A familiar scent 1



Our writers’ group wrote our responses to this prompt: “There was a familiar scent in the air…”

Always interesting to see individual impressions of a subject.


There was a familiar scent in the air. Annie paused, momentarily struck. It was the soft, sweet scent of freesias, a fragrance of her grandmother’s garden on a warm spring day and not something that she expected to smell in hospital in the depths of winter. She cast a look around the room but there was just one other woman resting opposite her. She was snoring softly and hadn’t woken when Annie had been wheeled into the corner.

Annie leaned forward, thinking that perhaps it was just a floral scent being worn by one of the nursing staff. But there was no-one in sight and all that she could smell now was the brazen note of antiseptic, strong enough to singe nasal hair and cover most of the bodily odours in the ward. She sighed and closed her eyes. It might have been the effect of the medication or a delayed impact of the anaesthetic but as she closed her eyes, suddenly drowsy, she could smell it again.

Annie let her mind wander back to when life was simple and relatively pain-free, when her school holidays were spent at her grandparents’ house and days passed by playing in the wonderland that was their garden.

The freesias were planted in a neat row along the driveway, forming a fragrant guard of honour along the entrance. There were several garden beds at the front and back of the property, and Annie could picture the native trees marching along one fence line, bristling with banksia men and their fierce brown faces. The front garden was encircled by camellias, their blooms both large and small providing a colourful carpet of petals as the seasons changed. A large macadamia tree stood sentry over the driveway, its barbed leaves protecting the tough nuts. Bright bottle brushes and grevilleas tempted the birds, honeyeaters dancing swiftly about when the shrubs were in bloom.

The steep back garden had been terraced in part to grow vegetables. Crisp beans grew against the back fence, sharing a space with colourful sweet peas in spring. Parsley grew in pots, and Annie had loved to pluck and lightly crush the curling herb between her fingers. Large cabbages grew in winter, their dark green and purple leaves encasing the heavy hearts of the vegetables. The cumquat tree had enchanted her; the zesty skin of the carefully harvested small fruit later transformed into jam. A gum tree towered high above the clothes line, a favourite podium for the magpies to sing their beautiful songs.

            Annie walked herself around the garden again, taking slow steps to enjoy the multicoloured freesia blooms, almost too heavy for their stems. She walked over to the camellias, marvelling at the marbling of pinks and whites and reds on the petals, such a contrast to the glossy emerald leaves. She reached out and felt once more the soft and comforting warmth of her grandmother’s hands as the scent of freesias surrounded her.

A familiar scent 2



There was a familiar scent in the air. Those trees, in blossom now, were rare. She had only ever seen them here. Their tight little white flowers appeared once a year, for a short time. She breathed deeply, standing there beside the four-wheel-drive. A peppery scent, it was. With a hint of floral sweetness. She had no idea what a botanist would call them, but she knew them as beloved friends, waiting to greet her at the end of a long day’s drive.

The light would soon be gone, and she had to make camp. But she couldn’t resist wandering over to the grove of trees huddling together near a dry creek bed, breaking off a couple of twigs in blossom, and sticking them in an empty lemonade bottle, and adding a dash of water from her canvas waterbag. She placed the bottle on the bonnet of her car, then set about making camp. Not really much to do. Pitch the small tent and throw her Thermarest and sleeping bag inside. Attach the fridge and stove to gas bottles. Find a flat spot for her table and chair. She could be here for days, so it was worth being comfortable.

Tired now, she leaned against the car, and came away daubed with red dust. The cliff she was here for sat fifty metres away. It took her breath away. Its steep sandstone walls reared up out of the quiet scrub, its veins of claystone just visible now in the late afternoon light, like spidery calligraphy against the stronger reds and yellows. Out of habit she scanned the surface for handholds, footholds, a way up. She had climbed here before, but not for a long time. Not since… well, a long time.

She thought of the ropes and carabiners neatly packed in plastic boxes. She thought of her climbing shoes, and where they had taken her. Up The Breadknife, once. That was hard. But it was good. That was with Ben, when he was still…

She breathed out impatiently and put her camp kettle on the stove to make a cup of tea. She had to get past that.  She would never climb again if she couldn’t get past that terrible, terrible day. Get back on the horse, that’s what people said.

