Primary Instinct
 
the newsletter of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

 
 

Director's Welcome

DR_Photo

With the worst of the global financial crisis now supposedly behind us, here's hoping that most of you still have your jobs , are managing your mortgage and looking forward to Spring. We certainly are.

We were disappointed to learn that the Australia Council felt unable to support our publishing program this year, despite a list of titles that was our strongest yet. It wasn't news that I was willing to take sitting down, so, at the invitation of the Board Chair, I've written an Open Letter (see my Editorial below) that calls into question some of the assumptions about how OzCo is addressing its mandate, especially outside those areas traditionally viewed as Australia's cultural hub. I'm not holding my breath, but the issues are worth raising. If you agree with the Editorial, please don't hesitate to let Nicola Evans know!

With our final list of titles now in press, we're nothing if not proud of our achievements this year, with 25 new titles that will have appeared by year's end, several of them by first time authors that might otherwise not seen the light of day with the old school publishing houses. IP will continue to consider merit first and economics second in our publishing decisions.

I've been especially pleased by the reception our new imprint, IP Kidz, has found in the market. Several veteran authors have come to us – and stayed, once their first IP Kidz title was released. Are we offering them something that the established houses no longer do? I hope so, and I hope you'll re-pay their confidence by supporting IP Kidz where it counts: in the bookshops!

I'm looking forward to the launch of our first art book, Mum: speaking Latin with a singlet tan by Dale Kentwell, coming up on 3 September at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum. As I speak, we're also working on a film based on the book, staring Dale and her son Jarrah, who narrates the nuggets of text in the book.

We farewelled Brooke Butler, our promotions editor, recently. She's off to Swizerland with her parents for a stint, but we thank her for her persistance in getting the word about our titles out there, and managing itineraries for our many reading tours. Jeremy Green has returned to his studies after giving our digital networking program via Facebook & Twitter a shot in the arm. New staff you may meet include Assistant Editors Joanne Brennan, Katharine Schmeltzer and Stephanie Cairns – who have come to IP through UQ and QUT. Check back on our Contacts page for more information on them.

And don't forget the bargains in Your Deal, which we guarantee will keep you warm between now and the next newsletter.

Cheers!
David

Editor's Welcome

KimC

Welcome to the Autumn edition of our newsletter. I hope that everyone had an enjoyable and safe Easter weekend and that you’re all keeping healthy as we move into the colder months.

Personally, Autumn is my favourite season. I find that reading becomes a lot more enjoyable when you’re wrapped in a comfortable blanket with a nice hot cup of coffee/tea/chocolate sitting next to you. I’m sure that some of you out there will feel the same way and luckily we have some great reading to keep you company!

We have six excellent titles coming out in May and you’ll find interviews with four of those authors in our Focus section. There’s a great new kids title from Juliet Williams called The Giggle Gum Tree, a collection of stories from the hitchhikers of Australasia in Tom and Simon Sykes’ new book The Hitchers of Oz, L R Saul’s second novel, Sacrifice, is also on its way and last but not least World Cup Baby by Euan McCabe, the perfect book for all you World Cup fans! Along with those four titles we also have two new poetry titles: Liquefaction by New Zealand author Iain Britton and an anthology of science fiction poetry by New Zealand authors called Voyagers, edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones.

We catch up with some of our other authors to see what they’re up to. David will be coming down to Melbourne in May to launch The Giggle Gum Tree with Juliet Williams and Paul Jennings, more details about that can be found in the Out & About section. A tour of North Queensland with Ann Jones and Eugenie Navarre is also in the works, dates to be confirmed. So keep your eyes open because something could be happening in your area.

As always this issue of eNews is jam-packed with information, updates, feature articles, reviews and a great ‘How-to’ for the budding writers out there.

Unfortunately this will be the last newsletter that I will be sending out for IP. It’s a shame to be leaving but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and am thankful for the wonderful editors and writers that I have been able to work with and meet. I’d like to thank David for the great opportunity, I have learnt so much. It’s great to see independent publishers out there and giving writers opportunities to have their work shown.

Stay safe, keep warm and keep reading!

Enjoy!
- Kimberly

 

FEATURED ARTISTS

 

LibbyHath

Libby Hathorn's Zahara's Rose gives us a fresh perspective on historic Iran, and Doris Unger's illustrations are fantastic!
read more >

IainB

Iain Britton's latest poetry collection Liquefaction will be showcased in IP's October New Zealand tour
read more >

DaleK

Dale Kentwell's book Mum is an art book with a difference because her son Jarrah (pictured here) has narrating the text in it for a upcoming IP film!
read more >

JulietW

Juliet Williams was Stage Centre in Victoria on a mini tour of her first picture book The Giggle Gum Tree
read more >

GoldieA

Fresh from the release of her latest IP Kidz title, Hedgeburners, Goldie Alexander tells all about writing mysteries for kids.
read more >

TimJ

Tim Jones is one of the editors behind Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand will figure prominently on an IP tour to New Zealand in mid-October.
read more >

 

 

 

 

 

 

LibIdol

"Librarian Idol" performs @ the Somerset Conference, where David gave a talk on
Digital Futures in Publishing.
Note the healthy finger food!

 

GoldieA

Goldie Alexander wows the kids at Garden City Library (Brisbane) during the Lame Duck Protest tour. The obligatory child model is Alexander Reiter

 

      
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Editorial

[Editor's Note: This was a letter sent to Nicola Evans at the Australia Council on the occasion of IP not receiving a grant this year.]

I'm writing to you on invitation of Susan Hayes, who suggested my views might be helpful for your next Board meeting. You'll forgive me for my bluntness, but the time for gentle diplomacy has passed.

As you know, IP was very disappointed by our failure to gain support for our application under your Publishing grants program, for the first time in eight years.

