The Creative Heart

Cute portrait of mother and baby with closed eyes
Photo from Deposit Photos

As I write this, I am locked away in my bedroom while my husband and son play. The door is closed so he doesn’t see me and I don’t get distracted by his chubby cheeks and cheeky smile. But the door can’t block out the giggles and laughter and I want to know what’s so funny and join in on the fun, and my heart tears a little and the pull to join them is strong.

But then I look back at my laptop and the drive to write, to create, is just as strong and I keep on typing. This is who I am: mother and writer. Author and mother to a toddler who is obsessed with Cars and a baby who is just starting to show his personality. I can’t be one without the other and as my sons get older I ask myself if it’s important enough to keep doing considering it’s not necessarily paying the bills.

The dream of staying at home and writing the novel is fleeting compared to reality, as the cost of living rises and house prices soar. Most writers can’t make enough from their writing to pay the bills so they also have to work a job that is often, soul destroying compared to writing all day. Some people are lucky enough to write for a living but still have to find time to do their creative writing before or after the work that pays. The JK Rowlings, Stephen Kings and Liane Moriarty’s of the world are rarer than a day where a Kardashian or Jenner doesn’t post on social media.

In 2015, Queen Mary University of London conducted a study that revealed that only one in ten authors can sustain a living on writing alone and earned less than minimum wage from their writing. Seventeen per cent of those authors didn’t earn anything from their work in 2014 despite being recently published. The old saying of doing it for the love, not the money clearly applies. Gone are the days of massive advances and publishers taking risks on unknown writers. The world has changed and so has the golden era of publishing.

I don’t write for the money (don’t get me wrong, the money is great) but I write because I have the need to write. Ask any author and we’ll probably all answer the same way. We’ve been writing for years and it’s something that’s a part of us, a part that if not given the chance to flourish, will likely effect other aspects of our lives. Like those who are runners, or yogis, writing fulfils us, and having children doesn’t change that. If anything, it intensifies.

mother and her daughters with umbrellas in spring alley
Photo Deposit photo

While I was pregnant with my second son I was faced with the same deadline; 8 months to get my creative projects completed before my life changed once more and I may never sleep again. I had a due date for my baby, so I had a due date for my work, and if anything, this time I was even more inspired. Crazy Busy Guilty author Lauren Sams agrees. “Becoming a parent has changed my ambitions, it’s made me more ambitious, because I am aware of time passing rapidly, and also because I want to be the best version of myself, not just for me, but for my children.” Writing can be a selfish and solitary job and it is a job.

So then, when I am so time poor as it is, why would I take even more time away from my family? Speaking to other fiction authors it is the urge to create that makes us happier people and consequently, better parents. Author of The Memories That Make Us and mother of two, Vanessa Carnevale explains. “Writing is one of those things that requires a lot of commitment and a lot of trust because you don’t know where things will lead, so it’s important to focus on what brings the joy without focusing too much on outcomes to the point it detracts from that sense of pleasure.”

Vanessa Carnevale

As mothers, we quite often put ourselves last and put our families wants and needs ahead of our own, but that doesn’t necessarily make for a happy family dynamic. “I always joke that I’m a much grumpier person if I’ve had a day of no writing but it’s true. Writing makes me happy and that’s a good thing for everyone in the house,” explains The Paris Seamstress author Natasha Lester.

Lester wrote her first two books during her children’s nap times which set up a disciplined routine for when the children were older. But at the time, she had no choice but to write in that precious and golden time that is the nap. “Every day at 12.30pm when the kids went down for a sleep, I would run as fast as I could to my computer and write as many words as I could before they woke up. I didn’t even go to the toilet because the time was so precious!”

My debut novel Tumble, was written as a dare by my husband. Drowning in the research of a historical novel that I loved, but felt restricted by, I had also been working on and off on a young adult novel. It was fun and involved issues and things I was passionate about and he suggested I finish it and see what happens. After many drafts and a few thanks but no thanks from publishers, I decided I wasn’t finished with my characters stories and chose to self-publish. With a newborn.

