Your Creative Genius & Fuel – ADMA Conference 6 August 2015

CC Pink

Hi Everyone,

I was invited to attend ADMA’s Festival of Marketing, Media, Analytics and Advertising, which I was very thankful for. So on Thursday 6 August I attended the Creative Fuel Conference at the Seymour Centre at Sydney University. It was held in a huge auditorium after an appetising breakfast and in four consecutive blocks with grouped speakers.

The first block consisted of Billy Sorrentino, the Creative Director of WIRED – and what was drilled into us was that WIRED is not a magazine, it’s a design, with good evidence to back it up, of course. He talked about the design being influenced by Dieter Rams, a design guru that inspired content design. He mentioned 10 basic principles we should have about good design:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. It’s aesthetic
  4. Makes it understandable
  5. Is unobtrusive and not invisible
  6. Is honest
  7. Is long-lasting
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail
  9. Is environmentally friendly
  10. Has little design as possible

And this fantastic catch phrase: design is an experience and not an image! I’ll never look at a magazine ever the same again! Sorrentino also talked about giving a new experience to the audience, and adding value – and that’s where from print publication we have the fantastic and multiple dimensions of the digital online world. Design becomes a philosophy instead of an execution where images, iconography and typography would not create a sense of hierarchy, insead, the scalability of things can be changed around constantly, every minute of the day, and each time, create a new experience for the audience. He also talked about creative thinkers coming together and comparing processes and learning from each other. This idea reminds me of my Big History unit I did in my third year of my BA degree where David Christian talked about humankind being innovative thinkers and that by collaborating together, we exchange networks of knowledge to one another and it’s called collective learning. This world system was shown profoundly well with WIRED’s March 2015 Issue about Sex in the Digital Age, where they had to rethink the design of the cover to make it engaging, not too raunchy, not medically sage, and yet educational. And they came up with this.

Brilliant isn’t it? So design, after all this, is about making an experience, and if we are right and pure about it, then it’s for everyone, thus making it relatable and marketable and worthy.

And then there was Graeme Simsion, the author of The Rosie Project (which I’m aiming to read!) and his partner, Dr Anne Buist, the author of Medea’s Curse who talked next. They were a lovely couple reclining on comfortable sofas and talking about the creative genius, conception, development, progression, and publication of their novels. They gave terrific advice about making writing a routine, always writing a first draft by never stopping (you can go back to fix mistakes later, just get it out of your head and onto the page), and to always think about the reader and the emotions you want to play with – using intensity, suspense, prolonging, foreboding and so on. All of their advice was useful, however, I already knew about these tips from studying creative writing, and it was just beautiful music to my ears. Although, I loved it when they spoke about that there’s a lot of discipline in writing, and that with writers, our creative process is to plan the book, and think, write, and let it incubate. Love that word, incubate, like mother hens sitting on their eggs, waiting for their darlings to hatch. And last of all, that of course no idea is original anymore, however, if you put Idea A and Idea B together, you have something unique! So keep that in mind.

There were some other great speakers as well, like Vin Farrell, the Global Chief Content Officer of Havas Worldwide, who spoke about capturing an experience on your Instagram using your iPhone and how it can build a business. Our iPhones are tools. Then there was Tania De Jong, Founder and CEO of Creative Universe of Creativity Australia, who talked about that every human being is creative, even if they don’t believe it. If you can problem solve, that means you’re creative, you’re using your creative tool box – what an eye opener and simple way to think about things! And then she talked about how creativity leads to improved wellbeing, social inclusion, innovation, leadership, productivity and transformation – so I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job with my writing then. And the last thing she said was that we all need to use our creative voice.

IMG_0818Then there was Andrew Evans, Product Designer and Magician of IDEO, and his spectacular magic tricks and using a metaphor to tell us how magicians create impossible moments on a stage, which is what designers do too, they create impossible experiences in the world. And I can’t forget to mention David Shing, Digital Prophet of AOL, who spoke so brilliantly and fast that I was typing like a maniac to keep up with him and his amazing mind. He just kept going and going – nonstop, faster and faster about technology, content distribution, consumer ownership – how technology helps gives us control, digital alliance with the physical product, how marketing always follows audiences, how culture and code together gives us creativity, and that whenever you are going to fail in life, which we will all come across, fail forward – and that if you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!

