Category Archives: Biography

Happy World Teachers Day!

I owe a lot of credit for my writing to my English teachers growing up. I was very lucky to have been taught by English teachers who were not only very good at teaching me the technicalities of writing effectively, but who also encouraged me greatly with my writing endeavours.

I went on to study Primary Education, inspired by my own teachers and my writing idol: John Marsden, who was (and still is) both a teacher and an author.

And now, with children of my own in school, I have even more to be thankful for. They’ve had some fantastic and supportive teachers.

Here’s an infographic on teachers. Some interesting statistics.
World Teacher Day

Infographic courtesy of https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

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A Big Thank You!

beautiful&deadlycover FINALWow, what a fantastic launch. I have so many people I want to thank.

To those who donated prizes…

Please support these fabulous, generous people by checking out their websites.

To those who came to the launch party…

I loved having you all there–you made the launch party a success. I had so much fun sharing excerpts and behind the story tidbits. Thank you for participating in the quizzes and competitions. Thank you especially to everyone who got the word out about the launch party and invited their friends.

A big thank you to everyone who picked up a copy of the book…

It was exciting seeing so many people grabbing their free copies during the launch. I am especially thankful to everyone who has been spreading the word about ‘Beautiful & Deadly‘. The free promo is now over, but you can pick up a copy for $3.49 USD/ $4.85 AUD.

Some stats

It was exciting watching ‘Beautiful & Deadly‘ moving up the charts throughout the launch. These were the top stats:

#6 in Fantasy Collections and Anthologies (Amazon.com.au)
#22 in Paranormal (Amazon.com.au)
#28 in Superhero (Amazon.com)
#36 in Fantasy Anthologies and Short Stories (Amazon.com)
#900 in free kindle store on Amazon.com.au
#3805 in free kindle store on Amazon.com

bestseller amazon au 2 Oct 11am collections

I am still absolutely amazed by those stats!

Thank you in advance…

To everyone who reviews. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the collection.

One Week Until ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ Launches (and you’re invited to the launch party!)

beautiful&deadlycover FINALI can’t believe I’ll be releasing my short story collection ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ in just one week! Things are starting to get scary and exciting. Not to mention busy, busy, busy. At the moment I’m putting together a Facebook launch party to coincide with the launch of the book on Amazon. You’re all invited, so pop by and join the event! There’ll be book excerpts, behind the story tidbits, fun activities, discussions and, best of all, PRIZES! I’ve had some awesome prizes donated by author D.K. Burrow, Mumma H Nutrimetics, Wrap Me Delicious – It Works! Global and the Leigh Family Juice Plus franchise.

Today I wanted to share the line up of stories that will be appearing in the collection. Many of them have appeared in anthologies over the years and now they’ll be all together in one collection. There’s also several new, never-before-published stories.

The Line Up

Angel Blood

Eighteen for Life

Aphrodite

Love Bites

A Troll for Christmas

Curse of the Falls

Island of No Return

Red Lipstick

Spectrum

Spectrum and Captain Awesome vs. Arachnid

Equinox

Ice Crystals

The Seashell

The Sweet Taste of Self-Loathing

Maya and the Prince

The Bony Finger of Death

Do any of those titles sound intriguing? Which one do you most want to read?

Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly for the launch. I’m hoping to offer the book FREE for the first 48 hours!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish + Prize Winners Announced!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

beautiful&deadlycover FINALIn two weeks I will be releasing Beautiful & Deadly: A Fantasy Collection. It will be my first time venturing into the world of self-publishing. In the past I had never really seriously considered self-publishing—preferring to stick to the traditional publishing route. Self-publishing has typically had a bit of a stigma attached to it—self-publishing is for authors who can’t get published by traditional means, right? Plus it would mean all the marketing and business side of publishing would fall to me. I didn’t feel I was business-minded and that I lacked the confidence to market my own work.

But over the past few months my mindset has changed.

