Monday 28 February 2011


Hello to you all! And welcome to the approx. 100 new followers who've joined me since I launched my Publication Party! I've been getting around to you slowly, but many of you are not linked through google friend, so unless you leave a comment I cannot find you. Many bloggers are having this problem!

Some of you in my crusader groups are old friends, some new and some very shiny new! It is going to be fun following all your latest posts and commenting. I haven't finished going round following you all on twitter yet, but I will make sure I do asap.

i've just popped out to make us a badge. Take it to display near your Romance feed.

So welcome:

  • Raquel Byrnes
  • Tara
  • Tina D C Hayes
  • Lynnette Labelle
  • J L Campbell
  • Summer Ross
  • Savannah Chase
  • Charlotte McClain
  • Liz Fichera
  • Margo Benson
  • Kerrin Hearfield
  • Nas Dean
  • Hope Welsh
  • Alyssa Fox
  • Gina Blechman
  • Deniz Bevan
I've finally finished linking you all in my left sidebar. Hopefully we can encourage each other on our romance-writing journey.

Congratulations to those who made the final cut in the first Crusader Challenge - woo hoo! Can't wait to see who won this fun writing challenge. Oh, and for my crusader challenge most people thought I was lying about my son's fuliguline - no! So true! I have his flawed pottery dog and love it. My lie was that I'm a dust collector. I don't like lots of stuff to dust. Who does?

Thursday 24 February 2011

Christchurch NZ earthquake. Publication Party! Seventh and final session. Author Ann Best. Win a critique or the Grand Prize!

Before our session gets underway I want to offer my thoughts and prayers to those across the Tasman Sea in Christchurch New Zealand, who are enduring yet another earthquake disaster. This time there has been an appalling loss of life as it happened when people were at work. Many of these high-rise buildings have collapsed. It looks like a war zone over there. Queensland has sent many Search & Rescue personnel and equipment across to help in the recovery/retrieval operations. Help has been offered from around the world. People are sending messages from the mobile phones from amongst the rubble. Hopefully there will be many more survivors...

Now, amidst yet another tragedy, life goes on. Ann Best has been waiting in the wings to speak to us.


Hello one and all! Today is our final session of our memorable publishing series. I, and so many other aspiring authors, have learned so much from very hard-working, never-give-up speakers. I've found each and every session an inspiration and as this series comes to a close I will be able to go back over each session and follow through many of the links I've not yet found the time to thus far. 

So, a big thank you to all you wonderful authors: Christine Bell, Clarissa Draper, Alex J Cavanaugh, Helen M Hunt, Lisa Maliga, N.R. Williams and today Ann Carbine Best. If you're new to the Publication Party concept, it would pay to go back and read over the sessions. I've provided the links at the end.

Now before we get started I must announce the winners from last week's session. The winner of the critique is Zan Marie and the winner of the e-book is Kari White. Congratulations ladies. Contact N. R. Williams directly for your goodies. Her email is: 

Ann Carbine Best was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now lives in the Shenandoah Valley, her favourite place, where she is full-time caregiver of her disabled daughter. Ann lives not far from her and Larry's other three children and seven grandchildren.  She started writing when she was in elementary school, and for sixty years has never stopped. During this time she gained a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing. Over the years, she has published and won awards for stories, personal essays, and poetry, and is currently plotting a MG novel, a YA novel and two novella-length memoirs. Her first full-length memoir, In the Mirror, is scheduled for publication by WiDo Publishing company this spring.

“I’ve lived long enough,” she says, “to write memoir.”

Over to you, Ann. Tell us about your writing journey.

Thank you Denise and welcome to you all here today. My journey is longer than most of the speakers who have addressed this enthusiastic group, but this just proves that every writer's journey is unique.

I was born in 1940. The Forties and Fifties was a great time to grow up. I was born at the beginning of World War Two, but I don’t remember anything about it. But I do remember the first story I wrote. I was in sixth grade. “Call of the Canyon” was its title. I don’t remember anything about it, but I do remember that the teacher had very shy me stand in front of the class and read it.

This hooked me on writing, and performing (I did oratory and debate in high school).

I didn’t buy books. I couldn’t afford them. During my teenage years, I rode my bicycle spring, summer, and fall to the local library, and checked out historical fiction and short story collections. I read a lot of the O. Henry Award stories. I loved the short story.

I loved reading and writing as far back as I can remember. It was my main interest (I also liked photography but never had the money to buy the equipment). My goal was always to be a published writer.

