Friday, 30 October 2015

Friday Funnies: Happy Hallowe'en


Happy Hallowe'en everyone.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review: Fall by Sean Williams

Imagine finding yourself in a place that is well ... not quite like home. (A digital world, to be exact.) Imagine being there with an earlier version of yourself. Not only does this earlier version of yourself not trust you, but the two of you need to work together to save your friends. Oh, and there are people who want you dead. That's the opening premise of Fall (published as Hollowgirl outside of Australia,) the brilliant, final instalment of the Twinmaker trilogy by Sean Williams. 

I only finished reading this book a few hours ago and already it is my favourite book of the series. Seeing, well more than one, version of Clair Hill, was quite intriguing, as was meeting a pre-improvement version of Clair's other best friend Libby. Meanwhile, Q is growing up fast and Jesse remains a solid, likeable character who in many ways holds the story together. The situations are complex and action packed, and I found the complexity of the plot quite enjoyable. There are also a number of philosophical questions raised about what one might do and how they might feel if they met a past and a future version of themselves. 

Highly recommended. A solid ending to a great series. 

Thank you to Sean Williams for my copy of Fall.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Russell Proctor

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday! This week I have a great interview with Australian author Russell Proctor ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I am an Australian writer, but have also been many other things in my working life, including a lawyer, teacher, professional actor, medical project manager and even a pizza delivery boy (everyone loves to see the pizza boy!) At present I am semi-retired, tutoring school and university students in the evenings and writing during the day. My interests include hiking, astronomy and cats. I have travelled extensively throughout the world, preferring out of the way places to modern civilization, for example I’ve seen Antarctica, walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. I do not describe myself as a thrill-seeker, but certainly prefer my travels to include adventures rather than just “tourist traps”.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

I am currently producing a horror/fantasy mash-up series called The Jabberwocky Book about Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz battling supernatural forces in Edwardian London and New York. The first volume The Red King is out now from Permuted Press; the second volume, An Unkindness of Ravens, is due in December this year and the third, The Looking-Glass House, is scheduled for 2016. I enjoyed writing it, taking the characters invented by two genius writers and forming my own tale about them. The series delves heavily into bibliomancy, the relationship between character and author, and the influence of fictional literature on the real world, while at the same time being a tale of terror and end-of-the-world conflict.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

The first time I self-published. It was a science-fiction novel Days of Iron. It is about terrorism 400 years in the future, when the galaxy is ruled by a Syndicate formed after the collapse of the Internet. It was a slow process but an enjoyable one, seeing my words for the first time up in ebook form. Using CreateSapce I also published a paperback version. The book has now been taken up by Permuted Press and released. A sequel, Shepherd Moon, is hopefully out sometime next year as well. I started writing the book when I was 17 years old. It was a very different story then but after 9/11 it changed to being about terrorism and grew from there.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

Being published by a legitimate published instead of self-publishing was pretty terrific. I have nothing against self-publishing, but that feeling that someone actually liked you enough not only to want to publish the book but to offer you a contract for a series can’t be beat.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am finishing up the series about Alice and Dorothy. I have just concluded the sequel to Days of Iron. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time in order to make a start on a time travel series I’ve had in my head for a while now. I’ve also got some short stories to come out soon from a couple of anthologies and I’ll be focusing on getting some more stories out next year.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I love both, to be honest. Ebooks are handy, and I don’t have to think about what book to take with me on holidays—I just take all of them. Print books still have that appeal of being “legitimate”, if I can use that word, but are bulky and not always convenient. I read both and don’t really care about the medium. It’s the story that’s important.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I have had no experience with traditional publishers, so I can’t comment on them. Indies are good, but not always fast. I’ve had great experiences with Permuted Press but it has occasionally been a wild ride.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

My top three favourite authors are Roger Zelazny, Mervyn Peake and William Hope Hodgson. Anything by any of them. Three very different writers, different genres, different styles. But, to me, all so vary haunting and inspirational.

Links

Plato’s Cave: http://www.amazon.com/Platos-Cave-Russell-Proctor/dp/147930879X
Website: http://www.russellproctor.com

Facebook pages:

Jabberwocky Book trailer: https://youtu.be/eXVVd8UgmmU

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende's latest novel is a beautifully crafted story of a woman who has lived a surprising duel life. Alma Belasco is a wealthy woman from a much loved, well-respected and charitable family, who in her old age resides at Lark House, an unusual but charming and thoroughly progressive nursing home. As Alma attempts to matchmake Irina, a careworker at Lark House, with her wealthy but socially progressive son Seth, the pair slowly learn more about Alma and a mysterious but beautiful secret from her past. From there the author weaves seemlessly between the past and the present to tell the story of Alma's life, of her arrival in the United States before the onset of the second world war, to the events that would lead to her duel life--her role as a wife and mother with a man who can provide for her, but who feels no passion for her, and her affair with a man who can give her the love and passion that she needs.

