Authors for Farmers: 100 Books for $100,000. Final List of Books.

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I’m setting the bar stupendously high and aiming for $100,000 for our farmers. Think we can do it? We’ll never know if we don’t try!

Get your tickets here!

Here is the final list of books in the prize pool:

Josephine Moon Three Gold Coins + The Chocolate Promise
Nick Earls Analogue Men
Monica McInerney Trio of Quinlan novels: The Alphabet Sisters, Lola’s Secret, Trip of a Lifetime, signed
Rachael Johns Talk of the Town + The Greatest Gift
Katherine Howell Web of Deceit (US hardback), signed
Nicki Edwards The Peppercorn Project
Liz Byrski A Month of Sundays
Karen Viggers The Lightkeeper’s Wife
Michael Trant Ridgeview Station
Louise Allen The Sister’s Song
Annie Seaton Come Back to Me + Her Outback Playboy
Sandie Docker The Kookaburra Café
Eleanor Limprecht The Passengers
Nene Davies Distance
Aoiffe Clifford All These Perfect Strangers + Second Sight
Elise McCune Castle of Dreams
Monique Mulligan Writing the Dream
S.D. Wasley The Seventh
Emily Madden The Lost Pearl
Pamela Cook Close to Home + The Crossroads
Tess Woods Beautiful Messy Love
Fiona Palmer Sisters and Brothers, Secrets Between friends, The Road Home, The Family Secret & The Saddler Boys, The Family Farm
Vanessa Carnevale The Florentine Bridge + The Memories that Make Us
Christine Wells The Juliet Code
Love Sabre (Kristine Charles) Love Sabre Anthology
Helene McCarthy A Quiet Hero
Katie Rowney Front Page News
Louise Guy Everyday Lies
Nadia L. King Jenna’s Truth
Amanda Knight Situation Critical
Sally Hepworth The Secrets of Midwives, The Family Next Door, The Mother’s Promise, The Things We Keep
Kylie Ladd The Way Back
Susan Johnson The Landing
Elizabeth Foster Esme’s Wish
Adele Dumont No Man is an Island
Cassandra Austin All Fall Down
Jennie Jones The House at the Bottom of the Hill
Shirley Patton The Secrets We Keep
Beth Prentice Dangerous Deeds
Phillipa Nefri Clark Jasmine Sea + The Station Master’s Cottage
V.P. Colombo A Little Bite of Happiness
Laura Sams Crazy Busy Guilty
Lisa Ireland The Shape of Us
Kelly Rimmer Before I Let You Go
Melissa Schembri How to Find Your Dream Job in 21 Days
Susanne Bellamy et. al. Hearts of the Town
Anna Daniels Girl in Between
Reba A Booth Hosts of Erravilla
Jane Gillespie Journey to Me
Joanna Nell The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
Kate Forsyth Beauty in Thorns
Racel Watts Survival
Margareta Osborn Mountain Ash
Ellie O’Neal The Right Girl
Michelle Endersby Awakening Around Roses
Darry Fraser Daughter of the Murray + Where The Murray River Runs
Amanda Hampson The French Perfumer + The Yellow Villa
Maddison Michaels The Elusive Earl + The Devilish Duke
Andy Muir Something for Nothing
Claire Varley The Book of Ordinary People
Fleur McDonald Fools Gold, Suddenly One Summer, What Does a Horse Say?
S.L. Mills GOM’s Gold
Alicia Gilmore Path to the Night Sea
Melinda Terranova Bequeathed
Ben Hobson To Become a Whale
Mark Brandi Wimmera
Liane Moriarty Nine Perfect Strangers
Anita Heiss Tiddas
Kirsty Manning The Jade Lily
A.L. Tait The Book of Secrets
Benjamin Law The Family Law
Christian White The Nowhere Child
Dervla McTiernan The Ruin
Brooke Davis Lost and Found
Jessica Rowe Is This My Beautiful Life?
Sophie Laguna The Choke
Tim Winton The Shepherd’s Hut

1st prize: 75 books

2nd prize: 15 books + $30 Dymocks voucher

3rd prize: 10 books

Open to Australian postal addresses only. Books will be posted directly to the winners from the authors. Prize drawn 2 October 2018.

Updated: Authors for Farmers

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Authors for Farmers

Giant Raffle

100 Books on Offer with money going to Buy a Bale

Buy tickets here

1st prize: 75 books by Australian authors

2nd prize: 15 books by Australian authors + $30 Dymocks gift card

3rd prize: 10 books by Australian authors

BUY NOW

Authors include: Liane Moriarty, Monica McInerney, Nick Earls, Rachael Johns, Sally Hepworth, Kate Forsyth, Kelly Rimmer, Liz Byrski, Mark Brandi and so many more!

