Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Due Season--Valerie Volks

Check out our news page and find out what can be done to prevent imminent closure of Queensland first Christian Liberal Arts College.

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are The Game and As Black from White and now In Due Season.

THE WINNERS are Paul Clark of the Burdekin and Crystal Mary of Gympie.

TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Valerie Volks is the winner of the POETRY section of the CALEB prize. Valerie's story shows how good things can come from great tragedy.

Valerie, you've said that writing became your coping strategy, a way of dealing with the experiences and emotions that the passing months of your husband's terminal illness brought. Can you elaborate on this, Valerie?

I'd started a Creative Writing Masters degree at Tabor Adelaide well before there was any thought of changes in our life's plan. My husband I had both intended to retire at the end of 2008, with years ahead for him to paint and me to write—both of these were long-deferred ambitions. When he was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote the first poem, Tenebrae, that became part of the later book; it was part of my current unit on Poetry. I found immediately that writing gave me a sense of coping, of managing the emotions I was feeling.

I did not expect, at that stage, that the year would turn into one of almost constant hospitalisation for Noel, and a growing realisation that we would not be sharing our planned retirement; instead that he would be dead nine months after diagnosis. All year as the clouds darkened and the shadows lengthened, I kept writing poetry. It helped. After his death so much of my grieving was poured into the poems that I continued to write. That enabled me to distance myself, and to cope with the intensity of feeling. It was indeed, I would say, a coping strategy.

I'd written the poems entirely for myself, with no intention to circulate them at all. So when, through my course work, Pantaenus Press said they had read them and thought they should be published, I really hesitated. Their argument, that it might help others because it articulated the experiences so many people faced, was what finally convinced me. That's actually proved to be the greatest thing for me. The book, In Due Season, has sold very well and even won awards, but far more importantly I have had the most heart-warming letters and emails from many people, who say that reading these poems has been a source of comfort and help to them in their own grieving.

Which poets have inspired you over the years?

I love the 'classic' poetry—Chaucer's fascination for and perception about people, Shakespeare's breadth of vision and richness of imagery, John Donne and the sharpness of metaphysical wit. I've also been inspired by the Victorian poets— Tennyson, Browning, Arnold. I studied these in Year 12 English, and they've had a deep and permanent impact. Of modern Australian poets, Bruce Dawe has been a long-term favourite, and he's probably the poet who has had most influence on me, with his capacity to give significance to the everyday.

To quote from your website: 'The poetry is varied in both form and mood, ranging from formal and measured sonnets and rhymed poems, to the more anguished raw emotion of the free-verse poems. Throughout, there is a personal tone which makes this poetry accessible to all readers.' How do you think your free verse allowed the raw emotion more than the other poems?

This really goes back to my earlier comment about the way in which formal poetry requires you to distance yourself and confine emotions within the demands of rhyme and metre. It's excellent therapy: as John Donne expressed it, it's taming of emotion, especially grief, by fettering it in verse--two interesting words that sum it up perfectly. 'Tamed' emotion is a depth of feeling that has had to be confined and managed to match the poetic form; in this way it is 'fettered' by it. A great image, because it takes us right into that wild almost animal-like quality of terrible grief, and says "Look, you really can manage this by writing; you can cope."

The other side of the coin is therefore equally true: in free verse one is expressing the 'untamed' emotions; that's why it seems more raw. The anguish is not greater; it just comes through in a less managed way.

It is notoriously difficult to publish poetry. The connection with Pantaenus Press through the Masters course was a great opportunity. Describe your journey to publication.

It was so reassuring to be approached by Pantaenus Press with the idea of publication. They had offered to produce a simple print version, but because I wanted to produce something that my husband, a keen artist and a first-rate magazine editor and producer, would have been pleased with, I decided to invest some of own money in the publication and create more of an 'art-book'. The photographs and pictures add a depth to the experience of the poems.

The publishers were happy to have this arrangement and I felt that Noel would have liked the book, which is very much a tribute to him and a celebration of a long and happy marriage. It's sub-titled Poems of love and loss and this is accurate. They are love poems as well as grieving poems.

Many poets now are choosing performance as a way to publicize. Is this something you could find yourself doing, or does the vocalizing of those emotions cause too much pain?

I've actually grown used to it. Somehow I seem to get a lot of public speaking engagements, particularly to talk about writing as therapy. I often read from the book, and it's oddly comforting. There's something about re-visiting very special times and a very special happiness, because in an ironic way to have shared a loved one's dying is one of the most intimate experiences you can ever have.

When did you start writing poetry? Was it purely a reaction to your grief?

No, I've always written - and for most of my life poetry. In my late teens I wrote two verse dramas, and in all the intervening years in times of very strong emotions I've found myself writing poems. But for many decades I've been too busy living to write very much. Now I seem to be re-defining myself at this stage of life as a writer. Winning the CALEB Prize for Poetry was a particular joy—a real reassurance that others could see some merit in my writing.

Have you written in other genres?

Over the decades I've written many short stories, and several novels—all, sadly (but understandably!), unpublished. Now I'm writing much more successfully, but particularly in verse. I have a verse novel A Promise of Peaches about to be published in the next few months, and I'm well along the way with a third book, another verse novel.

Tell us about some of your poems—their significance to you.

The last ones in the book are particularly significant: they recapture so much of our lives together. At Melbourne University is a nostalgic looking back at our youth, while the title poem In Due Season is really an overview, set against the background of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, of the four seasons of our lives. They're a celebration. The last poem in the book, Epilogue, is for me a final statement. When the man says, as we fail to get the complete solution to the hard crossword, "Tomorrow we'll see what it was", I guess this is really my statement of faith: one day all the questions in life will be answered for us also.

Thanks, Valerie.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

As Black from White by Sally Graham

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Game and As Black from White. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Sally Graham and her husband Dave won the non-fiction section of the CALEB award for 2010 for As Black from White with Sally as writer and Dave as editor. Sally’s remarkable story of conversion from an international drug dealer intent on murder to a Christian is told here. Sally, what a story!

At what point did you decide you would have to write this story down?

I have been a Christian now for 15 years and had shared my story at testimony nights and the like but after marrying Dave, God began to speak to us about writing a book. On a leadership camp I promised God that if three people said I should write a book during our weekend away I would. By the end of the first night it was decided.

How did your family and friends react when you made it public?

Once Dave and I had the final draft in our hands we did a final check before God that this was the thing to do. My story is quite confronting and we did need to check some legal aspects before our publisher would agree to handle it.
Our families have been surprisingly supportive and encouraging. They are very proud of the book and its ability to bring hope to others.

What are you passionate about?

