Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Radio Interview Tips

Being an author is about more than just writing. I've spent the last few weeks liaising, planning, organising, delegating, photoshopping, creating, booking, nagging and promoting the Inside Story event this Saturday at Black Cat Books - a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators world wide celebration, showcasing fourteen Queensland and northern NSW author/illustrators as they share the inside story behind their books.

As organiser and MC for the day I was also interviewed on 612 ABC radio by the lovely Kelly Higgins Devine. Whilst not the first time I have been on radio, it is always a rush. My dear sister, who is experienced as a former radio presenter, has given me a tip which I always remember:

"Smile broadly when you speak and it will lift your voice and engage the listeners." 

So I did. I grinned like crazy. The feedback from a friend of a friend was, "She sounded very enthusiastic."

Of course, my intention was to promote the Inside Story event, but radio is about engaging listeners and so the presenter will lull you into a conversation which inevitably leads you away from your task - to promote! With only minutes to get your information across, it can be tricky to negotiate questions like 'Where do you get your ideas from?' whilst trying to make sure the listeners know there will be PRIZES and what time they should get to Black Cat Books.

So here's another tip from my sister:

"Break your message into three points and focus on these."

I had scribbled on a small piece of paper:
  1. What is it? 14 authors share the Inside Story behind their books at a simultaneous event taking place in twelve cities worldwide.
  2. Why come along? Meet real life authors/illustrators, win prizes and eat cake.
  3. Where/when is it? Black Cat Books, 179 Latrobe Street, Paddington, Brisbane; 10am, 2nd Nov
A friend on Facebook said I sounded "calm and professional."

Well, now you know that was a con! Professional maybe, but calm.... the smiling helped.

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Aussie Year Blog Tour

Join author Tania McCartney and illustrator Tina Snerling here Under the Apple Tree 
1st November 2013
as they celebrate the release of
An Aussie Year

We'll be having a sneak peek inside this gorgeous new picture book
 as Tina Snerling shares her illustrative process.

Put it in your diary and check out the tour schedule at the link above.
There are fun activities, colour ins, teacher notes and...

The paper dolls are fantastic!
One for each character in the book.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Key to Successful Writing is Simple: PERSISTENCE

I started writing in 2007 and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that everything in the publishing industry takes time - loads of it. So patience and persistence are two virtues I'm learning to develop, whilst chipping away at my novel and sending out submissions.

Today I'm honoured to host author, publisher and all round good guy, (he has a black belt - ok?) Paul Collins, here Under the Apple Tree to talk about persistence and share with us his latest novel in the Maximus Black Files series, The Only Game in the Galaxy.

In a galaxy of cutthroat companies, shadowy clans and a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet.
But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation.

And Maximus has a lot to hide.

Paul Collins has written over 150 books and 140 short stories. He is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles (The Spell of Undoing is Book #1 in the new series), which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis. Paul’s latest book is The Only Game in the Galaxy, book three in The Maximus Black Files. The Beckoning is Paul’s first adult novel http://tinyurl.com/ny6urwy.

He is also the publisher at Ford Street Publishing.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He recently received the A Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in Australian science fiction. He has had two Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

He has black belts in both ju jitsu and taekwondo – this experience can be seen in The Jelindel Chronicles and The Maximus Black Files.

Welcome Paul and thanks for visiting:

Paul Collins - guest post

The key to successful writing is simple: PERSISTENCE.

It’s taken 30 years to see my adult horror novel The Beckoning in print. Originally typed on a counter in a St Kilda bookshop, it was typed into a computer in the mid 90s, saved via various storage devices such as 3.5 floppies, CDs, zip drives (remember them?) and finally USB sticks.

Diversity is another key word in a writer’s career. Writing for adults might get a writer some kudos – writers of children’s books sometimes get asked when they’re going to write a real book – but it doesn’t pay the rent.

It took me twenty years to realise that writing books for adults and many short stories that I’d never make a financial career of writing unless I diversified. Luckily for me I fell into writing for children and HarperCollins took my first book, The Wizards’ Torment, in 1995. Over a period of time I realised something else: cross-subsidisation. There are few A list authors who can make a living at writing alone. Part of my strategy was owning various bookshops while I typed stories on the counter.

