful and intriguing movie. It’s a monumental work that has the reader riveted to the storyline and the fate of the characters. It’s the story of a young girl, Sara O’Connor, and her adventures as she grows from a 16 year old born in a poverty-stricken part of Ireland to an elderly woman in India with journeys through England, Canada, and Australia before returning to India.

It’s an articulate piece of prose. The language is crisp, clear and effective both for speech and writing; it’s beautifully written. The writing is emotive and you feel with the characters. Descriptive passages are also well done.

An interesting feature of the novel is that some professions, such as that of a priest, which often gets a bad rap, is here shown to be caring and human. The priest is empathetic to delicate social situations and personal conditions.

Although Sara is the protagonist, there are other strong characters whose fate we eagerly read about. Even the so-called ‘bad apples’ in the book have aspects about them that the reader can identify with. All the characters have depth. I also liked that it was fast-paced which kept me constantly intrigued as to what would happen next with the odd gasp.

The book has so many twists and turns that, I feel, it would appeal to a broad audience over 18. There is one tragedy after another, however, there are many moments of happiness and beauty. Even though all the plots are interwoven, it is elegantly constructed and not at all confusing.”  Gloria Hamilten

“Maureen, your story reminded me of “The Forsyth Saga’ which graced our television screens in the late 1960′s It spreads its wings across the lifetime of the heroine, Sara, who leaves her native Ireland and journeys across the water to England. The time spans from WW1 to the Great Depression, to WW11 and beyond. She travels across water many times – to Canada and back and to India The story follows her hopes and dreams, her loves and tragedies. Her greatest love is her son Brendan. They are separated by extraordinary circumstances and finally reunited.

The Irish language of the text kept the genre authentic and grounded, as did the dialect of the Indian language. This made all the characters “real” and grow in my heart as I read and turned the pages. Race relations are explored in heart rendering scenes and made me look deep into my own core beliefs. It’s hard to remember there was a time when inter racial relationships were frowned upon with such scorn and the children of such relationships with such hatred.

Your story, Maureen, is outstanding in capturing the history of the years and is truly a labour of love. It has been well researched to gather authenticity. I wish you well and hope you have great success with your story….maybe another television series.” Judith Flitcroft

“What an unexpected delight! Across the Water follows the life of a young and fiesty Sara who has the best and the worst of life thrown at her. The author has managed to capture her vibrancy and strong will to make something of herself, despite the many and deeply emotional set-backs she encounters. The words used to describe and develop each character bring them to life and as a result, leave a very clear picture in the mind of the reader. The author also managed to depict the strong prejudices of the era and clearly showed how these changed with each culture and the passing of time. I thoroughly enjoyed following Sara’s journey and am hopeful that the uncertainty at the end means that there will be a sequel? I will certainly be recommending this book as a must read to my friends and will look forward to Maureen’s next novel.” Linda Subritzky

Maureen Jefferies PhotoAuthor, Maureen Jefferies has been writing since a young schoolgirl and has continued through creative writing; journalism – local paper; advertising screed and publicity. Once her family was grown she joined writing groups and  organisations and has completed two novels. Research, although time consuming is one of Maureen’s favourite parts of writing.

About her fiction, Maureen says, “I try to write about people coping with the obstacles in their lives. I suppose you could say they are sagas. I do have a focus on females but this is because I need to get inside my characters and, well, not easy with males if you are a female!!”

When not writing Maureen  tends to her large garden;  makes jewellery; paints; leadlights and attends her writing class and Book Club.

Across the Water is now available in the writers’ web bookstore as a hardcopy book.

How to write a children’s book – Child Writes reviewed

22 Dec 2014

Child Writes Front CoverHow long have you held the dream of creating a children’s picture book? Whether you intend to give the gift of words and images to your loved ones, write the next children’s bestseller, or help others bring their ideas to life… Child Writes – Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play is the book for you! Emma Mactaggart, picture book author, publisher and founder of the unique Child Writes program, shares her proven methodology for creating picture books. There’s no need to dream any longer

The writers’ web reviewers universally enjoyed this “how to” book, finding it a useful and information-packed read. Here’s their feedback…

“It is a step-by-step guide to writing and illustrating a children’s picture book. It could be used as the children’s story book writer’s bible. It is so comprehensive and covers, in plain English, all that you need to know when writing for children. It answers all the questions that an emerging writer asks and can rarely get the answers too. As the author of over 12 children’s books I have learned quite a bit from reading this book. Emma has put so much research into her books which it is shown by the multitude of knowledge she reveals to the reader.” Coral Nichols

