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Times sure have changed. A research trip to hunt down archival material used to take me weeks of self-indulgent white-gloved hiding out in the dungeons of one or other of the State Libraries dotted around our vast coastline, turning page after fragile page of old journals, records and obscure newspaper accounts of little remembered historical happenings of interest only to the social history researcher intent on tracking down tidbits to add colour and vibrancy to their latest exotic fiction set in times long past. Stories packed in dusty boxes in the dungeons of libraries, bestowed to crusty keepers of the long forgotten tomes waiting to be repackaged to new audiences only if the writer did the legwork required to find, record and transform such tomes under the bespectacled gaze of the tome keeper – take off white cotton glove to wipe an eye teared over in joy or sorrow at life’s cruel ironies recorded in what is now considered an illegible scrawl but was once the fountain-tipped cursive of educated scribes of our yesteryears? Only if you’re really brave…

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Enter Trove – no need to leave the comfort of my study for all but the most intricate detailed research (like obscure newspapers that funding has forgotten and remain only on micro-film in the aforementioned State Library dungeons, caretakered by modern day bespectacled keepers of historical records who also, luckily in my case, have the forethought to view the modern digital record keeping methods with a touch of skepticism).

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I was chasing 1890s copies of The Wild River Times, tracking down social tidbits on Carrington, an old timber town of the Atherton Tablelands. The new digitalised system at the Library was unhelpful but my crusty bespectacled librarian came to my rescue. She had a PDF of all the old newspapers available on microfilm ‘just in case’. Lucky me!! I now get to spend the next few weeks in the dungeons of the State Library trawling through micro-filmed copies of 1890s Wild River Times in search of tidbits to bring the world of my Timber Cutter’s Daughter in Carrington, Atherton Tablelands, to life.

MIDWINTERBLOOD

In a blog post, titled ‘YA is not, nor should be, a genre’, Marcus Sedgwick says the following:

I have been witnessing a stream of books sent to me to review, or quote for, every single one of which was written in the first person present tense, with a certain breathless intensity of oh-my-weird-little-life.  Usually there’s cancer, death, divorce etc. thrown in to the mix. Let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with writing in the first person present in itself. Many good books have been written this way. Well, one or two, at least.

You can read the whole post at http://www.marcussedgwick.com, and while you’re there don’t forget to check out our latest favourite, ‘Midwinterblood’, winner of the Printz Award, 2014. It tells the story of love strong enough to withstand centuries, painted in seven brief vignettes that spiral backwards in time to a moment of sacrifice that tore two lives apart.

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halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit

there’s no other stair quite like it

it’s not at the bottom it’s not at the top

like Winnie The Pooh

it’s the stair where I stop

Every Saturday evening I put on my best 20-year-old Doc Martens, my red velvet waistcoat, fine double hunter Victoria hallmarkeked silver pocket watch and off I go to the Royal Hotel…(John, 76, The Sunday Mail, 8 March, 2015)

The letter from John in the Sunday paper had my long suffering daughter scratching through her wardrobe for ‘that velvet and lace stuff you bought at the op-shop’ – she drew a line at the Doc Martens – ‘Mum, I’ve got homework to do, you know.’ But I was determined. I wanted a picture for my blog and a balm for our Sunday drive picnic to the local waterfall gone wrong (sorry, Brisbane, but that ain’t no real waterfall). I wanted romance, dammit, and what could be more romantic than the image of an old gentleman dapperly adorned in a red velvet waistcoat and fob watch? Did I mention my current WIP is an historical romance set in the Far North Queensland tropics where real waterfalls reign?

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Picture the historic Malanda Hotel, a picnic and a grand ball to celebrate the arrival of the first train to ever grace the Atherton Tablelands from Cairns, the building thereof a masterly feat. The year is 1909. I have a setting, an era, a heroine in a lace ball gown and my hero? Yep, he dons a red velvet waistcoat and a silver fob watch. Shame about the Doc Martens but they’ll just have to wait for another story.

References:

Dressed In Fiction, Clair Hughes, 2005

the Australian Novel 1830-1980, John Scheckter, 1998

The Woman’s Historical Novel, Women British Writers, 1900-2000, Diane Wallace, 2005

I first came across Tim Grahl with his marketing book, Your First Thousand Copies: the Step-by-Step Guide To Marketing Your Book’.

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I followed him when he set himself a goal to sell 10,000 copies of his book in a year – The 10k Experiment – which he did (almost).

Now, he has an online training course, Instant Bestseller (visit http://www.outthink.com).

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I’ve been following Grahl’s blog for so long you think I would have taken some of his advice by now but…err…okay, I admit it, there may be a reason or three why I’m yet to crack the Bestseller list, or any list for that matter, and it’s called Marketing, or in my case, lack thereof. It seems my books aren’t going to sell themselves, at least sell enough of themselves to get on anyone’s list.

So I’m gunna do the course that promises to tell me how to sell my books.

But the question is which one…

This one?

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Anyone want to join me? Or you can just follow my blog as I set myself the goal selling some books.

My Island Girl

When to use a pseudonym:

1. When a famous romance writer has the same name as you.

2.  When you are about to publish a romance novel and someone famous already has your name and fame.

3.  When you’re trying to flog a literary fiction novel using your own name.

4.  When you’re trying to flog a literary fiction novel and a famous romance writer already has your name and fame.

5.  When you’re a middle-grade fiction writer who also writes romance.

6. When you are a teacher and all your students know you write middle grade fiction and you don’t want them to read the steamy parts.

7.  When your co-author thinks you’re working on the rewrites of middle grade fiction book number three and you’re slacking off doing rewrites on a romance novel that will cause you total humiliation if your students read it at Writers Club tomorrow.

Lucky we writers have huge egos and don’t care what anyone thinks, except the famous author with the famous name the same as yours, and the co-author who is also older brother and is bossy, and a gaggle of students who are gunna snigger when I walk around the playground for the next two hundred years.

Publish and be damned…

Melinda Hammond

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