Post Script: Writing The Dream – A Serenity Press Anthology

writing-the-dream

Writing the Dream

24 Authors One Dream 24 Inspiring Stories

A Serenity Press Anthology

Serenity Press

ISBN: 9780994633736

 

Description:

A collection of 25 stories written by talented authors. No two writers are the same, but they have one thing in common: they are storytellers at heart and their deepest desire is to be heard. Writing the Dream shares the stories of twenty-five Australian writers, from emerging to established authors. Some are traditionally published, while others have taken the self-publishing route. Some have faced rejection after rejection, while others have had a dream path.

 

But, while their writing journeys are different, all of them strive to create, entertain, inspire and inform. And all of them have unique and creative voices that deserve to be heard.

 

With contributors including Anna Jacobs, Juliet Marillier, Natasha Lester, Jenn J McLeod, and a host of other talented writers, the stories in Writing the Dream are set to strike an inspirational chord in every hopeful writer’s heart.

 

 

My View:

Australian authors share their personal stories of process, inspiration, writing experiences and publishing in a very personal and honest collection of short stories. So many of the names here are familiar to me; some are authors I have already had the pleasure of reading their work, or I may have seen them talk at a festival or “know” via social media, regardless of how I have “met” this diverse group of writers, it felt like these authors were reaching out and speaking directly to me – such an intimate and inspirational approach; I highly value the advice given so generously here.

 

If you aspire to write, or dabble, or dream or perhaps know someone who does then this little book will brighten their day and get the words flowing on the pages.

 

As a bonus you get an extra chapter free, twenty five individual stories and each author provides a set of tips at the end of their chapter. One of the best hints/tips I think is from Melinda Tognini:

“Just start.” (p.233, emphasis added)

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post – Anthea Hodgson – Writing…and Life

the-drifter

Welcome Anthea to my blog. Anthea is a Western Australian writer who has just had her debut novel, The Drifter, published by Penguin Random House Australia. Anthea’s book is a most enjoyable read; it is an authentic, original story that gives voice to many contemporary issues in a complex yet enjoyable read… Themes of fractured families, death and atonement and survivor guilt are explored skilfully in this heart-warming coming-of-age drama.

anthea

Anthea has had what may seem a magical passage to publication.  A woman in a hurry, she wrote her first novel The Drifter in five weeks, and pitched it to Penguin Random House in five minutes. She was then signed to a two book deal. WOW!!! I can hear the gasps of appreciation (we all know how hard it is to score a publishing deal) and to have written this book in just five weeks? Amazing! I invite Anthea to tell us about her writing journey.

 

Anthea have you always yearned to be a writer?

Absolutely! I have always loved books and writing, but I learned early on that it was an impractical passion on which to base a career, so I shoved the urge deep down inside me and left it to fester in a nice way, while I worked in radio, organising and writing interviews. It was a fascinating job (with access to free books – yay!) but once I had children I found it hard to fit radio shifts in with my two small kids and a husband who worked away much of the time, so I felt as if it was time to finally give it a bash.

 

When did you first start writing?

As an adult, I started just before I wrote The Drifter. I haven’t ever studied writing because I hated the thought of anyone reading my work, and I think I’d be too confused by input from a writing group or formal course. I think I last wrote in year ten at school, although I had a kind of journal in my early twenties. The Drifter was the first time I sat down and plotted out a manuscript, although I did have a false start a year before with a manuscript that never really resolved itself. I think Drifter worked for me because I wrote it down scene by scene on little yellow cards and literally worked from the top of the pile to the bottom, in order.

 

What inspired The Drifter?

The Drifter was inspired initially by my love of the country and my home-town. I knew I wanted to write a rural romance, so the idea of a drifter coming to town seemed a good way to do it, because it allowed the protagonist and therefore the reader to discover how the community and the farm worked at the same time. Just before I wrote it my father died of Alzheimers disease in a nursing home in Perth after a long and horrible illness. There are a couple of themes that came from that time – the idea of what makes a good death, and a good life, and the idea that you never really lose the people you love – because you can take them with you. Dad’s death showed me that, and I take him with me everyday.