Allende is, as always, an author who can deliver a detailed and sympathetic account of the lives of her characters. Life can sometimes be tough--and unfair--to those who come from other countries to America and Allende does not shy away from describing the problems that her characters experience--Alma who finds herself without her parents and brother, Ichimei and his family who find themselves as innocent victims of the times and Irina who is cruelly exploited by the people who are supposed to care for her the most. (And whose mother, I might add, proves herself to be a true hypocrite.) A haunting twist at the end (did Irina see what she wanted to, or was there something deeper at work,) makes The Japanese Lover memorable.

Beautiful, and sympathetically told. Recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my Advanced Reading Copy.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This tree in Flinders Street (on the edge of the plaza that winds behind the town hall) is the latest bit of Adelaide fauna to cop a yarn bombing--a tradition that was popular a few years ago, inspired by Kate Jacob's book The Friday Night Knitting club. Yarn bombing seems to be slowly going out of fashion, so it was nice to see that someone out there is keen to keep the tradition going ...

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Why I'll Never Make it as a Romance Writer

My name is Kathryn White, I am a writer and quite frankly, I am shithouse at writing romance. My qualifications are sketchy at best--I'm working class, unmarried, have an honours degree in English Literature, prefer cats over dogs and--the big one--I don't like wine. (What is it about romance writers and wine? I've never understood this.) All of which are hardly the qualifications of one who is predisposed to writing romantic fiction. (You'll notice that romance authors are nearly always married too.) And also, my characters, especially the female ones like to swear. A lot. And sometimes unnecessarily. Which makes for exceedingly bad copy for romantic fiction.

Most of the time I am cool with that. My writing is what it is--something that a librarian could possibly sort as contemporary fiction and nearly all of it independently published. And, naturally, my least commercial project is the one that consistently sells the most books. I no more feel the need to write romance than what I do to write westerns. But sometimes, it's hard not to envy romance writers, with their pages and pages of lovely, four and five star reviews on goodreads and for at least some of them, instant success at a relatively young age or through the most unlikely set of circumstances. Some books and authors are better than others, but that is true of any genre. Like speculative fiction, and anything else that has a strong following and sells a lot of books, romance can be dismissed or overlooked by readers for reasons that are very unfair and often untrue. Romance is not lesser fiction. It is just different. Different goals, different writing styles. The romance authors who get published and sell the most books are usually the ones who are genuinely passionate about their work and have both the ability and drive to create sizzling tension set against a romantic backdrop. But, for all of the romance that I have read over the years, I just cannot write it. I suck at creating likeable heroines and developing sexual tension. Comedy always slips in there somewhere, even when I don't mean it to. And the optimistic ending? Well, if I tried to write a romance it would probably end up something like this:

Angela surveyed her surroundings carefully. As usual the newsroom was a hub of activity with phones ringing and reporters hurriedly typing up the kind of stories that only a newspaper like The Oracle would print. And, of course, Ivan, the newspaper's sleazy editor had just found a reason to walk past her desk, brushing up close to her as he walked. Four years at university studying journalism and for what? So that she could end up at some gutter press, writing utter crap and nonsense about the latest celebrities, and being treated like a sex object every day by the newspaper's sleazy editor. Angela looked toward Kami, her best friend and trusted confident who was sitting at the next desk. Kami looked back at her and rolled her eyes. "I see Ivan is at it again."
"Tell me about it." Angela snorted. "What a complete fucking sleaze. I'm totally going to the union and complaining about sexual harassment. Anyway, coffee?"
Kami nodded. As journalists, both woman lived on coffee, often skipping solids in favour of a high-in-caffeine lunch. This was becoming something of a problem, as Angela had developed permanent insomnia and her hands often shook when she tried to hold a pen. She was also horribly malnourished and her doctor was concerned that he was going to develop an array of medical problems that stemmed from a lack of food and the over-stimulation of her nerves. "Fabulous." Angela climbed up from her desk. "I'll get us ..." Angela's voice trailed away as she found herself face to face with a very tall, very broad shouldered and very, very bared chested individual of the male variety. Angela felt her pulse quicken. 
"Why don't you watch where you're going?" 
A snarl came from a mouth that was just a few inches above the bare chest. 
"Why don't you watch where you're going?"
Angela felt her attraction to this individual fade away in an instant. She listened as he gave a hollow, caveman like snort and retreated to where he had come from, the next room, where a fashion shoot was taking place. "What a wanker," Angela muttered, before never speaking of, or thinking about, the individual ever again.  
 The problems with this piece are so obvious that I am not going to bother pointing them out. But it also proves that romance is not something that anyone can just churn out for the sake of making a quick back. For it to work, the author has to be passionate about their subject and dedicated enough to do it well. And that's just not me. I have other stories to tell, things that I am passionate about. And while I might read and review romance, I'm unlikely to take up writing it any time soon.





