Category Archives: children’s books

The Current Big Thing

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Hullo, lovely readers. I know, I’ve already done The Next Big Thing, about my WIP.
This is a blog hop, arranged by Vicki M Taylor, a member of a LinkedIn writers group I belong
to.

The questions used are the Next Big Thing ones, but I am talking about my current book,
which is FINALLY available in US bookshops and on Amazon as a paperback instead of just
ebook. the idea is to promote and get some interest in your books.
Please check out the links at the end of this post to see what other writers are doing!

What is the title of your book?

The title of my current book is Wolfborn. It has just arrived in the US.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from a mediaeval romance by Marie De France, the Lai Le Bisclavret, (Werewolf).
I have used the story’s outline but set it in my own world.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s YA fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In the Wolfborn movie, I would have Sean Bean or Viggo Mortensen as my
werewolf knight, Sire Geraint, who is betrayed and stuck in wolf skin.
The young hero, Etienne, his loyal page, could be played by Jamie Bell
if he was a few years younger. 🙂 I am still casting the other roles.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Teenage boy and friends race against time to save his master, a werewolf knight
who has been betrayed and stuck in wolfskin, before he becomes a wolf forever!

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither. I was very lucky with this one; I was doing an interview about another book
in a magazine when a publisher who needed a full manuscript in a hurry read the interview
and emailed me to ask if she could have a look at the MS. She bought it two days later.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This one was written and rewritten. The first draft was actually written very quickly
because the story poured out of me. Then I rewrote … and rewrote.
And then it was edited and edited again…

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t recall ever reading anything quite like it, but I am a big fan of Sophie Masson,
Juliet Marillier and Margo Lanagan, all of whom write novels with fairy tale backgrounds.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was reading the mediaeval romance mentioned above, in a collection called
The Breton Lais. It was about a werewolf knight whose wife betrays him when
she finds out his secret, making sure he stays a wolf. I thought it fascinating.
These days we’re used to the werewolf, vampire or whatever as the good guy
in YA paranormal romance, but in the Middle Ages they were evil creatures linked
to Satan.Yet here was this story written in the twelfth century in which the werewolf
was the good guy and probably born that way. The story leapt out at me yelling,
Novel! It’s told from the viewpoint of a character I created myself, a teenage boy
serving in his castle and learning what he needs to know for his own
knighthood. I added a couple of romances and some characters not in the original.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Fairies! (Or Faeries) Villains! Love! Adventure! Heroism! The Wild Hunt!
And a big, soppy dog.

And here are some more posts on this subject by other fabulous writers – why not visit them
all?

Vicki Taylor: http://vickimtaylor.blogspot.comhttp://vickimtaylor.blogspot.com
Gila Green: http://www.gilagreenonline.comwww.gilagreenonline.com
Jim Westcott: http://jacksmonster.wordpress.comhttp://jacksmonster.wordpress.com
Angela D Coleman: http://www.angeladcoleman.wordpress.comwww.angeladcoleman.wordpress.com
H.L. Stephens http://chroniclesofhlstephens.blogspot.comhttp://chroniclesofhlstephens.blogspot.com
Susan Spence: http://www.susanspenceauthor.comhttp://www.susanspenceauthor.com
Lannah Sawers-Diggins: http://bullseye-bullying.blogspot.com.auhttp://bullseye-bullying.blogspot.com.au
http://quillstreetcafe.comhttp://quillstreetcafe.com
And Deborah Teramis Christian: http://www.deborahteramischristian.com/http://www.deborahteramischrisitan.com

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Wolfborn In The US – Promo

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A few months ago, I became very excited because I learned that my novel Wolfborn was FINALLY becoming available in the US. It wasn’t quite what I would have liked – they were going to distribute it themselves instead of creating a new overseas edition – but still, it was available outside Australia and I felt as if the book was being released all over again. I had one gig on the blog Dear Teen Me , arranged by the publicist over there, which I wrote and waited for more to happen, meanwhile arranging the interview and giveaway on I Am A Reader Not A Writer. So I asked the US publicist what else was happening.