NatashaLester001 small size
Natasha Lester

Like Lester, I  worked while my son napped and gooed and gaaed next to me. I looked at his chubby little arms and legs with rolls like a Shar Pei, and knew that I was doing this for him. This wasn’t me being selfish, this was making a dream come true and I wanted him to learn that with a lot of hard work and a little luck, anything can happen. In March 2016 we welcomed a new member into our family. Tumble was born and I had another title next to my name; author.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys and I love spending time with them, if anything, it makes me appreciate my time with them even more, but if I haven’t written for a few days I get a bit twitchy and everyone notices it. In a house that is mad, loud and non-stop (seriously, boys do NOT. STOP. MOVING) to keep myself sane, I need to create. Some people meditate. Some people punch bags. Run 20kms. Do the downward dog. Get their nails done. I write.

The same can be said for women who go back to work. Most Australian women who return to work after having a child probably do so out of a necessity to pay the bills, but for some of those women it would be because they like to work. Of the authors that I interviewed all three agreed that their writing was their job and treat it as such.

“I think it’s really important to treat the writing like a business if you do wish to make money out of it and to always be looking out for opportunities,” Lester advises. As the mother of very impressionable boys, I believe it’s important that they see the importance of hard work and the rewards and satisfaction that come with it. “I love writing, but it is also my job,” Sams agrees. “I never feel guilty about devoting time to it just as I’m sure my husband doesn’t feel guilty about enjoying his work and being good at it.”

When I went back to work part time, I was constantly asked about how I felt about being back at work and away from my son. I asked my husband if he was asked the same question. The answer was no. No one thought to ask him how he felt about being away from his child and he feels he’s missing out on a lot, but he loves his job too.

Lauren Sams

This made me question if male writers face the same dilemma as female ones. Sylvia Plath’s writing suffered when she had her children, but Ted Hughes career soared. He wasn’t effected by the children because he wasn’t the main caretaker and Plath worked in the middle of the night while her children slept. “I certainly know it is something my female writer friends speak about often,” Sams says. “The juggle between “indulging” in novel writing and being there for their families.” I wonder if the difference is that men don’t feel guilt like women do. But it’s not just finding the time to write but missing out on opportunities that male writers and fathers may not even think twice about.

“Things like writing residencies are very problematic for a lot of female writers who also have children,” Lester explains. “I just can’t absent myself for four weeks to attend a residency because who’s going to look after the kids for that time?” The 2016 census showed that Australian women are still the main care givers for children and often take a step back from their careers while their partners and father of the children go back to work full time. The census also showed that men do five hours or less housework while women do between five and fourteen hours a week. Plus look after the family and work.

All three authors agree however, that they would like to think that they would support their husbands if they had creative pursuits. “I imagine that if my husband was a writer it would be just as difficult for him to find time to fit writing in between work and the children. In fact, it would probably be harder for him since he works full time.” Carnevale says. “I left a full time corporate career in order to focus more on the the things I loved, and that meant making more space and time for my writing.”

I wonder if I feel guilty because I do work part time in a “real” job and any further time away from my children is seen as a bad thing. If I was writing full time, and I was getting regular payments, would that ease the guilt of doing something that takes me away from my children? Sams doesn’t feel the guilt that plagues me. Sams is the author of two novels, She’s Having Her Baby and Crazy, Busy, Guilty which focuses on the struggle and juggle of motherhood and having a career. Sams gets it.

“Even though I wrote a book called Crazy Busy Guilty I think that guilt is such a useless emotion. I truly love working and I always have. It really is a part of my identity and makes me who I am.”

Is it in our DNA as a woman to feel guilty? Are we as women pre-dispositioned to feel guilt as we historically are the main caregivers? As the main carers, do we feel bad for any “me” time away from our children? Or, as I have found out, has becoming mothers made us better workers? I certainly learnt with my first born that I could get a lot done in half an hour while he slept and since have applied that speed and determination to my job and my writing.

“I’m sure most parents would agree with me that they get so much more done- at work, at home – now that they have kids because they simply don’t have time to waste anymore. Becoming a mum has really helped my writing as I now work to super strict deadlines which I thrive on…I think I get more done in those three days than I ever did in a five-day week in an office!” Sams says and Carnevale agrees that motherhood as also brought an added bonus to her writing.

