December 20, 2011 in Dag

The Festival of the Books

Well, all the excitement from the Indie Book Blowout is now calming down. But that’s definitely not the end of the festivities. Because Christmas is not the only festival happening right now. It’s time for Hanukkah, and the Festival of the Books.

For me, it feels like a really good fit for Dag-Lit Central to be participating in a Hanukkah event. The theme of this blog is “Writing that stands out from the crowd.” After all, Hanukkah may be one of the most important events in the Jewish calendar, but growing up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, it wasn’t exactly a well known cultural event. So celebrating Hanukkah instead of Christmas (well more like in addition to Christmas – we were kind of flexible in that way) was definitely something that stood out from the crowd. It was another way to feel a bit different, or special, however you wanted to look at it.

Nowadays, Hanukkah seems pretty mainstream. There are big events in the park every year, and even big Menorahs in the middle of the city. And at my kid’s school, they always sing a few special Hanukkah songs as well as the Christmas Carols. I think it’s great that events like these can become accepted as a major part of society.

So tonight, and every night as we light our candles and remember the events we’re commemorating, I’ll be thinking about what it is that makes us special, and also what it is that brings us all together.

And what better way to celebrate than with some books.

Which leads us to the best bit.

By participating in this event, you get the chance to win. On this blog alone, I have three prizes packs available, featuring both of my ebook novellas:

Doodling – the strange adventures of a man who’s fallen off the world (because it’s moving too fast). Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll. And it was a Goodreads Choice nominee in the humour category
Flidderbugs – a political satire/fable about a bunch of insects with some very odd obsessions. It’s also been getting fantastic reviews from readers

Just leave a comment below. Tell me something about what Hanukkah means to you. Tell me something about what books mean to you. Tell me something about being different or being special. Tell me anything you think of about this wonderful, festive time of the year and you’ll be in the running. Just make sure to leave your email, so I can contact you if you’re a winner. 

But wait – there’s even more prizes to be won 

Check out the blogs of the other participants listed below for more opportunities to win:

Stephanie Abbott writing as Emma Jameson, author of Ice Blue (a cozy mystery): Blog and Twitter. 
Danielle Blanchard, author of Death Wish (paranormal romance): Blog and Twitter.
Justin Dennis, author of Through The Portal (YA fantasy): Blog and Twitter.
Lisa Grace, author of Angel in the Shadows and Angel in the Storm (YA fantasy): Blog and Twitter.
Craig Hansen, author of SHADA (YA thriller): Blog and Twitter.
Larry Kahn, author of The Jinx (thriller) and King of Paine (suspense): Blog and Twitter.
Emily Ann Ward, author of Finding Fiona (YA Sci-Fi) and Passages (YA short stories): Blog and Twitter.

And don’t miss out on the Grand Prize Draw.

Have a very happy Hanukkah, whether it’s something you do every year or something you’ve never even heard about before.

December 14, 2011 in Dag

Indie Book Blowout – Twelve Days of Christmas

Well, we’re now into the final countdown till the arrival of Christmas and the end of the year. But before we get there, there’s one big event, and it’s happening right now.

The Indie Book Blowout – Twelve Days of Christmas is running from December 12 until 24th. Over 100 authors have gotten together to make their books just 99c for the duration of the event. So make sure to peruse the list – there’s sure to be something you’ll like. But that’s not all.

The Indie Book Blowout isn’t just an opportunity to find some terrific books. There are also heaps of chances to win fantastic prizes, including Amazon gift card and a new Kindle. Just check out the information in the site for details on how to enter.

But that’s still not all.

12 authors participating in the Indie Book Blowout are offering you an additional chance to win. Just go to our special prize page to see the books available and enter into the draw to win a Kindle Fire or a $200 Amazon Gift card.

So all the best for the approaching holiday season. Enjoy all of the books on offer, and good luck for the prize draws.

December 11, 2011 in Dag

Guest Post – Darlene Jones

Today I’m delighted to announce another visitor to Dag-Lit Central. Darlene Jones will be talking about her novel, Embattled, and how it stands out from the crowd. So take it away Darlene…

In part, Jonathan Gould defines Dag-Lit as something that: “is hard to fit into a box and likes to find its own space, is full of surprises, but always works out in the end, and is serious, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

It is in the spirit of Dag-Lit that I write the following about my first novel.

You’ve written a book and the first question everyone invariably asks is, “What’s it about?”

“Um… er… it’s…” Who knew defining your work would be harder than writing it? “Well, it’s not a thriller, or a mystery, or a bodice-ripping romance.”


“Sort of.”


“No, no.”

“Vampires? Monsters? Paranormal stuff?”


“Well, what’s it about?” You sense an edge of impatience creeping in.

You frown in thought. How to describe a cross-genre novel? It’s not easy. And where is it written that your creation has to fit some preconceived notion of a novel genre anyway? You take a deep breath and plunge in. “It’s the story of a woman whose life is taken over…” No, that’s not going to cut it.

You try again. “It’s an adventure slash love story with a bit of “soft” sci-fi magic, about a woman who is chosen to “fix” stuff in the world, and about the two men who love her.

