Recharge your batteries with the things that give you joy

6 May 2017 / Leave a Comment

I've got a new crush - Theresa Loe of Living Homegrown. She's a podcaster, TV producer, canning expert and homesteading guru. I've been listening to her podcast series Living Homegrown religiously about how to live farm fresh without the farm. 

Last Saturday I faced one of my greatest fears. I spent three hours in my two scary, spidery garden sheds clearing them out so I can use one shed for housing chickens. Yes chickens. I've been inspired by Theresa Loe. (My very kind father helped me out, I couldn't have done it without him ... suddenly huntsman spiders dangling from cobwebs near head ain't so terrifying if my dad is there with garden gloves giving up his Saturday afternoon to help out ...)

The fear of spiders gave me no joy. But the two clean sheds gave me loads of joy. 

So back to Theresa Loe. Now that I listen to all her podcasts I feel like I know her intimately. She ferments foods, makes her own yoghurt and cheeses, she cans her homegrown produce, she makes rosemary salt, grows blueberries, parents her teenage kids and is the producer of a leading garden TV show in the US. She's organised, friendly and she has the silkiest smooth voice; I just want to sit at her table, taste her homegrown food and listen to her talk about manure tea.

In episode 64: 7 Steps to getting more done in your farm fresh lifestyle she answered listeners' questions about how she is so productive in her waking hours. Among other life-changing tips, she recommends that people write down what drains them of energy and what gives them joy and recharges them. Then people should avoid the drains and make more time for the joy.

So I did this. My drains are things like social media, certain people, alcohol, sugar, bad food and not enough sleep. My joys are gardening, good conversation, baking, yoga, napping, sharing unique experiences with my kids and friends, spending time alone and eating overpriced Kimchi from the overpriced grocery store. 

According to Theresa Loe the joys recharge your batteries giving you more focus and energy and the drains suck you dry. So ditch those bloodsucking friends and vices that drain your energy and nourish yourself with those joys.

Theresa also talks about decluttering your mind for less distracted thinking. Do a brain dump of what you want to do for the next week or the next year by writing those tasks down. This works amazingly well. All those 'must do' thoughts that cloud your head dissipate - leaving space for calmer, more creative ideas.

You too can become a raving fan of Theresa Loe by tuning in here.

And here's a pic of my spider-free sheds. Chickens coming soon to the shed on the right ...

I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wifeavailable as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to exit an unhappy marriage, happily.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...

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How to nurture a writer

28 March 2017 / Leave a Comment

I came across M. Molly Backes's blog post How to be a writer a few years ago. I was incredibly moved by her post on how to raise a writer and I often want to re-read it, having my own children. But I keep losing the post and then I have to find it again by typing in weird google searches such as: 'daughter wants to be a writer a bit of neglect'.

Anyway, I just found it again, and now I'm writing a blog post about it, because once I publish this post, it's a way of me saving the link to Molly's post forever! And it's a way of me sharing it with all of you ...

If you have a daughter (or a son) and they're keen on writing, you must read this. It's not going to tell you that they should grow up reading the classics or studying books on writing. It's going to tell you how they should have the space to daydream as well as a healthy dose of teen angst for the ideal artistic upbringing.

And if you're a writer yourself, maybe you're going to go, oh yeah, that's how I grew up ...

This is the perfect blueprint, I think, for any writer's childhood.

Best tips from Molly's post on how to raise a writer (but please read the whole post on her blog):

Let her be bored. Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do.

Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her.

Let her work long hours for crappy pay with a mean employer and rude customers. If she wants to be a writer, she’ll have to be comfortable with hard work and low pay.

Never take her writing personally or assume it has anything to do with you, even if she only writes stories about dead mothers and orphans.

Let her find her own voice, even if she has to try on the voices of a hundred others first to do so.

Keep her safe but not too safe, comfortable but not too comfortable, happy but not too happy.

Now, read M. Molly Backes's whole post here: and save it to Evernote, or the notes file on your phone, or tattoo it on the inside of your arm.
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Create a free ebook cover in under 10 minutes

28 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
use canva to create wattpad kindle ebook cover

Canva has recently launched ebook cover designs - for Wattpad and Kindle - and it's super easy to create eye-catching ebook covers in under 10 minutes!

Canva was founded by Melanie Perkins from Perth. She is the great Australian startup story. At 19 she was trying to explain to her university buddies how to use Photoshop and other design software and she started thinking there has to be an easier way to do good design in under 20 clicks!

She set out to create a platform that is stylish and simple to use. Real designers must hate it! Because now literally anyone can create beautifully designed material without going to university to study design for 3 years. As the Canva motto says, they are 'Empowering the world to design'.