 

Five weeks to write a complete novel- seems like an incredible feat, how did you achieve this?

My number one rule for writing the Drifter – get out of bed! Writing the Drifter was a mad, joyful dash for me – I had always wanted to write, I had found my plot and my themes, and I couldn’t write it fast enough. The Drifter was a wonderful experience. It was the coming together of my love of the country, of writing, of the people I grew up with, of laughter, and of my dear dad. The Drifter came galloping out of me at three o’clock every morning, surrounded by the wonderful warm and quirky women of Yealering, the beautiful countryside, and the strength of their relationships and love. The romance between Cate and Henry was so much fun to write, but I think I wrote the manuscript quickly, thousands of words a day, because I already knew the characters so well and because I had something to say, about friendship and about death. My farm is described in the book, our old dog, the place we buried him, members of my family, friends – everyone got stuffed into the Drifter’s pages.

 

Getting the attention of a publisher – how did this happen?  

This was the hard part, and I think it is probably difficult for most writers. For two years I sent Drifter out into the void, with no response whatsoever. I sent it to all of the major publishers and never heard back, I entered it in a competition two years in a row, where it only had to be in the top 15 entries of 28 to get to the next round – it wasn’t. It sat in slush piles and it was rejected by agents. And so it would have gone on, unless the wonderful Romance Writers of Australia hadn’t come to my aid. They have a yearly conference with a valuable offer – the chance to pitch to a number of agents and publishers for five minutes! The year I pitched the conference was in Melbourne. I flew to Melbourne and stayed a few days. I was too freaked out to actually attend the event – I pretty much wandered about the city chanting my pitch to myself like a mad woman. And somehow it worked – I lined up outside a door, someone rang a little bell and I sat down in front of Ali Watts from Penguin and said, Hello, my name is Anthea Hodgson – and I’ve written a rural romance about death. This one small act of bravery resulted in a two-book deal with my dream publisher – I was so lucky Ali took a chance on me, with no training or track record, and with no online presence. It was both exhilarating an extremely humbling to be handed my dream. I never mind the early starts – they are a privilege!

 

Tell us a little bit about your next book and when we can expect to see it.

Well! Funnily enough I’m just finishing it off now. Penguin was silly/generous enough to offer me a couple of extra weeks, so I’m obsessing and tinkering about at 3am again, getting it ready to deliver. It will be out around August of 2017. This novel might be called The Cowgirl, or perhaps The Firebird, I’m not sure, but it follows the story of Deirdre, the wonderful old battle-axe who stole so many scenes in The Drifter. It is her story – how she came to be such a tough old nut, and is also the story of her granddaughter Teddy, who is trapped on the farm, milking the cow – just as her grandmother has always done. Or is she? What lies buried next to the old pepper trees – and could it change her life?

 

Where can readers connect with you?

I am hoping to do some library talks around Perth and some country areas early in the new year – check out my website and I’ll keep you posted!

My facebook is Anthea Hodgson Australian Author

Website is Antheahodgson.com

Twitter @AntheaHodgson

Insta Antheahodgson

As you can see – I like to keep it simple..!

 

Thanks you for sharing so generously with my readers and congratulations on writing a fantastic book!

Thanks so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed The Drifter – as you can tell – it’s very close to my heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Gift Suggestion – Flash Giveaway

I recently discovered THE perfect gift for the writer in your life (I have a few  writers to consider this year so this will tick off a few names on my Christmas List)

win-pilot-2017-a-diary-for-writers

Pilot 2017 is bursting with features! Stay motivated and productive with weekly advice, tips and book recommendations from more than fifty inspiring authors including Benjamin Law, Anna Funder and Inga Simpson. PLUS there’s 150 competitions, festivals and awards, a years’ worth of writing prompts and tons of industry info.

Find Pilot at pilotpress.com.au  on Facebook & Instagram

 

And the wonderful people at Pilot have generously offered me a copy to give away so you can share the love too. *Australian residents only.*  This is an easy giveaway – all you have to do is click through this link.

