The Silver Moon, by Bryce Courtenay

In the end, if someone says, “Here lies Bryce Courtenay, a storyteller,” my life will have been worthwhile.

When he died in 2012, author Bryce Courtenay left a huge hole in the literary landscape. He had written 21 books in 23 years, books which were loved by Australians and around the world, selling millions of copies.

Now an unexpected tribute, in the form of a final book, has been released. The Silver Moon: Reflections on Life, Death and Writing is, as the title suggests, a collection of writing and quotes from Courtenay. Pieces written in the final months of his life are interspersed with  quotes from television  and press interviews in which he shares his views on life in general and on writing more specifically.

The new pieces include a gorgeous piece about a childhood encounter with a giraffe drinking at a favourite waterhole, and pieces exploring his feelings about his impending death. The whole is gentle, uplifting, and thought provoking, likely to inspire writers and to move Courtenay’s loyal fans.

Lovely.

 

The Silver Moon: Reflections on Life, Death and Writing

The Silver Moon: Reflections on Life, Death and Writing, by Bryce Courtenay
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9780670078264

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Almost Dead, by Kaz Delaney

A guest! We have a guest! It’s always wonderful when an author drops by to chat, and today I’m happy to welcome Kaz Delaney, here to talk about Almost Dead, her latest book-baby. Welcome Kaz!

 

Hi Sally! Thank you for having me here – I’ve been really looking forward to it!

  1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Oooh I love an easy question first…

Title: Almost Dead

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Released: January 2nd, 2014.

So, as you can see, it’s still a newborn! And typically I’m still clucking and oohing and ahhing over it. And stroking it and telling it how beautiful it is…

 2. Why did you write the book?

It was my publisher’s suggestion. She thought Macey’s story would be a great one to tell, because in her words, “Everybody Loves Macey.” (Macey, if your readers don’t know, was the witty, fast-talking side-kick from ‘Dead, Actually’.) I was keen to get onto the next project, but it took a little bit of soul-searching on my part to take that particular step.

3. How long from idea to publication?

Over two and a half years. Maybe more. A long time.  But it couldn’t be helped, and I’ll be forever grateful for sympathetic publishers who could see clearly when I couldn’t.  You see, my beautiful Mum became ill and subsequently passed away during the creation of this book. Initially, I was upset when my agent told me the pub date had been pushed back. Because of what was happening with Mum, I was distressed and hurting and to my befuddled brain it seems like a vote of no confidence.  I’ve always been diligent about deadlines and I was convinced I could still make this one.  But they were right and I was wrong. The structural edits were due back a week after my mum passed away. Of course I wouldn’t have been able to get them done and in fact I couldn’t look at them for three months afterwards.   So, it was much longer than was probably ideal. Allen & Unwin, though, were brilliant and supported me though in not just being so understanding, but by re-releasing Dead, Actually to coincide with the new release: Almost Dead.  Happy dancing!

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Aside from the obvious above, the hardest part was my fear of losing the essence of Macey.  That was my initial concern. You see, Macey is a big personality, she takes no prisoners and says what many of us would (sometimes) like to say but aren’t quite able to.  But, are those the traits of a character the reader can relate to and cheer for? I wasn’t sure. Yet, I knew there was a whole lot more to Macey than met the eye. To make her more sympathetic, I knew we were going to have to dig deep, to rattle her self-assured cage and take away the few visible support systems she allowed herself. And I had to do all that without losing the quintessential essence that was Macey. That uniqueness that made her awesome (in the true sense of the word ). So the tricky bit was to have her evolve and yet remain true to who she really is. Phew. Lots of deletions and rewrites! (But I was delighted with the result, and so far the reviews are agreeing so it’s making it a teeny bit easier to sleep at night. Double phew...)  

