Author Archives: The Print Posse

About The Print Posse

Four fab ladies sharing fab ideas...

Romance and all that in YA

I can still remember when I finally got to read Judy Blume’s Forever.  It seemed to mark a key moment in my reading life as a young adult – my favourite author was writing about… you know… doing IT.  Young adults tend to read up – meaning that they like to read about characters slightly older than they are.  And when YA readers find an author they like, they’re really loyal and devour everything that author produces!  So when I was maybe about fourteen Judy Blume, my trusted beloved author-of-choice, initiated me into the complexity of young adult relationships, intimacy, contraception, teenage pregnancy and… sex.  And just as well she did because I certainly wasn’t going to be asking my folks!

Forever

Here’s a line from that old classic:

“After, we lay in each other’s arms and I thought, there are so many ways to love a person.  This is how it should be – forever.”

First published in 1975, Forever was able to capture the uncertainty, heartbreak and anxiety that comes with those first ‘serious relationships’.

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Forever will remain as a classic and it’s because Blume has done a few clever things as a writer:

  • Even though, as a teen I thought of the book Forever as “the s.e.x. book”, the story is about so much more.  Blume didn’t write this book just for the sake of covering that particular topic.
  • Forever, like all of Blume’s books, has real, loveable, flawed characters that you can become emotionally connected with.  This helps you as a reader to deeply consider the concepts/ themes/ ideas that she cleverly embeds within the plot.
  • Blume keeps it real.  That was one thing I abso-loved about Blume as a young adult reader – I knew she told the truth.  As I reflect back on it now, I realise I trusted Judy Blume!  The dialogue was never contrived.  The situations weren’t far-fetched.  Some scenes made me feel uncomfortable.  Some things challenged me.  Blume wasn’t out to entertain, she was sharing her character’s story.

So – Blume was a master in this YA sub-genre of love, romance and intimacy, but it’s important to recognise that plenty of YA authors are canvassing the same topics in new, exciting and unique ways.

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Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil is a gorgeous and touching first love story that I recently read.  I still smile every time I think about it.  Like Forever, this book isn’t just about falling in love… it’s about sooo much more… namely nerdy awkward group of kids recognising that their identity isn’t fixed, but evolving.  Like Forever, the characters are endearing and you can connect with them.  And whilst it’s not hard hitting gritty stuff, Life In Outer Space is real and truthful in it’s telling.

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The Flywheel by Erin Gough is another recent YA novel that delves into the trauma of first serious love with grace and beauty.  There’s a feisty protagonist called Delilah who happens to be a lesbian. (It’s about time the literature available to young people caught up with the real lives they’re living.)  Delilah is dealing with a few kinds of heartbreak when she finally finds someone ready to love her.  The Flywheel is like Forever in that it features characters and situations that YA readers will genuinely relate to. Gough hasn’t just chucked in a lesbian to spice things up.  Delilah has known pain and disappointment – she’s been let down and deceived by others – and we get a sense of how hard it is for her to just be herself.  That’s good, hardcore YA writing (in my humble, humble opinion!) and it means that the reader is invested in the character rather than the love plot.

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Keep your eyes peeled for more top quality romance for YA and let us know!

And when you’re next tapping at the keyboard and thinking about the love-line within your broader YA plot line, remember what Judy taught us in Forever:

there are so many ways to love a person

So:

Keep it real.  

Focus on characters.  

Have plot complexity.

 

 

 

 

 

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Love is in the air…

From The Print Posse… with love ❤

 Ah, February, the month of love…

In the spirit of all things romance, The Print Posse are dedicating their February posts to the language of love… or rather the language of love scenes 😉

To get you in the mood, Gabbie has offered to share a snippet from her junior fiction novel that she wrote in 2005.

(Disclaimer from Gabbie:  This is Morris Grin – Lord of the Bling.  It’s still unpublished.  One day I may drag it from the bottom drawer and see what can be done with it.  For now, here’s the protagonist – Morris Grin – experiencing his first kiss!)

I walked slowly across the playground, imagining Riley and Emily pashing like a pair of suckerfish stuck together. I had to admit I was jealous. All this business with the ring had kind of ruined whatever chance I might have had with the girls in my class. I hardly imagined any of them would want to be seen with Gruesome Grin, Mr Bone Head himself. I took a moment to feel sorry for myself.  

I kicked at a rock and imagined how disappointed Dad and Stew would be when I told them that I hadn’t been able to get rid of the ring. What if Riley was right for once, what if Bela had left town and I’d missed the opportunity to give her the ring? I kicked at the rock again and it skittered in a curve which I followed, determined to kick it all the way home.

“Got something for me?”

And there she was. Right in the middle of the playground. The exact place we had stood weeks ago. She was wearing jeans and a white shirt and her red hair was hanging down around her shoulders. She was grinning and her eyes were sparkling at me.

A silence settled around us and I could sense that every blade of grass, every tree, every piece of dirt and every tiny twig were poised and waiting for what was to come next. I put down my bag and reached inside.

