The 2017 Richell Prize is open.

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The 2017 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, sponsored by Hachette in partnership with The Guardian Australia and The Emerging Writer’s Festival is open for submissions. It is a prize that is awarded annually, and it is now in its third year, honouring Matt Richell, Hachette Australia’s former CEO, who died suddenly in 2014.

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THE KEY DATES FOR THIS YEAR’S PRIZE:

ENTRIES OPEN: 27th March, 2017

ENTRIES CLOSE: 3rd July, 2017

WINNER ANNOUNCED: 1st November, 2017

From the Press Release:

Hachette Australia, along with the Richell family, is honoured to launch the third year of The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, in partnership with The Guardian Australia and The Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF). 

‘Hachette Australia’s core purpose is to contribute to the development and health of Australian culture through the power of storytelling, The Richell Prize is integral to that aim, and we are so proud to once again offer this prize to emerging writers’ – Fiona Hazard, Publishing Director – Hachette Australia.

‘The Richell Prize has opened, and continues to open, so many wonderful doors, from the support, interest and expert advice given by Hachette Australia and many others to renewed self-confidence in the writing process.  It is a unique, exciting and generous prize, a real game-changer that keeps on giving’ – Sally Abbott, author of the forthcoming CLOSING DOWN (to be published by Hachette Australia in May 2017) and winner of the inaugural Richell Prize for Emerging Writers (2015).

The Prize is once again open to unpublished writers of adult fiction and adult narrative non-fiction. Writers do not need to have a full manuscript at the time of submission, though they must intend to complete one. The Prize will be judged on the first three chapters of the submitted work, along with a synopsis outlining the direction of the proposed work and detail about how the author’s writing career would benefit from winning the Prize.

‘The Richell Prize provides a unique opportunity for an emerging writer in that it not only comes with a cash prize – which directly translates into time to write and further develop craft – but also a 12-month mentorship with one of Hachette Australia’s expert publishers. The prize can provide a foot in the door to the publishing industry not only for the winner, but also other entrants and shortlisted writers.’ – Izzy Roberts – Orr, Creative Director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival

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The winner of the Richell Prize receives $10,000 in prize money from Hachette Australia, a year’s mentorship with a publisher at Hachette, and the winning writer will work with Hachette to develop their manuscript – with Hachette receiving first option to consider the finished work and the shortlisted entries for publcation.

There have been two winners so far:

2015 – Sally Abbott – Closing Down, published in May 2017, and a shortlisted author from the same year – Brodie Lancaster – No Way! Okay, Fine to be published in July this year.

All details of the award can be found at www.emergingwritersfestival.org.au and www.hachette.com.au.

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Booktopia

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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Title: Magpie Murders

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Orion/Hachette Australia

Published: 11th October 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pünd, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway…

But Conway’s latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.

From Sunday Times bestseller Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, his deliciously dark take on the cosy crime novel, brought bang- up-to-date with a fiendish modern twist.

~*~

With Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz delivers a novel within a novel, a mystery within a mystery. The novel begins with editor of Cloverleaf Books, Susan Ryeland, sitting down to read to read the latest from her company’s most popular author, Alan Conway, the ninth book in the Atticus Pünd series. Horowitz has included the manuscript for the reader to read along with the editor, Susan.

The first chunk of the book is dedicated to this manuscript, and as such, the pages are numbered unconventionally – going backwards once Susan has read what she has of the manuscript, sans the closing chapters that reveal the conclusion to the mystery. Conway’s mystery revolves around two deaths: Mary Blakiston, and her employer, Sir Magnus Pye. As Susan Ryeland settles in to read the story, and as I did, it was not evident that Susan’s life and the mystery of the missing pages would soon come to mirror the story she was reading.

Horowitz has taken the cosy crime genre, made popular by Agatha Christie and Poirot, who rate several mentions, along with television shows the author has worked on himself, and refreshed it. An amateur detective, following the trail of clues left from a manuscript, and interactions with people involved. Slowly, and
without extensive police involvement and technology, Susan’s story reaches a climax alongside that of the closing chapters of the mystery of Alan Conway, and the final chapters of his book.

Anthony Horowitz has written a work that is meta. That is, a creative work that is self-referential. It refers to the conventions of the cosy crime genre through the story Susan Ryeland is reading and the mystery she becomes embroiled in, and in making reference to television shows Horowitz himself has worked on and the imprint, Orion, Horowitz has referenced his own world of writing and the world of publishing.