“Being a mother has changed my writing in so many ways. Not only has it helped me become more time efficient by learning how to squeeze writing into stolen moments, but motherhood has taught me and continues to teach me about life. The experiences parenting gives us – the joys as well as challenges –  has enriched my life but also has given me a greater understanding of emotion and empathy.”

I have now come to the conclusion that if you want something done, ask a mum. One of my friends told me I should be pregnant all the time because I’m so productive! The fact of the matter is, being a mum has made me more ambitious and much better at time management. Like the fictional people in our novels we have dreams and goals and creating those people and places makes us better humans and better mums. Carnevale sums it up beautifully.

“I have conversations about this with my children because I feel it’s important for them to know that there is value in nurturing creativity. I want my children to know that spending time on the things we love isn’t just okay, it’s an essential part of our wellbeing.”



Reality vs Ideal

Photographer unknown

Last Tuesday was a low day.  The day began well, but then it went down hill fast. The kids were happy. We went to the shops to buy party supplies for my toddlers birthday. Then I got a rather brutal rejection from a publisher (low). Five minutes later my cover designer sent me a mock up of the new FIGHT cover (high- it looks AMAZING, I can’t wait to share). Then the boys decided they were going to cry. And cry a lot. I couldn’t appease either, so I threw them in the car and we went for a drive. A two hour drive.

My toddler was ratty as he was getting over a mysterious 24 hour bug and warm weather and the baby cracks it when he hasn’t slept. This is something that took me nearly 6 months to link the correlation – sleep = happy baby. No nap equals devil’s spawn (he earned the nickname A-Hole for a few weeks).

Within minutes both kids were asleep (yay for the baby! not so yay that the toddler was asleep again) I indulged in sad music and drove up to the Dandenongs and back down again. It was a beautiful day and driving makes me happy. It calms me. Gives me time to think. Reflect. Be inspired by the music. A chance to think about my characters. But this drive had a little bit more to it.

I have written about my creative A.D.D before but I have come to the realisation that I can’t work on multiple projects like some other writers. I look at them and go, well they can do it, why not me too?

I’m stubborn. Ask anyone who knows me well, and because of this if i say I’ll do something, I’ll do something. If I don’t complete said thing I get tetchy. Angry at myself. Stressed.

Call me slow, but I have realised that due to the fact I have two very small children, soon to go back to work part time and a husband, family and friends that need to see me every now and then, I’m pulling back a little. This means some plans I’ve made and announced won’t be happening.

Unfortunately HOLLYWOOD SINS is on hold for now, and I’m not sure when it will be published. But the first book in my saga, FIGHT, will be published next year. This title will be published under my pen name CHARLOTTE GRACE as it’s a totally different genre to my normal writing. Its dark, disturbing and hopefully will have you on the edge of your seat.

I have also made the big decision to concentrate on my epic, newly retitled “Rebel Hearts”. This is a historical fiction story that has been with me since 1998 when I wrote a short story about a family in world war two. Ever since I’ve been working on it, on and off, writing here and there but getting stopped by reality and facts – stupid facts. Until now.

So dear reader, I think that will keep me busy for now. As I type this I have my baby on one knee dribbling on my hand and gooing. It doesn’t get much better than this.

I do however have a little surprise coming soon that will hopefully satisfy my fiction fans…for now. Stay tuned for more information, coming very soon. The news will drop on my Facebook page so make sure you’re following to stay up to date.


Author Interview: Elise K Ackers

For those of you who have read my book or follow me on social media, the above name may not be new to you. Or, you may already be a big fan of the author already. Elise has been the wonderful and very patient editor I’ve worked with on a few projects now. I say patient because every time I try to get on top of a creative project, life always knocks me over from behind like sick children, all day morning sickness, broken limbs, broken drains etc, but although I feel terrible on missing deadlines, Elise takes it in her stride.

Elise is another author who has been published traditionally with Harlequin and Penguin Random House but has chosen to self publish her latest series, On The Road. Here Elise explains why she has chosen to do this and gives a little insight into her world as a writer.