Why I changed my mind:
  1. I listened to a webinar on self-publishing children’s books through 12 x 12 and it got me inspired, especially when it was mentioned that children’s writers could do well through being hybrid-authors (authors who are both traditionally published and self-published). I ended up signing up for the Picture Ebook Mastery course run by the Children’s Book Insider and I started playing around with the idea of self-publishing my own children’s book. My biggest drawback came from the fact that I am not an illustrator and hiring an illustrator would be costly.
  2. A friend put me onto the ‘Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast and I started listening to it. I became even more inspired. There were writers out there making a good living off self-publishing. I think there is this mindset that there are so many badly self-published books out there that self-publishing has developed a stigma that turns readers off. But the authors on these podcasts were finding that if they put the work in and put out a professional-standard book, they could do well. I began to think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
  3. I started reading more about self-publishing and seemed like a lot of authors were saying that even in traditional publishing a lot of the marketing was left on the shoulders of the author. That was a big selling point for me. The marketing aspect of self-publishing had been a major off-putting aspect for me, but if I was going to be responsible for marketing my work even in traditional publishing, then it was no longer a point against self-publishing. In fact, marketing a self-published book would be great practice if I ever end up being traditionally published. Plus haven’t I already been marketing my short stories in their respective anthologies? This wouldn’t be too much different, except it would just be me (no other contributing authors/publisher to share the load).
  4. There have been times in the past where I briefly thought I would like to put all my published short stories into a collection, but now that the idea of self-publishing had lost its stigma for me, I started entertaining the idea much more seriously. The more I planned the collection, the more I wanted to make it a reality. And because most of the stories in the collection have been previously published, I think it took some of the pressure off, because they’d already been through a lot of edits and I knew I could put out a professional book. There are two rules for self-publishing; one of those is for your book to be professionally edited.
  5. The second rule is to have a professional cover. I started researching cover artists, but at the same time I started playing around making my own cover. Thankfully I have been doing graphic art for about 8 years as a hobby and I have made a lot of mock covers over the years. My first cover was very amateur looking, so I scrapped it and made another. This one I felt looked professional, especially after some tweaking based on feedback. It was more validation that I could actually self-publish a professional-looking book. (P.S. For others considering self-publishing, I highly recommend getting a cover artist, unless you have been doing graphics yourself for years and have enough skills to do it yourself. If your cover doesn’t look professional, readers will be put off buying the book.)

Fingers crossed and wish me luck as I plunge head first into the world of self-publishing.

For those interested in exploring self-publishing, this series of posts by Author Entrepreneur Management Solutions is a must read. It takes you through planning, marketing, expenses and predicting income.

I’d love to hear stories from anyone else who has taken this route. Or what other writers think of self-publishing? Would you do it? Why or why not?
PRIZE WINNERS!

And now for the winners of my blogiversary giveaway!

Prize 1: An advance copy of Beautiful & Deadly.

Mary Preston!

Prize 2: A limited edition short story of your choice from the collection.

Angelina M Linan!

Prize 3: Your choice of a story critique OR a $5 Amazon gift card.

Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky!

Thanks to all who entered and shared the competition. Winners, please check your email for your prizes!

Blogiversary Celebrations – New Look Site & A Prize Giveaway!

gift-553140_1280Welcome to my blogiversary celebrations! Today marks 6 years since I first started this blog as a way to help aspiring writers by sharing my acquired writing knowledge, as well as sharing my own writing journey.
I have some exciting announcements for my blogiversary:

  1. My blog has received a new look and a new and improved domain name.
  2. My short story collection Beautiful & Deadly is due to be released on the 30th September and I am excited to share the book trailer with you for my blogiversary.
  3. To celebrate my blogiversary, I’m having a competition! That’s right, it might be my blog’s birthday, but YOU get the presents! Details at the end of this post.

A Brand New Look

Regular visitors may have noticed my blog’s brand new header and updated look! You may also have noticed a change in my website’s name. I decided it was time to not only get an official and simplified domain name, I also decided it was time to rename the site to reflect my name. So now instead of thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com, my new web address is *drumroll*

johartauthor.com

But don’t worry, if you use thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com it will still take you to this site 🙂

Beautiful & Deadly

beautiful&deadlycover FINALThe last five years I’ve had a number of short stories published in various anthologies. A few months ago I had the idea to put them all together in a single collection, along with some new, never-before-published stories. In the coming weeks I’m going to talk a little more about how the idea to publish my own short story collection came about and a sneak peek at some of the stories included, but for today I’m excited to premiere my first ever book trailer!

Competition Time!

To help celebrate my blogiversary I’m running a competition to win an advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ along with some other great prizes!

To enter, simply fill in the rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prizes:

  1. An advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’. You will get to read it more than a week before its official release date!
  2. Your choice of any single story from the collection as a limited edition PDF.
  3. Your choice of a short story critique or Amazon gift card.

Competition closes: 11.59pm (AEST) Wednesday 16th September

Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Thursday 17th September.