My passion is to communicate the love of Christ to others and that they might know that no situation is beyond the touch of Jesus. God does not have a "too hard basket".
I pray that many will come to know God through our lives and understand that not only are they called but also planned and purposed. God has gifted everyone with a purpose.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

It took three years to write As Black from White. It was very cathartic and involved a lot of prayer for God’s guidance. I needed Him to stretch me to include some things I did not want to share publicly , but God reminded me that he would use those things to set others free.
Just sitting down and writing at all was tough at times, but I had a lovely prayerful friend who over those three years would gently inquire "How’s the book going, Sal?" Her encouragement helped me finish.

Do you ever experience self doubt?

Self doubt is part of the human condition. I think I have learnt to keep going anyway. Make the big decisions when you are in a good place and stick to them no matter what your feeling at those times of doubt. If you need to revise, do it when you are feeling good and share your thoughts with someone else who can give an outward perspective. Self doubt doesn’t go away but I have learnt to see it for what it is. The more I have pressed through those times the more I learn that self doubt often has no basis in reality. Get inspiration and guidance from those who are doing it well in your area.

What are the themes running through your work?

As a counsellor , I have always loved to watch people .
As Black from White is my autobiography but I am working on another book of testimonies and a second book about recovery and the Christian journey.
My style is raw, gritty and honest. I like to peel back the layers and get real about our humanity.

Can you recommend other biographies that have inspired you?

Samantha Jackel tells her story passionatly and honestly in My Purple Pants.
Bronwen Healy's self published work Trophy of Grace encouraged me to see self publishing as a viable option.
Both are modern day stories of God’s healing and restoration in Australia today!

Tell us something about the book.

"As Black from White " is the story of Gods Damascus road intervention in my life as I set out one day intent on committing murder.
Life with Jesus has transformed my world from international drug dealer to Christian counsellor ,now working for Prison Fellowship here in South Australia.
The book outlines the dark past of my life and how we walked through the darkness into his light.

Where can we buy it?

As Black from White can be ordered online at

Thanks for telling your remarkable story:-)


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Game--Inspirational Historical Romance award winner

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAY IS The Game by award-winning Amanda Deed. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Amanda won the fiction category of the new CALEB Inspirational Award. Congratulations, Amanda! I loved editing your book and share in your thrill at the award!

What got you into historical fiction as a genre?

I have always loved this genre. I find it fascinating to learn about history at the same time as being entertained by a storyline.

What did you do previously that was grist for your mill as a writer?

I always loved making up stories as a child. I have read hundreds of books over the years, and as an adult, particularly historical romance. That naturally led to wanting to write that kind of story.

How did you go about your research?

Some research I did online, but it is not always reliable. I borrowed library books on Australian architecture, horses, fashion history, Sydney history and social history. I researched information on church history in Australia. I also went to a few historical places to get a feel for them. There are so many aspects of life I needed to be sure of!

How do you see the Australian publishing industry now?

To be honest, I don't know a lot about the Australian publishing industry. Unlike many other authors I did not spend years and years submitting manuscripts, which probably would give a great deal of learning. So, I feel like a newbie and as such I am just learning what is 'out there'. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given, however, and I am sure other authors would find the same opportunities.

Amanda, your story is somewhat unique. But then The Game is a unique novel.

Do you have any tips for historical fiction writers?

Read. Read history books and learn your period well. Read journals and letters written by real people who lived in that time. Read other novels set in that period too, which give you a good feel for the setting.

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

Go to writers conferences. There is so much to be learned by others with more experience. Join a writers' group like FaithWriters, where you can hone your craft and have others critique your work.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

Firstly, work hard on improving your craft. Get lots of feedback on your work, and not just from family and friends. Then it is a matter of being persistent and not giving up. A rejection letter does not mean the end.

What are the themes running through your work?

I love to show the grace of God at work through my writing. And romance...I am a sucker for a good romance.

Tell us something about The Game.

The Game is an historical romance set in the 1840s in the Sydney/Paramatta area. My leading man, Jack Fordham, thinks that love is a game. Unfortunately he has to learn that it is not a game—the hard way. Many readers have told me how they have fallen for this loveable rogue--that's the kind of guy he is. But, the woman he has his eye on will not have a bar of him because he doesn't share her faith. Poor Jack! You will have to read The Game to see how his story unravels and whether he gets the girl in the end or not.

Thanks, Amanda. We look forward to the next book!

Amanda's book is available through Arkhouse Press at


Monday, November 8, 2010


The winners for the inaugural CALEB prize for Australasian inspirational will be announced shortly here:-

We will be interviewing one of the winners, so keep posting comments for your chance to WIN A FREE COPY of The Game by Amanda Deed, WINNER of the FICTION category, coming up next.

The Word Writers Fair was packed with interesting seminars, loads of great books to ferret through and plenty of sparkling conversation.

There was a look at self publishing by well-known authors Meredith Resce, Jeff Townsend and a new author, Liz Curtis. Anne Hamilton gave a fascinating look at fantasy publishing. Mary Hawkins led us through the mysteries of romance writing. Paul Clark gave a witty rendition of writing for children, Janet Camilleri and Nola Passmore showed and insider’s view into writing for magazines, Coralie Buchanan spoke on writing non-fiction, Kerry Townsend covered time-management and Jo-Anne Berthelson helped all stay focused. Aleesah Darlison surprised everyone with the ins and outs of marketing books.

Manuscripts were assessed by Jeff Townsend, Deb Porter and myself and I for one felt privileged to get a sneak peak into some great emerging talent.
Deb also gave an insight into the workings of digital books which will be on every Queensland school desk soon with the advent of the IPAD for schools.

Rochelle Manners gave an overview of the Australian publishing scene. Two of Rochelle’s company’s authors were represented in the awards—Andrew Landsdowne and Paula Vince, both finalists. HSM were also represented with Rosie Boom and the Psalmscapes team. Well done on both scores.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CALEB Inspirational Book Award Winners

The winners of the CALEB inspirational book awards for 2010 can be found here…
To be in the draw to WIN a CALEB award book, post a comment below.
To meet the authors, be at the Word Writers Fair November 6th, 9am, Bayside Christian Church, Eureka Centre, 29 Moreton Bay Rd, CAPALABA.

THE WINNER of the Book of the Month this month is Robynne Milne.

