Your Creative Life

Your Creative Life


Fiction and freelance writer, Vanessa Carnevale, helps writers and creatives connect to their creativity. Listen in on intimate conversations and insights with writers, authors and creative entrepreneurs, and be uplifted and inspired about the writing process and living a creative life.


Finale Episode #060 Celebrating the launch of Vanessa Carnevale's The Florentine Bridge and Chatting Rural Romance with Cathryn Hein, Author of Wayward Heart  

This week Kim and Vanessa come together in another BONUS episode to celebrate the launch of Vanessa's debut novel, The Florentine Bridge which is now available! After over a year of podcasting, they make the announcement that they will be taking a break from podcasting for the moment to focus on their creative work. As always, they'd love to connect with you further, so be sure to sign up for their respective newsletters (via or and stay in touch via social media!

Kim interviews Vanessa this week about her journey to publication and the inspiration behind The Florentine Bridge, and Vanessa chats with rural romance author Cathryn Hein about her writing journey and her brand new release, Wayward Heart, which is out now!

Vanessa Carnevale

Vanessa Carnevale is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children. In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home. Vanessa is also the host of Your Beautiful Writing Life Retreats. The Florentine Bridge is her first novel.

Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein is a best-selling rural romance and romantic adventure author whose every novel has been an Australian Romance Reader Award finalist. A South Australian country girl by birth, she loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who’s as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don’t flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful. Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

For shownotes visit or 

Bonus Christmas Episode: Rachael Johns and Sunni Overend  

With Christmas just around the corner, we've jam-packed this episode with TWO interviews. First up, we're featuring ABIA Winning Author Rachael Johns, alongside debut novelist, Sunni Overend who is set to make a splash into the writing world with her forthcoming novel, The Dangers of Truffle Hunting.

Read more about our guests here:

  Rachael Johns Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons. A lover of romance and women’s fiction, Rachael loves nothing more than sitting in bed with her laptop and electric blanket and imagining her own stories.

Rachael has finaled in a num­ber of competitions, including the Australian Romance Readers Awards. Jilted (her first rural romance) won Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in 2012 and she was voted in the Top Ten of Booktopia’s Favourite Australian Author poll in 2013. The Patterson Girls won the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Award and also the 2015 Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction.

Rachael lives in the Perth Hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training, two fat cats, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.

  Sunni Overend

Sunni Overend's journey into publishing is not a typical one. From self-publishing her debut novel, March, to landing a two-book deal with HarperCollins, she's done it all. Kim chats to Sunni about what it was like becoming her own publisher before being an offered a contract by one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. They also discuss how Sunni's career as a graphic designer has helped her to create an author brand, making her very appealing to publishers.

Sunni is a graphic design grad, and the daughter of the late, award-winning children's author Jenni Overend. She worked briefly in creative advertising before building an online fashion store and concurrently wrote two women's fiction manuscripts. In 2013 she sold her online store and merged her areas of expertise to self-publish her first novel, March. Sunni lives in Melbourne with her husband.

Sunni's second novel, The Dangers of Truffle Hunting, is out late December 2016.
  For shownotes visit or  
#058 Lauren Sams on Building an Author Platform  

As the year comes to a close, Kim and Vanessa invite another former guest back on the show to check in. This week, Aussie author Lauren Sams returns to the podcast to chat about her latest novel, Crazy Busy Guilty (out early 2017).

Lauren first appeared on Your Creative Life in episode #024 to talk about her debut novel, She's Having Her Baby and the process of writing the sequel. Now that sequel is set to hit shelves and Kim wants to find out what Lauren has discovered since publishing her first novel, including how she has built her author platform.

During the episode, Kim and Vanessa also share what's on the top of the summer holiday reading pile and Vanessa gears up to hold her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge, in her hands for the first time!