These days I run a publishing company called Ford Street Publishing www.fordstreetpublishing.com, a speakers’ agency called Creative Net www.fordstreetpublishing.com/cnet, and I also write www.paulcollins.com.au. Combined, I make a living.

Somewhere along the line I decided that writing everything from picture books through to young adult fiction was spreading myself a bit thin. I now mainly concentrate on YA literature.

According to publishers and booksellers, young adult fiction – or YA, as it’s known in the trade – is today’s hottest publishing category. It shares the virtues of youth itself – energy, intensity and passion. And just like adolescents themselves, YA novels revolve around drama and tackle Life’s Big Questions.

Until the erotic fiction titles in the 50 Shades of Grey series took its place, the Hunger Games trilogy by Susanne Collins was at the top of Australia’s best seller list – for all fiction – not just YA and children’s books. And YA titles continually rank among these lists.

YA used to be defined as literature with adolescent themes for readers ranging from 12 to 18 – but these days this range seems to have extended in both directions – covering readers from as young as 10 up to their mid-twenties – and many adults are reading YA books as well.

YA novels are often about the period of transition between childhood and adulthood – a time when young people are asking questions like ‘Who am I’ and ‘Where do I fit in’ and even ‘Do I fit in at all?’

They focus on issues that are commonly found in teen culture: identity, sexuality, personal and social issues, depression, substance abuse, relationships with both family members and other teens. They offer a world which young people can identify with – and which can help them find a safe passage through these difficult years.

Apart from a ripping story, you need to start with memorable characters that are well-rounded. They need flaws if they are to be believable, and for your readers to relate to.

Your readers need to bond with your characters right from the beginning of the book – even if they’re a bad guy like Maximus Black in my trilogy, The Maximus Black Files – give them some traits that make them irresistible so your reader cares enough about them to cheer them on throughout the ups and downs of the storyline.

YA books need plenty of conflict and suspense to keep those pages turning.

With science fiction, you build a universe with elements so real that the reader can easily fall into it with a suspension of disbelief.

Voice and style must be distinctive enough so that the reader wants to keep coming back for more.

Personally, I love the main characters that are ‘bad’. Think Modesty Blaise, think Artemis Fowl. The problem is, these characters are fundamentally good. They’re Robin Hood characters, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Hence, I indulged in a little mayhem and created an anti-hero called Maximus Black http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs. There’s nothing to like about him (he’s a psychopath!), which is why major publishers shied away from the series. However, surprisingly enough, readers of this series have taken to Maximus. And possibly for all the reasons I’ve outlined above about writing young adult, or new adult literature as it’s now called. I like to think I’ve bundled all that stuff into The Maximus Black Files.

Time will tell if I’ve been successful!


The Only Game in the Galaxy
Author: Paul Collins
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
RRP: $9.99
RRP $19.95

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Inside Story - You're Invited!

The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators 
in conjunction with specialist bookshops 
launch across the world...

Where children’s authors and illustrators give insights into
the stories behind the creation of their books.

Meet & be entertained 
by Queensland and northern NSW's’s loved and acclaimed
children’s authors & illustrators

179 Latrobe St

Saturday 2nd November 2013


MC author Angela Sunde will host:

Pamela Rushby, Stephen Axelsen, Katherine Battersby, Julie Nickerson, Samantha Wheeler, Dimity Powell, Christina Bollenbach, Judy Paulson, Michelle Worthington, Candice Lemon-Scott, Christine Bongers, Jennifer Poulter, Peter Taylor 
and so much more… 

Balloons, book signings, cake, prizes 
and the chance to chat with authors & illustrators...
It's a mini festival! 
An inaugural international SCBWI event, 
Inside Story will be launched simultaneously around the world, 
including The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft in Sydney,
 and The LittleBookroom in Melbourne. 

Join in the fun of this FREE event at a city near you!

Brisbane - RSVP: (07) 3367 8777
EMAIL: info@blackcatbooks.com.au