Holding the package out between us, I watched her face for any kind of reaction. She didn’t budge, didn’t lunge for the box, didn’t say anything. She just looked at me. Her green eyes were drilling into me. She was looking beyond me and I knew she was peeking into my soul. Now there would be no denying it, she would know my heart was hers.

And then it happened. She leaned toward me and a crazy thought flicked on in my mind – she even has freckles on her lips!  She kissed me.  A strange feeling shuddered through my body. I thought I might pass out. 

The box dropped from my hands and it seemed as though every tree and rock and scrap of dirt that had been so silent up until this moment were now forming an orchestra, celebrating with magical sounds this special event. I never wanted it to end. It was such a great feeling. I wanted her to kiss me forever and ever, right here on the playground.

Then it was over. She drew back and we both looked down at the little brown box waiting patiently at our feet.

 

Love is a good book…

 

Feeling romantically inspired? Why not try a blind date with a romance writing competition? Fiona discovered some upcoming writing comps that may help you get your manuscript in the mood for some publishing love:

Romance Writers of Australia

First Kiss 2016

An opportunity to showcase that romantic tension. Enter a 1500-word scene involving your protagonists’ first kiss, plus a half-page set-up.

Opens: 29 January 2016
Closes: Midnight Sydney time, 14 February 2016

http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/84/Contests

 

Central Ohio Fiction Writers (A chapter of Romance Writers America)

2016 Ignite the Flame Contest

COFW will begin accepting entries on June 1, 2016.  All entries must be received by June 30, 2016.

The Ignite the Flame Contest is designed to help you polish that critical first meet scene so that it crackles with romantic energy.

http://www.cofwevents.org/ignite-the-flame-contest/

 

The Utah Chapter of Romance Writers of America®

2016 Great Beginnings Contest

Enter the opening five (5) pages of romance novels of all sub-genres.

http://www.utahrwa.com/gbcontest.html

 

Pitch to Publication 2016 (#p2p16)

Authors will submit a query and 5 pages of their draft (completed) manuscript to one of fifteen, highly sought-after freelance editors. Each editor will select one (and sometimes two!) authors to work with for a month of intensive manuscript development. The editor will help prepare you and your work for our agent round in the middle of April!

http://pitch2pub.com/node/6

 

Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest

The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest will begin accepting entries on January 1, 2016. All entries must be received by February 14, 2016

Submit the first 5000 words (3000 words for the Novella category) of an unpublished work of fiction.

http://www.neorwa.com/contest/

 

Love is only one click away…

 

Next week, Yanicke will be offering some tips on writing the perfect love scene. Until then, she’d like to share with you a poem she penned all the way back in 2003…

 

…my obsession

A secret place…
No one shares…
There…in your arms…

Sometimes you don’t let me in…
The door locked…
Patience…the only key…

But I know…
That secret place is for me alone…
Paradise…Longing…Desire…

You cannot know how you make me feel…
For if you did…surely you would welcome me…every moment…
Oh…the yearning I endure…

* yanicke, april 2003 *

The language of love…

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Big Magic

big magic

It’s Gabbie here and I have a confession. I never read Eat Pray Love. I had a friend who absolutely adored it and urged me to read it. I can still remember her well-thumbed, dog-eared, bookmarked paperback kicking around on her coffee table way back in 2006. My friend explained the premise and even read some passages out loud, but I didn’t feel moved to buy the book and read it for myself.

When the movie came out in 2010, I didn’t rush to see it at the movies. But I break my rule of ‘always read the book before you watch the film’ and watched it on DVD in 2011. Big disappointment. I thought Oh Boo Hoo You Elizabeth Gilbert with your beige marriage and your ridiculous coming of age travelogue which is only thinly veiling your mid-life crisis. Probably important to note that I was pregnant, completing my Masters, had a two year old and a brand new business. Wouldn’t we all like to eat gelato in Italy? I raged.

Fast forward to 2015 when I enrolled in a Virtual Writers Course with Charlotte Wood and Alison Manning. Can you imagine my shock when Wood recommended a TED talk on creativity by none other than Eat, Pray, Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert?

Well, I watched the talk.

And I fell in love.

I had misjudged this woman. I had misjudged a fellow author. I had mistaken an author’s story for their personality. I was humbled and humiliated. But the worst part is… she’s such a nice gal I reckon she’d forgive me.

Elizabeth Gilbert has in fact published several books. She’s not a one hit wonder. She’s a determined, creative, dogged and likeable lady who has been rejected by publishers (just like me), surprised by her own creativity (just like me), determined to succeed (just like me) and finds magic in storytelling (just like me).

So after developing this girl crush, I was looking forward to getting my hands on her book Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear. And I wasn’t disappointed. Gilbert’s conversational style, self-deprecating manner and commitment to creativity made this book a delightful reading experience. Of course, I demanded that the rest of The Posse add it to their mandatory Summer Reading list.