While grateful for all past support provided by the Board to us, I have to say that we do not feel the system, as presently constituted, has given us proper consideration, given the quality of IP's publishing program, our industry-leading innovation in the area of digital composing and publishing, our strong commitment to marginalised forms such as poetry, and our continuing support for emerging and regional authors. Even when the Board expressed more enthusiasm for our nominated list - on two occasions supported ALL the nominated titles but only funded two - there has been a sense of token rather than substantial support in the funding provided.

Our location – Brisbane – places us at a distinct disadvantage in keeping our activities before the Board between grant applications. We are constantly stretched for resources, so it is simply not possible for us to lobby and network with the Board other than by means of email and phone calls. On the other hand, we are disappointed that we receive so little contact from the Board, given its mandate to support all publishers, not just those located in Melbourne and Sydney.

There seems to be an assumption that everything important in the publishing industry is happening in the larger centres, and if the health of these centres is maintained, then the health of the industry as a whole will be assured. That assumption is wrong.

An obvious example of this has been the Board's activities in the digital area, where it has relied on "experts" in digital publishing from the major centres and overseas rather than approaching IP, which is leading the way in the local industry, for input. A notable exception was the Story of the Future session two years ago where I was invited as a featured speaker. I was told thereafter I would be involved in developments after that, but I have not been consulted or invited to subsequent sessions. Out of sight, out of mind? Much has happened at IP in the digital area since then, but how aware of these developments is the Board? IP has made amazing strides entirely out of its own resources, and we could be doing much, much more, if we had ongoing support from OzCo.

OzCo's centrist focus only serves to maintain the status quo and does not allow decentralisation of funding support to the regions, where an increasing number of authors - and readers - reside. The Board needs to do much more to assist enterprises in the places where publishing faces greater challenges but is nonetheless crucial to developing a vital cultural scene across the country. Policy pronouncements are fine, but concrete and substantial support is required.

Our view is that the current peer review model for deciding grants discriminates against regional publishers. It only stands to reason that "peers" will tend to favour publishing companies that they know in the first instance, and that regional enterprises will always have to work harder to have their list seriously considered. One only has to look at the list of small independents supported by the Board over the last few rounds to see that almost all are located in either Melbourne or Sydney.

The Board needs to review this process, and to consider carefully the implications of supporting Melbourne/Sydney publishers at the cost of regional enterprises, given the changing demographic of this country. The Board should be making a greater effort to support regional independents as a matter of priority, and not just through the Presentations Program, but by other means of ongoing support. 

Surely, when a publisher like IP has been in business for 13 years and has gained a national and international reputation for producing quality literary titles, as well as proving itself as an innovator in the new technologies, we deserve better treatment than we received this year.

We are not owned by a multi-national. We are not associated with a university. We are staffed by dedicated individuals who believe in the IP model and who receive little or no compensation for their efforts. But we all have bills to pay, and a "living" to make. You reach a point when dedication and commitment wear thin, especially when we see that our national funding body is indifferent to our needs and those of our authors. That point has been reached. It is not enough to be told that we are valued and that next year we may do better – when there may not be a next year. 

We need an ongoing financial commitment from the Board, and we need it now. This letter will appear as an Open Letter in the next issue of IP eNews, as well as on our Facebook site, and I invite the Board to respond to it.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Deathknell of Bookshops?

[Recently we issued a media release on the issue of parallel importation, in which David Reiter expressed his views on the Productivity Commission’s Report that would see the end of territorial restrictions on the importation of books. David’s comments are summarised here.]

What Alan Fels and his colleagues don’t realise is that deregulation will force the hand of Australian publishers to take drastic action to protect their margins. IP is already simplifying their supply chain by selling titles on Amazon and other online sites world-wide.

The new publishing model followed by IP is already seeing physical distributors and bookshops largely bypassed in favour of digital channels.

We can now produce a master and upload it to online distributors anywhere in the world, and, with the click of a button, make our books available for new generation eBook readers like the Kindle and iPhone in print and audio formats. People who prefer physical books can still order them online and have them supplied from quality print on demand companies that can produce books economically one at a time.

The big advantage for independent publishing houses like IP is that the new model will eliminate costs like warehousing, physical distribution and freight. We upload the title to the territory where we want to sell it and orders are filled as they come in. The online distributor handles all the paperwork, and we get guaranteed compensation with each sale.

IP is keen to see the new Espresso Book Machine spread in Australia like wildfire. In its current form The Espresso can produce a finished paperback book in less than five minutes from an ATM-like machine. There’s no reason why Espressos can’t be located in coffee shops, libraries or next to banking ATMs. Bookshops and physical distributors could become irrelevant.

We’d like to see a more measured approach to the issue of parallel importation. But we really think that bookshops have more to lose than to gain by forcing the issue.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

IP Picks 2010

Now entering its ninth year, the annual IP Picks Awards are on again, with the usual opening date for entries of 1 October and the closing date of 1 December. As usual, the competition will be blind-judged this year, which means that emerging authors have a better chance of competing with their more established counterparts.

The Awards are open to citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand. Check out the Picks website for details on past winners from the inception of the competition.

This year, we’ve added a new category for Best Junior Fiction or Non-fiction work. The winner is guaranteed full royalty publication under our IP Kidz and/or IP Digital imprints. Depending on the standard of entries, we may well offer publication to the best fiction and non-fiction entries.

So this year the categories will be:

Best Fiction
Best Creative Non-Fiction
Best Poetry
Best Junior Fiction / Non-fiction
Best First Book

You can enter more than one category with the same manuscript (an additional fee applies).

