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What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

For me, August is very much a month of talking about writing. Term three ramps up as CBCA Book Week approaches and I have a full dance card of author visits and a festival appearance to finish off.

Of course, what with a podcast and an online writing group, I never really stop talking about writing, so I thought I’d write a little post to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked over the past few weeks.

 

What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

I was recently interviewed by Ky Garvey for the Totally Lit podcast.

In a very chatty interview, I reveal my writing and podcasting secrets, including my tips for productive procrastination, the inspiration for The Wolf’s Howl, how to choose the right idea, the most difficult aspect of writing, and the key to podcasting success.

Ky also asked me what the advice I would give myself if I could go back to the start of my writing career.

My response (spoiler alert) was that I would tell myself to develop patience.

After spending most of my life working to deadlines as a journalist and then a freelance writer, I was all about pushing forward, moving on to the next thing. Hurry up and write.

I quickly learned that book publishing is more a ‘hurry up and wait’ proposition but it has taken me years to work out how to live with that.

To be fair, I did have excellent people around me who tried very hard right back there at the beginning to help me understand. But I think it’s a bit like having kids – you think you know what it’s going to be like and that you’re entirely across the process, and then you bring them home…

Listen to the full interview here. And find more advice for new writers here.

 

Why should I read?

This one came in a quiet moment at the end of a recent school visit, and I don’t mind admitting that it stopped me for a moment.

A year seven student approached me, very earnest, wanting to discuss the fact that she didn’t read much.

“Okay,” I said. “Is there a reason you don’t read? Do you find it boring? Is it difficult? Would you prefer to listen to an audio book or consume stories in a different way?”

“I’d rather watch documentaries on television. Can you tell me why I should read?”

One thousand answers ran through my mind as we shared that moment. “When you read, you have a direct line to the way someone else thinks,” I said, grasping to articulate the joys of reading. “You are given their perspective on the world, their language choices, their experiences, even as they are filtered through the veil of characters and story.”

She didn’t look convinced.

“Words,” I tried again, looking for tangible benefits. “The gift of words directly into your brain. The kinds of words that will help you so much as you work your way up through high school.”

Again, she was doubtful.

“Even graphic novels?” she said. “I’ve read a couple of those, but they’re not real books, are they?”

Relief flooded through me. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, they are. Read those if you like them. Read as many as you can and then ask your school librarian for other books that are similar.”

She smiled. “All right, I’ll give it a go.”

And she walked away, leaving me to pack up my things and hope that I’d said enough that she would give it a go.

Listen to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast to hear teacher-librarian Megan Daley and I discuss questions like this one each week. Find it here.

 

How do I get author photos that I’m happy with?

My monthly Access Al Areas Zoom Q&A with Write With Allison Tait, my online writing group, is such a joyous part of my routine and the perfect excuse to talk about all aspects of writing.

This month, we got into the nitty gritty of author headshots, specifically how to make sure that you’re happy with any you get taken. I had three main tips:

Research the kind of look you’re after.
This will very much depend on what you’re writing and your personal style, but the best way to find out is to visit a whole bunch of author websites and make a list of the images you like. You’ll start to see a pattern – whether you’re drawn to black-and-white moody shots or crazy, zany shots, keep notes and examples so that you can show your photographer.

Get a word-of-mouth recommendation if you can.
The key to a great photo is feeling comfortable with your photographer and getting a recommendation from someone you trust makes the process easier.

Take at least two outfit changes.
Professional photos are an investment, so you’ll want to get a few different options from your shoot. Take at least two outfit changes – even if it’s just a different shirt – unless you want to see yourself in the same blazer over and over for the next few years. And ask your photographer to do a range of images – landscape, portrait, headshot – in each.

If you’d like join WWAT and ask your own burning questions every month (or at any time in the Facebook group for a written response), you’ll find more details here. In coming months, Industry Insider guests include Annabel Barker (literary agent), Kate Forsyth (bestselling author), Anna Spargo-Ryan (award-winning author and memoirist) and Natasha Lester (bestselling author).

What’s next?

And so into the breach of school visits I go. If you’re trying to figure out how to manage the Book Week costume this year, you’ll find a terrific list of ideas from Australian authors here.

For South Coast NSW readers – or those looking for a day trip from Sydney – I’m appearing at the wonderful Bundanon 2022 Writers’ Festival on Saturday 3rd September.

Young writers and illustrators can attend a writing/illustration workshop with me and Dale Newman, and I’ll also be In Conversation with international bestselling author Kate Forsyth. Details and tickets here.

 

A L Tait The Fire Star USAAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

The Maven & Reeve Mysteries: out now in the US!

The Maven & Reeve Mysteries: out now in the US!

Here’s some news I’ve been sitting on for what feels like forever!

The Maven & Reeve Mysteries are out now in the USA through Kane Miller Books.

In equally exciting news, both books have Kirkus reviews!

The Fire Star (book #1) is described as:

“Smart, lively fun…

“Tait lets an appealing chemistry develop between her dual narrators (who change person and even tense in the alternating chapters) as she pitches them into an investigation that is positively hung about with side challenges…” Full review.

While The Wolf’s Howl (book #2) contains:

“More feudal finagling, with feminist strains running through a round of clever clue gathering…” Full review.

Find more details and buy the books here!

 

A L Tait The Fire Star USAAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries, an ‘almost history’ detective series (for more information and buy links for Australian readers click here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

 

 

Inspiration is in the wind: 3 ideas behind The Wolf’s Howl

Inspiration is in the wind: 3 ideas behind The Wolf’s Howl

I’ve done a lot of talking about inspiration since The Wolf’s Howl (Maven & Reeve #2) launched in August.

“Where did the inspiration from?” is one of the most common questions asked in any interview, radio, podcast or print (tip for aspiring and new authors: have an answer ready… more tips here).

