Book Expo Australia 2015

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A couple of weekends ago was the second annual Book Expo Australia held at Sydney Olympic Park. With only one previous year to compare it to there was an uncertainty about what to expect, and with last year having a few issues, it was interesting to see what had been improved and learnt from their inaugural year.

Entering the hall on Saturday morning it was immediately clear of the differences. While last year there were stalls filling the hall regarding a range of books and book related things, this year was much sparser though still filled with interesting content.

Publishers of both traditional and other were present, stalls filled with information about publishing your book. There were stalls where authors sat with their books on display that you could buy then and there and have them signed, and there were some gorgeous artworks and book and cover illustrations stalls as well. In addition there was a book sale running that had tables filled with books all going for bargain prices with deals such as 3 for $10, or $5 per book.

Unfortunately there were a couple of negatives. I’d have loved more sessions on offer, with a bit more variety. Even though last year’s sessions didn’t run all that well, the topics were interesting and the day was longer to fit more things in. This time Saturday and Sunday’s schedule were identical and there were only a couple of sessions I wanted to go to. Having said that though, the sessions themselves were much improved organisation wise compared to last year.

There had already been a few cancellations before the event started, with the Book Bloggers conference losing its room. Information from the Facebook page mentioned it being moved to an informal location which was a shame, even more so the confusion on the day finding it. I missed even this informal gathering, mainly because there was no set time for it to occur so there was no way to know when to show up and when I did it had apparently already happened. The official conference sounded awesome, there was going to be tips about how to write helpful reviews, how to approach negative reviews, dealing with requests, and social media presence among other things. Hopefully the same conference can get up for next year’s Book Expo.

I am a bit annoyed I missed the bloggers session, both that it was officially cancelled and that the informal gathering wasn’t organised or advertised that well. Having missed the meeting that apparently had already happened in the morning, I walked past a second one as I was heading home which was well underway and too late to join in with, I believe this second one was a book vloggers gathering though.

On to the positives though! The Fantasy seminar about world building was an absolute joy to attend. The three speakers were Tracey Joyce, Patricia Leslie, and Rob Clague who all gave excellent advice about their own experience and how they tackle building an entire fantasy world. Better yet before the session started I had an informal chat with one of the speakers about my own Fantasy work and my issues with my upcoming NaNo idea.

The second session I attended was supposed to be about Romance writing, and how to draw the line between romance and erotica, but the brief must have been lost somewhere because it was just authors discussing their own works, and their writing process. It was a bit weird, a bit boring, but it also wasn’t very long so that was a bonus. A few tips on writing romance managed to slip through so that was something. There were other sessions about mystery crime and autobiographies, climate fiction and getting kids to read. I didn’t attend any of these but they sounded interesting.

Away from stalls and seminars there were other activities going on throughout the hall. There were activities with illustrator Dave Hackett, and at one point during the day there was a poetry slam on the floor that I managed to catch. It wasn’t all books and reading though, there were some craft stalls; there was even a stall where you could craft or buy beautiful decorations to make your very own fairy garden.

Despite there only being a couple of dozen stalls, they were interesting and had great information. Publishers and authors had their details and books on display, and there were a steady crowd attending so striking up a conversation about reading and writing and books was not hard. I only attended the Expo on Saturday, and for its second year the organisers did a pretty good job. There was variety in the stalls, and for the limited seminars there was some variety and different experiences. Having seen how it’s evolving in these early years, I am eager to see where the Expo is going to go and I look forward to seeing it grow and expand into something even bigger and better in coming years.

Book Expo Australia: Sunday

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Today I attended the second day of Book Expo Australia and while some things were the same, other bits were different. Having gone on Saturday there was not as greater need to wander the stalls but I had some time to kill before my first seminar so I took another lap and found a couple more that were interesting. I swung by the Booktopia table and noticed they had the new John Marsden book on display which wasn’t there yesterday. It looks awesome, and I used all of my self control not to just grab it and run off before anyone could stop me. I will have to wait for its release just like everyone else.

