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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Short Story Competiton

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 20, 2012

The New Zealand Writers College short story competition is open to both NZ and OZ writers (who have had less than 4 short stories published). Winning or placing in competitions is a good way to establish your writing credentials.

The theme is: Full Circle.

See here for details.

It is a very reasonable first prize ($1000).  You can see archived winning entries here.

(With thanks to Sonny Whitelaw, (writer of Stargate books among other things), for bringing this to my attention).

 

 

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Posted in Creativity, Literary Competitions, Nourish the Writer, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Calling writers of childrens and young adults books

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on May 15, 2012

Text Publishing have opened their Children and Young Adults Writing Competition again. See here for details.

‘Both published and unpublished writers of all ages are eligible to enter with works of fiction or non-fiction. Judged by a panel of editors from Text Publishing, the winner will receive a publishing contract with Text and a $10,000 advance against royalties.’

You can see the 2008, 2009, 2010 winners to get an idea. It closes June 1st, so set yourself a deadline and submit.

Posted in Creativity, Writing for children, Writing for Young Adults, Writing goals, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Richard and Trent at Gold Coast Supanova

Posted by richardharland on April 18, 2012

(Richard writes) I’ve been a hermit lately – a very productive hermit, finishing the next novel. (Steampunk, of course – same world as the juggernaut books, but a different time and different characters.) Now I’m going to get out and about again – starting this weekend with Supanova on the Gold Coast. I’ve been invited as a guest, and so has fellow-RORee, Trent Jamison. It’ll be great to catch up, Trent – seems a long long time since we met outside of cyberspace.

Michael Pryor and I will be doing a joint presentation on – of course – Steampunk! (Sunday at 3.15) Costumes and videoclips and readings and all sorts of wonderful things are guaranteed! Trent – if I can speak for you – I see you’re on at 2.40 Saturday with Kylie Chan, talking about Storytellin.

I’m really looking forward to it because I’ve never attended a Supanova before – but I hear the buzz is fantastic. I’ve just found an image of the hotel where I’ll be staying, the Hilton at Surfers –


How about that? I just hope it doesn’t topple over between now and Friday night.
Supanova itself is in the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre at Broadbeach. The authors’ gang includes Keri Arthur, Bevan McGuinness, Brandon Sanderson (the American author who’s continuing Robert Howard’s series) and, I think, Alison Croggan, as well as Trent, Michael and myself. The media stars are even more dazzling, but still, that’s quite a show of authors. It’s going to be grrrrreat!

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Authors and Public Speaking, Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Angry Robot open their doors again!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 26, 2012

If you have an epic fantasy, or sf and fantasy in all flavours for the YA reader, then you may want to submit.

Full instructions are here.

Time frame is April 16th to 30th, 2012.

Best of luck!

Posted in Creativity, Editors, Pitching, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Query Letter and Synopsis, Writing for Young Adults, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Double Book Launch

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 25, 2012

Anyone going to be in Tassie on Thursday 2nd of Feb?

We’re pleased to spread the news that Margo Lanagan will now be joining us on February 2nd for a launch of her new book, Sea Hearts. Margo and Tansy Rayner Roberts will share the evening, making it a very exciting double launch for us — don’t miss it!
Thursday February 2nd
5:30pm
The Hobart Bookshop*
Rowena Cory Daniells will launch Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
This is the final book in Rayner-Roberts’ The Creature Court trilogy.
Richard Harland will launch Margo Lanagan‘s Sea Hearts — an an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.
 
So if you happen to be around, drop into the Hobart Bookshop and toast to Tansy and Margo’s new books!
*The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
P 03 6223 1803 . F 03 6223 1804
hobooks@ozemail.com.au
www.hobartbookshop.com.au

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Authors and Public Speaking, Book Launches, Covers, Creativity, Fantasy Genre, Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book, Publishers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Raring to ROR…

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 18, 2012

As some of you might know our ROR writing group gets together every 12 – 18 months to critique our books in progress.

Back in 2001 at the first ROR we read Margo Lanagan’s Black Juice anthology and wept over Singing my Sister Down, which went on to win a World Fantasy Award. That was also the year we read Maxine Mc Arthur’s Less than Human, which went on to win the Aurealis Award for SF in 2004.