This was a book that I wanted to devour and savour at the same time – the deaths are not seen on the page, but rather mentioned, both in the Conway story and the over-arching story by Horowitz, homage to the genre conventions. As the last few pages ticked over, everything fell into place. The detail, down to reviews for the fictional series by Alan Conway at the beginning of the manuscript, to Anthony Horowitz writing as himself and as a friend of Alan Conway, all make this a worthy read of any fan of the genre, or author.

The Jane Austen Writer’s Club by Rebecca Smith

Title: The Jane Austen Writer’s Club

Author: Rebecca Smithjane-aausten-writers

Genre: Non-fiction/writing advice

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st October, 2016

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 352

Price: $36.00

Synopsis: Pretty much anything anyone needs to know about writing can be learned from Jane Austen. While creative writing manuals tend to use examples from twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers, The Jane Austen Writers’ Club is the first to look at the methods and devices used by the world’s most beloved novelist. Austen was a creator of immortal characters and a pioneer in her use of language and point of view; her advice continues to be relevant two centuries after her death.

Here Rebecca Smith examines the major aspects of writing fiction–plotting, characterization, openings and endings, dialogue, settings, and writing methods–sharing the advice Austen gave in letters to her aspiring novelist nieces and nephew, and providing many and varied exercises for writers to try, using examples from Austen’s work.

Exercises include:

*Show your character doing the thing he or she most loves doing. In the opening scene of Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot looks himself up in the Baronetage, which is the Regency equivalent of Googling oneself. That single scene gives us a clear understanding of the kind of man he is and sets up the plot.

* Use Jane Austen’s first attempts at stories to get yourself started. Write a very short story inspired by “The Beautifull Cassandra,” a work of eighteenth-century flash fiction.

The Jane Austen Writers’ Club is a fresh primer on writing that features utterly timeless advice.

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As a writer aiming for publication, books about writing and writing processes are both a source of interest but also something met with a little hesitation: if it relies too much on saying a certain way of writing is the best way, or that writers must always use certain processes, or ignores that each writer has their own way of working through a plot, I’m instantly put off. Some books will tell you to start in the middle and attempt to discourage the novice writer from starting at the beginning – as Dame Julie Andrews sang, a very good place to start. Whereas the writing books that simply encourage thinking about writing, that give exercises, advice, tools and don’t try and imply that starting at the beginning is just as useful as starting anywhere, and encourage the writer to do what works for them, are the ones I am drawn to. Rebecca Smith’s The Jane Austen Writer’s Club falls into the category of encouraging and helpful writing aids. Having the book divided into chapters for planning a novel, character, setting, point of view, dialogue, secrets and suspense, techniques used by Jane Austen, journeys, food, and finally, the life of a writer, allows for linear reading but also dipping in and out of specific chapters. Each chapter has excerpts from the canon of Jane Austen’s work, accompanied by discussion of the basic concepts, what Jane did and finally, a variety of exercises.

After reading the book, I attempted the arrival exercise – I was unsure of where to start and end, and may revisit it, but I know they are doable. There are a few exercises that might be best left until the story or novel you are working on are completed, at least, I think I will find these sorts of exercises most useful at this stage, but the others I can come back to when I am stuck, or wondering what comes next. Of course, it is likely that some exercises will lend themselves to some stories more than others, or maybe I can just write anything in them when I need to work something out. At any rate, these exercises and the tone of this book are much more accessible and useful than ones that appear to have disdain for people starting at the beginning, or for people who get to a point where they feel like they need to step away. Some writing advice ignores the need to take a break at times, to live life. Rebecca Smith acknowledges that there will be times when a writer needs a break, or when life gets in the way and writing time must be sacrificed for family or illness. Her encouraging words to find time, find a space but also to respect the balance between writing and the rest of your life are what worked for me. And this is the best way to approach a writing help book: to acknowledge everyone has a different process and not everyone can just block out the world and write.

A very useful guide for writers, students, teachers or just fans of Jane Austen who are interested in her process – and who knows, these words and exercises might just inspire someone who has never written a story to give it a go.

