Friday, October 29, 2010


Today I have a Guest Blogger: Angela Sunde. This is a first for me! What it means is that I don't have to dream up appropriate questions or do any of the hard work. Angela is just going to do all that and all I have to do is paste what she says on this blog and sit back and enjoy!In case you don't already know, Angela is the author of Pond Magic - one of Penguin's Aussie Chomps series.

If you check her blogsite at
you will see what a wonderful time she had with her book launch last Sunday.

Today Angela is going to talk about Promoting your First Book and Planning a Book Launch
Welcome Angela! It's now all over to you.

Thank you, Mabel
‘Author branding’ is a term I first heard a couple of years ago at a writers’ conference. The concept made complete sense to me; the author is the brand. And while many writers may find self-promotion daunting, I took it on with gusto and began using my full author name on all correspondence, including comments I left on other writing blogs.

But just what is a brand and how do you create an author brand?
Someone once told me it is: ‘a promise, an experience and a memory.’

Recently a writing friend complimented me on my website. As I encouraged him to create his own, he said: “Oh, no. I don’t have a product.” The truth is you don’t need a product (or a published book) to promote your author brand. In fact the earlier you start the better. As a writer you are already producing ideas readers may find interesting. You are self-employed – a one man band. And, unless this is a hobby for you, you should begin to look upon your writing as a business and yourself as a professional. Once you do, walking into a pitch session with a potential publisher or agent will be so much less intimidating.

The best way to begin promoting your author brand is to start small with a business card and membership of various writing groups, centres or online clubs, such as Jacketflap, SCBWI or your local writers’ centre. These will often give you the opportunity to create an online profile of a few paragraphs on the member’s page of their website. You can even include a professional photograph – not one taken at the beach last holiday. Your paragraph should highlight your strengths, life experience - which is so important for writers - and your preferred genre with perhaps even a blurb about your work in progress.

Once you’re feeling a little more confident, consider beginning a blog. Blogs are a perfect platform for writers. It’s a way to keep up your writing habit and connect with other writers, readers and publishers. It’s not necessary to blog more than three to four times a month and don’t forget to leave comments on other writers’ blogs. Cross-promotion and sharing links help to get your name and your brand out there.

To promote my author brand I also use social media such as Facebook. It’s possible to create an individual author page and limit your friends to only author/illustrators.

As your online presence grows, so does your author platform. The idea is to create as many opportunities or platforms as possible for you to profile your author brand (you) and later on your published work. In anticipation of my first book, Pond Magic, being published this year, I also created a website, using a free online program called Wix. The simple drag and drop system allowed me to be as creative as I wanted and design a truly personal space on the web, which reflected my ‘brand’.

So now I had: online membership profiles, a social media profile page, a blog and a website. I was also in daily email contact with other writers through several Yahoo groups. I had exhausted all cost-free avenues for online self-promotion and my author platform was ready for the release of my first book, Pond Magic. Now it was simply a matter of utilising this extensive platform to market my book within my budget of next to zero.

Self-marketing is common sense really. There are five possibilities for telling the world about your book: online, email, snail mail, face to face and word of mouth.

Begin with online. I promoted Pond Magic on my website and my blog by creating a book profile page on each, with cross links to each other and also to Pond Magic’s page on the Penguin Australia website. Then I created a separate Facebook page for Pond Magic and an events page for the launch, sending out invites to everyone I knew. As the news spread, it snow-balled and hundreds of fans joined with over half of them people I did not know. I added links on the Facebook page back to my blog and website and vice versa and kept the updates regular as the launch drew nearer. And to create extra interest my main character, Lily Padd, answered all posts left on the wall.

Then send out emails. Create a media kit to send out together with your launch invite to reviewers, newspapers, e-newletters, bloggers, children’s magazines and radio stations. Include a professional photo of yourself, an author biography, a picture of the book’s cover and a media release with a promotional blurb about the book including the launch event details. Keep it all to one to two pages. Even if they never reply, at least you will now be on their radar.

The media is always looking for a unique angle. I promoted Pond Magic’s launch as a fun family day out with free activities, craft, games, music, entertainment and prizes. And our Gold Coast radio station Coast FM ABC 91.7 came on board to promote a local author by giving the Pond Magic Book Launch a promotional plug the day before the event. This was a brilliant result that contributed to the number of people at the Pond Magic launch – over 270!

