How To Give A Good Library Talk

libraryJust before Easter I finally finished my Perth Book Tour for “The Girl in The Hard Hat.” It was great. One of my favourite things to do is meeting readers and hearing their take on my story. It’s always interesting to find out which bits they related to. Every reader is different.

On my travels I did many library talks. At one of them I picked up a pamphlet for an international bestselling author who was talking in the same library a couple of weeks after me. Her name is Katie Fforde. She’s a lovely, lovely British writer with eighteen romantic comedies under her belt.  I’ve read a couple. They’re excellent.

So I decided maybe I’ll go along and listen to her talk. I’m just starting out and this is only my second book tour so I thought it might be interesting to hear what someone with that much experience has to say.

I loved her presentation. It was funny and warm. She started off by saying that she wasn’t going to talk about how she got accepted for publication because talking about the submission process was just boring.  Where upon I covered my mouth because this is exactly what I do! And you know what, I’ve always wondered, do people actually find this interesting? Am I boring them? What should I talk about, if not that?

Well, Katie was very laid back. She basically talked about her life as a writer in a very conversational fashion. Just as though we were all sitting down for a cup of old English tea and swapping anecdotes.  Her talk was more like that of a stand up comedian- a few funny stories and some interesting opinions.  It was very enjoyable. I definitely think I’ll take a leaf out of her book for future presentations.  I guess, you learn something new everyday.

I was talking to the librarian who organizes these talks and she was telling me they usually have about twelve authors a year of all different genre varieties giving presentations. The biggest name she’s ever had was Jodi Picoult, most well known for “My Sisters Keeper.”

Apparently, four hundred people turned up to hear her presentation. They had to move it to a local school gymnasium. Wow! I think I’d wet my pants if that many people turned up to hear me speak.

They never tell you as a writer that after you get published there’s a whole host of others skills you need to develop – mostly in the fields of marketing and PR.  I’m currently writing my fifth book and I’m still not across it all. I guess I have to rely on experiences like this to help shape my own knowledge and confidence.

Happy Writing!


Realising Dreams

The voiceThis month I’ve been really getting into channel ten’s, “The Voice.” I usually have it playing in the background as I’m rushing around trying to get the kids bathed and ready for bed. When they’re finally all down for the night, my husband and I collapse on the couch and watch the last lot of performers. They always seem to save the best for last anyway. I guess this show appeals to me because it’s all about people realising their dreams against difficult odds.

I’m no stranger to hard work, knock backs and rejection.  I guess you could liken submission for publication to the blind audition process on this singing talent show. Rather then judges you’ve got publishing houses.  None of them know who you are, what you look like or your background. All you submit is your talent and hope (and pray) that someone (an editor) will recognize some quality in “your voice” to make them want to coach you.

The great thing about writing is that it’s never too early or too late to start. You don’t need any specific tertiary qualification though in some cases it might be handy to have one. All you really need is you.  I’ve read about some people who are published when they’re teenagers. Others don’t get there until very late in life – sometimes in retirement. It’s not a skill that has a used by date or a set time period of maximum performance, like most sports. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ll probably write until I die. It’s just completely and utterly part of my life. I wouldn’t know what to do without it.  I’d probably have a lot more free time that’s for sure. I’m really happy to be at that point where I can share my writing with others.

So I guess I really cheer for all those people on “The Voice,” because they’ve put it all on the line to realize their dreams. None of the contestants are amateurs. They are people who have been working solidly on their music goals for years. It’s great to see hard work paying off. I’ve always believed that if you have that plus faith you can accomplish anything.

A Letter from Alissa Callen

Loretta’s Pen Pals : Letter 5

Well, Easter is over and I’m back home after a very relaxing holiday in Australia’s south west. Damn! 

As is always  the case when I return home from an extended trip, my letter box is jam packed with catalogues, bills and unsolicited advice. I don’t know why I don’t get more invitations, post cards and newsy letters. I would enjoy those much more! Thankfully, amongst all the debri, there was actually one letter I did want to receive from my good friend and fellow Random Romance author, Alissa Callen. I was amazed by her news. She seems to lead such an exciting and dangerous life compared to my quiet suburban existence. Check out the helicopter photo she sent with her letter. What a great shot! My sons will be very impressed. It’s pretty easy to figure out where she gets her inspiration from….


Dear Loretta,

Hope this finds you well all the way over there in WA. Also hope the autumn weather has arrived. We’ve had such a long and dramatic summer (bush fires, snakes, hungry cattle) that it was quite exciting to see a hint of autumn colour this morning on the virginia creeper that climbs our old gum.

IMG_0307 aI know how much your kids would love fire trucks and sirens so here is a photo from our January bush fire. We’d just sat down to dinner when a neighbour raced up our driveway in his ute to tell us our front paddock was on fire.  It seems a car pulled over on the side of the road and the hot exhaust ignited the brittle summer grass. We’d just time to move the stock and thanks to the rural fire brigade, twelve fire trucks, two helicopter water bombers and one aeroplane the blaze was eventually contained. I’m busy planning my next rural book, working title Across Outback Plains, and no doubt a fire will feature in it somewhere.


Book cover RHIt’s funny how real life can creep into our books. My current Random House release, Beneath Outback Skies, is set during a drought and charts the struggle of a family and a community to keep hold of the hope that it will again rain. It seems like yesterday my eldest was a baby and we lived further west where water was like liquid gold. My daughter’s bath only ever used to be centimetre’s deep. Maybe that’s why I’m now forever telling her to get out of the shower. Or maybe it’s just because she’s a pre-teen.


Beneath Outback Skies also features an adorable and mischievous blue-heeler puppy called Bundy who the not-all-he-seems city-boy, Tait, gives to the heroine, Paige Quinn. Bundy is based on our own beautiful blue-heeler Bella. As a pup Bella would chew any and everything and my son would often wear mismatched thongs. Unfortunately we lost Bella almost a year ago. At first we thought she’d been bitten by a snake but now we suspect a spider bite resulted in her system shutting down. This is how we remember her as a cute and cuddly bundle of fluff but with very sharp teeth.


Have a lovely Perth autumn and had best sign off so can go and do the school run as well as check the letter box. We only get mail three times a week and the kids are expecting a parcel so fingers crossed it will have arrived.


Take care,



Alissa Callen x

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Beneath Outback Skies

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