Monday, 16 May 2022

Introducing The 2022 Omega Writers Conference, and The Hub

Omega Writers is delighted to announce that bookings for the 2022 Omega Writers Conference are now open. The conference will take place at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Bells Boulevard, Kingscliff, New South Wales from 7 to 9 October 2022.  

Peppers Kingscliff Resort

Whether you are brand new Christian writer or an established author, a non-fiction writer or a creator of kids’ lit, the 2022 Omega Writers Conference is for you. This year’s line-up of speakers has been deliberately curated to encourage, resource and inspire you on your writing journey. With ample opportunities to network with other likeminded and supportive writers, you will leave with new ideas, new connections, and a renewed excitement for your writing project.

This is a not-to-miss conference for Christian writers!

The keynote speaker will be Steven James, author of Synapse and several books for writers. Others speakers include:
  • Collett Smart will present a plenary session on Self-Compassion, Resilience, and Well-being for Writers, as well as a practical non-fiction workshop.
  • Lystra Rose, winner of the Black&Write Writing Fellowship will present on The unspoken rules of Indigenous protocols every writer should know.
  • Hands-On Workshop Streams for Writers of Fiction and Non-Fiction
  • A Marketing Intensive with Lisa Renee
  • Tips and Advice on writing for the US Market
  • Writing for Children and YA
Click here to find out more, and book before 18 June to save $50.

We will also be offering participants the opportunity to book an appointment in The Hub.

What is The Hub?

The Hub is an opportunity for conference delegates to book appointments with agents, publishers, editors and industry experts to discuss their work in progress, or to pitch a manuscript ready for submission. Writers will gather valuable feedback, suggestions and guidance, as well as increase their understanding of the publishing process. This year, the Hub will include Zoom appointments for the first time. This will give delegates the opportunity to meet with agents and editors from the UK and USA, as well as around Australia.

Appointments are on a first-in, first-served basis and can be made on registration, and are $70 each, or $50 for Omega members.

If you’ve already booked to go to conference, you can book Hub appointments separately. The Omega discount code will be in the same email as your conference discount code. Alternatively, log in to the members section of the website to find the discount code.

Why Should I Book a Hub Appointment?

If you’re newer to the writing world, then an appointment with a Hub professional will give you valuable advice and tips on how to improve your writing. This can save you literally years of editing and revision, because they will give you advice based on current market trends and practices.

Should you meet with an agent, publisher, freelance editor, or publishing professional?

That will depend on what you want to get out of the appointment:

If you want to pitch a specific project, I suggest booking an appointment with an agent or publisher. If you want to be published with a major Christian publisher like Bethany House, book a meeting with one of the literary agents. If you’re looking for a smaller publisher, you could meet Donna Harris (UK), Rochelle Stephens (Australia) and Rowena Beresford (Australia). If you want general information on traditional vs. self-publishing, book an appointment with me or with an author like Meredith Resce or Lisa Renee who has self-published and worked with a small traditional publisher. If you want advice about your writing, marketing, or general publishing advice, then book an appointment with an editor or author offering that kind of advice. Click here to find the professionals you can meeting The Hub, and what they each offer. 

How do I Prepare for a Hub Appointment?

Some professionals will give you the opportunity to submit material ahead of time, so they can review your manuscript and consider their response. This could be a synopsis, your first few pages or chapters, or a one-sheet. Click here for tips on how to write a synopsis.  Click here for how to write a one-sheet. 

If the professional doesn’t require material ahead of time, then how you prepare will depend on the kind of information you’re seeking:

If you want editorial feedback on your writing, come prepared with a printed sample of your writing e.g. a one-page synopsis and your first chapter or two (I suggest one copy for each appointment, and at least one spare copy). If you want to pitch your manuscript to an agent or publisher, prepare your verbal elevator pitch (one to two sentences that give your hook and describe your manuscript). Again, take a paper synopsis and sample chapter for a novel or nonfiction work, or the full manuscript for a picture book. If you want marketing advice, do some advance research and consider exactly what you want to know. Then book an appointment with the expert who will be able to answer those questions. For example:
  • I (Iola Goulton) can give you good advice on how to set up an author platform as an unpublished author.
  • Cecily Paterson has some great tips on copywriting and blogging.
  • Lisa Renee is the excerpt on author newsletters, paid advertising, and book launch strategies.
Our Hub participants are all professionals with years of experience, and we’d all love to share that experience with you. To get the most out of your Hub appointment, know what you want to find out, and ask as many questions as you want. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Leave a comment if you have any questions, and we’ll find the expert to answer you.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

CWD Member Interview – Claire Bell


Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Todays interview: Claire Bell

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

1. I grew up in the Adelaide Hills but, like previous generations on both sides of my family, I was born in a different country (in my case, the UK).

2. I aim to live a ‘slow life’ – time to reflect, to live in the present, and to enjoy the extraordinary ordinary gifts of life. 

3. I’m hopeless at genres – identifying them and writing them. Which is ironic, as I once worked as an occupational taxonomist (i.e. assigning categories to the world of paid work).

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I have never been able to settle to one form of writing. I have so far published a YA novel (Evernow, published in March 2022) and a crossover novel (post-secondary teens). I made up a term to describe the genre: speculative realism, meaning that it’s realism with a twist in time or space.

I also write poetry, and occasionally short fiction, creative non-fiction, and devotional articles.

I write to work out what’s going on in my head and heart, and to try to integrate it with what’s going on in the world around me.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

I was thrilled when a friend bought a copy of my first novel, read it on his way to Manus Island, and gave it to a refugee friend there. My second novel is also currently being read by a refugee friend who is settling into Canada after 8 years of detention in Australia. He quoted a favourite line to me recently and that made me think more about those words than all my editing had.

When writing cover letters to publishers who want to know whose my work is similar to, I struggle. Not working in recognised genres leaves my work out in left field! But I think it’s a bit like Brian Caswell’s early writing (Australian YA author of Meryll of the Stones and other great books) and I would love him to read it – and see if he can recognise any similarity.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I worked hard to develop a writing practice, and succeeded for a few years after completing a masters degree in creative writing. But I’ve lost that habit now, and my writing tends to be just one of many activities I attempt to weave into my eclectic days. 