The crowd seemed around the same if not slightly more than yesterday. Like before there were places where there were a lot of people while others had very few so depending where you stood if looked either empty or busy. The fighting knights returned which was fun to watch, and at one stage there was a princess and a knight fighting . As I was getting lunch nearby I could hear the announcer asking whether the pirate would beat the Scotsman in the next battle. The consensus around the food cart was the Scotsman, naturally.  A few minutes later this was confirmed.

One of the differences I noticed was that they had started announcing the seminars that were on which was really great. Just before they were starting an announcement was made and told us what ones were about to start and what rooms they were in. This was great because while we were given a basic list of what seminars were on (if you didn’t print the schedule straight from the website), having them told to you reminded you they were on and where, plus let you decide if you wanted to make any last minute decisions on going to something.

The first session I went to was Writing Children’s Books. With only three of us in there it was very intimate but Michael Stone from Little Steps Publishing did a fantastic job. Lynette Ralston was supposed to join him but he told us he couldn’t find her, but unlike yesterday when one presenter was absent, Michael did a wonderful job on his own. He talked to us about the numerous avenues of getting a children’s book published, and the processes involved. He also showed us some of their published books and the ideas behind them and the effort that went into them. It was fascinating to hear about how something as seemingly simple as a picture book comes to be and it is a lot more complicated than people realise. With word limit restrictions and decisions to make about illustrations, design, book size and the all important cover, it was amazing to hear about how these books are created.

I also went to the 7 Sins of Publishing. That was also a great session. Dan Kelly from Boolarong Press was funny, inclusive and engaging meaning you couldn’t help but have fun. The sins were what you’d expect: thinking writing the book was the easiest part, not understanding all the work that goes into it later or how important editors are, as well as the importance of marketing and the problem with thinking that traditional publishing is the best option.

My last session was supposed to be another short story session, but after 15 minutes of waiting and having to go an ask a volunteer what was happening, we were informed that no one was coming. It wasn’t officially cancelled like the one yesterday; the presenters just didn’t show up. I asked how could they have forgotten, and if they had wouldn’t the announcement remind them but it turns out the announcements were stopped because people it seems were complaining that it interrupted listening to or giving readings. Which just seems incredible insane to me, for 10 or 15 seconds once an hour or so to let people know what is happening it disrupted people listening to readings so much everyone had to suffer. It was certainly a better system than having to watch poor authors and presenters trying to spruik their own sessions from the door to those within shouting range.

Considering the two short story sessions were pretty much the reason for going to this expo, it’s hard not to be disappointed that they were the real let down of my weekend. Overall I would like to think the weekend was a success in some ways, but in others there were some clear problems. Being the first year it is hard to judge, and the volunteers did their best with what they had but you can’t ignore the fact that being there you wouldn’t help feel that some of it was a little unorganised. It was an interesting contrast that the same event could produce. Presenters not showing up and seminars being cancelled was certainly the biggest problem for me. And with only one food cart and two coffee carts certainly limited the choices for lunch. But on the other hand, the people who ran their stalls did a wonderful job. There was a lot of information to take and you get to talk to many different authors, people, and publishers throughout the day. And what seminars that did run were often very good and even though a few had issues, the remaining ones were excellent. They were helpful, informative, interesting, and the presenters were really passionate about what they were discussing. I learnt a lot from those, and as per usual, came away filled with inspiration and a desire to go home and write something.

I am looking forward to seeing how the Book Expo will improve next year, maybe a few lessons perhaps can be learnt from its first year. Already set up with a date in October 2015 it hopefully will be a bit more refined, while still maintaining the bits that made it great this year.

Book Expo Australia 2014: Saturday

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Today I attended the Book Expo Australia and aside from coming home very tired with sore feet, I also came away with a few books and freebies, but also a bunch of new authors to read and will no doubt fall in love with.

