Great review of Inside Story in Magpies!

Delighted to see a wonderful review of Inside Story (for which I was one of the principal writers and compilers) in the latest issue of the prestigious children’s literature publication, Magpies Magazine. See below.

There’s also, in the same issue, a three-page interview with me and Kathy Creamer, another of the main writers/compilers, about how the book was created and produced. Not available online, but you can check out Magpies Magazine subscriptions here: for anyone interested in Australian and New Zealand children’s books, Magpies is an absolute must!

Looking forward to the Dubbo Writers’ Festival!

I am much looking forward to the Dubbo Writers’ Festival, which is on this coming weekend, 9-11 September, in Dubbo of course! The theme is ‘Shorts’–with a feast of practical workshops on short fiction, short poetry, short blog posts, as well as consultations with publishers, an In-Conversation, and a ‘submissions spur’. I’m presenting at several events, see below. You can get tickets and the full program via this link here.

Friday Sept 9:

Saturday:

Sunday will be the Submissions Spur, 2-4pm.

Crowdfunding campaign to launch Pardalote Press

Exciting news! The wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington and I have established Pardalote Press, a tiny Press making small surprising things. We’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign this morning to support our first two projects, Bird’s Eye View and Wayfarer. Bird’s Eye View is a chapbook of words—poetry and prose—and black and white images, which together form glimpses into the world of birds, and the world as seen by birds. Wayfarer is a unique set of sixteen beautiful full colour cards which in words and pictures take you on a journey of mystery, magic and meaning.

The campaign is to raise funds towards production and printing of the projects. We hope you might be interested in having a look! Here’s the direct link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pardalote-press-launch#/

You can learn more about the Press and our first two projects on our website, and social media: Facebook and Instagram. There’s also a great little news item about it at Books+Publishing. And here below are a few words from Lorena and I, extracted from that article, as to why we started Pardalote Press:

It was in fact a mock medieval bestiary—published as an appendix to our joint book Magical Tales from French Camelotwhich first made us think of the idea of working on unusual little projects. We started with the idea of Bird’s Eye View, and then, later, came the idea for Wayfarer.

We knew these were a bit too left-field to fit into mainstream publishing lists, so decided to create our own tiny press to produce them and other things we might come up with.

So–do check us out, have a look, and if you are interested, we would be very grateful for your support in the launch of this tiny press making small surprising things to help the imagination take flight!

Republishing in print of three of my fantasy novels

I’m very pleased to announce that Cold Iron, The Green Prince and The Firebird, my three YA fantasy novels that were originally selected for the fabulous Untapped project and republished as ebooks available to buy and borrow, will now also be republished in print, by Brio Books/Booktopia. The books were originally published in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and were popular with readers, so it’s wonderful to see them acquire a new lease of life in both print and e-editions. And just look at their striking new print covers, below! (You can also see a link to the page for each book, under its cover.) The novels are being published over July, August and September this year within the Untapped series, which includes lots of other wonderful, previously out of print books by a large range of fantastic Australian authors, both for adults and young adults. You can check out the whole series here. All books are available to be pre-ordered now.

Out July 26th. Originally published 1998. Also published in the US as Malkin. Short blurb and more details here.
Out August 30. First published in 2000, shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards. Adapted into a stage play in 2001 (script for play available for purchase at Australian Plays Transform) Short blurb and more details on the book here.
Out September 27. Originally published in 2001. Shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards. Short blurb and more details here.

What’s inside Inside Story? Check this out!

There’s only two days left till the end of the crowdfunding campaign for Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, the wonderful non-fiction book about Australian children’s books which I’m involved in compiling. And UPA Books have created a great little video which gives you a bit of a glimpse into what you can expect to find in this unique, informative and beautiful book. Have a look–it’s worth checking out!

Crowdfunding campaign for Inside Story!

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of the crowdfunding campaign for a unique and wonderful book I’m involved in, as part of the writing and production team–Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books.

Inside Story will be a full colour illustrated book, an invaluable resource and guide for aspiring writers, illustrators, editors and designers, but also of great appeal to anyone interested in the wonderful world of Australian children’s books. Commissioned by the New England Writers’ Centre, with the support of Create NSW, it is being produced and published by UPA Books, the collaborative imprint newly launched by United Publishers of Armidale partners Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, working with a team of local professional writers, illustrators, designers, and editors. Contributions from other creatives and professionals–writers, illustrators, editors, designers, agents, publishers, booksellers and reviewers- from across the country are also included. The book will be published under the UPA Books banner in May 2022.

The crowdfunding campaign is to raise funds for printing, marketing etc.
Here’s the direct link to the campaign, which includes a video, lots of good FAQs, and all details of perks etc:

There are great perks available for campaign backers, including, of course, copies of the book. Regular updates on progress of the book will be posted on the campaign page. The crowdfunding campaign will end on Dec 2.

And here below is the fabulous video to introduce the crowdfunding campaign, and the project itself. Hope you might consider joining us!

Looking forward to the 2021 HNSA Conference!