Having a deadline helps me to prioritise writing. After a few challenging years with ageing parents and health issues, my recent novel was only completed because Mark Worthing of Stone Table Books pressed me to have it ready for publication. Competitions, anthology and writing journal deadlines help to keep me writing with purpose.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 

I read craft books when I have a writing problem. The one that most recently helped with plotting and pacing was Dara Marks’ Inside Story: the power of the transformational arc. It’s a screenwriting guide but I think the directness of film shifted me from being overly focused on the characters’ inner lives to create more outward action.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Rosanne Hawke has been more influential in my writing journey than she realises. Not only her fabulous teaching, her highly enjoyable stories and her belief in me as a writer; Rosanne’s diligent writing practice has been an example and a goad. She’s like the Duracell bunny – she just keeps writing, keeps sharing her stories and herself with young readers, and keeps working to improve her skills. She’s my writing hero.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?

My goal this year is to gather stories from my relatives about my larger-than-life grandmother, Mirabel Cobbold. It’s a labour of love as I don’t expect it to be published beyond family copies. But her story needs to be preserved for future generations as she shaped much of our family identity, which is shared across four continents.

How to gather those stories is a challenge. Given that almost all my relatives are not in Australia and I’m not able to travel to them any time soon, I’m trying to work out how to have the non-writers share their memories of Grannybelle. I’m thinking of creating an informal set of questions that might prompt anecdotes, and maybe try different media so those who want to talk rather than write can do so. I’m open to suggestions on how this might be achieved…

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

To be honest, I’m not really sure how it does. I assume that the way I relate to Jesus and feed myself spiritually becomes evident in every aspect of my life.  I write largely for the mainstream – that is, I don’t often write about faith or God – so I trust that as my values and thinking are being shaped by God, it shows. Occasionally someone says something to make me think that’s happening.

I put time into writing and seeking to publish because I think God has a reason for making me passionate about the written word. I see my role as pre-evangelistic: using story to help readers envisage love, integrity, hope and the spiritual side of human existence. That’s why I write speculative realism. 

Claire Bell writes as Claire Belberg for her mainstream works of fiction and poetry. She is the author of two speculative realism novels for young adults (Evernow) and older teens (The Golden Hour). She has had shorter work published in inScribe journal, inDaily (Adelaide’s independent digital news service), and various anthologies. Claire lives in the Adelaide Hills where the abundance of native birds is a constant delight. She blogs occasionally at The Character Forge

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Motivation and priority

Forget vicious circles. I like to think of life as a triangle. A triangle has three points and three sides, right? Well, there is the physical, the mind life (or mental) and the spiritual. And it is good to exercise these to keep them strong and connected. After all, a triangle with a collapsed side is no longer a shape.

Photo by: sebastiaan-stam-IkzP__YsL6s-unsplash

I like to keep in shape. I walk and swim to keep the physical side going well—and, of course, drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. Just don’t ask me how I’m going on the diet thing! 

Next comes the mental. I’ve a desk job that allows me to contribute to the family of five’s budget (Sue and I plus three pets: Nikita, Amber, and Joey). We all have wills. It takes energy to know what to allow and what to crack down on. 

And then there’s the spiritual. I’m not just talking about God life, but the things that God uses in us to make life worthwhile for others, like creativity. God created, so it’s natural as his progeny that we create. Whether that comes out in the arts and writing, in innovation, in thoughtful acts of kindness or as a word in season to break up a disagreement or to bring hope—the ultimate source of that is spiritual. 

And when I was younger, I had shiploads of energy. As a single man living in the Canberra region, I ran, walked, rode a bike, and swam for exercise and relaxation, I played keyboards in two secular bands (one rock, the other hip hop/ experimental) as well as being part of the worship team at church, playing fortnightly. I was also on several committees. I found time to be involved in community campaigns, do advocacy, support a candidate in a state election. I published a magazine for my employer where I worked full time and collaborated to bring innovative speakers to my workplace. Oh yeah, and I still found odd bits of time to write my stuff. 

Sure, some things suffered in the process—I should have spent more time on some relationships—but that’s all part of maturing. 

Ah, yeah, maturing. There’s a good and bad part of that. The good looks at what is important to others; at what is worthwhile to build into. I drop or attenuate other things. Some of those things I am sorry to let go, because they brought me and other people pleasure.

But the other is motivation, not just giving permission to yourself, but giving it the time and energy. There is no longer time and energy for everything. If I try something new, something else may need to go. If it goes, I need to look at what that means for others. Aging speaks, as do priorities. Energy is not where it was in my twenties and thirties. There are weeks where I get through the have-tos for the day and there’s no time left for me. So, I stagger through to the weekend only to be reminded of things I agreed to and forgot about. They especially raise their ugly heads just when I think I have the time and energy to spend on something requiring quality time and thought.

Photo by: brett-jordan-UQ7Vf_rmEFc-unsplash

I’ve chosen to blog today about motivation. I no longer have the energy or time to do everything without suffering serious burn out. And most of the things I must do are not innately enjoyable, so do not refresh me. 

Motivation’s close brother is priority. Priority is so often driven by others. ‘On 

some fixed date, you said you would do such-and-such by a set time.’ So, you do it, because you said you would; and you don’t want to damage the relationship with the person you agreed with. But, meanwhile, you delay again the things that you permitted yourself to do.

But you can raise their priority. You have the access.

‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,’ says the writer (ascribed to King Solomon: Proverbs 13:12). So, remember, no matter how busy life gets; no matter how many other things become your priority (rightly or wrongly); if you decide to write, then writing is a priority for you. As it is a priority, you are both permitted and need to give it time.

There is your motivation.

So, go write!

Your thoughts?

Marc Jeffrey is an Adelaide-based author and poet who loves to craft words in times when his beautiful wife and lively dog (Shih tzu cross Chihuahua) are asleep. He writes of hope and justice, depositing his characters in the nexus between the ‘what is’ and the ‘what if’ – while wondering if he can leave the house without waking anyone up. 