Elise Ackers

Tell us a little about yourself I live near Melbourne with my husband, two cats, and Chihuahua. I’m a professional editor, an author of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and new adult, and I’m now what people are calling a ‘hybrid author’ published with Harlequin and Penguin Random House.

What is your writing style, what do you like to write? I have a descriptive/narrative style, and I adore writing dialogue.

Why did you self-publish? New Adult is still an emerging genre. I could have hoped a publisher would figure out where to place it and how to market it, but in the end I had too many plans for this book to surrender the control. One for the Road is the first in my Road series, and I have a clear vision of how the series will look, when the titles will be published, etc. Self-publishing gave me the reigns.

You have been traditionally published yet have chosen to self-publish as well, why? 

Harlequin and Penguin Random House are very good to me and I love working with them both, but the Road series is something I need to shape myself. I’m fortunate to have a trilogy being released with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing over the coming months, and I’m working on a project Penguin has expressed initial interest in – so they’re still keeping me busy! I believe that being both traditionally published and self published will be a wonderful opportunity to get more titles out in more ways.

Do you prefer one type of publishing over the other? I’m too new to the self publishing world to have a preference, this is my first title – but the first of many!

What were the advantages of being traditionally published over self-publishing?

Having a team behind you is an extraordinary thing; professional editors, marketers, and the like – they make your book shine and throw the weight of their brand behind everything they do. When you self, you have to source individual professionals or do it yourself. I’m not sure if readers still see publishers’ imprints as a kind of stamp of quality … those who aren’t as familiar with the latest leaps and bounds in the self-publishing world, and the quality of work that can be found within it, may still favour brand-name products, so that’s certainly another advantage of being traditionally published.

What are the best and worst parts of self-publishing? Best: the control. Worst: I’ll let you know. I seem to have had a good experience so far!

What are you currently working on? I’m writing the second book in the Road series, The Road Less Travelled; finishing edits for a contemporary romance with Escape Publishing; and polishing another contemporary romance to ready it for submission. I keep myself busy!


What advice have you got for people who may be thinking of self-publishing? Do a lot of leg work before you hit the publish button. You want to make the best first impression that you possibly can.

Book or eBook? At this point in time, audio book! I have so little time to sit down and read lately, but I listen to audio books on the commute to and from work, and as I get ready in the morning. I’m getting through about a book a week, which makes me very happy.

If you held a dinner party, which literary characters would you invite and why?

This may sound ego-maniacal, but I’d love to have dinner with the six lead characters and their kids in my Ask Me to Stay trilogy – I imagine it would be loud, loving, and full of hilarity. They’re the kind of people I wish I could know. Failing them, probably Laini Taylor’s Karou from the Smoke & Bone trilogy (so I could find out what happened next), and Erin Morgenstern’s Celia from The Night Circus (for so many reasons).


1) What was the last book you read? The Rosie Project. Loved it.

2) Who is your favourite author? Still JK Rowling. I’m reading her Robert Galbraith stuff now.

3) What can’t you leave home without? My phone and headphones – for audiobooks!

4) What was the last song you heard? Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas. Being the Supernatural tragic that I am, it’s my ringtone.

5) What is your favourite word? (Can be in English or another language)

Damn it, favourite? Wanderlust, probably. It’s pretty much the theme of my Road series. But there are a great many from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows which resonate with me, too.

You can reach Elise at the following:







Apologies and news

girl under water
Picture via Pixdaus, posted by achang

First of all, my apologies on the lack of content on the website since my last author interview. I’ll be the first to admit I’m terrible at updating the site and have so many plans, but never seem to prioritise making them a reality.

I chose to end the self publishing author interviews as I thought I had done enough for now, and I hope you got to learn something, I know I did! There will however be one more very special one, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Until then, I will fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

Months ago I chose not to publish FIGHT and the project was put on the shelf, so to speak. The content is very dark and very different to TUMBLE and I found although the writing of the story was coming easily, the content was pretty full on. If I ever publish it you’ll know what I mean. It also became a lot bigger then I anticipated. In my mind I was going to publish a novella, while I worked on my next novel. Easy. It was going to be half the words. Ha. Not so much. I realised my characters journeys were going to be so much more then I had planned (I’m a panster not a plotter, although I always have a rough draft of what will happen, I often find the best plot twists come when I least expect it) and it was going to take a lot more time.