Caleb Prize Finalists
Author Title Publisher
Rosie Boom Where Lions Roar at Night HSM
Andrew McDonough Dave the Donkey Lost Sheep
Penny Reeve Water or Goo Christian Focus

Author Title Publisher
Valerie Volk In Due Season Pantaenus
Andrew Lansdown Birds in Mind Wombat
Janette Fernando/Jean Sietzema-Dickson (ed) Reflecting on Melbourne Poetica Christi

Author Title Publisher
Mary Hawkins Return to Baragula Ark House
Meredith Resce For All Time HSM
Amanda Deed The Game Ark House
Paula Vince Picking Up the Pieces Even Before

CALEB NON FICTION (Biography/Memoir) 2010
Author Title Publisher
Sally Graham As Black from White Seaview
Edmond Smith The Silver Poplar Ark House
Samantha Jackel My Purple Pants Ark House

Author Title Publisher
Mark Durie The Third Choice Deror
Matthew Jacoby/Mal Austin Psalmscapes HSM
Keitha Smith & Susan Brereton Mothering Heights Judson
Renee Bennett Broken Wing Butterfly Private

A Reviewers’ Choice Award will also be made at the Awards Dinner.
The reviewers are completely independent of the judges and their choices may diverge considerably because of different emphases.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

CHILDREN'S BOOK COUNCIL HONOUR BOOK, Potato Music and author Christina Booth

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are Purinina, The Monster that Ate Canberra and As the Eagle, Flies the King. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, post a comment and click follow.

Check out our NEW BLOG AWARD under BLOGS OF NOTE on the next page. We now also have a NEWS page. Learn about the Faithwriters Conference coming soon and the new website of opportunities for the faith community. CLICK on the News icon on the left of this page.

Our interviewee of the month is Christina Booth. Christina has just been awarded the Children’s Book Council Honour Book Award for the Picture Book category—a wonderful accolade. Christina’s interview shows how important mentors are. Welcome, Christina...

Our readers want books that reflect family values. Which books of yours are strong in that area?

I have a strong belief that we are caretakers of this world and its creatures and the environment—that we should do the best we can to care for each other as we undertake that roll. Each of my books reflects these ideals as each story I have written has been based in my own experiences and outlook. Purinina, A Devil’s Tale (Lothian/Hachette, 2007) was written to demonstrate hope that the Tasmanian Devil would continue to survive. Kip (Windy Hollow Books, 2009) is based on the story of our pet rooster. Potato Music (Illustrated by Pete Groves, Omnibus, 2010), is about a child’s perspective of the hardships of war.

Tell us a little about this book or if you have more, tell us about each.

Potato Music is a story that is based in family and how they overcome hardship together. It is inspired by a true story about my Opa (Grandfather) that happened during the Second World War in Holland, 1944. It is told through the eyes of a young child—how her family binds itself together with love, hope and music. When the darkness of war comes and the family begins to suffer from hardship and hunger they overcome through being together and the music that lights up their world. Then the music is gone and the child does not understand. They have food to eat and full bellies but the one thing that couldn’t be taken away was gone. Until her parents show her that it is inside their hearts and that, through hope and dreams life can go on and the family can survive.

Tell us about your journey to becoming an author. What dips and glides did you have along the way?

I had always dreamed of having my name on the cover of a book. As a young child I was a book hugger rather than a teddy bear hugger and learnt to read at an early age. I have always loved where books could take you and how they made you feel. I was very good at art—my best subject at school and so aspired to being an illustrator. I studied fine arts and teaching and became a specialist art teacher to ‘support my habit’ and painted abstract landscapes (still do!) until my first child was born (1991) when I once again became immersed in children’s books. I decided to try my hand at illustrating—pre internet etc.—and from Tasmania found it very hard to obtain information about how to go about it.

In 2000 I met through a relief teaching post a wonderful lady embarking on a publishing career looking for an illustrator for her poetry book series. Little did I know when I handed in my sample illustrations to be approved by the author, Bill Scott, that they would be handed to Colin Thiele, Bill’s neighbour, for a second opinion. I started illustrating the poetry book series and at Colin’s request, his was the second book I illustrated (I danced a wild dance around my kitchen when I found out about that book! He was one of my favourite authors as a child). So here was I—unknown educational illustrator, sitting on my lounge room floor at a tiny coffee table with a baby on my knee, illustrating for the greats: Colin Thiele, Max Fatchen, Christobel Mattingley. This was a wonderful way to get my foot through the back door of children’s publishing. At this stage I had not considered writing, just illustrating.

I found myself attending a writers/illustrators weekend retreat at the Tye Estate. We were as illustrators, asked to bring samples of writing we had and the writers were going to draw. I’m not sure who was the most nervous! I had some sample bits and pieces that I had written for my children so I tentatively took them along and had them assessed.

Potato Music received a number of thoughtful rejections stating its potential but it seemed destined to the bottom drawer where many first manuscripts are doomed to die. Almost a year after the first Tye weekend, I wrote Purinina, A Devil’s Tale. It seemed to flow so much easier than anything else I had written. I didn’t send it away but after a second visit to Tye, decided that door knocking publishers in person was the way to go so I hopped on a plane to Melbourne with very pink hair so they would remember me and visited a number of publishers with my portfolio in hand. As many publishers wouldn’t consider a manuscript unless it was solicited, I tucked a few inside with my illustrations to ‘show I could illustrate to text’.

I visited Helen Chamberlain at Lothian Books who sat and read my manuscripts. I decided there and then that I had just made the biggest fool of myself and that in future I would post them so I wouldn’t be present while they read my work. Thankfully she loved Purinina and this resulted in my first contract as both author and illustrator of a picture book. My dreams were coming true and now, one year after deciding to write, I was to be published.

I have now illustrated over 12 books for children and had three of my own picture books published. My latest, Potato Music, was re-visited a couple of years after discarding it to that drawer and with the help of a great publisher, we pulled it into a book worth publishing. This journey was to become different to the others, with another illustrator bringing the story together. This was difficult at first but I have learnt a lot from the process and it has helped me considerably as an illustrator for other writers. Since 2000, when I embarked on my career as an illustrator, I have now been a part of producing 13 books, have received the wonderful honour of receiving a notable book award (2008) as well as an honour book in the latest, 2010 CBCA Awards. It has had many highs and a few lows but it has certainly been an adventure that will continue....

What are the themes running through your work?

I suppose, without any fore planning, the theme of hope keeps occurring. Without hope I don’t think life is too worthwhile. For Purinina it was the hope that the Tasmanian Devil will survive humanity, with Kip it is that not so much hope but considering others, and with Potato Music, the message of having hope and keeping your dreams alive despite adversity is very strong.

Tell us something about your latest book.