5. Coolest thing about your book?

Wow – great question. Hmmnnn… Maybe the gorgeous, warm, semi-tropical setting would be one very cool factor? But probably it’s Macey. She’s very cool and very sharp – in the witty, quick-thinking-on-her-feet sense. She makes me laugh and wish I could be her. I know she’s the lead character, and so she should take the limelight, but this is definitely her book in every sense. Also, the interaction between her and Flick, the unhappy surprise who falls into her life, is such fun.  And not one, but two, cute guys?  Oh but wait! The mystery! The stalker!  Not sure if this is something I’d term ‘cool’, but it is very engaging and sometimes downright scary. I loved creating the mystery – it’s one of my genre first-loves. So, is it the humour or the mystery? Maybe it’s both…

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

Another great question. I think we learn, or have something reinforced with every book we write. With Almost Dead is was: To not get carried away with plot; to maintain control of the story.  I got so caught up in the drama that I took the story to a place that was completely out of left field. It was shocking (in the sense that no one would ever have seen it coming) and it was big. But it was wrong for this story. It was a complete story on its own, really. It was a novice mistake I shouldn’t have made and cost me a lot of unnecessary wasted time.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?

The release was just eight days after Christmas, and kind of crept up on us. We had family staying and I was knee deep in looking after them and frantic plans for the launch which happened on the 11th, so it was almost a non event! Amazingly we had a big family get together that night (2nd),  but with my attention elsewhere, we forgot to even toast the release until there just the hub and I still up and awake late into the night. The launch however was amazing and I was humbled and grateful to all those who came out to help us celebrate and give this baby a great welcome. There are some photos of that day on my blog The Ditzy Diva if anyone would like to take a peek.  http://kazdelaney.wordpress.com/  Scroll down to the January 17th entry.

8. And how will you promote the book?

As much and as often as I can until people scream at me to stop or maybe until the death threats start arriving. J Seriously, promoting is such a big, and important, part of being an author these days, and with the dearth of bookshops it’s getting harder and harder for people to find our books, let along buy.  I’m in the midst of an amazing blog tour now with fabulous hosts – thank you very much Ms Sally! J – and fingers crossed that’s helping to spread the word. I have several appearances scheduled for throughout the year and we’re the early stages of planning mini launches in Brisbane and on the South Coast and Sydney.  It’s going to be a big, busy year where I hope to connect with as many readers as I possibly can.

9. What are you working on next?

I’ve just completed a mid grade novel that I hope will turn into a series. Not even my agent has seen it yet – through she’s about to –  so I’m at that very nervous stage.  Is it good? Does it work? Is the pacing right for that age bracket? From there I will go back to the next YA in what I loosely term my Dead Series. After that, I hope to have another two YA’s written by the end of 2014 and perhaps I’ll get to that series for boys that keeps screaming at me. Well, that’s the plan, right? Reality will probably deliver something entirely different, just to remind me I’m not in charge J, but until then, that’s what I’m working towards.

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?

I’d love people to meander along to my website: kazdelaney.com

It will list all the places you’re likely to find me this year – so far!

My blog – http://kazdelaney.wordpress.com/   –  has been a bit sadly neglected, but I’m trying to rectify that so there’ll usually be the latest happenings and always photos.  I’ve made a concerted effort this year. So come along and visit and keep me honest! J The latest is the exciting news about my book being immortalised in clay which is totally one of the most exciting things to happen in a long time – besides having a new book out, of course. 

And the book itself?  Almost Dead is available at Booktopia.com.au and Bookworld –or through your local bricks and mortar bookshop. If they don’t have it yet, order it! Actually puleese order it! J

Thank you so much Sally! You’ve been a gracious hostess and it’s been loads of fun chatting to you about Almost Dead. xxx

 

And thank you for coming, Kaz. Enjoy that new baby 🙂

If I Tell You … I'll Have to Kill You, edited by Michael Robotham

Geoffrey McGeachin’s number one writing rule is Real writing is rewriting. Gabrielle Lord’s is Make writing your first priority, and Peter Corris doesn’t want to set rules but does advise learning from both mistakes and successes. With nineteen others, these crime writers share their journey to publication, their writing processes, tips and rules, and recommended reads in If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets.

