Let’s play Author Tag!

dalenoflowerBig bone-crushing Kaz hugs to Dale Harcombe for inviting me to be part of this Author Chain. It was as much fun being tagged as it was tagging other – what a cool game! (And I didn’t even break a sweat! Now, that’s my kind of game…)
 Dale is such an interesting person – not only an author of books, she’s authored and created all kinds of fascinating works including articles, puppet plays (mega cool!), skits, finger plays, songs for little people and a radio play which was broadcast in 2005!  And she’s an owl-aholic! She adores and collects owls – well, images and recreations of them anyway.
Her latest book  Streets on a Map is a poignantly beautiful book that will keep you turning the pages right to the very last one.StreetsOnAMapCOVER
As Dee White said: ‘The action just keeps coming in Streets On A  Map, and keeps the reader turning the pages wondering what’s going to happen next to the characters they have come to know’.
Dale is also the queen of titles. I’ve always loved the title Streets On A Map, and her work in progress has another wonderfully evocative title: Sandstone Madonna. Good or what?
Thank you for tagging me Dale! And good luck with your WIP!

So, now to play the game. Every author tagged has to answer these same four questions – so here I go…

Q1: What am I working on?

Okay, don’t judge me but I have two works on the go. I’m not revealing titles as I never do that publicly until I know they’re in the bag. I work hard to find interesting titles, they don’t come naturally to me, so I like to keep them close until I’m sure. However, one is a fun – but tricky   – work for boys 7-10.My issues with this are huge.I have a character I love – who’s a bit extraordinary but not extremely so, therefore do I make him more extraordinary in the real world, or make his world so wild that he Almost Deadappears to be the sane centre? Decisions, decisions. This story is a diversion that’s eating at me as I write the next YA which is a follow on to Almost Dead. 

Q2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I began answering this in so many different ways. Do I act all coy and pretend that I don’t think my work is different? Or do I let my ego reign? Okay, ego wins: Maybe if I had to seriously pinpoint a difference it might be humour?  Mixing humour and horror/mystery? I do also have habit of creating characters that are, initially, hard to love. Almost Dead and Princesses Don’t Sweat are two  that fall into that category. As an author it’s a huge risk – what if the reader gives up too soon? But if they stay with it, the payoff is worth it. At least that’s what I think…  Macey  the protagonist and star of Almost Dead was such a tough character to write. To make her likeable – even loveable – and not lose her in the process was one of my toughest writing journeys. But I think we pulled it off and for me, that’s the payoff.

Q3: Why do I write what I write?

You know, I doubt that many serious authors would differ in their answers to this question. Not much anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – I believe authors are born, not made. I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a fire that burns hard inside us and doesn’t ever let up.  After that, it’s finding where you fit. I started my career writing for adults and I suspect I may end up there again because a part of me still wants to write for grown ups as well, but when I first discovered YA fiction it felt like I’d come home.  I haven’t lost that wonder yet. Writing for kids is similar.  If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say the success I’ve had in these genres is largely due to the fact that I haven’t grown up yet. It helps… 😉

Q4: How does my writing process work?

Um seriously,  I think it changes with every book.  Sometimes a character will come to me who is so compelling, so much fun, that it’s simply a matter of finding his or her story. Sometimes it’s even easier than that. Like a story for young readers I wrote recently called Penelope Plotter. As soon as her name drifted into my head her story appeared.  It pretty well wrote itself.

The idea for this last series of YA books, those I affectionately refer to as my Dead Books: Dead, Actually and Almost Dead ( and no, I don’t have a fascination with death. Much), came from three words emblazoned diagonally across a teen mag: It’s a Bitchfest.  Those words resonated; grabbed me.  But I wanted more than just the usual Mean Girl scenario. I like ‘story’ and plenty of it – and I liked the idea of the dead

It's Live!

communicating with the living. And I LOOOOOVE a good mystery – a good ‘whodunnit’.   And what teen story would be worth its salt if it didn’t have a few romantic sparks tossed in to keep the poor heroine off balance just when she needs a cool head more than ever?

I guess that kind of sums up both Dead ActuallyAllen & Unwin March 2012,  and Almost Dead, Allen & Unwin, Jan 2014.

