Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

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Session Spotlight: Plotting a Page Turner

On Saturday 22nd of August at 9:30am as part of the Aspiring/Emerging Stream, C.S. Pacat shares practical techniques that are sure to help delegates understand and simplify the process of plotting.

“The take home message from this session is that plotting doesn’t have to be a mysterious or difficult process. Instead, it is based on practical techniques that can be learned”

Your Presenter — C.S. Pacat

C. S. Pacat is a Melbourne writer, and a graduate of the University of Melbourne. Her first series the Captive Prince trilogy began its life as an online web serial. Self published in 2013 to critical and commercial success and acclaim, the Captive Prince trilogy was acquired by Penguin USA and will be released worldwide in April 2015.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Author. Lover of antiheroes, princes, swordfights, intrigue, adventure and romance

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in 15 conference?

Plot is so integral to novel writing, yet so rarely taught, even in creative writing classes, leaving writers to try to work things out alone, reverse-engineering techniques from reading other people’s books. I think that instead it’s important for writers to share knowledge, which will help each other’s work and allow the genre to grow and evolve in new ways.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

This session will benefit writers and aspiring writers who are interested in better understanding the way that plot functions to create and enhance tension, suspense and page turning drive in a book.

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

The session will include some discussion, and there will be time set aside for questions and audience participation.

Do you use examples (from your own books, other books, movies etc)?

Plot is best discussed with great examples, so the session will draw on popular genre fiction, film and television series to illustrate how specific techniques are achieved.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you? 

Captive Prince is an adventure fantasy with swordfights, political machinations, chases, escapes—and a romance between two enemy princes from rival nations. It will be available from April 2015. Members can find out more at

Social media links:



Get Fresh in ’15 – Important Information

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2015 RWA Conference registrations open at 8am on Saturday 28th February. Links to the online registration page will be provided on the RWA website and on the RWA Facebook Group.

You must be a current and paid up member of RWA to claim the member’s registration price. You will need to provide your RWA member number during the registration process.

If you are uncertain of your membership status, or if you don’t know your RWA member number, please contact before starting the registration process.

PLEASE NOTE: your membership status will be checked against the member database. Anyone registering as an RWA member who is not a current financial member may have their conference registration cancelled. See conference Terms & Conditionsfor further details.

Complete information and instructions to guide you through the registration process can be found here.

For the comfort of all delegates and guests please note the RWA Annual conference is a perfume free event

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

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Session Spotlight: The Dark Art of the Blurb & The Deep Mysteries of the Synopsis

On Saturday 22nd of August at 9:30am as part of the Business Stream, Kate Cuthbert & Ainslie Paton demonstrate the elusive art of blurb and synopsis writing.

Writing a killer synopsis and a cracking blurb can feel harder than writing the whole book. But a poorly written synopsis and a boring blurb can wreck a good book’s prospects.

Synopsis writing is a formula and blurb writing has its own special practices adapted from copywriting techniques.

Kate Cuthbert and Ainslie Paton take you behind the mysteries and reveal the dark arts of synopsis and blurb writing, so you can write content that sells.

Your Presenters – Kate Cuthbert and Ainslie Paton

Kate Cuthbert has written about romance for almost as long as she’s read them. Starting with a Master’s thesis for her MA in Writing, Editing, and Publishing, Kate has written book reviews and romance-focused features for the Brisbane Courier-Mail, All About Romance, Bookseller and Publisher Magazine, the New York Journal of Books, the Australian Romance Reader’s Association, and Booktopia. She is one of Australia’s foremost experts on the romance genre and its place in the publishing world.

Ainslie Paton is a corporate storyteller who’s financed a life writing media releases, scripts, speeches, presentations, advertising copy, websites, videos and stage plays.  She has various hard core qualifications and writes contemporary fiction for both traditional and self publishing.  She’ll release her 20th title in 2015.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Kate is Managing Editor at Escape Publishing.  She loves to read.

Ainslie is a self and traditionally published author. She loves to write.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in 15 conference?

The long answer:  Synopsis and blurb writing is part of the business of being an author.  A writer’s ability to talk about their work in short form can be as important as being able to produce a book.  But it’s a different style of writing to narrative form and it’s easy when you know how.

The short answer:  It’s hard.  It’s good to get help.