Now the Big Magic needs to spread even further – I think all of you Devoted Readers should grab yourself a copy and read it for yourself. Even if you’re not a writer, Big Magic has something for everyone.

Need more convincing?

Fiona’s thoughts on Big Magic:

What I enjoyed the most about Gilbert’s work was her approach to rejection and the giving up on the writing or publication dream. She doesn’t gloss over the pain. She doesn’t promise roses and champagne and a major deal if you just keep trying.

Rejection is inevitable for writers. Even many published ones.

Her realistic attitude is what struck a chord with me. The concept of knowing you will be rejected but understanding that it has to happen and you have to let it happen if you are to have any chance of literary success. You can’t give up after the, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ emails send us plummeting into a coma of wine and chocolate.

“Somebody would send me a rejection, and I would knock it right back over the net, sending out another query that same afternoon. My policy was: You hit it to me, I’m going to hit it straight back out into the universe.”

Gilbert also asserts the importance of taking control of our self doubt, of not feeding the monster and allowing it to overwhelm the passion to write.

“Speak to your darkest and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath: calmly, but firmly. Most of all, never back down.”

I will embrace these ideas for my writing year ahead. Who knows? Maybe some big magic will come my way.

Yanicke’s thoughts on Big Magic:

Over the summer break (or winter, if you live in the northern hemisphere), I had the opportunity to catch up on my reading. After finishing Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (which I loved, by the way – thanks Lorelle for buying me a copy and not allowing me any more excuses), I asked the Print Posse gals what they thought I should read next. Gabbie shouted two words at me – BIG MAGIC! Well, she didn’t exactly shout, as we were chatting on Facebook, but she might as well have been, because after our conversation I felt I had no choice but to order a digital copy of Big Magic on Amazon.com, then and there, and start reading.

And I’m so glad I did.

Granted, for the first half of the book I was mostly thinking “Hmmm, this is nice read, but I don’t really think I need it. I’ve already past this stage in my writing life.” You see, Big Magic is organised into six sections: (i) Courage; (ii) Enchantment; (iii) Permission; (iv) Persistence; (v) Trust; and (vi) Divinity.

And when it comes to the first few topics, namely, overcoming fear and giving myself permission to embrace a creative life, I’ve sort of already faced that struggle back in 2009. With fear and excitement bubbling in my veins, I jumped ship and dived into an ocean of uncertainty, leaving my legal career behind and pursuing my dream of being a writer – a dream I’d long considered an impossibility until a close friend of mine simply said “If you wanna write, stop whining about all the things standing in your way and do it.” Not life changing words on the face of them, I know. But for some reason, whether it was the right time or I was in the right frame of mind, they made so much sense. And so I did.

But then (getting back to Big Magic), about half way through the book, things changed. I starting feeling “Now this is something I need to read.” I need to read that it’s okay to write stuff that is simply fun. Writing doesn’t have to save the world or be intellectual. Writing to entertain is just as worthwhile as writing to teach or writing to heal. It has its place. It is justified.

I also needed to read that I shouldn’t apologize for my work. So what if my first novel is a teen vampire romance? So what if it isn’t The Goldfinch or To Kill a Mockingbird? I shouldn’t feel self-conscious about that. I shouldn’t doubt my work’s worth or feel ashamed. I should be proud. This is me. This is what I love and what inspires me. This is who I am, at this time in my life.

These points totally resonate with me, as I struggle with both of these insecurities, these worries. So thank you Ms Gilbert, I totally hear you. And from this moment on, I fully intend to embrace my uniqueness and be the court lobster 🙂

There were also countless cool anecdotes throughout Big Magic – several of which I absolutely adored. Like the story of Winifred, the 90-year-old expert on ancient Mesopotamia, and Elizabeth’s own tale of not letting lack of inspiration get her down, but instead allowing her curiosity to guide her on a journey of discovery through botanical history that began in her own garden.

So I have to say, no matter where you are on your journey of pursuing a creative life, Big Magic has something for you.

I’ll finish off with my favourite quote from the book – it relates to Elizabeth’s inspirational attitude to receiving rejections. Instead of taking them to heart and giving up, she viewed her journey to publication in terms of an entire lifetime, and upon receiving one of those dreaded no’s would mutter to herself:

“You think you can scare me off? I’ve got another eighty years to wear you down! There are people who haven’t even been born yet who are gonna reject me someday—that’s how long I plan to stick around.”

I love it! 😀

Gabbie’s Thoughts on Big Magic:

Gilbert explains through paradoxical chapters that creativity is a riddle: a divine endowment that we are never meant to fully understand. Big Magic helped me to appreciate the contradictory nature of creativity.

I quote for you her conclusion:

In Conclusion

Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.

We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.

We are terrified, and we are brave.

Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise – you can make anything.

So please calm down and get back to work, okay?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert is touring Australia in February!  She can weave her magic all over you on:

18th February, Theatre Royal in Hobart

25th February, Griffith University Conservatorium Theatre in Brisbane

4th March, Seymour Centre in Sydney

Pop over to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website to find out more… you can also grab this cool PDF downloadable.  LOVE IT!!