Would you agree? Am I brave enough to cope with the answers? of course I am (she says grabbing the family-sized bag of Smarties and chewing furiously, manically even… Her eyes twitch, her lip quivers.) “Of course I’m brave enough,” she repeats to anyone who’ll listen. “I think…”

Almost Dead is available at all good bookstores – if they don’t have it maybe they’re not so good <g> so ask them to order it.

Or online at Booktopia

It’s also available as an e-book. Check out  http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9781743313268. for all the deets! 

 On that note I’m handing over to three amazing, wonderful authors and friends whose work I so admire – and ruthlessly tagged.    Two belong in the crazy bin with me, and the other is here to give us much needed class. And that’s all I’m saying. Mwahaha. (Now they’re all preening, each imagining she is the classy one. Snigger...) 

Cue the drumroll: Here they are in alphabetical order because I’m like that and  because I don’t want any of them to cry themselves to sleep because they think I love one more than the other:

Amanda Ashby. 

Amanda Ashby writes young adult and middle grade books for Puffin inAmanda Ashby photo 2 the US. She was born in Australia and after spending the last sixteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand, she’s finally moved back and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?)



Demonosity cover

Ebony McKenna

Ebony McKenna writes about ferrets that talk in a countrybrugelswimsuit stuck in a ‘post-soviet, but pre functioning internet’  time warp.
Her Ondine series began in 2010 with The Summer of Shambles, and was followed up with the sequel, The Autumn Palace. It is now joined by the trequel, The Winter of Magic, which is available where all good ebooks are sold.
She loves trivia nights, train sets and the Eurovision Song Contest.
When not writing, she can be found on the following social media outlets:
Ondine # 3 The Winter of Magic
Sally Murphy
Sally Murphy has written over 30 books and still IMG_2277has time to study, teach and run a review site, Aussie Reviews!  Oh and look after her six children… Her wonderful picture book (That’s me, Kaz saying that!)  –Do Not Forget Australia – was evocative  and heart-warming despite dealing with the tragedy of war. A definite keeper for every bookshelf.
These three gals will be answering the same four q’s next Monday, 17th Feb, so don’t forget to look out for them and what they have to say! This is indeed a feast of authors!
Till next time!
shutterstock lips

Win!!! Better Odds Than Lotto! Prizes Galore!


Never felt lucky? I know the feeling but trust me – and I don’t need my psychic friend Zoradastramas to back this up – THIS could be YOUR lucky day!

At the moment 3 blogs are offering no less than 6 copies of my books: 4 x Almost Dead and 2 x Dead Actually! Think about this! Winning one of these books is way, way more likely than winning lotto! And you don’t even have to buy a ticket!

And there are about to be more!  But to current news first. 

Yesterday I was honoured to be featured on two exciting blogs, both offering books prizes, so if you’d like to win a copy of Almost Dead, pop along and check them out.

1) Ebony Mckenna Blogspot.Ebony McKenna 

Ebs, author of the famed and wonderfully entertaining  Ondine series, and I met at an RWA fancy dress cocktail  party. She was dressed as a Bondgirl/Spy and I went as a ?detective/spy in a trench, sunnies and fedora. She sidled up to me and, as the story goes, whispered, “Boris, in Moscow it is cold in Winter” or something similar. I reputedly replied with, “Natasha! Have you seen a moose and a squirrel?”  That night a friendship was born  and Boris and Natasha got up to some amazing hijinks  that included slinking around poles (not dancing unfortunately), commando rolls (well, my arthritic version) around corners and generally being ridiculous. We were also versed in how to say: “I’ll meet you under the table” in Russian by a HarperCollins editor who shall remain nameless to protect her reputation.  That  tone continued when Ebony coerced me into letting my hair down on her blog that was posted yesterday. It’s a bit of a giggle and just pure fun – so drop in  and go in the draw for a copy of Almost Dead.


