How Thieves, Hoarders, Scientists, and Other Obsessives Unlocked the Secrets of the World’s Favourite Insect
Guest Book Review by Ruby Rosenfield
This book is a riveting read in which the reader, if not already a butterfly enthusiast, will surely become entranced by the wonderful world of Lepidoptera.
The author Wendy Williams is an American Science journalist whose budding interest in butterflies has taken her all around the world.
In this book, she writes about the obsessive lives of butterfly enthusiasts through the centuries, paying special tribute to an uneducated 17th-century girl from Frankfurt, Maria Sibylla Merian. Merian fell in love with caterpillars at age 13, following them through their life cycle and recording her research in notebooks detailing the lives of caterpillars, moths, and their favourite plants. She completed her meticulous drawings with watercolour. Her first of many books was published in 1679.
William’s book primarily focuses on the lives and properties of monarch butterflies (sometimes called Wanderers) and how they accomplish the mass migration from Canada and North America to the jungles of Mexico where they overwinter. It also explores the mystery of how they arrive in Australia and occasionally in Britain. There is much to learn in this delightful book. In 1978 the mountaineer Rick Ridgeway was one of four climbers to successfully complete the ascent and safe return of the mountain K2 in Pakistan, a rare accomplishment. At an altitude of over 20 000 feet, a butterfly landed near their rope in a blaze of colour. They wondered if they were hallucinating at that altitude. They took photos and identified the butterfly as a painted lady. Painted ladies live in almost all parts of the world but differ slightly on each continent.
Mary River Press Services presented for the U3A meeting at the University of Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast campus last week. Self-published author Ann Moffatt invited us to a series of talks she organised on self-publishing.
We shared the business planning template and went through some tips on how to self-publish and market your book affordably. We also shared information that can be found in our eBook
Regardless of all the top suggestions out there, we have found you don’t need to pay someone to publish your book. You also do not need years of experience, brilliant digital skills, or tremendous confidence to self-publish. You need straightforward advice, a simple business plan, and guidance on finding the information you need.
How to write an author business plan
We went through how to create your business plan for the year in the self-publishing business plan template. Planning allows you to have everything planned out perfectly before you begin your project.
Author marketing strategies
We revealed the exact marketing strategies that help you achieve growth and the brand value you want for your book. We also recommended a free software platform to assist in this goal.
How to find a marketable category for your book
We shared a robust method of determining a book’s category that is less competitive and more profitable.
We also detailed self-publishing courses and other services we offer.
If you would like us to present to your community group reach out
This short story collection covers four decades and themes from childhood to death. Frame was saved from a mental institution and a scheduled lobotomy when she won a most prestigious New Zealand literary award. Jane Campion directed the film adaptation of her autobiography ‘An Angel at My Table’ that details this suffering and recognition. Despite or perhaps because of her hospitalisation, she excels at exploring the complexities of the human consciousness through realism and fantasy. Her writing is truly sublime – “The sun’s hair stood on end. The sky accommodated all visiting darkness and light. Leaves were glossy green, gold, brown, dried dead and bleached in drifts beneath the trees.” This collection provides an insight into her brilliance over time.
Main character Lex Gracie displays tenacity and intelligence in the face of a dreadful experience perpetrated by her parents. The aftermath of living in a house of violence and dysfunction is the focus of this story. After Lex’s mother dies, she gets in touch with her siblings to work out what to do with the family home where these events took place. She survived, but how does she thrive? Lex and her siblings all react differently to the events. Ethan is a most interesting character. His manipulative and questionable behaviour compelling. The writing is concise “When I’ve thought of this moment…. the old squid twitches awake, and extends into my limbs, up to the throat and down through the womb. Shame.” The reader knows the MC survives; this book addresses the ripples that devastating abuse causes. It covers the years following, and the continued suffering the sibling’s experience. The thrifty use of language and the simple storyline creates an entertaining novel.
Fraser Coast’s queen of romance writing, Cynthia Terelst has done it again. Terelst has written a medium heat romance with all the elements of Queensland country life. It begins when Emily or Lemony Emily returns to her hometown feeling like an outsider. Her progressive ideas were not understood when she was younger, and she couldn’t wait to go to university to leave the bullies behind. Emily also left her best friend, Luke. When her dad needs her to return, things heat up with Luke. Emily also finds times have changed. Early adopters are taking on her sustainable farming practices. Romance, following your path, and looking after your family are all themes that weave through this light and fast-moving story. Terelst has introduced diverse and interesting settings and characters that bring life and relevance to this tale.
Are you an Australian author or creator? Did you know that publishers or creators – authors, illustrators, editors, translators, and compilers – can all get money back for an estimated loss of income due to books being available in libraries – public and educational lending libraries? The deadline for submitting new title claims closes on the 31st of March each year. If you miss the cut-off, you can add your title to next year’s program. In 2019-2020 Australian Lending Right Schemes paid 17200 lending rights payments totalling around $22 million.
This book was published in 1998, and the context of what is written must be viewed through that lens. It is an autobiography of the character Marilyn Manson modelled on Dante’s Inferno. Manson’s signature is saying extreme things, pushing limits, transgressing to test people’s acceptance. This fiction stays completely in this lane, with intentional irony and deplorable behaviour orchestrated to shock. It is also weirdly compelling. Manson is the son of a Vietnam veteran who, Manson claims, was good at ‘murdering’ many people (the enemy) during the war. The residual impact of this violence on Manson and his family, combined with the overzealous Christian education and extreme bullying, helped shape this artist. His unique, vivid imagination and inappropriate honesty make the reader wonder if he is neurodiverse. The intensely theatrical and creative life of Manson is marred by devastating drug addiction. He arrives at the choice of becoming all he despises or creating his own identity and living up to his ideals.
In Manson’s own words “what happens when you say something powerful that makes people think. They become afraid of you, and they neutralise your message by giving you a label that is not open to interpretation – as a fascist, a devil worshipper or an advocate of rape and violence…..’
The author of this novel lives on the Fraser Coast. Her story is one of triumph over injury, domestic violence, and bias within the male-dominated IT industry. In this industry her treatment varied. She received compassion and protection in reaction to domestic violence from the AMP Society. She worked there between 1975 and 1986 “they were a very caring, compassionate company, and I was very lucky to be working for such a generous employer”. This conduct was in stark contrast to the discrimination she was subject to as a woman with children in the industry. Many women have worked in these fields and not received the acknowledgment they deserve. They have done this while juggling parenthood and other personal barriers. Ann opens a window to this era. Her experience is a story that has taken too long to be told. This book is a fascinating and moving read, even if you are not interested in technology. It gives a voice to those who opened a pathway today’s women can walk in male-dominated industries.
Once upon a time, librarians were deeply connected to the community. They would choose appropriate resources to meet community needs. These librarians were leaders who would respond to requests and provide diverse resources to expose community members to excellent resources available in various formats and genres. These resources would meet needs, fill gaps and expand horizons. Local authors were also supported. These librarians were highly qualified and experienced and were a trusted source of information and guidance. Sadly, these roles are no longer widely valued.
The desire to cut costs sees non-librarians who do not live in the community choosing resources. These resources are selected under an automated technique called profiling. Profiling results in all the libraries in similar size communities having the same resources. This move toward automated resource selection is why you cannot get older and unique books or books by local authors from your local libraries anymore. If you can currently, this is becoming less and less possible.
Large online platforms like Book Depository are filling this gap. These platforms provide access to indie authors, classics, older books, and much more. Compared to other platforms like Amazon, the beauty of the Book Depository is that there is no charge for postage. Another great thing about the Book Depository is that they refer you to AbeBooks if they do not have a copy of a book. This site is where independent booksellers can upload their inventory data. The condition and price of their second-hand books is detailed. If you love great literature, these bigger platforms are where you will be seeking your reading material more and more.
The author of this novel is an anthropologist. This novel is based on the Japanese Heian era noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu. Murasaki was a court poet, and she wrote The Tale of Genji which is now considered a classic. Dalby imagines her life in this story. This is also a woman’s story about court culture, littered with poetry based on the natural world. Murasaki loses her mother when she is young. She and her friend Chifuru make up stories of lovers. Her friend dies and a poem sent to Chifuru’s family “I yearn to ask what path it followed through the clouds – the wild goose that flew off, leaving the flock” speaks of Murasaki’s grief. Murasaki marries and finds life is much duller than she imagined. Although the novel is full of events and happenings, the reader is an observer, never fully immersed in Murasaki’s world.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle is very underwhelming. Although it is touted as disrupting the status quo and rejecting the programming little girls experience to fit into a patriarchal society, it does not. It is written in neat anecdotes that use cliched prompts of living bravely and finding freedom which works fine for a particular demographic but is not revolutionary or even slightly paradigm-shifting. Feminists of the seventies have addressed issues of female suppression years ago. This book is just a feel good and simplistic. It will do none of the liberating that it claims unless you are liberated already.
This autobiographical novel documents Édouard’s rape at gunpoint. Édouard’s ambivalence toward Reda – the perpetrator – is at the centre of the subtle and complex story. Although Édouard reports him to the police he tries to understand what happened. After analysing the motives of Reda, he realises that Reda is ashamed of his homosexuality. Édouard’s post-traumatic stress triggered from the incident is embodied in obsessive counting, his fear of dark-skinned people (because his rapist was Algerian), and his desire to be ugly. His sister Clara tells some of the story in this novel. The intricate recall Édouard has makes this experience very vivid and painful.
Have you ever wondered how authors get their books to bestseller status? Do you want to increase sales? Like most authors, we found that you can waste a lot of money on marketing, with little to no engagement, let alone conversion to sales of your book. As librarians, we understand how keywords and strings help provide access when searching for a book. When cataloguing, this knowledge is vital for customer access to the most relevant resources for keyword searches.
When you place your self-published book on Amazon, you compete with thousands of books, so if people do not even see your book when they search a keyword, they will not buy it, no matter how good it is. Many brilliant writers go unacknowledged because their book is not easily accessed.
Publisher Rocket takes all the guesswork out of keywords and category strings. A category string is a list of words that will place your book in the most relevant position on Amazon. Publisher Rocket provides information on keywords shoppers type into Amazon. It also includes information on the estimated number of times a keyword is typed. Other details include the cost of books that rank for that keyword and how many books compete for that keyword. Publisher Rocket helps you find best-selling categories and how many sales you need to be the number one bestseller. You can also add up to ten category strings, and this makes your book more competitive. All this is explained with Publisher Rocket.
By following this advice and analysing the data, you can elevate your position on the platform and increase your chances of being a bestseller for your category. Publisher Rocket can increase sales.
You can buy it to own outright, and updates are free, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Publisher Rocket is our favourite piece of marketing software. It saves time and makes the dream of your writing paying big within reach.
Authors can now access marketing tools all in one place.
The World’s Number One Website Creator, Page Designer, Blog & Funnel Builder
If you are a self-published author, you are a businessperson. In this day and age, any business that wants to thrive must go online. With so many things going on around the world and global changes that will forever impact the way people live and do business, going online is no longer just an option. Not only to maintain their success but even just to survive. Sure, there are tools that are already available that any business can use to run their entire company and processes digitally. However, any minimum amount of research will tell you that most of these products are expensive, complicated, and limited in customisation. In other words, not very user-friendly and definitely not suitable for all business owners, especially those who are less tech-savvy and might even be on a budget. Most authors can’t afford to invest thousands of dollars a month into a bunch of complicated tools, and on top of that, hire employees to manage the systems. If this sounds familiar in any way, we have some good news for you. As an online small business and blogger, Mary River Press Services is always looking for new solutions for these everyday challenges we face as small business owners. We want to share our latest discovery. GrooveFunnels is, by far, the best way we have found to be able to build websites, sales funnels, and sell digital products online. The best part? It’s FREE. But the free value does not end there. And you know what? We can definitely tell you that this 100% free tool is perfectly capable of running your entire business, maybe even better than some of the expensive, complicated tools out there. We are not exaggerating by any means. GrooveFunnels includes everything that we need to run an online business from what we’ve seen so far, all for absolutely free. Here’s just a quick list of what we’ve gathered so far:
FREE sales, page, and funnel building platform
Possible to build your own branded websites with full navigation
Can integrate with your own custom domain name
Able to sell your products with what they call a 1-click upsell
Capability to integrate upsells, downsells, and order bumps
Even has a way to create your own powerful affiliate program for your products!