Her reply came this morning : nothing else is happening, unless I arrange it. She will of course support anything I do, but she’s finished with it. She only has a few review copies left anyway.
So,where have the others gone? I haven’t seen a single review from over there. It’s the way of things, I guess. I’ve been dealing with publishers for many years. I can remember when I had to send THEM copies of reviews I found, because they didn’t let me know. One publisher asked me for a publicity photo and then lost it, these being the days before email. Ah, well! Nothing to be done there.

I would like to see more sales in the US, and if I had known it would all be over so quickly with so little promo effort from that side of the ocean I would have done more, earlier.

So, I would like to invite requests for review copies. If you have a blog and haven’t read my novel and would like to, email me at the contact address on this blog. If you’re in the US I will send your address to the publicist there. If you live elsewhere I will send you a copy from my stash – I bought far too many at author price anyway.

I do suggest you check out the sample chapter on The Great Raven to decide if the book would interest you. It’s not compulsory, but it’s sensible. Postage is going to cost me and I would like to think that anyone who asks for it is asking for something that they actually want to read. Just so you know, it is NOT a paranormal romance, it does not feature a Mary Sue who discovers she is a princess and has to marry a gorgeous vampire, mer prince, faerie king, whatever. In fact, it’s seen from the boy’s viewpoint and the romance element is subtle and takes the whole novel to build up, so much so that some reviewers have accused it of being “tacked on”. It’s a mediaeval fantasy with werewolves.

If that doesn’t interest you, don’t request it. If you think you’d like to read and review this, let me know. I’ll look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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Interview with Tehani Wessely

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First published in August on The Great Raven

Today’s post is an interview with Tehani Wessely. I have known Tehani since she was with the Andromeda Spaceways publishing co-operative, of which she was a founding member (I came along in the next wave). Whatever she says below about it being an apprenticeship, it was a highly impressive apprenticeship. It is true that she got her practice in publishing there. Tehani, like Miffy Farquharson, whom I interviewed earlier on this blog, is also a judge in a number of book and writing awards. Stuff the comic book superheroes, Tehani Wessely is Superwoman and a nice person on top of it all.

SB:You’re a teacher-librarian, a mother, a publisher, an editor, a blogger, a reviewer, a podcaster, a judge for three major awards (the Aurealis, the WA Premier’s and the Children’s Book Council, have I missed anything?) – how do you manage to fit it all in?

TW: That’s a very good question! I guess a lot of what I do involves reading, which I have always devoted a lot of time to (and I do read very fast – not always a good thing!) so it’s just a normal part of my routine. Luckily, a lot of judging reading overlaps, although the deliberations are always very different! I don’t watch much free-to-air television, or do a lot of outside the internet socialising, and if I’m being honest, I REALLY don’t get enough exercise, so I guess that’s where the time comes from! J

SB: How did you get the judging gigs you have had?

TW: The first time I judged was for the Aurealis Awards. I put my hand up a few years ago when Fantastic Queensland was running the Awards and called for judges, and was made convenor of the Fantasy Novel panel. It’s just grown from there – I’m now the judging co-ordinator for the AAs, and I think my other judging opportunities owe a lot to that experience as well. The first year I did WA Premier’s it was again just a simple matter of applying (and I think they were desperate – I shortlisted two categories on my own!) – I’m about to finish my last year for that, because you can only do three years in a row then have a couple of years break. CBCA was fantastic, and I’m only sad I couldn’t do my two year rotation (the judges are state-based and I moved interstate. I didn’t think it was very fair to the WA members not to have their judge accessible to them!).

SB: How many entries did you receive for the Children’s Book Council Awards and how long did it take to read and comment on them?

TW: I think we received over 400 entries across four categories. CBCA is great because from about May through to the following March, you receive a box of books every three weeks to read and comment on. The deadlines are nice and firm, and it keeps you on track, so although you’re reading a heck of a lot of books (many of which are picture books or quite short chapter books, which makes it easier!), it’s spaced out over the year.

SB: What criteria did you use in judging the CBCA awards (and any other you might like to comment on)?