But I also talk a lot about inspiration and where ideas come from every single time I do an author talk or school workshop. Endlessly discussing the fact that ideas for stories are everywhere (they are) and that writers are people who’ve trained themselves to see them (they are).

They are in the things we see, the things we feel, the things we hear, the things we say, the things we read… and so on.

Everywhere.

Today I realised that, despite all that talking, I haven’t written about the various things that specifically inspired The Wolf’s Howl here on my blog.

So here they are.

 

Three things that inspired The Wolf’s Howl

The ‘August Winds’

I wrote this novel, about Maven & Reeve’s visit to the bleak, isolated, windswept fief of Glawn in August last year. Where I live, on the south coast of NSW, August is a windy month. Really windy. It blows up in the west, whips through town and makes everyone really, really irritated.

Every time you step outside, you have to confront it.

I started to wonder what it would be like to live in a place where the wind howled like that all the time. What would it do to the people who lived there? How would it affect their manner, their fashion, their hairstyles?

And so Glawn was born.

 

Lockdown 2020

It didn’t really occur to me until I began talking about The Wolf’s Howl in interviews just how much the 2020 lockdowns had imposed themselves upon the book. Not in any obvious ‘plague-story’ way, but in the sense of isolation that permeates Glawn Castle.

The subconscious is a powerful kingdom.

 

A visit to the Netherlands in 2019

Glawn is a sodden, soggy place, dotted with windmills. In 2019, I was lucky enough to visit Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, a small village near Rotterdam featuring a series of 19 historic mills, all of which remain operational and three of which are set up as working ‘museum mills’.

The experience of being inside one of those mills, with the sails thundering around outside, informed several scenes in The Wolf’s Howl.

 

Learning to spot ideas

Of course, there are a whole lot of other things that come into play when you’re creating a world and building a story. Sometimes you can only ‘see’ the inspiration behind a novel once that novel is complete.

But writers are naturally observant people. They take notice – and they take note.

I keep a file on my computer where I dump links to articles and blog posts that interest me. It’s also where I keep snippets about the things I see, hear, think, and feel.

Once an idea crystallises into a character or a setting, I open a new document and write down everything I know about that character or setting. I give it a label. And file it in my Works In Process folder.

There are bits and pieces of stories in that folder that date back years.

If an irritating wind can be useful, then you simply never know what will be useful.

 

Allison Tait podcastAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

News, reviews and interviews: The Wolf’s Howl

News, reviews and interviews: The Wolf’s Howl

THE WOLF’S HOWL (Maven & Reeve #2) has been out for a month and, despite the fact I’ve been unable to leave home, I’m only just catching my breath. The pandemic may have changed the way a book launch has to operate, but it seems it’s no less busy.

So I felt it was time for a little update.

 

Book Week news

I managed to visit four schools and a book club during Book Week 2021. Zoom visits are more intimate than face-to-face author talks in some ways – you certainly get a close-up view of what everyone’s up to in the crowd! I talked about some of my experiences on episode 18 of the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast if you’d like the insider view.

A highlight of Book Week is always the costume parade and given that I was unable to attend any in-person this year, Megan, Allison and I decided to bring the Book Week Parade to us in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group. It was an amazing virtual event with 220+ entries, and allowed us all to put books front and centre – which is what it’s all about. Join us for the next event (not that I even know what that might be yet!)

My favourite costume of the week? How could I go past Megan from Children’s Books Daily all dressed up as Maven?

REVIEWS

“A powerful tale of danger, mystery, loyalty and betrayal… THE WOLF’S HOWL is recommended.”⁠

“I would unquestionably rate this novel 5/5 stars.”

“It’s such an exciting series, and one to follow for sure as each book is released.”⁠

“A series not to be missed by those younger readers who enjoy books involving more substance and thought.”⁠

I’ve been thrilled by the reviews of THE WOLF’S HOWL, and have finally updated that page on my website to showcase some of them. Check it out for the full reviews. 

INTERVIEWS

Huge thanks to Dr Helen Edwards for this interview on her blog. Read it for insights into the inspiration behind The Wolf’s Howl and other fun facts like why I want my boys to learn to make their beds every morning…

For a slightly different take, Val interviewed me for So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, asking me for the secrets of a successful writing career. You can hear my thoughts here.

I’ve got more to share, but I’ll save it for another next exciting instalment!

 

Allison Tait podcastAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

 

THE WOLF’S HOWL (Maven & Reeve #2) out today!

THE WOLF’S HOWL (Maven & Reeve #2) out today!

I’m so thrilled to announce that THE WOLF’S HOWL (A Maven & Reeve Mystery #2) hits bookshops around Australia today.

So thrilled in fact, that I made a little video to celebrate the #dreamvsreality of book release day:

It’s worth a look if you love a feather boa (and my insights into the reality of author life). Follow me on Instagram for more.

 

Live Zoom book launch event for kids

 

To celebrate the launch of the new book, I’m holding a one-hour author talk and book launch for kids on Zoom on 10 August, 2021, at 6pm (AEST). 

I’ll be talking about THE WOLF’S HOWL, but also sharing the secrets of creating brilliant stories, including:

  • where I get my ideas
  • how I breathe life into my characters
  • the most important question I ask myself as I write
  • how I create page-turning plots
  • and much more.

Plus, I’ll be answering lots of questions to help kids to do it, too. There’ll even be prizes!

Tickets are just $25 and include

  • 1 copy of THE WOLF’S HOWL signed by me (including P&H to any Australian address)
  • 1 special signed postcard
  • Zoom link to attend the event (parents and siblings welcome!)

I’d love to see you and your kids there!

You can find all the details and tickets here.

 

Allison Tait podcastAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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