Open to Australian postal addresses only. Books will be posted directly to the winners from the authors. Prize drawn 2 October 2018.

Win Three Gold Coins in Audio

Share the love to Win! Three Gold Coins is available now as an audio book through Audible. Can you help me get it into the hands of someone who struggles to read text but would love to listen to a story? (Or indeed, if that is you, please nominate yourself!) Just tell me their name in the comments below. I have FIVE copies to give away! Winner drawn next Monday 30 April.

Books are like children: each one is different

There are many similarities with creating books and creating kids–the gestation, the labour of getting them out into the world, the letting go. And most of all, is the nurturing process, the drafts and drafts of ‘growing up’ with them, of listening to what they want to do while simultaneously trying to shape them into what you want them to do. Writers will tell you that each book’s process is different, just as every child is different. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from each of my very different (published) book babies.

The Tea Chest

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As an aspiring author who’d been rejected over one hundred times, I truly didn’t believe this book baby was going to make it out into the world. Perhaps like a mother who’d struggled to conceive and had lost so many babies along the way, I was well prepared to ‘lose’ this one too. I was shocked when this book sold, struggling to find excitement though it was something I’d wanted and worked so hard for for so long. I didn’t trust it. Fortunately, it all worked out, and it worked out far better than I could have dreamed.

But the biggest thing I learned from this book was to trust the magic. Writing a book takes discipline, sacrifice, artistry and more than a sprinkling of magic. I wrote the book I wanted to read. That was it. It was a lesson that took me twelve years and ten manuscripts to learn, but I got it. Finally.

The Chocolate Promise

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This book was written with a young baby in arms, excruciating levels of sleep deprivation, endless hours on long country roads to doctors, specialists and real estate agents as we make a difficult transition from the bush to the beach, gambling everything we had on a 115-year-old renovator’s ‘delight’, simultaneously relocating our family business to a new geographical region, with many months split between homes. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I drank so much coffee and ate so much chocolate (as research, but it doubled as caffeine too), blindly packing up my stuff to go and write for three hours at a time while a friend came to look after my young son. I never want to write a book under those circumstances again. Yet, I did it. I learned that even if a book feels like it’s going to fail, it won’t. I learned that I can make deadlines under the most crippling of circumstances. And I learned that the story always turns up. Even when I think I have no idea what I’m doing, the story has its own ideas and if I turn up at the page, it will turn up to meet me. Trust. Trust. Trust.

The Beekeeper’s Secret

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This book turned up unexpectedly. I’d been trying to write a family saga set on a coffee farm and had done heaps of research into coffee but I wasn’t getting any ‘signs’ to support that I was on the right track. So I had to sit back and say, okay, what else am I interested in. Everywhere I went, I saw bees, beekeepers and honey. I began researching bees and fell head over heels in love with them. I started to write a story (a corporate sabotage), but it wasn’t working and I had Catholic nuns in the background who were trying to wedge into the story. But they didn’t belong there. Again, I had to stop and say, ‘okay, what do you want?’ Maria Lindsey started talking and she didn’t stop. This book wrote itself so easily. Don’t get me wrong; it’s always hard work. But Maria’s voice was there every time I fired up my laptop. I trusted her, stepping outside of my comfort zone, delving into some darker places, and it all came together. With this book, I again learned to trust the story but I also learned to trust my readers. I was worried my readers would baulk at the change of direction this story took, but they didn’t. They came with me and loved it. I also learned that writing a book doesn’t have to be hard. Easy books are still good books.

Three Gold Coins

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Okay, so fourth novel in you’d have thought I’d learned a few things? Well, as previously stated, each book is different. This one was my most difficult book yet. I wrote three separate versions of this story. The final word count is around 110,000 words but I would have easily written over 220,000 in the process.

I mucked it up.

Firstly, I wrote the ‘wrong book’. I started this book in the Cotswolds in England and it was called Foxleigh’s Cheese Emporium and the novel revolved around two sisters, Lara and Sunny Foxleigh. But I got 50,000 words in (half a novel) and realised I’d written myself into a corner that I couldn’t get out of. So, I did what any sensible author would do and ran away to Tuscany 😉 While in Tuscany, I found a way to reincarnate Lara and Sunny Foxleigh into a totally new story.

