Brisbane News July 2014

July 28, 2014

Lea Brisbane News for Blog















Lea Brisbane News 3



Remember my Name: Author Branding

June 26, 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to share some of my author branding successes with a fabulous group of Queensland writers, alongside successful authors Karen Tyrrell and Amy Andrews thanks to Queensland Writers Centre.

Author Branding








Now I’d like to share them with you.


 A brand is a product or service that is publicly distinguished from other products and services so that it can be easily communicated and marketed.


Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand. Branding can be applied to the entire corporate identity as well as to individual product.

This means you can brand 1) YOU and 2) YOUR BOOK/S

 Let’s look at how I did this…

Firstly I worked with website designer and photographer to create a ‘core message’ that I was a hard-boiled crime writer (with a gun) and that I didn’t write ‘cosy’ crime. You may have the talents or know someone who does to help you with this.

Then I continued this core message in my graphic book covers.  They reinforce the brand of hard-boiled crime.

Finally I created an author platform to disseminate my message.


 Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author.

 Here is a list of some of the Building Blocks of a Platform – you can see that platform is more than just an online presence. You may not use all of these but I will show you some of the ways that I have…

•       A website and/or blog with a core message and access to YOU the author and your books

 Have a browse through the Home page of my website. You’ll see that is continues the core message and also has:

  • A Menu with

– Meet the Author – info on me and where you can find me

– Contact Me – email me and subscribe to mailing list

– Visit the Library – access to books (and free excerpts)

– Go Behind the Scenes – photos and news stories about me

– Read Lea’s Blog – writing advice, appearances, guest blogs and articles

  • Hot buttons for easy access to important information and freebies
  • Links to social media pages


  • Spread the word on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and the like

Continue the core message on your social media pages. My Facebook background is a crime scene. Create a presence on social media but follow the rule of thumb that for every 10 posts only one should be directly selling your book. Let people know about you and post and blog on topics related to your book or the craft of writing. Set up a mailing list to let interested readers know what you are up to.

  • Individuals of influence that you know who can help you market at no cost to yourself, whether through blurbs, promotion, or other means

Writing is a business of making contacts – get to know other authors and industry people. Many have re-blogged my message and posted pics of us together at events. Don’t be afraid to network and mention to everyone you meet that you’ve written a book. This can lead to all sorts of opportunities. I mentioned it in conversation at corporate event and my book was recommended to a corporate women’s book club who not only all purchased and read it, but rated it at their monthly dinner to which I was invited as their guest author.

  • Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own 

I belong to several writing groups who not only provide me with encouraging support but also help to spread the word to their writing and reading networks.

  •  Media appearances and interviews—in print, on the radio, on TV, or online

Put together a media pack for your book including promotional material and a media release and send it out to everyone you can. This has led to me being reviewed on radio and online, having a guest appearance on radio and I have had stories about my books appear in print media.

  • Public speaking appearances – readings, presentations, workshops

 The industry offers numerous opportunities to volunteer and give back to writers. Get involved by volunteering at festivals, offering to talk at schools and libraries, and appearing on ‘expert’ panels. These are not only wonderful ways to share your learning and experiences with fellow writers, but also to build your loyal following of readers. I increased my appearances by pitching seminars and courses – I have appeared on panels and seminars, and recently was contacted via Linked In to present a workshop at a writing festival.

Give it a go – what have you got to lose? Let me know how you go…



Social Animals

June 10, 2014

Guest Post by Lea (Reproduced from Queensland Writers Centre WQ Magazine, March 2014)

Social Animals

   The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, ‘Man is by

nature a social animal’. Almost 25 centuries after those words

were written they still hold true. We are compelled to group

together in this thing we call ‘society’. The growth of today’s

social media society is nothing new. It is merely a modern

extension of this basic human need.

   As an emerging writer during the infancy of social media,

I had the choice to embrace this phenomenon or hide from it.

I’m glad of my choice to join in because the romantic notion

of the ‘non-social’ solitary author is lost on today’s readers. If

you think you can avoid social media, let’s look at some stats.

