Valerie Parv Award Finalists announced!

We are delighted to announce and congratulate the finalists in the 2015 Valerie Parv Award (VPA).  They are:

Anne Prince

Carly Main

Dave Sinclair

Dee Scully

Kat Colmer

Laura Boon


Their entries are now with Valerie Parv for final judging. The contest received 64 entries, and many judges commented on the high standard, so competition was fierce as usual. Well done to all who entered, and thanks to all our volunteer judges and contest co-ordinators for their great work.


First Kiss Results!

The results are in for our 2015 First Kiss competition!

As judged by editor Kate Byrne at Headline Eternal, our First Kiss placegetters are:


1st           Tamar Sloan

2nd          Rosie Miles

3rd           Emma Hoole

4th           Jo Harris

5th           Annabelle Rose

6th           Gayle Ash


Congratulations to all who entered!  Thanks to all our judges, and contest manager Deb Cox.

The Self Pub Hub is coming to RWA’s Get Fresh Conference!

Demystifying Self Publishing

Do you have a publishable story in your bottom drawer? Perhaps it’s time to pull it out, blow the dust off, polish it up and offer it to the world. You could be one of ninety authors who will self publish original works of romantic fiction as part of a new innovation to the Get Fresh in ’15 RWA annual conference.

The Scarlett Rugers Self-Pub Hub is designed to help step authors through the self publishing process to successfully publish a manuscript (short story, novella, or novel) over the conference weekend.

The Scarlett Rugers Self-Pub Hub will operate for three sessions daily over the core conference days. For a small fee you will be guided through each step, live and online, with the hopeful result that your work will be successfully published and available for sale during the conference.

Your guide is award winning book designer and director of srugers picthe Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency, Scarlett Rugers. Scarlett has worked with both traditional publishing houses and self-published authors, and has been recognized for providing the best website for self-published authors. Her goal is to help authors, through service and design, be the best they can be and to drive the self-publishing industry to grow into one of great quality. Empowerment, support and creativity are her tools to connecting with writers and helping them reach the heights of success scarlettrugers_logo2_s_2015they have dreamed of.

Mystified? Nervous? Don’t be. We asked Scarlett who should join in:

Who should give the Self Pub Hub a try?

Any author, from new to established, who is ready and willing to send their first book into the hands of readers. The Scarlett Rugers Self Pub Hub works with authors who are unfamiliar with the self publishing process and want a walk through for their first time, and want to learn so that they can do it themselves next time, as well as author’s who have confidently prepared their files ready for publishing. The aim is to keep the process easy and effortless. 

What skills will people take away from the Self Pub Hub?

They’ll get experience wielding awesome Kindle publishing power, understand how the system works, learn the potential trip ups and how to prepare their files so they can minimise errors or mishaps next time around.

Do people have to publish at the end, or can they just join in and walk through the process with the group?

While the Self Pub Hub is set up for you to push the button and go live with your new work, there is no obligation to do so. If pushing the final PUBLISH button is a bit too frightening, you can stop there, knowing you have the tools to go away and do it in your own time at your own desk.

Can you guarantee my work will publish successfully?

Self publishing can be a tricky business and sometimes there are hidden problems or errors in files which prevent them from being successfully published. All participants will receive a detailed checklist with links to websites providing advice on how to best prepare their material and optimise their chances of successfully publishing on the day. For first timers, we recommend you start with shorter works to minimise any potential formatting problems with the files. Even if you don’t manage to successfully self publish, you will still gain the hands on experience of working directly with the system and have your many questions answered by an experienced self publishing expert.


Registrations are via and will open 6 – 24 July 2015.

Cost: $15

Days: Saturday 22nd August & Sunday 23rd August

Times:   9.15am – 10.45am | 11.15am – 12.45pm | 1.45pm – 3.15pm

Venue: The Library, Park Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne

For more information on Scarlett Rugers Self Pub Hub check the conference website:


Privacy AND payment issues raised in response to ebook retailer data mining

I feel it is only fair to say upfront that, in my personal capacity, I have to this point been an Amazon supporter. They’re wonderful for customers, which is the sphere in which all my interaction with them has been to date. However, I have to ask if they have finally come up with a plan intended to antagonise traditional publishers, indie authors and readers alike?

