What to expect when you’re expecting a book: #1 Blurbs

Jane Rawson and Annabel Smith have launched a new blog series for debut authors. This is their first issue — it’s about getting a blurb.

Jane Bryony Rawson

So your first book has been accepted for publication: congratulations! You’ve been through edits, the cover is chosen, and it’s about to go off to the printers. In the next few months your face will be all over television and you’ll be getting daily bank deposits of thousands of dollars. Right?

Maybe not.

All authors’ experiences are different, but we (Jane Rawson and Annabel Smith) thought you might like to know what we’ve learned about the period just before and after your book hits the shelves.

Jane: Recently my fourth book – a novel – was published. I’m with a small independent publisher, and they’ve previously published another novel of mine, and a non-fiction book about climate change that I co-authored with an environment journalist. My other book, a novella, was published by a different, even smaller independent publisher. None of my books has been published outside Australia, and…

View original post 1,562 more words

Summer reading

Best book ever

29601654The Summer That Melted Everything by debut author Tiffany McDaniel is my new Best book ever (for January anyway).

Some ‘Antarctic noir’ might have been a better choice while melting in Melbourne’s hot summer, but I couldn’t peel myself off the couch until I’d read the final page of this dark, gothic novel.

This book requires some willing suspension of disbelief, and I saw most of what was coming, but from a few pages in I was completely captivated by McDaniel’s stunning prose.

It’s a hell of a story (sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂 )! It’s about what happens when prosecutor Autopsy Bliss (don’t be put off by the name like I was — that’s why it took me a while to get around to reading) invites the devil to the backwater town of Breathed, Ohio in the summer of 1984.

The Summer That Melted Everything is about family, redemption, love and evil. It made me cry, and at times I didn’t think I could bear the suffocating claustrophobia and aching sorrow — there’s not much bliss for the Bliss family that the story centres on. I’m not sure about the ending, and the book left me feeling shattered for sometime afterwards. Its images are still infiltrating my dreams.

Compelling, beautiful, brutal. If you’re looking for a cheery holiday read — this is not it.

Something old

xjane-eyre-popular-penguins-jpg-pagespeed-ic-lunfyo9spvJane Eyre | Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is my current ‘bed book’. Unfortunately I often fall asleep and lose my page in my bed books. This one is so long — it’s going to take forever.

I avoided this classic when I was a teenager but felt compelled to give it a go after recently re-reading Wuthering Heights — which I adore — and was reluctant afterwards to leave the Bronte’s gothic 1800s world. Jane Eyre is quite different — obviously, I know; it’s not Emily — but I’m enjoying it. Slowly.

Something new

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks | Robin Elizabeth33152096

Confessions of a Mad Mooer was released at the end of last year. It’s a memoir about the author’s battle with PND and admission to a psychiatric hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer is told with honesty and humour. The writing’s great, and it’s a compelling read about a widely misunderstood topic. Oh, and it also contains some hilarious parenting and cleaning tips!  

More info about Confessions of a Mad Mooer here

Something borrowed

1471987Tell Me I’m Here | Anne Deveson

Tell me I’m Here is Anne Deveson’s beautifully written, heartbreaking memoir about her son, Jonathan, who had schizophrenia. I borrowed it from my local library, and read up to the penultimate chapter. Jonathan’s death occurs in the next chapter — I read ahead to prepare myself, but still couldn’t continue.

While avoiding the last chapters, Anne Deveson and Georgia Blain (who I hadn’t realised was Anne’s daughter mentioned in the book) both passed away.

Tell Me I’m Here is still sitting on top of my TBR pile, with a book mark sticking out of the final pages. Now the library wants it back — I’ve already renewed it twice, so I can’t keep it any longer. Sadly, I don’t think I can finish.

Something blue

Mayan Mendacity by L.J.M Owen and The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo are on my TBR pile, but I haven’t started either yet. They both have beautiful blue covers.

31117244

Mayan Mendacity | L.J.M Owen

28046074

The Light on the Water | Olga Lorenzo

 

 

 

 

 

 

More of What I’m Reading can be found over on Meanjin’s blog.

What have you been reading this summer?

Tania Chandler: #Robinpedia

I’m very excited to have made it into #Robinpedia

Write or Wrong

Dreams can come true.

Who is Tania Chandler? She’s a crime writer, an Australian, and an all round rad shiela (is that how you spell it?). Like all cool writers she lives in Melbourne… I live in Sydney. Graeme Simsion, famous for the world wide smash The Rosie Project, has described her lead character as “flawed and troubled as any hard-bitten dick.

Tania’s novels are known for taking the archetypes from crime fiction and shuffling them around. Her character Brigitte has all the hallmarks of the femme fatale yet is the lead character. Aidan has the typical traits of the strong and silent police officer who drinks too much yet is relegated to the love interest category. Tania’s playing around with tropes gives her novels a fresh and light feel despite them dealing with distinctly dark subject matter.

Why does this cover scare me so?