She drank her tea, and found it was dark. The stars blazed overhead in a clear sky. Tomorrow she and that cliff would talk. She didn’t want to think about it now because a twisting pain started up in her belly when she did. But tomorrow. She would climb it tomorrow.

A familiar scent 3



There was a familiar scent in the air…….  and Harry stopped to take it in.  He sniffed, and raised a dampened finger, trying to determine the direction it was coming from.

The soft breeze – just a whisper, really, – was coming from the other side of the narrow street.  Harry wondered if it was coming from the house with the open door.

His morning walk had taken him into an older part of the town, away from the ‘better’ parts – the streets with views, or river frontages.  The houses here were old, narrow, and often unpainted, workmen’s cottages.  They reminded him so much of another city’s poorer quarter, almost 70 years ago.

So did the smell.  It came again, in a complex weave.  He tried to tease apart its components, and, in his mind, was back there, by the kitchen door, watching and hoping for some titbit.  His grandmother, the shortest person in the room, seemed the largest, as she directed the activities of his mother and all his aunts.

The things that came out of that kitchen were marvellous, and the scents drifting past his nose were calling him back there – the roasting meat, the cooking onions, the warm aroma of bread and pastry that had been set out to cool, and, there, he had it at last, the mystery components – pumpkin pie, nutmeg, and cooked apples.

A car stopped in front of the house.  Two adults, uttering warnings about good behaviour, ushered four children from the car towards the house.  There was shouting and laughter as they ran for the front gate.  The last child, a skinny, tousle-haired boy, looked across at Harry, and smiled – and Harry felt young again.

The ocean helps me remember 4


Jane remembers the feel, the physicality of ocean, her own history with it, and its relationship to all of us.

The ocean helps me remember to breathe. That might sound odd, especially if you’ve ever been caught underwater, the astounding pressure of water above, the inconsequential grains of sand below. It is the rhythm of the tide, rolling in, pulling out, relentless and seemingly without end. It reminds me of days spent in blinding sunshine, water eddying and eroding moated castles built with care a distance away from the ocean’s edge, but there’s the trick. There is no singular defined limit of an ocean, no perfectly marked boundary. Just as no breath is quite the same as the next.  

How I love to look at the horizon, that very slight curve far off in the distance that makes me realise the transitory nature of existence, how the ocean goes far beyond what I can see. The sheer scope of it. The hidden depths, the dangers and delights contained within. It reminds me of boat trips, fishing expeditions, even plane trips. How being perched up in a seat, high above the ground with a bird’s eye view didn’t make the ocean less magnificent. If anything it made it more so.

It makes me think of long journeys, centuries ago, across oceans melding into one another, no clearly defined frontiers, just endless blue horizons with occasional interruptions of land. It reminds me of journeys taken by boat, the vague sense of unease as moorings are left behind and we chase the horizon. The relief as land finally comes into view, the toss and tumble of the ocean’s passage soon becomes a memory.




The ocean helps me remember 3


The ocean helps Raewyn remember childhood holidays at the beach.

The ocean helps me remember endless days of childhood freedom.

Long summers at the campground just across the bitumen from the beach. At first in the blue bubble caravan, later in the bigger tan one with the striped annex. Being the eldest I was allowed to sleep out there on the canvas stretcher with the grey steel frame. This was Ohope in the seventies. Not crowded at all, with families of kids from all over who had the similar beach dream. Come evening, the bikes, scooters, and roller skates, and later skateboards, came out to play and the gaggle of all-age kids formed a tribe.

My mother always ensured we had these two weeks at the beach, mostly to get my father off the farm, but for our good as well. They both loved the beach. Dad was a one for body surfing, or blowing up the long blue lilo and thundering in on the huge swells that were common in those summers.

Mum’s joy was endless reading on a low fold-up beach chair in the breeze under the beach umbrella, its white tassels beating a wild, windy dance.

“Make sure you don’t drift, keep in line with the umbrella”, was always the instruction whenever we entered the surf. It was easy to allow the tow to take you sideways as you beat an endless path in and out of the broiling shore-bound waves.

I am grateful to have become a life-long lover of the endless summer beach and the deep, quiet blue ocean. The ocean helps me remember my childhood self.


