BEST AUSTRALIAN BLOGS – MY DILEMMA

I was very excited when this blog was nominated by a reader for the Best Australian Blog Awards.

I’m still thrilled and very grateful to the reader who thought my blog was worthy of the nomination. But now that voting has started, I have mixed feelings. I compete with my fellow authors every time I submit to a publisher, but not in such a direct and blatant way as a competition like this.

My dilemma is not only do I personally know many of my competitors in this competition but I think that their blogs are just as worthy as mine.

DeeScribewriting blog was started by me to share my writer’s journey in the hope that it would help others on a road that’s not always easy.

I guess if this competition lets more people know about my blog and it helps them with their writing then that’s a good thing, right?

If you enjoy reading my blog, you can vote for me by clicking the “Vote for Me Now” button in the lefthand column of my blog.

But you don’t have to just vote for me in this competition. There are so many great blogs out there and you can vote for all your favourites as long as you do it in one hit because you can only register once.

Have you ever been in this position – where you’d love to win but you want someone else to as well?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing and blogging:)

Dee

HAZARD RIVER BOOKS ON TOUR

Brisbane author, J.E. Fison, launches two new books in the Hazard River series this month. Tiger Terror and Bat Attack follow the action-packed holiday adventures of Jack Wilde and his friends. J.E. has embarked on a virtual book tour after reading my post on blog tours. She stops by to share some tips on touring and explain the inspiration for her new books.

It’s no secret that marketing plays a large part in the success of a book. So I shouldn’t  have been surprised when my publisher asked me to write an article for a children’s literature magazine to promote the Hazard River series. But I was. I was also surprised when he asked me present at a book distributers’ conference and appear at a Scotch College literary festival in Melbourne. I was a brand new author – I’d been a journalist, marketing manager and mother for the previous two decades. What could I possibly tell an audience about writing? The same applies to a blog tour. What to blog about?

After much soul searching and several interviews I’ve come up with a better idea of what readers want to know. Writing blogs, articles and doing talks is like anything else, you have to know your audience. But generally you can assume that they’ll want to know something about your background and the inspiration for your book.

I know that if I’ve enjoyed a book I want to find out more about the real story behind the story – not just because I’m a sticky beak, but also to uncover the author’s credentials for writing a book. No one tells a story like someone with first-hand experience of the issue, the characters or the setting.

Writing and literature blogs are an obvious choice for hosting a blog tour, but they’re not the only choice. Take the themes in your book or your life and look for relevant blogs outside the writing world. As long as you put together a sensible and well-written piece, anything you blog on will give your book a bit more exposure that will hopefully translate into more sales.

I’m kicking off my virtual book tour on Dee Scribe writing because the book tour was Dee’s idea (and a great one at that). And I’ll get things started at the start, with the inspiration for the first paragraph of my new book Tiger Terror.

It was probably my mother’s screaming that frightened the cat. It’s just a guess. No one knows for sure why a cat fell from a ten-storey building onto my head. It was about the last thing I was expecting on my visit to Summercity. I wasn’t expecting to get mixed up with tigers either. I live in Australia. A tiger is one dangerous animal I shouldn’t have to worry about. But the cat changed all that.

The curious incident of the falling cat might sound like the product of an author’s  imagination, but it was actually inspired by a true story. Some years back a cat fell from a high rise apartment block in China, hitting and injuring a woman. The event triggered calls for pets to be banned from apartment blocks. I have no idea how things panned out for the cat, the woman or pets in China, in general, but the story stuck in my mind. Eventually I found a home for it in Tiger Terror.

In the story, the falling cat puts Hazard River’s narrator, Jack Wilde, in hospital. But just before it does so, Jack spots two men in a traditional medicine shop handling a tiger’s paw. The Hazard River gang must track down the men before they kill another tiger. The action is fictitious, but it was inspired by a worrying fact. Tigers are on the verge of extinction. One hundred years ago more than 100,000 tigers roamed Asia, now the numbers have dropped to around 3,000. Three subspecies of tigers have already become extinct. The rest live in isolated populations, threatened by poachers and habitat destruction.