How to create a book cover 

1. Go to Canva and register, if you haven't already:

2. Go to and scroll down until you find the section 'blogging or ebooks' - select either Wattpad book cover or Kindle Cover

3. Scroll through the layouts and select an ebook design template. There are totally free versions of paid ones starting from around $1

how to free book cover canva

4. Now you want to select an image. In the left size toolbar select 'Elements' - 'free photos'. You can start scrolling through the free images or use the search bar for something specific (some images may cost $1).

Alternatively you may like to choose a royalty free image from awesome free image sites such as Pexels or LibreStock. Use the 'Uploads' button in the left bar to upload any sourced images.

create free ebook cover on canva

5. Add your own book title, author name and short blurb or endorsement by over-typing in the text boxes. You can adjust font size, type and colour and reposition the text boxes. I tend to stick close to what the Canva designers have templated, as hey, they're the designers, I'm not!

canva free ebook cover

6. When you're happy with the design, click the download button in the top bar and save as a JPG or PNG.

Voila! You have your own awesome, eye-catching ebook cover! Now just load it to Wattpad or Kindle or wherever you want to snag those readers ...

I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, available as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...

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Text message storytelling - Tap by Wattpad

24 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
chat style story Tap Wattpad

Tap is a new app created by Wattpad featuring short chat-style stories. Yesterday, I was invited to join the early access of writing for Tap chat stories. I'm always curious about how technology is changing the way we write and read and this looked like a classic example of how new technologies can influence storytelling.

So I logged on last night with my 9-year-old daughter to check out these chat stories. I liked the interactive experience; one taps the screen and a message pops up, taps again, the next message pops up, it's message by message, as if you're actually receiving a text.

The first story we read was great. 'Get a shovel' was literally a message from the grave. In true mystery/horror style, the two of us were feeling tense and hooked by the story. It was short and punchy and an excellent example of how these stories could work.

The next two stories weren't so great; they were too long, meandering and tedious, and didn't work as text messages. Like why, if someone's fleeing from a threat would they stop and send long text messages?!!

But the last one we read in the comedy category was brilliant. In 'Text for a Good Time' someone finds a 'text me for a good time' message on the back of a toilet door and sends a 'wanna have a good time?' message. We see the exchange between these two people, the other saying they're always getting these messages they don't want and where can they take that note down. The twist at the end is unexpected and had us both giggling. 

So yeah, the chat stories are a style of their own and authors are going to have to think cleverly about how to use this platform as a story can sink or swim on it. It's microfiction at its best, readers have to be dropped right into the action of the story, there's no time for character development or setting up the plot. 

The fact that characters are texting becomes an important feature of the story and needs to be believable. Just like a writer needs to write good dialogue by listening carefully to the intricacies of speech, so does a chat story writer need to write authentic sounding text messages. And of course, we're going to see txt-speak creep into these stories like idk (I don't know), the dreaded lols, 2night, minimal punctuation and a splattering of emojis.

Wattpad will be curating the stories, with many on the home page already receiving hundreds of thousands of taps (see that - taps not reads!). In the coming weeks the writing functionality will be available to all users.

The app is available globally through the App Store and Google Play Store and people can purchase paid weekly, monthly or yearly subscriptions.

chat story text message Wattpad Tap

text message Tap Wattpad story

It will be interesting to see how this app takes off. Will it be a fad or does it have literary staying power? And will someone be able to come up with the iconic chat story to rival Hemingway's legendary 6-word story - For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

It's yet to be seen. But worth keeping an eye on.

If you'd like to find out more about reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution subscribe to my newsletter here:
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Why Radish fiction is the next big thing

14 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
authors radish fiction

In January this year I was invited to publish my stories on Radish Fiction after someone noticed my stories on Wattpad. Radish is a short-form serialized fiction platform where people make micropayments of roughly 4 cents to unlock each chapter.

I'd previously interviewed Takatsu on this blog and found out about the popularity of cell phone novels in Asia, so I knew a little about the potential for apps like this. While my stories have attracted a big audience on Wattpad, I haven't been able to cash in on those reads. For me, it's been like street art - I've put my stories out there and it's been a gift to those who have discovered it.

So I received this invitation to Radish in my inbox and it sounded interesting. But I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I'm very grateful to Wattpad and I didn't want to start ripping my stories away from that platform on a whim.

Then I remembered a story I'd written early last year called Permission to Touch. I live in a suburb that is rumoured to have been the swinging capital of Australia back in the 1970s. Still, everyone around here seems to know someone who knows someone who is a swinger. (I'm not talking swing dancing, I'm talking the other sort of swinging.)