WobblesLast year, we offered entrants the option of requesting a Short Report assessment at a reduced rate when they apply and pay for it with their entry fee. This proved to be quite popular, so we will be offering this as an option again. The discounted rate is $199 (normal rate is $249).

There’s still plenty of time to get those gems polished before the deadline, so get to it!

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Focus

Lauren Daniels interviewed Nadine Neumann about her upcoming memoir Wobbles.

LD: According to several sports icons, including John Konrads and Duncan Armstrong, and the IP Picks judges, Wobbles is no ordinary sporting memoir. This narrative spans the growth of an athlete from a young girl into a fierce, Olympic competitor; but it also brings something else to the reader. How would you describe the additional elements that make this book more holistic and appealing for a wide audience?

Nadine_NeumannNN: WhenI began writing Wobbles I knew that I wanted to write a story, not just an account of my trials and triumphs in the pool. I wanted to capture the voice of the little girl with a dream, the angry teenager facing obstacles, the maturing young woman on a mission and the lost soul at the end of her career. I wanted these voices to speak directly to the audience so they could learn and grow and experience the journey along with Nadine. So I employed all the literary skills I had learned through my love of literature and my English teaching to try to bring this story to life. It is honest; the language reflects the character ateach stage of development and the structure takes the reader into the world of the competitor in a way that I believe is quite unique for a sports memoir. My swimming journey was not one that ended in the glorious victories that so often characterise such memoirs and I believe that this very fact enables the reader to connect with the story in an intimate way, a way that I hope will shed some light on their own situations.

LD: An Australian breaststroke swimmer in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, you are now a successful educator and motivational speaker. Wobbles reflects a desire to encourage not only the next generation of athletes and their families, but anyone with a dream. Tell us about the memoir’s themes of setting goals and pursuing dreams against the backdrop of harsher realities.

NN: My ‘little girl dream’ of going to the Olympic Games was innocent of the trials ahead and I am so grateful that my parents, no matter how amused they were by my ideas at the time, never dampened my enthusiasm. If I had said that I wanted to be an astronaut or a dancer or a collector of bugs they would have supported me and I think this is the most important ingredient in making a dream come true – someone to believe in you when you forget how to believe in yourself. I faced some enormous obstacles and I sometimes doubted that pursuing my dream was really worthwhile, but with the help of my family I was able to reassess my goals, adjust them, break them into manageable ‘baby steps’ and get back on track. And in the end, despite perhaps not achieving my ultimate dream, I was able to realise that the strength, discipline, self-confidence and courage that I had developed as a result of all those years of striving was reward enough. I guess that’s why I’m now pursuing a new dream – the journey is always worth the effort in the end.

LD: One of the most substantial themes of this book wrestles with contemporary definitions of success. At a time when achievement can be associated with material, fleeting or superficial qualities, what are some of the deeper messages you would like readers to consider?

NN: So often the people we look up to as role models are the superstars that achieve things beyond many of our wildest dreams and when mere mortals fall short of those lofty ambitions, we can be left feeling cheated, or worse still, like a failure. It took me a long time to learn that success is about striving and growing and fearlessly looking challenges in the face regardless of the outcome. It is this message that I hope readers will take from my story: the idea that striving for a beautiful, exciting goal, no matter what it may be, is worthwhile for its own sake. Whatever riches, accolades or fame may come is icing on the cake, but just being there and giving it a shot is what really makes you a success. It can be hard to remember this when the media only reports on the ‘winners’, when ‘losers’ are chastised and threatened with being dropped from their teams, when the big sponsorships go to the record-breakers and when the only pictures in glossy magazines are of the ‘golden’ girls and boys. But I believe the people who are always there, doing their best, working on improving themselves, are the true heroes. They are the people I cheer for.

LD: You mentioned that Wobbles is the product of ten years of writing and editing. What has drafting and revising been like for you? How have you managed to get through the endurance trials of creating a good, solid story? 

NN: Drafting and re-drafting has been an amazing experience. Initially my writing was a purging process, an opportunity to vent all my frustrations, past hurts and demons. What emerged was extremely cathartic, but completely unreadable! I put this first draft aside for almost two years before I braved a second shot at it and I was amazed to find how much my view of events had changed with a little distance. Over the next eight years I found that each time I revisited the book, I learned something new about myself. I was able to heal deep wounds and find a sense of peace and satisfaction with my achievements. It has almost been as though refining my self-indulgent, sentimental drivel into a solid, entertaining read has allowed me to shape a clearer perspective on my personal history. The last phases of editing with the help of some amazing critical readers has taught me an enormous amount about writing and I’ve realised how much I still don’t know about the art! Overall, it has been challenging and at times overwhelming, but like every great dream, it has been worth every minute.

LD: As a wife and mother living in the western suburbs of Newcastle in New South Wales, what were some of the writing resources which supported you through this process? Have you got any tips for writers?

NN: I’ve received an enormous amount of help from the New South Wales Writers Centre through their mentorship program, short courses and newsletters. I’d recommend every writer connect with their local writers’ centres. I have also drawn great inspiration from writers who have shared their approaches to the craft. Books like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing by Stephen King and Finding the Secret River by Kate Grenville have reminded me that even the masters get blocked, feel unsure, face rejection and self criticise to the point of despair. I’m also often pressed for time with a busy one year-old to keep entertained, so I do most of my writing in my mind on car trips, during feeding time, while preparing dinner or folding nappies. And when silence finally descends upon the house and I find myself paralysed by the inner critic, I try to remember that the important thing is to get something down, anything down, because you can always fix it later... either before or after your critical readers have told you that it needs ‘a bit’ of work!

LD: Writing a memoir often alters the way we perceive ourselves. How has writing Wobbles changed the way you see yourself, your journey and the people around you?

