It is with great delight that I can join in with the book release day blitz for my lovely friend and editing partner, Rebecca Carpenter! BUTTERFLY BLOOD is the sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES and it is absolutely stunning. Such a thrilling, devastating, heart-pounding, non-stop ride with so many twists, turns, and surprises. Readers have been calling this series unique and nothing like any other YA novel they've ever read. AND THEY ARE NOT WRONG. Be sure to get BUTTERFLY BONES free right now and BUTTERFLY BLOOD for only 99c on Kindle. These sales won't run for much longer.
Hello! Welcome back to the blog, and today I have some valuable information for all those writing novels. I recently asked the following question on Twitter:
Of course, before reading on for a selection of the answers I received, it's important to remember just how wonderfully subjective this industry is -- which yes, in my opinion is as positive a thing as it is negative -- so understanding why readers stop reading books can be analysed as much or as little as suits. You can see in my question that I didn't specify audience or genre, so if I were to delve deeper into each, I am sure the answers given would shift and vary dependent on expectation.
But, that aside, I find a lot of valuable info in the reasons that come straight from the mouths of readers, and in this case, I'm sure you'll notice two reasons that are raised consistently.
NB: There are 32 answers in this slideshow.
So, there we have it. I hope you noted how flat characters and slow starts both cropped up frequently. I hope these answers help as you move forward with your writing. Feel free to leave your reasons for ditching a book in the comments below.
And be sure to come back next week when I share with you the results of a variety of polls I set up related to reader preferences. It's super informative!
Yeah! I'm back and delighted to welcome Niki Lenz to the blog. Past Pitch Wars mentor, middle grade author, and all around lovely person, Niki answered some of my questions to find out where it all began and how she reached the title of published author.
Check it out!
When you're a Buttman, the label bully comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there's one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it's a true friend.
After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it's hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve...
Bernice Buttman is tough, and she is crass. But if you let her in, she'll serve up some laughs, a lesson or two about empathy, and plenty of cheese balls in this delightful debut.
Where did Niki Lenz - author begin?
Well, I have always been an avid reader, and when my babies were born I started blogging about our adventures. I always got comments like, "You have such a funny way of telling a story!" and "Oh my gosh, you make the dumbest incidents seem like a whole thing..." And so, while my children took naps, I sat at my computer and told myself stories. I remember Googling, "How to be a published author" and "How to write a book." And in those (somewhat futile) Google searches I found out about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and thought I would try it, just to see if I could. My first outline was just a list of ten things I thought could maybe happen. Oy.
What's one of the first things you ever wrote?
The first full novel I wrote was a dark and twisty YA set in an insane asylum in the 1920s. Not exactly on brand for me! I tried writing middle grade a few books later and fell in love with the freedom, honesty, and humor there and never looked back.
Did you share it with anyone - what did they say?
Yes, I made a bunch of my friends read it. They were all very supportive, but it makes me cringe now, ten novels later, that they saw my first attempt. I'd like to think I've gotten better since then!
Do you have a day job? Can you tell me about how you balance that and all the other arms of life with writing?
I do have a day job now that both of my kids are in elementary school. I am a substitute teacher. I love getting to interact with kids, plug my books, and help teach writing! And, bonus, no after school meetings to attend! I taught kindergarten for six years before I had children, so it is nice to be back in the classroom but on my own terms. I usually only sub three days a week and try to squeeze author stuff in on the other two days.
What did you do to hone your craft?
Well, some valuable advice I got when I Googled "How to be a published author" was to watch what real authors did and then do that. So I did! I joined a writer's group at the library. I signed up for SCBWI and went to my first regional conference. I read the entire "writing" section at the library. Basically, I was in full on "Fake it til you make it" mode!
What steps have you taken to grow as a writer?
The very very best thing anyone can do to become a better writer is to get some CPs who are better than you. I am serious. My CP, Jennie, is amazing and insightful and she reads all my terrible first drafts and I love her to pieces. But don't just stop at one! Keep switching manuscripts with as many people as possible, because you will learn new things each time.
Have you a team of cheerleaders behind you?
My family is super supportive of me. My husband worked hard to pay for laptops and memberships and conferences when publication was such a long shot. I will be forever grateful to him for that. My kids think it's really cool to have a mom who is an author. And they all work extra hard at staying out of my hair when I am on deadline, so that is immensely helpful.
When did you make the decision to pursue publication?
