August 31, 2013 @ 10:53 PM

The daily quota of words...

A few weeks ago, in the post about my little vacation on reaching the halfway point in my new book, I remarked how I was looking forward to getting back into harness again ... of resuming the disciplines of writing and my daily quota of words as I tackled the second half of the manuscript.


It prompted a degree of comment from people interested in what those disciplines were? What did I mean by a quota, and how many words a day did I write? What other techniques did I employ at the writing desk?

Some correspondents, on the other hand, questioned the need for a discipline at all. Isn't it better to wait for the Muse to inspire, than harness yourself like a workhorse to the treadmill of composition?.........

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August 24, 2013 @ 1:38 AM

… and fallible human memory.

What does an historical novelist do when the document trail in the story you’re writing runs out, and all you are left with is a fallible human memory that cannot recollect the relevant events  with any certainty?

For a conventional historian, or even a journalist, the approach may be straightforward enough. You  simply say that, after an exhaustive search, the evidence cannot be found ... perhaps offer one or two hypotheses as to the likely course of events  ... and move on to the next part of the narrative.

But a novelist writing what is, in essence, a true story, does not have that escape.

One is, after all, telling a tale – and so far as the reader is concerned, .........

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August 17, 2013 @ 1:46 AM

Climbing the literary mountain...

I passed the halfway mark in the composition of my new book the other day.

Well, I'm not sure if it's exactly half way. I won't really know that until it's finished in about 12 months time. But I think it's going to be about 400 pages of typescript.

And when I came to the end of Chapter 14 last Friday, and saw it was page 205, I reckoned that was near enough to the top of the literary mountain that all of us have to climb in the writing of any new book.

Namadgi Walk. By SA 2.5. Wikipedia Commons

High enough to see how far I've come in the ascent behind me. High enough to look out across the valleys below to the vista of open country beyond, with the promise of no more labours.........

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August 17, 2013 @ 1:43 AM

This week I’m pleased to bring the second part of my online interview with Julie Watts, formerly editor and Publisher of Children’s and Young Adult Books with Penguin Books Australia.

In this section Julie discusses what she looked for in deciding whether to publish a book … and also, as an author herself, the view from the other side of the desk.

Becoming a publisher


You were appointed Penguin's Publisher for Children’s and Young Adult books. When? How did you make the transition? What were some of your big successes (among them Mao's Last Dancer)?


I began my career at Penguin in 1980 as secretary to the publishing department and in 1986 I was appointed Publisher for the children&.........

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August 17, 2013 @ 1:40 AM

Bringing out the best in an author…

This week I’m very pleased to bring the first of a two-part interview with Julie Watts, the notable Children’s and Young Adult Publisher for many years with Penguin Books Australia.

Julie Watts

During a justly celebrated career, Julie has been responsible for publishing some of our most successful and best-loved books for both younger and older readers, and for pioneering attractive new formats such as the ‘Aussie Bites’ series and its offshoots.

In the first part of the interview we talked about the process of editing: her approach to it, and ways of dealing with established writers and also first-time authors, for whom editing can sometimes be rather confronting.........

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