Calling all socially conscious writers

Join me at The Dulwich Centre this November!

Have you heard of Narrative Therapy? If not, then this is probably the most enlightening article you will read all week. Maybe all year.

Narrative Therapy, as defined by it’s creators by David Epston and Michael White is a therapeutic theory founded on the ideology that people have many interconnecting stories about themselves that make up their personage. When a person comes to therapy all of these stories come with them and each story of self is shaped by socioeconomic, cultural and psycho-social influences. Narrative therapy at it’s core exists to help people re-author theses stories they tell about themselves. Focusing on the preferred lives and relationships they wish to have. Instead of pathologizing a person the practice of Narrative Therapy focuses on externalization and re-situating the problems in a persons’s life, showing them that these concerns exist separate to them. It is a therapy that challenges the categories and cultural discourses that exist in a persons life and works with the person to deconstruct, externalize and question paternalism and other social constraints. The therapy exists to liberate people from labels, create a collaboration between practitioner and client and assist them without using discouraging or blaming techniques that only foster feelings of failure and oppression. Ultimately the therapy promotes self agency and hope.

If this resonates with you, then come along in November (2020) to The Dulwich Centre in Adelaide and join me in learning some amazing new narrative therapy techniques and person-centered therapeutic interventions.

Find out more here

Register here for a FREE online course or a One Week Intensive program on site.

You need to watch THE SOCIAL DILEMMA

Eward Tufte, Statastician and professor of political science at Yale University was once quoted as saying “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’. Illegal drugs and software.”

When I read that I thought, “YES!” the similarities between clients I work with who have gaming and technology addictions and the people I work with who have substance dependency problems are scary. I urge anyone who has a smart phone to watch “The Social Dilemma,” and encourage your family and friends to do the same. The movie was inspired by a presentation developed by Tristan Harris (President of Centre for Humane Technology) which you can find here: https://www.slideshare.net/paulsmarsden/google-deck-on-digital-wellbeing-a-call-to-minimize-distraction-and-respect-users-attention
But ultimately it is urging people become aware of their screen time and take steps to manage their well-being and the well-being of the people in their lives who matter.

This can be achieved through the following:

1.   Turn off those social media notifications. They are keeping you glued to your phone and being unnecessarily engaged with your device.
2.   Declutter your social media feed. Our brains aren’t evolved enough to deal with all that excess information/human interaction. If you don’t know them and the pages content or the celebrity influencer you follow isn’t directly aligned with your personal goals/ethos. Delete it/them!
3. Stop scrolling! Go to the page of the family member/friend you want an update from or actually give them a phone call/text to check in instead of hoping you will see them featured in your news feed.
3.   Your attention is worth money, don’t waste it. Now is the time to stop procrastinating and be productive.
4.   Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning and STOP taking it into the toilet/shower with you.
5.   Stop watching the recommendations on Youtube. The computer algoriths that run social platforms are evolving much faster than us and when you manually source content you are more likely to watch something informative and engaging than if you let the device decide what you will waste your time on.
6.   Start a hobby that requires ZERO tech. this will help you keep your distance from your device and also help you to become capable at engaging your creativity once more.
7.   Assume all news is fake news and research it before sharing information you have found online. And REMEMBER, Google will autocomplete your search with recommendations based on the data extrapolated from the geographical area you live in so turn that feature off now!
8.   Encourage others to watch ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0  To read Jaron Laniers ‘TEN ARGUMENTS for deleting your social media accounts right now,’ https://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Deleting-Social-Media-Accounts/dp/125019668X To check out local resources to overcome screen addiction such as this one https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/7-surprisingly-easy-ways-to-fight-your-screen-addiction/
Lastly, start now! Don’t put off this battle (and it will probably be one of the hardest struggles you will face) if we can all take steps to regain ourselves from technology and only use them as tools again we can ensure a far better future for ourselves and others.

BOOK MARKETING IN 2020

As a self-pub author there is a lot on my to-do-list in terms of getting my book babies out into the world. Sometimes this process actually requires more time investment than my mini-humans require in order to be successful.

I chose to disregard a traditional contract on my debut series in order to release my books on my own term. I don’t regret this decision, what I do regret is not preparing better for my original launch. I am playing a lot of catch up now still (fourteen months later) because I didn’t research book marketing in my genre prior to publication of ‘Awkward Honesty.’

So, what should an indie writer do before launching? Check out my list below and start checking these items off before you release any more books.