As it is the first year of the Expo there was a small crowd, but still rather decent. As we wandered up and down the stalls it was really interesting seeing what books were out and seeing publishers and authors known and new. The freebie book I got was The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss, but I also got A Mad and Wonderful Thing by Mark Mulholland and Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary by Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne as well. All three were already on my to read list which was great so I look forward to being able to read them.

It was a fun and interesting day. Getting to chat with various authors and publishers was really fun, and I even managed to get a picture with John Purcell from Booktopia in the process. I also found out a few new ways to improve my blog which was an added bonus.

There were a range of stalls covering a range of genres, books, styles, interests, everything anybody might be interested in. Truly the amount of bookmarks and things I have come away from it with is great and I am looking forward to being able to sit down and go through them, adding more books to my every growing to read pile.

It wasn’t just author and publisher stalls though, there were a few illustrators and artists teaching kids and adults alike on how to drawn cartoons. Walking past them today made me again wish I was a better drawer. There was even a wonderful display of knights battling in an arena which amused me as I passed them throughout the day.

Where there was a small downside was with a couple of the seminars. I can only speak for the ones I attended, and I’m sure others were great, but my first session of the day that I had been looking forward to faltered slightly when the author who was supposed to speak with a publisher about short stories and anthologies didn’t show up, meaning the poor publishing guy had to try and hold the session on his own unexpectedly. To his credit he did a decent job, and we got out early as a result which meant I could jump into another session I was interested in so not all was lost. The second disappointing session was later in the afternoon and it was cancelled completely. I don’t know what was happening; the general consensus seemed to be poor communication, so hopefully my few experiences were the few amongst the many as there were certainly a lot more seminars happening on a range of other topics that I’m sure were wonderful.

I really don’t want to give the impression that they were all bad, the last session I attended was excellent. Belinda Williams, Kaz Delaney, Adina West discussed with Shannon Curtis the darker side of romance and the various paranormal elements they included in their books. Discussing the paranormal aspects of the romance world was great and I got to learn more about each author’s books and approaches to the paranormal romance genre. Having read a few paranormal style romances and other paranormal stories lately it was interesting to listen to three very different takes on the genre and the degrees in which the paranormal plays a role.

For those of you coming tomorrow you should definitely come and check out Belinda, Kaz, and Adina at their stall. I was there for about ten minutes today chatting with them, and they are all super lovely people and listening to them in their seminar was even better. I have met Kaz multiple times but it was a pleasure meeting Adina and Belinda as well. If you are interested in some interesting paranormal romances you should go and check out their stall. They are located near some very comfy looking giant pillows so what I suggest you do is grab a copy of their books and then go and sit on the large and colourful pillow chairs and have a read!

I am heading back tomorrow for another day of fun with no real plan which should lead me into some interesting stalls and seminars. If you’re also coming don’t forget to check all the stalls and aisles because you may find some real gems hiding in plain sight!

You can check out their website, blog, and calendar to see if there is something that sparks your interest.

News

NewsLet’s see, what has happened since the last news post. The main thing I have been doing is reading which is nice. This month I was inundated with review requests from people (which is awesome!) so I have been enjoying all the books I have been asked to review which has been keeping me out of trouble. Since the last few days in July I have had a book pile that grew to 16 books that needed reviewing, most before the end of August, so really, that’s all I have been doing, slowly making my way through those. It has been ok so far, though we’re at the sticky end now trying to catch up after some busy non reading days but I have read and discovered some brilliant books as a result of this chaos. I have one book and half of two more books to go from which I should hopefully be able to squeeze into these final days, then I get to take a look at the September pile! I have only got ten or so lined up at the moment for September so they should be a lot easier to manage.

Away from my reading schedule I am gearing up to attend Book Expo Australia in Sydney this weekend which should be awesome. I am really looking forward to going and hopefully getting to report back for those who can’t make it. After that on Monday night I have been invited to attend the Hachette Young Adult Night which should also be super amazing. The special guest of the night is Laini Taylor, author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone  plus many others, more recently Dreams of Gods and Monsters. There is going to be goodies and giveaways and many surprises so there’s that to also look forward to!

