Brumby’s Run – Melbourne Writer’s Festival Launch

Yesterday saw Brumby’s Run launched by Andrea Goldsmith at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. For me, the day was the culmination of a fraught and fascinating journey. What a marvellous moment – to achieve my dream of mainstream publication, and to celebrate it with my readers, friends and family. And not only that, to do so at such an important festival, deep in the heart of Melbourne, a Unesco City of Literature. Melbourne’s literary heritage and culture is internationally recognised, and I am proud to be part of it. I am also proud to be out with Penguin, so thanks to my lovely publisher, Belinda Byrne.

Andrea Goldsmith has published six novels. Her seventh book, The Memory Trap, will  be released by Harper Collins next year. Rich in ideas and characterisation, her novels tell of contemporary life in all its diversity. Narratives of ambition, love, family, art, music and relationships abound in her books. But for me, Andrea is more than an acclaimed and gifted author – she has been my friend and mentor for years. So it was doubly delicious to have her stand up for me yesterday.

Andrea Goldsmith and MC Troy Hunter

As always, Andrea was bright, erudite and charming. Her generous praise of Brumby’s Run impressed me so much, I wanted to buy it myself! Rather than go with the tired old speech-then-reading format, Andrea proposed a Q&A session instead. This lifted the launch, making it far more dynamic and entertaining. Thanks for that suggestion Andrea, and also of course, for your longstanding support and wisdom.

 

Andrea and the Little Lonsdale group

My friend Troy Hunter (from the Little Lonsdale Group, aka LLG), was MC for the event and what an inspired performance it was too! The Little Lonsdale Group is my talented writing group. We all completed an advanced Year of the Novel with Andrea a few years ago, and have since gone from strength to strength. Mine is the second launch from our group so far. First was Margareta Osborn (Bella’s Run) in March. Next will be Kate Rizzetti and Kathryn Ledson, and it won’t stop there. We can look forward to many marvellous writing achievements from this group in the months and years to come.

So thank you for to everybody who either came along yesterday, or who sent me their kind wishes. I appreciate each and every one of you! Now it’s time to concentrate on finishing my new novel, Firewater, due out with Penguin next year.

RWA Conference 2012

I’ve spent the last few days at the RWA Conference, held this year on the Gold Coast. This conference offers some remarkable opportunities for new and emerging writers, not least of which are the pitch sessions with agents, editors and publishers. The place is bursting with key industry professionals!

I’ve rubbed shoulders with leading authors in my genre, and attended some of the best imaginable professional development sessions. The most useful of these by far was Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, presented by Alexandra Sokoloff. She began her career in the theatre, moved to screen-writing, and is now a bestselling author of seven supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers. She teaches novelists how to apply the tricks of film pacing and suspense, character arc and drive, visual storytelling, and building image systems. Her advice is simple and practical, such as just where in your novel the dramatic set pieces should fall, thus avoiding altogether that dreaded mid-book slump. This system works to structure and color your novel for maximum emotional impact, suspense and riveting pacing, no matter what genre you’re writing in. I can’t wait to analyse my work in the light of this new information

 

Last night’s Awards Dinner saw me sitting at a table with, among others, leading writers in my genre such as Fiona Palmer, Cathryn Hein and Rachael Johns. My lovely publisher, Belinda Byrne was there, along with the legendary Rachael Treasure, and Penguin publishing buddies Helene Young and Kathryn Ledson. It was a fabulous evening, topped off by Helene Young (my blog guest last week) winning Romantic Book of the Year for Shattered Sky. This is the second year in a row that she has won in this category. Congratulations Helene! … and congratulations to the organisers of this fabulous conference, all volunteers I might add. It has been a stunning success.

Now I need to prepare for the next exciting event in my writing life – the launch next Saturday of Brumby’s Run by Andrea Goldsmith at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival (2.30 pm 25th August.) Free event. All Welcome!

Sunday with Helene Young

It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome Helene Young to my Sunday blog. Helene is an acclaimed romantic suspense novelist who lives in Trinity Beach, on the edge of the Great Barrier  Reef in North Queensland. Her work as a senior pilot with a major  regional airline takes her all over the east coast of Australia. She is the RUBY-award-winning author of the popular romantic suspense novels Wings of Fear, Shattered Sky and her new one Burning Lies. In 2011 Helene was voted the country’s most popular romance novelist.

It was a great thrill and privilege to be Helene’s Penguin publishing buddy in July, with the release of both Burning Lies and Brumby’s Run on the same day. And now, it’s over to our flight Captain, taking us through her Call Story and giving us an insight into what is important to her  …

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jenny. I’ve enjoyed reading Rachael and Cathryn’s call stories. They’re proof that dreams can come true with hard work and a little dash of luck. Here’s mine!

I’d been writing with intent for almost ten years before I received my call.  Along the way I discovered Romance Writers of Australia and its fantastic network of writers. I entered all the RWAustralia contests and I was fortunate enough to be a finalist a number of times, but never a winner. The feedback was encouraging, but I wasn’t quite hitting the mark.

In 2007 I decided I needed to be brave and write a romantic suspense story that had been simmering in my imagination for some time. That was the start of the Border Watch series, set in the aircraft I fly and based in North Queensland where I live. Wings of Fear (Border Watch), which was my fifth completed manuscript, finalled in the RWAmerica Golden Heart contest.  That same year I pitched to Bernadette Foley from Hachette at the RWAustralia conference. My resume of contest results was enough to give the manuscript credibility and she asked to see the full manuscript.

Her answer was, ‘You’re not there yet, but…’ She gave me detailed suggestions for improving the manuscript with the offer of resubmitting if I felt I could work with her ideas. It would have been easy to take that as a rejection, but I rolled up my sleeves and several months later I sent her the next version. Then waited…

My husband and I were heading off on holidays to go sailing in the Whitsunday Islands and I was hoping she might call, but was terrified the answer would still be no. I also knew phone reception would be sporadic for the next ten days.

We dropped anchor for the first night and my husband was peeling the foil of a bottle of champagne when my mobile rang. It was a Sydney number. No voice will ever sound as sweet again as  ‘Hello, Helene, this is Bernadette Foley….’ The smile lines were tanned into my face!

I always get a little spine tingle at stories like that! Could you tell us a little bit about what’s important to you?  This could be writing related, or something else altogether.

I thought ‘What’s Important to Me’ would be an easy post to write, but it wasn’t! Family and friends are important, sense of community is up there as well, but the idea was harder to nail down than I thought.

Ultimately I think making a difference is important for me. I’ve spent most of my working-life teaching people something – the restaurant trade, adventure sports, flying, and now writing.

As a flying instructor nothing could beat the satisfaction of the mile-wide smile on a student who’d just completed their first solo flight. As a climbing instructor, seeing the wonderment and pride in the face of a young teenager who’d successfully climbed a sheer cliff then abseiled back down was pure gold. Receiving emails from writers to say something I’ve said in a training course has turned a million watt light bulb on in their mind is a reward all of its own.

I’m never going to change the world, but if I can help someone achieve one of their goals along the way then my day hasn’t been a waste.

I can understand now why some of my teachers at school carried on long past their retirement date because the job was its own reward!

Wow Helene! You certainly like heights, don’t you – flying and climbing! And reaching great writing heights as well. How fortunate your students are, to have a tutor who’s so generous about sharing her knowledge. Thank you for telling us about your passion for teaching and for sharing your Call Story.

Helene’s new novel, Burning Lies, is out now and is earning rave reviews.

“Lies, all lies. It didn’t matter how attractive he might be. She didn’t really know this man . . . He was living a lie and she didn’t know why.
”

Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband’s death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Ryan O’Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn’s world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.

With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.

Visit Helene at http://www.heleneyoung.com

Find Helene on FB at : https://www.facebook.com/HeleneYoungAustralianAuthor

Follow her on twitter at: https://twitter.com/HeleneYoung

National Bookshop Day – Riverbend Books

Today around the nation, bookshops are celebrating National Bookshop Day.  This day recognises authors and their books, and the bookstores that support them.  Take a look around you at your local bookshop and take the time to say hello and well done!

Today I’m featuring another wonderful independent bookshop – Riverbend Books and Teahouse.

Riverbend Books is on the corner of Oxford and Cambridge Streets. The literary allusions that came along with the address were welcome but the name Riverbend harkens back to the early days in Bulimba when Indigenous Australians called the area Tugulawah, which translates as Riverbend. And that is exactly what the river does in Bulimba. It takes a 90 degree right hand turn as it winds its way out to Moreton Bay, and the river itself forms two of the boundaries of this suburb. Older residents of Bulimba refer to their suburb as the Island because of its watery boundaries. There is a sense of community that is engendered because people do not travel through Bulimba on their way to somewhere else, Bulimba is always the destination.

Riverbend is proud to be part of this community and one of the stores that takes its place amongst the many stores, cafes, cinemas and the beautiful Oxford Memorial Park that line the Oxford St strip down to the river. Many of our customers love to travel here by City Cat or ferry and wander up the street to visit us. The ambience of the shop is warm and friendly with a beautiful deck out the front where you can enjoy some lovely light, fresh meals and of course great coffee or a glass of some lovely Australian wines.

