Thursday, 27 February 2014

Photos and History of Joe Gillespie's stomping ground.

For everyone who has read Kundela and wondered about the country where the story is set, Hawker Motors Visitor Information Centre has some beautiful photos of the area. Click on the link below to find more about Joe Gillespie's stomping ground and the history that influenced his character.!/HawkerMotorsVisitorInformationCentre

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Swimming the Savage Waters of Publishers and Sharks

A couple of weeks ago I attended a book launch for an author who was presenting her first novel, a romance.  Although this is not a genre I would normally choose, I finished reading it over the weekend.
At the launch the author asked us to excuse her nerves, this was her first book and everything was new to her. I know how hard it is to stand in front of strangers, friends and relatives to talk about your first novel. To help the gathering move along, I asked some of the questions other people had asked me at my first launch. I was keen to hear her tell us about her process of writing a long work.

Listening to her discuss publishing I wanted to know more. As someone who had hawked his novel, Kundela, to mainstream Australian publishers through their numerous e-mail slush piles without luck. I wanted to know how, as an unknown author, they were able to get their book into print. The writer said that although she had approached  a few Australian publishers, all of them had knocked the manuscript back. I probed a bit more and the author disclosed she had no trouble finding an American publisher to help her to get her manuscript into print. I later checked the publisher's website and deduced that theirs is a more of a printing service, similar to the many who flood my inbox with offers to publish at a price.

I asked about the process of preparing the manuscript for printing in particular the pressure an author faces when receiving back recommendations after the copy editing. The author explained that the publisher's editor was pleased with the manuscript as it stood and said it only required a small number of changes. The author went on to praise the editor who helped with some punctuation and a few minor points. This surprised me as I know from the edits of my first book just how much work goes in to keeping a story tight and pacing the flow of the story. The group learnt that the publisher led the author to believe this novel would be in bookstores around the world, but to date this is not the case.  This has left them feeling disappointed and more than a little deflated. Knowing the marketing of the book is now up to them, I sense they have a tough road ahead.

I purchased a copy, as I do at book launches, and set about reading it. The first few sentences set the tone for the rest of the book. Unfortunately this writer had chosen a publisher who, in my opinion, was mainly interested in taking their money and played to a novice writer's vanity. I found the text very flowery, and that may be the way of romance novels, but her overuse of adjectives made it difficult to read. The formatting confused the dialogue, I was often lost as to who was speaking and where. The basic story structure was okay, but a the writer had employed a lot of characters who had several different names. This made the story hard to follow, it often confused me as to just who was doing or saying what, and when.

The storyline was good and subplots added to the intrigue, however the overuse of description and stilted dialogue ruined the telling of the tale. I am convinced this writer has a great ability to tell a story but would find the next book easier to write when they gain some more skills to hone their craft.

This novel is one that needs a good copy edit, and the value of copy editing is something every novice writer needs to be aware of. Finding a copy editor who is not only qualified but respected  to help ready your work for publishing is essential.  Unfortunately this editor has failed both the author, and the story on this occasion.

Since beginning to write I have found there are two parts to remember when writing. One is the creative side where you let ideas flow and the other is the skilled part where you frame the story into an easy to read document. These skills can be learnt by attending workshops or writing groups, and then applying these new found skills to your writing process. Over time you learn to edit and tighten your prose as you type. Things become a habit, and in the end these hard won lessons reduce the amount of editing required. 

I know the publishers slush piles are deep, and after having a silent response to my manuscript I self published Kundela. However I was fortunate, I did it with the help and knowledge from others. I had support of like minded writers who steered me past the pitfalls. Sure I was tempted to go with one of several online publishing houses, all making promises to make me an overnight writing sensation, but sanity and guidance prevailed.
Sometimes it is too easy to fall for the overseas caller's spiel and go with one of these publishers. However if this regency romance is evidence to the quality of their copy editing, then this writer has been duped and I feel sorry for them. Again I must say I was tempted to travel the same path. Calls from America to check on my progress played to my ego and made me feel important. I am glad I resisted.
Through my local writing group I was able to gain an insight into what is required  of an author when writing. By attending a Longitudinal Writing Workshop presented by Merlene Fawdry, I came to understand what would be required if I wanted to get my story into print. Critiquing groups like ours can be hard on your ego, but you learn a lot from your fellows too, and all of our members are at different stages of their writing careers too.

