Breaking into the Industry from an Illustrator’s Perspective

Illustrator Adriana Avellis has partnered with Children’s Book Author Cate Sawyer to release Places to Poop, It’s Raining Shoes, The Umbilical Family, and Discombobulated. As a contemporary, new, vibrant illustrator I thought you’d be interested to hear more about her and how she broke into the exclusive industry.

You studied at Newcastle University in NSW. Did your connection with the university play any part in you getting your breakthrough to publication?

My Bachelor Degree in Visual Communication Design helped me build the foundations of my style and personal confidence about being an illustrator. I had many wonderful tutors who encouraged us to not be afraid to get out there, and that was what motivated me to contact Hawkeye Publishing and brought me to right now.  I originally contacted Hawkeye asking if I could do an internship with them. They weren’t able to accommodate that, but they did connect me with Cate Sawyer and we ended up working together.

You went on to study at the London College of Art. Tell us about that.

University of Newcastle was really a place for me to begin to find my voice as an artist. I learnt about foundations, the elements necessary to construct a design, and understand the meaning behind the construction.

I found, after I went into the field and began practising and creating, that I was restless to continue to learn. The reason for my studying the Diploma of Illustration through the London Art College, was to work on my skills specifically as an illustrator. I learned more illustration focused techniques, including colour palette, character design, composition, editorial design, sequential design, etc.

The reason I decided to further my studies is so I could not only build my portfolio, but to challenge myself. Studying illustration isn’t just the creative aspect – it’s understanding deadlines, time management, working to a brief and collaborating with clients. Both of my courses of study have been exceptionally beneficial to my career.

How hard is it for new graduates to break into illustrating?

I found it quite difficult. The creative world is very competitive and there are so many different branches to choose. Initially, I applied for a lot of design jobs, mostly entry level, however I always managed to miss the mark just slightly with what they required from me.

I also contacted publishing houses, hoping (in my young, enthusiastic mind) that someone would give me a push in the right direction. I sent emails out and said I was an illustrator wanting to work in the publishing world and wanting advice on how I could do that. It was pretty brutal when no one got back to me (wiser and older me now understands the processes). I tried to think of other avenues, and when I finally got a response – even though it wasn’t exactly the response I was looking for, I ran with it. It takes thick skin, patience and hard work to be in this industry, and for graduates, they just have to be smart and find out different ways they can break in.

What do you enjoy most about illustrating?

It makes me happy. I have been drawing since I was very young, and when I was seven, I decided that I was going to work as a Disney artist. The way the creative team designed these animations that made me feel so much was astounding and filled me with wonder. When I draw, I love the different reactions I get from people, most of the cartoons/illustrations I create are designed to make people laugh. The ability to make someone happy and laugh is beautiful.

What do you enjoy least?

Having creative blocks. They are the absolute worst. Some days I am absolutely fine, the ideas flow and everything is perfect, I could draw from when I wake up to when I go to bed. But those blocks can sometimes hit me for days… and days. When I’m blocked, whatever I create just doesn’t look right, I have an idea in my head but I just can’t execute it.

Why release 4 books at once?

It’s a good idea to establish a rich trail of work. Breaking into the industry with one book is like going to battle with slingshot while everyone else has machine guns. Releasing all four gives variety to our audience, gives them the opportunity to get to know us.

What made you decide to work with Cate Sawyer?

When I received her response to my email asking to meet because she was looking for an illustrator to create some children’s books with her, I was ecstatic. I’m pretty sure I still have it somewhere.

The moment I met Cate I knew we would get along. She was friendly and enthusiastic about my artwork (which was the greatest thing ever for me, being new to the industry). Working with someone so established with such a wealth of knowledge and experience has been incredible. Cate encourages me and works with me as equals.

How long has it taken in between meeting the author, and the books going on sale? What was involved in the process?

Three years. Three years with planning, getting side tracked, re-planning, writing, designing, scrapping ideas, creating new ones and finally reaching our goal.

What are your personal favourite children’s picture books?

I’ve always been in love with the Winnie the Poohbooks – E.H Shepard’s illustrations are so beautiful and the stories are something today I feel nostalgic about.