Facebook has approximately 1.23 billion users worldwide. More

video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the amount of

video that NBC, ABC and CBS combined have produced in 60

years. Vine, Flickr and Instagram took top spots in the bestselling

mobile apps for 2013, demonstrating the importance

we place on sharing personal information. Social media is a

phenomenon that is here to stay and with it has come a much

more demanding fan base. In a world where everything is

accessible at the tips of our fingers, readers want their authors to

be accessible too.

   Being an author in today’s society is about more than merely

writing a book. Editors and agents are attracted to authors who

have this thing called ‘platform’. Publishers will even demand

you have one. So what is all the hype about? You owe it to

yourself and your readers to find out so you can reach out and

give them not only what they want but what they need. Society

not only fulfils people’s basic needs, it also satisfies their desires

and aspirations, so grouping and partnering with like-minded

writers can also be a godsend in developing your skills and

achieving your dreams.

   So what do you do when all your dreams come true? You pay

it forward. Volunteering at festivals, schools and libraries, and

appearing on panels at writing events are not only wonderful

ways to share your learning and experiences with fellow writers,

but also ways to build your author platform.

   So step up on your platform and take a bow – it’s your new



BOOK LAUNCH – ‘One for All’

April 1, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night….cafe 1

This is a line could begin the story of many auspicious occasions in my life – my previous book launches, my fortieth birthday party, my wedding in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. And so it was, once again, on the night of my most recent book launch. ‘One for All’ was welcomed into the world on an unusually sodden autumn evening last Thursday 27th March 2014. The nasty weather certainly didn’t deter any of the guests who arrived with beaming smiles and countless enthusiasm, even after having battled the rain and ensuing heavy traffic by car, bus and boat. So I guess that it’s true – rain really does bring good luck!

IMG_6052The launch was wonderfully supported by fellow members of the literati and many supportive friends. Amongst those in attendance were a myriad of talented authors – Sisters in Crime, thriller, fantasy, romance and children’s writers.

Brisbane authors_ Leonie Hardy_Christina Lee_Brenda Cheers_Brenda Cross_Karen Tyrrell_Sharon Phillips_Lea Scott_Charmaine Clancy

Jackie Edwards_Christine Ryan_Amanda Christian_Stephanie Rowe_Karen Walsh







As it happens, the weather was somewhat aligned with the book in many ways.  The epilogue of ‘One for All’ begins during a particularly nasty storm in 1942, causing a horrific WWII plane crash which sets in motion a series of events for three generations of a military family, leading to a tempest of crimes committed against them in more present times.  Throughout the book, bad weather continues to play havoc with the cast, thwarting their efforts to race against a ticking clock until the story turns full circle on itself like a tornado.

Website picsYou wouldn’t believe some of the things a girl has to do in the name of research and authenticity! The writing of ‘One for All’ has taken me on my own meteorological journey from plunging into steep aerobatic manoeuvres in a WWII war plane to traversing the stormy Brazilian seas in a creaky boat, and riding a horse through the parched Arizona desert.  


IMG_6049‘One for All’ is the first book in a new crime series featuring sassy risk-taking undercover detective Sol Ramirez, who has only ever had one burning agenda as she climbed the U.S. police ranks – to track down the men who gunned down her parents and trafficked her as a teen. I had always said I wouldn’t write a series – that I didn’t have the commitment to stick with one character for that long – but Sol had other ideas and her story grew to be bigger than a stand-alone book could handle. The second book in the series is due out early next year where Sol helps another family take on an illegal adoption ring so watch this space…

Robert_DoddI would like to thank all those who braved the weather to attend the launch and a special thank you to my husband for his many and varied roles throughout the creation of ‘One for All’, research assistant, bag carrier, beta reader and launch host.  Thanks also to Erina and the wonderful venue Cafe Bouquiniste 

Lea Scott_Erina Wannenburg Cafe Bouquiniste owner








Unfortunately a crime of another kind kept one of my guests from attending. You can read about its happy ending on her blog ‘The Hipsterette’.

‘One for All’ is available in print and e-book versions. A list of online retailers can be found here.