I went to my very first SCBWI conference in the middle of drafting that first novel, and I knew I was going to query it, at least for practice. I remember hearing statistics at the conference about how hard it is to get your work published, and instead of being discouraged I thought, "Why not me, though? I mean, they have to publish somebody..."
Can you tell us about this journey, from sending that first query to getting that call from the editor?
I queried my first three novels and wracked up three hundred rejections within a few years. But when I was ready to query my fourth novel, I knew had something special. I only queried my top fifteen agents for that one, and when Kate Testerman of KT Lit emailed to set up a call to "talk about my book" I was like "Wow, I've never had an agent call to reject my book before! Progress!" But it turned out that wasn't what the call was about at all. Kate offered me representation, and I was over the moon. We went on submission with that book for about a year before Kate read my next novel, BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN. She decided to put novel number four on the shelf and send out BERNICE. It was only a few months before it found it's home at Random House with my amazing and talented editor Caroline Abbey.
If you could pass on one piece of wisdom you've collected during your journey, what would it be?
I think my advice would be to just try to enjoy every stage of the process. It is such a privilege to find an audience for your work, and I don't ever want to take it for granted. If just one kid loves my story, I will be super duper excited. And the rest is just the gravy on top.
And for fun...
Mayo or Tomato ketchup
BOTH ON ALMOST EVERYTHING
Cats or dogs
Paperback or e-book
Day or night
Indoors or outdoors
Beer or wine
Run or walk
Mountains or beaches
Sweet or savory
Niki Lenz is an author living in Kansas City, Missouri. She is married to a handsome and brave police officer and has two adorable children.She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel.
Pre-order Niki's book now!
I LOVE supporting authors, whether they are multi-published, traditionally published, self published, or going to be published one day. And today, I'm helping out a dictionary of writers (I I made that up!) from Tasmania!
DO YOU LIVE IN OR NEAR LAUNCESTON, TASMANIA?
DO YOU LOVE MEETING AUTHORS AND BUYING BOOKS?
DO YOU LOVE NIBBLES?
Why not pop by the Stories Bookshop on St John's Street and meet not just one, but a bunch of terrific authors!
In Dunstan and Theodore, two friends drive to Western Junction where they plan to have a picnic after Dunstan flies his plane. Why can’t Dunstan land his plane? Who comes to the rescue? In other adventures, Theodore goes to Bridport and sails from Low Head to Flinders Island.
In Sea Monsters, explore the pages and use your imagination to discover images within the shadows and shapes in the photos. How many Sea Monsters can you find? The book provides an opportunity to engage in conversation about the environment and discover an imaginative world outside. Create your own monsters using natural objects, write, draw, paint, photograph and share experiences. Teachers Notes are available.
Sharon lives in Launceston with her family. Sharon has been a creative Visual Merchandiser and Window Dresser for forty years.
Paul Richardson & Amanda Walker
When accepted by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service volunteer program as caretakers for Maatsuyker Island, Paul Richardson and Amanda Walker were well aware they had chosen to live in isolation in one of the windiest places in Australia at a time when the weather is at its wildest.
This remarkable book chronicles their preparations, first impressions and then the daily caretaking tasks needed to look after the lighthouse, the light keeper’s quarters, outbuildings and island infrastructure. It tells of ocean swells, driving rains, lightning strikes, mist and drizzle, calm and sunny periods, bitter cold and record winds. All this is accompanied by Amanda and Paul’s lavish photographs and Amanda’s exquisite artwork which provide a striking visual record of their six-month stay.
There are still days, as I am returning home from a shoot, when the light gets that special quality that you see nowhere else in the world, when I feel a certain smugness. Next year marks 30 years since Vicki and I packed up our lives in Sydney and moved to Tasmania. Not once have we regretted our decision, and we still marvel at the clarity of mind that our younger selves had about the move all those years ago.
After 4 books devoted to the amazing produce grown in Tasmania and the talented people who turn it into world class food, it was time to look at what else this island had to offer. The food is important, and the wine has been well known around the world for decades now, but all of a sudden, it’s the single malt whiskey, the hand crafted gins and the experiences that are woven around these fabulous products that has been bringing more and more people to visit us.
A field guide to an awesome trip around Tassie! If you get to experience, taste and enjoy half the things in this book you will have a trip to beat all others.
A delightful tale of four horsey friends by new Tasmanian author, Vanessa Beaumont, with illustrations by Tabitha Osztreicher. The perfect gift for children who love horses.
Four horsey friends live peacefully in their field...
three of them docile and one strong-willed.