Since then there have been many RORs, and critiqued many books. Some of these books have been shelved or are still waiting to be completed and others  have been published, some of have won awards or been shortlisted for awards. (This reminds me I must update our success page. There’s been more sales since then. My bad).

For those of you who are interested, I’ve blogged about how to set up your own ROR group and how we critique. There are eight of us, but due to life, family and deadlines we don’t get to every ROR. (I’ve done them all so far, but I’m a bit of a ROR groupie. I even maintain this site in my spare time. All very sad, really).

Our next ROR is coming up in a couple of weeks. Having a deadline to get a book written for is a great motivator. We’re all madly reading each other’s WIPs (Works-in-progress), writing reports and planning to run away and be full time writers for a week!

There will be one book launch and possibly two, stay tuned!

From the Steele's Island web page. Link below.

This time we’re going to Tassie to Steele’s Island. Looks perfect for a bunch of nerdy writers!

So I’d like to raise a glass of cyber champagne to:

My writing friends, ROR ten years* on and still going strong!

* We couldn’t squeeze in a ROR last year in 2011, which would have been exactly 10 years, so this 2012 ROR is our official 10 year birthday bash.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Awards, Book Launches, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Plotting, Writing Craft, Writing goals, Writing Groups | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Calling Short Story Writers…

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 17, 2012

Thanks to the inimitable Kylie Griffin for this tip.

Fantasy Faction are running a short story competition with prizes and places in an anthology. (More info here and rules here). I can’t see anything in the rules about limiting it to UK citizens.  They say:

There are 6 publication places up for grabs with cash prizes for our favourite three.

First – $500

Second – $250

Third – $100

There’s no entry fee and they are offering feedback if you want to pay for it (entry-plus). They’ll be accepting stories from February first through to June 30 2012.

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Is that a door opening or are you just pleased to see me?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 7, 2012

Lyn and Lee Battersby, Photo Courtesy Cat Sparks

Back in March 2011, Angry Robot Books, a UK-based publisher that generally only accepts agented submissions, held their first Open Submission Month, an experiment to see whether there were any unrepresented gems floating around the submitosphere that might be of interest.

In one month, they received 994 submissions. Mine was amongst them.

I’d had a somewhat frustrating time when it came to novels. I’d established a pretty solid reputation as a short story writer, at least on an Australian level: I’d sold a bunch of stories in Australia, the US and Europe, won a handful of local awards, and even had a collection published through an American small press. My reputation had been parlayed into teaching and mentoring stints at various industry associations, and I was pretty confident that, when it came to short stories, I knew what I was doing more often than not.

But therein lay the rub. Increasingly, I was confronted by the feeling that my career, such as it was, had reached a cross roads. I could continue to do what I was doing, and do it well enough, and accept that I had reached a natural level I was incapable of exceeding. But I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a long time, one that demands I at least move towards a full time career in writing, if not actually achieve one. To do that, I needed to sell novels.

I’d come close with my first attempt, which I’d sent to 68 agents the previous year. One had picked it up, but we parted ways after she was unable to place it and didn’t like my second novel. No blood, no foul, and we separated on good terms. That second novel, an anti-fantasy romp entitled The Corpse-Rat King, was the one I sent to Angry Robot.

The deal was simple. Supplicants were invited to submit the first 5 chapters, or 10 000 words, of their novel, along with a synopses. A team of readers would plough through them, and ask to see the full manuscript of anything they believed merited further examination. Should that full manuscript be considered suitable, it would be passed upwards to editing bwana Lee A Harris. If it rocked Lee’s socks, he would take it to the editorial board and make a case for its purchase. Should the editorial board be persuaded then, and only then, would a contract be prepared and Angry Robot Shangri-La be achieved.

No guarantees, but then, only death and taxes and all that (and thanks to superhero comics and Christopher Skase, even they’re not absolutes).

So I submitted my synopses and five, and got on with other things. One of those other things was to continue my pursuit of an agent. I’ve always felt I needed an agent as part of my long-term strategy: whilst I want to write and conduct business to my own benefit, I’m aware of my weaknesses, and time-management is amongst them. An agent could take up much of the slack and apply much greater knowledge than I possess in terms of publishing law, contract negotiations and the like. Not only would I not have to do these things myself, I wouldn’t have to devote the time necessary towards gaining an intimate knowledge of them. I can take care of the creative stuff myself, but a business partner was always going to be a necessary component of building “Battersby, Inc.”