Photos by Karlen Wannenburg (



HOW-TO: Turn a ‘Brilliant Idea’ into a Plot

October 2, 2013

If I had a dollar for every person who has said to me, ‘I’ve got this brilliant idea for a novel!’, my piggy bank would be overflowing. So why haven’t all these people written that novel? Because they haven’t known how to translate that one idea into about 80-100,000 words. So how do you start to turn an idea into a plot? Here are my tips.

1. IdeaBrainstorm (finding the pieces):  Write your idea or premise down in the middle of a large sheet of paper and circle it. Then write around it all the thoughts you have on characters, events, settings, etc, relating back to the circle when you get stuck. Just get all your thoughts on paper at this stage – don’t worry about how plausible they are or if they don’t fit together. You might not even know how the novel will begin or end at this stage.

2. Research (fleshing out the pieces): List all the subject areas from your brainstorming session that you need to find out more about. This may include procedures, locations, psychological issues for characters.  Add any additional ideas to your brainstorm chart that spring from your research. For tips on where and how to research for your plot see my blog post In the name of research – Plot  

3. Outline (putting the pieces together): A plot has three parts – a beginning, a middle and an end – and two main transition points. T1 is the ‘epiphany moment’ where the story is moving along and something happens to change everything. T2 is the ‘point of no return’ where something happens to force an ending either way. The rest of the structure, in basic terms, looks something like this:


 Beginning              |                          Middle                      |                 End

  20-30%                 |                            50%                         |              20-30%

Set up conflict          |            Flesh out/add complications       |        Resolve the conflict

                             T1                                            T2

Split a sheet of paper into three columns as above. Take your ideas from your brainstorm chart and start slotting them into the section where they fit best, including identifying your two main transition points.  Leave gaps between your ideas so you can create more linking ideas. At this stage your ideas can still be quite abstract, but this will form the basis for creating the scenes that will make up your novel. If you are a ‘pantser’ (ie. someone who prefers to write by the seat of their pants rather than creating a full plot outline) you might like to stop plotting here and just start writing your novel, filling in the gaps as you go.  If you are a serious ‘plotter’, read on…

4. Map (connecting the pieces): Create a scene map from your outline by fleshing out your ideas into scenes. Include all the information you need to keep your plot on track (I use a one line description, date/time, setting, name of your Point of View character for that scene in italics). Group your scenes by chapter. None of this is set in stone. Your scene map is a living document and can be changed as you write. Think of scenes as the building blocks of your novel. Once written, they can be moved around to change the pace and structure ie. you might write them in chronological order then decide to move one as a flash back or flash forward to increase suspense.  You might also think up new scenes to add in as your write (particularly if you develop a new subplot) or move scenes between chapters.

I use an Excel spreadsheet (see example below) to do this because it is easy to create columns and cut and paste the lines when moving scenes. But you can write them down manually, use index cards, the tables function in a word processing program, or you might like to have a go in writing programs like Scrivener, which allows you to break up your text into re-locatable sections.  

Scene map


This may seem like a lot of work initially, but it is much easier to keep track of your plot in this way than to go back through 80-100,000 words looking for a particular scene that you want to change or move during the edit process. It is also a good way, at a glance, to make sure your plot will keep the reader’s interest. Check that there is enough variety in the settings (is this the most dramatic place for the scene?), and the POV character is the one with the most at stake in that scene.

Once you have your plot in order, writing your novel should be a breeze. As Ernest Hemingway said…There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. 

Happy plotting, Lea

“Murder in the Library” at Brisbane Writers Festival

September 15, 2013

The word had been passed around writing circles in Brisbane. There was to be a murder in the library during the 2013 Brisbane Writers Festival. Who would witness the heinous crime?

Sisters in Crime scene 2Late in the afternoon, on the eve of the festival, after the volunteers had packed up and gone home and library use had lulled, a body appeared. By the time the festival crowds re-appeared the next morning, all that remained was the outline of where the victim had fallen, right in full public view outside the library café. Someone wanted this crime to be seen!  