For shownotes visit or  

#057 Meet Literary Scout for Film & TV, Kate Loftus-O'Brien  

Ever wondered about how books get optioned for film and TV? Well, this week, Vanessa chats to Kate Loftus-O'Brien, of KLO Scouting about her role as a Literary Scout for the entertainment industry.

She gives listeners a fabulous behind the scenes look at how she finds books on behalf of clients to potentially be optioned and then adapted to screen.

Kim and Vanessa also chat about a brand new online program to help authors with marketing and PR, as well as the positive early reviews coming in for Vanessa's forthcoming debut, The Florentine Bridge, whose release is just around the corner!

For shownotes visit or


#056 Tess Woods is back with a special guest...  

This week on the podcast, we have a special double guest inteview lined up. Many of you will be familiar with Australian women's fiction author, Tess Woods, who Vanessa interviewed a couple of months back. If you haven't already done so, make sure to check out episode 39 for their chat.

Tess is back and this time she is joined by her 14-year-old daughter, Lara Woods, who is also a very talented writer! Lara, along with her brother, Tom, have written and illustrated their first picture book together, Lizzie Reaches the Rainbow. Lara has been doing ballet since she was two years old and she plays piano, guitar and sings in her school choir. She has also been an assistant dance teacher for the past four years. Lara is a passionate writer of Fanfiction and does almost daily nagging for her mum to use her connections so that she can publish an anthology of stories about British YouTubers Dan and Phil - her mum stands by her words of "over my dead body." 

Lizzie Reaches the Rainbow is published as part of the KiddyInks programme, run by WA-based publisher, Serenity Press, profits from each book sold are being donated to Starz Dance, a non-for-profit dance initiative for children with special needs. To find out more, or to buy a copy, click here.

Tess talks about the mammoth promotional tour she has been on since releasing her debut novel, Love at First Flight (HarperCollins). She also discusses contributing to the writing anthology, Writing the Dream (Serenity Press), and reveals details of her second AND third books, as well as news of Writers' Retreat set for 2017. Exciting!

Also in this episode, Vanessa talks about meeting bestselling author, Jodi Picoult, at a Dymocks author event.

To connect with Tess, visit her website, sign up to her newsletter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

For shownotes, visit or

#055 Writing the Dream with Monique Mulligan  

Monique Mulligan, co-owner of Serenity Press, chats to Vanessa this week about Writing the Dream, an anthology of 25 stories by Australian writers that explore each writer's writing and publishing journey.

Also a book reviewer and author, Monique chats about reviewing and writing books, as well as her forthcoming writing retreat to be held in Ireland in 2017.

For shownotes visit or


#054 Michelle Wright a.k.a. the "Queen of Comps"  

Her friends call her the "Queen of Comps" and for good reason too. Michelle Wright's short stories have won several awards including The Age and Alan Marshall Short Story Prizes. They have been published in many Australian and international anthologies and journals. She has been awarded a Writers Victoria Templeberg Fellowship, a Faber Academy scholarship and was a 2015 Laughing Waters Artist-in-Residence. Her short story collection, Fine, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and was published by Allen and Unwin in June, 2016. Her debut novel will be published in 2017.

For shownotes, visit or

#053 Meet USA Today bestselling women's fiction author Kelly Rimmer.  

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today Bestselling author of 6 contemporary women's fiction novels. Her novel "Me Without You" was one of Kindle UK's Books of the Year in 2014, and was the ninth best selling title on Amazon UK overall for the first half of this year. Her books have been translated into over 15 languages.

She has just announced a 3 book deal with new Harlequin imprint Graydon House, with her novel "Before I Let You Go" to be released in North America in early 2018.

Vanessa chats to Kelly about her writing and publishing journey and the rising success of her first traditionally published novel, "Me Without You" after signing with UK digital publishing house, Bookouture. 

For shownotes visit and


#052 Genre Jumping with Toni Jordan  

Toni Jordan's journey into novel writing is about as unconventional as you can get! In this interview, you'll hear all about it as well as why she's chosen to switch genres and how she still struggles to come up with new ideas even with four books behind her.

