Saturday, 29 April 2017

What book to write next

As I write this post, I'm 20 pages off the final edit for Welcome to the Apocalypse Book 2. Then it's a read through and a proof read and finally load up to Amazon in time to make the deadline of June 8.

Naturally, once this is done I'll have a ten minutes break and start working on Book 3. But I think I'm going to sneak in a little in-between story. with the recent relaunch of all my back catalogue, I've discovered a couple of sleepers that have awoken.

Poison in the Pond, my horror novella is doing rather well. So is my YA spy adventure novel Resident Spy.

Which leads me to the question of "Which book do I write next?" Let's face it, when books are selling, I should get stuck into writing more of those books.

Poison in the Pond commenced life as one of the very first novels I'd ever written, and after it had sat in a drawer for many ears, I decided to edit it and publish it. Turned out to not be as good as I recall so many, many, many words were cut. The end result was a 30,000 word novella. And I've always wanted to write more stories, just not continuing, rather a series of titles themed around the four elements.

Water - Poison in the Pond
Fire - Evil in the Embers
Air - Wicked in the Wind (you get the drift)
Earth - Danger in the Dirt (or something like that)

Resident Spy is also picking up some sales. This book has the potential to be a series, but I have to be honest, when I first published it, I had planned a series but then the publisher wasn't doing any promotion so I held off on writing a follow up book because they had first option.

So that's my dilemma. Of course I'm writing Book 3 of Welcome to the Apocalypse because that's still my best seller so far. But I also need to work on additional titles to my back catalogue.

What do I write next? YA spy adventure, or horror novella.

As well as seeing where the muse takes me, I'll also be applying the tips I've learned over the years to get a first draft written quickly. Write the overview and fill in the blanks. Aim to write 1,000 words per day and I'll have the first draft of the 30K novella written.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How Katy Perry inspired YA novel One Little Spell

My YA novels have undergone a revamp this month with new covers and new titles, and one novel even has a new chapter at the end. One Little Spell was originally released as Little Red Gem. But not enough people were reading the novel to get the reference to the title so I retitled it to One Little Spell.

In the book, leading up to to the climax, the main character, Ruby Parker, is sitting in the car and having a moment where she reflects on her behaviour and prepares for the future. She has just gone on an incredible journey that has taken 250 pages and over 65,000 words to tell. To sum up her situation, the boy she loves has broken her heart and now she is having wondering if it was worth it. She must have learned something on this incredible journey. But what? The feelings inside are all mixed up as if someone has tossed them out a window and left them to the mercy of the wind. Her thoughts are like a Geiger counter machine in the middle of an earthquake.

Thousands of miles away, I'm sitting in my study and I have been led on this incredible journey that has taken 250 pages and over 65,000 words to hear. But Ruby has left it up to me to sum up the story. So I’m staring at the chapter that will lead to the climax, the ending, and I feel Ruby's broken heart. And my first thought is that this must be what songwriters do when they write songs.

It's easy to imagine that thousands of miles away, Katy Perry is sitting on a sofa writing a song about love lost and found. Or she may be lying on a bed. Or taking a walk. Okay, I’m not entirely sure where she is but I picture her at home on a sofa amidst a wad of tissues and empty chocolate wrappers. Her tears must be the result of an incredible journey. Maybe her tears are the result of a broken heart. Like Ruby, maybe the feelings inside Katy are all mixed up as if someone has tossed them out a window and left them to the mercy of the wind. Like Ruby, maybe Katy’s thoughts are as erratic as a Geiger counter machine in the middle of an earthquake. But Katy Perry is experienced with words, so after she’s done crying she gets up off the sofa and tosses the wads of tissues and empty wrappers in the bin. Then she walks into her study and wraps her broken heart in layers of sticky tape...

The song in particular was "Roar" and it really summed up how I wanted Ruby Parker to act. I wanted her to come out of this situation roaring and ready for a fight. The book does have a happily ever after, but I think it's also crucial that young women are prepared to stand up for themselves.

In that moment, while that song was playing, Ruby, Katy, and I were connected by the need to express our feelings. Both in words but there are other ways to express feelings. What songs have connected with you? Or have you found other ways of connection such as art, paintings, TV shows, movie characters? Maybe it was a poem.

I'd love to hear your story.



Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Night Witches in fiction and the stuff you missed in the history lessons

Aussie author Mirren Hogan is celebrating the release of her urban fantasy novel "Nightmares Rise". But I'm way behind on my promo activities so this blog is to showcase more of her historical fiction novel "Night Witches". You can read more about Mirren from the time she visited my virtual café for a coffee chat here.

Little is known of the all-woman Russian aviators who flew bombing missions during World War II. From mechanics to navigators, pilots and officers, the 588th regiment was composed entirely of women. The 588th regiment flew 30,000 missions and dropped 23,000 tonnes of bombs on the Germans.