And that’s just for starters because there is so much more for us to explore! It’s FREE, and it’s probably the BEST suite of marketing tools we have ever seen. By the way, there’s more. One of our favourite benefits of GrooveFunnels is the heap of community benefits. We’ve been able to join their private Facebook group, connect with marketing experts inside, get help with all our problems, access private training within their own academy, ask questions through their helpdesk, and meet other like-minded small business owners, to make the best use of these tools. So, if you’re like us, striving to grow your business, looking to learn more about marketing, and getting to know some of the best in the industry at a more personal level, then you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Sounds great, right? But you might be asking, what’s the catch? The catch is that GrooveFunnels is free, but for a limited time only. GrooveFunnels is in its pre-launch phase, which means that many products have still yet to launch fully. When they do, and as the products continue to upgrade, GrooveFunnels may no longer be free anymore. This means that now is the time to sign up for your free account, which would also qualify you for the additional software upgrades that they make as time goes on. It’s called being at the right place, at the right time. And that’s where we’re at right now. If you wait longer, this free offer may end.
McLennan gives a voice to the many children that have lost family and hope as they are shuffled between government departments. The story is one of redemption through friendship. Instead of being shown compassion when traumatised and simply trying to survive their circumstances, these children are often blamed. Set in Australian suburbs, this novella talks of our children and our responsibility as a community to help them find their way out of confusing circumstances. Bruno is coming of age, and it is the compassion of those around him that makes his future look bright. Read more about what others have said here
The main protagonist is Natsuko. In part one, her sister Makiko and daughter Midoriko arrive in Tokyo. Midoriko hates her body, which seeps into hating her aging mother, who is considering breast implants. The condition of being female seems excruciating.
In part two, we meet Natsuko eight years later. She wants a child, cannot tolerate sex and is prohibited artificial fertilisation in Japan because she is single. When she encounters the rage of Yuriko, who was the product of a sperm donor and was raised by a man who sexually abused her, Natsuko questions everything about motherhood. Yuriko is adamant birth is an act of violence. The deep desire for freedom and the consequences of and desire for motherhood echoes throughout the book.
Cora Sabino’s father tells of a US government coverup about extraterrestrials existing amongst us for decades. In California, two Alien vessels arrive and abduct Cora. She discovers that her family is deeply involved, and Ampersand the alien wants to have aliens trapped on earth for 30 years returned. The difficulty of communication – “And we still know nothing,” said Sol. “Knowing their civilization might, hypothetically maybe, want to destroy us in a few hundred years is probably worse than knowing nothing.” The use of the trope of first contact and dehumanising government highlights xenophobia and intolerance.
Cynical Kenji is at the centre of this book, and so is loneliness. Frank is a serial killer who is vulgar in his demands of Kenji and the Shinjuku district. Kenji is hired to take him on guided tours but finds out more than he bargains for when he discovers he is on a rampage of murder. Kenji tries to understand what motivates Frank to murder and becomes associated with the murders as he tries to protect his friends. The intimate understanding of Japanese life’s futility and meaninglessness and the underbelly of the sex industry give us a point of view of Japan that is difficult to dispel.
Yukio Mishima is one of the Japanese’s most sublime writers. He is sadly most remembered for cutting open his stomach and instructing assistants to behead him with his antique sword “Mishimi, who was fastidious with language, preferred the term hara-kiri over seppuku despite its perceived vulgarity.” Ross travels to Japan thirty years later to understand why this enthralling writer ended his life like this. The book is a fusion of many categories of non-fiction book, including a memoir and travel book. The book is steeped with the cultural context and is a riveting examination of the circumstances and politics surrounding this suicide in 1970.
Spring Snow is the first part of a four-part series. The story starts in 1912 when Meiji Japan sees aristocracy dissolve as westernization and democracy take over. Shigekuni Honda is study law and is friends with Kiyoaki Matsugae, who possesses samurai heritage. Honda is pragmatic and duty-bound. However, Kiyoaki becomes enamoured with childhood friend Satoko Ayakura when another pursues her. Honda and Satoko have a clandestine affair, and Honda acts as the communicator between the lovers. Satoko isolates herself in a nunnery, and Kiyoaki dies from grief, declaring that he will meet her again. This first volume sets the scene for the next installment, where beauty and love are darkened by futility.
Jack is central to the short story ‘The Paper Menagerie’. His mother immigrated to America from China, and Jack is bi-racial. Jack’s mother has created an origami menagerie of animals that comes alive with her breath. As he gets older, he becomes ashamed of his mother’s heritage and creates distance. Only after her death does he come to appreciate her and the complexity of her life. The story has been written with the same delicate bitter-sweet feel as ‘The Glass Menagerie’ by Tennessee Williams. Each short story is a compelling, heartfelt experience that explores how “We are defined by the places we hold in the web of others’ lives.” Liu has written these stories beautifully.
This story is a unique rewriting of Hamlet. The God of the silent forest and Mother of the Silent and the Raven and his bird rule Raden. Hill is a third God whose physical presence is a stone. The figurehead – the Raven’s Lease only has power and authority from the Raven because he is willing to die when the bird or Instrument does. When the warrior Mawat and his assistant Eolo come back from battle, they find the Instrument dead and Hibal in power, and his father cannot be found. The fantasy is written in first and third person and narrated by God, beginning with “I first saw you when you rode out of the forest…” This fantasy is a complicated and intelligent examination of power, faith, politics, and conflict.
Madeleine Ryan takes us through her world for one night. Her perspective makes a lot of sense. She starts getting ready for a party and deciding what to wear. Her inner world carries us through each encounter until she meets and connects with someone. She takes him home and dances in the rain ““Dancing in the rain doesn’t “make sense” and it doesn’t have a specific “outcome.”” But it does and the book is delightful. She breeds Ulysses butterflies, perhaps a metaphor for her intellectual brilliance, guile, and versatility. The story ends with goodbye.
In this story Adeline or Addie cuts a deal with the darkness to escape her mundane village existence. Henry is the only person who remembers her name. She explains to him everyone else forgets her the minute she walks away “Because”, she says, slumping back against the concrete wall. “I’m cursed”. Addie is born in 1691 and makes the deal in 1714 and the story follows her life for 300 years to 2014. This is an interesting concept that was slow-moving, and time jumped in each chapter between the present day and the past. The lack of evolution of the main character was a shortfall of this novel. She did not become a wise aloof being as David Bowie’s character did in The Hunger but remained at much the same level of maturity through the three centuries. Schwab also repeated the outcome of the curse with person after person forgetting her. These two aspects prevented this book living up to its potential. There are some delightful moments overall and it is worth a read, with classic themes of life, death and love winding through-out the novel.
This second book in the classic tetralogy The Sea of Fertility was published posthumously and is the story of the second incarnation of Shigekuni Honda’s friend Kiyoaki Matsugae. Beginning in 1932, Honda, a judge, replaces a colleague at a kendo tournament. He meets a youth, Isao Iinuma, that has a mole pattern the same as Kiyoaki. On seeing this pattern, Honda believes he is the reincarnation of this friend. After seeing this teenager, he goes from living a very mundane life to feeling “the past makes its appearance again, with all its mingled dreams and aspirations, the delicate tarnish of falsehood left undisturbed upon its silver.” Isao blames capitalism for the depression and upheaval Japan is experiencing and draws Honda into his plans to slay the zaibatsu or economic elite. When Isao is arrested, Honda resigns to defend him. On the day he posted The Sea of Fertility to his publisher Mishima committed suicide in much the same way as Isao intended, making this possibly the darkest of all four novels. Its subtlety, beauty, and complexity steeped with a detailed illustration of Japan’s political landscape during the pre-war years make this a fascinating book worth many revisits.
Did you know that you can get many older books from the Book Depository? They provide free delivery worldwide, so you only pay for the book.
Rosa Praed (1851 -1935) is a novelist who lived for a short time on Curtis Island, off Gladstone, Queensland and based some of her novels on the area. She has many books available on the Book Depository site.
The Romance at the Station
Lady Bridget in the Land of the Never Never Land
The Insane Root
The Bond of Wedlock
The Maid of the River
The Head Station
There is a variety of versions at different prices.
Vance Palmer was born in Bundaberg. His non-fiction book National Portraits has been reproduced and is available through the Book Depository in two versions. One is a hardback version produced as part of the Scholar Select series and has references, library stamps, and other notations visible from the original old copy. Considered culturally significant, it is a compilation of biographical outlines and pioneering work in Australian studies.
Gayndah’s daughter, Jessica Anderson, has two books available through the Book Depository. The 1978 Miles Frank Award-winning novel Tirra Lirra by the River and The Commandant (1975). In the second originally ignored novel that is now considered a classic and a masterpiece, she examines convicts’ treatment in 1830s Moreton Bay from a feminist perspective.
Other books that we have purchased through the Book Depository site include:
Another great thing about the Book Depository is if they do not have a copy of a book, they refer you to AbeBooks. This site is where independent booksellers can upload their inventory data. The condition and price of their second-hand books is detailed. We could get an almost perfect hardback copy of Val Vallis’s Songs of the East Coast from this database. Valentine Vallis was born in Gladstone. After working at the town council, he became a poet who captured the life of Gladstone, the expanse of the world, and the human experience in his lyrical yet unadorned stanzas. Songs of the East Coast was in a book shop in Europe. For less than 15 dollars, they sent it across the world to my doorstep.
If you love diverse and culturally significant books, check out the Book Depository.
The Christian Society of Witnesses, the doomsday cult Sakigake, The Dowager who supports domestic violence victims, her assistant martial arts instructor Aomame and Tengo the maths teacher and writer are all part of this book. This is mixed with parallel dimensions. The world Aomame arrives in via the staircase accessed from the freeway, at the beginning of the novel, lets the reader know this is an exciting journey. The characters swirl through fear of never returning, disarray, choice, time jumps and change. The title is a play on 1984 and is set in that year with the Q standing for question. And there is a lot unanswered through-out. Fragmented voices, an incessant TV licence-fee collector and existential irony make this an extremely entertaining trilogy. Aomame’s thoughts show her to be an outsider ‘Either I’m funny or the world’s funny, I don’t know which. The bottle and lid don’t fit. It could be the bottle’s fault or the lid’s fault. In either case, there’s no deny that the fit is bad.’ Her connection with Tengo is more metaphysical, with one moment of profound connection transcending parallel dimensions. This thriller satisfies science fiction fans and is comforting to those who feel bewildered by the chaos of life.
This is an Australian novel that addresses the deeply complicated relationship the main character Susie has with her mentally ill mother. She is an outsider who moves to Melbourne with her father, leaving her mother behind. Miss Kaye is the works at a psychiatric hospital and tells of how you can live and not just survive. Her subtle influence on Susie has a lasting effect. Growing up in the Sydney’s 1980s counterculture, Susie is deeply changed by her mother’s illness. The unpredictability of this relationship and the enduring instability and hurt are treated in a casual and wry way.
Wohlleben claims trees have personalities, feelings and thrive as families. He also suggests fungi operate as fibre optic internet cables, transmitting signals from one tree to another exchanging news about drought, insects and other things. The term coined for this is ‘wood wide web.’ There are loner trees such as willows and the fungi are posed as socialists who wish for ‘equitable sharing of information and resources.’ Scientific research from Aachen University, the University of British Columbia and the Max Planck Society is used to suggest trees have memories and choices. Wohlleben uses anthropomorphism of trees to evoke empathy from the reader. This makes his conservation message accessible and effective.
In a little coffee shop in Tokyo, Fumiko is dumped by her boyfriend. He leaves for America, leaving her devastated. She revisits the place and enquires about a fabled magic chair that lets people time travel. A ghostly woman occupies the chair and only when she visits the powder room can you sit there, or she will jinx you. The coffee is poured, you go back in time and you must return before the coffee is cold or suffer her fate. The story is a slow burn that carefully fills its pages with the bond of the women at the café and their hopes and fears. Each eventually sits in the chair to revisit the past knowing that it will not change the future. Kohtake’s husband has dementia and slowly forgets who she is ‘These notes were the last hand hold for Fusagi, who was gradually forgetting who she was’. Hirai wants to fix things with her sister who has died. ‘I didn’t even meet her and now this has happened’ she said sniffing. ‘Only she never gave up on me. She came to Tokyo to see me again’. Kei who is pregnant and has a weak heart also uses the chair. The intricate and intimate friendships of these women is the centre of this book.