He is long-time member of the ‘Literati’ writing group, that grew out of the Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing program. When he’s not writing, Marc listens to his favourite music, which ranges from Cold Chisel to Claude Debussy

Monday, 2 May 2022

Putting ourselves out there


I well remember how I felt when I saw the cover of my first novel Heléna for the first time, way back in 2007, in the middle of cooking dinner. What a moment! I tried to take in all I saw in that email attachment—the artwork the publisher had chosen, the layout, the back cover blurb, even the spine. But what caught my eye above all else was my own name in large, capital letters across the top of the front cover. Even now, fifteen years later, I still remember the shock I felt at seeing it there and the question I almost blurted out loud.

‘What have I done?’

Of course, I had known my name would be there on that cover. But in that moment, the sheer vulnerability of having a book published finally dawned on me. So many questions tumbled through my mind, one after another. Would anyone want to read this novel I had so loved writing? Would they be able to relate to the storyline? Would they like or hate my characters?

Was it… was it too late to change my mind about the whole idea?

It definitely was, I knew that. Now, eight books later, I am so glad I didn’t. Yet with each new book I launch, I still experience that feeling of deep vulnerability and reluctance to reveal my work in public. And that is why I particularly appreciated the email I recently received from a youngish male friend who had read my latest novel Down by the Water, released in January last year. He had bothered to write a lovely review of it on Goodreads and, because I knew him, I wrote to thank him. Here is part of his response:

It occurs to me that authors like you show great vulnerability to offer your work to the general public where anyone can say whatever they like in a public forum like Goodreads. So, I honour the risk you take in publishing your work, and not just your ‘work’ but your treasured baby that you have poured yourself into for months and even years. I try to honour that risk in my reviews…. I hope you find publishing is worth that risk—because, if you didn’t publish, so many of us would miss out on enjoying your gift.

I share these gentle, thoughtful words of his here to encourage us all that there are those out there who appreciate the risk we take in being published and cheer us on. From my own experience too, I would say that walking this vulnerable path is so worth it. If God has given us stories to share, we need to work hard to refine them, then put them out there. There will be those who criticise and point out flaws in our writing, some of which may well be justified. This is, after all, how we learn. But even if that criticism is unfair, does it really matter? After all, as Christians, we follow the one who made himself so vulnerable, walked the humble road and endured so much for our sakes. So, let’s all take courage, keep writing and keep putting ourselves out there!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Jo-Anne Berthelsen
lives in Sydney and is the author of seven published novels and two non-fiction works, Soul Friend and Becoming Me. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked in teaching, editing and local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves encouraging others through both the written and spoken word and is a keen blogger.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Highlighting Social Media for Authors

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one listening, does it still make a sound?" 

The answer to this question depends on your world view, the intricacies of which I leave for another time and another place. But maybe it raises another question.

"If an author writes a book and no one reads it, does have purpose?"

This one is is easier to answer.  Yes, because after all, the writer is the very first reader of a work. Besides, writing in and of itself has benefits. Writing, maybe especially writing stories, helps us process thoughts and feelings, can give release, help us move past blockages or provide escape from grim reality. Writing, in and of itself, can be therapeutic. 

But, on another simpler level, if and when we seek to publish our stories, it's because we want someone to read them.  (Even if we are pursuing fame and/or fortune, we will need readers.) 

And, from my experience, while writing a novel or short story or memoir has it's challenges, getting the book published has perhaps greater challenges, but the biggest challenge of all is connecting with readers. 

So how do we find readers, or probably more to the point, how do readers discover our books?

While I don't claim to have solved this conundrum, we can explore the possibilities. 

Already Established Platform

Being already famous or well-known in another sphere, gives a leg-up on the visibility of your books. People buy books by household names because they know them and are curious. This is of particular advantage to those writing non-fiction but can also be useful for fiction. 

In addition, someone who is in demand as a speaker is already connecting with people who may be interested in their books. 

But that's not most of us. 

Friends and Family

Our friends and family often want to see us succeed and may read our books because, well, they love us.  Not that is is always the case. I can probably number on one hand my friends and family who are enthusiastic fans of my books. Most aren't that interested and certainly haven't read anything I written. In fact, apart from a few wonderful exceptions like my sister, it's my more distant relatives that have shown enthusiasm. 

Another reason for not relying too heavily on close circles - your early fans can determine how your book is ranked on sites like Amazon. As a result, it's better to aim at the readers  of your genre and audience. Plus, at some point, you probably want to reach beyond the people you know and launch your book out into the wide, wild world of readers. 

Launches, Book Signings and Conventions

Face to face encounters provide another way to connect with readers. As part of Rendered Realms, Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones and I have attended Sci-Fiction and Fantasy conventions like OzComicCon and Supanova as a way of connection with people who love the genre we write and, a good proportion of them, who love to read. 

Arranging book-signings or having a stall at the markets or book fair or organising school visits etc are all ways of connecting face-to-face with potential readers.  This has a great impact, but is also limited by space and time. 

Social Media

Social Media also provides a way for connecting with readers. It can be targeted a specific audience and has, at least in theory, the potential to go viral. 

The sites

Social Media includes a huge number of options to pursue.

Facebook - the biggest at 2.89 billion monthly active users and it's also versatile - it's great for interest groups of people (like Christian Writers Downunder) and showcasing your creativity and work on an author's page. Facebook can also be a platform for advertising books.

Instagram - popular with young people and visual artists, if focuses on cool images and is  a popular among many readers, book bloggers and authors. Hashtags work well here. 

Twitter - with posts (or tweets) limited to 280 characters, it's a great way to learn to say more with few words and also has both an active author and active reader communities. 

Goodreads - primarily a review site, it also has listopia (lists of books on a particular subject or genre), reading challenge and a multitude of book and writing groups. Even if you don't plan to frequent it, it's probably a good idea to claim your profile to make sure your books are linked as you would like them.

Bookbub - similar to Goodreads, Bookbub has book profiles and author profiles and sends out newsletters to members of books specials and free books. It can be a great paid promotional site for authors. Once again, maybe claim your author profile on this site. 

You-tube - for presenting audio-visual content - such as presentations, book reviews or author readings. 

TikTok - all about short snappy videos and is popular with young people (until the next big thing or the site gets too crowded with their parents). It has a very active book community - BookTok 

Tumblr - is a blogsite, an alternative to blogger, cum-social media with following pages part of the culture, though it can be wild and hairy. 