Another is the Dr. Seuss books. I cannot even count how many times I read the Fox in Socksas a kid. That book is at my parent’s house in absolute tatters because myself and my brother and sister read it so much.

My favourite children’s book of all time, however, has to beLittle Moeby Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Jill Barton. The illustrations were so soft and playful, and worked in so well with the story.

Which illustrators have most informed your own artistic development, and why?

There are a lot of influences around and I can’t say it’s just specific to illustrators. An Illustrator I do admire and follow is Tim Von Rueden, an independent artist. Tim’s artwork has such detail and a mixture of semi-realistic and stylised work, he is an incredible artist. Mostly, I look at the work of Disney animators. I could look at my portfolio and see of lot of influence there. I learnt to draw drawing Disney characters.

What’s next for Adriana Avellis?

I still have a day job – my artwork is not yet providing a full time income, however, I am working on a lovely new book with Cate Sawyer, some exciting personal art projects on the go, and the usual client work. I am now receiving more author approaches; which is exciting.

Interview by Carolyn Martinez, Author, Editor & Guest Speaker.

Finding Your Authorly Voice

One of my favourite authors is Kylie Kaden because she writes a damn good character driven novel – my favourite kind. Her characters resonate with me; I love the exquisite way their layers unravel during the juicy situations she places them in. Kylie has two bestsellers, and her third novel is due for release in August 2019. I ran into her at a recent writers’ event (have I mentioned lately how important it is for all writers to get out from behind their desks and network?), so I took the opportunity to pose a question to her that I’m often asked by writers usually grappling with their first novel – how does a writer find their voice; is it a formulaic process? When I’m asked this question, people will rattle off the name of their favourite author and mention that by the time they’ve read six or seven of their novels they all start to sound similar.

Kylie’s three novels in, not six or seven, but I do like her response:

‘Having winged my first book (and most of my second), I feel a tad unqualified to talk about finding a writer’s voice.  It sounds hard. Like a windswept, uphill adventure involving a hip-flask and walking stick.  But I travelled no such voyage.  For me, writing is an unconscious, gut instinct most of the time.  In fact, my throat still tightens a squidge every time I say ‘I’m a writer’, fearful that alarms will sound, people will point and shout ‘she has no business calling herself that’. Suffice to say finding my voice was a short and flukey journey.

‘My first attempt at writing (mostly for sanity-preservation reasons whilst on mat leave) was found on the slush pile at Random House about a year after I started. I was gobsmacked. Losing Kate then launched in April. But it wasn’t until they accepted my second (Missing You, released April 2015) that I realised I just might be doing something right, and perhaps it was my ignorance of all rules that made me distinct.  My third, The Day The Lies Began, is out August 2019 – and only now am I feeling legit.

‘Many ingredients go into writing. Your style is the result of the decisions you make at the word level. Tone and word-appropriateness are dictated by audience and purpose – the odd ‘f’ bomb may be considered acceptable by many in a work of contemporary fiction, but entirely taboo in a professional or technical piece.  But the all-important ‘voice’ is the relationship you have with your reader. What comes through about you. What makes the work distinct. Like the core of the onion after all the layers are pulled away. So how can that be anything but raw, essentially you?

‘So, I’ve come to believe ‘voice’ should take the least effort.  Hone your craft, consider structure and pace, and edit till your eyes twitch. But voice? It’s within you. It’s organic.  It’s the one thing most susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’. Kind of like soul.   The way I see it novels are a marathon not a sprint and to remain consistent (for a hundred thousand words or so) I can’t be thinking too hard about the personality behind each word.  I need to churn them out, work that cursor across those pesky blank lines without falling out of character.

‘One of the great things about my editor is her willingness to leave personality on the page. Genre conventions are one thing, but no one wants to read a contrived, formulaic, well-rehearsed act, or a watered-down version of the writers-favourite-author. Don’t try to please everyone – readers yearn for honesty. Authenticity. A different spin on the well-trodden plot; the quirky turn of phrase, the off-beat observation, the slightly-insane interpretation of a common situation. I feel these little nuances make fiction shine.

