Sunday, 27 May 2012

This is not a funny post

Ok, it looks like I'm on apology mode again.

I'm sorry to have to do this. I did it last week, when I never got around to writing that post about procrastination (and obviously, I haven't got around to doing that this week either).

This time, I'm afraid the problem is even more acute. I'm warning you now, this is not a funny post. There are no laughs. Definitely not any chuckles. Not even any slight giggles. Look closely, I promise you - you won't find any.

This seems like a pretty bad thing to do from my angle. After all, humour is my schtick. I'm meant to be going for the giggles and the chuckles and the belly laughs. And everybody tells me that my blog is a big part of some thingumajig called my platform, which I'm meant to be using to help build my brand. So if my brand is meant to be funny stuff, that's exactly what I should be doing right here.

Except I'll tell you the problem - it's hard. Damn hard. Here I am, at the end of a weekend, with a busy week of work ahead, and I'm meant to just sit down at the computer and do funny. Sorry folks - not gonna happen. Believe me, it's not that easy to switch it on. Books is one thing. Every laugh, hell even every slight smile is the result of days and weeks of agonising over the words to use to get it exactly right. On a Sunday night, do you reckon I'm going to be agonising over this post? You gotta be kidding me.

That's the thing with us writers of humour. We're not necessarily the funny ones. We're not the people who would get up on stage and do jokes (and believe me, if I got up on stage, it would not be funny for anyone involved). We're the ones in the background, wrestling with the words. We're the ones who, take our time to work on things. If I was a stand-up and I had to deal with hecklers, you'd have to come back in three months time to hear my brilliant riposte.

And it's funny how people forget that. Years ago, I went to a comedy writer's conference. One of the speakers was the organiser of the Melbourne Comedy Festival (the third biggest in the world if you didn't know). She went on and on about how great the festival was for performers, not realising that the people sitting before her in stony silence were actually not performers at all. Gong!!

So there you have it. Not funny tonight. Apologies for anyone who came here tonight expecting a barrel of mirth. Maybe next week - but then again probably not.

And if you did find yourself laughing while you read this, I take absolutely no responsibility for that. It was clearly someone else's fault.

Have a great week. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Procrastinators ahoy!

Let me start by apologising in advance for this post - or rather for this lack of post.

I had such a great idea for a post today. It was inspired by a comment left last week by Andy Gavin. Recall that last week, I was talking about the different types of approaches to writing - plotters and pantsers and my own particular invention (which I'm thinking of trademarking), plontsers. Andy commented about how he was finding ways to not write and that got me to thinking. There is another type of approach to writing which is the most common one of all - the procrastinator.

So that was my idea. I was going to write a really clever and funny and witty post about how no matter whether you're a pantser or a plotter (or a plontser - and no you can't use that term - it's mine), the likelihood is that if you're a true writer, than you're really a procrastinator. I know I am. Procrastination is my middle name. Well actually it's David, but they share a couple of the same letters. I once even wrote a comedy sketch about a super hero who's always procrastinating - Procrasto-Man. He never gets around to saving the day, but to the people of Slotham City, he's a true hero.

So what can I say? I honestly did have good intentions. This was going to be such a great post.  There are a bunch of reasons why I didn't end up doing it:
  1. Work has been really crazy busy and it's been hard to find time to think
  2. I've actually been slightly unwell this week. Ok, it was really just a bit of a head cold but you know how that can slow you down
  3. It was my daughter's birthday this week and we had the whole family over - and you know what it's like when family come over
  4. My team (Collingwood - the Mighty Magpies) had a great win in the football (over Geelong - the defending champions) so I was pretty excited by that for a while
  5. I actually managed to get some work done on my next book - I even got a second draft completed. 
So you see there are lots of really good reasons why I kept on putting off actually writing this post. With all my heart, I apologise again. Please come back next week as hopefully by then I'll be able to make some time to write this post.

Have a great week - if you manage to get around to it. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How do you find reliably good cheap reads? - Guest post by Tahlia Newland

Today I'm pleased to welcome Tahlia Newland, an author who writes magical realism & fantasy for young adults and adults. Her first publication, A Matter of Perception, is a diverse collection of thematically linked short stories, and her young adult magical realism novella, Give me a Break, comes out in mid June.


How do you find reliably good cheap reads?