Her…

View original post 230 more words

Nothing looks the same in the light

I like ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Life on Mars’ (after binge-watching the series Life on Mars), but I was never a big Bowie fan; I went through a Prince phase when I was young, but that didn’t last long; I love reading Leonard Cohen’s poetry and lyrics, but admittedly I prefer the cover versions of his songs performed by other artists. The 2016 celebrity death that hit me the hardest was George Michael’s.

Believe it or not, I was a Wham! fan. George Michael was one of my first crushes — after Steve from The Land of the Giants, Michael Douglas in The Streets of San Francisco, and Robert (a boy in Grade 6).

unknown

George Michael

unknown-1

Steve

images

Michael Douglas

Robert (from memory)

In Grade 4 or 5, we had to come up with an act to perform for the class. My best friend at the time and I choreographed a dance routine to ‘Bad Boys’.

‘Last Christmas’ was the soundtrack to my very first summer-holiday romance, and my subsequent very first broken heart.

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in (Leonard Cohen) is far more profound, but there’s a line from a Wham! song that has resonated with me since I was twelve (although I had to google to remember which song it’s from): Nothing looks the same in the light. I have stolen borrowed and rewritten those words — that concept — in many different ways. I made a list of examples from my books, but deleted it (because, well, who wants to read random, out-of-context lines of prose? Plus it was quite a long list).

220px-whamfantastic

I can still remember the inky, shiny-paper smell of the song-lyric sheet in the inner sleeve of the Fantastic album.

Art-inspired writing

I was recently invited to speak to a primary school class about writing and Storybird. Storybird is an educational platform, where students can create art-inspired stories, with the options of publishing their work and connecting with a community of readers, writers and artists. In
Storybird, writers start by choosing illustrations, which lead them into the writing process. A great way to prevent writer’s block.

I decided to make my talk a little about structure and process, and a lot about the artwork that inspired my books (leaving out the gory bits, of course!). The kids loved discussing art and stories, and their teacher is trying to organise an excursion to an art gallery before the end of the year.

dd101465

Lovers | Charles Blackman | NGV

Lovers
One of my writing lecturers at RMIT taught a class about ekphrasis [Greek ekphrazein to speak out, to call an inanimate object by name — Macquarie Dictionary], a concept that goes back to Plato. Put very basically, ekphrasis is the use of one art form to provide a commentary on another art form. Our class had an excursion to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Fed Square where we chose an artwork to write about. This was a very powerful exercise for me and it’s where I first became enamoured with Charles Blackman’s Lovers. I spent a lot of time admiring this painting. I occasionally visit it now, and it still always brings a tear to my eye. Lovers informed my first novel Please Don’t Leave Me Here so much that it appears as a print on Brigitte’s apartment wall, and is referred to several times — in real time, memory and dreams.

‘She looks across at the print hanging on the wall behind the sofa: two lovers embrace against a background that looks finger- painted — frosty white smears tinged with aqua. If you could taste it, it would be spearmint. The female figure rests her head against the man’s neck. She is veiled in black, her face hidden by a hood. He is shadow-like, grey, his face visible but chiselled, without detail like a sculpture. Against the small of her back he holds a bouquet of flowers: white, perhaps daisies, with centres the colour of fresh blood. Is this their last time together? Is she in his dream? A memory? Or a ghost? Why can’t they just be together?’
— Please Don’t Leave Me Here

68-9_rothko_imageprimacy

Four Darks in Red | Mark Rothko | Whitney Museum of American Art

Four Darks in Red
This was Aidan’s artwork in Dead in The Water. Brigitte disliked it and described it as: ‘… four lozenge shapes in different shades of red, from crimson at the bottom to liver-brown at the top … She’d never told him that she didn’t like it. It reminded her of bloodstains.

Four Darks in Red became a metaphor for blood.

‘There were stains on his clothing the sombre colours of his Rothko Four Darks in Red — he’d been to the accident scene.’

‘It wasn’t raindrops: it was crimson. Four darks in red.’
— Dead in the Water

epub000615

Feet Beneath the Table | Charles Blackman | NGV

Alice in Wonderland series
Strangely enough, I’m drawn to the artwork of Charles Blackman again — in particular his Alice in Wonderland series — while writing my third book, You Used To Love Me. The story (at this stage) is about memory, time and the line between sanity and insanity. For me, it seems to have many parallels with Alice in Wonderland.

‘Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.’
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

dd103476

Collins St, 5p.m. | John Brack | NGV

Collins St, 5p.m.
Again, I’ve placed artwork within my story. In You Used to Love Me, Sidney studies this painting in Year 10 art, and twenty years later finds herself in the setting of the painting.

‘… Glass towers had replaced the sandstone buildings of Brack’s 1950s background. Not all the faces were white, and mobile phones were stuck to ears, but the blank expressions were the same. Strange now that here I was — that girl grown-up — in the street, in the picture I remembered. My past self in the future. Or my future self in the past? Or the present? Thoughts like that — time plains, continuums, illusion — could do my head in …’
— You Used to Love Me (work in progress)

the-mice-and-me-2008_meghan-boody_mona_mona-blog

Of Mice and Me | Meghan Boody

Of Mice and Me
I didn’t show this image to the Grade 2s! The germ of the idea for You Used to Love Me came to me while viewing this sculpture a year or so ago at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania. A lot of the museum-visitors were walking away shaking their heads, but I was utterly mesmerised. When I listened to an interview with the artist, Meghan Boody, I understood why this piece had captivated me. Boody describes it as ‘an ode to staying forever young’. And says, ‘I often feel a strange tug or presence when I walk by the apartment where I grew up. I look up into the window of my bedroom — and wouldn’t it be wild if I saw myself as a child looking back down?’ Boom! That, in a nutshell, was the essence of my vision for You Used to Love Me.