‘In short, I believe the advice your mother dished out on your first nervous day of school, ‘just be yourself,’ is just as apt when it comes to writing. If it’s not working, you may just be trying too hard.’

Kylie’s words resonate. I agree – there’s a fine line between trying too hard and not trying enough. For sure, perfect your craft – you must learn the craft of writing – but don’t neutralise your voice in the honing of your craft.

Kylie is presenting at Arana Hills Library from 6pm – 7:30pm on Tuesday 23rd October on ‘Creative Writing Basics’. Bookings required.

If you haven’t already read Losing Kate and Missing You, I highly recommend you do so. Not only are they riveting reads, they’re great case studies in character writing.

Publicity … The Necessary Evil

It’s the bane of nearly every author with whom I speak. We just want to write, but alas we must publicise, and most horridly of all – often in front of a crowd.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Tiana Templeman, lecturer from the Queensland University of Technology, award-winning freelance journalist, author and media industry academic who delivers courses for writers’ centres, corporates and libraries. She has delivered ‘Working with the Media’ courses for Tourism & Events Queensland and teaches Feature Writing at the Queensland University of Technology. We secured her for a session with Brisbane Book Authors and it was full of specific, relevant information. I liked the detail she provided; she doesn’t speak in overarching concepts, she gives solid, concrete tasks writers can take on immediately. In fact, I’d even go so far as saying that after hearing her speak I became excited about my upcoming publicity efforts … perhaps publicity is not so evil after all.

So I hit her up with a few questions with you in mind.

What should authors keep in mind when approaching media to promote their books?

It’s important to think about the publication they’re approaching and what the readers at that publication are interested in. This is what drives editorial decisions so authors need to present their work in a way that will appeal to the readership.

What should be included in a media release, and how long should it be?

One page is perfect. Ideally, it should contain a paragraph up front drawing on any central themes in the book which will resonate with readers, followed by a brief synopsis and something interesting about the author. Contact details and a link to an online image library should also be included. It can be annoying when large attachments clog up an inbox, however, on the flipside a journalist may need access to the images immediately if they’re filling a last-minute space in a newspaper. A link to an online image library solves both of these issues.

Does a media release stand alone, or is it the body of the email that has to grab a journalist’s attention?

A media release will stand alone but the biggest challenge is often getting the journalist to read it when they’re busy. For this reason, it’s a good idea to include a couple of paragraphs in the email introducing the central themes in the book, the story and the writer. It’s fine to show a bit of personality in the email as long as it remains professional.

How do we know to whom to pitch our particular story?

Research, research, research. Keep an eye on the arts pages of newspapers and magazines, look for online sites that promote authors, and see which outlets are running reviews or even snippets with a small blurb and cover photo.  The local library is a great place to find a wide range of newspapers and magazines which can be reviewed for possible coverage opportunities at no charge.

What is the lead-time for approaching magazines, newspapers and radio with a story idea?

It varies depending on the publication but a good rule of thumb is 6 months for glossy magazines, one month for weekend newspapers, one or two weeks for dailies and the same for radio.

What are the common mistakes authors make when approaching media?

Definitely sending out mass press releases to journalists without checking if the journalist writes about books and authors. Whether a journalist is a staff writer working at a newspaper or a freelancer, they generally have areas they specialise in.  For example, I love books but write about food and travel. Even if I get an amazing press release from an author, it isn’t something I would write about as I don’t have editorial contacts in this area.

How should an author prepare for an interview to be an engaging interviewee?

The most important thing to remember is the interviewer probably hasn’t read your book, especially if it hasn’t come out yet. Think about what questions they might ask – your introduction email and media release will help drive these – and have some anecdotes ready to go. Keep them short and sharp and don’t limit yourself to the book itself. A quick, funny or poignant story about the writing process or a story behind the story can be interesting and make your interview come across as less of a sales pitch. Also, don’t forget your aim is to get people to buy your book, so don’t give away all those juicy plot twists!

What’s next for you – what are you currently working on?

I’m heading overseas on assignment for the NZ Herald and also redesigning my website. One promises to be much more fun than the other!