NN: Wobbles has changed everything. I have been forced to recognise and change destructive thought and behaviour patterns. I have been challenged to see my life from an outsider’s perspective. I’ve learned to appreciate the gifts and the trials in equal measure and I feel that my life is so much richer for it. I have realised that there is no hurt that cannot be healed with the right help and that gazing at one’s navel long enough does indeed reveal profound truths, metaphorically speaking! I have found my new passion, a path I can envisage treading for the rest of my days, and I have been given the chance to pursue my writing with the unwavering support of family and friends. But best of all, my publisher proved that miracles do happen – when the world told me that a book about an unknown swimmer would never find a place on the shelves, IP came along and said ‘Yes’.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Lauren Daniels also had the chance to chat to Josh Donellan of the upcoming release A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India.

LD: With dashes of the comic, tragic, romantic and even the thriller, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India has it all. Where did you get your ideas for such a playful and complex novel?

JD: I believe art should, in some capacity, reflect real life, and real life cannot be pigeon-holed as a ‘comedy’ ‘thriller’ ‘romance’ or ‘tragedy’, although God only knows my own life has more than enough of the latter. The idea was to construct something that reflects portions of the full gamut of human experience as I’ve perceived it thus far. Of course, occasionally I’d get stuck for ideas and just raid people’s live journal entries. I’m pretty sure that’s how Hemingway wrote most of his books, too.

LD: Also a poet, artist, musician and teacher, you had many sources from which to draw your inspiration for the novel. How do some of your other creative areas colour the narrative?

JD: Music definitely features heavily in the novel. I occasionally work as a music journalist for 4ZZZ Radio, mostly so I can casually mention this fact at parties and in interviews to delude people into thinking that I’m slightly cooler than I actually am.

I love the idea of describing music, and the fact that readers will all imagine their own version of that song. I think that’s something special about stories told in books that separates them from film or theatre. The reader’s imagination is guided, rather than dictated. It’s like they are a partner in the creative process of their own version of the story.  But I’m not giving anyone else co-writing credits so don’t bother asking. Write your own damn book!

LD: Starting in Australia and traversing Indian locations like Goa and the snowy northern mountains, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India is imbued with a deep love for India. What were some of your own personal experiences of India that beckoned you to write this story?

JD: I ended up in India completely by accident, so it was strangely fitting that I started writing this book accidentally as well. I was on my way to Japan to teach English, and then with my usual complete absence of logic decided I’d just hop over to India afterwards, but there were no decent connecting flights so I just decided to skip Japan. At the time I was in the process of writing a fictional autobiography of a young rock star who slowly goes mad. I was trying to write about western metropolitan landscapes whilst being surrounded by jungles and mountains and it just wasn’t working.

One afternoon I was sitting on the roof of a hotel in Leh, playing guitar and gazing out at the mountains and felt the urge to pick up a pen. I threw down the sketch for the first chapter in a tattered notebook sitting on the roof as the sun set behind the Himalayas. It was all very poetic, but I haven’t got pictures to prove it so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

A couple of the characters are very loosely based on real people. Sabine is based on a strange and marvelous Austrian girl named Anna that I met whilst working at Mother Teresa’s in Kolkata. She was very unimpressed when I told her that I had changed her character into a German.

Also the scene at the end with the snow leopard (did I just give something away? Should I have said *spoiler alert?*) is actually based on an experience I had in Malaysia about five years ago where I was wandering around in the jungle and I came face-to-face with a tiger that very graciously decided not to devour me. It was an unforgettable moment. I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m a little too young to die, but at least this is an interesting way to go.’

True story. Well, you know, as true as you can expect from a fiction author right?

LD: Since some of the book is based on your travels through India, are there any similarities between yourself and your main character, Levi? Differences? What do you find most likable about him?

JD: There’s plenty that I like about Levi, whereas there’s very little that I find likable about myself. Certainly the sardonic tone he employs is something that reflects the way I sometimes talk. Levi has the advantage though, I spent hours poring over each and every line of his dialogue trying to make it witty and hilarious. Can you imagine how witty I would be if I could pause conversations to compose droll replies? I would be the comeback king. God, high school would have been a hell of a lot more enjoyable…

LD: It seems that when a person travels in India, they need to have a certain ‘roll with it’ attitude towards whatever comes their way. Levi begins to learn this valuable philosophy through the fiasco of his circumstances at the start. How does this lesson permeate the book? How does it, in general terms, change Levi?

JD: I think the fact that he loses everything is what really liberates him. It’s like when it starts raining and you’re worried about getting wet, but then once you get soaked it doesn’t even matter anymore. Because he’s got nothing to connect him to his old life: no possessions, no partner, no employment, it liberates him to slowly let go of his inhibitions and immerse himself in this new experience. I traveled around India with a Buddhist friend, and the whole idea of material possessions being meaningless and death being a doorway to a new experience was very much influenced by what I gleaned from spending time hanging out in temples with Buddhist monks.

I had one particularly incredible experience where I got to witness a kalachakra ceremony, where these monks spent a week constructing an incredibly intricate sand mandala and then they just threw it in the river. The idea is to symbolise that no matter how beautiful a thing may be, nothing lasts forever.

Afterwards they all threw buckets of water at us. I’m not sure if this was really part of the ceremony, or if they just thought that saturating a bunch of sunburnt tourists would be a good way to unwind after a hard week’s mandala making.

LD: A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India contains great themes like love and loss, identity and spirituality; but at the same time, it has a brilliant sense of humour. Levi’s wit and self-effacing outlook balance the themes beautifully and make this a very approachable book. How would you describe the humour of this novel? What would you say is in store for your readers?

JD: To be honest I’d rather not dictate to people what to expect from this book, I’ll leave that to Oprah. I’m really looking forward to hearing what people take away from it, and hoping that there is a wide range of responses.