“If only, are the first words which come to mind (I was going to say that) however, after reading Emma’s teachings, I am prone to never use THAT ever again! I said ‘if only,’ meaning, if only I had hold of this valuable Bible of information, as well as the physical help Emma provides, way back when I was a child, well I’m sure I would be the mostest read author by now! This book is an inspiration to the maximum. I truly feel this book is a masterpiece of correct advice, encouragement and most of all inspiration. Well done Ladies.” Doreen Slinkard

“This book has given me much to think about. I am currently the creative director for my husband’s series of children’s books, and every time I read a portion of the book, the great tips and thoughts about ways to improve the current manuscripts would make my brain run about. So it took much self control to just sit and read and appreciate this wonderful book, without wanting to jump at all the ideas flooding into my head.

The beautiful formatting and graphic design of the book make an it an even more pleasurable read and again get those creative juices flowing. Practical examples for sentences, particularly “show don’t tell”, were wonderful insights for me. I always felt as though I was carefully nurtured at Emma’s side all the way through the book. She was ready to assist with my curly thoughts and wayward thinking! So many times just when I wanted to say out loud “How do you do that?” the answer was right there in the following text.

Highly recommended resource for anyone who is currently, or wanting to be, involved with book processes, from concept to marketing, it is all there (even if you are not about children’s books so many of the principles apply to other genres). As one of the quotes in Emma’s book states “the difference between an author and someone who would like to write a story is simple – the author did.” Dyan Burgess

“The book goes from the pre-inspiration stage to the completed product, including marketing. Added to this are many useful resources such as essential websites, extensive chapter by chapter references, a bibliography, glossary of terms and recommended books.

Emma Mactaggart’s writing is clear, professional and easy to understand. There is no doubt that she loves her work and speaks to the reader in a mature, nurturing voice. It is a well-structured, informative book, visually attractive with bite-size exercises to guide the reader from one step to the next with ease. The author is clearly an expert in her field and she is generous in sharing her story of how she came to writing this book, what works and has included all this in great detail.

I particularly appreciated the simple yet evocative chapter titles to gain my interest. There are abundant questions to get the creative juices flowing as well as the cognitive side of the brain to work in unison with one’s creativity. In addition, there are many questions posed on “why” the reader wants to pursue creating an illustrated children’s book. That digs deeper and forms a strong foundation for a successful end result.

The methodology for this guide has been tested on children from nine to twelve years of age so this would clearly be a target demographic. These age groups would need an adult to facilitate the implementation of the many activities and other requirements. However, as an adult, I certainly gained from the way the guide is structured should I wish to create an illustrated children’s book. I found it very interesting, informative and entertaining. Nothing has been omitted.” Gloria Hamilten

“This book is a wonderful resource for authors of all ages, genres and stages in their careers. Writing and publishing books is a steep learning curve for anyone and I wish I’d found this book a few years ago when I was starting out. I like the way Emma has used a conversational tone and humor in places to keep a child’s interest. An example is in the ‘head-high ratio’ section: “Right, I can hear you now declaring I have gone completely bonkers … bear with me!” LOL. There are some great ideas that were new to me such as doodle drawings to wake up your creativity. I’ll have to try that one.

The sections on Vanity and Subsidy Publishing where you have to pay to get your book published serve as a good warning to new writers. I have heard of several new writers who were so excited to have been taken on by a publisher, just to discovered that they have a bill of hundreds or thousands of dollars before they can even see a copy of their book. I really enjoyed reading this informative book. I was given a free ebook copy to review, but after a few pages I realised that I NEED a copy and am heading over to writers’ web to get one straight away. My son has expressed an interest in co-writing my next book, so we’ll be devouring Child Writes piece by piece before we start.

I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in writing or illustrating a book. Happy writing everyone.” Kasper Beumont

“Succinct, yet inspirational advice for writers on how to create reader interest from the beginning and then to make the story flow. Emma covers the creative period when the book is little more than an idea and takes the reader/writer through to the publication. Her advice is simple, fun and easy to deploy. I have to say it is not just about children’s story writing either, I write non-fiction, and have been ‘wishing’ I could write fiction. Well, reading Child Writes has unlocked the block within me about how to start on the novel I know is inside. The creativity was so freely flowing for me, and I do not know of any other writer who can do that for another writer. I would recommend Child Writes to any writer, even an experienced one will pick up tips, ideas and inspiration from this wonderful book. A budding writer will find it a valuable source of how to and an inspiration at the same time. Teachers and parents will also find Child Writes a useful guide on what to look for, and how to select a great children’s book to read to others.” Terrie Anderson.