Friday, 23 October 2015

Friday Funnies: Bert


Meme says all.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

I picked up a copy of Slammed with very few expectations--I knew that it was a romance, that it was Hoovers debut novel and that it somehow incorporated poetry into the plot. In other words, I was expecting to be entertained for a couple of hours by a book that I would probably soon forget. The first couple of chapters seemed to prove me right--Slammed begins as a well, the fantasy that every teenage girl has had at one time or another about moving to a new town and instantly catching the eye of the very attractive and slightly older guy next door, who just happens to be perfect for her in every way.

And then along comes the perfect plot twist ...

No good romance is complete without some kind of stumbling block, and with Slammed, Hoover creates the perfect reason why Layken and Will cannot be together and tortures the pair of them with their mutual longing at every possible opportunity. There are plenty of other things going on as well, one major character has a parent dying of cancer, another is already the full-time carer of their younger sibling. And oh, those star crossed lovers ...

There is a lot of poetry, which although it is not quite Shakepeare is a lot of fun (wait until you read one of Layken's poems about Will,) and readers will need to have their tissues ready. This is contemporary romance at its best--readable, with lots of emotionally charged scenes, great characters, interesting situations (some of them unpredictable,) and, of course, an ending that will have you reaching for the tissues.

Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Pete Sutton

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday interview. This week I am chatting with Pete Sutton, author, one of the organisers of the Bristol Festival of Literature and editor of Far Horizons magazine ...



Tell us a bit about yourself …

I’m a relatively recent fiction writer. I spent 20 odd years writing for an RPG, eventually becoming its “creative director” – but a few years ago I felt it was time to move on. I’d been involved in the Bristol Festival of Literature (and still am) and a vague “I’d like to write a book one day” eventually became – “”I’m going to write a book” and eventually – “I’ve written a book”. I’ve found that writing the book was the ‘easy’ part!

Tell us about your most recently published book?

As well as being a writer I edit Far Horizons magazine (which has an Australian publisher) and the latest published book is a slim collection of stories from folk who were involved in the RPG I was talking about, but who are all now published writers in their own right. The book is called Former Heroes and is available from Amazon worldwide. As the title alludes to the stories are all about people, and in one case a place, that used to be considered heroes. I commissioned and edited the stories, but managed to get one of my own in there. I’m not sure if that’s bad form for an anthology or not :-)


Tell us about the first time you were published?

Here in Bristol there is a national science fiction convention, BristolCon. They, in conjunction with Wizards Tower Press put a call out for stories for a Steampunk anthology called Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. It came just about the time when I’d started trying to write short stories. I sent them my fourth ever short story (although, of course I had been writing RPG “stories” for many years – the short story form is, of course, different.) I used the call for stories as a prompt to write a story, I didn’t expect it to be published. It was my first short story sale. I’ll always be grateful to them for seeing something in the story and giving me a lot of heavy editorial help to make it publishable. That book continues to sell well and I’ve even earned royalties from that story, which is nice.
Having that editorial help at the beginning of my ‘career’ (if you can call it that yet) made a big difference and is one of the reasons why I became involved in Far Horizons. Our aim at the magazine is to take unpublished and self-published writers and give them editorial help on their short stories, to make them publishable.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

As a writer? I think it was winning a short story competition judged by Jeff VanderMeer who is an author I admire and whose tastes in stories and books have been a big inspiration. Jeff, and his wife Ann, bring out these massive short story collections and must read thousands of stories a year. To be able to write something good enough to win a competition judged by such a hugely talented and experienced writer and editor made me very proud.