Toni wrote the international bestseller Addition (2008) - a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick and longlisted for the Miles Franklin award - Fall Girl (2010) and Nine Days (2012), were awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards and named in Kirkus Review’s top 10 Historical Novels of 2013. Toni has also been widely published in newspapers and magazines and teaches creative writing at Faber Academy at Allen & Unwin.

Her latest novel, Our Tiny Useless Hearts, has been described by Liane Moriarty as “a wonderful, witty treat of a novel, both cutting and clever.” It was published in May 2016.

In this week's episode, Kim shares some good news while Vanessa shares some not-so good news. They also discuss what to do when your manuscript is out of your hands and in the hands of someone else, e.g. an agent, publisher or critique partner, and you're stuck waiting.

For shownotes of this episode, visit or

#051Researching and Writing Authentic Settings with Belinda Alexandra  

Belinda Alexandra is the daughter of a Russian mother and an Australian father and has been an intrepid traveller since her youth. Her love of other cultures is matched by her passion for her home country, Australia, where she is a volunteer carer for the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and is a patron of the World League for the Protection of Animals Australia. 

Vanessa chats to Belinda about how she goes about researching her novels and what it takes to write an authentic and believable setting, as well as the role setting can play in shaping a book. With seven books under her belt, including her latest novel, SOUTHERN RUBY, set in 1950s New Orleans and modern day Sydney, Belinda shares some insights into how to effectively write books with dual timelines.

For shownotes visit or

#050 Jane Harper on living every author's dream  

Jane Harper's extraordinary ride to literary stardom is what we're deep diving into on this week's episode. The UK-born, Australian-based author's breakout success with her debut novel, The Dry, has seen her go from newspaper journalist to full-time author in less than a year! It's a fascinatory story and one we can't wait to bring you.

Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years in Australia and the UK before giving up the day job to become a full-time author. The Dry, a thriller set an Aussie rural town, won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015. It's since gone on to achieve phenomenal success with rights sold in more than 20 territories, film rights optioned by Reese Witherspoon's production company, as well as spending considerable time in the bestseller charts. Jane is currently working on her second book, due out in 2017, as part of a three-book deal with Pan Macmillan.

Also on this week's episode, Kim and Vanessa discussthe concept of what a draft is and the emotional rollercoaster many writers go on before typing 'The End.' They also share their tips on how best to prepare for NaNoWriMo, including their own personal experiences of National Novel Writing Month.

For shownotes, you can visit or


#049 Carla Caruso on Freelance Writing & Rom-Com  

This week Vanessa is back from Italy and feeling a tad jet-lagged. She also chats with Carla Caruso, who writes romantic comedy novels, sometimes with a touch of cosy mystery. Previously she worked as a magazine and newspaper journalist, including in Sydney. Heralding from Adelaide, she’s been published by Penguin and HarperCollins. Her books include A Pretty Mess, Catch of the Day, Second Chance, and more. Recently she told a tale online—about a mermaid stuck in the city—via daily Facebook and Instagram posts @mermadelaide for the SA Writers Centre's digital-writer-in-residence program. Carla’s also part of the Seasoned With Romance writers’ group, which put out free eBook anthologies seasonally, including Summer Daze and Winter Heat.

Carla has written several books and talks to us about her career as a journalist and author of fiction. Carla also edits Hearts Talk for the Romance Writers of Australia, and she shares some tips on romance writing in general, too.

To connect with Carla visit or  

For shownotes, you can visit and

#048 Georgia Clark on being an Aussie author in New York  

This week, Georgia Clark joins us on the podcast from New York where she lives and works as author. Her latest novel, The Regulars, was released by Simon & Schuster in August 2016. Described as a saucy, sexy story that’s one part cautionary tale, one part social commentary, and one part screamingly hilarious comedy.

