Grinding the coffee creative for a Rocky kaffeeklatsch

Two of my favourite past-times – other than writing – are drinking coffee and catching up with readers and writers. Combine the two and I’m in seventh heaven.

01_L_SLCLR_72dpi rowena

So I didn’t miss a trick when I realised that an Author Kaffeeklatsch would be the perfect wind-down event following my Young at Heart workshop at the North Rockhampton Library on Saturday, August 1, 2015. (For more details about my Young at Heart: writing for young adults workshop, visit the Queensland Writers Centre’s information site here)

What is a Kaffeeklatsch?

The term kaffeeklatsch, according to, is of German origin (1877), from kaffee (meaning coffee) and klatsch (meaning gossip).  Author Kaffeeklatsches have long been a trademark feature of national and international speculative fiction conventions. One of my fave kaffeeklatsches in earlier years was with the inspirational Rowena Cory Daniells, who taught me to never stop writing, dreaming or giving up hope. I still see her as an amazing woman, author and role model, and coffee with her was where my love of kaffeeklatsches began. Another special memory was coffee with New York Times bestselling author Kylie Griffin and a group of her steadfast fans at an RWA conference. I’ve since plonked my name down for as many kaffeeklatsch events as the coffee grinders would allow me. In recent years, I’ve been the guest author at a number of kaffeeklatsches (which just means your coffee goes cold as you answer the many questions that readers might have for you).

So… Rocky readers now have the chance to ask me (face-to-face) their big, bad and embarrassing questions at a free Author Kaffeeklatsch at Café North at the Frenchville Sports Club at 4pm this Saturday, August 1.

“Visiting Rocky is like coming home because some of my fave published friends live here. This kaffeeklatsch is a chance for Rocky residents to meet and chat with published authors (not just me, but also Sue-Ellen Pashley, Greg Chapman, Shelley Russell Nolan & Dean J Anderson) to find out what it’s like to be published and why we write the things we do.

As you’ve already probably guessed, our real lives are often a lot less exciting than the tales we weave, but it’s fascinating when our idiosyncrasies are revealed. I write to halt the unrelenting chatter of characters inside my head so maybe I belong in a straitjacket, not a bookstore.

Benaraby’s Sue-Ellen Pashley, whose debut novel Aquila, was published by Random House earlier this year, will also be attending.

“As a working mum, I know how hard it is to set aside time for my writing,” Sue-Ellen said to me this afternoon. “For me, it’s about getting up at 5am in the morning – before the kids and animals have stirred – so I can savour a moment of ‘writing peace’. “It doesn’t always happen, but it’s very satisfying when it does.”

This Saturday’s Kaffeeklatsch is about bringing a little bit of the writing world, especially the creative magic of spec fic, to Rocky ahead of CONTACT, the national speculative fiction convention in Brisbane in April next year.


What: Author Kaffeeklatsch

Where: Café North, Frenchville Sports Club, 105 Clifton Street, Rockhampton.

When: Saturday, August 1.

Time: 4pm.

To RSVP: Just turn up at 4pm (or later), order and pay for your own coffee and relax with some crazy authors (if we even give you the chance to relax…)

In Conversation with Nina D’Aleo

Fairymead House soared to life with wine, laughter and not just fantasy tales when Aurealis short-listed Nina D’Aleo joined Bundaberg readers In Conversation last night.

Cheryse & NinaOver a glass of red and Alowishus canapés, D’Aleo enchanted readers (and a swag of our fave Bundaberg Writers Club convicts, myself included) with her down-to-earth honesty, delicious authenticity and colourful anecdotes of her writing career that started aged seven with a flying horse story, scribed with a feather dipped in water… so even the text was magical and invisible 🙂

Some of the gems from last night’s talk:

Coffee and night-time are credited as the tools behind her successfully writing and publishing her science-fiction-esque novels, despite the busy world of her everyday, which includes two sons aged four and six and a husband (age not supplied) and a psychology career which has demanded further study this year.

Nina received her first rejection at age 13 and didn’t get published until her early 30s. She said she could wallpaper her bedroom with the number of rejection slips and letters that she has received during that time (and it was pretty cheap wallpaper at that).