 

 

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Happy New Everything!

Oh. Em. Gee.  I abso love love LURV New Year Resolutions.

I’m also a big fan of the Vision Board, BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and focus words (last year’s were WRITER and AUTHENTIC).

 

As soon as the last fire cracker dissolves into the midnight sky, I start resolving and it’s not a fast process.  I pretty much spend most of January reflecting on the year that was, what worked, what didn’t, reviewing the resolutions I made and thinking about things I’d like to blossom in the year ahead.  Finally, I sit down with some good music and a cuppa.  I give thanks for everything gained the previous year.  Then I get busy creating pages of goals, dreams and hopes for each facet of my life: writing, family, friendships, health, finance and work.

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The front of my 2015 Book of Resolutions. I never did get around to colouring it in.

Then I create a super cool vision board as a visual summary that hangs beside my bed.

VisionBoard

My 2015 Vision Board

Now before you get all judgey on me and start making assumptions, let me tell you this.  Last year, I resolved to start writing as a journalist and earn money from my writing.  I even created a new folder on my computer and called it MBFC which stood for My Brilliant Freelance Career.

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I love that I have a folder called Lost Tooth!  But also – look at that MBFC folder.  Pretty awesome!

On my Vision Board I stuck the fine print of contributors names and a few magazine covers with dollar signs all around.

Contributor

I resolved to name writing as my job whenever people asked me what I did.  Wishful thinking?  I had nine articles published last year and earned over three grand for my efforts.

Keeping things real – it’s fair to say that I can’t give up my day job (yet).  And a few things on my Vision Board remain… shall we say… visionary.  For example: I didn’t have a book published and reviewed by Jennifer Byrnes,

Byrnes

I’m ready when you are, Jen. 

I didn’t complete three manuscripts (but I did complete one)

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I always make a mock-up cover of my work-in-progress.  Right now Downhill is in the hands of two publishers… fingers crossed.

and I don’t have rock hard abdominals (in fact the only part of me that is rock hard is my leg when it gets a cramp).

Rock_Abs

This is not me.

That aside, I just think that it can’t hurt to put your dreams, hopes and ambitions ‘out there’ for the Universe to receive and act upon.  I also find that it helps me make decisions about how I use my time, opportunities I choose to follow and how I relate to others.

Charmian Clift – who was an Australian novelist and journalist during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (and I’m writing an article about her for a magazine – SNAP!) described the New Year turning as a ‘recurring seasonal moral audit’ with the ‘sort of palpable aura of splendid intention’ (‘Resolutions’ from Trouble in Lotus Land).  I love the description of both the moral audit and the splendid intention as it captures precisely how I feel.  For me, the New Year isn’t just about goals but about shaping my life and thinking about the person I am and the person I am becoming.

So without further ado, I give you my Writing Resolutions for 2016.

  1. Meet The Print Posse in person (can you believe our friendship has only been virtual up to this point?) and squeeze ’em so tight they yelp (hopefully at the Byron Bay Writers’ Fest)
  2. Continue writing for magazines and seek out other magazines I can contribute to
  3. Contribute something to Kill Your Darlings.  Incidentally – KYD has an awesome New Year’s offer at the mo.  If you subscribe before Feb 15, you can also have a 2000 word manuscript assessment.  So for all those folks out there saying “I’ve written something…” get onto this deal and have the clever folk at KYD provide you with the feedback you are longing for.
  4. Breathe life into my website and blogs that are laying dormant (but still worth a peek – gjstroud.com)
  5. Establish a new blog on my website providing ‘teacher advice and info’ for parents of Primary School aged children
  6. Finish my new WIP Mummy’s Just Losing Her Mind
Success

I’m already thinking about the mock-up cover, even though the story isn’t finished!

There’s more… there’s bound to be more… I mean it’s only the 12th of January – I’m still at the reflective stage.  But for now this is a good start.  Now – don’t be shy, get into that Comments Box and share your aspirations for 2016.

You know you want to.

 

 

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Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas...

All I want for Christmas…

Dear Santa,

Thank you for all the beautiful treasures you gave us last Christmas.  It seems like only a minute ago we were unwrapping our gifts and eating too much pudding… and yet here we are again!

We have been good girls all year.  We haven’t been pouting or crying or shouting.  We have been extra nice and we have tried really really really hard to honour our creativity and imaginations.

Please find attached our Christmas wish lists for 2015.  We understand that you cannot provide us with everything on the list – that’s why we’ve gone ahead and given you plenty of ideas.