  1. Enter writing competitions this is a great way to gain credibility as an author and perhaps even win a book deal or some money to invest in your writing endeavors. You will learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work for the market by doing this also.
  2. Make connections with other writers online and in-person. Attend writing workshops, book clubs, share new releases on behalf of other authors and review books. If you don’t have time for any of this you are missing out on the most important facet of this industry. The community. A good place to start engaging is over on Twitter. The following hashtags are my favorites:
  • #amwriting
  • #australianauthors
  • #Askanauthor
  • #writerslife
  • #WriterWednesday
  • #writetip
  • #wordcount
  • #followfriday
  • #writingcommunity
  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #MustRead
  • #LitChat
  • #StoryFriday
  • #MustRead
  • #TeaserTues
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #FreeBook
  • #FreeDownload
  • #Kindle
  1. Do market research and check out multiple books in your genre. Read through the blurbs, bios and critically analyse the cover art in your genre. You need to be on point to attract the readers you want.
  2. Create an author specific email account and include links to your books and social pages in the signature. Speaking of links… The back matter of your book should ALWAYS include the link to your other works and your website so fans can easily find you.
  3. Start a blog site there are heaps of great options with thriving communities out there, but once you commit you need to be consistent. Post quality content that is helpful, interesting, and fits in with your genre niche. Be sure to link your blog to your Goodsreads page and website! For blogspiration check out these guys https://www.authormedia.com/7-blogs-every-author-should-follow/
  4. Invite people to post guest blogs on you platforms (remember to give credit of course) and be sure to offer content to other bloggers in your genre as well. Don’t just ask to do this straight up, there is nothing more annoying than your first DM being a desperate bid for attention. Be genuine, comment and share content from other bloggers and get a feel for who regularly features the work of others. Purchase books and review them on your blog as well. Goodwill is it’s own reward.
  5. Start building your newsletter through offers of a free sample chapter, giveaway prizes, quality and engaging (genre specific) content or a similar reader magnet – maybe it’s exclusive access to a hidden page on your website, maybe it’s a short story, a novella, the first book in your series or even a dossier on your major characters. Think about what makes you hit subscribe and offer that! I found this list helpful when I first started out https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-newsletter-examples-list
  6. Open up a Canva account and start uploading excerpts of your WIP on your Facebook Author Page. Don’t have an author platform yet? Let’s call that step Zero. Set up a Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google Business and website presence today! I use Wix currently while I save up to convert over to Square Space.
  7. Set up a Wattpad account and include excerpts to all your works with a link to buy the complete copy when the preview ends. If your books are worth reading then purchases will come organically.
  8. Join book clubs online and invest time in helping other authors grow reviews. This will come back around to you when your book is released. Another great site to snag reviews is LibraryThing. You need to give away free copies first though but that’s part and parcel of building your author presence. Expect to giveaway at least 1000 copies of your debut novel before you start to see any reviews.
  9. Join writing forums and contribute worthwhile advice to others, be sure to soak it up in return and apply what works to your efforts. I highly recommend Addicted to YA, NaNoWriMo, Derek Murphy’s Creative Indie site and his GP Facebook Group as well as Calls For Submissions and Scribophile. It is important to remember, just like with any community, you will only get out what you put into it. Don’t be a lurker and be sure to read the rules and abide by them when contributing.
  10. Use consistent branding images across all your social accounts. I highly recommend Fivver for getting an author logo made. This one is mine 🙂mat
  11. Post images of your writing progress and include your pets if you can. Nature and animal images always do well on social media.
  12. Set up Author Profiles on Amazon Central, BookBub, Kindle Boards, Kobo, Pinterest, BookFunnel, Goodreads and Wikipedia before you start releasing your next book. Make sure your links to purchase are embedded there where readers can find them and if you can offer a multi-author offer using BookFunnels Book Bundle/Rafflecopter contest in exchange for subscribers/page likes.
  13. Create a press release kit and send it to local media and newspapers in your state. Free content is king in this fast paced information hungry world we live in.
  14. VBlogging is big so if you don’t already have a podcast or YouTube presence, it is time to start looking for opportunities to guest star on one. Or better yet, invest in a decent microphone for your smart phone and start one for yourself now. Even something as simple as Powtoon or Animoto book trailers are a great form of content to be uploading to your channels. If you really hate being in front of the camera (like me) you could start by filming attending your local library and hunting for your favorite books, you could also interview local writers or creators and focus the camera on them throughout the discussion. Just remember, editing can fix a multitude of sins and there is always time for a retake 🙂
  15. If you are writing a series – make an Instagram and Facebook page just for your series, consider making a Twitter account for the main character of your series also and run it as though it is really their persona. Consider selling themed character/series merchandise for your series from your website and try to keep book one low-priced or even free until your series is completed.
  16. Be active across all your social media pages. Weekly posts are a minimum and be sure to create or schedule daily posts in the month leading up to your book launch. Hootsuite is a good option for the cash rich and time poor, otherwise just set calendar reminders for yourself to ensure consistent engagement. Some posts to consider are ‘behind the scenes’ images of your writing journey/writing space, reviews of other peoples work, cute book layouts, artwork of your characters, polls about tropes, books in weird and wonderfully unique locations, images of your family celebrating local or international events (depending on your target audience) and even some goodwill posts encouraging donations locally where the cause resonates with your story or subject matter. Don’t be pushy about posting links to buy your books across your social media platforms. this is likely to result in the opposite.
  17. Speaking of calendars it’s a great idea to include an events page on your website, this way book launches, live Q&A and other digital/in-person events can be viewed easily by potential readers. Some examples of good events could be: blog tours; live readings; guest author interviews; book signings, book festivals, library and community events you are attending and cover reveals.
  18. Use hashtags specific to your book when you post and follow and engage with trending hashtags that relate to your book also.
  19. Back matter is important so make sure that you include teaser chapters at the end of your books and hotlinks to your other works and your website. Even something as simple as a ‘Thank you to the reader’ can encourage a person to leave a review or purchase your next book in a series.
  20. Go wide with your initial release by setting up an Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital, Amazon KDP and Google Play Books Partner Account for your novels
  21. Pin your links for new releases/campaigns to the top of your Twitter account. Be sure to include links to your website or pre-release deal in your bio across all your social accounts. Set up Linktree for your Instagram link and keep it up to date as new releases come out or you set up new social accounts
  22. Thank your reviewers personally across all your platforms when each new review comes in. Even if you aren’t friends with them and can’t tag them in the post this is a really great way to get some good attention for your work.
  23. Create a Facebook Group for your fans. This is different from your book and author page, this is an interactive space for readers and fans, a place to share non-mainstream information and prizes/giveaways. Often a great way to weed out people who aren’t fans is to make reviewing one of your books a prerequisite to gain entry. This group is a great place to upload live Q&A video content and invite fellow writers to offer giveaways and post new release information
  24. Get a QR code that will link back to your website or a clean purchase link for your book/s and start including it on your marketing material. Bookmarks, Business Cards, Magnets, Mugs, Pens, Flyers, Frizbees etc. Promo gear is an excellent way to spread the word about your books and helps find you new readers without a lot of effort on your part. People love to take free stuff! Vistaprint is a fairly affordable option when you are just starting out, you can also get a free QR Code here.
  25. Leave copies of your book at cafe’s and parks with a note asking the person who picks it up to leave it for someone else when they are done. This is the best kind of publicity for your book in my opinion. Paying It Forward