As for me, I will now have to read another bloody romance novel to see if they are all the same, and if so, I’ll need to retract some of these comments.
Writers looking for help with their writing, wanting to get published or need a copy editor, you can find my more than capable copy editor, Merlene Fawdry by visiting her website: 

Click on the link now to find excellent information and links to all things writing.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tracy Farrier 'The Evil Stepmother'

Today I have started a couple of new chapter and have found that the character who plays Toby's mum isn't the wicked stepmother I'd planned her to be. Toby has enough enemies in the manuscriot and this character wouldn't let me paint her as evil. I have pasted my character sheet on Tracy below.

Tracy has never got over giving Toby up and has carried the guilt inside her for years. She spent her mid teens and twenties modelling for David Jones Melbourne to help her through University.

Her friend Michelle had married tall and handsome truck mechanic Darren Farrier and they’d drifted apart for a few years after Darren bought the family tucking business from Michelle’s mother’s estate. After Toby was born Michelle contracted the same disease her mother had, Breast Cancer. After a brave fight she too succumbed and Darren was left to look after the baby. He contacted Tracey about taking care of the book work and managed as he could with a baby seat in the truck and the two of them travelled Australia carting stock.
Arthur had his hands full with Lois and her decline during this time but they took Toby when they could. This gave Darren a much needed break and soon he and Tracy became more than friends. Five years after Toby was born Tracy became his step mum. The relationship was strong and they adored each other, only after Toby began school did the trouble start.

NAME:                                               : Tracy Farrier
Position in story:                                 : Secondary





Socioeconomic level as a child:


Socioeconomic level as an adult:

Well Off



Current residence:



Mother – Business Partner – Accountant was a catwalk model when younger


High Earners


Multi Tasker very capable mother keeps the business on solid financial footing.


Draws a salary of 65,000 per annum Darren has a similar drawing



Married to Toby’s father Darren

Birth order:

Third of four girls

Siblings (describe relationship):


Spouse/partner (describe relationship):

Darren total commitment to each other, she is his second wife after Toby’s mum died. Both women were friends

Children (describe relationship):

Toby estranged. Adele and Jasmine

Parents (describe relationship):


Grandparents (describe relationship):


Grandchildren (describe relationship):


Significant others (describe relationship):


Relationship skills:

Peace maker, doesn’t mind a fight but will find a common purpose to end conflict. Good negotiator

Physical Characteristics






56 kg


Caucasian / English descent

Eye Color:


Hair Color:

Blonde from the bottle tends to change it twice a year

Glasses or contact lenses?

Glasses to read

Skin color:

Fair skinned but will tan easily. Uses fake tan for special occasions

Shape of face:

Angular with high cheekbones, her nose is straight with a bit off a turn up.

Distinguishing features:

There is a dimple /crease in her chin.

How does he/she dress?

Her dress is elegant and expensive. ‘She could wear a bag and make it look good’ was Darren’s claim


She tilts her head and screws her nose up when considering her next move

Habits: (smoking, drinking/drugs/addictions etc.)

Nil likes good wine but never in excess

Any physical illnesses?



Very good goes to the gym five days a week


She likes to ride and does eventing and show jumping

Favourite sayings:


Speech patterns:

Her speech is trained and no strine in her voice although she will “go all outback” if the need arises



Style (Elegant, shabby etc.):


Greatest flaw:

She lacks self confidence and although successful her fear of failure drives her toward her goals. Tracy never lived up to the expectations her parents put on her. They thought modelling was for Bimbos and accounts couldn’t make it into medicine.

Best quality:

She is empathetic and kind. Which is how she came to marry Darren, she helped him through the dark times after his first wife died of breast cancer. She spends a lot of time working for the Jane McGrath Foundation

Personality Attributes and Attitudes



Educational Background:

Melbourne Uni

Intelligence Level:

Very high

Any Mental Illnesses?


Learning Experiences:

Plenty, losing her friend and Toby’s mum hurt and giving Toby up has left a stain on her self esteem.

Character's short-term goals in life:

Be a good wife and mother

Character's long-term goals in life:

Keep the business successful make their marriage happy till death do they part.

How does Character see himself/herself?

As keeping up a charade of confidence and strength

How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others?

As one tough cookie

How self-confident is the character?

She fakes it till she makes it.

Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof?

She would love to let emotion in but only Darren knows how fragile she can be.

What would most embarrass this character

Failure in her part as wife and mother, losing Toby is her greatest regret and considers it their biggest failure. He didn’t deserve what they did to him

Spiritual Characteristics



Does the character believe in God?

Would love to but is too pragmatic. She admires her sisters and mother’s complete devotion to the Catholic faith but too many things tell her it’s all bunk.

What are the character's spiritual beliefs?

She doesn’t know

Is religion or spirituality a part of this character's life?


If so, what role does it play?