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03 April 2012

What is Aussie Author Month, and Why Do I Support it?

The way I see Aussie Author Month is the more we, as a community and as individuals, talk about Aussie authors the better. Having a dedicated month to the cause only emphasises this need. I mean, the thing is, why do we feel the need to concentrate our attention on Australian authors and their stories for one whole month? The simple answer is, their voices sometimes get lost in the blogging community. The community is international, so you would expect other voices (accents?) out there, but because the market is dominated by American publishers, a lot of Aussie voices get lost in the crowd. Some authors, like Keri Arthur, for example, get picked up by American publishers and are know to readers overseas (I found out one of my close American friends is obsessed with her). But how many amazing Australian authors don’t? I could name so many wonderful Australian authors who I buy on sight, who have helped to shape who I am as a person, who have caused my imagination to run away and my heart to soar, and only one or two have the accolades they truly deserve. Some of it is a numbers game, of course, but not always. The more we rave about an author, the more chances that someone will stumble over our blog post or tweet and decide to pick up a book and fall in love, just as we have. That person may have never had another opportunity to be exposed to that author, because they live in the UK, America, Canada, Brazil, the Philippines, wherever, and we, as a community, give them a chance to be exposed to a fabulous author.

So reviews, interviews, rambling blogs, surveys, lists, recommendations - all of it is helping to raise the profile of Aussie authors in the international stage. Last year I had a number of online friends from overseas ask me for recommendations, because the concept of reading an Australian book intrigued them (I just wish Shannah Jay was still in print. She is so damn underrated). It was a novel concept for them, but they bought a number of Australian books because of it. We have so many amazing authors who bring their unique voices to the table, but they get lost in the crowd when you look at the international market. I remember growing up, nearly everything I devoured was by Australian authors because so much emphasis was put on them at school. Every second book had won an award from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the Aurealis Awards, or something similar. Of course I read books from overseas, but my school library exposed me to so many wonderful talents that I never would have discovered otherwise. Those are the authors that I now scour the second hand bookstores for, because quite a number are now out of print. Some, like Melina Marchetta, became famous (I was friends with the librarian, and read Looking for Alibrandi before it even had a school library stamp! I was in love from the first sentence!). Others, like Liby Hathorn, are only really know if you have school children and encourage them to read, or if you loved her as a child yourself, or if you are a librarian. It is a shame, because I think Liby Hathorn, and other authors like her are well worth reading, and have a distinctively Australian voice that people from overseas would find fascinating, and Aussies would find comforting and something they can identify with.

I look over at my book shelves, and the number of Australian books are sadly outweighed by the number of American books. I feel ashamed. But I love buying new books, and while I snap up Australian authors every chance I get, I still have less because there are less on the shelves. Most of my books by Australian authors are second hand copies which are now out of print. I snap them up like the rare gems they are, because I know I am unlikely to get another chance. I love the ebook trend because some authors who were big in Australia in the 80s and 90s are starting to release their books digitally. They aren’t always easy to find. You have to be tenacious, and sometimes the only way you discover them is by googling to see if the author now has a website, and then browsing their website until you find an ebook link. But you know what? It is worth that long haul! I hope more and more Australian authors can get their back catalogue published digitally, because it makes it more accessible to us, the readers, and it makes it easier to recommend to our overseas friends.

You can find out more at the official website: and follow updates via Facebook: and the Twitter hashtag: #ausbooks.

Aussie Author Month is also trying to raise funds and awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Fund. You can donate and find out more information about the ILF here:

If you want to guest post during Aussie Author Month, please let me know! You can read the Book Bites submission guidelines {here}.

01 April 2012

Book Bites is BACK! Aussie Author Month, Writers' Tea Party, and other news

I'm baaa-aaack! *grins* I have my computer back, up and running, and I have a new job so I'll be buying books again. Be scared, be very scared! Although, for the moment, I may need to keep the blogging for the weekends. I'll stay up all night on my computer if I get the chance, and that really isn't a good idea when you need to be up and about by 6am every morning *rolls eyes*

Anyway, I have A LOT of news to share. I am not sure how much I will get to in this blog post, but I have months to tell you about everything, so I'll just mention the pertinent items.

Aussie Author Month

It is that time of the year again. No, not April Fools Day (I actually slept through that, would you believe?) but it is the very first day of Aussie Author Month. How exciting! There are so many amazing Australian authors, past and present, that are worth reading, but sadly a lot of readers either aren't aware of them or haven't picked up their books before. When people have asked me for my favourite Australian authors in the past, they have been shocked that I can recite 20 names of beloved authors without taking a breath, and that more names follow when I gasp for that breath. But the simple truth is Australia has SO MUCH TALENT! Some have been published decades ago and we have forgotten their names. Some write for children or young adults and we forget how amazing they are. Some write obscure fantasy, science fiction, historical novels, or novels that aren't quite main stream enough to stick to the forefronts of our minds. Some are published by obscure little niche publishing houses and slip by us without gaining the headlines. And others are women writing serious literature, and where most people prefer to rave about Patrick White, Peter Carey and the like. But the simple fact of the matter is Australia produces a lot of talented writers. I think it is fabulous that someone has taken the initiative to have the month of April designated to highlighting the talent of our Aussie authors, and as such, Book Bites will also be dedicating April to the cause.

You can find out more at the official website: and follow updates via Facebook: and the Twitter hashtag: #ausbooks.

Aussie Author Month is also trying to raise funds and awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Fund. You can donate and find out more information about the ILF here:

As part of Aussie Author Month, I am looking for volunteers to be guest bloggers on Book Bites. The stipulation is you must blog about Australian authors or be an Australian author. You can read more about the Book Bites Submission Guidelines here.

I also have some giveaways planned, although those are still in the seed stage. All I can say is keep your eyes peeled!

Writers' Tea Party

One exciting project I have been a part of is the Writers' Tea Party. Elle, the editor, will be guest blogging soon to share more about this wonderful project. Suffice to say, I am honoured to be a part of it, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds. If you are part of the book industry (author, editor, publisher, etc.) and would like to be involved, let us know as we would love to hear from you!


I've been to a number of book events around Sydney this year, and there are only more to follow. You can watch the Book Bites Facebook account to see updates as they occur, follow me on Twitter, or wait for me to upload photos on Flickr :)

Okay, I have to admit that I haven't been updating ANYTHING as much as I should, but in my defence, I have been without a computer for nine months :) So, as a quick run down, in the last three months I have sat on Pyrmont Bridge and read romance books with about 40 other people, and I have listened to one of my favourite Play School actors read salacious sections of sexy novels. That was ... interesting. Wonderful and disconcerting. Some of my friends were too young, and others too old to remember Rhys Muldoon on Play School, but I am just the right age. That man has a magic voice, what ever age you are!

Updates and Redesign

I've been toying with some concepts I would like to implement on Book Bites. I am still ironing them out, but if there are any changes you wish to see at Book Bites, now would be the time to have your say! :)

Books Every Child Should Read

I am on the look out for books that all children should read! No, I am not pregnant, but I will be an auntie in August :D I have taken on the task of providing my nieceling or nephew with every book a child could desire, and those they should. Growing up, books were a magical place for me. I want to share that with the new little person in my family. I live in a different state, so this is my way of interacting with that little bundle of joy. The upside is I am too far away to need to learn how to change nappies! :D Although my brother is threatening to teach me anyway...

Anyway, I am very glad to be back. I can't really express how much I have missed you all. 

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