Gabbie would like:

  • A wonderful publisher for her YA fiction Downhill
  • Plenty of time to devote to writing and staring into space
  • A limited edition signed Freya Blackwood picture to hang in her writing room
  • Any YA fiction or Australian Fiction from her fave local bookstore Candelo Books
  • Opportunities
  • Courage
  • Discipline
gabbie_red_santa_hat

Santa Gabbie

 

Fiona would like:

  • Some beautiful pens that glide across the page and make her feel like a writer simply because she is holding them.
  • Novels to read, in particular Kate Morton’s The Lake House.
  • Time to write, revise and re-submit.
  • The patience to wait until her manuscript is ready before submitting it to competitions, agents or publishers.
  • More knowledge about writing.
  • A writing retreat with The Print Posse.
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Santa Fiona

 

Yanicke would like:

  • Her very own literary agent who will love her work and share her dreams.
  • Books 1, 2 and 3 in Maggie’s Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. She’s been holding off on devouring these books until the release of book 4 was on the horizon. The thought of finishing book 3 and not being able to read book 4 straightaway was horrifying!
  • A writing retreat in her new home she can escape to whenever the urge to write strikes.
  • Energy, so she can work those long days and still manage to stay awake long enough at night to write a paragraph or two before bed.
  • The opportunity to meet her Print Posse pals in person… FINALLY!
  • Oh, and a ticket to Kate Forsyth’s HISTORY, MYSTERY & MAGIC tour to Oxford & the Cotswolds in June.

But Santa, if you’re feeling particularly generous this year, Yanicke would adore her last two Christmas wishes combined all into one – tickets for all the Print Posse gals 🙂

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Santa Yanicke

 

We hope you have safe travels on December 24th.  Remember to deliver plenty of books to all the little girls and boys.

Yours in wonder,

Gabbie, Fiona & Yanicke aka The Print Posse

Categories: Letters, Writer's Life | Leave a comment

Gabbie’s Got A Hot Date

We interrupt your viewing of The Print Posse’s Month of Letter Writing to bring you this update of Gabbie’s Hot Speed Dating Session…

 

Okay – so it was a Literary Speed Dating session and it wasn’t ‘hot’ in the steamy and passionate sense. But in all other regards it was exactly like a date. There were the usual conundrums of what to wear and what to say as well as a few additional nerve-janglers only associated with a pitching-event:

what if I get a flat out rejection?

what if every publisher in the room says ‘no’?

what if they ask me something that I don’t know?

 

Before the date, I worked diligently planning my outfit – nah just kidding – I finalised my manuscript, making sure it was ready to be sent off if requested. I wrote out my pitch and then I ran it by my galfriends here at The Posse. They helped me tweak it and twist it until it sounded just right. Together, we whittled it down until it was a 2-minute pitch.

I read and re-read the guidelines and followed them like a very good girl. I printed copies of my manuscript, as well as a one page Literary CV and dusted off copies of my previous publication.

I even went out and had business cards designed and printed. It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and this event was a great excuse. Again, The Posse helped me with the wording, agonising over three descriptive words and the placement of a semi-colon. {Side note: Every writer needs a Posse – especially if you’re thinking about Literary Dating. Possibly also regular dating.}

Anyhoo… so the business cards… Ta dahhhh!

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(They look fabulous don’t you think?)

While we drove to Sydney (from Merimbula – 6 hours, thank you to my sponsors; husband and kids dragged along for moral support) I practised my pitch. Conservatively, I ran through it about… fifty hundred times. My 7 year old daughter acted as prompt from the back seat and can now confidently add contemporary, resonate and compelling to her vocabulary.  By the time we hit Campbelltown, the four year old was correcting me.

At the event, I was as dry mouthed and heart thunderingly nervous as if a much younger me was going on a date with a super-cutey (think Eddie Perfect).

Eddie

The event was organised by the Australian Society of Authors, which is kind of like every Aussie writer’s posse and if you’re not already a member then you should seriously think about joining up. This year, I’ve participated in their Virtual Writers’ Group with Charlotte Wood and Alison Manning. This was an unspeakably good experience that deeply enriched me as a writer. In the past I’ve been awarded an ASA mentorship and received contract advice from them, so I can’t say it enough…. they’re an awesome organisation.

In the waiting room, dozens of authors stood around awkwardly clutching their notes and mumbling their pitches. A very loose and unstructured line began to form as various publishers and agents were ushered into the conference room. When the doors were opened, there was an overwhelming identity-shift as these nervy, mild-mannered writer-types suddenly surged forward as though we were at Myer’s Boxing Day sales!

Here’s how it worked. You lined up in front of your preferred publisher. I had my eye on Kimberley Bennett from Random House Children’s Books and Kate Stevens Junior Commissioning Editor from Hachette. Grace Heifetz from Curtis Brown (Literary Agent) was also there and I hoped I might pitch to her as well, but within a minute of the door opening the line to see Grace was loooooong. Clearly, Grace was the Hottie at this Speed Dating Session.

A hooter (yep, like at a sports event) was sounded and the first in line had three minutes with the publisher/agent. During that time they were expected to pitch their novel/idea/poem/picture book and answer any of the publisher’s questions. When the hooter sounded again it was the next person’s turn. After you pitched, you could line up and pitch to someone else.