The Night Witches developed the technique of flying close to their intended targets, then cutting their engines. Silently they would glide to their targets and release their bombs. Then they would restart their engines and fly away. The first warning the Germans had of an impending raid was the sound of the wind whistling against the wing bracing wires of the Po-2s, and by then it was too late.

The Night Witches flew in planes made from canvas and balsawood. For the majority of the war, they had no radios, or parachutes. The latter was considered to take up too much space needed to carry bombs. Of three women's regiments, theirs was the only one who consisted entirely of women through the duration of the war.

This is an incredible story of  these women's bravery and skill that resonates even in today's society.

In this historical fiction novel by Mirren Hogan, "Night Witches" tells the story of Nadia Valinsky, a young female pilot and university education student from Moscow. When the Germans invade the Soviet Union in 1941, she wants to fight to defend her country. In October of 1941 Marina Raskova, a famous female aviator, asks for volunteers, Nadia signs up. She is accepted for an interview and offered a place in the training regiment as a navigator.

Following rigorous training at Engles Air Force base, Nadia is assigned to the Night Bomber regiment. She and her crew fly multiple missions on the front lines and are regularly under fire from anti-aircraft guns. The Germans give them the nickname Night Witches, because of the sound their aircraft make as they sweep overhead.

They lived together, fought together and died together.


Searchlights lit up the sky, but they were looking where we had been. Antonina had restarted the engine and nimbly avoided them every time they moved.

"This is too close," she declared, sounding breathless herself. Another couple of minutes and we'd be safely away. I swallowed hard and tried to force my heart to slow. I didn't want to come that close again.

A second later, one of our bombs exploded, earlier than it should have. We used bombs with delayed fuses, deliberately set to go off once we were safely clear. We flew so low we could easily have been caught in the blast from our own bomb and blown out of the sky.

As it was, the shockwaves from the explosion rocked the Po-2, making it shudder violently. Pieces of shrapnel flew up at us from below, tearing several small holes in the wings and a large one in the cockpit floor beside my feet.

I felt a searing pain in my arm and leg and realised I'd been hit. A sudden burst of wet heat at the back of my left leg told me I was bleeding. I tugged off one of my gloves and reached down to feel a shard of metal sticking out of the underside of my calf. Although it hurt like nothing I'd ever experienced, I didn't dare to pull it out in case I bled even more.

"Are you all right back there?" Antonina asked, so at least I knew she was alive.

"Yes," I lied. "You?"

"I'm fine, but Valentina is going to be busy."

That was true. The Po-2 could fly as normal, but the poor thing was going to need some patching up, as was I.

If you'd like to read more, you can buy Night Witches from:
Author bio
Mirren Hogan lives in NSW Australia with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, rabbits and countless birds. She has a Bachelor of Arts (English/ history), a Graduate Diploma of Arts (writing) and a couple of degrees in education. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction, as well as historical fiction.
Her debut novel —Crimson Fire— was released in October 2016.
Burning Willow Press will be releasing Nightmares Rise – co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa – on April 8. 
Mirren also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.
Follow on Twitter: @MirrenHogan
Official website:

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Thinking of revamping your book covers? You may want to hire a professional like I eventually did

I recently made the decision to revamp my back catalogue book covers and the blurbs because I'm heading to SupaNova Sydney in June and I wanted to take my back catalogue with me. But I had to be honest, the covers were lacking. The beauty of being a self published author is that we can correct things if they're not working. The tragic part of being a self-published author is lack of funds.
A side note here - Often the difference between a blockbuster movie and an independent film is funding. Same with self-published books. Great content can be overlooked simply because an author doesn't have the money to buy a great cover, or hire a top-notch editor, or pay for a course of writing killer descriptions.
I'm guilty of not possessing an endless bucket of funds. Hence why when two of my YA titles reverted back to me, I did the book covers myself. The reason for this was that I wanted to get them up on Amazon quickly so I didn't lose the reviews. I didn't have the money to buy professional covers and I didn't think any of the generic covers suited. Anyway, my covers served their purpose or retaining the reviews, but they didn't attract any sales despite a blog tour and ads.
I'll show you the all 3 book covers for my first published novel The Bird With The Broken Wing.
Publisher version
I loved this cover from the moment I laid eyes on it. Alas, I did not own the cover and did not get the rights to use it once it was dropped.
Cover design by Eithne Ni Anluain
Author version
I played with a few covers but this is the one that I ended up using for the past year. 
Professional digital artist version
I wanted to recapture the beauty of the publisher version and also to have a stunning cover that people would want to click on or pick up the print copy, and this is the result.
cover design by Ryn Katryn digital art