As my latest book is Potato Music I have pretty much covered that. However, after saying one must never apologise for your work, I will add this. When I read this story to my Grandfather at his 90th birthday in Holland (the book is dedicated to him) I cried, understandably. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. However, I didn’t realise that 99% of those who read it for the first time—including a lot of grown men would also weep. It needs a tissue box warning on the cover. Sorry about that. It is a happy-ending story: it is not sad, but emotional. Kids don’t seem to mind. I am receiving letters that say that Mum or Dad cried but the kids went into a deep reflection of the story and that it evoked a discussion, even with very young children. An outcome I had never anticipated. A good example of how, once you have written your story, it takes on a life of its own, much like our children do. I received a note the other day from a mum who had just read the story to her four year old. She asked her daughter through her tears if it was a sad story or a happy story. The four year old replied “It’s a bit sad but not if we have dancing at the end”. This is what makes writing for children so worthwhile.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Children's Book Week Interviewee, Alexander Bunyip Creator--Michael Salmon

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are The Monster that Ate Canberra and The Giving Field. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT and click follow. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, do likewise.

This is Children’s Book Week in Australia. The winners of this prestigious award have been announced and can be seen here:- Next week we’ll be interviewing one of the place holders, Christina Booth.

This week we have an icon in the children’s book industry in Australia. Creator of the first modern Aussie children’s television character to become a national symbol—Alexander Bunyip—is artist and writer, Michael Salmon. Welcome, Michael…

Your story is inspirational as one of the first Aussie picture book artists to have a television series. Can you tell us how this came about as well as your journey to becoming a picture book author. What dips and glides did you have along the way? Do you write your own text? Tell us about the character Alexander Bunyip.

I started ‘the career’ at 18, the early days (1967/68) of vaguely making a living from drawing cartoons, painting, exhibiting art works. I then joined the famous ‘Tintookies’ Marionette Troupe (part of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, Sydney: little brother company to the Australian Ballet, Australian Opera) as a trainee stage manager/designer. Loved every moment of this immersion in children’s theatre and decided that entertaining young people was for me!

In 1972 whilst living in Canberra, I decided to self-publish ‘a book’ (no thoughts of offering it to a publisher)—a very amateur, ‘underground’ attempt at a children’s book with very obvious, unsubtle, social comment undertones: The Monster that Ate Canberra. I wrote and illustrated it and had it printed locally, then drove around to all the ACT bookshops and newsagents, offering it for sale (to some very mixed receptions!)

The book featured a large, hungry bunyip named Alexander who was forced to move from his polluted billabong and find a new home. This new home happened to be Lake Burley Griffin. He saw the iconic buildings dotted around the foreshores as objects of food and started eating them— much to the horror of the populace and prime minister!

The book title became an ‘in-joke’ around the nation’s capital. ‘The Monster’ was indeed the Australian Public Service in disguise! The local ABC-TV channel saw potential in the character and forwarded it to Sydney HQ for consideration. The rest ‘is history’.

Alexander Bunyip became an afternoon institution on national television for a decade (1978-88) in various formats. The most successful one being Alexander Bunyip’s Billabong. This featured little Aussie animal puppet characters based on the Golden Press books/Australian Women’s Weekly half page that I was producing at the time. Much merchandising ensued, lots of publicity and exposure.

In 2004 The National Capital Authority produced an official ‘government’ version of the original book for visitors to Canberra (complete with our National Coat of Arms!) and in 2009 a bronze statue of ‘The Bunyip’ was commissioned by the PM’s chief minister & the Federal Minister for Education. It is a work now in progress and will be ‘launched’ in 2011—a tribute to the book’s role in helping one-and-a-half generations of Canberra kids to read. The statue will stand outside the new, ‘state-of-the-art’ public library that is currently being constructed in Gungahlin, ACT.

How important were your live appearances and how important is it to continue to make them?

I’ve been visiting Aussie schools since 1972 (professionally since 1975). These school visits and author signings have become a major part of my business and take up most of each year with lots of travel and laughter, as I present what are basically hourly sessions of quick sketches, stand up comedy and gentle motivation—to fully mixed age groups of primary school audiences

Do you think things like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are the most important thing today to gain recognition today?

Well they certainly help— that’s for sure.
They have become an essential part of modern-day communication.
Mind you, I observe (‘out there in IT land’) that sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between what may be considered interesting information and what is wholly, over-the-top, boring, unrealistic self promotion.

Did you have any control over the scripts on the TV show? Did you have to do any screenwriting for it? If not, how was your screenwriter chosen?

I was involved here and there in the program ideas, but was mostly busy doing other things apart from the TV Show (new books, theatre designing etc). The ABC recreated the illustrations from my Bunyip books as the TV set.

Can you give any tips on getting into TV animation today?

It is one of the hardest businesses ‘to crack’ in the Entertainment Industry. ‘Contacts’ are about 95% of the game! But never give up!!

What are the themes running through your work?

Fun, laughter, theatrical … bright, bold illustrations, silly plot situations!


Michael Salmon 11/08/2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

TV Colour Stylist, Stephen Macquignon

CHECK OUT OUR NEWS PAGE (L.H. tab) for conferences and early bird registrations happening THIS WEEK!

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are a year of Footprints magazine or Clues to Your Calling, or Decadence and The Last Virgin in Year Ten and As the Eagle, Flies the King. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT and click FOLLOW in the L.H. corner of the blog. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, do the same.

This month’s winners are Cathy and Tabitha, both from QLD. Look out for our Aussie books on international bookshelves now!

Stephen Macquignon is the first of our international guests who are here to give us some insight beyond our borders. Stephen will help us unravel the mysteries of television and production for a children’s artist. An interesting thing that comes out of his story is the importance of networking. As they say, 75 percent of jobs are not advertised! Welcome, Stephen!

Your story is inspirational as an illustrator who has worked on TV. Can you tell us how this came about?

I had a friend, who had a friend, who owned an animation studio. It went something like, "I think they are looking for interns, interested?" It was my first break in the art industry. I made an appointment for an interview, took my portfolio to NYC, met with Robert Marianetti, who if my memory is correct was the Assistant Director on the very first animated show I worked on called "Santabear's High Flying Adventure." We seemed to click and we worked together on many projects after that.

So it was ‘who you know’. I’ve heard that somewhere before!

There seem to be many tasks in animation. What job description did you have?

I actually had quite a few. I started out as a runner. I would go from one location to another picking up or dropping off artwork, film reels, sound effects, coffee, lunch, etc. Then, I started to work in production at Michael Sporn Animation. Remember, this was long before computers were used in animation.

The technique we used then was called "cut paper on cell." Basically, once the drawing was completed, we would glue the drawings (characters) on to a clear piece of plastic called a cell, wait for the glue to dry, then cut the character out using an X-acto knife; you had to be careful not to cut too deep or you could cut right into the cell and would have to start all over again. Other jobs included cell cleaning, checking to make sure all the components of the scene were together, and coloring the characters. As time went on, I worked on story boards, a few back grounds and also as a color stylist. We would work from published story books or original ideas. As a color stylist, I was responsible to try and match the right color from the story book or create the color palette for an original title. Also, I was a production coordinator.