Back to my Year 2 talk … In case I’d traumatised them (which, of course, I hadn’t — eight-year-olds are very switched-on little people and they love scary stories), I finished with these images of On Days Like This There Are Always Rainbows, an installation by Pip and Pop, which I saw recently at NGV. The rainbow-candy-coloured miniature wonderland — mountains, valleys, pathways, crystal forests, and fluorescent flowers and animals constructed from glitter, clay, foam, sequins and pom-poms, topped with coloured sugar and cake decorations — was inspirational enough to me as an adult, but it would have been absolutely magical as a child.

20161108_110508 20161108_110657-1

On days like this there are always rainbows | Pip & Pop (Tanya Shultz)

I would love to hear about artwork that has inspired you.

Newtown Review of Books: Dead in the Water by Tania Chandler

Write or Wrong

My very first review forNewtown Review of Booksis up. It is forTania Chandler’snew release Dead in the Water. I am so excited. Go read it.It’s here.I feel like a legitimate member of the Australian writing community now.
I really have nothing more to add to this entry because I already say everything in the review. So here are a series of gifs to sum up my feelings whilst reading Dead in the Water.



View original post

Writer vs. Storyteller

photo-on-18-10-2016-at-11-02-amI’m stuck in the middle of my WIP (that’s why I’m writing this post instead of writing-writing) because the Writer and Storyteller in my head are fighting. I’m just under 50K words into what I think is a complex, layered, deeply nuanced character study, which the Writer is totally in love with. But now the Storyteller is trying to crash the party with questions like: Is the storyline strong enough to pull the reader along?

Writer: I don’t care what the reader thinks. I just care about my character.
Storyteller: I’m sorry, did you just say you don’t care about the reader?
Writer: I didn’t mean it. Of course I care about the reader. I’ve worked so hard on this characterisation — won’t it be enough to pull them along?
Storyteller: I don’t think so.
Writer: Then how about elegant sentences, and beautiful punctuation?
Storyteller: How about a plot twist in act three?
Writer: That would make it contrived.
Storyteller: That would make it a story.
Writer: It would cheapen the whole thing.
Storyteller: No it wouldn’t.
Writer: Yes, it would.
Storyteller: No.
Writer: Yes.
Storyteller: What about Peter Temple?
Writer: What about Peter Temple?
Storyteller: You’re always going on about how much you like him, and he does both.
Writer: I like — believe in, care about, fall in love with — his characters (and his stylish prose). I couldn’t care less about his plots. In fact I think they interfere with the characterisation.
Storyteller: That’s ridiculous.
Writer: And I still don’t get why there were chocolate wrappers in the bin at the end of The Broken Shore.
Storyteller: *Sigh* How many times do I have to tell you — I think it’s an implication of how Cashin will eventually, sometime in a future book, solve the mystery of what happened to the missing boys who made the ceramic pots back in 1988.
Writer: You have no idea either.
Storyteller: Margaret Atwood is good at both too.
Writer: I love Margaret Atwood.
Storyteller: David Mitchell.
Writer: I didn’t love Cloud Atlas.
Storyteller: I did.
Writer: You would. How about The Bell Jar?
Storyteller: Let’s not have that argument again. So what are we going to do?
Writer: About what?
Storyteller: Our story, for fucks sake!
Writer: Sorry, I was just thinking about the way the green light from the motel’s ‘Vacancy’ sign shimmers in a rain river along the ground to Dean Cola’s feet, just before Sidney leaves town with him.
Storyteller: Oh my God, you’ve just given away the ending!
Writer: That bit won’t be there if you get your way with the plot twist.
Storyteller: So you do want to give it a try?
Writer: I didn’t say that.
Storyteller: We’ll foreshadow it right from the start.
Writer: And if I don’t like it, I could take it out?
Storyteller: Of course.
Writer: I could do it with TrackChanges turned on — like a safety net, just in case.
Storyteller: You know we stopped using TrackChanges long ago. And you’re too stubborn to try Scrivener.
Writer: If it’s wrong, changing it back would be so much work, when I could be polishing prose instead.
Storyteller: You’ve done it before. Remember how many times you rewrote Please Don’t Leave Me Here?
Writer: *Curls up in corner and starts to cry*
Storyteller: You’ve learnt a lot since then.
Writer: No, I haven’t.
Storyteller: You — I mean I know what I’m doing now.
Writer: I’m not so sure.
Storyteller: Stop being a baby! It’ll be fine.
Writer: It might not be.
Storyteller: Then rewrite it again. And again, until it is fine.
Writer: But …
Storyteller: You know I’m right. Trust me.
Writer:
Storyteller: Trust me.
Writer: OK.