When I was about eleven, I started reading my country cousins’ collection of Nancy Drew mysteries. I wanted to write one like them. I couldn’t compose very well on Mama’s old Underwood typewriter, and so when I was twelve, in longhand on pencil tablets I wrote two Susan Benson mysteries. I also began writing improbable romances, all of them long since lost. The only romance I vaguely remember was based on a song from the Fifties: “Blue Star when I am blue, all I do is look at you.” I laboriously typed it then sent it to Redbook magazine. It promptly came back, rejected.

This was the golden age of the magazine market. Oh, those were the days! Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, McCall’s, Collier’s, the weekly Saturday Evening Post all published short stories. There were also several prominent teen magazines. I was a senior in high school when I submitted a short story to a Seventeen magazine contest. My name appeared with several others who received special commendation.

As an undergraduate in college, I took all the creative writing and literature classes I could handle. My stories, essays, and poems were published in the campus magazines. I won awards for some of them.

I married when I was twenty-one, and divorced my husband when I was forty because he wanted to live with his gay lover. Two years later I moved from Utah to Virginia to go to graduate school. The last eight years of my first marriage was the subject of the creative writing thesis I wrote for my Master of Fine Arts degree, a thesis that became the basis, twenty-five years later, for my soon-to-be-published memoir.

Personal experience has turned out to be the underlying successful factor in my writing. As well as my age. I can see life as a whole and my life more clearly at age seventy than I could even ten years ago. “Emotion recollected in tranquility,” as the poet Wordsworth said. In graduate school, I thought I was “tranquil” enough to write about my past--but I wasn’t! But I tried, and am so glad I decided to take my not-so-well-written thesis and try to turn it into a book worth someone’s time to read.

It’s been a long journey, but a fun one. I never dreamed when I typed my stories on typewriters the current generation sees only in photographs that one day I would be composing on a computer that doesn’t require making corrections on multiple copies. And that I would be making friends worldwide through blogging. Thank you, all of you, for making my writing journey so enjoyable.

I have learned that all things are possible for those who never give up on their dream. It might not come true the way you imagined, but that’s okay. What would life be without the surprises, even the not-so-good ones!

The biggest surprise was a small press accepting my manuscript. WiDo Publishing. It was the only press that I felt was a “fit” for my book. Happily, they accepted it, and worked with me for months on the editing. It needed good editors! I see now that I could have self-published, but I’m glad I didn’t have to. But either way, these days the author needs to do a lot of self-promoting. It’s a new publishing world out there. My memoir In the Mirror will be released shortly.

In the Mirror by Ann Carbine Best is the memoir of a woman who planned on her marriage lasting forever.
When Ann marries Larry in September of 1961, she’s certain he will be that eternal companion. Eleven years later, she is devastated to learn that he’s been having affairs with men. She wants to help him. She wants to save her marriage.
However, powerful emotions pull Larry away from his family, and eight years later their marriage ends. As a single parent, Ann is now faced with four grieving children who don’t want to leave their father and their home in Utah Valley. But Ann needs to start a new life in a new place.
In the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Ann at last makes peace with the past.

ISBN (print): 978-0-9830238-5-2

ISBN (ebook): 978-0-9830238-6-9

You can visit Ann at her blog Long Journey Home.


Ann is happy to offer a critique for any one, any two, or all three of these: a pitch, a synopsis, ideas for memoirs. Please tell us in the comments if you want to take up Ann's kind offer.


For those who have attended every party, your name goes into the draw to win: Typo book bag, Aussie Author Di Morrissy's The Last Mile Home, Fast Fiction magazine, filled with short stories from writers all over the world (next edition contains one of mine, woo hoo!), Typo desk calendar, Enchantez writer's notebook and a koala bookmark.

I hope the prize spurs you on to go back and read the previous posts.

Christine Bell
Clarissa Draper
Alex J Cavanaugh
Helen M Hunt
Lisa Maliga
N.R. Williams

Now, where do I go from here? Any suggestions?

Monday 21 February 2011

Little people rock! Indie Bookstores Galore.

Avid Reader, Indie Bookstore, West End, Brisbane.

Well you'd have to be living under a rock or in a cave not to have heard that a couple of the Big Bookstore chains are filing for bankruptcy. I've read a lot about it on my American friends' blogs. I'm sure Borders, Angus & Robertson et al do great stuff for authors and such in America but not in Oz where they're just selling points. The stores are fun to browse (especially Borders) but I don't usually buy from them, being rather drawn to the little guys...indie bookstores. In Oz, indie bookstores are rockin' and always have done, as we're a nation that just loves the little guy, the underdog. It's one of our most endearing quirks I think.