At this time I suffered a personal loss and found I didn’t want to be thrown down the dark tunnel of FIGHT’s world so I threw myself into my second novel, the one I had planned to write after the craziness of Tumble subsided. This one is fun, and is also flowing well and I hope to have it traditionally published due to its genre. Stay tuned…

Along with the above, I also wrote a ten minute play called The Karma Fairy. I submitted it to the Take Ten Festival, a competition run by theatre company Gemco Players where they choose ten, ten minute plays to be performed over three performances and the public votes on their top three.

I’m very proud to say that the play came runner up, so thank you the people! It was very surreal having my work performed and letting someone else interpret what I had created. Unlike book reviews where it is one person’s opinion, this is someone taking the words and making them their own. I was equal parts terrified and excited. My biggest fear? I had written a comedy, what if no one laughed?

I was the fifth play to be performed, so I was thrilled I didn’t have to wait till last, but the first 4 plays seemed to fly and then it was my turn. I’ll be honest. I had tears. I was crying silently. Were they tears of fear? Excitement? Pride? Most likely hormones but also all of the above.

The director and actors did a brilliant job and I was thrilled with what they came up with. There were some changes made, but it didn’t effect the overall feeling of the play and if anything, made it better. And the best bit? People laughed. As soon as I got my first chuckle, my shoulders relaxed and I enjoyed the performance.

I’ve also had the chance to stretch my non-fiction legs and have been writing a few articles. I’m proud to say I am now a contributor for Poppy Renegade and hoping to have a few other pieces published in the next few weeks. I love fiction and it is my first love, but I’ve really enjoyed writing articles again.


It takes a very different part of the brain to write fiction and non fiction so it’s not easy to switch between the two, but I enjoy both. Both are creative and both feed my hungry creative appetite. The creative A.D.D is still very much alive and well.

I have also been playing with The Epic again. If you’re new to the website, welcome! The Epic is a book that has been haunting me for almost two decades. Wow. That makes me feel old. It’s historical fiction and it first began as a short story written in my year 8 English class and has seen many incarnations since. I love these characters like they’re my own blood and they are haunting me. While I wait to finish their story, they remind they are still there and wait patiently.

So, I hope you understand my laziness and neglect of this child and forgive me. I hope in the next year to have completed my next novel and to have more blog posts in between, although I doubt it! But I will try.

Till my next post, happy reading, writing and creating!

Author Interview: Alessandra Torre

This month’s interview is a little different. You see, Alessandra Torre began her career as a self published author and became a New York Times bestselling author. The publishers then came calling and she did traditionally publish but despite getting what most writers dream about, she continues to self publish as well as publish traditionally.  On top of this, some of her books are being turned into movies! Not bad for someone who once said she never saw herself as a write before she wrote her first novel.  Let me introduce you to, Alessandra Torre.