Why I ditched my bucket list in 2020

In January 2020 I took a new job in Emergency Services management. Yep, I took a job looking after public safety at the exact same time as Coronavirus (Covid 19) kicked planet earth in the balls…
To say the past few months have been busy for me finding my feet in a new role is kind of an understatement. While half the planet has been in self-isolation, catching up on Netflix shows and squabbling over toilet paper and hand sanitiser I have been learning about RECIO and a heap of other non-standard EMS acronyms.
So I woke up today (after my final fourteen-hour night shift) and decided to bake passionfruit slice, sand and restain my front deck, completely overhaul my author website and ditch lists for good!

The question I asked myself when I woke up and made coffee for myself and my husband was this…What do I want to accomplish with life?

 

I already have an amazing family, I have found myself once again in a rewarding (albeit stressful) career that focuses on community safety and although I have only ever travelled to three of the seven continents I no longer feel like I need to holiday internationally to maintain my self-worth.

Asides my family, most of my goals for life have been fairly frivolous; Having my writing published in a magazine; Getting ten reviews on my debut novel ‘Awkward Honesty’ on Amazon; Finish renovating my house; Graduate from university.

 

The problem here is that there are so many better things I should be aiming for and arbitrary goals won’t ever achieve them. Things like ‘volunteering in my community,’ or ”learning to play an instrument,’ are things everyone talks about doing but rarely ever succeed in achieving success in. Usually because these goals aren’t things you are truly passionate about so you always procrastinate with them. This is what I have always done when enrolling in courses for my medical degree and it has taken me until now, at thirty-two years of age to be okay with the fact I won’t ever have a tertiary degree. And you know what, it doesn’t make me any less worthy. I am more than a piece of paper.

So, here’s my advice to fellow Bucket Lister’s like me. Stop. Give up on far-fetched goals that just are not attainable. If the agenda items you have assigned for your life aren’t really rewarding then achieving them won’t ever make you feel like you have accomplished something worthwhile. You need to do some soul-searching about what really matters to you, and no, it doesn’t need to be in list format.

Thinking deeply isn’t something that humans do well, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try. Take some time to reflect on what has made you genuinely happy and then link that back to what you can do now to make meaning in your life. For me, this is getting my house ready for market. I am able to do this now (with the help of my dad) and at the end of the project I can sell and downsize my life so I don’t need to work as much and am able to spend more time with my children, my husband and my aging parents. This is what truly matters to me, my family. I want to travel still sure, the world is an incredible place, but I don’t want to get into debt again to do it. This brings me to my second goal. Getting my finances under control, hence the new job that I have taken.  Making a lot of money has never been on my list but I like working so it’s nice to be in a role where I can work and also feel like I am giving back to my community as well.

So that’s it, ditch the bucket list. Focus on the now, because at the end of the day the moment you are in now is the only one that is guaranteed. Make it count.

 

XoXo

Rissa!

 

Diary of a fourteen-year-old Australian

What my diary entries looked like at 14… I changed the names and there are two sections of dialogue that didn’t exist before but everything else is copied out of my old journal verbatim.

I added the dialogue in for you guys because I can remember it pretty well and it helps with understanding what happened.

Gosh, I was a funny kid. Reading my journal entries makes me almost wet myself sometimes. I was the worst! I can’t wait to finish my book series so you can try and work out where I included some of this content in The Girl Diaries, The Boy Chronicles and The Therapy Journals series. Write what you know right?

 

 

Sunday, November 9th

Okay so since Monday the week has been… really odd… in an awesome way. I finally told Tabitha all about Wyatt. Ayla and Grayson went on a double date with Tabitha and Leyton. I helped Leigh make stirfry at her place after school, Chuck came by and ate most of it. It was the first, and very likely the last time Leigh ever lets him in her house. He lit up on her front veranda while her parents were home. Sometimes he is just super dumb.

When I got home I found a wallet that has been lost for years, it had ten dollars in it which I used to buy a joint from Leyton.

Chuck tried to make up for getting us kicked out of leigh’s house by giving me head which somehow turned into me giving him head. Go figure.

Tuesday, I got a B for my English monologue. We had a performance for ensemble, our last one for the year. Barely anyone asides other music geeks turned up. I officially resigned from strings straight afterwards. I can think of five thousand things I would rather do on a (Wednesday night) instead of practice viola. And the less I see of Melita next year the better, it’s bad enough she is in two of my elective classes for the next two years. To celebrate Chuck and I had sex for the first time in a fortnight. I should quit band more often.

Wednesday, went to the heritage village for an excursion. The food was definitely the highlight.

Thursday, SOSE exam followed by shopping. Poor Leigh was the only person there without a boyfriend.

Friday, Jade threw a party but I had to work and the cops had broken it up by the time I finished my close.