Her big break, she says, came from a previous Bundaberg WriteFest where she was interviewed and successfully acquired by The Cameron Creswell Agency (agent Sophie Hamley). She said, “I owe (WriteFest Director) Sandy Curtis big time, thank you Sandy.”

Although she’s only been published in recent years, Nina said she always thought of herself as a writer. I think that statement resonated with all the writers present – that it’s not about whether you’re published or not, but that writing is what you are – and WHAT YOU DO.

A background in psychology has injected additional layers of depth into her characters. “Having people tell you their deepest stories helps bring out, I think, a greater depth in your own stories. Readers say my characters have a lot of depth.”

Patricia C Wrede and her world-building resources came highly recommended.

Writing and publishing is a business process as well as a creative process, even though most writers just want to remain in the creative confines of their art

Working on a different book can energise you when you return to a previous WIP, especially a long-term series like the Demon War Chronicles.

Nina struggled with the writing of subsequent novels after publishing her first book because she is very demanding of her writing quality and will often rewrite and rewrite scenes until she is happy with them – and because real life still gets in the way (THIS resonated with all the published authors in attendance).

Nina D’Aleo In Conversation was brought to Bundaberg as part of the Queensland Writers Centre’s 25th anniversary celebrations (1990-2015).

For the first time last night, Bundaberg writers met the delightful Katie Woods, who took over the reins of the Queensland Writers Centre as its new chief executive officer two months.

Katie previously worked at the State Library of Queensland where she was most recently Manager of Reading, Writing and Ideas, and worked closely with the QWC on many partnered projects including Read Around Gladstone and the delivery of the Queensland Writers Fellowships.

Wide Bay writers are always a little nervous when there’s a changing of the guard at QWC. Although the centre is based in Brisbane, it has been highly supportive of its regional members in the past decade, recognising the tyranny of distance and the effect that has on rural careers, and subsequently implementing many initiatives for regional writers and supporting them in fresh and diverse ways. Without the Queensland Writers Centre and their courses, I wouldn’t be where I am today – and I am grateful for their continuing support.

Fortunately, Katie’s love of Queensland writing, and her own empathy for regional Queensland, means the QWC – and Bundaberg writing – are in safe hands for many years to come.

Thanks, Nina, for dropping in at Bundaberg and sharing your deepest thoughts and dreams with us and thanks, Katie (and the QWC), for bringing her to our little sugar town. Finally: Happy Birthday QWC!

For more information about Nina and her books, go troll her website or stalk her on Twitter. I’m very inspired now to check out her books and the other hiddens gems lurking in Momentum’s spec fic collection.

Sisters of the Shadows launches into the light

SOTS cover on whiteBlast the trumpet and sound the cymbals: The fabulous Sisters of the Shadows anthology launched overnight and is now available on both Amazon and Smashwords.

This particular eBook, a collaboration of novellas by WriteFest buddies Sue-Ellen Pashley, Shelley Russell Nolan, Christina Craig and myself, includes the first-time publication of my beloved “The Pool of Rathorne”, a magical story very dear to my heart.

In this post-apocalyptic/steampunk tale, Tasha Severin is a woman in hiding on an impossible quest. (You know how much I love impossible quests, right?)

The Pool of Rathorne’s healing waters promise a cure in a world where the crippled are shunned and the Cursed are imprisoned. Concealing her hideous affliction beneath a witch’s robes, and casting an illusion spell, Tasha boards a steam train bound for Rathorne where her life collides with the daring and enigmatic Raoul Duberger. But beneath his expensive cloak and aristocratic presence, Raoul is also hiding his true identity. His lies are a foil for deadly truths, some of which may change her destiny forever. In a kingdom where secrets are worth killing for, does Tasha have the courage to trust a stranger and risk her life for the sake of a prophecy and an oppressed land?

For the past year, I’ve rather felt like Tasha, living in the shadows, battling the everyday challenges of work, family, sickness and our constantly-changing, ever-chaotic lives.

But maybe the launch of this anthology will remind me to return to the light, to spend more time each day in the sunshine, knowing that when we embrace our magic, it changes other people’s lives – not just our own.

Now tell me… What are you hiding from?