The whole Hazard River series is firmly rooted in the real world. It came out of a family holiday on the Noosa River. My sons teamed up with friends and spent the summer exploring sand banks, dodging sting rays, building camps, getting stuck in quicksand, discovering abandoned boats, finding a whole lot of thongs (where do they come from) and having a Boys Versus Wild adventure.  I had to write about it.

My children are a constant source of inspiration, but I don’t just rely on my kids’ adventures. I look back to my own misadventures as a journalist in Asia, Europe and Australia. I also keep an open mind, whatever I’m doing – reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, checking a news website. I’m always looking out for a bizarre story or a quirky tale that I can incorporate into one of my adventures. As we all know – the  truth is often stranger than fiction.

For more details on J.E. Fison’s Hazard River series visit www.hazardriver.com

See the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZP4wqrSQSk

Stop by my blog at www.juliefison.wordpress.com

Hazard River virtual book tour dates:

14/3/2011 Review of Tiger Terror and Bat Attack http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog/friday-book-feature-more-great-hazard-river-adventures/2011/03

15/3/2011 Inspiration – it’s all around us www.deescribewriting.wordpress.com

16/3/2011 Interview http://www.needtoreadthis.com/randomacts.html

17/3/2011Writing for kids helped me become a better parent http://www.womensvillage.com/profiles/blogs/childrens-author-je-fison

18/3/2011 Does my front cover look too scary in this? http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/literary-clutter-blog/

CATRIONA HOY TALKS ABOUT THE BEST BITS OF HER BLOG TOUR

Today we are pleased to welcome a guest poster at DeeScribewriting.

My good friend and writerly colleague, Catriona Hoy is here to talk about her experiences with blog touring. Catriona is currently on her second blog tour with her beautiful new picture book, George and Ghost.

WHAT BLOG TOURING IS REALLY LIKE
by Catriona Hoy

I’m fairly new to the blogging world myself and only blog sporadically so the thought of starting a blog tour last year was something that was fairly daunting. I am in awe of those bloggers like Dee, here, who have the dedication and drive to come up with new and interesting things to talk about.

So the first thing about starting a blog tour was to get over the guilt… that I myself wasn’t a great blogger.

Next, I had to conquer the fear that I people wouldn’t be interested or that I wouldn’t find anything to say. Eventually, as with many of those non-writing aspects of being a writer, I just had to decide to jump in with both feet.

By the end of my blog tour for my picture book, Puggle ,  I’d learnt a lot. Firstly that there are lots of bloggers out there and lots of people who read blogs. I really enjoyed some of the questions that were thrown at me and I found the comments interesting that other people made about my book.

So this year when I start my blog tour for my new picture book, George and Ghost, I’ll be doing so with renewed enthusiasm. I’ll make sure I publicise as widely as I can. I’ve also organized for the publisher to include a few give aways.

All in all, I still like a book launch but a blog tour is a way to reach many more people and meet new people along the way.

Things I’ve tried to think about have been varying the type of blog that you visit. While it’s great to generate interest amongst the writing fraternity, it’s important to reach a wider audience.

Also I’ve made the tour shorter as last year I was exhausted by the end. I’ve tried not to repeat myself too much, although inevitable there are some types of similar questions.

In the week before the blog tour, some of the bloggers that I was going to visit put up tasters on their blogs, so that also helps to advertise. So…when I self-googled (we all do, don’t we?) there were a lot more listing for the book. It also creates an opportunity to refer to older titles and hopefully generate some re interest in those.

Thanks for letting me ramble on Dee. I’m no expert but I certainly see the value in blog tours. I’m on a learning journey like everyone else.

My next foray will be into the world of book trailers…I think!

Thanks for visiting, Catriona and sharing your experiences with us.

Catriona is now popping over to my other blog at http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog/ where she’s going to be talking about ghosts and you can win one of FIVE copies of Catriona’s fabulous new book!

A HOST OF ACTIVITIES FOR BLOG TOUR HOSTS

Congratulations! You have a copy of your new book in your hand and now you have decided to take it on a blog tour so you can share it with the rest of the reading world.