Pilot 2017: A Diary for Writers  and look at the contents page and tell me what useful item is on page 188.

 

**I will randomly select one winner on the 14th of December 2016.

 

***Congratulations Deborah – and thanks to all who entered. ***

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Olga Lorenzo

The Light on the Water

The Light On The Water

Olag Lorenzo

Allen & Unwin

RRP A$29.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother’s House, which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards, including the IMPAC Prize. Olga has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. She has taught writing for 17 years at RMIT University and various other tertiary institutions, and has a Masters and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. She previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age.

 

Welcome to my blog Olga. I very much enjoyed your latest release, it is so evocative at times I had difficulty reading.It certainly made me think.

Olga Lorenzo photo(c) Tania Jovanovic

Olga Lorenzo photo (c) Tania Jovanovic

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Olga Lorenzo

Let’s talk early careers; teaching, journalism and other paths to the road of writer. How did you early careers influence your approach to writing?
I’ve found journalism and novel writing quite different; one is almost like filling out a form to me, in the sense that there is a known and recognizable structure, especially in the inverted pyramid that is a news story. Writing a novel sometimes feels like trying to find a path through seawater. There are very few markers.

 

Let’s talk writing. I know in 1996 you published the novel The Rooms in My Mother’s House, did you write other pieces before this or plunge straight into writing a full length novel?
I plunged into the novel; I had always wanted to write a novel.

 

 

I see that you have won the prestigious Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship – scholarships and grants provide the author with other resources and assistance other than just (useful)$$$ – how did winning these award/grants assist you in your path to publishing?
I was extremely fortunate that when I applied for the Arts Council grant, I had to ask for a letter of support. I approached Hilary McPhee, whose son I had once babysat. Hilary was then head of Pan Macmillan, and she looked at my excerpt and offered to publish the novel when I finished it. I had only just started and that was very exciting and sustained me as I was writing.

 

 

What do you love about writing?
I don’t know that I love writing. I love having written. But Toni Morrison once said that the great thing about writing is that you can use all of your earned wisdom, everything you have learned about people and life, all your pain and all your joy can go into it. I do love that about the work I get to do. Only art allows for anything like that.

 

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author?
That is so hard to say. I go through phases and of course I read as much as I can. As a child and young adult I read voraciously. I loved Hermann Hesse and John Steinbeck. More recently I have loved Elizabeth Strout. And Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping is a gorgeous book.

 

Do you have a favourite book?
No, but I think that Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, while flawed, has moments of absolute brilliance. I love strong characters.

 

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your books – your novels are character driven narratives – how do you construct a character? Full formed before you begin writing? Influenced by people you know?
They are always fictional but yes, they are influenced by what I have experienced in life. I tell my students to write from life in the sense of using their own learned wisdom, as Toni Morrison says. And then fictionalising for all your worth.

 

 

Let’s talk about themes in your work. The social construct of family seems to feature heavily in your work. What other issues do you want your readers to consider in The Light on The Water?
Ideas about social inclusion and exclusion are huge to me, and I DO think it starts with family. Sometimes we are outsiders even in our own families, for instance, when we are not fully accepted by in-laws or step-children. Sometimes a parent doesn’t accept their child’s sexual orientation. All forms of being unaccepted and excluded are very painful, as we are social animals and don’t do well on our own. We need our clan, our herd. I was writing about this in The Light on the Water, and am returning to it in my next novel.

 

Who do you see as your prime audience?
I want as many people to read my books as possible. I aspire for them to be thoughtful and intelligent and well-written, but also accessible to a wide audience. I sometimes think of something like The Simpsons cartoons, which I think a wide variety of people respond to at different levels of meaning, depending on their ability to understand satire.

 

 

Lets’ talk next book? Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?
It is set in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs and also inner city Melbourne, and is about a single mother who brings home the wrong baby from the hospital. When she finds her true daughter, she begins a relationship with that child’s father, who is also single. But the daughter she didn’t take home from hospital has grown into a cold and haughty young woman, partly because she has been over-indulged by her father. As a result, she is unable to love or feel empathy and doesn’t accept my protagonist’s attempts to love her.