The ocean helps me remember 2


The narrator in Richard’s piece associates the ocean with quite different memories, and we sense a political context here.

The heat is worse than usual, and the flies are relentless in their search for moisture, swarming at my eyes and nose and mouth.

This track I have chosen goes through the stink of the piles of garbage that have built up over the years, so the flies are inevitable. But that, I hope, makes the path a safe one, and I trudge on, drawn by a distant susurration.

I hear voices ahead – loud, arguing voices – and I slip off the track and crouch in the bushes.  The beer-fuelled argument stutters along the track towards the camp from which I have come, and I am thankful they have found something to argue about.  I glimpse a bottle being waved about, and can see that at least two of the four men have bush knives strapped to their waists.

When they are gone, I resume my trek towards that soft sound. It grows louder as I creep through the last trees and out onto the gritty beach.  There is no one in sight, so I can walk to the edge of the beach and let the tepid salt water surge around my ankles.  While sea-birds wheel and dive beyond the reef, as I stand, searching the blue expanse.

The Ocean helps me remember where I came from, and where I hoped to go, before they put me on this island, in that camp.


The ocean helps me remember…

Recently our writing group considered the thought-starter “The ocean helps me remember.” We decided to blog the interestingly different responses to those five words.

Therese’s response is poetic, philosophical.


They say that life began in the ocean, floating around in the Earth’s own amniotic fluid, so the ocean is where everything came from. We can all trace our ancestry back and back and back through time to some unicellular organism whose whole world was water, that eternal blue, sinking down into the black depths.

Perhaps everything is held there, all of evolutionary history, so I imagine the ocean as a place filled with memories. My own as well. All of the world’s memories mingling with flashing schools of sardines and echoing with whale song.

It is not often that I get to stand by the ocean, living inland as I do, but once or twice a year I hear the call, and I cannot help but respond, as if the whales themselves are summoning me. Their song can travel vast distances underwater; but on land, I think the ears of the heart can hear them just as well, can feel the deep vibrations of their sea voices. They call, and I go, finding some quiet corner of a beach where I can be with myself, and no one else.

The smell of salt water and rotting seaweed, the sound of gulls. It all reminds me of summers past, childhood holidays. Sitting on the beach shivering after taking a dip only to be wrapped in a towel baked warm by the sun. Sand stuck to my shins. Fruity ice blocks and fish and chips.

But these are only skin memories, some moving deeper, into flesh, being powerfully felt in the body; but most light on the surface, shallow. What I want is bone memory, and the ocean gives me that, transferring stories, histories, as if by osmosis. When I wade out into the water, and I feel the pull of the waves around my ankles, the push and suck of the tide, the gentle swish of seaweed against my leg, something deeper comes. Bone memory. Ocean memory. Something so ancient it cannot be put into words.


Self-Publishing: Tools of the Trade

self publish

On Saturday, 21st May, Blue Mountains City Library and Varuna, The Writers House hosted a panel discussion on self-publishing in conjunction with the Sydney Writers’ Festival. The event managed to sell out very quickly which left many interested persons disappointed and without a ticket.

The panel discussion turned out to be hugely successful with many enthusiastic, question-loaded participants and lots of answers on anything and everything to do with the self-publishing world. It was information we deemed so valuable that we have decided to upload a detailed synopsis of the program here on the blog. So grab a cuppa and a pen, and settle in, here’s what happened on Saturday.

The panellists:


Link to larger version of image: Profiles


The panel started at 10am and went for 3 hours. It was split up into two sessions: Discussion 1: Editing, Submission and Publishing, and Discussion 2: Sales, Marketing and Promotion. Each discussion was hosted by a panel of writing and publishing professionals.


Panel One: Editing, Submission and Publishing



Carla: Is a writer and a teacher for the Mountains of Stories workshops that the Blue Mountains Library is hosting. She is fond of Kindle Direct publishing and thoroughly enjoys self-publishing.

Kit: Started out as an editor in traditional publishing. She noticed that the industry was changing and became less geared to publishing books and more into the business side of things. Editors in traditional publishing houses these days work less for the editor and more for the publisher. She found she was disappointed in having to turn away great works just because there wasn’t a market for it at the time. Now she works for the author, and is passionate about making sure authors’ books are the best they can be. She works with both traditional published and self-published writers.