Imagine that you’ve just got an ereader and you’re looking for some cheap books to buy. Maybe you’re a student, or simply on a tight budget, but books under $5 are looking good, 99c and free books are looking even better, until you try a few. It soon becomes clear that there are two kinds of free and 99c books:
  • those written by authors of a professional standard who are providing a sample of their work at a cheap price to encourage you to buy more of their writing. These come in three forms,
    o    a short story as an advertisement,
    o    the first novel in a series, to get you hooked on the series,
    o    a stand alone novel where the author has more books available to purchase
    o    a limited time promotion of a single novel or collection of short stories to try to raise the books ratings and hence its visibility to the browsing public.
  • those written by authors who can’t get their work read any other way,

Some of the cheap books clearly aren’t very good; some are pretty average; some are okay; some are every bit as good as a book you would pay more for if it was published by a traditional publishing house, and some are pure Indie gold ie something new and exciting that is well written.

So how do you find books you can guarantee are worth spending your time reading? Apart from the blurb and the cover, you can sample a book (though you can’t do that with the free ones on Amazon), you can read the reviews or you can buy only those in the top 100. But it doesn’t take you long to discover that:
  • you can’t tell a book by its cover or its blurb
  • a book can start out with promise and plummet to miserable depths very quickly
  • reader’s reviews are unreliable. I have had several instances where I have bought books that on Goodreads had an average of over 4 stars with about 20 reviews and discovered that despite the fact that many readers loved the book enough to give it 5 stars, it was poorly written. Readers know what they like, they recognise a good story and great characters but they don’t necessarily recognise when the story is poorly written. If you do, then you want a more reliable method of recommendation.
  • Just because a book sells well doesn’t mean that it is well written. It could be selling well because it’s free.

So you look for sites that might help you to negotiate the plethora of cheap ebooks and you find:
  • sites where authors pay to be featured. There is no quality control on these sites at all. As a reader looking for quality, these are useless. All they are telling you is which author has an advertising budget.
  • sites where authors don’t pay to be featured but there is still no quality basis for the listing.
  • sites based on reader reviews. These are unreliable for the reason mentioned above. The best option here is find a few review sites whose tastes mirror your own and follow that person’s recommendations. The trouble is that many of them either don’t review the cheap books or they rarely do, so you can be whetting your appetite for books you can’t afford to buy, while waiting weeks or months to hear of a good one that you can buy.

What you need is a site where books are listed based on quality as decided by people in the business of writing, people who presumably know their craft well enough to be able to notice if the book is well written or not.

When I was looking for such a site, there wasn’t one, but there is one now because I set it up. It’s called The Awesome Indies.

Because all the books are independently published and therefore don’t have the overheads of a big company, the author/publisher can afford to charge less for their books than a traditional publishing house. Most of the books on the site are less than $5, many are $2.99, single short stories are 99c and some are free. Most of these books have occasional special promotions where they are free or cheaper for a short period of time, but all of them are excellent quality, so if you’re looking for quality cheap books then this really is the place.

What do you think of the idea behind this site? Will it be useful for you?

Author details

Tahlia is an avid reader, an extremely casual high school teacher and an occasional mask-maker. She has studied philosophy & meditation for many years and likes to write inspiring & empowering stories that question the nature of reality, mind and perception. After scripting and performing in Visual Theatre shows for 20 years, she is now a bona-fide expatriate of the performing arts. She lives in an Australian rainforest, is married with a teenage daughter and loves cats, but she doesn’t have one because they eat native birds.

Author links!/TahliaNewland

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Pantsers and plotters and plontsers

Today, the topic I've chosen to write about is something dear to the hearts of most writers. It's one of the most fundamental questions that must be considered when you're thinking about how to approach writing. And it's one that I've had to answer numerous times over the many author interviews I've done.

The question is - are you a plotter or a pantser?

I've always found it a bit difficult to answer. My writing approach has always been somewhat in the middle. Normally, I would definitely think of myself as a plotter, in pretty much all aspects of my life. I don't generally do anything without putting a heap of thought and consideration into what it is I'm doing. Often, I'll write out long detailed lists, or fill sheets of paper with various pros and cons of whatever it is I plan to do. In short, I'm perhaps just a teensy bit on the anal side.