You can see the story that won here: http://read.uberflip.com/i/521637-saia-june-2015

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

Where do I start? I’m writing a short story serial for Far Horizons called Tales for the Ferryman. I’m midway through a second novel whilst the first is out with publishers & agents. I’ve just taken part in a round robin for Australian Horror Story. I have stories coming out in Fossil Lake 3 & Sproutlings soon as well as a tale in The Speculative Bookshop’s forthcoming anthology. My writing group are working on a second anthology, our first – North by Southwest, was published here in Bristol by Tangent Press. We are also taking part in a Flash Fiction Slam during Bristol Festival of Literature and in something called “Sanctum.” That’s an amazing project by American Artist Theaster Gates which is a 24 hours a day for 24 days sound installation in a bombed out church in the city. I am perpetually busy, which is a good thing as a writer I think.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I’ll read anything. It’s totally situational – both have their place. I like the tactile nature of physical books, the smell of old books, instinctually knowing how much longer you have to go, the sheer artistic beauty of some books. But for travelling having a small library in my pocket can’t be beaten. When I travelled the States a few years ago e-books weren’t yet a big thing, it had just come out and the publishing industry was being a bit sniffy about it. I pretty much had to have an extra suitcase just for the books. Humping that in and out of the hire car and onto planes wasn’t fun. I’m a voracious reader and often read several books a week. Especially when I’m between writing projects (which happens less and less – but I read in between writing nowadays).

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Again I think it’s situational. With what I’ve published so far I’ve pretty much been a hybrid author, and see that continuing. Some projects need the big support system of Trad publishing, others can be brought out with nothing more than a laptop and a desire to create something. Spotting which is which is the key.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

I think every writer should read Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, as that’s the best ‘on writing’ book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot!)

For fiction? That’s a tough one, there’s so many, I’d be asking – the best book in which circumstance? I’m really bad at these sort of questions – I’m not even sure I can pin down the one book out of the hundred odd I’ve read this year that everyone should read! I have a review blog and at the end of every year list the books that get my top rating – here’s last year’s - http://bit.ly/1P2uYm3

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Hello from the other side of the world!

Links
.
@suttope

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last is a novel that starts out serious, before eventually moving toward a deliciously dark but hilarious slapstick ending--and is, perhaps, the best Atwood novel that I have ever read because of it. The novel opens with the gloom and doom of a financial crisis. Stan and Charmaine are a once middle class couple in their early thirties who have been reduced to living in their car. Then they are offered an opportunity to move to more comfortable surroundings ... but at a cost. As participants in a social experiment, Charmaine and Stan alternate, living one month inside a comfortable home and then next inside a prison. After a little while, Charmaine and Stan take a bit too much of an interest in the couple who they alternate with and soon, they discover that there are far greater and far more sinister forces at work in this social experiment ...

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel for its quirk humour and strange situations, ones that, toward the end of the novel become quirkier and funnier with every twist--I don't think that I will ever be able to look at a blue teddy bear (poor Veronica, though you really get the impression that she does not mind terribly much,) or an Elvis impersonator in quite the same way again. In some ways, it is a shocking look at what the future may hold and how ordinary people can be easily exploited by big business--Charmaine's character shows this quite clearly, and there are some parallels between parts of this novel and Ira Leving's The Stepford Wives.

Highly recommended. 

Thank you to Bloomsbury and The Reading Room for my reading/review copy.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


It's a mark! Outside the front entrance to Adelaide Oval is this statue of South Australian football legend Barrie Robran marking the ball. Robran is the only former SANFL player to be commemorated with a statue at Adelaide Oval. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Off Topic: Nightmares, Skeletons and the Humble Holden Sandman

Winky Dink.
This awesome guy/duck/puppet did not give me nightmares.
When you're a kid, the world is an unbelievably scary place. This is mostly due to it being full of people who are taller than you who expect you to unequivocally do what they say without question, regardless of how stupid their request may be. Like the time that my grandma got upset with me for not running along a busy railway platform, but then again my grandma always had little awareness and understanding of boundaries and personal safety issues. Anyway, when you're a kid, the world can be a pretty scary place. And what is even scarier is that, sometimes, you do not even have to leave your own bedroom, that supposedly safe, warm sanctuary that has the poster of a smiling Winky Dink on the wall. And while my bedroom may have been free of monsters who lived under the bed or in the wardrobe, which differed from those of some of my friends, there was another terrible, sinister force at work, ready to unleash hell and torment at any given opportunity. 

There was a skeleton, a living, breathing human skeleton, who used to tap on my bedroom window and try to get inside.

A Holden Sandman, like the one Skelly Skellington owned.
I don't quite know when the nightmares started, I probably had not even started school, but this complete bastard haunted me for a good chunk of my childhood. Initially, the skeleton just tapped on my bedroom window and tried to get inside, but after a while, the dreams became more detailed. The skeleton would pull up in our family driveway in a brown Datsun Sunny and it would go its best to get inside my bedroom. (To do what, I do not know.) As time wore on, the scenario became more and more complex. Sometime, probably about the time I was nine or ten, the skeleton had developed a full blown personality. It turned out that the skeleton was a he, his full name was Skelly Skellington and he had recently traded in his Datsun Sunny for a yellow Holden Sandman which he liked to drive around to random homes in Adelaide for the specific purpose of frightening the children who lived there. During the day, he worked as a motor mechanic at a garage in Lonsdale, so that he would have enough money to pay for petrol so that he could carry out his terrible deeds in the evening. 

