Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Tag: book launch

Launch Day – The Tides Between – Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Launch Day started early – I’ve been waking too early for weeks – my brain flickering and pulsing like an intensive care machine. I showered, took far too long choosing what to wear for a radio interview, then cycled to Fitzroy for Radio 3Cr’s Published or Not. I’d been on the radio before but only in Welsh. During those interviews, I was simply focussed on understanding the interviewer and getting a few coherent words out. Today, I’d be expected to sound literate and to be honest, I’d been forgetting names and essential details for days. The other guest was a writer called Konrad Marshall who’d written a book on the Richmond Football Club. A strange juxtaposition – football and Welsh fairy tales. Though as it turns out, we’d both been involved in a form of cultural immersion. After a short briefing, we were admitted to the recording studio. Disappointingly, I didn’t need to wear head phones but I’ve always wanted to so I took this photo anyway.

The interview went well. I didn’t forget anything too important. At least, nothing that the interviewer couldn’t prompt me about. I cycled back to Coburg for a hair cut and arrived too early for the appointment. Actually, I arrived late but the hairdresser was running behind. Which meant my plans to visit mum on the way to the launch had to be cancelled. I arrived at the library in time for the the evening staff’s dinner break. It was great to spend half an hour laughing and chatting with my library buddies. My book had been catalogued and covered ready for borrowing. There had apparently been some debate over to which section of the library it belonged. I suggested it should go straight into the classics section. Not sure if they’ll take me up on that suggestion. 😁

I set up my banner and my display table and waited for Alison Goodman to arrive. Just prior to the launch I received the first non-five star review of  my book (note to file, don’t check reviews prior to important literary events). On top of which, I noticed my protagonist’s name was spelled wrong on the back cover. Not a new error, one my publisher had been trying to fix for weeks, in a process not unlike putting out spot fires as files and editions on various platforms were updated, uploaded, printed, and then downloaded again. I took a deep breath and thought: Liz, time to let this book go…

Alison Goodman was a calm, reassuring presence and said some rather generous things about my book. We then did a short interview after which, I thanked some of the many people who’d supported me on my creative journey. All of which, we filmed Live on my Facebook author page. The interview is still there, if you’re not to cool for Facebook. If you are, then maybe you can sidle up to someone who has a Facebook account. We had people watching in Wales, England, Scotland, America, Sweden, Slovenia and South America. Maybe there were others too? I had a great Launch Day and you will be pleased to know I have been sleeping much better since. I believe my publisher may also have put out the last of the back blurb bushfires. Meanwhile, if you have a copy of The Tides Between with an error on the back cover, hang onto it, whatever you do, don’t send it to the charity shop, coz it might just be worth millions one day. 🤣🤣🤣

Killing me Softly

Today I launched launched Leisl Leighton’s romance novel Killing me Softly

Here is the launch speech:

Friends, this is a day that has been coming for a long time.

And as many of you have known Leisl longer than me, I expect you could well and truly out remember me in just how long this journey has actually been – through schooling and drama, through a degree in English literature and then on to writing scripts for her own theatre restaurant, Leisl has always been a novelist waiting in the wings.

But as you have not been asked to make this speech and I have, I will start today’s memories in 2008. And as Leisl is the first member of our writing group to have a full length manuscript published, I hope you will excuse me for indulging in a little nostalgia along the route.

I first met Leisl in 2008. She turned up at Balwyn writers clutching her notebook to her chest and, from the outset, she knew what she wanted to achieve. She’d been writing romanic suspense and fantasy for some time, she explained, and had received a number of encouraging rejection letters. She wanted to be part of a writing group to improve her craft and hoped to make a living as a romance writer.

Now, Balwyn writers was a bit of an odd writing group. It was run by me who knew very little about writing and attended by a motley assortment of characters who knew even less. We met once a month for the sheer thrill of reading our work aloud and receiving feedback. I don’t remember who was there that first night. Were you there Laura? I do remember that we didn’t even let Leisl read her work because she didn’t have the requisite number of printed copies. I often wonder why she came back at all? At the time, she was writing the early drafts of a romantic suspense novel called Sounding the Heart.