As I have mentioned in last week’s post, a blog tour can lead to direct sales of your book. A blog tour might sound a bit scary, but seriously they are a lot of fun. You visit different blogs and you get to talk about your new book baby and show pics. But the key to a successful blog tour is variety.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently about doing tours is:

How do you stop the tour from becoming boring?

The difference between a real tour and a virtual tour are that in a real tour, readers are unlikely to follow your around the country and go to every bookshop or library you stop at.

But in a virtual or blog tour, it is quite common for readers to visit a number of stops along the way to find out more and more about your book.

Readers also like to find out all the interesting things about you the author and about your journey to publication.

Spice Up Your Blog Tour

The simplest way to stop your blog tour from becoming boring is variety. Give your hosts a list of different topics to choose from. If each host chooses a different topic then they will be encouraged to ask you different questions from other hosts

Vary the content

You can stop your blog tour from becoming boring by varying the content – make it look and sound different. Some other things you might like to consider besides straight question and answer interviews by you or straight reviews are:

1.            Puzzles and classroom activities. I invented a word search for my Letters to Leonardo blog tour

2.            Upload excerpts from the book

3.            Upload a book trailer and talk about how you made it.

4.            Get some young readers to do advance reviews and include them on the site

5.            Hold competitions and giveaways – they can include a copy of the book or related merchandise.

6.            Upload YouTube clips showing how you wrote the book or related to the subject matter

7.            Upload podcast reviews of your book

8.            Encourage school blogs to participate and have an online chat with a class about your book

There are no limitations to what you or your blog host can do to make your blog tour fun and exciting. Go wild and have fun!

If you have any blog touring questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and blog touring:)

Dee

On Friday at DeeScribe Writing (that’s here:) PB author, Catriona Hoy is visiting to talk about her blog touring experiences. Hope you can join us then:)

YOUR BOOK DESERVES A BLOG TOUR

It’s the start of the year and the season for book launches so I thought a blog tour post might be timely.

So much work has gone into creating your new book and now it’s time for celebration – time to send your new baby out into the world. Time to let people know that you HAVE A NEW BOOK! (Congratulations by the way. Whether you’re a writer, illustrator, editor or publisher, a new book is a massive achievement.)

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, is a blog tour really worth all that effort and how much is it going to cost me?

DO BLOG TOURS REALLY WORK?

A recent Publisher’s Weekly post http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/46185-harlequin-teen-tells-and-sells-a-modern-fairy-tale.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+Children%27s+Bookshelf reported that a blog tour has been instrumental in selling 450,000 copies of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Of course giving away original artwork by the author and the odd iPod or two might have helped the promotion along and admittedly, most of us can’t afford these kind of giveaways, but I can tell you from experience that the average author can have a successful blog tour – just on a smaller scale.

My blog tour with my YA novel, Letters to Leonardo was done on a zero budget but it led to many hits on my blog and proven sales. It introduced me and my work to other bloggers and a whole new set of readers. How do I know there were direct sales? Because people bought my book at subsequent festivals and conferences saying they had read about it on my blog tour.

WHAT IS A BLOG TOUR?

It’s an event that can go for several days or even a month. (A warning, that readership seems to drop off if your tour goes for more than about ten days – unless you have the resources to offer exotic giveaways daily.)

It’s like going on a ‘real’ author tour where you visit different places talking about your book. The good thing about a blog tour is that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. There are no airline ticket costs, no excess luggage, now waiting in airports for a flight home:)

Before you start the tour, you need to select your blog hosts. These might include other authors and illustrators (overseas as well as in your own country), blogs on the theme of your book and class blogs (lots of schools blog now and are looking for fun things to do).

Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with possible blog hosts. There’s also nothing to stop you doing a google search and approaching people whose blog you like the look of and asking if they would host you.

SCHEDULING THE TOUR

Once you have found a selection of willing hosts you need to agree on dates and also materials. When I’m arranging a blog tour,  I  try and offer my hosts topics to choose from. That way the content is less likely to overlap so there will be variety for readers following the tour.