2) Jess Fitzpatrick – Never Ending BooshelfKaz launch w jess fitzpatrick

The gorgeous blogger/author/reviewer Jess Fitzpatrick and I met for the first time only a couple of weeks ago when she was a surprise guest at my book launch. She’s a complete sweetheart and a more passionate advocate of Australian women’s fiction you will be hard pressed to find.  Smart, savvy, informed and generous.  Today, she’s participating in the Australia Day Blog Hop and has books prizes on offer also by my great mate Lee Christine, who writes spine tingling Romantic Suspense, and Whitney EK,  author of the acclaimed ‘What happens In Ireland‘.  I think there are about 8 books on offer here! Chances galore!

http://nevendbookshelf.wordpress.co Please drop by and take a look. m/2014/01/25/australiadaybloghopgiveaway/

Jess also very kindly and unexpectedly blogged about the Book Launch of Almost Dead. And you’ll find her report here. For me, it was fascinating seeing it from a different perspective.


3) Karen TyrrellKaren Tyrrell BEST  457 KB-1

And don’t forget Karen Tyrrell, mental health advocate, and author of her latest book  Bailey Beat the Blah ,  who kicked off the Almost Dead Fest with her blog last Wednesday. There are still chances to win on her blog as well!

Sheesh! I feel like Santa Claus! This is fabulous!


4) There’s more happening tomorrow for Almost Dead with Sally Murphy! http://sallymurphy.com.au/

Until then – I hope you’ll all be flat out like lizards drinking as you celebrate this day in  good old Aussie style.  Good on ya mates!

shutterstock lips Almost Dead

Failure to (photograph)Launch!

Display created by my husband Rob

Well wow – where did that month go? It seems like forever since I was here, and yet the days have flown. One of the reasons for my failure to appear was that my limited time and energy was taken up with planning  – and enjoying – the official launch of Dead Actually on the  26th. You know – the important one. The Party! And then afterward there was the cleanup and the returns of all the hired stuff – and the thank you notes. After all that, I settled to excitedly give you a full report here. And that’s when it hit… We had no photos. My camera had stayed safely in its little pouch, in my bag  ALL DAY!! Suffice to say it’s taken me this long to beg, bribe and blackmail guests into handing over the loot – aka their photos. Thank you especially to my beautiful son Paul. We had a great day despite mega stressful last minute venue changes.

Some of the 130+ people who came to party.

Were there things I’d change? Do differently?  Obviously not every event is perfect and this had one had its stresses – so yes, there were things I’d tweak for the next one. As a matter of fact, I now have a whole new perspective and will blog on the dos and not-to-dos of a successful book launch very soon. However, the two only questions that really needs answering for an event like this are: Was it fun? & Was it effective? And the answer to both is a resounding YES.

With gorgeous Molly

So what did we do to make it a fun day? I’ve always wanted my launches to be fun – to offer something in return to the people who turn up to support you.  So, yep, we had food;  boy did we have food. 🙂 And I wish we had some photos of that. And naturally we  had drinks, but I wanted something more than just sustenance for this event — I wanted it to be

Heather Cleary for the VGs. Backgroud from L-R: Annie, Judy, Rob, Kaz, Mary, Lea and Michelle. venue: Charlestown Library.


Coming up with a theme was both easy and frustrating. The theme of the book is ghosts right? Like, dead people.  So what do we associate with dead people? Funeral directors? Call me unadventurous, but I just wasn’t seeing the fun in that.

So back to thinking board and then I had the most ingenious idea. Well, I thought it was… No, it was. Truly… LOL.   I decided to have a psychic medium as a guest speaker.  After all, the character who almost shared the lead with Willow was JoJo – in fact there were times when JoJo almost stole the story!   But wait – it didn’t end there… Once I had that idea – I was on a roll.

Great idea number 2? Offer free psychic readings!

A trio of authors: Paula Roe shooting (hehe) Shannon Curtis & moi. Foreground: Jo Ramsey, one of our brilliant psychics at work. Jo was also our Psychic Medium guest speaker.

We had four. Four beautiful people who gave readings to the 125-130  assembled guests. What a hoot! Some people lined up for all four and then chose the best reading!  There was lots of laughter and lots of shared stories.

My youngest daughter, Ree, then had the great idea that we needed serving girls dressed as black angels. (If you’ve read the book you know the reference). Again, four gorgeous girls dressed in black and donned black wings, and served the food and helped my daughters Mel (who was also MC) and Ree run the games.