Whilst suitable for anyone with an interest in crime fiction or true crime, this offering is most likely to appeal to writers (and aspiring writes) of the genre. The contributors are all multi published Australian authors, who’ve also had success on the international stage. Though crime is the common ground, the range of their writing focus is broad – from true crime, to detective novel, to historical fiction and more.

Because each chapter is contributed by a different author, the book can be either read cover to cover or dipped into, and while the focus is crime writing, writers of all interests and levels of experience are likely to find value in both the writing advice and the sharing of journeys to publication (and beyond).

Other contributors include Kerry Greenwood. Garry Disher, Barry Maitland and Leigh Redhead.

 

http://www.allenandunwin.com/BookCovers/resized_9781743313480_224_297_FitSquare.jpg

If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets, edited by Michael Robotham
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743313480

Available from good bookstores and online.

Heart & Craft, by Valerie Parv

One of the biggest traps in new writing is dabbling around the edges of emotional issues. Your story must pack an emotional punch. (Valerie Parv)

Bestselling author Valerie Parv knows a lot about writing romance books which sell and, in her earlier book, The Art of Romance Writing shared her knowledge in a step by step fashion for writers wishing to learn to write in the genre. This new offering, Heart and Craft offers something a little different. With contributions from some of Australia’s best known romance authors, this volume brings together a range of advice for beginning and established writers. Each of the first eleven chapters is contributed by a different author, offering her own insights into how to craft romance fiction, with advice focussing on aspects including character development, research, editing and more. The final six chapters offer snippets of advice from each of the authors on matters including dialogue, point of view and marketing.

For anyone writing, or considering writing, any form of romantic fiction, this is an invaluable aid. Writers in other genres will also find much here to inspire and inform, with much of the advice transcending genre.

Contributors include Parv, Helen Bianchin, Lillian Darcy and Daphne Clair, among others.

Heart and Craft: Bestselling Romance Writers Share Their Secrets with You

Heart and Craft: Bestselling Romance Writers Share Their Secrets with You, edited by Valerie Parv
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

DVD Review: Undercover Stories

Undercover Storiesprovides an excellent resource for increasing children’s understanding of all aspects of the book creation process. The DVD includes interviews with five children’s book creators who explain how they go about writing and illustrating books, as well as an interview with publisher Leonie Tyle (at UQP at the time of filming). There is also a discussion about how book covers are designed and an inside look at the printing process.

This is an excellent resource for teachers, librarians and also for creators, making real the behind the scenes work in producing a children’s book. It also enables children to see and hear five prominent children’s creators – Narelle Oliver, David Cox, Fiona Doyle, Michael Gerard Bauer and James Moloney.

Undercover Stories is a project of Book Links, an association dedicated to fostering an appreciation and understanding of children’s and youth literature in children and young people, as well as in the wider community.

Undercover Stories is available directly from Book Links.

Undercover Stories
Book Links, 2007

Become a Children's Writer, by Bren MacDibble

Do you care about what children read?
Do you like reading to children and seeing how involved they become in the world the author’s created?
Do you like the thought of working on your own creating something unique?
Do you like the idea of helping children to learn?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then children’s writing may well be for you. And a good starting point to investigate the hows and whys of writing for children is in this useful guide, Become a Children’s Writer. Part of the Top Job series, the guide provides loads of practical information about the children’s publishing industry, and about how to get started as a children’s writer.

MacDibble begins with a discussion of the skills necessary to become a children’s writer, followed by an introduction to the different kinds of publishers (trade versus educational) and the different types of children’s books, including picture books, chapter books, graded readers and young adult novels. She then moves onto some sound advice about writing craft, and finally practical information about submitting manuscripts and self-promotion. There is also a useful listing of contacts (including Australian publishers) and websites.