Tiana’s book Absolutely Faking It has nothing to do with publicity – in author terms, she’s a travel writer. Although, I have to say, I think Absolutely Faking It would be a great title for a book on publicity for introverts! If you’re interested in securing Tiana as a speaker or copywriter you can find her here. If you’re like Tiana and travel means hiking boots and hostels – you might like reading Absolutely Faking It.

If you’re someone we need to feature on our writers blog, contact Carolyn Martinez and convince us why.


Sydney as a Choice Setting in the Words of Patricia Leslie

Patricia Leslie is an Australian author with a passion for combining history, fantasy, and action into stories that nudge at the boundaries of reality. Her latest novel is Keeper of the Way, published by Odyssey Books and distributed by Novella Books. Our Q&A delves into her authorly life and process. 

What have you learned about being an author, on the way to releasing your third book, Keeper of the Way?

Resilience, persistence, faith, and patience.

Resilience through finding strength after apparent failure: I learned not to take rejections personally, but to feel I’d made headway if I received something other than a form “not for us” note. After all, there are plenty of now famous authors out there who had to pay their dues and collect their fair share of rejection slips. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to give up a few times along the way; shoved my manuscripts in the metaphorical bottom-drawer in frustration, and found other things to do. But the ideas still came. Stories created themselves in my head and before long I’d be back at it, either dusting off the finished manuscript or bashing out something new. That is how I also learned persistence.

Faith: I took to heart something John Steinbeck once wrote to a friend about how he still felt that one day someone would realise that he was an imposter: “… the haunting thought comes that perhaps I have been kidding myself all these years, myself and other people – that I have nothing to say or no art in saying nothing.” I figured that if the great John Steinbeck felt that way, had that lack of confidence in himself, then who am I to deny those similar feelings in myself.

Patience: The other thing I’ve learned is that this is a long game. I’ve gone from strength to strength in my writing, in my research, in my ability to sift through the ideas to find the hidden gems, and in coming to terms with fear. I’ve done it at my own pace and within the boundaries of what I can handle in terms of stress and pressure. Writing and all it entails isn’t done in a bubble. Competing demands must be taken into account.

For the uninitiated, what is urban fantasy?

I think of myself as a writer of speculative fiction, but that is usually too generalised a description. I’m fascinated by the nuggets of information hidden away in history books and archives, most often about women. The sort of thing that isn’t well known. I also work from the viewpoint that history, if you go back far enough, reaches a point where it slips into mythology. I’ve read widely enough to make connections between the history/myths of different cultures. For instance, most cultures were once more women-focussed than currently. The femaleness of their beliefs have been pushed underground or subverted. This is common enough knowledge, but the lengths and machinations that have been taken to hide history are quite often astounding. If you’re not much of a reader you might never realise that women, historically, did anything more than keep house and have babies. And this is just one area of neglect. The same can be said for indigenous histories (any country, any time period), and religious beliefs.

The term urban fantasy, I feel, refers to fantasy fiction set in a realistic urban setting without any elves and dragons (high fantasy). Magic realism would have strong links to urban fantasy as well.

In Keeper of the Way, I blend a real mystery (the destruction of Sydney’s Garden Palace) with magic and mythology. Magic has a strong hold on our imagination and there are more people than might like to admit who instinctually assign magical reasoning to unexplainable events.

Why set all your books in Sydney?

Sydney’s history is really interesting and easy for me to research. It’s where I live and I know it reasonably well. There’s also a mystery around the Sydney Basin’s past that is only coming to the surface now as we learn more about the First Peoples and acknowledge their presence and impact on the area before and during European occupation. I hint a little at this in Keeper of the Way. We’re also maturing enough (most of us) to realise that what we’ve learned and been told, what’s been mentioned in newspapers and books in the past, only scratches the surface of real life.

Readers I’ve talked to have been pleasantly surprised that the settings are Australian. Australian readers can relate to the locations and social history of the times in a way they can’t with stories set on the other side of the world.

What did you learn about writing process/technique from your first novel?

  1. That revision never stops.
  2. There’s nearly always a better way to say or describe something.
  3. No matter how many times you read the words, sneaky typos and clunky phrasing can be found by fresh eyes (usually someone else’s fresh eyes).