Amateur detectives, Sisters in Crime Qld, had carefully numbered the clues:

  1. A blood splatter pattern next to the body
  2. A smashed watch stopped at exactly 12 o’clock
  3. A library book by Stuart Littlemore
  4. A box of fresh breath mints
  5. One lens from a pair of sunglasses
  6. A pool of blood under the victim’s hand

And so began the “Murder in the Library” festival crime writing competition. Over the next few days, the Sisters prowled the festival inviting attendees to use their imagination to deduct what crime had befallen the unfortunate victim, and to write the opening scene of their very own crime story.  Aspiring writers took notes and photographs and the entries flooded in. Sisters in Crime members, along with our special guest sister Katherine Howell, took great pleasure in reading and judging the many quality entries.

Sisters in Crime audienceThe “Murder in the Library” Spoken event was held on the final day of the festival against the stunning backdrop of the city of Brisbane and its meandering river. Moderated by fellow Sister Meg Vann, CEO of QWC, it showcased the talent of Sisters in Crime Qld members Bess Emanuel, Lea Scott and Sylvia Loader. We also took a moment to remember our own fallen Sister Liz Navratil, who was the recent victim of a tragic car accident, with a moving song from our sensational singing Sister Janelle Colquhoun.  Katherine Howell gave the fifty attendees her own brand of crime writing advice and presented the prizes to the winners.

Sisters in Crime scene 5AAnne Buist took out the prize for the adult category with her foreboding detective-style opening. As she read it out, she drew us in with its strong voice and clever use of the crime scene clues.

Now this was a frame up if ever I’d seen one: circa 1920. Watch stopped at the time of the crime? Fingerprints on the sunglasses and the victim wasn’t even wearing any? I’d bet on D.N.A. on the mint packet where our framed man had put his lips as he extricated them. Give me break. I knew the victim; and she didn’t read anything heavier than Vogue. So the real question was, if the boyfriend didn’t do it, what grudge did the killer have against Stuart Littlemore?

We later discovered that Anne hails from down south and is a member of the Melbourne chapter of Sisters in Crime. Anne has also entered the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto awards, and has been working on a psych crime thriller. We wish her all the best in her writing journey.

The youth age categories took particular interest in the crime scene, many of whom dared to defy the ‘Crime Scene Do Not Cross’ lines to take ‘selfies’ in the body outline. We were glad to see this group so engaged and interactively involved.

Genevieve Yuong took out the 12-17 age category with her humourous story that tied into the library theme.

I never liked the librarian. Her bittersweet personality always put me on edge and her minty-fresh smile could make anyone shiver. She had a way of alluring people, making them feel safe. Her body lay disfigured, bloody and lifeless. What just happened? But I can’t worry about that now. I need to hide the body.

Sisters in Crime comp winner Under 12Orley Fenton wrote the winning entry for the Under 12’s. His story about a shoot out between double-crossing stockbrokers showed great sophistication for his age category.

We hope that this prize will encourage both of our youth category winners to pursue their writing aspirations.

It was a wonderful experience to be part of the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2013 and to be able to bring a juicy crime element to the festival experience. We thank the BWF team and hope that our involvement in the festival continues into the future.  For now, the evidence from the crime scene has been boxed up and put on the cold case shelf. Thanks to the hard-working efforts of all the Sisters involved this year that made this event an outstanding success. Maybe next year, we’ll solve the crime…

Sisters in Crime scene 3Photos: 1. The scene of the crime 2. The audience builds 3.Anne Buist reads her winning entry 4. Orley Fenton accepts his prize from Katherine Howell 5. Some of the Sisters in Crime at BWF




“Murder in the Library” crime writing competition

September 5, 2013

Sisters in Crime scene 

The opening is often the most important thing that governs whether a reader of a crime novel will read on.  It is important to draw the reader into the action as early as possible with a great hook and compel them to read on by posing questions that remain unanswered unless the reader continues on through the story.

With this in mind, my Sisters in Crime writers group are this year conducting a “Murder in the Library” micro-fiction crime writing competition at the Brisbane Writers Festival from 4-8 September 2013.  It is open to everyone and to enter all you need to do is locate our mock crime scene in the Knowledge Walk of the State Library of Queensland, then write an opening paragraph for a crime story based on the scene. There are some clues at the site – but do they belong to the victim or the killer???  It’s up to your criminally-minded imagination!

Winners from three age categories will be invited to be part of the Brisbane Writers Festival by reading their winning entries at the Spoken event hosted by Sisters in Crime, and will be presented with prizes by renowned Australian crime writer and guest judge, Katherine Howell.  This is a FREE event and anyone is welcome to attend, whether you enter our competition or not.


Sisters in Crime showcase event

The Red Box

State Library of Queensland

3.00 – 4.00 p.m. Sunday – 8 September 2013

Click HERE for more information

Afterwards, join us for wine and cheese in the Qld Writers Centre lounge on Level 2 SLQ where you can meet the Sisters in Crime and find out more about joining this spine-tingling group.

SistersSisters in Crime Qld meet on the first Saturday of each month in SLQ and host a yearly calendar of events including discussion groups, guest speakers and tours. Our aim is to share our collective passion for women’s crime writing, to discuss and analyse crime books, to promote the professional development of women crime writers, to provide opportunities for networking, and to have fun!

To enquire about becoming a member of Sisters in Crime Qld please email me at  or check out our Facebook page at Sisters in Crime Queensland


HOW-TO: Find your readers

June 5, 2013

The second question I will tackle from my independent publishing seminars is How do you go about finding your readers?

Aside from writing, I made finding my readers my most important mission. This is what you need to focus on to be a successful self-published author. In reality, publishers are not the most important key to your success – your readers are! Here are some examples of how I went about finding my readers.

Stand out in the crowd:  Your book is a tiny needle in an ever-growing haystack of self-published books. Rule # 1 of marketing is to find your book’s ‘unique selling propostion’. Try to find a niche market for Uniqueyour book, and then promote it to the interests of those readers. My novel ‘Eclipsed’ is a psychological thriller that revolves around a ‘woman scorned’ seeking revenge. I thought about who this would appeal to. Firstly – women. Next – women who may have been through rough relationships. So I wrote a give-away relationship advice ebook to help these women titled ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’. I promoted it through social media and Google ads with keywords that would bring it up on dating sites – a place I thought I might find these ‘women scorned.’  My ad got up to 300 clicks a day so I was successful in finding my target audience and bringing them to my website where I could then also tell them about my novel.

Get seen:  You will be one of many self-published authors approaching the media, so sending out a media release that is just about your book is not going to grab their attention. In order to get the media interested in promoting your book, you need to give them an angle. If you leas-launch2have a personal story that relates to your book, give them the personal details. If not, look for a newsworthy angle. When I wrote ‘The Ned Kelly Game’ I was also interested in the whereabouts of his lost skull, so I set up a Facebook campaign to try to find it. In addition to local media, it was picked up by a Perth radio station, the Melbourne Herald Sun, and a major Ned Kelly website, all of whom mentioned my book. If you want to get local media to attend and write about your book launches – put on a show! I held my first book launch in a spooky hotel cellar, complete with Ned Kelly as the MC and a charity art auction using works from my book cover. For ‘Eclipsed’ I highlighted it was being held at an outdoor restaurant on the night of a lunar eclipse. I invited local media and they sent reporters and photographers to both events.

Spread the word:  Create a presence on social media but follow the rule of thumb that for every 10 posts only one should be directly selling your book. Blog on topics related to your book or the craft of writing. Set up a mailing list to let interested readers know what you are up to. Network. Don’t be afraid to mention to everyone you meet that you’ve written a book. This can lead to all sorts of opportunities. I mentioned it in conversation at corporate event and my book was recommended to a corporate women’s book club who not only all purchased and read it, but rated it at their monthly dinner to which I was invited as their guest author.

Enlist the help of friends:  Real friends want you to succeed but don’t stretch your friendships by insisting that your friends buy every book you write or bombard them with ‘Buy Now’ posts on social Sharemedia. If you do, pretty soon you’ll find they’ve dropped you faster than if you’d just said you joined Amway. But you can let your friends know that they can help you by re-tweeting, liking and sharing your blogs and special offers with their social networks. Make it easy for them by adding Share buttons to your website and posts. If their friends in turn share the links, your network grows. For those friends who want to read your books, let them know that writing reviews can help you.

Pay it forward:  The industry offers numerous opportunities to volunteer and give back to writers. Get involved by volunteering at festivals, offering to talk at schools and libraries, and appearing on ‘expert’ panels. These are not only wonderful ways to share your learning and experiences with fellow writers, but also to build your loyal following of readers.