This 82 page guide is a wonderful starting point for anyone who is interested in writing for children. It also has lots of reminders for those who are already working in the industry. The information is well categorised, the writing style accessible, and the sturdy A4 format makes it easy to read and to locate relevant information. Whilst the earliest edition of the book was spiral bound, the guide is now book bound with an attractive cover.

The guide is available direct from the publisher online at www.topjobguide.com.au. An excellent resource.

Become a Children’s Writer, by Bren MacDibble
Australian Associated Publishing House, 2006

The Art of Romance Writing, by Valerie Parv

Writing romance novels can’t be that hard, can it? All you need is a copy of the secret formula, fill in the balnks and hey presto you are on the way to publication! Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy. If it was there would be a lot more rich romance authors in the world. Fortunately, for those who do want to try their hand at romance writing, Valerie Parv shares plenty of practical information in The Art of Romance Writing.

Parv, who has had over 50 novels published and is considered the Queen of Australia’s romance genre, debunks many of the myths surrounding romance books and the art of romance writing. In place of these misconceptions she offers solid, practical advice for romance writers and would-be romance writers.

Covering everything from plotting a story, to viewpoint and characters as well as choosing a publisher to target, submitting a mansucript and more, Parv shares her expereince in a way which is accessible and informative.

This is a new edition of the book, which was first published in 1993 and has been fully revsied to reflect changes to the market and genre in that time.

The Art of Romance Writing is an essential tool for anyone considering writing romantic fiction.

The Art of Romance Writing, by Valerie Parv
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories, by Cheryl Wright

The plethora of short story markets makes it a highly desirable form for any writer – established or novice. For many writers, however, the dream of writing saleable short stories proves far easier than the reality. Fine tuning an idea or plot outline into a polished short story is far harder than it appears.

In Think Outside the Square, Australian author Cheryl Wright guides writers through the short story process – from character, to plot idea, through to completed story and even marketing.

Wright, herself a successful and published author of short stories and articles (also published under the pen name Andrea Higgins-Wright), shares examples from her own stories, encouraging the reader every step of the way. Each section is backed up with exercises, making the book not just a how-to-write book, but an interactive writing workshop.

Readers will get most benefit from the book if they work through it one section at a time, reading what Wright has to say about each aspect of short story writing and studying her examples before trying the exercises for themselves. Readers who do this will finish the book with complete stories or, at least, plenty of outlines and ideas for stories of their own.

A great tool for any writer – either the novice, or the more experienced writer looking for some fresh inspiration.

Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories, by Cheryl Wright, 2003
Available from Writer2writer.com and booklocker.com

Writing Your Screenplay, by Lisa Dethridge

If you have ever dreamt of writing for film or television, then this book will set you on the right track. Author Dr Lisa Dethridge, herself an experienced screenwriter, shares her knowledge in this comprehensive and accessible text.

Dethridge shares insights into the industry, basics such as setting out a screenplay, story structures, dialogue, characterisation and much more.

With practical examples and loads of advice, this is the book to turn to if you are interested in this career path.

Writing Your Screenplay, by Lisa Dethridge
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Writing From Start to Finish

Writing should be an easy process – pick up a pen, come up with something to write about – and write. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. If you find yourself regularly staring at a blank page wondering just what it is you should be writing, then Writing From Start to Finish is for you.

Award winning write Kate Grenville shares her method for dealing with writing tasks – the Six-Step Method. Through the use of exercises, examples and explanations, she guides readers through the application of the six steps for both imaginative writing assignments and essay assignments.

The book would make an excellent text for high school or university English and writing classes but would also be an excellent personal resource for any writer’s home library.

Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s best known writers, having published six novels, and winning the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Idea of Perfection. Her other book for writers, the Writing Book, is an outstanding resource for both novice and professional writers.

Writing From Start to Finish, by Kate Grenville
Allen & Unwin, 2001