So, while I waited, the novel went out to 58 unsuspecting literary agents. And I got on with other things. Thankfully, I’ve got a lot of good friends who are experienced novelists. I’d been well informed: the novel game is a waiting game. Keep busy, keep working. I was tutoring an online course, and my day job is in the arts, and if you’ve met my family, well… occasionally I slept, and I could just about recite the Monarch Song from Horrible Histories off by heart. Most importantly, I started work on a new novel: Father Muerte & The Divine, a lengthier exploration of the character I’d created in several short stories, and a chance to finally answer many of the mysteries I’d raised in them. I kept busy, and tried not to watch the calendar.

Then word came from Angry Robot. The first reading round was complete. I’d passed. Now they wanted the whole manuscript. I sent it off. Word started filtering back from agents: rejection after dismissal after non-interest. Line after line on my spreadsheet was coloured in appropriately gloomy shades of grey.

I got on with other things.

Four months after submitting, I received a positive response from an agent. Then another. And a third. All liked the book. All were interested in representing it. I hadn’t mentioned Angry Robot. This was all about the book itself. Things looked positive.

Five months after submitting, word from Angry Robot: ‘my’ reader loved the full manuscript, and had passed it on to Bwana Lee. If he liked it, it would go to the publishing board. I’d passed again.

I compared agents, and came to a decision. And got on with other things

Father Muerte & The Divine hit 50 000 words. I joined The Angry Robot Waiting Club, a social forum on the Absolute Write forum boards devoted to the 22 authors who had gone right the way up to editorial and were now just waiting to find out if we were going to take the short, final hop from ‘aspiring’ to published novelist. We waited, together. I could recite all the way up to George IV.

October 26. Almost seven months to the day since I submitted my little package, and Bwana Lee sent me an email.

I’d made it. All the way through. A contract offer was, well, offered. As soon as I signed it and returned it to them, I would officially be an Angry Robot author.

Just one final thing to do: I forwarded the offer to my new agent, Richard Henshaw of the Henshaw Group. And got on with other things.  I was right the way up to Victoria, now.

The contract went back. It went forth. It went back again. For six weeks, Richard and Lee negotiated. Angry Robot announced the first two Open Door month authors. One as even called Lee, damn it! Negotiations continued. I waited. My wife and kids began to comment openly about my crankiness.

They say most people drown in sight of shore.

And then it was all over, so quickly it took me two days after I was announced before I got myself together enough to make my own proclamation. The final contract arrived in my inbox, I signed and emailed it back, and my mug was up on the Angry Robot website in less than 18 hours. The Corpse-Rat King will be published in 2012. A sequel, Marching Dead, will follow in 2013.

All of a sudden, after nine months, I was an author with an agent, a two-book deal, and a deadline.

Nine months after submitting my package on the last day of the Open Door month, the landscape of my career has changed completely. Far from hoping for an opportunity, I’m in the position of making the most of one. For the first time in a decade, I’m heading into uncharted career territory. I have a sequel to write, and I need to make sure I’ve got novels to follow after it, so that my second book isn’t my last. I need to build a relationship with my agent, and provide him with materiel with which to approach publishers. The door may be open, but the next few years will determine whether it’s at the front or just the workman’s entrance in the alleyway round the side.

Father Muerte and the Divine, 55 000 words old, has been put aside. 25 000 words of Marching Dead have already been written, as of penning this post.  Still, at least I know what I’ll be doing most evenings for the next three years…

(Departs, singing): William, William, Henry, Stephen, Henry, Richard, John, oi! Henry, Ed, Ed, Ed, Rich two, then three more Henrys join our song….

BIO: Lee is the author of over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets as “Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror”, “Year’s Best Australian SF & F”, and “Writers of the Future”. A collection of his work, entitled “Through Soft Air” from Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week “Writing the SF Short Story” course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australia Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs. He lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as Arts Officer for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good. More information, and infinitely more lies, can be found at his website or his long-running blog The Battersblog.

