Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Wonderful Writing Week

I have said it before that my virtual friends mean a lot to me. I have got to know so many lovely people online, my only worry now is not being able to keep up with everyone all the time due to the lack of hours in the day.

This week really brought home to me how much some of these friendships mean, and I wanted to share it, because I feel incredibly lucky.

Gorgeous books
First of all I have been sent two books in the mail. Voices of Angels is an anthology, which includes a story by my good friend Alison Wells. She wrote such a lovely inscription in the book too. I will treasure that, and I'm looking forward to reading her story and those by other writers I admire greatly.

Lies Love Tells by Gina Dickerson is a book I already have on Kindle but although my Kindle is growing on me, I remain a fan of the paperback. Doesn't it look gorgeous! I'm so looking forward to reading it.


I recently won a book on Goodreads by a writer I had not heard of at the time, Stephanie Abbott. I looked at some of the reviews of the book before my copy arrived and I saw someone had written a couple of unrealistic references to England "jerked them out of the story". As a writer, this irritated me, because if it was my book I would have wanted to know what those things were and change them. So I offered to read through the book and give the author some pointers. Luckily she took this offer in the spirit it was intended, and so began a partnership which led to a second edition. Yesterday I was delighted to see two Kindle gifts in my inbox and when I looked at the second edition of the book I orginally read, I saw this acknowledgments page (right). (I took this on my iPod Touch as the picture is clearer than a shot of my Kindle). Thanks, Stephanie!

I have also been receiving emails about review copies I've sent out of When Dreams Come True. This is my 'make or break' book when it comes to writing. I hadn't realised quite how important it was to me for people to like it until I received the first 3 or 4 emails from people and so far all of the feedback has been really positive. There have been tears, but all of them happy ones. So thank you to Rachel Lyndhurst , Tyler-Rose (The Reading Pile) and Cheryl Casey.

What a wonderful week!!!

Thanks for reading xx

Monday, 23 April 2012

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop Winners

Thank you to the 93 (!!!) people who entered my giveaway for the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop.

I have chosen my winners, and I will be in touch with you all soon.

 Congratulations to:


Three cheers!

Blog Hop and Writing Competition Updates

The No Strings Attached Giveaway blog hop was popular!! Later today I will be going through and sorting the 93 names into three different piles and then announcing winners.

Sadly, my writing competition was not as popular. Last year I had a lot of entries but this one did not come anywhere near. I can understand this, as there are a lot of competitions out there to chose from.

It's been a tough decision but as a result of having a low number of entries, later today I will be refunding the entry fees, and returning the stories to the writers so they can try and place them elsewhere.


Monday, 16 April 2012

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop

I am taking part in the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

The dates for this hop are April 17th to 22nd.

All you have to do is tell me which of my books you would like to receive as a prize if you win.
The options are a signed paperback copy of:

New Beginnings
A Knowing Look and Other Stories
When Dreams Come True which launches on 28 May 2012.

You can read a bit more about all of the books here.

Any comments made before midnight PST on 22 April will count, and a winner will be picked on 23rd.

This is an international giveaway.

Good luck and happy hopping!

Edited 19 April to add: I am so thrilled with the response to this hop, I am going to give away one copy of each book so three prizes in total.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Freaks by Nik Perring and Caroline Smailes

Today is the publication date for Freaks by Nik Perring and Caroline Smailes, so by way of celebration I am honoured to be hosting one of the stories from the collection here on my blog, complete with a fantastic illustration by Darren Craske:

[Super Power: The ability to make oneself unseen to the naked eye]

If I stay totally still,
if I stand right tall,
with me back against the school wall,
close to the science room’s window,
with me feet together,
pointing straight,
aiming forward,
if I make me hands into tight fists,
make me arms dead straight,
 if I push me arms into me sides,
if I squeeze me thighs,
stop me wee,
if me belly doesn’t shake,
if me boobs don’t wobble,
if I close me eyes tight,
so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,
if I push me lips into me mouth,
if I make me teeth bite me lips together,
if I hardly breathe,
if I don’t say a word.
I’ll magic meself invisible,
and them lasses will leave me alone.

Dedicated ‘To all who, if only for a moment, felt that they didn’t belong’, FREAKS is a unique collection of short stories with comic book style illustrations.

Darkly humorous these stories explore the more disturbing consequences of ordinary, flawed human beings obtaining superpowers.  

This superb collection is now available from Amazon in both paperback and ebook formats.