Beautiful & Deadly Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to be revealing the cover for my upcoming short story collection ‘Beautiful & Deadly’!

beautiful&deadlycover FINAL

Keep an eye on my blog next week as I will be debuting the book trailer during my blogiversary celebrations, launching a competition to win an advanced PDF copy of the collection and giving details of the release date of the book!

How to Fight Writer’s Funk When Depressed

512px-Depressed_(4649749639)

Writers and Depression

Depression often seems to go hand in hand with being a writer. I’m sure there is some psychological reason for this–something to do with how our creative brains work. Not to mention constantly dealing with rejection in this hard to break into industry.

Regular followers of my blog may have noticed I have been rather quiet the past year. The reason for this is because I have been battling depression. I lost motivation for updating my blog, for interacting on Twitter and for submitting my work. I also lost my motivation to write. I felt blocked. Normally my brain is entertaining a million story ideas at any given time, but in the midst of my depression there was nothing.

A Therapist’s Suggestion

While attending therapy, my therapist would give me tasks she wanted me to complete as part of my battle against the depression. These tasks included exercising daily, eating well and self-affirmations. She also wanted me to write–it was supposed to be something to do for me, because she knew I was a writer. Every session she would ask, “Have you written anything since I last saw you?” I would always say no and mumble some excuse as to why not. She would write on a piece of blank white paper my tasks to complete before our next session and in capital letters she would always include

WRITE!

But the words wouldn’t come.

How to Get Out of that Writing Funk

I am finally getting back into the swing of writing again. Properly writing. My therapist’s push for me to write helped, but I also found some other ways to help me get back my motivation to write. If you’re going through your own writing funk, maybe these can help you, too.

1. Read. A lot. I realised not only had I not been writing, I hadn’t been doing much reading either, preferring to watch mind-numbing television or get sucked into the black hole of the internet. At the start of the year I challenged myself to read fifty books in a year, knowing that reading is a great way to inspire writing. It worked. The more I’ve read (especially in the same genre as my WIP) the more my creative juices have returned. I’ve been keeping track of my reading on Goodreads’ reading challenge. (See my progress here.)

2. Write. Anything. This came from my therapist. She told me it didn’t matter what I wrote, just write. It doesn’t have to be a story. Just grab a piece of paper or open up Word and write whatever comes to mind. In the beginning I wrote a lot of my negative thoughts and feelings. It reminded me of when I was an angsty teen and whenever I felt depressed I would write dark poetry. So write angsty poetry. Write a stream of thoughts. Write fanfiction. Just write!

3. Reread old writing. Go to wherever you keep old, forgotten stories. Open those old files or pull out those old notebooks. Reread your old work. Remind yourself how far you’ve come as a writer. You might even get inspired to start rewriting some of those old ideas using the writing skills you’ve gained since you last wrote it.

How do you get motivated to write again when you’re in a writing funk or suffering from depression? Please share in the comments.

Photo credit: Sander van der Wel from Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons

Arrr! Talk Like a Pirate Day (with prizes!)

In celebration o’ Talk Like a Pirate Day, I’ve a special announcement I’ve been burstin’ to tell ya.

Ok, so I’m not great at talking like a pirate, but I do have some exciting pirate-related news to share. I recently had not one, but TWO stories published in the anthology ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea‘.

teapot Tales ebook cover

The first story, ‘Island of No Return’, is about a cursed pirate captain who makes a deal with a sea goddess. It was partly inspired by the lyrics of Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’. Here’s a snippet:

“Be warned: do not make your decision to proceed lightly. All magic comes with a price. Are you prepared to pay the price?”

Lucas held out his arms and tore off his sleeves to reveal the blackened skin where the curse had already taken effect. “I am willing to pay any price to rid myself of this curse. I will not be taken by the darkness.”…

She moved towards him as though floating across the surface of the water until she stood so close their faces were mere centimetres from each other. Her lips pressed against his. At first, a warmth stirred inside him—she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever encountered, after all. But soon the warmth drained from his body and he felt his blood turn ice cold in his veins.

The second story, ‘The Seashell’, is about a tide pool explorer who’s magically whisked into an underwater world. This one is based on my memories of the adventures I imagined as a child playing on the beach.

Jagged pillars of rocks lined the shore. Waves crashed against them in a rhythmic percussion, accompanied by the screech of seagulls. Ashleigh skipped and balanced over the slippery rocks, avoiding the tide pools and skittering crabs.  Out of the corner of her eye something sparkled in the sunlight. Like a colourful beacon it glinted from a cragged rock jutting out of the ocean.