She’s also the author of two young adult novels, Parched, and She's With the Band. Her work has been translated into half a dozen languages. As a freelance writer, Georgia has written for Bust, Cosmo, Daily Life, InStyle and more. A native Sydneysider, Georgia lives in New York with her girlfriend and a fridge full of cheese.

During the episode, Georgia discusses her journey from being a freelance writer in Sydney to becoming a full-time author living in New York. She also talks about switching genres from YA to adult fiction, what inspired her to write The Regulars and her decision to hire a freelance publicist from BookSparks to help promote her book. You can read more about this decision here and on her blog.

Also in this week's episode, Vanessa returns to the podcast via Skype from Italy, where she is has recently wrapped up her writers' retreat. She gives an update on the rest of the retreat, including the valuable coaching sessions she offered the writers. Kim discusses how taking a step back from her work-in-progress and switching her mindset has helped her to refocus her energy. 

For shownotes, you can visit or

#047 Joel Naoum's new consultancy for authors, Critical Mass  


This week, Kim is flying solo in her introduction for the podcast as Vanessa continues her writers' retreat in Italy. At the time of this recording it was pre-NaNoWriMo time and Kim wants to know who is thinking of joining in on National Novel Writing Month this year? Share your NaNoWriMo plans with Kim and Vanessa by reaching out to them via Twitter @kimberleyfoster and @v_carnevale

Their special guest this week is Joel Naoum, a Sydney-based book publisher, editor and consultant. He currently runs Critical Mass, a consultancy for authors and publishers, and previously ran Pan Macmillan Australia's digital-first imprint Momentum. In 2011 he completed the Unwin Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

During Vanessa's chat with Joel, he gives listeners a glimpse into the digital publishing landscape, and what kind of skills self-published authors need. He also talks about factors to consider when deciding to pursue traditional vs. self-publishing.

You can find Joel on Facebook or Twitter, or visit Critical Mass Consulting here.

To follow all of Vanessa's travels around Italy, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

#046 Literary agent Alex Adsett on contracts, advances & more  

This week's episode is a biggie. We start off by coming to you from Italy, where Vanessa is hosting her first ever writers' retreat. During Kim and Vanessa's intro chat, Vanessa talks a little bit about the setting that inspired her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge (out January 2017) and what it was like to meet her agent, Cassie Hanjian in person for the first time. You can listen to her interview with Cassie in a previous episode.

Speaking of agents, Kim had the pleasure of interviewing literary agent, Alex Adsett, who is this week's special guest. Alex is an Aussie agent specialising in genre fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, crime, mystery, and romance. She is also a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers. She has more than eighteen years experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008. Alex represents a select stable of authors including Maria Lewis, Shannon Horsfall, Kylie Chan, and Gary Kemble.

During their discussion, Kim and Alex cover everything from the role of agent and contract advice to some of the common mistakes writers make when approaching an agent for representation. They also go into the reasons why many debut authors in the US have been receiving million-dollar advances in recent years, what makes a book reach 'bestseller' status in Australia and Alex offers her take on the possible changes to the parallel import rules.

You can find out more about Alex's agency at her website, as well as where she'll be appearing via her events page. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

To register for more information on future writers' retreats with Vanessa, visit or to follow all her updates from Italy, check out her Instagram. To connect with Kim, visit her website or Twitter.


#045 Australia's Highest Selling Debut Novelist of 2015, Sally Hepworth  

This week, Vanessa chats with Sally Hepworth, the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives. The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and praised by New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. The Secrets of Midwives was also the highest selling debut Australian fiction of the year in 2015. Sally is also the author of The Things We Keep, published in January this year. The Things We Keep was a Library Journal Pick in the U.S. for January 2016, and an Indie Next Pick in the U.S. for February 2016. NYT bestselling author of The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion praised The Things We Keep calling it ‘A compelling read that touches on important themes, not least the different forms that love may take.” Both of Sally's novels have been published worldwide in English and have been translated into over ten languages.