This book is highly varied, and I don’t just mean in terms of narrative. I mean, you could use it as a paperweight, a doorstop, kindling, or even as a short-range projectile. You can’t say that about War and Peace, now can you? I can barely lift that thing, let alone throw it with any degree of accuracy.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Lauren caught up with Dale Kentwell, author of the recently released Mum: Speaking Latin with a Singlet Tan.

LD: Your paintings are a personal story of your time in the outback with your family, what inspired you to make them into a book?

DaleKDK: I guess it wasn't until I began painting the images, as they are, that they naturally developed into a story...The image is with you for a long time in the painting process so the narrative developed from just watching. I liked the way the narrative further developed the images and from that point a story was born. Words belong in books.

LD: What is the reasoning behind the title?

DK: I guess in reflection the title is deeply rooted in my own childhood. With a horticulturist father and florist mother. I grew up on a bush property, with a farm and a nursery. My parents worked hard; they even had singlet tans and spoke Latin (the botanical name of the plants). It’s funny how these things come back. In my life time I have developed a passion for the Australian bush and its conservation and promoting the value of remnant vegetation. Mums don’t get much time to secure an all over tan anyway.

LD: I find it intriguing that you have painted yourself and the Australian fauna in detail throughout the book yet the children have very little detail or facial expressions, why is that?

DK: That hadn't really occurred to me, however, children are born very beautiful and uncomplicated. I guess it is perhaps symbolic of the lack of baggage they carry.

LD: You spent sixteen months traveling in the outback where you must have experienced and seen a lot of different things. How did you choose what aspects of your time in the outback to represent in the book?

DK: I did a lot of drawing during the time away and I guess that in itself is a selective process. From these preliminary sketches just add imagination, research, collective consciousness, myths, universal pondering, artistic license and a bit more imagination, lots of time (when the kids are at school), and a painting is born.

LD: In a few paintings your expression is of deep sadness, but yet you are surrounded by this beautiful landscape, is there a reason for this?

DK: I'm not sure how to answer that… Perhaps I'm just tired...

LD: The artworks cover a range of images; from you passed out on the beach, to giving birth in the bush. Did you find it difficult to find the right words to support your emotion and meaning behind each of the artwork?

DK: Not really, I suppose I wanted to create a sort of edginess in further developing the images. The narrative came easily. I had an idea of the themes and issues I wanted to address throughout the series of work, so it flowed relatively easily.

LD: What do you hope people feel when they read your book?

DK: I guess people react differently according to their own history. I would hope people could get a little chuckle. That usually makes you feel good.


 

 

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L

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Pitching with Style

[As well as assisting with IP's promotional activities, Laura Simpson works for The Sunday Mail, so she knows what the media wants, and that's why we asked her to give you a few pointers about writing a good media release.]

“Harmony seldom makes a headline.”
– Silas Bent, American journalist

We all know the phrase “sex sells”. It sells because it’s exciting, it’s what people want and it makes others sit up and take notice. For this the media can be your best friend, whether it be print (newspapers and magazines), broadcast (television and radio) or online.

But, first, you need to get the media to notice you. And to get noticed, you need to be worth noticing.

There are many different ways of writing a media release for a book, and it all depends on who you are pitching it to. You can aim for a news story or a feature, or you can aim for a review, but very rarely will the same release suit more than one angle. A release can be adapted for various markets, but remember to make it relevant to whom you are sending it. It is pointless pushing a Sydney social scene to a Western Australia country radio station, and don’t bother asking a Hobart paper to run a story on a Brisbane school student winning a local competition. Make it relevant to them and their readers or viewers.

A release requesting a review of your work can seem very straightforward, almost like a CV: you outline the story, the themes and the author’s previous credits, stick a a printout in the review copy and away you go! But what will make this book stand out from the dozens or even hundreds being pitched that week to the reviewer? You still need a unique pitch.

Of course, to get your name out past the review pages, you need a good news angle. So the first question you should ask is, “Why should I be on the 6pm news and not some other author?”

A good media release will be written like an article, so that it’s easy for a journalist to pick up and use. The release may be printed as is, with little or no changes, so it’s essential to make sure it’s correct. The first line should be punchy and catch the reader’s attention. As is the case with a publishing house’s ‘slushpile’, it will probably be read by an assistant or clerk before possibly being passed on to the most relevant journalist – if the first line is catchy.

The first paragraph should detail the news angle and the title of the book. The second paragraph should go into more detail about the book or the author, and back up what has already been said. Only put in the relevant information. There is no need to say where you went to high school or what you wore to your book launch, unless it’s relevant to the story. Otherwise, they won’t care!

Make sure you put your contact details at the top and bottom of the release. You’d be amazed how many people forget to include a contact phone number!

Once you have written the release, call the newspaper/magazine/radio station/television station and find out the best person to send it to. Get the name, email and direct phone number of the contact if you can. Send through the release, copied into the body of an email and also attached as a Word or PDF file, so that it is easily accessible to the journalist. Wait for an hour or two, then make a quick call, checking they received the release. A senior journalist will receive over a hundred releases a day – the key is to make yours stand out!

If you do get an interview, prepare and relax! Find out a bit about the paper or program interviewing you and read or watch a couple of other interviews. Be confident, and don’t be ashamed to plug your work – in this industry you need to be pushy! If the interview is live or being recorded, mention the name of your book several times, as well as the name of the publisher and where to get the book. Remember that not everyone will listen or watch your interview from the start, or to the end.

As Cyril Connolly, an English literary critic once said, “Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be read once.” Remember, it’s not news if it’s been heard before. You will only get one shot, so make it count!