My first pitch was with Kimberley of Random. As I stood in the line I was thinking “Why am I doing this to myself?”  The nerves were similar to those I’d experienced before going for my P plates, job interviews, major exams or those harrowing moments before entering the labour ward. I was desperate for a drink of water, but that was the one thing I hadn’t brought.  It wouldn’t be appropriate to lick the sweat from my palms so I glanced around for any water stations and that’s when I noticed Kimberley had a glass and a whole jug of water in front of her.   The hooter blared and I sat down in front of Kimberley, resisting the delirium of my water-parched nerves that were telling me to drink her water.  (I may or may not have taken a few deep and noisy “I’m in labour” breaths – the memory is somewhat hazy.)

I launched into my pitch without a stumble and had only one significant pause where I completely lost my place. Kimberley made thoughtful comments, accepted my (gorgeous) business card and CV and handed me her business card and told me to send my manuscript through via email!!!!! (Yes five exclamation points are warranted.)  The hooter blared and I left the table,  filled with some kind of writerly-endorphin rush that made me feel as triumphant as the moment I finish a manuscript.

I found the line for Kate at Hachette and proudly waited my turn.

The second pitch went equally as well, although Kate refused all my well-prepared paperwork, instead handing me her card and saying “Email me all of this and your manuscript.”

Hazahhhh!!!!!! (Six – I know, but I will still argue each one is warranted.)

By this time, there was only forty minutes left and the line for Grace at Curtis Brown was a forty two minute wait. I boldly abandoned that plan and pitched instead to Joel Naoum of Momentum Pan Macmillan who don’t even publish the kind of YA fiction I write. But, it was a chance to practise my pitch and gain some feedback.

Then – with a bold and confident speed dating swagger – I sat down with Emily Stewart from NewSouth Publishing and had a chat about a non-fiction book I’ve got lurking in the back of my mind. No pitch prepared – just a casual little Q & A session, how confident was I becoming??  Confident enough to use two question marks.  Again – gained some great feedback and encouragement.

It was an exhilarating experience and I mean that – if you don’t think writing can invoke heavy breathing, dry mouthed, heart pounding mania then you’ve never been a literary speed dater! Every writer should try this once! I met some fabulous writers while I was waiting in line and built my burgeoning writing network a little more. I also got to connect with ASA staff that I’ve dealt with in the virtual world, but not in real life. The preparation meant that I really got to know my manuscript and honing the pitch to a two-minute spiel helped me consolidate the heartland of my story.

Next time, I probably wouldn’t lug three copies of my manuscript and previous publication around with me.

I probably wouldn’t get so hung up on learning my pitch word for word.

I would probably anticipate the most popular publications/agents and make a bee-line for them at the beginning.

And I would probably bring a drink.

 

 

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Five books for a desert island…

Well, week four has rolled around again, so it’s time for a bonus post from The Print Posse.

This week, each of us will take turns answering the following question (an oldie but a goodie)…

“You’re packing your bag for that other desert island—the one with no electricity—what 5 books/series do you take with you?”

Yanicke

1. The Secret Diaries Series by Janice Harrell
My all-time favourite series – I could read it over and over again and never get bored. Think Donna Tartt’s The Secret History for teens.

2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater
Brilliant, beautiful and bittersweet – what more can I say?

3. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
I know, I know, but I can’t help it… I have a soft spot for Jacob ❤

4. The Last Vampire Series by Christopher Pike
Mr Pike was my #1 favourite author as a teen 🙂 I also love The Eternal Enemy and Monster.

5. The Vampire Diaries Series by LJ Smith
Where Elena is a blonde and Bonnie a red-headed firecracker (who happens to be descended from the druids).

Three of these series came out in the 1990s when I was a teen! I guess I never got over them 🙂 No wonder I grew up to write YA fiction…

secret diaries shiver twilight vampire diaries last vampire

 

Fiona

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
I love this series so much. Laini Taylor is one of my personal writing heroes and her prose is beautiful.

2. The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
The series differs significantly at times from the show and though I’m a fan of both, the books are better. I mean, Quinn the weretiger? True Blood fans seriously missed out.

3. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas
Another of my all time favourite series and authors.

4. Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
This book is definitely in my holiday bag just so I could laugh at the hilarity of Sam’s awkwardness.

5. The Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore
Three books with different main characters set in the same world – adventure, love, terror – this series has it all.

DOSAB_hbfront 301082 Throne-of-Glass-UK 16119664 (1) graceling

 

Gabbie

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
When I finished reading this book I made the tentative declaration:  “This might have been the best book I have ever read.”

the-book-thief

2.  The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

It’s just so laugh out loud funny.  Trust me.

3.  Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Just read this book okay?  I promise you’ll love it.

Jasper

4.  The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff…”

*sigh* Holden Caulfield – you get me every time.  Every. Time.

Catcher

5.  Hmmm…. what to choose? what to choose? Ummmm…. Maybe The Hunger Games?  By Suzanne Collins.  Do we get to share the books?  Are we stuck on the island together?  Would it be wrong to choose the one book I’ve had published?  Shouldn’t someone grab a survival guide?