 

 

Posted in Agents, Australian Spec Fic Scene, Contracts, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Editors, Nourish the Writer, Pitching, Plotting, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Query Letter and Synopsis, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Terry Pratchett First Novel Award 2012

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 2, 2012

Calling all unpublished writers…

THE TERRY PRATCHETT ANYWHERE BUT HERE, ANYWHEN BUT NOW FIRST NOVEL AWARD

‘Sir Terry Pratchett had this to say:

Anywhere but here, anywhen but now. Which means we are after stories set on Earth, although it may be an Earth that might have been, or might yet be, one that has gone down a different leg of the famous trousers of time (see the illustration in almost every book about quantum theory).’

All the competition terms and conditions are available at the above link. Best of luck!

 

Posted in Creativity, Literary Competitions, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sean the Blogonaut on Writers, Reviewing and Websites

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on December 11, 2011

Rowena has very kindly invited me to discuss how reviewers find an author via their web presence, what they look for on author web sites and finally, what they look for in a book.

Who is Sean and why should I listen to him?

Good question.  I am a teacher, a book blogger, interviewer and a reviewer.  I have been focussing on speculative fiction for the past year but I have had a life long interest in reading and authors. I review for traditional publishers, small press and conduct audio interviews for Galactic Chat. Now I’m wary of self proclaimed experts so I won’t pretend to be one.  I can only let you know how I get to know of authors and their works.

Getting noticed

Cory Doctorow is fond of quoting Tim O’Reilly, “the big problem [for Authors] isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity”.  I think it’s always been an issue for authors.  It’s just been compounded with the ease of self publishing.

So what follows are some tips for getting someone like me to notice you as a writer and become an honest advocate of your work. I say advocate here because I don’ see myself fitting into that role of an academic, critical reviewer (which isn’t to say I won’t offer constructive criticism).  I like finding good talent and letting likeminded people know about it.

Traditional publishers generally do a good job of getting you reviewed, or setting up interviews etcetera. In my experience though, social media and the use of the blogging/internet community is something they are just starting to come to grips with, often trying to seize it as a marketing opportunity, which runs against the grain of the egalitarian book blogging community.  In my opinion social media outreach and community engagement with your readers is probably best done by the author. So without further ado here are my information conduits:

Podcasts – Book people talking about the books they love.  I owe most of my recent purchases to listening to shows like The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia and The Writer and The Critic. If there’s not a podcast that services your genre, consider starting one.  If you can, get a mention or even a guest appearance on podcasts by engaging in some of the activities below.

Twitter – is probably my best source of information on what authors are doing and saying.  A note here though, Twitter is a social media platform – engage with people. Don’t market your book at them (or do so with subtlety).  These are people not customers (yet).

Websites and Blogs – have a web presence, a free blog or a self hosted site with an RSS feed.  Have a place where you can talk about your book, yourself and your interests. If I like hanging out discussing things on your blog, I’ll tell others and I’ll link to your blog when you have news.

Goodreads– Get on Goodreads at least as a reader but preferably as an author as well.  I have other readers who I respect and who I know have similar tastes to me.  I’m informed of what books they are reading and what they think about these books.  Make it easy for us to find you there.

None of these are a guarantee and I have missed out some avenues that I don’t use.  The point though is to generate multiple pathways to your work, for you to grow a network honestly and organically.

Combine this approach with the works and networks of others and you have a web of mutually supportive connections that will nourish you.

Excellent examples of this approach are the ROR blog, and the various web incarnations of Marianne de Pierres. Watch how authors like Rowena, Marianne and publishers like Alisa Krasnostein contribute to a “rising tide that floats all boats”.

It’s not all work either.  I promote my writing on twitter (it’s my biggest source of site visits) but I also spend time just conversing with people socially.  All of the above activities require some effort but they also provide something in return.

But, “protect the work”.  No good having a web presence without work to promote.

What you can do to help?

Everyone is busy.  I know you have just spent the better part of two years getting a book to print, not to mention the carcases of other works abandoned on the journey, but here some things you can do to make it easy for people to sing your praises.