TW: There are quite extensive criteria for the CBCA awards, which are available on the CBCA website – http://cbca.org.au/userfiles/file/Downloads/Nat%20Site/2011/awards%20criteria.pdf Naturally, literary quality is an important factor in all awards, but so is age appropriateness and many other elements. What’s interesting about judging for different awards is seeing the different focuses, and also how discussions differ in different types of panels – CBCA is eight people, face to face in an intensive four day judging conference in which EVERY ENTRY is looked at again; WA Premier’s is two people for initial shortlisting, then four/five for final decision (face-to-face meeting in an afternoon); Aurealis Awards is completely online, with three to four panelists. You can judge exactly the same books and get very different results – fascinating!

SB: What did you do with all those books you received?

TW: Most I donate to my local school/s – my own school library does very well out of me, as do my kids’ school. I give some to friends, and keep special ones for myself. I try to be ruthless about what I keep though – we’ve moved around a lot and boxes of books are HEAVY.

SB: I’m told that sometimes the difference between a Notable Book in the CBCA awards and a shortlisted one can be one vote – did that happen this year?

TW: Each book is shown to the judging team at the conference – if it receives at least half the team’s vote, it’s put forward for discussion to be Notable. The process is very straightforward – a certain number of votes are required for a book to get this honour, and then each of the Notable books is discussed and voted on to work to a shortlist. Then we vote again for Winner and Honour books. Each stage has clearly delineated rules about number of votes needed for a book to make it through. And yes, there were books this happened to – I imagine there would be every year!

SB: Would you do any/all of these judging jobs again?

TW: In an instant! I really enjoy the process, and the discussions you can have with other judges – I’ve never been in a book club, but I daresay I get the same sort of thing from judging!

SB: Tell us about Fablecroft Publishing, the company you founded.

TW: I started FableCroft after about eight years working in collaborative groups in Australian small press. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine was really a kind of apprenticeship for me, and an experience I’ll always treasure for the friendships I made and the lessons I learned. But I eventually decided I really would like to do some projects on my own, and thus FableCroft was born. It’s been ticking along nicely since the first book, Worlds Next Door, came out in 2010. I did two books that year, just one in 2011 (I also helped run a major science fiction convention that year, which ate a lot of time!), and two already in 2012.

The amount of work required for the press comes in fits and spurts, depending on where in the publication schedule I’m at – I’m always looking for marketing opportunities, and do regular newsletters with Twelfth Planet Press, as well as mailouts to retail outlets, update the press’s social networks and am usually working on one project or another at various points of the publication process! Slushreading is perhaps one of the biggest time factors – for Epilogue, which was open internationally, I received almost 200 submissions, which translated to over 900,000 words of fiction. In the first two weeks of the submissions call for the new anthology, One Small Step (closes September 30), I’ve had a dozen stories submitted – it will be interesting to see what the final numbers are like for this book, as it’s open to Australian authors only.

I love working on FableCroft – it lets me be creative, and support our local authors. As with Andromeda Spaceways, I really enjoy seeing new(ish) authors I published early in their careers go on to wonderful success, and is one of the reasons I formed the publishing house. It’s also really great when stories I’ve published are recognised at awards time, because it means that other people agree that the stories are as good as I think they are! A FableCroft story won an Aurealis Award for the first time this year, which was very exciting (yay Thoraiya!), and we also have stories being reprinted in the Ticonderoga Year’s Best collection later this year. Awards are not the reason I publish, but it’s a lovely bonus.

SB: Small press publishing seems to be thriving in Australian speculative fiction in recent years. Do you agree – and if so, why do you think this is the case?

TW: Personally, I would agree that independent press seems to be thriving in Australia, but I’ve only got a decade long perspective to work with. Certainly it seems in our history, we’ve had other boom periods, but the difference today is, I think, visibility and accessibility. We live in a connected world, and it is both much easier to actually CREATE such things, thanks to the advances and lessening costs of printing/publishing, as well as to be AWARE of them, due to social networking. The noise-to-quality ratio may also be increasing, but authors can certainly find more publishing opportunities now than ever before, and those opportunities seem to be growing too. It means we know more about what is out there, both within Australia and internationally, and can easily find publications we’re interested in reading, and interested in submitting to. It’s a great and scary time to be involved in publishing – so many changes, and so many opportunities. Pretty awesome, really!

SB: And here’s the link to

http://www.fablecroft.com.Fablecroft Publishing. If you’re a teacher or school librarian or both, you might like to check out Worlds Next Door while you’re there. There are some free sample stories to download and some of the stories have been read aloud by the authors.