Don’t stress about holding a tour the day your book comes out. It won’t matter if it’s a week late and you can generate interest prior to the tour by blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting about any actual launches or other book release activities.

You might want to offer competitions and giveaways on your tour just make sure you factor these into your promotion’s budget.

YOUR OBLIGATIONS AS THE PERSON TOURING

  1. Put an excerpt on your blog advertising the tour including tour dates and destinations
  2. Provide photo of you and your book cover to put on blog and any links for other materials like book trailers that you may want to publicise too.
  3. Provide materials to blog hosts including answers to interview questions, books for reviews etc
  4. Provide every blog host with a schedule so they can put that on their blog so readers will know where to go next on the tour and where you have already been. That way you are not just promoting yourself and your book, you are also promoting your hosts.
  5. Return to host sites for next four to seven days to answer questions and comments from blog readers
  6. Always remember to thank your blog hosts and be prepared to host them in return
  7. Blog, tweet, Facebook and promote the blog tour  any way you can.

If you have any questions about blog tours or would like more information, feel free to leave your questions and responses in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and blog touring:)

Dee

TUESDAY WRITING TIP – MARKETING A SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK

Today at DeeScribe Writing, we welcome Tania McCartney who has successfully self-published a number of books. Tania is here to share her tips on how to market your new self-published book. She is joining us on her blog tour to promote her new book, Riley and the Curious Koala.

There are many challenges that face the self-publisher, but, without question, the toughest is marketing and publicity. I’m not the best saleswoman in the world but I do love marketing, and thank goodness I do, as my Riley books would never have succeeded if marketing was a bane for me.

When you’re only one person, marketing a self-published book is pretty much full time work. There’s no team of professionals behind you, no well-established network of media and book seller contacts. It’s all down to you – and you need to work hard and ceaselessly.

Many self-published authors set up a website and sell directly from there. They don’t even approach book sellers or distributors – and if they do, many are put off by the sky-high percentage cut.

But selling a book isn’t about what kind of percentage return you make. It’s about carving a niche into the market for yourself… and getting your name and work known and respected. Money, if it ever comes at all, is certainly secondary (and on that note, if you want to self-publish to get rich, you might as well bow out gracefully now).

There’s a wonderful saying: if people see your name once, they may notice. If they see it twice, they wonder where they’ve heard that name before. If they see if three times, they often think “this must be important, I’d better take notice”.

I live by that mantra when I market my books. Selling copies, frankly, is a bonus – and people often make the mistake of allowing marketing and sales to blur into one. Sure, sales are a result of clever marketing, but these two elements are actually totally independent of each other, and if you can detach them, you will be far more successful in marketing your work. Marketing often has no immediate or direct financial payback. It’s a slow build.

MARKETING

Marketing is, of course, multifaceted, but there are several things I do to approach the marketing machine when it comes to my self-published work.

The first thing I do is make sure I have web presence. I have an author website, a personal blog, Kids Book Review and also a blog dedicated to my small publishing company, that features only book information. I keep these sites meticulously updated and I also refresh their look quite frequently. Not only do the sites feature info on my work – they also offer the reader something, like lesson plans and fun activities for kids.

The second thing I do is network within the industry – online and in person (say – at events or conferences). This is absolutely vital because not only do people get to know you – you learn an incredible amount, and you’ll truly reel at the incredible support from a plethora of amazing people in the industry – from authors to publishers.

But networking is reciprocal and you also need to offer others your support. I do that with great pleasure via Kids Book Review (http://kids-bookreview.com) which is dedicated to supporting literary talent and offering a site stacked with fun and resources for our readers. Forming Kids Book Review has also allowed me to get to know publishers and marketing professionals in the industry – which has been priceless for my own self-published work.

For me, employing a distributor is the smartest thing I ever did. Sure, I earn less money on each book sold, but we’re not talking sales here, we’re talking marketing. Dennis Jones & Associates have helped me saturate my books all over the country. I could never have achieved this saturation without their well-established aid, and it’s been worth every dollar lost… a) because I’ve sold more books and b) because I’ve managed to connect with so many more potential buyers.

