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: