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Sunday, 31 March 2013

New website to celebrate Mine to Avenge Blog Tour

I have spent this Easter weekend preparing for the upcoming Mine to Avenge Blog Tour, which is now only two weeks away. All the posts have been sent off to the host bloggers to prepare, and I have launched a new website.  This website brings everything together all in the one place.

Everything about Mine to Avenge is there including the Press Release from the publisher, Love of Books, the book trailer, photos of the book launch and three chapters for free download for those who might be thinking about purchasing the book. Of course purchase links are there as well.

To further help those who are considering purchasing the book, I have also posted links to the reviews. The site also links back to my blog and my blog back to the website so I can continue to interact with readers, and I have a growing page of links to people and websites who are wonderfully supportive to the Indie Community.

All the details for the upcoming blog tour are there under the one tab, with links to the hosts and their blogs, plus details about each post. Please check it out, and get to know the hosts beforehand if you have the time.

As a further lead in to the tour, I have posted a radio interview I had late last year on the local ABC radio network, for those who are interested.  And tomorrow (Monday 1st April), I have an interview going live with the wonderful Clive Eaton on his blog, so I will post the link to that when it’s live.

I am looking forward to the tour very much and am so grateful to the wonderful hosts who have so willingly stepped up to support me and Mine to Avenge.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Recording holiday memories - any ideas?

As I have shared in an earlier post, I am looking forward to a trip to Europe at the end of the year. It will only be for three weeks but I plan to make it the trip of a lifetime and cram in as much as I possibly can during that time.

But I am already thinking beyond that to my return, when I will be able to sit down and chronicle my travels in one way or another. And that brings me to the topic of this post. I’m wondering what might be the best way to do this.

Being a writer and an arty/crafty person, I already have some ideas, but would like to open this up to others who may have already done something unique to record a special journey or holiday. I am a keen scrap-booker  - though I haven’t done much of this for a while, as writing has been a priority with the release and promotion of Mine to Avenge.

As I writer I can keep a journal of my journey and blend that with scrapbooking. I could use my drawing and painting skills in a travel sketchbook. Maybe I could write myself a daily letter and illustrate it with what I did for the day.  

I can envisage some problems with going alone, in that it will be difficult to get many photos with myself in them. I feel a little cautious about asking strangers to help out all the time. I am wondering how other lone travellers deal with this issue, or have you found that people are usually happy to oblige?

What are some unique ways you have used or know of to record your travels? I’d really love to hear about them as I seek some inspiration.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Mine to Avenge Blog Tour - schedule and posts

The Mine to Avenge Blog Tour Schedule

 This tour will run from April 15th - April 26th.

Monday 15th April
Time 2 Blog - Engelia McCullough
Post: Mine to Avenge Chapter 1

Tuesday 16th April
The Australian Bookshelf 
Post: Setting the Scene for Mine to Avenge

Wednesday 17th April 
Author Interview

Thursday 18th April
 That Thing I Said
Interview and Guest Post:
Thoughts on Marketing and Promotion

Friday 19th April
Lost in a Good Book
Guest Post: Justice and vengeance - what's the difference? 

Saturday 20th April  
 Spread Your Wings - Pete Abela
 Character Interview: 
Interview with protagonist, Alcandor Galanos

Sunday 21st April 
Francine LaSala's Clippings in the Shed
Guest Post:
The differences between a generational saga and a regular novel

Monday 22nd April
 Daystarz's Books
Character Interview:
Interview with antagonist, Constantine Anastos

Tuesday 23rd April
 The Never Ending Bookshelf
Author Interview and Giveaway

Wednesday 24th April
 Maryann Miller's - It's Not All Gravy
Guest Post: 
Returning to my favorite childhood books and movies

Thursday 25th April
 Novel Girl
Guest Post:
Building fictional characters and making them real

Friday 26th April  

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

When someone rains on your parade

This year is going to be a long and difficult year of waiting - not so much with respect to waiting for my novel to become more widely read, but because I’m finally going to be doing something I have waited almost 54 years to do - and that is to go on a trip to Europe.

I have always wanted to travel to Europe. It has been a dream all my life. As a teenager, I went to the local library most nights after school and came home with my favourite fiction, such as Agatha Christie, but also always a travel book of some kind. I’d sit down with these books and plan my itineraries for future European holidays, hoping that I’d earn enough money to do them all.

Well, it seemed that wasn’t to be. My life went in a direction where money never featured. It had many ups and downs along the way - a lot of happiness, raising my three boys and a lot of sadness, for other reasons, but the sadness was never because of lack of money.  Money has never been really important to me at all, and I had many years as a sole parent learning the best way to manage what I had while bringing up my family. I was quite proud of my frugality and was able to give my boys a happy life, without them even realising that we had very little money.

Due to someone’s generosity, in 1998 I was given an overseas trip. I went to Indonesia for a month to stay with friends, and had a wonderful time, although I realised it would be my last Asian trip, as I couldn’t deal with the humidity. However, it rekindled the European dream, even though my financial circumstances were still not conducive to having such a trip on the radar. So I continued to read articles, clip pictures from travel folders, watch travel shows and continued to armchair travel through my love of movies.

It was only in November last year, that my life finally turned a different corner financially - not in a big way, but still making the dream of a European trip finally possible. In February I finally bit the bullet and am doing a three-week itinerary in December this year, taking in just a little of the treasures of Europe I’d like to explore, but it’s finally happening.

I debated it for a long time, and thought maybe I should wait longer as there is so much I want to see, and three weeks won’t be nearly enough. I sometimes think that perhaps I should have waited another year when I would have more leave and more savings. 

The thing is, we don’t know what life holds just around the corner. All sorts of things can change. So I’ve decided to seize the moment and am heading off in December to Paris, Brussels, Nice, Monte Carlo, Geneva, Salzburg, Vienna, Marburg and London.

However, while many have been excited with me and for me, I have also come across some who have said such things like, ‘Well, don’t boast about it. It’s mean. I can’t afford to go and never will.’ Others have said I need to be careful where I talk about it as it might upset people who can’t afford to go.

I really struggle with this. I am very sensitive to the plight of others. I take a lot of care not to talk all the time about the trip. I’m not a financially rich person - never have been and never will. I have spent most of my life in the same circumstances of these other people I might offend if I mention my holiday in their presence. I grew up in the same kind of low socio-economic areas. I know how it feels when you have a dream you can’t afford to fulfil. However, never during any of those years was I bitter because I couldn’t afford such a trip. Never did I begrudge hearing someone else excitedly plan their trip or talk about it when they got back, whether they were wealthy or not. I was always first in the queue for a photo night after the trip. I was particularly thrilled when I heard that some ‘battler’ had managed to save for their dream trip after a lot of hard work and sacrifice to do it.

So this attitude has puzzled me a little bit - the tendency to want to rain on someone else’s parade with mean-spiritedness. It’s caused me to not want to say anything now unless I’m asked. Recently I told someone about the trip for the first time, waiting for what I deemed was an appropriate time, and that person told me off for not saying anything earlier. I guess it is impossible to do the right thing by everybody, no matter how hard we try. 

Anyway, I am going to enjoy my trip, and will talk about it now and then. I won’t be gloating or boasting, but I am excited, and I want to share my excitement with others. 

I actually started this post with a completely different idea in mind, so I will leave that until the next post - favourite ways of recording holidays for posterity.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Presenting the Mine to Avenge Blog Tour

Presenting the Blog Tour

 This tour will run from April 15th - April 26th.

Monday 15th April

Tuesday 16th April

Wednesday 17th April 

Thursday 18th April

Friday 19th April

Saturday 20th April  

Sunday 21st April 

Monday 22nd April

Tuesday 23rd April

Wednesday 24th April

Thursday 25th April

Friday 26th April  

Friday, 8 March 2013

Why I like my job

For the first time in my life, my day job is a job I love. I work as Case Manager in a program for parents who are in the process of separating from their partner. In Australia, if a couple wants to go to court to sort out their differences, it is compulsory for them to do everything in their power to sort out their differences through mediation first. The courts won’t consider them until this has at least been tried.

The organization where I work offers such mediation for separating parents, but before they can have mediation, it is compulsory that parents attend our Parenting After Separation workshop, to assist them to develop the skills they need for a successful mediation - namely better communication skills with their ex-partner, and also learning how to maintain a child focused approach throughout the process. 