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How I Set About Writing Mystery Novels for Kids

You have only to visit bookstores and libraries to know how popular crime is. I think there are several reasons for this; firstly the structure of any crime story, much like those folktales read to us when we were young, is ultimately satisfying. The crime novel posits a bad deed that must be solved before the end of the book. The wicked are always found out and vanquished. I had already written two ‘cozy’ mysteries for adults and similar to the Enid Blyton novels I read as a child about the Famous Five, and I was interested in creating two present day youngsters capable of bringing wrong-doers to justice.

If the major difference between children’s and adult mysteries is the age of the protagonists, the conventions are similar: order is disturbed and then restored, and the ending is a confrontation between hero and villain. But finding a suitable plot is more difficult. The stuff that makes up most adult crime - murder, incest, rape, larceny, kidnapping - isn’t suitable for kids.

Melbourne is noted for its wonderful gardens, many protected by precious old cypress hedges. In both 2000 and 2009 some drew the attention of young firebugs. As I searched for a suitable topic, a newspaper report caught my eye: “Arsonists are believed to have caused fires that damaged two cypress hedges within a kilometer of each other in Melbourne’s south-east early Hedge_covyesterday. Firefighters were called to a blaze at 4am after a 100 year old hedge was fired. Twenty minutes later, a woman and her baby were lucky to escape a similar fire in another suburb.” When the arsonists were finally uncovered they turned out to be young middle class males. It was these incidents that finally inspired Hedgeburners: An A~Z PI Mystery. (An Anna and Zach Private Eye Mystery)

Now I needed to create my characters. In adult crime, detectives can either be professional (Hercule Poirot) or amateur (Ms Marple). They have some trait that makes the reader feel empathy both for him and the dilemma the crime has produced. I needed a leader and a follower to play off against each other. I turned my leader into thirteen year old Anna (A) and her sidekick Zach (Z) also aged thirteen, who tells the story. As more quirky characters would provide subplots, I added Ruby the wrestler, Brett the journo, and a pet rat called M. All do their part in solving the mystery of Who is setting fire to the old cypress hedges in Anna’s suburb.

Probably the most important element in writing is the axiom: Show, don’t tell. In terms of characterisation, it can mean that instead of writing a paragraph of description, to use key phrases and relate them to the action. Ruby gave her volcanic laugh… The overhead light glinted off Dad’s head... Under his leather jacket, his biceps bulge and his long nose and beady eyes remind me of a pelican… Zach compares most people he meets with animals; his next door neighbour Diana is a sexy-stick-insect, Ruby is a baby hippo. Brett is a red eyed mongoose. In this I was helped by the wonderful illustrator Marjory Gardner whose witty drawings appear throughout the text.

Dialogue also helped create characters. A mystery is basically ‘talking heads’ as the young detectives interviewed various suspects and chased clues. Witnesses often refused to talk, so that provided necessary conflict. Some of the best dialogue written by Stephen King has his villains speak in verb-less sentences ‘Where you going?’ But as this was writing for children, instead I hinted that certain words were mispronounced and my adults spoke differently. In a children’s mystery there was the added problem that grown-ups presented an extra hurdle by just ‘putting up’ and at some point, these young sleuths had to be told to back off because the job was too dangerous.

Stories with amateur detectives are frequently written in the first person. The advantage of using first person is immediacy. Very early in the book, I had to give the reader a chance to identify with the protagonist and my way of doing this was to ‘get inside Zach’s head’. As I intended this to be a series, the reader had to not only like Zach and Anna but to go on liking them through several books. Also, I wanted the reader to be a step or so behind these youngsters, so that when the solution came, the reader said, ‘Of course!’ and wasn’t too bemused by the outcome.

In a classic mystery, there is a small circle of suspects. In Hedgeburners the characters all live in one small suburb as there are past connections. The basic point of the mystery is the use of logic; the reader must want to match wits with the detectives. My youngsters couldn’t just stumble on the villain – they had to be seen to detect and the novel’s structure had to permit this. Which brought me to the most important rule of writing crime; the criminal had to be seen or mentioned in the first three chapters. The detective could be fooled by false clues, the plot could go back and forth, but that rule couldn’t be changed.

There’s lots of thinking and running around in a whodunnit, sometimes in the detective’s head, sometimes in dialogue, sometimes as action, and it’s hard to keep that interesting, so I split up the information, inserted lots of red herrings to lead the reader astray, gave one vital piece of information early on and held the rest until later.

When it came to style and pacing, I decided that things should seem to take almost as much time as they seemed to take in real life. However, there was the impetus to keep things interesting and that is where subplots were useful. In Hedgeburners, Zach is in a constant quandary: he has to look after his large aviary and hand in homework so his father’s threat to sell his birds if his next report isn’t better, won’t happen. In this he is opposed by Anna who is only interested in finding the criminal and bringing him to justice. In any confrontation between protagonist and villain, the good guy should seem to be winning, then the bad guy should gain the upper hand, much the same way it’s done in the movies. Zach and Anna find themselves in constant conflict with their suspects and often narrowly escape being hurt.

Finally, one of the important elements in compelling writing is the use of contrast. In any action scene I placed lots of short sentences and avoided long descriptions. I tried to keep the writing short, snappy and above all, funny.

Goldie Alexander

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IP Kidz Update

With two new titles about to hit the shelves, IP Kidz is certainly buzzing!

ZR_covZahara’s Rose, a picture book by Libby Hathorn and Doris Unger, takes us back to the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, for whom young Zahara undergoes a long journey with a precious gift for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It’s a timely reminder of the proud cultural history of Iran.