Do you write your own text?

No. I was never involved in writing the text. My passion has always been drawing, not writing.

How important was self marketing?

At the time, not very important. It seems to be the thing to do now, but back then, you really didn't hear much about it. It was important to go to different events to show your face, but outside of that ...

Do you think things like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the most important thing today to gain recognition?

No. I do have a Facebook page, but that I keep for friends and family. I also have a MySpace page for the general public to see my work. I never use Twitter. There is one YouTube post from Rena Jones, the writer of The Marshmallow Man one of the books I illustrated, but I would not depend on any of these outlets to land me a job or gain any serious recognition.

Can you give any tips on getting into TV animation today?

It is a very hard business to get into. If you have the talent and the drive, just keep trying. From what others have told me, the industry seems to have changed a great deal since I started out—not as many animation studios where you sit together and work on a project. Now, thanks to computers, it seems that you can work more from your own home and continuously IM each other. I think being in the same room and bouncing ideas off each other is much better than sitting alone.

Do you have to do many drafts of your work?

Yes. You should buy stock in tracing paper when I'm working on a project. I will rework an illustration many times over until I feel it is just right.

Now you are a picture book illustrator, what are the themes running through your work?

Well, I have worked on many different themes. I worked on a story about a little girl who loves jellybeans, a story all about colours, another about a caterpillar, and another about a man made of marshmallow. My latest is a story about a little white squirrel.

Tell us about your illustrations.

All my work is still drawn and inked by hand. I then scan it into the computer and color everything digitally.

Thanks, Stephen, for a fascinating look into the ever-changing world of production for an artist.
See Stephen’s illustrations here:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Award-Winning Rosanne Hawke

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Last Virgin in Year Ten, one year's subscription to Footprints magazine, Decadence or Clues to Your Calling. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT and CLICK FOLLOW at the bottom LH corner. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, do the same and we'll look at your work.

Rosanne Hawke is a well known award-winning Aussie author. Her books are studied in schools and enjoyed by many. Rosanne is also a teacher at Tabor College and a true Cornish delight! Here's Rosanne...

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about faith, family, writing, reading, love, peace between people groups, Cornish, music, issues in my books, cats of all sizes...

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

Keeping my bottom on that chair. Bryce Courtney says he uses 'glue' but I use music. I choose music that suits the manuscript content and I write to that music. Not only does this help the creative process but it also puts me straight back into the novel's setting if I've been away from home, teaching or visiting schools. A cat on the lap helps too.

Do you ever experience self doubt?

Every time I sit down to start writing a new book I don't think I can do it.

I can’t imagine that!

Do you have any tips for new writers?

1) Read a lot of good fiction and know what's in the market, even if you will not write those
genres, i.e. people who read a lot will be more able to tell when their own writing isn't matching up to market level, and will be more able to correct it. Even though I teach creative writing I know that students will learn even more from reading as a writer.
2) Get to know your character as well as your best friend. Your character will make your story.
3) Have some idea of what your character needs to do or know by the end of your story and you will be able to finish your story.
4) Be very persistent. I feel called to writing and this is what has kept me going through the hard and lean times. Persistence and determination will help us become better writers and to get our work published.

What Australian conferences would you recommend for writers to attend to help get their names out there and learn from mentors?

I enjoyed the AlphaOmega conference in 2006. For children's writers it could be good for inspiration to go to the Children's Book Council conference. John Marsden runs weekend writing conferences but they sound expensive. Varuna House in the Blue Mountains offers fellowships for new writers. I found this very helpful but competition is tough now. There will be a Word Fair run by Wombat Books at Tabor Adelaide on August 21st which is like a mini conference as there will be some workshops and speakers. Tabor Adelaide is opening a Christian Writing Centre in January 2011 to further help Christian Writers in the mechanics of writing e.g. mentorships, assessments, editorial advice, workshops etc. Some pockets of this is happening in other parts of the country already e.g. Alpha to Omega, Wendy Sargeant, Dale Harcombe.

Thanks for the plug, Rosanne. Yes, I offer free tuition on individual books I assess and edit privately as well as at places like the Word Writers Fair.

Are there any other programs you would recommend to budding authors?

Authors do not need study programs to be successful writers but they can certainly help. Tabor is one of the few if not the only tertiary institution in Australia that offers creative writing up to Masters level in an inspirational context. This is available online as well as internally.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

1) If this is what God wants you to do, do not give up. Be persistent in honing your craft.
2) Learn to interpret rejection letters. I have heard of people who have had a promising rejection letter but didn't understand that is what it was, and were discouraged. If your work is rejected by the publisher, ask if they will see it again after you've re-written it, then re-write it and send it again.
3) Have a healthy attitude towards re-writing. I have seen manuscripts that authors believe are ready to go to the publisher that are in reality drafts. Re-write, re-write, re-write. Your first draft is only the tip of the iceberg. Seven-eighths of the work remains to be done.

Tell us something about your latest book.

Marrying Ameera is a 14+ novel about a forced marriage in Azad Kashmir. Ameera is sent to her cousin's wedding and it takes her less than a week to realise this is not her cousin'swedding but her own. I got the idea for this when I was on an Asialink Fellowship to Pakistan where I did research. The novel will be released shortly by HarperCollins.

See more info about Rosanne and her books at

Thanks, Rosanne. I'm told your courses are also available at Toowoomba through Eastgate College. Look forward to the launch of Marrying Ameera!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are either Clues to your Calling, Decadence, or a year's free subsciption to Footprints magazine, as well as Puggles picture book. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters do the same and we'll look at your work.

Janet Camilleri, editor of Footprints Magazine, is our interviewee this week. Janet’s quote here is something, as an editor myself, I find very true:-

“Being an editor is a great spiritual discipline as it causes you to put others before yourself,” Mark Galli, Christianity Today.

What is behind your deep passion evident in Clues for your Calling and Footprints magazine?

A lot of my passions are borne out of my past pains … my childhood was marred by parental divorce, mental health issues, and alcoholism, and I experienced verbal, physical and emotional abuse. Not surprisingly, I developed depression as an adult! It’s been a long journey but I do believe God has healed me and made me whole, so now I am motivated to help others deal with these issues so that they too can be set free from the baggage of their past.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an editor and how do you overcome it?

I find it really hard to give feedback on other people’s work, while being diplomatic and sensitive to their feelings. With my own work, I can be ruthless and know that I won’t get offended or discouraged!