Spend some time thinking ‘outside the square’ and see if you can come up with ideas to find your readers. Feel free to share any other methods you use.



HOW-TO: Keep the pages turning…

May 20, 2013

Having just returned from delivering seminars in North Queensland to aspiring and emerging writers, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share my writing journey with others and encourage them to follow their own writing dreams. I’ll post more about that next month after the final seminar in Brisbane. I was prompted to begin this ‘How-To’ series by some of the questions posed by participants at those events

The first question I will tackle is: ‘How do you create suspense?’

Conflict:  To create a page-turning novel, it’s important to give your main character a worthy problem. But it’s no good if your readers don’t care about Cheer Squadthat problem and can’t empathise with your character’s goal to solve it. Emotional connection with characters is what helps build the suspense as readers cheer them on to the finish line. How do you do this? Introduce the people we should care about early and show (not tell) us why we should care about them. Throw them into the middle of an insurmountable problem. Show us their motivation – there must be something at stake for the character. What do they have to lose? Give them flaws but show us that they want to change so they can achieve their goals. My newest character, Ricky Winger, is a down and out drunk at the start but once you share in his loss and suffering you will be rooting for him! 

Uncertainty:  Not knowing what will happen next is what makes a reader turn the page. If you give away too much backstory at the beginning then there is less reason for them to read on. Right from the very start, you can pose questions in the reader’s mind such as ‘who is this person’ and ‘how did they get into this situation’. You do this by putting the character in a scene that makes the reader ask questions, but you withhold some of the crucial information for them to be able to answer those questions. Set up as many questions as you can along the way then drip feed the answers by posing small questions that will be answered in the short term, and bigger questions that will not be answered until later on. Another of my new characters, Sol Ramirez, has a secret but she’s not going to reveal it all at once.

Insurmountable Odds:  Create impediments for your characters to achieve their goals. These can be external (physical disabilities, obstacles) or internal (psychological issues, personality traits) or both.  Ramp up the tension by throwing ever-increasing obstacles in the way that your characters need to overcome to solve their problem. This may include having to face their greatest fears, increased personal stakes, increased threats from villains, or inadequate solutions to their dilemma. In my latest novel, Cross Point, to save their kidnapped family members the characters have to cross the globe and take on treacherous terrain, while dealing with PTSD and agoraphobia, all while the clock is ticking!

Cliffhangers, Gaps and Hooks:  These are great tools for creating suspense to keep the reader hanging on. A cliffhanger is where we leave a scene at a Cliffhangercrucial point then move on to another scene involving different characters (we literally leave them hanging over a cliff). Leaving a gap between the cliffhanger and the resolution of that scene makes the reader want to keep reading until they get back to that cliffhanger to see what happens. These can be used at the end of chapters or between scenes within a chapter to build the suspense. Having two concurrent stories in my latest novel, Ricky’s and Sol’s, allowed me to switch between them easily. A hook is usually used at the end of a chapter. It poses an unanswered question that leaves the reader imagining or worrying about the character’s next move, and so propels the reader on to the next chapter.

Clues and Red Herrings:  Like backstory, clues should be withheld until the right moment to avoid the story becoming too predictable. Be sure to drip feed your clues throughout your novel. The number of clues and how much you give away will depend Red Herringon your genre.  In a ‘whodunit’ like my novel, The Ned Kelly Game, you might want to give only enough so that the reader thinks they have guessed the answer, but then alternate this with ‘false clues’ known as red herrings, so they are never quite sure.  You might also want to present your clues out of order to increase the mystery. In a ‘chase’ novel like Eclipsed, where the reader knows the answer but the characters don’t, you might give away more clues to the reader so they are always one step ahead of the characters urging them on.