One windy day all goes astray...
which of the horses would save them that day?
Greg Ray & Jenny Miller
Greg Ray is the proud owner of a ‘bitser’ called Bremer who is a cross between a Border Collie and a Boxer. Bremer wandered into the Ray household as a stray and has been successfully running the family ever since.
Jenny Miller provides the beautiful illustrations for the Why Dogs series of books. She is the proud owner of a rescue dog called Sasol. Sasol bears a remarkable resemblance to Rastus Ramier, the pup who features in the first book of the series Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down.
The Why Dogs series of beautiful children’s books currently comprises 5 titles – Why Dogs Sniff Bums, Why Dogs Don’t Bark at Santa, Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down, Why Dogs Chase Cats and Why Dogs Bury Bones.
Owl and Echidna feel sick and sad that so many of their friends and family members are hurt and killed on the roads in their neighbourhood.
Owl and Echidna come up with a clever plan that involves planting a very special seed in a special place. This proves to be quite a tricky task so they ask their human friend, Fergus Fleegelbaum, to help
Kathleen McLaren lives in a lovely spot at the foothills of Mt Wellington. She enjoys illustrating and writing stories, hiking in Tasmania’s beautiful natural areas and working as a primary school teacher.
There Be Dragons is a collection of short true-life stories of growing up in Tasmania in the late 1940s and early 50s. The stories are light, whimsical, told from a child's point of view, but with some adult layers.
Heather Donaldson grew up in Launceston. She is a nurse, wife, mother, grandmother, lover of animals, wild places, beaches and books. Her Tasmanian childhood provides her with wonderful memories and endless ideas for stories. She has travelled widely but always comes home to Tasmania. She continues to live in and love this beautiful place.
‘Ghosts Royal’ is a fictional account of Abdication Day 1936, the day that changed the life of one ten-year-old princess forever. More poignantly, the story is told through the eyes of the princess, portraying all her hopes, fears, memories and misgivings.
This unique blend of fact and fiction is a portrait of one day in history from a young girl’s point of view, rarely considered in such intimate detail. You are shown glimpses of the Queen she will one day become.
Author and illustrator Brian Harrison-Lever has used his years of experience to give a voice to some of history’s voiceless: transported convicts.
Harrison-Lever is the drawing hand behind the illustrations of books such as In Flanders Fields, and Photographs in the Mud.
Originally from Western Australia, where he also worked in television and performing arts, he moved to Tasmania about 20 years ago.
It was here that he found the inspiration for his latest book: Transported: Tales of Misfortune and Roguery.
Dianne Snowden was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to heritage. Dianne is a professional genealogist and historian based in Tasmania and she is President of the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AAGRA). AAGRA is the accrediting body for professional genealogical researchers throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Dianne is a regular visitor to Ireland for research purposes. With the Wicklow historian Joan Kavanagh she wrote Van Diemen’s Women – a History of Transportation to Tasmania, published in 2015.
Mr Peter Mercer, class of 1952, is a prolific author and historian.
In late 2017 Peter published two new books titled A Brush with the Past which details childhood experiences of growing up in Launceston and being educated at the Launceston Church Grammar School during the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Peter has also written Happy Holidaying at Low Head about childhood experiences at the Tasmanian seaside in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Both books are a fascinating recollection of living, holidaying and being educated in Launceston in a golden era to be a child.
Dr John David Paull
Retired after 40 years practising anaesthesia and engaging in research, teaching, administration, and more recently the history of anaesthesia in Australia, in 2013 John published his biography of Dr William Russ Pugh.
Now he has turned his attention to the Log and Journal which Dr Pugh compiled on the long voyage from England to New Holland as a 28 year old ship’s doctor in 1835. After a seven-year search, the missing journal was found in the safekeeping of a great great grandson of Pugh’s sister, living in Bristol, England.
John has transcribed and annotated the hand written journal to reveal the exciting tale of Pugh’s five month journey from England to Hobart, on to Sydney and return to Hobart and then a month long walk to Launceston.
Rick Smith was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1955.
He is a former A Grade cricketer, writer and photographer. He is the author or co-author of 24 books and numerous articles on various aspects of cricket history, including Australian Test Cricketers, Great Days in Test Cricket and Cricket’s Enigma: the Sid Barnes Story.
Rick’s book Blighted Lives – the Story of Harry and Albert Trott won the Australian Cricket Society’s Literary Award in 2010.
