Snowy River Man: the road to publication

imageAs most of my regular readers will know, a few years ago I established the Australian Women Writers Challenge (AWW). Back then, I was trying to find a publisher for a suspense novel I’d written. The novel attracted interest from an agent, and subsequently from several editors, but wasn’t accepted for publication. Instead of fulfilling my dream of becoming a published author, I found myself devoting more and more time and energy to convening the AWW reading and reviewing challenge which aims to overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women.

While AWW has been a lot of fun, and I’ve been privileged to work with many fine bookbloggers and writers who joined the AWW team, I didn’t relinquish my dream of becoming a published author.

In late 2013, a psychic writer friend of mine told me that my “guides” had a message for me. They had given me everything I needed to get published, they said; what I needed was a kick up the derriere. Submit, my writer friend told me. Submit one of my old romances that had done well in the Clendon Award competition in New Zealand; send it to Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing.

Chastened and obedient, I updated the manuscript and sent it off to Kate. Several months later, Snowy River Man, as it is now called, was accepted for publication. My dream had been fulfilled: finally, I was going to be a published author – in a genre that I’d pretty well abandoned – all because I followed the advice of a psychic!

After finishing the revisions for Snowy River Man, I revised another manuscript from my bottom drawer – a romantic suspense – and sent that off to Kate. I’ve yet to hear whether that will be accepted. Lately I’ve been busy writing articles for AWW, as well as reading and reviewing for pleasure. Soon I’ll have to get back to my own writing. The question is, in what genre? Should I rewrite another romance, pull out the fantasy novel I’ve drafted, work on the thriller I’ve begun, or try once again that literary work I abandoned years ago? My problem is, I like all these genres and have no idea what I should be writing next.

Maybe I need another chat with my friend the psychic?

Snowy River Man will be released on February 22. You can pre-order a copy from AWW’s sponsor Bookworld here or Amazon.

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It’s Monday: What Are You Reading?

imageIt’s a couple of weeks since I posted – weeks spent preparing for Christmas and clearing out my garage for a huge council clean-up. But I have managed to spend some happy hours catching up on my reading and reviewing.

On my other blog, I published reviews for Charlotte Link’s The Watcher and Judith Lennox’s The Winter HouseI followed up my reading of Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle with another of hers, Sing You Home. I also read a historical fiction novel by Lisa Jewell, Before I Met You. (Reviews for these will follow.) And I just started Michael Robotham’s thriller, Watching You.

imageMost of these books have been borrowed from the library. Only one of the authors is Australian (Robotham), and most could be labelled “women’s fiction”. The Winter House is historical fiction and Before I Met You is a hybrid of historical and contemporary. This represents a departure from the majority of my reading for 2014 (mostly thrillers and suspense by Australian women writers).

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2015 is to broaden my reading: to read fewer new releases (hopefully making in-roads into my humongous “to be read” pile) and more mainstream fiction. I know once I start writing again my reading and reviewing output will dwindle, so I’m making the most of it while I’m on this break.

Wishing you all a happy reading year in 2015! What have you been reading?

~

“It’s Monday: What Are You Reading” is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Aussie bloggers who contribute include Debbish, Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, Shannon from Giraffe Days, Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf, Brona at Brona’s Books and Michael at Literary Explorations. (Anyone I’ve missed?)

It’s Monday – what are you reading?

imageIt’s a month since I’ve posted about my reading and, since getting my latest manuscript off to the editor at Escape, I’ve had the luxury of browsing the shelves at both Katoomba and Mona Vale libraries to find authors recommended by my book group on Facebook. (The problem with that system is, I think I got the book piles mixed up and returned a couple of books to the wrong library. We’ll see…)

Since my last post, I’ve read – and reviewed on my other blog – the following suspense novels:

I’ve also read and will post reviews for:

  • Charlotte Link, The Watcher and
  • Judith Lennox, The Winter House (historical saga)

I’m currently reading Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle which I’m really enjoying.

