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This is a story about a book, well, three books really, and a boxed set, and dreams of riches and infamy, and it goes like this:

Once upon a time we had an idea, and another one, and another one, so we wrote ’em down and turned ’em into books, and people bought ’em, well, some people bought some of ’em, and I’m guessing they would have bought all of ’em if we had kept the dream alive.

But

Editing needed to be done

And time passed

And like all once upon a time stories, our dream disappeared into Netherland with Peter Pan and stayed a childhood fantasy forever

Until one day, reality hit. Dreams only become reality if you do the work.

Or, in Diver Smurf’s case, learn to swim.

Merinda’s Gold, Book 3 of our Cracker Mystery Series, is alive and swimming towards publication.

Anyone wanna buy a boxed set?

 

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I can’t wait for my copy of The Freedom Journal to arrive. Goal-setter is my new middle name now that I am totally reliant on my business for my income. Gulp!

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Anything and everything by Joanna Penn but this course is perfect for me right now as I scale up my business.

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I learn something new every day with Scrivener and Joseph Michel’s Learn Scivener Fast is indispensible.

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And finally, Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer, from his templates to his media kit and no his Book Planner. I haven’t tried his Book Launch Toolkit but I’m guessing that will be my next investment

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In The 1 Page Marketing Plan, Allan Dib defines marketing as the strategy for getting your ideal market to know you, like you and trust you enough to become a customer.

He talks about the strategy for selling elephants which if you want to know the whole then you need to buy the book because my paraphrasing could get a bit dodgy.

But basically it goes like this: advertising is saying that a circus is coming to town and it has an elephant, publicity is when the elephant escapes and the local media write a story about it, and promotion is when the mayor tells the story about the elephant escaping and squashing  the town’s prized dahlias when he opens the circus. A strategy is when you plan the whole thing.

And to think the elephant looks so innocent🌷🌷🌷

 

 

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KABOOM

 

A Cracker & Gilly Mystery

Outline

When Cracker and his friends, Trann and Bone, discover an old cache of fireworks in Aunt Marion’s shed they immediately set about detonating them and making as many big bangs as they can…and in their excitement they make a bang that can be heard all the way to the Bay. Immediately they know they are in trouble but what can they do? Hiding the damage, especially when what they’ve blown up is not only Aunt Marion’s jetty but several nearby oyster leases as well, is impossible and the best they can hope for is Aunt Marion’s understanding and if they’re lucky, her forgiveness. It may take them awhile but they may even be able to jimmy up a new jetty without too much trouble…well maybe…

Sitting amidst the debris of their explosion the boys are so engrossed in their design plans for a new jetty they fail to hear an approaching boat and the red faced anger of the man at the helm is more explosive than the fireworks they had set off. In fact, the man’s anger seems extreme considering it’s not his jetty they blew to smitherines. But with dawning horror they realize that he may very well be the owner of the oyster leases.

They wait for him to disembark and march them up to Aunt Marion and demand all kinds of adult explanations but instead he stays in his boat and when he’s finished his tirade – one the boys know they deserve – he guns his boat and zooms off…and it’s only after he is gone that his parting words sink in. Tell that crazy old hag that if she thinks she can intimidate him then she can think again. It will take more than a bunch of scrawny kids with a bucket of two-bit fireworks to scare the Great Exploder…and to tell their crazy aunt if she opens her big mouth then he will shut her up once and for all.

Gilly and Steph find the boys sitting on the riverbank looking more than a little disconsolate. And as usual it is the girls who take charge. They lead the way back to the shed where the boys found the fireworks and discover a treasure trove of paraphilia, and the boys immediately become engrossed in all the bits and pieces of interesting stuff in the shed, half of which they haven’t got a clue what to do with, but know their parents would call antiques.

The mystery…

Gilly isn’t interested in the gadgets and gizmos the boys have found. Her gaze goes immediately to the bunch of old newspapers and Woman’s Weekly’s from the 1970s. As she scans the collection she notices they are in date order and the dates span exactly one year. But when she finds a photo wedged amongst the collection she gasps aloud and everyone stops their rummaging to see what she’s found…she is holding what looks like a faded photo of Aunt Marion and a man called Davo, the photo is in sepia, and it’s Steph who identifies what Aunt Marion is wearing…a wedding dress of the olden days variety. She explains that back in the olden days women were feminists and didn’t wear white wedding dresses…they wore other stuff…but it’s definitely a wedding photo because of the way Aunt Marion and Davo are holding hands, with the camera focusing on their hands, and the gooey looks on their faces… which was odd, because as far as the children knew Aunt Marion was their crazy old aunt of the spinster variety.

What happened that turned Aunt Marion into a hermit? And where was this mystery man, Davo? Why had their parents never mentioned him? And why had the man down at the jetty been so very very angry?

Most intriguing of all is why did The Exploder think that Aunt Marion was trying to intimidate him? Anger at the mess Cracker and his team had made was understandable but to accuse Aunt Marion of anything as ludicrous as intimidation just didn’t make any sense.

Who is the Great Exploder and why is he so angry at their Aunt

STORYLINE

There was an event in the 1970s that had something to do with a fireworks accident. Aunt Marion’s Davo turns out to be a pyro-technician and he used to choreograph fireworks shows for big events all round Australia. When he came to Bateman’s Bay to do a big show (???) he fell in love with Aunt Marion but there were also shady dealings and someone was killed in an accident when the fireworks display went horribly wrong. After the accident Davo disappeared and everyone always thought he was guilty…especially when it comes to light that a huge sum of money was stolen from the local bank at the same time as the fireworks accident.