Over the months she became a regular attendee at Balwyn writers. Always with comments to make. Always with work to share. And although she was writing romance and I wasn’t and although she wrote prolifically and I plodded along at the pace of a turtle, I soon worked out hers were the comments worth listening to. I think she decided the same about me. It wasn’t long before we were reading, writing and exchanging work between meetings.

Looking back, it was a bit like the blind leading the blind. But we worked that out too. Somewhere around 2010 we broke away from Balwyn Writers and formed our own small writing group, with Laura, Denis and Chris.

We have been working together ever since.

And, Leisl, on behalf of the others, I think I can say that we have appreciated your support in the times of rejection and your generosity in times of success. We have also enjoyed watching you take these momentous steps along the path to publication with Destiny eRomance.

Leisl joined Romance Writers Australia in the same year she joined Balwyn Writers and began attending their conferences. She picked up critique partners in New Zealand the USA and in other parts of Australia. She started judging and organising RWA competitions and writing articles for HeartsTalk magazine. Joined another more romance focussed writing group, some of whose members are here today. She also started entering competitions. I’m not going to list your successes here, Leisl. There are too many. But in summary You’ve had five outright wins, made ten placings and been in the final round of about eleven Romance Writers competitions.

As I said, this is day that has been coming for a very long time.

But although, we, your writing buddies all knew you were going to make it, and, although you’ve had publishers expressing interest in your work, it all kind of happened by accident in the end, didn’t it?

You’d submitted a paranormal urban fantasy to Destiny, Penguin’s new ebook imprint, and though they they liked your work, they weren’t willing to commit to that particular novel. Almost as an after thought they asked, ‘do you have anything else to show us?’

‘Oh, well, I used to write romantic suspense,’ you admitted.

‘Really? They asked. ‘We’re looking for romantic suspense. Can you send us something?’

That’s when you pulled Sounding the Heart out of the drawer.

It had been placed in the Emerald Awards a few years back and won the Central Florida Romance writers touch of magic competition but never been picked up by a publisher until now, in 2013. For of course, Destiny loved Sounding the Heart.

We celebrate its release as Killing me Softly this afternoon.

But it hadn’t just been sitting in the drawer, had it Leisl? I doubt it needed too much dusting off at all? As I read the pre-release copy of Killing me Softly earlier this week, I realised how much work she’d done.

She’d started with a different scene, that’s the first thing I noticed. And it works really well by the way. She’d also sharpened your dialogue and given it a tangible sense of place. I’m breaking the writers golden rule here by not being specific about those changes because I don’t want to give too much away. But the setting is vivid and evocative. This gets a huge tick with me. As a reader and writer of historical fiction, I like to feel where a book is set. The novel’s action scenes are compelling. It’s romance scenes include all the hallmarks of her genre – but that is a given. Leisl never seems to have any trouble with plot or description. Her muse seems to follow the lead of strong images. You write towards an overarching sense of plot and story – all essential elements of suspense and epic fantasy writing.

But the change that stood out to me most in Killing me Softly, is how well you’d nailed the character motivations.

Ah…those old goals, motivations and conflicts. Or as Michael Hague put it the tug of war between a character’s essence and identity. Hard to do in any novel. But particularly hard in a romance novel when, let’s face, we all know the score. A couple are going to meet, have a mutual attraction, and then all sorts of obstacles are going to get in their way, but at the end of the novel, we know the main character is going to get laid.

The challenge for the romance writer, is to do this in a new and interesting way so that the same story, the same old primally important story of love and belonging seems fresh and new. So that the obstacles don’t feel like something made up by the writer but seem to somehow originate in the heart of the character.

You have achieved that in Killing me Softly. Your main character Alexia is a perfect mix of fear and fragility.

And having seen this novel in its inception and having walked part of that blind leading the blind journey with, Leisl, and having watched her enter competition after competition, seen her pick herself up and dust herself off after disappointments, watched her apply herself, and then re-apply herself, I know that this has been a day hard won.

It is also a day that she truly deserve.

We meet today to celebrate Leisl’s hard work and commitment, to toast to her success in Killing me Softly, and to invoke the continued leading of her muse in the coming years. For this is not the end of the journey, is it Leisl? Only the beginning of what you hope will be a long and fruitful writing career.