Next, I mucked it up again. I started writing the story and backstory arrived. But I didn’t like the backstory and didn’t want to go there. I simply didn’t do books like that. So I constructed all sorts of plot and backstory to avoid writing what I didn’t want to write. I sent it off for an appraisal and upon reading my editor’s notes I realised my fatal flaw. I hadn’t listened to the story and I hadn’t trusted myself to write it.

I wrote a third version, one that went to difficult places, far darker than I’ve been to before. It was hard for me emotionally. I struggled. But good advisors kept encouraging me to continue and I pushed through it. I realised how much I have avoided writing about deep, deep pain because I didn’t want to feel it myself. But it was what the book needed and it is far, far stronger now than it was in the second version. It is now the story that wanted to be told from the start. I was a very, very slow learner on that one. In hindsight, I think that the commonly given advice to writers–to write what you’re most afraid of–is actually spot on. I know I am now a better, stronger writer for having gone to the place I didn’t want to go. I’m no longer afraid to go there again. This book made me grow ten-fold over what any of the previous books did.

Book Five?

What’s next? I’m pleased to say that book five is so far behaving itself! Phew! I am hoping it will be the easiest kid yet. It will be out in 2019.

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Captain Underpants

Bright. Loud. Frivalous.

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I went to see this movie for two reasons. Firstly, I have a five-year-old son, who upon hearing the very term, ‘Captain Underpants’, began to laugh and asked to see the movie. Secondly, because I once heard an interview with the creator of the novels, Dav Pilkey, and was so moved by his story that I have longed for the moment my son was old enough to enjoy Pilkey’s creations.

You see, Pilkey was a child with dyslexia and ADHD and was repeatedly sent out of class and into the hallways. The pain he experienced at school gave him a keen sense of connection and service to children and actually began volunteering with school kids straight out school himself–something very unique for an eighteen-year-old. This was a young man who had a mission, I thought. And I think the worldwide phenomenon that is his books, proves that. This is a man who gets kids.

Having said that, I haven’t read any of the Captain Underpants books (as I’m still waiting for my son to get a bit older). My review here is strictly on the movie.

Firstly, my beef with his film is the level of violence contained in it for a G-rated film. I don’t see how animated violence (torching cats, having people hit by cars (repeatedly), or machines that want to shrink your brain and turn you into a zombie) is any different to actual violence. My son climbed into my lap towards the end (the grande finale of violence) and said it was scary. Still, he did want to hang on till the end and that is the first film he has actually sat through till the credits rolled.

I think this movie is pitched at kids slightly older than five. I’m thinking 7-9 years would be a good indication, as some of the humour is mature and there is a fair amount of written text that contains jokes, if only you know how to read.

It’s over the top. It’s meant to be.

But too much violence for me (and my son).

3 stars.

 

 

 

Win The Beekeeper’s Secret

Quick competition!

I have TWO copies of The Beekeeper’s Secret paperback edition to give away, anywhere in the world! Just like this post (share if you like) and say “me please!” (Or similar) in the comments. Competition drawn on Wednesday at 7pm AEST. Good luck!

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Win ME at your book club!

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Would you like to WIN an hour with ME hosting your next book club or gathering of reader friends? Tell me in 25 words or less why you’d love me to host your book club (and which of my books you’d choose to discuss) in the comments below. Then, share this post and you’re in the running to win! It’s that easy!

Also, if you’re the winner, you and each person who attends your book club event receive a signed book plate for their copy of my book. Check out the terms and conditions on my website if you’d like more info. Entries close on 12 May. I’m so excited to be part of someone’s book club – and it may be yours! Happy posting!

(Click here for T&Cs.)

Why I Want to Write Children’s Books

Did you know I’m still an aspiring writer? Four books published and another scheduled for 2018 and I’m still in the same place as so many other writers out there: the beginning.

My heart still burns with the passion, frustration and disappointment of the unpublished writer. Why? Because I want to be a children’s author.

Right now, I have half a dozen picture book manuscripts ‘marinating’ in my hard drive, and one young readers’ (7-10 year old) 30,000-word chapter book bursting with promise to get out into the world.

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(Me with my pony Sparky, who stars as a character in my children’s writing.)

The reality of publishing is that is is difficult to cross that magic line and become “published”; and this is even more true for those of us who aspire to be children’s authors. Like so many of you out there, I too am writing, editing, sending out for review, submitting, following competitions and so on. It still doesn’t feel that long ago that I was in this position as a totally unpublished writer. The feelings are all too familiar!

