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This month's newsletter contains:
1. The new title of my novel! 
2. What's been happening in the Attic and what's coming up
3. Notices about the Booklength Project Group and Facebook Accountability Group
4. What I've been reading
5. An interesting Podcast and Article from the web
6. Giveaway results
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Hello again everyone!

Well, I have some very exciting news this month, and if you've even glanced at the header, you'll know already! So, I'll hop straight to it and confirm that the title for my novel is:
 
The Sisters' Song

My publisher, Annette Barlow, suggested it, and I immediately knew it was my favourite. I love its gentle alliteration and it suits my story and themes perfectly, both literally and metaphorically.

In fact, it brought a tear to my eye. My book is about lots of things—motherhood, children, music, dreams—but at its heart are two sisters. After all the years I've devoted to writing it, it took someone else's suggested title for me to realise my book is really a tribute to my sister. (She was killed in a car accident in 1987—I wrote about her death here.)
 
THE EDIT

As soon as I finished the structural edits for my novel, I began trying to write this newsletter, but it wasn't going well. Then, on Tuesday my publisher emailed that she was happy with the edited novel, and suddenly, the fog lifted. I suspect my brain was staying in 'novel-editing mode' just in case it was needed, and as soon as it knew I didn't have to do anymore, it could let go and think about other things.

Structural edits aren't something you want to do every day of your life—they're rather demanding, and I was relieved when they were over. But even more than that, I felt a real sense of accomplishment.

I put my heart and soul into them. They basically took over for four weeks, consuming my brain completely for all my waking hours, and probably while I was asleep, too. I devoted myself to them with a passion bordering on the demonic—truly, I think I was a little manic. But, I can honestly say, I had a ball! For that whole editing period, I was a pig in mud—they were four of the happiest weeks of my life. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. I loved living in the world of my novel, just thinking about it to the exclusion of all else. I loved gnashing my teeth and tearing my hair out trying to get it right. I could unleash all of my obsessional traits—for the first time in my life, my obsessional personality was an asset! I've waited 50 years to be able to say that.

It made me realise that I've found my calling: I'm meant to be a novelist.

I must mention my amazing husband who made it possible. As well as working full-time, he ferried kids, cooked, made school lunches, made beds, hung out washing, brought it in when it was dry, ironed, brought me cups of peppermint tea, and dealt with homework and other kid issues, so that for the most part, all I had to think about was my book. I couldn't have done it without him. He's a walking saint and I realise how lucky I am. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
 
WHAT'S NEXT?

From here on, things get increasingly exciting! The copy edits arrive next month, the cover design's not far away, and the proofs will be ready in early May—that's less than two months' away. My heart leaps a little when I think of that!

So with all the excitement of the next few months ahead, please stick around!

MEANWHILE IN THE ATTIC 

Due to editing, this is the only blog post I've written since last newsletter. In this post, I talk about what went through my mind when I received my editing report, and the overwhelm I felt at having so much to do in a short time.

But, as you can see, it all worked out in the end—better than I could have hoped. You can catch up on that post here if you missed it.
 

COMING UP IN THE ATTIC

The Attic is a lovely place to write, but as it's three years since it's had a makeover, it's in need of a renovation. The wonderful web designer, Kristy Morton, has been working behind the scenes, designing pages, transferring a few hundred blog posts, and putting it all together.

There are still a few things to tweak before we can unveil it, but stay tuned ... 

WRITERS IN THE ATTIC

While I was concentrating on my edits, I had some wonderful writers visit the attic and keep my blog ticking over.

If you wanted to catch up with any of these posts, they were:
 
Memoir writer, Christina Houen
Dark romance writer, Vikki Holstein
Travel writer, Jessica Gately
Writer and music teacher, Glenda Janes
Poet and short story writer, Deb Wain
Writer, slam poet, backpacker and geologist, Conor Duggan

I have more great writers to look out for in the coming month, including blogger Rae Hilhorst, writer and journalist Robyne Young, and published authors Natasha Lester and Deb Burrows.

All of their essays are gems, so please pop by and have a read when you get a chance. 

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING 

THE TOYMAKER

by Liam Pieper


This was our book club read for February, and as Liam, the author, was in Perth for the Writers Festival, we were lucky enough to have as a guest at our meeting.

'The Toymaker' follows the story of three generations of the Kulakov family. Arkady, the patriarch, is a survivor of the Holocaust, and began the family business, a toyshop, in the aftermath of WWII. He's now elderly and living with his grandson, Adam, Adam's wife, Tess, and their young child. The story traces Arkady's brutal past, as well as showing the effects it's had on current, and probably future, generations, too.

