Book Review

The Dry is the debut novel by Australian writer Jane Harper. 

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“After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead. 

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.” 

I was instantly drawn in by Jane Harper’s writing and the suspense she weaved throughout the novel. I identified with the main character the most as I too used to live in a very small town and was classed as the outsider and was ostracised (not like how Barry was and not for the same reasons). I felt The Dry captured the essence of a small country Australian town where everyone knows everyone and knows all their secrets (most of them anyway). It also captures how judgemental people in small towns can be and how hard it is when those neighbours turn their backs on you. It also captures that there is more than meets the eye and that people can do things that you don’t expect them to do. 

I highly recommend reading The Dry if you haven’t already done so. 


Why You Should Have An Agent And How To Get One

K.M. Allan

If you’ve been following my blog for the last few weeks, you’ll know I attended the KidLitVic writers conference.

There, I gleaned many a tip on the publishing industry, including the following about snagging an agent.

Alex Adsett from Alex Adsett Publishing Services and Jacinta Di Mase from Jacinta Di Mase Management provided their expertize for this panel and let all the agent-less writers know exactly what an agent does and how to get one.

Why You Should Have An Agent

If you can get an agent (and realistically that’s a big IF), they will provide writers with the following benefits:

  • A chance to frog-leap the slush pile.
  • Deliver to publishers a book they know has been vetted (which works in your favor).
  • Provide another set of eyes to ensure your MS has what it needs to be a structurally sound and polished.
  • Expert advice about who is the right publisher…

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The One Thing That Matters When Looking For A Publisher

K.M. Allan

If you ask most writers which publisher they’d like a contract with, they’ll probably tell you one of the big five.

They’ll do the best job, right?

Yes… and no.

A few weeks ago, I attended the KidLitVic conference where a panel with Jane Pearson (Text Publishing), Suzanne O’Sullivan (Hachette Australia and Lothian Children’s Books), and Miriam Rosenbloom (Scribble) talked about publishers—from the big to the small.

This included the revelation that big publishers aren’t always the best option for you and your manuscript.

No, this wasn’t some ploy to get writers to try submitting elsewhere. It was sound advice that the ideal place for your book is with the publishing house that wants to make it the best it can be.

Other surprising insider tips were that a big publisher doesn’t necessarily have a big budget for a book and that awards don’t always…

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Book Review

See What I Have Done is the debut novel of Australian author Sarah Schmidt. It is a fictional retelling of the murders of Lizzie Borden’s parents in 1892. 

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He was still bleeding. I yelled, ‘Someone’s killed Father.’ I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I looked at Father, the way hands clutched to thighs, the way the little gold ring on his pinky finger sat like a sun. I gave him that ring for his birthday when I no longer wanted it. ‘Daddy,’ I had said. ‘I’m giving this to you because I love you.’ He had smiled and kissed my forehead.

Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she? On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother.

Through the eyes of Lizzie’s sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River.”

I hadn’t heard anything about Lizzie Borden or her parents’ murder until I came across Sarah Schmidt’s novel. The writing style is a little different to most commercial crime fiction but works absolute wonders for this story. It captures the inner voice of the main characters and entices you to want to read more, find out more about the people you’re reading and what happened that fateful day. Each voice of the main characters is very distinct, which is great considering this is Sarah Schmidt’s first novel and not many first time published authors can pull that off. 

I really can’t wait until Sarah Schmidt’s next novel is ready to be published and available for the public to read. 

You can follow Sarah Schmidt on Twitter at @ikillnovel or follow her blog at Sarah Schmidt Writes.

Book Review

This is the first post in the book review series I’ve decided to so. The first book I’m reviewing will be The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham.

The Dressmaker is the debut novel by Australian Rosalie Ham and has been turned into a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, and Hugo Weaving, just to name a few stars of the cast. 

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“A darkly satirical novel of love, revenge, and 1950s haute couture—now a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, and Hugo Weaving

After twenty years spent mastering the art of dressmaking at couture houses in Paris, Tilly Dunnage returns to the small Australian town she was banished from as a child. She plans only to check on her ailing mother and leave. But Tilly decides to stay, and though she is still an outcast, her lush, exquisite dresses prove irresistible to the prim women of Dungatar. Through her fashion business, her friendship with Sergeant Farrat—the town’s only policeman, who harbors an unusual passion for fabrics—and a budding romance with Teddy, the local football star whose family is almost as reviled as hers, she finds a measure of grudging acceptance. But as her dresses begin to arouse competition and envy in town, causing old resentments to surface, it becomes clear that Tilly’s mind is set on a darker design: exacting revenge on those who wronged her, in the most spectacular fashion.”

I loved Ham’s dark humour when detailing the lives of all the characters and the hijinks they get up to and the gossip they like to spread. It is a typical small Australian town where people gossip without any regard to the feelings of other people and whether or not what they are saying is true. I love how Tilly is still haunted by her past, even though she tried to run away from it. Without giving it all away, I loved the revenge that has been taken out against some of the townsfolk in the book. I sent at least half the time reading this giggling away. I found this a very enjoyable read. 

Welcome to My Book Review Series​

I decided that I’ll be doing a series of book/author reviews posts to mix things up a bit (just in case some of you were getting bored reading about my thoughts on my work in progress). 

Some posts will be reviews on books that I’ve just finished reading while others will be about authors that I like/love/admire/who have had an influence on me as a writer and as a person. 

As I wrote in my bio, I read crime, chick-lit, Australian fiction, fantasy, young adult, contemporary, sci-fi, historical, horror, and thrillers. There will be a few reviews on those as I go along. I hope you enjoy reading the reviews and get some ideas for your want-to-read pile. 

How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

K.M. Allan

Ah, show, don’t tell. One of the most spouted pieces of writing advice, and one of the most confusing.

When I first heard of it, I had no idea what it meant. Surely writing that my character “rose from her chair and walked across the room” was showing? Yes? No? Maybe? No. It’s a no. A hard no. It’s “telling” the reader what the character is doing (and in a very uninspired way).

Showing is using your words to create a picture in the reader’s mind. It’s using words to put them in the moment, to allow them to feel as if they are the characters. That it’s them “pulling their tired bones from the stiff seat and shuffling across the dusty floorboards”. It’s all about forging a connection between the reader and the characters. And it isn’t as confusing as you think.

How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

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