Since 1990 Rick has been Cricket Tasmania’s match photographer. His photography has won honours awards from the Australian Photographic Society and the Photographic Society of America.
Queenstown is below, stitched into the bottom of the valley, the dark geometric shapes of the Mount Lyell headframe away to his left and the vast sail of Mount Owen on the other side of the town, opposite him. The summer sky is clean and clear, vast and high, an endless cathedral ceiling. This is where he comes when he wants to hide.
Cameron Hindrum is a writer, poet, playwright and teacher, based in Launceston. Since 2003, he has coordinated the annual Tasmanian Poetry Festival, and for nearly 20 years he has organised spoken word events, readings, literary events and poetry slams. He has published two volumes of poetry, Private Conversations Volumes 1 and 2.
Susie R Harrison
Susie was born in England but has spent most of her life in Australia, currently living in Tasmania.
She loves to travel, particularly in Scandinavia, and her trips have included the UK, Europe, Egypt and Asia. However she had always wanted to go to America and a recent visit to New York and New England was love at first sight. She cannot wait to return – hence, the American setting for this story, her first novel.
Susie holds a Bachelor of Education and has worked a wide range of jobs, including Community Ambassador, Tour Guide, Bank Technical Officer, Fashion Consultant and Office Manager.
Wife, mother and now alpaca farmer, Fiona Stocker captures the trials, adventures and euphoria of living in a place of untrammelled beauty – Tasmania. Wry, humorous and gently reflective, this is a modern-day wife’s tale, an everywoman’s story and a paean to a new, slower age.
“Apple Island Wife is both heart-warming and hilarious. Filled with raw, honest real-life accounts of trying to attain the good life fuelled with a pioneering spirit and a positive attitude. Compulsive reading for anyone who has ever thought they are not living the life they should!”
Steven Lamb, River Cottage
Besides partnering in the farm, Fiona writes freelance and works as a ghost writer and editor on books. She writes a blog, also called Apple Island Wife, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book A Place in the Stockyard, was commissioned by Tasmanian Women in Agriculture and published in 2016.
Apple Island Wife, a travel memoir, is published by Unbound in August 2018.
Fiona Stocker lives with her husband and two children in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania.
When social worker Aimee blows into the mining town of Kalgoorlie for a fresh start, she unwittingly uncovers a web of lies and a heartbreaking tie with her tumultuous past in this compelling family saga where the personal and political collide.
Her colleagues Lori and Paddy seem friendly, and she is also drawn to one of her cases: the Steele family, whose future looks particularly bleak. But Aimee has a dark secret, and as the past reaches out towards her once more, she realises that somehow her secret is connected to this harshly beautiful town and its inhabitants.
Shirley Patton lives in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania. Her career includes social work lecturer, published researcher, television newsreader and television chat show host.
Prue Hutton taught Art to schoolchildren and adults for many years. In this book she interprets colours, textures, patterns of the natural environment of Maria Island off the East Coast of Tasmania. Using a range of printmaking and drawing techniques, Prue has illustrated her story of a four day walk on Maria.
Sally Ord has designed original knitting patterns (included) that reflect the story, and included images so that readers can knit the garments she designed.
Parenting the Next Generation: A Journey of Life, Love and Learning.
Marg Cruickshank (BA/DipEd) grew up in the Huon Valley. She is a parent, grandparent and senior secondary teacher with more than 30 years classroom experience. Parenting the Next Generation: A Journey of Life, Love and Learning recounts conversations between Marg and her students about how they were raised, the values they were taught and the values they want for tomorrow.
This book creates a space for laughter, love and honest reflection in a market that shouts perfection. A refreshing contribution that speaks to the heart of anyone stepping out on the parenting /teaching/grandparenting path.
Harry is tired of being the tall new kid with red hair, big feet and freckles; the one with the dead sister whose voice follows her wherever she goes
When Harry’s wish for a horse comes true and Marksman comes into her life, she isn’t sure that the impressive horse is the one for her. She doesn’t need another challenge. But could he be just what she needs to learn the difference between standing out and standing up? This fantastic story for middle-grade readers will tug at your heartstrings.
Jackie has lived in Tasmania for 16 years. Presently, Jackie lives in Harford, Sassafras with her horses. Her love of horses extends from her childhood when her parents bought a riding school. Horses proved a cure when she was carsick: she would imagine horses galloping by the car, and thus calm her sickness. These childhood experiences have inspired her debut novel ‘The Promise Horse’.
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