Guys?

 

Hey guys?

 

A map?

 

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Quitting Is For Quitters

Here at The Print Posse when the going gets tough – we turn to the Internet!  Today we’re sharing with you our favourite sites for inspiration, motivation and perspiration.  These are the links we click on when we’re on the edge and ready to quit.  There are some complete gemstones in amongst this lot – so get ready to start bookmarking.

il_fullxfull.114220885

We’re also sharing our favourite quotes and sayings that keep us at the page.  We would love *love* LOVE to hear your motivational sayings and go-to websites as well so please make sure you share them in the comments box.

Lots to enjoy this week…

Fi Recommends:

 

To leap, or not to leap...

Don’t let it overwhelm you.

How to Not Give Up On Writing a Book by Natasha Lester

On Writing and Giving Up by Ava Jae at Writability

How to Handle Rejection: Don’t Give Up! by Shari Stauch

Rejection: 3 Methods for Coping by Gotham Writers

Coping with Rejection by Literary Rejections

 

“The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing.”

Ken MacLeod

 

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Richard Bach

 

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

J.K. Rowling

 

d9bcf75d30e5c269c52b6bccb3b07ab4

“Success is not final…

Failure is not fatal…

it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Gabbie Goes To:

 

half-dome-918596_1280

Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life

Finishing Your Novel: Are We There Yet? by Sarah Price

How To Be Prolific:Guidelines For Getting It Done From Joss Whedon

A Mind of One’s Own created by Alison Manning

John Cleese on Creativity

Get It Done!

I love my sticky notes as much as I love my self-helps. This is above my desk. Pretty self-explanatory.

If not now, when?

The Harder The Struggle The More Glorious The Triumph

Triumph

Yanicke Likes:

 

…reminding herself that even successful writers started their careers with rejection and reading about their inspirational journeys to publication…

Rick Riordan's first rejection letter

Rick Riordan’s first rejection letter

… referring to sage advice on publishing and not giving up by those very same writers:

Never give up

there is no other choice…

… indulging in some feel-good reading and watching…

  • Yanicke’s favourite book on writing that always motivates her to write hard and never give up is Stephen King’s On Writing (Quotes from Stephen King’s On Writing).
  • Yanicke’s favourite movie about writers that always puts a smile on her face and reignites her passion for being a writer is The Wonder Boys.
The Wonder Boys

My favourite movie of all time 🙂

… remembering Maggie Stiefvater’s wise words on achieving success as a writer:

Here’s the thing about being a writer, or a musician, or an artist, or any sort of creative person. The ones who make it are the ones who make themselves do it. They’re the ones who practice even when it seems like they aren’t getting any better. They’re the ones who open up their work-in-progress when their friends are going out hey-are-you-coming-with-us — even if they know that this novel is not the one that will be good enough to get published, because they know that practice is the only way to get to the one that will be good enough to be published. They’re the ones who send out query letters and hear no and they send out more query letters and they hear no again and they send out query letters and they hear no again. They’re the ones that hear no as not yet and nothing is ever a failure, it’s only a complicating plot point in the arc of their life. They’re the ones who realize that there’s no point tricking your way into publication, because the point is to write something other people fall in love with; that’s what being a successful storyteller is. They’re the ones who are hungry for it. No, they’re the ones who are starving for it.

They’re a little unhinged.

Everyone else is everyone else.

and don't you forget it...

and don’t you forget it…

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Writing on the edge…

Earlier this week, Fiona posed a question to me and Gabbie: how do we pull ourselves off the writing cliff? In other words, when the rejections start rolling in, when the novel just doesn’t seem to be working, when it all seems too hard, how do we stop ourselves from giving up?

My first thought was wow what an interesting question. My second was how the hell do I answer that? I’ve never really thought about it before. And I think it comes down to one thing – giving up is not even an option for me because writing in itself is the reason I’m writing in the first place.

For years I dreamed of being a writer but never thought I’d be one. I was on a path of academia, chasing a traditional career. For me this meant I didn’t have much time for anything else, as when it comes to study I’m a bit of a psycho. I learned that from my mother. Growing up, I watched her pursue her dream of attaining university qualifications – this entailed her waking up at 2.00am in the morning and studying all the way to 5.00pm in the afternoon every single day. She was that dedicated (and of course her ultimate results reflected that dedication – she got straight 7s – which, to anyone not Australian, is the highest score you can get). So I grew up seeing there is no limit to hard work if you want to achieve something – and followed that example in my own endeavours.

I got my degrees (law and business) and my graduate diploma in legal practice, and set out on the next leg of my journey.

And then I realised it wasn’t enough.

I still wanted to be a writer. But lucky for me I was finally in a position to pursue this dream. So that’s what I did. And six years on I’m still chasing that rabbit down the rabbit hole.

Down the rabbit hole...

