Monthly Archives: April 2013

Iced coffee, ice cream and a long lazy day on the beach.



Hi all,

I’ve been travelling again. This time all the way to Bribie Island to meet up with Talitha Kalago. In keeping with Talitha’s diverse writing talents I have travelled by Zombie; painfully slow and a bit difficult to steer. I’ll find some other form of transport for the return journey. Anyway back to Talitha. I thought it would be fun to spend some time with her in a very quiet and little known spot on the Island. I’m sure it’s known by all the local fishermen but not many tourists wander off in this direction. Talitha is a very hard working writer so this spot of naughtiness is my treat to her; hence the title of the blog.

I probably shouldn’t have ditched the Zombie – it could have carried the esky, the inflatable beds and parasols for me! I want to set up camp before Talitha arrives. I’ve asked her to meet me at Buckleys Hole conservation park, just off  Tully Street. A little path leads through the conservation area to the beach. Because it is on the south-west corner of Bribie Island this beach is protected from the wind and is a little slice of heaven.

I was bound to forget something. We have to blow up the inflatables ourselves – the pump is at home!  Exhausted by the effort we fall gratefully onto the beds, adjust the parasols and launch into the iced coffee and ice-cream.

It’s been about eighteen months since I last saw Talitha in person and she’s been a busy little bee. She says she’s working on way too many things then goes on to explain in more detail, “Under my pen name, Zaide Bishop, I am writing a series called Bones of Eden for Harlequin Publishing. I’ve almost finished book five in the series, so I have two more to go. I am also launching a YA series called Lifesphere INC this year under Talitha Kalago. When I have any spare time, I am editing first drafts of a space opera (Bonescum) and supernatural thriller (The Hungry People), both under Talitha Kalago.” Busy or what? I now feel decidedly inadequate.

Talitha goes on to tell me about her most recent success. “Last year I had my first novel published—a standalone historical romance under the pen name Zaide Bishop with Harlequin. I also won a competition by Crime Writer’s Australia. The prize was tickets to genrecon in Sydney and $500 for airfare and accommodation. It was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend genrecon to everyone writing genre fiction. It will be in Brisbane this year, and launches on the 11th of October.”

Excuse us for a moment the ice cream is melting.

Whilst we spoon semi-liquid ice cream Talitha manages to tell me about her best moment as a writer so far. “Signing an eight book contract with Harlequin Publishing and signing a contract with a big New York literary agency. I also love when I introduce myself to people and they’ve heard of me—that’s one of the nicest feelings in the world. Unfortunately one of my worst moments as a writer was losing that contract with the big New York literary agency. Having come so far then having to go back to where I started was devastating; like some sadistic game of snakes and ladders. Not that anyone was to blame, mind you. It’s just how writing careers are.”

 Talitha’s career is humming along rather well despite the potholes so I asked her what words of wisdom she would give to an aspiring writer.

Write every day, read every day, get yourself a quality office chair—something with all the ergonomic bells and whistles. Good brain function requires plenty of quality sleep and good food. Carbs, omega three and the vitamins and nutrients from a variety of vegetables will take you to a new level of creativity and productivity.”

Stuffed full of all the things guaranteed to stymie a writing career we walk toward the sea. As we stand at the waters’ edge in the late afternoon sun I ask the big question – why do you write?  Talitha smiles and says, “I write for the same reason I eat and sleep, if I don’t after a while, it gets too uncomfortable to continue without it.”

To discover yet more of  Talitha’s talents visit her website


Coffee with the Scarlet Pimpernel.


jacqueline george tag small

Hi everybody,

I’ve had a very busy Easter, so much chocolate to eat and so much lying around to do. It  may sound like I’ve been lazy but believe me my brain has been working very hard. I need my downtime so I can get excited about going back to work on my novel trilogy.

I haven’t been totally lazy,  in fact I’ve been very busy tracking down the elusive Jacqueline George – she’s such a shy lady she wouldn’t even send  a real photograph. She doesn’t really look like this: Jacqueline has used a bit of artistic licence with her breasts!

I’ve entitled this post Coffee with the Scarlet Pimpernel because Jacqueline is a very difficult lady to find. I eventually located her in a little hide-away in Cooktown, far north Queensland. She agreed to meet with me at Nature’s Powerhouse, which is a must do destination if you are ever this far north. Integral to the building is Vera’s café – named after an amazing lady called Vera Scarth-Johnson. Inside Nature’s Powerhouse you can view her exquisite botanical drawings.

If you can’t make the trip then check out

Anyway I digress – Jacqueline and I find a table overlooking Cooktown’s historical botanic gardens.  As we wait for our coffee we bask in the heady aroma of melaleuca, freshly mown grass and that glorious smell of warm damp earth after the rain. The coffee here is grown on the Atherton Tablelands and we are about to indulge in huge slices of chocolate mud cake. The combination of chocolate and coffee is a must have to get my brain in gear for the interview.

With our coffees at the ready I ask Jacqueline what she’s working on at present.