About the Authors
Caroline Smailes was born in Newcastle. In 2005 a chance remark on a daytime chat show caused Caroline to reconsider her life. She enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing and began writing. Caroline lives in the North West of England with her husband and three children. She can be found at her website and on Twitter.

Nik Perring lives in Cheshire, UK, where he writes, mostly, short stories. The stories he’s written have been widely published, in the UK and abroad, in print and on-line. They’ve been collected in the book Not So Perfect (Roast Books, 2010), read at events, printed on fliers and used, with one of Dave Eggers’, as essential material on a creative writing course in the US. If Nik could choose a super power he would rather like the ability to type a little faster. Either that or be able to talk to cats. He likes cats. His online home is here.

Darren Craske began his career writing and illustrating comic books before his published work with book one of the Cornelius Quaint Chronicles: The Equivoque Principle. The second book in the series, The Eleventh Plague followed soon after, with the conclusion to the series to be published in 2012. Darren lives in Hampshire with his wife and two children.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Interview with Jodi Cleghorn and Adam Byatt

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Adam Byatt and Jodi Cleghorn to my blog, to discuss their new project Post Marked: Piper's Reach. 

Jodi Cleghorn
Hi Jodi and Adam, welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer

Firstly could you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and your writing? (Max 50 words each)

(AB) I am an English teacher and emerging writer. In this project I am the n00b to Jodi’s sensei. I write contemporary fiction. It’s the everyday situations, emotions and minutiae that interest me as subjects for writing.

(JC) I am a writer, editor and publisher... and definitely no sensei. I write predominantly dark speculative-fiction, exploring themes of power, love, loss, the intersection of technology and humanity, and yes, I have a penchant for time travel.

What is Post Marked: Pipers Reach?
(AB) It is an organic narrative, collaborative writing project traversing an odd path between old and new forms of communication, differing modalities of storytelling and mixed media, all played out in real and suspended time.

(JC) Or the short version... a collection of fictional letters shared weekly on a Tuesday as handwritten and digital missives. I like the pretentious sounding version - Adam.

Who came up with the idea and how?

(AB) It was Jodi’s idea *points the finger of blame in her direction*. She pitched it to me in January while I was on a camping holiday, waist deep in the surf. After that, we brainstormed via text message. Jodi - I’ve now called my black bikinis... “the pitch bikinis” though possibly inappropriate attire later down the track for trying to secure an agent or publisher!
Adam Byatt

(JC) The concept came to me late 2009 but took meeting Adam in person late last year to shift it from idea to potential project. The original concept focused on two colleagues who start writing letters to each other as an experiment. I wanted to explore the impact of the slower medium of letters and the faster medium of email/phone/text messaging on a relationship.

What Adam and I have pursued is a much simpler version of the original and connects two old friends across the void of 20 years of silence. It is us, not the characters living the original concept—an existence in two very different time streams.

Did you write a lot of letters when you were younger?

(AB) Throughout high school I wrote probably hundreds of letters. I’ve always been a bit of a thinker and it found an expression in writing. It was a natural extension of who I was and the relationships I had with people, especially those friends who lived interstate. . A friend and me once wrote a letter, put it in a bottle and sent it down a river. We hoped for a reply and it was some months later I received a letter in the post from someone who found it.

(JC) I started writing letters in primary school—originally to my cousin and the people I met on holidays, then later to my friends when I moved interstate. It was where my heart, hopes, thoughts and fears all went, committed to ink and sent two states away for safekeeping. It was also where my writing skills were honed.

(AB) I would cringe if I read what I wrote when I was 13 or so, and certainly into the later years of high school. In the moment I was so serious, intense, earnest and focused on the recipient. I’m not sure I would want to revisit them, That kid with the mullet haircut has a lot to answer for. If anyone I know is reading this, please don’t tell me if you still have my letters.

(JC) In 1989 (Year 10) I wrote between 20-30 A4 pages a week. In Year 12 I wrote weekly to my friend Ty in Geelong and almost 30 years on we are still friends (this Easter we celebrated 27 years of friendship). I’d love to see what I was writing to Ty back in 1992 given my letters weren’t epic dissertation on my latest crush (because for quite while it was Ty!) When I repatriated all my friends letters earlier this year I knew for every letter in the massive pile, I had written one in return!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with another writer on a project?

(JC) Writing collaboratively has always been a bigger and better experience than going solo for me. I find it almost intoxicating (but without the accompanying headache): the thrill of wowing your writing partner (as a prequel to wowing your readers); sharing the responsibility of building a narrative; riding the joint momentum.

Most of all I love watching my characters come alive through another writer. Watching Ella-Louise grow and evolve through the eyes of Jude is as beautiful as it is intimate.