Signing, signing, signing! What a buzz! With Kerry Stove.

Yes! We had games.  Well probably more like competitions, really. Nothing too strenuous like pass the orange or pin the tail on the author. No, we had games like: share what you’d like your epitaph to be.  What would you like your gravestone to say? Sounds morbid? No! It was a hoot! My own isn’t original but it’s one I’ve always loved, so my offering was: ‘I told you I was sick!’  My husband’s was typical of his humour: ‘Get off!’       I’ll share some more in the next weeks.

Ree made small grey tombstone shaped cardboard pieces and we had boards to pin your entries on. In the spirit of sharing rather than comps, we drew the winners from a box.

We also had another that was  ‘what is/was the best part of being a

Happy people.

teenager?’, and those responses were so interesting I’m going to do a whole blog on the responses. And a third comp that was to name the next book. All had to feature the word, ‘Dead’ to stay true to the series, and I have to tell you that some of those suggestions were darned good!

Specific Deets? The bookstore chain Unleash supplied the book stall – and yes we sold a lot of books. 😉

With Madi and fam. Madi was the star of some of our promo and one of our gorgeous black angels!

The book was launched by my crit group – the Valley Girls. Why? Well, I wracked my brain for months to think of someone who knew me and knew the book well enough to do this justice.  It hit me one day that while I knew some high profile people, they didn’t know the book – and that to me was of the utmost importance. The second hit was harder and hurt more because I should have seen it immediately. Who knew the book as well as me? Those who had lived every word with me – the VGs: Heather Cleary, Leanne McMahon, Mary Brehe, Lisa Chaplin, Judy Griffiths, Tanya McGovern, Annie West and Michelle Douglas.

Suzanne Boyle - getting the finger, Lisa McKee & the beautiful Smith fam

It was a lovely day full of love and warmth. Lots of laughter and friendship and yes, my book and I felt special.

Thank you so much to my beautiful husband – who did everything and was everywhere. The amazing display was all his idea and he carved that 3D shoe! can you believe it!

And my gorgeous family – Paul, Lisa, Mel, Pete, Ree and Michael –  I so, so  couldn’t have pulled this off without you, especially given our last minute dramas (stay tuned for those in the next post).

Thank you so much to my beautiful extended family and huge hugs to my friends – old, new and brand new that I met on the day.  Kimmy – we missed you!

More Winners. Free Stuff!

Prize Time!

Today there is no chat, no diddling, dawdling or dallying. I’m just giving it to you straight.

Last night I got to finally cut up names and stick them into the trusty, orange bowl and get someone to draw names of winners of prizes for 3 of the 4 outstanding prizes!

On Thursday we had on offer the Gold Bouillon prize and I’m happy to announce that winner is the very sparkly:

Ms Paula Roe!

Couldn’t imagine a happier coupling!

The next prize was for Friday contributors and is was the gorgeous So Eternal perfume pack. And I’m equally excited to announce the winner is the gorgeous

Ms Beck!

Which brings us up to Monday and the mug/choccies prize. And I’m still jiggling with joy as I announce that winner …

Ms Chris Bell!

Congratulations everybody! In a day or so I’ll be announcing the winner of the Book Give-away!

Please make sure you contact me with your deets as soon as possible and I’ll get these prizes away.

And thank you so very much for helping me party all week!  Thanks you too to all those who contributed to my impressive stats, but who could stay to chat. I’m very appreciative of your time.

Amazing Shoes and “Dead, Actually” Book Give-away. It doesn’t get better. (Unless there’s ice cream???)

So, it’s no secret I love shoes. The sparklier, the less practical, the more they draw me. So, while I can’t say that it was a conscious decision to have a stiletto shoe as a continuing motif through Dead, Actually’ – I feel quite strongly that it was probably prompted by that subconscious fascination with (often) totally inappropriate footwear. Though, maybe not quite as inappropriate as those on the left… 

So, in honour of that shoe motif and in honour of shoe freaks, like me, everywhere, today I’m going to share some of the craziest shoes I’ve ever seen. I first saw some of these on my friend Maree Anderson blog ages and ages ago, so I have to pay homage to her for prompting me to go searching for more. Big Mexican Waves, Maree! Tsunami sized!