Keep in touch with Olga here:

F/b Olga Lorenzo – Author
Twitter Olga Lorenzo @olgalorenzo3

And I Know That You’ll Use Them However You Want To*

Margot makes some very astute points here

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Prior Knowledge ReadersIn yesterday’s post, I mentioned that authors often tap their own experiences and prior knowledge as they create new stories. That’s only natural if, as the research suggests, knowledge comes from associating new things with what we already know. But what about readers? Readers come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and have a wide variety of experiences. So how does an author invite readers to tap their own life experiences to make meaning from what they’re reading, and thus connect with a book at a deeper level?

I think it’s important to start by saying that readers enjoy using their imaginations. Wise authors respect their readers, and give them credit for the ability to imagine things they may not have experienced. Just because a reader hasn’t, say, been to Canada’s Ellesmere Island doesn’t mean that he or she can’t fully enjoy M.J. McGrath’s Edie Kiglatuk novels, which…

View original post 1,023 more words

In Conversation With Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Fiona Palmer

fiona1

Welcome Fiona to my blog and thank you for taking time from your busy schedule of farming and writing and family responsibilities to participate in this discussion about all things reading and writing.

 

Carol: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started on your writing career? Were you always interested in writing? How was the road to publication for you? Can you share some of your memorable experiences about the process? I know many writers – in – waiting will be eager to hear about your journey.

 

Fiona: Thanks for having me Carol, it’s my pleasure. I fell into writing. Being a student who couldn’t spell very well and was lucky to get a C in English, writing never entered my mind, yet I did get immense pleasure from writing stories in class. But my teacher was very literary focused. So fast forward a few years, a toddler, a baby and a full time job running the local shop and I start to write down this story that had been growing in my mind. It encompassed everything I loved about rural living, about our way of life and some of my dreams. I think it was also my escape from such a busy life of work and nappies. Three years later I had the finished product after I’d had help with the ASA (Australian Society of Authors ) mentorship I’d won also. I sent the first three chapters off to Penguin, and it found a publishers desk. She, Ali Watts, emailed requesting the rest and then a few months later I was offered a contract. Amazing. And Ali Watts was Rachael Treasures publisher at the time also and she works with many amazing authors who I aspire to. I had a whirlwind ride into publishing and haven’t looked back.

 

Carol: What does a typical day in your life look like?

 

Fiona: Get kids off to school, housework, sit down and write (if I’m not out on the farm driving a tractor) and then I stop when kids get home from school. Sometimes if I have edits, I’ll spend weekends and after school hours getting it done. But if I have no book work to do then I’m busy doing community work, volunteer work for various sporting clubs and then work out on the farm if they need me. 

Fiona Palmer and Ruby

Fiona and “Ruby” the tractor.

 

Carol: What inspires you to write?

 

Fiona: That is easy. It’s all around me. My home, the country, the rural lifestyle, the people. Our little town has a motto on its personalised number plates and it is: Pingaring, the place, the people. It pretty well sums it up for me. And when I go off to work at the farm I come home so inspired after spending time in the wide open paddocks, watching the kangaroos, birds, sheep or smelling the fresh turned dirt. It’s all around me. So many stories. I love sharing my passion with everyone through my books.

"The Farm"

“The Farm”

 

Carol: I loved your book The Sunnyvale Girls, the links to local history and the Italian POW’s interred in Western Australia made your narrative unique and engaging. Can you give us a little peak into what we can expect in your new book?

The Sunnyvale Girls

Fiona: I’m editing my new book now. The Saddler Boys. It’s based on a small town called Lake Biddy who may lose their Primary School. Our town lost it’s school in 1998 and it changes everything, effects the town. So that is one of the main threads, with a few other bits thrown in.

 

Carol: What’s in a name? Do you categorise your writing as Rural fiction or Romance?   Or a hybrid of the two?