But as far as my family were concerned, I was having nightmares about a skeleton who liked to randomly tap on my bedroom window. Sometimes everyone felt sorry for me, sometimes it was a bloody nuisance and there were times when my brothers (who were both a lot older than me,) used to think it was hilarious and if he was angry enough with me for something, Damien would run outside and tap on my bedroom window. Another time, Damien gave me a rock with a smiley face on it which he promised kept nightmares away, so I suppose that he did feel a bit sorry for me.

Anyway, I can still remember the last time I ever dreamed about Skelly Skellington. I was probably about eleven years old--well and truly old enough to know the difference between fact and fantasy--and I remember hearing some advice about confronting your fears. I made up my mind that next time I dreamed about Skelly, I was going to confront him. Inevitably, I had another nightmare, Skelly started his little tap and dance and ... 

I raised my middle finger.

Eight years of nightmares (or thereabouts) and all it took to get rid of my object of fear was to give it the finger. 

Skelly Skellington took one look at me, screamed and ran straight back to his Holden Sandman and drove away. I have never seen him since, though rumour has it that he has now retired and is currently living in a penthouse apartment in Flinders Street ...

Friday, 16 October 2015

Friday Funnies: Ernie the Serial Killer


A series of memes, some of them funnier than others, seem to be doing the rounds of social media, portraying Ernie from Sesame Street as a serial killer. This makes me oddly nostalgic for the late 1990s, back when Bert was considered to be the evil one ...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Moving seamlessly between the past and the present The Lake House tells the story of a child seemingly stolen from his wealthy family home in Cornwall, and that of the disgraced police officer Sadie Sparrow who, seventy years later becomes determined to solve the mystery of missing baby Theo. The mystery of Theo's disappearance is compounded by a number of family dramas--a father still suffering from the after effects of the great war, a mother and daughter who are both secretly in love with the same man and a sister who saw something that she shouldn't. Seventy years later, most of the main people in this mystery have died, though his older sister Alice is still alive and has become a beloved crime writer who is somewhat reminiscent of P.D. James. But why is Alice so coy about her first manuscript, the one that she wrote just before Theo's disappearance, and what does it have to do with her brother?

Morton knows exactly how to combine a multi-generational family saga, with drama and a great mystery and creates her characters and situations well. However, I did feel that this story lacked the magical and romantic element that I so enjoyed in some of her previous works and parts of the novel, particularly the ending, felt very abrupt, though the ideas expressed there were entirely appropriate for the story. That said, there were some wonderful parts in there--I loved the depiction of both Eleanor and Alice's childhoods, and also the story of how Eleanor and Anthony met. 

Recommended.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room for my ARC.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Louise Guy

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday post. This week, I am chatting with Louise Guy who is the author of The Crafters Club series ...



Tell us a bit about yourself …

Getting serious about writing fiction started as a seed of an idea in 2003 when I put my marketing/copy writing career on hold and my husband and I took off on a great Australian adventure. The seed continued to grow as our adventure did. Initially, one four-wheel drive, one map, one year, that was the plan. Twelve years, many thousands of kilometers, and two kids later, we are yet to return to Melbourne. Now living on Queensland's beautiful Sunshine Coast, I’m using my writing background exactly how I dreamed one day I would; writing, publishing and promoting books. I write contemporary women's fiction as well as adventure stories for children aged 6-12. When I’m not writing, you'll find me at one of my favorite haunts; the pool, the Noosa river or at the beach with the kids. When the sun goes down, I’d love to say you'd find me curled up with a glass of wine and a good book, but as anyone with young children will testify, that is part of my fantasy life, not my reality. Still, with an ever growing 'to be read' pile, I love every opportunity I get to switch on my kindle, press play on an audiobook or smell the crisp, fresh pages of a new release from a favorite author.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

The Crafters’ Club is a new series aimed at children aged 6-10. The first three titles in the series were published on 1st September 2015.
  •        Two Worlds, Book One of the Crafters’ Club Series
  •        The Villagers, Book Two of the Crafters’ Club Series
  •        Lost, Book Three of the Crafters’ Club Series.