(AB) This is a unique situation. We write independently of each other but the narratives are intrinsically tied to the other. We weave in and out of each other’s stories. The advantage of collaboration is the perspectives and insights another person provides. The downside to this project is the ‘no spoilers’ clause. Jodi and I do not talk about the usual things: characterisation, plot, motivation. We have to wait to read the letter and glean it all from there. It makes it very immediate and thrilling, but can be frustrating when you’re yearning to talk about what has happened and what might happen.

(JC) To be hermetically sealed away from the world, with just my character, was tough--especially for the first three months, when I could talk to no one. Now I just can’t talk to Adam about it, which is kind of an antithesis of working together, but in this instance, it’s absolutely appropriate. Working with Adam is manna for a troubled creative soul.

(AB) There are no disadvantages to working with Jodi. She is absolutely brilliant to work with. We are very aware of contributing equally to the project: writing the letters, maintaining the site, admin, etc. Jodi - endeavouring to never be the social loafer! We each have strengths and play to those.

If you are thinking of collaborating choose your partner wisely. They need to be your foil, nemesis, partner, spouse and confidante in the creation, development and completion of a project.  
Have you written one character each or has it been entirely collaborative?

(AB) We have written one character each: Jodi created Ella-Louise, and I created Jude, although Jodi named Jude (after the patron saint of hopeless causes). I suggested the name of the town and the initial history of Piper’s Reach.

(JC) While we write letters from the perspective of one character, we both influence and shape the teenager versions of each other’s character. I’ll drop in a reference to something in the past and it’s up to Adam to fill in the details... or as is often the case... not fill in the details. That’s Jude’s fault, not mine - Adam

How will people be able to read Post Marked: Pipers Reach?
Postmarked: Piper’s Reach launches on April 10 at the following site:
Each Tuesday a new letter will be posted (no pun intended). You can download the handwritten letter or read the text version on the site. Each story also comes with a music clip.

What are your future plans both writing together and individually?

(AB) There are many more letters to be written by Jude and Ella-Louise. We have no plans to work together in the future (Jodi was my editor for the Literary Mix Tapes: Nothing But Flowers and Eighty-Nine anthologies) and I wouldn’t rule out another collaborative project should the right one present itself.

I am about to live the cliche: take long service leave to write my first novel. It’s the chance to extend and expand my skills from short fiction into long fiction. I have a long list of projects stuck to the wall beside my desk including a multimedia novella, a YA novel, a collection of short stories and there are another two novels (one YA, one adult) composting in my head.

(JC) I hope there are more opportunities to work with Adam. For now I’m just not thinking about the ride ending.

I’m preparing to start work on my debut novel via The Year of the Novel online course, fitting writing around my editing and publishing responsibilities at eMergent. I’m also working toward completing all 52 of the Form and Genre Challenges at Write Anything with the view to bundle them into a collection entitled “52 Degrees of Madness”.

Thank you both so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Further information on Post Marked: Piper's Reach can be found below:




Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is an ambitious organic narrative collaborative project between Jodi Cleghorn and Adam Byatt traversing an odd path between old and new forms of communication, differing modalities of storytelling and mixed media, all played out in real and suspended time.


In December 1992 Ella-Louise Wilson boarded the Greyhound Coach for Sydney leaving behind the small coastal town of Piper’s Reach and her best friend and soulmate, Jude Smith. After twenty years of silence, a letter arrives at Piper’s Reach reopening wounds that never really healed. When the past reaches into the future, is it worth risking a second chance?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Some Very Random Things I Have Discovered About Self-Publishing

This is a very random post, but I'm putting it up in case it helps one person... you never know.
Some brief but useful points about self publishing issues.

1. When you self-publish with Lulu, you can't upgrade from their free extended distribution to global distribution. You have to set up a new project, get a new ISBN and go through the whole process again. So think long and hard, as even if you are like me and you think no-one's going to buy your book, you may be proved wrong and then want to upgrade later on.

1b. Vistaprint do a helpful 'small sticker' which you can post a Lulu barcode into (or any other image for that matter) for stickering up the stock you have remaining with your old ISBN on.

2. When you get to the point where you need an ITIN to avoid paying US tax as an "alien" and have to fill in the form W-7 in order to get it, you will read about how complicated it is, blah blah blah. Well if you follow the instructions, you will find it much easier than you anticipate.

2b You can mail the completed form with your ID to the US Embassy in your own country which makes it easy postage wise. I sent my form off to the US Embassy in London and had my passport returned within 2 working days.

Thanks for reading!