A Good Yarn: Australian Stories, Australian Voices

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Imagine you have written and published a book, and you are starting to make a living from the royalties from this book, a goal you have been working towards for years. Now, imagine you’ve been told that not only will books published overseas take priority over Australian content, but that in fifteen years, you and all other Australian authors will lose not only their copyright, but right to royalties because the government deems fifteen years enough to make a living from your hard work, and that fair use, that is, someone’s right to use your words, your work in any way that they see fit – is more important than you and your family being able to live.

This is the reality that will face any Australian author if the government decides to repeal Parallel Import Restrictions, (PIRs) as recommended by the Productivity Commission. It would mean greater risk to Australian publishers, and greater risk at taking on Australian voices and authors – there would be no incentive for Australian authors to be promoted because the claims are, imported, foreign stories would make books cheaper and more accessible; when in fact, books in Australia are cheaper already.

Books Create is a driving force in trying to prevent this from happening, and have presented some facts about the book industry in Australia:

  • With 7,000 new titles published annually, this creates $2 billion in revenue;
  • When a publisher invests directly in an Australian author for non-educational purposes, this results in $120 million per annum, including promotion;
  • 1,000 businesses engage in the publishing industry, employing over 4,000 people. These jobs could be at risk if PIRs are introduced, and this should be a concern to those who say we need to create more jobs;
  • Book sellers and printers, and other book-related jobs employ a further 20,000 people;
  • Australia has the 14th largest publishing industry in the world – just because we do not make the top ten should not mean our stories don’t get published;
  • 300,000 Australians visit 100 literary festivals per year – this suggests that the desire for Australian authors and stories is high;
  • Australia has the largest English-language independent bookseller market – again, more jobs that could potentially be lost;
  • Average author income is $13,000 a year – not enough to live on;
  • Unlike other industries, the publishing industry does not use government subsidies, nor is it protected by government tariffs; and
  • EBooks only take up 20% of the market.

The arguments for these measures are purely economic, and based on the benefit of the many – being able to use an author’s work in any way someone desires, rather than someone being able to support themselves and not having to rely on other people or giving up on their dream and taking a job they don’t enjoy, or even taking their chances with an overseas publisher who may strip away the very essence of an Australian voice. It does not take into account the cultural implications either – where Australians – any Australians – white, Indigenous, immigrant or refugee – have their voices silenced in favour of foreign voices. I do not like the idea of not being able to read my favourite Pantera Press authors, or not being able to see if I can find an Indigenous story to read, or even just reading any book by any Australian author, even if it is set in a fantasy world or another time and place. It is still an Australian voice that deserves to be heard.

The fair use issue could be resolved by allowing educational institutions to use books for educational purposes. Fair use should not mean a free for all, where anyone can use and plagiarise an author’s work in any way they see fit. Fair use should mean that people can use the work for educational purposes but that the author must also have a say in any alterations or adaptations, especially if done during their life time. To take advantage of the hard work someone else has put into something and say “Sorry, I get to use your work any way I see fit to make money off and you can’t do anything about it,” is wrong. As an aspiring author, I have spent many years working on my writing. My fear with an open, free-for-all attitude to fair use and undermining copyright is not people studying the texts or wishing to be inspired by them or approaching me to make a film; it is the people who would try and profit off my hard work, or the hard work of any author via plagiarism and the original creator being unable to do anything to defend their work and livelihood.

On the issue of reducing copyright from seventy years after an author’s death to fifteen to twenty five years after publication, would you be happy to go up to someone who has built a house, is taking care of it, raising a family, and say to them: “You have had this house for fifteen years, your time is up. Another family needs this house, you need to move out?” No, because we recognise a house is a necessity. Similarly, the income an author receives from their books and backlists are necessary for them to live their lives without worrying if they can afford to eat that week.

There are many more issues that are involved with this and can be found at the Books Create website, or by doing a Google search of the issues and seeing what comes up from the Australian Society of Authors, or the Australian Publishing Association, or even the following blog posts by Alison Green, CEO of Pantera Press. We need to protect Australian stories and voices, and this cannot be done if we let the government silence us in the name of economics and fair use.

Below are some websites and links that expand on these ideas and help to explain them:

 

http://twibbon.com/embed/books-create-australia

Books Create Australia: http://bookscreateaustralia.com.au #bookscreate

Australian Society of Authors: https://www.asauthors.org

Alison Green: https://www.panterapress.com.au/news-and-events/6071/ and https://www.panterapress.com.au/news-and-events/6081/