Did you know that in Oz, indie bookstores account for 20% of total book sales, whilst in America the indies only have 8% of market share and in the UK a pathetic 3%? (I got this hot off the press in our newspapers today!) I can well believe it as most every little town here has a bookstore or two, and you can't walk a city block without tripping over a couple. There's a quirky, alternative suburb next to the city of Brisbane - West End - I've lost count of how many indie bookstores there are over that way! I can walk across the river and browse for hours at cute little bookshops like Bent Books (above).

Why are indie stores so popular here? Probably because of the slower pace of life - we like to stop and smell the roses as they say. So that transcends into loving finding an indie bookstore or two or three where we can go and chat to an owner/sales assistant who's having trouble getting their nose out of a book behind the counter. Indie stores hook you in here because they are manned/womanned by book lovers for book lovers.

Fiona Stager who is the co-founder of Avid Reader, a drool-worthy bookstore in West End, verifies my previous comment. She says: 'It's often the service, the experience, the interaction with passionate readers and knowledgeable staff, the events program, book clubs - these are what will save independent booksellers.' (Currently Avid is hosting an art exhibition which has raised $3,000 so far for Q'ld flood victims.) 

Bill Concannon, chief executive of Mary Ryan Bookstores (where you can sup at a wonderful cafe whilst you read) says: 'We're like the village well of old where people would meet up as part of their routine.' I love that image and feel it's close to the truth. Bill said '...independents could run profitable businesses if they were prudent, gave exceptional service and interacted with customers.' He goes on to say: 'It's what the e-book will never be able to offer.' (Not that I'm not a supporter of the e-book!)

The Fair Imports Alliance slapped part of the blame for the book giants going into administration on online Oz forty to sixty percent are made to overseas companies.

I'm not smug about indie bookstores in Oz. I know times are tough for businesses as a whole, but I have high hopes for the continuance of the indie bookstore.

 Jessica Rudd, author, daughter of ex-PM Kevin Rudd (now Foreign Minister) and his wife, Theresa Rein, at an indie bookshop on the release of Jessica's first book.

Saturday 19 February 2011

First Crusader Challenge - Check out the Publication Party below!

The founder of the Writer's Platform-Building Crusade has set the first writing challenge. In Rachel Harrie's words: 'It’s a bit of a getting-to-know-you exercise with a little bit of a twist.'

The challenge is to write 300 words or less, telling readers one secret, one lie, one interesting quirk, one annoying habit · one of your best character traits, and one of your favourite things in the whole world.

All of that sounds hunkey dorey, but the challenge lies in using random words: “bloviate,” “fuliguline,” “rabbit,” and “blade”. Er, what's that you say? They are actual words, so excuse me while I google their meaning!

Right! Not that it makes it any easier to actually know what these little suckers mean, but now I see I have to finish my post with something along the lines of, “I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true, can you guess what it is?” And then I have to give the answer in my next post!

After all that kerfuffle, here is my entry:

One of my most precious possessions is a fuliguline made by my son. Only a mother would love it - it's downright ugly - but it takes pride of place among my notorious collection of dust-gathering figurines. I'm not a bone collector, I'm a dust collecter. When I run out of inspiration and find myself darting about like some rabbit (er, rabbiting along I think that's called), I grab my trusty blade and head off into fuliguline-ville and work on my scenes for the fantasy epic I'm writing. Why a blade? Well, you can't feint and slash with a duster, that's so 1950s.

I tend to bloviate so did I keep under 300 words?

I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true, can you guess what it is?

All my trusty followers are invited to comment on this post if you find anything worth commenting about. Do you think I've got a good mixture of fun/fact/fantasy in my few words?

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Publication Party Session 6 - fantasy author N R Williams

Welcome again to all! It seems every week we learn something new from our guest speakers. Last week we heard from Lisa Maliga who warned us of some of the pitfalls within the publishing industry. Today we learn the route N R Williams took to become a published author. The common message I'm getting is that it takes hard work and determination to become published whatever route you choose. 

Before we proceed, I ask you all to grab a drink and put your hands together for last week's winner of Lisa Maliga's e-book Notes from Nadir. Congratulations Ellie. Contact Lisa directly and make arrangements to receive this wonderful book onto your kindle.

Now let me introduce Nancy.

N. R. Williams lives in Colorado, U.S.A. with her husband. She is delighted to have two three year old grandchildren, cousins. She’s a long time member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has been privileged to attend conferences and workshops. Since her formative years, she’s been inventing fantastical stories and since she could spell she’s been writing them down. While she majored in art in college, she didn’t make a living at it. Now, she uses her skills of observation to create fantastical worlds, interesting characters and stories that touch the heart.

Thank you Denise for hosting such a timely subject of publishing for all of us authors and for letting me grace your blog.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I self published my epic fantasy as an e-book in Dec. 2010, and just finished a blog book tour to promote, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, in Jan. 2011.