Jonathan Noel is a security guard that lives a perfectly ordered life in Paris. His life has been so uneventful that a thunderstorm is remembered as an occasion when things went awry. Just when he is about to buy his apartment, as he had planned for some time, things changed. The purchase was an attempt to ensure the mundane rhythms of his life were without interruption. “That was the state of things when, in August 1984, on Friday morning, the affair with the pigeon occurred.” The pigeon nests in the doorway of his apartment and intrudes on his life, causing mess and chaos. Noel is thrust into an existential calamity as his perfectly ordered existence is no longer under his control.
One of the most expensive aspects of self-publishing is editing. Many writers cannot afford to get their work edited, so feel they cannot publish their manuscript. You can self-edit, although it is not for the light-hearted. Proofreading of the final manuscript by a professional would then be the only cost. We have some tips for self-editing which may make the process easier.
Get an alpha reader/mentor. An alpha reader goes through the very rough manuscript and gives you feedback about the idea and structure.
Build relationships with beta readers – these are not family and friends. Beta readers give you comprehensive feedback on a polished copy of the manuscript. There are a lot of questionnaire examples you can utilise with beta readers for additional feedback.
Assemble all the feedback from the beta readers. Do not edit the manuscript you gave them until you have all the feedback. If you change the manuscript prior to applying the feedback, it will get very messy.
Once you have all the feedback, make the changes that you agree with. It is important that these changes do not impact the structure of the story. Once this is done you can make any major changes.
Use software such as Grammarly or the Hemmingway App to assist.
Proofread it yourself when you have a clear head. It is best to get a professional to proofread the final manuscript before publishing. There is nothing that jolts a reader out of suspension of disbelief more than a typographical error.
Mary River Press Services provides proofreading services. Feel free to contact us for further information or use our quote calculator to get an idea of prices.
Terelst is a Fraser Coast local! This is a feel-good equestrian romance targeting young adults. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point view and allows the reader a first-person insight into their motivations. The story begins at the wealthy Brisbane polo grounds. There is a sweet romance between Frankie and a would-be prince, Sebastian. The authentic descriptions of the horses and the care Frankie has for them is a delight for any equine loving teen. You can tell the author is a horsewoman! This is a great light read for any country or horse loving youth. It is heavy on the romance while exploring the human-horse relationships.
This novel has been written by a Mary River Press competition awardee! Based in Korea, it spans the twentieth century from 1901 to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Misuk, the main character, was born in Korea in 1901. She was the eldest daughter of a poor farming family and was very cherished by her family. A radical change occurred in her life at thirteen, when she spent twelve months living with her uncle’s family. This time was spent preparing her for an arranged marriage. Her uncle was generous and kind, in stark contrast to her wealthy husband who was cruel and violent. Misuk eventually returned to her birthplace in 1988 with her daughter Suni, after spending years in Seoul.
McLennan cleverly uses conversations and thoughts between Misuk and her beloved Gam Namu (persimmon tree) to trigger memories of events that have shaped her life. These are presented in an historical sequence, making it easier for readers unfamiliar with Korean history to follow. Woven throughout is an intricate web of connection to the Korean independence movement. This has significant consequences for Misuk’s family.
By following Misuk’s journey the reader gains a very good insight into Korean life through-out the twentieth century. Non-Korean readers gain a much deeper understanding of another culture. Shared similarities – love and loss; abuse and resilience; ageing, progress and resistance to change are revealed from a feminine perspective.
Many short stories gracefully travel through setting the scene, rising the action, reaching the climax and then quickly create a contrived and rushed resolution. We have put together some tips to help writers complete their stories in a way that suits the characters and the plot.
1. Kill a character. This is a dramatic and engaging way to end the short story. Make sure it resonates authentically with what has come before.
2. Have a birth. Babies can complicate or complete things.
3. Indicate that power or change is attained through emotional/moral growth.
4. Indicate that power or change is attained through moral deterioration.
5. Indicate the character has not grown so is in the exact same place as at the beginning of the story.
6. Leave things up in the air. The story indicates a probable ending but leaves the definite description of the outcome incomplete, so that questions remain unanswered.
7. Create a plot twist. By foreshadowing through-out your story, you can be sure the reader will re-read the story to pick up the clues.
8. Go from specific to general. Show the detail and then pan out to show the broader picture.
9. Conclude your story where you began. Include the title or the first sentence of the story in the conclusion. The circular nature of the story ties all the ends up neatly.
10. Describe the future outcome. Go ahead in time and show how the main characters function at a future time.
The best thing to do is to write your story and let it sit for a few months, go back, re-read it and check to see if the conclusion fits. If not – try one of the above tips!
We have all heard of Steampunk, but what is Hopepunk? Empty streets, surveillance, lockdowns, abuse of power, human rights taken away for profit, exploitation of individuals and the environment, persecution and dehumanisation of minorities – all warn of a slide into dystopia. Poor governance in the face of COVID-19 was the final straw that broke the back of optimism for many. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot asks “Is hope here yet?” The current answer to this eternal existential dilemma is Hopepunk, first coined by author Alexandra Rowland. Spontaneously, out of our bleak reality rose this literary movement.
It is distinguished by literary characters that encompass love, kindness and faith in humanity when confronted by incredibly negative and hopeless odds. It is in antithesis to nihilism. Hopepunk is founded on the belief that fighting for a better world and resisting the cynical, omnipresent, and power-hungry rulers is the way forward. Many of the characters in Hopepunk are sensitive and caring. There is a theme of cooperating to achieve better social outcomes for all.
The Hopepunk movement echoes the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, that rose up in the shadow of the Vietnam War. The counterculture became revolutionary for some people. Human sexuality, women’s rights, authority, and capitalism were challenged by people asserting peace and love as the answer. The Punk subculture evolved around the mid-seventies and was striving for individual freedoms. The current Hopepunk movement appears to have influences from both these antecedents. These movements all demonstrate people’s resilience and their subsequent ability to reinvent themselves when the future is immeasurably bleak. Our ability to survive is remarkable.
Hopepunk allows us to disappear into a fantasy world of optimism. If you want to check it out, hopepunk authors include: Alexandra Rowland, Veronica M. Strachan and Becky Chambers.
Lewis Clark and his friends belong to the American Blackfeet Nation. They trespass into the elders’ Montana hunting grounds on an expedition. Lewis has trouble killing a young pregnant elk. Jump forward a decade and he is living with his wife Peta when the trauma of that event haunts him. His beloved dog Harley is killed under strange circumstances and the creeping horror of a sadistic revenge from a supernatural being is captivating. The conclusion is dazzling. Jones is fantastic at writing horror. His portrayal of Lewis and his friends, who have a foot in both the traditional and current world and consequent apprehension about their place in the present, is superb. This is one of the best horror books written in recent years.
Ligotti eloquently clarifies the existential dilemma of being human. Although the philosophy he explores is not revolutionary, he discusses the points with clarity and relates them to horror fiction. He reframes philosophy, literature and neuroscience and presents it from the point of view of a horror writer. In the chapter ‘The Cult of Grinning Martyrs’ Ligotti explores the capitalist world “Undeniably, one of the great disadvantages of consciousness- that is, consciousness as the parent of all horrors- is that it exacerbates necessary sufferings and creates unnecessary ones, such as fear of death. Not having what it takes to take their own lives, those who suffer intolerably learn to hide their afflictions, both necessary and unnecessary, because the world does not run on pain time but happy time, whether or not that happiness is honestly felt or a mask for the blackest despondency.” This is a riveting analysis that argues the horror author is honest about the human condition and society is the fiction.
Many writers are working between the gaps of paid work and family life to complete their projects. Saving time is essential to boost output. If you are time poor, follow these eight suggestions to help maximise your productivity.
Set up a business plan and schedule your publishing. There are lots of free plans here:
Once you determine how many books you want to publish a year, you can schedule how many months you need to spend on writing the manuscripts. This can be further broken into hours or pages per day to be completed. Start slow and build up productivity as your routine becomes second nature.
Cut out social media. Scheduled writing time can be fragmented by the distractions of social media. There are some great apps on the market such as:
Cold Turkey (macOS or Windows)
Offtime (iOS and Android)
iA Writer (macOS, Windows, iOS and Android).
Most successful authors having writing habits. They routinely write for a certain time every day. If you are struggling with the discipline of this, begin with twenty minutes and time yourself. Keep going until the time is completed. Establishing a routine to write – starting with a tiny change – will increase your productivity. For more tips on changing habits check out current best seller Atomic Habits by James Clear. He focuses on tiny changes creating remarkable results. Find inspiration from the famous writers including Alice Munro, Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, and Susan Sontag. They discuss their writing routines here:
Good quality dictating tools speed up transcription and writing. Speech to text software allows you to write faster than you can type and you can write on the move.
Find these and other software tools here:
Take breaks. Time away allows incubation to take place. Often when you have been thinking about something for a long time you have lots of information and ideas. By going for a walk, a swim, playing sport or hanging out with friends your mind gets a break. Your unconscious mind takes over and starts working on a solution and this is called incubation. Find out more ways to exploit incubation here:
Be organised. Break large tasks into smaller tasks. Employ a system for gathering research and notes. This could include having a separate folder for research, notes, inspirations and ideas. Software tools like Scrivener and Ulysses assist writers to organise their work.
Use synchronised tools. These can be used across devices and save having to copy and paste information. Some tools that sync include Google Docs, iA Writer and Evernote.
Declutter – clear out cupboards, surfaces and drawers, remove books and papers, and have a clear open desk area. This removes distractions. Only have the work in the space that is current.
Using these tips will help the river of creativity to flow faster. Happy writing!
This novel is hilarious. Laugh out loud irony is mixed with seeping sadness. Weaving through recollections of America is the search for the ideal fishing spot. Trout fishing is a metaphor for change. The desire for a return to a simple natural life is a constant theme. One of the funniest scenes is about Trout Fishing in America Shorty. ‘Trout Fishing in America Shorty appeared suddenly last autumn in San Francisco, staggering around in a magnificent chrome-plated steel wheelchair. He was a legless, screaming middle-aged wino. He descended upon North Beach like a chapter from the Old Testament. He was the reason birds migrate in the autumn. They have to. He was the cold turning of the earth; the bad wind that blows off sugar.’ Brautigan’s writing is surreal, symbolic and naïve. This novella is as haunting as it is funny.
This novel was published in 1964 and the great notion was about committing suicide by drowning. The story chronicles the life of two loggers that work independently in the union-controlled town of Wakonda. Leland Stamper returns home on a revenge mission against his half-brother Hank. His father Henry is dying, and he is protecting his dead mother and the integrity of his childhood. Stampers are stubborn and never give an inch. Conflict between Lee and his older brother Hank bring Hank to the realisation that not backing down can sometimes be weakness. “Because sometimes the only way to keep from losing everything is to give everything up. Because sometimes strength must for the sake of winning give in to.’ The Stamper house doggedly holds on to bank of the river in the face of erosion and flooding and symbolises the Stamper determination. Epic, lyrical and told from a multiplicity of perspectives, this novel is one that provides a different insight with every reading.
Kurt Kobain’s favourite book was Perfume. Set-in the stench of eighteenth-century Paris the book follows the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. His lack of odour makes him unique as does his exceptional sense of smell. This story conjures smells:
‘This scent had a freshness, but not the freshness of limes or pomegranates, not the freshness of myrrh or cinnamon bark or curly mint or birch or camphor or pine needles, not that of a May rain or a frosty wind or of well water… and at the same time it had warmth, but not as bergamot, cypress, or musk has, or jasmine or daffodils, not as rosewood has or iris… This scent was a blend of both, of evanescence and substance, not a blend, but a unity, although slight and frail as well, and yet solid and sustaining, like a piece of thin, shimmering silk… and yet again not like silk, but like pastry soaked in honey-sweet milk – and try as he would he couldn’t fit those two together: milk and silk! This scent was inconceivable, indescribable, could not be categorized in any way – it really ought not to exist at all. And yet there it was as plain and splendid as day.’
Although he loves scent, Grenouille hates people ‘There was only one thing the perfume could not do. It could not turn him into a person who could love and be loved like everyone else.’ Haunted by the smell of a particular girl, Grenouille kills her to steal her scent. ‘He wanted truly to possess the scent of this girl behind the wall; to peel it from her like skin and to make her scent his own.’ He craves scent like Dracula craves blood and is drawn to kill more and more to satiate his desire. Suskind’s careful historical detail coupled with a simple and perfectly executed idea makes this novel a classic.