Saturday, Huge piss up out at the music bowl. Wow, just. Wow. Every single teenager in the whole district was there. Tabitha kissed every guy but Leyton and Grayson hooked up with Delia back stage while his band friends performed. I got beyond trashed, people were just handing me drinks all night. I flashed the band for a T-shirt and then danced in the mosh pit with Leigh. This all got caught on film apparently, including me making out with Leigh and her copping a feel while she helped me get dressed into my prize. No idea what happened to the singlet I had original worn out. Chuck got grumpy about it and I made it up to him by giving him head in the disabled toilet stall. Lucky I did because while we were in there the police showed up and we were able to hide out until they had finished taking names.

When I finally crawled back into bed with Chuck not far behind I had ten missed calls and one very messy voice mail from Tabitha. Turns out Leyton dumped her.

Saturday, November 15th 2003

Shit the semester is almost over. Chuck and I have been officially dating for two months. It feels way longer though as I have known him since June.

Monday, cooked jam drops, baking always makes me feel better when I am hungover AF. Spoke to Delia about her making out with Grayson while he was dating Ayla. She didn’t even try to defend her actions, I kind of admire her sheer guile.

Tuesday, as per usual our English teacher was being a hard ass, getting up me for finishing my last assignment TOO SOON as that means I didn’t put in enough effort to grasp the material. She ahsn’t even read it. Unghhh.

Wednesday, Chuck is busy with school stuff so he doesn’t get kept back so I have been missing him loads. I actually did all of my work in double maths today and my teacher was too amazed to hide the shock when I emailed him my score. His glasses actually fell off his face.

Thursday, after school I delivered weed to Jade that she had asked Grayson for and then met up with Kacie at the shops. Chuck joined us and so did Shona. God, why is she always around my boyfriend? Honestly, doesn’t she have her own? Oh wait, she does, that would be Theodore. Why can’t she hang out with him instead?

I was immensely relieved when Jade showed up with Felix and I could get high and stop caring about whether or not Shona was making fun of me every time she and Chuck would laugh together.

Jade was wearing a beret and Felix kept calling her Paris. I saw Delia and Grayson together in the food court and met up with Tabitha and Ayla. Ayla was down so I convinced her to eat chips with gravy, chicken salt and sour cream.  Always cheers me up. She had to hold her nose as she put it in her mouth the first time but she came around when she realised it was uber tasty.

Friday, double spare. I helped Grayson write an apology letter to Ayla. I was amazed he agreed to it at all to be honest but it was really heartfelt and I was happy to sneak it into her locker. I wrote a letter for Chuck afterwards but I definitely won’t ever give it to him. No point bringing up issues we are both happier repressing.

Talked online with Jake, he has decided that he wants to try pot and would appreciate me and my connections hooking him up.

“I’m not a drug dealer you know.”

“But you’re dating one.”

“Actually I’m not.”

“He knows where to score weed though.”

“Maybe.”

“Definitely, please Riss, please get a couple of joints for me.”

“Not through my boyfriend.”

“Who then?”

“That’s for me to know and you to come up with fifty dollars.”

“Joints don’t cost that much.”

“Finder’s fee.”

“Hahahahahaha. Okay, deal.” F*#k it, I know Jake can afford it.

Saturday, Netball was cancelled so Chuck, Jade Felix and I went to the skate park. I almost did a jump. Felix asked Jade out and then I had to sit there while they made out because Chuck was having fun on his bike so he didn’t want to play with me.

Monday, December 1st 2003

Walked over to Chucks to watch movies. Got chips along the way. His mum was home so we got interrupted constantly. It’s almost like parents think if they can’t get any they have to make sure nobody else does.

Monday, first day of exam block. Totally dull. Talked to Nate and Colton in my first free period, they were cooking and as we know, I am always up for free snacks.

Tuesday, Dance exam went well, part one of the three days we are performing did anyway, I wrote a poem after I finished my Social Studies multiple choice. I wish all exams were multiple choice, I always know the answer when I can choose it out of a line up.

Wednesday, Filled my water bottle up with ice and some of mums scotch. Didn’t end up drinking it in class because I forgot to bring gum. Alistair walked me home and it was lucky I hadn’t drank because mum asked me to come help her with work that afternoon.

Thursday was good. The day went like WHOOSH, we didn’t go shopping which was good as I am still poor from buying Christmas gifts for everyone. We went to the Lock In at The Arcade and Summer gave me an update of Wyatt’s plea bargain so now there will be no trial to attend. Chuck could tell I was distracted after talking to her and he did his best to cheer me up by playing Dance Dance Revolution with me. He had almost beat me a couple of times by the end of the night.

Friday, Tabitha and I blew off school in favour of window shopping and carbs. We talked a lot, about her seeing Blake again, about my upcoming birthday plans, we even discussed books, a very little but it was still nice. We went to Jades for the evening, she was throwing an invite only break up party since she refused to attend Melita’s bonfire night. Colton, Nate, Alistair, Grayson, Leyton, Delia, Felix and Chuck were all there by the time we arrived. Everyone was considerably wasted and had even set up a blow up pool. I immediately thought about asking Kacie to come when I saw it but figured it was late notice and she was probably already somewhere else. Jade let me borrow a pair of her togs so I could get in and then we did tequila shots. Felix and Jade ended up having sex in her mums caravan, three times! I got drunk enough not to care when Chuck carried me upstairs and we ended up in my friends bed. I promise I will was the sheets I swear. He must not have been as drunk as I thought because he went five times before we ended up falling asleep. Not his best record but he definitely did better than me. I was amazed he didn’t care enough to try for a sixth but maybe he was counting my three orgasms as cumulative towards an even numbered total for the night. Or morning rather.

Saturday, Tabitha filled me in on all the goss while we sipped kombucha in the hammock. She made out with both Grayson and Leyton. Delia was majorly drunk and pashed Daniel. I hadn’t even realised Daniel came round that is how engrossed I was in other activities.

