Conference Spotlight ~ Louise Cusack

Welcome to another of our Conference Spotlights from the DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER conference.

Louise Cusack is an International award winning fantasy author whose best-selling Shadow through Time trilogy was selected by the Doubleday book club as their ‘Editors Choice’.  This series is now available as eBooks, published by Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint Momentum Books.

In 2006 Louise presented the Queensland government’s Queensland Writing Showcase in New York, and in 2009 she was invited to attend the prestigious Crossover multi-media think tank sponsored by the South Australian Film Commission.

Louise also runs her own business Writers: Working with Louise Cusack and has completed over 150 manuscript assessments and tutored more than 80 writing workshops.

At Diamonds Are Forever, Louise is presenting a workshop aimed at INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED writers called THE PANTSER’S PLOTTING KIT.


Does plotting give you a headache?  Learn special pantser shortcuts.  Bring a (max 2 page) outline of your novel with brief summaries of each scene and Louise will lead you through identifying your character’s goal, motivation and conflicts (internal and external), before ensuring your hero and heroine’s goals oppose, and then moving on to look at a template of generalised plot structure to see how your story fits into it.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Vegetarian, cricket tragic and caffeine addict published in fantasy romance.

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

I’ve been presenting writing workshops for almost a decade in writers centres, libraries, schools, universities, for writing organizations (including RWA), for writing groups and on writing retreats.  I specialise in teaching novel writing and have seen one workshop participant, two manuscript assessment clients and one mentoring client go on to become published.  Several more are currently being considered by big Australian publishing houses.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for “Diamonds are Forever”?

As a panster myself, I know how hard it is to balance the freedom  to develop characterisation alongside the requirements of a strong, compelling plotline.  Through my own experiences and those of my mentoring clients I’ve devised a method for pansters to look at their stories analytically and ensure the component pieces are forming a strong plot with a solid goal/motivation/conflict structure, which is vital in any form of genre writing.

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

While it’s fine to honour your process and let your characters lead you through your first draft, the brutal truth is that pantsers can’t afford to ignore plot.  When you’ve typed The End on your story it’s time to dissect what you have and look at the ‘big picture’ of your novel.  Unfortunately most pantsers “can’t see the forest for the trees” so this session will take participants through the process of unpacking a story they’ve written (or planned to write), looking at the component pieces and clearly identifying what they are and how they fit into the story.  Working individually and in groups, attendees will hone their own plotline and subplots, identifying any necessary rewrites to take them into Draft Two.

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

What I love most about RWA conferences is the feeling of belonging, and of the absolute lack of egos in the room!  Trust me when I say that there is no other conference like ours in Australia.  Our International guests are generally stunned, and then thrilled at how inclusive our conferences are, how easy it is for dead beginners to chat to New York Times bestselling authors or agents or publishers, and how much fun we have while conducting completely professional and hugely informative four day events.  Every year non-members attend simply for the opportunity to pitch to big publishing houses, and many end up joining once they’ve experienced the positive, nurturing atmosphere.  As an RWA member of twenty years myself, I’ve tried to attend as many of our conferences as I could, and can honestly say they’re only getting better.  I can’t wait for Diamonds are Forever this year in my home state.

Any advice for conference first-timers?

Expect to be welcomed.  Expect people to come up and introduce themselves to you if you’re standing alone.  Expect to have a laugh and have your brain crammed with a million new facts (take lots of notes or you’ll quickly forget those light bulb moments).  Expect to meet important publishing industry icons and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and express your enthusiasm for your own writing.  Expect to be asked what you’re writing by everyone from the person next to in the buffet line to the editor who’s taking your pitch, so have your honed elevator pitch ready.  Expect to come away tired but inspired (and with a suitcase full of signed books from the bookstore).  Expect to feel like you got your money’s-worth.  And more.

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

In February my backlist fantasy romance trilogy Shadow Through Time was revitalised with new covers and released as eBooks by Pan Macmillan’s digital publishing arm Momentum Books.  I’m thrilled to see the characters in these books finally reaching a worldwide audience as I’d always hoped they would.  My next ‘dream come true’ will be having Baz Lurhmann create Hollywood blockbuster movies out of the series (am allowed to dream big!)  Am also across social media chatting to readers and other writers, and talking all things fantasy romance at my: websiteFacebookTwitter and Goodreads.


Thank you, Louise.

Our next Conference Spotlight is with Romantic Supsense Panel on 11th April.

Leave a comment


  1. Looking forward to your workshop, Louise. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Baz Lurhmann movie for your books!

  2. Those new covers are to die for! Is it just me, or are the digital publishers doing better covers than print? Couldn’t agree more about the RWA conferences, Louise. Look forward to seeing you there!

  3. Thanks for the crossed fingers, Juliet! Am hoping that Walt Disney is right, and wishing upon a star brings Baz and my agent together 🙂

  4. Hey Imelda. Glad you like the covers. I love them! Momentum Books have done a great job. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the conference too!

  5. I have to agree with Imelda. Those covers are amazing. So simple and powerful. I’m sure many pantsers will love your workshop, Louise.

  6. I am getting so ridiculously excited about the conference! I love what you say about getting asked what you write. I even get asked by the guy who makes my coffee! Can’t wait!

  7. Thanks so much for the compliments re the covers Eleni and Bronwyn. Much credit to my amazing agent Selwa Anthony who worked with Momentum Books to create something I’m thrilled with. It is a strong look, and the heroines in the stories are strong so it’s fitting.

    And I must admit I’m getting excited about the conference too, starting to think about what I’ll wear to the cocktail party. So much fun!


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