1) Tell us a little about yourself
Hmmm… I’m a homebody. I am married to a ridiculously typical alpha male, we have three misbehaving dogs, and entirely too many books. I love to ride horses, take naps, and read. I started writing four years ago, and it changed my life in so many wonderful ways.
2) What is your writing style, what do you like to write?
I don’t know how to describe my writing style, except to say that it is always described as ‘unique’. I think that’s probably due to the fact that I am not trained in writing. My only training was a lifetime of incessant reading. I learned what I enjoy in a book, and the things that I hate. I think my style developed as a blend of hundreds of other writers. As far as what I like to write, that often varies. We had a tough year last year, and I wrote a contemporary romance as a way to escape the hard things we were dealing with. There are times when I’m compelled, like right now, to write darker fiction. It all just sort of depends on my mood and what plots are really pushing on my brain. hd-print-for-web-high-res-front-cover
3) Why did you self-publish?
Originally I self-published because it was my only real option. I didn’t have the confidence in my writing to go through the traditional query process, and I didn’t feel any desire to be traditionally published. I saw an easy way to put my first book online, and I took it. If it wasn’t for self-publishing, I strongly believe that I would never have started to write novels, and I certainly wouldn’t have had any published. The idea of sending out 10-20 copies and waiting on rejections… I just didn’t have the confidence to go through that process.
4) You have been traditionally published yet continue to self-publish as well, why?
The pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing is one that I weigh with each and every book. My erotic romances — I can pub those myself at a lower price point and make more than I can if I traditionally pub–plus I can maintain all of the control. In that market, I have a loyal readership, and don’t need the marketing push of a publisher. In that market, it doesn’t make sense for me to give the majority of the sales revenue to a publisher. In other markets — such as the suspense or contemporary fiction market — I need the publisher presence. In those books, it often does make sense to go the traditional route–both financially, and for the best success of the novel.
5) Do you prefer one type of publishing over the other?
I prefer self-publishing. Both for long-term financial reasons, and because I’m a bit of a control freak. 🙂
6) What were the advantages of being traditionally published over self-publishing?
Traditional publishing can open more doors than self-publishing. It’s often easier to get foreign print deals if you are traditionally published. The same with film deals. There are certain trade publications that won’t consider self-published works. Also, bookstores are often resistant to stocking self-dubbed titles, though that is beginning to get easier as my brand and audience grows.
7) What are the best and worst parts of self-publishing?
The best: Total control over my pricing, promotion, and presentation
The worst: The workload and the out-of-pocket expenses involved in the development of the novel.
8) What are you currently working on?
The Ghostwriter. It is a contemporary fiction novel about a famous novelist who hires a ghostwriter to complete her final book.
9) What advice have you got for people who may be thinking of self-publishing?
GO FOR IT. I am a huge advocate of self-publishing. I have a lot of helpful articles on my website, and the indie community is a huge source of support and information. One big piece of advice — invest in your novel. Get a great editor (I have two!) and a great proofreader (I have two!). Pay for proper formatting, and for an eye-catching, professional cover. Your book won’t succeed if it isn’t properly presented.
10) Book or eBook?
I prefer book, but 95% of what I read is ebook, just out of pure convenience.
11) If you held a dinner party, which literary characters would you invite and why?
Every one of my characters. And then I’d grill them over what they hated about their roles.
1) What was the last book you read? The Bourbon Kings by JR Ward.
2) Who is your favourite author? Gillian Flynn
3) What can’t you leave home without? pen and paper
4) What was the last song you heard? some cuban love song
5) What is your favourite word? (Can be in English or another language) biscuit (it’s my husband’s nickname for me)
For more from Alessandra you can find her at the following:

Instagram: Alessandra Torre4

Author Interview: Bree Darcy

I first became aware of Bree Darcy (aka Stephanie Pegler) when I heard her interviewed on the awesome podcast Your Creative Life. (Highly recommend all writer’s subscribe to this podcast). I was aware of Stephanie’s website Chicklit Club but not the lady behind it, and certainly not aware that despite having contacts in the publishing world, she chose to self publish. Intrigued? So was I. Let me introduce you to Bree Darcy.


Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a Perth-based journalist, who left my newspaper role to become a freelance writer/editor just before Don’t Mention the Rock Star was released (purely coincidental timing!) I am married with three kids, love music (especially Green Day) and have developed a stationery addiction.

What is your writing style, what do you like to write?

Having run a chick lit website (Chicklit Club) for nearly ten years, and reading pretty much only that genre, it would have been crazy for me to attempt anything else! I love how chick lit explores a woman’s journey through life’s challenges. There’s often romance but the story is always about more than just the relationship. I also enjoy books with humour, that keep the reader guessing, so I guess that’s the style I have tried to emulate. And I wanted to explore the theme of soulmates who never quite get it together – because I love reading those sorts of stories

Why did you self publish?

It took me two LONG years to write Don’t Mention the Rock Star and when I finished it (painstaking edit after painstaking edit), I finally did a full word count. And freaked out when I realised it was about 150,000 words – a heck of a lot longer than the usual chick lit novel. I knew that would be a big stumbling block for any publisher, and they would definitely want to slash and burn. Anyhow I went ahead and submitted my manuscript to three publishers but by the end of the first week, with a friend telling me I was nuts not to self-publish and a cover already prepared, I decided I’d do it my way! Digital publishing is such an accessible process for writers – in fact, I believe I would never have finished my novel in the first place if the choice was either waiting for a publisher to pick it up or it being stuffed in a drawer never to see the light of day again.

