The writing life can be confusing, hard work, amazing, exciting, and not for everyone. How can a writer live a genuine writing life? Is it possible to keep up with the quickly changing publishing scene, as well as learn new technology? Who better to ask then someone who has been around the publishing scene for a long time, Hazel Edwards.
I met Hazel in Gippsland in 2015, when she re-visited the area where she had lived as a teenager and talked with a few of the people mentioned in her just released memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake’ Being an Author’. I wasn’t in the memoir, but I read and reviewed it, and blogged about my meeting with Hazel. We’ve kept in touch since.
Hi Hazel, and welcome to my blog. The first post for 2017. Yay! What a way to start an exciting new year.
Q. What are your writing projects for 2017?
A. Those writers, whom I’ve helped to finish their books, call themselves my ‘Hazelnuts’. I enjoy helping aspiring writers, so I’m offering a Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office. First Friday of each month 10-1pm and the aim is to FINISH each participant’s book by the December class.
It’s aimed at procrastinators doing family histories but can apply to anyone who benefits from having an opportunity to share book-length W.I.P. (work in progress), each month. (The PRO in North Melbourne also has free parking which is great for regional writers).
I’ve also switched to writing an adult murder series with a celebrant sleuth. So, I’m currently researching weddings, funerals and cross cultural celebrations. Interviewing florists, celebrants, retirement home staff and caterers. Plus, working on my plotting. Nothing quite like saying ‘My real son is getting married this year to a lovely girl and I’m working out how a murder might occur, in fiction, at a wedding’.
Our co-written ‘Hijabi Girl’ has been optioned for other media, so I will be involved in further stories for our feisty Melek in a hijab who may become Australia’s ‘Pippi Longstocking’ just like Astrid Lindgren’s Scandinavian girl, except our 8 year old Melek starts a girls’ footy team in a mainstream Australian school.
It is important for authors to ‘speak up’ about the ideas world they inhabit, as they are potential problem-solvers via their books suggesting more tolerant approaches to diversity. A book can take a reader into a different culture for the length of that story and maybe beyond. Compassionate humour is more effective than propaganda. And young readers become adults who think, then act. But they need the literacy skills to start.
Recently I was filmed in my study workplace by Channel 9 News and the Copyright Agency. A film clip which spreads around social media is a more strategic way of commenting on literacy or copyright issues for authors. But you do have to tidy up a bit and wear some makeup and a colourful ‘book’ jacket which looks ok on camera, even if you are NOT the glamorous type. Luckily, I have a wonderful author friend Krista Bell who picks out appropriate ‘camera’ jackets, as I have no dress sense and think in abstract.
Wow! That is a lot of exciting news. From mentoring aspiring writers, to starting to write adult murder mysteries, having Hijabi Girl’ be optioned for other media as well as working on further stories for Melek. You have a busy year ahead.
Q. What are your best hints for aspiring writers?
Try collaboration. Co-writing a project gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, a deadline and having fun together too. With technology, such as Skype, your co-writer can live anywhere. You can share the frustrations, rejections and the small triumphs as well as learn technology and new ways of sharing those stories.
Secondly, be businesslike. ‘Author’ is a brand. What are the words you’d like readers to associate with your name as an author, even if you write in different genres and formats? I’d like my author brand to be: Quirky humour, Issues based and Authorpreneurial.
Thirdly. Write. Don’t just talk about writing.
Great advice, Hazel.
"Write. Don’t just talk about writing."
Q. Could you share ‘behind the pages’ of your work?
My memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author’ was my candid sharing of the real life of a longterm author who also has a family and community involvement. One of my aims in 2017 is for the memoir to be audio recorded, as many readers now listen on various devices in transit.
But sometimes books take on ‘another life’.
In 2017 & 2018, my ‘Sir Edward ‘Weary ‘ Dunlop” Aussie Heroes series book is included in the ANZAC ‘Behind the Pages’ exhibition touring Brisbane and other libraries. Instigated by New Zealander Maria Gill, these war -themed collections of children’s books focus on Australian and New Zealand problem-solvers. Lots of educational resources provided. Stories can have long term lives in new formats, once they are written.