What did you learn from your second?

  1. That I’m not too bad at this writing caper. Not perfect mind you, but not too bad. There’s always room for improvement.
  2. That faith and confidence come from within and cannot be relied upon from external sources.

Are you a full-time author?

Unfortunately not. I’m a full time creative – I’m always thinking about stories, ideas, words, ways to promote myself, but I haven’t reached the stage where I can quit the day-job and concentrate solely on writing. It slows everything down but that’s okay. This is a long game and my plan takes that into account.

What are your favourite and least favourite marketing activities associated with being an author? Why?

I love and hate social media. It’s addictive and, once you become hooked on the quick rewards, not getting instant gratification is depressing. I enjoy it, but it’s distracting and can take up a lot of time. It can be highly educational, puts you in touch with areas, aspects of life you might not experience otherwise and is fake, shallow, and unreal at the same time. It makes you feel great one minute and inadequate the next. Such a contradiction!

Do you attend writing festivals? 

I’ve appeared at the Sutherland Shire Writers Festival and Sydney Book Expo. I’m totally up for other festivals.

Describe your relationship with your editor.

My editor and publisher are one and the same person. We have a good working relationship. She’s considerate of her authors’ sensitivities (and insecurities). Her editing suggestions are usually spot on but she’s also open to negotiation if there’s a good reason.

What are your favourite author networking events?

I haven’t really been to any to tell you the truth. Those I’ve come across tend to be during the day when I’m at work. If anyone knows of some in Sydney after business hours, drop me a line.

How are you published, and what have been the major benefits and drawbacks of this?

Odyssey Books is a Small press. It’s great because I have a direct line to the publisher who is supportive of all her authors and encourages them to interact and seek advice from each other. We call ourselves, The Oddies. It’s a great group of people. The drawbacks of being with a small press are the restricted resources for marketing and general reach. However, we’re all on this journey together. Odyssey has a great future.

We’re all excited about this next question; what’s next for Patricia Leslie?

Finish the Crossing the Line series (two more books) and then get moving on a story I’ve had on the back burner for years (set in Ancient Gaul). I’d also like to write more short stories. I have a bunch of ideas that didn’t make it into Keeper of the Way.

It’s Raining Shoes – Imaginative play is the best kind of play!

PURCHASE It’s Raining Shoes Worldwide

For free delivery within AustraliaPurchase Here.

Nothing delights a child’s imagination more than a muddy puddle. Be swept away on an adventure of shoes, shoes and more shoes … and one sneaky Dad. Perfect for 2-4 year olds.

Reviews: ‘Beautifully animated. Loved this read,’ C T Mitchell, Author of the Jack Creed Mysteries.

‘Loved this book. Author and illustrator are the perfect pair,’ Davide A Cottone, Author – Shriek.


It’s Raining Shoes‘ Author Cate Sawyer is cheeky, tough, soft, the protector of correct grammar, Grand Poobar of pronunciation. She dislikes bullies. She loves challenges, exotic and unusual words, and making you laugh.

The illustrator, Adriana Avellis – when she isn’t laughing and sobbing over one of her favourite books or singing classic Disney tunes, she has a pencil in her hand, imagining new characters for you.

Thank you for supporting local talent!

It’s Raining Shoes is available through all major online retailers including and

** SPECIAL DEAL AUSTRALIA ONLY – PICTURE BOOK BUNDLE ** – Purchase all 4 of Cate Sawyer’s books for the special price of $48 (delivery included). Bundle includes 1 x Places to Poop, 1 x Discombobulated, 1 x It’s Raining Shoes, and 1 x The Umbilical Family. Purchase Here.

Review by Michelle Wedlake, Family Daycare Worker – ‘I bought the bundle and read them to the kids today. They absolutely love them!’

OUT NOW … Discombobulated

Fun With Phonetics … Purchase Discombobulated Worldwide

For free delivery within AustraliaPurchase here.