It's a story of wealth, power, and corruption, and the descriptions of Nazi experiments on children during the war is not for the faint-hearted. It's incredibly well written, and the twist when it comes, is one of the best I've ever read. It completely surprises and flips the whole story on its head. It's worth reading just for that—if you can handle the brutality.

BLOODLINES
by Nicole Sinclair


This book was a complete contrast to 'The Toymaker'. Nicole and I met when we were shortlisted for the 2014 TAG Hungerford Award, so I was thrilled to read her book.

'Bloodlines' is two interwoven stories following two generations of the same family—one stream follows 31-year-old Beth, who flees a tragedy and the Western Australian wheatbelt for Papua New Guinea. The other storyline follows her parents' burgeoning romance in the 1970's, until grief and tragedy strike.

It's a story of love and family, and of making peace with yourself. It's a quiet, peaceful book, beautifully written, filled with humour and warmth. 

WHAT'S ON 

 

BOOKLENGTH PROJECT GROUP

 
If you're working on a booklength project, and would like to meet other writers working on similar projects, please come along this Sunday, 19 March, to our meeting. Our members include writers from every genre—fiction, non-fiction, memoir, short story collections. We meet at Mattie Furphy's House, Kirkwood Road, Swanbourne, from 10am until 12pm on the third Sunday of every month. Everyone is welcome and you can read more information here.
 

 

WRITE NIGHTS

These writing evenings are run by Emily Paull and Belinda Hermawan, and the aim is to facilitate two solid writing blocks, distraction-free, with prompts for those who need them.

Drop in for the next session on 28 March at the Centre for Stories in Northbridge. If you can't make that one, they're on every Tuesday fortnight, 6pm-8pm. $5 writing centre members/$10 non-members. Visit the website for more information.

 

ACCOUNTABILITY FACEBOOK GROUP


You may remember that in January's newsletter, I was struggling with procrastination. Well, that problem seems to have disappeared! Editing with a tight deadline certainly helps, but you may also recall that I wanted to start a Facebook Accountability Group and called for people to join.

A number of writers replied and we started a group—Lollygaggers Anonymous. It's fair to say that we've all done really well since its inception, and seem to be writing more than we were, or are at least conscious of when we let other things take over. Sometimes, of course, this is inevitable—one of our members had a baby, so we let her off that week! Another of our members has already completed her novel—we actually think she should be disqualified as she's obviously not lollygagging enough. 

Most of the rest of are just plodding our way there, slowly but surely. It helps me to state my weekly writing goals to someone, and at the end of the week to appraise how I went. It's also nice to pop online and find a sympathetic ear. I'm finding I'm drawn more to Facebook groups these days—Friends lists can be a bit unwieldy, but groups are smaller and more intimate.

I thought I'd let you all know about how the group was going in case anyone else out there might like to start their own group. If you'd like to know more or how to start one, just reply to this email.  

PODCAST: THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PAPERBACK

 
At this stage of my career, I'm on a steep learning curve about the world of publishing. So, when the Guardian Books podcast, 'The Biography of a Paperback' came up on my feed recently, I was more than interested.

It was a great insight into the whole publishing process, starting with editing, going on to printing, and finally to the booksellers. They interviewed the printers onsite and you could hear the presses hammering away in the background. I learnt which printers are faster (lithograph > digital), how the publishers decide what size a print run will be (they often get it wrong!), and what happens to books that don't sell (they do go to a good cause).

For anyone interested in this side of writing and publishing, it's a really entertaining podcast.


WRITER'S EDIT:
USING ALL FIVE SENSES

 
I follow the Writers Edit blog and love all their posts. I recently read this article on 'How To Use All 5 Senses To Unlock Your Fictional World'. I actually printed it out and it now sits by my computer. Some of the examples are gorgeous, like this one by Laurie Lee from 'Cider With Rosie':

'Mysterious and sparkling, still dripping with melted snow, its feathery branches filling half the kitchen, the tree was our Christmas crown.'

Using the senses can bring a reader into a scene. As writers, we often describe only what we see, because that's our dominant sense, but incorporating sound, smell, touch and taste can really bring a scene to life. We can never be reminded of that too often.

GIVEAWAY


The winner of this month's giveaway is
Lis Hanscombe.
Congratulations, Lis! A copy of ‘Books I Have Read—Books I Want to Read’ is on its way to you!

A reminder that each month I run a literary-themed giveaway and all subscribers on the newsletter mailing list are eligible to win. I realise how full our inboxes are these days, so I try to make my newsletters interesting and save special news for them. It's also why I offer a giveaway, as a reward for signing up to yet another piece of digital mail!

So, if you're reading this and not on my mailing list, pop your name down! 
That's it for this month, so until next month, happy reading and writing, and, hopefully, not too much lollygagging!
 
Louise x
Copyright © 2017 Louise Allan, All rights reserved.


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