Jody: Worked in editing with traditional publishing which was very exciting until the market changed. She experienced the same disappointment as Kit when publishers geared more toward business. She is now an editor for self-published authors. Her advice: “Storytelling is key in publishing!”

Jenny: Went right into the self-publishing industry. She helps writers on their journey to self-publish. She notes self-publishing is much more acceptable today than it ever has been in the past. There are so many outlets to publish ranging from print runs to print on demand to eBooks and Kindle publishing. The world is moving toward self-publishing.


Question 1: What is editing and why is it important?

Kit: People tend not to understand the editing process which is a shame because it’s so important. There are different types of editing:

Appraisals- a general overview or appraisal of your manuscript.

Copy Editing- ensuring content is accurate. Flows. Free of errors etc.

Structural Editing- checking the content, plot, flow, themes etc.

Proof Editing – making sure everything is ready for publication.

It’s hard for an author to know what’s working and what isn’t in their manuscript. Having it looked over by an editor is essential in picking up on everything you didn’t. Your first port of call should be having an appraisal done. It’s a necessary step in getting your work ready for the world.

Jody: Editors help create the relationship between writer and reader. An unedited book is like a table with a wobbly leg, it’s irritating! Faults in a book lose the reader. Think of the reader! Editors can be brutal but they know how to connect your book with your audience. You owe it to yourself.

Carla: “To have an editor look at my work is so useful. It’s great to have another eye.”

Jenny: Editors make you push your boundaries. They help you to be a better writer.


Question 2: What do authors want out of their writing/publishing process?

Jody: As an editor you end up in the writer’s head . Your job is to say things that are and aren’t working (for your book). You’re also acting as the reader and asking questions about the book that the reader would ask.

Kit: A good editor is both your friend and your foe. Editors help the writer through the process and make them comfortable. But they also say when things aren’t working.

Carla: “I love writing. And I love getting word back from the editor.” When you do get word back, and it won’t always be what you want to hear, be sure to go away and think on it first before confronting the editor. See the changes they suggest as a game or a challenge.

Jenny: Constructive criticism is heart breaking so (most) editors try to be gentle. As a self-published author, you can actually reject the editor’s suggestions, which is a luxury that traditional publishing houses don’t normally offer. If that’s the case, get a second opinion.

Jody: Editors are facilitators of your work. The key is having a positive working relationship with them. They work to get the author’s point across as clearly as possible.

Kit: Your editor needs to be someone you’re comfortable to work with. You are entrusting them with your baby.


Question 3: How do you provide information and advice on publishing?

Kit: Most want to go down the traditional route and that’s fine. Part of establishing that professional relationship with the author is seeing what path they want to go down and helping them reach that goal.

Self-publishing is not a lesser goal. Publishing houses want things to fit to a mould. Self-publishing is freer and more open. The possibilities are endless, but you also have to build up your audience.

Carla: If you want to publish independently, Google (research) it and see what other writers are doing in your chosen genre.

Jody: As a self-published author, you need to build your social media network. You have to be on places like facebook, Instagram, blog websites, etc. Be aware of where you’re pitching your market. You become the publisher. You’re responsible.

Jenny: Not everyone wants to sell their book. Some just want to publish to tick something off their bucket list or share their work just with family and friends. This includes family history and autobiographies.

All books published with an ISBN go into the National Library so they can be found and read by people in the future. Your book could become a valuable literary asset one day.


Question 4: How does the National Library get my book?

Jenny: By law you must send them a copy if your book is published with an ISBN. Generally you send them a copy of your book along with a cover letter.

If you don’t have a print edition of your book, then they want the eBook. If you have both then they prefer the print edition.

Jody: It’s also a great idea to register your book with TROVE. It’s an Australia-wide online database of books catalogued in libraries.



Q: What’s the difference between working with a fiction author and a non-fiction author?

A: The story arc is key whether your work is fiction or non-fiction. It needs to be readable to your audience. Think of your reader market. Editors adapt to whatever the author is writing. Another key component is physical layout and design. Whether is made for print or eBook.

Q: How important are face-to-face meetings between editor and author?