For shownotes visit or


Episode #044 On Editing with Dianne Blacklock  

If editing is consuming your world right now, then we urge you to take a break and listen to this cracker of an interview with Dianne Blacklock. With nearly 15 years in the book publishing industry, Dianne knows words (like really!) As a successful author in her own right, she now splits her time between writing and editing other people’s novels, including those of Susan Murphy and Tess Woods.

Dianne Blacklock is the author of nine novels of commercial women’s fiction, published both in Australia and overseas. She recently contributed to the 2015 anthology Mothers and Others, and has written for the Daily and Sunday Life on women’s issues. She is also a busy freelance editor, with a focus on debut authors of women’s fiction and romance titles. She’s also besties with Liane Moriarty so we speak a little about her recent success, including Liane’s secret reading habits, and the newsletter she has with Liane and fellow author, Ber Carroll.

During our chat, Dianne covers off everything including how she first got her first book publishing contract (it’s a gem of a story!) to how and why she decided to take the plunge and become an editor. Her knowledge of the industry is vast and she offers a wealth of advice for anyone looking to get professionally edited or self-editing their own manuscripts. It’s a blockbuster of an episode but one worth listening to from start to finish!

For shownotes visit or

#043 A Behind the Scenes Look at the Role of Booksellers with Cheryl Akle of Better Reading  

This week's episode with Cheryl Akle is a gem! Filled with a behind the scenes look at how books find their places on shelves, what's hot in publishing trends, and the role of book clubs. This episode is a true celebration of the magic and wonder of books with a woman who has worked in the world of books and publishing for her entire working life. 

Cheryl Akle has been a book lover since she first read Where the Wild Things Are at the age of five. Years later, Cheryl got her first job working with books at Marrickville Library in Sydney, where she learned first-hand the difference books can make to children’s and even adults’ lives. Cheryl has never looked back and has worked among books ever since. Cheryl has been a store manager and senior buyer for Dymocks, Edels, Dillons in London and Myer book department. She has also owned her own bookshop, The Idle Tank in Sydney’s Bondi. Providing an integrated environment of books, music and internet access, The Idle Tank was one of the city’s first multi-media retail outlets. In 2002 Cheryl moved from book retail to book publishing when she took the position of marketing manager at Random House Australia. There Cheryl worked with some wonderful Australian and international authors, including Nigella Lawson, Judy Nunn, John Grisham, Robbie Williams, Peter Carey and Danielle Steele. She also promoted some fabulous books, including The Da Vinci Code and Almost French. Cheryl managed Get Reading! for 7 years, a government funded initiative, Australia’s largest annual promotion of books and reading. Two years ago she launched Better Reading, a book recommendation website that has a reading community of 90K and an average weekly reach of 300K. In her spare time she reads, cooks and entertains at her home in Petersham, Sydney, where she lives with George and John Brown, her two fluffy white dogs.

You can join the BETTER READING BOOK CLUB LIVE which is live streamed via Facebook on the last Wednesday of every month at 8:00 pm


For shownotes visit or


#042 Mentoring & Teaching with Faber Academy's Kathryn Heyman  

This week, we dive deeper into the world of writing courses with Program Director for Faber Academy, Kathryn Heyman. As an acclaimed novelist, Kathryn spoke with Kim about Allen & Unwin's writing programme and why it continues to produce such amazing talent including authors Michelle Wright, Emma Viskic and Kelly Doust, who guest-starred on episode #038. 

During their chat, Kim talked to Kathryn about her own path to publication, as well as the benefits of signing up for a writing course or a mentorship to help you with your own writing journey. 

#041 Writing Deep and Emotional Books with Karma Brown  

This week Vanessa chats with Karma Brown, award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Come Away With Me, who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, colouring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make is her second novel.

Karma not only shares her journey to publication with us but also shares what it was like to write a book with deep, emotional scenes that cover topics like grief, love and loss.

For shownotes visit: or


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