I’m really looking forward to the 2021 conference of the Historical Novel Society of Australasia, which this year is fully online, and happening over two weekends, with bootcamps, manuscript assessments and masterclasses happening on the weekend of 16/17 October, and the main conference program on the weekend of 23 and 24 October. This is the first time the conference has been run online–it was a decision HNSA wisely made early this year, given the uncertainty surrounding the running of events.

HNSA runs absolutely wonderful conferences, and over the years I’ve had the privilege several times of presenting at these biennial events. This year is no exception, and I’m going to be appearing on both weekends, as part of an absolutely amazing program which I’m very proud to be involved in. Wearing my publisher hat, I’m going to be presenting the all-day Publishing Bootcamp on October 16, then, also wearing the publishing hat, I’ll be one of the judges in the popular First Pages Pitch Contest on October 23. Later on October 23 (quite late in fact!) I’ll be one of a group of people talking about translating historical novels in the Lost in Translation panel: I’ll be focussing there about the experience of being involved in helping to bring about the publication of a brand new English translation of the wonderful Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff. Then on October 24 I’m chairing a panel called The Dark Heart, which looks at historical novels set in the 1830’s and 40’s in Australia, especially the convict period. It’s certainly going to be a very busy couple of weekends!

Check out all details of the wonderful program for the 2021 HNSA Conference here: it’s a real cornucopia of fabulous offerings! And of course, because it’s virtual, you can access it from anywhere. Registrations are open now: don’t miss out!

The new Shalott: an interview with Felicity Pulman

Today I’m delighted to be bringing you an interview with award-winning writer Felicity Pulman, who has embarked on a wonderful new project: republishing her popular young adult historical fantasy trilogy, Shalott, with new titles, new material and in new formats. The first book, Shalott: Into the Unknown, has just been released, and the other two Shalott: Dangerous Magic, and Shalott: End Play, will be published in September and November respectively.

Congratulations, Felicity! Why did you decide to republish the Shalott trilogy?

I wrote the first novel not realising there was more to come – and it was only when I got to the third novel that I understood what Callie’s quest was really all about. Rewriting and republishing the trilogy was my chance to ‘get it right’; to blend in a wonderful mix of magic and technology, and to seed in the ‘clues’ that there was much more to the teenagers’ quest than they first realised. It was also my chance to bring the books up to date for a new generation of readers, while introducing them to the timeless legend of King Arthur and his knights, and the mysterious and beautiful poem, The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The original series came out in the early 2000s. You’ve changed the titles, but was there anything you decided to change within the stories themselves? And did you add any new material?

Basically the story remains the same, although I’ve strengthened the magical aspect, particularly from the points of view of Nimue and Morgan le Fay. Nimue’s magic helps to bring the teenagers to Camelot in order to thwart Morgan’s plans to divide the court through the love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot. But Morgan will stop at nothing to eliminate anything that gets in the way of her ambition for Mordred – and the teenagers are caught in the crossfire. I was also able to update the books to reflect society as we know it today in terms of hot button topics for teenagers, new technology, and even the deadly virus! A LOT has changed over the past twenty years.

Tell us about the process you went through in order to get the books back into print – what were the challenges? And discoveries?

I worked on an already formatted version while rewriting the novels, which caused all sorts of problems during editing and proof-reading. With hindsight I’d probably have been better off retyping all three novels! As a technotwit I knew I’d be better off asking for help rather than trying to navigate the self-publishing process on my own.  Joel Naoum from Critical Mass Services has been a great help to me, finding editors, designers and printers, acting as a sounding board, and generally shepherding me through the whole publishing process. What I discovered was just how many decisions one has to make along the journey!

As a self-publisher this time, how are you promoting and publicising the books?

This is still a WIP.  I’ve updated my website; I’m posting on facebook and other platforms, and also spreading the word via the various societies and writing organisations to which I belong. I need to make much more use of social media than I do, and I’m working on that, plus I’m also considering paying for some advertising. Friends like you have been really helpful with giving me ‘air time’ on your own platforms as well – much appreciated!  Of course I always talk about my books at my workshops and author talks, with the age of the audience determining which books I mention. I’ll be canvassing local bookshops with copies of the trilogy, and also sending out press releases to local and any other media that I hope might be interested. Meantime I’m open to suggestions from everyone!

What advice would you have for other authors thinking of republishing their out-of- print titles? 

 It’s hard work but certainly worthwhile if you want to breathe new life into your books, especially if you’re technosavvy. But buyer beware: go with a reputable print company and make sure your books are readily available for purchase (as mine are through amazon and various other outlets.) If you’re outsourcing the publishing process, as I have, it can be expensive, and unless the book suddenly takes off for some reason you should realise that you’re unlikely to make any sort of profit, or even recoup your expenses.

Another of your novels is going to get a new lease of life, I believe, with your very first novel, Ghost Boy, optioned by a film production company. Can you tell us about that?