Today also marks the final day of Release Week for me. We’ve got heaps coming up – like blog tours and more fabbo comps, and I’ll be giving you the skinny on those as there are some delish prizes to be won. Sterling silver/Swarovski crystal bracelets (Yes!!)  Books (Thank you A&U), BE make-up sets. Handbags – yes(!) gorgeous Juicy Couture handbags. If you’ve read the book you get the reference.

All things girly and fitting for the upmarket stars of Dead, Actually – Willow, JoJo, Macey et al. But for just a little while,  we end the daily prize grab. That said, there are always monthly prizes on this blog – so it’s kinda always party time.

Today’s give-away is a copy of Dead, Actually courtesy of Allen & Unwin PLUS a gorgeous sparkly stiletto that you can use as a bag tag, a Chrissie dec or just something to hang and drool over. I ah-dor it!!

BTW – the mugs arrived! So, I’ll be checking on that winner in a mo


We’re also doing something a bit different today – and I’m blatantly stealing this idea from my friend Peter Taylor! He totally conned me into signing up as a follower of his blog today – and I loved it!

Okay – so you don’t have to allow yourself to be conned or tricked or be persuaded by any of those or other semi-illegal methods – but if you DO decided to play along, I promise you’ll be mentioned in my will. Promise…Pinky swear…

Here’s the skinny: To be in the draw, you only ever need to come and say hi. Or you could tell me which pair of shoes here is the weirdest. That will get you into the draw. How could you get TWO chances in the draw? Sign up for my blog! And that’s whether you comment or not!

“Peter Taylor you’re either a genius or a Kamikaze Pilot!”

Why? ‘Cos you’ll all either join the fun in the spirit it’s intended; ignore me and drop in occasionally anyway – or you’ll go running off and never speak to me again. Eek! Sob!  Please don’t let it be the latter. I don’t handle rejection…

Okay, so I’ll stop blathering and deliver my promise of more crazy shoes. Enjoy! (Note: I tried to get designer names for these shoes but failed for most.  The cage shoes are by Polly Verity. The hoof-feet *could* be by Iris Schieferstein because I found some that were very similar. Many designs are by Kobi Levi (also at) who designed those double boots for Lady Gaga.

Get it? It's a shoe stuck in gum. The pink heel is the stretched gum.

Horse's hooves? Homage to cloven-animalia?

Lunch on the run?Sorry, couldn't resist...

Have to admit - these are totally weird but totally gorgeous...

Yet another winner and ‘what’s in a name?’

Day 5 of the Let me beat you over the head with ‘Dead, Actually’ Tour’!  

Are you feeling beaten? Bashed? Bruised? No? Ha! I take that as a challenge…

Okay – let’s dive straight in today with the Day2/3 winner announcement.  Dada…

Cue the drum roll …

And the winner is…


Leah, I have to say it was Bobby’s sticky fingers that plundered the Smartie bowl this time – and you were the one he couldn’t shake. Yay!  Email me with your street addy deets  (or FB message me) and before you can recite the entire first edition volume of War & Peace without any mistakes – a sparkly new signed copy of Dead Actually PLUS the cutest pair of red heart-shaped sunnies, will be fluttering your way! ( I want photos!!) Yay! Thank you for hanging around all week! 

So, today’s prize… I thought long and hard about this – and it’s a gorgeous sparkly pink bag filled with SO perfume products. In fact this particular fragrance is called “So ETERNAL”. Hmmn – if we’re talking ghosts who just won’t quit and go away? Baby  – that’s SO ETERNAL to me!  It’s  yummy prize; I just love it…

Drill? If you’d like to go in the draw – just wave – and leave a message – OR – perhaps you’d like to comment on your fave character’s name.

 I’m in the midst of plotting the third book and I can see my hero quite clearly and he is  very  c-u-t-e… Very different to gorgeous, heart-melting Seth. Very different to meltingly hot and broody Finn of Almost Dead.  This guy is cute. Playful.  Twinkly eyes that always look they’re they’re sharing a joke with you?  Oh, be still my heart…

Anyway – this guy is to be very definitely a  ‘Charlie’. Upmarket guy, but grounded. It’s a cool, trendy name that brings some history with it. I like it.

