Edition 19: Night Blooming by Jason Nahrung

Like to step out on the edge. Nice little read from Jason Nahrung and SQ Mag

SQ Mag

A teenager in love with the darker side of life has disappeared. Detective Shane Hall, struggling with her personal demon, follows the trail to parts of Brisbane’s seedier side, The Valley. She must keep control to find the missing young woman, and for her own self-preservation. SY

Deborah Brown—Jazmine Nocturna to her friends—had it bad for the unliving. Shane stood in the teenager’s bedroom, taking in the nu-vamp celeb posters, the black lace, the incense.

The girl’s mother stood at the bedroom door. Ms Brown wore a pencil skirt and heels, a crisp white blouse, but stray hairs were pulling free from her tight bun, and the shadows under her eyes showed through her makeup. Early to mid-forties. Gym toned, suntanned, a gold cross above her modest cleavage. No wedding ring, but a pale line where one had been. She radiated anxiety.

Join the club, sister.

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Wish upon a WriteFest

A K Leigh

AK Leigh





AK Leigh lives with her husband, three energetic children and one grumpy cat in Ipswich. A self-confessed book lover, an identical triplet (how cool is that) and the holder of a graduate degree in counselling, she is also the author of debut novel, See Her Run. Extract available here.

Find her online at http://www.fallinlovewithleigh.com




Q. This is your first published novel. The first question has to be, ‘How did you get published?’ so, do you mind sharing how you filled the void between finishing the novel and achieving a deal with Momentum.
A. I began by submitting See Her Run to a handful of agents, and entering it in competitions. I received the standard “not for us but keep trying” response. Finally, I applied for an interview with (Acquisitions Editor at Pan Macmillan) Haylee Nash and was offered a contract with Momentum as a result. All up, it took a little under two years. It felt like a hundred!

Q. Those ‘not-for-us’ responses can be disappointing, especially when you call Ipswich home. For a Queensland writer, Ipswich has to be pretty ideal as far as proximity to the local publishing business. Location, location, location and all that. But you finally struck gold at WriteFest. How did that come about?
A. I actually Googled something like “writing conventions Australia” and WriteFest popped up in the search. I had been to Bundaberg before, so I knew a little about the area. Of course, I knew about the turtles and the rum and Bert Hinkler is one of my husband’s heroes.
The Masterclass, and the fact it was run by an Editor, caught my eye. I wanted to do as many things as possible to improve my writing and a WriteFest Masterclass seemed like a good place to start. The first year (2013), I also applied for an interview but didn’t get accepted.

Q. So, another disappointment. Another polite refusal of the MS. But you came back in 2014.
A. Yes. I’d enjoyed my first trip to WriteFest, and the masterclass really helped me. I learned so many things about writing that helped me make my manuscript better than I could have without the experience. But it was when I saw there were publisher interviews in 2014 that I thought I’d give it another shot (despite not being successful the year before). I had completed a lot of work on the manuscript in that year and thought it was time to test it out on a publisher instead of an agent.See-Her-Run

Q. You’d been working on the story for some time at that stage, well past first draft. Realistically, it should have been as ready as it could be. But I can tell you, half the trick is finding the publisher (or agent) who speaks your language. I guess everything came together with Haylee Nash in 2014.
A. Haylee was brilliant. She was supportive and easy to talk to throughout the entire process. She made me feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment we met. She said the first three chapters grabbed her attention and made her want to keep reading. That was nice to hear!

I wanted to show women coming out of similar experiences that there was a way to move through the trust issues and find love again.

Q. Always good to hear all those workshops about creating hooks were value for money! But it wasn’t just the hook gave this story legs. I believe See Her Run has its roots in personal experience. Drawing on a powerful experience can really drive a story forward. I hope you can give us a quick run-down – without giving the plot away.
A. The story deals with the fallout of escaping an abusive relationship. I wanted to show women coming out of similar experiences that there was a way to move through the trust issues and find love again. The story’s set in rural North Carolina, a place I’ve visited and fallen in love with. If anyone ever gets the chance to go to Asheville, do it!

Q. Well, that answers my next question (which would have been, ‘Why North Carolina,’ but tell us why you chose a rural setting over something urban and gritty. This is Romantic Suspense.
 I like the space and fresh air of the country (and have lived in the South East Queensland country – Lockyer Valley – before), plus the location came by itself. Other writers will understand what I mean.