Ghost Boy is my most successful book to date, particularly as it now forms the basis of the very popular Ghost Boy tour up at the Quarantine Station in Manly, where part of the novel is set. The QS itself is a fabulous site – very cinematic, very historic, and very creepy, and students studying my novel find that the book really comes alive when they can walk in the footsteps of my characters. The film option was taken out several years ago, but I’ve now signed an option for the sale of my book, which means we’ve come one step closer to seeing my novel (and maybe its unpublished sequel: The Curse of the Quarantine Station) turned into a movie. Exciting – but I must admit I’m finding it very hard to let go!

Where you can buy Shalott: Into the Unknown, first volume of Felicity’s republished Shalott trilogy:

Aus: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B097KYVRLS

USA: www.amazon.com/dp/B097KYVRLS

UK: www.amazon.com.uk/dp/B097KYVRLS

A new article on publishing matters in New Writing

I’m pleased to announce that my scholarly research article, Signing on the dotted line: the lived experience of book contracts in contemporary Australian small-press publishing, has just been published in the prestigious international journal New Writing. You can read it here.

Thank you to everyone-authors, illustrators, agents, publishers and industry reps–I interviewed, whose frank and illuminating answers provided me with such great material!

Guest post by Simon Groth on crowdfunding an innovative book project

Imagine… ‘a novel with twelve chapters that can be shuffled into any order, yet will always present as a cohesive story arc.’

Imagine… ‘a print run where each individual copy contains chapters that have been arranged at random, each one a unique version of the story, created just for you.’

Imagine…’a story with nearly half a billion possible combinations, with each copy being one of a kind, yet all of them telling the same story.’

Imagine…Ex Libris, an extraordinary, innovative book project which can be supported right now in a crowdfunding campaign. The brainchild of writer and publishing professional Simon Groth, Ex Libris promises to be both a fascinating literary/publishing experiment and an intriguing reading experience.

I’m delighted to be bringing readers today a guest post by Simon about the experience of crowdfunding this innovative project. Enjoy–and consider supporting the campaign!

Talking to an imagined audience

by Simon Groth

It was late. It had been a long day at work, but now all was quiet. My family slept or futzed around on phones upstairs. I had set up the microphone and my phone on a tripod. I was ready to start talking to myself.

Well, not myself exactly. Talking to an imagined audience is something I am familiar with, after all it’s what I’m doing right now writing these words. I just don’t normally do it out loud. I had prepared a script that ran for about three and a half minutes that I more or less memorised. I just had to deliver it. Emote. Make it sound casual. Shoot it straight down the lens.

This wasn’t my first attempt. I’m not a natural in front of the camera and, a couple of weeks prior to this, I enlisted a friend to help me. She had an SLR camera and put together a nicely framed and lit version of an almost identical speech. The experience was crucial in helping me find my feet, but I wasn’t satisfied with the performance. I looked uncomfortable, aware that I was using up someone else’s time with take after take. I also wanted to tweak the text, now I heard it back in my own voice. So I made the decision to try again in my own time and keep going until I had something closer to what I needed.

I have gained a whole new appreciation for what actors do. I had to take breaks every now and then. After a while, I stopped counting takes. I repeated the same phrases over and over, trying desperately to make it sound like I was just talking off the top of my head. I don’t know if I succeeded in this, but the video that resulted seems to be doing its job.

All of which is a long-winded introduction to the crowdfunding campaign I have just launched. Wait, what? I haven’t told you about it yet? Let me correct that for you.

Ex Libris is a book containing chapters that randomly change their order with every copy made. Yeah, very much my kind of novel, right? It’s a story that has nearly half a billion possible combinations and the campaign is looking to launch a small print run where every copy is a unique artefact. Check out the campaign here.

Though I’ve supported a few, I’ve never attempted my own crowdfunding campaign before. Partly this is because I correctly anticipated the gut-wrenching fear of failure that now pervades my every waking moment. But it’s also because, until now, I never had a project that had quite the right fit for it. The relationship between reader and writer is always intimate, but the knowledge that your copy is a text that exists for you alone paradoxically makes you want to find other readers to compare your experience with. It builds a community around its story. What better project to bring to a platform dedicated to raising community support?

Distilling a story with a complicated structure and a lot of interweaving characters and events into a three-minute video is difficult enough, but in this case the story has to also make way for an explanation of how the book itself will be made. It’s a lot of information to cram in while at the same time making the message as intriguing and compelling as possible, the linguistic equivalent of an acrobatic routine. But the response to the project so far has been wonderful and generous, so I’ll take that as a good sign that the pitch communicates well. To push the metaphor, we’ll see in the next few weeks if I stick the landing.

But all this was in future on that late Tuesday night as I adopted my most confident voice, stared down my phone, and repeated myself for hours. At one point, my son came downstairs.

‘Who are you talking to?’ he said.

‘No one,’ I said. ‘And everyone.’

 

The crowdfunding campaign for Ex Libris is underway until 25 November 2019.

https://www.pozible.com/project/ex-libris

Simon Groth is a writer with books, stories, and articles published in Australia and internationally. His most recent book is Infinite Blue (with Darren Groth, Orca 2018). He has also created a series of experimental publishing projects including the 24-Hour Book and stories publishing to billboards.

simongroth.com