  1. Have a Press Kit, a page including a bio and jpegs of you and your works that bloggers can use in their posts.
  1. Collect links to interviews written and audio on your blog/website in one central location. When I research an author for an interview I listen and read all the other interviews they have done so that I don’t end up going over old ground.  I want to ask the author engaging questions that make the experience a new one for them as well as the listener.
  1. Social media buttons, Twitter, Facebook, and Google + make it easy for people to keep track of your pronouncements.  I don’t use browser bookmarks any more, I ‘m hooked up to RSS feeds & social media updates.
  1. Use commenting systems that allow users to be notified of new comments – anything that contributes to a community building up around your blog (my recommendation is Intense Debate).

So now that I have noticed you?  What do I look for in a book?

Book reviewers, whether we are semi professional bloggers or newspaper columnists are grizzled veterans.  We have seen it all before and we can be a hard crowd to please.  The craft side of the equation is up to you, it’s something you develop only by doing, but here are some things that I look out for when reading.

Characters: You get me interested and caring about the characters and the premise of you novel/story almost doesn’t matter.  Stephen King did this for me in 11.22.63. I couldn’t have cared less about the plan to save President Kennedy, I wanted the guy and the girl to get together and live happily ever after.  As a reviewer I’m looking for “real” characters, whether they are orbiting Titan or defending Helms Deep. I want drama and tension and a little romance.

Originality or a new angle: reading lots of work within a genre really opens your eyes to how crowded with ideas it is. So to get yourself noticed, you have to come up with a fresh angle or something original. Trent Jamieson’s Death Works series is a good example of a fresh take on a number of horror/fantasy staples.  You have a world that blends mythology, both Classical and Christian, an Australian location, demon possessed zombies, the Grim Reaper and a garnish of self deprecating Aussie humour.

Pacing: for genre fiction you need the novel to be well paced.  This can be a steady rhythm or a white knuckle ride. You don’t want to give the reader a chance to put it down because, let’s face it, you are competing against visual mediums and other less taxing forms of entertainment.

An example of excellent pacing in a fantasy setting is Rowena’s King Rolen’s Kin; I’ve mentioned a couple of times that she should try her hand at a techno-thriller.  A well paced novel helps the words disappear, immerses us in the story, page count ceases to matter. If you can make me as a reviewer forget that there’s another 300 pages to go I will be eternally thankful.

Emotional engagement:  I have a rule that I generally only give five stars to books that get under my skin to the point where I have an emotional experience.  To some extent this last point arises out of a combination of those above.  Without well developed, believable characters you can’t form an emotional tie, and a book that languishes in the minutiae of a relationship never moving forward will bore the reader.

I read and reviewed Quentin Jardine’s The Loner early this year, presented as a faux biography – the pacing was steady, and the characters interesting and real.  It was outside my reading preferences, a tale of a sportsman turned journalist.  In the last 30 pages though, it gutted me emotionally, I felt physically ill due to empathy with the main character.  Jardine had made those characters so believable and real that I experienced physical symptoms.

It’s rare to get all of these, or all of them in equal measure.  And there’s some I am probably missing.  But that’s not necessary for entertainment.  And truth be told, reviewers aren’t all cut from the same cloth so even a couple of these will get your work talked about.

If you can make a book blogger or a reviewer a fan, then you have a genuine and honest promoter of your work.  You may have noticed that I have mentioned writers associated with ROR, it’s not some cosy little in group referencing.  I sing their praises when I blog and when I teach because they stick in my head.

It’s fairly easy to tell when someone is promoting for the sake of getting a reward.  You want honest advocates of your work and if you can manage to do that you have an honest and organic support team at your disposal that you don’t have to pay.

I have given you some insight into my approach to reviewing and book blogging. Hopefully you can take something away from it.   Perhaps, in the spirit of community you’d like to discus your own experiences and opinions in the comments.

For instance what has been your experience with reviewers? Do you have some you trust to recommend books? Has your book been reviewed in such a way that left you gnashing your teeth?

Follow Sean on Twitter: @SeandBlogonaut

See the Austral-Asian Spec Fic. Daily

(Look out for the article next week on this site and how useful it is for writers).

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Characterisation, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Plotting, Promoting your Book, Reviews, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »