Heartland – Connect With Nature In Your Lounge Room.

Heartland ACFI am thrilled about the recent launch of the hard-covered, coffee-table book Heartland by the Australian Conservation Foundation, not least because an excerpt of my writing has been chosen to grace its pages!

Heartland is an impressive, commemorative book of photography, and heartfelt expressions by Aussie writers – a glorious homage to nature. It has been published to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Australia’s oldest and largest national environmental group. Begun in 1965, it’s funded almost entirely by individual donations. CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy, says ‘The foundation is nature’s advocate and has been a part of every significant Australian environmental victory, ably assisted by the community.’

Uplifting and inspirational images capture the natural world across the continent, and people interacting with it in a myriad of ways. Stunningly beautiful, all-original photography is contributed by the MAPgroup of documentary photographers; two hundred images in all. They tell many stories. Of the profound bond between Indigenous people and country. Of our amazing plants and wildlife. Of surfing waves and rafting rivers. Of farmers’ relationship to the land, and of the deep, instinctive connection that children have with the natural world. It’s available from all good bookstores.

Heartland also has written pieces from various Australian writers (including me!) A stellar line-up features iconic authors and poets such as Patrick White, Judith Wright, Gillian Mears, Les Murray, Henry Handel Richardson, Favel Parret, Alexis Wright, Murray Bail, Christina Stead, Lee Kofman and more.

In the foreword, Australian cartoonist, poet and cultural commentator Michael Leunig writes that it’s ‘essential to our health’ that we love nature. Even better, we should understand and appreciate it deeply, enjoy it thoroughly and respect it utterly.

Leunig Cartoon 1‘Gratitude is the appropriate way, for mother nature supports us all and provides what we need to live: the air, the food, the vital elements and the materials with which cultures are built and sustained.

If you’re wondering about the meaning of life, it’s right there before you – and inside you. It’s nature. It’s the great beautiful common cause. Know it, love it, enjoy it – and do all that you reasonably can to rescue and protect it; but don’t delay.’

RWA 15

Me (L), Helene Young (Middle) and Ann Lee (R)

On a different, but no less inspirational note, the RWA Writers Conference was held last weekend. Co-convened by my good friends Kate Belle and Kathryn Ledson, it featured a wide range of work-shops and sessions on the writing craft. Anita Heiss gave a sensational key-note address about courage, and the need for a diversity of voices in Australian commercial fiction. She seemed to be speaking directly to me! The conference was a great success, and raised buckets of money for the Indigenous Literary Foundation, a fabulous cause. I can’t wait for the next conference in Adelaide next year. Here’s a photo of me with fellow Penguin author Helene Young, and fiction fan extraordinaire Ann Lee. She and her friend Evelyn brought an entire trolley-load of Aussie novels to the book signing! Now it’s back to my work-in-progress, which is turning out to be the never-ending story 🙂

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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

Foster’s Little Bookshop

Our independent bookstores are national, cultural treasures! I’m doing a series featuring some of these gems. What better way to start than with Foster’s Little Bookshop, the brainchild of Jan Bull and Bob Morris. They hosted the regional launch of Brumby’s Run last Friday as part of their Twilight Talks. There’s a stellar line up of authors still to come – Helene Young, Margareta Osborn and Sydney Smith. Foster’s Little Bookshop is widely considered to be South Gippsland’s premiere book store, and is a vibrant contributor to local community life.  And now, it’s over to Jan!

Jan and myself at the launch

We opened on Saturday 22nd July 2006 to much amusement and bewilderment from the locals.  Family and people who knew us well said, great idea, you’ll do well, go for it!!  Folk who didn’t know us said “what? a bookshop?”  Other traders said we’d need to rely on visitors during the holiday season.  We didn’t agree, believing the local community was our major market and that’s where we put our emphasis.  Becoming involved in the community meant spending more of our time than our money, and developing not just good customers, but good friends.  These are the people who’ve continued to support us over these six years.

Signing books!

We’ve developed a following from Melbourne requesting books for when next they visit. People from interstate and overseas, with families in this area, make purchases for birthdays and at Christmas via our website. We hold events each month for both children and adults. Our customers are encouraged to write reviews on any proof copy books we get from publishers, and these are submitted to the ‘book review’ page on our website.  We’re involved with book club members from the local College and are invited to primary schools to participate in events.

Our radio program on the local community station 3MFM has been going for over three years and we have a load of fun each Sunday morning. We write a regular piece (The Book Nook) in one of the lifestyle magazines that cover South Gippsland, and provide the local paper, The Mirror, with a monthly column and many articles.

The last six years have been hard work and fun work and we are both pleased that we took (what the locals saw as) the chance to build this business.  Our little bookshop is becoming well known in some unexpected places!

Do you have a favourite independent bookshop? Tell me what makes your store special and it might feature here in the future. And congratulations to Shirley Forrest and Carol Toogood who are the lucky winners of the Brumby’s Run giveaway! I’ll be in touch very soon. (JindivickWildlifeShelter – you’re the winner of the giveaway on Cathryn Hein’s blog)

Foster’s Little Bookshop, 4 Station Street Foster, Victoria  3960

Ph: (03) 5682 2089

Email    flb@virtual.net.au

Website http://www.fosterslittlebookshop.com.au/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/FostersLittleBookshop

Release of Brumby’s Run

With the release of Brumby’s Run just a few hours away, I’ve decided to give this blog over to some shameless self-promotion. For those of you in south-east Victoria, the regional launch of Brumby’s Run will be at the Stockyard Gallery in Foster on Friday 6th July, courtesy of Foster’s Little Bookshop. The launch will be held as part of the Twilight Author Talks series, and I’m in fine company! The other three authors in July are Helene Young (popular romantic suspense author), Margareta Osborn (fellow rural author) and Sydney Smith (well-known writing mentor and debut author of a fine memoir)

TWILIGHT AUTHOR TALKS

July 6th – Jennifer Scoullar’s first novel ‘Wasp Season’ had its regional launch at one of the first Twilight Author talks we ran.  It is with very great pleasure that we also launch Jennifer’s second book ‘Brumby’s Run’.  Jennifer is an author of rural and environmental fiction.  She lives on a property overlooking the Bunyip State Forest in West Gippsland and has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Her first novel ‘Wasp Season’, an environmental thriller was officially launched at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2008.  In May of this year she was writer-in-residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.  ‘Brumby’s Run’, her second novel will be released by Penguin July 2nd.

Bookings can be made at Foster’s Little Bookshop by phone 5682 2089 or by email flb@virtual.net.au .  Cost is $22 per head which includes a glass of wine and finger food.  The Twilight Talk sessions are held at the Stockyard Gallery from 5.30pm to 7.00pm each Friday evening in July.  Numbers will be limited so book early

Brumby’s Run will also receive a grand metropolitan christening.

Acclaimed novelist Andrea Goldsmith will launch Brumby’s Run at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. The venue is The Cube at 2.30 pm Saturday 25th August. All welcome!

 

I have received some lovely early reviews. Here are the links!

http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/brumbys-run

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/343262394

A Tribute to Australian Rural Authors

With only a week or so to go before the release of Brumby’s Run, I’m dedicating this post to the other authors in the Australian rural lit genre. I’m new on the rural block, and with the exception of my friend Margareta Osborn (we’re in the same writing group known as the Little Lonsdale Group) I only knew the other authors by reading their books. My first, tentative tweets about Brumby’s Run were met by an avalanche of supportive responses from members of this rather unique literary club. I almost used the word exclusive instead of unique, but that would have been quite wrong. This warm-hearted bunch of talented writers made every possible effort to include me, right from the start.Thank you. It meant a lot guys!

There were immediate invitations to do guest blog spots, even though I couldn’t usefully return the favour, with my book’s release still months off. Rachael Johns offered me a Theory on Thursday spot and will do a post for me 29th July. Fellow Penguin author Mandy Magro immediately asked me to take part in her Awesome Aussie Authors series. Fleur Mcdonald wrote a beautifully timed post on editing when I needed it most. Cathryn Hein (another Penguin) wrote, and continues to write me, encouraging messages and offers phone chats, particularly when  the whole publishing process has seemed a bit overwhelming. I am visiting her Friday Feast this coming Friday. Cathryn will graciously guest post for me on 22nd July, in a series called What’s Important to Me.

I met Fiona Palmer (another Penguin) at the RWA Conference last year just before I pitched my manuscript, and she has had her fingers firmly crossed for me ever since. The great Nicole Alexander has asked me to write about my passion for the environment on her blog. Romantic suspense author Helene Young (yet another Penguin!) will visit here on the 12th August and has asked me to guest post about my trip to Ireland. The support and friendship offered to me has been amazing. I feel like I’m part of a family, a real rural community bursting with country hospitality. A big thank you to everybody for showing me how it’s done!