 

Fiona: I like to call it rural fiction or rural romance, either one is fine. At least the readers know what they are going to get. I’m not embarrassed to say I write romance. It’s in a lot of books, even those that don’t class themselves under a ‘romance’ heading. 

 

Carol: You will presenting a session at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (May 29-31 2015) A Season of Love – what can we expect to hear about in this session?

 

Fiona: I’ll be sharing my journey to publication and the story behind The Sunnyvale Girls, plus answering any questions people may have. I love questions, fire them at me.

 

Carol: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

 

Fiona: Just that I hope when you pick up one of my books you can feel the passion and love I have for the country and that I can take you on an emotional journey to escape to a new place for a while.

 

Carol: Thank you for taking part in my “In Conversation With” blog posts. I look forward to seeing you at the Margaret Rivers Readers and Writers Festival. I’ll bring my camera.  🙂

In Conversation With Jenn J MCleod

Welcome Jenn to my blog and thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this discussion about all things reading, writing, Riesling and travel. But first congratulations on the release of your new book Season of Shadow and Light, a powerful Australian narrative of secrets, trust and complex family relationships (no spoilers here Jenn).

Season of Shadow and Light

Jenn I have discovered that you are now travelling the country in a fifth wheeler – how exciting. Last year we (husband and dog) spent eight months on the road in our pop top caravan yet I can’t imagine packing up my life and living in a caravan permanently.

Carol: Can you tell me a little bit about how you transitioned from Sydney corporate world to running a dog friendly B & B in a small town (double points from me for it being dog friendly) to life on the road in a fifth wheeler? What was the impetus for this last huge lifestyle change?

Jenn:

Travelling with pets should not be so hard. Our B&B was all about the dog. Our motto: “We prefer fluffy dogs to fluffy robes.”

For me, life has been a series of stepping stones, knowing I would end up back on the road. It was thirty years ago and three years camping around Australia, living out of a converted ford F100 and tent, that I discovered my affinity with country life. And no one was more surprised than me! (I’d started my career as a hairdresser and a make-up girl in a department store. My friends at the time had to almost break my fingers so I’d let go of the hairdryer I couldn’t take on the trip!) Fast forward through twenty years spent in corporate roles with long hours and good pay (and a few overseas trips) and I knew I had to get back to the country. In a way I have come full circle, but with the luxury of a fifth wheeler – with hairdryer and coffee machine! 

The Fifth Wheeler

The Fifth Wheeler

 

Carol: What does a typical day in your life look like?

Jenn:

My days probably sound pretty boring. But right now I am in a lovely beachside van park, so the view is spectacular. (It helps that my current work is set in a beachside caravan park in a small coastal town!) I wake at about 7AM (van parks are surprisingly quiet, except during the school hols!) and after breakkie we take the little one-eyed, 15 y.o dude dog (aka my muse) for a ‘walk’. By then it’s about 9AM and time for coffee and social media hour (or answer blog questions J ). After that I start writing. I write anywhere, mostly outside if the weather is good. I did get a small desk and large monitor installed in the van for winter and for editing (the big screen helps, plus I get to sit in a proper office chair – occasionally!)

I chat to people a lot. I observe people a lot. I am finding just being out of the house has heightened my senses and the way I use them in my writing. “Get out from behind the computer and experience ‘life’” has always been the advice I give writers. I guess you could say I took my own advice — to the extreme!

Jenn J McLeod

Jenn in action

 

Carol: Is the town Coolabah Tree Gully based on any particular town or region you have travelled to or visited?

Jenn:

My Seasons Quartet novels (House for all Seasons, Simmering Season, Season of Shadow and Light, and my 2016 release) have all been inspired by the north NSW countryside – inland. (Dorrigo and north to Kyogle.) The area of Bonablo/Kyogle inspired Paige’s road trip at the start of the book.

Carol – We drove through that region (Dorrigo) last year – on our way home and said we would love to visit that spot again -so beautiful.

