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If you are an unpublished writer, we'd like to see you up on our NEW WRITERS page.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