So, you’ve heard the speech. Now it’s time to buy the book. Just follow the link below.

Killing me Softly

Recollections Launch

I must say, when Kath asked me to launch Recollections 2011, I was a little concerned. Indeed, I wrote her an email saying something like this:
If you really want me to launch Recollections, of course, I’d be honoured. But maybe you should consider someone new? It’s hard to be impressive the second time round.
No need to be impressive she replied: We’d love you to do it.
Right, I thought great. What am I going to do now? It’s easy to create a bit of an impression when you’re unknown. As long as you aren’t a total disaster, everyone heaves a sigh of relief that this wannabe writer from Vermont has something vaguely entertaining to relate.
But when everyone expects you to be good, when in fact the organising committee has unanimously agreed to invite you back. You get a queer knotted feeling in the pit of your belly.
You are bound to fail.
Now Kath is an organised person. I’ve had months to get used to the idea of launching Recollections, 2011. But I have to admit, as the date loomed, the knots in my stomach only tightened. When Kath emailed last week to say Liliana would drop the anthology off at Ashburton library by one o’clock Friday afternoon, I made a beeline for the eight hundred’s section and started thumbing through books on public speaking.
Sadly, it was a waste of time.
I found books on Fearless public speaking. A volume on after dinner addresses. A plethora of advice on weddings, anniversaries and funerals. Even a tome or two on business lectures. But nothing about how to make a speech at eleven o’clock in the morning to a group of people who have heard (and probably remember) every inspirational thought you’ve ever had on the topic of writing.  
Friday, I woke in the early hours of the morning. I had an ache like a garden stake between my eyes. The words what am I going to say? ran round and round in my mind. I had nothing, I realised in the toss and turn of that night. I couldn’t accept the anthology. When Liliana came to drop Recollection off at the library, I’d have to tell her someone had died. Or that I’d lost my voice. Or worse, that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That I’d probably be in a straight jacket by the launch date.
Now, please don’t think I was reluctant to launch your anthology. I wanted to very much. Only… what was I going to say? What did I have that was new and fresh and inspirational? How could I going to honour the treasures you were placing in my hands?
By the time I picked up the anthology  my stomach resembled a macramé wall hanging. But I have to say, here and now, that my fears were groundless.
As soon as I opened the cover the knots in my belly began to soften. People’s names were familiar, of course – but the stories and poems were all so very different. I found forests and farms, in this volume, along with beaches and work postings. Stories about dolls, treasure chests and teddy bears, about getting a job for the first time, riding a camel, about charity, the joy of collecting, and strange ventriloquist dreams. I also found a horse who’d been put together all wrong. The pleasures of doing up a run down old house. Stories of the depression, a Carmelite convent and Nazi occupied Holland.
As I sat on the couch, Monday morning, with a notepad and highlighter pen in hand, I felt overwhelmed.
As if standing at the base of a waterfall.
My problem wasn’t what to say. It was: how am I ever going to sum up this stream of growing and journeying and remembering?
In the end, I came up with three words: memories, mistakes and meaning.
Let us start with memories.
One of the lovely things about reading another person’s memoirs is that they give you back fragments of your own life. Through reading your stories, I remembered my first ever pair of red shoes and how, as a delighted I child of six, I slept with them on my pillow the first night. I thought of the years my family had spent living in Fiji and how different theft looked in poverty’s light. I re-called watching the Salvos walk the streets of my childhood. How I’d been captivated by the coloured streamers on their tambourines. I remembered being bullied in the school yard. And, being one of the bullies. Pitted apricots and potato peelings, conjured up walking to school on cold misty Adelaide Hills mornings. Mum gave me bus money at the beginning of each week.
‘You can catch the bus,’ she said. ‘But if you walk, you can keep the cash.’
‘What? All of it?’ I asked
‘Yes, all of it.’
Needless to say, I walked to the three kilometres to school often, stashing the coins in my red rocket money box. But it wasn’t until I read your stories, that I realised that this was all part of mum’s clever strategy. She’d wanted me to walk to school. There was no such thing as childhood obesity in our family.
The second word I came up with was: mistakes.
            As I read I couldn’t help noticing that word failure cropped in a number of your stories. One story even asked the question, was it my fault? I felt the ‘failed’ nun’s pain of facing up to the past. Her struggle to move on. I experienced the horror of a young soldier being executed at dawn. For what? I asked myself. What was his mistake? Was it being a bad soldier? Or a decent human being?
Life teaches us lessons, doesn’t it? About honesty being better than lies, about ingenuity and letting go of children. About charity and helping others. About how to work hard and save. As we look back over our journey, we find ourselves wanting to right wrongs. To stand up to that nasty teacher. To re-live past embarrassments, to learn, to grow, and to seek resolution for our mistakes. This is all part of the richness of human experience. I find it wonderfully encapsulated in your stories.
Finally we come to the third word: Meaning.
Human beings are purposeful creatures. Not driven by instinct or programmed merely for blind survival, we seek patterns in the seemingly random events of our lives. It is no surprise, therefore, that many of the worlds sacred books are collections of stories. Events related at the fireside, that have grown and changed with each re-telling, yet somehow still bring meaning to each successive generation. For aren’t each of us on a journey? Do not we all take wrong turns at times? Haven’t we all been the stranger? The lost one? The injured one? In writing stories, are we not drawing threads from the past and joining them with who we are here and now.
In her story Dream Voices, Valda Martin wrote:
‘What a blessing to hear this unique voice, absolving me of my inner guilts and everyday trials of keeping positive in my struggle with sign language and trying to understand Debbie’s desires and needs.’
In Memoir, Eva Rainow asks:
‘How did the battlers of those times manage? From what I remember, it was having people around, not things, and the sense of space, the room to move slowly, to spend whole days in the blackberry patch.’
            ‘Who are you?’ Marg Tucker asks in the story James Burns. ‘I’m anxious to know more.’
In Acts of Random Kindness, Valerie Jeffreys concludes: ‘I hope that any Indian lady in Australia would be treated with the kindness I experienced in India.’
In Forests, Mieke Hammond writes about the wonder of sleeping out in a forest as a new migrant to Australia, concluding with the simple yet profoundly moving words:
‘That was my first introduction to some of the forests ‘down under’ – Australia, my country.’
The words, my country, brought a tingle to my spine.
For I too have learned to call this country home.
            So many lessons. So many reflections. So much meaning. I can’t possibly quote every story. But if we stand and watch and listen, with the age old wisdom of the liquid amber tree, we will find meaning in the ordinary event of our lives. For as St Columba once said:
‘If poet’s verse be but stories,
So be food and raiment stories,
So all the world is a story,
So is man of dust a story.’
Thank you so much for your stories, for your willingness to share the dust of your lives with me. And thank you also asking me to launch Recollections, 2011. It is a wonderful achievement.