I also finally got my review page up and running so if you want to check out a snazzy listing of all the authors and books I have reviewed feel free to check that out. I am still working on the final touches of the Review Policy page though but a lot of info is already on the Contact page anyway so that’s a start for now. I’ve also started my Weekly Wrap Ups, a simple post each Sunday highlighting the posts of the week, lets you catch up if you miss any, I may still change the image design yet but it works for now. Other than that other blog plans are still in development and not worth discussing as of yet.

Away from blog news I must gush about my recently acquired tiny ball of fluff known to society as a puppy but those with true knowledge understand it is in fact a tiny baby Ewok. She is adorable, her name is Coco, and she is small and bouncy and fluffy and just wonderful to stare at all day and forget important things need doing. She is a Lhasa Apso, similar to a Shi Tzu, and as I was reminded by a friend, the same dog as Milhouse’s dog in The Simpsons which is cool. To reaffirm the cute I will offer a picture.

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I will hear no words against the Ewok theory. Those of you on Twitter may have already been perplexed by many an Ewok reference, and now you know why. She makes for a good writing companion, but she also makes for a great distraction to review writing and book reading as well. There will no doubt be many Coco updates as time goes by.

I did manage to finish reading Halfdan Hussey’s To the Dogs this afternoon and it was wonderful, I did not want it to end. I will have a review up for that tomorrow or the next day, but until then I will have tomorrow a release day blitz so keep an eye out for that.

So that’s what has been taking up all of my August. Now that winter is coming to an end, August is coming to an end it feels at last like the last half of the year. I don’t think it feels half way until August, really. There’s the June midyear feeling, but then there is the August midyear feeling that feels more real. Yes I know, it’s strange but that’s just how it goes. Next thing you know it’ll be Christmas! There are marshmallow Santas in the shops already so it is not my fault for bringing it up in August.

I hope you have all been having a great day, week, August and you have been able to read something spectacular. I know I have! 😀

News

NewsI feel like I haven’t done a news post in a while. Quite overdue.

So I have been super busy, but a good busy. I have been flooded with review requests from authors and publishers and it’s been amazing. So amazing in fact that I am booked solid until September. So while I’ll still accept review requests, I will not be able to get a review up until September unfortunately. If that works for you, go for it, otherwise I apologise. I could say I’ll manage if I leave it open for August but thinking like that is how I just accepted another three requests and in drawing up my new reading order and plan up I’ve realised that I have properly reached my limit to actually read and properly review that many books in the next month. But we are not complaining, I have years of uni experience in reading two or three books a week and so we will be on top of it! So as much as this is a slight apology message, it’s a small burst of excitement about the fact I even have to plan so much to do this! I never thought I would even be in this position so I am just letting the excitement trump the chaos.

Away from the dozen books I have lined up I am also currently compiling a one stop page with all my reviews for easy access. It is currently still a work in progress but you can click on the link in the menu and see Toby in another smashing outfit until it’s finished. If I didn’t have 101 things to do I’d leave him up there and put off finishing the page just to enjoy his adorableness but I am looking to get that page up and running in the next week hopefully and tick off another thing on my to do list  so bear with me on that. I made it live but incomplete to get me to finish it, it had already been put off being created for about two months so that’s why it is there but not there.

Other than that not a lot has happened or is happening for awhile. The end of August is Book Expo Australia which will be a great weekend, very excited about that. I have a few author tours and things coming up but I’ll let you know about them as they come up on Facebook and Twitter, when they are closer. Speaking of, welcome to all the new likers and followers to not just the blog but Facebook and Twitter as well! Glad to have you along for the ride, I hope you enjoy your stay.

Anyway, I think that may be it, so it’s a short news that doesn’t reveal much but it’s one that’s made me feel like I am slowly organising myself and am not being crushed under everything. And as July comes to an end it’s made me realise it has flown by. June went rather slowly, but July, it wasn’t messing about. Suddenly it is almost August and that brings not just a birthday for yours truly but also the last month of winter. Where does the time go?