So here is the burning question: Why did I choose to self publish my book as an e-book? Did I try traditional publishing? Did I query editors and agents?

Answer: Yes, I did query both, I pitched my book in person to both, and I sent out many letters and was rejected. However, I was also asked for partials or the complete manuscript. In every case, not just a few, who actually read some of my writing, they replied that they “loved it, but it’s not right for us.” Yes, I know publishers and agents like to say that, but I also had over fifty people to read the book for feedback. I was told they couldn’t put it down. At one point I had two co-workers fighting over who would get the next chapter. All this before I hired an editor.

Because of the reaction of my test readers, I was confident that I had an excellent story.

Turning point is not just for our stories, it happens in real life too. I had two. The first was three years ago at The Colorado Gold Conference, hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, of whom I’ve been a member for years. (RMFW)

I had a two minute pitch, my fourth. I sat down across from this agent and began by introducing myself. She said, “How long have you been a member of RMFW? Why aren’t you published yet?”

I answered the best I could, began again, she interrupted to say, “Why aren’t you published yet?”

I answered and began again and she interrupted again with, well, by now you can guess. Was she rude? You bet. I was hurt, and I couldn’t get over it. I stopped writing altogether. I still monitored my critique group, but I didn’t take anything. Fast forward nine months later to May 2010. Okay…I didn’t connect the dots to realize until just now that nine months is significant in giving birth.

I began to meet with a fellow member of RMFW, Lynda Hilburn. She writes sexy, x-rated, vampire stories and is published, but had lost her publisher and just wanted to get together with a few other writers to talk about the publishing industry. I figured it couldn’t hurt for me to join in. It seems that every author has their share of horror stories, in Lynda’s case it was her previous publisher. Lynda had the e-rights to her novels and decided to put them up on Amazon.

Here’s the difference between us:

Lynda is a published author and had a following already. She had two books on Amazon kindle and smashwords, that were also paper books, but no longer available as paper. The first month, April, she earned $300 from the sale of her two e-books. By the end of May she was making $1,000 a month, making Lynda one of many authors on Amazon kindle's best seller list. She also added a novella and as of this writing has signed with a new publisher.

I am an unknown author. At this writing I have just put my first book on Amazon kindle, and smashwords, who distribute to Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Borders and others. I have plans to write two novellas this year, one to complement my epic fantasy and the other with a completely different setting and a phoenix heroine. I also plan to complete the next book in my epic fantasy series, titled: The Rise of Lord Sinon.

I didn’t do any of this blindly. I did research. I had first had knowledge of Lynda’s case and that was followed by many articles that I’ve read online. In many cases the experience of some was outstanding. But there are also those who don’t do well at all.

So, here’s what you must do:

Write the best story you can.
Get an editor and multiple eyes on it before you publish it.
Hire a professional illustrator (unless you are a professional illustrator.)

You can publish without doing any of that. But if you put out junk, no one will ever buy your books again. Amazon has multiple book covers to choose from but they are also on multiple books. You want yours to stand out.

Now that you have a gem, it’s time to put on your business hat.

You must promote your book. If you don’t you will fail. Do a blog book tour. Use CreateSpace or another such site to give you a print copy. Do book signings. Offer to meet with a book club. Join Goodreads. Ask others to read your book and do a review. Pay for the book so they don’t have to. Don’t expect to make a lot overnight. Especially if you are an unknown writer.

If you are close to publishing and need inspiration, go to this link and read what Joe Konrath of a Newbie's Guide to Publishing has to say:

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Currently, I'm selling an average of 7000 self-pubbed ebooks a month on Kindle. Those numbers are for 19 self-pubbed titles, though the top 6 account for more than 75% of my sales, roughly 5000 per month.

That means those six are averaging 833 sales, or $1700, per month, each. That equals $20,400 per year, per ebook, for my top sellers.

Those six are my top sellers because they're novels. My other 13 ebooks are novellas and short story collections, which don't sell as well.

Considering the average advance for a new novel is still $5,000, each of these ebook novels is quadrupling that, annually. And these numbers are rising, not falling.

Read the entire article, it’s worth your time.

Note how many books he has available: 19

This, my friends, is a numbers game. Now that you have paid your dues and you know how to write…do so.

Other web sites to help you:

2010 The Year Self-Publishing Lost Its Stigma, at PBS.

Ever heard of EPICA? Check them out for the latest news, contests, etc. on e-publishing.

The Blood Red Pencil did an entire series on this subject. To find, go there and in the search this blog type in e publishing.

N. R. Williams (Nancy).

Whoa, Nancy, that was super! Such a lot of info and links today. I hope your talk inspires all aspiring authors to polish off that story and hit the e-publishing road.