And a themed touring libraries and galleries exhibition could be relevant for other book subjects.
So back to the computer to write.
Thank you so much for coming onto my blog today, Hazel, and sharing your experiences with us.
Check out Hazel's website. It's jam packed with wisdom and insights, and you can keep up to date on where she is at and her books that are available.
e-books such as ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ or 'Writing a Non Boring Family History’ are available here.
‘Hijabi Girl’ is available from BookPOD
Memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ is available from Booktopia who carry most of Hazel’s print titles.
Check out: 'Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages'
And if you want to know more about Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office, check out: Finish Writing Your Book with Hazel Edwards
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Recently I had the rare (I live in a rural area), and exciting privilege of meeting an amazing author, Hazel Edwards, at my local bookstore, Reader’s Emporium in Traralgon, Victoria. She was in town to visit the region promoting her new book, Not Just a Piece of Cake Being an Author. It is the number 202 book in her books published belt.
After making a visit to Traralgon Secondary College earlier in the day, myself and other interested parties sat down to an informal chat with Hazel. Hazel had attended the school as a teenager while living in the area. Hazel shared about her day at the school, her discussions with the students, as well as her time living in Glengarry at the local General Store.
“Living in a General Store was a great place for a writer. It was the gossip centre,” she said.
Hazel was warm, friendly, and engaging. She was more than willing to share about her writing journey. She chatted to each of individually about why we were there, and to give some helpful advice.
In the group there was: a self-published crime novelist, two ladies who loved her Hippo series, my daughter and me (an emerging children’s book author). It was truly a wonderful and enlightening experience.
Hazel had many pearls of wisdom to share; lessons that she had learnt over the years. Goodness, she has been a writer since she was 20 years old and had many anecdotes to share. Or as Hazel calls them, ‘Anecdultery,’ ‘embellishing and re-telling stories.’ They were hilarious and had us chuckling.
For example, when she was a young child, her very Baptist Grandmother, would read her Bible stories. Hazel kept going to the toilet so that she would miss all the gory bits. When she got to school she had the opportunity to borrow a book from the Grade 2 shelves and… well I think I might let you just read her book to find out what happened, and what the two seemingly completely different stories had to do with each other.
Needless to say, I have nearly finished her memoir. I have found it engaging, and ‘non-boring.’ It was not set out like a normal memoir. There are many anecdotes and stories of Hazel’s life as a writer. These kept me enthralled at times; laughing at others. I now have an even greater realization of the impact a good story can have on a child. Furthermore, as I read of her eight day trip in Western Australia to visit schools and libraries, I was glad that I was in bed and about to go to sleep. I felt exhausted just reading about Hazel’s school visits. It was a full on, flat out trip. Wow!
In reading it however, I discovered what it takes to be an author. The time and energy required. The preparation for author visits. There is so much involved after your book has hit the shelves. Yet it so rewarding to hear that your story has impacted and made a difference in the lives of your readers.
Though I have yet to have a book published, my stories have been read to local school children with very positive feedback. Two years ago, I wrote and illustrated a story specifically for an orphanage that I am connected with in the Philippines. The story was an earlier version of Raymund and the Fear Monster. To this day, they still read and enjoy it. I also gave a copy to a local school teacher who uses it in her classroom.
There is an incredible amount of satisfaction in writing. There is even more when you send ‘your babies out into the world’ (Hazel Edwards) and the readers make the characters their own.
After the talk, Hazel happily signed books, answered any further questions and she gave me some very helpful advice.
So, thank you Hazel, for taking the time to visit with us. I am so pleased that you came. And, though I missed the deadline to apply for a mentorship through the Australian Society of Authors, I most certainly will be applying for the 2016 – 2017 round.
Hazels' book, Not Just a piece of Cake Being an Author, is available through Booktopia and all good bookstores.
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You can find more about me, and read my children's stories at Creative Kids Tales
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