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My Next Big Thing

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First appeared on The Great Raven

I have been tapped to do The Next Big Thing by George Ivanoff, quite late in the piece, which means that nearly everyone I have tapped myself has already done it or is busy. It’s meant to be a chain, so if any writer reading this would like to do it, get in touch. You do have to have a web site, because effectively it’s like doing an interview on your own site. However, if you’d rather do it on my site I would be happy to host you.

Below are the questions George sent me.

1) What is the [working] title of your next book?

The working title is The Sword And The Wolf, but I’m not good at titles. That said, when I did a writers’ workshop with it, the publisher from Tor thought the title was fine!

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a prequel to Wolfborn. I felt that the story of Etienne and his friends, Armand, Sylvie, Jeanne and the werewolf knight, Geraint, was told, but there were some lesser characters in the novel whose stories I believed needed expanding. I fell in love with King Luiz, who mostly appears as a sort of deus ex machina near the end of Wolfborn, but turned out to be a likeable person and I wondered about his teenage years. And there was a lesser baddie who also took my interest, so he is worked in too. The universe is the same, but it’s set during an interregnum when the king had been killed in battle and his heir had gone missing. Yes, there’s an Arthurian flavour to it.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

YA fantasy. It has werewolves in it, but it’s a mediaeval fantasy, not the standard urban fantasy.

4)What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m still thinking about it. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in Game Of Thrones, would be about the right age now for the role of my heroine, Lysette, and has the right style. Her mentor Amrys, the former court wizard who got locked in a tree by his last apprentice and missed the young prince’s growing up, needs to be someone fortyish, as he was frozen in time. He’s not an ancient man with a long beard, he’s more like Mary Stewart’s Merlin. Maybe Hugo Weaving.:-)

5) What’s the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Teen werewolf girl lets a wizard out of a tree and finds herself caught up in the search for a lost prince – a very cute lost prince! 🙂

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I don’t do self-published. Agents? Over the years I have had to represent myself, because any agent I approached either had full books or didn’t bother to reply, even to an inquiry letter( I never sent them a manuscript unsolicited). Publishers know me now, so usually at least read the MS, even if they say no. That said, any agent reading this is welcome to contact me! ;-). Otherwise I will first offer it to publishers I have dealt with before. Then, if no luck, I will try others.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

My first draft is not finished. And it’s taken ages! Still, I’m around 60,000 words in.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t think it’s exactly like anything I’ve read. The closest, though, would be a cross between Tamora Pierce’s WolfSpeaker and Mary Stewart’s The Hollow Hills.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My previous novel was full of aristocrats, even if they did have to live wild. I thought I’d see what life might be like for a peasant werewolf who managed to avoid being lynched.

10) What else might pique the reader’s interest?

Oh, lots of adventure, a little romance, prehistoric animals, humour. There’s not enough humour in YA fantasy novels in my opinion. If you’re curious, check this out: Sue Bursztynski Reads Her Fiction – it’s me reading from the manuscript on YouTube.

Thanks, George, for inviting me!

A Saturday Arvo With SCBWI

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Yesterday afternoon I went to Di Mattina’s, a restaurant in Lygon Street, Carlton, where there was a meeting of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in the fiction room upstairs. It was only my third meeting, because for quite a while, either I had a clash or they were holding meetings somewhere on the Mornington Peninsula, just too far to travel by public transport.

I met some people I know through email, Twitter or just having read their books. Edel Wignell was there. I first met her years ago when I won my first Mary Grant Bruce Award, when I shared a table with her and her husband at the awards party. Errol Broome was there too – we’ve met at ASA events, back when the Australian Society of Authors had a group for children’s writers. Gabrielle Wang, the author of A Ghost In My Suitcase and other terrific books, was there – we meet a lot and she told me she was putting up one of my students’ creative responses to her novel. She did that last year too, when two of my students interviewed her.

Actually, it was interesting to see that most of the room was filled with women. There are male writers for children, but not as many and the ones you see at these meetings are usually illustrators or editors. It was a bit like going to a school library conference, where you get the same number differences.