Anyway, a friend told me a story about someone she knew whose teenage son came home and found a swingers' party going on at his home. And it sparked my imagination ... imagine coming home and finding your parents hosting a swingers party ... that was all I needed to get my fingers flying across the keyboard.

I wrote the story, I was reading Anaïs Nin, so I turned up the heat on those sex scenes, I wove in some ideas about the importance of young females knowing about pleasure - I thought I'd send it out to publishers and agents and people would be all over it.

But ... I have never gotten such quick, harsh rejections for a story in my life. I had one rejection, pretty much 30 seconds after I sent the pitch, basically saying no way, not today, not ever, are you kidding?!

So, this is the story I decided to trial on Radish.

There's 3 pricing models authors can choose from:

  • Premium: where readers pay per chapter to read a story, must be exclusive to Radish and must remain on the site for 3 months after the final chapter is posted.
  • Freemium: readers pay to read the latest chapter now, or wait one week to read it for free.
  • Free: as a way of building an audience.

I went for the Premium model and within a couple of days I was starting to earn coins for my chapters and people were subscribing to the story. A novel that had been widely and brutally rejected was starting to attract readers and, like a miracle, people were paying for it.

Radish has raised $3 million in seed funding from investors including UTA, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and author Amy Tan and have expert advisors such as former Penguin Random House CEO Alberto Vitale. Early financial backers have invested in Uber, Spotify, AirBnB, Dropbox, and other iconic technology companies.

My novel Permission to Touch was accepted into Radish's editorial program and has been professionally proofread - so chapters can be uploaded without the fear of embarrassing typos. And I've just been accepted into the Daily Featured List where the story will get an extra boost through their social media and promotion channels.

Radish genres include Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Teen, Mystery, LGBT, Sci-Fi and General.

Readers can download the app on iOS or Android.

Writers can apply to join the platform here: Writers retain rights to their work published on the site.

You can read 3 chapters of Permission to Touch for free here (try before you buy!): (after that, chapter purchases are dead-easy, one click, in-app payments. Readers can buy bulk coins at a time, the more coins you buy, the cheaper they become ...)

This is my totally hot book cover of Permission to Touch:

Permission to Touch Radish fiction ebook cover

This is my app-friendly image:

Permission to Touch book cover Radish fiction

Subscribe to my blog so I can tell you how to make awesome covers like these in under 10 minutes for absolutely free in my next post!
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How planning your blog and social media better will keep you on track

16 January 2017 / Leave a Comment
epic blog planner create if writing

Confession: I've been a slap-dash blogger. Sure, I've been blogging since 2012, and the National Library of Australia are archiving Out of print writing, but it's been like my stories - I make it up as I go along. I'm a big time pantser, not a plotter.

But I've been listening to Kirsten Oliphant's Create If Writing podcasts and she talks about intentional blogging - like, having a plan for things!

I signed up to her newsletter and got her The Epic Blog Planner & Strategic Goals Guide. The Guide asks you to look at blog and social media stats for the past year, to see what worked and what didn't and then to set goals for the coming year.

It was a great way to reflect on what I've been doing for the last few years with my blogging and social media and to plan better for 2017. Many things have surprised me.

Firstly, according to Google analytics, my blog audience is younger than I would've thought (25-34), and more males than females (55% male, 45% female).

My most popular blog posts have been on topics like how to do #bookstagram on Instagram, best poets on Instagram, publishers publishing novellas.

Going through this process has reminded me that Wattpad has been my most successful platform by far. Shamefully, I've really neglected Wattpad this past year. Perhaps I was receiving sooooo many comments, I began to feel overwhelmed. It was hard keeping up that level of engagement. But now I've realised I'm crazy! I'm hoping to find a home for my YA novels, and where's that YA audience? On Wattpad.

I've recently returned to Wattpad and started engaging again and I've discovered that even though I've neglected that platform, people have still been there reading my stories quietly. Those readers are dedicated, even though I've been a lousy friend.

One of the best things about doing this guide was Kirsten prompts us at the beginning to outline our long-term goal, yearly goal and specific tasks for the yearly goal.

For me, my long-term goal is to write meaningful books that are purchased by a wide audience.

My yearly goal is to prepare two already written books for publication, write a new YA novel, continue to build my author platform, sell more copies of The Replacement Wife, find homes for older stories and develop my youth audience for YA novels. I've further written down specific tasks for how to achieve this.

And then, importantly, at the end of the plan, Kirsten suggests that one does a pie chart. Luckily, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to Excel and I love a visual overview. So here's what I've come up with for the year ...

When someone has so many tasks to complete it's easy to get sidetracked ... but the blue portion of the pie chart reminds me my main goal is to write stories ...

Sign up for Kirsten Oliphant's newsletter and receive The Epic Blog Planner & Strategic Goals Guide

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