It might be tempting for me to think, oh well, I already achieved the dream of being a published author and making a living from my writing, why bother chasing another one? Here’s why I am so passionate about making this dream come true.

  • Because reading as a child changed me fundamentally as a human being and made me the writer I am today.
  • Because I am a mother, and therefore I read hundreds of books to my son and I SEE him changing with every one we read.
  • And because I am a mother, it would be my greatest joy and honour to be able to cuddle up with him in bed and read to him a book that I wrote myself.
  • Because I want my son to be able to read Australian stories written by Australian authors.
  • Because in my heart I am an educator (and former English teacher), and being able to read and write is the number one skill a human being can have to empower her to change her life. And literacy begins in the laps of the parents who read to their children.
  • And finally, and probably most pressingly, because I have scores of stories and characters bumbling around in my head who are desperate to get out there into the world!

So here I am, an aspiring author, working away invisibly alongside so many other aspiring authors, wanting to write the best books I can possibly create to bring the greatest gifts to the world.

Write on!

 

Looking for opportunities to donate at Christmas? Here are my favourites.

So, speaking of the Christmas Spirit, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite charities in case you are looking for some ideas of where to spread your Christmas cheer too. I donate to these charities every time I get a royalty statement too, so thank you for supporting my books because you in turn support these charities. xx

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Kiva

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To see who’s leading the way of amazing things you can do for the world in my list, head on over to the Kiva site. These are TRULY the gifts that keep on giving. Kiva is a phenomenally life changing micro loan site. That means, your money is a loan to an enterprising individual or group and they pay it back to you in tiny amounts at a time. You can literally change people’s lives with a $25 loan that comes back to you and then… here’s the awesome thing… you can send that same $25 on to someone else! It’s incredible. We can change the world with micro loans. I’ve got tiny loans out to people in Cambodia, Senegal, Phillipines, India, Zambi and Peru. I cannot speak highly enough of this charity.

And if you ever want to feel unbelievably inspired and hopeful for the world, listen to anything Jessica Jackley (co-founder of Kiva) has said. She is one of my heroes in life and I’ll be she’ll quickly be one of yours too.

Australian Koala Foundation

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On a sad note… Koalas, our national emblem, our national disgrace.

Did you know it takes fifty (50!) trees to supply food for ONE koala for ONE year?

We are losing our koala trees through deforestation and land clearing and cannot plant them fast enough to save this much-loved, cuddly species from a wipe out. The AKF is very clear: the only way to save koalas is to legislate protection of their habitat.

As their slogan says: No tree, no me.

Twice a year I donate to AKF to buy trees for their tree planting programs, building up crucial tracts of koala networks to save our friends. If it’s too late for the wild populations, then there is always the hope that zoos will have breeding programs to repopulate our land, and if that happens, the trees that AKF are planting right now (on private land, often donated or bequeathed) will be leading the way in providing food for them.

Freedom Hill Sanctuary

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These are our sponsor cows: ‘Teddy’ is on the top and ‘Christina and Batman’ are on the bottom. Teddy is my husband’s cow and the two on the bottom are mine. Cute, aren’t they? We have a real thing for cows. (Actually, we have a real thing for everything, hence why we founded and ran a horse rescue charity for three years and now have a paddock full of horses.) This year, hubby wants to add on a pig. Getting a real live pig is the one thing I have resolutely said we can not under any circumstances get!! I love pigs, don’t get me wrong, and haven’t eaten one for twenty odd years. But everything I’ve read about pigs leads me to expect broken fences, endless ear-splitting squealing and earth destruction! I just don’t think I can cope. So anyway, that’s why sponsoring your favourite animals is a great alternative, and hence why this time next year I’ll probably be showing you a photo of ‘our pig’. 🙂

Book Drive

You’ll likely find a children’s book drive going on somewhere near you. For us, it’s run through our library system in Books 4 Kids here on the Sunshine Coast. Because kids and books just go together, don’t they? And no child should have to be without books, especially at Christmas.

 Oxfam

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“One person in three in the world lives in poverty.”

Wow, right? How lucky we are.

Oxfam’s slogan is: The power of people against poverty. They help people all around the world, including here in Australia, through industry, agriculture and businesses that provide ongoing employment, education and food resources.

And fortunately for all of us, they supply us with great Christmas decorations and gifts for everyone. We do a lot of shopping with Oxfam at this time of year. 🙂

 

So there you go! Please, go forth and be merry! xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I quit writing?

I am distressed.