Once we had pepped up we showered, got into our netball gear and then won our semi-finals. I sat out two quarters and Tabitha sat out three which is probably the contributing factor. Never though I would be grateful to have Baidon as a spare on our team but I genuinely was thankful today. I measured my weed plants and they are now 23cm. I should probably see if Liam will come and get them soon, mum won’t believe the tomatoes project lie much longer I am thinking.

Went to Melita’s around five, Leigh had managed to convince Jade to get her sister to buy us booze even though Jade wasn’t coming. Chucks mother gave us a lift and Tabitha and Leigh caught an Uber with the esky.

Chuck was annoyed it was all girly vodka drinks and promptly decided to just get really high rather than be seen drinking anything with a pink label.

I was amazed how many people came, everyone from netball, including Jake, everyone from our grade apart from Jade and Stavros, and quite a few people from the upper grades as well. I managed to score a couple of beers of Josh to give to Chuck and then Liam gifted him a rum later on as well. I lost track of Tabitha early on, she was making out with Grayson again, they didn’t even break apart when a fight started between two guys right near her.

I’d lost my enthusiasm for drinking by then, between that and an unsettling flirty moment with Jake I just wanted to curl up in my tent with my boyfriend and call it a night. He was only too happy to oblige.

He told me he loved me for the first time and it was the most perfect moment you could ever imagine. Only to be eclipsed when my now husband professed he loved me under similar circumstances some eight years later.

Sunday, helped with the morning after barbeque on the coals leftover from the bonfire. Went over to Jades to return her esky (I had filled it with candy bars that Melita’s parents had been giving away to everyone) then went home to mow the lawn. I was really grateful to not be hungover while doing that.

Chuck finally got a new computer so he ignored me for it all afternoon but I didn’t mind because I had loads of chocolate to keep me satisfied instead.

Saturday, December 6th

On Tuesday I went to Chucks to get away from my psychotic mother who broke my computer. He promised he would fix it and then let me finish the edits on my resume using his. Of course he used it as a way to convince me to give him head because I now owed him. Boys. Lol.

Wednesday was the worst day of my life. Well maybe not, but geez it really sucked. Mum made me help her clean out the garage as punishment for running off yesterday and when I finally finished Wyatt called and asked if I wanted to come to a party with him tonight to celebrate his community service sentence. Of course I said yes, I didn’t want to stay home and get the cold shoulder from my mother for the rest of the night when I could be drinking. Then he asked if I wanted to bring a friend so I texted around and Tabitha was free. She came round for a “sleep over.”

We snuck out as soon as mum was asleep, Wyatt met us at the park beside my house, then we went to maccas, his shout, got a feed and then walked to his mates house with him. That was the end of things being fun for the evening.

We had a couple of cones but the vibe was really off. The party was just us two girls, Wyatt and three of his friends who were all like twenty-four or maybe older. They kept offering us drinks but we were pretty sure the weed wasn’t just weed by that point so I faked being sick and we took off. Now, what happened after I can’t one hundred percent say I know for certain but it felt like they were chasing after us because we hid underneath a ute and the same car kept driving around the streets where we were hiding. When it finally stopped circling the block we ran like anything back towards my place, even taking a shortcut through the school so we couldn’t be seen along the main road. We saw a lot of strange shit on the way back, at one point we were both sure that their were crocodiles beneath the bridge. Once we were safely back at mine we locked all the doors and that’s when the adrenaline wore off and both of us knew for sure that the weed had been fucked with because we spent the next few hours alternating puking in the downstairs toilet.  Lesson learnt. Don’t trust Wyatt or his criminal mates. And definitely don’t go to a party where guys ask you to “bring a friend.”

Thursday, I was still spaced out, so was Tabitha. Chuck came over and I let Tabitha fill him in, I didn’t have the guts. He wasn’t happy but he could see how badly shaken we both were so I guess he figured we had already learned our lesson.

Leigh guilt tripped us both into coming out shopping with her even after we had filled her in on the almost date rape saga and not even five minutes after Chuck, Tabitha and I arrived I ran into Wyatt while waiting for Chuck and Tabitha to buy drinks in the supermarket. I couldn’t even move. I just stood there while he apologised for his friends poor behaviour, they hadn’t been trying to date rape us, they assumed we knew there would be heroin mixed with the weed. Who the hell even assumes that? No wonder we hallucinated and got so sick. Chuck saw us talking and came to my rescue, if it hadn’t been for me crying and needing him to hold me I can one hundred and fifty percent guarantee he would have punched Wyatt’s lights out.

Tabitha decided she wanted to go home after I told her what we had been dosed with the previous evening and I followed soon after, waiting only long enough for Ayla and Leigh to show up to let them know I wasn’t staying and why. Ayla was sympathetic, Leigh was annoyed but attempted not to show it which I appreciated.

Friday, spent the whole day in bed with Chuck. We didn’t do anything, I was still experiencing some really unpleasant symptoms of nausea coupled with a really sore throat.  My phone rang eleven times from a private number and Chucks rang four times. No points for guessing who that was.

I had a text from Summer around dinner time asking how I was feeling which means that her and Liam know about what happened now as well. Just great.

Saturday, I took six Ibuprofen and sucked it up to go play our finals. We won, Jake was so happy he ran around picking all the girls up and kissing them. I held up my hand when he tried it on me and unexpectedly Leigh gave me an early birthday present she had purchased for me Thursday night. It was a really cute Russ bunny keychain, his name was Maxim.

I walked to Chucks house with Tabitha, picking Jade up along the way. We hung out under his house with Felix and Kacie and listened to music. Chuck let us play songs that we actually like which was a nice change of pace for his stereo. All that metal he blasts can’t possibly be good for the graphene membrane.