Now before our session ends a word about the PRIZES. N.R. Williams is happy to give away a copy of her e-book, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, as well as offer a chapter critique on a lucky someone's WIP.

Here's a little about The Treasures of Carmelidrium to help you decide if you'd like a copy:

When a hooded man steps in front of her car, Missie is thrust through a portal into a medieval world where she encounters monsters and mythical creatures. Here, her flute has magical powers to heal and destroy and to empower “The Treasures of Carmelidrium.” She is romanced by a prince and hunted by the villain. Will she find her way home? Does she want to?

THE TREASURES OF CARMELIDRIUM is available at Amazon for Kindle and Amazon UK for Kindle. The book is being sold for $2.99 until July 1, 2011 when it will increase.  

 Before you leave, please do the following:

•please leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's ebook prize or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series - next week is the last session (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...) I attached links to all previous sessions in session number four's post.

•ask Nancy a question or two
•if you're published (book/short stories), tell us about it in the comments
•e-mail me @ if you'd like to find a Crit Partner.

Thanks for stopping by. Winners will be announced at our final Publication Party next week, Wednesday 23 February when author Ann Carbine Best will be speaking to us. Now isn't that going to be exciting!

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Weekly round-up - blogfests, contests, crusade, book reviews, awards, publication success...

Hi all! Enough of the lazy words (previous post.) I had such fun writing that post and many of you got a good laugh. It also helps us focus on our revisions where we're looking for all our lazy words, punctuation foibles and bad grammar/tenses. Don't forget to click on the Writer's Knowledge Base in my right sidebar if you need any more help.

If you'd like to read a family tale of sisterly love which never gives up, I've reviewed the thriller Sister, by Rosamund Upton, on the book review blog, Reading at Dawn. We'd love you to visit and have a read of the great reviews. We post two reviews a week and love visitors.

Tomorrow is the Bernard Pivot Blogfest where you answer 10 random questions. My post is prepared and raring to go on my Paris blog, Pichets in Paris. Go there tomorrow to read mine. You know it won't be boring.

The blogospere is excited to see Roland Yeomans @ Writing in the Crosshairs has published his e-book. Roland's prose is just so spellbinding. If you don't follow Roland you need to. He publishes his stories on his blog on a regular basis. Roland's book cover was designed by another awesome blogger, Michael at time. Check Michael's blog for great posts, currently many of us are enjoying his Earthly Angels series of posts.

The Writer's Platform-Building Crusade has started. Note the cute badge in my left sidebar. What does that mean? Just that I'll be participating in writing/judging the evil contests that Rachel Harrie dreams up for the 200+ crusaders. Can't wait. Some of this craziness may be posted right here.

Lots of lovely awards floating around. Note in my right sidebar some encouraging awards made by fellow bloggers wanting to share the love. Thank you!

J. C. Martin @ Fighter Writer has an awesome contest starting March 4. The challenge is to write a 300-word short story showing a race for survival. There are prizes. I'm posting that one on my Flashquake blog where you'll find the button/details.

Oh and see the lovely Len Lambert's contest in my right-hand sidebar. Go Len!

So much more is happening, but that's a few things before I launch into the sixth session of the Publication Party tomorrow - N.R. Williams - don't miss her!

Sunday 13 February 2011

Lazy Words. Er, um, like, do you use them too?

Well, I was sorta like reading the weekend papers when I came across this article by a regular contributor who makes me roll around the floor clutching her witticisms, but she really made me think today...and cringe...

She points out that there is a trend to use words as punctuation marks as we speak to each other, and ummm, aaah, I've found that these words are like creeping into my writing too! Just like my over-use of exclamation marks!!! So I think I need to take a nice, deep, uh, breath and think about this.

Guilty! I use lazy words, do you?

The writer calls them verbal crutches, words that prop up a sentence that is limping along, a resting word to lean on when your brain is blown or feeling a tad, like, sluggish. Sometimes in Queensland it's just too darned like hot to finish a sentence before it gets eaten by humidity.

Well, along with the writer, I've noticed that this trend is rife in youngsters, well, like, those younger than some of us, like, we can actually read and er, write as well as speak. A teen made me laugh out loud when she said 'I really like like Thai food.' My befuddled brain was left to, er, wondering if she meant like 'I like the food, but in a kinda-like way.' Sort of like, a double eardrum assault.

Then there's the 'you know,' or 'y'no', like a quick tongue-trip. Some say 'Do you know what I mean?' or 'd'yanowotimin?' which actually like means 'Are you listening to me??' (Well, why would you?) 

Ever heard someone use 'sort of' or 'sort of like'. Like 'I'm feeling sort of like um depressed?' No wonder.