A: Depends on the author. Some like face-to-face and others prefer email only. It’s nice to meet the author but not necessary. That being said, doing a ‘cold read’ by not actually knowing the author prevents bias. You tend to not see what’s missing in the manuscript if you already know the author.


Final Comments

Carla: You can put ANYTHING on Kindle and sell it for however much you want. You are welcome to get in touch with me if you need help with that.



Kit: We do a lot of editing and author support.

The Manuscript Agency.

0422 783 313




Jenny: I help people self-publish through IndieMosh.

1300 644 380




The Blue Mountains Library is a supporter of aspiring writers by providing writing workshops and our own ‘editor in residence’ program. Visit the library website or your local branch for more information.



Panel Two: Sales, Marketing and Promotion



David: Delved into the purpose of this panel this which was centred on two assumptions.

  1. You’re here because you want to be in the business (of writing).
  2. Your book has been edited/designed and is print ready.

It all costs money! So how much will you commit? Can you (or do you desire to learn to) pull this off?

He then turned to the remainder of the panel to gather their introductions.

Gabriel: Has self-published several books but knows this industry is not for everybody. Though it does open the writer up to unprecedented possibilities. It’s very rewarding and it is possible to be successful.

Sarah:  Also goes by the author name S.L. Mills. She is a self-published author who feels self-publishing is a fantastic journey and a marvellous industry!

Amanda: Started out writing just because she could and she enjoyed it. After several unsuccessful attempts to break into traditional publishing (though she received some invaluable feedback), decided to delve into publishing eBooks. After that she was also able to publish with a traditional publishing house. She feels the advantages of self-publishing are the fact that you have complete control over your work. The advantage of traditional publishing is that you have access to resources you normally wouldn’t as a self-published writer.

Steven: Published both traditionally and self-published. He makes a living from his writing and selling his self-published books on Amazon.com. He has found it to actually be a better seller than he thought it would be.


Question 1: Why did you go with self-publishing? What’s the big buzz about it?

Sarah: “I have the patience of a gnat and I’m fiercely independent,” laughed Sarah. She started out on the traditional publishing route by sending her work to an agent and when she was rejected (after waiting a long time to hear back from them) she decided this was taking too long, she would be old by the time she got anywhere. And she didn’t like the idea of having to plead with them (agents and publishers) to get her book published. So drawing on her experience in journalism and decades of marketing experience, she set off on her self-publishing journey. And she had the sufficient funds to back her (which is incredibly important because it’s an expensive endeavour. Sarah reports to have spent around $15,000 on getting published as she opted for a print run).

Gabriel: It was always Gabriel’s dream to be read by as many people as he could. That was his motivation to write. He also brought out a valuable point that when someone reads your book they are, in effect, giving you their most valuable resource. They are giving you their time.

Self-publishing is liberating and brings with it incredible potential. You are in control and you stay in control. Also keeping in mind, you stand or fall, are either praised or condemned by your readers by the quality of your book. He couldn’t emphasise this enough. Success rests on quality and finding that niche in the market.

Amanda: Writing for her started out as a hobby, but she then figured, “Why leave it on your hard drive when you can get feedback for your work?” The process of self-publishing takes you to a whole new level of “Oh my god! I have to make this readable!”

Goodreads is a great platform to get your work read and reviewed, as well as a great platform to reach out to and connect with your audience.

Steven: Wanted to change genres but didn’t believe traditional publishing would be keen on the idea as it was completely different to what he normally wrote. He also expressed that he was curious to explore the Amazon.com market.


Question 2: How far ahead (of launching your book) do you have to start the marketing process to be launch ready?

Gabriel: “If no one knows it exists then no one will read it.” With self-publishing you don’t have the luxury of relying on a publishing house to market you. You are on your own. It takes about 6-8 months at least to prepare for the launch.

Your tools? Social Media! Best sellers are made possible through marketing on social media and social media marketing strategies.

Personal appearances are important. Get out there and meet potential readers.

Amanda: Putting it out and seeing what happens is sometimes successful. Most times it just doesn’t (happen). Start with the title. Make sure it’s unique and searchable on Google. You need to be findable! If you don’t have a unique name then make yourself a unique writer’s alias.