Their latest scheme is a pay-as-you-read plan as reported in papers such as The New Zealand Herald and the UK Telegraph. If a reader doesn’t read a book in full, the author will only be paid a percentage of their royalties. So Amazon keeps all the subscription money but gets to give a smaller percentage back in royalties to the author/s.

Amazon is implementing the system on 1 July, initially only with authors who self-publish their books via the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program that makes books available to borrow from the Kindle Library and to Amazon Prime customers. Amazon’s ‘logic’ is that this is a ‘fair’ way to reward authors who write lengthy books but have previously picked up the same royalties as someone who writes a 100-page novella. Length is not the primary factor in determining whether a book is popular or well written. In fact,  it is a very poor determinant of either popularity or quality. Besides that difference in length should be reflected in the book’s price and then authors will be rewarded accordingly.

Of  course, all books in the Kindle Unlimited program are priced the same ($0), so why should  certain authors who have chosen to give Kindle Unlimited a go be penalised? Books that are more popular will be ‘borrowed’ more often and their authors will (or should) be rewarded accordingly. An author whose book is borrowed from a library – presumably the model for Kindle Unlimited – does not receive payment based on the length of their book or on how many pages the borrower read. The pay-as-you-read concept borders on farcical. Why not just pay authors on their reader review rating? No rating, no royalty. Then you really could ensure that all authors starve in garrets.

I have to ask the question: has this come about because the Kindle Unlimited borrowing program has not worked as Amazon anticipated, especially from a company income perspective? Or is it simply that Amazon wish to promote the business models of their rivals? Smashwords, for example, could benefit if self-publishing indie authors moved their business across to them. You can download a mobi (Kindle) file from Smashwords to your reader. It’s not quite as convenient as buying direct from Amazon because books bought from Smashwords don’t seem to sync to all devices, but hey, I can live with that. It’s a bit indulgent to carry my library on more than one device anyway.

One of my pleasures as a reader is to know that when I buy a book the author I am supporting earns income. Sometimes (erm, okay, let’s make that ‘quite often’ … okay, ‘very often’) I buy books that I know are going to go to the very bottom of my TBR pile because I want to read them in the future, or I want to support a promising new author or a friend, or because I am looking for something different I may or may not like, or just … because.

I intensely dislike the thought that Amazon may use my buying patterns to penalise authors, especially when one of the reasons I am a big ebook and Amazon supporter is the price factor. eBooks are much cheaper than paperbacks. I’ll take a chance on a new author and stack my virtual bookshop with appealing reads because we’re talking a price range that averages $0.99 to $6.99. I can easily get anywhere from two to seven ebooks for the price of one paperback and spread the love. But my love is intended for the author. I don’t want Amazon or any other retailer gorging on it.

And, on a creepy note, I am starting to feel stalked. Both Amazon and Kobo have openly admitted to accessing reader data on how many pages of a book on average are read; how long it takes between purchase and reading etc etc. If they are doing it, presumably other eretailers are too. My request to ebook eretailers is to kindly stick to your business, selling, in your shop and stay out of my living room and my bedroom. I didn’t invite you in. I didn’t respond to a survey. If my local bookseller came and peered through my window every day to check on my reading habits, I would have them arrested. I’m wondering why you don’t suffer the same fate? I certainly don’t buy the ‘anonymous’ line. It doesn’t work for the Peeping Tom spying on a woman he doesn’t know, and it shouldn’t work for Big Business either.

What are your thoughts as a reader, author or publisher? It would be particularly interesting to hear back from authors who use the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program.



Call to action to RWA members and other supporters of romance

A new organisation called Women in Literary Arts Australia (WILAA) has been launched to support women working in the literary industry. It was founded by writer and producer Lefa Singleton Norton. Other founding members include Lisa Dempster, the Melbourne Writers Festival CEO, and Kate Callingham, the Emerging Writers Festival General Manager.