The Crafters’ Club is an adventure series about four children who find a portal that propels them from the real worlds into the world of Minecraft. They must learn to outwit mobs, craft supplies and ultimately survive.

Tell us about the first time you were published?
The Crafters’ Club are my first published titles and my first venture into self-publishing. It has been a very steep learning curve but I am delighted to have gone through the process (except for the grey hairs) and now have the knowledge to continue down this path. The reception by bookshops, book distributors and readers to the books has been overwhelming.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

It is probably an unusual one, but I have to say, the look on my 9 year old’s face when I was introduced at his school as THE author of the Crafters’ Club books was just amazing. He was so proud and so excited to have a ‘cool’ mum. It was a better feeling than any contract or advance a publisher could throw at me (although they could try so I could have a true comparison!)
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am at varying stages of three more Crafters’ Club titles. In addition I am editing a commercial women’s fiction manuscript which I plan to pitch at GenreCon in Brisbane at the end of October.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I love eBooks and the convenience of reading on my mini-iPad. I love Borrow Box too that allows me to borrow eBooks from the library. But, for my favourite authors, I still like to purchase paperbacks and read them that way. There’s something special about a ‘real’ book these days and I tend to keep them and room on my bookshelf for my absolute favourites.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

So far my only publishing experience is Indie. I plan to submit my women’s fiction titles to traditional publishers until I have three ready to publish. (Currently have 2). If they aren’t picked up I will self-publish them to a schedule.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Hindsight by Sarah Belle. If you want to laugh out loud, cry unexpectedly and completely fall in love with the characters this is a wonderful read. It would make a fantastic movie. I read it as an eBook. Not sure if it is in paperback, it should be.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

I love Adelaide. I am hoping to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference being held in Adelaide next year (even though I don’t write romance!) – I hope to see some of you at the reader events. Although I may use the opportunity to sneak off to some of your amazing wine regions…with a good book of course!

Links
The Crafters’ club titles are available at: www.thecraftersclub.com and the facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/thecraftersclubseries

For information about my women’s fiction titles – visit www.louiseguy.com

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Review: The Wedding Season by Su Dharmapala

Culture, tradition and chick-lit come together in The Wedding Season, an occasionally bittersweet and sometimes hilarious story set in Melbourne during the Sri Lankan wedding season. Shani is thirty-two, has a successful career and is happily single, much to the disgust of her mother. But when Shani's horoscope predicts that now is the best time for marriage, her mother goes into over-drive, setting her up with one hundred different men. All of them prove to be unsuitable, some of them hilariously so, but a tragic event is to come, one which changes everything ...

Author Su Dharmapala does a commendable job of writing a story that crosses cultures and traditions and offers a sympathetic glimpse at mother-daughter relationships, as well as some other family drama. There are some truly comical moments--such as the way that the author hints that a herbal love potion intended for a different woman was responsible for bringing together actors Hugh Jackman and Deborah Lee Furness--while other parts of the story, such as what happens to Shani's best friend Amani and how that tragedy eventually changes the course of Shani's life. The moral? Despite all of our best efforts, life can be unpredictable and we cannot control what will happen to us. The ending was perfect for the subject matter.

Recommended.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


I snapped this gorgeous mosaic table at Noarlunga several weeks ago. Look closely. I think that it might be trying to tell you a story ...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Attractive Nineteen Year Old Forced to Wait in Queue Like Everyone Else

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Staff at the Dairy Fresh Ice Creamery stunned onlookers this week, when they told a young, female customer to bloody well line up and wait for her turn to be served, just like the rest of their customers were expected to. "I saw the whole thing," an onlooker, who wished only to be known as Dave told our reporter. "This stupid bimbo and her friend walked straight up to the counter and just expected to be served ahead of everyone else." 

The girl, who identified herself to our reporter as Willow Bark, a nineteen year old fashion model from Nowheresville, was unrepentant about her actions. "How was I supposed to know that there was a queue?" She asked. "I didn't see those people there, I was too busy talking on my phone." With a sigh and a pause, she then added. "They could have just served me anyway. It only takes a minute to get an ice cream and I was pointing at the flavours I wanted. And who cares about the people waiting. I mean, I'm pretty so therefore I should have been served first."

The owner of the Ice Creamery, Brenton Simpson, was unapologetic. "I think its rude when people push in," he says. "We value all of our customers and like to serve all in a timely fashion. It's not fair to make one person wait longer than other. I would just like to stress that their physical attributes have nothing to do with this."