All of the above authors, apart from Val McDermid, are new to me, and most of the books have been really good reads. It’d be hard to pick a favourite, but I loved the Swedish island setting of The Darkest Room, found the concept of Tarnished absorbing and was impressed by the structure of Kind of Cruel.

imageFinally, yesterday I posted a wrap-up of my reading for the Australian Women Writers Challenge this year, which turned out to be mostly of suspense, the highlight of which was Anna George’s debut thriller, What Came Before. I have a hunch I’ll be reading more broadly in 2015.

What are you reading? Have you discovered any great books this year?

~

“It’s Monday: What are you reading?” is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Aussie bloggers who normally contribute include Debbish, Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, Shannon from Giraffe Days, Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf, Brona at Brona’s Books and Michael at Literary Explorations. (Anyone I’ve missed?)

Blue Fringe Arts Literary Awards

Eden Riley accepts award for Most Inspirational fiction

Eden Riley accepts award for Most Inspirational fiction

It’s autumn in the mountains and the Blue Fringe Arts Literary Awards have been announced.

On Wednesday night I attended the awards ceremony, held in the beautiful ballroom of the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. The awards celebrate “the creativity of people living with or having experienced mental illness”.

Blue Mountains resident Eden Riley (pictured right) won the category of Most Inspirational fiction  for her story, “The Stone”.  It begins:

The day I was born, the Universe slipped a stone into my pocket. It wasn’t a particularly big stone. I barely noticed it at all.

And later:

My stone grew jagged edges. It was so heavy and I just couldn’t put it anywhere. It belonged to me for life. I hurt myself a lot. On purpose. Wrong jobs and wrong men and wrong situations.

Eden’s story, like many of the poems and short fiction published in the awards anthology, Celebrating Life: through verse and story, conveys an aspect of what it’s like to live with and recover from mental illness.

I was lucky enough to have been asked to judge the poetry category. The poem I chose as the most outstanding is one called “How to Bury Your Mother” by Dawni Sky. It begins:

Start with the feet, push down
handfuls of earth over stubbed toes
and childhood injuries

(remember the time she pulled your hair,
called you a bitch and said your father
could never have wanted you).

And later:

Walk away and in a half year’s time
return to her grave site, and dig a hole…

…bury the bitterness alongside a seed
(preferably her favourite flower).

Even though I was familiar with the poem, when I heard it read in full on the night, my hairs stood on end. In a few lines, the poet had taken me on a journey, showing me an emotional truth that resonated through my whole body. That’s how I knew it was poetry.

For me, it doesn’t matter if a poem – or a story or a novel – makes perfect sense. “Great” writing, for me, resonates in the body, picks me up, throws me into the air and doesn’t care where I fall. On Wednesday night, I heard some work that rhymed, that charmed, that made me laugh. But the prize-winners all had a dangerous edge.

Discussing the editor-author relationship recently, Charlotte Wood said: “The more I go on, the more I am convinced that a great book is one which leads its readers away from the worn path of what they already know, to a wild and unfamiliar place where new logics and understandings can take hold.” Those are the places where writers like Eden Riley and Dawni Sky take me. Away from safety, into the wild.

Congratulations, Eden. Congratulations, Dawni. And all the other prize winners and entrants of the Blue Fringe Arts Literary Awards. May I show just a little of your courage as I continue to write.

A new blog and a new story

I’m thrilled to announce that one of my novels, Her Man From Snowy River Country, has been accepted for publication by Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing (the digital Australian arm of Harlequin). It’s a contemporary romance with suspense elements, and it was a finalist in the Clendon Award some years ago. It’ll probably be out later this year – I’ll keep you posted.

For the past few years, as well as writing and reading, I’ve been involved in the Australian Women Writers Challenge as founder and editor. I’ve also posted reviews of books by Australian women on my other blog. On this blog I hope to post news, reviews and author interviews, concentrating on our fantastic authors from Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re a friend, family, reader of romance and suspense, or participate in the Australian Women Writer’s challenge, please follow this blog (there’s a button on the right), like my Facebook page and/or follow me on Twitter @Lizzy_Chandler.

Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the area that inspired Her Man From Snowy River Country a cabin by a lake in the Australian alpine district where we stay from time to time.

Cabin in the Australian Alpine country (photo by Rodney Weidland, used with permission)

Cabin by Lake Eucumbene (photo by Rodney Weidland, used with permission)