Steven: “My author name (and the fact that I had been traditionally published before) didn’t help at all.” (Writing different genres will do that). Make sure you have a REALLY GOOD blurb with Amazon. Make sure the first 20% of your book is also REALLY GOOD as it is downloadable for free on Amazon. Amazon does the rest of the work in the ranking system.

Sarah: Get your book launch ready. Book the venue 3 months in advance. Organise marketing collateral, business cards, banners and of course a great cover for your book. A great cover is important! Join organisations and make reviews on Goodreads.com. Expect a 6 month to a year timeframe to do all of this in.


Question 3: So you’re launch ready. How are you going to sell your books?

Steven: Amazon currently holds 74% of the eBook market. They’re the biggest. They even provide a lending service (in some countries) where they ‘loan’ your book out to readers and you still receive a royalty for every loan. Amazon does the selling for you.

Sarah: “I’ll sell anywhere I can, as long as it’s legal and appropriate!”

+Book stores.

+Popup events like at supermarkets.

+My website.

+Other websites such as booktopia.

+Schools (as it is a childrens/teen book).


+Holding writer and publishing workshops.

+Conventions like Supernova/Comic Con/Ironfest.

+Rotary and Linked in.


+Fairs and stalls.


David’s response: “This is the business of being an author!”

Amanda: Went the least effort route. She published with Kindle. Though even that was still a lot of work. Word of mouth. Get it into book shops – which is difficult so take the time to get to know the owners. Have a business card ready to give to people who you mention your book to. And make sure you have your website ready.

Gabriel: You must have a KILLER website! It’s your window into the cyber world. Make sure your social media presence funnels traffic to your website. This is the gateway to people learning about you (the author), your work and where to purchase it. Your website is your centrepiece.

Also making appearances is important. Meet new potential readers. Being in a book club or two (or more) is great.


Question 4: So you’ve launched. You’ve generated sales. How do you keep it going?

Steven: “Amazon’s rankings did it all for me.” Be active on social media and get involved in groups that are associated with the genre of your book. It is (hopefully) your interest after all. Make it (the subject you’re writing about) your life.

With traditional publishing you sell a lot on the onset and then it fizzles. Self-publishing takes time to build up sales but then it takes off.

Writing multiple books is great for keeping sales going because if people like you, they will search for more by you. Series’ are popular nowadays.

Keep writing books!

Amanda: Agreed. Write another book. Make writing a top priority in your daily time allocation.

Gabriel: Agree. “Strive for excellence. Keep writing. The rest will come.”

Sarah: Agree. Good products sell for years. Also people like novelty. Build your brand and make sure you keep yourself in the spotlight and at the forefront of people’s minds. Be a regular at events and get inventive. As hers was a fantasy book, Sarah took the initiative to have trading cards made up. Set yourself up to have repeat business ie, readers want to buy your books for friends and family as presents etc.


Audience Q&A

Q: Is it possible to self-publish a school text book? How would I go about doing that?

A: It’s not impossible if you can devote resources to the market and distribute. Speak to distributors who distribute to schools like Scholastic.

Q: How do I navigate the legal minefields in self-publishing?

A: You are on your own when it comes to the legal side of self-publishing. A proper disclaimer in your book is always useful. As is taking out public appearances insurance for when you make appearances. And remember if you want to quote songs or other sources you need permission and it can get expensive on royalties etc.

Q: How do you improve your rank on Amazon?

A: Some people like to cheat. They will get their friends and family to give them 5 star ratings and great reviews. On a side note, if you get a bad review, you can get it bumped off the top of the list by getting a friend or family member to provide or ‘like’ a good review.

Q: How do you get a good review the honest way?

A: Give away your book to people (who will review it) for free or get onto review websites who will review it for you. Writers and reader groups such as the Australian Women Writers. If you get a bad review, DON’T ANSWER IT. Just let it be. It’s more professional and dignified that way.


Final thoughts.

Think ROI. “Return on investment!” Invest time, money and emotion. And you will be successful!