Pinterest - another visual site, in this case you can collect or pin cool images on virtual boards. Boards can be public, private or shared.  For authors, it can be part of the creative process - pinning images that give inspiration or help with planning your stories.  It's also possible to link blog posts (attached to an image) or book covers etc. 

Wattpad - a writing site where fan fiction, short stories and other content is posted freely for users to read and give feedback. Some authors post stories in the hopes of developing fans who will crossover to their (not free) books. 

Patreon - an author or creative provides different level on content for their subscribers on a regular (monthly) basis - it can be short stories unavailable elsewhere, snippets from books, behind the scene stuff, artwork or even the books themselves.

Discord -  a way for groups to get together and discuss things.

Redditt - a discussion group or maybe discussion groups within discussion group?  

Blogger - a blogger site 

World Anvil - a worldbuilding site tailored for gamers and authors - a place to document the world of your book, but also to interact with others by providing interesting content. 

And there's more. Too many to mention.

Pros and Cons

All these platforms attract audiences/followers, and often many are avid book readers of both popular and niche genres. Building up an active following on these platforms, can result in a growing following of people interested in your books. They can also be used as a basis for paid advertising. If a post goes viral, it can really take off.

On the other hand, it's takes time and effort, rarely results in instant success and can be a confusing and a timewaster. And sometimes, social media becomes an echo chamber  - writers connect with other writers (and can support and encourage each other, which is good) but don't connect with readers. 

The huge variety can be daunting /off putting. It's probably impossible to be involved in each and every platform there is. 

Start small, build and stay with it.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Better to start small, build on your gains. And be strategic and genuine.  Remain involved. 

When starting out, choose one or perhaps two to get a handle of. Choose a media that resonates and you feel most comfortable with and which is more also popular to your readers. For instance, young people have deserted Facebook for Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.  If you have a lot of visual content, Instagram and Pinterest work well while Twitter is more word based (though even here visuals help attract attention). 

Take time to understand the platform and the expectations of their users. Twitter users look more askance at Direct Messaging than Facebook users. Hash tags may be used differently at different sites. 

Ask for help and do some research (including some excellent blogs on this site) and don't be afraid to experiment.

Add value for your readers/followers

Do you enjoy the shop owners who feel compelled to yell specials and 'buy, buy, buy' messages at you through a loud hailer as you walk past their shop? If you are anything like me, such loud and pushy tactics will make you want to run for the hills. So too with social media.  Think about what content you can offer related to your books, engage with people, be helpful and pleasant. And make any promotions relevant, interesting and attractive. 

 Remember, it's as much as making connections and building relationships. 

Be versatile

And remember, platforms change. Elon Musk has just bought out Twitter. Some earlier social media platforms no longer exist - anyone remember Yahoo groups or Myspace?

So the other point, is, don't be too dependent on any one social media. Have your own website (with or without a blog) and email list are other ways to connect with readers that is independent on the changes in policy and fortune of the big providers. 

Beware of Time Munchers

Social media can swallow whole hours once you start swiping or scrolling.  It's good to post regularly, put regular content up but don't let it swallow up all the available hours.  Ask yourself would I be better off writing (or editing).  Perhaps automate if possible or set aside time to work on certain tasks.

So which social media platform works best?  It depends - on you, on your book, on your audience, and on the phase of the moon. 

Okay, maybe not the phase of the moon, but there is a degree of unpredictability about all this. And all of these opportunities , these portals to readers - existing networks, face-to-face opportunities, social media, website and email newsletter, can and should work together.  

And remember to have fun :)  

It's a lot to learn and, often, a uphill struggle.  Yet a thousand mile journey starts with the first step.

Some questions for the reader. 

So, what social media and other means have you tried to connect with readers? What worked? What didn't work?  Do you have some tips to share or questions you would love answered?

Jeanette O'Hagan has spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs.

She has published over forty stories and poems, including the Under the Mountain Series (5 books), Ruhanna's Flight and Other Stories, Akrad's Children and Rasel's Song, the first two books in the Akrad's Legacy series - and new short story accepted for an upcoming Fantasy anthology.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Characters can Change your Story - Rosanne Hawke

 A year or so ago I sent a copy of my out-of-print YA novel called The Last Virgin in Year 10 to Rhiza Edge to see if they’d republish. The publisher said to rewrite and update it, then they’d see. What transpired defies definition. 

I quickly discovered that I couldn’t rewrite with the same character. The original one needed to change too much and the rewrite wasn’t working. It was like painting a new colour over a different one that was still wet – the colour wasn’t true. Thus, a new character arrived on the scene who could manage the text, plot, and its changes. Essie Pederick. 

When a new character like Essie walks onto the page I do a mind map to get to know her. I like to discover everything that you would want to know of a friend you’ve just met, like personality, likes and dislikes, sports, music, food, dreams, family and cultural background. Particularly, I need to know what the character wants the most. When I can work that out, then the story can start because this information will form the character’s motivations and therefore affect her goals. This then makes the plot turn so the story can move. It’s good for me to know her fears, special talents, and where the character needs to grow (i.e. her flaws). This all helps build the plot as well as having a well-rounded character. It also enables the character to reach a satisfying ending. 

New writers have said to me, ‘I love writing. Rosanne, I’ve even started ten stories but I can’t finish them.’ I ask them what they know about their characters. What is it they want to do? Often the writer will say, ‘Oh I’m writing an adventure, or fantasy. Do I need to know that?’ I gently say that whatever genre we write we need to know our characters well because they make our story and, as I found, can change it too.

Essie Pederick in Flying Blind is a person who is kind and easily manipulated. She has a new set of motivations, desires, goals and a new setting. she isn’t a city girl like the previous character. Essie is a country girl living in a coastal town on the Yorke Peninsula. Liking swimming, music and dogs is probably the only similar attributes Essie shares with the previous character. She is rekindling a relationship with a workaholic dad and navigating a manipulating friendship which involves gaslighting. Thus, Essie grows from emotional immaturity to more maturity in navigating friendships and gaining spiritual insight. But it’s not an easy road to travel. 