Goldie Alexander’s second title with IP Kidz is Hedgeburners: An A~Z Mystery, a junior novel in which young detectives succeed where the police fall short in investigating who’s behind the burning of Melbourne’s historic hedges. Marjory Gardener provides some delightful line drawings, following her excellent work in Di Bates’ Aussie Kid Heroes.

mum_covWorth mentioning, too, although IP Kidz is not the imprint, is Dale Kentwell’s art book Mum: speaking Latin with a singlet tan. It’s about motherhood and mothering in the Outback, where Dale spent three years with her three children painting and reflecting on life. The 27 paintings are accompanied by witty snippets of text that will have you smiling – certainly not your typical fine art catalogue!

A new picture book, Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots, by Mark Carthew, illustrated by UK-based Mike Spoor, is now in press. Originally published by Scholastic, in its second edition the book has been refined in its use of riddles and rhymes to stimulate young readers into a love of poetry and word play. A second picture book by the same pair, Witches, Britches, Itches & Twitches! is scheduled for release in the first half of 2010.

Now at illustration stage are Hazel Edwards’ Plato, the Platypus Plumber, illustrator John Petropoulos; Edel Wignell’s Long Live Us (Peter Allert) and Christine’s Matilda (Elizabeth Botté); and Robert Moore’s About Face (Monkeystack Studios).

For our international readers, all of our IP Kidz titles are available for order via Amazon and most fine bookshops, real and virtual. Your waiting time will be very short since the titles are printed via Lightning Source and BookSurge in North America and Europe, and supplied to retailers on demand.

Finally, we're pleased to announce that Global Cooling, the second book iGlobal Coolingn David Reiter's Project Earth-mend series of junior environmental novels, has joined the first book, The Greenhouse Effect, on the South Australian Premier's Reading Challenge for 2010! We're quietly optimistic that GC will join GE on the Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge soon!

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IP Digital Buzz

With the addition of our first Assistant Editor, Multimedia Titles, Stephanie Cairns, we're hoping to clear up some of the backlog of digital work. Stephanie has plunged right in to the Mum short film projects , and she'll also be involved with our podcast series, which has been hibernating over the winter until we had more time to devote to it.

David has been working with Essential Crew and MonkeyStack to form a game plan for securing funding for the first of the Project Earth-mend animated feature films. The next step will be to compose a pilot short film as a proof of concept for funding agencies like Screen Australia. No one said that making a film is something that happens overnight!

After the positive reception of our first collaborative project with the Queensland Narrating Service with Put the Billy On, we've signed a deal with QNS that will see more audio productions. Coming soon to an mp3 player near you will likely be Primary Instinct.

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MumCurrently in production in-house is Mum: Speaking Latin with a Singlet Tan, based on a series of brilliant paintings by Sydney artist Dale Kentwell from her 18-month stint in the Outback. Phase 1 will see a print book going to press for release in September, with a short film from IP DIgital to follow by the end of the year. Dale’s young son Jarrah provides some engaging voice-overs, with film interviews with Dale and music to be integrated.

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IP Sales

We’ve been making great strides in our marketing and promotions area. Kieran Davis is being joined by intern Katharina Schmelzer from QUT and Laura Simpson, who brings depth into our media kit preparation. In September, Liza Miller from the UK will be doing work experience with us . and we hope to utilise her publishing background in our efforts to export the rights to some of our titles.

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David recently attended a seminar on exporting to India, where he met with officials from AusTrade and Trade Queensland who were so impressed with our list that they are meeting with select Indian publishers to pave the way for rights deals in the huge Indian market. We’re hoping to get support from the Australia Council and Arts Queensland to attend the Delhi Book Fair in January to finalise some of these deals.

We’re also pleased to announce that we now have a physical distributor in North America. Small Press Distribution, based in Berkeley, California, is a respected niche distributor of high quality literary titles, especially poetry. They have an extensive network of independent bookshops and libraries that they promote to, and their storefront bookshop is very popular with readers in San Francisco, Berkeley, and elsewhere. Initially, we’ll be supplying them with about a dozen recent titles via Lightning Source POD and will expand from there.

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On the digital front, we’re now a publishing partner of ContentReserve.com, who distribute titles as eBooks and audio formats. Progress has been a bit slow on this front, because their system requires Windows software for uploading titles and metadata. So we’ve had to embrace the Evil Empire and invest in Parallels, a Windows emulator, for our Macs.

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Networking, American-style

Florida author, Yvonne Mason, believes in paying it forward. She uses several of her sites to promote other authors who are trying to make it in the publishing world.

Yvonne is the author of several books, including her true crime Silent Scream. She has been helped along the way by others who believed. She believes that as an independent author she will only be as successful as she allows others to be. This is why she offers at no charge to post other author’s books, reviews, bios and links on several of the sites she uses regularly.

Hitchers of OzYvonne came to our attention via Tom & Simon Sykes, who were considering using her services to help promote their Glass House Books title The Hitchers of Oz. We thought it looked like a good idea to get the word out in North America, so we accepted Yvonne's kind offer, and she went to it with lightning speed!

On http://yvonnemason.wordpress.com you’ll find books of all genres, as well as reviews and links. Once the books are posted Ms.Mason sends the URL back to the authors so they can review it for any changes needed. She encourages them to repost it on their sites to drive traffic to the site.

Another site http://reviewabook.ning.com is for authors to build their own page and network. Visitors to the site will read your book for no charge and review it there and elsewhere. They love reading new books. Editors and book cover designers also visit the site.

Yvonne uses http://www.prlog.org to post press releases for her books as well as anyone who wishes her to post one. A book cover will be posted along with the release.

Yvonne doesn’t charge for any of this exposure. As an independent author she understands the difficulty in reaching out to a reader base. She knows the heartache of not know how to get the books to readers because most are not in stores. She has learned how to use the internet to her advantage and she wants to share with others.

If you google her name you will find she is all over the net. She can be reached at ysam51@yahoo.com

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Out & About

David's first trip took him south to Victoria for the launch of Juliet William's The Giggle Gum Tree and Goldie Alexander's Lame Duck Protest.