The word 'necessarily' is a good lean-on word which has no influence on the words preceding or following it, nicely bastardising a sentence, allowing the brain-damaged a rest. 'I don't n.e.c.e.s.s.a.r.i.l.y feel that it would be a good idea...' 'I suppose' is also a good meaningless flourish to add to the beginning or end of any sentence...I suppose.

What about 'in reality? 'In reality I just don't care about going shopping today.' The lazier version: 'I suppose, in reality, I don't kinda-like necessarily want to buy that ummm dress d'yanowotimin?'

Another old favourite with oldies: 'and so forth.' 'I went and visited the doctor and so forth and what have you.' Well, what have you? I ask you?

The worst thing about lazy words is that they're contagious. You catch them like a yawn. When I find myself spouting forth with the lazy words I'm like hearing all around me I immediately head to the bathroom to clean my mouth out with er, soap. I kinda think you all know what I mean, like?


Thanks to Ruth Ostrow who must have, like, been eavesdropping...

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Publication Party! Session Five - author Lisa Maliga

Welcome, everyone, to our fifth session! Last week we enjoyed Helen M Hunt speaking about her first love, writing short stories which many of you found so helpful. This week we move to the world of novel and non-fiction writing with the wonderful storyteller, Lisa Maliga.

Today I thought we'd meet virtually at the source - the Champagne region of France. In case you haven't worked it out, I'm rather partial to good bubbles. So grab a glass of this exquisite tipple, and a hunk of one of those 400+ varieties of cheese, find a seat amongst the chateau grounds, and let's not miss a word the delightful Lisa speaks. Therein lies a cautionary tale...

But first, the prize winners from last week. The short-story partial critique goes to kangaroobee, and the book of short stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, goes to Margo Benson. Congratulations to you both. kangaroobee, contact Helen directly on her blog. I'll contact you for your address shortly Margo.

Now, here is a short bio of Lisa Maliga (sans photo):

Lisa Maliga is the author of four novels and a short story collection. She has written numerous articles on pets, horse therapy, skating, Buddhism, celebrities, and bath & body products. She is co-authoring a nonfiction paranormal book which will be released later this month. Visit Lisa @ "Leaving Nadir", the sequel to the amazing "Notes from Nadir" will be returning this spring.

Thank you Denise for inviting me to the Publication Party!

A decade ago I thought my writing career was going to be launched when an assistant editor at a large publishing house showed interest in one of my novels. She sent me a two-page letter filled with advice on how to improve my manuscript. I made all the suggested changes and sent the revised manuscript back to her. And I waited. And waited. Ten months later it was returned. By someone else. She no longer worked there.

Then I learned about e-publishing and how it was the "wave of the future." People could buy an e-reader or sit in front of their computers and read a book. It was also easy to get published. From 2000 until 2005 I've had books with various e-publishers. The problem was that I entrusted my work with people who had good intentions but not much business sense. I eventually withdrew all my titles I'd placed on sites and the rights reverted back to me.

In 2009 I knew I had to write about my time in Nadir. The best way to do so would be to create a blog and write in increments. In March, I began the blog, having written close to half my story in advance. I attracted an audience and some of the comments that were made helped me finish the book. Then I began revising it and expanding it to include my family members. I worked with an editor. By the end of October 2010 it was available on Kindle.

It's difficult to give advice as every writer is unique. If going the indie publishing route, writers need to have their work ready for people to read. It needs to be edited. The description of your work must be enticing. The cover art should capture a prospective reader's attention. Make sure the manuscript is formatted professionally.

If seeking an agent or publisher, you need to have a dynamic query letter. Carefully read the submission requirements and follow them as they vary. Always personalize your correspondence so it doesn't come across as a form letter. Just think of how you like to be treated as a writer and switch it around when dealing with agents/publishers. Be careful about who you want to represent or publish you. Go here first:

Lisa's Library of Writing

Downloadable Books!

Notes from on Kindle!

Thank you so much Lisa. Some very helpful advice on getting published and some links to check out.

I've got Lisa's novel/memoir on kindle so I'm happy to rave about it. "Notes from Nadir" is a great story. It is a fictionalized tale of discovering that the past is never quite through with you -- even if you think it is. Clarissa Draper, one of our previous guest speakers has reviewed Lisa's "Notes from Nadir." Go here to read Clarissa's review so you can decide if you'd like to win a kindle copy from Lisa. 

Which brings me to the prize...this week the prize on offer is Lisa's novel, "Notes from Nadir", the kindle version. If you don't have a kindle, you can download it free from Amazon and read your books online. That way you can even get to read free e-books, always good. Sorry, no critique offered this week.