Of course, I've transferred this approach to my writing. I'll usually write out detailed lists of things like chapter outlines and character descriptions, and I've even been known to map out exactly how to structure the dramatic (and also comedic) highpoints of my story - all the hallmarks of your classic plotter.

Except when I don't. On the odd occasion, I have been known to sit down at my computer with no end in mind and just start writing. It's how my first novella, Doodling came to me. I started with a throwaway line about the world moving so fast that somebody fell off and I just went from there. It's also how I've approached the sequel to Doodling, which is now well on the way. Classic pantsing, you might think.

But it's never quite as simple as that. Even with the pantsing, there ends up being quite a bit of plotting involved. As Doodling developed, it was threatening to turn into an aimless, pointless, plotless collection of random encounters. In order to take it from there, quite a bit of plotting ended up happening. Chapters were rewritten, new chapters added, and quite a few chapters were deleted, resulting in something that actually held together as a proper story (then again, some readers have still felt that the final product was an aimless, pointless, plotless collection of random encounters).

And when I look back at the other stories, like Flidderbugs and Magnus Opum, that were quite carefully plotted out, I realise that there was quite a bit of pantsing involved as well. With both of these, I was well into the stories before I actually figured out how they would be resolved. In Magnus, there's a section near the end where the characters enter a labyrinth, in order to buy a bit of time on their mission. This was actually me buying a bit of time for myself as I still hadn't worked out how it would end. Luckily things worked out in the end (for both Magnus and his companions, and also for me).

So there you have it. As a pantser, I'm really a bit of a plotter. And as a plotter, I'm really a bit of a pantser. That's why I've had to come up with a third type of writing approach that combines the two. I've decide that I'm a plontser.

Whether you're a pantser or a plotter or a plontser like me, I hope you're writing continues to sparkle and amaze, and I hope you have a great week.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Guest post by A.K. Taylor

Today I'd like to welcome another visitor to Dag-Lit Central. A.K. Taylor will be talking about how she came to write her books and the influences on her writing.

So, take it away, A.K.

The YA Saga Begun by a Teenager that Didn't Die but Grew with the Author

First off I would like to thank Jonathan, the Dr. Seuss from Down Under, for the invite to share a post along the lines of “Stories that Stand Out”.

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is the start of a lot of things for me. It was the first book I had ever written—period. I’ll share WHEN this happened shortly. I had a very early writing career, but when I wrote this story I decided on graduating up to books. After writing this book, a saga came into being and just kept growing. Years later, this same book is the one that started my published career.

Now WHEN did I write this book? I was 16 years old—a teenager. It didn’t come out perfect the first time I wrote it, and I made changes over the years of parts of the story. But, the basic storyline stayed the same. After I finished it, I started another book and another… Then I began to draw the characters and maps and color them. I have extensive colored pencil and crayon sets, drawing paper, portfolios, and fine lead pencils. I also have a notebook stashed full of notes and other secondary sketches of objects and ideas.

At first, I never thought anything about publishing. I mostly did this for fun, but people talked me into publishing (that’s a whole different story). Furthermore, most writing by teenagers doesn’t survive and make it to the market. Most of the time, they are discarded or hidden in a dresser drawer or a hard drive and never seen again. They are entombed and will never see the light. It may not be the best book I had ever written since it is the first story and the world-builder for a bigger picture.

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is also illustrated—not on every page. I did this to show the reader and to be able to express my artistic side as well. The cover and illustrations are based off of my design and from my character sketches and put together by an illustrator. However after book #2 Escape from Ancient Egypt comes out I will need to find a new illustrator since I am not working with the company that did them anymore (long, toxic story.)

Escape from Ancient Egypt was also written by a teenager, but has undergone some changes after editing or something was unsatisfactory or inaccurate. It too has visual art with the written text. It will be released sometime this year. However, I have a stack of books that are ready to be edited and published and still writing!

All I really want from readers is that they have fun reading the books as much as I had writing them. I didn’t write them to be the greatest literary work that ever existed; they are just to be enjoyed and fun. I concentrated on imagination rather than literary perfection, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t edit the book or make sure an effort for things to fit together properly.

I didn’t write this book for grown-ups. I wasn’t a grown-up when I wrote it, lol. It’s for upper middle grade and young adults—but the big kids at heart really enjoy, too.