Lefa said that a 2014 roundtable of women in writing and publishing industries found that there was ‘a lack of centralised information and formal networks of support for women writers’. She added that WILAA aimed to fix this by finding practical ways to support women to excel, such as networking opportunities, mentorships, events, workshops and marketing campaigns.

WILAA will conduct a nationwide survey over the coming months to determine what is most needed in terms of support systems. It will also research the representation of women on Australia’s ‘literary stages’.

You can find out more about WILAA and their objectives on their website. You can also fill in their initial Survey. This is where our call to action comes in. I’ve done the survey and noticed with disappointment that although our genre sister authors in crime are mentioned, romance does not get a look-in. Neither does fantasy. There is an open-ended final question that I used to address this, and in this case, as in many others, I reckon the more the merrier!


Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Edit Like a Rockstar!

This session will be presented by Lauren K. McKellar on Friday 21st August at 1pm.

With indie publishing on the rise and a large number of vendors out there, it’s important to get the right editor for you. Learn how to choose an editor, discover five top tips to make your manuscript edit-ready, and find out all about the common editing traps self-published authors fall into.

About your presenter:

Lauren K. McKellar is an editor for both self- and traditionally-published authors. With more than ten years experience in the editing industry, she is obsessed with words and likes the way they work. As Runner Up Editor of the Year in the Publishers Australia awards in 2013, she has extensive experience in assisting fiction and non-fiction works grow. In addition to editing, Lauren is also an author of Young and New Adult contemporary romances.

Lauren lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with her husband and their two super-cute puppies. Most of the time, all three are well behaved.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Lover of words and promoter of feelings.

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

With self-publishing on the rise, it’s so important to have your book edited. Sadly, I’d guess about 30 per cent of my clients come to me for a ‘re-edit’, after experiencing a bad job the first time around. I think awareness about getting the product you pay for and knowing what you can and should expect is essential for a self-publishing author.

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

I love meeting new people and just feeling inspired! Walking away from this environment, it’s impossible not to want to write … right?

What will participants take away from this session? 

I want participants to come away from the session feeling well equipped to hire an editor for any self-published works. We’ll also have a checklist of common mistakes self-published authors make when it comes to editing. It’s about empowering you as an author to make the best decisions for you.

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

Seeing Angela Ackerman. I always recommend her books to my clients, and use them as Christmas gifts; it will be great to see her speak in person.

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

My latest release, The Problem With Heartache, is the conclusion in my Crazy in Love trilogy. It’s a YA/NA crossover, and 10 per cent of proceeds of the first book (The Problem With Crazy) go straight to Huntington’s NSW, an organisation dedicated to assisting those who suffer from this horrible disease.


Social media links:






Instagram: @LaurenKMcKellar

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Scene Diagnosis: useful tools to take your scenes to the next level

This session will be presented by Alison Goodman on Saturday 22nd August at 12pm.

A practical workshop that will give you some great tools to diagnose the strength of your scenes. For maximum worth, bring along a scene of your own and apply the techniques as you go.

About your presenter:


Alison Goodman is the author of four novels including EON and EONA, a New York Times bestselling fantasy duology which has sold into eighteen countries and been translated into ten languages. She has won the Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel (EON aka The Two Pearls of Wisdom) and for Best Young Adult novel (Singing the Dogstar Blues), and was the D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is currently working on a new historical/supernatural series and having far too much fun researching England in 1812.