However, my friend and crit partner, Heather, pooh-poohed it. So what to do? For what it’s worth at the mo, I’m sticking with it – because he’s so ‘Charlie all over’  to me.  My arguments for doing so? Any name can be cool – it depends on who it’s hung on. Look at Edward from Twilight. Edward? Really? Nothing wrong with the name per se – but honestly, are we talking hot hero names here? Really?

Edward from Twlight

Yet, Steph Meyer created one of the most lusted after heroes of recent times.

To prove my point, let’s flip to another Edward who features in  a perennial fave movie of mine – and one that has something of a cult following. (Or is that just in my house???)

Of what do I speak? “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (NLCV) of course  – and the unforgettable ‘Cousin Eddie’.

Cousin Eddie

To coin a popular advert phrase: ‘let’s compare the pair’. Edward of T/L fame? And Cousin Eddie of  NLCV.

Both Edwards, right?

No contest.

I rest my case.  It’s all in the creation of the character. So, until my agent or editors tell me different, my next hero will be Charlie.  And I love him already.

So, what’s your fave character name and is there a name you came to love because of that character? If there’s no one – just pop in and say hi and you’ll be in the draw!

Till then – thank you again for your support! I love you!

Winner from Monday and… Drum Roll: SIGHTINGS!!

OMG  – I think I know how UFO-ers feel! Hanging out for sightings and needing photographic evidence to prove that ‘it’ really exists. ‘It’ of course being the book I am relentlessly promoting during release week! LOL. Yes – Release Week for DEAD, ACTUALLY ! !  

But first – we have our first daily winner! 


The  Winner of the Gorgey Sparkly Bookmark is


Ms Imelda !!! 

 Oooohhh – so exciting!  Email with your street addy Imelda so I can sent this little baby winging your way!

I just want all to know that this draw was conducted indiscriminately and under the strict conditions of all lottery draws. First the remaining Smarties were removed from the bowl and then the names dropped in. Whichever scrap of paper stuck to my chocolately fingers was the winner! Worked a treat.

And now for…


Big W store, Charlestown NSW

This first sighting was phoned through by one of my daughters. Thank you Lis! I got a cryptic message that just said, check your mobile.  So, excited! ‘It’ DOES exist!

Dymocks, Collins Street, Melbourne

This shot was sent in by the gorgeous Stephanie from Melbourne who runs the fabulous My Girl Friday Blog Spot that is devoted to great books.

I am so grateful guys!  Thank you! And while it’s not a photo, this news is just as good. My beatiful friend Sandii who resides in Southern California, trawled the net to find copies available at Dymocks in Sydney. Her poor husband has flown out here JUST to pick it up and take it to her. Okay – well, maybe there was some other minor reason he was out here – but I’m SURE the real reason was simply to get a copy of DEAD.

So – to TODAY’s PRIZE!!!!!

Gold Bouillon anyone?

The gals in this book live the high life.  They live a life of total ‘lux. And even better? The ‘rents are footing the bills!

So, when I found these fabulous gold bouillon gifts, I knew they were perfect as give-aways.

So, what is there? A gorgey gold bouillon-shaped manicure set – complete with gold sparkly emery board! Sigh! Die!  Added to that there is an amazing gold bouillon-shaped keyring/handbag dangler – which also features the cutest little sparkly stiletto!

Totally ritz!

Ooh! duh! Smacks forehead! And I forgot – there’s some gorgeous nail polish to go with that manicure set!  Fuschia pink. So, So hot… Sceptical? Don’t just take my word for it. JoJo was wearing it.  ‘Nuff said.

How do you go in the draw? By now you know the drill, right? Say hi! Carve your name in lip-gloss.  An X marked out with your fave hot smoky eye-liner pencil?

This time you don’t even have to answer a quessie! It’s true. I am TOTALLy too good to you…

Tomorrow we’ll announce the winner of the first book and sunnies set. So, don’t forget to check back in.

And, also – don’t forget to leave your message! You gotta be in it to win it!

Love you and thank you!!