"But I'm pretty," Ms Bark insisted, during what soon became a second confrontation between herself and Mr Simpson. "How is that fair? Don't you know that beautiful people are supposed to get preferential treatment. I'm going to put this on facebook, write a bad review on Yelp and tweet about it to all two thousand of my followers and then your career is going to be finished, Mr Simpson." After this outburst, Ms Bark then treated onlookers to a rendition of the song I Feel Pretty from West Side Story, which in turn caused a couple of the onlookers to begin their own parody song which began, "I'm not modest ..."

Mr Simpson merely shrugged at the suggestion. "I'll file your complaint with all the others," he said, before wandering back to his ice cream stand, where he then sold two chocolate ice creams to a pair of old age pensioners. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday Funnies


Still a classic Simpsons moment ...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Beautiful Liar by Tara Bond

Beautiful Liar is a rags-to-riches NA romance about a young woman who has risen some pretty tragic circumstances--first her father dies, and then her mother becomes an alcoholic--and finds herself working at one of London's most exclusive nightclubs and earning the attention of Alexander Noble, the spoiled and reckless son of the owner of the nightclub. Nina knows that she should keep away from Alex; that he is bad for her, but she cannot stay away. And while Alex may be a beautiful liar, it is other people in her life who are hiding the worst secrets of all ...

I found Beautiful Liar to be a quick, easy read that delivers everything that it promises on the cover. The ending is a bit odd for a NA romance, but it's also nice to see a heroine who is not completely swept away by her lover--I get the sense that Nina is a true survivor and a true independent woman, one who is happy to have love in her life, but wants other things as well. She is not a princess who needs saving and I found that to be quite refreshing.  The writing is simple and functional. Some of the situations are a bit cliched, though, but overall an enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Writers On Wednesday: Kellie Wallace Talks About Her Latest Historical Fiction Release

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday post. This week, I am handing the baton over to Australian author Kellie Wallace who is going to tell us about her latest novel, Her Sweetest Downfall...



Kathryn has given me the opportunity to write a small post today so I'm going to give in to some harmless self promotion. My latest release, historical fiction novel Her Sweetest Downfall gave me another chance to explore my love for the 1940's. I've written two previous books, Darkness before Dawn and Skylark in the same era, and it's a time I just fell in love with. While its hard to visualise the clothes and the environment I know its vivid in my mind and hopefully, my reader's.

Her Sweetest Downfall can be described as a forbidden love story. At the height of the London Blitz, Viola Craft, a sexually repressed young woman is trapped in a loveless marriage to her God fearing husband Vernon. She spends her days working in her mother's dress shop while Vernon pulls the dead from the rubble with his rescue crew.

Their marriage is turbulent and Viola feels pressured to bear a child. After failed attempts, Vernon believes she's barren and alienates himself from their marriage. One night during an air raid, she meets alluring German born Kristoff Richter. They make an instant connection. He's young, good looking and emphatic. They embark on an illicit affair that leads to tragic consequences.


A few years ago, I could pump out three books in one year but I found the quality wasn't substantial – at least to me. When I wrote HSD, I was going through something which hindered my writing. It took almost twelve months to write. The first draft was finished in October 2014 and it was released April 2015. Quite a quick turnaround! I felt the novel represented my ability to get over my hurdles and succeed. I'm very proud of Her Sweetest Downfall and my characters. Any author will tell you they put a little bit of themselves into every character they create. They are our babies, our creations. As I wrote the novel, I felt for Viola and her unfortunate situation. While many will believe she's a weak woman, I wrote her as a voice for any woman out there. While she tries to achieve one thing – happiness – it seems every time she gets close it, someone or something takes it away.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: The Anti Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland

Sydney based blogger Rosie Waterland's autobiography is a mix of black comedy and a no-holes-barred account of a young woman who has survived some of the worst things that life has to offer--mentally ill parents, being sexually abused by her foster carer, being abandoned by her mother and then her uncle, school bullying, a stint in a mental hospital and her eventual battles with her weight. Or, as she writes, "I officially knew that my weight had gotten out of control when I realised that I could no longer wipe my own arse." And that's the authors writing style. The book is provocative, it's funny and the author does not take herself too seriously, even when she is writing about some of the worst events of her life. And there is hope there too--Waterland now has an enviable job writing for website Mamamia and she leaves readers with a resounding message about the importance of self-acceptance. As the title suggests, after years of trying to be cool, Waterland has found greater contentment in being an anti-cool girl. And you know what? I damn well love her tips for being the anti-cool girl. 