The plot itself is unique and original. It is based off of my own childhood adventures in the backyard and in the woods. A Native American secret society hidden in plain sight, parallel worlds, immortal evil, travel to another universe from Earth, are just a few of the surprises in this book alone. Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is just a piece of a bigger picture. There will be more than seven books; I passed that amount years ago.

Well, that’s about it. I need to save room for questions if there are any. Thanks for stopping by!


AK Taylor MG/YA fantasy/scifi author, artist, beekeeper, amateur scientist, gamer, blogger, marksman and avid outdoor sportsman. Complete chocoholic. Graduate from the University of Georgia with a Biology degree. Taylor lives in the backwoods of Middle Georgia aka the "Land of Pine Trees and Rattlesnakes" with her husband and animals.

You can connect with her at:

Book Blog:
Tip blog for new authors:
Facebook profile:
Facebook Fanpage:
Amazon Webapge:

Buy Links for Neiko’s Five Land Adventure:

My Book (mobi, epub, and paperback):

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:


Blog Book Page:

**Also available at Sony, iBookstore, Kobo, and other retailers.

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Sunday, 6 May 2012

It must be time for Writer Idol

I just want to start this post by thanking everybody who helped me out by supporting my giveaway event. All that tweeting and Facebooking and blog posting definitely helped make it such a great success. In the end, Magnus Opum climbed well into the top 100 free listing on Amazon and spent most of the 2 days at #1 for epic fantasy. It should also have been #1 for humor as well but for some reason Amazon decided to remove that category. Go figure.

Anyway, the subject of my post today is reality television shows. They're definitely the big thing here in Australia at the moment and from what our media tells us, it sound like a similar story elsewhere. Our TVs seem to be full of little else apart from eager young contestants hoping to be singing or dancing superstars, or master chefs, or supermodels, or aspiring millionaires, or just famous for doing nothing in particular.

But, to my mind, there's one category of aspirants that has been sadly neglected in the throng of reality TV shows. What happened to all the wannabe writers out there? With the rise of indie publishing, surely the time is ripe to create a new reality TV show - Writer Idol.

Can you imagine how great this would be? The guy who writes action adventure would go around, picking fights with everyone. The romance writer would be having a steamy affair with the big, hairy epic fantasy dude. The scifi geeks would all stick together in a little corner, conspiring. And watch out for the spy thriller writer - he would definitely be hatching all sort of plots and plans.

Not only would it be great televisual viewing. Just think about the effect it would have on the viewing public. Every day, in workplaces across the world, water cooler conversation would no longer be about insignificant things like singing and dancing and fashion design. Writing would capture the world's imagination. Everyone would be talking about who split their infinitives, and whose modifier was left dangling. And as for typos - well that would be the worst sin of all - an immediate "you're fired".

And best of all, we could pit the highbrow literary critics, and the gatekeepers from the mainstream publishing industry, with the true voice of the audience in the most public way possible - a great chance to show how out of touch they really are.

So let's not just sit around, waiting for it to happen. Let's all get on the phone to the networks, and bombard their emails and Facebook pages. The time for Writer Idol has definitely come.

I reckon it will be a winner.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A little piece of Magnus Opum for the price of a cup of nothing

Today is the big day. It's a momentous event. People are holding their breath. The whole world is coming to a stop as it waits expectantly.

Okay - it might not be quite as big as that, but it is a kind of important day for me. This Thursday and Friday, I will be giving away free copies of my ebook, Magnus Opum. You pay nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. A great big duck's egg.

So what is exactly is Magnus Opum? You might think of it as a slightly skewed epic fantasy - Tolkien with a twist. It’s a fantasy story for people who don’t generally read fantasy stories, but it’s also a fantasy story for people who do. And like any good fantasy story, it's full of adventures and sword fights and all sorts of derring-do. But it's also full of laughs and unexpected surprises. Not to mention a fair share of silly poems.

Readers have already described Magnus Opum as “totally magical, brimming with imagination and fantasy, and entertaining from start to finish,” and, “a master work of both parody AND satire rolled into an easy-to-read family-friendly story.” Comparisons have been made with Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett.

So don't be the one to miss out on the fun. Go to  and grab a copy of Magnus Opum for the price of a big cup of nothing.

You’d be a seldom seen but much discussed diperagoff if you missed out.