Gabriel: Has published a guide on self-publishing called ‘Going it Alone; a case study. A personal guide to self-publishing.’ It can be found on his website:



Steven: Can be found on his website:



Amanda: Can be found on her website:



Sarah: Can be found on her facebook page:




Steven’s top tips for self-publishing

  1. Choose a genre that suits your knowledge and abilities. RESEARCH ebooks in your genre – what works and what doesn’t.
  2. If you have time to write 60,000 words, time to learn the process of self-publishing. You don’t need ‘experts’ – just patience and application.
  3. Download FREE ‘Building your book for Kindle’- Amazon leads you step-by-step.
  4. Visit Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog – it has everything you need on self-publishing.
  5. Use an online photo editor to design your cover- iPiccy or Picmonkey. Make sure you have a thumbnail!
  6. Design your manuscript like a real book – title page, copyright page, ‘about the author’, TOC, dedication. The more it looks professional the better.
  7. Manuscript ready? Nope! Loading it on Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon will highlight spelling errors and typos for free! Not grammar though. Now go back and fix each one.
  8. Now go to CreateSpace and load your manuscript. Get a paperback proof copy posted to you so that you can re-edit!
  9. Publish on Kindle and CreateSpace. Join Kindle Unlimited.
  10. Amazon Author Central.
  11. Reviews – get as many as possible from friends and family.
  12. Be active on social media, NOT just to sell your books but also contribute to the issue/subject that you are writing about.
  13. The answer is on Google. Just work on the correct questions.
  14. Self-publishing takes time to build up sales but then it takes off.
  15. Evaluate your progress after 3, 6, 12… months. List your successes and failures. Don’t repeat your mistakes, repeat your successes!



Author in Focus – Julian Leatherdale

Saturday 24th October, 2.00 to 4.00pm at Katoomba Library

Palace of Tears Cover croppedCatch a glimpse inside the writing and storylines of Julian Leatherdale’s intriguing and acclaimed new novel, Palace of Tears, set in the Blue Mountains’ famous Hydro Majestic Hotel. This is an author talk featuring a historic photo display and will be followed by afternoon tea.

pf 830 pc edThis historic photo from the BMCLibrary’s image collection pictures Mark Foy, founder of the Hydro Majestic hotel, standing center back, wearing his wife’s hat and dress with wig. Fancy dress parties were all the rage in the Hydro’s heyday. Palace of Tears fictionalises Mark Foy as hotelier Adam Fox and the Hydro as the Palace at Meadow Springs, and weaves them into a dazzling story of family, passion, secrets and vengeance, woven through the hardships of both World Wars.

Find out more about the book and see our historic photos. Tickets $10 available in person from Megalong Bookshop or Katoomba Library. Or call 4784 1302 to book and 4780 5750 for information. Limited spaces available.

Mountains of Stories: Creative Writing Workshops at Blue Mountains Libraries

MOS Poster2


The Library is very pleased to announce a brand new series of all-day workshops facilitated by professional writers and designed to help aspiring writers with the creative writing process.

We have four sessions (dates below) at both Katoomba and Springwood Libraries with two separate workshops offering different approaches to the writing process – those who are really keen would certainly benefit from giving both workshops a try as they are guaranteed to learn different tips, tricks and techniques from each session.

Carla Billinghurst and Cymbeline Buhler whose comprehensive expertise ranges from theatre, to poetry and narrative, will offer a hands-on experience entitled A Big Stone Rolls Inside – Let Your Pen Lead You into Temptation. This workshop is designed to encourage story creating and the generation of narrative directions through engagement with exciting ideas that can be grabbed and written down as they emerge. It will have a more theatrical element including some participation activities. These workshops will be offered to larger groups – up to 20 people.

Ingle Knight will lead a workshop entitled Telling Stories: A One Day Workshop for Narrative Fiction Writers. His lengthy and prestigious experience has been in theatre, narrative fiction and script writing. He has worked as a professional actor and been a lecturer and tutor in scriptwriting, creative writing, drama studies and film studies with numerous universities and colleges. In 2010 he was Visiting Scholar at John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. These workshops are smaller and only open to 10 people.

Places in all workshops are limited and bookings for all are open now, so get in early to book your space. Ages 16+. Cost is $25 including light refreshments. All sessions on Saturdays, 10am to 3pm. Book through any library branch or call 4780 5750 for more information.



1 August, Carla and Cymbeline at Katoomba Library

29 August, Ingle Knight at Katoomba Library

19 September, Carla and Cymbeline at Springwood Library

17 October, Ingle Knight at Springwood Library