My first Riley book – Riley and the Sleeping Dragon – was featured in the Australian Booksellers Kids Reading Guide 2009/2010 thanks to Dennis Jones; something I could never have achieved without them.

HOW TO MARKET A NEW RELEASE BOOK

These things form the basis of my presence as an author, but when it comes to actually marketing a new release book, there are several things I do.

I create events for my new book. I don’t spend a fortune, but I spend a lot of time on a really sensational book launch. I approach local businesses to sponsor by offering prize giveaways or services (like a photographer or entertainer) or food. It’s amazing how supportive people are, especially if you showcase their logos on your marketing material. Sponsoring is great exposure for them, too.

I write a really good press release (google how to do it professionally) and send it to anyone and everyone I can think of. I contact local media with it and also offer book giveaways, which they love. You can contact newspapers, local free mags, radio, even television to say you have a new book out. As you get to know these contacts, they will be more willing to support subsequent books.

I send copies of the book to media, Australia-wide, mostly magazines. Think outside the square when it comes to who to send books to – it doesn’t have to be just kids or parenting magazines. If you do this, you cannot expect anything in return. You have to just cross your fingers and if you get lucky enough to have your book featured, that’s a bonus.

I approach like-minded websites and blogs and send them review copies or ask them if they would host a blog tour. I have never been knocked back – people are so supportive.

I support charities by doing free readings or donating books. I always give books to people who ask – for fund raising events. Not only is it important to support charities, but it’s also great exposure. I rarely say no to any event that asks me to attend – either with my books or without, like when I was asked to judge the Miles Franklin Writing Competition at a local school. I even do local market stalls and often sell loads of books – and if I don’t, it’s still great exposure.

I set up heaps of school and library visits and read my new book. I never charge for these, as I do feel they are a marketing technique and schools should not have to pay for them. Many schools are willing to send home a flyer offering books for sale, so kids can have books signed by a visiting author. Some won’t do it but many do – and it’s a really lovely bonus. Don’t expect it (but there’s no harm in asking).

If you have the time, you can extend your ‘brand’ by offering educational courses or workshops, either through schools or writing centres. I did a writer in residence programme with one school that was very successful and was great exposure, not to mention an enormously rewarding experience.

I contact local bookstores about hosting a reading and signing, plus I always give away a book or two and hand out goodie bags to the kids who attend. Most bookstores are really proactive and will help you advertise the event. Unless you’re Andy Griffith, you can’t expect masses of kids at these readings and sales may not be huge, but once again, it’s the exposure that counts.

I always create posters for any event I do, and make sure the host has some to put up at their school or in their bookstore. I send out emails to everyone I know announcing any readings or launches.

As you become more well known, it’s a good idea to start expressing an interest in speaking at writer’s festivals and events. This can be great exposure for your books. Also, join your state writer’s centre, the Children’s Book Council of Australia and other writing groups like the Australian Society of Authors. Ask the CBCA in your state about becoming a visiting author for Book Week.

Of course, I blog, facebook and twitter my heart out when I launch a book – I have book giveaways on my blog, too.

If you do or can write elsewhere or in other genres, use that exposure to help your books. I am a senior editor with Australian Women Online who really support me with exposure, and of course, Kids Book Review is a great platform for getting my news out there.

The last bit of advice I have about marketing your self-published work is to do things with quality, all the way. I know this sounds like a given but trust me, I review plenty of self-published books and it’s NOT a given… self-published authors need to produce excellent, major-publishing-house-quality books because anything less will bomb, no matter how great your marketing expertise.

Of course, the books also need to be well-written and beautiful! But quality is vital – from the book’s storyline to the printing and all your added extras like websites, business cards, auxiliary products – even the way you deal with people.

For example, if an author sends me a generic review request without a direct salutation or is not polite, I would never consider reviewing their book. Be professional and gracious every time – and if someone reviews your book, why not send them a thank you note? This is how relationships are built and authors are remembered amongst the staggering mountain.

BUILD A BRAND FOR YOURSELF

Building a brand for yourself via clever marketing is the way of the future for authors – or those who want to stand out from the rest and/or don’t have a major publishing house and millions of dollars behind them. Get active, stay involved and build your name rather than spend your time hocking book copies. If you can build that respect and renown, selling book copies will be a breeze.

www.taniamccartney.com
www.kids-bookreview.com
www.australianwomenonline.com

Riley and the Curious Koala will be available Australia wide from 21st November.

About Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney

Riley and the Curious Koala is the third in the Riley travelogue series of picture books, taking young children on a journey to far flung destinations. Riley’s first adventure began in Beijing with Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, continued on through Hong Kong with Riley and the Dancing Lion, and now enters home turf, with a fun-filled adventure through the beautiful city of Sydney.

Will Riley find this terribly elusive and quite curious fluffy creature amongst the gorgeous watery vistas of one of the world’s most beautiful cities? Panda, Dragon and Lion from earlier books join this little aviator on his sensational Sydney search… and their discovery is a curious (and funny!) one, indeed.

Tania’s new book features stunning black and white photos, pictures of a real life tin aeroplane and hilarious illustrations by illustrator Kieron Pratt.

Part of the profits for Riley and the Curious Koala will go to the Australian Koala Foundation https://www.savethekoala.com/.

On tour, Tania and Riley are stopping at lots of other great blogs.

Riley and the Curious Koala Blog Tour Schedule

Monday 15 November

Writing Out Loud http://writingloud.blogspot.com/

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Monday 15 November

The Book Chook http://www.thebookchook.com/
Crafting a Book Using Photos

Monday 15 November

Handmade Canberra Blog http://canberrahandmademarket.blogspot.com/

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Tuesday 16 November

Dee Scribe https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

Marketing a Self-Published Book

Tuesday 16 November

Reading Upside Down http://www.readingupsidedown.com/

A CURIOUS LIFE

Tuesday 16 November

Australian Women Online http://www.australianwomenonline.com

HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A CHILDREN’S SERIES AND REMAIN SANE

Wednesday 17 November

Little People Books http://littlepeoplebooks.com/

Reading to Little Ones

Wednesday 17 November

Miss Helen Writes http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/

TRAVEL, BOOKS AND CHILDREN

Wednesday 17 November

Retro Mummy http://retromummy.blogspot.com/

FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Thursday 18 November

Soup Blog http://soupblog.wordpress.com/

Story Writing Ideas

Thursday 18 November

Bernadette Kelly’s Blog http://www.bernadettekelly.com.au/news/

ILLUSTRATING THE RILEY SERIES

Thursday 18 November

Posie Patchwork: The Blog http://posiepatchworkblog.blogspot.com/

EXTENDING YOUR BRAND and BOOK GIVE AWAY!

Friday 19 November

Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com/

Approaching Publishers

Friday 19 November

The Little Bookroom http://littlebookrm.blogspot.com/

A Conversation with Leesa Lambert on Great Picture Books

Saturday 20 November

Sue Whiting’s Blog http://suewhiting.blogspot.com/

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Saturday 20 November

Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com/

FROM BEIJING TO CANBERRA

Saturday 20 November

Kids Book Review http://kids-book-review.blogspot.com/

LIVE QUESTION TIME WITH TANIA!

Sunday 21 November

Sandy Fussell’s Blog http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com/

An Interview with Riley!

Sunday 21 November

Kids Book Review http://kids-book-review.blogspot.com/

RilEY AND THE CURIOUS KOALA BOOK GIVEAWAYS!

Sunday 21 November, 6pm

Tania McCartney Blog http://taniamccartney.blogspot.com/

Book Launch Party

AWARD FOR TOP CHILDREN’S WRITING BLOG

I just wanted to thank everyone who reads my blog for your ongoing support and to let you know that DeeScribe Writing has been awarded one of the Top Children’s Writing blogs worldwide by Master Blogs.

I’m thrilled with the award and committed to providing ongoing quality content in my posts.

If you have a writing topic you’d like to see covered, feel free to mention it in the comments section of this blog.

Thanks again everyone for your support.