There are several aspects to my role. Every 2-3 weeks, I run the four-hour post-separation parenting workshop. The couples don’t attend the workshops together, but they are booked in to attend separate workshops, so that they feel easier about participating. It wouldn’t be conducive to positive group interaction to have the warring partners together in the same workshop.

The group can be an emotional experience, as we watch some confronting videos during the session, which clearly depict the impact of unresolved conflict on children. This is the focus of the workshop. If parents must break up and the rupture of the family is inevitable, we try to give them the skills needed to become less focused on their partner issues and more focused on the needs of their children.

The second aspect to the role is ongoing case management. The organization is quite flexible as to how many appointments a client can have after attending the group, but we insist on at least one. This is the appointment where I work intensively with the client to prepare them for their mediation, ensuring that they haven’t overlooked anything that they might want included in a parenting plan.

I certainly enjoy running the workshop, knowing that I might be helping to make a break-up a little less traumatic for children, but it is these case management interviews I really enjoy. The first appointment is where I get the chance to find out if the parents have taken the information and skills on board. Some parents have clearly made a shift, but others come to the appointment with no agenda other than to attack and blame the other partner, not even able to see how their children are being impacted by their behaviour.

Although I case-manage the parents individually, I still work with both members of the couple, and this is what makes the work so interesting - I get to hear both sides of the story. It is amazing how very different each version is. They might match up a little in places, but in others, it’s as if they are talking about a completely different experience.

Although it’s not my role to work out who is telling the truth, and who is lying, my mind automatically tries to solve it like a crime. I wonder who is telling the truth. Who is lying? How can I tell? He says she did this, but she says he did that. She says he was physically abusive. He says she was verbally abusive. I find I tend to believe one over another, and it is interesting that it is usually the partner whose version I hear first, but in several instances I have been swayed when I heard the second partner’s version.

Of course, the skill of the role is in not allowing any bias to be obvious. My role description is not to work out who is lying and who isn’t, but to provide an equal support service to each partner without judgment, preparing each for their mediation, referring them on to other services if needed, and to assess whether or not they are being child focused as they move on or just continuing with partner bashing. I know that I have succeeded when I develop a rapport with both partners, and both continue to seek me out for ongoing support.

I know that often I am hearing truths, half-truths, embellishments, exaggeration, and outright lies, however most of the time I know I am hearing two genuine people who are telling extremely different stories, but both stories are part of a bigger truth, yet still not the whole truth. I hear awful things, selfish and tragic stories, but also many wonderfully selfless and inspirational stories from parents willing to go the extra distance to spare their children unnecessary hurt - parents such as the mother in the time of King Solomon, who would sooner give up her child than have him or her torn down the middle.

The anger, rage, bitterness I see, are symptoms of a deeper pain, but the hurting parents usually have the skills to go to someone and ask for help. But what of the children - the children who are torn between both parents because they love both and want to be with both? I have not heard of any instances yet where children have turned up at our front counter, or rung in seeking help to escape the constant conflict.  They don’t have the skills to seek help or the maturity to express what’s going on for them. They suffer alone and in silence. If my job can help parents to forget themselves and remember their children, then I think I’m doing something extremely worthwhile.

Friday, 1 March 2013

More free opportunities for book promotion

I’d like to share another selection of links today to people and sites that are so wonderful with their generous support of author promotion. I am hoping to eventually put these links together under a specific tab on this blog as an author resource.

Today’s first link is to The e-reader House. The e-reader House Facebook page promotes itself as a home for independent authors and independently minded readers. Authors are actively encourage to post information about their books, book reviews and so on. It’s a great resource for authors and readers.

Today’s second link is to New Book Blogger, hosted by Glynis Smy. This blog promotes authors and their books with a free listing. Glynis welcomes and showcases all kinds of books, including traditionally published authors and self published authors. She is currently booked up way ahead, so if you are interested in being featured on her blog, keep an eye out for her updates for openings further down the track. Submission guidelines are on the page. 
Find Glynis and her blog at -

Today’s third and final link is another Facebook page - Writers Club: Tips For Writers From Writers. This site also offers nothing but shameless free promotion for authors and their books, so if you are an author looking for a chance to show off your book, don’t waste the opportunity.

Writers Club: Tips for Writers From Writers on Facebook