What are the best and worst parts of self publishing?

As someone who likes to be in control, I relished being the person in charge of deciding exactly how my book would appear, from choosing the cover to fixing its sale price. I also don’t have the patience to sit around waiting for people to figure out if they like my book enough to publish it. I finally heard back from one publisher about a year after Don’t Mention the Rock Star had been released!

The worst part is you will never get the same recognition for a self-published work – most people are more reluctant to read indies and you are often not considered a ‘real’ writer. But since I personally prefer traditionally published books myself, I can’t blame people for having that attitude. There are positives and negatives on both sides – I know enough authors to understand that having a publisher isn’t all smooth sailing either.

What are you currently working on?

I have three books in the works – not a situation I’d recommend, by the way. I’ve got two in-progress novels but I’ve halted work on those to pen a non-fiction book about book blogging to coincide with Chicklit Club’s 10th anniversary next year.rockstarphotocover

What advice have you got for people who may be thinking of self publishing?

Realise that finishing your book – while that deserves a huge round of applause – means you are only halfway there. You still have a lot of work ahead of you. Read up about the self-publishing process so you know both the technical side – how to format things properly, the rules of uploading to certain retailers etc – as well as the marketing side. While you are in pre- and early publication mode, do something every day to get your book in front of people. Be careful about how much cash you throw around, especially chasing promotional spots – I was lucky in that all my expenditures were covered before the pre-order stage wrapped up but I know of some authors who spend so much chasing that elusive top Amazon ranking that it takes several books and many years for them to turn a profit.

And don’t give your book away for free. Discount, yes. Free, no. When so many authors give their book away for free, it devalues the industry and makes readers expect to pay nothing.

Book or eBook?

For ages I was mainly reading ebooks – being in Australia it is much easier to download the latest books without having to wait for them to be posted out. Swiping a page became such second nature, I’d even try to do it while turning the page of a paperback! But recently I’ve got a big stack of paperbacks to get through and I’ve realised I really do prefer holding an actual book in my hand.

If you held a dinner party, which literary characters would you invite and why?

Bridget Jones, as long as she didn’t bring along her blue string soup.

Elizabeth Bennet, because she’s the ultimate heroine.

Both their Mr Darcys, to see if they are really that fanciful in real life.

And Kellie and Andy from my book, to talk music, celebrity gossip and see how they are getting along now.


  1. What was the last book you read? Miss You by Kate Eberlen. It’s about two people whose lives criss-cross over a decade and a half without them meeting properly
  2. Who is your favourite author? Marian Keyes – you can’t beat that amazing Irish storytelling with great heart and humour.
  3. What can’t you leave home without? Glasses – otherwise I wouldn’t see an awful lot!
  4. What was the last song you heard? Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, because my daughter and I watched a Top 100 Power Ballads on TV last night, and that came in as No. 1.
  5. What is your favourite word? (Can be English or another language) Sassy. It just sounds sassy! 

    You can find Bree (and Steph!) at the following:

    Bree Darcy website:




Author Interview: Adrian Briones

I first met Adrian at a Writers Victoria course that he was running on self publishing. His energy, enthusiasm and success with self publishing inspired everyone at the course and J.R Knight and myself definitely benefited from his knowledge.  His food snaps are drool worthy and if you’re a foodie or even if you just like food, I recommend following his Instagram. Another Melbourne based writer, I am pleased to introduce you to Adrian Briones. 



Tell us a little about yourself 

I’m the author of What the Heck is Filipino Food? which won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award and landed on the Amazon’s Best Sellers and publisher of the long running Melbourne food blog, Food Rehab.

I’ve written for publications including Broadsheet, SBS Food, contributed to several cookbooks, a regular speaker and tutor at various organisations including the Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers FestivalWriters Victoria and had quit my corporate job as the head of advertising operations at Ltd to go out on my own holding self-publishing workshops and helping writers one on one with branding and distribution. Most recently I was a key speaker at Bupa talking all things leadership and Voices of Young Leaders at RMIT University providing mentorship to our nation’s youth.