Can a rhinoceros squeeze through a tiny gap? Most certainly, probably … not, but I’d like to find out for sure. Fun with phonetics. Perfect for 4-7 year olds. Parents, think sneaking veggies in spaghetti bolognese. The words are delightful, lyrical, challenging. Inquisitiveness is encouraged. More than one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life. Learning new words IS fun, and a precursor to your child doing well in school! Happy days!

Introducing Jerry and Paul to the Hawkeye family – look out for more of these feathered critters.

Reviews: ‘Cool, funny and oh so charming,’ multi-award winning romance author, Amy Andrews.

‘An absolute winner for adults and children alike. Cate Sawyer and Adriana Avellis as author and illustrator take all the confusion out of Discombobulated … the next supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!’ Davide A Cottone, author of Shriek.

‘Educational, funny and written with love. The gorgeously creative illustrations will keep you smiling. The text is clear and easy to say out loud. Highly recommended for children and bedtime readers,’ Debbie Terranova, author of Enemies Within These Shores.

Discombobulated is available through all major online stores including and


** SPECIAL DEAL AUSTRALIA ONLY – PICTURE BOOK BUNDLE ** – Purchase all 4 of Cate Sawyer’s books for the special price of $48 (delivery included). Bundle includes 1 x Places to Poop, 1 x Discombobulated, 1 x It’s Raining Shoes, and 1 x The Umbilical Family. Purchase Here.

Review by Michelle Wedlake, Family Daycare Worker – ‘I bought the bundle and read them to the kids today. They absolutely love them!’


Author Cate Sawyer is cheeky, tough, soft, the protector of correct grammar, Grand Poobar of pronunciation. She dislikes bullies. She loves challenges, exotic and unusual words, and making you laugh.

The illustrator, Adriana Avellis – when she isn’t laughing and sobbing over one of her favourite books or singing classic Disney tunes, she has a pencil in her hand, imagining new characters for you.

Thank you for supporting local talent – the ‘little fella’!

AVAILABLE NOW – The Umbilical Family


For free delivery within Australia – Purchase Here.

Start a loving conversation about adoption, egg & embryo donation, step-parents, same sex couples, fostering, single parents, traditional couples. There are sensitive, yet beautiful, conversations to be had. Sometimes, parents need a helping hand to introduce complex topics and this book offers that. As the mother of an adopted son, and a daughter born from embryo donation, I struggled to find the book I connected with to explore the diversity of family origins. The concept of an umbilical chord growing from heart to heart came to me while I was walking on the beach early one morning. It grew from the seed of an idea, into a full story that I entrusted into the hands of my wonderful illustrator, Adriana Avellis. I send this story from me to you with love. Perfect for ages 5 – 8.

‘As funny for parents as it is reassuring for children, this delightful book is a heartfelt exploration of the wondrous diversity of family,’ Author Kylie Kaden.

‘The illustrations brought a smile to my face and the words of love warmed my heart. I love how The Umbilical Family spoke to me as a father and a grandparent,’ Author C. T. Mitchell.

‘Another great addition to our Cate Sawyer collection. The Umbilical Family is an educational tale that travels straight to the heart,’ Author Dean Blake.


Author Cate Sawyer is cheeky, tough, soft, the protector of correct grammar, Grand Poobar of pronunciation. She dislikes bullies. She loves challenges, exotic and unusual words, and making you laugh.

The illustrator, Adriana Avellis – when she isn’t laughing and sobbing over one of her favourite books or singing classic Disney tunes, she has a pencil in her hand, imagining new characters for you.

Thank you for supporting local talent!

The Umbilical Family is available from all major online stores including and


** SPECIAL DEAL AUSTRALIA ONLY – PICTURE BOOK BUNDLE ** – Purchase all 4 of Cate Sawyer’s books for the special price of $48 (delivery included). Bundle includes 1 x Places to Poop, 1 x Discombobulated, 1 x It’s Raining Shoes, and 1 x The Umbilical Family. Purchase Here.

Review by Michelle Wedlake, Family Daycare Worker – ‘I bought the bundle and read them to the kids today. They absolutely love them!’

OUT NOW – Places to Poop


For free delivery within Australia – Purchase Here.