Snail Mail and Face to Face. A postcard or flyer is a wonderful promotional tool to use when introducing your book to libraries, schools and bookshops. For Pond Magic I had a postcard printed which included a picture of the front cover, the title, publisher, ISBN, a short blurb, some brief author information and most importantly contact details, including my blog and website. I was also fortunate enough to have my promo postcard included in the take home bags at this year’s CYA Conference.

Please visit my blog: to view photos of the Pond Magic book launch and my website:

So, after all that, do you know a little more about my author brand?

Fun, creative, flamboyant, international
and above all…

Thank you, Angela! Your post was amazing ... and something I'll be reading and rereading. 

This Blog Tour has visited the following places. Don't forget to drop by for a visit

22nd October – Write and Read with Dale – Dale Harcombe
Review and Developing a Character

23rd October – Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog
Getting Published for the First Time

24th October – Cat Up Over - Catriona Hoy
What Girls Read

26th October – Tuesday Writing Tips – Dee White
Writing to this Length

27th October – Kids’ Book Capers – Boomerang Books
Review and Where Story Ideas Come From

28th October – Kids Book Review
The Aussie Chomp Format

29th October – Tales I Tell - Mabel Kaplan  [You are here1]
Promoting your First Book & Planning a Book Launch

30th October – SherylGwyther4Kids
Once upon a time in a far away place…

Please leave a comment if you've visited, to encourage both Angela and me!
Thanks! Mabel K (aka Belka37)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 by Lara Morgan
Walker Books Australia
October 2010

The Book Trailer

Reflections on Rosie’s past and future
When I chose this topic ‘Reflections on Rosie’s past and future, Lara said: “An interesting topic you've put down. Just wondering when you say Rosie's past/future are you hoping for me to talk about the character herself or the creation of the book? I'm not quite clear on it.”

That’s when I realised how ambiguous my initial statement had been. Of course, it could be either or both, though my initial idea concerned Rosie herself. But then, I had not yet read the book.

In the back of my mind questions tickled. There was a curiosity about Rosie’s awareness of the past 500 years. Had she looked back in history and pondered on the issues that had brought the world into its current mess?
[In 2010 there were a growing number of people concerned with the possible effects of climate change and dire warnings of the things that might happen unless appropriate and urgent action was taken.]

Is Rosie seeing the results of 500 years of the failures of the past - seeing what those who understood the issues in 2010 hoped would not happen? There are hints. She alludes to … Before the Melt? … The wall that’s been there hundreds of years … the old city — and a Newperth, geothermal powered
Then there’s the cost of water (already a 2010 reality) and the appearance of ‘the feral’.

After reading the book
At one level The Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis is a rollicking ‘cloak and dagger’ mystery/adventure tale with a touch of teenage romance and angst. Beneath there bubbles dark undercurrents of interacting and multiplying effects generated by the realities of climate change, population shifts, social engineering; and the dehumanising processes where science and technology have become ‘god’ and at the mercy of political intrigue.  And I loved the ambiguity of Rosie (all things rosy) and black!

Let me introduce Lara:
Lara is a Western Australia writer living in Geraldton. The Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis is the first in a series of Rosie Black stories and Lara's first YA novel. You can find out more about her on her blog at

Welcome Lara! Now I have some questions for you.

M: Rosie Black’s world is one of social isolation, community fragmentation, increasing state/external pressures leading to the loss of personal power, heightened anxiety and increasing violence. A disturbing glimpse of where the world of 2010 is headed unless …? Yet how different is the world of Rosie Black to our own?
Lara: I’d say Rosie’s world is an extreme version of our own – and I’m talking about Western Society here – especially if you have a look at how the government has been slowly increasing its involvement in our day to day lives. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly violent regulated under the guise of ‘public safety’ but which I see as having the potential to become something much more. Police powers are growing and there are more and more rules about what you can and cannot do in public, from wearing bike helmets to curfews and a push to have people to be on the lookout for ‘suspicious’ activity in their neighbours, it’s all elements that can lead to a society like Rosie’s where the government has ultimate power over you and there is little to no room for dissent.

M: Is this a cautionary tale in the tradition of earlier tales? (For example George Orwell’s Animal Farm)
Lara: It is in some ways but I try not to be too heavy handed about it. I think it is more a cautionary tale in terms of environmental impact than social. I am very concerned with climate change and our apparent lack of ability to pull together and do something about it. I’d like to be hopeful but given the way we are going it is difficult.