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

Kate: The Escape After Party and catching up with other editors.  Being with my tribe.

Ainslie: The hotel room – no seriously.  But the Escape dinner and catching up with writer friends is ace.

What will participants take away from this session? (OR what is the key outcome or take-home message?)

After the session participants will have new tools and approaches to use to craft a synopsis that gets attention and a blurb that sells.  There may be references to helicopters, icebergs, hooks and quirks.

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

Participants will be expected to act out their blurbs and vogue their synopsis.  What?  No, but we do hope it will be fun, informative and useful.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

Aspiring, emerging, and author-publisher authors, or anyone who has spent days trying to write a blurb.  We know who you are.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you? 

Kate releases like a million books a year, every year with Escape Publishing.

Ainslie has a more modest haul.  She has three releases with Escape in 2015 and will self publish her first series, an Asian Gothic that no one will understand.

Social media links:


Twitter: @Katydidinoz @AinsliePaton

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Session Spotlight: Working with Scene Cards

On Saturday 22nd of August at 9:30am as part of the Emerging/Established stream, Ebony McKenna explores the use of scene cards in plotting, writing and revising manuscripts. “Scene cards are practical and powerful tool to keep track of the many emotional twists and turns of your romance novel”. In this hands-on, practical session delegates will have the chance to work with scene cards and experience how they can improve the writing experience.


Your Presenter – Ebony McKenna

Ondine # 1 The Summer of Shamblesondine-2-autumn-palace-us-cover-v7f-medium-res-500x800-vhigh80Ondine # 3 The Winter of Magic









As a teenager, Ebony lived and worked in her family’s restaurant, which provided much of the inspiration for the Ondine novels. Ebony waitressed, prepared food – and yep – washed dishes. So many dishes.

In the 1990s she worked as an award winning journalist with many leading Melbourne newspapers. By day she wrote other people’s stories, but by night she plotted epic adventures. Now she writes novels for a living.

Ebony McKenna lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and young son.


Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

“She’s the one who loves ferrets. And snow goats.”

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in 15 conference?

When a technique works for me, I can’t wait to share it with other writers to see if it can help them too. I use scene cards all the time when plotting, writing and revising. They help me keep The Big Picture in mind, while simultaneously helping me focus on the finer detail. When I have all the cards on the table, I can see straight away where the story is bloated or where it needs nourishment.

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you? 

I love catching up with friends, discovering new writers, having way too much fun and fillin’ my noggin with new learnin’. Even when I think I’m familiar with a topic, there’s always something new that resonates with me.

What will participants take away from this session? 

Scene cards are practical and powerful tool to keep track of the many emotional twists and turns of your romance novel. Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, or somewhere in between, you’ll have a fix on when your character needs to be active, reactive and reflective. You’ll develop the tools to recognise what isn’t working and – super bonus – you’ll have the tools to fix it.

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

You bet. It will be a scribble-fest and the ideas will flow. We’ll be making scene cards, shuffling them about and creating a ‘mad-lib’ novel. We may end up on the floor, lost in a sea of scenes.

Anything you’re particularly looking forward to at the 2015 Get Fresh conference in Melbourne?

I’m so happy the conference is in my home town, I’m looking forward to taking walks through the city and the parks for inspiration; then noshing on curry pies and coffee for my health.

What is your upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you? 

The Spring Revolution is the fourth and final book in the Ondine series. It’s coming out in time for the Eurovision Song Contest, in May.

The easiest place to find me on line is


Social media links:




Academy Awards prove yet again that books are rich pickings for filmmakers

A number of winning actors, producers and directors at this year’s Academy Awards owe their Oscars to Standing on the shoulders of giants finalan author’s inspiration. Birdman, which won awards for best film, director and original screenplay, is based on a Broadway stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’. Publishers Weekly reports that print sales of the short story collection of the same name have jumped 121% in the 12 weeks since the film opened in October.

This particular short story of Carver’s has an interesting history. In 2009, Vintage UK published it as a standalone story under Carver’s original title, Beginners. In addition to renaming it, Vintage removed the extensive edits and textural additions made by Carver’s first editor, Gordon Lish. The publication sparked an international debate about the role of an editor in deciding the final version of an author’s work and where to draw the fine line between editing and rewriting.