 

Carol: How many kilometres have you travelled so far on this trip and where are you heading next?

Jenn:

Due to an unexpected family situation (and selling the house faster than we anticipated) we’ve had to stay close to home (Coffs Harbour area). As of June we are heading north, to Queensland and onto some Rockhampton friends who have a paddock we can park in. (We love free/cheap camping!) What I hope to do while travelling through smaller regions/towns is drop into local libraries to say ‘hi’ and offer to do an author event with locals, or even writing sessions. I did an author chat at Casino last January and it was fabulous. Small towns rarely get authors dropping by for a chat. I’d like to change that. Readers on Twitter can follow my #WriteRoundOz hashtag.

 

 

Carol: Is there a particular region that you yearn to discover?

Jenn:

I’ve seen very little of QLD. Thirty years ago our trip was cut short due to family illness so we never did get to QLD or Tassie. We also sped (figuratively speaking) around the Victorian coast. Oh, and also Margaret River and Esperance. And . . . and . . . .and . . .

 

Carol: Do you have a favourite caravanning destination? Do you prefer to stay in caravan parks or free camp?

Jenn:

We are well set up for free camping. Unfortunately, a writer’s imagination can be a scary place. (I curse the day I watched Wolf Creek – you may have noticed a few references to the movie in Season of Shadow and Light!) The world is a different place from thirty years ago when we would park anywhere for a night or two. These days there are ‘rules’ for free camping that makes it a reasonably safe prospect and I am sure I will feel better about it as time goes by. But right now I am finding caravan parks very comforting.

Jenn at work

Great spaces to write – life on the road.

 

Carol: Where can we expect to see Jenn J McLeod on this book tour? Are you heading to WA?

Jenn:

I wish a book tour would take me to WA soon. I have so many wonderful writer friends and readers over there. In fact, I spent more time in WA than any other state on that first trip and still saw so very little of such a magnificent state. I will make it over there in the van one day and I may never leave. Stay tuned!

 

Carol: What sorts of books do you read for enjoyment Jenn? Can you share with us 5 books you have recently enjoyed?

Jenn:

Easy:

Helene Young’s Northern Heat

Kylie Kaden’s Missing You

Margareta Osborn’s Rose River

Dianne Blacklock’s The Best Man

Loretta Hill’s The Maxwell Sisters

 

Carol: Now a very important question Jenn, what style of wine will we find in your caravan cellar? Does your fifth wheeler have a cellar? Ours does – a box under the bed J

Jenn:

*snap* We actually love saying . . . “I’ll go to the cellar and select a wine.” Our choices, however, are limited to what was on special at the time of purchase. We live a frugal life these days: food is simple and we rarely eat out (owning a café turned us off eating out anyway!), our designer clothes (ie shorts and sarongs) come from opp shops, as do our fave flannelette shirts (perfect for happy hour when the sea breeze cools and the mozzies come out). Our motto these days is ‘make do’ (and hope readers keep buying those books!) But the one thing we don’t go without is our happy hour. My favourite white would be a Semillion and red would be a Shiraz. (Hmm, it’s now only 10AM and I am hanging out for happy hour! But I have a few thousand words to get down first.)

 

 

Carol: Thank you for taking part in my “in Conversation With” blog posts Jenn J McLeod and good luck with the upcoming book tour. Cheers. Safe travels.

Thank you, Carol, and we must ‘talk’ about your dog friendly van park experiences. Our little one is 15 years old. We lost her mate last year, after only a couple of months in the van. We know having a dog while travelling can be difficult, but we can’t imagine life without a canine companion. Like our wine, some things we cannot go without.

 

Book information and BUY links – Simon & Schuster Australia. http://authors.simonandschuster.com.au/Jenn-J-McLeod/404929874

I love connecting with readers and other writers, especially aspiring authors. Connect with me on Facebook www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.author and Twitter www.twitter.com/jennjmcleod  @jennjmcleod or www.jennjmcleod.com where readers can sign up for my ‘Odd and Occasional Newsy Newsletter’ for book updates, excerpts and offers.