High Valley is set in China and Tibet. It embraces customs of the Tibetan valley community. The Valley of the Dreaming Phoenix is full of vivid colour:
‘Each day was a gem of ever-brightening lustre. He was enchanted by the beauty of the high pastures: it was loveliness of a quality he had never known before, because its beauty had the frailty of something one knows to be transient. It was the quality of a flower plucked at the supremacy of its blooming. It was a beauty already steeped in its own decay and so made the more beautiful for its promise of ill-fate.’
Salom, is a Chinese orphan left after the communist army retreated from Tibet. After being raised by the inhabitants of Tibet he returns to China and is encouraged by the Ch’eng, the old pedlar, to search for a Holy Grail. During this journey there is a romance between Veshti and Salom, who die in each others’ arms beneath the snow. It is delicately and sincerely written and does not fall into sensationalism. The sweeping literary quality and sumptuous descriptions carry the romance. The Phoenix Valley almost becomes a character in its own right, as the significance of it threads through the novel. The headman of the valley warns Salom ‘Do not fight against the valley… for always the valley wins.’ The exotic and remote places and the accessible characters carry universal themes. Belief, culture and philosophy are addressed in this quest allegory. The two lovers meet the tragedy their birth ordained. Clift provides the literary beauty, style and characterisation. Elements of death and happiness are repeated themes in her writing. The novel won a Herald literary competition in 1948 and launched the career of the authors.
This is a paradigm shifting book written by aircraft designer, engineer and pilot, Lieutenant William Dunne. After a series of dreams that seemed to predict the future, Dunne began to search for a logical reason for this phenomenon. He dreamt that there was a volcanic disaster and 4000 people died. He then misread a few days later that 4000 died, when in fact the number was 40 000. This and other experiences indicated he could predict events based on his memories, created in the future. He determined that these dreams were actual incidents relocated in time. The first edition of his book was published in 1927. Dunne believed time to be non-linear and used logical experiments to determine if his theories were correct. He termed his theory of the universe Serialism and asserted the existence of a ‘superlative general observer, the fount of all consciousness, intention, and intervention which underlies mere mechanical thinking, who contains within himself a less generalised observer.’ The work is accessible and the reader is inspired to employ his experiment as it explains occurrences most people find confusing.
The book is available for download as it in the public domain.
Writing the book is the easy bit. With self-publishing, you must do all the marketing yourself. Formulating a marketing strategy is the best way to successfully invest in your product.
Creating a detailed book marketing plan enables you to put all the strategies and work that will be necessary to market your book into order.
Find Five free Marketing Plans for Authors below.
The Queensland Government provides a business plan template that is available to download for free from their website. You are guided by points to ensure information for your plan is complete. If you are serious about writing, you will aim to build a business from your art. This template is a fantastic start to your career as a writer.
If you already have a manuscript, you can begin at the phase that suits you best. There are free online courses available including How to Build an Author Platform, Online Social Media Course for Authors and Need Help with your Book Metadata.
Reedsy The Ultimate Book Marketing Plan is a free course that you sign up for with your email address. You get ten lessons delivered by email. The first starts with a marketing timeline and has some great tips and tricks for optimising your market share.
If you do not know how to market your book on a tight budget, Writers Relief provides a great list of marketing ideas that could be plugged into your plan. The free or very cheap recommendations are creative, flexible and innovative.
If you decide to self-publish, writing your book is not enough. You need to be able to market your books as well. Marketing comprises Facebook which can include a fan page and groups; Instagram; Twitter; LinkedIn; YouTube; a Blog with good search engine optimisation (SEO); press releases; and an email list. The idea is to pick one and master it. You need to build a relationship with the customers. Your aim is to build a brand that will then open opportunities to affiliate marketing. Creation of your own courses, physical products, events, coaching tutorials, advertisements, and services, is then possible. Self-publishing is a gateway business.
This integrated software is a great way to automate social media posts across platforms. A free plan can be used by one person over three platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tier plans start at $41 AUD a month. It is a good tool for streamlining social media management, planning, and creating promotions as a team.
Storiad is an integrated book marketing platform. The free plan offers unlimited books, access to networking, the publicity campaign organiser, ‘a book worth and royalty calculator’ and a learning management system. You can pull books from Amazon and then design, create and customise unlimited digital media kits and share them with reviewers. This is also a tiered plan with the first tier starting at $49.70 AUD per month. You get seven days free on this first tier. This plan provides a marketing plan wizard. This enables authors to customise and execute a plan. You can also contact book promoters through the book publicity database and get in touch with them directly using the integrated email messaging feature.
The site is visually garish but provides a 14-day free trial. It provides sales data and advertisement expense reports. All data is accessed online by syncing KDP, Amazon Ads and Facebook Ad accounts and manually adding other expenses.
This is a self-publishing platform that provides a wide distribution for your book. You simply set up an account and upload your manuscript. D2D handle publishing the book to retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Tolino, Vivlio and Amazon. It also includes eBook library distribution to networks such as Overdrive and Bibliotheca, as well as some subscription services. They charge 10% of the retail price of the book when it sells.
Designed as a Chrome or Firefox Browser extension, KDROI is compatible with both Windows and macOS. It is a kindle marketing tool. KDROI is usually sold for a one-time fee of $137.31 AUD with unlimited updates. Currently it is available at a discounted price of $66.53. There is no free trial, but there is a 60-day imoney back guarantee.
Indie authors use publishdrive. Its biggest advantage is as a tool for splitting royalties between publishing teams or co-authors. It distributes to Google Play and Kobo. It caters to the library market through Overdrive and Odilo, and some subscription services such as Scribd. The starting price is two titles on the platform for around $7 AUD per month.
This software provides information on keywords shoppers type into Amazon. It also provides information on the estimated number of times a keyword is typed. The cost of books that rank for that keyword and how many books are competing for that keyword is also detailed. It helps you find best-selling categories and how many sales you need to be the number one best seller. It costs $137.29 AUD to own outright, with a 30-day money back guarantee.
This is a freelance marketplace for graphics and design, digital marketing, writing and translation, video and animation, music and audio, programming and tech, business, and lifestyle. You can quickly find a service and set the turn around time. It works based on good feedback for the client and freelancer.
You can market inside of Amazon by identifying key words that are in high demand. You can also use Pay Per Click or PPC advertising. This is a model where advertisers pay a fee to Amazon when a shopper clicks on their ad. The average cost per click is under $5 AUD and averages around 35 cents AUD. If your niche is not competitive, you pay less to get more exposure. Author Central is an Amazon tool for authors. If you organise information about your books well, you will increase your sales.
After forty years J.G. Ballard put his memories of a World War 11 Japanese internment camp into a novel. Jamie is a young British boy who lives in Shanghai with his parents. After the pandemonium of the Pearl Harbour bombing, Japan occupies the area in Shanghai where he lives and he is separated from his parents. He survives on the run for a while before being interned at the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre. The story chronicles Jamie coming to terms with the war. He admired the Japanese and was obsessed with the war. He also found the irrational juxtaposition of war and the deep silence of abandoned villages and the dead deeply conflicting. “The dead were buried above ground, the loose soil heaped around them. The heavy rains of the monsoon months softened the mounds, so that they formed outlines of the bodies within them, as if this small cemetery beside the military airfield were doing its best to resurrect a few of the millions who had died in the war. Here and there an arm or a foot protruded from the graves, the limbs of restless sleepers struggling beneath their brown quilts.” American bombers airdropped food, saving him from starvation as the Japanese army collapsed. He returned to his parents. The laid-back surrealism of conflict has remained with Ballard “Jim knew that he was awake and asleep at the same time, dreaming of the war and yet dreamed of by the war.”
Burial Rites is an historical fiction based on the 200-year-old story of the last woman executed by decapitation in Iceland. In 1829 Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s is sentenced to death but must wait for her killing at a farm at Kornsá with Margrét, Jón and their children. She had spent her childhood in this parish. Her mother abandoned her, and the death of her foster mother Inga was traumatising. She is thirty-three, smart, poetic and was only involved in the murder to prevent the victim a drawn-out death. The narrative is from different points of view, with archival detail inserted as background. The character development and the rich lyrical description of the seasons are the strengths of this tale. Agnes is deeply superstitious “Cruel Birds, ravens, but wise. And creatures should be loved for their wisdom if they cannot be loved for kindness”. Relationships change and we get to know Agnes as she prepares herself for death by revealing her story to the priest Tóti, “It’s all over, Tóti thought. He nudged his horse onwards and brought it next to Agnes’s. Holding the reins in one hand, he pulled off a glove and reached across to put his hand on her leg. As he did, he smelt the hot stench of urine. Agnes looked at him, her eyes wide. Her mouth was chattering uncontrollably.” The seasons are an analogy, as she moves from the Arctic Summer to the Icelandic Winter. This is a compelling, horrifying and beautiful work.
Tom Kennedy and his son Jake move to the country to escape the grief of losing Rebecca, their beloved wife and mother. They move to Featherbank, a village with a dark history of the serial killer “The Whisper Man”. Supernatural overtones and analogies with grief see this psychological thriller become very chilling. There is something instantly dark and decaying about the house Jake and Tom move into. Jake’s grief manifests as he sees pretend friends. He talks to them
“And then you seek her,” the little girl said. “Don’t you?” This wasn’t a nightmare, so there was no way to wake up and stop the image from appearing. Yes, he saw Mummy. She was lying at the bottom of the stairs; her head was tilted to one side.’
Police procedurals try and solve the strange things that are going on in their house, but there is more than meets the eye. They appear at the end to have overcome the darkness, although in the last scene Jake is again talking to some invisible friends, so will he ever completely recover?
This dystopian book is set in the African desert and is a world fantasy award winner. It weaves a meandering story of magic, great emotional power and horror. Lyrical and clear prose propel the reader forward. Rape as a war crime is brought into stark focus as the story unfolds. Najeeba is raped and finds the strength to have the child, the heroine Onyesonwu (Who Fears Death). Other disturbing rituals such as female circumcision and stoning are also carefully described. Onyesonwu belongs to the Okeke people who accept living in the shadow of the Nuru people, as The Great Book demands. She refuses to follow The Great Book or the Goddess. Her fate and magical powers as a shapeshifter emerge and she seeks instruction. The character development of both Onyesonwu and Mwita, as they undertake their quest to save the Okeke from the final solution carries the reader forward to their inevitable fate.
Do you want to write? Would you prefer not to have to spend large amounts of time on the manual tasks of editing and getting feedback? Lots of apps are available that help expedite the writing process. This makes it so much easier to get the creative juices flowing. Here are 12 software tools recommended for writers in 2020.
This is a fantastic free collaborative tool. It is a synchronised file storage service. It has an app for Android and iOS devices. You get a generous free 15 GBs of storage on google drive. If you wish to purchase further storage it starts at $2.49 a month AUD. The Google Docs office suite means you can access word processing, spreadsheets, surveys and lots more. You can store items including images, notes and files. Files can be simultaneously edited by numerous people. You can see suggested edits and comments by each user and trace the history of edits. A basic voice typing feature can be activated by Ctrl+Shft+S and it can accommodate more than 50 languages. This is a powerful and cheap options for writers.
Trello boasts that it helps teams work more collaboratively and get more done. It is a great free tool for project management. As any writing task is a project, it helps maintain momentum with deadlines and check-ins. You can nominate a member for a task, and it is colour coded for visual ease. You can use it for yourself to organise your manuscript or to work with others when editing and rewriting. There is a free version with 10 MB file attachment and 10 boards per team. More features and functionality are available with the business subscriptions. A free Android and iOS app is available. The latter supports the Apple watch.
Evernote is similar to having a notebook on your phone. Its free basic plan syncs across only two devices, which is limiting. It has a 60 MB monthly upload limit with a 25 MB maximum note size. You can save receipts, notes and articles, create to do lists and brainstorm ideas. It is a great tool for keeping ideas organised on the run. These are easily retrieved using its powerful search function.
This app is excellent for content writers and assists in reducing the number of complex sentences used. It is colour coded and provides a readability score. This improves clarity and reduces verbosity. When the passive voice is used and adverbs are written, it highlights them and provides an optimal score. This assists in reducing use of these. This app provides simple feedback and is easy to use. It cost $19.99 AUD.