Q. You’ve said your first ever story came out of personal experience too, when as a school girl you wrote a romance about a boy you had a crush on, so you’ve obviously a natural inclintion towards the romance genre.
A. Yes, I am very romantic by nature, just ask my family. But, it actually took me a long time to admit to myself that I wrote romance – because of the stigma often attached to it. I have had family members and friends say to me “why don’t you write something serious?” (grrr!)
I love romantic suspense, and am currently working on both the sequel and prequel to See Her Run, which will both be romantic suspense.

Q. Have you committed firmly to Romantic Suspense?
A. It is not the only genre I’m interested in. I’ve completed three contemporary romance manuscripts (still deciding what to do with those) and have half a dozen semi-complete manuscripts in the paranormal romance, time travel romance, fantasy romance, YA romance, and of course romantic suspense, genres.

Q. So, getting published is one thing, but the job’s not done yet. I’ve noticed you’re an active marketer. And you’ve some great reviews across a wide spectrum of sites. And your blog address is very cool.
A. Thanks. I think it helps to have your presence out there. I had my website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook social media organised before See Her Run was published. I decided early on to use something catchier than my name for my website address, which is when I came up with the slogan “Fall in love with Leigh”.

Q. Yes, I like the way it plays with meaning. Catchy. But, last question, are you coming to Bundaberg for WriteFest again this year?
A. Of course. I enjoy networking with other authors and believe that a writer should never stop trying to refine their skills.
But also, there is a great line up this year. In particular, I am looking forward to Graeme Simsion and Shannon Curtis’ classes.
And then there are people I have met through previous years and who I want to catch up with.

If you want to catch up with AK Leigh, follow her on  www. facebook.com/AuthorAKLeigh or Tweet @AKLeighAuthor.  Her blog is http://www.fallinlovewithleigh.com

Writing my first published novel – Sue-Ellen Pashley.


Sue-Ellen Pashley. Author of Aquila.



Sue-Ellen Pashley started drawing stories before she could write them down but it was only when her small school in inland Queensland hosted an author-talk that she fell in love with the idea of being an author one day herself. 

Now a resident of Benaraby, Sue-Ellen admits that Uni, work and motherhood could only put that dream on hold for so long, and now her first novel, Aquila, has been released to the world by Random Romance, an imprint of Random House. Available as an e-book.

Nick? Grace likes him, against her better judgement.


Q. You’ve always liked telling stories, but you say that after you grew up you didn’t write for a long time, despite your desire to be an author. What drew you back to writing?
A. Essentially, I really missed it and none of my other creative outlets seemed to be filling the need. I really wanted to tell stories.

Q. You had children at home then. One quite little.
A. Three great kids – all of whom needed something different from me – love (of course), taxi service, cook, housekeeper, counsellor, reading buddy. And all three are still are home.

Q. What about work.
A. Oh, I was working part time.

Q. Now I first met you, I think, at a Mentoring the Muse retreat here in Bundaberg.
A. Yes. I’d finished a young adult manuscript. I knew it needed a lot of work, but it was finished.  Mentoring the Muse came up, the MS was selected, and I worked with Sandy Curtis.  She very diplomatically went through some things I might need to consider. It was a steep learning curve.

Q. And so… Aquila.
A. I wish. I wrote another seven young adult novels and three children’s picture books, as well as a middle school novel, before Aquila.

Q. So, tell us about developing Aquila. Obviously you worked on it a great deal. Applying what you’d learned writing those other novels.
A.  WriteFest was instrumental in getting the story in front of people in the know, and in giving me the confidence to take Aquila further. Through WriteFest, I attended four Masterclasses and met, one-on-one, with professional editors, which has been invaluable.

Q. How did you find the process? I mean, these are people who work with Australia’s major publishers…
A. The first was a bit nerve wracking. Especially when I realised I had to prepare a synopsis. They are not my forte. But the size of the classes, the other writers … it was great.

Q. But the Masterclass presenters…
A. It’s been a great atmosphere with every one of them. Relaxed. Friendly. A shot in the arm for enthusiasm. It was great.

Q. And Aquila. Aquila_cover
A. I took an almost finished Aquila to a Masterclass and got some great feedback. So I took it next year and after that, contacted one of the editors for a structural edit – which was awesome. Another learning curve. Fast forward to pitch with yet another editor and then, on February 25, this year, 2015, Aquila went out to the world.