Now I'll show you the all 3 book covers for my second published novel Feedback.
Publisher version
When this cover was emailed to me, I understood how little an author can have input into a book cover design. It was a nice cover, but it wasn't what I'd been expecting and it didn't represent the story. 
Cover design by Eithne Ni Anluain
Author version
In an attempt to capture what I'd really wanted, it took many mock ups and failures but this is the one that I ended up using for the past year.
Then I decided it needed a change of name because Feedback didn't explain anything about the book, and you had to read the book to get the reference. That's fine if people are buying the book. They weren't. So I changed it to the title I had almost changed it to when it was accepted by the publisher, Resident Spy.
Professional digital artist version
I wanted to capture the image of three teens and the element of the supernatural, along with the change of name, and this is the result.
cover design by Ryn Katryn digital art

Now I'll show you the all 3 book covers for my third published novel Little Red Gem.
Little Red Gem never found a home with a publisher so it was first self-published title. I still didn't have the funds to buy a cover so I created my own.
Author version
This was my first attempt at designing covers.
Then I decided it needed a change of name because Little Red Gem didn't explain anything about the book, and you had to read the book to get the reference. That's fine if people are buying the book. They weren't. So I changed it to the title to One Little Spell
Professional digital artist version
I wanted to capture something that would make people want to pick up the book and just hand over money for it.
cover design by Ryn Katryn digital art
I'll be honest, it cost me $350 (AUD) for all three professionally designed book covers, and while I love them, I still have my fingers crossed that they'll be a worthwhile investment in the long run. The purpose of the book cover is to attract readers to click on the ebook link or to pick up the print copy. Time will tell, but I have faith these new covers will work wonders for me. I'm already seeing results only after a few weeks.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Author spotlight - Rosanne Dingli tells "Why my latest novel is based in Venice"

View from San Giorgio Venice    Pic Credit: Panoramio
Author spotlight - Rosanne Dingli tells "Why my latest novel is based in Venice."

It will come as no surprise to my readers that Venice is once more the location I chose for a new novel. Those who have enjoyed the companion novels According to Luke and The Hidden Auditorium will be pleased to hear a third story featuring my beloved Professor Bryn Awbrey is in the works. And what hard work it’s proving to be! Although I know Venice well, it’s been more than five years since my last visit, so my memory is being tested, and I’m having to look things up.

Venetian chimney pots   Pic credit: Elisa Ruland
But some things are impossible to cancel from the bank of sensations memory piles up and stores for me. The sound of a long low barge laden with fresh vegetables thrumming to the end of a narrow canal, where eager shoppers wait for crisp orange zucchini flowers to deep fry in a golden batter is still in my ears. The fragrance of fat yellow pears lying on scrunched green crepe paper is unforgettable. So is the hoarse cry of the vendor, as he ties up his barge and calls his arrival to all and sundry. The distant peal of bells sounding the Ave Maria carries on Venice’s damp air like something out of a ghost movie, and the swash of bow waves against the ancient side of a wharf can only stay in the mind’s ears if it is witnessed in person.
Narrow lane, Venice Pic credit: Casa Flora

I have smelled the bitter tang of waste when the refuse barge has just been and black plastic bags disappear for the day. I have seen vague wisps of smoke curling around those weird and wonderful chimneypots so unique to this watery city. I have heard the clamour of tourist feet on the crumbling cobbles of a lane so narrow a channel has appeared at chin-height over the centuries, worn by the shoulders of passers-by dating back to the times huge timbers were forced into the mud to form the famous wharves of that city.

Greengrocer's barge Venice  Pic credit: Robert Harding
I have read notices hung around the necks of old ladies who venture out onto the narrow lanes, alleys and underpasses. “Do not ask me for directions!” they read, in four languages or more. The sense of imposition, disturbance, and trespass is made even worse when one realizes permanent residents have few days with no intrusion from tourists.

This lions at Arsenale   Pic credit: Wikimedia
Leaning against one of the ancient lions at Arsenale, touching the small black corner statue at San Marco, raising a hand to shield my eyes to catch the view from the belfry at San Giorgio … I have done all those things, and the memory is lasting, touching, and fitting to include in a novel. My novels are like pilgrimages of sorts. The characters fit into them because they have feelings for the location too. They love or loathe Venice in their own peculiar ways. They spend their days getting lost, being found, catching waterbuses, eating peculiar dishes, winding their ways around famous landmarks on errands and chases and quests. Their role is much more serious – but more entertaining – than Google’s little yellow man who takes people on street views. They smell and see and touch and hear much more, because I’ve been there before them, discovering it all.
I have based my new novel – my eighth – in Venice, because it is a celebration of memory. And of course I hope it will be a bit predictive, and I can plan another journey there to add to my store of memories.


ROSANNE DINGLI is the Western Australian author of seven novels, six story collections, three novellas and a poetry book. She has worked in many publishing roles including EIC and literary editor, and has lectured in English and Creative Writing at ECU. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, journals, supplements and magazines since 1985, and she has won more than 20 accolades for her poetry and fiction. Her books can all be found at