This is not quite as prettily formatted as my original newsletter, but I'm posting it here temporarily for want of a better solution to save and archive previous newsletters. Apologies if it appears a little clunky!
The last time I wrote and edited a newsletter was more than twenty years ago. I was a relatively young officer in the British army, completing my fourth and final operational tour in the Former Yugoslavia. My job -- to edit and produce the troops' magazine, The Desert Rat. Fortunately for me, I worked with a Lance Corporal who was something of a technical whizz because I certainly was not - hence the pained expression over this prehistoric printing machine.
Having already completed three tours in Bosnia, what I loved most about this particular role was the licence it gave me to travel around the Former Yugoslavia (at least when I was able to negotiate my way through military checkpoints) to find out what the troops were really thinking and doing.
Revisiting that time has not just been an exercise in nostalgic navel-gazing: my latest writing project is a crime novel set in 1995 in Bosnia, so I've also been doing some research. Strangely enough, the devastating and tragic bushfire news in Australia that is at the forefront of most people's minds at present also brought back memories of living in a war zone ... Read more
Authors for Fireys
It would be impossible to send out this newsletter without mention of the Australian bushfires, the terrible devastation they have caused, the worry, fear and trauma inflicted on those affected, and the amazing support and fundraising efforts that are going on across Australia, and beyond, in an effort to alleviate suffering and show support. For those of us not on the front line, it can sometimes feel like there's little we can do, but that's not true. You don't have to be a Pink or Nicole Kidman. Every small act of kindness makes a difference. My blog 'How to help' gives suggestions and includes a list of charities that need your support. I'm particularly proud of the writing community's initiative #authorforfireys taking place on Twitter from 6th - 11th January - so many amazing offers and opportunities there for writers and readers alike!
Kate Forsyth is akin to Australian literary royalty, especially with regards historical novelists, as I found out at the Historical Novels Society of Australasia last year. Find out more about her latest book, The Blue Rose, and read my interview with this multi award-winning author here..
A historical short story - Fare thee well by Lou Greene
I was thrilled by the response to my short story which I submitted to the Historical Novels Society of Australasia Short Story Competition. It was in a short list of three and published in the online magazine, Backstory. You can read it for free here.
My first read of the new year was Jock Serong's 'Preservation'. Based on a real historical event, Jock Serong breathed life into this harrowing tale of survival (or not!), greed and treachery. It speaks unflinchingly of Australia's Early Settler past. I found it compulsive reading and you can find out why from my book blog here.
Aussie author books are not just for Christmas!
In December I wanted to prove and support Aussie authors because I think they're awesome. I created an Aussie Author Advent Calendar which included both my own and other authors' and friends' book recommendations for Christmas gifts. If, like me, you received a book token for Christmas, you might like to check some of these out. My blog includes the full list of recommendations and suggestions which I received. What a shame I wasn't able to fit more into the 24 Advent days - but don't forget, awesome Aussie authors are not just for Christmas!
Putting yourself out there
Have you ever thought you could do with a nudge in the right direction, or some truly expert advice with regards your writing or illustrating?
This year I've benefitted enormously from winning an ASA mentorship award and they are open again for submissions until 31st January 2020. Thanks to a grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, the Australian Society of Authors are able to offer a mentorship program for writers and illustrators, to develop their work to a publishable standard, so get your skates on!
That was about it for my first newsletter. The next one will be coming out around Easter. I have some wonderful historical authors lined up! Please subscribe if you'd like to receive it.