Emma MactaggartAuthor, Emma Mactaggart (right), is one half of writers’ web and is inspired to write to share what’s in her head, experimenting with a number of genres.

Of her ell us about your writing process, she says,” I love working from an image, either real or created, so I start any story, regardless of the length or the format with visual reference, which may be a photo or a doodle drawing. It is really important for me to know the closing line; whether it be for a planned paragraph, a novel, short story or a children’s picture book. I have to know how it finishes before I start. Then it is a matter of getting first draft down on paper.”

She is fascinated about the relationships of those around me and what makes for a positive response in a relationship or a negative response. I am also particularly interested in what events need to occur for a person to be the one they are today – the ones which transition us from childhood to adulthood.

Emma’s favourite author is Haruki Murakami – “each time I turn the page, I know I don’t know what is coming! There is absolutely no predictability in his books other than the unpredictability. His books are the perfect foil to a day-to-day drudgery which commonly referred to as ‘routine’.

When she is not writing, Emma likes to read.

Child Writes – Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play is now available in the writers web bookstore.

Shadows of the Past reviewed

17 Dec 2014

Front Cover of Shadows of the Past by John Cosgrove

“This book should be part of the school curriculum” says one of the writers’ web review panel of Shadows of the Past, a collection of short stories and poems about days in country and city and 60 years of recollections by the author:

              • The Masonic Ball – tells of a ball that could be held in any country district.
              • Whether or Not – is the story of an ‘expert’ on the weather.
              • Making a Killing – is the story of a bloke who sells a property and is going to make a fortune in the city.
              • McCartney’s Run – tells of days when marriage of mixed denominations could cause problems.
              • Silence is Golden – covers our habit of using proverbs and what happens if we use them to excess.

This collection both moved and amused the review panel. Here’s what they think about Shadows of the Past:

“I once told a published author friend that great short stories and poems leave you wanting more. I felt this way about the majority of writing in “ Shadows of the Past”. The stories and poems were whimsical, nostalgic, touching, controversial, cheeky and thought provoking. I think this book should be part of the school curriculum or at he very least shared amongst Australians from all walks of life. Well done, Mr. Cosgrove.” Belinda Starkey

Shadows of the Past by John Cosgrove is a wonderful compilation of shorter and longer stories and poems set in the Australian outback. It’s a book that a visitor to Australia should read if they are only going to a capital city, and certainly, city folk where we have all possible luxuries. An outback dweller would often have a smile on her or his face, identifying with the stories and characters, the humour and the tragedy.

The book is very well written with excellent use of descriptive language and clarity of Australian idioms. The attention to detail is appreciated even if you are an Australian reader who is familiar with local jargon as there is no doubt as to the meaning of conversations in the isolated local vernacular. Language is heartfelt and stirs the emotions of the reader who is able to empathise and feel the sometimes desperate realities of living in the Australian bush.

It’s hard to isolate a particular favourite story or poem as they each have their own magic. Particularly touching was McCartney’s Run. After reading it I was incensed about narrow-mindedness that so often causes deaths.

This is a book you need to make time for and have it sitting on the coffee table. It’s too beautiful to rush through. You pick it up and read one of its pearls and digest the message you get. You’ll never tire of this book.

It’s possibly a book for a more mature reader. That’s not say, mature in age, but mature in thinking as it challenges how we look at the world.” Gloria Hamilten

“The phrase, ‘ “I’m buggered, just buggered.” he said’, says it all. Haven’t we all felt like that as we age. This is the second book of yours I’ve reviewed, John. I see where this book was written in 2009, where as “White Fella Dreaming” was written in 2011, and I can see a progression in your writing. With this one, John, you have captured a bloke’s world. My husband really appreciated your slant on life especially “The Cabless Tractor Driver.”! My favourite ones this time were the story, “Mum” and the poem, “The Best for Dad.” They both brought tears to my eyes, as they related to our own experiences in our lives. The emotions were captured and written down in a most poignant manner, painting a picture of the moment. Congratulations once again. Judith Flitcroft

John-Cosgrove-HeadshotAuthor, John Cosgrove (right) has been writing for about 15 years writing poetry first, then short stories. Inspiration has come from his father. John says,

“My father wrote poetry and told stories. When he died I started writing and I like to write of life the way I see it. My books are about Everyday life – funny and sad events that have happened – some are fiction – some are very true. I hope my stories cover incidents in the reader’s lives”

Once a farmer and cattleman, when not writing, John is developing a town block and helps his real estate son.