Chuck and I are sitting out the front. He’s smoking, what new? And I am trying to avoid the awkward vibe that the whole Jade dating Tabitha’s ex but Tabitha is in the same room as them has created.

He got a call from an unknown number and then I got one. I sighed. “Geez Wyatt, you are not going to be forgiven, give it a rest already.”

“Maybe it’s not Wyatt.”

“Who else would call us both that isn’t already here?”

“I don’t know, it’s just weird. I mean, I always knew he was a few screws short but date raping underage girls and stalking them, that’s below even his standards.”

“I don’t care. I just wish he was going to jail.”

Chuck didn’t say anything but he put out his smoke and hugged me until I felt good enough to go back inside with everyone else.

Why I write

I was inspired to write by some complex things. Learning about narrative therapy at the Dulwich centre in Adelaide is probably the main factor. Other influences include: writing diaries as a teenager myself; reading journals written by students and health professionals I have worked with; my own observation’s of the hardships that have been created for teens coming of age in a world that gives everyone unlimited connectivity through the internet.

Comedy, misery and profound advice littered the pages I read. Growing up has never been a more difficult journey than in the modern era, transitioning from child to adult facing an uncertain technology-obsessed world.  With the adults around you, for the most part, unaware of what challenges our youth are truly facing.

I endeavour to incorporate themes that speak true of the experiences young Australians face and how those experiences affect the rest of their lives. How important it is to develop resilience in your formative years and learn from your mistakes, externalise them and strive to keep moving forward. How the technological tumor (that is social media) is eating away at the normal development of human beings with devastating consequences. Too few are consciously aware of how they use their precious time, once it is gone you can never take it back. What will you remember in fifteen years from now? A week of nights spent aimlessly scrolling through your news feed, or a meaningful encounter with a culture different than you own when you volunteered with a foreign aid initiative abroad?

I have always loved writing, weaving entertaining stories and giving voice to things that people would prefer stay hidden. This is why I have chosen a diary style, first person point of view for my series. I want to show people how these inner worlds work, help people to see, feel and understand their decision-making process and natural impulses, rather than repress them. We cannot discuss what we refuse to acknowledge in teenagers and their challenges in life are so often dismissed by adults, their concerns made invisible and ignored. Society has evolved and I truly belive that the next generation need to be more forgiving and more accepting of one another in order to create a world where all persons, of any age are truly equal. Books that deviate from the conventional tropes and genres are what I believe we need to be encouraging authors to write. Stories that will resonate with our latent desires to know more and become more than we currently are.

My Advice to aspiring authors, writers and content creators (Inspired by an interview in Dalby 2019)

So, you want to be a published author.

Maybe you already have several published works under your belt or maybe you are overwhelmed by how much work needs to go into this career choice on top of writing your book baby.

Getting a publishing deal is rare nowadays in an over saturated market, but don’t let that discourage you in pursuing your dreams. Make writing a part-time hobby while you build up your platform and once you have a completed book in your hot little hands check out my publishing tips for indie-writers below.

What NOT to do.

There are heaps of ways to get ripped off as an aspiring author.  If you want to sell your books and get good income from them DON’T use a vanity publishing house. Never heard of a vanity publisher before? They are a publishing company that ask you to pay for them to produce and market your novel. It’s a total scam and the editing services they offer will be subpar. For a full black list click this link here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_companies_engaged_in_the_self-publishing_business

Other big self-publishing no no’s include:

  • Designing your own book cover;
  • Using Grammarly or Spell Checker only to edit your book;
  • Spending thousands of dollars on printing physical copies of your books;
  • Refusing to invest in your education as an author and entrepreneur (yes, being a successful author means you need to run a business and it’s hard work that requires lots of professional development)
  • Not participating in the online author community;
  • And marketing AFTER your book has been published

Let’s not focus on the bad stuff too long though, I’d be here all week. This post is about empowering you as an aspiring/writer. To help you understand your choices around publishing and marketing, as well as running a successful creative business.

In this post you will find links to how-to-guides courses and products that I have found helpful on my own journey. All at no or low cost!

I do not provide any info on the initial creative writing part… There is more than enough help out there on Facebook groups, Twitter posts and even Instagram prompt challenges. In fact, NANoWriMo is probably the number one first step for anyone who is still in the planning phases of writing a book.

ANYWAY? In the olden days, you would spend years and years writing a novel. You would mail it off to a Big Five publishing company (The big five are, of course, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) with a query letter and synopsis and wait… and pray… and more than likely have your dreams crushed.

If you aren’t already famous these companies want nothing to do with you and quite often a great book will still be rejected with the advice “Go build your platform and show us you can generate sales first.”

So that’s exactly what you need to do guys. Set up a website. Get on Social. Build a following and then submit to publishing companies or better yet, publish for yourself on KDP or Ingram Spark.

 

Building your own author platform means you can sell and promote books and actually make a living, not just hope that one day you will make it out of the manuscript slush pile and be published.

What you should do when self-publishing:

  • Build an audience and get feedback on your work through sites like Wattpad or running your own WordPress blog.
  • Use tools like Scrivener and Vellum to help you organize your work and ensure you have a beautiful and well formatted finished product. Why is format important? Read more here https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200645680
  • Educate yourself on the craft of writing by listening to free YouTube videos or using creator education apps like Skill Share. Learning is for life people!
  • Save up and hire a professional freelance editor, as well as a cover designer, a proofreader and any other developmental editing specialists your book needs. Websites like https://www.fiverr.com/ are an awesome place to find these services.
  • Take advantage of Print-on-Demand technology to get your book directly onto the biggest bookstores in the world. Don’t know what Print-On-Demand publishing is? Check out this link here https://www.editage.com/book-editing-services/articles/top-10-self-publishing-companies-a-2018-guide-for-first-time-authors.html

Okay, so I have a book, I’ve set up some accounts on social media and I’ve hit publish. I have a book baby out in the world. So why am I not getting any sales?