Q. Those unpublished works – are you thinking of revisiting them?
A.  I think about revisiting these stories sometimes, now that I have a bit more writing experience under my belt, but there always seems to be a new story to write about … and who can resist a fresh idea with new characters to torment?
But with two more MS on the go and a third  that I started this morning (I hope Random might be interested in it as well) I can’t stop now that I’ve started again.

Q. So you don’t work on one project exclusively.
A. Not really. Which I’m told is crazy but it’s just how my brain works. I do work on one fairly exclusively in the final edits though. For instance, I’ve just finished a novella that I’m hoping to put out as a set with three other talented writers – all WriteFest attendees, and members of BWC.

Q.How on earth do you manage to produce so many words? You must write all day.
A. My family are very patient when they see me in front of the computer! Usually I’m able to do some writing in random spaces during the day when I get them, but I’m a morning person, so 5am writing sessions before everyone else is up means that I can be really productive.

Q. That’s a good tip for morning people. Anything else you can share.
A. I think you have to realise that everything you write is a step in the process. The old adage of ‘you can’t edit an empty page’ still stands.
I highly recommend you attend workshops and conferences, like WriteFest, join writers’ groups – immerse yourself – and learn about the craft while you make contacts and friends.

You have to realise that everything you write is a step in the process. [Tweet this!]


Q. Or friends who are contacts? Or contacts who become friends?
A. Absolutely! All of the above. It’s all part of this writerly journey. Especially when you meet other writers and hear about their angst (usually similar to your own) and find out that most editors/publishers/agents are great human beings – and who would have thought that.

Q. A last word?
A. Oh, write what you enjoy writing about.

So there it is. And if you want a taste of what Sue-Ellen enjoys writing about we have an AQUILA extract for your reading pleasure.

And the only question I’m left with is: Would you trust Nick?

If you have a strong narrative ready for the publisher why not pitch this year to Alex Adsett. Next year might see you published.

However, if you’re still polishing your final draft, you should submit to Liz Filleul’s Masterclass Before you hit send – Essential self editing


Workshop – How Many Pages Make a Novel?

ShortStoryGraphicIf the short story is back, so is the novella.

Defining a story as a novella was once the equivalent of scratching the author behind the ears while muttering, “Good lad”.

And while it can be quite easy to tell the difference between a short story and a novel,  exactly what is a novella. It sounds like it should be a short novel. But could it be a long short story.

So how do writers work out the scope of a story before they start writing it.

Dr Kim Wilkins will be dropping by BWC at 80A Woongarra Street , March 21, from 10-30am to explore this very question. “You might find as you write that the story is pulling up too short, or going on far too long.”

So, are you writing a short story? A novella? A novel? A series?

This half-day workshop will help you judge the scope of your story and give you tools to help tighten it up or flesh it out.

Three dollar entry fee to cover morning tea.


If you can’t make it, let us know any questions relevant to the workshop topic and we’ll try to find answers for you.

Dr Kim WilkinsKimberley-Freeman was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published in 17 languages. She writes regular writing tips columns for the Queensland Writers Centre.

WriteFest – what writers want.

WriteFest Logo colour

Each year WriteFest organisers try to bring writers something a little different, something practical, something adventurous, something new to tempt and tease.

The mix this year is no different.

Writers’ increasing interest in Life Writing resulted in our invitation to Dr Lindsay Simpson to share her expertise. No ordinary memoirist, Dr Simpson’s latest publication investigates the Daniel Morcombe saga. As an academic with a background in investigative journalism, she appreciates the need to get the facts right and at the same time tell a gripping yarn.

Kat Apel, best seller writer of Aussie stories for Aussie kids, wants to help you discover your inner child, and learn how to translate it to a story which will empower and entertain.

Publishing and technology. Is it too much for you to get your head around? Cathleen Ross and Kandy Shepherd can answer all your questions, from writing a bio right up to how to upload to your digital selling platform. And they’ll make it seem easy.

Shannon Curtis tackles three core aspects of authorship in detail: plot structure; character relationships and building pace and tension.

And Peter Ball will be with us to represent the Australian Writers Marketplace, GenreCon 2015 and to give us the lowdown on what a writer needs to do and how a writer needs to think to create a screenplay – perhaps from their latest novel.