Grammarly has free basic writing suggestions comparable to the free checker in Microsoft Word. The paid plans provide more thorough checks. These are expensive, costing $29.95 per month AUD, although you can often get subscription discounts. Grammarly is also compatible on Android and iOS through a mobile keyboard app. It provides clarity-focused sentence rewrites, tone adjustments, plagiarism detection, word choice, formality level, fluency and additional advanced suggestions. It has enhanced Google Docs supports.
This software has a free spell and grammar check version which translates to 50 different languages, so it is great for English as a second language speakers. It also has a personal dictionary. The Microsoft Word checker is similarly powerful.
Ulysses is a writing app for macOS and syncs to all devices. It has a lovely interface and provides filters to organise your manuscript. You cannot collaborate on this app and there are no templates provided. You can download a free trial and payment is a subscription fee of $9.99 per month or $81.99 per year AUD. This gives you access on all iOS devices.
Many writers use Scrivener as it is the leading book writing software. It gives writers the tools they need to draft, edit and compose their manuscripts. It is initially confusing but helpful training tutorials are available through Lynda.com and YouTube. You can compose your text in any order and then compile it into a single document for export, self-publishing and printing. Scrivener one off payments are available for macOS and Windows for $77, and iOS for $19.99 AUD. There is also an educational discount for students and academics. You can install the desktop app on an unlimited number of computers. There is no Scrivener app available for Android users. You can download the trial, but it will stop working after 30 days of active use. Another advantage is you only pay once and then you own the software. The development of Scrivener has focussed on the macOS version, so this is more advanced.
This software is only made for macOS. You can pay to use MacinCloud to access this software. Vellum allows you to format your manuscript professionally. You can download a free trial and use it for as long as you wish but you will not be able to publish files until you purchase the software. To enable publishing, you can purchase the licence from within Vellum for around $278 AUD.
Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional Individual v15 – 4 stars
This is a very accurate dictation-transcription and voice command tool. It utilises machine learning to recognise accents and speech patterns so improves over time. You can execute commands such as opening and closing software, posts to social media, dictation and editing. It can be loaded onto four computers and your user account gives you access to the app. It costs around $489 AUD for a one off payment. You can get a seven day free trial of Dragon Anywhere available on Android and iOS.
If you are a screen writer, Final Draft is a great tool that supports collaboration. It has a library of templates across genres. There is a free 30-day trial, and it costs around $350 AUD for a one off payment. It has only been developed for iOS devices.
iA writer is a simple free writing app available for macOS, iOS, Windows and Android users. When writing, the line you are working on is highlighted and all other lines are blurred. This assists with focus. The app is minimalist, easy to use and works across platforms. Trial periods are limited to two weeks. The app will prompt you when the trial expires to purchase. It costs around $42 AUD to own outright.
This book investigates how people cope with the unspeakable. The character Eleanor is an authentic and lonely person who isolates on schedule. She slowly moves into the world of other people when a neighbour needs her help. “I was glad to help, glad to be moving away from Mummy-related conversation. There were various chores Mrs Gibbons needed assistance with – Raymond had elected to change the cats’ litter trays and empty the bins, so I’d certainly drawn the long straw with the laundry”. She created a fantasy world to protect her that included her mummy and a dubious rock star. It slowly melts away as she builds real relationships and confronts her past trauma. Raymond becomes a friend and helps her become truly fine. It is a fast paced, easy and engaging read.
Set in the future around 25 AD this allegory is told from an historian’s perspective. It focuses on the 23rd Century and the main character is Joseph Knecht. Set in Castalia, the story is revealed through documents written by Knecht’s contemporaries. Further insight is gained through poems and short stories written by Knecht. Castalia is isolated from day to day worries and is populated by intellectuals that spend their days thinking in its purest form. This culminates in the Glass Bead Game. This is coded and combines maths, music, philosophy, science and art. A large abacus is used to make patterns using glass beads. These patterns are created through associations of thought and are a visual expression of intricately interwoven conceptual theory. The dilemma posed is do we lead an impoverished proletariats life of labour, while others play the Glass Bead Game and dabble in transcendent pursuits? Or do we expect those pursuing erudite ideals to assist those who are struggling? Hesse is an author on the edge of the void and this novel is another search for salvation. Written in 1943 it is juxtaposed to the real historical terror of Nazi Germany and totalitarianism; Hesse was attempting to “liberate the German spirit from its perversion under the Nazis”. The current times call for the crisis of Hesse and his painful exploration of aberrant thought and the negation of reason and knowledge. Knecht’s withdrawal from Castalia to a more humble pursuit of helping a friend’s son, finds him at one with the world “Everything was new again, mysterious, promising: all that had been would recur, and many new things as well.” Seeking truth and avoiding illusions of truth is as uncannily pertinent now as when Hesse first wrote this manuscript.
In a fractured and profane existence, art provides a route to the revered and divine. There is an idealism about creatives living on the edge. Their sensitivity and vulnerability are considered necessary to find and reveal beauty. Many artists deal with inner troubles. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and from 10 to 18 October 2020, it is Mental Health Week in Queensland. A reflection on the struggles many Australian writers have suffered gives us insight at this time.
In 2014 author/illustrator Mel Tregonning, at the age of 31, tragically took her own life after being let out of a mental health clinic. Her friend Shaun Tan collaborated with her posthumously to create “Small Things”. The story wordlessly tells how a small boy and his sister share their concerns and find support. The aim was to leave a legacy that could help others.
John Marsden, famed author of “Tomorrow, When the War Began”, openly talks of spending time in a psychiatric hospital for depression in his 20s, after leaving university. Another children’s author, Paul Jennings has shared his difficult relationship with his father. He has described how the feelings of disgust he felt for his father intruded on his inner world.
Doctor, medical researcher and author Kate Richards writes about her experiences with psychosis. “Madness, a memoir” is her first-hand experience of trying to create balance and stability.
Charmian Clift collaborated with husband George Johnston on various novels including “High Valley”. She was a talented journalist and wrote for the Argus. After moving to Greece, she wrote several fictions including “Honour’s Mimic”. In the 1960s she was responsible for a popular weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Melbourne Herald. She wrote the script for Johnston’s ‘My Brother Jack” television production. Both Clift and Johnston drank heavily. In 1969, at the age of 45, she overdosed on sleeping pills while under the influence of alcohol.
In the 1920s, Charles Carter was the Treasurer of the Australian Literature Society. He was a prolific playwriter and published regularly in Corroboree – the society’s journal. At the age of 75 he committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of The Spencer Street General Post Office in Melbourne.
Nicholas Kolios was born in Turkey in 1885. A traumatic experience caused him to migrate to Australia in 1922. He was a journalist and contributed to Ethniki Salpinx. He became the owner, went bankrupt and committed suicide shortly after. He was 42. One can only assume suffering displacement as a migrant contributed to his failing mental health.
All these intelligent and extraordinary people have endured mental illness. Those who lost their lives have left a fall-out of grief and loss that has echoed down generations. Notions of romance are not a fact of this outcome. Perhaps, if effective detection, treatment and prevention were available, these people would have been able to reach a balance more easily. De-stigmatisation of mental illness begins with understanding. This can only be achieved by communicating and connecting openly about these experiences. Writers have the tools to be that catalyst.
This is a coming of age story about an Italian middle-class girl called Giovanna. She lives in Naples and the story opens with her questioning the unconditional love her father has bestowed on her. She overhears her parents talking. Her father blames her failing grades on her transformed likeness to ostracized Aunt Vittoria. This propels her on a search for her aunt and she discovers the blue-collar area of Italy. She rebels against her father as she watches her family disintegrate. Her father leaves to live with another family. In awe of her mother’s ability to forget how much she hates her father; she tries to see the good in him. Ferrante’s quick moving text charts Giovanna’s experiences from 12 to 16. She captures the extreme feelings teenagers go through and the changing perspectives and gradual understanding that comes as they mature. Motivations are first simplistically assessed. As she grows, Giovanna gains insight into the nuances and complexities that are behind human behaviour. This is a woman’s tale, with various female characters taking bit parts. Universal and biblical themes thread throughout including beauty and substance, class, love and a search for meaning. The description of the country is intricate and transports the reader. The story ends with the main character and her friend Ida deciding to “become adults as no one ever had before.”
Dellarobia Turnbow, is bored with her life as a farm wife. She sets out for a rendezvous with a younger man and is entranced by a hillside covered in orange monarch butterflies or King Billies. Although some consider this strange phenomenon a divine intervention, entomologist Ovid Byron determines it is due to climate change. Kingsolver captures the frustration of a women denied her potential due to pregnancy, isolation and poverty. The story is a belated coming of age of Dellarobia. Her confidence grows as she solves the mystery of the butterflies. Scriptural metaphors are laced throughout hinting at an apocalyptic end. The focus on the real-life issue of climate change does not allow an escape from reality but smacks the reader straight in the face with the current crisis the planet is experiencing.
Bauby, experiences a stroke at the age of 43. He is in the prime of his life, on the editorial staff at Elle and has two small children. After waking 20 days later, he could only blink his left eyelid. Suffering what is called locked-in-syndrome he dictates this novel through blinking this eye. The beauty of this manuscript is its simplicity. The everyday of life and the importance of little things are lyrically described with precise minimalism ‘Céleste (his daughter) cradles my head in her bare arms, covers my forehead with noisy kisses and says over and over, “You’re my dad, you’re my dad,” as if in incantation’. The search for meaning and the desire to be remembered are poignantly described as the small things take on importance “My nostrils quiver with pleasure as they inhale a robust odour – intoxicating to me, but one most mortals cannot abide.” It was thought at the time of writing he might improve. He died suddenly two days after the French publication of this book, at the age of 45. He ironically was reading the Count of Monte Cristo – literature’s first locked-in-syndrome character – just before his stroke. Reading his story is at times unbearably sad as he is weighed down by the diving-bell – his earthly body. At other times, it is incredibly uplifting, as his butterfly – all his imaginative thoughts – land on what it is to be human.
People do this for several reasons. Sometimes their own name is very common, other times their content does not blend well with their day job. Another reason is that authors wish to remove bias when having their work assessed.
Women have had a tough time getting published. Many brilliant female writers have been forgotten when their less talented male counter parts were supported and promoted.
Gwen Harwood’s(1920 – 1995) work is sublime, and she is one of Australia’s finest poets. “Barn Owl” is iconic. We honour her with a most significant poetry prize – The Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize. Gwen had her work rejected when publishing under her name. She used many pseudonyms: Walter Lehmann, W.W. Hagendoor, Francis Geyer, Timothy (TF) Kline and Alan Carvosso. She was seeking to bypass the prejudice she experienced as a female poet. She had work rejected but creative ideas stolen. In 1961 she protested by submitting two sonnets to The Bulletin under the pen name Walter Lehmann. On publication, she revealed the sonnets, called “Abelard to Eloise” and “Eloise to Abelard” were acrostic. The first letters of the lines divulged the phrase “so long Bulletin” and “F!@#$ all editors”. This caused a great controversy.
Earlier in the century, Marjorie Barnard (1897 – 1987) and Flora Eldershaw (1897 – 1956) had to publish their works under the nom de plume M. Barnard Eldershaw. They collaborated on five novels from 1920s to 1950s . “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is deemed to be one of Australia’s original science fiction novels. It was not published in its entirety until 1983 and was highly regarded.
Ethel Handel Richardson (1870 – 1946) wrote for decades under her pen name, Henry Handel Richardson. She was challenging the widely held belief that the writing of women could be detected. It never was. Her novel “The Getting of Wisdom” is now an Australian classic. The Richard Mahony trilogy took her twenty years to complete. It is considered the ultimate accomplishment in Australian fiction. Following its success, her identity was finally revealed.
Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin (1879-1954) wrote under the name of Miles Franklin. Her influence was acknowledged in 2013 with the establishment of the Stella Prize. The annual prize celebrates and promotes the excellence of Australian women’s writing. It is awarded annually for the best work of literature.
Women who revealed their gender suffered prejudice. These authors include Rosa Praed, Ada Cambridge, Christina Stead and Tasma the pen name for Jessie Couvreur.