As punishment the boys have to build a new jetty and when a fair comes to town the boys hang around the boy who helps with the fireworks display and they learn about how to choreograph a fireworks show – they also learn about the rigorous training pyro-technicians have to go through and the safety considerations. They also realize that all the interesting gizmos and gadgets in Aunt Marion’s shed must have belonged to Davo and his fireworks displays…

Soon they start to ask questions about how Davo could have caused such an bad accident if he was so good…and they start to wonder about the man and the boat and his crazy threats to Aunt Marion…could the man know about Aunt Marion and Davo all those years ago…and why did he warn her to stay silent? Worse, what if she was in danger…

Meanwhile, Gilly is at work on the newspapers and magazines. And slowly she pieces together a story that proves Davo’s innocence…which means the real killer is still at large…

Soon, they are asking about the Great Exploder and how he managed to get enough money together to start his oyster lease business…was it him who stole the money and blamed Davo …

The mystery deepens…

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A lot of what I read online about writing stories focuses on churning out novels every few months and that the best form of marketing is writing more books.

It’s an interesting thought and one that I ponder as I pack for my latest research trip. In this age of frenetic writing should I just stay at home and google the information I need? Worse, youtube it?

Is the idea of the research trip, of hitting the road and walking in the steps of my characters, a quaint overhang of a bygone era?

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I’m at the historic Malanda Hotel on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland where my heroine meets her betrothed (he is but a short term hero as I kill him off eventually).

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The occasion is the arrival of the railway in 1911.

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As I stand in the echoing emptiness of what was once the  ballroom of the hotel I know that the decision to throw the kids and a tent in the car and head north to the Tablelands was the right one.

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i can already see my heroine dancing in the arms of her handsome beau, hear the swish of her crinoline frock as she sways in time to some inner waltz tune and feel the breeze drifting in from the balcony and hinting of the descent of another crisp Tablelands night – a night my heroine will always remember as the night she lost the only man she had ever truly loved.

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To prologue or not to prologue, that is the question…our middle grade novel, Dirt Busters, A Cracker & Gilly Mystery, was originally called, Old Bones, and was based on the bones of a WW1 aboriginal soldier and and an ancient burial site. The site was being turned into a housing development and Cracker and the gang were determined to stop this happening.

Despite rewriting the preface to our story a zillion times, I made an executive decision to cut it. That’s the advantage of being executive but my co-author is still mad…and that’s okay because our novels are based on sibling squabbles, and our co-aurthorship has more than its fair share – yep, exactly like Cracker and Gilly, and yep, Gilly always wins, sort of, because her creator is the one who makes the executive decisions in our co-authoring team. And Cracker always saves her because that’s what big brothers do.

And being an Indie author team, I figure we can always put the prologue back in one day, and change the name back to Old Bones…but here are the reasons I made the decision I did (yeh, I know, self-justification is no justification:))…

1. My beta readers – Yr 5 & 6 kids – wanted to get straight to the action

2. I’ve been following the prologue/no prologue debate for years and it seems the no prologue team always have good reasons not to prologue

3. I wasn’t confident of our material – I don’t know a lot about our aboriginal history

4. With the right research and help I can always include it in a future edition

5. It’s a great talking point in my writing workshops and my students always engage (maybe I’ll put it in our non-fiction writing book as a discussion point for writers)

6. I went with the old maxim, if in doubt leave it out…

7. Our publisher agreed with me

But I still like our prologue…as my co-author says, it has just the right amount of spookiness…what do you think?

 

PREFACE

 

THE night air was thick and pungent with wood smoke emanating from a fire built high above the tide line where a group gathered under the light of the full moon recently risen from the west.

It was a night like no other Tanjatjiri could remember and the thought made him uneasy. He sniffed at the air as he watched the men of the Wulbunga people dance the corroboree.

Namittitnan, middle-aged and spry, danced to the rhythm of the night, as did his son,Nappittitan, beside him. Karipcoycae and his son, too, danced and Tarijatjiri momentarily forgot his worries as his gaze rested on his own young son who swayed at the feet of his elders, ready to take his place amongst them although he was only seven.

These people looked up to Tarijatjiri, the men and boys of the Wulbunga, and as their leader, Tarijatjiri took his duties seriously, which was why on this night of dance he stood to one side and tried to understand what it was that made him uneasy.

Ochre outlines painted onto the skins of the dancers, with feathers attached by animal fat long horded, showed the care each man took to present himself to the “old ones”.

From his vantage Tarijatjiri could see the sea, the sky, and the land where the men danced and as he gazed around him there was nothing amiss. Yet still he was uneasy. The melodious ‘r’ rurr r’ rurr r’ rurr’ of the dozen didgeridoos played in time to the pounding of the surf as it crashed onto the beach added to his unease.

As the dancers clapped the flats of two nulla-nullahs together, the sharp ‘slap slap’ emphasizing the driving beat, Tanjatjiri turned back to the shadows where the sea met the sky and frowned.

And from deep within him came a guttural cry.

He began to run, his words of warning unable to compete with the ancient rhythms around him, of pounding feet and the fury of clapping wood sticks. It was the crescendo of the tribal dance and as Tanjatjiri ran his brain was filled with the sounds of the dancers, but still he heard it, above the sounds, louder than the sea and the earth combined, and he knew that his warning would come too late.

As the men of the Wulbunga tribe danced to a rhythm passed down from father to son for as long as Tanjatjiri could remember, the big wave struck.

 

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