There were two speakers. One was a lady who has started running a bookshop in Williamstown after twenty-five years in teaching. She explained how they choose the books for the shop, how they have “paper products”(?) as well because you can’t sell just books and why they don’t have too many author events.

The highlight, though, was listening to Margaret Clark, the author of literally hundreds of books. Margaret is a very funny lady, who had the audience laughing all the way through. She showed us some of the stuff she had written as a child, when she entered writing competitions. Her first “rejection” was when she didn’t win the competition to meet the Queen of England during her 1954 visit to Australia. She doesn’t seem to have had too many rejection slips since then, although a book she wrote for the Aussie Bites series didn’t get into print when the series was scrapped. Her family don’t read her books, which were first written on typewriters in the days before computers – some in the days before whiteout!

She admitted that her “Lee Striker” series of horror novels(there were twenty-six!) were written under a pen name so they could be placed next to R.L.Stine’s books on the bookshop shelves. I had heard that, but she confirmed it. It didn’t work, anyway. She says she had to keep explaining to children on school visits that she was “Lee Striker” when they were disappointed not to meet this author. Whatever the reason it didn’t work, the later books had “Margaret Clark writing as Lee Striker” on the covers because she had plenty of fans under her own name.

Her two serious books, Care Factor Zero and Back On TrackDiary Of A Street Kid were both based on her experiences while working with troubled teens in alcohol and drug counselling. One girl who was about to jump off a roof then threatened her with a rusty nail when she came down.

It was a good afternoon altogether and nice to meet so many great writers. I admit I go to those meetings not entirely as a writer but as a fan. It’s so exciting to meet people whose books I’ve loved over a cup of tea and a cake!

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Wolfborn: Celebration Of The US Release

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My novel Wolfborn arrived in the US on October 1. Since then, my publishers and I have been promoting. This morning, my interview and a giveaway has appeared here, on I Am A Reader Not A Writer, a famous book blog which runs a lot of giveaways and book promotions. In this case, there’s going to be a giveaway within the US only because my publishers are doing the posting – and the whole point, of course, is to celebrate the US release. 🙂

Why not check it out, even if you’re not in the US? The interview is hopefully fun, anyway.

It almost feels like the book has just come out, all over again. Hopefully, the sales will be good!

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Rachel Caine At Dymock’s

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This evening on my way home I dropped in at Dymock’s Bookshop in Melbourne to pick up some gift vouchers for my departing foundatio book club members. Next week, Dylan, Thando, Paige,Kristen Selena and Ryan will be doing their exams, then one week back, then the week after they will be having a taster week at our Senior Campus. I may see them briefly the week after next, when they come back to discuss their exams, but this is really their last week of a normal timetable. And I am going to miss them terribly! 😦

So I went to the shop and bought my gift cards and a pack of UNICEF cards to put thm in(UNICEF was the charity they did in Year 8) and, glancing over to see if there were any bookmarks I could grab, I suddenly realised there was one of the bookshop’s writer events happening. The writer this time was Rachel Caine, author of the Morganville Vampires series.

There are a lot of vampire series around these days and I have only read one, the first, but quite enjoyed it. The premise is that there’s this town run by vampires. They make it a rule that humans have to give blood regularly at the hospital. You can escape, but you forget about it, so they haven’t ever been caught. And most people stay because it’s their home.

I didn’t have anything on me to sign, but since I was there I decided to sit down with the rest of the audience and listen to the talk.

Rachel was a cheerful lady who chatted away abut how she started writing – and selling. She admitted to having started life as a media fan writer (Space 1999). A ticket to a writers conference landed her her first sale, although the book didn’t do well. In fact, she has had several pen names and er books got nowhere till she began writing as Rachel Caine. She had the idea for this series when driving along a dark road with lights far apart and thinking that this was the ideal urban planning for vampires.

Questions began, generally good ones. My own question was when she had been able to give up her day job – and here was where I was impressed. With four books a year, she was still working full time on a stressful, exhausting day job till only three years ago. And even then she gave it up because it just wasn’t possible to get away for, say, a tour, with a guaranteed no contact from her employers.

She said that having a day job is good for a writer. It gives you discipline. Going out into the woods to write in a log cabin tends to result in no ideas and no writing.

It gave some definite food for thought!

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