I really want to encourage other aspiring writers, but find it difficult to take the time to help guide a writer through the process of editing, or even re-writing their piece. I hate the thought that I might hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the same time, I really want the quality of the content in Footprints to be of as high a standard as possible!

One solution I came up with was to post our Writer’s Guidelines on our website, which clearly spell out exactly what I am looking for. Hopefully any potential contributors would study these thoroughly before submitting – it’s a simple thing, and I know every “writing for magazines” book or article says this – but it really is true, I can tell a lot of people don’t read it by their submissions!

This is one of the reasons I like to lead the occasional writer’s workshop – such as at the Word Writer’s Fair ( )later this year – so that I can teach others about writing for magazines. Hopefully, the workshop participants will then go on to become contributors to Footprints!

How do you blend editing with time to write?

People often ask me how I manage to do everything that I do and I can honestly answer, I don’t know – it must be God! In addition to my Footprints commitments, I have a husband and two teens, I work four days a week, there are household chores, church, friends and family … but I absolutely love what I do and so it doesn’t feel like work. Perhaps that is the secret!

Sometimes I have to make tough decisions--there are heaps of good things, things that I *want* to do, but I can’t do all of them. It is then I have to seek God and find out what He wants me to pursue, and what needs to be pruned from my life. A couple of years ago I felt Him clearly impress me with the fact that He has given me a magazine to run, and I need to focus on that. I *love* to speak at women’s groups and events, but since then I have put this on the back-burner – I just don’t have the time. It’s not just the turning up at events and speaking, it’s the hours of preparation and prayer that go into each engagement … Fortunately God has raised up Melanie and Nicola (other ladies on the Footprints Team) and they are doing an awesome job, sharing at ladies breakfasts, conferences and the like. However I look forward to the day that I can take up this aspect of the ministry again!

These days I find that I do very little actual writing for the magazine, as I am so busy with my editing duties. But I write a devotional piece for our free monthly Footprints FOCUS ezine, and also keep a Footprints blog, which is where I enjoy the creative outlet of writing.

I don’t write for other magazines these days--I just don’t have the time!

Tell us about the editing conference you attended recently.

Last year I was extremely blessed to attend a Christian Editor’s conference in Manila, the Philippines, which was hosted by Magazine Training International. MTI is an American organisation which exists to encourage Christian magazine publishing throughout the world. Their mandate is to support others in publishing Christian magazines, as they believe that it’s important to have “culturally appropriate publications – where God puts the vision into people’s hearts to publish and reach their own” (Sharon Mumper, from MTI).

Our trainers were top notch and included Mark Galli, Senior Managing Editor at Christianity Today from the USA; Estera Wieja, Managing Editor of Nasze Inspiracje (Our Inspirations) a Polish women’s magazine; and Terry White, who has founded three Christian magazines and taught journalism at colleges across the USA.

Here are just some of my favourite “pearls of wisdom” from the conference presenters:

“Being an editor is a great spiritual discipline as it causes you to put others before yourself,” Mark Galli, Christianity Today.

“Don’t just write about things that are wrong – how can we make it right?” Estera Wieja, Nasze Inspiracje.

“Writing is good stewardship. One article may reach hundreds of people,” Terry White, BMH Books.

I learnt many things, but probably the biggest thing was how important it is to look after our readers and writers. As Rick Warren says in the first sentence of The Purpose Driven Life, “it’s not about me,” (and yes I have made that mistake in the past!). It’s about honouring God, encouraging our readers, nurturing younger Christians, comforting the hurting and lonely, reaching out to others with the good news of the gospel, and giving writers an opportunity to grow and improve and publish their work, and so much more …

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

When I first realised that anybody could write and submit material to magazines (and even get paid for it!), I went to the library and devoured as many books on the subject as I could – so that would be the first thing I would recommend to other budding writers. Look under Dewey Decimal Number 808! Other resources I recommend are:

§ the US publication Writer’s Digest;

§ “The Australian Writer's Marketplace: every contact you will ever need to succeed in the writing business” (compiled and edited by Queensland Writers' Centre);

§ joining an online group such as;

§ submitting your work and honing your craft at;

§ joining a writer’s group such as;

§ Attending writer’s events and festivals such as

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain

Start small. Don’t send a 2000 word feature and expect to be published in a national magazine! The best way to start building a portfolio of published work, is by submitting to non-paying and/or smaller publications. The best way to break into a paying market is to try your hand at fillers (short pieces)--just make sure the publication accepts unsolicited manuscripts or it will be a waste of time. As the editor gets to know you and trust your work, they will be more interested in seeing other (longer) articles from you--and may even begin commissioning you for particular stories!

Tell us an inspiring story you published in Footprints. What is the link to the full story?

How do I choose just one?! There are so many, I actually wrote a blog post about this not long ago! I know that Footprints has been instrumental in seeing at least one person come into the kingdom of God, and probably many more that I won’t know about until we get to heaven.

One lady wrote to tell us about how Footprints helped her break the bonds and bitterness of unforgiveness in her life, and that she now has peace. Another girl didn’t go ahead with a suicide attempt after reading one of our articles.

I’m also often told that reading Footprints is like a big warm hug, which is exactly what we pray for!

Tell us something about your latest issue …

We are currently celebrating our 50th issue of Footprints magazine, a very exciting occasion! Many of the articles are around the theme of “50”, including “Life Begins at 50”, and “The Year of Jubilee”. We have also marked this important occasion with a blog tour (for the full itinerary, please click here); a cover girl competition; and we are having an informal get-together in a Brisbane park on 24th July. (If anybody is interested in joining us, please email editor @ footprintsaustralia for details). And as a special offer to your readers, they can also email us to request a free trial issue!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Aussie Picture Book Writer

TO BE IN THE DRAW FOR THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAY, or for submissions for author interviews, POST A COMMENT (or ask a question of the author) and CLICK FOLLOW at the bottom LH corner.

This month's free book winners are Corallie and Linda, both from QLD.

Aleesah Darlison is a new picture book writer with Wombat Books. Welcome Aleesah...
What inspired you to write Puggle’s Problem?

I’m such a big softie when it comes to animals. When I saw my first puggle (baby echidna) a few years back, I immediately fell in love. I just knew I had to write a story about puggles... and so Puggle’s Problem was born.

What are you passionate about?

Animals, making kids laugh (which is a much more pleasant sound than hearing them cry)! chocolate, books, social justice, and being a good mum.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

Trying to be everything you need to be in the competitive world of children’s writing can be demanding. Not only do you have to manufacture your own ‘product’ (i.e. write your books), you also have to be your own PR and Sales department, Accounts department, Events Manager and so on. It’s exhausting! Being a newcomer to the field, I have my work cut out for me in getting my name out there. But I just keep chipping away, doing what I can. I’m starting small and local and hoping the word will slowly spread....