Traveling Tales

Let me tell you about a new book called: Travelling Tales: the hourglass collection of short stories, poems and graphic images. 
 
The Redolant Writers (no it isn’t a spelling error) authors are:
 
Elizabeth Jane (that’s me, by the way) 
 
Matthew Revert
 
Ron Thomas
 
Andrew Barclay
 
Here is the blurb: ‘
 
The Redolant Writers takes you on a journey. 
 
Let us take you down paths you have secretly dreamt about.

Walk on the moon. See the globe as you never have done before. Slip into the Eperney Station. Travel independantly with the faithful internet as your guide. Age is no bar – it means you get there quicker. Go over the sea to Skye. Dream. Where are you now? Where would you like to be? Don’t be afraid, reach out and take what is truly yours.

 
Is this the inspiration you need? 
 
Read these stories and poems, mulled over wine and mountain stram water. 
The Redolant Writers are overjoyed to help you. Are you still sitting in your seat?’Here is a copy of the hand bill for our 
 
Book Launch:

 


You are now officially invited to the Launch to be held at the Station Street Cafe, Nunawading, on Saturday March 17th between 3 and 5pm.

 
See you there!
 
Travelling Tales is available on Amazon.com but it’s taking a while for the metadata to register our existence (can’t think why?) But it comes up if you search under ISBN: 9780987065100
 
If you are in my family, no need to purchase a copy. There will be one in your Christmas stocking. 🙂

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