After British publication, Beginners was also published as a standalone title in 22 territories. However, in America it has only ever been released as part of the Library of America’s 2009 publication of Raymond Carver: Collected Stories.

Now, Vintage US is planning to release the first standalone American print edition of Beginners, that is, of the unedited manuscript version of ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’. Vintage will also release e-book editions of both titles in September 2015, marking the first time any of Carver’s works have been published in digitally. It’s a sad reminder of how many good books from previous generations are still not available to those book lovers who prefer reading digitally. On the plus side, it’s a perfect example of how a good story never dies.

Other movies based on books that picked up awards were:

  • Still Alice is based on Lisa Genova’s novel of the same name (S&S), for Julianne Moore as best actress,
  • The Theory of Everything is based on Jane Hawking’s memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen (Alma Books) for Eddie Redmayne as best actor (Eddie Redmayne),
  • The Imitation Game, which won best adapted screenplay, is based on Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (Vintage),
  • American Sniper won the Oscar for best sound editing and based on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle &  Scott McEwen (HarperCollins), and
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, won four Oscars – for best original score, production design, costume design, makeup and hairstyling.

Do you enjoy movies based on books, or do you wish filmmakers would use more original screenplays?

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

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Session Spotlight: Authorpreneurship = Financial Success

On Friday 21st of August at 3:00pm as part of the business stream, Susan Downham demonstrates to delegates her expertise as an authorpreneur.

The purpose of presenting a session about Authorpreneurship at the RWA 2015 conference is to contribute knowledge to the industry. After completing my thesis on Authorpreneurship in 2013 it’s time to share my knowledge. I will be informing authors the process successful Authorpreneurs use their resource profile to be successful in the publishing world. I have kept the habit of interviewing authors to build on my initial findings and will present new findings at the conference.

Your Presenter – Susan Downham

Susan Downham is a graduate of Honours from the School of Management from UTAS, Tasmania. After graduating with majors in HR and Entrepreneurship and Minoring in Marketing in 2009 she returned to further her studies in 2013. Her thesis answered two questions regarding an emerging entrepreneurship group, Authorpreneurs. She believes it is the combination of understanding the activities of Authorpreneurs linked with her motto, Activity Brings Results which helped her sign 17 book contracts in 2013 and another 8 in 2014. 2014 was a big year with ten book releases. She lives beneath the majestic Mount Wellington in Tasmania with her husband Keirran and their five children.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for get fresh in 15 conference?

I want to share my knowledge with others

Have you presented sessions at previous conferences, for RWA or other organisations?

I have presented several times at the university of Tasmania

What will participants take away from this session?

What activities authors undertake which have led to financial success

Which members will benefit most from this session?

Emerging and established authors although very relevant to aspiring authors

Anything you’re particularly looking forward to at the 2015 get fresh conference in Melbourne?

This will be my forth conference and I learn so much each time I attend.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you?

I have three books scheduled for release in 2015 under Susan Aardvark. Waiting for release dates under Susan Downham and Susan Rogers titles.

Susan can be contacted at

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Session Spotlight: Taking Care of Business

On Friday 21st of August at 8:30am as part of the business stream, Shannon Curtis demonstrates to delegates the importance of business planning, marketing, branding and promotion.

If you earn royalties or payment of any kind for your writing, you are, effectively, a small business, and every business benefits from a BUSINESS PLAN. If you’re venturing into self-publishing, or just wanting to take control of your career, than a business plan is a must. Learn how to treat your writing like a business, from drafting business and marketing plans, to branding and promotion.


Your Presenter – Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis has worked as a business consultant, copywriter, admin manager, customer service rep, logistics coordinator, dangerous goods handler, event planner, switch bitch and betting agent, and decided to try writing a story like those she loved to read when she found herself at home after the birth of her first child. Her books have been finalists for Favourite Romantic Suspense for 2011, 2012 and 2013, as well as Favourite Continuing Romance Series as voted by the Australian Romance Readers Association, and was selected to write romance novels for The Bold and The Beautiful series.


Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

I’m a plotter; logical, laid-back and organized, but also fun.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in 15 conference?

I’ve written business plans, content, copy and other forms of business writing, for years, and I was very surprised that so many writers don’t have a business plan – and not just those who wish to venture into self-publishing. I hear a lot of writers agonizing over typical business questions, such as how to design a website, or what should be done/how much should be spent for promotion, what they should write next, and these answers can be found in your business plan – it makes things so much easier when a writer is trying to find direction, and also gain some traction with their career, particularly with brand development.