Some parts of the plot are similar but any kept text had to be rewritten to be seen through Essie’s perspective. Most importantly, the voice of the first-person narrator has changed. The people she interacts with become different also because they’re relating to a different girl. 

Probably I should have started with a blank page, but there were some plot points I wanted to keep. However, I rewrote all scenes with Essie’s perspective and voice. I deleted most of the original scenes and words and wrote a lot of new ones. Flying Blind is 10,000 words longer than the original. I wrote new material for the early chapters. Gave more scenes to Essie’s little sister, her father and new friend Jowan. A lot of the new material shows another new character, Chloe and how her behaviour is affecting Essie and making her anxious. Even with some similar plot points the story has become totally reconstructed. It is fresh, different. It’s proved something to me that I had always told my students: It is the character who makes the story what it is. Put a new character into a story and the story will change.

Writing Flying Blind has felt like writing a new book using some plot ideas that I’d thought of previously. The structural edit picked up anything I’d left in that didn’t suit Essie. It’s been an enriching experience. But what is a book like this called? It’s too changed to be a new edition, a rewrite, an update or a re-creation. It’s still the same form, i.e. a novel, so it’s not a remake. Is it an adaption, a reconstruction, inspired by the previous book? Or, is it a transmutation? This is my favourite definition of writing Flying Blind. What do you think?

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Comic Book Techniques for Narrative Writing


Comic books aren't just full of caped crusaders, lovelorn teens, lasagne-obsessed cats and lonely mutants. Well they are, but they can also teach us a lot about writing, and not just in terms of the script.

I've been reading a book called How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher. They recommend drawing up thumbnail sketches of page layouts, showing roughly what will go in each panel on each page. As thumbnails are small, they allow you to identify any problems before committing to the more detailed artwork that will go into the creation of the comic. Have you got the pacing right? Do you have any unnecessary repetition? Is there a good balance of light and dark? Have you saved the strongest image for the best spot? Does the design work as a whole? As they note, something that's not working at the thumbnail stage isn't going to magically work at full size. 

(For an example of thumbnails, click here to see some of James Baker's work.)

As I was reading, I couldn't help thinking how much these principles also apply to other types of narrative writing like novels and memoir. As Gibbons and Pilcher note, 'the whole point of thumbnails is to be able to quickly identify what is and isn't working in the storytelling so that you avoid any nasty surprises when it comes to drawing the actual artwork' (p. 61). If we're writing a novel or memoir aimed at adults, we might not typically have illustrations, but we're still painting scenes with our words. If it's not working at the outlining level, you can't just cross your fingers and hope that it will suddenly sound better when you've written the complete scenes.

If you're a Pantser rather than a Plotter, you're not off the hook, as these principles also apply to the editing stage. So how exactly do we apply them?

One way is to start with a scene map. This could be your initial outline (for Plotters) or a retrospective map based on your first draft (for Pantsers). Try to condense each scene to a couple of dot points that include setting, main characters, and one line about what they're doing. You could write these on small index cards, Post-it notes, chart paper or the computing equivalent; however, it has to be something that you can spread out (on the floor, a whiteboard, your garage door).

Then analyse the plot or the narrative to see if it ticks the right boxes. You might find colour-coding helpful in doing this, or some other method of sorting.

  • Does the plot hang together well, with all loose ends tied up neatly (unless some things are purposely kept open for a sequel). Or is the story just a bunch of things that happen?
  • Do subplots tie in with the main theme?
  • What is the pacing like? Are there too many slow scenes in a row? Are there too many adrenalin-charged scenes in one section, so that the reader doesn't have time to breathe? Try to break it up a bit.
  • Is one section overloaded with back story, when it might be better to drop it in a bit at a time? The same could be said for information dumps. For example, if you have a Christian or spiritual theme, is that woven through the story, or do you have several scenes in a row where a minister delivers a series of sermons to your main characters? If so, you might consider whether there's a better way to get your point across.
  • If there is more than one point-of-view (POV) character, is each scene told from the vantage of just one of them and is there a smooth transition between scenes and POV shifts?
  • Is the setting too static? If the whole point of your story is that everyone has to help each other while trapped on a lifeboat, as in Alfred Hitchcock's movie of the same name, then that's okay. More often than not, however, your story might benefit from changes in locations, weather, times of day and so on.
  • Do you have too many scenes where people are doing similar things? (e.g., too many scenes where people are pouring a cup of coffee). What can you do to mix it up a bit and maintain reader interest? (Hint: The answer probably isn't to have them pouring a cup of tea instead of a cup of coffee).

When I was looking over a draft of my historical novel Scattered, I realised I had two similar scenes in which the antagonist took my heroine to a restaurant for lunch and then grilled her about a shipwreck she'd been involved in. I couldn't simply combine it into one scene, because there's a mystery involved and some bits of information were known at different times. I kept the first restaurant scene in the final version, but thought of a different scenario for the second. Instead of the baddie arriving at my heroine's workplace to take her to lunch, he arrived at closing time and offered her a ride home in his carriage. Not only did this allow for a change of setting, but it also provided an opportunity to ramp up my heroine's discomfort as she was forced into close quarters with someone she had reason to distrust.

There is a caveat with all of this. Any change you make should enhance the plot. Don't just have it rain for the sake of it. Use the rain to force your characters to huddle together or prevent them from doing something they need to do.

Do you have any other strategies that you've found helpful when analysing your plot (or reviewing the work of others)? I'd love to hear your examples. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the 1964 Iron Man comic I'm reading. After all, it's research for writing!

Author Bio

Nola Lorraine (aka Nola Passmore) has had more than 150 short pieces published in a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, devotional material, articles, poetry and academic work. Her inspirational historical novel Scattered was shortlisted for the 2021 CALEB Award for best adult fiction. She would love to connect with you:


Gibbons, D., & Pilcher, T. (2017). How comics work. New York: Quarto.

Photo credits - Featured photo from author's own collection. Black and white comic by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash. Whiteboard photo by StartupStockPhotsos on Pixabay.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Omega Writers and the 2022 CALEB Award: Frequently Asked Questions

There is one week to go before entries close in the 2022 CALEB Awards. I've had several questions from entrants and potential entrants over the last few weeks, so today I'm answering all the questions.

When do entries close?