Now before you leave:

please leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's book prize or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...) I attached links to all previous sessions in last week's post.
•ask Lisa a question or two 
•if you're published (book/short stories), tell us about it in the comments
•e-mail me @ if you'd like to find a Crit Partner.

Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted at the next party Wednesday February 16 when the delightful fantasy figure, N.R. Williams will fly in from her book promotion tour. Just as well her feet have wings. Don't forget you, dear guests, have until Monday February 15 at 8 pm NY time to enter for this week's prize.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

My No Fear blogfest story is a winner...Writer's Platform Building Crusade...Bernard Pivot contest

Thanks to Dominic de Mattos at Writes of Passage I wrote a story for his No Fear blogfest. If you haven't read it, and really want to, go here. Surprise! Surprise! Dominic ran a vote and I was the winner. This was unexpected, especially as I was up against the amazing Roland D Yeomans at Wrting in the Crosshairs. So in accordance with my New Years Resolution to Write First, Blog Later, in this case both activities paid off with a prize. So thanks to all who wrote marvellous stories for this blogfest and those who voted for the finalists and who pushed me over the line.

Update on the Writer's Platform-Building Crusade. Rachel Harrie tells me that at this stage there are nearly 90 participants being marshalled into groups. This is going to be a blast.

For those of you who like a little quirkiness with your morning coffee, Nicole Ducleroir from One Significant Moment in Time is hosting the Bernard Pivot contest with giveaways TBA. There are already a gazillion entries so this has caught the imagination of many. Maybe it's because it won't take a lot of time (or so we think now.) You basically answer 10 questions either literally or creatively. No guesses which I'll choose! If you're looking for the badge in my sidebar, it's not there. I'm using my pichetsinparis blog for this blogfest. Bernard Pivot was French after all, and I'm hosting my Publication Party here on the same day.

Michael di Gesu at In Time... is inspiring me with his Earthly Angels posts. On Monday (well, it's Tuesday here) he posted a tribute to mums (in honour of Michael's mum passing on Feb 6 some time ago...)

Oh, here I am again. I just entered Brenda Drake's first line blogfest where you have to post your first line from a finished WIP.  I know this one is a little dull, but the idea is you're to tell me how to improve it then I post the new improved model in her comments on Feb 9. The prizes are awesome. Perhaps you'd like to pop over to Brenda's and sign up. I've left it until nearly the last moment. This time the time difference is working in my favour! So here is my line. Tell me how it could be it to  bits...I don't mind...please!!!

The moment Ruby laid eyes on him she was smitten.

Well I'd better get to my WIPs. See you on Wednesday with the next Publication Party. Lisa Maliga is the guest speaker. Can't wait.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Writer's Platform Building Crusade - the flag is flying again! (Publication Party next post!)

Over at Rach Writes there is great news for bloggers, the second Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade has started! I joined last year and have been so looking forward to getting behind the flag again! 

Rach thought of this concept in 2010. She thought about the fact that there are so many of us out there -aspiring writers, beginner bloggers, industry peeps, even published authors, all who want to build their online platforms. She wanted to bring us all together. As a member of this Crusade, we write insightful posts and articles, actively blog within the blogosphere, take part in challenges, competitions, and contests galore, but mainly we support our fellow crusaders.

So, Rach (Rachael Harrie) links all of us together. This year she has groups so we can follow/comment on like-minded bloggers' posts.

Go to Rach Writes for all the buzz and to join. You’ll have a list of bloggers in the same position as you, who genuinely want to help you succeed. You can visit their sites, follow along with their blogs, leave comments, and share your highs and lows as you journey through the blogosphere and build your online platform. And they'll be doing the same for you. Some of the bloggers I met last year are firm blogging friends (((waves hi))).

Jump on board the Writers' Platform-Building Crusade. Spread the word. Pay it forward. And have fun with your blogging!!!

This is networking with a capital N!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Publication Party - Session Four - Helen M Hunt, short story writer extraordinaire

Welcome to our fourth Publication Party! Last session with Alex J Cavanaugh was met with the usual enthusiastic response from all of you aspiring authors. Now we've settled into the routine, we'll all just grab ourselves something to eat and drink and get right into this session.

But first, congratulations to last week's prize winners. chose 2 Aussie girls this week - nice! Amie Kauffman won the novel, Belly Dancing for Beginners by Liz Brynski, and Lynda Young won Relentless by Dean Koontz.

Today we have a change of pace, from published novelists to published short story writer. Writing short stories is my bread and butter. Publishing a novel can take years, but if you learn the craft of the short story you can hone your writing skills, get published (hopefully) and earn quite a tidy sum. That is why I've invited Helen to speak to us today. Helen gets her stories published in so many magazines (I can't even pick up my favourite fiction mag in Australia without seeing one of her stories looking at me) so I have asked her to tell us how she achieved such stupendous success in a relatively short time.