The laundry basket looks like a delightful posi for a quick poop … and yet … so many screams and running of adult feet and picking me up by the scruff and plonking me onto a cold plastic seat when I do. Toilet Training fun – fill the oopsies with laughter. The contemporary illustrations and fun captions will delight you as much as your child. This book comes with an interactive exercise at the end to keep your kids engaged. Perfect for ages 18 months to 3 years.

Reviews: ‘Laugh out loud funny for parents, and clear and engaging for kids, Places to Poop is a hilarious romp that doesn’t sugar coat the realities of parenting,’ Author Kylie Kaden.

‘Anything that brings some light and frivolity into the seriously taxing business of toilet training gets my tick. Great fun for trainers and trainees alike!’ Author Deborah Disney.


** SPECIAL DEAL AUSTRALIA ONLY – PICTURE BOOK BUNDLE ** – Purchase all 4 of Cate Sawyer’s books for the special price of $48 (delivery included). Bundle includes 1 x Places to Poop, 1 x Discombobulated, 1 x It’s Raining Shoes, and 1 x The Umbilical Family. Purchase Here.

Review by Michelle Wedlake, Family Daycare Worker – ‘I bought the bundle and read them to the kids today. They absolutely love them!’


Author Cate Sawyer is cheeky, tough, soft, the protector of correct grammar, Grand Poobar of pronunciation. She dislikes bullies. She loves challenges, exotic and unusual words, and making you laugh.

The illustrator, Adriana Avellis – when she isn’t laughing and sobbing over one of her favourite books or singing classic Disney tunes, she has a pencil in her hand, imagining new characters for you.

Thank you for supporting local talent!

Places to Poop is available through all major online retailers including and

K M Steele and Why All Authors Should Go Regional

K M Steele is an Australian author who loves a good plot and a great sentence. She recently published her debut novel, Return to Tamarlin. It started out as a diarised account of fictional family events experienced by two sisters, because she was fascinated by the way siblings can remember the same events so differently.

Author Q&A

Why do readers connect with the story?
A good percentage of my readers are Australian and female – readers who enjoy two strong female characters. The novel is also enjoying a strong readership in Western NSW where it is set – exploring the landscape and the difficulties of rural life.

What is your professional background?
I have a PhD in English (Creative Writing/ Australian Literature). Return to Tamarlin was part of my final thesis. I was writing and submitting fiction for many years before I started my PhD, but the discipline of completing a thesis that was half theoretical exegesis and half creative writing certainly helped to hone my craft. I currently write in between a full-time day job, teaching creative writing, and marketing my novel.

Tell us about your process – are you a plotter or a winger?
I often start with a plot, but I rarely stick to it. I usually have a very strong beginning and ending – it is the bit in the middle that takes time to evolve. I tend to write my first draft at a gallop. I want the bones of the story there, and I’m always impatient to get to the end. Once I have the story down, I go back and start layering. That’s when I’ll add plot twists, and little idiosyncrasies in characters or communities, and start to explore certain themes within the novel in more depth. The first draft can be painful because it often feels like I have to force the story from one end to the other. The layering is the fun, creative part.

What have been the hardest lessons you’ve learned as a writer?
Patience. I never had much and I still have to work on it, but your entire life as a writer is consumed by waiting, and that takes patience. Waiting for ideas, waiting for replies on submissions, waiting for competition results, waiting for proofs – it doesn’t matter where you are in your career as a writer, you still have to wait!

Do you enjoy the promotional side of being an author?
Yes, and no. I enjoy meeting people face-to-face, and doing readings and talks. I enjoy answering questions, and talking about the process behind the writing. However, marketing the novel and selling my author brand, while necessary, is not quite as easy and very time consuming.

What’s been the most extraordinary ‘meeting a fan’ experience you’ve had?
I just finished a mini book tour to Lightning Ridge, Walgett and Coonabarabran. I was amazed at how much everyone appreciated the fact that I’d travelled all the way out there to read to them in person. It proves that no amount of digital interaction is as good as a real live author.

What’s next for K M Steele?
I’m currently writing Tiny’s World, a novel set in Mackay in the 1980s. I’m trying to recapture the zeitgeist of the time and having plenty of fun in the process.

Carolyn Martinez is an author, editor and speaker.