Well, this is where the marketing side of being an indie author comes into play. I’m not even going to try and cover all the steps that you need to take next but I am going to give you a neat little list of free eBook and video series that you can access which will help get you from published author to paid published author.

  1. Chandler Bolt and the Self Publishing School. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re focused on writing for income, it might be just what you need. https://self-publishingschool.com/
  2. Derek Murphy and Creative Indie and DIY Book Covers https://www.creativindie.com/
  3. Jenna Moreci, Authortuber and Cyborg Queen on Discord https://www.jennamoreci.com/
  4. Craig Martelle 20Booksto50K book conferences http://20booksvegas.com/
  5. Joanna Penn’s The Write Life blog https://thewritelife.com/28-resources-tools-and-tips-for-self-publishing/

Fiction Writing Tips – 1 year in

  1. Don’t go on and on about the weather. Just because your character is witnessing the mother of all summer rainstorms doesn’t mean you need to describe it for half a page. Readers are here for character development. In particular, characters with giant flaws that we can all relate to.
  2. Don’t start with a prologue if you can reasonably add the backstory into your chapter dialogue. Why? Prologues are often just backstory that doesn’t even drive the plot and if something you write doesn’t serve your greater story arc, cut it!
  3. Use “said” as a dialogue time 95% of the time. Any other verb in replace of this is just you being lazy about describing the actions in between the dialogue that show character emotion. If you do REALLY need to use a verb other than said, avoid “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied” and “asseverated.” Speaking of dialogue tag tips, never modify said with adverbs, you really don’t need to say “she admonished gravely” if you can carry the grave tone in the wording of the dialogue itself this will involve the reader more fully in the plot.
  4. Reign in your use of exclamation marks. If I see one in the first chapter its either a middle grade novel or you didn’t use a quality editor.
  5. Avoid terms such as “he suddenly felt overcome by (insert random emotion here)” an “all hell broke loose” if you can show the readers that shits about to go down they are going to rate you five stars. if not, rework your draft.
  6. Avoid italics to convey tone, never use bold in your work either. Yes, even if they are yelling. Above all, don’t spell our regional dialect phonetically. This just kills the pacing of your scene.
  7. Avoid overly detailing the physical attributes of your characters. No one needs to know that the main character has five freckles on his right cheek but seven on his left. Outside of a hint at eye colour and ethnicity, let the characters personality and quirks inform the readers idea of their physical appearance. Lets be real, avoid over describing anything in your novel, setting, emotions, how the sewage treatment plant smells. These distractions don’t help with pacing, and the goal of your characters is the priority.
  8. Cut the fluff! If you would skip it when you are reading a book in the same genre it needs to go! Sometimes we writers get a wee bit excited by the sudden bursts of creativity that can overcome us and we suddenly HAVE TO ADD a little tidbit of detail that doesn’t serve to advance the plot or develop our characters in any way. This is okay, but they can’t be in your final draft.
  9. Lastly, if it sounds like rubbish when you read the paragraph out loud you need to rewrite it. No if’s, buts or any other whining. It needs to be rewritten. I did 24 drafts of my first novel ‘Awkward Honesty’ and looking back, I wish I’d done more. I probably could have got a traditional book deal if I had.

Tips for professional email writing

 

In my humble opinion, most people manage emails well. As compared to social media users who are not managing amazingly well. In my non-writing career I regularly correspond with my coworkers and network contacts and even when we have to discuss sensitive issues it all seems to be discussed with good grace. However, because of the ubiquity of conversing via a digital medium, sometimes emails can get the better of us.

Below is my own personal tips to assist you to email your colleagues and peers in a consistent non-biased manner.

So, firstly, what is email? A communication medium that transmits electronic information.  Guys, email is basically a formal letter. Treat it as such because it can be used against you in court. Your digital signature holds up these days.

Who should I cc into my emails? Management, your direct team leader, your co-workers, a professional connection involved in the project or case work? If it’s not relevant (generating junk email for your peers) or it’s breaching your companies privacy policy regarding client or company information maybe you just shouldn’t include them in the correspondence.

Should I use my work email to talk with friends? Nope. And if you do need to chat informally with your work mates it’s a good idea to just pick up the phone instead of wasting company time gossiping or making weekend plans.

Is it really necessary to review my email before I hit send? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes! A long time ago in the days of hand written letters we allocated on average an hour and a half to the task. Most of the emails I receive have barely two minutes of thought put into them. And yes, that short cycle of preparation means we are now more efficient in our interactions but that also poses greater risks of misinterpretation. Take an extra two minutes to clear your email of jargon, emojis and inappropriate language. While you’re at it, run spell checker..  

 

Camp NANOWRIMO July 2019

Project: Pretty Liar

Book #6 in The Girl Diaries

Cover concept:

The Girl Diaries (2)

Scene I’m proud of:

Thursday 9th October

7:09pm

Out Thursday night shopping with my lovely friends Tegan, Jeanne and my boyfriend Chuck.

7:10 pm

Hardly!

7:31 pm

Tegan, Chuck and Jeanne have walked off somewhere and ditched me.

7:50 pm

Met up with Tara and we are going to go down to Fun Zone. I forgot to bring my mobile so it’s not like I can call my mates to find out where they are anyway.