In the thirteen years since we have opened we have very much enjoyed being part of the local community. Our raison d’etre has always been to encourage a culture of reading in the local and wider community, and we run an extensive program of author events, workshops, host bookclubs and then there are the regular bookchats that our staff give to a wide variety of groups from Teacher librarian network groups, social groups, work colleagues and bookclubs.

In 2004 Riverbend launched a project within the local community that was aimed at raising funds to support literacy in remote Indigenous communities where literacy levels are very low. This project attracted enormous support and a snowballing of goodwill. In 2006 it became a national book industry initiative in partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation and you can find out all about it at: www.indigenousliteracyproject.org.au

Recognition by our peers in the publishing industry has provided us with some highlights along the way. Riverbend has won Queensland Independent Bookshop of the Year 6 times and Australian Independent Bookshop of the Year twice.

Tomorrow the intrepid Helene Young comes to visit – romantic suspense author and aviator extraodinaire!

Riverbend Books and Teahouse is located at 193 Oxford Street, Bulimba Queensland 4171 (on the corner with Cambridge Street).

Phone:  07 3899 8555  Email info@riverbendbooks.com.au

Sunday with Margareta Osborn

Today I have my friend Margareta Osborn visiting. I’ll let you in on a secret. If it wasn’t for Margareta dragging me along to the RWA Conference last year, I wouldn’t have pitched Brumby’s Run to Penguin. That pitch led directly to a book deal, so I have a lot to thank her for. Margareta is a passionate rural story-teller, and her debut novel, Bella’s Run has become a best-seller. Now, over to Margareta …

Thanks Jen, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.  For those that don’t know, Jennifer and I are members of the same writing group, the fabulously talented and totally awesome Little Lonsdale Group (the LLG’s). The group is aptly named for the street situated outside where we met at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne (a six hour round trip for me) a couple of years ago. We were all in Andrea Goldsmith’s Advanced Year of the Novel class. What a wonderful time we had and the group continues to meet (and excel) with four published authors and the rest hard on their heels.

Tell us about your call story – or how you received your first offer of publication. (That’s what I always love hearing!)

Oh dear, I’m way off the track. What was I supposed to be talking about, Jen? My call story? Right. Well, it went like this. After being knocked back by one mainstream publisher with a ‘very positive’ rejection (yes, I kid you not, they can be positive) I managed to obtain a literary agent using that self same positive rejection (see, I told you). My agent then submitted the manuscript of my debut novel BELLA’S RUN to three major publishing houses. The day she rang me to tell me she had done this I was driving a truck laden with cattle down the hill from a dry paddock to the family homestead property. I was going over the cattle underpass when she rang to tell me BELLA’S RUN was sitting on the commissioning editors desks of three of the ‘Big Six’, which made me nearly put that poor rattly truck into the underpass.

Within days we had a two book publishing contract on the table. The day she rang to tell me that, it was my birthday and I was in the supermarket shopping. I screamed into the nearest grocery stack, which just happened to be the toilet rolls. Needless to say, the shopping consisted of all things celebratory (and a few mushed up toilet rolls)

What inspired you to write Bella’s Run?

Inspiration for people to do things beyond what they would normally do comes from a variety of different sources. For me, the inspiration to write – to weave stories about the bush – comes from my surroundings. From the environment in which I live – the mountains and farming in particular – because that is what I truly love and am passionate about. As a child I rode my horse through the hills surrounding our farm every weekend. And now we, as a family, spend a lot of time in the high country above our home. A very rugged and beautiful place where we track and watch brumbies, ride motorbikes and horses in the bush. Nearly four years and what seems like a lifetime ago, this landscape proved to be my inspiration for BELLA’S RUN.

What things in life are most important to you?

The themes of BELLA’S RUN are friendship, the search for love and the place you can call home. These are all portrayed within the evocative setting of the Australian bush giving you (I hope), a vivid sense of place with authentic characters that you the reader ‘know’. I tell you this because personally, these themes are very important to me.

My family – an amazing husband, three beautiful children plus my wonderful father, brother, sister and their families, aunts, uncles and cousins – along with my fantastic and supportive friends, are my world. I would not survive without them all. They give me the love, strength and energy to live, love and write.

The Osborn family has also been on the same property here for 150 years, giving me a very strong sense of place.  Our roots sink deeply into the soil. This grounds a person, gives the feeling of belonging and community.

Country life is me. I see it, I hear it, I work it and breathe it everyday. I have lived and worked on properties all my life. Throw me into suburbia and I am like a floundering fish. All I long for is my work-boots, the scent of cow-shit, sunshine on the breeze, musky soil and tangy eucalyptus. Ridiculous I know, but to take me from the land – from the bush – would starve my soul.

Thank you Margareta, for sharing your story with us. Margareta’s new novel, Hope’s Road will be released in March 2013.