Magical Author Photo Shoot

Since my ‘official’ author photo has been chosen and released, I can now share about the incredible photo shoot I had back in September with Lauren Barnett from Lauren Ami Photographs.

I’m honoured to call Lauren a close friend and it was kinda funny since, while I know she’s a professional photographer, I always used to just think of her as ‘my friend with a camera’. But, boy, within just a few minutes of our day starting, I definitely began looking at her in a new light!

We started the morning off at a gorgeous second-hand bookstore nestled down an alleyway in quaint little Buderim. Autumn Leaves Books is owned by a lovely woman named Linda who was so helpful and willing to accommodate the eccentricities of a weirdo author (me) and my trusty photographer pal. We ended up with some really cool pics in the bookstore—including my author photo which I love—and we had a great time amongst the huge stacks of books. Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

After the bookshop, we headed off to Bli Bli to indulge in the ‘fantasy’ element of the photo shoot. We went to an actual castle, if you can believe that! Well, technically Sunshine Castle is a tourist attraction, so it’s not, like, a historical castle, but you get the point. It was wicked-awesome for the photos, though! And the staff were soooo lovely and helpful as well. I felt like a bit of a goof since I was all decked out in my princess gown and tiara etc. for the full fantasy effect, but at the same time, it wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be. And the pics turned out stunningly, so it was definitely worth it! Here are some examples:  Untitled-16 Untitled-17 (2) Untitled-50 (2) Untitled-9Untitled-12

There was also this cool foyer-slash-dungeon room that had fabulous chandeliers and some kind of throne chair thing, and we had a lot of fun playing around with photos there: Untitled-42b) Untitled-36

I also took a sword with me for effect, which was, again, lots of fun: Untitled-24

And we even climbed to the top of some of the towers (with me taking my life in my hands thanks to the ridiculous heels I was wearing) and got some cool Rapunzel-esque photos as well: Untitled-65

We were at the castle for a number of hours, and since I successfully managed not to decapitate myself (or anyone else) with the super sharp sword—while wearing  the aforementioned ridiculous heels—we then took off to the Buderim Forest Park for the final location of the day. Untitled-92

We were almost out of light by this stage, but we managed a quick wardrobe change and hurried up the path until we reached one of the many waterfalls (so pretty) for some more pics… Untitled-96ed

There was a massive field at the entrance to the forest and we had a lot of fun playing around with some glitter during the time we had left (after the waterfalls) with the remaining sunlight. Gosh, we both ended up covered in glitter, but again, it was so worth it. (Even if I WAS still washing off glitter for the next few days.) Untitled-104

Once the light was all gone, we went back to Lauren’s apartment for some final photos that we actually took in her bathroom because we needed an enclosed, dark place for the fairy lights to work best. And besides, after some nifty special effects, you can’t even tell that we’re in a bathroom at all! Untitled-111ed

All in all, it was such an amazing day! Everything about it, from beginning to end, was incredible!! The only even slight downside was that I sprayed some “low irritant” insect repellent on my arms/neck/shoulders once we reached the rainforest because the mozzies were starting to come out, and I woke up the next morning covered in the worst rash ever all over the skin I’d sprayed. It lasted for two extremely painful and itchy weeks (so much for “low irritant”!). But again, it was worth it, considering the photographic results!

I really can’t emphasise enough how magical the day was. Lauren was so professional, but we also had such a fun time! If you live near the Sunny Coast, I seriously recommend you contact her for your very own awesome photo shoot. You can check out some of her other photos on her Instagram and Facebook accounts. She’s beyond awesome, and her photos, quite simply, rock.

Okay, that’s all for now. Author photo shoot done! :-)

It’s Official: I’m Going To Be Published!!

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Oh, wow. Yesterday was beyond a doubt one of the best days of my entire life! I honestly could not have imagined a more perfect day – in every way, from beginning to end, and everything in between! I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll do my best to not leave anything out. So, here goes!

The day started with a morning flight from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney… and even just arriving at the airport was fantastic. Airports have such a ‘feel’ about them, you know? It’s almost like there’s a sense of anticipation in the air; the knowledge that you’re about to embark on a fabulous adventure. But airports also mean waiting time, so I found my way to my happy place while I waited for my boarding call:

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Then it was up, up, and away, before arriving in Sydney to miserable, rainy weather (but really, even a little rain couldn’t dampen my mood!). The moment I turned my phone back on I had a text message from the driver service that had been hired to collect me, and in all my dorkishness I managed to sneak a photo without looking like too much of a weirdo (and, hey, at least I managed to hold back from asking him if I could keep the sign with my name on it! Total restraint on my part!).

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My driver, Geoff, was fabulous and very chatty in the best possible way. He also used his hands a lot to talk, which would have been concerning what with them not being on the steering wheel, but he seemed to know how to drive perfectly well without hands, so I who was I to argue with his methods? (Exhibit A:)

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Anyway, let me skip ahead to the amazing parts!

So, Geoff dropped me off in Neutral Bay (I still have no idea where I was, but I did get a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge at one stage, so I know I was definitely in Sydney somewhere)…

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… And once I was alone outside the office building, the nerves hit me like a freight train carrying a load of drunk elephants. I’m pretty sure I was actually shaking! The good news was, I was so determined not to forget a moment of the trip that I was taking photos left, right, and centre, so I managed to take a photo of the sign that gave the suite numbers for which offices were where, so when I reached the second floor and my brain totally froze, I just pulled out my phone and looked at the photo to see the suite number. Score one for my OCD-photo-taking. (That said, it turned out that the office was really well signed so I didn’t need the photo-suite-number-help in the end anyway).