The anthology features sea-inspired short stories suitable for a variety of ages. And, as the title suggests, the stories are short enough to be enjoyed over a cup of tea. Check out the book trailer!

A CHANCE TO WIN SOME PIRATE BOOTY!

The authors of ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea‘ got together (in conjunction with Melusine Muse Press) and decided in celebration of our newly released pirate-themed anthology and Talk Like a Pirate Day we would do a giveaway! Head on over to the Melusine Muse Press blog to go into the draw to win one of several prizes, including a copy of ‘Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea’. There’s lots of ways to get bonus entries into the draw, including liking my FB page. The winners will be drawn and announced on the 25th September.

 

Interview on Emily Moreton’s Blog

Annabeth and the Wolf
Annabeth and the Wolf

Last week I interviewed author Emily Moreton on my blog; this week she is interviewing me on hers. I talk a little about my writing and how I came to write ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, as well as answering questions on time travel, the one thing I’d want with me on a desert island and my dream travel destination. Pop on over and check it out.

Interview on Emily Moreton’s blog.

Don’t forget you can find ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ here or at most online bookstores. You can also read it, along with Emily’s story, as part of the anthology Torqued Tales.

The Lonely Wish-Giver

The Lonely Wish Giver cover

Yesterday I mentioned I got a surprise email about the release of the GrammoWriMo novel The Lonely Wish-Giver.

What is GrammoWriMo?

During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November I took part in a Grammarly initiative called GrammoWriMo. The premise was for a large group of (750+) writers to write a novel together during NaNoWriMo.

How did that work?

I don’t envy the organisers, but it was really well executed. Before the month began they put out a couple of surveys to the authors to come up with an idea/theme for the novel. There were questions on what gender the main character should be, what the supporting character would be like, what genre the novel should be, what tense it should be written in, etc. From this survey Grammarly put together a main premise and 30 chapters were divided up and given a group of authors each. I was in the group for chapter 29.

Can too many authors spoil the book?

It was an interesting experience. I’ve worked on a group novel before where each author wrote a separate chapter (The Life and Times of Chester Lewis), where we got to read what all the previous chapter authors had written before adding our own. This was different, as within our chapter group we were assigned one day out of the month to add to our assigned chapter and we had a small word limit to work with (just a few hundred words). The hard part about this was that every chapter group was working the same way and although we could read what had so far been written in the previous chapters, they weren’t yet complete (though each chapter had a general overview of what would happen plot-wise so we had some idea how it would play out).

The other thing I found difficult was when it came to my part (I was given a day about halfway through), I wasn’t left with anywhere to go by the previous authors as they’d already written to the conclusion of the chapter! After consulting our Grammarly team leader, I was told we could go fill in earlier parts of the chapter as long as we didn’t delete what another author had written. This worked well for me because I had felt there needed to be more focus character development earlier in the chapter and I was able to go back and explore that with my snippet.

I bet you’re thinking it’s starting to sound a bit messy by this point? To a degree it was.

Pulling it all together

Obviously with so many different writing styles and different writing skill levels, it wasn’t completely cohesive at this stage (though having the plot summaries for each chapter helped keep the story on track). There were plenty of plot holes where strands of story from one chapter never appeared again in later chapters. But then came stage two.

The Grammarly staff put a call out for editors and I put my hand up and became the editor for my chapter. We were given directions to make sure the chapter itself was cohesive and that the chapter worked cohesively with the novel as a whole. I was given certain points from earlier chapters that needed to tie in to our chapter (especially as ours was basically the final chapter, with chapter 30 as more of an epilogue). At this stage my part of the chapter had actually been shifted to chapter 28.

There was a call for titles and a survey to pick the best one.

Then a call for a cover and another survey to pick the favourite.

After our edits, the novel fell to the Grammarly editors (including putting it through their Grammar checker) and we authors were left to wait.

Release Day!

Yesterday the novel was finally released with the exciting announcement that all proceeds would be going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation to tie in with the theme of the novel.

So what’s it about?

The story follows a wish-giver named Audra who questions her purpose. She leaves her wishing fountain in search of other wish-givers (and herself), accompanied by a man who long ago gave up on wishes. While she is gone she learns her fountain is in danger from a rogue wish-giver.

Intrigued?

Interested in seeing what a novel written by hundreds of authors looks like and help raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation in the process? You can get The Lonely Wish-Giver as an ebook from Amazon. It’s only 99c!