Check out the programme, and the presenters, so far.

More information to come about:

  • MasterClass – How to eliminate editorial issues (some of them legal) before hitting send – with Liz Filleul.
  • Agent in residence – Alex Adsett.

2014 ARR Awards: finalists announced

Sandy Curtis finalist in Romantic Suspense Category. Cross fingers Grievous Harm gets up.

Australian Romance Readers Association

Voting has opened today for the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards. Below are the finalists in each of the nine categories, as well as finalists in our three special Members’ Choice categories. ARRA members can now vote for their favourite in each category. (The voting link has been sent to all members via email.) Voting will close on 14 February.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner to be held on 7 March 2015 as part of the Australian Romance Readers Convention.

Here are the finalists. Congratulations everyone!

Favourite Paranormal Romance

  • 12 Daves of Christmas by Juliet Madison
  • Called by Fire by Delwyn Jenkins
  • Dark Moon by Leisl Leighton
  • Haunted Ever After by Juliet Madison
  • Shadow Hunter by Mel Teshco
  • Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh
  • Smash by Susan Child
  • The Curse by Jennifer Brassel
  • This is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld
  • To Love a King by…

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Grievous Harm is doing really well. Back orders piling up. Reprinting to cover the gap.
Mind you, she’s hardly in town these days. Promoting like crazy.


Author Spotlight: Sandy Curtis

Describe yourself in one word:

What is your background with regard to writing?
I always loved writing, dabbled in my youth but marriage and kids intervened, then 20 years ago I started to follow my dream again and entered and won short story competitions, wrote feature articles for magazines, a newspaper column, short stories for women’s magazines, then jumped into the full-length novel pool and swam like crazy. My second attempt came second out of 80 entries in the Emma Darcy Award for unpublished romance manuscripts from Australia and New Zealand. New Concepts Publishing published this, along with my next two books, then Pan Macmillan Australia picked up my first romantic suspense novel and published this and the next four in the loosely-linked series. The GCF hit publishers hard and it was a few years before book six was published, this time with Melbourne-based Clan…

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Writing Competition – Lyrics

A reminder that, closing the Club’s musical participation in this CRUSH Festival, the lyrics writing competition closes October 17.

And a reminder that you do not have to have attended the workshop to enter the competition.

CARL’S SCrushFestivalLyricWritingInfoPECIAL  TIPS

The good thing about workshops are they cut straight to the chase – no time for casual trawling through the net for conflicting ideas on how to write lyrics.

 Our workshop presenter, Carl Wockner, has been nominated for an ARIA – which is impressive enough – and will know the result before the end of OCTOBER. Since Carl is also judging the comp, it’s worthwhile knowing his views when you’re tweaking your words. Also, since Carl wants you to identify in your entry the VERSE, CHORUS, BRIDGE, PRE-CHORUS AND CHANNEL – should your words have them, that it might be a good idea to share his views with you below.
  1. listen to the songs you love. Look up their lyrics on the web and notice how they’re built.
  2. The chorus is the most important part of the song. It’s the part people remember and hum along with. Chorus contains the narrative hook. It stays very much the same if not exactly the same throughout the song.
  3. Verses ‘tell’ the story, sometimes in very abstract ways. From a novelists POV, they are like scenes. Verses rely on the chorus to remind people what the story’s all about. Verses change, and are hard to remember.
  4. Bridges turn the story.  It seemed to me that a bridge was similar to a dramatic turning point in a novel, where you come into a scene believing one thing and exit believing another or heading in another direction. Bridges transition the narrative from scene to scene.
  5. Pre-chorus – leads into each chorus (as it sounds like it should). It’s a couple of lines of very chorus like words, ie they don’t change substantially, but they’re harder to remember because (from the lyricist’s POV) they’ve not got the narrative hook. And generally when the muso gets to them, the music it self might be transitional – a key change or something similar.
  6. Channel – a pre-chorus that is repeated but which evolves, grows and changes, each time it’s used.
  7. Not all songs have Bridges, Pre-choruses or Channels. 
  8. You might also find an introduction useful.
  9. Write for yourself but never forget the audience.
  10. Choose a style/genre of music you like and consider writing for that style. You’ll know what subjects are common, and can think of ways to make old subjects fresh.
We also learned on the weekend that three lines in a verse seems to trouble people with guitars and is generally thought to be not a good idea, and that few singers/songwriters get away with songs that go on for more that 90secs. People like Paul Simon are special in good ways. My own thought is they end up being both singer and songwriter (and producer!).
Special tip: look at your lyrics and try them out as first person, second person and third person Points of view.
All in all, many pointers echoed what we’ve already seen applied to novel/short story writing. It’s possible that writing lyrics might actively help develop a longer prose narrative.
Sweet Home Alabama  was mentioned. If you check out the lyrics you see it features an Intro, pre-chorus, 3 choruses, and 2 Verses.  That’s right, three separate sections before the verse kicks in – immediately after the first chorus.  So a useful piece to demonstrate song structure possibilities.
FYI Taylor Swift’s latest pop offering is filled with choruses, pre-choruses, refrains, and interludes. And verses, of course.
A glance at experimentalist group Radiohead shows the chorus is often a two liner that can pop up anywhere, and that they seldom do intros – though instrumentally they favour an introductory piece.
Nickleback’s (metal)  newest has two choruses of eight lines each, a pre-chorus of two lines and three verses of four lines each, I think. Possibly.