Somewhere down the rabbit hole…

Don’t get me wrong, there are times it gets tough. I’ve had my fair share of rejections and disappointments. I’ve realised my book is crap (excuse my French) more than once and doubted my abilities. But I’ve never given up. I’ve picked myself up and barrelled down the road again. I’ve wracked my brain for a fix to my broken novel and then rewritten it once, twice and then a third time for good measure (yes, to date I have four versions of my first novel – versions one and two being completely different, version three and four, revisions). I’ve resigned myself to the fact my novel might never be published, imagined up three other novels I’m desperate to write, and set myself to the task of completing my second book.

And you know what? Honestly, not once have I seriously entertained the idea of giving up. I’ve asked myself that age-old question every writer pursuing publication asks themselves at some time or another – if I knew I was never going to be published, would I still keep writing? – and answered in the positive.

And it’s not only because of all that stuff I wrote about up there  , it’s also because of all the amazing experiences I’ve had and all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way (and yes, Fiona, Gabbie, Karen and the very special Lorelle, this means you) :).

steep cliff

DANGER! Do not jump!

So, dear Fiona, to answer your question, that’s how I pull myself off the writing cliff – I remember the road I’ve travelled to get here, I recall the experiences writing has brought to my life and the things I’ve learned, I feel the joy creating and sharing my work instills within me, and I think of all the stories I have left to write.

I also keep in mind what’s over the edge of that cliff – a life without writing. To me, no existence could be sadder. A life without writing would be a life without colour, without dreams, without magic.

For me writing is like being in love – it’s forever. And in the immortal words of Dido:

I will go down with this ship.
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m a writer and always will be.

Signature

The ship I'm going down with...

Sometimes being a writer is like being on a ship in a storm…

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The 3 Sentence Challenge

the 3 sentence challenge

 

A while ago, the lovely Karen challenged Gabbie, Fiona and Yanicke to a fun challenge – post 3 sentences from the first 3 chapters of a work in progress. In this week’s post we are answering the challenge…

Yanicke

The MS I will be selecting sentences from is my historical paranormal YA novel, The Mark of the Cagairáin.

Ch 1: The lilt of fiddle music drifted on the night air, coiling around the tree trunks and tangling in their leaves. Aiden drew one hand through his hair, and with the fingers of his other, fiddled with the dirk on his belt. Mmm, those hands… I still couldn’t get over those hands.

Ch 2: I set my hands on my hips and hazarded a glance Breanna’s way. She was ogling me with the same look one would usually reserve for an insolent child who, against all evidence to the contrary, adamantly insists faeries are responsible for breaking the lamp. “Just because I want to do something, doesn’t mean I should do it.”

Ch 3: For a moment I couldn’t breathe; it was like she had punched me in the stomach and all the air had been forced from my lungs. I swallowed and glanced up at the sky; a flock of birds was spiraling high above us, a tornado of shiny black bodies and flapping wings. As though sensing my eyes on them, they broke their circle, shooting westward across the sky in pursuit of the sun on her ascent.

3 candles

~

Fiona

The sentences I’m sharing are from my NA contemporary romance, Life Without Clouds.

Ch 1 I drew seven lines through the sentence I had written, closed my eyes and imagined I was Winston Churchill. What would Winston do? Okay, Churchill was unlikely to have found himself in a red skirt, selling movie tickets and discretely working on a school assignment, but he was good at dealing with plans that go awry.

 Ch 2 “I can’t believe you triggered the alarm. Again!” Vivienne chuckled as she twisted her shoulder length blond hair into a messy bun.

Ch 3 It was just before midnight when we checked our jackets in at the cloak room at our favourite club, Deluxe. It was on the second floor of an old hotel called The Imperial and one of the few venues playing a great mix of alternative pop and indie dance music. The layout was pretty standard: dark corners you could people-watch from, a dance floor swirling in fake smoke under a sea of disco balls and flashing coloured lights, and big comfy couches along the walls that were extremely hard to sit in elegantly whilst wearing a short skirt.

3 butterflies

~

Gabbie

From my YA fiction called Downhill

Chapter 1

I could see Pop heading out from the shed. He was almost bald with this grey stringy hair circling around the bottom of his scalp like an old halo that’d fallen down. He was wearing his trademark King Gee overalls with a long sleeve check shirt underneath.

Chapter 2

This was the year that was going to be different. In the next few weeks I could have a crack at water skiing and for the first time ever I could get a suntan that wasn’t just panda eyes and red cheeks. I tried to feel excited about it, but all I could do was remember the knot of adrenaline that would curl up in my guts around this time of year – the anticipation of travel, competing, big snow and jagged mountains.

Chapter 3

Thunk.

The ball landed, dusting up a patch of dirt and rolling to rest against the fence. I was puffing as I ran to get it, but the endorphins wouldn’t come.

3 roses

~

So, there you have it – The Print Posse’s answers to the 3 sentence challenge.

We now pass the challenge on to you, our esteemed readers, to post something from your latest WIP in the comments below… WE DARE YA!

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