M: Which came first the character or the plot?(i.e. an independent smart girl in 2600 who needed a challenge OR a world in crisis in need of a character to lead the way?)
Lara: Well I would say that for me the story always starts with the character first and the plot is driven by who that is and their circumstance. So character definitely came before plot but before both of those I started out wanting to write about Earth post climate change. That is unusual for me. Generally character comes before the world building but this time it was different in that I started off wanting to write a story set in the Earth’s future. I didn’t know what the story was but I knew it was going to be a young adult novel.

M: To what extent does the book do more than paint a landscape of the worst fears of today’s environmentalists?
Lara: Well I hope it offers an exciting adventure story as well. At the heart of it, this is a story about growing up and figuring out who you are and what you want to do, because regardless of the environmental and social background of anything I write what I’m really interested in is people. I like to explore how characters deal with terrible circumstance, how they overcome and move on – if they do – and what they learn. It’s always all about the character and their journey and in this case that’s Rosie.
... The character of Rosie followed very quickly. I’d written a short story a while back had a character in it that was very similar to Aunt Essie and set in a world very similar to the world I’d been thinking of for The Chronicles. So then Rosie just sort of appeared, which often happens for me, and I started discovering who she was and then from there what her story was going to be. 

M: As the story develops in what ways does the reader see Rosie herself change and grow as a person?
Lara: Genesis is the start of Rosie discovering a greater sense of purpose than what she has before Helios and Pip come into her life. It’s a trial by fire really as she has to face some scary situations and learn to trust her ability to get through it, but also to trust others as well – which is not something which comes easily to her. 

M: The story ends on a note of unfinished business. Where to now for Rosie Black? Has Pip really gone forever (or would that be telling)?
Lara: Genesis is the start of Rosie discovering a greater sense of purpose than what she has before Helios and Pip come into her life. It’s a trial by fire really as she has to face some scary situations and learn to trust her ability to get through it, but also to trust others as well – which is not something which comes easily to her.

M: Thank you, Lara, for visiting my blog today and sharing more insights into the life of Rosie Black from Genesis - and beyond!
Lara: I've enjoyed looking at the story from different angles, Mabel - and having the opportunity to visit your blog.

For more about The Rosie Black Chronicles and the Book Trailer go to

The first three YA readers (of any age) to add a comment to this post and includes an email address so I can contact them will receive a copy of 'The Rosie Black Chronicles' courtesy of the publisher, Walker Books Australia. Others will be eligible to receive a bookmark.

Follow the blog tour below
Oct 11 Who is Rosie Black?

Oct 12 Writing tips on creating a futuristic world.
Tuesday Writing Tips

Oct 13 The Publishing Process

Oct 14 Writing YA.

Writing a Fantasy Series

Oct 15 Interview

Oct 16 Interview

Oct 17 Writing sci fi

Oct 18 Heroines in YA

Oct 19 The Boy in this story; creating male characters in heroine driven YA.

Rosie Black’s past and future  [You are here!]

Oct 20 Interview

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Sing Africa SingSelected poems
by Pamela Ateka
Published 2004 by Community Focus Group,Nairobi, Kenya

In 2005 I coordinated an International Storytelling Festival in Perth Western Australia: Storytelling on the Edge. Before I knew it the programme had taken on a life of its own. Storytellers from all states/territories of Australia, as well as from Canada, England, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United States of America, made contact, wanting to be part of this event. So many people from so many backgrounds — and that’s how I met twenty-eight year old, Pamela Ateka from Nairobi!
...As I read Pamela Ateka’s letter and proposal, something inside me sang. Here was a performance that promised to be as unique to Australian storytelling as it was ‘on the edge’ All at once I knew we had our Keynote Speaker/Performer.

Dressed in traditional costume, Pamela captivated all with her humour, her dance, her drumming and her ability of involve her audience as she recounted ‘The Parable of Writing’: a story she had developed to teach the principles of HIV/AIDS prevention. It told of a young man who, like the prodigal son, left his village home for the city lights. Here, he contracted HIV/AIDS and returned home, sick and dying, to experience the acceptance of a caring community.

... In the words of one of the participants: At the Perth Storytelling Festival in 2005, many of us were lucky enough to meet and hear Pamela Ateka from Kenya tell her amazingly vibrant and inspiring stories. We became aware of the great work she is involved with in Nairobi caring for AIDS orphans and using story as an educational tool in schools to inform students about the threat of AIDS and the ways in which the transmission of the disease can be avoided
... It was only in the breaks at meal times and between events that I began to appreciate the passion and dedication with which this young artist and peer educationalist committed her life.