Words+Music @ Alowishus



This year we thought, we wondered, we bounced ideas around – and they were bounced back a couple of times (ouch) I’ll tell you – but an idea solidified at last.

Our CRUSH contribution this year would be music based. Why? Cos musos need words, don’t they. And we writers do words, don’t we.

Don’t you love it when that creativity kicks in?  Especially creativity spurred on by a little healthy chaos.

Part one of our musical connection was a night of education and entertainment at Alowishus Delicious with Undercover Experience. We wanted to know a little about the inner workings of the musician’s mind.


  • great crowd of non-writers.
  • great crowd of frustrated lyricists.
  • lots of gelato eaten (it was free) , and dinners enjoyed.
  • Some dancing.
  • lyricists got to chat with musos.
  • writers shared their lyrics.
  • connections were made.
  • Our band decided to come to the Workshop, on Sunday 5.

The experience was loud. Then it was bluesy. Then it was improv around some poems clutched in hot sweaty trepidatious hands of writers club members.

To Tracey (who opened Alowishus up to us and got behind the idea), to Undercover Experience (who really caught onto the idea of being playful) and to our President, Jen (who did a great job of shepherding) a great big sloppy thanks from us all.

More about the Workshop on Sunday soon, but of course the Lyrics  Competition doesn’t close until Oct 17.  Register your entry now.

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Book Launch


What a great way to close September and crack on into October.

Our book Finding Strength in Words was launched at Oodies Cafe (103 Gavin St), in the company of the Mayor, no less (en route to a meeting I gather was flood related), Rotary reps, Ross P from the ABC and Sue Gammon (Bundaberg Library),  Uniting Care reps Anne McWhirter, Angela Wilson and Margaret Wass, Creative Regions Shelley and Wendy and Ainsley and … well, you get the picture.

A whole lot of people went into the mix to produce this book.

Pushed-to-the-wall is where creatives do their best work [Tweet this!]

And everybody thinks it couldn’t have happened without them, and everybody could be right (except, of course, that we know it couldn’t have happened without us!!)

However, the book is a jolly good looker, and the stories inside seem to have pleased people. Lorraine’s heartfelt story about the forgotten and overlooked losses was voiced by Ross, and Sharon’s ‘last words’ closed the night and ushered in the food.

Dr David Denborough is an Australian leader in creating this sort of collective narrative. Our book had already found its way to him, hand delivered, so he too sent a message to the opening. He congratulated us all, naturally, but then he gave us this one important word: Respect.

The cream-and-jam filled scones went down a treat after that.

QWC was thanked for their support. Individual writers were thanked.

It remains only for the club should to do our own thanks: To all the members who gave us a hand in producing the book; from those who attended the early discussions with the project admin and thought we might be able to co-ordinate it, to workshop attendees and to writers (especially those who bowed to the editor’s will disgracefully), not forgetting the committee who agreed that it could be done… but most of all a thank you to Creative Regions, who not only thought of BWC in the first place, but who (through no fault of their own – it was Christmas) also left everything up in the air so long we were left with almost no time to pull it all together, and so were taught yet again that pushed to the wall is where creatives do their best work.