Happy writing:)

Dee

ALWAYS JACK – TUESDAY WRITING TIPS WITH SUSANNE GERVAY

Most people have been toucbed by cancer in one way or another. Today author, Susanne Gervay is here to give us tips on how she wrote her incredible brave and powerful new novel, Always Jack.

When  Jack’s  mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, he realises that the things that bothered him about being part of a blended family aren’t so important after all.

Always Jack is an extraordinary story about ordinary people going through a difficult time in their lives – about an illness that puts their family unit to the test.

Author Susanne Gervay, draws on her own experiences of surviving cancer and Always Jack is a story told from the heart.

Susanne is on the board of the NSW Writers Centre holding the youth portfolio, Chair of The Sydney Children’s Writers & Illustrators Network at The Hughenden, co-head of Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Australia & New Zealand,  and has been awarded The Lady Cutler Award for Distinguished Services to Children’s Literature and aProfessional Achievement Award for Literature from University of Technology Sydney

HERE ARE SUSANNE’S WRITING TIPS

1. Know your characters:-

Writing Always Jack, I began with the wonderful characters from I AM JACK & SUPER JACK.  I know them so well and love them. They jump onto the page with all their particular characteristics.

2. Write about what you know and feel:-

I assessed my own experiences going through breast cancer and they drove Always Jack.

3. Research:-

Research is important to give credibility to what you are writing. The Cancer Council and the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre contributed their medical advice and this was essential for the integrity of Always Jack.

4. The theme needs to mean something to you:-

Always Jack is about giving kids and community a voice when a parent faces cancer, to support, celebrate and commemorate.

5. I let the story surprise me:-

Life intervenes and slots into Always Jack. I just came back from speaking at the World Burn Congress and was on the faculty with Kim Phoc – the 9 year old Vietnamese girl running from napalm in Nick ut;s 1972 photo. Kim Phoc and the Vietnamese War experience slipped into Always Jack with Christopher the Vientamese boy becoming Jack’s great friend..

6. Laugh and Cry:-

I laughed and cried as I wrote Always Jack, exposing the emotional ride of life and myself.

Thanks so much Susanne for visiting DeeScribe writing with your fabulous tips. I know that so many people’s hearts and lives will be touched by your wonderful new book, Always Jack, just as i was.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has other tips to share about writing from real life experiences. Please feel free to leave your tips, questions and responses in the comments section of this post.

Dee:-)

HOW ART AND RECYCLING BROUGHT A COMMUNITY TOGETHER

Being on the Arts Advisory Committee of our local shire means that I get to learn about, and be involved in all sorts of fantastic community arts projects. Last year I worked with a group of local authors to produce an anthology of stories written by them about how they had moved on from a difficult experience in their life.

Yesterday, I was at the opening of another amazing community arts project. Over the last few months, talented local artist, Woody Taylor has worked with the townspeople of Darraweit Guim, about 60 kilometres from Melbourne to produce an amazing transformation to a strip of land at the local hall that had lain in waste for years. The idea for the Metal Art Garden came from the local War Memorial Hall committee, who felt that maintaining a large garden in the current climate was not viable and decided to opt for sculptures instead of live vegetation.

The Hon Peter Batchelor, Minister for the Arts opened the Metal Sculpture Garden

Over nine workshops and countless hours, the artists transformed the wasteland into a metal sculpture garden with everything from metal Banksias and emus to crocodiles, a triffid, bugs, weeping trees and even Ned Kelly.

On Sunday, a large crowd gathered in the sunshine to admire the artist’s handiwork and see the garden opened by Minister for the Arts, The Hon Peter Batchelor.

There is so much to marvel at in the Darraweit Guim Sculpture Garden project. The fact that the project uncovered some new artistic talent, that the community came together in a spirit of cooperation and determination to complete the project, and that so much was achieved with so little funding.

Most of the materials came from scrap metal donated by local homeowners and recovered from the sheds of farmers. Around 60 rusty spanners were used and countless cogs, shovels and various other extraneous farming implements. The Darraweit Guim Sculpture Garden is a an example of recycling at its best.

Amazing what artistic talent, hard work and community spirit can achieve.