Wow – what a miraculous day about the creative genius and harnessing your creative fuel. A huge inspiration and insight into the world of business, marketing, technology and advertising. A clear and clever day to get me motivated and writing.

Till next time,

Writerly Update, August

Hi Everyone,

Wow, I didn’t realise that I haven’t written a writerly update since January! I have been reading and researching contemporary YA novels for my creative thesis from last year. I have currently finished the 2nd draft of my YA contemporary novel that I had started for my Manuscript Project. I’m at the moment undergoing a structural edit of the 100,000 word manuscript and then I’ll need to copy-edit and proof read it in the following weeks. I’m really pleased with the development and exploration of my characters and the contemporary themes in the novel. I just need to get it finished before the 14th of September so that I can submit it to the Ampersand Project by Hardie Grant Egmont. It’s going to be a challenge but I’ve been working on it for the past 2 months and I know I can get it done. It’s going to be such a nice feeling to know that the novel is finally finished after 6 years since its conception.

Also, I wanted to share with you that I was featured on the MQ Faces of the Arts activity on Facebook back in June. It’s an honour to be featured as one of MQ’s Arts’ students showcasing my interests and achievements.

Best wishes,

A Call to Fellow Writers – Comments on Literary Agent Carrie Pestritto’s Query Critique of my YA Historical Novel

Hi Everyone,

It’s be been a long time since I wrote on my blog, so my sincere apologies – I’ve been really busy job hunting and writing my contemporary YA novel and actively sending out queries (over 60) to literary agents in the US and UK since October 2014 for my YA historical novel – and it’s been such a roller coaster ride.

I have some fantastic news to share. I entered into a query critique competition on Carrie Pestritto’s literary agent blog, she’s an agent at Prospect Agency, and I won the query critique for that month.

I would like to ask all of my blogging friends and fellow writers to click over to her blog and comment on her critique of my query and also welcome your own critiques and advice on my query letter. It’s been a tough road – I’ve been querying agents since October last year and finally now I have been able to get an excellent critique on where I need to change my query. It’s been a challenge to find agents who want to represent YA historical fiction writers and I’ve had 2 nibbles of agents being interested, but nothing has changed.

Hopefully now I’m on the right track!

So please click on over to her blog and spread the word – any feedback to help a fellow writer would be much appreciated.

Kindest regards,

Second Author Interview – Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Photograph of Vicky by Vania Stoyanova

Hi Everyone,

I had the pleasure for my second author interview to be with Vicky Alvear Shecter, a YA historical fiction, and middle grade mythology and biography writer who I admire in publishing her ancient history YA historical novels – Cleopatra’s Moon published in 2013 and Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii published in 2014. She answered 20 Questions I had about her writing, her book about Pompeii, her characters, and about YA historical novels and the publishing market.

A huge thank you once again to Vicky for her contribution.

And you can check out the Author Interview on the Interview category on my blog here.

Best wishes,

Second Archaeologist Interview: Dr Dora Katsonopoulou about The Helike Project

dora_kapelloHi Everyone,

I had the pleasure to interview Dr Dora Katsonopoulou, the Director of The Helike Project, and President of The Helike Society based in Achaea, Greece. She is an archaeologist, a researcher, a consultant of international research programs and Board member of scientific Institutes and Organisations, a guest lecturer at Universities and Institutions, and she has organised four International Conferences on Ancient Helike and Aigialeia. She is the Leader of excavations conducted at Helike near Aigio since 2000. I contacted Dora in February 2013 and asked if she could cite my short story, Helike, on the Helike Project’s website to help promote their work and the awareness and significance of the project and archaeological digs, but also for modern people to be educated, to relate to the history of Helike, and to place faces and names to the Greek citizens who were part of the tragedy when the town was lost in history, and lastly, for modern people to have empathetic understanding. My short story is about the destruction of Helike from the perspective of one of its citizens that I created, Alethea. Dora answered 15 Questions I had about her work directing and organising the project, the purpose of the project, and its aims for the future. This is an interview to commemorate her hard work since 1988.

A huge thank you once again to Dora for her contribution.

You can check out the Archaeologist Interview on the Interview category on my blog here.

Best wishes,

The Quarry – Issue #6 is live!

TheShipDiscoveryFINALEDITHi Everyone,

Since February 2015 I’ve been the Editor-in-Chief of The Quarry Issue #6 for Macquarie University’s English Department’s e-journal, that I was the editor of Issue #4 in 2014. I’m excited to announce that Issue #6 is published and ready to read online. Enjoy the creative works of the postgraduate students with the cohesive theme and common thread of discovery.