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

For me, it’s far and away the networking and what you learn – what you take away with you. Sometimes it’s from attending a phenomenal workshop, other times it’s listening to authors discuss some of their risks and rewards, but it’s always from the sharing of experiences that are unique to a RWA conference.

What will participants take away from this session? 

The main take away will be how writers can use business plans to help chart their career path, and how to write a basic business plan that will not only map out valuable steps and insights, but also afford the delegate to make well-considered decision with their investment of time and resources.

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

There is definitely a hands-on element to this workshop, and delegates should come prepared to work. Business plans aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so delegates will be engaged in drafting a business plan tailored to suit their own needs. It will be intense, and so worth it.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

All writers, no matter where they are on their career path, would benefit from their own business plan – it creates a greater understanding of how the work they do fits into the marketplace, the business mechanisms that will affect their career, and how to ride those peaks and troughs. It’s especially valuable to writers considering the self-publishing or hybrid-publishing option.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you?

My latest romantic suspense, Runaway Lies, is out now with Harlequin Australia, and there is a very special paranormal romance, Tribal Law, that was done as a gift to the members of the Australian Romance Readers Association. All proceeds from the sale of that novel go directly to reader resources for that organization.


Social media links:



Twitter: @2BShannonCurtis


Get Fresh in ‘15 Presents…

Session Spotlight: Publishing Contracts and Copyright

On Friday 21st of August at 10:30am as part of the business stream, Alex Adsett demonstrates to delegates the basics of copyright and publishing contracts.

This is a fast, fun and understandable introduction to publishing contracts and copyright for anyone interested in learning more about the industry.  We will go through the basics of copyright and what to expect from a standard publishing contract. As well as looking at royalties and rights, we’ll go some of the key differences between print, digital-first and self-publishing, and when warning bells should start to go off with any offer or contract.

Your Presenter ― Alex Adsett

Adsett AAPS headshot

Alex Adsett is a literary agent and publishing consultant with many years experience in the publishing industry and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008. As an agent, Alex represents a select group of genre authors – an exciting mix of crime, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror and romance.  As a publishing consultant, Alex offers publishing contract and negotiating advice to authors, publishers and booksellers.  She has worked for or with many different publishers and authors, serves on the boards of the Queensland Writers’ Centre, Queensland Literary Awards and the Small Press Network, and is often to be found on twitter at @alexadsett or via her website

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in ‘15 Conference?

I love talking about copyright & contracts and helping authors become more empowered with crucial information about the publishing industry.  It’s not just about dry contract stuff, but royalties, advances and tricks and traps of the industry.

What will participants take away from this session?

Anyone coming along will hopefully have a better understanding of basic copyright in Australia (and overseas), what to expect in a standard publishing contract, and when warning bells should start to go off with a publishing contract. We’ll look at some of the key differences between a print and digital-first deal, and some things to bear in mind when self-publishing.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

Any authors (or publishers or agents) wanting to improve their understanding of the fundamentals of publishing contracts and copyright. Whether or not you’re an established or new author, or have an agent, or self-publish, or are still writing your first book, it never hurts to be forearmed with extra information about the industry.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you?

Well, my latest romance books are the wonderful Leisl Leighton’s Dark Moon, a paranormal erotica out with Destiny and Dani Kristoff’s Sorcerer’s Spell, out with Harper Impulse. The new book I’m super excited about is Maria Lewi’s Who’s Afraid?, a fantastic urban fantasy paranormal that will blow your socks off, for fans of Patricia Briggs and Keri Arthur, out at Christmas with Piatkus.

Members can find out more about me and the agency at or on twitter @alexadsett.


Welcome to our occasional round-up of book news snippets, including some highlights from our members.

Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer, Regency Romance author

UK libraries have just released their report on the most borrowed books of 2012-2013. What I found particularly interesting was that the five most borrowed ‘classic’ authors – Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer and Charles Dickens – would have received the maximum payment of £6,600 each if they were still alive. The top eight most borrowed authors all racked up more than a million loans each. Two hundred authors received the maximum payment and 22,372 authors in total received a share of the £6.1m.