We have barely heard of Mary Hannay Foott (1846 – 1918), Queensland’s first female journalist, who is attributed to inventing bush poetry. Despite her prodigious talent she was relegated to the “Housekeeper” column and the “Women’s Page”. A small consolation occurred in 1895, when she undertook two major interviews with women writers for The Queenslander. The first was with the famous novelist Rosa Praed who wrote of Gladstone. The was second was with Melbourne journalist Florence Blair.
Many of these names are no longer recognised. They were often denigrated as lady novelists whose work was frivolous, commercial and marginalised.
The names we do recognise such as Miles Franklin and Henry Handel Richardson still do not have their work published under their actual name. Publisher Percy Reginald Stephensen (1901 – 1965) from Maryborough, Queensland published these women’s works under several publishing companies. These included P.R. Stephensen and Endeavour Press. He knew because of the gender bias, they would suffer if they used their real names.
He also published the first Aboriginal authored newsletter Abo Call … but that is another story.
Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at City University of New York. This text was first published in 1972. What Chesler does is validate that most mental illness in women is due to conditioned behaviour. “The cumulative effect of being forced to lead a circumscribed life is toxic. The psychic toll is measured in anxiety, depression, phobias, suicide attempts, eating disorders, and such stress-related illnesses as addiction, alcoholism, high blood pressure, and heart disease.” However, when these women go to seek help, they are classified as healthy, neurotic or psychotic by a patriarchal system. 90% of psychiatrists are male and the measure for a healthy woman is based on a gender bias that sees them as less competitive and more submissive than a healthy man. By these standards, the normal female is neurotic. When women seek help, they compound their mental illness because the system is patriarchal. It further enforces conditioning that requires them to be quiet and compliant. Chesler raises more questions and finishes the book with 13. The most significant of these being – where is a woman to seek the real help she needs to break free from this toxic conditioning? This book is both revolutionary and prescient.
Each read of this fifty-six-year-old classic reveals more nuances about the Australian identity. Set in post-war Melbourne suburbs, this seminal piece is a retelling by David Meredith of his life. His mother is a nurse who houses Gallipoli invalids including Meredith’s father. Suffering PTSD, he is a brutal alcoholic who displays unpredictability and weakness. The circumstances are so familiar, like an echo from within the walls of many homes from that time. Still to this day jingoism and heroic idealism is trotted out every Anzac Parade. Millions of dollars are syphoned into war memorials and ceremonies to recognise the tragedy of those who died. What this novel does is look at the consequences for those who survived. The family violence such as typified by Meredith being beaten unconscious by his father; the mother living in fear of her life; the grotesque disabilities of those men she nursed who could not survive independently; split open the myth of winning and national pride. Meredith’s brother Jack, considered the moral compass of the family, yearned for active service. When he was injured on home ground and could not participate, he felt this was an affront to his manliness and lost his way. We also get to be voyeurs of Meredith’s awful treatment of his wife. This is a consequence of his own epiphany about the emptiness of the suburban dream. Johnston’s writing evokes a melancholic nostalgia of the sprawling suburbs. The anti-war message is achieved simply by describing the reality of Australia at that time. The reverberations of these wars are still felt today, and Johnston’s observations still have chilling relevance.
Rejection is particularly difficult to handle for perfectionists and high achievers. As a writer you will have to get ready for a lot of it. Publishers, editors, agents and readers can reject your work in polite or nasty ways. Modesty can be important but when this slips into overwhelming self-doubt, as you internalise the criticism, it can be paralysing. Many writers are high achievers and it takes an enormous effort to share your manuscript. Criticism can be like getting the carpet pulled out from under you. We want to share four tips to make the experience less painful.
Do not take it personally.
Not everyone likes oranges. You might be an orange and you write like an orange. Some people really hate oranges, some people really like oranges and some people do not care either way. If you try and please everyone one, you will end up with a manuscript that lacks authenticity and a voice. Also, many publishers want your work to fit a certain cast. If it does not suit their commercial needs, it does not mean that your story lacks integrity. Sometimes you may be so unique that people without vision do not understand your work.
Feed off the confidence and courage of those around you.
Join a writer’s group and find a mentor. This can help you realise that everybody experiences rejection. Writers are very supportive of other writers. There are many online writing communities that are motivational to the members. Mentors inspire us. They encourage us when we doubt ourselves and spur us to keep practising and moving forward. They ignite creativity and support us to be resilient and persistent.
Listen to the constructive criticism.
Some feedback employs the radical candour model. They care whilst providing challenging and honest feedback. It is important to listen to this feedback as it makes you a better writer. For example, being told your writing is too flowery or descriptive gives you something to work on. Even if you love the description you use, toning it down will make your story more accessible. Nasty generalisations such as you cannot write, or this is terrible are just demoralising and should be ignored.
You can build your confidence by self-publishing. Everyone should have access to feedback about their writing and support to take it to the next step. A community is robbed of its richness if there is a lack of diverse voices telling their story. If your ideas are considered problematic, difficult, upsetting or provocative you may be silenced. Stories different to ours help enlarge our world and fill it with multiplicity. Reach out to Mary River Press Services if you want help to publish your manuscript.
Le Guin’s writing is beautiful, political and too immense for one genre. She intricately and quietly draws us through her compelling story about the twin worlds of Urras and Anarres. Anarres has split from Urras, is anarchist and the home of physicist, Shevek. He believes his studies on time, called the Principle of Simultaneity, can only be completed on Urras, so he travels to find more freedom. He attempts to increase the communication between to the two realms, after 200 years of very little contact, but finds himself alienated from both. The novel is a discussion of all sorts of societies. Le Guin does not endorse any specific one but directly drives us towards clarity. She does warn of the radicalisation of any stance. Starting from real world situations, she then presents new and ground-breaking options. The disconnection that capitalism causes is illustrated by Shevek’s reaction to Saemtenevia Prospect ‘All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relation to the things but that of possession’. He is also ‘appalled by the examination system when it was explained to him; he could not imagine a greater deterrent to the natural wish to learn than this pattern of cramming in information and disgorging it at demand’. Although she recognises the drawbacks of the capitalist Urras, Anarres requires its citizens to experience great physical labour and scarcity. Questions about: whether morality is internal or should be externally imposed; if total freedom is possible and what hardships must be experienced to set up a new society with vastly different foundations; are teased out in this novel. She concludes that building a better society is an action/response process that needs to be innovative and progressive. Although this was written in 1974 in response to the Vietnam war dilemma, it is very relevant to our current leadership concerns and social limitations. That is testimony to her brilliance.
Patricia Lockwood shares her memories of life growing up in the Midwest of America with her father who underwent “the deepest conversion on record”. His change from atheist to a catholic priest occurred after being locked in a submarine watching the exorcist while serving in the navy. The memoir tracks her return to her family’s home, with husband and cat in tow. Priest Daddy is fun in parts but deeply intimate in others. The impact of a rather perverted view of sexuality and Patricia’s evolution out of that world is highlighted. “Ah Well, I can’t argue with that,” I say, silently adding…without making myself crazy for the rest of my life”. Patricia and her mother go on vacation together. Once out of the shadow of her father’s dominance her mother begins to blossom. “My mother’s feminism goes on four wheels… Here in the rarefied space of the car…she tries something out. She says, “I think this song is sexist”. The fast moving story draws us along. The eight months she lives at home brings up memories pivotal to Lockwood’s growth that remind us of harsher realities. Personal crystallisations of experience delve us into her world. Acceptance is part of this coming of age story and is core to the family remaining close despite their different takes on the world.
Many self-publishing authors do not have a lot of money to spend on getting their book to publication standard. Most require a little assistance to get the manuscript completed. Do you know what a reasonable fee is for editing or proofreading your text? Do you know what roles there are that participate in this process? Mary River Press Services aims to answer these questions.
There are seven main roles that can be involved in content creation.
This role can produce any content including ghost writing, rewriting existing raw manuscripts and creating new material for articles and reports.
Editors can manage the project and develop the book from the beginning through to the final product. These editors are often called production editors and are rarely used by self-publishers. Editors can also change the structure and rewrite the manuscript. These types of editors are often called content or line editors. The final and probably most important type of editor for a self-publisher is the copyeditor. This role checks spelling, grammar and punctuation. They also check for accuracy and consistency.
A proof-reader looks for surface errors such as typographical and typesetting issues. At Mary River Press Services proofing also includes spelling, punctuation, grammar and other language mistakes. We also provide the option of academic assignment feedback and fiction appraisal.
Researchers verify the information you have in your manuscript and picture researchers arrange the images and gain permissions for their use.
The desktop publisher/designer.
These roles ensure texts are formatted, illustrations are arranged aesthetically, and pages are presented accurately. When you provide the text, Mary River Press Services can layout the content ready for publication.
The indexer lists all references and concepts towards the end of the project.
This role rewrites content into a different language from existing material.
Once you have decided to employ one of these roles to assist with your project you need to be sure that the rate you pay is reasonable. If you pay too little, you probably will not get a quality outcome. You also do not want to pay too much and be left out of pocket by using an unscrupulous company or individual.
When you are seeking a quote, you need to be clear on what the contract covers. Additional days of work caused by changing your mind will be chargeable.
Are you a control freak? Do you want your book out quickly? If so, then self-publishing is for you!
The biggest benefit of self-publishing a book is that you maintain control over the product. If you have esoteric interests or wish to maintain the integrity of your work, the self-publishing process ensures you maintain the quality of the end-product.
1. Self-publishing has creative freedom and flexibility.
With traditional publishing you do not have very much creative freedom or flexibility. Once you sell the rights to your book, it can be changed. Traditional publishers are looking for books that fit a certain cast. The publishers will either reject the book or ask for changes, if it does not suit their preferences.
2. Speed to market is quick.
The process of publishing a book is slow with traditional publishers. It may take two to three years or more to get your book to market. This is because lots of people are putting their opinion into changes they think your book needs. A self-publisher has total creative freedom and flexibility. Once you are happy with your book, you can upload it and within 24 to 48 hours it is available for purchase.
3. Production requirements are minimal.
Traditional publishers do not charge to publish your book and there is no upfront charge. You get an advance and you do not get any extra money until that book has earnt that amount of money back. As the publisher takes the risk when publishing your book, they end up receiving most of the sale profits.
If a publisher asks you for money upfront, they are scamming you. These types of businesses are called vanity press or subsidy publishing businesses. They take your manuscript and charge between $5000 and $20000 to publish it. They take zero risk, outlay no funds and do not take responsibility for errors. Be aware of and avoid these businesses who prey on the vulnerable.
With self-publishing you are the publisher, so you must carry out the proofing, editing, graphic design and marketing. If you outsource those tasks to a company but upload the product yourself, it is called assisted publishing. Mary River Press Services fall into the assisted publishing category. You pay upfront for those outsourced tasks.
4. You can determine the quality of your self-published book.
Both traditional and self-publishers can produce very high-quality books. If you learn how to format the book and create a good book cover, you can achieve as high a quality product as a traditional publisher. You can also outsource tasks, and for a moderate fee you can still produce a high-quality product. You need to shop around to find a company that supplies good quality services at an idea cost for you.
5. You choose how to distribute and market your book.
Traditional publishers may not provide a lot of marketing dollars for your book. They often expect you to do most of the marketing. Self-publishers must do all the marketing. If you are not going to get lots of support both publishing methods are similar. You can distribute your self-published book in a similar way to traditional publishers. These opportunities vary depending on which platform you self-publish on.
6. There are few legal pitfalls.
Traditional publishers can have do not compete clauses. These can stop you self-publishing as this would compete with their modified version of your book . Another part of a traditional publishing contract is the grant of rights clauses. These can take a lot from you without remunerating you for it, and you lose control of your book. The other clause that is important in these contracts is reversion of rights. These cover the steps of getting the rights of your book back. If you sign a bad contract, you might have to wait up to 35 years to get the copyright of your book back. The self-publishing method has few legal implications if you are an honest author. If you do not follow a retailer’s terms of service, and try and run a scam on a platform such as Amazon, they will not let you sell on there anymore. If you abide by the terms of services of the retailer you will not have any legal problems.
If you love Greek mythology Circe is for you. Madeline Miller creates a world based on the enchantress. Circe is the daughter of the sun god Helios and Oceanid nymph, Perse. Circe has long been an inspiration in literature. Homer and James Joyce wrote of her. She was a powerful sorceress who turned sailors into pigs. She is emasculating and potent. In Madeline’s first-person story, Circe reveals her emotions. She is not traditionally beautiful like her mother. At her birth, when her mother imagined her betrothed to a son of Zeus, Helios states “No. Her hair is streaked like a lynx. And her chin. There is a sharpness to it that is less than pleasing.” In a world full of arrogant, narcissistic and vengeful Gods, she rises in her strength. She discovers her powers and befriends mortals. The solitary birth of her first child “I knew so little of childbirth, its stages and progression. The shadows changed, but it was all one endless moment, the pain like stones grinding me to meal …On it went. In my agonies, I overturned a table.” and her independence make Circe relevant. The embellished tale is peppered with many characters from Greek mythology. Out of this tradition rises a unique retelling with a women’s inner world at the core.
Papers transported to Melbourne inside a metal trunk are the basis of Carey’s story. Broken up into age brackets, it chronicles Ned’s life from his point of view. Events of his life show his humanity. After his father’s passing, Ned felt “there would never be a knot or a rabbit I skun or a horse I rode that I did not see those small eyes watching to see I done it right .” His brothers and sisters remain peripheral to the tale. Carey can write rich stories about complex women. The pivotal character of Ned’s story is his mother, Ellen. A candid portrayal of her giving birth with only 11-year-old Ned to help establishes her strength. Ned’s love of his newborn sister Kate is expressed as he looked into “her eyes so clear and untroubled.” This provides a window into his sensitive nature. The aspirations and successes of this poor rural family is simply stated. Ned was a leader. The community recognition he received when he rescued a drowning boy was one of his proudest moments. These early years and his connection to his mother explain why things evolved as they did in his later life. Carey has taken a myth and replaced it with a real family. We understand them, as they try to survive as selectors in the unmanaged and merciless Australian countryside.
Firstly, you need to know their name, age, occupation, happiest memory, worst memory, best friend, favourite food, nationality and hopes for the future. Knowing about their family life, where they live and what talents they possess further develops this creation.
The primary character is called the protagonist. The antagonist is the character that is causing the main character problems. Secondary characters are peripheral to the main story.
The rising tension between the protagonist and antagonist makes the story much more exciting.
You can develop these characters by:
1. Using their actions.
In Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, an insight into Ned’s leadership skills was provided through his action of saving a drowning boy. “Never one to wait I were swimming in the flooded creek before I knew it the water so fast and cold it would take your breath like a pooka steals your soul.” The fact that he found the drowning boy because he was avoiding the lockup where is dad was kept also expands our understanding of the inner world of this character.
2. Using other character’s reactions to them.
Ellen Kelly, Ned’s mother, knows that her son is steadfast and will do as she asks. Even though he did not want to tell his father that his sister Grace was born, Ellen told him to “Go tell your da he has a little girl” because she knew she could rely on him.
3. Using language to describe them.
There is a rule with adjectives. They are always in this order: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose, noun. So, I would describe Ned as a sensitive, small, thin, Irish child. Their house would be a small, 19th-century, square, slab hut. Use of figurative language such as similes and metaphors allow the writer to illustrate subtle and specific attributes and appearances of characters.
Carey has Ned describe Ellen Kelly’s eyes “it aint the cold I remember but the light of the tallow candle it were golden on my mother’s cheeks it shone in her great dark eyes bright and fierce as a native cat to defend her fatherless brood”.
4. Using their reaction to the rising action of the plot.
An example can be found in Roald Dahl’s morbid short story, The Way Up to Heaven from the Tales of the Unexpected series. Mrs Foster’s reaction to her tormenting husband as the action rises, provides a surprising dimension to the seemingly fragile character. She suddenly becomes assertive and leaves her husband behind. It is unknown whether she knew he would die from being trapped in the lift. This change of character from submissive to assertive suggests she knew very well what she was doing.
5. Through their thoughts and words.
Carey’s Ned Kelly reveals his sensitivity when he states, “I did not wish to leave my new sister with her soft downy black hair and her white skin how it glowed like sepulchre inside that earth floored hut.”
The dialogue of a character is difficult to create at first. Here are some tips that may help with the dialogue.
Showing attention can be communicated by the character leaning in, asking questions and having strong eye contact.
Showing lack of attention can be communicated by the character leaning back and using antagonistic body language such as eyes rolling or looking away, closing arms and shrugging.
Anxious disposition can be shown by the character having difficulty being still, fiddling, moving jerkily, breaking eye contact (by looking away, up or down), rubbing self or responding hesitantly.
Rage or exasperation can be shown by the character having a tight or low tone, set jaw, tight neck, strong grip, and short staccato sentences.
A character can be shown to be lying by speaking fast and flitting their eyes, delaying reactions, changing the topic, being defensive, standing aloofly, using closed body language such as crossing arms, demanding a big personal space, twitching, strange scratching or fidgeting.
If you follow all these suggestions, your character development will be as Mary Poppin’s announces “Spit Spot”.
A fun fact about this saying is that it follows a special type of grammar rule called an ablaut reduplication, but that is a topic for another blog.
Enjoy developing your characters and don’t forget to enter your story into the Mary River Press Services Short Story Prize, closing on the 1st November, 2020.
Exposition means background details provided by the storyteller or narrator. It is sometimes called setting the scene.
In a short story everything hangs on the start. You need an explosive start to grab the reader’s attention. Skilful writers can introduce key information about settings, characters and themes. The best authors can intrigue the reader enough for them to go further. Short stories do not have the luxury of starting slow. Hooking the reader in the first paragraph is essential.
1. Be imaginative when introducing intriguing information about your characters.
Gillian Mears starts the first paragraph of her collection of short stories Ride a Cock (1988):
Sss, sss, sss, the men sounded deadly and wielded imaginary whips. Beetle lifted his leg at the bottom of one pair of trousers, but nobody yelled or noticed. Albert laughed secretly and pressed on to be within sight of the finishing post.
Background information we need for this story is found in this paragraph.
We learn about one of the main characters. We know that his name is Albert and he is somewhat sardonic. Also he has a dog called Beetle and is keen on the races.
There is information about the setting. We know they are at the track and the horses are racing to the finish line.
This makes the reader ask more questions. It suggests interesting character information and hints at Albert’s motivations.
The fourth paragraph:
‘Go it girl,’ he hugged himself tightly as he recognised the big bay mare he’d bet Jinnie would lead all the way. From where he stood, she looked a certainty. Then suddenly it came to Albert that she was yawing into the straight all wrong.
The introduction of Jinnie, the second character occurs and we want to know more about the mare.
2. Create questions readers want answered.
Mears has cleverly piqued our curiosity. She has done this in the following ways.
There is involvement with the characters and what they will do: Why is the dog there? Why are they racing? How is Albert involved? Who is Jinnie?
There is a dramatic event without explanation: Why is the mare not running correctly? Why is this so important?
3. Use dramatic contrast.
The scene starts with the mundane act of going to the track with a pup. We can already sense something is wrong with the situation and anything but ordinary. The strange circumstances are juxtaposed to an everyday occurrence.
4. Use a strong narrators voice or a memorable setting.
A strong narrator’s voice combines with a captivating start in Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (1999):
“Have I told you the drone’s penis snaps off during intercourse with the queen bee?” asked Augusta.
‘Yes,” said Rose. “Many times.”
Before August dragged her luggage upstairs to the apartment, before she checked on the welfare of her elderly husband, Karl, even before she hugged and greeted her seven kittens, she had made her way, with the aid of a cane, across the uneven ground to inspect the hive of bees she kept in Rose’s garden.
A memorable setting is found in her second book. This detailed setting exposition is intensely nostalgic.
“When it came looking for me I was in the hollow stump by Turtle Creek at the spot where the deep pool was hidden by low hanging bushes, where the fishing was the very best and only my brother and I figured we knew of it. Now, in spring, the stump blossomed purple and yellow violets so profusely that it became something holy and worth pondering. Come fall, the stump was flagrantly, shamefully red in a coat of dying leaves from the surrounding trees. This was my stump, where I stored my few illicit treasures: the lipstick my mother smuggled home for me in a bag of rice; the scrap of red velvet…
Told through the eyes of 15-year-old Beth, living in rural Canada, this novel is an intense sensory experience set during World War Two. Anderson-Dargatz’s lament for yesteryear is driven by the reflection of the first-person narrator. This places it in the memory of the storyteller. The nostalgic treatment delivers a lyrical history amidst a stunning landscape of purple swallows and green skies.
The remote Turtle Valley in Canada almost becomes a character in its own right, as the poignant significance of it threads through the novel.
Monkey Grip, Helen Garner’s first novel, is raw. The portrayal of single mother Nora and heroin addict Javo’s life is now cemented as a classic. Written in 1977, it started her long career. She delves into authentic experiences of Australian life and disregards writing rules. She has mastery of the short story form. In 2017 her fiction short stories were published in Stories. A companion called True Stories carried her non-fiction work. Helen Garner is refreshingly honest. Postcards from Surfers is the pick in this collection. It is so accessible and filled with familiar landscapes. From the arrival “Miles ahead of us, blurred in the milky air, I see a dream city: its cream and its silver, its turquoise towers thrust in a cluster from the distant spit.” to the keen observation “the odd balcony on the half-empty tower holds rich people out into the creamy air”. It races to a conclusion dropping clues along the way. These are written on postcards to Philip, a character from another life. Lorna her aunt, is like everybody’s aunt who lives on the Gold Coast. Her father appears steadfast until intimate glimpses of their relationship are shared in postcard sized snippets. The story teeters from her beginnings in Geelong to her cosmopolitan life travelling. It leaves us with more questions than answers as she shares pivotal points of her growth. She is so candid and graceful, it takes your breath away.
Have you lost your mojo? Are you being squeezed into the norms of the working day? Are you squashed as the world awards status to those who possess logical and linguistic intelligence? Is the everyday experience of having people point out spelling mistakes crushing your confidence? Guess what? Some people can more easily remember and follow rules. These people mistakenly believe that because of this they are superior. The education system has traditionally rewarded regurgitating students and has ignored those who learn and understand in different ways. With advances in writing programs these people’s skills are exposed as less effective than spelling and grammar apps.
Children are naturally creative in a myriad of ways. This flame is doused as we move through formal education and employment. We do not grieve this loss until we find we are unmotivated and morose in our everyday activities, as we sleepwalk towards the grave.
You can nurture your creativity by utilising all your intelligences to their full potential. This will help you harness new ways of expression and problem solving.
Here are ten ways to get started.
Ask questions. Come up with your first query and then write five variations for the same issue. For example, How do I get rid of cockroaches?, could also be, How do I attract cockroaches into my bin? What do cockroaches like? Where do cockroaches sleep? What animals eat cockroaches? The better question evolves out of this process.
Reinterpret what is already working but use it for different purposes. The most original people have simply hidden the source of their inspiration.
Engage an aware and open attitude to all forms of knowledge. Learn something new such as a Tik Tok dance or how to surf. Remember to have fun and imagine. When you play with toys your mind can meander – play doh, collage and silly putty are all joyful textural experiences. Arouse your senses. Work hard on something and then leave it incomplete. This allows time for your unconscious mind to incubate and your ingenuity will blossom.
Use free association to generate different words and ideas. For example, you start with the word cockroaches and come up with flight (you can’t use another insect).You might then come up with aeroplane.
List unusual names for usual objects. For example, a giraffe may be a spotted stretch.
Schedule time to brainstorm and journal. This will allow you to gather ideas that inspire you and will increase awareness of creative vision in your everyday life.
Combine ideas. Look in the second draw of two different desks and combine two objects to create a toy. It might be that you find a pair of shorts and some string – can you make a kite? Go to the last and first photograph in your phone and use these to set a scene for a short story. Enter it into our short story competition.
Create similes, metaphors and analogies using common day objects. Is a kettle screeching like the thoughts in your head?
Write ideas on sticky notes and join associated ideas. Compare idea groups and choose the best one.
Do something physical. Often when you have been thinking about something for a long time you have lots of information and ideas. Having worked for a protracted time on trying to find an answer or opportunity, you begin to feel frustrated. Your mind feels overwhelmed, as you have pushed it trying to find a solution. This is the time to give your mind a chance to forget by doing something simple like going for a bush walk, playing sport or watching a movie. Your unconscious mind takes over and gets to work on a solution. This is called incubation and it is when you get the greatest insight.
The gestalt moment occurs. Sudden clarity emerges and you have an idea that you can share. People will give you feedback. Read the Enigma of Reason to understand more about this process. Be sure to critique, edit and add to your idea and most importantly, enjoy the process!