“Part of me is ashamed to say that ‘proper’ writing is going very slowly. Two reasons – firstly I am spending time writing for newspapers who are old fashioned enough to PAY ME MONEY! It is amazing how little it takes to get my attention. The second reason is that I have a list of books out there already, and they are not selling very prolifically, so why add another major title? They are all out as e-books, but I suspect I have not hit the spot with the main e-book-buying demographic – American women. Or perhaps they have just not noticed me in the pile of crap-with-very-infrequent-pearls that comes on line every day. My strategy for getting my name out there  is to write good content for other people’s blogs – more newspaper-type articles.”

Jacqueline pauses for a moment then goes on to say, “This does have a spin-off; I can collect the articles together over a year and release them as very readable books. Well, more like magazines than books really, and cheap, cheap, cheap. A step up from that are collections of short stories. Four good stories, perhaps totalling twenty-five thousand words, sells for $2.50 and seventy-five percent of that comes back to me as royalty. In contrast, my hundred thousand word novels – much more difficult to write, struggle to sell at $4.00. Now I am a member of the Yellow Silk Dreams authors’ cooperative, I have a guaranteed platform for anything I write.”

I  just have to interrupt the interview for a second. I was very privileged to be offered a copy of  Jacqueline’s e-book  Falling into Queensland last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Jacqueline’s characters are authentic and her ability to create mood and tension meant I literally couldn’t stop reading. I do my Kindle reading on my computer and, pardon the cliché, my eyes were glued to the screen.

Just had to mention that – now back to the interview. Jacqueline goes on to tell me about some recent successes. It’s always nice to release books and see them selling around the world. I enjoy the process of releasing e-books; everything from creating the covers to finally posting a ‘Buy Now’ button on my website. I put out a rush of three short books before Christmas; Gypsy, Jacqueline and a Sexy Year, and A Walk on the Wild Side.”

Check out the link

“They are plodding along quite well and the nice thing about e-books is they never go out of print. The new books will be selling literally for years.”

Our conversation is interrupted by a female kangaroo and her joey hopping through the dappled sunlight to a more enticing patch of grass.

Wiping up the last of the cake crumbs Jacqueline says, “I have a really big decision point coming up soon. I have five titles, full length novels, with Siren-BookStrand in the States and they will all come out of contract on 23rd July this year. So what am I going to do with them? Five good books that I will not be bothering the official trade with. I just have to work out the best way to get them out there. Should be fun.” I can’t imagine Jacqueline will be stuck for very long.

When I ask Jacqueline what her best moments as a writer have been she draws a deep breath, “Let me be a case-hardened old cynic.” She laughs, ” All of the moments that felt good at the time, were entirely due to my not understanding how little I had achieved by the arcane rules of the book trade. Having an e-publisher’s literary editor say  The Prince and the Nun was the best piece of sexy romance she had read in decades; holding a glossy copy of my own book – produced by me, with my own cover image and publisher’s blurb, packing up ten copies of a book to go to a Queensland library supplier,and finally causing a well-known literary figure to burn her potatoes because she was so absorbed in one of my tales. All dust and ashes, I’m afraid. Recognition remains elusive, the Australian literary scene gets by without noticing me and I continue to write good stuff. I’ve stopped doing best moments!”

Gee this is a tough interview! So I ask, “If you’ve stopped doing best moments what have been your worst moments?”

“Seriously, there have been no ‘worst moments’. It took me some years to get familiar with the book trade and my place in it, and since then I have had good blips but my generally minimal level of expectation means I have had no disappointments. Not much to raise a glass to, but why not? It is something to celebrate.”

It’s great to meet someone, a writer no less, whose chest belies their true sense of modesty! Moving on I wonder what advice Jacqueline would give to an aspiring writer and she had this to say.

“If you really, really want to write books and have people read them. I suggest you look at taking up kyudo, or Japanese archery. This is a very demanding lifestyle, and success comes once you have devoted yourself to the philosophy of the bow through years of study.  The result of giving oneself completely to the shooting is the spiritual goal, achieved by perfection of both the spirit and shooting technique leading to munen musō, “no thoughts, no illusions”. I understand this is an excellent cure for aspiring writers. A more practical alternative, if you have the build, is sumo wrestling. Or you could go all the way and take up extreme yoga, which will take the stiffness out of any resolve.

Seriously, the best thing for a writer to do is write and write and write. Be merciless about quality, and listen to critics you respect. Eventually, you will know your writing is good enough to be interesting, and you will be ready to inflict your thoughts on the general public. Don’t worry about hurting them – they will not be reading very carefully, if at all.”

She’s such a cynic.

Finally the  biggy (I’ve got the whip out) – “Why do you write?”

“Ooh – you are an aggressive questioner! If I am honest, it is for the little satisfactions. Some-one in the coffee shop saying they had enjoyed a piece I wrote in the paper. A PayPal notification of royalties. Compliments from other writers I trust to be truthful. Not big things, but enough to keep me going.”

We decide to take a walk through the gardens and onto the dazzling white sand of  Finch Bay before I head home. I’ve only been away a day but it feels like weeks.  Thank you Jacqueline for the time spent with you in this beautiful tropical paradise.