John’s other book, White Fella Dreamin is reviewed here.

Shadows of the Past is now available in the bookstore as a hard copy book.


Write Around Queensland anthologies now published

11 Dec 2014

After a year in the works, the two Write Around Queensland anthologies are now live as eBooks available from the writers’ web website:

1. In The Raw has the submissions as received from emerging writers around the state. It can be downloaded by pressing the Preview button here.

2. The Final Draft contains editing input from the Qld Society of Editors which writers may or may not have chosen to include in their final submission.It can be downloaded by pressing the Preview button here.

Reviews of the 48 edited short stories by our review panel can be read here.

We know through the writer feedback that having their work edited was a rewarding and productive process and have included some of their very nice words about this on pages 1-6 of The Final Draft.

 Many thanks to everyone involved in Write Around Qld with special mentions to:

•  Beloved and prolific Queensland author Nick Earls for his supportive words early in the piece

Arts Queensland for funding through their Projects and Programs Fund

Queensland Society Editors for their editing input, especially  Brian Clarke and Jacinda Wilson for doing a stellar job in co-ordinating their editors

• The very helpful team of Meg Vann, Aimee Lindorff and Sophie Overett from Qld Writers Centre for helping to spread the word to writers’ groups

• Our lovely reviewers who stepped up to lend their support to review every story, providing a staggering total of 206 reviews

• And lastly, but most importantly, the writers who were brave enough to have someone else read, edit and then review your work. You have now made the transition from writer to author – congratulations all!


Run out of writing steam?

09 Dec 2014

In an interview with Amanda Lohrey in The Writers Room series with Charlotte Wood, Amanda describes the ’11am switch’. Regardless of what is happening around her or how methodical or organised she is, she doesn’t feel the kick to write until that late in the morning.

I personally completely associated with the comment she shared from Elizabeth Jolley that ‘..if there is the slightest difficulty happening in the family I just can’t work.’  This would fully explain why my last surge of writing is always just before a deadline, and I can only seem to start at 8pm at night and finished a 7,000 word play in the early hours of the following morning! Yes, I am deadline driven, with no discipline and a very earnest growing jealously for the writing practices of authors like Ronald Butler.  He is the author of Blood Latitudes and Blood on the Reef keeps the process very simple.  ’Discipline is the key – just keep writing even when you don’t feel like it; the writing will come and begin to take on its own momentum.’

The idea of writing through the pain barrier is not unusual either.  Catherine Lilai has a particularly honest description into her writing, no less an ambitious project than a trilogy. ‘Five years of hair pulling, the onset of madness and a euphoria that I cannot describe.’  She was driven by an intensely internal creative drive and is genuinely too exhausted right now to focus on what happens next!

Console yourself that if you have run out of writing steam, for the process is not an exact science and there are as many variables as there are scenarios in a writers day.  The most important thing to remember is that whilst authors are happy to share their writing methodology, it is just that… theirs!

It is so important to understand the vagaries of your own writing, find what works and what doesn’t and let your own lifestyle, rituals and nuances dictate your writing process.  Laura O’Connell, author of Web of Lies believes says ‘My writing process has gone through many changes and has evolved into a method I trust. That’s a major milestone for my career. Now that I understand my writing life, when the doubt comes it’s easier to deal with.’

A dose of honestly, followed by an assessment of reality… and you will find your own tipping point.  Only then can you work your way around that sinking feeling of not having the energy or the creativity to be writing; or trick yourself into a surge of creativity

And for me?  I have to post this NOW to meet my deadline!




Fantasy A King, a Queen and a Magician reviewed

04 Dec 2014

A King A Queen by David Cox CoverA bad mistake that took place some seven years ago, Gawain the magician is continually plagued by knowing that the king’s son is in fact his own, and now that the king knows, he is forced to make a decision.

Here’s what the writers’ web reviewers thought about this fantasy short story:

“A King a Queen and a Magician is a short story – or the first instalment of a longer story – set in an era which appears to equate to medieval times. The story opens with a detailed description of the main character, Gawain, the King’s Magician as he writes in his room in the castle. The events of the story happen in less than a twenty-four hour period and focus on the relationship of the triad comprising the Magician, the King and the Queen.

Although the story is only six pages long, the author includes some history, a couple of first person conversations and some action. The story is written from the perspective of Gawain so the reader is privy to his thoughts – motivation and fears. The end of the story is the climax and the reader is left wondering what happens next.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the characters and the fast pace of the story although I usually like a more complex storyline and characters which can’t be developed in such a short time. A reader of medieval fantasy with a mystical element would thoroughly enjoy this story.” Sharyn Macdonald

“I enjoyed reading this descriptive short story by David Cox. ‘His penmanship slid across the parchment, mimicking the exact way an insect glides across the water without breaking the surface.’  There is a nice relaxed flow to the text, which holds the reader’s attention and builds with suspense to a thrilling conclusion.

Gawain is an aged magician with an intriguing blue glow, who shares some of the mysteries of his past. The blue glow represents his interest in the arts of knowledge and deciphering. King Thodric is a strong king who we discover has been betrayed. Queen Seleyne is a beautiful lady who holds a secret that could tear their kingdom apart.

My favourite character was Gawain, the powerful magician who undoubtedly has many powers as yet untold.

The past comes back to haunt the royal family in this nail-biter, which reminded me of Games of Thrones. Great story by David Cox, which left me again wishing he would write longer pieces. Well done. I look forward to the next adventure.

Recommended for fantasy and suspense readers aged teenage to mature.” Kasper Beaumont.

DaveCoxAuthor David Cox (right) has been writing since primary school, inspired by Tolkein who “sparked my love of reading and I have been in love with his universe since I read The Hobbit and later, The Lord of the Rings.”

About his writing process, David wittily says, “As George Martin once said, there are two types of writers. There is the gardener, who goes out and plants the seed, waters it, and see what it grows into. The second is the architect, who has all these grand plans and schemes, and will know every inch of the building and what is going to happen before it is finished (just paraphrasing there). I think that I have a mix of both. Most of the time, when I’m writing a short story, I am the gardener, I start off and see what it shapes into. When I’ve got an idea for a hundred thousand word monster, I turn into a bit of an architect. I highlight key points and plot twists and turns that I want to see in the book, and I just let the plant grow into shape.

When not writing, Davis manages to squeeze in time for university, doing assignments, studying and working at a hardware store. “Living as much as I can,” he says.

A King, A Queen and a Magician is now available as a PDF eBook in the writers’ web bookstore.

Other epic fantasy novels also by David Cox include The Valkyr and The Magister.

Are you an Amplified Author?

30 Nov 2014

Meg Vann, CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre took centre stage in the industry sessions at the Gold Coast Writers Festival in 2012 to define as an “Amplified Author” what self-published writers have been doing intuitively for years.

She had charged herself with the task of understanding of who a writer was, as her first undertaking, in a bid to ensure she could communicate effectively and efficiently with the powers that be, on behalf of the QWC membership.  It order to do so, she trawled through policy documents, looking for the descriptors for writers.  Her belief is that if a writer describes themselves in the same terms, then everyone is on the same page!

Somehow, Meg managed share this in a way which made it not sound so droll or as dry.   Self-published, traditionally published, independent… various terms which attempt to explain the choices made by writers in a bid to share their words.

It was the insight into the Amplified Author which captured my attention!  This term coined by Author Chris Meade in an if:Books forum in London in 2010 describes authors engaged in the social web and beyond the role of the traditional author.  Amplified Authors can:

  • Constructively sit at her desk and speak directly to her readership through a blog
  • Can expand that circle of readers gradually by using Twitter and other social networks, can find an active readership interested in offering criticism and ideas, can publish work through print on demand and put it on the global bookshelf of the web, in either full book format or serialised fiction
  • Can set out her stall of publications and services on a website
  • Where she can also offer to run workshops, teach, write reviews, perform
  • She can take her work to publishers and broadcasters able to give detailed evidence of who her readership is and what they think of her work
  • Once she makes it into print, she can use her own energies and laptop to promote her masterpiece
  • Outsource skills of editing, design, marketing (it may not be the mainstream publishing houses that future writers will turn to for these, in fact they may not see themselves as part of literary culture at all, but simply as the makers of good apps) makers will pick and mix the range of skills, resources and people they need to help them, and these will include the means to curate a continuing relationship with the community of readers which forms around their work, plus the means to illuminate their text with images, sound and film.

This description legitimises what hard-working self-published authors have been doing all along.  There is one very subtle ‘shift’ in the definition though that is worth noting.  It is the implication that becoming an Amplified Author is a CHOICE, rather than a reaction to being rejected by the traditional mainstream publishing system.  The working method of an Amplified Author is to use all the incredible opportunities presented in today’s market.

And being amplified – it is being loud and increasing the frequency of the message, adding detail for clarity and fluidity and increases the signal… a perfect descriptor for the modern author.

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