Visit Alison’s website at

Ruby Finalists

We are delighted to announce the finalists for the RWA Romantic Book of the Year (Ruby) 2015.  Drum roll please for our finalists (in alphabetical order by author within each section):

Short Sweet:

Dr. Perfect On Her Doorstep – Lucy Clark

Waves of Temptation – Marion Lennox

A Little Christmas Magic – Alison Roberts

The Maverick Millionaire – Alison Roberts

The Tycoon and the Wedding Planner – Kandy Shepherd

Short Sexy:

Wanting What She Can’t Have – Yvonne Lindsay

Romance For Cynics – Nicola Marsh

Tycoon’s Temptation – Trish Morey

Damaso Claims His Heir – Annie West

Long Romance:

Risky Business – Amy Andrews

Deadly Secrets – Sarah Barrie

Moonlight Plains – Barbara Hannay

Attraction – KM Golland

Romantic Elements:

Flight to Coorah Creek – Janet Gover

The Trader’s Reward – Anna Jacobs

Outback Ghost – Rachael Johns

The Lace Balcony – Johanna Nicholls

Riverboat Point – Tricia Stringer

As usual, competition was fierce, and all our entrants deserve congratulations. Winners will be announced at the conference in August. Thanks to our reader judges, and the hardworking contest managers, Annie Lynch and Gemma McBride.


US indie bookstore numbers have increase for the sixth year in a row. The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has recorded an increase in independent bookstore members for the sixth year in a row, adding 48 new members. Indies now number 1712, up from the low of 1401 in 2009. This is good news for authors given the most indie booksellers are driven by a passion for books and a love of reading rather than the financial values which often dominate in big companies and corporations.

Oren Teicher, the ABA CEO, announced the figures during a speech at Book Expo America. He attributed the growth to a number of factors, including:

  • Slowing ebook sales (Nielsen reported a 6% drop in unit ebook sales in 2014 as compared to 2013, mostly in nonfiction),
  • ‘Buy-local’ movements, and
  • Publishers’ willingness to ‘rethink outmoded business practices’.

The ‘buy-local’ movement is also popular in Australia. First initiated by farmers and other food growers and suppliers, it has now spread to many different industries, including books. The Australian Booksellers Association coordinates an annual event called ‘Love Your Bookshop’. It will be held on 8 August this year. The public is asked to vote for their favourite bookshop, nationally and by state. Bookshops also put on special events, even, in some cases, asking their favourite local authors to be stand-in booksellers for a few hours on the day!

Australian Booksellers Association promotes National Bookshop Day

I have a number of favourite ‘local’ bookshops, including Abbeys and Kinokuniya and Dymocks George Street in the Sydney CBD, Pages & Pages in Mosman, Berkelouw Books in Mona Vale and Booktopia. Does anyone else have a local bookshop they would like to give a shout out to?


Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Historical Panelist Spotlight: Christina Brooke/Christine Wells

Christine Wells will be presenting as part of the Historical Panel on Saturday 22nd August at 9:30am.

christine-newGolden Heart winner and two-time RITA finalist Christine Wells is the author of 10 historical romances for Berkley, St. Martin’s Press and Penguin Australia. Her novels have been translated into Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and German. Her next historical, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE, written under the Christina Brooke pen name, is out now. Christine recently sold the Australian/New Zealand rights to a time-slip novel in the style of Kate Morton to Penguin Australia.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

I love having written.

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

I am thrilled to be asked to participate alongside such brilliant and beloved authors. I have a funny story to tell about my first meeting with Mary Jo Putney but I’ll keep it for the panel!

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

Yes, I’ve presented a few sessions at RWA over the years, as well as at the Brisbane Writers Festival, Genrecon and for the Queensland University’s creative writing course.

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

There are so many wonderful aspects of RWA conferences but my favourite is catching up with my writer friends and my editor. It’s exhilarating to run with your wolf pack, to talk about writing non-stop for days on end with people who understand.

What will participants take away from this session?

Historicals are not dead! But they are due for a revival. Where that will come from and what form it will take is the question. This is my opinion, not necessarily that of my fellow panelists.

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

The name says it all, don’t you think? I’m looking forward to a renewal of energy for us all. Writing can be tough and lonely so connecting with our peers never fails to benefit us. Plus, I love Melbourne!

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

My latest historical romance release is THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE but I’ve sold SEAGROVE, a historical mystery, to Penguin Australia. Not sure of the release date yet but it will be early 2016. I have a website for each pen name (below).

Social media links:

Blog/website: &


Twitter: @chrstnabrooke @wellsbooks


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