For those of you who don't know the very English Helen, here is a short bio:

Helen Hunt writes short stories, book reviews and features for magazines.
Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, The Weekly News and Take A Break Fiction Feast in the UK, and That’s Life Fast Fiction in Australia.

She has also had real life stories published by My Weekly, This England and Evergreen magazine, and articles in Writers’ Forum and The New Writer magazine. Helen is also in the early stages of writing a novel.

You can find her writing blog at and her book review blog at .

I was delighted to be asked by Denise to take part in her Publication Party. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a while now and it’s been great to learn so much about the life of a writer on the other side of the world from me.

Denise has asked me to share some thoughts about my journey to becoming a published short story writer.

I started writing just over five years ago and short stories have always been my first love. I went on a course at my local adult education college in September 2005 and wrote my first ever short story. And that was it, I was hooked on writing short stories and haven’t stopped since. I carried on writing stories and slowly got better and learnt how to write stories that other people might actually want to read.

Eventually my story ‘Shredding The Label’ was published by Momaya Press (a wonderful press based in the UK and US which runs a prestigious competition every year – ).This was a very significant moment for me as it was my first fiction publication.

Since that first publication, I have continued to write short stories and also short non-fiction pieces. I have been fortunate to be published by magazines such as My Weekly, Woman’s Weekly, Writers’ Forum and This England. There is still nothing to beat the feeling of having a story accepted and published.

Although I spend quite a lot of time now writing non-fiction and I’ve started on a novel, I’m sure I’ll continue to be inspired to write short stories as no matter what other writing I do, the characters and situations that turn into short stories keep appearing in my head. There is a very special feeling of achievement from writing a complete short story in a relatively short space of time, editing it until it shines and then sending it out into the world to see how it fares.

My tips for writing short stories for the women’s magazine market:

  • I would advise initially concentrating on targeting one or two magazines. All magazines have different requirements and like slightly different types of story. It’s more manageable if you look at a limited number of magazines in great depth at a time.
  • Always remember that magazines are looking for stories that are similar in style and tone to the ones they are currently using, but at the same time they need to be different enough to catch an editor’s eye.
  • Write lots of stories and keep sending them out. It’s helpful if you can set yourself a quota. For example, I’m aiming to write one new story a week at the moment. If one magazine rejects a story, look at it again, tweak it if necessary and send it elsewhere. Just because one editor doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean another won’t love it. Once you are writing to a publishable standard, the more stories you have out there, the more chance of acceptance you have.
  • Join a critique group, either online or in the real world. It’s great for support and motivation and essential for feedback. Make sure that at least some people in the group are being published in the area you are aiming for.
  • Beginnings and endings of stories are very important. You need to grab an editor’s attention with the beginning of your story and leave them with a smile on their face or a lump in their throat at the eFor further information and advice I highly recommend:
Womagwriter’s blog, ( )
Teresa Ashby’s blog ( ) and
Della Galton’s website ( ).

As I’ve said, beginnings and endings are both key to selling short stories. So I will be offering a critique of the first hundred words of a short story to one of the commenters on this post. Please also feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will pop back and answer as many as I’m able to.

Thanks again to Denise for inviting me to be a guest on her blog.

Great to have you with us Helen.

Now before I move onto the prizes I recommend How to Write and Sell Short Stories by Della Galton. It has made all the difference to my success in the short story realm.

PRIZES! TODAY everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER a book of short stories or a critique by Helen of the beginning of your short story (100 words):

About the book: A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li was the winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2006 and has been made into a film. It is a collection of short stories telling of life in modern China facing up to a history of repression. It is told through apparently insignificant lives - brilliant.

So thank you all for coming today. Before you leave would you mind doing the following:

leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's book prize or critique by Helen or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...)
•tell us whether you'd like to win the book or the critique
•ask Helen a question
•if you're published (book/short stories), tell us about it in the comments
•tell us if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. If you have nominated to be in the CP pool, please fill out the questionnaire you have been sent and return pronto!

Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted at the next party Wednesday February 9. Don't forget you have until Monday February 8 at 8 pm NY time to enter for this week's prizes.

Next Wednesday February 9 we have the amazing storyteller Lisa Maliga, author of Notes from Nadir coming to our party to speak to us. Don't miss what she has to say!

Here are the links to the previous Publication Parties if you'd like to catch up!

Session One - Author Christine Bell
Session Two - Author Clarissa Draper
Session Three - Author Alex J Cavanaugh