Highly recommended. In fact ... Throw out all of your copies of Cleo and Cosmo and read The Anti Cool Girl instead. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This was part of an origami project that brightened up Rundle Mall last May. Members of the public were asked to contribute to this beautiful paper display and the result was showcased inside Rundle Mall.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Julia Venn has just one photograph of her beloved twin brother and a brand new identity as Lucy Black. She is only survivor of a horrific high school shooting where her twin brother shot her best friend, her boyfriend and many of their classmates, though she cannot remember anything about those twenty-two minutes. But things are not quite as they seem, and Julia may not be the honest and reliable teenager that she makes out to be. And when her brother's former psychiatrist comes searching for her, Julia knows that her secrets may just be about to come out ...

I felt that Damage Done was an exciting teen thriller with an unreliable (and thoroughly horrible,) narrator. Author Amanda Panich plays with her readers, drip feeding them information, before giving Julia's true nature away. Equally shocking is Julia's true relationship with her brother, though the author handles the controversial subject matter well. My only real complaint is that Julia's distant parents never quite seemed fully developed in their own right--the reasons for their neglect, and lack of understanding of their children, are never quite clear. (That fraternal twins were born hand in hand is a little of a surprise as well, but the story is set up so well, that I was easily able to suspend my disbelief.) All in all, Damage Done was an enjoyable teen thriller with an unlikely and delightfully unpleasant heroine.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Someone Thinks Vegemite is Racist. Well, So What?

An American woman thinks that Vegemite is racist. In a short YouTube video, and in a provocative blog post which has no sources to back up her claims, twenty year old Cassidy Boon berates Australian's for being racist and declares that Vegemite is racist against Indigenous Australians because the popular spread is black. In her blog, Ms Boon makes a number of claims about Australia, the underlying message being that she thinks that Australians, and their iconic spread, are fundamentally racist. 

Well, so what?

Since Cassidy Boon shared her video and blog, the whole thing has gone viral and hundreds of bored and patriotic Australians have become outraged by her claims. The big question is why anyone even cares about this. We live in an age where anyone can share an opinion about anything on the internet. There is nothing to stop someone writing a blog about racist potatoes, or the secret, subliminal slut shaming qualities of peanut paste. There is also plenty of scope for misrepresentation, and trolls.

And the latter is exactly what Cassidy Boon is.

A poor attempt at satire, Cassidy Boon, a troll who often posts sensational posts about a variety of topics--in fact Snopes recently published this regarding a post by Cassidy Boon where she was claiming to be suing the man who rescued her from drowning, and exposed her as a straw feminist. That's Nonsense has their own section devoted to Cassidy Boon.

Why do we even pay attention to this? Is it because Cassidy Boon plays on our fears, that of being unfairly accused of being racist? Australians seem to have an inherit fear of what the rest of the world thinks of us, to the point where one person on the internet can have us questioning an iconic spread. I don't know who is responsible for Cassidy Boon, but he or she must be pissing themselves laughing when they read some of the comments from patriotic Australians on the post.

Whether or not you believe Cassidy Boon is a real person, maybe its time more people asked themselves if everything they read on the internet is worth paying attention to. Just because someone posts an opinion online does not mean that that persons opinion is smart, important or even worth paying attention to. And most of the time, even when it is meant to be a joke, it just isn't funny. Let it go.




Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday Funnies: The Truth About Road Runner


Found this meme and it gave me a giggle. Hope you like it, sorry to all the folks out there who are offended by all the swearing!

PS Road Runner actually says "Meep, meep!" not "Beep, beep!"

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review: Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander

There is no doubt in my mind that Tom Houghton is a book that is going to touch the hearts of many, many readers. Told in duel narratives--one featuring forty year old Tom Houghton and another featuring Tom Houghton at age twelve--this is a novel about bullying and self acceptance. The young Tom is naive, book smart and often bullied. Life is tough living in the suburbs of Sydney, especially for kids who are a bit different. Tom finds solace in old Hollywood movies and a possible connection between himself and actress Katherine Hepburn, which, along with a little self-deception, he uses to create a new identity for himself. Meanwhile, the forty year old version of Tom Houghton, who has gone on to be an actor, is well, something of a bastard. He's the kind of guy who pushes away all the people who care about him--his lovers, his friends, his family and even his daughter. This book speaks very much of how we are shaped by the experiences that we have (or must endure,) when we are young and, particularly, how childhood bullying can have an impact on the victim even many, many years after it happened. 

This book has so many wonderful, positive selling points, that I am sorry to report that I did not enjoy reading it more--I think it is one that I may have to pick up and read again at some stage, as the book left me feeling quite emotional at various stages. I have to admit that I was satisfied by the ending, though, so author Todd Alexander is partially forgiven for leaving me an emotional wreck. (Damn you!) I am certain that there are many readers out there who will love this book, however, so I have no qualms about recommending it to others.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.