23 May 2013
Seventeen year old Gemma Rossi defies her over-bearing father and refuses to fulfil his dream of training her to become an Olympic fencer and flies off to join her grandparents on an archaeological dig at an ancient monastery.
She has no idea of what a mind-boggling roller coaster ride of love and adventure lies ahead when she takes an accidental trip through a time portal back to the early years of the thirteenth century.
A handsome teenage prince, even if he is on the verge of being married to someone else. A land in turmoil and being at the centre of all the machinations of a ruthless ruler and a corrupt royal court.
This is the stuff of legend and fantasy, right? A fairytale. But what if this particular fairytale came true?
The writers’ web reviewers were transported back in time and are keen for the next installment and more from the author, Cecily Dunne.
“‘Portal’ is a wonderful story about adventure, time travel and above all love. Gemma is thrown from the worlds she knows into the harsh reality of a period of history marked by war. She is forced to find her feet in this time and place and somehow find her way home. Then she finds Halbrec and the choice becomes all that much harder: return to the future world in which she belongs or stay in the unpredictable and at times brutal past with the man she loves.
Cecily Dunne has a light and crisp writing style that makes the story a very easy read and a real page turner. She had me wanting to know what was happening next and kept a great pace to the end of the book. The characters were well written; though at the beginning of the book I wasn’t sure that I would like Gemma; she, however grew on me and by the end I quite liked her. Olivia was my favourite though and I wanted to know more about her. I can’t wait to see where the story goes in the next book: ‘Switchback.’
I think anyone who enjoys a great adventure story with a good helping of romance would love to read ‘Portal’.” Cassandra Page
“‘Portal’ is an action-packed adventure woven in a colourful historical tapestry. As a reader, I felt as though I was transported there myself and became immersed in the medieval references and lifestyle. I did find the plot meandered a bit in the middle, but overall was an exciting and romantic adventure. The writing style was descriptive and engaging and is recommended for teenagers or adults. I am eagerly awaiting ‘Switchback’, the next book in the series.” Kasper Beaumont
“This book for young adults is written from the perspective of Gemma, a fairly typical teenage girl whose father has pushed her into competitive fencing. She enjoys it, but she knows it’s not what she wants to do long-term and her father’s tough attitude has the usual reverse effect upon her, giving her more of a reason to rebel.
It strikes me that the author has done some research and made a good attempt to tell a story using real historical language and references, and while this is very difficult in a fabricated world, it is fairly successful. This kind of writing works for the young adult audience, as exemplified in the first Twilight novel, where there is a lot of superfluous but fun description of various teenage activities and interactions. The difference between writing for a general teenage audience and an adult audience is that the literary quality of the writing need not be the focus; a teenage audience will give itself over to the story, the fantasy, and be un-fazed and perhaps even comforted by cliché or rhetoric.
The romantic interludes will also draw in the female teenage audience. Overall, the story is very well constructed and I particularly admired the author’s ability to create a fictional world. This is a hard thing to do convincingly! Some of the description is very well honed and momentarily plunges the reader fully into the story. Gemma is a great heroine, strong and wilful, down to earth and intelligent.
Overall, the story is thrilling and exciting, the perfect fantasy escape, and it leaves us hanging for more of Gemma by the end of it. Even as an adult, I enjoyed the adventure in ancient Morven, and the squirmy thrill of the gushing romance. If this is the quality of the author’s first attempt, I can only anticipate great things from Ms Dunne in future and really look forward to reading more.” Katharina Logan
Author Cecily Dunne says; “Portal is my first Young Adult novel. It is an adventure/fantasy/time travel/romance and is really the first part of what is likely to become a series. I am currently working on the next book, “Switchback”.
Cecily lives in North Queensland and has had some success in entering short story competitions and enjoys creating characters and story lines for stories for children and young adults. She is part of local writing group, Licuala/WINQ, who are a constant source of fun and inspiration.
When not writing, Cecily loves reading historical novels and enjoys many of the Young Adult novels that her grandchildren read.
19 May 2013
It was completely fascinating watching the news this week. Whilst many of you may be been glued to budget announcements, (I certainly was – for a while) I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the story from Henry Samuel in Paris about the apartment which was discovered untouched, after 70 years without occupancy.
Like commentators the world over, the story of Mrs de Florian, who was considered a ‘demimondaine’ (a woman supported by a wealthy lover !), is fascinating as it leaves too many questions – much like a fabulously intriguing novel! Why on earth didn’t she return to her home? Did she know her grandmother was the muse of Giovanni Boldini? Given there are no family members know, who on earth receives the proceeds from the sale of the Boldini paintings and all the other incredible treasures discovered in the apartment?
Leaving an article, which leaves more questions than it does answers is intriguing and mildly exhilarating. It creates an opportunity to wander around Googling, discovering link after link and the story gets richer with more and more supporting information.
What then happens when you leave a book, with more questions than answers? There is a school of thought, which says you must bundle up the story with a satisfying ending or the reader will be cranky with you! Like all rules that are to be adhered to, when you read a book by an author who spectacularly breaks them, it is indeed an extraordinary reading experience.
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life came to my attention because we were talking ‘book trailers’ in my writers group and I was sent the link. The trailer was interesting enough to ensure I bought the book! I didn’t know anything about the author, her history, where she had come from… A bit like Mrs de Florian, a mystery!
The reading experience was, well, I said it before, extraordinary. Kate explores what happens to a character when given another chance at life – the same life. Each time, until death, giving her an opportunity to make different decisions which impact on the path the character then takes. You can tell Kate uses the backdrop of World War II to explore the concept of self-preservation and listening to our own instincts.
I can only imagine Mrs de Florian listened to her own instincts and didn’t return to her apartment. She would undoubtedly known the rules of society and then she broke them.
Imagine what an incredible author she would have been.
(PS – the Getty Image was from MessyNessy’s blog – the image wasn’t included in the Telegraph slideshow)
17 May 2013
As the Sydney Writers Festival counts down to starting on Monday, readers and writers will be flocking to venues around this city, hoping to glimpse an insight into the novelists story and certainly, how they managed to get to this stage (both literal and figurative!) It was so timely to ask the writers’ web authors what their insight was into the working process of creating their manuscripts / books. They have all taken the next step from desk to door and are out ‘there’ sharing their work with the world. The question for them - What is the one fabulous thing you do to get yourself into the right frame of mind / the swing of things to write ?
Matthew Nicholls has sage advise about making writing ‘routine, routine, routine. Allocate time every day and off you go!!! It helps if you call yourself a writer, then you have to do it to justify your existence’.
Footnote: As more replies roll in the door, I will keep adding to these comments. I am completely inspired by those above and am even feeling the sense of achievement from contributing the introduction to this blog. More words the merrier…
16 May 2013
This a reality read based on the true story of a 52 year old, single career woman who is confronted with the inevitable crossroads of life. She is bored, restless and searching for adventure. Despite the best intended advice from family and friends she decides to sell her townhouse in the city, quit her career, desert her family and leave behind the one true love of her life and go west in the pursuit of the unknown.
For the next three years Sherylena finds herself in some very new, unusual and challenging situations and is forced to confront some ghosts from her past when her estranged mother becomes terminally ill. Her lover and best friend Pete struggles to set her free and she questions whether she is tough enough to survive in this town where she doesn’t know a soul and the conditions are harsh.
She has no option but to accept theses challenges head on with passion, courage and tenacity of spirit as she plays the hand she is dealt, determined to find some happiness in the spaces in-between.
Sherylena’s Rollercoaster is in the bookstore now for $2.99 for a PDF eBook and $14.99 for a hardcopy book.
15 May 2013
Alex Pellerman is a disgraced businessman, once jailed for fraud and now a drunken vagrant. Alcohol and self-pity have engulfed his life as he lives on the streets around Sydney’s Central Railway Station.
Pellerman witnesses the brutal murder of lawyer, Andrew Rutlidge by illicit drug dealer, Tong Kew. In a moment of drunken stupidity, Pellerman switches clothes with the dead lawyer. When the police and Tong Kew discover the switch Pellerman becomes a hunted man.
As he struggles against his addiction and seeks to clear his name, sobriety clarifies his thinking and he turns to Nicky Holland, a Salvation Army counsellor. As she becomes involved in Pellerman’s perilous situation the two discover a deep love for one another.
The writers’ web reviewers unanimously enjoyed The Rutlidge Profiles. This is what they had to say:
“From the first paragraph I was hooked. A good book is one you don’t want to put down until it is finished – this is an exceptional book. The characters were realistic, and even though there are quite a few, the way it is written I had no problem following the story as it crossed from one to the other. Dialogue was natural and flowed easily, a few expletives that I thought was unnecessary as the story was so good they weren’t warranted. You painted strong word pictures that transported me into your story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wish you well with your book.” Coral Nichols
“The Rutlidge Profiles is a fast paced book of crime fiction. I enjoyed the book and think anyone with an interest in the underworld crime scene of drugs, murder and corruption, would find it an enjoyable read. It is cleverly put together by using the unexplained death of a man involved in money laundering from a huge drug ring based in Malaysia and Australia. It is a complex story of deceit and corruption. Just when you think all will be well some other facet turns up to keep you gripped.” Diane O’Nions
‘More twists and turns than a couple dancing the tango. Neil McInnes’s, crime thriller The Rutlidge Profiles is a fast paced, gripping ride from start to finish. With a cast of well rounded and believable characters, McInnes creates a crime thriller of plots and sub-plots with impressive dexterity.” Melissa Barnett
I really enjoyed this book by Neil McInnes and it is refreshing to read about Australia and Sydney, where I spent some years. The story is well crafted, extremely well researched and is developed slowly and increases in speed until the conclusion, which is fast paced and exciting. The characters are strong and believable with all the traits one would expect in a deep and disturbing mystery. This is a well written story and apart from a couple of typos, is in a style that is both gripping and absorbing. I enjoyed the developing relationship between Alex and Nicky, his Salvation Army counsellor. This gave the story a human perspective that appealed to me. The portrayal of the Police officers is insightful and disturbing and yet so very accurate. The language was authentic and as I would expect in the circumstance. However, it is the unravelling story of the devious Andrew Rutlidge that really gripped me and how he manipulated the business affairs of the Crime Boss, Tong Kew. This character is truly evil and his depiction is masterful.I enjoyed the portrayal of the drunken vagrant, Alex Pellerman and his fight to overcome his alcohol addiction and at the same time attempting to clear his name; I felt this was the message from the story. The scenes of him fighting his demons and dodging the ‘heavies’ was well written and showed a compassion to others who have unfortunately been in a similar position in life. This is definitely an adult book and is an excellent mystery and with a sting in the tail that will appeal to all readers of Australian dramas. I found myself cheering for Alex all the way. A good read and I look forward to reading more by this talented author.” Pete Loveday
“The book is written from the third-person point of view, initially opening from Rutlidge’s perspective but switching, at the time of his murder, to Pellerman’s. From then on the story is told largely from this point of view, although at times also from that of the investigating police members, the crime boss and other key players. There are distinct voices used for the different characters and, with the exception of one or two of them, the characters and their interactions are believable and well-developed over the course of the book. I like that the book is set in Sydney. Although it is not a city I know well, many of the landmarks and locations are familiar and this drew me further into the story. I appreciate that this book is not only well written but also well-edited and a compelling read. It has a great build up that left me turning the pages as fast as I could.” Sarah Day
“The book was an ‘easy read’ for me. The storyline flowed well, the characters were developed as much as necessary for the story, the writing style and language used suited the storyline and there were no ‘glaring’ grammatical errors that interrupted my enjoyment of the story. The character of Alex was developed well with his constant craving for alcohol and how this made him feel as well as his feelings about people from his previous life (before prison) being included quite naturally in the story. It was easy to follow how these feelings and thought processes influenced his actions. The only thing that I had difficulty with was the unlikelihood of Alex’s love interest, Nicky – a Salvation Army Counsellor/Officer – sleeping with him. That’s not the image I have of Salvation Army Officers. I appreciated the storyline, not so convoluted that I had to backtrack to make sure what was going on and the variety of characters and the insights into some of the characters’ thought processes.” Sharyn Macdonald
Author, Neil McInnes (right) began writing fiction after he sold his consultancy business and retired in 2006. Since then Neil has written five novels, three screenplays and numerous short stories. He says, “I have a vivid imagination, a love of books and immense pleasure from creating stories that others may enjoy reading. Usually I have an outline of the story in my mind when I commence. I break my story into three acts then begin typing, jumping from one chapter to another as the plot evolves. I know this is not a very structured method of writing a 500 page novel, but once I get started the words seem to flow.”
10 May 2013
I finally bit the bullet and joined the rest of the e-world by purchasing an eBook from Amazon to read on my laptop.
The process was incredibly easy, cheap and immediate. So far, so good.
The problem was, as I read this “how to” book about writing, there were three typos within which caused me to pause and think.
They gave a bad impression of the book and author, undermining the credibility of the work.
So, take two.
This time I purchased a hardcopy novel from a mainstream big-name publisher in order to review it, and guess what? Same thing. But there was only one typo this time. Should I be happy about this degree of improvement over the eBook? I don’t think so.
This error-spotting happens in nearly every paper-in-hand book I read these days, no matter the size or “credibility” of the publisher.
The ex-teacher in me emerges as I firstly circle the mistake and then mark the page. I always feel let down when I find an error. And disappointed. I tell myself I should let the publisher know, but have never actually done that (yet!).
Ten years ago, how rare was it to find a typo in a book? Exactly – never!
It seems that with publishing being stretched and squeezed from every direction, effective editing has left the building.
What remains is the sullied reputation of the writers taken on by publishers, as in the brave new world of book production, editing is one of the key value-adds that traditional publishers still offer authors.
As we all know, it is impossible to edit what you have written yourself – that’s why someone else’s fresh eyes get involved. There’s certainly a lot of skill required to take a manuscript from emerging to a standard polished enough for publication.
So maybe this is just the way that it is now. Mistakes in every book, typos are the norm and instead of getting frustrated with it, I (we) need to get used to it.
Surely near enough is good enough?
07 May 2013
For the past hour, I have been looking at the lists of writers groups in Victoria and Queensland (yes, so we can tell them about writers’ web!) and I was absolutely astounded by the number of organisations it is possible to be part of if you are a writer. I had the sense that if you really wanted to find a writers’ group, you certainly could find a location near you, and that is only the physical ones, I didn’t even start with on-line forums and groups.
Curiosity (and a need to procrastinate a tad before tackling Western Australia!) meant I was thinking about why we flock to writers’ groups, indeed any groups.
According to Dr David McMillan, the theory of community was first conceptualised in 1976 in a working paper of the Centre for Community Studies. McMillan expands on this by describing a sense of community as having elements of membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs and a shared emotional connection.
I recently fielded an enquiry from a person who had relocated and was looking for a group. I could sense the sadness he felt leaving his previous group – they definitely filled all the boxes and some, and I am afraid our little group may have seemed a little lack-lustre. I beseeched him to give it a go for when you give anything time, a relationship can develop. Then all the good stuff follows!
To find a perfect opportunity to explore and discover a writers group near you, all the major state writing organisations have wonderful lists on their sites.
05 May 2013
03 May 2013
01 May 2013
Sometimes their displays of daring come in the form of action; other times, pure resourcefulness saves the day.
Don’t let the teenagers in your life miss this opportunity to connect with eight wonderful characters, some boys, some girls, as they negotiate life’s challenges in a mostly high school setting.
What the writers’ web reviewers think about the book?
Britney Calkwell - “It is a book of seven short stories, it would be perfect for teen’s in grade 8 or 9. My favourite short story was ‘take your partner’ because I could relate to it when I started my dance class last year. I thought that the stories were well written because they related to real life issues and the way he wrote it made me feel like he was writing from his own experiences.”
Chloe Hickson – “This is a wonderful book by Coral Nichols. A selection of short, straight to the point stories which are pertinent to teenagers and issues many of them face. The stories range from situations in which teenagers are struggling with finding their own independence v’s parent boundaries, students struggling at school, kids who experience drunken violence and loss, issues with starting at new schools and bullies. One story presents an interesting perspective of a private boarding school but continues to demonstrate that people are individuals regardless of their backgrounds and kids can achieve what they want to when they set their minds to it.
The stories are engaging, well written and excellent in highlighting issues and struggles for teenagers. They are written in a manner that is not too verbose but provides obvious detailed understanding of an issue and gives solutions as well. It is these factors which make them appealing to read and in addition help teenagers recognise issues and look for solutions. The act of kindness and helping others is a strong theme throughout these stories, as well as self belief and communication. In these stories, the kids are indeed courageous.
Kid Courageous would be suitable for all teenagers, and highly recommended by parents!”
Yonghui Tao – “Kid Courageous is an exciting book of short stories about teenagers and their various challenges. It explored both genders and issues range from the nerve-racking first day at a new school to the reality of domestic violence.
I enjoyed the way the author presented the stories and they were very descriptive yet easy to understand and follow. I would recommend this novel to teenagers because they would easily relate to the issues presented. The novel is 100% told from the teenager’s point of view. It was a fantastic book!”
Author, Coral Nichols has been writing since she was a child and self published Kid Courageous after attaining a Diploma in Journalism and Professional Children’s Writing and Certificates in Competition Writing and Practical Editing Techniques. Coral has entered many competitions gaining places or being short listed. She says, “I have at least another eight children’s books waiting to be published and also an adult novel.”
Kid Courageous is available as a PDF eBook from the bookstore for $9.99.
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