The best way to get started is by writing a short story. There are lots of short story competitions you can enter that will test your skills. The Australian Writer’s Resource Competition page is updated regularly and lists current competitions found by trawling other sites. Mary River Press Services’ annual competition can be found on our competition page .
The requirements of these competitions vary so paying close attention to the details is important. You need to master the standard narrative arc of a short story before you can then break all the rules. A standard short story is a fictional work that is usually less than 7500 words and includes one plot, one or two characters, a central theme and one setting. The best short stories present an unusual perspective and are rich in figurative language.
There are four main parts of a short story:
The first part of the narrative arc in a short story is where you set the scene. This is commonly called the exposition. Everything hangs on the start. It must be explosive to catch the reader’s attention straight away. You need to hook them on the rest of the story. There are not enough words to slowly build up the interest. Make your story start with a thrilling and compelling beginning.
A transition to rising action occurs next usually due to a difficulty or conflict which results in heightened drama. Use this conflict and tension in the story to show and expand the character. This reduces the number of words you need for character development and enables you to be brief with their role in the story.
A climax is then reached which is the most exciting and interesting point in the piece. In this genre this is often extreme and immediately shows the psychology and behaviour of the character to the reader.
Finally, there is the denouement where the strands of the plot draw together and a resolution is reached. The story ends.
Make sure you carefully proofread your manuscript before submitting and get help to polish your story. Make a start and good luck!
Told through the eyes of 15-year-old Beth, living in rural Canada, this novel is an intense sensory experience set during World War Two. She befriends the local Indian kids and the rich spiritual and natural world they share enables her to survive the sexual abuse and increasing violence her PTSD suffering father imposes on her. Supernatural enchantment abounds and the line between reality and imagination is blurred as the Indian legend of coyote haunts her. She survives the cruel environment, finding friendship with other outsiders. Filthy Billy has Tourette’s Syndrome and works on her father’s farm and is key to the supernatural suspense. Her other friend, Nora is an alluring Indian girl who provides sanctuary as Beth’s world spins out of control. Their grandmother, Bertha Moses, has a masculine voice and two little fingers. Bertha weaves together the stories Beth reads in her mother’s scrapbook and her experiences of the supernatural. This is an all-time favourite and a very rare, raw, and beautiful work that evokes a longing for the harsh beauty of the country.
Gustav and Kate Weindorfer walked the Tasmanian bush in an historic yesterday where the sublime power and enchantment of the wilderness was untouched. Through the Naturalist’s Club, they found a sense of belonging and freedom from the confining strictures of civilised life. We first learn of the Tasmanian landscape when Kate’s love of botany is paused to appreciate the view of land surrounding Mount Roland near her home town of Kindred –she feels ”the silent outreach of the soul towards eternal beauty”(p12). Having recently stayed in the shadow of this” dramatic thrust of basalt” (p11) I felt the longing for the vanished world that is so lyrically brought to life by author Kate Legge.
The Naturalist’s Club is where Kate meets Gustav. Although she had explored her homeland with her brothers sayshaying “upwards in ankle- length skirt” (p11), her desire to save Cradle Mountain was lit by her membership. Kindred tells us of a world that was populatedby hobbyists who drove scientific enquiry. Kate Cowl (later becoming Weindorfer), regardless of status or lack of qualifications could share her intimate knowledge of this part of Tasmania with this group. Her love affair with Gustav and their shared dream of tourism in National Parks opened the wilderness to the invasive glare of the world. This awakening to the treasures of Cradle Mountain ultimately led to its conservation. Kate’s role was reduced due to her premature death, but Gustav kept true to their vision. Kate and Gustav wanted a road to Cradle Mountain and although both died before it was built, their legacy remains. The Mountain had 38 visitors in 1916; a century later 280 000 visitors view the panoramas the Weindorfers held as hallowed. This is a well- researched lament for yesteryear driven by Kate and Gustav’s yearning for wild places and each other
This book contends with the question of what makes us human by taking us through the history of philosophical ponderings from Descartes to Martin Luther King, from Hermann von Helmholtz to Nietzsche. The authors step us through their theory regarding the purpose of reason and why it developed in humans. Examples demonstrate why we work best in communities and why scrutiny is essential to determine the best ideas. An explanation of how reason and logic sit side by side comfortably with gut instincts and inference and how they are really all part of the same continuum. What is unique about humans was proposed and in this time of technology, this theory reinforces how this cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence. This is another arrow in the defence of soft skills and their importance to human success in combination with logic.
The manuscript examines critical thought around why reason has developed only in humans. It proposes that it is not separate to cognition but a metacognitive skill that helps us rationalise our actions and decisions to ourselves and others. Quotes from Martin Luther King are used to postulate it is flawed to use reason to justify faith or religion; indicating reason is only useful in certain contexts. The authors also suggest some of the inferences we come to are so fast that we are not aware of the cognitive processes involved in coming to these decisions and that our perceptions are informed and misinformed by previous experience. The evolution of reason, they argue, is to rationalise actions and this can come to good conclusions when these rationalisations are analysed by a group with similar goals. This springs from the fact that people are better at evaluating than producing arguments and human irrationality is corrected when assessed by others. It explains why we work better as a community and highlights how precisely we have evolved to be a social species.
Gillian Mears was born into a family of four girls and wrote about Grafton in her first novel. In this intensely sublime work of art ‘she writes like an angel’. Clementine has stayed in the small country town as her other ingenious and artistic sisters abandon her for the city, one by one. Her memories are filled with her creative mother who craved to make her mundane life more fulfilled. Clementine has chosen security over opportunity and her world is desolate. This is a raw account of the intense grief Clementine feels after losing her glamorous mother in a car accident. She chooses a relationship that suffocates her whilst also keeping her safe. The dis-empowerment she feels at 25 resonates deeply and her profound craving to fulfil her potential is intimately detailed.
This is a cross between Brave New World and mythology. The author’s lyrical prose slowly interlaces a malevolent drama with avarice. Power is apotheosized with children as causalities. The story begins as a slow burn that concludes in an explosion that provides hope and light. The main protagonist, James Reed, is a Frankenstein like creation put together by alchemist and children’s author Asphodel Baker. He learns the art of alchemy and begins cloning children with the power to do magical things, like change lead into gold. Investors clamour to own these children who will bolster their wealth. James has a far more sinister desire. He creates interdependent twins, Roger and Dodger, to be the catalyst that will allow his ascension to all powerful divinity. The twins have other ideas. Will they be able to use their mastery of language and maths to make this unattainable?
This is book two in the Long Winter Series. Our planet has been thrust into another ice age. Migration to the only habitable areas left has resulted in chaos, with people languishing in refugee camps with nowhere to call home. The dystopian view of the world mirrors earth. Technology and unity save humanity. Drones, AI and innovative genius all feature against a backdrop of family life, factions and risk that will keep you in suspense till the end. This is a fun read. Scientists, James and Emma, the main protagonists, now have a family and will do anything to ensure humanities’ survival. The bedlam that erupted in book one emerges again just as people feel that the war may be over, and they can go back to normal. When three asteroids from the Kuiper Belt are found to be bearing down on Earth, it cannot be denied that the lethal Grid has returned. Although trust is tested, the three factions formed on earth must now work together to fight pathogens and predators in a new world.
This is a seminal book that will change your life. Germaine is able to eloquently describe things women experience in a way that makes you feel less alone and heard. Her research is undeniably impeccable, and her discussion is visionary. The media has lampooned Germaine. She very clearly describes the misogynistic and ageist way that outspoken women are treated, and it is no irony that she is now subject to this treatment. Germaine’s work is something that must be considered as a whole. Her work is as relevant today as ever, and despite cries to the contrary – the woman question has not been answered. Her erudition and enquiry push us from our complacency.
This book allows you to reimagine pre-European Australia. Dark Emu is a factual explanation of pre-European Aboriginal agricultural practices.It puts to rest the simplification of the hunter-gatherer nomadic life of Aboriginal people and provides evidence of a complex land management system that sustained life for 40 000 years. The ignorance and arrogance of those who claimed ownership of this land saw this flourishing country diminish within a few short years. The legacy of this is still felt throughout the continent.Bruce Pascoe is an academic. There is no judgement in this book, just well researched new evidence that shines a light on the intricate relationship Aboriginal people have with their land and the vast knowledge they possess.
My first writing mentor was Colin Thiele, even though he didn’t know it. I was in primary school and living in a small regional area in Queensland. We got the opportunity to attend an author talk by him at another school. I felt excited as I was herded onto a bus for the trip across town. Once there, we were led through the school grounds to sit in the library and listen, in wonder, to this man who had such a sublime mastery of language. He was so encouraging and entertaining. He also assured us that it was completely possible to become a writer. He left us with his address and promised to help us if we wanted to correspond. I wrote him a letter almost immediately. However, as days bled into each other, I did not send it as I did not feel confident and feared failure. Finally, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and posted it. I was amazed when he replied. This author who had written over one hundred books and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (probably around the time he visited) had found the time to hand write a letter to me. I have often reflected on what he wrote. He joked that the letter must have come via tortoise, as the date it was written was much earlier than the date it arrived. He also said that my desire to become a writer was entirely possible and he could see that potential in the letter I had written to him. His advice was to continue to practise and if I did, I would succeed. Do you remember who influenced you to write? Having a mentor helps us reach our potential in several ways.
Inspiration. They encourage us when we doubt ourselves and spur us to keep practising and moving forward. They ignite creativity and support us to be resilient and persistent.
Radical candour. They can care personally about us whilst providing challenging and honest feedback.
Objective perspective. When writing, it is easy to become completely absorbed in the process. This prevents us from seeing things that a mentor, coming to the writing with a fresh perspective, will see. This objective perspective will improve your writing and keep it on the right path.
Find our voice. It is often very difficult to find your authentic voice when you begin writing. A mentor can help determine what is genuine and what aspects of your writing don’t serve you well.
Set goals. A mentor can help you set goals and check in to see if you are meeting them. This helps us to stay conscientiously on our path to success.
Your mentor does not have to be a professional writer. They simply need to care for you and your goals and be willing to be honest about your writing. Writing groups, friends and family can all be sources of support. A mentor needs to have similar interests and values to the writer and be willing to provide the type of expertise you need at the time. Are you just looking for a reader to point out the weaknesses in your plot or are you looking for someone to assist you with the eBook publishing process? Mary River Press Services can assist at any stage of your writing process.
One of the great things about technology is that it has opened up the world of publishing to everyone. Well almost everyone. If you are not tech savvy, can’t type and have trouble spelling, it is still difficult. Take heart because W.B Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and was unable to spell even simple words! The most common platform for self-publishing eBooks is Amazon KDP. They have a really good step by step guide.
Greater than or equal to 3 megabytes and less than 10 megabytes
10 megabytes or greater
70% Royalty Option
The joy of self-publishing is that it is limitless. If you are willing to put in the work – and you will have to do all the work – you can get your writing out there. You will be completely responsible for every aspect of its evolution. If you are not ready for this, there is the assisted model of self-publishing, where you do some of the work and get assistance with design, formatting, editing and marketing. Mary River Press Services can help beginner writers navigate publishing with this support.
Identity, voice and representation are the cornerstones of knowledge and power. A community is robbed of its richness if there is a lack of diverse voices telling their story. This is clear when looking at history. Much of Maryborough was borne from Chinese labour and yet not one picture of the bedazzling Chinese shops that lined the main street can be found. Their story was deemed not important enough to be told. If you know that your story or the way you tell it is different, you often lack confidence to share it. If your ideas are considered problematic, difficult, upsetting or provocative you may be silenced. But those who hold views that generate controversy, help us in the evolution and assessment of our own position and thinking. Stories that are different to ours help enlarge our world and fill it with multiplicity. How do we include everyone? How can everyone’s stories be told? Firstly, we should not feel we can only publish writing or creative works that are perfect and polished. We should have digital spaces where we can experiment and play with words and other creative formats. So, what if the spelling and punctuation is not faultless – is the idea exhilarating? We should be able to put up our best efforts without fear of being judged as unworthy. Also, we should all be able to afford to publish our works. Everyone should have access to feedback about their writing and support to take it to the next step, without having to pay enormous sums demanded by the publishing houses. Give me the writing that is repulsive, enraptured, ravenous, ravished and broken, authentic, current and timeless – for this is where the stories of humanity can be found.