Kylie Chan – On Writing, Publishing and Marketing

From Taoist immortals to distant galaxies, Author Kylie Chan writes Fantasy based on Chinese mythology. She’s had 10 novels published by Harper-Collins, and 3 novellas self-published. In a hybrid mix, her manga/text combined novel ‘Small Shen’ (manga by Queenie Chan) was published in Australia by Harper-Collins and self-published in the US and UK with Ingram Spark. That’s a lot of experience all wrapped up in one author so of course I was quick to pick her brain for your benefit.

Who are your readers and why do they connect with your books?
I have readers from thirteen to ninety. I’m approached by children at conventions who I feel are far too young to be reading my stuff, but many of them are extremely mature for their age! One of the best things that happened was at a signing, and the bookstore manager, her mother, and her grandmother all came to get the books signed. Her grandmother was in her nineties and was a huge fan of the ‘White Tiger’.

What’s your professional background?
For most of my life I’ve been a specialist in information technology. I started out in the early eighties working on mainframes in the Bureau of Statistics in Canberra. PC’s hadn’t even been invented then, and when they appeared I raced to learn about this more portable and accessible technology. I’ve worked as a trainer, and in Hong Kong I was a consultant and expert in business intelligence systems. When I returned to Australia I had to start from the bottom again (for the third time) and just couldn’t face it. I decided to write a best-seller instead. I’m a full-time author now.

In terms of process, are you a plotter or do you wing it?
I do both: I have a big story arc idea in my head, and then release my characters into the world and gently steer them in the direction I want them to go. Sometimes they refuse.

What are the hardest lessons you’ve learned as a writer?
That the income isn’t nearly as much as I thought it would be. I would be making far more as an IT consultant. But writing gives me freedom and happiness that I wouldn’t give up for anything!

Do you enjoy the promotional side of being an author?
I love it! I love getting out and meeting the fans, and talking to everybody. Catching up with my peers at events is the best thing ever. Going to conventions is super fun, I adore the cosplay and because I have a nerdy background I can relate to my fellow nerds!

What marketing channels are worthwhile for authors, and what’s over-rated?
‘Building your author platform’ is seriously over-rated. It’s more important to produce quality stories. Having a terrific marketing effort and online presence will only work ONCE if your books aren’t fun to read or poorly edited; your readers will go to your work, see that it’s of poor quality, and never return. They’ll tell their friends, too. The biggest reason people buy books is because someone they trust has told them the book is good. No amount of the author telling them to buy their stuff will work (more than once).

What’s been the most extraordinary ‘meeting a fan’ experience you’ve had?
This happened at an Oz ComicCon last year.
Young woman: ‘You have thirty seconds to convince me why I should buy your books, with ten seconds to think about it. Starting… now.’
Me: ‘No.’
Her: (shocked)
Me: ‘They stand on their own merit. If you don’t want them, that’s fine.’
(She just went away.)

Another one:

Young man: ‘I don’t read books, I’ve never read a book, and I won’t read yours. If I did read, why should I read these ones?’

Oh! I have another one! This happened at Angus and Robertson in Post Office Square a few years ago, when I was just starting out. I was doing a signing with Marianne de Pierres.

Older woman: ‘Oh you’re signing your books? What are they about?’
Marianne: ‘Mine are space opera science fiction.’
Me: ‘Mine are fantasy based on Chinese mythology.’
Woman: ‘So they’re fiction?’
Us: ‘Yes.’
Woman: ‘Oh, I’m far to intelligent to read fiction.’ (Sticks her nose in the air and walks past us into the store.)
(Marianne and I still laugh at that one)

What’s next for Kylie Chan?
I’m busy working on the next ‘Dragon Empire’ book. I have a few workshops coming up that I’m presenting at the Queensland Writers Centre: one of them will be ‘self-publishing 101’ where I go through the basics. I’m appearing at Byron Writers Festival in August to talk about self-publishing with Ingram Spark. I’m giving a workshop at the Rainforest Writers Retreat. Oh, and I have an idea for a new story based in the ‘Dark Heavens’ universe!

Carolyn Martinez is an author, editor and speaker.