Entries close on Tuesday 26 April.

Have you received my entry?

I will be contacting all entrants this week to confirm I have received their book or manuscript, and I will be cross-checking the entries against those who have paid. If you have paid but haven't sent your entry, please ensure you email it before the deadline.

How do I enter? The “enter” page seems to be to book tickets for the presentation event in October rather than to enter a manuscript in the competition.

You can enter by clicking the "Book Now" button at the top right-hand corner of the TryBooking page. Unfortunately, the software won't allow us to change the text to a more user-friendly "Enter Here". Once you've clicked "Book Now",you select your category, and work through the questions. Once you've paid your entry fee, you send your entry to the email address provided. The actual award presentations will be on Saturday 8 October, as part of the 2022 Omega Writers Conference. Earlybird conference bookings open today (18 April 2022). Click here for more information.

Each category needs a minimum of seven entries. Will my category be going ahead?

As of today, we have received enough entries to enable the following categories to proceed:
  • Published Adult Fiction
  • Published Young Adult Fiction
  • Published Nonfiction (Adult and Young Adult)
  • Unpublished Adult Fiction
There is still time to enter, so don't delay. Click here to find out more, and click here to enter. We do not currently have enough entries for the following categories:
  • Unpublished Young Adult Fiction
  • Unpublished Nonfiction (Adult and Young Adult)
If we do not receive sufficient entries for Unpublished Young Adult Fiction, then we will combine that with Unpublished Adult Fiction, as the judging criteria are essentially the same. However, we may have to cancel the Nonfiction category. If so, we will refund all entry fees.

Can I enter a previous CALEB Unpublished award entry which has now been published?

Yes, you absolutely can enter a Published book that was previously entered as an Unpublished manuscript. That's something we love to see, because it shows people are making progress in their writing! You can also enter the second (or later) edition of a book, as long as you haven't entered that book in a previous CALEB and it has a 2021 copyright date. However, you can't enter the same book more than once in a Published category, even if you've made substantial changes and reissued the book as a new edition with a new copyright date, or as a new title with a new copyright date.

What if my book is part of a series? Can I enter any book from the series, or do I have to enter the first book?

You can enter any book in a series, as long as the book meets the entry requirements i.e. was first published in 2021 (as determined by the copyright date). It's up to you whether you choose to enter the first book or a different book. If you're only entering one book, my recommendation would be to either enter the first book, or the book you think is best. You can enter up to two books in the same category, as long as they both have a 2021 copyright date.

Are the CALEB fiction awards only for novels, or can I enter my novella/novelette?

Entries in the Published section need to be a minimum of 30,000 words, which is a mid-length novella (novelettes tend to be over 10,000 words, and novellas start at 25,000 words while novels start at around 50,000 words for category fiction). We do not have a minimum word count in the Unpublished section this year. However, I would suggest entries need to be a minimum of 30,000 words to be judged appropriately against the first-round judging criteria (which judges on the first 10,000 words, so assumes the entry doesn't include the ending). However, if you're entering to get anonymous feedback on your writing, then it would only need to be over 10,000 words. Click here to read the Unpublished Award rules. Click here to read the Published Award rules.

What are the benefits of entering the Unpublished contest?

The main benefit is the feedback. All entrants will receive anonymous written feedback from three judges. Finalists will receive anonymous written feedback from six judges, three of whom will have read the full manuscript. This feedback is important in several respects:
  • Good feedback will identify any writing issues in your manuscript, which can save you literally years of writing and rewriting.
  • All feedback will give you experience in evaluating and applying feedback. Not all feedback is good, and not all feedback will work for your manuscript. Some feedback might feel wrong initially, but will turn out to be right when enough time has passed.
  • Feedback produces feelings, and one valuable lesson in writing is to learn that the feedback is not personal. It's not about you. It's about your manuscript, and it comes from someone who wants to help you to be a better writer. The more feedback we receive, the sooner we will stop feeling defensive about receiving feedback and be able to act on that feedback in a positive way.
  • While critical feedback may hurt, it's better to receive that criticism privately on an unpublished manuscript rather than finding out via a review after the book is published.
Entering a writing award also gives you experience in writing a synopsis, writing to a deadline, and submitting according to specific instructions. These are all valuable skills. Entering a contest also gives you experience in waiting. There's a lot of waiting in writing, particularly if you decide to pursue a traditional publishing contract.

While you're waiting, we recommend volunteering to judge the Published contest in your genre.

Judging will give you experience in thinking critically about writing in your genre, and will help you understand what the judges will be looking for when they read and evaluate your writing. Click here to read some of the lessons I've learned from judging writing contests.

And there are prizes ...

Omega Writers is delighted to be able to offer the following prizes for the CALEB Award in 2022.
Published Awards
  • Published Fiction: $300 cash prize and trophy
  • Published Young Adult Fiction:  $300 cash prize and trophy
  • Published Nonfiction (suitable for Adult or YA market): $300 cash prize and trophy
Unpublished Awards
Unpublished Fiction: Winner will receive editing services from Iola Goulton at Christian Editing Services to the value of $400. Website: Unpublished Young Adult Fiction: Winner to receive editing services from Nola Passmore at The Write Flourish to the value of $400. Website: Unpublished Nonfiction: Winner to receive a Manuscript Review and Feedback from Nicole Partridge to the value of $400. Website:

Can I volunteer to judge if I'm entering the CALEB Awards?

Yes! Judging is a great way of giving back to the Australasian Christian writing community.
  • If you’re entering the Unpublished award, then we’d love to have you judge the Published award—Young Adult or Adult fiction.
  • If you write fiction and you’re entering one of the Published awards, then we’d love to have you judge the Unpublished award.
  • If you’re not entering the CALEB, then we’d love to have you judge whatever category you like!

What qualifications do I need to be a judge?

You need to be a keen reader of the genre you’re offering to judge. That’s pretty much it. If you’re applying to judge the Unpublished contest, then it would be great if you’re also a writer, editor, or publisher, as we want to give our Unpublished entrants good feedback. Also, the CALEB Award is a Christian contest, so we do ask that judges agree with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief.

What do judges have to do?