8:11pm

Hanging out the front of Fun Zone with Tara, and some girls she knows from her Mums church group Em and Keira. Not that they are dressed like they would ever set foot in a church and finally Chuck shows up after Tegan’s and Jeanne had also ditched him. I decided not to mention feeling rejected and instead suggested we played car racing and the DDR machine for a bit.

 

8:19 pm

Chuck convinced me to play pool instead, but we were interrupted by one of Tara’s older mates showing up before we had set up the rack even. He exchanged hellos with her and her other friends and then headed back outside and lit up a smoke.

 

9:04 pm

He stood out the front and chain smoked for a half hour easy. Casually chatting with Tara-Louise who leaned on the bike racks beside the smoking area. He was clearly quite off his face stoned given the crimson tone of his sclera’s. I stared at him in between taking my shots as he took drag after drag. He must have thought I was checking him out because he introduced himself as Trent to me and then offered me a hit. I declined with a stifled laugh. I was checking him out. Just not in the usual way. Eventually Chuck bummed a smoke off him because he couldn’t handle nicotine withdrawal any longer and after they both finished their cigarettes he invited Trent to come play pool with us inside. They seemed to get on well, they were certainly conversing heaps in between taking shots. I decided no one would miss me while I went to the bathroom to reapply lipstick and didn’t bother to let the boys or Tara-Lousie know when I walked off. I stood and watched a couple of younger kids play Mortal Kombat for a few minutes because they had amped up the gore factor by unlocking some lizard looking character. Eventually that grew dull also and I took back up my original mission to sort out my lip situation. As I passed the row of Sega games towards the toilets I saw Josh gearing up to play laser tag with some of his basketball mates. He smiled and waved at me, so I gave him my best nonchalant nod and kept moving to the back of the building. Seriously, why does Josh have to be so good looking? I think I’m completely over feeling attracted to him and he grins at me like I’m the most amazing human being on the planet and then I spend all my energy just fighting the impulse to reciprocate his enthusiasm. It’s crazy. I hate that he still evokes any sort of emotional response from me. I wish I knew how to turn off the part of my limbic system that still finds him attractive.

9:41 pm

We’re all out of money now so Tara-Louise got one of her friends who has a car to give Chuck a lift home from Fun Zone but there wasn’t enough room for me so then her mate Trent who was swigging a beer at that point piped up and offered to walk me back to my house. No one offered me a better alternative, so I took him up on his proposal.

10:02 pm

It was nice of him to offer to walk me home. He said it wasn’t out of his way but I’m sure that it is. We ambled along silently for a good long while until we passed Emmaus school and I told him about working here sometimes with Mum. So, we detoured over the locked fence and I showed him the sports hall I help clean in the afternoons. There was a huge pile of leaves across the path we took to get back out of the school grounds. I took the opportunity to kick them everywhere. Trent laughed at me and then joined in. We hadn’t even made much of a go dispersing the leaf litter when he slipped and landed on his back crushing the pile completely. I didn’t mean to laugh as loudly as I did but once I started I couldn’t stop, which resulted in him retaliating and pulling me down into the autumn pile with him. We lay on the ground for a minute just giggling at how childish we were behaving and when Trent repositioned himself and sat up I followed his lead taking it as a sign we should head off again. That wasn’t his intention though because he turned to face me, pulled a twig from the complete mess that was my hair at this point and then leaned over and kissed me.

10:15pm

I was not expecting him to do that. He tasted like way too many cigarettes and lingering Carlton Dry. I pulled back and stood up hastily flinging my arms up in an exasperated why? I didn’t get a chance to censor the next words that came out of my mouth until I’d heard my self say, “What the actual fuck, you just spent 2 hours with me and my boyfriend?” And then I clamped my hand over my mouth mortified at the language I’d used in my shock at suddenly being kissed in the middle of a Catholic school garden bed. He smiled broadly and replied “You’re cute” which only served to make me feel more outraged. “That’s hardly a reason” I stated as I began brushing all the dirt and grime off myself and started walking towards the road again. He jogged after me and offered no apology, only saying “You’re really cute, is that a better reason?” I didn’t bother replying. I was angry at more than his justifications. I’m not cute. I have incredibly gorgeous friends in fact and they don’t get kissed constantly by random boys. Being cute isn’t the issue. Boys always tell me that I look attractive and that’s why they want to get with me. I don’t believe that’s what’s going on at all. I think I have a reputation for being easy and that’s what they find so attractive. Case in point. Trent. Trent who got on well with my actual boyfriend. Trent who shouldn’t be telling me I’m cute. The only reason this even happened is likely due to Tara-Louise telling him about me before tonight. I slipped back over the fence and marched over to the curb and pressed the button on the crosswalk and then I felt Trent stop beside me and I looked up into the goofy smile on this idiots’ face. He’s hardly going to apologise, and I still had a 5 block walk home so I looked him straight in the eyes and I asked him in a measured tone “Will you still walk me home if I won’t put out?” He pretended to think about it until the crosswalk lit up green for us and then he swung his arm across my shoulders and told me “Sure thing cutie” with a mischievous glint in his eyes that I chose to ignore as I ducked out of his one-armed hug and started across the intersection towards home.

10:40pm

We got back to my house without further mishap. I made a point to walk inside and lock my screen door behind me before I said goodnight to him. He didn’t look pissed off, he looked amused as he said “Night then cutie” and he blew me a kiss before heading off home himself.

11:01 pm

The hot shower isn’t making me feel less annoyed.

11:12 pm

All we did was kiss once though. Why do I feel so crappy?

11:41pm

That’s not any great achievement to only kiss someone once when you have a boyfriend.

11:50pm

In my bed. Crying. Lots.