As 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.
Posted by Lizzy Chandler on January 15, 2015
It’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 House. I 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.
Most 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?)
Posted by Lizzy Chandler on December 29, 2014
It’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.
Finally, 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?)
Posted by Lizzy Chandler on December 15, 2014
It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
Most of my reading this year has been of books for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, some of which I’ve reviewed on my book blog, Devoted Eclectic.
In the past week, I’ve taken time out to read a couple books not written by Australians, ones recommended to me by members of a Facebook group I started a couple of years ago for fans of the UK thriller writing team, Nicci French.
The first of these was The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. The second was Defending Jacob by William Landey. Of the two, Defending Jacob was by far my favourite.
The Shining Girls is ambitious. It combines thriller (and depictions of gut-churning violence) with time travel in an interesting, innovative way. What didn’t happen for me while I was reading was a strong identification with the woman-in-jeopardy point of view character, Kirby. I was puzzled and curious (and, at times, horrified), but I didn’t care about her fate as much as I should have.
The same can’t be said of Defending Jacob. Right from the start I cared about the first-person narrator, Andy Barber. Andy is a prosecutor whose fourteen-year-old son Jacob is accused of murdering a fellow student. Andy is convinced of his son’s innocence and prepared to go to any lengths to prove it and protect his son. It’s a tense, compelling read that raises questions about children’s behaviour, parents’ love and the justice system. It’s also a taut thriller with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. Highly recommended for thriller fans and fans of courtroom drama.
Over to you. What are you reading?
Posted by Lizzy Chandler on November 3, 2014
I’m conducting an experiment.
On Tuesday at the National Book Bloggers Forum, one of Random House’s tech gurus talked about ways book bloggers could boost interest in their blogs and Facebook pages, especially now that Facebook has been cutting down traffic for people who have “liked” your page – unless you pay.
In a fascinating talk that all made sense at the time, this guru (Eva Bui) talked about Google Analytics and trends. She discussed the importance of adding visual elements to your posts. And lists. And catchy headings. Like, maybe:
5 things all book bloggers should do
- add a graphic
- create a list
- use imperatives (“Share this!”)
- ask questions which engage your audience
- talk about food
Food? Yeah, right. On a blog about books and reading?
In the break, I asked Eva how posting recipes was going to help a book blogger. She said the benefit would be indirect. Food, chocolate, cats – we all know the posts – are so popular, using pictures of them might drive traffic to your page. More hits on your page means more people start to see your posts in their Timelines. They might even see links to your blog posts and come visit. While they’re visiting, they might read your discussions about books. Extra blog traffic could even mean Google will take notice, and maybe your posts will appear higher on search results.
Ok-ay… It’s worth a try.
So I’m experimenting. Earlier today I posted this picture of jonquils on the Australian Women Writers Facebook page. It’s not a great photo, just one I took in the garden this morning. I put no commentary. Nothing about the unseasonably warm weather we’re having for May, let alone any suggestion of global warming. Just the photo with a question: “What’s your favourite story that features flowers?” (Could have been snappier.)
Guess what? Comments! Not many. Yet. But more than I’ve been getting with my Twitter feed to the page. Someone even shared the photo!
These Random House tech gurus are on to something. The AWW page is (slightly) more “discoverable”. Now I’m going to go away and find a good pancake recipe…
What about you? Share your favourite book blogging tips here.
Posted by Lizzy Chandler on May 24, 2014