First-round judges will have approximately two months to judge between three and ten entries in the category and genre of their choice (so if you hate reading young adult romance, we’ll do our best to ensure you don’t get any romance entries. If you can only judge three entries, we’ll send you three. If you can judge more, we’ll send you more). The Unpublished contest is the first 10,000 words of the manuscript, plus a 1,000-word synopsis. Depending on how fast you read, judging should take between 30 and 60 minutes per entry. Those judging the Unpublished contest will be asked to provide written feedback to support their scores, and this feedback will be given to the entrants. Feedback is one of the main reasons to enter an Unpublished contest, so we do ask that judges give fair, considered, and prayerful feedback. The first round of the Published contest is based on the first 50 pages (or 25%) of the book for other categories (although you’re welcome to read the entire book). Judges will be asked to complete a score sheet for each entry, but will not have to provide written feedback, and score sheets will not be returned to the entrants. Final-round judges will have approximately two months to pick a winner from three finalists. They will be asked to read the full book or manuscript (entries are capped at 120,000 words). Click here to find out more about judging. Click here to volunteer as a judge.

Have we missed any questions? Add yours in the comments.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Writer's Life: Ebbs and Flows

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

In the last two out of three weekends, Lynne Stringer and I have fronted up to a Speculative Fiction Con - first Brisbane Oz Comic Con at the end of March and then Gold Coast Supanova last weekend.  This year was a little different as sadly Adele Jones couldn't be with us for the two events.  The three of us have being doing Cons together, first as Intricate Worlds, then as Rendered Realms since September 2017.

Both Supanova and Oz Comic are vibrant, entertaining, larger-than-life events that bring together fans, creatives and stars from just about every speculative fiction fandom and medium that you can imagine.  What makes these events special are the enthusiastic fans who put time and effort into their cosplay - costumes of their favourite characters drawn from movies, TV, anime, graphic novels, games, comics and books. And a good proportion of these fans are book lovers who want to support local authors and will often buy the whole series. And we as authors, not only experience all this creativity, not only interact with potential readers and sign our books, but have readers come back for more. Fantastic, right?

Yes, it is. That buzz keeps us coming back, full of excitement and anticipation for the next event. Yet, it's not all highs. The weekend requires preparation and stamina - standing in front of the book table for eight hours over two or sometimes three days, watching people stream past or, after seeming so close to buying, leave with a (usually) empty promise that they will come back. So it can also be exhausting and discouraging. 

On the first day of Oz Comic Con this year, I did not make a single sale - then more than made up for it on the second day.  At Supanova, sales came slowly, in dribs and drabs, until the last three hours, when suddenly things picked up (a great way to finish).

Sometimes, it's hard not to be discouraged. The hours drag (is it really only 11, another 7 hours to go) and the optimism fades. It's tempting to be competitive if one or other of us sells more books. 

In those moments, I make an effort to refocus on why I'm there - yes, selling books, it's nice to at least break even, better to make a profit, but the reason I write is not to pay bills (though that would be good) but so others will read hope-and-faith-infused stories.  Remembering that helps me give the time to God to redeem. And last weekend, instead of looking at the time as a countdown to when it would all finish - I tipped it on it's head - five more hours of opportunity for readers to discover our books. 

Despite slow starts and even barren days, despite both events being different - one smaller the other much bigger and more crowded - we both made decent sales, discovered new readers of our books and had returning customers.  Our books are out there in the wild, hopefully being read and enjoyed by others. 

It reminds me of the days when I plunged back in the world of writing in 2012. The steep learning curve and that long wait to see my work in print.  Positive feedback exhilarated, significant negative feedback could discourage, and watching others being published or winning prizes could lead to insecurity. The waiting seemed to go on forever. Though looking back now, I can see that I was learning and preparing. 

I still remember the buzz when my first short story was accepted into an anthology at the end of 2014. Not that it's necessarily got any easier since then. There is always another goal, something else to reach for, someone else to compare with.  Some years, I've had multiple short stories and poems accepted for publication and novellas or novels published. Other years, I've had more rejections than acceptances and few if any publications. And the elusive 'paying the bills' is like a mirage on ever receding horizon. 

I've realised that I need to trust God's provision and timing. I also need to accept the ebbs and flows. As at the Cons, hours or even a whole day may go by with a few nibbles and no takers - but then suddenly in an hour or two it all turns around. It's not necessarily anything I've done differently - wearing a more colourful dress or more eye-catching headwear as part of my costume, smiling more or being more positive. Each Con is different - sometimes everyone wants to buy a certain title, then next Con that one barely gets a look in, but another one or series becomes more popular. Of course, if we don't plan, prepare and turn up at all, nothing will happen. 

And maybe our writing life is like that too - with ebbs and flows, strong tides that can be beyond our control. And in the midst of those unpredictable currents, I can and will trust the one who made the oceans and directs the waves.

Jeanette O'Hagan has spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs.

She has published over forty stories and poems, including the Under the Mountain Series (5 books), Ruhanna's Flight and Other Stories, Akrad's Children and Rasel's Song, the first two books in the Akrad's Legacy series - and new short story accepted for an upcoming Fantasy anthology.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Should Authors Create Their Own Book Covers? by Susan J Bruce

Nikita-the-ShiChi with her copy of Running Scared

One of the things I noticed when I first began hanging out in author-focused online groups was the strong advice against authors creating their own book covers. One response I read said only trained graphic designers should ever even attempt to this. Only they had the knowledge and experience. 

Did I head this advice? Nope.


Why didn’t I? There are several reasons.

Because I’m Scottish and therefore stubborn

One of the most endearing traits of the Scots is their stubbornness. Just ask my husband . How else could my ancestors cope with freezing weather, howling winds and Summer that only lasts one day a year? Don’t get me wrong, I love my homeland. Its stark beauty is breathtaking and the people are generous and welcoming. But most Scots I know have this stubborn streak–which I share.


If you want to design your own book cover, you don’t need to be Scottish, but you do need to be stubborn. You need to decide to do this and do it well and not settle for a bad design. 

I love being arty

I love immersing myself in art projects–especially ones focused on animals. I can spend hours tweaking the work. It's the same with book cover design. I can get lost in the process. I don't think I'd have attempted to create my own cover if I didn't love visual art, and if I didn't have a general idea of what looks right. My biggest problem in cover design was developing the skills needed to make the picture in my brain look right on the page. I had no idea about typography, nor did I understand how to use photoshop.