Frowns tell you your inquisitive audience doesn’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about. You can’t fit your novel into a “genre” box. It’s a unique mix that works with serious aspects, but a touch of humor too.

Suddenly, inspiration hits. For the men, you say, “sci-fi adventure.” And for the women you say, “love story with a bit of magic.” Then you hope like heck they’ll be curious enough to buy it and hope like heck you’ve written it well enough that they’ll like it, want to buy the whole series, and will tell all their friends about it, word of mouth being an author’s best friend.

EMBATTLED by Darlene Jones
Em sits at her desk, her hands soaked in blood. No wounds, no pain, and no idea where the blood came from. The reds and greens swirling across her computer screen scream jungle battle. She’s certain she was there. Fighting through the jungle to stop a battle, storming into a courtroom to save the accused, facing a firing squad of armed ruffians…
Are her “three wishes” coming true?

And, Yves? He is there to arm her with special powers, to send her into battle, to watch over her. His first assignment as a supreme power is to clean up the mess on Earth without going down there himself. Meeting his superior’s expectations is a huge challenge. Falling in love with Em threatens to ruin everything.

Available from: 


A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart wrenching poverty. My experiences there led to the writing of this story. Some aspects of EMBATTLED reflect my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place—if only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.

I now live on Vancouver Island, Canada and spend winters in Mexico. I write, read, and body board when I’m in Guayabitos. I love my granddaughter, the views of the ocean from my desk, and chocolate, which should be its own food group.

Contact Darlene at:

Her website –
Her blog –
Twitter – @darlenejones47
Facebook –!/djones47

December 4, 2011 in Dag

A great big experiment

Today, a volcano erupted in our backyard.

Nothing too big and frightening. It was actually one of those little science experiment volcanoes, the ones where you mix vinegar and bicarb in a bottle and then watch it fizz out and all around. It was pretty fun. The kids thought it was fantastic (and given I’m just a big kid, I guess that counts for me too).

What basically happened was a chemical reaction. Two ingredients, neither particularly volatile, were mixed together and all of a sudden – foom!

Thinking about this little experiment put me in mind of the business of writing and selling books (I know – what doesn’t?). I’d love to figure out how to get the same sort of reaction for my writing. I wish I could find a way to combine some simple marketing ideas in such a way that they produce a massive explosion of sales, pushing my books way up into the heights of the Amazon rankings.

Oh well – at least it sounds like a pretty good metaphor. And as regular readers will have figured out by now, there’s nothing I like better than a good metaphor. I could go on about how this experiment is a bit like writing in general – how a story is made up of a bunch of different ingredients which combine together to form something exciting and new.

Because, let’s face it, writing is really just one big experiment. We never quite know what we’re doing as we write. And once it’s done, we never know how others will respond to it. That’s both the beauty and frustration of it.

Till next time, hope all your writing experiments produce the reaction you want, and don’t explode in your face.

November 27, 2011 in Dag

A long awaited treat

Last week was a pretty special one. I finally got to fulfill a long-standing ambition. I got to see Cold Chisel play live.

You folk on the other side of the world probably would have no idea what this is about, so I guess I better explain. Cold Chisel are the great Australian rock band. They cut a swathe through the Aussie music world in the late-seventies and early-eighties before self-destructing. In little more than 5 years, they released 5 albums, all gems, and developed a reputation as amazing live performers. All just a little before my time.

Sure they’ve reformed a couple of times previously, but I was never organised enough to take advantage. When I heard they were touring this year (first time since the ’90s), I made sure to score tickets.

And what a night it turned out to be. Things opened with the support act, You Am I. They’re not exactly unknowns – they’ve been around nearly twenty years, hold some sort of record for albums debuting at no. 1 on the Aussie charts, and have toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones. But you could tell that most of the audience was from an older generation and here for the Chisels only. The applause was polite but quiet. Not that that deterred the band who ripped into their set with relish, oblivious to the lack of attention they were receiving.

Then time came for the mighty Chisels. For two hours, they ruled the stage, reeling out hit after hit. Nearly thirty years after their first break-up, it was amazing to hear that the power, the energy, not to mention the musicianship, was all still there. And the crowd lapped it up, singing along to every song.

It was definitely worth the wait.

Three days later, I’m still finding myself breaking into Chisel songs and reliving the experience. What it’s really done is underscore for me the value of the creative life. What this band meant to so many people is quite extraordinary.

I don’t ever expect to be in a position where I can touch anywhere near as many people as Cold Chisel have. But in the short time I’ve been putting my books out, I’m amazed at how the creative act of writing and putting out a book can enable connection with other people.

And You Am I also inspired me. They showed me that even if you’re not getting the appreciation you deserve, it should never stop you going out, doing your best, and loving what you do. Because part of the joy of being creative is the act of creation itself.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ll keep working at getting my writing out because that’s what I love to do. And at those moments when I do get a response, and do make a connection with another reader, then that will just make it doubly special.

And I can’t finish this post any other way than posting up a clip from the concert. This is Cold Chisel in intimate acoustic mode doing one of their classics, When the War is Over. If I can win a few more fans for this great band, especially from outside Australia, then I’ll feel that I’ve done something worthwhile. So enjoy.