How did you come to be published with Wombat Books?

I’m always on the lookout for an opportunity. When I heard about Wombat Books, a new QLD publisher, through the Alpha2Omega competition, I checked out their website and saw they were accepting unsolicited manuscripts. By this time, I had written quite a few picture book manuscripts, so I picked two that I thought were the most suitable for the Wombat Books list and sent them in. As luck would have it, the publisher at Wombat Books liked my puggle story... and the rest is history!

Who were your favourite authors as a child?

I think every girl growing up when I did read Enid Blyton. I also loved C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Series. Those two authors were really bread and butter reading for my generation. Jean M. Auel’s prehistoric series was also a favourite when I was a little older. I lapped that stuff up.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I think the desire was always there, but I stifled it for a long time. When I was a teenager I won a writing competition and had some stories published in an anthology. When I expressed an interest in becoming a writer, however, I was told to forget about it! That I would have to live in a third world country on a tiny pittance and never get anywhere. It seems funny now, but I guess the people advising me were just trying to help. Or perhaps they’d read my stories and were trying to tell me how bad they were without being too unkind! I really don’t think I was a good writer back then, my writing was too raw, my skills completely un-honed. But the desire to be a writer never really left me. I went to university and did other things, but I was always writing in my spare time. When I stopped full-time work to become a full-time mum, that’s when my dream to become a writer flared up again. I decided this time I was going to make it happen. And now no one is more surprised than I am that my dream has actually become a reality.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

Work hard. Write constantly. Don’t ever give up.

What are the themes running through your work?

Friendship. Loyalty. Love. Kindness to animals and to others. Courage.

Tell us something about your latest book.

Puggle’s Problem is the story of a tiny puggle, a baby echidna, called Pipp. Pipp has a huge problem: he can’t get his spines. Tired of waiting for them to appear, Pipp sets out to ask his friends for help. Puggle’s Problem teaches children about the importance of patience and that sometimes we have to wait for good things to happen. It also showcases some of Australia’s best-loved native animals. Award-winning wildlife artist, Sandra Temple, illustrated the book for me and she’s done a wonderful job.

My next book, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, is due out in September 2010 and it’s for girls aged nine plus. It’s about identical twins Persephone and Portia Pinchgut and is written in diary format by Persephone. It’s a fun—and funny—read and it’s illustrated by Serena Geddes. Serena’s illustrations add so much humour and depth to the story, I just know girls are going to love it. If people want to find out more about me, they can visit my website at:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Inspirational Historical Romance from New Zealand

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Last Virgin in Year Ten, Nerrilee's World, Karaoke Kate and To a Distant Land TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT to the columnists OR A QUESTION to the author, THEN CLICK FOLLOW in the bottom LH corner. You will also be considered for an author interview some time in the future.

If you are an unpublished writer, we'd like to see you up on our NEW WRITERS page.

We will go to a different genre this week before heading back to children's lit again next week. This time we look at inspirational historical romance by Julianne Jones from New Zealand. Here is Julianne:-

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about a lot of things but I would have to say that my faith and my family are up there at the top of the list. I'm also passionate about writing and honestly, why else would I do it? It's been said that, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’ (Ernest Hemingway). Computers may have replaced typewriters but they've not made the writing any easier. I also love reading and quilting and long hot summers (which unfortunately I no longer experience) and the Australian bush (but not the snakes). As a writer, my passion is to share God's love via the written word and I hope that in some small way I do that.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

Finding time and finding inspiration. I work part-time as an early childhood teacher and arrange my hours to allow time for writing but there are many weeks that go by when I'm not able to write as often as I would like because life intrudes (like now where I'm doing this interview rather than writing). As for inspiration, I'll admit that I don't understand what it is at all or how it comes but when it does come I just enjoy it and make the most of it. The rest of the time I just slog away writing and hope that I manage to create something worthy of being read.

Do you ever experience self doubt?

Never. In case, that sounds conceited (and I know it does), let me explain. God has given me this desire to write and I've always wanted to do that. I feel fulfilled when I write--as if I'm doing what I've been created to do. I rarely if ever doubt that. But can I make it as a writer? That's where the self doubt comes in. I belong to an online Christian writers' group and one of the first things I discovered about that group is that there are a lot of incredibly gifted Christian writers around who have never been published. To realise that was humbling. Who am I that I could think for even a moment that what I write is worth publishing? And now that I am published, I can only be amazed at God's goodness to me because I know how undeserving I am.

What do you do about it?

I write. I pray. And I trust God that if He wants what I've written to be published then it will be. And I keep reading all my favourite authors and hope that perhaps in some way I will be able to absorb some of their wonderful wonderful ability and in time write half as well as they do.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Write. Write. Write. Read. Read. Read. Make the dictionary your friend. Join a writers' group. Enter competitions. Hone your skills. Never ever give up. If this is what God has called you to do then it will happen in His time not yours.

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

I joined a writers' group and entered their weekly challenge and found that the discipline of writing to a topic and keeping to a word count was invaluable in honing my skills. I tried different genres (even poetry for which I have absolutely no talent) just to increase my own knowledge and build my skills. I read articles on writing and was inspired by author biographies (especially Janette Oke whose biography I used to borrow from my local library every year). Anything that increased my knowledge and skills was not to be dismissed. However I never took a formal course but certainly wouldn't rule this out for those looking to hone their skills.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

Don't dismiss the magazines and ezines that don't pay for your work. By submitting your work and getting it published you are beginning to build up a writing portfolio even if you're not earning. It's perhaps a good way to get a foot in the door. It's also important to know your target audience and to write accordingly.

What are the themes running through your work?

I guess it's no surprise to discover that the two things at the top of my passionate list—faith and family—are major themes in my writing. I also like to explore other themes such as friendship and marriage. In fact, I like to think of my books as love stories in the truest sense: stories about love between family members, love between friends, and God's love for mankind.

Tell us something about your latest book.

To A Distant Land follows the lives of three young people: Katie Donovan who is wrongly accused and sentenced to seven years transportation to a distant land far from family and country; Samuel McKinnon, recently graduated from college and who accepts a position as spiritual advisor on a convict ship, intending to return home once the journey is complete but discovers that God’s plans are contrary to his own; and Rhiannon Sanford who immigrates with her family to Australia after a rift between her grandfather and father. It is a story about friendship and faith set against a backdrop of transportation and the harsh realities of life in colonial Australia.