What is your writing style, what do you like to write?

It depends on the medium but I love writing about food. If I’m writing a post on the blog, I keep things casual, not at all too serious – in fact, my writing can be quite unconventional and my readers over the last 7 years have been loyal because of that, they’ve stayed part of my journey. I’ve always believed that when it comes to blogging, your writing needs to represent your true authentic self, otherwise, what’s the point?

If I’m writing a piece for a publication, then I’d of course, write according to their editorial guidelines, as hard as it is!

Why did you self publish?

I wish more authors who have/had decided to go down the traditional route of publishing are asked why they didn’t self-publish more often! It would have be one of the most liberating and fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my career.

The reasons I didn’t take my manuscript for – What the heck is Filipino Food? – to a publisher were the same reasons why I kept the project secret for the two years I was working on it. Being that it was a book so close to the heart, the last thing I wanted for the publisher to start slashing family recipes, anecdotes, chapters and most importantly, I didn’t want the pressure as I was still working long hours keeping up with deadlines at my job in advertising at the time. Self-publishing gave me the opportunity to put out a body of work that was truly unique having had total creative control over from the cover design to the comic book themed layout.

What are the best and worst parts of self publishing?

Self-publishing is running your own business – you are responsible for everything that can go right and wrong. You don’t have the engine of a publishing house to take care of day to day business matters so you must be prepared to work your butt off so to speak, as an entrepreneur.  You are accountable for invoicing, distribution, contracts, marketing, design

What are you currently working on? 

I’ve just wrapped up my self-publishing workshops and speaking engagements for this season and am helping other writer’s with their branding strategies, so now I have time to get stuck into writing my second book about Filipino food which I’m really excited about. I’m hoping to spend a couple of months in the Philippines to shoot a tonne of scenes for the book.  I’m also contributing to an upcoming anthology and cookbook being released in the US.

What advice have you got for people who may be thinking of self publishing? 

I would always start off with: Do you have the time?

What many people don’t realise is that depending on the type of book, self-publishing can be a lengthy, costly and complicated process, so proper due diligence and research is essential. A cookbook for instance is far more expensive to produce than a paperback novel as there are more considerations – photography (+equipment) or professional photographer fees, photo editing, recipe testing, ingredients, travel expenses, props and the upward costs of premium quality colour printing on top of marketing, distribution, design and editing.

Start your marketing from the very get go. Branding is the key to the success of your book. People don’t just buy you product, they are buying into your brand. I would recommend starting a blog so readers can be part of the journey, partake in the writing community from book clubs and meet ups and embrace social media but don’t continually flog your product.

When it comes to cover design, you get what you pay for. Invest in a good designer and always view their past coves and references. Research the best sellers in you genre – what kind of covers to they have, what titles draw in the numbers etc..

I learnt so many new business skills and have become an entrepreneur as a result of the opportunities gained from self-publishing, so if you’re up for the challenge of not only writing but running a business, then I would recommend it. Oh and don’t forget to hire a proof reader, editor and beta readers.


Book or eBook? 

Both – launch with one format and test the waters. Releasing another format later down the track also give the book more marketing life

If you held a dinner party, which literary characters would you invite and why?

Tough one but definitely Galadriel created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit alongside Gandalf of course. The stories they’d tell would be unreal though, I don’t think they’d eat anything and would probably burden me with that damn ring!


1)      What was the last book you read? Kinfolk Home – I’ve been doing a tonne of property renos and styling projects over the last year, so I draw my inspiration from Kinfolk’s principles on slow living and their minimalist approach to design.

2)      Who is your favourite author? So many, can’t pick one!

3)      What can’t you leave home without? Terrible, but my mobile phone. I run my business on it plus what am I going to take pictures of my food with?

4)      What was the last song you heard? Street Corner Symphony –  Rob Thomas  

5)      What is your favourite word? (Can be in English or another language) Masarap! Which means ‘yum’ in Tagalog


 You can find Adrian at the following: 

Instagram: @food_rehab
Snapchat:  @food_rehab

Facebook: foodrehab