Anyway, I buzzed on the door and almost immediately it was opened and I was in the room being bombarded by smiles and handshakes and welcomes-galore. I’m not kidding when I say that within seconds I was completely enamoured. Everyone was just so out-of-this-world nice! No, ‘nice’ doesn’t even do them justice. Because they were definitely nicer than nice! I could continue on about their awesomeness forever (seriously!), but I won’t because, well, that’s slightly weird. So, moving on…

I’m skipping heaps here because obviously we chatted for hours about them, about the company, about me, about my books, about the future, about all kinds of random other things like psychopaths and dreaming in black-and-white (don’t ask!)… We went off on tangents all over the place but always circled back around to the whole point of the meeting. (And, omigosh, did I mention how beyond-nice they all were?! I’d been previously told that working alongside them would be “like a warm hug”, and I can officially say I was definitely feeling that! Toasty warm hugs all-round!).

Umm… I just totally got off track…

So, yeah, there was food and drinks and talking and laughter mixed in with seriousness and all the other really important things… And we talked about cover design and editing and marketing and publicity and… wow… just all the amazingly exciting things. I’m sure I probably looked like an idiot because I was smiling so much, but I couldn’t help it! It was all just so perfect! Everything they said was exactly what I needed to hear! And at the end when they offered for me to go and think about it, I already knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was more than happy (ecstatic, even) with everything in every way, shape and form.

… So, I signed the contract!!

And now I’m officially part of the Pantera Press family! And I could not be happier! They broke out the champagne and we rushed through the signing and the toasting and the photos because I needed to hurry to get back to the airport, so we were swept up in this crazy whirlwind of ‘sign here’, ‘drink this’, ‘photo now’… and it was insane… but because it was so insane, it was also perfect! I was given a goody bag (I LOVE goody bags!) and hugs (I LOVE hugs even more than goody bags!) and a non-promise-promise was fulfilled in regards to a certain person (who will probably murder me if I mention names) singing a Disney song which totally was the icing on the top of an already beyond-amazing day.

I’m not kidding – I could not have dreamed of a more perfect day. And I have a pretty creative imagination! I’m still on Cloud Nine – and I’m sure I will be for a looooong time yet!!

So, I want to say a huge, huge, HUGE thank you to everyone at Pantera Press for making my dreams come true – and also for simply being so indescribably lovable. I cannot wait for the next step in our journey together!

I also want to say thank you so much to all you loyal bloggers who have been bombarding me with encouragement, support and congratulations. I’m so excited that you’re sharing this adventure with me – and I look forward to updating you on the next instalment! In the meantime, feel free to go and check out my AMAZING NEW PUBLISHERS! You can find their website here: http://www.panterapress.com.au/ and their Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/PanteraPress

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Starting A New Manuscript

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There are two settings that my life seems tuned to: reading-mode and writing-mode. For me, there’s no in-between. I’m either reading, or I’m writing. I can’t do both – just like I can’t read two different books at once; I have to finish one before I start another.

I’ve been holding tight to my reading-mode for a while now, especially since I know that as soon as I sign this book publishing contract I’ll have to dive straight into the writing-mode again with all the editing/revising etc. But there’s a change in the air today and it’s like I can’t sit still – I need to be writing.

… I’m just not sure what to write.

I have so many potential story ideas – which is kinda annoying since it makes more sense to start working on the third book in the series for which I’m getting the contract… But I think I want to try something new. Usually I’m a stickler for YA (specifically fantasy/sci-fi), but I’m leaning towards dabbing into the New Adult realm for a change.

Hmm. What are your thoughts, awesome blog-readers? Do you have any ideas for me?

I guess all I can do is start at Chapter One and see where the characters take me. How exciting! I love new beginnings!

Road To Publishing: The Next Step

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Good news, everyone! It looks like I’m almost ready for the next stage in my publishing journey! I’ve received the legal advice for my contract and I’ve been communicating back and forth (and back and forth… and back and forth… and back and–you get the point…) with the publisher.  And honestly, I’m surprised they still want to sign me on, considering how much back-and-forthing I’ve been doing (and yes, for the sake of this blog, ‘forthing’ is now a real word). But they’ve been ridiculously amazing communication–and toleration–wise. So, yay for that!

Now we’ve just got to figure out which dates suit best for all of us, but it looks like I’ll be flying to Sydney within a fortnight for the meet-and-greet and (hopefully) signing the contract. Woohoo!

Dreams DO Come True!

I have been on the craziest happy-high for the last three days – to the point that I’ve pretty much been walking (and skipping, and jumping, and dancing) around in a daze. And that’s because I was contacted by a publishing house I submitted my manuscript to months ago, and… get this…

THEY LOVE MY BOOK!!!!!!!!

And…..

THEY’RE SENDING ME A PUBLISHING CONTRACT NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!

I still can’t believe it! And I’m not just saying that to be humble or anything – I literally cannot believe it! It’s like, for so long this has been my ultimate dream, but I’ve always kind of had the thought that, “One day it will hopefully happen, and when it does, it’ll be amazing.”

Well, ‘amazing’ doesn’t even come close to how I’m feeling. Part of me is soooo terrified that it’ll fall through or something before it even begins. But, when I’m able to ignore the fear, all I feel is excitement – to the extreme.

I don’t want to drop any names just yet because I haven’t seen my contract (!!) and I want to be careful about what I say, but I really want to share a video clip that the awesome submissions editor sent me when I told him that I couldn’t stop doing my own happy dance after hearing the news. His reply? To send me this:

http://youtu.be/zS1cLOIxsQ8

I would definitely say this clip almost shows just how happy I’m feeling, but there are absolutely no words to completely describe the feeling.

All I can say is, stay tuned for more news! Because, hopefully, there will be much, much more to come!