Point of View:  Having a single point of view (ie. that of just the detective) creates a close attachment between the reader the character however it is limiting to suspense because we can’t see more than what the character knows.  That is to say, we can’t be in the minds of the other characters and know what they are thinking and feeling.  Using multiple points of view means we can cut away to scenes with other characters and know their motivations, which can create more suspenseful moments. If you use this method, take care to not overdo it and have too many point of view characters for readers to relate to – three to four is probably a good number and they should be supporting and not minor characters. When deciding whose point of view to use in a scene, a good rule to build suspense is to use the character with the most at stake. In Cross Point I use mainly the POV of the two protagonists, Ricky and Sol, but also some of the supporting family characters to show their background.

Pace:  After a week of back-to-back conference events in Hawaii, then plane-hopping to conduct writing seminars in North Queensland, I can tell you what it’s like to be constantly on the move. Exciting, but exhausting!  On reflection, this can be applied to a page-turning novel. While it’s very exciting to be in the middle of the action and not want to put the novel down, you do need to give your readers a little rest now and then. Mix up the pace with three types of scenes.

1)     Action – these are fast, dramatic and page-turning. Keep the events moving, the sentences short, the writing tight.

2)     Introspective – this is where things slow down a little to allow the characters to analyse, think and feel. The writing pace should be slower, sentences longer but still moving and emotional.

3)     Descriptive – the pace is static in these. Try to appeal to as many senses as possible to create atmosphere ie. sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch.

Spend some time considering how you can use these ideas to build the suspense in your novel.  Let me know how you go, or feel free to share any other methods you may use.




May 12, 2013

QF32Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a conference in Hawaii with my husband. The theme was ‘Anticipation’ and it opened with a compelling keynote presentation by Captain Richard de Crespigny, and his extraordinary account of the fateful day on 4 November 2010, when flight QF32 left Singapore for Sydney and came within an inch of being one of the world’s worst air disasters. Shortly after takeoff, an explosion shattered an engine on the Qantas Airbus A380, the pride of the airline’s fleet. Hundreds of pieces of shrapnel ripped through the wing and fuselage, fuel was streaming out of ruptured tanks and 21 out of 22 of the plane’s vital operating systems were affected, many of them shredded. In lesser experienced hands, the plane might have been lost with all 469 passengers, but a supremely experienced flight crew managed to use all their knowledge, training and experience to save the lives of everyone on that flight. They anticipated the worst and came through. We had the opportunity to dine with Richard, who has written this book about his experience.

IMGRichard referred to the incident as a ‘black swan’ event. One you couldn’t see coming because it had never happened before. The plane’s checklist system for failures fired too many instructions for them to follow. So contrary to the system’s advice, they had to make decisions based on their training and experience. ‘It’s like a bushfire; just when you think you have it under control, the wind shifts and it all changes direction.’

Although in much less dangerous terms, that quote got me thinking about my experiences in the publishing industry over the past ten or so years. The wind has certainly shifted with the drift toward electronic devices, e-books and the ability for writers to skip the traditional publishing line altogether. When I began my self-publishing journey, there was still a stigma attached to going it alone. Now many writers choose that path, turning down multi-million dollar contracts from publishers or retaining their digital rights. And who are these successful authors? Aren’t they the ones who anticipated the changes despite all suggestions to the contrary and changed their direction with the shifting winds?

‘Adapt or perish’. That was one of the main points Richard brought home in his address. While the winds continue to shift in the publishing industry and the number of contracts available from traditional publishers lessens, the opportunities for self-published writers continue to grow. All they need to do is grab hold of them and fly with it. I am about to release my 4th self-published novel and I am still filled with excitement by the anticipation of my readers’ responses. 

‘Invert the logic’ – another piece of invaluable advice from Richard when most of the systems weren’t working. Don’t focus at all the things that aren’t working. Focus on those things that do. I could have spent many more years parceling off my manuscripts to traditional publishers, filling my drawers with rejection slips because my books didn’t fit their ‘current list’ and believing I just wasn’t good enough. Instead, I listened to my readers. They liked what they read. They wanted more. So I focused on fulfilling those requests and moved ahead with what was working, putting less time into something that wasn’t.

As a writer, each of us has a special gift. It is the gift of imagination. And it’s a gift we deserve to share with the world. As I anticipate embarking on my own series of presentations where I am about to share with writers how to have the courage to take that first step into self-publishing, I reflect on your courage Richard and thank you for your inspiration.





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Lea Scott