Montana ActuallyCongratulations to Fiona Lowe who received a starred review from Publishers Weekly for Montana Actually, released last month. The reviewer said, ‘The witty conversations, family drama, and accurate (but never maudlin) descriptions of loss and grief will have the reader laughing out loud, wiping away tears, and eagerly awaiting future books.’ Read the full review here.

Annie Seaton’s Coastal Collection boxed set featuring VK Black, Fiona McArthur,Annie Seaton's Collection Maxine Sullivan, Jenny Schwartz, Susanne Bellamy, Darry Fraser, Carla Caruso, Emkay Connor, Elsa Winckler and Wendy Humer reached numbers 24 and 25 respectively in Amazon’s Books / eBooks > Literature and Fiction > Holidays last week and is still sitting in the top 100. As Annie said, ‘You rock, gals!’

Donna Gallagher featured on the February 11th HEA blog of USA Today, talking An Opportunity Seizedabout her three favourite holiday destinations. No prizes for guessing the location of spot #1. However, Donna has also put together an outstanding blog tour with Book Rhythm that includes a $100 Amazon gift card Rafflecopter draw. If you’re feeling the post-holiday pinch on your book budget, check it out.

Trailer-made and Alison Stuart produced this great book trailer for her forthcoming book By the Sword, the first in her Guardians of the Crown series. Alison, like many of our authors, will be at the ARRA conference in Canberra next month.

Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein and Rachel Johns have both featured this month on

Rachael Johns

Rachael Johns

the Booktopia blog, talking about their favourite books. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for additions to your reading lists.




Have you received any great publicity or international reviews recently? I try to pick up as much news as I can, but if I have missed any of yours which you would like to share with us, email me at, and I’ll do my best to include it in the next Bookmarks post.


That is the question a modern day Hamlet and Ophelia might ponder if they could just get past his stabbing of her father.

On a serious note, DRM (digital rights management) remains a hot button of conversation in the ebook realm. Traditional publishers are supporters of DRM maintaining it is necessary to prevent illegal downloads and piracy.

However, not everyone feels the same way. While most people deplore piracy and illegal downloads, many feel that you should be able to do the same things with an ebook that you can do with a paperback, for example lend it to a friend. Depending on the level of DRM on the particular file, you may or may not be able to do that. Usually not.

Other publishers maintain that the key to preventing illegal downloads and piracy is to get your price point right. I once attended an Australian Publishers Association talk at which a high profile Carina Press editor from the US who was adamant that the key issue was price point not DRM. She said that if she had her laptop with her, she could show us all how to unlock DRM in less than 30 seconds! We didn’t put her to the test but I hope most people’s home security is better than that. She did say that their experience at Carina Press was that if the price was right, the vast majority of readers were happy to do the right thing and buy a legal copy of the ebook.

Bill Pollock, founder of niche San Francisco publisher No Starch Press, goes one step further. In an interview with Publishing Perspectives*, he said, ‘We have never used DRM and we never will. It’s just foolish… I don’t believe in charging people three times for the same information.’

Pollock, like Carina Press, believes in the radical notion that, ‘You have to trust your readers, and when you show that you them, they will respond to you.’

No Starch Press publishes book for geeks on a range of tech-related subjects from hacking to programming for kids including LOTS of books about Lego. When you buy a physical book from them, you get a free copy of the ebook to use however you want to.

The approach is paying off for them. They publish about thirty titles a year and their new book, LEGO Neighborhood Book, sold 15,000 copies in two weeks and had to be reprinted. Pollock says that pirate sites are not a real threat with books typically downloaded only a few hundred times. He argues that piracy may actually help build a buzz about new books.

‘Our business has been up every one of the last 15 years, but you don’t see those DRM-loving publishers going round talking about what a great year they’re having,’ he says.

Carina Press is primarily a digital-only imprint. No Starch Press makes their money from their print books. What they have in common is a belief that DRM is not a key factor in building a business / brand / author.

Where do you stand on the DRM debate, especially if you are an indie publisher for whom a ‘few hundred’ pirated copies would make a real difference, especially in a smaller market such as Australia. Do you believe in DRM or not? What do you do for your books? We’d love to hear from you.


* You can read Mark Piesing’s full interview with Bill Pollock at Publishing Perspectives.


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