At Warrnambool Library, Paul Jennings launched Giggle Gum in the Giggle Gum Treepresence of a large group of admirers, as well as Elizabth Botté, whose illustrations have already won commendation. We made a weekend of it, with signings at the local Collins bookshop the next morning and at Griffiths Geelong the following afternoon.

Then it was on to Melbourne for a well-attended launch at Readings, Port Melbourne, with Goldie Alexander. And David rounded off his brief tour by being a featured poet at an Australian Poetry Centre Salon – one of the last before the Centre relocates to the Centre for Writing later this year

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Real GunsSoon after, David had readings from his children's books to several classes at Mayfield and Mt Petrie State Schools in Brisbane. The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling were especially popular, and the kids had been well-primed by their teachers about environmental issues.

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David hit the road for Far North Queensland along with Ann Jones whose book Put the Billy On is set in the Gulf Country up there. As always, the reception we received was warm and hospitable.

David briefed authors about developments at IP in a session at Arts Nexus, and then he and Ann attended the monthly meeting of Tropical Writers, also at Arts Nexus.

Over the next couple of days, several authors met with David for Inside Track Consultations, which are aimed at assessing a manuscript's readiness for publication.

They had hoped to meet with groups on the Atherton Tablelands, but a long weekend intervened, so that visit had to be postponed.

Other highlights along the way were sessions with Writers in Townsville, at Beach Library in Airlie Beach, then finally at Gladstone Library. We were encouraged by brisk sales not only of the Put the Billy On book, but also the new audio CD of the same title. There was also a bit of a run on David's Primary Instinct, especially after a Cairns newspaper used it to highlight some of the problems in the education system.

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Josh Donellan has been recognised in the Q150 ' Young People Creating Queensland' program, which means he will be one of 150 receiving special recognition as part of Queensland's 150th anniversary celebrations. Josh's novel A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India is currently in press and is soon to hit the shelves, so watch this space!

Rebecca Bloomer has won the Katherine Susannah Pritchard (KSP) Writers Centre short story competition for speculative fiction for her adult fairy tale entitled If Wishes were Fishes.

Barry Levy gave a talk about his book As If! to the Queensland Branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers at Brisbane's old City Library on 25 July.

And Iain Britton (Liquefaction) hasn't let the grass grow under his poetic Liquefactionfeet. Even before we launch Liquefaction in New Zealand in October, he's already secured a contract for his third book with UK publisher oystercatcher! Well-done, Iain!

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We were pleased to see that Melior Simms has made a YouTube Video from a portion of her poem from the Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand anthology that we'll be touring in late October in New Zealand.

 

The tour is being organised by Assistant Editor Kieran Davis, who has been tirelessly rounding up contributors to the anthology for gigs from Dunedin and Christchurch on the South Island to Wellington and Auckland on the North Island. Keep following us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest developments.

In Review

[These are snippets from full reviews. Click on the link to view the complete review for each title.]

On Dianne Bates' Aussie Kid Heroes:

Aussie Kid HeroesAussie Kid Heroes celebrates children. It highlights that children can make a difference in the world whether it be by utilising their gifts or acting in a time of crisis. Children of all ages (and adults) will be fascinated by the stories told within Aussie Kid Heroes. Some may be inspired to harness their abilities and follow their dreams.

- Vicki Stanton, Pass It On

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On Goldie Alexander's Lame Duck Protest:

This beautifully presented book serves to bring into focus strong environmental issues directed at educating children about the need to fight to Lame Duck Protestprotect our natural world. Youth awareness is the key to the survival of wild birds, animals and countless other species that are under constant threat of being decimated by the destruction of their natural habitats. This book has succeeded in passing on this message.

- Anastasia Gonis, The Reading Stack

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On Kathy Kituai's The Heart Takes Wing: Selected Poems from Straggling into Winter.

HTWCovKathy Kituai takes the willing into imperial Court of Japan, where tanka was a short song. Read with feeling, and well received by the listener, this is a digital journey enhanced by the ethereal music composed and played by Nitya Bernard Parker. As a short song, tanka was meant to be sung or read aloud with feeling by those who gave us the genre, Kathy succeeding in enabling the listener to visualise and understand tanka in a way the printed page cannot.

- Robert D. Wilson, Simply Haiku

Kituai's recitations are clear and direct, and the poems themselves are filled with her wry irony and wistful sadness. Nitya’s music asserts itself with a restrained control between poems, and maintains its own consistent tonal quality that matches Kituai’s readings and knits up the entire session into a totality. Kituai and Nitya have created a soothing blend of poetics, recitation, and music that is best experienced after a long day, as the lights dim, in a comfortable chair with a glass of wine.

- Dave Bacharach, Moonset USA

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On Mark Pirie's & Tim Jones' Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand

Voy-CovPerhaps a radical feature in the bookshop poetry selection, a collection like this gets you thinking about the scope for future specialist anthologies. It also makes you realise that the Science Fiction audience is alive and avid for material, and not just blockbuster movies. Here’s to the future of the genre.

- Abby Cunnane, Capital Times (Wellington, NZ)

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Your Deal

Celebrate Queensland's 150 birthday by purchasing any of the following for $15 + a flat $1.50 postage no matter how many you order:

Back Burning by Sylvia Petter (short fiction)

Fresh News from the Arctic by Libby Hart

Liars and Lovers by David Reiter (satire)

House of Given by Bill Collopy (fiction)

Buggerum Intrigue by Paul Sterling (satire)

On Reflection by David Musgrave (poetry)

Secret Writing by Michael O'Sullivan

Order online, specifying YD43 in the Comments field. Individual orders only.

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