‘Pamela,’ I asked, ‘where did the idea of this work come from?’
She looked at me and smiled a gentle smile. ‘My sister,’ she whispered, ‘my sister died from AIDS in 2000. I couldn’t understand. She left a small son and I took him to my heart and my home.’
How hard was that?
It just seemed right … I was suddenly aware of the growing number of orphans and I knew I had to do something about it.
But you did have other personal and family commitments?
Yes, apart from my nephew, I had a young daughter of my own, Joy Pendo … but I couldn't stop thinking how I’ve always loved poetry and acting, and I should use these skills to good purpose. So I talked with my friends and came up with a plan to use poetry and storytelling to raise money for the care of children orphaned by AIDS, and to create awareness in society at large.
Your poetry and acting took on a particular flavour - focus. Tell me about that.
I developed what I call ‘edutainment’. I wanted to increase HIV/AIDS awareness through theatre and poetry, and using story, as an educational tool in schools to inform students about the threat of AIDS and the ways in which the transmission of the disease can be avoided.
But why performance?
Performance is the language that everyone understands. Families won't come to a lecture; but they will come to see me perform. And off of that experience, they find it easier to talk about sex and AIDS with their children.
Apart from your artistic skills, did you need other training?
I’ve always been a bit of a social activist – concerned about injustice and human rights – especially for women and children in my country. I had a wonderful opportunity to join a community-based training programme for community groups and their organizers run by the East Side Institute ( — part of a growing international movement of healthcare professionals, scholars, youth educators, and artists seeking to use performance to reinitiate and advance human development.
So your work didn’t stop with writing and performance to highlight community needs?
Oh no! Just looking around Nairobi and seeing hungry and orphaned children on the streets, pushed me into taking more hands on action. With the help of friends and volunteers, I founded a Community Focus Group. We set up a feeding programme. Initially, the feeding centre catered for 26 children orphaned by AIDS, who came daily at lunch times and received a meal and moral support from the helpers. Over time the children were found host families who were, in turn, assisted with food packages, and money for school fees and uniforms.Today the centre provides for almost one hundred orphans.
Who funded this programme? Government? Corporate sponsors?
Oh no! I was very inexperienced about fund raising. The Government wasn’t interested and corporate sponsors were wary of an unknown group with no track record.
So what did you do?
I turned to my local community for support -- organizing fundraising events, where I would perform my poetry and tell stories. The costs of the feeding centre were met by fees for performances and by the income-generating activities such as jewellry and craft making of volunteers, most of whom were young, unemployed college-leavers living in the slum area. Then there were the royalties from my book of poetry and from poems published in various newspapers. Many local businesses also offered support. I was able to organise clothing drives and find partners willing to offer the older children job training.
Where are you at now with all this?
The programme currently has three staff and three volunteers who help young people, ages 7-14. Another 200 children are on the waiting list. Most of them, like my nephew, are orphans and living with relatives.
And your performances?
That’s expanded enormously. Coming to your Festival in Perth was a wonderful experience. I made many new contacts. Some of the storytellers there helped me market jewellery; and, one man from the group set up a donation scheme from which I receive regular contributions.
But Perth wasn’t your only international venture, was it? You have taken your performance to quite a number of countries outside Kenya.
Yes, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to present and perform in many countries, including South Africa, Egypt, UK, Spain, Mexico, Ethiopia and Uganda
I understand that you returned to Nairobi from the festival in Australia and were on a plane to America before you hard scarcely time to catch your breath. I hope your performances there went as well as the ones you did here.
I had a wonderful time there too. But I was very tired
Not much wonder. In the midst of all this were planning your wedding and preparing for the birth of a new baby.
...Pamela, it has been refreshing to talk with you again and recall our first meeting. Your Perth festival performance of the "Parable of Writing" will long be remembered across Australia (and to other parts of the world where festival folk carried it). And here in Perth, the folk at the Aids Support Centre were greatly uplifted by your visit. I've also had good feedback from the Church groups you visited as well.
I want to thank you and the Storytelling Guilds around Australia so much for your continuing support. Poetry and storytelling are part of the program’s staples, helping to “soothe the children’s souls.”

On 25 Match, 2006 Pamela married Charles Muthiora. They have a baby daughter Shantel Neema Kagwiria (meaning ‘song of Grace’ in Swahili).
...On a sadder note, Pamela’s mother died in a supermarket fire earlier in 2010.
Yet Pamela continues her work.

To support Pamela’s work go to:

A copy of Sing Africa Sing may be purchased from
Community Focus Group
PO Box 447-00518