Right now I feel like never writing another book. And I’ll try to explain why as simply as I can, trying to untangle the messy political drama that is about to change the entire Australian publishing industry and how it affects me personally.

The government has proposed and recommended that Australia does two things:

  1. Introduce parallel importation
  2. Drastically reduce copyright protection to just 15 years.

(You can sign the petition to tell the government you don’t want this to happen right here.)

How does parallel importation affect me and you?

  • The first point I want to make sure you know is that our contemporaries, the USA and the UK do not have parallel importation. We would be going against them. (Which doesn’t make sense, right?)
  • The next point I want to make is that New Zealand lifted their parallel importation laws and rather than seeing cheaper books their book prices have risen to approximately $37 a book.

When I was offered my first publishing deal (after a long battle of 12 years to crack into my dream career), I was lucky enough to have three publishers offer to buy The Tea Chest. The two biggest offers came from Allen & Unwin and from Penguin (now Penguin Random House). This was a painful decision. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be with either of these stellar publishing houses? In the end, I chose Allen & Unwin, in part because it is Australia’s largest wholly Australian owned publishing house, and because I was a total newbie to the scene and I had seen the merger of Penguin and Random House in Canada not long before, and I wasn’t sure what would happen if the same thing happened in Australia. (An aside, I have also published with Penguin Random House since then and still consider them a stellar publishing house.)

As it turns out, my very choice to choose Australian owned may come to hurt me after all.

Parallel importation of books is exceptionally complicated, but let me give you one example of how this might affect my publisher. Books are published by ‘territories’. Australia/New Zealand is one; the UK/Ireland is another; and the USA is another. What this means is that books sell into those territories, giving publishers the chance to make their money in their own territory, without having to compete with the whole world. It also means that they can acquire the rights to publish books from other territories. So Allen & Unwin, for example, has the rights to publish Harry Potter here in Australia. As you can imagine, that gives the company good cashflow. That cashflow and security is exactly what they use to reinvest in their Australian authors, and gives them the change to invest in (and take a financial chance on) new and emerging authors here in this country. With that guaranteed cashflow taken away? Well, let’s say that if I was an aspiring career author I would be losing a lot of hope of being published at all.

For me? I am lucky that I have a foot in the door, a good sales record and publishing track record. Still, my publisher is wholly Australian owned. It doesn’t have the backing of the multi-billion dollar publishing houses that are internationally owned to help it through the choppy waters of parallel importation.

  • Cheaper book prices for you? Not if New Zealand is any example to go by.
  • The market flooded with cheaper overseas books at the exclusion of our more costly Australian-written books? Highly likely.
  • A destruction of Australian literature? Highly likely.

How do changes to copyright affect me?

 

Right now, copyright laws in Australia are in alignment with the UK and USA, giving authors full rights over their work for the term of their life plus 50 years, which ensures that any royalties owing to their estate will go to the next generation.

The government has proposed and recommended reducing copyright laws to just 15 years, giving us the lowest copyright protection in the world.

The government claims that a book’s commercial life rarely extends past 5 years. They also claim that most authors aren’t motivated to write by making money, and those that do make money earn such an insubstantial amount that protecting their commercial rights is ridiculous.

Okay, firstly, I can name many Australian authors who are making good money from their writing–enough money to support themselves as a full time job, myself included. (And, dear government, we’re paying a lot of tax to you too.)

Secondly, even if we take that as a valid point (which it isn’t, just to be clear), what about our rights in intellectual property? What about our right as an artist to have ownership over the piece of art we created (generally spending years at a time to create)? What about our right to have our name attributed to our work 15 years after it was made?

What about my right to NOT have to stand by and watch someone take The Tea Chest and reprint it as their own work, make money from it AND put their own name to it?

What about my son’s right NOT to have to watch the same? Or to read his mother’s book at school with someone else’s name on it? How in any way, shape or form is this logical, ethical or fair?

What about my right not to have my heart broken by this insane treachery?

Does this all sound far fetched? It’s not. Do I sound panicked? I am.

So, yeah. This makes me not want to write anything again. Because I would far rather quit writing than to see my work end up in anyone’s hands to be done with as they please and have to sit by and watch helplessly while it’s torn apart.

Or perhaps, I should leave this beautiful country I call home to reside somewhere else that will give me intellectual property rights. And maybe all of our artists and thinkers will do the same, leaving Australia duller and with a shrinking identity because its voices have been stolen.

Please, Australia. Don’t let this happen.

Please, at least, sign this petition.

Thank you.