It has been a pleasure working with all the fantastic Editors, Ally Bodnaruk, Willo Drummond, Tamara Pratt, and the Web Designers, Tenzin Bereny and Josh McInnes, and the Illustrator, Maxine Sundic (aka Maxine Mars) for this postgraduate issue.

Also, another one of my historical fiction short stories has been published with this issue, titled “Gold Drachmas“. More about this short story will be on its official Short Story – Golden Drachmas Page on my website.

Link to The Quarry Issue #6.



A Call To Fellow Writers – Support and Assistance for the YA C1Blitz Competition

To My Fellow YA Writers,

I’m participating in the C1Blitz competition by Freshly Squeezed Reads, however, my first chapter has been flagged as mature content and requires volunteer critiques now as I’m not eligible for teen reviews and my chapter will not be available for general viewing.

More information is down below to support my participation in this competition.

Request for assistance with stories with New Adult rated content from Administrators of Freshly Squeezed Reads.

We’ve been fortunate to get a number of schools involved in the teen critiques, however, the needs of these schools have derailed some of our plans and excluded a handful of entries from the teen review process, essentially stories which contain mature content and straddle the YA/New Adult categories. Those authors will be short on teen reviews and not eligible for this category and the entries won’t be available for general viewing. As a result, we are asking for help.

If you are willing to do a voluntary critique on any of these works, or know an older teen (17, 18, 19) who is comfortable with mature references (such as drugs, underage drinking, violence or suicide) and happy to do one, email, and we will email you the content. You can return your critique by email.

The YA/NA stories available by email are: Amaranthos (contemporary, male main character), Tumble (contemporary, female main character), People and Other Breakable Things (contemporary, male main character), Ocean of Dreams (fantasy, male main character).

Thank you for your help guys!





First Archaeologist Interview: Dr Stavros Vlizos about The Amyklaion: Amykles Research Project

Stavros Vlizos on the steps of the altarHi Everyone,

I had the pleasure to interview Dr Stavros Vlizos, the Assistant Director of The Amyklaion: Amykles Research Project. He is an archaeologist, a researcher and lecturer at the Ionian University in Corfu. I contacted Stavros in March 2014 and asked if he could cite my short story, Taras’ Parthenians on the Amyklaion’s website to help promote their work and the awareness of the sanctuary of the Amyklaion to the general public. In my short story the main scene of rebellion between the Parthenians against the Spartans took place at the sanctuary of the Amyklaion. Stavros answered 15 Questions I had about his work directing and organising the project, the purpose of the project, and its aims for the future. This is an interview to commemorate his hard work.

A huge thank you once again to Stavros for his contribution.

You can check out the Archaeologist Interview on the Interview category on my blog here.

Best wishes,

The Digital Writers’ Festival & LIVE C1Blitz Teen Review Panel – My YA Novel: Amaranthos

Hi Everyone,

I had the fantastic opportunity as an early bird entrant for the Chapter One Blitz 2015 competition, on the 22nd of February, to have the first chapter of my contemporary YA novel, Amaranthos, with one of my two main characters, Thanos, to be critiqued during the LIVE C1Blitz Teen Review Panel as part of the Digital Writers’ Festival, along with my friend from uni, Ally Bodnaruk’s YA novel, Shattering, who told me about this fantastic competition and event.

You can watch the whole LIVE Teen Review Panel critiquing other entrants work, and you can also fast forward to the time 1:32:25 to listen specifically to my feedback. It was an amazing experience to have passionate YA readers react to your work and love your main character – especially when I worked on this book throughout last year as part of my creative thesis. I forgot to mention that this was a partial first chapter which would explain the ending. And I knew that the amount of swearing in the chapter would perhaps be a problem. Other than that, I was so excited to hear that the two reviewers, Harry and Roshni, found my character relatable, felt connected to him, and wanted to read more – that’s every writer’s dream! And to top it off Harry said that this was his favourite piece, that he found the chapter authentic, and that he felt bad for Thanos and his situation. Listening to them review my work was just as nerve-wracking as my sister’s wedding (literally the day before) when I was her Maid of Honour! But it’s all been great and such a busy weekend.

I cannot wait to start critiquing other entrants’ work on the 6th of March when the chapters become available to the public.

I’ll update you again then.

All the best,