I wrote the book with young adults (11 to 14 year olds) in mind but it's not been marketed specifically for that age group and from the feedback I've received it seems that it's not just the young adults who enjoy the book. However, one thing I was quite mindful of when writing was the huge responsibility of preserving the innocence of the readers (particularly given the target audience). For this reason, there are only veiled references to some of the social issues of the day (such as privileged sons forcing themselves on innocent girls) and which are not likely to be picked up by younger readers, and careful handling of the facts relating to convicts and transportation.

There are another two books in this series (one already completed and waiting for a publisher; the other partly written) which continue the stories of Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable—the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Here is a link to my website: The first chapter of the book can be read here:

I also have a number of blogs but the two that might interest readers are my writing blog A Reason to Write: and my personal blog On Eagles' Wings:

Thank you, Julianne. This book fills a gap in the Australian New Zealand inspirational marketplace. I don't remember a significant convict romance since Margaret Reeson's and I look forward to reading it.


Sunday, June 20, 2010


THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAYS are Listening land, The last virgin in year 10 and As the eagle, flies the king. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT THEN CLICK FOLLOW.
THE CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL CONFERENCE 2010, run by the NSW branch, was an enlightening experience as well as lots of fun. Some of our best known children’s authors and publishers gave their tips. Dee White’s Sandy Fussell’s insights into online marketing was particularly helpful:-

• Dee showed how to schedule a blog tour ( see Sally Murphy’s Aussie Blog Tours for examples) Dee noted the importance of having a different take on your book for different blog hosts., e.g. the author’s journey, the research process, themes, the characters, etc. Doing her online book launch, she said, took around four hours without time for a cup of tea!

• Sandy revealed the secrets of Facebook. The main surprise to me was how a Tweet (from Twitter) and a blog from Blogger can appear automatically on Facebook. Sally also recommended Cassandra Gold’s article online called How Facebook changed my life.

• Sandy Fussell’s website is a benchmark for a great children’s writer’s site. The National Library has declared Sandy Fussell’s site a national treasure by the service. Sally Murphy, who runs Aussie Blog Tours told us about the problems of using rhyme to write verse novels. Thanks, Sally!

A session on Graphic Novels (by Paul MacDonald) showed their growing popularity. Everything from Shakespeare and Pride and prejudice to Maus—winner of the Booker Prize—have taken the graphic novel format to new levels. He recommends The lexicon of comicana. Create your own graphic novel at

A variety of well known icons, from Shaun Tan and his surrealistic picture books to Melina Marchetta’s heart wrenching teen stories about loss and grief were showcased by their authors. Jackie French and Libby Gleeson had launches. Andy Griffiths, Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas--all the big names in Australian children's literature were there and lesser known authors had signings. The heartwarming images of Bob Graham and the stories behind them were inspirational. A pre-release of Jeannie Baker’s Mirror was amazing to see. Look out for it!
There were many more fascinating author talks and publisher displays. If only we could be in three places at once!
Congratulations to Annie, signing her books alongside Margaret and Julie!

Publishers discussing the e-book was an eye opener. Picture books would be more expensive than regular books as e-books because of the technology involved.
Some publishers felt that the lower cost of production meant there would be a greater percentage of royalties for the author. There was no consensus on this point. Stay tuned, as more comes to light on this subject…



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are The Singing Silence by Annie Hamilton, Karaoke Kate by Dale Harcombe and Chirpy's New Home by Rochelle Manners. To be in the draw or have a chance to be interviewed, post a comment and click FOLLOW.

The winners of our current giveaways are Lynnette from NSW, James from QLD, Narelle from ACT, Mary from TASSY, Jeannie CA, Laura from QLD and Janet from QLD. There are still books to give away.

As the CHILDRENS BOOK COUNCIL conference is next week, I thought it appropriate to interview a veteran of the children’s book trade: DALE HARCOMBE. I remember reading Dale’s books to my eldest when she was young.

You can find Dale at

If you'll be at the conference and would like to be interviewed, email us through this site. ( ) from June 18th to June 19th.

Here is Dale...

What are you passionate about?

Lots of things. Here are a few. Sharing faith, being married and sharing what I have learned over many years of marriage with others through my marriage and blogs at www., writing fiction and poetry for children and adults, books and reading, singing and music, and following the Sydney Swans AFL team.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

Knowing what ideas to concentrate on and what to let go. Finding time for all the things I want to do. Pray about it and try and prioritize. That still doesn’t mean I always get it right though.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Read as much as possible especially of the type of genre you want to write. Make contact with other writers through online groups or face to face at writing groups and festivals. Study publishers’ lists and see what they are publishing and try and target what you write to the appropriate publisher. Of course, even that doesn’t always guarantee publication. Don’t give up despite rejections but keep writing, revising and submitting.

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

Workshops at local writing centres like the NSW Writers Centre cans be helpful as can SCBWI conferences and CBCA conferences to get a picture of what is already in the market place, meet other writers and sometimes connect with editors or agents.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

Write lots, read lots, revise lots, check publisher websites and guidelines and then submit.

What are the themes you explore in your books?

Choice and how one person's choice often affects more than them but affects others in a family is a big theme in much of my work, as is how people deal with discouragement and the difficulties that life hands them. From Chasing after the Wind, my first published novel, all of my books feature family relationships and relationships with friends. Peer pressure and bullying comes into The Goanna Island Mystery. My novels often feature people who are not in well off financial circumstances but are battlers e.g. Chasing after the Wind is set in the Great Depression and in the present day in Western Sydney, an area I was very familiar with. Others, including my two as yet unpublished adult fiction manuscripts are set in country areas, as is Karaoke Kate. Again these are areas I am familiar with. The Goanna Island Mystery and the two Team Turbo are set in coastal areas similar to where I now live. All are set in Australia. Kaleidoscope, my book of poems, is very much about the people and places of Australia. It contains a number of poems involving social comment on topics such as homelessness, abuse, youth suicide among more lyrical poems and family oriented poems and poems about people on the fringe of society. Water and music are part of all my novels and poetry.

Tell us something about your latest books.

Lights, Camera, Action, and Saltspray Idol are my two latest books, both published towards the end of last year. They are about a group of children called Team Turbo who live in the coastal town of Saltspray. In Lights, Camera, Action they audition for a movie shoot as extras. As well they visit Doughnut Island and that doesn’t turn out as expected. In Saltspray Idol they form a band and end up winning a place in the finals of the Idol competition and a trip to Sydney.
I was approached by the publisher and asked to write for the series as Wendy Pye had already published Karaoke Kate and Red Alert!

Lights, Camera, Action and Saltspray Idol are part of the Interventions series to help encourage reluctant readers nine to 12 years of age. They come with lots of teacher resources.

**For submissions for author interviews to AussieWriters, email CLICK FOLLOW and POST A COMMENT. And we will look at your work.