I gave myself time to experiment

If you want to learn cover design you have to experiment to find out what works/ doesn't work. Here is one of my early attempts at cover design for Running Scared.  I was still thinking of writing as Sue Jeffrey then.

Early version of Running Scared


When I shared this with friends there was this uneasy silence… Which was gracious of them because the cover was pretty bad.


It was basically just a stock photo with a filter slapped onto the image with a bit of text. The title font wasn’t too bad just too small and not in the right place, but the author font was awful :). It didn't suit an author name and the font colour didn’t appear anywhere in the image.


This happens a lot in writerdom.  The novice book designer tries to use an unsuitable font in a colour that clashes with the image. Contrast is fine, but if you want to design your own book cover, please use a font colour that complements the image. Ideally use a colour that’s already somewhere in the image, that way the font will feel one with the image, and not fight against it.

But remember it's completely okay if your early attempts at cover design aren't great. Just as with writing, you have to start somewhere. Make a hundred covers if you need to until you find something that gels.

I was willing to learn from others

I must admit that this project sat dormant for a long while between cover attempts. Every now and then I’d bring it out as an ‘art project’ and try some things. 


A big shout out to Ben Morton of Immortalise Designs. Ben is a personal friend and writing group buddy who showed great patience when I’d suddenly throw a random design at his messenger inbox.


Here are some of the other concepts I tried. Note I experimented with different titles too.

(Warning, there are images of spiders in the next two book covers.)

This one looked too young and… spidery. Arachnophobia is a key theme in the book, as Melinda fries to overcome her fear, but it’s not the sole focus.

This cover looks too young and too spidery!


The next one looked more like soft horror. There are scary bits in the story but it’s not horror.

Too much like a horror story? 


I didn’t mind this next one aesthetically, but the genre wasn’t clear. Maybe too romance-like?

Genre uncertain?

Along the way I discovered that the cross-genre nature of my book (it’s a contemporary YA, coming of age AND romantic thriller 😀) made cover design difficult. I needed to somehow incorporate an image that highlighted the story of my main character, Melinda, yet gave a taste of the danger she was in. 

I pondered for a while, then one day I was browsing through stock photos and found an image that epitomised her. A girl with butterflies in her hair. You'll have to read the book to discover why this fits so well. I combined this with other elements and eventually came up with this cover.


Nearly there!

Then after some further advice (thank you Rowena Beresford and Cecily Paterson!) the final cover became a reality. I was happy, and those I shared the cover with loved it.

Final Cover of Running Scared

But would I have got there without listening to people who could help? 


I did a lot of research too. You'll probably notice my typography improved as I went along. If you are going to learn cover design I’d strongly advise you to research the kinds of fonts used on book covers your genre. And check out the top 100 bestsellers on Amazon in your chosen genre. This will give you a good idea of the fonts and images used in books that are currently selling well. There’s a lot of information out there in internet-land—make use of it.


I needed to up-skill. I had virtually no photoshop knowledge—although I mainly used Canva initially. This was a process of trial and error but I highly recommend the SPF Cover Design course by Stuart Bache – a top UK cover designer. All the SPF courses are fabulous if you want to independently publish books. They are pricey but worth the dollars. The Cover Design course gave me some simple pointers that made all the difference. 

How long did this process take?

This whole journey took a gazillion years—or it felt like it. I think I started the cover in 2016 and it’s now 2022. To be fair, I originally wanted to traditionally publish the book, and during this time I sent it out to various publishers. I had lots of nibbles, but no publisher committed. 


Maybe it was because the book is a mixture of genres. I think the book just wasn’t ‘ready’ when I sent it to some publishers, but the most frustrating responses went something like this:


I really enjoyed Running Scared, it’s commercial and you have a gift for writing suspense. I found it hard to put down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit our list. 




So instead of rewriting Running Scared to a publisher’s satisfaction I rewrote it to mine. And created the cover too. That’s the joy of independent publishing. 

A book—and its cover—can be a labour of love.

Should authors design their own book covers?   

Having said all of this, what would I advise authors who are thinking of designing their own covers?


I’d say go ahead if all of these conditions apply:

  • You are either Scottish or extremely stubborn and not willing to settle for a substandard cover 😁
  • You love being arty and learning new skills
  • You have the time to do this and get it right

But if the above criteria don't apply, then commission a custom cover or use one of the many pre-made covers available online. Some premade covers are amazing. I would have used a pre-made cover if I’d found one that fitted my book.

The big question: Would you be better off writing? 

In one writing forum I follow, they have a saying: WIBBOWWould I be better off writing?


The truth is, I probably would have been much better off typing words rather than nuancing cover art. But for a while there I had more time available than money to pay a cover designer—and I really wanted to give this a go.  


And now I have a new skill. I still have a humungous amount to learn but I'd like to get to the stage where I can design covers for other authors.


But that might take a wee while. Life is busy at the moment. The print version of Running Scared had a soft launch in February but the official launch is happening after Easter. I’m joining with three other authors in a book launch party at North Adelaide on April 20. 

You are invited! Here is the flyer, courtesy of Stone Table Books, who are launching two books and hosting the event:

The ebook of Running Scared* is currently on preorder—although I'm having some hiccups with Apple Books, but that should be resolved soon. So you can buy now if you would like a copy .


It's an exciting time!

But back to cover design. Have you ever tried to design your own book cover? How did it go? What lessons did you learn? Pease let me know in the comments below.

Pssst... BTW!

You can find out more about Running Scared on my website https://www.susanjbruce.comPlease sign up for my newsletter because you'll get a free short story and all of my updates! 

Pssst again.... Even though some of the covers documented above are a wee bit crappy, they are still copyright Susan J Bruce.


Susan J Bruce is an author, artist and animal addict who writes mystery and suspense bookswith heart. Susan is a former veterinarian and animals often run, jump, fly or crawl through her tales. Her writing group once challenged her to write a story without mentioning any animalsshe failed! Susan's debut novel, Running Scared, won the 2018 Caleb Prize for an unpublished manuscript. You can find Susan online at